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Title: The Coward - A Novel of Society and the Field in 1863
Author: Morford, Henry, 1823-1881
Language: English
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THE COWARD.

A Novel of Society and the Field in 1863.

by

HENRY MORFORD.

Author of "Shoulder-Straps," "The Days of Shoddy," etc.



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

Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1864, by
T. B. Peterson & Brothers,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United
States, in and for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.



                        TO
         THE PATRIOT PRINTERS OF AMERICA--
                  THE MEN WHO
            HAVE FURNISHED MORE SOLDIERS
              THAN ANY OTHER CLASS
    IN COMPARISON WITH THE WHOLE NUMBER OF THEIR CRAFT,
                       TO
        THE DEAD HEROES OF THE WAR FOR THE UNION
                      AND
      THE LIVING ARMIES THAT YET BULWARK ITS HOPE,--
                      THIS
    BLENDING OF THE FACTS AND FANCIES
                       OF
                    WAR-TIME,
                       IS
        DEDICATED BY THEIR BROTHER-CRAFTSMAN,

                                          THE AUTHOR.

_New York City, July, 1864._



PREFACE.


Some persons, taking up this work with expectations more or less elevated,
may possibly lay it down with disappointment after perusal, because it does
not discuss with sharp personalities, as the title may have led them to
suppose, the conduct of some of those well-known men connected with the
Union Army, who have disgracefully faltered on the field. But the truth is
that the Union Army has mustered very few cowards--so few, that a
distinguished artist, not long ago called on to draw an ideal head of one
of that class, said: "Really it is so long since I have seen a coward, that
I scarcely know how to go about it!" The aim of the writer, eschewing all
such tempting personalities, and quite as carefully avoiding all dry
didactic discussion of the theme of courage and its opposite,--has
principally been to illustrate the tendency of many men to misunderstand
their own characters in certain particulars, and the inevitable consequence
of their being misunderstood by the world, in one direction or the other.
No apology is felt to be necessary for the length at which the scenery of
the White Mountains, their actualities of interest and possibilities of
danger, have been introduced into the narration; nor is it believed that
the chain of connection with the great contest will be found the weaker
because the glimpses given of it are somewhat more brief than in preceding
publications of the same series. In those portions the writer has again
occasion to acknowledge the assistance of the same capable hand which
supplied much of the war data for both of his previous volumes.

                                       NEW YORK CITY, _July 1st, 1864._



CONTENTS.


CHAPTER I.

    A June Morning of Eighteen Hundred and Sixty-three--Glimpses
    of West Philadelphia--The Days before Gettysburgh--The Two on
    the Piazza--Margaret Hayley and Elsie Brand--An Embrace and a
    Difference--Foreshadowings of Carlton Brand, Brother and
    Lover                                                                29

CHAPTER II.

    The Coming of Carlton Brand--Almost a Paladin of
    Balaclava--Brother and Sister--A Spasm of Shame--The
    Confession--The Coward--How Margaret Hayley heard Many Words
    not intended for her--The Rupture and the Separation                 45

CHAPTER III.

    Kitty Hood and her School-house--Dick Compton going
    Soldiering--A Lover's Quarrel, a bit of Jealousy, and a
    Threat--How Dick Compton met his supposed Rival--An
    Encounter, Sudden Death, and Kitty Hood's terrible Discovery         61

CHAPTER IV.

    The Residence of the Brands--Robert Brand and Dr.
    Pomeroy--Radical and Copperhead--A passage-at-arms that ended
    in a Quarrel--Elspeth Graeme the Housekeeper--The Shadow of
    Shame--Father and Daughter--The falling of a parent's Curse          81

CHAPTER V.

    The Birth and Blood of the Brands--Pride that came down from
    the Crusades--Robert Brand as Soldier and Pension-Agent--How
    Elsie raved, and how the Father's Curse seemed to be
    answered--Dr. James Holton, and the loss of a Corpus Delicti         99

CHAPTER VI.

    The Residence of Dr. Pomeroy--Nathan Bladesden and Eleanor
    Hill--A kneeling Woman and a rigid Quaker--The ruin that a
    Letter had wrought--A Parting that seemed eternal--Carlton
    Brand alive once more, and a Glance at the fatal Letter             120

CHAPTER VII.

    A return to 1856--Nicholas Hill, Iron-merchant--His Death,
    his Daughter, and his Friend--How Dr. Pomeroy became a
    Guardian and how he Discharged that duty--A ruin and an
    awakening--The market value of Dunderhaven Stock in 1858            137

CHAPTER VIII.

    What followed the revelation of Betrayal--A gleam of Hope for
    Eleanor Hill--A relative from California, a projected Voyage,
    and a Disappointment--One more Letter--The broken thread
    resumed--Carlton Brand's farewell, and an Elopement                 164

CHAPTER IX.

    Dr. Pomeroy's purposed Pursuit--A plain Quaker who used very
    plain Language--Almost a Fight--How Mrs. Burton Hayley
    consoled her Daughter, and how Margaret revealed the Past--A
    Compact--Dr. Pomeroy's Canine Adventure--Old Elspeth once
    more--A Search that found Nothing.                                  174

CHAPTER X.

    Before and after Gettysburgh--The Apathy and Despair which
    preceded, and the Jubilation which followed--What Kitty Hood
    said after the Battle, and what Robert Brand--Brother and
    Sister--A guest at the Fifth Avenue Hotel--A fire-room Visit,
    an Interview, and a Departure for Europe                            200

CHAPTER XI.

    Anomalies of the War for the Union--The Watering-place rush
    of 1863--A White Mountain party disembarking at
    Littleton--Who filled the Concord coach--The
    Vanderlyns--Shoddy on its travels--Mr. Brooks Cunninghame and
    his Family--"H. T." and an Excitement                               219

CHAPTER XII.

    Landing at the Profile House--Halstead Rowan and
    Gymnastics--How that person saw Clara Vanderlyn and became a
    Rival of "H. T."--The Full Moon in the Notch--Trodden Toes, a
    Name, a Voice, and a Rencontre--Margaret Hayley and Capt.
    Hector Coles--The Old Man of the Mountain by Moonlight, and a
    Mystery                                                             237

CHAPTER XIII.

    Miss Clara Vanderlyn and her Pet Bears--A misadventure and a
    Friendly Hand in time--The question of Courage--Halstead
    Rowan and Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame on Geography--The Dead
    Washington, the Flume and the Pool--With the personal
    relations weaving at that juncture.                                 255

CHAPTER XIV.

    A disaster to Master Brooks Brooks Cunninghame--Exit into the
    bottom of the Pool--Nobody that could swim, and Margaret
    Hayley in Excitement--"H. T." in his element, in two
    senses--Another Introduction and a new Hero--Scenes in the
    Profile parlor--Rowan and Clara Vanderlyn--The Insult               279

CHAPTER XV.

    How Halstead Rowan arranged that expected Duel--Ten-pins
    versus bloodshed--Some anxiety about identity--The "H. T."
    initials, again--A farewell to the Brooks Cunninghames--An
    hour on Echo Lake, with a Rhapsody and a strangely-interested
    Listener                                                            298

CHAPTER XVI.

    Cloud and Storm at the Profile--Sights and Sensations of a
    rainy-day ride to the Crawford--Horace Townsend and Halstead
    Rowan once more together--Unexpected Arrivals--A cavalcade of
    Miserables--An ascent of Mount Washington, with Equestrianism
    and War-whoops extraordinary                                        323

CHAPTER XVII.

    Horace Townsend with a Lady in charge--An adventure over the
    "Gulf of Mexico"--Clara Vanderlyn in deadly peril--A moment
    of horror--Halstead Rowan and a display of the Comanche
    riding--Townsend's eclipse--The return to the
    Crawford--Margaret Hayley again, and a Conversation overheard       348

CHAPTER XVIII.

    Horace Townsend and Margaret Hayley--A strange Rencontre in
    the Parlor--Another Rencontre, equally strange but less
    pleasant--How Clara Vanderlyn faded away from the
    Mountains--And how the Comanche Rider "played baby" and
    disappeared                                                         370

CHAPTER XIX.

    A strange Character at breakfast--"The Rambler," and his
    Antecedents--What Horace Townsend heard about Fate--Going up
    to Pic-nic on Mount Willard--The Plateau, the Rope and the
    Swing--Spreading the Banquet--The dinner-call and a cry which
    answered it--A fearful situation.                                   392

CHAPTER XX.

    Suspense in danger, in two Senses--Horace Townsend with a
    Swing-rope--An invitation to Captain Hector Coles--A fearful
    piece of Amateur Gymnastics--Going down into the
    Schute--Success or Failure?--The event, and Margaret Hayley's
    madness--Two unfortunate Declarations                               410

CHAPTER XXI.

    The bearer of a Disgraced Name in England--A strange Quest
    and a strange Unrest--Hurrying over to Ireland--Too late for
    the Packet--The little Despatch-steamer--Henry Fitzmaurice,
    the journalist--The peril of the Emerald, and the end of all
    Quests save one                                                     432

CHAPTER XXII.

    Pleasanton's advance on Culpeper--Crossing the
    Rappahannock--The fight and the calamity of Rawson's
    Cross-Roads--Taking of Culpeper--Pleasanton's Volunteer
    Aide--Townsend versus Coles--The meeting of Two who loved
    each other--And the Little Ride they took together                  452

CHAPTER XXIII.

    Once more at West Philadelphia--September and Change--Last
    glimpses of Kitty Hood and Dick Compton--Robert Brand and his
    invited Guest--The news of Death--Old Elspeth Graeme as a
    Seeress--The dispatch from Alexandria--The Quest of Brand and
    Margaret Hayley                                                     478

CHAPTER XXIV.

    In the Hospital at Alexandria--The wounded Man and his
    Nurse--Who was Horace Townsend?--A Mystery explained--How
    Eleanor Hill went back to Dr. Pomeroy's--One word more of the
    Comanche Rider--Conclusion                                          490



THE COWARD.



CHAPTER I.

     A JUNE MORNING OF EIGHTEEN HUNDRED AND SIXTY-THREE--GLIMPSES
     OF WEST PHILADELPHIA--THE DAYS BEFORE GETTYSBURG--THE TWO ON
     THE PIAZZA--MARGARET HAYLEY AND ELSIE BRAND--AN EMBRACE AND
     A DIFFERENCE--FORESHADOWINGS OF CARLTON BRAND, BROTHER AND
     LOVER.


A wide piazza, with the columns made of such light tracery in scrolled
plank-work that they seemed to be almost unreal and gave an appearance of
etheriality to the whole front of the house. The piazza, flecked over with
the golden June sunshine that stole down between the branches of the tall
trees standing in front and shading the house, and that crept in through
the network of twine and climbing roses clambering almost up to the roof
from the balustrade below. The house to which the piazza adjoined, large,
built of wood in that half Flemish and half Elizabethan style which has of
late years been made popular through cheap books on cottage architecture
and the illustrations in agricultural newspapers,--two and a half stories
in height, with a double gabled front that belonged to the one, elaborate
cornices and work over the piazza that belonged to the other, and a turret
in the centre that belonged to neither. A wide, tall door opening from the
piazza, and windows also opening upon it, sweeping down quite to the
floor. Altogether a house which approached more nearly to the "composite"
order of architecture so much affected by wealthy Americans, than to any
one set down in the books by a particular designation; and yet shapely and
imposing, and showing that if the most unimpeachable taste had not presided
over the erection, yet wealth had been lavishly expended and all the modern
graces and ornaments freely supplied.

In front of the house, and sweeping down to the road that ran within a
hundred feet, a grassed lawn lying in the lovely green of early summer,
only broken at irregular intervals by the dozen of trees of larger and
smaller sizes, round which the earth had been artistically made to swell so
as to do away with any appearance of newness and create the impression that
the roundness had been caused by the bursting of the trees farther out of
the ground through many years of vigorous growth. Beneath one of the
largest of the trees--a maple, with the silver sheen almost equally divided
between its bark and its glossy leaves, a long wooden bench or settee, with
two or three sofa-cushions thrown carelessly upon it, as if it formed at
times a favorite lounge for a reader or a smoker. On the piazza a triad of
chairs, irregularly placed and all unoccupied. One of the two folding doors
leading into the halls from the piazza, wide open, as became the season,
and the other half closed as if a single puff of summer breeze coming
through the hall had become exhausted before closing it entirely. One of
the windows opening from the piazza into what seemed to be the better part
of the house, closed entirely; and the other, with the shutters "bowed" or
half open, permitting a peep into a large parlor or sitting-room, with rich
carpet and handsome furniture, but kept dusky under the impression (more or
less reasonable) that thereby additional coolness would be secured.

Near the house, on both sides, other houses of corresponding pretension
though displaying great variety in style of architecture; and in front,
across the wide road, still others showing to the right and left, and the
whole appearance of the immediate neighborhood evidencing that it was
neither country nor city, but a blending of both, suburban, and a chosen
spot for the residences of those who did business in the great city and
wished to be near it, and who possessed means and taste to make so pleasant
a selection. Still farther away in front, as seen between the other houses
and shrubbery, and stretching off southward in a long rolling sweep, rich
agricultural country, with some of the hay-crop yet ungathered, broad
fields of grain receiving the last ripening kiss of the sun before yielding
to the sickle or the reaping-machine, and fruit-trees already beginning to
be golden with the apples, pears and peaches glimmering amid the leaves. A
quiet, gentle scene, with evident wealth to gild it and perfect repose to
lend it character; and over all the warm sun of a June morning resting like
a benediction, and a slight shadow of golden haze in the air softening
every object in the perspective. Occasionally a pedestrian figure moving
slowly along one of the foot-paths that bordered the wide road; and anon a
farm-wagon loaded with early produce and on its way to market, rumbling by
with such a sleepy expression on the face of the driver and such lollings
of the ears of the full-fed and lazy horses, that the episode of its
passage rather added to than detracted from the slumberous quiet of the
prospect.

Then another passage, very different and not at all in keeping with any of
the points that have before been noted. An officer in full uniform, with
the front of his chasseur cap thrown high in defiance of the glare of the
sunshine, spurring by on a high-stepping and fast-trotting horse, eastward
towards the city, with such life and haste in every movement of himself and
the animal he bestrode as to momentarily dash the whole view with unquiet.
Then the equestrian figure out of sight and the beat of his horse's hoofs
heard no longer; and the scene relapsing into that languor born of the June
morning verging rapidly towards noon.

Then a sudden sound, still more discordant with the drowsy peace of the
hour than the sight of the spurring soldier, and still more painfully
suggestive of war in the land of peace. The quick, sharp rattle of a
snare-drum, but a little space removed, and apparently passing down one of
the lateral roads in the neighborhood, dying away with a light tap into the
distance a moment after, and quiet coming back again yet more markedly
after so incongruous an interruption.

The place, West Philadelphia, half a mile or more beyond the Schuylkill,
not far from the line traversed beyond the bridge by the Market Street
cars, and near the intersection of that branch of the main artery known as
the Darby Road,--in the outer edge of that beautiful little section with
its tall trees and plats of natural green, out of and into which the
shrieking monsters of the Pennsylvania Central Railroad dart every hour in
the day with freight and passengers to and from the Great West. The time,
late in June, 1863, a few days before Gettysburg, when the long-threatened
invasion of the North by the rebels had become for the moment an
accomplished fact, when Lee and Ewell had crossed the Potomac, swept on
through Upper Maryland, entered Pennsylvania, devastated the farms and
carried away the stock of the farmers on the border, laid York under a
contribution, burned the barracks at Carlisle, and threatened every hour to
capture Harrisburgh and force the passage of the Susquehanna. When women
and children, and by far too many of the able-bodied inhabitants who should
have shown more pride if they indeed possessed no courage, had fled away
from the Seat of Government of the Keystone State, and the public records
were following them to prevent their falling into the hands of an enemy
known to be destructive and revengeful, and for the moment believed to be
irresistible. When the rebels themselves boasted that they were about to
teach the North all the horrors of war that had fallen upon the South in
the long contest,--and that in a few days they would water their
cavalry-horses in the Delaware, if they did not achieve the same success at
the very banks of the Hudson; and when the newspapers of New York and
Philadelphia, for the moment completely discouraged, gave up the line of
defence of the Susquehanna, and gravely debated, whether a check could
indeed be made at the Delaware, with the loss of the Quaker City, or
whether the great struggle must at last be transferred to the Hudson hills
of New Jersey. When the Reserves were mustering in Philadelphia, and the
Coal Regiments forming in the haunts of the sturdy miners. When the
Pennsylvania coal-mines were to be set on fire by the invader, and left to
burn on until all the fuel of the nation was destroyed, if the "great
conflagration" of the whole earth did not follow as a result. When more
placards calling for the defence of the State, were exhibited in the
neighborhood of old Independence Hall, than had ever shown there, inviting
the idle to amusement, in the most prosperous seasons of opera, theatre and
concert-saloon--drums beating at every corner, brass bands blowing on every
square, patriotic appeals and efforts to recruit on every hand, and yet the
people apparently lying under bodily apathy or mental paralysis. When
Governor Seymour, of New York, and Governor Parker, of New Jersey, waiving
the political question for the moment, were calling out the troops of those
States to the defence of Pennsylvania; and when the militia of the city of
New York and the returned nine-months volunteers of New Jersey were showing
themselves equally ready to respond to the call. When the Army of the
Potomac seemed for the moment to be nothing, even for the defence of the
North, Hooker discredited, no successor discovered, public confidence lost,
the very darkest day of the struggle at hand, and no man able or willing to
predict what might be the extent of disaster reached before the rolling
back of the tide of invasion from the homes of the loyal States.

Such were the place, the time, the surroundings, and the atmosphere (so to
speak) of the house of the blended Flemish and Elizabethan styles of
architecture, at West Philadelphia, of which, thus far, only the outward
aspects have been presented. Yet there may be an inexcusable neglect of
the proprieties, in presenting a house, its green lawn, shady trees, and
even the pleasant landscape stretching away in front of it, before those
living figures which would certainly have attracted the attention of an
observer in advance of any of the inanimate beauties of art or nature.

Those figures were two in number, both standing on the piazza, very near
the trellis of climbing roses, and where the flecks of sunshine fell
through the leaves upon them and dashed them with little dots and lines of
moving light, as well as the floor upon which they stood. Both were
girls--both young--both beautiful; at least each possessed that combination
of features, form and manner, making her very pleasing to the casual
observer, and certain to be reckoned beautiful by some one admitted to a
closer knowledge of the spirit enshrined within. They were evidently dear
friends; for as they stood near the trellis, and the hand of the taller of
the two plucked a half-open rose from one of the clusters, and she
playfully tried to coax it to a fuller opening by breathing caressingly
upon it and separating its clinging leaves with her dainty fingers,--the
arm of the other was around her waist, and both the trim and graceful forms
were slightly swaying backward and forward in that pleasant, idle,
school-girl motion which the grown woman does not easily forget until it
has given the "fidgets" to half her elder acquaintances.

The taller and perhaps by a year the elder--she of the rose--was the
daughter of the mistress of that pleasant summer paradise, born to wealth
and position, and her birth registered some two-and-twenty years before in
the predecessor of the heavy family Bible with its golden clasps, which lay
in state in the parlor so near her, as Margaret Hayley. She was a little
above the average height of womanhood, and might have seemed too tall for
grace but for the exquisite rounding of the lithe form, the matchless fall
of a pair of sloping shoulders that could not probably be matched within a
radius of an hundred miles, the graceful carriage of a neck that would
have been long if less elegantly poised, the beauty in shape and spring in
motion of the Arab foot under which the water would have run as easily as
beneath a bridge, and the supple delicacy of the long taper fingers with
their rose-tinted nails, which seemed perfect and high-blooded enough to
have a mission of playing among heart-strings as the fingers of others
might do among the chords of a harp.

In feature the young girl had quite as many claims to attention. The hair
was very dark and very profuse--so near to black that it needed the
sunlight before the golden shadows in the dark brown became fully
apparent--swept plainly down on either side, in the madonna fashion, from a
brow that was very pure, high and clear. The face was handsomely moulded,
rather long than broad, as beseemed the figure, rather pale than ruddy,
though with a dash of healthy color in each cheek that belied any momentary
suspicion of ill health; the nose a little long and somewhat decided, but
very classic in outline and finely cut at the nostril; the eyes dark--so
dark that a careless observer would have lost their brown and called them
black, and their expression a little reserved if not sad and even sometimes
severe; the mouth small and well-shaped, with the lips as delicately tinted
as the faintest blush-rose in the cluster near her, but a shade too thin
for the exhibition of exuberant passion, and showing a slight curl of pride
at the corners of the upper; the chin rounded, full, and forming a pleasant
point for the eye to rest upon as it descended from the face to study the
contour of neck and shoulders. The first appreciative glance at her was
certain to be followed by the suppressed exclamation: "How very handsome!"
and the second by a thought that the lips did not syllable: "How very proud
and queenly!" It might have needed many more than a third, before the gazer
could go to the full depth of a very marked character, and say how much of
that queenly bearing might be ready to bend at last to the magic touch of
the softer passions, and how much of that evident goodness and firmness
might be employed in conveying happiness to others than herself. Among her
peculiarities, she seemed to despise stripes, plaids, sprigs, spots, and
the other endless varieties of color in material; and the lawn which swept
that morning around her erect figure was of a neutral tint and as devoid of
spot as were arms, ears and neck of any ornament in jewelry except a small
cameo at the throat, a slight gold chain around the neck and descending to
the bosom, and a single cluster diamond sparkling on the forefinger of the
right-hand that was dallying with the spirit hidden among the rose-leaves.

No more telling contrast to the tall, majestic girl could well have been
supplied, than her neighbor and dear friend, Elsie Brand (Elspeth,
baptismally, for reasons that will hereafter develop themselves, but always
called Elsie by those admitted to the least intimacy.) She was at least
four inches shorter than Miss Hayley, round and rather plump, though very
graceful in figure, with a chubby face, ruddy cheeks, piquant nose, merry
blue eyes, pouting red lips, full hair coming low down on the forehead and
of that pale gold which the old Scotch poets immortalized as "yellow," in
so many of their lays of the bardic era. Pretty, beyond question, but more
good and attractive-looking than beautiful; and if a second look at
Margaret Hayley would have induced an observation having reference to her
pride, a second at Elsie Brand was certain to bring out the thought if not
the speech: "What a charming, good little girl!" Perhaps a third, with
persons not too severely in training for the great Olympian races of
morality, was very likely to create such a sensation as one experiences in
gazing at a lusciously ripe peach, having particular reference to the pulpy
red lips with their funny pout and kissable look, and ending in a wish that
the crimson love-apples of the modern Hesperides were not quite so
zealously guarded.

Elsie had not yet passed her twenty-second birthday, though she had been
"of age" for a good many twelvemonths, in the estimation of those who had
come near enough to her to feel the beating of her warm heart. Doctor
James Holton, graduate of the Pennsylvania Medical College, and lately a
student with one who had been a student with David Hosack, held his own
peculiar estimation of Elsie Brand, and had almost been driven into rank
atheism from the necessity of both holding and proving that the theory of
our springing from one common father and mother could not possibly be
correct, as the clay of which Elsie was made had been so very different--so
much purer, sweeter and better--from that employed in the moulding of
ordinary mortals!

For some minutes the two young girls had been standing in silence, Margaret
engaged with experiments on her opening rose and Elsie with one arm around
her and lazily observing the operation--both apparently full of that
indolent enjoyment born of ease, content, and the languid air of the summer
morning. Then the little one spoke:

"Margaret, do you know of what I have been thinking for the last two
minutes?"

"Haven't any machine by which I could pry into the droll secrets of your
brain, Elsie, my dear!" answered the taller, pleasantly, but with no smile
upon her lips meanwhile, and apparently with all her attention yet absorbed
in her horticultural experiment.

"Shall I tell you?" queried Elsie.

"Certainly, pet, if you like!" was the reply, the tone, as well as the word
of endearment, showing indefinably that Margaret Hayley thought of herself
as a woman and yet of her companion (of nearly the same age) as little more
than a child.

"I was thinking," said the little girl, "how much of character is sometimes
shown in the action of a moment, and how very different we are."

"Who thought your little head was so philosophical, Elsie?" answered
Margaret, and this time she for a moment deserted her rose and looked
around with a pleasant smile. "Well, the application of your thought to
yourself and to me?"

"Oh," said the little one. "It was only about the rose. I should have
plucked it, if I plucked it at all, and enjoyed it as it was. You are
trying to make something else out of it, and yet show no wish to destroy
the flower. A cruel woman--different from either of us, I hope--would
probably be plucking off the leaves one by one and throwing them away,
without caring how much pain she might be inflicting on the life of the
flower, hidden away down somewhere in its heart."

"A very pretty idea, upon my word!" said Margaret, ceasing to blow upon and
pluck at the leaves, and turning upon her companion a countenance showing
something like surprised admiration. "And what do you make of my character,
Elsie, as shown by my handling of the rose?"

"You must not be angry with me, Margaret," answered the young girl, a
little in the spirit of deprecation. "But you see _I_ should have been
satisfied with the rose as it was, and the other would have been cruelly
dissatisfied with it in any shape, and you----"

"Well, dear? I----"

"You showed that you were not entirely satisfied with every thing as it
was, and that you had a little self-will leading you to force things to be
as you chose, by trying to make that poor little flower outrun the course
of nature and bloom before it was quite ready."

"I think you are right, Elsie," said Margaret, nodding her head in that
slight and repeated manner indicative of answering the mind within quite as
much as any observation from without. "I am _not_ satisfied with every
thing in the world, Elsie. I am not cruel, I hope and believe; but I am
sharper, harder, more requiring than you, and consequently not formed for
half so much true happiness. I _do_ feel like forcing things to be what I
require, sometimes, and then I suppose I grow unamiable."

"You are never any thing else than a dear good girl, with a wiser head than
my rattle-pate, and my own sweet sister that is to be!" and the arm of the
speaker went still more closely around the slight waist it encircled. A
blush as delicately roseate as the first flushings of dawn crept over the
more classic face that bent above her own, the lips above came down to meet
those pouting below, and the two young girls were kissing and embracing as
if they had been two lovers of opposite sexes but very much of one opinion
as to the best office of the lips. Any delicately-nerved old bachelor who
should have happened to pass in front of the house at that moment and catch
a glimpse of the scene just then enacted on the piazza, would certainly
have fainted away on the spot, at the idea of such a waste of the most
delicious of "raw material."

"You may have the rose for your lesson--you see I have not spoiled it,
after all," said Margaret, when the kiss had been given and the rosy flush
died away from her own cheek.

"To give to Carlton?" asked Elsie, as she held out her hand for it.

"No, Carlton must come after his own roses!" was the reply, with the least
dash of pride in the curling of the upper lip.

"And pluck them himself?" asked saucy Elsie.

"Certainly!"

"No matter where he finds them growing--on tree, or on cheek, or on lips!"
continued the young girl, with a light laugh.

For an instant the same flush rose again on the cheek of Margaret Hayley;
then she forced it away, smiled, and said:

"Certainly! why not? Carlton Brand kisses me, sometimes, and I have more
than once kissed him back. What is that to you, sauce-box, when we are
engaged to be married?"

"What is that to me? Every thing! Joy--happiness--to know that I am going
to have so dear a sister!" cried the little one, throwing both her arms,
this time, around the pliant waist of Margaret and hugging her in a perfect
transport of delight, which seemed quite shared in, though more
tranquilly, by the object of the demonstration.

The saddest, cruellest thing in all the lyric drama is the blast of De
Sylva's horn on Ernani's wedding morning, calling him in one instant from
happy love to dishonor or death. Neither in romance nor in nature should
such sudden transitions occur. Alas, for humanity! they do occur in both,
not occasionally but habitually. The Duchess of Richmond's ball--then
Waterloo. De Joinville springs on board his flag-ship to sail for the
attack on Vera Cruz, in the very ball dress in which he has been dancing
the whole night through with the republican belles at Castle Garden. The
Pall is over every thing of earth: how sadly and how inevitably it droops
above the Banner! No scene upon earth could have been more exquisitely
peaceful, and few could have been lovelier, than that which surrounded and
comprehended those two fair girls in their embrace upon the piazza. Wealth,
youth, beauty, good feeling, happiness--all were there; and love blent with
friendship, for was not the embrace, given by Elsie Brand and accepted by
Margaret Hayley, both given and accepted quite as much for her brother's
sake as her own? It was fitting, then, according to the sad fitness of
earth, that the element of discord should enter into the peaceful and the
beautiful.

The officer spurred by, as we have seen him do, gazing only with our
incorporeal eyes. Both the young girls, just releasing each other from
their embrace, saw the dark cloud of war sweeping between them and the
sunlit grain fields. Elsie Brand shuddered and drew back, as if the
incongruity jarred her nature. Margaret Hayley instantly lifted her proud
neck the higher, as if something in _her_ nature sympathized with every
suggestion of the struggle, and as if she was, indeed, insensibly riding on
with the hurrying horseman.

"And what does the shudder mean, little one?" asked Margaret, who had
plainly distinguished it at the moment of release.

"I hate war, and every thing connected with it!" was the reply, the tone
almost petulant.

"And I do _not_ hate it, painful as it may be in many particulars," said
Margaret. "Force and energy are the noblest developments in life. Bravery
is the nearest possible approach to that divine character which knows no
superior and consequently fears none."

"Nearer to the divine than _love_?" asked the little one.

Just for one instant, again, that roseate tint on the cheek of Margaret, as
she said: "Nobler, if not nearer to the divine; and sorry as I must be to
see the bloodshed caused by a civil war in my native land, I am almost glad
that it has occurred, sometimes, as a means of rousing the sluggish pulses
of men who would otherwise have stagnated in trade and pleasure, and
proving that we yet possess something of the hero spirit of old."

"And _I_ am sorry for it all the while, night and day, in my prayers and in
my dreams," answered Elsie Brand, with a sigh. "Hark!" as the tap of the
drum came across from the lateral road before-mentioned. "There is another
reminder of the curse, and one that comes nearer home. Do you remember,
Margaret, that I shall soon have a brother, and you a lover, separated from
us and in terrible danger? They say Harrisburgh must be taken, unless a
very large body of troops can reach it at once. The Reserves will probably
go on, to-night, and Carlton will probably accept his old commission again.
I do want him to do his duty, Margaret, if it _is_ his duty; but I hope
that he will not think so--that he will not go away."

"And _I_ hope that he _will_!" answered Margaret, her tall form drawn up to
its full height, and a look of stern pride upon her face that could not
very well be mistaken.

"To go into danger--perhaps to death?" asked Elsie, looking sadly at the
proud Sibylline face.

"To a thousand deaths, if necessary, rather than towards the least
suspicion of a want of true manhood!"

"Ah, you do not know the trembling fear of a sister's love!" said Elsie,
with a sigh.

"I know a love fifty times deeper!" said Margaret, the pride still on her
face, and yet that ever-returning flush coming up again to say that if love
had not conquered pride it had at least divided the dominion. "Listen,
Elsie Brand, to some words that you may as well understand now as ever.
There is no one near to hear us, and so it is almost like speaking before
heaven alone. I love your brother, deeply, devotedly, with all the power of
my nature--so devotedly that if that love should be wrenched away from my
heart by any circumstance, I know that my life would thenceforth be but one
long, wretched mockery of existence. Happy natures like yours, Elsie, do
not know the absolute agony that lies in such love. And yet I could give up
that love, and my life with it, and would do so, before I would live, love,
and yet _despise_!"

"Despise?--are you speaking of Carlton--of my brother?" asked the young
girl, apparently a little lost in the mysterious energy of her companion's
words.

"I said that I could _not_ despise," Margaret Hayley went on. "I must not,
or we have no future. Do you know that I should have reverenced your
brother more, even if I did not love him better, if he had not refused the
commission in the army tendered him at the commencement of the war? I might
have wept, perhaps mourned--but I should have idolized. Now, I only love a
mortal like myself, where I might have been worshipping a hero!"

"Or sobbing over a grave!" said Elsie, with a sigh which told how easily
she might have been brought to illustrate the word she used.

"What then!" was the quick reply of Margaret. "The glory would have been
his--the loss and grief would have been mine, and I could have borne them.
But he did not choose to enter the struggle, prominent as he had once been
in military movements. He had the excuse of business and occupation, and I
have tried to believe that he needed no other."

"Needed?--what do you mean, Margaret?" cried Elsie Brand in a tone and with
a movement of starting back which evidenced both pain and alarm.

"It is a painful thing, but I must say it, to you, as I do not know that I
could say it to him," pursued Margaret. "I mean, that I have tried to
believe that there was no flaw in my idol--that Carlton Brand, who held
every pulse of my woman's heart responsive to his touch--did not lack the
one manly virtue of _courage_!"

"And would you _dare_ to believe my brother--the man you have pretended to
love--a _coward_?" There was something vexed and sharp, almost angry, in
Elsie's tone, now, that did not promise another immediate embrace like that
of a few moments previous. Margaret Hayley saw the expression of her face,
but neither blenched before it nor seemed to feel any anger at the
manifestation.

"Elsie Brand," she said, her words slow, measured, and with a cadence that
was somehow inexpressibly pained and mournful, "I am no school-girl, and I
am speaking words that I mean. I know your brother to be patriotic, I know
him to be in high health, athletic, vigorous and determined; and have
sometimes believed that if he had possessed that one requisite, animal
courage, he would long ago have been fighting the foes of the republic.
Grieve as I may to part with him, I am glad you believe that he is going
with the Reserves. He had his choice, before, and I let my own heart
instead of my reason have sway, and did not question its propriety. But
were he to hang back now, when his native State is invaded and every arm
necessary to drive back the rebels from Pennsylvania soil, I should know
that he was a coward!"

"I don't like you, Margaret Hayley, when your face looks so and you talk in
that manner!" said the little girl. "But I will not quarrel with you.
Carlton is going with the Reserves, and some day when he is killed or you
hear how he has shamed all the rest with his bravery, you will be sorry for
the words you have just spoken!" Just then the little yellow-haired girl
was the Sibyl, and her prophecy went upon record with the wild words of
Margaret, to be afterwards remembered--how sadly!

"No--do not be angry with me, Elsie," said Margaret, taking the hand that
had been temporarily released. "You have no cause. I have been speaking
against my own heart all the while, much more than against the man whom I
truly love. I know him to be noble and true, and I will believe him brave.
Are you satisfied? Kiss me!" and the proud, statuesque face once more lost
its gravity, to bring back all the joyousness into the rounder and merrier
one from which it had temporarily departed.

The light summer jockey-hat of Elsie lay just within the door, on a chair.
With a quick glance at the watch hidden under her waist-riband, she stepped
within the door, threw on her hat, and was about to terminate her somewhat
prolonged morning-call, when Margaret took it off again, dropped it into
one of the vacant chairs, and said:

"No--do not go away. You have nothing to do at home--mother has gone down
to the city for the day, you know, and I shall be lonely. We shall have
some lunch--you may call it dinner if it will taste any better,--very soon.
Stay till the afternoon--cannot you do so, just as well as not?"

"I suppose so--no, I must see Carlton--yes, though, Carlton will be quite
as likely to come here first as to go home, if he has arranged to go
away--yes, I will stay if you wish it so much!" rapidly answered the little
one.

"That is a good girl," said Margaret Hayley, just as she might have patted
a school hobby-de-hoy on the head. "Now run into the parlor and get the
very nicest book you can find, draw the easy-chair out of the hall, and
enjoy yourself the best you can for just twenty minutes, while I go down
to the kitchen, in ma's place, and see what progress our new Dutch cook has
been making."

She disappeared with the words, and her injunctions were acted upon almost
as rapidly. In half a minute Elsie had the arm-chair out of the hall, and
an illustrated work off one of the tables in the parlor, and was prepared
for her short period of indolent enjoyment.



CHAPTER II.

     THE COMING OF CARLTON BRAND--ALMOST A PALADIN OF
     BALAKLAVA--BROTHER AND SISTER--A SPASM OF SHAME--THE
     CONFESSION--THE COWARD--HOW MARGARET HAYLEY HEARD MANY WORDS
     NOT INTENDED FOR HER--THE RUPTURE AND THE SEPARATION.


Not long was the young girl, left at the close of the last chapter bodily
ensconced in an easy-chair on the broad piazza, and mentally absorbed in
the attractions of one of the choicest books in Margaret Hayley's
collection, allowed to pursue her reading undisturbed. Not two minutes had
elapsed when a horseman, riding a chestnut horse of handsome appearance and
fine action, came rapidly up from the direction of the city, dismounted
with the same practised grace that he had shown when in the saddle, threw
the rein of his horse over one of the posts standing near the gate, opened
that gate and came up the walk, without attracting the attention of the
young lady on the piazza, or that of any other occupant of the house he was
approaching.

Lifting from his brow, as he approached the house, to wipe away the slight
moisture which had gathered there even in riding, the broad-brimmed and
low-crowned hat of light gray, which so well accorded with his loose but
well-fitting suit of the same color, he gave an opportunity for studying
the whole man, which could not well have been attained under other
circumstances; and both narrator and reader may be excused for stopping him
momentarily in that position, while due examination is made of his most
striking outward peculiarities.

He was at least five feet eleven inches in height, with a figure rather
slight than stout, but singularly erect, sinewy, and elastic, every
movement giving evidence that the body could not well be set to a task
beyond its power of endurance. The foot was not very small, but
well-shaped, and the ungloved hand which held his riding-whip was almost
faultless in shape and color. The hat removed, a brow rather broad than
high was seen, with a head well balanced in all the intellectual and moral
requirements, densely covered with light, curling hair, of that peculiar
shade which the poetical designate as "blonde" and the practical as
"sandy." The complexion, though the cheeks were a little browned by the
summer sun, was very fair, and that of the brow as stainless as any petted
girl's could be. The features were nearly faultless in the Greek severity
of their outline, the nose straight and well cut, the mouth small but with
full curved lips, the eyes of hazel, widely set. The lower part of his face
was effectually concealed by a luxuriant full beard and moustache, a few
shades darker than his hair, and showing a propensity to curl on slight
provocation. He was a decidedly handsome man of twenty-eight to thirty,
erect, gentlemanly, dignified, and with something in his general appearance
irresistibly reminding the spectator of the traditional appearance of those
blonde Englishmen of good birth, who seem made to dawdle life away without
exhibiting one of the sterner qualities of human nature, until deadly
danger shows them to have that cool recklessness of life which charged two
hundred years ago with Prince Rupert and ten years ago with poor Nolan. Yet
this was the idea more likely to be formed of him and his capabilities, by
strangers and those who lacked opportunity to examine his face and manner
closely, than by those intimately acquainted with both; for there was an
occasional nervousness in the movement of the hands, and even of the whole
figure, that to a close observer would have belied the first-assumed
self-confidence; and a something drooping, tremulous, and undecided in the
lower lip at the corners, was so well matched by a sad and even troubled
expression that often rested like a cloud over the eyes, that the whole man
seemed to be made into another self by them.

Such was Carlton Brand, the brother of Elsie, about whom the tongues of the
two young girls had wagged so unreservedly but a few minutes before. Such
was his appearance, to the outward eye, as, hat still in hand, he
approached the piazza. Elsie was sufficiently absorbed in her book, not to
feel his presence; and it was not until he was close upon her that the
young girl saw him, flung down the costly illustrated volume in her chair
with less care than might have pleased the less impulsive owner, sprang to
the step and seized both the occupied hands of the new-comer, with a warmth
that showed how cordial was the affection between brother and sister, so
widely different in appearance and indication of character.

"How did you come here, pet?" the brother asked, as soon as his mouth was
free from the kiss his sister tendered.

"Oh, ran across the fields half an hour ago, and intended to be back home
by this time, only that Margaret was alone and wished me to stay; and
besides----"

"Well--besides what?"

"Besides, I almost knew that you would stop _here_ before you went home,
and I should see more of you before you went away, by remaining."

Could the young girl but have seen the quick spasm of agony that just then
passed over the face of Carlton Brand--the agitation and trembling which
seized upon lip and hands--she might have been wiser the next moment, but
she certainly would not have been happier. Just for that one moment there
seemed to be lack-lustre vacancy in the eyes, total want of self-assertion
in face and figure, and the handsome, noble-looking man actually seemed to
have collapsed, bowed, and sunk within himself, so that he was more an
object of pity than of envy. But the sister's eyes were fortunately turned
away at that instant, and she saw nothing. When she looked at him again,
the spasm, whatever it might have been, was gone, and she only saw his
usual self. He did not reply to her last suggestion, but asked, after an
instant of hesitation:

"Where is Margaret?"

"Gone down into the kitchen for a few moments, to look after a new Dutch
cook, but she will soon return. And so you are really going away, brother,
and I shall be so lonesome!" and the hand of the sister sought that of the
dearly-loved brother again, as if every moment lost without some touch of
one who was so soon to leave her, was lost indeed.

Even to this the brother gave no reply, but made a remark with reference to
the rapid ripening of the grain in the wheat-fields that skirted the road
beyond. A duller wit than that of Elsie Brand might have become aware that
he was avoiding an unpleasant subject; and the young girl recognized the
fact, but gave it an entirely erroneous explanation, believing that he must
have heard some peculiarly threatening news from the scene of the invasion,
making the peril of the troops about to leave more deadly than it would
have been under ordinary circumstances, and that he dreaded to enter upon
the theme at all, for fear of alarming her. As a consequence, her next
words were a disclaimer of her own fears.

"Oh, Carlton, you need not be afraid to speak of it to me. Much as I have
dreaded your going away, I know, now, that it is your duty, when your own
State is invaded; and I have made up my mind to bear the separation, and
even to think of you, my own dear brother, as in danger, without saying one
word to hold you back."

"Have you?" That spasm was again upon his face, and the words were hoarse;
but again the eye and the ear of the sister missed the recognition of any
thing unusual.

"Yes; and so has Margaret."

"Has she?" The spasm had not gone off his face, and the second question was
asked even more hoarsely than the first. For some reason that the young
girl could not understand, he turned away from her, walked down to the end
of the piazza, and stood looking off. What he was suffering at that moment,
with three or four of the most powerful passions known to humanity tearing
at his heart-strings at once, none may know who have not passed through the
same terrible ordeal which he was then enduring. There were only the fays
who may have been playing among the green grass, and the dryads yet
lingering among the whispering leaves of the maples, looking in at the end
of the piazza upon his face: had they been human eyes, what of wrestling
and struggle might they not have seen! When he turned to walk back towards
the spot where his sister was standing in surprise not unmingled with
alarm, his face was again calm, but it would have shown, to the observant
eye, a calmness like that of despair. His words, too, were forced when they
came:

"You and Margaret both, Elsie, love me so well, I know, that you would give
up almost any thing to please me; but I do not intend to task either of you
too far. I am not going--that is, business detains me so that I cannot--I
am not going to Harrisburgh."

"Business!" Elsie Brand had never before, in her whole young life, uttered
a word so hardly or in a tone so nearly approaching to a sneer, as she
spoke the single word at that moment. Were the words of Margaret Hayley
ringing in her ear, and did she find some terrible confirmation, now, of
what had before been so impossible to believe? "Business!--what business,
Carlton, _can_ be sufficient to keep you at home when they seem to need you
so much?"

"What do _you_ know about it?" and _his_ tones were harsh and almost
menacing. "Do we ask you women to decide what we shall do, where we shall
go, and where we shall stay?"

"Oh, Carlton!" and the cry seemed to come from the very heart of the young
girl. It was perhaps the first harsh word that had ever fallen on her ear,
aimed at her from the lips of the brother she so adored. God only knew the
agony under which that harsh word had been wrung out, as only he could know
the agony it might cause! The cry instantly melted the heart to which it
appealed. Carlton Brand took the hand of his sister in his own, kissed her
tenderly, and said:

"Forgive me, Elsie, if I spoke as I should never speak to _you_! But you do
not know, sometimes, what moves men to harshness which they afterwards
bitterly repent."

"But you are not going with the regiment?" again she asked.

"No!--I have told you I was not, Elsie!" and the tone came very near to
being a harsh one, once more.

"I am sorry--very sorry, Carlton!"

"Sorry?" and the often-recurring spasm which again passed over his
features, could not have been unobserved by the young girl, for her own
face seemed to reflect it. "Sorry? Are you indeed sorry that I am not going
into--that I am not going to be absent from you?"

"Oh, no, Carlton! heaven knows I am not!" said Elsie, and the merry blue
eyes were filled with tears. "But I think you ought to go; and you do not
know, Carlton, how much may hang upon it. Do you love Margaret--really and
truly love her?"

"Love her? as my own soul!" answered Carlton Brand. He did not say "as his
own _life_"! "Why do you ask, after all that you have known of our
attachment and our engagement?"

"Because, Carlton"--and the young girl, weeping the while under an impulse
of feeling that she could scarcely herself understand, caught him by the
arm and drew down his head towards her--"because I believe that if you do
not go with the Reserves, Margaret will think that you do not do so
because--oh, I cannot speak the word!"

"Because what? Speak it out!" and he seemed to be nerving himself to meet
some shock that was likely to need all his energies.

"Because"--in a voice very low and broken--"because you are afraid to
go--because you are a _coward_!"

"Has she said as much?" and the eyes of the speaker, very sad, troubled,
and almost wild, seemed still to have power to read the very soul of the
young girl before him. Elsie could not speak at first, but she nodded
twice, and never death-bell of a condemned criminal rung out more clearly
or more frightfully on the startled air, tolling the knell of a last hope,
than the whisper that came at last from her lips:

"Yes!"

"Then God help me!" came from those of the strong man, in such a
manifestation of agony as was painful to behold, while his hands for one
moment clasped themselves together as if he would wring them in womanish
weakness, then went up to his face and spread themselves as if they would
shut it away forever from human sight. "God help me!--and you, Elsie,
despise me if you will, but, oh, help me to keep it from _her_. I dare not
go! I _am_ a coward! If I should go into battle I should disgrace myself
there forever, by running away at the first fire, and that would break our
poor old father's heart!"

"Carlton! Carlton! my poor brother!" and the hands of the young girl closed
around one of her brother's, with so warm a pressure as proved that she did
not think of any shame, disgrace or fault in the connection, but only as
the announcement of some great misfortune.

"Yes, Elsie, you have wrung from me the confession that I hoped never to be
obliged to make to any one but my God. I have made it to Him, oh, how many
times, and I almost feel that he has forgiven me, as my fellow-men will
never do. I have been a coward, I suppose, from my very cradle and heaven
only knows how I have managed to conceal the terrible truth from you, all
this while! The very sight of blood sickens me, even when it is only the
blood of beeves in a slaughter-house. One spirt from the arm of a man when
he is being bled sets every nerve to trembling, and sometimes sends me
fainting to the floor. One moment among the horrible sights of battle--the
groans, and shrieks, and crashing bullets and spouting blood of
carnage--would drive me mad or send me flying away with the curses of my
whole race ringing in my ears."

"Oh, Carlton! my poor brother!" repeated once more, and in the same tone of
heart-broken sympathy, was all that Elsie Brand could answer to this
humiliation of the one to whom, perhaps, next to God, she had ever looked
up as to His noblest human manifestation of greatness in creative power.

"Do you see what a poor miserable wretch I am?" he went on, apparently
forgetful that any one besides his sister might be within hearing, and she
so absorbed in the grief and shame of the revelation that she possessed no
more forethought. "Think of me as an officer in my regiment, and know with
what a reddened face I must have walked the streets when we paraded,
conscious that if suddenly called to duty--even the quelling of a mob at
the street-corner--I should be obliged to disgrace myself at once and
forever! Think what I have suffered since the war broke out!--commission
after commission offered me--loving my country as I believe man never loved
it before--and yet not daring to strike one blow in its behalf. Obliged to
make slight excuses when others have inquired why I did not go to the
war--obliged to wear a double face, a mask, everywhere and at all
times--dreading detection every day, and in that detection perhaps the loss
of my proud father's life and of the love that has made the only hope of my
own--cursing the omen that unwittingly gave me the brand of the coward in
my very name--racked and tortured thus, and yet obliged to hold an
honorable place among my fellow-men--it has been too hard, Elsie, too hard!
And now to lose all! If _she_ has learned to suspect me--I know her brave
heart and her proud nature--I shall lose her, the richest, noblest thing on
earth, half grasped, to be mourned for as never man yet mourned for woman!
Do help me, Elsie! Help me to conceal my shame--to deceive her, yes--God
help me!--to deceive _her_ before whom my very soul should be laid bare--so
that she will not know me for the miserable wretch and coward that I am!"

And all this while his face was wrought and contorted, at short intervals,
by those fearful spasms of shame and mental suffering; and ever and anon
his hands locked together and seemed to wring themselves even beyond his
own volition. How different he looked, at that moment, from the handsome,
noble man, in the full pride of mature adolescence, who had stepped upon
that piazza but a few moments before!

"I would do any thing in the world to help you, Carlton; but what _can_ I
do?" faltered the young girl, who saw no light beyond the thick, black
cloud of shame and ruin slowly settling down on the head of her beloved
brother.

"Help me to conceal the truth"--he went on--"to enforce any excuse for not
leaving the city at this moment! I know it is base and contemptible, but it
is for a good purpose, Elsie--to save a heart that is already distracted,
and a life that must be wrecked without it. We may never be placed in the
same circumstances again--the war may soon be ended--if she can only be
kept from knowing this, I may never be placed in the same peril again, and
my whole life shall be one long proof that I am not otherwise unworthy of
the woman I love so madly."

"It does not need, Carlton Brand!" sounded a voice from within--a voice
that both recognized but too well; and out of the hall came the figure of
Margaret Hayley.

Her words and her manner alike proved that she had heard all, or at least
enough; for there was an expression of withering contempt flashing out of
her dark eye and curling her proud lip, not easily to be borne by any
person towards whom they were directed. There did not seem, for the moment,
to be any thing like pity in her composition; and if there had been love
within her heart, it appeared to have been so crushed out by one stunning
blow that it could never bloom again any more than the wild flower ground
beneath the heel of the wayfarer. Her head was proud, erect, haughty,
disdainful; and one who had leisure to examine her closely would have seen
that the nostril was opening and shutting convulsively, as if overwhelming
passion was only suppressed by the physical act of holding the breath.
Elsie Brand was too much dizzied and confused to be quite aware what had
happened or what was about to happen. She merely uttered a cry of agitation
and fright, and shrunk back alike from her brother and the woman who had
come to be his judge. Carlton Brand saw more, with the quick eye of the
lawyer and the sharpened perception of the lover. He realized that Margaret
Hayley had heard his agonized and unmanly confession--that anger and scorn
had driven away from her face the love which had so often and so pleasantly
beamed upon him--that his doom was sealed.

With the knowledge came back to him that manliness in demeanor of which he
had been so sorely in need a moment before. In the presence only of his
sister, and when pleading with her to assist in rescuing him from the pit
of grief and shame into which he felt himself to be sinking, he had been
humble, abject, even cowering. Now, and in the presence of the woman for
whose softened opinion he would have given the world and almost bartered
his hopes of heaven,--he stood erect, and if the spasm of pain did not
entirely pass away from his face, at least it changed in its character so
that he was a man once more.

"I understand you, Miss Hayley," were the first words he spoke. "You have
heard some words not intended for your ear. You have been _listening_."

"If you merely mean that I have heard what was not intended for my ear, you
certainly speak the truth, Mr. Brand," she replied, catching the formality
of his address at once. "But if you mean that I have listened meanly, or
even voluntarily, to words intended to be confidential, you wrong yourself,
equally with me, in saying so. You have spoken so loudly that not only I
but even the servants in the house could not well avoid hearing you; and
there is not much 'listening' in hearing words almost brawled on a piazza."

Her words were very bitter--they beseemed the lips from which they flowed.
A man who loved her less or, who had fewer of the natural impulses of the
gentleman than Carlton Brand, might only have thought of the taunt conveyed
and forgotten its justice. He did not do so, but bowed at once with an air
of respectful humility, and said:

"I beg ten thousand pardons for my hasty speech. I was mad when I made it.
Certainly you have heard nothing but what you had a right to hear." And
then he stood erect but silent.

Poor little Elsie Brand could contain herself no longer. How she loved her
brother, only the angels knew. How easily we pardon, in those of our
kindred, what would be indelible disgrace in the characters of others, all
close observers of humanity know too well. Little Elsie Brand was only
acting the part of nature in espousing the cause of her own blood, and
saying, before time enough had elapsed for any additional words between the
two principals:

"Margaret Hayley, I say that you are too hard with Carlton! If you had ever
loved him, as you pretended, you would not be so! There, you have not asked
my opinion, but you have it!"

The words, though kindly meant, were ill-advised. Not even her brother, who
had but a few moments before been imploring her assistance, thanked her
for what she had then spoken. At least he silenced her for the time with--

"You can do no good now by speaking, Elsie. It is too late. Miss Hayley has
something more to say to me, no doubt, after what she has accidently heard;
and I am prepared to hear it." He stood almost coolly, then, the bared head
bent only a very little, and the face almost as calm as it was
inexpressibly mournful. So might a convicted criminal stand, feeling
himself innocent of wrong in intent, beaten down under a combination of
circumstances too strong to combat, awaiting the words of his sentence, and
yet determined that there should be something more of dignity in his
reception of the last blow than there had ever been in any previous action
of his life.

Twice Margaret Hayley essayed to speak, and twice she failed in the effort.
If she had been calmly indignant the moment before, Nature had already
begun to take its revenge, and she was the woman again. Her proud head was
bent a little lower, and there was a dewy moisture in the dark eyes, that
could never be so well dried up as in being kissed away. Who knows that the
proud woman was not really relenting--letting the old love come back in one
overwhelming tide and sweep away all the barriers erected by indignation
and contempt? Who knows how much of change might possibly have been
wrought, had the next words of Carlton Brand been such as indicated his
belief that the chain between them was not yet severed utterly? Who knows,
indeed?--for his words were very different.

"Miss Hayley, I have waited for you to speak what I feel that you have to
say. You have heard words that no betrothed woman, I suppose, can hear from
her promised husband and yet retain that respect for him which should be
the very foundation of the marriage-bond."

"I have." The words came from her lips in tones much lower than those in
which she had before spoken, and she did not even look at him as she
answered.

"You have heard me declare myself--I know by the face you wore but a moment
since, that you have heard all this--what you hold to be the lowest and
most contemptible thing on God's footstool--a _coward_."

"I have. I would rather have died on the spot than heard those words from
the lips of the man I have--have loved!" The words still low, and some
hesitation in those which concluded the sentence. One would almost have
believed, at that moment, that of the two the culprit was the down-looking
and low-voiced woman, instead of the man whose godlike presence so
contradicted the dastardly vice he was confessing.

"I have no defence to offer," the speaker went on. "If you have heard all
that I believe, no further explanation is necessary. You know the worst;
and as a proud woman, with honor unspotted and beyond suspicion, you have a
right to pass what sentence you choose upon my--my shame, my crime, if you
will!"

Perfect silence for an instant, then a broken sob from Elsie, whose face
was streaming with tears denied to both the others, and who was leaning her
forehead against the sharp corner of one of the columns of the piazza,
apparently that the slight physical pain thus inflicted might do something
to still the mental agony that raged within. Then Margaret Hayley, as if
she had passed through a long struggle but conquered at last with a triumph
slaying her own soul, raised her head, drew in a hard breath, shook back
one of the tresses of her dark hair which had fallen over her brow, and
spoke:

"Do you know, Carlton Brand--I cannot call you _Mr._ Brand again, for that
address is mockery after what we have been to each other--do you know what
that sentence must be, in justice to myself and to you?"

"I can guess it, Margaret Hayley," was the answer, the prefix changed again
in imitation of her, just as she a moment before had changed it in
imitating him. The incident was a mere nothing, and yet suggestive as
showing how closely the two seemed to study each other, and how much of
real sympathy there must after all have been between them. "I can guess it,
and I will try to bear it."

"You can guess it--you do guess it--separation!" said Margaret in a low
voice that she could not quite render firm.

"I was not mistaken--I supposed as much," he answered. "You are a proud
woman, Margaret, and you could not marry a man for whom you failed to
entertain respect--"

"I _am_ a proud woman, but a woman still," said Margaret. "You whom I have
loved so truly, can best guess the depth of my woman's nature. But I cannot
and will not marry a man to whom I cannot look up and say: 'This man has
the courage and the will to protect me in every peril!'"

"Have you ever had reason to believe that I could not and would not protect
you, if need came, against all the world?" and his eyes momentarily
flashed, at that thought, with a light which should not have shone in the
orbs of a coward.

"Words are idle, Carlton Brand!" said Margaret. "There is no protection so
sacredly due as that of a strong man to his country. You know it, and I
know it as well. The man who knows his duty to his country and dares not do
it, through sheer bodily fear, could not be trusted in any relation. His
wife would not dare trust him, if she knew it; and you have opened my eyes
but too painfully. And so, in mercy to both, all must be over between us--"

"Oh, do not say that, Margaret, sister!" broke out Elsie, in a more
faltering voice than she had ever used in pleading for herself since the
earliest day of childhood. Margaret did not heed her, if she heard, but
went on from the point at which she had been interrupted:

"All is over between us, Carlton Brand, at once and forever, unless----"

"Unless?--what is the possibility you would yet hold out to me?" and the
speaker showed more agitation, at that one renewed glimpse of hope, than he
had done when battling against utter despair.

"Unless you will yet obey the summons that has called you with every other
true son of Pennsylvania to the field, and prove to me that you did not
know yourself or that you were endeavoring to play a cruel part in
deceiving your sister and me!"

The face of Carlton Brand had been comparatively calm, ever since the
coming out of Margaret. Suffer as he might, most of the suffering had been
hidden. Now that face assumed an aspect that was really fearful to behold.
The veins on his forehead swelled as if they would burst, his lip set hard,
his eyes glared as if one touch might have made him a maniac, and his hands
worked convulsively. All the symptoms of extreme terror and of a repugnance
which no effort could overcome, were imminent in every glance and motion;
and something of those phenomena was exhibited which we may suppose the
Highland seer of old time to have shown, when he was carried beyond himself
by the invisible powers, and saw battle, defeat and horrible death for
himself or others, slowly unrolling before his spiritual sight. Elsie Brand
shuddered and drew back to the column which had before sheltered her.
Margaret Hayley still stood erect, though she was evidently laboring under
suppressed excitement, and none could say what the end of this scene might
be. It was quite a moment before Carlton Brand could command himself
sufficiently to speak, and then he said in a low, broken voice:

"No--I cannot. I cannot kill my poor gray-haired old father with the
spectacle of the flight and disgrace of his only son."

"And you have decided well," said Margaret. "It is a bitter thing to say,
but I am glad that you have marked out my course as you have done.
Think--oh heaven!" and she seemed indeed to be for the moment addressing
the powers above instead of those regnant upon the earth--"think how near I
came to being this man's wife and the possible mother of his children, each
one marked with the curse set upon them by their father!" No human ear
could have heard the whisper which followed: "Enough of disgraces
descending from parents--oh, heaven!"

"You are right, Margaret Hayley--right!" spoke Carlton Brand, his voice
lower, more hoarse and broken than it had been at any part of the long
interview. "You have reminded me well of your duty and mine. The day may
come when you will be sorry for every word that has fallen from your lips;
but it may not. To-day you are doing right--let the future take care of
itself. Good-bye!"

He took the long, slender white fingers in his, and looked upon them a
minute, the tears at last gathering in his eyes. Then, when through the
thickening drops he could scarcely see them longer, he raised them to his
lips, pressed a kiss upon them, dropped the hand and strode off the piazza
and away, never once looking back as he passed down the path towards the
gate.

Margaret Hayley had been overstraining both heart and brain, and the
penalty asserted itself very soon. Her discarded lover was scarcely half
way down the path when the revulsion came, and pride for the moment broke
down before her terrible sorrow. The proud neck bent, she stretched out her
arms after the retreating figure, the single word, "Carlton!" came half
whispered and half groaned through her lips, her eyes closed, and she sunk
fainting into the arms of Elsie.

Carlton Brand did not hear the call. A moment, and still without another
glance at the house where he was leaving behind the happiness of a life, he
had unloosed the splendid chestnut pawing at the gate, swung himself into
the saddle and ridden away westward. He reeled a little in his seat as he
rode, as a drunken man might have done--that was all the apparent
difference between the man with a hope who had arrived half an hour before
and the man who now departed without one.



CHAPTER III.

     KITTY HOOD AND HER SCHOOL-HOUSE--DICK COMPTON GOING
     SOLDIERING--A LOVERS' QUARREL, A BIT OF JEALOUSY, AND A
     THREAT--HOW DICK COMPTON MET HIS SUPPOSED RIVAL--AN
     ENCOUNTER, SUDDEN DEATH, AND KITTY HOOD'S TERRIBLE
     DISCOVERY.


"I do not care, Dick Compton! You are a mean, good-for-nothing fellow, and
the sooner you go away and get killed, the better. I hope I may never set
eyes on you again, as long as I live."

A pleasant style of address, especially from a pretty woman; and yet one to
which a good many persons have submitted, first and last, from little
people whom they could physically have slain with a single stroke and
mentally discomfited with very little more trouble!

The time of this objurgation was the same morning on which the events took
place which have already been recorded as occurring at the residence of
Margaret Hayley, and at a very little earlier hour than that which
witnessed the departure of Carlton Brand from the place of his signal
discomfiture. The place was in front of a little country-school-house
standing half a mile from the Darby road, north-westward, and perhaps two
miles westward from the Hayleys. The interlocutors were Richard Compton
(already introduced as "Dick" by the flippant tongue of his companion), a
young and well-to-do farmer of the neighborhood, about a quarter of a
century old, perhaps some five feet nine in height, thickset,
strong-limbed, with a round, good-humored face guiltless of beard but
browned a good deal by exposure in the field, generally smiling and
content, but with a spice of the bull-dog in his nature which made him
sullen occasionally and led him always to be very fond of his own peculiar
way;--and Kitty Hood, teacher of the district school of that particular
section of the Keystone State, a short, round, rosy little lass, with merry
brown eyes that only occasionally had a sterner kind of mischief in them,
dark brown waved hair, and just the last general appearance in the world
that a phrenologist would have selected for the necessarily calm and
dignified life of an instructress of callow youth.

The old weather-beaten school-house, erected perhaps fifty years before but
not yet swept away in the prevailing rage for staring new white baby-houses
for the instruction of children in the country, stood at the base of a
slight wooded hill, facing southward; a fine old sycamore near the door
holding the whole house and all its contents in flecked light and shade; a
group of locusts not far away to the left showing a motley jumble of
benches beneath, that were evidently the favorite lounging-place of the
children during play-hours; and a little pond of a hundred or two feet in
diameter, with one edge half covered with the leaves of the intrusive
pond-lilies, and the other bordered by a juvenile wharf of stones, old
boards and bark, supplying the youngsters with a place in which to paddle,
sail boats and get very wet without any danger of being drowned, in summer,
and with a reliable though limited skating-ground in winter. Its
convenience for winter sports could only be imagined, at that season of the
year when the wild-roses were clambering up the dingy boards of the
inclosure, to the windows of the school-room; but its inevitable use as a
part of the great "highway of nations" was too plainly shown by a
circumstance which, alas!--at the same moment illustrated the vicissitudes
of commerce and the necessity for the existence of insurance companies. A
stately vessel of the mercantile guild, twelve inches in length but with
the dignity of three masts and each holding spitted on it as a sail nearly
an entire half-sheet of foolscap paper, had evidently left the little wharf
during the morning play-hour, freighted for the Spice Islands lying up
among the pond-lilies, but suffered the fate of many sea-going ships,
fallen under the power of foul winds or adverse currents, and stranded on
a reef of mud some paces from the shore, from which the ingenuity of her
factors had not yet been able to release her, and where she lay "keeled
over" in a manner equally contaminating to her white paper sails and
unpleasant to her possible passengers. No doubt anxious eyes were meanwhile
glancing out of the windows, between two leaves of the geography which
detailed the perils of navigation in the East Indian archipelago, to see
whether piratical canoes or pirogues did not put off to burn that noble
vessel and massacre her crew, before noon should give time for any further
efforts towards her release. Here the course of this narration painfully
but necessarily loses sight of the good three-master "Snorter, of
Philadelphia," as many another of the fairy barks launched by inexperienced
youth disappears from view and is known no more forever; but let us hope
that this particular venture was floated off at some early "spring tide" of
play-spell, and that she "came safely to her desired haven!"

Within the little one-story school-house, with its unpainted desks and
benches of pine, dark with age and scarred by notch and inscription from
the penknives of half a century of school-boys,--there was going on, at
that moment, precisely what may be seen in any school from Windsor to
Washoe, when the ruling power is temporarily absent. Wilkie painted not
only from life, but from the inevitable in life, when he drew the "Village
School in an Uproar;" for mobs have been put down by the military power and
even savage communities have been made quiet by the exercise of
powder-and-ball; but no force has yet been discovered that could check (and
who would wish it to be entirely checked, after all?) the riotous mischief
of the school-room when the terrible eye is removed! Five minutes before,
Mistress Hood in the chair of authority, fifty heads of all hues and all
textures had been more or less closely bent down over book and slate, and a
low monotonous hum, something like the sleepy drone from a score of
bee-hives, had been heard floating out on the summer air. Now, Mistress
Kitty Hood had been just two minutes absent from the school-room, and a
nice little Pandemonium was already established, that it would need some
birchings and many strong words to annihilate. Half a dozen of the big boys
had gathered into a knot, not far from the door, and were snickering aloud
and pointing knowingly towards the point of interest without, with running
comments on "Miss Hood's beau!" Three little girls, forgetting their sex,
were playing at leap-frog between and over two of the benches, to the
disarrangement of their short skirts and the eventual tumbling over of one
of the benches with a loud clatter. Two or three of the larger girls were
in close conversation, about what there is no means of knowing except that
one of them remarked that "it was real indecent and she meant to tell her
ma!" One boy, who was the possessor of a magnificently national
handkerchief, had stuck it on the end of the long ruler from the mistress'
desk, and was going through a dress parade of one, with a feeble whistle as
music. A young brute was taking the opportunity of pinching the ear of a
smaller boy, and making him whimper, as a punishment for some previous
alleged injury. Another had made a pair of spectacles out of blue paper,
and stuck them on the nose of a little girl on one of the near benches, who
blushed so rosily that her white dress, blue spectacles and red face quite
supplied the national colors. And still another, with cheeks marvellously
distended, was trying whether he could, in the short space of time during
which the mistress might be absent, manage to choke down three early
harvest-apples without dying by strangulation or requiring any assistance
from his companions.

Such were the surroundings of the country school-house, and such was the
aspect of Kitty Hood's little school-room during her temporary absence. And
now what was the necessity which had for the moment withdrawn her from her
charge, and what was the provocation under which the words were uttered,
given at the commencement of this chapter?

Perhaps the personal appearance of Dick Compton may go at least a little
distance towards the explanation. As he stood kicking his foot against the
lower step of the school-house door and listening to the words of petulance
which his mistress so plentifully bestowed upon him, it was to be seen that
while his coat was a sack of ordinary light summer-stuff, looking civil and
homelike enough, his pants and cap were both gray and military, according
to the pattern of the Reserves. Under his arm he held a bundle which might
very easily have contained the coat necessary to make the uniform complete;
and such was, indeed, the composition of the parcel. Dick Compton, never
before connected with any military organization, had the night before
determined to abandon home and the girl he loved, leave other hands to
gather in the fast ripening harvest, intrust his favorite pair of
farm-horses to the care of his younger brother and the hands on the farm,
and make at least a small part of the response to the urgent call of
Governor Curtin. He had been down to the rendezvous, to sign the roll of
membership in the Reserves, and to get his uniform, that morning. He was to
leave with the regiment for Harrisburgh, that evening, and it was on his
way home to the pleasant farm-house lying a couple of miles northward and
across the main road leading up from Market street, that he had called at
the school-house to make his adieux to Kitty Hood, which seemed to be so
ungraciously received.

They were so indeed. Kitty, from the moment when Compton tapped at the door
and called her out amid the surprised glances and then the tittering of the
school-children--from the moment when she had observed his military cap and
pants--had understood the whole story and put herself not only on her
dignity but her unamiability. She had not smiled even once upon him, or
allowed him to take her hand, though he reached out for it; and though the
jolly round face of the school-mistress was not by any means the pattern of
countenance that could be made stupendously awful by the greatest amount
of effort, yet Kitty had done her best to be royal--not to say imperial. To
his explanations she had been worse than the traditional
"deaf"--insultingly interrupting; and to his asseverations that the country
needed the heart and the arm of every true man, she had answered with that
unromantic but unanswerable word: "fiddlestick!" She had tried wheedling,
coaxing, scolding, every thing but crying, in the effort to make him forego
his resolution and take off his name (supposing that he could do such a
thing) from the roll of the Reserves. She had no doubt, and expressed
herself to that effect, that if he went to Harrisburgh he would come back
in a coffin, all cut up into little bits by the savages, or not come back
at all and have his skull and bones used for a drinking cup and a few
necklaces by the women of Secessia, or come back in a condition worse than
either, with both legs cut off close up to the body, one arm gone and his
skull broken in, and a pretty thing for a respectable young woman to marry!

It was very well, for the sake of his adherence to his patriotic purpose,
that Dick Compton had in him that dash of bull-dog tenacity to which
allusion has before been made; for it is not every man to whom such words
of spiteful prophesy and determined discouragement, coming from the lips of
a pretty woman who made her own love the excuse for uttering them, would
have been without their effect. They might as well have been uttered to one
of the granite gods of old, as to Compton, so far as moving him to any
change of purpose was concerned; but his temper was by no means of as good
proof as his determination. In fact, Kitty Hood's spiteful expostulations
very soon made him ill-natured if not angry; and by the time the
culmination already recorded was reached, he was quite ready to say, in a
tone corresponding to her own:

"Well, I _will_ go, Kitty Hood, whether you like it or not. I was a fool
not to go away without walking a mile further to let you know any thing
about it."

"Nobody asked you!" was the petulant reply.

"Nobody _need_ to ask me, next time!" was the rejoinder. "I have a right to
be killed, if I please, and it is none of your business whether I am or
not. A pretty world it would be, with half of it made up of women too weak
and too cowardly to fight a cat, and the other half of men tied fast of
their apron strings, so that they had to ask every time they wanted to go
away, just as one of your little whelps of school-boys whines: 'Please to
let me go out!'"

Kitty Hood was finding a tongue quite as sharp as her own, by this time,
and the effect was very much what is often seen in corresponding cases.
Finding her lover growing as angry as herself, and a little more violent,
the young school-mistress concluded that it was time to assume a less
decided demeanor, so that if they must part they might do so without an
absolute quarrel.

"Well, Dick," she said, after a moment of pause, "there is no use of your
being angry about it!" Just as if she had not been showing ill-temper from
the beginning--the minx! "Of course I cannot hold you, and do not wish to
do so, if you prefer dressing yourself up in that ridiculous manner and
standing up to be shot at, to remaining here with _me_."

"I don't _prefer_ it, you know I don't, Kitty!" said Dick, aware that his
flank of conversation had once more been turned and himself placed in a
false position.

But here came an interruption. A young gentleman of seven made his
appearance in the door of the school-room, his hands blacker than the
proverbial ace-of-spades, his nether raiments spotted, and his face drawn
into a most comical whimper, while his words came out between a sob and a
hiccough:

"Please, Miss Hood, won't you come in to Jem Stephenson? He has gone and
upsot the inkstand all over my hands and spoilt my new trowsers!"

"Go in and keep your seat, you young villain, or I shall flog you and Jem
Stephenson both!" was the consoling assurance with which the "young
villain" departed; while the hum from the school-room was evidently
increasing, and the young school-mistress felt that she must indeed soon
resume the reins of government if she was not to be permanently left
without a realm worth ruling. But she took time to rejoin to Compton's last
assertion.

"I don't know any thing of the kind. I say that if you thought half as much
of me as you did of public opinion and making a show of your fine new
clothes, you would not stir one step."

"Now, Kitty, do be reasonable--" again began Compton.

"Look at other people--don't _they_ respect the wishes of those they expect
to marry?" the young lady went on, not heeding his last attempt.
"See--there is Carlton Brand--who does not know that he has remained at
home ever since the war broke out, though he could have been a Colonel and
perhaps even a General--just because he was really in love with Margaret
Hayley, and she did not wish him to leave her?"

It is scarcely necessary to say, at this stage of the narration, that Miss
Kitty Hood was "begging the question." She had never heard one word to
indicate why Carlton Brand had not accepted his opportunities, and she
merely mentioned the two as people of prominence in the section,
acquaintances, and the first pair of lovers of whom she happened to think.
But she had made a terrible blunder, as many of us do at the very moment
when we seem to be performing the very keenest of operations. Carlton
Brand--one of the finest-looking men to be found within a radius of an
hundred miles, a member of one of the liberal professions, and known to be
wealthy enough to afford indulgence in any line of life which he might
happen to fancy--was naturally an object of envy if not of suspicion to
hundreds of other young men who did not feel that they possessed quite the
same advantages. Young farmers, who chanced to catch him saying a polite
word to their sisters, looked at him through eyes not too confiding, in
spite of the fact that not even rumor had pointed out a single instance in
which he had indulged in a dishonorable amour; and those who detected him
in glances of kindness (perhaps of admiration) towards demoiselles whom
they had marked out as their own destined marital property, had a bad habit
of even looking out of the corners of their eyes and scowling a little, at
such manifestations. Carlton Brand, in all this, was only paying a very
slight penalty for his triple advantage of wealth, position and good looks,
while many others pay the same unpleasant toll to society for the
possession of even one (and sometimes none) of the three favors of fortune.

The farm-house of the Comptons and the residence of the Brands (as will be
hereafter made apparent) lay but a very short distance apart; and the
little house (perhaps it might with more propriety have been called a
cottage) in which Kitty Hood had seen the light, and where she lived with
her quiet widowed mother, was still nearer to the abode of the young
lawyer. Though the Hoods were much more humbly circumstanced than their
neighbors, intercourse between the two families had always been frequent,
with a very pleasant friendship between Elsie and Kitty, and more visits of
the young girl at the residence of the Brands, and of Carlton, accompanying
his sister, to that of the Hoods, than at all pleased the lover and
expectant husband of Kitty. Then the latter had a head a little giddy and a
tongue more than a little imprudent; and she had shown the bad taste, many
times since their tacit engagement, to draw comparisons, in the presence of
her lover, to his disadvantage, and in favor of a man who had much better
opportunities than the farmer for keeping his clothes unimpeachable, his
hands unsoiled, and his cheek unbrowned. Only very imprudent people, and
perhaps very unfeeling ones, use such words; but they are used much too
often, ignoring the pure gold that may lie within a rough nugget, and
preferring the mere tinsel leaf on a bit of handsome carving. Kitty Hood
was one of the thoughtless, and she was likely, some day, to pay the
penalty in a manner she little anticipated.

Within the few weeks previous, without Kitty being at all aware of the
fact, Mr. Dick Compton had allowed himself to ruminate more than was
healthy upon the glances he had chanced to see interchanged between Kitty
and her "stuck-up lawyer friend," as he chose to designate him, and upon
the continual commendations which she chose to bestow on the latter--until
rooted personal dislike and something very near to positive jealousy, had
been the result. Walking over towards the rendezvous that morning, if one
shadow of hesitation on the subject of going to Harrisburgh had passed
through the mind of the young farmer, it was caused by his dislike of
leaving Kitty out of view, with Carlton Brand in the same near
neighborhood. All that difficulty had been removed by the understanding
that the lawyer was to leave at the same time and on the same service with
himself; but when Kitty at once revived the obnoxious name with a new
phrase of commendation, and signified that the section was not to be
relieved of the lawyer's presence during his own absence, it is not very
strange that the unreasonable demons of jealousy began tugging again at his
heart-strings, and that he felt like performing some severe operation upon
the Mordecai who sat in his gate, if he could only catch him!

"So you have got to quoting Carlton Brand again, have you!" he responded to
Miss Kitty's citation. "I thought I had told before that I had heard nearly
enough of that proud puppy!"

"'Puppy' indeed!" and Miss Kitty fired in an instant. "He's nothing of the
kind, but a man and a gentleman, and you know it, Dick Compton!"

"Oh, yes, a _gentleman_, and that suits you to a turn, Kitty Hood!" was the
sneering reply. "When your _gentlemen_ are in the way, you think that an
honest hard-working man is nobody."

If ever a man spoke an unjust word to a woman (and it is to be feared that
a great many have been uttered since the unfortunate gift of speech was
conferred upon the race), Dick Compton was stupidly unjust at that moment.
For the very quarrel (it was but little else, from first to last) in which
they were engaged, had originated in the young girl's evident anxiety for
his safety and pleading that he would not go away and leave her, even for a
short period! Kitty Hood felt the injustice, if he did not, and all the old
rage came back again, in a varied form, but hotter than ever. Her eyes
flashed, she choked for a moment, and then, before Dick Compton could be at
all aware what was about to happen, the school-mistress drew her little
white hand back and brought him a ringing box on the ear and cheek, that
the latter would not be very likely to forget for a fortnight,--while she
flashed out:

"Dick Compton, just take that for a fool! You are not worth any honest
woman's loving, with your mean jealousy. You can go where you please, and I
will never speak to you again until you learn better manners than to talk
to _me_ in that manner!"

Before the jealous lover had half recovered from the blow she stepped away
from him and put her foot on the sill of the door, to re-enter. Compton,
spite of the tingle in his cheek, did not quite believe in the propriety of
parting in that manner, when he was just going to the war; and he made a
step towards her.

"Kitty!--oh, now, Kitty--"

"Keep off, Dick Compton! Good-day and good-bye, and nobody cares where you
go or how long you stay!" was the forbidding rejoinder, as the
school-mistress swung herself round the jamb of the door and half
disappeared. Her blood was at fever heat: that of her lover was likely to
be at the same pitch in a moment.

"You won't come back, then?"

"No, I won't!"

"Then I will tell you something, Kitty Hood!" and the young man was very
angry and very earnest when he made the threat. "If I can catch Carlton
Brand before I go away to-night, I will just flog him till he is the
nearest to a dead man _you_ ever saw,--and see how you both like it!"

Without another word the young farmer turned and strode round the corner of
the school-house with his bundle and his indignation, making hasty strides
up the hill and towards the woods that lay in the direction of his home.
Kitty Hood saw thus much, and realized that very probably she was looking
at him for the last time. Then she realized, too, what she had scarcely
felt before--that she had been terribly to blame in the quarrel--that she
might have been wrecking the happiness of a life by her ill-temper--and
that it would never do to let poor Dick go away to the war, so angry at her
that if killed his last thought would be upon every one else rather than
her, and that if he returned he would never come near her again--never!
Then poor Kitty dropped her head upon her desk, heedless of the only
partially-hushed Pandemonium around her and the necessity of settling with
Master Jem Stephenson, spiller of ink and others,--dropped her head upon
her desk and sobbed loudly enough for some of the children to be quite
aware of the fact, so that one of the little boys hazarded the remark,
_sotto voce_: "Wonder what is the matter with her!" and a bigger one
enlightened his ignorance with: "Why, didn't you see? Her beau has got on
sojer clothes and is going away--stupid!"

Only a minute or two, and then Kitty Hood could endure the struggle no
longer. She was very unhappy and not a little penitent. She _could_ not
remain any longer in the midst of those noisy children: she _must_ go home
(or elsewhere) and see what facilities fate might yet throw in her way for
seeing and speaking once more to her angry lover before his departure.
Perhaps she could even find some means, still, for inducing him to remain,
and then----. And at that thought the school-mistress raised her head,
informed her school that she had a bad headache and must go home to bed,
and dismissed them for a half-holiday.

Whereupon one of the larger girls, who had seen the lover go away, without
hearing any of the parting words, and who thought that she understood all
about the affair, remarked to one of her companions that: "That was real
nice, and she thought all the better of Miss Hood for it!" while one of the
larger boys, unawake as yet to any of the softer feelings, bawled out to
his mates that: "Miss Hood was going to see her old beau off--ki-yah!" It
is painful to be obliged to say, justifying previously-expressed
apprehension, that even the stranded vessel was forgotten in the haste with
which the school separated, and that all the imaginary pirates of the
Society, the Friendly and various other islands that maintained every thing
else rather than friendly society for sailors, had at least one day more of
chance at her with their canoes and pirogues.

Her scholars dismissed, Kitty Hood took time to wash and cool her eyes and
to smooth her hair, for a moment, at the little wash-closet in one corner
of the school-room--then flung on her light bonnet and gauzy mantle and
took her way, walking somewhat rapidly in spite of the heat of the coming
noon, along the path that led around the base of the hill north-westward
towards the residence of Carlton and Elsie Brand.

Mr. Richard Compton had meanwhile been walking yet more rapidly, with his
bundle under his arm, up the path leading over the hill, almost due north,
and through the belt of woods discernible from the school-house. Whether
the increasing heat of the day added to the heat of his temper is
uncertain; but certain it is that he did not at all cool down under it. He
had the excuse of being the party _last_ ill-used, if not indeed the party
_first_ so treated. He loved Kitty Hood beyond all reason, and he was of
course the person most likely to grow angry at her and jealous of her,
beyond all endurance. He felt that he could not worse punish her, or better
satisfy himself, than by carrying out his threat and soundly flogging
Carlton Brand if he should once catch him under proper circumstances; he
had no doubt whatever of his ability to flog him or "any other man," when
he once set about the task; and while surmounting the hill, and even after
plunging into the cool, thick, leafy woods, full of the twitter of birds
and the fragrance of June blossoms, which should have had the power to
soften passion in the breast of any man who held a true sympathy with
Nature, his mental fists were clenched and his teeth set in a manner most
threatening for any opposing force with which he might happen to be brought
into contact.

That "opposing force" was much nearer than the young man at the moment
imagined. He was just emerging by the path to the main road which he was to
cross, half a mile before reaching his own farm, when he saw a horseman
riding rapidly up from the eastward. Intersecting the path just where it
joined the road, was a blind road leading through the woods across toward
the Darby, and closed at the entrance by a swinging gate. There was a low
panel near it, and the young farmer leaped it in preference to unfastening
the clumsy latch--finding himself, when beyond the fence, in the presence
of Carlton Brand, who had just reined in his horse at the gate. Whatever
there may have been in the face of the horseman at that moment, within a
few minutes after his leaving the presence of Margaret Hayley and his
sister, the eyes of Dick Compton were not sufficiently keen to recognize
it. He only saw the handsome, proud-looking young lawyer, and his old
antipathy rose, with the remembrance of the threat he had just used,
accompanying it. Carlton Brand saw nothing more in the face of the young
farmer than he had been accustomed to see, and accosted him as he might
have done any other acquaintance, under the same circumstances, with a
request for a slight service.

"Ah, Compton, is that you?--just be kind enough to throw open that gate for
me, will you?"

"No--I'll not do any thing of the kind. If you want the gate open, just
get off and open it yourself!" was the surly reply, very much to the
astonishment of the lawyer. His face paled a little, then flushed, and he
hesitated for an instant before he asked:

"What do you mean, Richard Compton, by answering me in that manner?"

"What I say!" answered Compton, quite as insolently as before. "You are a
puppy, Carlton Brand, and I have half a mind to take you off that horse and
flog you soundly, instead of opening a gate for you."

"The d----l you have!" was the very natural reply. "Well, Dick Compton, I
do not know what it is all about, but you are behaving very much like a
ruffian, to a man who has never done any thing worse to you than to treat
you like a gentleman."

"You lie, Carlton Brand, and you know it!" was the response.

"I lie, do I?" and the speaker shifted a little uneasily in his saddle,
though he made no apparent movement to alight.

"Yes, you lie!" said Compton, his voice thick and hoarse with agitation and
anger. "And if you will get off that horse I will teach you a lesson about
meddling with other people's property, that you will remember for a
twelvemonth."

If Carlton Brand's face expressed intense surprise, it was certainly
nothing more than he felt; for what the "meddling with other people's
property" could mean, except that he might unwittingly have run across some
interest of Compton's in the pursuit of his profession, he had no more idea
than he could have had of the number of trees in the adjoining wood or the
depth of soil on which his horse was standing. Yet he threw his leg at once
over the saddle, at the last salutation, sprang to the ground, flung his
bridle over one of the posts near the gate, and said:

"Now then!"

In an instant and without another word, Dick Compton, who had dropped his
bundle as the other dismounted, sprang at him, fury in his face and the
clench of determined hostility in every nerve. Probably no battle on earth
was ever fought so singularly--the one combatant without the least cause
for his rage, and the other not even acquainted with the accusation made
against him. They seemed not badly matched, in physical force, though any
connoisseur of the exclusively muscular would have considered Compton
likely to be by far the most enduring. He was fifteen or twenty pounds the
heavier, and fully trained by field labor; Brand two or three inches the
taller, athletic, and a little the longer armed.

Half a dozen blows were rapidly exchanged, before either succeeded in
breaking the guard of the other. Then Compton managed to reach the lawyer's
cheek, with a blow of some violence that probably stung within quite as
much as it did without. At all events it brought a new color to his face,
and from that instant he was cool no longer. He struck out more rapidly and
angrily, and Compton followed his motion. In less than a minute half a
dozen blows had reached the faces and bodies of each, and there was a
probability that, whatever the event of the fight, both would be injured as
well as disfigured. Suddenly, the instant after, as Compton aimed a
well-directed blow at the throat of his antagonist, that he believed would
entirely settle the affair, something happened, upon which he had not
calculated. Whether his blow was entirely fended he did not know; but what
he did know, so far as he knew any thing, was that Carlton Brand's right
fist, dashed out with a force little less formidable than the kick of an
iron-shod horse, struck him on the left of the nose and the cheek
adjoining, sending a perfect gore of blood spouting over face and clothing,
and throwing him reeling backward, stunned and half senseless, to the
earth,--the fight over, so far as he was to bear any part in it.

There was only a little sensation left in poor Compton at that juncture,
but that little cried out against being beaten down in such a manner by a
man whom he had before considered his inferior in muscular power, and whom
he had set out to flog. The bull-dog within him wished to rise and make
another effort, but for a moment his eyes _would not_ open and his head
would not clear sufficiently for him to make any effort at regaining his
lost perpendicular. When he thought he heard a groan and a loud "thud" on
the ground, and he did manage to struggle to a sitting position, the sight
that met his eyes was nearly sufficient to drive him back into his partial
insensibility, amazement and horror being about equally compounded in the
spectacle. Carlton Brand lay at length on the ground, his face set in a
frightful spasm, a thin white froth issuing from the set lips, the eyes
closed, and not even a quiver of motion in the limbs. Dick Compton sprang
up, then, with a supernatural energy born of absolute fright, and bent over
his prostrate antagonist. To all appearance he was dead!--dead as if he had
been lying there for the last century! The frightened farmer put his hand
to his temples, his pulses and his heart, and found no motion whatever.
Then the dreadful fear took possession of him that his own last blow, which
he remembered aiming at the throat of the other, might have taken effect
there at the same moment when he was himself struck and prostrated--that
some vital part of the throat might have been touched and death instantly
ensued!

To say that Dick Compton was frightened and even horrified at this
unexpected issue of the pugilistic combat which he had forced, is indeed to
put the case very mildly. He was literally paralyzed, for the moment, with
consternation. What was his fate?--to be a homicide! And--good God!--here
another thought took possession of him. He had left Kitty Hood at the
school-house, only a little while before, himself angry and in a dangerous
mood, and with his last words threatening personal violence against Carlton
Brand! If he should be dead--and there seemed to be no hope to the
contrary--what words of his could ever persuade the school-mistress that he
had not entertained enough of jealousy and anger against the lawyer to
desire his death?--and how far would not Kitty's evidence go in proving
before a criminal court that he was an intentional murderer?

Such reflections are not pleasant, to say the least! A very few of them go
a great way in a man's life. Those who have been placed, even for one
moment, in the belief that they have suddenly become homicides, need not be
told how far beyond all other horrors is the feeling: those who have missed
the sensation, may thank God with all reverence for having spared them one
of the untold agonies which belong only to the damned!

Dick Compton was not one of the most delicate of men, either in action or
perception, but he was a good fellow in the main, with quite enough of
intuition to foresee the worst perils of a situation, and with quite enough
of presence of mind to act quickly in a desperate emergency. There was yet
no breath or motion in the prostrate man: he would die very soon if not
already dead: something might yet be done for him: but that something, if
done at all, must be done at once. Besides, if death should prove to be
real, he would himself be a little better circumstanced if found trying to
preserve the life of his antagonist, than if discovered to have let him die
without effort. A mile to the westward, and at the side of the very road at
the edge of which he was standing, was the residence of one of the two
doctors of the immediate section, and medical assistance might be procured,
with the aid of the fallen man's horse, in a brief period.

With this thought in mind, and in far less time after the occurrence of the
catastrophe than it has needed to put it upon record, Dick Compton had
unfastened the horse of Carlton Brand from the post, swung himself into the
saddle, and was galloping away westward, a little doubtful in mind whether
he was indeed going after a doctor or looking for a convenient gallows and
a hangman,--and wishing, from the bottom of his soul, that he had never
entertained quite so good an opinion of his personal prowess as that which
had led him into such a terrible position. Once, as he galloped on, he
caught sight of his new military trowsers, and found himself thinking
whether, when they hung soldiers, they allowed them to retain their uniform
or subjected them to the degrading alternative of the prison gray! And that
is all, of the very peculiar reflections of Mr. Dick Compton as he sped
away after the doctor, that needs to be put upon record.

Kitty Hood, meanwhile, leaving the school-house perhaps ten minutes after
her lover, had sped along the path at the base of the woods, intent on
going over to the residence of the Brands and seeking advice, if not
assistance, from Elsie, in her dilemma. She had quite overcome her anger,
now, and taken into her young heart a full supply of that which very often
follows the former--anxiety; and her feet moved as glibly, in the better
cause of reconciliation, as her tongue had done not long before in a very
unreasonable lovers' quarrel.

The path she was pursuing would have led her out to the main road, which
she must cross to reach the Brands', some half a mile further west than the
point at which the gate gave access to the blind road through the wood. But
there was a little spot of marshy ground before reaching the road; she
remembered that her shoes were thin and that wet feet were disagreeable
even in June, and as a consequence she struck into a cross path which
intersected the blind road and would bring her out at the gate. As a
secondary consequence, she followed that road and came out a minute after
at the gate, to open it without observing what lay beyond, and to start
back with a scream of affright as she saw the body of Carlton Brand lying
on the green sward without, his face still set in that terrible contortion,
and the rigidity of death alike in limb and feature.

The young girl had seen but little of death, and not yet learned to regard
it rather as a deliverance than otherwise; and in any shape it frightened
her. How natural, then, that she should regard it with peculiar horror when
she came upon it alone, by a wood-side, and in the person of an
acquaintance equally admired and respected! But what must have been her
feelings when, the moment after, and before she had commanded herself
sufficiently to do more than utter that single scream of terror, she saw a
bundle lying near the apparently dead man, saw blood staining one of his
hands and the grass beside him, and recognized the bundle as the same she
had seen, not half an hour before, under the arm of Richard Compton!

If that unfortunate young man, on discovering the supposed extent of his
mishap, had remembered the threat against the lawyer made but a little
while before to Kitty, how did that threat spring into her mind on seeing
the blood and recognizing the bundle! Murder, beyond a doubt, and Dick
Compton the murderer! The two had met, accidentally, had quarrelled, had
clenched, and in that clench her lover had forgotten all except his
jealousy and fear of the lawyer, and had killed him outright! Oh, here was
trouble, indeed, to which that of a few moments previous had been but the
merest shadow! Dick would be arrested, tried, imprisoned, perhaps hung; and
_she_ would be obliged to give the fatal evidence that must seal his doom!
Terrible indeed--most terrible!--the thought culminating in such mental
suffering that the poor girl scarcely knew whether she was treading upon
earth or air, as she took one more look upon the motionless form, the
blood, and the accusing bundle that lay beside--then turned her back with a
shudder upon all, crossed the road and hastened over the fields beyond, by
a bye-path that would lead her to the home of the murdered man--her errand
now, and her reason for haste, how different from what it had been when
walking towards, the same destination but a few moments before!



CHAPTER IV.

     THE RESIDENCE OF THE BRANDS--ROBERT BRAND AND DR. PHILIP
     POMEROY--RADICAL AND COPPERHEAD--A PASSAGE-AT-ARMS THAT
     ENDED IN A QUARREL--ELSPETH GRAEME THE HOUSEKEEPER--THE
     SHADOW OF SHAME--FATHER AND DAUGHTER--THE FALLING OF A
     PARENT'S CURSE.


Half a mile northward from the Market street road which has already been
before so many times alluded to--on the north side of that road and at the
distance of a mile westward from the Hayley residence, was located that
before mentioned as the abode of the Brands. It was a fine old house, built
fifty or sixty years before, but within a few years repaired and rebuilt
with a lavish disregard of cost, a railed promenade having been added at
the apex of the steep roof, the whole two stories of height re-enclosed,
the windows and doors comparatively modernized, the piazzas remodelled and
widened, and all done that the carpenter's art could well be expected to
achieve, to add to the comfort and durability of the mansion without
destroying the appearance of respectable age which it had already put on.
The house stood facing southward upon nearly level ground, the lawn in
front of good depth and thickly dotted with forest and other shade trees
that had evidently known all the years of the building; while from the
eastern side a narrow lane ran down to the road and afforded ingress and
egress to carriages passing back towards the handsomely-grouped range of
outbuildings in the rear. Adjoining this lane and behind the house was a
large garden, with grape trellises and many of the appliances of luxury in
horticulture.

At the eastern end of the piazza a broad single door opened into the
somewhat antiquated hall; and from that hall a door opened into a parlor
fitted up with every appliance of convenience that could be needed in such
a country residence. Behind that parlor another door opened into a smaller
apartment correspondingly fitted but with more of those belongings
calculated to show its constant occupancy; and from that rear room still
another door opening to the left disclosed a bed-room of comfortable
appearance and tasteful arrangement. On the other side of the hall the
dining and domestic apartments stretched away, while the spacious upper
story supplied rooms to other members of the family.

It was very evident, at a glance, that wealth presided over the modernized
old house, and that good taste was not forgotten; and yet an impression
could not well be avoided that there must be something of severity, and
repugnance to ornament, conjoined with the wealth. Poverty, or even
struggling pride, would not have afforded so much of the best: warm taste
and lavish liberality would have supplied something more of the costly and
the luxurious.

In the second of the rooms mentioned--that immediately in the rear of the
parlor, two persons were in conversation at about noon of the same day of
the occurrences previously recorded. The one, sitting in an easy-chair with
his right leg raised and resting upon another chair crowned with a
pillow,--was apparently sixty-five to seventy years of age; tall, if his
proportions could properly be judged as he sat, with a figure that must
have been robust in its time; the hair so nearly white as to preclude any
idea of the color which it might have worn in earlier days; the face well
cut and even handsome for its age, though with a shade of severity in the
firm nose and shaven lips, which under some circumstances might grow
threatening; but any accurate judgment of his character rendered difficult,
by the look of pain stamped upon his face by evident bodily suffering.
Resting against a small table partially covered with bandages and
embrocations, was a stout cane, indicating both that the invalid was in the
habit of using a support of that character, and that he could not, even
now, be entirely confined to his chair. Such was Robert Brand, owner of
the mansion into which we have been introduced, and father of two children
apparently as little alike in nature as in sex--Carlton and Elsie Brand.

The second figure was quite as well deserving of notice as the old man in
his easy-chair. Doctor Philip Pomeroy, who was at that moment pacing up and
down the room without any apparent cause for that violent exercise in warm
weather, was a man in whom the acute physiognomist might have found
something illustrated by that seemingly listless motion--something
possessed in common by restless men, in the superior animal kingdom, and
those bears and hyenas which seem to traverse a great many unnecessary
miles in travelling up and down the bars of their cages, in the inferior.
And yet the doctor could not have been called, with any propriety, an
"animal-looking man"--it was the motion which supplied the comparison. He
was apparently forty-five to fifty, tall and slight figured, with face
clean shaven except a heavy dark moustache, features a little aquiline and
decidedly sharp lips that suggested an occasional sneer and a word cutting
like a scimetar, eyes of keen scintillant dark brown or black, and rather
long dark straight hair through which the threads of silver began to show
more as an ornament than a disadvantage. A very fine looking man--a man of
undoubted power and will--a man who had evidently enjoyed the most
favorable associations; and yet how nearly a man to be either braved or
trusted without reserve, it might have needed Lavater's self to decide on a
brief acquaintance. That same Lavater, if acquainted with the peculiarities
of road turn-outs, would have decided one point, at least, from the vehicle
that stood in the lane, near the door--no clumsy and cumbersome gig,
weighing an indefinite number of tons and set down as the proper conveyance
for doctors from the day when the first one grew too lazy to walk,--but a
light, sporting-looking buggy, seated for one, and suggesting fast driving
quite as much as the high-blooded, thorough-bred bay that champed his bit
before it and stamped impatiently for the coming of his master.

From the medical character of the visitor and the disabled appearance of
the man in the easy-chair, it might have been concluded that the call was a
professional one; and such was indeed the fact. An injury to the right limb
of Robert Brand, received many years before, had a habit of asserting
itself at uncertain periods, crippling him materially all the while, and at
those particular times throwing him into all those agonies indifferently
known as the pangs of neuralgia and inflammatory rheumatism. At such
periods, the traditional character of the "gouty old Admiral" of the
English stage, always limping and thumping a heavy cane, and nearly always
venting words more forcible than polite, was very nearly illustrated in the
old gentleman, his desire for active motion being generally in an inverse
ratio to the power of movement. Dr. Pomeroy, one of the most skilful of the
physicians of the section, and a man in very extensive practice, was always
his medical adviser at such times, and re-directed the application of those
warm flannels and neutralizing embrocations which constituted all that even
science could do for the alleviation of his sufferings, and about which old
Elspeth the housekeeper knew a good deal more, all the while, than any
physician could possibly do. For the three days previous, Robert Brand had
been suffering to a most painful degree, and this was the third of the
daily visits of the doctor.

But whatever might have been the professional character of the visit, it
had, before the moment when our attention is called to the two
interlocutors, lost any feature which could have marked it as such. Robert
Brand was a patriot, almost equally warm-hearted and hot-headed in the type
of his attachment to his country; while Dr. Pomeroy was one of those
quasi-loyalists, popularly called "Copperheads," who have the love of
country quite as often on their lips as the most unshrinking war-advocate
can do, but who prefer to show that love by objecting to every effort made
for the preservation of nationality, by denouncing, in every nine words out
of ten, something done by the loyal government, while only the poor tenth
is kept for a wail over the unfortunate character of the "civil war,"--and
by undervaluing every success won by the Union arms, while every momentary
advantage gained by the rebels is correspondingly magnified. He seemed to
take particular delight, always, in tormenting the old gentleman just to
the verge of a positive rupture without quite causing one; and just now, in
the advance of the rebel forces into Pennsylvania, he found a golden
opportunity.

"Bah!" he said, in response to a strongly patriotic expression of his
patron, which had led him to bring down one of his hands upon the disabled
leg with a force causing a new tingle in that limb and a new expression of
agony upon his face--"bah! All you hot-headed people, young and old, use
just such language, all the while. It amounts to nothing, except that
perhaps it eases your minds. Saying that 'the Union must and shall be
preserved,' and prophesying all kinds of good things for the nation, amount
to but very little while a set of incapables sit filling their pockets at
Washington (more than half of them traitors, in my opinion), while the army
is worse mismanaged than it could be if a set of school-boys led it, and
while the enemies you affect to despise are really winning every thing and
overrunning the whole country."

"Out upon you, Dr. Pomeroy!" cried the old man, angrily. "You dare to call
yourself a patriot, and talk in that manner! There are plenty of fools at
Washington, but I would rather see fools there than traitors! If you are
not a perfect block-head, you know that the rebels have lost twice as much
as they have gained, within the past year, and that if the fight goes on in
the same manner for one year more, the miserable mongrel concern will die
of its own weakness! But you do not _want_ it to die--that is just what
ails _you_!--you would rather see Jeff Davis in the Capitol than any loyal
man who would not give all the offices to your miserable broken-down
party!"

"And you would rather see the whole country lying in ruins, with heaps of
dead everywhere and the few who remain starving to death in the midst of
them, than that the country should be in any other hands than those of your
friends who do nothing else than talk about the nigger, legislate for the
nigger, and fight for the nigger!" answered the doctor, still continuing
his walk, and his face showing decided temper.

"It is false, and you know it, Philip Pomeroy!" said the invalid, with a
motion of his hand towards the big cane, which indicated that he would have
liked to use it by breaking it over the doctor's head.

"It is true, and _you_ know it, Robert Brand!" replied the doctor, whose
temper seemed to return to its equanimity the moment he had succeeded in
throwing his patient into a sufficient rage. "But you need not take so much
pains to conceal your opinions, old gentleman! _I_ don't! If the country is
to lie under the control of men who only legislate and fight for the
nigger, who trample upon the Constitution and fill Fort McHenry and Fort
Lafayette and Fort Warren with better men than themselves, who do not
happen to think and act precisely as _they_ do,--why, the sooner that Jeff
Davis, or any one else, gets possession, the better for all concerned."

"Doctor Pomeroy, you ought to be taken and hung, with the other traitors,
and I shouldn't much mind having a pull at the rope!" broke out the old
man, now almost entirely beside himself with indignation.

"Oh, I know that!" answered the doctor, whose temper was still visibly
improving as that of his patient grew worse. "Any of your abolition pack
would have helped to hang every democrat, long ago, if they had only
_dared_! The only trouble is that they did not do it while they had the
opportunity. Now it is too late. You daren't open the doors of your
State-prisons any more, unless it is to let somebody _out_! And before many
days some of you will sing a different tune--take my word for it. Some of
you radicals, even here at Philadelphia, will try to make the Confederate
leaders believe that you have been the truest friends of the South, all the
while."

"What do you mean, you scoundrel?" asked the old gentleman, whose harsh
words to a man somewhat younger than himself appeared to be fully
understood and not taken in quite the sense which they might have borne to
other ears.

