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Title: For the Major - A Novelette
Author: Woolson, Constance Fenimore, 1840-1894
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "For the Major - A Novelette" ***

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[Illustration: "SARA HAD PREFERRED TO WALK."--[Page 71.]]


A Novelette






Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1883, by


In the Office of the Librarian of Congress, at Washington.

_All rights reserved._


"SARA HAD PREFERRED TO WALK."                            _Frontispiece._

"'HAPPY GIRL,' INTERPOLATED SARA."                _To face p._       8

"HE CAME OFTEN TO THEIR FLOWER GARDEN."                    "        94

HER SIDE."                                                 "       126

"THE LAST LOOK ON EARTH."                                  "       144




Edgerley the first lay on the eastern flank of Chillawassee Mountain;
Edgerley the second six hundred feet above. The first Edgerley, being
nearer the high civilization of the state capital, claimed the name, and
held it; while the second Edgerley was obliged to content itself with an
added "far." Far Edgerley did not object to its adjective so long as it
was not considered as applying especially to the distance between it and
the lower town. It was "far," if you pleased--far from cities, far from
traffic, from Babylon, from Zanzibar, from the Pole--but it was not
"far" from Edgerley. Rather was Edgerley far from it, and--long may she
keep so! Meanwhile Edgerley the first prospered, though rather
plebeianly. She had two thousand inhabitants, cheese factories,
saw-mills, and a stage line across Black Mountain to Tuloa, where
connection was made with a second line, which went eastward to the
railway. An Edgerley merchant, therefore, could reach the capital of his
state in fifty-five hours: what could man want more? The merchants were
of the opinion that they wanted nothing; they fully appreciated their
advantages, and Edgerley. But their neighbors on top of the mountain,
who looked down upon them in more senses than one, did not agree with
them in their opinion; they infinitely preferred their own village,
though it had no factories, no saw-mills, no stage line to Tuloa, and no
necessity for one, and no two thousand inhabitants--hardly, indeed, and
with stretching, a bare thousand. There would seem to have been little
in these lacks upon which to found a pride, if the matter had been
viewed with the eyes of that spirit of progress which generally takes
charge of American towns; but, so far at least, the Spirit of Progress
had not climbed Chillawassee Mountain, and thus Far Edgerley was left to
its prejudiced creed.

The creed was ancient--both towns boasting an ante-Revolutionary
origin--but, though ancient, Madam Carroll of the Farms had been the
first to embody it in a portable phrase; brief (for more words would
have given too much importance to the subject), calmly superior, as a
Carroll phrase should be. Madam Carroll had remarked that Edgerley
seemed to her "commercial." This was excellent. "Commercial!" Nothing
could be better. Whatever Far Edgerley was, it certainly was not that.

Madam Carroll of the Farms, upon a certain evening in May, 1868, was
sitting in her doorway, her eyes fixed upon the dull red line of a road
winding down the mountain opposite. This road was red because it ran
through red clay; and a hopelessly sticky road it was, too, at most
seasons of the year, as the horses of the Tuloa stage line knew to their
cost. But the vehicle now coming through the last fringes of the firs
was not a stage; and it was drawn, also, by two stout mules that
possessed a tenacity of purpose greater even than that of red clay. It
was the carriage of Major Carroll of the Farms, Far Edgerley, and at the
present moment it was bringing home his daughter from the western
terminus of the railway.

A gentleman's carriage drawn by mules might have seemed something of an
anomaly in certain localities farther eastward. But not here. Even
Edgerley regarded this possession of its rival with a respect which
included the mules, or rather, which effaced them in the general aroma
of the whole, an aroma not actual (the actual being that of ancient
leather not unacquainted with decay), but figurative--the aroma of an
undoubted aristocracy. For "the equipage," as it was called, had
belonged to the Carrolls of the Sea Islands, who, in former days of
opulence, had been in the habit of spending their summers at the Farms.
When their distant cousin, the Major, bought the Farms, he bought the
carriage also. This was as well. The Sea Island Carrolls had no longer
any use for a carriage. They had not even mules to draw it, and, as they
lived all the year round now upon one of their Sea Islands, whose only
road through the waste of old cotton-fields was most of the time
overflowed, they had nothing to draw it upon; so the Major could as well
have the benefit of it. This carriage with its mules now came into sight
on the zigzags of the mountain opposite; but it had still to cross the
lower valley, and climb Chillawassee, and night had fallen before the
sound of its wheels was heard on the little bridge over the brook which
crossed what was called Carroll Lane, the grassy avenue which led from
Edgerley Street up the long knoll to Carroll Farms.

"Chew up, Peter! chew up, then. Chew!" Inches, the coachman, said to his
mules: Inches wished to approach the house in good style. The mules,
refusing to entertain this idea, came up to the door on a slow walk.
Inches could, however, let down the steps with a flourish; and this he
proceeded to do by the light of the candle which Madam Carroll had
brought with her to the piazza. The steps came down with a long
clatter. And they had clanked in their imprisonment all the way from
Tuloa. But no one in Far Edgerley would have sacrificed them for such
trifles as these; they were considered to impart an especial dignity to
"the equipage" (which was, indeed, rather high-hung). No other carriage
west of the capital had steps of this kind. It might have been added
that no other carriage east of it had them either. But Chillawassee did
not know this, and went on contentedly admiring. As to the clatter made
when the steps were let down--at the church door, for instance, on
Sunday mornings--did it not announce that the Major and his wife had
arrived, that they were about to enter? And were not people naturally
glad to know this in time? They could be all ready, then, to look.

Upon this occasion the tall girl who had arrived, scarcely touching the
unfolded steps, sprang lightly to the ground, and clasped the waiting
lady in her arms. "Oh, mamma, how glad I am to see you again! But where
is my father?"

"He felt very tired, Sara, and as it is late, he has gone to his room.
He left his love for you. You know we expected you two hours ago."

"It is but little past ten. He must be still awake. Could I not slip in
for a moment, just to speak to him? I would not stay."

"He has been asleep for some time. It would be better not to disturb
him, wouldn't it?"

"If he is asleep--of course," answered Sara Carroll. But her tone was a
disappointed one.

"You will see him in the morning," said the elder lady, leading the way

"But a whole night to wait is so long!"

"You do not intend, I presume, to pass this one in wakefulness?" said
Madam Carroll.

Sara laughed. "Scar, too, is asleep, I suppose?"

"Yes. But Scar you can waken, if you like; he falls asleep again
readily. He is in the first room at the head of the stairs."

The girl flew off, coming back with a bright face. "Dear little fellow!"
she said, "his hands and cheeks are as soft as ever. I am so glad that
he has not grown into a great, rough boy. It is a year and a half since
I have seen him, and he seems exactly the same."

"He is the same," said Madam Carroll. "He does not grow."

"I am delighted to hear it," replied Sara, answering stoutly the
mother's implied regret. And then they both laughed.

Judith Inches, sister of the coachman, now served a light repast for the
traveller in the dining-room. But when it was over, the two ladies came
back to the door-way.

"For I want to look out," Sara said. "I want to be sure that I am really
at home at last; that this is Chillawassee, that the Black Range is
opposite, and that there in the west the long line of Lonely Mountain is
rising against the sky."

"As it is dark, perhaps you could see them as well from a comfortable
chair in the library," suggested Madam Carroll, smiling.

"By no means. They will reveal themselves to me; you will see. I know
just where they all ought to be; I made a map from the descriptions in
your letters."

She had seated herself on the door-step, while Madam Carroll sat in a
low chair within. Outside was a broad piazza; beyond it an old-fashioned
flower-garden going down the slope of the knoll. All the earlier summer
flowers were out, their presence made known in the warm, deep darkness
by perfume only, save for a faint glimmer of white where the snow-ball
bushes stood.

"And so, as I told you, I have decided to give an especial reception,"
said Madam Carroll, returning to a subject begun in the dining-room. "I
shall have it on Monday; from five to eight."

"I am sorry you took the trouble, mamma. It is pleasure enough for me
simply to be at home again."

"My receptions are seldom for pleasure, I think," said Madam Carroll,
thoughtfully. "In this case it seemed proper to announce the fact that
you had returned to us; that Miss Carroll would be henceforth a member
of her father's household at the Farms."

"Happy girl!" interpolated Sara. She was leaning back in the door-way,
her hands clasped behind her head, her eyes looking into the soft
darkness of the garden.

"This was, in my opinion, a not unimportant event," continued Madam
Carroll. "And it will be so estimated in Far Edgerley. There are, you
know, in every society certain little distinctions and--and differences,
which should be properly marked; the home-coming of Miss Carroll is one
of them. You have, without doubt, an appropriate dress?"

"All my gowns are black, of course. There is one I call best; but even
that is severely plain."

[Illustration: "'_HAPPY GIRL_,' INTERPOLATED SARA."]

"On the whole, you will look well in it," answered Madam Carroll, after
a moment's consideration of the figure in the door-way; "and it will
have the added advantage of being a contrast. We have few contrasts in
Far Edgerley, and, I may say, no plainness--no plainness whatever.
Rather, a superabundance of trimming. The motive is good: I should be
the last to underrate it. But even with the best intentions you cannot
always construct new costumes from changes of trimming merely; there
comes a time when the finest skill will not take the place of a
little fresh material, no matter how plain it may be. The Greers, for
instance, have made over their green poplins twice a year now for five
years, and have done it well. But, after all, we remain conscious that
they are still the same green poplins. Miss Corinna Rendlesham, too, and
her sisters, have accomplished wonders with different combinations of
narrow black velvet ribbon and fringe on their black silks--so much so,
indeed, that the material is now quite riddled with the old lines of
needle-holes where trimmings formerly ran. They wear them to church with
Stella shawls," pursued the lady, meditatively; "and to receptions,
turned in at the neck, with white lace."

"Do the other people here give receptions also?" asked Sara, from the

"They would never dream of it," replied the elder lady, with serenity.

But was she the elder? No sign of age was visible in all her little
person from head to foot. She was very small and slight. Her muslin
gown, whose simple gathered waist was belted by a ribbon sash, had a
youthful, almost childlike, aspect, yet at the same time a pretty
quaintness of its own, like that of an old-fashioned miniature. The
effect of this young-old attire was increased by the arrangement of the
hair. It was golden hair, even and fine, and it hung in curls all round
her head--long curls that fell below the waist. These curls were
distinct and complete spirals, each one perfect in itself, not
intertwining with the next; a round stick passed through any one of them
would not have been visible from bottom to top. "Now _that_ is what I
call a curl!" old Senator Ashley was wont to remark. But though this
golden hair curled so definitively when it once began to curl, it lay
smooth and straight as the hair of a nun over the top of the little
head, and came down evenly also over the corners of the forehead, after
that demure old fashion which made of every lady's brow a modest
triangle, unambitious alike of a too intellectual height or a too pagan

What was it that this little _grande dame_, with her curls, her dress,
and her attitudes, resembled? Some persons upon seeing her would have
been haunted by a half-forgotten memory, and would at last (if clever)
have recalled the pictures in the old "Annuals" and "Keepsakes" of fair
ladies of the days of the Hon. Mrs. Norton and L. E. L. The little
mistress of Carroll Farms needed but a scarf and harp, or a gold chain
round her curls, with an ornament reposing classically in the centre of
her forehead, to have taken her place among them. But upon a closer
inspection one difference would have made itself apparent, namely, that
whereas the lovely ladies of the "Annuals" were depicted with shoulders
copiously bare (though much cloth had been expended in sleeves), the
muslin gown of little Madam Carroll came up to her chin, the narrow
ruffles at the top being kept in place by a child's old-fashioned
necklace of coral, which fitted closely over them.

Madam Carroll's eyes were blue, large, and in expression tranquil; her
features were small and delicate, the slender little lips like rose
leaves, the upper one rather long, coming straight down over childlike
teeth of pearl. No; certainly there was no sign of age. Yet it might
have been noticed, also, by an acute observer, how little space, where
such signs would have been likely to appear, was left uncovered: the
tell-tale temples and outside corners of the eyes, the throat, with its
faint, betraying hue, the subtly traitorous back of the neck, the
texture of the wrists and palms, all these were concealed by the veil of
curls and the close ruffles of the dress, the latter falling over the
hands almost to the knuckles. There was really nothing of the actual
woman to be seen save a narrow, curl-shaded portion of forehead and
cheek, two eyes, a little nose and mouth, and the small fingers; that
was all.

But a presence is more than an absence. Absent as were all signs of age
in Madam Carroll, as present were all signs of youth in the daughter who
had just arrived. Sara Carroll was barely twenty. She was tall and
slender; she carried herself well--well, but with a little air of pride.
This air came from the poise of her head: it was as noticeable when one
saw her back only as when one saw her face. It seemed a pride personal,
not objective, belonging to herself, not to her surroundings; one could
imagine her with just the same air on a throne, or walking with a basket
on her arm across a prairie. But while it was evident that she was
proud, it would have been difficult to have stated correctly the nature
of the feeling, since it was equally evident that she cherished none of
the simple little beliefs often seen in girls of her age before contact
with the world has roughly dispelled them--beliefs that they are
especially attractive, beautiful, interesting, winning, and have only to
go forth to conquer. But she herself could have stated the nature of it
confidently enough: she believed that her tastes, her wishes, her ideas,
possessed rather a superior quality of refinement; but far beyond this
did her pride base itself upon the fact that she was her father's
daughter. She had been proud of this from her birth. Her features were
rather irregular, delicate. Ordinarily she had not much color. Her
straight, soft thick hair of dark brown was put plainly back from her
oval face, and this face was marked by the slender line of eyebrows of
the same dusky hue, and lighted by two gray eyes, which were always, in
their fair, clear color, a sort of surprise when the long, dark lashes
were lifted.

"I wonder that you take the trouble," she said, referring to the
proposed reception.

The blue orbs of Madam Carroll dwelt upon her for a moment. "We must
fill our position," she answered. "We did not make it; it has been
allotted to us. Its duties are therefore our duties."

"But are they real duties, mamma? May they not be fictitious ones? If we
should drop them for a while--as an experiment?"

"If we should drop them," answered Madam Carroll--"if we should drop
them, Far Edgerley, socially speaking, would disappear. It would become
a miscellaneous hamlet upon a mountain-top, like any other. It would
dissolve into its component parts, which are, as you know, but ciphers;
we, of the Farms, hold them together, and give them whatever importance
they possess."

"In other words, we, of the Farms, are the large figure One, which,
placed before these poor ciphers, immediately turns them into wealth,"
said Sara, laughing. "Precisely. The receptions are part of it. In
addition, the Major likes them."

Sara's eyes left the soft darkness of the garden, and rested upon the
speaker. "If my father likes them, that is enough. But I thought he did
not; he used to speak of them, when we met at Baltimore, as so

"Wearisome, perhaps; but still duties. And of late--that is, since you
last saw him a year and a half ago--he has come to make of them a sort
of pastime."

"That is so like my father! He always looks above everything narrow and
petty. He can find even in poor little Far Edgerley something of
interest. How glad I am to be at home again, mamma, where I can be with
him all the time! I have never met any one in the world who could
approach my father." She spoke warmly; her gray eyes were full of loving

"He appreciates your affection. Never doubt it, in spite of what may
seem to you an--an increase of reticence," said Madam Carroll.

"Father was never talkative."

"True. But he is more easily fatigued now than formerly--since his
illness of last winter, you know. But it is growing late; I must close
the house."

"Do you do that yourself?"

"Generally. I seldom keep Judith Inches up after half-past nine. And on
ordinary occasions I am in bed myself soon after ten. Your home-coming
is an extraordinary one."

"And extraordinarily glad it makes me," said Sara. "I wonder, mamma, if
you know how glad? I have fairly pined during this last year and a half
at Longfields--yes, in spite of all Uncle John's kindness. Do you think
me heartless?"

"No," said Madam Carroll, as they went up the stairs together. "You
loved your uncle, I know. You did your best to make him happy. But your
father, Sara--your father, you have always adored."

"And I continue to do it," answered the daughter, gayly. "I shall be
down early, early in the morning to see him."

"He does not come to breakfast at present. His strength has not yet
fully returned. I have written you of this."

"Not that he did not come to breakfast, mamma. That is so unlike him; he
was always so cheerful and bright at the breakfast-table. But at least I
can take his breakfast in to him?"

"I think he would rather see you later--about ten, or half-past."

A flush rose in Sara's face: no one would have called her colorless now.
She looked hurt and angry. "Pray, who does take in his breakfast,
then?" she asked. "I should think I might be as welcome as Judith

"I take it," replied Madam Carroll, gently.

"Very well, mamma; I will not begin by being jealous of you?"

"You never have been, my daughter. And I--have appreciated it." Madam
Carroll spoke in low tones: they were approaching the Major's door. She
pointed towards it warningly. "We must not waken him," she said. She led
her daughter in silence to the room she had fitted up for her with much
taste and care. They kissed each other, and separated.

Left alone, Sara Carroll looked round her room. As much had been done to
make it bright as woman's hands, with but a small purse to draw upon,
could accomplish. The toilet-table, the curtains, the low lounge, with
its great, cool, chintz-covered pillows, the hanging shelves, the
easy-chair, the writing-table--all these were miracles of prettiness and
ingenuity. But the person for whom this had been done saw it but
vaguely. She was thinking of only one thing--her father; that he had not
waited to welcome her; that she should not see him until half-past ten
the next morning. What could this mean? If he were ill, should not his
daughter be the first to see him, the first to take care of him? She
had told Madam Carroll that she would not begin the new home life by
being jealous of her. But there was something very like jealousy in the
disappointment which filled her heart as she laid her head upon the
pillow. She had looked forward to her home-coming so long; and now that
she held it in her grasp it was not at all what she had been sure it
would be.

Upon this same Saturday evening, at dusk, light was shining from the
porch and windows of St. John in the Wilderness, the Episcopal church of
Far Edgerley. This light shone brightest from the porch, for there was a
choir rehearsal within, and the four illuminating candles were down by
the door, where stood the organ. Two of the candles illumined the
organist, Miss Rendlesham the second, that is, Miss Millie; the others
lighted the high music-stand, behind which stood the choir in two rows,
the first very crowded, the second looking with some difficulty over the
shoulders of the first at the lighted books which served for both,
little Miss Tappen, indeed, who was short, being obliged to stand on
four unused chant-books, piled. In the front row were the soprani, eight
in number, namely, Miss Rendlesham the elder, and her sister; the three
Misses Greer; Miss Dalley and her two cousins, the Farrens, who were
(which was so interesting) twins. In the back row were the two
contralti, Miss Bolt and the already-mentioned Miss Tappen on her books,
together with the tenor, Mr. Phipps; there, too, was the basso, Mr.
Ferdinand Kenneway, a bachelor of amiable aspect, but the possessor
also, in spite of amiability, of several singularly elusive qualities
which had tried the patience of not a few.

The music-stand, no doubt, was very much too short for this company. But
then it was intended for a quartette only, and had served without
question for four estimable persons during the long, peaceful rectorship
of good old Parson Montgomery, who had but recently passed away. Since
the advent of his successor, the Reverend Frederick Owen, three months
before, the choir had trebled its size without trebling that of the
stand; the result was naturally that which has been described.

The Reverend Frederick Owen was an unmarried man.

St. John in the Wilderness had as its rector's study a little one-story
building standing in the church-yard, not far from the church; on
Saturday evenings the rector was generally there. Upon the present
evening Miss Rendlesham the elder, that is, Miss Corinna, sent the
juvenile organ-blower, Alexander Mann by name, across to this study for
the numbers of the hymns, as usual. But the rector did not return with
Alexander Mann, as usual, bringing the hymns with him: he sent the
numbers, written on a slip of paper. Under these circumstances the choir
began its practising. And its practising was, on the whole, rather
spiritless. That is, in sound, but not in continuance; for, two hours
later, they were still bravely at work. The time had been principally
filled with _Te Deums_. During the past three months the choir had had a
new _Te Deum_ every Sunday--to the discomfiture of Senator Ashley, who
liked to join in "old Jackson's."

This gentleman, who was junior warden, had dropped in, soon after
Alexander Mann's departure with the hymns, to talk over some church
matters with the rector. The church matters finished, he remained a
while longer to talk over matters more secular. The junior warden had a
talent for talking. But this gift (as is often the case with gifts) was
not encouraged at home, Miss Honoria Ashley, his daughter, not being of
a listening disposition. The junior warden was therefore obliged to
carry his talent elsewhere. He was a small old gentleman, lean and
wizened, but active, and even lively, in spite of his age, save for a
harassing little cough, which could, however, end with surprising
adaptation to circumstances in either a chuckle or a groan. The
possessor of this cough wore an old-fashioned dress-coat, with a high
stock and very neat, shining little shoes. He had always in his
button-hole a flower in summer, and in winter a geranium leaf.

The chanting of the choir came through the open windows. "I should think
they would be exhausted over there," he said. "How long do they keep it
up? Ferdinand Kenneway must be voiceless by this time. He has only a
thread of a voice to begin with."

"He sings with unusual correctness, I believe," said the rector.

"Oh, he's _correct_--very! It's his only characteristic. I don't know of
any other, unless you include his health: he lives principally for the
purpose of not taking cold. Your choir is rather predominately feminine
just now, isn't it?" added the old gentleman, slyly.

"Choirs are apt to be, are they not? I mean the volunteer ones. For the
women everywhere come to church far more than the men do. It is one of
the problems with which clergymen of the present day find themselves

"That the women come?"

"That the men do not." The rector spoke gravely. He was but little over
thirty himself, yet he had been obliged more than once to put a mildly
restraining pressure upon the somewhat too active gay-mindedness of his
venerable junior warden.

"What's that thing they're trying now?" said this official, abandoning
his jocularity. "Dull and see-saw it sounds to me; dull and see-saw."

"It's a _Te Deum_ I selected for Trinity Sunday."

"Ah, if _you_ selected it--But it can never equal 'old Jackson's,'
never! That's Sophy Greer on the solo. She can no more do it than a
consumptive hen. But, sir, I'll tell you who can--Sara Carroll. They
expect her home to-night."

"Madam Carroll's daughter?"

"No, the Major's. Madam Carroll is the Major's second wife--didn't you
know that? Sara Carroll, sir, can never hope to equal her step-mother in
beauty, grace, or charm. But she is a fine girl in her way--as indeed
she ought to be: her mother was a Witherspoon-Meredith."

The rector looked unimpressed. The junior warden, seeing this, drew up
his chair. "The Witherspoon-Merediths, Mr. Owen, are one of our oldest
families." (The rector resigned himself.) "When Scarborough Carroll
married the beautiful Sara of that name, a noble pair they were, indeed,
as they stood at the altar. I speak, sir, from knowledge: _I_ was
_there_. Their children--two boys--died, to their great grief. The last
child was this daughter Sara; and the accomplished mother passed away
soon after the little thing's birth. Sir, Major Carroll, your senior
warden, has always been one of our grandest men; in personal appearance,
character, and distinguished services, one of the noblest sons of our
state. Of late he has not, perhaps, been _quite_ what he was physically;
but the change is, in my opinion, entirely due--entirely--to his own
absurd imprudences. For he is still in the prime of life, the very
prime." (Major Carroll was sixty-nine; but as the junior warden was
eighty-five, he naturally considered his colleague still quite a boy.)
"Until lately, however, he has been undeniably, I will not say one of
nature's princes, because I do not believe in them, but one of the
princes of the Carrolls, which is saying a vast deal more. His little
girl has always adored him. He has been, in fact, a man to inspire
admiration. To give you an idea of what I mean: a half-brother of his,
much older than himself, and broken in health, lost, by the failure of a
bank, all he had in the world. He was a married man, with a family.
Carroll, who was at that time a young lieutenant just out of West Point,
immediately shared his own property with this unfortunate relative. He
didn't dole out help, keeping a close watch over its use, or grudgingly
give so much a year, with the constant accompaniment of good advice; he
simply deeded a full half of all he had to his brother, and never spoke
of it again. Forty-five years have passed, and he has never broken this
silence; the brother is dead, and I doubt if the children and
grandchildren who profited by the generous act even know to whom they
are indebted. Such, sir, is the man, chivalrous, unsullied, true. In
1861 he gave his sword to his state, and served with great gallantry
throughout the war. He was twice severely wounded; you may have noticed
that his left arm is stiff. When our Sacred Cause was lost, with the
small remains of his small fortune he purchased this old place called
the Farms, and here, sir, he has come, to pass the remainder of his days
in, as I may well say, the Past--the only country left open to him, as
indeed to many of us." And the old gentleman's cough ended in the groan.

"And Miss Carroll has not been with them here?" asked the rector, giving
the helm of conversation a slight turn from this well-beaten track.

"No, she has not. But there have been good reasons for it. To give you
the causes, I must make a slight detower into retrospect. At a military
post in Alabama, when Sara was about seven years old, the Major met the
lady who is now Madam Carroll; she was then a widow named Morris, with
one child, a little girl. You have seen this lady for yourself, sir, and
know what she is--a domestic angel, yet a very Muse in culture; one of
the loveliest women, one of the most engaging, upon my word, that ever
walked the face of this earth, and honored it with her tread." (The
junior warden spoke with enthusiasm.) "She is of course very much
younger than her husband, _thir_-ty three or four years at the least, I
should say; for Carroll was fifty-six at the time of his second
marriage, though no one would have suspected it. I saw Madam Carroll
very soon afterwards, and she could not have been then more than twenty
one or two; a little fairy-like girl-mother. She must have been married
the first time when not more than sixteen. Later they had a son, the boy
you know, who is now, save Sara, the only child."

"Ah, I see; I understand," said the rector.

But the junior warden did not; his understanding was that there was more
to tell. He drew up his chair again. "Sara Carroll, sir, is a remarkable
girl." (The rector again resigned himself.) "She is, as I may say,
one-ideaed. By that I mean that she has had from childhood one feeling
so predominant that she has fairly seemed to have but the one, which is
her devotion to her father. She had scarcely been separated from him
(save, as it happens, during the very summer when he met and married the
present Madam Carroll) until she was a tall girl of thirteen. This was
in 1861. At that time, before the beginning of actual hostilities, her
uncle, John Chase--he had married her mother's sister--offered to take
her and have her educated with his own daughter Euphemia during the
continuance of the troubled times. For John Chase had always been very
fond of the little Sara; he fancied that she was like his wife. And,
cold New-Englander though he was, he had worshipped his wife (she was
Juliet Witherspoon-Meredith), and seemed to be always thinking of her,
though she had been dead many years. The Major at first refused. But
Madam Carroll, with her exquisite perception, perfect judgment, and
beautiful goodness" (the junior warden always spoke in at least triplets
of admiration when he mentioned the Major's wife), "explained to him the
benefit it would be to Sara. Her own lot was cast with his; she would
not have it otherwise; but in the wandering life she expected to lead,
following his fortunes through the armed South, what advantages in the
way of education should she be able to secure for his little daughter,
who was now of an age to need them? Whereas her uncle, who was very fond
of her, would give her many. The Major at last yielded. And then Sara
was told. Well as they knew her, I think they were both alarmed at the
intensity of her grief. But when the poor child saw how it was
distressing her father, she controlled it, or rather the expression of
it; and to me her self-control was more touching even than her tears had
been, for one could see that her innocent heart was breaking. The
parting was a most pathetic sight--her white cheeks, silence, and
loving, despairing eyes, that never left her father's face--I don't know
when I have been more affected. For I speak from personal remembrance,
sir: _I_ was _there_. Well, that little girl did not see her father
again for four long years. She lived during that time with her uncle at
Longfields--one of those villages of New England with still, elm-shaded,
conscientious streets, silent white houses, the green blinds all closed
across their broad fronts, yet the whole pervaded too, in spite of this
quietude, by an atmosphere of general, unresting _interrogativeness_,
which is, as I may say, sir, _strangling_ to the unaccustomed throat. I
speak from personal remembrance; I have been _personally_ there."

