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´╗┐Title: A Letter of Credit
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 "A Letter of Credit" ***

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



Susan Warner (1819-1885), A letter of credit (1881), 1882 edition



Note from the transcriber: a very important text for the study of 
Susan Warner's "Queechy". 



THE LETTER OF CREDIT. 



_BY THE AUTHOR OF "WILD, WILD WORLD_."


I. THE END OF A COIL. 12mo. $1.75. 


"Miss Warner has added another pure and beautiful picture to the gallery 
that has given so much pleasure to such great numbers. All her pictures 
are bright and warm with the blessedness of true love and true religion. 
We do not wonder that they receive so wide a welcome, and we wish 
sincerely that only such stories were ever written."--_N. Y. Observer_. 


II. MY DESIRE. 12mo. $1.75. 


"Miss Warner possesses in a remarkable degree the power of vividly 
describing New England village life, the power of making her village 
people walk and talk for the benefit of her readers in all the freshness 
of their clear-cut originality. She has an ample fund of humor, a keen 
sense of the ridiculous, and a rare faculty of painting homely truths in 
homely but singularly felicitous phrases."--_Philadelphia Times_. 


III. THE LETTER OF CREDIT. 12mo. $1.75. 


IV. PINE NEEDLES. A Tale. 12mo. $1.50. 


V. THE OLD HELMET. A Tale. 12mo. $2.25. 


VI. MELBOURNE HOUSE. A Tale. 12mo. $2.00. 


VII. THE KING'S PEOPLE. 5 vols. $7.00. 


VIII. THE SAY AND DO SERIES. 6 vols. $7.50. 


IX. A STORY OF SMALL BEGINNINGS. 4 vols. $5.00.



_By Miss Anna Warner_.



THE BLUE FLAG AND THE CLOTH OF GOLD $1.25 


STORIES OF VINEGAR HILL 3 vols. 3.00 


ELLEN MONTGOMERY'S BOOKSHELF 5 vols. 5.00 


LITTLE JACK'S FOUR LESSONS 2.50



ROBERT CARTER AND BROTHERS, 

NEW YORK. 



THE 


LETTER OF CREDIT. 



BY THE AUTHOR OF 

"THE WIDE, WIDE WORLD." 

 



   ...."The bewildering masquerade of life, 
   Where strangers walk as friends, and friends as strangers." 
LONGFELLOW. 



NEW YORK: 
ROBERT CARTER AND BROTHERS, 

530 BROADWAY. 
1882. 



Copyright, 1881, 
BY ROBERT CARTER & BROTHERS. 



CAMBRIDGE: PRESS OF JOHN WILSON AND SON.


ST. JOHNLAND STEREOTYPE FOUNDRY, SUFFOLK CO., N. Y. 



_NOTE. 


The following story, like its predecessors, "The End of a Coil," "My 
Desire," and "Diana," is a record of facts. For the characters and the 
coloring, of course, I am responsible; but the turns of the story, even 
in detail, are almost all utterly true. 


S. W. 


Martlaer's Rock, 
Sept. 12, 1881_. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAP. 


I. THE LETTER  


II. MOVING  


III. JANE STREET 


IV. A VISITER 


V. PRIVATE TUITION 


VI. A LEGACY 


VII. MENTAL PHILOSOPHY 


VIII. STATEN ISLAND 


IX. FORT WASHINGTON 


X. L'HOMME PROPOSE 


XI. MRS. BUSBY 


XII. MRS. BUSBY'S HOUSE 


XIII. NOT DRESSED 


XIV. IN SECLUSION  


XV. MRS. MOWBRAY  


XVI. SCHOOL  


XVII. BAGS AND BIBLES 


XVIII. FLINT AND STEEL  


XIX. A NEW DEPARTURE 


XX. STOCKINGS 


XXI. EDUCATION


XXII. A CHANGE 


XXIII. TANFIELD 


XXIV. THE PURCELLS 


XXV. ROTHA'S REFUGE 


XXVI. ROTHA'S WORK  


XXVII. INQUIRIES  


XXVIII. DISCOVERIES 


XXIX. PERPLEXITIES 


XXX. DOWN HILL 


XXXI. DISCUSSIONS


XXXII. END OF SCHOOL TERM



THE LETTER OF CREDIT. 



CHAPTER I. 


THE LETTER. 


"Mother, I wonder how people do, when they are going to write a book?" 

"Do?" repeated her mother. 

"Yes. I wonder how they begin." 

"I suppose they have something to tell; and then they tell it," said 
simple Mrs. Carpenter. 

"No, no, but I mean a story." 

"What story have you got there?" 

The mother was shelling peas; the daughter, a girl of twelve years old 
perhaps, was sitting on the floor at her feet, with an octavo volume in 
her lap. The floor was clean enough to sit upon; clean enough almost to 
eat off; it was the floor of the kitchen of a country farmhouse. 

"This is the 'Talisman,'" the girl answered her mother's question. "O 
mother, when I am old enough, I should like to write stories!" 

"Why?" 

"I should think it would be so nice. Why, mother, one could imagine 
oneself anything." 

"Could you?" said her mother. "I never imagined myself anything but what 
I was." 

"Ah, but perhaps you and I are different." 

Which was undoubtedly the fact, as any stander by might have seen with 
half an eye. Good types both of them, too. The mother fair, delicate 
featured, with sweet womanly eyes, must have been exceedingly pretty in 
her young days; she was pretty now; but the face shewed traces of care 
and was worn with life-work. While she talked and now and then looked at 
her daughter, her fingers were untiringly busy with the peas and peas 
pods and never paused for a minute. The girl on the floor did not look 
like her mother. She was dark eyed and dark haired; with a dark 
complexion too, which at present was not fine; and the eyes, large and 
handsome eyes, revealed a fire and intensity and mobility of nature which 
was very diverse from the woman's gentle strength. Mrs. Carpenter might 
be intense too, after her fashion; but it was the fashion of the 
proverbial still waters that run deep. And I do not mean that there was 
any shallowness about the girl's nature; though assuredly the placidity 
would be wanting. 

"I wish your father would forbid you to read stories," Mrs. Carpenter 
went on. 

"Why, mother?" 

"I don't believe they are good for you." 

"But what harm should they do me?" 

"Life is not a story. I don't want you to think it is." 

"Why shouldn't it be? Perhaps my life will be a story, mother. I think it 
will," said the girl slowly. "I shouldn't want my life to be always like 
this." 

"Are you not happy?" 

"O yes, mother! But then, by and by, I should like to be a princess, or 
to have adventures, and see things; like the people in stories." 

"You will never be a princess, my child. You are a poor farmer's 
daughter. You had better make up your mind to it, and try to be the best 
thing you can in the circumstances." 

"You mean, do my duty and shell peas?" asked the girl somewhat 
doubtfully, looking at her mother's fingers and the quick stripped pea 
pods passing through them. "Is father poor, mother?" 

"Yes." 

"He has a good farm, he says." 

"Yes, but it is encumbered heavily." And Mrs. Carpenter sighed. Rotha had 
often heard her mother sigh so. It was a breath with a burden. 

"I don't know what you mean by 'encumbered.'" 

"It is not needful you should know, just yet." 

"But I should like to know, mother. Won't you tell me?" 

"It is heavily mortgaged. And _that_ you do not understand. Never mind. He 
has a great deal of money to pay out for it every year the interest on 
the mortgages and that keeps us poor." 

"Why must he pay it?" 

"Because the farm is pledged for the debt; and if the interest, this 
yearly money, were not paid, the farm itself would go." 

"Go? How?" 

"Be sold. For the money due on it." 

There was silence awhile, during which only the pea pods rustled and 
fell; then the girl asked, 

"What should we do then, mother, if the farm was sold?" 

"I do not know." The words came faint. 

"Does it trouble you, mother?" 

"It need not trouble you, Rotha. It cannot happen unless the Lord will; 
and that is enough. Now you may carry these pea pods out and give them to 
the pigs." 

"Mother," said Rotha as she slowly rose and laid away her book, "all you 
say makes me wish more than ever that I were a princess, or something." 

"You may be _something_," said Mrs. Carpenter laughing slightly, but with  
a very sweet merriment. "Now take away this basket." 

Rotha stooped for the basket, and then stood still, looking out of the 
window. Across the intervening piece of kitchen garden, rows of peas and 
tufts of asparagus greenery, her eye went to the road, where a buggy had 
just stopped. 

"Maybe something is going to happen now," she said. "Who is that, mother? 
There is somebody getting out of a wagon and tying his horse;--now he is 
coming in. It is 'Siah Barker, mother." 

Mrs. Carpenter paused to look out of the window, and then hastily 
throwing her peas into the pot of boiling water, went herself to the 
door. A young countryman met her there, with a whip in his hand. 

"Mornin', Mis' Carpenter. Kin you help the distressed?" 

"What's the matter, 'Siah?" 

"Shot if I know; but he's took pretty bad." 

"Who, pray?" 

"Wall, I skurce can tell that. He's an Englisher--come to our place this 
mornin' and axed fur a horse and wagon to carry him to Rochester; and 
he's got so fur,--that's two miles o' the way,--and he can't go no furder, 
I guess. He's took powerful bad." 

"Ill, is he?" 

"Says so. And he looks it." 

"Cannot go on to Rochester?  

"It's fifteen mile, Mis' Carpenter. I wouldn't like to be the man to 
drive him. He can't go another foot, he says. He was took quite sudden." 

"Cannot you turn about and carry him back to Medwayville?" 

"Now, Mis' Carpenter, you're a Christian, and a soft-hearted one, we all 
know. Can't you let him come in and rest a bit? Mebbe you could give him 
sunthin' that would set him up. You understand doctorin', fust-rate." 

Mrs. Carpenter looked grave, considered. 

"Is this your idea, or the stranger's, 'Siah?" 

"It's his'n, ef it's anybody's in partickler. He told me to set him down 
some'eres, for he couldn't hold out to go on nohow; and then he seed this 
house, and he made me stop. He's a sick man, I tell you." 

"What's the matter with him?" 

"Wall, it's sunthin' in his insides, I guess. He don't say nothin', but 
he gits as white as a piece o' chalk, and then purple arter it." 

Mrs. Carpenter made no more delay, but bade 'Siah fetch the sick man in; 
and herself hastily threw open the windows of the "spare room" and put 
sheets on the bed. She had time for all her preparations, for the 
bringing the stranger to the house was a work of some difficulty, and not 
accomplished without the help of one of the hired men about the farm. 
When he came, he was far too ill to give any account of himself; his 
dress proclaimed him a well-to-do man, and belonging to the better 
classes; that was all they knew. 

As Mrs. Carpenter came out from seeing the stranger put to bed in the 
spare room, her husband came in from the field. An intellectual looking 
man, in spite of his farmer's dress, and handsome; but thin, worn, with 
an undue flush on his cheek, and a cough that sounded hollow. He was very 
like his little daughter, who instantly laid hold of him. 

"Father, father! something has happened. Guess what. There's a sick man 
stopped here, and he is in the spare room, and we don't know the least 
bit who he is; only 'Siah Barker said he was English, or an 'Englisher,' 
he said. We don't know a bit who he is; and his clothes are very nice, 
like a gentleman, and his valise is a beautiful, handsome leather one." 

"You use rather more adjectives than necessary, Rotha." 

"But, father, that is something to happen, isn't it?" 

"You speak as if you were glad of it." 

"I am not glad the man is sick. I am just glad to have something happen. 
Things never do happen here." 

"I am afraid your mother will hardly feel as much pleased as you do. Is 
the man very ill, Eunice?" 

"I think so. He is too ill to tell how he feels." 

"He may be on your hands then for a day or two." 

"He may for more than that." 

"How can you manage?" said Mr. Carpenter, looking anxiously at the sweet 
face which already bore such lines of care, and was so work-worn. 

"I don't know. I shall find out," Mrs. Carpenter answered as she was 
dishing the dinner. "The Lord seems to have given me this to do; and he 
knows. I guess, what he gives me to do, I can do." 

"I don't see how you can say that, mother," Rotha put in here. 

"What?" 

"This man was taken sick on the road, and happened to come in here. How 
can you say, the Lord gave him to you to take care of?" 

"Nothing 'happens,' Rotha. Suppose his sickness had come on a little 
sooner, or a little later? why was it just here that he found he could go 
no further?" 

"Do you suppose there was any 'why' about it?" 

Father and mother both smiled; the father answered. 

"Do you suppose I would plough a field, without meaning to get any fruit 
from it." 

"No, father." 

"Neither does the Lord, my child." 

Rotha pondered the subject, and had occasion to ponder it more as the 
days went on. She found she had some share in the consequences of this 
"happening"; more dishes to wash, and more sweeping and dusting, and 
churning, and setting of tables, and cleaning of vegetables; and she 
quite ceased to be glad that something had come to them out of the common 
run of affairs. For several days her mother was much engaged in the care 
of the sick man, and put all she could of the housework upon Rotha's 
hands; the nursing kept herself very busy. The sickness was at first 
severe; and then the mending was gradual; so that it was full two weeks 
before the stranger could leave his room. Mrs. Carpenter had no servant 
in the house; she did everything for him with her own hands; and with as 
much care and tenderness and exactness it was done as if the sick man had 
been a dear friend. By day and by night; nothing failed him; and so, in 
about two weeks, he was healed and had only his weakness to recover from. 
Mrs. Carpenter often looked tired and pale during those weeks, but 
cheerfulness and courage never gave out. 

"I have learned something," she said one day at dinner, as the two weeks 
were ended. 

"What is that?" her husband asked. 

"The name of our guest." 

"Well who is he?" 

"He is English; his name is Southwode. He came to America on business two 
months ago; to New York; then found it was needful for him to see some 
people in Rochester; and was on his way when he was taken ill at our 
door." 

"That's all?" 

"Pretty much all. He is not much of a talker. I never found out so much 
till to-day." 

"It is quite enough. I suppose he will go on to Rochester now?" 

"Not for two or three days yet, Liph; he is very weak; but I guess we 
will have him out to supper with us this evening. You may put a glass of 
roses on the table, Rotha, and make it look very nice. And set the table 
in the hall." 

Unlike most of its kind, this farmhouse had a wide hall running through 
the middle of it. Probably it had been built originally for somewhat 
different occupation. At any rate, the hall served as a great comfort to 
Mrs. Carpenter in the summer season, enabling her to get out of the hot 
kitchen, without opening her best room, the "parlour." 

It was a pretty enough view that greeted the stranger here, when he was 
called to supper and crept out of his sick room. Doors stood open at 
front and rear of the house, letting the breeze play through. It brought 
the odours of the new hay and the shorn grass, mingled with the breath of 
roses. Roses were on the table too; a great glass full of them; not 
skilfully arranged, certainly, but heavy with sweetness and lovely in 
various hues of red and blush white. A special comfortable chair was 
placed for him, and a supper served with which an epicure could have 
found no fault. Mrs. Carpenter's bread was of the lightest and whitest; 
the butter was as if the cows had been eating roses; the cold ham was 
cured after an old receipt, and tender and juicy and savoury to suit any 
fastidious appetite; and there were big golden raspberries, and cream 
almost as golden. Out of doors, the eye saw green fields, with an elm 
standing here and there; and on one side, a bit of the kitchen garden. 
Mr. Southwode was a silent man, at least he was certainly silent here; 
but he was observant; and his looks went quietly from one thing to 
another, taking it all in. Perhaps the combination was strange to him and 
gave him matter for study. There was conversation too, as the meal went 
on, which occupied his ears, though he could hardly be said to take an 
active part in it. His host made kind efforts for his entertainment; and 
Rotha and her father had always something to discuss. Mr. Southwode 
listened. It was not the sort of talk he expected to hear in a farmhouse. 
The girl was full of intelligence, the father quite able to meet her, and 
evidently doing it with delight; the questions they talked about were 
worthy the trouble; and while on the one hand there was keen 
inquisitiveness and natural acumen, on the other there was knowledge and 
the habit of thought and ease of expression. Mr. Southwode listened, and 
now and then let his eye go over to the fair, placid, matronly face at 
the head of the table. Mrs. Carpenter did not talk much; yet he saw that 
she understood. And more; he saw that in both father and mother there was 
culture and literary taste and literary knowledge. Yet she did her own 
work, and he came in to-day in his shirt sleeves from the mowing of his 
own fields. Mr. Southwode drew conclusions, partly false perhaps, but 
partly true. He thought these people had seen what are called better 
days; he was sure that they were going through more or less of a struggle 
now. Moreover, he saw that the farmer was not strong in body or sound in 
health, and he perceived that the farmer's wife knew it. 

The supper ended, a new scene opened for his consideration. With quick 
and skilful hands the mother and daughter cleared the table, carrying the 
things into the kitchen. Rotha brought a Bible and laid it before her 
father; and mother and daughter resumed their seats. Mr. Carpenter read a 
chapter, like a man who both knew and loved it; and then, a book being 
given to the stranger, the other three set up a hymn. There was neither 
formality nor difficulty; as the one had read, so they all sang, as if 
they loved it. The voices were not remarkable; what was remarkable, to 
the guest, was the sweet intonations and the peculiar _appropriation_ with 
which the song was sung. It was a very common hymn, 

   "Jesus, I love thy charming name, 
   'Tis music to my ear;"--


And Mr. Southwode noticed a thing which greatly stirred his curiosity. As 
the singing went on, the lines of those careworn faces relaxed; Mrs. 
Carpenter's brow lost its shadow, her husband's face wore an incipient 
smile; it was quite plain that both of them had laid down for the moment 
the burden which it was also quite plain they carried at other times. 
What had become of it? and what power had unloosed them from it? Not the 
abstract love of music, certainly; though the melody which they sang was 
sweet, and the notes floated out upon the evening air with a kind of 
grave joy. So as the summer breeze was wafted in. There was a harmony, 
somehow, between the outer world and this little inner world, for the 
time, which moved Mr. Southwode strangely, though he could not at all 
understand it. He made no remark when the service was over, either upon 
that or upon any other subject. Of course the service ended with a 
prayer. Not a long one; and as it was in the reading and singing, so in 
this; every word was simply said and meant. So evidently, that the 
stranger was singularly impressed with the reality of the whole thing, as 
contradistinguished from all formal or merely duty work, and as being a 
matter of enjoyment to those engaged in it. 

He had several occasions for renewing his observations; for Mr. 
Southwode's condition of weakness detained him yet several days at the 
farm-house. He established for himself during this interval the character 
he had gained of a silent man; however, one afternoon he broke through 
his habit and spoke. It was the day before he intended to continue his 
journey. Rotha had gone to the field with her father, to have some fun in 
the hay; Mr. Southwode and Mrs. Carpenter sat together in the wide 
farmhouse hall. The day being very warm, they had come to the coolest 
place they could find. Mrs. Carpenter was busy with mending clothes; her 
guest for some time sat idly watching her; admiring, as he had done often 
already, the calm, sweet strength of this woman's face. What a beauty she 
must have been once, he thought; all the lines were finely drawn and 
delicate; and the soul that looked forth of them was refined by nature 
and purified by patience. Mr. Southwode had something to say to her this 
afternoon, and did not know how to begin. 

"Your husband seems to have a fine farm here," he remarked. 

"It is, I believe," Mrs. Carpenter answered, without lifting her eyes 
from her darning. 

"He took me over some of his ground this morning. He knows what to do 
with it, too. It is in good order." 

"It would be in good order, if my husband had his full strength." 

"Yes. I am sorry to see he has not." 

"Did he say anything to you about it?" the wife enquired presently, with 
a smothered apprehensiveness which touched her companion. He answered 
however indifferently in the negative. 

"I don't like his cough, though," he went on after a little interval. 
"Have you had advice for him?" 

There was a startled look of pain in the eyes which again met him, and 
the lips closed upon one another a little more firmly. They always had a 
firm though soft set, and the corners of the mouth told of long and 
patient endurance. Now the face told of another stab of pain, met and 
borne. 

"He would not call in anybody," she said faintly. 

That was not what Mr. Southwode had meant to talk about, though closely 
connected with the subject of his thoughts. He would try again. 

"I owe you a great debt of gratitude, Mrs. Carpenter," he said after a 
long enough pause had ensued, and beginning on another side. "I presume 
you have saved my life." 

"I am very glad we have been able to do anything," she said quietly. 
"There is no need of thanks." 

"But I must speak them, or I should not deserve to live. It astonishes 
me, how you should be so kind to an entire stranger." 

"That's why you needed it," she said with a pleasant smile. 

"Yes, yes, my need is one thing; that was plain enough; but if everybody 
took care of other people's needs--Why, you have done everything for me, 
night and day, Mrs. Carpenter. You have not spared yourself in the least; 
and I have given a deal of trouble." 

"I did not think it trouble," she said in the same way. "There is no need 
to say anything about it." 

"Excuse me; I must say something, or earn my own contempt. But what made 
you do all that for a person who was nothing to you? I do not understand 
that sort of thing, in such a degree." 

"Perhaps you do not put it the right way," she returned. "Anybody who is 
in trouble is something to me." 

"What, pray?" said he quickly. 

"My neighbour,"--she said with that slight, pleasant smile again. "Don't 
you know the gospel rule is, to do to others what you would wish them to 
do to you?" 

"I never saw anybody before who observed that rule." 

"Didn't you? I am sorry for that. It is a pleasant rule to follow." 

"Pleasant!" her guest echoed. "Excuse me; you cannot mean that?" 

"I mean it, yes, certainly. And there is another thing, Mr. Southwode; I 
like to do whatever my Master gives me to do; and he gave you to me to 
take care of." 

"Did he?" 

"I think so." 

"You did it," said the stranger slowly. "Mrs. Carpenter, I am under very 
great obligations to you." 

"You are very welcome," she said simply. 

"You have done more for me than you know. I never saw what religion can 
be--what religion is--until I saw it in your house." 

She was silent now, and he was silent also, for some minutes; not knowing 
exactly how to go on. He felt instinctively that he must not offer money 
here. The people were poor unquestionably; at the same time they did not 
belong to the class that can take that sort of pay for service. He never 
thought of offering it. They were quite his equals. 

"Mr. Carpenter was so good as to tell me something of his affairs as we 
walked this morning," he began again. "I am sorry to hear that his land 
is heavily encumbered." 

"Yes!" Mrs. Carpenter said with a sigh, and a shadow crossing her face. 

"That sort of thing cannot be helped sometimes, but it is a bother, and 
it leads to more bother. Well! I should like to be looked upon as a 
friend, by you and your husband; but I shall be a friend a good way off. 
Mrs. Carpenter, do not be offended at my plain speaking;--I would say, 
that if ever you find yourself in difficulties and need a friend's help, 
I would like you to remember me, and deliver that letter according to the 
address." 

He handed her as he spoke a letter, sealed, and addressed to "Messrs. 
Bell & Buckingham, 46 Barclay St., New York." Mrs. Carpenter turned the 
letter over, in silent surprise; looked at the great red seal and read 
the direction. 

"Keep it safe," Mr. Southwode went on, "and use it if ever you have' 
occasion. Do not open it; for I shall not be at the place where it is to 
be delivered, and an open letter would not carry the same credit. With 
the letter, if ever you have occasion to make use of it, enclose a card 
with your address; that my agent may know where to find you." 

"You are very kind!" Mrs. Carpenter said in a little bewilderment; "but 
nothing of this kind is necessary." 

"I hope it may not be needed; however, I shall feel better, if you will 
promise me to do as I have said, if ever you do need it." 

Mrs. Carpenter gave the promise, and looked at the letter curiously as 
she put it away. Would the time ever come when she would be driven to use 
it? Such a time could not come, unless after the wreck of her home and 
her life happiness; never could come while her husband lived. If it came, 
what would matter then? But there was the letter; almost something 
uncanny; it looked like a messenger out of the unknown future. 


CHAPTER II. 


MOVING. 


Mr. Southwode went away, his letter was locked up in a drawer, and both 
were soon forgotten. The little family he left had enough else to think 
of. 

As the warm weather turned to cold, it became more and more evident that 
the head of the family was not to be with it long. Mr. Carpenter was ill. 
Nevertheless, with failing strength, he continued to carry the burden 
that had been too much for him when well. He would not spare himself. The 
work must be done, he said, or the interest on the mortgages could not be 
paid. He wrought early and late, and saw to it that his hired people did 
their part; he wore himself out the quicker; but the interest on the 
mortgages was not paid, even so. Mrs. Carpenter saw just how things were 
going, saw it step by step, and was powerless to hinder. 

"They will foreclose!" Mr. Carpenter said with a half groan. It was late 
in the winter; towards spring; his health had failed rapidly of late; and 
it was no secret either to him or his wile that his weeks were numbered. 
They were sitting together one evening before the fire; he in his easy 
chair, and she beside him; but not holding each other's hands, not 
touching, nor looking at one another. Their blood was of a genuine New 
England course; and people of that kind, though they would die for one 
another, rarely exchange kisses. And besides, there are times when 
caresses cannot be borne; they mean too much. Perhaps this was such a 
time. Mrs. Carpenter sat staring into the fire, her brow drawn into fine 
wrinkles, which was with her a sign of uncommon perturbation. It was 
after a time of silence that her husband came out with that word about 
foreclosing. 

"If I had been stronger," he went on, "I could have taken in that twenty 
acre lot and planted it with wheat; and that would have made some 
difference. Now I am behindhand--and I could not help it--and they will 
foreclose." 

"They cannot do it till next fall," said Mrs. Carpenter; and her secret 
thought was, By that time, nothing will matter! 

"No," said her husband,--"not until fall. But then they will. Eunice, 
what will you do?" 

"I will find something to do." 

"What? Tell me now, while I can counsel you." 

"I don't know anything I could do, but take in sewing." She spoke calmly, 
all the while a tear started which she did not suffer to be seen. 

"Sewing?" said Mr. Carpenter. "There are too many in the village already 
that do sewing--more than can live by it." 

"If I cannot here," his wife said after a pause, overcoming herself,--"I 
might go to New York. Serena would help me to get some work." 

"Would she?" asked her husband. 

"I think she would." 

"Your charity always goes ahead of mine, Eunice." 

"You think she would not?" 

"I wouldn't like to have you dependent on her.--This is what you get for 
marrying a poor man, Eunice!" 

He smiled and stretched out his hand to take the hand of his wife. 

"Hush!" she said. "I married a richer man than she did. And I have wanted 
for nothing. We have not been poor." 

"No," he said. "Except in this world's goods--which are unimportant. 
Until one is leaving one's wife and child alone!" 

I suppose she could not speak, for she answered nothing. The fingers 
clasped fingers fast and hard; wrung them a little. Yet both faces were 
steady. Mrs. Carpenter's eyes looked somewhat rigidly into the fire, and 
her husband's brow wore a shadow. 

"I wish your father had left you at least the old place at Tanfield. It 
would have been no more than justice. Serena might have had all the rest, 
but that would have given you and Rotha a home." 

"Never mind," said Mrs. Carpenter gently. "I am content with my share." 

"Meaning me!" And he sighed. 

"The best share of this world's goods any woman could have, Liph." 

"We have been happy," he said, "in spite of all. We have had happy years; 
happier I could not wish for, but for this money trouble. And we shall 
have happy years again, Eunice; where the time is not counted by years, 
but flows on forever, and people are not poor, nor anxious, nor 
disappointed." 

She struggled with tears again, and then answered, "I have not been 
disappointed. And you have no need to be anxious." 

"No, I know," he said. "But at times it is hard for faith to get above 
sense. And I am not anxious; only I would like to know how you are going 
to do." 

There was a silence then of some length. 

"Things are pretty unequal in this world," Mr. Carpenter began again. 
"Look at Serena and you. One sister with more than she can use; the other 
talking of sewing for a livelihood! And all because you would marry a 
poor man. A poor reason!" 

"Liph, I had my choice," his wife said, with a shadow of a smile. "She is 
the one to be pitied." 

"Well, I think so," he said. "For if her heart were as roomy as her 
purse, she would have shewn it before now. My dear, do not expect 
anything from Serena. Till next fall you will have the shelter of this 
house; and that will give you time to look about you." 

"Liph, you must not talk so!" his wife cried; and her voice broke. She 
threw herself upon her husband's breast, and they held each other in a 
very long, still, close embrace. 

Mr. Carpenter was quite right in some at least of his expectations. His 
own life was not prolonged to the summer. In one of the last days of a 
rough spring, the time came he had spoken of, when his wife and child 
were left alone. 

She had till fall to look about her. But perhaps, in the bitterness of 
her loneliness, she had not heart to push her search after work with 
sufficient energy. Yet Mrs. Carpenter never lacked energy, and indulged 
herself selfishly no more in grief than she did in joy. More likely it is 
that in the simple region of country she inhabited there was not call 
enough for the work she could do. Work did not come, at any rate. The 
only real opening for her to earn her livelihood, was in the shape of a 
housekeeper's situation with an old bachelor farmer, who was well off and 
had nobody to take care of him. In her destitution, I do not know but 
Mrs. Carpenter might have put up with even this plan; but what was she to 
do with Rotha? So by degrees the thought forced itself upon her that she 
must take up her old notion and go to the great city, where there were 
always people enough to want everything. How to get there, and what to do 
on first arriving there, remained questions. Both were answered. 

As Mr. Carpenter had foreseen, the mortgages came in the fall to 
foreclosure. The sale of the land, however, what he had not foreseen, 
brought in a trifle more than the mortgage amount. To this little sum the 
sale of household goods and furniture and stock, added another somewhat 
larger; so that altogether a few hundreds stood at Mrs. Carpenter's 
disposal. This precisely made her undertaking possible. It was a very 
doubtful undertaking; but what alternative was there? One relation she 
would find, at the least; and another Mrs. Carpenter had not in the wide 
world. She made her preparations very quietly, as she did everything; her 
own child never knew how much heart-break was in them. 

"Shall we go first to aunt Serena's, mother?" Rotha asked one day. 

"No." 

The "no" was short and dry. Rotha's instinct told her she must not ask 
why, but she was disappointed. From a word now and then she had got the 
impression that this relation of theirs was a very rich woman and lived 
accordingly; and fancy had been busy with possibilities. 

"Where then, mother?" 

"Mr. Forbes," he was the storekeeper at the village, "has told me of the 
boarding house he goes to when he goes to New York. We can put up there 
for a night or two, and look out a quiet lodging." 

"What is New York like, mother?" 

"I have never been there, Rotha, and do not know. O it is a city, my 
child; of course; it is not like anything here." 

"How different?" 

"In every possible way." 

"_Every_ way, mother? Aren't the houses like?" 

"Not at all. And the houses there stand close together." 

"There must be room to get about, I suppose?" 

"Those are the streets." 

"No green grass, or trees?" 

"Little patches of grass in the yards." 

"No trees?" 

"No. In some of the fine streets I believe there are shade trees." 

"No _gardens_, mother?" 

"No." 

"But what do people do for vegetables and things?" 

"They are brought out of the country, and sold in the markets. Don't you 
know Mr. Jones sends his potatoes and his fruit to the city?" 

"Then if you want a potato, you must go to the market and buy it?" 

"Yes." 

"Or an apple, mother?" 

"Yes, or anything." 

"Well I suppose that will do," said Rotha slowly, "if you have money 
enough. I shouldn't think it was pleasant. Do the houses stand _close_ 
together?" 

"So close, that you cannot lay a pin between them." 

"I should want to have very good neighbours, then." 

Rotha was innocently touching point after point of doubt and dread in her 
mother's mind. Presently she touched another. 

"I don't think it sounds pleasant, mother. Suppose we should not like it 
after we get there?" 

Mrs. Carpenter did not answer. 

"What then, mother? Would you come back again, if we did not like it 
there?" 

"There would be no place to come to, here, any more, my child. I hope we 
shall find it comfortable where we are going." 

"Then you don't know?" said Rotha. "And perhaps we shall not! But, 
mother, that would be dreadful, if we did not like it!" 

"I hope you would help me to bear it." 

"I!" said Rotha. "You don't want help to bear anything; do you, mother?" 

An involuntary gush of tears came at this appeal; they were not suffered 
to overflow. 

"I should not be able to bear much without help, Rotha. Want help? yes, I 
want it--and I have it. God sends nothing to his children but he sends 
help too; else," said Mrs. Carpenter, brushing her hand across her eyes, 
"they would not last long! But, Rotha, lie means that we should help each 
other too." 

"I help you?" 

"Yes, certainly. You can, a great deal." 

"That seems very funny. Mother, what is wrong about aunt Serena?" said 
Rotha, following a very direct chain of ideas. 

"I hope nothing is wrong about her." 

And Mrs. Carpenter, in her gentle, unselfish charity, meant it honestly; 
her little daughter was less gentle and perhaps more logical. 

"Why, mother, does she ever do anything to help you?" 

"Her life is quite separate from mine," Mrs. Carpenter replied evasively. 

"Well, it would be right in her to help you. And when people are not 
right, they are wrong." 

"Let us take care of our own right and wrong, Rotha. We shall have enough 
to do with that." 

"But, mother, what _is_ the matter with aunt Serena? Why doesn't she help 
you? She can." 

"Our lives went different ways, a long time ago, my child. We have never 
been near each other since." 

"But now you are going to be where she is, mother?" 

"Rotha, did you rip up your brown merino?" 

"Not yet." 

"Then go and do it now. I want it to make over for you." 

"You'll never make much of that," said the girl discontentedly. But she 
obeyed. She saw a certain trait in the lines of her mother's lips; it 
might be reserve, it might be determination, or both; and she knew no 
more was to be got from her at that time. 

The brown merino disappointed her expectation; for when cleaned and made 
over it proved to be a very respectable dress. Rotha was well satisfied 
with it. The rest of Mrs. Carpenter's preparations were soon 
accomplished; and one day in November she and her little daughter left 
what had been home, and set out upon their journey to seek another in the 
misty distance. The journey itself was full of wonder and delight to 
Rotha. It was a very remarkable thing, in the first place, to find the 
world so large; then another remarkable thing was the variety of the 
people in it. Rotha had known only one kind, speaking broadly; the plain, 
quiet, respectable, and generally comfortable in habitants of the village 
and of the farms around the village. They were not elegant specimens, but 
they were solid, and kindly. She saw many people now that astonished her 
by their elegance; few that awakened any feeling of confidence. Rotha's 
eyes were very busy, her tongue very silent. She was taking her first 
sips at the bitter-sweet cup of life knowledge. 

The third-class hotel at which they put up in New York received her 
unqualified disapprobation. None of its arrangements or accommodations 
suited her; with the single exception of gas burners. 

Close, stuffy, confined, gloomy, and dirty, she declared it to be. 
"Mother," she said half crying, "I hope our house will not be like this?" 

"We shall not have a house, Rotha; only a few rooms." 

"They'll be rooms in a house, I suppose," said the girl petulantly; "and 
I hope it will be very different from this." 

"We will have our part of it clean, at any rate," answered her mother. 

"And the rest too, won't you? You would not have rooms in a house that 
was not all clean, would you, mother?" 

"Not if I could help it." 

"Cannot you help it?" 

"I hope so. But you must not expect that things here in a big city can 
ever be bright and sweet like the fields at home. That can hardly be." 

Rotha sighed. A vision of dandelions came up before her, and waving grass 
bent by summer wind. But there was hope that the morrow's search would 
unfold to her some less unpromising phases of city life, and she 
suspended judgment. 

Next day, wonder and amusement for a time superseded everything else. The 
multitude of busy people coming and going, the laden carts and light 
passing carriages, the gay shops, and the shops that were not gay, filled 
Rotha's eye and mind. Even the vegetables exposed at a corner shop were a 
matter of lively interest. 

"O mother," she cried, "is this a market?" 

"No. It is a store for groceries." 

"Well, they have got some other things here. Mother, the cabbages don't 
look nice." Then soon after coming to a small market store, Rotha must 
stand still to look. 

"They are a little better here," she judged. "Mother, mother! they have 
got everything at this market. Do see! there are fish, and oysters, and 
clams; and eggs; and what are those queer things?" 

"Lobsters." 

"What are they good for?" 

"To eat." 

"They don't look as if they were good for anything. Mother, one could get 
a very good dinner here." 

"With plenty of money." 

"Does it take much?--to get one dinner?" 

"Are you hungry?" said her mother, smiling faintly. "It takes a good deal 
of money to get anything in New York, Rotha." 

"Then I am afraid we ought to have staid at Medwayville." 

A conclusion which almost forced itself upon Mrs. Carpenter's mind. For 
the business of finding a lodging that would suit her and that she could 
pay for, soon turned out to be one of difficulty. She and Rotha grew 
weary of walking, and more weary of looking at rooms that would suit them 
which they could not pay for, and other rooms which they could pay for 
and that would not do. All the houses in New York seemed to come under 
one or the other category. From one house agency to another, and from 
these to countless places referred to, advertised for hire, the mother 
and daughter wandered; in vain. One or the other difficulty met them in 
every case. 

"What will you do, mother, if you cannot find a place?" Rotha asked, the 
evening of the first day. "Go back to Medwayville?" 

"We cannot go back." 

"Then we must find a place," said Rotha. 

And driven by this necessity, so they did. The third day, well tired in 
body and much more in mind, they did at last find what would do. It was a 
long walk from their hotel, and seemed endless. No doubt, in the country, 
with grass under their feet, or even the well beaten foot track beside 
the highway, neither mother nor daughter would have thought anything of 
the distance; but here the hard pavement wearied them, and the way 
measured off by so many turns and crossings and beset with houses and 
human beings, seemed a forlorn pilgrimage into remote regions. Besides, 
it left the pleasanter part of the city and went, as Rotha remarked, 
among poor folks. Down Bleecker St. till it turned, then following the 
new stretch of straight pavement across Carmine St., and on and on into 
the parts then called Chelsea. On till they came to an irregular open 
space. 

"This must be Abingdon Square," said the mother. 

"It isn't square at all," Rotha objected. 

"But this must be it. Then it's only one street more, Rotha. Look for 
Jane Street." 

Beyond Abingdon Square Jane Street was found to be the next crossing. 
They turned the corner and were at the place they sought. 

The region was not one of miserable poverty and tenant houses. Better 
than that; and the buildings being low and small did not darken the 
streets, as Mrs. Carpenter had found in some parts of the city. A decent 
woman, a mantua-maker, had the house and offered Mrs. Carpenter the 
second floor; two little rooms and a closet off them. The rooms were 
furnished after a sort; but Mrs. Marble could give no board with them; 
only lodging. She was a bright, sharp little woman. 

"Yes, I couldn't," she said. "It wouldn't pay. I couldn't mind my 
business. I take _my_ meals in a corner; for I couldn't have grease and 
crumbs round; but where one person can stand, three can't sit. You'll 
have to manage that part yourself. It'll be cheaper for you, too." 

"Is anything cheap here?" Mrs. Carpenter asked wearily. She had sat down 
to rest and consider. 

"That's how you manage it," said the other, shewing a full and rather 
arch smile. She was a little woman, quick and alert in all her ways and 
looks. "My rooms aint dear, to begin with; and you needn't ruin yourself 
eating; if you know how." 

"I knew how in the country," said Mrs. Carpenter. "Here it is different." 

"Aint it! I guess it is. Rents, you see; and folks must live, landlords 
and all. Some of 'em do a good deal more; but that aint my lookout. I'd 
eat bread and salt sooner than I'd be in debt; and I never do be that. Is 
it only you two?" 

"That is all." 

"Then you needn't to worry. I guess you'll get along." 

For Mrs. Marble noticed the quiet respectability of her caller, and 
honestly thought what she said. Mrs. Carpenter reflected. The rooms were 
not high; she could save a good deal by the extra trouble of providing 
herself; she would be more private, and probably have things better to 
her liking. Besides, her very soul sickened at the thought of looking for 
any more rooms. She decided, and took these. Then she asked about the 
possibilities of getting work. Mrs. Marble's countenance grew more 
doubtful. 

"Plain sewing?" she said. "Well, there's a good many folks doing that, 
you see." 

"I thought, perhaps, you could put me in the way of some." 

"Well, perhaps I can. I'll see what I can think of. But there's a many 
doing that sort o' thing. They're in every other house, almost. Now, when 
will you come?" 

"To-morrow. I suppose I cannot tell what I want to get till I do come." 

"I can tell you some things right off. You'd better do part of it to-day, 
or you'll want everything at once. First of all, you'd better order in 
some coal. You can get that just a block or two off; Jones & Sanford; 
they have a coal yard. It is very convenient." 

"Where can it be put?" 

"In the cellar. There's room enough. And if I was you, I wouldn't get 
less than half a ton. They make awful profits when they sell by the 
basket. You will want a little kindling too. Hadn't you better get a 
little bit of a stove? one with two places for cooking; or one place. It 
will save itself six times over in the course of the winter." 

"Where can I get it?" 

"I guess you're pretty much of a stranger here, aint you?" 

"Entirely a stranger." 

"I thought so. Folks get a look according to the place they live. You 
aint bad enough for New York," she added with a merry and acute smile. 

"I hope there are some good people here," said Mrs. Carpenter. 

"I hope so. I haven't passed 'em all through my sieve; got something else 
to do; and it aint my business neither. Well--only don't you think there 
aint some bad ones in the lot, that's all. There's plenty of places where 
you can get your stove, if you want to. Elwall's in Abingdon Square, is a 
very good place. Some things goes with the stove. I guess you know what 
you want as well as I do," she said, breaking off and smiling again. 

"I shall need bedding too," said Mrs. Carpenter, with a look at the empty 
bedstead. 

"You can't do everything at once, if you're to come in to-morrow. I'll 
tell you--I've a bed you can have, that I aint using. It'll cost you 
less, and do just as well. I aint one of the bad ones," she said, again 
with a gleam of a smile. "I shan't cheat you." 

The arrangement was made at last, and Mrs. Carpenter and Rotha set out on 
their way back. They stopped in Abingdon Square and bought a stove, a 
little tea-kettle, a saucepan and frying pan; half a dozen knives and 
forks, spoons, etc., a lamp, and sundry other little indispensable 
conveniences for people who would set up housekeeping. Rotha was glad to 
be quit of the hotel, and yet in a divided state of mind. Too tired to 
talk, however, that night; which was a happiness for her mother. 

The next day was one of delightful bustle; all filled with efforts to get 
in order in the new quarters. And by evening a great deal was done. The 
bed was made; the washstand garnished; the little stove put up, fire made 
in it, and the kettle boiled; and at night mother and daughter sat down 
to supper together, taking breath for the first time that day. Mrs. 
Carpenter had been to a neighbouring grocery and bought a ham and bread; 
eggs were so dear that they scared her; she had cooked a slice and made 
tea, and Rotha declared that it tasted good. 

"But this is funny bread, mother." 

"It is baker's bread." 

"It is nice, a little, but it isn't sweet." 

"Let us be thankful we have got it, Rotha." 

"Yes; but, mother, I think I should be _more_ thankful for better bread." 

"I will try and make you some better," Mrs. Carpenter said laughing. 
"This is not economical, I am sure." 

"Mother," said Rotha, "do you suppose aunt Serena takes in sewing?" 

"She? no. She gives it out." 

"You would not like to do _her_ sewing?" 

"I shall not ask for it," said the mother calmly. 

"Does she do her own cooking, as you do?" 

"No, my child. She has no need." 

"Do you think she is a better woman than you are, mother?" 

"That's not a wise question, I should say," Mrs. Carpenter returned. But 
something about it flushed her cheek and even brought an odd moisture to 
her eyes. 

"Because," said Rotha, wholly disregarding the animadversion, "_if she 
isn't_, I should say that things are queer." 

"That's what Job thought, when his troubles came on him." 

"And weren't they?" asked Rotha. 

"No. He did not understand; that was all." 

"I should like to understand, though, mother. Not understanding makes me 
uneasy." 

"You may be uneasy then all your life, for there will be a great many 
things you cannot understand. The better way is to trust and be easy." 

"Trust what?" Rotha asked quickly. 

"Trust God. He knows." 

"Trust him for what?" Rotha insisted. 

"For everything. Trust him that he will take care of you, if you are his 
child; and let no harm come to you; and do all things right for you, and 
in the best way." 

"Mother, that is trusting a good deal." 

"The Lord likes to have us trust him." 

"But you are his child, and he has let harm come to you?" 

"You think so, because you know nothing about it. No harm can come to his 
children." 

"I don't know what you call harm, then," said Rotha half sullenly. 

"Harm is what would hurt me. You know very well that pain does not always 
do that." 

"And can you trust him, mother, so as to be easy? Now?" 

"Yes," said Mrs. Carpenter. "Most days." 

Rotha knew from the external signs that this must be true. 

"Are you going to see aunt Serena, mother?" 

"Not now." 

"When?" 

"I do not know." 

"Where does she live?" 

"Rotha, you may wash up these dishes, while I put things a little to 
rights in the other room." 

The next day Mrs. Carpenter set about finding some work. Alas, if there 
were many that had it to give, there seemed to be many more that wanted 
it. It was worse than looking for rooms. At last some tailoring was 
procured from a master tailor; and Mrs. Carpenter sat all day over her 
sewing, giving directions to Rotha about the affairs of the small 
housekeeping. Rotha swept and dusted and washed dishes and set the table, 
and prepared vegetables. Not much of that, for their meals were simple 
and small; however, with one thing and another the time was partly filled 
up. Mrs. Carpenter stitched. It was a new thing, and disagreeable to the 
one looker-on, to see her mother from morning to night bent over work 
which was not for herself. At home, though life was busy it was not 
slaving. There were intervals, and often, of rest and pleasure taking. 
She and Rotha used to go into the garden to gather vegetables and to pick 
fruit; and at other times to weed and dress the beds and sow flower 
seeds. And at evening the whole little family were wont to enjoy the air 
and the sunsets and the roses from the hall door; and to have sweet and 
various discourse together about a great variety of subjects. Those 
delights, it is true, ceased a good while ago; the talks especially. Mrs. 
Carpenter was not much of a talker even then, though her words were good 
when they came. Now she said little indeed; and Rotha missed her father. 
An uneasy feeling of want and longing took possession of the child's 
mind. I suppose she felt mentally what people feel physically when they 
are slowly starving to death. It had not come to that yet with Rotha; but 
the initial fret and irritation began to be strong. Her mother seemed to 
be turned into a sewing machine; a thinking one, she had no doubt, 
nevertheless the thoughts that were never spoken did not practically 
exist for her. She was left to her own; and Rotha's thoughts began to 
seethe and boil. Another child would have found food enough and amusement 
enough in the varied sights and experiences of life in the great city. 
They made Rotha draw in to herself. 


CHAPTER III. 


JANE STREET. 


Mrs. Carpenter's patient face, as she sat by the window from morning till 
night, and her restless busy hands, by degrees became a burden to Rotha. 

"Mother," she said one day, when her own work for the time was done up 
and she had leisure to make trouble,--"I do not like to see you doing 
other people's sewing." 

"It is my sewing," Mrs. Carpenter said. 

"It oughtn't to be." 

"I am very thankful to have it." 

"It takes very little to make you thankful, seems to me. It makes _me_  
feel angry." 

"I am sorry for that." 

"Well, if you would be angry, I wouldn't be; but you take it so quietly. 
Mother, it's wrong!" 

"What?" 

"For you to be doing that work, which somebody else ought to do." 

"If somebody else did it, somebody else would get the pay; and what would 
become of us then?" 

"I don't see what's to become of us now. Mother, you said I was to go to 
school." 

"Yes,"--and Mrs. Carpenter sighed here. "I have not had time yet to find 
the right school for you." 

"When will you find time? Mother, I think it was a great deal better at 
Medwayville." 

Mrs. Carpenter sighed again, her patient sigh, which aggravated Rotha. 

"I don't like New York!" the latter went on, emphasizing every word. 
"There is not one single thing here I do like." 

"I am sorry, my child. It is not our choice that has brought us here." 

"Couldn't our choice take us away again, mother?" 

"I am afraid not." 

Rotha looked on at the busy needle for a few minutes, and then burst out 
again. 

"I think things are queer! That you should be working so, and other 
people have nothing to do." 

"Hush, Rotha. Nobody in this world has nothing to do." 

"Nothing they need do, then. You are better than they are." 

"You speak foolishly. God gives everybody something to do, and his hands 
full; and the work that God gives we need to do, Rotha. He has given me 
this; and as long as he gives me his love with it, I think it is good. He 
has given you your work too; and complaining is not a part of it. I hope 
to send you to school, as soon as ever I can." 

Before Rotha had got up her ammunition for another attack, there was a 
tap at the door, and Mrs. Marble came in. She always seemed to bring life 
with her. 

"What do you get for that?" she asked, after she had chatted awhile, 
watching her lodger. Mrs. Carpenter was making buttonholes. 

"A shilling a dozen." 

Mrs. Marble inspected the work. 

"And how many can you make in that style in a day? I should like to 
know." 

"I cannot do this all day," said Mrs. Carpenter. "I get blind, and I get 
nervous. I can make about two dozen and a half in five hours." 

"Twenty five cents' worth: I declare!" said the little woman. "I wonder 
if such folks will get to heaven?" 

"What folks, Mrs. Marble?" enquired Rotha, to whom this saying sounded 
doubtful. 

"The folks that want to get so much for so little. They wouldn't be 
satisfied with any heaven where they couldn't get a hundred per cent." 

"The Lord gives more than that," said Mrs. Carpenter quietly. "A 
hundredfold in this present world; and in the world to come, eternal 
life." 

"I never could get right hold of that doctrine," said Mrs. Marble. "Folks 
talk about it,--but I never could find out it was much more than talk." 

"Try it," said Mrs. Carpenter. "Then you'll know." 

"Maybe I shall, if you stay with me long enough. I wisht I was rich, and 
I'd do better for you than those buttonholes. I think I can do better 
anyhow," said the little woman, brimming over with good will. "Ha' you 
got no friends at all here?" 

Mrs. Carpenter hesitated; and then said "no." "What schools are there in 
this neighbourhood?" she asked then immediately. 

"Schools? There's the public school, not far off." 

"The public school? That is where everybody goes?" 

"Everybody that aint rich, and some that be. I don't think they had ought 
to. There's enough without 'em. Twelve hundred and fifty in this school." 

"Twelve hundred and fifty children!" 

"All that. Enough, aint it? But they say the teaching's first rate. You 
want to send Rotha? You can't get along without her at home, can you? Not 
unless you can get somethin' better than them buttonholes." 

"Mother," said Rotha when Mrs. Marble had gone, "you wouldn't send me to 
that school, would you? That's where all the poor children go. I don't 
think anybody but poor people live all about here." 

"Then it is a proper place for us. What are we but poor people, Rotha?" 

"But mother, we were not poor people at Medwayville? And losing our farm 
and our home and all, don't make any difference." 

"Don't it?" 

"No, mother, not in us. We are not that sort of people. You wouldn't send 
me to such a school?" 

"Take care, my child. 'The Lord maketh poor and maketh rich;' and one is 
not better than the other." 

"One is better off than the other," said Rotha. "Mother, how comes aunt 
Serena to be rich and you to be poor?" 

Mrs. Carpenter hesitated and seemed to choose her words. 

"It was because of the way she married," she answered at last. "I married 
a poor man, and her marriage brought her into riches. I would not 
exchange with her for all the world, Rotha. I have had much the best of 
it. You see your judgment is not worth much." 

Rotha was not satisfied by this statement, and as time wore on she 
thought she had less and less reason. Mrs. Marble did succeed in finding 
some different work with better pay for her lodger; that is, she got her 
the private sewing of a family that paid her at the rate of seventy five 
cents for a gentleman's shirt, with stitched linen bosom and cuffs. It 
was better than the buttonhole making; yet even so, Mrs. Carpenter found 
that very close and diligent application was necessary, if she would pay 
her rent and pay her way. She could hardly do without Rotha's assistance. 
If she tried, with natural motherly feeling, to spare her child, she made 
her fingers rough and unfit for delicate work. It would not do. Rotha's 
hands must go into the hot water, and handle the saucepan, and the broom, 
and the box-iron. Ironing made Mrs. Carpenter's hands tremble; and she 
must not be hindered in her work or made to do it slowly, if she and her 
child were to live. And by degrees Rotha came thus to be very busy and 
her days well filled up. All errands were done by her; purchases at the 
market and the grocery shop and the thread and needle store. The care of 
the two little rooms was hers; the preparation of meals, the clearing of 
tables. It was better than to be idle, but Rotha sighed over it and Mrs. 
Carpenter sometimes did the same. If she had known just what a public 
school is, at all hazards she would not have kept her child at home; 
Rotha should have had so much education as she could get there. But Mrs. 
Carpenter had a vague horror of evil contact for her daughter, who had 
lived until now in so pure an atmosphere bodily and mentally. Better 
anything than such contact, she thought; and she had no time to examine 
or make inquiries. 

So days slipped by, as days do where people are overwhelmingly busy; the 
hope and intention of making a change kept in the background and 
virtually nullified by the daily and instant pressure. Rotha became 
accustomed to the new part she was playing in life; and to her turn of 
mind, there was a certain satisfaction in the activity of it. Mrs. 
Carpenter sat by the window and sewed, from morning to night. Both of 
them began to grow pale over their confined life; but they were caught in 
the machinery of this great, restless, evil world, and must needs go on 
with it; no extrication was possible. One needleful of thread after 
another, one seam after another, one garment finished and another begun; 
that was the routine of Mrs. Carpenter's life, as of so many others; and 
Rotha found an incessant recurrence of meal-times, and of the necessary 
arrangements before and after. The only break and change was on Sunday. 

Mrs. Carpenter suddenly awoke to the conviction, that Rotha's going to 
any sort of school was not a thing at present within the range of vision. 
What was to be done? She thought a great deal about it. 

On their way to and from church she had noticed a small bookstall, closed 
then of course, which from its general appearance and its situation 
promised a tariff of prices fitted for very shallow pockets. One 
afternoon she resolutely laid down her work and took time to go and 
inspect it. The stock was small enough, and poor; in the whole she found 
nothing that could serve her purpose, save two volumes of a broken set of 
Rollin's Ancient History. Being a broken set, the volumes were prized at 
a mere trifle, and Mrs. Carpenter bought them. Rotha had been with her, 
and as soon as they reached home subjected the purchase to a narrow and 
thorough inspection. 

"Mother, these are only Vol. I. and Vol. V." 

"Yes, I know it." 

"And they are not very clean." 

"I know that too. I will cover them." 

"And then, what are you going to do with them? Read them? You have no 
time." 

"I am going to make you read them." 

"Well, I would like to read anything new," said Rotha; "but what shall we 
do for all that goes between No. I. and No. V.?" 

"We will see. Perhaps we can pick them up too, some time." 

The reading, Rotha found, she was to do aloud, while her mother sewed. It 
became a regular thing every afternoon, all the time there was to give to 
it; and Rotha was not aware what schooling her mother managed to get out 
of the reading. Mrs. Carpenter herself had been well educated; and so was 
able to do for Rotha what was possible in the circumstances. It is 
astonishing how much may be accomplished with small means, if there is 
sufficient power of will at work. Not a fact and not a name in their 
reading, but it was made the nucleus of a discussion, of which Rotha only 
knew that it was very interesting; Mrs. Carpenter knew that she was 
teaching her daughter history and chronology. Not the history merely of 
the people immediately in question, but the history of the world and of 
humanity. For without being a scholar or having dead languages at her 
command, Mrs. Carpenter had another knowledge, which gives the very best 
key to the solution of many human questions, leads to the most clear and 
comprehensive view of the whole human drama of life and gives the only 
one clue to guide one amidst the confusions of history and to its 
ultimate goal and termination. Namely, the knowledge of the Bible. It is 
marvellous, how that knowledge supplies and supplements other sorts. So 
Rotha and her mother, at every step they made in their reading, stopped 
to study the ground; looked back and forward, traced connections of 
things, and without any parade of learning got deep into the philosophy 
of them. 

History was only one branch of the studies for which Rollin was made a 
text-book. Mrs. Carpenter had an atlas in her possession; and she and 
Rotha studied geography. Studied it thoroughly, too; traced and fixed the 
relations of ancient and modern; learned by heart and not by head, which 
is always the best way. And Mrs. Carpenter taxed her memory to enable her 
as far as practicable to indoctrinate Rotha in the mysteries and delights 
of physical geography, which the girl took as she would the details of a 
story. Culture and the arts and industries came in for a share of 
attention; but here Mrs. Carpenter's knowledge reached not far. Far 
enough to excite Rotha's curiosity very much, which of itself was one 
good thing. That indeed may be said to have been one general result and 
fruit of this peculiar method of instruction. 

A grammar was not among Mrs. Carpenter's few possessions, nor found on 
the shelves of the book-stall above-mentioned. Here too she sought to 
make memory supply the place of printed words. Rollin served as a text-
book again. Rotha learned the parts of speech, and their distinctions and 
inflexions; also, as far as her mother could recollect them, the rules of 
syntax. Against all this branch of study she revolted, as unintelligible. 
Writing compositions went better; but for the mechanical part of this 
exercise Mrs. Carpenter had no leisure. She did set Rotha a copy now and 
then; but writing and arithmetic for the most part got the go-by. What 
Mrs. Carpenter did she must do with her fingers plying the needle and her 
eyes on her work. 

It helped them both, all this learning and teaching; reading and talking. 
It saved their life from being a dead monotony, and their minds from 
vegetating; and diverted them from sorrowful regrets and recollections. 
Life was quite active and stirring in the little rooms where they lived. 
Nevertheless, their physical nature did not thrive so well as the mental. 
Rotha was growing fast, and shooting up slender and pale, living too 
housed a life; and her mother began to lose freshness and to grow thin 
with too constant application. As the winter passed away, and warm 
weather opened the buds of the trees which in some places graced the 
city, these human plants seemed to wither more and more. 

"O mother," said Rotha, standing at the window one day in the late 
spring, "I think the city is just horrid!" 

"Never mind, my child. We have a comfortable home, and a great deal to be 
thankful for." 

"If I could only see the butterflies in the fields again!" sighed Rotha. 
Her mother echoed the sigh, but this time said nothing. 

"And I would like a good big tumbler of real milk, and some strawberries, 
and some of your bread and butter, mother." 

"Yes, my child." 

"Mother, how comes it that aunt Serena is rich, and you and I are so 
poor?" 

"You have asked me that before." 

"But you didn't tell me." 

"I told you, it was in consequence of the different marriages we made." 

"Yes, I know. But you were not poor before you married father, were you?" 

"No." 

"Then that is what I mean. What is become of it? Where is your part?" 

"Nowhere, dear." 

"What became of it then, mother?" 

"I never had it, Rotha. You had better get your book and read. That would 
be wiser than asking useless questions." 

"But why didn't you have it, mother? Did aunt Serena--did your sister--
get it all?" 

"Get your book, Rotha." 

"Mother, please tell me. I shall know the answer if you do not tell me." 

"Your aunt had it all," Mrs. Carpenter said very quietly. 

"Why?" 

"Your grandfather thought there were good reasons." 

"_Were_ there, mother?" 

"I do not think so. But let it be, Rotha, and never mention this subject 
to me again. Different people have different ways of looking at the same 
thing; and people are often very honestly mistaken. You must not judge 
others by yourself." 

"Mother, I think that was very unjust," said Rotha, in immediate 
disregard of this precept. 

"You must not think it was meant so." 

"But, mother, if a wrong thing is honestly meant, does that make it 
right?" 

"There is but one rule of right and wrong; it is God's rule." 

"Then what difference does it make, whether it was 'honestly meant' or 
no?" 

"A good deal, I should say. Don't you think it does?" 

"I do not believe aunt Serena means it honestly, though. If she was a 
good woman, she wouldn't keep what belongs to you. She must _know_ it is 
wrong!" 

"Rotha, you are paining me," said Mrs. Carpenter, the tears springing to 
her eyes. "This is very foolish talk, and very improper. Get your book." 

"I don't wonder you don't want to go and see her!" said Rotha indignantly 
as she obeyed the order. "O mother! if I could just once roll in the 
grass again!" 

At this moment came a cry from the street-- 

"Straw--berr_ees!_" 

"What's that?" exclaimed Rotha springing to the window. "Mother, it's a 
woman with a basket full of something red. Strawberries! it's 
strawberries!" 

The accent of this word went to the mother's heart. 

"It's early yet," she said. "They will be very dear. By and by they will 
be plenty and cheaper." 

"Strawberries!" repeated Rotha, following the woman with her eyes. 
"Mother, I think I do hate New York. The sight of those strawberries 
makes me wild. I want Carlo, and the ducks, and my old pussy cat, and the 
garden; and--Oh, I want father!" 

The natural conclusion to this burst was a passion of weeping. Mrs. 
Carpenter was fain to lay down her work, and put her arms round the 
child, and shed some tears with her; though even as they fell she was 
trying to soothe Rotha into patience and self-command. Two virtues of 
which as yet the girl knew nothing, except that her mother was a very 
lovely and constant exemplification of them. Nobody ever expected either 
from Rotha; although this was the first violent expression of grief and 
longing that her mother had seen since their removal to New York, and it 
took her by surprise. Rotha had seemed to acquiesce with tolerable ease 
in the new conditions of things; and this was Mrs. Carpenter's first 
notification that under all the outside calm there lay a power of wish 
and pain. They wept together for a while, the mother and child, which was 
a sort of relief to both of them. 

"Mother," said Rotha, as she dried her tears and struggled to prevent 
more coming,--"I could bear it, only that I don't see any end to it." 

"Well, my child? what then?" said the mother tenderly. 

"I don't feel as if I could bear this always." 

"There might be much worse, Rotha." 

"That don't make this one bit better, mother. It makes it harder." 

"We must trust God." 

"For what? I don't see." 

"Trust him, that he will keep his promises. I do." 

"What promises?" 

"He has said, that none of them that trust in him shall be desolate." 

"But 'not desolate'! That is not enough," said. Rotha. "I want more than 
that. I want to be happy; and I want to be comfortable." 

"Are you not comfortable, my child?" 

"No, mother," Rotha said with a sob. 

"What do you want?" Mrs. Carpenter spoke with a gentle soft accent, which 
half soothed, half reproached Rotha, though she did not mean any 
reproach. Rotha, nevertheless went on. 

"I want nearly everything, mother! everything that we haven't got." 

"It would not make you happy, if you had it." 

"Why not? Why wouldn't it?" 

"Because nothing of that sort can. There is only one thing that makes 
people happy." 

"I know; you mean religion. But I am not religious. And if I _was_ happy, 
mother, I should want those other things too." 

"If you were happy--you would be happy," Mrs. Carpenter said with a 
slight smile. 

"That would not hinder my wanting other things. I should want, as I do 
now, nice dresses, and a nice house, and books, and not to have to cook 
and wash dishes, and to take a ride sometimes and a walk sometimes--not a 
walk to market--I want all that, mother." 

"I would give it you if I could, Rotha. If I had it and did not give it 
to you, you would know that I had some very good reason." 

"I might think you were mistaken," said Rotha. 

"We cannot think that of the only wise God," Mrs. Carpenter said with 
that same faint, sweet smile again; "so we must fall back upon the 
other alternative." 

Rotha was silenced. 

"We know that he loves us, dear; and 'they that trust in the Lord shall 
not want any good thing.' As soon as it would be good for us, if that 
time ever comes, we shall have it. As for me, if you were only one of 
those that trust in him, I should hardly have a wish left." 

Rotha dried her tears and went at her work. But the summer, as the days 
passed, was a trial to both of them. Accustomed to sweet country air and 
free motion about the farm, the closeness, the heat, the impurities, and 
the confinement of the city were extremely hard to bear. They made it 
also very difficult to work. Often it seemed to Mrs. Carpenter, unused to 
such a sedentary life and close bending over her needle, that she must 
stop and wait till it grew cooler, or till she herself felt a little 
refreshed. But the necessities of living drove her on, as they drive so 
many, pitilessly. She could not intermit her work. Rents were due just 
the same in summer as in winter, and meat and bread were no cheaper. She 
grew very thin and pale; and Rotha too, though in a far less degree, 
shewed the wilting and withering effect of the life they led. Rarely a 
walk could be had; the streets were hot and disagreeable; and Mrs. 
Carpenter could but now and then dare to spend twenty cents for car hire 
to take her and Rotha to the Park and back again. The heats of July were 
very hard to bear; the heats of August were more oppressive still; and 
when September came with its enervating moist, muggy, warm days, Mrs. 
Carpenter could scarcely keep her place and her work at her window. All 
day she could not. She was obliged to stop and lie by. Appetite failed, 
meals were not enticing; and on the whole, Mrs. Marble was not at all 
satisfied with the condition of either of her lodgers. 

The cooler weather and then the frosts wrought some amendment. Yet all 
the autumn did not put them back where the spring had found them; and 
late in November Mrs. Carpenter took a cold which she could not 
immediately get rid of. A bad cough set in; strength rather failed than 
grew; and the thin hands which were so unceasingly busy with their work, 
became more and more transparently thin. Mrs. Carpenter needed rest; she 
knew it; and the thought came to her that it might be duty, and even it 
might be necessity, to apply to her sister for help. Surely it could not 
be refused? 

She was often busy with this thought. 

One day she had undertaken a longer walk than usual, to carry home some 
articles of fine sewing that she had finished. She would not send Rotha 
so far alone, but she took her along for company and for the air and 
exercise. Her way led her into the finer built part of the city. Coming 
down Broadway, she was stopped a minute by a little crowd on the 
sidewalk, just as a carriage drew up and a lady with a young girl stepped 
out of it and went into Tiffany's; crossing the path of Mrs. Carpenter 
and Rotha. The lady she recognized as her own sister. 

"Mother," said Rotha, as they presently went on their way again, "isn't 
that a handsome carriage?" 

"Very." 

"What is the coachman dressed so for?" 

"That is what they call a livery." 

"Well, what _is_ it? He has top boots and a gold band round his hat. What 
for? I see a great many coachmen and footmen dressed up so or some other 
way. What is the use of it?" 

"No use, that I know." 

"Then what is it for?" 

"I suppose they think it looks well." 

"So it does. But how rich people must be, mother, when their servants can 
dress handsomer than we ever could. And their own dresses! Did you see 
the train of that lady's dress?" 

"Yes." 

"Beautiful black silk, ever so much of it, sweeping over the sidewalk. 
She did not even lift it up, as if she cared whether it went into the 
dirt or not." 

"I suppose she did not care," said Mrs. Carpenter mechanically, like a 
person who is not giving much thought to her answers. 

"Then she must be _very_ rich indeed. I suppose, mother, her train would 
make you a whole nice dress." 

"Hardly so much of it as that," said Mrs. Carpenter. 

"No, no; I mean the cost of it. Mother, I wonder if it is _right_, for  
that woman to trail so much silk on the ground, and you not to be able to  
get yourself one good dress?" 

"It makes no difference in my finances, whether she trails it or not." 

"No, but it ought." 

"How should it?" 

Rotha worked awhile at this problem in silence. 

"Mother, if nobody used what he didn't want, don't you think there would 
be enough for the people who do want? You know what I mean?" 

"I know what you mean. But how should the surplus get to the people who 
want it?" 

"Why!--that's very simple." 

"Not so simple as you think." 

"Mother, that is the way people did in the second chapter of Acts, that 
we were reading yesterday. Nobody said that anything he had was his own." 

"That was when everybody was full of the love of Christ. I grant you, 
Rotha, that makes things easy. My child, let us take care we act on that 
principle." 

"We have nothing to give," said Rotha. "Mother, how that girl was dressed 
too, that came out of that same carriage. Did you see her?" 

"Hardly." 

"She was about as old as I am, I guess. Mother, she had a feather in her 
hat and a beautiful little muff, and a silk frock too, though there was 
no train to it. Her silk was red--dark red," Rotha added with a sigh. 

Mrs. Carpenter had been struck and moved, as well as her daughter, by the 
appearance of the figures in question, though, as she said, she had 
scarce seen more than one of them. But her thoughts were in a different 
channel. 

When she got home, contrary to all her wont, Mrs. Carpenter sat down and 
put her head in her hands, instead of going to work. She said she was a 
little tired, which was very true; but the real reason was a depression 
and at the same time a perturbation of mind which would not let her work. 
She had been several times lately engaged with the thought, that it might 
be better, that it might be her duty, to make herself known to her 
sister. She felt that her strength lately had been decreasing; it had 
been with much difficulty that she accomplished her full tale of work; 
help, even a little, would be very grateful, and a friend for Rotha might 
be of the greatest importance. It was over with those thoughts. That one 
glimpse of her sister as she swept past, had shewn her the utter futility 
of such an appeal as she had thought of making. There was something in 
the whole air and style of the rich woman which convinced Mrs. Carpenter 
that she would not patiently hear of poor relations in her neighbourhood; 
and that help given, even if she gave it, would be so given that it would 
be easier to do without it than to accept it. She was thrown back upon 
herself; and the check and the disappointment shewed how much, secretly 
she had been staying herself upon this hope which had failed her. 

She said nothing to her daughter, and Rotha never knew what that 
encounter had been. But a few days later, finding herself still not 
gaining strength, and catching at any thread of hope or help, Mrs. 
Carpenter took another long walk and delivered at its place of address 
the letter which her English guest had left her. She hardly expected ever 
to hear anything from it again; and in fact it was long before she did 
hear either of the letter or of its writer. 

The months of winter went somewhat painfully along. Mrs. Carpenter's 
health did not mend, and the constant sewing became more and more 
difficult to bear. Mrs. Carpenter now more frequently went out with her 
work herself; leaving Rotha to make up the lost time by doing some of the 
plainer seams, for which she was quite competent. 


CHAPTER IV. 


A VISITER. 


One cold afternoon in the latter part of January, a stranger came to Mrs. 
Marble's door and begged for a few minutes' interview. He did not make it 
longer; but after a very brief conversation on religious matters, and 
giving her a tract or two, inquired if there was anybody else in the 
house? 

"Lodgers," said Mrs. Marble. "They've got the second floor. A woman and a 
girl." 

"What sort of people?" 

"Well, I should say they were an uncommon sort. Your sort, I guess. 
Religious. I mean the mother is. I reckon the little one haint anything 
o' that kind about her." 

"Then they pay their rent, I suppose?" 

"As regular as clockwork. 'Taint always easy, I know; but it comes up to 
the day. I don't believe much in the sort o' religion that don't pay 
debts." 

"Nor I; but sometimes, you know, the paying is not only difficult but 
impossible. Why is it difficult in this case?" 

"Don't ask _me!_ Because another sort of religious folk, that go to church 
regular enough and say their prayers, won't pay honest wages for honest 
work. How is a woman to live, that can't get more than a third or a 
quarter the value o' what she does? So they _don't_ live; they die; and 
that's how it's goin' to be here." 

A tear was glittering in Mrs. Marble's honest eyes, while at the same 
time she bit off her words as if they had been snap gingerbread. 

"Is it so bad as that?" asked the visiter. 

"Well, I don' know if you ought to call it, 'bad,'" said Mrs. Marble with 
a compound expression. "When livin' aint livin' no longer, then dyin' 
aint exactly dyin'. 'Taint the worst thing, anyhow; if it warnt for the 
folk left behind. If I was as ready as she is, I wouldn't mind goin', I 
guess. I s'pose she thinks of her child some." 

"Would they receive a visit from me?" 

"I don' know; but they don't have many. So long as they've been here, and 
that's more'n a year now, there aint a livin' soul as has called to ask 
after 'em. I guess they'd receive most anybody that come with a friend's 
face. Shall I ask 'em?"

"Not _that_, but if they will see me. I shall be much obliged." 

Mrs. Marble laid down her work and tripped up stairs. 

"Rotha," she said putting her head inside the door, "here's somebody to 
see you." 

The girl started up and a colour came into her face, as she eagerly 
asked, "Who?" 

"I don't know him from Adam. He's a sort of a missionary; they come round 
once in a while; and he wants to see you." 

"Mother's gone out," said Rotha, her colour fading as quick as it had 
risen. 

"May he come and see you? He's a nice lookin' feller." 

"I don't care," said Rotha. "I don't want to see any missionary." 

"O well! it won't hurt you to see this one, I guess." 

A few minutes after came a tap at the door, and Rotha with a mingling of 
unwillingness and curiosity, opened it. What she saw was not exactly what 
she had expected; curiosity grew and unwillingness abated. She asked the 
stranger in with tolerable civility. He _was_ nice looking, she confessed 
to herself, and very nicely dressed! not at all the rubbishy exterior 
which Rotha somehow associated with her idea of missionaries. He came in 
and sat down, quite like an ordinary man; which was soothing. 

"Mother is out," Rotha announced shortly. 

"It is so much the kinder of you to let me come in." 

"I was not thinking of kindness," said Rotha. 

"No? Of what then? 

"Nothing in particular. You do not want kindness." 

"I beg your pardon. Everybody wants it." 

"Not kindness _from_ everybody then." 

"I do." 

"But some people can do without it." 

"Can they? What sort of people?" 

"Why, a great many people. Those that have all they want already." 

"I never saw any of that sort of people," said the stranger gravely. 
"Pray, did you?" 

"I thought I had." 

"And you thought I was one of them?" 

"I believe so." 

"You were mistaken in me. Probably you were mistaken also in the other 
instances. Perhaps you were thinking of the people who have all that 
money can buy?" 

"Perhaps," Rotha assented. 

"Do you think money can buy all things?" 

"No," said Rotha, beginning to recover her usual composure; "but the 
people who have all that money can buy, can do without the other things." 

"What do you mean by the 'other things'?" 

Rotha did not answer. 

"I suppose kindness is one of them, as we started from that." 

Rotha was still silent. 

"Do you think you could afford to do without kindness?" 

"If I had money enough," Rotha said bluntly. 

"And what would you buy with money, that would be better?" 

"O plenty!" said Rotha. "Yes, indeed! I would stop mother's working; and 
I would buy our old home, and we would go away from this place and never 
come back to it. I would have somebody to do the work that I do, too; and 
I would have a garden, and plenty of flowers, and plenty of everything." 

"And live without friends?" 

"We always did," said Rotha. "We never had friends. O friends!--everybody 
in the village and in the country was a friend; but you know what I mean; 
nobody that we cared for." 

"Then you have no friends here in New York?" 

"No." 

"I should think you would have stayed where, as you say, everybody was a 
friend." 

"Yes, but we couldn't." 

"You said, you would if you could stop your mother's working. Do you 
think she would like that?" 

"O she's tired to death!" said Rotha; and her eyes reddened in a way that 
shewed there were at least two sides to her character. "She is not strong 
at all, and she wants rest. Of course she would like it. Not to have to 
do any more than she likes, I mean." 

"Then perhaps she would not choose to take some work I was thinking to 
offer her. Or perhaps you would not take it?" he added smiling. 

"We _must_ take it," said Rotha, "if we can get it. What is it?" 

"A set of shirts. A dozen." 

"Mother gets seventy five cents a piece, if they are tucked and 
stitched." 

"That is not my price, however. I like my work particularly done, and I 
give two dollars a piece." 

"Two dollars for one shirt?" inquired Rotha. 

"That is my meaning. Do you think your mother will take them?" 

For all answer the girl clapped her two hands together. 

"Then you are not a master tailor?" she asked. 

"No." 

"I thought maybe you were. I don't like them. What are you, please?" 

"If I should propose myself as a friend, would you allow it?" 

Is this a "kindness"? was the suspicion that instantly darted into 
Rotha's mind. The visiter saw it in her face, and could have smiled; took 
care to do no such thing. 

"That is a question for mother to answer," she said coolly. 

"When it is put to her. I put the question to you." 

"Do you mean, that you are talking of being a friend to _me?_" 

"Is that too bold a proposition?" 

"No--but it cannot be true." 

"Why not?" 

"You cannot want me for a friend. You do not know me a bit." 

"Pardon me. And my proposal was, that I should be a friend to _you_." 

"I always thought there were two sides to a friendship." 

"True; and in time, perhaps, when you come to know me as well as I know 
you, perhaps you will be my friend as well." 

"How should you know me?" said Rotha quickly. 

"People's thoughts and habits of feeling have a way of writing themselves 
somehow in their faces, and voices, and movements. Did you know that?" 

"No--" Rotha said doubtfully. 

"They do." 

"But you don't know me." 

"Will you put it to the proof? But do you like to hear the truth spoken 
about yourself?" 

"I don't know. I never tried." 

"Shall I try you? I think I see before me a person who likes to have her 
own way--and has it." 

"You are wrong there," said Rotha. "If I had my own way, I should not be 
doing what I am doing; no indeed! I should be going to school." 

"I did not mean that your will could get the better of all circumstances; 
only of the will of other people. How is that?" 

"I suppose everybody likes to have his own way," said Rotha in defence. 

"Probably; but not every one gets it. Then, when upon occasion your will 
is crossed, whether by persons or circumstances, you do not take it very 
patiently." 

"Does anybody?" 

"Some people. But on these occasions you are apt to shew your displeasure 
impatiently--sometimes violently." 

"How do you know?" said Rotha wonderingly. "You cannot see that in my 
face _now?_" 

And she began curiously to examine the face opposite to her, to see if it 
too had any disclosures to make. He smiled. 

"Another thing,--" he went on. "You have never yet learned to care for 
others more than for yourself." 

"Does anybody?" said Rotha. 

"How is it with your mother?" 

"Mother?-- But then, mother and I are very different" 

"Did I not intimate that?" 

"But I mean I am naturally different from her. It is not only because she 
is a Christian." 

"Why are you not a Christian too?" 

Rotha hesitated. Her interlocutor was certainly a great stranger; and as 
certainly she had not found it possible to read his face; 
notwithstanding, two effects had resulted from the interview thus far; 
she believed in him, and he was somewhat imposing to her. Dress and 
manner might have a little to do with this; poor Rotha had rarely in her 
short life spoken to any one who had the polish of manner that belongs to 
good breeding and the habit of society; but that was not the whole. She 
felt the security and the grace with which every word was said, and she 
trusted his face. At the same time she rebelled against the slight awe he 
inspired, and was a little afraid of some lurking "kindness" under all 
this extraordinary interest and affability. Her answer was delayed and 
then came somewhat defiantly. 

"I never wanted to be a Christian." 

"That answer has the merit of truth," said her visiter calmly. "You have 
mentioned the precise reason that keeps people out of the kingdom of 
heaven. 'Ye will not come unto me, that ye might have life,' the Lord 
said to some of them when he was upon earth. 'When they shall see him, 
there is no beauty that they should desire him.'" 

"Well, I cannot help that," said Rotha. 

"No,--" said her visiter slowly, "you cannot help that; but it does not 
excuse you." 

"Why, how can I be a Christian, when I _dont want to?_" 

"How can you do anything else that you do not want to do? Duty remains 
duty, does it not?" 

"But religion is not outside work." 

"No." 

"Mother says, it is the love of God. How can I make myself love him?" 

"Poor child!" said her visiter. "When you are in earnest about that 
question it will not be difficult to find the answer." He rose up. "Then 
I may send the shirts I spoke of?" 

"Yes," said Rotha; "but I don't know about the price. Mother does not 
want anything but the proper pay; and she does all her work 
particularly." 

"Are you afraid I shall give her too much?" 

"She does not want too much." 

"I will arrange that with her. Stay,--we have not been introduced to each 
other. You may call me Mr. Digby; what may I call you?" 

"Rotha Carpenter." 

"Good morning, Rotha," said the gentleman, offering his hand. Rotha shyly 
took it, and he went away. 

Half an hour afterwards, Mrs. Carpenter came home. She came slowly up the 
short flight of stairs, and sat down by her fireside as if she was tired. 
She was pale, and she coughed now and then. 

"Mother," began Rotha, full of the new event, "somebody has been here 
since you have been away." 

"A messenger from Mr. Farquharson? I shall have the things done to-
morrow, I hope." 

"No messenger at all, and no tailor, nor any such horrid person. Mother, 
what is a 'gentleman'?" 

"What makes you ask?" 

"Because Mrs. Marble said this man was a gentleman. He's a missionary. Do 
you know what a 'city missionary' means, mother?" 

"Yes, in general." 

"The same as a foreign missionary, only he does not go out of the 
country?" 

"He does his work in the city." 

"But there are no heathen in New York." 

"There are worse." 

"Worse? what can be worse?" 

"It is worse to see the light and refuse it, than never to have had the 
choice." 

"Then I should think it would be better not to send missionaries to the 
heathen." 

"Rotha, take my bonnet and cloak, dear, and put them away; and make me 
some tea, will you?" 

"Why mother, it is not tea-time yet." 

"No matter; I am tired, and cold." 

"But you didn't tell me what a gentleman is?" pursued Rotha, beginning 
now to bustle about and do as she was told. 

"Wait till I have had some tea. How much tea is left, Rotha?" 

"Well, I guess, enough to last almost a week," said the girl, peering 
into the box which did duty for a tea-caddy. 

"I must manage to get some more," said the mother. "I could hardly get 
along without my cup of tea." 

"Mother, here has been somebody who wants you to make shirts for him at 
two dollars a piece." 

"Two dollars a piece!" Mrs. Carpenter echoed. "I could afford to get tea 
then. Who was that, Rotha? and what sort of shirts does he want made for 
such a price?" 

"I don't know! he said he wanted them very particularly made, and I told 
him that was the way you did everything. Now mother dear, the kettle will 
boil in two minutes." 

"Who is this person?" 

"I told you, he is a city missionary. His name is Mr. Digby." 

"Digby,"--said Mrs. Carpenter. "I do not know him." 

"Of course you don't. But you will be glad of the shirts, won't you?" 

"Very glad, and thankful." 

"But is two dollars a proper price?" inquired Rotha a little jealously. 

"It is an uncommon price." 

"What could make him offer an uncommon price?" 

"I don't know. It is not the way of the world, so perhaps he is not one 
of the world." 

"He's a Christian, you mean?" 

"Yes." 

"Do Christians always do the right thing?" 

"Real Christians do, when they know what the right thing is. I am too 
tired to talk, Rotha." 

Rotha bestirred herself and set the little table. Not very much went on 
it, besides the cups and plates; but there was a loaf of bread, and Rotha 
made a slice of toast; and Mrs. Carpenter sipped her tea as if she found 
it refreshing. 

"I wish I had a good tumbler of milk," sighed Rotha; "real milk, not like 
this. And I wish you had some Medwayville cream, mother. I think, if I 
ever get back into the country again, I shall go wild." 

"I sometimes think you are a little of that here," said Mrs. Carpenter. 

"Not wild with joy, mother." 

Mrs. Carpenter sipped her tea, and stretched out her feet towards the 
small stove, and seemed to be taking some comfort. But her face was thin 
and worn, the hands were very thin; a person with more experience than 
her young daughter would have been ill content with her appearance. 

"Mother, now can you tell me my question? What do you mean by a 
'gentleman.'" 

"Perhaps not just what Mrs. Marble means by it." 

"Well, I'll tell you. This person was very well dressed, but clothes do 
not make it, do they, mother?" 

"Certainly not." 

"He has got a nice face, and he seemed to know always just what to do and 
to say; I can't tell you what I mean exactly; but I should think, to look 
at him and hear him, that he knew everything and had seen all the world. 
Of course he hasn't and doesn't; but that is the sort of feeling I have 
when I look at him." 

Mrs. Carpenter smiled. 

"Did you never see anybody before of whom you thought so?" 

"Never. I never did," said Rotha. "The people who come here on business, 
don't know the least bit how to behave; and the people at dear old 
Medwayville did not. O they were kind and good as they could be, some of 
them; but mother, they could not make a bow to save their lives, and they 
would stand and sit all sorts of ways; and they wouldn't know when they 
had done talking, nor how to do anything nicely." 

"Perhaps this man was stiff," said Mrs. Carpenter amused. 

"He was not stiff in the least; but mother, what is a gentleman?" 

"I do not know how to tell you, Rotha. Your description sounds very much 
like one." 

A day or two after, Mr. Digby came again, and had an interview with Mrs. 
Carpenter. This time he paid no attention to Rotha, and I think the 
little girl was somewhat disappointed. The next day he came again and 
brought with him the bundle of shirts. He inquired now very kindly into 
Mrs. Carpenter's state of health, and offered to send his own physician 
to see her. But she refused; and the manner of her refusal persuaded Mr. 
Digby that she was aware of her own condition and believed no medicine 
would be of avail. He was much of the same opinion himself; and indeed 
was inclined to suspect that there was more need of good food than of 
drugs in this case. More difficult at the same time to administer. 

A few days passed, and Mr. Digby again came. 

He found Mrs. Carpenter steady at her work, but looking very worn and 
pale. Rotha was just putting on the small tea kettle. Mr. Digby sat down 
and made kind inquiries. The answers were with the sweet patient 
composure which he saw was habitual with Mrs. Carpenter. 

"How is your appetite?" he asked. 

"I suppose I am not enough in the open air and stirring about, to have it 
very good." 

"Have you much strength for 'stirring about'?" 

"Not much." 

"People cannot have strength without eating. Rotha, what time do you give 
your mother her dinner?" 

"Now," said Rotha. "I put the kettle on just as you came in." 

"I saw you did. But what is the connection, may I ask, between dinner and 
the tea kettle?" 

"Rotha makes me a cup of tea," said Mrs. Carpenter smiling. "I can hardly 
get along without that." 

"Ah!--Mrs. Carpenter, I have had a busy morning and am--which I am sorry 
you are not--_hungry_. May I take a cup of tea with you?" 

"Certainly!--I should be very glad. Rotha, set a cup for Mr. Digby, dear. 
But tea is not much to a hungry man," she went on; "and I am afraid there 
is little in the house but bread and butter." 

"That will do capitally. If you'll furnish the bread and butter, I will 
see what I can get for my part. If you'll excuse the liberty, Mrs. 
Carpenter?" 

Mrs. Carpenter would excuse, I think, whatever he might take a fancy to 
do. She had seen him now several times, and he had quite won her heart. 

"Mother," said Rotha, as soon as their visiter had gone out, "what is he 
going to do?" 

"I do not know. Get something for dinner, he said." 

"Do you like him to do that?" 

"Do what?" 

"Bring us dinner." 

"Don't be foolish, Rotha." 

"Mother, I think he is doing what he calls a 'kindness.'" 

"Have you any objection?" 

"Not to his doing it for other people; but for you and me-- Mother, we 
have not come to receiving charity yet." 

"Rotha!" exclaimed her mother. "My child, what are you thinking of?"

"Having kindnesses done to us, mother; and I don't like it. It is not Mr. 
Digby's business, what we have for dinner!" 

"I told him we had not much but bread." 

"Why did you tell him?" 

"He would have found it out, Rotha, when he came to sit down to the 
table." 

"He had no business to ask to do that."

"I think you are ungrateful." 

"Mother, I don't want to be grateful. Not to him." 

"Why not to him, or to anybody, my child, that deserves it of you?" 

"_He_ don't!"--said Rotha, as she finished setting the table, rather in 
dudgeon. "What do you suppose he is going to bring?" 

"Rotha, what will ever become of you in this world, with that spirit?" 

"What spirit?" 

"Pride, I should say." 

"Isn't pride a good thing?" 

"Not that ever I heard of, or you either," Mrs. Carpenter said with a 
sigh. 

"Mother, I don't think you have enough pride." 

"A little is too much. It makes people fall into the condemnation of the 
devil. And you are mistaken in thinking there is anything fine in it. 
Don't shew that feeling to Mr. Digby, I beg of you." 

Rotha did not exactly pout, for that was not her way; but she looked 
dissatisfied. Presently she heard a sound below, and opened the door. 

"He's coming up stairs," she said softly, "and a boy with him bringing 
something. Mother!--" 

She had no chance to say more. Mr. Digby came in, followed by a boy with 
a basket. The basket was set down and the boy disappeared. 

"Mrs. Carpenter," said the gentleman, "I could not find anything in this 
neighbourhood better than oysters. Do you like them?" 

"Oysters!" said Mrs. Carpenter. "It is very long since I have seen any. 
Yes, I like them." 

"Then the next question is, how do you like them? Saw? or roasted? We can 
roast them here, cannot we?" 

"I have not seen a roast oyster since I was a girl," said Mrs. Carpenter. 
Her visiter could hear in the tone of her voice that the sight would be 
very welcome. As for Rotha, displeasure was lost in curiosity. The 
oysters were already nicely washed; that Mr. Digby had had done by the 
same boy that brought the basket; it only remained to put them on the 
fire and take them off; and both operations he was quite equal to. Rotha 
looked on in silent astonishment, seeing the oyster shells open, and the 
juice sputter on the hot iron, and perceiving the very acceptable 
fragrance that came from them. Mr. Digby admonished her presently to make 
the tea; and then they had a merry meal. Absolutely merry; for their 
visitor, he could hardly be called their guest, spiced his ministrations 
with so pleasant a manner that nothing but cheerfulness could keep its 
ground before him. At the first taste of the oysters, it is true, some 
associations seemed to come over Mrs. Carpenter which threatened to make 
a sudden stop to her dinner. She sat back in her chair, and perhaps was 
swallowing old troubles and heartburnings over again, or perhaps 
recalling involuntarily a time before troubles began. The oysters seemed 
to choke her; and she said she wanted no more. But Mr. Digby guessed what 
was the matter; and was so tenderly kind and judiciously persuasive, that 
Mrs. Carpenter could not withstand him; and then, Rotha looked on in new 
amazement to see how the oysters went down and how manifestly they were 
enjoyed. She herself declined to touch them; they did not look attractive 
to her. 

"Rotha," said Mr. Digby, as he opened a fine, fat oyster, "the only way 
to know things is, to submit to learn." 

"I needn't learn to like oysters, I suppose, need I?" 

"Yes." 

"Why?" 

"It might be useful some day." 

"I don't see how it should. We never had oysters before, and perhaps we 
never shall again." 

"You might go a missionary to some South Sea island, and be obliged at 
times to live upon oysters." 

"I am not going to be a missionary." 

"That is more than you know." 

"But I know what I like, and what I think." 

"At present. Perhaps you do. You do not know whether you like oysters, 
however, for you have not tried." 

"Your sphere of knowledge will be small, Rotha," said her mother, "if you 
refuse to enlarge it." 

Stung a little, Rotha made up her mind to try an oyster, to which her 
objections were twofold. Nevertheless, she was obliged to confess, she 
liked it; and the meal, as I said, went merrily on; Rotha from that time 
doing her fall share. Mrs. Carpenter was plainly refreshed and comforted, 
by the social as well as the material food she received. 

"How good he is!" she exclaimed when their friend was gone. 

"So are the oysters," said Rotha; "but I don't like him to bring them. I 
do not think I like Mr. Digby much, anyhow." 

"You surprise me. And it is not a little ungrateful." 

"I don't want to be grateful to him. And mother, I _don't_ like him to 
bring oysters here!" 

"Why shouldn't he, if he likes? I am sorry to see such pride in you, 
Rotha. It is _very_ foolish, my child." 

"Mother, it looks as if he knew we were poor." 

"He knows it, of course. Am I not making his shirts?" 

Rotha was silent, clearing away the dishes and oyster shells with a good 
deal of decision and dissatisfaction revealed in her movements. 

"Everybody knows it, my child." 

"I do not mind everybody. I just mind him. He is different. Why is he 
different, mother?" 

"I suppose the difference you mean is, that he is a gentleman." 

"And what are we?" said Rotha, suddenly standing still to put the 
question. 

"We are respectable people," said her mother smiling. 

"Not gentlemen, of course; but what do you call us?" 

"If I could call you a Christian, Rotha, I should not care for anything 
else; at least I should not be concerned about it. Everything else would 
be right." 

"Being a Christian would not make any difference in what I am talking 
about." 

"I think it would; but I cannot talk to you about it, Ask Mr. Digby the 
next time he comes." 

"Ask _him!_" cried Rotha. "I guess I will! What makes you think he is 
coming again, mother?" 

"It would be like him." 


CHAPTER V. 


PRIVATE TUITION. 


More days passed however, than either of them expected, before Mr. Digby 
came again. They were days of stern cold winter weather, in which it was 
sometimes difficult to keep their little rooms comfortable without 
burning more coal than Mrs. Carpenter thought she could afford. Rotha ran 
along the streets to the corner shop where she bought tea and sugar, not 
quite so well wrapped up but that she found a quick pace useful to 
protect her from the cold; and Mrs. Carpenter wrought at her sewing 
sometimes with stiffened fingers. 

"Mother," said Rotha, one day, "_I_ think it would be better to do without 
tea and have a little more fire." 

"I do not know how to get along without tea," Mrs. Carpenter said with a 
sigh. 

"But you are getting along without almost everything else." 

"We do very well yet," answered the mother patiently. 

"Do we?" said Rotha. "If this is what you call very well-- Mother, you 
cannot live upon tea." 

"I feel as if I could not live without it." 

"Has Mr. Digby given you any money yet?" 

"The shirts are only just finished." 

"And what are you going to do now? But he'll pay you a good many dollars, 
won't he, mother? Twenty four, for twelve shirts. But there is eight to 
be paid for rent, I know, and that leaves only sixteen. And he can afford 
to pay the whole twenty four, just for a dozen shirts! Mother, I don't 
think some people have a _right_ to be so rich, while others are so poor." 

"'The Lord maketh poor and maketh rich,'"--Mrs. Carpenter answered. 

"Why does he?" 

"Sometimes, I think, he wishes to teach his children to depend on him." 

"Couldn't they do it if they were rich?" 

"There is great danger they would not." 

"You would, mother." 

"Perhaps not. But I have always enough, Rotha." 

"Enough!" echoed Rotha. "Enough! when you haven't had a good dinner 
since-- Mother, there he is again, I do believe!" 

And she had hardly time to remove the empty tea cup and, alas! empty 
plates, which testified to their meagre fare, when the knock came and Mr. 
Digby shewed himself. He explained that he had been out of town; made 
careful inquiries as to Mrs. Carpenter's health; paid for the shirts; and 
finally turned to Rotha. 

"How is my friend here doing?" 

"We always go on just the same way," said Rotha. But he could see that 
the girl was thin, and pale; and that just at an age when she was growing 
fast and needing abundant food, she was not getting it. 

"Ask Mr. Digby your question, Rotha," her mother said. 

"I do not want to ask him any questions," the girl answered defiantly. 
But Mrs. Carpenter went on. 

"Rotha wants to know what a gentleman is; and I was not able to discuss 
the point satisfactorily with her. I told her to ask you." 

Rotha did not ask, however, and there was silence. 

"Rotha is fond of asking questions," Mr. Digby observed. 

"What makes you think so?" she retorted. 

He smiled. "It is a very good habit--provided of course that the 
questions are properly put." 

"I like to ask mother questions," Rotha said, drawing in a little. 

"I have no doubt you would like to ask me questions, if you once got into 
the way of it. Habit is everything." 

"Not quite everything, in this," said Rotha. "There must be something 
before the habit." 

"Yes. There must be a beginning." 

"I meant something else." 

"Did you? May I ask, what did you mean?" 

"I mean a good deal," said Rotha. "Before one could get a habit like 
that, one must know that the person could answer the questions; and 
besides, that he would like to have them asked." 

"In my case I will pledge myself for the second qualification; about the 
first you must learn by experience. Suppose you try." 

His manner was so pleasant and well bred, and Rotha felt that she had 
gone so near the edge of politeness, she found it best for this time to 
comply. 

"I asked mother one day what is the meaning of a 'gentleman'; and I 
suppose she was too tired to talk to me, for she said I had better ask 
you." 

"O he did me honour." 

"Well, what is it then, Mr. Digby." 

"I should say, it is the counterpart to a 'lady.'" 

"But isn't everybody that is grown up, a 'lady'?--every woman, I mean?" 

"No more than every grown up man is a gentleman." 

Rotha stood looking at him, and the young man on his part regarded her 
with more attention than usual. He was suddenly touched with compassion 
for the girl. She stood, half doubtful, half proud, dimly conscious of 
her enormous ignorance, and with an inward monition of a whole world of 
knowledge to be acquired, yet beyond her reach; at the same time her look 
shewed capacity enough both to understand and to feel. Rotha was now 
nearly fourteen, with mental powers just opening and personal gifts just 
beginning to dawn. The child's complexion told of poor feeding and want 
of air and exercise; it was sallow, and her features were sharp; but her 
hair was beautiful in its lustrous, dark abundance; the eyes shewed the 
fire of native passion and intelligence; the mouth was finely cut and 
expressed half a dozen things in as many minutes. "Poor child!" thought 
the visiter; "what is to become of her, with all this latent power and 
possibility?" 

"A gentleman, Rotha," he said aloud, "may be defined as a person who in 
all manner of little things keeps the golden rule--does to everybody as 
he would be done by; and knows how." 

"In little things? Not in great things?" 

"One may do it in great things, and not be a gentleman in manner; though 
certainly in heart." 

"Then it is manner?" 

"Very much." 

"And a lady the same way?" 

"Of course." 

"What sort of little things?" said Rotha curiously. 

"A lady in the first place will be always careful and delicate about her 
own person and dress; it does not depend upon what she wears, but how she 
wears it; a lady might wear patches, but never could be untidy. Then, in 
all her moving, speaking, and acting, she will be gentle, quiet, and 
polite. And in her behaviour to others, she will give everybody the 
respect that is due, and never put herself forward. 'In honour preferring 
one another,' is the Bible rule, and it is the law of good breeding. And 
the Bible says, 'Honour all men;' and, 'Be courteous.'--Have I spoken 
according to your mind, Mrs. Carpenter?" 

"Beautifully," said the silent, pale seamstress, never stopping her 
needle. "Better than I could have done it. Now you know, Rotha." 

Rotha stood considering, uneasy. 

"What is the next question?" said Mr. Digby smiling. 

"I was thinking--" said Rotha. "Mustn't one know a good deal, to do all 
that?" 

"To do what, for instance?" 

"To give everybody the respect that is due; it is not the same to 
everybody, is it?" 

"No, certainly." 

"How can one know?" 

"There _is_ a good deal to be learned in this world, before one can hold 
the balance scales to weigh out to each one exactly what belongs to him," 
Mr. Digby admitted. 

"That is one of my troubles," said Mrs. Carpenter looking up. "I cannot 
give my child an education. I do a little at home; it is better than 
nothing; but I feel that my power grows less and less; and Rotha's needs 
are more and more." 

"What do you know, Rotha?" said Mr. Digby. 

"I don't know much of anything!" said the girl, an eloquent flush coming 
into her pale face. It touched him. 

"A little of what, then?" said their visiter kindly. 

"You would not say it was anything." 

"She knows a little history," Mrs. Carpenter put in. 

"Have you any acquaintance with Alexander of Macedon, Rotha?" 

"The Great?  asked Rotha. 

"He is called so." 

"Yes, I know about him." 

"Think he deserved the title?" 

"Yes, I suppose he did." 

"What for?" 

"He was such a clever man." 

"Well, I have no doubt he was," Mr. Digby returned, keeping a perfectly 
grave face with some difficulty; "a clever man; but how did he shew it?" 

Rotha paused, and a faint tinge, of excitement this time, rose again in 
her cheeks, and her eye waked up with the mental stir. "He had such grand 
plans," she answered. 

"Ah? yes. Which do you mean?" 

"For civilizing people; for bringing the different nations to know each 
other and be friends with each other; so that trade could be carried on, 
and knowledge and arts and civilization could spread to all; that his 
empire could be one great whole." 

"On the whole you approve of Alexander. After all, what use was he to the 
world?" 

"Why a good deal," said Rotha. "Don't you think so? His successors 
carried on his plans; at least some of them did; and the Greek language 
was spread through Asia, and the Jews encouraged to settle in Egyptian 
and Greek cities; and so the way was prepared for the spread of the 
gospel when it came." 

"Mrs. Carpenter," said Mr. Digby, "your manner of teaching history is 
very satisfactory!" 

"I have done what I could," said the mother, "but we had very few books 
to work with." 

"We had none," said Rotha, "except Rollin's Ancient History, and 
Plutarch's Lives." 

"One good book, well used, is worth a hundred under other circumstances. 
Then you do not know much of modern history, Rotha?" 

"Nothing at all; except what mother has told me." 

"How about grammar?" 

"I have taught her grammar," said Mrs. Carpenter; "and geography. She 
knows both pretty well. But I found, with my work, I could not teach her 
arithmetic; and I had not a good book for it. Rotha can do nothing with 
numbers." 

Mr. Digby gave the girl a simple question in mental arithmetic; and then 
another, and another. Rotha's brow grew intent; the colour in her cheeks 
brightened; she was grappling, it was plain, with the difficulties 
suggested to her, wrestling with them, conquering them, with the sort of 
zeal which conquers all difficulties not insurmountable. 

"May I give Rotha lessons in Latin?" Mr. Digby asked, turning quietly to 
Rotha's mother. 

"Latin!" Mrs. Carpenter exclaimed, and her cheeks too flushed slightly. 

"I should enjoy it. It is likely that important business will bring me 
frequently into this part of the city; so I could do it as well as not." 

"But it would be so much trouble--unless you are fond of teaching--" 

"I am fond of teaching--when I find somebody that can learn." 

"You are very kind!--I should be very glad--Poor Rotha, I have been 
unable to do for her what I wished--" 

"I think you have done admirably, from the slight specimen I have had. 
How much time can she give to study?" 

"O she has time enough. She is much more idle than I like to have her." 

"Then that is arranged. I am going to send you a few raw oysters, Mrs. 
Carpenter; and I wish you would eat them at all times of day, whenever 
you feel like it. I knew a very slender lady once, who grew to very ample 
proportions by following such a regimen. Try what they will do for you." 

A grateful, silent look thanked him, and he took his departure. Rotha, 
who had been standing silent and cloudy, now burst forth. 

"Mother!--I do not want him to teach me!" 

"Why not, my child? I think he is very kind.' 

"Kind! I don't want to be taught out of kindness; and I _don't_ want 
_him_ to teach me, mother!" 

"What's the matter?" for Rotha was flushed and fierce. 

"I can learn without him. It is none of his business, whether I learn or 
not. And if I shouldn't say something just right, and he should find 
fault, I should be so angry I shouldn't know what to do!" 

"You talk as if you were angry now." 

"Well I am! Why did you say yes, mother?" 

"Would you have had me say no?" 

"Yes! I don't want to learn Latin anyhow. What's the use of my learning 
Latin? And of him,--O mother, mother!" 

And Rotha burst into impatient and impotent tears. 

"Why not of Mr. Digby?" said her mother soothingly. 

"O he is so--I can't tell!--he's so uppish." 

"He is not _uppish_ at all. I am ashamed of you, Rotha." 

"Well, nothing puts him out. He is just always the same; and he thinks 
everything must be as he says. I don't like him to come here teaching 
me." 

"What folly is this? He is a gentleman, that's all. Do you dislike him 
for being a gentleman?" 

"I'm not a lady"--sobbed Rotha. 

"What has that to do with it?" 

"Mother, I wish I could be a lady!" 

"My child, Mr. Digby told you how." 

"No, he didn't. He told me _what_ it was; he didn't tell me how I could  
get all that." 

"You can follow the Bible roles, at any rate, Rotha; and they go a good 
way." 

"No, I can't, mother. I could if I were a Christian, I suppose; but I am 
not I can't 'honour all men'; I don't know how; and I can't prefer others 
before myself I prefer myself But if I could, that wouldn't make me a 
lady." 

