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Title: I've Been Thinking; - or, the Secret of Success
Author: Roe, Azel Stevens, 1798-1886
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 "I've Been Thinking; - or, the Secret of Success" ***

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                             I'VE BEEN THINKING;


                           _THE SECRET OF SUCCESS_.

                                 BY A. S. ROE,

                          AUTHOR OF "LOOKING ROUND."

    WARD, LOCK AND CO.
    LONDON, NEW YORK, AND MELBOURNE



I'VE BEEN THINKING.



CHAPTER I.


'Where is the use, Jim, of our working and working to raise so many
vegetables? we never can use them all. Mother said last year there was
no necessity for raising more than we could eat, and now this potato
patch is larger than ever.' And as he said this, the little speaker
threw himself upon the soft ground, struck his hoe into the soil, and
looked up at his brother to see how he would take it.

Jim, as he was called, rested a moment on his hoe, eyed his brother
closely, and then, with something of a smile, replied:

'Come, Ned, don't give up to lazy feelings; the things will do somebody
good; and you know my father always told us, that it was better to be at
work, even if we got no pay for it: and besides, I have been thinking of
a plan by which we may do something with what we raise, if we have more
than we can use.'

'What plan, Jim?' and Ned raised himself from his prostrate position,
and sitting with both hands resting on the ground, looked very
inquiringly at his brother.

'Why, suppose we should try to sell some of the things we raise?'

'Try to _sell_, Jim? ha, ha, ha!' and the little fellow threw himself
upon the ground, and indulged in a hearty fit of laughter. Jim laughed a
little himself, resuming his work, and hauling the dirt up faster around
the potatoes he was hilling.

'Come, Ned, you had better go to work; the sun will soon be down, and we
shall not get our task done.'

'Well, tell me then _where_ you are going to sell the things; that's
all.'

'I shall say no more about it now, at any rate; you will only laugh at
it. So come, take up your row.'

Ned, perceiving that Jim was working upon both rows, was ashamed to
waste any more time, and inspirited by his brother's kindness, sprang to
his feet, and the two boys worked away with alacrity.

The sun had gone down, the cow had been milked and the pigs fed, the
hens had all gone to roost, and the two brothers had sauntered towards
the river which ran before their dwelling, and taken a seat together on
a rock under the branches of a huge oak, of which there were several
around the premises. Before them lay, _first_; a gentle slope of short
greensward, part of what was known as the town commons, where every
body's cow, or pig, or goose, could roam unmolested; beyond _this_ lay a
smooth sandy shore, washed by a river, whose waters had not far to go
before they mingled with the ocean, or with a large arm of the ocean;
along the shore, as far as the eye could reach, was the same, or nearly
the same, strip of green commons, dotted here and there with small rude
dwellings, the abodes of a few fishermen, who existed on the products of
the river that rolled before them; a few small boats lay drawn up on the
shore, and occasionally a row of stakes running out into the water, told
where the fishermen had planted their nets. The only house in sight that
had any appearance of comfort was the one these brothers called their
home--a plain one-story building, with a little wing to it; a paling ran
in front and around three sides, enclosing the patch of ground used as
their garden; a few fine old trees threw their shadows over and around
the premises, adding much to the domestic aspect of the place; a
pleasant country spread back from the river, and in the distance could
be seen here and there the chimney top, or the peaked roof of some
obscure dwelling, making no greater pretensions than those described.

'I wonder what Sam Oakum is doing along shore there?'

'Where, Jim?'

'Down by that clump of rocks. Don't you see him?'

'Oh, he is picking up horse-shoes; he has not fed his pigs yet; I
suppose his father is drunk to-day, and the pigs are squealing, and Sam
has gone to look for something for them to eat; poor fellow!'

'Sam is a clever fellow; I do wish his father would act differently. I
cannot see what is to become of him. They who have no father are bad
enough off, but I think poor Sam is worse off still.'

'Do you think, Jim, if father had lived, that we should have stayed
here?'

'I cannot say--I suppose we should. Why do you ask that question, Ned?'