"I do not think there is now as much of--of the atmosphere you mention,
as there once was," said the rector, smiling.

"Perhaps not, perhaps not. But when I was there you breathed it in every
time you opened your mouth--like powdered alum. But to ree-vee-nir (I
presume you are familiar with the French expression). In those four
years Sara Carroll grew to womanhood; but she did not grow in her
feelings; she remained one-ideaed. Mind you, I do not, while describing
it, mean in the least to commend such an affection as hers; it was
unreasonable, overstrained. I should be very sorry indeed, extremely
sorry, to see my daughter Honoria making such an idol of me."

The rector, who knew Miss Honoria Ashley, her aspect, voice, and the
rules with which she barred off the days of the poor old junior warden,
let his eyes fall upon his well-scrubbed floor (scrubbed twice a week,
under the personal supervision of Mrs. Rendlesham, by the Rendleshaurs
maid-of-all-work, Lucilla).

"But the Ashleys are always of a calm and reasonable temperament, I am
glad to say," pursued the warden, "a temperament that might be
classified as judicial. Honoria is judicial. To ree-vee-nir. Sara was
about seventeen when her father bought this place, called the Farms, and
nothing, I suppose, could have kept her from coming home at that time
but precisely that which did keep her--the serious illness of the uncle
to whom she owed so much. His days were said to be numbered, and he
wanted her constantly beside him. I am inclined to suspect that his own
daughter, Euphemia, while no doubt a highly intellectual person, may not
have a--a natural aptitude for those little tendernesses of voice,
touch, and speech--unprescribed if you like, but most dear--which to a
sick man, sir, are beyond rubies, far beyond." The old man's eyes had a
wistful look as he said this; he had forgotten for the moment his
narrative, and even Miss Honoria; he was thinking of Miss Honoria's
mother, his loving little wife, who had been long in paradise.

He went on with his story, but less briskly. "Sara, therefore, has
remained at Longfields with her uncle. But every six months or so she
has come down as far as Baltimore to meet her father, who has journeyed
northward for the purpose, with Madam Carroll, the expense of these
meetings being gladly borne by John Chase, whose days could not have
been so definitely numbered, after all, as he supposed, since he has
lingered on indefinitely all this time, nearly three years. During the
last year and a half, too, he has been so feeble that Sara could not
leave him, the mere thought of an absence, however short, seeming to
prey upon him. She has not, therefore, seen her father since their last
Baltimore meeting, eighteen months back, as the Major himself has not
been quite well enough to undertake the long journey to Connecticut.
Chase at length died, two months ago, and she has now come home to live.
From what I hear," added the warden, summing up, "I am inclined to think
that she will prove a very fair specimen of a Witherspoon and Meredith,
if not quite a complete Carroll."

"And she could sing the solo for us on Trinity Sunday?" said the rector,
giving the helm a turn towards his anthem.

"She _could_," said the warden, with impartial accent, retreating a
little when he found himself confronted by a date.

"Do you mean if she would?"

"Well, yes. She is rather distant--reserved; I mean, that she seems so
to strangers. You won't find _her_ offering to sing in your choir, or
teach in your Sunday-school, or bring you flowers, or embroider your
book-marks, or make sermon-covers for you, or dust the church, or have
troubles in her mind which require your especial advice; _she_ won't be
going off to distant mission stations on Sunday afternoons, walking
miles over red-clay roads, and jumping brooks, while you go comfortably
on your black horse. She'll be rather a contrast in St. John's just now,
won't she?" And the warden's cough ended in the chuckle.

It was now after ten, and the choir was still practising. Mr. Phipps,
indeed, had proposed going home some time before. But Miss Corinna
Rendlesham having remarked in a general way that she pitied "poor puny
men" whose throats were always "giving out," he knew from that that she
would not go herself nor allow Miss Lucy to go. Now Miss Lucy was the
third Miss Rendlesham, and Mr. Phipps greatly admired her. Ferdinand
Kenneway, wiser than Phipps, made no proposals of any sort (this was
part of his correctness); his voice had been gone for some time, but he
found the places for everybody in the music-books, as usual, and
pretended to be singing, which did quite as well.

"I am convinced that there is some mistake about this second hymn,"
announced Miss Corinna (after a fourth rehearsal of it); "it is the same
one we had only three Sundays ago."

"Four, I think," said Miss Greer, with feeling. For was not this a
reflection upon the rector's memory?

"Oh, very well; if it _is_ four, I will say nothing. I _was_ going to
send Alexander Mann over to the study to find out--supposing it to be
three only--if there might not be some mistake."

At this all the other ladies looked reproachfully at Miss Greer.

She murmured, "But your fine powers of remembrance, dear Miss Corinna,
are _far_ better than mine."

Miss Corinna accepted this; and sent Alexander Mann on his errand.
Ferdinand Kenneway, in the dusk of the back row, smiled to himself,
thinly; but as nature had made him thin, especially about the cheeks, he
was not able to smile in a richer way.

During the organ-boy's absence the choir rested. The voices of the
ladies were, in fact, a little husky.

"No, it's all right; that's the hymn he meaned," said Alexander Mann,
returning. "An' I ast him if he weern't coming over ter-night, an' he
says, 'Oh yes!' says he, an' he get up. Old Senator Ashley's theer, an'
_he_ get up too. So I reckon the parson's comin', ladies." And Alexander
smiled cheerfully on the row of bonnets as he went across to his box
beside the organ.

But Miss Corinna stopped him on the way. "What could have possessed you
to ask questions of your rector in that inquisitive manner, Alexander
Mann?" she said, surveying him. "It was a piece of great impertinence.
What are his intentions or his non-intentions to you, pray?"

"Well, Miss Corinna, it's orful late, an' I've blowed an' blowed till
I'm clean blowed out. An' I knewed that as long as the parson stayed on
over theer, you'd all--"

"All what?" demanded Miss Corinna, severely.

But Alexander, frightened by her tone, retreated to his box.

"Never mind him, dear Miss Corinna," said little Miss Tappen, from
behind; "he's but a poor motherless orphan."

"Perhaps he is, and perhaps he is _not_" said Miss Corinna. "But in any
case he must finish his sentence: propriety requires it. Speak up, then,
Alexander Mann."

"I'll stand by you, Sandy," said Mr. Phipps, humorously.

"You said," pursued Miss Corinna, addressing the box, since Alexander
was now well hidden within it--"you said that as long as the rector
remained in his study, you knew--"

"I knewed you'd all hang on here," said Alexander, shrilly, driven to
desperation, but safely invisible within his wooden retreat.

"Does he mean anything by this?" asked Miss Corinna, turning to the

"I am sure we have not remained a moment beyond our usual time," said
Miss Greer, with dignity.

"I ask you, does he _mean_ anything?" repeated Miss Corinna, sternly.

"Oh, dear Miss Corinna, I am sure he has no meaning at all--none
whatever. He never has," said good-natured little Miss Tappen, from her
piled chant-books. "And he weeds flower-beds _so_ well!"

Here voices becoming audible outside, the ladies stopped; a moment later
the rector entered. His junior warden was not with him. Having
recollected suddenly the probable expression upon Miss Honoria's face at
this hour, the junior warden had said good-night, paced down the knoll
and up Edgerley Street with his usual careful little step until the safe
seclusion of Ashley Lane was reached, when, laying aside his dignity, he
took its even moonlit centre, and ran, or rather trotted, as fast as he
could up its winding ascent to his own barred front door, where Miss
Honoria let him in, candle in hand, and on her head the ominous cap
(frilled) which was with her the expression of the hour. For Miss
Honoria always arranged her hair for the night and put on this cap at
ten precisely; thus crowned, and wrapped in a singularly depressing gray
shawl, she was accustomed to wait for the gay junior warden, when (as
had at present happened) he had forgotten her wishes and the excellent
clock on her mantel that struck the hours. Meanwhile the rector was
speaking to his choir about the selections for Trinity Sunday. He
addressed Miss Corinna. At rehearsals he generally addressed Miss
Corinna. This was partly due to her martial aspect, which made her seem
the natural leader far more than Phipps or Kenneway, but principally
because, being well over fifty, she was no longer troubled by the
flutter of embarrassment with which the other ladies seemed to be
oppressed whenever he happened to speak to them--timid young things as
they were, all of them under thirty-five.

Miss Corinna responded firmly. The other ladies maintained a gently
listening silence. At length the rector, having finished all he had to
say, glanced at his watch. "Isn't it rather late?" he said.

And they were all surprised to find how late it was.

Like a covey of birds rising, they emerged from the pen made by the
music-stand and organ, and moved in a modest group towards the door. The
rector remained behind for a moment to speak to Bell-ringer Flower. When
he came out, they were still fluttering about the steps and down the
front path towards the gate. "I believe our roads are the same," he

As indeed they were: there was but one road in Far Edgerley. This was
called Edgerley Street, and all the grassy lanes that led to people's
residences turned off from and came back to it, going nowhere else.
There were advantages in this. Some persons had lately felt that they
had not sufficiently appreciated this excellent plan for a town; for if
any friend should happen to be out, paying a visit or taking the air,
sooner or later, with a little patience, one could always meet her (or
him); she (or he), without deliberate climbing of fences, not being
able to escape.

The little company from the church now went down the church knoll
towards this useful street. Far Edgerley was all knolls, almost every
house having one of its own, and crowning it. The rector walked first,
with Miss Corinna; the other ladies followed in a cluster which was
graceful, but somewhat indefinite as to ranks, save where Mr. Phipps had
determinedly placed himself beside Miss Lucy Rendlesham, and thus made
one even rank of two. Ferdinand Kenneway walked by himself a little to
the right of the band; he walked not with any one in particular, but as
general escort for the whole. Ferdinand Kenneway often accompanied Far
Edgerley ladies homeward in this collective way. It was considered
especially safe.

Flower, the bell-ringer, left alone on the church steps, looked after
their departing figures in the moonlight. "A riddler it is," he said to
himself--"a riddler, and a myst'rous one, the way all womenkind feels
itself drawed to parsons. I suppose they jedge anything proper that's
clirrycal." He shook his head, locked the church door, and went across
to close the study.

Flower was a Chillawassee philosopher who had formerly carried the mail
on horseback over Lonely Mountain to Fox Gap. Age having dimmed
somewhat his youthful fires, lessening thereby his interest in natural
history, as exemplified by the bears, wolves, and catamounts that
diversified his route, he had resigned his position, judging it to be "a
little too woodsy," on the whole, for a man of his years. He then
accepted the office of bell-ringer of St. John's, a place which he had
been heard to say conferred a dignity second only to that of mails. He
was very particular about this dignity, and the title of it. "Item," he
said, "that I be not a sexton; for sexton be a slavish name for a
free-born mountaineer. Bell-ringer Flower I be, and Bell-ringer Flower
you may call me."

Now the bell of St. John's was but a small one, suspended rustically,
under a little roof of thatch, from the branch of an old elm near the
church door; to ring it, therefore, was but a slight task. But Flower
made it a weighty one by his attitude and manner as he stood on Sunday
mornings, rope in hand, hat off, and eyes devotionally closed, beside
his leafy belfry, bringing out with majestic pull the one little silver

He now re-arranged the chairs in the study, and came upon a framed motto
surrounded by rosebuds in worsted-work, a fresh contribution to the
rector's walls from the second Miss Greer. "Talk about the mil'try--my!
they're nothing to 'em--nothing to these unmarried reverints!" he said
to himself, as he surveyed this new memento. He hung it on the wall,
where there was already quite a frieze of charming embroidery in the way
of texts and woollen flowers. "Item--however, very few of them _is_
unmarried. Undoubted they be drove to it early, in self-defence."


"You are a little tired, Major?"

"Possibly. Somewhat. Sara has been reading aloud to me from the
_Review_. She read all the long articles."

"Ah--she does not know how that tires you. I must tell her. She does not
appreciate--she is still so young, you know--that with your extensive
reading, your knowledge of public affairs and the world at large, you
can generally anticipate, after the first few sentences, all that can be

The Major did not deny this statement of his resources.

"I am going to the village for an hour or two," continued Madam Carroll;
"I shall take Sara with me." (Here the Major's face seemed to evince a
certain relief.) "We must call upon Miss Honoria Ashley. And also at
Chapultepec, upon Mrs. Hibbard."

"Yes, yes--widow of General Hibbard, of the Mexican War," said the
Major, half to himself.

"I do not pay many visits, as you know, Major; our position does not
require it. We open our house--that is enough; our friends come to us;
they do not expect us to go to them. But I make an exception in the case
of Mrs. Hibbard and of Miss Ashley, as you have advised me to do; for
the Ashleys are connected with the Carrolls by marriage, though the tie
is remote, and Mrs. Hibbard's mother was a Witherspoon. I know you wish
Sara to understand and recognize these little distinctions and

"Certainly. Very proper," said the Major.

"We shall be gone an hour and a half, perhaps two hours. I will send
Scar to you for his lessons; and I shall tell Judith Inches to allow no
one to disturb you, not even to knock at this door. For Scar's lessons
are important, Major."

"Yes, very important--very."

"Good-bye, then," said his wife, cheerfully, resting her hand on his
shoulder for a moment, as she stood beside his chair. The Major drew the
slender hand forward to his gray moustache.

"Fie, Major! you spoil me," said the little woman, laughing.

She left the room, making, with her light dress and long curls, a pretty
picture at the door, as she turned to give him over her shoulder a
farewell nod and smile. The Major kept on looking at the closed door
for several minutes after she had gone.

Not long after this the same door opened, and a little boy came in; his
step was so light and his movements so careful that he made no sound. He
closed the door, and laid the book he had brought with him upon a table.
He was a small, frail child, with a serious face and large blue eyes;
his flaxen hair, thin and fine, hung in soft, scanty waves round his
little throat--a throat which seemed too small for his well-developed
head, yet quite large enough for his short, puny body. He was dressed in
a blue jacket, with an embroidered white collar reaching to the
shoulders, and ruffles of the same embroidery at the knee, where his
short trousers ended. A blue ribbon tied his collar, and his slender
little legs and feet were incased in long white stockings and low
slippers, such as are worn by little girls. His whole costume, indeed,
had an air of effeminacy; but he was such a delicate-looking little
fellow that it was not noticeable. From a woman's point of view, he was
prettily dressed.

He crossed the room, opened a closet door, and took from a shelf two
boxes, which he carried to the table, making a separate journey with
each. He arranged these systematically, the book in the centre, a box on
each side; then he pushed the table over the carpet towards the Major's
chair. The table was narrow and light, and made no sound. He moved
onward slowly, his hands, widely apart, grasping its top, and he paused
several times to peer round the corner of it so as to bring it up within
an inch of the Major's feet, yet not to touch them. This accomplished,
he surveyed the position gravely. Satisfied with it, he next brought up
a chair for himself, which, while not the ordinary high-chair of a
child, seemed yet to have been made especially for him on account of his
low stature. He drew this chair close to the table on the opposite side,
climbed into it, and then, when all was prepared, he spoke. "I am quite
ready now, papa, if you please." His slender little voice was clear and
even, like his mother's; his words followed each other with slow

The Major woke, or, if he had not been asleep, opened his eyes. "Ah,
little Scar," he said, "you here?" And he patted the child's hand
caressingly. Scar opened his book; then one of the boxes, which
contained white blocks with large red letters painted upon them. He read
aloud from the book a sentence, once, twice. Then he proceeded to make
it from memory with the blocks on the table, working slowly, and
choosing each letter with thoughtful deliberation.

"Good--blood--can--not--lie," he read aloud from his row of letters when
the sentence was completed. "I think that is right. Your turn, papa."

And then the Major, with almost equal slowness, formed, after Scar had
read it, the following adage: "A brave father makes a brave son."
"That's you and I, Scar."

"Yes, papa. And this is the next:
--with--the--saints--we--trust.' That is too long for one. We will call
it three."

Father and little son completed in this slow way eight of the sentences
the little book contained. It was a small, flat volume in manuscript,
the letters clearly printed with pen and ink. The Major's wife had
prepared it, "from the Major's dictation," she said. "A collection of
the fine old sayings of the world, which he greatly admires, and which
he thinks should form part of the preliminary education of our son."

"Eight. The lesson is finished, papa," said Scar. "If you think I have
done sufficiently well, I may now amuse myself with my dominoes." As he
spoke he replaced the letters in their box, put on the cover, and laid
the manuscript book on the top. Then he drew forward the second box, and
took out his dominoes. He played by himself, one hand against the
other. "You will remember, papa, that my right hand I call Bayard and my
left Roland."

"Yes," answered the Major, looking on with interest.

Roland won the first game. Then the second. "The poor chevalier seems to
have no luck to-day. I must help him a little," said the Major. And he
and Scar played a third game.

While they were thus engaged, with Bayard's fortunes not much improved
as yet, the door opened, and Sara Carroll came in. The Major was sitting
with his spectacles on and head bent forward, in order to read the
numbers on the dominoes; his hand, poised over the game while he
considered his choice, had the shrivelled appearance, with the veins
prominent on the back, which more than anything else betrays the first
feebleness of old age. As his daughter came in he looked up, first
through his spectacles, then, dropping his head a little, over them,
after the peering fashion of old men. But the instant he recognized her
his manner, attitude, even his whole appearance, changed, as if by
magic; his spectacles were off; he had straightened himself, and risen.
"Ah! you have returned?" he said. "Scar had his lessons so well that I
have permitted him to amuse himself with his dominoes for a while, as
you see. You are back rather sooner than you expected, aren't you?"

"We had to postpone our visit to Mrs. Hibbard," said Sara.

The Major's lips formed, "of the Mexican War;" but he did not utter the
syllables aloud, and immediately thereafter seemed to take himself more
vigorously in hand, as it were. He walked to the hearth-rug, and took up
a position there with his shoulders back, his head erect, and one hand
in the breast of his frock-coat. "It is quite proper that you should go
to see those two ladies, my daughter; the Ashleys are connected with the
Carrolls by marriage, though the tie is a remote one, and the mother of
Mrs.--Mrs.--the other lady you were mentioning; her name has just
escaped me--"

"Hibbard," said Sara.

"Yes, Mrs. Hibbard of the Mex--I mean, that Mrs. Hibbard's mother was a
Witherspoon. It is right that you should recognize these--ah, these
little distinctions and differences." He brought out the last words in
full, round tones. The Major's voice had always been a fine one.

He was a handsome, soldierly-looking man, tall, broad-shouldered, with
noble bearing, and bold, well-cut features. He was dressed in black,
with broad, stiff, freshly starched white cuffs, and a high standing
collar, round which was folded a black silk cravat that when opened was
three-quarters of a yard square. His thin gray hair, moustache, and
imperial were cut after the fashion affected by the senior officers of
the old army--the army before the war.

"They are not especially interesting in themselves, those two ladies,"
remarked his daughter, taking off her little black bonnet. "Miss Honoria
cares more about one's shoes--whether or not they are dusty enough to
injure her oiled floors--than about one's self; and Mrs. Hibbard talks
all the time about her ducks."

"True, quite true. Those ducks are extremely tiresome. I have had to
hear a great deal about them myself," said the Major, in an injured
tone, forgetting for a moment his military attitude. "What do I know of
ducks? Yet she _will_ talk about them."

"Why should you listen?" said Sara, drawing off her gloves.

"Ah, we must not forget that her mother was a Mex--I mean, a
Witherspoon. It is not necessary for us, for you, to pay many visits, my
daughter; our position does not require it. We--ah--we open our house;
that is enough; our friends come to us; they do not expect us to go to

Sara was now taking off her mantle; he watched to see whether she would
keep it or put it down. She threw it over her arm, and she also took up
her bonnet and gloves. "You will let me come back and read to you,

"Thank you, my dear; but it is not necessary. I have still another of
Scar's lessons to attend to, and Scar's lessons are important, very
important. There are, besides, various other little things which may
require my attention. In short, my--ah--mornings are at present quite
filled. Besides, reading aloud is very fatiguing, very; and I do not
wish you to fatigue yourself on my account."

"Nothing I was doing for you could fatigue me, father. You don't know
how I have longed to be at home again so that I _could_ do something for
you." She spoke warmly.

The Major looked perturbed. He coughed, and glanced helplessly towards
the door. As if in answer to his look, the door at that moment opened,
and his wife came in.

"Mr. Owen is in the drawing-room, Sara," she said. "Will you go in and
see him, please? I will follow you in a moment. I met him on his way
here, and offered him your vacant place in the carriage."

"He comes rather often, doesn't he?" said Sara, her eyes still on her
father's face.

"Yes, he comes often. But it is natural that he should wish to come. As
the Major has observed before this, the rector of St. John's must
always rely for his most congenial society, as well as for something of
guidance, too, upon Carroll Farms."

"Certainly," said the Major. "I have often made the remark."

"I suppose he comes more especially to see you, father," Sara said.

"Mr. Owen knows that he must not expect to see the Major in the
morning," said Madam Carroll. "The Major's mornings are always occupied,
and he prefers not to be interrupted. In fact, it is not Mr. Owen, but
you and I, Sara, who have been the chief sinners in this respect of
late; we must amend our ways. But come, you should not keep the rector
waiting too long, or he will think that your Northern education has
relaxed the perfection of your Carroll manners."

She took her daughter's arm, and they left the room together. But only a
few minutes had elapsed when the little wife returned. "Go get your
father's glass of milk, my pet," she said to Scar.

The boy climbed down from his place at the table, and left the room with
his noiseless step. The Major was leaning back in his easy-chair, with
his eyes closed; he looked tired.

"We went to the Ashleys'," said his wife, taking a seat beside him. "But
there we learned that Mrs. Hibbard was confined to her bed by an attack
of rheumatism, brought on, they think, by her having remained too long
in the duck-yard; and so we were obliged to postpone our visit to
Chapultepec. I then decided to take the time for some necessary
household purchases, and as Sara knows as yet but little of my method of
purchasing, I arranged to leave her at Miss Dalley's (Miss Dalley has
been so anxious to talk over Tasso with her, you know), and call for her
on my return. But she must have soon tired of Miss Dalley, for she did
not wait; she walked home alone."

"Yes, she came in here. She has been here a long time," answered the
Major. Then he opened his eyes. "It was in the midst of Scar's lessons,"
he said, as if explaining.

"Ah, I see. That must not happen again. She will at once
understand--that is, when I explain it--that Scar's lessons should not
be interrupted. She is very fond of Scar. You will have your lunch in
here to-day, won't you, Major? I think it would be better. It is
Saturday, you know, and on Saturdays we all rest before the duties of
Sunday--duties which, in your case especially, are so important."

But the Major seemed dejected. "I don't know about that--about their
being so important," he answered. "Ashley is always there."

"Oh, Major! Major! the idea of your comparing yourself with Godfrey
Ashley! He is all very well in his way--I do not deny that; but he is
not and never can be _you_. Why, St. John's would not know itself, it
would not be St. John's, if you were not there to carry round the plate
on Sunday mornings. And everybody would say the same." She laid her hand
on his forehead, not with a light, uncertain touch, but with that even
pressure which is grateful to a tired head. The Major seemed soothed; he
did not open his eyes, but he bent his head forward a little so that his
forehead could rest against her hand. Thus they remained for several
minutes. Then Scar came back, bringing a glass of milk, with the thick
cream on it; he placed this on the table beside his father, climbed into
his chair, and went on with his game, Bayard against Roland. The Major
took the glass and began to sip the milk, at first critically, then
appreciatively; he had the air of a connoisseur over a glass of old
wine. "How is it this morning?" asked Madam Carroll, with interest. And
she listened to his opinion, delivered at some length.

"I must go now," she said, rising; "Sara will be expecting me in the

She had taken off her gypsy hat and gloves, and put on a little white
apron with blue bows on the pockets. As she crossed the room towards
the door, with her bunch of household keys at her belt, she looked more
like a school-girl playing at housekeeping than the wife of a man of the
Major's age (or, indeed, of a man much younger than the Major), and the
mother of Scar. But this was one of the charms among the many possessed
by this little lady--she was so young and small and fair, and yet at the
same time in other ways so fully "Madam Carroll" of "The Farms."

The Reverend Mr. Owen thought of this as she entered the drawing-room.
He had thought of it before. The Reverend Mr. Owen greatly admired Madam

When he had paid his visit and gone, Sara Carroll went up-stairs to her
own room. She had her mantle on her arm, her bonnet in her hand, for she
had not taken the trouble to go to her room before receiving his visit,
as Madam Carroll had taken it: Madam Carroll always took trouble.

Half an hour later there was a tap upon her door, and her step-mother,
having first waited for permission, entered. Sara had taken the seat
which happened to be nearest the entrance, an old, uncomfortable ottoman
without a back, and she still held her bonnet and mantle, apparently
unconscious that she had them; the blinds had not been closed, and the
room was full of the noon sunshine, which struck glaringly against the
freshly whitewashed walls. Madam Carroll took in the whole--the listless
attitude, the forgotten mantle, the open blinds, the nearest chair. She
drew the blinds together, making a cool, green shade in place of the
white light; then she took the bonnet and mantle from the girl's passive
hand, folded the mantle, and placed the two carefully in the closet
where they belonged.

"I can do that. You must not give yourself trouble about my things,
mamma," Sara said.

"It is no trouble, but a pleasure. I am so glad to see other feminine
things about the house; mine have so long been the only ones--for I
suppose we can hardly count the neuter gowns of Judith Inches. Don't you
like the easy-chair Caleb and I made for you?"

"It is very nice. I like it very much."

"But not enough to sit in it," said Madam Carroll, smiling.

"I really did not notice where I was sitting," said the girl, getting
up; "I almost always sit in the easy-chair. But won't you take it
yourself, mamma?"

"I would rather see you in it," answered Madam Carroll. "Besides, it is
too deep for me; there is some difference in our lengths." She seated
herself in a low chair, and looked at the long, lithe shape of Sara,
opposite, her head thrown back, her slender feet out, her arms extended
on the broad arms of the cushioned seat.

Sara, too, looked at herself. "I am afraid I loll," she said.

"Be thankful that you can," answered the smaller lady; "it is a most
refreshing thing to do now and then. Short-backed women cannot loll. And
then people say, 'Oh, _she_ never rests! _she_ never leans back and
looks comfortable!' when how can she? It is a matter of vertebræ, and we
do not make our own, I suppose. You did not stay long at Miss Dalley's.
Didn't you find her agreeable?"