"I mean that Lee will take Harrisburgh, and that next he will take
Philadelphia; then--"

"Take Purgatory! He can never take Harrisburgh, let alone Philadelphia!"

"He can and will take it! What is to hinder him?"

"Just what has hindered his taking Washington, any time the last two
years--better troops than his own, and more of them."

"Sheep before butchers'-dogs! The men of the North have never gone into the
war at all, and they never will go. That scum which you call an army cannot
fight the earnest and determined men of the South, and you ought to know
it. Within a week Lee will be in Philadelphia, and then we will see about
the change of tune!"

"Within a week, if he dares advance, he will be eaten up by the State
militia alone, even if the Army of the Potomac does not save them the
trouble!" said the old man.

"The Army of the Potomac has been good for nothing ever since Hooker
blundered its last opportunity away at Chancellorsville!" retorted the
physician. "The army has no confidence in _him_, and the country has no
confidence either in him or the army. The State militia will vigorously
stay at home, or they will behave so badly after they go out, that they had
much better kept where nobody saw them! Oh, by the way!--" and the face of
the doctor lit up with a new expression. A sneer settled itself upon his
well-formed lips, and there came into his scintillant eyes a gleam of
deadly dislike which boded no good to the subject of which he was about to
speak. He might have been only half in earnest, before, while driving the
old man wild with his Copperhead banter; but he was certainly interested in
what he was about to say, now!

"Well?" asked the patient, querulously, as he saw that some new topic was
to interlard that which had already been so unpleasant.

"That State militia you were talking about," said the doctor. "Your son was
expected to take up his old commission and go out with one of the
regiments, was he not?"

"He was not only expected to do so, but he has done so!" answered the
father, with love and pride in his eyes. "Not all the people in the country
are either Copperheads or cowards, doctor; and I am proud to tell you that
if _I_ am too old and too much crippled to take part in the battles of my
country, or even to get up and break my cane over your head when you insult
the very name of patriotism,--I have a son who when his opportunity comes
can do the one and will do the other!"

"When his 'opportunity' comes!" echoed the doctor, sneeringly.

"Yes, his opportunity!" re-echoed the father, who felt that there was
something invidious in the tone, though he could not read that face which
might have given him a better clue to the character of the man with whom he
was dealing. "My son has been too much hampered with business before, to
accept any of the chances which have been offered him; but now that his
native State is invaded, business is thrown by and you will find him, sir,
keeping up the honor of the name."

"Humph!" said the doctor, pausing in his walk and for some unexplainable
reason going to the window and looking out; so that he stood with his back
to the old gentleman. "Where is your son, now?"

"Where? Gone down to the rendezvous to take his commission, of course, as I
understand that the troops will leave to-night."

"Humph!" once more said the doctor, in the same insolent tone and retaining
his position at the window. "And yet I happen to know that your son has
discovered some new '_business_,' (with a terribly significant emphasis on
the last word) and that he is not going one step with the regiment."

"Dr. Pomeroy, I know better!" was the reply.

"Mr. Brand, I know what I am talking about, a good deal better than you
imagine!" sneered the doctor, who having by that time managed to get his
face into that shape which he had no objection to being seen by his
patient, now turned about and faced him, with his hands under the tails of
his coat.

"_What_ do you know?" was the inquiry, a little trouble blending with the
anxiety in the face.

"Well, I will tell you, as perhaps you may as well learn the fact from me
as from any one else," answered the doctor, his tones now very smooth, and
his manner almost deferential, as should be the demeanor of any man towards
his victim at the moment of stabbing him under the fifth rib. "I had
occasion to call at the armory of the Reserves, an hour or two ago, to set
the broken arm of one of the fellows who had taken too much Monongahela in
anticipation of his start, and fallen down-stairs. I learned there and
then, with some surprise and not a little grief (the father ought to have
caught the expression of his face at that moment, and thereby measured the
"grief" indicated!) that Mr. Carlton Brand had been down at the armory,
alleged his _business_ to be such that he could not possibly leave the
city, and declined any further connection whatever with the regiment."

"It is impossible!" said the father.

"It is true, however, like a good many impossible things!" again sneered
the physician. "And I have been thinking whether some others of members of
the State militia would not be found like your amiable son--too _busy_ to
pay any attention to the defence of the State!"

"Dr. Pomeroy!" said the father, after one moment of almost stupefied
silence. "Dr. Pomeroy, you have not been friends with my son for a long
time, and I know it, though I do not know what could have caused any
disagreement. But I do not suppose you would deliberately tell a falsehood
about him that could be detected in half an hour; and I want to know what
there is hidden in your words, more than you have chosen to convey."

"You had better ask your son when he comes!" was the reply.

"No--I ask _you, now_, and I think you had better answer me!" said the old
man.

"Well, then," answered the doctor, "if you insist upon it, my love for the
young man is not so warm as to give me a great deal of pain in the telling,
and you may know all you wish. Your son has been doubted a little, ever
since the breaking out of the war, from his repeated refusals of positions
in the army; and--"

"The man who says that my son is disloyal, lies!" cried the old man,
interrupting him. "You, or any other man!"

"It was not on the ground of his _disloyalty_ that he was suspected!"
sneered the doctor.

"And what ground then?" asked the father, his face and his whole manner
showing something terrible within that could be only partially suppressed.

"The ground of his _cowardice_, since you will have it!" spoke the doctor,
in such a tone of fiendish exultation as Mephistopheles may have used to
Faust, at the moment of assuring him that the last hope of happiness on
earth or pardon from heaven had been swept away in the slaughter of
Valentine and the moral murder of Marguerite. "There is not an officer in
the Reserves, who heard him refuse to join the regiment this morning, but
believes him--yes, _knows_ him, to be an arrant poltroon."

"Doctor Philip Pomeroy, you are a liar as well as a traitor and a
scoundrel! If I had two legs, and still was, as I am, old enough to be your
father, you would not leave this house without broken bones! Get out of it,
send me your bill to-morrow, or even to-day, and never let me see you set
foot in it again while I live!"

The face of the old man was fearful, at that juncture. In spite of the pain
of his disabled limb, he had grasped his cane and struggled to a standing
position, before concluding his violent words; and as he concluded, passion
overcame all prudence, and the heavy cane went by the doctor's head,
crashing through the window and taking its way out into the garden, at the
same moment when his limb gave way and he sunk back into his chair with a
groan that was almost a shriek, clutching at the bell-rope that hung near
him and nearly tearing it from its fastenings.

Dr. Pomeroy said not another word, whatever he might have felt. He had
dodged the flying cane, by not more than an inch, and such chances are not
likely to improve the temper of even the most amiable. For one instant
there was something in his face that might have threatened personal revenge
of the violence as well as the unpardonable words, in spite of the
difference of age: then the sneer crept over his face again, he stepped out
through the parlor into the hall, took his hat, and the next moment was
bowling down the lane into the road, behind his fast-trotting bay. It
seemed likely that his last professional visit to the Brands had been paid,
even if it had not yet been paid for!

The terrible appeal of the master of the house to the bell-rope at his hand
was answered the moment after by the appearance of a woman of so remarkable
an aspect as to be worthy of quite as much attention as either of the
personages who have before been called, in the same room, to the reader's
attention. Her dress was that of a housekeeper or upper servant, though the
height of her carriage and the erectness of her figure might have stamped
her as an empress. And in truth that figure did not need any such
extraordinary carriage to develop it, for, as compared with the ordinary
stature of woman, it was little else than gigantic. The man who built a
door for Elspeth Graeme, less than six feet in the clear, subjected her to
imminent danger of bringing up with a "bump" every time she entered it; and
her broad, square, bony figure showed that all the power of her frame had
not been frittered away in length. Her hands were large and masculine,
though by no means ill-shaped, and her foot had not only the tread supposed
to belong to that of the coarser sex, but very nearly its size. In face she
was broad yet still longer of feature, with hair that had been light brown
before the gray sifted itself so thickly among it as to render the color
doubtful,--with eyes of bluish gray, a strong and somewhat coarse mouth
with no contemptible approach to a moustache of light hairs bristling at
the corners,--and with complexion wrinkled and browned by the exposures of
at least sixty years, until very nearly the last trace of what had once
been youth and womanhood was worn away and forgotten. Yet there was
something very good and very kindly amid the rugged strength of the face;
and while little children might at the first glance have feared the old
woman and run away from her as a "witch," they would at the second
certainly have crept back to her knees and depended upon a protection which
they were certain to receive.

It is only necessary, to say, in addition, that she was Scottish by birth
as well as by blood and name--that she had come to this country nearly
forty years before, when Robert Brand was a young man, and attached herself
to the fortunes of the family because they were Scottish by blood and she
was the very incarnation of faithful feudality--that his daughter had been
named Elspeth (since softened to Elsie) at her earnest desire, because she
said the name was "the bonniest ava" and she had herself been named after
a noble lady who bore it, in her own land, and who had done much to give
her that upright carriage by standing as her god-mother--and that for many
a long year, now, she had been the working head of the Brand household,
scarcely more so since the death of its weak, hysterical mistress, a dozen
years before, than while she was alive and pretending to a management which
she never understood.

If any one person beneath that roof, more legitimately than another,
belonged to the family and felt herself so belonging, that person was
Elspeth Graeme; and if something of the romantic, which the stern sense of
the father would have been slow to approve, had grown up in both his
children, it was to the partial love of Elspeth and her stories of Scottish
romance, poetry, history, song and superstition, carrying them away from
prosaic America to the wimpling burns and haunted glens of the land from
which their blood had been derived,--that such a feeling, fortunate or
unfortunate as the future might prove, was principally to be credited.

"Did you ring, sir? Ech, Lord, the mon's deein'!" were the two very
different exclamations made by Elspeth as she entered the room, after the
departure of the doctor, and caught sight of the situation in which the
master seemed to be lying.

"No, Elspeth, I am not 'deein' as you call it," he growled out, when the
pain of his exertion had again somewhat subsided and he could find breath
for words. "But I wish I was! Is that cursed doctor gone?"

"He was gettin' to his carriage the minute, and he's awa by this," answered
the housekeeper. "But what ava has he been doin' to ye? Murderin' ye
maybe!--they're a dolefu' uncanny set, the doctors!"

"If you ever see that man here again, and you don't have him shot or set
the dog on him, out of the house you go, neck and crop, the whole pack of
you--do you hear!" was the reply to Elspeth's comment on the medical
profession.

"Just as ye say, master," said Elspeth. "I'll set Carlo at him myself, if
ye say so; and wo but the brute will just worry him, for he does na like
him and is unco fond of snappin' aboot his heels!"

"Where is Elsie?" was the next question.

"Gone over to Mistress Hayley's the mornin'. Can I do any thing for your
leg, sir?--for the wench in the kitchen's clean daft, and I'll be wanted
there, maybe."

"No--you can do nothing. My leg is better. But send Elsie to me the moment
she comes in."

"Hark!" said the housekeeper, as a light foot sounded on the piazza and
came in through the hall. "There's the lassie hersel--I ken her step among
a thousand. I'll just send her in to you the moment she has thrawn aff her
bonnet." And the old woman departed on her errand.

There must have been an acuteness beyond nature, in the ears of old
Elspeth, if she indeed knew the tread of the young girl; for her step, as
she entered the room, was so slow, laggard and lifeless, so unlike the
usual springing rapidity of her girlish nature, that even her lover might
have been pardoned for failing to recognize it. It was as if some crushing
weight fettered her limbs and bowed down her brow. And a crushing weight
indeed rested upon her--the first unendurable grief of her young life--the
knowledge of her only brother's shame. Robert Brand marked the slow step
and saw the downcast head; and little as he could possibly know of the
connection of that demeanor with the subject of his previous thought, it
was not of that cheerful and reassuring character calculated to restore the
lost equanimity of a man insulted in the tenderest point of his honor and
chafed beyond human endurance. His first words were rough and peremptory:

"Why do you move in that manner, girl, when you come to see _me_? I do not
like it--do not let me see any more of it!"

"I was coming, father!" was poor Elsie's only answer.

"So I see--at the rate of ten feet an hour! What is the matter with you?"

"Nothing."

"Nothing?--do not tell me that, girl! I know better, or you would never
carry that gloomy face and move as if you were going to your grandmother's
funeral!"

"Indeed there is nothing the matter with me, father; but there soon will
be, if you scold me!" and the young girl, making a terrible effort to be
cheerful, came up to his side, put her arm around his neck and pressed her
lips to his forehead with a movement so pure and fond that it might have
softened Nero at the moment of ordering his last wholesale murder. It
partially disarmed the pained and querulous father. He put his arm around
the daughter's waist, returned the pressure and seemed to be soothed for a
moment by resting his head against the bosom that pressed close to him. But
the demon that had been roused could only sleep thus temporarily. Directly
he put her away, though not roughly, looked her full in the face, and
asked:

"Where is your brother?"

"You know he went down to town this morning, and he has not yet come home,"
was the reply, with an effort not by any means a successful one, to keep
the voice from quavering. The practised ear of the father detected the
difference between that intonation and the usual unembarrassed utterance of
his daughter; and he naturally connected it at once with the restraint of
her manner, and noticed an evasion in her answer that might otherwise have
escaped him.

"I know he has not come home," he said. "But that was not my question. You
have been at Mrs. Hayley's where he spends quite as much of his time as
here. Have you seen him?"

Elsie Brand would have given the proudest feature of her personal
adornment, at that moment, to be able to lie! She saw that some undefined
anxiety with reference to her brother must have moved her father's repeated
questions, and naturally she feared the worst--that Carlton's mad words
had indeed been overheard, and that even in that brief space of time some
messenger of evil had travelled fast and betrayed the fatal secret. If so,
the storm was about to burst on the devoted head of her brother, not the
less deadly because she must bear the first brunt of its violence.
Yes--Elsie Brand would almost have given her right hand to be able to lie
at that moment. But her education had been as true as was her nature, and
she managed to falter out, yet more suspiciously:

"Yes, father!"

"And you _dared_ to trifle with me, girl, when I asked you a plain
question?" and Robert Brand grasped his daughter by the arm so forcibly
that she nearly screamed with the violent pressure, and tears did indeed
start to her eyes as she sobbed out--

"I did not mean to trifle with you, father. I only thought--"

"You thought that when I asked one question, I meant another, did you?" and
the face that looked upon her was set, hard and very stern. "You had better
not try the experiment again, if you do not wish to suffer for it!"

"Oh, father!" and the young girl, enough broken before, now wept outright.
But he stopped her, very roughly.

"No bawling! not a whimper! Now listen to me. You have seen your brother
since morning--since he went down to the rendezvous."

"Yes, father."

"You saw him at Mrs. Hayley's."

"Yes, father."

"And he came there to bid Margaret good-bye, before he went away, and you
are such a miserable whining school-girl that you are making all this fuss
about his absence. Is that the fact? Speak!" He still held her arm, though
his grasp was less painful than it had been at first; and his eyes looked
upon her with such a steady, anxious, almost fearful gaze, that it would
have driven away the second temptation to falsehood, even had such a
temptation once obtained power. There was nothing for it, at that moment,
but to speak the truth so far as compelled.

"No, father. Carlton is not going away." The last three words were uttered
so low, and so tangled up among the sobs that she had not been able
entirely to check, that they might not have been distinguishable except to
the preternaturally acute ear of the suspicious father.

"He is not going? Why?" The first words were harsh and loud--the last one
was almost thunder, easily heard, if any one was listening, over the whole
house. Before it the young girl shook like an aspen and broke out into
fresh sobs as she attempted to answer.

"Because--because his business will not allow--"

"Because he is _a coward!_ Answer me that question, girl, or never speak to
me again while you live!" Robert Brand had apparently forgotten all his
pain and risen from his chair, still holding his daughter's arm, as he
hurled out the interrogation and the threat. Poor Elsie saw that he knew
all, too surely; further dissembling was useless; and she dropped upon her
knees, that iron grasp still upon her arm, lifted up both her hands, and
piteously moaned--

"Yes, that is the reason! Oh, how did you hear it? Kill _me_, father, if
you will, but do not kill poor Carlton! He cannot help it--indeed he
cannot!"

They were fearful words that immediately thereafter fell from the lips of
Robert Brand--words that no provocation should ever tempt a father to
utter, but words which have been plentifully showered on the heads of the
shamed or the disobedient, by the thoughtless or the unmerciful, who
arrogated to themselves God's power of judgment and retribution, through
all the long ages.

"Get up, girl, if you do not wish me to forget that you are not yourself
the miserable hound for whom you are pleading!"

"Oh, father!" broke again from the lips of the frightened girl, who did not
move from her kneeling position.

"Get up, I say, or I will strike you with this cane as I would a dog!"

Elsie Brand staggered to her feet, she knew not how, but stood bowed before
the stern judge in an attitude of pleading quite as humble and pitiful as
that of prayer. The next words that fell upon her ears were not addressed
to her, but seemed to be spoken for others' hearing than those who dwell in
tenements of clay, while the voice that uttered them trembled in mingled
grief and indignation, and the disabled frame shook as if it had been
racked with palsy.

"_My_ son a coward! a miserable poltroon to be pointed at, spat upon, and
whipped! _My_ blood made a shame in the land, by the one whom I trusted to
honor it! God's blackest and deepest curse--"

"Oh, father! father!" broke in the young girl in a very wail of agony so
pitiful that it must have moved any heart not calloused for the moment
against all natural feeling, but that availed nothing to stop the impending
curse or even to lower the voice that uttered it.

"--God's deepest and blackest curse 'light upon the coward! shame, sorrow,
and quick death! He shall have neither house, home nor family from this
moment! I disown this bastard of my blood! I devote him to ruin and to
perdition!"

Few men have ever uttered, over the most criminal and degraded of the
offspring of their own loins, so dire an imprecation; and no father, who
has ever uttered one approaching it in horrible earnest, but is doomed here
or hereafter to feel the bitterest weight of that curse resting upon his
own head. Lear was clean distraught by wrongs beyond human endurance,
before he called upon "all the stored vengeances of heaven" to fall on the
"ingrateful top" of Goneril, and threatened both his unnatural daughters
with "such revenges" that they should be the "terrors of the earth"; and
only that incipient madness clears him from the sin and leaves him human to
demand our after pity. There can be no excuse for such paroxysms of
remorseless anger--it is difficult to supply even a palliation. And yet
there was something in the blood, in the past life and associations of
Robert Brand, coming as near to offering excuse for shame and indignation
driving to temporary madness, as could well have been offered in behalf of
any man of his day, committing a sin of such nature. And to circumstances
embodying these it is now necessary to revert, even at the expense of a
temporary pause in the directness of this narration.



CHAPTER V.

     THE BIRTH AND BLOOD OF THE BRANDS--PRIDE THAT CAME DOWN FROM
     THE CRUSADES--ROBERT BRAND AS SOLDIER AND PENSION-AGENT--THE
     PENSIONERS OF THE REVOLUTION--HOW ELSIE RAVED, AND HOW THE
     FATHER'S CURSE SEEMED TO BE ANSWERED--DR. JAMES HOLTON, AND
     THE LOSS OF A CORPUS DELICTI.


It has already been indicated, in speaking of the ties which bound Elspeth
Graeme to the Brand family, that they were Scots by descent as she was by
both blood and birth. Robert Brand himself stood in the fourth remove from
Gaelic nativity, without the spirit of his race being extinct or even
modified. When Archibald Alexander, father of that William Alexander who
claimed to be Earl of Stirling in the peerage of Scotland while he was
gallantly fighting as a Major-General in the patriot army of the
Revolution, came to America in 1740, he was accompanied by a man who
claimed to hold quite as good blood as himself, though he served in little
less than a menial capacity to the heir of the attainted house of
Stirling. This was Malcolm Brand, of Perthshire, a member of the Scottish
and elder branch of the Brands of Hertfordshire in England, who at a later
day carried the two crossed swords which they had borne on their shields
since the Crusades, to augment the threatening bulls, wolves and leopards
of the Dacres, in the possession of that barony. It was in a victorious
hand-to-hand fight with a gigantic Saracen on the field of Askalon, that
Gawin de Brande, laird of Westenro in Lothian, fighting close beside King
Richard, won that proud quartering of arms; and it is to be believed that
no descendant of his blood, either in 1740 or in 1863, had quite forgotten
that exploit or the fact that the very name of the family was only another
antique appellation for the sword.

Malcolm Brand, the emigrant, was the father of a son Robert, born in New
Jersey, as Archibald Alexander was the sire of William, who so proudly
outdid the exploits of his elder blood, fighting under the leadership of
Washington. The two young men, resident nearly together among the New
Jersey hills, entered the army at the same time, and while the one rose to
the dignity of a Major-General, the other shared in his combats at Long
Island, Germantown and Monmouth, always fighting gallantly, but never
rising beyond the grade of a first-lieutenant, and dying at last a prisoner
on one of the pest-ships of the Wallabout. His son William, named after
Lord Stirling and born in 1768, had of course passed as a boy through the
trying period of the great contest, known that identification with the
patriot cause inevitable from anxiety for a father engaged in it and grief
over his lingering death by disease and privation for its sake; and it
could not be otherwise than that the ears of _his_ son, Robert (the man of
1863), should have been filled with relations calculated at once to keep
alive the pride of his blood and to identify him with the glory and honor
of the land in which his lot had been cast.

Then had come another influence, not less potent--the second breaking-out
of hostilities against England, in the War of 1812. The blood of the Brands
was not cooled--it sprung to arms; and Robert Brand, then a young lawyer,
taking the place of his father already invalided, assumed the sword of his
armorial bearings and fought with Scott at Chippewa and Lundy's Lane,
receiving so terrible an injury in the leg, at the close of the latter
battle, that he was to be a tortured cripple from that day forward, but
glorying even in the disablement and the suffering, because his injury had
not been met in some trivial accident of peaceful life, but sustained where
brave men dared their doom.

And yet another influence, not less potent, was still to come. Years after,
when Carlton Brand was a child in arms, his father, then a practising
lawyer in his native State, became identified with that most romantic and
most picturesque body of men, of whom the present age remembers but little,
and of whom the age to come will know nothing except as the knowledge is
handed down from father to son, or carried forward in such desultory
records as these--_The Pensioners of the Revolution_. At that time, not
less on account of his spotless reputation than the crippling wound
received in the service, he was appointed Pension Agent for the section in
which he resided, and duly commissioned twice a year to receive from the
War Department and pay over to the old men the somewhat scant and very
tardy pay with which the land of Washington at last smoothed the passage to
the grave of those who had been his companions.

It was Robert Brand's privilege, then, to meet those men in the familiar
intercourse of business--to listen to their tales, so often slighted by
those wiser or less reverent, of foughten field and toilsome march, of
cheerless camp and suffering in the wilderness, when this giant nation was
a wilful child unjustly scourged by a tyrant mother--to find in each some
reminder of his patriot grandfather, and some suggestion of what that
grandfather would have been had the fortune of war spared him to go down
into old age and senility.

Twice a year, as the pension day came round, one by one they gathered in
the little room where the scanty pension was to be doled--each with the
measured beat of his stick sounding upon the floor as he entered, regularly
as when his foot had beaten time in the olden days, under the iron rain of
Princeton, or on the suffering march to Valley Forge. One by one they
gathered to what was their great semi-annual holiday, with the kindly
greetings of garrulous and failing age--with the gentle complaint, so
patiently uttered, over limbs that seemed to be bowing with the weight of
time, and with the pardonable boast that it was not so when the speaker had
been young, in such a winter on the Northern Lines, or with such an officer
at Yorktown or Saratoga. When the winters--said they--were colder than they
are now, when the men were hardier, and when the women (they had all long
before gone to rest, in the family graveyard or the little plat beside the
church,) were fairer far than their daughters ever grew!

Harmless deception of age!--pleasant coloring that distance gives in time
as well as in the material world, so that the forms we once loved may be
even more beautiful in thought than they were in reality; the grassy lawns
upon which we played in childhood, greener far in memory than they ever
were beneath the sun of June; and even those hours once filled with anxiety
and vexation, so beguiled out of their uncomely features, that they have no
power to harm us in after-thought, and almost seem to have been freighted
with unalloyed happiness! There may have been a thunder-cloud rising in the
heavens, that afternoon when we went boating with Harry and Tom and Mary
and Susan and Alice, all the way down from Lovers' Bend to the Isle of
Kisses, with music, and laughter and loving words that were sweeter far
than song; and the thunder-cloud may have thickened and gathered, so that
the young lovers were drenched and very dismal-looking, long before their
return at evening; but be sure that forty years after, when the day is
remembered, only the sunshine, the smiling faces and the flashing water is
seen, and if the thunder-storm has a place in memory at all, it comes back
more as a pleasure than a disappointment. Mary may have had a cloud upon
her brow, that evening at the garden-gate, from the absence of a ribbon
lightly promised, or the presence of a recollection how some one flirted
with Julia on the evening before; and there may even have been a tiff
verging far towards a lover's quarrel, before the reconciliation and the
parting under the moon; but when the hair has grown gray, and Mary is with
the millions sleeping in the breast of our common mother, only the
moonlight, that dear last kiss, and the rapture of happy love are
remembered, and that checkered hour is looked back upon as one of unmixed
enjoyment. Time is the flatterer of memory, as well as the consoler of
grief, and perhaps has no holier office. So it was well that the old men's
mental eyes were dim when their physical vision was failing; and when we
grow old as they, if the scythe of the destroyer cut us not away long
before, may the far-away past be gilded for us as it was for them, by the
rosy hue of fading remembrance, until all the asperities, the hard
realities, the sharp and salient edges and angles of life, are smoothed and
worn away forever!

Sitting side by side, they talked--those bent and worn and gray old men--of
scenes long matters of honored history, glorying (ah! honest and natural
glory!) in having stood guard at the tent of Wayne, or shared the coarse
fare of Sumter in the Southern woods, but most of all if happily the eye of
Washington had chanced to beam upon them, and his lips (those lips that
seldom broadly smiled) approved or thanked their honest service. Few men,
even of those who fought beside him, seemed ever to have known a smile from
the Father of his Country; but for those few there always beamed a light of
glorious memory to which the all-repaying word and the intoxicating smile
of the Great Corsican would have been empty and valueless.

It was easy, twenty or thirty years afterwards, to remember the fire that
blazed in the dim eyes of old Job Marston, as he told how Washington
commended him for his good conduct on the afternoon of the dreadful day of
Long Island, when Sullivan's legion broke and fled like frightened
sheep,--and how the veteran straightened himself upon his staff as if the
head which had once borne the praise of the Joshua of American Liberty
should scarcely bend even to time. Or the quivering of the hand of Walter
Thorne, one of the men who bore, through every trial and danger, the pledge
of faith of the Monmouth League--quivering yet with the anger which had
brooded for more than fifty years,--as he pictured so plainly the burning
of his father's house by the Refugees, the acres of broad land laid waste
by them, the cattle driven towards the royal lines from his own homestead,
the arming of his friends, the chase, the recapture, and the ghastly figure
of the Refugee captain as they hung him on a spreading limb that spanned
the road, a sacrifice not only for the home in ashes but to the manes of
Captain Huddy, scarcely yet taken down from his oak-tree gallows on the
heights of Navesink. Or the quietly felicitous chuckle with which Stephen
Holmes, who had been one of "Captain Huyler's men" in the operations of
that patriot marine freebooter around the shores of the lower bay of New
York, detailed the success of a night attack in boats pretending to carry
live-stock and oysters for sale, by which one vessel of the British fleet
lying in the bay was captured, much welcome spoil fell into their hands for
the use of needy families at home, and all the remaining vessels of the
squadron rode uncomfortably in the bay for a long time after. Or the half
playful and half indignant raising of the cane of Robert Grey, when told by
his old companions, for the five-hundredth time beyond a doubt, that he was
suspected of a share in Arnold's treason, for not stopping the disguised
Andre as he passed his sentinel post below West Point, before he fell into
the hands of the three very common and insignificant men made immortal by
one single act--Williams, Paulding and Van Wert. There would have been no
pretence in the motion, spite of his eighty years and faltering limbs, had
the speaker hazarded more than a jest against the faithfulness of the old
man's service in the "dark day." But easiest of all was it to remember the
story of Thomas West, wounded, and crippled from that day forth, in
assisting to bear the wounded Lafayette from the field of Brandywine, and
named a subaltern officer at the close of that memorable action. His was
the seat of honor; and his was something more, even, than that measure of
respect demanded by all and so cheerfully paid to white hairs and honorable
scars.

Seldom was there a voice to speak one word of disrespect or undervaluation
in the old men's company; and though the privilege of garrulous and failing
age was often taken, and though the story once full of life and interest
grew sadly tedious when again and again repeated,--yet there was no pardon,
and deserved to be none, for him who forgot that reverence due to the men
who bore the last personal recollections of the seven-years war. Only once,
within the experience of Robert Brand as a Pension Agent, was such
disrespect shown; and then the punishment was so signal that there were no
fears of the impropriety being repeated. Mart Tunison, a wealthy young
landowner, rudely jostled old Job Marston on one occasion, and when called
to account for the offence, snapped his fingers at the veteran as a "cursed
old humbug, always in the way and always telling stories of battles he had
never seen." "You are rich, they say, Mart Tunison," said the old man,
while the younger one could not read the flash that still lived in his
faded eye. "I _am_ rich, and what is that to you, grand-daddy?" was the
answer, with a slap of the hand on the jingling pocket. "Yes, you are rich,
and most people do not know how you became so!" almost hissed the old man,
little knowing how he was pointing a moral for a future day by speaking of
the "shoddy" of that by-gone time. "I will tell all your friends, and you,
how you got so stuffed up that you can snap your fingers in an old man's
face! You are living on the proceeds of the money that your Tory
grandfather, old Tom Tunison, made by stealing cattle, when he was one of
the Refugee Cow-Boys, and driving them over the lines to sell to the
British, before he ran away to Nova Scotia to save his neck!" Mart Tunison,
if he had ever before known the real origin of his wealth, which is
doubtful,--would probably have given the best field of all his broad lands
to prevent that revelation of the shame of his family, which afterwards
followed him like a thing of ill-omen, to the very grave!

There was at that time in the office of Robert Brand, a stripling youngster
who promised very little good to the world and has probably as yet
disappointed no one--who thought more of play than of work, of music than
of mortgages, of Burns than Blackstone, and of a rosy-cheeked girl who came
into the office on some little errand to the "'Squire" than of the most
proud and stately of his male clients. Among his vices, he had a fancy for
jingling verse; and one day when the semi-annual visit of the pensioners
had just terminated and he had listened afresh to the same old tales of
glory told over again in the same faltering accents that he had heard so
many times before, his one virtue of reverence for the aged and the
venerable rose into an idle rhyme, which may have a fit place in this
connection, and which he called


THE PENSIONERS.

    They come but twice a year,
      When the pension-day rolls round,--
    Old men with hoary hair
      And their faces to the ground.
    One leans upon his crutch;
      And one is upright still,
    As if he bore Time's clutch
      With an iron nerve and will.

    And feeble are the steps
      That so patiently they feel;
    And they kiss with trembling lips
      The old Bible and the seal;
    And they lay with care away,
      In wallets old and worn,
    The scant and tardy pay
      Of a life of toil and scorn.

    They love a cheerful pipe
      And a warm place in the sun,
    From an age so old and ripe
      To call memories one by one;--
    To tell of Arnold's crime,
      And of Washington's proud form
    That beamed, in battle time,
      A beacon o'er the storm.--

    To tell of Yorktown's day,
      When the closing fight was gained,--
    When Cornwallis went away
      And the eagle was unchained;
    To show us, o'er and o'er,
      The seamed and withered scars
    That many a hero bore,
      As his passport from the wars.

    'Tis pride, with these old men,
      To tell what they have seen,
    Of battle-fields, again
      With their harvest bright and green:
    'Twill be pride, when we are old,
      To say that in our youth
    We heard the tales they told
      And looked on them in their truth.

    They are the last sad link
      Of a race of men with ours,
    Who stood on ruin's brink
      And built up fair freedom's towers.
    They are passing, as the foam
      From the ocean wave departs,
    But finding yet a home
      In heaven, and in our hearts.

    And when the last is gone,
      To their memory we will build
    A pyramid of stone
      Whose top the sun shall gild
    When the name of patriot weal
      And of tyrants' bitter wrong
    Shall be told but in a tale
      And known but in a song.

The time then prophesied has come; though the monument then promised has
not been erected, and though it may never be, because a later and grander
though scarce nobler struggle to preserve what was then first created,
almost dwarfs the memory of the first contest and demands all the resources
of wealth and art for its commemoration. The Pensioners of the Revolution
are all gone, long ago, on the line of march to that great meeting where
the last pension, whether of good or evil, shall be told out.

Almost every year, beneath the eye of the Pension Agent, one more withered
leaf would drop from the bough where it had feebly fluttered, and sad
comments be made by the survivors when they met, with: "Ah,
well-a-day!--poor ---- is gone!" and "Well, we are very old, and we must
all follow him--some day!" with nervous shakings of the head and tremblings
of the palsied hand, that told to all but themselves how soon the end must
come. Thinner and thinner grew the group, reduced to six--to four--to
three--to two! Oh, that sad, mournful, heart-breaking two!--enough gone to
mark the coming extinction; enough still left to hold their melancholy
converse! And then one day there came but _one_, who looked vacantly round
on the empty space and seemed to remember that others than himself must
once have been there, but to remember no more. The "Last Man" had not then
been written, and _Geoffry Dale_ was yet to spring from the imagination or
the memory of the dramatist and supply poor _Jesse Rural_ Blake with one of
his best opportunities for throat-choking pathos; but in the last of the
pensioners his history was sadly prefigured. One other lonely visit, and
then the survivor was gone. All the group had dropped away. Their forms
seemed to linger, long after the forms that cast them had mouldered into
impalpable dust. It was the most natural thing in life for Robert Brand,
months and even years after, to turn when hearing the measured beat of an
old man's cane upon the floor, and look to see if the comer was not one of
the veterans of Yorktown or of Trenton, yet lingering far behind the time
of his companions. But no--death had come to all, and as yet no
resurrection. The last pittance had been paid them, and laid away for the
last time by their careful fingers; and they, too, had been laid away by
the hoarding miser of human forms, in quiet graves in those humble country
church-yards dotting the bosom of that land which they had helped to free
and to cover with human glory!

Perhaps they died in good time--before the dark hour came back again after
a glorious morning and a cloudless noon. Perhaps it is well that the last
of the Revolutionary veterans had passed beyond acute pain and heart-felt
shame, before the attempt at national suicide came to embitter their last
moments with the belief that after all they might have labored and suffered
in vain. But their memory does not die. Mecca and Jerusalem are blended in
the sacredness of that pilgrimage which the reverent heart travels back
through the years to pay them; and if there is yet a leaven of
self-sacrificing devotion in our national character sufficient to bear us
on triumphantly to the great end, the yeast of true patriotism from which
it is made was preserved through the long night of corruption and misrule,
in the breasts of the Fathers of the Republic.

Their children have long been old men now. Their very grandchildren begin
to show gray hairs. Following close upon the steps of the Last Man of the
Revolution--the last of the men who could say that they saw and took part
in that throe which gave birth to a nation,--tread all those who can even
say that they ever saw them and took them by the hand. A few years, and the
last of these, too, will be quiet and voiceless. The chain of personal
recollection is growing thin,--it may break to-morrow; and "the rest is
silence."

Such was the blood of Robert Brand, and such had been the influences and
surroundings of his earlier life--himself a soldier when in possession of
health and vigor, and the companion, friend and guardian of the noblest of
all American soldiery when he became disabled and inactive. He loved his
native land with an idolatry bordering on insanity; and during the long
struggle between the interests of the sections, preceding the war, he had
imbibed love of free institutions and hatred of slavery to a degree little
less than fanatical. No regret had weighed so heavily upon him, when the
note of conflict sounded in 1861, as the fact that his aged and crippled
frame must prevent his striking one blow in a cause so holy; and if he held
one pride more dearly than another, it was to be found in the remembrance
that he had a noble and gallant son, too busy and too much needed at home,
thus far, to join the ranks of his country's defenders in the field, but
ready when the day of positive need should come, to maintain unsullied the
honor of his race. What marvel, all these surroundings considered, that the
knowledge of that son being an abject poltroon should nearly have unseated
his reason, and that he should have uttered words which only the partial
insanity of wounded pride and rankling shame could supply with any shadow
of excuse?

At the close of the last chapter, and before this long explanatory episode
intervened to break the progress of the narration, Elsie Brand, the
agonized sister and daughter, was seen standing before her father, with
hands clasped in agony and lips uttering agonized pleadings. But the very
instant after, when the terrible severity of that parental curse had been
fully rounded from the lips and that fatal evidence given that for the
moment all natural affection had given way to impious rage and
denunciation,--the young girl stood erect, her blue eyes still tearful but
flashing anger of which they commonly seemed to be little capable, and her
lips uttering words as determined as those of the madman, even if they were
less furious and vindictive:

"You may strike me if you like, but I do not care for you, now--not one
snap of my finger! You are not my father--you are nobody's father, but a
bad, wicked, unfeeling old man, gray headed enough to know better, and yet
cursing your own flesh and blood as if you wished to go to perdition
yourself and carry everybody else along with you!"

The very audacity of this speech partially sobered the enraged man, and he
only ejaculated in a lower but still angry tone:

"What!"

"What I say and what I mean!" the young girl went on, oblivious or heedless
of any parental authority at the moment. "I do not love you--I hate and
shudder at you! I would rather be my poor brother, a coward and disgraced
as he may be, than his miserable father cursing him like a brute!"

"Do you dare----" the father began to say, in a louder voice and with the
thunder again threatening, but Elsie Brand was proving, just then, that the
gift of heedless speech "ran in the family," and that for the moment she
"had the floor" in the contest of denunciation.

"Oh, you need not look at me in that manner!" she said, marking the
expression of the old man's eyes and conscious that he might at any moment
recover himself sufficiently to pour out upon her, for her unpardonable
impudence, quite as bitter a denunciation as he had lately vented against
her disgraced brother. "I am not afraid of your eyes, or of your tongue.
You have turned Carlton out of doors, for a mere nothing, and I am going
with him. I will never set foot in this house again, never, until----"

How long was the period the indignant girl intended to set for her absence,
must ever remain in doubt, with many other things of much more consequence;
for the sentence thus begun, was never completed. In at the open front
door, through the parlor and into the room of the invalid, at that moment
staggered Kitty Hood. The phrase descriptive of her movement is used
advisedly and with good reason; for fright, exhaustion and the terrible
heat of the June meridian had reduced the young school-mistress to a most
pitiable condition. Her face was one red glow, her brow streamed with
perspiration, and she was equally destitute of strength and out of breath.

This strange and unannounced interruption naturally broke the unpleasant
chain of conversation between father and daughter; and the eyes of both,
during her moment of enforced silence to recover breath, looked upon her
with equal wonder and alarm.

"Oh, Mr. Brand!" and here the breath gave out again and she sank exhausted
into the chair which Elsie pushed up to her.

"You are sick? Somebody has insulted or hurt you? What _is_ the matter,
Kitty?" she asked.

"Oh, no, no!" at last the school-mistress mustered breath to say, at short,
jerky intervals. "Nothing ails _me_, except that I am out of breath; but
your son, Mr. Brand."

"Well, what of _him_?" asked the old man, his tone sharp and angry and his
brow frowning, confident that the coming information must have some
connection with the disgraceful report of the morning--that Kitty Hood had
only run herself out of breath in her anxiety to tell his family unwelcome
news that they already knew too well.

"Oh, sir, Mr. Carlton--your poor brother, Elsie!--is dead!"

"Dead!" The word had two echoes--one, from the lips of Robert Brand, little
else than a groan; and the other from poor tortured Elsie, compounded
between groan and shriek.

"Oh, yes, how can I tell it?" the young school-mistress went on, as fast as
her broken breath would allow. "I found him lying dead, only a little while
ago, by the gate, down at the blind-road, as I came across from school;
and I have run all the way here to tell you!"

"My poor brother dead! oh, Carlton!" moaned Elsie Brand; then, but an
instant after, and before the old man had found time to speak again, the
curse came up in connection with the bereavement and she broke out,
hysterically: "See what you have done, father! You wished poor Carlton
dead, and now you have your cruel wish! Oh, my poor, poor brother!"

"Silence, girl!" spoke Robert Brand, sharply, with a not unnatural dislike
to have the school-mistress made aware of what had so lately passed. The
old man was terribly affected, but he managed to control himself and to
speak with some approach to calmness.

"You are sure, Kitty, that you saw my son lying dead?"

"Oh, yes, Mr. Brand, he was lying dead on the grass close by the gate."

"Lying alone?" The voice of the father trembled, in spite of himself, as he
asked the question.

"All alone, and he could only have been dead a few moments. He looked so."

"Was there--" and the old lawyer tried to steady his voice as he had many a
time before done when asking equally solemn questions concerning the fate
of other men's children--"did you see any thing to prove what killed him?
He went away from home on horseback--"

"Yes, he was on horseback at Mrs. Hayley's only a little while ago," Elsie
mustered strength to interrupt.

"Did you see his horse?--had he fallen from it--or--" and then the voice of
the father, who but a few moments before had believed his love for his son
crushed out forever, entirely broke down. Heaven only knew the agony of the
question he was attempting to put; for the thought had taken possession of
him that that son, overwhelmed by the knowledge that he would be pointed
out and scoffed as a poltroon, had shown his second lack of courage by
laying violent hands on his own life and rushing unbidden into the
presence of his Maker!

"No," answered Kitty Hood, setting her teeth hard as she realized that the
time had come when she must prove her own honesty at the possible sacrifice
of the life of the man who had been her lover. "No, I did not see his
horse. He had not been killed by falling from it, I am sure. He had been
_murdered_!"

"Murdered!" Again the word was a double echo from the very dissimilar
voices of father and daughter; the latter speaking in the terror of the
thought, the former under the conviction that the dreadful truth was being
revealed, and that, though the young girl did not suspect the fact, the
crime would be found to have been _self_-murder.

"There was blood on his face and on the grass," poor Kitty went on, "and
there was a bundle lying close beside him, that I had seen under the arm
of--of--"

"Eh, what? Under whose arm?" asked the father, in a quick voice, as the
relation took this new turn.

"Richard Compton's!" choked out Kitty Hood.

"Richard Compton's!" again echoed the old man. "Why he was your--"

"We were engaged to be married," cried poor Kitty, at last overwrought and
bursting into tears. "But I must tell the truth, even if it hangs him and
breaks my heart. He was at the school-house only a little while before; he
was angry with Mr. Carlton, and threatened him; and I am afraid that he
killed him."

"Oh, this is dreadful!" said Elsie.

"Dreadful indeed!" replied Robert Brand, whose own grief and horror were
somewhat modified if not lessened by the thought in what a situation the
honest young girl was placing herself and her lover. He reached back and
pulled the bell-rope again, and again Elspeth Graeme made her appearance, a
little surprised to find three persons in the room where she had before
left but two, the third coming unannounced, and all three of the faces
looking as if their owners had been summoned to execution.

"Tell Stephen to get up the large carriage, instantly, and have it round
within five minutes," was the order to the old woman, delivered in a quick
and agitated voice.

"Are ye gaein' out, sir?" was the inquiry, in reply.

"Yes, but what is that to you, woman?"

"Naethin', maybe, only you're clean daft if ye'r thinkin' of it, Mr. Robert
Brand."

"I am not only thinking of it but going to do it; and the quicker you do my
bidding, the better."

"Gang yer ways, then, for an uncanny, unmanageable auld ne'er-do-weel!" was
the grumbling comment of the Scotch woman, as she prepared to obey the
injunction. She strode half way through the parlor, then returned and fired
another shot into the invalid's room before she finally departed: "Hech,
but ye've been sendin' away the doctor wi' the grin on his grunzie, and
wha' will I ca' when ye come back a' ram-feezled and done over--answer me
that, noo!"

Less than five minutes sufficed to bring the carriage to the door, with its
team of well-groomed bays, and with much exertion (of which the stalwart
Elspeth furnished no small proportion) the invalid was placed in it and so
surrounded with cushions that he could ride with comparative ease. Elsie's
tearful request to be allowed to accompany him in his quest of the body of
her brother was sharply denied, with orders that both Kitty and herself
should remain within the house until his return; and the carriage drove
rapidly away towards the point designated by the school-mistress, while the
housekeeper was learning the fearful tidings from the lips of the two
girls, and uttering broken laments and raining tears down her coarse
cheeks, over "her winsome bairn that had been sae sair wanchancie!"

Scarcely more time than had been consumed in getting ready the vehicle
elapsed before the carriage, driven at rapid speed, dashed up to the spot
that had been indicated by Kitty, the eyes of the father looking out in
advance with an indescribable horror, to catch the first glimpse of the
body of a son whom he half accused himself, in his own heart, of murdering.
A doctor's top-sulky and a saddled horse, with two men, were seen standing
near the gate as they approached; but, strangely enough, they saw no dead
body. One of these men, Robert Brand saw, was the young farmer, Richard
Compton, who had been accused by Kitty of committing that terrible crime;
the other, standing by the side of his professional sulky, was a man of
twenty-five, of medium height, very carefully dressed, fair faced, dark
haired and dark eyed, with features well rounded and an inexpressibly sweet
smile about the handsome mouth, which might have made an impression, under
proper circumstances, upon other hearts than the susceptible one of Elsie
Brand. Dr. James Holton, as has before been said, was a young physician, in
very moderate practice, pleasing though very quiet in manners,
irreproachable in character (an unpopular point, as we are all well aware,
in one of the heroes of any tale), and considered very much more eligible
as a match by the young lady with whom his name has before been connected,
than by the parent who was supposed to have the disposal of her hand. Dr.
Holton, as many people believed, possessed skill enough and was
sufficiently attentive and studious in his profession, to have run a closer
race with the local professional autocrat, Dr. Pomeroy, than he had yet
been able to do, but for the skilfully managed sneers and quiet
undervaluations by which the elder had kept him from winning public
confidence. For more than two years he had been a frequent visitor at
Robert Brand's, received with undisguised pleasure by Elsie and treated
with great consideration by her brother, but meeting from the respected
head of the family that peculiar treatment which can no more be construed
into cordiality than insult, and which says, quite as plainly as words
could speak, "You are a respectable young man enough, and may be received
with politeness as a visitor; but you do not amount to enough in the
world, ever to become a member of my family." Quarrel as he might with Dr.
Philip Pomeroy, the old gentleman persisted in retaining him as his medical
adviser; and it was her knowledge of the antagonism between the two and of
the estimation in which each was held, that had induced the housekeeper to
make her parting suggestion of the effect which must follow his order to
set the dog on Pomeroy if he ever again attempted to approach the house. No
one, meanwhile, could better appreciate his own position than Dr. James
Holton; and while well aware that he loved Elsie Brand dearly, and firmly
believing that she held towards him an unwavering affection, he was content
to wait until his fortunes should so improve as to make him a more eligible
match for her, or until in some other providential manner the obstacles to
their union might be removed.

Such was the gentleman who approached Robert Brand's carriage door with a
bow, the moment the coachman had reined up his horses, and while that
gentleman was looking around with fearful anxiety for an object which his
eyes did not discover.

"We are in trouble about your son," he said, before the other had spoken.
"Something very extraordinary has occurred. Have you heard--"

"That my son was killed and lying here? Yes. Miss Kitty Hood, the
school-mistress, saw the body as she passed, and came to inform me."

"Kitty Hood!" gasped Richard Compton, turning from the fence against which
he had been leaning, and exhibiting a face nearly as white as that
traditionally supposed to belong to a ghost.

"Is it true?" continued the father. "If so, where is the body?"

"That is what puzzles us," answered the physician. "Mr. Compton, here, had
an altercation with your son--"

"Excuse me, Doctor, for telling the story myself," said the farmer,
interrupting. "Altercation is not the word--it was a _fight_. The devil
was in me, I suppose, and I insulted Carlton Brand like a fool, and dared
him to get off his horse to fight me. He got off, we exchanged a few blows,
and directly he knocked me stiff. Perhaps I hit him in some unlucky place
at the same time--I do not know. All that I do know is, that when I got my
senses again, he lay stiff as a poker there on the grass. I thought him
dead or dying, and rode away on his horse for the doctor. When we got here,
just a moment ago, the body, or Mr. Carlton Brand with the life in him--the
Lord knows which!--was gone."

"My son got off his horse to fight you, you say?" asked Robert Brand, in
such a tone of interest as almost seemed to be exulting.

"Yes, sir," answered the farmer.

"And actually fought you?--do not tell me a falsehood on this point, young
man, for your life!"

"Fought me? yes, he did more than that--_whipped_ me; and I do not let
myself be whipped every day. If I ever found strength to rise again, I was
just going to own up beat and ask his pardon."

From that moment, an expression of pain which had been perceptible on
Robert Brand's face from the instant of his conversation with Dr. Pomeroy,
changed in its character and lightened up, so to speak, if it did not
entirely depart. "Not so total and abject a poltroon as I feared!" was his
thought. He had not alighted from the carriage, his crippled limb making
that step difficult; but leaning over the side of it, he saw something on
the grass reminding him of what Kitty had alleged.

"There is blood upon the grass--whose is it?--my son's?" he asked.

"Mine, every drop of it--out of my nose. See, here is the rest of it,"
answered Dick Compton, drawing from his pocket the bloody handkerchief with
which he had tried to improve the appearance of his countenance, while
riding away after the doctor.

"What do you make of all this, Doctor?" at length asked Robert Brand.

"It puzzles me, of course," said the medical man. "It is strange how Mr.
Brand should have fallen for dead, if he was not. And yet it is not likely
that any one would have taken up the body and carried it away, if he was.
It would seem most probable that--"

"That he is still alive?"

"That his apparent death was only the result of a fit of some character,
and that, coming to after Mr. Compton left, and missing his horse, he has
gone homeward, or in some other direction, on foot."

"So I should think," answered the father. "Stephen, drive me home again. If
you should hear any thing further, Doctor--"

"I will do myself the honor of letting you know immediately," answered the
young physician, with a bow and a quiet consciousness that, from stress of
circumstances, the man whom he yet hoped to call father-in-law, had at last
given him a tacit invitation to come to his house on _his_ business.

"And what shall I do with the horse?" asked Compton.

"As it seems that you have been the means of forcing the rider off its
back, if you have not killed him, I think you can do no less than to ride
him home to Mr. Brand's stables," said the doctor.

"I am sorry that I brought you here for nothing, Doctor. You don't think
that I need to go and give myself up, eh?"

"I am very _glad_ that you brought me here for nothing, as it appears,
instead of for something," answered the doctor. "No, I do not think that
you will have occasion to give any thing up, except your bad temper and
your propensity for fighting peaceable men along public roads. I wish you a
very good day, Mr. Brand!" and stepping into his sulky, he drove away down
the road to attend to some one of his limited number of patients; while the
carriage containing Robert Brand whirled rapidly home again, followed at a
little distance by Dick Compton on Carlton Brand's horse, the fear of being
proved a murderer somewhat lifted from his mind; his military pants
haunting him a little less than they had done during the former ride; and
the bundle which had at one time threatened to prove so damning an evidence
against him, hugged up under his left arm.



CHAPTER VI.

     THE RESIDENCE OF DR. POMEROY--NATHAN BLADESDEN AND ELEANOR
     HILL--A KNEELING WOMAN AND A RIGID QUAKER--THE RUIN THAT A
     LETTER HAD WROUGHT--A PARTING THAT SEEMED ETERNAL--CARLTON
     BRAND ALIVE ONCE MORE, AND A GLANCE AT THE FATAL LETTER.


It sometimes happens, in this world which fast people consider dull and
slow, that events crowd themselves very closely, both as to time and space.
Within a very limited section, in a period covering scarcely more than an
hour, we have seen a complication of occurrences, affecting many persons,
sufficient to occupy many hours in the recital. And yet the storehouses of
event and circumstance have not yet been at all closely ransacked; and that
June-day has yet much to reveal, affecting some of the persons already
introduced, and others who have not yet come into the field of observation.

The spot at which the conflict between Carlton Brand and Richard Compton
occurred, it will be remembered, was at the intersection of the highway
leading down to the Schuylkill at Market Street, by a blind road which ran
back southwardly through the wood,--and that the request of the lawyer to
Compton that he would open the gate admitting to that blind road, was made
by the farmer the occasion of that quarrel and fight which we have seen
terminate so singularly.

Following that blind road half a mile through the wood, southward towards
the Darby road, the visitor descended the little range of high land crowned
by the wood, crossed a wide meadow with the frogs sunning themselves on the
banks of the little brooks that ran beneath the bridges of the causeway,
and the blackbirds singing in the low clumps of elder-bush that grew beside
them, and found himself, on the other side, rising another slight hillock
and at the back gate of the residence of Dr. Philip Pomeroy.

This was a house of modern construction, and of a completeness betokening
the wealth of the owner; standing near the crown of the hillock, with the
garden at the back sloping away towards the meadow (a bad slope, that
towards the north, all the agriculturists in the section averred); handsome
shrubbery in the broad yard lying before the pillared front or south face
of the house; and a good many fine trees of inconsiderable age, with the
pine everywhere predominant, promising abundant shade in coming years, both
in front and at the rear. The continuation of the blind road which crossed
the meadow, extended past the house on the west side, immediately beside
the pickets of the yard enclosure, and running across to the Darby road
afforded access to both the great highways, with only short distances of
travel, and at the price of opening an occasional gate, which merely
answered the purpose of stretching the cramped limbs of the rider. Some
persons, who knew the extensive practice of Dr. Pomeroy, were disposed to
wonder that he had not located himself immediately on one of the great
roads, with no necessity for traversing by-ways to reach them; while
others, who better knew the peculiarities of his will, believed that his
motive was a fancy for being comparatively isolated and a little baronial.
Whether he really had any motive whatever in selecting the location, except
the desire of pleasing himself, is a matter of very little consequence.

There was a light buggy, drawn by two magnificent horses, standing at a
post in the road, very near the house, at a little after noon on that day;
and within the house certain developments were at the same moment being
made, so illustrative of the depth to which human depravity can descend
when the rein is given to all base and unholy passions, that the pen of the
narrator, who is merely attempting a feeble recital of actual occurrences
in the real life of to-day, pauses at the task before it, the fact being so
certain that the circumstances about to be recorded will be supposed to
have sprung from the disorder of an unscrupulous imagination, instead of
being the fruit of sad research and knowledge that would be avoided if such
a thing was possible.

The middle portion of the front of the doctor's residence, immediately over
the somewhat narrow portico, was a sitting-room of small dimensions,
tastily furnished; while out of it opened a little bed-room, the white
curtains and snowy bed-drapery of which, seen in glimpses through the door,
suggested maiden purity and peace or that bridal rest which should be quite
as pure and holy. The sitting-room had at that moment two occupants; and
the picture presented was such as no looker-on would have been likely to
forget while he lived.

Nearly in the centre of the room stood a gentleman some years past middle
age, large framed and with large hands, tall and commanding in figure,
unexceptionably dressed in garments betraying the Quaker cut, and with that
air of undeniable respectability which no pretence can ever imitate,
conveyed by every motion of the man and every fold of his garments. He was
dark-eyed and with features a little prominent; and years had made a
perceptible mark on the smoothness of his face, at the same time that they
had heavily grayed his neat side-whiskers and dashed heavy masses of gray
among the still-curling locks that clustered upon his head. A merchant or
banker, evidently, from manner and general appearance--and one to whom the
idea of dishonorable conduct and the thought of a disgraced reputation
would be alike unendurable. With a face in which sorrow seemed to be
struggling with anger, this man stood holding a letter clenched in his
right hand, and looking down upon something at his feet. That something was
a woman.

The woman was kneeling, with hands clasped in entreaty, hair shaken
partially loose, face streaming with tears, and her whole system so shaken
by the sobs convulsing it that the most dangerous form of hysterics might
be very likely to follow that excitement. Even when kneeling it was to be
observed that her figure was tall, finely moulded and upright--that her
face was fair, pleasant, and notably handsome, though the features were too
small, the dark eyes mournful, and the general impression created that of
confiding helplessness very likely to degenerate into dangerous
weakness--that her hands were long, taper and delicate, as beseemed her
figure--that her brown hair was very full, rich, silken and glossy--and
that she had probably numbered some five-and-twenty summers. Formed to be
loved, protected and shielded from every harm, and certain to return for
that love and protection the most unreserved affection and the most
unquestioning obedience; and yet kneeling there with that upon her face
which told a tale of the most cruel outrage quite as plainly as the
quivering lips could speak it!

Much has been said of the sadness of the spectacle when a strong man weeps,
as compared to the same exhibition of feeling by a woman. It is equally sad
when a woman is seen kneeling to any other power than that of her God! It
seems man's province, given alike by nature and the laws of chivalry, to
bend his proud knee in other aspects than that of devotion; and even when
he is showing that prostration his eye may be glowing with the conscious
pride of the future conqueror; but what except the most abject shame or the
most overwhelming sorrow, can be shown when the delicate limb of womanhood
kisses the green sod or the floor beneath her tread? To save by pitiful
entreaties a perilled honor--to beg through blinding tears and choking
sobs the restoration of that honor lost, that can often so easily be given
back to her by the hands of the tyrant who will not hear her cry--to
implore the concealment of a shame too heavy to bear--to plead for the
forfeit life of some one dearer than the very pulses beating in her own
bosom--to moan for the restoration of some object of love and protection,
her babe perhaps, reft from her and her heart and her arms left alike
empty--ay, to wail for the boon of a crust that shall chase starvation from
the thin lips of herself or her child and keep them yet a little longer as
clinging sufferers upon the earth,--these have been the compelling motives
so often bending the knee of woman since the earliest day of recorded time.
And yet not one of all the long array of unchronicled martyrs has been
bowed under a deeper wrong than was that day made manifest, or uttered a
more piteous appeal than that day went up to heaven!

"Oh, do not cast me off!--do not desert me, Mr. Bladesden!" wailed a voice
that would have been marvellously sweet and tender had it not been broken
and roughened by grief, while her poor hands wrung and agonized themselves
in sad sympathy with the writhings of her cowering form. "Do not take away
from me my last hope of knowing one hour of peace before they put me into
the coffin! I am no worse to-day than I was yesterday! Oh, do pity and save
me, even if you cannot love me any longer!"

"I do pity thee, Eleanor Hill, and I should like to save thee if I could!"
answered a voice rich, full and strong, with only an occasional tremor in
its intonation, and the Quaker phraseology seeming to accord peculiarly
with the voice as well as the general appearance of the man. "But thou hast
deceived me, and the plain people--"

"Oh, no, I did not deceive you, Mr. Bladesden," the poor girl interrupted.
"Do let me speak! Do let me try if I cannot move your heart to believe that
I have never willingly done wrong--that I have never been intentionally
wicked!"

"Can thee deny what is in this letter, Eleanor Hill?" asked the Quaker,
his voice trembling, in spite of himself, a little more than it had before
done. Then he added, with something very like a sob in his throat, that
seemed strangely at variance with the general calmness of his demeanor: "I
am rich, Eleanor--very rich, men say; and yet I would give half of all that
I have won in these many years that have made my hair gray, if I could see
thee lay thy hand upon thy heart and look up in my face and say: 'The man
who writes this writes falsehood!'"

"I cannot--oh, God, you know that I cannot, Mr. Bladesden!" sobbed the poor
girl. "It is true in word, and yet heaven knows how false it is in spirit."

"Thee should not appeal to heaven so much, Eleanor, and thee should rise
from thy knees, for I will believe thee just as quickly in the one position
as the other, and the friendly people make their yea yea and their nay nay,
without taking the name of the Father every moment between their lips."

Eleanor Hill managed to rise from her knees and stagger to her feet; but
her position was not the less humble afterward, for she stood grasping the
back of a chair with both hands for support, and with her head bowed down
in such abject shame and humility that the change of posture seemed rather
to have been taking on an added degradation than putting one away.

"See, I have done as you told me to do!" she said, without looking up. "I
would be so obedient to you, always, if you would only take me away from
this misery and shame. Oh, why would he injure me so cruelly--me to whom he
should have been merciful, now, if there was any mercy in his nature!"

"Can thee say that Doctor Philip did not do right, if, as thee says, he
wrote this letter?" asked the Quaker, keeping his eyes steadily upon the
crouching woman, and making no motion to change the distance between them.
"Thee had deceived me, and he knew it. He was sure, perhaps, that thee had
not told me all, and--"

"I told you, months ago, when you first spoke of making me your wife, Mr.
Bladesden," said the poor girl, with one momentary lifting of the bowed
head and one transient flash of womanly spirit--"that I could not give you
a whole heart--that my life had been very unfortunate, and that if I
consented to marry you, you must promise never to ask me one question of my
miserable past. Do you remember that I did?"

"Thee did tell me so much, Eleanor," answered the Quaker. "But thee only
indicated misfortune--not guilt."

"I have _not_ been guilty--I was never guilty!" spoke the girl, the
momentary flash of womanhood not yet extinguished. "You will not let me
appeal to heaven, Mr. Bladesden, yet I must do so once more. I call upon
the all-seeing God to punish me with even worse grief and shame than I have
already borne, if there has ever been one guilty wish in my mind towards
that man or any other--if I have not been forced or deceived into every act
which makes you despise me to-day."

The Quaker turned away, the letter still in his hand, and walked toward the
window. He lifted the other hand to his brow and seemed to brush away
something that troubled him; and he yet retained that position towards the
girl, as he said, after the pause of a moment:

"I believe thee speaks the truth, Eleanor Hill."

"You do believe me! Oh, thank you for that mercy, if no more!" and the poor
girl had stepped forward, caught his disengaged hand in both hers and
lifted it to her lips, before he could prevent her. Then something in his
manner, as he turned, seemed to chill her again to the heart, and she fell
back silent to the support of the chair.

"I believe thee so far, and yet thee deceived me."

"How _could_ I tell you all, Mr. Bladesden? How _could_ I publish my own
shame? Oh, why was I ever born!" and the voice had sunk low again, and the
spirit seemed crushed quite as completely as before.

"Thee blames Dr. Philip, and yet Dr. Philip was a better friend to me than
thee was; for thee would have allowed me to bring disgrace upon my name,
and he would not."

The proverbial worm turns when trodden upon. Eleanor Hill had little native
spirit, and she had been the veriest worm of the dust throughout all that
terrible interview; but this last deadly stab at the vitals of her faith,
given in laudation of her destroyer, seemed too much for human endurance,
and there was yet one spark of spirit left in the very ashes of disgrace.

"Nathan Bladesden," she said, standing fully erect, and anger usurping the
place of shame in her face, "I am satisfied! I will kneel to you no
more--beg you for mercy no more! If you are base enough to defend the man
who could write that letter, and to call his action honorable, I would
rather crawl out into the road and beg my bread from door to door, than to
call you husband; and I thank heaven even for that letter which has saved
me from a worse man than Philip Pomeroy!"

Life and society are both full of terrible struggles. Perhaps there is no
conflict of them all, more enduring in its character, or more racking to
those necessarily engaged in it, than that which is fought by those who
take the Sermon on the Mount as their declared pattern, and attempt to
carry out the principles it enunciates. To forgive when smitten is
God-like; but, oh, how difficult for any mere man! To love an enemy is an
injunction coming down to us from a higher and purer source than that which
gave the philosophy once taught in the Groves of Academe; but, oh, how
impossible for any man to do in reality, until he has been baptized with
fire! While others have waged this conflict desultorily and in isolated
instances, for nearly three centuries, the Quakers have waged it as a sect,
entitling themselves alike to wonder and admiration. They have practised a
non-resistance unaccountable to the fiery children of the world, and stark
madness on any other supposition than that there is really a special
protecting Hand over those who heed the peaceful injunction. They have
triumphed alike in society and in savage life, when the strong hand failed
and the maxims of worldly wisdom became powerless. And on the faces of the
men and women of the sect, to-day--beneath the broad hat of the Friend,
under the close gray bonnet of his wife, on brow and cheek of the Quaker
maiden with her softly-folded hair, and even in eye and lip of the young
man subjected to temptations which have power to fever and wreck all
others,--in all, there is the record of a long line of men at peace with
God, themselves, and the world, as easily read and as unmistakable as are
the traces of toil, unrest, and consuming passion on the countenances of
those who have fought through the world with the defiant heart and the
strong hand. They have met despisers as well as foes, outside of their own
charmed circle; but they have also met admirers. And to-day there are men
who could not and who would not take up their cross of self-control and
occasional self-denial so long and so patiently carried,--but who cannot
and will not refuse to them the tribute of heart-felt admiration, and who
often heave fruitless sighs towards that land of mental peace from which
they are themselves excluded, because they neither share its blood nor know
the tongue of its speech.

But the Quaker has not conquered without struggling, and he has not always
conquered at any sacrifice. Twice, the old men of the Revolution used to
tell us, the _Pater Patriæ_ was known to vent words of even profane
anger--once, when the Continental troops failed him on the day of Long
Island, and again, when Lee disappointed his just expectations and almost
broke his line of battle at Monmouth. These were the two great exceptions
proving the rule of his habitual self-command and his religious purity of
speech; and the occasional outburst of anger in the Quaker blood may be
held to illustrate the same self-control--to prove its abiding existence by
the weight of the shock which momentarily throws it into confusion.

The face of Nathan Bladesden showed, as Eleanor Hill spoke the last words
already recorded, a mental conflict to which he was evidently little
accustomed. The calm cheek flushed, the smooth brow corrugated, and the
dark eye was for the moment so nearly fierce that the purity of the Quaker
blood might well have been doubted. And when she had finished, the lips of
the merchant uttered words, at which words themselves and their tone the
speaker would equally have shuddered half an hour before:

"Doctor Philip Pomeroy is an infernal scoundrel--unfit to live! He deserves
to be killed, and I could kill him with my own hands!"

"Ha!" It was something like a cry of joy from the lips of the poor girl.
"Oh, I am so glad! You know this man--you hate him--you have only been
trying me--you----" and her brow and cheeks glowed with excitement as she
looked up in the Quaker's face. Then her eyes fell again, for she did not
read there what she had been led to expect by his words. There was anger,
but no pity; and even the anger was dying out under the strong habit of
self-control, as rapidly as the momentary glow of a slight conflagration
goes down under the dense volume of water poured upon it by the engine.

"Thee mistakes me, Eleanor Hill!" he said. "I may follow the evil ways of
the world's people so far as to hate the bad man who has ruined thee, but I
have been speaking to thee in all earnest. I have not been 'trying thee,'
as thee calls it. I pity thee, truly, and would help thee, but--"

"But in the only way in which you _could_ help me, Nathan Bladesden, by
lifting me out of this horrible pit in which my feet are sinking lower and
lower every day in defiance of all my struggles and all my prayers--you
desert me and leave me to perish. I understand you at last, and God help
you and me!"

"Thee knows I cannot marry thee, Eleanor Hill, after what has passed," said
the Quaker, apologetically.

"I know nothing of the kind, Nathan Bladesden!" answered the girl, no tears
in her eyes now, and her words short and even petulant. "You have nothing
to do with my past, any more than I with yours, to come to the truth of the
matter! You know, in your own soul, that had you despised the malice of
that serpent in human shape, and kept the engagement you had made with me,
no man on earth would have owned a more faithful or a more loving wife. But
you have cast me off, degraded me even lower than before in my own sight,
made me kneel to you as I should only have kneeled to my Father in heaven;
and this is the end."

"Eleanor--" the Quaker began to say; but the girl interrupted him.

"Please don't say another word to me! I understand you, now, and I know my
fate. Let me have that letter, and do not speak any more in the streets, of
the shame of a woman whom you once professed to love, than is absolutely
necessary; and I shall never ask another favor of you in this world."

"Eleanor Hill, thee is doubting my honor!" said the Quaker, alike
forgetting that such idle words as "honor" were only supposed to belong to
the "world's people," and that his voice was becoming so low and broken
that he could scarcely make himself understood.

"You have done more than doubt mine!" answered the girl, bitterly. "You
have told me, in so many words, that because I had been cruelly wronged and
outraged by a man who should have cared for me and protected me, I had no
'honor' left. We begin to understand each other."

A moment of silence, the girl weeping again but not convulsively as before;
the Quaker with his hand upon his brow and his eyes hidden. How materially
the situation had changed within a few minutes, since Eleanor Hill was
kneeling with clasped hands and tearing out her heart with sobs. Yet
another moment of silence, and then the merchant said:

"I am going away, Eleanor. Has thee nothing more to say to me?"

"Not another word, Mr. Bladesden!" answered the girl, through her set
teeth. The Quaker raised his head, looked at her face for one moment, and
then slowly moved towards the door, still looking towards her. She made no
movement, as he seemed to expect that she would do, and as it seemed
possible that some changed action on his part might depend upon her doing.

"Farewell, Eleanor!" The Quaker stood in the door, hat in hand.

"Good-bye, Mr. Bladesden!" The girl still remained on the other side of the
room, as if either too much stupefied or too indignant to make any nearer
approach. The next moment Nathan Bladesden had left the room and descended
the stairs; and within two minutes after, seated alone in the buggy, behind
his span of fast horses, he was bowling along towards the Darby road,
apparently driving at such speed as if he would willingly fly as fast as
possible away from a scene where his manhood had been severely tested and
not found proof in extremity.

For an instant after the departure of the Quaker, Eleanor Hill stood erect
as he had last seen her. Both hands were pressed upon her heart, and it
might have seemed doubtful whether she had nerved herself to that position
or lacked power to quit it. Then her eyes fell upon the letter which
Bladesden, when she requested him to leave it, had dropped upon a chair;
and at the sight the spell, whatever it was, gave way. The poor girl
dropped upon her knees before another chair which stood near her, with a
cry of such heart-breaking agony as must have moved any heart, not utterly
calloused, that listened to it,--dashed her hand into her long, dishevelled
hair with such a gesture as indicated that she would madly tear it out by
the roots in handfuls, then desisted and broke out through moans and sobs
into one of those prayers which the purists believe are seldom or never
forgiven by the heaven to which they are addressed--a prayer for immediate
death!

"Oh God!--let me die! Do let me die, here and at this moment! I cannot
live and be so wretched! Let me die!--oh, let me die!"

Whether unpardonable or not, the prayer was certainly impious; for next to
that last extremity of crime which any man commits when he dismisses his
own life, is his crime when he becomes a suicide in heart and wish, without
daring to use the physical force necessary for that consummation. Despair
is cowardice; the theft of time is a sin that no amendment can repay; and
the robbery of that time which heaven allots to a human life, whether in
act or thought, is something over which humanity well may shudder.

But Eleanor Hill's impious prayer had no answer--at least no answer except
the denial found in the breath of life which still fluttered from her
nostrils and the blood which seemed to flow in torture through the poor
frame sympathizing with the mind within. The aspiration was scarcely yet
dead upon her lips when there was a footfall on the floor behind her; and
she sprung up with one wild desperate hope darting through her brain, that
the stern judge had at last relented after leaving her presence--that he
had proved himself capable of a great sacrifice and returned to extricate
her feet from the pit into which she was so irretrievably sinking. But that
hope died on the instant, another and if possible a madder one taking its
place; for before her, as she turned, stood Carlton Brand, though so
disfigured and changed in appearance that any one except the most intimate
of acquaintances might have been excused for doubting his identity.

The young lawyer had always been noted for a neatness of personal
appearance approaching to dandyism without reaching that mark; and only an
hour before, in face and garb, he would have attracted attention in any
circle, from the perfection of every appointment. Now, his face was bruised
and swollen; his eyes were bloodshot and fiery; one lappel of his coat was
torn from the collar; his coat and his nether garments were soiled and
dusty; his hat was crushed and out of shape; and every detail of his
presence seemed to be marred in corresponding proportion. A rough
peasant's or a highwayman's disguise for a masquerade, would scarcely have
changed him more than he had been changed, without the least premeditation,
by that little rencontre with Dick Compton, to which we have already been
unbidden witnesses. Absorbed as poor Eleanor Hill was in her own situation,
she could scarcely suppress a scream when she saw the aspect of a man who
always appeared before her so differently; and there was fright as well as
concern in her voice as she said:

"Why, Carlton Brand! Good heaven!--what _has_ happened to you?"

"Much, Eleanor!" answered the lawyer, dropping into a chair with every
indication of weariness, and wiping his heated brow with a handkerchief
which showed that it had been soiled in removing some of the grime from his
clothing.

"Your clothes are torn--your face is swollen! Have you been
attacked?--beaten? Are you seriously hurt?" inquired the girl, coming close
to him and laying her hand on his shoulder with the affectionate anxiety
which a sister might have shown. These women have no bounds to that
sympathy which alternately makes them angels and lures them on the road to
be fiends; and there is probably no true woman, who had ever been wife,
sweetheart or mother, but would forget at least one pang of her pain on the
rack, in sympathy for some wronged and suffering person who approached her!

"Oh, no!" and Carlton Brand tried to laugh and made a miserable failure of
the attempt, with his bruised face and swollen mouth. "Do not be alarmed,
Eleanor. I have simply been in a little encounter with one of my neighbors,
and--I scarcely know what has happened--I believe my clothes are torn and I
suppose that I am disfigured a little."

"Disfigured a little! Good heaven, I should think you were!" said the girl,
coming still closer and looking into his face. As she did so, the eyes of
the lawyer, not too bloodshot for sight if they were for grace of aspect,
detected the swollen condition of her face, the fearful redness of her
eyes, and the various symptoms which told through what a storm of shame and
sorrow she had lately been passing. He started to his feet at once,
grasping her hand:

"Eleanor, _you_ are worse hurt than myself! Tell me what has happened! Has
he been torturing you again?"

"Oh, yes," answered the poor girl--"worse than torturing me! I could bear
his personal cruelty, for I have grown used to it. But he has just made me
lose my last hope in life, and I have nothing left me but to die!"

"Your last hope?" echoed Carlton Brand. "What? Has Mr. Bladesden--"

"Mr. Bladesden has just been here," answered Eleanor Hill, choking down the
grief and indignation that were so painfully combating each other in her
throat, dropping her head as she had done a few minutes before in the
presence of the merchant, and holding out in her hand the crushed letter
which Bladesden had dropped as he left the house. "Mr. Bladesden has just
been here, and he brought this letter to read to me. It had been sent to
his store, and he received it this morning. You can see, after reading it,
what hope in life he has left me!"

"Curse him! He deserves eternal perdition, and will find it!"

Carlton Brand had momentarily forgotten his own troubles in the evident
anguish of the young girl, just as a few moments before she had merged all
those sorrows in anxiety for his personal safety. He took the letter she
handed, smoothed out the crumpled folds made in it by the grasp of anger
and shame, and read the damning words that follow--words so black and
dastardly that one of the fiends from the lower pit might come back to
earth to clear away from his name the suspicion that he had ever penned
them. A few sentences of this _bona fide_ communication are necessarily
omitted, in an interest easily understood:


                           WEST PHILADELPHIA, _June --, 1863._

     MR. NATHAN BLADESDEN:

     SIR:--You are a merchant of respectability, as well as a
     member of the Society of Friends--a society for which I have
     the highest respect, although I do not happen to have been
     born a member of it. I should very much regret to see you
     made the victim of a designing woman, and linked for life to
     one who would bring disgrace upon your name and family.
     Report says that you are engaged to be married, or that you
     very probably may be so at an early period, to Miss Eleanor
     Hill, the ward for some years of Dr. Philip Pomeroy, and who
     is still resident in the house of that medical gentleman. I
     suppose that you know very little of the early history of
     the young lady, as, if you had known, you would never have
     allowed yourself to be entangled in that manner. Her father
     left her a few thousands of dollars in property, which she
     no doubt has the reputation of still possessing, while I
     have very good reason to know that it has really all (or
     nearly all) been used up in unfortunate speculations by
     different persons to whom she intrusted it, and that she is
     little else than a beggar, except as the Doctor offers her a
     home. As to her personal character, which is the thing of
     greatest consequence at the present moment,--Miss Hill was a
     very giddy girl, and many of her friends had fears for her
     future; but none of them foresaw what would indeed be the
     issue of the unfortunate situation in which she was placed.
     I am writing this letter, as you must be aware, for no
     purposes of my own, and simply to serve an honorable man who
     seems to have been tricked and cajoled by unscrupulous
     people. As a consequence, I must ask of you as a right which
     you cannot disregard, that you will not show this letter to
     Dr. Pomeroy, who might know enough of the direction from
     which such a revelation would be likeliest to come, to
     awaken his suspicion and put him in the way of injuring me.
     This promised, I now go on to state what you will never
     cease to thank me for communicating to you, if you are the
     high-toned man of honor that I suppose. Dr. Pomeroy is well
     known to be a man of somewhat violent passions; and though I
     believe that his conduct has been nearly spotless during his
     professional career, yet there are stains against him for
     which he is probably the sorriest of men in his calmer
     moments. Miss Hill, as I have said, was giddy and
     thoughtless, if no worse; and very soon after the death of
     her father, those who happened to see her in company with
     her guardian, noticed that she paid him attentions which
     showed a very warm personal attachment, while he received
     them as a bachelor man of the world could not very well
     avoid receiving such marks of regard from a young and pretty
     girl. How long this went on, I am not at liberty to say,
     even if I have any means of knowing: it is enough that, to
     my knowledge and that of more than one person with whom you
     are acquainted, the natural result followed. If there was
     any seduction, I should be puzzled to say on which side the
     art was used; but perhaps when you remember that the lady
     has, during all your acquaintance with her, (at least I
     presume so, from your continuing to visit her,) passed
     herself off on you as pure enough to be worthy of the honor
     of your hand, you may be able to form some idea whether she
     might not have been quite as much in fault as her partner in
     crime. I say "partner in crime," as I have no wish or motive
     to shelter Dr. Pomeroy. Perhaps I ought not to say more, and
     indeed my pen hesitates when I attempt to set down what I
     consider so lamentable, as well as so culpable. But I must
     go on, after going thus far. The secret of Miss Hill's
     remaining at the house of Dr. Pomeroy after her attainment
     of majority, is that a guilty attachment and connection has
     existed between them for not less than five years past,
     unsuspected by most persons who know them, but well known to
     myself and some others, at least one of whom has been the
     accidental witness of their crime. If you should think
     proper to tax her with this depravity, and she should choose
     to deny this statement, by way of convincing yourself
     whether this is a foul calumny or a bitter truth, ask her *
     * * * * * * * I hope and believe that you will take the
     warning that I have thus conveyed, and not give yourself any
     trouble to discover the writer, who does not conceal his
     name from any other motives than those which you can
     understand and approve.

                                             A TRUE FRIEND.



Carlton Brand read through this precious document without speaking--a
document not worse in motive than all other anonymous communications, any
one of which should subject the perpetrator, if discovered, to cropped ears
and slitted tongue,--but worse than all others of its evil kind in the
atrocity of its surrounding circumstances, as the reader will have no
difficulty in believing when a little additional light is shed upon the
personality of the writer by the chapters immediately following.



CHAPTER VII.

     A RETURN TO 1856--NICHOLAS HILL, IRON MERCHANT--HIS DEATH,
     HIS DAUGHTER AND HIS FRIEND--HOW DR. POMEROY BECAME A
     GUARDIAN, AND HOW HE DISCHARGED THAT DUTY--A RUIN AND AN
     AWAKENING--THE MARKET VALUE OF DUNDERHAVEN STOCK IN 1858.


Seven years before 1863, and consequently in 1856, died Nicholas Hill, a
merchant of Philadelphia, whose place of business on Market Street above
Third had been the seat of a respectable though not remarkably extensive
trade, for nearly a quarter of a century. His trade had been in iron and
hardware, but the material of his stock by no means entered into his own
composition, for he was a man somewhat noted for his quiet and retiring
manners and a pliancy of spirit making him at times the victim of the
unscrupulously plausible. His private fortune met with sundry serious
drawbacks on account of this weakness, though a generally prosperous
business enabled him to keep intact the few thousands which he had already
won, and gradually if slowly to add to the accumulation. He had remained a
widower since the death of his wife ten years before his own demise; and
his pleasant though quiet little house on Locust Street, had only contained
one member of his family besides himself, for years before his death--his
only daughter and only child, Eleanor.

The warmest and longest-continued friendships are very often formed by
persons diametrically opposed in character and disposition; and the rule
seemed to hold good in the instance under notice. A friendship formed
several years before between the merchant and Dr. Philip Pomeroy, when the
latter was a practising physician resident in the city proper, had never
died out or become weakened, at least in the heart of the confiding and
quiet dealer in iron, and there was no reason to believe that the sentiment
had been more transient in the breast of the physician. Mr. Hill had been
suffering under the incipient threats of consumption, for years, and the
doctor had been his medical attendant, as before the death of his wife he
had filled the same confidential relation towards that lady and the other
members of his household. Neither personally nor by marriage had the
merchant any near relatives in the city or its vicinity; and his retiring
disposition was such that while he made many friends in the ordinary
acceptation of the word, he had few who stood in that peculiar relation
which the French, supplying a noun which has scarcely yet crept into our
own language, designate as _les intimes_.

It was not strange, then, that when Nicholas Hill was suddenly seized with
hemorrhage of the lungs and brought home in an almost dying condition from
his store, one afternoon in November, 1856, Dr. Pomeroy, who was hurriedly
summoned to his aid, was summoned quite as much in the capacity of friend
as in that of medical attendant. The story of life or death was soon told.
The merchant had believed, from the moment of attack, that his day of
probation was over; and, apart from his natural anxiety for the welfare of
his only child, there was little tie to bind the sufferer to earth. His
wife--his wife that day as much as she had been at any period of their
wedded life,--had long been awaiting him, as he believed, in a better
world; and there is something in the facility with which those quiet, good
people, who seem never to have enjoyed existence with the fiery zest which
tingles in finger and lip of the sons of pleasure and sorrow, give up their
hold upon being and pass away into the infinite unknown which lies beyond
the dark valley,--something that may well make it a matter of question
whether theirs is not after all the golden secret of human happiness, for
which all ages have been studying and delving.

The doctor came, with that rapidity which was usual with him, and with
every mark of intense interest on his face and in his general demeanor. He
found the invalid sinking rapidly, and his attendants, the weeping
Eleanor, then a handsome, promising but defectively-educated girl of near
eighteen, and two or three of the ladies of the near neighborhood who had
gathered in to tender their services when it was known that the merchant
had been brought home in a dying condition. A few words from the sufferer,
uttered in a low tone almost in the ear of the stooping physician, and then
all the others were sent out of the room except his daughter, whose
pleading gesture, asking to be allowed to remain within the room was not
disregarded, but who was motioned by the doctor to take her place at the
window, beyond supposed hearing of the words that were to pass between the
two friends.

"Tell me the exact truth," said the low voice of Nicholas Hill, when these
dispositions had been made. "I am prepared to hear any judgment which your
lips may speak. There is no hope for me?--I am dying?"

Either the doctor could not speak, or he would not. He merely bowed his
head in a manner that the questioner well understood.

"So I thought, from the first," said the dying man. "The life blood does
not flow away in that manner for nothing. And I do not know that I regret
the end, for I have lived almost as long as I could make myself useful, and
I think I am as nearly prepared to die as poor, fallen humanity can hope to
be."

"I hope and believe that you are indeed prepared to die, my dear, good
friend," answered the doctor, with feeling in his tone, and the feeble hand
of the sufferer meanwhile within his. "I cannot hold out a false hope to
you--you cannot live. How gladly science and friendship would both join
hands in doing something to keep you in the world, you know; but how much
we shall all miss you and grieve for you, you do _not_ know."

"That you will miss me, I hope," said the dying man. "But there is no
occasion whatever to grieve for me. It is a peaceful end, I think, and in
God's own good time. I have but one anxiety."

He paused, and the doctor nodded his head towards the side of the room
where poor Eleanor was sitting, trying to distract her own thoughts by
looking out of the window. The father saw that he understood him, and
pressed the hand that he held.

"Yes, you have guessed rightly," he said. "My only anxiety is for the fate
of my child. Eleanor is a good girl, but she is yet very young, and she
will need protection."

"She shall find it!" said the doctor, solemnly.

The face of the dying man lit up with an expression of the sincerest
pleasure and happiness, and his feeble grasp again pressed the hand of high
health which lay so near his own ebbing pulse.

"I believe you and I thank you, my friend as well as physician," he
replied. "I have not been afraid to think of this day, as they tell me that
so many are; and my affairs are in some degree prepared for it. I have a
handsome property, though not a large one, and you will find a will lying
in the private drawer of the safe at the store. With the exception of a few
legacies to friends, a small one to yourself included--it all goes to
Eleanor, and you will find yourself named my executor."

"A confidence which flatters me, and which I hope I shall deserve," said
the doctor, as the enfeebled man again paused for a moment.

"I _know_ that you will," the sufferer resumed. "Thanks to my property,
Eleanor will not be a burthen to you, except in the demand of _care_. Her
few relatives, as you know, are distant ones, and none of them reside
nearer than California. There will be none to interfere with you in guiding
her aright, keeping her pure in her remaining years of girlhood, and
watching over her until she becomes the wife of some honorable man, or in
some other way ceases to need your protection."

"I accept the charge as freely as it is given, and I will perform it as I
would for one of my own blood!" was the solemn answer of the medical man.

"I knew that before I asked, or I should never have asked at all!" said the
dying man. "Eleanor, my daughter, come here."

The young girl obeyed and knelt beside the bed, striving to restrain her
sobs and tears. The father laid his hand on her head and gently smoothed
the masses of dark brown hair with fingers that would so soon be beyond
capacity for such a caress.

"Eleanor," he said, "you are almost a woman in years, and you must be
altogether a woman, now. I am going to leave you--I may leave you in a few
minutes."

"Oh, I know it, father!--dear, dear father! Oh, what will become of me?"
and in spite of her efforts to restrain herself she sobbed and choked
piteously.

"You will be cared for, my child, not only by heaven but by kind friends;
and you must not grieve so over what does not grieve me at all," said the
departing parent. "Dr. Pomeroy is to be the executor of my estate, and your
guardian. Love and obey him, my daughter, in every thing, as you would love
and obey me if I was allowed to remain with you. Do you understand me?--do
you promise me, Eleanor?"

"I do understand you!--I do promise you, dear, dear father!" sobbed the
young girl. "I will obey Dr. Philip, and try to be good all my life, so
that I can meet you where I know that you are going to meet my mother."

"My dear, good child!--you and the doctor have made me so happy! Kiss me
now, Eleanor, and then let me sleep a few moments." And directly after that
kiss of agonized love was given, he fell back upon his pillow--as if he was
indeed dropping into a quiet sleep; but the doctor felt the hand that lay
within his relax its pressure, one or two sighs fluttered from the
quivering lips, while a light foam tinged with blood crept up to them and
bubbled there, and the moment after Eleanor Hill was fatherless.

And yet the poor girl who sobbed so heart-brokenly over the corpse of one
who had been to her the truest and kindest of parents, was not fatherless
in that desolate sense in which the word is so often used. The ties of
blood might be rudely broken, but did not the hand of true friendship stand
ready to assert itself? Had not Philip Pomeroy promised the friend of
years, that he would be father and protector to her--that he would shelter
her with all the power given to his ripe manhood, and hold her pure as the
very angels, so far as he had power to direct her course? No--not
fatherless: the weeping girl, in the midst of her sobs and unfelt caresses
over what had once been the father of her idolatry, appreciated the truth
and was partially comforted.

It so chanced that Dr. Pomeroy, in his domestic relations, was admirably
placed for offering a home to the daughter of his dead friend. Marrying did
not seem to run in the Pomeroy family, for not only was the doctor a
confirmed bachelor, some years past middle age, but his only living sister
had kept herself free, like him, of matrimonial chains, and presided
pleasantly over his household under her maiden name of Miss Hester Pomeroy.
While the removal of a young girl of eighteen to a bachelor's residence,
without the cover of female society, might have seemed grossly improper in
spite of the color given to it by the guardianship so lately acquired,
there could be no impropriety whatever in her becoming the companion and to
some extent the pupil of the bachelor's maiden sister of forty.

Dr. Pomeroy's residence was at that time within the city limits, though in
that extreme upper section bordering on the Schuylkill; but his practice
had been gradually extending out into the country over the river; and ideas
long cherished, of a residence beyond the reach of the noises of the great
city, were gradually becoming realized. At the time of the death of his
friend, that mansion which it has just been our sad privilege to enter,
was in the course of erection; and in the spring which followed he took up
his abode within it, with his sister, his ward, and that array of domestics
necessary for a man of his supposed wealth and somewhat expensive habits.

It did indeed seem that Eleanor Hill was blessed among orphans if not among
women. Her tears dried easily, as they had good cause to do. The residence
to which she had been removed was a very handsome and even a luxurious one;
Miss Hester Pomeroy was one of those good easy souls who neither possess
any strength of character themselves nor envy it in others,--with an almost
idolizing admiration of her gifted and popular brother, and a belief that
no movement of his could be other than the best possible under the
circumstances; and the doctor himself, a man of fine education,
distinguished manners, admitted professional skill, and an uprightness of
carriage which seemed to more than atone for any lack of suavity in his
demeanor--the doctor himself appeared to be anxious, from the first, that
no shadow of accusation should lie against his name, of inattention to the
ward committed to his charge. From the day of her coming into his house,
whenever his professional engagements would allow, he spent much time in
the society of Eleanor, greatly to the delight of Miss Hester, who had
thought herself very unattractive company and wished that her gifted
brother had some one in the house more worthy to be his companion. He
selected books for the young girl; brought home others; directed her
studies into channels calculated to form her mind (at least some portions
of it); invited the young people of the neighborhood to meet her; drove her
out frequently; took such care of her health as he might have done of that
of a darling daughter or an idolized sweetheart; and gave evidence that
none could doubt, of his intention to fulfil in the most liberal and
conscientious manner the sacred promises he had made over the death-bed of
her father.

To the young girl, meanwhile her surroundings became Elysium. She had warm
affections, of that clinging character which finds no difficulty in
fastening almost anywhere if permitted time and quiet. She had little force
of will and still less of that serpent wisdom which discerns the shadow of
danger before that danger really approaches. She was equally good, by
nature, and weak by disposition--formed of that material out of which good
wives and mothers are so easily made, and which may, on the other hand, be
fashioned so easily into the most melancholy semblance of lost womanhood.
She was handsome, if not strictly beautiful, and the lips of her guardian,
so strict to most others, told her so with smiles and low-breathed words.
She was flattered by his preference, paid her deferentially in public and
yet more unreservedly when none but themselves heard the words he
uttered,--proud to be thus distinguished by one so attractive in appearance
and unimpeachable in position,--bound to him by that obedience enjoined by
her dying father, and by that strong tie of gratitude which she felt to be
due to her willing and unrecompensed protector,--and brought into that
close communion with his strong mind which could not fail to sway an
unmeasured influence over her, by those studies in poetry, romance and
philosophy which he had himself directed.

It is an old story, and melancholy as old. Before she had been six months
an inmate of the house of Dr. Pomeroy, Eleanor Hill loved him as madly as
young, defenceless and untrained girlhood can love that which supplies its
best ideal and lures it on by the most specious of pretences. Not more than
that time had elapsed, when she would have plucked out her heart and laid
it in his hand, had he asked it and had such an act of bodily
self-sacrifice been possible. Less than a year, and the tale of her destiny
was told. For weeks before, the words of her "guardian" and "father" had
been such as ill became either relation, but not warmer, still, than the
snared heart of the young girl craved and echoed. Then came that promise of
the dearest tie on earth, which falls on the ear of loving woman with a
sweeter sound than any other ever uttered under the sun or stars. He loved
her--that proud, high-spirited, distinguished man, the friend of her
father, and the man for whose hand (so he had told her, not boastingly but
in pity, and so she had every reason to believe) the wealthiest, the most
beautiful and the most arrogant belles of Broad Street and Girard Avenue
had been willing to barter all their pride and all their coyness--he loved
_her_, the poor young and comparatively portionless girl, held her worthy
to be his wife, and was willing to share his high destiny with her!

What marvel that the untutored heart beat faster than its wont, when that
golden gate of paradise was opened in expectation to her eyes? What marvel
that all the lessons of childhood, which stood between her and obedience to
the master of her destiny, were forgotten or only remembered with
abhorrence? What marvel that the past became a dream, the present dull and
unendurable, and only the delirious future worth a wish or a thought? What
marvel that one evening when the full moon of August was peeping in through
the trees which already began to cast their shade over the new home into
the room where the "guardian" and the "ward" were sitting alone
together--when the air seemed balm and the earth heaven--when the
night-sounds of late summer made a sadness that was not sorrow, and
temptation put on the very robes of holy feeling to do its evil work--when
the lips of the subtle, bad, unscrupulous man of the world repeated words
as sweet as they were unmeaning, promises as hollow as they were delicious
and prayers as bewildering as they were sacrilegious--when the heart of the
young girl had proved traitor to her senses and all the guardian angels of
her maidenhood had fled away and left her to a conflict for which she had
neither wisdom nor strength--what marvel that the moment of total madness
came to one and perhaps to both, and that before it ended Eleanor Hill lay
upon the breast of her destroyer, a poor dishonored thing, frightened,
delirious, half-senseless, and yet blindly happier in her shame than she
had ever been while the white doves still folded their wings above her!

We know something of ends and something of intermediary occurrences, but
very little of beginnings. The common eye can see the oak from a tiny
sprout to its lordship of the forest, but none may behold the first
movement of the germ in the buried acorn. The unnatural rebellion of
Absalom, the reckless treason of Arnold, the struggle for universal empire
of Napoleon, all stand out boldly on the historic page, as they appeared at
the moment of culmination; but who sees the disobedient son of David when
he walks out into the night with the first unfilial curse upon his lips, or
the arch-traitor of the Western Continent as he starts from his sleep with
the first thought of his black deed creeping under his hair and curdling
his blood, or the victor of Marengo nursing his first far-off vision of the
dangerous glory yet to be! We can know nothing more of the beginnings of
vice in the hearts of the great criminals of private life. It can never be
known, until all other secrets are unveiled before the eyes of a startled
universe, whether Dr. Pomeroy, (no imaginary character, but a personage too
real and very slightly disguised), in this ruin wrought by his hand had
been acting the part of an unmitigated scoundrel from the beginning, a lie
upon his lip and mockery in his heart when he promised the dying Nicholas
Hill protection to his helpless daughter, and every act and word of his
intercourse with her subtly calculated to bring about the one unholy
end,--or whether he had merely _permitted_ himself, without early
premeditation, to do the unpardonable evil which proved so convenient. For
the welfare of the victim, it seemed a question of little consequence: for
the credit of humanity, always enough disgraced, at best, by its robbers
and cut-throats of the moral highway, it may be at least worth a thought.
After events make it doubtful whether the very worst had not been intended
and labored for from the outset; and certain it is that if there had before
been one redeeming trait to temper the moral baseness of Philip Pomeroy,
from the moment when that ruin was accomplished no obstacle of goodness
hindered his way towards the end of the irredeemable. If he had before kept
terms with Eleanor Hill and his own soul, he kept those terms no longer.

The poor girl had of course no right to be happy in her new and guilty
relation, and yet she was so for a time--almost entirely happy. She had
been wooed and won (oh, how fearfully _won_!) under an explicit promise of
marriage and with continual repetitions of words of respect which left her
no room to doubt the good faith of the man who uttered them. She was more
than a little weak, as has already been said; very unsuspicious and
clinging in her trust; and neither wise enough to know that the man who
respected her sufficiently to make her his wife, no insurmountable obstacle
lying in his way, would have made her so before laying his hand on the hem
of the garment of her purity,--or precise enough to feel that any disgrace
had really fallen upon her, which would not be removed the moment that
promise of marriage was fulfilled. Then, by a natural law which can be
easily understood if it cannot be explained, the young girl a thousand
times more deeply loved the master of her destiny because he had made
himself entirely so; and for a time, at least, the conduct of the victor
towards his helpless captive was full of such exquisite tenderness in
private that she could not have found room for a regret had her heart even
revolted at the situation in which she was placed. He did not speak of an
immediate fulfilment of his promise of marriage--no, but he had before
hinted that owing to certain temporary circumstances (oh, those "temporary
circumstances"!) the hour when he could make her his own before the world
must be yet a little delayed; and so the young heart took no fright at the
procrastination. Good Miss Hester, meanwhile, saw nothing suspicious and
suspected nothing improper. Perhaps she saw a deeper light of tenderness in
the eyes of the poor betrayed girl, when they beamed upon him who should
have been her husband; and perhaps she saw that her brother treated his
ward with even more delicate attention than he had shown during the months
before; but the spinster's eyes had no skill to read beneath the mask of
either, and if she thought upon the subject at all her impressions were not
likely to go farther than the mental remark: "How good Philip is to
Eleanor; how obedient to him she seems to be; and how happy for both that
he ever became her guardian and she his charge!"

Under such circumstances the awakening, even a partial one, could not come
otherwise than very slowly. But unless the young girl was an absolute idiot
or utterly depraved, an awakening must come at some period or other. Though
weak and ill-trained, Eleanor Hill was by no means an idiot; and the angels
of heaven could look down and see that through all that had occurred there
had been no depravity in her soul, no coarse, sensual passion in her
nature. If she had fallen, she had been sacrificed on the altar of man's
unscrupulous libertinism, and offering up the incense, meanwhile, of a
good, yielding, compliant, worshipping heart. The moral perceptions may
have been blunted, but they were not annihilated; the reason may have been
choked and dizzied in the flood of feeling, but it was immortal and could
not be drowned.

Months had elapsed after the culmination of their intercourse, before the
sense of right became strong enough and the heart bold enough, for the
young girl to hint at the fulfilment of what had been so long delayed. The
answer was a passionate kiss and an assurance that "only a little time more
should elapse--just yet it would not be prudent and was in fact
impossible." Eleanor wondered: she had not yet learned to doubt; and for a
time she kept silent. Again, a few weeks later, and the question was
repeated. This time a light laugh met her ear, and there was more of the
master toying with his slave or the spoiled boy trifling with his
play-thing, than there had been in the first instance. Still the promise
was repeated, and still there were "insurmountable obstacles." Another
interval of silence, then a third request, this time with tears, that he
would do her the justice he had promised. To this ill-nature responded, and
for the first time the young girl learned what a claw of pride and
arrogance lay folded in the velvet palm of the tiger. She shrunk away
within herself, at his first harsh word, almost believing that she must
have committed some wrong in speaking to him of his delayed promise; and
when he kissed her at the end of that conversation and said: "There, run
away and do not bother me about it when I am worried and busy!" she almost
felt--heaven help her poor, weak heart!--that that kiss was one of needed
pardon!

The dullest eyes will recognize at last what only the quick and accustomed
discern at first. Eleanor Hill had been blind, but her eyes gradually
opened,--with an agony in the first gleams of light, of which her yielding,
compliant nature had before given little promise. Nearly two years had
elapsed after her becoming the ward of Dr. Philip Pomeroy, and more than
one year after that fatal era in her own destiny, when the wronged girl,
then twenty and within only twelve months of her legal majority, at last
sounded the depths of that man's nature sufficiently to know that he had
been inventing the existence of obstacles--that he had never intended to
marry her, at least at any near period. At that moment of discovery a
higher and prouder nature than hers might have been moved to personal
upbraiding, despair and perhaps to suicide: with Eleanor Hill the only
result was that a sense of shame, before kept in abeyance, came in and
settled down upon her, making her more humble than angry or indignant, and
unnerving her instead of bracing her mind anew for any conflict that might
arise in the future. Aware, at last, of his deception, she could not quite
believe in her guardian's utter baseness; and she still _hoped_ that though
he might demand his own time for the fulfilment of that promise which had
won her from herself, in his own time he would render her that justice in
reality so poor but to her so full of compensation for all the past.

Would it not seem, even to one most fully acquainted with all the falsehood
of the betrayer and all the cruelty of the torturer, that the cup of that
man's infamy was nearly filled? And yet--sorrow that the bitter truth must
be recorded!--not a tithe of that which was to curse him before the end,
has yet been indicated. Slowly and surely the blackening crimes pile up,
when the love of virtue and the fear of heaven have both faded out from the
human heart; and who can measure the height to which those mountain masses
of guilt may tower, after the first foundations have been laid in one
unrepented wrong, and before the coming of that day when the criminal must
call upon those very mountains to fall and bury him away from the wrath
that is inevitable!

Dr. Pomeroy came home late one evening in December, 1858. Hester had long
been in bed, and Eleanor, as was her habit, had waited up for his return.
Some weeks had now elapsed since her discovery of his deception, but hope
had not yet died out, nor had all her confidence been lost in that
affection for her which she believed underlay all the impropriety of his
treatment. So far, except in the one particular, he had treated her with
almost unvarying kindness; and while that pleasant status existed and hope
had yet a little point for the clinging of her tenacious fingers, it was
not in the nature of the young girl to despair. She met him at the door, as
she had done on so many previous occasions, assisted him to divest himself
of the rough wrappers by which he had been sheltered from the winter wind,
and when at last he dropped into his cushioned chair before the grate,
which had been kept broadly aglow to minister to his comfort, took her
place half by his side and half at his feet.

Perhaps there was some malevolent spirit who on that occasion, before the
glow of the winter fire, once more brought to the lips of the poor girl
that subject always lying so near her heart--marriage. She mentioned the
word, and for the first time since he had given her shelter under his
roof, Philip Pomeroy hurled an oath at her. Perhaps he had been taking wine
somewhat too freely, in one of the tempting supper-rooms of the city; or
some other cause may have disturbed his equanimity and brought out the
truth of his worst nature. The reply of Eleanor Hill to this was the not
unnatural one of a burst of tears, and that outburst may have maddened him
still more. The truth came at last, in all its black, bitter, naked
deformity:

"Eleanor, you have made a fool of yourself long enough! No more of this
whining, or it will be the worse for you! When _I_ marry _you_, I shall be
very nearly out of business; and if you have not had judgment enough to
know that fact before, so much the worse for your common sense!"

Eleanor Hill staggered up from her chair and cast one glance full into the
face of her destroyer. Her eyes could read the expression that it bore,
then, if they had never before attained the same power. There was neither
the smile of reckless pleasantry nor the unbent lines of partial pity for
suffering, upon that face. All was cold, hard, determined, cruel earnest,
and the victim read at last aright what she should have been able to
decipher more than two years before. And never the life of a dangerous
infant heir went out beneath the choking fingers of a hired murderer, at
midnight and in silence in one of the thick vaulted chambers of the Tower,
more suddenly or more effectually than at that moment the last honorable
hope of Eleanor Hill expired, strangled by the hand of that "guardian" who
had promised beside a dying bed that he would shield and protect her as his
own child!