'Because I think it is a poor place to get a living in; nor do I see how
we are going to get along here; it is hard hoeing for it any how.'

'_Hard hoeing?_ I don't think so, Ned; it is a great deal harder doing
nothing.'

'Perhaps it is; I should like to try it once, and see.'

'I believe it to be true what father often said, that "hard work made
short nights and sweet food," and if we should give up work, what would
become of mother and Ellen?'

'I will work for them, Jim, as long as I have got any fingers to work
with; but we may hoe and hoe here all our lives, and what will it amount
to?'

'I have been thinking a great deal about that, Ned, and therefore I
spoke to you as I did to-day when you laughed so at me.'

'Well, tell me _now_, Jim; I promise you I will not laugh any more.'

'I have been thinking for some time, just as you say, Ned, "that we must
hoe and hoe all our lives," and without much hope of making our
condition any better.'

'Why you see, Jim, if there was any one here to buy what we raised, more
than we wanted to eat, there would be some use in raising all we could.'

'I know it, Ned; and the great trouble is, that the folks all round here
are as poor as we are, and the most of them not so well off; they live
from hand to mouth, and would never want any thing we could raise.'

'Why, I suppose they would like our strawberries and peaches well
enough, if we would give them away; but they will never take the trouble
to raise any for themselves, and I am very sure they will never have any
money to buy them with.'

'That is it, Ned; you are right now. Father has taught us to raise such
things, you know, and if we had any way to dispose of them, we could
raise many more than we do.'

'Then you would see how I could work, Jim, and we would stuff the old
garden full of every thing.'

'I have been thinking--now, you won't laugh again?'

'No, I won't, I promise you.'

'Well, I have been thinking--you know, just over the other side of the
island is that large fort; sometimes there is quite a company of
soldiers, and always some officers and their families there; the grounds
about there are so rocky and sandy, that they cannot raise any thing if
they would; they no doubt get their provisions in large quantities from
a distance, but the officers and their families might like some of our
fruits and vegetables, as we could supply them fresh; the only thing is,
how to get there?'

'Yes, Jim, that would be the trouble; we have no boat, and we should not
know how to manage one if we had it, and mother would be so afraid to
let us go such a distance on the water.'

'I have thought of these difficulties, Ned, but I believe we can get
along with them. I know it will be difficult getting to the fort
sometimes, in rough weather; and then, as you say, we have no boat, and
we should not be able to manage one if we had it; but how would it do to
ask Sam Oakum to join us?'

'Sam Oakum is the very fellow, just the very fellow; but stop, Jim, Sam
has not got a boat.'

'I know that; but no doubt he can borrow one for the first trip, and
then, if our plan should succeed, perhaps we could hire it until we were
able to buy one for ourselves.'

Ned could stand it no longer; he jumped from the rock, clapped his
hands, huzzaed, caught hold of Jowler, who had sprung up, and was
barking away in answer to Ned's huzza, and down they went on the green
sward together.

'Don't go crazy, Ned, we may be disappointed after all; mother may not
give her consent, Sam may be unwilling to go, or not able to get a
boat.'

'Do stop, Jim, bringing up difficulties; I don't want to hear them now.
I know mother will let us go, and I know Sam will like dearly to join
us; he can get a boat, I am sure he can.'

'Well, Ned, the first thing we must do is, to get mother's consent.'

'Yes, and you will speak to her this very night, won't you, Jim? I will
put in a word once in a while, just to help along.'

Twilight was past; the stars were shining through a clear bright sky,
when these two brothers retraced their steps towards home. It is
pleasant to see them so cheerfully complying with that command, 'Honor
thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be long in the land which
the Lord thy God giveth thee.'

And now I suppose my readers may be anxious to know some particulars
about our boys, and the place where they lived.

Their father, Mr. James Montjoy, who had died a few months before the
period at which our story commences, was rather a plain man in his
appearance and manners, and lived on a small pension just enough to
sustain his family, so that he left nothing for their support but the
house and garden. I think he must have been a good man, for his boys
revered his name, and often repeated his sayings to each other; and on
no account would they deviate from what they believed would have been
his will.