"She might have been--unaccompanied by Tasso."

Madam Carroll laughed. "He is her most intimate friend. She has quite
taken him to her heart. She has been so anxious to see you, because you
were acquainted with him in his own tongue, whereas she has been obliged
to content herself with translations. She has a leaf from his favorite
tree, and a small piece of cloth from his coat--or was it a toga? But
no, of course not; doublet and hose, and those delightful lace ruffles
which are such a loss to society. These valuable relics she keeps
framed. It is really most interesting."

"I never cared much for Tasso," said Sara, indifferently.

"That is because you have had a large variety to choose from, reading as
you do all the poets in the original, from Homer down to--to our sad but
fascinating Lamartine," answered Madam Carroll, looking consideringly
about the room, and finally staying her glance at the toilet-table, upon
which she had expended much time and care. "But our poor Miss Dalley's
life has been harshly narrowed down, narrowed, I may say, to Tasso
alone. For all their small property was swept away by the war, and she
is now obliged to support herself and her mother by dyeing: there is,
fortunately, a good deal of dyeing in Far Edgerley, and so she took it
up. You must have noticed her hands. But we always pretend not to notice
them, because in all other ways she is so lady-like; when she expects to
see any one, she always, and most delicately, wears gloves."

Madam Carroll related this little village history as though she were but
filling an idle moment; but the listener received an impression, none
the less, somewhere down in a secondary consciousness, that she had not
quite done justice to poor Miss Dalley and her aspirations, and that
some time she ought to try to atone for it.

But this secondary consciousness was small: it was small because the
first was so wide and deep, and so filled with trouble--trouble composed
in equal parts of perplexity, disappointment, and grief. She was at
home, and she was not happy. This was a conjunction of conditions which
she had not believed could be possible.

She had never had any disagreements with her father's wife, and she had
been fond of her in a certain way. But the wife had never been to the
daughter more than an adjunct--something added to her father, of
qualifying but not independent importance; a little moon, bright, if you
pleased, and pretty, but still a satellite revolving round its sun. As a
child, she had accepted the new mother upon this basis, because she
could make everything "more pleasant for papa;" and she had gone on
accepting her upon the same basis ever since. Madam Carroll knew this.
She had never quarrelled with it. She and her daughter had filled their
respective positions in entire amity. But now that this daughter had
come home to live, now that she was no longer a school-girl or child,
this was what she had discovered: her father, her idol, had turned from
her, and his wife had gained what his daughter had lost. There could be
no doubt but that he had turned from her; his manner towards her was
entirely changed. He seemed no longer to care to have her with him; he
seemed to avoid her; he was not interested in anything that was
connected with her--he who had formerly been so full of interest; he
never kept up a conversation with her, but let it drop as soon as he
could; he was so--so strange! Although she had now been at home two
weeks, she had scarcely once been alone with him; Madam Carroll had
either been present from the beginning, or she had soon come in; Madam
Carroll had led the conversation, suggested the topics. The Major had
always been fond of his pretty little wife; but he had also been devoted
to his daughter. The change in him she could not understand; it made her
very unhappy. It would have made her more than that--made her wretched
beyond the possibility of concealment--had there not been in it an
element of perplexity; perplexity which bewildered her, which she could
not solve. For, while her own position and her father's regard for her
seemed completely changed, life at the Farms went on day after day upon
the distinct assumption that there was no change, that everything was
precisely as it always had been. This assumption was not only mentioned,
but insisted upon, the Major's wife often alluding with amusement to
what she called their "dear obstinate old ways."

"The Major ties his cravat precisely as he did twenty-five years ago--he
has acknowledged it to me," she said, glancing at him merrily. "We have
the same things for dinner; we wear the same clothes, or others made
exactly like them; we read the same books because we think them so much
better than the new; we discuss the same old topics for the same
prejudiced old reason. We remain so obstinately unchanged that even Time
himself does not remember who we are. Each year when he comes round he
thinks we belong to a younger generation."

The Major always laughed at these sallies of his wife. "You forget, my
dear, my gray hairs," he said.

"Gray hairs are a distinction," answered Madam Carroll, decisively. "And
besides, Major, they're the only sign of age about you; your figure,
your bearing, are as they always were."

And on Sundays, when he carried round the plate at St. John's, and at
his wife's receptions once in two weeks, this was true.

Sara came out of her troubled revery at the sound of Madam Carroll's
voice. This lady was going on with her subject, as her step-daughter had
not spoken.

"Yes, Caroline Dalley is really very intelligent; she is one of the
subscribers for our _Saturday Review_. You know we subscribe for one
copy--about twelve families of our little circle here--and it goes to
all in turn, beginning with the Farms. The Major selected it; the Major
prefers its tone to that of our American journals as they are at
present. Not that he cares for the long articles. With his--his wide
experience, you know, the _long_ articles could only be tiresome; they
weary him greatly."

"I must have tired him, then, this morning; I read some of the long
articles aloud."

"You had forgotten; you have been so long absent. It was very natural, I
am sure. You will soon recall those little things."

"How can I recall what I never knew? No, mamma, it is not that; it is
the--the change. I am perplexed all the time. I don't know what to do."

"It isn't so much what to do as what not to do," replied Madam Carroll,
looking now at the lounge she had designed, and surveying it with her
head a little on one side, so as to take in its perspective. "The Major
has not yet recovered entirely from his illness of last winter, you
know, and his strength cannot be overtaxed. A--a tranquil solitude is
the best thing for him most of the time. I often go out of the room
myself purposely, leaving him alone, or with Scar, whose childish talk,
of course, makes no demand upon his attention; I do this to avoid tiring

"I don't think _you_ ever tire him," said Sara.

The Major's wife glanced at her step-daughter; then she resumed her
consideration of the lounge. "That is because I have been with him so
constantly. I have learned. You will soon learn also. And then we shall
have a very happy little household here at the Farms."

"I doubt it," said the girl, despondently. She paused. "I am afraid I am
a disappointment to my father," she went on, with an effort, but unable
longer to abstain from putting her fear into words--words which should
be in substance, if not in actual form, a question. "I am afraid that as
a woman, no longer a school-girl or child, I am not what he thought I
should be, and therefore whenever I am with him he is oppressed by this.
Each day I see less of him than I did the day before. There seems to be
no time for me, no place. He has just told me that all his mornings
would be occupied; by that he must have meant simply that he did not
want _me_." Tears had come into her eyes as she spoke, but she did not
let them fall.

"You are mistaken," said Madam Carroll, earnestly. Then in her turn she
paused. "I venture to predict that soon, very soon, you will find
yourself indispensable to your father," she added, in her usual tone.

"Never as you are," answered Sara. She spoke with a humility which,
coming from so proud a girl, was touching. For the first time in her
life she was acknowledging her step-mother's superiority.

Madam Carroll rose, came across, and kissed her. "My dear," she said, "a
wife has more opportunities than a daughter can have; that is all. The
Major loves you as much as ever. He is also very proud of you. So proud,
indeed, that he has a great desire to have you proud of him as well; you
always have been extremely proud of him, you know, and he remembers it.
This feeling causes him, perhaps, to make something of--of an effort
when he is with you, an effort to appear in every respect himself, as he
was before his illness--as he was when you last saw him. This effort is
at times fatiguing to him; yet it is probable that he will not
relinquish it while he feels that you are noticing or--or comparing. I
have not spoken of this before, because you have never liked to have me
tell you anything about your father; even as a child you always wanted
to get your knowledge directly from him, not from me. I have never found
fault with this, because I knew that it came from your great love for
him. As I love him too, I have tried to please, or at least not to
displease, his daughter; not to cross her wishes, her ideas; not to seem
to her officious, presuming. Yet at the same time remember that I love
him probably as much as you do. But now that you have asked me, now
that I know you wish me to speak, I will say that if you could remove
all necessity for the effort your father now makes, by placing yourself
so fully upon a lower plane--if I may so express it--that his former
self should not be suggested to him by anything in _you_, in your words,
looks, or manner, you would soon find, I think, that this slight--slight
constraint you have noticed was at an end. In addition, he himself would
be more comfortable. And our dearest wish is of course to make him happy
and comfortable, to keep him so."

As she uttered these sentences quietly, guardedly, Sara had grown very
pale. Her eyes, large and dark with pain, were searching her
step-mother's fair little face. But Madam Carroll's gaze was fixed upon
the window opposite; not until she had brought all her words to a close
did she let it drop upon her daughter. Then the two women looked at each
other. The girl's eyes asked a mute question, a question which the
wife's eyes, seeing that it was an appeal to her closer knowledge, at
length answered--answered bravely and clearly, sympathetically, too, and
with tenderness, but--in the affirmative.

Then the daughter bowed her head, her face hidden in her hands.

Madam Carroll sat down upon the arm of the easy-chair, and drew that
bowed head towards her. No more words were spoken. But now the daughter
understood all. Her perplexity and her trouble were at an end; but they
ended in a grief, as a river ends in the sea--a grief that opened out
all round her, overwhelming the present, and, as it seemed to her then,
the future as well. Madam Carroll said nothing; the bereavement was
there, and the daughter must bear it. No one could save her from her
pain. But the girl knew from this very silence, and the gentle touch of
the hand upon her hair, that all her sorrow was comprehended, her
desolation pitied, understood. For her father had been her idol, her
all; and now he was taken from her. His mind was failing. This was the
bereavement which had fallen upon her heart and life.


AT sunset of the same day Madam Carroll was in her dining-room; she had
changed her dress, and now wore a fresh muslin, with a bunch of violets
in her belt. Sara, coming down the stairs, saw the bright little figure
through the open door; Judith Inches was bringing in the kettle (for
Madam Carroll always made the tea herself), and on the table were one or
two hot dishes of a delicate sort, additions to the usual meal. Sara
recognized in these added dishes the never-failing touch of the
mistress's hand upon the household helm. The four-o'clock dinner had
come and gone, but no summons had been sent to her--that pitiless
summons which in so many households remains inflexible, though stricken
hearts may be longing for solitude, for a respite, however brief, from
the petty duties of the day. Through the long hours of the afternoon
there had been no knock, not so much even as a footstep outside her
door. But now, in the cool of the evening, the one who had thus
protected her seclusion was hoping that she would of her own accord
come down and take again her accustomed place at the family table. Sara
did this. She did more. She had put away the signs of her grief so
completely that, save for an added pallor and the dark half-circle under
her eyes, she was quite herself again. Her soft hair was smooth, her
black dress made less severe by a little white scarf which encircled the
narrow linen collar. Scar was sitting on the bottom stair as she came
down. She put her hand on his head. "Where is papa?" she said.

"Papa is in the library. I think he is not coming out to tea," answered
the child.

"Oh, but we must make him come--the dining-room is so dull without papa.
Let us go and ask him." She took his hand, and they went together to the
library. Madam Carroll, who had heard their words through the open door,
watched them go. She did not interfere. She told Judith Inches to take
back the hot dishes to the kitchen.

The Major was sitting in his easy-chair, looking at the pictures in an
old book. He closed the volume and hastily drew off his spectacles as
his daughter came in. "It has been a beautiful afternoon," he remarked,
speaking promptly and decidedly. "Have you been out? or were you at home
with a book--in your old way? What do you find to read nowadays? I find
almost nothing." And he folded his arms with a critical air.

"I find little that can be compared with the old English authors, the
ones you like," answered his daughter. "The old books are better than
the new."

"So they are, so they are," replied the Major, with satisfaction. "I
have often made the remark myself."

"Now that I am at home again," continued Sara, "I want to look over all
those old books I used to have before I went to Longfields--those that
were called mine. I hope we have them still?"

"Yes," said Scar, in his deliberate little voice, "we have. I read them
now. And the long words I look out in the dictionary."

"It is a very good exercise for him. I suggested it," said the Major.

"I want to see all their old pictures again," pursued Sara. "I know I
shall care a great deal about them; they will be like dear old friends."

"Very natural; I quite understand the feeling," said the Major,
encouragingly. "And as Scar reads the books, perhaps you will find some
of them lying about this very room. Let me see--didn't I have one just
now? Yes, here it is; what was it?" And taking up the volume he had laid
down a moment before, he opened it, and read, or repeated with the air
of reading (for his spectacles were off), "'The Life and Adventures of
Robinson Crusoe and his Servant-man Friday. Defoe. London.'"

Sara came to his side and looked at the title-page. "Yes, that is my
dear old book. I loved it better than any other, excepting, perhaps,
'Good Queen Bertha's Honey-Broth.' I wonder if the old pictures are all

"I think they are," said the Major, turning the leaves. They looked at
one or two together, recalling reminiscences of the days when she used
to talk about them as a child. "You always insisted that this print of
Friday's foot was not of the right shape, and once you even went out in
the garden, took off your shoe and stocking, and made a print in a
flower-bed to show me," said the Major, laughing.

"Let us look them all over after tea, and 'Good Queen Bertha' too," said
Sara. "For Scar and I have come to take you out to tea, father; the
dining-room is so dull without you. Besides, I want you to give me some
peach preserves, and then say, 'No, Sara, not again,' when I ask for
more; and then, after a few minutes, put a large table-spoonful on my
plate with your head turned away, while talking to some one else, as
though unconscious of what you were doing."

Scar laughed over this anecdote, and so did Scar's father. "But perhaps
we shall have no peach preserve," he said, rising.

"We will ask mamma to give us some," answered Sara. She took his arm,
and Scar took his other hand; thus together they entered the

Madam Carroll welcomed them; but placidly, as though the Major's coming
was a matter of course. Since his daughter's return, however, it had not
been a matter of course: first for this reason, then for that, his meals
had almost always been sent to the library. Now he was tired; and now
the dining-room floor might be damp after Judith Inches'
scrubbing-brush; now there was an east wind, and now there was a west;
or else he was not feeling well, and some one might "drop in," in which
case, as the dining-room opened only into the hall, which was wide, like
a room, he should not be able to escape. In actual fact, however, there
was very little "dropping in" at Carroll Farms, unless one should give
that name to the visits of the rector, Mr. Owen. Once in a while, in the
evening, when the weather was decisively pleasant, the junior warden
came to see them. But all their other acquaintances came to the
receptions, made a brief call upon the first Thursday afternoon
following, and that was all. The sweet little mistress of the mansion
had never uttered one syllable upon the subject, yet each member of the
circle of Far Edgerley society knew as well as though it had been
proclaimed through the town by a herald with a silver trumpet emblazoned
with the Carroll arms, that these bimonthly receptions (which were so
delightful) and the brief following call comprised all the visits they
were expected to pay at Carroll Farms. And surely, when one considered
the great pleasure and also improvement derived from these receptions,
the four visits a month at the Farms were worth more than forty times
four visits at any other residence in the village or its neighborhood.
True, Mrs. Hibbard endeavored to maintain an appearance of importance at
her mansion of yellow wood called Chapultepec; but as General Hibbard
(of the Mexican War) had now been dead eight years, and as his old house
had not been opened for so much as the afternoon sewing society since
his departure, its importance, socially considered, existed only in the
imagination of his relict--which was, however, in itself quite a domain.

Judith Inches, tall and serious, now brought back the hot dishes, Madam
Carroll made the tea (with many pretty little motions and attitudes,
which her husband watched), and the meal began. The Major was in
excellent spirits. He told stories of Sara's childhood, her obstinacy,
her never-failing questions. "She came to me once, Scar," he said, "and
announced that Galileo was a humbug. When I asked her why, she said that
there was good King David, who knew all about astronomy long before he
did; for didn't he say, 'the round world, and they that dwell therein'?
We sang it every Sunday. So that proved plain as day that David knew
that the world was round, and that it moved, and all about it, of
course. Yet here was this old Italian taking everything to himself! Just
like Amerigo Vespucci, another old Italian, who had all America named
after himself, leaving poor Columbus, the real discoverer, with nothing
but 'Hail, Columbia!' to show for it. She announced all this
triumphantly and at the top of her voice, from a window; for I was in
the garden. When I told her that the word 'round,' upon which all her
argument had been founded, was not in the original text, you should have
seen how crest-fallen she was. She said she should never sing that chant

Scar laughed over this story. He did not laugh often, but when he did,
it was a happy little sound, which made every one join in it by its
merry glee.

"I am afraid I was a very self-conceited little girl, Scar," his sister

As the meal went on, the Major's manner grew all the time more easy. His
eyes were no longer restless. His old attention returned, too, in a
measure; he kept watch of his wife's plate to ask if she would not have
something more; he remembered that Sara preferred bread to the beat
biscuit, and placed it near her. The meal ended, they went back to the
library. Sara found her old copy of "Good Queen Bertha's Honey-Broth,"
and she and her father looked at the pictures together, as well as at
those of "Robinson Crusoe." Each had its association, a few recalled by
him, but many more by her. After Scar had gone to bed, and the books had
been laid aside, she still sat there talking to him. She talked of her
life at Longfields, telling stories in connection with it--stories not
long--bright and amusing. The Major's wife meanwhile sat near them,
sewing; she sat with her back to the lamp, in order that the light might
fall over her shoulder upon the seam. The light did the work she
assigned to it, but it also took the opportunity to play over her curls
in all sorts of winsome ways, to gleam on her thimble, to glide down her
rosy muslin skirt, and touch her little slipper. She said hardly
anything; but, as they talked on, every now and then she looked up
appreciatively, and smiled. At last she folded up her work, replacing it
in her neat rose-lined work-basket; then she sat still in her low chair,
with her feet on a footstool, listening.

The old clock, with its fierce gilt corsair climbing over a glass rock,
struck ten.

"Bed-time," said Sara, pausing.

"Not for me," observed the Major. "My time for sleep is always brief;
five or six hours are quite enough."

"I remember," said his daughter. And the memory, as a memory, was a true
one. Until recently the Major's sleep had been as he described it. He
had forgotten, or rather he had never been conscious of, the long nights
of twelve or thirteen hours' rest which had now become a necessity to

"I am afraid I am not like you, father. I am very apt to be sleepy about
ten," said Sara. "And I suspect it is the same with mamma."

Madam Carroll did not deny this assertion. The Major, laughing at the
early somnolence of the two ladies, rose to light a candle for his
daughter, in the old way. As she took it, and bent to kiss her
stepmother good-night, Madam Carroll's eyes met hers, full of an
expression which made them bright (ordinarily they were not bright, but
soft); the expression was that of warm congratulation.

The next day dawned fair and cloudless--Trinity Sunday. The mountain
breeze and the warm sun together made an atmosphere fit for a heaven. On
the many knolls of Far Edgerley the tall grass, carrying with it the
slender stalks of the buttercups, was bending and waving merrily; the
red clover, equally abundant, could not join in this dance, because it
had crowded itself so greedily into the desirable fields that all that
its close ranks could do was to undulate a little at the top, like a
swell passing over a pond. Madam Carroll, the Major, and Scar were to
drive to church as usual, in the equipage. Sara had preferred to walk.
She started some time before the hour for service, having a fancy to
stroll under the churchyard pines for a while by herself. These pines
were noble trees; they had belonged to the primitive forest, and had
been left standing along the northern border of the churchyard by the
Carroll who had first given the land for the church a hundred years
before. The ground beneath them was covered with a thick carpet of their
own brown aromatic needles. There were no graves here save one, of an
Indian chief, who slept by himself with his face towards the west, while
all his white brethren on the other side turned their closed eyes
towards the rising sun. It was a beautiful rural God's-acre, stretching
round the church in the old-fashioned way, so that the shadow of the
cross on the spire passed slowly over all the graves, one by one, as the
sun made his journey from the peak of Chillawassee across to Lonely
Mountain, behind whose long soft line he always sank, and generally in
such a blaze of beautiful light that the children of the village grew up
in the vague belief that the edge of the world must be just there, that
there it rounded and went downward into a mysterious golden atmosphere,
in which, some day, when they had wings, they, too, should sport and
float like birds.

Early though it was, Miss Carroll discovered when she entered the church
gate that she was not the first comer; the choir ladies were practising
within, and other ladies of floral if not musical tastes were arranging
mountain laurel in the font and chancel--to the manifest disapproval of
Flower, the disapproval being expressed in the eye he had fixed upon
them, his "mountain eye," as he called his best one. "It be swep, and it
be dustered," he said to himself. "What more do the reasonless female
creatures want?" Miss Carroll had not joined the choir, although the
rector, prompted by his junior warden, had suggested it; Miss Sophia
Greer would, therefore, continue to sing the solos undisturbed. She was
trying one now. And the other ladies were talking. But this music, this
conversation, this arrangement of laurel, and this disapproval of Flower
went on within the church. The new-comer had the churchyard to herself;
she went over to the pines on its northern side, and strolled to and
fro at the edge of the slope, looking at the mountains, whose peaks rose
like a grand amphitheatre all round her against the sky.

Her face was sad, but the bitterness, the revolt, were gone; her eyes
were quiet and sweet. She had accepted her sorrow. It was a great one.
At first it had been overwhelming; for all the brightness of the past
had depended upon her father, all her plans for the present, her hopes
for the future. His help, his comprehension, his dear affection and
interest, had made up all her life, and she did not know how to go on
without them, how to live. Never again could she depend upon him for
guidance, never again have the exquisite happiness of his perfect
sympathy--for he had always understood her, and no one else ever had, or
at least so she thought. She had cared only for him, she had found all
her companionship in him; and now she was left alone.

But after a while Love rose, and turned back this tide. The sharp
personal pain, the bitter loneliness, gave way to a new tenderness for
the stricken man himself. Evidently he was at times partly conscious of
this lethargy which was fettering more and more his mental powers, for
he exerted himself, he tried to remember, he tried to be brighter, to
talk in the old way. And who could tell but that he perceived his
failure to accomplish this? Who could tell, when he was silent so often,
sitting with his eyes on the carpet, that he was not brooding over it
sadly? For a man such as he had been, this must be deep suffering--deep,
even though vague--like the sensation of falling in a dream, falling
from a height, and continuing to fall, without ever reaching bottom.
Probably he did not catch the full reality; it constantly eluded him;
yet every now and then some power of his once fine mind might be awake
long enough to make him conscious of a lack, a something that gave him
pain, he knew not why. As she thought of this, all her heart went out to
him with a loving, protecting tenderness which no words could express;
she forgot her own grief in thinking of his, and her trouble took the
form of a passionate desire to make him happy; to keep even this dim
consciousness always from him, if possible; to shield him from contact
with the thoughtless and unfeeling; to so surround his life with love,
like a wall, that he should never again remember anything of his loss,
never again feel that inarticulate pain, but be like one who has entered
a beautiful, tranquil garden, to leave it no more.

This morning, under the pines, she was thinking of all this, as she
walked slowly to and fro past the Indian's grave. Flower came out to
ring his first bell. His "first bell" was unimportant, made up of
short, business-like notes; he rang it in his working jacket, an old
mountain homespun coat, whose swallow-tails had been cut off, so that it
now existed as a roundabout. But when, twenty minutes later, he issued
forth a second time, he was attired in a coat of thin but shining black,
with butternut trousers and a high pink calico vest. Placing his hat
upon the ground beside him, he took the rope in his hand, made a solemn
grimace or two to get his mouth into position, and then, closing his
eyes, brought out with gravity the first stroke of his "second bell."
His second bell consisted of dignified solo notes, with long pauses
between. Flower's theory was that each of these notes echoed resonantly
through its following pause. But as the bell of St. John's was not one
of size or resonance, he could only make the pauses for the echoes which
should have been there.

As the first note of this second bell sounded from the elm, all the
Episcopal doors of Far Edgerley opened almost simultaneously, and forth
came the congregation, pacing with Sunday step down their respective
front paths, opening their gates, and proceeding decorously towards St.
John's in groups of two or three, or a family party of father, mother,
and children, the father a little in advance. They all arrived in good
season, passed the semi-unconscious Flower ringing his bell, and
entered the church. Next, after an interval, came "clatter," "clatter:"
they knew that "the equipage" was coming up the hill. Then "clank,"
"clank:" the steps were down.

All now turned their heads, but only to the angle which was considered
allowable--less than profile, about a quarter view of the face, with a
side glance from one eye. To them, thus waiting, now entered their
senior warden, freshly dressed, gloved, carrying his hat and his large
prayer-book; and as he walked up the central aisle, a commanding figure,
with noble head, gray hair, and military bearing, he was undoubtedly a
remarkably handsome, distinguished-looking man.

Behind him, but not too near, came the small figures of Madam Carroll
and Scar, the lady in a simple summer costume of lavender muslin, with
many breezy little ruffles, and lavender ribbons on her gypsy hat, the
delicate hues causing the junior warden to exclaim (afterwards) that she
looked like "a hyacinth, sir; a veritable hyacinth!" Scar, in a black
velvet jacket (she had made it for him out of an old cloak), carrying
his little straw hat, held his mother's hand. The Major stopped at his
pew, which was the first, near the chancel; he turned, and stood waiting
ceremoniously for his wife to enter. She passed in with Scar; he
followed, and they took their seats. Then the congregation let its chin
return to a normal straightness, the bell stopped, Alexander Mann (to
use his own expression) "blew up," and Miss Millie began.

Miss Carroll came in a minute or two late. But there was no longer much
curiosity about Miss Carroll. It was feared that she was "cold;" and it
was known that she was "silent;" she had almost no "conversation." Now,
Far Edgerley prided itself upon its conversation. It never spoke of its
domestic affairs in company; light topics of elegant nature were then in
order. Mrs. Greer, for instance, had Horace Walpole's Letters--which
never failed. Other ladies preferred the cultivation of flowers, garden
rock-work, and their bees (they allowed themselves to go as far as bees,
because honey, though of course edible, was so delicate). Mrs.
Rendlesham, who was historical, had made quite a study of the
characteristics of Archbishop Laud. And the Misses Farren were greatly
interested in Egyptian ceramics. Senator Ashley, among many subjects,
had also his favorite; he not infrequently turned his talent for talking
loose upon the Crimean War. This was felt to be rather a modern topic.
But the junior warden was, on the whole, the most modern man they had.
Too modern, some persons thought.


July passed, and August began. Sara Carroll had spent the weeks in
trying to add to her father's comfort, and trying also to alter herself
so fully, when with him, that she should no longer be a burden upon his
expectation, a care upon his mind. In the first of these attempts she
was and could be but an assistant, and a subordinate one, filling the
interstices left by Madam Carroll. For the Major depended more and more
each day upon his little wife. Her remarks always interested him, her
voice he always liked to hear; he liked to know all she was doing, and
where she went, and what people said to her; he liked to look at her;
her bright little gowns and sunny curls pleased his eye, and made him
feel young again, so he said. He had come, too, to have a great pride in
her, and this pride had grown dear to him; it now made one of the
important ingredients of his life. He liked to mention what a fine
education she had had; he liked to say that her mother had been a
"Forster of Forster's Island," and that her father was an Episcopal
clergyman who had "received his education at Oxford." He thought little
Scar had "English traits," and these he enumerated. He had always been a
proud man, and now his pride had centred itself in her. But if his pride
was strong, his affection was stronger; he was always content when she
was in the room, and he never liked to have her long absent. When he was
tired, she knew it; he was not obliged to explain. All his moods she
comprehended; he was not obliged to define them. And when he did appear
in public, at church on Sundays, or at her receptions, it was she upon
whom he relied, who kept herself mentally as well as in person by his
side, acting as quick-witted outrider, warding off possible annoyance,
guiding the conversation towards the track he preferred, guarding his
entrances and exits, so that above all and through all her other duties
and occupations, his ease and his pleasure were always made secure.