In that hard, cold face Eleanor Hill at last read her destiny. She had been
weak, compliant and submissive, but never reconciled to her shame; and at
that moment began her revolt.

"I understand you at last," she said. "After all your promises, you will
_not_ marry me!"

"Once for all--no!" was the firm reply, the cruel face not blenching in
the least before that glance, mingled of pain and indignation, and so
steadily bent upon it.

"Then I have lived long enough in this house--too long!" broke from the
lips of the young girl. "I will leave it to-morrow. You cannot give me back
the thing of most value of which you have robbed me--my honor and my peace
of mind; but my father left my property in your hands--give me back that,
so that I may go away and hide myself where I shall never be any more
trouble to you or to any others who know me."

"Humph! your property!" was the reply, in so sneering a tone that even the
unsuspicious ears of the victim caught something more in the manner than in
the words themselves.

"Yes, I said my property--the property my father left in your hands for
me!" answered poor Eleanor, striving to conquer the deadly depression at
her heart and to be calm and dignified. "You have told me the truth at
last; and I will never ask you the question again if you will give me
enough money for my support and let me go away from this life of sin into
which you have dragged me."

"You want to go away, do you!" again spoke the doctor, in the same sneering
tone. "And you expect to support yourself upon what you call 'your
property?'"

"I do want to go away--I must go away, Dr. Philip!" answered the victim,
still managing to choke down the tears and sobs that were rising so
painfully. "You have cruelly deceived a poor girl who trusted you, and we
had better never see each other again while we live."

"Your property, you said! Bring me that large black portfolio from the top
of the closet yonder," was the only and strange reply. With the habit of
her old obedience the young girl went to the place designated, found the
pocket-book and brought it to him. He opened it, took out half a dozen
pieces of what seemed to be bank-note paper, and handed them over to her
without an additional word.

"What are these, and what I am to do with them?" she asked, in surprise.

"They are 'your fortune' that you have been talking about, and you may do
what you like with them if you insist upon leaving my house!" was the
reply.

"I do not understand you!" very naturally answered the recipient, making no
motion to open the papers. "If these are mine, I cannot tell what to do
with them or how much they are worth."

"Oh, I can tell you their value, very easily, though I might be puzzled to
direct you as to the other part of your anxiety!" said the doctor, with a
scarcely-suppressed chuckle at the bottom of his sneer. "They are the scrip
for four thousand shares in the capital stock of the Dunderhaven Coal and
Mining Company, in which, with your consent, I invested the forty thousand
dollars left you by your father; and their present worth is not much, as
the company unfortunately failed about six months ago, paying a dividend of
five-sixteenths of a cent on the dollar. The amount would be--I remember
calculating it up at the time of the failure--just one hundred and
twenty-five dollars."

"And that is all the money that I have in the world!" gasped the young
girl, tottering towards a chair.

"Every penny, if you leave my house!" answered the model guardian. "If you
remain in it, as I wish, and forget all the nonsense that priests and old
women have dinned into your ears, about marriage,--your fortune is just as
much as my own, for you shall find that there is nothing which I can afford
to purchase for myself, that I will not just as freely purchase for you!"

Eleanor Hill said not a word in reply. She had sunk into a chair and
covered her face with both her hands, through the delicate fingers of which
streamed the bright tears, while her whole frame was shaken and racked by
the violence of her mental torture. How utterly and completely desolate she
was at that moment! Refused the justice of marriage by the man for whom
she had perilled all, and bidden no longer even to hope for that
justice--then coldly informed that if she left the house of her betrayer
she went away to beggary, as all the fortune left her by her father had
been squandered by imprudence or dishonesty,--what additional blow could
fall upon her, and what other and heavier bolt could there yet be stored
for her in the clouds of wrath?



CHAPTER VIII.

     WHAT FOLLOWED THE REVELATION OF BETRAYAL--A GLEAM OF HOPE
     FOR ELEANOR HILL--A RELATIVE FROM CALIFORNIA, A PROJECTED
     VOYAGE, AND A DISAPPOINTMENT--ONE MORE LETTER--THE BROKEN
     THREAD RESUMED--CARLTON BRAND'S FAREWELL, AND A SUDDEN
     ELOPEMENT.


Eleanor Hill should of course have left the house of her guardian, that had
proved such a valley of poison to her girlhood, the very moment when she
made that discovery of her final and complete betrayal. But then, strictly
speaking, she should have left it long before; and the same compliant
spirit that had once yielded, could yield again. Pity her who will--blame
her who may--she bowed beneath the weight of her own helplessness and
remained, instead of fleeing from the spot that very night and shaking off
the dust of her feet against it, even if she begged her bread thereafter
from door to door. Not with what she should have done, and not with what
some others whom we have known would have done under the circumstances,
have we to do. She remained. Not the same as she had been before--Dr.
Philip Pomeroy knew and felt the difference; and yet submissive and
apparently unrepining. Not the same in cheerfulness, as Miss Hester felt
and deplored: she spoke less, seldomer went out, even when strongly
tempted, and spent much more time in the solitude and silence of her own
room.

It is not for us to put upon record precisely what passed between the
guardian and his ward in the months that immediately followed that
revelation; as unfortunately at that point information otherwise complete
and uninterrupted, is defective for a considerable interval. It is beyond
doubt that in the breast of Eleanor Hill fear and hatred had taken the
place of love towards the man whom she had once idolized--that the sense of
shame weighing upon her had become every day heavier and less
endurable--and that she would have fled away at any moment, but from the
fact that she was utterly helpless, pecuniarily and in any capacity for
earning her own subsistence, and that she believed in the probability of
Dr. Philip Pomeroy putting in force the cruel threat he had made, and
publishing her shame to the world, distorted to suit his own purposes, the
moment she should have quitted his abode and his guardianly "protection!"

With reference to the wishes and intentions of Dr. Philip Pomeroy himself,
it is not much more easy to form any accurate calculation. That he did not
wish to follow the example set him by so many unscrupulous traffickers in
female virtue, and drive away at once from his presence the woman whose
life he had poisoned, is only too certain. That he had no intention of
making her legally his own by marriage, his own tongue had declared. It
only remains to believe that he held towards the poor girl some sort of
tiger mixture of love and hate, which would not consent to make her happy
in the only manner which could secure that end, and which yet would not
consent to part with her at any demand or upon any terms. Other than she
was, to him, she could not be: as she was, she seemed to minister to some
unholy but actual need of his nature; and he held her to himself with an
evil tenacity which really seemed to afford a new study in psychology.
Circumstances were close at hand, calculated to show something of the
completeness of the net drawn around the feet of the young girl, even if
they did not clearly point out the hand drawing the cord of continued
restraint.

Miss Hester Pomeroy died suddenly in the winter of 1860, alike guiltless
and ignorant of the evil which had taken place under the roof which owned
her as its mistress, regretted by her brother with as much earnest feeling
as he had the capacity of bestowing upon so undemonstrative a relation, and
sincerely mourned by the forced dweller beneath that roof, to whom her
presence had been a protection in the eyes of the world, and to whose cruel
lot she had furnished more alleviations than she had herself capacity to
understand.

With this death, the introduction of a mere housekeeper to take the place
which she had so worthily filled, the additional loneliness which was
inevitable when a hired stranger occupied her room, and the certainty that
the last excuse of propriety for her remaining was removed,--it may be
supposed that the struggle in the mind of the poor girl began anew, and
raged with redoubled violence. The desire to be freed from the presence and
the power of her destroyer had by that time grown to be an absorbing
thought, ever present with her, and worthy of any possible sacrifice to
give it reality. Any _possible_ sacrifice: to poor Eleanor Hill, sacrifices
which many others would have embraced without a moment's hesitation, seemed
literal madness. The certainty of penury and the probability of open shame
pressed her close; and she could not shake off the double fetter. Her
tyrant would give her no release; and she succumbed to her living death
once more.

Months longer of weary waiting for deliverance, every spark of love died
out from her heart, and yet soul and body alike enslaved. Oh, God of all
the suffering!--how often has this been, with no visible hand to deliver,
with no pen to chronicle! Months, and then came what seemed the opportunity
of the poor girl's life.

It will be remembered that Nicholas Hill, at his dying hour, spoke of his
only relatives, and even those removed by several degrees, residing on the
Pacific coast. One of these, William Barnes, a distant cousin, and a man of
forty, who owned a comfortable ranch near Sacramento, came on to the East
in the summer of 1861, bringing his wife, and in one of his visits to
Philadelphia casually heard of the whereabouts of the orphaned daughter of
his relative. Within a day or two following he pursued his information by
driving out to the Schuylkill and calling upon Eleanor, in the absence of
the doctor as it chanced. Half an hour's conversation satisfied the
large-hearted Californian that the young girl was unhappy, from whatever
cause; ten minutes more drew from her the information that all the property
left her by her father had melted away in unfortunate speculations, though
of course they won no way towards the other and more terrible secret; and
the next ten minutes sufficed him to offer her a home, as a relative and
companion to his wife, at his pleasant ranch in the Golden State. Girls
were scarce in California, he said; girls as handsome as Eleanor were
scarce in any quarter of the globe; and if she would accept his invitation
they would astonish all his neighbors a little, on their arrival out, while
she could select at will among fifty stalwart fellows, with plenty of
money, any day when she might fancy a husband.

Here was hope--here was deliverance. How eagerly Eleanor Hill grasped at it
can only be known by the wretch who has once been so nearly drowned that
the last gasp was on his lip, and then found a helping hand stretched out
for his rescue--or that other wretch who has wandered for hours over a
trackless waste and then found a landmark at the moment when he was ready
to lie down and die! William Barnes was to leave New York on his return to
California within a fortnight: he would inform his wife of the arrangement,
and she would be delighted with the thought of finding a companion; and on
the morning of the sailing of the steamer Eleanor would appear, to fill the
state-room already engaged.

Somewhat to the surprise of the escaping prisoner, and immeasurably to her
joy, when that evening, with an expression on her lip that was nearer to
triumph than any which had rested there during all the four years of her
sinful slavery--Dr. Philip Pomeroy neither threatened her with poverty nor
exposure as he had before done (perhaps because he felt that when under Mr.
Barnes' protection the former would be beyond his power and the latter of
little consequence in a State so far removed as California) nor even
seriously opposed her accepting the offer made her. At last, then, the
cruel heart had relented, her shameful dependence was at an end, and the
reformation of her life could find its late beginning.

Three days later came a letter from New York, from William Barnes,
reiterating what had been said personally, and accompanied by the
indorsement of the arrangement by Mrs. Barnes. The last shadow of doubt,
then, was removed out of the way, and the young girl's moderate
preparations for removal went on with new vigor. One hundred dollars in
money was all that she asked of her guardian for these preparations, and
that sum was accorded without hesitation or comment. On the morning of the
sailing of the steamer she left Philadelphia by the early train, the doctor
himself bringing her down to the depot in his carriage, and bidding her
good-bye with a word of kind regret, and a kiss which seemed chaste enough
for that of a brother. Her small array of baggage had preceded her, and was
no doubt already within the hold of the vessel that was to bear her to the
Pacific, to a renewed life, and an opportunity of gathering up the broken
threads of lost happiness.

The steamer, the old Northern Light, of such varying fortunes, was to sail
at two. At half-past twelve, the carriage containing Eleanor Hill dashed
down to the foot of Warren Street, among all that crush of carriages,
baggage-wagons, foot-people with valises and carpet-bags, idlers,
policemen, pickpockets, United States Mail vans, weeping women, whining
children, and insatiate shakers of human hands, that has attended the
departure of every California steamer since the first ploughed her ocean
way towards the land of gold. Mr. Barnes had promised to meet her at the
gangway or on shipboard, but neither on the dock nor on deck could she
discover him. One o'clock was long past, and Eleanor had grown sick at
heart under the idea that some mistake as to the steamer must have been
made, when from the gangway she saw a carriage drive up and her new
protector alight from it. He was assisting out a lady who could be no other
than his wife; and the young girl, fairly overjoyed, ran down the plank to
meet and welcome them. The lady, who was just starting up the plank as
Eleanor reached the foot of it, did not notice her, but continued her
ascent: William Barnes did see her, and allowing his wife to proceed alone,
he seized her arm and drew her hurriedly away down the pier, and beyond
ear-shot. Eleanor noticed that his face seemed flushed, and his whole
demeanor agitated; but she was far from being prepared for the startling
intelligence that burst from his lips, interlarded with oaths and
expressions of honest indignation. The generous-hearted Californian was, in
truth, very nearly beside himself with shame and mortification. Eleanor
could not accompany his wife and himself to California, after all! And the
story of the disappointment, though a little mixed up with those energetic
expressions and once interrupted by the necessity of the enraged man's
pausing to throw into the dock a package of fruit which his wife had just
been purchasing for her comfort on the voyage (the porter who brought it
being very nearly included in that sacrifice to Neptune), the story, in
spite of all these hindrances, was far too quickly told; and every word,
after the first which revealed her fate, fell upon the heart of the poor
girl as if it had been the blow of a hammer smiting her living flesh.

Up to that morning--the Californian said--his wife had seemed not only
willing to accept Eleanor's society, but highly pleased at the prospect.
Her ticket had been bought and various presents selected by Mrs. Barnes'
own hands, for the comfort of their guest on the route and in her new home.
That morning, and not more than two hours before, the weather in the
matrimonial horizon, never entirely reliable in the latitude of Mrs.
Barnes, had changed entirely. On coming into the hotel from some business
calls, among them a visit to the Post Office (though Mr. Barnes thought,
very naturally, that the latter place could have nothing to do with the
sudden barometric variation)--she had suddenly declared to him that "he
might as well go down to the office and countermand the order for Miss
Hill's ticket and save the money; as if she [Miss Hill] went to California
with him on the steamer that day, she [Mrs. Barnes] would not stir one step
but stay in New York." Inquiry and even demand had failed to secure any
explanation of this strange and sudden veering of the marital weathercock;
and expostulation and even entreaty, with full representations of the
contemptible position in which he would be placed by any change in the
arrangements at that hour, had failed to secure any modification of the
sentence. She wanted no strangers in her house, or in her company on board
ship; and she would not have any--that was flat! If Eleanor Hill went to
California, _she_ remained! A full-blown domestic quarrel, lasting with
different degrees of gusty violence for nearly an hour, had been the
result; and that other result had followed which nearly always follows when
husband and wife commence discussion of any matter seriously affecting the
feelings (or whims) of the latter--the husband had succumbed, the
arrangement had been definitely broken off, and the state-room which the
young girl was to have occupied was no doubt by that time in the occupancy
of a man with a red beard, long boots, a broad hat and a gray blanket!

Poor Eleanor Hill!--it seemed too hard, indeed--this being plunged back
again into the pit of helpless sin and self-reproach, at every effort made
for extrication!

There is a legend told of the great well in the court-yard of one of the
old English castles, at the period of the Parliamentary wars, which comes
into mind when the cruel facts of her life are remembered. Sir Hugh, the
Cavalier, had seen his castle surprised, taken and sacked by the
Cromwellian troopers, guided and led on by a roundhead churl who owed him
gratitude instead of ill-service--had been wounded and made prisoner, while
the females of his family were maltreated and the pictures that made half
his ancestral pride stabbed and hacked in pieces by the ruffians who could
not enough outrage the living members of his race. Then the tide of fortune
had turned; he had once more regained his strong-hold, with manly arms
around him, and those of his dear ones who had not perished by outrage and
exposure, once more under his sheltering hand. Then the recreant roundhead
neighbor fell one day into his hands, and the cruel blood of the Norman
ancestors who had begun _their_ robbery and rapine on English soil at
Hastings, rose up in the breast of Sir Hugh and made him for the time a
very fiend of revenge. The great well had been ruined by the corpses thrown
into it at the sacking of the castle; and into that well, in spite of his
struggles, he had the poor wretch lowered by his retainers, then the slight
rope cut away and the victim left to cling to the slippery stones at the
edge of the water thirty feet below, unable to climb them, too desperate to
sink, and wailing out his cries for mercy, while a huge lamp, lowered by
another rope, showed the whole terrible spectacle to the pitiless eyes that
dared look down upon it. Then another rope was lowered by the great
windlass, within reach of the struggling wretch, and he was allowed to
seize hold upon it and climb a little way from the water, under the belief
that his tyrant had at last relented and that he was to be allowed to save
himself after that dreadful trial. Then, when he had climbed for a few feet
from the black ooze beneath him, the rope was lowered away and the poor
wretch again submerged, to shriek, and wail, and climb again, and to be
again dropped back at the moment of transient hope, until the wearied
fingers could cling and climb no longer and the life thus outraged and the
light which had revealed that sad refinement upon cruelty went horribly out
together! And how much less cruel was Fate, thus standing guard over the
life of Eleanor Hill and dropping her back again into her own shame at
every attempt which she made to escape from it or to rise above it,--than
the grim and grizzled old Sir Hugh who had been made a human fiend by his
past wrongs and the bandit blood of his race?

There was genuine regret blended with the anger and shame on the honest
face of William Barnes, as he made that confession which dashed all the
hopes of the young girl,--that he _dared not_ take her to California. But
who shall describe the expression of hopeless sorrow and despondency which
dwelt upon hers at that moment? Yet despondency was unwise as struggle was
unavailing. This, too, must be borne, as a part of the penalty of--no, we
cannot write the word "guilt"--the penalty of being unfortunate and abused!
The Californian took the privilege of blood, to urge the acceptance of such
a sum from his well-filled wallet as would enable her to replace the
clothing and other articles in her trunks, then too late to remove from the
hold of the vessel,--bade her good-bye and sprung on board just as the last
call was given. The poor outcast mustered courage to speak to a hackman as
the steamer moved away that she had so lately hoped was to bear her to a
more hospitable land and a better life; and half an hour later she was
speeding back towards Philadelphia on the Camden and Amboy boat; with
strange thoughts running through her mind but happily finding no lodgment
there, that under some circumstances of desertion and despair there could
not be such a terrible crime in slipping quietly overboard and going to a
dreamless sleep in the cool, placid water.

Had Eleanor Hill possessed that energy the want of which has been so many
times before deplored, she would have sought out another home, though in
the most miserable alley of the overcrowded city, before returning yet
more disgraced to that place of misery once abandoned. But she lacked that
energy, and perhaps her coming life was foredoomed, as the past had been.
That night the bars of her cage closed again upon her. Dr. Philip Pomeroy
received her in all kindness, with some expressions of pleased surprise and
a few sharp epithets hurled at the man who could be weak enough to change
his mind in that manner at the bidding of a woman. But there was something
in his tone and demeanor which left the girl in doubt whether he was really
so much surprised as he pretended; and later developments were rapidly
approaching which made the doubt more tenable.

Among the acquaintances formed by Eleanor Hill in the early days of her
residence under the roof of Dr. Pomeroy, had been the family of Robert
Brand, which the doctor visited (as he did many others in the neighborhood)
both as friend and medical attendant. In those days she had been visited by
Elsie Brand and her brother, and had visited them in return. Gradually all
intimacy between Elsie and herself had ceased, as that great change, known
only to herself and two others, affected the whole tenor of her life. But
the friendship at that time formed with Carlton Brand had never weakened,
and it perhaps grew the stronger from the hour when each became satisfied
that no warmer personal interest would ever rise in the breast of the
other. Perhaps Carlton Brand, to some extent a man of the world, and a
close student of character by virtue of his profession, may have formed his
opinions, long before 1861, of the relations existing between the doctor
and his ward; but if so, he had not a thought of blame or any depreciation
of respect for the poor girl on account of it; and during all those years,
if he indeed harbored such suspicions, he had no means of verifying them,
for Eleanor Hill's lips had been and remained quite as closely sealed to
him as to others.

Between Dr. Philip Pomeroy and the lawyer had always existed, since the
young girl had been an inmate of the house, an antagonism which could not
well be mistaken. No open rupture had taken place, in the knowledge of any
acquaintance of either; but they never met without exchanging looks which
told of mutual dislike and distrust. Within the three years between 1858
and 1861 that antagonism, as even the unobservant girl could see, had
markedly increased, so that even in his own house the doctor, when he came
upon him, seldom addressed a word to his unwelcome guest. Had she known
that in the investigations which followed the failure of the Dunderhaven
Coal and Mining Company, in the later days of the great commercial crash of
1857-8, Carlton Brand had been one of the counsel employed to prosecute
that great swindle in which her own fortune had been swallowed up with
hundreds of others,--had she known this, we say, she might have imagined
some reason for this increase of dislike which was certainly not founded
upon jealousy. But she would not have guessed, even then, one tithe of the
causes for deadly and life-long hatred which lay between two men of
corresponding eminence in two equally liberal professions. It is not
possible, at this stage of the narration, to explain what were those
causes, eventually so certain to develop themselves.

On the eve of her attempted transit to California, of which we have already
seen the melancholy failure, Eleanor Hill wrote but one letter of farewell,
and that letter was addressed to Carlton Brand. On her way homeward from
her great disappointment, she paused in the city to drop a pencil note
written on board the steamboat; and that was also to Carlton Brand,
informing him of her return. No reply was made to the latter note, for
three days: then the lawyer called upon her one day during the professional
absence of the doctor. He had been absent, at the city of New York and
still farther eastward, for more than a week previous. He had returned from
the commercial metropolis only the day before, and had taken the very
earliest moment to acknowledge the reception of her missive and to express
his sympathy in her disappointment--perhaps something more.

After a few moments of conversation on that unfortunate affair, the lawyer
remarked that he had chanced to stop at the same hotel in New York,
patronized by Mr. Barnes and his wife, and having some recollection of the
face of the former, from old Philadelphia rencontres, had made the
acquaintance of both. He had known nothing whatever of the intention of
Eleanor to accompany them to the Pacific coast, or even that any
relationship existed between herself and William Barnes. But Mrs. Barnes
had "cottoned to him" a little, apparently, he had been the possessor of a
few spare hours, and he had become her companion and escort on some of her
shopping excursions when Mr. Barnes was otherwise employed. He had been her
escort on the morning of the day on which she sailed, and after her return
from the Post-office had been present at her opening of several letters,
over one of which she fell into a storm of rage requiring an apology for
such an exposure before a comparative stranger. As a part of that apology,
she had handed him the letter, bearing the Philadelphia post-mark; and
inadvertently, as he then supposed, but providentially, as he afterwards
saw reason to believe, he had kept the letter in his hands, dropped it into
his pocket with his newspaper, and forgotten to return it until he had
parted from the enraged woman and left the hotel. It was only after his
return to Philadelphia and reception of the two notes advising him of
Eleanor's intended departure and her disappointment, that he had been able
to connect that letter with any one in whom he possessed a personal
interest.

Eleanor Hill had been gradually growing paler during this recital; and she
was chalky white and almost ready to faint, when at that stage the lawyer
paused and handed her a letter taken from his pocket, with the inquiry, "if
she knew that handwriting." The letter was very brief, but very expressive,
and ran as follows--the words being faithfully copied from the shameful
original, lying at the writer's hand at this moment:

                                    PHILADELPHIA, ---- --, 1861.

     MADAM:--I have accidentally learned that arrangements have
     been made by your husband and yourself, to take a young lady
     back with you to your home in California, on your return.
     When I tell you that I knew your husband and his family many
     years ago, you will understand my motive for taking part in
     what is apparently none of my business. If the report is
     true, that you do so intend, you have been shamefully
     deceived and imposed upon. The young lady, whose name I need
     not mention, has been for years the mistress of the man with
     whom she is living; and you can judge for yourself the
     policy of introducing such a person into your household. I
     have no means of judging whether your husband is or is not
     acquainted with the real character of the lady; but any
     doubt on that subject you can have no difficulty in solving
     for yourself. I have preferred to address you instead of
     him, with this warning, because in the event of his really
     being aware of all the circumstances, any communication to
     him would of course never have reached your eyes. With the
     highest esteem and regard for yourself, for your husband and
     his family, I am (only concealing my real name, for the
     present, from motives which I hope you will readily
     appreciate,) yours, obediently,

                                        D. T. M.

"My God!--yes, I know that handwriting!" sobbed Eleanor Hill, covering her
eyes with both hands, after glancing over the precious epistle.

"So I feared!" said Carlton Brand.

"Oh, how can any man be so cruel!" continued the poor girl.

"How could he dare to utter such a falsehood?" said the lawyer, glancing
closely at the young girl meanwhile. Her face, that had the moment before
been pale, was now one flush of crimson, and it seemed as if the very veins
would burst with the pressure of shamed and indignant blood. Carlton Brand
saw, and if he had before doubted, he doubted no longer. He spoke not
another word. But the instant after, at last goaded beyond all endurance,
Eleanor Hill started to her feet, and said:

"Carlton Brand, I believe that I have but one friend in the world, and you
are that friend. I have tried to keep my shame from you, because I could
not bear to forfeit your good opinion. You know all, now, but do not
believe me guilty and wicked! That man--"

"I do not believe you guilty, Eleanor, whatever may be the errors into
which you have been dragged by that worst devil out of torment!" he
interrupted her.

"Expose that man to the world, then, or kill him! Do not let my shame stand
in the way! I can bear any thing, to see him punished as he deserves, for
this last cruel deed!" The girl was for the moment beside herself, and she
little thought, just then, what was the penalty she braved! It seemed that
Carlton Brand better appreciated the peril, or that some other weighty
consideration chained his limbs and his spirit, for his was now the flushed
face, and he made none of those physical movements which the avenger
inevitably assumes, even if beneath no other eye than God's, when he
determines upon a course of action involving exposure and possible danger.
He seemed to tremble, but not with anxiety: his was rather the quiver of
inertiæ than any nobler incitement.

"Expose him?--kill him?" he gasped rather than said. "You do not know what
you ask, Eleanor! I cannot!--dare not--"

"_Dare_ not?" echoed Eleanor Hill, her face that had ordinarily so little
pride or courage in it, now expressing wonder not unmingled with contempt.
For the first time, she saw the countenance of that man who had seemed to
her almost a demi-god, convulsed with pain and shame; and the sad wonder
that was almost pity grew in her eyes, as within a moment after, moved by
her confidence and assured by it that he need fear no danger of betrayal,
Carlton Brand entrusted her with the secret of that skeleton in his mental
closet which made him powerless against the bold, unscrupulous and
determined Philip Pomeroy. Each had the most dangerous confidence of the
other, then; and each realized, if nothing more, a certain painful
satisfaction in knowing that the burthen was not thenceforth to be borne
entirely without sympathy. But to neither did there appear any hope of
unravelling a villany which seemed to both so monstrous.

All this took place in the summer of 1861, it will be remembered; and
between that time and the period at which we have seen Eleanor Hill
kneeling piteously before Nathan Bladesden and afterwards greeting Carlton
Brand with such a sympathy of shame and sorrow,--nearly two years had
elapsed. During that time Carlton Brand had seemed to gather more and more
dislike of the physician, and, as must be confessed, more and more positive
fear of him; while Dr. Pomeroy had more than once treated poor Eleanor with
positive bodily indignity for daring to receive his visits at all, though
he was the last of all her old acquaintances who kept up the least pretence
at intimacy. Finally, for months before the June of 1863, the lawyer had
ceased to make any visits to the house, except at times when he knew the
doctor to be absent; and then he stayed but briefly at each infrequent
call, while one of the female servants, who was devoted to Eleanor, had
confidential orders from her to keep watch for the sudden coming of the
doctor, so that this man, who seemed born to be a Paladin, could skulk away
by one door or the other and avoid a meeting! A most pitiable exhibition,
truly!--but the record must be made a faithful one, even in this melancholy
instance.

Since Eleanor Hill's return from her temporary Hegira, for a long period,
so far as the eye could see no change had taken place in the relations
existing between the "guardian" and his "ward." Perhaps he treated her with
more coolness than of old; and she may have been more habitually silent,
while she had become a virtual recluse and seldom passed beyond the doors
of that fated dwelling. Whatever the weakness which the fact may have shown
on her part, whatever of persistent evil on his,--the old intimacy of crime
had been maintained, though the love once existing in the breast of the
young girl had long changed to loathing, and there was every reason to
believe that the ignobler passion urging on her destroyer had quite as long
before become satiety.

This up to a certain period. One day during the winter of 1862, Nathan
Bladesden, a Quaker merchant of the city, gray-headed, eminently
respectable and a widower, had found occasion to call at the residence of
Dr. Pomeroy. In the host's absence he had been received by his ward; and
the blind god, ever fantastic in his dealings, had smitten the calm, strong
man with a feeling not to be overcome. He had called again and again,
sometimes in the doctor's absence and sometimes when he was at home; but
the object of his pursuit had evidently been Eleanor Hill. His visits had
seemed to be rather pleasing than otherwise to the master of the house, who
could not fail to see towards what they tended; and that he did see and
approve had seemed to be evident from his entire withdrawal of himself from
Eleanor's private society, from the time of the second visit. The poor
girl's heart had leaped with joy, at the possibility of union with a noble
man, that should finally remove her from her false position and make her
past life only a sad remembrance; and those precisians may blame her who
will, while all must sorrow for the circumstances which seemed to render
the deception necessary,--that she had not shuddered, as she possibly
should have done, at the idea of marriage without full confidence. Two
months before, while April was laughing and weeping over the earth, the
grave, unimpeachable man, who already held so much of her respect and could
so easily induce a much warmer feeling of her nature,--had asked her to be
his honored wife and the mistress of his handsome house in the city; and
the harrassed girl, the goal of a life of peace once more in sight, had
answered him that she would be his wife at any moment if he would consent
to accept the remnant of a heart which had been cruelly tortured and to
make no inquiries as to a past which must ever remain buried. To these
terms the Quaker had consented; this had been Eleanor Hill's betrothal; and
with such a redeeming prospect in view had her life remained, until that
fatal day of June when the knowledge that her whole secret was betrayed
burst upon her in the presence and the reproaches of Nathan Bladesden. What
passed between them has already been recorded, at a stage of this narration
antecedent to the long but necessary resumé just concluded; and we have
seen how, only a few minutes after, Carlton Brand held in his hand the
letter of her second denunciation, and what were his brief but burning
words as he commenced reading.

"Curse him! He deserves eternal perdition, and he will find it!"

He read through the letter without speaking another word, though there were
occasional convulsive twitches of his face which showed how his heart was
stirred to indignation by the perusal.

"You are sure, are you not?" Eleanor asked, when he had finished.

"Just as sure as I was in the other case. The deed is the most black and
damning that I have ever known; and if I had before been an infidel I
should be converted by the knowledge that such an incarnate scoundrel must
roast in torment!"

"And what am I to do?" asked the girl, with that helpless and irresolute
air which is so pitiable.

"Heaven help us both! I do not know!" was the reply, with the proud head
drooping lower on the breast than it should ever have been bowed by any
feeling except devotion.

"I cannot remain here after this!" she said. "Can you not take me away--do
something for me? Does the--do the same obstacles stand in your way that
stood there two years ago?"

"No--not the same, but worse!" answered the lawyer, bitterly. "Oh, there
never was a child so helpless as I am at this moment. I have wealth, but I
cannot use it for your benefit without exposing you to final and complete
ruin in public opinion. And for myself--poor Eleanor, I pity you, God
knows I do, but I pity myself still worse. I came to tell you that I am
going away this very day,--that I shall not again set foot within my
father's house--perhaps never again while I live,--that my spirit is
crushed and my heart broken."

"What has happened? tell me! The old trouble, Carlton?" asked the young
girl, in a tone of true commiseration.

"Yes, the old trouble, and worse!" was the reply, followed by a rapid
relation of the events of the morning, and concluding with these hopeless
words: "An hour since, I parted with the woman I loved and hoped to make my
own. To-morrow my name may be a scoff and a by-word in the mouth of every
man who knows me. I cannot and will not meet this shame, which is not
hidden like your own, but will be blown abroad by the breath of thousands
of personal acquaintances, and perhaps made the subject of jest in the
public newspapers. Think how those who have hated and perhaps feared
me--criminals whom I have brought to justice and thieves whom I have foiled
in their plunderings,--will gloat over the knowledge that I can trouble
them no more--that I have fallen lower, in the public eye, than they have
ever been! I am going away, where no man who has ever looked upon my face
and known it, can look upon it again!"

The tone in which Carlton Brand spoke was one of utter despondency and
abandonment. There was nothing of the sharp, vigorous ring of that speech
which contains and declares a purpose: the words fell stolid and lifeless
as hung the head and drooped the arms of the utterer in her presence with
whom he held a sad community of disgrace.

"I understand you, and I believe that your lot is even worse than my own!"
said Eleanor Hill, after a moment of silence. "You do right in going away,
and you could not help me if you stayed. Nothing can help me, I suppose. Do
not think of me any more. I can bear what is to come, quite as well as I
have borne all that is past!" She had been nodding her head mechanically
when she commenced speaking, and at every nod it sank lower and lower until
the face was hidden from the one friend whom she was thus losing beyond
recall.

At that moment there was a rapid foot on the stairway above, and the house
servant whom Eleanor had managed to keep in her interest spoke quickly at
the door.

"If you please, Miss, doctor's carriage is coming through the gate from the
Darby road. Thought you would like to know it." And as rapidly as she had
come down, she ascended again to her employment in the attic.

"Oh, Carlton, you must not be seen here, now!" exclaimed the poor girl, her
face all fright and anxiety, and herself apparently forgotten. Something in
that look and tone smote the heart of Carlton Brand more deeply than it had
ever been smitten by the sorrow and disgrace of his own situation; and with
that feeling of intense compassion a new thought was born within him.
"Yesterday I could not have done it--to-day I can!" he muttered, so low
that the girl could not understand his words; then he said aloud, and
speaking very rapidly:

"I cannot meet him, and you shall not! Throw something on your head and
over your shoulders, quick; and come with me!"

For one instant the young girl gazed into his face as if in doubt and
hesitation; but the repetition of a single word decided her:

"Quick!"

A glow of delight and surprise that had long been a stranger to her face,
broke over it; she ran to the little bed-room adjoining the apartment in
which they were speaking, threw on a black-silken mantle and a sober little
hat that hung there, and was ready in an instant. In another Carlton Brand
had seized her arm, hurried her out of the room, down the stairs, through
the hall and out into the garden which lay at the north side of the house
and extended down almost to the edge of the causeway. Dr. Pomeroy was
driving down the lane leading from the Darby road, and was consequently on
the opposite side of the house from the fugitives. Fugitives they may well
have been called, though perhaps so strange an elopement had never before
been planned--an elopement over a comparatively open country in the broad
light of a summer noon, by two persons who held no tie of blood and no
warmer feeling for each other than friendship, and who had not dreamed of
such an act even five minutes before.

But those operations the most suddenly conceived are not always the worst
executed. Necessity, if not genius, is often a successful imitator of that
quality. When the doctor drove up at the gate in front of the house, his
"ward" and her new companion were just dodging out of the tall bean-poles
and shrubbery, over the garden fence, to the edge of the meadow; by the
time he had fairly entered the house they were on the causeway and
partially sheltered by the elders that ran along it and fringed the bank of
the singing brook; and long before he could have discovered the flight and
made such inquiries of the servants as might have directed his gaze in that
direction, the lawyer in his strangely soiled and unaccustomed attire, and
the girl so slightly arrayed for starting out on her travels in the world,
were within the circle of woods before mentioned, stretching northward to
the great road leading down to the city.



CHAPTER IX.

     DR. POMEROY'S PURPOSED PURSUIT--A PLAIN QUAKER WHO USED VERY
     PLAIN LANGUAGE--ALMOST A FIGHT--HOW MRS. BURTON HAYLEY
     CONSOLED HER DAUGHTER, AND HOW MARGARET REVEALED THE PAST--A
     COMPACT--DR. POMEROY'S CANINE ADVENTURE--OLD ELSPETH ONCE
     MORE--A SEARCH THAT FOUND NOTHING.


It will be noticed that with the exception of the somewhat extended glance
at the earlier fortunes of Eleanor Hill, all the occurrences thus far
recorded, and affecting the after lives of so many different people, have
occupied not more than two or three hours of a single June day. The Parcæ
were evidently very busy on that day of June, repaying the past and
arranging the future; and not less than three scenes of this veritable
history yet remain, occurring on the same day, a little later, but within
the same space as to distance, that has been covered by those preceding.

The first of these is that presented in the house of Dr. Pomeroy, ten
minutes after he had entered it, and when two or three sharp inquiries
after his "ward," whom he failed to find in her room, had elicited from one
of the frightened servants the information not only that she had left the
house, through the garden, with hat and mantle and in great haste,--but in
the company of the man of all the world towards whom the medical gentleman
entertained that deadliest hatred which would have made his drugs safe and
reliable had he been attending him in a dangerous sickness! He might not
have known the fact quite so soon, from any of the other servants, as he
certainly would not have discovered the truth under a twelvemonth from the
one who had acted as Eleanor's sentinel on the watch tower; but it chanced
that he possessed one creature of his own, who had been in the habit of
playing spy around the house generally and making very considerable
additions to her wages from the "appropriation for secret service"; and
from that open-mouthed person, who seemed to see with that organ as well as
with the eyes, he had no difficulty in extracting all the truth that could
be known, in an inconceivably minute fraction of time.

The rage which broke out in the face of Dr. Philip Pomeroy and set his eyes
ablaze, at about that period, would not have been a pleasant thing to look
upon, for any person liable to the penalties and inflictions which that
rage denoted. For he was a sharp, keen, calculating man, jumping to a
conclusion with great rapidity, and seldomer missing the fact than most men
under corresponding circumstances. Eleanor Hill was gone--had left his
house forever, so far as her own will had any power: he knew the fact
intuitively. She would never have dared to cross the threshold with Carlton
Brand, knowing the hatred which he held against that man of all others, if
she had intended to place herself again in a position where she could feel
his displeasure. Then the doctor knew, as the reader may by this time be
inclined to suspect, reasons why the young girl would have been much more
likely to leave his house forever, that day, than at any previous time of
her sojourn, if aid and protection chanced to offer themselves. They _had_
offered themselves, in the shape of the lawyer: they had been embraced; and
the good physician, hurling a few outward curses at the servant who had
afforded him the intelligence, at all the other servants, at the house and
every thing within it,--mentally included in his malediction every patient
who had assisted in luring him away from his home that day, while such a
spoil was being made of his "domestic happiness."

The worst of the affair--and the doctor saw it--was that Eleanor Hill had
attained her majority years before, and that he had no power whatever to
compel her return, except that power still existed in the impending threat
of public shame. But he was wronged--robbed--outraged! He would pursue the
fugitive--find her--force her to abandon her new protection--drag her by
main force from any arm that dared to interpose! If he failed, he would
make such a general desolation in family peace, in the quiet neighborhood
lying beyond that side the Schuylkill, as had never been known within the
memory of the "oldest inhabitant"--such an exposé, convulsion and general
explosion as would put out of countenance any thing in the power of the
advancing rebel Lee!

All this in the two minutes following the knowledge of Eleanor's flight.
The ostler had just led round his heated horse to the stable, before the
discovery; and that functionary had orders shot at him from the back
piazza, in a very loud and commanding voice, to throw the harness on
another of his fastest trotters, and have him round at the gate in less
than half a minute, before his double-seated buggy, on pain of being flayed
alive with his own horse-whip. It may be supposed that under such
incitement the stable official handled strap and buckle with unusual
dexterity; and in very little more time than that allowed by the
regulation, the vehicle dashed round to the gate, and the enraged owner
stood whip in hand, ready to leap into it and urge a pursuit yet madder
than had been the elopement. But Dr. Philip Pomeroy, having prepared to
ride at once and with all diligence, found an unexpected hindrance, and did
not pursue his journey until a much more advantageous start had been
allowed to the fugitives.

For while the doctor was preparing to spring into his vehicle, down the
lane from the Darby road dashed the buggy and pair of Nathan Bladesden,
which had so lately taken that direction--dashed down, driven at such speed
as flung the fine horses into a lather of foam, and utterly belied the calm
reputation of the Quaker merchant. Nor was there any thing of the
deliberation of the sect in the jerk with which he brought up the flying
team by throwing them both back upon their haunches, or the suddenness with
which he sprang from the buggy, leaving the horses unfastened, and strode
to the open gate.

The rencontre was most inopportune and vexatious to the doctor, to whom
minutes just then were hours; and he may have had motives for wishing, that
day, not to be placed beneath an eye so sharpened by age and experience.
But Nathan Bladesden was a man of wealth and a power in the city, and not
even Dr. Pomeroy could afford to treat him with rudeness by driving away at
the very moment of his arrival. He smoothed his bent brows, therefore, and
accosted him with every demonstration of interest.

"Glad to see you, Mr. Bladesden! You seem to have been driving fast! But
you come just in time, for I was about starting in a hurry to--to see a
patient."

Had Dr. Pomeroy been aware of all the circumstances connected with the
morning call of the merchant--the shameful revelations made in the little
room overhead--the agony of spirit in which the Quaker had forced himself
away from the presence of Eleanor Hill, deserting her utterly and leaving
her in such a state of suffering as made suicide very possible--and the
continued and ever-deepening conflict which had since been going on in his
mind, as he dashed along roads that led him nowhere, his horses foaming in
the heat but the heat in his brain a thousand times more intense, until at
last he had driven back determined to drag the young girl, at every hazard
and sacrifice, from that moral pest-house which must be sure infection and
death to her soul,--had Dr. Pomeroy known all this, we say, not even his
hardy spirit might have been willing to brave the encounter. But he knew
nothing, and some of the perilous consequences of ignorance followed.

"I did not come to see _thee_, Dr. Philip," replied the Quaker to his
salutation, passing on meanwhile towards the front door, and something
short and choppy in his words indicating that he did not wish to open his
mouth at full freedom. "I saw thy ward, Eleanor Hill, this morning, and I
am going to see her again."

"Ah, you have been here to-day, then, before? And you are going to see her
again, after--." It was surprising, for a man of his age and experience,
how near he came to saying a word too much!

"After receiving _thy letter_?--yes!" answered the Quaker, turning short
and confronting his quondam host, the restraint on his utterance removed.

"_My_ letter? What do you mean by my letter?" Had any one told Philip
Pomeroy, half an hour before, that there was a man living who in five words
could change the color on his cheek, he would have reckoned the informant a
liar and grossly insulted him. Yet so it was; and the flush, though it was
already growing into that of defiant anger, had not been such when it began
to rise.

"Thee does not seem to understand me, Dr. Philip," said the Quaker, his
words still slow and no point of the sectarian idiom lost, but each
dropping short and curtly as if a weighty substance falling heavily. "But
thee will understand me before I am done. Thee wrote me a letter, signed 'A
True Friend'--"

"You lie!" A terrible word, to be flung into the teeth of any man; and
doubly terrible as hurled from lips then ashy white. For just one instant
the Quaker's large hands clutched, and he might have been moved to advance
upon his insulter and avenge Eleanor Hill, himself and all the world, by
choking the insult from his throat. But if such a thought really moved him,
he controlled it and merely smote on with his words.

"Thee wrote me a letter, signed 'A True Friend,' and thee shall have my
opinion of it, before I go into that house and remove from thee, at any
peril that may be necessary, the poor girl thee has disgraced."

"Set a foot nearer that house, if you dare!" was the reply.

"Thee is a base, miserable coward, Dr. Philip!--a scoundrel, a seducer, a
lying slanderer, the offspring of a female dog of the cur species, a
disgrace to thy country and thy profession; and if thee knows any more
hard words that I forget, thee may put them all in on my account."

"Nathan Bladesden, do you think that you will leave this spot alive, after
using such words to _me_!" and the hands of Philip Pomeroy were clutching
at his wristbands as if rolling them up to put them out of the way of
blood! The purpose of attack was reversed: he seemed to be about to spring,
tiger-like, at the Quaker's throat.

"_Thee_ will not kill me, Dr. Philip, if I do not!" the latter said. "I am
stronger than thee, and have a better cause. I think I will not touch thee,
but leave thee to thy Maker, if thee keeps thy hands off; but I have made
up my mind, if thee touches me, to beat thee until thee has no shape of a
man--until thee is dead as yonder gate-post. If thee thinks that I will
not, thee had better try it!"

Dr. Pomeroy did not believe himself a poltroon, nor was he one in that
sense relating to purely physical courage. And had there been merely
involved a conflict with that larger, stronger and better-preserved man, in
which one or the other might suffer severe injury and disfigurement, he
would have carried out his thought and sprung upon him, beyond a question.
But something in those slow dropping pellets of compressed rage falling
from the Quaker's lips, told the medical man (seldom too angry to be subtle
and cunning), that in the event of a struggle, and the merchant getting the
upper hand, he would probably carry out his threat and actually beat him to
death with those heavy fists before any human aid could interpose. And to
be mangled into a corpse by a Quaker--bah! there was really something in
the idea, likely to calm blood quite as hot with rage as that of Dr.
Philip--apart from the slight objection he may have had to being hurried
into eternity in any way, at that moment. Then another thought struck
him--a double one: how completely the Quaker would be at fault, searching
through the house for Eleanor Hill; and how he was himself losing time, in
that miserable quarrel--time that could never be regained. His horse and
buggy stood all the while just within the opened gate, where the ostler
had left it and gone back to his care of the blown animal at the stable;
and as that important reflection forced itself upon his mind, he turned his
back short upon the Quaker, strode to his buggy, stepped into it and dashed
away, only pausing to hurl at his tormentor this one verbal bolt:

"You infernal, snuffling, hypocritical ruffian! I will settle with you for
all this, when I have more time!"

"Thee had better let the account stand as it does, Dr. Philip, if thee is
not a fool as well as a scoundrel!" was the reply of the Quaker, but it is
very doubtful whether the doctor heard half the words. He was already
flying past the garden palings, at the full speed of his trotter, towards
the causeway and the Market Street road, on his errand of reclamation and
perhaps of vengeance. Then Nathan Bladesden pursued his way into the house,
looking for the lost sheep, with that ill success rendered certain by
Eleanor's flight, and that disappointment which often attends noble
resolutions embraced one moment too late.

       *       *       *       *       *

The second of the supplementary scenes of that day was presented in the
parlors of the residence of Mrs. Burton Hayley--that parlor into which the
reader had only a doubtful glance a few hours earlier, when events which
seemed likely to affect the life-long interests of some of the residents of
that house, were occurring on the piazza.

Rich furniture in rosewood and purple damask; a piano of modern
manufacture, the open bank of keys showing the soft coolness of
mother-of-pearl; carpets of English tapestry; pier glasses that might have
given reflection to the colonel of a Maine regiment or one of the sons of
Anak; tables and mantels strewn but not overloaded with delicate bronzes,
gems in porcelain and Bohemian glass, and articles of fanciful bijouterie;
on one of the mantels--that of the front room--Cleopatra in _ormolu_
upholding the dial of a clock with one hand, but with the other applying
to her voluptuously-rounded bosom the asp so soon to put a period to all
her connection with time;--what need of more than this to indicate the home
in which Margaret Hayley had passed the last few years of her young life
and approached that crisis so momentous to her future happiness? Yet one
thing more must be noticed--the stand of rosewood elaborately carved, set
not far from the centre of the front parlor, and bearing on it a large
Bible in the full luxury of russet morocco and gold, with massive gold
clasps and a heavy marker in silk and bullion dependent from amid the
leaves,--the whole somewhat ostentatiously displayed to the sight of any
one who first entered the room, as if to say: "There may seem to be pomps
and vanities in this house, but any such impression would be a mistake:
this book is the rule by which every thing within it is squared."

On the sofa, wheeled into that corner of the luxurious parlor upon which
the closed shutter threw the deepest and coolest shadow, lay Margaret
Hayley, her head buried in the white pillow which some careful hand had
brought for her, and her thrown-up hands drawing the ends of that pillow
around her face as if she desired to shut away every sight and every sound.
Her slight, tall figure seemed, as she lay at length, to be limp and
unnerved; and there was that in the whole position which seemed to indicate
that the mental energies, if not the vital ones, had recoiled after being
cruelly overtasked, and left her alike incapable of thought and motion.

She was not alone, for beside her sat a lady dressed in very thin and light
but rich and rather showy summer costume, rolling backward and forward in
her Boston rocker, waving a feather fan of such formidable dimensions that
its manufacture must have created a sudden rise in the material immediately
after, and talking all the while with such stately volubility as if she
believed that the hot air of the June afternoon would be less unendurable
if kept constantly in motion by the personal windmill of the tongue. This
was Mrs. Burton Hayley, mother of Margaret, widow of the late Mr. Burton
Hayley, railroad-contractor, snugly jointured with eight or ten thousand
per annum, and endowed (as she herself believed, and as we will certainly
endeavor to believe with her, in charity) with so many of those higher
gifts and graces of a spiritual order that her wealth had become dross and
her liberal income rather a thing to be deplored than otherwise. (It may be
the proper place, here, to say that the gilt Bible on the stand was the
peculiar arrangement of this lady, and the sign--if so mercantile a word
may be applied to any thing really demanding all human respect and
devotion--of that peculiar mental stock in trade which she was to be found
most ready in exhibiting on all occasions.)

Mrs. Burton Hayley was tall--even taller than her daughter; and her form
had assumed, with advancing years, a fulness which the complimentary would
have designated as "plump," the irreverent as "stout," and the vulgar as
"fat." Her face, moulded somewhat after the same fashion as that of
Margaret, must have been undeniably handsome in youth, though now--the
truth must be told--it was not a specially lovable face to the acute
observer. Her dark eyes had still kept their depths of beautiful shadow,
and her intensely dark hair (though she had married late in girlhood and
was now fifty) showed neither thinness nor any touch of gray. But the long
and once classical features had become coarsened a little in the secondary
formation of adipose particles; the possible paleness of girlhood had given
place to a slight red flush (especially in that tropical weather) that was
not by any means becoming to her; and there were all the while two
conflicting expressions fighting for prominence in her face, so different
in themselves and so really impossible of amalgamation, that the most rabid
disciple of "miscegenation" could not have arranged a plan for blending
them both into one. The outer expression, which seemed somehow to lie as a
thin transparent strata over the other, indicated pious and resigned
humility--that feeling which passes by the ordinary accidents and troubles
of life as merely gentle trials of faith and of no consequence in view of
the great truth rooted within. The second and inner, which would persist in
obtruding itself through the transparent mask, was _pride_--pride in its
most intense and concentrated form--pride in blood, wealth, personal
appearance, position, every thing belonging to and going to make up that
marvellous human compound, Mrs. Burton Hayley. The eyes were trained to be
very subdued and decorous in their expression; but they did so want to
flash out authority, if not arrogance! The nose was kept always (or
generally) at the proper subservient level; but it did so itch and tingle
for the privilege of lifting itself high in air and taking a nasal view,
from that altitude, of all the world lying below it! It was very evident,
to any one observing the mother after having examined the daughter's face
in the clear light of physiognomy, that the latter had derived from her
maternal progenitor most of that overweening pride which youth and beauty
yet wore as a crown of glory but age might wear as something much less
attractive,--and that she must have inherited from her dead father that
softness, frankness, and that better-developed love-nature which toned down
in her own all the more decided features of the mother's face and made her
worthy of affection as well as admiration.

As we have said, Mrs. Burton Hayley was using her tongue with great
volubility at the moment of her introduction to the attention of the
reader, though really the mode in which her single auditor kept her head
buried in the pillow and drew the soft folds around her ears with both
hands, did not indicate that desire for steady conversation which could
have made such a continual verbal clatter a thing of necessity. There is
the more occasion for giving Mrs. Burton Hayley her full opportunity for
speech, as she has occasion to utter but little hereafter, in this
connection.

"You should be very thankful, my child, for all that has occurred," the
voluble woman was saying. "A Power higher than ourselves overrules all
these affairs much better than we could do; and it is flying in the face of
Providence to cry and go on over little disappointments."

A pause of one instant, and one instant only, as if in expectation that
some reply would be vouchsafed; and then the band was again thrown upon the
driving-wheel--as one of the machinery-tenders in a factory might say,--and
the human buzz-saw whirled once more.

"I have told you, child, time and again, that you would be punished for
setting your affections on any person who had not given evidence of a
changed heart--a man who had not passed from death unto life, but who still
ran after the pomps and vanities of the world--those pomps and vanities
which religion teaches us to despise and put away from us." (Oh, Mrs.
Burton Hayley, why did you not catch a glance, at that moment, of the room
in which you were sitting, redolent of every luxury within the reach of any
ordinary wealth, and of your own stately and still comely person, arrayed
in garments the least possible like those with which people content
themselves who have really eschewed the "pomps and vanities of the world,"
either from conscientious humility or that other and much commoner
motive--the lack of means to continue them!) "You should be very glad that
you have been providentially delivered from your engagement with an
unbeliever and a man of the world--a man without principle, I dare say, as
you have discovered that he is without courage; and all the money there is
in his family (and they _do_ say that the Brands have not much and never
have had much!)--all their money, I say, acquired in the disreputable
practice of the law, so that if this thing had not happened and you had
been left to depend for subsistence upon his fortune, you might have found
it all melting away in a moment, as money dishonestly acquired is certain
to do; for does not the blessed book that I try to make my rule of life,
say, my child, that moth is certain to corrupt and thieves break through
and steal whatever has been wrung from the widow and the orphan?"

Margaret Hayley had not replied a word during the whole application of that
verbal instrument of torture, though it seemed evident from the context
that some conversation employing the tongues of both must have passed at an
earlier period of the interview. She had merely writhed in body and groaned
in spirit, as every moment told her more and more distinctly that in her
dark hour she had no mother who could understand and sympathize with
her--that cant phrases and pious generalizations were to be hurled against
her at that moment when most of all she needed to be treated by that mother
like a wearied child, drawn home to her bosom and cradled to sleep amid
soothing words and loving kisses.

But Margaret Hayley did something else than writhe when the accusation of
having acquired his wealth by dishonesty was cast upon the man whom she had
worshipped--yes, the man whom she worshipped still, in spite of the one
terrible defect which seemed to draw an eternal line of separation between
them. She started up from her recumbent position, her hair dishevelled, her
eyes red with weeping, and her whole face marked and marred by the anguish
she had been suffering,--sprang up erect at once, with all her mother's
pride manifest in voice and gesture, and said:

"Mother, are you a rank hypocrite, or have you neither sense nor memory?"

A strange question, from a daughter to her mother! The reply was not quite
so strange, and it seemed to have much more of earnest in it than any
portion of the long tirade she had before been delivering:

"Margaret Hayley, how _dare_ you!"

"We can dare a good many things, when we do not care whether we live or
die!" was the reply. "And though I have loved and respected you as my
mother, I do not know that I have ever been afraid of you. Now listen. You
have hated Carlton Brand, ever since he first came to this house, because
he did not treat your religious assumptions with quite as much deference as
you considered proper. He may have been right, or wrong: no matter now, as
he is out of the way! But you have hated him, and you know it--because I
loved him--I am not ashamed to own it!--loved him with my whole soul, as I
believed that he deserved--as any woman _should_ love the man whom she
expects to take her to his heart!"

"Well, what if I did dislike him? I had a right to do that, I suppose!"
answered the mother, her voice no longer religiously calm, but rough and
querulous.

"Do not interrupt me!--hear me out!" said the young girl. "You liked Hector
Coles for a corresponding reason--because he pretended to fall into all
your notions, and complimented you on your 'piety' and 'Christian dignity,'
when he was all the while laughing at you behind your back. You would have
been pleased to see me discard the man I loved, and marry the man I could
never love while I lived,--because your own likes and dislikes were in the
way, and because you believed that in the position of mother-in-law you
could manage the one and could _not_ manage the other."

"Well, what else, to your mother, Miss Impertinence!" broke in the lady who
had been so voluble.

"Oh, a great deal more!" answered Margaret, with a manner not very
different from a sneer. "To-day, since you have known that for one spot on
a character otherwise so noble, I have broken off all relations with
Carlton Brand, you have done nothing but sit here and preach me Christian
resignation in words that your own heart was as steadily denying. When a
true mother would have tried to console, you have tortured. And you have
ended all by alleging that Carlton Brand and his father have acquired their
money dishonorably, because they have both been lawyers,--and that such
money must be accursed in the hands of any one who holds it."

"I have said so, and I have a right to say so!" echoed the mother. "You may
let loose your ribald tongue against the author of your being, ungrateful
girl; but the truth is from heaven, and must be told--wealth obtained in
any manner by day, upon which a blessing cannot be asked at night, is
itself accursed, and curses every one who partakes in the use of it."

"And every dollar that has been dishonestly obtained, then, should at once
be restored to the rightful owner, I suppose--in order to escape the
curse?" suggested Margaret.

"Every dollar, and at once; for, as the Bible says, the spoiler cometh as a
thief in the night, and no one can say how soon the judgment may fall!"
answered the mother, triumphantly and in full confidence that she had at
last silenced her refractory child by a strictly orthodox quotation.

"How much are we worth, mother?" was the singular question which followed
this supposed annihilation of all argument.

"Why, you know as well as I do that we have eighty thousand in stocks and
in bank; and this property and that at Pottsville is believed to be worth
twenty or thirty thousand more. We are worth, as you call it, more than a
hundred thousand, and the whole of it will be yours some day--not very long
first, when I have gone, as I hope and trust I may say, to my reward. You
are rich, my child, and I am glad to see that you think of these things at
last, as you may be kept from throwing yourself away _again_."

The voice and whole manner of the mother were much more amiable than they
had been at any time since the rising of her daughter from the sofa; for
nothing seemed to restore the tone of her agitated feeling like references,
from whatever source, to her wealth and position.

"A hundred thousand. There is not nearly enough, then!" The words were half
muttered, but Mrs. Burton Hayley distinctly heard them. And she saw
something on the face of the young girl which she by no means understood,
as the latter drew from her bosom the lower ends of the gold chain
depending there, and unclasped the back of a rather large and very thick
locket, the front of which presented a miniature in ivory of the handsome,
well-whiskered and pleasant-looking Mr. Burton Hayley, her deceased father.
Though she raised the locket to her lips and kissed it reverently, that
something on the face had not changed when she took from its unsuspected
concealment a small slip of newspaper, neatly folded and of size enough to
contain some twenty or thirty lines of small type. The mother's eyes were
by this time wide open with astonishment and partial fear that her daughter
had lost her wits in the agitation of that day. The paper looked old and
yellow. Margaret unrolled it and said:

"Mother, here is something that I have carried with me night and day for
five years past. I found it at that time, when clipping old newspapers in
the attic, for my scrap-book. I marked the date on the back--it is eighteen
years old, and the paper was a Harrisburgh one of that time. Have you your
glasses with you, or shall I read it?"

"Why, child, are you crazy? What has that slip of paper to do with the
subject of which we were talking?"

"Perhaps you can tell quite as well as myself, after I read it," answered
Margaret. And she moved nearer to the one unshuttered window of the parlor,
to secure a better light for the small type and dingy paper, the face of
her mother gradually changing, meanwhile, from the surprise which had
filled it, to a whiteness which seemed born of terror. Margaret read:

     "SOUTTER AND OTHERS VS. HAYLEY AND OTHERS.--This somewhat
     remarkable railroad case closed yesterday, and the complaint
     was dismissed. Judge L----, in granting the motion for a
     dismissal, took occasion to remark that he had seldom
     performed a more painful duty. That the railroad company had
     been defrauded to the extent of not less than eighty
     thousand dollars by Burton Hayley, the contractor, was one
     of the conclusions--the learned judge said--in which all
     would unfortunately agree. But the operation had been
     managed with great skill, and legal evidence of what was
     morally certain had not been produced. He should therefore
     grant the motion, with the regret expressed, and with the
     hope that in a future prosecution the evidence which was
     certainly demanded might be forthcoming, and the defrauded
     company at least find themselves in a position to punish the
     wrong-doer. We hear it stated, upon authority which seems
     reliable, that Hayley has heretofore been known as a
     reliable man, and that he has undoubtedly been urged to
     steps which he must regret during his whole life, even if
     justice does not reach him, or conscience compel him to make
     restitution,--by the demands made upon him in behalf of a
     ruinously expensive family, and by evil advice which he has
     no doubt received from the same quarter. Hayley will
     probably leave Harrisburgh at once, to enjoy what may be
     left of his ill-gotten gains in some locality where his
     antecedents are less fully understood."

Mrs. Burton Hayley had sunk back into her chair at the moment when Margaret
read the first words, and she remained silent till the close. Her face was
white, except that a single red spot burned in the very centre of either
cheek. Her daughter looked steadily upon her for an instant after she had
concluded. Still neither spoke. The mother's eyes had in them something of
that baleful light shown by the orbs of a wild beast when driven to its
corner; and they, with the crimson spotted cheeks, were not pleasant things
to look upon. At last Margaret asked:

"Did you ever hear of this before? Was that man my father?"

"What of it? Yes!" The words were nearer spat out than spoken. Margaret
glanced, perhaps involuntarily, at the ostentatious Bible on its carved
stand.

"Was that money ever repaid to the railroad company?"

For just one instant the lips of Mrs. Burton Hayley moved as if she was
about to utter a falsehood little less black than the original crime had
been. If she had for that instant intended to do so, she thought better of
it and jerked out: "How should I know? I suppose there is no use in telling
a lie about it, to _you_! No!"

"So I thought!" said Margaret Hayley. "That eighty thousand dollars, then,
has been standing for fifteen years, and the interest upon it would nearly
double the sum. We owe that railroad company, or so many members of the
original company as may be yet alive, not less than one hundred and fifty
thousand dollars. We have only an hundred thousand or a very little more,
but that will be something. Of course, after what you have just said of the
curse that clings to ill-gotten gain, you will join me in paying over every
dollar in our possession, at once."

Mrs. Burton Hayley sprang up from her chair with more celerity than she had
before exhibited. "Margaret Hayley, are you a born fool?" she almost
screamed.

"No, nor a born _hypocrite_!" the young girl replied. Again her eyes went
round to the Bible, and those of the mother followed hers as if they were
compelled by a charm. Then those of the latter drooped, and they did not
rise again as she said, in a much lower voice:

"You know the secret. I am in your power. But I am your mother, and it may
be quite as well for you to be merciful to me as well as to yourself. Upon
what terms will you give me that paper and promise never to speak of it or
of the affair to any one without my consent?"

"I will not give you the paper upon _any_ terms!" was the answer. "That has
been my shame and my torture for five years, and must still accompany me.
But I will be your accomplice in crime and make the promise you require, on
three conditions and those only. _First_, that you drop all hypocrisy when
speaking to _me_, whatever you may do before the world. _Second_, that you
never speak one disrespectful word of Carlton Brand, again, in my hearing.
He is dead to me: let your hatred of him die with him, or at least let me
hear no word of it. _Third_, that you urge no person upon me as a husband.
Present me whom you please--throw me into any company you wish; but say not
one word to force me into marriage with Hector Coles or any other person.
This will not break my heart--I know it. I shall marry some time, no doubt,
when I find the man who can supply that place in my heart which has to-day
been left empty,--without any foible or weakness to make him an unfit match
for my own _stainless_ blood!"

There was a bitter emphasis upon the penultimate word, and Mrs. Burton
Hayley distinctly recognized it. She recognized, too, the somewhat singular
prophecy made by a young girl on the very day of her final parting with the
man she had loved so dearly--that _she would yet find another to fill her
heart more completely_. Most young persons think very differently at the
moment of the great first sorrow, believe that the vacant niche can never
be filled, and make painful promises of hopeless lives and celibacy, to
cancel those promises some day amid blushes of regret or peals of laughter.
Mrs. Burton Hayley recognized the singularity then, and she may have had
reason to recall that prophecy at another day in the near future.

But there was yet something that she must do, to seal that treaty of which
her daughter was the dictator. Her own compact was to be made: she made it.

"I will do as you wish, Margaret. They are hard terms to set, to _your
mother_; but I accept them."

"Very well, then. We understand each other, now; and I hope there will
never be another painful word between us. I will try to speak none, and for
both our sakes I hope you will be as careful. Now leave me, please. I will
draw to this other shutter, for I need darkness, silence and rest--yes,
rest!"

The closed blind left the room in almost total dusk. The mother left the
room, stepping slowly and appearing to bear about with her a dim
consciousness that within the past half-hour her relative position with her
daughter had been most signally changed. Margaret Hayley threw herself once
more on the sofa, buried her fevered brow and her dishevelled hair in the
soft, cool, white pillow, and sought that wished-for "rest." Alas! no
tyrant ever invented a torture-bed so full of weary turnings and agonized
prayers for deliverance or oblivion, as the softest couch whereon young
love, suddenly and hopelessly bereft, reaches out its arms in vain, finds
emptiness, and falls back despairing--moaning for the lost twin of its
soul! The agony may be all forgotten to-morrow, in the sunshine, and the
intoxication of music, and the voices of friends, and the far-off dawning
of a new passion; but oh, what is the martyrdom of to-night.

       *       *       *       *       *

The third and last of these supplementary scenes, occurring at nearly the
same period in the afternoon as the second, has its location at the house
of Robert Brand, and a part of it in the same room where we have before
seen the testy invalid while receiving the news of his son's defection and
disgrace.

Robert Brand was once more back in his easy-chair, his injured limb again
propped on the pillows, and his face showing all those contortions of
extraordinary pain likely to be induced by his imprudent ride and the
agitation attending it. Satisfied, now, that his son was not dead, the
tender father had again died out in him; but made aware by a succession of
facts, which he could neither understand nor doubt, that that son, just
characterized, even by himself, as a hopeless coward, had since that time
been fighting, and fighting without any evidence of cowardice, in a species
of hand-to-hand conflict likely to try the courage quite as seriously as
the shock of any ordinary battle,--he was mentally in a state of confusion
on the young man's account, altogether unusual with him and not a little
painful. He did not curse any more, or at least no more of his curses were
aimed at the head of his son.

Poor little Elsie had been left without a hope of reconciliation between
her father and her brother, after the hurling of that wild and wicked curse
and the exile from his home which it involved. But the episode of the
supposed death had made a diversion in Carlton's favor; her father had
returned from the search for his son's body, worried and unsettled if not
mollified; and the affectionate soul thought that the opportunity might be
a favorable one for securing the reversal of the cruel sentence, with
concealment from her brother that any such words had ever been uttered, and
his eventual return home as if nothing painful or unpleasant had occurred.
"Blessed are the peace-makers!" says very high authority; and most blessed
of all are those who, like little Elsie, ignoring their own suffering and
ill-treatment, strive to bring together the divided members of a once happy
household!

But the little girl was not half aware how stubborn was the material upon
which she was trying to work, or how deeply seated was the feeling of
mortification which had embittered the whole nature of the man who held
cowardice to be the most unpardonable of vices.

"Hold your tongue, girl!" was the severe reply to her suggestion that there
might be some mistake, after all--that poor Carlton had enemies, and they
had no doubt labored to place him in a false position--and that he would be
sorry, to the last day he lived, if when Carlton returned home, as he
probably would do that night if nothing serious had really happened to him,
he should say one word to drive him away again, to leave himself without a
son, and her without a brother. "Hold your tongue, girl! You are a little
fool, and do not know what you are talking about. If you do not wish to
follow your brother, you had best not meddle any more in the relations
which I choose to establish with a son who has disgraced himself and me!"

"But suppose poor Carlton _should_ be dead, after all, father? Who knows
but some stranger may have come by in a wagon, seen the body lying on the
ground, picked it up and carried it away to the Coroner's?"

"Eh! What is that you say?" For the instant Robert Brand was startled by
the suggestion and his heart sunk as well as softened at the recurring
thought that his son might indeed be dead. But the thought was just as
instantaneous, how general was the objection to touching an unknown dead
body, and how unlikely that any such course should have been adopted by
strangers, while any acquaintance, removing the body at all, would
certainly have brought it home to his own house. No--he was alive; and
that belief was once more full in the mind of Robert Brand as he said:

"What do I care if he _is_ dead! I believe I could forgive him better, if I
knew that he was, and that I should never again set eyes on the likeness of
a man with the soul of a cat or a sheep! If he is alive, as I believe he
is, let him never come near this house again if he does not wish to hear
words said that he will remember and curse the last thing before he dies!"

A sharp spasm of pain concluded this unhallowed utterance, and words
followed that have no business on this page. Elsie Brand fired again, when
she found all her pleading in vain, and broke out with:

"You are a miserable heartless old wretch, and I have a great mind to go
out of this house, this very moment, and never come into it again as long
as I live, unless you send for me to come back with my brother!"

"Go, and the quicker the better!" writhed the miserable man, in the midst
of a spasm of pain. "If I hear one more impertinent word out of you, you
_will_ go, whether you wish to go or not, and you will never come back
again unless you come on your knees!"

What might have been the next word spoken by either, and whether that next
word might not indeed have wrought the separation of father and daughter,
no one can say. For at that moment came a fortunate interruption, in the
sound of carriage wheels coming rapidly up the lane, and easily heard
through the open doors--then the furious barking of a dog, the yell of a
woman's voice, and a volley of fearful curses poured out from the rougher
lips of a man. Elsie, alarmed, but perhaps rather glad than otherwise to
have the threatening conversation so suddenly ended, rushed out of the
room, through the parlor, to the front piazza, where she joined the general
confusion with a scream of affright, hearing which, the invalid, who had
before, more than once that day, proved how superior the mind could be to
the disablements of the body, hurled one more oath at the people who would
not even allow him to suffer in quiet, started again from his chair,
grasped his heavy cane and stumped hurriedly to the door, writhing in agony
and half crazed with pain and vexation. There the sight which had the
instant before met the eyes of his daughter, met his own, though the effect
produced by it upon himself was so very different that instead of screaming
he dropped against the lintel of the front door in a loud explosion of
laughter.

There was a horse and buggy in the lane, very near the gate--the horse
unheld, rearing and squealing, but making no attempt to run away as might
have been expected. Close beside the vehicle, a man easily recognizable as
Dr. Philip Pomeroy, was engaged in a hand-to-hand (or is it
hand-to-_mouth_?) conflict with Carlo, the big watch-dog, using the butt of
his whip, the lash of it, his boots, and any other weapon of offence in his
possession, against the determined assaults of the powerful brute that
really seemed disposed to make a meal of the man of medicine. The doctor
fought well, in that new revival of the sports of the Roman arena, but he
was terribly bested (by which it is only intended to use an old word of the
days of chivalry, and not to make an atrocious pun upon _beast-ed_;) and
just at the moment when Robert Brand's eyes took in all the particulars of
the scene, the human combatant, following up a temporary advantage, lunged
ahead a little too far, lost his balance or caught his foot, and went
headlong on the top of the dog, the contest being thereafter conducted on
the ground and in the partial obscurity of the fence. At the same instant,
too, the tall, bare-headed and bare-armed figure of old Elspeth Graeme
appeared from behind the corner of the house, and the voice of that
Caledonian servitor was heard screaming out:

"Here, Carlo! Here, lad! coom awa, ye daft deevil! Here! here! coom awa,
lad!"

Elsie joined with a feeble "Here, Carlo!" from the piazza; and Robert
Brand, if he could have found voice, would probably have assisted in
calling off the dog; but Carlo, a formidable animal in size, black, with a
few dashes of white, compounded of the Newfoundland and the Mount St.
Bernard, with a surreptitious cross of the bull-dog (such immorality has
been known even in canine families, to the great regret of precisian
dog-fanciers)--Carlo had no idea whatever of "throwing up the sponge,"
(which with a dog consists, we believe, in dropping his tail), and might
have fought on until death, doomsday, or the loss of his teeth from old
age, arrived to stop him--had not Elspeth closed in with a "Hech! ye born
deevil! Ye'll aye be doin' more than ye'r tauld!" grasped the huge animal
by the nape of the neck, and dragged him away very much as if she had been
dealing with a kitten.

Thus relieved, the doctor recovered his feet; but he was--as Elspeth
described him in a communication made not long after--"a sair lookin'
chiel!" He had lost his hat, dusted his coat, and found a sad rent in one
leg of his nether garments, not to mention the rage which flashed in his
eye and almost foamed from his mouth. For the first moment after the rescue
he seemed to have a fancy for "pitching into" old Elspeth, unreasonable as
such a course would have been after her calling off the dog and finally
lugging him off by main force; and he did hurl after her an appellation or
two which might have furnished a rhyme to the name of the Scottish national
disease; but the stout serving woman quelled him with this significant
threat, and went on her way, dragging the dog towards his kennel in the
backyard:

"'Deed, if ye can't keep a ceevil tongue in yer heid, I'll no be holdin'
the tyke awa from ye a bit langer, and he'll eat ye up, I doubt!"

At that juncture the discomfited doctor caught sight of Robert Brand and
his daughter, in the door and on the piazza, and he strode in to them
without further ado, whip still in hand, rage still in his face, and
threatening enough in his manner to indicate that he intended to cowhide so
many of the family as he could find, male and female.

"Who let out that infernal dog?" was his first salutation, without first
addressing either the old man or his daughter by name.

"He must have broken loose, himself. Indeed, Doctor, we are so sorry--"
began little Elsie, who had really been frightened out of her wits, and who
had that organ unknown to the phrenologists, called Hospitality, very
largely developed.

"Hold your tongue, girl, and let me attend to my own business!" was the
surly interruption of the invalid father, who had stopped laughing, and who
had at that juncture a very low development of the corresponding organ. "We
are not sorry at all. Dr. Pomeroy, I told you this morning, when I ordered
you out of this house, never to come near it again; and you had better paid
attention to the order."

"Then _you_ had that dog set loose!"

"That is a lie!" was the response. The doctor, who had used the same
expression in a still more offensive form, not long before, was getting the
chalice returned to his lips at very short notice. And the old man, in
denying the act, intended to tell the exact truth--he had not turned the
dog loose, or set him upon the doctor, except secondarily. Some hours
before, when the medical man had just been dismissed for the first time, he
had told the Scottish woman that 'he would bundle her out, neck and crop,
if she did not set the dog on that man if he ever came near the house
again!' and she had promised to obey his orders: that was all! Carlo, a
dear friend of his young master, had always hated the doctor, who was his
enemy, and never passed without snapping and growling at him; and the old
woman well knew the fact. Consequently, when she saw the buggy dashing up
the lane, and recognized it, she had religiously kept her promise, darted
round to the kennel, unloosed the dog and directed his attention to the
obnoxious individual, with a "Catch him, laddie!" that sent him flying at
the doctor's throat just as he stepped to the ground. And it was only when
the old woman believed the punishment going a little too far and the
victim likely to be eaten up in very deed, that she had interposed and
dragged the enraged brute from his prey. All this was unknown to both
father and daughter, who merely supposed that the dog had broken loose at
that awkward moment; and Robert Brand's disclaimer, though a very
uncourteous one, had the merit of truth. But the doctor, just then enraged
beyond endurance, literally "boiled over" at the word.

"I lie, do I?" he foamed. "If you were not a miserable cripple, I would
horse-whip you on your own door-step, old as you are!"

"Oh, Doctor! oh, father!" pleaded the frightened Elsie, who did not know
what might be coming after this.

"Hold your tongue, girl!" again spoke Robert Brand, who still stood leaning
against the lintel of the door. "Horsewhip me, would you, you poisoning
Copperhead! If I could not beat out your brains with this stick, I could
set a woman at you who would take you across her knee and spank you till
you were flat like a pancake!"

Dr. Pomeroy thought of the woman who had dragged off the dog, and had some
doubts whether she could not indeed do all that her master promised. He
seemed to have the luck, that day, to fall into the way of people sturdy of
arm and strong of will!

"What do you _want_ here?" was the inquiry of the old man, before the
doctor could answer again, and remembering that there might be some special
errand upon which he had a right to come.

"You have remembered it, have you?" was the response. "Well, then, I want
your thief of a son! Is he in this house?"

"Oh, he was a coward this morning: now he is a thief, is he? What do you
want of him?"

"He committed theft at my house not more than an hour ago; and I am going
to find him if he is in the State. Once more--is he here?"

"What did he steal?" asked the father with a sneer, while poor Elsie stood
nearly fainting and yet unable to move from the spot, at that new charge
against her brother.

"A woman." Elsie felt relieved; the old man sneered.

"Well, I can only say that if he took away any woman belonging to _you_, he
must have a singular taste!"

"Robert Brand"--and the doctor spoke in a tone of low and concentrated
passion--"once more and for the last time I ask you whether your son is in
this house, with Eleanor Hill, my--my adopted daughter, in his company."

"Eleanor Hill!" gasped Elsie, but no one heard her.

"Dr. Pomeroy," answered Robert Brand, "you do not deserve any answer except
a blow, but I will give you one. My son, as you call him, Carlton Brand, is
not here, and will never be here again while I live, unless to be thrust
out like a dog. How many girls he has, or where he conceals them, is none
of my business, or _yours_! Now go, if you know when you are well off, for
as sure as God lets me live, if I ever see you approaching this house
again, I will shoot you from the window with my own hand."

Something in the tone told Dr. Pomeroy that both the assertion and the
threat were true. He turned without another word, stepped to his buggy,
mounted into it and drove away.

"He is alive, father--thank God!" said Elsie Brand, reverently, when the
unwelcome visitor had disappeared and she was assisting the invalid back to
his chair of suffering. That one assurance had been running through her
little head, putting out all other thoughts, since the remark of the doctor
that Carlton had been at his house not an hour before.

"He is as dead to me as if he had been buried ten years!" was the reply of
the implacable father, who stood in momentary peril of the grave from some
sudden turn of his disease, and yet who had not even taken that first step
towards preparation for the Judgment, comprised in pity and forgiveness!



CHAPTER X.

     BEFORE AND AFTER GETTYSBURGH--THE APATHY AND DESPAIR WHICH
     PRECEDED, AND THE JUBILATION WHICH FOLLOWED--WHAT KITTY HOOD
     SAID AFTER THE BATTLE, AND WHAT ROBERT BRAND--BROTHER AND
     SISTER--A GUEST AT THE FIFTH AVENUE HOTEL--A FIRE-ROOM
     VISIT, AN INTERVIEW, AND A DEPARTURE FOR EUROPE.


It was a dark day for the nation--perhaps none darker!--that day of late
June, 1863, marked by the occurrence of the preceding events. Private
interests, private wrongs, private sorrows seemed all to be culminating or
laying down fearful material for culmination in the future; but those
domestic convulsions were only a faint and feeble type of that great throe
agitating the whole nation. That day the bravest feared, not for themselves
but for the country they loved; and that day the miserable trucklers who
would long before have had the republic veil its face and sink on its knees
before the arrogance of rebellion, begging for "peace" with dishonor,
instead of demanding and enforcing victory,--that day they experienced such
a triumph as they had never before known and such as their narrow souls
could scarcely appreciate. "We told you so!" rung out from the throat of
every "conditional loyalist," as the same paltry exultation had rung many
an age before against the unsubmitting tribunes by the mad populace when
the Volscians threatened to devastate Rome--as it had been yelled into the
ears of Philip Van Artevelde and his brother defenders, when Ypres and
Bruges fell, and the fierce Earl of Flanders promised death to the burghers
of Ghent; and there was little, except bald defiance, that loyal men could
reply. That long-boasted "invasion of the North" had come at last; and
there is always a disheartening effect in the drawing of war nearer to the
doors it has heretofore spared, even as there is always a scum among any
population, ready to cry "ruin!" and counsel "submission" or "compromise"
when a single move in the great game of war has ended disastrously.

A more dreary spectacle than Philadelphia presented during some of the days
of that week, cannot very well be imagined. From Harrisburgh and many of
the minor towns of the west and southwest of the State, the inhabitants had
fled by thousands to other places supposed to be less easily within reach
of the enemy; and, if in a future day of peace those who at this juncture
took part with the rebellion should chance to be shamed with a reminder of
the panic in Richmond, and the removal of the Confederate archives, after
Hanover Court-House in 1862, they may very pleasantly retaliate by calling
up the panic at Harrisburgh and the packing up of the Pennsylvania State
records, after York and Carlisle in 1863. Hundreds of wealthy persons
removed their valuables even to Philadelphia; and there is no guarantee
whatever that many of them did not make a still further removal East, when
they could do so without attracting disagreeable attention and running the
chance of after ridicule.

There seemed to be an impression just then, in fact, that there was no
power whatever to check the disciplined but half-starved and desperate
rebel hordes. Even those who did not view the affair as any matter of gloom
or discouragement, still believed it one of heavy loss that must be
submitted to with the best grace possible.

One of the young Philadelphia merchants was recognized by a friend, on one
of the very last days of June, knocking about the balls in the
billiard-room of the Cattskill Mountain House, and questioned by him as to
the propriety of his being away from the Quaker City at a time when so
heavy a misfortune as the rebel advance to the Delaware seemed to be
impending.

"Oh," said the merchant, making an eight-shot at the same moment, "I do not
see any good that I could do by staying."

"And do you not believe that the rebels will reach Philadelphia?" asked the
friend.

"Well, yes, I rather think they will," answered the nonchalant. "I should
not be surprised if they should reach there to-morrow. In fact I
telegraphed to my partner from Albany, yesterday, whenever they had taken
Harrisburgh to pack up the most valuable of our goods and send them to New
York."

"And when they have taken New York?" asked the interrogator, not a little
amused at that new system of defending valuable property and the country.

"Oh," said the merchant, as he sighted another shot and made his carom
without the tremor of a pulse--"when they take New York, as I suppose they
will in a week or two, we shall move them to Boston, and so keep on working
East till they drive us into Canada or the Atlantic."

And this was not all a jest, by any means. The player had so telegraphed,
and he more than half believed that his goods were at that time in course
of removal, while he had no thought whatever of deserting his
billiard-table and going down to assist in defending them. He was not
alone, meanwhile, in his reprehensible coolness, as history will be at some
pains to record of that extraordinary crisis.

Philadelphia presented many strange spectacles on those days. Apart from
the blowing of a brass band on every corner, the patrolling of every
sidewalk by a recruiting officer with fife and drum, and the requisite
number of human "stool-pigeons," and the exhibition of the placard before
noted, offering every inducement in money and every plea of patriotism for
"State defence,"--there were other and yet more marked indications of a
period out of the common order even for war-time. The American and the
Merchants', favorite resorts of mercantile buyers from the rural counties
of the State, were full of guests, but they lounged in the reading and
smoking-rooms, and had no thought of commercial transactions. Gold was
going up, its higher rate marking increased fever in the pulse of the
national patient; and yet business was almost as stagnant in the broker's
offices of Third Street as were wholesale transactions in the heavy houses
on Walnut and Chestnut and Market below Second. The old Tonawanda and the
still older Saranac, lying idle at the foot of Walnut Street, their yards
lank and bare as winter trees, and the ships waiting for freight that
seemed to be long in coming, found a new use in illustrating the hopeless
stagnation of the city. The theatres had nearly all closed before, and the
last hurried its unprofitable season to an end. The red bricks of old
Independence Hall seemed more dingy than ever; and those who glanced into
the hall where the great Declaration was signed in Seventy-six, at the
cracked bell and the other sad reminders of a past age and a by-gone
patriotism, thought whether new masters would not claim those relics for
their own, before many days, issuing a new manifesto of slavery from that
second Cradle of Liberty, while their gaunt steeds were picketed in
Independence Square. Men saw the sleepless eye of the clock look down from
the old steeple, at night, with a helpless prayer, as if something of
protection which had before lived in the sacred building was to be found no
more; and the bell woke many a sleeper at midnight, with its slow and
melancholy stroke, to a feeling of loss and sorrow like that which it might
have evoked when sounding for the burial of dear friends. All day long
crowds gathered and held their place, wearily moving to and fro, but never
dispersing, in the open space in front of the historic pile; and "peace"
orators, who had before been awed into silence by the threats and
demonstrations of earlier days, once more ventured treasonable harangues to
sections of those crowds, while the policemen scarcely found energy enough
to disperse the hearers or arrest the disturbers. The bulletin boards were
besieged; the newspaper offices had a demand for extras unknown to the
oldest inhabitant of the quiet city; and the telegraph offices, busied
alike with messages of public and private interest, had never before known
such a test of their capacity since Morse first set Prometheus at his new
occupation of a messenger. A few troops marched away, the Reserves (with
Dick Compton in their ranks) among the number; and the New York militia
regiments and some of the New Jersey troops passed through on their third
campaign for "home defence;" but the public mind was not reassured. Once
there was a rumor that McClellan had been called again to the command of
the Army of the Potomac, or at least entrusted with the defence of the
State, and then the general pulse for the moment beat wildly; but the
inspiriting report died away again, the non-arrival of the morning train
from Harrisburgh one day threw the whole city into panic, and the thought
of successfully defending the State capital sunk lower than ever. The
President, who had been bespoken to meet the Loyal Leagues and raise a new
flag on Independence Hall on the Fourth of July, was too busy or too much
discouraged, and would not come; and what heart lacked an excuse for
sinking down when so much was threatened and so little spirit shown for
meeting the great peril?

This was the week preceding the Fourth; and in that week, which closed with
the National Anniversary, what changes had taken place! The time and its
vicissitudes seemed to be an exact offset to the hopes and the
disappointments of the same period of 1862. Then, the Army of the Potomac
had lain before Richmond, and the Fourth was to have seen the old flag
waving in the rebel capital. It had really seen the little General driven
back upon the James, and repulsed if not hopelessly defeated. The Fourth of
1863 was to see Harrisburgh in the hands of the rebels, and the national
cause sunken lower than it had before been since the advent of the
secession. What did it really see? Thank God for a few such hours as those
of the close of the Fourth, in the midst of whole centuries of loss and
disappointment! All was changed--all was saved! Meade, a man of whom but
few knew any thing more, a week earlier, than that he was a brave man, a
good fighting General, and a brother of the overslaughed Captain Dick
Meade, of the North Carolina--Meade had arisen in doubt and culminated in
glory. Bloodiest and most important of all the battles of the Continent,
Gettysburgh stood already upon the pages of the National history, soaked
with the blood of the bravest--holy with the bravery and the energy which
had there broken and rolled back the tide of invasion, and yet to be holier
still as the Cemetery of the Battle-Dead of the Republic. Orators who began
their Fourth of July addresses with only their pulses of anxiety stirred by
the knowledge that there had been three days fighting, that Reynolds was
killed, and that the conflict seemed to have been desperate and undecided,
did not close them before they knew that the great victory was won, that
Meade was to be thenceforth a name of honor in the land, that Lee and his
hordes were in disastrous retreat, and that the "invasion of the North" was
at an end for all the time covered by this struggle. The news of Vicksburg
was soon to come, another crowning glory for the Fourth, though not known
for days after, and Grant was to be a third time canonized. But just then
there was enough without Vicksburg, and the nation might have gone mad over
the double tidings had they come at once.

Who, that has one drop of patriotic blood surging in his heart, can ever
forget the reading of those "victory extras" that flew wide over the land
on Saturday night and Sunday morning--the quavering voices of the readers,
the reddening cheeks and flashing eyes of the hearers? Never before did so
much seem to have been won, because never before did so much seem to have
been perilled. And Philadelphia, that had sunken lowest in despondency of
any of the great cities, naturally rose highest when the word of victory
came. Bells rung, flags waved, music sounded, gas blazed like the noonday,
processions paraded, business revived as if Trade had a human form and a
crushing weight had suddenly been lifted from its breast, and old
Independence Hall once more boomed its bell and flashed over the city its
midnight eye of fire, as if its defiance to tyranny and treason had never
faltered for a moment.

It was of Gettysburgh that Kitty Hood had been reading, at her little
cottage home near the great road, after her return from church on Sunday
the fifth of July, when she dashed away the tears of agitation and anxiety
that had been gathering in her eyes, and said:

"Dick Compton was right, after all, and I was a fool to try to keep him
away! If he had obeyed me, I should have despised him now; and if he has
not been killed in that terrible battle and lives to come home again, I
will tell him how wrong I was, and what a ninny I made of myself, and how
sorry I am for every word I spoke that day, and how much better I love him
because he obeyed the call of his country instead of the poor, weak,
miserable voice of a frightened woman!"

And it was of Gettysburgh and the desperate fighting around Cemetery Hill
that Robert Brand had been reading, on the same Sunday afternoon, sitting
in the shade of his own piazza, when he hurled out these bitter words,
which poor little Elsie heard as she lay upon the lounge in the parlor
within:

"This is what he has lost, the low-lived, contemptible poltroon! _My son_,
and to shirk a great battle! He might have been dead now, and in a grave
better than any house in which he can ever hide his miserable life; or he
might have had something to remember and boast of all his days--that he was
one of the Men of Gettysburgh! If I had two legs, I would go out and find
him yet and shoot him with my own hand--the infernal cowardly cur!"

And then the disgraced and irate father tried to forget his son and to bury
himself in other details of the great battle.

The sister did not reply aloud to her father's renewed objurgation. She
merely sobbed a little and took from her bosom a crumpled note and read it
over again for perhaps the fiftieth time, muttering low as she did so:

"Oh, father, father! If you knew how far you would need to go to seek poor
Carlton and make him even more miserable than he is, and how little chance
you have of ever seeing him again while you live--perhaps you would not
speak so cruelly of him." Then she kissed the crumpled note again and put
it back into her bosom, and tried to compose herself once more to that
sleep which the tropical heat invited and her aching heart forbade.

From the tone of that letter, it would seem that Elsie had written to her
brother, to his place of business in the city, when fully aware of the
unreasonable indignation which moved her father, advising him not to risk
serious personal insult by coming home until he should again hear from
her,--and that he had replied, from a place much farther away, informing
her of his intention to put seas between himself and the eyes of all who
had looked upon his disgrace. But better even this long separation--thought
the young girl--than a return which would induce words between father and
son, never to be forgiven or forgotten while either held life and memory.
Years might mellow the recollection and change the feeling--years when the
country should no longer make demands upon her children to breast the
battle storm in her behalf, and when the eloquent voice in the halls of
justice and the active, busy life in deeds securing the common welfare,
might be sufficient to win new honor and blot away any recollection of that
single sad misstep in the career of manhood. Poor, gentle, loving, faithful
little Elsie Brand!--it may be long before we have occasion to look upon
her again, and indeed she becomes henceforth but a comparative shadow; so
let it be put upon record here that she seemed "faithful among the
faithless" in practising the great lessons of hope and charity. The father
might utter curses to be set down against his own soul in the day when
human words as well as human actions must be called into judgment; friends
might look askance and enemies gloat over the disgrace of one who had
before stood high above them in all the details of honorable character;
even the sweetheart, whose pulses had once beaten so close to his that the
twin currents seemed flowing into one--even she might find some poor excuse
of pride to falsify her by-gone boast that she loved him better than all
the world, and let that hollow, wordy "honor" work their eternal
separation: all this might be, but the _sister_ had no such license to
waver in the course of her affection towards one who had been fondled by
the same hands in babyhood and drawn sustenance from the same maternal
bosom as herself. And no treason, all this, to the truths and the
eternities of other loves. All other relations may sooner change than that
which binds sister and brother, whose fondness has not been tainted by some
falsehood in blood or chilled by some wrong in education. Wife or mistress,
yesterday cold, may be to-day throbbing with the most intense warmth of
absorbing passion, and to-morrow chilled again by instability in herself or
unworthiness in the object of her regard: even the mother, that tenderest
friend of song and story and sometimes of real life, may scatter her
affections wide among so many children that each has but the pauper's
share, or form new ties and forget that ever the old existed. But the
brother, if he be not the veriest libel upon that sacred name, clings with
undying fondness to the sister; and the sister, ever faithful, clings to
the brother "through evil and through good report," when one or even both
may have become a scoff and a bye-word in every mouth that opens to speak
their names. Happy those men for whom the bond has never been either frayed
or broken: sad for those who ever look back through the long years and see
some sunny head of childhood hiding itself beneath the falling clods of the
church-yard, that might have nestled closer to them in after years than all
whom they have grasped, and cherished, and chilled, and lost!

It now becomes necessary to inquire the whereabouts of Carlton Brand, the
subject of so much sisterly love and so much fatherly indignation, at that
second period when Gettysburgh was a glorious novelty, its bloody splendors
flashing broad over the loyal States. And those whereabouts may very
readily be discovered. On the register of the Fifth Avenue Hotel, in the
city of New York, his name had been inscribed on the Wednesday evening
previous to Gettysburgh (the first day of July); and those among our
readers who may have chanced to be sojourners at the Fifth Avenue during
that week, and who will take the trouble to read over again the close and
accurate description given of the lawyer on his first appearance in the
presence of his sister and Margaret Hayley, in the second chapter of this
narration, may not find much difficulty in remembering the appearance of so
marked a man at the hotel at that period--the glances of admiration cast
upon his handsome face and manly figure as he sat at table or moved quietly
among the ever-changing crowd in the reading-room or down the long
halls--the almost total silence which he maintained, seeming to have no
acquaintances or to be anxious for escape from all conversation--his
inquiring more than once every day at the office for letters which
continually disappointed him--and the expression of drooping-eyed
melancholy in face and restless unquiet in movement, which gave rise to
many side remarks and led to many singular speculations.

He was alone--at least alone at the hotel; and Dr. Pomeroy, if he had
entertained any actual belief in his suggested elopement between the lawyer
and his "ward," might easily have satisfied himself, had he followed him to
the commercial metropolis, that no such elopement had taken place or that
the abductor had hidden his paramour carefully away and managed to keep
continually out of her presence.

Something indescribably dim and shadowy grows about the character and
action of Carlton Brand at this time; and the writer, without any wish or
will to do so, yields to the necessity, very much as the proud man of the
world yields to the pressure when events which he has assumed to direct
grow too mighty for his hand and bear him away in their rush and
tumult,--or as a father--to use a yet stronger and more painful
image--submits with a groan and a prayer when the child of his dear love
shuts the heart against him and breaks away from that tender control which
it has been alike his duty and his pleasure to supply. Some of our mental
children, especially when they are so real that time, place and
circumstance cannot be made for them at will, are sadly unmanageable; and
this instance furnishes an illustration which will be better understood at
a later period. Acts may yet be recorded, while yet acts remain to record;
but the heart closes, motives become buried in obscurity, and the narrator
grows to be little more than a mere insignificant, powerless chronicler of
events without connection and actions without explanation.

Taking up his quarters at the Fifth Avenue Hotel on Wednesday, this man, on
Friday, the third of July, while the city was in agonized anxiety over the
conflicting accounts of Meade's first battle of the day before, and while
the black frames for the Fourth of July fireworks were being erected in
front of the City Hall in the Park, with some uncertainty in the minds of
the workmen whether they would not be used for a pyrotechnic display over
the death-throe of the nation,--this man, Carlton Brand, took one of the
omnibuses of the Fifth Avenue line passing the door of his hotel, alighted
at the corner of Fulton Street and Broadway, walked down to the Bowling
Green and entered the office of the Cunard Steamships fronting that faded
relic of the Colonial splendors of New York. When he emerged from the
office, fifteen minutes later, the cash-box of the British and North
American Royal Mail Steamship Company was the richer by many broad pieces
of American gold, and Carlton Brand bore, folded away in his wallet, one of
those costly little pearl-white wings on which the birds of passage bear
themselves over the Atlantic. It was evident that he was about to desert
his country--that country for which he had before refused to fight,--to
desert it at the very moment when its fate before God and the world seemed
to hang trembling in the balance.

Coming out from the office of the Steamship Company, apparently wooed by
the breeze from the North River, the lawyer bent his steps in that
direction as if intending to make the tour of the shipping at the piers and
resume his conveyance at some point higher up the town. Past two or three
of the piers; and the dense black smoke pouring out from the funnels of one
of the transport steamers on the eve of departure for the South with troops
and munitions, seemed to attract his attention. He walked down the dock and
observed more closely the movements on and around the vessel. The black
smoke still rolled out, and steam was hissing from the escape-valves. Heavy
wagons were discharging boxes at the gangway, and with much puffing and
clatter a donkey-engine was hoisting them on board. A marine stood at the
plank, bayonetted musket on shoulder, and close behind him an officer. To
the civil inquiry of the lawyer, how long before the steamer would sail,
the sentry replied that she was then steaming-up and would probably leave
within a few hours; and to a request to be allowed to come on board and see
the arrangements of a government transport on the eve of sailing, the
officer, after a moment's glance at the unimpeachable dress and appearance
of the visitor, assented with the stately bow of his profession.

It certainly seemed strange that on that blazing day, when his errand at
the Hudson side of the city had been to inhale the cool breeze from the
river, Carlton Brand, within a moment after stepping on board the
transport, should have ignored all the details of decks, spars, cabins, and
even machinery, and descended the narrow stair-ways, little more than
ladders, leading down to those flaming intestines of the ship from which
the hot air crept up through the companion-ways like breaths from some
roasting and agonized monster. Yet so it was; and regardless alike of the
heat which fevered his lips and the greasy rails upon which he soiled his
gloves and risked the smirching of his spotless summer garments, the
lawyer pressed down to the fire-room, where the stokers were sweating great
drops of perspiration that rolled down like beads from their broiled
foreheads--where the coal was rattling and crashing as it was thrown
forward, then crackling and hissing at its first contact with the flame, as
it was dashed into the midst of the sweltering furnaces. Down, until he
stood before those mighty furnaces and caught blinding glimpses, as the
firemen momentarily opened the doors to dash in still other tons of the
crackling coal of what seemed little less than a ship's-cargo of the fuel,
seething, raging and lowing in such a heat that it made the old fancy of
the lower pit no longer a dream but a horrible present reality.

"Terrible work for hot weather, I should think," said the lawyer, when the
shovels were still for a moment and the great fires raged, roared and
crackled within. He seemed to feel the necessity of saying something to do
away with the impression of his being a sulky intruder,--and was addressing
one of the bronzed old stokers who had paused to wipe from his grimy brow
the sweat that was actually pouring into his eyes and blinding him.

"Yes, hot enough while we are lying at the dock," answered the stoker.

"Why hotter now than at any other time?" asked the lawyer, who had probably
never happened to study that peculiar philosophy, simply because he had
never been thrown into contact with it.

"Why? oh, Lord bless you!--because we are lying still, now, and there is no
draught. When we are going through the water, and of course through the
air, the motion makes a draught and we do not more than _half_ roast."

"Then it never gets _very_ cool down here?" was the next inquiry.

"Not _very_!" answered the fireman, sententiously. "But we never have the
worst of these hot fires," he continued, answering something that had not
been spoken but that seemed to be in the face of his auditor.

"Who then?"

"The passengers--at least some of them--on board any steamer that carries
them over sea or down the coast."

"You mean when they--when the steamers take fire and burn?" The question
was asked in what seemed to be a hurried and troubled voice; and had not
the reflected glow from the furnace made every thing red under its light,
there might have been seen a face of ghastly white contrasting with the
dark and grimy one so near.

"No!" and the stoker laughed. "I did not mean that--only the thought of it.
Steamers do not burn _very_ often--not half so often as I should think they
would, the way they are built, and with a whole Pennsylvania coal-mine on
fire inside of them at once. When they do go, though, they make things
howl! No slow burning, as there is sometimes on sailing-vessels, so that
they can batten down the hatches and keep the fire under until there is a
chance of help: every thing goes in a moment, and all is over in an
hour--iron steamer or wood, very little difference."

"Horrible!" said the lawyer. The word seemed forced from him, and there
could not be a doubt that he was at the moment fancying some terrible
reality.

"Yes, horrible enough!" answered the stoker. "But what I was speaking of,
is the foolish habit that passengers have--I have seen it often in crossing
the Atlantic--of coming down into the fire-room very soon after they start,
and taking a look at the furnaces. A good many of them never sleep a wink
afterwards, during the whole voyage, I believe, thinking of that mass of
red-hot coal lying in the middle of the ship, and wondering _when_ she is
going to burn. They are fools to come down at all: if they would just keep
out of the way they would never know how badly it looks, and then at least
they would never be burned until their time came!"

Just then the raging monster within seemed to demand more blazing food,
and the stoker turned away to attend to his duty. Had he remained
conversing one moment longer, he might have seen Carlton Brand totter back
against the bulk-head of the fire-room, literally gasping for breath--then
grapple for the railing of the stairs, and ascend the steps with the
staggering motion of a sick or drunken man, breathing heavily and giving
painful indications of being on the verge of falling insensible.

When the lawyer again emerged to the air of the deck, his face was ghastly
white, and he seemed altogether strangely altered since the moment of his
descent into those regions of fire and grime and terrible suggestion. What
had so changed him?--the heat, choking his lungs and preying upon a frame
unaccustomed to it?--or had the curse of his nature again found him out, in
the low of the furnaces and the heedless conversation of the fireman? and
did he remember that between himself and even that flight beyond the sea
which only could shut out from his ears the voice of contempt and the cry
of a neglected country, there yet lay the peril of the Amazon and the
Austria?

This occurred on Friday the third of July; and between that day and the
Sunday following there was nothing in the movements of the sojourner at the
Fifth Avenue, worthy of special record. But on that Sunday afternoon,
perhaps at the very hour when Kitty Hood, in one spot of that section of
country which had been his old home, was glorying over her lover's having
been at Gettysburgh,--and when Robert Brand, in another, was writhing and
cursing over the absence of his son from the same great battle,--an
incident took place at the hotel, apparently trivial, but which may
subsequently be found to have exercised no slight influence on the fortunes
of some of the different persons named in this chronicle. Unfortunately,
again, over this little event hangs a mist and a shadow, and only slight
glimpses can be obtained of what afterwards proved to be of such
unsuspected importance.

On that Sunday afternoon, at about two o'clock, Carlton Brand went down
from his room to the office of the hotel, to exchange a few words with the
clerk, and to secure one of the battle-extras which he had just heard from
his window cried in the street. Knots of men, guests, or passers-by, driven
in by the pouring rain without, filled the long hall, every third holding a
newspaper, every group in more or less animated conversation, and the one
topic that great conflict which had just bloomed out into a great victory.
The lawyer seemed to have company enough in his own thoughts, and did not
join any of the groups. He secured his extra, transacted his brief business
at the desk, and returned immediately upstairs. The moment after he had
left the desk, a young man advanced from one of the groups near the door,
asked a question of the clerk, was answered, overran a few pages of the
register with eye and finger, and then passed upstairs under the guidance
of a servant.