As to the place where they lived, I have already partly described it; it
was a very retired spot, a few farm-houses were scattered about at
irregular intervals, but all wearing the same general aspect. A want of
enterprise was manifest on every side; poor roads, poor fences, broken
barns, patched windows in almost every house, miserable-looking waggons
and horses, and people in appearance as uncouth and woe-begone as their
teams.

There was but one store in the place, and how that was supplied was
somewhat mysterious; for no boats sailed from or to this lone spot. I
have heard, that once in a year a large lumber waggon, that came from a
distance, brought a load of casks and boxes, which contained all the
goods necessary to supply the few wants of its customers, a little tea,
and sugar, and molasses, and a few coarse dry goods, with an undue
proportion of whiskey. The storekeeper looked no better than his
customers; he was a dried-up, wrinkled little man, with a very red nose;
always clad in a suit of grey clothes, with a broad-brimmed greasy hat,
turned up in front, and a pair of iron spectacles, through which stared
two very large eyes, somewhat the worse for the use of cider and
whiskey.

The store itself was a long, low, tumble-down-looking place, with a shed
running along its front, under which might almost always be seen a
certain number of miserably dressed persons, the customers of the
store.

It will be of no use to any of my readers to be told the real name of
this place, nor its exact locality. I have mentioned that it was on a
river, and not far from where that river emptied itself into a sound, or
arm of the sea; but as there are a great many rivers and sounds in our
beautiful country, I must leave you all to guess the right one. And
perhaps many of you will pass this place, or have already passed it many
times, and when you have seen, or shall see, the beautiful church spire
that now rises from the midst of the trees which embower it, and the
neat white houses along the shore, and the trim vessels that line the
wharves, and hear the lively--'Yo, heave yo!' of the sailors, as they
hoist the white sail to the breeze, you will little dream that it was
once as I have described it.

And now we must see how Jim gets along in gaining the consent of his
mother.

Mrs. Montjoy was a good mother, and loved her three children most
tenderly; but as all mothers who truly love their children must
sometimes deny their wishes, Jim and Ned had learned some lessons, which
made them feel less and less confident the more they thought of the
matter. At length the former, taking up the candle, whispered to his
brother.--

'Perhaps, Ned, we had better not say anything about it until to-morrow.'

'I think so too, Jim.'

So, kissing their mother and little Ellen, up they went to their garret
room, talking and laughing in great spirits.

'The poor dear children,' thought Mrs. Montjoy, 'it makes my heart ache
to hear them; they think not of the future. May God, in his mercy, open
some way, for I see but a poor prospect before them. And it may be that
prayer was heard, and the God of the widow and the fatherless was
preparing the means by which these unprotected children would prove the
light of their native place, and her stay and comfort. Had she seen them
as they knelt down by the bedside together, she would have felt that her
children were not fatherless.

The next morning the boys had a long conference with their mother; and
after she had listened to their plans, and stated to them, more
particularly than she had ever before done, the straitened circumstances
to which they were reduced, and expressed many fears on account of their
exposure on the water, she finally agreed that they might try what they
could do.

No sooner had they reached the door, after thus accomplishing their
wishes, than Ned started on the full run, jumped over the first thing
that stood in his way--which happened to be old Jowler--caught up his
hoe from under the shed, and entering the garden by a cross cut, began
tearing the dirt around the potato hills with all his might.

Jim walked very leisurely to his work, and for some time permitted his
brother to go on, thinking that he would soon become tired, and relax
his efforts; but seeing that Ned was coming back on _his_ row,--

'You had better keep your own row, Ned; I shall get along soon enough
with mine, and you will only tire yourself by working so fast.'

'Well, I am in such a hurry, Jim; I want to get these potato hills
finished, so that we can go and talk with Sam Oakum about the boat.'

'I am as much in a hurry as you are, Ned; but we have quite a patch to
hill yet, and we shall get through sooner, by working steadily, besides
doing our work better; we can get along with them by the middle of the
afternoon, and that will give us time enough to see Sam.'