Of all this his daughter became aware only by degrees. It went on so
unobtrusively, invisibly almost, that only when she had begun to study
the subject of her father's probable needs in connection with herself,
what she could do to add to his comfort, only then did she comprehend
the importance of these little hourly actions of Madam Carroll,
comprehend what a safeguard they kept all the time round his
tranquillity, how indispensable they were to his happiness. For the
feeling he had had with regard to his daughter extended, though in a
less degree, to all Far Edgerley society; he wished--and it was now his
greatest wish--to appear at his best when any one saw him. And, thanks
to the devotion and tact of his wife, to her watchfulness (which never
seemed to watch), to the unceasing protection she had thrown round his
seclusion, and the quiet but masterly support she gave when he did
appear, no one in the village was as yet aware that any change had come
to the Major, save a somewhat invalid condition, the result of his
illness of the preceding winter.

Sara herself had now learned how much this opinion of the Far Edgerley
public was to her father; he rested on Saturday almost all day in order
to prepare for Sunday, and the same preparation was made before each of
the receptions. At these receptions she could now be of use; she could
take Madam Carroll's place from time to time, stand beside him and keep
other people down to his topics, prevent interruptions and sudden
changes of subject, move with him through the rooms, as, with head erect
and one hand in the breast of his coat, he passed from group to group,
having a few words with each, and so much in the old way that when at
length he retired, excusing himself on account of his health, he left
unbroken the impression which all Far Edgerley cherished, the impression
of his distinguished appearance, charming conversation, and polished,
delightful manners.

During these weeks, the more his daughter had studied him and the ways
to make herself of use to him, even if not a pleasure, the greater had
become her admiration for the little woman who was his wife--who did it
all, and so thoroughly! who did it all, and so tenderly! What she, the
daughter, with all her great love for him, could think out only with
careful effort, the wife divined; what she did with too much
earnestness, the wife did easily, lightly. Her own words when she was
with him were considered, planned; but the wife's talk flowed on as
naturally and brightly as though she had never given a thought to
adapting it to him; yet always was it perfectly adapted. Sara often sat
looking at Madam Carroll, during these days, with a wonder at her own
long blindness; a wonder also that such a woman should have borne always
in silence, and with unfailing gentleness, her step-daughter's moderate
and somewhat patronizing estimate of her. But even while she was
thinking of these things Madam Carroll would perhaps rise and cross the
room, stopping to pat dog Carlo on the rug as she passed, and she would
seem so small and young, her very prettiness so unlike the countenance
and expression one associates with a strong character, that the daughter
would unconsciously fall back into her old opinion of her, always,
however, to emerge from it again hurriedly, remorsefully, almost
reverentially, upon the next example of the exquisite tact, tenderness,
and care with which she surrounded and propped up her husband's broken

But the Major's life was now very comfortable. His daughter, if she had
not as yet succeeded in doing what she did without thought over it, had,
at least, gradually succeeded in relieving him from all feeling of
uneasiness in her society: she now came and went as freely as Scar. She
had made her manner so completely unexpectant and (apparently)
unobservant, she had placed herself so entirely on a line with him as he
was at present, that nothing led him to think of making an effort; he
had forgotten that he had ever made one. She talked to him on local
subjects, generally adding some little comment that amused him; she had
items about the garden and fields or dog Carlo to tell him; but most of
all she talked to him of the past, and led him to talk of it. For the
Major had a much clearer remembrance of his boyhood and youth than he
had of the events of later years, and not only a clearer remembrance,
but a greater interest; he liked to relate his adventures of those
days, and often did it with spirit and zest. He was willing now to have
her present at "Scar's lessons;" she formed sentences in her turn from
the chivalrous little manuscript book, and took part in the game of
dominoes that followed. The Major grew into the habit also of taking an
afternoon walk with her about the grounds--always at a safe distance
from the entrance gate. They went to visit the birds' nests she had
discovered, and count the eggs or fledglings, and he recalled his
boyhood knowledge of birds, which was clear and accurate; they went down
to the pond made by the brook, and sent in dog Carlo for a bath; they
strolled through the orchard to see how the apples were coming on, and
sat for a while on a bench under the patriarch tree. These walks became
very precious to the daughter; her father enjoyed them, enjoyed so much
the summer atmosphere, pure and fresh and high, yet aromatic also with
the scents from the miles of unbroken pine and fir forest round about,
enjoyed so much looking at the mountains, noting the moving bands of
light and shadow cast upon their purple sides as the white clouds sailed
slowly across the sky, that sometimes for an hour at a time he would
almost be his former self again. He knew this when it happened, and it
made him happy. And Sara was so glad to see him happy that she began to
feel, and with surprise, as if she herself too might be really happy
again, happy after all.

This first little beginning of happiness grew and budded like a flower;
for now more and more her father asked for her, wanted her with him; he
took her arm as they walked about the grounds, and she felt as glad and
proud as a child because she was tall enough and strong enough to be of
real use to him. She remembered the desolation of those hours when she
had thought that she should never be of use to him again, should have no
place beside him, should be to him only a care and a dread; thinking of
this, she was very thankfully happy. When she could do something for
him, and he was pleased, it seemed to her almost as if she had never
loved him so much; for, added to her old strong affection, there was now
that deep and sacred tenderness which fills the heart when the person
one loves becomes dependent--trustingly dependent, like a little
child--upon one's hourly thought and care.

The rector of St. John's had continued those visits which Miss Carroll
had criticised as too frequent. When he came he seldom saw his senior
warden; but the non-appearance was sufficiently excused by the state of
the senior warden's health, as well as made up for by the presence of
his wife. For Madam Carroll was charming in her manner to the young
clergyman, always giving him the kind of welcome which made him feel
sure that she was glad to see him, and that she wished him to come
again. As he continued to come, it happened now and then that the
mistress of the house would be engaged, and unable to see him. Perhaps
she was reading to the Major from his _Saturday Review_; and this was
something which no one else could do in the way he liked. She alone knew
how to select the items he cared to hear, and, what was more important,
how to leave the rest unread; she alone knew how to give in a line an
abstract that was clear to him, and how to enliven the whole with gay
little remarks of her own, which, she said, he must allow her--a
diversion for her smaller feminine mind. The Major greatly valued his
_Saturday Review_; he would have been much disturbed if deprived of the
acquaintance it gave him with the events of the day. Not that he enjoyed
listening to it; but when it was done and over for that week, he had the
sensation of satisfaction in duty accomplished which a man feels who has
faced an east wind for several hours without loss of optimism, and
returned home with a double appreciation of his own pleasant library and
bright fire. One's life should not be too personal, too easy; there
should be a calm consideration of public events, a general knowledge of
the outside world--though that outside world, tending as it did at
present too much towards mere utilitarian interests, was not especially
interesting; thus spoke the Major at the receptions (with that week's
_Saturday_ fresh in his memory), as he alluded briefly to the European
news. For they never discussed American news at the receptions; they
never came farther westward, conversationally, than longitude
twenty-five, reckoned, of course, from Greenwich. In 1868 there was a
good deal of this polite oblivion south of the Potomac and Cumberland.

When, therefore, Mr. Owen happened to call at a time when Madam Carroll
was engaged, Miss Carroll was obliged to receive him. She did not
dislike him (which was fortunate; she disliked so many people!), but she
did not care to see him so often, she said. He talked well, she was
aware of that; he had gone over the entire field of general subjects
with the hope, as it seemed, of finding one in which she might be
interested. But as she was interested in nothing but her father, and
would not talk of him now, save conventionally, with any one, he found
her rather unresponsive.

His congregation thought her, in addition, cold. Not a few of them had
mentioned to him this opinion. But there was something in Sara
Carroll's face which seemed to Owen the reverse of cold, though he could
not deny that to him personally she was, if not precisely wintry, at
least as neutral as a late October day, when there is neither sun to
warm nor wind to vivify the gray, still air. Yet he continued to come to
the Farms. His liking for the little mistress of the house was strong
and sincere. He thought her very sweet and winning. He found there, too,
an atmosphere in which he did not have to mount guard over himself and
his possessions--an atmosphere of pleasant welcome and pleasant words,
but both of them unaccompanied by what might have been called, perhaps,
the acquisitiveness which prevailed elsewhere. No one at the Farms
wanted him or anything that was his, that is, wanted it with any
tenacity; his time, his thoughts, his opinions, his approval or
disapproval, his ideas, his advice, his personal sympathy, his especial
daily guidance, his mornings, his evenings, his afternoons, his favorite
books, his sermons in manuscript--all these were considered his own
property, and were not asked for in the large, low-ceilinged
drawing-room where the Major's wife and daughter, one or both, received
him when he came. They received him as an equal (Miss Carroll as a not
especially important one), and not as a superior, a being from another
world; though Madam Carroll always put enough respect for his rector's
position into her manner to make him feel easy about himself and about
coming again.

He continued to come again. And Miss Carroll continued her neutral
manner. The only change, the only expression of feeling which he had
seen in her in all these weeks, was one look in her eyes and a sentence
or two she had uttered, brought out by something he said about her
mother. During one of their first interviews he had spoken of this lady,
expressing, respectfully, his great liking for her, his admiration.
Madame Carroll's daughter had responded briefly, and rather as though
she thought it unnecessary for him to have an opinion, and more than
unnecessary to express one. He had remembered this little passage of
arms, and had said no more. But having met the mistress of the house a
few days before, at a cabin on the outskirts of the town, where a poor
crippled boy had just breathed his last breath of pain, he had been much
touched by the sweet, comprehending, sisterly tenderness of the mother
who was a lady to the mother who was so ignorant, rough-spoken, almost
rough-hearted as well. But, though rough-hearted, she had loved her poor
child as dearly as that other mother loved her little Scar. The other
mother had herself said this to him as they left the cabin together. He
spoke of it to Sara when he made his next visit at the Farms; he could
not help it.

And then a humility he had never seen there before came into her eyes,
and a warmth of tone he had not heard before into her voice.

"My mother's goodness is simply unparalleled," she answered. "You admire
her sincerely; many do. But no one save those who are in the house with
her all the time can comprehend the one hundredth part of her
unselfishness, her energy--which is always so quiet--her tenderness for
others, her constant thought for them."

Frederick Owen was surprised at the pleasure these words gave him. For
they gave him a great pleasure. He felt himself in a glow as she
finished. He thought of this as he walked home. He knew that he admired
Madame Carroll; and he was not without a very pleasant belief, too, that
she had a respect for his opinion, and even an especial respect. Still,
did he care so much to hear her praised?--care so much that it put him
in a glow?

Towards the last of August occurred, on its regular day, one of Madame
Carroll's receptions. To Sara Carroll it was an unusually disagreeable
one. She had never been fond of the receptions at any time, though of
late she had accepted them because they were so much to her father; but
this particular one was odious.

It was odious on account of the presence of a stranger who had appeared
in Far Edgerley three weeks before, a stranger who had made his way into
society there with so much rapidity and success that he had now
penetrated even the exclusive barriers of the Farms. But this
phraseology was Miss Carroll's. In reality, the stranger's "way" had not
been made by any effort of his own, but rather by his manners and
appearance, which were original, and more especially by a gift for which
nature was responsible, not himself. And as to "penetrating the
barriers" of the Farms, he had not shown any especial interest in that
old-fashioned mansion, and now that he was actually there, and at one of
the receptions, too, he seemed not impressed by his good fortune, but
wandered about rather restlessly, and yawned a good deal in corners.
These little ways of his, however, were considered to belong to the
"fantasies of genius;" Madam Carroll herself had so characterized them.

The stranger had, indeed, unlimited genius, if signs of this kind were
to be taken as evidences of it; he interrupted people in the middle of
their sentences; he left them abruptly while they were still talking to
him; he yawned (as has already been mentioned), and not always in
corners; he went to see the persons he fancied, whether they had asked
him to do so or not; he never dreamed of going to see the persons he
did not fancy, no matter how many times they had invited him. He had a
liking for flower-gardens, and had been discovered more than once, soon
after his arrival, sitting in honeysuckle arbors which the owners had
supposed were for their own private enjoyment. When found, he had not
apologized; he had complimented the owners upon their honeysuckles.

Strangers were so rare in Far Edgerley--high, ancient little village in
the mountains, far from railways, unmentioned in guide-books--that this
admirer of flower-gardens was known by sight through all the town before
he had been two days in the place. He was named Dupont, and he was
staying at the village inn, the Washington Hotel--an old red brick
structure, whose sign, a weather-beaten portrait of the Father of his
Country, crowned the top of a thick blue pole set out in the middle of
Edgerley Street. He was apparently about twenty-eight or thirty years of
age, tall, slender, carelessly dressed, yet possessing, too, some
picturesque articles of attire to which Far Edgerley was not accustomed;
notably, low shoes with red silk stockings above them, and a red silk
handkerchief to match the stockings peeping from the breast pocket of
the coat; a cream-colored umbrella lined with red silk; a quantity of
cream-colored gauze wound round a straw hat.

But it was not these articles, remarkable as they were, nor his taste
for opening gates without permission, nor his habit of walking in the
middle of the street, ignoring sidewalks, nor another habit he had of
rising and going out of church just before the sermon--it was none of
these which had given him his privilege of entering "the best society."
The best society had opened its doors to Genius, and to Genius alone.
This genius was of the musical kind. Dupont played and sang his own
compositions. "What," said Madam Carroll, "is genius, if not this?"

Madam Carroll's opinion was followed in Far Edgerley, and Dupont now had
the benefit of it. The Rendleshams invited him to tea; the Greers sang
for him; he was offered the _Saturday Review_; even Mrs. General
Hibbard, joining the gentle tide, invited him to Chapultepec, and when
he came, showed him the duck yard. Miss Honoria Ashley did not yield to
the current. But then Miss Honoria never yielded to anything. Her
father, the junior warden, freely announced (outside his own gate) that
the "singing man" amused him. Mr. Phipps hated him, but that was because
Dupont had shown some interest in Miss Lucy Rendlesham, who was pretty.
Not that they cared much, however, for beauty in Far Edgerley; it was
so much better to be intellectual. Ferdinand Kenneway, when he learned
that the new-comer had been received both at Chapultepec and the Farms,
called at the inn, and left one of his engraved cards--"Mr. F. Kenneway,
Baltimore." He had once lived in Baltimore six months. Dupont made an
excellent caricature of Ferdinand on the back of the card, and never
returned the call. On the whole, the musician had reason to congratulate
himself upon so complete a conquest of Far Edgerley's highest circle.
Only two persons (besides Phipps) in all that circle disliked him. True,
these two disliked him strongly; but they remained only two, and they
were, in public, at least, silent. They were Miss Carroll and the rector
of St. John's.

Perhaps it was but natural that a clergyman should look askance at a man
who always rose and walked out of church at the very moment when he was
preparing to begin his sermon. Miss Carroll, however, had no such
sufficient reason to give for her dislike; when Dupont came to the Farms
he was as respectfully polite to her as he could be in the very small
opportunity she vouchsafed him. He came often to their flower-garden.
She complained of his constant presence. "I am never sure that he is not
there. He is either lying at full length in the shade of the
rhododendrons, or else sitting in the rose arbor, drumming on the

"Very harmless amusements they seem to me," replied Madam Carroll.

"Yes. But why should we be compelled to provide his amusements? I think
that office we might decline."

"You are rather unkind, aren't you? What harm has the poor fellow done
to us?"

"Oh, if you are going to pity him, mamma--"

"Why should not one pity him a little?--a young man who is so alone in
the world, as he tells us he is, not strong in health, and often moody.
Then, too, there is his genius."

"I am tired of his genius. I do not believe in his genius. There is no
power in it. Always a 'little song!' A 'little song!' His little songs
are too sweet; they have no force."

"Do you wish him to shout?"

"I wish him to take himself elsewhere. I am speaking freely, mamma; for
I have noticed that you seem to like him."

"He is a variety--that is the explanation; we have so little variety
here. But I do like him, Sara, or, rather, I like his songs. To me they
are very beautiful."


Nothing more was said on either side. Sara had announced her dislike,
and it had been ignored; her regard for Madam Carroll kept her from
again expressing the feeling.

The present reception was considered an especially delightful one. One
reason for this was that Madam Carroll had altered her hours; instead of
from five to eight, they were now from eight to ten. True, the time was
shorter; but this was compensated for by the change from afternoon to
evening. For choice as had been the tone of elegant culture which had
underlain these social meetings heretofore, there was no doubt but that
they gained in the element of gayety by being deferred to candle-light.
The candles inspired everybody; it was felt to be more festal. The
ladies wore flowers in their hair, and Ferdinand Kenneway came out in
white gloves. The Major, too, had not appeared so well all summer as he
did this evening; every one remarked it. Not that the Major did not
always appear well. "He is, and always has been, the first gentleman of
our state. But to-night, how peculiarly distinguished he looks! His gray
hair but adds to his noble appearance--don't you think so?--his gray
hair and his wounded arm? And dear Madam Carroll, too, when have you
seen her look so bright?"

Thus the ladies. But the daughter of the house, meanwhile, had never
been more silent. To-night she merited, without doubt, their adjective
"cold." She had not been able to be of much use to her father this
evening. During the three quarters of an hour he had given to his guests
Madam Carroll had not left him; together they had gone through the
rooms, exchanging greetings, holding short conversations, inquiring
after the health of the absent. As had been remarked, the little wife
looked very bright. She had more color than usual; her complexion had
never had, they said, a more exquisite bloom. She was dressed in white,
with a large bunch of pink roses fastened in her belt, and as she stood
by the side of her tall, gray-haired husband she looked, the junior
warden declared, like "a Hebe." And then he carefully explained that he
meant an American Hebe of delicate outlines, and not the Hebe of the
ancient Greeks--"who always weighed two hundred."

The American Hebe talked with much animation; Far Edgerley admired her
more than ever. After the Major had retired she was even gay; the junior
warden having lost the spray of sweet-pea from his button-hole, with
charming sportiveness she called him to her and replaced it with one of
her pink roses.

Meanwhile Mr. Dupont was conducting himself after his usual fantasied
fashion. He strolled about and leaned against the walls--a thing never
done in Far Edgerley, on account of the paper; he stared at the
head-dress of Mrs. General Hibbard, an impressive edifice of black lace
and bugles; he talked a little to Miss Lucy Rendlesham, to the rage of
Phipps; he turned his back on F. Kenneway; and he laughed at the
poetical quotations of Mrs. Greer. And then he made no less than six
profound bows before Miss Corinna, the dignified leader of St. John's

He bowed whenever he met her, stopping especially for the purpose,
drawing his feet together, and bending his head and body to an angle
heretofore unwitnessed in that community. Miss Corinna, in chaste black
silk, became at last, martial though she was, disconcerted by this
extreme respect. She could not return it properly, because, most
unfortunately, as she had always thought, the days of the courtesy, the
only stately salutation for a lady, were gone by. She bowed as
majestically as she could. But when it came to the seventh time, she
said to her second sister, "Really, Camilla, his attentions are becoming
too pressing. Let us retire." So they retired--to the wall. But even
here they were not secure, Dupont discovering their retreat, and coming
by expressly every now and then to bestow upon the stately maiden
another salute.

Towards the end of the evening--or rather, of the reception--he sang,
accompanying himself upon the guitar. His guitar had a long loop of red
ribbon attached to it; Miss Carroll surveyed it and its owner with
coldest eye, as, seated upon a low ottoman in the centre of the room, he
began what she had called his "little songs." His songs were, in truth,
always brief; but they were not entirely valueless, in spite of her
prejudice against them. They had a character of their own. Sometimes
they contained minor strains too old for Far Edgerley to remember, the
wild, soft, plaintive cadences of the Indian women of tribes long gone
towards the setting sun, of the first African slaves poling their
flatboats along the Southern rivers. And sometimes they were love-songs,
of a style far too modern for the little, old-fashioned town to
comprehend. Dupont's voice was a tenor, not powerful, but deliciously,
sensuously sweet. As he sat there singing, with his large, bold dark
eyes roving about the room, with his slender dark fingers touching the
strings, with his black moustache, waxed at the ends, the gleam of his
red handkerchief, and the red flower in his coat, he seemed to some of
the ladies present romantically handsome. To Sara Carroll he seemed a
living impertinence.

What right had this person of unknown antecedents, position, and
character to be posturing there before them?--to be admitted at all to
the house of her father? And then her eyes happened to fall upon her
father's wife, who, in the chair nearest the musician, was listening to
him with noticeable enjoyment. She turned and left the room.

By doing this she came directly upon Frederick Owen, who had apparently
performed the same action a little while before. They were alone in the
wide hall; every one else was in the drawing-room, gathered round the

"It--it was cooler here," Owen explained, rather awkwardly. At this
instant Dupont's voice floated out to them in one of his long, soft
notes. "It has 'a dying fall,' has it not?" said the clergyman; he was
trying to speak politely of her guest. But as his eyes met those of Miss
Carroll, he suddenly read in them a feeling of the same strength and
nature as his own, regarding that guest. This was a surprise, and a
satisfaction. It was the first corresponding dislike he had been able to
discover. For his own dislike had been so strong that he had been
searching in all directions for a corresponding one, with the hope,
perhaps, of proving to himself that his was not mere baseless prejudice.
But until this evening he had not succeeded in finding what he sought.
It was all the other way.

It should be mentioned here that Owen had not betrayed this dislike of
his. If he had done so, if his objection to the musician had been known,
or even suspected, it is probable that Dupont would hardly have attained
his present position in Far Edgerley. For after Madam Carroll's opinion,
the opinion of the rector of St. John's came next. But he had not
betrayed it. There was nothing of essential importance against Dupont.
The fact that he was precisely the kind of fellow whom Frederick Owen
particularly disliked was simply a matter between the two men
themselves, or rather, as Dupont cared nothing about it, between Owen
and his own conscience; for he could hardly go about denouncing a man
because he happened to play the guitar. But after three weeks of
enduring him--for he met him wherever he went--it was great comfort to
have caught that gleam of contempt in Miss Carroll's fair gray eyes; he
was glad that he had been at just the right spot in the hall to receive
it as she came from the drawing-room with that alluring voice floating
forth behind her.

"It is a beautiful evening," he said, dropping the subject of the
musician; "the moonlight is so bright that one can see all the
mountains. Shall we go out and look at them?"

And Miss Carroll was so displeased with the scene within that she
consented to withdraw to the scene without; and there they remained as
long as the singing lasted. They walked up and down the broad piazza; he
talked about the mountain scenery, and the waterfalls. She did not
appear to be much interested in them. Her companion, however, was not so
much chilled by this manner of hers as he had sometimes been; he had had
a glimpse behind it.


Early in the week following the reception, Frederick Owen learned that
Dupont was about to take his departure from Far Edgerley, and with no
expectation of returning. This was good news. He was beginning to have
the feeling that the fellow would never go away, that he and his guitar
would become a permanent feature of Madam Carroll's receptions, his
lounging figure under the cream-colored umbrella a daily ornament of the
centre of Edgerley Street. Was he really, then, going? It seemed too
good to be true. But the tidings had been brought by Miss Dalley, who
was both good and true, and who was accurate as well; she had the very
hour--"On Friday, at nine."

"Hangman's day!" thought Owen, with satisfaction, doing his thinking
this time with the remnants of boyhood feelings; for though he was in
his third decade--the beginning of it--and a clergyman, the boy in him
was by no means entirely outgrown. Miss Dalley had come to return a
book, Longfellow's "Outre Mer," and to borrow anything he might have
about Ferrara.

"I was so much interested in our American poet's description of the
Italian poet's grave, on the Janiculum," she said. "It was such a
touching passage, and it contained this truly poetical sentence: 'He
sleeps midway between his cradle at Sorrento and his dungeon at
Ferrara.' I can never go in _person_, Mr. Owen; Fate has denied me that.
But I can think of the inscription, which Longfellow gives: 'Torquati
Tasso ossa hic jacet,' and be there in _mind_."

She had called it "hic jacket." "Jacent, I think," said the rector,

"Yes, certainly; that is what I meant--jacinth," said Miss Dalley,
correcting herself. "A beautiful word, is it not? And so appropriate,
too, for a poet's grave, mentioned, as it is, in Revelations!"

On Friday Dupont really did go. The rector himself saw him pass in the
high red wagon of the Washington Inn on his way down the mountain to the
lower town, the eastward-bound stage, and thence--wherever he pleased,
the gazer thought, so long as he did not return. But although the rector
gave this vagueness to the musician's destination, it was understood in
other quarters that he was going back to the West India Islands--"where
he used to live, you know."

"Upon which one did he live?" asked the junior warden. "There are about
fifty thousand of them, large and small; he can't have lived on them

"For my part, I think him _quite_ capable of it," answered Miss Honoria,

Having seen the musician depart, Owen jumped on his horse and went off
to one of his mission stations far up among the crags of Lonely
Mountain. For, not content with a rector's usual duties, all of which he
attended to with a modern promptness unknown in the days of good old
Parson Montgomery, he had established mission stations at various points
in the mountains above Far Edgerley. Wherever there were a few
log-houses gathered together, there he held services, or started a
Sunday-school. He was by far the most energetic rector the parish of St.
John in the Wilderness had ever had; so much so, indeed, that the parish
hardly knew how to take his energy, and thought that he was perhaps
rather too much in the wilderness--more than necessity demanded or his
bishop required. Miss Honoria Ashley had even called these journeyings
of his "itinerant;" but Miss Honoria was known to disapprove, on general
principles, of everything the rector did: she had once seen him wearing
a sack-coat.

On this particular Friday he was out all day among the peaks, close up
under the sky. Coming down at sunset, and entering Edgerley Street,
with its knolls and flower-gardens and rambling old houses, his home
seemed to him a peaceful and pleasant one. And then, as he passed
Carroll Farms, he became conscious that the cause for its seeming
especially peaceful to him this evening was the absence of the intruder,
that man from another world, who was no longer there to contaminate its
sweet, old-fashioned simplicity with his dubious beauty, his dangerous
character, and his enchanting voice. For Owen believed that the
musician's character was dangerous; his face bore the marks of
dissipation, and though indolent, and often full of gay good-nature, he
had at times a reckless expression in his eyes. Nothing deterred him
from amusing himself; and probably, in the same way, nothing would deter
him from any course towards which he should happen to feel an
inclination. He was not dangerous by plan or calculation; he was
dangerous from the very lack of them. He was essentially erratic, and
followed his fancies, and no one could tell whither they would lead him.
But he might have been all this, and the clergyman would still have felt
able to guard his parish and people from any harm his presence might do
them, had it not been for the favor shown him by Madam Carroll. This had
been a blow to Owen. He said to himself that the gentle lady's love of
music had blinded her judgment, and carried her astray. It was a
satisfaction that Miss Carroll's judgment remained unblinded. But it was
greatest satisfaction of all that the man was gone; he congratulated
himself upon this anew as he rode by the gateway of the Farms.