Carlton Brand had already thrown off coat and boots again, and was sitting
at the open window in dressing-gown and slippers, glancing over the
sensation-headings of the extra which gave the particulars of the Waterloo
of Secessia,--when there was a tap at the door. Stepping hastily thither
and opening it, with a muttered wonder why he could not be left alone to
his reading, a well-known figure stepped into the room and one of his
Philadelphia bar-intimates--perhaps the nearest to a confidential friend in
the whole profession, took him by the hand. For an instant the occupant of
the room seemed to be displeased at the intrusion and an expression of
annoyance flitted over his face; but old friendship was evidently too
powerful even for shame and lacerated feeling, and the next instant he had
cordially returned the grasp.

The new-comer, strangely enough, bore no slight resemblance to Carlton
Brand. We say strangely, because the lawyer was by no means such a person,
in general appearance, as could be readily duplicated. Henry Thornton, his
professional brother, had the same tall, lithe figure with evidence of
great agility, the same mould of countenance in many respects, and with
eyes of hazel only a shade darker than Brand's. But here the resemblance,
which might otherwise have been extraordinary, became slighter and
eventually disappeared. His complexion was much darker, even brown, from
chin to forehead, indicating Southern blood or residence. His hair, curling
a little, was of very dark brown, almost black; and his heavy moustache,
the only beard he wore, was so nearly black as generally to pass under that
designation. In spite of the similarity of form and feature, it may be
imagined that these differences told very strongly on the general effect
produced by the two men on the mere casual observer; and while there was
that indefinable something in the face of Carlton Brand, to which attention
has before been called, denoting intellect and true nobility of soul,
accompanied by an occasional pitiable weakness or want of self-assertion of
the full manhood, there was that quite as plainly to be read in the face of
Henry Thornton, which told of dauntless courage and iron will, a brain busy
and scheming if not even plotting, and powers which might not always be
turned to the service of the candid, the open and the honorable. Lavater
would have thought, looking at his face--Well for him and for the world if
what he wills is in consonance with honor and justice, for what he wills he
will pursue with the unfaltering courage of the lion and the untiring
determination of the sleuth-hound!

But Nature, giving to these two men who held no known relationship
whatever, so striking a resemblance in some particulars and so great a
dissimilarity in others--had not quite ended her freak of comparison. It is
doubtful whether either was fully aware of the fact, but the similarity
between the tones of their voices, in ordinary times, was quite as marked
as that between certain physical features; and any person standing that day
without the door, when the two had entered into conversation, might have
been puzzled to know whether two persons were really speaking or one was
carrying on a monologue. This, only at ordinary times: Thornton's voice was
much steadier and more uniform under feeling, and it never broke into tones
so low and melancholy as that of the other, when influenced by temporary
depression.

Such was Carlton Brand's visitor on that Sunday afternoon, and he it was
who but the moment after was seated in the proffered chair near the window
and chatting upon current topics with as much nonchalance as if he had
merely called upon his entertainer at his little office on Sixth Street,
Philadelphia, instead of visiting him at a hotel in a distant city.

There was a little table standing between the two windows of the room and
within reach of Thornton as he sat. On the table lay part of that
miscellaneous collection of articles which every careless bachelor will
persist in scattering about his room at the hotel; and at the edge of what
may be called the pile lay a paper more than half unfolded, which caught
the observant eye of the visitor. With a quick: "Will you allow me?" which
brought an affirmative response, he reached over, took up the paper,
unfolded it and read a receipt for a first cabin passage in the Cunard Mail
Steamship to sail from New York to Liverpool, on the 8th July, for which
$130.50 had been paid by Mr. Carlton Brand.

"The Cunarder for Liverpool next Wednesday," he said, when he had finished
running his eye over the passage-ticket.

"Yes," answered the owner, and he answered nothing more.

A strange expression passed over the face of his interrogator--an
expression so doubtful that even Lavater, or any other man pretending to
read the human countenance like an open book, might have been puzzled to
say whether it conveyed pleasure, scorn, wonder, or any one of the thousand
different feelings whose outward show glints over our faces as often and as
transiently as the cloud-shadows floating over the mountain woods or the
mottled sunshine flickering over the wheat-fields. There was something
there--something which the other did not appear to notice; and with that
fact we must be content.

Five minutes later, Carlton Brand, through the medium of words growing out
of the discovery of the passage-ticket, was in confidential conversation
with Henry Thornton with reference to the disgrace which had driven him
from home and must make him an exile for years if not forever. It may have
been a serious weakness, towards one who had never been even on terms of
speaking acquaintance with her, to talk to him of Margaret Hayley and to
confess the shameful dismissal which he had received. But Henry Thornton
knew of the Hayleys if he did not claim an acquaintance with them; he had
it in his power to impart information of them and their probable movements
during the summer, which the other might have found difficulty in obtaining
through any other means; and perhaps that knowledge gave some excuse for
reciprocal confidence. At all events that confidence was given, and it
elicited a return of apparently equal candor. Before the separation took
place, at the end of an interview which lasted more than an hour, a strange
bond seemed to have been established and cemented between the two lawyers,
very different from any which official intercourse can often rivet. That
interview, in fact, appeared to have produced marked effects upon both, for
while on the face of Henry Thornton, as he rose to take his farewell, there
was a look of entire satisfaction that could not have been without a
meaning more or less creditable,--there was in the eye of Carlton Brand
less of that troubled expression which had been for days resting there like
a shadow, and he breathed as if a weight had been lifted from his breast.
To one this new satisfaction and lightness of heart may have been no false
presage: to the other, what an omen of unsuspected evil, disaster and
death!

They parted at the door of the lawyer's room, with a much warmer grasp of
the hand than that with which they had met little more than a hour before;
and each held the palm of the other in his for a moment, as those should
do who have however slight a bond in common and between whom the waves of a
whole wide ocean are so soon to roll.

"A pleasant voyage and a happy return!" said the one, on the threshold.

"A pleasant summer to you, wherever you are!" was the reply of the other.

So parted, after that brief meeting, Henry Thornton and Carlton Brand. The
bearer of that latter name, once so honored but now holding so doubtful a
position, left New York by the Cunarder Scotia from Jersey City on
Wednesday the 8th of July, looking his last that evening from the deck of
his steamer, on the dim blue line of the Highlands--a fading speck of that
native land that the fates had ordained he should never see again with his
living eyes! And as at this moment we lose sight of him for the time, to
trace the fortunes of others remaining on this side of the Atlantic, it may
be well to say that his outward voyage must have been a safe and prosperous
one, for there was duly registered as having arrived at Liverpool, on the
twentieth of July, (a date which it may afterwards be important to
remember) "Carlton Brand, Philadelphia."



CHAPTER XI.

     ANOMALIES OF THE WAR FOR THE UNION--THE WATERING-PLACE RUSH
     OF 1863--A WHITE-MOUNTAIN PARTY DISEMBARKING AT
     LITTLETON--WHO FILLED THE CONCORD COACH--THE
     VANDERLYNS--SHODDY ON ITS TRAVELS--MR. BROOKS CUNNINGHAME
     AND HIS FAMILY--"H. T.," AND AN EXCITEMENT.


The War for the Union has been unlike all other great struggles,
throughout, in nearly every characteristic that can be named. Unnatural in
its inception, the rebellion has seemed to have the power of making
unnatural many of the details through which and in spite of which it has
been carried forward--of changing character and subverting all ordinary
conditions. There have been anomalies in the field: still more notable
anomalies in society. Unflinching bravery and stubborn devotion to the
fighting interests of the country have been found blended, in the same man,
with pecuniary dishonesty which seemed capable of pillaging a
death-chamber. The greatest military ability has been found conjoined with
such inactivity and tardiness as to paralyze action and destroy public
patience. Rapidity of movement has been discovered to be wedded to such
Utopian want of understanding or such culpable recklessness as to make
movement not seldom a blunder instead of a stroke of policy. Times which
threatened disaster have brought triumph; and the preparations made to
celebrate a victory have more than once been employed in concealing a
defeat. All things have been mixed in estimation. The Copperhead,
detestable on account of his view of the national duty, has yet compelled
some portion of respect by his real or affected reverence for a perilled
Constitution; the Radical, worthy of all credit for his active spirit and
uncompromising position, has yet deserved contempt for a narrowness of view
which made him almost as dangerous as disloyalty could have done; and the
Conservative, that man of the golden mean, that hope of the nation in many
regards, has bargained for a part of the abuse which he has received from
either extreme, by faulting the active measures of both and offering
meanwhile no active, practical course to supply their stead.

But amid the general anomaly perhaps fashionable (or would-be fashionable)
society, and the world of ease and amusement, have supplied the most
interesting and the most astounding study of all. The status of the
"non-productive classes" is and has been, during most of the struggle,
literally inverted, and the conditions of costly enjoyment have been
changing as rapidly as if we were rioting through a carnival instead of
breasting a rebellion. No nation ever carried on such a war as that waged
by this loyal people; and no nation ever spent so much blood and treasure
in accomplishing the same comparative results. Naturally, in view of the
personal bereavement, it might have been expected that society should be
quiet in its amusements and low-toned in all its conversation: naturally, a
people bleeding at every pecuniary pore for the public good, might have
been expected to diminish personal expenditure and husband those resources
on the holding-out of which so much must eventually depend. Instead of
this, society, with the craped banners and the muffled drums every day
appealing to eye and ear, has grown continually louder in its tone and more
pronounced and even blatant in its mirth; and reckless personal expenditure
has quite kept place with any general waste that the highwaymen or
incapables of government had power to entail. The theatre and the circus
have never before been so full, the opera has never before been so
generally patronized. Babylon could never have rioted more luxuriously on
the very night before its fall, than have the people of our great cities
dined, ridden, danced and bathed themselves in seas of costly music, any
day since the first three months of the rebellion ended.

Summer recreations have perhaps told quite as significant a story as any
other feature, of the inevitable drift of society towards reckless expense
and extravagant display. The summer resorts within the rebel territory may
have grown desolate or deserted--the buildings of the White Sulphur and the
Rockbridge Alum of Virginia may have been left empty or turned into
hospitals, and Old Point may only have been visited for far other purposes
than the meeting of the sea-breeze there in midsummer; but a very different
fate has awaited the favorite hot-weather resorts of the North. Saratoga
and Sharon of the chalybeates; Niagara and Trenton of the cataracts; the
White Mountains, the Cattskills and the Alleghanies, of the high, pure air
and the cloud shadow; Newport, Rockaway, Long Branch and Cape May of the
south-eastern breeze and the salt aroma,--all have been, with the exception
of a few frightened weeks of 1861, more densely filled during the war than
at any former period in the memory of the pleasure-seeker; and wealth and
enjoyment have both run riot there to an extent but little in accordance
with the sack-cloth and ashes which the observant eye saw all the while
lying on the head of the nation itself. All this may have been
inappropriate and a part of it painful; but the result could not well have
been otherwise. Some, with wealth honestly earned and no capacity for the
public service, have needed rest or distraction and there found one or the
other. Habitual idlers and professional students of society, never
available for any other purpose, have naturally, as ever, found there their
best ground of personal study. Young girls have needed the experience, and
managing mammas have quite as sorely needed those fields for matrimonial
campaigns. Invalids have needed their real or supposed opportunity for the
recovery of lost health. Shoddy, grown suddenly rich while remaining
incurably ignorant and vulgar, and finding it no easy task to force its way
into the coveted "society" in the great cities, has eagerly welcomed the
opportunities there afforded for at least learning the rudiments of what is
called gentility, and creeping into that miscellaneous outer circle which
surrounds the charmed inner. Politicians have found it necessary to do, in
such places, that particular portion of the great task of boring,
button-holing, prying and packing which cannot be so well done either at
the primary election or the convention as around the spring or on the
beach--on the piazza of the Ocean House or the United States; and officers
on furlough, who had fought enough for the time or had no intention to
fight at all, have found no places like these for displaying jaunty uniform
and decorated shoulder to the admiring eyes of that sex which descends from
Athena and recognizes the cousinship of Mars. Add to all this the rise of
exchange on Europe and the folly of steamship companies in charging gold
rates for passages abroad, which have together almost checked the summer
exodus to the Old World,--and there is no longer reason to wonder at the
watering-place crowds and the summer gayeties which have made carnival
throughout the loyal States and filled the wallets of enterprizing
landlords.

The year of grace 1863 saw an earlier beginning to the summer hegira than
any other late year had done, as before its close it saw houses
over-crowded, waiters overworked, and cots at a premium, from Casco to
Cresson. The smoke had not yet rolled away from Gettysburgh when "the great
North River travelling-trunk" began its perambulations; and by the middle
of July everybody who was anybody (except a few in the city of New York,
temporarily frightened or hindered by the riots) was gone from the great
cities, and they were given over to the temporary occupancy of those
laboring starlings who could not "get out," and the ever ebbing and flowing
wave of transient visit.

All this as a necessary reminder of the period and a back-ground to the
incidents so soon to follow,--and because the course of narration, at this
juncture, leads us for a time to one of the favorite shrines of American
summer pilgrimage and into the whirl of that literal storm of fashion and
curiosity which eddies and sweeps, all summer long, around the peaks of the
White Mountains--the Alps of Eastern America.

It was a somewhat varied as well as extensive crowd of passengers that
disembarked from the cars of the White Mountain Railroad at Littleton, in
sight of the head-waters of the Connecticut, about five o'clock on
Wednesday afternoon, the 29th of July. The dog-days had begun; New York,
Philadelphia and Boston were steaming furnaces, though partially emptied as
we have before had occasion to notice; and those who had already visited
them during the month, declared that neither Saratoga, the Cattskills, or
even Lake George or Niagara, had the power to impart any coolness to
suffering humanity. The sea-shore or the northern mountains offered the
only alternative; and a very heavy list of passengers had come up that day
by the Norwich and Worcester line from New York, the Boston lines falling
in at Nashua Junction, and the Vermont Central throwing in its
reinforcement at Wells River.

Every portion of the loyal States (and no doubt a portion of the disloyal,
if the truth could have been known!) had seemed to be represented in the
crowd that thronged the platforms while fighting for a mouthful of lunch at
Nashua Junction or crowding in to a hurried dinner at the poor substitute
for the burned Pemigawasset House at Plymouth. There were even half a dozen
resident Europeans--English, Scotch, with one Frenchman who snuffed
continually, and one Spaniard who smoked in season and out of
season--people who had no doubt rushed over to see the "American war," but
very soon found the South too hot for comfort, in one sense or the
other,--among the number destined to add variety to the overfilled
caravanserais of the Franconia and White ranges. A few had dropped away at
Weir's Landing, for a day or two on Lake Winnipiseogee, enticed by the
pleasant loom of Centre Harbor down the bright blue water and the romantic
figure of the Lady of the Lake on the prow of her namesake steamer; and a
few more had left the train at Plymouth for the long coach-ride of thirty
miles through the mountains to the Glen House, or by the southern approach
to the Profile or the Crawford. Two or three stage-loads, too, who had but
one thought in their pilgrimage--Mount Washington,--were bustling in for
the immediate ride from Littleton to the Crawford; but there were still
four heavy stage-loads--not less than forty to fifty persons--going on to
the crowded Profile House that evening.

Some of the occupants of one of those heavy stages, rolling away towards
the Profile, require, for the purposes of this narration, a somewhat closer
view than was probably taken of them by many of their fellow-passengers;
and that view cannot be more appropriately taken than at this moment.

On the back seat of that vehicle sat two ladies, with a troublesome boy of
ten years wedged in between them as if to come the nearest possible to
getting him out of the way. Neither paid the youngster that attention which
would have indicated that he belonged to them or was travelling in their
company; and indeed they had every right as well as every inclination to
wash their hands of his relationship if they could not wash from their
travelling-dresses the marks of his taffy-smeared fingers. The two ladies
were evidently mother and daughter; and at least one person in the coach
had remarked them as they came up from Concord, and seen that their sole
chaperon and protector seemed to be a son of the one and brother of the
other, some eighteen or twenty years of age. As he saw them then and as he
afterwards better knew them, they may be briefly described.

The Vanderlyns were Baltimoreans--the widow and children of a man of large
wealth and considerable distinction, who had died three or four years
before in that city, after having amassed a fortune by property
speculations and subsequently filled more than one responsible office under
the State government. They had the true Southern pride in wealth and
position; and the hand of the daughter had already been sought, however
ineffectually, by scions of the best families in and about the Monumental
city. Let it be added that they belonged, whatever may have been their
pride and arrogance as a family, to the not-too-extensive class of _loyal_
Marylanders,--and then a better title of nobility will have been enrolled
than any that Clayton Vanderlyn's money and former public employments had
power to supply. The widowed mother and her children were among the few
residents below Mason and Dixon's line who had not forgotten the pleasant
summer days of old in the North, when Puritan and Cavalier met as friends
and brothers; and this summer tour, which was to include Saratoga and
Newport before it closed, was a result of the old recollection.

Mrs. Vanderlyn, the mother, seemed forty-five, but was fine-looking and had
evidently been handsome in her youth--with those splendid brown eyes that
must then have sparkled so much more brilliantly than at this period, and
that perfect wealth of chestnut hair, not yet in the least sprinkled with
gray, which must then have been a charm and a glory. Her travelling-dress
was very plain, but of the best materials; and every thing in her
appearance--especially pride of look and action,--spoke of wealth, the
habit of mingling in that indefinable but actual thing, good society, and a
perfect consciousness of what she was and what she possessed. Those who
looked twice upon Mrs. Vanderlyn, with keen eyes, had no difficulty in
deciding that she might be a very pleasant acquaintance for those in her
own "set" and whom she considered her equals,--but that she would be any
thing but a pleasant acquaintance for those whom she despised or with whom
she chanced to fall into feud.

Clara Vanderlyn, the daughter, was a yet more interesting study than her
mother; and it seemed altogether probable that the same observer before
mentioned, and who will be hereafter more particularly introduced, coming
up in the same car from Nashua and again thrown into near proximity in the
coach, had read and was reading that second page of the Vanderlyn genealogy
with peculiar care and attention. She was of middle height; slight, but
well-rounded and evidently elastic in figure, with a clearly cut but very
pleasant face, eyes a shade darker than Mrs. Vanderlyn's, and hair what
that lady's had probably been twenty years before. A wonderful feature,
indeed, was that head of hair--fine, silken, but perfectly massive in
profusion, with more of a tendency to the wave than the curl, and of that
rich golden chestnut or true auburn so seldom seen though so often lauded.
At the first observation, it seemed that Clara Vanderlyn's hair was the
great charm of her presence; but those who had the good fortune to be many
hours in her company, learned that a still stronger and more abiding charm
lay in the affability of her manners, the expression of thorough goodness
in her whole demeanor, and the purity and sweetness of her smile. That face
was certainly worthy of the fixed gaze which had rested upon it quite as
often during the afternoon as delicacy permitted; and it might even have
furnished excuse for glancing at it a moment too long, and planting blushes
on those cheeks that the lip could have no hope of gathering.

The third and youngest of the family, Frank Vanderlyn, did not enter into
the group under observation, as he was at that time on the top of the coach
with half a dozen others, enjoying the cigar which had been impossible in
the passenger-car. But the glimpses caught of him before disembarking, may
suffice to complete the family triad. He seemed a well-grown stripling,
verging upon manhood, with a face distantly reminding the observer of his
sister's, but with darker hair than either Mrs. Vanderlyn or Clara, and
with an expression of settled hauteur upon his well-cut features, which
very much detracted from the charm of a face that would otherwise have been
singularly handsome. He was dressed a little too well for dusty travel, and
wore more wealth in a single diamond in his cravat and a cluster-ring on
the little finger of his right hand, than most young men would have been
either able or willing to devote to such purposes of mere ornament.

This description of the occupants of that singularly-fortunate coach may
have very little interest beyond that of a mere catalogue; yet it must be
continued, for Fate, that grim old auctioneer who sometimes knocks us down
at very low prices and to odd owners, may have some necessity for a
mercantile list of his chattels.

The occupants of the middle seat were three in number, and they could have
furnished any needed information as to the personality of the troublesome
boy with the taffied fingers, who had been wedged between Clara Vanderlyn
and her mother. All of one family--that second triad: Mr. Brooks
Cunninghame, Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame, and Miss Marianna Brooks Cunninghame.
The first, a squat man of fifty-five, with a broad, coarse, beardless face,
bad teeth and bristly gray hair just suffering under its first infliction
of slaty-brown hair-dye. His large hands had been all day cased in kid
gloves, spite of the heat of the weather; and his gray suit, of really fine
material, had a sort of new look, and did not seem to be worn easily. There
was an impression carried about by the man and disseminated at every
movement, that another and a much shabbier suit hung immediately behind his
bed-room door at home, and that in that he would have been easy and
comfortable, while in the fashionable garb he was laboring under a sort of
Sunday-clothes restraint. The second, a stout woman of fifty, with reddish
hair, a coarse pink face, high cheek bones and pert nose, corresponding
well with her lord in conformation, while it wore an expression of dignity
and self-satisfaction to which the countenance of that poor man could not
have made the least pretension. She was only a _little_ overdressed, for
travelling--her bonnet of fine straw too much of a flower-garden for her
years, a heavy gold watch-chain with the watch prominent, a diamond
breastpin flashing hotly, and her voluminous blue lawn of costly fabric
partially covered by a long gray mantle which must have been recommended to
her by some mantua-maker with a "spasm of sense." But if there was any
restraint in the make-up of Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame, that restraint was
fully compensated by the gorgeousness of the general arrangement of Miss
Marianna. That young lady of thirty, with a large mouth, sandy hair, bluish
gray eyes and freckles, a dumpy figure and no eye-brows whatever, was
arrayed--shade of Madame La Modiste forgive us while we pen the
record--arrayed for that hot and dusty day of railroad and coach riding, in
a rich pink silk flounced and braided to the extreme of the current
fashion; with a jockey leghorn and white feather which--well, we may say
with truth that they _relieved_ her face; with a braided mantle of white
merino that might have been originally designed for an opera-cloak; white
kid gloves in a transition state; and such a profusion of gold watch, gold
chain, enamelled bracelet, diamond cluster-breastpin, costly lace, and
other feminine means of attracting admiration and envy, that the brain of a
masculine relator reels among the chaos of finery and he desists in
despair. The fourth of this family was Master Brooks Brooks Cunninghame,
_ætat_ ten, wedged in between the two aristocratic representatives of the
Vanderlyn exclusiveness, and the freckles on his coarse little face and
hands about equally balanced by the dauby debris of more or less hardened
taffy to which allusion has before been unavoidably made.

This group (the fact may as well be set down in this place as at any later
period)--this was Shoddy on its summer tour. Mr. Brooks Cunninghame had
been, a considerable number of years before, Patrick B. Cunningham; and his
name had been scrawled, many hundreds of times, to receipts for work done
as a petty contractor about the streets of New York City, with one horse
and a dirt-cart, digging out cellars, and helping to cart the dirt of
pipe-layings and excavations. Gradually he had crept up to two carts, and
then to three. Eventually he had reached the employing of a dozen or two,
with the bipeds that drove and the quadrupeds that drew them. By that time
he had removed from his shanty of one story and rented a house. Then he had
gone into ward politics and contracts with the city, at about the same
time, and emerged into possession of a couple of brown-stone-front houses
and a seat in the Board of Aldermen, at periods not very far apart. People
said that the seat in the municipal board, with the "ring" performances
(more or less clown-ish) thereunto appertaining, were made the means of
increasing the two houses to four and of causing Mrs. Patrick B. Cunningham
to forget the whole of her husband's first name and merely use the initials
"P. B.," which might or might not stand for 'Pollo Belvidere. Then had come
the war, with that golden opportunity for all who stood prepared for it.
Mr. P. B. Cunningham had been at that time the proprietor of some fifty or
sixty gallant steeds used before dirt-carts, and his vigorous and patriotic
mind had conceived the propriety of aiding the country by disposing of
those mettled chargers as aids towards a first-class cavalry mount. He had
sold, prospered, bought more dirt-cart and stage-horses with an admixture
of those only to be discovered between the thills of clam-wagons, found no
difficulty in passing them as fit for the service, through the kindness of
a friendly inspector who only charged two dollars per head for deciding
favorably on the quadrupeds,--sold and prospered again and yet again. Mr.
P. B. Cunningham had accordingly found himself, three months before the
period of this narration, the lawful proprietor of half a million, acquired
in the most loyal manner and without for one moment wavering in his
connection with either Tammany Hall, through which he managed the
Democrats, or the Loyal League by which he kept in favor with the
Republicans.

So far Mr. P. B. Cunningham had been uninterruptedly successful--the
monarch as well as architect of his own fortune. But at that period (the
three months before) he had suddenly been made aware that every man has his
fate and the end of his career of supremacy. Mrs. P. B. Cunningham had
proved herself his fate and put a sudden end to his supremacy. That lady,
all the while emerging, had emerged, from the dust and darkness of lower
fortune, and become a fashionable butterfly. She had ordered him to buy a
four-story brown-stone front, finer than any that he owned, on one of the
up-town streets not far from _the_ Avenue; and he had obeyed. She had
ordered him to discard his old clothes, and he had obeyed again, though
with a sincere reluctance. She had changed his name to Brooks Cunninghame,
(observe the _e_!) her own to Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame, that of Mary Ann to
Miss Marianna Brooks Cunninghame, and that of the male scion of the house,
_ætat_ ten as aforesaid, to Master Brooks Brooks Cunninghame. The
door-plate of the new house could not be arranged in accordance with the
new programme, for door-plates had been voted vulgar and abandoned by the
_creme de la creme_; but the family cards had been made to bear all the
blushing honors in steel engraving and round-hand. This done, the requisite
jewelry bought, and some other little arrangements perfected which may
develop themselves in due time, the lady had informed Mr. Brooks
Cunninghame that both the health and the dignity of the family required
summer recreation, and dragged him away on that tour of which we have the
privilege of witnessing one of the progresses.

Some reference has been made to the array, rather gorgeous than otherwise,
of Miss Marianna, for dusty travel. A few words which had passed between
the three heads of the family at one of the Boston hotels that morning, may
give a little insight into the philosophy of this arrangement. Mr. Brooks
Cunninghame, yet retaining a little of the common-sense of his dirt-cart
days, had ventured to suggest that "Mary Ann mought wear her commoner duds
to ride in, for thim fineries 'ud be spiled before night wid the dust
intirely;" and Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame, alike indignant at a suggestion so
smacking of low life and grieved to find that her husband would persist in
retaining a few touches of the brogue of which she had cured herself and
her children so triumphantly,--had answered with a sort of verbal two-edged
sword that did fatal execution on both the others:

"Brooks Cunninghame, you'd better keep your mouth shut if you can't open it
without letting out some of that low Irish! One would think you drove a
dirt-cart yit! And you, my dear"--to Marianna (the mother had been "posting
herself" in some of the phrases of "good society," as well as in some other
things which may also yet develop themselves)--"you, my dear, put on the
very best o' them things that you've got! Ain't we rich, I should like to
know? We may see a good many folks to-day, in them cars, and who knows
whether you mightn't lose a beau that'd take a fancy to you, if you went
slouchin' around with your old things on? Dress up, my dear!"

Mr. Brooks Cunninghame had succumbed; Miss Marianna had "dressed up," as
per order; and collective Shoddy was thus far on its way, without accident,
towards the first halting-place in the grand tour of the mountains.

But what of the observer who has more than once before been mentioned, and
who sat in the corner of the front seat, half buried under the voluminous
skirts of two ladies who have nothing whatever to do with this narration,
but looking so steadily (people who have habitually ridden in those Concord
coaches know that the front is another back, and that the occupants of the
front and back seats face each other)--looking so steadily, we say, at
every permissible opportunity, into the sweet face of Clara Vanderlyn? He
was a man of apparently thirty years of age, rather tall and very
vigorous-looking even if slight, with curling dark hair, almost or quite
black, and worn short, the face finely cut and showing no beard except a
close, full moustache of raven blackness, the complexion (brow and all, as
could be noticed when he lifted his hat from his head, as he often did, for
coolness) of such a dark clear brown as to mark him of Southern birth or
blood, clothes of thin dark gray material, with a round tourist hat and a
duster, the small hands gloved in summer silk, and the whole appearance and
manner that of a gentleman, used to good society, and very probably
professional. He had been reading, nearly all the way up from Worcester,
some of the other passengers noticed--though it must be confessed that a
part of his reading had been over the top of the book at that attractive
large type formed by a pretty human face; and no blame is intended to be
cast upon Clara Vanderlyn when we say that that young lady had more than
once met the evidently admiring glance of so fine-looking a man, with the
little tinge of color that was becoming, but without any expression upon
her face or any thought in her mind, resenting any more than returning an
admiration which she believed that she had a right to receive and any
gentleman to pay thus respectfully. He had spoken but seldom, during the
ride, in such a way that any person then present had heard him; but once he
had taken (or _made_) occasion to apologize to Miss Vanderlyn and her
mother for being thrown against their seat by the motion of the car while
walking through it, on the rough road when coming up from Plymouth to Wells
river; and his few words, as the lady remarked, consorted well with the
respectability (to say the least) of his appearance. As to his personality,
which there did not seem the slightest occasion for his wishing to
disguise, there was a big black trunk in the baggage-wagon following behind
the line of coaches, and a small satchel strapped over his shoulder as he
rode; and the first bore the initials "H. T." and the direction
"Cincinnati."

While so much attention has been paid to the occupants of that single
coach, leaving the others and even the noisy passengers on the roof of
this, unnoticed, the vehicles had been buzzing and clattering along over
the table-land lying at the foot of the mountains, past the little hamlet
of Franconia, and nearing the mountains themselves. A glorious July evening
it was, with the fiery air which had been so oppressive below gradually
cooled by the approach to the presence of the monarchs, and the smoke from
the fires in the woods playing fantastic tricks among the peaks, and
compensating for the absence of the clouds which sometimes enveloped them.
Not half the passengers in those four stages had ever seen the mountains
before; and not one, even of those accustomed to such scenery, but felt the
blood beating a little quicker as the mountain road beyond Franconia was
reached, and they began to experience those rapid ascents, and yet more
rapid descents, which accompany thence all the way to the Notch, with grand
old woods overhanging, steep and sheer ravines at the side of the road that
made the head dizzy in looking, reverential glimpses of the awful peaks of
Lafayette and the Cannon frowning ahead, and of Washington, grander still,
towering far away over the White range, and with all the other
accompaniments of the finest mountain scenery on the Atlantic coast of the
American continent. There was quite enough, indeed, to engage the attention
of any except the most blasé and ennuyée traveller, in the grandeur of the
scenery and the excitement of being galloped in rocking, lumbering,
four-horse coaches, down declivities of road which would have made a driver
in any ordinary hill-country draw tight rein and creep down with a heavy
foot on the brake.

Not a few nervous passengers, first or last, dashing up and down the slopes
of the White Mountain roads, have been more or less frightened, and wished
that they could be once more on terra firma without incurring the penalty
of a laugh at their cowardice; and in the present instance this little bit
of locomotion was not to be allowed to pass without an adventure.

Half an hour from the foot of the mountain the coach went rapidly up a
sharp ascent in the road, then dashed down again at full gallop, striking
one of those necessary nuisances known as "breakwaters" when a few yards
from the top, with a shock that sent the coach-body leaping on its leathern
jacks like a yawl-boat in a heavy surf, made some of the outsiders on the
top shout and hold on merrily to keep from being whirled off into one of
the side-ravines, and created such a state of affairs inside the vehicle,
generally, as effectually broke up the monotony. That shock drove the head
of Mrs. Vanderlyn back against the leathern cushions with a force seriously
damaging to the crown of her bonnet, brought a slight scream from Clara,
who was frightened for the instant, made the troublesome Master Brooks
Brooks yell and dash a dirty hand into the dress of each of the ladies who
had the honor of the same seat, and elicited from Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame
and her husband one of those brief but very significant marital displays
which were no doubt afterwards to edify so many. Whether the lady had
ascertained that fashionable people must always fall and faint under any
sudden excitement, or whether the shock really frightened as well as
unseated her, is a matter of no consequence: certain it is that she at that
juncture threw up her hands and rolled up her eyes, gave one scream that
degenerated into a groan, rolled from her seat and subsided into the bottom
of the coach, under the feet of "H. T.," in what seemed to be a fit of some
description. Miss Marianna, really alarmed, with the affectionate if not
classic words, "Oh, mammy!" made a grab at that lady, clutching the back of
her hat and tearing it from the head it crowned, while Master Brooks Brooks
changed his yell into a howl and Mr. Brooks Cunninghame stooped down,
terror in his face and his hands feeling around at the bottom of the
vehicle for any portion of what had been his wife, with the affectionate
but not politic inquiry: "Is it kilt ye are, Bridget?"

Not politic?--no, certainly not! A stronger word might be applied without
risk to the unfortunate expression. Among the changes in family polity not
before indicated, had been an indignant throwing over of her very honest
name of "Bridget" by the wife of the horse-contractor, and the adoption of
"Julia" in its stead. More than one curtain-lecture had poor Mr. Brooks
Cunninghame endured, before leaving New York, on the necessity of avoiding
any blunder in that regard, when they should be "away from home"; and he
had not escaped without severe drill and many promises of perfection in his
part. And now to have forgotten the adopted "Julia" and used the tell-tale
"Bridget" at the very moment of the family's entering upon their first
essay in fashionable watering-place life, was really a little too much for
patience not entirely angelic.

Both the poets and the romancers tell of cases in which some word of
heart-broken affection, uttered at the instant when the death-film was
stealing over the eyes of the beloved one, has had power to strike the
dulled sense and call back for a moment the fleeting life when it had
escaped far beyond the reach of any other sound. Something of the same
character--not quite so romantic, perhaps, but quite as real,--was
developed in the present instance. The woman may have been falling into an
actual faint; but if so, that offensive word pierced through the gathering
mists of insensibility, and she crawled out from the entanglement of legs
before any effectual aid could be afforded her, and with such a look of
contempt and hatred burning full upon her unfortunate husband that he must
have felt for the moment as if placed directly under the lens of a
sun-glass at focus. Mr. Brooks Cunninghame shrank into his number eleven
patent-leathers, and Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame "swatted" herself (there is no
other word in or out of the language that will quite so well express the
act) down on the seat with an air that implied a wish for some one's head
being beneath her at that juncture. Her glance had not at all softened, nor
had "H. T." ceased looking out of the window or Clara Vanderlyn (behind
her) yet taken her handkerchief from her mouth, when the female Cunninghame
said, in what she thought very honeyed accents:

"Mr. Brooks Cunninghame, I wish you would find some other time to go and
call me nicknames, than when I am jolted out of my seat in that way and
a'most dead!"

The stroke of policy was a fine one, and even the thick head of Mr. Brooks
Cunninghame recognized the necessity of following it up--an act which he
performed thus gracefully and with a look intended for one of the staring
ladies on the front seat:

"Yes, mim, her name isn't Bridget at all at all, but Julia. It's only a bit
of a way I have of jokin' wid her, mim!"

This was satisfactory, of course--absolutely conclusive; and so Mrs. Brooks
Cunninghame grew mollified by degrees; the redness which had come into the
face of Miss Marianna gradually faded out; Master Brooks Brooks Cunninghame
took occasion to manifest his filial fondness by reaching over and hugging
his mother with hands just re-coated with candy dug out of his capacious
pocket; and the Concord coach, with its consorts, rolled and jolted and
swayed along, up and down the mountain road to its destination.



CHAPTER XII.

     LANDING AT THE PROFILE HOUSE--HALSTEAD ROWAN AND
     GYMNASTICS--HOW THAT PERSON SAW CLARA VANDERLYN AND BECAME A
     RIVAL OF "H. T."--THE FULL MOON IN THE NOTCH--TRODDEN TOES,
     A NAME, A VOICE, AND A RENCONTRE--MARGARET HAYLEY AND CAPT.
     HECTOR COLES--THE OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN BY MOONLIGHT, AND
     A MYSTERY.


Spite of the sometimes rapid speed, the toil up the mountain had been long
and tedious; and dusk was very nearly falling and the chill of the coming
evening was sufficient to induce the drawing close of mantles and wrappers
that only two hours before had been reckoned an incumbrance,--when the
coaches with their loads broke out from the overhanging woods on a steep
down-grade, the passengers caught a glimpse of Echo Lake lying like a sheet
of molten silver under the evening calm, and the whole cortege swept down
at a gallop and with cracking of whips, to the broad, level plateau lying
before the Profile House in the Franconia Notch.

Two of the coaches had been in advance of that to which the attention of
the reader has been particularly directed, and still other coaches had just
come in from Plymouth, the Glen and the Crawford; so that when they drew up
to alight the long piazza of the Profile was filled with sojourners
satisfying their curiosity or looking out for fresh arrivals; and coachmen,
servants and every employee of the establishment, were busy hauling down
from the racks and boots where they had been stowed, immense piles of
trunks, valises and every description of baggage that had not been
entrusted to the van yet lumbering behind. Landlord Taft and superintendent
Jennings were alert and busy; old comers were curious as to the number and
nature of new arrivals; new comers were glancing momentarily at the
glorious scenery and anxiously inquiring every thing of everybody who knew
no more of the things inquired about than did the askers themselves. All
was charming bustle--delightful confusion: one of those peculiar scenes
connected with summer travel and watering-place life, which furnish the
very best of opportunities for study to the quiet observer.

The coach door had been opened and all the inside passengers handed out,
before the merry party from the roof made any attempt at getting down. Peal
after peal of hearty laughter went up from that outside division of the
vehicle; and evidently the party there assembled had reached the Profile
before achieving the end of the jests and story-telling in which they had
been engaged. They had already attracted some attention from the piazza,
and one boarding-school miss had been appealed to by her eye-glassed swain
in attendance, to "heah those awful vulgah fellahs!"--when the laughter
ceased, and one of the roof-passengers made a sudden spring from that
elevation, over the heads of half a dozen of those standing on the ground,
and came safely to his feet with a jerk which would have laid up a less
perfect physical man for a week and completely shaken out the false teeth
from the mouth of any victim of a dentist.

The rapid man was followed by his companions, Frank Vanderlyn included
among the number; but they all seemed to choose the more popular mode of
getting down, by the aid of steps and braces.

"Pretty well done, Rowan!" exclaimed one of the others as he himself
reached the ground. "Broke any thing?"

"No, nothing--except," and at that moment his eye caught the forms and
faces of Miss Clara Vanderlyn and her mother, who were standing at the
edge of the piazza, waiting while Frank descended and made some arrangement
for the disposition of their baggage. "H. T.," of the coach-load, was
standing within a few feet of them, his little satchel still strapped over
his shoulder and his eyes scarcely wandering at all from the woman whom
they had scanned so long and well during the journey by rail. But he had
glanced around, with the others, at the noise made by the singular descent;
and his eye met that of the man who had been called Rowan, as the latter
made the discovery of mother and daughter. It was but a lightning flash
that Rowan gave or the stranger detected, but few glances of any human eye
have ever expressed more within the same period. He evidently saw the young
girl for the first time, at that moment; and quite as evidently he drank in
at that one glimpse the full charm of her beauty and goodness. That was not
all: in the one glance, too, he apparently measured her wealth and social
position--saw and reckoned up the proud woman standing beside her--then
took, it is probable, an introspective view of himself and his own
surroundings, and found time to realize the utter hopelessness of that
impulse which for the tithe of a moment he must have felt stirring within
him.

Perhaps half-a-dozen seconds had elapsed before he concluded the answer he
had begun. "No, nothing--except--my heart!" He had begun to speak in a
light, gay, off-hand manner: he concluded in a low, sad voice, full alike
of music and melancholy.

"H. T." had been observing him very closely during that brief space of
time, as had nearly all the other spectators, their notice attracted by his
reckless mode of alighting. He was apparently about thirty years of age, a
little less than six feet high--perhaps five feet eleven; with a form
undeniably stout, but rounded like a reed and as elastic as whalebone. His
hands were soft and womanish in their contour, though they were rather
large, nut-brown in color, and had evidently felt, as had his face, the
meridian sun. His feet were almost singularly small for so large a
man--highly arched and springy. His face and head, as he the moment after
removed his hat, were capable of attracting attention in any company. The
face was a little broad and heavily moulded; the cheek-bones prominent and
the nose slightly aquiline; the eyes dark, dreamy and lazy; the brow fair,
and above it clustering dark, short, soft hair, curled, but so delicate in
texture that it waved like silk floss with the veriest breath. The mouth
would have been, the observer might have thought, heavy and a little
sensual, had it not been hidden away by the thick and curling dark
moustache which he wore without other beard. Only one other feature need be
named--a chin rather broad and square and showing a very slight depression
of the bone in the centre--such as has marked a singular description of men
for many an hundred years. It needed a second glance to see that a broad,
heavy scar, thoroughly healed, commenced at the left cheek-bone and
traversed below the ear until lost in the thick hair at the base of the
neck. Such was the picture this man presented--a contradictory one in some
respects, but evidencing great strength, power and agility, and yet more
than a suspicion of intellectuality and refinement. A close and habitual
observer of men does not often err in "placing" one whom he may happen to
meet, even at first sight,--after a few seconds of careful examination; but
the keenest might have been puzzled to decide what was that man's station
in life, his profession, or even his character. Any one must have been in
the main favorably impressed: beyond that point little could possibly have
been imagined by the most daring.

A small black trunk came off the top of the coach at about the time that
"H. T.," who seemed to be bargaining for a rival at that early period, had
concluded his inspection; and there was not much difficulty in connecting
the name and address painted in white on the end with the appellation by
which the stranger had the moment before been designated. That name and
address read: "Halstead Rowan, Chicago, Illinois."

Two men appeared to be travelling in company with Rowan; one a man of
something beyond his own age--the other five or six years younger; both
respectable but by no means affluent in appearance. All were well dressed
and gentlemanly in aspect; but neither Rowan nor either of his companions
gave the impression of what might be designated as the "first circles of
society," even in the great grain-metropolis of the West.

"H. T.," the observer, had fixed his eyes so closely on the male party in
that singular meeting, that he probably lost the answering expression of
the lady's face and did not know whether or not she had returned that
glance of wondering interest. Something like disappointment at that lost
opportunity may have been the cause of his biting his lip a little
nervously as he took his way, with the rest of the new-comers, into the
hall and reception-room, waiting opportunity for the booking of names and
the assignment of chambers. Some of those in waiting no doubt found the
tedium materially diminished by finding themselves, in the reception-room,
at that close of a blazing day of July, standing or sitting with a
decidedly grateful feeling before a quarter-of-a-cord of birchen wood,
blazing away in the open fire-place with that peculiar warmth and hearty
geniality so little known to this coal-burning age, but so well remembered
by those who knew the old baronial halls of republican America in a time
long passed away.

Not many minutes after the rencontre that has been described, the crowd had
vanished from the piazza of the Profile House, the coaches had driven away,
the baggage was being rapidly removed within doors, and the tired and
hungry new-comers were booked for rooms and clearing away the soil and dust
of travel, preparatory to supper. Soon the crockery and cutlery jingled in
the long dining-room, and the flaky tea-biscuits steamed for those who
hurried down to catch them in their full perfection.

It was a desultory supper and a somewhat hurried one, for the moonrise was
coming--that rise of the full moon which so many had promised themselves,
and for which, indeed, not a few of the arrivals of that evening had timed
their visit to the mountains. Then, hunger has but little curiosity, and
surveys and recognitions were both waited for until the broader light and
greater leisure of the morning; and probably of the dozens of old residents
(a week is "old residence" at a watering-place, be it remembered, and a
fortnight confers all the privileges of the habitue)--probably of the
dozens of old residents and new-comers who had acquaintances among the
opposite class, not two found time or thought for seeking out familiar
faces during that period when the sharpened appetite was so notably in the
ascendant.

"The moonlight is coming: come out, all of you who care more for scenery
than stuffing!" said a high, shrill voice, after a time had elapsed which
would scarcely have begun the meal under ordinary circumstances. It was an
elderly man with white hair and white side-whiskers, an old habitue of the
house and therefore a privileged character, who spoke, pulling out his
watch and at once rising from his seat. He was followed by more than half
those at table, and would have been followed especially by Mrs. Brooks
Cunninghame, who had somewhere learned that fashion and a rage for
moonlight had a mysterious connection,--but for the insatiable hunger of
Mr. Brooks Cunninghame himself, who was engaged in mortal combat with a
formidable piece of steak and a whole pile of biscuits, and who outraged
Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame by declaring, sotto voce, that "he'd be
something-or-othered if he'd lave his supper until he was done, for any
moonlight or other something-or-othered thing in the wurruld!"--and the
obstreperousness of Master Brooks Brooks Cunninghame, who was up to his
eyes in three kinds of preserves and bade fair to stick permanently fast to
the table through the agency of those glutinous compounds.

Out on the piazza and the broad plateau in front of it, the visitors at the
Profile gathered, to see what is not often vouchsafed to the most devoted
of nature-lovers--the rising of the full moon in the mountains. Those who
are familiar with the Franconia Notch well know how the mountains around
the Profile always seem to draw closer after sunset, and how the frowning
cliffs seem to form insurmountable barriers between them and the outer
world, making it doubtful to the bewildered thought whether there is indeed
any egress from that cool paradise of summer--whether or not they can ride
away at will and look again upon green fields and flashing streams and the
faces of those they love. And they well know that moonrise there, over
those encircling cliffs, is not the moonrise of the lower country, with the
orb throwing its broad beams of light at once wide over the world, but an
actual peeping down from heaven of a fair and genial spirit that deigns for
the time to pour welcome radiance into an abode of solitude and darkness.
The spectacle, then, is one to be sought and remembered; and as storms
habitually beat around those mountain tops and fog and mist quite divide
the time with fair weather in the valleys, the tourist is mad or
emotionless who allows the cloudless full moon to come up without catching
its smile on cheek and brow.

The intense blue of the eastern sky was already gone when the anxious
groups clustered in front of the great white caravanserai, and the stars
began to glimmer paler in that direction. There was not a fleck of cloud,
not a shadow of mist, to prevent the rounded orb, when it came up, flooding
the whole gorge with the purest of liquid silver. The winds were still as
if they waited with finger on lip for the pageant; and the shrill scream of
a young eagle that broke out for an instant from one of the eyries under
the brow of Eagle Cliff and then died trembling away down the valley,
seemed like profanation. Conversation was hushed, among all that varying
and even discordant crowd, as if there might be power in a profane word to
check the wheeling of the courses of nature. The orient began to be flushed
with that trembling light, and glints of it touched the dark pines on the
brow of the cliff, a mile away. Then that light beyond the cliffs deepened
and the dark pines grew still darker as fully relieved against it. Then at
last, as they watched with hushed breath, a rim of silver seemed suddenly
to have been set as an arch on the very brow of the mountain, and slowly
the full orb rolled into view. As it heaved up, a broad, full circle of
glittering and apparently dripping silver, it threw out the trees on the
brow of the mountain into such bold relief as if a lightning flash had
literally been burning behind them. There was one giant old pine, no doubt
an hundred feet in height, so far away on the bold crest of Eagle Cliff
that it seemed to be only a toy tree of three inches; and this was thrown
against the very centre of the moon, every gnarled limb and pendant branch
as plain to the eye as if it hung within a stone's throw, a dead pigmy of
the same family shooting up its ragged point not far distant, and a tangled
wilderness of broken trees and scraggy branches filling the remainder of
the circle. Then, the moment after, the moon heaved slowly up beyond the
trees, they fell back into darkness, and the broad glow streamed full into
the faces of the gazers and flooded the whole valley with light. The great
spectacle of the month had been exhibited to hundreds of admiring eyes, and
the full moon of July shed its broad glory like a blessing upon the
Franconia.

It was at the moment when the pageant was just concluding and exclamations
of pleasure breaking from a hundred lips, that "H. T." (who has not as yet
furnished us data for any fuller revelation of his name), standing at some
distance out on the plateau from the piazza, and stepping suddenly backward
to observe a particular effect of the light among the trees on the cliff,
trod upon the foot of a lady immediately behind him and nearly overthrew
her. He turned immediately, with a word of apology, at the same time that a
gentleman near her, who seemed to be in her immediate company, sprang to
prevent her possible fall, venting meanwhile on the presumed awkwardness
of the aggressor a word of ill-disguised petulance:--

"You should be a little more careful, sir, I think, how you step upon
ladies' feet and risk hurting them seriously."

"I beg a thousand pardons!" was the reply. "Certainly I did not know that
there was a lady immediately behind me, and--"

The lady gave a sudden start, caught a quick glance at the speaker, and
then recovered her equanimity so suddenly that perhaps not two of all the
company observed the momentary agitation; while the gentleman interrupted
the attempted apology, not too politely, with--

"Is your foot much injured, Miss Hayley?"

The answer made by the lady was in the negative, and in a tone that, though
it trembled a little, proved her less petulant than her companion. But it
is possible that "H. T.," as he has been known, did not pay that answer any
attention whatever. As he turned he must certainly have seen the lady more
or less distinctly in the moonlight, and yet had manifested no surprise at
what he saw; but when the name was mentioned he gave a start that must have
been noticeable by any acute observer. Had he really not noticed her before
his attention was called by the mention of the name? or was the face one
which he did not recognize while the name bore a talisman that commanded
all his interest? Certain it is that he saw the lady now, distinctly; and
equally certain is it that the face was the same which has met the gaze of
the reader, a month before, on the piazza of the house at West
Philadelphia.

Margaret Hayley, in very truth, dressed so darkly that at the first glance
her attire might almost have been taken for black, and with not even one
ornament to sparkle in the moonbeams, while that peculiarity of her raiment
was made more notable by a light summer scarf or "cloud," of white berlin,
thrown over her head to guard it from the night air, in a fashion somewhat
oriental. Her proud, statuesque figure rose erect as ever; and the same
stately perfection of womanhood looked out from her dark eyes and beamed
upon her pure, high brow, that had shone there before the falling of that
blow which had so truly been the turning point of her life. The cheek may
have been a shade thinner than a month before; and there may have been a
shadow under the eyes, too marked for her heyday of youth and health; but
if so the moonlight was not enough of a tell-tale to make the revelation.

The gentleman who had so promptly attended to the comfort of Margaret
Hayley, and who did not seem averse to picking up a quarrel on her behalf,
was dark haired and dark bearded, round-faced and rather fine-looking than
otherwise, a little above the middle height, and wearing the uniform of a
Captain on staff service. So much the eye of "H. T." took in at once, and
he seemed to keep his attention somewhat anxiously on the two as the moment
after they turned away and walked back towards the piazza, as if he would
gladly have caught some additional word conveying a knowledge of the
officer's personality. Nothing more was said, however, that could afford
such a clue if one he really desired; and but a little time had elapsed
when another subject of excitement arose, calculated to interest many of
the hundreds who had already become partially drunk with the glory of the
moonlight.

"The moon is high enough, now: let us see how the Old Man of the Mountain
looks when his face is silvered!" said some one in the crowd; and the happy
suggestion was at once acted upon. There were quite enough old habitues
present to supply guides and chaperons for the new-comers; and in a moment
fifty or more of the visitors went trooping away down the white sandy road
through the glen and under the sweeping branches among which the moonbeams
peeped and played so coquettishly.

Two or three windings of the road, two or three slight ascents and descents
in elevation; some one said: "Here is the best view;" and the whole
company paused in their scattering march. A sudden break, opening upon a
dark quiet little lake or tarn, was to be seen through the trees to the
right; and a quarter of a mile away, hanging sheer over the gulf of more
than two thousand feet sweeping down towards the foot of the Cannon--there,
with the massive iron face staring full into the moonlight that touched
nose and cheek and brow with so strange and doubtful a light that the
unpractised eye could not trace the outlines, while the accustomed could
see them almost as plainly as in the sunlight--there loomed the awful
countenance of the Old Man of the Mountain. Some there were in that
company, familiar with every changing phase of that most marvellous freak
of nature, who thought that grand as it had before seemed to them when the
sun was high in the heavens and the dark outline relieved against the
bright western sky, it was yet grander then, in the still, doubtful, solemn
moonlight.

Among those who had gone down to the edge of the little Old Man's Mirror
for this view, were two of the sterner sex who happened to be without
ladies under charge and to be separated from any other company. Directly,
walking near each other, they fell together and exchanged casual remarks on
the beauty of the night and the peculiarities of different points of
scenery. They were the two who had first seen each other at the moment of
alighting at the Profile little more than an hour before--"H. T." of the
initials and the lady's smashed foot, and Halstead Rowan of the gymnastic
spring from the coach-top. The first glance had told to each that there was
something of mark in the other; and under the peculiar circumstances of
that night they drifted together, without introduction except such as each
could furnish for himself, but not likely to separate again without a much
more intimate acquaintance,--just as many other waifs and fragments,
floating down the great stream of life, have been thrown into what seemed
accidental collision by a chance eddy, and yet never separated again until
each had exercised upon the other an influence materially controlling the
whole after course of destiny.

Eventually the two, both rapid walkers, had gone faster than the rest and
become the leaders of the impromptu procession to the shrine of the Old
Man, so that when the halt was called they were standing together and apart
from the others, forty or fifty feet further down the glen and where they
had perhaps a yet better view of the profile than any of the company. Both
were dear lovers of nature, if the word "reverent" could not indeed be
added to the appreciation of both; and standing together there, even in
silence, the intuitive knowledge of the inner life of each seemed to bring
them more closely together than introductions and a better knowledge of
antecedents could possibly have done. Then the crowd tired of gazing and
moved back towards the house, leaving the two standing together and
probably supposing themselves alone. They were not alone, in fact; for
under the shadow of the trees to the left, half way between the spot where
the new friends were standing and that which had been occupied by the body
of the visitors, were three persons continuing the same lingering gaze.
These were the officer and two ladies who each found the support of an
arm--Margaret Hayley and her mother, the latter of whom, it would thus
seem, was also at the Profile under the escort of the military gentleman.
Unobserved themselves, they had the two men in full moonlight below and
could see them almost as well as in the broader light of day.

"Who are they, Captain Coles? Anybody we know?" asked the elder lady,
speaking so low that the sound did not creep down to the two gazers.

"Both new-comers, I think," answered the military gentleman. "Yes, they
both came in to-night; and one of them, Margaret, is the booby who stepped
on your foot a little while ago, and whom I shall yet take occasion to kick
before he leaves the mountains if he does not learn to keep out of people's
way."

"I beg you will not allow yourself to get into difficulty on account of
that trifling accident, and for me!" answered Margaret Hayley, while
something very like a shudder, not at all warranted by the words, and that
the Captain was not keen enough to perceive, swept through her form and
even trembled the arm that rested within his.

"Difficulty? oh, no difficulty, to me, you know; and for you, Margaret,
more willingly than any other person in the world, of course!" and Captain
Hector Coles, confident that he had expressed himself rather felicitously,
thought it a good time to bow around to Miss Hayley, and did so.

"You are quite right, Captain Hector Coles," said Mrs. Burton Hayley. "Low
people, who do not even know how to walk without running over others,
should be kept at their proper distance; and of course gentlemen and
soldiers like yourself find it not only a duty but a privilege to afford to
us ladies that protection."

This time Captain Hector Coles, immensely flattered, bowed round on the
other side, to the elder lady.

"Hark!" said Margaret Hayley, in a louder voice than either had before
used, and a voice that had a perceptible tremor in it like that of fright.

"What did you hear?" asked the Captain.

"Listen--I want to hear what that man was saying."

"H. T." was speaking, just below.

"No, I have never been here before," he said. "Strangely enough, some of
the greatest curiosities of the continent are neglected by just such fools
as myself, until too old or too busy or too careworn to enjoy them."

"You speak like a jolly old grandfather, and yet you are scarcely as old as
myself," answered the rich, sonorous voice of Halstead Rowan. "Well, that
is _your_ business. The White Mountains are no novelty to me, or any other
mountains, I believe, North of the Isthmus."

"Is there any thing finer than this, at this moment, among them all?"

"No, and I doubt if there is any thing finer on earth!" was the
enthusiastic reply. "And by the way, even _I_ have not happened to see the
full moon on the face of the Old Man, before. It is a magnificent sight--a
new sensation."

"How long has it stood so, I wonder? Since creation?" said the voice of "H.
T.," "or did the Flood hurl those masses of stone into so unaccountable an
accidental position?"

"Haven't the most remote idea!" answered Rowan, gayly. "I have often
thought of it, though, when looking at the marvel in the sunlight. But I
have never been able to get any farther back than the idea how the winds
must have howled and the rains beaten around that immobile face, age after
age, while whole generations of the men after whom the face is apparently
copied as a mockery, have been catching cold and dying from a mere puff of
air on the head or a pair of wet feet."

"The eternal--the immovable!" said "H. T.," his voice so solemn and
impressive that it was evident his words were only a faint representation
of the inner feeling.

"I know one thing that it has been, without a doubt," said Rowan. "When the
whole country was filled with Indians of a somewhat nobler character than
the miserable wretches that alternately beg and murder on the Western
plains, there is not much question that they must have worshipped it as the
face of the Great Manitou, looking down upon them in anger or in love, as
the storm-cloud swept around it or the summer sun tinted it with an iron
smile."

Halstead Rowan was speaking unconscious poetry, as many another man of his
disposition has done, while those who sought to make it a trade have been
hammering their dull brains and spoiling much good paper in the mere
stringing of rhymes bearing the same relation to poetry that an onion does
to the bulb of a tulip! Whether his companion caught the tone from him and
merely elaborated it into another utterance, or whether he possessed the
fire within himself and this rencontre was only the means of bringing out
the spark, is something not now to be decided. But he spoke words that not
only made the other turn and gaze upon him for a moment with astonishment,
but moved the three unseen auditors with feelings which neither could very
well analyze. His dark face, tinted by the moonlight as the stony brow of
the mountain was itself touched and hallowed, seemed rapt as those of the
seers of old are sometimes said to have been; and his voice was strangely
sweet and melodious:

"To me, just now," he said, "that iron face is assuming a new shape."

"The deuce it is!" answered Rowan. "Where?"

"'In my mind's eye, Horatio!'" quoted the speaker, and the other seemed to
understand something of his mood. "Do you know that face may be nothing
more than sixty feet of strangely-shaped stone, to others; but to me, at
this moment, it is the Spirit of the North looking sadly down over our
fields of conflict and saying words that I almost hear. Listen, and see if
you do not hear them, too!"

How strangely earnestness sometimes impresses us, even when little else
than madness is the motive power! Halstead Rowan, by no means a man to be
easily moulded to the fancies of any other, found himself insensibly
turning his ear towards the Sphynx, as if it was indeed speaking through
the still night air!

"'I am the Soul of the Nation,'" the singular voice went on, speaking as if
for the lips of stone. "'Storms have raved around my forehead and thunders
have shaken my base, but nothing has moved me! Scarred I may have been by
the lightning and discolored by the beating rain, but the hand of man
cannot touch me, and even the elements can disturb me not. I have seen ten
thousand storms, and not one but was followed by the bright sunshine,
because Nature was ever true to itself. Be but true to yourselves, loyal
men of the great American Union, and the nation you love shall yet be
throned above the reach of treason as I am throned above the touch of
man--unapproachable in its power as I am fearful in my eternal isolation!'"

Halstead Rowan had ceased looking at the Sphynx and gazed only at its
oracle, long before the strange rhapsody concluded; and Margaret Hayley,
supported upon the arm of Captain Hector Coles, had more than once
shuddered, and at last leaned so heavily upon that arm as to indicate that
she must be suddenly ill. To the startled inquiry of the Captain as to the
cause of her trembling, she replied in words that indicated her feeling to
have been excited by the strangely-patriotic words, and by a request to be
taken back at once to the Profile. That request was immediately heeded, and
the three passed on up the road, where all the other company had some time
preceded them.

But one expression more fell from the lips of the strange man, as the three
moved away, and Margaret Hayley heard it.

"Why, you must be a poet!" said the Illinoisan, when his companion had
concluded the rhapsody.

"No, I am only a lawyer, and you must not take all that we say for gospel,
or even for poetry!" was the reply. "Come, let us go back to the house and
imagine that we have had enough of moonlight."

The two followed up the road at once and overtook the three but a moment
after. As they passed, "H. T." recognized first the shoulder-straps of the
officer, and then the figure of the lady upon his left arm. Turning to see
her face more closely, his own was for a moment under the full glare of the
moon, and Margaret Hayley had a fair opportunity to observe every feature.
Shaded as were her own eyes, their direction could not be distinguished;
but they really scanned the face before them with even painful earnestness,
a low, intense sigh of disappointment and unhappiness escaping her when the
inspection had ended. She walked back with Captain Coles and her mother to
the door of the Profile, and left them in conversation on the moonlit
piazza, escaping up-stairs to her own room and not leaving it again during
the evening. What may have been her thoughts and feelings can only be
divined from one expression which fell from her lips as she closed the door
of her chamber and dropped unnerved upon a chair at the table:

"Who can that man be? His voice, and yet not his voice! A shadow of his
face, and yet no more like his face than like mine! Am I haunted, or has
this trouble turned my brain and am I going mad? Another such evening would
kill me, I think!"

There was the sound of horn and harp and violin ringing through the long
corridors of the Profile that evening; and many of those who had shared in
the glory of the moonrise and the solemn levee of the Old Man of the
Mountain were joining in the dance that went on in that parlor which
appeared large enough for the drill evolutions of an entire regiment. But
few of the new-comers joined the revel for that evening; most of them,
fatigued at once with travel and excitement, crept away to early beds in
order to refresh themselves against the morning; and nothing remained, of
any interest to the progress of this narration, except Captain Hector Coles
walking up and down the long piazza for more than an hour after Margaret
Hayley had retired, his boot-heels ringing upon the planks with a somewhat
ostentatious affectation of the military step, Mrs. Burton Hayley meanwhile
leaning upon his arm, and the two holding in tones so low that no passer-by
could catch them, a conversation which seemed to be peculiarly earnest and
confidential.

Yet there was still one occurrence of that night which cannot be passed
over without serious injury to the character of this record for strict
veracity. Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame, during a large part of the night, was in
serious trouble which required the full exercise of her maternal
vigilance--while Miss Marianna, deserted by her father who had
surreptitiously smoked a short pipe in the edge of the woods and thence
gone to bed and to sleep, wandered disconsolately round the parlor,
dressed in more costly frippery than would have sufficed to establish two
mantua-makers, unintroduced to any one, stared at with the naked eye and
through eye-glasses, her freckles complimented in an undertone that she
could not avoid hearing, the name of her dress-maker facetiously inquired
after, and the poor girl, made miserable by being dragged by her silly
parents to precisely the spot of all the world where she least belonged,
suffering such torments as should only be inflicted upon the most
unrepentant criminal.

But the peculiar trouble of Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame has not as yet been
explained, and it must be so disposed of in a few words. Ill health, on the
plea of which she had started on her "summer tour," had really attacked her
interesting family, or at least one highly-important member of it. Master
Brooks Brooks Cunninghame, naturally a little sharp set after his long ride
and accustomed to regard any supper with "goodies" on the table as
something to be clung to until the buttons of his small waistband could
endure no farther pressure--Master Brooks Brooks Cunninghame, as has
already been mentioned, had remained at the table a little beyond the
bounds of strict prudence. In other words, he had devoured beef-steak and
fruits, fish and milk, biscuits and pickles, tea, pickled oysters and
sweetmeats, until even his digestive pack-horse was overloaded. Very soon
after supper he had petitioned to be taken to bed, and then unpleasant if
not serious symptoms had been no long time in supervening. During a large
part of the night there were a couple of chambermaids running to and from
that part of the building, with hot water, brandy, laudanum, foot-baths and
other appliances for suffering small humanity; while Master Brooks Brooks
kept doubling himself up in all imaginable attitudes and crying: "Oh,
mommy!" in a manner calculated to wring the heart of that motherly
person,--to make Mr. Brooks Cunninghame, who wished to sleep, growl out
some reasonably-coarse oaths between his clenched teeth,--and to induce
wonder on the part of people who had occasion to pass the front of the
building or come out on the piazza, whether they did or did not keep a
small menagerie of young bears, wolves and wild-cats in full blast on the
second floor.



CHAPTER XIII.

     MISS CLARA VANDERLYN AND HER PET BEARS--A MISADVENTURE AND A
     FRIENDLY HAND IN TIME--THE QUESTION OF COURAGE--HALSTEAD
     ROWAN AND MRS. BROOKS CUNNINGHAME ON GEOGRAPHY--THE DEAD
     WASHINGTON, THE FLUME AND THE POOL--WITH THE PERSONAL
     RELATIONS WEAVING AT THAT JUNCTURE.


Breakfast was over at the Profile, on the next morning; the stages had
rolled away for Littleton, the Crawford and Plymouth; and preparations were
in progress for a ride of two or three wagon-loads down the glen to the
Flume,--when "H. T.," cigar in mouth, passed out from the bar-room to the
piazza and thence across the plateau in front, towards the billiard-room
and ten-pin-alley, standing a hundred yards away to the right, and at the
very bottom of the slope of the mountain. He had seen, in the dusk and
afterwards in the moonlight of the night before, that a couple of the rough
pets of the mountain region were sojourning at the Notch, in the shape of
half-grown black bears, chained to stakes some twenty feet apart, with a
dog-kennel for their joint retreat, perhaps a hundred feet from the house
and immediately in front of it, where their antics could be discerned and
enjoyed from the piazza and the front windows. He had seen, too, going out
earlier that morning, that they did not appear yet old enough to be
dangerously vicious, and that they seemed very playful for that description
of beast. Everybody was feeding them, from early morning to dusk, with
nuts, raisins and crackers surreptitiously taken from the table for that
purpose; and the youngsters no doubt consumed in feeding the young Bruins,
quite as much food as they themselves managed to devour.

Just then not less than a dozen persons were surrounding the household
favorites, feeding them, putting them through their clumsy evolutions which
principally consisted in sitting erect or climbing a short post to get a
nut placed on the top,--or developing the usual human propensity for
teazing. Most of them were ladies, and among the others, as he went by at a
short distance, he recognized Miss Clara Vanderlyn, his fellow-passenger of
the day before,--her face rosy with the excitement of a just-accomplished
morning walk, her bonnet on arm, and her whole countenance radiant with
amusement as she plied the dusky pets with her pocket full of nuts and
raisins. She seemed to have acquired a wonderful ascendancy over the beasts
in a very brief acquaintance; for while all the others shrank from coming
absolutely within reach, she not only fed them without fear but rubbed
their black coats and patted their gristly noses as if they had been pet
kittens. Two or three men were lounging near, evidently admiring the new
lady accession to Profile society, but none claiming an acquaintance.

"H. T.," who either had a propensity for ten-pins that morning,
overbalancing the admiration of Miss Vanderlyn which he had shown the day
before, or a still stronger attraction for company whom he knew to be at
the alley--"H. T." was just passing on when Margaret Hayley, accompanied by
the inevitable Captain Hector Coles, came out of the door of the
billiard-room and advanced towards the bear-stakes. It must remain a
mystery whether this appearance from the door did or did not make a change
in his own necessity for exercise: suffice it to say that he stopped,
turned partially around and joined the group who were making levee to the
Bruins.

At that moment, when Clara Vanderlyn had succeeded in luring one of the
bears to the top of his "stool of repentance" (the short post), and was
bending close above him, feeding and fondling what few other female hands
dared touch,--a new actor came upon the scene, in the shape of Master
Brooks Brooks Cunninghame, accompanying his "Mommy." He had _not_ died the
night before as might have been expected from his surfeit, but the freckled
appearance of his face was materially improved by a ground hue of greenish
white which his short sickness had imparted. His careful mamma had dressed
him for that gala-day in a complete plaid suit of blue and white, with a
cap of the same material and a black feather; and he looked scarcely less
ornamental than useful. Evidently, sick as he had really been, he was all
alive and awake that morning and might be safely calculated upon for adding
to the general comfort by prowess of mouth and fingers. And the company
were not obliged to wait very long for proof that the scion of the house of
Cunninghame was aware of the duties of his position and quite equal to
them. He left the maternal hand, spite of the clutching of the latter, at
the moment of arriving at the bear-stakes, and spying what he rightly
judged to be a good opportunity, stepped rapidly round behind the bear,
caught him by the stumpy tail, and gave him a sharp twitch which nearly
threw him from the top of the post.

In an instant the playful nature of the bear was gone, and with one sudden
growl he raised his heavy paw with its sharp claws and struck full at the
face of Miss Vanderlyn, not two feet from him. Every one present saw the
blow, but no one seemed to have enough presence of mind or courage to
shield her from a stroke which, falling full in her unprotected face, must
certainly have disfigured her for life.

No one--it has been said: no one of those known to be present, most of whom
were women or children; and neither "H. T." nor Captain Hector Coles had
yet come near enough to be of any possible service. Yet the blow did not
reach Clara Vanderlyn. A hand and arm were suddenly dashed between the paw
and the threatened face, with such force that while the sharp claws tore
the skin and flesh in ribbons from the back of the hand and split the
coat-sleeve as if it had been paper,--the bear was knocked backward off his
perch and rolled over in a ball on the ground at the side of the kennel.
When any of the company sufficiently recovered from their astonishment to
glance at the face of the lucky yet unlucky preserver, they saw that it was
that of the bluff arrival of the evening before, Halstead Rowan.

With the exception of three persons, all present rushed up at once, under
the impression that Rowan's hand must be seriously injured. One of these
exceptions was "H. T.," who made a movement to dart forward, even from his
distance, when he saw the blow impending, but who the instant that it had
fallen turned and walked back towards the ten-pin alley. The second was
Margaret Hayley, who had recognized the personality of both the
conversationists of the previous evening, and who naturally stopped in
blank surprise to see one of two persons whom she supposed to be intimate
friends, turn away the moment that the other was wounded. The third was
Captain Hector Coles, who really had no power to do otherwise than obey the
check laid upon him by the lady's hand.

All who saw knew that the injury must be severe, but it might have been the
scratch of a pin for any effect which it seemed to produce on the
Illinoisan. The blood was streaming profusely from the wound, but almost
before any one saw it the other hand was inserted in a side-pocket, and a
white handkerchief drawn thence and wrapped around the injured member.

"Are you much hurt, sir?"

"What a narrow escape, miss!"

"Indeed, I thought his paw would injure your face terribly!"

"Somebody ought to kill that boy!"

These and a score of similar expressions burst from the dozen or two of
spectators. Miss Vanderlyn had caught the young man by the sleeve of the
coat, with perceptible nervousness in her grip, and said, with all that
sweet smile faded from her face, and her voice trembling with anxiety:

"Indeed--indeed, sir, I am very grateful to you. I should have been badly
hurt, I fear, but for your kind aid. Pray let us do something to prevent
your suffering so much from your generosity. I am afraid that you are very
much injured!"

"Oh, not in the least, madame--miss, perhaps I should say. Nothing but a
scratch; and if the company at the Profile do not object to a big glove,
none of us will be aware of the accident in a few minutes."

"Trust me, sir!" said the young lady, in the same anxious tone, "_I_ shall
be aware of your kindness so long as I live."

"Pray do not mention it again!" said Rowan. "Indeed I am only too happy
that the little affair occurred." He was telling the truth, beyond a
question, however far he might have been from telling what they equally
require in the courts of law--the _whole_ truth; and again for one instant
there might have been seen sweeping over his face the same changing
expression that had played hide-and-seek there on his first arrival the
evening before:--admiration--regard--reverence--hope--joy; and then the
dull shadow of recollection and hopelessness.

Clara Vanderlyn, too, whether she had or had not remarked him on that
occasion--Clara Vanderlyn saw and read his face now! Her eyes fixed for one
moment full upon his, then drooped, and the rich blood crept up to brow,
neck, and bosom, from which it had been expelled by the temporary fright.
For an instant she was silent, and seemed to be studying; then she drew
from the little reticule which hung upon her arm a card-case, took out a
card, and handed it to Rowan, with a still more conscious blush, her old
smile, and the words:

"I am aware, sir, that this is a singular introduction, and on my part a
painful one, as it has been the means of causing you an injury; but my
mother and my brother will be glad to know you and to thank you better than
I can do."

"Miss Vanderlyn," said Rowan, taking the card and glancing at the name just
as earnestly as if he had never paid any attention whatever to the register
at the office, "you do me too much honor. I have no card in my pocket.
Would you be kind enough to give me another of yours?"

She at once handed him another card and a pencil, and he dashed down, in a
bold, rapid, and mercantile hand, though he used the sinister member for
the operation, the name and address which the little black trunk had before
revealed to those who chose to read.

"Thank you, Mr. Rowan. Good-morning! Pray take care of your hand, or I
shall never forgive myself!" she said, nodding to her new acquaintance, and
turning towards the house. Rowan bowed low, said good-morning, and strolled
away towards the ten-pin alley, apparently not more concerned by the hurt
than if he had merely pricked his finger. He was one of those booked for
the ride to the Flume, but he seemed to need severer exercise, and the
moment after he might have been seen with his hand still wrapped in the
bloody white handkerchief, bowling away at the pins with the other, and
humming the Grand March in "Norma" as if he thought that a favorable strain
of music to accompany the levelling of obstacles or enemies.

Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame, hearing the threat directed at her promising boy,
had mustered common-sense enough to hurry him away from the scene of
action. Captain Coles and Miss Hayley had meanwhile come up, and "H. T.,"
turning once more before he reached the alley, reached the spot at the same
moment. For the first time, in broad daylight, Margaret Hayley met the
strange man face to face, and her cheek whitened--why, even she perhaps
could not tell--at that expression or resemblance which she traced there.
If there was any answering expression of agitation or surprise on the face
of the man with the initials, she failed to read it, and her eyes in a
moment sank from a survey which seemed so profitless. They were at that
time very near each other, and Captain Coles and "H. T." not more than six
feet apart. Their eyes met, and that indefinable something passed between
them before another word was spoken, which includes antagonism, if not
deadly hostility. There was no reason to believe that they had ever met
before the preceding evening; there was no reason to believe that they
could ever have an interest in conflict; and yet those two men were foes,
and would remain so until one or the other should be thoroughly conquered.

"A go-ahead fellow, I should not be afraid to stake my life!" said one of
the gentlemen who had just come up, alluding to the hero of the hour and
seeming to address any one who might choose to answer.

"Ya-a-as!" slowly and doubtingly said Captain Hector Coles, caressing his
beard and throwing almost insufferable arrogance into a manner which
naturally had quite enough of it. "Ya-a-as, go-ahead enough, apparently,
but not a bit of a gentleman. Rough as the bear he just knocked over, and
looks as if he might have come from among something of the same breed!"

"No, not a gentleman, probably!" said "H. T.," with a sneer in his tone
quite as little disguised as the other's arrogance. "But he is something a
good deal better, in my opinion, and something a good deal rarer--a _man_,
every inch of him!"

"At any rate," said another, who had not yet spoken, "I would give a
hundred dollars to have blundered into an introduction to that splendid
girl as he has done, even if it cost me a hand worse scratched than his."

"He has _had_ worse scratches! Did you notice the scar on his cheek, coming
away down here to the neck?" said one of the ladies who had witnessed the
whole affair, addressing Margaret Hayley.

"No--has he a scar?"

"A terrible one. I think he must have been a soldier, at some time or
other."

"I believe that he has the noblest gift ever conferred by God upon
man,--that of courage!" answered Margaret. "If he was a slave or a savage I
could love and respect him for that, as I should despise him if he was a
king without it!"

From the depth of what a terrible wound in her own heart was the young girl
speaking, and what a concentrated force of bitter earnest rankled in such
words falling from her beautiful lips! Captain Hector Coles heard, but made
no answer, as why should he, for was he not one of the country's defenders
and a brave man by profession? "H. T." heard her, and his upper lip, under
the shadow of his dark moustache, set down tightly upon the lower, while
over his handsome dusky face passed an expression which might have been
pain and might have been the crushing out of some last scruple of
conscience that stood between him and a half-intended line of action.

"Passengers for the Flume" had been the call some minutes before; and by
the conclusion of this scene, at nine o'clock or thereabout, the wagons for
that daily ride of inveterate Franconians were drawn up at the door. They
were two in number, the list of riders for that fine morning being
unusually heavy. Not coaches, that necessarily shut away a part of the
view, but long low wagons on jacks, each with four or five cross seats, a
heavy brake and four mettled horses--for fine weather and through the
shaded glen roads, the safest and pleasantest of all the mountain
conveyances. Five minutes sufficed to fill both those conveyances, with
some thirty persons, among the number all those in whom this narration
awakes any interest. How they were divided off or how seated is a matter of
no consequence, except in a certain particular. Halstead Rowan managed to
secure a seat in the same wagon with Clara Vanderlyn, though at the other
end of the vehicle,--and in so doing found himself by the side of Mrs.
Brooks Cunninghame and only one remove from that hopeful, Master Brooks
Brooks. Not enjoying quite the same facilities as some of the others for
studying that lady the night before, he had still been attracted to her at
breakfast and found time to "cypher up" her calibre and social position to
a most amusing nicety. Whether wildness was the normal condition of his
character, as seemed possible, or whether his slight rencontre with the
young bear, and the flattering conversation with a pretty girl which
followed, had dizzied his brain a little, as was both possible and
natural,--he was in high spirits and the very demon of mischief had taken
possession of him. He had apparently determined to devote himself somewhat
to the comfort of that Arch-priestess of Shoddy during the morning ride,
and a pleasant time that elevated personage was likely to have of it!

Just after leaving the breakfast table, Rowan had chanced to overhear a few
words of conversation between Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame and one of the lady
habitues of the house on whom she was aiming to make a tremendous
impression; and those few words had fully revealed one of the leading
points of the parvenu's tactics. Some one had told her, apparently, or she
had read the statement in so-called "polite publications"--that no one
could be fashionable, now-a-days, without having been "abroad"--_i. e._,
without having made at least one tour in Europe. Now that Mrs. Brooks
Cunninghame _had_ been abroad, at least so far as beyond the Atlantic, at
that very early period before she left the paternal cabin, pig and
potatoes,--seemed the most probable of allegations; but in the matter of
actual travel, or of those substitutes for travel which may be found in a
thorough acquaintance with geography and a close study of guide-books and
the best travellers, the poor woman had been as guiltless, a few weeks
before, as the most stay-at-home and illiterate of her early acquaintances.
But she could read, which was something, and had no conscience worth
speaking of, which was something more. Perhaps some one had told her the
traditional story of Tom Sheridan and his father, and the wonder which the
latter expressed that the former "could not say that he had been down into
a coal-pit without really going there." The worthy lady, as Rowan soon
discovered by a few desultory words, had no corresponding objection,
provided she could _seem_ to have been anywhere; and there was little doubt
that she had procured a guide-book or two and "read up," as Honorable
Members very often do before making speeches on subjects of which they know
nothing whatever,--and as snobs sometimes do in books on "Perfect
Gentility" and the "Whole Art of Dining Out," before going into society
which seems a little too weighty for their previous training. How well she
had succeeded, may best be illustrated by a little of her conversation with
the Illinoisan, who took care to introduce the subject of her "travels"
(with what he had overheard, as a hint) very soon after the wagons rolled
away from the Profile, and without waiting for any formal introduction.

He broke the ice with the remark, equally tempting and flattering to his
next neighbor:

"You must enjoy this fine scenery very much, madam, as you have chances of
comparison that some of us lack. You have travelled in Europe, I believe?"

"Yes--yes, sir," answered the lady, a little doubtful which of the two was
the proper answer to so profound a sentence. If she was at all nervous
about plunging into such untried waters with a total stranger, his
disclamatory hint of his own experiences reassured her; and besides, one of
the ladies was on the seat immediately behind, to whom she had been
boasting that very morning, and it would never do to abandon the ground
once taken.

"Ah, how proud you must feel, madam, of having seen so many of the wonders
of nature!" the wretch went on. "I have never yet been able to cross the
ocean, myself, and the conversation of foreign travellers is naturally both
pleasant and instructive to me."

"Much obliged to you, I am sure," the lady returned. Some of the
passengers in the wagon, who had previously observed the hero of the
morning, and thought him any thing else rather than a fool, looked twice at
him, at this juncture, to discover what he could mean by addressing
complimentary conversation to that compound of ignorance and vulgarity. It
must be owned that Clara Vanderlyn, who sat on one of the back seats while
the interlocutors were in front, believing the man in earnest, felt for the
moment a sensation of disgust towards him and wished her card back in her
reticule. But if she and some of the others were temporarily deceived, the
deception was not of long continuance.

The statement by Rowan that he had never been across the Atlantic, was the
one thing necessary to reassure Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame; and that point
settled, she felt sure of her ground.

"How long since you were abroad, madam, may I ask?" he continued.

"Five years," answered the lady, who no doubt felt that both her duration
of standing in society and the accuracy of her memory would appear the
better for a little lapse of time.

"Five years, indeed? so long?" asked the scamp, with every appearance of
interest. "And did you have your dear little boy with you all the time?"

"No, my physician did not think it prudent for me to take him along of me,
and I left him to home with the nurse," was the reply. The fact was,
really, that at the early period named her "physician" had been a drunken
Indian-herb doctor, the only description of medical man likely to visit the
shanty which she yet occupied,--and that she had been (perhaps better and
more honorably occupied than at any time after!) doing her own work without
the hope or thought of ever employing a servant.

"Dear little fellow!" said the Illinoisan, caressing the scrubbing-brush
head of the repulsive youngster. "What a pity that he could not have gone
with you! By the way, madam, you went by steamer, of course. Did you take
steamer for Paris, or--or--St. Petersburgh?"

By this time most of the passengers began to perceive what was coming, and
there were symptoms of a titter in the back seats, but nothing that warned
or disturbed the victim.

"Oh, Paris, of course!" was the answer. "Dear, delightful Paris, where the
shops was so handsome and the women wore such elegant bunnits!" (See
guide-books.)

"You landed at Paris direct from the steamer, I suppose?" asked the
tormentor, at which question the titter really began, but still too quietly
to put the lady on her guard.

"Oh, yes, of course!" was the answer. "The tide was high, and we went right
up." The poor woman had probably been aground, some time, on the Hudson
Overslaugh or the Shrewsbury Flats, and supposed that nothing but low tide
could prevent going up to Paris by steamship.

"Let me see--what is the name of that river that takes you up to Paris?"
the scamp went on, with his face contorted into a wonderful appearance of
earnest thought. "The--the--the--which is it, now, the Danube or the
Amazon?"

"I am not very sure," answered the lady at hap-hazard, "I almost forget,
but I think it is the Amazon--yes, I know it must be the Amazon."

At about that period there was a laugh in the back part of the long wagon,
and Clara Vanderlyn was as red in the face as if she had been committing
some serious fault. She would unquestionably have liked to pinch that
naughty fellow's ears, if not to box them. But the laugh did not disturb
Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame, for the young people were frolicking all the while
and a hundred laughs might break out without one of them being directed at
_her_. Halstead Rowan had kept his own face perfectly serene so far, but he
evidently began to feel twitchings around the mouth which might give him
trouble directly, and, for fear of the worst, he fired his concluding shots
with great rapidity.

"You were in London, of course?" he asked.

"Yes, a good while; we took a house there, and seen the Queen, and the
Crystal Palace--"

"Let me see--the Queen lives in the Crystal Palace, doesn't she?"

"Of course she does!" answered the traveller, who remembered just so much
as that queens and palaces belonged together, and no more.

More laughing at the back of the wagon, a little choking, and some stuffing
of cambric handkerchiefs into mouths pretty or the reverse. No irreparable
explosion as yet, though that catastrophe could not possibly be long
deferred.

"Yes--you were in London: did you go up the Pyramids?"

"No, we went to 'em, but not up 'em."

"But you went up the Alps, of course?--everybody goes up the Alps."

"Of course we did!" and the lady really bridled. "Think we would go so far
as that and spend so much money, and not go up that there?"

The explosion was impending--there was already a rumbling in the distance,
which should have been heeded.

"How did you go up--in _what_ kind of a vessel did you say, madam?"

It is to be presumed that by this time the lady was considerably confused
even in the smattering of information from the guide-book, with which she
had commenced; and she could not have had any moral doubt remaining that
the Alps was a river; for she answered, without one symptom of
consciousness in her countenance:

"We went up in a steamboat, and a nasty little thing it was!"

The threatened explosion had arrived. That wagon-load of people laughed,
shrieked and roared, bent double and chuckled themselves red in the face,
to a degree which was very discreditable to their sense of propriety and
very bewildering to the mountain echoes. Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame looked
around to see what was the matter, and at that moment it seemed that a dim
perception must have crept through her head that she had something to do
with the merriment, for she reddened, bridled and grew strangely silent.
Halstead Rowan, as she looked around,--not by any means joining in the
laugh, had suddenly discovered that his legs were cramped from riding,
sprung over the side of the wagon and disappeared behind a bend of the
road, to make the rest of the short distance to the Flume House on foot.

A mile further, after this novel lesson in geography had been taken, and
the wagons drew up at the door of the Flume House, once a great
caravanserai that rivalled any other in the mountains, then a mere
unoccupied pendant of the all-absorbing Profile which has literally
swallowed it. It stands at the lower end of the Franconia Notch proper, and
the mountains fall away below it southward, so much that the feeling of
oppressive isolation at the Profile is here lost entirely. But there is one
charm connected with the Flume House, that can never be forgotten by those
who have once stood there and looked eastward; and the merry occupants of
the before-deserted piazza, that day, were not likely to be allowed to ride
away without having that charm called to their attention, to be remembered
ever after as one of those marvels with which Nature confounds Art and
defies calculation.

Full before them, as they looked, loomed up the peak of Mount Liberty, so
called, as is supposed, because the curve of the crown northward has some
indefinite resemblance to the Phrygian liberty-cap of the French
revolution. But a sadder and more solemn resemblance was there, needing to
be pointed out at first, but asserting itself as a strange reality
thenceforward, in presence or in absence. It was with a thrill of awe that
the riders, as so many had done before them and as some of them had done
long before, recognized the form of the Dead Washington, stretched out on
the summit of the eternal mountains that seemed almost mighty and enduring
enough for their awful burthen. There seemed a little obscurity in the
mouth and lips, as if the shrouding pall partially covered them; but the
contour of the massive nose was perfect, as the rugged peak stood relieved
against the eastern sky, and above it the godlike forehead swept up
southward and fell away again in the very curve of the hair drawn backward
as it would be when lying in the calm repose of death. Northward the long
round of Mount Liberty marked the full breast, sinking at the recumbent hip
and rising again at the bend of the massive knee; while still farther away
and in the exact line of symmetry, one of the peaks of the Haystack group
shot up and fell suddenly on the other side, as the drapery would do over
the stiffened feet. Then the resemblance was complete, unmistakable, almost
fearful; and those who looked with reverent eyes realized that the Eternal
Hand, thousands of years ago and in a mood that would write prophecy on the
very face of the earth instead of recording it on tables of stone, had
throned on the tops of the northern mountains an enduring likeness of that
man yet unborn, whose glory was to gild every peak and fill every valley
with the brightest and purest light of heroism.

Long, and with reverent silence only broken by an occasional exclamation of
wonder, the company gazed upon that strange spectacle, more sadly
suggestive than any other of the wonders of the American continent. The
voice of merriment, which had been ringing so loudly but a few moments
before, was hushed, and tears lay nearer to the surface than laughter. It
could not be otherwise than that the spectacle, impressive always, should
blend itself with the sorrow of a thousand hearts and the peril of a land,
and that something of almost superstitious omen should seem to lie in the
recognition. There were no words to syllable the great thoughts of that
hour. How could there be? What tongue could have spoken what the heart so
sadly reverberated to an inner sense that was subtler and better than
hearing? "H. T.," whose tongue, as Margaret Hayley and her companions heard
it, had so solemnly apostrophized the iron face of the Old Man of the
Mountain in the moonlight of the night before, stood silent and with folded
arms on the end of the piazza, his strange, dark face full of a feeling
that seemed sad enough for death and yet determined enough for a life of
almost terrible daring. He was alone. He seemed to have made, even
distantly, but one acquaintance since alighting at the Profile; and that
one acquaintance, Halstead Rowan, had not yet paid all the penalty of his
mischief in a walk to the Flume. He had no motive to speak: perhaps under
no circumstances could he have done so before that company and with the
knowledge that the eyes of Margaret Hayley might be bent upon him from the
other end of that group of gazers. But the man who had read the patriotic
secret of the Mountain Sphynx felt the weight of that hour--who could doubt
it? And if his lips had spoken, would not the words they uttered have been
something like these, that have bubbled to other lips and yet been denied
utterance, on the same spot and since the overcasting of our national sky
by that dark cloud of war and that darker cloud of divided feeling, only to
be rolled away in God's good time:

"Yes, look upon the Dead Washington, all of you, and prepare to bear the
image away and keep it sacred in your heart of hearts. Dead and shrouded he
lies, whose words might perchance have had power, at this fearful day in
our history, to still the turbulent waves of passion and make us brothers
once more. Dead and shrouded, when the day of doom may be near, and when
his sword, flashing at the head of the armies of the republic, might have
blinded treason and struck terror to the heart of the rebellion. Dead and
shrouded, to wake not at the trump of war or the call of national peril.
Yet look down upon us from the granite mountains that bore thine image a
thousand years ago and will bear it until the very form and feature of
nature decay--look down upon us from the heavens that are higher and more
enduring even than the eternal hills, and bless us with some ray of that
courage which dared the iron rain of Princeton--of that patient endurance
which braved the wintry snow of Valley Forge--of that honesty which bent a
world in awe and admiration--of that self-sacrificing humility which
thought it but duty to refuse a crown! Not in irreverence we speak, shadow
of the great dead! Thou didst live, and we sprang into existence as a
nation. Thou art gone, and we wander in the night and darkness of hatred,
of strife, of murder--perhaps even totter to a fall from which there is no
arising. If thou hast power in the eternal world, Washington who livest, so
faintly shadowed by the Washington that is dead--save us whom the might of
no other nation can cast down--save us from ourselves!"

Hush! the fancy so reverently assumed cannot be cast off in a moment.
Hush!--was not that low rumbling in the north which men call thunder, the
voice of the Giant of Mount Liberty turning suddenly in his grave-clothes
to answer the appeal? God!--if it might be so!--"Oh, for an hour of Hickory
Jackson!" cried the agonized nation when the first paralysis fell upon our
men in power: oh, for one moment of George Washington now!

The Celt looks for the awakening of Brian Boroihme from his long sleep in
the Wicklow mountains, falsely called his death, after the red field of
Clontarf, and for the deliverance of Ireland from the Saxon oppressor,
which is to follow; the German is still waiting for the sounding of that
horn which is to start Frederick the Redbeard from his repose in the
Kypphauser, where the faithless laid him to rest, believing that he was
dead, after his charmed bath in the Cilician Cydnus; even the old soldiers
who guard the mighty dust of Napoleon beneath the dome of the Invalides,
speak of the "Midnight Review" in other words than those of Friederich
Freiligrath and hold a dim impression that the life of Austerlitz and the
Pyramids must linger even after St. Helena: why may not the patriot heart
of America believe that the man who of all others best represented the full
glory of a nation, is immortal in body as in spirit, and that the Father of
his Country will some day dash out from the sarcophagus that holds him
prisoner at Mount Vernon,--to shame recreancy, to hurl incapacity from
power, and to save, in its dark hour, the fabric that his great soul loved
and his great hand builded?

No!--that awful presence lies unmoved on its bier on the peaks of the
mountains, the blue sky the canopy of its catafalque, the waving trees the
plumes of the warriors who guard it, and the hoarse storm wind its requiem.
And while it so sleeps, the future of the republic, which seems to us in
darkness, lies really in a Hand that knows no death and never changes in
its unfaltering purpose!

But the saddest as well as the sweetest things in life have an end, and the
halt of the company at the Flume House, that morning, supplied no exception
to the rule. Just as the wagons were once more loaded, Halstead Rowan came
striding up, his cigar smoked out, and his face the most unconscious
imaginable, and took the seat which he had not long before vacated. Mrs.
Brooks Cunninghame was very busy, at that period, looking after some of the
details of arrangement of Master Brooks Brooks' dress, which had become
slightly disarranged; and perhaps she did not see him. Let us suppose so,
for she certainly did not notice her late student in geography. She was a
little red in the face, which let us also suppose to have been the effect
of the weather and not of mortification. And so all once more in place,
away dashed the wagons to that marvellous gap in the mountains which gives
name to the house. The road seemed very rough and broken, the rises and
descents grew sharper, and the forest scenery wilder. Galloping his four
horses up a steep ascent to the left, each driver vigorously applied the
brake as the wagons literally slid down the very sharpest bit of road
descent to be found at the Franconia (except perhaps on some portions of
the Bald Mountain)--a descent so sudden, and overhanging a ravine so
frightful, that some of the handsome eyes looked larger than ever for the
moment, all the riders involuntarily threw themselves back in the laboring
and creaking wagons, and pretty little screams that had no affectation in
them emancipated themselves from rosy lips and took excursions out into the
summer air. Then thundering over a rickety wooden bridge, almost at the
bottom of the ravine, and up another slight ascent, the wagons stopped
under a clump of wide-spreading trees at a rough platform, and disembarked
their passengers, leaving all to follow their will in examining that wonder
of nature in one of her frolic moods.

And what was the Flume like, to those who that day saw it for the first
time? An irregular crack or fissure in the side of the mountain, half a
mile long, and from ten to fifty feet in depth, such as the wedge of some
enraged Titan might have made when he had determined to split the earth
asunder, and used the thunder as a beetle. Whether he was frightened by the
big oval boulder which fell into the fissure half way up, and has ever
since hung suspended there, touching only at the points, and apparently
ready to fall at any moment--who shall say? At all events, if he intended
to disrupt the earth he desisted for the time; and let us be duly thankful!

Walking laboriously over the broad flat stone platform at the mouth of the
gorge, with the thin sheet of bright water straggling over it, then
ascending the rough stairs of board that lay irregularly on either side,
and anon climbing carefully over the mossed and slippery rocks that offered
such precarious foot-hold, the party ascended the Flume and stood at last
between walls of less than six feet separation, the rock rising fifty or
sixty feet on either side, and almost as square as if cut by the chisel of
an artificer, impassable slimy boulders piled in confusion far ahead, the
rough little stream tumbling away through the wilderness of stones beneath,
and a chill dampness like that of the grave striking in to the very
life-blood of those who had been imprudent enough to tempt the mountains
without the protection of thick garments and warm flannels. Once, a little
white Blossom of the company, just unfolding to the June luxuriance of
womanhood, and whose name has no interest in this narration, was tempted
by a mischievous relative and protector to try walking a rounded and
slippery log that bridged the chasm, a few feet above the rough rocks and
water below; but her nerves failed and her head grew dizzy when she was
half way across, her lip quivered and then fluttered out a little cry of
alarm, and her mischievous tempter retraced his own steps just in time to
catch her and keep her from an ice-cold bath and limbs bruised on the rough
stones lying in the stream underneath.

There was another log spanning the Flume, a little higher up the chasm, and
at a very different altitude from terra firma--hanging, in fact, like a
stout black fence-rail, not less than eighty or an hundred feet in the air.
Encircled by the eternal dampness rising out of the Flume, it could not be
otherwise than slimy and slippery; and only a moment before the nameless
Blossom tempted the log below, some of the company had looked up and
remarked with a shudder that a firm foot and cool head would be necessary
for the man who should tread over that frail bridge with its crumbling
bark. As if the two had some mysterious connection, the moment _after_
Blossom's misadventure, some one heard voices in that direction and looked
up again. Two figures stood upon the brink, and not so far away but that at
least _some_ of the group below recognized them as "H. T." and Halstead
Rowan, who had left the rest as they abandoned the wagons and commenced
ascending the gorge.

Among those who looked up was Margaret Hayley, and her eyes were among
those that recognized the two figures. What those people were to her, or
why she said "Look!" in a quick and even agitated voice, probably the young
girl could have told quite as little as either writer or reader; but such
was the fact, and the motion of her eyes at the moment, accompanied by the
word, drew the regards of both Captain Hector Coles and Mrs. Burton Hayley,
who stood beside her at the bottom of the Flume. They, too, with the
others, heard the words and saw the action that immediately followed.

Halstead Rowan had one foot thrust forward on the log, his other on the
firm ground behind. "H. T." stood on the rock beside him, making no motion
to cross. There was evidently a banter between them, and though they were
probably not aware of the fact, their words were readily distinguishable
beneath.

"None of _my_ business, I suppose; but it is folly!" they heard spoken by
the voice of "H. T."

"I suppose that every thing is folly which goes out of the hum-drum track
of every-day life!" they heard Rowan reply. "But I like folly, and so here
goes! Will you follow me?"

"Without wanting to go over?--no!" was the answer.

The words had scarcely left his lips when Rowan sprang forward on the log,
stepping lightly, but balancing himself with some care, towards the other
side. Insensibly all who saw him held their breath. If he should be correct
enough in his balance, who could say that the log might not be a rotten
shell, ready to fall under the heavy weight of the stout athlete? In fact,
he had scarcely reached the middle when the tottering fabric seemed to give
way and come toppling down into the chasm below. Not in reality; for had it
done so, the career of the Illinoisan, with whom we have by no means
finished, would have been ended for all time. The startling appearance was
created by the dislodging of a large shell of the rotten bark by his foot,
more than half costing him his balance, and bringing out from the group
beneath a chorus of cries that might well have disturbed what remained of
equilibrium. One cry sounded sharper and higher than all the rest: there
were those present who knew from whose lips it came: enough for us to say
that it did not come from those of Margaret Hayley, whose eyes were still
turned upward with a feeling in them very different from fear. Before the
cry had fairly died away, the peril, whatever it might have been, was past,
and Halstead Rowan stood on the other side of the chasm, bowing to the
group who had been observing him, as he learned from the cries, at the
bottom. They saw "H. T." turn and walk away at the same moment; and then,
drawing a long breath, Margaret Hayley said, much more to herself than to
her immediate companions:

"What a thing beyond all admiration is that courage!"

"Which our other friend does not seem to be troubled with in any great
degree!" said Captain Hector Coles, finishing out the sentence with a tone
perceptibly sneering. Margaret looked round at him with a look which might
have been one of inquiry, then turned away her face again and said:

"No, I suppose not! Not more than half the world can be demigods: the
others must be common people, or worse!"

Whether Captain Hector Coles liked the tone of the reply, or not, is
uncertain. At all events he scowled a little and said nothing more, while
Mrs. Burton Hayley stole a look into the face of her daughter which had no
hypocrisy in it and was full of wonder and trouble.

Five minutes afterwards the company were all again at the mouth of the
Flume, and there Halstead Rowan, a second time the hero of the day, joined
them. "H. T." did not make his appearance: he had struck across, the
Illinoisan said, without waiting for him, over the almost impassable fallen
timber and through the spruce thickets, by the cross-path to the Pool. A
few minutes more sufficed to re-seat the group in their wagons and to
deposit them once more at the door of the Flume House, whence they took
their way on foot, straggling in every picturesque variety of locomotion
towards that equally-curious pendant of the Flume which is often missed by
those who visit the better-known wonder.

The Pool lay all alone, until this somewhat numerous company came to
disturb its solitude. A singular object indeed--an exaggeration of all the
other mountain amphitheatre fountains, nearly round, a score or more of
yards in diameter, with the toe of the horse-shoe scooped out of a solid
rock thirty or forty feet in height, smoothed and rounded as if cut by
human hands, a bright, clear stream dashing down at that point, the rocks
further away from the toe rising broken and jagged to the height of perhaps
an hundred feet, and the mode of approach of the passengers a jagged line
of ricketty steps, terribly perpendicular, sloping down from that highest
point and presenting no temptations to the decrepit or the nervous. At the
bottom of this singular basin the water, bright and clear in the few places
where it ran shallow over the bleached stones, but under the shadow of the
ledge so deep as to seem black as midnight.

"Nobody here!--it doesn't seem like old times!" said an elderly gentleman
who had visited the Pool many times in other days,--as the ladies were with
some difficulty assisted down the steps. "No boatman, and not even a boat!
Where is Charon, I wonder?"

"Oh, yes, where _is_ Merrill?" asked another. "The man with the leaky scow
and the white muslin awning, who always charged a York shilling for
ferrying people over to the Elysian Fields lying among the rocks and logs
yonder."

"I remember, once," said the old gentleman, "that while his lieutenant
paddled us around under the spray of the fall yonder, and over to the steps
which used to hang from the rocks there on the opposite side, Merrill read
us an autograph letter from Queen Victoria, dated in the kitchen at
Buckingham Palace while the august lady said that she was rolling
apple-dumplings,--and also gave us a lecture on geography, in which he
proved that this spot was the very centre of the earth, from which all
latitude and longitude ought to be calculated."

"Well, he was right in some degree," said Halstead Rowan, who stood near,
and who fixed his regards at the same moment on Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame,
still looking after the welfare of that interesting child. There was not
even the suspicion of a smile upon his face as he went on, and there
certainly was not upon the face of the lady for whose benefit the discourse
was evidently intended. "I do not know about the latitude and longitude,
but this Pool is certainly the centre of the earth and exactly opposite to
China, so that a plummet, with _a line long enough_, dropped here, would be
certain to come out somewhere on the shores of the Hoangho or the Kiangku."

"Nonsense!" said one grave lady (not Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame) who did not
appreciate the joke.

"Not a bit of it, madame!" said the scamp, who thereupon turned his battery
at once in her direction. "There is no doubt whatever of the truth of the
statement, for I have been here myself when the defunct pig-tailed Chinamen
came popping up, who had committed suicide by drowning themselves on the
other side of the world, on account of the cruelty of a copper-colored
divinity with almond eyes and feet the size and shape of the last dumpling
in the pot, or a trifling deficiency in the rat-crop or the dog-census."

"Impudence!" muttered _that_ lady, who seemed to regard the "whopper" as a
personal insult; but the majority of the company appeared to view the
affair in a very different light and to be rather pleased than otherwise
with the go-ahead fellow who could walk over verbal and physical bridges
with the same charming recklessness. It may be anticipating to say that
there was one among them, whose face had paled when he trod the log over
the Flume, and who could not even laugh at the light words which she
otherwise enjoyed,--so much deep and new and strange feeling lay at the
bottom of the interest. And it may _not_ be anticipating, in the minds of
any who have perused the late foregoing pages with due attention, to say
that that silent, thoughtful, observing one was Clara Vanderlyn, between
whom and the Illinoisan there yawned a gulf of circumstance and position so
wide and deep that no one but a madman (or what is madder still--a mad
_woman_) could possibly have dreamed of stepping over it.