And as Jim had said, by the middle of the afternoon the last hill of
potatoes was finished; and, having made all their arrangements, and
agreed upon all they would say to Sam, they had nothing to do but go to
the tree where they placed their tools, and hang up their hoes for that
day.

As Sam Oakum will be a prominent character in our story, I must
introduce him more particularly to my reader. His father lived in one of
the huts which I have said were scattered along the shore of the river
for some distance, and followed the occupation which _his_ father had
followed before him, that of a fisherman; or, in other words, that of
catching a few fish or clams, sufficient to satisfy the cravings of
hunger for the day, and spending the rest of it in idleness and
drinking, without enterprise or ambition. As their fathers had done for
generations back, so did they; they seemed to feel that it was their
luck to be poor, and, to all appearance, felt willing that their
children should follow in their steps.

Sam Oakum's father was rather a superior man to his neighbors; he had
some knowledge, too, of boat-building; he had never learned the trade,
but, being ingenious, could put together a small craft quite decently,
and the few poor boats which the fisherman owned were the work of his
hands; but he also exceeded many of his neighbors in the use of strong
drink, and too frequently it was feared that his wife and children
suffered for the necessaries of life, because the father was away, and
in no condition to get home. For a few years past, however, since Sam
had become able to manage a boat, he would see that there was food for
his mother and sisters, although there had been as yet no opening for
him by which he could do any more than this. There was no ground
attached to their poor house for him to cultivate; there was no work in
the vicinity that he could get; and the boat, by means of which he could
procure their supply from the water, he was obliged to borrow.

Sam was now about sixteen years of age; a good-looking fellow he was
too, although his clothes were old and patched; his hair was black as a
coal, and very much disposed to curl; he had a good open countenance,
very bright black eyes, and a fine nut-brown complexion. As we shall
learn his character in the progress of our story, it will not be
necessary to describe him any closer at present.

On the day that Jim and Ned had been so successful in obtaining the
consent of their mother to put their plan into execution, Sam had
experienced a severe trial: his father had indulged more freely his
dreadful appetite, and although in general kind to his family, had begun
to manifest a morose and sullen temper.

Sam's mother was a good-natured, inoffensive woman, always endeavouring
to make the best of things; managing as well as she could with what was
in the house, and although sorely pinched sometimes, never finding fault
with her husband.

'It would do no good,' she said, 'to be dinging at Oakum; it would only
make him worse.'

So the poor soul went on from day to day, doing her best, and always
hoping, woman like, that he would be different one of these days; but on
this eventful morning her accumulated grievances could no longer be
repressed, and as her husband was about to leave the house, only to
return at evening in a wretched condition, she ventured to say to him--

'Oakum, don't you think you'd better not go up to the store to-day?'

'Don't I _think_ I'd better _not_? _No_, I don't--what makes you ask
me?'

'Oh well, I didn't mean no harm; only you have been away so much
lately.'

'Well, supposing I have, whose business is _that_, I want to know?'

'Why nobody's, I suppose; only you know, Oakum, we ain't got nothing in
the house but them two fish you brought in this morning; there ain't no
meal nor nothing.'

'No meal nor nothing; yes, there is meal: didn't I bring home some
yesterday?'

'Well, you know how that was, the pigs got at it.'

'The pigs got at it--then why didn't you take care of it, and not let
the pigs get the children's bread?'

'It wasn't mother's fault,' said Sam, who was by at the time, and knew
all the circumstances.

'Whose fault was it then, you little vagabond?'

'I ain't a vagabond yet; but we shall all be soon, if you keep going to
Grizzle's every day.'

Sam's father was utterly confounded; he took off his hat and sat down.

'What, are my children going to rise up against me? Go out of the house,
sir.'

Poor Mrs. Oakum was in great trouble. Sam had said what was true; his
father had, in a state of unconsciousness, left the flour at the mercy
of the pigs; but she felt sorry that he had spoken, and Sam soon felt
very sorry for it too; his conscience upbraided him; he went out of the
house and kept as busy as he could, but he could not feel happy.