It was well that he had this taste of comfort. It did not last long.
Less than three weeks had passed when he learned one afternoon that
Dupont had returned. And not long afterwards he was in possession of
other knowledge, which troubled him more than anything that had happened
since he came to Far Edgerley.

In the meantime his parish, unaware of its rector's opinion, had
welcomed back the summer visitor with various graceful little
attentions. The summer visitor had been seriously ill, and needed
attentions, graceful or otherwise. He had journeyed as far as New York,
and there had fallen ill of a fever, which was not surprising, the
parish thought, when one considered the dangerously torrid climate of
that business metropolis at this season. Upon recovery, he had longed
with a great longing for "our pure Chillawassee air," and had returned
to pass the time of convalescence "among our noble peaks;" this was
repeated from knoll to knoll. Dupont's appearance bore testimony to the
truth of the tale. He had evidently been ill: his cheeks were hollow,
and he moved about slowly, as though he had not much strength; his eyes,
large and dark, looked larger and darker than ever, set in his thin,
brown face. But he was still Dupont; his moustache was still waxed, and
he had some new articles of finery, a gold watch-chain, and a seal-ring
on his long-fingered hand. This time he did not stay at the inn; he
preferred to try a farm-house, and selected Walley's Cove, a small farm
a little above the village, in one of the high ravines which, when wide
enough for a few fields along the mountain-brook that flowed through the
centre, were called coves. Dupont liked the place on account of the
view; and also, he said, because he could throw a stone from the cove's
mouth "into every chimney in Far Edgerley." This was repeated. "Do you
suppose," said Mrs. General Hibbard, solemnly--"do you suppose he is
going to do it?"

This lady had felt from the beginning a solemn curiosity about Dupont,
about all he said and did. But this was quite natural, the village
thought, when one considered the interesting proximity of the West India
Islands (where the musician used to live) to the glorious Mexican field
of her departed husband's fame. But, in return for her interest, Dupont
had irreverently made a caricature of the august widow, depicting her
as a mermaid, in her own duck-pond, surrounded by all her ducks, clad in
Mexican costumes; and then Far Edgerley society, which had been obliged
to listen for eight long years to many details about these birds of
Chapultepec--Far Edgerley society was corrupt enough to laugh.

But this incident belonged to Dupont's first visit; and, like other
incidents of his first visit, could be deemed amusing or impertinent
according to one's view of him. The new knowledge which had come to
Frederick Owen was something very different--different and grave: Sara
Carroll had changed. She now felt an interest in this stranger, and she
was showing it.

Was this the influence of Madam Carroll? But Owen could not long think
this. Miss Carroll was not a person to be easily influenced or led. She
was not yielding; whatever course she might follow, one could at least
be sure that, good or bad, it was her own. Her interest showed itself
guardedly; so much so that no one had observed it. The clergyman felt
sure that he was the only discoverer, and his own discovery he owed to a
rare chance. He was coming down Chillawassee on horseback, and in
bending to gather a flower from a bush, as he passed, he had lost a
small note-book from the breast pocket of his coat; dismounting to look
for it, he found that it was lying on a ledge not far below the road,
and that he could get it by a little climbing. He made his way down to
the ledge, and secured the book. Then he saw, a little farther down, one
of the isolated rocks called chimneys, and was seized with the fancy to
have a look from its top. He obeyed this fancy. And from its top he
found himself looking directly down into a small field on the edge of
Carroll Farms; here, standing together under a tree, were two figures
which he instantly recognized--they were the figures of Sara Carroll and
Dupont. This field was separated from the road by a hedge so high that
no one could look over it, and from the other fields and the orchard of
the Farms by a thicket of chincapins. The two were therefore well
hidden; they were safe from discovery save for the remote chance that
some one had climbed the chimney above them. And this one remote chance
had fallen to the lot of Frederick Owen.

He was much surprised, uncertain, unhappy. Shielded by the tall bushes
growing on top of the chimney, he had stood for several minutes looking
down upon the two. Then he left the rock, went back to his horse, and
rode home.

His uneasiness, after spoiling his night's sleep, took him to the Farms
the next afternoon. Madam Carroll received him in the drawing-room. She
offered an excuse for Miss Carroll; it seemed that she had a headache.
But on his way out the clergyman distinctly saw the shadow of a man
thrown across the dining-room floor by the bright sunshine shining
through the western windows. It might not be the shadow of Dupont, of
course; he was ashamed of himself for his quick suspicion. It might be
that of some other visitor, or of one of their poor pensioners, or of
Caleb Inches. But no masculine visitor came to the Farms at this hour
save, now and then, the junior warden, whose small figure never cast
shadow like that; and all the pensioners of whom he had knowledge were
women. He decided that, of course, it was Inches; and then, on his way
down Carroll Lane, he met Inches coming up. Still, it was but a
supposition. He forced himself to cast it aside.

Chance, however, seemed determined to disturb him, for she soon threw in
his way other knowledge, and this not a shadow, but reality. He caught a
glimpse of Sara Carroll turning into a little-used path, which led up
the mountain to a fir-wood. His own road (he was on horseback, as usual,
on his way to a mission station) led him by Walley's Cove, and here,
fifteen minutes later, he distinctly saw the figure of Louis Dupont
entering the same wood at its upper edge, and by the path which would
bring him directly to her, the same path she herself was following.

Owen's trouble now took complete possession of him; up to this time he
had fought it off. He felt that he ought to do something, to act. Dupont
was a dissipated, erratic adventurer, whose history no one knew. Should
he let this proud, fastidious, delicate-minded girl fall into such a
vulgar trap as this? Before his eyes, within reach of his hand? Yet
there it was again--if she were in reality as proud and fastidious as he
had supposed her to be (and he had thought her the proudest girl he had
ever known), how could she, of her own accord, endure Louis Dupont? At
one time she had not endured him. There had been a memorable moment when
the expression of her eyes (how well he remembered it!) had been
unmistakable; the moment when he had met her, coming from the
drawing-room, with that alluring voice floating forth behind her. What
could have changed her--changed her so completely as this?

The one answer presented itself with pitiless promptness: Dupont had
changed her. He had accomplished it himself, with the aid of a handsome
face, fine eyes, and an audacity which stopped at nothing; for the
clergyman had always felt sure that the audacity was there, although it
had not, in Far Edgerley, at least, been much exerted. This was so
acutely disagreeable to the man who was thinking of it, that there was
in his own eyes (handsome ones, too, in their way--a blue way) angry
moisture as he went over its possibilities. He clinched his hand and
rode on; it would have fared hardly with the musician had he crossed his
path just then. Owen was a clergyman. But he had been a man, and a free
one, first; he had not gone from college and seminary directly into the
ministry. He was thirty-one years old, and he had taken orders but two
years before; the preceding interval had not been spent in country

With all this surging feeling, however, he had as yet nothing definite
against this stranger--this stranger whose bad manners had been
protected by his "genius," and whose bad aspects had not been perceived
by the innocent little town. By nothing definite he meant nothing that
he could use. But now Chance, having given him three heavy burdens of
knowledge to carry (he had carried them as well as he could, with a
heavy heart as well)--the knowledge of those three meetings which, if
not clandestine, were at least concealed--this same Chance relented so
far as to present him with other knowledge--knowledge of a different
hue. She put in his possession some recent facts concerning the
musician which were proof, and proof positive, against him.

But what could Owen do with his facts? If he had not known what he knew
of Sara Carroll's interest in him, he could have proceeded against the
fellow at once; it needed but the statement which he was now able to
make to close every door in Far Edgerley against him, for the little
town, though not strait-laced, had a standard of morals as pure as its
own air. But if he should do this, might not Dupont take his revenge,
or, less than that, amuse himself, as he would call it, by letting the
village public learn of his intimate relations with the Farms, or rather
with Miss Carroll? Madam Carroll's liking for him, or, rather, for his
songs, was known and comprehended. But Miss Carroll's liking was not
known; and it had, too, an aspect--and here Frederick Owen felt that he
would rather go on forever in silence than have that aspect discussed.
Yet something he must do. He decided to go to Major Carroll himself.
Infirm as was his health, and secluded as was his life, he was the
natural protector of these two ladies, and would wish to know, ought to
know, everything that concerned them. He went to the Farms.

The Major was not feeling well that day; Madam Carroll hoped that the
rector would excuse him. The rector had no alternative but to do so. He
asked if he might not see him on the following day. Madam Carroll, with
regret, feared that this would not be possible; he had taken cold, and
his colds always lasted for a long time; he had not yet recovered his
strength fully after that illness of the preceding winter--as the rector
was probably aware. Disappointed, the rector went away. As he passed
down green Edgerley Street he met Dupont coming up, as usual, in the
centre of the roadway. The musician gave the clergyman a profound bow,
almost as profound as those with which he had disconcerted Miss Corinna.
As Owen returned it--as slightly as possible--he thought he saw in
Dupont's eyes a mocking gleam of amusement. Amusement? Or was it
triumph? He went on his way, walking rapidly; but at a certain point in
the road he could not help looking back. Yes, Dupont had turned into
Carroll Lane.

On the next day the rector of St. John's, having taken a new resolution,
started to pay a morning visit at the residence of his senior warden. In
answer to his knock Judith Inches opened the door. Without waiting for
words from him, this guardian of the Farms announced that the Major was
not well, and that the ladies were engaged, and would like to be
excused. She then seemed quite prepared to close the door.

"Perhaps Madam Carroll would see me, if she knew it was I," said Owen.

Judith Inches thought there was no probability of this.

The tall, blue-eyed man on the door-step did not accept her probability;
he suggested that she at least make it sure.

Judith surveyed him from head to foot; then, gradually, as much of a
smile as ever illumined her countenance stole across its lean,
high-cheek-boned expanse; she beckoned him in, and pointed with a long
forefinger down the hall towards a half-open door. "_Miss Sara's_
theer," she said.

It was the door of the dining-room. Visitors were not invited to enter
this room, save at the receptions, and Owen, after advancing a step or
two, stopped; the permission of Judith Inches seemed hardly enough.

And then this mountain maid, in her lank brown gown, drew near, and
murmured in his ear these mystic words: "Go right along in. What yer
feared of? I've noticed that you was feared of her before now. _That's_
no way. Brace up, man, brace up. Stiffen in an irun will, and you'll do
it." She then softly and swiftly withdrew down the hall, turning to give
him a solemn wink at a far door before she disappeared.

Owen felt a great schoolboy blush rising all over his face as he stood
there alone. Had the feminine eye of this serious spinster discovered
what he himself had not? But no; he always knew all about himself. She
had simply discovered, woman-fashion, more than existed. He went down
the hall, and entered the dining-room. There, at its western window, sat
Sara Carroll, sewing.

She answered his greeting, and gave him her hand. "I heard a knock, but
there was so long a delay that I supposed no one had entered," she said.

He took a seat, explaining that Judith Inches had told him to come to
this room. "My visit is more especially to either Major or Madam Carroll
this morning," he said. "But your tall handmaiden was sure that they
would not be able to receive me."

"My father is not well to-day, and mamma has a headache. Judith was
right," answered Miss Carroll. She took up her sewing again, and went on
with the seam.

Owen, who had brought himself up to the point of speaking to Madam
Carroll herself (for he had no hope, after yesterday, of seeing the
Major), was disappointed. It was a difficult task he had undertaken, and
he wanted to do it, and have it over. Foiled for this day at least, he
still sat there, his eyes on Miss Carroll's moving needle. He was
thinking a little, perhaps, of Judith Inches' remarkable imagination;
but far more of Miss Carroll herself. Her delicately cut face, with its
reserved expression, was there before him. Yet this was the same girl
who had received Dupont in this very room, who had talked with him in
that secluded meadow, who had gone to the fir-wood to meet him. His eyes
showed his inward trouble, they looked bluely dense and clouded. Miss
Carroll glanced at him once or twice, as it seemed to him, guardedly;
but he was aware that he was no longer a calm judge where she was
concerned; aware that he might easily mistake the importance or
significance of any little look or act. He fell into almost complete
silence, so that she was obliged to find topics herself, and keep up the
conversation; heretofore, when with her, this had always been his task.

He had sat there twenty minutes when there was a light step in the hall,
and Madam Carroll entered. She came towards him with her hand extended
and a smile of welcome. "Why did they not tell me you were here, Mr.
Owen? It was by mere chance that I happened to hear the sound of your
voice, and came down."

Sara had risen as her mother entered, her work dropping to the floor.
"Oh, mamma!" she murmured. Then, "I have told Mr. Owen that you have a
headache," she explained.

"A mere trifle. And it is over now. Besides, headache or no headache, I
always wish to see Mr. Owen," said the Major's wife, giving him her

Owen tried to recall his prearranged sentences, and summoned all his
coolness and skill. The opportunity he had sought was to be his after
all; now let him use it to the best advantage. But it was not easy to
tell a lady in her own house that both her taste and her judgment had
been at fault.

"I especially wished to see you this morning, Madam Carroll," he said;
"I am very glad you came down. I am anxious to speak with you upon a
subject which seems to me important."

"I am at your service," answered the lady, giving the ruffle of her
overskirt a pat of adjustment, and then drawing forward a low willow

"I think--I think, with your permission, we will go to another room,"
said the clergyman.

Miss Carroll was still standing; she made no offer to go. Again she
looked at their visitor, and this time it seemed to him that it was more
than guardedly, that it was defiance. "Mamma," she said, "with your
headache--for I know you have it still--are you not undertaking too
much? Mr. Owen will excuse you. Or could I not take your place?" And
she turned to Owen.

"No," he answered; "you could not." And he said no more. He was aware
that he was proceeding clumsily, but he could not help it. He found that
he cared too much about it to do it gracefully or with skill. He
recalled her slender, black-robed figure going towards the fir-wood, and
his eyes grew more clouded than before. He turned away. "Of course, if
Madam Carroll is suffering," he said--then he stopped; he did not want
to postpone it again.

Madam Carroll threw up her hands. "My dear Sara, you make so much of my
poor little headache that Mr. Owen will think I am subject to headaches.
But I am happy to say that I am not; as a general thing, they are mere
feminine affectations. Come to the drawing-room, Mr. Owen. At this hour
we shall not be interrupted." She led the way thither, and seated
herself in her favorite chair, having first rolled forward a larger one
for her guest. The spindle-legged furniture of the old-fashioned room
had been covered by her own deft fingers with chintz of cream-color,
enlivened with wreaths of bright flowers; over the windows and doors
hung curtains of the same material. In this garden-like expanse Owen
took his seat, collected himself and what he had to say in one quick
moment of review, and then began.

First, he asked her to pardon what was, in one way, the great liberty he
was taking in speaking at all; in excuse he could only say that it
seemed to him important--important to her own household. And in no
household the world held had he a deeper, a more sincere, interest than
in her own.

Madam Carroll begged to recall to his remembrance that that was saying a
great deal--"no household in the world."

He did not answer this little speech, archly made. He took up his main
subject. He told her that he had been unwilling to speak to her of it at
all; that he should have greatly preferred speaking to the Major; but
that had not been possible, at least for the present, as she was aware.
The matter concerned itself with some facts he had lately learned about
a person who had been generally received in Far Edgerley and also at the
Farms--a person of whose history they really knew nothing, this--this

"Are you pretending you do not know his name?" asked Madam Carroll. "I
can tell you what it is if you have forgotten; it will make your story
easier: Dupont--Louis Eugene Dupont."

Owen was astounded by her manner; he had never seen anything like it in
her before. Her large blue eyes--of a blue lighter than his own--looked
at him calmly, almost, it seemed to him, with a calm impertinence.

"I had not forgotten his name," he answered, gravely. "I have had too
much reason to remember it. He has given me anxiety for some time past,
Madam Carroll. I have felt that he was not the person to be received
among us as he has been received. We are rather a secluded mountain
village, you know, and there has been little here to tempt him into
betraying himself; but I have suspected him from the first, and now--"

"You are rather inclined to suspect people, aren't you?" said Madam
Carroll, with the same calm gaze.

"Major Carroll would have suspected him also had he ever met him."

"As it happens, my husband has met him. It was at one of our receptions;
early in the evening, I think, before you came."

"And he said nothing?"


"I must go on in any case," said Owen; "I can do no otherwise. For it is
not for my own sake I am speaking--"

"Are you sure of that?" said his hostess, interrupting him again without
ceremony. This time her tone had an amusement in it, an amusement not
unmixed with sarcasm.

"I should do it just the same though I were on the eve of leaving Far
Edgerley forever, never expecting to see any of you again," he answered,
with some heat.

"It could hardly be a final parting, even then; for the world is not so
large as you suppose, Mr. Owen. It hardly seems necessary, on the whole,
to be so tragic," answered the lady, again adjusting the ruffle of her
overskirt, and laughing a little.

Owen was bewildered. He had thought that he knew her so well, he had
thought that she was of all his parish his best and kindest friend; yet
there she sat, within three feet of him, looking at him mockingly,
turning all his earnest words into ridicule, laughing at him.

He was no match for her in little sarcasms, and he was in no mood for
that kind of warfare. He said no more about himself and his feelings; he
simply gave her a plain outline of the facts which had recently come
into his possession.

Madam Carroll replied that she did not believe them. Such stories were
always in circulation about handsome young men like Louis Dupont. They
were told by other men--who were jealous of them.

Owen, who had grown a little pale, quietly gave her his proofs. The
scene of the affair was one of his own mission stations--the most
distant one; he knew the young girl's father, and even the young girl

"Oh, it seems _you_ knew her too, then," said Madam Carroll, laughing.
"I suppose she liked Dupont best."

The young clergyman was struck into silence. This little, gentle,
golden-haired lady, whom he had admired so long and so sincerely, was
this she? Were those her words? Was that her laugh? It seemed to him as
if some evil spirit had suddenly taken up his abode in her, and having
driven out her own sweet soul, was looking at him through her pretty
eyes, and speaking to him with her pretty, rose-leaf lips. Stinging,
under the circumstances insulting, as had been her speech, he was not
angry; he was too much grieved. He could have taken her in his arms and
wept over her. For what could it all mean save that Dupont had in some
way obtained such control of her, poor little woman, that she was ready
to attack everybody and anybody who attacked him?

He looked at her, still in silence. Then he rose. "I have told you all I
know, Madam Carroll," he said, sadly, taking his hat from the chair
beside him. "I had hoped that you would--I never dreamed that you could
receive me or speak to me in the way you have. I have had the greatest
regard for you; I have thought you my best friend."

Madam Carroll had also risen, with the air of wishing to close the
interview. She dropped her eyes as he said these last words, and lifted
her handkerchief to her mouth.

"I think as much of you as ever," she murmured. And then she began to
cough, a cough with a long following breath that was almost like a sob.

The door opened, and Sara Carroll entered. She came straight to her
mother, and put her arm round her as if to support her. "I knew you were
not well, mamma. Mr. Owen will certainly excuse you _now_" And she
looked at their guest with a glance which he felt to be dismissal.

Madam Carroll, exhausted by the cough, leaned against her daughter, her
face covered by her handkerchief. Owen turned to go. But when he saw the
daughter standing there so near him, when he thought of what he knew of
her interest in this man, and of the mother's recent tone about him, his
heart failed him. He could not go--go and leave her without one word of
warning, one effort to save her, to show her what he felt.

"I came to warn Madam Carroll against Louis Dupont," he said, abruptly.
"Madam Carroll has not credited what I have said, or, rather, she is not
impressed by it. Yet it is all true. And probably there is much more. He
is not a person with whom you should have intimate acquaintance, or,
indeed, any acquaintance. As Madam Carroll will not do so, will you let
_me_ warn you?"

Miss Carroll started slightly as he said this. Then she recovered
herself. "Surely it is nothing to me," she said, indifferently, with a
slight emphasis on the "me."

Owen watched the indifferent expression. "She is acting," he thought.
"She does it well!" Then aloud, "On the contrary, I suppose it to be a
great deal to you," he answered, his eyes, intent and sorrowful, fixed
full upon her over the little mother's head.

Madam Carroll took down her handkerchief, and the two women faced him
with startled gaze. Sara was calm; but Madam Carroll's eyes, at first
only startled, were now growing frightened. She turned her small face
towards her daughter dumbly, as if for help.

The girl drew her mother more closely to her side. "And what right have
you to suppose anything?" she said to Owen, with composure. "Are you our

"Would that I were!" answered Owen, with deepest feeling in his tone. "I
don't 'suppose' anything, Miss Carroll--I know. I have been unfortunate
enough to see you with this man, or going to meet him, and it has made
me wretched. But do not be troubled--no one else has seen it, and with
me you are perfectly safe; I would guard you with my life. I had
intended to expose him; I am in possession of some facts which tell
heavily against him (Madam Carroll knows what they are); but now how can
I, when I fear that he--when I know that you--" he paused; his voice was
trembling a little, and he wished to control the tremor.

"And if I should tell you that there was no occasion for either your
fears or your advice?" said Sara Carroll, after a moment's silence. She
raised her eyes again, and met his gaze steadily. "If I should tell you
that Mr. Dupont--to whom you object so strongly--had the right to be
with me as much as he pleased, and that I had given him this right,
surely you would then understand that your warning came quite too late,
and that both your opinion and your advice were superfluous? And you
would, perhaps, spare us further conversation on a matter that concerns
only ourselves."

"Am I to believe this?" said Owen.


"You have it from me directly--I don't know what better authority you
would have. I tell you in order to show you, decisively, that further
interference on your part will be unnecessary. It is a secret as yet,
and, for the present, we wish it to remain one; we trust to you not
to betray it. And I think you will now keep to yourself, will you not,
what you know, or fancy you know, against him?" She looked at him

"If I could only have seen your father!" said Owen, with bitterest

Her face changed, her arm dropped from her mother's shoulders; she
turned abruptly from him.

Left alone, Madam Carroll straightened herself, as if trying to resume
her usual manner. She looked after Sara, who had crossed the broad room
to a window opposite. Then she looked at Owen. She came closer to him.
"I am sure it will not last, this--this engagement of hers," she said,
in a whisper, shielding her lips with her hand as if to make her tone
still lower. "It is only a little fancy of the moment, you know, a fancy
founded upon his genius, his musical genius, and his lovely voice. But
it will pass, Mr. Owen; I am sure it will pass. And in the meantime our
course--yours and mine--should be just _silence_. Everything must go on
as usual, and you must say nothing against him to any one; that is the
most important of all. No one has suspected it but you. She _has_ been
rather incautious; but I will see that that is mended, so that no one
else shall suspect. If we are careful and silent, Mr. Owen, you and
I--the only ones who know--and if we simply have patience and _wait_,
all will yet be well; I assure you all will yet be well." She smiled,
and looked up anxiously into his face with her soft blue eyes; she was
quite her gentle self again.

"She is protecting her husband's daughter to the extent of her power,"
thought the young man, who was listening; "that has been the secret of
her enigmatical manner from the beginning." But while he thought this,
he was frowning with the pain her words had given him--a "fancy of the
moment"--Louis Dupont!

"Promise me to say nothing against him," continued Madam Carroll, in the
same earnest whisper, still smiling anxiously, and looking up in his

"Of course I shall say nothing. How could I do otherwise now?" answered
Owen. "But my trouble is as great as ever, and my fear. You do not
comprehend him, Madam Carroll. You do not see what he really is."

"Oh, I comprehend him--I comprehend him," said Madam Carroll, in a
strained though still whispering tone. "I do my best, Mr. Owen," she
added, in a broken voice--"my very best."

These last words were uttered aloud. Sara Carroll left the window and
came back to her mother; she took her hands in hers. "Kindly excuse us
now," she said to the clergyman, with quiet dignity.

He bowed, and left the room, his face still full of trouble and pain.
They heard him close the front door behind him.

"I think he will say nothing," said Sara.

Madam Carroll had drawn her hands away; she stood motionless, looking at
the carpet.

"Yes, it is safe now; don't you think so?" Sara continued, musingly.

Her step-mother raised her eyes. There was a flash in them. "I bore it
because I had to. But it was the hardest thing of all to bear. You
despise him, you know you do. You always have. You have been pitiless,
suspicious, cruel."

"Not lately, mamma," said the girl. She put her arms round the little
figure, and, with infinite pity, drew it towards her. Madam Carroll at
first resisted; then the tense muscles relaxed, and she let her head
rest against her daughter's breast. The lashes fell over her bright, dry

"You will never be able to keep it up," she murmured, after a moment,
her eyes still closed.

"Yes, I shall, mamma."

"Never, never."

"I could do a great deal more for my dear father's sake," answered the
girl, after a short hesitation.

Madam Carroll began to sob. "I have been a good wife to him, Sara," she
murmured, appealingly, piteously.

"Indeed you have, mamma. You are all his happiness, all his life; he
could not live without you. But you ought to rest; let me go with you

"I must go alone," answered Madam Carroll. She had repressed her sobs,
but her breath still came and went unevenly. "It is not that I am angry,
Sara; do not think that. I was--but it has passed; I am quite reasonable
now--as you see. But, for a little while, I must be alone, quite alone."

She left the room with her usual quick, light step. After she had gone,
Sara stood for a few moments with her hands clasped over her eyes. Then
she went to the library.

Scar was playing dominoes, Roland against Bayard; and the Major was
watching the game. His daughter bent her head, and kissed his forehead;
then she sat down beside him, holding his hand in hers, and stroking it

"Well, my daughter, you seem to think a good deal of me to-day," said
the old man, smiling.

"Not only to-day, but always, papa--always," answered the girl, with

"Roland is very dull this morning," said the Major, explaining the
situation. "He has lost three games, and is going to lose a fourth."


Far Edgerley was deprived of its rector. Mr. Owen had gone to the coast
to attend the Diocesan Convention. But as he had started more than a
week before the time of its opening, and had remained a week after its
sessions were ended, Mrs. General Hibbard was of the opinion that he was
attending to other things as well. She had, indeed, heard a rumor before
he came that there was _some one_ (some one in whom he felt an interest)
elsewhere. Now it is well known that there is nothing more depressing
for a parish than a rector with an interest, large or small,
"elsewhere." St. John in the Wilderness was therefore much relieved when
its rector returned, with no signs of having left any portion of himself
or his interest behind him. And Mrs. General Hibbard lost ground.