Mrs. Carpenter did not know what to do with this passion, the cause of 
which she was at a loss to understand. It was very real; Rotha sobbed; 
and her mother was at a loss how to comfort her. What dim, far-off 
recognition was this, of powers and possibilities in life--or in herself
--of which the girl had hitherto no experience and no knowledge? It was 
quite just Mrs. Carpenter, herself refined and essentially lady-like, 
knew very well that her little girl was not growing up to be a lady; she 
had laid that off, along with several other subjects of care, as beyond 
her reach to deal with; but Rotha's appeal smote a tender spot in her 
heart, and she was puzzled how to answer her. Perhaps it was just as well 
that she took refuge in her usual silence and did not try any further. 

As Mr. Digby was going through the little passage way to the front door, 
another door opened and Mrs. Marble's head was put out. 

"Good morning!" she said. "You're a friend of those folks up stairs, aint 
you?" 

"Yes, certainly." 

"Well, what do you think of her?" she said, lowering her voice. 

"I think you are a happy woman, to have such lodgers, Mrs. Marble." 

"I guess I know as much as that," said the mantua-maker, with her 
pleasant, arch smile. "I meant something else. _I_ think, she's a sick 
woman." 

Mr. Digby did not commit himself.

"I'm worried to death about her," Mrs. Marble went on. "Her cough's bad, 
and it's growin' worse; and she aint fit to be workin' this minute. And 
what's goin' to become of her?" 

"The Lord takes care of his children; and she is one." 

"If there is such a thing!" said the mantua-maker, a quick tear dimming 
her eye. "But you see, I have my own work, and I can't leave it to do 
much for her; and she won't let me, neither; and I am thinkin' about it 
day and night. She aint fit to work, this minute. And there's the child; 
and they haven't a living soul to care for them, as I see, in all the 
world. They never have a letter, and they never get a visit, except 
your'n." 

"Rent paid?" asked the gentleman low. 

"Always! never miss. But I'm thinkin'--how do they live? That child's 
grown thin--she's like a piece o' wiggin'; she'll hold up when there's 
nothin' to her." 

Mr. Digby could not help laughing. 

"I thought, if you can't help, nobody can. What's to become of them if 
she gets worse? That child can't do for her." 

"Thank you, Mrs. Marble; you are but touching what I have thought of 
myself. I will see what can be done." 

"And don't be long about it," said the mantua-maker with a nod of her 
head as she closed the door. 

Perhaps it was owing to Mrs. Marble's suggestions that Mr. Digby made his 
next visit the day but one next after; perhaps they were the cause that 
he did not come sooner! At any rate, in two days he came again; and 
brought with him not only a Latin grammar, but a paper of grapes for Mrs. 
Carpenter. At the grammar Rotha's soul rebelled; but what displeasure 
could stand against those beautiful grapes and the sight of her mother 
eating them? They were not very good, Mr. Digby said; he would bring 
better next time; though to the sick woman they were ambrosia, and to 
Rotha an unknown, most exquisite dainty. Seeing her delighted, wondering 
eyes, Mr. Digby with a smile broke off part of a bunch and gave to her. 

"It shall not rob your mother," he said observing that she hesitated. "I 
will bring her some more." 

Rotha tasted. 

"O mother!" she exclaimed in ecstasy,--"I should think these would make 
you well right off!" 

Mr. Digby opened the Latin grammar. I think he wanted an excuse for 
veiling his eyes just then. And Rotha, mollified, when she had finished 
her grapes, submitted patiently to receive her first lesson and to be 
told what her teacher expected her to do before he came again. 

"By the way," said he as he was about going,--"have you any more room 
than you need, Mrs. Carpenter?" 

"Room? no. We have this floor--" said Mrs. Carpenter bewilderedly. 

"You have not one room that you could let? I know a very respectable 
person, an elderly woman, who I think would be comfortable here, if you 
would allow her to come. She could pay well for the accommodation." 

"What would be 'well'?" said Mrs. Carpenter, looking up. 

"According to the arrangement, of course. For a room without a fire, she 
would pay four dollars a month; with fire, I should say, twelve." 

"That would be a great help to me," said Mrs. Carpenter, considering. 

"I know the person, I have known her a great while. I think I can promise 
that she would not in any way annoy you." 

"She brings her own furniture?" 

"Of course." 

After a little more turning the matter over in her mind, Mrs. Carpenter 
gave an unqualified assent to the proposal; and her visiter took his 
leave. 

"Mother," said Rotha, "what room are you going to give her?" 

"There is but one; our bed-room." 

"Then where shall we sleep?" 

"Here." 

"Here! Where we do everything!--" 

"It is not so pleasant; but it will pay our rent, Rotha. And I should 
like a little more warmth at night, now the weather is so severe." 

"O mother, mother! We have got down to two rooms, and now we are come 
down to one!" 

"Hush, my child. I am thankful." 

"Thankful!" 

"Yes, for the means to pay my rent." 

"You might have had means to pay your rent, and kept your two rooms," 
said Rotha; thinking, like a great many other people, that she could 
improve upon Providence. 

"How do you like Latin?" 

"If you mean, how I like _Sermo Sermonis_, I don't like it at all. And it 
is just ridiculous for Mr. Digby to be giving me lessons." 

The new lodger moved in the very next week. She was a portly, 
comfortable-looking, kindly-natured woman, whom Mrs. Carpenter liked from 
the first. She established herself quietly in her quarters and almost as 
soon began to shew herself neighbourly and helpful. One day Mrs. 
Carpenter's cough was particularly troublesome. Mrs. Cord came in and 
suggested a palliative which she had known often to work comfortingly. 
She procured it and prepared it herself, and then administered it, and 
begged permission to cook Mrs. Carpenter's dinner; and shook up the 
pillow at her back, and set the rocking chair at an inclined angle which 
gave support and relief. When she had done all she could, she went away; 
but she came in again as soon as there was fresh occasion for her 
services, and rendered them with a hearty good will which made them 
doubly acceptable, and with a ready skill and power of resources which 
would have roused in any sophisticated mind the suspicion that Mrs. Cord 
was a trained nurse. Mrs. Carpenter suspected no such thing; she only 
felt the blessed benefit, and told Mr. Digby what a boon the new lodger 
had become to her. 

So the winter, the latter part of it, passed in rather more comfort to 
the invalid. She did not work quite so steadily, and in good truth she 
would have been unable; she was free of anxieties about debt, for the 
rent was sure; and of other things they bought only what they could pay 
for. The fare might so have been meagre sometimes; were it not that 
supplies seemed to come in, irregularly but opportunely, in such very 
pertinent and apt ways that all sorts of gaps in the housekeeping were 
filled up. Mr. Digby kept their larder stocked with oysters, for one 
thing. Then he would bring a bit of particularly nice salmon he had 
found; or fresh eggs that he got from an old woman down town near one of 
the ferries, whom he said he could trust. Or he brought some new tea for 
Mrs. Carpenter to try; sometimes a sweetbread, or a fresh lobster, from 
the market. Then it was remarkable how often Mr. Digby was tempted by the 
sight of game; and came with prairie chickens, quails, partridges and 
ducks, to tempt, as he said, Mrs. Carpenter's appetite. And at last he 
brought her wine. There had grown up between the two, by this time, a 
relation of great kindness and even affection. Ever since one day Mrs. 
Carpenter had been attacked by a terrible fit of coughing when he was 
there; and the young man had waited upon her and ministered to her in a 
way that Rotha had neither strength for nor skill, and also with a 
tenderness which she could not have surpassed. And Rotha could be tender 
where her mother was concerned. Ever since that day Mr. Digby had 
assumed, and been allowed, something like a son's place in the little 
family; and Mrs. Carpenter only smiled at him when he appeared with new 
tokens of his thoughtfulness and care. 

Rotha did not accept him quite so easily. She was somewhat jealous of his 
favour and of the authority he exercised; for without making the fact in 
any way obtrusive, a fact it was, that Mr. Digby did what he pleased. It 
pleased Mrs. Carpenter too; it did not quite please Rotha. 

Yet in the matter of the lessons it was as much a fact as anywhere else. 
Mr. Digby had it quite his own way. To Mrs. Carpenter this 'way' seemed a 
marvel of kindness, and her gratitude was unbounded. A feeling which 
Rotha's heart did not at all share. She got her lessons, it is true; she 
did what was required of her; it soon amused Mrs. Carpenter to see with 
what punctilious care she did it; for in the abstract Rotha was not fond 
of application. She was one of those who love to walk in at the doors of 
knowledge, but do not at all enjoy forging the keys with which the locks 
must be opened. And forging keys was the work at which she was now kept 
busy. Rotha always knew her tasks, but she came to her recitations with a 
sort of reserved coldness, as if inwardly resenting or rebelling, which 
there is no doubt she did. 

"Mr. Digby, what is the good of my knowing Latin?" she ventured to ask 
one day. 

"You know a little about farming, do you not, Rotha?" was the counter 
question. 

"More than a little bit, I guess." 

"Do you? Then you know perhaps what is the use of ploughing the ground?" 

"To make it soft. What ground are you ploughing with Latin, Mr. Digby?" 

"The ground of your mind; to get it into working order." 

This intimation incensed Rotha. She was too vexed to speak. All this 
trouble just to get her mind into working order? 

"Is that all Latin is good for?" she asked at length. 

"By no means. But if it were--that is no small benefit. Not only to get 
the ground in working order, but to develope the good qualities of it; as 
for instance, the power of concentration, the power of attention, the 
power of discernment." 

"I can concentrate my attention when I have a mind to," said Rotha. 

"That is well. I am going to give you something else to do which will 
practise you in that." 

"What, Mr. Digby?" With all her impatience Rotha was careful to observe 
the forms of politeness with her teacher. He silently handed her an 
arithmetic. 

"Oh!--" said the girl, drawing out the word"--I have done sums, Mr. 
Digby." 

"How far?" 

It turned out that Rotha's progress in that walk of learning had been 
limited to a very few steps. And even in those few steps, Mr. Digby's 
tests and questions gave her a half hour of sharp work; so sharp as to 
bar other thoughts for the time. Rotha shewed in this half hour 
uumistakeable capacity for the science of numbers; nevertheless, when her 
teacher went away leaving her a good lesson in arithmetic to study along 
with her Latin grammar, Rotha spoke herself dissatisfied. 

"Am I to learn just whatever Mr. Digby chooses to give me?" she asked. 

"I thought you liked learning, Rotha?" 

"Yes, mother; so I do. I like learning well enough; I don't like him to 
say what I shall learn." 

"Why not? Mr. Digby is very kind, Rotha!" 

"He may mean it for kindness. I don't know what he means it for." 

"It is nothing but pure goodness," said the mother with a grateful sigh. 

"Well, is he to give me everything to learn that he takes into his head?" 

"Rotha, a teacher could not be kinder or more patient than Mr. Digby is 
with you." 

"I don't try his patience, mother." 

It was true enough; she did not. She had often tried her mother's; with 
Mr. Digby Rotha was punctual, thorough, prompt and docile. Whether it 
were pride or a mingling of something better,--and Rotha did love 
learning,--she never gave occasion for a point of blame. It was not 
certainly that Mr. Digby was harsh or stern, or used a manner calculated 
to make anybody fear him; unless indeed it were the perfectness of good 
breeding which he always shewed, here in the poor sempstress's room, and 
in his lessons to the sempstress's child. Rotha had never seen the like 
in anybody before; and that more than ought else probably wrought in her 
such a practical awe of him. Mrs. Carpenter was even half amused to 
observe how Rotha unconsciously in his presence was adopting certain 
points of his manner; she was quiet; she moved with moderate steps; she 
spoke in low tones; she did not fly out in impatient or angular words or 
gestures, as was her way often enough at other times. Yet her mother 
knew, and wondered why, Rotha rebelled in secret against the whole thing. 
For herself, she was growing into a love for Mr. Digby which was almost 
like that of a mother for a son; as indeed his manner towards her was 
much like that of a son towards his mother. It was not the benefits 
conferred and received; it was a closer bond which drew them together, 
and a deeper relation. They looked into each other's faces, and saw 
there, each in the other, what each recognized as the signature of a 
handwriting that they loved; the stamp of a likeness that was to them 
both the fairest of all earthly things. Then came the good offices 
rendered and accepted; the frequent familiar intercourse; the purely 
human conditions of acquaintanceship and friendship; and it was no matter 
of surprise if by and by the care on the one part and the dependence on 
the other grew to be a thing most natural and most sweet. 

So it came about, that by degrees the look of things changed in Mrs. 
Carpenter's small dwelling place. As the cold of the winter began to give 
way to the harshness of spring, and March winds blew high, the gaseous 
fumes from the little anthracite coal stove provoked Mrs. Carpenter's 
cough sadly. "She was coughing all day," Mrs. Cord told their friend in 
private; "whenever the wind blew and the gas came into the room." Mr. 
Digby took his measures. The little cooking stove was removed; a little 
disused grate behind it was opened; and presently a gentle fire of 
Liverpool coal was burning there. The atmosphere of the room as well as 
the physiognomy of it was entirely changed; and Mrs. Carpenter hung over 
the fire and spread out her hands to it with an expression of delight on 
her wasted face which it was touching to see. Mr. Digby saw it, and 
perhaps to divert the feeling which rose in him, began to find fault with 
something else. 

"That's a very uncomfortable chair you are sitting in!" he said with a 
strong expression of disapproval. 

"O it does very well indeed," answered Mrs. Carpenter. "I want nothing, I 
think, having this delightful fire." 

"How do you rest when you are tired?" 

"I lean back. Or I lie down sometimes." 

"Humph! Beds are very well at night. I do not think they are at all 
satisfactory by day." 

"Why what would you have?" said Mrs. Carpenter, smiling at him. 

"I'll see." 

It was the next day only after this that Rotha, having finished her work 
for her teacher and nothing else at the moment calling for attention, was 
standing at the window looking out into the narrow street. The region was 
poor, but not squalid; nevertheless it greatly stirred Rotha's disgust. 
If New York is ever specially disagreeable, it finds the occasion in a 
certain description of March weather; and this was such an occasion. It 
was very cold; the fire in the grate was well made up and burning 
beautifully and the room was pleasant enough; but outside there were 
gusts that were almost little whirlwinds coursing up and down every 
street, carrying with them columns and clouds of dust. The dust 
accordingly lay piled up on one side of the way, swept off from the rest 
of the street; not lying there peacefully, but caught up again from time 
to time, whirled through the air, shaken out upon everybody and 
everything in its way, and finally swept to one side and deposited again. 

"It's the most horrid weather, mother, you can think of!" Rotha reported 
from her post of observation. "I shouldn't think anybody would be out; 
but I suppose they can't help it. A good many people are going about, 
anyhow. Some of them are so poorly dressed, mother! there was a woman 
went by just now, carrying a basket; I should say she had very little on 
indeed under her gown; the wind just took it and wrapped it round her, 
and she looked as slim as a post." 

"Poor creature!" said Mrs. Carpenter. 

"Mother, we never saw people like that in Medwayville." 

"No." 

"Why are they here, and not there?" 

"You must ask Mr. Digby." 

"I don't want to ask Mr. Digby!--There are two boys; ragged;--and 
barefooted. I don't know what they are out for; they have nothing to do; 
they are just playing round an ash-barrel. I should think they'd be at 
home." 

"Such people's home is often worse than the streets." 

"But you don't know how it blows to-day. I should think, mother," said 
Rotha slowly, "New York must want a great many good people in it." 

"There are a great many good people in it." 

"What are they doing, then?" 

"Looking out for Number One, mostly," Mrs. Cord answered, who happened to 
be in the room. 

"But it wants people rich enough to look out for Number One, and for 
Number Two as well." 

Mrs. Carpenter sighed. She knew there were more sides to the problem than 
the simple "one and two" which appeared to Rotha. 

"There comes a coal cart, mother; that has to go, I suppose, for somebody 
wants it. I should hate to drive a coal cart! Mother, who wants it here? 
It is backing down upon our sidewalk." 

"Mrs. Marble, I suppose." 

"No, she don't; she has got her coal all in; and this isn't her coal at 
all; it is in big lumps some of it, like what came for the grate, and it 
isn't shiny like the stove coal. It must be for you, I guess." 

Rotha ran down to see, and came back with the receipt for her mother to 
sign. Mrs. Carpenter signed with a trembling hand, and Rotha flew away 
again. 

"It is a whole cart-load, mother," she said coming back. 

"There is one good rich man in New York," said Mrs. Carpenter 
tremulously. 

"Do you think he is rich?" 

"I fancy so." 

"He hasn't spent so very much on us, has he?" asked Rotha consideringly. 

"It seems much to me. More than our share, I am afraid." 

"Our share of what?" 

"His kindness." 

"Who has the other shares?" 

"I cannot tell. Other people he knows, that are in need of it." 

"Mother, we are not in _need_ of it, are we? We could get along without 
oysters, I suppose. But what I am thinking of is, if he gives other 
people as good a share of his time as he gives us, he cannot live at home 
much. Where _does_ Mr. Digby live, Mrs. Cord?" 

"I don't know as I can say, Rotha. It is a hotel somewheres, I believe." 

"I should not think anybody would live in a hotel," said Rotha, 
remembering her own and her mother's experience of the "North River." 
"Now here comes another cart the carts have to go in all sorts of times; 
but O how the dust blows about! This cart is carrying something--I can't 
see what it's all wrapped up." 

"My dear Rotha," said her mother, "I am not interested to know what the 
carts in the street are doing. Are you?" 

"This one is stopping, mother. It is stopping _here!_" 

"Well, my dear, what if it is. It is no business of ours." 

"The other cart was our business, though; how do you know, mother? It has 
stopped here, and the man is taking the thing off." 

Mrs. Cord came to the window to look, and then went down stairs. Rotha, 
seeing that the object of her interest, whatever it were, had disappeared 
within doors, presently followed her. In the little bit of a hall below 
stood a large something which completely filled it up; and on one side 
and on the other, Mrs. Marble and Mrs. Cord were taking off the wrappings 
in which it was enfolded. 

"Well, I declare!" said the former, when they had done. "Aint that 
elegant!" 

"Just like him," said Mrs. Cord. "I guessed this was coming, or something 
like it." 

"What is it?" asked Rotha. 

"How much does a thing like that cost, now?" Mrs. Marble went on. "Oh see 
the dust on it! There's a half bushel or less. Here--wait till I get my 
brush.--How is it ever to go up stairs? that's what I'm lookin' at." 

Help had to be called in; and meantime Rotha rushed up stairs and 
informed her mother that a chair was come for her that was like nothing 
she had ever seen in her life; "soft all over," as Rotha expressed it; 
"back and sides and all soft as a pillow, and yet harder than a pillow; 
like as if it were on springs everywhere;" which was no doubt the truth 
of the case. "It's like getting into a nest, mother; I sat down in it; 
there's no hard place anywhere; there's no wood to it, that you can see." 

When a little later the chair made its appearance, and Mrs. Carpenter 
sank down into its springy depths, it is a pity that Mr. Digby could not 
have heard the low long-drawn 'Oh!--' of satisfaction and relief and 
wonder together, which came from her lips. Rotha stood and looked at her. 
Mrs. Carpenter was resting, in a very abandonment of rest; but in the 
abandonment of the moment shewing, as she did not use to shew it, the 
great enervation and prostration of her system. Her head, leaning back on 
the soft support it found, her hands laid exhaustedly on one side and on 
the other, the motionless pose of her whole person, struck Rotha with 
some strange new consciousness. 

"Is it good?" she asked shortly. 

"Very!" The word was almost a sigh. 

"What makes you so weak to-day?" 

"I am not weaker than usual." 

"You don't always look like that." 

"She's never had anything like that to rest in before," Mrs. Cord 
suggested. "A bed aint like one o' them chairs, for supportin' one 
everywhere alike. You let her rest, Rotha. Will you have an oyster, 
dear?" 

Rotha sat down at the corner of the fireplace and stared at her mother; 
taking the oyster, and yet not relinquishing that air of helpless 
lassitude. She was not sewing either; and had not been sewing, Rotha 
remembered, except by snatches, for several days past. Rotha sat and 
gazed at her, an anxious shadow falling upon her features. 

"You needn't look like that at her," said the good woman who was 
preparing Mrs. Carpenter's glass of wine; "she'll be rested now in a 
little, and feel nicely. She's been a wantin' this, or something o' this 
sort; but there aint nothing better than one o' them spring chairs, for 
resting your back and your head and every inch of you at once. Now she's 
got her oyster and somethin' else, and she'll pick up, you'll see." 

"How good it is you came to live here," said the sick woman. "I do not 
know what we should do without you. You seem to understand just how 
everything ought to be done." 

"Mother," said Rotha, "do you think I couldn't take care of you just as 
well? Didn't I, before Mrs. Cord came?" 

"You haven't had quite so much experience, you see," put in the latter. 

"Didn't I, mother?" the girl said passionately. 

Mrs. Carpenter answered only by opening her arms; and Rotha coming into 
them, sat down lightly upon her mother's lap and hid her head on her 
bosom. A shadow of, she knew not what, had fallen across her, and she was 
very still. Mrs. Carpenter folded her arms close about her child; and so 
they sat for a good while. Mother and daughter, each had her own 
thoughts; but those of the one were dim and confused as ever thoughts 
could be. The other's were sharp and clear. Rotha had an uneasy sense 
that her mother's strength was not gaining but losing; an uneasy 
impatience of her lassitude and powerlessness, which yet she could not at 
all read. Mrs. Carpenter read it well. 

She knew of a surety that her days were numbered; and not only so, but 
that the number of them was running out. Many cares she had not, in view 
of this fact; but one importunate, overwhelming, intolerable, were it not 
that the mother's faith was fixed where faith is never disappointed. Even 
so, she was human; and the question, what would be the fate of her little 
daughter when she herself was gone, pressed hard and pressed constantly, 
and found no solution. So the two were sitting, in each other's arms, 
mute and thoughtful, when Mr. Digby came in. 

Rotha did not stir, and he came up to them, bent down by the side of the 
chair and took Mrs. Carpenter's hand. If he put the usual question, Mrs. 
Carpenter did not answer it; her eyes met his silently. There was a power 
of grateful love and also of grave foreboding in her quiet face; one of 
those looks which from an habitually self-contained spirit come with so 
much power on any one capable of understanding them. The young man's eyes 
fell from her to Rotha; the two faces were very near each other; and for 
the first time Rotha's defiance gave place to a little bit of liking. She 
had not seen her mother's look; but she had watched Mr. Digby's eyes as 
they answered it, in their ear nest, intent expression, and then as the 
eyes came to her she felt the warm ray of kindness and sympathy which 
beamed from them. A moment it was, but Rotha was Mr. Digby's opponent no 
more from that time. 

"You seem to be having a pleasant rest," he remarked in his usual calm 
way. "I hope you have got all your work done for me?" 

"I never do rest till my work is done," said the girl. 

"That is a very good plan. Will you prove the fact on the present 
occasion?" 

Rotha unwillingly left her place. 

"Mr. Digby, what sort of a chair is this?" 

"A spring chair." 

"It is a very good thing." 

"I am glad it meets your approbation." 

"It meets mother's too. Do you see how she rests in it?" 

"Does she rest?" asked the young man, rather of Mrs. Carpenter than of 
her daughter. 

"All the body can," she answered with a faint smile. 

"'Underneath are the everlasting arms'--" he said. 

But that word caused a sudden gush of tears on the sick woman's part; she 
hid her face; and Mr. Digby called off Rotha at once to her recitations. 
He kept her very busy at them for some time; Latin and arithmetic and 
grammar came under review; and then he proceeded to put a pen in her hand 
and give her a dictation lesson; criticised her handwriting, set her a 
copy, and fully engrossed Rotha's eyes and mind. 


CHAPTER VI. 


A LEGACY. 


"Mother," said Rotha, when their visiter was again gone and her copy was 
done and she had returned to her mother's side, "I never knew before to-
day that Mr. Digby has handsome eyes." 

"How did you find it out to-day?" 

"I had a good look at them, and they looked at me so." 

"How?" 

"I don't know--as if they meant a good deal, and good. Don't you think he 
has handsome eyes, mother?" 

"I always knew that. He is a very fine-looking man altogether." 

"Is he? I suppose he is. Only he likes to have his own way." 

"I wonder if somebody else doesn't, that I know?" 

"That's the very thing, mother. If I didn't, I suppose I shouldn't care. 
But when Mr. Digby says anything, he always looks as if he expected it to 
be just so, and everybody to mind him." 

Mrs. Carpenter could not help laughing, albeit she was by no means in a 
laughing mood. Her laugh was followed by a sigh. 

"What makes you draw a long breath, mother?" 

"I wish you could govern that temper of yours, my child." 

"Why, mother? Haven't I as good a right to my own way as Mr. Digby, or 
anybody?" 

"Few people can have their own way in the world; and a woman least of 
all." 

"Why?" 

"She generally has to mind the will of somebody else." 

"But that isn't fair." 

"It is the way things are." 

"Mother, it may be the way with some people; but _I_ have got nobody to 
mind?" 

"Your mother?--" 

"O yes; but that isn't it. You are a woman. There is no man I must mind." 

"If you ever grow up and marry somebody, there will be." 

"I would _never_ marry anybody I had to mind!" said the girl  
energetically.

"You are the very person that would do it," said the mother; putting her 
hand fondly upon Rotha's cheek. "My little daughter!--If only I knew that 
you were willing to obey the Lord Jesus Christ, I could be easy about 
you." 

"And aren't, you easy about me?" 

"No," said the mother sadly. 

"Would you be easy if I was a Christian?" 

Mrs. Carpenter nodded. There was a pause. 

"I would like to be a Christian, mother, if it would make you feel easy; 
but--somehow--I don't want to." 

"I know that." 

"How do you know that?" 

"Because you hold off. If you were once willing, the thing would be 
done." 

There was silence again; till Rotha suddenly broke it by asking, 

"Mother, can I help my will?" 

"What do you mean?" 

"Why! If I don't want to be a Christian, can I make myself want to?" 

"That seems to me a foolish question," said her mother. "Suppose you do 
not want to do something I tell you to do; need that hinder your 
obeying?" 

"But this is different." 

"I do not see how it is different." 

"What is being a Christian, then?" 

"You know, Rotha." 

"But tell me, mother. I don't know if I know." 

"You ought to know. A Christian is one who loves and serves the Lord 
Jesus." 

"And then he can't do what he has a mind to," said Rotha. 

"Yes, he can; unless it is something wrong." 

"Well, he can't do _what he has a mind to;_ he must always be asking." 

"That is not hard, if one loves the Lord." 

"But I don't love him, mother." 

"No," said Mrs. Carpenter sadly. 

"Can I make myself love him?" 

"No; but that is foolish talk." 

"I don't see why it is foolish, I am sure. I wish I did love him, if it 
would make you feel better." 

"I should not have a care left!" said Mrs. Carpenter, with a sort of 
breath of longing. 

"Why not, mother?" 

"Get the Bible and read the 121st psalm,--slowly." 

Rotha obeyed. 

"'I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My 
help cometh from the Lord, which made heaven and earth'"--

"There! if you were one of the Lord's dear children, you would say that; 
that would be true of you. Now go on, and see what the Lord says to it; 
see what would follow." 

Rotha went on. 

"'He will not suffer thy foot to be moved; he that keepeth thee will not 
slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor 
sleep.'--_Israel_, mother." 

"The true Israel are the Lord's true children, of any nation." 

"Are they? Well--'The Lord is thy keeper; the Lord is thy shade upon thy 
right hand; the sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. 
The Lord shall preserve thee from all evil; he shall preserve thy soul. 
The Lord shall preserve thy going out and thy coming in, from this time 
forth, and even for evermore. Praise ye the Lord.'" 

"Would anybody be well kept that was kept so?" Mrs. Carpenter broke 
forth, with the tears running down her face. "O my little Rotha! my 
little daughter! if I knew you in that care, how blessed I should be!" 

The tears streamed, and Mrs. Carpenter in vain tried to wipe them dry. 
Rotha looked on, troubled, and a little conscience-stricken. 

"Mother," she began, "don't he take care of anybody except Christians?" 

"Yes," said Mrs. Carpenter; "he takes care of the children of Christians; 
and so I have faith that he will take care of you; but it is not just so. 
If you will not come to him now, he may take painful ways to bring you; 
if you will not trust him now, he may cut away everything else you trust 
to, till you flee to him for help. But I wish you would take the easier 
way." 

"But can I help my will?" said Rotha again, holding fast to that tough 
argument. "What can I do?" 

"I cannot tell. You had better ask Mr. Digby. I am not able for any more 
questions just now." 

"Mother. I'll bring you your milk," said Rotha, rather glad of a 
diversion. "Mother, do you think Mr. Digby can answer all sorts of 
questions?" 

"Better than I can." 

She brought her mother the glass of milk and the biscuit and sat watching 
her while she took them. She noticed the thin hands, the exhausted look, 
the weary attitude, the pale face. What state of things was this? Her 
mother eating biscuit and oysters got with another person's money; doing 
no work, or next to none; living in lodgings, but apparently without the 
prospect of earning the means to pay her rent; too feeble to do much but 
rest in that spring chair. 

"Mother," Rotha began, with a lurking, unrecognized feeling of anxiety--
"I wish you would make haste and get well!" 

Mrs. Carpenter was eating biscuit, and made no reply. 

"Don't you think you _are_ a little better?" 

"Not exactly to-day." 

"What _would_ do you good?" 

"Nothing that you could give me, darling. I am very comfortable. I wonder 
to see myself so supplied with everything I can possibly want. Look at 
this chair! It is almost better than all the rest." 

"That and the fire." 

"Yes; the blessed fire! It is so good!" 

"But I wish you'd get well, mother!" Rotha said with a half sigh. 

Mrs. Carpenter made no answer. 

"I don't see how we are going to do, if you don't get well soon," Rotha 
went on with a kind of impatient uneasiness. "What shall we do for money, 
mother? there's the rent and everything." 

"You forget what you have just been reading, my child. Do you think the 
words mean nothing?--'The Lord is thy keeper; the Lord is thy shade upon 
thy right hand. The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by 
night.'" 

"But that don't pay rent," said Rotha. 

"You think the Lord can do great things, and cannot do little things. I 
can trust him for all." 

"Then why cannot you trust him for me?" 

"I do." 

"Then why are you troubled?" 

"Because here your self-will comes in; and you may have to go through 
hard times before it is broken." 

"Broken? My self-will broken?" 

"Yes." 

"I do not want to be a creature without a will. I do not like such 
creatures." 

"You must talk to Mr. Digby, Rotha. I am too tired." 

"I won't tire you any more, mother dear! But I don't see why I should 
talk to Mr. Digby." 

And for a few moments Rotha was silent. Then she broke out again. 

"Mother, don't you think if you could get back to Medwayville you would 
be well again?" 

"I shall never go back to Medwayville," the sick woman said faintly. 

"But if you could get into the country somewhere? out of this horrid dust 
and these mean little streets. O mother, think of the great fields of 
grass, and the trees, and the flowers!" 

"Darling, I am very well here. Suppose you take the poker and punch that 
lump of coal, so that it may blaze up a little." 

Rotha punched the lump of coal, and sat watching the brilliant jets of 
flame that leapt from it, sending a gentle illumination all through the 
room; revolving in her mind whether it might be possible by and by to get 
her mother among the sights and sounds of the country again. 

As the spring advanced however, though the desirableness of such a move 
might be more apparent, the difficulty of it as evidently increased. The 
close, stifling air of the city, when the warm days came, was hard to 
bear for the sick woman, and hard in two ways for Rotha. But Mrs. 
Carpenter's strength failed more and more. There was no question now of 
her sewing; she did not attempt it. She sat all day in her spring easy 
chair, by the window or before the fire as the day happened to be, now 
and then turning over the leaves of her Bible which always lay open 
before her. And now Mr. Digby when he came would often take the book and 
read to her; and even talks of some length would grow up out of the 
reading; talks that seemed delightful to both the parties concerned, 
though Rotha could not understand much of it. Little by little the room 
had entirely changed its character, and no longer seemed to be a part of 
Mrs. Marble's domain. A fluffy rug lay under Mrs. Carpenter's feet; a 
pretty lamp stood on the table; a screen of Japanese manufacture, 
endlessly interesting to Rotha, stood between the weary eyes and the 
fire, when there was a fire; and Mrs. Carpenter herself was enveloped in 
a warm, soft fleecy shawl. As the warm weather came on indeed, this had 
to give place to something lighter. Then Mr. Digby brought fruit; early 
fruit, and foreign fruit; then a little India tea caddy of very nice tea 
stood on the table; tea such as in all her life Mrs. Carpenter had never 
drunk till now. She had long ceased to make any objection to whatever Mr. 
Digby pleased to do; taking it all as simply and as graciously as a 
child. Much more than her own child. However, Rotha was mollified towards 
their benefactor from that day above mentioned; and if she looked on 
wonderingly, and even a little jealously, at his unresisted assuming of 
the direction of their affairs, she no more openly rebelled. 

Mr. Digby, it may be remarked, kept her so persistently busy, that she 
had small time to disturb herself with any sort of speculations. Lessons 
were lively. History was added to Latin and arithmetic; Rotha had a good 
deal to read, and troublesome sums to manage; and finally every remnant 
of spare leisure was filled up by a demand for writing. Mr. Digby did not 
frighten her by talking of compositions, but he desired her to prepare 
now an abstract of the history of the crusades, now of the Stuart 
dynasty, now of the American revolution; and now again of the rise of the 
art of printing, or the use and manufacture of gunpowder. 

Studying out these subjects, pondering them, writing and writing over her 
sketches, Rotha was both very busy and very happy; and then the handing 
over her papers to Mr. Digby, and his reading them, and his strictures 
upon them, were a matter of intense interest and delight; for though 
Rotha trembled with excitement she was still more thrilled with pleasure. 
For she was just at the age when the mind begins to open to a rapturous 
consciousness of its powers, and at the same time of the wonderful riches 
of the fields open to the exercise of them. In her happy ignorance, in 
her blessed inexperience, Rotha did not see what the days were doing with 
her mother; and if occasionally a flash of unwelcome perception would 
invade her mind, with the unbounded presumption of her young years she 
shut her eyes and refused to believe in it. But all the while Mrs. 
Carpenter was growing feebler and wasting to more of a shadow. Rotha 
still comforted herself that she had "a nice colour in her cheeks." 

It came to be the latter end of June. Windows were open; what would have 
been delicious summer air came in laden with the mingled odours of street 
mud and street dust, garbage, the scents of butcher stalls and grocery 
shops, and far worse, the indefinable atmospheric tokens of poor living 
and uncleanness. Now and then a whiff of more energy brought a reminder 
not quite perverted of the places where flowers grow and cows pasture and 
birds sing. It only served to make the next breath more heavy and 
disappointing. Mrs. Carpenter sat by the window to get all the freshness 
she could; albeit with the air came also the sounds from without; the 
creak or the rattle of wheels on the pavement, the undistinguishable 
words of a rough voice here and there, the shrill cry of the strawberry 
seller, the confused, mixed, inarticulate din of the great city all 
around. A sultry heaviness seemed to rest upon everything, disheartening 
and depressing to anybody whose physical powers were not strong or his 
nerves not well strung for the work and struggle of life. There was a 
pump over the way; and from time to time the creak of its handle was to 
be heard, and then the helpless drip and splash of the last runnings of 
the water falling into the gutter, after the applicant had gone away with 
his or her pail. It mocked Mrs. Carpenter's ear with the recollection of 
running brooks, and of a certain cool deep well into which the bucket 
used to go down from the end of a long pole and come up sparkling with 
drops of the clear water.----

"Well, how do you do?" said the alert voice of Mrs. Marble by her side. 
"Sort o' close, aint it?" 

"Rather." 

"The city aint a place for Christians to live in, when it gets to this 
time; anyhow, not for Christians that aint good and strong. I'd like to 
put you out to pasture somewheres." 

"She won't go," said Rotha longingly. 

"I am, very comfortable here," said the invalid faintly. 

"Comfortable! well, I feel as if you ought to be top of a mountain 
somewheres; out o' this. _I'd_ like to; but I guess I'm a fixtur. Mr.  
Digby I'd find ways and means, I'll engage," she said, eyeing the sick  
woman with kindly interest and concern, who however only shook her head. 

"Could you eat your strawberries?" she asked presently. 

"A few of them. They were very nice." 

"I never see such berries. They must have been raised somewhere in 
Gulliver's Brobdignay; and Gulliver don't send 'em round in these parts. 
I thought, maybe you'd pay 'em the compliment to eat 'em; but when 
appetite's gone, it's no use to have big strawberries. That's what I 
thought a breath of hilly air somewheres would do for you."

And Mrs. Marble presently went away, shaking her head, just as Mr. Digby 
came in; exchanging a look with him as she passed. Mr. Digby came up to 
the window, and greeted Mrs. Carpenter with the gentle affectionate 
reverence he always shewed her. 

"No stronger to-day?" said he. 

"She won't go into the country, Mr. Digby," said Rotha. 

"You may go and get a walk at least, my child," Mrs. Carpenter said. "Ask 
Mrs. Cord to be so kind as to take you. Now while Mr. Digby is here, I 
shall not be alone. Can you stay half an hour?" she asked him suddenly. 

He gave ready assent; and Rotha, weary of her cooped-up life, eagerly 
sought Mrs. Cord and went off for her walk. Mrs. Carpenter and Mr. Digby 
were left alone. 

"I am _not_ stronger," the former began as the house door closed. "I am 
losing strength, I think, every day. I wanted to speak to you; and it had 
better be done at once." 

She paused, and he waited. The trickle of the water from the pump came to 
her ear again, stirring memories oddly. 

"You asked me the other day, whether I had no friends in the city. I told 
you I had not. I told you the truth, but not the whole truth. Before 
Rotha I could not say all I wished. I have a sister living in New York." 

"A sister!" Mr. Digby echoed the word in great surprise. "She knows of 
your being here?" 

"She does not." 

"Surely she ought to know." 

"No, I think not. I told you the truth the other day. I have not a 
friend, here or elsewhere. Not what you call a friend. Only you." 

"But your _sister?_ How is that possible?" 

Mrs. Carpenter sighed. "I had better tell you all about it, and then you 
will know how to understand me. Perhaps. I can hardly understand it 
myself." 

There was a pause again. The sick woman was evidently looking back in 
thought over days and years and the visions of what had been in them. Her 
gentle, quiet eyes had grown intent, and over her brows there was a fold 
in her forehead that Mr. Digby had never seen there before. But there was 
no trembling of the mouth. That was steady and grave and firm. 

"There were two of us," she said at last. "My father had but us two, how 
long it is ago!--" 

She was silent again with her thoughts, and Mr. Digby again waited. It 
was a patient face he was looking at; a gentle face; not a face that 
spoke of any experience that could be called bitter, yet the patient 
lines told of something endured or something resigned; it might be both. 
The last two years of experience, with a sister in the same city, must 
needs furnish occasion. But Mrs. Carpenter's brow was quiet, except for 
that one fold in it. Yet she seemed to have forgotten what she had meant 
to say, and only after a while pulled herself up, as it were, and began 
again. 

"It is not so long as it seems, I suppose, for I am not very old; but it 
seems long. We two were girls together at home, and my father was living; 
and I knew nothing about the world." 

"Was that here? in New York?" Mr. Digby asked, by way of helping her on. 

"O no. I knew nothing about New York. I had never been here. No; our home 
was not far from Tanfield; up in this state, near the Connecticut border. 
We lived a little out of the town, and had a nice place. My father was 
very well off indeed. I wanted for nothing in those days." She sighed. 

"The world is a strange place, Mr. Digby! I cannot comprehend, even now, 
how things should have gone as they did. We lived as happy as anybody; 
until a gentleman, a young lawyer of New York, began to make visits at 
our house. He paid particular attention to me at first; but it was of no 
use; I had learned to know Mr. Carpenter, and nobody else could be 
anything to me. He was a thriving lawyer; a rising young man, people 
said; and my father would have had me marry him; but I could not. So then 
he courted my sister. O the splash of that water from the pump over 
there! it keeps me thinking to-day of the well behind our house--where it 
stood on a smooth green plat of grass--and of the trickle of the water 
from the buckets as they were drawn up. Just because the day is so warm, 
I think of those buckets of well water. The well was sixty feet deep, and 
the water was clear and cold and beautiful--I never saw such water 
anywhere else; and when the bucket came slowly up, with the moss on its 
sides glittering with the wet, there was refreshment in the very look of 
it. Tanfield seems to me a hundred thousand miles away from Jane Street; 
and those times about a thousand years ago. I wonder, how will all our 
life seem when we look back upon it from the other side?" 

"Very much as objects seen under a microscope, I fancy." 

"Do you? Why?" 

"In the clear understanding of details, and in the new perception of the 
relative bearing and importance of parts." 

"Yes, I suppose so. Things are very mixed and confused as we see them 
here. Take what I am telling you, for instance; it is incredible, only 
that it is true." 

"You have not told me much yet," said her friend gently. 

"No. The gentleman I spoke of, the lawyer, he married my sister. And 
then, when I would have married Mr. Carpenter, my sister set herself 
against it, and she talked over my father into her views, and they both 
opposed it all they could." 

"Did they give any reasons for their opposition?" 

"O yes. Mr. Carpenter was only a farmer, they said; not my equal, and not 
very well off. I am sure in all real qualities he was much my superior; 
but just in the matter of society it was more or less true. He did not 
mix in society much, and did not care for it; but he had education and 
cultivation a great deal more than many that do; he had read and he had 
thought, and he could talk too, and well, to one or two alone. But they 
wanted me to marry a rich man. I think half the trouble in the world 
comes about money." 

"'The love of money is the root of all evil,' the Bible says." 

"I believe it. There was nothing else to be said against Mr. Carpenter, 
but that he had not money; if he had had it, nobody would have found out 
that he wanted cultivation, or anything else. But he was a poor man. And 
when I married him, my father cut me off from all share in the 
inheritance of his property." 

"It all fell to your sister?" 

"Yes. All. The place, the old place, and all. She had everything." 

"And kept it." 

"O yes. Of course. She is a rich woman. Her husband has prospered in his 
business; and they are _very_ well off now. They have only one child,  
too."

Mrs. Carpenter was silent, and Mr. Digby paused a minute or two before he 
spoke again. 

"Still, my dear friend, do you not think your sister would shew herself 
your sister, if she knew where you are and how you are? Do you not think 
it would be right and kind to let her know?" 

Mrs. Carpenter shook her head. "No," she said, "it would be no comfort to 
me; and you are mistaken if you think it would be any satisfaction to 
her. She is a rich woman. She keeps her carriage, and she has her 
liveried servants, and she lives in style. She would not like to come 
here to see me." 

"I cannot conceive it," said Mr. Digby. "I think you must unconsciously 
be doing her wrong." 

"I tried her," said Mrs. Carpenter. "I will not try her again. When my 
husband got into difficulties, and his health was giving way, and he was 
driven a little too hard, I wrote to my sister in New York to ask her to 
give us some help; knowing that she was abundantly able to do it, without 
hurting herself. She sent me for answer--" Mrs. Carpenter stopped; the 
words seemed to choke her; her lip quivered; and when she began to speak 
again her voice was a little hoarse. 

"She wrote me, that if my husband _died_, she would have no objection to  
my going back to the old place, and getting along there as well as I  
could; Rotha and I." 

One or two sore, sorrowful tears forced their way out of the speaker's 
eyes; but she said no more. And Mr. Digby did not know what further to 
counsel, and was also silent. The silence lasted some little time, while 
a strawberry seller was making the street ring with her cries of 
"Straw....berr_ees_," and the hot air wafted in the odours from near and 
far, and the water trickled from the pump nose again. At last Mrs. 
Carpenter began again, with some difficulty and effort; not bodily 
however, but mental. 

"You have been so exceedingly kind to me, to us, Mr. Digby, I--" 

"Hush," he said. "Do not speak of that. You have done far more for me 
than I ever can do for you?" 

"I? No. I have done nothing." 

"You saved my father's life." 

"Your father's life? You are under some mistake. I never knew a Mr. Digby 
till I knew you I never even heard the name." 

"You knew a Mr. Southwode," said he smiling.

"Southwode? Southwode! The English gentleman! But you are not his son?" 

"I am his son. I am Digby-Southwode. I took my mother's name for certain 
business reasons." 

"And you are his son! How wonderful! That strange gentleman's son!--But I 
did not do so much for your father, Mr. Southwode. You have done 
_everything_ for me." 

"I wish I could do more," said he shortly. 

"I am ashamed to ask,--and yet, I was going to ask you to do something 
more--a last service--for me. It is too much to ask." 

"I am sure it is not that," he said with great gentleness. "Let me know 
what you wish." 

Mrs. Carpenter hesitated. "Rotha does not know,"--she said then. "She has 
no idea--" 

"Of what?" 

"She has no idea that I am going to leave her." 

"I am afraid that is true." 

"And it will be soon Mr. Digby." 

"Perhaps not; but what is it you wish of me?" 

"Tell her--" whispered Mrs. Carpenter. 

The young man might feel startled, or possibly an inevitable strong 
objection to the service demanded of him. He made no answer; and Mrs. 
Carpenter soon went on. 

"It is wrong to ask it, and yet whom shall I ask? I would not have her 
learn it from any of the people in the house; though they are kind, they 
are not discreet; and Rotha would in any case come straight to me; and 
I--cannot bear it. She is a passionate child; violent in her feelings 
and in the expression of them. I have been thinking about it day and 
night lately, and I _cannot_ get my courage up to face the first storm of 
her distress. My poor child! she is not very fitted to go through the 
world alone." 

"What are your plans for her?" 

"I am unable to form any." 

"But you must tell me what steps you wish me to take in her behalf--if 
there is no one whom you could better trust." 

"There is no one whom I can trust at all. Except only my Father in 
heaven. I trust him, or I should die before my time. I thought my heart 
_would_ break, a while ago; now I have got over that. Do you know He has 
said, 'Leave thy fatherless children to me'?" 

Yet now the mother's tears were falling like rain. 

"I will do the very best I can," said the young man at her side; "but I 
wish you would give me some hints, or directions, at least." 

"How can I? There lie but two things before me;--that Mrs. Cord should 
bring her up and make a sempstress of her; or that Mrs. Marble should 
teach her to be a mantua-maker; and I am so foolish, I cannot bear the 
thought of either thing; even if they would do it, which I do not know." 

"Make your mind easy. She shall be neither the one thing nor the other. 
Rotha has far too good abilities for that. I will not give her to Mrs. 
Cord's or Mrs. Marble's oversight. But what _would_ you wish?" 

"I do not know. I must leave you to judge. You can judge much better than 
I. I have no knowledge of the world, or of what is possible. Mrs. Marble 
tells me there are free schools here--" 

"Of course she shall go to school. I will see that she does. And I will 
see that she is under some woman's care who can take proper care of her. 
Do not let yourself be troubled on that score. I promise you, you need 
not. I will take as good care of her as if she were a little sister of my 
own." 

There was silence at first, the silence of a heart too full to find 
words. Mrs. Carpenter sat with her head a little bowed. 

"You will lose nothing by it," she said huskily after a few minutes. 
"There is a promise somewhere--" 

But with that she broke down and cried. 

"I don't know what you will do with her!" she said; "nor what anybody 
will do with her, except her mother. She is a wayward child; passionate; 
strong, and also weak, on the side of her affections. She has never 
learned yet to submit her will, though for love she is capable of great 
devotion. She has shewed it to me this past winter." 

"Is there any other sort of devotion that is worth much?" asked the young 
man. 

"Duty?--" 

"Surely the devotion of love is better." 

"Yes--. But duty ought to be recognized for what it is." 

"Nay, I think it ought to be recognized for a pleasure. Here she comes.--
Well, Rotha, was the walk pleasant?" 

"No." 

"Indeed? Why not?" 

"How could it be, Mr. Digby? Not a bit of good air, nor anything pleasant 
to see; just all hot and dirty." 

"I thought you said there were some flowers in front of some of the 
shops?" her mother said. 

"Yes, mother; but they looked melancholy." 

"Did they?" said Mr. Digby smiling. "Suppose you go with me to-morrow, 
and I will take you to the Park." 

"O! will you?" said Rotha with suddenly opening eyes. "Can you?" 

"If Mrs. Carpenter permits." 



CHAPTER VII. 


MENTAL PHILOSOPHY. 


The next day being again warm, Mr. Digby did not come for Rotha till the 
afternoon was far advanced. They took then one of the street cars, which 
would bring them to the Park entrance. The way was long and the drive 
slow. It was also silent, of necessity; and both parties had leisure for 
thoughts, as well as material enough. 

Rotha was at first divided between the pleasure of seeing things, and a 
somewhat uneasy reflection upon her own appearance. She was not in 
general a self-conscious child; very much the reverse; but to-day she was 
with Mr. Digby, and she had an exalted idea of the requirements of 
everything even remotely connected with him. She was going in his 
company; under his charge; how did she look? She was not satisfied on 
that point. Mr. Digby himself was always so nice and perfect in his 
dress, she said to herself; she ought to be very nice to go with him. 
Truly she had put on the best she had; a white cambrick frock; it was 
clean and white; but Rotha had none but her everyday brown straw hat, and 
she knew _that_ was not "smart"; and her dress, she pondered it as she  
went along, she was sure it was very old-fashioned indeed. Certainly it  
was not made like the dresses of other girls of her own age, whom she saw  
in the car or on the sidewalk. Theirs were ruffled; hers was plain; theirs 
generally stood out in an imposing manner; while her own clung in slim 
folds around her slim little person. She concluded that she could not be 
in any degree what Mrs. Marble called "stylish." The exact meaning of 
that word indeed Rotha could not define; undefinedly she felt it to be 
something vastly desirable. She decided in her own mind that Mr. Digby 
was stylish; which it is true proved that the young girl had a nice 
feeling for things; since the fact, which was undoubted, was entirely 
unaccompanied by anything in matter or manner of wearing which could take 
the vulgar eye. Would he dislike going in public, she wondered, with a 
little figure like herself? She hoped not, she thought not; but thought 
it with a curious independence, which I am afraid was really born of 
pride though it took the semblance of good sense. 

Gradually the interest of other figures made Rotha forget her own. They 
came out from the poor part of the city where she dwelt; streets grew 
wide and shops lofty and imposing; equipages drove along, outstripping 
the slow-going car; and in them, what ladies, and what gentlemen, and 
what little girls now and then! This was the wonderful New York, at which 
she had now and then had a peep; this was something five hundred miles 
removed from Jane Street. What sort of human beings were these? and what 
sort of life did they live? and did money make all the difference, or was 
there some more intrinsic and essential distinction between them and 
their fellows in Abingdon Square? At any rate, how very, very much better 
off they were! 

Mr. Digby's musings had much less to do with the surface of things. I 
doubt indeed if he saw ought that was before his eyes, all the way to the 
Park. Not even Rotha herself; and yet she was the main subject of his 
cogitations. He was feeling that his kindness to Mrs. Carpenter had 
brought him into difficulties. The very occasion for this journey to the 
Park was bad enough; so disagreeable in fact that he did not like to look 
at it, and hardly had looked at it until now; he was going as a man goes 
into battle; and a rain of bullets, he thought, would have been easier to 
face. How he should accomplish his task he had as yet no idea. But 
supposing it done; and supposing all the trouble past for which he had to 
prepare Rotha; what then? What was he to do with the charge he had 
assumed? He, a young man without a family, with no proper home in the 
country of his abode, what was he to do with the care of a girl like 
Rotha? how should he manage it? If she had been a little child it would 
have been a more simple affair; but fourteen years old is not at all far 
removed from seventeen, and eighteen. Where should _her_ home be? and her 
future sphere of life? and where was the promised womanly protection 
under which he was to place her? He gave a glance at the girl. She was 
good material to work upon, that was one alleviation of his task; he had 
had some practical proof of it, and now, more carefully than ever before, 
he looked for the outward signs and tokens in feature and expression. And 
as Rotha had once declared that Mr. Digby's eyes were handsome, he now 
privately returned the compliment to hers. Yes, this child, who had an 
awkward appearance as to her figure--he did not know then that the effect 
was due to her dress--she had undoubtedly fine eyes. Poor complexion, he 
said to himself after a second glance, but good eyes. And not merely in 
shape and hue; they were full of speculation, full of thought, full of 
the possibilities of passion and feeling. There was character in them; 
and so there was in the well formed, well closed mouth. _There_ was 
refinement too; the lines were not those of an uncultured, low-
conditioned nature; they were fine and beautiful. It had never occurred 
to Mr. Digby before to think how Rotha promised to be in the matter of 
looks; although he had many a time caught the gleam of intelligent fire 
in the course of her recitations and his lesson giving, and once or twice 
had seen that passion of one kind or another was at work. He read now 
very plainly that his charge, to go back to the old philosophy of human 
nature which reckoned man to be composed of the four elements, had a 
great deal of the fire and the air in her composition, with little of the 
heaviness of the earth, and as little as possible of the lymphatic 
quality. It made his task the more interesting, and in so far lightened 
it; but it made it at the same time vastly more difficult. Here was a 
sensitive, quick, passionate, independent nature to deal with; how ever 
should he deal with it? And how ever was he to execute his purpose to-
day? the purpose with which he had brought her, poor child, to this walk 
in the Park. Was it not rather cruel, to begin a time of great pain with 
a taste of exquisite pleasure? Mr. Digby hardly knew what he would do, 
when he left the car with his charge and entered the Park. 

They went in at the great Fifth Avenue entrance; and for a few minutes he 
was engaged in piloting himself and her through the crowd of coming and 
going carriages; but when they reached quiet going and a secure footpath, 
he looked at her. It smote him. Such an expression of awakened delight 
was in her face; such keen curiosity, such simplicity and fulness of 
enjoyment. Rotha was at a self-conscious age, but she had forgotten 
herself; two years old is not more free from self-recollection. They 
walked along slowly, the girl reviewing everything in the lively show 
before her; lips parting sometimes for a smile, but with no leisure for a 
word. Her companion watched her. They walked on and on; turned now hither 
and now thither; Rotha remained in a maze, only mechanically following 
where she was led. 

It was a fine afternoon, and all the world was out. Carriages, riders, 
foot travellers; everywhere crowds of people. Where was Mr. Digby going 
to make the communication he had come here to make? He doubted about it 
now, but if he spoke, where should it be? Not in this crowd, where any 
minute some acquaintance might see him and speak to him. With some 
trouble he sought out a resting place for Rotha from whence she could 
have a good view of one angle of a much travelled drive, and at the same 
time both of them were in a sort hid away from observation. Here they sat 
down; but if Rotha's feet might rest, her companion's mind was further 
and further from any such point of comfort. They had exchanged hardly any 
words since they set out; and now the difficulty of beginning what he had 
to say seemed greater than ever. There was a long silence. Rotha broke 
it; she did not know that it had been long. 

"Mr. Digby--there are a great many things I do not understand." 

"My case too, Rotha." 

"Yes, but you understand a great many things that I don't." 

"What is troubling you now, with a sense of ignorance?" 

"I see in a great many carriages two gentlemen dressed just alike, 
sitting together; they are on the back seat always, and they always have 
their arms folded, just alike; what are they?" 

"Not gentlemen, Rotha; they are footmen, or grooms." 

"What's the difference?" 

"Between footmen and grooms?" 

"No, no; between a gentleman and a man that isn't a gentleman?" 

"You asked me that once before, didn't you?" 

"Yes; but I don't make it out." 

"Why do you try?" 

"Why Mr. Digby, I like to understand things." 

"Quite right, too, Rotha. Well--the difference is more in the feelings 
and manners than in anything else." 

"Not in the dress?" 

"Certainly not. Though it is not like a gentleman to be improperly 
dressed." 

"What is 'improperly dressed.'" 

"Not nice and neat." 

"Nice and neat--_clean_ and neat, you mean?" 

"Yes." 

"Then a gentleman may have poor clothes on?" 

"Of course." 

"Can anybody be _poor_ and be a gentleman?" 

"Not _anybody_, but a gentleman may be poor, certainly, without ceasing  
to be a gentleman." 

"But if he was poor to begin with--could he be a gentleman then?" 

"Yes, Rotha," said her friend smiling at her; "money has nothing to do 
with the matter. Except only, that without money it is difficult for a 
boy to be trained in the habits and education of a gentleman." 

"Education?" said Rotha. 

"Yes." 

"You said, 'feeling and manners.'" 

"Well, yes. But you can see for yourself, that without education it would 
be hardly possible that manners should be exactly what they ought to be. 
A gentleman should give to everybody just that sort of attention and 
respect which is due; just the right words and the right tone and the 
fitting manner; how can he, if he does not understand his own position in 
the world and that of other people? and why the one and the other are 
what they are." 

"Then I don't see how poor people can be ladies and gentlemen," said 
Rotha discontentedly. 

"Being poor has nothing to do with it, except so far." 

"But that's far enough, Mr. Digby." 

He heard the disappointed ambition in the tone of the girl's words. 

"Rotha," he said kindly, "whoever will follow the Bible rules of good 
manners, will be sure to be right, as far as that goes." 

"Can one follow them without being a Christian?" 

"Well no, hardly. You see, the very root of them is love to one's 
neighbour; and one cannot have that, truly and universally, without 
loving Christ first." 

"Then are all gentlemen Christians?" 

The young man laughed a little at her pertinacity. 

"What are you so much concerned about it, Rotha?" 

"I was just thinking."--

And apparently she had a good deal of thinking to do; for she was quite 
silent for some time. And Mr. Digby on his part went back to his problem, 
how was he to tell Rotha what he had promised to tell her? From their 
somewhat elevated and withdrawn position, the moving scene before them 
was most bright and gay. An endless procession of equipages--beautiful 
carriages, stately horses, pompous attendants, luxurious pleasure-takers; 
one after another, and twos and threes following each other, a continuous 
stream; carriages of all sorts, landaus, Victorias, clarences, phaetons, 
barouches, close coaches, dog carts, carryalls, gigs, buggies. Now and 
then a country affair, with occupants to match; now a plain wagon with a 
family of children having a good time; now an old gentleman and his wife 
taking a sober airing; then a couple of ladies half lost in the depths of 
their cushions, and not having at all a good time, to judge by their 
looks; and then a young man with nobody but himself and a pair of fast 
trotting horses, which had, and needed, all his attention; and then a 
whirl of the general thing, fine carriages, fine ladies, fine gentlemen, 
fine servants and fine horses; in all varieties of combination. It was 
very pretty; it was very gay; the young foliage of early summer was not 
yet discouraged and dulled by the heat and the dust; the air was almost 
country sweet, and flowers were brilliant in one of the plantations 
within sight. How the world went by!-- 

Mr. Digby had half forgotten it and everything else, in his musings, when 
he was aroused, and well nigh startled, by a question from Rotha. 

"Mr. Digby--can I help my will?" 

He looked down at her. "What do you mean, Rotha?" 

"I mean, can I help my will? I asked mother one day, and she said I had 
better ask you." 

Rotha's eyes came up to his face with their query; and whatever it might 
import, he saw that she was in earnest. Grave and intent the girl's fine 
dark eyes were, and came up to his eyes with a kind of power of search. 

"I do not think I understand you." 

"Yes, you do. If I do not like something--do not want to be something--
can I help my will?" 

"What do you not want to be?" said Mr. Digby, waiving this severe 
question in mental philosophy. 

"Must I tell you?" 

"Not if you don't like; but I think it might help me to get at your 
difficulty, and so to get at the answer you want." 

"Mr. Digby, can a person want to do something, and yet not be willing?" 

"Yes," said he, in growing surprise. 

"Then, can he _help_ not being willing?" 

"What is the case in hand, Rotha? I am wholly in the dark. I do not know 
what you would be at." 

To come nearer to the point was not Rotha's wish and had not been her 
purpose; she hesitated. However, the subject was one which exercised her, 
and the opportunity of discussing her difficulty with Mr. Digby was very 
tempting. She hesitated, but she could not let the chance go. 

"Mother wishes I would be a Christian," she said low and slowly. "And I 
wish I could, to please her; but I do not want to. Can I help my will? 
and I am not willing." 

There was a mixture of defiance and desire in this speech which instantly 
roused the somewhat careless attention of the young man beside her. 
Anything that touched the decision of any mortal in the great question of 
everlasting life, awoke his sympathies always to fullest exercise. It was 
not his way, however, to shew what he felt; and he answered her with the 
same deliberate calm as hitherto. Nobody would have guessed the quickened 
pulses with which he spoke. 

"Why do you not want to be a Christian, Rotha?" 

"I do not know," she answered slowly. "I suppose, I want to be free." 

"Go on a little bit, and tell me what you mean by being 'free.'" 

"Why--I mean, I suppose,--I _know_ I mean, that I want to do what I like." 

"You are taking the wrong way for that." 

"Why, I could not do what I liked if I was a Christian, Mr. Digby?" 

"A Christian, on the contrary, is the only person in this world, so far 
as I know, who can do what he likes." 

"Why, do you?" said Rotha, looking at him. 

"Yes," said he smiling. "Always." 

"But I thought--" 

"You thought a Christian was a sort of a slave." 

"Yes. Or a servant. A servant he is; and a servant is not free. He has 
laws to mind." 

"And you think, by refusing the service you get rid of the laws? That's a 
mistake. The laws are over you and binding on you, just the same, whether 
you accept them or not; and you have got to meet the consequences of not 
obeying them. Did you never think of that?" 

"But it is different if I _promised_ to obey them," said Rotha. 

"How different?" 

"If I promised, I must do it." 

"If you do not promise you must take the consequences of not doing it. 
You cannot get from under the law." 

"But how can you do whatever you like, Mr. Digby?" 

"There comes in your other mistake," said he. "I can, because I am free. 
It is you who are the slave." 

"I? How, Mr. Digby?" 

"You said just now, you wished you could be a Christian, but you could 
not. Are you free to do what you wish?" 

"But can I help my will?" 

The gentleman took out of his pocket a slim little New Testament which 
always went about with him, and put it into Rotha's hands open at a 
certain place, bidding her read. 

"'Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in 
my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, 
and the truth shall make you free.'" 

Rotha stopped and looked up at her companion. 

"Go on," he bade her; and she read further. 

"'They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to 
any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? 

"'Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever 
committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the 
house forever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make 
you free, ye shall be free indeed.'" 

Rotha looked at the words, after she had done reading. 

"Mr. Digby," she said then again, "can I help my will?" 

"No," said he, "for you are a poor bond-slave. But see what is written 
there. What you cannot do, Christ can." 

"Why don't he do it, then?" she said defiantly. 

"You have not asked him, or wished him to do it." 

"But why shouldn't he do it without my asking, or wishing, if he can?" 

"It is not his way. He says, 'Ask, and ye shall receive'; but he promises 
nothing to those who do not apply to him. And the application must be in 
good earnest too, Rotha; not the form of the thing, but the truth. 
'Blessed are they that _hunger and thirst_ after righteousness; for they 
shall be filled.'" 

"Then, if I asked him, could he change my will?" 

"He says, he can make you free. It was one thing he came to do; to 
deliver people from the bondage of sin and the power of Satan." 

"The power of Satan!" said Rotha. "I am not under _his_ power!" 

"Certainly you are. There are only two parties in the world; two 
kingdoms; those who do not belong to the one, belong to the other." 

"But Mr. Digby," said Rotha, now much exercised, "I hate the devil as 
much as you do." 

"Don't help, Rotha. 'From the power of Satan to God,' is the turn people 
take when they become Christians." 

"What makes you think I am under his power?" 

"Because I see you are not under the rule of Christ. And because I see 
you are doing precisely what Satan would have you do." 

"What?" said Rotha. 

"Refusing the Lord Jesus Christ, or putting off accepting him." 

Rotha was silent. Her breast was heaving, her breath coming thick and 
short. Mr. Digby's conclusions were very disagreeable to her; but what 
could she say? 

"I can't help my will," she said doggedly. 

"You see you are not honest with yourself. You have just learned that 
there is a remedy for that difficulty." 

"But Mr. Digby," said Rotha, "how is it that you can do what you like?" 

He smiled down at her, a pleasant, frank smile, which witnessed to the 
truth of his words and wrought more with Rotha than the words themselves; 
while the eyes that she admired rested on her with grave penetration. 

"There is an old promise the Lord gave his people a great while ago; that 
in the new covenant which he would make with them in Christ, he would 
write all his laws in their hearts. He has done that for me." 

"You mean--" said Rotha. 

"Yes, go on, and say what you think I mean." 

"You mean,--that what you like to do, is just what God likes you to do." 

"And never anything else, Rotha," he said gravely. 

"Well, Mr. Digby," said Rotha slowly, "after all, you have given up 
yourself." 

"And very glad to be rid of that personage." 

"But I don't want to give up myself." 

"I see." 

And there followed a long silence. Mr. Digby did not wish to add anything 
to his words, and Rotha could not to hers; and they both sat in 
meditation, until the girl's lighter humour got away from the troublesome 
subject altogether. Watching her, Mr. Digby saw the pleased play of 
feature which testified to her being again absorbed in the scene before 
her; her eye was alive, her lip moved with a coming and going smile. 

"It amuses you, does it not?" he said. 

"O yes!" Rotha exclaimed with a long breath. "I wish mother could see 
it." 

"She can," said Mr. Digby. "We will have a carriage and take her out. I 
don't know why I never thought, of it before." 

"A carriage? For mother? And bring her here?" said Rotha breathless. 

"Yes, to-morrow, if the day is good. It will refresh her. And meanwhile, 
Rotha, I am afraid we must leave this scene of enchantment." 

Rotha had changed colour with excitement and delight; now she rose up 
with another deep sigh. 

"There are more people than ever," she remarked; "more carriages. Mr. 
Digby, I should think they would be perfectly happy?" 

"What makes you think they are not?" said he amused. 

"They don't look so." 

"They are accustomed to it. They come every day or two." 

"Does that make it less pleasant?" 

"It takes off the novelty, you know. Most pleasures are less pleasant 
when the novelty is gone." 

"Why?" 

Mr. Digby smiled again. "You never found it so?" he said. 

"No. I remember when we were at Medwayville, everything I liked to do, I 
liked it more the more I did it." 

"You are of a happy temperament. What did you use to like to do there?" 

"O a load of things!" said Rotha sighing. "I liked our old dog, and my 
kittens; and riding about; and I liked very much going to the hay field 
and getting into the cart with father and riding home. And then--" 

But Rotha's words stopped suddenly, and her companion looking down at her 
saw that her eyes were brimming full of tears, and her face flushed with 
the emotion which almost mastered her. A little kind pressure of the hand 
he held was all the answer he made; and then they made their way through 
the crowd and got into the cars to go home. 

He had not discharged his commission; how could he? Things had taken a 
turn which made it almost impossible. It must be done another day. Poor 
child! The young man's mind was filled with sympathy and compassion, as 
he looked at Rotha sitting beside him and noted how her aspect had 
changed and brightened; just with this afternoon's pleasure and the new 
thoughts and mental stir and hope to which it had given rise. Poor child! 
what lay before her, that she dreamed not of, yet must face and meet 
inevitably. That in the near future; and beyond--what? No friend but 
himself in all the world; and how was he to take care of her? The young 
man felt a little pity for himself by the way. Truly, a girl of this 
sort, brimfull of mental capacity and emotional sensitiveness, was a 
troublesome legacy for a young man situated as he was. However, his own 
trouble got not much regard on the present occasion; for his heart was 
burdened with the sorrow and the tribulation coming upon these two, the 
mother and daughter. And these were but two, in a world full of the like 
and of far worse. He remembered how once, in the sight of the tears and 
sorrowing hearts around him and in view of the great flood of human 
miseries of which they were but instances and reminders, "Jesus wept;" 
and the heart of his servant melted in like compassion. But he shewed 
none of it, when he came with Rotha into her mother's presence again; he 
was calm and composed as always. 

"Mrs. Carpenter," he said, as he found himself for a moment alone with 
her, Rotha having run off to change her dress,--"you did not tell me your 
sister's name. I think I ought to know it." 

"Her name?" said Mrs. Carpenter starting and hesitating. What did he want 
to know her sister's name for? But Mr. Digby did not look as if he cared 
about knowing it; he had asked the question indifferently, and his face 
of careless calm reassured her. She answered him at last. 

"Her name is Busby." 

It was characteristic of Mr. Digby that his features revealed no 
quickening of interest at this; for he was acquainted with a Mrs. Busby, 
who was also the wife of a lawyer in the city. But he shewed neither 
surprise nor curiosity; he merely said in the same unconcerned manner and 
tone, 

"There may be more Mrs. Busby's than one. What is her husband's name?" 

"I forget--It begins with 'A.' I know; but I can't think of it. I can 
think of nothing but the name of that old New York baker they used to 
speak of--Arcularius." 

"Will Archibald do?" 

"That is it!" 

Mr. Digby could hardly believe his ears. Mrs. Archibald Busby was very 
well known to him, and he was a welcome and tolerably frequent visiter at 
her house. Was it possible? he thought; was it possible? Could that woman 
be the sister of this? and such a sister? Nothing in her or in her house 
that he had seen, looked like it. He made neither remark nor suggestion 
however, but took quiet leave, after his wont, and went away; after 
arranging that a carriage should come the next day to take Mrs. Carpenter 
to the Park. 


CHAPTER VIII. 


STATEN ISLAND. 


Mr. Digby had a great many thoughts during the next few days; some of 
which almost went to make Mrs. Carpenter in the wrong. The Mrs. Busby he 
knew was so very unexceptionable a lady; how could she be the black sheep 
of the story he had heard? Mrs. Carpenter might labour under a mistake, 
might she not? Yet facts are said to be stubborn things, and some facts 
were hard for the truth of the story. Mr. Digby was puzzled. He would 
perhaps have gone promptly to Mrs. Busby's home, to make observations 
with a keenness he had never thought worth while when there; but Mrs. 
Busby and all her family were out of town, spending the hot months at a 
watering place, or at several watering places. Meanwhile Mr. Digby had 
his unfulfilled commission to attend to. 

Mrs. Carpenter went driving to the Park now every pleasant day; to the 
great admiration of Mrs. Marble, the wonderful refreshment of the sick 
woman herself, and the extravagant delight and pride of Rotha. She said 
she was sure her mother would get well now. But her mother's eye, as she 
said it, went to Mr. Digby's, with a warning admonition that he must 
neither be deceived nor lose time. He understood. 

"I am going down to Staten Island to-morrow," he remarked. "Would you 
like to go with me, Rotha?" 

"Staten Island?" she repeated. 

"Yes. It is about an hour's sail from New York, or nearly; across the 
bay. You can become acquainted with the famous bay of New York." 

"Is it famous?" 

"For its beauty." 

"Oh I should like to go very much, Mr. Digby, if it was as ugly as it 
could be!" 

"Then when your mother comes from the Park in the morning, we will go." 

Rotha was full of delight. But her mother, she thought, was very sober 
during that morning's drive; she tried in vain to brighten her up. Again 
and again Mrs. Carpenter's eyes rested on her with a lingering, tender 
sorrowfulness, which was not their wont. 

"Mother, is anything the matter?" she asked at length. 

"I am thinking of you, my child." 

"Then don't think of me! What about me?" 

"I am grieved that a shadow should ever come over your gay spirits. Yet I 
am foolish." 

"What makes you think of shadows? I am going to be always as gay as I am 
to-day." 

"That is impossible." 

"Why?" 

"It is not the way of this world." 

"Does trouble come to everybody?" 

"Yes. At some time." 

"Well, mother dear, you can just wait till it comes. There is no shadow 
over me now, at any rate. If you were only well, I should be happy 
enough." 

"I shall never be well, my child." 

"O you say that just because a shadow has come over you. I wish I knew 
where it comes from; I would scare it away. Mother, mother, look, look!--
see that little carriage with the little horses, and the children 
driving! Oh--!" 

Rotha's expression of intense admiration is not to be given on paper. 

"Shetland ponies, those are," said her mother. 

"What are Shetland ponies?" 

"Ponies that come from Shetland." 

"And do they never grow any bigger?" 

"No." 

"How jolly!" 

"Rotha, that is a boy's word, I think." 

"If it is good for a boy, why isn't it good for me?" 

"I do not know that it is good for a boy. But a lady is bound to be more 
particular in what she says and does." 

"More than a gentleman?" 

"In some ways, yes." 

"I don't understand in what ways. Right is right, and wrong is wrong, 
whether one is a boy or a girl." 

Mrs. Carpenter sighed. What would bring just notions, who would teach 
proper ways, to her inquisitive child when she should be left motherless? 
Rotha perceived the deep concern which gathered in her mother's eyes 
again; and anew endeavoured by lively talk to chase it away. In vain. 
Mrs. Carpenter came home tired and exhausted. 

"I think she was worrying about something," Rotha said, when soon after 
she and her friend were on their way to Whitehall. "She does, now and 
then." 

Mr. Digby made no answer; and Rotha's next keen question was, 

"You look as if you knew what she was worrying about, Mr. Digby?" 

"I think I do." 

"Couldn't I know what it was?" 

"Perhaps. But you must wait." 

It was easy to wait. Even the omnibus ride to Whitehall was charming to 
Rotha's inexperienced eyes; and when she was on board the ferry boat and 
away from the quays and the city, and the lively waters of the bay were 
rolling up all around her, the girl's enjoyment grew intense. She had 
never seen such an extent of water before, she had no idea of the real 
look of the waves; a hundred thousand questions came crowding and surging 
up in her mind, like the broken billows down below her. In her mind; they 
got no further; merely to have them rise was a delight; she would find 
the answer to them some day. For the present it was enough to watch the 
changing forms and varying colours of the water, and to drink in the 
fresh breeze which brought life and strength with it from the sea. Yet 
now and then a question was too urgent and must be satisfied. 

"Mr. Digby, nobody could paint water, could they?" 

"Yes." 

"How could they? It is all changing, every instant; it won't stand still 
to be drawn." 

"Most things can be done, if one is only in earnest enough." 

"But how can this?" 

"Not without a great deal of study and pains. A man must watch the play 
of the waves and the shapes they take, and the colours of the different 
parts in any given sort of weather, until he has got them by heart; and 
then he can put the lines and the colours on the canvas. If he has the 
gift to do it, that is." 

"What has the weather to do with it? Different colours?" 

"Certainly. The lights and shadows vary with every change of the sky; and 
the colours vary." 

"Then a person must be very much in earnest," said Rotha, "ever to get it 
all." 

"There is no doing great things in any line without being very much in 
earnest. The start isn't the thing; it is the steady pull that tries." 

"Can you draw, Mr. Digby?" 

"Yes, a little." 

Again Rotha was all absorbed in what lay before and around her; getting 
unconscious education through her eyes, as they received for the first 
time the images of so many new things. To the people on board she gave 
scarcely any heed at all. 

Arrived at Brighton, Mr. Digby's first care was to give his charge and 
himself some refreshment. He took Rotha to a hotel and ordered a simple 
dinner. Then he desired to have a little wagon harnessed up, and putting 
the delighted girl into it, he drove to the sea shore and let her feast 
her eyes on the incoming waves and breaking surf. He himself was full of 
one thought, waiting for the moment when he could say to her what he had 
to say; but he was forced to wait a good while. He had made a mistake, he 
found, in choosing this precise direction for their drive. Rotha's 
overwhelming pleasure and entranced absorption for some time could not be 
broken in upon. She was too utterly happy to notice how different was her 
friend's absorption from her own; unless with a vague, passing 
perception, which she could not dwell upon. 

At last her friend asked her if she would like a run upon the sand, the 
tide being then out. He drove up to a straggling bit of fence, tied his 
horse, and lifted Rotha out; who immediately ran down to the narrow beach 
and as near to the water as she dared; there stood still and looked. 
There was but a gentle surf that day, with the ebb tide; but to Rotha it 
was a scene of unparalleled might and majesty. She was drinking in 
pleasure, as one can at fourteen, with all the young susceptibilities 
fully alive and strong. Mr. Digby could not interrupt her. He threw 
himself down 011 a dry piece of sand, and waited; watching her, and 
watching with a sad sort of pleasure the everlasting rise and breaking of 
those curling billows. Things spiritual and material get very mixed up in 
such a mood; and anon the ocean became to Mr. Digby somehow identified 
with the sea of trouble the tides of which do overflow all this world. 
The breaking waves were but the constantly occurring and recurring bursts 
of misfortune and disaster which overtake everybody. Here it is, there it 
is, it is here again, it is always somewhere; ay, far as the eye can 
reach. Here is this child, now,--

"Mr. Digby, you are tired--you don't like it--you are just waiting for 
me," Rotha said suddenly, with delicate good feeling, coming to his side. 

"I do like it, always. I am not tired, thank you, Rotha." 

"But you are not taking pleasure in it now," she said gently. 

"No. I was thinking, how full the world is of trouble." 

"Why should you think that just now? You had better think, how full it is 
of pleasure. It's as full--it seems to me as full--as the very sea 
itself." 

"Does your life have so much pleasure?" 

"To-day--" said the girl, with a rapt look out to sea. 

"And yet Rotha, it is for you I am troubled." 

"For me!" she said with a surprised look at him. 

"Yes. Suppose you sit down here for a few minutes, and let me talk to 
you." 

"I don't want to talk about trouble just now," she said; sitting down 
however as he bade her. 

"I am very sorry to talk about it now, or at any time; but I must. Can 
you bear trouble, Rotha?" 

There was something tender and grave and sympathizing in his look and 
tone, which somehow made the girl's heart beat quicker. That there was 
real gravity of tidings beneath such a manner, she felt intuitively; 
though she strove not to believe it. 

"I don't know,--" she said in answer to his question. "I _have_ borne it." 

"This is more than you have borne yet." 

"I had a father, once, Mr. Digby,--" she said with a curious self-
restraint that did not lack dignity. 

How could he answer her? He did not find words. And instead, there came 
over him such a rush of tenderness in view of what was surely to fall 
upon the girl, in the present and in the future, that for a moment he was 
unmanned. To hide the corresponding rush of water to his eyes, Mr. Digby 
was fain to bow his face in the hand which rested on his knees. Neither 
the action nor the cause of it escaped Rotha's shrewdness and awakened 
sense of fear, but it silenced her at the same time; and it was not till 
a little interval had passed, though before Mr. Digby had lifted up his 
head, that the silence became intolerable to her. She heard the sea and 
saw the breakers no more, or only with a feeling of impatience. 

"Well," she said at last, in a changed voice, hard, and dry,--"why don't 
you tell me what it is?" If she was impolite, she did not mean it, and 
her friend knew she did not mean it. 

"I hardly can, Rotha," he answered sorrowfully. 

"I know what you mean," she said, "but it isn't true. You think so, but 
it isn't true." 

"What are you speaking of?" 

"You know. I know what you mean; you are speaking of--mother!" The word 
came out with difficulty and only by stern determination. "It is not 
true, Mr. Digby." 

"What is not true, Rotha?" 

"You know. It is not true!" she repeated vehemently. 

"But Rotha, my child, what if it were true?" 

"You know it couldn't be true," she said, fixing on him a pair of eyes 
almost wild in their intensity. "It couldn't be true. What would become 
of me?" 

"I will take care of you, always." 

"You!" she retorted, with a scorn supreme and only matched by the pain 
with which she spoke. "What are you? It _couldn't_ be, Mr. Digby." 

"Listen to me, child. Rotha, I have come here to talk to you about it." 
He saw how full the girl's eyes were growing, of tears just swelling and 
ready to burst forth; and he stopped. But she impatiently dashed them 
right and left. 

"I don't want to talk about it. It's no use, here or anywhere else. I 
would like to go home." 

"Not yet. Before you go home I want you to be quite composed, and to have 
good command of yourself, so that you may not distress your mother. She 
cannot bear it. Therefore she asked me to tell you, because she dreaded 
to see your suffering. Can you bear it and hide it, Rotha, bravely, for 
her sake?" 

"_She_ asked you to tell me?" cried the girl; and Mr. Digby never forgot 
the face of wild agony with which she looked at him. He answered quietly, 
"Yes;" though his heart was bleeding for her. 

"She thinks--" 

"She knows how it must be. It is nothing new, or strange, or sorrowful, 
to her,--except only for you. But in her love for you, she greatly dreads 
to see your sorrow. Do you think, Rotha, for her sake, you can bear up 
bravely, and be quiet, and not shew what you feel? For her sake?" 

He doubted if the girl rightly heard him. She looked at him, indeed, 
while he spoke, as if listening; but her face was white, or rather livid, 
and her eyes seemed to be gazing into despair. 

"I do not think it can be, Mr. Digby," she said. "She don't look like it. 
And what would become of me? 

"I will take faithful care of you, Rotha, as long as you live, and I 
live." 

"You are nothing!" she said contemptuously. But then followed a cry which 
curdled Mr. Digby's blood. It was not a piercing shriek, yet it was a 
prolonged cry, pointed and sharpened with pain and heavy with despair. 
One such wail, and the girl dropped her face in her hands and sat 
motionless. Her companion would rather have seen sobs and tears; he did 
not know what to do with her. The soft beat and wash of the waves sounded 
drearily in the silence. Mr. Digby waited. Nothing but time, he knew, can 
cover the roughness of life's rough places with its moss and lichen of 
patience and memory. Comfort was not to be spoken of, not here. He 
comprehended now why Mrs. Carpenter had shrank from telling the tidings 
herself. But the day was wearing away; they must go home; the burden, 
however heavy, must be lifted and carried.---- 

"Rotha--my child--" he said after a long interval. 

No answer. 

"Rotha, my child, cannot you look up and speak to me? Rotha--my poor 
little Rotha--it is very heavy for you! But won't you make it as light as 
you can for your mother?" 

The child writhed away from under the hand he had gently laid on her 
shoulder; but uttered no sound. 

"Rotha--we must go home presently. Do you know, your mother will be very 
anxious to see you. She is expecting us now, I dare say." 

It came then, the burst of tears which he had dreaded and yet half longed 
for. The girl turned a little more from him and flung herself down on the 
sand, and there wept as he had never seen anybody weep before. With all 
the passion of an intense nature, and all the self abandonment of an 
ungoverned nature, sobbing such sobs as shook her whole frame, and with 
loud weeping which could not be restrained into silence. Better it should 
not be, Mr. Digby thought; better she should be allowed to exhaust 
herself so that very fatigue should induce quiet. But to the sitter-by it 
was unspeakably painful; a scene never to be recalled without a profound 
prayer, like Noah's, I fancy, after the deluge, that the like might never 
come again. 

And happily, nature did exhaust herself; and just because the passion of 
sobs and tears was so violent, it did yield after a time, as strength 
gave way. But it lasted fearfully long. However, at last Rotha grew 
quieter, and then still; and not till then Mr. Digby spoke again. He 
spoke as if all this had been an interlude not noticed by him. 

"Rotha, my child, can you gather up your courage and be quiet and be 
brave now?" 

She hesitated, and then in a smothered voice said, "I'm not brave." 

"I think you can be." 

"I wish--I could die," she said slowly. 

"But what we have to do, is to live and act for others. Yes, it would 
often seem a great deal easier to die; but we have something to do in the 
world. You have something to do. Your mother's comfort, and even the 
prolonging of her stay with us, may depend on your quietness and self-
command. For love of her, can you be strong and do it?" 

"I am not strong--" said Rotha, as she had spoken before. 

"Love makes people strong. And Jesus will help the weak, if they trust 
him, to do anything they have to do." 

"You know I am not a Christian," Rotha answered in the same matter-of-
fact way. 

"Suppose you do not let that be true after to-day." 

There was another silence. 

"I am ready to go, Mr. Digby," Rotha said. 

"And you will be a woman, and wise, and quiet?" 

"I don't know!" 

Mr. Digby thought it was not best to press matters further. He put Rotha 
into the wagon again and drove back to the hotel. Quiet she was, at any 
rate, now; he did not even see any more tears; but alas, of all the 
things in the world which she had been so glad to look at on the way 
down, she saw nothing on the way back. Driving or sailing, it was all the 
same; only when Mr. Digby put her into the omnibus at Whitehall he saw a 
flash of something like terror which crossed her face and left it 
blanched. But that was all. 

He went into the invalid's room at Mrs. Marble's with trepidation. Rotha 
however was merely less effusive and more hasty than usual in her 
greetings to her mother, and after a kiss or two turned away "to get her 
things off," as she said. And when Mrs. Cord unluckily asked her in 
passing, if she had had a pleasant day? Rotha choked, but managed to get 
out that it had been "as good as it could be." What she went through in 
the little hall room which served for closet and wardrobe, no one knew; 
but Mr. Digby, who stayed purposely till she came back again, was 
reassured to see that she was perfectly quiet, and that she set about her 
wonted duties in a grave, collected way, more grave than usual, but quite 
as methodical. He went away sighing, at the same time with a relieved 
heart. One of the hard things he had had to do in his life, was over. 

Mr. Digby however, as he walked homeward to his hotel, saw the 
difficulties yet in store for him. How in the world was he to perform his 
promise of taking care of this wildfire girl? Her aunt surely, would be 
the fittest person to be intrusted with her. If he only knew what sort of 
person Mrs. Busby really was, and how much of Mrs. Carpenter's story 
might have two sides to it? The lady was not in the city, or he would 
have been tempted to go and see her at once, for the purpose of studying 
her and gathering information. Nothing of the kind was possible at 
present; and he could only hope that Mrs. Carpenter's frail life would be 
prolonged until her sister's return to New York would lift, or might 
lift, one difficulty out of his path. 


CHAPTER IX. 


FORT WASHINGTON. 


No such hope was to be realized. With all that care and kindness could 
do, the sick woman failed more and more. The great heats weakened her. 
The drives in the Park were refreshing, but alas, fatiguing, and 
sometimes had to be relinquished; and this happened again and again. 
Rotha behaved unexceptionably; was devoted to the service of her mother; 
untiring, and unselfish, and quiet; "another girl," Mrs. Cord said. Poor 
child! she was another girl in more ways than one; her fiery brightness 
of spirits was over, her cheeks grew thin, her eyes had dark rings round 
them, and their brown depths were heavy with a shadow darker yet. 
Energetic she was, as ever, but in a more staid and womanly way; the 
gladness of her doings was gone. Still, Mrs. Carpenter never saw her 
weep. In the evenings, or in the twilight, when there was nothing 
particular to be done, the child would nestle close to her mother, lay 
her head in her lap or rest it against her knee, and sit quiet. Still, at 
least, if not quiet; Mrs. Carpenter did sometimes fancy that she felt the 
drawing of a convulsive breath; but if she spoke then to Rotha, Rotha 
would answer with a specially calm and clear voice; and her mother did 
not get at her sorrow, if it were that which moved her. And Mrs. 
Carpenter was too weak now to try. 

Mr. Digby came as usual, constantly. It was known to none beside himself, 
that he staid in town through the hot July and August days for this 
purpose solely. He saw that his sick friend grew weaker every day, yet he 
did not expect after all that the end would come so soon as it did. He 
had yet a lingering notion of bringing the sisters together, when Mrs. 
Busby should return. He was thinking of this one August afternoon as he 
approached the house. Mrs. Marble met him in the hall. 

"Well, Mr. Digby,--it's all up now!" 

The gentleman paused on his way to the stairs and looked his inquiry. 

"She aint there. Warn't she a good woman, though!" And Mrs. Marble's face 
was all quivering, and some big tears fell from the full eyes. 

"_Was?_" said Mr. Digby. "You do not mean--" 

"She's gone. Yes, she's gone. And I guess she's gone to the good land; 
and I guess she aint sorry to be free; but--_I_'m sorry!" 

For a few minutes the kind little woman hid her face in her apron, and 
sadly blotched with tears the apron was when she took it down. 

"It's all over," she repeated. "At two o'clock last night, she just 
slipped off, with no trouble at all. And the house does feel as lonely as 
if fifty people had gone out of it. I never see the like o' the way I 
miss her. I'd got to depend on her living up there, and it was good to 
think of it; there warn't no _noise_, more'n if nobody had been up there; 
but if I aint good myself and I don't think I be--I do love to have good 
folks round. She _was_ good. I never see a better. It's been a blessin'  
to the house ever since she come into it; and I always said so. An' she's 
gone!" 

"Where is Rotha?" 

"Rotha! she's up there. I guess wild horses wouldn't get her away. I 
tried; I tried to get her to come down and have some breakfast with me; 
but la! she thinks she can live on air; or I suppose she don't think 
about it." 

"How is she?" 

"Queer. She is always a queer child. I can't make her out. And I wanted 
to consult you about her, sir; what's to be done with Rotha? who'll take 
care of her? She's just an age to want care. She'll be as wild as a hawk 
if she's let loose to manage herself." 

"I thought she was very quiet." 

"Maybe, up stairs. But just let anybody touch her down here, in a way she 
don't like, and you'd see the sparks fly! If you want to know how, just 
take and knock a firebrand against the chimney back." 

"Who would touch her, here?" asked the gentleman. 

"La! nobody, except with a question maybe, or a bit of advice. I 
shouldn't like to take hold of her any other way. I never did see a more 
masterful piece of human nature, of fourteen years old or any other age. 
She aint a bad child at all; I'm not meaning that; but her mother let her 
have her own way, and I guess she couldn't help it. It'll be worse for 
Rotha now, for the world aint like that spring chair you had fetched for 
her poor mother. You've been an angel of mercy in that room, sure 
enough." 

Mr. Digby passed the good woman and began to ascend the stairs. 

"I wanted to ask you about Rotha," Mrs. Marble persisted, speaking up 
over the bannisters, "because, if that was the best, I would take her 
myself and bring her up to my business. I don't know who is to manage 
things now, or settle anything." 

"I will," said Mr. Digby. "Thank you, Mrs. Marble; I will see you again." 

"'Thank you, Mrs. Marble, I don't want you,' that means," said the little 
woman as she retreated to her own apartments. "There's somebody else a 
little bit masterful, I expect. Well, it's all right for the men, I 
s'pose, at least if they take a good turn; any way, we can't help it; but 
for a girl that aint fifteen yet,--it aint so agreeable. And poor child! 
who'll have patience with her now?" 

Meanwhile Mr. Digby went up stairs and softly opened the door of the 
sitting room. For some time ago, since Mrs. Carpenter became more feeble, 
he had insisted on her having her old sleeping apartment again, other 
quarters being found or made for Mrs. Cord in the house. Mrs. Cord had 
naturally assumed the duties of her profession, which was that of a 
nurse; for the sake of which, knowing that they would be needed, Mr. 
Digby had first introduced her here. 

At the window of the sitting room, looking out into the street, Rotha was 
sitting listlessly. No one else was in the room. She turned her head when 
she heard Mr. Digby's footsteps, and the face he saw then smote his 
heart. It was such a changed face; wan and pale, with the rings round the 
eyes that come of excessive weeping, and a blank, dull expression in the 
eyes themselves which was worse yet. She did not move, nor give any 
gesture of greeting, but looked at the young man entering as if neither 
he nor anything else in the world concerned her. 

Mr. Digby felt then, what everybody with a heart has felt at one time or 
another, that the office of comforter is the most difficult in the world. 
In one thing at least he imitated Job's friends; he was silent. He came 
close up to the girl and stood there, looking down at her. But she turned 
her wan face away from him and looked out of the window again. She 
looked, but he was sure she saw nothing. He did not venture to touch her; 
he saw that she was not open to the least token of tenderness; such a 
token would surely turn her apathetic calm into irritation. Perhaps even 
his standing there had some such effect; for after a little while, Rotha 
said, 

"Won't you sit down, Mr. Digby?" 

He sat down, and waited. However, people do not live in these days to be 
several hundred years old; and proportionately, seven days of silence 
would be more of that sort of sympathy than can be shewn since Job's 
time. Yet what to say, Mr. Digby was profoundly doubtful. Finding nothing 
that would do, of his own, he took his little Testament from his pocket, 
and turning the leaves aimlessly came upon the eleventh chapter of the 
Gospel of John. He began at the beginning and read slowly and quietly on 
till he came to the words, 

'"Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother 
had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, 
God will give it thee. 

"'Jesus said unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.'--" 

"Please don't, Mr. Digby!" said Rotha, who after a few verses had buried 
her face in her hands. 

"Don't what?" 

"Don't read any more." 

"Why not?" 

"I know how it goes on. I know what he did. But he will not do that--
here." 

"Yes, he will. Not immediately, but by and by." 

"I don't care for by and by." 

"Yes you do, Rotha. By and by the Lord Jesus will come again; and when he 
comes he will send his angels to gather up and bring to him all his 
people who are then living, scattered about in the world, and at the same 
time all his people who once lived and have died shall be raised up. Then 
will come your dear mother, with the rest, in beauty and glory." 

"But," said Rotha, bursting out into violent sobs, "I don't know where I 
shall be!"-- 

The paroxysm of tears and sobs that followed, startled Mr. Digby; it was 
so extreme in its passion beyond anything he had ever seen in his life; 
even beyond her passion on the sea shore. It seemed as if the girl must 
almost strangle in her convulsive oppression of breath. He tried soothing 
words, and he tried authority; and both were as vain as the recoil of 
waves from a rock. The passion spent itself by degrees, and was succeeded 
by a more gentle, persistent rain of tears which fell quietly. 

"Rotha," said Mr. Digby gravely, "that is not right." 

"Very likely," she answered. "How are you going to help it?" 

"I cannot; but you can." 

"I _can't!_" she exclaimed, with almost a cry. "When it comes, I must." 

"No, my child; you must learn self-command." 

"How can I?" she said doggedly. 

"By making it your rule, that you will always do what is _right_--not 
what you like." 

"It never was my rule." 

"Perhaps. But do you mean that it never shall be?" 

There followed a long silence, during which Rotha's tears gradually 
stilled; but she said nothing, and Mr. Digby let her alone. After this 
time, she rose and came to him and laid one hand half timidly, half 
confidingly, upon his shoulder. 

"Mr. Digby," she said softly, "because I am so wicked, will you get tired 
and forsake me?" 

"Never!" he answered heartily, putting his arm round the forlorn child 
and drawing her a little nearer. And Rotha, in her forlornness and in the 
gentle mood that had come over her, laid her head down on his shoulder, 
or rather in his neck, nestling to him. It was an unconscious, mute 
appeal to his kindness and _for_ his kindness; it was a very unconscious 
testimony of Rotha's trust and dependence on him; it was very child-like, 
but coming from this girl who was so nearly not a child, it moved the 
young man strangely. He had no sisters; the feeling of Rotha's silky, 
thick locks against the side of his face and the clinging appeal of her 
hand and head on his shoulder, gave him an entirely new sensation. All 
that was manly in him stirred to meet the appeal, and at the same time 
Rotha took a suddenly different place in his thoughts and regards. He was 
glad Mrs. Cord was not there to see; but if she had been, I think he 
would have done just the same. He drew the girl close to him, and laid 
his other hand tenderly upon those waving, thick, dark locks of hair. 

"I will never forsake you, Rotha. I will never be tired. You shall be 
like my own little sister; for your mother left you in my charge, and you 
belong to me now, and to nobody else in the world." 

She accepted it quietly, making no response at all; her violent passion 
had been succeeded by a gentle, subdued mood. Favourable for saying 
several things and making sundry arrangements; only that just then was 
not the time that would do. Both of them remained still and silent, Mr. 
Digby thinking this among other things; poor Rotha was hardly thinking at 
all, any more than a shipwrecked man just flung ashore by the waves, and 
clinging to the rock that has saved him from sweeping out to sea again, 
lie blesses the rock, maybe, but it is no time for considering anything. 
The one idea is to hold fast; and Rotha mentally did it, with an 
intensity of trust and clinging that her protector never guessed at. 

"Then I must do what you say, now?" she remarked after a while. 

"I suppose so," he answered, much struck by this tone of docility. 

"I will try, Mr. Digby." 

"Will you trust me too, Rotha?" 

"For what?" 

"I mean, will you trust me that what I do for you, or want you to do, is 
the best thing to be done?" 

Rotha lifted her head from his shoulder and looked at him. 

"What do you want me to do?" she asked. 

"Nothing, to-day; by and by, perhaps many things. My question was 
general." 

"Whether I will trust that what you say is the best?" 

"Yes." 

"Mr. Digby, mightn't you be mistaken?" 

"Rotha, might not you? And would it not be more likely?" 

Rotha began to reflect that in her past life she had not been wont to 
give such unbounded trust to anybody; not even to her father, and not 
certainly to her mother. She had sometimes thought them mistaken; how 
could she help that? and how could she help it in any other case, if 
circumstances warranted it? But with the thought of her mother, tears 
rose again, and she did not speak. Just then Mrs. Cord came in. 

"O I am glad you are there, sir!" she began. "I wanted to speak to you, 
if you please." 

Mr. Digby unclosed his arm from about Rotha, and she withdrew quietly to 
her former station by the window. The other two went into the adjoining 
room, and there Mrs. Cord received instruction and information as to 
various points of the arrangements for the next few days. 

"And what will I do with Rotha, sir?" she asked finally. 

"Do with her? In what respect?" 

"She won't eat, sir." 

"She will, I fancy, the next time it is proposed to her." 

"She's very hard to manage," said Mrs. Cord, shaking her head. "She will 
have her own way, always." 

"Wel--let her have it." 

"But other people won't, sir; and I think it's bad for her. She's had it, 
pretty much, all along; but now--she don't care for what I say, no more'n 
if I was a post! Nor Mrs. Marble, nor anybody. And is Mrs. Marble going 
to take her, sir?" 

"Not at all. Her mother left her in my care." 

"Oh!--" said the good woman, with a rather prolonged accent of 
mystification and disapprobation; wondering, no doubt, what disposal Mr. 
Digby could make of her, better than with Mrs. Marble; but not venturing 
to ask. 

"Nothing can be done, till after the funeral," the young man went on. 
"Take all the care of her you can until then. By the way, if you can give 
me something to eat, I will lunch here. If you have nothing in the house, 
I can get something in a few minutes." 

Mrs. Cord was very much surprised; however, she assured Mr. Digby that 
there was ample supply in the house, and went on, still with a mystified 
and dissatisfied feeling, to prepare and produce it. She knew how, and 
very nicely an impromptu meal was spread in a few minutes. Mr. Digby 
meanwhile went out and got some fruit; and then he and Rotha sat down 
together. Rotha was utterly gentle and docile; did what he bade her and 
took what he gave her; indeed it was plain the poor child was in sore 
need of food, which she had had thus far no heart to eat. Mr. Digby 
prolonged the meal as much as he could, that he might spend the more time 
with her; and when he went away, asked her to lie down and go to sleep. 

Those must be heavy days, he knew, till the funeral was over. What then? 
It was a question. Mrs. Busby would not be in town perhaps before the end 
of September; and here it was the middle of August. Near two months of 
hot weather to intervene. What should he do? He would willingly be out of 
the city himself; and for Rotha, the spending all these weeks in her 
mother's old rooms, in August weather, and with Mrs. Cord and Mrs. Marble 
for companions, did not seem expedient. It would be good for neither body 
nor mind. But he could not take her to any place of public resort; that 
would not be expedient either. He pondered and pondered, and was very 
busy for the next two or three days. 

The result of which activity was, that he took rooms in a pleasant house 
at Washington Heights, overlooking the river, and removed Rotha there, 
with Mrs. Cord to look after her. But as he himself also took up his 
abode in the house, Mrs. Cord's supervision was confined to strictly 
secondary matters. He had his meals in company with Rotha, and was with 
her most of the time, and was the sole authority to which she was obliged 
to refer. 

It was an infinite blessing to the child, whose heart was very sore, and 
who stood in need of very judicious handling. And somewhat to Mr. Digby's 
surprise, it was not a bore to himself. The pleasure of ministering is 
always a pleasure, especially when the need is very great; it is also a 
pleasure to excite and to receive affection; and he presently saw, with 
some astonishment, that he was doing this also. Certainly it was not a 
thing in the circumstances to be astonished at; and it moved Mr. Digby 
so, simply because he was so far from thinking of himself in his present 
plan of action. All the pleasanter perhaps it was, when he saw that the 
forlorn girl was hanging upon him all the dependence of a very trusting 
nature, and giving to him all the wealth of a passionate power of loving. 
This came by degrees. 

At first, in a strange place and with new surroundings and utterly 
changed life, the girl was exceedingly forlorn. The days passed in 
alternations of violent outbreaks of grief and fits of seeming apathy, 
which I suppose were simply nature's reaction from overstrain and 
exhaustion. The violence she rarely shewed in Mr. Digby's presence; Rotha 
was taking her first lessons in self-command; nevertheless he saw the 
work that was going on, knew it must be, for a time, and wisely abstained 
from interference with it. "There is a time to weep"; and he knew it was 
now; comfort would be mockery. He was satisfied that Rotha should have so 
much diversion from her sorrow as his presence occasioned; that she 
should be obliged to meet him at meals, and to behave then with a certain 
degree of outward calm, and the necessary attention to little matters; 
all useful in a sort of slow, unnoticed way. Otherwise for a few days he 
let her alone. But then he began to give her things to do. Lessons were 
taken up again, by degrees multiplied, until Rotha's time was well filled 
with occupation. It went very hard at first. Rotha even ventured on a 
little passive rebellion; even declared she could not study. Mr. Digby 
shewed her that she could; helped her, led her on, and let her see 
finally that he expected certain things of her, which she could not 
neglect without coming to an open rupture with him. That was impossible. 
Rotha bent her will to do what was required of her; and from that time 
the difficulty of Mr. Digby's task was over. She began soon to be 
interested again in what she was about and to make excellent progress. 
Then Mr. Digby would put himself in a hammock on the piazza or out under 
a great walnut-tree, and make Rotha read to him, and incite her to talk 
of what she read; or he would give her lessons in drawing; both occasions 
of the utmost gratification to Rotha; and when the scorching sun had got 
low down over the Palisades, he would take her in an easy little vehicle 
and go for a long drive. So one way and another they came to be together 
all the time. And after the first miserable days were past, and Rotha had 
been constrained to busy herself with something besides herself; her 
mental powers called into vigorous exertion and furnished with an 
abundant supply of new food; by degrees a sort of enjoyment began to 
creep into her life again, and grew, and grew. It was a help, that 
everything was so strange about her. Even her own dress. 

"Mrs. Cord," Mr. Digby had said in the first week of this new life,--"how 
is Rotha off for clothes?" 

"Well, sir," said the nurse, "of course they were people not likely to 
have much of that sort of thing; but Rotha has what will do her through 
the warm season." 

"But is she supplied as a young lady ought to be, with everything 
needful?" 

"As a young lady!--no, sir. It's what she never set up for, and don't 
need, and knows nothing about. Her mother was a very good woman, and 
didn't pretend to dress her as a young lady. But she's comfortable." 

Mr. Digby half smiled at the collocation of things, however he went on 
with full seriousness. 

"She will go to school by and by, and she will go there as a young lady. 
I wish, Mrs. Cord, you would see to it, as far as you know, that she has 
a full supply of everything. Go to one of the best shops for outfits and 
get plenty of every thing and of good quality, and send the bills to me. 
And get Mrs. Marble to make her some dresses." 

"Mourning, sir?" 

"No. Simple things, but no black." 

"I asked, because it's customary, sir." 

"It's a bad custom; better broken." 

"Then what shall I get, sir?" asked Mrs. Cord with unwonted stolidity. 

"You need not get anything. I will see to it myself. Only the linen and 
all that, Mrs. Cord, which I should not know how to get. The rest I will 
take care of." 