CHAPTER XIV.

     A DISASTER TO MASTER BROOKS BROOKS CUNNINGHAME--EXIT INTO
     THE BOTTOM OF THE POOL--NOBODY THAT COULD SWIM, AND MARGARET
     HAYLEY IN EXCITEMENT--"H. T." IN HIS ELEMENT, IN TWO
     SENSES--ANOTHER INTRODUCTION AND A NEW HERO--SCENES IN THE
     PROFILE PARLOR--ROWAN AND CLARA VANDERLYN--THE INSULT.


"But what has _become_ of the crazy old philosopher?" asked the same
elderly gentleman who had first introduced the subject,--only a moment
after Halstead Rowan had delivered himself of his speculations concerning
the centre of the earth, China and suicide, given at the close of the last
chapter.

"Oh," answered Rowan, "I was asking Jennings about him this morning, before
we came away from the Profile. Did you ever hear of the mode in which the
two Irishmen conducted their little debate, which ended in a couple of
broken heads?"

"I do not know!" laughed the old gentleman.

"Well, they debated physically--they held what they called a little
'dishcussion wid sticks'! Poor old Merrill got into a debate with the
Sheriff of Coos County, last spring a year, Jennings tells me, and he
carried it on with an _axe_, nearly killing the official. The result of all
which was that he was lugged off to jail at Wells River and the Pool is
bereaved."

"Sorry that his boat is not here, at least," said the old gentleman. "We
have just a nice party for circumnavigating the Pool; and I do not know
that even the letter from Queen Victoria and the lecture would be so much
of a bore, now that there is no danger of them."

"Couldn't manage to get up a boat, unless we improvised one out of a log,"
said the Illinoisan, "and that would be a little unstable, I fancy. And by
the way, I think I never saw a place more dangerous-looking for a sudden
tumble than that deep black pool, or one more difficult to get out of than
it would prove without something afloat to depend upon. So we must give it
up--the glory of the Pool has departed! _Sic transit gloria_ big hole in
the woods!"

At that moment, and when the attention of the whole company had been drawn
to the peculiar depth and quality of the Pool by the last observations--an
event took place which may or may not have been paralleled in the earlier
history of that peculiar wonder of nature. Sambo, of those days when the
negro only half ruled the great Western republic instead of ruling it
altogether,--related a story about a 'coon hunt of his, in which an episode
occurred at about the time when he had climbed out upon an extending limb
that was supposed to have the 'coon at the end. "Just then," said Sambo,
graphically--"just then I heard sumfin drap, and come to look, 'twas dis
yer nigger!" The party of visitors at the Pool heard "sumfin drap" about as
suddenly and unexpectedly; and when they had time to look around them, they
discovered that one of their number was missing--not a very valuable member
of the combination, but still one that was supposed to have the usual
immortal soul and antipathy to sudden death.

There never was a troublesome boy of an age corresponding to that of Master
Brooks Brooks Cunninghame, who did not have the propensity for climbing
developed in exact proportion to the incapacity for climbing at all; and
Master Brooks Brooks had not done half mischief enough that morning to be
content without making another effort. As the party climbed down to the
Pool, some of the members had spoken of the clearness of the water and the
coolness which it was said to possess even in the heat of midsummer; and
one of the ladies had extracted from her reticule one of those telescopic
ring drinking-cups of Britannia which are found so convenient in touring or
camping-out. Captain Hector Coles had volunteered to play Ganymede to the
rest of the company, and stepping down to the edge of the Pool, balanced
himself with one foot on a projecting stone, stooped down and dipped up
some of the sparkling coolness, which was thereupon passed around from hand
to hand and from lip to lip. That done, Master Brooks Brooks had been
allowed to possess himself of the cup, very much to the disgust of the
owner, but inevitably--and to make various demonstrations with it, around
the verge of the water. For a moment every one had lost sight of him--his
careful mother included; and during that moment he had climbed round to the
western side of the Pool, on the high rocks, where he stood brandishing the
cup in a series of motions which varied between mischief and idiocy. Then
and there an accident, not uncommon to persons who climb to high places and
are not careful of their footing there, had happened to the young scion of
the baronial house of Cunninghame, who, losing balance in one of his
gyrations, tumbled down some twenty or thirty feet of rock and went splash!
into the Pool, just where the waters seemed deepest, darkest and most
unfathomable!

Exit from view Master Brooks Brooks Cunninghame, with a fair prospect, to
all appearance, that he would carry out the laughable theory of Halstead
Rowan, and if he ever again came to light at all, do so in a drowned
condition at the antipodes. Droll enough, in a certain sense, but by no
means droll in another, for that he would be drowned, even in that
insignificant little puddle of water, was almost beyond doubt, and there
were supposed to be maternal feelings even beneath the ridiculous finery of
Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame! All heard the cry of fright that he gave in
falling, and the splash as he struck the water; and at least a part of the
company not only saw him disappear beneath the surface, but caught glimpses
of him as he went on down--down--down towards the bottom with the unerring
steadiness of a stone.

They saw him sink, but they did not see him rise again--not even in the
time which should have secured that result. Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame uttered
a scream when she saw the boy strike the water, then yelled out: "Patsey!
oh, my poor Patsey!" an exclamation entirely enigmatical as referring to a
person bearing no such name,--then finally fell back into the arms of one
of the old gentlemen in such a way as seriously to threaten his tumbling in
after the boy, and without the least necessity for shamming nervousness to
ape the "quality." She had indubitably fainted.

The situation was a peculiar one. Scarcely twenty seconds had elapsed since
the boy's fall, but an hour seemed to have passed. He did not rise. It was
likely that he must have been killed in the fall or struck a rock below and
crushed his poor little head. Still other seconds, growing to more than a
minute, and he did not rise. It was beyond doubt that he would never rise
again, alive. And what could be done to save him? Nothing--literally
nothing, as it appeared. All the party were ladies, except five
men--Captain Hector Coles, Halstead Rowan and three others, all the latter
white-haired and past the day for heroic exposure. Halstead Rowan had his
wounded hand wrapped in a heavy bandage which would have disabled him in
the water as thoroughly as if he had lost the limb at the elbow. For either
of the old men to plunge into the Pool would have been suicide. Margaret
Hayley stood beside Captain Hector Coles, the only young and unwounded man,
when the accident occurred; and after one moment her eyes turned upon him
with a glance that he too well understood.

"I am ashamed to say it, but I cannot swim one stroke!" he replied to that
glance of half appeal and half command. The glance--unreasonably enough, of
course--expressed something else the instant after.

"Oh, shame!--can nothing be done to save him?" she cried with clasped hands
and in a tone that manifested quite as much of the feeling of mortification
as of anxiety. At that period nearly all the women present broke out into
cries of terror, as if help could be brought to the helpless by the
appealing voice.

"Good heavens, ladies, what is the matter?"

It was the voice of "H. T." that spoke, and the man of the initials stood
on the other side of the Pool, where he had emerged from his laborious walk
over fallen trees and broken rocks from the Flume. He had his hat in his
hand and was wiping the perspiration from his hot brow.

Margaret Hayley, more moved beyond herself than any of the others present
(the poor mother had not yet recovered consciousness) was the first to
answer; though she little thought that perhaps the destiny of a whole life
was involved in the few words then to be spoken.

"Oh, sir, if you can swim, for heaven's sake try to save that boy! He has
fallen into the Pool, there--there--" and she pointed with her hand to the
very depth of the dark water--"and he must be at the bottom!"

"He _is_ at the bottom, without doubt, if he has fallen in!" was the
answer. "I saw him filling his pockets with bright stones, up at the Flume,
and he has probably enough of them about him to keep him at the bottom till
doomsday." Then, for the first time, the anxious watchers knew the reason
why even in the death-struggle the body had not risen--the poor little
fellow had been loading himself down with those tempting, fatal stones, to
make more certain the doom that was coming!

"Can you swim, sir? I asked you if you could swim!" Margaret Hayley's voice
rung across the Pool, with no little impatient petulance blended with the
evident anxiety; and she seemed totally to forget, as people will forget on
some occasions, that she had never been introduced to the man whom she
interrogated so sharply.

"I _can_ swim!" was the answer and the only answer. With the word he threw
off his coat and kicked off the convenient Congress gaiters that enveloped
his feet; and in ten seconds more he had leaped high into the air and
headlong into the dark waters at the spot indicated by the hand of
Margaret. So sudden had been all this, that scarcely one realized, until
he had disappeared, the whole peril he encountered.

"He will strike the stony bottom and kill himself!" said one of the elderly
gentlemen.

"Hot as he was, he will die with the chill, if he ever comes out!" said the
second, who had medical warrant for knowing the probable consequences of
such an act. Whereupon all began to realize that two deaths instead of one
might be the probable event; and Margaret Hayley set her teeth hard and
clasped her hands in the agonized thought that perhaps her words had driven
him to the rash leap, and that he must be either that thing for which she
had been so long looking, a man incarnately brave,--or willing to go out of
his own nature at her command, after less than a single day's
acquaintance--the latter feeling one not slow to awaken other and warmer
companions in the bosom of a true woman!

After those words had been spoken, dead silence reigned except as broken by
a sob of deadly anxiety from one of the ladies who could not control the
fear that oppressed her. And how long that silence of oppressive anxiety
lasted! It might have been a moment--it might have been five years, for any
capacity of measurement given to a single member of that waiting group
scattered over the rocks. Only the whilome watcher by a sick bed which
might be one of death, at the instant when the crisis of disease was
reached and the next minute was to decide between a life of love and
usefulness and the drear silence of the grave--only the man who has lifted
his faint signal of distress on a drifting wreck at sea, when a sail was in
sight, the last crust eaten, and night and storm coming to end all,--only
one or the other of these can realize the long agony of such moments and
the eternity which can be compressed into the merest fraction of time!

They had perhaps waited sixty seconds after the disappearance of the
would-be rescuer beneath the dark waters of the Pool, and already every one
had given him up for lost,--when a ripple agitated its surface, a
white-sleeved arm came up, then a figure bearing another. It battled
wearily towards the shoaler part of the Pool, touched bottom and struggled
shoreward, dropped its burthen with one glance upon it, and then toppled
over--both out of danger from the water, but both apparently dead alike!

In an instant all those above had rushed down to the margin, and while some
caught the drowned boy and attempted to restore the life that seemed so
hopelessly fled, others, and the medical man among them, devoted more than
equal anxiety to the man who appeared to have paid so dearly for his
heroism. He was senseless, but his pulse still beat--the doctor discovered
so much; and a fairer hand than that of the doctor sought the heart and
found that the motion of that mysterious red current which bears the whole
of life upon its bosom was not yet stilled forever. The hand was that of
Margaret Hayley, who had drawn the head of the half-drowned man upon one
knee while she kneeled on the bare stone with the other, and who seemed to
feel that if that man died his blood would be upon her head and upon her
soul! A dangerous position, Margaret Hayley, whether he lives or dies, for
the woman who but yesterday dreamed that she kept her early love still
undimmed in her heart, however the object of it might be clouded in shame
and banished from her presence forever! Is that new ideal found already,
and found in a man so wrapped in mystery that his very name has never yet
been spoken in your presence? Fie! fie! if this is the eternity of love,
about which lovers themselves have raved and poets worse raved in their
behalf, any time these past five hundred years!

There is no intention of mystifying this scene, or even of prolonging it.
Whatever might have been the danger, that danger was past, and the shadow
of death did not loom ghastly out of it. The vigorous shaking, rolling and
rubbing to which the inanimate Master Brooks Brooks Cunninghame was
exposed, under hands which proved themselves expert in that operation if in
no other, soon restored the breath to his nostrils, though it left him a
limp rag to be taken up in arms and carried away by his now recovered and
half-addled mother. There was a sharp cut upon his head, and the blood
flowed freely, but the wound had no depth or danger. The insensibility
which had fallen upon his preserver, induced much more as was believed by
the sudden chill of that ice-cold water acting upon a heated system, than
even by his long exertion in recovering the little fellow's body from the
bottom of the pool--this soon gave way beneath the continued rubbing
bestowed upon wrists and temples, and the warmth induced by the wrapping of
all the shawls and mantles in the company about his shoulders and feet. He
moaned once, only a few minutes after the efforts for his resuscitation had
been commenced, and a moment or two later opened his eyes and saw what face
bent over him most closely. Something else than the chafing and the
unaccustomed robes then sent blood to cheek and brow; and with a strength
which no one had believed him to possess he sprang to his feet, to sink
down again the moment after into a sitting posture but unsupported.

In that position he for the first time appeared to glance round upon the
company and to recognize the whole situation. Especially his eye fell upon
Captain Hector Coles, who stood at a little distance, his arms folded and
nothing in his appearance indicating that he had taken any part in the
labors of resuscitation, while his face looked undeniably saturnine and
ill-humored. Had the mere fact that the head of a half-drowned man lay for
a few moments on the knees of a lady supposed to be under his peculiar
protection, so much moved the gallant warrior of the Union army, or was
something more decided lying at the bottom of his observance? Perhaps words
already spoken during the late progress of this narration may have
indicated the state of feeling in the breast of the captain: if not, future
developments will have the duty of making plain all that may be yet
doubtful in that regard. At all events, something in that man's face gave
to the brown cheeks of "H. T." a warmer color than they had before
attained, and to his frame a strength which sent him once more to his feet,
throwing off the shawls and mantles which enveloped him, and standing
barefoot and in his shirt-sleeves, his hair yet plastered and dripping, his
garments yet clinging to his person, the most unpicturesque of figures, and
yet one of the noblest possible to employ the artist's pencil--a man fresh
from one of the great perils of disinterested benevolence.

Certainly Margaret Hayley saw nothing antagonistic to romance in that tall,
erect figure, half-draped though it was and shivering yet with cold and
weakness. It is not impossible that the dusky brown of the face glowed with
something of a sacred light, to her eyes--a subject for her waiting
hero-worship, after that sad feeling of an opposite character which it had
so lately been her duty to manifest. Nothing else than such an estimation
could well explain, in a woman of her overweening pride, movements which
took place immediately after, and which bore their fruit, at no distant
day, in placing her in a position of such terrible conflict with herself
that no calamity occurring beneath the waters of the Pool but might have
been reckoned a mercy in comparison.

Halstead Rowan, too sure of his admiration of the conduct of his new friend
to be in a hurry about expressing it, had done what his wounded hand did
not prevent his doing, by springing across the stream below and bringing
the discarded shoes and coat from the rock where they lay. All the rest,
except poor Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame, yet busy with her partially
resuscitated boy, crowded round the new hero of the hour to offer their
thanks and congratulations; but it was Margaret Hayley who took him by the
hand as he stood, unmindful of the scowl of Captain Hector Coles that
gloomed upon her, and said:

"I do not know, sir, by what name to thank you--"

"I believe I am right in calling you Miss Hayley," was the answer, in a
voice as yet somewhat weak and tremulous. "My own name is Horace Townsend,
and my business is that of a lawyer at--at Cincinnati." So we, like those
of the company who had noticed the initials without taking the trouble to
possess themselves of the whole name by the arrival-book at the office,
have the blanks filled at last, and may discard the use of the two
mysterious letters.

"I was only half intentionally the means, Mr. Townsend," the young girl
went on, "of plunging you into a situation of danger without the least
right to do so; and yet I do not know that I _can_ be sorry for the liberty
I have taken, as it may have been the cause of saving a life that would
otherwise have been lost, and of my witnessing an act of disinterested
generosity which I can never forget, or forget to honor, while I live."

"You do me altogether too much honor," was the reply, in a somewhat
steadier voice. "I have really done nothing, except to make an exhibition
of myself by my weakness. There was no danger to me in the water, for I am
a good swimmer and ought to be able to dive well; but I suppose that I
stayed too long under, for I could not find the little fellow at once, and
the chill of the water no doubt affected me, after getting warm in climbing
over those logs. That is all, and I really hope you will all forget that
the unpleasant affair has occurred, as I shall certainly do after I have
found a suit of dry clothes."

He spoke pleasantly, but with nothing of the rattling gayety which seemed
to characterize his rival of the day--the hero of the bear-stakes; and once
again while he was speaking, Margaret Hayley seemed strangely moved and
partially shuddered at something in the tones of the voice. As he finished,
he bowed and turned away, as if quite enough had been said, and the lady
also moved away a step or two and rejoined her escort. Halstead Rowan came
up with the coat and shoes, and as he dropped them on the rock at the feet
of Townsend grasped his hand with his own unwounded one, with a pressure so
warm and manly that it told volumes of respect and regard.

"_I_ am nowhere!" he said. "I dared you over that log; but you have gone
where I should not like to follow, and done it for something, while mine
was merely a prank. And by the way--" they were at that moment a little
apart from the others, and Rowan spoke low--"do you know where your head
lay when you came to?"

"Hush! for heaven's sake, hush!" said Townsend, quickly and with something
in his face that made the other pause instantly. The conversation, at that
point, was not renewed there and then.

A portion of the company had by that time commenced ascending the steps,
carrying the abated boy-nuisance and accompanying his mother. Townsend
managed to draw on the discarded shoes over his wet stockings, put on his
coat and accompanied the rear-guard with very slight assistance, enjoying a
continued walking-bath, but no doubt consoled for any discomfort by the
reflection that he had been where few men had ever plunged and come out
alive,--and perhaps yet more moved by some other reflections of a much more
mixed character.

An hour later, the whole party had reached the Profile House once more, and
Horace Townsend, as he named himself and as we must continue to name him in
deference to his own statement, was the happy possessor of a dry suit, a
slight headache and an eventual nap which left him fresh as if he had
bathed in the Pool as a hygienic measure. Master Brooks Brooks Cunninghame
needed longer renovating, but he came round during the afternoon, with the
fatal facility of those who are of no use in the world, and was quite ready
for supper. And what a buzzing there was about the Profile all the
afternoon, while those who had witnessed the affair at the Pool detailed
it, with additions, to those who had remained at the house, and those who
had not caught the name or address of the stranger ran to the book to
satisfy themselves, and speculations as to his married or single state were
indulged in, and the Cincinnati lawyer underwent, without his being
thoroughly aware of the fact, all the mental manipulations and verbal
remouldings incidental to any one who treads out of the common path,
whether creditably or discreditably, among the half idle and more than half
ennuyée habitues of a watering place.

One or two additional peeps at events of that afternoon must be taken,
before passing on to those of the evening, which were to prove quite as
momentous in some regards.

_Peep the first._ Margaret Hayley kept her chamber all the afternoon,
pleading headache and fatigue, while Mrs. Burton Hayley and Captain Hector
Coles "did" Echo Lake and talked very confidentially. A large part of that
time the young girl lay on her bed, her eyes closed but by no means
sleeping--thinking, thinking, thinking, until her brain seemed to be in a
whirl and all the world unreal.

_Peep the second._ At a certain hour in the afternoon, unknown then to the
other members of the Vanderlyn family but too well known to them
afterwards, as the sequel proved, Halstead Rowan, rapidly improving if not
indeed presuming upon his acquaintance of the morning, enticed Clara
Vanderlyn away to the ten-pin alley and inducted her into the art and
mystery of knocking down bilstead pins with a lignum vitæ ball, apparently
to the satisfaction of that young lady, who should certainly have held
herself above such an amusement of the athletic canaille. If the lady, with
two hands, beat her instructor with one, he was no more than justly
punished.

_Peep the third._ Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame, walking through one of the
corridors, heard two young ladies, accompanied by a gentleman, say:
"Patsey! oh, my poor Patsey!" in such dolorous tones and with what seemed
so meaning a look towards _her_, as tended to recall an unfortunate
exclamation at the Pool very forcibly to her recollection, and to put her
into a frame of mind the exact reverse of felicitous. This was not improved
by the discovery that Mr. Brooks Cunninghame had fallen into the company of
certain stage-drivers, at the bar, and had imbibed whiskey with them to an
extent which rounded his brogue but did not assure the steadiness of his
perpendicular or add to the respectability of his general demeanor.

And now to the event of the evening, which seemed eminently fit to close a
day so full of adventure that the movements of a dozen ordinary days might
have been compressed into it. Most of this, from reasons which will
eventually develop themselves, is to be seen through the eyes of one who
has been before called "the observer."

When Horace Townsend came out late from supper that evening, after a meal
at which the succulent steaks, the flaky tea-biscuit and the sweet little
mountain strawberries had not been quite so fully enjoyed as they might
have been with a little additional company at table,--harp, horn and violin
were again sounding in the long parlors, as they had been the evening
before, and much more attention was being paid to them than when the full
moon was their momentary rival. Perhaps not less than half the beauty,
grace and gallantry then assembled at the Profile, were gathered under the
flashing lights, dancing, promenading, flirting, and generally floating
down the pleasant stream of moderate watering-place dissipation. The
Russian "Redowa" was sounding from brass and string as he entered the long
parlor from the hall; and among the figures sweeping proudly by to that
most voluptuous of measures, he instantly recognized two whose identity
could not indeed have been very well mistaken under any circumstances. The
larger and coarser figure wore on one of its hands a glove several sizes
too large--one, indeed, that might have been constructed by some
glove-maker of the Titan period: Halstead Rowan was whirling Clara
Vanderlyn lazily around in the dance.

The strange introduction of the morning, then, had already produced its
effect, and the possible romance to be built out of that rescue was coming
on quite as rapidly as even a sensation novelist could have anticipated.
Horace Townsend, whose eyes seemed to be wandering in search of some face
or figure which did not fall under their view, but who had been gazing
with undisguised admiration, for some hours the previous day, on those of
this very Clara Vanderlyn--Horace Townsend thought, as he saw the manly arm
of Rowan spanning the pliant white-robed waist of his partner, that seldom
could the old illustration of the rugged oak and the clinging ivy be better
supplied,--and that if fate and fortune had set, as they too evidently
seemed to have done, an eternal bar between the two, they had predestined
to remain apart one couple whom the fitness of nature would certainly have
joined. His frank, hearty, manly energy, deficient in some of the finer
cultures and at times approaching to roughness, and her gentle, womanly
tenderness, with almost too much of delicate refinement, seemed mentally to
blend in the thought of the future and of the children likely to spring
from such a union, as physically stood in relief and pleasing contrast the
close-curled dark hair and the shower of waving gold.

Passing still further down the room, either in that quest which has before
been hinted at, or in the search for a vacant seat among the male and
female wall-flowers, Townsend came upon the mother of the young lady. Mrs.
Vanderlyn was standing beside a centre-table, under one of the chandeliers,
an illustrated book in her hand, and apparently absorbed in the
contemplation of some of the engravings after Landseer and Corbould. But
books have been known, many times in the history of the world, to be used
for the same purpose as fans or fire-screens, (or even spectacles, for that
matter), and looked over; and the lawyer felt a sudden curiosity awakened
to examine the _eyes_, especially as the lady was standing in such a
position as to command the dancers.

He was not at all disappointed in the surmise which he seemed to have
formed. The haughty matron had no eyes for her book, but really had her
gaze fixed, with a close pressure of the eye-balls against the brows, on
her daughter and Halstead Rowan. And no one who had only seen it under more
favorable circumstances, would have believed it possible that a face of
such matronly comeliness could be brought to look so harshly--even
vindictively. The eyes were literally fierce; and the mouth was set with a
firm, hard expression which brought the full lower lip perceptibly over the
upper.

Suddenly the observer saw the features relax and the whole expression
change. He turned instantly and half involuntarily, and saw that a
substitution had taken place in partners. Without quitting the floor, Miss
Vanderlyn had accepted the proffered hand of a young Boston exquisite who
was already rumored around the Notch to be the heir of a paternal half
million,--and was whirling away in another polka. Rowan was gone. A second
glance showed that he had not left the room, but that he stood far back in
one of the corners, alone and silent, and his eyes, heedless of the amount
of observation which their glance might excite, fixed in profound
admiration on the beautiful girl whom he had just quitted. Then the
expression of his face seemed for the moment to change, and the same
emotions might have been read there that had startled at least one of the
spectators the evening before at the piazza--the same emotions of
contending pride and abasement, hope and fear, but intensified now so that
there could be no mistaking their import.

At that stage Horace Townsend left the room, perhaps to pursue the personal
search which had so far proved unavailing. He, who had himself been
originally observing the young girl with such admiration, saw, or thought
that he saw, the materials for a very pretty if not a very painful romance,
in which the two would form the chief dramatis personæ. Two or three
conditions, he thought, were already evolved: an unmistakable mutual
interest--observation and dislike on the part of the aristocratic
mother--to be followed by eventual discovery on the part of the weaker and
yet more aristocratic brother--an unpleasant _eclaircissement_--coolness
born of the very warmth underlying--a parting in pleasant dissatisfaction
with themselves and each other--and perhaps a shadow of blended sweet and
painful memory over the whole of two after lives!

Then the lawyer passed out to the piazza and paced with measured step up
and down that promenade and the plateau in front, for perhaps more than
half an hour. He might have been entirely absorbed in the contemplation of
the possible fortunes of Chicago and Baltimore; and he might have found
matter for thought much more personal to himself. At all events the
starlight and the coming moon seemed to be company which he failed to find
elsewhere; and even the dusky shadows of the bears, deserted by their
friends of the sunshine and walking their weary rounds like sentinels,
possibly supplied something denied him by humanity. His step was that of a
man restless, absorbed and ill at ease; his head had fallen forward on his
breast; and once, when he was so far away from the loiterers on the piazza
that no ear was likely to catch his words, he muttered something that could
scarcely have found an application to the persons of the drama in the
parlor. That murmur ran:

"I suppose this is the most dishonorable action in my life--planning to
betray confidence and take an unfair advantage. Why did _he_ tell me so
much before he went to Europe? Pshaw!" and he put his hand to his brow and
walked on for a moment in silence. "I will _not_ go back--I _will_ try the
experiment--I _will_ win that woman, if I can, under this very name, now
that I begin to understand her weakness so well. And if I do--heavens, in
what a situation shall I have placed her and myself! And will she ever
forgive the deception? No matter!--let the future take care of itself."

Either the stars grew less companionable, then, at the thought that some
strange deceit was being wrought beneath them, or the soliloquist felt that
there yet remained something worth looking after within the parlor, for he
looked up at one of the windows of the second story, said: "Ah, no light
there, at last!" stepped back to the piazza and once more entered the house
and the dancing-room.

The music was still sounding as merrily as ever, and as he re-entered the
room a new set was forming. In the very midst of those who were preparing
to join it, full under the blaze of the central chandelier, stood Clara
Vanderlyn. She was for the moment motionless, and he had better opportunity
than before of scanning her really radiant loveliness. She wore a simple
evening-dress of white, with a single wild-flower wreathed in her bright
auburn hair and a single jewel of value set like a star at the apex of the
forehead, confined by a delicate and almost unseen chain of gold which
encircled her head. Frank Vanderlyn, in full evening-dress, was standing a
few feet off, in conversation with some young men with whom he had already
formed an acquaintance, and did not seem to be preparing to join the set. A
hurried glance around the room did not show that either Mrs. Vanderlyn or
Halstead Rowan was present.

The band struck up a schottische, and all began to take partners. At this
moment Mrs. Vanderlyn came through the door-way from the hall, sweeping in
with more of that pronounced haughtiness which seemed indexed by her face
and carriage, than any of the visitors at the Profile had before seen her
exhibit, and creating a kind of impression upon those near whom she passed,
that they were suddenly taken under proprietorship. She swept very near the
lawyer as he stood at the left of the door-way, and passing down the room
touched her son on the arm. And the lawyer could not, if he would (which
seemed not over probable) have avoided hearing the single word that she
uttered, almost in Frank's ear, and in a low, concentrated tone:

"Remember!"

Frank Vanderlyn nodded, with a supercilious smile upon his face, as though
he understood the direction; and the stately mother swept down the room and
partially disappeared among the crowd of quiet people below.

Clara Vanderlyn stood for the moment alone, as the band struck up. Whether
she had received and declined invitations to dance, or whether no one had
found the temerity to offer himself with the chance of refusal, seemed
doubtful, for she certainly appeared to have no partner. But as the first
couple moved forward to take their places, a tall form darkened the
door-way for an instant, and Halstead Rowan was again at the fair girl's
side, his face literally radiant with pride and triumph. There was no word
spoken at that moment, and it would seem that there must have been some
previous understanding between them, for her hand was instantly placed
within his arm when he offered it, and her face reflected his own with a
look of gratification that any close observer could not well avoid
noticing.

Both had taken a step forward to join the set, when an interruption took
place of so painful a character as at once to call the attention of every
one within hearing; and Horace Townsend, standing very near, had a sudden
opportunity to compare the reality with his unspoken foreboding of half an
hour before. Frank Vanderlyn suddenly left the group with whom he had been
conversing but a few feet away, stepped up to his sister, and before either
she or Rowan could have been aware of his intention, drew her hand away
from the arm of her escort, and somewhat rudely placed it within his own,
with a bold glance at Rowan and the words:

"Miss Clara Vanderlyn, if you wish to dance, your family would prefer that
you should select a different partner from the first low-bred nobody who
happens to fall in your way--a good enough ten-pin-alley companion,
perhaps, but not quite the thing in a ball-room!"

"Oh, brother!"

The face of the poor girl, so foully outraged, first flushed, then
whitened, and she seemed on the point of sinking to the floor with the
shame of such a public insult and exposure. She might indeed have done so,
under the first shock, had not the arm of Frank supported her. The next
instant it was evident that all the pride of the Vanderlyns had not been
exhausted before her birth, for she jerked away her arm from its compulsory
refuge, and stood erect and angry--all the woman fully aroused. Her glance
of withering contempt and scorn, then directed at the ill-mannered
stripling who called himself her brother, was such a terrible contrast to
the sweet and almost infantile smile which rested on her face in happier
moments, that it would have been no difficult matter to doubt her identity.

As for Halstead Rowan--at the moment when the cruel act was done and the
insulting words were spoken, he turned instantly upon the intruder,
evidently failing to recognize him in the sudden blindness of his rage. His
right hand, though the injured one, clenched as it might have done under
the shock of an electric battery, and Townsend saw him jerk it to the level
of his shoulder as if he would have struck a blow certain to cause regret
for a lifetime. But he had no occasion to interpose, for the outraged
girl's "Oh, brother!" came just in time to prevent the commission of the
intended violence. Instantly his hand dropped; Clara Vanderlyn's expression
of angry contempt, easily read under the full glare of the chandelier,
chased the fierce rage from his face if it did not root out the bitterness
from his heart; he bowed low to the sister, cast a glance upon the brother
which he did not seem likely soon to forget; and in another moment, passing
rapidly between the few who surrounded the door-way, he touched Horace
Townsend forcibly upon the arm, nodded to him with a gesture which the
latter readily understood as a request to follow, and the two passed out
from the parlor, the hall and the house.

It is not easy to describe the scene in the parlor which followed the
_denouement_ that has been so feebly pictured. The music sounded on, but
the set remained unformed and no one seemed to heed it. The room was
instantly full of conversation in regard to the strange event, more or less
loud in its tone. Frank Vanderlyn, calculating upon the sympathies of a
company principally composed of wealthy and fashionable people, looked
around him as if for approbation of what he had done, but did not appear to
receive it. It was not difficult for him to read in the faces near him that
the sympathies of the whole company were with the insulted person, most of
the members of it, if they had no other reason for the feeling, remembering
the event of the bear-stakes in the morning and thinking that if the
Illinoisan was to receive any thing from the Vanderlyn family that day, it
should have been gratitude instead of insult. Made painfully aware of this
state of feeling, the young man paled, bit his lips, then passed rapidly
out of the room and disappeared, leaving his sister still in the attitude
of outraged sensibility and mortification, which she retained, uttering no
word to any one and not even casting a glance around the room, until Mrs.
Vanderlyn, who had apparently constituted herself the reserve force for the
attack upon her daughter's dignity which Frank had so gallantly led, swept
up from below and led her unresistingly away up the stair-case to their
apartments.

The set was finally formed, and a few more figures were danced in the
parlor of the Profile that evening; but the painful incident just recorded
had dulled the sense of enjoyment, and the company thinned out and
eventually dispersed to earlier beds than they might have found under other
circumstances.



CHAPTER XV.

     HOW HALSTEAD ROWAN ARRANGED THAT EXPECTED DUEL--TEN-PINS
     VERSUS BLOODSHED--SOME ANXIETY ABOUT IDENTITY--THE "H. T."
     INITIALS, AGAIN--A FAREWELL TO THE BROOKS CUNNINGHAMES--AN
     HOUR ON ECHO LAKE, WITH A RHAPSODY AND A
     STRANGELY-INTERESTED LISTENER.


This chapter must be unavoidably as fragmentary, not to say desultory, as
some that have preceded it at considerable distance, the course of events
in it seeming to partake in some degree of the broken, heaped and
heterogeneous quality of the mountain rocks amidst which they occurred.

It has been seen that Halstead Rowan, quitting the room in which he had met
with so severe a mortification, touched Horace Townsend on the arm and made
him a signal to follow, and that the latter obeyed the call. Of course this
obedience was a matter of courtesy that could not well be refused, and yet
it was accorded with a feeling so painful that it would scarcely have been
asked had the torture been foreseen. Rowan, as the lawyer knew, had been
insulted before a company of mark and numbers, in so deadly a manner that
more than usual forbearance would be necessary to forgive the outrage; and
the insulted man belonged, as the lawyer also knew, to a class of Western
men not much more prone than those of the South and Southwest, to smother
down a wrong under good-feeling or expediency. He had refrained from
striking the insulter on the spot; but that forbearance might have been
merely the effect of a recollection that ladies were present, and the one
lady of all among them; and Horace Townsend no more doubted, during the
moment that elapsed while the two young men stepped into the reception-room
and secured their hats from the table, that he was being called upon in the
sacred name of friendship to act in an affair that would probably cost the
life of one or both the antagonists, than he questioned the fact of his own
existence. It is doubtful whether he did not believe, before the affair was
concluded, that so strange a task had never been set for his friend, by any
man incensed to the necessity of mortal combat, since the day when duelling
proper had its origin in two naked savages going out behind their huts with
knives and a third to look on, for the love of a dusky she-heathen with
oblique eyes--down through all the ages, when Sir Grostete set lance in
rest and met Sir Maindefer in full career, over a little question of
precedence at the table of King Grandpillard; when Champfleury and St.
Esprit, beaux of the Regency of Orleans, with keen rapiers sliced up each
other like cucumbers, between two bows and a dozen of grimaces, because
one did not appreciate the perfume used by the other; until Fighting Joe of
Arkansas and Long Alick of St. Louis culminated the whole art of single
combat by a little encounter with rifles, followed by a closer embrace with
bowies, at one of the Mississippi landings, instigated by the unequal
division of the smiles of Belle Logan, of Western Row, Cincinnati. All
which means, if the reader has not entirely lost the context, that the
course pursued by Halstead Rowan, as a combatant, was eventually found to
be something out of the common order.

"You saw that, of course--I know that you did!" said rather than inquired
Rowan, when they had reached the piazza and were out of hearing of any of
the promenading groups.

"I did," answered Townsend, with some hesitation and a wish that he could
deny the fact and thus escape the duties certain to be forced upon him.
"Yes, I saw it all, and it was most disgraceful. But I hope--"

That intended lecture was lost to the world, as so many others have been;
for Rowan interrupted him:

"Are you poor?"

"No, I cannot say that I am, in money!" was the surprised reply.

"Were you ever?"

"No--I must answer in the negative a second time. I have never been what
the world calls poor, since I can remember."

"Then you do not know how it feels," said the Illinoisan. "I am poor--I
have never been rich, and I do not know that I have ever really wished to
be so until a few moments ago. I wanted to buy a puppy, so that I could tie
a stone to his neck and drown him; but I felt that I had not money enough."

Townsend, still surprised and in a good deal of doubt whither the
conversation was tending, murmured something about the fact that however
decided the insult of the brother had been, evidently the sister did not
share in the feeling.

"She? oh no, heaven bless her brown eyes!" he replied, rapidly and
earnestly, while the other could see, in the light of the now fairly risen
moon, that there was a strange sparkle in his own dark orbs. "As for the
rest--well, heaven need not be particular about blessing them--that is all!
But this gabble is not what I drew you out here for. I want you to do me a
great favor, at once, and I ask _you_, because I seem to be better
acquainted with you, after a very short time, than with any other person
just now at the Notch."

"Now it is coming--just what I dreaded!" said Townsend to himself; but he
answered very differently, in a feeble attempt to stave off the trouble.

"Than _any_ other person?"

"Hold your tongue!--you know what I mean!" was the reply. "Answer my
question, yes or no--are you the man upon whom I can depend, to do me an
immediate personal service that may involve some sacrifice of bodily
comfort and perhaps of feeling?"

"I hope so--yes!" answered Townsend. "But before you take any steps in this
matter--"

"Conditions already?" asked Rowan. "I thought it was to be an unconditional
yes or no!"

"Well, it is!" said Townsend, apparently satisfied that expostulation would
after all be useless.

"Enough said!" replied Rowan, catching him by the arm. "Come along with me
to the alley, then, and roll me not less than five games of ten-pins."

"But the business you wished me to do?" asked Townsend. "If it is to be
done at all--"

"Why, confound the man!--what ails you? _That_ is the business!"

"To roll you five games of ten-pins?"

"Exactly! Why, what else should it be? Oh, I see!" and Rowan chuckled out a
low laugh from his great throat. "I understand your tragic face, now. You
thought that I wanted you as a friend, to--"

"To challenge Frank Vanderlyn--precisely what I thought," said the lawyer,
"and I consented to act because I thought that I might be better able than
some other person to prevent any serious result."

"To shoot _her brother_, merely because he is a fool?--Oh, no,
Townsend--you could not think _that_! Duelling is murder nearly always, and
folly always when it is not a crime; and if I should ever be driven into
another duel, be sure that it would not be with an inexperienced boy who
probably does not know half so much about a pistol as at pen-knife or a
tooth-pick."

"You are a true man, as well as a sensible one, and I honor you!" said the
relieved lawyer, grasping him by the hand, and his face at the same time
wearing a look, which, though unseen by the other, seemed actually to
express personal gratitude.

"I do not know about the 'true man,' though I have tried to be so,"
answered Rowan, as they neared the door of the ten-pin alley. "But I
suppose that perhaps I am the oddest mortal on the globe, and that may
answer the same purpose. And now you are dying to know why I wish to roll
ten-pin balls at this particular moment? Simply because I need some way of
working off this excitement that might lead me to commit a violent act if
it did not find that very harmless physical vent. I have tried the
experiment before, and I know what ten-pins are with a man of fiery
temperament. Here, boy, set 'em up!"

The alley was alone, except as to the sleepy boy; but the loud call of the
Illinoisan soon put the machinery of the place into operation and the
momentous games commenced. No matter how they progressed or how they ended
in regard to winning or losing: it is only with some of the conversation
which took place while the match was under way, that we have at present to
do.

"You are a lawyer and belong to Cincinnati, you said," observed Rowan, as
he paused a moment to wipe his brow after thundering down half a dozen of
the ponderous globes.

"Yes, I said so," answered Townsend; but he did not enlarge upon the
answer, as he was obviously expected to do; and one or two other questions,
having the same scope, being parried at every point beyond the mere name,
occupation and place of residence, the Illinoisan began to suspect that
there must be some motive for reticence, which he was at least bound to
respect while he held the catechumen impressed in his own service. With
reference to himself, a theme upon which the conversation seemed to turn
very easily, (many of the stout, bluff, frank, go-ahead Rowans whom one
meets in society have the same characteristic, fault or the reverse),--he
manifested no corresponding nervousness; and one moment strangely silent as
if under the influence of some thought which kept him too busy for speech,
the next he would rattle on almost as glibly as the polished balls rolled
down the pine floor.

"You called yourself odd a little while ago, and I fancy that if you _are_
odd you have the excuse of very wide experience for a man of your age,"
said Townsend, a little later in the quintette of games, and certainly
displaying a bit of the prying nature of the lawyer, if not the subtlety of
the Jesuit, in the suggestion. "To tell you the truth, I cannot quite place
you in profession. A while ago I thought you possibly a steamboat-captain,
but you have just upset that hypothesis by proving that you are nearly all
the while on land; and yet you seem to be perpetually flying about from one
town to another. What the deuce _are_ you?"

"Oh, you cannot place me, eh?" laughed Rowan, who was getting fairly
soothed and mellowed by his creditable substitute for duelling. "Well, I am
a conductor on the ---- Railroad, which you know has its terminus in
Chicago, and I am off on a couple of months leave of absence from the
Company. As to experience, I suppose that I may have had a little of it. I
have been a civil-engineer, employed at laying out some of the worst roads
in the West, and of course laying them out the worst. Have crossed the
plains to California twice, and back again, including a look at Brigham and
his wives at Salt Lake City, very nearly getting my throat cut, I fancy, in
that latter operation. Did a little at gold-mining, for a short time, but
soon quitted it out of deference to a constitutional backache when
stooping. Have been here at the East a good many times, and once lived in
New York, (a great deal worse place than Salt Lake City, and with more
polygamy!) for a twelvemonth, telegraphing. Once ran down to Santa Fe with
a train, and came very near to being speared by the Comanches. Then
concluded to stay among those amiable savages for a while, to learn to
ride, and spent six months in the study. No man knows how to ride a
horse--by the way--except an Arab (I take the word of the travellers for
that, as I have never been across), a Comanche or an Arapahoe, or some one
they have taught. There, have I told you enough?"

"Humph!--yes," answered the lawyer, eying the strange compound with
unavoidable admiration and no little wonder. "Yes, except one thing."

"And that is about this scar?"

"I confess that my curiosity lay in that direction!" laughed Townsend. "I
think that scar has not been long healed--that you have been taking a turn
in the present war."

"Yes, a short one," said the Illinoisan, "and that scar is one mark of it.
I was a private in the ranks of the Ninth Illinois for a few months last
year, and got pretty badly slashed with a Mississippi bowie-knife, with
Grant, two or three days before they took Fort Donelson. _They_ took
it--_I_ did not--I suppose that I did not amount to much at about that
period, with a little hack in the jugular that came pretty near letting out
life and blood together!"

Before this conversation had concluded, and long before the specified five
games were accomplished, half a dozen persons from the hotel, male and
female, came strolling in. Among them was Captain Hector Coles, with
Margaret Hayley upon his arm. They stood at the head of the alley, looking
at the game; and Townsend, as he was about to make one of his most
difficult rolls, recognized the lady and her slight nod and was
sufficiently agitated by the presence of that peculiar spectator, to miss
his aim entirely and roll the ball off into the gutter--a fact which did
not escape the quick eye of the Captain.

Directly, as the game still went on, some conversation occurred between the
lady and her attendant, which, if overheard, might have produced a still
more decided trembling in the nerves of the ten-pin player.

"I _know_ that I have seen that face before, more than once, and not in
Cincinnati," the Captain said. "I believe that he is a Philadelphian, and
that his name is no more Horace Townsend than mine is Jenkins."

"What motive could any one possibly have for coming to a place like this in
disguise and with a feigned name?" asked Margaret Hayley.

"Humph!" said the Captain, in a tone by no means good-humored, though it
was low, as the previous words had been, "there are plenty of men who find
it necessary to disguise names and faces now-a-days, for the very best of
reasons."

"Traitors?" asked the lady.

"Yes, traitors!" answered the Captain.

"And _that_ reason he has not, I know!" said Margaret. "The man who uttered
the words that _I_ heard last night, is no traitor, and I do not think that
I should believe the very angels of heaven if they should come down to make
the assertion!"

"You seem strangely interested in the man!" said the Captain, his voice
undeniably querulous.

"And I have a right to be so if I choose, I suppose!" answered the lady, in
a voice that if it was not querulous was at least signally decided.

"Oh, certainly! certainly!" was the reply, coming out between set teeth.

Silence fell for a moment thereafter, except as the crashing balls made
music among the pins. Then it was interrupted by Rowan calling out to the
lawyer, who seemed to stand abstracted and forgetful of the game.

"Townsend!"

No motion on the part of the person addressed, or any sign that he heard
the utterance.

"Townsend! I say, Townsend!"

Still no motion, or any recognition whatever of the name; and it was not
until the Illinoisan, who had just been making three ten-strikes in
succession with his left hand, and who was naturally anxious to call the
attention of his opponent to the exploit, touched him on the shoulder and
literally shouted the word into his ear, that he paid any attention
whatever.

"Me? Oh!"

"Did you notice that?" asked the keen-witted Captain, returning to the
charge, as a repulsed soldier should always do. "His name is _not_
Townsend, and he has not been long in the habit of being called by it; for
it was forgetfulness that made him wait for it to be repeated three times!"

There was triumph in the tone of the Captain, now; and there was every
thing but triumph in that of Margaret Hayley as she leaned heavily on his
arm and said:

"Pray do not say any thing more about it! That man is nothing to me. Let us
go back to the house."

"Wait one moment! I am going to do something to satisfy myself. Do you see
that handkerchief? Sometimes initials tell a story that trunks and
hotel-books do not."

The lawyer had thrown off his coat upon the chair behind him--a blue
flannel coat, half military, which both remembered to have seen him wear
after changing clothes from the accident at the pool. From the
breast-pocket a white handkerchief hung temptingly almost half way out, and
it was towards that that the hand of the officer dived downward. The owner
of the coat was some distance away, following up one of his flying balls,
and was not likely to see the examination made of his personal property, if
it was done with quick hand and eye.

"Hector Coles, you would not do _that_!"

But she spoke too late. With the stereotyped lie on his lips that has been
made the excuse for so many wrongs and scoundrelisms during all this
unfortunate struggle, "All is fair in war-time!" the Captain whipped out
the handkerchief, turned it quickly from corner to corner, glancing it to
the light as he did so, and then as quickly returned it to the pocket, long
before the owner had returned from watching the effect of his shot.
Margaret Hayley had not intended to join in the reprehensible act, but she
involuntarily did so, and she as well as the officer saw the initials "H.
T." elaborately embroidered in red silk in one of the corners. It is not
too much to say that a pang of joy went through her heart at that
refutation of the Captain's mean suspicions and that evidence to her own
mind that the man in whom she had become so suddenly and unaccountably
interested was playing no game of deceit and treachery. "H. T." were the
initials, Horace Townsend was the name that he had given her, and there
could be no doubt whatever of the truth of his statement.

Captain Hector Coles did not seem by any means so well satisfied with the
result of his researches. Something very like a scowl answered the look of
indignation upon Margaret Hayley's face, as he said:

"Humph! well, he has been keen enough, it seems, to mismark his
handkerchief too!"

"And you are ungenerous enough, Captain Hector Coles, first to do an
improper action and then to find fault with your own discomfiture!" was the
reply, as the lady once more took the proffered arm of the officer and left
the alley, the combatants still pursuing the concluding game of that most
memorable match of left hand against scanty practice. Whither one of them
went, an hour or two later, may possibly be discovered at no distant period
of this narration.

       *       *       *       *       *

There were stormy times, that night, in the chamber of connubial bliss
occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame; and poor Caudle, belabored as
he was in the imaginative mind of Douglas Jerrold, never suffered as much
in one hour as on that occasion did the ex-contractor, ex-Alderman and
ex-purveyor of mettled steeds for the United States cavalry service. Shoddy
was in an ill-humor, and Shoddy had a right to be in an ill-humor. Every
thing had gone wrong, specially and collectively, from the moment of their
entering those fatal mountains. Mishap the first: Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame
had fainted and been called "Bridget," before company. Mishap the second:
Master Brooks Brooks Cunninghame had overeaten himself and come near to
leaving the whole family in mourning as loud as his own wails. Mishap the
third: Master Brooks Brooks had badgered the bears, in plain sight of all,
caused a serious accident, and been visited, both loudly and silently, with
objurgations not pleasant to remember. Mishap the fourth: Mrs. Brooks
Cunninghame had been herself badgered, worse than the bears, by an
irreverent scamp who threw discredit at once upon her foreign travels and
her geography. Mishap the fifth: Master Brooks Brooks had tumbled into the
Pool, been nearly drowned, and come out a limp rag requiring some washing
and several hours wringing before recovering its original consistency.
Mishap the sixth: Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame, in the agitation of that serious
accident, had called the dear boy by a name, that of "Patsey," which would
be likely to stick to him, in taunting mouths, during his whole stay at the
Profile. Mishap the seventh: Mr. Brooks Cunninghame had fallen in, that
day, with the before-mentioned certain stage-drivers, who consented to
drink brandy, wine and punch at his expense, enticing him thereafter into
low stories of the days when he drove a horse and cart about town, and
leaving him eventually in a state of fuddle amusing to their hard heads
and harder hearts but by no means conducive to his standing in fashionable
watering-place society. Mishap the eighth: Miss Marianna Brooks Cunninghame
had passed two evenings in the parlor and one day among the guests in their
rides and walks, bedizened in successive fineries of the most enticing
order; and not one person had desired the honor of her acquaintance out of
doors, asked her to dance in the parlor, or paid her any more attention
than might have been bestowed upon a very ungraceful lay-figure carried
around for the showing off of modes and millinery.

All this in thirty hours; and all this was certainly enough to disturb more
equable pulses than those which beat under the coarse red skin of Mrs.
Brooks Cunninghame.

And when, that night while the moon was high in heaven and nearly all the
guests had left parlor and piazza to silence after such an eventful
day--while poor Marianna in her chamber wept over the cruel neglect which
had made mockery of all her rosy anticipations, and Master Brooks Brooks
moaned out at her side his petulant complaints born of ill-breeding, fright
and weakness,--when Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame opened upon her not-yet-sobered
husband the battery of her tongue, and accused him of being the author of
all the mishaps before named, those with which he had nothing to do quite
as much as those in which he had been really instrumental,--then and there,
for the moment, the Nemesis of the outraged republic was duly asserting the
power delegated to her by the gods, and Shoddy, in the person of one of its
humblest representatives, was undergoing a slight foretaste of that eternal
torture to be hereafter enforced.

Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame, on that occasion, declared her intention of not
remaining another day among "such low people," and she further intimated to
Mr. Brooks Cunninghame that if he did not learn to behave himself in a
manner more becoming to his high position (or at least the high position of
his wife and children!) she would "take him home at once and never bring
him out agin into respectable society while her head was warrum."

At the end of which exordium the berated husband not unnaturally remarked,
in a brogue nearly as broad as it had ever been:

"And fwhat the divil did ye come trapesin here for at all at all? Ye'd be
doin' well enough at home, if ye'd only sthay there, Bridget--I mane Julia.
Ye'r no more fit to be kapin company wid dhe quality, nor meself; and I'm
as much out of place here as a pig 'ud be goin' to mass! Sure Mary Ann 'il
niver be gettin' a husband among these people wid dhe turned-up noses, and
poor little Pat'll be dhrouned and kilt and murthered intirely! You'd
betther be gettin' out of this as soon as ye can, and I'd be savin' me
hard-earned money!"

"The money you have cheated for, ye mane, Pat Cunningham," said Mrs.
Brooks, who when alone with the object of her devoted affection and in a
temper the reverse of amiable, could unveil some of the household skeletons
of language and history quite as readily as he. "Pretty things them was
that ye sold for horses to the government! and there's a good dale of the
money ye made when ye was Alderman, that they'd send ye to the State Prison
for if they knowed all about it!"

"Thrue for ye, Bridget!--and who but yer oogly self put the worst o' thim
things into me head, dinnin' at me o' nights when ye ought to been
aslape?--answer me that, will ye? And now ye'r sthruttin' like a peacock
wid dhe money I made to plase ye, and divil the bit can ye kape a civil
tongue between yer lanthern jaws. Take that and be hanged" [or some other
word] "to ye, Bridget Cunningham!"

"Pat Cunningham, ye'r a coarse, miserable brute--a low Irishman, and money
can't make any thing else out of ye! Away from this we go to-morrow
morning, mind that, before ye'r drunk again with yer low stage-drivers and
thim fellers."

A snore was the only reply. Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame had secured the last
word, according to her usual habit; but she had only done so at the
expense of not having her rejoinder heard by the ears for which it was
intended.

The lady kept her word, in the one important particular. Those who shared
in the early breakfast of the next morning, before the starting of the
stages, had the pleasure of seeing the whole family at table all bedizened
for the road--Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame red-faced, stately and snappish; Miss
Marianna subdued and unhappy, with red rings around her eyes, as if she had
been crying all night; Mr. Brooks Cunninghame with his coarse face yet
coarser than usual and his eyes suggestive of a late fuddle, piling away
beef-steaks, eggs and biscuits into the human mill, as if he had some
doubts of ever reaching another place where they could be procured to the
same advantage; and Master Brooks Brooks, the freckles showing worse than
ever on his pale and sickly-looking face, whining between every two
mouthfuls, and vociferating: "Mommy, mommy, I've got a pain!" and, "Mommy,
mommy, I tell you I want some more o' them are taters and gravy!"

They were pleasant company at the meal, very!--as they had been at all
previous times when beaming on the horizon of other travellers, and as
people out of place always prove to be to those who surround them! But the
meal came to an end, the trunks that held the remaining finery of the two
ladies were safely stowed, the stage-drivers bellowed: "All aboard!" and
the three more precious members of the Brooks Cunninghame family were
stowed within the coach without personally causing more than ten minutes of
hindrance, while Mr. Brooks Cunninghame himself, with a bad cigar in mouth
and a surreptitiously-obtained bottle of raw whiskey in the pocket of his
duster, occupied a seat on the top and felt, for the time, almost as happy
as he had once done when surmounting his loaded dirt-cart.

So Shoddy, or that particular manifestation of it, at least, rolled away
from the Profile House. Whither, is no matter of consequence, for the
incidental connection of the Brooks Cunninghames with this veracious
history is concluded with the exit of that morning. But let no one suppose
that the travelling world was thereafter rid of them, or of others to whom
they only supply a type and index, during the remainder of the summer. For
did not some of us meet them at Niagara later in the season, resident at
the Clifton as the most aristocratic (because on monarchical ground) of all
the houses, Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame a little more querulous and redder in
the face than when at the Notch; Mr. Brooks Cunninghame a little trembly,
as if whiskey and idleness were beginning to tell upon his system; Miss
Marianna still un-cavaliered and hopelessly unexpectant in the wreck of her
silks, laces, and jewelry; and Master Brooks Brooks pulling the curtains
and drumming on the keys of the piano with his unwashed fingers, pending
his greater opportunity to frighten a pair of horses into plunging over the
bank, or to relieve the future of a dreary prospect by himself falling off
Table Hock?

       *       *       *       *       *

There was another departure from the Profile House the same morning.
Whether the event of the night before had done anything to bring about that
consummation, or whether previous arrangements and the pressure of time
dictated such a movement--Halstead Rowan and the two friends in his company
were among the passengers by one of the coaches that went through to the
Crawford, bearing such as contemplated an immediate ascent of Mount
Washington from that direction. It may be the pleasant duty of writer and
reader to overtake them at the Crawford, at a very early period. Nothing
more can now be said of the situation in which the Vanderlyn imbroglio and
the Townsend friendship were left, than that the departing man saw nothing
of the lawyer after they parted on the evening previous, and that his early
stage rolled away long before the luxurious Vanderlyns were likely to have
opened their eyes at the summons of the first gong rolling through the
corridors to awaken them for the regular breakfast.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was nearly noon of that morning of the departures--a cloudless, glorious
morning, the sun just warming the chill of the Notch to a pleasant May air,
and not a fleck of mist to dim the view of the peaks on the very extreme
verge of the line of vision, when Horace Townsend strolled down the half
mile of road northward from the Profile, to Echo Lake, intent upon entering
on those mysteries which specially belong to that haunted little sheet of
water--the mysteries of the boat, the horn, and the cannon. He was alone,
as he had been from the first moment of his coming to the Notch, except as
the newly-formed intimacy between Halstead Rowan and himself had
temporarily drawn them together. He seemed to have formed no other new
acquaintance, but that was to be, perhaps, formal and distant; and there
was no certainty that the incident would not add to rather than take away
from any feeling of positive loneliness which had before oppressed him.

As he turned down the by-road shooting sharply away to the right, with the
Lake glimmering silver in the sunlight through the trees, there was a great
crash of sound, a deafening reverberation from the rocks of Eagle Cliff,
hanging immediately over the Lake, a fainter following, and then another
and another, dying away among the far-off hills in the infinite variety of
the highland echo. There were already visitors at the Lake; and the
factotum who blended the triple characters of keeper, guide, and boatman,
had been discharging the little old cannon on the wharf, as a crowning
proof to some party with whom he was just finishing, of the capacity of
_his_ lake for dwarfing all the travelled ones' recollections of Killarney
and the Echo Rocks of Superior.

Such was indeed the fact, and as the lawyer emerged upon the Lake
immediately at the wharf, he met the party who had "done" the Lake
strolling away, while the boatman was re-arming himself with his long horn,
and beginning to turn his attention to certain new-comers, a part of whom
had already taken their seats in the big paddle-wheeled boat of which the
steam was to be supplied by cranks and hand-labor, for a trip around the
pond with the dignified name, and a new development of the capacities of
echo. He had indeed dropped the stipendiary sum in currency into the hand
of the factotum, and was about stepping into the boat to join the party
already miscellaneous, before he discovered that any acquaintance was
numbered among them. When he did so, for one instant he hesitated as if
about to defer his trip, then muttered below his breath the few words:
"No!--I must take my chances--now as well as ever!" stepped in from the
little wharf and took one of the few empty seats remaining near the stern
of the boat. He sat looking backward, and he was consequently brought face
to face with the three occupants of the stern seat, who were necessarily
looking forward. Perhaps his fate _was_ upon that stern seat, for its three
occupants were Mrs. Burton Hayley, her daughter, and Captain Hector Coles.

Margaret Hayley paled a little, then flushed the least in the world and
finally smiled a proud but pleasant smile and returned a nod and a
"good-morning," in response to Townsend's comprehensive bow and salutation,
which were intended to take in all three. Captain Hector Coles sat bolt
upright, as if he had been riding his horse on parade, and moved no inch
from his perpendicular as he returned the greeting in so formal a voice
that it constituted no recognition whatever; and Mrs. Burton Hayley, to
whom the lawyer had not been introduced, had some excuse for the
supercilious but puzzled stare with which she honored him. The young girl
saw the glance, and remembered the position.

"Oh, ma, I forgot," she said, introducing. "Mr. Townsend, of Cincinnati,
whose acquaintance I made yesterday when he saved the poor little boy from
drowning, at the Pool."

Her eyes were fixed very closely upon the face of Townsend as she said
these words, and so were those of Captain Hector Coles. If either saw, or
thought that they saw, a momentary red flush pass over the dark
countenance, coming as quickly and fading as rapidly as one of the flashes
of the Northern Lights,--did they see any corroboration of the suspicions
of the evening before, or was that flush merely the natural expression of a
sensitive man whose good deeds were mentioned in his presence?

Mrs. Burton Hayley nodded, as she could not avoid doing under such
circumstances, but there was very little cordiality in the nod; and there
was something quite as lofty and uncongenial in the manner of the words
with which she accompanied it:

"I remember hearing my daughter speak of Mr. Townsend's having been made
the means, under Providence, of preventing an accident."

The ostentatious Bible yet lay upon its carved stand, oh, Mrs. Burton
Hayley, did it not!

No farther conversation followed at that moment, though there may have been
one, and mayhap two, in that mixed boat-load of fifteen or twenty, who
would have been glad to pursue it under more favorable auspices. Certain it
is that the lawyer kept his gaze upon the proudly sweet face of Margaret
Hayley, quite as steadily as propriety would by any means allow, and that
her face answered back something more of interest, under the shade of her
wide leghorn jockey, than either of her immediate companions might have
been pleased to see. She was interested in her new acquaintance, beyond a
question: was she something more? Answer the question--oh, heart of
woman!--could it be possible that the by-gone love, once so truly a part of
her very being, had already so faded, in one short month, that a feeling
warmer than friendship could centre around a mere stranger of two days'
beholding? Was that "ideal," once believed to have been found, then lost
again, presenting itself in another and still more enticing shape, to make
constancy a myth and womanly truth a by-word? Small data, as yet, from
which to judge; but stranger things than this have chanced in the rolling
years, and the faith of humanity still survived them!

Out on the Lake by this time the burlesque upon a steamboat had floated,
and the sheet of water lay under as well as around the passengers--perhaps
a quarter of a mile in width and a mile in length, shut in on the side of
approach by the woods, and beyond on all sides by the eternal hills. Never
was silver jewel dotting the green bosom of nature more beautiful--never
one more sweetly nestled away near the very heart of its mountain nurse.
The proverbial winds of the Notch for once were still, and only a gentle
ripple stirred the glassy surface here and there as a breath touched it
like the skimming wing of a wild bird. The meridian sun lay lovingly on the
side and crest of the mountain rising eastward from the edge of the water,
touching its bald, scarred brow with ruddy gold; and if the first on the
cliffs nodded at times, they nodded sleepily with the very expression of
repose. Spirit of calm, delicious quiet!--was there ever a spot more truly
sacred to thee, than Echo Lake at such moments, when a few gentle, loving
hearts, close bound to each other and shut in from the world, are beating
with slow pulses as the life and centre of the great mystery of nature?
Other boat-loads than that of this July noon, have grown quiet beneath such
a feeling, as the boatman ceased his paddling, the boat drifted lazily on,
lips grew silent, eyes closed, and human thought floated away on a very sea
of dreams.

They had swept over, in rapt silence for the last few moments, until they
lay beneath the very brow of the eastern mountain. Then that silence was
broken by the boatman rising from his seat and blowing a long, steady blast
on his six-foot tin horn, in size and shape like those used on the Western
canals, but sadly dinted by careless use and frequent falling. The company
were reminded, then, that they were floating on Echo Lake and no stream of
the land of faerie. The long, low note died on the car, and an appreciable
instant of silence followed. Then it came back from the brow of the
mountain above, a little louder than before, and yet a little mellowed by
distance. Another instant, and the same sound reverberated from the
opposite hill, the back of Eagle Cliff. Were there still more echoes to be
added to the two that had already made the place notable? Yes, a third came
back from the range that sloped away from the head of the Lake,
northward--a little fainter, and broken now; and then the more distant
hills caught the sound, as if each had a right, which it jealously claimed,
to some portion of that greeting from the human breath; and far as the eye
could trace the blue peaks rising behind each other through the gaps
beyond, the ear could catch a corresponding reverberation,
fainter--fainter--fainter,--till it died away in a drowsy murmur and
silence followed. Then the horn passed from hand to hand and from mouth to
mouth, some of the gallants perhaps forming kisses of the touch of red lips
which had preceded theirs; and some blew round, full strains that awakened
admiration, and some made but a melancholy whistle which excited merry
laughter. Among the many experiments tried upon that horn, there must have
been some horrid discords startling the Dryads in the wooded shades up the
mountain, where the gazers sometimes seemed to see the echo leaping from
cliff to cliff and from bough to bough. But they soon came willingly back
to the practised notes of the boatman; and some of the party shut their
eyes and dreamed, as his quick, sharp peals rang merrily up among the
hills,--of noble lord and gentle lady, hunting in the days of old, and of
the bugle blasts of outlaws sounding through gloomy Ardennes or merry
Sherwood. Anon he would end his strain with a long, low falling note, and
they heard some old cathedral hymn wailing through solemn arches and
bending the spirit to reverence and prayer. But through all that succession
of sounds the hard, dry, practical, exigeant Present was rolled away and
the romantic, easy Past stood in its stead; so easily does the mind, like
the body, cast off its burthen, whenever permitted, and lie down, if only
for a moment, upon the lap of indolence!

Scarcely a word had been spoken, in the boat, for some minutes, under the
influence of that spell of the hour. But the normal condition of humanity,
when awake, is to keep the tongue in motion; and not even the spell of Echo
Lake could keep that busy member still beyond the customary period.
Comparisons of other echoes, in our own and other lands, were made, and as
the boatman rowed on to complete the circuit of the Lake, the conversation
became nearly general.

"Echo Lake looks very smiling and quiet to-day," said one of the
company--the same old habitue of the mountains who had commenced the
conversation the day before with Halstead Rowan, at the Pool. "But I have
seen it look very differently, sometimes when a gale came roaring and
singing up through the Notch, and the saucy little thing got a black frown
upon its face, reflected from the leaden sky and the wind-tossed trees up
yonder. Echo is blown away, at such times, as any one would be who dared
the perils of this sea of limited dimensions; and you would be surprised to
know how hard the wind _can_ blow just here, and what little, tumbling,
dangerous waves of rage the dwarf can kick up, trying to make an ocean of
itself."

"The most singular view that _I_ ever had of it," said another, "I caught
half way up the Cannon Mountain one afternoon. It looked like a wash-bowl,
and I had a fancy that I could toss a piece of soap into it from where I
stood! But I knew that it must be Echo Lake, for somebody was blowing a
horn; and I believe there has never been an hour of daylight, since
creation, when a horn has not been blowing somewhere in the neighborhood."

"There is one more point of view in which to see it," said Horace Townsend,
who had not before joined at any length in the conversation. "I mean by
moonlight, for any one who is part night-hawk."

"Ah, have you seen it so?" asked the last speaker, with interest.

"Yes--last night," answered the lawyer.

"As often as I have been here," said the first old habitue, "I have never
come down to see it by moonlight. What is it like?"

"Like something that I cannot very well describe," was the answer. "You had
better all come down and see it for yourselves, before you leave the
Notch."

"Still, you can give us some idea," pursued the old gentleman.

Horace Townsend hesitated and was silent for a moment, when Margaret Hayley
said, her eyes just then fixed full upon his: "I _think_ you can, Mr.
Townsend, if I am not mistaken in the voice that I heard speaking for the
Old Man of the Mountain, by the same moonlight, not many evenings ago."

The dusky cheek of the lawyer was full of red blood in an instant. He had
been overheard, then, in his half-mad rhapsody to Rowan and himself. And
_she_ had heard him, of all women!--_she_ had spoken with such frankness,
not to say boldness, and that frankness appreciation at least, if not
admiration! He might have uttered something more about "taking his chances"
then, and had full warrant for the self-gratulation!

"I do not suppose that I can tell you either what I saw or felt," said
Townsend, when that momentary flush had died away a little from his face.
"I will try, however. I had been rolling ten-pins till past eleven, and it
must have been midnight when I strolled down towards the Lake. I was in
hopes that I should find no one here, for I wished to see it alone as well
as by moonlight; and I had my wish. I saw no one and heard no one, on my
way to the Lake or while here; and I do not suppose that any foot but my
own pressed the damp green velvet that bordered the edge, or that any eye
except my own and the All-seeing one that looks down over all the world at
all midnights, saw the placid sheet lying in its solemn repose, with the
shadows of the great cliff yonder reflected on its bosom, and here and
there a little ripple as a puff of wind sighed through the branches, kissed
the silver surface and passed over."

The eyes of the speaker were full of humid light as he spoke, and at least
one of the company marked the influence which seemed to be upon him--a mood
of high imagination, sometimes seen in the ardent lovers of nature when
revelling in their chosen study, and though less dangerous not less decided
than the madness which habitually fell upon Saul. There was something
fascinating in it, to all who saw and heard, even to those who held an
intuitive dislike to the seer: what must the fascination have been to
Margaret Hayley, who remembered one so unlike in personal appearance and
yet so like in voice and apparently in habits of mind, loving nature so
intently and describing it with the same fervor, while his love for _her_
made a sacred undertone to all and completed the charm of look and word!

The lawyer needed no further urging, but went on:

"The little dock there, with the boats moored beside it, and the hut where
our friend here keeps his horn and cannon,--all lay in a melancholy quiet
which struck me like death--as if those who frequented them had gone away
at some nightfall years ago, like the workmen who left their trowels in the
mortar of unfinished Pompeii on the morning of its destruction,--never to
return again and yet ever to be waited for, while the earth kept its course
in the heavens. I was alone, and I suppose that imagination ran riot with
me and made me partially a maniac. The hush was so awful that I dared not
break it, even by a loud breath. I saw the Indians there, under yon
sweeping trees to the left, whose branches bend down and almost kiss the
water--saw an Indian canoe lying there, faces within it smeared with
war-paint and the pointed arrow ready to twang from the bow-string. I
expected to hear the war-whoop every instant--expected it, perhaps not in
my human mind but in that other and more powerful mind for which we are
none of us quite responsible. Then I saw--yes, I was sure that I saw the
dusky shadow of a robber flitting along from pine to pine, far up on the
side of the cliff there, silent and dangerous as death, and ready to drop
down on the first living thing that passed beneath him. Then I saw fiery
eyes through the branches, and thought that the panther and the catamount
that lurked in these tangled woods two hundred years ago, divided
possession once more with the Indians and were prowling about for some late
banquet. I do not think that it was fear that I felt, for I would not have
gone away if I could, any more than I could have gone away if I would; but
it appeared to be the very silent haunt of nature in her hour of rest,
wherewith nothing but the wild and the savage had any business; and it
seemed impossible to throw aside the idea that even the tread of a
civilized foot must be a sacrilege that only life could atone. Then there
was a sudden plunge from the bushes into the water, a few yards up the
bank, and a ripple following some large dark object swimming away towards
the other shore. This was more real, and the feeling of awe began to pass
away, for I knew that the swimmer must be a water-rat or otter that had
been paying a midnight visit like myself and was now going homeward by the
cool and refreshing marine route. That was the first noise I had heard, but
others followed, for an owl began to hoot over yonder in the bushes and a
young eagle--I suppose it must have been a young eagle--indulged in a
scream from the top of the Cliff, where I believe he has a habit of
nesting. Then the supernatural and the imaginative rolled away after they
had held me an hour or two, and I was simply alone at two o'clock or a
little later, beside Echo Lake, only half a mile from the bed that had been
all that time waiting for me. I took the warning of the night-owl and the
eagle, who no doubt intended to order me off as an intruder, and strolled
back to the house. That is all, and perhaps quite enough of such rambling
nonsense as it is!"

"Rambling nonsense?" Whatever the other members of the company may have
thought, evidently Margaret Hayley did not so regard it as she leaned
anxiously forward, the presence of others apparently forgotten, her eyes
fascinated in a sort of strange wonder by something in the face of the
speaker, while her mind seemed not less singularly under the control of the
utterance itself.

Five minutes afterwards the parody on a steamboat touched the little wharf
again and the company disembarked. Five minutes after that secondary period
they separated from the close communion into which they had been
transiently thrown during the preceding half-hour, many of them never to
meet again in the same familiarity of intercourse, and perhaps some of
them, though as yet inmates of the same abode, never to see each other's
faces again in life! Such are the meetings and the partings of summer
travel and watering-place existence, to which the nameless rhymer no less
truly than touchingly referred when he spoke of those friendships quickly
made and as quickly broken:

    "----In hostels free to all commands
      Save penury's and pity's;--

    "In common rooms, where all have right
      To tread with little heed or warning,
    And where the guests of overnight
      Are gone at early morning;--

    "By tables where we sit at meat--
      Sit, with our food almost untasted
    Because we find some vacant seat
      From which a friend has hasted;--

    "In parlors where at eve we sit,
      Among the music and the dancing,
    And miss some lip of genial wit,
      Some bright eye kindly glancing.

    "--------the haunted chambers left,
      That almost choke us as we ponder,
    And leave _us_ quite as much bereft
      As dearer ties and fonder."



CHAPTER XVI.

     CLOUD AND STORM AT THE PROFILE--SIGHTS AND SENSATIONS OF A
     RAINY-DAY RIDE TO THE CRAWFORD--HORACE TOWNSEND AND HALSTEAD
     ROWAN ONCE MORE TOGETHER--UNEXPECTED ARRIVALS--A CAVALCADE
     OF MISERABLES--AN ASCENT OF MOUNT WASHINGTON, WITH
     EQUESTRIANISM AND WAR-WHOOPS EXTRAORDINARY.


Calms at sea are not more proverbially treacherous than pleasant mornings
in the mountains; and long before that day closed which had opened so
auspiciously, the heavy clouds came driving up through the Notch with the
south-east wind. By nightfall a storm was inaugurated. Thenceforward, for
two days, excursions to the Cannon, to Bald Mountain, to Mount Lafayette,
or to any other of the points of scenery so plentiful in the Franconia
Notch, and in which excursions all the visitors, however slightly
acquainted, are more or less closely thrown into speaking intercourse with
each other,--were things to be thought of but not attempted. The stages
came in with smoking horses and moisture dripping alike from the hat of the
driver and the boot of the coach; but few passengers arrived or departed.
The bears walked sullenly their little round, or retired periodically to
winter quarters in their narrow kennels. The valleys were filled with
driving mist, varied by heavy down-pouring rain, and the mountains hid
themselves sullenly from view, so that sometimes not even the brow of Eagle
Cliff, hanging immediately over the house, could be distinguished through
the dense clouds that swept down to the very roofs. Fires became prevalent,
and those so fortunate as to possess rooms where the birchen wood could be
set ablaze, remained closely sequestered there, dozing, or playing cards or
backgammon, or once more turning over the leaves of books from which all
the novelty had long before been extracted. Desultory groups met at meals,
even the eaters coming down sluggishly. Some of the men patronized the
billiard-room or the bowling-alley, but they rarely found lady partners or
spectators, as in sunnier days. Even the hops in the parlor at evening were
thinly attended, the weather seeming to have affected alike the nerves and
muscles provocative of dancing, and the strings of the harp, violin and
piano. Those who happened to possess copies of "Bleak House," and who
remembered the marvellous phenomena of rainy weather existing at a certain
time in and about the domain of Sir Leicester Dedlock, read the description
over again and thought that nothing could be more beautifully applicable to
the experience of storm-stayed sight-seers at a caravanserai among the
mountains.

During those two days of storm and sluggishness, Horace Townsend, merely an
excursion acquaintance of the Hayleys and Captain Hector Coles, and not
such an intimate as would be likely to be invited to backgammon or chat in
one of their private rooms,--never once met Margaret Hayley more nearly
than within bowing distance when passing in or out of the dining-room or
the parlor. One or both may have desired to continue the acquaintance
without quite so much of distant familiarity; but if so, one or both knew
the antagonistic influences surrounding them and did not think proper to
raise an arm for buffeting the waves of separation.

There were not less than a dozen persons remaining at the Profile, who had
the ascent of Mount Washington yet to make at an early day, and who
intended to make it in the good old traditional way of horseback from the
Crawford instead of acknowledging modern utility and bowing to the
destruction of all romance by going up in carriages from the Glen. Some of
these, beginning to be pressed for time, saw the steady rain and mist with
impatience and found very little comfort in the assurances of the
hotel-keepers, guides and stage-drivers, that the clouds were not likely to
break away under a week, at least.

Monday brought this feeling to a culmination, and that morning, spite of
all predictions, the impatient dozen ordered a stage and determined to
drive over to the Crawford; bespeaking clear weather on the morrow, or on
the next day at farthest, for their especial accommodation. Horace
Townsend, whether wearied by circumstances which placed him "so near and
yet so far" in his acquaintance with Margaret Hayley, or really touched
with the prevailing madness for forcing Mount Washington to smile when that
great mountain wished to be sullen,--Horace Townsend joined the malcontents
and formed one of the closely-packed stage-load that on Monday morning
rolled off from the Profile on their way to the Crawford.

The voyagers were pursued by no small number of jokes and jeers from the
piazza, as they drove away, on the folly of plunging out into a storm to
accomplish an impossibility. But if any one of the number felt for a moment
sore in mind and faint-hearted, they were soon consoled. Most of them
(mixed male and female, though the former predominating) were true
Nature-lovers who had recognized that however Fame and Fortune sometimes
play cruel tricks upon their most ardent votaries, the kind Mother seldom
failed to unveil her bosom at the coming of one of her true children. They
had faith in the future, and that faith was at once repaid in the glory of
the present.

For those who have only made the twenty-five miles of stage-ride between
the two places, in fair weather, can have no idea of the peculiar charms of
that day of capricious rain and floating mist. Closely shut in the
lumbering coach, and well enveloped in shawls and dread-noughts and
blankets, but with the windows open to allow looking back on the Franconia
range they were leaving,--they enjoyed at intervals, during all the earlier
portions of the ride, such splendid glimpses of cloud-land as never fall to
the lot of mere fair-weather travellers.

At times the shroud of mist which had enveloped them would roll away, as
they ascended the high land rising from Franconia towards Bethlehem; and
then they would have the peaks of the Franconia range flecked and dotted
with swales and waves and crests of transparent white that seemed
alternately to be thousands of colossal sheep lying in the mountain
pastures,--and again great masses of the purest and softest eider-down
which had floated there and rested, from millions of birds filling the
whole air above. Mount Lafayette at one moment, as some of the voyagers of
that lucky morning will well remember, seemed to be capped and crowned with
a wreath of untrodden snow, miles in extent and hundreds of feet in
depth--such as no mountain ever wore upon its brow as a coronet, from the
first morning of creation.

Exclamations of pleasure filled the coach, and jest and appreciative remark
blended in pleasant proximity. "I shall always remember the air of this
morning," said one, "as an atmosphere of bridal veils," and more than he
treasured up the comparison as one worth remembering. "See here, Cora!"
said another, to the only child in the coach, who nestled half asleep on
the shoulder of her mother, pointing her attention meanwhile to a little
pyramidal hill separate from the mountain range and at that point relieved
against it: "See here, Cora! There is a little baby mountain!" "So there
is!" answered Cora, with a world of drollery in her young eyes, "I wonder
how long before it will grow to be as big as the rest of them!" Whereupon
Cora was voted to have the best of the argument, and manhood once more
worshipped childhood.

Away past Bethlehem and along the Ammonoosuc, an exaggeration, in its
rocks, upon all the other mountain streams, with its few inches of water
finding way among a perfect bed of boulders, and making the mere word
"navigation" suggest so droll an image in that connection as to draw a loud
laugh from the whole coach-load. Then past a couple of fishermen, heedless
of the rain, rod in hand and creel at side, standing on the boulders in the
middle of the river and practising the mysteries of the Waltonian art,
report alleged with more "flies" assisting than those which they carried in
their pocket-books! Then on, with the mist again closed down heavily, past
the White Mountain House, that once, before the days of glory of the Glen,
supplied the only so-called "carriage-road" to the top of Washington.

A mile or two more, and there was a space clear from trees on the left. As
the coach swept up to it the mists seemed to shrink low for a moment. A
heavy, dark line loomed on the sky, with almost the true sweep of a wide
Gothic arch, a little sharpened at the top. "How graceful!" was the
exclamation of one. "How high!--look!--why that is higher than any of the
others that we have seen!" exclaimed a second. "Mount Washington," calmly
said a habitue who caught a glimpse through the curtain from the back
corner of the coach; and every voice joined in the cry.

The habitue was right--cloud and mist had rolled away for an instant, just
at the opportune moment, and they had caught that magnificent first near
view of the monarch, throned amid his clouds, glorious in the grace of form
and the awe of majesty--seeming to bridge the very space between earth and
heaven! Some of those favored gazers will dream of that first glance, years
hence, when they have been straining the mental vision upward, in waking
hours, to that unattainable and dim which rises above the mists of common
life. Some of them will throne the great mountain in their hearts, and
stretch out pleading arms to it in remembrance, in the dark days of shame
and sorrow,--as if the treading of their feet upon its rocky pinnacle would
be indeed an escape from the world--as if they might become sharers,
indeed, in the majesty of its great solitude. Some of the travellers felt
the solemnity of the hour and the scene, that day; and there was not even a
sneer or a word of misappreciation for the adventurous genius who quoted,
heedless of all that made it inappropriate:

    "Mount Blanc is the monarch of mountains:
      They crowned him long ago,
    On a throne of rocks, in a robe of clouds,
      With a diadem of snow!"

There was a brief ride remaining, then, till they rolled in over a level
road, through thick overhanging woods, to the Crawford House in the White
Mountain Notch. The mist had closed almost hopelessly down for the time,
and they could only see occasional glimmers through it of the rough sides
of old Mount Webster, dark-browed and massive as its namesake. It was only
in the brighter air of morning that they were to take in the whole location
and see in front, to the right, Mount Willard, wooded on the side exposed
to view, but bald and rugged farther down the Notch, like the Cannon at
Franconia; with Mount Jackson to the left in front, beyond it the still
higher peaks of Mount Webster, and rising at the left in the immediate
foreground the long wooded slopes of Mount Clinton, over which the foot of
every pilgrim to Mount Washington from the Crawford must make its first
ascent.

The dull weather had driven almost all the visitors within doors, at the
Crawford as at the Profile; but as the splashed coach rolled up there was
at least one recognition--that of Halstead Rowan by Horace Townsend, the
former, without any apparent reference to the humidity of the atmosphere,
lying at lazy length on three chairs on the piazza and occupied with a
cigar and a cheap novel. He had "shed" (that word seems to express the fact
better than any other) his over-sized glove from his wounded hand, and
seemed entirely to have recovered the use of that important member.

New acquaintances become old and ripen into friendships, very soon when all
other surroundings are totally strange; and the two men, each so odd in his
way, greeted each other as if they had been friends for a decade instead of
intimates of less than a week. There may have been some bond in common, in
the guess which each could make of the thoughts and entanglements of the
other, calculated to force that friendship forward, even if it would have
progressed more slowly under other circumstances.

The first inquiry of Townsend, as they shook each other warmly by the hand,
was:

"Been up Mount Washington yet?"

"Not _this time_!" answered the other, significantly. "The fog has been
nearly thick enough to swim in, ever since I have been here, and I do not
know, if I had been as good a swimmer as you, Townsend, whether I should
not have tried going up by water, as our friend Mrs. Brooks Cunninghame
went up the Alps; but by land the thing has been impossible."

"Many waiting to go up?--or do they nearly all go around to the Glen, this
season?" was the next inquiry.

"No, there are a good many sensible people left," was the reply, in the
same tone of vivacious rattle. "Think of going up Mount Washington in a
carriage! It is worse than making a mill-race out of Niagara, or
approaching Jerusalem, as they will do one of these days, I suppose, amid
the rumble and whistle of a railroad-train."

"Don't undervalue your own employment!" said Townsend.

"Oh, I do not," was the reply. "Railroad trains, as well as mills, are very
good things in their places; but I suppose that a prejudice will always
exist in favor of the fiery chariot instead of the balloon, as a means of
making ascents into the celestial regions."

Horace Townsend laughed. "But you have not yet told me how many are
waiting, or when you are really going up."

"Oh, there must be nearly or quite twenty of them, moping around the house,
running out to look at the sky every ten minutes, and asking the clerk and
the guides questions that they are about as fit to answer as a
prairie-chicken to solve a problem in geometry! As to when we are going
up--do _you_ know?"

"_I_ am going up to-morrow, whether any one else goes up or not," said the
lawyer. "And by the way, I have bespoken a clear day for that especial
occasion."

"Have you? Thank you! Then I suppose we can _all_ go up!" replied the
Illinoisan, as if the information had been the most serious in the world.
"By the way--how are they all, over yonder!"

There was something very like a blush on the face of the questioner, and
there was something varying very little from that phenomenon on the brown
cheek of the other as he answered:

"I have not seen much of either," (what did he mean by "either," a word
peculiarly applying, in common parlance, to _two_?) "but I believe that
they are well."

"Still at the Profile?"

"Yes, and likely to remain there, for any thing that I know to the
contrary."

"Any news of any kind? Any more accidents or startling events?"

"None--yes, there is one startling event. The Brooks Cunninghames came away
the same day that you left. Have you got the old woman here?"

"Here? heaven forefend! No!" was the response. Then he added: "Why, by
Jupiter, Townsend, you must be a wizard or in some kind of collusion with
Meriam! See!--I'll be hanged if there is not the top of a mountain! It _is_
clearing away! Hurrah for Mount Washington!"

He darted in at once from the piazza to the office, and Townsend, who had
not yet even registered his name as an arrival, followed him. Most of the
other passengers from the Profile were by that time registered and
scattered away to their rooms for sartorial renovation.

A separate book was kept at the office, as usual at such places, over the
head of each page of which was printed: "Horses for Mount Washington," and
in which, every day, those who wished to secure horses and guides for the
succeeding or the first favorable day, registered their names, with the
number of animals required and how many of them were to be ridden by
ladies. A good many queer autographs might be observed in that book and
some of its predecessors, for there was almost always some mischievous
clerk behind the counter, amusing himself by telling immense stories to
some of the other initiated, just as the un-initiated were coming up to
register their names,--about the perils of the ride and how near he or some
other person had come to falling over precipices of indefinite thousands of
feet. This description of jocular practice very often shook the nerves of
young travellers at the moment of booking, even when the frightened person
was too far committed or too shame-faced to abandon his project; and there
is no doubt that the original collection of chirography thus secured would
prove only less interesting, on exhibition, than the original draft of the
Declaration of Independence, or----the Emancipation Proclamation!

Several names had already been booked at hap-hazard on the day in question;
and others of the storm-stayed, aware of the prospect of a "clearing-up,"
were by that time flocking around the book to secure their places. To the
collection already made were very soon added the signatures of Townsend and
Rowan, who intended, as neither would have a lady in charge, to make a
great part if not all the trip together, while the two friends of Rowan,
who were also to be of the ascending party, would "pair off" in the same
manner.

This done, and supper-time approaching, Rowan, who had been lounging about
in a sort of wet-weather box-coat undress which would have driven an
ultra-fashionable to desperation, ran off to his room to make himself
somewhat more presentable; while Horace Townsend, after patronizing the
barber-shop for five minutes and providing himself with that inevitable
cigar, stepped out once more upon the piazza to glance at the weather and
satisfy himself how kind Mother Nature really intended to be on the morrow.
He had but just emerged from the door when a close light carriage with two
pairs of foaming horses--horses and carriage well covered with
mud,--whirled around the corner of the Crawford and drew up at the door.
The driver sprung from his seat and the carriage door was opened. Out of
it stepped first Frank Vanderlyn, then Mrs. Vanderlyn and her daughter,
who, as it afterwards appeared, had left the Profile after dinner and
driven through post in that manner, under the impression that the next
morning might after all be a fine one, and anxious (two of the three, at
least) to join any party which would be likely to make the ascent.

"Whew!" said the lawyer to himself, between two puffs of his cigar, as he
recognized the new-comers without their seeming to be aware of his
presence. "Here is more of the Rowan romance and there may be more ten-pins
necessary. I wonder whether that haughty woman and her son have any idea of
the presence here of their friend from Chicago, and whether they have
driven at that slapping pace through the mud, especially to be in his way!
I wonder, too, whether Rowan's room is on the front, so that he has seen
their arrival. I have half a notion to go up and apprize him of it; and
then I have a whole notion to let him find it out for himself, and finish
my cigar before supper comes in to spoil it."

Whatever might have been the amount of knowledge of the movements of Rowan
possessed by the Vanderlyns, and whether in making a new entry on the books
the old names were or were not always looked over,--certain it is that half
an hour afterwards the lawyer found two more names booked for the
ascent--those of "Mr. Francis Vanderlyn" and "Miss Clara Vanderlyn," the
mother evidently not intending to expose herself to a fatigue which had
lost its novelty, but to await their going and return at the Crawford.

It was very evident, to Townsend, eventually, that Rowan did not know any
thing of the new arrival until he came down to supper. The Vanderlyns had
taken their places at the table, very nearly opposite the lawyer, and
returned with a nod of pleasant recognition the bow which he felt compelled
to give them under the circumstances. Halstead Rowan, as he came in, took a
seat on the same side of the table with the new-comers, and it was only as
he gave the customary glance down after he had seated himself, that he
seemed to recognize the sudden addition to the social circle. When he did
recognize it, the lawyer (that man seems to be eternally watching the
other, does he not?) caught one instant's blank surprise on his face, and
he even put up his hand to rub his eyes, as if he fancied himself dreaming;
but the surprise seemed to fade in a moment, and he pursued his supper with
that fine appetite which is usually vouchsafed to such physical men. He
left the table before the Vanderlyns had finished, and apparently without
their having observed him. Townsend rose immediately and followed him, with
a smile upon his face of which he was himself unconscious. He saw the
Illinoisan go into the office and do precisely what he [the lawyer] would
have laid a heavy stake that he would do--step to the counter and look over
the list of "Horses for Mount Washington." Then a queer expression, nearer
to malicious pleasure than any thing the other had before seen upon his
face, flitted over it as he recognized the names. It might have been merely
satisfaction--it might have been defiance blended with it in equal
proportions; but at least it seemed to be capable of translation into words
like these, which the very lips moved as if they would utter:

"So, Baltimore people, you are running yourselves into my way again, after
I had gone off and left you alone, like a good fellow! You had better be
poorer and less proud, or I richer; or you had better keep the distance
which I put between us!"

A few moments after he approached Townsend with a laugh of deprecation and
invited him to another game of ten-pins, which seemed to be quite as
necessary to him when in a good humor as when in a rage. The invitation was
accepted, and the important contest began once more. It would have been a
very unequal one, for Rowan had fully recovered the use of his right hand,
but that the alleys themselves had something to say in the matter. Worse
apologies for alleys than those of the Crawford no man ever saw; and such
a thing as a "ten-strike" had never been recorded on the black-boards, as
made on those long lines of uneven and floor-laid planks. Both the
combatants had quite enough to do in getting down a "frame" with three
balls; and for some time not a word outside of the game escaped either.

Suddenly, and when he had rolled two of the three balls at the defiant
pins, Rowan stopped short with one of the lignum-vitæ globes, of about the
size of a human head, in his hand--twirling it the while as if it had been
a paper balloon,--and said, in a short, curt tone:

"They have come!"

"Yes," answered Townsend, not pretending for a moment to be doubtful about
the meaning of the personal pronoun. "Yes, I saw them at supper."

"Going up with us to-morrow, I believe!" added the Illinoisan.

"Ah, indeed, are they?" was the jesuitical inquiry of the lawyer.

"Yes, and they will have good company, won't they!" was the response.

Then he bowled away at the ten-pins, more energetically than ever, and with
something in his manner and the nervous jerk of his arm, that once more
recalled Townsend's idea of his feeling, while in the act, like shooting
some one down a mountain precipice like a pebble-stone, or sweeping away a
fate like a cobweb with one of those polished globes of iron wood.

Only a couple of games, and then they went in to bed with a mutual reminder
that the motto in the morning would be "to horse and away!" and that above
all things they must be watchful against that phase of indolence vulgarly
known as "oversleeping." The house was nearly silent, all the prospective
riders having retired for the night, and soon slumber fell upon that hive
of human bees wandering in search of the honey of unlaboring pleasure,
gathered under the roof of Gibb and Hartshorne at the Crawford.

Fell, but not too deeply, for that which is to be brief has a right to be
intense; and the hours of repose were relentlessly numbered. Neither
Townsend nor Rowan need have been anxious about waking in the morning; for
such a blast and roar of horrible sound as swept through the corridor at
about seven, A. M., from the big Chinese gong in the hands of an
enthusiastic negro who probably felt that he had no other opportunity of
making his requisite "noise in the world," would have been sufficient to
awaken any thing short of the dead! For once, every one obeyed the summons
while anathematizing the mode, and the breakfast-table was soon surrounded.

Here, those who labored under some kind of indefinite impression that the
summit of Mount Washington was somewhere beyond the Desert of Arabia--that
nothing eatable or drinkable could ever be discovered on its top--and that
the more they ate the better able they would be to endure the fatigue of
the ascent,--made vigorous attacks on the steaks, eggs and chickens, and
drank coffee, milk and cold water without limit. Those better advised (and
the fact is here set down as a bit of practical experience worth
heeding),--those who knew the painful effect of attempting to climb a
mountain when gorged to repletion (the traveller, not the mountain--the
mountain is always full of "gorges")--those, we say, confined themselves to
an egg or two and a small slice of rare steak, and drank lightly.

When the party one by one dropped out from breakfast, the scene in front of
the house was at once picturesque and singular--worth remembering by those
who shared in it or who have shared in one similar,--and worth the feeble
attempt at verbal daguerreotype which may do something to preserve it
against that day when the Crawford decays and Mount Washington is either
levelled off or ascended by means of a locomotive or a dumb-waiter.

More than twenty names--somewhat more than half of them belonging to
ladies--were on the book for the ascent; and a corresponding number of
horses were scattered over the broad open space in front of the door. All
were saddled and bridled; but among them moved half-a-dozen guides in rough
coats, thick boots and slouched hats, inspecting and tightening the girths,
looking to the cruppers and bridles, and paying especial attention to the
animals provided for the female portion of the cavalcade, for whose safety
they ever hold themselves and are ever held by the hotel-proprietors,
peculiarly responsible.

By way of back-ground to this singular scene, under a clump of trees to the
right walked two full-grown black bears (no mountain resort can be
thoroughly complete without its bears!)--chained and surly, ever keeping
their weary round and grunting out their disapprobation at being confined
to such narrow quarters without an occasional naughty youngster for lunch.

But what a spectacle was presented when the mount was ready and the riders
had all emerged from the door of the Crawford! Were these the belles and
beaux of previous days, captivating and being captivated by perfection of
raiment as well as charm of face and grace of figure? If so, never had such
a metamorphosis taken place since long before Ovid. Every man wore some
description of slouched hat, brought in his baggage or hired in the hotel
wardrobe,--bad, very bad, atrocious, or still worse, and each tied down
over the ears with a thick string or a handkerchief. Coarse and old
trowsers were turned up over heavy boots; and the roughest and coarsest of
box-coats that could be provided were surmounted in the majority of
instances by striped Guernsey shirts still rougher. All the dilapidated
gloves and coarse tippets that could be mustered, with a few shawls and
blankets, completed the equipment of a set of men who certainty looked too
badly even for brigands and seemed the enforced victims of some hideous
masquerade.

But if the men looked badly, what shall be said of that which should have
been the fairer portion of the cavalcade? Salvator Rosa never dreamed of
such objects, and Hogarth would have gone stark mad in the attempt to
depict them. Ringlets were buried under mob-caps and old woollen-hoods, and
smothered in bad straw hats and superannuated felt jockeys, tied down in
the same ungraceful manner as those of the men. Hoops had suddenly ceased
to be fashionable, even in advance of the sudden Quaker collapse in the
cities; and every shape, bulky or lank, showed in its own undisguised
proportions--here a form of beauty, there a draped lamp-post, and yonder a
bedizened bolster. In short, the very worst riding-dresses possible to
achieve seemed to have been carefully gathered from all the old-clothes
shops in the universe; and if the men were the ugliest brigands of the dark
souled Italian painter, the women were the drollest witches that ever
capered through the brain of the master-dramatist.

And yet there were sparkling eyes showing occasionally from under those
hideous bonnets, that perhaps looked the brighter for the contrast; and it
is not sure that one or two of the sweet auburn curls of Clara Vanderlyn,
which had strayed away from their confinement and lay like red gold on the
neck of her shabby black riding-dress, could ever have shown to more
bewitching advantage.

Every one laughed at the appearance of the other, as the mount was taking
place, and as Hartshorne, of the Crawford, who seemed to have measured the
capabilities of every horse and calculated the weight and skill of every
rider, called off the names from the roll-book, and gave place to each in
turn.

Of the material of the mount, it is only necessary to specify three or four
of the horses, which have to do with the subsequent details of that
eventful excursion. Miss Vanderlyn had a neat little black pony, apparently
very careful in step, and an "old-stager" at ascending the mountains. Her
brother Frank rode a tall bay, of high spirit and better action than any
other horse on the ground. Rowan had asked Hartshorne (some of the others
heard him, with a sensation of genuine horror) to give him the
worst-tempered horse in the stable; and as he was known to be an old
habitue of the mountains, he had been accommodated according to request. So
far as could be discovered by his action, his horse, a bay of fifteen and a
half or sixteen hands, with blood, foot and bottom, would kick, bite,
strike, run away, shy to one side, and do every thing else wicked and
unsafe that should taboo a horse from being ridden at all,--except stumble,
from which latter fault he was remarkably clear. Townsend was accommodated
with a gray mare of moderate size and a dash of Arab blood, that had been
unused for nearly a month from having nearly broken the neck of one of the
proprietors, on his personal allegation that he was at least a fair rider,
and that the breaking of his own neck would be the least damage that could
be inflicted on any member of the party.

Thick morning mists still hid the tops of Mount Webster and Mount Willard,
visible from the house, and hung amid the heavy woods of Mount Clinton,
although the storm had really passed away with the night,--as at nine
o'clock, all mounted, the guides took their places, one at the head of the
cavalcade and the others scattered at intervals through it, and the whole
line moved off up the mountain. It should be mentioned here, however, that
Townsend (the observer again) saw during the mount the only recognition
which took place between the two principal persons of his outside
drama--Halstead Rowan and Clara Vanderlyn. Frank was mounting his horse,
after having assisted his sister to her saddle, when Rowan brushed by her
on his vicious bay, very near her and to the left. He saw their eyes meet,
and saw Rowan bend so low that his head almost touched the neck of his
horse. Clara Vanderlyn replied by a gesture quite as mute and quite as
unlikely to be observed by any one not especially watchful. She nodded her
head quickly but decidedly, and threw the roughly-gloved fingers of her
left hand to her lips. That was all, and of course unobserved by Frank
Vanderlyn, who may or may not have been aware that the man whom he had
insulted was a member of the ascending party; but it was quite enough,
beyond a doubt, to set the blood boiling in the veins of the Illinoisan
with all the fury of the water surging up in flame and smoke in the Iceland
Geysers.

Rowan and Townsend had places assigned them near the middle of the line,
but as the cavalcade began to move, the human demon of unrest was missing
from his place. He was to be seen at the end of the piazza at that moment,
talking to Hartshorne, and no doubt making a few additional inquiries as to
the character of the amiable animal he bestrode. The lawyer called out to
him to "Come on!" but he answered with a wave of the hand and a shout:

"Go ahead! don't wait for me! I will be with you directly!"

Through the thick woods of Mount Clinton they swept up, over a bridle-path
so rough as to have made the most laborious if not the most dangerous
walking--over great boulders of stone lying in the very path, and
apparently impossible to get over or around--over patches of corduroy road
utterly defying description, except to the men who isolated Fort Donelson
and planted the Swamp Angels in the marshes of Charleston--over and through
gutters and gulches of slippery stone and more slippery mud--but ever
ascending at a painful acclivity. The horses breathed heavily; and their
riders, in the thick and foggy air, did little better. They caught
occasional glimpses through the trees, down the sudden slopes at the left,
of the thick mist rolling below, but could see nothing else to remind them
of the height they were attaining; and as the dense fog swept in their
faces, and the trees dripped moisture on them when they swept beneath their
branches, and the path grew more and more desolate and difficult, they grew
silent, the whole cavalcade, apparently by common consent. There are
aspects in which Nature looks and feels too solemn for the light word and
the flippant jest; and the man who cannot be awed beyond his ordinary mood
when standing under the edge of the sheet of Niagara, or beside the sea
when it is lashed into resistless fury, or in gale and mist on the bleak,
bare, desolate mountains of the North, should never insult the grand and
the terrible by going into their presence!

And yet all persons, who have true reverence in their hearts, are not
always awed beyond themselves, even in the most impressive of situations:
as witness, to some degree, the incidents following.

They had surmounted the first acclivity, perhaps a mile from the Crawford,
and were commencing a slight descent which made every rider look to the
horse's feet and ride with a slight tremor,--when the stillness was
suddenly broken in a manner which almost curdled the blood of the timid and
needed a second reassurance for even the boldest.

"Pop-pop-pop-pa-hoo! Hoo-hoo-oo-oo!" came from the path below, with that
hideous power and distinctness of lungs that have chilled so many hearts
and whitened so many faces since the white man first intruded on the
hunting-grounds of the American Indian. A shrill, dissonant, horrible yell,
combining the blind ferocity of the beast with the deadlier rage of man,
such as made the poor mother clasp her babe closer to the breast when it
rang around the block-houses of Massachusetts and New York in the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries--such as less than three years ago
proved that it was undying in the savage throat, by pealing over the
mangled bodies and burned dwellings of the Minnesota massacres.

"Good heavens!--what is that?" cried half a dozen of the ladies in a
breath.

"An Indian war-whoop, certainly!" said one of the gentlemen, his face white
as wax at the sudden shock.

"It is war time, and they tell me that the rebels yell terribly!" said one
of the ladies. "Can it be--" but then the absurdity of the idea struck her
and she paused.

"Albert Pike was a New England man: perhaps he is here with his Arkansas
savages!" said another, whether in jest or earnest no one could well
discover.

It was surprising how in that one instant the cavalcade had shortened its
length--the foremost stopping and the rearmost closing up. Man _is_ a
gregarious animal, especially when a little surprised or frightened!

Perhaps Horace Townsend had been as badly startled as any of the others, at
the first instant; but he possessed some data which the others lacked for
discovering the source of the warlike yell.

"Do not be alarmed, ladies!" he said, after an instant. "I think there is
only one Indian uttering that horrible sound, and you may depend upon it
that he is white and no rebel. Yes--see!--here he comes!"

They had been, as already indicated, descending a quarter of a mile of most
difficult and dangerous path, in which every rider experienced more or less
of tremor, and over which the horses were picking their careful way as if
they realized that human necks were in peril. At the instant when the
attention of the company was thus directed backwards, Halstead Rowan had
reached the top of the rise, behind, and was just giving vent to a second
and supplemental yell which rang through the woods as if a dozen throats
had taken part in it, and which must have been heard half way down the
Notch.

"Pop-pop-pop-pa-hoo! Hoo-hoo-oo-oo!"

The rider was commencing the descent, too, but not precisely like the rest,
picking his way, on a careful half-trot, half-walk; on the contrary his
horse had his ears laid back and was going over the broken stones at such a
gallop as he might have held on an ordinary highway! The reins seemed to be
lying loose on his neck, and--could those horrified people believe their
eyes?--so surely as they were threading the tangled woods of Mount Clinton,
with thankful hearts for every rood passed over without broken necks, so
surely Halstead Rowan, a novel description of Mazeppa unknown even to Frank
Drew or Adah Isaacs, sat his horse in what might be called "reverse
order," his back towards them and his face to the animal's tail!