Mr. Owen had started eastward on the day after his interview with the
two ladies of Carroll Farms; he had started westward on the day after
the arrival of a letter from his junior warden. This letter, written in
a clear, old-fashioned hand, decorated with much underscoring, was a
mixture of the formal phraseology of the warden's youth and that
too-modern lightness which he had learned in his later years, and of
which Miss Honoria so justly disapproved. He was supposed to be writing
about church business. Having finished that (in six lines), he added an
epitome of the news of the whole village, from the slippers which Miss
Sophy Greer, at the north end of Edgerley Street, was working for him
(the rector)--ecclesiastical borders, with the motto "Vestigia nulla
retrorsum"--down to the last new duck in the duck-pond at Chapultepec,
the south end of it. Among the items was this: "That amusing fellow
Dupont is, I am sorry to say, ill, and I suspect seriously. It is a
return of the fever he had in New York, I am told. He is at the Cove,
and the Walleys are taking care of him. It has leaked out" ("leaked
out"--oh, poor Miss Honoria!) "that he has no money, not even enough to
pay for his medicines--those musicians are always an improvident lot,
you know. But our lovely Madam Carroll, ministering angel that she is,
pitying lady of the manor, has supplied everything that has been
necessary. I have just heard, as I write these lines, that the poor
fellow is no better."

The rector, upon his return, busied himself in attending to the many
duties which had accumulated during his absence. He did not go to the
Farms immediately; but as he was making no calls for the present--owing
to the accumulation--the omission was not noticed. The musician was very
ill, and every one was sorry. His poverty was now generally known; but
Madam Carroll was doing all that was needful, and the poor wanderer
lacked nothing. That was what they called him now--the "poor wanderer;"
it was a delicate way of phrasing the fact that he was without means.
Far Edgerley people were as far as possible from being mercenary; they
had no intention of turning their backs upon Dupont because he was poor.
They were poor themselves, and, besides, that had never been the
Southern way. They would gladly have helped him now, had there been
opportunity, and they looked forward to helping him as far as they were
able so soon as he should have recovered his health. But at present
Madam Carroll was doing the whole, and the whole was only--could be
only--a doctor and medicines.

In all this there was nothing of Sara; that secret, the rector
perceived, had been carefully kept. There was nothing, too, of the
recent evil story concerning the musician, which he had related to Madam
Carroll. But he had been aware that if he himself should be silent, it
was probable that nothing of it would reach Far Edgerley, at least for
some time. For the mission station was remote, and the mountain people
were very proud in their way, proud and reticent. They had, too, an
opinion of Far Edgerley which was not unlike the opinion Far Edgerley
had of the lower town. Pride in these mountains seemed a matter of
altitudes. Owen knew that he was glad that these two hidden things had
remained undiscovered; that, at least, was clear in the conflicting
feelings that haunted his troubled heart.

He had returned on Monday evening; the week passed and Sunday dawned
without his having seen any of the Carrolls. They came to church as
usual; that is, the Major came, with his wife and little Scar; Miss
Carroll was absent. After service the Major waited. The Major always
waited. He waited to speak to his rector; it was a little attention he
always paid. Owen knew that he was waiting, knew that he was standing
there at the head of the aisle in his military attitude, with his
prayer-book under his arm; yet, although he knew it, it was some minutes
before he came forth. When at length he did appear, the Major advanced,
shook hands with him, and asked how he was. The rector replied that he
was quite well.

"Mr. Owen is probably the better for his journey," said Madam Carroll,
joining her husband in the open space at the foot of the chancel steps,
where the two men were standing. "A journey is always so pleasant, and
especially a journey to the coast."

"Ah, yes," said the Major; "your journey. I hope you enjoyed it?"

"The coast is considered so beneficial," continued Madam Carroll. "For
my own part, however, I prefer our mountain air; it seems to me more
bracing. And the Major thinks so too."

"Certainly," said the Major; "I have often made the observation." He
said a few words more, shook hands with the rector a second time, bowed,
and then offered his arm to his wife. She took it, with a farewell smile
to the rector, and they went down the aisle together through the empty
church towards the open door. And Owen, who had been looking forward
with eagerness, yet at the same time with dread, to his first meeting
with Miss Carroll or her mother, found himself almost able to smile over
the contrast between his own inward trouble and pain and the smiling
self-possession of the little lady of the Farms. There rose before him
her strange manner during the beginning of that last morning interview
in her drawing-room; and then her frightened face turned towards her
daughter; and then her effort to excuse to him that daughter's avowal.
But in thinking of all this, he soon lost himself in thoughts of the
daughter alone. This was not a new experience; he forced his mind to
turn from the haunting subject, in active preparations for the duties of
the afternoon.

In the meantime the Major and his wife had reached the porch. Scar was
waiting for them outside, sitting on a little tombstone in the sunshine,
and a number of Far Edgerley people were standing about the gate. The
Major bowed to these with much courtesy, and Madam Carroll with much
grace; they entered their carriage, Inches folded up the steps, climbed
to his perch, the mules started, and "the equipage" rolled away.

They reached home; but, in getting out, the bearing of the Major was not
quite so military as it had been at the church door. Inches came to his
assistance, and he took his wife's arm, and kept it until he was in his
own easy-chair again in the library. There he sat all the afternoon. His
wife--for she did not leave him--read aloud to Scar, and heard him
recite his little Sunday lessons. Then she took him on her lap and told
him Bible stories, speaking in a low tone, as the Major was now asleep.
They were close beside him, mother and little son. The child's face was
a curious mixture of her delicate rose-tinted prettiness and the bold
outlines of his father.

The sun, which had been journeying down the western sky, now touched the
top of Lonely Mountain, and immediately all its side was robed in purple
velvet, and its long summit tipped with gold. Still farther sank the
monarch; and now he was out of sight. Then rose such a splendor of color
in the west that it flooded even this quiet room across the valley,
turning the old paper on the walls into cloth of gold, and Scar's flaxen
hair into a little halo. The Major was now awake; he moved his
easy-chair to the open window in order to see the sunset. Scar got
another chair, climbed up, and sat down beside him. "I think, papa," he
said, after some moments of silence, during which he had meditatively
watched the glow--"I think it very probable that the little children who
have to die young live over in that particular part of heaven. For those
beautiful colors would amuse them, you know; and they must be very
lonely up in the sky, without their fathers and mothers."

"Fathers and mothers die too, sometimes, my boy," answered the Major,
his eyes turning misty. He took Scar's little hand, and held it in his

His wife came up behind him and laid her hand on his shoulder. The old
Major looked up at her as she stood by his chair, with a great trust
and affection in his dim glance. For of late the Major had been growing
older rapidly; his eyes were losing their clearness of vision; there
were now many sounds he could not hear. But he always heard every
intonation of her voice; always saw the hue of her dress, and any little
change in its arrangement. Where she was concerned, his dulled senses
were young again.

"My sister Sara is coming," announced Scar. "I can see her. I can see
the top of her bonnet above the hedge, because she is so tall." And soon
the girl's figure appeared in sight. She opened the gate, and came up
the path towards the front door. Scar leaned forward and waved his hand.
She returned his greeting, looking at the group of three in the
window--father, mother, and child.

The Major could not see his daughter, but he turned his face in the
direction of the path and gave a little bow and smile. "She has been
gone a long time," he said to his wife; "almost all day."

His wife did not reply; she had left the room. She met Sara in the hall.
"I have come back for you, mamma," whispered the girl. "I think the time
has come."

"I will go immediately," said Madam Carroll, walking quickly towards the
stairs. Then she stopped. "But how can I? You would have to go with me.
And at this hour the Major would notice it. He would notice it if we
should both leave him. It would trouble him." She looked at Sara as she
stood uttering these sentences. Though her voice was quiet, the
suffering in her eyes was pitiable to see.

"Go, mamma. For this one time do not mind that. Judith will be here."

"No," answered Madam Carroll, with the same measured utterance; "the
Major must not be troubled, his comfort must always be first. But as he
is generally tired on Sunday evenings, perhaps he will go to bed early.
I must wait, in any case, until he is asleep."

"Mamma, you cannot bear it," urged Sara, following her.

"Instead of saying that, you should tell me if there is hope--hope that
I may not be too late," said Madam Carroll almost sternly, putting aside
the girl's outstretched hands.

"I think he may not--they said he would not--Mrs. Walley said, 'He will
pass at dawn,'" answered Sara, using the mountain phrase.

"I may then be in time," said Madam Carroll, in the same calm voice. She
turned the handle of the door. "You had better join us soon. Your father
has been asking for you." She went in, closing the door behind her.

When Sara entered, fifteen minutes later, she found her singing the
evening hymn to the Major. The Major liked to have her sing that hymn on
Sunday evenings, and Scar liked it too, because he could join in with
his soft little alto.

    "The day is past and gone,
      The evening shades appear;
    O may we all remember well
      The night of death draws near,"

sang the wife, in her sweet voice, sitting close to her husband's chair,
so that he could hear the words.

Not long afterwards the Major said he was tired; it was not often that
he was tired so early in the evening, but to-night, for some reason, he
felt quite weary; he thought he would go to bed. It was half-past eight;
at nine he and Scar were both asleep, and the two women left the house
together. Walley's Cove was not far from the Farms, but it was farther
up the mountain, where there was no road, only paths; they could not,
therefore, go in the carriage; they could have taken Caleb Inches with
them, but in that peaceful neighborhood escort for mere safety's sake
was not necessary, and they preferred to be alone.

"Take my arm, mamma," said Sara, as they began to ascend.

But Madam Carroll would not. She walked on unaided. Her step was firm.
She did not once speak.

In the small room under the roof, which he had occupied since his
return, lay the young man who was now dying; for it needed but one
glance to show that the summons had come: he was passing away. The
farmer's wife, much affected, knelt beside him; the doctor had gone, she
said, but a short time before; there was nothing more that he could do,
and he was needed elsewhere. The farmer himself was fanning the
unconscious face. Madam Carroll took the fan.

"Let me do that," she said. "I know you feel as if your children were
needing you down-stairs."

For the three little children had been left alone in the room below,
and, disturbed by the absence of father and mother, were not asleep; one
of them had begun to cry a little at intervals. The farmer went down,
his clumsy boots making no sound on the uncarpeted stairway, so careful
was his tread. Madam Carroll sat down on the edge of the poor bed, and
fanned the sleeping face; the eyes were closed, the long, dark lashes
lay on the thin cheeks, the breath came slowly through the slightly
parted lips. The farmer's wife began to pray in a low voice; she was a
devout Baptist, and she had had her pastor there in the afternoon, and
had fancied that the dying man was conscious for a time, and that he had
listened and responded. She had grown fond of the poor musician in
taking care of him, and the tears rolled down her sunburned cheeks as
she prayed. Madam Carroll remained calm; she moved the fan with even
sweep to and fro. She had taken off her bonnet, as the night was warm,
and with her golden curls, her pink-tinted complexion, and the same
pretty dress she had worn to church in the morning, she was a contrast
to the rough, bare room, to the farmer's wife, in her coarse homespun
gown, and even to her own daughter, who, in her plain black dress, her
face pale and sad, was standing near.

An hour passed. The child's wail below had now in it the unmistakable
sound of suffering. "Pray go down," said Madam Carroll; "I am sure your
baby needs you."

"But I don't like to leave you, Madam Carroll; it doesn't seem right,"
the woman answered, yet listening, too, at the same time, to the baby's
wail below.

"You need have no hesitation. I have had experience of this kind before;
and besides, I do not easily lose my self-possession."

"Yes, you _hev_ got a strong hold on yersel," said the farmer's wife
admiringly. They spoke in low tones, though sounds of earth could no
longer penetrate to that gray, still border-land which the sleeper's
soul was crossing. "I know you keer for the poor young man; you keer
for him as much as I do. For yer see he ain't got no mother to be sorry
for him, poor fellow," she continued, laying her rough hand tenderly on
his head; "and you and me knows, Madam Carroll, how his mother'd feel.
There ain't nothing like the way a mother keers for her boy."

Sara came forward. "I am sure your child needs you, Mrs. Walley," she
said; "please go down at once. I promise to call you if anything should
be needed."

The child was crying again, and the mother went. Sara softly closed the
door. It had not been closed until then.

A little before midnight, Dupont, who had been for six hours in a
lethargic sleep, stirred and woke. Madam Carroll bent over him. He knew
her; he turned his head towards her and lay looking at her, his large
eyes strangely solemn in their unmoving gaze. Sara came and stood on the
other side of the bed, fanning him with the fan which her mother had
relinquished. Thus he remained, looking at Madam Carroll, with his slow,
partially comprehending stare. Then gradually the stare grew conscious
and intelligent. And then it grew full of expression. It was wonderful
to see the mind come back and look once more from the windows of its
deserted house of clay--the last look on earth. Madam Carroll, bending
towards him, returned his gaze; she had laid one hand on his forehead,
the other on his breast; her fair hair touched his shoulder. She said
nothing; she did not move; but all her being was concentrated in her
eyes. The dying man also was silent: probably he had passed beyond the
power of speech. Thus, motionless, they continued to look at each other
for a number of minutes. Then consciousness faded, the light left the
windows; a few seconds more and the soul was gone. Madam Carroll, still
in silence, laid her hand upon the heart and temples; all was still.
Then she gently closed the eyes.

Sara, weeping, came to her side. "Do not, Sara; some one might come in,"
said her mother. Her hands rested on the closed lids. Then, her task
done, she stood for a moment beside the couch, silently, looking at the
still face on the pillow. "You must go down and tell them," she said, in
a composed tone. "Farmer Walley must go immediately for Sabrina Barnes
and her sister. You can say that the funeral will be from this house,
and that they had better ask their own minister--the one who was here
this afternoon--to officiate."

"Oh, mamma, do not try to think of everything; it is not necessary now,"
said Sara, beseechingly.

"Do as I tell you, Sara," answered Madam Carroll. And Sara obeyed her.

[Illustration: "THE LAST LOOK ON EARTH."]

When she returned, Madam Carroll was arranging the pillows and
straightening the coarse sheet. She had folded the musician's thin hands
over his breast and smoothed his disordered hair.

"The child has been in pain all this time," said the daughter, "and they
are frightened; Farmer Walley will go for Sabrina Barnes and for the
doctor at the same time. I told Mrs. Walley that she need not come up,
that we would stay. In any case she could hardly leave her baby now. But
oh, mamma, do not try to do that; do not try to do anything more."

"Yes, we will stay," said Madam Carroll. She took a chair, placed it
beside the bed, so that it faced the figure lying there, and sat down;
she put her feet on a footstool and folded her hands.

"Dear mamma, do not sit there looking like that; do not try to be so
quiet. No one will be here for half an hour: cry, mamma; let yourself
cry. You have this little time, and--and it will be your last."

"I will not cry," answered Madam Carroll; "I have not cried at all;
tears I can keep back. But I should like to kiss him, Sara, if you will
keep watch. He would like to have his mother kiss him once before he
goes away." And bending forward as she sat, she kissed tenderly the
forehead and the closed eyes. The touch overcame her; she did not weep,
but, putting her arms round him, she sat looking at him piteously. "He
was such a dear little baby!" she murmured. "I was so proud of him! He
was always so handsome and so brave--such a sturdy little fellow! When
he was only six years old he said, 'I want to grow up quick and be big,
so that I can take care of you, mamma.'" She stroked back his dark hair.
"You meant no harm; none of it was your fault, Julian. Do not think your
mother has any blame for you, my darling boy. But _now_ you know that I
have not." She passed her hands softly over his wasted cheeks. "May I
put him in our--in your--lot in the church-yard, Sara? It will only take
a little space, and the lot is so large; there isn't any other place
where I should like to have him lying. People would think it was our
kindness; in that way it could be done. And do not put me too far from
him, when my time comes; not _too_ far. For you know he was, Sara, my
dear boy, my darling first-born son." She murmured this over and over,
her arms round him. Then, "He is not lying quite straight," she said.
And she tried to move his head a little. But already it had the strange
heaviness of death, it was like a weight of stone in her small hands. As
she realized this, her face became convulsed for the first time; her
whole frame was shaken by her grief.

Footsteps were now audible coming up the mountain path outside. "Mamma,
they are here," said Sara, from her post at the window.

But Madam Carroll had already controlled herself. She rose, pressed one
long, last kiss on the still face; then she went to the door and opened
it. When Sabrina Barnes and her sister, the two old women who in that
rural neighborhood filled the office of watching by the dead, came up
the stairs, she was waiting for them. In a clear, low voice she gave
them her directions: the expenses of the funeral she should herself
assume. Then she passed down the stairs with Sara on her way home,
stopping to speak to the mother of the sick child in the lower room, and
suggest some new remedy.

Mrs. Walley was distressed at the idea of their going home alone; but
her husband had not yet returned, and the ladies did not wish to wait.
The path was safe enough; it was only the loneliness of it. But the
ladies said that they did not mind the loneliness. They went down the
mountain by the light of the stars, reaching the Farms a little after
two o'clock. Dupont had died at midnight.

The funeral took place on Tuesday afternoon. The Baptist minister
officiated, but all the congregation of St. John's were also present.
The farm-house was full, and people stood in the garden outside
bare-headed and reverent. Then the little procession was formed, and
went down the mountain towards St. John's, where the Carrolls, with
their usual goodness, as everybody said, had given a place for the poor
stranger in their own lot. The coffin was borne on men's shoulders in
the old-fashioned way. It was covered with flowers. Every one had sent
some, for they all remembered how fond he had been of their
flower-gardens. They recalled his sweet voice and his songs, his merry
ways with children. There was a pathos, too, in his poverty, because
they had not suspected it. And so they all thought of him kindly as he
was borne by on his way to his last rest.

Madam Carroll and Sara had not been at the farm-house. But they were at
the grave. They were in waiting there when the procession entered the
church-yard gate. They stood at the head of the coffin as it rested on
the bier during the prayer. They stood there while it was lowered, and
while the grave was being filled. This was the custom in Far Edgerley:
everybody stayed. But when this task was completed the people dispersed;
the services were considered at an end.

Flower had begun to shape the mound, and Madam Carroll still waited.
Seeing this, several persons came back, and a little group gathered.

"Ah, well, poor friendless young man, his life here is over," said Mrs.
Greer. "It is not quite straight, Flower; if you come here and look, you
can see for yourself."

"I suppose he was a foreigner," said Miss Sophy; "he looked like one.
Didn't you say that you thought he was a foreigner, Madam Carroll?"

"He came from Martinique," answered the Major's wife; "he had lived
there, I believe, or on one of the neighboring islands, almost all his

"Well, I call that foreign; I call all the West India Islands very
foreign," said Miss Sophy. "They don't seem to me civilized. They are
principally inhabited by blacks."

"It was so sad that he had no money," remarked Mrs. Rendlesham. "We
never dreamed of that, you know. Though I remember now that his clothes,
when you came to really look at them, were a little--a little worn,

"They were shabby," said Miss Corinna, not with unkindness, but simply
as historian.

"Is it true, Madam Carroll, that he was a Baptist?" asked Miss Bolt,
thoughtfully looking at the mound.

"The Walleys are Baptists, you know," answered the lady of the Farms.
"They had their pastor there several times, and on the last day Mrs.
Walley was sure that Mr.--Mr. Dupont was conscious, and that he joined
in their prayers, and assented to what was said."

"I don't believe he was _anything_--I mean, anything in particular,"
said Mrs. General Hibbard, decisively. "He hadn't that air."

"Oh, dear Mrs. Hibbard, surely we should be charitable," said little
Miss Tappen, who was waiting with a wreath of her best chrysanthemums to
place upon the completed mound.

"Well, Amelia, can you say he _had_?" said the General's widow, in an
argumentative tone, with her forefinger extended.

"I suppose he had neither father nor mother, nor any near relatives,
poor fellow, as he never spoke of them," observed Miss Dalley; "that is,
I never heard that he did. But perhaps he talked more freely to you,
Madam Carroll. Did he ever mention his parents?"

"Mamma, I think we had better go now," interposed Sara Carroll. "You are
very tired, I know."

"Oh, yes," said all the ladies, "do go, dear Madam Carroll." "You have
had so much to do lately." "You are looking quite fatigued, really."
"Pray take care of yourself, for all our sakes."

Madam Carroll looked at the mound, which was now nearly completed. Then
she made a little gesture of farewell to the group, and turned with her
daughter towards the gate. All the ladies wore black dresses: it was the
custom at Far Edgerley to wear black at funerals. Madam Carroll not
only wore a black dress, but she had put a black ribbon on her little
straw bonnet.

"Isn't it sweet of her to do that?" said Miss Dalley. "It makes it a
sort of mourning, you know; and I like to think that the poor lonely
fellow had at least one mourner to stand beside his grave."

The path took the two ladies past the study. Its door was open; the
rector saw them, and came out. He offered his arm in silence to Madam
Carroll. She took it. She was trembling a little. "I am excessively
tired," she said, as if apologizing.

"Yes, I noticed it during the prayer."

"Then you were there?" She spoke mechanically, more as if she were
filling the time that must pass before they could reach the gate than as
though she cared for reply.

"I was both at the house and the grave," answered Owen. He did not look
at Sara, who was on the other side of Madam Carroll. He could not.
During all these days and nights of Dupont's last illness, and since his
death, he had been haunted by the thought of the grief she must be
enduring. And yet to have seen the least trace of that grief in her face
(and he should be sure to see it, though others might not), would have
been intolerable to him. He did not, therefore, once look at her; he was
a man of stern self-control as regarded his actions. But he could not
help his feelings; and these gave him new suffering as he walked on, so
near her, yet separated from her by the gulf of that bitter knowledge.
Their carriage was waiting at the gate; he assisted them in, bowed, and
they drove away.

Scar and the Major were sitting at the open window of the library as the
two ladies alighted at the door. "Mamma, it seems a _very_ long time
since you and sister Sara went away," said the child, leaning out to
speak to them. "Papa and I have taken a walk, and looked at all our
pictures, and told all our stories; and now we are sitting here waiting
for you."

"I will come in a few minutes, my pet," said Madam Carroll.

Sara went directly to the library, and sat down beside her father's
chair. He wished to hear all about the funeral of "that poor young man,"
and she answered his questions at length, and told him everything she
could think of in connection with it. The Major had known Dupont but
vaguely; he had seen him at the reception, but the face had faded from
his memory, and he should not have known him had they met again. He was
a musical genius who had appeared among them. He was glad that he had
appeared; it was a variety, and they had so little variety in Far
Edgerley. Good music was always an addition, and Marion was very fond
of music, very; he was glad she could have this little enjoyment. He had
said this to Marion several times. But it was a sad end--very--to die
alone among strangers, so far from home.

After some delay, Madam Carroll came in. She had taken off her black
dress and put on a bright little gown of blue; her hair had been
recurled, and there was a lovely color in her cheeks, and some sprays of
cream-colored honeysuckle in her blue belt. As she came nearer, the
Major's old eyes dwelt upon her with childlike pleasure and pride. "You
are looking very charming this evening, Madam Carroll," he said, with
his old-fashioned gallantry.

She sat down beside him. "Sara has been telling me about the funeral of
that unfortunate young musician," he continued. "It was like you,
Marion, to show so much kindness to the poor fellow, whoever he was, and
I am glad you did it. Kindness to the unfortunate and the stranger has
always been an especial characteristic of the Carroll family, and you
have merely represented me in this matter, done what I, of course,
should have done had I been well--had I quite recovered from my illness
of last winter, you know. But I am much improved--much improved. This
poor young man seems to have been utterly alone in the world, since even
when he was dying, and knew that he was, he told no one, as I
understand it, anything of his parentage, or life, or history, and left
no letters or even a message for friends. It is really quite

"Papa," said Sara, "now that we are all here, wouldn't it be a good time
to look at the new photographs?" The photographs were views of English
scenery which she had sent for; the Major had been in England, and liked
to relate reminiscences of his visit. He was interested at once.

"Certainly," he answered, with alacrity, "an excellent idea. Scar, get
the boxes."

Scar brought the boxes, and gave one of them to his mother; as he did so
his hand touched hers. "Why, mamma, are you so cold?" he said, in
surprise. "It is still summer, mamma, and quite warm."

"It is nothing," answered Madam Carroll; "only a passing chill. It is
over now."


A few days after the funeral of the musician the Major was taken ill. It
was not the failure of strength, which often came over him, nor the
confused feeling in the head, of which he never spoke, but which his
wife always recognized when she saw him sitting with his forehead bent
and his hand over his eyes. This time he had fever, and was slightly
delirious; he seemed also to be in pain. Madam Carroll and Sara did not
leave him; they were in deep anxiety. But in the evening relief came;
the fever ceased, and he fell into a quiet sleep. The two women kissed
him softly, and, still anxious, stole into the next room to keep the
watch, leaving the door open between the two. A shaded night-lamp
faintly illumined the room where he lay, but the outer one was in
darkness. Scar had gone to bed, and the house was very still; they could
hear the murmur of the brook through the open window; for although it
was now towards the last of October, it was still summer in that favored
land. The outer room was large, and they sat on a sofa at its far end;
they could talk in low tones without danger of disturbing the Major,
whose sleeping face they could see through the open door.

The moon rose. Madam Carroll went into the Major's room and closed the
dark curtains, so that the increasing light should not waken him; when
she came back the silver radiance had reached Sara, and was illuminating
her face and figure as she leaned against the cushions of the sofa. "He
is sleeping naturally and restfully now," said the wife, as she took her
seat again; "his face has lost that look of pain it has had all day. But
do you know that you yourself are looking far from well, Sara?"

"I know it. And I am ashamed of it. When I see you doing everything, and
bearing everything, without one outward sign, without the least change
in your face or expression, I am ashamed that I have so little

"Have you been supposing, then, that all this unvarying pink and white
color was my own? Have you never suspected that I put it on?--that it
was fictitious? I began in July--you know when. It was for that reason
that I altered the hours of our receptions from afternoon to evening:
candle-light is more favorable, you know. I also began then to wear a
little lace veil. You think me about thirty-five, don't you? I am
forty-eight. I was thirty-five when I married the Major. All this golden
hair would be heavily streaked with gray if I should let it alone."

"Do not feel obliged to tell me anything, mamma."

"I prefer that you should know; and it is also a relief to me to tell,"
answered Madam Carroll, her eyes on the dark outline of the mountains,
visible in the moonlight through the open window. "My poor little
Cecilia passed easily for six, she was so small and frail, like Scar; in
reality she was over ten. The story was, you know, that I had been
married the first time at sixteen. That part was true; but nineteen
years had passed instead of seven, as they supposed. You are wondering,
probably, why I should have deceived your father in such little things,
matters unimportant. There had been no plan for deceiving him; it had
been begun before I met him; he simply believed what the others
believed. And later I found that they were not unimportant to him--those
little things; they were important. He thought a great deal of them. He
thought a great deal of my youth; youth and ignorance of the world,
child-like inexperience, had made up his ideal of me, and by the time I
found it out, his love and goodness, his dear protection, had become so
much to me that I could not run the risk of losing them by telling him
his mistake. I know now that I need not have feared this, I need not
have feared anything where he was concerned; but I did not know then,
and I was afraid. He saw in me a little blue-eyed, golden-haired
girl-mother, unacquainted with the dark side of life, trusting, sweet.
It was this very youth and childlike look which had attracted him, man
of the world as he was himself, and no longer young. I feared to shatter
his dream. In addition, that part did not seem to me of any especial
consequence; I knew that I should be able to live up to his ideal, to
maintain it not only fully, but longer, probably, than as though I had
been in reality the person he supposed me to be; for now it would be a
purpose, determinedly and carefully carried out, and not mere chance. I
knew that I could look the same for years longer; I have that kind of
diminutive prettiness which, with attention, does not change; and I
should give the greatest attention. I felt, too, that I should always be
entirely devoted to him. Gallant and handsome as he was, he was not
young, and I knew that I should care for him just the same through
illness, age, or infirmity; for I have that kind of faithfulness (many
women haven't) and--I loved him.