And he took such good care, that the good woman was filled with a 
displeased surprise which was inexplicable. Why should she be displeased? 
Yet Mrs. Cord was quite "put about," as she said, when the things came 
home. They were simple things, indeed; a few muslins and ginghams and the 
like. But the ginghams were fine and beautiful, and the muslins of 
delicate patterns and excellent quality; and with them came a set of fine 
cambrick handkerchiefs, and ruffles, and lace, and a little parasol, and 
a light summer wrap; for Rotha had nothing to put on that made her fit to 
go to drive with her guardian. He had taken her, all the same, dressed as 
she was, but it seems he thought there must be a change in this state of 
things. Mrs. Cord was full of dissatisfaction; and when she took the 
dresses to Mrs. Marble to be made up, the two good women held a regular 
pow wow over them. 

"Muslin like that!" cried the little mantua-maker with an expression of 
strong distaste. "Why that _never_ cost less than fifty cents, Mrs. Cord! 
My word, it didn't." 

"Just think of it! And for that girl, who never wore anything but 
sixpenny calico if she could get it. Men are the stupidest!--" 

"That ashes-of-roses lawn is the prettiest thing I've seen yet. Mrs. 
Cord, she don't want all these?" 

"So I say," returned the nurse; "but I wasn't consulted. That aint all; 
you should have seen the ruffles, and the ribbands, and the 
pockethandkerchiefs; and then he took her somewhere, Stewart's, I 
shouldn't wonder, and got her gloves and gloves; and then a lovely 
Leghorn hat, with a brim wide enough to swallow her up. And now you must 
make up these muslins, and let us have one soon; for my master is in a 
hurry." 

The little mantua-maker contemplated the muslins, and things generally. 

"There's not the first sign o' black among 'em all! Not a line, nor a 
sprig, nor a dot." 

"Maybe that's English ways," returned the nurse; "but if it is, I never 
heerd so before." 

"Well I like to see mournin' put on, if it's only respect," went on the 
dress-maker; "and a girl hadn't ought to be learnt to forget her own 
mother, before she's well out of sight. I'd ha' dressed her in black, 
poor as I am, and not a sign o white about her, for one year at least. I 
think it looks sort o' rebellious, to do without it. Why I've known folks 
that would put on mourning if they hadn't enough to eat; and I admire 
that sort o' sperit." 

The nurse nodded. 

"Just look here, now! What's he thinkin' about, Mrs. Cord?" 

"Just that question I've been askin' myself, Mrs. Marble; and I can't get 
no answer to it." 

"What's he goin' to do with her?" 

"He says, send her to school." 

"These aint for school dresses." 

"O no; these are to go ridin' about in, with him." 

"Well _I_ think, somebody ought to take charge of her. A young man like 
that, aint the person to do it Taint likely he's goin' to bring her up to 
marry her, I suppose." 

"She's too young for such thoughts," said the nurse. 

"She's young, but she aint far from bein' older," Mrs. Marble went on 
significantly. "When a girl's once got to fifteen, she's seventeen before 
you can turn round." 

"There'll have to be somebody else to wait upon her, I know, besides me," 
returned the nurse. "That aint my business. And it's all I'm wanted for 
now. Nobody can say a word to my young lady if it isn't the gentleman 
hisself; and she's with him all the while, and not with me. I aint goin' 
to put up with it long, I can tell 'em." 

Mr. Digby's pay was good however, and Mrs. Cord did not find it 
convenient to give notice immediately; and also the muslin dresses were 
made and well made, and sent home to the day. 

All these her new possessions and equipments were regarded by Rotha 
herself with a mixture of pleasure and mortification. The pleasure was 
undeniable; the girl had a nice sense of the fitness of things, inborn 
and natural and only needing cultivation. It was getting cultivation 
fast. She had a subtle perception that the new style of living into which 
she had come was superior to the old ways in which she had been brought 
up; not merely in the vulgar item of costliness, but in the far higher 
qualities of refinement and propriety and beauty. Her mother and father 
had been indeed essentially refined people, of good sense and good taste 
as far as their knowledge went. Rotha began to perceive that it had 
stopped short a good deal below the desirable point. Also she felt 
herself thoroughly in harmony with the new life, little as she had known 
of it hitherto; and was keen to discern and quick to adopt every fresh 
point of greater refinement in habits and manners. Mr. Digby now and then 
at table would say quietly, "This is the better way, Rotha,"--or, 
"Suppose you try it _so_."--He never had to give such a hint a second  
time. He never had to tell her anything twice. What he did, Rotha held to  
be "wisest, discreetest, best," the supreme model in everything; and she 
longed with a kind of passion to be like him in these, and in all 
matters. So it was with a gush of great satisfaction that the girl for 
the first time saw herself well and nicely dressed. She knew the 
difference between her old and her new garments, knew it correctly; did 
not place the advantage of the latter in their colour or fineness; but 
recognized quite well that now she looked as if she belonged to Mr. 
Digby, while before, nobody could have thought so for a moment. The 
pleasure was keen. Yet it mingled, as I said, with a sting of 
mortification. Not simply that her new things were his gift and came to 
her out of his bounty, though she felt that part of the whole business; 
but it pained her to feel that her own father and mother had stood below 
anybody in knowledge of the world and use of its elegant proprieties. 
Rotha was perfectly clear-sighted, and knew it, from the very keen 
delight with which she herself accepted and welcomed this new initiation. 

The prevailing feeling however was the pleasure; though in Rotha's face 
and manner I may say there was no trace of it, the first day she was what 
Mr. Digby would have called "properly dressed," and met him in their 
little sitting room. She came in gravely, (she was already trying to 
imitate his quietness of manner) and came straight up to Mr. Digby where 
he was standing in the window. Rotha waited a minute, and then looked up 
at him, blushing. 

"Do you like it?" she asked frankly. 

His eye caught the new muslin, and he stepped back a step to take a view. 

"Yes," he said smiling. "That's very well. Is it comfortable?" 

"O yes." 

"That's well," he said. "I always think it the prime question in a coat, 
whether it is comfortable." 

He came back to his place in the window, so making an end of the subject; 
but Rotha had not said all that she wished to say. 

"Mrs. Cord wanted me to put this on to-day, though it was not Sunday; was 
she right?" 

"Eight? certainly. Why should one be better dressed Sunday than any other 
day?" 

"I thought people did--" said Rotha, much confused in her ideas. 

"And right enough," said Mr. Digby, recollecting himself, "in the cases 
where the work to be done in the week would injure or soil a good dress. 
But in other cases?--" 

"On Sunday one goes to church," said Rotha. 

"Well,--what then?" 

"Oughtn't one to be better dressed to go to church?" 

"Why should you?" 

Rotha was so much confounded that she had nothing to say. This was 
overturning all her traditions. 

"What do you go to church for, Rotha?" 

"I _ought_ to go--to think about God, I suppose." 

"Well, and would much dressing help you?" 

Rotha considered. "I don't think it helps much," she confessed. 

"You say, you ought to go for such a reason;--what is your real reason?" 

"For going? Because mother took me; or made me go without her." 

"You are honest," said Mr. Digby smiling. "You will agree with me that 
that is a poor reason; but I am glad you understand yourself, and are not 
deceived about it." 

"I don't think I understand myself, Mr. Digby." 

"Why not?" 

"Because, sometimes I am in great confusion, and can _not_ understand 
myself." 

"Let me help you when those times come." 

"One of the times is to-day," said Rotha in a low tone. 

"Ah? What's the matter?" said he looking down kindly at her. Rotha had 
laid her forehead against the edge of the window frame, and was looking 
out with an intent grave eye which amused him, and made him curious too. 

"Because I want to tell you something of how feel, Mr. Digby, and I 
cannot."--(He had told her not to say _can't_, and now she never did.) 
"It's all mixed up, and I don't know what comes first; and you will think 
I am--ungrateful." 

"Never in the world!"  said he heartily. "I shall never think that. I 
think I know you pretty well, Rotha." 

Yet he was hardly prepared for the look she gave him; a glance only, but 
so intent, so warm, so laden with gratitude, ay, and so burdened with a 
yet deeper feeling, that Mr. Digby was well nigh startled. It was not the 
flash of brilliancy of which Rotha's eyes were quite capable; it was a 
rarer thing, the dark glow of a hidden fire, true, and deep, and pure, 
and unconscious of itself. It gave the young man something to think of. 


CHAPTER X. 


L'HOMME PROPOSE. 


Mr. Digby thought of it a good deal. He was obliged to recognize the 
fact, that this friendless child was pouring upon him all the affection 
of a very passionate nature. Child, he called her in his thoughts, and 
yet he knew quite well that the time was not distant when Rotha would be 
a child no longer. And already she loved him with the intensity of a 
concentrated power of loving. Certainly this was not what Mr. Digby 
wished, or had in any wise contemplated as possible, and it seemed to him 
both undesirable and inconvenient; and yet, it is sweet to be loved; and 
he could not recall that intense look of devotion without a certain 
thrill. Because of its beauty, he said to himself; but it was also 
because of its significance. He read Rotha; he knew that she was one of 
those natures which have a great tendency to concentration of affection; 
with whom the flow of feeling is apt to be closed in to a narrow channel, 
and in that channel to be proportionately sweeping and powerful. What 
training could best be applied to correct this tendency, not happy for 
the possessor, nor beneficent in its effects upon others? These are the 
sort of natures that when untrained and ungoverned, use upon occasion the 
dagger and the poison cup; or which even when not untrained are in 
danger, in certain cases of shipwreck, of going to pieces altogether. In 
danger at all times of unwise, inconsiderate acting; as when such a 
stream meets with resistance and breaks its bounds, spreading waste and 
desolation where it comes. Truly, he trusted that this little girl's 
future might be so sheltered and cared for, that no such peril might 
overtake her; but how could he know? What could he do? and what anyhow 
was to be the outcome of all this? It was very pleasant to have her love 
him, but he did not want her to love him too well. At any rate, _he_ could 
not be her tutor permanently; he had something else to do, and if he had 
not, the arrangement would be inadmissible. Mrs. Busby would return to 
town in a few weeks, and then-- Yes, there was nothing else to do. Rotha 
must go under her aunt's care, for the present. How would they agree? Mr. 
Digby did not feel sure; he had an anticipation that the change would be 
a sore trial to Rotha. But--it must be made. 

He lay in his hammock one day, thinking all this over. Rotha was sitting 
near him drawing. She was always near him when she could be so, though a 
spaniel is not more unobtrusive. Nor indeed half as much so; for a pet 
dog will sometimes try to attract attention, which Rotha never did. She 
was content and happy if she could be near her one friend and glance at 
him from time to time. And lately Rotha had become extremely fond of her 
pencil; I might say, of all the studies Mr. Digby put before her. 
Whatever he wished her to do, she did with a will. But drawing had grown 
to be a passion with her, and naturally she was making capital progress. 
She sat absorbed in her work, her eyes intently going from her model to 
her paper and back again; nevertheless, every now and then one swift 
glance went in Mr. Digby's direction. No model, living or dead, equalled 
in her eyes the pleasantness of his face and figure. He caught one of 
those glances; quick, wistful, watchful, and meeting his eye this time, 
it softened with an inexplicable sort of content. The young man could 
have smiled, but that the look somehow gave him a touch of pain. He 
noticed Rotha more particularly, as she sat at her drawing. He noticed 
how she had changed for the better, even in the few weeks since they came 
to Fort Washington; how her face had refined, grown gentle and quiet, and 
her manners correspondingly. He noticed what a good face it was, full of 
intelligence and latent power, and present sensitiveness; and 
furthermore, a rare thing anywhere, how free from self-consciousness. 
Full of life and of eager susceptibility as Rotha was always, she seemed 
to have the least recollection of herself and her own appearance. She did 
not forget her new dresses, for instance, but she looked at them from her 
own standpoint and not from that of an imaginary spectator. Mr. Digby 
drew an involuntary sigh, and Rotha looked up again. 

"You like that work, Rotha," he said. 

"Very much, Mr. Digby!" He had once told her to be moderate in her 
expressions, and to say always less than she felt, rather than more. 
Rotha never forgot, and was sedulously reserved in her manner of making 
known what she felt. 

"But Mr. Digby, it is very difficult," she went on. 

"What?" 

"To make anything perfect." 

He smiled. "Very difficult indeed. People that aim so high are never 
satisfied with what they do." 

"Then is it better to aim lower?" 

"By no means! He that is satisfied with himself has come to a dead stand-
still; and will get no further." 

"But must one be always dissatisfied with oneself?" 

"Yes; if one is ever to grow to a richer growth and bring forth better 
fruit. And anything that stops growing, begins to die." 

Rotha gave him a peculiar, thoughtful look, and then went on with her 
drawing. 

"Understand me, Rotha," he said, catching the look. "I am talking of the 
dissatisfaction of a person who is doing his best. The fact that one is 
dissatisfied when not doing his best, proves simply that feeling is not 
dead yet. There is no comfort to be drawn from that." 

Rotha went on drawing and did not look up, this time. Mr. Digby 
considered how he should say what he wanted to say. 

"Rotha--" he began, "how is it with that question you were once concerned 
about? Are you any nearer being a Christian?" 

"I don't know, sir. I do not think I am." 

"What hinders?" 

"I suppose," said Rotha, playing with her pencil absently,--"the old 
hindrance." 

"You do not wish to be a Christian." 

"Yes, sometimes I do. Sometimes I do. But I--cannot." 

"I should feel happier about you, if that question were well settled." 

"Why, Mr. Digby?" said Rotha, answering rather something in his tone than 
in his words, and looking up to get the reply. 

"Because, Rotha, you take hold hard, where you take hold at all; and you 
may take hold of something that will fail you." 

Her eyes, and even a sudden change of colour, put a startled question to 
him. He smiled as he answered, though again with a reminder of pain which 
he did not stop to analyse. "No," he said, "I will never fail you, Rotha; 
never voluntarily; but I have no command over my own life. I would like 
you to have a trust that could never disappoint you; and there is only 
One on whom such a trust can be lodged. He who is resting on Christ, is 
resting on a rock." 

"I know, Mr. Digby," said Rotha, in a subdued way. "I wish I was on such 
a rock, too; but that don't change anything." 

"Do you think you really wish to be a Christian, Rotha?" 

"Because mother was,--and because you are," she said gravely; "but then, 
_for myself_, I do not want it." 

"What is likely to be the end?" 

"_That_ don't change anything, either," said Rotha, not too lucidly. 

"Most true!" said Mr. Digby. "Well, Rotha, I will tell you what I think. 
I think you are your mother's child, and that you will not be left to 
your own wilfulness. I am afraid, though, that you may have to go through 
a bitter experience before the wilfulness is broken; and I want to give 
you one or two things to remember when it comes." 

"But why should it come?" said Rotha. 

"Because I am afraid nothing else will bring you to seek the one Friend 
that cannot be lost; and I think you are bound to find Him." 

"But where will you be, Mr. Digby?" said Rotha, now plainly much 
disturbed. 

"I do not know. I do not know anything about it." 

"But I could not be so forlorn, if I had you." 

"Then perhaps you will not have me." 

At this, however, there came such flashes of changing feeling, of which 
every change was a variety of pain, in the girl's face, that Mr. Digby's 
heart was melted. He stretched out his hand and took hers, which lay limp 
and unresponsive in his grasp, while distressed and startled eyes were 
fixed upon him. 

"I know nothing about it," he said kindly. "I have no foresight of any 
such time. I shall never do anything to bring it about, Rotha. Only, if 
it came by no doing of mine, I want you to have the knowledge of one or 
two things which might be a help to you. Do you understand?" 

She looked at him still silently, trying to read his face, as if her fate 
were there. He met the look as steadily. On one side, a keen, searching, 
suspicious, fearful inquiry; on the other a calm, frank, steadfastness; 
till his face broke into a smile. 

"Satisfied?" he asked. 

"Then why do you speak so, Mr. Digby?" she said with a quiver in her lip. 

"My child, this world is proverbially an uncertain and changing thing." 

"I know it; but why should you make it more uncertain by talking in that 
way?" 

"I do not. I forestall nothing. I merely would like to have you provided 
with one or two bits of knowledge; a sort of note of the way, if you 
should need it. You are not superstitious, are you?" 

"I do not know what is superstitious," said Rotha, her eyes still fixed 
upon his face with an intentness which moved him, while yet at the same 
time, he saw, she was swallowing down a great deal of disturbance. 

"Well," he said, speaking very easily, "it is superstition, when people 
think that anything beneath the Creator has power to govern the world he 
has made--or to govern any part of it." 

"I was not thinking of the government of the world," said Rotha, 

"Only of a very small part of it,--the affairs of your little life. You 
were afraid that being prepared for trouble might bring the trouble, in 
some mysterious way?" 

The girl was silent, and her eyes fell to the hand which held hers. What 
would she do, if ever that hand ceased to be her protection? People of 
Rotha's temperament receive impressions easily, and to her fancy that 
hand was an epitome of the whole character to which it belonged. 
Delicately membered, and yet nervously and muscularly strong; kept in a 
perfection of care, and graceful as it was firm in movement; yet ready, 
she knew, to plunge itself into anything where human want or human 
trouble called for its help. Rotha loved the touch of it, obeyed every 
sign of it, and admired every action of it; and now as she looked, two 
big, hot tears fell down over her cheeks. The hand closed a little more 
firmly upon her fingers. 

"Rotha--you believe me?" he said. 

"What, Mr. Digby?" 

"You believe me when I tell you, that I am never going to leave you or 
lose you by any will or doing of mine--" 

"By whose then?" said Rotha quickly. 

"By nobody's else, either, I promise you--unless by your own." 

"By mine!" said Rotha, and a faint smile broke upon her troubled face. 

"Well, you believe me? And now, my child, that is all you and I can do. 
And nevertheless, a time might come when you might want help and comfort, 
that is all I am saying; and I want to give you one or two things to 
remember in case such a time ever does come, and I am not at hand to ask. 
Get your Bible, and a pencil." 

He let her hand loose, and Rotha obeyed immediately. 

"Find the fourth chapter of John, and read to the fourteenth verse." 

Rotha did so. 

"What do you think the Lord meant?" 

Rotha studied, and would have said she "did not know," only she had found 
by experience that Mr. Digby never would take that answer from her in a 
case like the present. 

"I suppose," she said, speaking slowly, and vainly endeavouring to find 
words that quite suited her,--"he meant--something like-- He meant, that 
he could give her something good, that would last." 

Mr. Digby smiled. 

"That would last always, and never fail, nor change, nor wear out its 
goodness." 

"But, Mr. Digby, I should not want to stop being thirsty, because I 
should lose the pleasure of drinking." 

Mr. Digby smiled again. "Did you think _that_ was what the Lord promised? 
What would be the use of that 'well of water, springing up into 
everlasting life'? No, he meant only, that thirst and thirst and thirst 
as you will, the supply should always be at hand and be sufficient." 

Rotha gave one of her quick glances of comprehension, which it was always 
pleasant to meet. 

"Then go on, and tell me what is this living water which the Lord will 
give?" 

"I suppose--do you mean--religion?" she said, after another pause of 
consideration. 

"Religion is a rather vague term--people understand very different things 
under it. But if by 'religion' you mean the knowledge, the loving 
knowledge, of God,--you are right. Living water, in the Bible, constantly 
typifies the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart; and what He does, 
where he is received, is, to shew us Christ." 

"Then how can people be thirsty, after they have got the knowledge?" 
inquired Rotha. 

But Mr. Digby's smile was very sweet this time, and awed her. 

"After you have once come to know and love a friend," said he, turning 
his eyes upon Rotha, "are you satisfied, and want to see and hear no more 
of him?" 

"Is religion like that?" said Rotha. 

"Just like that. What the Lord Jesus offers to give us is himself. Now 
suppose the time come when you greatly desire to receive this gift, what 
are you going to do?" 

"I don't know. Pray?" 

"Certainly. But how? There are different ways of praying; and there is 
just one way which the Lord promises shall never miss what it asks for." 

"I don't know but one way," said Rotha. 

"Are you sure you know _one?_ It takes more than words to make a prayer. 
But turn to the second chapter of Proverbs. Read the third and fourth and 
fifth verses." 

Rotha read, and made no comment. 

"You see? You understand?" 

"Yes, Mr. Digby." 

"'If thou searchest for her as for hid treasures, _then_ shalt thou 
understand, and find.'--You know how people search for hid treasures?" 

"Yes." 

"They leave no stone unturned, they work by night and by day, they think 
of nothing else, until their object is gained. Mark those two places, 
Rotha, and mark them in the fly leaf of your Bible, 1. and 2." 

"Suppose," he went on when she had done this, "suppose you have sought in 
this way, and the light does not come, and you are in danger of losing 
heart. Then turn to Hosea, sixth chapter and third verse. There you have 
an antidote against discouragement. You shall know, 'if you _follow on_  
to know the Lord;' if you do not give over seeking and grow tired of 
praying. 'His going forth is prepared as the morning.' Blessed 
words!"----

"I do not know what they mean," said Rotha. 

"Do you know how the morning is prepared?" 

"No, sir." 

"Do you know why the sun rises when morning comes?" 

"It wouldn't be morning, if he didn't rise, would it?" 

"No. Well, when the time comes," said Mr. Digby laughing. "Do you know 
why the sun rises? and why does he not rise where he went down?" 

"No--" said Rotha, her eyes kindling with intelligent curiosity. 

Whereupon Mr. Digby turned himself out of his hammock, and coming to the 
table gave Rotha her first lesson in astronomy; a lesson thoroughly 
given, and received by her with an eagerness and a delight which shewed 
that knowledge to her was like what the magnet is to the iron. She forgot 
all about the religious bearing of the new subject till the subject 
itself was for that time done with. Then Mr. Digby's questions returned 
into the former channel. 

"You see now, Rotha, how the morning is 'prepared,' do you?" 

"Yes, Mr. Digby," she answered joyously. 

"And sure to come. If the earth goes on turning round, it cannot help 
coming. Even so: the Lord's coming is prepared and sure, for any one who 
persistently seeks him. Keep on towards the east and you will certainly 
see the sun rise."  

"Yes," said Rotha, "I see. It is beautiful." 

"Mark that No. 3 in the fly leaf! But Rotha, remember, anybody truly in 
earnest and searching 'as for hid treasure,' will be willing to give up 
whatever would render the search useless." 

"Yes, of course. But what would?" said Rotha, though she was thinking 
more of the improvised planetarium with which her imagination had just 
been delighted. 

"Turn once more to the fourteenth of John and read the 21st verse." But 
Mr. Digby himself gave the words. 

"'He that hath my commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; 
and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father; and I will love him, 
and will manifest myself to him.'" 

"That is somebody who has found the treasure, I think, Mr. Digby; it is 
'he that _loveth me_.'" 

"Quite true; nevertheless, Rotha, it remains a fact that nobody who is 
not willing to do the Lord's will, can come to the knowledge of him." 

"Mr. Digby, why are wrong things so easy, and right things so hard?" 

"They are not." 

"I thought they were," said Rotha in surprise. "Am I worse than other 
people?" 

"It all depends upon where you stand, Rotha. Would you find it easy to do 
something that would cause me great pain?" 

"No, Mr. Digby,--impossible." 

"I believe it," he said. "Then just put the case that you loved Christ 
much better than you do me; which would be the hard and the easy things 
then?" 

Rotha was silent. But the whole conversation had rather given new food 
for the meditations it had interrupted and which had occasioned it. Where 
was all this to end?--the young man asked himself. And when should it 
end, in so far as the immediate state of things was concerned? As soon as 
possible! his judgment said. Rotha was already clinging to him with a 
devotion that would make the parting a hard business, even now; every 
week would make it harder. Besides, he had other work to do, and could 
not permanently play tutor. As soon as Mrs. Busby came home he would go 
to her and broach the matter. That would be, for the present, the best 
plan he could hit upon. A week or two more-- 

Which calculations, like so many others of human framing, came to 
nothing. A day or two later, driving in the Park one evening, a pair of 
unruly horses coming at a run round a corner dashed into the little 
phaeton which held Mr. Digby and Rotha, and threw them both out. The 
phaeton was broken; Rotha was unhurt; Mr. Digby could not stand up. He 
believed it was a sprain, he said; no more; but one foot was 
unmanageable. 

A carriage was procured, he was assisted into it, Rotha took her place 
beside him, and the coachman was ordered to drive slowly. 

A silent pair they were for some distance; and both faces very pale. 
Rotha was the first one to speak. 

"Mr. Digby--does it hurt much?" 

"Rather, just now," he said forcing a smile. "Rotha, are you all right?" 

"O yes. What can I do, Mr. Digby?" 

"There is nothing to be done, till we get home." 

For which now Rotha waited in an impatience which seemed to measure every 
yard of the way. Arrived at last, Mr. Digby was assisted out of the 
phaeton, and with much difficulty into the house. Here he himself 
examined the hurt, and decided that it was only a sprain; no doctor need 
be sent for. 

"Is a sprain bad?" asked Rotha, when the assistants had withdrawn. 

"Worse than a broken bone, sometimes." 

Mr. Digby had laid himself down upon the cushions of the lounge; sweat 
stood on his brow, and the colour varied in his face. He was in great 
pain. 

"Where is Mrs. Cord?" 

"She's out. She's gone to New York. I know she meant to go. What shall I 
do for you, Mr. Digby?" 

"You cannot--" 

"O yes, I can; I can as well as anybody. Only tell me what. Please, Mr. 
Digby!"--Rotha's entreaty was made with most intense expression. 

"Salt and water is the thing,--but the boot must come off. You cannot get 
it off, nor anybody, except with a knife. Rotha, give me the clasp knife 
that lies on my table over yonder." 

Mr. Digby proceeded to open the largest blade and to make a slit in the 
leg of his boot. The slit was enlarged, with difficulty and evident 
suffering, till the whole top of the boot was open; but the ankle and 
foot, the hardest part of the task, were still to do, and the swollen 
foot had made the leather very tight. 

"I cannot manage it," said Mr. Digby throwing down the knife. "I cannot 
get at it. You'll have to send for a surgeon, after all, Rotha, to carve 
this leather." 

"Mr. Digby, may I try?" 

"You cannot do it, child." But the answer was given in the exhaustion of 
pain, and the young man lay back with closed eyes. Rotha did not hold 
herself forbidden. She took the knife, and carefully, tenderly, and very 
skilfully, she managed to free the suffering foot. It took time, but not 
more, nor so much, as would have been needed to send for a doctor. 

"Thank you!--that is great relief. Now the salt and water, Rotha." 

With a beating heart, beating with joy, Rotha flew to get what was 
wanted; flew only outside the door though, for in the room her motions 
had no precipitation whatever. She came staidly and steadily, and 
noiselessly. It was necessary to cut open also the stocking, to get that 
off, but this was an easier matter; and then Rotha's fingers applied the 
cold salt and water, bathing softly and patiently, with fingers that 
almost trembled, they were so glad to be employed. For a long time this 
went on. 

"Rotha--" 

"Yes, Mr. Digby," said the girl eagerly. 

"What o'clock is it?" 

"Seven, just." 

"You have had no tea." 

"Nor you, either. Will you have some now, Mr. Digby?" 

"You will. The foot is a great deal easier now, Rotha. Lay a wet cloth 
over the ankle and let it alone for a while; and have some tea, dear." 

Rotha obeyed, moving with the utmost delicacy of soft and quiet 
movements. She made the foot comfortable; rang the bell, and desired the 
kettle to be brought; and noiselessly arranged the table when the servant 
had set the tea things upon it She made the tea then; and had just cut a 
slice of bread and put it upon the toasting fork, when the door opened 
and in came Mrs. Cord, her arms full of cloths and vials and a basin of 
water. Rotha dropped the toasting fork and sprang towards her. 

"What do you want?" she said. "What are you going to do?" 

Her accent and action were so striking, that the woman paused, startled. 

"There's a sprained ankle here--I'm coming to see it." 

"No, you are not," said Rotha with great decision. "I have done all that 
is necessary, and I am going to do all that is necessary. I can do it as 
well as anybody; and I do not want you. You may carry all those things 
away, Mrs. Cord. Mr. Digby is asleep; he is better." 

"_You_ don't want me, maybe, Rotha, but Mr. Digby does. I've got what he 
wants here, and I knows my business. My business is to take care of him." 
She would have passed on. 

"Stand back!" said Rotha, barring her way. "I tell you, he don't want 
you, and you are not coming. Stand back! Take your things away. I will 
manage all that is done here myself. You may go!"--The tone and action 
were utterly and superbly imperious. 

The woman paused again, yielding before the slight girl, as matter always 
does yield to mind. 

"What new sort o' behaviour is this?" she said however in high offence. 
"_You_ to tell _me_ what I'm to do and not do! You're takin' a good deal  
upon you, my young lady!" 

"I take it," said Rotha, supremely. "Go! and send the girl here, if you 
please. I heard her go up stairs just now. I want her to make a piece of 
toast." 

Mrs. Cord greatly displeased, withdrew, after a glance at the closed 
eyelids on the sofa. The eyelids however were not so fast closed as they 
might be; Rotha's first words, spoken somewhat more emphatically than 
usual, had roused Mr. Digby out of his light slumber, and he had seen and 
heard all that passed. He had seen it with not a little amusement; at the 
same time it had given him new matter for thought. This was Rotha in a 
new character. He had known indeed before, in a measure, the intense 
nature of the girl; yet in his presence her manner was always subdued, 
except in the passion of grief that burst all bounds. But this was 
passion of another sort, and in that concentration of force which draws 
out a kind of spiritual electricity from its possessor. He saw how it had 
magnetized Mrs. Cord, and rendered her bulkiness passive. He had been 
intensely amused to see the large woman standing face to face with the 
slim girl, checked and indeed awed by the subtle lightning fire which 
darted from Rotha's eyes and seemed to play about her whole person. Mrs. 
Cord was fairly cowed, and gave way. And Rotha's bearing; instead of a 
poor, portionless little girl, she might have been a princess of the 
house royal, if she were judged of by her mien and manner. There was 
nothing assumed or affected about it; the demonstration was pure nature, 
Mr. Digby saw well enough; but what sort of a creature was this, to whom 
such a demonstration could be natural? There was force enough there, he 
saw, to bring the whole machinery into disorder and ruin, if the force 
were not well governed and well guided, and the machinery wisely managed. 
Who was to do this? Mrs. Busby? Mr. Digby was not sure yet what manner of 
person Mrs. Busby was; and he felt more than ever anxious to find out. 
And now a sprained ankle! 

Meanwhile, Rotha having driven her adversary from the field, was making 
peaceful arrangements. She had sent the toast to be made; seeing that Mr. 
Digby's eyes were open, she carefully renewed the salt water application 
to his ankle; poured out a cup of tea, and brought it with the plate of 
toast to his side; where she sat down, the cup in one hand, the plate in 
the other. 

"What now, Rotha?" said he. 

"Your tea, Mr. Digby. I hope it is good." 

She looked and spoke as gentle as a dove, albeit full of energetic 
alertness. 

"And do you propose to enact dumb waiter?" 

"If you want me to be dumb," she said. 

He laughed. "Rotha, Rotha! this is a bad piece of work!" he said; but he 
did not explain what he meant.--"That won't do. Call Marianne and let her 
shove the table up to the sofa here--one corner of it." 

"I like to hold the things, Mr. Digby, if you will let me." 

"I don't like it. Call Marianne, Rotha, and we will take our tea 
together. I am not a South Sea Islander." 

"Suppose you were,--what then?" asked Rotha as she rang the bell. 

"Then I suppose I should think it proper for the ladies of the family to 
take tea after I had done." 

The tea time was an occasion of unmitigated delight to Rotha, because she 
could wait upon her protector. He was suffering less now, and except that 
he was a prisoner seemed just as usual. After tea, however, he lay still, 
with closed eyes again; and Rotha had nothing to do but take care of his 
ankle and look at him. She thought it had never struck her before, what a 
beautiful person he was. 

I use the word advisedly, and that I may justify it I will try, what I 
believe I have not done before, to describe Mr. Digby. He was not at all 
one of a class, or like what one sees every now and then; in fact the 
combination of points in his appearance was very unusual. His features 
were delicately regular and the colour of skin fair; but all thought of 
weakness or womanishness was shut out by the very firm lines of the lips 
and chin and the gravity of the brow. His hair was light and curly, and a 
fair moustache graced the upper lip; not overhanging it, but trained into 
long soft points right and left. He wore no English whiskers nor beard. 
Again, his hands were small and delicate, and the whole person of rather 
slight build, as far as outline and contour were concerned; but the 
joints were well knit and supple, and all the muscles and sinews as if 
made of steel. Rather slow and easy, generally, in movement, he could 
shew the spring and power of a cat, when it was necessary; nature and 
training having done their best. He was habitually a grave person; the 
gravity was sweet, but very decided, and even when crossed by a smile it 
was not lost. So at least Rotha had always seen him. There were several 
reasons for this; one being the yet unhealed wound left by the death of 
his mother, to whom he had been devotedly attached, and another the 
sudden death a year or more ago of the lady he was to have married. The 
world knew nothing of these things, and set Mr. Digby down as a 
ridiculously sober man, for a man in his circumstances. They gave him 
also largely the reputation of haughtiness; while no one had more gentle 
and brotherly sympathy with every condition of humankind, or shewed it 
more graciously. He got the reputation partly, perhaps, by his real 
separateness from the mass of men, and his real carelessness about the 
things in which they take concern; more, however, it came from the 
feeling of inferiority in his presence, which most people find it hard to 
forgive a man. He was a welcome guest wherever he appeared; but very few 
were acquainted with his real tastes and powers and inner nature, even as 
Rotha knew them. 

She knew something of them. She did not misjudge him; but on the contrary 
dwelt on everything that belonged to him with a kind of worshipping 
admiration. So she sat and looked at him this evening, and thought she 
had never known before how beautiful he was; and the evening was not slow 
to her, nor long, though it was utterly silent. 

By and by came in Mrs. Cord, again with her hands full. 

"I beg your pardon--can I do anything for you, sir?" 

"No, thank you. I have had all the care I needed." 

Rotha's heart had beat fearfully, and now it swelled in triumph. 

"I have some liniment here, sir, that is an excellent thing for a 
sprain--if a sprain it is; I wasn't allowed to examine." 

"Nothing so good as salt and water. Mrs. Cord, let them make up a bed in 
the next room for me. I had better not go up stairs." 

So the nurse was dismissed, and Rotha confirmed in her office, to her 
great joy. 


CHAPTER XI.


MRS. BUSBY. 


The weeks that now followed were a time of happiness to Rotha, as perfect 
as in her present circumstances it was possible for her to know. She was 
allowed to minister to Mr. Digby, she was constantly with him, and 
intercourse and lessons were tasted with redoubled zest. For she was kept 
very busy at her old studies, and new ones were added; she read aloud a 
good deal; Mr. Digby never shunned talk when she wanted information or 
help in any puzzle; and the meal times, when ministry was varied and the 
conversation ran upon lighter topics, were hours of unalloyed enjoyment. 
I think these weeks were not disagreeable ones to the other party 
concerned; however, he was constantly reminded of the need of making new 
arrangements; and as soon as his ankle would permit his getting in and 
out of a carriage, he was ready to go to Mrs. Busby's. But when at last 
he was on the way, he thought to himself that he had another hard job on 
his hands. How would Rotha bear uprooting again, and transplanting to 
entirely different soil? she who took such terribly fast hold of any 
ground that suited her. Would Mrs. Busby's family be such ground? If it 
would not, if he saw cause to think it would not, Mr. Digby resolved she 
should not be put there. But how was he to find out? He came into Mrs. 
Busby's drawing room with the full measure of his usual gravity. 

It was almost the end of October now, and the family had been long enough 
returned from the country for the mistress of it to have her house put in 
perfect winter order. Carpets were down, curtains were up; mirrors and 
lamps were unswathed from their brown linen coverings; everything that 
was metal shone with the polish put upon it, and everything that was 
upholstery shewed soft and rich colours and draperies. It was all 
harmonious, it was all very handsome; the fault was the fault of so many 
rooms, a failure to shew cause why it should be at all. Nothing was done 
there, nothing could be done; there was plush and satin and brocade and 
gilding and lacquered wood; but no life. Even the fire, for there was a 
fire, was a solid mass of firestones; a glowing grateful of hard coal; if 
there was life in that, it was the life of mere existence. 

Plenty of money! What else? 

One of the great polished doors opened a little? softly, and the mistress 
of the house came in. She was rather a contrast to it all. Perhaps she 
had not yet made her toilette for the afternoon; she was in a very plain 
dress, and came in drawing a shawl around her. Not a handsome shawl 
either; the lady's whole appearance was most absolutely without 
pretension, and so was her manner. But the manner was not artless; it 
gave you the impression that she always knew what she was saying and had 
a reason for saying it. And the face, which had once been handsome, and 
might still have laid claim to some distinction, seemed likewise to lay 
claim to nothing, beyond the possession of sense and discernment and 
knowledge of the world. 

"Mr. Southwode!" she said as she closed the door. "You are quite a 
stranger." 

She was far too acute to tell Mr. Digby how welcome a visiter he was. She 
let the fact sufficiently appear in her smile and the tones of her 
greeting. 

"I think, you have been a stranger here too, Mrs. Busby. Were you not 
late in returning to town?" 

"Yes-- September was so warm! But I think eight months of the year is 
sufficient to spend in the city. Soul and body want the cultivation of 
nature for the other four; don't you think so? The ocean and the 
mountains are better than books. There is enlargement of the faculties to 
be sought, as well as stores for the memory." 

"And what mountains, and what sea, have you been looking upon this 
summer?" 

"We have seen no mountains this year; we kept to the sea beach. Except 
for a short interval. And you, Mr. Southwode? What have you done with 
yourself?" 

"My last achievement was to let somebody run into me, in the Park, and 
sprain my ankle in consequence." 

There followed of course inquiries and a full account of the affair. Mr. 
Digby could not be let off with less; and then advice and recipes, in the 
giving of which Mrs. Busby was quite motherly. 

"And have you resolved at last to make your home in America?" she asked 
after this. 

"I make my home wherever I am," the young man replied, with his slight 
grave smile. 

"But surely you do not think it well for any ordinary mortal to imitate 
the Wandering Jew, and have a settled home nowhere?" said Mrs. Busby, 
shewing her white teeth, of which she had a good many and in good order. 

"It may be best for some people," the young man said lightly. "But I came 
to speak to you about a matter of business. Mrs. Busby, pardon me for 
asking, had you once a sister?" 

There was a change in the lady's face, marked enough, yet not so as to 
strike any but a nice observer. The bland smile faded from her lips, the 
lines about her mouth took a harder set, the eyes were more watchfully on 
the alert. 

"Yes," she said quietly, not shewing her surprise. "I have a sister." 

"Have you heard from her lately?" 

"No. Not lately." The eyes were keenly attentive now, the words a little 
dry. She waited for what was to come next. As Mr. Digby paused, she 
added, "Do you know her?" 

"I have known her." 

"In Medwayville? I did not know you had ever travelled in the western 
part of the state." 

"I have never been there. I knew Mrs. Carpenter here, in New York." 

"In New York!" repeated Mrs. Busby. "She did not tell me-- When did you 
know her in New York? I was not aware she had ever been here." 

"She was here the early part of this summer. But she was very ill, and 
failing constantly; and in July--did you know nothing of it?--she left us 
all, Mrs. Busby." 

"My sister? Did she _die_ here? Do you mean that?" 

Mr. Digby bowed his head. The lady folded her arms, and removed her eyes 
from his face. Her own face was a shade paler, yet immoveable. She sat as 
if lost in thought for several minutes; in a silence which Mr. Digby was 
determined this time he would not break. 

"What brought my sister to New York, Mr. Digby?" Mrs. Busby at length 
asked, stooping as she spoke to pick up a thread from the carpet at her 
feet. 

"I am afraid,--the difficulty of getting along at home, where she was." 

"Her husband was dead, I knew," said the lady. "I gave Eunice permission 
to go and occupy the old house, where we were brought up, and which by my 
father's will came to me; and as I knew she had not done that, I had no 
reason to suppose that she was not getting along comfortably. My sister 
was one of those people who will not take advice, Mr. Digby; who will go 
their own way, and whom nobody can help. She was here several months, 
then?" 

"More than that" 

"More? How much more?" 

"She came here before I had the pleasure of knowing her." 

"Did she tell you anything of her story?" 

"Something; and so I came, by a question or two, to find out that you 
were her sister." 

"Eunice separated herself from her family," Mrs. Busby said shortly; "and 
such people always in time come to feel their mistake, and then they 
charge the fault upon their family." 

"Mrs. Carpenter did not seem to me inclined to charge fault upon anybody. 
I never heard anything from her that shewed a censorious spirit." 

Mrs. Busby opened her lips, and pressed them a little closer together. 
Evidently she was minded to ask no more questions. Mr. Digby went on. 

"Mrs. Carpenter had a daughter--" 

"I know she had a daughter," Mrs. Busby said briskly. "Is she living?" 

"Certainly." 

"Pray, how old?" 

"About--I believe, about fifteen." 

"Where is she?" 

"She is here." 

"_Here!_ In whose care? and where is she?" 

"She is in my care. It is about her I wished to speak to you." 

"In _your_ care! But Mr. Southwode, that is very strange! How came my 
sister to leave her child in your care?" 

"She honoured me, I believe, with so much trust as to believe I would be 
a faithful guardian," Mr. Digby said, with his extremely composed 
gravity. 

"But was there nobody else?" said the lady, for a moment forgetting 
herself. 

"Nobody else, whom Mrs. Carpenter thought as competent, or as 
trustworthy," the young man said with the gleam of a smile. 

"Mr. Southwode, I cannot allow that for a moment," Mrs. Busby said with 
energy. "_I_ am the proper person to take charge of my sister's child,  
and if you please I will assume the charge immediately. Where is she? She 
ought to be under my roof." 

"It occurred to me, that if you were so inclined, your house would be the 
safest place for her; for the present at least." 

"For the present and for always," said the lady decidedly. "Who else 
should take care of her? Where can I find her, Mr. Southwode?" 

"Nowhere. I will bring her to you, if you will allow me." 

"Do you know the girl? do you know much of her, I mean?" 

"Something--" Mr. Digby easily assented. 

"And what is she, if you can tell?" 

"I do not know that I _can_ tell, what you will find her. Do you not 
think, Mrs. Busby, that a human character of any richness shews different 
sides of itself to different persons, as varying affinities call out 
corresponding developments?"

"Then you call hers, a character of some richness?" 

"I suppose I implied as much." 

"And will you tell me what you have found her?" 

"Pardon me; that would be an injustice to her. You would naturally look 
to verify my impressions, and perhaps could not do it. It is unkind to 
praise or blame anybody beforehand to third persons. You make it 
impossible for the balance of judgment to swing clear." 

"She ought to come here at once. Will you bring her to-morrow?" 

"I think not to-morrow." 

"Why not? When, then?" 

"This is Thursday? Suppose we say, next week?" 

"Next week! That is waiting very long. Where is she? I will go to see 
her." 

"Quite unnecessary," said Mr. Digby rising. "As soon as she is ready, and 
I am ready, I will bring her; but not before Monday or Tuesday." 

"Mr. Southwode," said Mrs. Busby, with a mixture of suspicion and 
raillery in her look, which was but indifferently compounded, "if my 
niece were a few years older, I should begin to suspect that you had 
_reasons_ for being unwilling to put her out of your care." 

The young man met her eyes with the grave, careless composure which was 
habitual with him. 

"I _have_ reasons," he said. "And I am not going to put her 'out of my 
care.' I am only purposing to allow you, for the time being, a share in 
the care, Mrs. Busby. A trust that is given to me, I do not resign." 

The lady shut her lips a little tight. 

"What school is your daughter attending?" Mr. Southwode went on. 

"I am not sure where I shall send her this year. She has been going-- But 
I am thinking of making a change. I do not know yet where she will be." 

The gentleman remarked, that could be talked of another time; and took 
his leave. Every trace of smiles disappeared from Mrs. Busby's face as he 
closed the door behind him. She stepped to the window and drew down the 
linen shade where the sun was coming too brightly in; and then she stood 
for some minutes upon the hearth rug, grave and thoughtful, one eyebrow 
arched in meditation as society never saw it arched. Her concluding 
thought might be summed up thus:--"When she is under my care, my young 
gentleman, I think she will _not_ be under yours. Preposterous!" 

Mr. Digby had his thoughts too as he drove homeward. They will never get 
on together, he said to himself. It will not be happy for Rotha, nor 
easy. And yet--it is the best thing I can do for her just now. She must 
have a woman's care; and whose could be so proper as her aunt's? Besides, 
I shall see her frequently; I shall know all that concerns her, for Rotha 
will tell me; and if things go wrong, I can at any time put in my hand 
and set them straight. I am sorry--but this is the thing to do; and there 
is no help for it. 

In spite of all which certainty in his own mind, Mr. Digby looked forward 
with positive uneasiness to the telling Rotha what was in store for her. 
There was no help for that either; it must be done; and Mr. Digby was not 
one to put off a duty because it was disagreeable. 

The next morning Rotha was at her drawing again, and Mr. Digby lay on the 
lounge, thinking how he should begin what he had to say. Rotha was 
looking particularly well; fresh and bright and happy; very busily intent 
over her drawing. How the girl had improved in these weeks, softened and 
refined and grown mannerly. She has good blood in her, thought Mr. Digby; 
her features shew it, and so do her instincts, and her aptitudes.----

"How would you like to go to school, Rotha?" 

She looked up, with the flash of interest and of feeling which came so 
readily to her eye. 

"I shouldn't like it as well as _this_, Mr. Digby,"--("this" meant the 
present course and manner of her education;) "but I suppose you could not 
go on teaching me always." 

"I am not tired of it, Rotha; but I think it would be better in many 
respects for you to be at school for a while. You will like it, too." 

"When shall I go, Mr. Digby?" she asked in a subdued voice, without 
looking up this time. 

"The sooner the better, now. The schools have all begun their terms some 
weeks ago. And then, Rotha, you must have a home in the city. You could 
not live out here at Fort Washington, and attend school in New York. I 
shall be obliged to go back to the city, too." 

"Then I would like to go," said Rotha simply. 

"But you must have more care than mine, my child; at least you must have 
other care. You must have some lady friend, to look after you as I cannot 
do. I am going to put you under your aunt's protection." 

Rotha's pencil fell from her hand and she raised her head now. 

"My aunt?" she repeated. 

"Yes. Your mother's sister; Mrs. Busby. You knew you had an aunt in the 
city?" 

Rotha disregarded the question. She left her seat and came and stood 
before the lounge, in the attitude of a young tragedy queen; her hands 
interlocked before her, her face pale, and not only pale but spotted with 
colour, in a way that shewed a startling interruption of the ordinary 
even currents of the blood. 

"O Mr. Digby," she cried, "not her! not her! Do not give me up to her!" 

"Why not?" he asked gently. 

"She is not good. She is not a good woman. I don't like her. I can't bear 
the thought of her. I don't want to have anything to do with her.  
_Please_, keep me from her! O Mr. Digby, don't let her have me!" These 
words came out in a stream.

"My dear Rotha, is this reasonable? What cause have you to dislike your 
aunt?" 

"Because she wasn't good to mother--she didn't love her--she wasn't kind 
to her. She is not a good woman. She wouldn't like me. I don't like her 
_dreadfully_, Mr. Digby!" 

The words Rotha would have chosen she did not venture to speak. 

"Hush, hush, child! do not talk so fast. Sit down, and let us see what 
all this means." 

"O Mr. Digby, you will not put me with her?" 

"Yes, Rotha, it is the best. We will try it, at least. Why Rotha!--
Rotha!--" 

She had flung herself down on the floor, on her knees, with her head on a 
chair; not crying, not a tear came; nor sobbing; but with the action of 
absolute despair. It would have done for high tragedy. Alas, so it is 
with trouble when one is young; it seems final and annihilating. Age 
knows better. 

"Rotha," Mr. Digby said very quietly after a minute, "why do you dislike 
your aunt so? You do not know her." 

"O Mr. Digby," cried the girl in accents of misery, "are you going to 
give me up to somebody else? Are you going to give me up to _her?_" 

"No. Not to her nor to anybody. I am not going to give you up to anybody. 
Look here, Rotha. Look up, and bring your chair here and sit down by me, 
and we will talk this over. Come!" 

Yielding to the imperative tone in his words, she obeyed; rose up and 
brought her chair close and sat down; but he was startled to see the 
change in her face. It was livid; and it was woe-begone. She took her 
place submissively; nevertheless he could perceive that there was a 
terrible struggle of pain going on in the girl. He put out his hand, took 
hers kindly and held it. 

"Rotha--my child--I am not going to give you up to anybody," he repeated 
gravely. 

Rotha thought it practically amounted to that, to place her in her aunt's 
house; words were not at command. A sort of sob wrung from her breast. 

"What do you know about your aunt?" 

"Not much,--but too much," Rotha laconically answered. 

"Tell me what you know." 

"I know she wasn't good to mother." Then, as Mr. Digby made no reply to 
this unanswerable statement, she went on;--"She is a hard woman; she 
didn't help her. She is rich, rich! and we were--She has everything in 
the world; she can do whatever she likes; she rides about in her 
beautiful carriage; and we--we were--you know!--we were--if it hadn't 
been for you--" 

Rotha had choked and swallowed several times, and then the gathered 
passion overcame her. Thoughts and feelings and memories came like the 
incoming waves on a level shore piling up one upon another, until they 
could bear their own weight and rush no more and broke all together. The 
girl had striven to command herself and prevent the outbreak which Mr. 
Digby did not like; and the restraint had acted like the hindrance of the 
underlying sands, and allowed the tide of feeling to swell till there was 
no longer any check to it. Restraint was gone now, although Rotha did try 
to keep her sobs down; passion and grief burst out now and then in a wail 
of despair, and she struggled with the sobs which seemed to come from a 
breaking heart. 

Mr. Digby let the storm have its way, meanwhile feeling a renewed 
presentiment that the aunt and niece would never get on well together. In 
the granite of Mrs. Busby's composition there lay, he judged, a good deal 
of iron, in the rough state of unpurified ore. Waves beat on such rock 
without making much impression, only breaking themselves to pieces. Would 
such encounters take place between them? Rotha's character was not soft, 
and did not lack its iron either; but in another and much more refined 
form, and in a widely different combination. Had he done well after all? 
And yet what else could he do? And at any rate it was too late now to go 
back. 

He waited till the passion of the storm had somewhat lulled, and then 
called Rotha gently. Gently, but there was a certain ring in his voice 
too; and Rotha obeyed. She rose from the floor, dried her eyes and came 
and stood by the couch. She was in no manner relieved; passion had merely 
given place to an expression of helpless despair. 

"Sit down, Rotha," said Mr. Digby. And when she had done it he took her 
hand again. 

"You ought not to allow yourself such outbursts," he went on, still very 
gently. 

"I could not help it. I tried--" 

"I believe you tried; and for a time you did help it." 

"I know it displeases you," she said. "I did not want to do so before 
you." 

"It is not because it displeases me, that I want you not to do it; but 
because it is not right." 

"Why not right?" she asked somewhat defiantly. 

"Because it is not right for any one ever to lose command of himself." 

Rotha seemed to prick up her ears at that, as if the idea were new, but 
she said nothing. 

"You will ask me again perhaps why? Rotha, if you lose command of 
yourself, who takes it?" 

Rotha's eye carried a startled inquiry now. "I suppose--nobody," she 
said. 

"Do you think we have such an enemy as we have, and that he will let such 
an advantage go unimproved? No; when you lose command of yourself Satan 
takes it,--and uses it." 

"What does he do with it?" said Rotha in full astonishment. 

"According to circumstances. To tempt you to wrong, or to tempt you to 
folly; or if neither of those, to break down your mental and bodily 
powers, so that you shall be weaker to resist him next time." 

"Mr. Digby--do you _think_ so?" 

"Certainly. And when people go on in a way like this, giving ground to 
Satan, he takes all they give, until finally he has the whole rule of 
them. Then they seem to their neighbours to be slaves of passion, or of 
greed, or of drink; but really they are 'possessed of the devil,' and 
those are the chains in which he holds them." 

"Mr. Digby," said Rotha humbly, "do you think I have been losing ground?" 

"I think you have been gaining ground, for a good while." 

"I am sorry," she said simply. "But how can I help it, Mr. Digby?" 

"You remember," he said. "You must be under one king or the other; there 
is no middle ground. 'Whosoever committeth sin, is the servant of 
sin';--but, 'If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.'" 

Rotha drew a deep sigh, and one or two fresh tears fell. 

"Now," said he very gently, "do not let us get excited again, but let us 
talk quietly. What is all this about?" 

"You are sending me away," said Rotha; "and you are all I have got." 

"You are not going to lose me. That is settled. Now go on. What next?" 

"But I shall not be with you?" 

"Not every day, as here. But I hope to see you very often; and you can 
always write to me if you have anything in particular upon your mind." 

"Then," said Rotha, her voice several shades clearer, "you are sending me 
to be with a person that I don't--respect." 

"That is serious! Are you sure you are justified in such an opinion, with 
no more grounds?" 

"I cannot help it," said Rotha. "I do not think I have reason to respect 
her." 

"Then how are you going to get along together?" 

"I am sure I do not know." 

"Rotha, I may ask this of you. I ask of you to behave as a lady should, 
in your aunt's house. I ask you to be well-bred and well-mannered always; 
whatever you feel." 

"Do you think I can, Mr. Digby?" said the girl looking earnestly at him. 

"I am sure of it." 

"But--do I know how?" 

"I will give you an unfailing recipe," said Mr. Digby smiling. 
"'Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them'; 
and for details, study the 13th chapter of the first epistle to the 
Corinthians." 

"Is that the chapter about charity?" 

"About love. The word means love, not charity." 

"Mr. Digby, it is very hard to act as if you loved people, when you do 
not." 

"True," said he smiling. "That is what the world means by good manners. 
But what Christians should mean by that term is the real thing." 

"And I do not think I can," Rotha went on. 

"Do not try to make believe anything. But the courtesy of good manners 
you can give to everybody." 

"If I do not lose command of myself," said Rotha. "I will try, Mr. 
Digby." 

"I think you can do, pretty nearly, Rotha, whatever you try." 

This declaration was a source of great comfort to the girl, and a great 
help towards its own justification; as Mr. Digby probably guessed. 
Nevertheless Rotha grieved, deeply and silently, through the days that 
followed. Her friend saw it, and with serious disquiet. That passion of 
pain and dismay with which she had greeted the first news of what was 
before her was no transient gust, leaving the air as clear as it had been 
previously. True, the storm was over. Rotha obtruded her feelings in no 
way upon his notice; she was quiet and docile as usual. But the happiness 
was gone. There were rings round her eyes, which told of watching or of 
weeping; her brow was clouded; and now and then Mr. Digby saw a tear or 
two come which she made good efforts to get rid of unseen. She was 
mourning, and it troubled him; but, as he said to himself over and over 
again, "there was no help for it." He was unselfish about it; for to 
himself personally there was no doubt but to have Rotha safely lodged 
with her aunt would be a great relief. He had other business to attend 
to. 


CHAPTER XII. 


MRS. BUSBY'S HOUSE. 


By the beginning of the week Rotha had recovered command of herself, 
externally at least; and on the Monday Mr. Digby and his charge were to 
go to Mrs. Busby's. It was the first of November; dull, cloudy and cold; 
getting ready for snow, Mr. Digby said, to judge by the sky. From the 
clouds his eye came down to Rotha, who had just entered the room dressed 
for her departure. 

"Rotha," said he, "what is that you have on?" 

"My brown lawn, Mr. Digby." 

"Lawn? on such a day as this? You want a warmer dress, my child." 

Rotha hesitated and coloured. 

"My warm dresses--are not very nice," she said with some difficulty. "I 
thought I must look as well as I could." 

"And I have forgotten that the season was changing! and left you without 
proper provision. You see, Rotha, I never had the charge of a young lady 
before. Never mind, dear; that will soon be made right. But put on 
something warm, no matter how it looks. You will take cold with that thin 
dress." 

Rotha hesitated. 

"I don't think you will like it, if I put on my old winter frock," she 
said. 

"I would like it better than your getting sick. Change your dress by all 
means." 

When Rotha came in again, she was a different figure. She had put on an 
old grey merino, which had once belonged to her mother and had been made 
over for her. At the time she had rejoiced much over it; now Rotha had 
got a new standard for judging of dresses, and she seemed to herself very 
"mean" looking. Truly, the old grey gown had been made a good while ago; 
the fashion had changed, and Rotha had grown; it was scant now and had 
lost even a distant conformity with prevailing modes. Moreover it was 
worn, and it was faded, and it was not even very clean. Rotha thought Mr. 
Digby would hardly endure it; she herself endured it only under stress of 
authority. He looked at her a little gravely. 

"That's the best you have, is it? Never mind, Rotha; it is I who am to 
blame. I am very much ashamed of myself, for forgetting that winter was 
corning." 

He had never known what it was, in all his life, to want a thick coat or 
a thin coat and not find it in his wardrobe; and that makes people 
forget. 

"This will not do, do you think it will, Mr. Digby?" said Rotha 
tentatively. 

"Better than to have you get sick. It will keep you warm, will it not? 
and we will soon have you fitted up with better supplies." 

It was not time quite for the carriage to be at the door, and Mr. Digby 
sat down to a bit of drawing; he was making a copy for Rotha. Rotha stood 
by, doubtful and thoughtful. 

"Mr. Digby," she said at last shyly, "there is something I should like 
very much to ask." 

"Ask it, Rotha." 

"But I do not know whether you would like it--and yet I cannot know 
without asking--" 

"Naturally. What is it, Rotha?" 

"Mr. Digby, my mother hadn't anything at all, had she? Money, I mean." 

"Of late? No, Rotha, I believe not." 

The girl hesitated and struggled with herself. 

"I thought so," she said. "And while it was you, I didn't mind. But 
now,--how will it be, Mr. Digby?" 

Mr. Digby got at the sense of this by some intuition. 

"Who will be at the charge of your schooling, you mean? and other things? 
Certainly I, Rotha, unless your aunt wishes very decidedly that it should 
be herself." 

"She will not wish that," said the girl. "Then, Mr. Digby, when I am done 
with school--what am I to do? What do you want me to do? Because if I 
knew, I might work better to get ready for it." 

"Well," said Mr. Digby, making some easy strokes with his pencil, every 
one of which however meant something,--"there is generally something for 
everybody to do in this world; but we cannot always tell what, till the 
time comes. The best way is to prepare yourself, as far as possible, for 
everything." 

"But I cannot do that," said Rotha, with the nearest approach to a laugh 
that she had made since the previous Friday. 

"Yes, you can. First, be a good woman; and then, get all the knowledge 
and all the accomplishments, and all the acquirements, that come in your 
way. Drawing, certainly, for you have a true love for that. How is it 
with music? Are you fond of it?" 

"I don't know," Rotha said low. "Mr. Digby, can I not--some time--do 
something for you?" 

"Yes," said he, looking up at her with a laughing glance, "you can do all 
these things for me. I want you to be as good a woman, and as wise a 
woman, and as accomplished a woman, as you are able to become." 

"Then I will," said Rotha very quietly. 

The carriage came. Rotha covered up her old dress as well as she could 
under her silk mantle, very ill satisfied with the joint effect, She 
behaved very well, however; was perfectly quiet during the drive, and 
only once asked, 

"Mr. Digby, you said I might write to you?" 

"As often as you like. But you will see me too, Rotha, though not every 
day. If anything goes wrong with you, let me know." 

That was all; and then the carriage turned a corner and stopped in a 
street of high, regular, stately houses, with high flights of doorsteps. 
Poor Rotha felt her gown dreadfully out of place; but her bearing did not 
betray her. She was trying hard to form herself on Mr. Digby's model, and 
so to be even and calm and unimpassioned in her manners. Not easy, when a 
young heart beats as hers was beating then. They entered the house. Mrs. 
Busby was not in, the servant said; at the same time she opened the door 
of the parlour, and Mr. Digby and Rotha went in. 

Nobody was there; only the luxurious presence of warmth and colour and 
softness and richness, whichever way the girl looked. She tried not to 
look; she fixed her eyes on the glowing grate; while a keen sense of 
wrong and a bitter feeling of resentment and opposition swelled her 
heart. This was how her aunt lived! and her mother had done sewing for 
her bread, and not got it. If the flowers in the carpet had been living 
exotics, they would have thriven in the warm air that surrounded them, 
and feared no frost; and her mother's fire had been fed by charity! It 
was to the credit of Rotha's budding power of self-command that she 
shewed nothing of what she felt. She was outwardly calm and impassive. 

Then the heavy door was pushed inward and a figure appeared for which she 
was scarcely prepared. A young girl of about her own age, also a 
contrast. There was nothing but contrasts here. She was excessively 
pretty, and as lively as a soap bubble. Something of her mother's 
hardness of outlines, perhaps; but in that fifteen must needs be far 
different from fifty; and this face was soft enough, with a lovely 
tinting of white and red, charming little pearly teeth, a winning smile, 
and pretty movements. She was not so tall as Rotha; and generally they 
were as unlike as two girls could be. In dress too, as in everything 
else. This new-comer on the scene was as bright as a flower; in a new 
cashmere, fashionably made, of a green hue that set off the fresh tints 
of her skin, edged with delicate laces which softened the lines between 
the one and the other. She came in smiling and eager. 

"Mr. Southwode! how long it is since we have seen you! What made you stay 
away so? Mamma is out; she told me if you came I must see you. I am so 
sorry she is out! No, I am very glad to see you; but I know you wanted to 
see mamma. I'll do as well as I can." And she smiled most graciously on 
him, but hitherto had not looked at Rotha, though Mr. Digby knew one 
glance of her eye had taken her all in. 

"Miss Antoinette," said he, shaking hands with her, "this is your 
cousin." 

The eyes came round, the smile faded. 

"Oh!--" said she. "I knew it must be you. How do you do? Mamma is out; 
she'll be so sorry. But your room is ready. Would you like to go up to it 
at once, and take off your things?"--Then without waiting for an answer, 
she pulled the bell twice, and springing to the door cried out, "Lesbia! 
Lesbia!--Lesbia, where are you? O here you are. Lesbia, take this young 
lady--up stairs and shew her her room--you know, the little room that you 
put in order yesterday. Take her up there and shew her where things are; 
and then take her to mamma's room; do you understand? Miss Carpenter what 
is her name, Mr. Southwode? Rotha? O what a lovely name! Rotha, if you 
will go up stairs with the girl, she will shew you your way." 

"I will not go yet, thank you," said Rotha. 

Antoinette looked at her, seemingly taken aback at this. 

"Don't you want to go up and take off your things?" she said. "I think 
you will be more comfortable." 

"I would rather stay here." 

Mr. Digby suppressed a smile, and had also to suppress a sigh. This by-
play was very clear to him, and gave him forebodings. He hoped it was not 
clear to Rotha. However, he did not much prolong his stay after that. He 
knew it was pain to Rotha and better ended; she must learn to swim in 
these new waters, and the sooner she was pushed from her hold the kinder 
the hard service would be. So he took leave of Miss Antoinette, and then, 
taking Rotha's cold hand, he did what he had never done before; stooped 
down and kissed her. He said only one word, "Remember!"--and went away. 

He had thought to give the girl a little bit of comfort; and he had not 
only comforted her, but lifted her up into paradise, for the moment. A 
whole flood tide of pleasure seemed to pour itself into Rotha's heart, 
making her deaf and blind to what was around her or what Antoinette said. 
She went up stairs like one on wings, with the blood tingling in every 
corner of her frame. If she had known, or if Mr. Digby had guessed, what 
that kiss was to cost her. But that is the way in this life; we start and 
shiver at the entrance of what is to be a path of flowers to our feet; 
and we welcome eagerly the sugared bait which is to bring us into a 
network of difficulty. 

There was an under current of different feeling however, in Rotha's mind; 
and the two girls as they went up stairs were as great a contrast to each 
other as could be imagined. The one carried a heart conscious of a secret 
and growing weight; the other had scarce gravity enough to keep her to 
the earth's surface. So the one tripped lightly on ahead, and the other 
mounted slowly, rebelling inwardly at every step she set her foot upon. 
What a long flight of stairs! and how heavily carpeted; and with what 
massive balusters framed in. Nothing like it had Rotha ever seen, and she 
set her teeth as she mounted. Arrived at last at the second floor, 
Antoinette passed swiftly along to the foot of another flight. "There is 
mamma's room," said she, pointing to an open door; "and that is mine," 
indicating a small room adjoining; "now here is yours." She had got to 
the top, and preceded Rotha into the small room off the hall at the head 
of the stairs. 

It was very small, of course; furnished with sufficient neatness, but 
certainly with old things. It was not like the rest of the house. That 
was no matter; the furniture was still as good as Rotha had been 
accustomed to in her best days, at home; yet she missed something. It 
looked poor and bare, and very cramped. Perhaps one reason might be, that 
the day was chill and dark and here were no signs of a fire, nor even a 
place to make one; and _that_ luxury Rotha had never missed. Her mother  
and she had kept scant fires at one time, it is true; but since Mr. Digby  
had taken the oversight of their affairs, their rooms had been always 
deliciously warm. Anyhow, the place made a cheerless impression on Rotha. 
She took off her hat and mantle. 

"Where are they to go?" she asked her companion. 

"You can put the mantle in one of those drawers." 

"Not my hat, though." 

"Yes, you could, if you turn up the edges a little. O never mind; it'll 
go somewhere, and you can't wear that hat any longer now. It's too cold. 
Let us go down to mamma's room." 

This was the large front room on the second floor. Here was a warm fire, 
a cosy set of easy chairs, tables with work, a long mirror in the door of 
the wardrobe between the windows; a general air of comfort and household 
living. Antoinette's room opened into this, and the door stood thrown 
back, letting the fire warmth penetrate there also; and a handsome 
dressing table was visible standing before the window. Antoinette stirred 
the fire and sat down. Rotha stood at the corner of the hearth, charging 
herself to be cool and keep quiet. 

"Where did you come from?" Antoinette began cheerfully. "We might as well 
get acquainted." 

"Will that help you?" said Rotha. 

"Help me what?" 

"You said we might as well get acquainted." 

"Well I want to know where you come from, to be sure," said the other 
girl laughing. "I always want to know where people come from. It's one of 
the first things I want to know." 

"I come from Medwayville," said Rotha. "That is a place in the western 
part of the state." 

"But you don't come from there now. I know you did live in Medwayville. 
But where do you come from now?" 

There sprang up in Rotha's mind an instant and unwonted impulse of 
reserve; she hardly knew why. So she answered, 

"Mr. Digby brought me; he can tell you about the place better than I 
can." 

"Why, don't you know where you have been living?" 

"I know the place when I see it. I could not find my way to it." 

"Then you can't have the organ of locality. Do you know about organs, and 
bumps on the head? That's what is called phrenology. Mamma thinks a great 
deal of phrenology; she'll be examining your head, the first thing." 

"Examining my head!" 

"Yes, to find out what you are, you know. She has a little map, with 
everything marked on it? so she'll feel your head to see where the bumps 
are, and where she finds a bump she will look in her map to see what's 
there, and then she'll know you have it." 

"What?" said Rotha. 

"_That;_ whatever the map says the bump ought to be." 

"There are no bumps on my head," said Rotha a little proudly; "it is 
quite round." 

"O you're mistaken; everybody has bumps; when the head is round, it means 
something, I forget what; whether bad or good. Mamma'll know; and she'll 
judge you by your head. How long have you known Mr. Southwode?" 

"I don't know." 

"Don't know how long you have known him?"
 
"I do not know just how long it is." 

"O I didn't mean that. Have you known him a month?" 

"More than that." 

"How came you to know him at all?" 

"He came to see us?" 

"Us? You and aunt Eunice? What made him go to see you? at first, I mean." 

"How can I tell?" said Rotha, more and more displeased. 

"Well, do you like him?" 

The answer did not come suddenly. 

"Do I like Mr. Digby?" Rotha said slowly. "I think I do." 

"_We_ do. What sort of a carriage was he in when he was overturned?" 

"A little phaeton." 

"One-horse?" 

"Yes." 

"Was he alone?" 

"No." 

"What became of the other person?" 

"Thrown out, like him." 

"Hurt?" 

"No." 

"Do you know who it was?" 

"Yes." 

"Who was it?" 

"It was I." 

"_You?_" exclaimed Antoinette. "Were _you_ driving with Mr. Southwode?  
How came you to be going with him?" 

"Why should I not?" 

"Why--" with a glance at Rotha's dress. Rotha saw and understood, but 
would not enlighten her. 

"Did you ever go with him before?" 

"Yes." 

"How many times?" 

But Rotha was getting amused now, and was mistress of the situation. 
"Does it matter how many times?" she said quite unexcitedly. 

"He never took _me_ anywhere," said Antoinette. "I declare, I'll make  
him. It isn't using me well. What makes you call him Mr. Digby?" 

"I have been accustomed to call him so." 

"Did he tell you to?" 

"Yes." 

"I wonder if he'd let me? I don't believe mamma would, though. She won't 
let you either do it any more. Digby is Mr. Southwode's first name. She 
would say it was too familiar, to call him by his first name, even with a 
'Mr.' to it. Mamma's a little poky at times. But how did you come to know 
him first? you haven't told me." 

"I suppose, the same way you came to know him," said Rotha slowly. 

But the suggestion of anything similar in what concerned the social 
circumstances of her and her cousin, struck Antoinette with such a sense 
of novelty that, for a moment she was nonplussed. Then her eye fell upon 
the clock on the mantel-piece, and she started up. 

"I must rush right off," she said; "it is time for my drawing lesson. 
That's one thing I don't get in school. Have you ever been to school?" 

"No." 

"I suppose you don't know much, then. Won't you have to work, though! I 
am sorry I must go and leave you alone; but mamma will be in by and by." 

While she was speaking, Antoinette had been putting on her wraps to go 
out; handsome, ample, and becoming they were. A dark green cloak of some 
figured, lustrous stuff; a little green hat with a coquettish leather; 
gloves fitting nicely; and finally a little embroidered pocket-
handkerchief stuffed into an outer pocket of her cloak. Then taking her 
portfolio, Antoinette hurried away. 

Rotha felt a sense of uneasiness growing upon her. She was not at home, 
and nothing promised her that she ever would be, in this house. For 
awhile she sat still where she was, looking and thinking; or rather 
feeling; for thought was scarcely organized. She was tired at last of the 
stillness, the ticking of the clock and the soft stir of the coals in the 
grate or falling of ashes into the pan. She went down to the parlour 
again, having a mind to become a little acquainted with her new 
surroundings while she could make her observations unobserved; and 
besides, that parlour was a study to Rotha; she had seen nothing like it. 
She went down and took her seat upon an ottoman, and surveyed things. How 
beautiful it all was, she thought; beyond imagination beautiful. The 
colours and figures in the carpet; the rich crimsons and soft drabs, and 
the thick, rich pile to the stuff, what a wonder they were to her. The 
window curtains, hanging in stately folds and draperies of drab, with 
broad bands of crimson satin shot through the tamer colour, how royal 
they were! And did anybody ever see anything so magnificent as the glass 
in the pier, which filled the space from floor to ceiling between those 
royal draperies? The furniture was dark and polished, as to the wood; 
covers of striped drilling hid what might be the beauty of cushions 
beneath, and Rotha was not one of the sort that can lift a corner to see 
what was hidden. There was enough not hidden, and she could wait. But as 
her eye roved from one thing to another, her heart gathered fuel for a 
fire that presently rivalled its more harmless neighbour in the grate; a 
fierce, steady, intense glow of wrath and indignation. This was how her 
mother's sister lived and had been living; and her mother in the poor 
little rooms in Jane Street. Magnificence and luxury here; and there toil 
and the bread of charity. And not a hand held out to help, nor love 
enough to be called upon for it. Rotha's heart fed its fire with dark 
displeasure. There was built up a barrier between her and her aunt, which 
threatened perpetual severance. Kindness might break it down; Rotha was 
open to kindness; but from this quarter she did not expect it. She bent 
her determination however on behaving herself so as Mr. Digby had wished. 
She would not shew what she thought. She would be quiet and polite and 
unexcited, like him. Poor Rotha! The fire should burn in her, and yet she 
would keep cool! 

She was studying the gas reading stand on the centre table, marvelling at 
the beauty of its marble shaft and the mystery of its cut glass shade, 
where bunches of grapes and vine leaves wandered about in somewhat stiff 
order; when the door of the room opened softly and Mrs. Busby came in. 
Rotha divined immediately that it was her aunt; the lady wore still the 
bonnet and the shawl in which she had been abroad, and had the air of the 
mistress, indefinable but well to be recognized. Softly she shut the door 
behind her and came towards the fire. Rotha did not dislike her 
appearance. The features were good, the eyes keen, the manner quiet 

"And this is my niece Rotha," she said with a not unkindly smile. "How do 
you do?" She took her hand and kissed her. Alas! the kiss was smooth ice. 
Rotha remembered the last kiss that had touched her lips; how warm and 
soft and firm too it had been; it meant something. This means nothing but 
civility, thought Rotha to herself. 

"You are all alone?" Mrs. Busby went on. "Antoinette had to go out. Shall 
we go up stairs, to my room? We never sit here in the morning." 

Rotha followed her aunt up stairs, where Mrs. Busby laid off hat and 
shawl and made herself comfortable, calling a maid to take them and to 
brighten up the fire. 

"I'll have luncheon up here, Lesbia," she said by the way. "Now Rotha, 
tell me all about yourself and your mother. I have heard nothing for a 
long while, unless from some third person." 

"Mother was ill a long time," said Rotha, uncertain how to render 
obedience to this command. 

"Yes, I know. When did you come to New York?" 

"It is--two years now." 

"Two years!" Mrs. Busby started up in her chair a little, and a faint 
colour rose in her cheeks; then it faded and her lips took a hard set. 
"Ill all that time?" 

"No. She was not ill for the first year." 

"Say, 'No _ma'am_,' my dear. That is the proper way. Do you know what 
induced her to move to New York, Rotha?" 

"Yes, ma'am," said Rotha colouring. 

"May I know?" 

"Didn't you know we were very poor?" said Rotha in a lower voice. 

"How was _that_ the reason?" 

"We couldn't--I mean--she couldn't, get work at Medwayville." 

"Get work!" Mrs. Busby was silent. Perhaps that was an unfruitful, and 
would prove an unrefreshing, field of inquiry. She would leave it 
unexplored for the present. She paused a little. 

"So since then you have been living in New York?" 

"Yes." 

A longer pause followed. Mrs. Busby looked at the fire and raised one 
eyebrow. 

"Under whose care have you been living, my dear, since you lost your 
mother's?" 

Rotha hesitated. Great soreness of heart combined now with another 
feeling to make her words difficult. She did not at all want to answer. 
Nevertheless the girl's temper was to be frank, and she saw no way of 
evasion here. 

"I have had nobody but Mr. Digby," she said. 

"Mr. Digby! Mr. Southwode, you mean? That is his name, my dear; don't 
speak of him as 'Mr. Digby.'" 

Rotha's mouth opened, and closed. She was forming herself with all her 
might on Mr. Digby's model; and besides that, she was trying to obey his 
injunctions about pleasant behaviour. 

"Where have you lived all this time?" a little shorter than the former 
questions had been put. 

"Since we came to New York?" 

"No, no; since you have been under this gentleman's care? Where have you 
been?" 

"In a pleasant place near the river. I do not know the name of the 
street." 

"Who took care of you there, Rotha?" 

Rotha lifted her eyes. "Mr. Digby--Mr. Southwode." 

"Mr. Southwode! Did he live there himself?" 

"Yes, at that time; not always." 

"Near the river, and in New York?" said Mrs. Busby, mystified. 

"I did not say in New York. It was out of the city." 

"I was out of town," said Mrs. Busby musingly. "I wish I had come home 
earlier, that I might have received you at once. But I am glad I have got 
you now, my dear. Now you will have the pleasure of going to school with 
Antoinette. You will like that, won't you?" 

"I do not know, ma'am. I think so." 

"Why you want to learn, don't you? You don't want to be ignorant; and the 
only way is to go to school and study hard. Have you ever been to school 
at all?" 

"No, ma'am." 

"You will have a great deal to do. And the very first thing for me to do 
is to see to your wardrobe, that you may begin at once. Your box has 
come; I found it down stairs when I came in, and I had it taken right up 
to your room. Have you the key?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 

"Then go up, my dear, immediately; and bring down all your best dresses. 
Then I can see what is to be done." 

As Rotha went out, enter Antoinette. 

"O mamma, here you are! I'm glad, I'm sure. I don't want that young lady 
on _my_ hands any more." 

"How do you like her, Antoinette?" 

"Mamma, did you ever see such a figure? You won't let her go down stairs 
till she is decently dressed, will you? I should be ashamed for even 
Lesbia to see her." 

"Lesbia has got to see her and make the best of it." 

"O but servants always make the worst of it. And company--she _couldn't_  
be seen by company, mamma. Why she looks as if she had come out of the  
year one. To have such a creature supposed to belong to us!" 

"Mr. Southwode brought her?" 

"Yes, mamma; and you should have seen the parting. I declare, it was 
rather striking! He kissed her, mamma, fancy! a real smacking kiss; and 
Rotha coloured up as if she was delighted. Did you ever hear anything 
like it?" 

"She has done with him now," said Mrs. Busby drily. 

"How'll you manage, mamma, if he comes and asks for her?" 

"Get your things off, Antoinette, and make yourself ready for dinner. Ah, 
here comes Rotha." 

Rotha's arms were full of muslin and lawn dresses, which she deposited on 
the table. Antoinette forgot or disregarded the order she had received 
and came to take part in the inspection. With a face of curiosity and 
business at once, Mrs. Busby unfolded, examined, refolded, one after 
another. 

"Mamma! how pretty that is!" exclaimed her daughter; "and that ashes of 
roses is lovely!" 

"Fine," said Mrs. Busby; "very fine. No sparing of money. Well made. Your 
mother cannot have felt herself in straits when she made such purchases 
as these, Rotha." 

Rotha's heart gave a bound, but she shut her lips and was silent. Some 
instinct within her was stronger than even the impulse to justify her 
mother. What did it matter, what her aunt thought? 

"These are all summer dresses," Mrs. Busby went on. "They are of no use 
at this season. Where are your warm clothes?" 

"I have none," said Rotha, with sad unwillingness. "This is the best I 
have on." 

"That?" exclaimed Mrs. Busby; and there was a pause. "Nothing better than 
that, my dear?" 

"The others are worse. They are all worn out." 

A heavy step was heard coming up the stair at this moment. It reached the 
landing place. 

"Mr. Busby--" cried the voice of his wife, a little uplifted, "don't come 
in here--I am engaged." 

"Very well, my dear," came answer in a husky, rough voice, and the step 
passed on. 

"The first thing is a school dress," Mrs. Busby proceeded. "Antoinette, 
fetch that purple poplin of yours, that you wore last winter, and let us 
see if that would not do, for a while at least, till something can be 
made." 

Nothing that fits her can fit me, thought Rotha; but with some self-
command she kept her thoughts to herself. Antoinette brought the dress in 
question and held it up, chuckling. 

"It's about six inches too short, I should say, and wouldn't meet round 
the waist by three at least." 

"Try it on, Rotha." 

Very unwillingly Rotha did as she was told. Mrs. Busby pulled and 
twitched and stroked the dress here and there. 

"It is a little too short. Could be let out." 

"Then the marks of the gathers would shew, mamma." 

"That could be hidden by a basque." 

"There isn't much stuff left to make a basque. Miss Hubbell cut it all up 
for the trimming." 

"It could be made to do for a few days. I am anxious that Rotha should 
lose no time in beginning school. See, it is November now." 

All this was extremely distasteful to the subject of it. She knew right 
well that her cousin's dress could never be made to look as if it 
belonged to her, unless it were wholly taken to pieces and put together 
again; neither was the stuff of the dress very clean, and the trimmings 
had the forlorn, jaded look of a thing which has been worn to death. The 
notion of appearing in it revolted her unbearably. 

"Aunt Serena," she said, "I would just as lief wear my old dress, if you 
don't mind. It would do as well as this, and be no trouble." 

"Well--" said Mrs. Busby; "it would take some time, certainly, to fit 
Antoinette's to you; perhaps that is the best way; and it is only for a 
day or two; it wouldn't matter much. Well, then you may take these things 
away, Rotha, and put them by." 

"Where?" said Rotha. "In my trunk?" 

"Yes, for the present    That will do." 

Rotha carried her muslins up stairs again, and had some ado not to sit 
down and cry. But she would not, and fought the weakness successfully 
down, appearing before her aunt again in a few minutes with an 
imperturbable exterior. Which she was able to maintain about ten minutes. 

Antoinette was dressing for dinner; dressing in front of her mother's 
fire; making herself rather striking in a blue silk, over which her long 
curling fair hair tumbled as over a pretty foil. Mrs. Busby also was 
putting herself in order. Rotha looked on. Presently the dinner bell 
rang. 

"I'll send you up your dinner, Rotha," Mrs. Busby said, turning to her 
niece. "Till we get some gowns made for you, you must keep in hiding. 
I'll send it up to you here, hot and nice." 

Rotha said not one word, but two flames shot into her cheeks, and from 
her dark eyes flared two such lightnings, that Mrs. Busby absolutely 
shrank back, and did not meet those eyes again while she remained in the 
room. But in that one moment aunt and niece had taken their position 
towards each other, and what is more, recognized it. 

"I shall have my hands full with that girl," Mrs. Busby muttered as she 
went down stairs. "Did you see how she looked at me?" 

"I didn't know she could look so," replied Antoinette. "Isn't she a 
regular spitfire?" 

"I shall know how to manage her," Mrs. Busby said, with her mouth set. 
"She is not at all like her mother." 

Rotha, left in the dressing room, sat down and laid her head on her arms 
on the table. Wrath and indignation were boiling within her. The girl 
dimly felt more than her reason could as yet grasp; somewhat sinister 
which ran through all her aunt's manner towards her and had undoubtedly 
called forth this last regulation. What did it mean? So she could go to 
school in her old dress and be seen by a hundred strange eyes, but might 
not sit at the table with her aunt's family and take her dinner in their 
company! And this was the very dress in which she had gone to the Park 
with Mr. Digby more than once. _He_ had not minded it. And here there was 
nobody that had not seen it already, except Mr. Busby. 

Poor Rotha's heart, when once a passion of displeasure seized it, was 
like the seething pot in Ezekiel's vision. She was helpless to stay the 
outpour of anger and pride and grief and contempt and mortification, 
every one of which in turn came uppermost and took forms of utterance in 
her imagination. She had a firm determination to follow Mr. Digby's 
teaching and example; but for the present she was alone, and the luxury 
of passion might storm as it would. Upon this state of things came the 
dinner, borne by the hands of Lesbia, who was a very sable serving maid; 
otherwise very sharp. She set the tray on the table. Rotha lifted a white 
face and fiery eyes, and glared at it and at her. Gladly would she have 
sent it all down again; but she was hungry, and the tray steamed a 
pleasant savour towards her. 

"Thank you," said Rotha, with the courtesy she had learned of her friend. 

"Would you like anything else?" the girl asked with an observing look. 

"Nothing else, thank you." 

"Why aint miss down stairs with the rest?" 

"I couldn't go down to-day. That will do, thank you." 

Lesbia withdrew, and Rotha mustered her viands. A glass of water and a 
piece of bread, very nicely arranged; a plate with hot potatoes, turnips 
mashed, beets, and three small shrimps fried. 

Rotha cleared the board, and found the fish very small. By and by came up 
Lesbia with a piece of apple pie. She took the effect of the empty 
dishes. 

"Did miss have enough?" 

"It will do very well, thank you," said Rotha, attacking the piece of 
pie, which was also small. 

"Didn't you want a bit of the mutton?" 

"Mutton!" exclaimed Rotha, and again an angry colour shewed itself in her 
cheeks. 

"Roast mutton and jelly and sweet potatoes. You hadn't only fish, had ye? 
Don't ye like yaller potatoes? Car'lina potatoes?" 

"Yes, I like them," said Rotha indifferently. 

N. B. She had eaten them but a few times in her life, and thought them a 
prime delicacy. 

"I'll bring you some if you like, and some of the meat." 

"No, thank you," said Rotha, finishing her pie and depositing that plate 
with the rest. 

"You'll have time enough," said Lesbia sympathizingly. "They won't come 
up stairs; they stays down to see company." 

"No, thank you," said Rotha again; but a new pang seized her. Company! 
Mr. Digby would be company. What if he should come? 

Lesbia went off with the tray, after casting several curious glances at 
the new comer, whom she had heard talked of enough to give her several 
clues. Rotha was left in the darkening dressing room; for the afternoon 
had come to its short November end. 


CHAPTER XIII. 


NOT DRESSED. 


Mr. Digby did not come that evening. Next evening he did. He came early, 
just as the family had finished dinner. Mrs. Busby welcomed him with 
outstretched hand and a bland smile. 

"I am so glad to see you, Mr. Southwode," she said, before he had time to 
begin anything. "I want to know what you think of this proposition to 
open picture galleries and libraries to the people on Sunday?" 

"The arguments for it are plausible." 

"Certainly plausible. What do you think?" 

"It is of no consequence, is it, what any individual thinks?" 

"Why yes, as it seems to me. By comparing views and the reasons given in 
support of the views, one may hope to attain some sound conclusion." 

"Is it a matter for reason to consider?" 

Mrs. Busby opened her eyes. "Is not everything that, Mr. Southwode?" 

"I should answer 'no,' if I answered." 

"Please answer, because I am very much in earnest; and I like to drive 
every question to the bottom. Give me an instance to the contrary."  

"When you tell Miss Antoinette, for example, to put on india rubbers when 
she goes out in the wet, is she to exercise her reason upon the thickness 
of the soles of her boots?" 

"Yes," cried the young lady referred to; "of course I am! India rubbers 
are horrid things anyhow; do you think I am going to put them on with 
boots an inch thick?" 

Mr. Southwode turned his eyes upon her with one of his grave smiles. Mrs. 
Busby seemed to ponder the subject. 

"Is it raining to-night, Mr. Southwode?" Antoinette went on. 

"Yes." 

"How provoking! then I can't go out. Mr. Southwode, you never took me 
anywhere, to see anything." 

"True, I believe," he answered. "How could I ask Mrs. Busby to trust me 
with the care of such an article?" 

"What 'such an article'?" 

"Subject to damage; in which case the damage would be very great." 

"I am not subject to damage. I never get cold or anything. Mr. Southwode, 
won't you take me, some night, to see the Minstrels?" 

"They are not much to see." 

"But to hear, they are. Won't you, Mr. Southwode? I am crazy to hear 
them, and mamma won't take me; and papa never goes anywhere but to his 
office and to court; won't you, Mr. Southwode?" 

"Perhaps; if Mrs. Busby will honour me so much." 

"O mamma will trust _you_, I know. Then the first clear evening, Mr. 
Southwode? the first that you are at leisure?" 

Without answering her he turned to Mrs. Busby. 

"How is Rotha?" 

"Very well!" the lady answered smoothly. 

"Shall I have the pleasure of seeing her?" 

"I am afraid, not to-night. She was unable to come down stairs this 
afternoon, and so took her dinner alone. Next time, I hope, she will be 
able to see you." 

Mr. Digby privately wondered what the detaining cause could be, but 
thought it most discreet not to inquire; at least, not in this quarter. 
"Is the school question decided?" he therefore went on quietly. 

"Why no. I have been debating the pros. and cons.; in which process one 
is very apt to get confused. As soon as one makes up one's mind to forego 
certain advantages in favour of certain others, the rejected ones 
immediately rise up in fresh colours of allurement before the mind, and 
disturb one's judgment, and the whole calculation has to be gone over 
again." 

"The choice lies between--?" 

"Mrs. Mulligan, Miss Wordsworth, and Mrs. Mowbray, have the highest name 
in the city." 

"And may I know the supposed counter advantages and disadvantages?" 

"I'll tell you, Mr. Southwode," said Antoinette. "At Mrs. Mulligan's you 
learn French and manners. At Miss Wordsworth's you learn arithmetic and 
spelling. At Mrs. Mowbray's you learn Latin and the Catechism." 

Mr. Southwode looked to Mrs. Busby. 

"That's rather a caricature," said the lady smiling; "but it has some 
truth. I think Mrs. Mowbray's is quite as fashionable a school as Mrs. 
Mulligan's. It is quite as dear." 

"Is it thought desirable, that it should be fashionable?" 

"Certainly; for that shews what is public opinion. Besides, it secures 
one against undesirable companions for a girl. Both at Mrs. Mulligan's 
and Mrs. Mowbray's the pupils come from the very best families, both 
South and North. There is a certain security in that." 

Mr. Southwode allowed the conversation presently to take another turn, 
and soon took his leave. 

Rotha had watched and listened from the upper hall; had heard him come 
in, and then had waited in an ecstasy of impatient eagerness till she 
should be sent for. She could hear the murmur of voices in the parlour; 
but otherwise the house was ominously quiet. No doors opening, no bell to 
call the servant, no stir at all; until the parlour door opened and Mr. 
Digby came out. Rotha was in a very agony, half ready to rush down, 
unsummoned, and see him; and yet held back by a shy feeling of proud 
reserve. He could ask for her if he had wanted her, she thought bitterly; 
and while she lingered he had put on his overshoes and was gone. Rotha 
crept up stairs to her own room, feeling desperately disappointed. That 
her aunt might have made excuses to keep her up stairs, she divined; but 
the thought put her in a rage. She had to sit a long while looking out of 
her window at the lights twinkling here and there through the rain, 
before the fever in her blood and her brain had cooled down enough to let 
her go to bed and to sleep. 

The next day she began her school experience. The intervening day had 
been used by Mrs. Busby to make a call upon Mrs. Mowbray, in which she 
explained that she had an orphan niece left under her care, for whom she 
much desired the training and the discipline of Mrs. Mowbray's excellent 
school. The girl had had no advantages; her mother had been ill and the 
child neglected; she supposed Mrs. Mowbray would find that she knew next 
to nothing of all that she ought to know. So it was arranged that Rotha 
should accompany her cousin the very next morning, and make her beginning 
in one of the younger classes. 

Rotha went in her old grey dress. The walk was not long. Antoinette 
stopped at the area gate of a house in a fine open street. 

"Where are you going?" said Rotha. 

"Here. This is the place." 

"This? Why it is a very handsome house," said Rotha. "As good as yours." 

"Of course it is handsome," Antoinette replied. "Do you think my mother 
would let me go to a shabby place. Handsome! of course it is. Come down 
this way; we don't ring the bell." 

What a new world it was to Rotha! In the lower hall the girls took off 
bonnets and wraps, hanging them up on hooks arranged there. Then 
Antoinette took her up stairs, up a second flight of stairs, through 
halls and stairways which renewed Rotha's astonishment. Was this a 
school? All the arrangements seemed like those of an elegant private 
home; soft carpet was on the stairs, beautiful engravings hung on the 
walls. The school rooms filled the second floor; they were already 
crowded, it seemed to Rotha, with rows and ranks of scholars of all 
sizes, from ten years old up. Antoinette and she, being later than the 
rest, slipped into the first seats they could find, near the door. 

There was deep silence and great order, and then Rotha heard a voice in 
the next room beginning to read a chapter in the Bible. The sound of the 
voice struck her and made her wish to get a sight of the reader; but that 
was impossible, for a bit of partition wall hid her and indeed most of 
the room in which she was from Rotha's view. So Rotha's attention 
concentrated itself upon what she could see. The pleasant, bright 
apartments; the desks before which sat so many well-dressed and well-
looking girls; ah, they were very well dressed, and many of them, to her 
fancy, very richly dressed; as for the faces, she found there was the 
usual diversity. But what would anybody think of a girl coming among them 
so very shabby and meanly attired as she was? If she had known-- However, 
self-consciousness was not one of Rotha's troubles, and soon in her 
admiration of the maps and pictures on the walls she almost forgot her 
own poor little person. She was aware that after the reading came a 
prayer; but though she knelt as others knelt, I am bound to say very 
little of the sense of the words found its way to her mind. 

After that the girls separated. Rotha was introduced by her cousin to a 
certain Miss Blodgett, one of the teachers, under whose care she was 
placed, and by whom she was taken to a room apart and set down to her 
work along with a class of some forty girls, all of them or nearly all, 
younger than she was. And here, for a number of days, Rotha's school life 
went on monotonously. She was given little to do that she could not do 
easily; she was assigned no lessons that were not already familiar; she 
was put to acquire no knowledge that she did not already possess. She got 
sight of nobody but Miss Blodgett and the girls; for every morning she 
was sure to be crowded into that same corner at school-opening, where she 
could not look at Mrs. Mowbray; nobody else wanted that place, so they 
gave it to her; and Rotha was never good at self-assertion, unless at 
such times as her blood was up. She took the place meekly. But school was 
very tiresome to her; and it gave her nothing to distract her thoughts 
from her troubles at home. 

Those were threefold, to take them in detail. She wore still the old 
dress; she was consequently still kept up stairs; and it followed also of 
course that Mr. Digby came and went and she had no sight of him. It 
happened thus. 

Several days he allowed to pass without calling again. Not that he forgot 
Rotha, or was careless about her; but he partly knew his adversary and 
judged this course wise, for Rotha's sake. His first visit had been on 
Tuesday evening; he let a week go by, and then he went again. Mrs. Busby 
was engaged with other visitors; he had to post-pone the inquiries he 
wished to make. Meanwhile Antoinette attacked him. 

"Mr. Southwode,--now it is a nice evening, and you promised;--will you 
take me to the Minstrels?" 

"I always keep my promises." 

"Then shall we go?" with great animation. 

"Did I say I would go to-night?" 

"No; but to-night is a good time; as good as any. Ah, Mr. Southwode! let 
us go. You'll never take me, if you do not to-night." 

"What would Mrs. Busby say?" 

"O she'd say yes. Of course she'd say yes. Mamma always says yes when I 
ask her things. Mamma! I say, mamma! listen to me one moment; may I go 
with Mr. Southwode?" 

One moment Mrs. Busby turned her head from the friend with whom she was 
talking, looked at her daughter, and said, "Yes"; then turned again and 
went on with what she was saying. Antoinette jumped up. 

"And bring your cousin too," said Mr. Southwode as she was flying off. 
Antoinette stopped. 

"Rotha? she can't go." 

"Why can she not go?" 

"She has got nothing ready to wear out yet. Mamma hasn't had time to get 
the things and have 'em made. She couldn't go." 

"She might wear what she wore when I brought her here," Mr. Digby 
suggested. Antoinette shook her head. 

"O no! Mamma wouldn't let her go out so. She _couldn't_, now that she is 
under her care, you know. Her things are not fit at all." 

"Will you have the kindness to send word to your cousin that I should 
like to see her for a few minutes?" 

"O she can't come down?" 

"Why not?" 

"O she's in no condition. Mamma--mamma! Mr. Southwode wants to see 
Rotha." 

"I am very sorry!" said Mrs. Busby smoothly and calmly, turning again 
from the discourse she was carrying on,--"I have sent her to bed with a 
tumbler of hot lemonade." 

"What is the matter?" 

"A slight cold--nothing troublesome, I hope; but I thought best to take 
it in time. I do not want her studies to be interrupted." 

Mr. Southwode was powerless against this announcement, and thought his 
own thoughts, till Mrs. Busby drew him into the discussion which just 
then engaged her. Upon this busy talk presently came Antoinette, hatted 
and cloaked, and drawing on her gloves. Stood and waited. 

"Mr. Southwode--I am ready," she said, as he did not attend to her. 

"For the Minstrels?" said he, with that very unconcerned manner of his. 
"But, Miss Antoinette, would not your cousin like to go?" 

"She _can't_, you know. Where are your ears, Mr. Southwode? Mamma 
explained to you that she was in bed." 

"Then do you not agree with me, that it would be the kindest thing to 
defer our own pleasure until she can share it?" 

Antoinette flushed and coloured, and tears of disappointment came into 
her eyes. A little tinge rose in Mrs. Busby's cheeks too. 

"Go and take your cloak off," she said coldly. "And Antoinette, you had 
better see that your lessons for to-morrow morning are all ready." 

Mr. Southwode thereupon took his departure. If he had known what eyes and 
ears were strained to get knowledge of him at that moment, I think he 
would have stood his ground and taken some very decided measures. But he 
could not see from the lighted hall below up into the darkness of the 
third story, even' if it could have occurred to him to try. There stood 
however a white figure, leaning over the balusters, and very well aware 
whose steps were going through the hall and out at the front door. Poor 
Rotha had obeyed orders and undressed and gone to bed, though she 
insisted her throat was only a very little irritated; and neither the one 
fact nor the other had prevented her from jumping tip to listen when the 
door bell rang, and again when steps she knew came out from the parlour. 
Again he had been here, and again she had missed him. Of course he could 
do nothing when told that she was in bed with a cold. Rotha went back 
into her room and stood trembling, not with a chill, though the night was 
cold enough, but with a fever of rage and desperation. She opened the 
window and poured out the lemonade which she had not touched; she shut 
the window and wrung her hands. She seemed to be in a net, in a cage, in 
a prison; and the walls of her prison were so invisible that she could 
not get at them to burst them. She would write to Mr. Digby, only she did 
not know his address. Would he not write to her, perhaps? Rotha Was in a 
kind of fury of impatience and indignation; this thought served to give 
her a little stay to hold by. 

And a letter did come for her the very next evening; and Rotha's eyes 
never saw it, nor did her ears hear of it. 

Neither did her new dresses come to light; and evening after evening her 
condition was not changed. She was prisoner up stairs with her books and 
studies, which did not occupy her; and hour after hour Rotha stood in the 
hall and listened, or sat watching. She could not hear Mr. Digby's voice 
again. She wondered what had power to detain him. With craving anxiety 
and the strain of hope and fear, Rotha's cheek began to grow pale. It was 
getting at last beyond endurance. She went through her school duties 
mechanically, thinking of something else, yet doing all that was required 
of her; for, as I said, it was ground that she had gone over already. She 
queried with herself whether Mr. Southwode might not come even to the 
school to seek her; it seemed so impossible that she should be utterly 
kept from the sight of him. All this while Rotha never spoke his name 
before her aunt or cousin; never asked a question about him or his 
visits. By what subtle instinct it is hard to tell, she knew the 
atmosphere of the house was not favourable to the transmission of those 
particular sounds. 

One thing, one day, had made a break in her gloomy thoughts. She was in 
her class, in the special room appropriated to that class, busy as usual; 
when the door opened and a lady came in whom Rotha had not fairly seen 
before, yet whom she at once recognized for what she was, the head of the 
establishment. Rotha's eyes were fascinated. It was a tall figure, very 
stately and dignified as well as graceful; handsomely and carefully 
dressed; but Rotha took in that fact without knowing what the lady wore, 
she was so engrossed with the face and manner of this vision. The manner 
was at once gracious and commanding; courteous exceedingly, while the air 
of decision and the tone of authority were well marked. But the face! It 
was wonderfully lovely; with fair features and kind eyes; the head sat 
well upon the shoulders, and the hair was arranged with very rare grace 
around the delicate head. So elegant a head one very rarely sees, as was 
Mrs. Mowbray's, although the dressing of the hair was as simple as 
possible. The hair was merely twisted up in a loose knot or coil at the 
back; the effect was what not one in a thousand can reach with all the 
arts of the hair-dresser. This lovely apparition paused a minute or two 
before Miss Blodgett, while some matter of business was discussed; then 
the observant eyes came to the young stranger in the class, and a few 
steps brought them close up to her. 

"This is Miss Carpenter, isn't it?--yes. How do you do, my dear." She 
took Rotha's hand kindly. "How is your aunt, Mrs. Busby?" 

Rotha answered. Perhaps those watchful eyes saw that there was no 
pleasure in the answer. 

"Your cousin--she is in Miss Graham's class, is she not?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 

"Well, I hope you have made some friends here. Miss Doolittle, won't you 
be helpful to Miss Carpenter if you can? she is a stranger among us.--
Good morning, young ladies!" 

The lady swept away from the room; but all that day there hovered in 
Rotha's thoughts a vision of beauty and grace and dignity, an accent of 
kindness, a manner of love and authority, which utterly fascinated and 
wholly captivated her. It was quite a sweetener of that day's dry work. 
She looked to see the vision come again the next day, and the next; in 
vain; but Rotha now knew the voice; and not a word was let fall from 
those lips, in reading or prayer, at the school opening now, that she did 
not listen to. 

Days went on. At last one day Mrs. Busby said it was no use to wait any 
longer for the mantua-makers; Rotha might as well come down and have her 
dinner with the family. She could not stay in the drawing room of course, 
until she was decently dressed; but she might as well come to dinner. 
Rotha could not understand why so much could not have been granted from 
the first; there was nobody at the dinner table but her aunt and cousin 
and Mr. Busby. Mr. Busby was a very tall, thin man, always busy with 
newspapers or sheets of manuscript; whose "Good morning, my dear!" in 
that peculiar husky voice of his, was nearly all Rotha ever heard him 
say. He took his breakfast, or his dinner, and went off to his study at 
once. 

Rotha climbed the stairs to Mrs. Busby's dressing room, after the meal 
was over, and sat down to think. She was consuming herself in impatience 
and fretting. By and by Lesbia came in to see to the fire. 

"Lesbia," said Rotha with sudden resolution, "will you do something for 
me?" She looked at the girl eagerly. 

"Mebbe, miss. Like to know what 'tis, fust." 

"It is only, to tell me something," said Rotha lowering her voice. 

"Aint nothin' harder 'n to tell things," said the girl. "That's the 
hardest thing I know." 

"It isn't hard, if you are willing." 

"Don' know about that. Well, fire away, Miss Rotha. What you want?" 

Rotha went first to the door and shut it. Then came back and stood by the 
table where Lesbia was lighting the gas drop. 

"Lesbia, I want you to tell me-- You always open the door, don't you?" 

"'Cept when I aint there." 

"But in the evenings you do?" 

"I'm pretty likely to, miss--if it aint my evening out." 

"I want you to tell me--" Rotha lowered her voice to a whisper,--"if Mr. 
Southwode has been here lately?" 

Lesbia stood silent, considering. 

"You know him? You know Mr. Southwode?" 

"He brought you here the fust, didn't he?" 

"Yes. Yes, that is he. When was he here last?" 

"Don't just 'member." 

"But _about_ when? Two weeks or three weeks ago?" 

"Well, 'pears to me as if I'd seen him later 'n that." 

"When, Lesbia? Oh do tell me! do tell me!" 

"Why he aint nothin' particular to you, is he?" 

"He is _everything_ to me. He is the only friend I have got in the world. 
When was he here, Lesbia?" 

"He's a mighty handsome gentleman, with hair lighter than your'n, and a 
mustaches?" 

"Yes. He came with me that first day. Tell me, Lesbia!" 

"But Miss Rotha, I can't see what you want to know fur?" 

"Never mind. I tell you, he is all the friend I have got; and I'm afraid 
something is wrong, because I don't see him." 

"I reckon there is," said Lesbia, not reassuringly. 

"What?" 

"Mrs. Busby will kill me." 

"No, I shall not tell her you told me. O Lesbia, Lesbia, speak, speak!" 