"Good heavens!" "The man is mad!" "Oh, do stop the horse!" "It is running
away with him!" "He will be killed!"--such were the exclamations that broke
from the party as Rowan's equestrianism was recognized--most of them from
the female portion of the cavalcade. What would it not have been worth to
see sweet Clara Vanderlyn's face at the moment when she first realized who
was the reckless rider, and to know whether she cared for his welfare at
all and whether anxiety or confidence predominated in her thought!

But the rider did not pause, or seem very much in peril. His horse kept his
feet quite as well as any of the others; and Townsend remembering the
Comanches and the Arapahoes, was forced to believe that the wild equestrian
must have the alleged Indian power of communicating his own will to his
horse, and that he could ride almost anywhere and in any manner, in safety.

Rowan drew the reins (which he _had_ in his hands, after all) as he came up
with the cavalcade, and said:

"I hope I did not startle any of you ladies with my Indian whoop. Upon my
honor I did not mean to do so, if I did; for I hate practical jokes that
cause pain, quite as much as any of the other fellows, the--gentlemen. But
the woods tempted me, and I have not enjoyed such an opportunity for the
use of the lungs, this many a day."

"I believe some of us were a little frightened for a moment, but no harm
done," said Horace Townsend. "But let me ask you--is not your riding just a
little bit careless?"

"Well, yes, just the very least bit in the world, perhaps, for _some_
people!" answered the wild fellow; and Townsend fancied that he caught him
trying, at the moment, to catch a glimpse, unseen by Frank Vanderlyn, under
the hood of Clara, who was not very far from him. If he did make the
attempt, he failed, for the young girl dared not or would not expose her
face. "But come, Townsend," Rowan added, "will you not push on with me a
little further ahead and let these slow coaches come up at their leisure?"

"At _your_ rate of progress? No," laughed Townsend. "I am not a very bad
rider, I believe, but I have never practised in a circus or on a prairie.
Go ahead, if you are in a hurry; that is, provided you know which end is
going foremost!"

"Found another place where you will not follow me, eh, old boy!" rattled
the Illinoisan, with a reference which the other easily understood. "Well,
I will see you by-and-bye, then. Go along, Bay Beelzebub!" and the next
moment, darting by the centre line and taking precedence even of the
leading guide, in a path that was literally nothing but a three-cornered
trough, he was to be seen ascending the next rise, his horse trotting along
riderless, and himself springing from crag to crag beside the path, his
hand upon the animal's back and the reins lying loose on its neck. He had
alighted, of course, without checking the speed of the horse in any degree.

But a few minutes later, and when the cavalcade had reached the top of
Mount Clinton and was coming out from the gloom of the heavy woods into the
partial sunshine,--they saw the odd equestrian riding over a portion of
road that was only moderately bad, standing erect on his horse's back,
supported by the reins and his own powers of balancing,--and heard his
deep, cheery voice ringing out in a song that seemed as complete a medley
as his own character. It may be permissible to put upon record one of the
stanzas, which some of those nearest him caught and remembered:

    "The heart bowed down by weight of wo--
      When comin' thro' the rye?
    If I had a donkey wot wouldn't go--
      Good-bye, my love, good-bye!
    I see them on their winding way:
      Old clothes, old clothes to sell!
    So let's be happy while we may--
      Lost Isabel!"

Still later, the riders were all thrown into momentary horror by coming
upon him, as they rounded the head of a gorge near the top of Mount
Prospect,--his horse on a walk, and himself hanging over one side,
apparently by the heels. The impression prevailed that he must have been
knocked senseless by a limb, in some of his pranks, and got his feet
fatally entangled in the stirrups,--the result of which impression was that
a sudden scream, in a woman's voice, burst out from some portion of the
line, but so instantaneously suppressed that no one could trace it. It
turned out that in this last operation, so far from being killed, he was
only practising the Indian mode of hanging beside his horse, supported by
one hand at the neck and one foot over the saddle, after the manner of the
wild tribes of the Plains when throwing the horse as a shield between
themselves and the shot of a pursuer!

After a time, however, the reckless fellow seemed to have grown tired of
his humor; for, as the long line crossed over the peak of Prospect to
Monroe, and the north wind and the sun had so driven away the clouds that
the riders began to realize the glorious prospect opening upon them on
every hand,--he took his place in the line, next to his deserted comrade
Townsend, sat his horse like a Christian, and joined in the bursts of
admiration vented on all sides, with an enthusiasm which showed that the
scenery had never palled upon him by familiarity.

And what views indeed were those that burst upon them as they crossed from
Franklin to Monroe, and that sea of which the stiffened waves were
mountains stretched out for an hundred miles in every direction! Some there
were, in that line, who had stood on the prouder and more storied peaks of
Europe, and yet remembered nothing to diminish the glory of that hour. How
the deep gorges slept full of warm sunlight, and how the dark shadows
flitted over them, and flickered, and thinned, and faded, as one by one the
light clouds were driven southward by the wind! With what a shudder,
passing over the narrow ridge or back-bone connecting Monroe and Franklin,
they looked down into "Oakes' Gulf" on the right and the "Gulf of Mexico"
on the left, only separated by a yard of bushy rock from a descent of three
thousand feet on one side, and by less than three yards of slippery stone
from more than two thousand feet on the other!

The path is a sort of narrow trough, rough enough, but quite as safe, and
to those who keep it there is not the least possible danger. Indeed the
rider, half hidden in the trough, scarcely knows the fearful narrowness of
the bridge over which he is passing; and thousands cross this pass and
recross it, and bring away no idea of the sensation that may be gained by a
little imprudent hanging over the verge on either side! None of the riders
in that cavalcade went back to their beds at the Crawford without a much
more intimate knowledge of the capabilities of that situation; but of this
in due time.

It is impossible for any one who has never made a similar ascent, or who
has only ascended with a much smaller number, to conceive the appearance
made by that score of equestrians at various points when crossing the open
but uneven peaks in the last approach to Washington. Varied in stature, sex
and costume, and all sufficiently outre to astonish if not to
horrify,--what views the leading riders of the line could catch at times,
looking back at the motley line! Some half buried in the trough of the path
or midway in a gulch, so that only the head would be visible; others
perched on the very top of a huge boulder, ascending or descending; some
clinging close to mane or neck as the horse scrambled up an ascent of forty
degrees; others lying well back on the saddle when descending a declivity
of the same suddenness. What dreams of the Alps and the Apennines there are
in such ascents--dreams of the toilers over St. Gothard and the muleteers
of the Pyrenees--dreams of memory pleasant to those who have such past
experiences to look back upon, and substitutes no less pleasant to many
who long for glances at other lands but must die with only that far-off
glimpse of the fulness of travel which Moses caught from the hills of the
Moabites over that inheritance of his race upon which he was never to
enter.

It yet wanted half an hour to noon, and Mount Washington towered full
before them as they came out on the top of Franklin, by the little Lake of
the Clouds which lay so saucily smiling to the sun and coquetting with the
mists. The peak, a huge mass of broken and naked stone, half a mile up on
every side and so sheer in pitch that foot-hold seemed hopeless, would have
looked totally discouraging but for the white line of path which, winding
around it on the north-west, showed that it must before have been achieved.

Up--up--over broken and slipping stones of every size and description, from
the dimensions of a brick-bat to those of a dining-table--stones gray and
mossed, without one spoonful of earth to prove that the riders had not
surmounted the whole habitable globe and lost themselves in some unnatural
wilderness of rock! And feeling joined with sight to enhance the desolate
fancy, for though so nearly high noon the wind blew at that dizzy height
with the violence of a gale, and the Guernsey wrappers and the clumsy
gloves had long before proved that the rough and homely may be more useful
than the beautiful.

Two or three hundred yards from the Tip-Top House, the rough stone walls of
which were glooming above--the party were dismounted, the horses picketed
by the guides, and over the broken stones and yawning fissures the
dismounted riders struggled up, strong arms aiding weaker limbs, and much
care necessary to prevent heedless steps that might have caused injuries
slow of recovery. Up--up, over the little but difficult remaining
distance--till all stood by the High Altar on the top of Mount Washington.

Above the clouds, swales of which they saw sweeping by, half way down the
mountain--above the earth, its cares and its sorrows, it seemed to them for
the moment that they stood; and only those who have made such a pilgrimage
can realize the glory of that hour. The mountains of Vermont
North-westward, those of Canada North-eastward, those of Massachusetts to
the South and the Franconia range full to the West; lakes lying like
splashes of molten silver at their feet and rivers fluttering like blue
silken ribbons far away; towns nestled in the gorges and hamlets glimmering
up from the depths of the ravines; long miles of valleys filled with
sunlight, as if the very god of day had stooped down and left them full of
the warmth of his loving kiss; peak upon peak rising behind and beyond each
other, and each tinted with some new and richer hue, from gold to purple
and from sunny green to dark and sombre brown; beyond all, and on the
extreme verge of the sight-line to the East, one long low glint of light
that told of the far Atlantic breaking in shimmering waves on the rocky
coast of Maine; the world so far beneath as to be a myth and an unreality,
distance annihilated, and the clear, pure air drank in by the grateful
lungs appearing to be a foretaste of that some day to be breathed on the
summit of the Eternal Hills,--these were the sights and these the
sensations amid which the dark cheek of Horace Townsend seemed touched with
a light that did not beam upon it in the valleys below, with his eyes grown
humid and utterance choked by intense feeling; while all the heart of
glorious womanhood in Clara Vanderlyn fluttered up in the truest worship of
that God who had formed the earth so beautiful; and even Halstead Rowan
once more forgot pride, poverty, insult, and the physical exuberance which
made either endurable, to fold his strong arms in silence, lift the innate
reverence of his thoughts to the Eternal and the Inevitable, and vow to
submit with childlike faith to all of triumph or humiliation that might be
ordained in the future.



CHAPTER XVII.

     HORACE TOWNSEND WITH A LADY IN CHARGE--AN ADVENTURE OVER THE
     "GULF OF MEXICO"--CLARA VANDERLYN IN DEADLY PERIL--A MOMENT
     OF HORROR--HALSTEAD ROWAN AND A DISPLAY OF THE COMANCHE
     RIDING--TOWNSEND'S ECLIPSE--THE RETURN TO THE
     CRAWFORD--MARGARET HAYLEY AGAIN, AND A CONVERSATION
     OVERHEARD.


It was perhaps two o'clock before the meetings and partings were over
between the large party whom we have seen ascending from the Crawford, and
the yet greater number who had come up from the Glen House by the
belittling novelty of the mountain, the "carriage road,"--before the dinner
at the Tip-Top House was discussed, hearty and plentiful enough, if not
remarkably varied,--before the guides of the cavalcade had done "chaffing"
the carriage drivers from the Glen, whom they seemed to regard very much as
"old salts" do "fresh-water sailors,"--before every member of the party had
viewed the magnificent scenery from every conceivable point, drank their
fill of a beauty that might not be duplicated for years or excelled in a
lifetime, and filled pockets and reticules equally full of all the maps and
books that could be bought and all the geological specimens that could be
picked up, as memorials of the visit. By that hour the warning of the
guides was heard, reminding all that there was no more time remaining than
would suffice to carry themselves and their tired horses back to the
Crawford by nightfall. At once, then, the descent began--supposed, in
advance, to be so uneventful and merely a pleasant diminished repetition of
the experiences of the ascent.

As they climbed down the broken rocks of the peak to their
patiently-waiting horses (they would probably have waited patiently until
they dropped with hunger, if by that means the rider and his saddle could
have been avoided; for your mountain horse does _not_ find unalloyed
pleasure in his occupation!)--when near the "corral," as it may be called,
Frank Vanderlyn left his sister for a moment and stepped over to Horace
Townsend, who was descending alone, Halstead Rowan (as usual) at some
distance ahead and already preparing to mount and away.

"Would you have any objections, sir," the young man asked, "as I believe
that you have no lady in charge, to ride in company with my sister on the
way down?"

"Certainly not!" replied Townsend, though a little surprised at the
salutation and request from one of the haughty Vanderlyns to whom he had
not even been introduced. "I shall be proud of the charge, if your sister
and yourself feel like placing so much confidence in an entire stranger."

"Oh, _we_ know a gentleman when we see him!" replied the young man, not a
little arrogantly, as it appeared to the lawyer, and with a sinister glance
at the Illinoisan which indicated that it would have been some time before
_he_ was entrusted with the same responsibility.

"I am flattered!" said Townsend, with the bow which the speech demanded and
yet did not deserve. "Do you remain on the top yourself?"

"No," answered the young man. "But the fact is that my horse kicks. He
kicked my sister's pony twice in coming up; and I am afraid of some trouble
in going down, if she rides behind me. It will be better for me to drop
into the rear of all, where the ill-tempered devil cannot do injury to any
one."

A few words of quasi-introduction and explanation between Vanderlyn, Clara
and the lawyer followed; and Horace Townsend, who had come up the mountain
without any lady and only in the casual companionship of a man who
continually rode away and left him alone, found himself ready to go down it
with the fairest member of the company in charge! Had nothing else
intervened since the ride up from Littleton to the Profile and that long,
steady glance of admiration which had then been bestowed upon the sweet
face and auburn hair,--what a dangerous proximity this might have proved!
But the human heart, expansive as it may be, has not quite the capacity of
a stage-coach or a passenger-car; and to prevent falling in desperate love
with one fascinating woman thrown in one's way, there is perhaps no guard
so potent as being in real or fancied desperate love with another!

Halstead Rowan and the lady whom Townsend had reason to believe the object
of his hope and his despair, had not been flung together and apart from
others, for one moment during the day--Mr. Frank Vanderlyn had taken
especially good care in that respect; though the lawyer had little cause to
doubt that if both could have had their choice of companionship, they would
have stood side by side and without others too near, by the High Altar
which crowned the summit of the mountain, and spoken words difficult to
unsay again during the lifetime of either. But if he had not been alone
with Clara Vanderlyn, there is equally little doubt that he had looked at
her much oftener than at the most admired point of scenery on the route.
And as Frank Vanderlyn strolled away to his horse, and Townsend, with the
lady obviously under his charge, was preparing to mount, he saw Rowan, with
one foot in the stirrup and the other on the ground, looking over at him
and his companion, with the most comical expression of wonder on his face
that could well have been compressed into the same extent of physiognomy.
The heart of the new knight-errant, which must have been a soft one or he
would never have labored under that weakness, smote him at the thought of
his apparent desertion; and with a word of apology he stepped away from the
lady and approached the dismounted amateur Comanche.

"You don't mean to say that you are going to----" said the latter, and he
nodded his head comically and yet a little pitifully towards Clara
Vanderlyn.

"Ride down with Miss Vanderlyn? Yes!" answered the lawyer.

"And who the deuce asked you to do it, I should like to know?"

"Her brother."

"Phew-w-w!" A prolonged whistle, very characteristic and significant.

Townsend, in a word, explained the affair.

"All right!" said the Illinoisan. "But, look here, old fellow! You haven't
arranged this affair yourself, eh? No meetings on a single track, you
know!"

"Not a bit of it!" laughed Townsend at the professional illustration.
"Confidence for confidence! Have you not seen more closely than _that_?"

"Yes, I thought I had!" answered Rowan. "Well, all right! Go ahead! But by
Jupiter, if you do not take the best care of that girl, and she gets into
any kind of a scrape by riding with a man who _can't_ ride, there will be
somebody challenged to something else than ten-pins!"

Townsend laughed and turned away. The time had been, he thought, when
incapacity to ride would scarcely have been set down as among his
short-comings. But every thing, even equestrianism, was to be reckoned by
comparison!

A moment after, all the party were in the saddle; and then commenced a
descent still more laborious than the ascent, at least to the tired horses
that groaned almost humanly as they slid down the sudden declivities, and
to the more timid of the riders. Horace Townsend rode immediately before
Miss Vanderlyn, a little forward of the centre of the Indian file (the only
possible mode of riding in those narrow bridle-paths)--Rowan half-a-dozen
further behind, then two or three others, and Frank Vanderlyn, with his
dangerous bay, bringing up the rear.

The lawyer found his fair companion all that her face had indicated, in the
desultory conversation which sprung up between them as they made their way
downward from the summit, descending the peak of the monarch and riding
back over the broad top of Monroe towards Franklin. Clara Vanderlyn
conversed genially and easily, and had evidently (in spite of some
restrictions already suggested,) enjoyed the day with the full warmth of an
ardent nature. She seemed an excellent horsewoman, easy and self-possessed
in the saddle, and Townsend observed that she found leisure from the care
of picking her way, to look back several times over her shoulder. For a
long time he may have been undecided whether her regard was directed at her
brother, at the extreme end of the line, or at some one in the middle
distance. The one glance of anxiety would have been very natural: the
other, compounded of interest only, may have been likewise natural
enough--who can say?

They were crossing Monroe to Franklin, over the narrow back-bone of land
that has been mentioned in the ascent, and at the very point where Oakes'
Gulf, now on the left, and the scarcely less terrible Gulf of Mexico on the
right, narrowed the whole causeway to not much more than a dozen of
feet,--when Townsend heard a sudden and sharp cry behind him. At that point
the descent of the path was very precipitous, and over stones so rugged
that the horses kept their feet with great difficulty; and in his anxiety
to insure safe footing he had for the moment lost sight of his fair
companion--a poor recommendation of his ability as an escort, perhaps, but
not less true than reprehensible! At the cry he turned instantly, though he
could not so suddenly check the course of his horse down the path without
danger of throwing him from his feet; and as he looked around, through the
olive brown of his cheek a deadly whiteness crept to the skin, and his
blood stood still as it had probably never before done since the tide of
life first surged through his veins.

It has been the lot of many men to look upon a horror accomplished or so
nearly accomplished that any reversal of the decree of fate seemed to be
beyond hope. Such is the gaze upon the strewn dead of the battle-field,
before the life has quite gone out from a few who are already worse than
dead, and when the groans and the cries for "water!" to cool the lips
parched in the last fever, have not yet entirely ceased. Such is the
hopeless glance at the windrow of dead strewing the shore when a ship is
going to pieces in the surf, in plain sight and yet beyond the aid of human
hands, and when every moment is adding another to the drowned and ghastly
subjects for the rough-coated Coroner. Such is the stony regard at the
crushed victims of a railroad catastrophe, or the charred and blackened
remains of those who were but a little while ago living passengers on the
steamboat that is just burning at the water's edge. Such, even, is the
shuddering glance at the brave and unconscious firemen who stand beneath a
heavy wall, when that wall is surging forward and coming down in a crushing
mass upon their very heads, with no power except a miracle of Omnipotence
to prevent their being flattened into mere pan-cakes of flesh, and blood,
and bone. All these, and a thousand others, are horrors accomplished or
beyond hope of being averted; and they are enough to sicken the heart and
brain of humanity brought into sudden familiarity with them. But perhaps
they are not the worst--perhaps that yet unaccomplished but probable horror
is still more terrible, because uncertainty blends with it and there is yet
enough of hope to leaven despair. The life not yet fully forfeited, but
going--going; the form not yet crushed out of the human semblance, but to
be so in a moment unless that one chance intervenes; the face--especially
if the face be that of woman, a thousand times more beautiful in the relief
of that hideous mask of death which the gazer sees glooming behind
it,--this is perhaps the hardest thing of all to see and not go mad.

None of these conditions may have been quite fulfilled in the glance cast
backward by Horace Townsend at that moment; but let us see how far the
situation varied from the most terrible of requirements.

Going over that back-bone in the morning, the lawyer, who chanced to be for
the moment alone, had swung himself from his horse, leaving the animal
standing in the trough, peered through the bushes to the right, down into
Oakes' Gulf, and walked to the edge of the broad stone that formed the
projection over the Gulf of Mexico. He had found that stone smooth and
rounded, a little slippery from the almost perpetual rains and mists
beating upon it, not more than eight to ten feet wide from the path to the
verge, and with a perceptible slope downwards in the latter direction. He
had thought, then, that it needed a clear head and a sure foot (both of
which he possessed) to stand in that position or even to tread the stone at
any distance from the path. And so thinking, he had swung himself back into
the saddle and ridden on,--the incident, then, not worth relating--now, a
thing of the most fearful consequence.

For as he glanced back, at that sudden cry, he saw Clara Vanderlyn sitting
her horse on the very top of that smooth plateau of stone overlooking the
two thousand feet of the Gulf of Mexico, at what could not have been more
than four or five feet from the awful verge, and certainly on the downward
slope of what was an insecure footing even for the plastic foot of
man--much more for the clumsy iron-shod hoof!

What could have induced her trained pony to spring out from the path a few
feet behind and rush into that perilous elevation, must ever remain (in the
absence of an equine lexicon) quite as much of a mystery as it seemed at
that moment. Perhaps it was in going down some such declivity of path as
that before him, that he had been kicked by the vicious bay of Frank
Vanderlyn while making the ascent, and that he had concluded to wait on
this convenient shelf until all the rest had gone by, before he consented
to make the passage with his fair burthen. Perhaps the movement was merely
one of those unaccountable freaks of sullen madness in which horses as well
as men sometimes have the habit of indulging. At all events, such was the
situation; and the recollection of it, as thus recalled to those who were
present, will be quite enough, as we are well aware, to set the heart
beating most painfully. What, then, must have been the feeling of all who
saw, and especially of that man who had promised to _protect_ the fair
being thus placed in peril! What thoughts of the playful threat of Halstead
Rowan must have rushed through his brain--that "if she got into any kind of
a scrape by riding with a man who _couldn't_ ride," such and such fatal
results would follow! Not a duel with the Illinoisan--oh, no!--but a black,
terrible, life-long duel with his own self-reproaches and remorse for
heedlessness and want of judgment--this would be the doom more fearful than
a thousand personal chastisements, if danger became destruction. One clumsy
movement of the horse's feet, one slip on the stone, and she would as
certainly go over that dizzy precipice and fall so crushed and mangled a
mass into the gulf below that her fragments could scarcely be distinguished
from those of the pony she rode--as certainly as she had grace and love and
beauty crowning her life and adding to the possible horror of her death. He
did not know, then, how many of the cavalcade saw the situation, or how the
blood of most who saw stood still like his own, with dread and
apprehension.

The inconceivable rapidity of human thought has been so often made a matter
of comment, that words could but be wasted in illustrating it. It shames
the lightning and makes sluggard light itself. All these thoughts in the
mind of Horace Townsend scarcely consumed that time necessary to draw rein
and turn himself round in the saddle in a quick attempt to alight, rush up
the side of the rock and seize her horse by the bridle or swing her from
her seat. He had no irresolution--no moment of hesitation--he only thought
and suffered in that single instant preceding action.

"For God's sake do not move! I will be there in one instant!" he said in a
low, hoarse, intense voice that reached her like a trumpet's clang.

"Oh yes--quick! quick!" he heard her reply, in a convulsive, frightened
voice. "Oh, quick!--you don't know where I am!"

Poor girl!--he _did_ know where she was, too well.

She was braver than most women, or she would probably have jerked the
bridle or frightened her horse by frantic cries, and sent him slipping with
herself down the ravine; for the situation was a most fearful one, and
there are few women who could have braved it without a tremor. A _man_, let
it be remembered, if cruel enough, might have alighted and left the horse
to its fate; but to a woman, encumbered by her long clothes, the attempt
must have been almost certain destruction for both.

Perhaps not sixty seconds had elapsed after the first cry, when the lawyer
succeeded in checking his horse without throwing him headlong, swung his
foot out of the stirrup, and attempted to spring to the ground. But just
then there was a sudden rush over the rock; a wierd and unnatural sweeping
by, something like that of the Demon Hunt in "Der Freischutz;" a cry of
terror and fright that seemed to come from the whole line in the rear and
fill the air with ghastly sound; a closing of the eyes on the part of the
incapable guardian, in the full belief that the noises he heard were those
of the accomplishment of the great horror; then sounds nearer him, and a
jar that almost prostrated himself and the horse against which he yet
leaned; then a wild cry of exultation and delight which seemed--God help
his senses!--was he going mad?--to be mingled with the clapping of hands
like that which follows a moment of intense interest at the theatre!

Then silence, and the lawyer opened his eyes as suddenly as he had closed
them. And what did he see? On the rock, nothing; in the path, ahead of him,
Clara Vanderlyn still sitting her horse, though in a half fainting state,
and Halstead Rowan, also on horseback, ahead of her, and with his hand
holding her bridle!

Of course Horace Townsend, at that moment of doubt whether he stood upon
his head or his heels--whether he had gone stark mad or retained a fair
measure of sanity--whether the earth yet revolved in its usual orbit or had
gone wandering off into cometary space, beyond all physical laws--of
course at that moment he could not know precisely what had occurred to
produce that sudden and singular change; and he could only learn, the
moment after, from those who had been on the higher ground behind at the
moment of the peril. According to their explanations, at the moment when
they all saw the danger with a shudder and a holding of the very breath,
Rowan had been heard to utter a single exclamation: "Well, I swear!" (a
rough phrase, and one that he should by no means have used; but let his
Western life and training entitle him to some consideration)--dashed spurs
into the side of his horse--crowded by the five or six who preceded him, in
a path considered impassable for more than one horse at a time--and then,
with a wild Indian cry that he apparently could not restrain, spurred up
the side of the rock, between Clara Vanderlyn and the verge of the
precipice, certainly where the off feet of his horse could not have been
thirty inches from the slippery edge, and literally jerked her horse and
herself off into the path by the impetus of his own animal outside and the
sudden grip which he closed upon her bridle as he went by, himself coming
down into the path ahead, and neither unseated! Miss Vanderlyn's pony had
struck the lawyer's horse as he came down in his enforced flying leap; and
thus were explained all the sights, sounds, and physical events of that
apparently supernatural moment.

The scene which followed, only a few moments after, when the leading
members of the cavalcade (Clara Vanderlyn in the midst of it, supported by
Rowan, who managed to keep near her)--the scene which followed, we say,
when they reached a little plateau where the company had room to gather,
will not be more easily effaced from the memory of those who were present
than the terrible danger which had just preceded it. The overstrung nerves
of the poor girl gave way at that point, and she dropped from her horse in
a swoon, just as Halstead Rowan (singular coincidence!) had slipped from
the saddle and was ready to catch her as she fell! What more natural than
that in falling and being caught, she should have thrown her arms round the
stout neck of the Illinoisan? And what more inevitable than that he should
have been a considerable time in getting ready to lay her down upon the
horse-blankets that had been suddenly pulled off and spread for her,--and
that finally, the clinging grasp still continuing, he should have dropped
himself on one corner of the blanket and furnished the requisite support to
her head and shoulders?

Frank Vanderlyn and those who had been farthest behind with him came up at
that moment; and Horace Townsend, if no one else, detected the sullen frown
that gathered on his brow as he saw his sister lying in the arms of the man
whom he had so grossly insulted. But if he frowned he said nothing, very
prudently; for it is indeed not sure that it would have been safe, just
then, for an emperor, there present, to speak an ill word to the hero of
the day.

Be all this as it may, the usual authorial affidavit may be taken that
Halstead Rowan retained Clara Vanderlyn, brother or no brother in the way,
in his arms until some one succeeded in obtaining water from a clear
deposit of rain among the rocks; that no one--not even one of the
ladies--attempted to dispossess him of his newly-acquired human territory;
that when the water had been brought, and she first gave token of the full
return of consciousness, she did so by clasping her arms around Rowan's
neck (of course involuntarily) and murmuring words that sounded to Townsend
and some others near, like: "You saved me! How good and noble you are!" and
that even under that temptation he did not kiss her, as he would probably
have sacrificed both arms and a leg or two, but not his manliness, to do.

It was a quarter of an hour after, when Miss Vanderlyn, sufficiently and
only sufficiently recovered to ride, was placed once more in the saddle and
the cavalcade took its way more slowly down the mountains. The scenery,
under the western sun, was even more lovely than that of the morning, the
mists had all rolled away from every point of the compass, and there were
some views Franconia-wards that they had entirely missed in the ascent. But
there was scarcely one of the company who had not been so stirred to the
very depths of human sympathy, by the event of the preceding half-hour,
that inanimate nature, however wondrously beautiful, was half forgotten. So
quickly, in those summer meetings and partings, do we grow attached to
those with whom we are temporarily associated, especially amid the
surroundings of the sublime and beautiful,--that had that fair girl lost
her life so strangely and sadly, not one of all who saw the accident but
would have borne in mind through life, in addition to the inevitable horror
of the recollection, a memory like that of losing a dear and valued friend.
And yet many of them had never even spoken to her, and perhaps only one in
the whole cavalcade (her brother) had known of her existence one week
before!

Even as it was, there were not a few of that line of spectators from whose
eyes the vision of what might have been, failed to fade out with the moment
that witnessed it. Some of them dreamed, for nights after, (or at least
until another occurrence then impending dwarfed the recollection) not only
of seeing the young girl sitting helpless on that perilous rock, but of
beholding her arms raised to heaven in agony and the feet of her horse
pawing the air, as both disappeared from sight over the precipice. Some may
still dream of the event, in lonely night-hours following days of trouble
and anxiety.

In the new arrangements for descending the mountains, made after the
recovery of Clara Vanderlyn, Horace Townsend was not quite discarded, but
he could not avoid feeling that very little dependence was placed upon his
escort. It was of course as a mere jest, but to the sensitive mind of the
lawyer there seemed to be a dash of malicious earnest at the bottom,--that
Rowan took the first occasion as he passed near him, immediately after the
young girl had been removed from his arms, to give him a forcible punch in
the ribs, with the accompanying remark:

"Bah! I told you that you couldn't ride; but I had no idea that you could
not do any better at taking care of a woman, than that!"

Townsend quite forgave him that remark, jest or earnest, for he saw the new
sparkle in his eye, remembered how likely he was to have had his mind a
little disordered by all that sweet wealth of auburn hair lying for so many
minutes on his breast, and formed his own opinions as to the result. If
those opinions were favorable, well; if they were unfavorable, he was
taking a world of trouble that did not belong to him; for there is always a
"sweet little cherub" sitting "up aloft" to keep watch over the fortunes of
such rattle-pates and dare-devils as Halstead Rowan--to supervise their
getting into scrapes and out of them!

But there was nothing of jest, he thought, in the air with which Clara
Vanderlyn, when re-mounting her horse, replying to an earnest expression of
regret that one moment of inattention on his part should have allowed her
to be placed in serious peril,--very kindly denied that he had been guilty
of any neglect whatever, threw the whole blame upon her horse, thanked him
for the promptness with which he was coming to her relief when forestalled,
but then said, looking at Rowan with a glance which came near setting that
enthusiastic equestrian entirely wild:

"It seems that I am a very difficult person to take care of; and if you
have no objection to my having two esquires, and will allow Mr. Rowan to
ride with me as well as yourself, and if _he_ is willing to do so, I think
that I shall feel" (she did not say "safer", but) "a little more like
keeping up my spirits."

Frank Vanderlyn had looked somewhat sullenly on and scarcely said a word,
since his coming up. But at this speech of his sister's he must have felt
that the dignity of the Vanderlyn family was again in serious peril, for he
put his mouth close to her ear and spoke some words that were heard by no
other than herself. They could not have been very satisfactory or
convincing, for Horace Townsend, and others as well, heard her say in
reply:

"Brother, your horse is dangerous--you said so yourself; so just be good
enough to ride as you did before, and my friends here will take care of
me."

Whereupon the young man went back to his horse, looking a little
discomfited and by no means in the best of humors. Such little accidents
_will_ occur, sometimes, to mar the best-laid schemes of careful mothers or
anxious brothers, for preserving the ultra-respectability of a family; and
whether the origin of the intervention is in heaven or its opposite, there
is nothing to be done in such cases but to look wronged and unhappy, as did
Frank Vanderlyn, or smile over the accomplished mischief and pretend that
the event is rather agreeable than otherwise, as persons of more experience
than Frank have often had occasion to do at different periods during the
current century.

The result of all this was that Horace Townsend really rode down with Clara
Vanderlyn in the mere capacity of an esquire, while Halstead Rowan assumed
the spurs and the authority of the knight. The latter rode in advance of
her, as near her bridle-rein as the roughness of the path would allow; and
no one need to question the fact that _he_ kept his eyes on the young girl
quite steadily enough to secure her safety! What difficulty was there in
his doing so, when he had already proved that he could ride backward nearly
as well as forward and that the footing of his horse was the least thought
in his mind? They seemed to be conversing, too, a large proportion of the
time; and there is no doubt that Halstead Rowan, carried away by the events
of the day, uttered words that he might have long delayed or never spoken
under other circumstances,--and that Clara Vanderlyn wore that sweet flush
upon her face and kept that timid but happy trembling of the dewy
under-lip, much more constantly than she had ever before done in her young
life. Horace Townsend, who rode behind the lady, did not hear any of those
peculiar words which passed between her and her companion; and had _we_
heard them they would certainly not be made public in this connection.

The lawyer, as has been said, rode behind; and, as has _not_ been said, he
did so in no enviable state of feeling. He had done nothing--been accused
of nothing--in any manner calculated to degrade him; but one casual event
had thrown a shadow across his path, not easily recognized without some
recollection of characteristics before developed. The reader has had
abundant reason to believe that this man, profiting by some intelligence
obtained in a manner not open to the outer world, of the peculiar madness
of Margaret Hayley after that abstraction, courage,--had more or less
firmly determined to win her through the exhibition of certain qualities
which he believed that he possessed in a peculiar degree. One opportunity
had been given him (that at the Pool), and he had succeeded in interesting
her to an extent not a little flattering and hopeful; but envious fate
could not allow a week to pass without throwing him again into
disadvantageous comparison with a man who had no occasion whatever of
making any exhibition of such qualities!

That Margaret Hayley would yet remain for some days and perhaps weeks in
the mountains, and that she would probably visit the Crawford before her
departure, he had at least every reason to believe; and he had quite as
much cause for confidence that the story of the adventure over the Gulf of
Mexico, roundly exaggerated to place himself in a false position and to
deify the Illinoisan, would reach her ears, whether at the Profile or the
Crawford, through stage-drivers or migratory passengers, within the next
forty-eight hours. This (for reasons partially hinted at and others which
will develop themselves in due time) was precisely that state of affairs
which he would have given more to avoid than any other that could have been
named; and this it was that made a dark red flush of mortification rise at
times to his dusky cheek and give an expression any thing but pleasant to
his eyes, as he rode silently behind the two who were now so indubitably
linked as lovers, once more over the top of Prospect and down the rugged
declivities of Clinton. Those who have ever been placed in circumstances
approaching to these in character, can best decide whether the lawyer was
sulking for nothing or indulging in gloomy anticipations with quite
sufficient reason.

It was nearly sunset and the light had some time disappeared from the
valleys lying in the shade of the western peaks, when the last stony trough
and the last corduroy road of Mount Clinton was finally repassed, and the
whole cavalcade, each member of it perhaps moved by the one idea of showing
that neither horse nor rider was wearied out--broke once more into a trot
as they caught the first glimpse of the Crawford through the trees, dashed
merrily out from the edge of the woods, and came up in straggling but
picturesque order to the door of the great caravanserai. The difficult ride
of eighteen miles had been accomplished; the golden day (with its one
drawback of momentary peril) was over; and more than half a score who had
before only thought of the ascent of Mount Washington as a future
possibility, suddenly found that they could look back upon it as a
remembrance.

As they rode up to the front of the Crawford, the whole end of the piazza
was full of new-comers and late sojourners, watching the return of those
who had preceded or followed them--an idle, listless sort of gathering,
showing more curiosity than welcome, such as the traveller by rail or
steamboat sees crowding every platform at the expected time of the arrival
of a train and every pier at the hour for the coming in of a boat. Cries
of: "All safe, eh?" "Glad to see you back again!" "Hope you had a pleasant
day!" and "Well, how did you like Mount Washington?" broke from twenty lips
in a moment, mingled with replies and non-replies that came simultaneously:
"Oh, you ought to have gone up with us!" "My horse carried me like a
bird!" (the last remark, presumably, from a fat man of two hundred and
sixty, whom not even an elephant could have borne in that suggestively
buoyant manner), "Never _was_ such a day for going up, in the world!"
"Safe, eh? Yes, why not?" (that from a person, no doubt, who had really
been prodigiously scared at some period of the ride), and the one
inevitable pendant: "Oh, you have no idea what an adventure we have
had!--one of the ladies came near being killed--tell you all about it
by-and-bye," etc., etc.

Horace Townsend, who had been riding the last mile very much like a man in
a dream and really with the formal charge of Clara Vanderlyn entirely
abandoned to her chosen protector--Horace Townsend heard all this, as if he
heard through miles of distance or at a long period of time after the
utterance. For his eyes were busy and they absorbed all his sensations. He
had recognized, at the first moment of riding up, among the crowd of
persons on the piazza, the dark, proud eyes and beautiful face and stately
form of Margaret Hayley, leaning on the arm of that man whom he had not by
any means learned to love since his advent in the mountains--Captain Hector
Coles, V. A. D. C. They had waited clear weather before starting from the
Profile, and come through that day while his party had been absent up the
mountains: he realized all at a thought, and realized that whatever he was
himself to endure of trial lay much nearer than he had before believed.
Disguised and indeed disfigured as the lawyer was, in common with all the
other members of the cavalcade, to such a degree that only observation and
study could penetrate the masquerade,--it was not at all strange that the
lady failed to meet his eye with an answering glance of recognition; and he
felt rather grateful than the reverse, for the moment, that his disguise
was so effectual. While Clara Vanderlyn, a third time within one week the
passive heroine of the mountains, was being lifted from her saddle by half
a dozen officious hands, and while the rest of the party were gabbling as
they alighted,--he slipped quietly from his horse behind one corner of the
piazza, threw his rein to one of the stable-boys, and disappeared through
the hall, up-stairs to his chamber.

He did not again make his appearance until supper was on the tables and the
battle of knives-and-forks going on with that vigor born of mountain air.
Most of the visitors at the house, the voyagers of the day included, were
already seated; and among them was Clara Vanderlyn, apparently no whit the
worse for her day's adventure, her brother at one and her mother at the
other side. A little further down the table, on the same side, sat Halstead
Rowan, occupying the same seat of the evening before. He had evidently
dropped back from his familiar standing with the lady, the moment they came
within the atmosphere of Mrs. Vanderlyn and the great republic of voices at
the Crawford; but quite as evidently he had not yet fallen away from his
last-won position as a hero, for his face was continually flushing, as he
ate, with the modesty of a girl's, when the whispers and nods and pointings
of interest and admiration were made so plain that they reached his eye and
ear. The adventure of the day was undeniably the topic of the evening, and
Halstead Rowan was the hero; and it may be imagined how much this knowledge
and the inevitable corollary that some one else was _not_ the hero, added
to the comfort of the late-comer at table.

Margaret Hayley, Mrs. Burton Hayley and Captain Hector Coles were also at
supper, but they had nearly finished when Townsend took his seat. They rose
the moment after, and as they did so the lawyer, now once more so arrayed
as to display his own proper person, caught the eye of Margaret. She nodded
and smiled, yes, smiled!--in answer to his bow across the table; and he
could almost have taken his professional oath that a quick sparkle came to
her eye when she saw him, then died away as quickly as if compelled back by
a strong will. Mrs. Burton Hayley did not seem to see him at all; but
Captain Coles signified that _he_ did so, by a glance of such new-born
contempt blended with old hatred, as he should never have wasted upon any
one except a national enemy whom he had just defeated in arms. The party
swept down the room, and very soon after the others whom we have noted also
rose and disappeared, leaving Horace Townsend discussing his supper with
what appetite he might. It may be consoling to some curious persons to know
that that appetite was by no means contemptible, and that he did not falter
in physique if restless unquiet and anxiety made a prey of his mind.

Half an hour after, he was smoking his cigar on the piazza, none whom he
knew within view; and he strolled out into the edge of the wood to the
right of the house, to enjoy (if enjoyment it could be called) solitude,
gloom and darkness. The path he followed led him eventually round in a
circle and brought him back to the edge again, only a few yards from the
house and near the spot where the two huge bears were moving about, dense
black spots in the twilight. There was a rude bench beneath the trees not
far from what might have been called their "orbit" (especially as they are
sometimes "stars" at the menageries); and on that bench he discovered three
figures. He was but a little distance away when he first saw them and that
they were two ladies and a gentleman; and he was still nearer before he
became aware that they were the Hayleys, mother and daughter, with their
inevitable attendant and cavalier.

They were in conversation, not toning it so low as if they had any
particular anxiety against its being overheard; and yet Horace Townsend,
much as he might have wished to know every word that came from the lips of
at least one of the three, might have passed on without listening
intentionally to one utterance, if he had not chanced to hear that they
were discussing the event of the day. That fact literally chained him to
the root of the tree near which he was standing--he was _so_ anxious to
know what version of the affair had already been circulated and given
credence among the three or four hundred visitors at the Crawford, and
especially among the particular three of that number.

It has before been said, we fancy, by that widely-known writer,
"Anonymous," that listeners do not always hear any notable good of
themselves. And Horace Townsend, in stopping to play the eaves-dropper, at
least partially illustrated the saying. He heard a version of the Gulf of
Mexico affair, from the lips of Captain Coles, calculated to make him, if
he had any sensitiveness of nature and a spark of the fighting propensity,
kill himself or the narrator.

"I think I have heard enough of it," Margaret Hayley was saying, as
Townsend came within hearing. "I really do not know that Miss Vanderlyn,
though a pleasant girl enough, is of so much consequence that the whole
house should go crazy over one of her little mishaps in riding."

"A little mishap!" echoed the Captain. "Phew!--if I am not very much
mistaken it was a _big_ mishap--just a hair's-breadth between saving her
life and losing it!"

"Is it possible?" said Mrs. Burton Hayley. "Why dear me, Captain
Coles!--that is very interesting, especially if her being saved was
providential. Did you hear the particulars, then?"

"Shall we go in, mother?" asked Margaret.

"No, my dear, not yet!" answered Mrs. Burton Hayley. "Captain Coles is just
going to tell us what really happened to the young lady who was so
mercifully spared. Go on, Captain, please."

"Well, the story is a short one, though thrilling enough, egad!--to put
into a romance!" said the Captain. "Young Waldron, that we met at the
Profile, was one of the party, and he told me about it while you were
dressing for supper. It appears that Miss Vanderlyn went up with her
brother, and that something happened to his horse--it got lamed, or
something,--so that he could not ride down with her. He was fool enough,
then, to put her under the charge of that friend of yours, Margaret--"

"Captain Coles, will you be kind enough to confine yourself to your story,
if you must tell it, and leave _my_ name out of the question?" was the
interruption of the young lady--no unpleasant one to the listener,--at that
point of the narration.

"Humph! I do not see that you need be so sensitive about it!" sneered back
the Captain. "Well, then, not that friend of yours, but that man, who has
not less than a dozen names and who lives in Philadelphia and Cincinnati
and several other cities."

"Yes, the man whose handkerchief you took out of his pocket the other
night, in the ten-pin alley, to see whether his initials were correct!"
again interrupted Margaret in a tone of voice not less decided than that of
the other was taunting and arrogant.

It was much too dark, under the shade of the trees, at that moment, to see
the face of Captain Hector Coles, or he might have been discovered, even
under his moustache, biting his lip so sharply that the blood came. An eye
keen enough to have seen this, too, would have been able to see that Horace
Townsend trembled like an aspen leaf, that great beads of sweat started out
on his brown forehead, while he muttered a fierce word of anger and
indignation that died away on the night air without reaching any human ear.

Captain Hector Coles choked an instant and then went on:

"He entrusted her to the care of that adventurer, who managed, before they
had ridden a mile, to lose his way and his presence of mind at the same
time--got her and her pony on the top of a slippery rock where there were
ten thousand chances to one that she would fall a thousand feet over the
precipice--and then sat on his horse, white as a sheet and too badly scared
to attempt rescuing her, yelling like a booby for help, until that coarse
fellow from somewhere out West came up and grasped her just as she was
going over."

What would not Horace Townsend have given for a grip of the throat of
Captain Hector Coles at that moment? And what would he not have given to
hear Margaret Hayley say: "I do not believe the story! The man who leaped
into the Pool the other day, is not the booby and poltroon you would make
him, just because you are jealous of him, Captain Hector Coles!" What, we
say, would the listener not have given to hear _that_? Alas!--he had no
reason to expect any such word, and no such word was spoken. Margaret
Hayley merely rose from her seat, saying:

"Now, if you have finished that rigmarole, in which nobody, I think, is in
the least interested, we will go to the house, for I am taking cold."

The others rose, and the three moved towards the house. Horace Townsend did
not move towards the house, but in another direction, his heart on fire and
his brain in a whirl. But as they went off he heard the Captain say,
apparently in response to some remark of Mrs. Burton Hayley's which was not
caught at that distance:

"Of course I believe him to be a coward as well as a disreputable
character. Any man who would flinch from _any_ exposure, especially like
that on a mere edge of a cliff, to save life, is the basest kind of a
coward. Such men ought to stand a little while among bullets, as _we_ have
to do, and they would soon show themselves for what they are worth."

Horace Townsend saw nothing more of either that night, or of any of the
others with whom this narration has to do. There was no music, other than
that of the piano, in the parlor of the Crawford, and early beds were in
requisition. Many, who had not ascended the mountains, had ridden hard and
long in other directions; and for the people of the Mount Washington
cavalcade themselves--they were very tired, very much exhausted and very
sleepy, and romance and flirtation were obliged to succumb to aching bones
and the invitations of soft pillows. Halstead Rowan, even, did not roll a
single game of ten-pins before he retired to his lonely
chamber--physico-thermometrical proof of the general worn-out condition!



CHAPTER XVIII.

     HORACE TOWNSEND AND MARGARET HAYLEY--A STRANGE RENCONTRE IN
     THE PARLOR--ANOTHER RENCONTRE, EQUALLY STRANGE BUT LESS
     PLEASANT--HOW CLARA VANDERLYN FADED AWAY PROM THE
     MOUNTAINS--AND HOW THE COMANCHE RIDER DISAPPEARED.


Breakfast was nearly over, the next morning, and many of the guests had
left the tables, when Horace Townsend strolled into the parlor, attracted
by the ripple of a set of very light fingers on the piano--something not
usual at that early hour. He found the great room entirely unoccupied,
except by the player; and he had half turned to leave the room in order to
avoid the appearance of intrusion, when he ventured a look at the pianist
and discovered her to be Margaret Hayley! Then he hesitated for a moment,
bowed, and was again about to retire, when the young girl rose from the
piano and advanced towards him. He was a man, past those years when the
blood should rush to the face with the rapidity of that of a school-girl;
but the dark cheek was certainly flame in an instant as she came nearer,
and when she spoke his name his whole appearance evinced some feeling so
much like terror that the object of it seemed to start back with a
corresponding emotion. That was the first instance in which he had chanced
to be alone for one moment with the lady, from the time of their first
meeting at the Profile, and something might be forgiven a bachelor on that
account; but some cause beyond this must have moved that man, accustomed
alike to society, to the company of women and the making of public
appearances.

If he tried to speak, his breath did not shape itself into audible words;
and Margaret Hayley was very near him and had herself spoken, before he in
any degree recovered from that strange confusion.

"Good-morning, Mr. Townsend," she said; and--mingled surprise and rapture
to the man who had heard himself so denounced in her presence the night
before!--she held out those long, slight, dainty white fingers to shake
hands with him! An advance like that, and from her! That thought seemed
almost to take away his breath, and he really permitted those tempting
fingers to be extended for quite a moment before he took them.

"Good-morning, Miss Hayley," at length he uttered, in a voice low and
perceptibly husky, taking the offered hand at the same instant, but
scarcely holding it so long as even the briefest acquaintance might have
warranted.

One instant's pause: the lady was not doing as ladies of her delicacy and
gentle breeding are in the habit of doing under corresponding
circumstances--she was looking the lawyer steadily and still not boldly in
the face, penetrating inquiry in her eyes, as if she would read the soul
through the countenance, and yet with an interest shown in her own which
made the act a compliment instead of an insult.

"I am afraid that you are not a very cordial friend," at last she said. "I
hoped that I had made one, the other day, after nearly drowning you; but
last night you merely bowed without speaking, and this morning when you see
me you attempt to run away!"

There was warm, genial, kindly pleasantry in her tone--pleasantry a little
beyond what the proud face indicated that she would bestow upon any casual
acquaintance; and perhaps that recognition did something to unlock the
tongue that had been silent.

"You are very kind to remember me at all!" he said. "Some of us poor
fellows of the rougher sex have reason to be glad to form new acquaintances
or remember old ones; but beautiful women like yourself, Miss Hayley, are
much more likely to wish to diminish the list than to increase it."

"What!--a compliment already!" she said, in the same tone of gayety. "But I
forgot--you told me that you were a lawyer, and I believe that you all
have a sort of license to say words that mean nothing."

"Oh, you paid the first compliment!" answered Townsend, catching her tone,
as they turned in the unconscious promenade into which their steps had
shaped themselves, and walked down the still lonely parlor.

"I? How?" she asked.

"By noticing me at all!" was the reply.

"Very neatly turned, upon my word!--and still another repetition of the
same compliment smuggled into it! Decidedly you must be a dangerous man in
the presence of a jury."

"Let me hope that _you_ will not consider me so, and I shall be content
with the other part of the reputation."

Neither said any thing more for a moment, though they were still walking
together with any thing rather than the manner of comparative strangers.
Then Horace Townsend paused in his walk, and said, his voice falling nearly
as low as it had been at first:

"Miss Hayley, this is the first opportunity that I have enjoyed of speaking
with you, away from the ears of others. Will you pardon me if I do not deal
altogether in complimentary badinage, but speak a few words of earnest?"

"What can you mean, Mr. Townsend?" She looked at him for a moment, as if in
doubt, then added: "Yes, certainly!"

"Then, to be candid--that is, as candid as I dare be," said the lawyer, "I
have taken the great liberty of being very much interested in you, since
the first day we met. I had no reason to expect you to be correspondingly
impressed, but--"

"What am _I_ to expect at the end of this, Mr. Townsend?" she interrupted
him. "Are you sure that you are not about to say very imprudent words, out
of time, out of place, and that may do much evil while they cannot
accomplish any good?"

He saw her put her left hand to her heart, when she made the interruption,
as if some sudden pang had pierced her or some organic pain was located
there; and all the past gayety of her manner was gone.

"I am perfectly sure, Miss Hayley!" he said, bowing; and the assurance was
received with a nod of confidence. "I have only said what any gentleman of
respectability ought to be able to say to any lady without offence--that I
have been very much interested in you; and I was about to say that while I
had no reason to expect my impression to be returned, yet I felt that I had
a _right_ to fair-dealing and no unfavorable prejudgment."

"Fair-dealing? prejudgment?" she uttered, in a not unnatural tone of
surprise. "Does my conduct of this morning--oh, what am I saying?--Mr.
Townsend, I do not understand you!"

"Of course you cannot, until I explain," said the lawyer. "I have just said
that _you_ honored me too much, but I cannot extend that remark to some of
your most intimate friends--Captain Coles, for instance--who may be--I hope
you will excuse what may sound like an impertinence but is certainly not
intended to be such--more nearly connected with yourself and your future
plans in life than I have any right to know."

There was respectful inquiry in his tone, though he by no means put the
remark as a question. Margaret Hayley recognized the tone but did not see
the keen interrogation in his eyes at that moment, for her own--those
proud, magnificent eyes--were drooped to the floor.

"By which you mean," answered the lady, "that you think it possible that
Captain Coles is my betrothed husband."

"I am sorry to say--yes!" said the lawyer, his voice again dropped very
low.

"Well, the remark, which amounts to a direct question, is certainly a
singular one to come from a man who has no right--even of old
acquaintance--to make it," responded Margaret. "And yet I _will_ answer it,
a little more frankly than it was put! Captain Hector Coles is not, and
never will be, any nearer in relationship to myself than you see him
to-day."

"I thank you very much for the confidence, to which, as you say, I have no
right," said Townsend. "It makes what I have yet to say a little easier. I
beg you not to misunderstand me when I tell you that I was last evening an
accidental listener to the story of my disgraceful conduct coming down the
mountains, as told by the Captain at second-hand, as well as to his
allegations that I was a coward and an adventurer."

Margaret Hayley did not say "What, eaves-dropping?" as the heroine of
sensation romance or melo-drama would certainly have been called upon to
do. She did not even question how he had heard what he alleged. She merely
said:

"I am sorry, indeed, if you heard words that should never have been
spoken."

"I did hear them," pursued the lawyer, "and I really did not suppose, this
morning, that after hearing the statements made by the Captain, you would
even have cared to pursue the very slight speaking acquaintance you had
done me the honor to form with me."

"Had I believed them, I would not!" spoke the lady, frankly.

"And you did _not_ believe them?" Tone very intense and anxious.

"Not one word of them!" Tone very sharp and decided.

"God bless the heart of woman, that leaps to the truth when the boasted
brain of man fails!" said Townsend, fervently. "Not every word that he said
was a falsehood, but every _injurious_ one was so, if I know myself and
what I do. May I tell you what really occurred yesterday on the mountain,
so that you may better understand the next version?"

"I shall be very happy to hear your account," she replied, "for the
incident must at all events have been a thrilling one."

"It was thrilling indeed, as you suppose," said the lawyer. "People form
romances sometimes out of much less, I fancy!" The two stood by the window,
looking at the hurrying to and fro of drivers and passengers preparing for
some late departures; and so standing, Horace Townsend briefly and rapidly
related the facts of the adventure. Margaret Hayley did not turn her eyes
upon him as he spoke, and a part of the time she was even drumming
listlessly and noiselessly on the glass with those dainty white fingers;
but that she was listening to him and to him only was evident, for the
speaker could catch enough of her side-glance to know that eye and cheek
were kindling with excitement, and he could hear the quick breath laboring
in throat and nostrils almost as if she herself stood in some situation of
peril. She was interested--he felt and knew it,--not only in the danger of
Clara Vanderlyn and the rash bravery in riding of Halstead Rowan, but in
_him_--in the scape-goat of the occasion; and he was stirred by the
knowledge to a degree that made a very cool and clear head necessary for
avoiding a plunge quite as fatal in its effects as would have been that
from the brow of the precipice over the gulf.

"And that is the whole story--a dull one, after all, I am afraid!" he said,
not altogether candidly, perhaps, in conclusion.

"Dull? oh no, Mr. Townsend, every thing but dull!" was her reply. "I have
seldom been so much interested in any relation. And the facts, so far as
they relate to yourself, are very nearly what I should have supposed after
hearing the story floating about the hotel."

"You seem to have something of the legal faculty--that of sifting out truth
from falsehood, grain from chaff!" said the lawyer, looking at her a little
searchingly.

"I? No, not always, though I may be able to do so sometimes," she said,
somewhat sadly, and with a sigh choked in its birth. "I have made some
terrible mistakes in the judgment of character and action, Mr. Townsend,
young as my life is; but perhaps the effect of all that is to make me a
little more careful in the reception of loose statements, and so I may have
lost nothing. And now--"

"--I have occupied as much of your time as you can spare me this morning,"
the lawyer concluded the sentence for her, with a smile calculated to put
her at her ease in the dismissal.

"Well, _you_ draw conclusions pretty rapidly!" she said, turning her eyes
upon him curiously. "I _was_ going to excuse myself; and yet I should not
be afraid to make a small woman's-wager that you err in at least half of
your calculation?"

"As how?" asked the lawyer, somewhat surprised.

"Why, Mr. Townsend," answered Margaret Hayley (and what woman who held less
true pride and less confidence in herself would ever have spoken so
singularly, not to say boldly?) "it is at perhaps a rather early period in
our acquaintance for me to return your candor with any thing that
corresponds, and yet I feel disposed to waive the woman's right of
reticence and do so. You think that I am already tired of your company and
conversation, and that when you leave me I may go into pleasanter company.
You are mistaken--I think you will not misunderstand me, any more than I
did you a while ago, when I say that I quite reciprocate the interest and
friendship you have expressed, and that I shall _not_ go into more
congenial associations when I leave you! There, will _that_ do?"

Her eyes were smiling, but there was a tell-tale flush on either cheek, as
she said this and extended those taper fingers, bending her proud neck the
while, it must be confessed, a _little_ as a queen might do when conferring
knighthood upon one of her most favored nobles. Horace Townsend, in strict
propriety, should have taken that offered hand in the tips of his own
fingers, bowed over it, and let it fall gently back to its place. He was
not playing strict propriety, as, indeed, the lady had not been for the
past few minutes; and whether he took that chance before the surprised
owner of the hand could draw it away, or whether there was very little
surprise or offence in the matter, certain it is that though he did bow
over the hand, he bowed too low--so low that his still warmer lips touched
the warm fingers with a close, clinging pressure, and that the breath from
those lips sent a tingle through every pulse of that strange girl, who was
either dangerously frank or an arrant coquette.

That rape of the fingers perpetrated, Townsend turned away, too suddenly to
notice whether his action had planted yet deeper roses on the lady's cheek.
Margaret Hayley went back towards the piano, without another word,
apparently to re-commence her suspended musical exercises, and the lawyer
passed through the door leading into the hall. He did not do so, however,
sufficiently soon to escape the notice of Captain Hector Coles, who,
apparently on a voyage of discovery after the truant Margaret, strode into
the parlor just as the other was leaving it, and as he nodded managed at
the same time to stare into the lawyer's face in so supercilious and
insulting a manner that he fairly entitled himself to what he did not
receive--a mortal defiance or a blow on the spot! It was plain that he
recognized Margaret Hayley at the piano, and that he saw she must have been
alone with the object of his suspicion and hatred: was there not indeed
some cause for the face of the gallant Captain assuming such an arrogant
ferocity of aspect as might have played Gorgon's head to a whole rebel
army? But the awkward meeting did not seem seriously to disturb the young
lady: she looked up from her keys, saw the foes in the door-way, saw the
glance they interchanged, and then dashed those bewitching fingers into a
German waltz of such startling and impudent brilliancy that it seemed to
accord almost premeditatedly with certain points in her own character.

Here, to Horace Townsend, the curtain of that morning shut down. He passed
on and did not see the meeting between Captain Hector Coles, and "the lady"
(more or less) "of his love," which may or may not have been cordial and
agreeable to an extreme!

       *       *       *       *       *

Another of those inevitable dashes, here. They are very useful, as they
prevent the necessity of a steady and unbroken narration which would not be
at all like real life--that thing most unsteady and most constantly broken
into fragments.

The reader, who is perhaps by this time somewhat sated with White Mountain
scenery (though, sooth to say, no gazer, however old a habitue, ever was
so)--the reader is to be spared any further infliction, except as one
remaining point of personal adventure may require the advantage of
appropriate setting; and the mountains themselves are soon to fade away
behind writer and reader, as they have faded away amid longing and
lingering looks from the eyes of so many, losing their peaks one by one as
they swept up Northward by rail from Gorham or rolled down Southward by
coach through the long valley of the Pemigawasset to Plymouth. The thousand
miscellaneous beauties of the White Mountain Notch, grander than those at
the Franconia but far less easy of intelligent description--the magnificent
long rides down the glen and over the bridges that span the leaping and
tumbling rock-bedded little Saco--the Willey House with its recollections
of a sad catastrophe and its one-hundred-and-fifty-eighth table being cut
up and sold in little chips at a dime each, as "the one used by the
unfortunate Willey Family,"--all these must wait the eye that is yet to see
them for the first time, or linger unrecounted in the memories of those who
have made them a loving study in the past. Personal adventure must hurry
on, like the ever accelerating course of the goaded and maddened nation,
and eliciting the same inquiry--_whither_?

Two days following the events already recorded, and all the different
characters involved in this portion of the life-drama, yet lingered at the
Crawford. On one of the two days another ascent of Mount Washington had
been made; but with the exception of Mrs. Burton Hayley, her daughter and
Captain Hector Coles, all those people peculiarly belonging to us had
already made the ascent, and it was the intention of the Philadelphia
matron (perhaps a little influenced by the story of the Vanderlyn peril)
to go up herself and take up her small party from the Glen House by
carriage, when her stay at the Crawford should be completed.

In all that time we have no data whatever for declaring the state of
affairs existing between Halstead Rowan and the lady whose auburn hair had
lain for those few blissful moments on his breast. Probably no explicit
love-declaration had passed between them; and Mrs. Vanderlyn and her
arrogant son were sufficiently familiar with all the modes by which those
who wish to be together can be kept apart, to prevent any of those
dangerous "opportunities" which might otherwise have brought an immediate
_mesalliance_ upon the stately house of Vanderlyn. If the would-be lovers
met, they only met beneath watchful eyes; and Halstead Rowan, who had
already displayed that amount of dash and recklessness in personal exposure
indicating that an elopement down the mountain roads, with a flying horse
beneath him and his arm around the lady's waist, would have been the most
congenial thing in life to his nature,--even had Clara Vanderlyn been weak
enough to yield to such a proposal, bore all the while within him too much
of the true gentleman to lower himself by a runaway alliance, or to
compromise the character of the woman he wished to make his wife by wedding
her otherwise than in the face of all who dared raise a word of opposition.
So there seemed--heigho, for this world of disappointments, hindrances, and
incongruities!--little prospect that any thing more could result from the
meetings that had already been so eventful, than an early and final
parting, and two lives shadowed by one long regret that the fates had not
ordained otherwise.

But little more can be said of the fortunes, during those two days, of
Horace Townsend and the lady of the proud eyes and the winning smile. Two
or three times they had met and conversed, but only for a moment, and they
had by no means ever returned again to the sudden cordiality and confidence
of that first morning. Something in the manner of Margaret Hayley seemed
to give token that she was frightened at the position she had assumed and
the emotions of her own heart (might she not well have been--she who but a
month or two before had been clasped to the breast of an accepted lover and
believed that she held towards him a life-long devotion?); and something in
the demeanor of Horace Townsend quite as conclusively showed that he was
treading ground of the solidity of which he was doubtful, and impelled to
utter words that could not be spoken without sacrificing the whole truth of
his manhood! Captain Hector Coles had believed his name an assumed one and
looked after the initials on his handkerchief to satisfy himself of the
fact; and the reader has found reason to believe that there was really an
assumption: did that departure from truth already begin to assert its
penalty, when he was brought into contact with a woman who showed her own
candor so magnificently? Strange problems, that will be solved eventually
without any aid from the imagination.

Once during that two days there had been a collision between the lawyer and
the V. A. D. C., not one word of which, probably, had reached the ears of
the lady in whose behalf it had occurred, from the lips of the politic
Captain, or from any of those who saw and heard it,--as it certainly had
not been hinted to her by the other party in the rencontre.

That collision had happened in this wise.

On the afternoon of the same day on which the very pleasant interview with
Margaret Hayley took place in the parlor of the Crawford, Horace Townsend
strolled into the billiard-saloon. Since the night before, in one
particular direction, he had been decidedly ill-tempered, not to say
ferocious; and however he might have been softened for the moment by the
encounter of the morning, in one respect that encounter had left him much
more likely to assault the man who had calumniated him so foully, than he
could have been before a certain assurance had been given him on that
occasion. Then the officer's stare into his face, when leaving the room,
had not tended to remove any of his bile; he did not believe, it is
probable, that he would stand any the worse with the peculiarly constituted
Margaret Hayley, in the event of an insult to the man who had insulted
_him_ coming to her knowledge; and in short he had been all day prepared,
at any time when he could do so with most effect, to repay him, interest
included, in his own coin of ill-treatment. How soon or how effectually his
opportunity was coming--_the_ opportunity of all others for a stab in a
vital part,--he had no idea when he entered the billiard-room.

Several gentlemen were there, some playing and others smoking and in
conversation. In one corner of the room, conversing with two or three
others, Captain Hector Coles was giving a graphic account of the Battle of
White Oak Swamp, in the retreat from the Peninsula, during one period of
which, according to his account, General ---- was wounded and all the field
officers of a whole division cut up, so that he, though only on the staff
and without positive command, was obliged to direct all the movements and
eventually to head three different charges by which the enemy, four or five
times superior in numbers in that part of the field, were finally repulsed
with great slaughter. The story, as told, was a good one, and Captain
Hector Coles played the part of Achilles in it to perfection, especially as
there did not happen to be present (and there is strong reason to believe
that he had assured himself of the fact in advance) a single officer who
had shared in the Peninsular campaign. He was emphatically, just then, the
hero of the hour, in that most assured of all points of view, a military
one. It does not follow that Horace Townsend had been an actor in the
Peninsular campaign, but he certainly arrogated to himself some knowledge
of very small details that had taken place at Glendale, for he was guilty
of the great rudeness of breaking in upon a conversation in which he was
not included, with a question that served as a sort of pendant to the story
of the Captain:

"Let me see--it was in one of those charges, Captain, or was it while
carrying some order, that you had that bad attack of giddiness in the head
and were obliged to dismount and lie behind one of the brush-heaps in the
swamp for an hour?"

"Who the----." The Captain, who had not recognized the voice or seen the
intruder, began to ask some question which he never finished, for he
checked himself as suddenly as if he had been about committing a serious
blunder. But he recovered himself very quickly, and pieced-out the remark
so that it seemed very much as if he had pursued his original intention.

"Who the ---- are _you_, Horace Townsend as you call yourself, to put in
your remarks when _gentlemen_ are in conversation?"

"Oh, I beg pardon, I did not know that you were ashamed of it. I happened
to hear Colonel D---- relate the little circumstance not long after the
battle; and I thought, from your leaving it out, that you might possibly
have forgotten it."

The gentlemen present stared from one to the other and said nothing. Such
plain speaking was a novelty even among the excitements of mountain life.
The Captain began by having a very white face, and ended with having a very
red one.

"Colonel D---- lied, if he said any thing of the kind!" he foamed.

"I will tell him you say so, the next time I meet him," was the cool reply,
"and you can try the little question of veracity between yourselves."

"No, I will try it with _you_!" the Captain almost shouted. "You are the
liar--not Colonel D----, and I will shoot you as I would a dog."

"You will be obliged to do it by waylaying me, then," answered the lawyer.
"Apart from any objection I may have to duels in the abstract, I certainly
am not going out with a _gentleman_," and he laid a terrible stress upon
the word--"a _gentleman_ who picks pockets."

"Gentlemen! gentlemen!" expostulated one or two at that period.

"Recall that word, or I will shoot you on the spot!" cried the Captain, his
face now fiery as blood itself, and his hand moving up to his breast as if
he really followed the cowardly practice of carrying a revolver there,
while meeting in peaceful society. If he had a weapon and momentarily
intended to draw it, he desisted, however.

"I will not recall the word, but I will explain it," answered the lawyer.
"I heard you confess last night, Captain Hector Coles, in the midst of
about half an hour's falsehoods about my poor self, that you had picked my
pocket of a handkerchief, the night before in the ten-pin alley. After that
and the little indisposition at White-Oak Swamp, I think you will all agree
with me, gentlemen, that I am under no obligations to afford that person
any satisfaction."

"Coward!" hissed the Captain. At the word a shiver seemed to go over the
lawyer's frame, but he only replied:

"Yes, that was what you called me last night! Excuse me, gentlemen, for
interrupting a very pretty little story, but I am going away and the
Captain will no doubt continue it."

He did go away, walking down towards the house, a little flushed in face
but otherwise as composed as possible. Captain Hector Coles did not tell
out his story, for some reason or other; and the moment after he too went
away.

"What the deuce is it all about?" asked one of the gentlemen when they had
both departed.

"Haven't the least idea," said another. "Though, by the way, the Captain
has a very pretty woman with him--I wonder if there should not be a lady at
the bottom of the trouble, as usual?"

"Seemed to be some truth in that story about getting giddy in the head, by
the way it hit!" said a third.

"Don't look much like cowards, either of them," said a fourth. "And, now
that I think of it--wasn't that the name--Townsend--of the fellow who
leaped into the Pool the other day over at the Profile?"

"Don't know--shouldn't wonder--well, let them fight it out as they
please--none of _our_ business, I suppose!" rejoined one of the others; and
the party dispersed in their several directions.

Such was the scene in the billiard room; and it was not strange that more
than a day after, no report of it had come to the ears of Margaret Hayley
or her mother, through the medium of any of the bye-standers; for the
persons most nearly interested are not those who first hear such
revelations of gossip. That neither the Captain nor Horace Townsend should
personally have spoken of it to Margaret is quite as natural, for reasons
easily appreciated. That young lady, with two lovers more or less declared,
was accordingly very much in the dark as to the peculiarly volcanic
character of her admirers and the chances that at some early day they might
fall to and finish each other up on the Kilkenny-cat principle, leaving her
with none!

       *       *       *       *       *

The third day after the ascent of Washington by our party witnessed its
disruption in some important particulars. The morning stage down the Notch
took away the Vanderlyns, on their way to Lake Winnipiseogee and thence to
Newport. They had been in the mountains little more than a week, but seen
most of the points of interest at the Franconia and White Notches; and
other engagements, previously formed, were hurrying them forward, as
humanity in the New World is always hurried, whether engaged in a pleasure
tour or a life labor. They left a vacancy behind them, and foretold the
gradual flight of all those summer birds who had made the mountains
musical, and the coming of those long and desolate winter months when the
rooms then so alive with life and gayety should all be bare and empty, the
snow lying piled in valley and on mountain peak so deeply that no foot of
man might venture to tread them, and the wild northern blast wailing
through the gorges and around the deserted dwellings as if sounding a
requiem for the life and love and hope fled away.

They left a blank--all the three; and yet how different was the vacancy
caused by each of the three departures! Mrs. Vanderlyn, a lady in the
highest fashionable acceptance of the term, but so proud and stately that
her better qualities were more than half hidden beneath the icy crust of
conventionalism,--had dazzled much and charmed to a great degree, but won
no regard that could not be supplied, after a time, by some other. Her son
Frank, handsome and gifted but arrogant beyond endurance, had won no
friends wherever he moved, except such friends as money can mould from
subservience; and his going away left no regrets except in the breasts of
the landlords whom he lavishingly patronized and the servants whom he
subsidized after the true Southern fashion. But Clara Vanderlyn, who seemed
to have fallen among the mountains with the softness, innocence and
tenderness of a snow-flake--Clara with her gentle smile, her sweet, low
voice and wealth of auburn hair,--the friends _she_ had formed from the
rough ore of strangerhood and then from the half-minted gold of mere
acquaintance, were to be numbered only by counting the inmates of the
houses where she made her sojourn; and there was not one, unless the
exception may have been found in some spiteful old maid who could not
forgive her not being past forty, angular and ugly, or some man of
repulsive manners and worse morals who had been intuitively shunned by the
pure, true-hearted young girl--not one but lifted up a kind thought half
syllabled into breath, as they caught the last glimpse of the sunny
head--"God bless her!"

It is a rough, difficult world--a cold, hard world, in many regards. The
brain is exalted at the expense of the heart, and scheming intellect
counted as the superior of unsuspicious innocence and goodness.
"Smart"--"keen"--"sharp"--these are the flattering adjectives to be applied
even to the sisters we love and the daughters we cherish, while in that
one word "soft" lies a volume of depreciation. And of those educated with
such a thought in view, are to be the mothers of our land if we have a land
remaining to require the existence of mothers. Is not a little leaven of
unquestioning tenderness necessary to season the cold, hard, crystallizing
mass? Will womanhood still be that womanhood which has demanded and won our
knightly devotion, when all that is reliant and yielding becomes crushed or
schooled away and clear-eyed Artemis entirely usurps the realm once ruled
by ox-eyed Juno? Will there be any chivalry left, when she who once awoke
the spirit of chivalry stands boldly out, half-unsexed, the equal of man in
guile if not in bodily strength, and quite as capable of giving as of
requiring protection? And may we not thank God for the few Clara Vanderlyns
of the age--the gentle, impulsive, unreasoning souls, who make the heart
the altar upon which the first and best tribute of life is to be laid--who
love too soon, perhaps, and too irrevocably, but so escape that hard, cold
mercantile calculation of the weight of a purse and the standing of a lover
in fashionable society, upon which so many of their sisters worse wreck
themselves than they could do by any imprudent love-match that did not
bring absolute starvation within a twelvemonth?

This is something of a rhapsody, perhaps; and let it be so. It flows out,
unbidden, under the impulse of a gentle memory; and sweet Clara Vanderlyn,
when she goes to her long rest, might have a worse epitaph carved upon the
stone above her head, than the simple legend: "She lived to love."

But if the going away of Clara Vanderlyn left a blank in the social circle
at the Crawford, what must have been the effect produced by it upon
Halstead Rowan, the chivalrous and the impressible, with a heart as big as
his splendid Western physique, who could have little prospect of ever
meeting her again except under circumstances of worse disadvantage than had
fought against him in the mountains, and who could entertain no more hope
of ever wedding her without bringing her painfully down from her position
in society, than he could of plucking one of the stars harmlessly from its
place in heaven!

The Illinoisan was not upon the piazza when the coach drove away. If any
farewell had been made, it had been made briefly and hurriedly, where no
eye but their own could see it. Horace Townsend thought of all that has
been here set down, and looked around for Rowan at the moment of their
departure; but he was invisible. The lawyer had himself a pleasant word of
farewell and shake of the hand as she stepped to her seat in the coach,
from the young girl whose dangerous perch upon the pinnacle of the
mountains he was not likely soon to forget; and then the door closed and
she disappeared from his sight perhaps forever in life, leaving him
thinking of the pleasant afternoon, so few days before, when he gazed for
the first time upon her sweet face as they came up from Plymouth and
Littleton,--and of the romance connected with her which had since been
crowded into so brief a space.

He saw nothing of Rowan for an hour after. Then he met him walking alone up
the road north of the house, with his head bent down a little and something
dim and misty about the eyes that even gave a suspicion of the late
unmanliness (that is what the world calls it!) of tears. He raised his head
as he recognized the lawyer, and held out his hand in a silence very unlike
his usual bold, frank greeting. Townsend, who may all the while have had
quite enough matters of his own to demand his whole attention, could not
help pitying the subdued manner and the downcast look that sat so strangely
upon the usually cheerful face. There had been nothing like it before,
within his knowledge--not even on the night when he had been so foully
insulted by Frank Vanderlyn at the Profile.

The lawyer knew, intuitively, what must be the subject of conversation to
which the mind of Rowan would turn, if his lips did not; and he felt quite
enough in his confidence to humor him.

"I did not see you this morning," he said.

"When they went away?--no!" was the answer. No fear that his listener could
misunderstand who "they" were, and he did not display the cheap wit of
pretending to do so.

"You look down-hearted! Come--that will never do for the
mountains--especially for the boldest rider and the most dashing fellow
that has ever stepped foot among them!" and he laid his hand somewhat
heavily on the shoulder of the other, as if there might be power in the
blow to rouse and exhilarate. It did indeed produce the effect of making
him throw up his head to its usual erect position, but it was beyond any
physical power to lighten the dark shadow that lay upon his face.

"You are a good fellow as well as a gentleman, Townsend," he said. "I wish
_I_ was a gentleman--one of the miserable dawdling things that know nothing
else than small talk and the use of their heels. Then, and with plenty of
money, I should know what to do."

"And what _would_ you do?" asked the lawyer.

"Marry the woman I loved, in less than a month, or never speak to a woman
again as long as I lived!" was the energetic reply. "As it is, I am a poor
devil--only a railroad conductor! What business have _I_, with neither
money in my pocket nor aristocratic blood in my veins, to think of a woman
who has white hands and knows nothing of household drudgery?"

"A woman, however," said Townsend, "who could and would learn household
drudgery, and do it, for the sake of the man she loved--well, there is no
use in mincing the matter--for _you_,--and think it the happiest thing she
ever did in all her life!"

"God bless her sweet face! do you think so? do you really believe that
personally she likes me well enough to marry me if my circumstances were
nearer her own?" He had grasped Townsend by the hand with one of his own
and by the arm with the other, with all the impetuosity of a school-boy;
but before the latter could answer he dropped the hand and the tone of
inquiry, and said: "Pshaw! What use in asking that question?--I _know_ she
could be happier with me than with any other man in the world, and that
makes the affair all the more painful."

"Heigho!" said the lawyer, "you are not the only man in the world who does
not see his way clearly in matrimonial affairs, and you must not be one of
the first to mope."

"I suppose not," replied the Illinoisan. "But then you, with your wealth
and education--you can know nothing of such a situation except by guess;
and so your sympathy is a little blind, after all."

"Think so?" asked Horace Townsend. "Humph! well, old boy, confidence for
confidence, at least a little! Look me in the face--do you see any thing
like jest or trifling in it?"

"No, it is earnest, beyond a doubt."

"Then listen for one moment. Halstead Rowan, I do not believe that there is
any barrier between Clara Vanderlyn and yourself, that cannot be removed if
you have the will to remove it. Now for myself. What would you think--" He
stopped and seemed to consider for a moment, while the other watched him
narrowly and with much interest. Then he went on: "You saw me meet--well,
we will mention no names--the lady down at the house, the same night on
which you chanced upon your own destiny."

"Yes," answered the Illinoisan.

"You thought, no doubt, that it was a first meeting. And so it was, on her
part, for she had never before met Horace Townsend, to know him. But what
would you think if I should tell you that I had seen and loved _her_, many
months before--that she was then engaged to be married to a very different
person, though a man in the same profession--that I love her so madly as to
make my life one long torture on her account--that I am throwing myself
into her company, under circumstances that if she knew them would make her
shrink away from me with loathing--and that such a barrier exists between
us that I have not much more hope of winning her than of bending down one
of yon mountain peaks to kiss me, while I can no more avoid the trial than
the drunkard can keep away from his glass or the madman escape his
paroxysm!"

"Is all that true?" asked Rowan, who had been looking at the speaking face
with still increasing wonder.

"Every word of it, and more!" was the reply.

"Then _my_ situation is nothing, and I have been whining like a school-boy
before I was half whipped!" exclaimed the Illinoisan. The effect intended
by the other had been produced: he had been made to see that there could be
even worse barriers between man and woman, than differences of family and
fortune. And once teach any man that there is something worse that might
have happened to him, than that which has indeed happened--much is achieved
towards bringing him to resignation if not to content.

"I have told you all this," said the lawyer, "partially because I felt that
I had no right to be acquainted with so much in your situation while you
knew nothing of mine, and partially because I was really anxious to show
you that others than yourself sometimes find rocks in the bed of that
pleasant stream which the poets call 'true love.' And now that I have gone
so far, involving reputation as well as happiness, I know that you will do
me the only favor I ask in return, and forget that I have said a word on
the subject."

"I have forgotten it already, so far as repeating it to any mortal man is
concerned," replied the Illinoisan. He paused an instant, as his friend had
done before, and then he added: "Meeting you has been the pleasantest--no,
one of the pleasantest incidents of my days among the mountains, and I am
glad that you have made me feel so much nearer to your confidence at the
moment of parting."

"Parting? What, are you going away already?" asked Townsend.

"At once," answered Halstead Rowan. "I should think, though, that you
would scarcely need to ask the question! My friends and myself are going to
start back for Littleton immediately after dinner, and on to Montreal
to-morrow. Do you think that I could sit at that table, as I feel just now,
more than one meal longer, and think of the vacant chairs? No--I am a baby,
I suppose, and God knows whether I shall ever grow any older and wiser!"

"God forbid that you ever _should_ grow so old and so wise as to be able to
master your heart altogether!" said the lawyer. "I am sorry to part with
you, for I too, have made a pleasant acquaintance. But you are right, no
doubt. Try a little change of scene; and you will be calmer next week, if
not happier."

They were now near the house, and walked on for a moment in silence.
Suddenly Rowan, catching up the last words at some distance, turned short
around and said:

"Townsend, I am going to change something besides scene--_life_! I am going
back into the army again, not for a frolic this time, but as a profession.
Officers are _gentlemen_, are they not, even in fashionable society?--and
would not a pair of shoulder-straps make somebody even out of a railroad
conductor?"

His tone was half badinage, but oh, what a sad earnest lay at the bottom of
it! His companion understood him too well to reply, and the conversation
was not renewed. They parted at the piazza a moment after. Two or three
hours later, after a long grasp of the hand which went far to prove that
strong friendship between men has not become altogether a myth since the
days of David and Jonathan, of Damon and Pythias, they parted at the same
piazza once more and for a period that no human calculation could measure.
Horace Townsend and Halstead Rowan were almost as certain never to meet
again after that parting moment, as if one of the two had been already done
with life and ticketed away with the dead Guelphs and Bourbons!



CHAPTER XIX.

     A STRANGE CHARACTER AT BREAKFAST--"THE RAMBLER" AND HIS
     ANTECEDENTS--WHAT HORACE TOWNSEND HEARD ABOUT FATE--GOING UP
     TO PIC-NIC ON MOUNT WILLARD--THE PLATEAU, THE ROPE AND THE
     SWING--SPREADING THE BANQUET--THE DINNER-CALL AND A CRY
     WHICH ANSWERED IT--A FEARFUL SITUATION.


At breakfast, the next morning after the departure of the Illinoisan, a
somewhat strange character was called to the attention of the guests at the
Crawford; and a few of them, sitting near him, entered into conversation
with him when they discovered the peculiar habits of life and mind which
had for years made him an object of interest to visitors among the
mountains. He had been absent southward of the range, in Pinkham Notch, at
Glen Ellis Falls and other wild localities lying north of Conway, for the
preceding two or three weeks, only arriving the night before; and very few
of the persons then present at the Crawford had seen him except in
half-forgotten meetings in previous years. He called himself and was called
by others who knew him (very few of whom, probably, knew him by any other
name) "The Rambler," and his habits of life were said to justify the
appellation most completely, as his appearance certainly accorded with the
preconceived opinions of an itinerant hermit.

He was a man evidently past fifty, with a face much wrinkled by time and
roughened by exposure--with a high forehead bald nearly to the apex of the
head, long grizzled hair, rapidly approaching to white, tumbled about in
careless profusion, beard straggling and ungraceful and graying as fast as
the hair, and something melancholy and unsettled in the eye which indicated
that his wandering habits might have had an origin, many years before, in
some loss or misfortune that made quiet a torture. In figure he was rather
below than above the middle height, with a certain wiriness in the limbs
and a hard look in the bones and tendons of the hand, suggestive of unusual
activity and an iron grip.

But when they came to know more of him from the explanations of the
servants and a little listening to his own conversation, those who on that
occasion first met him had reason to confess that the Rambler needed all
the iron nerve and hard endurance indicated by his physique. They believed
him to be a man of means, and he certainly spent money with freedom if not
with lavishness, the supply seeming to be as slight and yet as
inexhaustible as that of the widow's cruse. He spent very little of it upon
his own person, however: such a suit of coarse gray woollen as he wore that
morning, with a slouched hat and strong brogan shoes, usually completing
his outer equipment. Sometimes he carried a heavy cane, but much oftener
went armed with a stout staff of his own length, cut with ready hawks-bill
jack-knife from a convenient oaken or hickory sapling and trimmed from its
superabundance of knots by the same easily-managed substitute for a whole
"kit" of carpenters'-tools.

This man, as it appeared, had never missed coming to the mountains for a
single summer of the preceding fifteen years. Whence he came, no one knew;
and whither he went when his season was over (_his_ season had very little
to do with the fashionable one, in commencement or duration), was known
quite as little. He might be looked for, they said, at the Profile, the
Crawford, the Glen, the Alpine, the White Mountain or down in Pinkham
Notch, at any time after they began to paint up and repair the houses for
the reception of visitors, in early June; and he might be expected to make
his appearance at any or all of those places, any day or no day, during the
fall season and even up to the time when the last coach-load rolled away in
September and the first snows began to sprinkle themselves on the brows of
Washington and Lafayette. He never remained at any one of the houses more
than a few hours at a time, carrying away from each a few sandwiches, a
little dried tongue, some cheese and crackers in a small haversack, and
sleeping nine nights out of ten in the open air, with no pillow but a stone
or a log of wood, and his slouched hat. Most of the time he was alone on
the tops of the most difficult peaks or at the bottom of gorges where no
foot but his own would be likely to tread; or he was to be seen dodging
across a path, staff in hand and haversack on side, as a party was making
some one of the ascents,--rather shunning any company then seeking it, and
yet evidently neither misanthropic nor embarrassed when thrown into society
and forced into conversation. Wherever he wished to go he went on foot,
even when thirty or forty miles of rough mountain roads and paths were to
be measured; and no man, they averred, had ever seen him set foot over the
side of a vehicle or recognize the right of the animal man to be drawn
about from place to place by his brother animal the horse.

So far the Rambler, according to the accounts given of him, was merely a
harmless monomaniac--harmless even to himself, as all monomaniacs are
_not_. But beyond that point, the servants and some of the old habitues
averred, came positive madness. He had been mad, since the first day of his
coming to the mountains and perhaps long before, on the idea of _climbing_.
Many had seen him go up to those peaks and down into those ravines before
mentioned, and found as little disposition as ability to follow him. He
seemed to climb without purpose, except his purpose might be the mere
reckless exposure of himself to danger at which every one except himself
would draw back with a shudder. And that he did this without any motive
outside of himself for the action--that he had no thought of awakening
admiration by such exhibitions,--was evident from the fact that he was just
as likely to make some ascent or descent of the most reckless
fool-hardiness, when he did not know of the presence of any other person
within possible sight, as when he had groups of horrified spectators; and
that loneliness was not a condition precedent to such an attempt, was just
as evident from the fact that he never seemed to desist because one person
or fifty came suddenly upon him and "caught him in the act." He seemed to
live in a climbing world of his own, in which he was the only resident and
all the others merely chance visitors who might or might not be in the way
when he found it necessary to hang himself like a fly on the crags between
heaven and earth.

We are making no attempt whatever at analyzing the mentality of this
singular man, whom many will remember as having met him during some period
of the last dozen years, at one or more of the Notches of the White
Mountains. As well might the attempt be made to survey one of his own
mountain tops or discover the superfices of one of the mighty masses of
perpendicular rock that so often afforded him a footing at which the
chamois would have given up in despair and Hervio Nano (that human "fly on
the ceiling") writhed his boneless limbs in a shudder! We are only roughly
daguerreotyping the man as he appeared, preparatory to one terrible
incident which made him an important character in this narration. Were any
effort to be made at explaining his strange and apparently purposeless
predilection, perhaps one word would come as near to furnishing the
explanation as five hundred others--_excitement_. One man drinks liquors
until he goes beyond himself; another invites to his brain the tempting
demons of opium, hasheesh or nicotine; another perils his prosperity and
the very bread of his family at play; still another plunges into pleasure
so deeply that the draught is all the while maddening agony; and yet
another claps spur on heel and takes sword in hand and rides into the thick
of the deadliest fight, without one motive of patriotism or one thought of
duty: and all these are seeking that which will temporarily lift them above
and beyond themselves (alas!--that which will just as assuredly plunge them
_below_ themselves, in reaction!)--excitement. Who knows that the poor
Rambler, bankrupt in heart, hope and memory, had not tasted all the other
maddening bowls and found them too weak to wean him from his hour of
suffering, so that when the frequent paroxysm came he had no alternative
but to place himself in some position where the hand and the foot could
become masters of every thought and feeling, that the rude minstrelsy of
deadly danger might thus charm away the black moment from his soul!

All this is mere speculation--the man may have been nothing more nor less
than a maniac; and yet his conversation, which was coherent and marked by
entire propriety, did not create any such impression.

No one who has made any study of the scenery of our Northern Mountains
fails to know that many of them (and almost all the White Mountains that
have full descent on either side to either of the Notches) in addition to
the bald scarred brows of cliff that on one side or another seem like faces
lifting themselves in stern defiance to the storm,--have chased down them,
from brow to foot, channels or "schutes" from which the torrent or the
lightning has originally shorn away trees, herbage and at last earth, every
year wearing them deeper and making more startling the contrast of the
almost direct line of bluish gray cliff, seeming the very mockery of a path
that no man can walk, with the green of the living grass and foliage and
the white skeletons of the dead birches, that border them on either side.
Perhaps no feature of the mountain scenery is more certain to awake a
shudder, than such "schutes," as looked up to from below or down upon from
above; as the thought of a passage-way is inevitable, followed by the
remembrance of the headlong fall of any man who should attempt a progress
so nearly perpendicular, and that followed by the imagination that the
gazer has really attempted it and is falling. Mount Webster and Mount
Willard, at the White Mountain Notch, are more marked than almost any of
the others, by such features; and certain terrible adventures along those
"schutes" make part of the repertoires of guides and the boasting stories
of old habitues. With one of those descending Mount Willard, and the
points of scenery immediately surrounding it, we shall have painful
occasion to make more intimate acquaintance in this immediate connection.

These "schutes" and their topography were the subject of conversation at
the breakfast-table that morning, not alone on account of the presence of
the Rambler, which might have provoked it, but from the fact that a pic-nic
on the top of Mount Willard, in the near vicinity of one of those tempting
horrors, had been for some days in contemplation and the wagons were being
prepared for going up and the cold food packing away in baskets and hampers
at the very moment of that discussion.

"You must know the mountains remarkably well," one of the gentlemen at the
table was saying to the Rambler.

"I ought to do so," was the reply. "There is scarcely a spot from Littleton
to Winnipiseogee that my foot has not touched; and I may almost say that
there is not a spot where I have not eaten or slept." He said this in a
manner as far removed from any desire to make a display of himself as from
any thing like modesty--merely as the fact, and therefore a matter of
course.

"I heard you speaking of climbing the schutes a moment ago, but I did not
quite catch what you said," spoke another. "You certainly cannot hold on to
the rocks alone, when they are so nearly perpendicular, can you?"

"Oh, no," answered the Rambler, "of course that would be impossible. I
suppose I have a sure foot and a steady hand, and those schutes always have
trees and shrubbery beside them, all the way down. It is no trouble to hold
on to _them_--at least it is not so to _me_."

"Ugh!" said yet another--"rather you than me! Such exposures are terrible!"
and he shuddered at the picture his imagination had been drawing.

"They may be terrible, and I suppose that they are so, to some people," was
the quiet reply. "Habit is every thing, no doubt. Some of you might walk
into battle, if you have been there before, a good deal more coolly than I
could do, even though you had a good deal more to sacrifice in life than
myself in the event of a bullet going astray."

"Bullets never go astray, nor do men fall down the rocks accidentally!" put
in a breakfaster who wore a white neckcloth but no mock-sanctimonious
visage. "I am afraid, brothers, that you all forget the Overruling Hand
which guides all things and prevents what thoughtless people call
'accidents.'"

"Ah!" said Horace Townsend. "Domine, do you carry fatalism, or
predestination, if you like the word any better,--so far as to believe that
every step of a man is supernaturally protected?"

"It is supernaturally _ordered_, beyond a doubt: it may be _protected_, or
quite the opposite," was the minister's smiling reply. "And I might go a
step further and say that every man is supernaturally _upheld_, when doing
a great duty, however dangerous, so that that result may follow, whether it
come in life or death, in success or failure--which may be eventually best
for _him_ as well as best for the interests of heaven and earth, all men
and all time."

"A sublime thought, and one that may be worth calling to mind a good many
times in life!" was all the reply that the lawyer made, and he took no
further part in the conversation. He sat back in his chair, the moment
after; and Margaret Hayley (who had now become to some extent his
"observer," as he had erewhile filled the same office to Halstead Rowan and
Clara Vanderlyn)--Margaret Hayley, sitting at a considerable distance up
the table on the opposite side, saw that his face seemed strangely moved,
and that there was intense thought in the eye that looked straight forward
and yet apparently gazed on vacancy.

Meanwhile the Rambler had not yet ceased to be an object of interest; and a
little warning (such as he had undoubtedly heard a good many times during
his strange life) was to follow the inquiries and the speculations.

"Then you probably do not think, Domine," said one of the interlocutors in
response to the remark which seemed to have struck Horace Townsend so
forcibly, "that our friend here is under any especial supernatural
protection when climbing up and down places where he has no errand whatever
except his own amusement."

"I might think so, if I had the power to decide that he was really
attempting no good whatever to himself or others," was the reply. "But as I
cannot so decide, though I certainly think such exposures of life very
imprudent, I shall be very careful not to express any such opinion."

"Well, sir, I certainly wish you no harm," said another, "but if all
accounts are true, I think that you expose yourself very recklessly, and I
expect, some day, to hear that the pitcher you have carried once too often
to the well is broken at last."

"Perhaps so," said the Rambler, without one indication on his features that
he was either frightened or moved by the suggestions. "I am long past the
middle of life--my limbs are not quite so nimble as they once were--and if
I do make a miss-step some time and get killed, I hope that they will allow
me to lie peaceably where I fall!"

After which strange wish the conversation went no further. Breakfast was
just breaking up; and a few moments afterwards some who were standing on
the piazza saw the Rambler stepping away down the road, haversack of bread,
cheese, and meats strapped under his left arm, and his weather-beaten
slouched hat thrown forward to shield his eyes from the morning sun that
came streaming low and broad up the Notch.

It was perhaps an hour afterwards when two wagons drew up at the door,
ready to bear some score of the visitors up Mount Willard for the expected
pic-nic. A third wagon had started ahead, bearing provisions enough to have
supplied a small army--all to be wasted or made into perquisites for the
servants by a frolic dictated a little by ennui and not a little by a love
for any thing novel or merry. Two or three of the young men staying at the
house had been up Mount Willard a few days before, and on their return they
had brought such flattering accounts of a magnificent broad, green plateau
which they had discovered (how many times it had before been discovered is
not stated) not far from the end of the carriage-road, on the southern brow
of the mountain and overlooking the cascades and the edge of the Devil's
Den,--that the effect produced on the as yet untravelled people at the
Crawford by the announcement was very much the same that we may suppose to
have been manifested at the Court of Castile and Leon when Columbus came
back with the Indians, the birds'-feathers and the big stories. The young
men had signalized their own faith in the desirableness of the land as a
place of permanent occupation, by possessing themselves of a small coil of
inch rope, lying unused in one of the out-houses since the re-erection of
the Crawford (after the fire of the winter before), in 1859, carting it in
a wagon up the mountain and to the tempting plateau, and there using one
end of it and a seat-board to make such a stupendous swing between two high
trees that stood on one side of the green space, as had probably never been
seen before in any locality where the clouds every morning tangled
themselves among the branches. One of them had declared that he had the
"highest old swing," in that "scup," ever taken by mortal, and a good many
believed him. The swing, with its hundred feet or more of super-abundant
rope, had remained as a permanence; a few of the ladies at the house had
been coaxed into going up Mount Willard especially to indulge in that
"scupping" which ordinarily belonged to low lands and lazier
watering-places; and for two or three days before preparations and
arrangements for a pic-nic had been in progress, destined to culminate on
that splendid cloudless morning of early August.

So much premised, nothing more need be said than that all the few persons
connected with this relation and yet remaining at the Crawford, were
members of the pic-nic party of twenty or twenty-five, a pleasant mingling
of both sexes but not of all the ages; that Captain Hector Coles and
Margaret Hayley went up especially in each other's company, as was both
usual and proper; that Mrs. Burton Hayley, getting ready to go on to the
Glen and a little absorbed in one of the ministerial brethren whom she had
found, did not ascend a mountain on any such vain and frivolous errand as a
mere pic-nic; that Horace Townsend rode up, in a different wagon from that
occupied by Margaret and her cavalier, and with no one in charge, or even
in especial company--precisely as he had gone up Mount Washington; that the
party, in both wagons, was very merry and tuned to the highest possible
pitch of enjoyment; that the usual jolts incidental to very bad mountain
roads were periodically encountered, and the little screams and jerkings at
protecting coats, ordinarily consequent thereupon, were evoked; that a few
magnificent views down the Notch and among the sea of peaks were enjoyed,
with a few contretemps among the riders adding zest thereto; that nearly
every one would have been willing to make oath that they had been "all but
upset down the mountain" several times, when they had not really been even
once in that threatening predicament; and that after something more than an
hour of riding they found themselves and their pic-nic preparations at the
end of the carriage-road and very near the diminutive promised land which
they had been invited and enticed to come up and occupy.

It was indeed, as those who had never before visited the place found upon
reaching it through a little clump of trees and bushes beyond the
termination of the road--a spot well worthy the attention of any visitor to
the Notch. Nothing else like it, probably, could have been found in the
whole chain of the White Mountains, following them from the head waters of
the Androscoggin to the mouth of the Pemigawasset. For the purposes of this
veracious narration it becomes necessary to describe some of the features
of the spot more closely than they would demand under ordinary
circumstances; and the reader may find it equally necessary to make close
application of the details of description, in order fully to appreciate
that which must inevitably follow, beyond the control of either reader or
writer.

At some day, no doubt many a long year before, whether caused by the
melting of the snows at the top of the mountain or by some one of those
internal convulsions which the earth seems to share with the human atom who
inhabits it,--there had been a heavy "slide" from near the peak on the
south-south-western side, coming down perhaps a quarter of a mile before
earth and stone met with any check. Then the check had been sudden and
severe, from some obstruction below, and as a consequence the slide had
gone no farther downward but spread itself into a broad plateau of fifty or
sixty feet by one hundred, nearly level though with a slight inclination
downward towards the edge. There had chanced to be but few rocks at the top
of this mass of earth, and the southern exposure and shelter from the north
winds had no doubt tended to warm and fertilize it, so that while much of
the top of the mountain was bald, scarred and bare, and all the remainder
covered with wild, rough forest--this little plateau had really grown to be
covered with grassy sward, of no particular luxuriance but quite a marvel
at that bleak height. Behind it, upward, the mountain rose gradually
towards the peak, seen through a younger growth of trees that had found
their origin since the catastrophe which swept away all their predecessors.
On both sides the thick tangled woods closed down heavily, leaving no view
in either direction, except through their swaying branches; while in the
direction of the slide itself, no tree intervening between the plateau and
its edge, one of the most beautiful perspectives of the whole mountain
range spread itself out to the admiring gaze.

Looking close as possible down the side of Mount Willard, at that point,
the trees and undergrowth of the gorge below, some fifteen hundred or two
thousand feet away, could be discerned, through that slight blue haze
which marks distance and faintly suggests the great depth of the sky.
Lifting the eye, it swept south-westward and took in a terribly rough range
of wooded hills and minor mountain peaks, with a broad intervale lying
between, through which glittered and flashed the little stream with its
white cascades which gave name to the spot, hurrying down in foam and fury
to join the Saco in the broad valley below. Further westward and at still
greater distance rose the mountains lying behind Bethlehem, with the top of
Lafayette, of the Franconia range, rising yet higher and beyond all,
touched with the warm light of the noonday sun and supplying a perfect
finish to what was truly an enchanting picture.

But at the edge of the plateau itself lay that which must command the most
special notice in this connection. Whether formed before the slide or
consequent upon it, one of the most precipitous of all the "schutes" of the
mountains had its start at the very centre. It had worn away the earth of
the plateau in the middle, until it reduced it nearly to the stone of the
first formation; while at the side of the narrow trough thus formed, thick
trees and undergrowth clustered as far down as the eye could extend, with
one sharp bend outward at the right, and striking out still beyond that,
the massive roots of a fallen tree, of which the trunk lay buried in the
earth and covered with undergrowth, while one long thorn or fang of the
root hung half way across the chasm and suggested that there of all places,
above the dizzy depth beneath, one of those eagles should sit screaming,
that are supposed ever to have kept position on some such outpost, shouting
hoarse rage and defiance through far away and desolate Glencoe, ever since
the massacre of the Macdonalds. Still below this and almost touching the
stony bottom of the trough of the schute, another and much smaller fang of
root extended, the broad bulk of the side-roots forming a close wall
between the two branches and the hedge of undergrowth, almost as impervious
to the hand of man and as unfavorable for any purpose of clinging, as the
sloping stone itself. It was a dizzy thing to look down--that schute, as
some of the stronger-sexed, clearer-headed and surer-footed of the pic-nic
party found by venturing near the edge, and as they did not feel it
necessary to reassure themselves by any second examination.

The baskets and hampers had been brought over from the baggage-wagon, at
the same time that the party themselves made their arrival. Why it is that
people who go out upon pic-nics, in any part of the country or indeed in
any part of the globe, with high expectations of much enjoyment which is to
be found in other modes than the use of the masticative apparatus,--why it
is, we say, that all such persons, even though they may have eaten heartily
not two hours before, become ravenously hungry the very moment they reach
the ground designated and are good for nothing thereafter until they have
rendered themselves helpless by over-eating,--why all this is, we say once
more, passes human understanding; but the fact remains not the less patent.
Let any frequenter of pic-nics think backward and try whether he or she can
remember any instance to the contrary,--and whether the conclusion has not
been more than once arrived at, in his or her particular mind, that the
true aim and object of the pic-nic, as an institution, is to enjoy the
eating of a bad dinner away from the ordinary table instead of a good one
properly spread upon it.

The party on Mount Willard was mortal, and they bowed at once to this
unaccountable weakness of mortality. Five minutes of inspecting the ground
and viewing the scenery; and then, while the more selfish members of the
company or those who had eaten heartier breakfasts, flirted, strolled, or
indulged in the doubtful pleasures of the swing (which hung between two
tall trees at the left of the plateau, with a loose hundred feet of rope at
the root of one), the less selfish or the more hungry applied themselves to
spreading out on the dry sward the half dozen of cloths that had been
brought up from the hotel, and to laying out upon it, in various stages
and phases of damage and disarrangement, eatables which had been
appetizing enough when they left the Crawford, but of which, now, they
would have been seriously puzzled to separate the fish from the farina or
the maccaroni from the mustard.

The helpful ladies and their male assistants had just succeeded in
producing that amount of confusion among the articles on the spread
table-cloths which was supposed to represent arranging the lunch,--and the
call for volunteers to disarrange it more effectually with forks and
fingers was about to be made,--when one of the gentlemen looked up suddenly
as a shadow passed him.

"Our friend the Rambler," he said as the other, with a slight nod,
recognized his notice and passed on down the plateau towards the thicket at
the north-western edge.

"Why yes," said one of the ladies. "He walked and we rode, and yet he seems
to have been up before us, for he is coming down from the farthest side of
the mountain."

"Shall I call him and ask him to take a share in our dinner?" asked one of
the male stewards.