"And as to my little dead boy, there again there had been no plan for
deceiving him. People had supposed from my young face that I could have
been married but a year or two, and that Cecilia had been my only child.
It was imagined from my silence that my marriage had not been a happy
one--they said I had that look--and therefore no one questioned me; they
took it all for granted. I said that my husband was dead. But I said no
more. I had decided, for Cecilia's sake, to keep the secret of the
manner of his death: why should her innocent life be clouded by the
story of her father? Besides, could I go about proclaiming, relating,
his--shortcomings? He was my husband, though he had cared so little for
me; he was my husband, though he had taken from me my darling little
son. And about that son, my poor little drowned boy, I simply had never
been able to speak; the hurt was too deep; I could not have spoken
without telling what I had decided not to tell, for where he was
concerned I could not have invented. Thus I had kept the secret at first
from loyalty to my dead husband, and for the sake of my little girl; I
kept it later, Sara, because I was afraid. The Major loved me--yes; but
would he continue to love me if he should know that instead of being the
youthful little woman barely twenty-three, I was over thirty-five? that
instead of being inexperienced, unacquainted with the dark side of life,
I knew all, had been through all? that instead of the dear little
girl's being my only child, I was the mother of a son who, had he lived,
would have been a man almost full-grown--would he continue to love me
through all this? I was afraid he would not.

"Remember that _I_ had not planned his idea of me, I had had nothing to
do with it; he had made it himself. Remember, too, that such as it was,
I knew I could live up to it, that he need never be disappointed, that I
could fully realize his dream. In that, at least, I have succeeded. I
have lived up to it, I have _been_ it, so long, that there have even
been times when I have seemed to myself to really be the pretty, bright
little wife, thirty years younger than her husband, that I was
pretending to be. But that feeling can never come again.

"I am not excusing myself to you, Sara, in all this; I am only
explaining myself. Under the same circumstances you would never have
done it, nor under twenty times the same circumstances. But I am not
you; I am not anybody but myself. That lofty kind of vision which sees
only the one path, and that the highest, is not mine; I always see all
the shorter paths, lower down, that lead to the same place--the
cross-cuts. I can do little things well, and I can do a great many of
them; I have that kind of small and ever-present cleverness. But the
great things, the wide view--they are beyond me. And do not forget,
too, how much it was to me. It was everything. I was alone in the world
with my delicate little girl, who needed so much that I could not
give--luxuries, constant care, the best advice. I had strained every
nerve, made use of all my poor little knowledge and my trifling
accomplishments; I had worked as hard as I possibly could; and the
result of all my efforts was that I had barely succeeded in getting our
bread from day to day, with nothing laid up for the future, and the end
of my small strength near at hand. For I was not fitted for that kind of
struggle, and I knew that I was not. I could work and plan and
accomplish, and even, I believed, successfully, but only when
sheltered--sheltered in a home, no matter how plain, protected from
actual contact with the crowd. In a crowd there is always brutality; in
a crowd I lost heart. What were my small plans, which always concerned
themselves with the delicate little things and details, in the great
pushing struggle for bread? It was when I was fully realizing the
hopelessness of all my efforts, when the future was at its blackest, and
I could not look at Cecilia without danger of tears--for they had told
me that something might be done for her during the next year--for her
poor spine--and I had not the money to pay for it--it was then that your
father's love came to me like a gift straight down from heaven. But do
not think that I did not love him in return--really love him for
himself, not for what he gave me. I did. I do. I had suffered so much,
my life had been so crushed under sorrow and trouble, that, save my love
for Cecilia, I seemed to myself to have no feelings left; I thought they
were all dead. But when the Major began to love me, when he spoke--oh,
then I knew that they were not! I felt that I had never known what real
happiness was until that day; and my whole heart turned to him. There
was gratitude in my love, I do not deny it; but the gratitude was for my
little girl--the love was all for him. It has never lessened, Sara, from
that hour.

"It seemed to me such a wonderful thing that he should love me! It gave
me such a strange surprise that he should care for my little doll-like
face and curls. But when I found that he did care for them, how precious
they became to me, how hard I tried to keep them pretty for his sake!
And, for his sake, I not only kept them pretty, but I made them
prettier. I was a far prettier woman after the Major married me than I
was before; I had a motive to be so. Ah, yes, I loved him, Sara! May you
never have a comprehension of the ill-usage, the suffering, I had been
through! but still, without such knowledge, you will hardly be able to
understand the depth of my love for him. When he first saw me, I was
making an effort to seem comparatively cheerful; I was spending a few
weeks with Mrs. Upton, the wife of an army officer, at Mayberry, and I
did not want her to suspect my inward despair. Mrs. Upton had known me
at Natchez while I was trying to keep a little school there, and when I
came to Mayberry to try again, she asked me to come and spend a few
weeks with her before I began. She knew that I was poor--she did not
know how poor--and she had always been fond of Cecilia, who was--surely
I may say it now--a very beautiful child. Think of it all, Sara;
remember the needs of the child; remember what he was himself, and--that
I loved him."

"I do think of it. And I do not blame you," Sara Carroll answered,
speaking not as the daughter, but as one woman speaks to another. "You
have made my father's life a very happy one."

"I have tried; but it has always been in my own narrow way, the little
things of each day and hour. It was the only way I knew."

There was a silence; the room had grown dark, as a broad bank of cloud
came slowly over the moon.

"Cecilia is with her brother to-night," said Madam Carroll, after a
while; "Cecilia is a woman now, a woman in heaven. She was twenty-two on
the 11th of September. I wonder what they are saying to each other! He
used to be so fond of her, so proud when I let him hold her for a few
minutes in his strong little arms! They will be sure to meet and talk
together; don't you think so?"

"How can we know, mamma?" said Sara, sadly.

"We cannot. Yet we do," answered Madam Carroll. "I know it; I am sure of
it." She was silent for a moment; then went on speaking softly in the
darkness, as if half to herself. "His poor clothes, Sara--oh, so
neglected and worn!--I could not bear it when I saw them. I had asked
him about them more than once, and he always said that they were in good
order--that is, good enough. But I pressed him; I wanted to see with my
own eyes; and at last I succeeded in persuading him to bring a few of
them late in the evening when no one would see him, and put them under
the hedge near the gate; then, when everybody was asleep, I stole down
to get them, took them into the sitting-room, lighted the lamp, and
looked at them. In 'good order' he had called them, poor boy, when they
were almost rags. I cried over those clothes, Sara; I could not help it;
they were the only tears I shed. It showed so plainly what his life had
been. I could not help remembering in what careful order were all his
little frocks and jackets when he was my dear little child. After that I
made him bring me a few things once a week. I gave him a little old
carpet-bag of mine to put them in. I used to mend them in my
dressing-room, with the door locked, whenever I had a little leisure (I
took only my leisure), and then I carried them down and put them under
the hedge when I knew he was coming. It was a comfort to me to do it;
but he didn't care anything about the mending himself--he said so. He
had lived so long with his poor things neglected and ragged that he
didn't know any other way. Yet he tried, too, after his fashion--a man's
fashion--to dress well. Don't you remember his red silk handkerchiefs
and socks, and his silk-lined umbrella? Poor boy, he had the wish; but
not the money or the knowledge. How could he learn, living where and as
he had? That watch-chain and ring he had when he came back--they were
only gilt."

The grieving story was no longer uttered aloud, the low tones ceased.
But the mother was pursuing the train of thought in her own mind.

After a while she spoke again. "I was so unwilling to tell you, Sara, to
burden you with it all! Nothing could have made me do it but the fear
of--of that which afterwards _did_ happen--death. For when he came back
after that illness, and I saw how changed he was, how weak, and knew
that I had nothing to help him with, then I felt desperate. I knew that
he ought to return to that warmer climate, and at once; I had nothing of
my own, and the Major's money, of course, I would not take. Yours is not
his, and so I came to you; I knew that you would help me to the utmost
of your power--as you have. But if there had been any possible
alternative, anything else in the world that I could have done--and I
thought over everything--I want you to believe that I should never have
come to you."

"It was too much for you to bear alone, mamma."

"No, it was not that; I could have borne much more. I have borne it. But
what I could not bear was that he should be ill. I had exhausted every
means I had when he went away the first time; there was nothing left. I
had given all I had--all, excepting things which the Major himself had
given me. I had even stretched a point, and added the watch your uncle
Mr. Chase sent me when I was married. There was the little breast-pin,
also, that Mrs. Upton gave me at the same time. Then there was the gold
thimble and the sleeve-buttons you sent me from Longfields, and the gold
pencil Senator Ashley gave me one Christmas. I even put in my little
coral necklace. It had belonged to Cecilia, and was the only thing I had
left from her baby days; it was of little, almost no value
intrinsically, as I knew, because I had tried to sell it more than once
when she and I were so poor; but if it could add even a few shillings to
the hoard--so small!--that was to take him back to the climate he
needed, I was glad to have it go. I tell you this only to show you that
absolute necessity, and that alone, drove me to you."

"I am so glad you came, mamma!--glad that I was able to help you, or at
least that you let me try."

"Yes, you were glad to help me; you were very kind and good," answered
the Major's wife. Then, sitting erect, and with a quicker utterance,
"But you were always afraid of him. You never trusted him. You were
always afraid that he would be traitorous, that he would go to your
father, _I_ was never afraid; I knew that he would never betray; he
cared too much for me, for his poor mother; for although he had not been
with me since he was a child, in his way he loved me. He was never
selfish, he was only unthinking, my poor, neglected boy! But _you_ never
gave him any mercy; you suspected him to the last."

"Oh, no, mamma; I tried--"

"Yes, you tried. But you were always Miss Carroll, always scornful at
heart, cold. You endured him; that was all. And do not think he did not
see it, was not hurt by it! But I did not mean to reproach you, Sara;
it is not just. I will stop this minute." She brought one hand down into
the palm of the other with a decided little sound, and held them thus
pressed tightly together for several minutes. Then, letting them fall
apart, she leaned her head back against the cushions again. "You were
thinking of your father," she said, in a gentler tone; "that was the
cause of all, of your coldness, your fear. You were afraid that Julian
would do something to distress him, to disturb his peace. But he would
never have done that. You did not know him, Sara; you never in the least
comprehended him. But I must not keep going back to that. Rather tell
me--and speak truthfully, it can make no difference now--do you think
there was any time, after my poor boy's first coming, when we could have
safely told the Major?"

"No," answered the Major's daughter, "there was no time. He could not
have borne it; the surprise, the shock, would have been too great."

"So it seemed to me. But I wanted your opinion too. You see, about me
there is more than there used to be in his mind, or, rather, in his
fancy: he doesn't distinguish. What were once surmises he now thinks
facts, and he fully believes in them. He has constructed a sort of
history, and has woven in all sorts of imaginary theories in the most
curious way. For instance, he thinks that my mother was one of a family
well known in New York--so they tell me, at least; I know little of New
York--the Forsters of Forster's Island. My mother was plain Mary Foster,
from Chester, Vermont, or its neighborhood, a farmer's daughter. In the
same way he has built up a belief that my father was an Episcopal
clergyman, and that he was educated in England. My father was a Baptist
missionary; he was a man of fair education (he educated me), but he was
never in England in his life. These are only parts of it, his late
fancies about me. To have brushed them all away, to have told him that
they were false, that I had all along been deceiving him, to have
bewildered him, given him so much pain--my dear gray-haired old Major!
Oh, Sara, I could never have done it! 'A son? he would have said,
perplexed.' But there is only little Scar.' It would have been cruelty,
he believes in me so!" Her voice quivered, and she stopped.

"He has never had more cause to believe in you than now, mamma--to
believe in your love for him; he does not know it, but some day he will.
You have been so unswerving in your determination to make secure, first
of all, his happiness and tranquillity, so unmindful of your own pain,
that it seems to me, his daughter, as if you had never been so faithful
a wife to him as now."

"Oh, say it again!" said Madam Carroll, burying her face in her hands.
"I did my best, or at least I tried; but I have been

The Major stirred in the next room; they hurried softly in. He was
awake; he turned his head and looked at his wife as she stood beside the
bed. "You and Sara both here?" he said. "Did I go to bed, then, very
early this evening?" He did not wait for reply, but went on. "I have had
such a beautiful dream, Marion; it was about that drive we took when we
were first married--do you remember? Through the woods near Mayberry.
There was that same little stream that we had to cross so many times,
and the same bank where you got out and gathered wild violets, and the
same spring where we drank, and that broken bridge where you were so
frightened--do you remember?"

"Yes," answered his wife, brightly; "and I remember, too, that you lost
your way, and pretended that you had not, and wouldn't ask, for fear I
should suspect it."

The Major laughed, feebly, but with enjoyment. "I didn't want _you_ to
know that _I_ didn't know everything--even the country roads," he
answered. "For I was old enough to be your father, and you were such a
little thing; I had my dignity to keep up, you see." He laughed again.
"That spring was very cold, wasn't it?" he said, and he lay thinking of
it for a minute or two. Then slowly his eyes closed; he had fallen
asleep. They waited, but he did not waken. His sleep was peaceful, and
they went back again to their watch in the outer room.

"It is two o'clock, mamma. Won't you lie down for a while? I am strong,
and not at all tired; if he should waken, I will at once call you."

"I could not sleep," answered Madam Carroll, taking her former seat. "We
could neither of us sleep, I fancy, while there was the least danger of
the fever's returning--as the doctor said it might."

"I thought perhaps you might rest, even if you did not sleep."

"I shall never be any more rested than I am now," answered the Major's
wife. After a silence of some length she spoke again; "In all this we
should not forget Mr. Owen," she said, as though taking up a task which
must be performed. "I feel sure that he is suffering deeply. You know
what he must be thinking?"

"So long as he does not speak, what he thinks is of small consequence,"
said Miss Carroll.

"It may be so to you. It is not to him." She paused. "I can remember
that I once liked him," she went on, in a monotonous tone. "And I can
even believe that I shall like him again. But not now, not now. Now it
is too near--those cruel words he spoke about my boy."

"He did not know--"

"Of course he did not; and I try to be just. He was angry, hurt,
alarmed; he was hurt that I should treat him as I did--I treated him
horribly--and he was alarmed about you. I have never thanked you for
what you did that day, Sara--the day he came to warn us; I could not.
For I knew how you loathed it--the expedient you took. You only took it
because there was no other."

"You are very hard to me, mamma."

"About your feeling I am; how can I help it? But not about the deed:
that was noble. In order to help me you let Mr. Owen suppose that you
were engaged to a man he--he utterly despised. Well, you helped me. But
you hurt him; you hurt Frederick Owen that morning about as deeply as
you could." She moved to Sara's side in the darkness, took her hand with
a quick grasp and held it in both her own. "And you are so proud," she
whispered softly, "that you will never acknowledge that you hurt
yourself too; that the sacrifice you then made in lowering yourself by
your own act in his eyes was as great a one as a woman can make; for he
loves you devotedly, jealously, and you--_you_ know how much you care
for him."

Without leaving time for reply, she moved back to her former place, and
went on with what she had been saying, as though that sudden soft
interpolated whisper had not existed. "Yes--this strange double feeling
that I have about Frederick Owen makes me even feel sorry for him at
times, sorry to have him suffer as I know he must be suffering, sorry to
have him think what I know he must be thinking of you; and also of me.
For he thinks that you had a liking for a man whom he considered
unworthy to speak your name (oh, detestable arrogance!); he thinks that
it was clandestine, that you dared not tell your father; and that I was
protecting you in it as well as I could; all this, of course, he must
believe. Death has put an end to it, and now it will never be known;
this also he is thinking. But, meanwhile, _he_ knows it. And he cannot
forget it. He thinks you have in your heart the same feeling still. But
I remembered--I did what I could for you by telling him that it was but
a fancy of the moment, that it would pass."

"Oh!" murmured Sara, with a quick, involuntary gesture of repulsion;
then she stopped.

"I was trying to pave a way out of it for you. You do not like the way,
because it includes--includes the supposition that you--But one can
never please you, Sara Carroll!"

She rose and began to walk swiftly to and fro across the room, her
footsteps making no sound on the thick, faded, old-fashioned carpet--a
relic from the days of the Sea Island Carrolls.

"What do you want me to do?" she said, abruptly, as she passed Sara for
the fourth time.

"If you are alluding to Mr. Owen, I don't want you to do anything,"
answered Miss Carroll.

"Oh, you are proud! For the present nothing can be done. But let me tell
you one thing--do not be _too_ repellent. 'Tis good in me to warn you,
to take his part, when I hate him so--hate him for what he said. Do you
suppose I would have had him reading prayers over my poor dead boy after
what had passed? Never in the world. No one who despised him should come
near him. So I had the Baptist minister. I was a Baptist myself when I
was a girl--if I ever was a girl! All this hurts _you_, of course; but I
cannot help it. Be patient. Some day I shall forgive him. Perhaps soon."
She had paused in front of Sara as she said this, for they had both been
guardedly careful to speak in the lowest tones.

The girl left her place on the sofa; she rose and walked beside her
stepmother as she resumed her quick, restless journey to and fro across
the floor. They came and went in silence for many minutes. Then Sara
put her arm round Madam Carroll, and drew her towards the sofa again.

"Rest awhile, mamma," she said, placing the cushions so that she could
lie easily; "you do not know how very tired you are." And Madam Carroll
for a half-hour yielded.

"We must bear with each other, Sara," she said, as she lay with her eyes
closed. "For amid all our other feelings, there is one which we have in
common, our love for your father. That is and always must be a tie
between you and me."

"Always," answered Sara.

A little after daylight the Major woke. There had been no return of the
fever; he had slept in peace while they kept the vigil near him; his
illness was over. As he opened his eyes, his wife came to the bedside;
she had just risen--or so it seemed, for she wore a rose-colored
wrapper, and on her head a little lace cap adorned with rose-colored
ribbon. The Major had not seen the cap before; he thought it very

"Trying to be old, are you, Madam Carroll?" he said; "old and matronly?"

Sara came in not long afterwards; she, too, was freshly dressed in a
white wrapper.

"I have brought you your breakfast, papa," she said.

"Isn't it earlier than usual?" asked the Major, turning his dim eyes
towards the window. But he could not see the light of the sunrise on the

"I am afraid, Major, that you are growing indolent," said Madam Carroll,
with pretended severity, as she poured out his tea.

"Indolent?" said the Major--"indolent? Indolence is nothing to vanity.
And you and Sara, in your pink and white gowns, are living images of
vanity this morning, Madam Carroll."



Autumn at last came over the mountains; she decked them in her most
sumptuous colors, and passed slowly on towards the south. The winds
followed the goddess, eight of them; they came sounding their long
trumpets through the defiles; they held carnival in the high green
valleys; they attacked the forests and routed the lighter foliage, but
could not do much against the stiff, dark ranks of the firs. They
careered over all the peaks; sometimes they joined hands on
Chillawassee's head, and whirled round in a great circle, laughing
loudly, for half a day; and then the little people who lived on the
ground said to each other that it "blew from all round the sky."

They came to Far Edgerley more than once; they blew through Edgerley
Street; at night the villagers in their beds heard the long trumpets
through the near gorges, and felt their houses shake. But they were
accustomed to these autumn visitors; they had a theory, too, that this
great sweeping of their peaks and sky was excellent for their mountain
air. And upon the subject of their air there was much conceit in Far

When at length the winds had betaken themselves to the lowlands, with
the intention of blowing across the levels of Georgia and Florida, and
coming round to surprise the northerners at Indian River and St.
Augustine, the quiet winter opened in the mountains they had left behind
them. The Major had had no return of his October illness; he came to
church on Sundays as usual, and appeared at his wife's receptions. It
was noticed, although no one spoke of it, that he did not hold himself
quite so erect as formerly, and that perhaps his eyesight was not quite
so good; but he still remained to his village the exemplar of all that
was noble and distinguished, and they admired him and talked about him
as much as ever. He was their legend, their escutcheon; so long as they
had him they felt distinguished themselves.

The winter amusements began about Christmastime. They consisted
principally of the Sewing Society and the Musical Afternoons. To these
entertainments "the gentlemen" came in the evening--F. Kenneway, Mr.
Phipps, the junior warden, and the rector, when they could get him. A
Whist Club had, indeed, been proposed. There was a double motive in
this proposal. There were persons in the congregation who considered
whist-playing a test of the best churchmanship; these were secretly
desirous to see the test applied to the new rector, or rather the new
rector applied to it. But the thoughtful Mrs. Greer, having foreseen
this very possibility at an early date in the summer, had herself
sounded the rector upon the subject, and brought back a negative upon
the end of her delicate conversational line. She had asked him if he
thought that the sociability engendered by card-tables at small parties
could, in his opinion, counterbalance the danger which familiarity with
the pasteboard squares might bring to their young men (Phipps and
Kenneway); and whether he himself, at moments of leisure, and when he
wished to rest from intellectual fatigue, of which, of course, he must
have _so_ much, ever whiled away the time with these same gilded
symbols, not with others, but by himself.

Owen, who had not for the moment paid that attention to the eloquence of
Mrs. Greer which he should have done, did not understand her. He had
received an impression of cymbals. This was no surprise to him; he had
found Mrs. Greer capable of the widest range of subjects.

"I mean the painted emblems, you know--cards," explained Mrs. Greer;
"clubs, diamonds, and spades, Mr. Owen. Nor should we leave out hearts.
I was referring, when I spoke, to solitaire. But there is also whist.
Whist is, in its way, a climate by itself--a climate of geniality."

This was a phrase of Madam Carroll's. Mrs. Greer had collected a large
assortment of phrases from the overflow of the Farms. These she
treasured, and dealt out one by one; her conversation was richly adorned
with them. She had excellent opportunities for collecting, as Madam
Carroll had long been in the habit of telling her any little item which
she wished to have put in circulation through the village in a certain
guise. She always knew that her exact phrase would be repeated, but not
as hers; it would be repeated as if it were original with the lady who
spoke it. This was precisely what Madam Carroll intended. To have said
herself, for instance, that the new chintz curtains of her drawing-room
combined delicacy and durability, and a bower-like brightness, was too
apparent; but for Mrs. Greer to say it (in every house on Edgerley
Street) was perfectly proper, and accomplished the same result. The
whole town remarked upon the delicacy and the durability and the
bower-like brightness; and the curtains, which she had made and put up
herself at small expense, took their place among the many other
peculiarly admirable things possessed by the Farms. Upon the present
occasion, however, Mrs. Greer gave Madam Carroll's name to the phrase
she had repeated; she thought it would have more influence. "Yes, that
is what our dear Madam Carroll used to call it--a climate of geniality,"
she said, looking at the rector with an inquiring smile.

But, ignoring the phrase of the Farms, none the less did Owen bring out
his negative; with the gilded symbols he did not amuse himself, either
alone or in company.

Armed, therefore, with this knowledge, Mrs. Greer was ready; she met the
project of the Whist Club in its bud, and vanquished it with a Literary
Society, whose first four meetings she gave herself, with a delicate
little hot supper thrown in. The Whist Club could not stand against
this, Miss Honoria Ashley, who was its chief supporter, offering only
apples and conversation. But a large cold apple on a winter night is not
calculated to rouse enthusiasm; while, as to conversation, everybody
knew that hot coffee promoted it. So the Literary Society conquered, and
the whist test was not, for that season at least, applied to the
churchmanship of the rector.

During these winter months Owen kept himself constantly busy. It was
thought that he worked too hard. He looked tired; sometimes, young and
strong as he was, he looked worn. There was a good deal of motherly
anxiety about this; some sisterly, too. Ferdinand Kenneway said that he
felt towards him like a brother. But Owen pursued his own course,
unmindful of these sympathetic feelings. He came to Madam Carroll's
receptions as usual, but did not stay long: he was the last to come and
the first to go. He called at the Farms, though not often; and when he
went there, he did not go alone.

So the winter passed on and departed, and spring came. Then a sorrow
fell upon the little mountain town. Early one soft morning in March,
when the cinnamon-colored tassels were out on the trees, and the air was
warm and gray, with the smell of rain in it, word came down Edgerley
Street, passing from house to house, that Carroll Farms had been visited
in the night: the Major, their Major, had wakened quiet and content, but
like a little child; the powers of his mind had been taken from him.

Every one had loved him, and now there was real mourning. They all said
to each other and to themselves that they should never look upon his
like again. The poor nation had greatly retrograded since his day; even
their state was not what it had been; under these circumstances it could
not be expected that the world should soon produce another Scarborough
Carroll. They went over all the history of his life: his generous
sharing of his fortune with his half-brother; his silence under the
forgetfulness of that half-brother's children; his high position and
many friends in the old army; his brilliant record in the later army,
their own army, vanquished, but still dear to them, the army of the
South; they told again the story of his gallant ride round the enemy's
forces in the Valley, of his charge up the hill at Fredericksburg, his
last brave defence of the bridge on the way to Appomattox. His wounds
were recalled, his shattered arm, the loss of his money, so
uncomplainingly borne; they spoke of his beautiful courtesy to every
one, and of his unfailing kindness to all the poor. And then, how
handsome he was, how noble in bearing and expression, how polished in
manner! such a devoted husband and father, so pure a patriot! Their dear
old Major: they could not say enough.

The junior warden kept his room all day; he could not bear to hear it
talked about. Then the next morning out he went at an early hour to see
everybody he knew, and he told them all how very imprudent Carroll had
always been, recklessly so, recklessly. He was up and down Edgerley
Street all day, swinging his cane more than usual as he walked, thus
giving a light and juvenile air to his arms and shoulders, which was
perhaps somewhat contradicted by the uncertain tread of his little old
feet. In the afternoon Frederick Owen went to the Farms; for the first
time since the preceding October he went alone. Miss Carroll was in the
drawing-room when he came in; she was receiving a visit of general
inquiry and condolence from the three Miss Rendleshams. They went away
after a while, and then, before he had had time to speak--as he stood
there realizing that he had not been alone with her since that day, now
six months in the past, when she had told him of her engagement to
Dupont--he saw through the open door of the drawing-room the small
figure of Madam Carroll. She had not come down to see the three Miss
Rendleshams. But she did come down to see the rector. She came straight
to him, with her quick, light step. "I heard that you were here, and
came down. I am anxious to see you, Mr. Owen. Not to-day, but soon. I
thought I would come down myself and ask you; I did not want to write a

"At any time you will name," answered Owen. He had risen as she entered.
Miss Carroll had seemed to him unchanged, save that her eyes showed that
she had been crying; but the Major's wife, he said to himself, with
almost awe-struck astonishment--the Major's wife, had he met her
elsewhere, he should hardly have known. Her veil of golden hair, no
longer curled, was put plainly back, and fastened in a close knot
behind; her eyes, the blue eyes he had always thought so pretty, looked
tired and sunken and dim, with crows'-feet at their corners; all her
lovely bloom was gone, and the whole of her little faded face was a
net-work of minute wrinkles. She was still small and slender, and she
still had her pretty features; but this was an old woman who was talking
to him, and Madam Carroll had been so young.