Lesbia glanced at the girl and saw her intense excitement, and seemed 
doubtful. 

"You'll be so mad, you'll go tellin' the fust thing," she said. 

Rotha sat down, in silence now, and gazed in Lesbia's face with her own 
growing white. Lesbia seemed at last overcome. 

"He was here last week, and he was here this week," she said. 

"This week!--and last week too. What day this week, Lesbia?" 

"This here is Friday, aint it. Blessed if I kin keep the run o' the days. 
Let us see--Mr. Southwode was here the last time, Tuesday." 

"Tuesday? And I was here studying." 

"Then you don't know?" said Lesbia eyeing her. "He's done gone away." 

"What do you mean? That can't be." 

"He's done gone, miss. Sailed Wednesday. I heerd 'em talking about it at 
dinner. His name was in the list, they was sayin'; in the papers." 

"Sailed Wednesday? O where to, Lesbia?" 

"Don' know, miss; some place where the ships goes." 

"England?" 

"Mebbe. I doesn't know all de places on dis yere arth." 

"How long is he going to be gone?" 

"Can't tell dat, miss. I haint heerd nobody say. La, I dare say he'll 
come back. It's as easy to come as to go. Folks is allays goin' and 
comin'. But if you tell Mis' Busby, then I've done gone and lost my 
place, Miss Rotha." 

Rotha stood still and said not a word more. But she turned so white that 
Lesbia looked on in alarm, expecting every moment she would faint. There 
was no faintness, however. Rotha was not one of those who lose present 
knowledge of misery in the weakness of a swoon. She turned white and even 
livid in the intensity of passion, the fury of rage and despair which 
held her; then, knowing that she must not betray Lesbia and that 
accordingly she must not meet anybody's eyes, she seized her books and 
rushed up stairs to her own little room. 

It was dark there, but so much darker in the child's heart that she never 
noticed that. It was cold, yet not to her, for in her soul a fire was 
burning, hot enough to dispense with material warmth. She never missed 
that. But the walls of her room did seem to her a prison, a dreadful 
prison, from which she must flee if there were any place to flee to. Had 
her only refuge failed her? Was her one heart's treasure lost to her? Was 
the world empty, and all gone? The bewilderment of it almost equalled the 
pain. Rotha held her head in both hands and tried to find some hope, or 
some stay for her thoughts and for her feelings. 

She charged it all presently with the certainty of intuition upon her 
aunt. For in her Rotha had not one particle of trust. She had received at 
her hands no unkind treatment, (what was the matter with the mantua-
makers, though?) she had heard from her lips no unkind word; yet both 
would not have put such a distance between them as this want of trust 
did. It was Rotha's nature to despise where she could not trust; and here 
unhappily there was also the complication of fear. Somehow, she was sure, 
her aunt had done it; she had prevented Mr. Digby from seeing her; and 
now he was away, and how could she tell but cunning arrangements would be 
potent enough to keep him from seeing her evermore? Any reason for such 
machinations Rotha indeed failed to divine; why her aunt should desire to 
keep them apart, was a mere mystery; all the same, she had done it; and 
the chances were she would choose to do it permanently. Mr. Digby had 
been duped, or baffled somehow; else he would never have left the country 
without seeing his charge. She did not know before that Mr. Digby could 
be duped, or baffled; but if once or twice, why not again. 

She would write to him. Ah, she had not his address, that he was to have 
given her. _He_ would write. Yes, but somebody else would get the letters. 
Rotha was of anything but a suspicious disposition, yet now suspicion 
after suspicion came in her mind. The possible moving cause for her 
aunt's action was entirely beyond her imagination; the action itself and 
the drift of it she discerned clearly. There rose in her a furious 
opposition and dislike towards her aunt, a storm of angry abhorrence. And 
yet, she was in Mrs. Busby's care, under her protection, and also--in her 
power. Rotha gnashed her teeth, mentally, as she reviewed the situation. 
But by degrees grief overweighed even anger and fear; grief so cutting, 
so desolating, so crushing, as the girl had hardly known in her life 
before; an agony of anguish which held her awake till late in the night; 
till feeling and sense were blunted with exhaustion, and in her misery 
she slept. 

When the day came, Rotha awaked to a cold, dead sense of the state of 
things; the ashes of the fire that had burned so fiercely the night 
before; desolate and dreary as the ashes of a fire always are. She 
revolved while she was dressing her plan of action. She must have certain 
information from Mrs. Busby herself. She was certain indeed of what she 
had heard; but she must hear it from somebody besides Lesbia, and she 
must not betray Lesbia. She thought it all over, and went down stairs 
trembling in the excitement and the pain of what she had to do. 

It was winter now in truth. The basement room where the family took their 
meals in ordinary, was a very warm and comfortable apartment; handsomely 
furnished; only Rotha always hated it for being half underground. The 
fire was burning splendidly; Mr. Busby sat in his easy chair at the side 
of the hearth next the light; Mrs. Busby was at the table preparing 
breakfast. Rotha stood by the fire and thought how she should begin. The 
sun shone very bright outside the windows. But New York had become a 
desert. 

"Mr. Busby, will you come to the table?" said his wife. "Rotha, I am 
going to see about your cloak to-day." 

Rotha could not say "thank you." She began to eat, for form's sake. 

"What are you going to get her, mother?" Antoinette enquired. 

"You can come along and see." 

"Aunt Serena," said Rotha, trying to speak un-concernedly, "what has 
become of Mr. Digby--Mr. Southwode, I mean." 

"I do not know, my dear," the lady answered smoothly. 

"Why haven't I seen him?" 

"My dear, you have not seen anybody. Some day I hope you will be able; 
but I begin to despair of the dress-makers." 

"If my tailor served me so, I should give him up," said Mr. Busby's 
quick, husky utterance. 

"Yes, papa, but you wouldn't, if there was only one tailor you liked." 

"Isn't there more than one mantua-maker for all this big city?" 

"My dear, Miss Hubbell suits me, and is uncommonly reasonable, for the 
quality of her work; and she has so much custom, we cannot get her 
without speaking long beforehand." 

"Why don't you speak, then?" 

"When was Mr. Digby--Mr. Southwode here, aunt Serena?" Rotha began again. 

"A few nights ago. I do not recollect. Mr. Busby, as you go down town 
will you stop at Dubois's and order the piano tuner? The piano is quite 
out of tune. And I wish you would order me a bag of coffee, if you say 
you can get it more reasonably at your down town place." 

"Very well, my dear." The words used to amuse Rotha, they rolled out so, 
brisk and sharp, like the discharge from a gun. To-day she was impatient. 

"Aunt Serena, I have been wanting to see Mr. Southwode very much." 

No answer. Mrs. Busby attended to her breakfast as if she did not hear. 

"When can I?" Rotha persisted. 

"I am sure, I cannot say. Mr. Busby, I will trouble you for a little of 
that sausage." 

"This sausage has too much pepper in it, mamma." 

"And too little of something else," added Mr. Busby. 

"Of what, Mr. Busby?" 

"That I do not know, my dear; it belongs to your department." 

"But even the Chaldean magicians could not interpret the dream that was 
not told to them," Mrs. Busby suggested, with smiling satisfaction. "How 
can I have the missing quality supplied, if you cannot tell me what it is 
you miss?" 

"You can divine, my dear, quite as well as the Chaldean magicians." 

"Then if that is true, aunt Serena," Rotha put in desperately, "will you 
please tell me where Mr. Southwode is?" 

"Her divining rod is not long enough for that," said Mr. Busby. "Mr. 
Southwode is on the high seas somewhere, on his way to England." 

"On the high seas!" Rotha repeated slowly. 

"There was no occasion to mention that, Mr. Busby," said his wife. "Mr. 
Southwode's movements are nothing to us." 

"Seem to be something to Rotha," said the gentleman. 

"You knew that," said Rotha, steadily. "Why did you keep it from me, aunt 
Serena?" 

"I did not keep it from you," Mrs. Busby returned, bridling. "The papers 
are open. I did not speak of it, because Mr. Southwode and his affairs 
are no concern of yours, or of mine, and therefore are not interesting." 

"Of yours? No! But they are all I have in the world!" said Rotha, with 
fire in her cheeks and in her eyes. Mrs. Busby went on with her breakfast 
and avoided looking at her. But Antoinette cried out. 

"All she has in the world! Mr. Southwode! Pretty well for a young lady! 
Mamma, do you hear that? Mr. Southwode is all she has in the world." 

"Once hearing a silly thing is quite enough. You need not repeat it, 
Antoinette." 

"Didn't he come to say good bye?" asked Rotha, her eyes blazing. 

"I do not answer questions put in that tone," said Mrs. Busby, coldly. 

"I know he did," said Rotha. "What did he go to England for, Mr. Busby?" 

"Mr. Busby," said his wife, "I request you not to reply. Rotha is 
behaving improperly, and must be left to herself till she is better-
mannered." 

"I don't know, my dear," said the gentleman, rising and gathering his 
newspapers together, previous to taking his departure. "'Seems to me 
that's an open question--public, as you say. I do not see why you should 
not tell Rotha that Mr. Southwode is called home by the illness and 
probable death of his father. Good-morning, my dear!" 

"Did you ever see anything like papa!" said Antoinette with an appealing 
look at her mother, as the door closed. "He don't mind you a bit, mamma." 

Mrs. Busby's slight air of the head was more significant than words. 

"He is the only fraction of a friend I have in this house," said Rotha. 
"But you needn't think, aunt Serena, that you can do what you like with 
Mr. Southwode and me. I belong to him, not to you; and he will come back, 
and then he will take me under his own care, and I will have nothing to 
do with you the rest of my life. I know you now. I thought I did before, 
and now I know. You let mamma want everything in the world; and now 
perhaps you will let me; but Mr. Southwode will take care of me, sooner 
or later, and I can wait, for I know him too." 

Rotha left the room, unconsciously with the air of a tragedy queen. Alas, 
it was tragedy enough with her! 

"Mamma!" said Antoinette. "Did you ever see anything like that?" 

"I knew it was in her," Mrs. Busby said, keeping her composure in 
appearance. 

"What will you do with her?" 

"Let her alone a little," said Mrs. Busby icily. "Let her come to her 
senses." 

"Will you go to get her cloak to-day?" 

"I don't know why I should give myself any trouble about her. I will let 
her wait till she comes to her senses and humbles herself to me." 

"Do you think she ever will?" 

"I don't care, whether she does or not. It is all the same to me. You let 
her alone too, Antoinette." 

"_I_ will," said Antoinette. "I don't like spitfires. High! what a
powder-magazine she is, mamma! Her eyes are enough to set fire to things 
sometimes." 

"Don't use such an inelegant word, Antoinette. 'High!' How can you? Where 
did you get it?" 

"You send me to school, mamma, to learn; and so I pick up a few things. 
But do you think it is true, what she says about Mr. Southwode?" 

"What?" 

"That he will come and take her away from you." 

"Not if I don't choose it," 

"And you will not choose it, will you?" 

"Don't be foolish, Antoinette. Rotha will never see Mr. Southwode again. 
She has defied me, and now she may take the consequences." 

"But he _will_ come back, mamma? He said so." 

"I hope he will." 

"Then he'll find Rotha, and she'll tell him her own story." 

"Will you trust me to look after my own affairs? And get yourself ready 
to go out with me immediately." 


CHAPTER XIV. 


IN SECLUSION. 


Rotha climbed the three flights of stairs from the breakfast room, 
feeling that her aunt's house, and the world generally, had become a 
desert to her. She went up to her own little room, being very sure that 
neither in the warm dressing room on the second floor, nor indeed in any 
other, would she be welcome, or even perhaps tolerated. How should she 
be, after what had taken place? And how could she breathe, anyhow, in any 
atmosphere where her aunt was? Imprudent? had she been imprudent? Very 
possibly; she had brought matters to an unmanageable point, inconvenient 
for all parties; and she had broken through the cold reserve which it had 
been her purpose to maintain, and lost sight wholly of the principles by 
which it had Been Mr. Digby's wish that she should be guided. Rotha had a 
mental recognition of all this; but passion met it with simple defiance. 
She was not weeping; the fire at her heart scorched all tender moisture, 
though it would not keep her blood warm. The day was wintry indeed. Rotha 
pulled the coverlet off her bed and wrapped herself in it, and sat down 
to think. . 

Thinking, is too good a name to give to what for some time went on in 
Rotha's mind. She was rather looking at the procession of images which 
passion called up and sent succeeding one another through the chambers of 
her brain. It was a very dreary time with the girl. Her aunt's treachery, 
her cousin's coldness, Mr. Digby's pitiless desertion, her lonely, lonely 
place in the world, her unendurable dependence on people that did not 
love her; for just now her dependence on Mr. Digby had failed; it all 
rushed through and through Rotha's head, for all the world like the 
changing images in a kaleidoscope, which are but new combinations, 
eternally renewed, of the same changeless elements. At first they went 
through Rotha's head in a kind of storm; gradually, for very weariness, 
the storm laid itself, and cold reality and sober reason had the field. 

But what could reason do with the reality? In other words, what step was 
now to take? What was to be done? Rotha could not see. She was at present 
at open war with her aunt. Yes, she allowed, that had not been exactly 
prudent; but it would have had to come, sooner or later. She could not 
live permanently on false social grounds; as well break through them at 
once. But what now? What ground did she expect to stand and move on now? 
She could not leave her aunt's house, for she had no other home to go to. 
How was she to stay in it, if she made no apology or submission? And I 
cannot do that, said the girl to herself. Apology indeed! It is she who 
ought to humble herself to me, for it is she who has wronged me, 
bitterly, meanly. Passion renewed the storm, for a little while. But by 
degrees Rotha came to be simply cold and tired and miserable. What to do 
she did not know. 

Nobody was at home to luncheon. She knew this, and got some refreshment 
from Lesbia, and also warmed herself through at the dressing-room fire. 
But when the door bell announced the return of her aunt and cousin, she 
sped away up stairs again and wrapped herself in her coverlet, and 
waited. She waited till it grew dark. She was not called to dinner, and 
saw that she would not be. Rotha fed upon indignation, which furnished 
her a warm meal; and then somebody knocked softly at her door. Lesbia had 
brought a plate with some cold viands. 

"I'll fetch it agin by and by," she whispered. "I'm allays agin seein' 
folks starve. What's the matter, Miss Rotha?" 

Lesbia had heard one side down stairs, and impartially was willing now to 
hear the other. Rotha's natural dignity however never sought such solace 
of her troubles. 

"Thank you, Lesbia," she simply said. "My aunt is vexed with me." 

"She's vexed worse'n ever I seen her. What you gone and done, Miss 
Rotha?" 

"It can't be helped," said Rotha. "She and I do not think alike." 

"It's convenientest not to quarrel with Mrs. Busby if you live in the 
house with her," said Lesbia. "She's orful smart, she is. But she and me 
allays thinks just alike, and so I get on first rate with her." 

"That's a very good way, for you," said Rotha. 

She went to bed, dulled that night with pain and misery, and slept the 
night through. When the light of a bright Sunday morning awoke her, she 
opened her eyes again to the full dreariness of her situation. So 
terribly dreary and cold at heart Rotha had never felt. Deserted by her 
one friend--and with that thought Rotha broke down and cried as if she 
would break her heart. But hearts are tough, and do not break so easily. 
The necessity of getting dressed before breakfast obliged her to check 
her passion of grief and dry her eyes; though _that_ she did not; the 
tears kept dripping on her hands and into her basin of water; but she 
finished dressing, and then queried what she should do about going to the 
breakfast-table. She was very uncertain whether she would be allowed 
there. However, it was disagreeable, but the attempt must be made; she 
must find out whether it was war to the knife or not. And although the 
thought choked her, she was hungry; and be it the bread of charity, and 
her aunt's charity to boot, she could not get along without it. She went 
down stairs, rather late. The family were at breakfast. 

Her aunt did not look at her. Antoinette stared at her. Mr. Busby, as 
usual, took no notice. Rotha came up to the side of the table and stood 
there, changing colour somewhat. 

"I do not know," she said, "if I am to be allowed to come to breakfast. I 
came to see." 

Mrs. Busby made no answer. 

"Polite--" said Antoinette. 

"Eh?" said Mr. Busby looking up from a letter, "what's that? Sit down, my 
dear, you are late. Hold your plate--" 

As nobody interfered, Rotha did so and sat down to her meal. Mrs. Busby 
said nothing whatever. Perhaps she felt she had pushed matters pretty 
far; perhaps she avoided calling her husband's attention any further to 
the subject. She made no remark about anything, till Mr. Busby had left 
the room; nor then immediately. When she did speak, it was in her hard, 
measured way. 

"As you present yourself before me this morning, Rotha, I may hope that 
you are prepared to make me a proper apology." 

"What have I done, aunt Serena?" 

"Do you ask me? You have forgotten strangely the behaviour due from you 
to me." 

"I did not forget it--" said Rotha slowly. 

"Will you give me an excuse for your conduct, then?" 

"Yes," said Rotha. "Because, aunt Serena, you had forgotten so utterly 
the treatment due from you to me." 

Mrs. Busby flushed a little. Still she commanded herself She always did. 

"Mamma, she's pretty impudent!" said Antoinette. 

"I always make allowances, and you must learn to do so, Antoinette, for 
people who have never learned any manners." 

Rotha was stung, but she confessed to herself that passion had made her 
overleap the bounds which she had purposed, and Mr. Digby had counselled, 
her behaviour should observe. So she was now silent. 

"However," Mrs. Busby went on, "it is quite necessary that any one living 
in my family and sheltered by my roof, should pay me the respect which 
they owe to me." 

"I will always pay all I owe," said Rotha deliberately, "so far as I have 
anything to pay it with." 

"And in case the supply fails," said Mrs. Busby, her voice trembling a 
little, "don't you think you had better avoid going deeper into debt?" 

"What do I owe you, aunt Serena?" asked the girl. 

Mrs. Busby saw the gathering fire in the dark eyes, and did not desire to 
bring on another explosion. She assumed an impassive air, looked away 
from Rotha, rose and began to put her cups together on the tea-board, and 
rang for the tub of hot water. 

"I leave that to your own sense to answer," she said. "But if you are to 
stay in my house, I beg you to understand, you must behave yourself to me 
with all proper civility and good manners. Else I will turn you into the 
street." 

Rotha recognized the necessity for a certain decency of exterior form at 
least, if she and her aunt were to continue under one roof; and so, 
though her tongue was ready with an answer, she did not at once make it. 
She rose, and was about quitting the room, when the fire in her blazed up 
again. 

"It is where mother would have been, if it had not been for other 
friends," she said. 

She opened the door as she spoke, and toiled up the long stairs to her 
room; for when the heart is heavy somehow one's feet are not light. She 
went to her cold little room and sat down. The sunshine was very bright 
outside, and church bells were ringing. No going to church for her, nor 
would there have been in any case; she had no garments fit to go out in. 
Would she ever have them? Rotha queried. The church bells hurt her heart; 
she wished they would stop ringing; they sounded clear and joyous notes, 
and reminded her of happy times past. Medwayville, her father, her 
mother, peace and honour, and latterly Mr. Southwode, and all his 
kindness and teaching and his affection. It was too much. The early 
Sunday morning was spent by Rotha in an agony of weeping and lamentation; 
silent, however; she made no noise that could be heard down stairs where 
Mrs. Busby and Antoinette were dressing to go to church. The intensity of 
her passion again by and by wore itself out; and when the last bells had 
done ringing, and the patter of feet was silenced in the streets, Rotha 
crept down to the empty dressing room, feeling blue and cold, to warm 
herself. She shivered, she stretched her arms to the warmth of the fire, 
she was chilled to the core, with a chill that was yet more mental than 
physical Alone, and stripped of everything, and everybody gone that she 
loved. What was she to do? how was she to live? She was struggling with a 
burden of realities and trying to make them seem unreal, trying for an 
outlook of hope or comfort in the darkness of her prospects. In vain; Mr. 
Digby was gone, and with him all her strength and her reliance. He was 
gone; nobody could tell when he would come back; perhaps never; and she 
could not write to him, and his letters would never get to her. Never; 
she was sure of it. Mrs. Busby would never let them get further than her 
own hands. So everything was worse than she had ever feared it could be. 

Sitting there on the rug before the fire, and with her teeth chattering, 
partly from real cold and partly from the nervous exhaustion, there came 
to her suddenly something Mr. Digby had once said to her. If she should 
come to see a time when she would have nobody to depend on; when her 
world would be wholly a desert; _all_ gone that she had loved or trusted. 
It has come now!--she thought to herself; even he, who I thought would 
never fail me, he has failed. He said he would not fail me, but he has 
failed. I am alone; I have nobody any more. Then he told me---- 

She went back and gathered it up in her memory, what he had told her to 
do then. Then if she would seek the Lord, seek him with her whole heart, 
she would find him; and finding him, she would find good again. The poor, 
sore heart caught at the promise. I will seek him, she suddenly said; I 
will seek till I find; I have nothing else now. 

The resolve was as earnest as it was sudden. Doubtless the way had been 
preparing for it, in her mother's and her father's teachings and prayers 
and example, and in Mr. Digby's words and kindness and his example; she 
remembered now the look of his eyes as he told her the Lord Jesus would 
do all she trusted him to do. Yet the determination was extremely sudden 
to Rotha herself. And as the meeting of two currents, whether in the 
waters or in the air or the human mind, generally raises a commotion, so 
this flowing in of light and promise upon the midst of her despair almost 
broke Rotha's heart. The tears shed this time, however, though abundant, 
were less bitter; and Rotha raised her head and dashed the drops away, 
and ran up stairs to fetch her mother's Bible and begin her quest upon 
the spot. Lying there upon the rug in her aunt's dressing room, she began 
it. 

She began with a careful consideration of the three marked passages. The 
one in John especially held her. "He that hath my commandments and 
keepeth them, he it is that loveth me."--I do not love Him, thought 
Rotha, for I do not know Him; but I must begin, I suppose, with keeping 
his commandments. Now the thing is, to find out what.--

She opened her book at hap hazard, lying on the rug there with it before 
her. A leaf or two aimlessly turned,--and her eye fell on these words: 

"And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book, and the eyes 
of the blind shall see out of obscurity and out of darkness. The meek 
also shall increase their joy in the Lord, and the poor among men shall 
rejoice in the Holy One of Israel." 

I am poor enough, thought Rotha, while soft warm tears streamed afresh 
from her eyes;--and deaf enough, and blind enough too, I have been; but 
meek?--I guess I'm not meek. 

Turning over a leaf or two, her eyes were caught by the thirty fifth 
chapter of Isaiah, and she read it all. There was the promise for the 
deaf and the blind again; Rotha applied that to herself unhesitatingly; 
but the rest of the chapter she could not well understand. Except one 
thing; that the way of the blessed people is a "way of holiness." And 
also the promise in the last verse, which seemed to be an echo of those 
words of Jesus--"He that cometh to me shall never hunger, and he that 
believeth on me shall never thirst." And Rotha was so hungry, and so 
thirsty! She paused just there, and covering her eyes with her hand, made 
one of the first real prayers, perhaps, she had ever prayed. It was a 
dumb stretching out of her hands for the food she was starving for; not 
much more; but it was eagerly put in the name of Christ, and such cries 
he hears. She turned over a few more leaves and stopped. 

"I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, 
and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a 
light of the Gentiles; to open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners 
from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house." 

Who could that be? Rotha knew enough to guess that it could mean but one, 
even the great Deliverer. And a little further on she saw other words 
which encouraged her. 

"I will bring the blind by a way that they know not; I will lead them in 
paths they have not known; I will make darkness light before them, and 
crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not 
forsake them." 

So many promises to the blind, Rotha said to herself; and that means me. 
I don't think I am meek, but I know I am blind.--Then on the very next 
leaf she read-- 

"I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and as a cloud 
thy sins; return unto me; for I have redeemed thee." 

_Redeemed_, that means, bought back, said Rotha; and I know who has done 
it, too. I suppose that is how he delivered the prisoners out of the 
prison house. Well, if he has redeemed me, I ought to belong to him,--and 
I will! I do not know much, but there is another promise; he will bring 
the blind by a way they have not known, and will make darkness light 
before them. Now what I have to do,--yes, I am redeemed, and I _will_ be 
redeemed; and I belong to him who has redeemed me, of course. "He that 
hath my commandments and keepeth them"--what are they? 

She thought she must look in the New Testament for them; and not knowing 
where to look in particular, she turned to the first chapter. It did not 
seem to contain much that concerned her, till she came to the 21st verse. 

"And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for 
he shall save his people from their sins." 

Rotha put that together with the "way of holiness," but it seemed to her 
unspeakably wonderful. In fact, it was hard to believe. Save _her_ from 
her sins? from pride and anger and self-will and self-pleasing? why, they 
were inborn; they were in her very blood; they came like the breath of 
her breathing. Could she be saved from them? Mr. Digby was like that. But 
a Rotha without anger and pride and self-will--would she know herself? 
would it be Rotha? and was she quite sure that she desired to be the 
subject of such a transformation? Never mind; desire it or not, this was 
the "way of holiness," and there was no other. But about commandments?--

She read the second chapter with an interest that hitherto she had never 
given to it; so also the third, without finding yet what she was looking 
for. The second verse, John the Baptist's cry to repentance, she answered 
by saying that she _had_ repented; that step was taken; what next? In the 
fourth chapter she paused at the 10th verse. I see, she said, one is not 
to do wrong even for the whole world; but what must I do that is _right?_ 
She startled a little at the 19th verse; concluded however that the 
command to "follow him" was directed only to the people of that time, the 
apostles and others, who were expected literally to leave their callings 
and accompany Jesus in his wanderings. The beatitudes were incipient 
commands, perhaps. But she did not quite understand most of them. At the 
16th verse she came to a full pause. 

"Let your light so shine"--That is like Mr. Digby. Everything he does is 
just beautiful, and shews one how one ought to be. Then according to 
that, I must not do any wrong at all!--

ust here Rotha heard the latch key in the house door, and knew the 
family were coming home from church. She seized her Bible and ran off up 
stairs. There it was necessary to wrap herself in her coverlet again; and 
shivering a little she put her book on the bed side and knelt beside it. 
But presently poor Rotha was brought up short in her studies. She had 
been saying comfortably to herself, reading v. 22,--I have not been 
"angry without a cause"; and I have not called anybody "Raca," or "Thou 
fool"; but then it came--

"If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest _that thy 
brother hath ought against thee_, leave there thy gift... go thy way...
first be reconciled... then offer thy gift." 

Rotha felt as if she had got a blow. Her aunt had "something against 
her." But, said Rotha to herself, not the thousandth part of what _I_ 
have against her. No matter, conscience objected; her charge remains the 
same, although you may have a larger to set off against it. Then am I to 
go and make it up with her? I can't do it, said Rotha. I do not wish to 
do it. I wish her to know that I am angry, and justly angry; if I were to 
go and ask her pardon for my way of speaking, she would just think I want 
to make it up with her so that she may get me my new cloak and other 
things.? And Rotha turned hot and cold at the thought. Yet conscience 
pertinaciously presented the injunction?"first be reconciled to thy 
brother." It was a dead lock. Rotha felt that her prayers would not be 
acceptable or accepted, while a clear duty was knowingly left undone; and 
do it she would not. At least not now; and how ever, that she could not 
see. Her heart which had been a little lightened, sank down like lead. O, 
thought she, is it so hard a thing to be a Christian? Did Mr. Digby ever 
have such a fight, I wonder, before he got to be as he is now? He does 
not look as if he ever had fights. But then he is strong. 

And Rotha was weak. She knew it. She let her eye run down the page a 
little further; and it came to these words-- 

"If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee."...
"If thy right hand offend thee, cut it off."...

Duty was plain enough. This luxury of anger at her aunt was a forbidden 
pleasure; it must be given up; and at the thought, Rotha clutched it the 
more warmly. So the bell rang for dinner, always early on Sunday. She 
would rather not have gone down, and did linger; then she heard it rung 
the second time and knew that was to summon the stragglers. She went 
down. The rest were at table. 

"Mamma," Antoinette was saying, "you must get a new bonnet." 

"Why?" 

"Mrs. Mac Jimpsey has got a new one, and it is handsomer than yours." 

"What does that signify?" was asked in Mr. Busby's curious husky tones 
and abrupt utterance. 

"O papa, you don't understand such things." 

"Nor you neither. You are a little goose." 

"Papa! don't you want mamma and me to be as nice as anybody?" 

"You are." 

"O but Mrs. Mac Jimpsey's bonnet was fifty times handsomer than mamma's. 
_You_ don't know, but it was." 

"Nevertheless, your mamma is fifty times handsomer than Mrs. Mac 
Jimpsey." 

"O papa! but _that_ isn't the thing." 

"And Mr. Mac Jimpsey's pocket is some fifty dollars or so emptier than 
mine. You see, we have a hundred times the advantage, to say the least." 

"Papa, gentlemen never understand such things." 

"Better for them if the ladies didn't." 

"My dear," said Mrs. Busby smoothly, "you do not consider dress a subject 
of small importance?" 

"I have no occasion to think about it, my dear, I am aware." 

"Why do you say that, Mr. Busby?" 

"It receives such exhaustive consideration from you." 

"It cannot be done without consideration; not properly. Good dressing is 
a distinction; and it requires a careful regard to circumstances, to keep 
up one's appearance properly." 

"What do you think about it, Rotha?" said Mr. Busby. 

Rotha was startled, and flushed all over. To answer was not easy; and yet 
answer she must. "I think it is comfortable to be well dressed," she 
said. 

"Well dressed! but there is the question. What do you mean by 'well 
dressed'? You see, Antoinette means by it simply, handsomer things than 
Mrs. Mac Jimpsey." 

Antoinette pouted, much incensed at this speech and at the appeal to 
Rotha generally; and Mrs. Busby brought her lips into firmer compression; 
though neither spoke. Mr. Busby went on, rather kindly. 

"What's the matter, that you didn't go to church to-day? Is Antoinette's 
bonnet handsomer than yours?" 

"It ought to be, Mr. Busby," said the lady of the house here. 

"Ought it? Rotha might put in a demurrer. May I ask why?" 

"Circumstances are different, Mr. Busby. That is what I said. Proper 
dressing must keep a due regard to circumstances." 

"Mine among the rest. Now I don't see why a bonnet fit for Antoinette's 
cousin isn't good enough for Antoinette; and the surplus money in my 
pocket." 

"And you would have your daughter dress like a poor girl?" 

"Couldn't do better, in my opinion. That's the way not to become one. 
Fetch me your bonnet, Rotha, and let us see what it is like." 

Rotha coloured high and sat still. Indeed her aunt said, "Nonsense! do no 
such thing." But Mr. Busby repeated, "Fetch it, fetch it. We are talking 
in the abstract; I cannot convict anybody in the abstract." 

"But it is Sunday, Mr. Busby." 

"Well, my dear, what of that? The better day, the better deed. I am 
trying to bring you and Antoinette to a more Christian mind in respect of 
bonnets; that's good work for Sunday. Fetch your bonnet, Rotha." 

"Do no such thing, Rotha," said her aunt. "Mr. Busby is playing; he does 
not mean his words to be taken literally. You would not send her up three 
pair of stairs to gratify your whim, when another time would do just as 
well?" 

"My dear, I always mean my words to be taken literally. I do not 
understand your arts of rhetoric. I will send Rotha up stairs, if she 
will be so obliging as to gratify my whim." 

He looked at Rotha as he spoke, and Rotha half rose from her seat; when 
Antoinette suddenly dashed past her, saying, "I will fetch it"--and ran 
off up stairs. Rotha sat down again, much confounded at this benevolence, 
and wondering what that was not benevolent might lie beneath it. Mrs. 
Busby pursed up her mouth and looked at nobody. Presently Antoinette came 
down again. In her hand she held a little grey plush hat, somewhat worn 
but very jaunty, with a long grey feather, curled round it. This hat she 
held out on the tips of her fingers for her father's inspection. Rotha's 
eyes grew large with astonishment. Mrs. Busby's lips twitched. Antoinette 
looked daring and mischievous. Mr. Busby innocently surveyed the grey 
plush and feather. 

"So that is what you call a hat for a poor girl?" he said. "It seems to 
me, if I remember, that is very like one you used to wear, Nettie." 

"Yes, papa, it is; but this is Rotha's." 

"Mrs. Busby, was this your choice?" 

"Yes, Mr. Busby." 

"Then of course this is proper for Rotha. Now will you explain to me why 
it is not equally proper for Antoinette? But this is not what I should 
have called a hat for a poor girl, my dear." 

"Mr. Busby, while Rotha lives with us, it is necessary to have a certain 
conformity--there cannot be _too_ much difference made." 

"Hum--ha!" said the bewildered man. Rotha by this time had got her 
breath. 

"That is not my hat however, Mr. Busby," she said, with cheeks on fire. 

"Yes, it is your hat," said Antoinette. "Do you think I am saying what is 
not true? It is your hat, and nobody else's." 

"It is _your_ hat. I have seen you wear it." 

"I have given it to you. It is your hat." 

"I don't take it," said Rotha. "Your things do not suit me, as your 
mother has just said. You may do what you like with it; but you do not 
give it to me!" 

Mr. Busby looked from one to the other. 

"Do you expect me to buy new everything for you?" Mrs. Busby asked now. 
"Is it not good enough? I suppose it is much better than any hat you ever 
had before in your life." 

"But it is not mine," said Rotha. "It never was given to me. I never 
heard anything of it until now, when Antoinette fetched it because she 
did not want Mr. Busby to see what sort of a hat I really had. Thank you! 
I do not take it." 

"But it is yours!" cried Antoinette. "I have given it to you. Do you 
think I would wear it, after giving it away?" 

"If it was convenient, you would," said Rotha. 

"You may lay your account with not having any hat, then, unless you wear 
this," said Mrs. Busby. "You may take your choice. If you receive 
Antoinette's kindness so, you must not look for mine." 

"Your kindness, and hers, are the very strangest sort I ever heard of in 
my life," said Rotha. 

"What am I to understand by all this?" asked the perplexed Mr. Busby, 
looking from the hat to the faces of the speakers. 

"Only, that I never heard of that hat's being intended for me until this 
minute," said Rotha. 

"Rotha," said her aunt quietly, "you may go up stairs." 

"What did you bring it down for, Nettie?" 

"Because you took an insane fancy to see Rotha's bonnet, papa; so I 
brought it." 

"That is not true, Mr. Busby," Rotha said, standing up to go. 

"It is not your hat?" 

"No, sir." 

"Mr. Busby, if you would listen to Antoinette's words," said his wife 
with her lips very compressed, "you would understand things. Rotha, I 
said you might go." 

Which Rotha did, Antoinette at the same moment bursting into tears and 
flinging the hat on the dinner table. 

What followed, Rotha did not know. She climbed the many stairs with a 
heavy heart. It was war to the knife now. She was sure her aunt would 
never forgive her. And, much worse, she did not see how she was ever to 
forgive her aunt. And yet--"if thy neighbour hath ought against thee"--. 
Rotha had far more against _her_, she excused herself, in vain. The one 
debt was not expunged by the other. And, bitter as her own grievances 
seemed to her, there was a score on the other side. Not so would Mr. 
Digby have received or returned injuries. Rotha knew it. And as fancy 
represented to her the quiet, manly, dignified sweetness which always 
characterized him, she did not like the retrospect of her own behaviour. 
So true it is, that "whatsoever doth make manifest is light." No 
discourse could have given Rotha so keen a sense of her own failings as 
that image of another's beautiful living. What was done could not be 
undone; but the worst was, Rotha was precisely in the mood to do it over 
again; so though sorry she was quite aware that she was not repentant. 

It followed that the promises for which she longed and to which she was 
stretching out her hands, were out of reach. Clean out of reach. Rotha's 
heart was the scene of a struggle that took away all possibility of 
comfort or even of hope. She had no right to hope. "If thy hand offend 
thee, cut it off"--but Rotha was not so minded. The prospect was dark and 
miserable. How could she go on living in her aunt's house? and how could 
she live anywhere else? and how could she bear her loneliness? and how 
could she get to the favour of that one great Friend, whose smile is only 
upon them that are at least trying to do his commandments? It was dark in 
Rotha's soul, and stormy. 

It continued so for days. In the house she was let alone, but so 
thoroughly that it amounted to domestic exile or outlawry. She was let 
alone. Not forbidden to take her place at the family table, or to eat her 
portion of the bread and the soup; but for all social or kindly 
relations, left to starve. Mr. Busby's mouth had been shut somehow; he 
was practically again a man of papers; and the other two hardly looked at 
Rotha or spoke to her. Antoinette and she sometimes went to school 
together and sometimes separate; it was rather more lonely when they went 
together. In school they hardly saw each other. So days went by. 


CHAPTER XV. 


MRS. MOWBRAY. 


"How is that Carpenter girl doing?" Mrs. Mowbray inquired one day of Miss 
Blodgett, as they met in one of the passages. 

"I have been wanting to speak to you about her, madame. She knows all I 
can teach her in that class." 

"Does she! Her aunt told me she had had no advantages. Does she study?" 

"I fancy she has no need to study much where she is. She has been 
further." 

"How does she behave?" 

"Perfectly well. She does not look to me happy." 

"Not happy! Is her cousin kind to her? She is cousin to that pretty 
Busby, you know." 

"I think she hardly speaks to her. Not here, I mean." 

Mrs. Mowbray passed on. But that very afternoon, when school was breaking 
up, Miss Blodgett asked Rotha to wait a few minutes. The girls were all 
gone in a trice; Miss Blodgett herself followed; and Rotha was left 
alone. She waited a little while. Then the door opened and the figure 
which had such a fascination for her appeared. The face looked gentler 
and kinder than she had seen it before; this was not school time. Mrs. 
Mowbray came in and sat down by Rotha, after giving her her hand. 

"Are you quite well, my dear?" was her instant question after the 
greeting. "You are hoarse." 

Rotha said she had caught a little cold. 

"How did you do that?" 

"I think it was sitting in a cold room." 

"Were you obliged to sit in a cold room?" 

Rotha hesitated. "It was pleasanter there," she said with some 
embarrassment. 

"You never should sit in a cold room. What did you want to be in a cold 
room for?" 

Rotha hesitated again. "I wanted to be alone." 

"Studying?" 

"Not my lessons,"--said Rotha doubtfully. 

"Not your lessons? If you and I were a little better acquainted, I should 
ask for a little more confidence. But I will not be unreasonable." 

Rotha glanced again at the sweet face, so kindly now with all its 
penetrating acuteness and habit of authority; so sweet with its smile; 
and confidence sprang forth at the instant, together with the longing for 
help. Did not this look like a friend's face? Where else was she to find 
one? Reserve gave way. 

"I was studying my duty," she said softly. 

"Your duty, my dear? Was the difficulty about knowing it, or about doing 
it?" 

"I think--about doing it." 

"Is it difficult?" 

"Yes," said Rotha from the bottom of her heart. 

Mrs. Mowbray read the troubled brow, the ingenuous mouth, the oppressed 
manner; and her soul went forth in sympathy to her little perplexed human 
sister. But her next words were a departure, and in a different tone. 

"You have never been to school before, your aunt tells me?" 

"No, ma'am," said Rotha, disappointed somehow. 

"Are you getting along pleasantly?" 

"Not very pleasantly," Rotha allowed, after a pause. 

"Does Miss Blodgett give you too hard work to do?" 

"O no, ma'am!" Rotha said with a spark more of spirit. "I have not 
anything to do. I know it all already." 

"You do! Where did you learn it?" 

"Mother used to teach me--and then a friend used to teach me." 

"What, my dear? It is important that I should know." 

"Mother taught me history, and geography, and grammar, and little things. 
Then a gentleman taught me more history, and arithmetic, and algebra, and 
Latin, and natural history--"

"The gentleman was the friend you spoke of?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 

"Do you like to study, Rotha?" 

"O yes, ma'am! when it _is_ study, and I can understand it." 

"I suppose your aunt did not know about all this home study?" 

"She knew nothing about me," said Rotha. 

"Then where has your home been, my dear?" 

"Here,--for two years past. Before that, it was in the country." 

Mrs. Mowbray was silent a bit. 

"My dear, I think the first thing you should do should be, to take care 
of that cold. Will you?" 

"I do not know how, ma'am," said Rotha, for the first time lifting her 
eyes with something like a smile to the lady's face. 

"Does Mrs. Busby know that you have taken cold?" 

"I do not know, ma'am." 

"Will you take some medicine, if I give you some?" 

"If you please, ma'am." 

Mrs. Mowbray sent a servant for a certain box, and proceeded to choose 
out a vial which she gave to Rotha, instructing her how to use it. 

"And then, some time when we know each other better," she went on, 
"perhaps you will tell me about that difficulty of duty, and let me see 
if I can help you." 

"O thank you, ma'am!" was spoken so earnestly that Mrs. Mowbray saw the 
matter must be much on the young girl's heart. 

That same evening did Mrs. Mowbray make a call on Mrs. Busby. 

She came in with her gracious, sweet, dignified manner, which always put 
everybody upon his best behaviour in her presence; as gracious as if she 
had come for the sole pleasure of a talk with Mrs. Busby; as sweet as if 
she had had no other object in coming but to give her and her family 
pleasure. And so she talked. She talked public news and political 
questions with Mr. Busby, with full intelligence, but with admirable 
modesty; she bewitched him out of his silence and dryness into being 
social and conversible; she delighted him with his own unwonted 
performance. With Mrs. Busby she talked Antoinette, for whom she had at 
the same time brought a charming little book, which compliment flattered 
the whole family. She talked Antoinette and Antoinette's interests, but 
not Antoinette alone; with a blessed kind of grace she brought in among 
the other things relations and anecdotes the drift and bearing of which 
was away from vanity and toward soul health; stories which took her 
hearers for the moment at least out of the daily and the trivial and the 
common, into the lofty and the noble and the everlasting. Even Mr. Busby 
forgot his papers and cases and waked up to human interests and social 
gentleness; and even Mrs. Busby let the lines of her lips relax, and her 
eyes glistened with something warmer than a steely reflection. Antoinette 
bloomed with smiles. Rotha was not in the room. 

And not till she was drawing up her fur around her, preparatory to 
departure, did Mrs. Mowbray refer to the fourth member of the family. 
Then she said, 

"How is your niece, Mrs. Busby? Miss Carpenter?" 

"Quite well," Mrs. Busby answered graciously. "I believe she is at her 
books." 

"How does she like going to school?" 

"I am afraid I can hardly say. Netta, how does Rotha enjoy her school 
life?" 

"I don't know," said Antoinette. "She doesn't enjoy anything, I should 
say." 

The tone of neither question nor answer escaped the watchful observation 
of the visiter. 

"I think you said she had had no advantages?" 

"None whatever, I should say; not what we would call advantages. I 
suppose she has learned a few common things." 

"She is an orphan?" 

Mrs. Busby assented. "Lost her mother last summer." 

"I should like to have her more under my own eye than is possible as she 
is now; a mere day scholar. What do you say to letting her become a 
member of my family? Of course," added Mrs. Mowbray graciously, "I should 
not propose to you to charge yourself with any additional burden on her 
account. As she is an orphan, I should make no difference because of 
receiving her into my family. I have a professional ambition to gratify, 
and I like to be able to carry out my plans in every detail. I could do 
better for Antoinette, if you would let me have _her_ altogether; but I 
suppose that is not to be thought of." 

Mrs. Busby wore an air of deliberation. Mr. Busby was understood to 
mutter something about "very handsome." 

"Will you let me have Antoinette?" said the lady smiling. "I think it 
would do her no harm." 

"Antoinette must content herself at home," Antoinette's mother replied. 
"I am accustomed to having her under my own wing." 

"And that is a privilege you would not yield to any one else. I 
understand. Well, what do you say about Miss Carpenter?" 

Mrs. Busby looked at her husband. Long experience enabled him to guess at 
what he was desired to say. 

"My dear--since Mrs. Mowbray is so kind--it would be a great thing for 
Rotha the best thing that could happen to her--" 

Mrs. Busby turned her eyes to her visiter. 

"Since you are so good, Mrs. Mowbray--it is more than I could ask you to 
do--"    

"I shall be very glad to do it. I am nothing if not professional, you 
know," Mrs. Mowbray said rising and drawing her fur together again. "Then 
that is settled."-- And with gracious deference and sweetness of manner 
she took her leave. 

"That's what I call a good riddance!" exclaimed Antoinette when she was 
free to express her opinion. 

"You will find it a happy relief," added Mr. Busby. "And not a little 
saving, too." 

Mrs. Busby was silent. With all the relief and the saving, there was yet 
something in the plan which did not suit her. Nevertheless, the relief, 
and the saving, were undoubted facts; and she held her tongue. 

"Mamma, what are you going to do about Rotha's dresses?" 

"I will see, when she comes to me with a proper apology." 

Of all this nothing was told to Rotha. So she was a little surprised, 
when next morning Mrs. Mowbray came into the schoolroom and desired to 
see her after school. But then Mrs. Mowbray's first words were about her 
cold. 

"My dear, you are very hoarse! You can hardly speak. And you feel 
miserably, I see. I shall sequester you at once. Come with me." 

Wondering but obedient, Rotha followed. What was going to happen now? Up 
stairs, along a ball, up another flight of stairs, past the great 
schoolrooms, now empty, through a small bedroom, through a large one, 
along another passage. At last a door is opened, into what, as Rotha 
enters it, seems to her a domestic paradise. The air deliciously warm and 
sweet, the walls full of engravings or other pictures, tables heaped with 
books, a luxuriously appointed bed and dressing tables, (what to Rotha's 
eyes was enormous luxury)--finally a couch, where she was made to lie 
down and covered over with a brilliant affghan. Rotha was transported 
into the strangest of new worlds. Her new friend arranged the pillow 
under her head, gave her some tasteless medicine; that was a wonderful 
innovation too, for all Rotha's small experience had been of nauseous 
rhubarb and magnesia or stinging salts; and finally commanded her to lie 
still and go to sleep.  

"But aunt Serena--?" Rotha managed to whisper. 

"She has made you over to me. You are going to live in my house for the 
present, where you can carry on your studies better than you could at 
home, and I can attend to you better. Here you have been losing a month, 
because I did not know what you properly required. Are you willing to be 
my child, Rotha?--instead of Mrs. Busby's?--for a time?" 

The flash of joy in Rotha's eyes was so eloquent and so bright, that Mrs. 
Mowbray stooped down and kissed her. 

"I never was Mrs. Busby's child,"--the girl must make so much protest. 

"Well, no matter; you are not her child now. Lie still, and go to sleep 
if you can." 

Could she? Not at once. Is it possible to tell the sort of Elysium in 
which the child was lapped? Softness and warmth and ease and rest, and 
_hiding_, and such beauty and such luxury! Mrs. Mowbray left the room 
presently; and Rotha lay still under her affghan, looking from one to 
another point of delight in the room, wondering at this suddenly entered 
fairyland, comforted inexpressibly by the assurance that she was taken 
out of her aunt's house and presence, happy in the promise of the new 
guardianship into which she had come. What pretty pictures were on the 
walls, all around her, over her head; here was a lady, there a lovely 
little girl; here a landscape; there a large print shewing a horse which 
a smith is just about shoeing, and a little foal standing by. And so her 
eye wandered, from one to another, every one having its peculiar interest 
for Rotha. Then the books. How the books were piled up, on the floor, on 
the dressing-table, on benches, on the mantelpiece; there was a kind of 
overflow and breaking wave of literary riches which seemed to have 
scattered its surplus about this room. And there were trinkets too, and 
pretty useful trifles, and pretty things of use that were not trifles. 
Rotha had always lived in a very plain way; her father's house had shewed 
no far-off indication of this sort of life. Neither had her aunt's house. 
Plenty of means was not wanting there; the house had money enough; what 
it lacked was the life. No love of the beautiful; no habit of elegant 
surroundings; no literary taste that had any tide or flow whatsoever, 
much less overflow. No art, and no associations. Everything here had 
meaning, and indications of life, or associations with it; with mental 
life especially. What exactly it was that charmed her, Rotha could not 
have told; she could not have put all this into words; yet she felt all 
this. The girl had come into a new atmosphere, where for the first time 
her soul seemed to draw free breath. It was, by its affinities, her 
native air. Certainly in the company of Mr. Southwode all this higher 
part of her nature had been fed and fostered, and with him too she was at 
home; but she had seen him only in Mrs. Marble's house or in the lodgings 
at Fort Washington. 

It was long before Rotha could sleep. She waked as the day was declining 
and the room growing dusky. A maid came in and lit the fire, which 
presently sparkled and snapped and sent forth jets of flame which lit up 
the room with a red illumination. Rotha recognized, she thought, the sort 
of coal which Mr. Digby had sent in for her mother, and hailed the sight; 
but she was mistaken, a little; it was kennal coal, not Liverpool. It 
snapped and shone, and the light danced over pictures and books and 
curtains; and Rotha wondered what would come next. 

What came next was Miss Blodgett, followed by the maid bearing a tray. 
The tray was placed on a stand by the couch, and Rotha was informed that 
this was her dinner. Mrs. Mowbray wished her to keep quite quiet and live 
very simply until this cold was broken up. Rotha raised herself on her 
couch and looked in astonishment at what was before her. A hot mutton 
chop, a roll, a cup of tea, and some mashed potatoe. A napkin was spread 
over the tray; and there was a little silver salt cellar, and a glass of 
water, and a plate of rice pudding. Ah, surely Rotha was in fairyland; 
and never was there so beneficent and so magnificent a fairy in human 
shape. Miss Blodgett saw her arranged to her mind, and left her to take 
her dinner in peace and at leisure; which Rotha did, almost ready to cry 
for sheer pleasure. When had dinner been so good to her? Everything was 
so hot and so nice and so prettily served. Rotha lay down again feeling 
half cured already. 

However, such well-grounded colds as she had taken are not disposed of in 
a minute; and Rotha's kept her shut up for yet several days more. Wonders 
went on multiplying; for a little cot bed was brought into the room, 
(which Rotha found was Mrs. Mowbray's own) and made up there for her 
occupancy; and there actually she slept those nights. And Mrs. Mowbray 
nursed her; gave her medicine, by night and by day; sent her dainty 
meals, and allowed her to amuse herself with anything she could find. 
Rotha found a book suited to her pleasure, and had a luxurious time of 
it. Towards the end of the second day, Mrs. Mowbray came into the room; a 
little while before dinner. 

"How do you do?" she said, standing and surveying her patient. 

"Very well, ma'am; almost quite well." 

"You will be glad to be let out of prison?" 

"It is a very pleasant prison." 

"I do not think any prison is pleasant. What book have you got there? 
Mrs. Sherwood. Do you like it?" 

"O _very_ much, ma'am!" 

"My dear, your aunt has sent your trunk, at my request; and Miss Blodgett 
has unpacked it to get at the things you were wanting. But there is only 
one warm dress in it. Is that your whole ward robe?" 

"What dress is that? what sort, I mean?" 

"Grey merino, I believe." 

"It is not mine," said Rotha flushing. "It is Antoinette's. They tried it 
on, but it did not fit me. I told aunt Serena I would rather wear my own 
old one." 

"That is the one you are wearing now?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 

"My dear, is that your whole supply for the winter?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 

"I observe you have a nice supply of under wear." 

"Yes, ma'am. That was got for me by somebody else; not my aunt." 

"Have you other relations then, besides Mrs. Busby?" 

"No, ma'am. But I have a friend." 

"May I know more, since you have begun to confide in me? Who is this 
friend?" 

"It is the friend mother trusted me to, when she--when she--" 

"Yes, I understand," said Mrs. Mowbray gently. "Why does not this friend 
take care of you then, instead of leaving you to your aunt?" 

"O he does take care of me," cried Rotha; "but he is in England; he is 
not here. He had to go home because his father was very ill--dying, I 
suppose." 

"_He?_" repeated Mrs. Mowbray. "A gentleman?" 

"Yes, ma'am. He was the only friend that took care of mother. He got 
those things for me." 

"What is his name, my dear?" 

"Mr. Digby. I mean, Mr. Southwode. I always used to call him Mr. Digby." 

"Digby Southwode!" said Mrs. Mowbray. "But he is a _young_ gentleman." 

"O yes," said Rotha. "He is not old. He was called away, back to England 
suddenly, and aunt Serena hindered my knowing, and hindered him somehow 
from seeing me at all to say a word to me before he went. And I never can 
forgive her for it,--never, never!" 

"Hush, my dear," said Mrs. Mowbray softly. "Your aunt may have thought 
she had good reasons. How came you under your aunt's care then?" 

"Mr. Digby took me to her," said Rotha, her eyes filling, while they 
sparkled at the same time. "He said it was best for me to be there, under 
her care, as he had no home where he could take me. But if he had known, 
he never would have left me with her. I know he would not. He would have 
taken care of me some other way." 

"What has Mr. Southwode done for you, that you should have such trust in 
him?" 

But Rotha somehow did not want to go into this subject in detail. 

"He did everything for us that a friend could do; he taught me, and he 
took care of mother; and mother left me in his charge." 

"Where was Mrs. Busby?" 

"Just where she is now. She did not know we were here." 

"Why was that?" 

Rotha hesitated. "Mother did not like to tell her," she said, somewhat 
obscurely. 

"And she left you in this gentleman's care." 

"Yes." 

"And he put you under your aunt's care." 

"Yes, for the present. But I was to tell him if anything went wrong; and 
I have never been able to speak a word to him since. Nor to write, 
because he had not given me his address." 

"Mr. Southwode is an Englishman. It is probable, if his father is dead, 
that he will make his home in England for the future." 

Rotha was silent. She thought Mr. Digby would not forget her, or fail in 
his promises; but she kept her views to herself. 

"He did very properly in committing you to your aunt's care; and now I am 
very glad I have got you," Mrs. Mowbray went on cheerily. "Now we will 
try and get all those questions straightened out, that were troubling 
you. What was it? a question of duty, you said, didn't you?" 

Mrs. Mowbray was arranging her heterogeneous masses of books in something 
like external order; she put a little volume into Rotha's hand as she 
said the last words. It was a very small New Testament; very small, yet 
in the clear English printing which made it delightfully legible. "That 
is the best thing to solve questions of duty with," she went on. "Keep 
it, my dear." 

"O thank you, ma'am!" cried Rotha, a bright colour of pleasure rushing 
into her cheeks. "O thank you, ma'am! How beautiful! and how nice! But 
here is where I found my question," she added sorrowfully. 

"I dare say. It is the old story--'When the commandment came, sin 
revived, and I died.' What was the point this time?" 

"Just that point I spoke of, about aunt Serena. I do not forgive her; and 
in the fifth chapter of Matthew,--here it is: 'If thou bring thy gift to 
the altar--'" 

"I know," Mrs. Mowbray broke in, very busy seemingly with her books and 
not looking at Rotha. "Why cannot you forgive her?" 

"Because I am so wrong, I suppose," Rotha answered humbly. 

"Yes, but what has she done?" 

"I told you, ma'am. She kept me from seeing Mr. Southwode before he went 
away. She never even told me he had been at the house, nor that he was 
gone. I found it out. She meant I should not see him." 

"My dear," said Mrs. Mowbray, "that does not seem to me a very heinous 
offence." 

"It was the very worst thing she could do; the cruelest, and the worst." 

"She might have thought she had good reasons." 

"She did not think that. She knew better. I think she wanted me all in 
her power." 

"Never think evil of people, if it is possible to think good," Mrs. 
Mowbray continued. "Always find a pleasant reason for the things people 
do, if it is possible to find one. It is quite as likely to be true, and 
it leaves you a great deal more comfortable." 

"You cannot always do that," said Rotha. 

"And this is one of the times? Well, what are you going to do about it? 
Can't you forgive your aunt, even if you think the worst?" 

"It would be very easy to forgive her, if I could think differently," 
said Rotha. 

"It occurs to me--Those words you began to quote,--they run, I think, 'If 
thy brother hath ought _against_ thee.' Is that the case here?" 

"Yes, ma'am, because I charged her with what she had done; and she did 
not excuse herself; and I thought I had a right to be angry--very angry; 
but when I came to those words in my reading, I remembered that though I 
had so much against her, she had a little against me; because I had not 
spoken just right. And then I knew I ought to confess it and make an 
apology; and I was so angry I could not." 

"And do you feel so now?" Mrs. Mowbray asked after a slight pause. 

"Just the same." 

"Do you think you are a Christian, Rotha?" 

"No, ma'am. I know--a Christian does His commandments," the girl answered 
low. 

"Do you want to be a Christian?" 

"Yes, ma'am, if I could; but how can I?" 

"You cannot, while your will goes against God's will." 

"Can I help my will?" said Rotha, bringing up her old question. 

"There is the dinner-bell," said Mrs. Mowbray. "If I can get a little 
time this evening, I will try to shew you the answer to your question. I 
must go now, my dear. Read your New Testament." 

Rotha curled herself up on her couch, and by the light of the kennal coal 
did read her Testament; full of delight that it was hers, and full of 
comfort in the hope that after all there would be a way for her out of 
her difficulties. 

Then came her dinner. Such a nice dinner it was; and served with a 
delicacy and order which charmed Rotha. She eat it alone, but missing 
nothing; having a sense of shelter and hiding from all roughnesses of 
people and things, that was infinitely soothing. She eat her dinner, and 
hoped for Mrs. Mowbray's return. Waiting however in vain. Mrs. Mowbray 
came not. The room was bright; the fire burned; the cheerful shine was 
upon everything; Rotha was full of comfort in things external; if she 
only could settle and quiet this question in her heart. Yes, this 
question was everything. Were she but a child of God, secure and 
established,--yes, not that only, but pure and good,--like Mr. Digby; 
then, all would be right. Then she would be happy. With that question 
unsettled, Rotha did not feel that even Mrs. Mowbray could make her so. 

Late in the evening Mrs. Mowbray came. Her arms were full of packages. 

"I could not get free before," she said, as she shut the door behind her. 
"I had an errand--and then company kept me. Well, my dear! have you had a 
pleasant evening, all alone?" 

"I like to be alone sometimes," Rotha replied a little evasively. 

"Do you! Now I like company; unless I have something to do. Perhaps that 
was your case, eh?" 

"Yes, ma'am, it was." 

"And did you accomplish it?--what you had to do." 

"No, ma'am." 

"You must take me into your counsels. See here--how do you like that?" 

She had drawn up a chair to the side of Rotha's couch, and opening one of 
the packages on her lap, transferred it to Rotha's. It was the fashion 
then for young people to wear woollen stuffs of bright plaid patterns; 
and this was a piece of chocolate and black with a thread of gold colour; 
soft and beautiful and rich tinted. "How do you like that?" Mrs. Mowbray 
repeated; and Rotha answered that she thought it very beautiful. 

"Don't you think that would make you a nice school dress? and here--how 
would this do for company days?" 

As she spoke, she laid upon the chocolate plaid another package, 
containing a dark brown poplin, heavy and lustrous. Poor Rotha looked up 
bewildered to the lady's face, which was beaming and triumphant. 

"Like it?" she said gleefully. "I couldn't tell your taste, you know. I 
had to go by my own Don't you think that would become you?" 

"_Me?_" said Rotha. 

"Yes. You see, we cannot wait for your aunt's slow motions, and you must 
be clothed. Do you like it, my dear?" 

"I like it _very_ much--of course--they are most beautiful; but--will  
aunt Serena give you the money, Mrs. Mowbray?" 

"I shall not ask her," said Mrs. Mowbray laughing. "You need not say 
anything about it, to her or anybody else. It is our affair. Now here is 
a warm skirt, my dear; I want to keep you warm while you are in my house, 
and you are not sufficiently armed against the cold weather. I don't want 
to have you catching any more colds. You see, this is for my interest. 
Now with that you will be as warm as a toast." 

It was a beautiful petticoat of scarlet cloth; soft and thick. Rotha 
looked at the pile of things lying on her lap, and was absolutely dumb. 
Mrs. Mowbray bent forward and kissed her cheek. 

"I think you will be well enough to go out by Saturday--and I will let 
Miss Jewett go with you to a dress-maker and have these things made up at 
once. Is there any particular dress-maker who is accustomed to work for 
you?" 

"No," Rotha said first, and then immediately added--"Yes! I forgot; the 
one who made my summer dresses, that I had in the summer." _That Mr. 
Southwode got for me_, she had been about to say; but she checked herself. 
Some fine instinct made her perceive that the mention of that gentleman's 
name was not received with absolute favour. She thought Mrs. Mowbray did 
not approve of Mr. Southwode. 

"And now, my dear," said that lady, as she swept away the packages of 
goods from Rotha's lap, "what about your question of conscience?" 

"It remains a question, ma'am." 

"Not settled yet? What makes the difficulty?" 

"I told you, ma'am. I did not speak quite as I ought to my aunt, one or 
two times, and so--she has something against me; and I cannot pray." 

"Cannot pray, my dear! that is dreadful. I should die if I could not 
pray. The Bible says, pray always." 

"But it says, here, 'if thy brother hath ought against thee, leave there 
thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy 
brother, and then come and offer thy gift.'" 

"Let me see that place," said Mrs. Mowbray. She sat down beside Rotha and 
took the little Testament out of her hand, and considered the passage. 

"Well, my dear," she said at last,--"and so you think these words forbid 
you to pray?" 

"Do they not?" said Rotha, "until I could reconcile myself to aunt 
Serena? or at least try." 

"What is the matter between you and your aunt?" 

"I do not know. I cannot tell what makes her do so." 

"Do what?" 

"Hide me from the only friend I have got." 

"You mean that gentleman? My dear, she may have had very good reasons for 
that?" 

"She could not have good reasons for it," said Rotha flushing. 

"My dear, old people often see things that young people do not see, and 
cannot judge of." 

"You do not know Mr. Southwode, ma'am. Anyhow, I do not feel as if I 
could ever forgive her." 

"That makes it difficult for you to go and ask her pardon, hey?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 

"What are you going to do?" 

"I do not know," said Rotha sadly. 

"It is too late for us to talk longer to-night. I will shew you a Bible 
to-morrow--stop, there is no time like the present--" 

Mrs. Mowbray rose and went to a table from which she brought a little 
volume. "This will do better," she said. "I have a Bible in which all 
this, in this book, is arranged in reference columns; but this is more 
convenient. You can use this with your own Bible, or any Bible. I am 
going to give you this, my dear." And she fetched a pen as she spoke and 
entered Rotha's name on the title page, with the date of day and month 
and year. Then she went on--"Now see, Rotha; here is what will give light 
on your question. Here are references from every verse in the Bible to 
other parts and other verses which explain or illustrate it. Find your 
place,--what is it?--Mat. v. 24, is it?--here; now see, here are 
references to other passages, and from them you will find references to 
still others. Take this to-morrow and study it out, and pray, my dear. 
You cannot get along without praying." 


CHAPTER XVI. 


SCHOOL. 


Rotha received the book with an access of pleasure, which expressed 
itself however mainly in sparkling eyes and the red tinge of excitement 
in her cheeks. She did say some words of thanks, but they were not 
fluent, as customary with her when any great degree of delight was 
pressing for utterance. Then speech was poor. Mrs. Mowbray did not miss 
it; she could read the signs, and was satisfied. But long after she was 
asleep, Rotha lay on her cot with eyes wide open, staring at the remains 
of the fire. What had come to her? what strange, enchantment-like, 
fabulous, change of circumstances? and this dispenser and contriver of 
happiness, slumbering peacefully on the bed yonder, what was she but a 
very fairy of blessing, bringing order out of disorder and comfort out of 
the very depths of confusion. A home, and a friend, and nice dresses, and 
study, and books! Two books to-day! Rotha was too happy to sleep. 

The next day she began school duties again; but Mrs. Mowbray would not 
have her join the family at meals, until, as she said, she had something 
comfortable to wear. Rotha was thankful for the kind thoughtfulness that 
spared her feelings; and in return bent herself to her appointed tasks 
with an energy which soon disposed of them. However, they took all her 
time, for Mrs. Mowbray had introduced her to another part of the school 
and a much more advanced class of the pupils. This of itself gave her new 
spirit. The following day Mrs. Mowbray, as she had promised, sent her 
with one of the under teachers to have her dresses cut out. They went in 
a carriage, and drove to Mrs. Marble's. Mrs. Marble wore a doubtful 
countenance. 

"Well, it _is_ time you had something warmer, if you've got nothing more 
made since those lawns. Where's Mr. Digby?" 

"In England." 

"England! Don't say! And who's taking care of you?" 

"Miss Carpenter is in Mrs. Mowbray's family," said Miss Jewett stiffly. 

"Mrs. Mowbray, hey? what, the great school? You _are_ in luck, Rotha. Did 
Mr. Digby put you there?" 

"He did not choose the school," said Rotha. "I went to the same place 
where my cousin went. Mrs. Marble, that's too tight." 

"It'll look a great deal handsomer, Rotha. Slim waists are what all the 
ladies want." 

"I can't be pinched," said Rotha, lifting and lowering her shoulders in 
the exultation of free play. "I would rather be comfortable." 

"It does look better, to be snug, Miss Carpenter," said Miss Jewett, 
taking the mantua-maker's part. 

"I don't care," said Rotha. "I must have room to breathe. Make it loose 
enough, Mrs. Marble, or it will just come back to you to be altered." 

"You're as masterful as you just was, and as I always thought you would 
be," said the mantua-maker. "I suppose you think times is changed." 

"They are very much changed, Mrs. Marble," said Rotha calmly. "But I 
always had my dresses loose." 

"And everything else about you!--" muttered the dress-maker. However, she 
was never an ill-natured woman, and took her orders with tolerable 
equanimity. 

"You are the first young lady I ever saw trying on dresses, who did not 
want them to fit nicely," Miss Jewett remarked as they were driving away. 

"But I could not _breathe!_" said Rotha. "I like to be comfortable." 

"Different people have different notions of comfort," was the comment, 
not admiring. But Rotha did not give the matter another thought. 

The next day was Sunday. "You will not go to church, dear," Mrs. Mowbray 
had whispered. "I shall not ask you till you have something to keep you 
warm. Have you a thick outer coat?" 

Rotha explained. Her aunt had been about to get her one two or three 
weeks ago; then they had had their falling out, and since then she had 
heard no more on the subject. 

"We will get things in order by next Sunday. You can study at home to-
day, and maybe that will be the best thing for you." 

It was the most welcome order Rotha could have received. She went up to 
Mrs. Mowbray's room, which she still inhabited, and took Bible and New 
Testament and her newly acquired possession, which she found bore title, 
"The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge," and sat down on the couch. It was 
all so comfortable around her that Rotha paused to look and think and 
enjoy. Hid away, she felt; safe and secure from all disturbances; her 
aunt could not worry her, Antoinette could not even look at her; nobody 
could interfere with her; and the good fairy of her life would come in 
only to help and shelter her. The warm air; poor Rotha had been 
inhabiting a region of frost, it must be remembered, material as well as 
spiritual; the slight sweet perfume that pervaded the room and came, 
Rotha knew not from what; the pretty, cosy look of the place, furniture, 
fire, pictures and all;--Rotha sat looking and feeling in a maze of 
astonishment. That all this should be, geographically, so near Mrs. 
Busby's house! With a breath of admiring delight, at last Rotha turned to 
her books. Yes, if she could get that question settled-- 

She opened her "Treasury of Scripture Knowledge" and found the fifth 
chapter of Matthew; then the 24th verse. The first reference here was to 
Mat. xviii. 15-17. 

That does not tell me anything, thought Rotha. I cannot go to aunt Serena 
and tell her her fault; it would be no use; and besides, that is what I 
have done already, only not so, I suppose.--Then followed a passage from 
Job and one from Proverbs, which did not, she thought, meet her case. 
Then in Mark ix. 50 she found the command to "have peace one with 
another." But what if I cannot? thought Rotha. Next, in Romans, the word 
was "Recompense to no man evil for evil"; and, "If it be possible, as 
much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." This at first caused 
some exultation, which evaporated upon further reflection. Had it not 
been possible? If she had been patient, forgiving, sweet; if she had 
spoken and looked accordingly; would there not have been peace? Her aunt 
at least would have had nothing against her. Her own cause of grievance 
would have remained; might she not have forgiven that? A resolute 
negative answered this gentle suggestion of conscience; like Jonah in the 
case of his gourd, Rotha said to herself she did well to be angry. At 
least that Mrs. Busby deserved it; for conscience would not allow the 
conclusion that she had done "well," at all. It was not as Mr. Digby 
would have done. He was Rotha's living commentary on the word. She went 
on. The next passage forbade going to law before unbelievers. Then came a 
word or two from the first epistle of Timothy; an injunction to "pray 
everywhere, lifting up holy hands, _without wrath_--" 

Rotha got no further. That arrow struck home. She must not pray with 
anger in her heart. Then she must forgive, unconditionally; for it would 
never do to intermit all praying until somebody else should come to a 
right, mind. Give up her anger! It made Rotha's blood boil to think of 
it. How could she, with her blood boiling? And till she _did_--she might 
not think to pray and be heard. 

O why is it so hard to be a Christian! why is it made so difficult! 

Then Rotha's conscience whispered that the difficulty was of her own 
making; if _she_ were all right, that would be all easy. She would go on, 
she thought, with her comparison of Bible passages; perhaps she would 
come to something that would help. The next passage referred to was in 
James. 

"But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not...
This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 
For where envying and strife are, there is confusion and every evil 
work." 

"Devilish"! well, I suppose it is, Rotha confessed to herself. "Envying"
--I am not envying; but "strife"--aunt Serena and I have that between us. 
And so "there is confusion and every evil work." I suppose there is. But 
how am I to help it? I cannot stop my anger.--She went on to the next 
reference. It was, 

"Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye 
may be healed." 

The Bible was all against her. Tears began to well up into Rotha's eyes. 
She thought she would see what the words were about forgiving. Her eye 
had caught the Lord's prayer on the next leaf. She turned to that place 
in her reference book. And here, first of all, the words of the prayer 
itself struck her, and then the 14th and 15th verses below. It was a dead 
lock! If she could not forgive, she could not be forgiven; sharp and 
clear the sentence ran; there was no mistaking it, there could be no 
glossing it over. Rotha's tears silently rose and fell, hot and 
sorrowful. She did want to be forgiven; but to forgive, no. With tears 
dripping before her Bible, she would not let them fall on it, she studied 
a passage referred to, in the 18th of Matthew, where Peter was directed 
to set no bounds to his overlooking of injuries, and the parable of the 
unmerciful servant is brought up. Rotha studied that chapter long. The 
right and the truth she saw clearly; but as soon as she thought of 
applying them to her aunt Busby, her soul rose up in arms. She has done 
me the cruelest and the meanest of wrongs, said the girl to herself; 
cruel beyond all telling; what she deserves is to be well shaken by the 
shoulders. Go to her and say that _I_ have done wrong to _her_ and ask 
her to forgive _me_, and so help her to forget her own doings--I cannot.-
-Rotha made a common mistake, the sophistry of passion, which is the same 
thing as the devil's sophistry. Her confessing and doing right, would 
have been the very likeliest way to make Mrs. Busby ashamed of herself. 

However, Rotha went on with her study. Two passages struck her 
particularly, in Ephesians and Colossians. The first--"Be ye kind one to 
another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's 
sake hath forgiven you." The other to the same purport, in Col. iii. 13. 

But he has not forgiven me, cried Rotha in her heart, while the tears 
poured; he will not forgive me, unless I forgive her.--"But he is ready 
to forgive you," the very words before her proclaimed. It was a dead 
lock, nevertheless; and when Mrs. Mowbray came home from church she found, 
to her surprise, Rotha still bending over her Bible with her tears 
dripping on the floor. Mrs. Mowbray took off her hat and cloak before 
she said a word. Then coming to Rotha's side on the couch, she put one 
arm round her. 

"My dear," she said gently, "what is the matter?" 

The tone and the touch were so sympathizing, so tender, that Rotha 
answered by an affectionate, clinging gesture, taking care at the same 
time that none of her tears fell on Mrs. Mowbray's rich silk. For a 
little space she made no other answer. When she spoke, it was with a 
passionate accent. 

"Madame, if I am ever to be a Christian, I must be made all over new!" 

"That is nothing uncommon," the lady replied. 

"It is every one's case. So the Bible says; 'If any man be in Christ, he 
is a new creature.'" 

"But how am I to get made over all new?" Rotha cried. 

"That is the Holy Spirit's work. 'Except a man be born again, he cannot 
see the kingdom of God.'" 

"Then must I ask for him?" 

"Certainly." 

"But if I do not forgive aunt Serena, it is no use for me to pray?" 

"Nay, Rotha, if that were true we should be in a bad case indeed. If you 
read the fifteenth chapter of Luke, you will find that when the prodigal 
son was returning, his father saw him _while he was yet a great way off;_ 
and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. If you are truly setting 
yourself to seek God, you will find him; and if you are in earnest in 
wishing to do his will, he will enable you to do it. You must always ask, 
my dear. The Bible says, 'the Lord over all is rich unto all--' not, that 
are perfect, but--'that call upon him.'" 

"But it says, 'if ye do not forgive, neither will your heavenly Father 
forgive you.'" 

"True; but he will give you that new nature you say you must have; and 
then forgiving will be easy." 

Rotha looked up, partly comforted. And from that time she prayed for a 
new nature. 

A few days more saw her school dress finished and at home. It looked 
magnificent to Rotha; far too good for a school dress. But Mrs. Mowbray 
said no; she must look nice in school as well as anywhere; and that very 
evening she brought to Rotha a box full of neat collars and cuffs and 
ruffles; some of plain linen and some of lighter and prettier 
manufacture. The supply was most abundant; and with these things were 
some ribbands of various colours and little silk neck ties. Rotha 
received them in the same mute way of speechless gratitude and delight; 
and resolved one thing; that Mrs. Mowbray should have nothing to complain 
of in her, whether regarding school duties or anything else. 

Another thing Mrs. Mowbray did for Rotha that week. Calling Antoinette 
Busby to her, at the close of a lesson, she said, "My dear, among the 
things sent round from your house for your cousin's use, there is no coat 
or cloak for cold weather wear. Will you tell your mother, Rotha's coat 
has not been brought with the rest of her things? Thank you. That is all, 
my dear." 

Antoinette went home in a good deal of a fluster, and told her mother. 
Mrs. Busby looked impenetrable. 

"Now mamma, what are you going to do about it?" 

"What did you say?" 

"I said nothing. What could I say?" 

"Did you see Rotha?" 

"No; she is up stairs, getting nursed for her cold." 

"Stuff!" 

"Well, she had a cold, mamma. Mrs. Mowbray always finds out if the girls 
are shamming. She is sharp enough." 

"Rotha is no more ill than I am." 

"Mrs. Mowbray always sends a girl off to her room if she is out of sorts, 
and coddles her up with pills and tea. She don't do it unless she sees 
reason." 

"Why didn't you ask to see Rotha? It would have looked better." 

"I never thought of it," said Antoinette laughing. "Because, really, I 
didn't want to see her. I should rather think I didn't!" 

"You had better ask to-morrow." 

"Very well. And what shall I say about the coat?" 

"I suppose I shall have to get her one," Mrs. Busby said grimly. 

"Then she will want a hat, mamma." 

"I'll send your grey plush." 

"She won't wear it." 

"Mrs. Mowbray will make her. _She_ won't hear nonsense." 

"Who does, mamma? Not you, I am sure." 

Having to do the thing, Mrs. Busby did it well, for her own sake. She 
would have let Rotha stay within doors all winter; but if she must get 
her a cloak, it should never be said she got her a poor one. Accordingly, 
the next day two boxes were sent round to Mrs. Mowbray's; one containing 
the rejected hat, the other a warm and handsome cloak, which Mrs. Busby 
got cheap because it was one of the last year's goods, of a fashion a 
little obsolete. Antoinette asked leave to see Rotha, that same day, and 
was refused. Mrs. Mowbray wished her to be left quite to herself. So the 
next time the cousins met was in class, a day or two later. It was a 
class to which Mrs. Mowbray herself gave a lesson; it was a class of the 
more advanced scholars; and Antoinette, who had left her cousin in a 
lower department, among Miss Blodgett's pupils, was exceedingly 
astonished to see Rotha come in among the young ladies of the family and 
take her seat in the privileged library where these lessons were given. 
Yet more was Antoinette astonished at her cousin's transformation. Rotha 
was dressed well, in the abovementioned chocolate plaid; her linen collar 
and cuffs were white and pretty like other people's; the dress was well 
made; Rotha's abundant dark hair, now growing long, was knotted up 
loosely at the back of her head, her collar was tied with a little cherry 
coloured bow; and her whole figure was striking and charming. Antoinette, 
who was an acknowledged beauty, felt a pang of displeasure. In fact she 
was so much disturbed and annoyed that her mind was quite distracted from 
the business in hand; she paid little attention to the lesson and rather 
got into disgrace. Rotha on the contrary, entering the class and enjoying 
the teaching for the first time, was full of delighted interest; forgot 
even her new dress and herself altogether; took acute, intelligent part 
in the discussion that went on, (the 'subject being historical) and at 
one bound unconsciously placed herself at the head of the class. There 
was no formal taking rank, but the judgment of all present involuntarily 
gave her the place. And Mrs. Mowbray herself had some difficulty not to 
look too often towards the face that always met hers with such sympathy 
and life in every feature. Many there indeed were interested; yet no eyes 
shewed such intelligent fire, no lips were so expressive in their play, 
no interest was so evidently unalloyed with any thought of self-
consciousness. 

As the girls scattered, after the hour was over, the cousins met. 

"Well!" said Antoinette, "what's come over you?" 

The tone was not pleasant. Rotha asked her distantly what she meant? 

"Why I left you one thing, and I find you another," said Antoinette. "How 
did you get here?" 

"Mrs. Mowbray desired it. I came to school to study, Antoinette. Why 
should I not be here?" 

"But how _could_ you be here? These are the upper girls." 

Rotha laughed a little. She felt very gay-hearted. 

"And where did you get this?" Antoinette went on, feeling of a fold of 
Rotha's dress. "What beautiful cashmere! Where did you get it?" 

"There came a good fairy to my room one night, and astonished me." 

"A fairy!" said Antoinette. 

"Yes, the days of fairies are not over. I thought they were, but I was 
mistaken," said Rotha joyously. "I do not think there is anything much 
pleasanter, than to have a good fairy come and visit you." 

"What do you mean?" 

"Just that. Good bye--the girls are going out to walk, and I must get 
ready to go along." 

She tripped up the stairs, leaving Antoinette mystified and crestfallen. 
Under pretence of collecting her books, she lingered in one of the class 
rooms in the lower story, waiting to see the girls pass out, which they 
always did, she knew, by the lower door. They came presently in long 
file. The families that sent their daughters to Mrs. Mowbray's were 
generally of the wealthier portions of society; and it was a well dressed 
set that defiled before Antoinette's eyes; too well, for many of them 
were unbecomingly fine. Antoinette did not recognize her cousin until she 
was quite out upon the street and turned her face casually to speak to 
some one behind her. The new cloak, of dark green stun 7, was as handsome 
as Antoinette's own; and there was no old grey plush hat above it. No 
such matter; a neat little green hat, perfectly simple, but new and well 
made and well fitting, shaded a face full of merry sparkle, totally 
unlike the depressed, cloudy expression Antoinette had been used to 
despise at home. She told her mother with an injured air what she had 
seen. Mrs. Busby said nothing. It was vexatious; at the same time she 
reflected that the credit of all this would redound to herself   Nobody 
but Mrs. Mowbray and Rotha herself knew whence came the dresses and 
bonnet, and they would not tell, naturally. On the whole the gain was as 
great as the loss. 

But to Rotha now-a-days it was all gain. That walk with the girls; how 
pleasant it was, to go with free step, conscious that there was nothing 
in her appearance to draw remark or provoke pity. At Rotha's age, perhaps 
as much as ever, such an immunity is prized and enjoyed. It was such a 
walk as till then she had never taken in the streets of New York; for 
even when, two or three years ago, she had gone with her mother, it was 
with a feeling of being classed with the multitude of the poor and 
struggling and ill-dressed. So the walking had been mainly in streets 
where such classes were lodged and at home. Now Rotha went where the 
buildings were fine and the ways broad, and where the passers-by were gay 
and splendid. Her breath came freer, her step grew more elastic, the 
colour rose in her cheeks; and when the little procession returned home, 
Miss Parsons, who had been in charge of it, remarked to Mrs. Mowbray that 
she had no idea before what a very handsome girl Miss Carpenter was. And 
Mrs. Mowbray, when they all gathered to dinner, cast a keen glance at the 
new member of the company. She was reassured; not a particle of self-
consciousness was to be traced in the fine, bright, spirited lace, though 
the beauty was unquestioned. 

That was the first time Rotha had met the family at table. It was a new 
and highly interesting experience for her. The table was very long; and 
the mere sight of so many fresh young faces together was inspiriting of 
itself; of greatest interest to Rotha because these were her companions, 
fellow pupils, sharers in work and play together. But apart from its 
living surroundings, the board excited Rotha's keenest attention. The 
delicacy and order of its arrangements, the beauty of its appointments, 
the abundance of the supply, the excellence of the material. Everything 
there was of the best; everything was well cooked and appetizing; it was 
a simple table, as it should be, but no provision for health or comfort 
was wanting. Rotha felt herself at home in surroundings that suited her. 

Then it was a lively meal; not a bit of stagnation. At Mrs. Busby's the 
talk at table was about nothing to stir the slightest interest, to any 
one whose soul was not in a condition to be fed with the very dryest of 
social husks; the only exceptions being when Mr. and Mrs. Busby got into 
a debate. A debate always has some elements of interest, if there is any 
wit on either side of it. Here, the first thing, after the carving was 
well begun, was the reciting of French anecdotes or sayings or 
quotations, by each of the scholars in turn; the exercise being 
superintended by the French teacher, a very imposing person in Rotha's 
eyes, to whom she had just that day been introduced. It was very amusing 
to her to hear the differing accent, the varying voices, and to watch the 
different air and manner of the girls, as Mme. Bonton's voice, uttering 
"Suivante"--"Suivante"--called them up one after another. She herself, of 
course, had no little speech prepared. Then the conversation became 
general, as the business of dining went on its way, and Mrs. Mowbray made 
part of it very interesting. Altogether, it was a time of delight to 
Rotha. 

Not less so were the hours of study that followed. It was one of her good 
properties, that she could easily concentrate all her attention on the 
one thing she happened to have in hand. So study was study to her; deep, 
absorbing, conquering, and of course triumphing. And when the bell 
summoned the family to tea, she came fresh for new pleasure to assemble 
with the rest. 

The parlours were cleared of the long table now; only enough of it being 
left to accommodate the younger scholars who might not be trusted to hold 
a cup of tea safely. The girls brought their various pieces of fancy 
work; the rooms were well lighted, well furnished, the walls hung with 
engravings and paintings, the mantelpieces full of pretty things; it was 
not like a school, but like a large, elegant family gathering. Here the 
tea was handed round, with rolls and excellent cake and biscuits. Mrs. 
Mowbray presently called Rotha to her side, by the big table; and held a 
little quiet talk with her about the course of the day, introducing her 
at the same time to several of her schoolmates. I can never tell how the 
girl's whole nature opened and expanded, like a suddenly blossoming rose, 
under the genial, kindly atmosphere and culture into which she now came. 

Study? She studied with a consuming kind of intensity. Not a teacher that 
she had to do with, but took delight in her. She gave them absolutely no 
trouble. She was not a timid girl; so was not, like some, hindered by 
nervousness from making a fair presentation of herself. Her mind was 
opening, greedy for the food it got, and taking it in rapidly. 

And happy? There was not seemingly a happier girl in the house. Crowding 
new interests had driven into the background, for the time, the demands 
of conscience; and Rotha was one of those people whose cup of life is a 
large one; capacities of heart and intellect alike wide in their 
possibilities, but if satisfied, making existence very rich. She was 
quiet enough in manner, never forgetting her beloved model; yet eye and 
lip and varying colour, and the involuntary movement of head and hand, 
and foot too, testified to the glad growing life of her soul. Mrs. 
Mowbray saw it with perpetual satisfaction; it got to be a habit with her 
that her eye sought and rested on that one unmistakeably honest and loyal 
member of her family. And Rotha's eye never met hers but there came a 
sparkle and a look of love into the young face. 

All day was a delight now to the girl; beginning with the morning 
prayers, which to be sure she loved mostly because she heard Mrs. 
Mowbray's voice in them. Then came breakfast; bright and cheery, with the 
hope and the work of the day in prospect, and a lively, pretty, pleasant 
table and company in possession. It was not like school; it was a large 
family; where all arrangements and supplies were as in the best appointed 
private house, and the only rules that reigned were the rules of good 
manners. Then came the brisk walk in the bracing morning air; and then, 
study. Some lesson hours were particularly interesting to Rotha. Latin 
she did not like, but French she took to kindly; and Madame Bonton told 
madame with a satisfied nod of her head, that Miss Carpenter was "not a 
soap bubble",--high praise, which only a few of the girls ever attained. 

Among her schoolmates Rotha made no particular friends. Some of them 
asked captiously who she was? others remarked critically that she thought 
herself too good looking; others declared enviously that she was a 
"favourite." Rotha did not take to any of them; made no confident of any 
of them; and was felt by most of them to be somehow uncongenial. Those 
who saw most of her felt this most decidedly. She presently was out of 
favour with all her roommates. 

It was a rule of the house that lights should be all out at ten o'clock. 
Then one of the under teachers made a progress through the rooms to see 
that this was done and everybody in bed. Rotha made one of four girls who 
occupied a large room on the third floor. Each young lady had her own 
bed, her own press and drawers, and everything comfort called for; of 
course absolute privacy could not be given. When Rotha had been in her 
new quarters two or three weeks, there came a collision between her and 
her fellows in that room. One night Miss Jewett had been round as usual 
and turned off the gas. As soon as her retreating foot-steps were heard 
to reenter her own room, at the further end of the passage, one of the 
girls sprang up and lit the gas again. The burner was near the head of 
her bed, so that she could see pretty well to read when she was lying 
down; which to Rotha's great surprise she went on to do for some time--
till Rotha fell asleep. The next night the same thing happened, and the 
next. Rotha became uneasy, and finally could bear it no longer. The 
fourth time this trick was played, she lifted her voice in protest. 

"Miss Entable," said she, "what you are doing is against the rules." 

She spoke clearly enough, though with a moderated voice; but not the 
least attention was paid to her remonstrance. One of her three companions 
was asleep; the second giggled; the reader took no notice. Rotha grew 
hot. What was she to do? Not give way. To give way in the face of 
opposition was never Rotha's manner. She slipped out of bed and came near 
the one where the reader lay. 

"Miss Entable, it is against rules, what you are doing." 

"Mind your own business," said the other shortly. 

"I am minding it," returned Rotha. "It is my business to keep Mrs. 
Mowbray's rules, and not to help break them; and I will not." 

"Will not what? You want to curry favour with old Mowbray--that's what 
you do. I have no patience with such meanness!" 

"You had better go and tell her what we are doing," said the third girl 
scornfully. 

"Miss Mc Pherson," said Rotha, her voice trembling a little with wrath, 
"I think Mrs. Mowbray trusts you. How can you bear to be false to trust?" 

"Stuff!" 

"Cant!" 

"Nobody asks your opinion about it. Who are you?" said the Mc Pherson, 
who in her own opinion was somebody. 

"Nor do I ask yours," said Rotha. "I will not help you break madame's 
rules. The light is one fourth part mine; and my part shall not burn 
after hours." 

With which deliverance she turned off the gas. Words of smothered rage 
and scorn followed her as she went back to bed; and the next day Rotha 
was plainly ostracised by a large part of her school-mates. 

The next evening the gas was lighted again after ten o'clock. 

"Now you Carpenter," said the reader, "I am not going to stand any of 
your ill manners. You will let the gas alone, if you please." 

"I cannot let it alone," said Rotha. "I should be a sharer in your 
dishonour." 

"Dishonour! well, let it alone, or I'll--" 

"What, Miss Entable?" 

"Mc Pherson and I will put you in bed and tie you there; and Jennings 
will help. We are three against one. So hold your tongue." 

Rotha reflected. It did not suit her feeling of self-respect to be 
concerned in a row. She raised herself on one elbow. 

"I do not choose to fight," she said; "that is not my way. But if you do 
not put the gas out, I shall tell Mrs. Mowbray that she must make 
somebody watch to see that her orders are observed." 

Now there arose a storm; rage and contempt and reviling were heaped on 
Rotha's head. "Informer!"--"Spy!"--"Mean tell tale!"--were some of the 
gentle marks of esteem bestowed on her. 

"I am not an informer," said Rotha, when she could be heard; "I am not 
going to mention any names. I will only tell Mrs. Mowbray that she must 
charge somebody to see that her orders are observed." 

"Orders! She is a mean, pinching, narrow-minded, low, school ma'am. You 
should see how it is at Mrs. De Joyce's. The girls have liberty--they 
receive their friends--they go to the opera--they have little dances--
they do just what they like. Mrs. De Joyce is such a lady! it is another 
thing. I am not going to stay in this mean house after this term is out." 

"Mary Entable!" said Rotha, rising up on her elbow and speaking with 
blazing eyes; "are you not ashamed of yourself? Mrs. Mowbray, who has 
just been so kind to you! so generous! so good! How long is it since she 
was nursing you through a terrible sickness--nursing you night and day--
entertaining your mother and your sister for ten days, in her crowded 
house. Do you dare call her narrow? Answer me one thing, if you can; did 
your mother and sister bear the expense of their stay here, or did she? 
Answer me, if you have a fraction of a soul in you!--Aren't you ashamed! 
I should think you would cover up your face in the bedclothes, and never 
look at anybody again!" 

Leaning on her elbow, raised so up in her bed, Rotha had delivered 
herself of the foregoing; in a moderated voice it is true, but with a 
cutting energy and directness. The other three girls were at first 
silent, partly with astonishment, Rotha's usual manner was so contained. 

"You may do as you like," she went on more composedly, "but help you I 
will not in your wrong ways. If the gas is lighted again after ten 
o'clock, I shall take my measures. I come of an honest family." 

That last cut was too much. The storm of abuse burst forth again; but 
Rotha wrapped herself in her coverlets and said no more. The gas was not 
relighted that evening. However, in the nature of the case it followed 
that lawless girls would not be long kept in check by the influence of 
one whom they regarded so lightly as these did Rotha. A fortnight later, 
the latter came to Mrs. Mowbray one day when she was alone in the 
library. 

"Well, my child--what is it?" said the kind voice she had learned to love 
devotedly. Mrs. Mowbray was arranging some of the displaced books in the 
bookcases, and spoke with only a fleeting glance at the person 
approaching her, to see who it was. 

"May I speak to you, madame?" 

"Yes--speak. What is it?" 

"I do not know how to say what I want to say." 

"Straight out, my child. Straight out is best. What is the matter?" 

"Nothing, with me, madame. But--if it would not give too much trouble--I 
thought I would like it very much if I could be put in another room." 

"Sleeping room?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 

"Why?"--Mrs. Mowbray's quick hands were busy all the while she was 
talking; putting up and pulling down. Rotha hesitated. 

"Madame, before I answer I should like to ask another question. What 
ought I to do if I see something done which you have forbidden?" 

A quick sharp glance came her way now. 

"What have you seen?" 

"That is just what I do not know whether I ought to tell you. I thought, 
perhaps it would be the best way for me to go where I could not see it." 

"Why?" said Mrs. Mowbray dryly. 

"Then I should not be sharing the wrong. I suppose, more than that is not 
my affair. I am afraid it would be troublesome to move me." 

"Any change is troublesome in a house like this," the lady answered; and 
Rotha stood still, not knowing how to go on. Mrs. Mowbray stepped up on 
the library steps to arrange some books on the upper shelves; and till 
she came down she did not speak again. 

"You are quite right to mention no names and give no stories," she said 
then. "I always doubt an informer. And you are quite right also in 
refusing to countenance what is wrong. I will give you another room, my 
dear." She took Rotha in her arms and kissed her repeatedly. "Have I 
found a friend?" she said. 

"You, madame?" said Rotha. "I cannot do anything for _you;_ but you have 
done everything for me." 

"You can give me love and truth that is all we any of us can give to one 
another, isn't it? The ways of shewing may be different.--Where are you 
going to spend the holidays?" she said with a change of tone. 

"I don't know, madame. I have not thought about it." 

"Will you spend them with me?" 

Joy flamed up in Rotha's eyes and lips and cheeks. "O madame!--if I may." 

"I expect half a dozen of the young ladies will stay with me. Here is a 
note that came for you, from your aunt." 

She gave Rotha an open note to read. It contained the request that Rotha 
might spend the time between Christmas and New Year's Day at her house, 
but not those days. Rotha read and looked up. 

"Write," said Mrs. Mowbray, "and say to your aunt that I have invited you 
and that you have accepted the invitation, for the whole holidays." 

The smile and the glance of her sweet eye were bewitching. Rotha felt as 
if she could have stooped down and kissed her very garments. 


CHAPTER XVII. 


BAGS AND BIBLES. 


Those holidays were a never-to-be-forgotten time in Rotha's life. 
Christmas eve, and indeed a day before, there was a great bustle and rush 
of movement in the house, almost all the boarders sweeping away to their 
various homes. Their example was followed by the under teachers; only 
Miss Blodgett remained; and a sudden lull took place of the rush. A small 
table was drawn out in the middle room; and Mrs. Mowbray came to dinner 
with a face, tired indeed, but set for play. The days of the ordinary 
weeks were always thick set with business; the weight of business was 
upon every heart; now it was unmitigated holiday. Nobody knew better how 
to play than Mrs. Mowbray; it was in her very air and voice and words. 
Perhaps some of this was assumed for the sake of others; a large portion 
of it was unquestionably real. The table was festive, that Christmas eve; 
flowers dressed it; the dessert was gay with confections and bonbons, as 
well as ice cream; and there was a breath of promise and anticipation in 
Mrs. Mowbray's manner that infected the dullest spirits there. And some 
of the girls were very dull! But Rotha's sprang up as if she had been in 
paradise. 

"Are you going to hang up your stocking, Miss Blodgett?" 

Miss Blodgett bridled and smiled and was understood to express her 
opinion that she was "too old." 

"'Too old!' My dear Miss Blodgett! One is never too old to be happy. I 
intend to be as happy as ever I can. I shall hang up _my_ stocking; and I 
expect everybody to put something in it." 

"You ought to have let us know that beforehand, madame," said Miss 
Blodgett. 

"Let you know beforehand!" said Mrs. Mowbray, while her eye twinkled 
mischievously: "My dear friend! I don't want any but free-will offerings. 
You didn't think I was going to levy black mail? did you? Miss Blodgett! 
I thought you knew me better." 

Whether she were in jest or in earnest, Rotha could not make up her mind. 
She was laughing at Miss Blodgett, that Rotha saw; but was it all 
nonsense about the stocking and the gifts? Mrs. Mowbray's sweet eyes were 
dancing with fun, her lips wreathed with the loveliest archness; whatever 
she meant, Rotha was utterly and wholly bewitched. She ran on for some 
little time, amusing herself and the girls, and putting slow Miss 
Blodgett in something of an embarrassment, she was so much too quick for 
her. 

"Are you going to hang up your stocking, Miss Emory?" 

Miss Emory in her turn smiled and bridled, and seemed at a loss how to 
answer. 

"Miss Eutable?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 

"Certainly. We will all hang up our stockings. Do you think by the 
chimney is the best place, Louisa?" 

The girl addressed was a little girl, left in Mrs. Mowbray's care while 
her parents were in Europe. She dimpled and declared she supposed one 
place was as good as another. 

"But you believe Santa Claus comes down the chimney?" 

"I always knew better, Mrs. Mowbray." 

"You did! You knew better! She knew better, Miss Blodgett. We are growing 
so wise in this generation. Here's little Miss Farrar does not believe in 
Santa Claus. I think that's a great loss. Miss Carpenter, what do you 
think about it? Do you think it is best to let the cold daylight in upon 
all our dreams?" 

"The sun is not cold, madame." 

"But the sun leaves no mystery." 

"I do not like mystery, madame?" 

"You don't? I think the charm of the stocking hung up, is the mystery. To 
listen for the sound of the reindeers' feet on the roof, to hear the 
rustle of the paper packages as Santa Claus comes down the chimney--there 
is nothing like that! I used to lie and listen and cover up my eyes for 
fear I should look, and be all in a tremble of delight and mystery." 

"I should have looked," said Rotha. 

"You must never look at Santa Claus. He don't like it." 

"But I always knew it was no Santa Claus." 

"Do you think you, and Miss Farrar here, are the happier for being so 
wise?" 

"I do not know," said Rotha laughing. "I cannot help it." 

"Mrs. Mowbray," said Miss Blodgett, "Miss Carpenter is the only young 
lady in the house who says 'do not' instead of don't; have you noticed?" 

"My dear Miss Blodgett! don't you go to preaching up preciseness. Life is 
too short to round all the corners; and there are too many corners. You 
must cut across sometimes. I say 'don't,' myself." 

She went now into a more business-like inquiry, how the several young 
ladies present expected to spend the next day; and as they rose from 
table, asked Rotha if she would like to drive out with her immediately. 
She had business to attend to. 

The drive, and the business, of that Christmas eve remained a vision of 
unalloyed pure delight in Rotha's memory for ever. The city was brightly 
lighted, at least where she and Mrs. Mowbray went; the streets were full 
of a gay crowd, gay as one sees it at no other time of all the year but 
around the holidays; everybody was buying or had bought, and was carrying 
bundles done up in brown paper, and packages of all sizes and shapes; and 
everybody's face looked as if there were a pleasant thought behind it, 
for everybody was preparing good for somebody else. Mrs. Mowbray was on 
such errands, Rotha immediately saw. And the shops were such scenes of 
happy bustle; happy to the owners, for they were driving a good trade; 
and happy to the customers, for every one was getting what he wanted. A 
large grocer's was the first place Mrs. Mowbray stopped at; and even here 
the scene was exceedingly attractive and interesting to Rotha. It was not 
much like the little corner grocery near Jane Street, where she once used 
to buy half pounds of tea and pecks of potatoes for her mother; although 
the mingled scents of spices and cheese did recall that to mind; the 
spices and the cheese here were better, and the odours correspondingly. 
Rotha never lost the remembrance, nor ever entered a large house of this 
kind again in her life without a sweeping impression of the mysterious 
bustle and joy of that Christmas eve. 

Mrs. Mowbray had various orders to give. Among them was one specially 
interesting to Rotha. She desired to have some twenty or thirty pounds of 
tea done up in half pound packages; also as many pounds of sugar; loaf 
sugar. As she and Rotha were driving off she explained what all this was 
for. "It is to go to my poor old people at the Coloured Home," she said. 
"Did you ever hear of the Old Coloured Home? I suppose not    That is an 
institution for the care of worn-out old coloured people, who have nobody 
to look after them. They expect to see me at Christmas. Would you like to 
go with me to-morrow, after church, when I go to take the tea to them?" 

Rotha answered, most sincerely, that she would like to go anywhere with 
Mrs. Mowbray. 

"They think all the world of tea, those poor old women; and they do not 
get it very good. The tea for them all is brewed in a great kettle and 
sweetened with molasses, without taking any account of differences of 
taste," Mrs. Mowbray added laughing; "and many of these old people know 
what is good as well as I do; and this common tea is dreadful to them. So 
at Christmas I always carry them a half pound of tea apiece and a pound 
of loaf sugar; and you have no idea how much they look forward to it." 

"Half a pound of tea will last quite a good while," said Rotha. 

"How do you know, my dear?" 

"I used to get half a pound at a time for mother, and then I used to make 
it for her always; so I know it will do for a long time, if one is 
careful." 

"So you have been a housekeeper!" 

"Not much.--I used to do things for mother." 

"Mrs. Busby is her sister?" 

"Yes, ma'am; but not like her. O not a bit like her." 

"Where was Mrs. Busby in those days?" 

"Here. Just where she is now." 

"Did she never come to see you?" 

"She did not know where we were. Mother never let her know." 

"Do you know why not, my dear?" 

"She had been so unkind--" Rotha answered in a low voice. 

Mrs. Mowbray thought to herself that probably there had been fault on 
both sides. 

"You must try and forget all that, my dear, if there were old grievances. 
It is best to forgive and forget, and Christmas is a capital time to do 
it. I never dare think of a grudge against anybody at Christmas. And your 
aunt seems disposed to be kind to you now." 

"No, ma'am, I do not think she does." 

"Don't you!" 

"No, ma'am. I do not" 

"Why, my dear, you must not bear malice." 

"What is 'malice'?" 

"Well,--ill-will." 

"Ill-will--I do not think I wish any harm to her," said Rotha slowly; 
"but I do not forgive her." 

"What do you want to do to her?" 

"I do not know. I should like to make her feel ashamed of herself--if I 
knew how." 

"I do not think that lies in your power, my dear; and I would not try. 
That is a sort of revenge-taking; and all sorts of revenge-taking are 
forbidden to us. 'Vengeance is mine,' saith the Lord." 

"I do not mean vengeance," said Rotha. "I mean, just punishment--a little 
bit." 

"That is the meaning of the word 'vengeance' in that place;--just 
punishment; but in your heart, Rotha, it is revenge. Put it away, my 
dear. It is not the spirit of Christ. You must forgive, if you would be 
forgiven." 

"I do not know how," said Rotha, low and steadily. 

"See how Jesus did. When they were nailing him to the cross, he said, 
'Father, forgive them.'" 

"Yes, but he said too, Mrs. Mowbray,--'they know not what they do.'" 

"My dear, nobody knows the evil he does. That does not excuse the evil, 
but it helps your charity for the sinner. Nobody knows the evil he does. 
I suppose Mrs. Busby has no notion how much she has hurt you." 

Rotha thought, her aunt had as little _care;_ but she did not say it. She 
was silent a minute, and then asked if the poor people at the Old 
Coloured Home were all women? 

"O no!" Mrs. Mowbray answered. "There are a great many men. I give _them_  
a pound of tobacco each; but I prefer not to take that in the carriage  
with me. It is all up there now, I suppose, waiting for me and to-morrow." 

With which the carriage stopped again. 

Here it was a bookstore; a large and beautiful one. The light was 
brilliant; and on every counter and table lay spread about such treasures 
of printing, engraving, and the book-binder's art, as Rotha had never 
seen gathered together before. Mrs. Mowbray told her to amuse herself 
with looking at the books and pictures, while she attended to the 
business that brought her here; and so began a wonderful hour for Rotha. 
O the books! O the pictures! what pages of interest! what leaves of 
beauty! Her eyes were drunk with delight. From one thing to another, with 
careful fingers and dainty touch she went exploring; sometimes getting 
caught in the interest of an open page of letterpress, sometimes hanging 
over an engraving with wondering admiration and sympathy. It seemed any 
length of time, it was really not more than three quarters of an hour, 
when Mrs. Mowbray approached her again, having got through her errands. 
With cheeks red and eyes intent, Rotha was bending over something, the 
sense of hearing for the present gone into abeyance; Mrs. Mowbray was 
obliged to touch her. She smiled at Rotha's start. 

"What had you there, my dear?" 

"All sorts of things, Mrs. Mowbray! Just that minute, I was looking at an 
atlas." 

"An atlas!" 