"No, it would be useless: the Rambler, they say, generally chooses his own
society, and he probably would not even thank us for the invitation,"
answered another. The strange man had by that time passed into the thicket
bordering the edge of the schute at the right, and was seen no longer. Some
of the pic-nickers noticed, as he passed, that he had no stick in his hands
and that his almost invariable companion, the haversack, was missing from
his side. But there seemed to be no occasion of commenting on so slight a
matter, and nothing was said with reference to it.

It must be confessed that among those who had not contributed in any way to
the spreading of the miscellaneous dinner upon the ground, were two persons
in whom this narration maintains a peculiar interest--Horace Townsend,
lawyer, and Margaret Hayley, gentlewoman. The lady had been among the early
visitors to the swing; and at the time of the disappearance of the Rambler
into the thicket at the edge of the schute, she was being swept backward
and forward in the air by that dizzying contrivance, at a rate which sent
her loosened wealth of dark hair and her light summer drapery floating
about in equal negligence and profusion, while the dainty white hands held
fast to the rope with a tenacity which showed them to possess a commendable
degree of nerve, and the trim dark gaiter enclosing her Arab foot, and the
spotless stocking that rose above it, had both just that measure of display
which preserved the extremest bound of delicacy and yet made the whole
spectacle strangely bewitching. Perhaps the extraordinary light in her eye
as she swung may have been a little influenced by one of the two pairs of
hands that supplied the careful impelling force; for those hands certainly
belonged to the lawyer, who had been a member of the idle section from the
beginning, while she had wilfully attached herself to it in spite of the
expostulations of the Captain. That gallant officer, by the way, had been
retained among the dinner-purveyors by the wiles and the threats of a
little dark-eyed minx from Providence, who cared no more for him than she
did for her shoe-lace, but who would flirt with him and make him flirt with
her, because she saw that he was arrogant, shoulder-strapped, and very much
afraid of being seen for a moment absent from the side of Margaret Hayley.
The Captain, who was not quite fool enough to believe that he had really
made a military conquest of the young Yankee girl, probably objurgated her
in his heart for her charming impudence; while Margaret, more gratified by
the relief than she cared to make manifest, may have made private
calculations of hugging that dear little tormentor the first moment when
she could catch her alone.

Such was the aspect of affairs--the young girl in the swing, Townsend and
another gentleman swinging her, half a dozen merry young men and girls
gathered around the trees or lying lazily on the grass, and the other and
more industrious half-score kneeling and bending and squatting around the
table-cloths at U. C. of the plateau,--when the arrangements (or
mis-arrangements) were judged to be complete and one of the male members of
the working-detail, a little hungry and disposed to be more than a little
witty, made up one hand into the shape of a trumpet and bawled through it:

"Oh yes,--oh yes!--know all men and several women by these presents that
the regal banquet is spread and that those who intend to eat are required
to eat now or ever after hold their pieces--if they can find any to hold!"

A merry farce--the very incarnation of thoughtless jollity,--the dinner and
the announcement. It rung out over the plateau, heard by all and certain to
be heeded by all; to be succeeded the very instant after by a sound that no
member of that company will ever forget until his dying day. A scream of
mortal agony and terror that seemed to rise from the depths of the schute,
nondescript in some respects, as unlike what any one then present had ever
heard, but unmistakably human because the last sounds of every repetition
shaped themselves into words that could be distinguished:

"Help!--help!--help!"

For one moment that fearful cry ceased and during that moment all was
silence among the pic-nickers. For that instant, too, probably more than
half the company believed that whatever the sound might be, it was the
prank of some unscrupulous joker, hidden away in the undergrowth near the
edge of the schute and intended to frighten the ladies out of any appetite
for their dinner. The time of its coming, immediately following the
dinner-call, was certainly favorable to that supposition. But when it
commenced again, the very instant after, louder and more shrill, so
evidently coming up from the depth below, the thought of practical jest
vanished and every cheek grew deadly white with the certainty that some
tragedy was being enacted near them, that human eye must be blasted by
seeing and that human hand could probably find no power to avert.

It would have seemed the most unlikely of all things, when that ambiguous
banquet on the top of the mountain was spread, that it should never be
eaten; and yet the fates had so destined. Old Ancæus had quite as little
faith in the prediction of the slave whom he overworked in his vineyard,
that he should never taste of the product of the vines; and when he held
the cup in his hand and the red wine was bubbling to the brim, ready to
show the audacious prophet the fallacy of his prediction, the muttered:
"There's many a slip between the cup and the lip!" no doubt fell upon
incredulous ears. But even then the cry rang out that called him to the
Hunt of the Calydonian Boar, and the spirit of the warrior was higher than
the pride of the wine-grower and the hard master. The heavy cup went
clanging to the earth, the blood of the grape flowing out to enrich once
more the ground from which it had been derived; and the tyrant hero rushed
away. The slaves had a new master, thereafter; and though Ancæus may have
supped with the gods on Olympus, on the night when the great fight was
over, he never tasted of that wine of his vineyard which had once even been
lifted to his lips! So tasted not the diners on that mountain in a far
distant land from that which held Olympus, even when the feast was spread
and the call had been made for their gathering.

It is impossible to say what point of time elapsed before any member of
that horrified company remembered the Rambler, his habits, the conversation
of that morning, and the fact that he had only a few moments before been
seen going in the direction from which that piteous cry was coming up. It
is impossible to measure it, for at such moments ages of sensation pass in
the very twinkling of an eye. Some of them did remember him, with a groan,
and perhaps the thought was general. At all events the consternation was
so--as general as if some one who had come away from the Crawford with them
in life and high hope, had suddenly been stricken dead before their eyes.
Margaret Hayley, with the frightened cry which even then shaped a feeling:
"Oh, Mr. Townsend, what _can_ that be!" dropped from the swing and was
caught in arms outstretched to receive her. By that time all seated around
the table-cloths had sprung to their feet; and at once every member of the
party, male and female, impelled by a curiosity that even overmastered
fear, rushed down the plateau towards the edge, as if some horrible madness
had seized all and they were about to spring off into the great chasm
below. But before they had reached the edge all the ladies except two and
several of the gentlemen recoiled; and it was only by degrees and under the
compelling attraction of that still ascending cry, that some of those
remaining could force themselves to the verge. Those who reached it at that
moment, and those who closed up the instant after, saw enough to make
Blondin and his brother-fools a non-necessity for the balance of their
natural lives; and the cry from below was answered, be sure, by a cry that
rang from every voice above when the sad spectacle met the eye.

It was indeed the subject of their past fear who supplied their present
horror; and the situation, keeping in view previous descriptions of the
locality, may be briefly conveyed.

It will be remembered that at the bend or elbow of the gulch, some thirty
feet below, two fangs of the root of a tree stretched out partially across
the chasm, the upper long and at some distance from the rock of the bottom,
the other shorter and lying very near it. It will also be remembered that
beneath both the schute stretched its long blue jagged line to the foot of
the mountain, not less than fifteen hundred or two thousand feet, with the
air between the top and bottom looking actually blue from distance,--and
that the schute itself was so nearly perpendicular that while any object
falling down it would probably touch it all the way from top to bottom, it
would go down almost with the velocity of the lightning and be rolled and
pounded to a mere ball before it had accomplished half of the descent.

On that lower fang of the root hung the Rambler--those who had seen him at
the Crawford recognized him at once, at that short distance; and it was
indeed from that throat so little accustomed to call for assistance from
any mortal hand, that the terrible cries of agony and appeals for help were
ascending. One hand grasped the root near the end, without being able to go
nearly round it, and one leg was caught round the root farther towards the
tree, with the bend at the knee forming a kind of hook so long as it could
retain its tension. The other arm and leg hung down, with the body, below,
and the long grizzled hair streamed away from the head that depended
downward in the direction towards which it seemed to be so fatally tending.
The face could be seen, as that was turned towards the cliff, but its
expression could not be recognized at that distance and in the reversed
position that it occupied. All that could be known, to any certainty, was
that there hung a human being, evidently unable even to recover a safer
hold upon the root, screaming for help that was hopeless, and as certain to
make the last plunge within a space of time that could be measured by
single minutes, or perhaps even by seconds, as the sun was certain to move
on in its course and the earth to retain its laws of gravitation!

Was there not cause, indeed, for that general cry of pitying horror from
above, which answered the cry of agony and terror from below?



CHAPTER XX.

     SUSPENSE IN DANGER, IN TWO SENSES--HORACE TOWNSEND WITH A
     NEW THOUGHT--THE USE OF A SWING-ROPE--AN INVITATION TO
     CAPTAIN HECTOR COLES--A FEARFUL PIECE OF AMATEUR
     GYMNASTICS--GOING DOWN INTO THE SCHUTE--SUCCESS OR
     FAILURE?--THE EVENT, AND MARGARET HAYLEY'S MADNESS--TWO
     UNFORTUNATE DECLARATIONS.


We have said that the whole body of the pic-nickers rushed up to the edge
of the plateau, and that all, or nearly all, caught glimpses of the
situation. Then came that cry, that shutting of the eyes and springing
back, until only three or four, of whom Horace Townsend was one and Captain
Hector Coles was _not_ another, remained on the verge. Margaret Hayley,
among those who had gazed down and drawn back, remained a few feet from the
edge, and the Captain was either so careful of her safety or so anxious to
furnish himself with an excuse for remaining no nearer, that he caught her
by the dress and retained his grip as if she had been some bundle of
quartermaster's goods that he was fearful of having slip through his
fingers! Frightened inquiries and equally frightened replies, mingled with
moans and sobs and wringings of female hands, went round the circle thus
scattered over the lower part of the plateau; and for a moment those noises
made the still-ascending cries for help almost inaudible.

Horace Townsend stood at the very edge, and except perhaps sharing in the
first cry, he had not uttered one word. He no doubt understood,
intuitively, like the rest, that the poor man must have been attempting the
mad descent, when the undergrowth by which he held fast gave way in his
hands, or some stone caved out beneath him, sending him headlong downward
for a plunge of two thousand feet, from which he had only been temporarily
stopped by striking and gripping the root of the tree as he fell. Beyond
this, and with reference to any possibility of saving the perilled man, he
was probably quite as much in the dark as any of the others. He stood half
bent, his dusky cheek pale and his face strangely contorted, his hands
clasped low as if wringing themselves surreptitiously, and the eyes beneath
his bent brow looking into the gulf as if he was trying to peer downward
into the eternal mystery which that man was so soon to fathom.

Suddenly his face lighted. "Hush! I must speak to that man!" he said, in a
low but intense voice, and the behest was obeyed so quickly that almost
total silence fell upon the top of the plateau.

"Hallo, below there!" he cried, as the call of agony ceased for an instant.

"Help! help! oh help! came back from below.

"Do you understand what I say?" again he called.

"Yes!--help! help!" came feebly back.

"Get that rope from the foot of the swing there, quick, some of you!" he
cried, and his voice seemed for the time to clear from its hoarseness and
ring like a trumpet. "Quick!--cut it away at the bottom and bring it all
here!"

Half a dozen of the young men and one or two of the ladies, delighted to
aid in any hope of saving the perilled man (for the most thoughtless of us
are naturally, after all, kind and averse to death and suffering), sprung
for the rope. Two of them reached the foot of the swing ahead of the
others, the pocket-knife of one was out in an instant, and in another
moment they came up dragging nearly or quite an hundred feet of strong inch
rope.

"We have a rope here that will hold you: can you catch it and hold on or
tie it around your body?" the lawyer called down again.

"No!"--the pained and weakening voice came back, and then they all knew
what had reduced that athletic and iron-gripped man to such a state that he
could make no effort to swing himself up again. He spoke brokenly and
feebly, but Horace Townsend and some of the others caught the words: "I
can't catch the rope--I put my right shoulder out of joint as I fell--I
can't hold on much longer--I shall faint with this pain--oh, can't some of
you help me?"

Then passed over the countenance of Horace Townsend one of those sweeping
expressions which make humanity something more or less than human. It may
have been the god stirring--it may have been the demon. No one saw it--not
even Margaret Hayley; for when he turned nothing more was to be seen than
that the brow was very dark, and that the lips were set grimly. The powers
looking downward from heaven on the falling of leaves and the nesting of
young birds may have remarked the whole expression and set it down at its
true worth, and that will eventually be found quite sufficient. Before he
turned he shouted, much louder and more authoritatively than he had spoken
before, to the man hanging between life and death below:

"Hold on, like a man! We _will_ do something to help you!"

Then he spoke to the two young men, one of whom yet held the end of the
rope:

"Tie a big loop in that rope, quick--ten or a dozen feet from the end."

They proceeded to do so, with not unskilful hands, and in that instant the
lawyer approached Captain Hector Coles, where he stood, only a few feet
off, still holding the dress of Margaret Hayley. He did not appear to see
_her_ at all, but she saw _him_, and there was that upon his face which
frightened her so that she literally gasped.

"Captain Coles!" he said, "do you know what you said of me the other night
and again the other day? There is a rope, and there is yet a chance to save
that man. Go down, if you are as brave as you boast, and save him. Do you
hear me?--go!"

"I? Humph!" That was all the reply that the Captain, half-stupefied, could
make to what he believed to be the words of a madman.

"No, I thought not!" sneered the voice through the hard lips. With the
words coat and vest were thrown off, and the tall, slight, athletic form
was developed with no concealment but the shirt and the closely-girt
trowsers. The shoes followed, and as they did so Margaret Hayley well
remembered where and when she had before seen that disrobing. She had grown
white as the collar and cuffs of her gray chambray; and she was so
paralyzed with wonder, fear, anxiety, and conflicting thought, that she
could not speak, and was on the point of falling. Yet all this time Horace
Townsend seemed to pay her no more attention or observation than he might
have done had she been a wooden post or a stone monument erected at the
same point of the plateau!

Not sixty seconds had elapsed after the throwing off of his outer garments,
when the lawyer, without another word to any one, seized the rope, looked
over the edge to see that the Rambler was still hanging to his thorn,
lowered down the line until the loop was nearly opposite to him, then
carried up the other end and with the volunteered assistance of one of the
young men firmly secured it with two or three turns and as many knots,
around the trunk of a stout sapling.

All saw the movement, now, and all began to understand it; but oh, with
what redoubled agitation was the truth realized! He was going down that
frail rope, and into what peril! The rope fastened, he stepped forward to
the verge, while a murmur ran round the frightened group, even coming from
the lips of those who had never spoken to him: "Oh, don't!" Margaret Hayley
was no longer stone: she cast one glance at the face of Captain Hector
Coles, saw that the expression on it was every thing rather than fear or
anxiety, then jerked away her dress from his hand and darted forward.

"No--do not go!" she said, grasping the lawyer by the arm on the very
verge.

"I must!" Then for the first time he appeared to see her.

"No! If I bid you stay for _my_ sake, will you do it?"

"For your sake, Margaret Hayley, I would go all the quicker. Stand back,
for God's sake!--you may fall!"

She said no other word. Captain Hector Coles sprang forward and grasped her
arm to draw her back. She jerked it away, almost angrily, and never stirred
so far from the edge as to prevent her looking down the schute. Half a
dozen of the others, all gentlemen, had taken the same risk of crowding to
the edge, their very breath held; but none of them would any more have
thought, just then, of offering to aid _her_, than of tendering the same
support to one of the rooted saplings on the cliff. It was a fearful
moment, but not the weakest heart on that plateau beat within the bosom of
the white-handed Philadelphia girl!

Horace Townsend threw himself down on his face as he reached the edge,
grasped the rope and crawled over backwards in that way, descending it
hand-over-hand. Those too far back from the edge to see, heard him call out
to the man below as he disappeared from sight: "Hold fast like a man! I am
coming!" Then they saw no more, and for the moment heard no more.

Those who stood on the verge, and Margaret Hayley among them--saw the
adventurous lawyer descend the rope with slow and steady care but evident
labor, until he reached the loop opposite and nearly under the suspended
man. Then they saw him weave his right arm into the loop until the strands
of rope seemed to go around it three or four times, throw down his feet to
the rock so as to raise his shoulders away from it, and commence gathering
in the loose rope below with his left. Directly he seemed to have the end
in his hand, and they saw him stretch the left arm as if to throw it around
the body of the perilled man. At that moment they saw, with a horror that
words can make no attempt at describing, that the hand of the Rambler which
had held the end of the root gave way and the body swung to a
perpendicular, head downward, only suspended by the hook formed of the leg.
All, except one--that _one_--closed their eyes, confident that the leg too
must give way and the poor climber plunge headlong, perhaps bearing down
the would-be rescuer with him. But no!--still the body remained in that
position for a moment, and in that moment they saw that the rope passed
around it and the hand of the lawyer made an attempt, the success of which
could not be seen, to tie the rope into a knot about the waist. But even at
that instant the tension of the stiffened leg gave way and they saw the
body plunge downwards, head first; _where_, was too sickening a horror to
conjecture.

No one saw any more--not even Margaret Hayley. With one wild cry she
sprang back from the verge and tottered half fainting but still erect, into
the arms of some of the other ladies who had been watching the whole scene
through _her_.

Perfect silence--the silence of untold terror and dread. Their own eyes had
seen the Rambler plunge headlong towards the realization of that fearful
last wish: what hope was there that the other, entangled with him, had not
accompanied him? It must be said that for the moment no one dared look over
the edge again, and that no one dared, during the same time, to test, by
feeling the rope, whether any weight still remained at the end of it! The
cast-off coat, vest, hat and shoes of the lawyer assumed the look of
dead-men's clothes unseasonably exhibited; and each even looked upon the
other with horror because a spectator of the same catastrophe. What must
have been the feelings of Margaret Hayley, if, as we have had reason to
believe, her first love had faltered in favor of a new ideal? What those of
Captain Hector Coles when he believed that a disgusting and audacious
rivalry had been removed at least _two thousand feet_?

All this found relief when it had lasted about ten ages--in other figures,
about two minutes and thirty seconds! The rope was seen to tremble at the
edge, and two or three of the men gathered strength to dart forward. A head
came up above the level, and a faint voice said:

"Give me a hand, here!"

A hand was given, and in one instant more the lawyer was dragged up upon
the plateau and staggered to his feet. He was bathed in sweat, trembled
fearfully, and his clothes were torn in many places. Personally he had
received no injury, except that some hard object (perhaps one of the snags
of the root) had struck him near the left temple and ploughed its way in
such a manner that the wound would probably leave a scar there during life,
more than half way across the forehead and up into the roots of the hair.
Even this was shallow and the few drops of blood flowing from it wore
already dried, so that probably the receiver had never been aware of the
blow or its effect. Most of those things were seen afterwards--they were
certainly not seen with this particularity at the time, for not one of the
persons on the plateau, from Captain Hector Coles to the least interested
of the company, saw any thing else than the proud face of Margaret Hayley
radiant with humility, and her tall form cowering down as if to make itself
humbler and less noticeable, as she dropped on her knees before the
lawyer--yes, dropped on her knees!--took one of the quivering hands in both
her own dainty white ones, covered it with kisses that some others would
have been glad to purchase for hand or lip by mortgaging a soul, and
literally sobbed out:

"God bless and reward you!--you noblest and strangest man in the world!"

It was a singular position for a proud and beautiful woman--was it
not?--especially towards a man whose words had never given her any right to
make so complete a surrender of her womanly reticence and dignity? Captain
Hector Coles thought so, for he could restrain himself no longer but
stepped to her, laid his hand upon her arm and spoke in her ear:

"For shame, Margaret Hayley!"

Perhaps no one else heard the words: she heard them, for she was on her
feet in an instant, and the one word which she returned, in the very ear of
the Captain and certainly unheard by any other, made him start back and
redden like one of the traditional furies. He said no more, but stood
sullen as silent. Whether Horace Townsend had not heard the flattering
language addressed to him, or whether he had not yet recovered himself
sufficiently from his late exertion to attempt reply, he made none, but
seemed confused and unnerved. He did not recover until some one near him
said:

"Poor fellow!--you lost him after all!"

"Lost him? no!" said the lawyer, arousing himself. "I forgot! He is
insensible but not fatally injured. Pray pull up the rope, gently, for I
believe that I am too weak to render you any assistance."

"What!" cried two or three voices in a breath, and more than as many hands
seized the rope. It was drawn tight--there _was_ something yet remaining
below. As the knowledge spread among the company and they began to pull on
the rope, such an involuntary cheer burst from nearly all their throats,
male and female, as might have roused a man moderately insensible. But they
produced no effect on the dead weight at the end of the line; and it was
only after more than five minutes of severe but careful pulling, with every
breath waiting in hushed expectation lest some sharp angle of the rock
might at last cut off or weaken the rope, that a dark mass came up to the
edge and the insensible form of the Rambler was landed upon the plateau by
the hands that grasped it.

He might have been dead, for all that could be judged, though there was
really no reason to believe that he should have expired from any cause
except fright. But he presented a most pitiful spectacle--his clothes
fearfully torn by abrasion against the rocks in drawing up, the right arm
hanging loosely from the shoulder, the eyes closed and teeth set as in a
fatal spasm, and the iron-gray hair and straggling beard matted with blood
yet flowing from a severe wound in the head that he had received either in
falling against the rock from the root or in the perilous passage upward.
There was no indication of breath, but he was alive, for the pulse had not
stopped its slow movement, and there was at least a chance that he could be
recovered.

But even then, and while two or three were hurrying to the table for water
to use in bringing back the flitting life and some of the cloths to use as
a stretcher in bearing the body to one of the wagons,--even then the
general attention was for the moment withdrawn. For just as the poor
Rambler was fairly landed and the company gathering around him, while
Margaret Hayley was yet standing close to Horace Townsend, with her eyes
still reading that face which seemed to be a perpetual puzzle to her,--the
brown cheek grew suddenly of a ghastly white, the whole frame trembled as
if from the coming of a spasm, and the lawyer fell heavily forward, without
a sign of sensation, just as he had done in the previous instance after
rash exposure and severe exertion, at the Pool. Now, as then, reaction
seemed to come with terrible force, unnerving the system and literally
overmastering life.

As was to be expected under such circumstances, the excitement among the
pic-nickers redoubled when they had two insensible people instead of one,
and one of the two the hero of so strange an adventure as that which has
just been recorded, to look after and bring back to life. Exclamations: "He
is dying!" "He is dead!" "He has fainted from over-exertion!" "How
dreadful!" and half a dozen others ran round the circle. But Margaret
Hayley did not hear or did not heed them. She was again upon her knees, for
a very different purpose from that which had thus bowed her the moment
before--lifting the head of matted hair upon her lap, chafing the stiffened
hands, and uttering words that seemed to have no regard to the delicacy of
her position or the hearing of the by-standers. Such words of unmistakable
anxiety and fondness the insensible man might have been willing to peril
another life to hear; and they were uttered, let it be remembered, when
she, however the others may have been alarmed, had no idea that he was
dying or in danger, and more as if she wished to pour out a great truth of
her nature and be relieved of its weight, than with any other apparent
thought in view. Oh, that ideal! Oh, love of woman, a moment checked in its
first course, to break away again from all bounds and more than redouble
its early madness! Oh, overweening pride of Margaret Hayley, that once had
been her most marked characteristic, now cast away like a thing to be
loathed and reprobated! Oh, prophet words, spoken by the sorrowing girl but
a few hours after the bereavement of her life, now seeming to be so
strangely fulfilled! Second love, and an abandonment that even the first
had scarcely known, before two months of summer had made the grass green
on the grave of the first! To what was all this tending?

Captain Hector Coles saw, and writhed. His face was dark enough with
passion to indicate that had no troublesome people and no restraining law
stood in his path, he would have rolled that insensible form over the edge
of the plateau, with no rope to impede its progress, and watched with
heart-felt delight the bumping of the body from crag to crag until it was
crushed out of all semblance of humanity at the bottom! But he said not one
word, nor did he again attempt to interfere in the movements of Margaret.

Only a moment or two, and then the eyes of the lawyer opened. He saw the
face that was looking down into his own; and though many a man would have
pretended weakness and insensibility a little longer, to keep such a
position, he made an instant movement to rise and struggled to his feet
with but slight assistance. Then the young girl fell back into the group of
other ladies, her duty and her paroxysm of feeling both apparently over,
and scarcely aware how much or how little the subject of her interest knew
of her words or her actions. Nor was it sure whether the lawyer saw, as he
staggered up from the ground, the expression which rested on the face of
Captain Coles. Time had its task of solving both these important problems.

But a few minutes after Horace Townsend's recovery had elapsed, when the
body of the Rambler, showing yet, after every application, but faint signs
of life, was carefully conveyed on an impromptu stretcher to one of the
wagons--the fragments of the dinner, untasted except as some few of those
who would have banqueted in a death-room had snatched little bits in the
midst of the excitement, gathered up and huddled together in the
baggage-wagon--the whole party more or less comfortably disposed in the
conveyances, and all hurrying back to the Crawford with what speed they
might. We say "hurrying", advisedly. It might have been natural enough that
they should hurry down, to afford more effectual relief to the wounded and
tortured man; but let not humanity "lay the flattering unction to its soul"
that they lacked another and a more compelling motive! Such a story as that
which could be woven of the events of that day, had probably never been
told as of a late actual occurrence, inside the walls of that hostelrie,
within the memory of man; and nearly every one, male and female, was a
little more anxious to indulge in the relation as soon as possible, and to
his or her own particular set of intimates, than even to succor life or
alleviate suffering! Wonder not that newspapers are popular in the latter
half of the nineteenth century: man himself is but a newspaper incarnated;
and a few friends are not ill-sacrificed, much less perilled without
advantage, when the catastrophe affords us plenty of the cheap heroism of
the looker-on and narrator!

       *       *       *       *       *

The providences are equally strange that give opportunity for the great
blunders and absorbing agonies of life, with those that afford space to its
triumphant successes and its crowning pleasures. Rooms are empty or ears
are deaf, sometimes, that we maybe made deliriously happy; but they may
have an equally assured mission to make us wretched beyond hope. Three days
before, a parlor unoccupied except by themselves had afforded Horace
Townsend and Margaret Hayley an opportunity of saying words that seemed to
make, each a new being to the other, and that awakened hopes as wild and
maddening as the dreams of opium could have originated. One laggard
servant-girl with her dusting-brush, or one dawdling visitor lingering in
the way, might have prevented all this and kept them on the distant footing
they had before occupied. One person more, strolling down the glen below
the Crawford at eleven o'clock on the morning following the events on the
top of Mount Willard, might have prevented--what? Nothing, perhaps! Are not
all these things ordered for us? And must not the event, debarred in one
channel, have found inevitable way in another? The fatalists, who believe
in a Deity of infinitesimal and innumerable providences, say "Yes!" and
argue that the ripping away of a boot-sole or the scorching of the cook's
short-cake come within the category. The people of unswayed free-will, who
worship a Deity not over-particular as to the every-day habits of his
creatures, say "No!" and see nothing providential in any event less
important than the breaking out of a pestilence or the downfall of a
nation. At which point it may be necessary to discover what connection all
this has with the fortunes of two of the people most prominent in this
narration.

At about the hour named, that morning, Horace Townsend strolled alone down
the glen, towards the Willey House. Great excitements are always followed
by corresponding reaction; and the visitors at the Crawford, after the
departure of a few gone up the great mountain, had not made a single
collective arrangement to occupy the day. Each was thrown upon personal
resources; and the resource of the lawyer was setting out upon a long and
lonely morning walk, his legs being the chief actors therein, while his
mind, to judge by the bent head and the slow step, was taking its own
peculiar and much longer journey.

Suddenly he lifted his head and came to a full stop. He was _not_ alone,
after all! Half a mile below the house, beside the road and under the edge
of a thick clump of woods, lay the trunk of a huge tree, some of the higher
branches yet remaining unshorn, though trimmed by the axe. On the point of
one of these branches, very easily ascended by the stairway of knots below,
some eight or ten feet from the ground, rested a neat foot, while the owner
of the figure above it, dressed in a light robe which floated around her
with almost the softness of a cloud, had thrown off her jockey-hat (the
object first attracting the notice of the lawyer) on the ground below, and
was stretching up at full length to pluck a cluster of the great creamy
blossoms of the wild northern magnolia, starring the green leaves around
it, which had beckoned her from the path.

Does the reader remember where it was that the first glimpse was caught of
Margaret Hayley--standing on the piazza of the house at West Philadelphia,
with one arm of Elsie Brand around her waist, but both her own hands
employed in the attempt to force open a blush rose that had as yet but half
blown from the bud? Roses then--the wild magnolia now: would the dainty
white hand that had been so tenderly cruel to the flower-spirit two months
before, only gather the blossom to pluck away its shreds one by one and
scatter them listlessly on the ground as she walked? Or had those two
months taught her something of the meaning of that word "suffering,"
unknown before, and ripened and softened the proud nature that possibly
needed such training?

The lawyer stood irresolute for a moment, doubtful whether the lady would
be pleased by his having discovered her in that somewhat girlish situation.
Then he remembered some duty or feeling which seemed of more consequence
than a mere momentary embarrassment, and came close to the log upon which
she was standing, before she was aware of his presence.

"Shall I help you down, Miss Hayley?"

The words were simple, and they did not seem to demand that trembling of
tone which really accompanied them. Neither did there appear to be any
occasion for the flush of red blood which ran all over cheek and brow of
Margaret Hayley in the moment of her first surprise. But the flush was gone
before she had cast that inevitable look downward, which womanhood can
never forget when caught playing the Amazon however slightly,--stepped
lightly down the stairway of knots to the trunk and held out her hand to
accept the offer.

"See what a beautiful cluster of my favorites!" she said.

"Beautiful indeed!" The lawyer was looking intently at the blossoms or at
the hand which held them--no matter which. The lady seemed to have some
impression of the latter, for she flushed again a little and drew back both
hands and flowers.

"And you are walking already again this morning?" she said, after a moment
of silence which her companion did not seem disposed to break.

"Yes," absently.

"Already quite recovered from yesterday?" Margaret Hayley was treading upon
dangerous ground: did she know it?

They had walked on together down the road, as if by mutual consent. The
lawyer was silent again for a time, looking away, and when he again turned
his eyes towards her there was an earnestness in their glance and a sad
seriousness in the whole face which denoted that he had thought much and
resolved not a little in that moment.

"Recovered from yesterday? From the slight fatigue--yes! From some other
effects of the day?--no!"

"I am sorry to hear you say so." The words dropped slowly and very
deliberately from her lips, and her head had a wavy nod as she spoke.

"You are sure of the grounds of your sorrow?"

"I fear so--yes!"

"Then I, too, have cause to fear!"

Silence again for a moment, and they walked on, very slowly. Then Horace
Townsend spoke again.

"You are going away to the Glen House, to-morrow or the next day, are you
not?"

"I believe Captain Coles and my mother have so arranged," was the reply.

"And I am going southward to Winnipiseogee to-morrow."

"_You?_" The exclamation was abrupt and surprised, as if she had not before
thought of a separation of routes. Horace Townsend heard the word and
recognized the tone; and what the spark is to the magazine was that sudden
monosyllable to the half-controlled heart of the man.

"Margaret Hayley, we separate then to-morrow," he said. "This may be and no
doubt will be the last time that we shall speak together without listeners.
I have something to say that must be spoken. Will you hear me?"

She caught him suddenly by the arm, with a motion like that of one warning
or checking another on the brink of a precipice--like that she had used the
day before under such very different circumstances,--and said:

"Oh, do not!--do not!"

"What?"

"Do not say words that must separate us instead of bringing us nearer to
each other!"

"And would _that_ grieve you?"

"On my soul--yes!"

Another spark to the magazine. It exploded. Horace Townsend had caught
Margaret Hayley's hand and his eye literally flashed fire into hers, while
his brown cheek mantled with the blood that could no longer be restrained.

"I _must_ speak, Margaret Hayley, and you must listen. _I love you!_ There
is not a thought in my mind, not a hope in my soul, that is not yours. Does
_that_ separate us?"

She did not draw away her hand, and yet it returned no answering pressure
to his. Her head was bent down so that he could not see her face, and her
words were very few and very sad:

"I am sorry--very sorry! Yes!"

"Stop!" He laid his hand upon her forehead, gently pushing back her head
until he virtually compelled her eyes to come up to the level of his own.
"Margaret Hayley, too little may be said as well as too much. I am going to
say what perhaps no other man in the world _dare_ say. I love you, but that
is not all. I cite your woman's heart and your immortal soul this moment
before the sight of that God whose eye is looking down upon us in this
sunshine, and I say that _you_ love _me_! You may never forgive me the
word, but you must tell me the truth! Do you deny it?"

"No!" The word was louder and clearer than any that she had spoken--louder
and clearer than any that had been spoken during the interview. And yet it
was not a lover's response.

"You admit this, and yet you say that my opening my heart to you separates
us instead of drawing us together. Three days ago you told me that--that
man"--he did not mention the name of Captain Hector Coles, nor did there
seem to be any occasion--"was not and never could be your betrothed
husband. What tie binds you? What am I to fear? What am I to think?"

"Think that what I say is true, Horace Townsend--that I love you, and yet
that I do not love you--that your company is dearer to me, to-day, than
that of any person on earth--that I respect you in every regard and hold
you as one of the bravest and noblest of men--and yet that every word of
love you utter makes it more evident that we must not meet again, and so
separates us forever!"

"What _is_ this riddle?" He asked the question in a tone of great anxiety,
and he did not take away his eyes from the proud orbs that no longer sunk
before them as he made the inquiry. How impossible to believe that the man
who had but the moment before cited the heart and soul of Margaret Hayley
before the very eye of God as a searcher of their entire truth and candor,
could himself be guilty of deception at the same instant! And yet was he
not? Was the riddle really so obscure to him as he pretended? Was the very
name under which he wooed and sought to win, his own? Strange
questions--stranger far than that he asked; and yet questions that must be
asked and answered!

"Listen, Horace Townsend!" she said after one instant of silence. "You call
this a riddle, and you force me to read it to you. I wish you had not done
so, but I have no choice. I would have kept you as a friend--a dear friend,
but you would not accept the place."

"Never--not for one moment!" he broke in, as if through set lips. Her hand
was on his arm, and they were again walking listlessly on. She proceeded
without any reference to his interruption.

"I have too many words to say--words that pain me beyond measure; but you
have forced me to them, and I must finish, even if you think me mad before
I have done. I do not know but I _am_ mad--every thing about me sometimes
seems to be so unreal and mocking."

Horace Townsend turned at that moment and looked her sidelong in the face,
then withdrew his glance again as if satisfied, and she went on:

"I told you that Captain Hector Coles would never be nearer to me than he
is, and he will not. I hate that man, and he knows it. But I _love
another_!"

She paused, as if she expected some outburst at this declaration; but no
outburst came. All the effect it produced was a quick shudder through the
arm that sustained her hand.

"I love another--do you hear me? I who say that I love _you_, say that I
love another! For more than a year, before the last two months, I was a
betrothed bride, and never woman loved more truly than I the man who filled
my whole ideal of manly beauty, grace and goodness. One day, two months
ago, I found that man a _coward_. He dared not fight for his native
land--not even for his native State when it was invaded. We
parted--forever, as I thought; forever, as he thinks, no doubt. I have
heard that he has gone to another land: no matter, he has left _me_, with
my own will. Then I came to the mountains, for change of scene and for
distraction. I met you. I was attracted to you from the first--I have grown
more attracted day by day, until I shudder to think that I love you! Do you
know _why_?

"Because _my_ affection for _you_ has given birth to some feeble likeness
of itself!" was the response.

"No! The confession may wound your vanity, but the truth must be told.
Every throb of my heart towards you, Horace Townsend, has been caused by
some dim resemblance of your face to the man I once loved, and something in
your voice that came to me like a faint echo. It is not _you_ whom I have
been seeing and hearing, but the man who was handsomer than you, your
superior in so many respects, and yet your inferior in that one which
makes me worship you almost as a god--your sublime, dauntless courage when
all others quail. Do you understand me now, and know why your words should
never have been spoken?"

"I _think_ that I understand you!" was the response, but a bitter smile,
unseen by the lady, wreathed the moustached lip as he spoke. "And that
other--he will come back, some day, and all except the old love will be
forgotten, and you will marry him, of course."

"Horace Townsend, you do not quite understand me, yet!" she said. "I am no
child, to be trifled with, but a woman. I loved him, better than my own
soul, but I cannot continue to love when I cease to respect. I shall never
marry, while I live, unless I marry the man to whom my heart was first
given. I thought that perhaps I might find a new ideal, some day, when we
first parted; but I know better now. You have taught me how nearly the
vacant place can be supplied, and yet how empty all is when the one bond is
wanting."

"And I say, again, that some day he will come back, and you will marry
him."

"Never--if he comes as he was!" was the reply. "If Heaven would work a
miracle and give him the one thing that he lacks--bravery and
patriotism,--even if he struck but one blow, to prove that he was no coward
to fly before the enemies of his country,--I would go barefoot round the
world to find him, and be his servant, his slave, if he would not forgive
the past and make me his wife!"

With the last words she had broken down almost entirely, and as she ceased
she burst into a very passion of tears and sobs. Where was the overweening
pride of Margaret Hayley? Gone, all gone; and yet she clung to that one
touchstone--her husband, when the country called and he was subjected to
the trial, must prove that he dared be patriot and soldier, or her lips
should never speak that sacred name!

"I have indeed spoken too far, and it is better that we should not meet
again," he said, in a voice quite as low and almost as broken as her own.
"I understand you, now: forgive me if I have caused you pain in making the
discovery; and good-bye!"

He wrung the young girl's hand almost painfully and was turning away.

"You are going now? Shall I not see you again?" she asked.

"No matter--I do not know--I cannot tell. I may see you at the house before
I leave. If not, and we never meet again, God bless you, Margaret Hayley,
the only woman I have ever loved!"

He stooped suddenly and kissed her hand, then turned, drew his hat over his
brow and walked rapidly up the road towards the Crawford. Margaret,
oppressed by some strange feeling, could not speak. She could only look
back and catch a last glimpse of him as he turned a bend in the road; then
sink her face in her hands and sob aloud as if she had buried a second love
not less dear than the first.

When she returned to the house, half an hour after, Horace Townsend was
already gone--flying away towards Littleton with four horses. Captain
Hector Coles was in a better humor, being already advised of the fact, than
he had exhibited at any time during the previous week. Mrs. Burton Hayley,
when his going away was mentioned, made some appropriate remarks on the
rashness of any person exposing himself as the young man had done the day
before, unless he was fully prepared for death and judgment, and remarked
that she was rather glad that so wild a person was not going over to the
Glen with them. In both these opinions Captain Coles fully coincided.
Margaret spoke of the departure as a very matter-of-course affair indeed,
and did not even see the glance by which the gallant Captain intended to
convey his full recollection of the scene on the top of Mount Willard.

Next day that trio, with a dozen of others, went on to the Glen House for
the carriage-ascent of Mount Washington.

And with that announcement and a single scene following, concludes the
somewhat long connection held by the White Mountains, their scenery and
summer incidents, with the fortunes of the various personages figuring
prominently in this life-history.

       *       *       *       *       *

That scene was a very brief one and took place three days after the
departure from the Crawford, when Margaret Hayley, her mother and Captain
Hector Coles, had made the ascent of Washington from the Glen House by
carriage and stood beside the High Altar that has before been mentioned.
When Mrs. Burton Hayley was signalizing her arrival at the top by repeating
certain passages from the big book on the carved stand, which she seemed to
have an idea fitted that elevated point in her summer wanderings, and which
probably might have done so if she had quoted them with any thing
approaching to correctness. When Margaret Hayley, breathing the same air
that Horace Townsend had breathed a few days before, and aware that she was
doing so, joined to the rapt emotions of the place and the hour, something
of the sad glory of human love and grief, stretching out her mental hands
to God whose awful majesty stood before her and around her in the great
peak lifting itself to heaven, and praying that out of darkness might some
day come light, as once it had done on that other and more awful peak of
Sinai. When Captain Hector Coles, above all such considerations and with a
keen eye to his personal "main chances", fancied that another declaration
beside the High Altar on Washington would not only be a "good thing to do"
but a proceeding much more likely to meet with a favorable response than if
ventured on ground of less altitude.

Then and there, accordingly, Captain Hector Coles, with Mrs. Burton Hayley
very near and the granite rocks still nearer, possessed himself suddenly of
Margaret Hayley's white hand, drew her close to him, and murmured:

"Oh, how long I have waited for this hour, Margaret! I love you. I have
not before said the same thing in words, for a long time, but I believe
that you must have seen and known how the old affection has still lived and
strengthened. There have been bitter words between us, occasionally, but
they have not affected the true feeling lying beneath, and--"

"Stop, Hector Coles!" said Margaret, before he had concluded. "You say that
there have been bitter words between us occasionally. Now let me warn you
that no bitter word I have ever said in your hearing, has been any thing
more than a baby's whisper to what I _will_ say if you ever dare to allude
to this subject again!"

"But, Margaret--"

"No, not another word! Mother, come here!"

Mrs. Burton Hayley obeyed.

"Mother, is it with your wish or approbation that Captain Coles has just
made me another offer of his heart?"

"Certainly it is," the Captain commenced to answer.

"Stop! it was not to you I put the question, but to my mother!"

"Well, my daughter--I certainly did--that is--I--"

"There, you hear!" said Captain Hector Coles, triumphantly, and confident
that the knowledge of such a maternal indorsement must work in his favor.

"You did, did you?" and the right hand of Margaret went suddenly inside the
thick shawl that wrapped her from the winds of the peak--and unseen by the
Captain a locket--that fatal locket--glittered before the mother's eyes.
"Will you promise, and keep that promise, that Captain Hector Coles shall
not say one more word to me of love or marriage, while we remain together?
If not, as God sees me you know the consequences!"

Mrs. Burton Hayley's face was very white at that moment, but the next she
said: "Oh yes, I promise!" and then with a groan, grasping the surprised
Captain by the arm: "Captain, if you do not wish to see me drop dead, leave
that wild, mad girl to herself! She is crazy, but _I_ cannot help it!"

Captain Hector Coles looked from one to the other, in added surprise, but
found no explanation; then he muttered something that was not a second
love-declaration; and the next moment Margaret Hayley stood alone, isolated
as the peak that bore her, and with a heart almost as cold in the dull
leaden weight that seemed to lie within her bosom, as the storm-beaten
rocks of which that peak was composed.

Thereafter Captain Hector Coles never spoke to her of love again!



CHAPTER XXI.

     THE BEARER OF A DISGRACED NAME, IN ENGLAND--A STRANGE QUEST
     AND A STRANGE UNREST--HURRYING OVER TO IRELAND--TOO LATE FOR
     THE PACKET--THE LITTLE DESPATCH-STEAMER--HENRY FITZMAURICE,
     THE JOURNALIST--AN UNEXPECTED PASSAGE--THE PERIL OF THE
     EMERALD, AND THE END OF ALL QUESTS SAVE ONE.


Far back in the progress of this narration, when it had only reached half
the distance to which it has now arrived, it was said of one of the
principal persons therein involved: "Something indescribably dim and
shadowy grows about the character and action of Carlton Brand at this time,
* * * motives become buried in obscurity, and the narrator grows to be
little more than a mere insignificant, powerless chronicler of events
without connection and action without explanation." The same remark will
apply with quite as much force, at this stage, to the movements of the
bearer of that dishonored name, in his movements on the other side of the
Atlantic, which must now be briefly recorded in their due order.

It will be remembered that the American entered his name at Liverpool, on
the twentieth day of July, with the place of his residence attached.
Thenceforward enough is known, through hotel and other records, to be sure
that he spent some two weeks in London, occupying lodgings at one of the
respectable houses of the great metropolis, but spending his time, in other
regards, in a manner scarcely to have been expected from any previous
knowledge of his life and antecedents. Was it the lawyer, _because_ the
lawyer, who visited Scotland Yard the very next day after his arrival in
London, and spent so much time with some of the leading men in charge of
that great police-establishment, that he might have seemed to be employed
in studying the whole English system of criminal detection? And was it the
lawyer, _as_ the lawyer and consequently on account of his remembrance of
past connection with the ferreting out of crime in his native land, who
went immediately afterwards into a continuous and apparently systematic
round of visits to the worst haunts of vice in the Modern Babel, becoming,
sometimes in disguise and sometimes in his own proper person, but always
more or less closely accompanied by some member of the force, the habitue
of streets in which burglars and thieves most congregated, and of lanes in
which receivers of stolen property, forgers and all disreputable and
dangerous characters were known to have their places of business or their
dens of hiding?

Or was there, leaving the profession of the lawyer out of the question,
something in the peculiar surroundings of this man--something in the
relations of character and connection which he had allowed to grow around
him, unfitting him for other amusements and researches in a city which he
had never before visited, and one supplying such marvellous temptations to
the sight-seer and the antiquarian? Or was he paying the penalty of the
past in an unrest which left him no peace except he found it in continual
motion and in the companionship and the study of those far more outlawed by
statute but not more in social position than himself? Strange questions,
again, and questions which cannot be answered, at this time, by any thing
more than the mere suggestion.

Certain it is, whatever the motive, that Westminster Abbey, with its every
stone sacred to the memory of the great dead, seemed to present no
attractions to him, commensurate with those of Seven Dials, sacred to every
phase of poverty and villany; that the Houses of Parliament were ignored in
favor of St. Giles and Bermondsey, noted for debates of a very different
character from those heard before the occupant of the Woolsack and the
Speaker of the Commons; and that (this seeming so peculiarly strange in a
lawyer of admitted character and power) even the Lord Chancellor, rendering
one of those decisions calculated to affect not only the laws of property
in England but the whole legal system wherever the English language was
spoken, seemed to have far less attention paid to him or his dicta, than
was given to some gownless libel on the practice of criminal law, who could
point out the habits and haunts of Burly Bill, the noted burglar whom he
had lately saved from transportation by proving that he was in three
different places at once, and neither of them the spot where the crime was
committed,--or Snivelling Sall, reputed to be in the near companionship of
the most successful utterer of forged notes who had so far escaped the
clutches of the detective birds of prey. Night and day, during all those
two weeks, he seemed to eat hastily and to sleep only as if sleep was a
secondary necessity of nature, to be thrown overboard whenever some
all-absorbing thought should make continual wakefulness necessary.

Then the fancy (might it not be called madness?) seemed to change. He had
either exhausted the crime of London or he had skimmed that compound until
there was no novelty of rich villainy remaining. Without having examined
one work of art or one antiquarian curiosity (so far as could be known),
and certainly without having made one effort to find a footing in that
society for which education and past associations would so well have fitted
him,--he flitted away from London and the name of Carlton Brand was to be
found inscribed on the books of one of the leading hotels at Manchester.
And what did he there? Precisely what he had been doing in London, it
appeared--nothing less and nothing more. Alternately in conversation with
one of the detective force or with some one of the wretches whom the
detective force was especially commissioned to bring to justice--the
Manchester looms (not yet _all_ stopped by the dearth of cotton and the
"fratricidal war" in America) presented no more charm to him than had been
afforded by the high-toned and rational attractions of the metropolis. At
times dressed with what seemed a studied disregard of the graces of person,
and scarcely ever so arraying himself that he would have dreamed of
presenting himself in such a guise in the midst of any respectable circle
at home--two or three days ran him through the criminal life of Manchester.
Then away to Birmingham, and there--but why weary with repetition when a
succeeding fact can be so well indicated by one that has preceded it? The
same unsettled and apparently aimless life--if not aimless, certainly with
tendencies the most singular and unaccountable. Thence to Bristol, and from
Bristol to Liverpool. From Liverpool, with flying haste the whole length of
the island and over the border to Edinburgh, paying no more attention,
apparently, to the scenes of Scottish song and story by which he dashed,
than might have been necessary to remember the cattle-rievers and
free-booters who had long before furnished pattern for his late
associates,--and seeing in the old closes and wynds frowned down upon by
Calton Hill and the Castle, only retreats in which robbers could take
refuge without serious risk of being unearthed. Then, strangely enough,
away southward again to Dover, with a passage-ticket for Calais taken but
countermanded before use, indicating that Paris had been in view but that
some sudden circumstance had made a change in the all-the-while
inexplicable calculation. What was all this--the question arises once
more--the following out of some clue on which the whole welfare of a life
was believed to depend, or merely the vague and purposeless pursuit of some
melancholy fancy furnishing the very mockery of a clue through that
labyrinth which borders the realm of declared madness?

The American had been something more than a month in England, and far away
beyond his knowledge all the events before recorded as occurring to
Margaret Hayley and her group of society in the White Mountains had already
taken place,--when one afternoon, late in August, the train that dashed
into Holyhead from Birmingham and Chester, by Anglesey and over the Menai,
bore this exemplification of unrest as a passenger. Those who saw him
emerge from the carriage upon the platform noticed the haste with which he
appeared to step and the eagerness of his inquiry whether the train, which
had been slightly delayed by an accident, was yet in time for the boat for
Dublin. She had been gone for more than an hour, and the black smoke from
her funnel was already fading away into a dim wreath driven rapidly
northward before the sharp south-easter coming up the Channel. Night was
fast falling, with indications that it would be any thing rather than a
quiet one on that wild and turbulent bit of water lying between the two
islands; and some of the old Welsh coastmen who yet lingered on the pier,
when they saw the impatient man striding up and down and uttering
imprecations on the delayed train, shrugged their shoulders with the
remark, which he did not hear or did not choose to heed, that "_they_
should be much obliged to any train that had kept them from taking a
rocking in that cradle the night!"

Brow knit, head bent, tread nervous and almost angry, and manifesting all
the symptoms of anxiety and disappointment, the American traversed the
wharf, his tall form guarded against the slight chill of the summer evening
on the coast by a coarse gray cloak which he drew closely around him as he
walked, thus adding to the restless stateliness of his appearance. At one
of his turns he was sufficiently disengaged to see a man of middle height,
dressed in a somewhat dashing civilian costume, standing at a little
distance up the pier and conversing with two or three of the coastmen. One
of the latter was pointing towards himself; and the moment after the
stranger approached with a bow. He was a young man of twenty-five or
thereabouts, side-whiskered and moustached, decidedly good-looking, with
quite as much of the Irishman as the Englishman in his face, and seemed at
all points a gentleman--more, that much rarer combination, especially on
the soil of the mother island, a frank, clever fellow!

"They tell me, sir," said the stranger, "that you were one of the
passengers on that delayed train, and that you manifest some disappointment
at missing the Dublin boat."

"They are entirely correct, sir," answered the American, returning the bow.
"I was very anxious, for particular reasons, to be in Dublin to-morrow; and
in fact the whole object of my visiting Ireland at all, just now, may very
probably be defeated by the accident that brought in the train that half
hour too late."

He spoke in a tone very earnest and not a little agitated. The other
remarked the fact, but he thought himself too good a judge of character to
suspect, as some other persons under similar circumstances might have done,
that the anxious man was a hunted member of the swell-mob or a criminal of
some other order, who thought it politic to get off English soil as soon as
possible. He determined, at the second glance, that he had to do with a
gentleman, and proceeded with the words that he had evidently intended to
say on first accosting the delayed passenger.

"You have made no arrangements for getting over, I suppose?"

"None, whatever!" answered the American. "How can I, until the boat of
to-morrow, when--when it may be too late altogether for my purpose? I was
walking off my disappointment, a sort of thing that I have been more or
less used to all my life!" and the other noticed that he seemed to sigh
wearily--"walking it off before going to find a hotel and lying awake all
night, thinking of where I ought to have been at each particular hour."

"Well," said the stranger, "I had a motive not personal to myself, in
accosting you, or I should not have taken the liberty. I am Mr. Henry
Fitzmaurice, one of the London correspondents of the Dublin _Evening Mail_.
I believe that I am not mistaken in supposing that I am speaking to an
American?"

"Not at all mistaken!" answered the American, pleased with a frankness so
much more like that of his native land than he had been in the habit of
meeting during his short sojourn abroad. "I am called Mr. Brand--Carlton
Brand, and on ordinary occasions I am a lawyer of the city of
Philadelphia."

"That little matter over, which I should not have been able to manage under
half an hour had I been a pure John Bull instead of two-thirds Irishman,"
said the man who had introduced himself as Fitzmaurice, in a vivacious
manner very well calculated to put the other at his ease--"now, not being
either of us members of the Circumlocution Office, we will get at the gist
of the matter at once. I am going over to Ireland to-night, or at least I
am going to make a start in that direction, and I believe that I can manage
to secure you a passage if you will accept one."

"Certainly, and with many thanks, but how?" was the reply.

"Well, I am not so sure about the thanks," said Fitzmaurice, in the same
pleasant tone which had before won his companion. "It is going to be a wild
night on the Channel, if I am any judge of weather, and I have crossed it
often enough to begin to have some idea. But I _must_ cross, and so must
you, if you can, as I understand you to say."

"I must, certainly, if any thing in the shape of a vessel does so," said
the American. "But you have not yet told me--"

"No, of course not!" the newspaper man ran on. "Always expect an Irishman
to begin his story in the middle and tell it out at each end, and you will
not be far from the fact. Well, there are some despatches for the Lord
Lieutenant that need to be across before noon to-morrow, as the Secretary
for Ireland has an insane fancy, and a special train left London to make
the connection with the steamer that has just gone. I came in it, and with
the Queen's messenger,--with some matters that must reach the _Mail_ in
advance of the other Dublin papers. They have a little despatch-steamer
lying just below, and the messenger telegraphed to fire her up, from one of
the back stations, when he found the chances against him. In an hour she
will have a full head of steam, and before it is quite dark we shall be
clear of the coast. I have no doubt that I can procure you a passage, and
if you will step round with me to the wharf where she lies, I will
certainly try the experiment. Now you have it."

"And a very kind and generous thing I have at the same time!" exclaimed the
American, warmly.

"As I said before, I do not know about the generosity!" replied the
correspondent, as they took their way around the warehouses that headed the
packet-wharf, towards the pier below, where the despatch-boat lay. "The
fact is that the Emerald is not much bigger than a yawl, and though she is
a splendid little sea-boat and never has found any gale in which she could
not outlive the biggest of the merchant steamers, she is very much of a
cockle-shell in the way of jumping about; and people who have any
propensity for sea-sickness, a thing a good deal worse than any ordinary
kind of _death_, are very likely to have a little turn at it under such
circumstances."

"I have never been very much at sea, but I believe that I am beyond the
vulgarity of sea-sickness!" was the answer; and just then they reached the
despatch-steamer.

She was indeed a little thing, as compared with the steamers which the
American had been in the habit of seeing sent away on sea-voyages--very low
in hull, rakish in pipe and masts, looming black in the gathering dusk of
evening, and her bulwarks seeming so low as to present the same appearance
of insecurity against falling overboard that a landsman's eye immediately
perceives in a first glance at a pilot-boat. The steam was already well up
and hissing from her escape valves, while the black smoke rolled away from
her pipe as if it had a mission to cloud the whole port with soot and
cinders.

A few words with the Queen's messenger and an introduction to the Captain
of the little Emerald followed; and the correspondent of the _Mail_ had not
overrated his influence with either, for in ten minutes the lawyer was
booked for a passage over, under government auspices. In half an hour more
the despatch-boat steamed away; and when the deep dusk of night fell to
shut away the Welsh coast, while the half dozen officers and their two
passengers were trifling over a very pleasant supper with wines of
antediluvian vintage accompanying, the Emerald was well off the Head,
tossing about like a cork in the sea that seemed to be every moment growing
more and more violent, but making fine weather through it all, flying like
a race-horse, and promising, if every thing held, to land the messenger and
her other passengers at Kingstown, at very near as early an hour in the
morning as those touched the shore who had left Holyhead two hours before
by the packet.

The American remained long on the deck, in conversation with the newspaper
correspondent, delighted with the cordiality of his manner and the
extensive scope of his information, as he had before been with the
generosity which supplied himself with a passage over at the moment of
disappointment. The Hiberno-Englishman seemed to be equally pleased with
his new friend, whom he found all that he had at first believed--a
gentleman, and neither pickpocket nor madman. Mr. Fitzmaurice, still a
young man and a subordinate, had never been in America, but he had
something more than the ordinary newspaper stock of information about
countries lying beyond sea, and he had the true journalist's admiration
for the young land that has done more for journalism within fifty years
than all the other countries of the world through all the ages. He listened
with pleasure to the descriptions which the lawyer was equally able and
willing to impart, of the modes in which the news-gathering operations of
the leading American newspapers were carried on, and especially of the
reckless exposures of correspondents on the battle-fields of the great war,
which have all the while exhibited so much bravery and so stupendous a
spirit of enterprise, combined with a lack of judgment equally injurious
and deplorable.

Mr. Fitzmaurice, on his part, resident in London during all the period of
our struggle, necessarily present at most of the Parliamentary debates in
which the good and ill feeling of Englishmen towards the United States have
been shown in such unfavorable proportions--acquainted with most of the
leading public men of the kingdom, and with an Irishman's rattle making the
conveying of his impressions a thing of equal ease and pleasure,--he had
much to say that interested the Philadelphian; and it would have been
notable, could he have been fairly behind the curtain as to the character
and movements of the other, to mark how the man who during two weeks
residence in London had never stepped his foot within the Parliament
Houses, could drink in and digest, from another's lips, the story of the
debates which he might so easily have heard first-handed with his own ears!

But as the newspaper man could know nothing of this, enough to say that the
conversation was a pleasant one, and that hours rolled away unheeded in its
continuance, while the little Emerald skimmed over and plunged through the
rough waves of the Irish Channel, and while those waves grew heavier, and
the sky darker, and the wild south-easter increased every hour in the
violence with which it whistled through the scant rigging and sent the caps
of the waves whirling and dashing past the adventurous little minnow of
the steam-navy, to fall in showers of foamy spray far to leeward.

It was past midnight when the young men, so strangely thrown together, so
different in position and pursuit, but so pleasantly agreeing in all the
amenities of social intercourse,--began to feel the demands of sleep
overmastering the excitement of the situation, left the deck and went below
to the berths in the little cramped cabin which had been prepared for them.
The Queen's messenger had already retired and was sleeping so soundly in
his four-by-seven state-room, with his despatches under his pillow, that
nothing less than the going to pieces of the steamer or an order to start
on a new journey could possibly have woke him. To such men, ever flying
from one port to another, by sea and by land, bearing the lives of
individuals and often the welfare of whole peoples in their hands, with no
more knowledge of what they bear than has the telegraph wire of the message
that thrills along it--to such men, habituated to excitement, hurry and
exposure, that excitement really becomes a sort of second nature; and the
art of sleeping on the ground, on a board, bolt upright in a chair or even
in the saddle, is one of the accomplishments soonest learned and last
forgotten. What are storms to them or to that other class to which
reference has before been made--the rough Ariels of the newspaper Prospero?
Nothing, except they cause hindrance! What is even the deepest personal
peril by sea or land? Nothing, except because in putting a sudden period to
the existence of the messenger it may interfere with the delivery of his
all-important despatches!

So slept the Queen's messenger, and so, after a time, in their narrow
berths, slept the American and his new-made friend. Once falling away into
slumber, the very motion of the vessel made that slumber more intense and
stupefying, old Mother Nature rocking her children somewhat roughly in the
"cradle of the deep." And of what dreamed they? Who knows? Perhaps the
handsome and vivacious young Anglo-Irishman of the girl whose miniature he
had accidentally displayed to the eyes of the other, filling the back case
of his watch,--not yet his wife, but to be so some day when talent and
energy should bring their recompense and fortune shower her favors a little
more liberally upon him. Perhaps the Philadelphia lawyer of wrongs and
shames in his native land, of the apparently mad quest which he seemed to
be urging, and of possible coming days when all errors should be repaired,
and the great stake of his life won beyond a peradventure.

How long the lawyer had slept he knew not, when some change in the motion
of the boat produced the same effect on his slumbers that is said to be
wrought on the sleeping miller by the stoppage of the splashing water-wheel
and the rumbling burr-stones. He had slept amidst the violent motion: he
partially woke when there was a momentary cessation of it. In an instant
after the vessel seemed to be struck one tremendous blow that sent a shiver
through every plate and rivet of her iron hull--through every board and
stanchion of her cabin-work. There are men who can remain undisturbed by
such a sensation on shipboard, but the American was by no means one of
them; and the fumes of sleep, partially dissipated before, rolled away
almost as suddenly as morning mists before a brisk north-wester. He was
broad awake to feel a hand grasping him by the shoulder, and opened his
eyes to see Fitzmaurice standing by the berth and holding the joiner-work
with one hand to support himself against the fearful lurches of the vessel,
while he had employed the other in arousing the apparently slumbering man.

"Get up and come out at once!" he said, his voice hoarse and agitated.

"What has happened?" asked the American, springing upright in his berth and
preparing to leap from it as men will do when such unpleasant announcements
are made. He seemed to know, intuitively and without any instruction from
the shock which had just startled him, that some marked peril must have
sent the journalist down to arouse him in that melodramatic manner.

"Why, we are in danger, I suppose--serious danger!" was the reply. "Do you
not feel the change in the motion of the boat? We are in the trough of the
sea, without steam, and as near as I can make out through the mist, driving
on the Irish coast with more rapidity than we bargained for!"

"Heavens!" was the very natural exclamation in reply, as the American
managed with some difficulty to throw on the one or two articles of
clothing of which he had divested himself.

"I suppose that it is a bad job," the journalist continued, "and what just
now makes me feel peculiarly bad about it is the fact that I was the means
of inducing you to come on board, and that if any thing serious should
happen--"

"Hush! not a word of that!" said the lawyer, appreciating fully that
chivalrous generosity which after conferring a great favor could take blame
to itself for any peril growing out of that favor. "Hush! You have treated
me, Mr. Fitzmaurice, with great kindness, and I hope you will believe me
man enough not to misunderstand our relative positions in any thing that
may occur."

Fitzmaurice, who seemed to be relieved by the words, but who certainly was
laboring under an amount of depression not incident alone to any peril in
which he stood personally involved,--grasped his hand with something more
than the ordinary pressure of brief acquaintance. The motion of the boat,
alternately a roll and then a heavy plunge, had now become absolutely
fearful, intermingled with occasional repetitions of that crashing blow
which had started the American from his slumber; but holding fast of each
other and of various substantial objects that fell in their course, the two
young men reached the companion way and the deck, the journalist detailing
meanwhile, in hasty and broken words, what he knew of the extent of the
difficulty in which they were involved.

Up to fifteen or twenty minutes before, the little Emerald, a capital
sea-boat but possessed of but a single engine (which description of single
engine boats, by the way, should never be allowed to make voyages by open
sea, except under the especial pilotage of one Malthus), had been making
good weather, though the blow had increased to a gale and the waves of the
Irish Channel increased to such size that they seemed to be opposed to the
Union and determined to make an eternal severance of the two islands.
Fitzmaurice had himself awoke about an hour before, and gone upon deck
because unable to sleep longer; and he had consequently become aware, a
little before the American in his berth did so, of an accident to the
vessel. One moment of cessation of the plunging roll with which she had
been ploughing ahead of the waves breaking on her larboard quarter--a
moment of almost perfect stillness, as if the little vessel lay moored in
some quiet haven--then a sudden veering round and that terrible crash and
shock of the waves under the counter, the wheel, and along the whole side,
which told that she was lying helpless in the trough of the sea, a marine
Samson as thoroughly disabled as if she had been shorn of all her strength
at once by the shears of one of the Fates. A word from one of the officers,
the moment afterwards, had told him of some disarrangement of the engine,
consequent on the severe strain of the heavy sea upon the boat; and he had
then been left to study out for himself the amount of peril that might be
involved, and to observe the coolness with which officers and men devoted
themselves to a task which might or might not be successful--which might
terminate at any moment in one of those terrible seas breaching the little
vessel and foundering her as if she had indeed been nothing but a
yawl-boat! It was at this stage that he had come down and wakened his
friend of a few hours, feeling some responsibility for his safety (as well
as a presentiment with regard to him which he by no means expressed in
words), and leaving the Queen's messenger to pursue his dreamless sleep
until it should end in Kingstown harbor or at the bottom of "Davy Jones'
locker."

By the time all this had been expressed in one tenth the number of words
here employed, they had reached the deck, and certainly the prospect there
was any thing but one calculated to reassure either. The Emerald was
rolling wheel-houses under, in the trough of the sea, but so far
mysteriously relieving herself through the scuppers as it seemed impossible
that she should do. Two men were at the wheel, but they stood necessarily
idle. Forward were half a dozen men, holding on to keep from going
overboard at the first lurch. Even above the roar of the storm could be
heard the sharp clink of hammers coming up from the engine-room and each
sounding yet one pulse-beat of Hope. The south-easter was howling with
demoniac fury, wailing through the rigging as if singing requiems for them
all in advance, and driving before it the thin mists that shut away any
idea of the sky. By the light on deck and on the troubled expanse of water
eastward it was evident that day was breaking; and it was through a
knowledge of that fact and of the rate of speed at which they had been
steaming and driving partially before the wind all night, that Fitzmaurice
had made his calculation expressed below, that they must be close on the
Irish coast, a lee-shore, in such a blow, of no pleasant character.

Such was the situation--a deplorable one, as any one can readily perceive
who has ever seen its precise parallel; yet not entirely a hopeless one,
for they might not be so close upon the coast as had been feared, and the
engine might yet be thrown again into gear before the little vessel
foundered and in time to claw off from the danger lying to leeward.
Fitzmaurice had seen the position before: the American saw it at once
through his own eyes and from the explanations given him by the journalist.
The moment was not favorable for conversation, in that perilous motion,
that roar of wind and wave and that suspense of mind; and the two young
men held none except in a few words almost shouted to each other, but stood
far aft on the larboard quarter, waiting calmly as two men with human
instincts could be expected to wait for--what Heaven only knew! The face of
the Anglo-Irishman was almost thoughtlessly calm, in spite of the anxiety
which he had so plainly expressed: that of the American was dark, his lips
set and his brow contracted, but there was no sign of shrinking and no
indication of that basest passion, fear! Who could believe that the man
standing there in the gray light of morning and awaiting without one
apparent tremor of the muscles what might be an immediate and a painful
death, bore a name that had been so lately dishonored by the most abject
cowardice?

Suddenly there was a cry which has blanched many a cheek and made many a
lip tremble since Noah made his first sea-voyage in the Ark: "Land on the
starboard quarter!" followed by another and yet more startling call:
"Breakers to leeward!"

Fitzmaurice and the American both turned instantly in the direction
indicated, as was inevitable; and then they saw that the warning cry from
the look-out was not the result of any illusion. The daylight was rapidly
broadening, the mist had for the moment driven away leeward; and apparently
not more than a mile away rose a huge dark headland assuming the
proportions of a mountain, while at its base and in the exact direction
towards which the doomed vessel was drifting, the sea was breaking in
wreaths of white foam over ledges of rock which seemed to be already so
near that they must go grinding and crashing upon them before the lapse of
five minutes. They felt that the water shoaled, too, for the plunging roll
of the disabled steamer grew every moment more terrible, and just as the
cry was given she was breached at the waist by a sea from which she did not
immediately clear herself. It only needed an eye that had ever scanned
peril by sea and shore, to know at that moment that the Emerald and all on
board were as certainly doomed, in all human probability, as if the one had
been already broken up and scattered along the coast in fragments and the
others made food for fishes along the rocks of Ireland's Eye!

"The Hill of Howth and the rocks at the foot of it!" cried Fitzmaurice as
he recognized the position. "Now God help us, for they are dead to leeward,
and if we have any accounts to settle we had better settle them rapidly!"

There was little agitation in his tone, now, and there was none in that of
the American as he replied two words. They were the last he ever spoke, to
mortal ear. May they have been true when he awoke from his long sleep, as
they were before he fell into it! Those two words were:

"I see!"

The two men were standing, as has been said, very near the larboard
quarter. The Emerald, too, as has also been already said, was very low in
the bulwarks, as befitted her rake and her clipper appearance. Just as the
lawyer uttered the two words, one of the officers of the steamer came aft,
holding on amidst the terrible roll with something of the tenacity of a
cat, and took his place at the wheel. The mist had closed down again and
the Hill of Howth and the breakers were both for the moment shut away.

There was a jar--a creeping, trembling jar that seemed to run through the
little steamer, from stem to stern-post, and yet no blow from the fierce
waves and no grinding of her keel upon the dreaded rocks. It was
life--motion--the beat of machinery once more! At that critical juncture
the engine had moved again for the first time, and if not safety there was
yet at least another struggle with destiny. The officer had dashed back to
throw the steamer up into the wind, the very instant that he felt the steam
once more rushing into the cylinder.

Then followed what cannot be described, because no one living can say
precisely what occurred. Gathering way almost in an instant from the mad
dash of her wheels into the water, the little Emerald plunged forward as
if for her life. She had but a hundred or two yards of vantage ground left,
and seemed to know it. As she gathered way and the quick whirl of the wheel
swept her head gradually round to the sea, one mighty wave, as if afraid of
being baulked of its prey and determined upon a final effort, struck her
under the weather bow and port wheel and sent her careening so low to
leeward that the starboard wheel-house and even the starboard quarter-rail
were under water. She rolled back again in an instant, triumphant over the
great enemy, and thenceforward dashed away from the white breakers on her
lee as if she had been merely tantalizing them with a futile prospect of
her destruction,--to make her way safely two hours afterwards into
Kingstown Harbor and to land the Queen's messenger (who had just then
awoke) and the correspondent of the _Evening Mail_, only an hour later than
the passengers by the packet had disembarked.

But she did not land the American. When the steamer rolled down with her
starboard quarter-rail under water, Fitzmaurice, standing nearest to the
larboard quarter, called out to his companion: "Look out and hold on!" then
clutched the bulwark with his own hands and obeyed his own injunction. But
when the steamer righted he was alone! Whether the lawyer had missed
footing and failed to grasp any point of support at the critical moment, or
whether he had lost head in the dizzying motion and gone over without even
knowing his danger,--certain it is that he had been swept overboard under
circumstances in which the whole British navy could have done no more to
save him than one child of ten years! Henry Fitzmaurice, missing him and
dreading what had really occurred, thought that for one second he saw a
human head, with the hair streaming up, away off in the yeasty water: but
that was all. And he said, bitterly, realizing all the painful facts of the
event, and taking to himself a thought of regret that was likely to cling
to him while his generous heart continued to beat:

"My God!--it was just as I thought! I have been the means of drowning that
splendid fellow, after all!"

       *       *       *       *       *

A few hours later, little Shelah, the barefooted daughter of one of the
poor fishermen whose hut stood at the foot of Howth, around northward
towards Ireland's Eye--little Shelah, who had gone down over the rocks to
the beach when the worst of the storm was over, rushed back to the cabin
with terror in her eyes and broken words upon her lips:

"Oh, father!--there bees a man all dead and dhrownded down there by the
rocks beyant! And he bees so handsome and so much like a rale
gintleman!--how could he dhround? Come down and see till him, father!"

The fisherman went down, and he and his rough mates removed the body and
did their humble and ineffectual all to resuscitate a body from which the
breath of life had long departed. Then the fisherman and his wife and his
mates and little Shelah all mourned over the manly beauty that had been
sacrificed, and wondered who he could possibly be, and where his kindred
would mourn for him. It was only when Father Michael, the good old priest
of the parish was summoned, that they could form any nearer idea of the
personality of the drowned man. Then they knew, for Father Michael could
read, as they could not, and he told them, from one of the cards in the
pocket-book, that "his name had been Carlton Brand, and that he had
belonged to Philadelphia, away over in America, where they used to be so
free and happy, but where they were fighting, now, all the time, about the
naygurs that didn't seem to him worth the throuble!"

They buried him, with such lamentations as they might have bestowed upon
"one of their own," in consecrated ground in a little graveyard a mile away
from the Hill, westward; and Father Michael gave the dead man the benefit
of a benevolent doubt as to his religion, with the remark that "there were
good Christians over in America, and this was one of them, maybe!" uttering
a prayer for the repose of his soul that, if it bore him no nearer to the
Beautiful Gate, certainly left him no farther away from it, while it
fulfilled the behest of a simple and beautiful faith! This done, and a note
despatched to his favorite journal, giving the name and place of burial of
the unfortunate man, Father Michael felt, as he had reason to feel, that he
had done his whole melancholy duty.

Whatever the quest of the American, it was ended: whatever had been the
secret of his unrest, it was not a secret to the eyes that thenceforth
watched over a destiny no longer temporal but eternal.

       *       *       *       *       *

It has been suggested that Henry Fitzmaurice, the journalist, so strangely
thrown into the company of the Philadelphian, so much pleased with his
manner and impressed by his conversation, and so suddenly separated from
him by an accident which seemed to have something of his own handiwork in
its production,--was likely to bear with him, during life, a regret born of
that circumstance. Such being the case, it was eminently natural that in
giving a description of the accident to the despatch-steamer and the peril
to her passengers, on the day following, in the _Mail_, he should have
dwelt at some length on the sad fate of Mr. Carlton Brand, the American,
alluded in terms of warm respect to the character which had briefly fallen
under his observation, and felicitates the far-away friends of the
unfortunate man, on the fact already made public in the _Nation_, that the
body had been early recovered and received tender and honorable Christian
burial.



CHAPTER XXII.

     PLEASANTON'S ADVANCE ON CULPEPER--CROSSING THE
     RAPPAHANNOCK--THE FIGHT AND THE CALAMITY OF RAWSON'S
     CROSS-ROADS--TAKING OF CULPEPER--PLEASANTON'S VOLUNTEER
     AIDE--TOWNSEND VERSUS COLES--THE MEETING OF TWO WHO LOVED
     EACH OTHER--AND THE LITTLE RIDE THEY TOOK TOGETHER.


On Sunday the thirteenth day of September, 1863, and Monday the fourteenth,
but principally on the former day, took place that running fight which
displayed some of the very noblest qualities of the federal cavalry shown
during the War for the Union, and which is better entitled than otherwise
to be designated as the Battle of Culpeper. One of the first conclusive
indications was given in that fight, that while the rebel cavalry, which at
the beginning of the war was certainly excellent, had been running down
from the giving out of their trained horses, and the deterioration of the
quality of their riders through forced conscription,--the Union cavalry, at
first contemptible in force and inefficient in comparison to their very
numbers, had every day been improving as fast as augmenting, until they had
become the superiors of what the best of their foes had been at the
beginning of the contest. War can make any thing (except perhaps statesmen)
out of a given quantity of American material; but it can unmake as well,
when it strains the material existing and creates a forced supply for the
vacant places of the dead and the vanquished, out of the infirm and the
incapable; and before the end of this conflict the lesson will have been so
closely read as never to need a repetition.

The rebels held Culpeper and the south bank of the Rappahannock, and had
held the whole of that line for weeks, formidable in their occasional
demonstrations, but still more formidable in what it was believed they
_might_ do by a sudden crossing of that dividing stream at some moment
when the Union forces should be deficient in vigilance, preoccupied, or
otherwise embarrassed. They were to be driven back if possible, from their
threatening front, or if not driven back, at least struck such a blow as
would make early offensive operations on their part improbable. These were
the intentions, so far as they can be known and judged, which led to the
crossing of the Rappahannock at that particular juncture.

At three o'clock on the morning of that Sunday which was to join with so
many other days of battle during the rebellion in proving that "there are
no Sabbaths in war,"--at an hour when the thick darkness preceding the dawn
hung like a pall over the banks of the rugged stream and the hostile forces
that fringed it on either side--the cavalry camps on the north side of the
Rappahannock were all astir. All astir, and yet all strangely quiet, in
comparison with the activity manifested. No mellow bugle rang out its notes
of reveille; there was no rattle of drum or shrieking of fife; the laggard
sleeper was awakened by a touch on the shoulder, a shake, or a quick word
in his ear. Horses were saddled in silence; and at the commands: "Prepare
to mount!" "Mount!" given in the lowest possible tones that could command
attention, the drowsy blue-jacketted, yellow-trimmed troopers, all
be-spurred and be-sabred as if equal foes to the horses they were to ride
and the enemies they were to encounter,--vaulted lightly or swung
themselves heavily, according to the manner of each particular man, into
their high peaked McClellan saddles that seemed to be all that was left
them of their old leader. The squadrons were formed as quietly and with as
few words as had accompanied the awakening and the mounting; for if a
surprise of the enemy's force was to take place, it was a matter of the
highest consequence that no loud sound or careless exclamation should reach
the ears of the wary pickets and wide-awake videttes of the rebels hugging
close the banks on the south side of the narrow river.

The preparations were at last and hastily completed, long before the gray
dawn after the moonless night had begun to break over the Virginia hills
lying dark and cool to the eastward. Perhaps that very morning had been
selected for the attack because on the night before the new moon had made
its appearance and there was no tell-tale lingerer to throw an awkward
gleam on an accoutrement and thus tell a story meant to be concealed.
Troopers clustered together and formed squadrons, squadrons were merged
into regiments which in turn swelled to brigades and brigades to divisions.
It was only then that the extensive nature of the movement, which had
Pleasanton at the head and Buford, Gregg and Kilpatrick all engaged in the
execution, could have been conjectured even by an eye capable of peering
through the darkness. It seemed scarcely an hour after the first awakening
when the formation was complete and the order to "March!" given; and there
was not even yet a gleam of red in the eastern sky when the whole command
was in motion.

This large cavalry force, under Pleasanton as we have said, was composed of
three divisions, commanded respectively by Buford, Gregg and Kilpatrick,
all Brigadiers. The Rappahannock was crossed at as many different points,
Buford with the First going over at Starke's Ford; Gregg, with the Second,
at Sulphur Springs, four miles distant; and Kilpatrick, with the Third, at
Kelly's Ford, nine miles farther down and thirteen miles distant from the
place of crossing of the First. Stuart, the famous "Jeb," with his
confederate cavalry, was known to be in force on the elevated ground at and
around Culpeper Court House, with his pickets and videttes extending to the
very edge of the Rappahannock; and a wide sweep of the Union force was
believed to be necessary to circumvent him. Detachments of rebel troops
were also known to hold all the prominent points between Culpeper and
Brandy Station, where the brigades of Lomax and W. F. H. Lee were lying.

Pleasanton was over the river, with all his force before broad daylight--so
rapid and successful had been the movement. The roads were dry and in as
good order as Virginia roads are ever allowed to be by the powers that
preside over highways; and the force, still in the three divisions, swept
southward as silently as iron-shod animals have the capacity for bearing
iron-accoutred riders. Napoleon _la Petit_ had never yet succeeded in
introducing gutta-percha scabbards for the swords of his troopers and
gutta-percha shoes for their horses, even into the French cavalry; and the
Yankee troops of Pleasanton had all the disadvantages of the usual rattling
of bridle-bits, the clattering of sabres within steel scabbards, and the
pounding of multitudinous hoofs upon the hard dry earth, the latter
occasionally a little muffled by an inch of gray powdery dust, choking the
riders as it made their advance less noisy.

Spite of the clanking of hoof and steel, however, the advance was made with
such silence and celerity that the greater portion of the rebel pickets on
the southern bank of the Rappahannock were captured, while the
remainder--here and there one scenting danger afar off and holding an
advantage in knowledge of the roads--fled in dismay to report that the
whole Army of the Potomac, sappers and miners, pioneers and pontoniers,
horse, foot and dragoons, was closing in upon Culpeper.

As the morning advanced and the light grew stronger, so that the danger and
the persons of the attacking forces could at once be better distinguished,
skirmishing commenced with that portion of the rebel force, stationed in
more or less strength at various points and called to arms by their pickets
being driven in upon them,--to meet and if possible check the advancing
columns. Not long before they discovered that any effectual check to the
forces which Pleasanton seemed to be pouring down every cross road and
throwing out from behind every clump of woods on the roadsides, was
impossible; and they fell back, skirmishing.

At Brandy Station (droll and unfortunate name, destined to supply more bad
jokes at the expense of the dry throats of the army than almost any other
spot on Virginia soil), a junction of the three divisions of Union troops
was effected; and there, while that disposition was being made, a sharp
fight took place between the First, under Buford, and the rebel cavalry
under Colonel Beale of the Ninth Virginia. But that struggle, though sharp,
was only of brief continuance: out-foughten, and it must be confessed,
outnumbered, the enemy was driven back from the Station and pursued
vigorously.

While the gallant Buford was thus occupied with the First, Gregg, with the
Second division was making a detour to the right and pouring down his
troopers upon Culpeper from the north by the Ridgeville road, driving
before him upon the main body at the Court House a rebel brigade that had
held the advance, under General Lomax (an officer whose name, we may as
well say, apropos of the bad jokes of war-time, had caused nearly as many
of those verbal outrages upon English, as the unfortunate Brandy Station
itself).

Kilpatrick, meanwhile, with his Third division had not been idle. (When was
he ever known to be idle, except when others held him in check, or
ineffective except when some other than himself misdirected his dashing
energy?) He had swept around to the left, nearly at the same time that
Gregg made the detour to the right, and striking the Stevensburgh road
advanced rapidly from the east towards Culpeper and the right of the
enemy's position, which rested on Rawson's Cross-Roads, two miles
south-east of the Court-House. The rebels here made a stubborn resistance,
and steel met steel and pistol-shot replied to sabre-stroke as it had not
before done that day; but the odds were a little against them; they were
outflanked by that incarnate "raider" of the Sussex mountains of New
Jersey, who no doubt could trace back some drop of his blood to Johnny
Armstrong the riever of the Scottish border, or the moss troopers of the
Bog of Allen in Ireland; and they fell back to the town and beyond it,
taking up new positions which they were not destined to hold much longer
than those they had abandoned.

But this brief shock of battle between the division of Kilpatrick and the
rebels opposed to it, did not roll away from the little hamlet of Rawson's
Cross-Roads without the enacting of one of those sad tragedies, in the
shedding of the blood of non-combatants, which seem so much more painful
than the wholesale but expected slaughter of the field. Near the crossing
of the roads there stood one brick house, of two stories, the only one of
that material in the vicinity. This house, when Kilpatrick came up, was
occupied by the rebel sharp-shooters, partially sheltered by the thick
walls and bringing down the federal cavalry from their saddles at every
discharge of their deadly rifles. Such obstructions in the way of an
advance, especially when they destroy as well as embarrass, are not apt to
be treated with much toleration by those who have the power to sweep them
away; and immediately when the imminence of the danger was discovered, one
of the federal batteries was ordered up to dislodge the sharp-shooters. It
dashed up with all the celerity that whipped and spurred and galloping
horses could give it, halted within point-blank range, unlimbered, and sent
shell, canister and case-shot into and through the obnoxious edifice in a
manner and with a rapidity little calculated upon by the mason who quietly
laid his courses of bricks for the front and side-walls, in the quiet years
before Virginia secession. The sharp-shooters were soon silenced and
dislodged--at least all of them who were left after the last deadly
discharge of missiles had been poured in by the battery; and the house was
at once occupied, when the firing ceased, by a detachment of Union cavalry
dismounted for that service. When those men entered the half-ruined
building they first became aware of this extraordinary and deplorable
tragedy, in which a little blood went so far in awakening regret and
horror. They heard cries of pain and shrieks of distress and fear, echoing
through the building, in other accents than those which could belong to
wounded soldiers--the tones of women! And in the cellar they found the
painful solution of the mystery--more painful far, to them, than a hundred
times the death and suffering under ordinary circumstances. In that cellar,
among smoke, and blood and dust, were huddled twenty or thirty
non-combatants, men, women and children; and in their midst lay an old man,
quite dead and the upper part of his head half carried away by a portion of
shell, while fallen partially across his legs was the body of his son of
sixteen, his boyish features scarcely yet stilled in the repose of death
from a ghastly hurt that had torn away the arm and a part of the shoulder.
Two women lay near, one dying from a blow on the temple which had driven in
the bones of the skull like the crushing of an egg-shell, and the other
uttering the most heart-rending of the cries and groans under the agony of
a crushed leg and a foot literally blown to atoms. A sad sight!--a
harrowing spectacle, even for war-time! And how had it been occasioned?

It would seem that on the approach of the cavalry and the commencement of
fighting in the neighborhood, this party of non-combatants had crowded into
this house--no doubt long to be known in the local traditions of the place
as that of James Inskip,--and taken refuge in the cellar, believing that in
it, as the only brick house in the vicinity, they would be safest from the
missiles of the opposing forces. And so they would have been, safe enough
beyond a doubt, had not the rebel commander, unaware of the presence of
non-combatants in the building, or heedless of the common law of humanity
not to expose them to unnecessary danger in any military operation,
recklessly placed his sharp-shooters in shelter there and thus drawn the
fire of the fatal battery. Two or three of the shells, crashing through the
house, had fallen into the cellar and exploded in the very midst of the
trembling skulkers in their place of fancied security,--with the sad
results that have been recorded, and which none more deeply deplored than
the men who had unwittingly slaughtered the aged and the helpless. Some of
the Richmond papers told harrowing stories, a few days after, of the
"inhuman barbarity of the dastardly Yankees who wantonly butchered those
inoffensive men and helpless women and children in James Inskip's house at
Rawson's Cross-Roads"; but they forgot, as newspapers on both sides of the
sad struggle have too often done during its continuance, to add one word of
the explanatory and extenuating circumstances!

By the time that Kilpatrick, with the Third, had concluded the episode of
Rawson's Cross-Roads and driven the opposing forces back upon the town,
Buford, with the First, after chasing the rebel cavalry under Beale to
moderate satisfaction, had come up from the south, and the junction of the
three divisions was accomplished.

On the elevated site of Culpeper and in the uneven streets of that old town
which bears, like so many of its compeers, shabby recollections of English
aristocracy that for some cause seem to suit it better than the thin
pretence of democratic government,--there Stuart, than whom the rebellion
has developed no more restless or more active foe of the Union cause,
appeared determined to make a last and effectual stand. With a celerity
worthy of his past reputation he placed sharp-shooters in houses that
commanded the Union advance, planted batteries at advantageous positions in
the streets, and threw up barricades of all the unemployed carts and wagons
and all the idle timber and loose fence-rails lying about the town, in a
manner which would have endeared him to the Parisians of the time of Louis
Philippe. Right and left and on every hand, defending these obstructions
and supporting the batteries, dashed his mounted "Virginia gentlemen," once
the very Paladins of their knightly class, when Fauquier and the White
Sulphur saw the pleasant sport of tilting at the ring in the presence of
the bright-eyed Queens of Beauty of the Old Dominion,--now brought down to
the level and compelled to contest the fatal advance, of a "horde of Yankee
tailors on horseback"!

General Pleasanton, the actual as well as nominal head of the Union
advance, held his position on an eminence a short distance east of the
town, from which an excellent view of the whole situation could be
commanded, and whence he directed all the movements with the rapidity of a
soldier and the coolness of a man thoroughly in confidence with himself and
well assured of the material of his command. He had won with the same
troops before, even when placed at disadvantage: that day he felt that the
game was in his own hands and that he could play it rapidly and yet
steadily. The thing which worst troubled him as from that little eminence
he looked out from under his bent brows, over the scene which was to
witness so short, sharp and decisive a conflict,--was the knowledge how
seriously the stubborn resistance offered by the rebels was likely to peril
the non-combatants in the town, and how inevitably, from the same cause,
the old town itself, just tumble-down enough to be historical and
picturesque, must suffer from the flying shot and shell that know so little
mercy. He had hoped, the first surprise succeeding, to take Culpeper
against but slight resistance; and it was no part of his plan (it never
_is_ part of the plan of any truly brave man!) to batter the town if that
measure could be avoided; but the balances and compensations of war are
appreciable if not gratifying, musketry on one side is nearly sure to be
answered in kind by the other, and artillery (when there happens to be any,
and wo to the party without the "big guns" when the other has them at
command!)--artillery has a very natural habit of replying to the thunderous
defiance sent out by its hostile kinsmen. Culpeper, too well defended, was
not the less certain to be taken, while it was the more certain to bear
marks of the conflict that only the demolition of half its buildings could
erase.

God pity and help the residents of any town given up to the ruthless
passions of a fierce soldiery--to plunder and rapine and murder,--after
what is so inadequately described as "taking by _storm_"! When for the
moment hell is let loose upon the earth, as if to teach us that if we have
yet something of the god lingering in our fallen manhood, we have yet
something of the arch-fiend remaining to show how we accompanied him in
his fall. When roofs blaze because a reckless hand has dashed a torch
therein in the very wantonness of destruction. When the golden vessels of
the church service and the sacred little memorials of happy hours in
boudoir and bed-room are alike torn from their places, dashed into pieces
and ground under armed heels, as if the inanimate objects bore a share of
the wrong of resistance and could feel a part of the suffering meted out to
it. When murder is for the time licensed and the blood of the defender of
his door-stone and his hearth dabbles his gray hair on one or the other of
those sacred places, and there is no thought of punishment for the red
hand, except as God may silently mete it in the years to come.
When--saddest and worst of all,--the matron is outraged before the eyes of
her bound and blaspheming husband; and young girls, the peach-bloom of
maidenhood not yet brushed from the cheek, are torn shrieking from the arms
that would shelter them, to be so polluted and dishonored by a ruffian
touch that but yesterday would have seemed impossible to their dainty flesh
as the rising up of a fiend from the lower pit to rend the white garments
of one of the redeemed in heaven,--so polluted and dishonored that a prayer
for the mercy of death bubbles up from the lips at the last word before
resistance becomes insensibility.

This wreck of a "storm" of human license is terrible--so terrible that the
effects of the convulsions of nature, the tempest, the tornado and even the
earthquake, sink into insignificance beside them. Heaven be praised that
during the War for the Union, called by our English cousins so
"fratricidal," we have as yet known no Badajos or even a sacking of Pekin!
But only second to such scenes in horror and scarcely second in terror,
have been some of those supplied when the battle issue of the two armies
was joined near some quiet country town before lying peaceful and
inoffensive, or when military necessity has made its houses temporary
fortifications and its streets the points of desperate attacks and as
desperate defences. Then what crashing of shot and shell through houses;
what demolition of all that had before been sacred; what huddling together
of the frightened and the defenceless who never before dreamed that, though
war was in the land, it would break so near to _them_; what mad gathering
of valuables and impotent preparations for flight that would be more
dangerous than remaining; what whistling of bullets that seemed each
billeted for a defenceless breast; what thunderous discharges of cannon
that made every non-combatant limb quiver and every delicate cheek grow
bloodless; what shouts in the street and cries of terror and dismay within
doors; what trembling peeps through half-closed shutters, with an imagined
death even in every such momentary exposure; what cowerings in cellars and
hidings beneath piles of old lumber in garrets; what reports of defeat or
victory to the party that was feared or favored; what claspings of children
and ungovernable weepings of hysteria; what prayers and what execrations;
what breakings-up and destructions of all that had been, and what
revelations of the desolation that is to be!

Such, since the breaking out of the rebellion, has been the situation of
many a before-peaceful town, in many a State that once rested happily under
the shadow of the Eagle's wing. And such was the situation of one fated old
town that day, when Gregg from the north, Kilpatrick from the east and
Buford from the south, came up almost simultaneously and their forces
charged recklessly into the streets of Culpeper Court-House. The excitement
and confusion in the town at once became all that we have so feebly
endeavored to indicate--women shrieking in terror, soldiers groaning with
their wounds, children crying from fright; and blended with these and a
hundred other inharmonious sounds, the shouts in the street, the bugle
calls, the hissing of bullets, the rumble of artillery wheels, the broken
thunder of the feet of trampling horses, the occasional crash of
half-demolished houses, and the hoarse roar of the batteries as they
belched out their missiles of death and destruction. Culpeper, for a short
period, was a veritable pandemonium in miniature; and no detail can add to
the force of that brief but comprehensive description.

Near the railroad bridge spanning the little stream running nearly through
the centre of the town, the rebels had discovered a strategic point of no
little consequence, and they had posted there a battery of several pieces,
well served and annoying the advance of the Third division very materially.
The battery seemed to be placed there, not only to obstruct the advance but
to protect a train of cars just then being loaded by the rebels above, with
munitions and other articles of consequence, preparatory to a start down
the railroad southward. Battery D., Second New York Artillery, ordered for
that service, ran up its sections at a gallop, unlimbered and poured in
shot and shell, grape and canister upon the train, in such disagreeable
rapidity as sent the half loaded cars away towards the Rapidan with all the
speed that could be suddenly mustered. Still the battery at the bridge
remained, firing rapidly and cutting up the head of Kilpatrick's column in
a manner calculated to make the General gnash his teeth in indignation. The
space to the bridge was uphill, accordingly raked downward by the rebel
fire; the bridge itself was narrow and the footing for horses seriously
damaged by the railroad tracks that crossed it with their switches and
lines of slippery iron. Still it was known that that bridge must be
cleared, at any cost, or the advance through Culpeper would be a most
bloody one if accomplished at all. Just as Kilpatrick was about to order a
charge of cavalry to clear that bridge and if possible capture the pieces,
his intention seemed to be anticipated and a squadron of Stuart's cavalry
rode down and took post, dismounted, behind the battery, in position to
support, while three or four companies of rebel riflemen followed, ready to
do deadly execution with their pieces against any troops attempting to
charge, and to fall upon that force with resistless fury at the moment of
their weakness, if the guns should be ridden over! No pleasant prospect,
as the Sussex raider thought, and for a moment he apparently wavered in
intention, while the battery played heavily and every instant saw one or
more of his best troopers biting the dust of the causeway below.

But this momentary indecision, whether or not it would have continued much
longer of his own volition, was not destined to do so when the will of
another came into play. A horseman dashed rapidly over to the spot where
Kilpatrick was momentarily halted, from Pleasanton a few hundreds of yards
away, running a fearful gauntlet of the enemy's fire, as he did so, from a
battery that had just wheeled into position and opened down a narrow
cross-street to the left,--spoke a few quick words to the General and then
awaited the movement that was to follow. And it was not long that he or the
commander who sent him needed to wait. The command had been: "Clear that
bridge and take the battery, at all hazards!" and Kilpatrick only needed
that support of his own judgment to order a charge which he would have been
best pleased, if he could only have gone back to be a Colonel for a few
moments, to lead in person. His eye rolled questioningly over the Third for
a moment, and then the rapid words of command followed. Only a certain
number of cavalry could be employed upon that dangerous service, without
making the carnage greater by throwing the troopers literally in the way of
each other; and it was the Second New York, Harris Light Guard, a troop
which had already won honor on every field touched by the hoofs of their
horses,--called out for that quick, sharp, perilous duty that every
squadron in the command probably coveted.

The gallant Second received the order with loud cheers that came nigh to
imitating the well-known rebel fox-hunting yell, for some of their best
fellows had fallen ingloriously and the human tiger was not only unchained
but set on horseback. They formed column by fours with a rapidity which
told of the fierce hunger of conflict; and when the bugles rang out the
charge, the dusty and smoke-stained riders returned their now-useless
carbines to their slings, drew sabres, and driving their spurs rowel deep
into the flanks of horses that seemed almost as anxious as themselves,
dashed forward towards the bridge. Their ringing shouts did not cease as
they galloped on, and their sword-blades, if they grew thinner in number,
still gleamed as brightly as ever in the sunlight, as they measured that
narrow but fatal space, while round after round of grape and canister,
carbine-bullets, musket-balls and rifle-shots, burst into their faces and
mowed down their flanks as they swept on. Saddles were emptied, horses went
down with cries of pain more fearful than any that man can utter, and brave
men went headlong into the dust from which they would never rise again in
life. But the progress of the charging squadron did not seem to be delayed
a moment. The rebel gunners of the battery were reloading for yet one more
discharge, when, just in the midst of that operation, over the bridge and
upon them burst the head of that column which seemed as if nothing in the
way of human missiles had power to stay it. Before the gray and begrimed
cannoniers could withdraw their rammers the troopers were in their midst.
Then followed that fierce cutting and thrusting of artillery swords and
cavalry sabres, that interchange of revolver-shots and crushing of human
bones under the feet of trampling horses, incident to the taking of any
battery that is sharply attacked and bravely defended. A little of this,
but still under heavy fire from behind,--and the guns were captured, with
all their men and horses left alive.

And yet the work of the Second New York in that quarter was by no means
finished. That steady and murderous fire continued from up the street, as
the infantry and the dismounted cavalry of the support fell back; and it
was only by one more sweeping charge that the annoyance could be removed.
Scarcely any one knew whence came the voice that ordered that second
charge, but the blood of the troopers was up and they made it gallantly. In
three minutes thereafter a broken and flying mass, far up the street, was
all that remained of the supporting force; but a fearfully diminished
number of the cavalrymen rode back to assist in sending the captured
battery to the rear. We shall have occasion, presently, to know something
more of these two charges, undoubtedly the most spirited events of a day on
which all the Union troops and many of the rebels reflected honor upon the
causes they supported.

Immediately after the clearing of the bridge a gallant dash was made by
Gen. Custer, the "boy general with the golden-locks" (the man who has made
a solemn vow, it is said, never to shorten those locks until he rides
victoriously into Richmond) leading the charge in person, with portions of
the First Vermont and First Michigan cavalry, against a section of a
battery, stationed nearly a quarter of a mile beyond the bridge and within
a hundred or two yards of the front of Stuart's main body. These pieces
were worked by as obstinate a set of gray-backs as ever rammed home a rebel
cartridge; and the gunners, defiant of Custer's detour to the left to
escape a direct raking fire, and apparently relying upon the main body
lying so near them, continued to load and fire until the federal leader and
his men were literally on the top of the pieces and fairly riding them
under foot. Guns and caissons were taken, while the support relied upon
seemed to be so paralyzed by the daring of the whole affair as scarcely to
offer any resistance,--the horses hitched to the pieces, the guns limbered
up, and the rebel gunners even forced to mount and drive their lost cannon
to join the others in the rear!

A considerable rebel force of cavalry, artillery and infantry were by this
time in full retreat below the town, along the line of the Orange and
Alexandria railroad; and the Fifth New York cavalry were sent in pursuit.
The gallant troopers of the Fifth charged at a gallop the moment they came
within sweeping distance of the foe, but the high embankment of the road
broke the charge, and the detour necessary to make a more advantageous
approach deprived the gallant boys of their half-won laurels and allowed
the flying enemy to escape.

While Kilpatrick was thus engaged, Buford and Gregg, with the First and
Second, had been by no means idle. Dashing into the town, each from his
chosen direction, the troopers of each leaped barricades and drove the
rebels before them wherever encountered upon open ground; and a part of the
force of either division, dismounted, skirmished from corner to corner and
dislodged the sharp-shooters one by one from all their holes and
hiding-places. Sometimes stubbornly resisted, at others seeming to have no
foe worthy of their steel, the three divisions won their way through the
old town; and the cavalry of Stuart, up to that time so often declared
invincible, were at last driven pell-mell out of Culpeper and back to the
momentary refuge of Pony Mountain. Even there they were again dislodged,
the First Michigan cavalry accomplishing a feat which might have surprised
even Halstead Rowan of this chronicle--routing a whole brigade by charging
up a hill so steep that some of the riders slipped backwards over the tails
of their horses, their saddles bearing them company!

The town of Culpeper was finally occupied at one o'clock, P. M.; and not
many hours after the ridge behind it and Pony Mountain were in the hands of
the dashing cavalrymen. Retreating towards the Rapidan, they were pursued
towards Raccoon Ford on the left and centre by Buford and Kilpatrick with
the First and Third divisions, while Gregg, with the Second, pushed a heavy
Rebel force before him to Rapidan Station. By nightfall the rebels had been
driven to the north bank of the Rapidan, where both forces bivouacked that
night in line of battle.

Monday morning saw the recommencement of hostilities and the retreat of the
rebels to the south side of the river, leaving the federal forces to hold
the country between the Rappahannock and the Rapidan, with all the
strategic points therein, Culpeper included. Stuart, it was said, had
often boasted that "no Yankee force could drive _him_ from Culpeper!" and
if such a boast was really made and afterwards so signally disproved by the
"horde of Yankee tailors on horseback," the fact only furnishes one more
additional proof to Benedick's declaration that he would live and die a
bachelor, so soon followed by his marriage with Beatrice,--that humanity is
very uncertain and that human calculations are fallible to a degree painful
to contemplate!

Such were the general features of the crossing of the Rappahannock and the
Battle of Culpeper, one of the sharpest cavalry affairs of the war, and
perhaps more important as illustrating the reliability to which the Union
horse had attained from a beginning little less than contemptible, than
from the mere military advantage gained by the movement. It now becomes
necessary to descend to a few particulars connected with the event of the
day, and briefly to trace the influence on the fortunes of some of the
leading characters in this narration, exercised by the advance of General
Pleasanton and his dashing brigadiers.

It has been seen that at a certain period of that day the division of
Kilpatrick was held temporarily in check by the rebel battery posted at the
railroad-bridge, and that for a moment the General, aware of the necessity
of removing the obstruction if the direct advance through Culpeper was to
be continued, yet hesitated in ordering the charge which must be made in
the face of such overwhelming difficulty, until a peremptory direction from
Pleasanton left him no option in the matter. And it is to personal
movements of that particular period that attention must at this moment be
directed.

Just when he made the discovery through his field glass of the havoc being
wrought by the rebel battery and the momentary hesitation, Pleasanton, who
did not happen to be in the best of humors with reference to it, was placed
in the same situation in which Wellington for a few moments found himself
on the day of Waterloo, when he employed the button-bagman with the blue
umbrella under his arm, to carry some important orders. He was, in short,
out of aide-de-camps. One by one they had been sent away to different
points, and it so chanced, just then, that none had returned. Something
very much like an oath muttered between the lips of the impatient veteran
of forty, and one exclamation came out so that there was no difficulty in
recognizing it:

"Nobody here when everybody is worst wanted! I wish the d--l had the whole
pack of them!"

"Perhaps _I_ can do what you wish, General."

The words came from a young man in civilian's dress--gray pants and
broad-brimmed felt hat, but with a military suspicion in his coat of light
blue flannel,--who stood very near the commander, his horse's bridle over
arm and a large field glass in hand, and who had apparently been scanning
with much interest a scene of blood in which it was neither his duty nor
his disposition to take part.

"You?" and the veteran turned upon him, with something very like a laugh on
his lips. "You? Humph! Do you know what I want?"

"Some one to carry an order, I suppose!"

"Exactly! Over that causeway, to Kilpatrick at the bridge. Do you see how
that flanking battery to the left is raking every thing, and the one in
front is throwing beyond Kil's position? The chances are about even that
the man who starts never gets there! Now do you wish to go?"