"It will not be for some days yet, I think," she was saying. "I shall
wait until the doctor has made up his mind. He wants more time, though I
want none; when he does make it up, it will be as mine is now. But I
prefer to wait until he sees clearly; will you ask him from day to day
what he thinks, and, when he has decided, then will you come?"

"Yes," replied Owen. "But do you mean that the Major--"

"I mean that the Major is in no immediate danger; that he will continue
about the same. He will not grow better, but neither will he grow much
worse. He may be brighter at times, but he will not regain his memory;
that is gone. But we shall not lose him, Mr. Owen, that is our great
happiness. We shall not lose him, Sara and I, as we had at first

Two tears rolled down her cheeks as she spoke. "It is because I am so
thankful," she said, wiping them away. Her long lace-bordered sleeves
had been turned back, and Owen was struck with the old, withered look of
her small wrists and hands.

"I could not have borne it to lose him now," she went on, as if
explaining. "You may think that existence such as his will be is no
blessing, nothing to be desired for him or for me. But he is not
suffering, he is even happy as a child is happy, and he knows me. He
would be content himself to wait a little, if he could know how much it
was to me, how much to have him with me, so that I can devote myself to
him, devote myself entirely."

"You have always done that, Madam Carroll," said Owen, touched by her

"You will come, then--on whatever day the doctor makes up his mind," she
said, controlling herself, and returning to her subject.

Here Miss Carroll spoke. "Isn't it better not to make engagements for
the present, mamma?" she said, warningly. "You will overtax your

"It is overtaxed at this moment far less than it has been for many a
long month," answered Madam Carroll, as it seemed to Owen, strangely.
She passed her hand over her forehead, and then, as if putting herself
aside in order to consider her companions for a moment, she looked first
at Sara, then turned and looked at Owen. "Do not stay any longer now,"
she said to him, gently, in an advising tone. He obeyed her, and went

On the tenth day after this the doctor, whose conclusions, if slowly
made, were sure, announced his decision: it tallied exactly with that of
Madam Carroll. The Major was in no present danger; his physical health
was fairly good; his condition would not change much, and he might
linger on in this state for several years. And then the Far Edgerley
people, knowing that no more pain would come to him, and that he was
tranquil and even happy, that he recognized his wife, and that she gave
to him the most beautiful and tender devotion--then these Far Edgerley
people were glad and thankful to have him with them still; not wholly
gone, though lying unseen in his peaceful room, which faced the west, so
that the sunset could shine every day upon the quiet sunset of his life.
And they thought, some of them, that thanksgiving prayers should be
offered for this in the church. And they all prayed for him at home,
each family in its own way.

On the afternoon of the day when the doctor had made up his mind,
Frederick Owen went to the Farms. Madam Carroll came down to see him;
she took him to the library, now unused, and when they had entered, she
closed the door. "Will you sit here beside me?" she said, indicating a
sofa opposite the window. Again he was struck by the great--as it seemed
to him, the marvellous--change in her. She looked even older than
before; her hair was put back in the same plain way; there was the same
absence of color, the same tired look in her eyes, the same fine
net-work of wrinkles over all her small face; but added to these there
was now a settled sadness of expression which he felt would never pass
away. He missed, too, all the changing inflections and gestures, the
pretty little manner and attitudes, and even the pronunciation, which he
had supposed to belong inseparably to her, which he had thought entirely
her own. He missed likewise, though unconsciously, the prettiness of the
bright little gowns she had always worn; she was dressed now in black,
without color or ornament.

She seemed to divine his thoughts. "The Major can no longer see me," she
said, quietly; "that is, with any distinctness. It is no longer anything
to him--what I wear."

He had taken the seat she had offered; she sat beside him, with her
hands folded, her eyes on the opposite wall. "I have a story to tell
you," she said. "But I can make no prefaces; I cannot speak of feelings.
I hope for your interest, Mr. Owen, even for your sympathy; but if I get
them it will be accomplished by a narrative of facts alone, and not by
any pathos in the words themselves. I got beyond pathos long ago. My
name was Marion More. My father was a missionary in the Southwest--the
exact localities I need not give. At sixteen I married. My father died
within the year; my mother had died long before. My first child was a
son, born when I was seventeen; I called him Julian. Later there came to
me a daughter, my little Cecilia. When she was still a baby, and Julian
was seven, my husband, in a brawl at a town some miles from our house,
killed a man who was well known and liked in the neighborhood; they had
both fired, and the other man was the better shot, but upon this
occasion his ball happened to miss, and my husband's did not. I was
sitting at home, sewing; the baby was in the cradle at my feet, and
Julian was playing with his little top on the floor. My husband rode
rapidly into the yard on his fast black horse, Tom, sprang down, came
into the house, and went into the inner room. He soon came back and went
out. He called Julian. The child ran into the yard; then hurried back to
get the little overcoat I had made for him. 'Where are you going?' I
said. 'To ride with papa,' he answered, and, eager as he was to go, he
did not forget to come and kiss me good-by. Then he ran out, and I heard
them start; I heard Tom's hoofs on the hard road farther and farther
away; then all was still. But less than half an hour afterwards there
was noise enough; the garden was full of armed men. The whole
country-side were out after him. They hunted him for three days. But he
knew the woods and swamps better than they did, and they could not find
him. They knew that he would in time make for the river, and they kept a
watch along shore. He reached it on the fourth day, at a lonely point;
he turned Tom loose, took a skiff which he knew was there, and started
out with my little boy upon the swollen tide--for the river was high.
They were soon discovered by the watch on shore. Shots were fired at
them. But the skiff was out in the centre of the stream, which was very
wide just there, and the shots missed. They followed the skiff along
shore. They knew what he did not--that the river narrowed below the
bend, and that there were rapids there. He reached the bend, and saw
that he was lost; the current carried the boat down towards the narrows;
and they began to shoot again; one shot struck Julian. Then his father
took him in his arms and jumped overboard with him. That, they knew, was
death. They saw the dark bodies whirled round and round, and amused
themselves by shooting at them once or twice; they saw them sucked
under. Then, farther away, they saw them again swept along like logs,
inert, dead; on and on; two black dots; out of sight. Then they rode
back, that hunting party; and their wives came and told me, as
mercifully as they could, that my husband and my little boy were
drowned. I could not bury my dead; on the rapid current of the river
they were already miles away; in that country no one cared for the dead.
They cared but little for the living. I took my baby and went away; I
left that horrible land. I came eastward. I had no money, or very
little; my husband had taken what--what he needed for his flight, and
there was nothing left. I tried to teach little day schools for
children. I gave music lessons. I did my best. But I was not strong; my
little girl, too, was very delicate: there was something the matter with
her spine. When this life of ours--hers and mine--had lasted ten years
(for I am much older than you have supposed), I met Major Carroll. He
was so good as to love me; he was so good as to marry me; he took as his
own my poor little girl, and gave her all the comforts and luxuries she
needed--things I could not give. She died soon afterwards, in spite of
all. But in our new home she had had happy days, and when the end came
she did not suffer: she went back to God in sleep. On the 6th of last
July I was in the garden here, gathering some roses; it was below the
slope of the knoll, out of sight from the house. The gate opened, and a
young man came in. He came across to me. He introduced himself as a
stranger in Far Edgerley, who had admired our flowers. He spoke several
sentences while I stood looking at him. I was frightened; I knew not
why. At last, recovering myself, I turned to walk towards the house.
Then it was that he put his hand on my arm, and said: 'Don't you know
me, mother? I am Julian, the little boy you thought dead.' He was
thirty-one years old, and I had lost him before he was eight. What had
startled me was his likeness to his father. They had escaped, after all.
His father had feigned death; he had let himself be swept along, keeping
hold of the child, who was unconscious. It was a desperate expedient.
But he was desperate. He was an expert swimmer, and he succeeded, though
barely, with life just fluttering within them. They lay hid in a
canebrake for some days, and then, after much difficulty, they made
their way out of the country. They went to Mexico. Then they went to the
West India Islands. They lived in Martinique, and they took the name of
Dupont. My husband did not try to come back; a reward had been offered
for him before he fled; there was a price on his head. He knew that I
supposed him dead, and he was quite willing to be dead--to me. He was
tired of me. I was only a burden to him. I was always talking about
little things. My son thought that we were dead--his little sister and
I; his father had told him so. But after his father's death he found
among his papers some memoranda which made him think that perhaps we
were not, that perhaps he could even find us. He did not try
immediately; it was but a chance, and he was interested in other things.
But later he did try; that is, in his way; he was never sharp and
energetic--as you are. He found me; but his little sister had gone to
heaven. My son had had only the education of the islands, and he was,
besides, a musician. The temperament of musicians is peculiar. You will
allow me to say that I think you do not understand it. He wished to go
back to the islands; he had been in the United States for a year, and he
did not like the life or climate. I helped him as much as I could. It
was not much; but he started. Then he had that illness in New York, and
came back. It was most important that he should start again, and
soon--before the return of winter. I had nothing to give him, and so I
went to my daughter--I mean my step-daughter, Sara. She has, you know, a
small income of her own, left her by her uncle. You are asking yourself
why I did not go to the Major; why there should have been any secret
about it from the first. It was because I had not told him at the time
of our marriage, or at any time, that I had ever had a son. He thought
when he married me that Cecilia was my only child; he thought me
twenty-three, when I was in reality over thirty-five. It would have been
a great shock and pain to him to know that I had deceived him--a shock
which, in his state of health at that time, he could not have borne.
When Sara knew, she helped me; she helped me nobly. But the time for the
semi-annual payment of her income was not until the 12th of October, and
by the terms of her uncle's will she could not anticipate it; we were
therefore obliged to wait. Before the 12th of October my son was taken
ill, as I had feared. And the rest--you know. The time when I could tell
you this has now come. It has come because nothing can again disturb the
Major's peace. He is near us in touch, and close to our love, but
earth's sorrows and pains can trouble him no more. I can therefore tell
you, and I do it for two reasons. One is that it will explain to you the
course we took; it will explain to you what Sara said that afternoon,
for I think that it has grieved you--what Sara said. It was an expedient
that she thought of to divert your attention, to stop further action on
your part. We knew--from your having tried to see the Major, and see
him alone--that you had learned something; how much, we could not tell.
And when you came again the next day, and spoke as you did, first to me,
and then to her, and I was frightened and lost my courage, fearing lest
you should speak to others also; then Sara took the only expedient she
could think of to silence you, to stop you effectually, and thus secure
her father's peace. But it was only an expedient, Mr. Owen. It was never
true." She paused for the first time in the utterance of her brief
sentences, turned her head, and looked at him with her faded, tired

Owen's own eyes were wet. "Even before that," he said, "and I do not
deny how important it is to me--more important than anything else in the
world--even before that, Madam Carroll, I beg you to say that you
forgive me, that you forgive what I did and said. I did not know--how
could I?--and I was greatly troubled."

"I think I can say that I have forgiven you," answered Madam Carroll. "I
did not at first; I did not for a long time. It is all over now; and of
course you did not know. But you never understood my son--you could not;
and therefore--if you will be so good--I should prefer that you should
not speak to me of him again; it is much the easiest way for us both."
She turned her eyes back to the wall. "About Sara," she continued,
without pause, "it was a pity. It has been a long time for you to
wait--with that--that mistaken belief on your mind. But, while the Major
was still with us in his consciousness and his memory, I could not tell
to you, a stranger, what I was not able to tell him."

"You were afraid to trust me!" said Owen, a pained expression coming
into his face.

"Yes," answered Madam Carroll, simply.

"You did not know then that I felt as far as possible from being a
stranger? That I wished--that I have tried--"

"That is later; I was coming to that. Yes--since I have known that you
cared so much for her (though I knew it long ago!)--since you have
spoken, rather, I have felt that I wished to tell you, that I would
gladly tell you, as soon as I could. The time has come, and it came
earlier than I expected, though I knew it could not be long delayed. I
have taken the earliest hour."

"Then she--then Miss Carroll told you that I--that I had spoken?" said

"She told me because I asked her, pressed her. I knew that you had been
here--a week ago, wasn't it?--I had caught a glimpse of your face as you
left the house. And so I asked her. She is very reticent, very proud;
she would never have told me, in spite of my asking, if her wish to
show me that I had been mistaken in something I had said to her long
before had not been stronger even than her reserve."

"What was it that you were mistaken in?" said Owen, quickly.

"I was not mistaken. But she wished to prove to me that I was. I had
told her in October that she cared for you, and that she had made the
greatest sacrifice a woman could make in voluntarily lowering herself in
your eyes by allowing you to suppose--to suppose what you did."

"You were mistaken, after all, Madam Carroll," said Owen, sadly. "She
cares nothing for me."

"Men are dull," answered the mistress of the Farms, wearily. "They have
to have everything explained to them. Don't you see that it was
inevitable that she should refuse you? As things stood--as you let them
stand--she could not stoop to any other course. She knew that you
believed that she had cared for--for Louis Dupont" (Madam Carroll's face
had here a strange, set sternness, but her soft voice went on
unchanged), "and she knew your opinion of him. She knew, moreover, that
you believed it clandestine, that she had not dared to tell her father.
For you to come, then, at this late day, believing all this, and tell
her that you loved her--that seemed to her an insult. Your tone was, I
presume (if not your words), that you loved her in spite of all."

"Yes," Owen answered. "For that was my feeling. I did love her in spite
of all. I had fought against it. I had thought--I don't know what. But
it was over; whatever it had been it was ended forever, and my love had
conquered. I knew that very well!"

"And you told her so, I suppose--'I love you in spite of all'--when you
should have said 'I love you; and it never existed.'"

"But had she not told me with her own lips that it did exist, that she
was engaged to him?"

"You should not have believed her own lips; you should have risen above
that. You should have told her to her face that you did not believe, and
never would believe, anything that was, or even seemed to be, against
her. I see you know very little about women. You will have to learn. I
am taking all this pains for you because I want her to be happy. Her
nature is a very noble one, in spite of an overweight of pride. She
could not explain to you, even at that time, without betraying me, and
that she would never do. But I doubt whether she would have explained in
any case; it would have been doing too much for you."

"All she did was done for her father," said Owen; "and it was the same
with you, Madam Carroll. Seldom has man been so loved. My place with her
will be but a second one."

"That should content you."

"Ah, you do _not_ like me, though you try to help me," cried the young
man. "But give me time, Madam Carroll; give me time."

"To make me like you? Take as much as you please. But do not take it
with Sara."

"I shall take five minutes," Owen answered. Then he lifted her hand to
his lips. "Forgive me for thinking of my own happiness," he said, with
the gentlest respect.

"I like you to think of it; it gives me pleasure. And now I must come to
my second reason for telling you. You remember I said that there were
two. This is something which even Sara does not know--I would not give
her any of that burden; she could not help me, and she had enough to
bear. She could not help me; but now you can. It is something I want you
to do for me. It could not be done before, it could not be done until
the Major became as he is at present. No one now living knows; still, as
you are to be one of us, I should like to have you do it for me."

And then she told him.


On Easter Sunday morning Far Edgerley people woke to find their village
robed in blossoms; in one night the fruit trees had burst into bloom, so
that all the knolls and Edgerley Street itself stood in bridal array,
and walking to church was like taking part in a beautiful procession.

Nearly a month had passed since the Major's attack; but all his old
friends in the congregation of St. John's missed him more than ever on
this Easter morning. Sara and Scar were in the Carroll pew at the head
of the aisle; but it looked very empty, nevertheless. During this month
there had not been much change in the Major, save that for two weeks
after the doctor's decision he had not been so well; restlessness had
troubled him. But for the preceding few days he had been much better,
and every one was cheered by this; every one was interested in hearing
that he had talked quite at length with his wife on simple local
subjects, that he enjoyed little things, and thought about them. He
lived entirely in the present, the present of the passing moment;
everything in the past he had forgotten, and he speedily forgot the
moment itself as soon as it was gone. What his wife said to him he
understood, and he always knew when she was near, though his blind eyes
could not see her; he felt for a fold of her dress or the ruffle of her
sleeve, and held it; the sense of touch had taken the place of the
vanished sight. He listened for Scar's voice too, and seemed to like to
have him in the room, to hold the child's hand in his. In the same way
he always smiled and was pleased when Sara spoke to him.

When the morning service was over, every one waited to ask how the Major
was on this lovely Easter Sunday. Lately they had come to like his
daughter far better than they had liked her at first; they said she
talked more, that she was not so cold. Certainly there was nothing cold
in her face, but a beautiful sweetness, as she rose from her knees and,
taking Scar's hand, turned to go down the aisle. She answered their
questions on the steps and in the church-yard. For on Easter morning Far
Edgerley people always brought many flowers to church; then, after
service, they took them out and laid them upon all the graves, so that,
as Scar once said, "they could have their Easter Sunday too." Every
mound had its blossoms to-day, and there were many upon the grave of
the young stranger, Louis Dupont; this was because there was no one,
they said, to remember him. So they all remembered him.

A little before sunset Frederick Owen, having officiated at the Easter
service of the Sunday-school and at one of his mission stations, was on
his way to Carroll Farms. As he came up Carroll Lane and crossed the
little bridge over the brook, he saw that there was more bloom here than
anywhere else in all the blooming town. For the whole orchard was out
behind the house, and all the flowering almonds in front of it; the old
stone walls rose close pressed in blossoms. Sara opened the door before
he had time to knock. "I was watching for you," she said. "Judith Inches
and Caleb have gone up the mountain to see their mother, as they always
do on Easter afternoon, and they have taken Scar."

Owen paused in the hall to greet her; he was very proud of this proud,
reserved girl whose love he had won.

"Do not wait, Frederick. Mamma has such a pleadingly sorrowful look
to-day that I want to have it over."

"Only a moment," said Owen. He was standing with his arm round her,
holding her close. "Do you remember that afternoon when I spoke to you
of your mother, of the sisterly kindness she had shown to that poor
woman who had lost her crippled boy? And do you remember that you said
that no one save those who were in the house with her all the time could
comprehend the one hundredth part of her tenderness, her constant
thought for others? Your answer put me in a glow of pleasure, I did not
then comprehend why. I asked myself as I walked home if I cared so much
to hear Madam Carroll praised. I know now what I cared for--it was
because _you_ had said it. For I had been afraid, unconsciously to
myself, perhaps, that you did not fully appreciate her, appreciate her
as she seemed to me."

"And I had not until then. I shall always reproach myself--"

"You need not; you have made up for it a hundredfold," answered Owen.
Then, coming back to himself, with love's unfailing egotism--"I wonder
if you realize all the suffering I went through?" he continued. "You
made me wait in my pain so long, so long!"

"We suffer more than you do, always," answered, after a moment, the
woman he held in his arms. And then into her beautiful eyes, raised to
meet his, there came such a world of feeling, some of it beyond his ken,
that touched, stirred, feeling himself unworthy, yet exultant in his
happiness, the man who loved her rested his lips on hers without
attempting further reply.

A moment later he went up the stairs, and Sara turned the key of the
front door. The Major, his wife and daughter, and the clergyman were now
alone in the flower-encircled house. All its windows were open, and the
flowers fairly seemed to be coming in, so near were they to the
casements; outside the Major's windows two great apple-trees, a mass of
bloom, stretched out their long, flowering arms until they touched the

The sun, now low down, was sinking towards Lonely mountain; he sent
horizontal rays full into the mass of apple-blossoms, but could not
penetrate them save as a faintly pink radiance, which fell upon the
figure of Madam Carroll as she stood beside the bed. She wore one of her
white dresses, but her face looked worn and old as the radiance brought
out all its lines, and showed the many silver threads in her faded hair.
The Major was sitting up in bed; he had on a new dressing-gown, and was
propped with cushions.

"Has the clergyman come?" he said. He spoke indistinctly, but his wife
could always understand him.

"Yes, he is here, Scarborough," she answered, bending over him.

"He is welcome. Let him be seated," said the Major, in his old
ceremonial manner. Then he felt for his wife's arm, and pulled her
sleeve. "Am I dressed?" he asked, anxiously. "Did you see to it? Is my
hair smooth?" He supposed himself to be speaking in a whisper.

"Yes, Major, you have on your new dressing-gown, and it is of a
beautiful color, and your hair is quite smooth."

"I don't feel sure about the hair," said the Major, still, as he
supposed, confidentially. "I don't remember that I brushed it."

Madam Carroll took a brush from the table and gently smoothed the thin
white locks.

"That is better," he murmured. "And my clean white silk handkerchief?"

"It is by your side, close to your hand."

He thought for a moment. "I ought to have a flower for my button-hole,
oughtn't I?" he added, looking about the room with his darkened eyes as
if to find one.

Sara went to the window and broke off a spray of apple-blossoms from the
tree outside. His wife gave it to him, and he tried to put it into the
button-hole of his dressing-gown; she did it for him, and then he was
content. "I am ready now," he said, folding his hands.

Frederick Owen came forward; he wore his white robes of office. "Dearly
beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God to join
together this man and this woman in holy matrimony," he read, standing
close to the Major, so that he could hear.

The Major listened with serenity; and of his own accord, when the time
came, he answered, "I will."

When the longer answer was reached, Owen repeated it first, then Madam
Carroll repeated it to the Major, as he could hear her voice more
easily. "I, Scarborough, take thee, Marion, to my wedded wife, to have
and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for
poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us
do part, according to God's holy ordinance; and thereto I plight thee my
troth," said the Major, in his indistinct tones, following her word by
word, and holding the hand she had placed in his.

Then the wife drew off her own wedding-ring, and guided his feeble
fingers to put it back in its place again. "With this ring I thee wed,"
said the Major, repeating after her in a voice that was growing tired.

"Let us pray," said Owen. They knelt, and the Major bowed his head, and
put his hand over his eyes. "Our Father, who art in heaven," prayed
Owen, "hallowed be thy name."

As he came to the benediction, the sun's last rays, sent from the golden
line of Lonely Mountain, shot triumphantly under the apple-blossoms and
entered the room; they shone on Madam Carroll's kneeling figure, and
lighted up the old Major's silver hair--"that in the world to come, ye
may have life everlasting. Amen."

There was a silence. Then the Major took down his hand and tried to look
from one to the other as they stood round his bed. His wife kissed him.
And then Sara, her eyes full of tears, came and kissed him also.

"Where is the clergyman?" said the Major to his wife, again supposing
himself to be speaking apart. "I ought to shake hands with him, you

Owen came forward, and the Major bowed and put out his hand. Then he
seemed to be forgetting all that had occurred. "I am very tired,
Marion," he said, not complainingly, but as if surprised. "I don't know
what is the reason, but I am very tired." They took out the cushions,
and he put his head down upon the pillow. In a few minutes he was

At late twilight Scar came back in the wagon with Judith Inches and
Caleb. His mother was waiting for him on the piazza; she took him in her
arms and kissed him several times. "Why, mamma, you are crying!" said
the boy, surprised. "Are you sorry about anything, mamma?"

"Yes, Scar. But it is over now. Come up-stairs."

The Major was awake; he looked very tranquil. Sara was sitting beside
him. Scar went up to the bedside. "It is Scar," said Madam Carroll.
"Don't you remember him, Major? Little Scar?"

"Certainly," said the Major. "Of course I remember him; a little child."

She took his hand and put it on the boy's head. The Major stroked the
fair hair gently. "Little Scar," he murmured softly to himself. "Yes,
certainly I remember; little Scar."


       *       *       *       *       *

       *       *       *       *       *


A Novel.



16mo, Cloth, $1.25.


It proves the author's right to stand without question at the head of
American women novelists.--_N.Y. Tribune._

The appearance of "Anne" may be regarded as a fact worth special notice,
for Miss Woolson adds to her observation of scenes and localities an
unusual insight into the human heart. Sometimes one is ready to say that
a fragment, and not an inferior fragment, of the mantle of George Eliot
is resting on her capable shoulders.--_Century, N.Y._

The scenery is fine, the characterization excellent, and the purpose
true. * * * It has fine touches. * * * It has admirable sketches from
nature. * * * The book has humor, also, and plenty of it.* * * Anne is
full of power, and will not soon be forgotten.--_Literary World_,

A very vigorous story. * * * Anne is very well drawn, and is an
attractive study.--_Zion's Herald_, Boston.

A rich contribution to American fiction.--_Christian Intelligencer_,

It is one of the most remarkable combinations of feminine delicacy and
acuteness with masculine strength and breadth furnished by a lady
novelist since "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was given to the public. * * * Of the
heroine we can only say she is wholly admirable--a perfect woman. The
plot is unique, of increasing interest, presenting many varied and novel
scenes, and alternating artistically between the lighter and deeper
emotions. The author exerts her dramatic powers to the utmost toward the
close, and the result is something rarely paralleled in modern
fiction.--_Pittsburgh Christian Advocate._

Its wealth of plot, its rare bits of humor, its well-marked
characterization, and its many fine pieces of description of natural
scenery.--_San Francisco Chronicle._

Its characters are marvels. They are not portraits nor statues, but
living persons among and of us. Anne is a type, first of girlhood, then
womanhood, of wondrous beauty--an imperishable flower of that wild,
almost uncivilized, rugged region whence alone she could have
sprung.--_Cleveland Leader._

A strong, fresh, vigorous story, American in scene, people, and tone. *
* * Few novels contain more striking incidents.--_Louisville

One of the cleverest of recent American novels.--_N. Y. World._

The publication of a book like Miss Woolson's "Anne" is really a
literary event. * * * The plot is carefully studied, and is worked out
with an honest patience and a conscientious faithfulness in details
which merit the name of genius.--_Dial_, Chicago.

Clearly a work of genius.--_Boston Traveller._

A book which has excited more interest and expectation during its
appearance in serial form than any American novel published for years. *
* * "Anne" is a work of real power; its characters are painted with a
master hand; its literary style calls for the warmest praise; and the
story has pre-eminently that sympathetic quality which is the chief
charm of what may be called the novel of domestic life.--_Saturday
Evening Gazette_, Boston.

"Anne" has produced a very marked impression--more so, indeed, than any
other recent work of fiction. * * * It certainly is a delightful and
refreshing novel.--_Albany Evening Journal._

A delightful novel of American life.--_Portland Transcript._

A charming domestic story, interesting in plot and incident, and fresh
in the telling.--_St. Louis Republican._

It is one of the strongest and most perfectly finished American novels
ever written.--_New England Farmer_, Boston.

To take up this volume is to hold it until every page has been read. The
interest is kept up without intermission from beginning to end, for new
complications and developments arise so constantly that the reader is
kept on the _qui vive_.--_Pittsburgh Telegraph._


=>_Sent by mail, postage prepaid, to any part of the United States, on
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Waverley; Guy Mannering; The Antiquary; Rob Roy; Old Mortality; The
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