"Yes, the most perfect I ever saw. O beautiful, and with so many things 
told and taught in it. A delightful atlas! And then, I was looking at the 
illustrations in the 'Arabian Nights'--I think that was the name." 

"You never read it?" 

"O no, ma'am. I never had many books to read;--until now." 

"Are you reading anything now, in course?" 

"I haven't much time, there is so much history to read. But I have begun 
'Waverley.'" 

"Do you like it?" 

"O, a great deal more than I can tell!" 

"Do not let it draw you away from your studies." 

"No, ma'am. There is no danger," said Rotha joyously. 

Mrs. Mowbray did not speak again till the carriage stopped at Stewart's. 
It was the first time Rotha had ever been inside of those white walls; 
and this visit finished the bewitchment of the evening. At first the size 
of the place and the numbers of people busy there engrossed her 
attention; nor did either thing cease to be a wonder; but by degrees one 
grows accustomed even to wonders. By degrees Rotha was able to look at 
what was on the counters, as well as what was before them; for a while 
she had followed Mrs. Mowbray without seeing what that lady was doing. 
Mrs. Mowbray had a good deal of business on hand. When Rotha began to 
attend to it, the two had come into the rotunda room and were standing at 
the great glove counter. Between what was going on there, and what was 
doing at the silk counters around her, Rotha was fully engaged, and was 
only recalled to herself by Mrs. Mowbray's voice asking, 

"What is your number, Rotha?" 

"Ma'am?" said the girl "I did not understand--" 

"What is the number of the size of glove you wear?" 

"I do not know, ma'am--O, I remember! six and a half." 

"Six and a half," Mrs. Mowbray repeated to the shopman; and then 
proceeded to pull out pairs of gloves from the packages handed her. 
"There's a dark green, my dear; that is near the shade of your cloak. 
There is a good colour" throwing down upon the green a dark grey; and a 
brown followed the green. "Now we want some lighter--do you like that?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 

More than the mere affirmative Rotha could not say; she looked on 
bewildered and confounded, as a pair of pearl grey gloves was laid upon 
the green, the dark, and the brown, and then came a tan-coloured pair, 
and then a soft ashes of roses. Half a dozen pair of kid gloves! Rotha 
had never even contemplated such profusion. She received the little 
packet with only a half-uttered, low, suppressed word of thanks. Then the 
two wandered away from that room, and found themselves among holiday 
varieties. Here Rotha was dazzled. Not indeed by glitter; but by the 
combinations of use and beauty that met her eyes, look where they would. 
Mrs. Mowbray was making purchases, Rotha did not know of what, it did not 
concern her; and she was never tempted by vulgar curiosity. She indulged 
her eyes with looking at everything else. What fans, and dressing boxes 
and work boxes, and fancy baskets, and hand mirrors, and combs and 
brushes, and vials of perfumes, and writing cases, and cigar cases, and 
Japan ware, and little clocks, and standishes, and glove boxes, and 
papetries, and desks, and jewel cases---- 

"Have you a handbag for travelling, Rotha?" 

The question made her start. 

"No, ma'am. I never go travelling." 

"You will, some time. How do you like that? Think it is too large?" 

Rotha was speechless. Could Mrs. Mowbray remember that she had given her 
half a dozen pair of gloves that evening already? 

"I always like a handbag that will carry something," Mrs. Mowbray went 
on. "You want room for a book, and room for writing materials; you should 
always have writing materials in your hand-bag, and stamps, and 
everything necessary. You never know what you may want in a hurry. I 
think that is about right; do you?" 

"That" was a beautiful brown bag of Russia leather, sweet with the 
pungent sweetness of birch bark, or of the peculiar process of curing 
with such bark; and with nickel plated lock and bolts. Rotha flushed 
high; to speak she was incompetent just then. 

"I think it will do then," said Mrs. Mowbray, herself in a high state of 
holiday glee; preparing, as she was, pleasure for a vast number of 
persons, rich and poor, young and old; she was running over with a sort 
of angel's pleasure in giving comfort or making glad. In Rotha's case she 
was doing both. 

"Don't you want to take it home with you, my dear?" she went on. "There 
will be so many things to send from the store to-night that they will 
never get to their destination; and I always like to make sure of a thing 
when I have got it. Though you rarely make a mistake here," she added 
graciously to the foreman who was waiting upon her. 

Rotha took the bag, without a word, for she had not a thing to say; and 
she dropped her package of gloves into it, for safe keeping and easy 
transportation. Talk of riches! The thing is comparative. I question if 
there was a millionaire's wife in the city that night who felt as 
supremely rich as did Rotha with her bag and her gloves. She tried to say 
a word of thanks to her kind friend when she got home; but Mrs. Mowbray 
stopped her. 

"Go to bed, my dear," she said, with a kiss, "and don't forget to hang up 
your stocking. Are you comfortable up there?" 

"Yes, ma'am--O yes!" Rotha answered as she went up the stairs. 

Comfortable! She was alone in her room, all her roommates having gone 
somewhere for the holidays; the whole house was warm; and Rotha shut her 
door, and set her bag on a table, and sat down and looked at it; with her 
heart growing big. Hang up her stocking! She! Had she not had Christmas 
enough already? 

It all worked oddly with Rotha. To the majority of natures, great 
pleasure is found to work adversely to the entertaining of serious 
thoughts or encouraging religious impressions. With her, grief seemed to 
muddle all her spiritual condition, and joy cleared it up. She sat 
looking at her treasures, looking mentally at the wonderful good things 
that surrounded her, contrasted with her previous unhappiness; and the 
whole generous truth of her nature was aroused. She ought to be such a 
good girl! And by "goodness" Rotha did not mean an orderly getting of her 
lessons. Conscience went a great deal further, enlightened by the 
examples she had known of what was really good. Yes, her mother would 
have forgiven her aunt; and Mr. Digby would never have been ill-mannerly 
to her; and supposing him for once to be in such a condition of wrong, he 
would go straight forward, she knew, to make amends, own the fault and 
ask pardon. Further than that; for on both their parts such feeling and 
action would have been but the outcome of their habitual lowly and loving 
obedience to God. That she ought to be like them, Rotha knew; and tears 
of sorrow rushed to her eyes to think she was not. "The goodness of God 
leadeth thee to repentance," was the thought working in her; although she 
did not clothe it in the Bible words. 

What hindered? 

"My ugly temper," said Rotha to herself; "my wickedness and badness." 

What help? 

Yes, there was help, she knew, she believed. She brought her Bible and 
turned to the marked passages, brushing away the tears that she might see 
to read them. "He that hath my commandments and keepeth them--" Well, 
said Rotha, I will keep them from this time on.--Forgive and all? said 
something in her heart. _Yes_, forgive and all. I will forgive!--But you 
cannot?--Then I will ask help. 

And she did. Earnestly, tearfully, ardently, for a long time. She felt as 
if her heart were a stone. She had to go to bed at last, feeling no 
better. But that she would be a true servant of God, Rotha was 
determined. 

So came Christmas morning on; clear, cold, bright and still. Rotha awaked 
at the bell summons. Her first thought was of last night's determination, 
to which she held fast; the next thought was, that it was Christmas day, 
and she must look at her gloves and Russia leather bag. She sprang up, 
and had half dressed herself before she remarked, lying on the empty bed 
opposite her own, some peculiar-looking packages done up as usual in 
brown paper. They must belong to Mrs. Mowbray and have got there by 
mistake, she thought; and she went over to verify her supposition. No, to 
her enormous surprise she saw her own name. 

More Christmas things! Rotha hurried her dressing; she dared not stop to 
open anything till that was done; and then an inner voice said, You will 
not have much time for your prayers. Her heart beating, she turned away 
and knelt down. And she would not cut short her prayers, either. She 
besought help to forgive; she asked earnestly to be made "a new 
creature"; for the old creature, she felt, would never forgive, to the 
end of time. She rose then, brushing the moisture from her eyes, and went 
over to look at those mysterious packages. One was light, square, and 
shallow; the other evidently a book, and heavy. She opened the lesser 
package first. Behold, a dozen cambrick handkerchiefs, and upon them a 
little bright blue silk neck tie. Rotha needed those articles very much; 
she was ready to scream for joy. The other package now; hands trembling 
unfolded it. Brown paper, silk paper,--and one of Bagster's octavo Bibles 
with limp covers was revealed. Rotha was an ardent lover of the beautiful 
and the perfect; her own Bible was an old volume, much worn by handling, 
bearing the marks of two generations' use and wear; this was the 
perfection of a book in every respect. Rotha was struck dumb and still, 
and nothing but tears could give due vent to her feelings; they were 
tears of great joy, of repentance, of new purpose, and of very conscious 
inability to do anything of herself that would be good. She had sunk on 
her knees to let those tears have the accompaniment of prayer; she rose 
up again and clasped the Bible in her arms, in heartiest love to it. 

Breakfast was late that morning, and she had time for examining her gifts 
and for getting a little composed before she had to go down stairs. She 
went then quite sedately to all appearance. It was to her as if the world 
had turned round two or three times since last night; other people, 
however, she observed, had not at all lost their heads and were very much 
as usual; except that they were dressed for going to church, and had the 
pleasant freedom of holiday times in their looks and manner. Only Mrs. 
Mowbray was really festive. She was sparkling with spirits, and smiling 
with the joy of doing kindness, past and future. Rotha sat next her at 
the table; and there was a gleam of amusement and intelligence in her eye 
as she asked her, over her coffee cup, whether Santa Claus had come down 
her chimney? She gave Rotha no time to answer, but ran on with a question 
to some one else; only a few minutes after, as she put a chop upon 
Rotha's plate, gave her a look full of affectionate kindness which said 
that she understood all and no words were necessary. 

It was time to go to church when breakfast and prayers were over. 
Immediately after church, Mrs. Mowbray and Rotha took a carriage and 
drove out to the Old Coloured Home; all the packages of tea and sugar 
going along; as also a perfect stack of sponge cakes. Arrived at the 
place, Mrs. Mowbray's first demand was to know whether "the milk" had 
been delivered, and where "the tobacco" was. Then followed a scene, a 
succession of scenes rather, that could never be forgotten. Mrs. Mowbray 
went all through the rooms, dealing out to each poor creature among the 
women a half pound package of tea, a pound of sugar, a half pint of milk, 
and a sizeable sponge cake. 

"My dear," she whispered to Rotha, who attended and helped her, "they 
think all the world of a bit of cake! They never get it now, you know." 

"Don't they get milk?" 

"Some of the ladies bought a cow for them, that they might have it and 
have it good; but it didn't work. The matron took the cream for herself; 
they had only the blue watery stuff that was left; and when it was 
attempted to rectify that abuse, somebody discovered that it cost too 
much to keep a cow." 

"What a shame!" cried Rotha indignantly. 

"Never mind; you cannot have everything in this world; the Home is a 
great deal better than being in the streets." 

But Rotha did not like the Home. Its forms and varieties of infirmity, 
disease, and decay, were very disagreeable to her. She had one of those 
temperaments to which all things beautiful, graceful, and lovely, speak 
with powerful influences, and which are correspondingly repelled and 
distressed by the tokens of pain or want or coarse living. All the 
delight of these women at the sight of Mrs. Mowbray, and all their 
intense enjoyment of her gifts, manifested broadly and abundantly, could 
not reconcile Rotha to the sight of their worn, wrinkled faces, bowed 
forms, bleared eyes, and dulled expression. Every one was not so; but 
these were the majority. Certainly Rotha had not had a very dainty 
experience of life during the years of her abode in New York; she had 
lived where the poorer classes lived and been accustomed to seeing them. 
But there the sick and infirm were mostly in their houses, where she did 
not visit them; and the exceptions were noticed one at a time. Here there 
was an aggregation of infirmity, which oppressed her young heart and 
revolted her fastidious sense. It was not pleasant; and Rotha, like most 
others who have no experience of life, was devoted to what was pleasant. 
She wondered to see the glee and enjoyment with which Mrs. Mowbray moved 
about among these poor people; a word, and a word of cheer, for every 
one; her very looks and presence coming like beams of loving light upon 
their darkness. She seemed to know them almost all. 

"How's rheumatism, aunty?" she asked cheerily of a little, wrinkled, 
yellow old woman, sitting in a rocking chair and hovering near a fire. 

"O missus, it's right smart bad! it is surely." 

"Where is it now? in your hands, or your feet?" 

"O missus, it is all places! 'Pears there aint no place where it aint. 
It's in my hands, and in my feet, and in my head, and in my back; and I 
can't sleep o' nights; and the nights is powerful long! so they be." 

"Ah, yes; it makes a long night, to have to lie awake aching! I know that 
by experience. I had rheumatism once." 

"Did you, missus! But it warn't so bad as I be?" 

"No, not quite, and I was stronger to bear it. You know who is strong to 
help you bear it, aunty?" 

"Yes, missus," said the poor creature with a long sigh;--"I does love de 
Lord; sartain, I do. He do help. But I be so tired some times!" 

"We'll forget all that when we get to heaven, aunty." 

There was a faint gleam in the old eyes, as they looked up to her; a 
faint smile on the withered lips. The rays of that morning light were 
catching the clouds already! 

"Now, aunty, I've brought you some splendid tea. Shall I make you a cup, 
right off?" 

"You wouldn't have time missus--" 

"Yes, I would! Time for everything. Here, Sabrina, bring a kettle of 
boiling water here and put it on the fire; mind, it must boil." 

And while the woman went to obey the order, Mrs. Mowbray went on round 
the room. There were so many to speak to, Rotha thought she would forget 
the kettle and the tea; but she did not. From the very door which should 
have let her into another ward, she turned back The kettle was boiling; 
she ordered several cups; she made the tea, not out of the old woman's 
particular private store; and then she poured it out, sugared and creamed 
and gave her her cup; took one herself, and gave the rest to whosoever 
came for it. They held quite a little festival there round the fire; for 
Mrs. Mowbray brought out some cake too. 

"Now," she said to Rotha as they hurried away, "they will not forget that 
for a year to come. I always take a cup of tea with aunty Lois." 

They went now among the men, distributing the tobacco. Rotha admired with 
unending admiration, the grace and sweetness and tact with which Mrs. 
Mowbray knew how to season her gifts; the enormous amount of pleasure she 
gave and good she did which were quite independent of them. Bent figures 
straightened up, and dull faces shone out, as she talked. The very beauty 
which belonged to her in so rare measure, Rotha saw how it was a mighty 
talent for good when brought thoroughly into the service of Christ. She 
was a fair human angel going about among those images of want and 
suffering and hopelessness; her light lingered on them after she had 
passed on. 

"How do you do, uncle Bacchus?" she said as she approached an old, gray-
haired, very black man in a corner. He rose to his feet and shewed a 
tall, slim figure, not bent at all, though the indications of his face 
pointed to very advanced age. He bowed profoundly, and with dignity, 
before the lovely lady who had extended her hand to him, and then he took 
the hand. 

"Nearer home, madam," he said; "a year nearer home." 

The hand trembled, and the voice; yet the mental tone of it was very 
firm. 

"You are not in a hurry to leave us?" 

"It's better on de oder side, madam." 

"Yes, that is true! And it is good to know there _is_ an 'other side,' 
isn't it? Are you comfortable here, uncle Bacchus?" 

'"Comfortable--" he repeated. "I don' know. I'm sittin' at de gates, 
waitin' till de Lord say open 'em; and 'pears I'm lookin' dat way all de 
time. Dis yer's a waitin' place. A waitin' place." 

"Yes, but I want you to be comfortable while you are waiting. What can I 
do for you? The dear Lord has sent me to ask you." 

He smiled a little, a very sweet smile, though the lips were so withered 
on which it came. 

"Don't want for not'ing, madam. Dis yer'll do to wait in. When I get 
home, I'll have all I want; but it's up _dere_." 

"I thought, uncle Bacchus, you would like a very plain page to read the 
words in that you love. See, I have brought you this. This will almost do 
without spectacles, hey?" 

She produced a New Testament in four thin volumes, of the very largest 
and clearest type; presenting a beautiful open page. The old man almost 
chuckled as he received it. 

"Dat ar's good!" he said. 

"Better than the old one, hey?" 

"Dat ar certainly is good," he repeated. "De old un, de words is so 
torturous small, if I didn't know what dey was, 'pears dey wouldn't be no 
use to me." 

"Well, then I made no mistake this time. Now, uncle Bacchus, I know you 
take no comfort in tobacco; so I've brought you something else--something 
you like. Must have something to make Christmas gay, you know." 

She put a paper of French bonbons in the old man's hand. He laughed, half 
at her and half at the sugarplums, Rotha thought; and he bowed again. 

"De Lord give madam sumfin' to make _her_ gay!" he said. 

"Himself, uncle Bacchus!" 

"Dat's so, madam!" he replied, as she took his hand to bid him good bye. 

This was a much longer colloquy than usual; a few words were all there 
was time for, generally; and Rotha went on wondering and admiring to see 
how Mrs. Mowbray could make those few words tell for the pleasure and 
good of her beneficiaries. At last the whole round was made, the last 
package disposed of, and Mrs. Mowbray and Rotha found themselves in the 
carriage again. Rotha for her part was glad; she did not like the Home, 
as I have said; the sight of the people was painful to her, even with all 
the alleviations of pleasure. She was glad to be driving away from the 
place. What did they know of Bagster's Bibles and Russia covered 
travelling bags? Poor creatures! And Rotha's heart was leaping at thought 
of her own. 

They went in silence for a while. 

"Aren't you very tired, Mrs. Mowbray?" Rotha ventured at last. 

"Tired?" said Mrs. Mowbray brightly, rousing herself. "I don't know! I 
don't stop to think whether I am tired. There will be plenty of time to 
rest, by and by." 

"That does not hinder one from feeling tired now," said Rotha, who did 
not enjoy this doctrine. 

"No, but it hinders one from minding it," said Mrs. Mowbray. "Do all you 
can for other people, Rotha; it is the greatest happiness you can find in 
this life." 

"Do you think you had as much pleasure in getting those things for me, 
Mrs. Mowbray,--my bag and my Bible,--and all my things,--as I had, and 
have, in receiving them?" 

Mrs. Mowbray smiled. "Do they give you pleasure?" she asked. 

"More than you can think--more than I can tell. I think I am dreaming!" 

"Then that gives _me_ pleasure. What are you going to do with your  
Bible?"

"I am going to study it--" said Rotha slowly; "and I am going to live by 
it." 

"Are you? Have you decided that point?" 

"Yes, ma'am. But I am not good yet, Mrs. Mowbray. I do not forgive aunt 
Serena. It feels to me as if there was a stone where my heart ought to 
be." 

"Have you found that out?" said Mrs. Mowbray without shewing any 
surprise. "There is help, my child. Look, when you get home, at the 
thirty sixth chapter of Ezekiel--I cannot tell you what verse--and you 
will find it there." 

They had no more talk until the carriage stopped at home. And Rotha had 
no chance then even to open her Bible, but must make herself immediately 
ready for dinner. 


CHAPTER XVIII. 


FLINT AND STEEL. 


That Christmas dinner remained a point of delight in Rotha's memory for 
ever. The company was small, several of the young ladies having accepted 
invitations to dine with some friend or acquaintance. It was most 
agreeably small, to Rotha's apprehension, for she could see more of Mrs. 
Mowbray and more informally. Everybody was in gala dress and gala humour, 
nobody more than the mistress of the house; and she had done everything 
in her power to make the Christmas dinner a gala meal. Flowers and lights 
were in plenty; the roast turkey was followed by ices, confections and 
fruits, all of delicious quality; and Mrs. Mowbray's own kind and 
gracious ministry made everything doubly sweet. Rotha had besides such 
joy in her heart, that turkey and ices had never seemed so good in her 
life. The whole day had been rich, full, sweet, blessed; the girl had 
entered a new sphere where every want of her nature was met and 
contented; under such conditions the growth of a plant is rapid; and in a 
plant of humanity it is not only rapid but blissful. 

Christmas joys were not done when the dinner was over. The girls who were 
present, and the one or two under teachers, repaired to the library, Mrs. 
Mowbray's special domain; and there she exerted herself unweariedly to 
give them a pleasant evening. Two of them sat down to a game of chess; 
two of them were allowed to look over some very rare and splendid books 
of engravings; one or two were deep in fancy work, and one or two amused 
themselves with a fine microscope. Rotha received her first introduction 
to the stereoscope. This was no novelty to the rest, and she was left in 
undisturbed enjoyment; free to look as long as she liked at any view that 
excited her interest. Which of them did not! At Rotha's age, with her 
mind just opening rapidly and her intellectual hunger great for all sorts 
of food, what were not the revelations of the stereoscope to her! Delight 
and wonder went beyond all power of words to describe them. And with 
delight and wonder started curiosity. Rotha's first view was a gorge 
in the Alps. 

"Where is it?" she asked. And Mrs. Mowbray told her. 

"How high are those hills?" 

"Really, I don't know," said her friend laughing. "I will give you a 
guide book to study." 

Rotha thought she would like a guide book. Anything so majestic as the 
sweep of those mountain lines and the lift of their snowy heads, she had 
never imagined; nor anything so lovely as the peace of that narrow, 
meadowy valley at the foot of them. 

"Is it as good really, Mrs. Mowbray, as it looks here?" she asked. 

"It is better. Don't you think colour goes for anything? and the sound of 
a cowbell, and the rush of the torrents that come from the mountains?" 

"I can hear cowbells and the rush of brooks here," said Rotha. 

"It sounds different there." 

Slowly and unwillingly and after long looking at it, Rotha laid the Swiss 
valley away. Her next view happened to be the ruins of the Church at 
Fountain's Abbey; and with that a new nerve of pleasure seemed to be 
stirred. This was something in an entirely new department, of knowledge 
and interest both. "How came people to let such a beautiful church go to 
ruin?" 

Mrs. Mowbray went back to the Reformation, and Henry the Eighth, and the 
monkish orders; and the historical discussion grew into length. Then a 
very noble view of the Fountain's Abbey cloisters opened a new field of 
inquiry; and Rotha's eye gazed along the beautiful arches with an awed 
apprehension of the life that once was lived under them; gazed and 
marvelled and queried. 

"That was an ugly sort of life," she said at last; "why do I like to look 
at these cloisters, Mrs. Mowbray?" 

Mrs. Mowbray laughed. "I suppose your eye finds beauty in the lines of 
the architecture." 

"Are they beautiful?" 

"People say so, my dear." 

"But do you think they are?" 

"My dear, I must confess to you, I never paid much attention to 
architecture. I never asked myself the question." 

"I do not think there is any _beauty_ about them," said Rotha; "but  
somehow I like to look at them. I like to look at them _very_ much." 

"Here is another cloister," said Mrs. Mowbray; "of Salisbury cathedral. 
The arches and lines here are less severe. How do you like that?" 

"Not half so well," Rotha answered, after making the comparison. "I think 
Fountain's Abbey _is_ beautiful, compared with this." 

"It is called, I believe, one of the finest ruins in England. My dear, if 
you want to study architecture, I shall turn you over to Mr. Fergusson's 
book. It is in the corner stand in the breakfast room--two octavo 
volumes. There you can find all your questions answered." 

Which Rotha did not however find to be the case, though Fergusson in 
after days was a good deal studied by her in her hours of leisure. For 
this evening it was enough, that she went to her room with the feeling 
that the world is very rich in things to be seen and things to be known; 
a vast treasure house of wonders and beauties and mysteries; which 
mysteries must yet have their hidden truth and solution, delightful to 
search for, delightful to find. Would she some day see the Alps? and what 
dreadful things cloisters and the life lived in them must have been! Her 
eye fell on her Russia leather bag, in which she had placed her Bible for 
safe keeping; and her thoughts went to the Bible. That told how people 
should live to serve God; and it was not by shutting themselves up in 
cloisters. How then? That question she deferred. 

But took it up again the next day. It was a rainy day; low clouds and 
thick beat of the rain storm against the windows and upon the street. 
Rotha was well pleased. Good so; yesterday had held novelty and 
excitement enough for a week; to-day she could be quiet, study Fergusson 
on architecture, perhaps; and at all events study the life question in 
her beautiful Bible. She had the morning to herself after breakfast, and 
her room to herself; the patter and beat of the rain drops made her feel 
only more securely safe in her solitude and opportunity. Rotha took her 
Bible lovingly in her hands and slowly turned over the leaves to find the 
thirty sixth chapter of Ezekiel. And unquestionably, the great beauty of 
the book, of the paper and the limp covers and the type, did help her 
pleasure and did give an additional zest to the work she was about. 
Nevertheless, Rotha was in earnest, and it _was_ work. The chapter, when 
she found it, was an enigma to her. She read on and on, understanding but 
very dimly what might be meant under the words; till she came to the 
notable promise and prophecy beginning with the twenty fourth verse. Then 
her eyes opened, and lingered, slowly going over item after item of the 
help promised to humanity's wants, and then she read:--

"A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within 
you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will 
give you an heart of flesh."---- 

It struck Rotha with a strange sort of surprise, the words meeting so 
exactly the thought and want of her own heart. Did He who gave that 
promise, long ago, know so well what she would be one day thinking and 
feeling? But that was the very help she needed; all she needed; if the 
heart of stone within her were gone, all the rest would fall into train. 
Rotha waited no longer, but poured out a longing, passionate prayer that 
this mighty change might be wrought in her. Even with tears she prayed 
her prayer. She had resolved to be a Christian; yet she was not one; 
could not be one; till a heart of flesh took the place of that impassive 
induration which was where a heart should be. As she rose from her knees, 
she thought she would follow out this subject of a hard heart, and see 
what else the Bible said of it. She applied to her "Treasury of Scripture 
Knowledge"; found the thirty sixth chapter of Ezekiel, and the twenty 
sixth verse. The first reference sent her to the eleventh chapter of the 
same book, where she found the promise already previously given. 

"And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; 
and I will take the stony-heart out of their flesh, and I will give them 
an heart of flesh; _that they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine 
ordinances, and do them;_ and they shall be my people, and I will be  
their God." 

That is it! thought Rotha. I knew I could not be a Christian while I felt 
so as I do. I could not keep the commandments either. If I had a new 
heart, I suppose I could forgive aunt Serena fast enough. God must be 
very willing to take people's stony heart away, or he would not promise 
it so twice over. O my dear "Scripture Treasury"! how good you are! 

Following its indications, she came next to a word of the prophet 
Zechariah, accusing the people of obduracy:--"They refused to hearken, 
and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should 
not hear. Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they 
should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in 
his spirit by the former prophets"-- 

Over this passage Rotha lingered, pondering. Could it be true that she 
herself was to blame for the very hardness of heart she wanted to get rid 
of? Had she "refused to hearken and pulled away the shoulder and stopped 
her ears"? What else had she done? when those "former prophets" to her, 
her mother, and Mr. Digby, had set duty and truth before her? They set it 
before her bodily, too; and how fair their example had been! and how 
immoveable she! Rotha lost herself for a while here, longing for her 
mother, and crying in spirit for her next friend, Mr. Digby; wondering at 
his silence, mourning his absence; and it was when a new gush of 
indignation at her aunt seemed to run through all her veins, that she 
caught herself up and remembered the work in hand, and slowly and 
sorrowfully came back to it. How angry she was at Mrs. Busby this minute! 
what a long way she was yet, with all her wishes and resolves, from the 
loving tenderness of heart which would forgive everything. She went on, 
hoping always for more light, and willing to take the sharpest charges 
home to herself. Yet the next reference startled her. 

"Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth; and 
forthwith they sprang up because they had no deepness of earth: and when 
the sun was up, they were scorched;"-- 

Was it possible, that she had been like that very bad ground? Yes, she 
knew the underlying rock too well. Then in her case there was special 
danger of a flash religion, taken up for the minute's sense of need or 
perception of advantage merely, and not rooted so that it would stand 
weather. Hers should not be so; no profession of being a Christian would 
she make, till it was thorough work; till at last she could forgive her 
aunt's treachery; it would be pretty thorough if she could do that! But 
how long first? At present Rotha thought of her aunt in terms that I will 
not stop to detail; in which there was bitter anger and contempt and no 
love at all. She knew it, poor child; she felt the difficulty; her only 
sole hope was in the power of that promise in Ezekiel, which she blessed 
in her heart, almost with tears. That way there was an outlook towards 
light; no other way in all her horizon. She would see what more the Bible 
had to say about it. 

Going on in her researches, after another passage or two she came to 
those notable words, also in Ezekiel,--

"Cast away from you all your transgressions, whereby ye have 
transgressed; and make you a new heart and a new spirit: for why will ye 
die, O house of Israel?" 

Make herself a new heart? how could she? she could not; and yet, here the 
words were, and they must mean something. And to be sure, she thought, a 
man is said to build him a new house, who gets the carpenter to make it, 
and never himself puts hand to tool. But cast away her transgressions?--
_that_ she could do, and she would. From that day forth. The next passage 
was in the fifty first psalm; David's imploring cry that the Lord would 
"create" in him "a new heart"; and then the lovely words in Jeremiah:--
"After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward 
parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they 
shall be my people." 

Rotha shut her book. That was the very thing wanted. When the law of God 
should be _in her heart_ so, then all would be right, and all would be 
easy too. It is easy to do what is in one's heart. What beautiful words! 
what exquisite promises! what tender meeting of the wants of weak and 
sinful men! Rotha saw all this, and felt it. Ay, and she felt that every 
vestige of excuse was gone for persistence in wrong; if God was so ready 
to put in his hand of love and power to make things right. And one more 
passage made this conclusively certain. It was the thirteenth verse of 
the eleventh chapter of Luke. 

The morning's work was a good one for Rotha. She made up her mind. That, 
indeed, she had done before; now she took her stand with a clearer 
knowledge of the ground and of the way in which the difficulties were to 
be met. By a new heart, nothing less; a heart of flesh; which indeed she 
could not create, but which she could ask for and hope for; and in the 
mean time she must "cast away from her all her transgressions." No 
compromise, and no delay. As to this anger at her aunt,--well, it was 
there, and she could not put it out; but allow it and agree to it, or 
give it expression, that she would not do. 

She cast about her then for things to be done, neglected duties. No 
studies neglected were on her conscience; there did occur to her some 
large holes in the heels of her stockings. Rotha did not like mending; 
however, here was duty. She got out the stockings and examined them. A 
long job, and to her a hateful one, for the stockings had been neglected. 
Rotha had but a little yarn to mend with; she sat down to the work and 
kept at it until she had used up her last thread. That finished the 
morning, for the stockings were fine, and the same feeling of duty which 
made her take up the mending made her do it conscientiously. 

The evening was spent happily over the stereoscope and Fergusson on 
Architecture. Towards the end of it Mrs. Mowbray whispered to her, 

"My dear, your aunt wishes you to spend a day with her; don't you think 
it would be a good plan to go to-morrow? A thing is always more graceful 
when it is done without much delay." 

Rotha could but acquiesce. 

"And make the best of it," Mrs. Mowbray went on kindly; "and make the 
best of _them_. There is a best side to everybody; it is good to try and 
get at it. The Bible says 'Overcome evil with good.'" 

"Can one, always?" said Rotha. 

"I think one can always--if one has the chance and time. At any rate, it 
is good to try." 

"But don't you think, ma'am, one must feel pleasant, before one can act 
pleasant?" 

"Feel pleasant, then," said Mrs. Mowbray smiling. "Can't you?" 

"You do not know how difficult it is," said Rotha. 

"Perhaps I do. Hearts are alike." 

"O no, Mrs. Mowbray!" said Rotha in sudden protest. 

"Not in everything. But fallen nature is fallen nature, my dear; one 
person's temptations may be different from another's, but in the longing 
to do our own pleasure and have our own way, we are all pretty much 
alike. None of us has anything to boast of. What you despise, is the 
yielding to a temptation which does not attack you." 

Rotha's look at her friend was intelligent and candid. She said nothing. 

"And if you can meet hatred with love, it is ten to one you can overcome 
it. Wouldn't that be a victory worth trying for?" 

Rotha knew the victory over herself was the first one to be gained. But 
she silently acquiesced; and after breakfast next morning, with reluctant 
steps, she set forth to go to her aunt's in Twenty-third Street. She had 
been in a little doubt how to dress herself. Should she wear her old 
things? or subject the new ones to her aunt's criticism? But Antoinette 
had seen the pretty plaid school dress; it would be foolish to make any 
mystery of it. She dressed herself as usual. 

Mrs. Busby and her daughter were in the sitting room up stairs. Rotha had 
knocked, modestly, and as she went in they both lifted up their heads and 
looked at her, with a long look of survey. Rotha had come quite up to 
them before her aunt spoke. 

"Well, Rotha,--so it is you?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 

"Have you come to see me at last?" 

"Yes, ma'am. Mrs. Mowbray said you wished it." 

"What made you choose to-day particularly?" 

"Nothing. Mrs. Mowbray said--" 

"Well, go on. What did Mrs. Mowbray say?" 

"She said you wanted to have me come, some day, and she thought I had 
better do it to-day." 

"Yes. Did she give no reason?" 

"No. At least--" 

"At least what?" 

Rotha had no skill whatever in prevarication, nor understood the art. 
Nothing occurred to her but to tell the truth. 

"Mrs. Mowbray said a thing was more graceful that was done promptly." 

The slightest possible change in the set of Mrs. Busby's lips, the least 
perceptible air of her head, expressed what another woman might have told 
by a snort of disdain. Mrs. Busby's manner was quite as striking, Rotha 
thought. Her own anger was rising fast. 

"O, and I suppose she is teaching you to do things gracefully?" said 
Antoinette. "Mamma, the idea!" 

"It did not occur to her or you that I might like to see my niece 
occasionally?" said Mrs. Busby. 

Rotha bit her lips and succeeded in biting down the answer. 

"We have not grown very graceful _yet_," Antoinette went on. "It is  
usually thought civilized to answer people." 

"You had better take off your things," Mrs. Busby said. "You may lay them 
up stairs in your room." 

"Is there any reason which makes this an inconvenient day for me to be 
here?" Rotha asked before moving to obey this command. 

"It makes no difference. The proper time for putting such a question, if 
you want to do things _gracefully_, is before taking your action, while  
the answer can also be given gracefully, if unfavourable." 

Rotha went slowly up stairs, feeling that or any other place in the house 
better than the room where her aunt was. She went to her little cold, 
cheerless, desolate-looking, old room. How she had suffered there! how 
thankful she was to be in it no more! how changed were her circumstances! 
Could she not be good and keep the peace, this one day? She had purposed 
to be very good, and calm, like Mr. Digby; and now already she felt as if 
a bunch of nettles had been drawn all over her. What an unmanageable 
thing was this temper of hers. She went down stairs slowly and 
lingeringly. The two looked at her again as she entered the room; now 
that her cloak was off, the new dress came into view. 

"Where did you get that dress, Rotha?" was her aunt's question. 

"Mrs. Mowbray got it for me." 

"Does she propose to send me the bill by and by?" 

"Of course not! Aunt Serena, Mrs. Mowbray never does mean things." 

"H'm! What induced her then to go to such expense for a girl she never 
saw before?" 

"I suppose she was sorry for me," said Rotha, with her heart swelling. 

"Sorry for you! May I ask, why?" 

"You know how I was dressed, aunt Serena; and you know how the other 
girls in school dress." 

"I know a great many of them have foolish mothers, who make themselves 
ridiculous by the way they let their children appear. It is a training of 
vanity. I should not have thought Mrs. Mowbray would lend herself to such 
nonsense." 

"But you do not think Antoinette has a foolish mother?" Rotha could not 
help saying. Mrs. Busby's daughter was quite as much dressed as the other 
girls. That she ought not to have made that speech, Rotha knew; but she 
made it. So much satisfaction she must have. It remained however 
completely ignored. 

"Who made your dress?" Mrs. Busby went on. 

"A dress-maker. One of the ladies went with me to have it cut." 

"What did you do Christmas?" Antoinette inquired. In reply to which, 
Rotha gave an account of her visit to the Old Coloured Home. 

"Just like Mrs. Mowbray!" was Mrs. Busby's comment. "She has no 
discretion." 

"Why do you say that, aunt Serena?" 

"Such an expenditure of money for nothing. What good would a little tea 
and a little tobacco do those people? It would not last more than a week 
or two; and then they are just where they were before." 

"But it did not cost so very much," objected Rotha. 

"Have you reckoned it up? Fifty or sixty half-pounds of tea, fifty or 
sixty pounds of sugar,--why, the sugar alone would be five or six 
dollars; and the tobacco, and the carriage hire; and I don't know what 
beside. All for nothing. That woman does not know what to do with money." 

"But is it not something, to make so many poor people happy, if even only 
for a little while?" 

"It would be a great deal better to give them something to do them good; 
a flannel petticoat, now, or a pair of warm socks. That would last. Or 
putting the money in the funds of the Institution, where it would go to 
their daily needs. I always think of that." 

"_Would_ it go to their daily needs? Some ladies got a cow for them once; 
and it just gave the matron cream for her tea, and they got no good of 
it." 

"I don't believe that at all!" exclaimed Mrs. Busby. "I know the matron; 
Mrs. Bothers; I know her, for I recommended her myself. I have no idea 
she would be guilty of any such impropriety. It is just the gossip in the 
house, that Mrs. Mowbray has taken up in her haste and swallowed." 

Rotha tried to hold her tongue. It was hard. 

"Did Mrs. Mowbray give _you_ anything Christmas?" Antoinette asked, 
pushing her inquiries. Rotha hesitated, but could find no way to answer 
without admitting the affirmative. 

"What?" was the immediate next question; and even Mrs. Busby looked with 
ill-pleased eyes to hear Rotha's next words. It seemed like making her 
precious things common, to tell of them to these unkind ears. Yet there 
was no help for it. 

"She gave me a travelling hand-bag." 

"What sort?" 

"Russia leather." 

"There, mamma!" Antoinette exclaimed. "Isn't that Mrs. Mowbray all over? 
When a morocco one, or a canvas one, would have done just as well." 

"As I said," returned Mrs. Busby. "Mrs. Mowbray does not know what to do 
with money. When are you going travelling, Rotha?" 

"I do not know. Some time in my life, I suppose." 

"What a ridiculous thing to give her!" pursued Antoinette. 

"Yes, I think so," her mother echoed. "Do not let yourself be deluded, 
Rotha, by presents of travelling bags or anything else. Your future life 
is not likely to be spent in pleasuring. What I can do for you in the way 
of giving you an education, will be all I can do; then you will have to 
make a living and a home for, yourself; and the easiest way you can do it 
will be by teaching. I shall tell Mrs. Mowbray to educate you for some 
post in which perhaps she can put you by and by; she or somebody else. So 
pack up your expectations; you will not need to do much of other sorts of 
packing." 

"You forget there is another person to be consulted, aunt Serena." 

"What other person?" said Mrs. Busby raising her head and fixing her 
observant eyes upon Rotha. 

"Mr. Southwode." 

"Mr. Southwode!" repeated the lady coldly. "I am ignorant what a stranger 
like him has to say about our family affairs." 

"He is not a stranger," said Rotha hotly. "He is the person I know best 
in the world, and love best. He is the person to whom I belong; that 
mother left me to; and it is for him, not for you, to say what I shall 
do, or what I shall be." 

Imprudent Rotha! But passion is always imprudent. 

"Very improper language!" said Mrs. Busby coldly. "When a young lady 
speaks so of a young gentleman, what are we to think?" 

"I am not a young lady," said Rotha; "and he is not a young gentleman; at 
least, not very young; and you may think the truth, which is what I say." 

"Do you mean that you have arranged to marry Mr. Southwode?" said the 
lady, fixing her keen little eyes upon Rotha's face. 

Rotha's face flamed, with mingled indignation and shame; she deigned no 
answer. 

"She doesn't speak, mamma," said Antoinette mischievously. "You may 
depend, that's the plan. Rotha and Mr. Southwode! I declare, that's too 
good! So that's the arrangement!" 

"I am so ashamed that I cannot speak to you," said Rotha in her passion 
and humiliation. "How can you say such wicked things! I wish Mr. 
Southwode was here to give you a proper answer." 

"What, you think he would take your part?" said her aunt. 

"He always did. He would now. He will yet, aunt Serena." 

"That is enough!" said Mrs. Busby, becoming excited a little on her part. 
"Hush, Antoinette; I will have no more of this very unedifying 
conversation. But you, Rotha, may as well know that you will never see 
Mr. Southwode again. He is engaged in England with the affairs of his 
father's business; he will probably soon marry; and then there is no 
chance whatever that he will ever return to America. So you had best 
consider whether it is worth while to offend the friends you have left, 
for the sake of one who is nothing to you any more." 

"I know Mr. Southwode better than that," was Rotha's answer. But the 
girl's face was purple with honest shame. 

"You expect he will come back and make you his wife?" said Mrs. Busby 
scornfully. 

"I expect he will come back and take care of me. You might as well talk 
of his making that pussy cat his wife. I am just a poor girl, and no 
more. But he will take care of me. I know he will, if I have to wait ten 
years first." 

"How old are you now?" 

"Sixteen, almost." 

"Then in ten years you will be twenty six. My dear, there is only one way 
in which Mr. Southwode could take care of you then; he must make you his 
wife, or leave it to somebody else to take care of you. He knows that as 
well as I do; and so he put you in my hands. Now let us make an end of 
this disgraceful scene. Before ten years are past, you will probably be 
the wife of somebody else. All this talk is very foolish." 

Rotha thought it _was_, but also thought the fault was not in her part of 
it. She sat glowing with confusion; she felt as if the blood would verily 
start through her skin; and angry in proportion. Still she was silent, 
though Antoinette laughed. 

"What a farce, mamma! To think of Rotha being in love with Mr. 
Southwode!" 

"Hold your tongue, Nettie." 

"To love, and to be in love, are two things," said Rotha hotly. "I do not 
know what being in love means; I _do_ know the other." 

"O mamma!--she doesn't know what it means!" 

"I told you to be quiet, Antoinette." 

"I didn't hear it, mamma. But I think you might reprove Rotha for saying 
what is not true." 

"That is what I never do," said Rotha. 

Mrs. Busby here interfered, and ordered Rotha to go up stairs to her room 
and stay there till she could command herself. Rotha went. 

"Mamma," said Antoinette then, "I do believe it is earnest about her and 
Mr. Southwode. In her mind, I mean. Did you see how she coloured?" 

"I should not be at all surprised," said, Mrs. Busby. 

"When is he coming back, mamma?" 

"I cannot say. I think he does not know himself. He writes that he is 
very busy at present." 

"But he will come back, you think?" 

"He says so. Antoinette, say nothing--not a word more--about him to 
Rotha. She has got her head turned, and it is best she should hear 
nothing whatever about him. I shall take good care that she never sees 
him again." 

"Mamma, _he_ don't care for her?" 

"Of course not. He is too much a man of the world." 

There was silence. 

"Mamma," Antoinette began after a pause, "do you think Rotha is 
handsome?" 

"She is very well," said Mrs. Busby in an indifferent tone. 

"They think at school, that is, the teachers do, that she is a beauty." 

"I dare say they have told her so." 

"And you see how Mrs. Mowbray has dressed her up." 

"I would not have sent her there, if I had known how it would be. 
However, I could not arrange for her so cheaply anywhere else." 

"What would you do, mamma, if Mr. Southwode were coming back?" 

"I should know, in that case. He will not come yet a while. Now 
Antoinette, let this subject alone." 

"Yes, mamma. You are a clever woman. I don't believe even Mr. Southwode 
could manage you." 

"I can manage Mr. Southwode!" said Mrs. Busby contentedly. 


CHAPTER XIX. 


A NEW DEPARTURE. 


Rotha found her room too cold to stay in, after the first heat of her 
wrath had passed off. The only warm place that she knew of, beside her 
aunt's dressing room, was the parlour; and after a little hesitation and 
shivering, she softly crept down the stairs. The warm, luxurious place 
was empty, of people, that is; and before the glowing grate Rotha sat 
down on the rug and looked at the situation. Or she looked at that and 
the room together; the latter made her incensed. It was so full of 
luxury. The soft plush carpet, the thick rug on which she was crouching; 
how they glowed warm and rich in the red shine of the fiery grate; how 
beautiful the crimson ground was, and how dainty the drab tints of the 
flowers running over it. How stately the curtains fell to the floor with 
their bands of drab and crimson; and the long mirror between them, 
redoubling all the riches reflected in it. What a magnificent extension 
table, really belonging in the dining room, but doing duty now as a large 
centre table, only it was shoved up in one corner; and upon it the gas 
fixture stood, with its green glass shaft and its cut glass shade full of 
bunches of grapes. Nothing else was on the table; not a book; not a 
trinket; and so all the rest of the room was bare of everything _but_ 
furniture. The furniture was elegant; but the chairs stood round the 
sides of the room with pitiless regularity and seemed waiting for 
somebody that would never come. Empty riches! nothing else. At Mrs. 
Mowbray's Rotha was in another world, socially and humanly. Books swarmed 
from the shelves and lay on every table; pictures hung on the walls and 
stood on the mantelpieces; here and there some lovely statuette delighted 
the eye by its beauty or the mind by its associations; flowers were sure 
to be in a glass or a dish somewhere; and all over there were traces of 
travel and of cultivation, in bits of marble, or bits of bronze, or 
photographs, or relics, telling of various ages and countries and 
nationalities. Here, in Mrs. Busby's handsome rooms, the pretty hanging 
lamps were exceedingly new, and they were the only bronze to be seen. 
Rotha studied it all and made these comparisons for a while, in a vague, 
purposeless reverie, while she was getting warm; but then her thoughts 
began to come to a point. Everything and everybody in this house was 
utterly unsympathetic to her; animate or inanimate; was this her home? In 
no sense of the word. Had not her aunt just informed her, in effect, that 
she had no home; that if she lived to grow up she must make her own way 
and earn her own bread, or have none. Antoinette would grow up to all 
this luxury, and in all this luxury; while she would be penniless, and 
homeless. Had she brought this upon herself? Well, she might have been 
more conciliating; but in her heart of hearts Rotha did not wish she had 
been other than she had been. A home or friends to be gained only by 
subserviency and truckling, she did not covet. There came a little 
whisper of conscience here, suggesting that a medium existed between 
truckling and defiance; that it was a supposable case that one might be 
so pure and fair in life and spirit, that the involuntary liking and 
respect of friends and acquaintances would follow of necessity. Was not 
Mr. Digby such a person? did not Mrs. Mowbray win good-will wherever she 
appeared? and Rotha was just enough to acknowledge to herself that her 
own demeanour had been nothing less than love-winning. Alas, how could 
she help it, unless she were indeed made over new; a different creature. 
How else could she bear what must be borne in this house? But in this 
house she was an outcast; they would have nothing to do with her more 
than to see her through her schooling; there was no shelter or refuge 
here to which she could ever look. Nor did she care for it, if only Mr. 
Digby would come again. Was he lost to her? Had he really forgotten her? 
would he forget his promise? Rotha did not believe it; her faith in him 
was steadfast; but she did conceive it possible that business and 
circumstances might keep him where his promise would be rendered of 
little avail; and her heart was wrung with distress at the thought of 
this possibility. Distress, which but for Mrs. Mowbray would have been 
desolation. Even as it was, Rotha felt very desolate, very blank; and she 
remembered again what Mr. Digby had said, about a time that might come 
when all other help would fail her and she would be _driven_ to seek God. 
All help had not failed yet; Mrs. Mowbray was a blessed good friend; but 
she was all, and Rotha had no claim upon her. I will not wait to be 
_driven_, she thought; I will not wait to be driven by extremity; things 
are bad enough as it is; I will seek God now.--I have been seeking him.--
Mr. Digby said I must keep on seeking, until I found. I will. But in the 
mean time I choose. I choose I will be a Christian, and that means, a 
servant of Jesus. I will be his servant, no matter what he bids me do. 
From this time on, I will be his servant. And then, some time, he will 
keep his word and take the stony heart out of me, and give me a new 
heart; a heart of flesh, I wonder how I came to be so hard!----

It was a step in advance of all Rotha had made yet. It was _the_ step, 
which introduces a sinner into the pathway of a Christian; before which 
that path is not entered, however much it may be looked at and thought 
desirable. Rotha had made her choice and given her allegiance; for she at 
once told it to the Lord and asked his blessing. 

And then, forthwith, came the trial of her sincerity. The cross was 
presented to her; which the Lord says those must take up and bear daily 
who would follow him. People think that crosses start up in every path; 
it is a mistake; they are only found in the way of following Christ and 
in consequence of such following. They are things that may be taken up 
and carried along; that _must_ be, if the Christian follows his Master; 
but that he may escape if he will turn aside from following him and go 
with the world. They are of many kinds, but all furnished by the world 
and Satan without, or by self-will within. The form which the cross took 
on this occasion for Rotha was of the latter kind. Conscience whispered a 
reminder--"If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest 
that thy brother hath ought against thee--" And instantly Rotha's whole 
soul rose up in protest. Make an apology to her aunt _now?_ Humble 
herself to confess herself wrong, when the wrong done to her was so 
manyfold greater? Bend to the hardness that would crush her? Justify 
another's evil by confessing her own? Self-will gave her an indignant 
"Impossible!" And conscience with quiet persistence held forth the cross. 
Rotha put both hands to her face and swayed up and down, with a kind of 
bodily struggle, which symbolized that going on in her mind. It was hard, 
it was hard! Nature cried out, with a repulsion that seemed 
unconquerable, against taking up this cross; yet there it was before her, 
in the inexorable hands of conscience, and Grace said, "Do it; take it up 
and bear it." And Nature and Grace fought. But all the while, down at the 
bottom of the girl's heart, was a certain knowledge that the cross must 
be borne; a certain prevision that she would yield and take it up; that 
she must, if her new determination meant anything; and Rotha felt she 
could not afford to let it vanish in air. She struggled, rebelled, 
repined, and ended with yielding. Her will submitted, and she said in her 
heart, "I must, and I will." 

There came a sort of tired lull over her then, which was grateful, after 
the battle. She considered _when_ she should do this thing, which it was  
so disagreeable to do. She could not quite make up her mind; but at the 
first opportunity, whenever that might be. Before she left the house at 
any rate, if even she had to make the opportunity she wanted. 

Then she thought she would return to her little cold room again, before 
anybody found her in the parlour. She was thoroughly warmed up, she had 
no more thinking to do just then; and if need be she would lay herself on 
the bed and cover herself with blankets, and so wait till luncheon time. 
As she went up stairs, something happened that she did not expect; there 
stole into her heart as it were a rill of gladness, which swelled and 
grew. "Yes, Jesus _is_ my King, she thought, and I am his child. O I 
don't care now for anything, for Jesus is my King, and He will help and 
take care." She went singing that Name in her heart all the way up 
stairs; for the first time in her life the sweetness of it was sweet to 
her; for the first time, the strength of it was something to lean upon. 
Ay, she was right; she had stepped over the narrow boundary line between 
the realm of the Prince of this world and the kingdom of Christ. She had 
submitted herself to the one Ruler; she was no longer under the dominion 
of the other. And with her first entrance into the kingdom of the Prince 
of peace, she had stepped out of the darkness into the light, and the air 
of that new country blew softly upon her. O wonderful! O sweet! O 
strange!--that such a change should be so quickly made, and yet so hard 
to make. Rotha had not fought all her battles nor got rid of all her 
enemies, but that the latter should have no more _dominion_ over her she 
felt confident. She was a different creature from the Rotha who had fled 
down stairs an hour or two before in wrath and bitterness. 

It was very cold up stairs. She lay down and covered herself with 
blankets and went to sleep. 

She was called to luncheon; got up and smoothed her hair as well as she 
could with her hands, and thought over what she had to do. She had to set 
her teeth and go at it like a forlorn-hope upon a battery, but she did 
not flinch at all. 

Mr. Busby was at luncheon, which was unusual and she had not counted 
upon. He was gracious. 

"How do you do, Rotha? Bless me, how you have improved! grown too, I 
declare." 

"There was no need of that, papa," said Antoinette, who was going to be a 
dumpy. 

"What has Mrs. Mowbray done to you? I really hardly know you again." 

"Fine feathers, papa." 

"Mrs. Mowbray has been very kind to me," Rotha managed to get in quietly. 

"She's growing handsome, wife!" Mr. Busby declared as he took his seat at 
the table. 

"You shouldn't say such things to young girls, Mr. Busby," said his wife 
reprovingly. 

"Shouldn't I? Why not? It is expected that they will hear enough of that 
sort of thing when they get a little older." 

"Why should they, Mr. Busby?" asked Rotha, innocently curious. 

"Yes indeed, why should they?" echoed her aunt. 

"Why should they? I don't know. As I said, it is expected. Young ladies 
usually demand such tribute from their admirers." 

"To tell them they are handsome?" said Rotha. 

"Yes," said Mr. Busby looking at her. "Ladies like it. Wouldn't you like 
it?" 

"I should not like it at all," said Rotha colouring with a little 
excitement. "I don't mind your saying so, Mr. Busby; you have a right to 
say anything you like to me; but if any stranger said it, I should think 
he was very impertinent." 

"You don't know much yet," said Mr. Busby. 

"There is small danger that Rotha will ever be troubled with that sort of 
impertinence," said Mrs. Busby, with that peculiar air of her head, which 
always meant that she thought a good deal more than she spoke out at the 
minute. 

"Maybe," returned her husband; "but she is going to deserve it, I can 
tell you. She'll be handsomer than ever Antoinette will." 

Which remark seemed to Rotha peculiarly unlucky for her just that day. 
Mrs. Busby reddened with displeasure though she held her tongue. 
Antoinette was not capable of such forbearance. 

"Papa!" she said, breaking out into tears, "that is very unkind of you!" 

"Well, don't snivel," said her father. "You are pretty enough, if you 
keep a smooth face; but don't you suppose there are other people in the 
world handsomer? Be sensible." 

"It is difficult not to be hurt, Mr. Busby," said his wife, pressing her 
lips together. 

"Mamma!" cried Antoinette in a very injured tone, "he called me 
'pretty'?" 

"Aint you?" said her father, becoming a little provoked. "I thought you 
knew you were. But Rotha is going to be a beauty. It is no injury to you, 
my child." 

"You seem to forget it may be an injury to Rotha, Mr. Busby." 

Whether Mr. Busby forgot it, or whether he did not care, he made no reply 
to this suggestion. 

"I _never_ tell Antoinette she will be a beauty," Mrs. Busby went on 
severely. 

"Well, I don't think she will. Not her style." 

"Is it my style to be ugly, papa?" cried the injured daughter. 

"Where will you see such a skin as Antoinette's?" asked the mother. 

"Skin isn't everything. My dear, don't be perverse," said Mr. Busby, in 
his husky tones which sounded so oddly. "Nettie's a pretty little girl, 
and I am glad of it; but don't you go to making a fool of her by making 
her think she is more. You had just as fine a skin when I married you; 
but that wasn't what I married you for." 

Rotha wondered what her aunt had married Mr. Busby for! However, if there 
had once been a peach-blossom skin at one end of the table, perhaps there 
had been also some corresponding charm at the other end; a sweet voice, 
for instance. Both equally gone now. Meantime Antoinette was crying, and 
Mrs. Busby looking more annoyed than Rotha had ever seen her. Her self-
command still did not fail her, and she pursed up her lips and kept 
silence. Rotha wanted a potatoe, but the potatoes were before Mrs. Busby, 
and she dared not ask for it. The silence was terrible. 

"What's the matter, Nettie?" said her father at length. "Don't be silly. 
I don't believe Rotha would cry if I told her her skin was brown." 

"You've said enough to please Rotha!" Antoinette sobbed. 

"And it is unnecessary to be constantly comparing your daughter with some 
one else," said Mrs. Busby. "Can't we talk of some other subject, more 
useful and agreeable?" 

Then Rotha summoned up her courage, with her heart beating. 

"May I speak of another subject?" she said. "Aunt Serena, I have been 
wanting to tell you--I have been waiting for a chance to tell you--that I 
want to beg your pardon." 

Mrs. Busby made no answer; it was her husband who asked, "For what?" 

"To-day, sir, and a good while ago when I was here--different times--I 
spoke to aunt Serena as I ought not; rudely; I was angry. I have been 
wanting to say so and to beg her pardon." 

"Well, that's all anybody can do," said Mr. Busby. "Enough's said about 
that. It's very proper, if you spoke improperly, to confess it and make 
an apology; that's all that is necessary. At least, as soon as Mrs. Busby 
has signified that she accepts the apology." 

But Mrs. Busby signified no such thing. She kept silence. 

"My dear, do you want Rotha to say anything more? Hasn't she apologized 
sufficiently?" 

"I should like to know first," Mrs. Busby began in constrained tones, 
"what motive prompted the apology?" 

"Motive!--" Mr. Busby began; but Rotha struck in. 

"My motive was, that I wanted to do right; and I knew it was right that I 
should apologize." 

"Then your motive was not that you were sorry for what you said?" Mrs. 
Busby inquired magisterially. 

Rotha was so astonished at this way of receiving her words that she 
hesitated. 

"I am sorry, certainly, that I should have spoken rudely," she said. 

"But not sorry for what you said?" 

"You are splitting hairs, my dear!" said Mr. Busby impatiently. 

"Let her answer--" said his wife. 

"I do not know how to answer," said Rotha slowly, and thinking how to 
choose her words. "I am sorry for my ill-manners and unbecoming 
behaviour; I beg pardon for that. Is there anything else to ask pardon 
for?" 

"You do not answer." 

"What else can I say?" Rotha returned with some spirit. "I am not 
apologizing for thoughts or feelings, but for my improper behaviour. 
Shall I not be forgiven?" 

"Then your _feeling_ is not changed?" said the lady with a sharp look at 
her. 

Rotha thought, It would be difficult for her feeling to change, under the 
reigning system. She did not answer. 

"Pish, pish, my dear!" said the master of the house,--"you are splitting 
straws. When an apology is made, you have nothing to do but to take it. 
Rotha has done her part; now you do yours. Has Santa Claus come your way 
this year, Rotha?" 

"Yes, sir." 

"What did he bring you, hey?" 

"Mrs. Mowbray gave me a Bible." 

"A Bible!" Mrs. Busby and her daughter both exclaimed at once; "you said 
a bag?" 

"I said true," said Rotha. 

"She gave you a Bible and a bag too?" 

"Yes." 

"What utter extravagance! Had you no Bible already?" 

"I had one, but an old one that had no references." 

"What did you want with references! That woman is mad. If she gives to 
everybody on the same scale, her pocket will be empty enough when the 
holidays are over." 

"But she gets a great deal of pleasure that way--" Rotha ventured. 

"You do, you mean." 

"Well, I am not so rich as Mrs. Mowbray," Mr. Busby said; "but I must 
remember you, Rotha." And he rose and went to a large secretary which 
stood in the room; for that basement room served Mr. Busby for his study 
at times when the table was not laid for meals. Three pair of eyes 
followed him curiously. Mr. Busby unlocked his secretary, opened a 
drawer, and took out thence a couple of quires of letter paper: 'sought 
out then some envelopes of the right size, and put the whole, two quires 
of paper and two packages of envelopes, into Rotha's astonished hands. 

"There, my dear," said he, "that will be of use to you." 

"What is she to do with it, papa?" Antoinette asked in an amused manner. 
"Rotha has nobody to write letters to." 

"That may be. She will have writing to do, however, of some kind. You 
write themes in school, don't you?" 

"But then, what are the envelopes for, papa? We don't put our 
compositions in envelopes." 

"Never mind, my dear; the envelopes belong to the paper. Rotha can keep 
them till she finds a use for them." 

"They won't match other paper, papa," said Antoinette. But Rotha 
collected her wits and made her acknowledgments, as well as she could. 

"Has Nettie shewn you her Christmas things?" 

"No, sir." 

"Well, it will please you to see them. You are welcome, my dear." 

Rotha carried her package of paper up stairs, wondering what experiences 
would till out the afternoon. Her aunt and cousin seemed by no means to 
be in a genial mood. They all went up to the dressing room and sat down 
there in silence; all, that is, except Mr. Busby. Rotha's thoughts went 
with a spring to her bag and her books at Mrs. Mowbray's. Two o'clock, 
said the clock over the chimney piece. In three hours more she might go 
home. 

Mrs. Busby took some work; she always had a basket of mending to do. 
Apologies did not seem to have wrought any mollification of her temper. 
Antoinette went down to the parlour to practise, and the sweet notes of 
the piano were presently heard rumbling up and down. Rotha sat and looked 
at her aunt's fingers. 

"Do you know anything about mending your clothes, Rotha?" Mrs. Busby at 
last broke the silence. 

"Not much, ma'am." 

"Suppose I give you a lesson. See here--here is a thin place on the 
shoulder of one of Mr. Busby's shirts; there must go a patch on there. 
Now I will give you a patch--" 

She sought out a piece of linen, cut a square from it with great 
attention to the evenness of the cutting, and gave it to Rotha. 

"It must go from here to here--see?" she said, shewing the place; "and 
you must lay it just even with the threads; it must be exactly even; you 
must baste it just as you want it; and then fell it down very neatly." 

Rotha thought, as she did not wear linen shirts, that this particular 
piece of mending was rather for her aunt's account than for her own. Lay 
it by the threads! a good afternoon's work. 

"I have no thimble,--" was all she said. 

Mrs. Busby sought her out an old thimble of her own, too big for Rotha, 
and it kept slipping off. 

The rest of the history of that afternoon is the history of a patch. How 
easy it is, to an unskilled hand, to put on a linen patch by a thread, 
let anyone who doubts convince herself by trying. Rotha basted it on, and 
took it off, basted it on again and took it off again; it would not lie 
smooth, or it would not lie straight; and when she thought it would do, 
and shewed it to her aunt, Mrs. Busby would point out that what 
straightness there was belonged only to one side, or that there was a 
pucker somewhere. Rotha sighed and began again. She did not like the job. 
Neither had she any pleasure in doing it for her aunt. Her impatience was 
as difficult to straighten out as the patch itself, but Rotha thought it 
was only the patch. Finally, and it was not long first, either, she began 
to grow angry. Was her aunt trying her, she questioned, to see if she 
would not forget herself and be ill-mannerly again? And then Rotha saw 
that the cross was presented to her anew, under another form. Patience, 
and faithful service, involving again the giving up of her own will. And 
here she was, getting angry already. Rotha dropped her work and hid her 
face in her hands, to send up one silent prayer for help. 

"You won't get your patch done that way," said Mrs. Busby's cold voice. 

Rotha took her hands down and said nothing, resolved that here too she 
would do what it was right to do. She gave herself to the work with 
patient determination, and arranged the patch so that even Mrs. Busby 
said it was well enough. Then she received a needle and fine thread and 
was instructed how to sew the piece on with very small stitches. But now 
the difficulty was over. Rotha had good eyes and stitched away with a 
good will; and so had the work done, just before the light failed too 
much for her to see any longer. She folded up the shirt, with a gleeful 
feeling that now the afternoon was over. Antoinette came up from her 
practising, or whatever else she had been doing, just as Rotha rose. 

"Aunt Serena," said the girl, and she said it pleasantly, "my stockings 
some of them want mending, and I have no darning cotton. If you would 
give me a skein of darning cotton, I could keep them in order." 

"Do you know how?" 

"Yes, ma'am, I know how to do that. Mother taught me. I can darn 
stockings." 

Mrs. Busby rummaged in her basket and handed to Rotha a ball of cotton 
yarn. 

"This is too coarse, aunt Serena," Rotha said after examining it. 

"Too coarse for what?" 

"To mend my stockings with." 

"It is not too coarse to mend mine." 

"But it would not go through the stitches of mine," said Rotha looking 
up. "It would tear every time." 

"How in the world did you come to have such ridiculous stockings? Such 
stockings are expensive. I do not indulge myself with them; and I might, 
better than your mother." 

"Poor people always think they must have things fine, I suppose," said 
Antoinette. "I wonder what sort of shoes she has, to go with the 
stockings?" 

The blood flushed to Rotha's face; and irritation pricked her to retort 
sharply; yet she did not wish to speak Mr. Digby's name again. She 
hesitated. 

"Whose nonsense was that?" asked Mrs. Busby; "yours, or your mother's? I 
never heard anything equal to it in my life. I dare say they are 
Balbriggans. I should not be at all surprised!" 

"I do not know what they are," said Rotha, striving to hold in her wrath, 
"but they are not my mother's nonsense, nor mine." 

"Whose then?" said Mrs. Busby sharply. 

Rotha hesitated. 

"Mrs. Mowbray's!" cried Antoinette. "It is Mrs. Mowbray again! Mamma, I 
should think you would feel yourself insulted. Mrs. Mowbray is 
ridiculous! As if you could not get proper stockings for Rotha, but she 
must put her hand in." 

"I think it is very indelicate of Mrs. Mowbray; and Rotha is welcome to 
tell her I say so," Mrs. Busby uttered with some discomposure. Rotha's 
discomposure on the other hand cooled, and a sense of amusement got up. 
It is funny, to see people running hard after the wrong quarry; when they 
have no business to be running at all. However, she must speak now. 

"It is not Mrs. Mowbray's nonsense either," she said. "Mr. Southwode got 
them for me." 

"Mr. Southwode!"--Mrs. Busby spoke out those two words, and the rest of 
her mind she kept to herself. 

"Mamma," said Antoinette, "Mr. Southwode is as great a goose as other 
folks. But then, gentlemen don't know things--how should they?" 

"You are a goose yourself, Antoinette," said her mother. 

"Have you no cotton a little finer? I mean a good deal finer?" said 
Rotha, going back to the business question. 

"There are no stockings in my house to need it." 

"Then what shall I do? There are two or three little holes in the toes." 

"I will tell you. I will get you some stockings fit for you; and you may 
bring those to me. I will take care of them till you want them, which 
will not be for a long time." 

Rotha turned cold with dismay. This was usurpation and oppression at 
once; against both which it was in her nature to rebel furiously. She was 
fond of the stockings, as of everything which Mr. Southwode had got for 
her; moreover they suited her, and she liked the delicate comfort of 
them. And though nothing less than suspicious, Rotha had a sudden feeling 
that the time for her to see her stockings again would never come; they 
would be put to other use, and Mrs. Busby would think it was a fair 
exchange. _She_ would wear the coarse and Antoinette would have the fine. 
There was a terrible tempest in Rotha's soul, which nevertheless she did 
not suffer to burst out. She would appeal to Mrs. Mowbray. She took leave 
somewhat curtly, carrying her two quires of paper with her, but leaving 
the coarse darning cotton which she did not intend to use. 


CHAPTER XX. 


STOCKINGS. 


Rotha went home in a storm of feelings, so tumultuous and conflicting 
that her eyes were dropping tears all the way. All the strength there was 
in her rose against this new injury; while a feeling of powerlessness 
made her tremble lest after all, she would be obliged to submit to it. 
She writhed under the bonds of circumstance. Could Mrs. Mowbray protect 
her? and if not, must her fine stockings go, to be worn upon her cousin's 
feet, or her aunt's? The up-rising surges of Rotha's rage were touched 
and coloured by just one ray of light; she had entered a new service, she 
had therewith got a new Protector and Helper. That thought made the tears 
come. She was no longer a hopeless slave to her own passions; there was 
deliverance. "Jesus is my King now! he will take care of me, and he will 
help me to do right." So she thought as she ran along. For, precisely 
what Adam and Eve lost by disobedience, in one respect, their descendants 
regain as soon as they return to their allegiance and become obedient. 
The riven bond is united again; the lost protection is restored; they 
have come "from the power of Satan, to God"; and under his banner which 
now floats over them, the motto of which is "Love," they are safe from 
all the wiles and the force of the enemy. Rotha was feeling this already; 
already rejoicing in the new peace which is the very air of the kingdom 
she had entered; glad that she was no longer to depend on herself, to 
fight her battles alone. For between her aunt and her own heart, the 
battle threatened to be hot. 

It was dinner-time when she got home, and no time to speak to Mrs. 
Mowbray. And Rotha had to watch a good while before she could find a 
chance to speak to her in private. At last in the course of the evening 
she got near enough to say in a low tone, 

"Mrs. Mowbray, can I see you for a minute by and by?" 

"Is it business?" the lady asked in the same tone, at the same time 
opening a Chinese puzzle box and putting it before another of her pupil-
guests. 

"It is business to me," Rotha answered. 

"Troublesome business?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 

"We cannot talk it over here, then. I will come to your room by and by." 

Which indeed she did. She came when the work of the day was behind her; 
and what a day! She had entertained some of her girls with a visit to the 
book-making operations of the American Bible Society; she had taken 
others to a picture gallery; she had packed a box to send to a poor 
friend in the country; she had looked over a bookseller's stock to see 
what he had that could be of service to her in her work; she had paid two 
visits to relations in the city; she had kept the whole group of her 
pupils happily entertained all the evening with pictures and puzzles; and 
now she came to be a sympathizing, patient, helpful friend to one little 
tired heart. She came in cheery and bright; looked to see if the room 
were comfortable and entirely arranged as it should be, and then took a 
seat and an air of expectant readiness. Was she tired? Perhaps--but it 
did not appear. What if she were tired? if here was more work that God 
had given her to do. She did not shew fatigue, in look or manner. She 
might have just risen after a night's sleep. 

"Are you comfortable here, my dear?" 

"O very, ma'am, thank you." 

"Now what is the business you want to speak about?" 

"I want you to tell me what I ought to do!" 

"About what? Have you had a pleasant day?" 

"Not at all pleasant." 

"How happened that?" 

"It was partly my fault." 

"Not altogether?" Mrs. Mowbray asked with a smile that was very kindly. 

"I do not think it was all my fault, ma'am. Partly it was. I lost my 
temper, and got angry, and said what I thought, and aunt Serena banished 
me. Then at luncheon I apologized and asked pardon; I did all I could. 
But that wasn't the trouble. Aunt Serena told me to bring her all my nice 
stockings, and she would get me coarser and commoner ones. Must I do it?" 
And Rotha's eyes looked up anxiously into the lace of her oracle. 

"What made her give you such an order?" 

Rotha hesitated, and said at last she did not know. 

"Are your stockings too fine for proper protection to your feet in cold 
weather?" 

"O, no, ma'am! nothing was said about _that_ at all; only I am a poor 
girl, and have no business to have fine stockings." 

"How came you to have them so fine?" 

"They were given to me. They were got for me; by a friend who was not 
poor. Are they not mine now?" 

"And you say your aunt wants them?" 

"Says I must bring them to her, and she will get me some more fit for 
me." 

"What does she want with them?" cried Mrs. Mowbray sharply. 

"She says _she_ has none so fine, and she will keep them till I want 
them; but when would that be?" 

"What did you say?" 

"I said nothing. I was too terribly angry. I got out of the house without 
saying anything. It all came from asking her for some darning cotton to 
mend them; and what she gave me was too coarse." 

"I have got fine darning cotton," said Mrs. Mowbray. "I will give you 
some." 

"Then you do not think I need let her have them? Dear Mrs. Mowbray, has 
she any _right_ to take my things from me?" 

"I should say not," Mrs. Mowbray answered. 

"Then you think I may refuse when she asks me for them?" said Rotha, 
joyfully. 

"What is your rule of action, my dear?" 

"My rule?" said Rotha, growing grave again. "I think, Mrs. Mowbray, I 
want to do what is right." 

"There is a further question. Do you want to do what I think right, or 
what you think right, or--what God thinks right?" 

"I want to do _that_," said Rotha, with her heart beating very 
disagreeably. "I want to do what God thinks right." 

"Then I advise you, my dear, to ask him." 

"Ask him what, madame?" 

"Ask what you ought to do in the circumstances. I confess I am not ready 
with the answer. My first feeling is with you, that your aunt has no 
right to take such a step; but, my dear, it is sometimes our duty to 
suffer wrong. And you are under her care; she is the nearest relative you 
have; you must consider what is due to her in that connection. She stands 
to you in the place of your parents--" 

"O no, ma'am!" Rotha exclaimed. "Never! Not the least bit." 

"Not as entitled to affection, but as having a right to respect and 
observance. You cannot change that fact, my dear. Whether you love her or 
not, you owe her observance; and within certain limits, obedience. She 
stands in that place with regard to you." 

"But my own mother gave me to Mr. Southwode." 

"He could not take care of you properly; as he shewed that he was aware 
when he placed you under the protection of your aunt." 

"She will never protect me," said Rotha. "She will do the other thing." 

"Well, my dear, that does not change the circumstances," said Mrs. 
Mowbray rising. 

"Then you think"--said Rotha in great dismay--"you think I ought to pray, 
to know what I ought to do?" 

"Yes. I know no better way. If you desire to do the will of the Lord, and 
not your own." 

"But how shall I get the answer?" 

"Look in the Bible for it. You will get it. And now, good night, my dear 
child! Don't sit up to-night to think about it; it is late. Start fresh 
to-morrow. You have a good time for that sort of study, now in the 
holidays." 

She gave a kind embrace to Rotha; and the girl went to bed soothed and 
comforted. True, her blood boiled when she thought of her stockings; but 
she tried not to think of them, and soon was beyond thinking of anything. 

The next day was filled with a white snow storm; with flurries of wind 
and thick, driving atoms of frost, that chased everybody out of the 
streets who was brought thither by anything short of stern business. A 
lovely day to make the house and one's own room seem cosy and cheery. It 
was positive delight to hear the sharp crystals beat on the window panes 
and to see the swirling eddies and gusts of them as the wind carried them 
by, almost in mass. It made quiet and warmth and comfort feel so much the 
more delicious. Rotha had retreated to her room after breakfast and 
betaken herself to her appointed work. 

Her Bible had a new look to her. It was now not simply a book Mrs. 
Mowbray had given her; that was half lost in the feeling that it was a 
book God had given her. As such, something very dear and reverent, 
precious and wonderful, and most sweet. Not any longer an awesome book of 
adverse law, with which she was at cross purposes; but a letter of love, 
containing the mind and will of One whom it was her utter pleasure to 
obey. The change was so great, Rotha lingered a little, in admiring 
contemplation of it; and then betook herself to the business in hand. How 
should she do? She thought the best way would be to ask earnestly for 
light on her duty; then to open the Bible and see what she could find. 
She prayed her prayer, honestly and earnestly, but she hoped, quite as 
earnestly, that it would not be her duty to let her aunt have her fine 
stockings. 

And here lies the one great difficulty in the way of finding what the 
Bible really says on any given subject which concerns our action. Looking 
through a red veil, you do not get the right colour of blue; and looking 
through blue, you will easily turn gold into green. Or, to change the 
figure; if your ears are filled with the din of passion or the clamour of 
desire, the soft, fine voice of the Spirit in the word or in the heart is 
easily drowned and lost. So says F?nelon, and right justly--"O how rare a 
thing is it, to find a soul still enough to hear God speak!" 

The other supposed difficulty, that the Bible does not speak directly of 
the subject about which you are inquiring, does not hold good. It may be 
true; nevertheless, as one or two notes, clearly heard, will give you the 
whole chord, even so it is with this heavenly music of the Lord's will. 
Rotha did not in the least know where to look for the decision she 
wanted; she thought the best thing therefore would be to go on with that 
same chapter of Matthew from which she had already got so much light. She 
had done what in her lay to be "reconciled to her brother," alias her 
aunt; she was all ready to go further. Would the next saying be as hard? 

She read on, for a number of verses, without coming to anything that 
touched her present purpose. Then suddenly she started. What was this? 

"Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for 
a tooth: but I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall 
smite thee on the one cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man 
will sue thee at the law and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak 
also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain."--

Rotha stared at the words first, as if they had risen out of the ground 
to confront her; and then put both hands to her face. For there was 
conflict again; her whole soul in a tumult of resistance and rebellion. 
Let her aunt do her this wrong! But there it stood written--"That ye 
resist not evil." "O why, thought Rotha, why may not evil be resisted? 
And people _do_ resist it, and go to law, and do everything they can, to 
prevent being trampled upon? Must one let oneself be trampled upon? Why? 
Justice should be done; and this is not justice. I wish Mrs. Mowbray 
would come in, that I might ask her! I do _not_ understand it." 

At the moment, as if summoned by her wish, Mrs. Mowbray tapped at the 
door; she wanted to get something out of a closet in that room, and 
apologized for disturbing Rotha. 

"You are not disturbing--O Mrs. Mowbray, are you _very_ busy?" cried the 
girl. 

"Always busy, my dear," said the lady pleasantly. "I am always busy. What 
is it?" 

"Nothing--if you are _too_ busy," said Rotha. 

"I am never too busy when you want my help. Do you want help now?" 

"O very much! I can_not_ understand things." 

"Well, wait a moment, and I will come to you." 

Rotha straightened herself up, taking hope; set a chair for Mrs. Mowbray, 
and received her with a face already lightened of part of its shadow of 
care. 

"It is this, Mrs. Mowbray. I was looking, as you told me, to see what I 
ought to do; and look here,--I came to this:--'That ye resist not evil.' 
Why? Is it not right to resist evil?" 

"Read the passage; read the whole passage, to the end of the chapter." 

Rotha read it; the verses she had been studying, and then, "Ye have heard 
that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thine 
enemy: but I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, 
do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use 
you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which 
is in heaven:"--Rotha read on to the end of the chapter. 

"My dear," said Mrs. Mowbray then, "do you think you could love your 
enemies and pray for them, if you were busy fighting and resisting them?" 

"I do not know," said Rotha. "Perhaps not. I do not think it would be 
easy any way." 

"It is not easy. Do you not see that it would be simply impossible to do 
the two things at once? You must take the one course or the other; either 
do your best to repel force with force, resist, struggle, go to law, give 
people what they deserve; or, you must go with your hands full of 
forgiveness and your heart full of kindness, passing by offence and even 
suffering wrong, if perhaps you may conquer evil with good, and win 
people with love, and so save them from great loss. It is worth bearing a 
little loss oneself to do that." 

"But is it _right_ to let people do wrong things and not stop them? Isn't 
it right to go to law?" 

"Sometimes, where the interests of others are at stake. But if it is only 
a little discomfort for you or me at the moment, I think the Bible says, 
Forgive,--let it pass,--and love and pray the people into better 
behaviour, if you can." 

"I never can, aunt Serena," said Rotha low. 

"My dear, you cannot tell." 

"Then I ought to let her have my stockings?" Rotha said again after a 
pause. 

"That is a question for you to judge of. But can you forgive and love 
her, and resist her at the same time? You could, if what she asks 
demanded a wrong action from you; but it is only a disagreeable one." 

"Is it only because it is so disagreeable, that it seems to me so wrong?" 

"I think it _is_ wrong in your aunt; but that is not the question we have 
to deal with." 

"And if one man strikes another man--do you think he ought to give him a 
chance to strike him again?" 

"What do the words _say?_" 

Rotha looked at the words, as if they ought to mean something different 
from what they said. 

"I will tell you a true story," Mrs. Mowbray went on. "Something that 
really once happened; and then you can judge. It was in a large 
manufacturing establishment, somewhere out West. The master of the 
establishment--I think he was an Englishman?-had occasion to reprove one 
of his underlings for something; I don't know what; but the man got into 
a great rage and struck him a blow flat in the face. The master turned 
red, and turned pale; stood still a moment, and then offered the man the 
other side of his face for another blow. The man's fist was already 
clenched to strike,--but at seeing that, he wavered, his arm fell down, 
and he burst into tears. He was conquered.--

"What do you think?" 

"He was a very extraordinary man!" said Rotha. 

"Which?" said Mrs. Mowbray smiling. 

"O I mean the master." 

"But what do you think of that plan of dealing with an injury?" 

"But does the Bible really mean that we should do so?" 

"What does it _say_, my dear? It is always quite safe to conclude that  
God means what he says." 

"People don't act as if they thought so." 

"What then?" 

"Mrs. Mowbray, I don't see how a man _could_." 

"By the grace of God." 

"I suppose, by that one could do anything," said Rotha thoughtfully. 

Silence fell, which Mrs. Mowbray would not break. She watched the girl's 
face, which shewed thoughts working and some struggle going on. The 
struggle was so absorbing, that Rotha did not notice the silence, nor 
know how long it lasted. 

"Then--you think--" she began,--"according to--that I ought--" 

The words came slowly and with some inner protest. Mrs. Mowbray rose. 

"It is no matter what I think. The decision must be made by yourself 
independently. Study it, and pray over it; and I pray you may decide 
rightly." 

"But if _you_ thought, Mrs. Mowbray--" Rotha began. 

"It is not I whom you have to obey, my child. I think your case is not an 
easy one; it would not be for me; I believe it would rouse all the 
wickedness there is in me; but, as you said, by the grace of God one can 
do anything. I shall pray for you, my dear." 

She left the room, though Rotha would fain have detained her. It was much 
easier to talk than to act; and now she was thrown back upon the 
necessity for action. She sat leaning over the Bible, looking at the 
words; uncompromising, simple, clear words, but so hard, so hard, to 
obey! "If he compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain." And then 
Rotha's will took such a hold of her stockings, that it seemed as if she 
never could let them go. It was injustice! it was oppression! it was 
extortion! it was more, something else that Rotha could not define. Yes, 
true, but--"if he take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also." 

A long while Rotha worried over those words; and then stole into her mind 
another thought, coming with the subtlety and the peace of a sunbeam.--It 
is not for aunt Serena; it is for Christ; you are his servant, and these 
are his commands.--It is true! thought Rotha, with a sudden casting off 
of the burden that was upon her; I _am_ his servant; and since this is his 
pleasure, why, it is mine. Aunt Serena may have the things; what does it 
signify? but I have a chance to please God in giving them up; and here I 
have been trying as hard as I could to fight off from doing it. A pretty 
sort of a Christian I am! But--and O what a joy came with the 
consciousness--I think the Lord is beginning to take away my stony heart. 

The feeling of being indeed a servant of the Lord Christ seemed to 
transform things to Rotha's vision. And among other things, the words of 
the Bible, which were suddenly become very bright and very sweet to her. 
The question in hand being settled, and no fear of the words any longer 
possessing her, it occurred to her to take her "Treasury of Scripture 
Knowledge" and see what more there might be about this point of not 
resisting evil. She found first a word back in Leviticus---- 

"Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy 
people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."--Lev. xix. 18. 

It struck Rotha's conscience. This went even further than turning the 
cheek and resigning the cloak; (or she thought so) for it forbade her 
withal to harbour any grudge against the wrong doer. Not have a grudge 
against her aunt, after giving up the stockings to her? Yet Rotha saw and 
acknowledged presently that only so could the action be thoroughly sound 
and true; only so could there be no danger of nullifying it by some 
sudden subsequent action. But bear _no grudge?_ Well, by the grace of 
God, perhaps. Yes, that could do everything. 

She went on, meanwhile, and read some passages of David's life; telling 
how he refused to take advantage of opportunities to avenge himself upon 
Saul, who was seeking his life at the time. The sweet, noble, humble 
temper of the young soldier and captain, appeared very manifest and very 
beautiful; at the same time, Rotha thought she could easier have forgiven 
Saul, in David's place, than in her own she could forgive Mrs. Busby. 
Some other words about not avenging oneself she passed over; _that_ was  
not the point with her; and then she came to a word in Romans,----

"If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all 
men." 

That confirmed her decision, and loudly. If she would live peaceably with 
Mrs. Busby, no doubt she must do her will in the matter of the stockings. 
But "with all men," and "as much as lieth in you"; those were weighty 
words, well to be pondered and laid to heart. Evidently the Lord would 
have his servants to be quiet people and kindly; not so much bent on 
having their own rights, as careful to put no hindrance in the way of 
their good influence and example. And I am one of his people, thought 
Rotha joyously. I will try all I can. And it is very plain that I must 
not bear a grudge in my heart; for if it was there, I could never keep it 
from coming out. 

Then she read a verse in 1 Corinthians vi. 7. "Now therefore there is 
utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. _Why do 
ye not rather take wrong?_ why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be 
defrauded?" It did not stumble her now. Looking upon all these 
regulations as opportunities to make patent her service of Christ and to 
please him, they won quite a pleasant aspect. The words of the hymn, so 
paradoxical till one comes to work them out, were already verified in her 
experience-- 

   "He always wins who sides with God; 
   To him no chance is lost. 
   _God's will is sweetest to him when 
   It triumphs at his cost_." 


Ay, for then he tastes the doing of it, pure, and unmixed with the 
sweetness of doing his own will. 

And then came,--"Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing; but 
contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye 
should inherit a blessing."--1 Peter iii. 9. 

"Contrariwise, _blessing_." According to that, she must seek out some way 
of helping or pleasing her aunt, as a return for her behaviour about the 
stockings. And strangely enough, there began to come into her heart, for 
the first time, a feeling of pity for Mrs. Busby. Rotha did not believe 
she was near as happy, with all her money, as her little penniless self 
with her Bible. No, nor half as rich. What could she do, to shew good 
will towards her? 

There was nobody at the dinner table that evening, who looked happier 
than Rotha; there was nobody who enjoyed everything so well. For I am the 
servant of Christ she said to herself. A little while later, in the 
library, whither they all repaired, she was again lost in the 
architecture of the 13th and 14th centuries, and in studying Fergusson. 
She started when Mrs. Mowbray spoke to her. 

"How did you determine your question, my dear?" 

Rotha lifted her head, threw back the dark masses of her hair, and 
cleared the arches of Rivaulx out of her eyes. 

"O,--I am going to let her have them," she said. 

"What she demanded?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 

"How did you come to that conclusion?" 

"The words seemed plain, madame, when I came to look at them. That about 
letting the cloak go, you know; and, 'If it be possible, . . . live 
peaceably with all men.' If I was going to live peaceably, I knew I 
must." 

"And you are inclined now to live peaceably with the person in question?" 

"O yes, ma'am," said Rotha. She smiled frankly in Mrs. Mowbray's face as 
she said it; and she was puzzled to know what made that lady's eyes 
swiftly fill with tears. They filled full. Rotha went back to her 
stereoscope. 

"What have you there, my dear?" 

"O this old abbey, Mrs. Mowbray; it is just a ruin, but it is so 
beautiful! Will you look?" 

Mrs. Mowbray put the glass to her eye. 

"It is a severe style--" she remarked. 

"Is it?" 

"And it was built at a severe time of religious strictness in the order 
to which it belonged. They were a colony from Clairvaux; and the prior of 
Clairvaux, Bernard, was the most remarkable man of his time; remarkable 
through his goodness. In all Europe there was not another man, crowned or 
uncrowned, who had the social and political power of that man. Yet he was 
a simple monk, and devoted to God's service." 

"I do not know much about monks," Rotha remarked. 

"You can know a good deal about them, if you will read that work of 
Montalembert on the monks of the Middle Ages. Make haste and learn to 
read French. You must know that first." 

"Is it in French?" 

"Yes." 

Rotha thought as she laid down Rivaulx and took up Tintern abbey, that 
there was a good deal to learn. Pier next word was an exclamation. 

"O how beautiful, how beautiful! It is just a door, Mrs. Mowbray, 
belonging to Tintern abbey, a door and some ivy; but it is so pretty! How 
came so many of these beautiful abbeys and things to be in ruins?" 

"Henry the Eighth had the monks driven out and the roofs stripped off. 
When you take the roof off a building, the weather gets in, and it goes 
to ruin very fast." 

Henry the Eighth was little more than a name yet to Rotha. "What did he 
do that for?" she asked. 

"I believe he wanted to turn the metal sheathing of the roofs into money. 
And he wanted to put down the monastic orders." 

"Mrs. Mowbray, this abbey was pretty old before it was made a ruin." 

"How do you know?" 

"Because, I see it. Only half of the door was accustomed to be opened; 
and the stone before the door on that side is ever so much worn away. So 
many feet had gone in and out there." 

Mrs. Mowbray took the glass to look. "I never noticed that before," she 
said. 

So went the days of the vacation, pleasantly and sweetly after that. 
Rotha enjoyed herself hugely. She had free access to the library, which 
was rich in engravings and illustrations, and in best works of reference 
upon every subject that she could wish to look into. Sometimes she went 
driving with Mrs. Mowbray. Morning, evening, and day were all pleasant to 
her; the leisure was busily filled up, and the time fruitful. With the 
other young ladies remaining in the house for the holidays, she had 
little to do; little beyond what courtesy demanded. Their pleasures and 
pursuits were so diverse from her own that there could be little 
fellowship. One was much taken up with shopping and visits to her mantua-
maker; several were engrossed with fancy work; some went out a great 
deal; all had an air of dawdling. They fell away from Rotha, quite 
naturally; all the more that she was getting the name of being a 
favourite of Mrs. Mowbray's. But Rotha as naturally fell away from them. 
None of them cared for the stereoscope, or shared in the least her 
pleasure in the lines and mouldings and proportions of glorious 
architecture. And Rotha herself could not have talked of lines or 
mouldings; she only knew that she found delight; she did not know why. 


CHAPTER XXI. 


EDUCATION. 


"My dear," said Mrs. Mowbray, the last day of  December, "would you like 
to have the little end room?" 

Rotha looked up. "Where Miss Jewett sleeps?" 

"That room. I am going to place Miss Jewett differently. Would you like 
to have it?" 

"For myself?"--Rotha's eyes brightened. 

"It is only big enough for one. You may have it, if you like. And move 
your things into it to-day, my dear. The young ladies who live in this 
room will be coming back the day after to-morrow." 

With indescribable joy Rotha obeyed this command. The room in question 
was one cut off from the end of a narrow hall; very small accordingly; 
there was just space for a narrow bed, a wardrobe, a little washstand, a 
small dressing table with drawers, and one chair. But it was privacy and 
leisure; and Rotha moved her clothes and books and took possession that 
very day. Mrs. Mowbray looked in, just as she had finished her 
arrangements. 

"Are you going to be comfortable here?" she said. "My dear, I thought, in 
that other room you would have no chance to study your Bible." 

"Thank you, dear Mrs. Mowbray! I am so delighted." 

"There is a rule in Miss Manners' school at Meriden, that at the ringing 
of a bell, morning and evening, each young lady should go to her room to 
be alone with her Bible for twenty minutes. The house is so arranged that 
every one can be alone at that time. It is a good rule. I wish I could 
establish it here; but it would do more harm than it would good in my 
family. My dear, your aunt has sent word that she wishes to see you." 

Rotha's colour suddenly started. "I suppose I know what that means!" she 
said. 

"The stockings?" 

"Yes, ma'am." 

"What are you going to do?" 

"O I am going to take them." 

"And, my dear," said Mrs. Mowbray, kissing Rotha, "pray for grace to do 
it _pleasantly_." 

Yes, that was something needed, Rotha felt as she went through the 
streets. Her heart was a little bitter. 

She found her aunt's house in a state of preparation; covers off the 
drawing-room furniture, greens disposed about the walls, servants busy. 
Mrs. Busby was in her dressing-room; and there too, on the sofa, in mere 
wantonness of idleness, for she was not sick, lay Antoinette; a somewhat 
striking figure, in a dress of white silk, and looking very pretty 
indeed. Also looking as if she knew it. 

"Good morning, Rotha!" she cried. "This is the dress I am to wear to-
morrow. I'm trying it on." 

"She's very ridiculous," Mrs. Busby remarked, in a smiling tone of 
complacency. 

"What is to be to-morrow?" Rotha inquired pleasantly. The question 
brought Antoinette up to a sitting posture. 

"Why don't you know?" she said. "_Don't_ you know? Mamma, is it possible 
anybody of Rotha's size shouldn't know what day New Year's is?" 

"New Year's! O yes, I remember; people make visits, don't they?" 

"Gentlemen; and ladies receive visits. It is the greatest day of all the 
year, if you have visitors enough. And I eat supper all day long. We have 
a supper table set, and hot oysters, and ice cream, and coffee, and cake; 
and I never want any dinner when it comes." 

"That is a very foolish way," said her mother. "Did you bring the 
stockings, Rotha?" 

Silently, she could not say anything "pleasantly" at the moment, Rotha 
delivered her package of stockings neatly put up. Mrs. Busby opened and 
examined, Antoinette running up to look too. 

"Mamma! how ridiculously nice!" she exclaimed. "You never gave me any as 
good as those." 

"No, I should hope not," said her mother. "Here are eleven pair, Rotha." 

"Yes, ma'am." 

"Were there not twelve?" 

"Yes, ma'am. The other pair I have on." 

"They are a great deal too thin for this time of year. Here are some 
thicker I have got for you. Sit down and put a pair of these on, and let 
me have those." 

Every fibre of her nature rebelling, Rotha sat down to unbutton her boot. 
It was hard to keep silence, to speak "pleasantly" impossible. Tears were 
near. Rotha bent over her boot and prayed for help. And then the thought 
came, fragrant and sweet,--I am the servant of Christ; this is an 
opportunity to obey and please _him_. 

And with that she was content. She put on the coarse stockings, which 
felt extremely uncomfortable. But then she could not get her boot on. She 
tugged at it in vain. 

"It is no use," she said at last. "It will not go on, aunt Serena. I 
cannot wear my boots with these stockings." 

"The boots must be too small," said Mrs. Busby. She came herself, and 
pushed and pinched and pulled at the boot. It would not go on. 

"What do you get such tight-fitting boots for?" she said, sitting back on 
the floor, quite red in the face. 

"They are not tight; they fit me perfectly." 

"They won't go on!" 

"That is the stockings." 

"Nonsense! The stockings are proper; the boots are improper. What did you 
pay for them?" 

"I did not get them." 

"What did they cost, then? I suppose you know." 

"Six and a half." 

"I can get you for three and a half what will do perfectly," said Mrs. 
Busby, rising up from the floor. But she sat down, and did not fetch any 
boots, as Rotha half expected she would. 

"What are you going to do to-morrow, Rotha?" her cousin asked. 

"I don't know. What I do every day, I suppose," Rotha answered, trying to 
make her voice clear. 

"What is Mrs. Mowbray going to do?" 

"I do not know." 

"I wonder if she receives? Mamma, do you fancy many people would call on 
Mrs. Mowbray?" 

"Why not?" Rotha could not help asking. 

"O, because she is a school teacher, you know. Mamma, do you think there 
would?" 

"I dare say. Your father will go, I have no doubt." 

"O, because she teaches me. And other fathers will go, I suppose. What a 
stupid time they will have!" 

"Who?" said Rotha. 

"All of you together. I am glad I'm not there." 

"I shall not be there either. I shall be up stairs in my room." 

"Looking at your Russia leather bag. Why didn't you bring it for us to 
see? But your room means three or four other people's room, don't it?" 

It was on Rotha's lips to say that she had a room to herself; she shut 
them and did not say it. A sense of fun began to mingle with her inward 
anger. Here she was in her stockings, unable to get her feet into her 
boots. 

"How am I to get home, ma'am?" she asked as demurely as she could. 

"Antoinette, haven't you a pair of old boots or shoes, that Rotha could 
get home in?" 

"What should I do when I got there? I could not wear old boots about the 
house. Mrs. Mowbray would not like it." 

"Nettie, do you hear me?" Mrs. Busby said sharply. "Get something of 
yours to put on Rotha's feet." 

"If she can't wear her own, she couldn't wear mine--" said Miss Nettie, 
unwilling to furnish positive evidence that her foot was larger than her 
cousin's. Her mother insisted however, and the boots were brought. They 
went on easily enough. 

"But these would never do to walk in," objected Rotha. "My feet feel as 
if each one had a whole barn to itself. Look, aunt Serena. And I could 
not go to the parlour in them." 

"I don't see but you'll have to, if you can't get your own on. You'll 
have worse things than that to do before you die. I wouldn't be a baby, 
and cry about it." 

For Rotha's lips were trembling and her eyes were suddenly full. Her neat 
feet transformed into untidy, shovelling things like these! and her 
quick, clean gait to be exchanged for a boggling and clumping along as if 
her feet were in loose boxes. It was a token how earnest and true was 
Rotha's beginning obedience of service, that she stooped down and laced 
the boots up, without saying another word, though tears of mortification 
fell on the carpet. She was saying to herself, "If it be possible, as 
much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." She rose up and made 
her adieux, as briefly as she could. 

"Are you not going to thank me?" said Mrs. Busby. A dangerous flash came 
from Rotha's eyes. 

"For what, aunt Serena?" 

"For the trouble I have taken for you, not to speak of the expense." 

Rotha was silent, biting in her words, as it were. 

"Why don't you speak? You can at least be civil." 

"I don't know if I can," said Rotha. "It is difficult. I think my best 
way of being civil is to hold my tongue. I must go--Good bye, ma'am!--" 
and she staid for no more, but ran out and down the stairs. She paused as 
she passed the open parlour door, paused on the stairs, and then went on 
and took the trouble to go a few steps back through the hall to get the 
interior view more perfectly. The grate was heaped full of coals in a 
state of vivid glow, the red warm reflections came from, crimson carpet 
and polished rosewood and gilding of curtain ornaments. Antoinette's 
piano gave back the shimmer, and the thick rug before the hearth looked 
like a nest of comfort. So did the whole room. A feeling of the security 
and blessedness of a home came over Rotha. This was home to Antoinette. 
It was not home to herself, nor was any other place in all the earth. Not 
Mrs. Mowbray's kind house; it was kind, but it was not _home;_ and a keen 
wish crept into the girl's heart. To have a home somewhere! Would the 
time ever be? Must she perhaps, as her aunt foretold, be a houseless 
wanderer, teaching in other people's homes, and having none? Rotha looked 
and ran away; and as her feet went painfully clumping along the streets 
in Antoinette's big boots, some tears of forlornness dropped on the 
pavement. They were hot and bitter. 

But I am a servant of Christ--thought Rotha,--I _am_ a servant of Christ;  
I have been fighting to obey him this afternoon, and he has helped me. He 
will be with me, at any rate; and he can take care of my home and give it 
me, if he pleases. I needn't worry. I'll just let him take care. 

So with that the tears dried again, and Rotha entered Mrs. Mowbray's 
house more light-hearted than she had left it. She took off her 
wrappings, and sought Mrs. Mowbray out. 

"Madame," she said, looking at her feet, "I wanted you to know, that if I 
do not look nice as I should, it is not my fault." 

Mrs. Mowbray's eyes likewise went to the boots, and staid there. She had 
a little struggle with herself, not to speak what she felt. 

"What is the matter, Rotha?" 

"You see, Mrs. Mowbray. My boots would not go on over the thick 
stockings; so I have had to put on a pair of Antoinette's boots. So if I 
walk queerly, I want you to know I cannot help it." 

"You have more stockings than that pair, I suppose?" 

"Yes, ma'am; enough to last a good while." 

"Let me see them." 

Mrs. Mowbray examined the thick web. 

"Did you and your aunt have a fight over these?" 

"No, madame," said Rotha softly. 

"How was it then? You put them on quietly, and without remonstrance?" 

"Not exactly without remonstrance. But I didn't say much. I did not trust 
myself to say much. I knew I should say too much." 

"What made you fear that?" 

"I was so angry, ma'am." 

There came some tears again, dropping from Rotha's eyes. Mrs. Mowbray 
drew her down with a sudden movement, into her arms, and kissed her over 
and over again. 

"My dear," she said with a merry change of tone, "thick stockings are not 
the worst things in the world!" 

"No, ma'am." 

"You don't think so." 

"No, ma'am." 

"It will be a good check to your vanity, eh?" 

"Am I vain, Mrs. Mowbray?" 

"I don't know! most people are. Isn't it vanity, that makes you dislike 
to see your feet in shoes too large for them?" 

"Is it?" said Rotha. "But it is right to like to look nice, Mrs. Mowbray, 
is it not?" 

"It is right to like to see everything look nice, therefore of course 
oneself included." 

"Then that is not vanity." 

"No,--but vanity is near. It all depends on what you want to look nice 
for." 

Rotha looked an inquiry. 

"What _do_ you want to look nice for?" Mrs. Mowbray asked smiling. 

"I suppose," Rotha said slowly, "one likes to have people like one." 

"And you think the question of dress has to do with that?" 

"Yes, ma'am, I do." 

"Well, so do I. But then--_why_ do you want people to like you? What  
for?"

"One cannot help it," said Rotha, her eyes opening a little at these 
self-evident questions. 

"Perhaps that is true. However, Rotha, there are two reasons for it and 
lying back of the wish; one is one's own pleasure or advantage simply. 
The other is--the honour and service of God." 

"How, ma'am? I do not see." 

"Just using dress like everything else, as--a means of influence. I knew 
a lady who told me that since she was a child, she had never dressed 
herself that she did not do it for Christ." 

Rotha was silent and pondered. "Mrs. Mowbray, I think that is beautiful," 
she said then. 

"So do I, my dear." 

"But that would not make me like these boots any better." 

"No," said Mrs. Mowbray laughing. "Naturally. But I think nevertheless, 
in the circumstances, it would be better for you to wear them, at least 
during some of this winter weather, than to discard them and put on 
others. You shall judge yourself. What would be the effect, if, being 
known to have plenty of shoes and stockings to cover your feet, you cast 
them aside, and I procured you others, better looking?" 

"O you could not do that!" cried Rotha. 

"If I followed my inclinations, I should do it    But what would the 
effect be?" 

Rotha considered. "I suppose,--I should be called very proud; and you, 
madame, very extravagant, and partial." 

"Not a desirable effect." 

"No, madame. O no! I must wear these things." Rotha sighed. 

"Especially as we are both called Christians." 

"Yes, madame. There are a good many right things that are hard to do, 
Mrs. Mowbray!" 

"Else there would be no taking up the cross. But we ought to welcome any 
occasion of honouring our profession, even if it be a cross." 

Rotha went away much comforted. Yet the clumsy foot gear remained a 
constant discomfort to her, every time she put them on and every time she 
felt the heavy clump they gave to her gait. Happily, she had no leisure 
to dwell on these things. 

The holidays were ended, and the girls came trooping back from their 
various homes or places of pleasure. They came, as usual, somewhat 
disorganized by idleness and license. Study went hard, and discipline 
seemed unbearable; tempers were in an uncertain and irritable state. 
Rotha hugged herself that she had her own little corner room, in which 
she could be quite private and removed from all share in the dissensions 
and murmurings, which she knew abounded elsewhere. It was a very little 
room; but it held her and her books and her modest wardrobe too; and 
Rotha bent herself to her studies with great ardour and delight. She knew 
she was not popular among the girls; the very fact of her having a room 
to herself would almost have accounted for that; "there was no reason on 
earth why she should have it," as one of them said; and Mrs. Mowbray was 
accused of favouritism. Furthermore, Rotha was declared to be "nobody," 
and known to be poor; there was no advantage to be gained by being her 
adherent; and the world goes by advantage. Added to all which, she was 
distancing in her studies all the girls near her own age, and becoming 
known as the cleverest one in the house. No wonder Rotha had looks 
askance and frequently the cold shoulder. Her temperament, however, made 
her half unconscious of this, and when conscious, comfortably 
independent. She was one of those natures which live a concentrated life; 
loving deeply and seeking eagerly the good opinion of a few; to all the 
rest of the world careless and superior. She was polite and pleasant in 
her manners, which was easy, she was so happy; but she was hardly winning 
or ingratiating; too independent; and too outspoken. 