"No objection on that account!" was the reply of the young man, who seemed
to be on terms of very easy intimacy with the General, as indeed he was,--a
privileged visitor, who had accompanied him in the advance, but eminently
"unattached" and thus far neither fighting nor expected to fight.

"The d--l you haven't! Well, ----, that is certainly cool, for _you_! Never
mind--if you like a little personal taste of what war really is, take
this," and he scribbled a few words on a slip of paper on his raised
knee--"take this and get it to Kilpatrick as soon as you can. If you do not
come back again, I shall send word to your family."

"Oh, yes, thank you, General; but I shall come back again!" He had swung
himself into the saddle of his gray, while Pleasanton was writing, and the
veteran held the paper for one instant in his hand and looked into his face
with a strange interest. What he saw there seemed to satisfy him, and he
handed the paper with a nod. The volunteer aide-de-camp received it with a
bow, and the next moment was flying towards the front of the Third, riding
splendidly, running the gauntlet that has before been suggested, but
untouched, and delivering his orders in very quick time and at emphatically
the right moment. The important movement which immediately followed has
already been narrated, in its bearing on the result of the day; but there
were other effects not less important when personal destinies are taken
into the account.

Gregg, who espied something on the right, that was likely to be hidden from
Kilpatrick until it discovered itself by unpleasant consequences, had sent
over an aide with a word of warning; and nearly at the same moment when the
volunteer messenger from Pleasanton reached the brigadier, the officer from
Gregg rode rapidly up from his direction. Both delivered their messages in
a breath, and then both fell back at a gesture from the General. The aide
from Gregg was turning his horse to ride back again to his post, when he
caught a glance at the somewhat strangely attired man who had come in from
Pleasanton. From his lower garments that glance naturally went up to his
hat, and thence, by an equally natural movement, to his face. The dark
brows of the officer bent darker in an instant, and perhaps there was that
in his gaze which the other _felt_, (there are those who assert that such
things are possible), for the next instant there was an answering glance
and another pair of brows were knitted not less decidedly. Those two men
were serving (more or less) in the same cause, but they looked as little as
possible like two warm-hearted comrades in arms--much more as if they would
have been delighted to take each other by the throat and mutually exert
that gentle pressure calculated to expel a life or two!

Pleasanton was just calling out the Second to take the battery and clear
the bridge. While he was doing so, the evil genius of one of those men
drove them into collision. The messenger from Gregg, who wore the
shoulder-straps and other accoutrements of a Captain on staff service, but
with a cavalry sabre at his belt,--after the pause of a moment and while
the other was still fixedly regarding him, spurred his horse close up to
the side of the gray ridden by the civilian, and accosted him in a tone and
with a general manner that he seemed to take no pains to render amiable:

"What are _you_ doing here?"

"On staff service, Captain. How is your head?" was the reply, with quite as
much of sneer in the tone as the other had displayed of arrogance.

"What do you call yourself just now?--'Horace Townsend' still?" was the
Captain's next inquiry.

"To most others, yes: to you, Captain Hector Coles, just now, I am--" and
he bent his mouth so close to the ear of the other that he could have no
difficulty in hearing him, though he spoke the last words in a hoarse
whisper that has even escaped _us_!

"I thought so, all the while!" was the reply, an expression of malignant
joy crossing the face. "The same infernal coward--I knew it!"

The face of the man who had been Horace Townsend seemed convulsed by a
spasm of mortal agony the instant after, but it gave place almost as
quickly to an expression of set, deadly anger, the eyes blazing and the
cheeks livid. He leaned close to the Captain and even grasped his arm as if
to make sure that he should not get away before he had finished his whole
sentence.

"Captain Hector Coles," he said, still in the same low, hoarse voice, but
so near that the other could easily hear--"you called me the same name five
or six weeks ago at the Crawford House, and I am afraid that I _proved_
that it belonged to _you_!"

"I told you that I would kill you some day for that impertinence, and I
_will_!" was the reply of the Captain, terrible anger in his face.

"No--if you kill me at all, and I do not think you will,--it will be
because you believe me, with good reason, something more of a favorite with
a lady whose name it is not necessary to mention, than yourself!"

This insulting boast of preference and allusion to Margaret Hayley were
quite as well understood as they needed to be. There was another livid
cheek, just then, and a fierce answering fire in the eye which told how
deeply the barb rankled. But before the Captain could speak, to utter words
that must have been equally bitter and blasphemous, the civilian continued:

"You challenged me for what I said at the White Mountains, Captain Hector
Coles--you man with a swimming in the head! I refused your challenge then,
but I accept it now. If you are not the coward you called _me_, you will
fight me here and instantly!"

"Here and now?" These were all the words that the surprised and possibly
horrified Captain could utter.

"Exactly!" was the reply, the voice still low and hoarse but rapid and
without one indication of tremor. "I told you that I was on staff service.
So I am. I have just brought General Kilpatrick orders from General
Pleasanton to clear that bridge and take the battery yonder that is doing
us so much damage. Ah! by George--there goes another of our best fellows!"
This as a round shot came tearing into the ranks just ahead, killing one of
the troopers and his horse. Then he resumed, in the same low rapid tone:
"You see those New York boys forming there, to do the work. Ride with them
and with _me_, if you DARE, Captain Hector Coles, and see who goes
furthest! That is my duel!"

"_I?_--I am on staff duty--not a mere cavalryman!" There was hesitation in
the voice and deadly pallor on the cheek: the civilian heard the one and
saw the other.

"Refuse to go with me and fight out our quarrel in that manner," the
excited voice went on, "and by the God who made us both, the whole army
shall know who is the coward! More--" and again his mouth was very near to
the ear of the other--"_she_ shall know it!"

There are spells by which the fiend can always be raised, without much
doubt, however troublesome it may be to find any means by which to lay him
afterwards. To Captain Hector Coles there was one conjuration irresistible,
and that had been used in the present instance. Shame before the whole army
was nothing--it may be doubted, in fact, whether he had not known something
of that infliction before at least a portion of the army, and survived it
without difficulty. But shame before Margaret Hayley, after the boasts he
had used, the underrating of others in which he had indulged, and the
worship of physical courage which he knew to be actually a foible in her
nature?--no, that was not to be thought of for one moment! Better wounds or
death, out of the way of both which he had before so skilfully kept, than
that! This reflection did not occupy many seconds, and his heavy brow was
as black as thunder as he turned short round in the saddle and almost
hissed at his tempter:

"Come on, then, fool as well as coward, and see how long before I will
teach you a lesson!"

Horace Townsend--as he must still be called--did not say another word in
reply. The Light Guard were by that time formed for the charge, and he
merely said, in the hearing of all:

"Come--the Captain and I are going to take a ride with the boys! Who will
lend me a sword?"

The strange demand for a moment drew general attention to him, and among
other regards that of Kilpatrick. The idea of a civilian throwing himself
into such a charge seemed to strike him at once, and before one of the
orderlies could draw out his weapon and present it, the General had handed
his, with the words:

"Here is mine!--Mind that you bring it back again!"

Kilpatrick unslung his sword and held up the scabbard with the blade, but
the new volunteer merely drew out the blade with a bow and driving spurs
into his gray dashed forward to the head of the column, Captain Hector
Coles close beside him. Perhaps no two men ever went into battle side by
side, with precisely the same relative feelings, since carving up men with
the broadsword became a profession. Neither, it seems almost certain, had
the least thought of devotion to the country, of hatred to the rebellion,
or even of _esprit du corps_, moving him to the contest. The one was intent
upon revenging an insult received long before, by getting the other killed
in proving him a coward,--and may have had another but still personal
motive: that other was equally anxious to keep up his own reputation in the
eyes of a woman, and to get removed out of his way a man whom he believed
to be a rival, but who was really no more in his way than Shakspeare's
nobody who "died a' Wednesday." Both half blind with rage and hate, and
both, therefore--let the truth be told--bad soldiers! Both following a
petty whim or facing death as a mere experiment, and neither with the most
distant thought of the fate that rode close behind, to protect or to slay,
and each alike inevitably!

Just then the bugle rang out, the commands "Column forward! Trot, march!
Gallop, march! Charge!" rang out in quick succession, and away dashed the
Second, with the results that have already been foreshadowed in the general
account of the movement. But though armies and the various smaller bodies
that form armies, are great aggregates of manhood, they are something more;
and who can measure, in reading an account of that bridge so gallantly
carried, that attack so splendidly repulsed, or that point of battle held
against every odds, with the conclusion--"Our loss was only two hundred [or
two thousand], in killed and wounded,"--who can measure, we ask, the amount
of personal suffering involved in that movement and its result?--who can
form any guess at the variety of personal adventure, depression,
elevation, hope, fear, delirious joy and maddening horror, going to make up
that event spoken of so flippantly as one great total?

The rebel battery beyond the bridge had been throwing round shot and shell,
as has already been observed, reaching far beyond Kilpatrick's front and
doing heavy damage. It was inevitable that as the advance of the attacking
column was seen, that fire should be redoubled. And before they had crossed
half the intervening distance the rain of bullets from the supporting rebel
riflemen began to blend with the fall of heavier projectiles, making a very
storm of destructive missiles, more difficult for horsemen to breast than
any opposing charge of their own weight could have been, splitting heads,
crashing out brains, boring bodies full of holes from which the blood and
the life went out together, and hurling horses and riders to the ground
with such frequency that wounded men had their little remaining breath
trampled out by their own comrades and every fallen animal formed a
temporary barricade over which another fell and became disabled. Through
the air around them rang the scream of shell and the shrill whistle of
bullets, blended with the inevitable cry that rose as some bullet found a
fatal mark, and the roar of agony when a horse was hurled desperately
wounded and yet living to the ground. The shout with which the troopers had
at first broken into their charge, did not die away; and it did not cease,
in fact, until the command had done its work--until the battery was taken
and the supports scattered by the supplementary onset; but with what sounds
it was blent before the cavalrymen reached the rebel guns, only those who
have listened to the same horrible confusion of noises can form the most
distant idea. To all others the attempt at description must be as vague as
the thought of Armageddon or the Day of Falling Mountains!

If those sights and sounds cannot be described, who shall describe the
sensations of those who then for the first time rode point-blank into the
very face of death? Not we, certainly. The very man who has experienced
them can tell no more, one hour after, of what existed at the time, than
one moment's rift in a drifting cloud reveals of the starlit heaven above.

What Captain Hector Coles really felt when first meeting that iron and
leaden storm so unlike the usual accompaniments of his "staff service," may
be guessed but can never be known. He rode on gallantly, at least for a
time: that was quite enough.

What the _ci-devant_ Horace Townsend experienced may be easily enough
indicated, and in one word--_madness_. He was stark, raving mad! The anger
felt a few moments before; the novelty of the position; the motion of a
horse that bore him nobly: the sword, that was no holiday weapon but a
thing of might and death, clasped by his unaccustomed but nervous hand; the
shouts of fierce bravery, the groans of anguish and the scream of missiles;
above all, the rousing for the first time of that human tiger which sleeps
within most of us until the fit moment of awakening comes--no witches'
cauldron on a blasted heath ever brewed such a mixture to craze a human
brain, as that he was so suddenly drinking; and it may be said that his
rational self knew nothing of what followed. He was riding on--it might
have been on horseback on the solid earth, in a fiery chariot through the
air, or on the crest of a storm-wave at sea--he could have formed no idea
which. When he came within striking distance of the foe, he was swinging
that heavy sword of Kilpatrick's, at something, everything, he knew not
what, that seemed to stand in his way. Nothing appeared to hurt him,
nothing to stop him or the gallant gray he rode. There was a red mist over
his eyes, and the thunder of twenty judgments rang in his ears: he knew no
more. He was mad, stark mad--so drunk with the wine of human blood and the
fiendish joy of battle, that the powers of heaven might have looked down in
pity on him as upon a new and better developed descendant of the original
Cain, smiting all his brothers to a death that could not satisfy the hot
thirst of his evil soul.

Only once he seemed to be for a moment clearly conscious. It was when they
rode full upon the battery, trampling down men and horses and sabring every
thing that had life, but under a fire which seemed to rain from the opened
windows of hell. He saw a man who had thus far kept at his side, recoil,
rein his horse backward, leap over the fallen friends and foes who barred
his flight, and dash down the track towards the bridge. He saw, and knew
Captain Hector Coles; and in his madness he had reason enough left to shout
"Aha! Coward! Coward!" and then the red mist closed again over his eyes and
he fought on. He did not see what followed before the flying man reached
the bridge--the fragment of a shell that struck him in the back and
literally tore him in pieces, horse and rider going down and lying stone
dead together.

He could not have told, under oath, who gave the command for that
supplemental charge upon the supporting force. And yet _his_ tongue uttered
it, and he was in the front, still waving his sword through the red mist
and letting it fall with demoniac force upon every thing that stood in his
way,--when the last hope of the rebels was thus broken. He had known but
little, most of the time: after that he knew literally nothing except that
his fierce joy had turned to pain. As if through miles of forest he heard
the notes of the bugles sounding the recall; and he had a dim consciousness
of hearing the soldiers speaking of him in words that would have given him
great pleasure had he been alive to appreciate them! Then he was back at
the bridge. Kilpatrick was there, somebody cheered, and the General held
out his hand to him. He tried to hand him back the sword that had done such
good service, said: "I have brought it--back--" and spoke no more. Then and
only then, as he fell from his blown and beaten gray, they knew that his
first charge had a likelihood of being his last--that a Minie bullet,
received so long before that some of the blood lay dried upon his coat,
had passed through him from breast to back,--thank God not from back to
breast!--so near the heart that even the surgeon could not say whether it
had touched or missed it!



CHAPTER XXIII.

     ONCE MORE AT WEST PHILADELPHIA--SEPTEMBER AND CHANGE--LAST
     GLIMPSES OF KITTY HOOD AND DICK COMPTON--ROBERT BRAND AND
     HIS INVITED GUEST--THE NEWS OF DEATH--OLD ESPETH GRAEME AS A
     SEERESS--THE DESPATCH FROM ALEXANDRIA--THE QUEST OF BRAND
     AND MARGARET HAYLEY.


Hurrying rapidly towards its close, this narration must become yet more
desultory and at times even more fragmentary, than it has been in the past.
The seven-league boots of story must be pulled on, however unwillingly, and
many a spot that would have been lingered lovingly over at the commencement
of the journey, cleared now with a glance and a bound. The few pages that
remain, in fact, may justify a change in the figure, appearing more like
lightning glimpses from railroad-car windows than connected and leisurely
views of the whole landscape of story.

September on West Philadelphia, where it seems but yesterday, though really
three months ago, that we saw the fair June morning and inhaled the perfume
of the sweet June roses. Those roses, the companions in life and death of
that with which Margaret Hayley was toying on the morning when she met the
crushing blow of her life,--had long since sighed out their last breath of
fragrance and faded away, to be followed now by the bright green leaves
amid which they had clustered and peeped and hidden. The waving grain
fields which had formed so pleasant a portion of the June landscape, were
changed as much, though less sadly. Bright golden wheat that had formed
part of it, lay heaped in the farmer's granaries; and puffed loaves with
crisp brown crust, made from that which had still further progressed in its
round of usefulness to man, lay on the baker's counter. There was short
stubble where the grain had waved, and over it the second growth of clover
was weaving its green mantle of concealment. In the peach orchards the
fruit hung ripe to tempt the fingers; the apples were growing more golden
amid the masses of leaves where they coyly sheltered themselves from the
sun; and on the garden trellises there already began to be dots of purple
among the amber green of the grape clusters. There was less of bright,
glossy green in the foliage--nature's summer coat had been some time worn
and began to give tokens of the rain and wind and sun it had encountered.
The birds sang in the branches, but their song seemed more staid and less
sprightly, as if they too had felt the passage of the months, grown older,
and could be playful children no more. Occasionally the long clarionet
chirp of a locust would break out and trill and die away upon the air,
telling of fading summer and the decline of life so sweetly and yet so
sadly that decay became almost a glory. The mellow, golden early afternoon
of the year, as June had been its late morning--not less beautiful,
perhaps, but oh how immeasurably less sprightly and bewitching--how much
more calm, sober and subduing!

Nature moves onward, and humanity seldom stands still, if it does not
outstrip the footsteps of the mother. Something of the changes that had
fallen during the preceding three months upon that widely varied group of
residents beyond the Schuylkill who have supplied characters to this
narration, is already known: what remains may be briefly told at this stage
and in the closing events soon to follow. Of those changes to Eleanor Hill,
Nathan Bladesden and Dr. Pomeroy, directly; of those to the members of the
Brand household, yet sooner; of those to two minor characters who will make
no further appearance upon the stage during this life-drama, at once. Let
that two be Dick Compton, farmer, and Kitty Hood, school-mistress. The
latter yet managed her brood of troublesome children, who still sailed
their vessels that had succeeded to the evanescent three-master "Snorter,
of Philadelphia," at playtime, in the little pond before the rural
school-house, and performed other juvenile operations by sea and shore; but
a great change had fallen upon the merry, self-willed little girl with the
brown eyes and the wavy brown hair. The school had a mistress, but that
mistress had a _master_--a sort of "power behind the throne" not seldom
managed by one sex or the other, towards all persons "in authority." No
bickerings at the school-house door, to be afterwards forgotten in
explanations and kisses, now. Richard Compton found his way there,
occasionally and perhaps oftener, but he always came in at once instead of
the school-mistress going out to meet him with a bashful down-casting of
the eyes and a pretty flush of modesty upon the cheek; and he made so
little concealment about the visits that he often managed them so as to
wait until school was dismissed and then walked all the way home with her!
If the young lovers yet had secrets, they found some other place than the
neighborhood of the school-house door, for their utterance. And the big
girls and the bigger boys, who used to enjoy such multitudes of sly gibes
at the school-mistress and her "beau," had lost all their material of
amusement. The very last attempt at jocularity in that direction had been
some time before effectually "squelched" by the dictum of the biggest boy
in school: "You boys, jest stop peeking at 'em! He ain't her beau no
more--he's her husband; and you jest let 'em do what they're a mind to!"

That is the fact, precisely--no less assured because approached with a
little necessary circumlocution. Dick Compton had come back from
Gettysburgh with the Reserves, unwounded and a hero. Carlton Brand was
gone, and the only object of jealousy removed. And before Kitty had quite
emerged from her "valley of humiliation" at the unfortunate slap and
unpatriotic upbraiding, she found it too late to emerge at all. The
wedding-day had been set and the marriage taken place, almost before she
had any idea that such things were in immediate contemplation! Kitty Hood
was "Mrs. Richard Compton," and that was the secret of the visits no longer
stolen and the unabashed walking home together. Not that the visits of the
young farmer to the school excited no commotion, now-a-days, but that the
commotion was of a different character. All the big boys and some of the
big girls hated him, as he strode up the aisle with his broad, hearty:
"'Most ready to go home, Kitty?" and his proprietary taking possession of
her with his eyes: hated him because he had to some extent come between her
and them, and because there was a rumor that "after November he was not
going to allow her to keep school any more." Perhaps there were good
reasons for this resolution, into which we shall certainly make no more
attempt to pry than was made by the big boys themselves! God's blessing on
the young couple, with as much content in the farm-house as can well fall
to the lot of a small indefinite number,--and with as few
misunderstandings, coldnesses and jealousies as may be deemed necessary by
the powers that preside over married life, to fit them for that life in
which "they neither marry nor are given in marriage!" And so exit Mr. and
Mrs. Richard Compton, for whom we have done all that the friend and the
minister could do, leaving Providence and the doctor to take care of the
remainder.

       *       *       *       *       *

That matter properly disposed of, it becomes necessary to visit the house
of Robert Brand once more, on the morning of Friday the eighteenth day of
September, after an absence from it of nearly the three months before
designated. Change here, too. Besides whatever might have been wrought in
the master of the house during that period, of which we shall be soon
advised, there had been a marked difference wrought in the relations
sustained by good, warm-hearted, sisterly, darling little Elsie. There had
been no return to the house, of the old family physician, first
expatriated, so to speak, by word of mouth, and then bull-dogged and
threatened with the protrusion of loaded muskets from convenient windows
and the application of the strong arms of old Elspeth Graeme who could
handle the bull-dog. The doctor's-bill had long before been settled, and
(let us put the whole truth upon record) spent! Then Robert Brand had been
again seized with terrible illness and suffering, rendering a physician
necessary; and what resource was left except the before-despised
professional services of Dr. James Holton? None whatever. So the old man
thought and so Elsie Brand _knew_. Result, Dr. James Holton had suddenly
found himself, in July, the medical adviser of the Brands, and the adviser,
mental, moral and medical, of Elsie. He had since so remained, seeming to
do marvels at re-establishing the shattered constitution of the invalid and
setting him once more on his natural feet, and with a pleasant prospect
that all the difficulties were smoothed out of the way of his eventual
union with Elsie, when a little more time and a little enlarged practice
should make their marriage advisable. And Elsie had grown almost happy once
more--quite happy in the regard of a good man whom she loved with all the
warmth of the big heart in her plump little body, and yet restless, nervous
and tearful when she thought of the brother cherished so dearly, of his
broken love, his alienated father, his absence in a strange land, and the
probability that she could never again lay her golden head upon his breast
and look up into his eyes as to the noblest and most godlike of them all.

At a little before noon on that September morning, a single figure was
moving slowly backward and forward, up and down, the length of the garden
walk in the rear of the house of Robert Brand, the trellises of the grapery
above and on either side, for nearly the whole distance, flecking the
autumn sunshine that fell on the walk and on the moving figure, while from
the vines themselves peeped the thick clusters of amber fruit upon which
the purple bloom was just beginning to throw a hint of October and luscious
ripeness. Late flowers bloomed in the walks and borders on either side;
occasionally a bird sent up its quiet and contented twitter from the top of
the vine where it was tasting a premature grape; a cicala's chirp rang
feebly out, swelled up to a volume that filled the whole garden, then died
away again, an indefinable feeling of stillness seeming to lie in the very
sound. The sunlight was golden, the sky perfectly cloudless, the air balmy
and indolent; beneath the trellis and beside the walk two long rustic
settees combined with the wooing air and beckoned to closed eyes,
day-dreams and repose; and yet the very opposite of repose was expressed in
the appearance and movement of that single figure.

It was that of Robert Brand, three months older than we saw him in the
early summer, far less an invalid than he had been at that time, as
evidenced by the absence of his swathed limb and supporting cane, yet more
broken within that period than most men break in ten twelvemonths--more
than he had himself broken before in the same period of his severest years
of bodily suffering. Something of the iron expression of the mouth was
gone, and in its place were furrowed lines of suffering that the torture of
the body could scarcely have imprinted there without the corresponding
agony of the mind; he was more stooped in the shoulders than he had been
when before observed; and down the side-hair that showed from beneath his
broad hat--hair that had been fast but evenly changing from gray to white,
there now lay great streaks of finger thickness, white as the driven snow
and in painful contrast with the other,--such streaks as are not often made
in hair or beard except by the pressure of terrible want, a great sorrow,
or a month of California fever. This was not all--he walked with head
dejectedly bent, and hands beneath the skirts of his coat; and when he
glanced up for a moment it could be seen that his lip trembled and the eye
had a sad, troubled expression that might have told of tears past, tears
to come, or a feeling far too absorbing for either. Alas!--the old man was
indeed suffering. The shame of a life had been followed by its sorrow. He
had erred terribly in meeting the one, and paid the after penalty: how
could he muster fortitude enough to meet the other?

To him old Elspeth Graeme, large-faced, massive-framed, and powerful
looking as of old, with a countenance no more changed during the preceding
three months than a granite boulder in the mountains might have been
affected by a little wind and storm during the same lapse of time. Behind
her Carlo, who since the disappearance of his young master seemed to have
found no one else except the old Scottish woman who could pretend to
exercise any control over him, and who consequently had attached himself to
her almost exclusively. The master, who was making one of his turns up the
walk, saw her as she emerged from the house, and met her as she approached,
with inquiry in face and voice.

"Well?"

"Stephen has just come ben with the carriage, and the leddy is in the
house, though the Laird kens what ye'r wantin' of her here, ava!"

"Hold your tongue, woman! When I need your opinion I will ask you for it!"
This in a tone very much like that of the Robert Brand of old, in little
squabbles of the same character. Then with the voice much softened: "Is
Margaret Hayley in the house, do you say?"

"'Deed she is, then, and she'll just be tired of waiting for ye, as the
lassie's gone, gin ye dinna haste a bit!"

"I will come--no, ask her to step into the garden; I will see her here."

"He's gettin' dafter than ever, I'm thinkin', to invite a born leddy out
into the garden to see _him_, instead of ganging in till her as he should!"
muttered the old serving-woman as she turned away to obey the injunction,
and in that way satisfying, for the time, her part of the inevitable
quarrel. The moment after the back door of the house opened again, and
Margaret Hayley came out alone. Stately as ever in step, though perhaps a
little slower; the charm of youth and budding womanhood in face and figure,
with the broad sun flashing on her dark hair and seeming to crown her with
a dusky glory; but something calmer, softer, sadder, ay, even older,
visible in her whole appearance and manner, than could have been read there
in that first morning of June, upon the piazza of her own house. She, too,
had been living much within a brief period: it may be that the course of
this narration has furnished the reader with better data for judging _how_
much, than any that lay in the possession of Robert Brand.

She approached the end of the arbor from which he was emerging, and he met
her before she had reached it. Her face, as they met, wore an unmistakable
expression of wonder--his an equally unmistakable one of pain. Neither
spoke for one moment, then the old lawyer held out his hand and said:

"You wonder, Margaret, why I sent for you?"

"Did _you_ send, really, Mr. Brand? I thought that perhaps Stephen had made
a mistake and that Elsie wished to see me for some reason."

"No, Elsie has been absent all the morning, and may not return for an hour
or two yet," was the reply. "_I_ sent for you. I had a reason. Old men do
not trifle with young women, perhaps you are aware." There was that in his
voice which displayed strong suffering and even an effort to speak. The
young girl saw and heard, and the wonder in her eyes deepened into anxiety
as she said:

"You surprise me by something in your manner, Mr. Brand. You almost alarm
me. Pray do not keep me in suspense. I think I am not so well able to bear
anxiety and mystery as I used to be. Why did you send for me?"

"Poor girl!" the lips of Robert Brand muttered, so low that she did not
catch the words. Much less did she hear the two words that followed, in
little more than a whispered groan: "Poor girl!--poor father!" Then he
took one of the white hands in his, the eyes of the young girl deepening in
wonder and anxiety all the while,--led her a little down the path to one of
the rustic seats under the trellis, dropped down upon it and drew her down
beside him, uttering a sigh, as he took his seat, like that of a person
over-fatigued.

"You loved my son." He did not look at her as he spoke the words.

"Mr. Brand--I beg of you--" and then Margaret Hayley paused, her throat
absolutely choked with that to which she could not give utterance. He did
not seem to heed her, but went on.

"You loved my son. So did I. God knows how _I_ loved him, and I believe
that your love was as true as heaven."

"Mr. Brand--for that heaven's sake, why do you say this, to kill us both? I
cannot listen--" she rose from the seat with a start and stood before him
as if ready to fly; but he yet retained her hand and drew her down again.

"We both loved him, and yet we killed him! You drove him from you. I cast
him off and cursed him. We killed him. He is dead!"

"Dead?" The word was not a question--it was not an exclamation--it was not
a cry of mortal agony--it was all three blended. Then she uttered no other
word but sat as one stupefied, while he went on, his lip quivering with
that most painful expression which has before been noticed, and his hand
fumbling at his pocket for something that he seemed to wish to extract from
it.

"Yes, he is dead. I have known it for two hours--for two long hours I have
known that I had _no son_." Type cannot indicate the melancholy fall of the
last two words, and the heart-broken feeling they conveyed. "My son loved
you, Margaret Hayley, better than he loved his old father. You loved him.
You should have been his wife. When I knew that he was dead, I tried to
conceal it from all until I could send for you, for I felt that it was only
here and from my lips that you should learn the truth. Some other might
have told you with less thought for your feelings, perhaps, than I
who--who--who was so proud of him. I have not been rough, have I? I did not
mean to be--I meant to be very gentle, to _you_, Margaret! See how broken I
am!"

So he was, poor old man!--broken in heart and voice, for then he gave way
and dropped his head upon one of his failing hands, overpowered, helpless,
little more than a child.

Who shall describe the feelings of Margaret Hayley as she heard the words
which told her of that one bereavement beyond hope--as she heard them in
those piteous tones and from that agonized father--a father no more?
Absence, silence, shame, separation of heart from heart upon earth, hope
against hope and fear without a name--all were closed and finished at once
and forever, in that one great earthquake of fact, opening and swallowing
her world of thought--dead! Tears had not yet come--the blind agony that
precedes them if it does not render them impossible, was just then her
terrible portion.

"How did he--when--where--you have not told me--" A child just learning to
speak might have been making that feeble attempt at asking a connected
question. But Robert Brand understood her, too well. His hand, again
fumbling at his pocket, brought out that of which it had been in search,
and his trembling fingers half opened a newspaper and put it into hers, to
blast her sense with that greater certainty which seems to dwell in written
or printed intelligence than in the mere utterance of the lips--to destroy
the last lingering hope that might have remained and put the very dying
scene before the eyes so little fitted to look upon it. A line of ink was
drawn around part of one of the columns uppermost, and the reader had not
even the painful respite of looking to find what she dreaded. And of course
that paper was a copy of the _Dublin Evening Mail_, sent to Robert Brand by
one of his distant relatives in England who had chanced to see what it
contained--the graphic account of the drowning of Carlton Brand from the
deck of the despatch-steamer, of the finding of the body and the burial in
the little graveyard back of the Hill of Howth, written by that attached
friend of a night, Henry Fitzmaurice.

Margaret Hayley read through that account, every word of which seemed to
exhaust one more drop from the life-blood at her heart,--in stony silence
and without a motion that could have been perceived. Then the paper slid
from her hands to the ground, she turned her head towards Robert Brand with
that slow and undecided motion so sad to see because it indicates a
palsying of the quick natural energies; and the instant after, that took
place which told, better than any other action could have done, how much
each had built upon that foundation of an expected near and dear
relationship. Robert Brand met that hopeless gaze, reading her whole secret
even as his own was being read. Then he opened his arms with a cry that was
almost a scream: "My daughter!" and the poor girl fell into them and flung
her own around his neck with the answering cry: "Father!" Both were sobbing
then; both had found the relief of tears. And a sadder spectacle was never
presented; for while Margaret Hayley, in the father of the man she had so
loved, was striving to embrace something of the dead form that never could
be embraced in reality, Robert Brand was still more truly clasping a
shadow--trying to find his lost son who could never come to his arms again,
in the thing which had been dearest to that son while in life!

"My son is dead! Come to me; live with me; be a sister to Elsie and a
daughter to me, or I shall never be able to bear my punishment!" sobbed the
broken old man, his arms still around the pliant form bowed upon his
shoulder; but there came no answer, as there needed none. Another voice
blended with those that had before spoken, at that moment, and again old
Elspeth Graeme stood under the trellis. But was it said a little while
since that no change had come upon her since the fading of the roses of
June?--certainly there had been a change startling and fearful to
contemplate, even in the few moments elapsing since her former speech with
her master. The rough, coarse face had assumed an expression in which
bitter sorrow was contending with terrible anger; the bluish gray eyes
literally blazed with such light as might have filled those of a tigress
robbed of her young; and it would have needed no violent stretch of fancy
to believe that she had revived one of the old traditions of her Gaelic
race and become a mad prophetess of wrath and denunciation. Strangely
enough, too, Carlo was again behind her, his eyes glaring upon the two
figures that occupied the bench, and his heavy tail moving with that slow
threatening motion which precedes the spring of the beast of prey! Was old
Elspeth Graeme indeed a wierd woman, and had the brute changed to be her
familiar and avenging spirit?

The serving-woman held something white in her hand, but neither Robert
Brand nor his visitor saw it. They but saw the tall form and the face
convulsed with wild feeling; and both seemed to shrink before a presence
mightier than themselves. The strange servitor spoke:

"Robert Brand, tell me gin I heard aright! Did ye say that Carlton Brand
was dead?"

"Who called you here, woman? Yes, he is dead! He was drowned on the Irish
coast three weeks ago," answered the bereaved father, oddly blending the
harsh authority of the master with the feeling which really compelled him
to make response.

"Then ye had better baith be dead wi' him--the father who banned his ain
flesh and bluid and wished that he would dee before his very eyne, and the
fause woman who had nae mair heart than to drive him frae her like a dog!"

"Woman!" broke out the master, but the interruption did not check her for
an instant. She went on, broadening yet more in her native dialect as she
grew yet more earnest:

"Nae, ye must e'en bide my wull and tak' it, Robert Brand! It has been
waiting here for mony a day, and I can haud it nae longer! He was my braw,
bonnie lad, and puir auld Elsie loed him better than ye a'! I harkit till
ye, Robert Brand, when yer curse went blawin' through the biggin like an
east win', and I ken'd ye was sawin a fuff to reap a swirl! Ye must ban and
dom yer ain bluid because it wad na fecht, drivin' the bairn awa frae kin
and kintra, and noo ye hae _my_ curse to stay wi ye, sleepin' and
wakin'--ye an' the fause beauty there that helpit ye work his dool!"

"Elspeth Graeme, if you say another word to insult Miss Hayley and outrage
me, I will forget that you are a woman and choke you where you stand!"
cried Robert Brand, no longer able to restrain himself, starting to his
feet and drawing Margaret to the same position, with his arm around her
waist. But the old woman did not flinch, or pause long in her denunciation.

"Nae, ye'll do naething of the kind, Robert Brand!--ye'll tak what must
come till ye!" And indeed it looked as if the great dog behind her would
have sprung at the throat of even the master if he had dared to lay hands
on his strange servitor. "Ye'll tak the curse, baith o' ye, and ye'll groan
under it until the day ye dee! Gin Carlton Brand is dead, ye murdered him,
and his eldritch ghaist shall come back and haunt ye, by night and by day,
in the mist o' the mountain and the crowd o' the street, till yer blastit
under it and think auld Hornie has grippet ye by the hearts! Ye'll sing
dool belyve, baith of ye! Auld Elsie tells ye so, and slight her if ye
daur!"

Before these last words were spoken, Margaret Hayley had slipped from the
grasp of the old man and was on her knees upon the ground, her proud spirit
fairly broken, her hands raised in piteous entreaty, and her lips uttering
feebly:

"Oh, we have both wronged him--I know it now. But spare me, good Elspeth,
now when my heart is broken; and spare _him_!"

But Robert Brand, as was only natural--Robert Brand, feeble as he was,
viewed the matter in a somewhat different light. Sorrow might have
softened him, but it had by no means entirely cured his temper; and the
serving-woman had certainly gone to such lengths in her freedom as might
have provoked a saint to something very much like anger. He grasped
Margaret from her kneeling position, apparently forgetting pain and
weakness,--set her upon the seat and poured out a volley of sound, strong
plain-English curses upon the old woman, that had no difficulty whatever in
being understood. Dog or no dog, it seemed probable that he might even have
given vent to his rage in a more forcible manner, when another interruption
occurred which somewhat changed the posture of affairs.

Elsie Brand came out from the house, hat upon head, and dressed as for a
ride. She had been taking one, in fact, with Dr. James Holton, who had
driven her over for a call upon one of her friends; and she looked radiant
enough to proclaim the truth that she had just left very pleasant company.
Her plump little form as tempting and Hebe-ish as ever; her bright yellow
hair a little "touzled" (it could not be possible that those people had
been laying their heads too near together in the carriage as they came
across the wood road!); and her blue eyes one flash of pleasure that had
forgotten all the pain and sorrow in the world,--she was a strange element,
just then, to infuse into the blending of griefs within that garden. She
came out with hasty step, calling to Elspeth.

"Elspeth! Elspeth! What keeps you so long? The boy is waiting to know if
father has any answer." Then seeing the others: "What, Margaret here with
father? How do you do, Margaret?" It was notable how the voice fell slowed
and softened, in speaking the last five words, and how the light went out
from her young eyes as she spoke. Though friends always, Margaret Hayley
and Elsie Brand had never been the same as before to each other, since that
painful June morning on the piazza. How could they be? But Margaret was
softened now, and she said, "Dear Elsie!" took the little girl in her arms
and kissed her, so that something of the past seemed to have returned.

But meanwhile another incident of importance was occurring. It may have
been noticed that Elspeth Graeme had something white in her hand when she
came out into the garden the second time. So she had, indeed--a folded note
addressed to Robert Brand, and with a wilderness of printing scattered over
the edges and half the face of the envelope; but she had quite forgotten
the fact in the sudden knowledge of the death of her young master and the
necessity of becoming an avenging Pythoness for the occasion. Now, Elsie's
words called the attention of the old lawyer to that something in her hand,
and he took it from her with a motion very much like a jerk, and the words:

"If you have a letter for me, why did you not give it to me instead of
standing here raving like a bedlamite--you old fool?"

"It is na a letter; it's what they ca' a telegraph, I'm thinkin'!" muttered
the old woman, a good deal taken down from her "high horse" by this
reminder of her delinquency, and with some sort of impression that this
must be a sufficient apology for not being in a hurry. "Somebody else dead,
belike!--we're a' goin' to the deevil as fast as auld Clootie can drag us,
I ken!"

It _was_ a telegraphic despatch which the old woman had delivered with such
signal celerity, and which Robert Brand tore open with celerity of a very
different character. He read, then read again, then his face paled, and a
strange, startled look came into his eyes, and he put one hand to his
forehead with the exclamation:

"What _is_ all this? Am I going mad?"

"What _is_ it, father?" and little Elsie pressed up to his side and took
the despatch from his unresisting fingers. And it was she who read it aloud
to the other wonderers, herself the most startled wonderer of all:

                            ALEXANDRIA, _Sept. 17th, 1863_.

     _Robert Brand, West Philadelphia_,

     _Care Messrs. ----, No. -- Market St. Philadelphia_.

     Your son, Carlton Brand, dangerously wounded at Culpeper.
     Lying in hospital here. If well enough, wish you would come
     down and see him. He does not know of this.

                                                   E. H.

"Well, I'll be----!"

It was a plump, round oath that Robert Brand uttered--very improper under
any circumstances, and especially so in the presence of ladies,--but about
as natural, when all things are considered, as the air he breathed. In
order to realize the exact position and the blind astonishment that must
have lain in that telegraphic despatch, it is necessary to remember that
once before he had heard of the death of the young man, from one who had
just seen his lifeless body (Kitty Hood), and that only two hours
afterwards his house had been visited by the enraged Dr. Pomeroy to reclaim
a girl that the man just before dead was alleged to have stolen! Now, only
an hour or two before, he had a second time been informed of his son's
death at sea, and burial in Ireland, under such circumstances that mistake
seemed to be impossible; and yet here was a telegraphic despatch quite as
likely to be authentic if not originating in some unfeeling hoax--informing
him that he had been nearly killed in battle, and was lying in one of the
Virginia hospitals! At short intervals the young man seemed to die, in
different places, and then immediately after to be alive again in other
places, under aspects scarcely less painful and yet more embarrassing.
There was certainly enough in all this to make the old man's brain whirl,
and to overspread the faces of the others with such blank astonishment that
they seemed to be little else than demented. There was one, however, not
puzzled one whit. That was old Elspeth, who muttered, loudly enough for
them all to hear, as she abandoned them to their fate, resigned her
temporary position as seeress, and went back to the mundane duties of
house-keeping:

"It's not the bairn's ainsel at all that's lying down amang the naygurs
where they're fechting. It is his double that's come bock frae the auld
land to haunt ye! Come awa, Carlo, lad, and let them mak much of it!"

There is no need to recapitulate all that followed between the three
remaining people, surprised in such different degrees--the words in which
little Elsie was made to understand the first intelligence, followed by her
reading of the whole account in the Irish paper--the hopes, fears, fancies
and wild surmises which swept through the brains and hearts of each--the
thoughts of Robert Brand over the initials appended to the telegraphic
despatch, which for some reason made him much more confident of its
authenticity than he would otherwise have been, while they embarrassed him
terribly in another direction which may or may not be guessed--the weaving
together of three minds that had been more or less separated by conflicting
feelings with reference to that very person, into one grand total and
aggregate of anxiety which dwarfed all other considerations and made the
whole outside world a blank and a nothing in comparison. All this may be
imagined: until the perfecting of that invention by which the kaleidoscope
is to be photographed in the moment of its revolution, it cannot be set in
words. But the result may and must be given.

"I shall go to Washington by the train, to-night," said Robert Brand, when
the discussion had reached a certain point, with the mystery thicker than
ever and the anxiety proportionately increasing.

"You, father? Are you well enough to go?" and little Elsie looked at him
with gratified and yet fearful surprise.

"No matter, I am going!" That was enough, and Elsie knew it. Within the
last half hour much of his old self seemed to have returned; and when he
assumed that tone, life granted, he would go as inevitably as the
locomotive.

"I am glad to hear you say so, Mr. Brand--father!" said Margaret Hayley,
very calmly. "It will make it much better, no doubt, for _I_ am going."

"You!" This time there were two voices that uttered the word of surprise.

"Yes, _I_! If Carlton Brand is lying wounded in a Virginia hospital, I know
my duty; and if I must miss _that_, to _him_, or Heaven, henceforward, I
shall be among the lost!" Strange, wild, mad words; but how much they
conveyed!

"God bless you, _my daughter_!" "My dear, dear _sister_!" And somehow three
people managed to be included in one embrace immediately after. This was
all, worth recording, that the grape trellis saw.

That evening when the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore train left
Broad and Prime, it bore Robert Brand and Margaret Hayley, going southward
on that singular quest which might end in so sad and final a
disappointment.



CHAPTER XXIV.

     IN THE HOSPITAL AT ALEXANDRIA--THE WOUNDED MAN AND HIS
     NURSE--SAD OMENS--A REUNION OF THREE--BRAVE MAN OR
     COWARD?--WHO WAS HORACE TOWNSEND?--A MYSTERY EXPLAINED--HOW
     ELEANOR HILL WENT BACK TO DR. POMEROY'S--ONE WORD MORE OF
     THE COMANCHE RIDER--CONCLUSION.


Glimpses now, only glimpses--with great breaks between, which the
imagination may fill at pleasure. Events, few in number, not less strange,
perhaps, than those which have already occurred, but less enwrapped in
mystery, and gradually shaping themselves towards the inevitable end.

The military hospital at Alexandria. Outside, dingy and yet imposing, fit
type of the State that held it, in the days before secession was any thing
more than a crime in thought. Within, a wilderness of low-ceilinged rooms,
comfortable enough but all more or less dingy like the exterior. Nine out
of ten of them filled with cot-bedsteads arranged in long rows with aisles
between; sacred at once to two of the most incongruous exhibitions of human
propensity--the blood-thirsty cruelty which can kill and maim,--the angelic
kindness which can make a dear child or brother out of the merest stranger
and bind up the hurts of a rough, hard-handed, blaspheming ruffian, of
blood unknown and lineage uncared for, with all that tender care which
could be bestowed upon the gentlest and loveliest daughter of a pampered
race when sick or disabled. One of the many places scattered over the loyal
States and many portions of the disloyal, made terrible to recollection by
the suffering that has been endured within them and the lives that have
gone out as a sacrifice to the Moloch of destructive war,--but made holy
beyond all conception, at the same time, by the patriotic bravery with
which many of their lives have been surrendered to the great Giver for a
glorious cause; by the patience with which agony has been endured and
almost reckoned as pleasure for the nation's sake; and by the footsteps of
the nobler men and if possible still nobler women of America, who have
given up ease and comfort and domestic happiness and health and even life
itself, to minister to those stricken down in the long conflict.

No need to draw the picture: nothing of war or its sad consequences remains
a mystery in this age and to this people. Too many eyes have looked upon
the wards of our hospitals, the forms stretched there in waiting for death
or recovery, the figures moving around and among them in such ministration
as the Good Samaritan may have bestowed upon the bruised and beaten Jew of
the parable;--too many ears have listened to the moans of suffering rising
up continually like a long complaint to heaven, the sharp screams of agony
under temporary pang or fearful operation, the words of content under any
lot, blending like an undertone with all, and the words of prayer and
Christian dependence crowning and hallowing all;--too many of the men of
this time have seen and heard these things, and too many more may yet have
the duty of looking upon them and listening to them, to make either wise or
necessary the closer limning of the picture that might otherwise be
presented. We have to do with but a little corner of the great building
that had been made so useful in the care of the sick and wounded, just as
this narration holds involved the interests of a poor half-dozen among the
many millions affected by the colossal struggle.

A small room, on the second floor of the building, the walls once white and
even now scrupulously clean but dingy from smoke and use. Two windows in
it, opening to the west, the tops shaded by paper curtains with muslin
inside, while at the bottoms streamed in the soft September afternoon
sunlight that lay like a glory over the Virginian woods, so fair to the eye
but so foul and treacherous within, stretching away towards the bannered
clouds before many hours to shroud the setting of the great luminary. Not
one of the common rooms in which, perforce from their number, sick and
wounded soldiers must be more or less closely huddled together,--but one
devoted to the care of wounded officers, with four beds of iron, neatly
made and draped, and at this time only one of them occupied.

We have more than once before had occasion to notice the occupant of that
one bed near the head of the room, with a stream of sunshine pouring in at
the window and flooding the whole foot. We have before had occasion to
remark that tall, slight but sinewy form distending the thin covering as it
settled to his shape. Something of his appearance we have _not_ seen
before--the head of hair of an indescribable mixture, half pale gold or
light blonde and the other or outer half dark brown or black, scarcely
seeming to belong to the same growth unless produced by some mad freak of
nature. Nor have we before remarked the splendidly-chiselled face so pale
and wan, the life-fluids seeming to be exhausted beneath the skin, from
loss of blood and severe suffering. Nor yet that other anomaly--a moustache
with the outer ends very dark, almost black, strangely relieved by a crop
of light brown beard starting thick and short, like stubble, on the chin.
Like this picture in some regards, unlike it in others, the occupant of
that bed has before presented, as at this moment, an anomaly equally
interesting and puzzling. Wherever and whenever seen, at earlier periods,
the last time he met the gaze he was dropping from his horse, a bullet
through the body just above the heart, a red sword slipping from his hand
and insensibility succeeding to delirium, near the railroad-bridge and the
captured rebel battery at Culpeper.

The wounded man lay with his eyes closed and seemed to be in sleep. Beside
the bed on a low stool and partially resting against it, was one who slept
not--a woman. One elbow resting on the bed-clothes supporting her head, and
the other hand holding a book in which she was reading. This was evidently
the nurse, and yet scarcely an ordinary nurse charged with the care of all
patients, or she could not have afforded the time for watching one
convalescent while he slept. She, too, may have been seen before; for
something there was in that tall and lithe form, that mass of rich silky
brown hair, that face with its mournful eyes and painfully delicate
features--something that, once seen, lingered like a sweet, sad dream in
the gazer's memory. And yet here, too, if there was an identity, change had
been very busy. The form had always been lithe--it was now thin to
fragility; the hands had always been taper and delicate--now they were
fleshless almost to emaciation; the face had always conveyed the thought of
gentleness, helplessness and needful protection--now it seemed less
helpless but more mournful, the cheeks a little sunken, and the red spot
burning in the centre of either not a close enough semblance of ruddy
health to deceive an eye quickened by affectionate anxiety. She was dying,
perhaps slowly, it might be rapidly, but dying beyond a peradventure, with
that friend or foe which has ushered more human beings into the presence of
God than any other disease swayed as an agency by the great
destroyer--consumption!

A few moments of silence, unbroken by any sound within the room except the
thick breathing of the sleeper: then the girl who sat at his side choked a
moment, seemed to make violent efforts to control the coming spasm, but at
last yielded, clapped both hands to her left side just above her heart, and
broke into one of those terrible fits of coughing which tear away the
system as the earthquake rives the solid ground, and which are almost as
hard to hear as to endure. Instantly, as the spasm relaxed, she hurriedly
drew a white handkerchief from the pocket of her dark dress and wiped her
lips. It was replaced so suddenly that the awakened sleeper did not see
what stained it--blood, mingled frightfully with the clear white foam.

The eyes of the wounded man opened; and there was something more of himself
that came back in the light of their warm hazel, only a little dimmed by
suffering, and in the play of all the muscles of the face when awake. Both
hands lay outside the bed-clothing; and as she saw the opening of his eyes
the girl stretched out her own and took one of them with such gentleness
and devotion as was most beautiful to behold. She seemed to be touching
flesh that she held to be better than her own--a suggestive rarity in this
arrogant world! Something that man had been to her, or something he had
done for her, beyond a doubt, which made him the object of a feeling almost
too near to idolatry. And yet what had he given her, to win so much? Not
wealth--not love: merely true friendship, respect when others despised, and
a little aid towards rescue when others turned away or labored to produce
final ruin! How easily heaven may be scaled--the heaven of love and
devotion if no height beyond,--by that consideration which costs so little,
by that kindness which should be a duty if it even brought no recompense!

"There--I have woke you! I am so sorry!" she said, as she met his eyes and
touched his hand.

"What consequence, if you have?" was his reply, in a voice low and
somewhat feeble, while his thin hand made some poor attempt at returning
her kind pressure. "Ever generous, Eleanor--ever thinking of others and not
of yourself! They make angels of such people as you--do you know it?"

"Angels? oh, my God, have I lived to hear that word applied to _me_?" Such
was the answer, and the mournful eyes went reverently upward as she invoked
the one holy Name.

"Angels? yes, why not?" said the invalid. "Every light-tongued lover calls
his mistress by that name sometime or other, and--"

"Hush, Carlton Brand, hush!"

Some painful chord was touched, and he appeared to understand, as well he
might, by what word with two meanings he had lacerated a feeling. He went
back to what he had evidently intended to say at first.

"You do not think of yourself, I say. You have been coughing again."

"A little."

"A little? Loudly enough to wake me, and I am a sound sleeper. Eleanor
Hill, you are nursing me, when you more need a nurse yourself. I am almost
well, you know. You are growing thinner and your cough is worse every day."

"No, Carlton, better--much better!"

"Are you sure? Stop, let me see your handkerchief!" He was looking her
steadily in the face, and she obeyed him as if in spite of her own will and
because she had always been in the habit of doing so.

"I thought so," he said. "Eleanor, you are very ill. Do not deceive
yourself or try to deceive _me_."

"Carlton Brand," she answered, returning that look, full in the eyes, and
speaking slowly--calmly--firmly. "I am dying, and no one knows the fact
better than myself. Thank God that the end is coming!"

"Oh no, you are very ill, but not beyond hope--not dying," he attempted to
urge as some modification of the startling confession she had made.

"Yes--the whole truth may as well be told now, Carlton, since we have begun
it. I am dying of consumption, and I hope and believe that I shall have but
few more days left after you get well enough to leave this hospital."

"Heavens!" exclaimed the wounded man. "If this is true, do you know what
you are making of me? Little else than a murderer! I meant it for the
best--the best for the country and yourself, when I took you away from the
house of your--of Philip Pomeroy, and sent you into this new path of life;
but the sleepless hours and over-exertion, the exposures to foul air and
draughts and anxiety to which you have been subjected--oh, Eleanor, is
_this_ what I have done?"

She slid from her chair and kneeled close beside the bed, bending over
towards him with the most affectionate interest.

"Oh no," she said, no agitation in her voice. "Do you think that three
months has done this? My family are all consumptive--my father died of the
disease. What was done to _me_"--her voice faltered for just one moment,
then she calmed it again by an obvious effort--"What was done to _me_, was
done long before and by another hand."

"Stop!" he interrupted her as she was evidently about to proceed. "I _must_
say one word about _him_. Did you ever know all the reason why each of us
feared and hated the other so much?"

Merely a sad shake of the head was the negative.

"I will tell you, now. I was a coward, and he knew it. You knew so much
before, but nothing else, I believe. He was present once when I fainted at
the very sight of blood--something that I believe I always used to do; and
he knew of my refusing a challenge because I really dared not fight. He
could expose and ruin me, and I feared him. I knew him to be a scoundrel in
money affairs as well as in every other way: as a lawyer I could put my
finger on a great crime that he had committed to win a large part of his
fortune. He knew that I knew it, and that I would have exposed him if I
dared. So he feared and hated _me_, and each held the other in check
without doing more. It is time that you should know that crime: it was his
robbing you of every dollar left you by your father, and putting them all
into his own pocket, through the pretended machinery of that Dunderhaven
Coal and Mining Company, of which he was President, Director and all the
officers!"

"Carlton! Carlton! can this be true, even of _him_?" asked the young girl,
horrified at this crowning proof of a depravity beyond conception and yet
not beyond _fact_.

"It is true, every word of it, and if I had not been a wretch unfit to
live, I would have exposed and punished him long ago. Lately I think I must
have gone through what they call 'baptizing in fire,' and the very day I am
able to crawl once more to Dr. Pomeroy's house, I shall force him to meet
me in a duel or shoot him down like a dog!"

"This from _you_, Carlton Brand!" The tone was very piteous.

"Yes--why not?" The tone was hard and decided, for a sick man.

"May heaven forgive you the thought. Now listen to me. You have been the
dearest friend I ever had in the world. You have been better and truer to
me than any brother; and you have done me the greatest of all favors by
sending me here to nurse the sick and wounded, to win back something of my
lost self-respect and close up a wasted life with a little usefulness
before I die! But after all this I shall almost hate you--I shall not be
able, I am afraid, to pray for you in that land I am so soon going to
visit,--if you do not make me one solemn promise and keep it as you would
save your own soul."

There was an agonized earnest in her words and in her manner, as she thus
spoke, kneeling there and even clasping her hands in entreaty. Carlton
Brand looked at her for one instant with a great pity; then he said:

"Eleanor Hill, if the promise is one that a man can make and a man can
keep, I will make it and keep it!"

"Then promise me neither in word nor act to harm Philip Pomeroy. Leave him
to _me_."

"To _you_, poor girl?"

"To _me_! _I_ will so punish him as no man was ever punished."

"_You_ punish him? _You_, feeble and dying? How?"

"By going back to his house--if they will obey my last wish when the hour
comes,--_dead_."

"That _will_ be punishment enough, perhaps, even for _him_, if he is
human!" slowly said the invalid as he took in the thought. "I promise."

"God bless you!" and poor Eleanor Hill fell forward on the bed and burst
into sobs that ended the moment after in a fit of still more violent
coughing than that which had racked her half an hour previously. And this
did not end like the other, but deepened and grew more hoarse until the
white froth flew from the suffering lips, followed by a gush of blood that
not only dyed the foam but spattered the bed-covering.

"Heavens! see how you are bleeding, my poor girl! You must have help at
once!" The face of the speaker, deadly pale and sorely agitated, told how
bad a nurse was this choking, dying girl, in his enfeebled condition, with
a terrible wound scarcely yet commenced healing.

"No, I do not need help--I shall be better in a moment. But I agitate
_you_, and I will go away until I have stopped coughing."

Which would be, Carlton Brand thought, perhaps a few moments before she
went into that holy presence from which the most betrayed and down-trodden
may not be debarred! Ever weakly-loving--ever thoughtless of her own
welfare and childishly subservient to the good of others--lacking
self-assertion, but never wantonly sinful,--had not that strange thinker,
yet under the influence of the fever of his wound, some right to remember
Mary's tears, and the blessing to the "poor in heart," promised in the
Sermon on the Mount?

But there was real danger to the invalid in this agitation, and the will
of another stepped in to remove the danger. Before the poor girl had quite
ceased coughing, one of the physicians of the hospital, a gray-haired,
benevolent-looking man, stood by the bedside and touched her upon the
shoulder.

"Coughing again, and so terribly! What, blood? Fie, fie!--this will never
do!" he said. "If the sick nurse the sick, both fare badly, you know. If
the scripture doesn't say so, it ought to. You must go away to Mrs.
Waldron, Nellie, and keep quiet and not stir out again to-day."

"Yes, Doctor," she answered, rising obediently. "Good-night, Carlton!" She
stooped and pressed her lips to the thin hand so touchingly that the
doctor, who could scarcely even guess the past relation between the two,
almost felt the tears rising as he looked.

"Good-night, and God bless you, Eleanor."

The doctor's eyes followed her as with slow, weak steps she passed out of
the room, her pale, mournful face with its hectic cheeks and sad eyes
looking back to the bed for an instant as she disappeared. Then he turned
away with a sigh--such a sigh of helpless sorrow as he had no doubt often
heaved over the living illustrations of those two heart-breaking
words--"fading away."

"I am sorry she was here," he said, when she had gone. "I am afraid that
she has used up strength that you needed. There are visitors to see you."

"To see _me_?"

"Yes--now keep as cool as possible, or I will send them away again. I hate
mysteries and surprises; but poor Eleanor does not, and she sent for them,
I believe."

"She sent for them? She? Then they are--"

"Keep still, or I will tell you no more--they are two from whom you have
been estranged, I think--your father and--"

"My sister?"

"No, the lady is not your sister, I think. She is tall, dark-haired, very
beautiful and very queenly. Is that your sister?"

"No--no--that is not my sister--that is--heavens, can this be possible, or
am I dreaming? Doctor, this agitation is hurting me worse than any presence
could do. Send them in and trust me. I will be quiet--I will husband my
life, for if I am not mad and you are not trifling, there may yet be
something in the world worth living for."

The doctor laid his hand on the pulse of his patient, looked for a moment
into his face, and then left the room. The next, two stepped within it--an
old man with gray hair rapidly changing to silver, and a woman in the very
bloom of youth and beauty. The eyes of the wounded man were closed. What
was he doing?--collecting strength, or looking for it where it ever abides?
No matter. Only one instant more, and then the two were on their knees by
the bedside, where Eleanor Hill had just been kneeling--the father with the
thin hand in his and murmuring: "Carlton! my brave, my noble son!" and
Margaret Hayley leaning far over the low couch and saying a thousand times
more in one long, tender, clinging kiss, light as a snow-flake but loving
and warm as the touch of the tropic sun,--that shunned cheek and brow and
laid its blessing on the answering lips!

Some of the words of that meeting are too sacred to be given: let them be
imagined with the pressure of hands and the hungry glances of eyes that
could not look enough in any space of time allotted them. But there were
others, following close after, which may and must be given. Whole volumes
had been spoken in a few words, and yet the book was scarcely opened,--when
Margaret Hayley rose from her knees and bending over the bed ran those
dainty white fingers through the strangely mottled hair on the brow of the
invalid. Then she seemed to discover something incongruous in different
portions of the face; and the moment after, stooping still closer down, she
swept away the hair from the brow and scanned the texture of the skin at
its edge. A long, narrow scar, its white gloss just relieved on the pallid
flesh, crossed the forehead from the left temple to the centre of its apex.
She seemed surprised and even frightened; then a look of mingled shame and
pleasure broke over that glorious face, and she leaned close above him and
said, compelling his eyes to look steadily into hers:

"Carlton Brand, what does this mean? I know that scar and the color that
has once covered that hair and moustache! You are Horace Townsend!"

"I _was_ Horace Townsend once, for a little while, Margaret," was the
reply. "But it won me nothing, and you see for what a stern reality I have
given up masquerading."

"And _you_ plunged into the Pool to save that drowning boy. _You_ went down
into that dreadful schute and brought up the Rambler! _You_ spoke to the
Old Man of the Mountain at midnight and carried me away with your words on
Echo Lake. And _you_--heaven keep my senses when I think of it!--_you_ made
love to me along the road down the Glen below the Crawford!

"I am afraid I was guilty of all those offences!" answered the invalid,
with something nearer to a smile of mischief glimmering from the corner of
his eye than had shone there for many a day.

"I did hear something in your voice the first night that I saw you there,
and afterwards," Margaret Hayley went on, "which made me shudder from its
echo of yours; and more than once I saw that in your face which won me to
you without my knowing why. Yet all the impression wore off by degrees,
and--only think of it!--I was nearly on the point, at one time, of
believing that I had found a truer ideal than the one so lately lost, and
of promising to become the wife of Horace Townsend! Think where _you_ would
have been, you heartless deceiver, if I had fallen altogether into the trap
and done so!"

"I think I might have endured _that_ successful rivalry better than any
other!" was the very natural reply.

"And this man," said Robert Brand, standing close beside the bed, looking
down at his son with a face in which pride and joy had mastered its great
trouble of a few days before, and apparently speaking quite as much to
himself as to either of his auditors--"this man, capable of such deeds of
godlike bravery in ordinary life, and then of winning the applause of a
whole army in the very front of battle,--I cursed and despised as a coward!
God forgive me!--and you, my son, try to forget that ever I set myself up
as your pitiless judge, to be punished as few fathers have ever been
punished who yet had the sons of their love spared to them! Margaret--how
have we both misunderstood him!"

"The fault was not all yours, by any means," said the invalid. "How could
either of you know me when I misunderstood and belied _myself_!"

And in that remark--the last word uttered by Carlton Brand before he
yielded to the exhaustion of his last hour of imprudent excitement and fell
away to a slumber almost as profound as death, just as the old doctor
stepped back to forbid a longer interview, and while the shadows of evening
began to fall within the little room, and Margaret Hayley sat by his
bedside and held his hand in hers with what was plainly a grasp never to be
broken again during the lives of both, and Robert Brand, sitting but a
little farther away, watched the son that had been lost and was found, with
a deeper tenderness and a holier pride than he had ever felt when bending
over the pillow of his sleeping childhood,--in that remark, we say, lay the
key to all which had so affected his life, and which eventually gave cause
for this somewhat singular and desultory narration. _He had misunderstood
himself_; and only pain, suffering and a mental agony more painful than any
physical death, had been able to bring himself and those who best knew him
to a full knowledge of the truth. Only a part of that truth he knew even
then, when he lay in the officers' ward of the Alexandria hospital: it is
our privilege to know it all and to explain it, so far as explanation can
be given, in a few words.

Carlton Brand had been gifted, and cursed, from childhood, with an intense
and imaginative temperament, never quite regulated or even analyzed. His
sense of honor had been painfully delicate--his love of approbation so
strong as to be little less than a disease. Some mishap of his weak,
hysterical and short-lived mother, no doubt, had given him one terrible
weakness, entirely physical, but which he believed to be mental--_he
habitually fainted at the sight of blood_. (This fact will explain,
parenthetically, why he fell senseless and apparently dead at that period
in the encounter with Dick Compton when the blood gushed over the face of
the latter from his blow; and why after each of the excitements of the Pool
and Mount Willard he suffered in like manner, at the instant when his eyes
met the fatal sign on the faces of the rescued.) High cultivation of the
imaginative faculty, the habit of living too much within himself, and a
constitutional predisposition in that direction, had made him painfully
_nervous_--a weakness which to him, and eventually to others, assumed the
shape of cowardice. Recklessly brave, in fact, and never troubled by that
nervousness for one moment when his sympathies were excited and his really
magnificent physical and gymnastic powers called into play,--that fainting
shudder at the sight of blood had been all the while his haunting demon,
disgracing him in his own eyes and marring a life that would otherwise have
been very bright and pleasant. One belief had fixed itself in his mind,
long before the period of this narration, and never afterwards (until now)
been driven thence--that _if he should ever be brought into conflict among
deadly weapons, this horror of blood would make him run away like a
poltroon, disgracing himself forever and breaking the hearts of all who
loved him_. This belief had made his commission in the Reserves a
melancholy farce; this had placed him in the power of Dr. Philip Pomeroy
and prevented that exposure and that punishment so richly deserved; this
had made his life, after the breaking out of the war, one long struggle to
avoid what he believed must be disgraceful detection. Once more, so that
the matter which informs this whole relation may be fairly
understood,--Carlton Brand, merely a high-strung, imaginative, nervous
man, with the bravery of the old Paladins latent in his heart and bursting
out occasionally in actions more trying than the facing of any battery that
ever belched forth fire and death,--had all the while mistaken that
nervousness for cowardice;--just as many a man who has neither heart,
feeling nor imagination, strides through the world and stalks over the
battle-field, wrapped in his mantle of ignorance and stolidity, believing
himself and impressing the belief upon others, that this is indomitable
bravery.

What Carlton Brand had believed himself to be when untried--what Carlton
Brand had proved himself to be when hatred to Captain Hector Coles and a
despairing hope of yet winning the love of Margaret Hayley moved him to the
trial--how thorough a contrast!--how exact an antagonism! And how many of
us, perhaps, going backward from the glass in which we have more or less
closely beheld our natural faces, forget, if we have ever truly read, "what
manner of men" we are!

And here another explanation must follow, as we may well believe that it
followed between the three so strangely reunited, when rest and repose had
worn off the first shock of meeting and made it safe for the petted invalid
to meet another pressure from those rose-leaf lips that had forsaken all
their pride to bend down and touch him with a penitent blessing--safe to
speak and to hear of the many things which the parted always treasure
against re-union. That explanation concerns the mystery of the passenger by
the Cunarder, the American in England, and the man who under the name of
Carlton Brand perished from the deck of the Emerald off Kingstown harbor?
Had he a double life as well as a double nature? Or had there been some
unaccountable personation? The latter, of course, and from causes and under
circumstances not one whit surprising when the key is once supplied.

It will be remembered that Carlton Brand, very soon after his purchase of a
ticket for Liverpool by the Cunard steamer and his indulging that
nervousness which he believed to be cowardice with a little shuddering
horror at the mass of coal roaring and blazing in the furnaces of the
government transport, early in July,--had a visiter at his rooms at the
Fifth Avenue Hotel--Henry Thornton, of Philadelphia, a brother lawyer and
intimate friend. It will also be remembered that the two held a long and
confidential conversation, very little of the purport of which was then
given. The facts, a part of them thus far concealed, were that Carlton
Brand, flying from his disgrace, really intended to go to Europe as he had
informed Elsie; that he made no secret of that disgrace, to Thornton; that
the latter informed him, incidentally, of what he had heard of the summer
plans of Margaret Hayley and her mother, whom he knew through his family;
that the passage-ticket, lying upon the table, came under the notice of
Thornton, inducing the information that he was also on his way to England,
in chase of a criminal who had absconded with a large sum of money
belonging to one of the Philadelphia banks, and whom he had means, if once
he could overtake him, of forcing to disgorge; that Thornton half-jestingly
proposed, remembering their partial resemblance, that if his friend had
grown ashamed of his name, he would take that and the ticket and pursue the
criminal with less chance of being evaded, his own cognomen being kept in
the dark; that Brand, suddenly taken with the idea and struck with the
facility which the use of his name by the other would furnish for creating
the belief that he had himself gone abroad, and thus concealing his
identity while remaining at home, adopted the suggestion and supplied his
friend at once with name and ticket, for his travelling purposes; that it
was Henry Thornton and not Carlton Brand who ran that mad quest about
England, a hidden criminal always in view, and frequenting the most
doubtful places and the most disreputable society to accomplish the object
of his search; and that it was poor Thornton and not Carlton Brand who
perished in the Irish Channel and met that lowly grave in the Howth
church-yard. All this while the real owner of that name, shaving away his
curling beard, tinging his fair skin with a very easily-obtained chemical
preparation, dyeing black his hair and moustache and making himself up as
nearly as possible like Thornton, under the assumed designation of Horace
Townsend, suggested by the initials of his "double," was carrying out that
long masquerade which we have been permitted to witness.

The peculiarities which he developed in that masquerade, should by this
time be reasonably well understood; the motives which kept him near the
woman who had once loved him but afterwards cast him off forever, may
easily be guessed by many a man, correspondingly situated, who has thus
fluttered moth-like around his destroying candle; the half-maddening effect
produced upon him by the magnificent scenery of the mountains, the displays
of reckless courage made by Halstead Rowan and the marked admiration of
Margaret Hayley for those displays, was no matter for surprise when such
surroundings for such a temperament were considered; the attempt to become
his own rival and win the woman he so wildly worshipped from himself, was
not crazier than might have been expected from the man who could have
exhibited all the preceding anomalies; and after Margaret had declared her
unalterable love but her invincible determination never to marry the man
who dared not fight for his native land,--the feeling compounded of hope
and despair, which sent him down to the Virginia battle-fields, first as a
mere spectator under the favor of his old friend Pleasanton and then as a
mad Berserk running a course of warlike fury which made even gray-bearded
veterans shudder,--this need astonish no one who has seen how human
character changes and develops its true components in the crucible of love,
shame and sorrow!

Be sure that Margaret Hayley, too, in that day of the clearing away of
mists and mysteries, made one explanation--not to the ears of Robert Brand,
but to those of Carlton alone. An explanation that was really a
confession, as it told him of the means through which the property held by
her family (oh, how the magnificent face alternately flushed and paled when
opening this sore wound of her pride!) had been acquired many years before.
But be sure that all this was made a recommendation rather than a shame in
the eyes of Carlton Brand, when he knew that from the day of his own
dismissal her knowledge of that family stain had been used to keep Mrs.
Burton Hayley quiet and subservient, to hold Captain Hector Coles at a safe
distance, and to enforce what she had truly intended if _he_ should never
honorably beckon her again to his bridal bed--a life of loneliness for his
sake!

Something that occurred a month later--in October, when nature had put on
those gorgeous but melancholy robes of gold and purple with which in
America she wraps herself when Proserpine is going away from Ceres to the
darkness and desolation of winter.

One day during that month a close carriage drove down the lane leading from
the Darby road past the house of Dr. Pomeroy. It was drawn by a magnificent
pair of horses, but they were driven much more slowly than we have once
seen them pursuing the same course. A single figure was seated in it, with
face at the window, when it drew up at the doctor's gate; and out of it
stepped Nathan Bladesden, the Quaker merchant.

The face was calm, as beseemed his sect, but very stern. A little changed,
perhaps, since the early summer, with a shadow more of white dashed into
the trim side-whiskers and one or two deeper lines upon the brow and at the
corners of the mouth. A step, as he said a word to the driver and entered
the gate, which comported with the stern gravity of the face and the slow
rate at which he had been driven. Something in the whole appearance
indicating that he had come upon a painful duty, but one that he would do
if half the powers of both worlds should combine to prevent him.

He saw no one as he approached the piazza and the closed front door; but as
he was about to ring, a female servant came out, closed the door again
behind her and stopped as if surprised at seeing him.

"Is Doctor Philip Pomeroy at home?" he asked.

"Yes," was the answer, after one instant of hesitation,--"yes, but--"

"That was all I asked thee, woman!" answered the Quaker, sternly. "I came
to see him and I must do so. Show me to him at once."

The girl hesitated again, looked twice at him and once at the one open
window of the parlor, then obeyed the behest, opened the front door,
pointed to that leading into the parlor from the hall, and said:

"He is there, Mr. Bladesden. If you _must_ see him, you had better knock,
for he may not like to be disturbed."

She went out at once, leaving the front door half open, and glancing back,
as she passed it, at the tall, powerful man with the gray hair and
side-whiskers, just applying his knuckles to the panel. There was something
strange and even startled in her look, but she said no more, left him so
and went on upon her errand.

The Quaker knocked twice or three times before there was any answer from
within. Nor was the door opened even then, but the voice of the doctor
said: "Come in!" and he entered. Doctor Philip Pomeroy sat alone in the
room, in a large chair, leaning far back, his arms folded tightly on his
breast and his head so thrown forward that he looked up from beneath bent
brows. He evidently saw his visitor and recognized him, and yet he did not
rise or change his position. And quite a moment elapsed before he said, in
a voice frightfully hoarse:

"What do you want here, Nathan Bladesden?"

"I have business with thee, Doctor Philip," was the reply.

"And I do not choose to do business to-day, with any one, nor with _you_ as
long as I live!" said the same hoarse voice.

"And I choose that thee _shall_ do business to-day and with _me_!" was the
second reply, still equable in tone but still terribly earnest.

Doctor Philip Pomeroy unfolded his arms and rose slowly from his chair. The
Quaker, as he did so and was thus thrown into a better light, saw that his
face was haggard, that his sharp, scintillant eyes were wild, and that he
looked years older than when he had beheld him last, four months before.
Standing, and with one hand on the chair as if he needed support, he said:

"Nathan Bladesden, I told you, the last time that you visited this house,
never to come near it again, and I thought that you knew me too well to
intrude again uninvited."

"It is because I know thee very well indeed, that I _have_ intruded, as
thee calls it!" answered the Quaker, with what would have been a sneer on
another face and from other lips. "I remember the last time I came here,
Doctor Philip, quite as well as thee does, and I promised thee some things
then that I am quite as likely to fulfil as thee is to carry out any of thy
threats. Besides, thee may be sure that I have business, or I should not
have come, for thy company is not so attractive as that men of good
character seek it of their own will!"

The Quaker had no doubt expected that by that time he would break out into
rough violence, as before; but he had misjudged. From some cause unknown he
did not, though the wild eyes grew more than scintillant--they glared like
those of a wild beast at once in pain and at bay. And he made no answer
except a "Humph!" that seemed to be uttered between closed lips--half an
expression of contempt and half a groan.

Nathan Bladesden, intent upon his "business," went on.

"I will not trouble thee long, Dr. Philip, but thee had better pay
attention to what I say, for I am very much in earnest and not to be
trifled with, to-day, as thee will discover. If thee remembers, I came here
the last time to rescue Eleanor Hill from thy villainous hands--"

"Eleanor Hill!" This was not an exclamation of surprise, but a veritable
groaning-out of the name.

"Yes, Eleanor Hill," pursued Bladesden,--"after thee had broken off my
marriage with her by poisoning my mind against the poor girl thee had
ruined in body and soul and I believe robbed in fortune. The morning of
that day I had been weak, and driven away by thee: that afternoon I had
been moved to do my duty and to take her away from the hands of a seducer
and a scoundrel--to shelter the lamb from the wolf, though it was torn and
bleeding--to make her my sister if I could not make her my wife."

"Is that all--all? If not, go on!" groaned out the hoarse voice through the
set teeth.

"No, there is somewhat more, Dr. Philip--and that of the most consequence,"
the Quaker continued. "When I came, the poor girl was gone--gone from thee
as well as from me. Then I heard that she had gone among the soldiers of
the army, doing the work of the Master and healing the sick. She was away
from _thee_ and doing the duty of merciful woman, and I was content to wait
until she had finished. But to-day I learned that yesterday she came back
again."

"Oh, my God!--he will kill me!" groaned the answering voice, deeper and
more hoarse than ever. But the Quaker went mercilessly on.

"No, I think that I shall not have need!" he said. "Thee is cowardly as
well as base, and thee will obey and save thy life. I heard, I say, that
she had come back to this house of pollution, and I have come to take her
away. Give her up to me, at once, that I may place her where thee can never
harm her and never even see her more, and that is all I ask of thee: refuse
me or try to prevent my removing her, and I will take thee by the throat,
here, now, with these hands that thee sees are strong enough to do the duty
of the hangman--and strangle thee to death!"

There was fearful intensity, very near approaching momentary madness, in
the voice and whole manner of Nathan Bladesden, before he had concluded
that startling speech; but if he could have looked keenly enough he might
have seen on the face of the doctor something more terrible than any word
he had uttered or any gesture he could make. His eyes rolled wildly with a
glare that was only one remove from maniacy; his whole countenance was so
fearfully contorted that he might have seemed in the last agony; and his
frame shook to such a degree that the very chair he held jarred and
shivered on the floor with the muscular action.

"God of heaven, Nathan Bladesden!" he said, the hoarseness of his voice
changed into a wild cry. "Are you mad, or am _I_? You know that Eleanor
Hill came back here yesterday, and you have come to take her away from me
to-day?"

"I have come for that purpose, and I will do it, Doctor Philip," replied
the Quaker. "Thee has my warning, and thee had better heed it. Let me see
her at once, and then if she does not herself ask to be left with thee and
the disgrace of thy house, thee shall see her no more, if I can prevent it,
until the judgment!"

For one moment, then, without another word, Dr. Philip Pomeroy looked at
the speaker steadily as his own terrible situation would permit. Then he
seemed to have arrived at some solution of a great mystery, or to have
sprung to a desperate resolution, for he sprang forward, grasped the Quaker
so suddenly that the latter for the moment started in the expectation of
personal violence, dragged him to the door separating the parlor from a
smaller one at the rear, and dashed it open, with the words:

"There is Eleanor Hill! Ask her if she will go with you or remain with
_me_!"

The room was partially shaded by heavy curtains; and Nathan Bladesden,
stepping hastily therein, did not at first see what it contained. But when
he did so, as he did the instant after, no wonder that even his stern,
strong nature was not quite proof against the shock, and that he recoiled
and uttered an exclamation of affright. For Eleanor Hill was there indeed,
but scarcely within the reach of human wish or question--coffined for the
grave, the glossy brown hair smoothed away from a forehead on which rested
neither the furrow of pain nor the mark of shame, the sad eyes closed in
that long peaceful night which knows no waking from sleep until the
resurrection morning, the thin hands folded Madonna-like upon the breast,
and one lingering flush of the hectic rose of consumption in the centre of
either pale cheek, to restore all her childish beauty and carry the
flower-symbol of human love into the very domain of death.

"That is Eleanor Hill--why do you not ask her the question?" Oh, what agony
there was in that poor attempt at a taunt!

"No, thee has made her what she is--thee may keep her, now!"

The Quaker's words were a far bitterer taunt than that which had fallen
from the lips of the doctor. Then he seemed to soften, went up to the
coffin, looked steadily on the dead face for a moment, stooped and pressed
his lips on the cold, calm brow, and said, with a strange echo of what
Carlton Brand had uttered in the hospital but a few weeks before:

"They have such people as thee in heaven, Eleanor! Farewell!"

He turned away and seemed about to leave the room and the house, but the
hand of Dr. Philip Pomeroy was again upon his arm, grasping it and holding
him while the frame shivered with uncontrollable emotion and the broken
voice groaned out:

"Nathan Bladesden, you hate me, and perhaps you have cause. You are a cold,
stern man, with no mercy, and my tortures must be pleasure to you. Enjoy
them all! And if any man ever doubts the existence of hell in your
presence, tell him that you have seen it with your own eyes in the house of
Philip Pomeroy, when the only woman he ever loved in the world lay dead
before him, murdered by his own hand, and a devil stood by, taunting him
with his guilt!"

"I will taunt thee no more, Doctor Philip!" fell slowly from the Quaker's
lips. "I hate thee no longer. I pity thee. Thy Maker is dealing with thee
now, and thy punishment is enough!"

He turned away, then, and left the suffering man still within the room
beside the dead. Once as he passed into the hall he looked back and saw
through the still open door a dark form fall forward with a groan, the head
against the coffin and the arms clasping it as if it had been a living
thing.

There are two endings to the story of "Faust"--that marvellous wierd
history of human love and demoniac temptation which alike in drama and
opera enraptures the world, and once before alluded to in this narration.
In the older and coarser version, when the ruin is full accomplished and
the hour of penalty full ripe, Marguerite is seen ascending heavenward,
while Mephistopheles laughs hoarsely and points downward to the lower pit,
whence arise blue flames and horrible discords, and into which the doomed
Faust is seen to be dragged at the last moment by the hands of the swarming
and gibbering monsters. In the other and yet more terrible version,
Maguerite is seen ascending, and the laugh of the demon is heard, but it is
only a faint, fading, mocking laugh, as even _he_ flies away and leaves the
man accursed kneeling in hopeless agony over the dead form from which the
pure spirit has just gone upward--condemned, not to the pit and the flame,
but to that worse hell of living alone and without hope, racked by love
that has come in its full force when too late, and by a remorse that will
worse clutch at his heart-strings than all the fiends of perdition could do
at the poor body which coffers his soul of torment. Who does not know how
much the more dreadful is that second doom? Who does not--let him never
tempt God and fate by making the rash experiment!

Nathan Bladesden was right--even for such sins as those Doctor Philip
Pomeroy had committed, the reckoning was fearful!

Poor Eleanor Hill had been right, too, when she said: "Leave him to me! * *
* I will so punish him as no man was ever punished!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Shall there not be one glimmer more of sunshine after the dark night and
the storm? Thank heaven, yes!--in a far-off glance at fortunes left long in
abeyance but not forgotten.

Lying on the sofa at Mrs. Burton Hayley's, one evening when the first fires
of winter had not long been lighted,--still taking the privilege of the
invalid though no longer one, and making a pillow of the lap of Margaret
Hayley, her dainty white fingers playing with his clustering golden blonde
hair as they had erewhile done among the summer rose-leaves,--a quick,
warm, happy kiss stolen now and again when the dignified lady, of the
mansion was too busy with the devoutly-religious work that she was reading,
to be horrified by such immoral practices,--lying thus, and the two talking
of dear little Elsie's coming happiness and their own which was not to be
much longer deferred; of the restored pride and renovated health of Robert
Brand--quite as dear to Margaret, since that day in the garden, as to the
son and daughter of his own blood; of the delirious joy and dreadfully
broad Scotch of old Elspeth Graeme since the return of her "bonny bairn;"
of poor Eleanor Hill and Captain Hector Coles, dead so differently on the
fatal Virginian soil; of these and others, and of all the events which had
been so strangely crowded within the compass of little more than half a
year,--lying thus and talking thus, we say, Carlton Brand drew from his
pocket a little fragment clipped from a newspaper, and said:

"By the way, Margaret, here is something that I found in one of the
Baltimore papers yesterday. It concerns some friends of ours, whom we may
never meet again, but whom neither of us, I think, will ever quite forget.
Read it."

Margaret Hayley took the slip and read, what writer and reader may be
pardoned for looking over her fair rounded shoulder and perusing at the
same moment--this satisfactory and significant item:

     MARRIED. ROWAN--VANDERLYN.--On Wednesday the 9th inst., by
     Rev. Dr. Rushmore, Major Halstead Rowan, of the Sixth
     Illinois cavalry, to Clara, daughter of the late Clayton
     Vanderlyn, Esq., and Mrs. Isabella Vanderlyn, of Calvert St.

"She was a sweet girl, and he was one of nature's gentlemen," said
Margaret. "I saw enough to know how dearly they were in love with each
other before they left the mountains; and I am glad to know that they have
had their will, in spite of"--and here she lowered her voice, so that Mrs.
Burton Hayley could not possibly hear her--"a proud, meddling mother and a
brother who should have been sent back to school until he learned manners!"

"Oh, Rowan told me that he was going into the army, before he left the
Crawford," answered the happy lounger. "You see he has done so and become a
Major, and that makes him gentleman enough even for the Vanderlyns.
George!--what a dashing officer he must make! Some day, when I go back to
the army--"

"When _I let you_ go back, mad fellow!"

"Some day I want to ride a charge with him, side by side. He was the
boldest rider and the most daring man I ever knew."

"The bravest that _I_ ever knew, except _one_!" said Margaret Hayley,
stooping down her proud neck and for some unexplainable reason stopping for
an instant in the middle of her speech. "And he had even the advantage of
that _one_ in a very important respect."

"And what was that, I should like to be informed, my Empress!"

"He _knew it_!"


THE END.

       *       *       *       *       *

T. B. PETERSON & BROTHERS' PUBLICATIONS.

THIS CATALOGUE CONTAINS AND
Describes the Most Popular and Best Selling Books in the World.

The Books will also be found to be the Best and Latest Publications by the
most Popular and Celebrated Writers in the World. They are also the most
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Suitable for the Parlor, Library, Sitting-Room, Railroad, Camp, Steamboat,
Army, or Soldiers' Reading.

PUBLISHED AND FOR SALE BY
T. B. PETERSON & BROTHERS,
306 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia.

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Copies of any of Petersons' Publications, or any other work or works
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MRS. EMMA D. E. N. SOUTHWORTH'S WORKS.

     The Bridal Eve. Complete in one volume, paper cover. Price
     $1.25; or in one vol., cloth, $1.50.

     The Fatal Marriage. Complete in one volume, paper cover.
     Price $1.25; or in one vol., cloth, $1.50.

     Love's Labor Won. One vol., paper cover. Price $1.25; or in
     one vol., cloth, $1.50.

     The Gipsy's Prophecy. Complete in one vol., paper cover.
     Price $1.25; or in one vol., cloth, $1.50.

     Vivia. The Secret of Power. One vol., paper cover. Price
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     India. The Pearl of Pearl River. Price $1.25; or cloth,
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     Mother-in-Law. One vol., paper cover. Price $1.25; or in
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     The Two Sisters. One vol., paper cover. Price $1.25; or in
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     The Three Beauties. One vol., paper cover. Price $1.25; or
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     The Wife's Victory. One vol., paper cover. Price $1.25; or
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     The Lost Heiress. One vol., paper cover. Price $1.25; or in
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     The Deserted Wife. Price $1.25 in paper; or in cloth, for
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     Hickory Hall. By Mrs. Southworth. Price 50 cents.

     The Lady of the Isle. Complete in one vol., paper cover.
     Price $1.25; or in one vol., cloth, $1.50.

     The Missing Bride. One volume, paper cover. Price $1.25; or
     in one volume, cloth, for $1.50.

     Retribution: A Tale of Passion. One vol., paper cover. Price
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     The Haunted Homestead. Price $1.25; or in one vol., cloth,
     $1.50.

     The Curse of Clifton. Price $1.25 in paper; or in cloth, for
     $1.50.

     The Discarded Daughter. Price $1.25 in paper; or in cloth,
     $1.50.

     The Jealous Husband. One vol., paper cover. Price $1.25; or
     cloth, $1.50.

     The Belle of Washington. One vol., paper. Price $1.25; or
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     The Initials. A Love Story. One vol. Price $1.25; or cloth,
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     Kate Aylesford. One vol., paper cover. Price $1.25; or in
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     The Dead Secret. One vol., paper cover. Price $1.25; or
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     The Woman in Black. Price $1.25 in paper; or in cloth,
     $1.50.

     Family Pride. Price $1.25 in paper; or in cloth, for $1.50.

     The Broken Engagement. By Mrs. Southworth. Price 25 cents.


MRS. ANN S. STEPHENS' NEW WORKS.

     The Wife's Secret. One volume, paper cover. Price $1.25; or
     in one volume, cloth, for $1.50.

     The Rejected Wife. One volume, paper cover. Price $1.25; or
     in one volume, cloth, for $1.50.

     Fashion and Famine. One volume, paper cover. Price $1.25; or
     in one vol., cloth, $1.50.

     The Heiress. One volume, paper cover. Price $1.25; or in one
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     The Old Homestead. One volume, paper cover. Price $1.25; or
     in one vol., cloth, $1.50.

     Mary Derwent. One volume, paper cover. Price $1.25; or in
     one volume, cloth, for $1.50.


CAROLINE LEE HENTZ'S WORKS.

     Planter's Northern Bride. One volume, paper cover. Price
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     Linda. The Young Pilot of the Belle Creole. Price $1.25 in
     paper; or $1.50 in cloth.

     Robert Graham. The Sequel to, and Continuation of Linda.
     Price $1.25 in paper; or $1.50 in cloth.

     The Lost Daughter. One vol., paper cover. Price $1.25; or
     bound in one vol., cloth, $1.50.

     Courtship and Marriage. One vol., paper cover. Price $1.25;
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     Rena; or, The Snow Bird. One vol., paper cover. Price $1.25;
     or one vol., cloth, $1.50.

     Marcus Warland. One volume, paper cover. Price $1.25; or
     bound in one vol., cloth, $1.50.

     Love after Marriage. One vol., paper cover. Price $1.25; or
     in one volume, cloth, for $1.50.

     The Planter's Daughter. One vol., paper cover. Price $1.25;
     or in one vol., cloth, $1.50.

     Eoline; or, Magnolia Vale. One vol., paper cover. Price
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     The Banished Son. One vol., paper cover. Price $1.25; or in
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     Helen and Arthur. One volume, paper cover. Price $1.25; or
     in one volume, cloth, for $1.50.

     Ernest Linwood. One volume, paper cover. Price $1.25; or in
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     Courtship and Matrimony. One vol., paper cover. Price $1.25;
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MRS. HENRY WOOD'S BOOKS.

     The Shadow of Ashlydyat. One vol., paper cover. Price One
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     Squire Trevlyn's Heir. One vol., paper cover. Price One
     Dollar; or in one vol., cloth, for $1.50.

     The Castle's Heir. One volume, octavo, paper cover. Price
     One Dollar; or in one vol., cloth, for $1.50.

     Verner's Pride. One vol., octavo, paper cover. Price $1.00;
     or in one vol., cloth, for $1.50.

     A Life's Secret. Price Fifty cents; or in one vol., cloth,
     $1.00.

     The Lost Bank Note. 50 cents.

     The Channings. Price 75 cents; or in one vol., cloth, $1.25.

     The Mystery. Price Fifty cents; or bound in one vol., cloth,
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     The Runaway Match. One vol., paper cover. Price 50 cents.

     The Earl's Heirs. Price Fifty cents; or one vol., cloth,
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     Aurora Floyd. Price 50 cents; or a finer edition, in cloth,
     for $1.25.

     Better For Worse. One vol., octavo, paper cover. Price 50
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     Foggy Night at Offord. 25 cts.

     William Allair. Price 25 cents.

     Lawyer's Secret. Price 25 cents.


THE GREAT NOVELS OF THE WAR.

     Shoulder Straps. A novel of New York and the Army in 1862.
     By Henry Morford, editor of the "New York Atlas." It is the
     book for Ladies, Gentlemen, and Soldiers! Wives and Widows,
     Fast Young Ladies, Slow Young Ladies, Married Men and
     Bachelors, Young Ladies about to be Married, and those who
     have no Matrimonial Prospects whatever! Stay-at-home Guards,
     Government Officials, Army Contractors, Aldermen, Doctors,
     Judges, Lawyers, etc. Price $1.25 in paper; or bound in one
     volume, cloth, for $1.50.

     The Days of Shoddy. A Novel of the Great Rebellion of 1861.
     By Henry Morford author of "Shoulder Straps" price $1.25 in
     paper, or $1.50 in cloth.


CHARLES DICKENS' WORKS.

ILLUSTRATED OCTAVO EDITION.

Pickwick Papers,                               Cloth,$2.00
Nicholas Nickleby,                             Cloth, 2.00
Great Expectations,                            Cloth, 2.00
Lamplighter's Story,                           Cloth, 2.00
Oliver Twist,                                  Cloth, 2.00
Bleak House,                                   Cloth, 2.00
Little Dorrit,                                 Cloth, 2.00
Dombey and Son,                                Cloth, 2.00
Sketches by "Boz,"                             Cloth, 2.00
David Copperfield,                             Cloth, 2.00
Barnaby Rudge,                                 Cloth, 2.00
Martin Chuzzlewit,                             Cloth, 2.00
Old Curiosity Shop,                            Cloth, 2.00
Christmas Stories,                             Cloth, 2.00
Dickens' New Stories,                                 2.00
A Tale of Two Cities,                                 2.00
American Notes and Pic-Nic Papers,             Cloth, 2.00

Price of a set, in Black cloth, in 17 volumes       $32.00
     "      "   Full Law Library style               42.00
     "      "   Half calf, sprinkled edges           48.00
     "      "   Half calf, marbled edges.            50.00
     "      "   Half calf, antique                   60.00
     "      "   Half calf, full gilt backs, etc.     60.00

PEOPLE'S DUODECIMO EDITION.

Pickwick Papers,                              Cloth, $1.75
Nicholas Nickleby,                             Cloth, 1.75
Great Expectations,                            Cloth, 1.75
Lamplighter's Story,                           Cloth, 1.75
David Copperfield,                             Cloth, 1.75
Oliver Twist,                                  Cloth, 1.75
Bleak House,                                   Cloth, 1.75
A Tale of Two Cities,                                 1.75
Dickens' New Stories,                                 1.75
Little Dorrit,                                 Cloth, 1.75
Dombey and Son,                                Cloth, 1.75
Christmas Stories,                             Cloth, 1.75
Sketches by "Boz,"                             Cloth, 1.75
Barnaby Rudge,                                 Cloth, 1.75
Martin Chuzzlewit,                             Cloth, 1.75
Old Curiosity Shop,                            Cloth, 1.75
Dickens' Short Stories,                               1.50
Message from the Sea,                                 1.50

Price of a set, in Black cloth, in 17 volumes       $29.00
     "      "   Full Law Library style               35.00
     "      "   Half calf, sprinkled edges           42.00
     "      "   Half calf, marbled edges             44.00
     "      "   Half calf, antique                   50.00
     "      "   Half calf, full gilt backs, etc.     50.00
     "      "   Full calf, antique                   60.00
     "      "   Full calf gilt edges, backs, etc.    60.00


ILLUSTRATED DUODECIMO EDITION.

Pickwick Papers,                              Cloth, $3.00
Tale of Two Cities,                            Cloth, 3.00
Nicholas Nickleby,                             Cloth, 3.00
David Copperfield,                             Cloth, 3.00
Oliver Twist,                                  Cloth, 3.00
Christmas Stories,                             Cloth, 3.00
Bleak House,                                   Cloth, 3.00
Sketches by "Boz,"                             Cloth, 3.00
Barnaby Rudge,                                 Cloth, 3.00
Martin Chuzzlewit,                             Cloth, 3.00
Old Curiosity Shop,                            Cloth, 3.00
Little Dorrit,                                 Cloth, 3.00
Dombey and Son,                                Cloth, 3.00

_Each of the above are complete in two volumes, illustrated._

Great Expectations,                             Cloth, 1.75
Lamplighter's Story,                                   1.75
Dickens' New Stories,                                  1.50
Message from the Sea,                                  1.50

Price of a set, in Thirty volumes, bound in Black cloth, gilt backs  $45.00
     "      "   Full Law Library style                                55.00
     "      "   Half calf, antique                                    90.00
     "      "   Half calf, full gilt back                             90.00
     "      "   Full calf, antique                                   100.00
     "      "   Full calf, gilt edges, backs etc                     100.00


CHARLES DICKENS' WORKS.

CHEAP EDITION, PAPER COVER.

This edition is published complete in Twenty-two large octavo volumes, in
paper cover, as follows. Price Seventy-five cents a volume.

Pickwick Papers.
Great Expectations.
A Tale of Two Cities.
New Years' Stories.
Barnaby Rudge.
Old Curiosity Shop.
Little Dorrit.
David Copperfield.
Sketches by "Boz."
Dickens' New Stories.
American Notes.
Somebody's Luggage.  25 cts.
Oliver Twist.
Lamplighter's Story.
Dombey and Son.
Nicholas Nickleby.
Holiday Stories.
Martin Chuzzlewit.
Bleak House.
Dickens' Short Stories.
Message from the Sea.
Christmas Stories.
Pic-Nic Papers.
Christmas Carols. 25 cents.

LIBRARY OCTAVO EDITION. IN SEVEN VOLUMES.

This edition is in SEVEN large octavo volumes, with a portrait on steel of
Charles Dickens, and bound in the following various styles.

Price of a set, in Black cloth, in seven volumes,      $14.00
  "         "      Scarlet cloth, extra,                15.00
  "         "      Law Library style,                   17.50
  "         "      Half calf, sprinkled edges,          20.00
  "         "      Half calf, marbled edges,            21.00
  "         "      Half calf, antique,                  25.00
  "         "      Half calf, full gilt backs, etc.,    25.00


CHARLES LEVER'S WORKS.

_Fine Edition, bound separately._

Charles O'Malley, cloth,                         $2.00
Harry Lorrequer, cloth,                           2.00
Jack Hinton, cloth,                               2.00
Davenport Dunn, cloth,                            2.00
Tom Burke of Ours, cloth,                         2.00
Arthur O'Leary, cloth,                            2.00
Con Cregan, cloth,                                2.00
Knight of Gwynne, cloth,                          2.00
Valentine Vox, cloth,                             2.00
Ten Thousand a Year,                              2.00


CHARLES LEVER'S NOVELS.

_All neatly done up in paper covers._

Charles O'Malley,                        _Price_ 75 cts.
Harry Lorrequer,                               75  "
Horace Templeton,                              75  "
Tom Burke of Ours,                             75  "
Jack Hinton, the
 Guardsman,                                       75  "
Arthur O'Leary,                                75 cts.
The Knight of Gwynne,                          75  "
Kate O'Donoghue,                               75  "
Con Cregan, the Irish
 Gil Blas,                                        75  "
Davenport Dunn,                                75  "

LIBRARY EDITION.

THIS EDITION is complete in FIVE large octavo volumes, containing Charles
O'Malley, Harry Lorrequer, Horace Templeton, Tom Burke of Ours, Arthur
O'Leary, Jack Hinton the Guardsman, The Knight of Gwynne, Kate O'Donoghue,
etc., handsomely printed, and bound in various styles, as follows:

Price of a set in Black cloth,                        $10.00
  "         "     Scarlet cloth,                       11.00
  "         "     Law Library sheep,                   12.50
  "         "     Half calf, sprinkled edges,          14.00
  "         "     Half calf, marbled edges,            15.00
  "         "     Half calf, antique,                  20.00


WILKIE COLLINS' GREAT WORKS.

     The Dead Secret. One volume, octavo, paper cover. Price
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     fine 12mo. edition, in one vol., paper cover, in large type,
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     The Crossed Path; or, Basil. Complete in one volume, paper
     cover. Price $1.25, or bound in one volume, cloth, for
     $1.50.

     The Stolen Mask. Price 25 cents.

     Hide and Seek. One vol., octavo, paper cover. Price fifty
     cents; or bound in one vol., cloth, for $1.00.

     After Dark. One vol., octavo, paper, cover. Price fifty
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     Sights a-foot; or Travels Beyond Railways. One volume,
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     The Yellow Mask. Price 25 cts.

     Sister Rose. Price 25 cents.


COOK BOOKS

     Petersons' New Cook Book; or Useful Receipts for the
     Housewife and the uninitiated. Full of valuable receipts,
     all original and never before published, all of which will
     be found to be very valuable and of daily use. One vol.,
     bound. Price $1.50.

     Miss Leslie's New Cookery Book; Being her last new book. One
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     Widdifield's New Cook Book; or, Practical Receipts for the
     Housewife. Cloth. Price $1.50.

     Mrs. Hale's New Cook Book. By Mrs. Sarah J. Hale. One
     volume, bound. Price $1.50.

     Miss Leslie's New Receipts for Cooking. Complete in one
     volume, bound. Price $1.50.


MRS. HALE'S RECEIPTS.

     Mrs. Hale's Receipts for the Million. Containing 4545
     Receipts. By Mrs. Sarah J. Hale. One vol., 800 pages,
     strongly bound. Price $1.50.


LADIES GUIDE TO TRUE POLITENESS, etc.

The Ladies Guide to True Politeness and Perfect Manners. By Miss Leslie.
Cloth, full gilt back. Price $1.50.

     The Ladies Complete Guide to Needlework and Embroidery. 113
     Illustrations. Cloth, gilt back. Price $1.50.

     Ladies Work Table Book. Plates, cloth, crimson gilt. Price
     $1.25.


FRANCATELLI'S FRENCH COOK.

     Francatelli's Celebrated French Cook Book. The Modern Cook.
     A Practical Guide to the Culinary Art, in all its branches;
     comprising, in addition to English Cookery, the most
     approved and recherché systems of French, Italian, and
     German Cookery; adapted as well for the largest
     establishments, as for the use of private families. By
     CHARLES ELME FRANCATELLI, pupil to the celebrated CAREME,
     and late Maitre-d'Hôtel and Chief Cook to her Majesty, the
     Queen of England. With Sixty-Two Illustrations of various
     dishes. Reprinted from the last London Edition, carefully
     revised and considerably enlarged. Complete in one large
     octavo volume of Six Hundred pages, strongly bound, and
     printed on the finest paper. Price Five Dollars.


J. A. MAITLAND'S GREAT WORKS.

     The Three Cousins. By J. A. Maitland. One vol., paper. Price
     $1.25; or in one vol., cloth, $1.50.

     The Watchman. Complete in one large vol., paper cover. Price
     $1.25; or in one vol., cloth, $1.50.

     The Wanderer. Complete in one volume, paper cover. Price
     $1.25; or in one vol., cloth, for $1.50.

     The Diary of an Old Doctor. One vol., paper cover. Price
     $1.25, or bound in cloth for $1.50.

     The Lawyer's Story. One volume, paper cover. Price $1.25; or
     bound in cloth for $1.50.

     Sartaroe. A Tale of Norway. One vol., paper cover. Price
     $1.25 or in cloth for $1.50.


MRS. DANIELS' GREAT WORKS.

     Marrying for Money. One vol., octavo, paper cover. Price
     fifty cents; or one vol., cloth. Price $1.00.

     The Poor Cousin. Price 50 cents.

     Kate Walsingham. Price 50 cents.


ALEXANDER DUMAS' WORKS.

     Count of Monte-Cristo. By Alexander Dumas. Beautifully
     illustrated. One volume, cloth, $1.50; or paper cover, for
     $1.00.

     The Conscript. One vol., paper cover. Price $1.25.; or in
     one vol., cloth, for $1.50.

     Camille; or the Fate of a Coquette. Only correct Translation
     from the Original French. One volume, paper, price $1.25;
     cloth, $1.50.

     The Three Guardsmen. Price 75 cents, in paper cover, or a
     finer edition in cloth, for $1.50.

     Twenty Years After. A Sequel to the "Three Guardsmen." Price
     75 cents, in paper cover, or a finer edition, in one volume,
     cloth, for $1.50.

     Bragelonne; the Son of Athos: being the continuation of
     "Twenty Years After." Price 75 cents, in paper, or a finer
     edition, in cloth, for $1.50.

     The Iron Mask. Being the continuation of the "Three
     Guardsmen." Two vols., paper cover. Price One Dollar; or in
     one vol., cloth, $1.50.

     Louise La Valliere, or, The Second Series and end of the
     "Iron Mask." Two volumes, paper cover. Price $1.00, or in
     one vol., cloth, $1.50.

     The Memoirs of a Physician. Beautifully Illustrated. Two
     vols., paper cover. Price One Dollar; or bound in one
     volume, cloth, for $1.50.

     The Queen's Necklace. A Sequel to the "Memoirs of a
     Physician." Two vols., paper cover. Price $1.00; or in one
     vol., cloth, for $1.50.

     Six Years Later, or, Taking of the Bastile. A Continuation
     of "The Queen's Necklace." Two vols., paper cover. Price One
     Dollar; or in one vol., cloth, for $1.50.

     Countess of Charny; or, The Fall of the French Monarchy.
     Sequel to Six Years Later. Two vols., paper cover. Price One
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