The rule was that at the ringing of a bell in the morning all the girls 
should rise; and at the ringing of a second bell everybody should repair 
to the parlours for prayers and reading the Bible. The interval between 
the two bells was amply sufficient to allow the most fastidious dresser 
to make her toilette. But the hour was early; and the rousing bell an 
object of great detestation; also, it may be said, the half hour given to 
the Scriptures and prayer was a weariness if not to the flesh to the 
spirit, of many in the family. So it sometimes happened that one and 
another was behind time, and came into the parlour while the reading was 
going on, or after prayers were over. Mrs. Mowbray remarked upon this 
once or twice. Then came an outbreak; which allowed Rotha to see a new 
side of her friend's character, or to see it more plainly than 
heretofore. It was one morning a week or two after school had begun 
again; a cold morning in January. The gas was lit in the parlours; Mrs. 
Mowbray was at the table with her books; the girls seated in long lines 
around the rooms, each with a Bible. 

"Where is Miss Bransome?" Mrs. Mowbray asked, looking along the lines of 
faces. "And Miss Dunstable?" 

Nobody spoke. 

"Miss Foster, will you have the kindness to go up to Miss Bransome and 
Miss Dunstable, and tell them we are waiting for them?" 

The young lady went. Profound silence. Then appeared, after some delay, 
the missing members of the family; they came in and took their seats in 
silence. 

"Good morning, young ladies!" said Mrs. Mowbray. "Have you slept well?" 

"Quite well, madame,"--one of them answered, making an expressive facial 
sign to her neighbours on the other side, which Rotha saw and greatly 
resented. 

"So well that you did not hear the bell?" Mrs. Mowbray went on. 

Silence. 

"Answer, if you please. Did you hear the bell?" 

"I did, madame," came in faint tones from one of the young ladies; and a 
still more smothered affirmative from the other. 

"Then why were you late?" 

Again silence. Profound attention in all parts of the rooms; nobody 
stirring. 

"It has happened once or twice before. Now, young ladies, please take 
notice," said Mrs. Mowbray, raising her voice somewhat. "If any young 
lady is not in her place here at seven o'clock, I shall go up for her 
myself; and if I go up for her, she will have to come down with me, just 
as she is. I will bring you down in your nightgown, if you are not out of 
it before I come for you; you shall come down in your night dress, here, 
to the parlour. So now you know what you have to expect; and remember, I 
always keep my promises." 

The silence was awful, Rotha thought. It was unbroken, even by a 
movement, until Mrs. Mowbray turned round to her book and took up the 
interrupted reading. Very decorously the reading went on and ended; in 
subdued good order the girls came to the table and eat their breakfast; 
but there were smouldering fires under this calm exterior; and it was to 
be expected that when the chance came the fire would break forth. 

The chance came that same evening before tea. The girls were gathered, 
preparatory to that ceremony, in the warm, well lighted rooms; and as the 
custom was, each one had her favourite bit of ornamental work in hand. It 
was a small leisure time. No teacher, as it happened, was in the front 
parlour where Rotha sat, deep in a book; and a conversation began near 
her, in under tones to be sure, which she could not but hear. Several new 
scholars had come into the family at the New Year. One of these, a Miss 
Farren, made the remark that Mrs. Mowbray had "showed out" that morning. 

"Didn't she!" said another girl. "O that's what she is! You'll see. 
That's _just_ what she is." 

"She is an old cat!" 

This last speaker was Miss Dunstable, and the spitefulness of the words 
brought Rotha's head up from her book, with ears pointed and sharpened. 

"I thought she looked so sweet," the new comer, Miss Farren, remarked 
further. "I was quite taken with her at first. I thought she looked so 
pleasant." 

"Pleasant! She's as pleasant as a mustard plaster, and as sweet as 
cayenne pepper. I'll tell you, Miss Farren; you're a stranger; you may 
as well know what you have to expect--" 

"Hush, girls!" 

"What's the matter?" said the Dunstable, looking round. "There's nobody 
near. Jewett has gone off into the other room. No, it is a work of 
charity to let Miss Farren into the secrets of her prison house, 'cause 
there are two sides to every game. Mrs. M. is a tyrannical, capricious, 
hypocritical, domineering, fiery old cat. O she's fiery; you have got to 
take care how you rise up and sit down; and she's stiff, she thinks 
there's only one way and that's her way; and she's unjust, she has 
favourites--" 

"They all have favourites!" here put in another. 

"She has ridiculous favourites. And she is pious, you'll be deluged with 
the Bible and prayers; and  she's sanctimonious, you won't get leave to 
go to the opera or the theatre, or to do anything lively; and she's 
stingy, you'll learn that you must take all the potatoes you want the 
first time the dish is handed you, for it won't come a second time; and 
she's prudish, she won't let you receive visitors; and she's passionate, 
she'll fly out like a volcano if you give her a chance; and she's 
obstinate, she'll be as good--or as bad--as her word."

By this time Rotha had sprung to her feet, with ears tingling and cheeks 
burning, and stood there like Abdiel among the fallen angels, only indeed 
that is comparing great things with small She was less patient and 
prudent than Abdiel might have been. 

"Miss Farren," she said, speaking with the calmness of intensity, "there 
is not one bit of truth in all that Miss Dunstable has been saying to 
you." 

The young lady addressed looked in surprise at the new speaker. Rotha's 
indignant eyes were sending out angry fires. The other girls looked on 
too, in scorn and anger, but some awe. 

"Miss Carpenter is polite!" said one. 

"Her sort," said another, "What you might expect from her family."

"She is a favourite herself," cried a third. "Of course, Mrs. M. is 
smooth as butter to her."

"You may say what you like of me," said Rotha; "but you shall not tell a 
stranger all sorts of false things about Mrs. Mowbray, without my telling 
her that they are false."

"Don't speak so loud!" whispered a stander-by; but Sotha went on, 
overpowering and silencing her opponents for the moment by the moral 
force of her passionate utterance,-- 

"She is as kind as it is possible to be. She is kinder than ever you can 
think. She is as generous as a horn of plenty, and there is not a small 
thread in all her composition. She knows how to govern, and she will 
govern you, if you stay in her house; and she will keep her promises, as 
you will find to your cost if you break her laws; but she is good, and 
sweet, and bountiful, as a goddess of mercy. And whoever says anything 
else of her, you may be sure is not worthy of her Kindness; and speaks 
not true, but meanly, falsely, ungratefully, and mischievously!"

Rotha stood and blazed at them; and incensed and resentful as they were, 
the others were afraid now to say anything; for Mrs. Mowbray herself had 
come into the centre room, and other ears were near, which they did not 
wish to arouse. It passed for the time; but the next day another of her 
companions attacked Rotha on the subject. 

"You made Miss Dunstable awfully angry at you last evening, Rotha." 

"I suppose so."

"What did you do it for?" 

"Because she was telling a pack of lies!" said Rotha. "I'm not going to 
sit by and hear anybody talk so of Mrs. Mowbray. And you ought not; and 
nobody ought." 

"Miss Dunstable will hate you, I can tell you. She'll be your enemy after 
this." 

"That is nothing to me." 

"Yes, it's all very well to say that, but you won't think so when you 
come to find out. She belongs to a very rich family, and she is worth 
having for a friend." 

"A girl like that?" cried Rotha. "A low spirited, false girl? Worth 
having for a friend? Not to anybody who is worth anything herself." 

"But she is ever so rich." 

"What's that to me? Do you think I am going to sit by and hear Mrs. 
Mowbray slandered, or anybody else, because the story teller has plenty 
of money? What is her money to me?" 

"Well, I don't know," said the other deprecatingly. "It puts things in 
her power. Her family is one of the best in New York." 

"Then the other members of it are much superior to this one!--that's all 
I have got to say." 

"But Rotha, she can hurt you." 

"How?" 

"She can make the other girls treat you ill." 

"I can bear as much as that for Mrs. Mowbray, I guess." 

"What makes you like her so much?" 

Rotha's eyes gave a wondering, very expressive, glance at her 
interlocutor. 

"Because she is so unspeakably good, and beautiful, and generous. She 
is a kind of a queen!" 

"She likes to rule." 

"She _has_ to rule. What sort of a place would the house be, if she did  
not rule?" 

"But, Julia Dunstable could do you good, if she liked." 

"Could she? How?" said Rotha drily. 

"O she could put pleasant things in your way. She gave some of us a 
lovely invitation to a Christmas party; we had a royal time; and she asks 
the girls every now and then." 

"And you would have me be a traitor for the sake of an invitation? Bell 
Savage, I do not want invitations from such people." 

"La, Rotha, the world is full of such people; you cannot pick and 
choose." 

"But I will. I will pick and choose those whom I honour with my 
friendship. And I can assure you of one thing; _my_ family would be very 
much ashamed of such a one belonging to it, as the one you want me to 
court. I court nobody. And I will expose a lie wherever I find it, if 
it's my business." 

I think Rotha forgot at the moment that Mrs. Busby belonged to "her 
family." However, Miss Savage was not wrong in supposing that her 
interference with Miss Dunstable would come back upon her own head. She 
was made to feel that a large number of the girls looked down upon her 
and that they refused all community with her. Even from people one does 
not care for, this sort of treatment is more or less painful; and it 
certainly made Rotha's school days less joyous in some respects than they 
might otherwise have been. From one reason and another, the greater 
proportion of her companions turned her the cold shoulder. Some for 
partisanship, some for subserviency, some to be in the fashion, and 
others again for pure envy. 

For Rotha sprang forward in her learning and surpassed all who were 
associated with her, in their mutual studies. Her partial isolation 
contributed, no doubt, to this end; having little social distraction, no 
home outside her school walls, and no delight in the things which 
occupied most of the minds within them, she bent to her books; drank, and 
drank deep, of the "Castalian spring," and with ever increasing 
enjoyment. She studied, not to get and keep a high position, or to gain 
distinction, or to earn praise or prizes, but for pure pleasure in study 
and eagerness to increase knowledge and to satisfy Mrs. Mowbray. So her 
progress was not only rapid but thorough; what she gained she kept; and 
her mental growth was equal to her physical. 

The physical was rapid and beautiful. Rotha shot up tall, and developed 
into a very noble-looking girl; intelligent, spirited, sweet and strong 
at once. Her figure was excellent; her movement graceful and free, as 
suited her character; colour clear and brunette, telling of flawless 
health; and an eye of light and force and fire and honesty, which it was 
at all times a pleasure to meet, speaking of the active, brave and true 
spirit to which it belonged. By degrees, as all this became manifest, 
shewed itself also the effect of culture, and the blessing of real 
education. Refinement touched every line of Rotha's face, and marked 
every movement and every tone. She gained command over her impetuous 
nature, not so but that it broke bounds occasionally; yet the habit 
became moderation, and something of the beautiful quiet of manner which 
Rotha had always admired in Mr. Southwode, did truly now belong to 
herself. Mrs. Mowbray had perpetual delight in her. Was it wonderful, 
when so many faces were only carelessly obtuse, or stupidly indifferent, 
or obstinately perverse, that the mistress should turn to the bright eye 
which was sure to have caught her meaning, and watch for the answer from 
lips which were sure to give it with rare intelligence. 

Those lessons from her beloved teacher were beyond all other lessons 
prized and delighted in by Rotha. They gave incentive to a vast deal of 
useful reading, more or less directly connected with the subject in hand. 
Some of the girls followed out this 'reading extensively; and no one so 
much as Rotha. Her great quickness and diligence with her regular lessons 
made this possible. 

Meanwhile, it is not to be supposed that Rotha's feet remained 
permanently in their coarse habiliments. When the cold and the snows were 
gone, and lighter airs and warmer weather came in with spring, Mrs. 
Mowbray exchanged the uncomely boots and thick stockings for others which 
better suited Rotha's need and comfort. No more animadversions were heard 
on the subject from Mrs. Busby, who indeed seemed rather inclined to let 
Rotha alone. 

And so went by two years; two years of growth and up-building and varied 
developement; years of enjoyment and affection and peace. The short 
intervals during which she was an inmate of her aunt's family served only 
as enhancement of all the rest; foils to the brightness of Mrs. Mowbray's 
house, and sharpeners of the appetite that was fed there. Nothing was 
ever heard of Mr. Digby, not by Rotha at least; and this was her only 
grief. For Rotha was true to her affections; and where she had loved 
once, did not forget   Once she asked Mrs. Mowbray if it was not strange 
she never got any word from Mr. Southwode? "Why should you, my dear?" 
Mrs. Mowbray replied, with an impenetrable face. 

"Because--I suppose, because I loved him so much," said Rotha innocently; 
"and I think he is true." 

"He has done a friend's part by you; and now there is nothing more for 
him to do. I see no reason why he should write to you." 

I do!--thought Rotha; but Mrs. Mowbray's tone did not invite her to 
pursue the subject; and she let it thenceforth alone. 


CHAPTEK XXII. 


A CHANGE. 


The two years of smooth sailing along the stream of life, were ended. 
What was coming next? But how should the sailor learn navigation, if he 
had never anything but calm weather and quiet airs? 

It was spring, late in May; when one evening Mrs. Mowbray came into 
Rotha's little room, shut the door, and sat down. Rotha looked up from 
her book and smiled. Mrs. Mowbray looked down at the book and sighed. A 
heavy sigh, it seemed to Rotha, and her smile died away. 

"You want to speak to me, madame?" she said, and laid her book away. 

"I am going to send you home--" said the lady abruptly. 

"Home!--" the word was but half uttered. What was this? The term was not 
near at an end. 

"You must go, my dear," Mrs. Mowbray went on more softly; for the first 
word had been spoken with the sternness of pain. "I must send you all 
away from me." 

"Whom?" 

"All of you! It has pleased heaven to visit me with a great calamity. You 
must all go." 

"What is it, Mrs. Mowbray?" said Rotha, trembling with a fear to which 
she could give no form. 

"I do not know, but I think it too probable, that a contagious disease 
has broken out in my family. The little Snyders are both ill with scarlet 
fever." 

"They are at home." 

"But Miss Tremont is taken in just the same way, and Miss de Forest is 
complaining. I have isolated them both; but I have no choice but to send 
all the rest of you away, till I shall know how the thing will go." 

Rotha looked terribly blank. 

"It is hard, isn't it?" said Mrs. Mowbray, noticing this with a faint 
smile; "but it is not best for us to have things go too smooth. I have 
had no rubs for two years or more." 

That this was a hard "rub" was evident. Mrs. Mowbray sat looking before 
her with a troubled face. 

"Why is it best for us that things should not go smooth?" Rotha ventured. 
To her sense the possible good of this disturbance was not apparent, 
while the positive evil was manifold. 

"The Lord knows!" said Mrs. Mowbray. "He sees uses, and needs, which we 
do not suspect. I am sorry for you, my dear child." 

"And I am sorry you are troubled, dear Mrs. Mowbray!" 

"I know you are. Your sympathy is very sweet to me.--We have had a 
pleasant two years together, have we not?" 

"Oh so pleasant!" echoed Rotha, almost in tears. "But--this sickness will 
pass over; and then we may come back again, may we not?" 

"It is too near the end of term, to come back this spring. It cannot be 
before next September now; and that is a long way off. One never knows 
what will happen in so many months!" 

Rotha had never seen Mrs. Mowbray look or speak so despondently. She was 
too utterly downhearted herself to say another word of hope or 
confidence. Four months of interval and separation! Four months with her 
aunt! What would become of her? What might happen in the mean time? 

"When must I go, Mrs. Mowbray?" she asked sadly. 

"To-night. Yes, my child, I must send you away from me. You have been a 
comfort to me ever since you came into my house; and now I must send you 
away." She folded Rotha in her arms and kissed her almost passionately. 
Then let her go, and spoke in business tones again. 

"Put up whatever you wish to take with you. The carriage will be at the 
door at half past eight. I shall go with you." 

With which words she departed. 

The tears came now, which had been carefully kept back until Mrs. Mowbray 
was gone; and it was under a very shower of heavy drops that Rotha folded 
and stowed away all her belongings. 

Stowed them in her trunk, which Mrs. Mowbray had at once sent up to her 
room. Amidst all her tears, Rotha worked like a sprite; she would leave 
nothing on her kind friend's hands to do for her, not even anything to 
think of. She packed all away, wondering the while why this sudden 
interruption to her prosperous course of study and growth should have 
been allowed to come; wondering when and how the interrupted course would 
be allowed to go on again. Happily she did not know what experiences 
would fill the next few months, in which Mrs. Mowbray's fostering care 
would not help her nor reach her; nor what a new course of lessons she 
would be put upon. Not knowing all this, Rotha shed bitter tears, it is 
true, but not despairing. And when the summons came, she was ready, and 
joined Mrs. Mowbray in the carriage with calm self-possession restored. 

The drive was almost silent. Once Mrs. Mowbray asked if there was 
anything Rotha had left to be done for her in her room or in the house? 
Rotha said "Nothing; all was done"; and then the carriage rolled on 
silently as before; the one of its occupants too busy with grave thoughts 
to leave her tongue free, the other sorrowfully wishing she would talk, 
yet not daring to ask it. Arrived at the door, however, Mrs. Mowbray 
folded the girl in her arms, giving her warm kisses and broken words of 
love, and ending with bidding her write often. 

"I may be unable to answer you, but do not let that stop you. Write 
always; I shall want to hear everything about you." 

And Rotha answered, it would be the greatest joy to her; and they parted. 

She went in at a somewhat peculiar moment. Half an hour sooner, 
Antoinette had returned from a friend's house where she had been dining, 
and burst into the parlour with news. 

"Mamma!" she exclaimed, before the door was shut behind her,--"Guess what 
is coming." 

"What?" said her mother calmly. She was accustomed to Antoinette's 
superlatives. 

"Mr. Southwode is coming back.--" 

Now Mrs. Busby did prick up her ears. "How do you know?" 

"There was a Mr. Lingard at dinner--a prosy old fellow, as tiresome as 
ever he could be; but he is English, and knows the Southwodes, and he 
told lots about them." 

"What?" 

"O I don't know!--a lot of stuff. About the business and the property, 
and how old Mr. Southwode left it all to this son; and he carries it on 
in some ridiculous way that I didn't understand; and the uncle tried to 
break the will, and there has been a world of trouble; but now Mr. Digby 
Southwode is coming back to New York." 

"When?" 

"O soon; any day. He may be here any day. And then, mamma--" 

"And was the will broken?" 

"No, I believe not. At any rate, Mr. Southwode, our Mr. Southwode, has it 
all. But he's absurd, mamma; he pays people, workmen, more than they 
ought to have; and he sells, or makes them sell, for less; less than the 
market price; and he gives away all his income. So Mr. Lingard says." 

"He will learn better," said Mrs. Busby. 

"Well, mamma, he's coming back; and what will you do?" 

"Welcome him," said her mother. "I always liked Mr. Southwode." 

"Yes, yes, but I mean, about Rotha. He will look her up, the first thing; 
and she will fly ecstatically to meet him--I remember their parting 
salute two years ago, and their _meeting_.  I don't doubt, will be  
equally tender. Mamma, are you prepared to come down with something   
handsome in the way of wedding presents?"  

"Nonsense!" 

"It's _not_ nonsense!" said Antoinette vehemently. "It will be the absurd 
truth, before you know where you are; and papa, and you, and I, we shall 
all have the felicity of offering congratulations and holding receptions. 
If you don't prevent it, mamma! _Can't_ you prevent it? _Won't_ you  
prevent it? O mamma! won't you prevent it?" 

"Get up, Antoinette"--for the young lady had thrown herself down on the 
floor in her urgency, at her mother's feet. "Get up, and take off your 
things; you are extremely silly. I have no intention of letting them meet 
at all." 

"Mamma, how are you going to help it? He will find out where she is at 
school--he will go straight there, and then you may depend Rotha will 
snap her fingers at you. So will he; and to have two people snapping 
their fingers at us will just drive me wild." 

Mrs. Busby could not help laughing. At the same time, she as well as 
Antoinette regarded the matter from a very serious point of view. She 
knew Rotha had grown up very handsome; and all her mother's partiality 
did not make her sure that men like Mr. Southwode might not prefer the 
sense and grace and spirit which breathed from every look and motion of 
Rotha's, to the doll beauty of her own daughter. Yet it was not insipid 
beauty either; the face of Antoinette was exceedingly pretty, the smile 
very captivating, and the white and peach-blossom very lovely in her 
cheeks. But for sense, or dignity, or sympathy with any thoughts high and 
noble, if one looked to Antoinette one would look in vain. No matter; 
hers was just a style which captivates men, Mrs. Busby knew; even 
sensible men,--the only danger as in possible comparison or contrast. 
That danger should be avoided. 

"Nobody will snap fingers at me," she complacently remarked. 

"But how will you help it?" 

"I dare say there is no danger. Get up, Antoinette! there is the door 
bell." 

And then in walked Rotha. 

It struck her that her aunt and cousin were a little more than ordinarily 
stiff towards her; but of course they had no reason to expect her then, 
and the surprise was not agreeable. So Rotha dismissed the matter with a 
passing thought and an unbreathed sigh; while she told the cause of her 
unlooked-for appearance. Mrs. Busby sat and meditated. 

"It is very unfortunate!" she said at last, with her eyebrows 
distressingly high. 

"What?" said Rotha. "My coming? I am sorry, aunt Serena; as sorry as you 
can be. Is my being here _particularly_ inconvenient just at this time?" 

"Yes!" said Mrs. Busby, with the same deeply considerative air. "I am 
thinking what will be the best way to manage. We have a plan of going to 
Chicago--Mr. Busby's family is mostly there, and he wants us to visit 
them; we should be gone all June and part of July, for I know Mr. Busby 
wants to go further, if once he gets so far; and we may not be back till 
the end of July. I don't know what to do with Rotha." 

Not a word of this plan had Antoinette ever heard before, but she kept 
wise silence; only her small blue eyes sparkled knowingly at the fire. 
Rotha was silent too at first, with vexation. 

"I am very sorry--" she repeated. 

"Yes," said Mrs. Busby. "I thought I could leave you in safe quarters 
with Mrs. Mowbray for a week or two after school broke up; now that 
possibility is out of the question. Well, we will sleep upon it. Never 
mind, Rotha; don't trouble yourself. I shall find some way out of the 
difficulty. I always do." 

These words were spoken with so much kindness of tone that they quite 
comforted Rotha as to the immediate annoyance of being in the way. She 
went up to her little third-story room, threw open the blinds, to let the 
stars look in, and remembered that neither she nor yet her aunt Busby was 
the guide of her fortunes. Yet, yet,--what a hard change this was! All 
the pursuits in which she had taken such delight, suddenly stopped; her 
peaceful home lost; her best friend separated from her. It was difficult 
to realize the fact that God knew and had allowed it. Yet no harm, no 
real harm, comes to his children, unless they bring it upon themselves; 
so this change could not mean harm. How could it mean good? Sense saw 
not, reason could not divine; but faith said "yes"; and in the quietness 
of that confidence Rotha went to sleep. 

At breakfast the ladies' faces had regained their wonted brightness. 

"I have settled it all!" Mrs. Busby announced, when her husband had left 
the breakfast table and the room. Rotha looked up and waited; Antoinette 
did not look up; therefore it may be presumed she knew what was coming. 

"I am going to send Rotha to the country while we are gone." 

"Where in the country?" asked the person most concerned. 

"To my place in the country--my place at Tanfield. _I_ have a place in  
the country."--Mrs. Busby spoke with a very alert and pleased air. 

"Tanfield--" Rotha repeated with slow recollection. "O I believe I know. 
I think I have heard of Tanfield." 

"Of course. It is the old place where I lived when I was a girl; and a 
lovely place it is." 

"And just think!" put in Antoinette. "Isn't it funny? I have never seen 
it." 

"Who is there?" Rotha asked. 

"O the old house is there, and the garden; and somebody who will make you 
very comfortable. I will take care that she makes you comfortable. I 
shall see about that." 

"Who is that? old Janet?" asked Antoinette. 

"No. Janet is not there?" 

"Who then, mamma?" 

"Persons whom I have put in charge." 

"Do I know them?" 

"You know very little about them--not enough to talk." 

"Mamma! As if one couldn't talk without knowing about things! Who is it, 
mamma? I want to know who will have the care of Rotha." 

"It is not necessary you should know at present. Rotha can tell you, when 
she has tried them." 

"I suppose I shall have the care of myself," said Rotha; to whom all this 
dialogue somehow sounded unpromising. To her remark no answer was made. 

"Mamma, what will Rotha do there, all by herself?" 

"She will have people all round her." 

"She don't know them. You mean the Tanfield people?" 

"Who else should live at Tanfield. I was one of the Tanfield people 
myself once." 

"What sort of people are they, mamma?" 

"Excellent people." 

"Country people!--" 

"Country people can be a very good sort. You need not sneer at them." 

"I remark that you have not been anxious to go back and see them, mamma." 

Rotha was dumb meanwhile, and during a longer continuance of this sort of 
talk; with a variety of feelings at work in her, among which crept a 
certain flavouring of suspicion. Was she to be _alone_ in her mother's 
old home at Tanfield? Alone, with companions that could not be 
companions? Was it any use to question her aunt further? She feared not; 
yet the questions would come.

"What sort of persons are those in the house, aunt Serena?" 

"Quite sufficient to take good care of you. A man and his wife. Honest 
people, and kind." 

"Servants!" 

"In so far as they are serving me." 

Antoinette again pressed to be told who they were, was again put off. 
From the little altercation resulting, Mrs. Busby turned to Rotha with a 
new theme. 

"You will not want your New York wardrobe there,--what will you do? Leave 
your trunk here? That will be best, I think, till you come back again." 

"O no," said Rotha hastily. "I will take it with me." 

"You will not want it, my dear. Summer is just here; what, you need up 
there is some nice calico dresses; those will be just the thing. I will 
get some for you this very day, and have them cut out; and then you can 
take them and make them up. It will give you something to do. Your winter 
wardrobe would be of no service to you there, and to carry it back and 
forward would be merely trouble and risk." 

"To leave it here would be risk." 

"Not at all. There will be somebody in charge of the house." 

"I prefer to have the charge of my own clothes myself." 

"My dear, I am not going to take it from you; only to guard the things 
for you while you are away. They would be out of place in the summer and 
at Tanfield." 

"Some would; but they are all mixed up," said Rotha, trying to keep her 
patience, though the blood mounted into her cheeks dangerously. 

"They can be separated," said Mrs. Busby coolly. "When your trunks come, 
I will do that for you." 

Not if I am alive! thought Rotha; but she remembered the old word--"If it 
be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably--" and she held her 
tongue. However, later in the day when Mrs. Busby came in after buying 
the calicos, the proposition was renewed. She came to Rotha and demanded 
the keys of the boxes. 

"Thank you, aunt Serena--I would rather do what I want done, myself." 

"Very well," said Mrs. Busby pleasantly; "but if you will give me the 
keys, I will see what I think ought to be done. I can judge better than 
you can." 

"I would rather not," said Rotha. "If you please, and if you do not mind, 
ma'am, I would rather nobody went into my trunk but myself." 

"Don't be a child, Rotha!" 

"No, aunt Serena. I remember that I am one no longer." 

"But I wish to have your keys--do you understand?" 

"Perfectly; and I do not wish to give them. You understand that." 

"Your wish ought to give way to mine," said Mrs. Busby severely. 

"Why?" said Rotha, looking at her with a frank face. 

"Because you are under my care, and I stand in the place of a mother to 
you." 

Hot words sprang to Rotha's lips, hot and passionate words of denial; but 
she did not speak them; her lips opened and closed again. 

"Do you refuse me?" Mrs. Busby asked, after waiting a moment. 

"Entirely!" said Rotha looking up again. 

"Then you defy me!" 

"No, I mean nothing of the kind. You are asking a thing which no one has 
a right to ask. I am simply holding my rights; which I will do." 

"So shall I hold mine," said Mrs. Busby shortly; "and you do not seem to 
know what they are. Your trunk will not leave this house; you may make 
such arrangements as it pleases you. And I shall give myself no further 
trouble about one who is careless what annoyance she makes me. I had 
intended to accompany you myself and see you comfortably settled; but it 
appears that nothing I could do would be of any pleasure to you. I shall 
let you go without me and make your own arrangements." 

With which speech Mrs. Busby ended the interview; and Rotha was left to 
think what she would do next. 

Her trunk must be left behind. It was too plain that here power was on 
the side of her aunt. Without coming to downright fighting, this point 
could not be carried against her. Rotha longed to go and talk to Mrs. 
Mowbray; alas, that was not to be thought of. Mrs. Mowbray's hands and 
head were full, and her house was a forbidden place. How swiftly 
circumstances can whirl about in this world! Yesterday a refuge, to-day a 
danger. Rotha must leave her trunk. But many things in it she must not 
leave. What to do? I will not deny that her thoughts were bitter for a 
while. A little matter! Yes, a little matter, compared with Waterloo or 
Gravelotte; but _not_ a little matter to a girl in every day life and 
having a girl's every day liking for being neat and feeling comfortable. 
And right is right; and the infringing of right is hard to bear, perhaps 
equally hard, whether it concerns a nation's boundaries or a woman's 
wardrobe. If Rotha had been more experienced, perhaps the wisdom of doing 
nothing would have suggested itself; but she was young and did not know 
what to do. So she laid out of her trunk certain things; her Bible and 
Scripture Treasury; her writing materials; her underclothes; and her 
gloves. If Rotha had a weakness, it was for neat and _suitable_ gloves.  
The rest of her belongings she locked up carefully, and sat down to await  
the course of events. 

It was swift, as some intuition told her it would be. There was no more 
disputing. Mrs. Busby let the subject of the trunk drop, and was as 
benign as usual; which was never benign except exteriorly. She was as 
good as her word in purchasing calicos; brought home what seemed to Rotha 
an unnecessary stock of them; and that afternoon and the next day kept a 
dress-maker cutting and basting, and Rotha at work to help. These cut and 
basted dresses, as they were finished, Mrs. Busby stowed with her own 
hands in a little old leather trunk. Then, when the last one went in, she 
told Rotha to bring whatever she wished to have go with her. 

"To put in that?" Rotha asked. 

"Certainly. It will hold all you want." 

Rotha struggled with herself with the feeling of desperate indignation 
which came over her; struggled, grew red and grew pale, but finally did 
go without another word; and brought down, pile by pile, her neat under 
wardrobe. Mrs. Busby packed and packed. Her trunk was leather, and 
strong, but its capacities were bounded by that very strength. 

"All these!" she exclaimed in a sort of despair. "There is no use 
whatever in having so much linen under wear." 

Rotha was silent. 

"It is _much_ better to have fewer things, and let them be washed as  
often as necessary. A family would want a caravan at this rate." 

"This is Mrs. Mowbray's way," said Rotha. 

"Mrs. Mowbray's way is not a way to be copied, unless you are a 
millionaire. She is the most extravagant woman I ever met, without 
exception." 

"But aunt Serena, it costs no more in the end, whether you have a dozen 
things for two years, and comfort, or half a dozen a year, and 
discomfort." 

"You don't know that you will live two years to want them." 

"You don't know that you will live one, for that matter," said 
Antoinette, who always spoke her mind, careless whom the words touched. 
"At that rate, mamma, we ought to do like savages,--have one dress and 
wear it out before getting another; but it strikes me that would be 
rather disagreeable." 

"You will not find anybody at Tanfield to do all this washing for you," 
Mrs. Busby went on. 

"I shall have no more washing done than if I had fewer things," Rotha 
said. 

"Then there is no sort of use in lugging all these loads of linen up 
there just to bring them back again. The trunk will not hold them. Here, 
Rotha--take back these,--and these, and these--" 

Rotha received them silently; silently carried them up stairs and came 
down for more. She was in a kind of despair. Her Bible and most precious 
belongings she had put carefully in her travelling bag, rejoicing in its 
beauty and security. 

"Mamma," said Antoinette now, "does Rotha know when she is going?" 

"I do not know." 

"Well, that's funny. I should think you would tell her. Why it's almost 
time for her to put on her bonnet." 

Rotha's eyes went from one to the other. She was startled. 

"I am going to send you off by the night train to Tanfield,"--Mrs. Busby 
said without looking up from the trunk. 

"The _night_ train!" exclaimed Rotha. 

"It is the best you can do. It brings you there by daylight. The night 
train is as pleasant as any." 

"If you have company"--said Rotha. 

"And if the cars don't run off nor anything," added Antoinette. "All the 
awful accidents happen in the night." 

"I would not have Rotha go alone," said Mrs. Busby grimly; "but she don't 
want my companionship." 

Rotha would have been glad of it; however, she did not say so. She stood 
confounded. What possible need of this haste? 

"Put your things away, Rotha," said Mrs. Busby glancing up,--"and come 
down to dinner. You must leave at seven o'clock, and I have had dinner 
early for you." 

The dinner being early, Mr. Busby was not there; which Rotha regretted. 
From him she hoped for at least one of his dry, sensible remarks, and 
possibly a hint of sympathy. She must go without it. Dinner had no taste, 
and the talk that went on no meaning. Very poor as this home was, it was 
better than an unknown country, and uncongenial as were her companions, 
she preferred them to nobody. Gradually there grew a lump in her throat 
which almost choked her. 

Meantime she was silent, seemed to eat, and did quietly whatever she was 
told She put up sandwiches in a paper; accepted an apple and some figs; 
looked curiously at the old basement dining room, which she had never 
liked, but which had never seemed to her so comfortable as now; and at 
last left it to get herself ready. Taking her Russia bag in her hand, she 
seemed to grasp Mrs. Mowbray's love; and it comforted her. 

Her aunt and she had a silent drive through the streets, already dark and 
lamp-lit. All necessary directions were given her by the way, and a 
little money to pay for her drive out from Tanfield. Then came the 
confusion of the Station--not the Grand Central by any means; the bustle 
of getting her seat in the cars; her aunt's cold kiss. And then she was 
alone, and the engine sounded its whistle, and the train slowly moved 
away into the darkness. 

For a while Rotha's mind was in a tumult of confusion. If Mrs. Mowbray 
knew where she was at that minute! She had had no chance to write to her. 
If she only knew! What then? she could not help matters. O but she could! 
Mrs. Mowbray could always find help. Love that would not rest, energy 
that would not tire, a power of will that would not be denied, and a 
knowledge and command of men and things which enabled her always to lay 
her hand on the right means and apply them; all this belonged to Mrs. 
Mowbray, and made her the most efficient of helpers. But just now, 
doubtless, the affairs of her own house laid full claim to all her 
energies; and then, she did not know about Rotha's circumstances. How 
strange, thought Rotha, that she does not--that things should have come 
together so that she cannot! I seem to be cut off designedly from her, 
and from everybody. 

There crept slowly into her heart the recollection that there was One who 
did know the whole; and if there were design in the peculiar collocation 
of events, as who could doubt, it was _His_ design. This gave a new view  
of things. Rotha looked round on the dingy car, dingy because so dimly 
lighted; filled, partly filled, with dusky figures; and wondered if one 
there were so utterly alone as she, and marvelled greatly why she had 
been brought into such a strange position. Separated from everything! 
Then her Russia bag rebuked her, for her Bible was in it. Not separated 
from God, whose message was there; perhaps, who knows? she was to come 
closer to him, in the default of all other friends. She remembered the 
words of a particular psalm which not long ago had been read at morning 
prayers and commented on by Mrs. Mowbray; it came home to her now. 

"I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My 
help cometh from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." 

If he made heaven and earth, he surely can manage them. And Mrs. Mowbray 
had said, that whoever could honestly adopt and say those first words of 
the psalm, might take to himself also all the following. Then how it went 
on!--

"He will not suffer thy foot to be moved; he that keepeth thee will not 
slumber. Behold, he that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep." 

The tears rushed into Rotha's eyes. So he would watch the night train in 
which she journeyed, and let no harm come to it without his pleasure. The 
words followed,--

"The Lord is thy keeper: the Lord is thy shade upon thy right hand; the 
sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night. The Lord shall 
preserve thee from all evil, he shall preserve thy soul. The Lord shall 
preserve thy going out and thy coming in, from this time forth, and even 
for evermore." 

It was to Rotha as if she had suddenly seen a guard of angels about her. 
Nay, better than that. She was a young disciple yet, she had not learned 
all the ins and outs of faith; but this night her journey was sweet to 
her. The train rumbled along through the darkness; but "darkness and the 
light are alike to him," she remembered. Now and then the cars stopped at 
a village or wayside station; and a few lights shone upon boards and 
platforms and bits of wall; sometimes shone from within a saloon where 
refreshments were set out; there were switches to be turned on or off; 
there was a turn-out place where the train waited three quarters of an 
hour for the down train. All the same! Rotha remembered that switches and 
turnouts made no manner of difference, no more than the darkness, if the 
Lord was keeping her. It was somehow a sweet kind of a night that she 
had; not alone nor unhappy; faith, for the moment at least, laying its 
grasp on the whole wide realm of promise and resting satisfied and quiet 
in its possessions. After a while she slept and dozed, waking up 
occasionally to feel the rush and hear the rumble of the cars, to 
remember in whose hand she was, and then quietly to doze off again. 


CHAPTER XXIII. 


TANFIELD. 


The last time she awoke, the rush and the roar had ceased; the train was 
standing still in the darkness. Not utterly in the dark, for one or two 
miserable lamps were giving a feeble illumination; and there was a stir 
and a hum of voices. Another station, evidently. "What is it?" she asked 
somebody passing her. 

"Tanfield." 

Tanfield! and this darkness still. "What o'clock is it, please?" she 
asked the conductor, who just then appeared. 

"Three o'clock in the morning. You stop here, don't you?" 

"Yes; but how can I get to the hotel?" 

"It's just by; not a dozen steps off. Here, give me your bag--I'll see 
you there. We don't go on; change cars, for whoever wants to go further. 
You don't go further?" 

"No." 

"Then come on." 

Half awake, and dazed, Rotha gratefully followed her companion; who 
piloted the way for her out of the train and through the station house 
and across a street, or road rather, for it was not paved. A hotel of 
some pretension faced them on the other side of the street. The kind 
conductor marched in like one at home, sent for the sleepy chambermaid, 
and consigned Rotha to her care. 

"You would like a room and a bed, ma'am?" 

"A room, yes, and water to wash the dust off; but I do not want a bed. 
How early can you give me breakfast?" 

"Breakfast? there's always breakfast full early, ma'am, for the train 
that goes out at half past six. You'll get breakfast then. Going by the 
half past six train, ma'am?" 

"No. I shall want some sort of a carriage by and by, to drive me out to 
Mrs. Busby's place; do you know where that is? And can I get a carriage 
here?" 

"You can get carriages enough. I don't know about no places. Then you'll 
take breakfast at six, ma'am? You'll be called." 

With which she shewed Rotha into a bare little hotel room, lit a lamp, 
and left her. 

Rotha refreshed herself with cold water and put her hair in order. It 
must be half past three then. She went to the window, pulled up the shade 
and opened the sash and sat down. At half past three in the morning, when 
the season is no further advanced than May, the world is still nearly 
dark. Yet two cocks were answering each other from different roosts in 
the neighbourhood, and announcing that morning was on its way. The sky 
gave little token yet, however; and the stars sparkled silently out of 
its dark depths. The rush and the roar of the train, and of life itself, 
seemed to be left behind; the air had the fresh sweetness which it never 
can have where human beings do greatly congregate; there was a spice in 
it which Rotha had not tasted for a long while. That sort of spice is 
enlivening and refreshing; there is a good tonic in it, which Rotha felt 
and enjoyed; at the same time it warned her she was in new circumstances. 
She had an uneasy suspicion, or intuition rather, that these new 
circumstances were not intended, so far as her aunt's intentions affected 
them, to be of transient duration. It was all very well to talk of July 
or the beginning of August; truth has a way of making itself known 
independent of words and even athwart them; and so it had been now; and 
while Mrs. Busby talked of the middle of summer, some subtle sense in 
Rotha's nature translated the words and made them signify an indefinite 
and distant future, almost as uncertain as indefinite. Rotha could not 
help feeling that it might be long before she saw New York or Mrs. 
Mowbray again; and anew the wondering thought arose, why Mrs. Mowbray 
should have been incapacitated for helping her precisely at this 
juncture? It was mysterious. It was evident that a higher rule than Mrs. 
Busby's was taking effect here; it was plain that not her aunt alone had 
willed to put her away from all she trusted and delighted in, and bring 
her to this strange place; where she would be utterly alone and uncared-
for and shut off from all her beloved pursuits. But why? 

It is the vainest of questions; yet one which in such circumstances 
mortals are terribly tempted to ask. If they could be told, _then_, the 
design of the movement would be lost upon their mental and spiritual 
education; and ten to one the ulterior developments would be hindered 
also which are meant to turn to their temporal advantage. It is in the 
nature of things, that the "why" should be hidden in darkness; without 
being omniscient we cannot see beforehand the turns that things will 
take; and so now is Faith's time to be quiet and trust and believe. And 
somehow faith is apt to find it hard work. Most of us know what it is to 
trust a human fellow creature absolutely, implicitly; with so full a 
trust that we are not afraid nor doubtful nor unwilling; but with one 
hand in the trusted one's hand are ready to go blindly anywhere, or to 
dare or to do gladly, counting with certainty that there is no hazard 
about it. So children can trust their father or their mother; so friends 
and lovers can trust one another. But it is very hard, somehow, to trust 
God so. Precisely such trust is what he wants of us; but--we do not know 
him well enough! "They that know thy name _will put their trust in  
thee_." Yet it is rare, rare, to find a Christian who can use Faber's 
words--

   "I know not what it is to doubt; 
   My mind is ever gay; 
   I run no risk, for come what will, 
   Thou always hast thy way." 


Rotha at any rate had not got so far. Her mind was in a troubled state, 
as she sat at the window of the Tanfield hotel and stared out into the 
dewy dusk of the morning. It was indignant besides; and that is a very 
disturbing element in one's moods. She felt wronged, and she felt 
helpless. The sweet trust of the night seemed to have deserted her. A 
weary sense of loneliness and forlornness came instead, and at last found 
its safest expression in a good hearty fit of weeping. That washed off 
some of the dust from her tired spirit. 

When she raised her head again and looked out, the dawn was really coming 
up in the sky. Things were changed. There was a sweeter breath in the 
air; there was an indefinable stir of life in all nature. The grey soft 
light was putting out the stars; the tops of the trees swayed gently in a 
morning breeze; scents came fresher from flowers and fields; scents so 
rarely spicy and fragrant as dwellers in towns never know them, as all 
towns of men's building banish them. Birds were twittering, cocks were 
crowing; and soon a stir of humanity began to make itself known in the 
neighbourhood; a soft, vague stir and movement telling of the awaking to 
life and business and a new day. Feet passed along the corridor within 
doors, and doors opened and shut, voices sounded here and there, horses 
neighed, dogs barked. Rotha sat still, looking, watching, listening, with 
a growing spring of life and hope in herself answering to the movement 
without her. And then the light broadened; dusky forms began to take 
colour; the eastern sky grew bright, and the sun rose. 

Now Rotha could see about her. She was in a well-built village. Well-to-
do looking house tops appeared between the leafy heads of trees that were 
much more than "well-to-do"; that were luxuriant, large, and old, and 
rich in their growth and thriving. The road Rotha could not see from her 
window; however, what she did see shewed that the place was built 
according to the generous roomy fashion of New England villages; the 
houses standing well apart, with gardens and trees around and between 
them; and furthermore there was an inevitable character of respectability 
and comfort apparent everywhere. Great round elm heads rose upon her 
horizon; and the roof trees which they shadowed were evidently solid and 
substantial. This town, to be sure, was not Rotha's place of abode; yet 
she might fairly hope to find that, when she got to it, of the like 
character. 

She sat at the window almost moveless, until she was called to her early 
breakfast. It was spread in a very large hall-like room, where small 
tables stood in long rows, allowing people to take their meals in a sort 
by themselves. Rotha placed herself at a distance from all the other 
persons who were breakfasting there, and was comfortably alone. 

She never forgot that meal in all her life. She wanted it; that was one 
thing; she was faint and tired, with her night journey and her morning 
watch. The place was brilliantly clean; the service rendered by neat 
young women, who went back and forth to a room in the rear whence the 
eatables were issued. And very excellent they were, albeit not in the 
least reminding one of Delmonico's; if Delmonico had at that day existed 
to let anybody remember him. No doubt, it might have been difficult to 
guess where the coffee was grown; but it was well made and hot and served 
with good milk and cream; and Rotha was exhausted and hungry. The coffee 
was simply nectar. The corn bread was light and sweet and tender; the 
baked potatoes were perfect; the butter was good, and the ham, and the 
apple sauce, and the warm biscuit. There was a pleasant sensation of 
independence and being alone, as Rotha sat at her little table in the not 
very brightly lit room; and it seemed as if strength and courage came 
back to her heart along with the refitting of her physical nature. She 
was not in a hurry to finish her breakfast. The present moment was 
pleasant, and afforded a kind of lull; after it must come action, and 
action would plunge her into she could not tell what. The lull came to an 
end only too soon. 

"Do you know where Mrs. Busby's place is?" she inquired of the girl that 
served her. 

"Place? No, I don't. Is it in Tanfield?" 

"It is near Tanfield." 

"You are not going by the train, then?" 

"No. I am going to this place. Can I get a carriage to take me there?" 

"I'll ask Mr. Jackson." 

Mr. Jackson came up accordingly, and Rotha repeated her question. He was 
a big, fat, comfortable looking man. 

"Busby?" he said with his hand on his chin--"I don't seem to recollect no 
Busbys hereabouts. O, you mean the old Brett place?" 

"Yes, I believe I do. Mrs. Busby owns it now." 

"That's it. Mrs. Busby. She was the old gentleman's daughter. The family 
aint lived here this long spell." 

"But there is somebody there? somebody in charge?" 

"Likely. Somebody to look arter things. You're a goin' there?" 

"If I can get a carriage to take me." 

"When'll you want it?" 

"Now. At once." 

"There aint no difficulty about that, I guess. Baggage?" 

"One small trunk." 

"All right I'll have the horse put to right away." 

So a little before eight o'clock Rotha found herself in a buggy, with her 
trunk behind her and a country boy beside her for a driver, on the way to 
her aunt's place. 

Eight o'clock of a May morning is a pleasant time, especially when May is 
near June. All the world was fresh and green and dewy; the very spirit of 
life in the air, and the very joy of life too, for a multitude of birds 
were filling it with their gleeful melody. How they sang! and how utterly 
perfumed was every breath that Rotha drew. She sniffed the air and tasted 
it, and breathed in full long breaths of it, and could not get enough. 
Breathing such air, one might put up with a good deal of disagreeableness 
in other things. The country immediately around Tanfield she found was 
flat; in the distance a chain of low hills shut in the horizon, blue and 
fair in the morning light; but near at hand the ground was very level. 
Fields of springing grain; meadows of lush pasture; orchards of apple 
trees just out of flower; a farmhouse now and then, with its comfortable 
barns and outhouses and cattle in the farmyard. Every here and there one 
or two great American elms, lifting their great umbrella-like canopies 
over a goodly extent of turf. Barns and houses, fences and gateways, all 
in order; nothing tumble-down or neglected to be seen anywhere; an 
universal look of thrift and business and comfort. The drive was 
inexpressibly sweet to Rotha, with her Medwayville memories all stirred 
and quickened, and the contrast of her later city life for so many years. 
She half forgot what lay behind her and what might be before; and with 
her healthy young spirit lived heartily in the present. The drive however 
was not very long. 

At the end of two miles the driver stopped and got down before a white 
gate enclosed in thick shrubbery. Nothing was to be seen but the gate and 
the green leafage of trees and shrubs on each side of it. The boy opened 
the gate, led his horse in, shut the gate behind him, then jumped up to 
his seat and drove on rapidly. The road curved in a semi-circle from that 
gate to another at some distance further along the road; and midway, at 
the point most distant from the road, stood a stately house. The approach 
was bordered with beds of flowers and shrubbery; a thick hedge of trees 
and shrubs ran along the fence that bordered the road and hid it from the 
house, sheltering the house also from the view of passers-by; and tall 
trees, some of them firs, increased the bowery and bosky effect. The 
house was well shut in. And the flower borders were neglected, and the 
road not trimmed; so that the impression was somewhat desolate. All 
windows and blinds and doors moreover were close and fastened; the look 
of life was entirely wanting. 

"Is there anybody here?" said Rotha, a little faint at heart. 

"I'll find out if there aint," said her boy companion, preparing to 
spring out of the wagon. 

"O give me the reins!" cried Rotha. "I'll hold them while you are gone." 

"You can hold 'em if you like, but he won't do nothin'," returned Jehu. 
And dashing round the corner of the house, he left Rotha to her 
meditations. All was still, only the birds were full of songs and pouring 
them out on all sides; from every tree and bush came a warble or a 
twitter or a whistle of ecstasy. The gleeful tones half stole into 
Rotha's heart; yet on the whole her spirit thermometer was sinking. The 
place had the neglected air of a place where nobody lives, and that has 
always a depressing effect. Her charioteer's absence was prolonged, too; 
which of itself was not cheering. At last he came dashing round the 
corner again. 

"Guess it's all right," he said. "But you'll have to git down, fur's I 
see; I can't git you no nearer, and she won't come to the front door. 
They don't never open it, ye see. So they says." 

Rotha descended, and bag in hand followed the boy, who piloted her round 
the corner of the house and along a weedy walk overhung with lilacs and 
syringas and overgrown rosebushes, until they were near another corner. 
The house seemed to be square on the ground. 

"There!" said he,--"you go jist roun' there, and you'll see the kitchen 
door--leastways the shed; and so you'll git in. Mrs. Purcell is there." 

"Who is Mrs. Purcell?" said Rotha stopping. 

"I d'n' know; she's the woman what stops here; her and Joe Purcell. She's 
Joe Purcell's wife. I'll git your trunk out, but you must send some un 
roun' to fetch it, you see." 

Rotha turned the second corner, while the boy went back; and a few steps 
more brought her round to the back of the house, where there was a broad 
space neatly paved with small cobble stones. An out-jutting portion of 
the building faced her here, and a door in the sane. This must be the 
"shed," though it had not really that character. Rotha went in. It seemed 
to be a small outer kitchen. At the house side an open ladder of steps 
led up to another door. Going up, Rotha came into the kitchen proper. A 
fire was burning in the wide chimney, and an old-fashioned dresser 
opposite held dishes and tins. Between dresser and fire stood a woman, 
regarding Rotha as she came in with a consideration which was more 
curious than gracious. Rotha on her part looked eagerly at her. She was a 
tall woman, very well formed; not very neatly dressed, for her sleeves 
were worn at the elbows, and a strip torn from her skirt and not torn 
off, dangled on the floor. The dress was of some dark stuff, too old to 
be of any particular colour. But what struck Rotha immediately was, that 
the woman was not a white woman. Very light she was, undoubtedly, and of 
a clear good colour, but she had not the fair tint of the white races. 
Red shewed in her cheeks, through the pale olive of them; and her hair, 
black and crinkly, was not crisp but long, and smoothly combed over her 
temples. She was a very handsome woman; a fact which Rotha did not 
perceive at first, owing to a dark scowl which drew her eyebrows 
together, and under which her eyes looked forth fiery and ominous. They 
fixed the new-comer with a steady stare of what seemed displeasure. 

"Good morning!" said Rotha. "Are you Mrs. Purcell?" 

"Who wants Mrs. Purcell?" was the gruff answer. 

"I was told that Mrs. Purcell is the name of the person who lives here?" 

"There's two folks lives here." 

"Yes," said Rotha, "I understood so. You and your husband work for Mrs. 
Busby, do you not?" 

"No," said the woman decidedly. "Us don't work for nobody. Us works for 
our ownselves;"--with an accent on the word "own." 

"This is Mrs. Busby's house?" 

"Yes, this is her house, I reckon." 

"And she pays you for taking care of it." 

"Who told you she does?" 

"Nobody told me; but I supposed it, of course." 

"She don't pay nothin'. Us pays her; that's how it is. Us pays her, for 
all us has; the land and the house and all." 

"I am Mrs. Busby's niece. Did she send you any word about me?" 

"Sent Joseph word--" said the woman mutteringly. "He said as some one was 
comin'. I suppose it's you. I mean, Mr. Purcell." 

"Then you expected me. Did Mrs. Busby tell you what you were to do with 
me?" 

"I didn't read the letter," said the woman, turning now from her 
examination of Rotha to take up her work, which had been washing up her 
breakfast dishes. "Joseph didn't tell me nothin'."  

"I suppose you know where to put me," said Rotha, getting a little out of 
patience. "I shall want a room. Where is it to be?" 

"_I_ don' know," said Mrs. Purcell, whose fingers were flying among her 
pots and dishes in a way that shewed laziness was no part of her 
character. "There aint no room but at the top o' the house. Joseph and me 
has the only room that's down stairs. I s'pose you wouldn't like one o' 
the parlours. The rest is all at the top." 

"Can I go to the parlour in the mean time, till my room is ready?--if it 
is not ready." 

"It aint ready. I never heerd you was comin', till last night. How was I 
to have the room ready? and I don' know which room it's to be." 

"Then can I go to the parlour? where is it?" 

"It's all the next floor. There's nothin' but parlours. You can go there 
if you like; but they aint been opened in a year. I never was in 'em but 
once or twice since I lived here." 

Rotha was in despair. She set her bag on one chair and placed herself on 
another, and waited. This was far worse even than her fears. O if she had 
but a little money, to buy this woman's civility! perhaps it could be 
bought. But she was thrown from one dependence to another; and now she 
was come to depend on this common person. She did not know what more to 
say; she could not do anything to propitiate her. She waited. 

"Have you had any breakfast?" said Mrs. Purcell, after some ten minutes 
had passed with no sound but that of her cups and plates taken up and set 
down. This went on briskly; Mrs. Purcell seemed to be an energetic 
worker. 

"Yes, thank you. I took breakfast at the hotel in Tanfield." 

"I didn't know but I had to cook breakfast all over again." 

"I will not give you any more trouble than I can help--if you will only 
give me a room by and by." 

"There's nothin' fur I to _give_--you can pick and choose in the whole 
house. Us has only these rooms down here; there's the whole big barn of a 
house overhead. Folks meant it to be a grand house, I s'pose; it's big 
enough; but I don't want no more of it than I can take care of." 

"You can take care of my room, I suppose?" said Rotha. 

The woman gave a kind of grunt, which was neither assent nor denial, but 
rather expressed her estimation of the proposal. She went on silently and 
rapidly with her kitchen work; putting up her dishes, brushing the floor, 
making up the fire, putting on a pot or two. Rotha watched and waited in 
silence also, trying to be patient. Finally Mrs. Purcell took down a key, 
and addressing herself to Rotha, said, 

"Now I'm ready. If you like to come, you can see what there is." 

She unlocked a door and led the way up a low flight of steps. At the top 
of them another door let them out upon a wide hall. The hall ran from one 
side of the house to the other. With doors thrown open to let in the air 
and light this might have been a very pleasant place; now however it was 
dark and dank and chilly, with that dismal closeness and rawness of 
atmosphere which is always found in a house long shut up. Doors on the 
one hand and on the other hand opened into it, and at the end where the 
two women had entered it, ran up a wide easy staircase. 

"Will you go higher?" said Mrs. Purcell; "or will you have a room here?" 

Rotha opened one of the doors. Light coming scantily in through chinks in 
the shutters revealed dimly a very large, very lofty apartment, furnished 
as a drawing-room. She opened another door; it gave a repetition of the 
same thing, only the colour of the hangings and upholsteries seemed to be 
different. A third, and a fourth; they were all alike; large, stately 
rooms, fit to hold a great deal of company, or to accommodate an 
exceedingly numerous family with sitting and dining and receiving rooms. 
The four saloons took up the entire floor. 

"There is no bedroom here," said Rotha. 

"The folks that lived here didn't make no 'count o' sleepin', I guess. 
They put all the house into their parlours. I suppose the days was longer 
than the nights, when they was alive." 

"But there must be bedrooms somewhere?" 

"You can go up and see. _Us_ wouldn't sleep up there for nothin'. Us 
could ha' took what we liked when us come; but I said to Mr. Purcell,--I 
said,--I wasn't goin' to break my back runnin' up and down stairs; and if 
he wanted to live up there, he had got to live without I. So us fixed up 
a little room down near the kitchen. These rooms is awful hot in summer, 
too. I can dry fruit in 'em as good as in an oven." 

They had reached the top story of the house by this time, after climbing 
a long flight of stairs. Here there were a greater number of rooms, and 
indeed furnished as bedrooms; but they were low, and immediately under 
the roof. The air was less dank than in the first story, but excessively 
close. 

"Is this all the choice I have?" Rotha asked. 

"Unless us was to give you our room." 

"But nobody else sleeps in all this part of the house!" 

"No," said Mrs. Purcell, with an action that answered to a Frenchman's 
shrug of the shoulders; "you can have 'em all, and sleep in 'em all, one 
after the other, if you like. There's nobody to object." 

"But suppose I wanted something in the night?" said Rotha, who did not in 
the least relish this liberty. 

"You'd have to holler pretty loud, if you wanted I to do anything for 
you. I guess you'll have to learn to wait on yourself." 

"O it isn't that," said Rotha; "I can wait on myself; but if I wanted--
something I couldn't do for myself--if I was frightened--" 

"What's to frighten you?" 

"I do not know--" 

"If you got frightened, all you'd have to do would be to take your little 
feet in your hand and run down to we; that's all you could do." 

Rotha looked somewhat dismayed. 

"I could ha' told you, it wasn't a very pleasant place you was a comin' 
to," Mrs. Purcell went on. "Sick o' your bargain, aint ye?" 

"What bargain?" 

"I don' know! Which o' these here rooms will you take? You've seen the 
whole now." 

Rotha was very unwilling to make choice at all up there. Yet a thought of 
one of those great echoing drawing rooms was dismissed as soon as it 
came. At last she fixed upon a room near the head of the stairs; a corner 
room, with outlook in two directions; flung open the windows to let the 
air and the light come, in; and locked up her bag in a closet. 

"There aint nobody to meddle with your things," observed Mrs. Purcell, 
noticing this action,--"without it's me; and I've got enough to do down 
stairs. There's nothin' worse than rats in the house." 

"Have you some sheets and towels for me?" said Rotha. "And can you give 
me some water by and by?" 

"I've got no sheets and towels but them as us uses," replied Mrs. 
Purcell. "Mrs Busby haint said nothin' about no sheets and towels. Those 
us has belongs to we. They aint like what rich folks has." 

"I have brought none with me, of course. Mrs. Busby will pay you for the 
use of them, I have no doubt." 

"Mrs. Busby don't pay for nothin'," said the woman. 

"Will you bring me some water?" 

"I'll give you a pail, and you can fetch some for your own self. I can't 
go up and down them stairs. It gives me a pain in my back. I'll let you 
have some o' us's sheets, if you like." 

"If you please," said Rotha. 

"But I can't come up with 'em. I'd break in two if I went up and down 
there a few times. I'll let you have 'em whenever you like to come after 
'em." 

And therewith Mrs. Purcell vanished, and her feet could be heard 
descending the long stair. I think in all her life Rotha had never felt 
much more desolate than she felt just then. She let herself drop on a 
chair and buried her face in her hands. Things were worse, a hundred 
fold, than ever she could have imagined them. She was of rather a nervous 
temperament; and the idea of being lodged up there at the top of that 
great, empty, echoing house, with nobody within call, and neither help 
nor sympathy to be had if she wanted either, absolutely appalled her. 
True, no danger was to be apprehended; not real danger; but that 
consideration did not quiet fancy nor banish fear; and if fear possessed 
her, what sort of consolation was it that there was no cause? The fear 
was there, all the same; and Rotha thought of the yet distant shades of 
night with absolute terror. After giving way to this feeling for a little 
while, she began to fight against it. She raised her head from her hands, 
and went and sat down by the open window. Soft, sweet, balmy air was 
coming in gently, changing the inner condition of the room by degrees; 
Rotha put her head half out, to get it unmixed. It was May, May in the 
country; and the air was bringing May tokens with it, of unseen 
sweetness. There were lilies of the valley blooming somewhere, and 
daffodils; and there was the smell of box, and spice from the fir trees, 
and fragrance from the young leaf of oaks and maples and birches and 
beeches. There was a wild scent from not distant woods, given out from 
mosses and wild flowers and turf, and the freshness of the upturned soil 
from ploughed fields. It was May, and May whispering that June was near. 
The whisper was so unspeakably sweet that it stole into Rotha's heart and 
breathed upon its disturbance, almost breathing it away. For June means 
life and love and happiness. 

   "Everything is happy now; 
   Everything is upward striving; 
   'Tis as easy now for the heart to be true, 
   As for grass to be green or skies to be blue; 
   'Tis the natural way of living!" 


June was coming, and May was here; more placid and more pensive, but 
hardly less fair; that is, in her good moods; and Rotha insensibly grew 
comforted. _This_ delight would remain, whatever she had or had not 
within the house; there was all out of doors, and the Spring! and Rotha's 
heart made a great bound to meet it. She could live out of doors a great 
deal; and in the house--well, she would make the best of things. 

She drew in her head to take a survey. Yes, it was a snug room enough, 
once in nice order; and the first thing to do, she decided, was to put it 
in nice order. She must do it herself. O for one of those calicos, lying 
at present cut and basted in her trunk. She must make them up as fast as 
possible. With the feeling of a good deal of business on hand, Rotha's 
spirits rose. She went down to the kitchen again, and begged the loan of 
a big apron. Mrs. Purcell silently gave it. Then Rotha desired brushes 
and a broom and dusters, and soap and water and towels. One after another 
Mrs. Purcell placed these articles, such as she had, at her disposal. 

"My trunk is in the road by the front steps," she remarked. "Can you get 
it taken up for me?" 

"A trunk?" said Mrs. Purcell, knitting her brows again into the scowl 
which had greeted Rotha at the first. A very black scowl the latter 
thought it. 

"Yes, my trunk. It's a little one. Not much for anybody to carry." 

"Whatever did you want of a trunk?" 

"Why, to hold my things," said Rotha quietly. 

"Are you goin' to stay all summer?" 

"I hope not; but I do not know how long. My aunt is going on a journey; I 
must stay till she comes back." 

"Why didn't she let you go along?" 

"I suppose it was not convenient." 

A grunt from Mrs. Purcell. "Rich folks only thinks what's convenient for 
their own selves!" 

"But she will pay you for your trouble." 

"She'll pay Mr. Purcell, if she pays anybody. It don't come into _my_ 
pocket, and the trouble don't go into his'n." 

"I shall not be much trouble." 

"Where is you goin' to eat? You won't want to eat along o' we?" 

No, certainly, that was what Rotha did not want. She made no reply. 

"Mis' Busby had ought to send folks to take care o' her company, when she 
sends company. _I_ haint got no time. And us hasn't got no place. There's 
no place but us's kitchen--will you like to eat here? I can't go and tote 
things up to one o' them big parlours." 

"Do the best you can for me," said Rotha. "I will try and be content." 
And staying no further parley, which she felt just then unable to bear, 
she gathered together her brushes and dusters and climbed up the long 
stairs again. But it was sweet when she got to her room under the roof. 
The May air had filled the room by this time; the May sunshine was 
streaming in; the scents and sounds of the spring were all around; and 
they brought with them inevitably a little bit of hope and cheer into 
Rotha's heart. Without stopping to let herself think, she set about 
putting the place in order; brushed and dusted everything; washed up the 
furniture of the washstand; made up the bed, and hung towels on the rack. 
Then she drew an old easy chair to a convenient place by one of the 
windows; put a small table before it; got out and arranged in order her 
writing materials, her Bible and Scripture Treasury; put her bonnet and 
wrappings away in a closet; and at last sat down to consider the 
situation. 

She had got a corner of comfort up there, private to herself. The room 
was large and bright; one window looked out into the top of a great tulip 
tree, the other commanded a bit of meadow near the house, and through the 
branches and over the summits of firs and larches near at hand and apple 
trees further off, looked along a distant stretch of level country. No 
extended view, and nothing remarkable; but sweet, peaceful nature, green 
turf, and leafy tree growths; with the smell of fresh vegetation and the 
spiciness of the resiny evergreens, and the delicious song and chipper 
and warble of insects and birds. It all breathed a breath of content into 
Rotha's heart. But then, she was up here alone at the top of the house; 
there was all that wilderness of empty rooms between her and the rest of 
the social world; and at the end of it, what? Mrs. Purcell and her 
kitchen; and doubtless, Mr. Purcell. And what was Rotha to do, in the 
midst of such surroundings? The girl grew almost desperate by the time 
she had followed this train of thought a little way. It seemed to her 
that her pleasant room was a prison and Mr. and Mrs. Purcell her jailers; 
and her term of confinement one of unknown duration. If she had only a 
little money, then she would not be so utterly helpless and dependent; 
even money to buy Mrs. Purcell's civility and good-will; or if she had a 
little more than that, she might get away. Without any money, she was 
simply a prisoner, and at the mercy of her jailers. O what had become of 
her friends! Where was Mr. Southwode, and how could he have forgotten 
her? and how was it that Mrs. Mowbray had been taken from her just now, 
just at this point when she was needed so dreadfully? Rotha could have 
made all right with a few minutes' talk to Mrs. Mowbray; to write and 
state her grievances, she justly felt, was a different thing, not so easy 
nor so manifestly proper. She did not like to do what would be in effect 
asking Mrs. Mowbray to send for her and keep her during her aunt's 
absence. No, it was impossible to do that. Rotha could not Better bear 
anything. But then,--here she was with no help! 

It all ended in some bitter weeping. Rotha was too young yet not to find 
tears a relief. She cried herself tired; and then found she was very much 
in need of sleep. She gave herself up to it, and to forgetfulness. 


CHAPTER XXIV. 


THE PURCELLS. 


Rotha's sleep had not lasted two hours when it was interrupted. There 
came a pounding at her door. She jumped up and unlocked it. 

"Joseph said, he guessed you'd want some dinner. I told him, I didn't 
know as you'd care for the victuals us has; but it's ready, if you like 
to come and try." 

The extreme rudeness of the woman acted by way of a counter irritant on 
Rotha, and gave her self-command and composure. She answered civilly; 
waited to put her hair and dress in order, wisely resolving to lose no 
means of influence and self-assertion that were within her reach; and 
went down. 

A small table was set in the kitchen, coarsely but neatly, as Rotha saw 
at a glance. It was set for three; and the third at the table was the 
hitherto unseen Mr. Purcell. He was a white man; not so good-looking as 
his wife, but with a certain aspect of sense and shrewdness that was at 
least not unkindly. He nodded, did not trouble himself to rise as Rotha 
came in; indeed he was busily occupied in supplying himself with such 
strength and refreshment as viands can give; and to judge by his manner 
he needed a great deal of such strength and was in a hurry to get it. He 
nodded, and indicated with a second nod the place at table which Rotha 
was expected to take. 

"It's an unexpected pleasure," he said. "Prissy and me doesn't often have 
company. Hope you left Mis' Busby well?" 

Rotha had an instant's hesitation, whether she should accept the place in 
the household thus offered her, or claim a different one. It was an 
instant only; her sense and her sense of self-respect equally counselled 
her not to try for what she could not accomplish; and she quietly took 
the indicated seat, and answered that Mrs. Busby was well. 

"Now, what'll you eat?" Mr. Purcell went on. "We're plain folks--plainer 
'n you're accustomed to, I guess; and we eat what we've got; sometimes 
it's one thing and sometimes it's another. Prissy, she gen'lly fixes it 
up somehow so's it'll do, for me, anyhow; but I don' know how it'll be 
with you. Now to-day, you see, we've got pork and greens; it's sweet 
pork, for I fed it myself and I know all about it; and the greens is 
first-rate. I don' know what they be; Prissy picked 'em; but now, will 
you try 'em? If you're hungry, they'll go pretty good."

"They's dandelions--" said Mrs. Purcell. 

Pork and dandelions! Rotha was at first dumb with a sort of perplexed 
dismay; then she reflected, that to carry out her propitiating policy it 
would be best not to shew either scorn or disgust. She accepted some of 
the greens and the pork; found the potatoes good, and the bread of 
capital quality, and the butter sweet; and next made the discovery that 
Mr. Purcell had not overrated his wife's abilities in the cooking line; 
the dinner was really, of its kind, excellent. She eat bread and butter, 
then conscious that two pair of eyes were covertly watching her, nibbled 
at her greens and pork; found them very passable, and ended by making a 
good meal. 

"You was never in these parts before?" Mr. Purcell asked meanwhile. 

"No," said Rotha. "Never." 

"Mis' Busby comin' along, some o' these days?" 

"No, I think not. I have not heard anything about her coming here." 

"'Spect she likes grand doings. Does she live very fine, down to New 
York?" 

"How do you mean?" 

"All the folks does, in the City o' Pride," remarked Mrs. Purcell. 

"Do Mis' Busby?" persisted her husband. "Be they all highflyers, to her 
house?" 

"I do not know what you mean by 'highflyers.'" 

"Folks that wears heels to their shoes," put in Mrs. Purcell. "They can't 
set foot to the ground, like common folks. And they puts their hair up in 
a bunch on the top." 

"Anybody can do that," said Mr. Purcell, sticking his knife in the butter 
to detach a portion of it. 

"Anybody can't, Joe! that's where you're out. It takes one o' them 
highflyers. And then they thinks, when their heels and their heads is all 
right, they've got up above the rest of we." 

"You can put your hair any way you've a mind to," returned her husband. 
"There can't none of  'em get ahead o' you there." 

Both parties glanced at Rotha. Her long hair was twisted up in a loose 
knot on the top of her head; very becoming and very graceful; for without 
being in the least disorderly it was careless, and without being in the 
least complicated or artificial it was inimitable, by one not initiated. 
Husband and wife looked at her, looked at each other, and laughed. 

"Mis' Busby writ me about you," said Joe, slightly changing the subject. 
"She said, you was one o' her family." 

"She is my aunt." 

"She is! I didn't know Mis' Busby never had no brother, nor sister', nor 
nothin'." 

"She had a sister once." 

"She aint livin' then. And you live with Mis' Busby?" 

"Yes." 

"Well, 'taint none o' my business, but Mis' Busby didn't say, and I 
didn't know what to think. She said you was comin', but she didn't say 
how long you was goin' to stay; and we'd like to know that, Prissy and 
me; 'cause o' course it makes a difference." 

"In what?" said Rotha, growing desperate. 

"Well, in our feelin's," said Mr. Purcell, inclining his head in a suave 
manner, indicating his good disposition. "You see, we don' know how to 
take care of you, 'thout we knowed if it was to be for a week, or a 
month, or that. Mis' Busby only said you was comin'; and she didn't say 
why nor whether." 

"I do not know," said Rotha. "You must manage as well as you can without 
knowing; for I cannot tell you." 

"Very good!" said Mr. Purcell, inclining his head blandly again; "then 
that's one point. You don' know yourself." 

"No." 

"That means she aint a goin' in a hurry," said Mrs. Purcell. "There's her 
trunk, Joe, that you've got to tote up stairs." 

"I'll do that," said Joe rising; "if it aint bigger 'n I be. Where is it 
at?" 

"Settin' out in the road." 

"And where's it goin'?" 

"Up to her room. She'll shew you." 

Rotha mounted the stairs again, preceding Joe and her trunk, and feeling 
more utterly desolate than it is easy to describe. Shut up here, at the 
top of this great empty house, and with these associates! Her heart 
almost failed her. 

"Well, you've got it slicked up here, nice!" was Mr. Purcell's 
declaration when he had come in and deposited the little trunk on the 
floor, and could look around him. "You find it pretty comfortable up 
here, don't you." 

"It's very far from the kitchen--" said Rotha with an inward shudder. 

"Well--'tis; but I don' know as that's any objection. Young feet don't 
mind runnin' up and down; and when you are here, you've got it to 
yourself. Well, you can take care o' yourself up here; and down stairs 
Prissy will see that you don't starve. I expect that's how it'll be." And 
with again an affable nod of his capable head, Mr. Purcell departed. 
Rotha locked the door, and went to her window; nature being the only 
quarter from which she could hope for a look or a tone of sympathy. The 
day was well on its way now, and the May sun shining warm and bringing 
out the spicy odours of the larches and firs. A little stir of the soft 
air lightly moved the small branches and twigs and caressed Rotha's 
cheek. A sudden impulse seized her, to rush out and get rid of the house 
and its inmates for a while, and be alone with the loveliness of the 
outer world. She threw a shawl round her, put on her straw bonnet, locked 
her door, and ran down. 

The front door of the main hall was fast, and no key in the lock; Rotha 
must go out as she had come in, through the kitchen. Mrs. Purcell was 
there, but made no remark, and Rotha went out and made her way first of 
all round to the front of the house. There she sat down upon the steps 
and looked about her. 

An unkept gravel road swept round from the gate by which she had entered, 
up to her feet, and following a similar curve on the other side swept 
round to another gate, opening on the same high-road. The whole sweep 
took in a semicircle of ground, which lay in grass, planted with a few 
trees. To explore this gravel sweep was the first obvious move. So Rotha 
walked down to the gate by which she had come in that morning, and then 
back and down to the corresponding gate on the other side. All along the 
way from gate to gate, there ran wide flower beds on both sides; the back 
of the flower beds being planted thick with trees and shrubbery. Old 
fashioned flowering shrubs stood in close and wildering confusion. Lilac 
bushes held forth brown bunches where the flowers had been. Syringas 
pushed sweet white blossoms between the branches of other shrubs that 
crowded them in. May roses were there, with their bright little red 
faces, modest but sweet; and Scotch roses, aromatic and wild-looking. 
There was a profusion of honeysuckle, getting ready to bloom; and 
laburnums hung out tresses of what would be soon "dropping gold." And 
Rotha stood still once before the snowy balls of a Guelder rose, so white 
and fresh and fair that they dazzled her. She went on, down to the gate 
furthest from Tanfield, and spent a little while there, looking up and 
down the road. A straight, well-kept country road it was, straight and 
empty. Not a house was in sight, and only farm fields on the other side 
of the bordering fences. Rotha would have gone out, and walked at least a 
rod or two, but that gate was locked. There was no traffic or intercourse 
in any direction but with Tanfield. The empty highway seemed very lonely 
and desolate to the gazer at the gate. How shut off from the world she 
was! shut off in one little corner where nobody would ever look for her. 
If Rotha had put any faith in her aunt's promises, of course she would 
not have minded a month's abode in this place; but she put no faith in 
her aunt, and had a sort of instinct that she had been sent here for no 
good reason, and would be allowed, or forced, to remain here for an 
indeterminate and possibly quite protracted length of time. The mere 
feeling of being imprisoned makes one long to break bounds; and so Rotha 
longed, impatiently, passionately; but she saw no way. A little money 
would enable her to do it. Alas, she had no money. Her aunt had taken 
care of that. After paying for her breakfast and drive, she had only a 
very few shillings left; not even enough to make any impression upon the 
good will of her guardians, or jailers. Somehow they seemed a good deal 
more like that than like servants. 

Rotha turned despairingly away from the gate and retraced her steps, 
examining the old flower beds more minutely. They were terribly 
neglected; choked with weeds, encroached upon by the bordering box, the 
soil hard and unstirred for many a day. Yet there were tokens of better 
times. Here there was a nest of lilies of the valley; there a mat of moss 
pink, so bright and fresh that Rotha again stood still to admire. 
Daffodils peeped out their yellow faces from tufts of encumbering weeds; 
and stooping down, Rotha found an abundance of polyanthus scattered about 
among the other things, and periwinkle running wild. Nothing was seen to 
advantage, but a great deal was there. If I stay here, thought Rotha, I 
will get hold of a hoe and rake, and put things to rights. The flowers 
would be good friends, any way. 

Coming up towards the house again, Rotha saw a road which branched off at 
right angles from the sweep and went straight on, parallel to the side of 
the house but at a good distance from it. She turned into this road. 
Between it and the house was one mass of thick shrubbery, thick enough 
and high enough to hide each from the other. Following 011, Rotha 
presently saw at a little distance on her right hand, the house being to 
the left, a black board fence with a little gate in it. The garden 
perhaps, she thought; but for the present she passed it. Further along, 
the shrubbery ceased; a few large trees giving pleasant shade and variety 
to the ground about the barns, which stood here in numbers. Stables, 
carriage house, barn, granary; there was a little settlement of 
outhouses. Rotha had a liking for this neighbourhood, dating from old 
Medwayville associations; her feet lingered; her eyes were gladly alive 
to notice every detail; her ears heard willingly even a distant grunting 
which told of the presence of the least amiable of farm-yard inhabitants, 
somewhere. Rotha opened a door here and there, but saw neither man nor 
beast. Wandering about, she found her way finally to a huge farmyard back 
of the barn. It was tramped with the feet of cattle, so cattle must be 
there at times. On one side of the farmyard she found the pig pen. It was 
so long since she had seen such a sight, that she stood still to watch 
the pigs; and while she stood there a voice almost at her elbow made her 
start. 

"Them pigs is 'most good enough to belong to Mis' Busby, aint they?" 

Mr. Purcell was coming at long strides over the barnyard, which Rotha had 
not ventured to cross; she had picked her way carefully along a very 
narrow strip of somewhat firm ground by the side of the fence. The man 
seemed disposed to be at least not unkindly, and Rotha could not afford 
to do without any of the little civility within her reach. So she 
answered rather according to her policy than her feeling, which latter 
would have bade her leave the spot immediately. 

"I am no judge." 

"Never see a litter o' piggies afore?" 

"I suppose I have, sometime." 

"Them's first-rate. Like to eat 'em?" 

"Eat them!" cried Rotha. "Such young pigs?" 

"Just prime now," said the man, looking at them lovingly over the fence, 
while grunting noses sniffing in his direction testified that the inmates 
of the pen knew him as well as he knew them. "Just prime; they's four, 
goin' on five, weeks old. Prissy's at me to give her one on 'em; and 
maybe I will, now you've come. I telled her it was expensive, to eat up a 
half a winter's stock for one dinner. I aint as extravagant as Prissy." 

"How 'half a winter's stock'?" said Rotha, by way of saying something. 

"Bless you, don't you see? Every one o' them fellers'd weigh two hundred 
by next Christmas; and that'd keep Prissy and me more'n half the winter. 
I s'pose you won't be here to help us eat it then?" 

"Next Christmas! No," said Rotha. "I shall not be here so long as that." 

"Summer's got to come first, hain't it? Well, you might be in a wuss 
place." 

Slowly Mr. Purcell and Rotha left the pig pen and the barnyard and came 
out into the space between the various farm buildings. 

"Where does that road lead to?" Rotha asked, pointing to one which ran on 
from the barns with a seemingly straight track between fields. 

"That? that don't lead no wheres." 

"Where should I find myself, if I followed it out to the end?" 

"You'd find yourself jammed up agin the hill. Don't you see them trees? 
that's a hill runnin' along there." 

"Running right and left? It is not high. Just a hilly ridge. What is on 
it?" 

"Nothin's on it, but a mean little pack o' savins Aint good for nothin'; 
not even worth cuttin' for firewood. What ever do you s'pose hills was 
made for? I mean, sich hills; that haint got nothin' onto 'em but rocks. 
What's the use of 'em?" 

"If it wasn't for hills, Mr. Purcell, your low lands would have no water; 
or only in a pond or a ditch here and there." 

"What's the reason they wouldn't? There aint no water on the hills now." 

"Springs?" 

"There's springs every place. I could count you a half a dozen in less'n 
half a mile." 

"Ay, but the springs come from the hills; and if it were not for the 
hills they would not be anywhere." 

"O' course it's so, since you say it," said Mr. Purcell, scratching his 
head with a comic expression of eye;--"but I never see the world when 
there warn't no hills on it; and I reckon you didn't." 

Rotha let the question drop. 

"I s'pose you'd say, accordin' to that, the rocks made the soft soil?" 

"They have made a good deal of it," said Rotha smiling. 

"Whose hammer broke 'em up?" 

"No hammer. But water, and weather; frost and wet and sunshine." 

"Sunshine!" cried Mr. Purcell.

"They are always wearing away the rocks. They do it slowly, and yet 
faster than you think." 

"But I'll tell you. You forget. The soil aint up there--it's down here." 

"Yes, I know. I do not forget. Water brought it down." 

Here Mr. Purcell went off into an enormous guffaw of laughter, amused to 
the last degree, and probably in doubt whether to think of his informant 
as befooled or befooling. He went off laughing; and Rotha returned slowly 
homeward. Half way towards the drive, she struck a walk which led 
obliquely through the tangled shrubbery to the kitchen door. 

Her room, when she reached it, looked cheerful and pleasant enough. The 
open windows let in the air and the sunshine, and the top of the tulip 
tree was glittering in the warm light. At the same time the slantness of 
the rays shewed that the afternoon was on its way. Night was coming. And 
a spasm of dread seized Rotha at the thought of being up there, quite 
alone, away from anybody, and without guardianship or help in any 
occasion of need or alarm. Rotha was of a nervous and excitable 
temperament, a coward physically, unaccustomed to being alone or to 
taking care of herself. She looked forward now to the darkness with 
positive dread and dismay. O for her little corner room at Mrs. 
Mowbray's, where she was secure, and in the midst of friends! O for even 
her cheerless little room at her aunt's, where at least there were people 
below her to guard the house! Here, quite alone through the long, still 
nights, and nobody within even calling distance, how should she ever 
stand it! For a little while Rotha's wits were half paralyzed with 
terror. Reason then began slowly to assert herself, and the girl's 
natural force of character arose to struggle with the incubus of fear. 
She reminded herself that nothing was more unlikely than a night alarm; 
that the house was known to be empty of all that might tempt thieves, and 
that furthermore also it was in the highest degree unlikely that the 
neighbourhood of Tanfield harboured such characters. Probably she was 
safer from disturbance up here, than either at Mrs. Mowbray's or at Mrs. 
Busby's. But of what use was the absence of disturbance, when there was 
the presence of fear? Rotha reasoned in vain. She had a lively 
imagination; and this excellent property now played her some of the arch 
tricks of which it is capable. Possible disturbances occurred to her; 
scenes of distress arose upon her vision, so sharp and clear that she 
shrank from them. Probable? No, they were not; but who should say they 
were not possible? Had not everything improbable happened in this world, 
as well as the things which were reasonably to be expected? And if only 
possible, if they were possible, where were comfort and security to be 
found? Without some degree of  both, Rotha felt as if she must quit the 
place, set out and walk to the hotel at Tanfield; only she had no 
money to pay her charges with if she were there. 

Distress, and be it that it was unreasonable, it was very real distress, 
drove her at last to the refuge we all are ready to seek when we can get 
no other. She took her Bible and sat down with it, to try to find 
something that would quiet her there. Opening it aimlessly at first; then 
with a recollection of certain words in it, she turned to the third 
psalm. 

"I cried unto the Lord with my voice, and he heard me out of his holy 
hill. Selah. I laid me down and slept; I awaked, for the Lord sustained 
me. I will not be afraid of thousands of people, that have set themselves 
against me round about." 

David had more than fancied enemies to fear; he was stating an actual, 
not a problematical case; and yet he could say "_I will not be afraid"!_ 
How was that ever possible? David was one of the Lord's people; true; but 
do not the Lord's people have disagreeable things happen to them? How can 
they, or how should they, "not be afraid"? Just to reach that blessed 
condition of fearlessness was Rotha's desire; the way she saw not. There 
was a certain comfort in the fact that other people had seen it and found 
it; but how should she? Rotha had none to ask beside her Bible, so she 
went to that Query, do the books and helps which keep us from applying to 
the Bible, act as benefits or hindrances? 

Rotha would have been greatly at a loss, however, about carrying on her 
inquiry, if it had not been for her "Treasury of Scripture Knowledge." 

Turning to it now as to a most precious friend, she took the words in the 
psalm she had been reading for her starting place. And the very first 
next words she was directed to were these:--

"I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep; for thou, Lord, only makest 
me to dwell in safety." Ps. iv. 8. 

Rotha stopped and laid down her face in her hands. O if she could quietly 
say that! O what a life must it be, when any one can simply and 
constantly say that! "Lay me down and sleep"; give up the care of myself; 
feel secure. But in the midst of danger, how can one? Rotha thought she 
must be a poor, miserable fraction of a Christian, to be so far from the 
feeling of the psalm; and probably she was right. "If ye had faith as _a 
grain of mustard seed_," the Lord used to say to his disciples; so 
apparently in his view they had scarce any faith at all. And who of us is 
better? How many of us can remove mountains? Yet faith as big as a grain 
of mustard seed can do that. What must our faith be? Not quite a 
miserable sham, but a miserable fraction. Rotha felt self-reproved, 
convicted, longing; however she did not see how she was at once to become 
better. She lifted her eyes, wet with sorrowful drops, and went on. If 
there were help, the Bible must shew it. Her next passage was the 
following:-- 

"It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of 
sorrows; for so he giveth his beloved sleep."--Ps. cxxvii. 2. 

Studying this a good while, in the light of her fears and wants, Rotha 
came to a sense of the exquisite beauty of it; which wiser heads than 
hers, looking at the words merely in cool speculation, do fail to find. 
She saw that the toiling and moiling of men passes away from the Lord's 
beloved; that what those try for with so much pains and worry, these have 
without either; and in the absolute rest of faith can sleep while the 
Lord takes care. His people are quiet, while the world wear themselves 
out with anxiety and endeavour. 

"His beloved."--I cannot have got to that, thought Rotha. I am not one of 
them. But I must be. That is what I want to be. 

The next thing was a promise to the Israelites, as far back as Moses' 
time; that if they kept the ways of the Lord, among other blessings of 
peace should be this: that they should lie down and none should make them 
afraid; but Rotha thought that hardly applied, and went further. Then she 
came to the word in the third of Proverbs, also spoken to the man who 
should "keep wisdom":--

"When thou liest down, thou shalt not be afraid; yea, thou shalt lie 
down, and thy sleep shall be sweet."--Prov. iii. 24. 

It set Rotha pondering, this and the former passage. Is it because I am 
so far from God, then? because I follow and obey him so imperfectly? that 
I am so troubled with fear. Quite reasonable, if it is so. Naturally, the 
sheep that are nearest the shepherd, feel most of his care. What next? It 
gave her a stir, what came next: It was in the time of the early church; 
James, the first martyr among the apostles, had been beheaded by Herod's 
order; and seeing that this was agreeable to the fanatical Jews, he had 
apprehended Peter also and put him in ward; waiting only till the feast 
of the Passover should be out of the way, before he brought him forth to 
execution. And it was the night preceding the day which should be the day 
of execution; "and the same night Peter was sleeping between two 
soldiers, bound with two chains." Chained to a Roman soldier on one side 
of him, and to another on the other side of him, on no soft bed, and 
expecting a speedy summons to death, _Peter was sleeping_. All sorts of 
characters do sleep, it is said, the night before the day when they know 
they are to be put to death; in weariness, in despair, in stolid 
indifference, in stoical calmness, in proud defiance. But Rotha knew it 
was upon no such slumbers that the "light shined in the prison," and to 
no such sleeper that the angel of the Lord came, or ever does come. That 
was the sleep of meekness and trust. 

The list of passages given by the "Treasury" on that clause of the third 
psalm here came to an end. Rotha had not enough, however; she took up the 
words in the 6th verse--"I will not be afraid," etc. And then she came to 
the burst of confident triumph in the 27th psalm. And then, 

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 
Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the 
mountains be carried into the midst of the sea."--Ps. xlvi. 1, 2. 

Here was a new feature. Trouble might come, yea, disaster; and yet the 
children of God would not fear. How that? Such absolute love, such 
perfect trust, such utter devotion to the pleasure of their Father, that 
what was his will became their will, and they knew no evil could really 
touch them? It must be so. O but this is a step further in the divine 
life. Or does this devotion lie also at the bottom of all those 
declarations of content and peace she had been reading? Rotha believed it 
must, after she had studied the question a little. O but what union with 
God is here; what nearness to him; what consequent lofty and sweet 
elevation beyond the reach of earthly trouble. Rotha got no further. She 
saw, in part at least, what she wanted; and falling on her knees there by 
the open window, she prayed that the peace and the life and the sweetness 
of the May might come into her heart, by the perfecting of love and faith 
and obedience there. She prayed for protection in her loneliness, and for 
the trust which saves from fear of evil. A great asking! but great need 
makes bold. She prayed, until it seemed as if she could pray no longer; 
and then she went back to her Bible again. But gradually there began to 
grow up a feeling in Rotha, that round the walls of her room there was an 
invisible rampart of defence which nothing evil could pass. And when one 
of her Bible references took her to the story of Elisha, shut up in a 
city enclosed by an army of enemies, but whose servant's eyes in answer 
to his prayer were opened to see "the mountain full of horses and 
chariots of fire round about Elisha"--her faith made a sort of spring. 
She too seemed to have a sight of the invisible forces, mostly undreamed 
of because unseen, which keep guard around the Lord's people; and she 
bowed her head in a sort of exulting gladness. Why this was even better 
than to need no defence, to know that such defence was at hand. Without 
danger there could be no need of guard; and is not such unseen ministry a 
glorious companionship? and is it not sweeter to know oneself safe in the 
Lord's hand, than to be safe, if that could be, anywhere else? 

I have learned one thing, said Rotha to herself, as she rose to make some 
final arrangements for the evening. I wonder if I came here partly to 
learn this? But what can I have been brought here for, indeed? There is 
some reason. There is the promise that everything shall work for good to 
them that love God; so according to that, my coming here must work good 
for me. But how possibly? What am I to do, or to learn, here? It must be 
one thing or the other. My learning in general seems to be stopped, 
except Bible learning. Well, I will carry that on. I shall have time 
enough. What else in all the world can I do? 

Her unfinished calico dresses occurred to her. There was work for some 
days at least. Perhaps by that time she would know more. For the present, 
with a glad step and a lightened heart she went about her room, arranging 
certain things in what she thought the prettiest and most convenient way; 
got out some clothes, and even work; and then wished she had a book. 
Where was she to get books to read? and how could she live without them? 
This question was immediately so urgent that she could not wait to have 
it settled; she must go down without delay to Mrs. Purcell, and see if 
any information respecting it was to be had in that quarter. 


CHAPTER XXV. 


ROTHA'S REFUGE. 


The kitchen was all "redd up," as neat as wax; everything in its place; 
and at the table stood Mrs. Purcell with her sleeves rolled up to her 
elbows and her arms in a great pan, hard at work kneading bread. She 
looked clean too, although her dress was certainly dilapidated; perhaps 
that was economy, though a better economy would have mended it. So Rotha 
thought. She did not at once start the business she had come upon; she 
stood by the table watching the bread-making operation. Mrs. Purcell eyed 
her askance. This woman had most remarkable eyes. Black they were, as 
sloes, and almond shaped; and they could look darker than black, and 
fiery at the same time; and they could look keen and sly and shrewd, and 
that is the way they looked out of their corners at Rotha now, with an 
element of suspicion. A little while without speech. She was kneading her 
dough vigorously; the large smooth mass rolling and turning under her 
strong wrists and fingers with quick and thorough handling. 

"Isn't that rather hard work?" Rotha said. 

"I think all work's hard," was the morose-sounding answer. 

"Do you? But it would be harder not to do any." 

"That's how folks looks at it. I'd rather eat bread than make it. There 
aint no fun in work. I'd like to sit down and have somebody work for me. 
That's what you've been doin' all your life, aint it?" 

"Not quite," said Rotha gravely. 

"Can you make bread?" 

"No." 

"Then I s'pose you think I'll make your bread for you while you are 
here?" 

"I do not think about it," said Rotha with spirit. "I have nothing to do 
with it. My aunt sent me here. If you cannot keep me, or do not wish to 
keep me, that is your affair. I will go back again." 

"What did you come for?" 

"I told you; my aunt was leaving home." 

"Joe says, there's fish in the brook that'll jump at a fly made o' 
muslin--but I aint that sort o' fish. I didn't engage to make no bread 
for Mis' Busby when I come here." 

"Shall I write to my aunt, then, that it is not convenient for me to stay 
here." 

"You can if you like, for it _aint_ convenient; but it's no use; for Mr. 
Purcell don't care, and Mis' Busby don't care. I'll make all the bread 
you'll eat; I guess." 

"What do Mrs. Busby and Mr. Purcell not care about?" 

"They don't care whether I make bread all day, or not." 

"I hope it will not be for long," said Rotha, "that I shall give you this 
trouble." 

"I don't know how long it will be," said Mrs. Purcell, making out her 
loaves with quick dexterity and putting them in the pans which stood 
ready; "but I aint a fool. I can tell you one thing. Mis' Busby aint a 
fool neither; and when she pays anybody to go from New York here in the 
cars, it aint to pick her a bunch o' flowers and go back again." 

Rotha was not a fool either, and was of the same opinion. This brought 
her back to her business. 

"If I stay a while, I shall want to get at some books to read," she said. 
"Are there any in the house?" 

"Books?" said Mrs. Purcell. "I've never seen no books since I've been 
here." 

"Where can I get some, then? Where are there any?" 

"I don't know nothin' about books. I don't have no use for no books, my 
own self. I don't read none--'cept my 'little blue John.'" 

"Your 'little blue John'? What is that?" 

"I s'pose you have a big one." 

"I do not know what you mean." 

"I don't mean nothin'," said the woman impatiently. "There's my 'little 
blue John'--up on the mantel shelf; you can look at it if you want to." 

Looking to the high shelf above the kitchen fireplace, Rotha saw a little 
book lying there. Taking it down, she was greatly astonished to find it a 
copy of the gospel of John, a little square copy, in limp covers, very 
much read. More surprised Rotha could hardly have been. 

"Why, do you like this?" she involuntarily exclaimed. 

"Sometimes I think I do,"--was Mrs. Purcell's ambiguous, or ironical, 
answer; as she carefully spread neat cloths over her pans of bread. Rotha 
wondered at the woman. She was handsome, she had a good figure and 
presence; but there was a curious mixture of defiance and recklessness in 
her expression and manner. 

"I see you have read it a good deal." 

"It's easy readin',"--was the short answer. 

"Do you like the gospel of John so much better than all the rest of the 
Bible?" 

"I don' know. The rest has too many words I can't make out." 

"Well, I am very fond of the gospel of John too," said Rotha. "I think 
everybody is,--that loves Christ." 

"Do you love him?" Mrs. Purcell asked quickly and with a keen look. 

"Yes, indeed. Do you?" 

Mrs. Purcell laughed a little laugh, which Rotha could not understand. "I 
aint one o' the good folks"--she said. 

"But you might love him, still," said Rotha, drawn on to continue the 
conversation, she hardly knew why, for she certainly believed the woman's 
last assertion. 

"The folks that love him are good folks, aint they?" 

"They ought to be," said Rotha slowly. 

"Well, that's what I think. There's folks that _say_ they love him, and I 
can't see as they're no better for it. _I_ can't." 

"Perhaps they are trying to be better." 

"Do you think Mis' Busby is?" 

The question came with such sharp quickness that Rotha was at a loss how 
to answer. 

"She says she do. I aint one o' the good folks; and sometimes I tells Joe 
I'm glad I aint." 

"But Mrs. Purcell, that is not the way to look at it. I have seen other 
people that said they loved Christ, and they lived as if they did. They 
were beautiful people!" 

Rotha spoke with emphasis, and Mrs. Purcell gave her one of her sideway 
glances. "I never see no such folks," she returned cynically. 

"I am very glad I have," said Rotha; "and I know religion is a blessed, 
beautiful truth. I have seen people that loved Jesus, and were a little 
bit like him in loving other people; they did not live for themselves; 
they were always taking care of somebody, or teaching or helping 
somebody; making people happy that had been miserable; and giving, 
everywhere they could, pleasure and comfort and goodness. I have seen 
such people." 

"Where did they live?" 

"In New York." 

"Was they in Mis' Busby's house?" 

"Not those I was speaking of." 

"When I see folks like that, I'll be good too," was Mrs. Purcell's 
conclusion. 

"But you love this little book?" said Rotha, recurring to the thumb-worn 
little volume in her hand. 

"I didn't tell you I did." 

"No, but I see you do. I should think, anybody that liked the gospel of 
John, would want to be like what it says." 

"I didn't tell you I didn't." 

"No," said Rotha, half laughing. "I am only guessing, and wishing, you 
see. Mrs. Purcell, will you take some water up to my room?" 

The woman's brows darkened. "What for?" she asked. 

"To wash with. The water I took up this afternoon was for putting my room 
in order,--basin and pitcher and washstand, and wiping off dust. I want 
water, you know, every day for myself." 

"The water's down here--just out o' that door." 

"But I cannot wash down here." 

"I don't know nothin' about that, whether you can or whether you can't. 
That's where us washes. If you want to do it up stairs, there's nothin' 
to hinder you." 

"Except that somebody must carry up the water." 

"That's not _my_ business," said the woman. "You can take that pail if  
you want to; but you must bring it down again. That's my pail for goin'  
to the pump." 

Rotha hesitated. Must she come to this? And to doing _everything_ for 
herself and for her own room? For if carrying up the water, then surely 
all other services beside. Providing water was one of the least. Was it 
come to this? She must know. 

"Then you will not take care of my room for me, Mrs. Purcell?" she asked 
quietly. 

"Mis' Busby didn't write nothin' about my takin' care o' rooms," said 
Mrs. Purcell; "without they was empty ones. I've got you to take care of; 
I can't take o' your room too. You're strong and well, aint you, like 
other folks?" 

Rotha made no reply. She stood still, silent and indignant, both at the 
impertinence of the woman's speech and at the hardness of her aunt's 
unkindness. The shadow of the prospect before her fell upon her very 
gloomily and chill. Mrs. Purcell it was safest not to answer. Rotha 
turned, took up the pail and went to the pump. 

And there she stood still She set down her pail, but instead of pumping 
the water, she laid hold of the pump handle and leaned upon it What ever 
was to become of her? Must she be degraded not only to menial 
companionship but to manual labour also? Once no doubt Rotha had been 
familiar with such service; but that was when she was a child; and the 
years that had passed since then and the atmosphere of Mrs. Mowbray's 
house had ripened in her a love of refinement that was almost fastidious. 
Not only of innate refinement, which she knew would not be affected, but 
of refinement in all outward things; her hands, her carriage, her walk, 
her dress. Must she live now to do things which would harden her hands, 
soil her dress, bend her straight figure, and make her light step heavy? 
For how long? If she had known it would be only for a month, Rotha would 
have laughed at it, and played with it; instead of any such comforting 
assurance, she had a foreboding that she was to be left in Tan field for 
an indefinite length of time. She tried to reason herself out of this, 
saying to herself that she had really no ground for it; in vain. The sure 
instinct, keener than reason in taking evidence, forbade her. She stood 
in a sort of apathy of dismay, looking into the surrounding shrubbery and 
noting things without heeding them; feeling the sweet, still spring air, 
the burst of fresh life and the opening of fresh promise in earth and 
sky; hearing the birds twitter, the cocks crowing, and noticing that 
there was little else to even characterize, much less break, the silent 
peace of nature. In the midst of all this what she felt was revulsion 
from her present surroundings and companionship; and it was at last more 
to get out of Mrs. Purcell's near neighbourhood than for any other reason 
that she filled her pail and carried it up stairs to her room. She was 
half glad now that it was so far away from the kitchen. If she could but 
take her meals up there! She filled her pitchers; but did not immediately 
go back with Mrs. Purcell's pail. She sat down at the window instead, and 
crossing her arms on the sill, sat looking out, questioning the May why 
she was there? 

Oddly enough, it seemed as if the May answered her after a while. The 
beauty, the perfectness, the loveliness, the peace, held perhaps somewhat 
the same sort of argument with her as was addressed by the Lord himself, 
once upon a time, to his servant Job. Here there was no audible voice; 
yet I think it is still the same blessed Speaker that speaks through his 
works, and partly the same, or similar, things that he says. Could there 
be such order, such beauty, such plain adaptation, regularity and system, 
in one part of the works and government of God, and not in another. And 
after all it was He who had sent Rotha to this place and involved her in 
such conditions. Then surely for some reason. As the gentleness of the 
spring air is unto the breaking of winter's bands, and the rising of the 
sap is unto the swelling of the buds and by and by the bursting leaf, 
must it not be so surely a definite purpose with which she had been 
brought here? What purpose? Were there bands to be broken in her soul's 
life? were buds and leafage and flower to be developed in her character, 
for which this severe weather was but a safe and necessary precursor? It 
might be; it must be; for it is written that "all things work together 
for good to them that love God." Rotha grew quieter, the voice of the 
spring was so sweet and came so clear--"Child, trust, trust! Nothing can 
go wrong in God's management." She heard it and she felt it; but Rotha 
was after all a young disciple and her experience was small, and things 
looked unpromising. Some tears came; however she was comforted and did 
trust, and resolved that she would try to lose none of the profiting she 
might anyway gain. 

And, as she had now so few books to be busy with, might she not be meant 
to find one such great source of profiting in her Bible? 

She drew it to her and opened her little "Treasury." What ever could she 
do now without that? It gave her a key, with which she could go unlocking 
door after door of riches, which else she would be at a loss to get at. 
She opened it at the eighth chapter of Romans and looked at the 28th 
verse. 

"We know, that all things work together for good to them that love God--" 

But things that come through people's wickedness? 

She went on to the first reference. It was in the same chapter. "Who 
shall separate us from the love of Christ?" 

Well, nothing, and nobody. And if so, that love standing fast, surely it 
was guaranty enough that no harm should come. Tears began to run, another 
sort of tears, hot and full, from Rotha's eyes. Shall a child of God have 
that love, and know he has it, and worry because he has not somewhat 
else? But this was not exactly to the point. She would look further. 

What now? "We glory in tribulation," said the apostle; and he went on to 
say why; because the outcome of it, the right outcome, was to have the 
heart filled with the love of God, and so, satisfied. How that should be, 
Rotha studied. It appeared that trouble drove men to God; and that the 
consequence of looking to him was the finding out how true and how 
gracious he is; so fixing desire upon him, which desire, when earnest 
enough and simple enough, should have all it wanted. And cannot people 
have all this without trouble? thought Rotha. But she remembered how 
little she had sought God when her head had been full of lessons and 
studies and books and all the joys of life at Mrs. Mowbray's. She had not 
forgotten him certainly, but her life did not need him to fill any void; 
she was busied with other things. A little sorrowfully she turned to the 
next reference. Ge. 1. 20. Joseph's comforting words to the brothers who 
had once tried to ruin him. 

"As for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good,--" 

Rotha's heart made a leap. Yes, she knew Joseph's story, and what 
untoward circumstances they had been which had borne such very sweet 
fruit. Could it be, that in her own case things might work even so? Her 
aunt's evil intention do her no harm, but be a means of advantage? "All 
things shall work for good"--then, one way or the other way, but perhaps 
both ways. Yet she was quite unable to imagine _how_ good could possibly 
accrue to her from all this stoppage of her studies, separation from her 
friends, seclusion from all the world at the top of an empty house, and 
banishment to the society of Joe Purcell and his wife. To be sure, things 
were as dark with Joseph when he was sold for a slave. Rotha's heart was 
a little lightened. The next passage brought the water to her eyes again. 
O how sweet it ran! 

"Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these 
forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know 
what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments or 
no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with 
manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know, that he 
might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every 
word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live."--De. 
viii. 3, 4. 

"_Suffered thee to hunger_." Poor Rotha! the tears ran warm from her 
eyes, mingled but honest tears, in which the sense of _her_ wilderness 
and _her_ hunger was touched with genuine sorrow for her want of trust 
and her unwillingness to take up with the hidden manna. Yet she believed 
in it and prayed for it, and was very sure that when she once should come 
to live upon it, it would prove both sweet and satisfying. Ah, this was 
what she had guessed; there were changes to be wrought in herself, 
experiences to be attained, for the sake of which she had come to this 
place. Well! let the Lord dispose things as seemed to him best; she would 
not rebel. She would hope for the good coming. The next verse was one 
well known.

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble."--Ps. 
xlvi. 1. 

Yes, Rotha knew that. She went on, to Jeremiah's prophecy concerning a 
part of the captive Jews carried away to Babylon. And truly she seemed to 
herself in almost as bad a case. 

"Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel, Like these good figs, so will I 
acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent 
out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good. For I 
will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to 
their land; and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will 
plant them, and not pluck them up. And I will give them an heart to know 
me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their 
God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart."--Jer. xxiv. 
5-7. 

Rotha bowed her head upon her book. I am content! she said in herself. 
Let the Lord do even this with me, and take the way that is best. Only 
let me come out so!--

But the next wonderful words made her cry again. They cut so deep, even 
while they promised to heal so wholly. 

"And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them 
as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call 
on my name, and I will hear them; I will say, It is my people; and they 
shall say, The Lord is my God."--Zach. xiii. 9. 

If Rotha's tears flowed, her heart did not give back from its decision. 
Yes, she repeated,--I would rather be the Lord's tried gold, even at such 
cost; at any cost. Must one go through the fire, before one can say and 
have a right to say, "The Lord is my God"? or does one never want to say 
it, thoroughly, until then? But to be the Lord's pure gold I cannot miss 
that. I wonder if Mrs. Mowbray has been through the fire? Oh I know she 
has. Mr. Southwode?--I think he must. I remember how very grave his face 
used to be sometimes. 

Here Rotha's meditations were interrupted. She heard steps come clumping 
up the stairs, and there was a tap at her door. 

"Prissy's got supper ready," said Mr. Purcell. "I've come up to call 
you." 

With which utterance he turned about and went down the stairs again. 
Rotha gave a loving look at her Bible and "Treasury," locked her door, 
and followed him. 

"It's quite a ways to the top o' the house," remarked Mr. Purcell. "It'd 
be wuss 'n a day's work to go up and down every meal." 

"Nobody aint a goin' up and down every meal," said his wife. "_I_ aint, I 
can tell you." 

"How am I to know, then, when meals are ready?" Rotha asked. 

"I don' know," said Mr. Purcell; and his wife added nothing. Rotha began 
to consider what was her best mode of action. _This_ sort of experience, 
she felt, would be unendurable. 

The table was set with coarse but clean cloth and crockery. I might say 
much the same of the viands. The bread however was very good, and even 
delicate. Besides bread and butter there was cold boiled pickled pork, 
cold potatoes, and a plate of raw onions cut up in vinegar. Mr. Purcell 
helped Rotha to the two first-named articles. 

"Like inguns?" 

"Onions? Yes, sometimes," said Rotha, "when they are cooked." 

"These is rareripes. First rate--best thing on table. Better 'n if they 
was cooked. Try 'em?" 

"No, thank you." 

"I knowed she wouldn't, Joe," said Mrs. Purcell, setting down Rotha's cup 
of tea. "What us likes wouldn't suit the likes o' her. She's from the 
City o' Pride. Us is country folks, and don't know nothin'." 

"I've a kind o' tender pity for the folks as don't know inguns," said Mr. 
Purcell. "It's _them_ what don't know nothin'." 

"She don't want your pity, neither," returned his wife. "I'd keep it, if 
I was you. Or you may pity her for havin' to eat along with we; it's  
_that_ as goes hard." 

"You are making it harder than necessary," said Rotha calmly, though her 
colour rose. "Please to let me and my likings or dislikings alone. There 
is no need to discuss them." 

After which speech there was a dead, ominous silence, which prevailed 
during a large part of the meal. This could not be borne, Rotha felt. She 
broke the silence as Mrs. Purcell gave her her second cup of tea. 

"I have been thinking over what you said about calling me to meals. I 
think the best way will be, not to call me." 

"How'll you get down then?" inquired Mrs. Purcell sharply. 

"I will come when I am ready." 

"But I don't keep no table a standin'. 'Taint a hotel. If you'll eat when 
us eats, you can, as Joe and Mis' Busby will have it so; but if you aint 
here when us sits down, there won't be no other time. I can't stand 
waitin' on nobody." 

"I was going to say," pursued Rotha, "that you can set by a plate for me 
with whatever you have, and I'll take it cold--if it is cold." 

"Where'll you take it?" 

"Wherever I please. I do not know." 

"There aint no place but the kitchen." 

Rotha was silent, trying to keep temper and patience. 

"And when I've got my room cleaned up," Mrs. Purcell went on with 
increasing heat, "I aint a goin' to have nobody walkin' in to make a muss 
again. This room's my place, and Mis' Busby nor nobody else hasn't got no 
right in it. I aint a goin' to be nobody's servant, neither; and if folks 
from the City o' Pride comes visitin' we, they's got to do as us does. I 
never asked 'em, nor Joe neither." 

"Hush, hush, Prissy!" said her husband soothingly. 

"I didn't--and you didn't," returned his wife. 

"But Mis' Busby has the house, and it aint as if it warn't her'n; and the 
young woman won't make you no trouble she can help." 

"She won't make me none she _can't_ help," said Mrs. Purcell. "Us has to 
work, and I mean to work; but us has got work enough to do already, and I 
aint a goin' to take no more, for Mis' Busby nor nobody. You're just 
soft, Joe, and you let anybody talk you over. I aint." 

"You've got a soft side to you, though," responded Joe, with a calm 
twinkle in his eye. "I'd have a rough time of it, if I hadn't found  
_that_ out." 

A laugh answered. The sudden change in the woman's lowering face 
astonished Rotha. Her brows unknit, the lines of irritation smoothed out, 
a genial, merry, amused expression went with her laugh over to her 
husband; and the talk flowed over into easier channels. Mr. Purcell even 
tried after his manner to be civil to the stranger; but Rotha's supper 
choked her; and as soon as she could she escaped from the table and the 
onions and went to her room again. 

Evening was falling, but Rotha was not afraid any more. Her corner room 
under the roof seemed to her now one of the safest places in the world. 
Not undefended, nor unwatched, nor alone. She shut and locked her door, 
and felt that inside that door things were pleasant enough. Beyond it, 
however, the prospect had grown very sombre, and the girl was greatly 
disheartened. She sat down by the open window, and watched the light fade 
and the spring day finish its course. The air was balmier than ever, even 
warm; the lights were tender, the shadows soft; the hues in earth and sky 
delicate and varied and dainty exceedingly. And as the evening closed in 
and the shades grew deeper, there was but a change from one manner of 
loveliness to another; till the outlines of the tulip tree were dimly 
distinguishable, and the stars were blinking down upon her with that 
misty brightness which is all spring mists and vapours allow them. Yes, 
up here it was pleasant. But how in the world, Rotha questioned, was she 
to get along with the further conditions of her life here? And what would 
she become, she herself, in these coarse surroundings of companionship 
and labour? Either it will ruin me, or it will do me a great deal of 
good, thought she. If I do not lose all I have gained at Mrs. Mowbray's, 
and sink down into unrefined and hard ways of acting and feeling, it will 
be because I keep close to the Lord's hand and he makes me gentler and 
purer and humbler and sweeter by all these things. Can he? I suppose he 
can, and that he means to do it. I must take care I put no hindrance. I 
had better live in the study of the Bible. 

Very, very sorrowful tears and drooping of heart accompanied these 
thoughts; for to Rotha's fancy she was an exile, for an indefinite time, 
from everything pleasant in the way of home or society. When at last she 
rose up and shut the window, meaning to strike a light and go on with her 
Bible study, she found that in the disagreeable excitement of the talk at 
supper she had forgotten to provide herself with lamp or candle. She 
could not go down in the dark through the empty house to fetch them now; 
and with a momentary shiver she reflected that she could not get them in 
the night if she wanted them. Then she remembered--"The darkness and the 
light are both alike to Thee." What matter, whether she had a lamp or 
not? The chariots of fire and horses of fire that made a guard round 
Elisha, were independent of all earthly help or illumination. Rotha grew 
quiet. As she could do nothing else, she undressed by the light of the 
stars and went to bed; and slept as sweetly as those who are watched by 
angels should, the long night through. 


CHAPTER XXVI. 


ROTHA'S WORK. 


Spring had one of her variable humours, and the next day shewed a change. 
When Rotha awoke, the light was veiled and a soft rain was thickly 
falling. Shut up by the weather now! was the first thought. However, she 
got up, giving thanks for her sweet, guarded sleep, and made her toilet; 
then, seeing it depended on her alone to take care of her room, she put 
it carefully in order so far as was possible. It was early still, she was 
sure, though Rotha had no watch; neither voice nor stir was to be heard 
anywhere; and turning her back upon her stripped bed, the disorder of 
which annoyed her, she sat down to her Bible study. It is all I have got! 
thought she. I must make of it all I can.--May did not give her so much 
help this morning; the rain drops pattered thick and fast on leaf and 
window pane; the air was not cold, yet it was not genial either, and 
Rotha felt a chill creep over her. There was no way of having a fire up 
there, if she had wanted one. She opened her beloved books, to try and 
forget other things if she could. She would not go down stairs until it 
was certain that breakfast would be near ready. 

Carrying on the line of study broken off yesterday, the first words to 
which she was directed were those in 2 Cor. iv. 17, 18. 

"Our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far 
more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; while we look not at the 
things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen--" 

Poor Rotha at this immediately rebelled. Nothing in the words was 
pleasant to her. She was wont always to live in the present, not in the 
future; and she would be willing to have the glory yonder less great, so 
it were not conditioned by the trouble here. And with her young life 
pulses, warm and vigorous as they were, to look away from the seen to the 
unseen things seemed well nigh impossible and altogether undesirable. It 
was comfort that she wanted, and not renunciation. She was missing her 
friends and her home and her pursuits; she was in barren exile, amid a 
social desert; a captive in bonds that though not of iron were still, to 
her, nearly as strong. She wanted deliverance and gladness; or at least, 
manna; not to look away from all and find her solace in a distant vision 
of better things. 

I suppose it is because I have so little acquaintance with things unseen, 
thought Rotha in dismal candidness. And after getting thoroughly chilled 
in spirit, she turned her pages for something else. The next passages 
referred to concerned the blessedness of being with Christ, and the rest 
he gives after earth's turmoil is over. It was not over yet for Rotha, 
and she did not wish it to be over; life was sweet, even up here in her 
room under the roof. How soft was the rain-drop patter on the outer 
world! how beautiful the glitter of the rain-varnished leaves! how lovely 
the tints and hues in the shady depths of the great tulip tree! how 
cheery the bird song which was going on in spite of everything! Or 
perhaps the birds found no fault with the rain. I want to be like that, 
said Rotha to herself; not to be out of the storm, but to be able to sing 
through it. And that is what people are meant to do, I think. 

The words in the twelfth of Hebrews were some help to her; verses 10 and 
11 especially; confessing that for the time being, trouble was trouble, 
yet a bitter root out of which sweet fruit might grow; in "them which are 
exercised thereby." 

"Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees."-- 

Courage, hope, energy, activity; forbidding to despond or to be idle; the 
words did her good. She lingered over them, praying for the good fruits 
to grow, and forming plans for her "lifted-up" hands to take hold of. And 
then the first verses of the first chapter of James fairly laid a 
plaister on the wounds of her heart. "Count it all joy." "The trying of 
your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that 
ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing." 

Rotha almost smiled at the page which so seemed to smile at her; and took 
her lesson then and there. Patience. Quiet on-waiting on God. That was 
her part; the good issues and the good fruit he would take care of. Only 
patience! Yes, to be anything but patient would shew direct want of faith 
in him and want of trust in his promise. And then the words in 1 Peter i. 
6, 7, gave the blessed outcome of faith that has stood the trial; and 
finally came the declaration-- 

"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten; be zealous therefore, and 
repent." 

Rotha fell on her knees and prayed earnestly for help to act in 
accordance with all these words. As she rose from her knees, the thought 
crossed her, that already she could see some of the good working of her 
troubles; they were driving her to God and his word; and whatever did 
that must be a blessing. 

She ran down stairs, quite ready now for her breakfast. Entering the 
kitchen, she stood still in uncertainty. No table set, no cooking going 
on, the place in perfect order, and Mrs. Purcell picking over beans at 
the end of the table. The end of the table was filled with a great heap 
of the beans, and as she looked them over Mrs. Purcell swept them into a 
tin pan in her lap. She did not pause or look up. Rotha hesitated a 
moment. 

"Good morning!" she said then. "Am I late?" 

"I don' know what folks in the City o' Pride calls early. 'Thout knowing 
that, I couldn't say." 

"But is breakfast over?" 

"Joe and me, us has had our breakfast two hours ago." 

"I did not know it was so late! I had no notion what o'clock it was." 

"Joe said, he guessed you was sleepin' over. That's what he said." 

"Well, have you kept any breakfast for me, Mrs. Purcell?" 

"I didn't set by nothin' in particular. I didn't know as you'd be down 
'fore dinner. You didn't say." 

Rotha waited a minute, to let patience have a chance to get her footing; 
she seemed to be tottering. Then she said, and she said it quietly, 

"Where can I get something to eat?" 

"I don' know," said the woman indifferently. 

"But I must have some breakfast," said Rotha. 

"Must you? Well, I don' know how you'll get it. _My_ hands is full." 

"You must give it to me," said Rotha firmly. "I will take it cold, or any 
way you please; but I must have something." 

Mrs. Purcell sat silent at her bean picking, and there was a look of 
defiance on her handsome face which nearly put Rotha's patience to a 
shameful rout. She hardly knew how to go on; and was extremely glad to 
see Mr. Purcell come in from the lower kitchen. 

"Wet mornin'!" said Mr. Purcell, with a little jerk of his head which did 
duty for a salutation. 

"Mr. Purcell," said Rotha, "I am glad you are come; there is a question 
to be decided here." 

"No there aint; it's decided," put in Mr. Purcell's wife. The man looked 
as if he would like to be left out of the question; but with a resigned 
air he asked, "What is it?" 

"Whether, while I am in this house, I can have my proper meals, and have 
them properly." 

"You can have your meals, if you'll come to 'em," said Mrs. Purcell, 
picking her beans. 

Rotha was too vexed to speak again, and looked to the man. 

"Well--you see," he began conciliatingly, as much towards his wife as 
towards her, Rotha thought, "you see, Prissy has her work, and she has a 
lot of it; and she likes to do it reg'lar. It kind o' puts her out, you 
see, to be gettin' breakfast all along the mornin'. Now she's gettin' her 
dinner. She's like a spider;--let her alone, and put nothin' in her way, 
and she'll spin as pretty a web as you'll see; but if you tangle it up, 
it'll never get straight again." 

Mrs. Purcell kept diligently picking her beans over and sweeping them 
into her pan. 

"You do not meet the question yet," said Rotha haughtily. 

"Well, you see, the best way would be for you to be along at meal times; 
when they's hot and ready on the table. Then one more wouldn't make so 
much difference." 

"I have no way of knowing when the meals are ready. If Mrs. Purcell will 
set by some for me on a plate, and a cup of coffee, I will take it, not 
good nor hot." 

"My victuals aint bad when they's cold," put in Mrs. Purcell here. 

"Well, Prissy, can't you do that?" asked her husband. 

"You can do it if you like," she said, getting up at last from the table, 
whence the great heap of beans had disappeared. "It ain't nothin' to me 
what you do." 

Mr. Purcell demanded no more of a concession from his housekeeper, but 
went forthwith to one cupboard after another and fetched forth a plate 
and cup and saucer, knife and fork and spoon, and finally bread, a 
platter with cold fried pork on it, and some butter. He had not washed 
his hands before shewing this civility; and Rotha looked on in doubtful 
disgust. 

"Where's the coffee, Prissy?" 

"The last of it went down your throat. You never leaves a drop in the 
coffee pot, and wouldn't if there was a half a gallon. What's the use o' 
askin' me, when you know that?" 

"Can I have a glass of milk?" said Rotha. 

The milk was furnished, and she began to make a very good breakfast on 
bread and milk. 

"Aint there a bit o' pie, Prissy?" asked Mr. Purcell. 

"You've swallowed it. There aint no chance for nothin' when you're 
round." 

Upon which Mr. Purcell laughed and went out, glad no doubt to have the 
matter of breakfast disposed of without any more trouble. But Rotha eat 
slowly and thoughtfully. Breakfast was disposed of, but not dinner. How 
was she to go on? She meditated, tried to gather patience, and at last 
spoke. 

"It is best to arrange this thing," she said. "Meals come three times a 
day. If you will call me, Mrs. Purcell, I will come. If you will not do 
that, will you set by things for me?" 

"Things settin' round draws the flies. We'd be so thick with flies, we 
couldn't see to eat." 

"What way will you take, then?" 

"_I_ don' know!" 

All the while she was actively and deftly busy; putting her beans in 
water, preparing her table, and now sifting flour. Rotha came and stood 
at one end of the table. 

"I should not have thought," she said, "that anybody that loved the 
gospel of John, would treat me so." 

A metallic laugh answered her, which she could not help thinking covered 
some feeling. The woman's words however were uncompromising. 

"I didn't say I loved no gospel of John." 

"No, not in words; but the little book tells of itself that somebody has 
loved it." 

"I'll put it away, where it won't tell nothin'." 

"My aunt pays you for my board," Rotha went on, "and she expects that you 
will make me comfortable." 

"_What_ does she pay for your board?" said Mrs. Purcell, lifting up her 
head and flashing her black eyes at Rotha. 

"I do not know what. I did not read her letter. You must know." 

"She don't pay nothin' for you!" said the woman scornfully. "That's Mis' 
Busby! _She's_ a good Christian, and that's the way she does. She'll go  
to church, and say her prayers regular, and be a very holy woman; but  
she won't pay nobody nothin' if she can help it; and she thinks us'll do  
it, sooner 'n lose the place, and she can put you off on us for 
nothin'--don't ye see? So much savin' to her, and she can put the money 
in the collection. I don't believe in bein' no Christian! Us wouldn't do 
the like o' that, and us aint no Christians; and I like our kind better 
'n her kind." 

Rotha stood petrified. 

"You must be mistaken," she said at length. "My aunt may not have 
mentioned it, but it is of course that she pays you for your time and 
trouble, as well as for what I cost you."

"You don't cost _her_ nothin'," said Mrs. Purcell. "That's all she cares 
for. Us knows Mis' Busby. Maybe you don't." 

The last words were scornful. Rotha hardly heeded them, the facts of the 
case had cut her so deep. "Can it be possible!" she exclaimed in a 
stupefied way. Mrs. Purcell glanced at her. 

"You didn't know?" 

"Certainly not. Nothing would have made me come, if I had. Nothing would 
have made me! But I am dependent on my aunt. I have no money of my own." 
Two bitter tears made their way into Rotha's eyes. "Of course you do not 
want to take trouble for me," she went on. "I cannot much blame you." 

"Me and Joe has to live and get along, as 'tis; and it takes a sight o' 
work to take care o' Joe. 'Taint feedin' no chicken, to feed Joe Purcell; 
and Prissy Purcell has a good appetite her own self; and Joe, he won't 
eat no bread as soon as it's beginnin' to get dry; an' I has to bake 
bread all along the week. An' Joe, he's always gettin' into the bushes 
and tearin' his things, and he won't go with no holes in 'em; and nights 
I has to sit up and put patches. I put patches with my eyes shut, 'cause 
I's so sleepy I can't hold 'em open. An' he wears the greatest sight o' 
clothes of any man in Tanfield. He wears three shirts; there's his red 
flannel one, and one o' unbleached muslin--you know that is warm, next 
his skin; 'cause he won't have the flannel next his skin; and then there 
goes a white shirt over all; and the cuffs and the collar must be 
starched and stiff and shiny, or he aint satisfied. I tells him it aint 
no use; it won't stay so over five minutes; but anyhow, he is 
satisfied." 

"I shouldn't think it was wholesome to wear so many clothes," said Rotha. 

"He thinks 'tis." 

"You should coax him out of it." 

"Prissy Purcell has tried that, and she won't try it no more. There aint 
no coaxin' Joe. If he wants to do a thing, he'll do it his own self; and 
if he don't want to do it, you can't move him." 

Rotha paused a minute, to let the subject of Joe Puree 11 drop. 

"Well, Mrs. Purcell," she said then, "I am very sorry I am on your hands. 
I do not know exactly what to do. I will write to my aunt, and tell her 
how I am situated, and how _you_ are situated; but till her answer comes, 
how shall we do?" 

"She won't send no answer!" said Mrs. Purcell, in a much modified manner 
however. "Us knows her, Joe and me. She's got what she wants, and she's 
satisfied. She don't care for my trouble, nor for your trouble. She's 
great on savin', Mis' Busby is. She don't never pay nothin' she hadn't 
need to." 

"I am very sorry," said Rotha bitterly. "I will see if I can find some 
way of earning the money, Mrs. Purcell, so that I can pay you for the 
cost and trouble I put you to. But I must have time for that; and 
meanwhile, what will you do?" 

"Us wouldn't think so much of it," Mrs. Purcell went on, "if she didn't 
set up for bein' somethin' o' extras. I don't make no count o' no such 
Christians. Mis' Busby wouldn't miss the Communion!--" And the speaker 
looked up at Rotha, as if to see what she thought on the subject. 

"There are different sorts of Christians," said Rotha. "Meanwhile, how 
shall we arrange things, Mrs. Purcell?" 

"Will all sorts of Christians get to heaven," was Mrs. Purcell's 
response, the query put with her sharp black eyes as well as with her 
lips. 

"Why no! Of course not. Christians are not all alike; but it is only true 
Christians whom the Lord will call his own." 

"How aint they alike? how is they different?" 

"Real Christians? Well--some of them are ignorant, and some are wise. 
Some have had good teachings and good helpers, and some have had none; 
it makes a difference." 

"I thought they was all one." 

"So they are, in the main things. They all love Christ, and trust in his 
blood, and do his will. So far as they know it, at least. 'Whosoever 
shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my 
brother, and sister, and mother.' So Jesus said, when he was upon earth." 

Mrs. Purcell stopped in what she was doing and looked up at Rotha. "That 
aint in my 'little blue John,'" she said. 

"No, I think the words are in Matthew." 

"And aint no other people Christians, but them as is like that?" 

"You know what is written in the fourteenth chapter of John--'He that 
hath my commandments and _keepeth them_, he it is that loveth me.'" 

"And aint there no other sort?" inquired Mrs. Purcell, still peering into 
Rotha's eyes. 

"Of Christians? Certainly not. Not of real Christians. How could there 
be?" 

"Then I don't believe there aint none." 

"O yes, there are! Many, many. True believers and servants of the Lord 
Jesus." 

"Then Prissy Purcell never see one of 'em," said the woman decidedly. 

It shot through Rotha's mind, how careful she must be. This woman's whole 
faith in Christianity might depend on how she behaved herself. She stood 
soberly thinking, and then came back to the immediate matter in hand. 

"I will pay you, Mrs. Purcell, for my cost and trouble, if ever I can," 
she said. "That is all I can say. I would go away, if I could. I do not 
want to be here." 

"It's hard on you, that's a fact," said the woman. "Well, us won't make 
it no harder, Joe and me. We aint starvin'. Joe, he's money laid up; and 
us always has victuals to eat; victuals enough; and good, what they is, 
for Joe won't have nothin' else. I don' know if you can like 'em. But I 
can't go up all them stairs." 

"I will take care of my own room. Cannot you call me when dinner is 
ready, in some way?" 

"Joe can holler at you. He can go out and holler." 

"I'll have my window open, and I shall hear. And some day, Mrs. Purcell, 
I will pay you." 

"All right," said the woman, whose face was completely cleared up and 
looked pleasanter than Rotha could ever have believed possible. "Prissy 
Purcell will get you a good dinner." 

So the storm was laid; and Rotha went slowly up stairs, feeling devoutly 
thankful for that, but very, very sorrowful on her own account. Her, 
fancy was busy, all the while she was putting her room in order, with the 
possible future; feeling utterly doubtful of her aunt, in every possible 
respect, and very sad and depressed in view of her condition and in view 
of the extreme difficulty of mending it. Then flashed into her mind what 
she had been saying down stairs; and then, what she had been reading and 
thinking last night. To do her work, to trust the Lord, and _to be 
content_, were the duties that lay nearest to hand. 

The duties were far easier to see than to fulfil; however, Rotha took 
hold of the easiest first, and prayed her way toward the others. She got 
out her sewing; obviously, Mrs. Busby knew what she was about when she 
provided those calico dresses. The stuff was strong and troublesome to 
sew; the needle went through hard. Rotha sewed on it all day; and indeed 
for many days more. She kept at her work diligently, as I said, praying 
her way toward perfect trust and quiet content. In her solitude she made 
her Bible her companion; one may easily have a worse; and setting it open 
at some word of command or promise, she refreshed herself with a look at 
it from time to time, and while her needle flew, turned over the words in 
her mind and wrought them into prayer. And indeed Rotha had loved her 
Bible before; but after two weeks of this way of life she loved it after 
a new fashion, such as she had never known. It became sweet 
inexpressibly, and living; so that she seemed to hear the words spoken to 
her from heaven. And those days of solitary work grew into some of the 
loveliest days Rotha had ever seen. She would take her "Treasury," choose 
some particular thought or promise to start with, and from that go 
through a series of passages, explaining, elucidating, illustrating, 
enjoining, conditioning, applying, the original word. The care of her 
room, and carrying water up and down, gave her some exercise; not enough; 
but Rotha would not indulge herself with out of door amusement till her 
mantua making was done. 

She hoped for some temporary release from her prison when Sunday came. 
She was disappointed. May sent another pouring rain, and no going out was 
to be thought of. 

"Where do you go to church? when the sun shines," asked Rotha, as she sat 
at the breakfast-table and looked at the rain driving past the window. 
Silence answered her at first. 

"Where _do_ you go, Joe?" repeated his wife, with a laugh. "Us is wicked 
folks, Miss Carpenter. Joe, he don't like to tell on hisself; but 'taint 
no worse to tell 'u not to tell. So Prissy Purcell thinks." 

"Warn't the Sabbath made for rest?" Joe inquired now, with a gleam in his 
eyes. 

"For rest from our own work," said Rotha wonderingly. 

"Prissy and me, we haint no other; and it's a blessin' we haven't, for we 
get powerful tired at that. Aint that so, Prissy?" 

"Don't you go to church anywhere?" 

"Aint anywheres to go!" said Joe. "Aint no church nowheres, short o' 
Tanfield; and there's a difficulty. Suppos'n' I tackled up the bosses and 
went to Tanfield; by the time we got there, and heerd a sermon, and come 
back, and untackled, and put the hosses up and cleaned myself again, my 
day o' rest 'ud be pretty much nowhere. An' I don' know which sermon I'd 
want to hear, o' the three, if I was there. I aint no Episcopal; and I 
never did hold with the Methody's; and 'tother man, I'd as lieve set up a 
dip candle and have it preach to me. Looks like it, too." 

Rotha was in silent dismay. Tanfield was too far to go on foot and alone. 
Not even Sunday? I am afraid a good part of that Sunday was wasted in 
tears. 

The next morning brought a fresh difficulty. It suddenly flashed upon 
Rotha that she must have some clothes washed. 

That she should ask Mrs. Purcell to do it, was out of the question. That 
she should hire somebody else to do it, was equally out of the question. 
There remained--her own two hands. 

Her hands. Must she put them into the wash tub? Must they be roughened 
and reddened by hard work in hot and cold water? I am afraid pride had 
something to say here, besides the fastidious delicacy of refinement to 
which for a long while Rotha bad been accustomed, and which exactly 
suited the nature that was born with the girl. She went through a hard 
struggle and a painful one, before she could take meekly what was put 
upon her. But it _was_ put upon her; there was no other way; and there is 
no mistake and no oversight in God's dealings with his children. What he 
does not want them to do, he does not give them to do. It cost Rotha a 
good while of her time that morning, but at last she did see it, and then 
she accepted it. If God gave it to her to do, there could be no evil in 
the doing of it, and no hurt, and no disgrace. What she could do for God, 
was therewith lifted up out of the sphere of the low and common. Even the 
censers of Korah's wicked company were holy, because they had been used 
for the Lord; much more simple service from a believing heart. After a 
while Rotha's mind swung quite clear of all its embarrassments, and she 
saw her duty clear and took it up willingly. She went down at once then 
to the kitchen, where Mrs. Purcell was flying about with double activity. 
It certainly seemed that the rest of the Sunday had added wings to her 
heels. 

"Do you wash this morning, Mrs. Purcell?" 

"Yes. I aint one o' them as likes shovin' it off till the end o' the 
week. If I can't wash Monday, Prissy Purcell aint good to live with." 

"When will be a convenient time for me to do my washing?" 

"Ha' you things to wash?" 

"Yes, I am sorry to say. You will lend me a tub, and a little soap, won't 
you?" 

"I don' know whether I will or not. Suppos'n you've got the tub, do you 
know how to get your things clean? I don' believe you never done it." 

"No, I have never done it. But I can learn." 

"I guess it'd be more trouble to learn you, than to do the things. You 
fetch 'em here, and I'll do 'em my own self." 

"But I cannot pay you a cent for it, Mrs. Purcell; not now, at least. 
You'll have to take it on trust, if you do this for me." 

"All right," said Prissy. "You go fetch the things, 'cause I'm bound to 
have my tubs out o' the way before dinner." 

Rotha obeyed, wondering and thankful. The woman was entirely changed 
towards her; abrupt and unconventional, certainly, in manner and address, 
but nevertheless shewing real care and kindness; and shewing moreover 
what a very handsome woman she could be. Her smile was frank and sweet; 
her face when at rest very striking for its fine contour; and her figure 
was stately. Moreover, she was an uncommonly good cook; so that the 
viands, though plain, were made both wholesome and appetizing. In that 
respect Rotha did not suffer; the exclusive companionship of two such 
ignorant and unrefined persons was a grievance on the other hand which 
pressed harder every day. 

She kept herself busy. When her dresses were done, she began to spend 
hours a day out of doors. 

The sweet things in the flower borders which were choked and hindered by 
wild growth and weeds, moved her sympathy; she got a hoe and rake and 
fork from Mr. Purcell and set about a systematic clearing of the ground. 
It was a spacious curve from one gate to the other; and all the way went 
the flower border at one side of the road, and all the way on the other 
side, except where the house came in. Rotha could do but a little piece a 
day; but the beauty and pleasantness of that lured her on to spend as 
much time in the work as she could match with the necessary strength. It 
was so pretty to see the flowers in good circumstances again! Here a 
sweet Scotch rose, its graceful growth covered with wild-looking, fair 
blossoms; here a bed of lily of the valley; close by a carpet of lovely 
moss pink, which when cleared of encumbering weedy growth that half hid 
it, fairly greeted Rotha like a smile whenever she went out. And 
periwinkle also ran in a carpet over the ground, green with purple stars; 
daffodils were passing away, but pleasant yet to see; and little tufts of 
polyanthus and here and there a red tulip shewed now in all their 
delicate beauty, scarcely seen before. Hypericum came out gloriously, 
when an intrusive and overgrown lilac bush was cut away; and syringa was 
almost as good as jessamine, Rotha thought; little red poppies began to 
lift their slender heads, and pansies appeared, and June roses were 
getting ready to bloom. And as long as Rotha could busy herself in the 
garden work, she was happy; she forgot all that she had to trouble her; 
even when Prissy Purcell came out to see and criticise what was going on. 

"What are you doin' all that for?" the latter asked one day, after 
standing some time watching Rotha's work. "Are you thinkin' Mis' Busby'll 
come by and by?" 

"My aunt? No indeed!" said Rotha looking up with a flush. "I have no idea 
when I shall see my aunt again; and certainly I do not expect to see her 
here." 

"Somebody else, then?" 

"Why no! There is nobody to come." 

"Didn't you never have a beau?" said Prissy Purcell, stooping down and 
speaking lower. 

"A _what?_" said Rotha turning to her. 

"A beau. A young man. Most girls does, when they're as good-lookin' as 
you be. You know what I mean. Didn't you never keep company with no one?" 

"Keep company!" said Rotha, half vexed and half amused. "Mrs. Purcell, I 
was a little girl only just a few days ago." 

"But you're as handsome as a red rose," insisted Mrs. Purcell. "Didn't 
you never yet see nobody you liked more 'n common?" 

Rotha looked at her again, and then went on forking up her ground. "Yes," 
she said; "but people a great deal older than myself, Mrs. Purcell. Now 
see how that beautiful stem of white lilies is choked and covered up. A 
little while longer and we shall have a lovely head of white blossom 
bells there." 

"Older 'n your own self?" repeated Mrs. Purcell softly. 

"What?--O yes!" said Rotha laughing; "a great deal older than myself. Not 
what you are thinking about. I have been a school girl till I came here, 
Mrs. Purcell." 

"Then Mis' Busby didn't send you here to keep you away from no one?" 

Again Rotha looked in the woman's face, a half startled look this time. 
"No one, that I know," she answered. But a strange, doubtful feeling 
therewith came over her, and for a moment she stood still, with her eye 
going off to the gate and the road, musing. If it were so!--and a 
terrible impatience swelled in her breast. Ay, if it _were_ so, there was 
no help for her. She could not get away, and nobody could come to her, 
because nobody knew and nobody would know where she was. Even supposing 
that so unimportant a person as poor little Rotha Carpenter were not 
already and utterly forgotten. That was most probable, and anything 
different was not to be assumed. Continued care for her would have 
forwarded some testimonials of its existence, in letters or messages. Who 
should say that it had not? was the next instant thought. They would have 
come to her aunt, and her aunt would never have delivered them. 

This sort of speculation, natural enough, is besides very exasperating. 
It broke up Rotha's peace for that day and took all the pleasure out of 
her garden work. She went on pulling up weeds and forking up the soil, 
but she did the one with a will and the other with a vengeance; staid out 
longer than usual, and came in tired. 

"Joe," said Mrs. Purcell meanwhile in the solitude of her kitchen, "I'll 
bet you a cookie, Mis' Busby's up to some tricks!" 


CHAPTER XXVII. 


INQUIRIES. 


The weeks went on now without any change but the changes of the season. 
Rotha's flower borders bloomed up into beauty; somewhat old-fashioned 
beauty, but none the worse for that. Hypericum and moss pink faded away; 
the roses blossomed and fell; sweet English columbines lifted their sonsy 
heads, pale blue and pale rose, and dark purple; poppies sprang up, as 
often in the gravel road as in the beds; lilies came and went; the 
laburnum shook out its clusters of gold; old honeysuckles freshened out 
and filled all the air with the fragrance of their very sweet flowers. 
Rotha's tulip tree came into blossom, and was a beautiful object from her 
high window which looked right into the heart of it. Rotha grew very fond 
of that tulip tree. There were fruits too. The door in the fence, which 
she had noticed on her first expedition to the barnyard, was found to be 
the entrance to a large kitchen garden. Truly, Joe Purcell cultivated few 
vegetables; cabbages however were in number and variety, also potatoes, 
and that resource of the poor, onions. 

The fruits were little cared for; still, there were numbers of purple 
raspberry bushes trained along the fence, which yielded a good supply of 
berries; there were strawberry beds, grown up with weeds, where good 
picking was to found if any one wanted to take the trouble. Gooseberries 
were in great profusion, and currants in multitude. Old cherry trees, 
which shaded parts of the garden disadvantageously for the under growth, 
yielded a magnificent harvest of Maydukes, white hearts and ox hearts; 
and pear trees and mulberry trees were not wanting, promising later 
crops. Mr. and Mrs. Purcell had paid little attention to these treasures; 
Joe hadn't time, he said; and Prissy wouldn't be bothered with gathering 
berries after all the rest she had to do. Rotha made it her own 
particular task to supply the little family with fruit; and it was one of 
the pieces of work she most enjoyed. Very early, most often, while the 
sun's rays yet came well aslant, she set off for the old garden with her 
basket on her arm; and brought in such loads of nature's riches that Joe 
and his wife declared they had never lived so in their lives. It was 
lonely but sweet work to Rotha to gather the fruit. The early summer 
mornings are some of the most wonderful times of the year, for the glory 
and fulness and freshness of nature; the spirit of life and energy abroad 
is catching; and sometimes Rotha's heart sang with the birds. For she had 
a happy faculty of living in the present moment, and throwing herself 
wholly into the work she might be about, forgetting care and trouble for 
the time. Other mornings and evenings, she would almost forget the 
present in thoughts that roamed the past and the future. Pushing her hand 
among the dewy tufts of strawberry plants to seek the red fruit which had 
grown large under the shadow of them, her mind would go wandering and 
searching among old experiences to find out the hidden motives and 
reasons which had been at work, or the hidden issues which must still be 
waited for. At such times Rotha would come in thoughtful and tired. How 
long would her aunt leave her in this place? and how, if her aunt did not 
release her, was she ever to release herself? What was Mrs. Mowbray 
about, that she never wrote? several letters had been sent off to her, 
now a good while ago; letters telling all, and seeking counsel and 
comfort. No word came back. And oh, where was that once friend, who had 
told her to tell him everything that concerned her, and promised, tacitly 
or in so many words, that her applications would never be disregarded nor 
herself lost sight of? Years had passed now since he had given a sign of 
his existence, much less a token of his care. But after all, was that a 
certain thing? Was it not possible, that Mrs. Busby might have come in 
between, and prevented any letter or word of Mr. Digby's from reaching 
her? This sort of speculation always made Rotha feel wild and desperate; 
she banished it as much as she could; for however the case were, she 
possessed no remedy. 

June passed, and July, and August came. No word from Mrs. Busby to Rotha, 
and Joe Purcell said none came for him. The raspberries were gone, and 
currants and gooseberries in full harvest; when there happened an 
unlocked for and unwelcome variety in Rotha's way of life. Mrs. Purcell 
was taken ill. It was nothing but chills and fever, the doctor said; but 
chills and fever are pretty troublesome visiters if you do not know how 
to get rid of them; and that this doctor certainly did not. It may be 
said, that he had a difficult patient. Prissy Purcell was unaccustomed to 
follow any will but her own, and made the time of sickness no exception 
to her habit. With a chill on her she would get up to make bread; with 
the "sick day" demanding absolute rest and quiet care, she would go out 
to the garden to gather cabbages, and stand about preparing them and 
getting ready her dinner; till provoked nature took her revenge and sent 
the chill creeping over her. Then Prissy would (if it was not baking day) 
throw down whatever she had in hand and go to her bed; and it fell to 
Rotha's unwonted fingers to put on the pot and cook the dinner, set the 
table and wash the dishes, even the pots and pans; for somebody must do 
it, as she reflected, and poor Mrs. Purcell would come out of her bed in 
the evening a mere wreck of her usual self, very unfit to do anything. 

It was a strange experience, for Rotha to be cooking Joe Purcell's dinner 
and then eating it with him; making gruel and toast for Prissy and 
serving it to her; keeping the kitchen in order; sweeping, dusting, 
mopping, scrubbing, for even that could not be avoided sometimes. "It is 
my work," Rotha said to herself; "it is what is given me just now to do. 
I wonder, why? But all the same, it is given; and there must be some use 
in it." She was very busy oftentimes now, without the help of her flower 
borders, which had to be neglected; she rejoiced that the small fruit was 
gone, or nearly gone; from morning to night, when Prissy was abed, she 
went steadily from one thing to another with scarce any interval of 
active work. No study now but her Bible study; and to have time for that, 
Rotha must get up very early in the morning. Then, at her window, with 
the glory of the summer day just coming upon the outer world, she sat and 
read and thought and prayed; her eyes going alternately from her open 
page to the green and golden depths of the tulip tree opposite her 
window; looking the while with her mental eye at the fresh and glorious 
riches of some promise or prophecy. Perhaps Rotha never enjoyed her Bible 
more, nor ever would, only that with growing experience in the ways of 
the Lord comes ever new power to see the beauties of them, and with 
greater knowledge of him comes a larger love. 

August passed, and September came. And September also ran its course. The 
weather grew calm and clear, and began to be crisp with frost, and the 
outer world beautified with red maple leaves and crimson creepers and 
golden hickory trees. Prissy got better and took her former place in the 
house; and therewith Rotha had time to breathe and bethink herself. 

Her aunt must long since be returned from Chicago. Once a scrap of a note 
had been received from her, but it told nothing. It was not dated, and 
the postmark was not New York. It told absolutely nothing, even 
indirectly. Airs. Mowbray must long since have reopened her school, but 
it seemed to be tacitly agreed upon that Rotha was to go to school no 
more. What were all the people about? there seemed to be a spell upon 
Rotha and her affairs, as much as if she had been a princess in a fairy 
tale enchanted and turned to stone, or put to sleep; only she was not 
turned to stone at all, but all alive and quivering with pain and fear 
and anxiety. It was her life that was spell-bound. A thousand times she 
revolved the possibility of going into some work by which she could make 
money; and always had to give it up. She saw nobody, knew nobody, could 
apply to no one. She had used up all her writing paper in letters; and 
never an answer did she get. She began to think indeed her world was 
bewitched. Winter was looming up in the distance, not so very far off 
neither; was she to pass it _here_, alone with Prissy Purcell and her 
husband? Sometimes Rotha's courage gave way and she shed bitter tears; 
other times, when she was dressing her flowers in the long beds, or when 
she was looking into the tulip tree with some sweet word of the Bible in 
her mind, she could even smile at her prospect, and trust, and be quiet, 
and wait. However, as the autumn wore on, I am afraid the quiet was more 
and more broken up and the trust more sorrowful. 

It was on one of these evenings of early October, that Mr. Southwode 
presented himself, after so long an interval, at Mrs. Busby's door. 
Nothing was changed, to all appearance, in the house; it might have been 
but yesterday that he walked out of it for the last time; and nothing was 
changed in the appearance of Mr. Southwode himself. Just as he came three 
years ago, he came now. 

Mrs. Busby was alone in her drawing room, and advanced to meet him with 
outstretched hand and an expression of great welcome. She had not changed 
either, unless for the better. Her visiter recognized, as he had often 
done before, the expression of sense and character in her face, the quiet 
suavity of her manner, the many indications that here was what is called 
a fine woman. About the goodness of this fine woman he was not so sure; 
but he paid her a tribute of involuntary respect for her abilities, her 
cleverness, and her good manners. 

"Mr. Southwode! I am delighted to see you!" she exclaimed as she advanced 
to meet him, cordially, and yet with quiet dignity; not too cordial. "You 
have been a stranger to New York a great while." 

"Yes," he said. "Much longer than I anticipated." 

"I thought we should hardly ever see you here again." 

"Why not?" he asked with a smile. 

"Want of sufficient attraction. You know, we are apt to think here that 
Englishmen, if they are well placed in their own country, do not want 
anything of other countries. They are on the very height of civilization, 
and of everything else. They have enough. And certainly, America cannot 
offer them much." 

"America is a large field for work,"--Mr. Southwode observed. 

"Ah yes; but what country is not? I dare say you find enough to do on the 
other side. Do you not?" 

"I have no difficulty on that score," Mr. Southwode confessed; "on either 
side of the Atlantic." 

"We were very glad to hear of the successful termination of your 
lawsuit," Mrs. Busby went on. "I may congratulate you, may I not? I know 
you do not set an over value on the goods of fortune; but at the same 
time, it always seems to me that the possessor of great means has a great 
advantage. It is true, wealth is a flood in which many people's heads and 
hearts are submerged; but that would never be your case, I judge." 

"I would rather be drowned in some other medium," he allowed. 

"Well, we heard right? The decisions were in your favour, and 
triumphantly?" 

"They were in my favour, and unconditionally. I did not feel that there 
was much to triumph about, or can be, in a family lawsuit." 

"No; they are very sad things. I am very glad you are out of them, and so 
well out of them." 

"Thank you. How are my young friends in the family?" 

"The girls? Quite well, thank you, They are unluckily neither of them at 
home." 

"Not at home! I am sorry for that. How has _my_ child developed?" he  
asked with a slight smile. 

"She has grown into a young woman," Mrs. Busby answered, with one of 
those utterly imperceptible, yet thoroughly perceived, changes of manner 
which speak of a mental check received or a mental protest made. It was 
not a change of manner either; nothing so tangible; I cannot tell what it 
was in her expression that Mr. Southwode instantly saw and felt, and that 
put him upon his guard and upon his mettle at once. Mrs. Busby had drawn 
her shawl closer round her; that was all the outward gesture. She always 
wore a shawl. In winter it was thick and in summer it was gossamer; but 
one way or another a shawl seemed essential to Mrs. Busby's well-being. 
What Mr. Southwode gathered from her words was a covert rebuke and 
rebuff. He was informed that Rotha was grown up. 

"It is hard to realize that," he said lightly. "It seems but the other 
day that I left her; and since then, nothing else has changed!" 

"She has changed," said Mrs. Busby drily. 

"May I ask, how?--besides the physical difference, which to be sure was 
to be looked for?" 

"I do not know that there is any other particular change." 

"That would disappoint me," said Mr. Southwode. "I hoped to find a good 
deal of mental growth and improvement as the fruit of these three years. 
She has been at school all the time?" 

"Yes." 

"What is her school record?" 

"Very fairly good," said Mrs. Busby, turning her eyes now upon the young 
man, whom for the last few minutes they had avoided. "I did not know you 
were so much interested in Rotha, Mr. Southwode." 

"She was my charge, you are aware. Her mother left her to my care." 

"Until she was placed in mine," said Mrs. Busby with dignity. "I hope you 
believe that I am able to take good care of her?" 

"I should be very sorry to doubt that, and no one who knows Mrs. Busby 
could question it for a moment. But a charge is a charge, you know. To 
resign it or delegate it is not optional. I regard myself as Rotha's 
guardian always, and it was as her guardian that I entrusted her to you." 

Mrs. Busby did not answer this, and did not change a muscle in face or 
figure. 

"And so," Mr. Southwode went on, smiling,--he was amused, and he 
appreciated Mrs. Busby,--"it is as her guardian that I am asking an 
account of her now." 

"I have given it," said Mrs. Busby; and she moved her lips as if they 
were dry, which however her utterance was not. It was pleasant. 

"The young ladies can hardly be expected home early, I suppose?" said Mr. 
Southwode, looking at his watch.

"Hardly"--returned Mrs. Busby in the same way. 

"When can I see Rotha to-morrow?" 

"To-morrow," said Mrs. Busby, speaking leisurely, "you will hardly see 
her. She is not at home. I said that before, but you understood me to 
speak of the evening merely." 

"Where is she then? I can go to her." 

"No, you cannot," said Mrs. Busby half smiling, but it was not a smile 
Mr. Southwode liked. "She is at a friend's house in the country." 

"Not in New York! How long do you expect her to be absent?"

"That I cannot possibly tell. It depends on circumstances that I do not 
know." 

Mr. Southwode pondered. "Will you favour me with her address?" he asked, 
taking out his notebook. 

"It is not worth the while," said the lady quietly. "She is at a 
considerable distance from New York, too far for you to go to her; and 
she may be home any day. It depends, as I said, on what I do not now 
know." 

"And may be delayed yet for some time, then?" 

"Possibly." 

"Will you give me her address, Mrs. Busby." 

Mr. Southwode's pencil was ready, but instead of giving him something to 
do with it, Mrs. Busby rang the bell. Pencil and notebook waited. 

"Lesbia, go up to my dressing room and bring me a little green book with 
a clasp lying on my table there." 

A few minutes of silence and waiting; then Lesbia returned with the 
announcement, "There aint no sort o' little book there, Mis' Busby. 
There's a heap o' big ones, but they aint green." 

"Go again and look in the left hand drawer." 

Lesbia came again. "Aint nothin' there but papers." 

"That will do. Mr. Southwode, I have not my address book, and without 
that I cannot give you what you want. The name of the post-office town is 
very peculiar, and I always forget it. But I can write to Rotha to-morrow 
and summon her, if you think it necessary." 

"Would that be an inexpedient measure?" 

"You must judge. I have not thought best to do it; but if it is necessary 
I can do it now." 

"I will not give you so much trouble. If you will allow me, I will come 
again to morrow evening, and get the address." 

"To-morrow evening!" said the lady slowly. "I am very sorry, I have an 
engagement; I shall not be at home to-morrow evening." 

Why did it not occur to Mrs. Busby to say that she would leave the 
address for him, if he would call for it? Mr. Southwode quietly put up 
his pencil, and remarked that another time would do; and passed on easily 
to make inquiries about what New York had been doing since he went away? 
Mrs. Busby told him of certain buildings and plans for buildings here and 
there, and then suddenly asked, 

"When did you come, Mr. Southwode?" 

"I landed to-day." 

"To-day! Rotha would be very much flattered if she knew how prompt you 
have been to seek her out." 

It was said with a manner meant to be smoothly insinuating, but which 
somehow had missed the smoothness. Mrs. Busby for that moment had lost 
the hold she usually kept of herself. 

"Rotha would expect no less of me," Mr. Southwode answered calmly. 

"Then you and she must have been great friends before you went away? 
greater then I knew." 

"Did Rotha not credit me with so much?" he asked with a smile, which 
covered a sharp observation of the lady, examining him. 

"To tell you the truth," said Mrs. Busby, with a manner which was 
intended to be gracious, "I did not encourage her. Knowing what 
gentlemen, and young gentlemen, generally are, I thought it unlikely that 
you would much remember Rotha amid the pressure of your business in 
England, and very likely that things might turn out so that she would 
never see you again. I expected every day to hear that you were married; 
and of course that would have been an end of your interest in her." 

"Why do you think so, may I ask?" 

"_Why?_ Every woman knows," said Mrs. Busby in amused fashion. 

"I will not marry till I find a woman that does not know," said Mr. 
Southwode shaking his head. 

"Now that is unreasonable, Mr. Southwode." 

"I do not think so. Prove it." 

"I cannot prove it to a man. I have only a woman's knowledge, of what he 
does not understand. And besides, Mr. Southwode, it is quite right and 
proper that it should be so. A man shall leave his father and mother and 
cleave to his wife; and if his father and mother, surely everybody else." 

"As I am not married, the case does not come under consideration," said 
the gentleman carelessly. And after a pause he went on--"I have written 
several letters to Rotha during the time of my absence, and addressed 
them to your care. Did you receive them safe?" 

"I received several--I do not at this moment recollect just how many." 

"Do you know why they were never answered?" 

"I suppose I do," said Mrs. Busby composedly. "Rotha has been exceedingly 
engrossed with her studies." 

"She had vacations?" 

"O certainly. She had vacations." 

"Then can you tell me, Mrs. Busby, why Rotha never wrote to me?" 

"I am afraid I cannot tell you," the lady answered slowly, looking into 
the fire. 

"Do you think Rotha has forgotten me?" 

"It is not like her, I should say, to forget. I never hear her mention 
you. But then, I see her little except in the vacations, and not always 
then; she was often carried off from me." 

"By whom, may I ask?" 

"O by her school teacher." 

"And that was--? Pardon me, but it concerns me to know all about Rotha I 
can." 

"I am not sure if I am justified in telling you." 

"Why not?" 

"I think," said Mrs. Busby with an appearance of candour, "my 
guardianship is the proper one for her. How can you be her guardian, 
while she lives in my house, Mr. Southwode? Or how can you be her 
guardian out of it?" 

"I promised her mother," he said. "How a promise shall be fulfilled, may 
admit of question; but not whether it shall be fulfilled." 

"I know of but one way," Mrs. Busby went on, eyeing him now intently. "If 
you tell me you are intending to take _that_ way,--then I have no more to 
say, of course. But I know of but one way in which it can be done." 

Mr. Southwode laughed a little, a low, soft laugh, that in him always 
meant amusement. "I did not promise _that_ to her mother," he said, "and  
I cannot promise it to you. It might be convenient, but I do not 
contemplate it." 

"Then, Mr. Southwode, I feel it my duty to request that you fulfil your 
promise by acting through me." 

It was well enough said; it was not without some ground of reason. If he 
could have felt sure of Mrs. Busby, it might have received, partially at 
least, his concurrence. But he was as far as possible from feeling sure 
of Mrs. Busby; and rather gave her credit for playing a clever mask. Upon 
a little pause which followed the last words, there came a ring at the 
door and the entrance of the young lady of the house. Antoinette was 
grown up excessively pretty, and was dressed to set off her prettiness. 
Her mother might be pardoned for viewing her with secret pride and 
exultation, if not for the thrill of jealous fear which accompanied the 
proud joy. That anybody should stand in this beauty's way! 

"Mr. Southwode!" exclaimed the young lady. "It is Mr. Southwode come 
back. Why, Mr. Southwode, what has kept you so long? We heard you were 
coming five months ago. Why didn't you come then?" 

Mrs. Busby wished her daughter had not said that. 

"There were reasons--not interesting enough to occupy your ear with 
them." 

"'Occupy my ear'!" repeated the girl. "That is something new. Mamma, 
isn't that deliciously polite! Well, what made you stay away so long, Mr. 
Southwode? I like to have my ear occupied." 

"Should not people stay where they belong?" 

"And do you belong in England?" 

"I suppose, in a measure, I may say I do." 

"You talk foolishly, Antoinette," her mother put in. "Don't you know that 
Mr. Southwode's home is in England?" 

"People can change their homes, mamma. Then, you are not going to stay 
long, Mr. Southwode?" 

"I do not know how long. That is an undecided point." 

"And what have you come over for now?" 

"Antoinette!" said her mother again. "I do not know if you can excuse 
her, Mr. Southwode; she is entirely too out-spoken. That is a question 
you have nothing to do with, Nettie." 

"Why not, mamma? He has come for something; and if it is business, or 
travelling, or hunting, I would like to know." 

"Hunting, at this time of year!" said Mrs. Busby. 

"I might say it is business," said Mr. Southwode. "In one part of my 
business, perhaps you can help me." 

Antoinette pricked up her ears delightedly, and eagerly asked how? and 
what? 

"I made it part of my business to inquire about a little girl that I left 
three years ago under your mother's care." 

"Rotha!" exclaimed Antoinette; and a cloudy shadow of displeasure and 
suspicion forthwith fell over her face; not tinder such good control as 
her mother's. "A little girl! She was not so very little." 

"What sort of a girl has she turned out to be?" 

"Not little now, I can tell you. She is a great deal bigger than I am. So 
you came to see about Rotha?" 

"What can you tell me about her?" 

"What do you want to know?" 

"Nothing but the truth," said Mr. Southwode gravely. 

"But the truth about what? Rotha is just what she used to be." 

"Not changed except in inches?" 

"_Inches!_ Feet!--" said Antoinette. "We don't think about inches when we 
look at her. I don't know about anything else. If you want an account of 
her studies you must ask somebody at school." 

"Her teacher was yours?" 

"O yes. Lately, you know, we were both in the upper class; and of course 
we were together in Mrs. Mowbray's lessons; but then in other things we 
were apart." 

"How was that?" 

"Studied different things," said Antoinette shortly. "Had different 
masters. I can't tell you about Rotha's lessons, if you want to know 
that." She was pulling off her gloves as she spoke, and tugged at them 
with an appearance of vexation, which might be due to their excellent fit 
and consequent difficulty of removal. 

"Has she proved herself a pleasant inmate of the family?" 

"She has been rather an inmate of Mrs. Mowbray's family," said 
Antoinette. "Mrs. Mowbray has swallowed her up and carried her off from 
us. _We_ don't see much of her." 

"Antoinette," said her mother here, "Mr. Southwode wants to know Rotha's 
address; and I cannot give him the name of the place. Can you help me 
recollect it?" 

"Never knew it, mamma. I didn't know the place had a name. I can't 
recollect what I never heard." 

"There must be a post-office," Mr. Southwode remarked. 

"Must there? O I suppose there must, somewhere; but I don't know it." 

"Lesbia could not find my address book," Mrs. Busby added. 

"It is a matter of no consequence," Mr. Southwode rejoined. And he 
presently after took his leave. A moment's silence followed his 
departure. 

"There was no need to tell him you did not know the post-office town," 
said Mrs. Busby. "That was as much as to say, you never write." 

"What should I write for?" returned Antoinette defiantly. "Mamma! was 
that all he came for? to ask about Rotha?" 

"All that he came here for," said Mrs. Busby, with lines in her brow and 
a compressed mouth. "I wish you had not told him where Rotha went to 
school, either." 

"Why?" 

"Just as well not to say it." 

"But what harm? He could ask, if he wanted to know; and then you would 
have to tell. What does he want her address for?" 

"I don't know; but I can manage that, well enough. He knows nothing about 
Tanfield." 

"Mamma! I wish Rotha had never come to us!" cried Antoinette with tears 
in her eyes. 

"Don't be foolish, Antoinette. Mr. Southwode will be here again in a day 
or two; and then leave things to me." 

Mr. Southwode meantime walked slowly and thoughtfully to the corner of 
the street. By that time his manner changed; and he hailed a horse car 
and sprang into it like a man who was suffering from no indecision in 
either his views or purposes. Oddly enough, the very name which 
Antoinette had comforted herself with thinking he did not know, had 
suddenly occurred to him, together with a long-ago proposition of Mrs. 
Busby to her sister in the latter's time of need. He had pretty well made 
up his mind. 

Half an hour later Mr. Southwode was announced to Mrs. Mowbray. 

Mrs. Mowbray recollected him; she never forgot anybody, or failed to 
catalogue anybody rightly in the vast collections and stores of her 
memory. She received Mr. Southwode therefore with the gracious courtesy 
and dignity which was habitual with her, and with the full measure also 
of her usual reserve and quick observation. 

After a few commonplaces respecting his absence and his return, Mr. 
Southwode begged to ask if Mrs. Busby's niece, Miss Carpenter, were in 
her house or school? 

"Miss Carpenter is not with me," Mrs. Mowbray answered guardedly. 

"But she has been with you, if I understand aright?" 

"She has been with me until lately." 

"Are you informed that she will not return?" 

"By no means! I am expecting to see her or hear from her every day. O by 
no means. Miss Carpenter ought to remain with me several years yet. I 
shall be much disappointed if she do not. It is one great mistake of 
parents now-a-days, that they do not give me time enough. The first two 
or three years can but lay a foundation, on which to build afterwards." 

"May I ask, if the foundation has been successfully laid in Miss 
Carpenter's case? I am interested to know; because Mrs. Carpenter when 
she died left her child to my care; and I hold myself responsible for 
what concerns her." 

Mrs. Mowbray hesitated slightly. "Where was Mrs. Busby?" she asked then. 

"Here; but there was no intercourse between the sisters." 

"Was it not by her mother's wish that Miss Carpenter was placed with her 
aunt?" 

"No. I acted on no authority but my own." 

"What sort of a woman was Mrs. Carpenter?" 

"A very admirable woman. A sweet, sound, noble nature, with a great deal 
of quiet strength." 

"Is her daughter like her?" 

"Not in the least. I do not mean that she lacks some of her mother's good 
qualities; but they are developed differently, and with a wholly 
different background of temperament." 

"Was there a feud between the sisters, or anything like it?" 

Mr. Southwode hesitated. "I know the story," he said. "Mrs. Carpenter 
never complained; but I think another woman would, in her place." 

"Will you allow me to ask, how she came to entrust her child to you?" 

"I was the only friend at hand. And now," Mr. Southwode went on smiling, 
"may I be permitted to ask another question or two? When have you heard 
from Miss Carpenter?" 

"Not a word all summer. In the spring my school was broken up, on account 
of sickness in the house; I sent Rotha home to her aunt; and since then I 
have heard nothing from her. Not a word." 

"You do not know then of course where she is?" 

"With her aunt, I suppose, of course. Is she not with Mrs. Busby?" 

"She is making a visit somewhere, Mrs. Busby tells me." And he hesitated. 
"Has Rotha's home been happy with her aunt?" 

"That is a question I never ask. Rotha does not complain." 

"I need not ask whether her abode has been happy _here_," said the 
gentleman smiling again; "but, has she been a satisfactory member of your 
school?" 

"Perfectly so! Of my school and family." 

"You are satisfied with her studies, her progress in them, I mean?" 

"Perfectly. I never taught any one with more pleasure or better results." 

"I am very glad to hear that," said Mr. Southwode. And he took his leave. 

The very next train for Tanfield carried him northward. 


CHAPTER XXVIII. 


DISCOVERIES. 


The next day, which was the 24th of October, passed as other days of less 
significance had done. At dinner Mrs. Purcell complained of Rotha's 
failure of appetite. Rotha had been down-hearted all the morning. Seven 
days more, and November would begin! 

"You don't eat worth a red cent!" said Mrs. Purcell. "Aint that a good 
pot pie?" 

"Excellent! The queen of England couldn't have a better." 

"If she hasn't a better appetite she won't be queen long. Why don't ye 
eat?" 

"Sometimes I can't, Prissy." 

"What ails you?" 

"Nothing. I get thinking; that's all." 

"Joe," said his wife, "what's Mis' Busby doin'?" 

"Couldn't say." 

"Where is she? Why don't she come after Miss Rotha?" 

"I s'pose she's busy with her own affairs. If she' had consulted me, I 
could ha' told you more." 

"If she ever consults you, I hope you'll give her some good advice. She 
wants it bad!"  

"I guess I will," said Mr. Purcell, lounging out. "If I don't, you kin." 

Rotha wished to escape further remark or enquiry, and went out too. She 
would divert herself with gathering a great bunch of the fall flowers and 
dress some dishes. She often refreshed herself and refined the tea-table 
with a nosegay dressed in the middle of it, especially as it seemed to 
give not less pleasure to her entertainers than to her. She went now 
slowly down the gravelled drive, filling her hands as she went with 
asters, chrysanthemums, late honeysuckles, and bits of green from box and 
cedar and feathery larches. She went slowly, thinking hard all the way, 
and feeling very blue indeed. She saw no opening out of her troubles, and 
she strongly suspected that her aunt meant there should be none. What was 
to become of her? True, it flashed into her mind, "The Lord is my 
Shepherd";--but the sheep was taking it into her head to think for 
herself, and could not see that the path she was following would end in 
anything but disaster and famishing. If she could but get out of this 
path----

Ah, silly sheep! 

Rotha found herself at the gate leading into the high road; the gate by 
which she had been admitted so many months ago, and which she had never 
passed through since. She did not open it now; she stood still, resting 
one hand on the bars of it and gazing off along the road that led to 
Tanfield. It was quite empty; there was little passing along that road in 
the best of times, and very little at this season. It looked hopeless and 
desolate, the long straight lines of fences, and the gray, empty space 
between running off into nothing. Anything moving upon it would have been 
a relief to the eye and the mind; it looked like Rotha's own life at 
present, unchanging, Monotonous, solitary, barren, endless. Yet very 
precious flowers had been lately blossoming upon her path, and fragrant 
plants springing; but this, if she partly knew, at this moment she wholly 
ignored or forgot. She stood in a dream reverie, looking forward with her 
bodily eye, but with the eye of her mind back, and far back; to her 
mother, to her father, to Mr. Digby, and the times at Medwayville when 
she was a happy child. Nothing regular or consecutive; a maze of dream 
images in which she lost herself, and under the power of which her tears 
slowly gathered and began to run down her cheeks. Standing so, looking 
down the long empty road, and in the very depths of disheartened 
foreboding and dismay, a step startled her. Nobody was in sight on the 
road towards Tanfield; it was a quick business step coming in the other 
direction. Rotha turned her head hurriedly, and then was more in a maze 
than ever, though of a different kind. Close by the gate somebody was 
standing. A stranger? And why did he look so little strange? Rotha's eyes 
grew big unconsciously, while she likewise utterly forgot that they were 
framed in a setting of wet eyelashes; and then there came flashing 
changes in her face. I cannot describe how all the lines of it altered; 
and fire leapt to her eye, not without an alternating shadow however, a 
sort of shadow of doubt; her lips parted, but she could not bring out a 
word. The stranger stood still likewise, and looked, and I am not sure 
but his eyes opened a little; light came into them too, and a smile. 

"Have I found you?" he said. "Perhaps you will let me come in." 

And while Rotha remained in stupid bewilderment and uncertainty of 
everything except the identity of the person before her, he laid hold of 
the latch of the gate and made his own words good; Rotha giving way just 
enough to allow of it. I think the new-comer was a little uncertain as 
well; nevertheless he was not the sort of man to shew uncertainty. 

"Is this my little Rotha?" he said as he came up to her; and then, taking 
her hand, he began just where he left off, by stooping and kissing her. 
That roused Rotha, as much as ever the kiss of the prince in the fairy 
tale woke the sleeping beauty. The blood flushed all over her face, she 
pulled her hand away, and flung herself as it were upon the gate again; 
laying hold of the bars of it and bending down her face upon her arms. 
What did he do that for? and had he a right? After leaving her unthought 
of for so many years, was he entitled to speak to her and look at her 
and--kiss her, just as he could do once when she was a child? Rotha's 
mind was in terrible tumult, for notwithstanding this protest of reason, 
or of feeling, that touch of his lips upon her lips had waked up all the 
old past; it was just like the kiss with which he had bid her good bye 
three years ago; but whether to forgive him or not, and whether there was 
anything or not, Rotha did not yet know. Yet the old power of his 
presence was asserting itself already. All she could do was to keep 
silent, and the silence was of some little duration; for Mr. Digby, as 
his old fashion was, waited.

"I see you have not forgotten me," he said at length. "Or--should I 
say--" 

"I thought you _had_ forgotten _me_, Mr. Southwode," said Rotha. She said  
it with some dignity, removing her arms from the gate and standing before 
him. Yet she could not raise her eyes to him. Her manner was entirely 
unexceptionable and graceful. 

"What made you think that?" 

"I had some reason. It is three years, just three years, since you went 
away; and I have never heard a word from you in all the time." 

"You have not heard from me? How comes that?" 

"I do not know how it comes. I have never heard."

"And so, you thought I had never written?" 

"_Did_ you write?" said Rotha, flashing the question now at him with her 
eyes. It was exactly one of the old looks, that he remembered, bright, 
deep, eager. Yet how the girl had changed! 

"I wrote a number of times." 

"To me?" 

"Yea. I got no answer." 

"How could I answer letters that I never had?" cried Rotha. 

"Could you not, possibly, have written to me a letter that was not an 
answer?" 

"Yes, and I would; O how I wanted to write, many a time!--but I did not 
know where to send it. I had not your address." 

"I left it with your aunt for you; or rather, I believe I left it in a 
note for you, when I went away." 

"She never let me know as much," said Rotha a little bitterly. 

"You might have guessed she had my address. Did you ever ask her? You 
know, I promised to give it to you?"

"There was no use in my asking her any such thing,"' said Rotha. "She 
never let me hear a word from you or about you. I only learned by chance, 
as it were, that you had gone back to England." 

"And so you thought I had forgotten you?" 

"What could I think? I did not want to think that," said Rotha, feeling 
somewhat put in the wrong.

"I did not want you to think that. The least you can do to a friend, if 
you have got him, is to trust him." 

"But then, I thought--they said--I thought, maybe, after you had put me 
in aunt Serena's care, you had done--or thought you had done--the best 
you could for me." 

"The best I could just at the moment. I never promised to leave you with 
Mrs. Busby always, did I?" 

"But you were in England, and busy," said Rotha. "It seemed--No, it 
_didn't_ seem very natural that you should forget all about me, for I  
did not think it was at all like you; but that was what people said." 

"And Rotha believed?" 

"I almost believed it at last," said Rotha, very sorry to confess the 
fact. 

"What do you think now?" 

"I think I was mistaken. But, Mr. Digby, three years is a long time; and 
after all, why should you remember me? I was nothing to you; only a child 
that you had been very kind to." 

He was silent. What was she to him indeed? And what sort of relations was 
he to maintain between them now? She was not a child any longer. Here was 
a tall, graceful girl, albeit dressed in exceedingly plain garments; the 
garments could not hide and even rather emphasized the fact, for she was 
graceful in spite of them. And the promise of the child's face was 
abundantly fulfilled in the woman. Features very fine, eyes of changing 
and flashing power, all the indications that he well remembered of a 
nature passionate, tender, sensitive and strong; while there was also a 
certain veil of sweetness and patience over them all, which he did not 
remember. Mr. Southwode began dimly to perceive that he could not take up 
things just where he left them; what he left was not in existence. In 
place of the passionate, variable, wilful child, here was a developed, 
sensitive, and withal very beautiful woman. What was he to do with her? 
or what could he do for her? 

Unconsciously, the two had begun slowly pacing towards the house, and 
Rotha was the one to break the silence. Happily, her companion's scruples 
did not enter her head. 

"What brought you here, Mr. Digby? How ever came you to Tanfield?" 

"To look after that little girl you thought I had forgotten," he said 
with a slight smile. 

"But what made you come _here?_ Did you know I was here?" 

"Not at all. I could not find out anything of your whereabouts; except 
indeed that you were 'in the country.' So much I learned." 

"From whom?" 

"From Mrs. Busby." 

"From my aunt! You have seen her! When did you see her?" 

"Yesterday; immediately upon my arrival." 

"Then you have only just come? From England, I mean." 

"Only just come." 

Rotha paused. This statement was delightfully soothing.

"And you saw aunt Serena? And what did she say?" 

"She said nothing. I could get nothing out of her, of what I wanted to 
hear. She said you were quite well, making a visit at a friend's house in 
the country." 

"That--is--not--true!" said Rotha slowly and indignantly. "Did she tell 
you that?" 

"Are you not making a visit here?" 

"What is a 'visit'? No, I am not. And, it is not a friend's house, 
either." 

"How came you here? and when? and what for, then?" said he now in his 
turn. 

"I came--some time in last May; near the end, I believe." 

"Why?" 

Rotha lifted her eyes to his. "I do not know," she said. 

"What was the alleged reason for your coming?" 

"Aunt Serena was going, she said, to Chicago, on a visit, and my presence 
would not be convenient. I could not stay in the house in New York alone. 
So I was sent here. That is all I know." 

"_Sent?_" 

Rotha nodded. "Yes." 

"Not _brought?_" 

"O no!" 

"Did you come _alone?_" 

A sudden spasm seemed to catch the girl's heart; she stopped and covered 
her face with her hands; and for a minute or two there came a rush of hot 
tears, irrepressible and unmanageable. Why they came Rotha did not know, 
and was surprised at them; but there was a quiver and a glitter in her 
face when she took her hands down, which shewed to her companion that the 
clouds and the sunshine were at strife somewhere. They walked on a few 
paces more, and then, coming full in sight of the house, Rotha's steps 
stayed. 

"Where are we going?" she said. "I have no place to take you to, in 
there." 

Mr. Digby's eyes made a survey of the building before him. 

"O it is large enough--there is room, and rooms, enough," said Rotha; 
"but it is all unused and unopened. I have one corner, at the top of the 
house; and down in another corner Mr. and Mrs. Purcell have their kitchen 
and a little sleeping place off it; all the rest is desert." 

"Who are Mr. and Mrs. Purcell?" 

"Aunt Serena's tenants--farmers--I do not know what to call them. They 
might be servants, but they are not that exactly." 

"Do you mean that there is no other person in the house?" 

"No other person." 

Mr. Southwode began to go forward again, slowly, looking at everything as 
he went. 

"What do you hear from your aunt?" 

"Nothing. O yes, I have had one scrap of a note from her; some time ago; 
but it told me nothing:" 

"Have you written to her?" 

"Over and over; till I was tired." 

"Have you written to no one else?" 

"Why of course! I wrote to Mrs. Mowbray, again and again; and to one or 
two of the girls; but I never got an answer. The whole world has seemed 
dead, and been dead, for me." 

They slowly paced by the house, and began to go down the sweep towards 
the other gate. 

"Alone with these two servants for five months!" Mr. Southwode said. 
"Rotha, what sort of a life have you been living all this while?" 

"I do not know," said the girl catching her breath. "Rather queer. I 
suppose it has been good for me." 

"What makes you suppose that?" 

"I think I can feel that it has."--But Rotha added no more. 

"Is confidence between us not fully reestablished?" he asked with a 
smile. 

"O yes--if you care to know," Rotha answered hesitatingly, at the same 
time finding herself ready to slide back into the old habit of being very 
open with him. 

"I care to know--if you like to tell me." 

"It has been a queer life," she repeated. "I have been living between two 
things, my Bible, and the garden. There was an interval of some weeks not 
long ago, when Mrs. Purcell was sick; and then I lived largely in the 
kitchen." 

"Go on, and tell me--But how can you go on!" Mr. Southwode found himself 
approaching the gate and road again, and suddenly broke off. "I cannot 
keep you standing here by the hour, and a little time will not do for us. 
Pray, if you have no place to take me to, where do you yourself live?" 

The laughing glance that came to him now was precisely another of the 
child's looks that he remembered; a look that recognized his sympathy, 
and answered it out of a fund of heart treasure. 

"I live between my corner at the top of the house, and Mrs. Purcell's 
corner at the bottom. I have no place but my room and her kitchen." 

"Where can I see you? We have a great deal to talk about. Rotha, suppose 
you go for a drive with me?" 

Rotha's eyes sparkled. "It would not be the first time," she said. 

"No. Then the next question is, when can we go?" He looked at his watch. 

"It is too late for this afternoon," Rotha opined. 

"I am afraid it is. I do not think we can manage it. Then--Rotha, will 
you be ready to-morrow morning? How early can you be ready?" 

"We have breakfast about half past six." 

"_We?_" 

"Yes," said Rotha half laughing. "We. That is, Mr. Purcell, and his wife, 
and myself." 

"Do you take your meals with these people?" 

Rotha nodded. "And in their kitchen. It is the only place." 

"But they are not--What are they?" 

"Not what you would call refined persons," said Rotha, while again the 
laugh of amusement and pleasure in her eyes shone through an iris of 
sudden tears. "No--they have been kind to me, though, in their way." 

"As kind as their allegiance to Mrs. Busby permitted," said Mr. Southwode 
drily, recognizing at the same time the full beauty of this look I have 
tried to describe. "Well! That is over. How early to-morrow will you be 
ready to come away?" 

"To come away?" repeated Rotha. "For a drive, you mean?" 

"For a drive from this place. It is not my purpose ever to bring you back 
again." 

The colour darted vividly into Rotha's cheeks, and a corresponding flash 
came to her eye. Yet she stood still and silent, while the colour went 
and came. Never here again? Then whither? and under what guardianship? 
His own? There came a great heart leap of joy at this suggestion, but 
with it came also a vague pull-back of doubt; the origin of which 
probably lay in words she had heard long ago and never forgotten, the 
tendency of which was to throw scruples in the way of such an arrangement 
or to cast some slur upon it. Was there an echo of them in Rotha's young 
consciousness? She did feel that she was a child no longer; that there 
was a difference since the old time. Yet she was still as simple, nearly, 
as a child; and of that sort of truth in her own heart which readily 
believes truth in others. Mr. Digby's truth she knew. Altogether there 
was a confusion of thoughts within her, which he saw, though he did not 
read. 

"Do you owe anything to these people here?" he asked, a sudden question 
rising in his mind. 

"Owe? To Mr. Purcell and his wife? No. I owe them for a good deal of 
kindness. O! you mean--Yes, in one sense I owe them. I have never paid 
them anything." 

"For your board, and their care of you?" 

"No.--I do not owe them for much _care_," said Rotha smiling. "I have  
taken care of myself since I have been here." 

"Do I understand you? Has nobody paid them anything for your stay here?" 

"Nobody." 

"Upon what footing were you here, then?" 

"It has no name," said Rotha contentedly. She could be gay now over this 
anomalous past. "I do not know what to call it." 

"Has your aunt allowed you to depend upon these people?" 

"Yes. I have not really depended upon them, Mr. Southwode. I promised 
myself, and I promised Mrs. Purcell, that some day, if I ever could do 
it, I would live to pay her. If I could have got any work to do, I would 
have taken it, and paid her before now; but I had no chance. I could see 
nobody." 

"How literally is that to be taken?" 

"With absolute literalness. I have seen nobody but Mr. and Mrs. Purcell 
since I came here. Began almost to think I never should." 

"But Sundays?" 

"What of Sundays?" 

"Did you not go to church somewhere?" 

"Yes," said Rotha smiling; "in my pleasant corner room at the top of the 
house. Nowhere else." 

"Why not?" 

"It is not the habit of the people. And their habit, I found, I could not 
change." 

"What did you do with your Sundays?" 

"Spent them alone with my Bible. And often they were very, very pleasant; 
though I found it difficult to keep up such study all alone, through the 
long days." 

"I must not let you stand here any longer! Will you be ready for me at 
eleven o'clock to-morrow?" 

"Yes. There is no difficulty in that." 

"Then I will be here at eleven. Good bye!" 

He gave her his hand, looked at her a little steadily, but Rotha could 
not tell what he was thinking of; then as he let go her hand he lifted 
his hat and turned away. 

A flush of colour came over Rotha's face, and she was glad to turn too; 
to hide it. Walking up to the house, she tried to think what Mr. 
Southwode meant by that last gesture. She was half pleased, and half not 
pleased. It was the manner of a gentleman to a stranger; she was no 
stranger. But it was also the manner of a gentleman towards a lady. Did 
he recognize her then for one? for a grown-up woman? a child no longer? 
and was he going to take on distance in his behaviour to her? She did not 
like the idea. That thought however, and all thoughts, soon merged in a 
feeling of exceeding joy. In the surprise and strangeness of the first 
meeting, Rotha had hardly had time to know how she felt; no Aurora 
Borealis is more splendid than the rosy rays of light which began now to 
stream up into her sky. She knew and began to realize that she was 
overwhelmingly happy. There were questions unsolved and not easy to 
solve; there were uncertainties and perplexities in her future; she half 
discerned that; but she could not give attention to it, in the present 
she was so exceedingly glad. And she need not; for did not Mr. Digby 
always know what to do with perplexities? She belonged to him again, and 
he, not her aunt any more, had the disposal of her; it was the old time 
come back. She was no longer alone and forlorn; no longer divided from 
her best friend; what of very hard or very evil could come to her now? 

She felt she was too much excited to bear the sight of Mrs. Purcell just 
yet; she turned into the old garden to gather some pears. For the last 
time! It rang in Rotha's heart like a peal of bells. The glint of the 
October sun, warm and mellow on yellow leaves and on leaves yet green, on 
tree branches and even garden palings, was like a reflection from the 
inner sunshine which even so shone upon everything. The world had not 
looked so when she came out of the house that afternoon; everything was 
changed. No more under the dominion of her aunt Busby! how Rotha's heart 
leapt at the thought. No longer to be shut up here with the two Purcell 
people, and having an indefinite prospect of dull isolation and hopeless 
imprisonment before her. What was before _her_, Rotha did not indeed know; 
only Mr. Digby was in it, and that was enough, and security for all the 
rest. 

She was thinking this, when it suddenly occurred to her, that she had 
known all along that the love and power of a heavenly friend had been in 
her future; and yet the knowledge had never given her the rest and the 
content that the certainty of the human friend gave. Rotha stopped 
picking pears and stood still, sorry and ashamed. It was true; she could 
not deny it; and it grieved her. So this was all her faith amounted to, 
her faith in the Friend who is better and surer immeasurably than all 
other friends! She could trust Mr. Digby with a trust that made her 
absolutely careless and happy; she could not trust Christ so. It grieved 
Rotha keenly; it made her ashamed with a genuine and wholesome shame; but 
the fact stood. 


CHAPTER XXIX. 


PERPLEXITIES. 


She went in with a lapful of pears. By the way she had made up her mind 
not to speak of what had happened. She had been considering. Joe and 
Prissy were certainly kind to her, and kindly disposed; yet, what had 
become of her letters? They had all been intrusted to Mr. Purcell, to 
mail or have mailed in Tanfield. Did that fact stand in connection with 
the other fact, that no answers ever came? It was plain now that Mrs. 
Busby had been playing a deep game; plain that it had been her purpose to 
keep Rotha hidden away at least from one person. Rotha was the least in. 
the world of a suspicious nature; nevertheless she felt uncertain what 
course Joe and Prissy might see fit to take if they knew of what was 
planning; she resolved they should not know. If only they had not seen 
Mr. Southwode already! he _would_ stand so in sight of the house. But 
Prissy looked very unsuspicious. 

"Well, I do think!" she began. "I should say, you wanted some pears. What 
ever did you s'pose was goin' to be done with 'em?" 

"Eat them!" said Rotha cheerily, emptying her apronful upon the table. 

"The boards is just scoured! And them aint the kind." 

"The kind for what? They are ripe, are they not?" 

"Ripe enough for doin' up. I can make pear honey of 'em. They'd ha' been 
good done with molasses, if I'd ha' had 'em in time. You can't do nothin' 
with 'em as they be. They'd draw your mouth all up." 

Rotha looked at her pears and laughed. "Shews how much I know!" she said. 

"Folks as lives in the City o' Pride don't know much o' things!" remarked 
Prissy. 

"The City of Pride. Why do you call New York that?" 

"Aint it?" 

"I do not know that there is more pride there than in other places. Pride 
is in people--not in the places where people live. I think _you_ are  
pretty proud, Prissy." 

"That's all us has got to keep us up," rejoined Mrs. Purcell. "Do you 
think pride's wrong?" 

"Yes, and so do you, if you believe your little book up there on the 
mantelpiece." 

"What's in it about pride?" inquired Prissy quickly. 

"Do you not recollect? The Lord said, 'How can ye believe, which receive 
honour one of another.' Here it is." She took the little volume from the 
mantel shelf and found the place. Prissy looked at it. 

"What's the harm?" she said. 

"Never mind, if you don't understand. The Lord said it; and he knows." 

"What's come to you?" Prissy asked suddenly. "You're twice as much of a 
girl as you was this mornin'." 

"Am I?" 

"Somethin's done you a heap o' good. Your face is fired up; and your eyes 
is two colours, and there's somethin' shinin' out o' 'em." 

"I do feel better," said Rotha soberly. And after that she was careful to 
be sober as long as supper lasted. 

When she went up to her room she sat down to think at leisure. The light 
was fading out of the depths of the tulip tree; the stars were twinkling 
in the dark blue; the still air was a little frosty. Yes, the year had 
sped on a good part of its course, since that May evening when Rotha had 
first made friends with the big tulip tree. Near five months ago it was, 
and now the days were growing short again. O was it possible that her 
release had come? And not the release she had hoped for, but this? so 
much better! Only five months; and her little imprisonment was ended, and 
its lessons all--_were_ they all--learned? With her heart filling and 
swelling, Rotha sat by her window and thought everything over, one thing 
after another. She had trusted; she might have trusted better! 

Her aunt's sending her to this place had separated her from nothing, not 
even from Mr. Digby. Here he was, and had her again under his protection; 
and it was _he_ henceforth who would say what she should do and where she 
should go. Not Mrs. Busby henceforth. Rotha's heart thrilled and throbbed 
with inexpressible joy. Not without queer other thrills also, of what 
might be described as an instinct of scruple; a certain inner 
consciousness that in this condition of things there was somewhat 
anomalous and difficult to adjust. Yet I am by no means sure that this 
consciousness did in any wise abate the joy. Rotha went over now in 
imagination all her interview with Mr. Southwode; recalled all he said, 
and remembered how he looked at each turn of the conversation. And the 
more she mused, the more her heart bounded. Till at last she recollected 
that there was something else to be' done before eleven o'clock to-
morrow; and she went from reverie to very busy activity. 

It was all done, all she had to do, before breakfast time next day. After 
breakfast Rotha was in great doubt how to manage. If she dressed for her 
departure, Mr. and Mrs. Purcell would find out that something was going 
to happen, and perhaps try to hinder it. If she waited in her room until 
called for, she did not know but they would deny her being in the house 
at all and bar access to her. Doubtless Mr. Digby would not be 
permanently barred out, or thwarted in what he meant to do; but Rotha 
could not endure the thought of delay or disappointment. She would have 
gone out to meet him; but she was no longer a child, and a feeling of 
maidenly reserve forbade her. She made everything ready; knew she could 
change her dress in five minutes; and went down to the kitchen about ten 
o'clock; she could not stay any longer away from the scene of action. She 
took a knife and helped Mrs. Purcell pare the pears for stewing. 

"You have been very kind to me, Prissy," she said, after some time of 
busy silence. 

"'Cause I warnt no more put out about the pears, you mean? Well, I'll 
tell you. I was fit to bite a tenpenny nail off, when I see you come in 
with that lapful last night. But I knowed you didn't know no better. If 
Joe warn't so set I'd make him pick the pears; but he always says and 
sticks to it, the fruits o' the earth what grows on trees aint no good. 
He'll eat 'em fast enough, I tells him, and so he will; as long as I'll 
stand to cook 'em; but he won't lift never a hand to get 'em off the 
trees. No thin' but corn and oats, and them things, is work for a man, he 
thinks." 

"Unreasonable--" said Rotha. 

"When isn't men unreasonable?--What do you want, sir? This aint the front 
o' the house." 

And Rotha came round with a start, for there, at the door of the kitchen, 
at the top of the steps leading up from the scullery, stood Mr. 
Southwode; and Prissy's question had been put with a strong displeased 
emphasis. 

"I know it," said the intruder in answer, "and I beg your pardon; but--
Does anybody live at the front of the house? 

"Them as tries, finds out," said Mrs. Purcell, with a fierce knitting of 
her brows. 

"That is also true, as I have learned by experience. I found that nobody 
lived there." 

"Who did you think lived there? Who do you want?" asked Prissy, 
ungrammatically, but pointedly. 

"Am I speaking to Mrs. Purcell?" And then the new-comer smiled at Rotha 
and shook hands with her. 

"That is my name," said Prissy. "It aint her'n." 

"I am aware of that too," said the stranger composedly, "and my present 
business is with Mrs. Purcell. I wish to know, in the first place, how 
many weeks Miss Carpenter has been in your house?" 

"What do you want to know for?" said Prissy. "Is it any business o' 
yourn?" 

"Yes. I may say it is nobody else's business. You have a right to ask; 
and that is my answer." 

"What do you want to know for?" 

"I wish to discharge your account. Miss Carpenter promised that you 
should be honestly paid, when the time came; and the time is come now." 

"Be you come from Mis' Busby?" 

"I saw Mrs. Busby a few days ago." 

"And she sent you?" 

"I am not honoured with any commission from Mrs. Busby. As I told you, 
this business is mine, not hers." 

"Mis' Busby put her here in us's care; and us is bound to take care of 
her, Joe and me. Us can't take no orders but from Mis' Busby." 

"No; but you can take money? Mrs. Busby, I think, will not pay you. I 
will. But I must do it now. I am going away, and may probably never come 
this way again." 

"I don't see what you have to do, a payin' Miss Carpenter's o win's," 
said Prissy, eyeing him suspiciously from head to foot. 

"The best reason in the world.--Rotha, will you go and get ready?"--and 
then as the door closed upon Rotha Mr. Southwode went on.--"Miss 
Carpenter has been under my care ever since she lost her mother. I placed 
her with her aunt when I was obliged to go abroad, to England; and now I 
am come to take her away." 

"To take Rotha away?" cried Prissy. 

"To take Miss Carpenter away." 

"Maybe Mis' Busby don't want her to go." 

"Maybe not. But that is of no consequence. Let me have your account, 
please." 

"Be you goin' to many her?" Prissy asked suddenly. 

"That is not a question you have any need to ask." 

"I asks it though,"--returned Prissy sturdily. "Be you?" 

"No." 

"Then I wish you'd go and talk to Mr. Purcell, 'cos I don' know nothin' 
about it. If you was goin' to marry her, stands to reason everything else 
gives way; folks must get married, if they has a mind to; but if you 
aint, I don't see into it, and don't see no sense in it. Mr. Purcell's at 
the barn. I wish you'd just go and talk to him." 

"I have had trouble enough to find you," said the gentleman; "I shall not 
try to find Mr. Purcell. If you wish me to see him, I will wait here till 
you bring him." 

And so saying, Mr. Southwode deposited his hat on the table and himself 
sat down. Prissy gave him glance after glance, unsatisfied and uneasy. 
She did long to refer things to Joe; and she saw she could not manage her 
unwelcome visiter; so finally she took off her apron and threw it over 
her head and set off on a run for the barn. Meanwhile Rotha came down, 
all ready for the drive. 

"Where are they all?" she exclaimed. 

"One gone after the other. I think, Rotha, it will be the pleasantest way 
for you, to go out at once to the carriage and wait there for me; if you 
will let me be so discourteous. You may as well escape the discussion I 
must hold with these people. Where is your luggage?" 

"I have only one little trunk, up stairs at the top of the house. The 
rest of my things are at aunt Busby's." 

"We will not ask her for them. I will take care of your box and bring it 
along. And give me this." 

He took Rotha's handbag from her hand as he spoke and dismissed her with 
a smile; and Rotha, feeling as if all sorts of burdens were lifted from 
her at once, went out and went round to where a phaeton was waiting at 
the front of the house. And there she stood, with her heart beating; 
remembering her sad coming five months before: (but the five months 
seemed five years;) thinking of all sorts of incongruous things; 
uncertain, curious as what was to be done with her; congratulating 
herself that she had _one_ nice dress, her travelling dress, which she 
had carefully saved until now; and wondering what she should do for 
others, her calicos being a good deal worn and only working dresses at 
the best. So she stood waiting; doubtful, yet on the whole most glad; 
questioning, yet unable to be anxious; while five minutes after five 
minutes passed away. At last came the procession; Prissy in front, her 
husband following with Rotha's trunk on his shoulders, Mr. Southwode 
bringing up the rear. 

"I never thought you'd go like _that_," said Prissy reproachfully. "If  
us is poor folks, us has hands clean enough to shake." 

"I never meant to go without bidding you good bye, Prissy,"  said Rotha, 
grasping her hand heartily, 

"Looks awful like it--" rejoined Mrs. Purcell. 

"I shall always remember your kindness to me," Rotha went on. 

"Pay and forget!" said Prissy. "It's all paid for now; and it's us as 
must give thanks." Then she added in a lower tone, "Where be you goin' 
now?" 

"To Tanfield first, I suppose." 

Prissy looked significantly at Mr. Southwode, who was ordering the 
disposition of the trunk, and had evidently more in her thoughts than she 
chose to utter. Then Joe came with his hand outstretched for a parting 
grasp, his face smiling with satisfaction. 

"Well," he said, "we've all done the best we could; and nobody has 
anything to be sorry for. But we shall miss you, bad!" 

"All he cares for 's the pears!" said his wife. "Come along, Joe; if you 
are good, I'll get you some." 

The wagon drove off before Rotha could hear Joe's answer. She was gone! 
The weary months of imprisonment were done and passed. What was to follow 
now? 

Rotha could not think, could not care. The phaeton was rolling smoothly 
along; she was traversing easily the long stretch of highway she had 
looked at so often; her old best friend was in charge of her; Rotha gave 
up care. Yet questions would come up in her mind, though she dismissed 
them as fast; and her heart kept singing for joy. She did not even ask 
whither she was driven. 

She was going to the hotel at Tanfield, the same where she had once put 
up alone. Here her box was ordered to a room which seemed to have been 
made ready for her; and Mr. Southwode remarked that lunch would be ready 
presently. Rotha took off her hat and joined him in the private room 
where it was prepared. A wood fire was burning, and a table was set, and 
the October sun shone in, and Mr. Digby was there reading a paper. Rotha 
put her hand upon her eyes; it seemed too much brightness all at once. 
Mr. Southwode on his part laid down his paper and looked at her; he was 
noticing with fresh surprise the changes that three years had made. 
Truly, _this_ was not what he left in Mrs. Busby's care. And there is no 
doubt Mr. Southwode as well as Rotha had something to think of; and 
questions he had been debating with himself since yesterday came up with 
new emphasis and urgency. Nothing of all this shewed. He laid down his 
paper, stirred up the fire, gave Rotha an easier chair than the one she 
had first chosen, and took a seat opposite her. 

"We have got to begin all over again," he smilingly remarked. 

"Oh no!" said Rotha. "I do not think so." 

"Why? We cannot be said to know one another now, can we?" 

"I know you--" said Rotha a little lower. 

"Do you? But I do not know you." 

"I am just what I used to be," the girl said briskly, raising her head. 

"By your own shewing, _not_. The bird I left would have beat its wings 
lame against the bars of the cage I found it in." 

"I did beat my wings pretty lame at first," said Rotha; "but not in this 
cage." 

"In what one then?" he asked quickly. 

"Oh--after you went away. I mean that time." 

"What made the cage at that time?" 

"Aunt Serena--and aunt Serena's house." 

"I was a little afraid of it. But I could not help myself. What did she 
do?" 

Rotha hesitated a little. 

"I do not think it is any use to go back to it now," she said. "It was 
partly my own fault. I had meant fully to do just as you said, and be 
polite and quiet and pleasant;--and I could not!" 

"And so--?" 

"And so, we had bad times. After aunt Serena kept me from seeing you and 
bidding you good bye, or even knowing that you were gone, I could not 
forgive her. And she knew she had wronged me. And that people do not 
forget." 

"You thought I had too, eh?" 

"No," said Rotha; "not then. I knew it was her doing." 

"It was wholly her doing. Whenever I came and asked for you, I was always 
told that you were out, or sick in bed, or in some way quite unable to 
see me. And my going was extremely sudden, so that I had no time to take 
measures; other than to write to you and enclose my address." 

"I never got it. And all those times I was always at home, and perfectly 
well, and sometimes--" 

"Well--what?" 

"Sometimes I was standing in the hall up stairs, leaning over the 
balusters and listening to your steps in the hall." 

Colour rose in Rotha's cheek, and her voice took a tone which told tales; 
and Mr. Southwode thought he did begin to recognize his little friend of 
old time. 

"And then--" Rotha went on, "you know what I used to be, and can guess 
that I was not very patient." 

"I can guess that. And what are you now?" 

She flashed one of her quick looks at him, smiled and blushed. "I have 
grown a little older--" she said. 

Mr. Southwode quite perceived that. He was inclined to believe that what 
he had before him was the ripened fruit which in its green state he had 
tried so hard to bring into the sun; grown sweet and rich beyond his 
hopes. He turned the conversation however, took up his paper again and 
read to Rotha a paragraph concerning some late events in Europe; from 
which they went off into a talk leading far from personal affairs, to the 
affairs of nations past and present, and branching off into questions of 
history and literature. And Mr. Southwode found again the Rotha of old, 
only with the change I have above indicated. The talk was lively for an 
hour, until lunch was served. It was served for them alone, in the room 
where they were. As they took their places at table and the meal began, 
for a few minutes there was silence. 

"This is like--and not like--the old time," Mr. Southwode remarked 
smiling. 

"I think it is more 'not like,'" said Rotha. 

"Why, pray?" 

Rotha hesitated. "I said just now I had not changed; but in some things I 
have." 

"Grown a little taller." 

"A good deal, Mr. Southwode! And that is the least of the changes, I 
suppose." 

"What are the others? Come, it is the very thing it imports me to know. 
And the quicker the better. Tell me all you can." 

"About myself?" 

"I mean, about yourself!" 

"That's difficult." 

"I admit it is difficult; but easier for a frank nature, such as yours 
used to be, than for another." 

Meanwhile he helped her to things on the table, taking care of her in the 
manner he used to do in old time. It put a kind of spell upon Rotha. The 
old instinct of doing what he wished her to do seemed to be springing up 
in its full imperativeness. 

"What do you want to know?" she asked doubtfully. 

"Everything!" 

"Everything is not much, in this case. I have lived most of the time, 
till last May, with Mrs. Mowbray; at school." 

"What did you do at school?" 

"Nothing. I _began_ to do, that is all. I have just begun to learn. Just 
began to feel that I was getting hold of things, and that they were 
growing most delightful. Then all was broken on ." 

"That was last May?" 

"Yes." 

"Why do you suppose your aunt chose just that time to send you here?" 

"I have no idea! She was going to Chicago, she said--" 

"You know she did not go?" 

"Did not go? She was in New York all this summer?" 

"So I understood from herself In New York or near it." 

"Then what _did_ she mean by sending me here, Mr. Digby? She did not 
know you were coming." 

"You think that knowledge would have affected her measures?" 

"I know it would!" 

"It is an unfruitful subject to inquire into. I am afraid your vacations 
can hardly have been pleasant times, spent in your aunt's family?" 

"I was not always with her. Quite as often I staid with Mrs. Mowbray--my 
dear Mrs. Mowbray! and with her I went to Catskill, and to Niagara, and 
to Nahant, and to the Adirondacks. I had great times. It was the next 
best thing to--to the old days, when I was with you." 

"I should think it would have been much better," Mr. Southwode said, 
forbidding the smile that was inclined to come. For Rotha's manner did 
not make her words less flattering. 

"Do you? Do you not know me better than that, Mr. Digby?" said Rotha, 
feeling a little injured. 

"I suppose I do! You were always an unreasonable child. But I can 
understand how you should regret Mrs. Mowbray." 

"Now?" said Rotha. "I do not regret anything now. I am too happy to tell 
how happy I am." 

"I remember, you are gifted with a great capacity for happiness," Mr. 
Southwode said, letting the smile come now. 

"It is a good thing," said Rotha. "Sometimes, even this summer, I could 
forget my troubles in my flower beds. Did you notice in what nice order 
they were, and how many flowers still?" 

"I am afraid I did not specially notice." 

"Awhile ago they were full of bloom, and lovely. And when I took them in 
hand they were a wilderness. Nobody had touched them for ever so long. I 
had a job of it. But it paid." 

"What else have you done this summer?" 

"Nothing else, except study my Bible. It was all the study I had." 

"How did you study it? as a disciple? or as an inquirer?" 

"O, as a disciple. Can one really _study_ it in any other way?" 

"I am afraid so. There is deep study, and there is superficial study, you 
know. Then you are a disciple, Rotha?" 

"Yes, Mr. Southwode; a sort of one. But I am one." 

"When did that come about?" 

"Not so very long after you went away. I came to the time that you told 
me of, that it would come." 

"What time? I do not recollect." 

"A time when everything failed me."--Rotha felt somehow disappointed, 
that she should remember so much better than he did. 

"And then you found Christ?" 

"Yes,--after a while." 

"What have you been doing for him since then?" 

"Doing for him?" Rotha repeated. 

"Yes." 

"I do not know. Not much. I am afraid, not anything." 

"Was that because you thought there was not much to do?" 

"N--o," said Rotha thoughtfully; "I did not think _that_. Only nothing 
particular for me to do." 

"That was a mistake." 

"I did not see anything for me to do." 

"Perhaps. But the Lord has no servants to be idle. If they do not see 
their work, it is either that their eyes are not good, or that they are 
looking in the wrong direction." 

A silence followed this statement, during which Rotha was thinking. 

"Mr. Digby, what do you mean by their eyes being not good?" 

"Not seeing clearly." 

"And what makes people's eyes dim to see their work?" 

"A want of sensitiveness in their optic nerve," he said smiling. "It is 
written, you know the words--'He died for all, that they which live 
should not live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them'--How has 
it been in your case?" 

"I never thought of it," Rotha answered slowly. "I believe my head has 
been just full of myself,--learning and enjoying." 

"I do not want to check either, and the service of Christ does not check 
either. I am glad, after all, the _enjoying_ has formed such a part of
your experience." 

"With Mrs. Mowbray, how should it not? You know her a little, Mr. 
Southwode?" 

"Only a little." 

"But you cannot know her, for you never needed her. O such a friend as 
she is! Not to me only, but to whoever needs her. She goes along life 
with her hands full of blessings, and she is forever dropping something 
into somebody's lap; if it is not help, it is pleasure; if it is not a 
fruit, it is a flower. I never saw anybody like her. She is a very angel 
in the shape of a woman; and she is doing angel's work all the day long. 
I have seen, and I know. All sorts of help, and comfort, and cheer, and 
tenderness, and sympathy; and herself is the very last person' in all the 
world she thinks of." 

"That's a pretty character," said Mr. Southwode. 

"It comes out in everything," Rotha went on. "It is not in giving only; 
she is forever making everybody happy, if she can. There are some people 
you cannot make happy. But nursing them when they are sick, and 
comforting them when they are in trouble, and helping them when they are 
in difficulty, and supplying them when they are in need, and if they are 
none of those things, then just throwing flowers in their lap,--that is 
Mrs. Mowbray. Yes, and she can reprove them when they are wrong, too; and 
that is a harder service than either." 

"In how many of all these ways has she done you good, Rotha? if I may 
ask." 

"It is only pleasant to answer, Mr. Digby. In all of them." And Rotha's 
eyes filled full, and her cheek took fire. 

"Not 'supplying need' also?" 

"O yes! O that was one of the first things her kind hand did for me. Mr. 
Southwode, do you know, many people criticise her for the use she makes 
of her money; they call her extravagant, and indiscreet, and all that. 
They say she ought to lay up her money." 

"Quite natural." 

"But it hurt me sometimes." 

"It need not hurt you. There is another judgment, which is of more 
importance. 'There is, that maketh himself poor, yet hath great riches.' 
And there is, 'that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich 
towards God.' But the world must weigh according to its balances, and 
they are too small to take heaven in." 

A pause followed. With the going back to Mrs. Mowbray and all the 
memories connected with her, a sort of mist of association began to rise 
in Rotha's mind, to dim the new brightness of the present time. Uneasy 
half recollections of words or manner, or perhaps rather of the 
impression that words and manner had left behind them, began to come 
floating in upon her joyousness. The silence lasted. 

"What did you learn with Mrs. Mowbray?" Mr. Southwode asked at length. 

"Beginnings of things," said Rotha regretfully; "only beginnings. I had 
not time fairly to learn anything." 

"Beginnings of what?" 

"French, Latin, geometry and algebra, history of course, philosophy, 
chemistry,--those were the principal things. I was going into geology, 
and I wanted to learn German; but Mrs. Mowbray thought I was doing 
enough already." 

"Enough, I should think. Music?" 

"O no!" said Rotha smiling. 

"Drawing?" 

"No," said the girl with a sigh this time. "Mrs. Mowbray could not give 
me everything you know, for she has others to help. And aunt Serena would 
not have heard of such a thing." 

"What would you like to do now, Rotha?" 

"Do? About what, Mr. Digby?" 

"Learning. I suppose you would like to go on in all these paths of 
knowledge you have entered?" 

Rotha looked towards him a little doubtfully. How did he mean? Himself to 
be her teacher again? But his next words explained. 

"You would like to go to school again?" 

"Yes, of course. I should like it very much." 

"Then that is one thing decided." 

"Shall I go back to Mrs. Mowbray?" she asked eagerly. 

Mr. Southwode hesitated, and delayed his answer. 

"I would rather be at a greater distance from Mrs. Busby," he confessed 
then. 

And Rotha made no answer. Those old impressions and associations were 
trooping in. She remembered that Mrs. Mowbray had never favoured the 
introduction of Mr. Southwode's name into their conversations; she had a 
dim apprehension that her influence would be thrown into Mrs. Busby's 
scale, and that possibly both ladies would join to prevent her, Rotha's, 
being under Mr. Southwode's protection and management. While not in the 
least suspicious, Rotha was too fine strung not to be an acute discerner. 
So far her thoughts went distinctly, and it was enough to tie her tongue. 
But beyond this, there were lights and shadows hovering on the horizon, 
which followed no traceable lines and revealed no recognizable forms, and 
yet made her feel that the social atmosphere held or might develope 
elements not altogether benign and peaceful. There had been words said or 
half said formerly, on one or two occasions, which had given her a clue 
she did not now like to follow out; words it would have been comfortable 
to forget, only Rotha did not forget. She _had_ forgotten or dismissed 
them, but as I said they began to come back. Besides, she was older. She 
could see now, simple as she was still, that in the relations between her 
and her guardian there was something anomalous; that for a young girl 
like her to be under care of a man no older than he, who was neither 
brother nor uncle nor any relation at all, and for her to be eating her 
bread at his expense, was a state of things which must be regarded as 
unusual, and to say the least, questionable. Poor Rotha sat thinking of 
this while she went on with her luncheon, and growing alternately hot and 
cold as she thought of it; everything being aggravated by an occasional 
glance at the friend opposite her, whose neighbourhood was so sweet, and 
every line of his face and figure so inexpressibly precious to her. For 
it began to dawn upon Rotha the woman, what had been utterly spurned in 
idea by Rotha the child, that this anomalous relation could not subsist 
always. She must, or he must, find a way out of it; and she preferred 
that it should be herself and not he. And the only way out of it that 
Rotha could see, was, that she should train herself to become a teacher; 
and so, in a very few years, a very few, come to be self-supported. It 
struck her heart like a bolt of ice, the thought; for the passionate 
delight of Rotha's heart was this very friend, from whom she began to see 
that she must separate herself. The greatest comfort at this moment was, 
that Mr. Southwode himself looked so composed and untroubled by doubts or 
whatever else. Yet Mr. Southwode had his own thoughts the while; and to 
conclude from the calmness of his face that his mind was equally 
uncrossed by a question, would have been to make a mistake. 

"Where then, if not to Mrs. Mowbray's?" Rotha inquired at last, breaking 
a long silence. 

"Perhaps Boston. How would you like that? Or would you be very sorry not 
to return to New York?" 

"Yes, sorry," said Rotha, "but I think it may be best. O Boston, or 
anywhere, Mr. Southwode! Just what you think wisest. But--I was 
thinking--" 

Rotha laid down her knife and fork and pushed away her plate. Her heart 
began to beat at an uneasy rate, and her voice grew anxious. 

"May I give you some fruit?" 

"No--I do not care for it--thank you." 

"This looks like a good pear. Try." 

It was on the whole easier to be doing something with her fingers. Rotha 
began to peal the pear. 

"You were thinking--?" Mr. Southwode then resumed. 

"I?--O yes! I was thinking--" And Rotha's pear and peel went down. "I was 
thinking--Mr. Digby, if I knew just what I was going to do, or be 
afterwards,--wouldn't it help us to know what I had better study? what 
preparation I ought to have?" 

"Afterwards? After what?" said Mr. Southwode, without laying down his 
pear. 

"After I have done with school." 

"When do you suppose that will be?" 

"I do not know. That of course would depend upon the other question." 

"Not necessarily. My wish is that you should be fitted for any situation 
in life. A one-sided education is never to be chosen, if one can help it; 
and one generally can help it. We can, at any rate. What are you thinking 
of doing, Rotha? in that 'afterwards' to which you refer?" 

"I have not thought very much about it. But you know I must do 
_something_. I suppose teaching would be the best. I dare say Mrs. 
Mowbray would take me for one of her helpers, if I were once fitted to 
fill the place." 

"What put this in your head?" 

"I suppose, _first_, some words of aunt Serena. That was her plan for 
me."

"I thought it was arranged that I was to take care of you." 

"You are doing it," said Rotha gratefully. "But of course you could not 
do it always." 

"Why not?" 

"Why--because--" said Rotha faltering and flushing a little,--"I do not 
belong to you in any way. It would not be right." 

"My memory is better, it seems, than yours. If I recollect right, you 
were given to me by your mother." 

"O yes," said Rotha, flushing deeper,--"she did. But I am sure she did 
not mean that I should be a charge upon you, after I was able to help 
myself." 

"You do not fancy that you can 'help yourself' now?" 

"No." 

"You do not judge that you are empowered to take back her gift?" 

"Not exactly. But Mr. Southwode," said Rotha half laughing, "I do not see 
how you can keep it. I _must_ do something for myself." 

"Not till I give permission. Eat your pear, and leave business to me." 

It rather comforted Rotha that this command was given to her; 
nevertheless and although the pear was a fine one, she 'chewed the cud of 
meditation' along with it. Very inopportunely those words heard long ago 
came floating back upon her memory, making her uncomfortable; making her 
doubt whether she could possibly remain long under the care that was so 
genial to her. Still, the present was too good to be spoiled, albeit the 
enjoyment of it was shadowed, by these reflections. I think, rather, 
according to some perverse principle of human nature, they made the 
enjoyment of it more tremblingly acute. However, the fruit was consumed 
in silence; Mr. 'Southwode having, as I hinted, his own thoughts. They 
left the table and took seats before the fire. 

"Now Rotha," said her guardian, "I should like to know what you have done 
in these three years. Are you willing that I should try to find out?" 

"By questioning me?" said Rotha laughing and flushing. "It would not be a 
new thing, Mr. Digby." 

Whereupon Mr. Southwode went into an examination of Rotha's acquirements 
and mental standing. It was pleasant enough and easy enough, though it 
was searching; it had too much savour of old times about it to be 
anything but easy and pleasant. Rotha did not fear it, and so enjoyed it. 
And so did her examiner. He found all that he had once known possible and 
hoped for her. The quick intelligence of the child he found matured; the 
keen apprehension practised; the excellent memory stored, even beyond 
what he expected. And then, Rotha's capital powers of reasoning were as 
true and clear-sighted as ever, her feeling as just and unperverted; the 
thirst for knowledge was more developed and very strong; and the 
knowledge already laid up amounted to a stock of surprising amount and 
variety. 

That was to both parties a very pleasant two hours. Rotha was looking, by 
turns, into the face she loved so well and watching the familiar face 
play, with the delight of one whose eyes have been long without the sight 
of what they loved. Moreover, she was taking up again the various threads 
of learning which had slipped from her hand, feeling now that her hold of 
them would not loose again. There was a savour of old associations, too, 
about this talk, which was very fascinating; and further yet, Rotha had a 
subtle consciousness that she was satisfying Mr. Southwode. And he on his 
part was making new acquaintance with his little friend of old, and 
noticing with a little surprise and much admiration how she had changed 
and grown. The face which was always so eager and expressive had taken on 
womanly softness and mature richness, without losing a bit of its 
changeful fire. The sallow skin had become clear and fine; the lines of 
the lips, not less passionate and not less decided than they used to be, 
were soft and pure; refinement was in every curve of them, and in all the 
face, and all the figure, and in every movement of either; and the deep, 
flashing eyes could be innocently merry and sweet too, and constantly 
answered him before the lips could speak. As one quarter of an hour sped 
on after another, Mr. Southwode grew less and less ready to be relieved 
of his charge. Yet, he asked himself, what should he do with her? He did 
not entertain the idea Mrs. Purcell had suggested; it was not precisely a 
disagreeable idea, and it recurred to him, in the midst of philosophy and 
mathematics; it was not a disagreeable idea, but--he had never entertained 
it! And he doubted besides if Rotha would easily entertain it. He knew 
she was fond of him, fond of being with him; but it was a childish 
fondness, he said to himself; it could be nothing else. It was a childish 
fondness, too frankly shewn to be anything more or deeper. And Rotha was 
very young, had seen nobody, and could not know what she would like. That 
she would do anything he asked her, he had little doubt; she would marry 
him if he asked her; but Mr. Southwode did not want a wife on those 
terms. What should he do with her? Yes, he knew the difficulties, much 
better than she knew them; he knew how people would talk, and how under 
the circumstances they would have reason to talk; which Rotha knew not. 
All which troublesome elements of the relation subsisting between them, 
only somehow made Mr. Southwode hold to it the faster. Probably he was by 
nature an obstinate man. 

Upon the pause which followed the end of her examination came a question 
of Rotha. 

"Are you going to stay in this country now, Mr. Southwode?" 

"My home is in England," he answered, rousing himself out of reverie. 

Rotha's heart sank at that; sank sadly. Next came a recoil of her 
reason--Yes, you had better go away, if I cling to you in this fashion! 

"Why?" was his next counter question. "What makes you ask?" 

"I did not know," said Rotha. "I wanted to know. I heard people say you 
would live over there." 

"What else have you heard people say about me?" 

"Not much. Aunt Serena never spoke of you, I think, if she could help it. 
I have only heard somebody say that you were very rich--that your home 
would be over there now, probably;--and that you would concern yourself 
no more about me," Rotha added, in the instinct of truth. 

"Kind judgment," said Mr. Southwode; "but in this case not true. The rest 
is true, that I have a large property." 

He went on to tell Rotha several things about himself; not using many 
words, at the same time not making any mystery of it. He told her that 
his very large means came from business; that the business was in hands 
which made it unnecessary that he should give to the oversight of it more 
than a portion of his time. He had a home in England, and he described 
it; in the Lake country, surrounded with beautiful scenery. He was very 
fond of it, but he was not a fixture there; on the contrary, he went 
wherever there was reason for him to go, or work to be done by his going. 
"So I am here now, you see." he concluded. 

And so, something else may take you back again, and keep you there! 
thought Rotha; but she did not say what she thought, nor indeed say 
anything. Mr. Southwode's detail, while it interested her terribly, and 
in a sort nattered her, also reduced her to a very low feeling of 
downheartedness. What was she to him, the poor little American orphan, to 
the rich English gentleman? what but just one of his various and probably 
many objects of benevolence? What more could she be, in the nature of 
things? No; she had been quite right; what she had to do was to equip 
herself as speedly as possible for the battle of life, and dash into it 
as a teacher; and only remember as a kind of fairy tale the part of her 
life when he had been its guardian and protector. Rotha's heart swelled; 
yet she would shew nothing of that. She sat still and moveless; too still 
and unchanging, in fact, for the supposition that her thoughts were not 
whirling round a fixed centre. I do not know how much of this Mr. 
Southwode read, I am not sure but the whirl of his own thoughts occupied 
him sufficiently. However, when this still silence had lasted a little 
while, he broke it up by proposing to take Rotha a drive. "You used to 
like it," he remarked. Rotha did not like it less now. She went to get 
ready; thinking to herself that it was maybe the very last time. Why had 
she come to Tanfield at all? and why had Mr. Southwode sought her out 
there? Better if she could have remained as she was, and he no more than 
a locked up treasure of the past kept in her memory. 


CHAPTER XXX. 


DOWN HILL. 


The afternoon was on the wane by the time they set out. The afternoon of 
a fair day in October. For Rotha's present mood it was almost too fair. 
The country around Tanfield is level for a mile or two, and well 
cultivated; the hues of the forest at the change of tire leaf are not 
seen here. Yet October was not left without witnesses. Here and there a 
warm stubble field told of summer gone and harvests gathered; her and 
there the yellowing green of a weeping willow proclaimed that autumn was 
passing away. Hay ricks carefully covered; wood sheds carefully filled; 
now and then a plough upturning the rich soil, and leaving furrows of 
ruddy brown creeping over the field; they all told the time of year; and 
so did at intervals a great maple tree in its livery of red and green, or 
a hickory all in gold, or a great red oak in its dark splendour. There 
was no mistaking October; even without the genial, gracious sun which 
shed over all the landscape such mellow and mellowing rays. Mr. Southwode 
had obtained an easy-going phaeton, with a pair of lively ponies; and 
through this level, quiet, rich, farm country they bowled along smoothly 
and fast. The pleasure, to Rotha, was so keen that it almost took on the 
semblance of pain. "This once," she was saying to herself; "and if only 
this once, then why this once?" And then she chid herself, and bade 
herself enjoy thoroughly and thankfully what was given her. She tried, 
and did not perfectly succeed. 

Mr. Southwode was silent on his part, more than usual. Certainly his 
reflections were in no sort like Rotha's, as they had no need; yet he was 
not clear in his own mind as to the best, or even the possible, issues of 
things. He found that he was not willing to entertain for a moment 
Rotha's proposition about striking off from his protection and making a 
livelihood for herself. Yet it was good sense. In fact, what else could 
be done? If Mr. Southwode had had a mother, and so a home, to which he 
could have introduced her; that would have been simple enough. She might 
have taken the place of a young sister. Failing that, what plan could be 
substituted, short of the one Mrs. Purcell had rudely proposed? He had no 
idea that Rotha was ready for that. Yes, undoubtedly she loved him, after 
another fashion; he was her childhood's friend and guardian and tutor; 
and as a child, no doubt, she still paid him reverence and affection. Mr. 
Southwode would never take advantage of the power this fact gave him, to 
draw Rotha into an alliance which her free mind would not have chosen. 
Some men would; many men might; it did not suit him. He could never take 
a wife on such doubtful terms. He was not clear that he wanted her on any 
terms. Yet oddly, and inconsistently, when he looked at the fine, honest, 
thoughtful, sensitive face beside him, something within him said, "I 
shall never let you go." It was very inconsistent. How he was to keep 
her, he could not see. He did not look at her often, for every look 
perplexed him. And Mr. Southwode was not in the least used to being 
perplexed. That perplexed him. Meanwhile he kept his horses well in hand 
and drove admirably. Over the level roads, through the still air, they 
went with the steadiness and almost the swiftness, of a locomotive. It 
was glorious driving. Rotha caught her breath with delight. 

At this rate of progress however the small ex-tent of level country was 
soon passed over. They began to get among broken ground and low hills; 
hills and round heights covered with tufts of wood growth, now in all the 
colours of the gay time of year. Hickories all gold, ashes in sad purple, 
bronzed chestnut oaks, yellow birches, and sometimes sober green savins; 
and maples in abundance and in brilliant variegation. There were risings 
and fallings of ground now, and turning of angles; and as they went the 
hills grew higher and set closer upon the road, and the road was often 
too steep for the pace the horses had hitherto kept up. Now they must 
walk up a hill, and sometimes walk down again. 

"Do you know where you are, Mr. Digby?" said Rotha, one of these times. 

"Not perfectly." 

"Is not that a very favourable statement of the case?" 

"Let us take an observation," said he, pulling up at the top of the hill. 
"There is the west, by the sun. We have kept our backs upon Tanfield 
generally; it must lie well to the south, and a little to the east of us. 
I am going to take the first turning that promises to bring us round, and 
back by another road. There is the railway!--do you see, yonder, its 
straight level line? Now I know where we are. That is the Tanfield 
railway, running on to the north. We must come about and meet it, 
somewhere." 

The coming about, however, proved to be a long and gradual process. The 
first turning they took did not lead immediately in the desired 
direction, only as it were inclined towards it; the second turning was 
not more satisfactory. Meanwhile they got deeper among the hills; the 
ground was more and more rough; farming land disappeared; rocks and 
woodland filled the eye, look where it would; the roads were less 
travelled and by no means smooth going any longer. Even so, they were 
prettier; the changes of hill and valley, sudden and varied as they were, 
gave interest to every foot of the way. All this took time; but nobody 
was in a hurry. Rotha was thinking that perhaps it was her last drive 
with Mr. Southwode; and Mr. Southwode was thinking, I do not know what; 
nor perhaps did he. 

The point was found at last where they could turn their faces towards 
Tanfield; they were sure of their way when they reached the top of a hill 
and saw, spread out before them for many a square mile, the plain country 
in which the town stood, and far away in the midst of it could discern 
the glinting of the light upon its spires and houses. The sun was very 
low; its level rays gave an exquisite illumination to the whole scene, 
lighting every rise of ground and every tuft of woodland, and even coming 
back from scattered single trees with beautiful defining effect. Mr. 
Southwode drew up his horses; and for a few minutes he and Rotha fed 
their eyes with what was before them. The sun was just kissing the 
horizon. 

"That is worth coming all the way for!" he said. 

"And we shall not have it but just half a minute longer," said Rotha. 
"There--the light is going now. O what a sight it is!--There! now it is 
all gone. How far are we from home, do you suppose?" 

"By the roads, I do not know; but once at the bottom of this hill we 
shall have nothing but level travelling, and the horses go pretty well." 

"_Pretty_ well!" said Rotha laughing. "I am wondering then what you would 
call very well? We have got to cross the railway, Mr. Southwode. It runs 
by the foot of the hill." 

"There is no train near," he answered as he put his horses in motion. 

They went slowly down the hill, which was rough and steep. The horses 
behaved well, setting down their feet carefully, and holding back the 
carnage with the instinct or training which seems to be aware what would 
be the consequence of letting themselves and it go. But then happened one 
of those things against which instinct is no protection and training 
cannot provide. Just as a sharp turn in the road was reached, from which 
it went on turning round a shoulder of the hill till it reached the lower 
ground, this thing happened. It was the worst possible place for an 
accident; the descent was steep and rough and winding, the road 
disappearing from view behind the turn; and crossed evidently, just a 
little further below, by the railway track. The horses at this point came 
to a sudden stop. Mr. Southwode alone saw why. Some buckle or pin or 
strap, which had to do with the secure holding of the end of the carriage 
pole to the harness, was broken or had given way, and the pole had fallen 
to the ground. The horses had made an astonished pause, but he knew this 
pause would be followed the next instant by a mad headlong rush down the 
hill and a swallowing of the plain with their hoofs, if they ever reached 
it; which was in u high degree unlikely for them and impossible for the 
carriage. Rotha only knew that the horses quietly stopped, and that Mr. 
Southwode said quietly, 

"Jump, Rotha!" 

Yes, he said it quietly; and yet there was something in tone or accent 
which left no room for disobedience or even hesitation. That something 
was very much the matter, Rotha at once knew; and if there was danger she 
did not at all wish to get out of it and leave him to face it alone. She 
would rather have sat still and taken what came, so she took it with him. 
Moreover she had always been told that in case of a runaway the last 
thing to be done is to try to get out of the carriage. All this was full 
in her mind; and yet when Mr. Southwode said "Jump," she knew she must 
mind him. He offered her no help; but light and active as she was she did 
not need it; a step on the wheel and a spring to the ground, and she was 
safe. Just for that instant the horses stood still; then followed what 
their driver had known would follow. Almost as Rotha's foot touched the 
ground they dashed forward, and with one confused rush and whirl she saw 
them, phaeton and all, disappear round the turn of the hill. 

And there was the railway track to cross! Rotha stood still, feeling 
stunned and sick. It was all so sudden. One minute in happy safety and 
quiet, beside the person she liked best in the world; only the next 
minute alone and desolate, with the sight of him before her eyes hurled 
to danger and probable death. Danger? how could anything live to get to 
the bottom of that hill at the rate the horses took? 

Of the fallen carnage pole Rotha knew nothing, and needed not that to be 
assured that the chance of her ever hearing Mr. Southwode speak again was 
a very, very slender one. She did not think; she merely knew all this, 
with a dumb, blank consciousness; she stood still, mechanically pressing 
her hands upon her heart. The noise of the horses' hoofs and the rushing 
wheels had been swallowed up by the intervening hill, and the stillness 
was simply mocking in its tranquil peacefulness. The sunlight at the 
glory of which they had both been looking, had hardly died away from the 
landscape; and one of them, most likely, was beyond seeing the light of 
earth forevermore. Rotha stood as still as death herself, listening for a 
sound that came not, and gradually growing white and whiter. Yet she 
never was in any danger of fainting; no sealing of her senses served as a 
release to her pain; in full, clear consciousness she stood there, and 
heard the silence and saw the sweet fall of the evening light upon the 
plain. Only stunned; with a consciousness that was but partially alive to 
suffering. I suppose the mind cannot fully take in such a change at once. 
She was so stunned, that several minutes passed before she could act, or 
move; and it seemed that the silence and peace had long been reigning 
over hill and plain, when she roused herself to go down the road. 

She went then with dreadful haste, yet so trembling that she could not go 
as fast as she would. The horror of what might be at the bottom of the 
hill might have kept her for ever upon it; but the need to know was 
greater still; and so with an awful fear of what every step might bring 
her to, she sped down the hill. She heard no noise; she saw no wreck; 
following the winding of the road, which wound fearfully down such a 
steep, she came to the railway crossing and passed it, and followed on 
still further down; the curve of the road always hiding from her what 
might be beyond. Her feet got wings at last; she was shaking in every 
joint, yet fairly flew along, being unable to endure the fear and 
uncertainty. No trace of any disaster met her eyes; no call for help or 
cry to the horses came to her ears; what did the silence portend? 

Just at the bottom the road made another sharp turn around a clump of 
woodland. Rounding this turn, Rotha came suddenly upon what she sought. 
The first glance shewed her that Mr. Southwode was upon his feet; the 
second that the horses were standing still. Rotha hardly saw anything 
more. She made her way, still running, till she got to Mr. Southwode's 
side, and there stopped and looked at him; with white lips apart and eyes 
that put an intense question. For though she saw him standing and 
apparently well able to stand, the passion of fear could not so 
immediately be driven out by the evidence of one sense alone. He met the 
urgency of her eyes and smiled. 

"I am all right," he said. 

"Not hurt?" 

"Not in the least." 

Looking at her still, for her face had startled him, he saw a change come 
over it which was beyond the demands of mere friendly solicitude, even 
when very warm. He saw the flash of intense joy in her eyes, and what was 
yet more, a quiver in the unbent lovely lines about the mouth. One does 
not stop to reason out conclusions at such a time. Mr. Southwode was 
still holding the reins of the panting horses, the carriage was a wreck a 
few yards off, they were miles away from home; he forgot it all, and 
acting upon one of those subtle instincts which give no account of 
themselves, he laid one arm lightly around Rotha and bent down and kissed 
the unsteady lips. 

A sudden flood of scarlet, so intense that it was almost pain, shot over 
Rotha's face, and her eyes drooped and failed utterly to meet his. She 
had been very near bursting into tears, woman's natural relief from 
overstrained nerves; but his kiss turned the current of feeling into 
another channel, and the sting of delight and pain was met by an 
overwhelming consciousness. Had she betrayed herself? What made him do 
that? It was good for Rotha just then that she was no practised woman of 
the world, not skilled in any manner of evasion or trick of deceptive 
art. If she had been; if she had answered his demonstration with a little 
cold, careless laugh, and turned it off with a word of derision; as I 
suppose she would if she had not been so utterly true and honest, 
according to a woman's terrible instinct of self-preservation, or 
preservation of her secret; he would have thought as he had thought 
before--she loves me as a child does. But the extreme confusion, and the 
lovely abasement of the lowered brow, went to his heart with their 
unmistakeable revelation. Instead of releasing her, he put both arms 
round her now and gently drew her up to him. But Rotha was by no means so 
clear in her mind as by this time he was. She did not understand his 
action, and so misinterpreted it. She made a brave effort to relieve him 
from what she thought overwrought gratitude. 

"That is nothing to thank me for, Mr. Southwode," she said. "Any friend 
would have been anxious, in my place." 

"True. Were you anxious simply as a friend, Rotha?" 

Rotha hesitated, and the hesitation lasted till it amounted to an 
eloquent answer; and the arms that held her drew her a little closer. 

"But I do not understand--" she managed to say. 

"Do you not? I do. I think I can make you understand too." 

But his explanations were wordless, and if convincing were exceedingly 
confusing to Rotha. 

"But Mr. Southwode!--what _do_ you mean?" she managed at last to say, 
trying to release herself. 

"I mean, that you belong to me, and I belong to you, for the rest of our 
lives. That is what I mean." 

"Are you sure?" 

"Yes," said he with a low laugh; "and so are you. When you and I mean a 
thing, we mean it." 

Rotha wondered that he could mean it, and she wondered how he could know 
that she meant it. Had she somehow betrayed herself? and how? She felt 
very humble, and very proud at the same time; in one way esteeming at its 
full value the woman's heart and life she had to give, as every woman 
should; in another way thinking it not half good enough. Shamefaced, 
because her secret was found out, yet too honest and noble of nature to 
attempt any poor effort at deceit, she stood with lights and shadows 
flying over her face in a lovely and most womanly manner; yet mostly 
lights, of shy modesty and half veiled gladness and humble 
content. Fifty things came to her lips to say, and she could speak none 
of them; and she began to wish the silence would be broken. 

"How did you know, Mr. Southwode?" she burst forth at last, that question 
pressing too hard to be satisfied. 

"Know what?" said he. 

"I mean--you know what I mean! I mean,--now came you--what made you--
speak as you did? I mean! _that_ isn't it. I mean, what justification did 
you think you had?" 

Mr. Southwode laughed his low laugh again. 

"Do I need justification?" 

"Yes, for jumping at conclusions." 

"That is the way they say women always do." 

"Not in such things!" 

"Perhaps not. Certainly _you_ have not done it in this case." 

"How came you to do it? Please answer me! Mr. Southwode, are you sure you 
know what you mean? You did not think of any such thing when we set out 
upon our drive this afternoon?" Rotha spoke with great and painful 
difficulty, but she felt she must speak. 

"I had thought of it. But Rotha, I was not sure of you." 

"In what way?" 

"I knew you cared for me, a good deal; but I fancied it was merely a 
child's devotion, which would vanish fast away as soon as the right claim 
was made to your heart." 

"And why do you not think so still?" said Rotha, the flames of 
consciousness flashing up to her very brow. But Mr. Southwode only 
laughed softly and kissed, both lips and brow, tenderly and reverently, 
if very assuredly. 

"I have not done anything--" said Rotha, trembling and a little 
distressed. 

"Nothing, but to be true and pure and natural; and so has come the answer 
to my question, which I might not have ventured to ask. Mrs. Purcell 
asked me to-day whether I was going to marry you, and I said no; for I 
never could have let you marry me with a child's transient passion and 
find out afterwards that your woman's heart was not given me. But now I 
will correct my answer to Mrs. Purcell, if I have opportunity." 

"But," said Rotha hesitating,--"I think in one thing you are mistaken. I 
do not think my feeling has really changed, since long ago." 

"Did you give me your woman's heart _then?_" 

"You think I had it not to give; but I think, I gave you all I had. And 
though I have changed, _that_ has not changed." 

"I take it," he said. "And what I have to give you, I will let my life 
tell you. Now we must try to get home." 

Released from the arm that had held her all this while, Rotha for the 
first time surveyed the ground. There were the horses, standing quietly 
enough after their mad rush down the hill; panting yet, and feeling 
nervous, as might be seen by the movement of ears and air of head. And a 
few rods behind lay what had been the phaeton; now a thorough and utter 
wreck. 

"How did it happen?" exclaimed Rotha, in a sudden spasm of dread catching 
hold of Mr. Southwode's arm. He told her what had been the beginning of 
the trouble. 

"What carelessness! But how have you escaped? And how came the carriage 
to be such a smash?" 

"I knew what was before me, when on the hill the horses made that sudden 
pause and I saw the pole on the ground. I knew they would be still only 
that one instant. Then I told you to jump. You behaved very well." 

"I did nothing," said Rotha. "The tone of your voice, when you said 
'Jump!' was something, or had something in it, which I could not possibly 
disobey. I did not want to jump, at all; but I had no choice. Then?--" 

"Then followed what I knew must come. You saw how we went down the hill; 
but happily the road turned and you could not see us long. I do not know 
how we went scathless so far as we did; but at last the end of the pole 
of the phaeton lodged against some obstacle in the road, stuck fast, and 
the carriage simply turned a somersault over it, throwing me out into 
safety, and itself getting presently broken almost to shivers." 

"Throwing you out into safety!" Rotha exclaimed, turning pale. 

"Don't I look safe?" said he smiling. 

"And you are as cool as if nothing had happened." 

"Am I? On the contrary, I feel very warm about the region of my heart, 
and as if a good deal had happened. Now Rotha, we have got to walk home. 
How many miles it is, I do not know." 

"And I do not care!" said Rotha. "But how came you to keep hold of the 
reins all the time? Or did you catch them afterwards?" 

"No, I held on to them. It was the only way to save the horses." 

"But they were running! How could you?" 

"I do not know; only what has to be done, generally can be done. We will 
take the rest of the way gently." 

But I am not sure that they did; and I am sure that they did not much 
think how they took it. Rather briskly, I fancy, following the horses, 
which were restless yet; and with a certain apprehension that there was a 
long way to go. On the roads they had travelled at first coming out there 
had been frequently a farmhouse to be seen; now they came to none. The 
road was solitary, stretching away between tracts of rocky and stony 
soil, left to its natural condition, and with patches of wood. But what a 
walk that was after all! The mild, mellow October light beautified even 
the barren spots of earth, and made the woodland tufts of foliage into 
clusters of beauty. As the light faded, the hues of things grew softer; a 
spicier fragrance came from leaf and stem; the gently gathering dusk 
seemed to fold the two who were walking through it into a more reserved 
world of their own. And then, above in the dark bright sky lights began 
to look forth, so quiet, so peaceful, as if they were blinking their 
sympathy with the wanderers. These did not talk very much, and about 
nothing but trifling matters by the way; yet it came over Rotha's mind 
that perhaps in all future time she would never have a pleasanter walk 
than this. Could life have anything better? And she might have been 
right, if she had been like many, who know nothing more precious than the 
earthly love which for her was just in its blossoming time. But she was 
wrong; for to people given over, as these two were, to the service of 
Christ, the joys of life are on an ascending scale; experience brings 
more than time takes away; affection, having a joint object beyond and 
above each other, does never grow weary or stale, and never knows 
disappointment or satiety; and the work of life brings in delicious 
fruits as they go, and the light of heaven shines brighter and brighter 
upon their footsteps. It can be only owing to their own fault, if to-
morrow is not steadily better than to-day. 

But from what I have said it will appear that Rotha was presently in a 
contented state of mind; and she went revolving all sorts of things in 
her thoughts as she walked, laying up stores of material for future 
conversations, which however she was glad Mr. Southwode did not begin 
now. 

As for Mr. Southwode, he minded his horses, and also minded her; but if 
he spoke at all it was merely to remark on some rough bit of ground, or 
some wonderful bit of colour in the evening sky. 

"Well, hollo, mister!" cried a hotel hostler as they approached near 
enough to have the manner of their travelling discernible,--"what ha' 
you done wi' your waggin?" 

"I was unable to do anything with it." 

"Where is it then?" 

"About five miles off, I judge, lying at the foot of a hill." 

"Spilled, hey?" 

"It will never hold anything again." 

"What's that? what's this?" cried the landlord now, issuing from the 
lower door of the house; "what's wrong here, sir?" 

"I do not know," said Mr. Southwode; "but there has been carelessness 
somewhere. Either the hostler did his work with his eyes shut, or the 
leather of the harness gave way, or the iron work of something. The pole 
fell, as we were going down a steep hill; of course the phaeton is a 
wreck. I could only save the horses." 

The landlord was in a great fume. 

"Sir, sir," he stammered and blustered,--"this is _your_ account of it." 

"Precisely," said Mr. Southwode. "That is my account of it." 

"How in thunder did it happen? It was bad driving, I expect." 

"It was nothing of the kind. It was a steep hill, a dropped carriage 
pole, and a run. You could not expect the horses not to run. And of 
course the carriage went to pieces." 

"Who was in it?" 

"I was in it. The lady jumped out, just before the run began." 

"Didn't you know enough to jump too?" 

"I knew enough not to jump," said Mr. Southwode, laughing a little. "By 
that means I saved your horses." 

"And I expect you want me to take that as pay for the carriage! and take 
your story too. But it was at your risk, sir--at your risk. When I sends 
out a team, without I sends a man with it, it's at the driver's risk, 
whoever he is. I expect you to make it good, sir. I can't afford no 
otherwise. The phaeton was in good order when it went out o' this yard; 
and I expect you to bring it back in good order, or stand the loss. My 
business wouldn't keep me, sir, on no other principles. You must make the 
damage good, if you're a gentleman or no gentleman." 

"Take the best supposition, and let me have supper. If you will make 
_that_ good, Mr. Landlord, you may add the phaeton to my bill." 

"You'll pay it, I s'pose?" cried the anxious landlord, as his guest 
turned away. 

"I always pay my bills," said Mr. Southwode, mounting the steps to the 
piazza. "Now Rotha, come and have something to eat." 

Supper was long since over for the family; the two had the great dining 
hall to themselves. It was the room in which Rotha had taken her solitary 
breakfast the morning of her arrival. Now as she and her companion took 
their seats at one of the small tables, it seemed to the girl that she 
had got into an enchanted country. Aladdin's vaults of jewels were not a 
pleasanter place in his eyes, than this room to her to-night. And she had 
not to take care even of her supper; care of every sort was gone. One 
thing however was on Rotha's mind. 

"Mr. Southwode," she said as soon as they had placed themselves,--"it was 
not your fault, all that about the phaeton." 

"No." 

"Then you ought not to pay for it." 

"It would be more loss to this poor man, than to me, Rotha, I fancy." 

"Yes, but right is right. Making a present is one thing; paying an unjust 
charge is another. It is allowing that you were to blame." 

"I do not know that it is unjust. And peace is worth paying for, if the 
phaeton is not." 

"How much do you suppose it will be?" 

"I do not know," he said laughing a little. "Are you anxious, about it?" 

Rotha coloured up brightly. "It seems like allowing that you were in the 
wrong," she said. "And the man was very impertinent." 

"I recognize your old fierce logic of justice. Haven't you learned yet 
that one must give and take a good deal in this world, to get along 
smoothly? No charge the man can ever make will equal what the broken 
phaeton is worth to me, Rotha." 


CHAPTER XXXI. 


DISCUSSIONS. 


The sitting room, when they came to it after supper, looked as pleasant 
as a hotel sitting room could. It was but a bare apartment, after the 
fashion of country hotels; however it was filled with the blaze of a good 
fire, and that gives a glimmer of comfort anywhere. Moreover it was a 
private room; they had it to themselves. Now what next? thought Rotha. 

Mr. Southwode put a chair for her, gave a little dressing to the fire, 
and then stood by the mantel-piece with his back towards it, so that his 
face was in shadow. Probably he was considering Rotha's face, into which 
the fire shone full. For it was a pleasant thing to look at, with its 
brightness just now softened by a lovely veil of modesty, and a certain 
unmistakeable blessedness of content lurking in the corners of the mouth 
and the lines of the brow. It met all the requirements of a fastidious 
man. There was sense, dignity, refinement, sensitiveness, and frankness; 
and the gazer almost forgot what he wanted to do, in the pleasure of 
looking. Rotha had time to wonder more than once "what next?"  

"It seems to me we have a great deal to talk about, Rotha," Mr. Southwode 
said at last. "And not much time. What comes first?" 

"I suppose," said Rotha, "the first thing is, that I must go back to 
school." 

"I suppose you must!" he said. There was an accent about it that made 
Rotha laugh. 

"Why I must of course!" she said. "I do not know anything;--only the 
beginnings of things." 

"Yes," repeated Mr. Southwode, "for a year you must go, I suppose. For a 
year.-- After that, I will not wait any longer. You shall do the rest of 
your studying with me." 

"You know I like that best of all--" she said softly. 

"Perhaps I will take you to Germany." 

"Germany!"-- 

"It is a good place to study German. Or to study anything." 

"Must one go to France too, to study French?" Rotha asked with a nervous 
laugh. 

"We must not be too long away from home. But a year--or till next summer; 
school terms end in summer, do they not?" 

"In June." 

"So, for a year, or for eight months, I shall hardly see you. We must do 
a great deal of talking to-night." 

"Where will you be, Mr. Digby?" Rotha asked timidly, as he took a chair 
beside her. 

"Not far off; but for this interval I shall choose to play the part of 
guardian, rather than that of lover, before the eyes of the world." 

"O yes, indeed!" said Rotha earnestly. "For every reason." 

"All the more, I am not going to play the part of guardian to-night. 
Rotha I think _now_, it would be as well to return to Mrs. Mowbray for 
these eight months. Would you like that?" 

"O I shall like it very much! if you like it." 

"Things are changed, since we talked about it this afternoon." 

"Yes!--" said Rotha breathless. And there was something she wanted to 
say, but at that minute she could not say it. For that minute she could 
not disturb the sweetness of things as they were. Scruples must wait. 
Mr. Southwode saw that she was a little disturbed, shy and nervous, 
albeit there was no doubt that she was very happy. He stretched out his 
hand and took hers, holding it in a fast steady clasp; as if to assure 
her of something tangible and real in her new happiness. "Now," said 
he, "tell me about yourself--about all these years." 

"I did tell you, in part." 

"Yes. Tell me the other part. I want to have the whole now." 

"It would just--annoy you, I am afraid." 

"What sort of a home did you have with your aunt?" 

"Not pleasant. That was _partly_ my own fault. I was not patient and 
gentle and quiet--as you told me to be. I got into a kind of a fury, at 
things and at her." 

"What did she do?" 

And then Rotha told him the whole story, not sparing herself at all by 
the way; till he knew pretty well what her life had been these three 
years, and what part Mrs. Mowbray and what part Mrs. Busby had played in 
it. Only one thing Rotha did not tell him; the episode of the stockings. 
He listened in absolute silence, save that now and then he helped her on 
with a question; holding her hand firmly all the while. And Rotha felt 
the clasp and knew what it meant, and poured out her heart. After she had 
done, he was still silent a minute. 

"What shall we do to Mrs. Mowbray!" he broke out. 

"You cannot do anything to her," said Rotha. "Thanks are nothing; and 
there is no way of doing the least thing beside;--unless she could be 
very ill and left to my care; and I do not wish that." 

"Perhaps she will give up schooling some day; and we will coax her over 
to England and make her live with us." 

Rotha started and turned upon the speaker one of her brilliant looks. A 
sort of delight at the thought, and admiration of _his_ thought, with a 
flush of intense affection which regarded at least two people, made her 
face like a cluster of diamonds. Mr. Southwode smiled, and then began to 
talk about that home to which he had alluded. He described it to Rotha; 
sketched the plan of the house for her; told her about the people of the 
surrounding country. The house was not magnificent or stately, he said; 
but large, comfortable, old, and rather picturesque in appearance; 
standing in the midst of extensive and very lovely grounds, where art had 
not interfered with nature. He told Rotha he thought she would like it. 

Rotha's eyes fell; she made no answer, but was he thought very grave. He 
went on to tell her about himself and his business. He, and his father 
and grandfather before him, had been owners of a large manufacturing 
establishment, the buildings of which made almost a village some three 
miles from the house, and the workmen in which were very many. 

"Isn't that troublesome often?" Rotha asked, forgetting herself now. 

"No. Why should it be troublesome?" 

"I read in the papers so much about strikes, and disagreements between 
masters and workmen in this country." 

"We never had a strike, and we never have disagreements." 

"That is nice; but how do you manage? I suppose I can guess! They all do 
what you tell them." 

"I do not tell them anything unreasonable." 

"Still, ignorant people do not always know what is reasonable." 

"That is true. And it is rather the Golden Rule we go by, than the might 
of Reason or the reign of Law." 

"How do you manage, Mr. Digby?" 

"I am not to be Mr. Digby always, I hope?" 

"This year--" murmured Rotha.

"This year! I do not mean to ask anything unreasonable of you either; but 
I _would_ like you to remember that things are changed," he said, amused. 

"Yes, I will," said Rotha confusedly--"I will remember; I do remember, 
but now please tell me about your factory people." 

"What about them?" 

"O, how you manage; how they do; anything!" 

"Well--the hands go to work at six o'clock, and work two hours; or not 
quite that, for the bell rings in time to let them wash their hands 
before breakfast; and for that there are rooms provided, with soap and 
towels and everything necessary. Then they gather in the dining halls, 
where their breakfast is ready; or if any of them prefer to bring their 
own food, it is cooked for them. There is no compulsion." 

"What do they have for breakfast?" 

"Coffee and tea and bread, and porridge with milk or with syrup--all at 
certain fixed low rates and all of good quality. There are people to 
cook, and boys and girls to wait upon the tables. They have the time till 
half past eight, but it is not all used for eating; the last quarter of 
an hour they stroll about and talk together. At half past eight comes the 
time for prayers. One of the managers conducts the service in the chapel; 
the Bible is read, and a hymn is sung, and there is a short prayer. At 
nine o'clock all hands go back to work." 

"They have had an hour's good rest," said Rotha. "You say, in the  
_chapel?_ have you a chapel for them?" 

"In the midst of the mills. It is a pretty little building--in old 
English rustic style; I think it very pretty." 

"I dare say the people enjoy that," said Rotha. "It _ought_ to be pretty, 
for them. I should think your hands would never want to leave you, Mr. 
Southwode." 

"They never do. And as I told you, there is never a question of strikes. 
Neither do we ever have a time of bad business. The work done is so 
thorough and has been so long well known, that we never need to ask for 
orders. We never lose by making bad debts; and we never give notes, or 
take them. I say 'we'--I am using the old formula--it is all in my hand 
now." 

"Why are not other people wise enough to make such arrangements and have 
the same sort of comfort?" 

"Men fail to recognize their common humanity with those under them. That 
has been the basis of our management from the beginning. But the chapel, 
and the religious influence, are of later date.--I must find a ring for 
this finger, Rotha." 

"A ring!" exclaimed the girl. 

"Yes. Is not that the custom here? to make people remember what they have 
pledged themselves to?--" he said smiling. 

"Oh never mind that, Mr. Southwode!" said Rotha hurriedly. "Go on and 
tell me more about your mill people." 

"What shall I tell you?" 

"About your ways,--and their ways. When do they have dinner?" 

"Between one and two. They have an hour for it. A little after half past 
one they go to work again and work till six; only they have time allowed 
them for tea and coffee at half past four." 

"There is no drinking, I suppose?" 

"Not even of beer. Half the people do their work at their own homes; they 
bring it in on certain days, when we give them hot tea and coffee and 
bread and cheese, which they have without paying for it. That saves them 
from the temptation of the public houses; and there is no such thing as 
drunkenness known in the community." 

"Tea and coffee seem to play a great part," said Rotha. 

"So they do. People steadily at work in any mechanical way need frequent 
refreshment of body, which also in some degree is refreshment of mind; 
and there, as beer and whiskey are banished, tea and coffee come in 
happily. I do not know how they would manage without them.--Then in 
various ways we minister to the people and care for them; so that we are 
like one big family. When any are sick, they are paid at least half wages 
all the time; and by clubbing together it is generally made up to full 
wages. We have hospitals, where they have board and lodging and care in 
addition to half wages; but there is no compulsion about going to the 
hospitals. And whenever any of them are in any sort of trouble, they come 
to us for counsel and sympathy and help; my father knew them all 
personally, and so do I, and so did my dear mother when she was living. 
But a mistress is wanted there now, Rotha," Mr. Southwode went on. "I 
cannot do all I would alone, nor half so well what I do. Your place is 
ready." 

"O do not speak so!" cried Rotha catching her breath. "I wish I were fit 
for it." 

"Fit for it!" said he, putting his hand under her chin and drawing his 
fingers slowly along the delicate outlines, while the blood mounted into 
her cheeks and flamed out vividly. 

"You make me feel so very small, telling me all these things!" she said. 
"They are such grand things! And what am I?" 

He lifted her face, not without a little resistance on her part, till he 
could reach her lips, and gave his answer there first; gave it tenderly, 
and laughingly. 

"You are mine," he said; "and what is mine I do not like anybody to find 
fault with, except myself." 

"I mean it seriously, Mr. Digby--" Rotha made effort to say. 

"So do I. And seriously, I want you there very much. I want your help in 
the schools, and with men, women and children out of the schools. It is 
pleasant work too. They are always glad to see me; and they will be more 
glad to see you." 

"Never!" said Rotha energetically. "What is the name of the place? you 
never told me." 

"Southwode." 

"Southwode! That is pretty." 

"I  am glad you think so. I will shew you, if I can, a little what the 
house is like." 

He had sketched the ground plan of it before; now he drew the elevation, 
giving some hints of the surrounding trees and further lines of the 
landscape; telling her all sorts of quiet details about this room and 
that room, this and that growth of trees, or plantation, or shrubbery. 
And Rotha looked on and listened, in a kind of dream witchery of 
pleasure; absorbed, fascinated, with very fulness of content. 

Nevertheless, her mind was not settled on one point, and that a very 
essential point; and after the evening was over and she was alone in her 
own room, she thought about it a great deal. She could not think 
regularly; that was impossible; she was in too great a confusion of 
emotions; happiness and wonder and strangeness and doubt made a 
labyrinth; through which Rotha had no clue but a thread of sensitive 
impulse; a woman's too frequent only leader, or misleader. That thread 
she held fast to; and made up her mind that certain words in consonance 
therewith should certainly be spoken to Mr. Digby in the morning. It 
would not be easy, nor pleasant. No, not at all; but that made no 
difference. She had taken to her room with her the sketch which Mr. 
Southwode had made of his home; she would keep that always. It was very 
lovely to Rotha's eyes. She looked at it fondly, longingly, even with a 
tear or two; but all the same, one thing she was sure it was right to do, 
to say; and she would do it, though it drew the heart out of her body. 
She thought about it for a while, trying to arrange how she should do it; 
but then went to sleep, and slept as if all cares were gone. 

She slept late; then dressed hastily, nervously, thinking of her task. It 
would be very difficult to speak so that her words would have any chance 
of effect; but Rotha set her teeth with the resolve that it should be 
done. Better any pain or awkwardness than a mistake now. Now or never a 
mistake must be prevented. She went to the sitting room with her heart 
beating. Mr. Digby was already there, and the new, unwonted manner of his 
greeting nearly routed Rotha's plan of attack. She stood still to collect 
her forces. She was sure the breakfast bell would ring in a minute, and 
then the game would be up. Mr. Southwode set a chair for her, and turned 
to gather together some papers on the table; he had been writing. 

"What o'clock is it?" Rotha asked, to make sure of her own voice. 

"Almost breakfast time, if that is what you mean. Are you hungry?" 

"I--do not know," said Rotha. "Mr. Digby--"

Mr. Digby knew her well enough and knew the tone of her voice well 
enough, to be almost sure of what sort of thing was coming. He answered 
with a matter-of-fact "What, Rotha?" 

"I want to say something to you--" But her breath came and went hastily. 
Then he came and put his arms round her, and told her to speak. 

"It is not easy to speak--what I want to say." 

"I am not anxious to make it easy!" 

"Why not?" said Rotha, looking suddenly up at him, with such innocent, 
eager, questioning eyes that he was much inclined to put a sudden stop to 
her communications. But she had something on her mind, and it was better 
that she should get rid of it; so he restrained himself. 

"Go on, Rotha. What is it?" 

"I can hardly talk to you so, Mr. Digby. I think, if I were standing over 
yonder by the window, with all that space between us, I could manage it 
better." 

"I am not going to put space between us in any way, nor for any reason. 
What is this all about?" 

"It is just that, Mr. Southwode. I think--I am afraid--I think, perhaps, 
you spoke hastily to me yesterday, and might find out afterwards that it 
was not just the best thing--" 

"What?" 

"I--for you," said the girl bravely; though her cheeks burned and every 
nerve in her trembled. He could feel how she was trembling. "I think--
maybe,--you might find it out after a while; and I would rather you 
should find it out at once. I propose,"--she went on hurriedly, forcing 
herself to say all she had meant to say;--"I propose, that we agree to 
let things be as if you had not said it; let things be as they were--for 
a year,--until next summer, I mean. And _then_, if you think it was not a 
mistake, you can tell me." 

She had turned a little pale now, and her lip quivered slightly. And 
after a slight pause, which Mr. Southwode did not break, she went on,--

"And, in the mean time, we will let nobody know anything about it." 

"I shall tell Mrs. Mowbray the first five minutes I am in her company," 
he said. 

Rotha looked up again, but then her eyes fell, and the strained lines of 
brow and lips relaxed, and the colour rose. 

"About Mrs. Busby, you shall do as you please. You do not know me yet, 
Rotha--my little Rotha! Do you think I would say to any woman what I said 
to you yesterday, and not know my own mind?" 

"No--" Rotha said softly. "But I thought I was so unfit I do not know 
what I thought! only I knew I must speak to you." 

"You are a brave girl," said he tenderly, "and my very darling." And he 
allowed himself the kisses now. "Was that all, Rotha?" 

"Yes," she whispered. 

"You have nothing else on your mind?" 

"No." 

"Then come to breakfast. It is always bad to go to breakfast with 
anything on your mind. It is only on _my_ mind that it is so long to next 
June!" 

Rotha however was very willing it should be so. She wanted all these 
months, to study, to work, to think, to make herself as ready as she 
could be for what was before her. 

The train could not take them until eleven o'clock. After breakfast Rotha 
sat for a time meditating, no longer on troublesome subjects, while Mr. 
Southwode finished the letter he had begun earlier. As he began to fold 
up his paper, she came out with a question. 

"Mr. Southwode, what do you think I had better specially study this 
winter?" 

He did not smile, for if the question was put like a child, the work he 
knew would be done like a woman. He asked quietly, 

"What is your object in going to school at all?" 

The answer lingered, till his eyes looked up for it; then Rotha said, 
while a lovely flush covered the girl's face,--

"That you may not be ashamed of me." 

"That contingency never came under my consideration," he said, commanding 
his gravity. 

"But indeed it did under mine!" 

"Allow me to ask a further question. After that, do you expect to make it 
the main business of your life to please me?" 

"I suppose so," said Rotha, flushing deeper but speaking frankly, as her 
manner was. "It would be nothing new." 

"I should think that would come to be terribly monotonous!" he said with 
feigned dryness. 

"On the contrary!" said Rotha. "That is just what saves life from 
monotony." And then her colour fairly flamed up; but she would not 
qualify her words. 

"Right in principle," he said, smiling now, "but wrong in application." 

"How, Mr. Digby?" said Rotha, a little abashed. 

He threw his letter on one side, came and sat down by her, and putting 
his arm round her shoulders, answered first by one of those silent 
answers which--sometimes--say so much more than anything spoken. 

"I should be a sorry fellow," he said, "if I did not estimate those words 
at their full value, which to me is beyond value. I know you of old, and 
how much they mean. But, Rotha, this is not to be the rule of your 
life,--nor of mine." 

"Why not?" she asked shyly. 

"Because we are both servants of another Master, whom we love even better 
than we love each other." 

Did they? Did _she?_ Rotha leaned her head upon her hand and queried. Was 
she all right there? Or, as her heart was bounding back to the allegiance 
she had so delighted to give to Mr. Digby, might she be in danger of 
putting that allegiance first? He would not do the like. No, he would 
never make such a mistake; but she?--Mr. Southwode went on, 

"That would put life at a lower figure than I want it to be, for you or 
for myself. No, Christ first; and his service, and his honour, and his 
pleasure and his will, first. After that, then nothing dearer, and 
nothing to which we owe more, than each of us to the other." 

As she was silent, he asked gently, "What do you say to it, Rotha?" 

"Of course you are right. Only--I am afraid I have not got so far as you 
have." 

"You only began the other day. But we are settling principles. I want 
this one settled clearly and fully, so that we may regulate every 
footstep by it." 

"Every footstep?" Rotha repeated, looking up for a glance. 

"You do not understand that?" 

"No." 

"It is the rule of all my footsteps. I want it to be the rule of all 
yours. Let me ask you a question. In view of all that Christ has done for 
us, what do we owe him?" 

"Why--of course--all," said Rotha looking up. 

"What does 'all' mean? There is nothing like defining terms." 

"What can 'all' mean _but_ all?" 

"There is a general impression among many Christians that the whole does 
not include the parts." 

"Among Christians?" 

"Among many who are called so." 

"But how do you mean?" 

"Do you know there is such a thing as saying 'yes' in general, and 'no' 
in particular? What in your understanding of it, does 'all' include?" 

"Everything, of course." 

"That is my understanding of it. Then we owe to our Master all we have?" 

"Yes--" said Rotha with slight hesitation. Mr. Southwode smiled. 

"That is certainly the Bible understanding of it. 'For the love of Christ 
constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then 
were all dead; and that he died for all, that they which live should not 
henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them and 
rose again.'" 

"But how much is involved in that 'living to him'?" 

"Let us find out, if we can. Turn to Lev. xiv. and read at the 14th 
verse. These are the directions for the cleansing of a leper who has been 
healed of his leprosy." He gave her his Bible, and she read. 

"'And the priest shall take some of the blood of the trespass offering, 
and the priest shall put it upon the tip of the right ear of him that is 
to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great 
toe of his right foot. And the priest shall take some of the log of oil, 
and pour it into the palm of his own left hand, and shall sprinkle of the 
oil with his finger seven times before the Lord: and of the rest of the 
oil that is in his hand shall the priest put upon the tip of the right 
ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, 
and upon the great toe of his right foot, upon the blood of the trespass 
offering.'" 

"I do not see the meaning of that," said Rotha. 

"Yet it is very simple.--Head and hand and foot, the whole man and every 
part of him was cleansed by the blood of the sacrifice; and whereever the 
redeeming blood had touched, there the consecrating oil must touch also. 
Head and hand and foot, the whole man was anointed holy to the Lord." 

"_Upon the blood of the trespass offering_. O I see it now. And how 
beautiful that is! and plain enough." 

"Turn now to Rom. xii. 1." 

"'I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye 
present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to the Lord.'" 

"You understand?" 

"Partly; I think, only partly." 

"The priests of old offered whole rams and bullocks upon the altar as 
tokens and emblems of the entireness with which the worshipper was given 
to God; the whole offering was consumed by fire and went up to heaven in 
smoke and fume, all except the little remainder of ashes. We are to be 
_living_ sacrifices, as wholly given, but given in life, and with our  
whole living powers to be used and exist for God." 

"Yes," said Rotha. "I see it now." 

"Are you glad to see it?" 

"I think I am. It makes me catch my breath a little." 

"Why?" 

"It must be difficult to live so." 

"Not if we love Christ. Indeed if we love him much, it is impossible to 
live any other way." 

"I understand so far," Rotha said after a pause; "but I do not quite know 
what you are coming to." 

"I am coming to something serious; for I do not know whether in this 
matter you will like what I like." 

In Rotha's eyes there flashed an innocent unconscious response to this 
speech, saying plainly that she could like nothing else! It was so 
innocent and so unconscious, and withal so eloquent of the place he held 
with her, that Mr. Southwode could have smiled; did smile to himself; but 
he would not be diverted, nor let her, from the matter in hand; which, as 
he said, was serious. He wished to have it decided on its own merits too; 
and perceived there would be some difficulty about that. Rotha's nature 
was so passionately true to its ruling affection that, as he knew, that 
honest glance of her eyes had told but the simple truth. Mr. Southwode 
looked grave, even while he could willingly have returned an answer in 
kind to her eyes' sweet speech. But he kept his gravity and his composed 
manner, and went on with his work. 

"Read one more passage," he said. "1 Cor-vi. 20." 

"'Ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in 
your spirit, which are God's.' That is again just like the words in 
Leviticus," said Rotha;--"head and hand and foot redeemed, and head and 
hand and foot belonging to the Redeemer." 

"Exactly," said Mr. Southwode. "That is not difficult to recognize. The 
question is, will we stand to the bargain?" 

"Why?" 

"It costs so much, to let it stand." 

"It has not cost _you_ much," said Rotha. "I should not say, by your 
face, it has cost you anything." 

"It has cost me all I have." 

"Well, in a way--" 

"Truly," he said, meeting her eyes. "I do not count anything I have my 
own." 

"But in practice--" 

"In practice I use it all, or I try to use it all, for my Master; in such 
way as I think he likes best, and such as will best do his work and 
honour his name." 

"And you do not find that disagreeable or hard," said Rotha. "That is 
what I said." 

"Neither disagreeable nor hard. On the contrary. I am sure there is no 
way of using oneself and one's possessions that gets so much enjoyment 
out of them. No, not the thousandth part." 

"Then what do you mean by its 'costing so much'?" 

"Read 1 Cor. x. 31." 

"'Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the 
glory of God.'" Rotha read, and this time did not look up. 

"What do you think of going by that rule?" 

"You mean, for Christ's sake," said Rotha slowly. She knew she was 
willing to go by any rule for her lover's sake. "Mr. Southwode, I do not 
think I ever studied it out." 

"Shall we study it out now?" 

"O yes, please! But you must help me." 

"Let us come to particulars. What sorts of things that are bought with 
money, for instance, do you take most pleasure in?" 

Rotha looked up, curious, questioning, wondering, pondering, very honest. 

"I do not know what _most_," she said. "I take so much pleasure in 
everything. Books especially. And pictures I delight in. And--do not 
laugh at me, Mr. Digby! I always did,--I take pleasure in nice, pretty, 
comfortable, becoming, dresses and clothes generally. So do you, don't 
you?" 

It went beyond Mr. Southwode's power of gravity, the quaint frankness of 
this speech; and he laughed. Rotha joined in the laugh at herself, but 
looked seriously for the answer. 

"It is a comfort to talk to you," he said. "One can get at the point. And 
here we have it, Rotha. I think your liking of all the things specified 
is thoroughly justified and perfectly right; and as you suggest, I share 
it with you. Now comes the question. The word says 'whatsoever'; 
therefore it covers books and pictures and dresses too. Take then the 
homeliest instance. Are you willing, in buying a gown or a bonnet or 
anything else, to do it always, as well as you know how, to the glory of 
God?" 

"How can it be done so?" 

"Think. If this is your rule, you will choose such a bonnet or gown as 
you can best do your work--God's work,--in. Therefore it will not be 
chosen to give the impression that you wish to excite attention or 
admiration, or that you wish to impose by your wealth, or that dress 
occupies a large place in your thoughts; it _will_ be such as suits a 
refined taste, such as becomes you and sets off your good qualities to 
the very best advantage; and it will not cost more than is truly 
necessary for these ends, because the Lord has more important work for 
his money to do. Perhaps I rather overrate than underrate the importance 
of good dressing; it is an undoubted power; but really good dressing is 
done for Christ, as his servant and steward equips herself for his 
service; but she uses no more of the Lord's silver and gold than is 
needful, because that would be unfaithfulness in stewardship."  

"But that makes dressing a noble art!" cried Rotha. Her eyes had looked 
eagerly into the speaker's eyes, taking in his words with quick 
apprehension. 

"Carry out the principle into all other lines of action, then; and see 
what it will make the rest of life." 

"'To the glory of God.' The Bible says, eating and drinking?" 

"Yes." 

"Well how that, Mr. Southwode?" 

"And if eating and drinking, then the houses in which we assemble, and 
the tables at which we sit down." 

"Yes, but you are going a little faster than I can follow," said Rotha. 
"In the first place, it seems to me that people in general do not think 
as you do." 

"I told you so." 

"Hardly anybody." 

"Hardly anybody!" 

"Then, is it not possible--" 

"That I am straining the point? You have read the Bible testimony 
yourself; what do you think?" 

Rotha was silent. Could all the Christian world, almost all of it, be 
wrong, and only Mr. Southwode right? Was the rule indeed to be drawn so 
close? She doubted. The Bible words, to be sure,--but then, why did not 
others see them too? 

"Read Rom. xii. 1, again." 

Rotha read it, and looked up in silence. Mr. Southwode's face wore a 
slight smile. He did not look, she thought, like a man who felt the 
poorer for what he had given up. 

"Well?--" said he. 
 
"Well. I have read this often," said Rotha. "I know the words." 

"Have you obeyed them?" 

"I--do--not--know. I am afraid, not." 

"When a man has given his body a living sacrifice, has he anything left 
to give beside?" 

"Why not?" 

"Think. In that case, his hands are his Master's. They cannot do anything 
inconsistent with his use of them, or interrupting it, or hindering it. 
All they do will be, indirectly or directly, for Him." 

"Yes--" said Rotha. "But nothing for himself, then?" 

"Anything, that will fit him for service, or help him in it." 

"But for instance. I am very fond of fancy work," said Rotha. 

"Useless fancy work?" 

"I am afraid you would call it so." 

"Never mind what I call it," said Mr. Southwode, laughing a little; for 
Rotha's frankness and directness were delightful;--"I am not skilled in 
fancy work, and I speak in ignorance. What do you call it?" 

"Some of it is not of any use," Rotha said thoughtfully; "it is just a 
putting together of lovely colours. Of course, people must have mats and 
rugs and cushions and things; and it is pretty work to make them; but 
they could be bought cheaper, what would do just as well." 

"Then the question rises, in view of all these pretty things,--Is it the 
best use I can make of my time and my money?" 

Rotha's fingers drummed upon the table. 

"But one must have amusement," she said. "One cannot be always studying." 

"Quite true. The question remains, whether this is the best amusement to 
be had." 

"I give that up," said Rotha. "I see what you think." 

"Never mind what I think--for once," said he smiling. "Try the question 
on its own merits." 

"I give that up," Rotha repeated. "Except for odds and ends of chances, 
it does take a fearful amount of time, and money too. But go on, Mr. 
Digby; I am getting dreadfully interested." 

"You can go on without my help." 

"But I want it. Please go on." 

"You can transfer to eyes and ears and lips and feet what I have said 
about hands. All would be the Lord's servants. Have I anything else left 
to give, if I have once given my body a living sacrifice?" 

"No. Nothing. But why did I never see that before?" 

"What do you think of it, now you do see it?" 

"It is grand!" said the girl thoughtfully. "And beautiful. Such a life 
would be woven all of golden threads. But Mr. Southwode, it would make 
one different from everybody else in the whole world!" 

"Did not Jesus say? 'Ye are not of the world, _even as I am not of the 
world_.' And--'Therefore the world hateth you.'" 

"Yes,--" said Rotha slowly--"I see." 

"How would you furnish a house, on this principle?" Mr. Southwode went 
on. 

"A house?" Rotha repeated. 

"Yes. Suppose the old house at Southwode was to be refurnished; how 
should we do it? I would like to have everything there please you." 

"But on your principle," said Rotha, colouring beautifully, though she 
laughed, "you would not arrange it to please me at all." 

"If my principle were your principle?"--he said with a flash in his eye 
which was part pleasure and part amusement. 

"I never considered the subject," she said shyly. 

"Well let us consider it. What are the points to be principally regarded, 
in furnishing a house?" 

Rotha pondered, a good deal amused; this whole discussion was so novel to 
her. "I suppose," she said, "one ought to aim at a good appearance--
according to one's means,--and the comfort of the family that are to live 
in the house,--and prettiness,--and pleasantness." 

"And the Lord's service?" 

"I do not see how that comes in." 

"I must state another question, then. What are the uses for which the 
house is intended? what is to be done in it, or what ought to be done?" 

"People are to be made comfortable in it; they must see their friends,--
and do their work." 

"Very well. What work?" 

"I do not know. That depends, I suppose." 

"But what work is set out in the Bible for every Christian house to do?" 

"Mr. Southwode, I do not know. I do not seem to know much of what is in 
the Bible, at all!" 

"After five months of study?" said he kindly. "Well, listen. The Bible 
bids us not be forgetful to entertain strangers." 

"Strangers!" 

"That is the word." 

"And of course we are to entertain our friends?" 

"That may safely be left to people's natural affection. But our 
_entertainments_ it bids us keep for the poor and the maimed and the 
lame and the blind; for people, in short, who can make us no return in 
kind."

"Does it!" 

"Christ said so expressly." 

"I remember he did," said Rotha thoughtfully. "But then--but then, Mr. 
Southwode,--in that case, people are all abroad!" 

He was silent. 

"But are we not to have society?" 

"Undoubtedly, if we can get it." 

"Then we must entertain them." 

"According to Christ's rule." 

"But then, especially if one is rich, people will say--" 

"The question with me is, what the Master will say." 

"People will not want to come to see you, will they, on those terms?" 

"Those will who care to see _us_," said Mr. Southwode; "and I confess  
those are the only ones I care to see. The people who come merely for the 
entertainment can find that as well elsewhere." 

"One thing is certain," said Rotha. "A house could not be furnished to 
suit both those styles of guests." 

"Then the Bible bids us bring the poor that are cast out, to our houses." 

"But that you cannot! Not always," said Rotha. "They are not fit for it." 

"There is discretion to be observed, certainly. You would not invite a 
tramp into your drawing room. But I have known two instances, Rotha, in 
which a miserable and very degraded drunkard was saved to himself and to 
society, saved for time and eternity, just in that way; by being taken 
into a gentleman's house, and cared for and trusted and patiently borne 
with, until his reformation was complete. In those cases the individuals, 
it is true, had belonged to the respectable and educated classes of 
society; but at the time they were brought to the gutter." 

"That is not easy work!" said Rotha shaking her head. 

"Not when you think of Christ's 'Inasmuch'?" 

Rotha was silent a while. 

"Well!" she said at last, "I see now that the furnishing of a house has 
more meaning in it than ever I thought." 

"You see, I hope also," Mr. Southwode said gently, "that your conditions 
of comfort and prettiness and pleasantness are not excluded?" 

"I suppose not," said Rotha, thinking busily. "The house would do its 
work better, even its work among these people you have been speaking 
of,--far better, for being pretty and comfortable and pleasant. I see 
that. Refinement is not excluded, only luxury." 

"Say, only _useless_ luxury." 

"Yes, I see that," said Rotha. 

"Then the Bible bids us use hospitality without grudging. That is, 
welcoming to the shelter and comfort of our houses any who at any time 
may need it. Tired people, homeless people, ailing people, poor people. 
So the house and the table must be always ready to receive and welcome 
new guests." 

"I see it all, Mr. Digby," said Rotha, lifting her eyes to him. 

"There is no finery at Southwode--I might say, nothing fine; there are 
some things valuable. But the house seems to me to want nothing that the 
most refined taste can desire. I think you will like it." 

"I think I understand the whole scheme of life, as you put it," Rotha 
went on, shyly getting away from the personal to the abstract. "So far as 
things can be done, things enjoyed,--books and music and everything,--by 
a servant of Christ who is always doing his Master's work; so far as 
they would not hinder but help the work and him; so far you would use 
them, and there stop." 

"Does such a life look to you burdened with restrictions?" 

"They do not seem to me really restrictions," Rotha answered slowly. 
"Taking it altogether, such a life looks to me wide and generous and 
rich; and the common way poor and narrow." 

"How should it be otherwise, when the one is the Lord's way, and the 
other man's? But people who have not tried do not know that." 

"Of course not." 

"They will not understand." 

"I suppose they _cannot_." 

"And the world generally does not like what it does not understand." 

"I should think _that_ could be borne." 

"You are not afraid, then?" 

"No, indeed," said Rotha. "But I do not mean that I stand just where you 
do," she added soberly. "With my whole heart I think this is right and 
beautiful, and I am sure it is happy; and yet, you know,"--she went on 
colouring brightly, "I should like anything because you liked it; and 
that is not quite enough. But I will study the matter thoroughly now. I 
never thought of it before--not so." 

There was frankness and dignity and modesty in her words and manner, 
enough to satisfy a difficult man; and Mr. Southwode was too much 
delighted to even touch this beautiful delicacy by shewing her that he 
liked it. He answered, with the words, "It is only to follow Christ 
fully"; and then there was silence. By and by however he began to allow 
himself some expression of his feelings in certain caresses to the 
fingers he still held clasped in his own. 

"That you should be doing that to my hand!" said Rotha. "Mr. Southwode, 
what an extraordinary story it all is!" 

"What do you mean?" 

"Just think--just think. All this, the whole of it, has really come from 
my mother's shewing to a stranger precisely one of those bits of 
hospitality you have been speaking about. I wonder if she knows now? You 
remember how the words run,--'Full measure, pressed down, heaped up and 
running over, shall they give----'"

Rotha's eyes filled full, full; she was near losing her self-command. 

"Do you forget there are two sides to it?" said Mr. Southwode, taking her 
in his arms very tenderly. 

"It has all been on one side!" cried Rotha. 

"Do you make nothing of my part?" 

"Nothing at all!" said Rotha between crying and laughing. "You have 
given--given--given,--as you like to do; you have done nothing but give!" 

"It is your turn now--" said he laughing. 

Rotha was silent, thinking a great deal more than she chose to put into 
words. 


CHAPTER XXXII. 


END OF SCHOOL TERM. 


That same evening, just when Mrs. Mowbray was set free from a lesson 
hour, and the library was left to her sole occupation, a gentleman and 
lady were announced. The next minute Rotha was in her arms. Whatever she 
felt, the girl's demeanour was very quiet; her reception, on the other 
hand, was little short of ecstatic. Then Mrs. Mowbray gave a gracious, if 
somewhat distant, greeting to Rotha's companion; and then looked, with an 
air of mystified expectancy, to see what was coming next. 

"I have brought Miss Carpenter back to you, Mrs. Mowbray," Mr. Southwode 
began. 

"Where did you find her?" 

"I found her at Tanfield." 

"Tanfield!"--Mrs. Mowbray looked more and more puzzled. 

"And now, I am going to ask you to take care of her, till next June." 

"Till next June--" Mrs. Mowbray repeated. 

"The school year ends then, does it not?" 

"May I ask, what is to be done with her after next June?"  

"I will take her into my own care." 

"What does Mrs. Busby say to that?" Mrs. Mowbray inquired, still doubtful 
and mystified. 

"She says nothing," said Rotha. "She has nothing to say. She never had 
any right to say what I should do, except the right Mr. Southwode gave 
her." She felt a secret triumph in the knowledge that now at least Mrs. 
Mowbray would have to accept Mr. Southwode and make the best she could of 
him. 

"Have you come from Mrs. Busby now?" 

"No, madame; Mr. Southwode brought me straight here." 

And then followed of course the story of the past five months. Rotha gave 
it as briefly as she could, slurring over as much as possible her aunt's 
action and motives, and giving a bare skeleton of the facts. Mrs. 
Mowbray's mystified expression did not clear away. 

"Chicago?" she said. "I do not think Mrs. Busby has been to Chicago. My 
impression is strong, that she has been in or near New York, all summer." 

"So she was, madame." 

Mrs. Mowbray considered things with a grave face. 

"I have a request to make," Mr. Southwode began then; "a request which I 
hope Mrs. Mowbray will receive as of purely business character, and in no 
wise occasioned by curiosity. May I be informed, at a convenient time, 
what has been paid by Mrs. Busby to this house, on Miss Carpenter's 
account?" 

"Nothing," said Mrs. Mowbray. 

"No bills for schooling? or board?" 

"Nothing at all. Antoinette's bills I have rendered, and they have been 
paid. I have never presented any bill for Miss Carpenter, and none has 
ever been asked for." 

Rotha exclaimed, but Mr. Southwode went on----

"You will allow me to ask for it now." 

Mrs. Mowbray looked doubtfully at the speaker. 

"By what right could I put Mrs. Busby's obligations upon you? How could I 
account to her?" 

"Count them my obligations," he said pleasantly. "I do not wish Miss 
Carpenter to leave any debts behind her, when she goes from her own 
country to mine. I will be much obliged, if you will have the account 
made out in my name and sent to me." 

Mrs. Mowbray bowed a grave acknowledgment. "I had better speak to Mrs. 
Busby first," she said. 

"As you please about that," said Mr. Southwode rising. 

"But next June!" cried Mrs. Mowbray. "You are not going to take her away 
next June? I want her for a year longer at least. I want her for two 
years. That is one of the difficulties I have to contend with; people 
will not leave their children with me long enough to let me finish what I 
have begun. It would be much better for Rotha to stay with me another 
year. Don't you think so?" 

"I am afraid a discussion on that point would not turn out in your 
favour, madame," he said. "Miss Carpenter is able to represent my part in 
it; I will leave it to her." 

And he took leave. But when it came to Rotha's turn, he sealed all his 
pretensions by quietly kissing her; it was done deliberately, not in a 
hurry; and Rotha knew it was on purpose and done rather for her sake than 
his own. And when he was gone, she stood still by the table, flushed and 
proud, feeling that she was claimed and owned now before all the world. 
There ensued a little silence, during which Mrs. Mowbray was somewhat 
uneasily arranging some disarranged books and trifles on the great 
library table; and Rotha stood still. 

"My dear," said the former at last, "am I to congratulate you?" 

"There is no occasion, madame," said Rotha. 

"What then did Mr. Southwode mean?" said Mrs. Mowbray, stopping her work 
and looking up much displeased. 

"O yes,--I beg your pardon,--if you mean _that_," said Rotha, while the 
blood mounted into her cheeks again. 

"Are you going to marry Mr. Southwode?" 

"He says so, madame." 

"But what do _you_ say?" 

"I always say the same that Mr. Southwode says," Rotha replied demurely, 
while at the same time she was conscious of having to bite in an 
inclination to laugh. 

"My dear, let us understand one another. When I saw him two or three days 
ago, he did not even know where you were." 

"No, ma'am. He found me." 

"Have you had any communication with him during these years of his 
absence?" 

"No, madame." 

"Did you know, when Mr. Southwode went away, three years ago, that he had 
any such purpose, or wish?" 

"He had no such purpose, or wish, I am sure." 

"Then, my dear, how has this come about?" 

"I do not know, madame." 

Rotha felt the movings within her of a little rebellion, a little 
irritation, and a great nervous inclination to laugh; nevertheless her 
manner was sobriety itself. 

"My dear, I seem to be the only one in the world to take care of you; and 
that is my excuse for being so impertinent as to ask these questions. You 
will bear with me? I _must_ take care of you, Rotha!" 

"Thank you, dear Mrs. Mowbray! There can be no questions you might not 
ask me." 

"I am a little troubled about you, my dear child. This is very sudden." 

"Yes, ma'am," said Rotha slowly,--"I suppose it is." 

"And I do not like such things to be done hurriedly." 

"No." 

"People ought to have time to know their own minds." 

"Yes." 

"My dear, is it certain that Mr. Southwode knows his?" 

"I should not like to ask him, madame," said Rotha, while the corners of 
her mouth twitched. "He is not that kind of man. And there is nobody else 
to ask him. I am afraid we shall have to let it stand." 

Mrs. Mowbray looked doubtful and ill at ease. 

"Mr. Southwode is a very rich man,--" she remarked after a minute or two. 

"What then, Mrs. Mowbray?" Rotha asked quickly. 

"And, my dear, you have only known him as a little girl," the lady went 
on, waiving the question. 

"What of _that_, madame?" 

"You can hardly be said to know him at all." 

"It is too late to speak of that now," said Rotha, laying her gloves 
together and taking off her scarf. "But I saw more as a child, than most 
people have a chance to see as grown-up people." 

"My dear, I am concerned about your welfare, in this most important step 
of your life. Have you accepted this gentleman out of gratitude?" 

"I do not think he would want me, madame, on those terms, if he thought 
so." 

"Yes, he would, perhaps," said Mrs. Mowbray. "Men make that mistake 
sometimes. But you--you must not make a mistake now, my dear!" 

As Rotha was silent, Mrs. Mowbray rose and came to her where she was 
standing by the table, and put her arms fondly round the girl. 

"You know," she said, kissing her repeatedly, "I love you, Rotha. I 
cannot let you run into danger, if I can help it; and so I put my hand 
in, perhaps unwarrantedly." 

"Never, dear Mrs. Mowbray!" said Rotha gratefully. "You cannot. You may 
say anything." 

"You are one of those people with whom impulse is strong; and such people 
often do in a minute what they are sorry for all their lives." 

"I hope that tendency has been a little sobered in me," said Rotha. 
"Perhaps not much." 

"Well, won't you give me a little comfort about this matter?" said Mrs. 
Mowbray, still holding her close and looking at her. "What are you going 
to marry this man--this gentleman--for?" 

But to answer this question, to any but one person, was foreign to all 
Rotha's nature. She could not do it. The blood flashed to cheek and brow, 
making its own report; all that Rotha said, was, 

"He wishes it, madame." 

"And are you to do everything that Mr. Southwode wishes?" 

Rotha said nothing, yet this time Mrs. Mowbray got an answer. There was a 
little unconscious flash of the girl's eye, as for half a second it 
looked up, which swift as it was, told the whole story. Mrs. Mowbray knew 
enough of human nature and of the human countenance, to read all she 
wanted to know in that look. All as far as Rotha was concerned, that is. 
And that was the principal thing; Mr. Southwode ought to know his own 
mind, and was at any rate at his own risk; and furthermore it was not 
Mrs. Mowbray's business to take care of him. And as regarded Rotha, she 
now saw, there was nothing to be done. 

"Then I must lose you!" she said with a sigh and kissing Rotha again. "My 
dear, I want nothing but your happiness; but I believe I am a little 
jealous of Mr. Southwode, that he has got you so easily." 

Easily! Well, Rotha could not explain that, nor discuss the whole matter 
at all with Mrs. Mowbray. She went up to her room, feeling glad this talk 
was over. 

And then things fell immediately into school train. And of all in the 
house, there was no such diligent worker as Rotha during the months of 
that school term. She was not only diligent. Mrs. Mowbray greatly admired 
the quiet dignity and the delicate gravity of her manner. She was grave 
with a wonderful sweet gravity, compounded of a happy consciousness of 
what had been given her, and a very deep sense of what was demanded of 
her. Her happiness, or rather the cause of it, for those months remained 
secret. Nobody in the house, excepting Mrs. Mowbray, knew anything about 
it; and if anybody surmised, there was nothing in Rotha's quiet, reserved 
demeanour to embolden any one to put questions. All that Antoinette and 
Mrs. Busby knew was, that Mr. Southwode had found Rotha and brought her 
back. "Like his impudence!" Antoinette had said; but Mrs. Busby 
compressed her lips and said nothing. Both of them kept aloof. 

Mr. Southwode himself was little seen by Rotha during those months. He 
came sometimes, as a guardian might; and there did arise in the house a 
subdued murmur of comment upon Rotha's very distinguished-looking 
visiter. Once or twice he took her out for a drive; however, he during 
that winter played the part of guardian, not of lover, before the eyes of 
the world; as he had said he would. When spring came, Mr. Digby went 
home, and was gone three months; not returning till just before the 
school term closed. 

The story is really done; but just because one gets fond of people one 
has been living with so long, we may take another look or two at them. 

School was over, and the girls were gone, and the teachers were 
scattered; the house seemed empty. Mrs. Mowbray found Rotha one day 
gathering her books together and trifles out of her desk. She stood and 
looked at her, lovingly and longingly. 

"And now your school days are ended!" she said, with a mixed expression 
which spoke not only of regret but had a slight touch of reproach in it. 

"O no indeed!" said Rotha. "Mr. Southwode used always to be teaching me 
something, and I suppose he always will." 

"I wish I could have you two years more! I grudge you to anybody else for 
those two years. But I suppose it is of no use for me to talk." 

Rotha went off smiling. It was no use indeed! And Mrs. Mowbray turned 
away with a sigh. 

Down stairs, a few hours later, Mr. Southwode was sitting in the little 
end room back of the library--Mrs. Mowbray's special sanctuary. He was 
trying to see what was the matter with a cuckoo clock which would not 
strike. The rooms were all in summer order; sweet with the fragrance of 
India matting, which covered the floors; cool and quiet in the strange 
stillness of the vacation time. Mrs. Mowbray was a wonderful housekeeper; 
everything in her house was kept in blameless condition of purity; the 
place was as fresh and sweet as any place in a large city in the month of 
July could be. It was July, and warm weather, and the summer breeze blew 
in at the windows near which Mr. Southwode was sitting, with a fitful, 
faint freshness, pushing in the muslin curtains which were half open. 
There was the cool light which came through green India jalousies, but 
there was light enough; and everywhere the eye could look there was 
incentive to thought or suggestion for conversation, in works of arts, 
bits of travel, reminiscences of distant friends, and tributes from 
foreign realms of the earth. Books behind him, books before him, books on 
the table, books on the floor, books in the corners, and books in a great 
revolving bookstand. There was a dainty rug before the fireplace; there 
were dainty easy chairs large and small; there was a lovely India screen 
before the grate; and there was not much room left for anything else when 
all these things were accommodated. Mr. Southwode however was in one of 
the chairs, and a cuckoo clock, as I said, on his knees, with which he 
was busy. 

Then came a light step over the matting of the library, and Rotha entered 
the sanctuary. She came up behind his chair and laid her two hands on his 
shoulder, bending down so as to speak to him more confidentially. There 
came to Mr. Southwode a quick recollection of the first time Rotha had 
ever laid her hand on his shoulder, when her mother was just dead; and 
how in her forlorn distress the girl had laid her head down too. He 
remembered the feeling of her thick locks of wavy hair brushing his 
cheek. Now the full locks of dark hair were bound up, yet not tightly; it 
was a soft, natural, graceful style, which indeed was the character of 
all Rotha's dressing; she had independence enough not to be unbecomingly 
bound by fashion. Mr. Southwode knew exactly what was hanging over his 
shoulder, though he did not look up. I may say, he saw it as well as if 
he had. 

"I do not know how to speak to you," Rotha began abruptly. "You do not 
like me to call you 'Mr. Southwode.'" 

"No." 

"But I do not think I know your Christian name." 

"My name is Digby." 

"That is your surname--your half surname, I thought." 

"Yes, but I was christened Digby. That is my name. I took the surname 
Digby afterwards in compliance with the terms of a will, and legally my 
name is Digby Digby; but I am of course by birth Southwode." 

"Then if I called you 'Digby,' it would sound as if I were simply 
dropping the 'Mr.' and calling you by your surname; and that is very 
ugly. It does not sound respectful." 

"Drop the respect." 

"But I cannot!" cried Rotha, laughing a little. "I have heard women speak 
so, and it always seemed to me very ungraceful. Fancy aunt Serena saying 
'Busby' to her husband! She always says so carefully 'Mr. Busby'--" 

"She is a woman of too much good taste to do otherwise." 

"She _has_ a good deal," said Rotha, "in many ways. Then what will you 
think of me, if _I_ do 'otherwise'?" 

"You are not logical this afternoon," said Mr. Southwode laughing. "Am I 
an equivalent for Mr. Busby, in your imagination?" 

"Will you make that clock go?" 

"I think so." 

There was a little pause. Rotha did not change her position, and Mr. 
Southwode went on with his clock work. 

"What shall I do about aunt Serena?" Rotha then began again, in a low 
voice. 

"In what respect?" 

"Must I ask her to come here?--Monday, I mean?" 

"Do you wish to have her come?" 

"Oh no, indeed!" 

"Then I do not see the 'must.'" 

"But they are dying to come." 

"Have they asked? If so, there is no more to be said." 

"O they have not asked in so many words. But they have done everything 
_but_ ask. Aunt Serena even proposed that I should come there--just  
fancy it!" 

"And be married from her house?" 

"Yes." 

"I am glad it did not occur to you to agree to the proposal." 

"Agree!--But what ought I to do?" 

"State the arguments, for and against." 

"Well!--I cannot help feeling that it would not be pleasant to have 
them." 

"That is my feeling." 

"But then, one ought to forgive people?" 

"Forgiveness is one thing, and reinstating in forfeited privileges is 
another. I have forgiven Mrs. Busby, I hope; but only her repentance 
could restore her to my respect. I have seen no sign of repentance." 

"That involves, and means, punishment." 

"Involuntary--and unavoidable." 

"I am sorry for aunt Serena!" 

"So am I," said Mr. Southwode laughing; "but I do not see why, to save 
her from being punished, I should punish myself." 

Through the rooms behind them now came another step, and Mrs. Mowbray 
presently entered the little room, which was full when the three were in 
it. She was in a white summer robe, her hair in its simple coil at the 
back of her head shewing the small head and its fine setting to great 
advantage. Nothing more elegant, more sweet, more gracious can be 
imagined, than her whole presence. It was not school time; duty was not 
laying a heavy hand of pressure upon her heart and brain; there was the 
loveliest expression of rest, and good will, and sparkling sympathy, and 
ready service, in her whole face and manner. She sat down, and for a 
while the talk flowed on in general channels, full of interest and 
vitality however; Mrs. Mowbray had learned to know Mr. Southwode by this 
time, and had thoroughly accepted him; in fact I think she liked him 
almost as well as she liked Rotha. The talk went on mainly between those 
two. Rotha herself was silent when she could be so. She was grave and 
soft, full of a very fair dignity; evidently her approaching marriage was 
a somewhat awful thing to her; and though her manner was simple and frank 
as a child in her intercourse with Mr. Southwode, yet after the fashion 
of her excitable nature the sensitive blood in her cheeks answered every 
allusion to Monday, or even the mention of her bridegroom's name when he 
was not by, or the sound of his step when he came. Mrs. Mowbray was 
delighted with her; nothing could be more sweet than this delicate 
consciousness which was grave and thoughtful without ever descending to 
shyness or hardening to reserve. As for Mr. Southwode, he saw little of 
it, Rotha was so exactly herself when she was with him; yet now as the 
talk went on between him and Mrs. Mowbray his eye wandered continually to 
the eyes which were so downcast, and the quiet withdrawn figure which 
held itself a little more back than usual. 

"And what are your movements?" inquired Mrs. Mowbray at length. "Do you 
go straight home?" 

"I think we shall take a roundabout way through Switzerland and Germany, 
and stay there awhile first." 

"You are carrying away from me my dearest pupil," said Mrs. Mowbray. "She 
has never been anything but a blessing in my house, ever since she came 
into it. If she is as good to you as she has been to me, you will have 
nothing left to ask for. But I grudge her to you!" 

"I find that very pardonable," said Mr. Southwode with a smile. 

"I was dreadfully set against you at first," Mrs. Mowbray went on, with a 
manner between seriousness and archness. "I tried hard to make out to my 
satisfaction that Rotha had accepted you only out of gratitude--in which 
case I should have made fight; but I found I had no ground to stand on." 

Here Rotha made a diversion. She came, as Mrs. Mowbray finished her 
speech, and kneeled down on a cushion at her feet, laying one hand in her 
friend's hand. 

"Mrs. Mowbray--_this_ vacation we shall not be there but next summer, if 
all's well, you will come and spend the whole time at Southwode?" 

"Ah, my dear," said Mrs. Mowbray, "I never know a year beforehand what 
will become of me!" 

"But I said, if all's well?" 

"What Rotha petitions for, I petition for also, Mrs. Mowbray," Mr. 
Southwode added; "and this time with double urgency, for I ask on her 
account and on mine too." 

"You will come," said Rotha. "And," she went on, laying her other hand on 
Mrs. Mowbray's shoulder,--"And some day, you know, you will give up 
schooling; and then--then--Mr. Southwode says, you must come and live the 
rest of your days with us. He says the house is big enough, and you shall 
have a separate establishment to yourself, if you like." 

Mrs. Mowbray looked silently at the eager face so near her, and her eyes 
gathered a little moisture, a tendency which probably she repelled. 

"I expect to die in harness,"--she said, while the two pair of eyes 
looked steadily into one another. 

"In one way--but not in school harness! Don't say anything about it; but 
when you stop work--this work--your home is there." 

The beautiful lips trembled a little, but Mrs. Mowbray would not give 
way. 

"That would be a delightful dream!" she said. "Thank you, my dear. When I 
am tired out with people and things, I will think of this and be 
refreshed. Now will you bring Mr. Southwode in to tea?" 

She rose and swept on before them, leading the way. Her self-command had 
been successful. Rotha was less in training, and several tears dropped 
from her eyes as she followed through the library. She was a little 
disappointed, and the girl's heart was full. Her eager affection had not 
got the answer it wanted. Rotha did not mistake her friend's manner; she 
did not think Mrs. Mowbray was without feeling because she would not shew 
feeling; nor that her appeal had not met a response due and full, because 
the response was not given in words. She knew that probably Mrs. Mowbray 
could not trust herself to put it in words. Nevertheless, she felt a 
little thrown back and disappointed, and "Monday" was near; and I suppose 
she felt what any girl feels at such a time, the want of a mother. Rotha 
had nobody but Mrs. Mowbray, and she was parting from her. Two or three 
tears fell before she could prevent it. And then Mr. Southwode, who had 
been watching her, and could read her feelings pretty well, stretched out 
his hand, took one of hers and drew it through his arm. It was a little 
thing, but done, as some people can do things, in a way that quite took 
it out of the category. There was in it, somehow, an assurance of mutual 
confidence, of understanding, and sympathy, and great tenderness. He had 
not looked at her, nor spoken, but Rotha's step grew lighter immediately; 
and in quiet content she followed Mrs. Mowbray up stairs and down and 
along passages and through one room after another. The tea table was not 
set in the great dining rooms; they too were sweet with fresh matting, 
and lay in summer coolness and emptiness, giving a long dusky vista 
towards the front windows, where the blinds shaded the light and muslin 
curtains shielded from the dust of the streets. But in the smaller end 
room at the back the great windows were open, and the sea breeze came in 
fitfully, and the colours of the evening sky were discernible, and there 
the table was prepared. What a table! Mrs. Mowbray had gathered all sorts 
of delicacies together; cold birds, and fruit, and dainty India 
sweetmeats, and rich cheese of best English make, and a cold ham; 
together with some very delicate warm tea cakes, which I am afraid Mr. 
Southwode, being an Englishman, did not appreciate properly. 

"Do not think this is our usual and ordinary tea!" Rotha said laughing. 
"All this extreme luxury is on your account." 

"Rotha and I dine early, these summer days," said Mrs. Mowbray; "and I 
did not wish to starve you when I asked you to stay to tea. This is not 
dinner, nor any meal that deserves a name--but perhaps you will kindly 
put up with it, in place of dinner." 

"Dinner!" said Mr. Southwode. "This looks festive!" 

"O we are always festive in vacation time," said Rotha joyously. "In 
other houses people call in numbers to help them make merry; here we are 
merry when the people go!" 

They were softly merry round that board. Rotha had got back her gayety, 
and Mrs. Mowbray was the most charming of hostesses. No one could take 
such care of her guests; no one could make the time pass so pleasantly; 
no one had such store of things to tell or to talk of, that were worth 
the while, and that at the same time were not within the reach of most 
people; no one had a more beautiful skill to give the conversation a turn 
that might do somebody good, without in the least allowing it to droop in 
interest. To-day there was no occasion for this particular blessed 
faculty to be called into exercise; she could let the talk run as it 
would; and it ran delightfully. In general society Mr. Southwode was very 
apt to play a rather quiet part; keeping the ball going indeed, but doing 
it rather by apt suggestion and incentive applied to other people; this 
evening he came out and talked, as Rotha was accustomed to hear him; 
seconding Mrs. Mowbray fully, and making, which I suppose was partly his 
purpose, an engrossing entertainment for Rotha. 

Following a little pause which occurred in the conversation, Mrs. Mowbray 
broke out,--

"What are you going to do about Mrs. Busby?" 

The question was really addressed to Rotha; but as Rotha did not 
immediately answer, Mr. Southwode took it up, and asked "in what 
respect?" 

"Is she to be invited?" 

"I was just talking to Mr. Southwode about it," said Rotha. "Why should 
she be invited? It would be no pleasure to any one." 

"It would be a pleasure to her." 

"I do not think it, Mrs. Mowbray! O yes, she would like to come; but 
_pleasure_--it would be pleasure to nobody. I know she wants to come." 

"Well, my dear, and she is your mother's sister. Always keep well with 
your relations. Blood is thicker than water." 

"I do not think so!" cried Rotha. "I do not feel it so. If she were not 
my mother's sister, I would not care; she would be nothing to me, one way 
or another; it is _because_ she is my mother's sister that she is so 
exceedingly disagreeable. If people who are your relations are 
disagreeable, it is infinitely worse than if they were not relations. It 
is the relationship that puts them at such an unapproachable distance. 
You are near to me, Mrs. Mowbray, and my aunt Serena is a thousand miles 
away." 

"It is best the world should not know that, my dear. Do you not agree 
with me, Mr. Southwode?" 

"Better still, that there should be nothing to know," he answered 
somewhat evasively. 

"Yes!" said Rotha; "and if I could have been good and gentle and sweet 
when I first went to her, things might have been different; but I was 
not. I suppose I was provoking." 

"Cannot you make up the breach now?" 

"I have not the wish, Mrs. Mowbray. I see no change in aunt Serena; and 
unless she could change, I can only wish she were not my mother's sister. 
I have forgiven her; O I have forgiven her!--but love and kinship are 
another thing." 

"My dear, it would not hurt you, much, to let her come. I know she would 
feel it a gratification." 

"I know that well enough." 

"Always gratify people when you can innocently." 

"How far?" said Rotha, laughing now in the midst of a little vexation. "I 
know they are just aching for an invitation to Southwode. There has been 
enough said to let me see that." 

"That must be as your husband pleases." 

"_That_ must be as my wife pleases," said Mr. Southwode with a smile. 

Poor Rotha passed both hands hastily over her face, as if she would wipe 
away the heat and the colour; then letting them fall, turned her face 
full to the last speaker. 

"Mr. Southwode, you do not want to see them there!" 

"Miss Rotha, I do not. But--if you do, I do." 

"That throws all the responsibility upon me." 

"My dear," said Mrs. Mowbray, "that is what men always like to do--get 
rid of responsibility--if they can find somebody else to put it on." 

"Ever since Adam's day--" Mr. Southwode added. 

"Is there any possible reason why aunt Serena, and Mr. Busby and 
Antoinette, should be asked to come to Southwode? If there is any  
_reason_ for it, I have no more to say; but I do not see the reason." 

"She is your mother's sister--" Mrs. Mowbray repeated. 

"And that fact it is, which puts her so far from me. Just that fact." 

"Maybe it will do her good," suggested Mrs. Mowbray. 

Rotha laughed a short, impatient laugh. "How should it?" she asked. 

"You never can tell how. My dear, it is not good to have breaches in 
families. Always heal them up, if you can." 

Rotha turned in despair to Mr. Southwode. 

"Mrs. Mowbray is right, in principle," he said. "I entirely agree with 
her. The only question is, whether a breach which remains a breach by the 
will of the offending party alone, ought to be covered over and condoned 
by the action of the injured party." 

"You must forgive,--" said Mrs. Mowbray. 

"Yes; and forgiveness implies a readiness to have the breach bridged over 
and forgotten. I think it does not command or advise that the offender be 
treated as if he had repented, so long as he does not repent." 

"I have no doubt Mrs. Busby repents," said Mrs. Mowbray. 

"I have no doubt she is sorry." 

"I know she is," said Rotha; "but she would do it again to-morrow." 

"What has she done, after all? My dear, human nature is weak." 

"I know it is," said Rotha eagerly; "and if I thought it would do her the 
least bit of good, as far as I am concerned, I would be quite willing to 
ask her to Southwode. I do not at all wish to give her what I think she 
deserves." 

"I am afraid I do," said Mr. Southwode; "and that is a disposition not to 
be indulged. Let us give her the chance of possible good, and ask her, 
Rotha." 

"Then I must ask her here Monday." 

"I suppose I can stand that." 

There was a little pause. 

"Well," said Rotha, "if you think it is better, I do not care. It will be 
a punishment to her,--but perhaps it would be a worse punishment to stay 
away." 

"Now," said Mrs. Mowbray, "there is another thing. Don't you think Rotha 
ought to wear a veil?" 

Mrs. Mowbray was getting mischievous. Her sweet blue eyes looked up at 
Mr. Southwode with a sparkle in them. 

"Why should I wear a veil?" said Rotha. 

"It is the custom." 

"But I do not care in the least for custom. It's a nonsensical custom, 
too." 

"Brides are supposed to want a shield between them and the world," Mrs. 
Mowbray went on. She loved to tease, yet she never teased Rotha; one 
reason for which, no doubt, was that Rotha never could be teased. She 
could laugh at the fun of a suggestion, without at all making it a 
personal matter. But now her cheeks shewed her not quite unconcerned. 

"The world will not be here," she replied. "I understand, in a great 
crowd it might be pleasant, and as part of a pageant it is pretty; but 
here there will be no crowd and no pageant; and I do not see why there 
should be a veil." 

"It is becoming--" suggested Mrs. Mowbray. 

"But one cannot continue to wear a veil; and why should one try to look 
preternaturally well just for five minutes?" 

"They are five minutes to be remembered," said Mrs. Mowbray, while both 
Rotha's hearers were amused. 

"I would rather they should be remembered to my advantage than to my 
disadvantage," the latter persisted. "It would be pitiful, to set up a 
standard which in all my life after I never could reach again." 

"It is a very old institution"--Mrs. Mowbray went on, while the mischief 
in her eyes increased and her lips began to wreathe in lines of loveliest 
archness; Rotha's cheeks the while growing more and more high-coloured. 
"Rebecca, you know, when she saw her husband from a distance, got down 
respectfully from her camel and put on her veil." 

"That was after her marriage," said Rotha. "That was not at the wedding 
ceremony." 

"I fancy there was nothing that we could call a wedding ceremony," Mr. 
Southwode remarked. "Perhaps we may say she was married by proxy, when 
her family sent her away with blessings and good wishes. Her putting on 
her veil at the sight of Isaac shewed that she recognized him for her 
husband." 

"Yes," said Mrs. Mowbray; "it was the old sign of the woman's being under 
subjection." 

"And under protection--" added Mr. Southwode. 

"But it does not mean anything _now_," Rotha said quickly. Mrs. Mowbray 
laughed, and Mr. Southwode could not prevent a smile, at the naive energy 
of her utterance. 

"You need not think I am afraid of it," Rotha said, facing them bravely. 
"When I was only a little girl, and very wayward, I never wanted to do 
anything that would displease Mr. Digby. It is not likely I should begin 
now." 

"My dear," said Mrs. Mowbray, with every feature in a quiver of 
mischief,--"do you think you have given over being wayward?" And Rotha's 
earnest gravity broke into laughter. 

"I think after all," said Mr. Southwode demurely, "all that old meekness 
was because in your conscience you thought I was right." 

"N--o," said Rotha slowly, looking at him,--"I do not think it was." 

"And you would fight me now, if I tried to make you do something you 
thought was wrong." 

"Would I?" Rotha said. But her eyes' swift glance said more, which he 
alone got the benefit of; an innocent glance of such trust and love and 
such utter scorn of the suggested possibility, that Mr. Southwode did not 
for a minute or two know very well what he or anybody else was doing. 

"We have wandered away from the question," said Mrs. Mowbray. 

"What is the question?" he asked. 

"Why, the veil! I believe in the value of symbols, for keeping up the 
ideas of the things symbolized. Don't you?" 

"Unquestionably." 

"Well--don't you propose, Mr. Southwode, to maintain the Biblical idea of 
subjection in your family?" 

"As well without the veil as with it." 

"I see!" said Mrs. Mowbray. "I shall have to succumb; and Rotha will have 
her own way. But I did want to see her in a veil. We have had a great 
deal of trouble over that dress, Rotha and I!" 

To Rotha's relief however, Mr. Southwode did not ask why or how, but let 
the conversation drift on to other subjects. 

As they were returning through the long course of rooms and passages to 
the library, Mrs. Mowbray as before leading the way; in one of the lower 
rooms, dimly lighted, Rotha's steps lingered. She came close to her 
companion's side and spoke in a lowered tone, timidly. 

"Digby--will _you_ ask aunt Serena to come to Southwode?" 

"No, my darling," said he, drawing her up to him;--"I will not." 

"Then--I?" 

"You, and no other. And without my name coming in at all." 

"It will not hold for half as much." 

"It must. You are the mistress of the house. And besides,--it may be very 
well that you, who have been injured, should shew your forgiveness; but I 
am under no such necessity." 

"You, who have not been injured, do _not_ forgive her?" said Rotha, 
laughing a little. 

"Yes, I forgive her; but I do not propose to reward her." 

"You like me to do it?" 

"I like you to do it." 

They stood still a moment. 

"Digby," said Rotha again, with a breath of anxiety, "_do_ you care how I 
am dressed Monday?" 

"Do I?--Yes." 

He had both arms round her now, and was looking down into her changing 
face. 

"You do not think it need be costly, do you? Mrs. Mowbray has a notion 
that it ought to be rich." 

"Will you let me choose it?" 

Rotha hesitated, looked down and looked up. 

"It is all yours--" she said, somewhat vaguely, but he understood her. 
"Only, remember that I am a poor girl, and it _ought_ not to be costly." 

"Mrs. Digby Southwode will not be a poor girl," he said, with caresses 
which shewed Rotha how sweet the words were to him. 

"But you know our principle," said Rotha. "I had a mind to wear just my 
travelling dress; but Mrs. Mowbray said you would not like that, and I 
must be in white." 

"I think I would like you to be in white," he said. 

_________


And everybody declared that was a pretty wedding; the prettiest, some 
said, that ever was seen. There were not many indeed to say anything 
about it; the Busbys were there, and one or two of Rotha's school 
friends, and one or two of Mrs. Mowbray's family, and two or three of the 
teachers, who thought a great deal of Rotha. These were gathered in the 
library, with the clergyman who was to officiate. Then, entering the 
library from the drawing room, came Rotha, on Mr. Southwode's arm. She 
was in white to be sure, with soft-flowing draperies; there was not a 
hard line or a harsh outline about her. The sleeves of her robe opened 
and fell away at the elbow, and the arms beneath were half covered with 
the white gloves. Or rather, one of them; for only one glove was on. The 
other was carried in the left hand which Rotha had providently left bare. 
Her young friends were a little shocked at such irregularity, and even 
Mrs. Mowbray was annoyed; but Rotha came in too quietly, calmly, 
gracefully, not to check every feeling but one of contented admiration. 
Her cheek was not pale, and her voice did not falter, and her hand did 
not tremble; nor was there apparently any feeling of self-consciousness 
whatever to trouble the beautiful dignified calm. It was the calm of 
intensity however, not of apathy; and one or two persons noticed 
afterwards that Rotha was trembling. 

When congratulations had been spoken and Rotha went to get ready for 
travelling, the little company thinned off. Her young friends went to 
help her; then Mrs. Mowbray too slipped away; then Mr. Southwode 
disappeared; and the rest collected at the front windows to see Rotha go. 
After which final satisfaction Mrs. Busby and her daughter walked home 
silently. 

"Mamma," said Antoinette when they were alone at home, "didn't you think 
Rotha would have a handsomer wedding dress? I thought she would have 
white silk at least, or satin; and she had only a white muslin!" 

"India muslin--" said Mrs. Busby rather grim. 

"Well, India muslin; and there was a little embroidered vine all round 
the bottom of it; but what's India muslin?" 

"It looks well on a good figure," said Mrs. Busby. 

"I suppose Rotha has what you would call a good figure. But no lace, 
mamma! and no veil!" 

"There was lace on her sleeves--and handsome." 

"O but nothing remarkable. And no veil, mamma?" 

"Wanted to shew her hair--" said Mrs. Busby. It had been a sour morning's 
work for the poor woman. 

"And not a flower; not a bouquet; not a bit of ornament of any kind!" 
Antoinette went on. "What is the use of being married so? And I know if  
_I_ was going to be married, I would have a better travelling bonnet.  
Just a common little straw, with a ribband round it! Ridiculous." 

"Men are very apt to like that kind of thing," said her mother. 

"Are they? Why are they. And if they are, why don't we wear them? 
Mamma!--isn't it ridiculous to see how taken up Mr. Southwode is with 
Rotha?" 

"I did not observe that he was so specially 'taken up,'" Mrs. Busby said. 

"O but he had really no eyes for anybody else; and he and I used to be 
good friends once. Of course, Mr. Southwode is never _empress?_--but I 
saw that she could not move without his knowing it; and if a chair was 
half a mile off he would put it out of her way. Mamma--I think _I_ should 
like to be married." 

"Don't be silly, Antoinette! Your turn will come." 

"Will it? But mamma, I want somebody every bit as good as Mr. Southwode." 

Silence. 

"Mamma," Antoinette began again, "did he ask you to come to Southwode?" 

"No." Short. 

"Only Rotha?" 

Mrs. Busby made no reply. Another pause. 

"Mamma, you said you could manage Mr. Southwode;--and you didn't do it!" 





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