By little and little Oakum found out from his wife all about the meal;
he was thoroughly ashamed, asked for another bag, and immediately took
his hat and departed.

About the middle of the afternoon Sam sauntered along the shore to a
large flat rock that stood just at the water's edge. He took a seat upon
it, and with his eye stretched far over the beautiful bay, mused on his
sad condition and hopeless prospects. Was life to be as it had ever
been--a scene of idleness and want, a waste, with nothing to cheer or
stimulate his youthful mind? without education (not being able even to
read), without a trade, or the prospect of one, or any employment that
offered the least inducement to exertion? His conscience sorely troubled
him also on account of the disrespect he had shown to his father that
morning; and as he mused, his excited feelings started the tears down
his sunburnt face, and in the agony of the moment he exclaimed,

'I wish I was--'

'What do you wish?' said Ned Montjoy, as he stole up behind, and put his
hands over Sam's eyes.

'But what is it, Sam?' you are in trouble; tell us right away. 'Can Jim
and I help you?'

Sam wiped away his tears as he best could, but was unable at once to
make any reply.

'Come, Sam, tell us, has anything happened to day?'

'Oh, nothing particular, Ned; only sometimes I get tired of living as I
do.'

'Oh well, Sam, if that is all, come cheer up; for Ned and I have a plan
in view, and if you will join us, perhaps things will be better for us
all.'

'I'll join you and Ned in any thing, but I don't see what use I can be
to you.'

'So much use, that we can do nothing without you _do_ join us Sam. Can
we, Jim?'

'No, I fear we cannot.'

'Well, what is it, boys? Come, I'm ready for any thing.'

'You tell him, Jim, all about it. I say, Sam, it's the best thing you
ever heard of. I tell you _what_, won't it be nice though?'

And Ned kicked up his heels, ran a few steps, caught up a smooth flat
stone, and away it went skimming the surface of the water, and in
plunged Jowler, as he had often done before, on a fruitless search after
it. Jim took a seat alongside of Sam, and soon unfolded his scheme for
adventure. Sam's countenance brightened as Jim went on, and he was too
impatient to wait until the whole was regularly told.

'And you want me to manage the boat, and you will sell the things?'

'That is it, Sam.'

'I tell you what, Jim, who put all this in your head? I wonder why I
never thought about taking clams and oysters there! I am sure they will
buy them: I might try some, couldn't I?'

'Certainly--but how are we to get a boat? your father has none, has he?'

'No, not now, but I know where I can borrow one; it has a sail to
it--it is old and leaky though, but a little calking will make all
tight.'

No sooner had Sam said this, than Ned started off again on another
gallop; he took quite a circuit this time, and coming back caught Sam by
the back of his collar, and pulled him over flat upon the rock.

'Didn't I tell you, Jim, that Sam Oakum was the fellow for us?'

'Don't, Ned, act so crazy; let Sam go.'

'Oh let him alone, Jim; he is so full, he must let out a little.'

Sam rolled himself off from the rock, and picked up his little tarred
hat, which had fallen upon the sand.

'Well, boys, when shall we go,--to-morrow?'

'Why, can you get the boat ready by that time, Sam?'

'Yes, that is, if old Andrews will let me have it; I guess there will be
no fear of that.'

'Well, how shall we know? for if we go to-morrow, we must be up early
and pick our strawberries. Shall we come down here to-night, Sam?'

'No; I tell you what we'll do--if I can get the boat, and father will
let me go, I won't come up; so, if you don't see me, you may conclude we
shall go.'

'Agreed, Sam.'

Sam was on good terms with the old man from whom he expected to get the
boat, and found no difficulty on that score; it occupied him, however,
the remainder of the afternoon in putting her in a condition suitable
for their voyage, and even then it was but a frail concern to venture
in, where at times the winds were strong and the waters rough. But Sam
knew no fear; so taking the oars and thanking his old friend very
heartily for his kindness, 'lay to,' and the little skiff flew through
the smooth water like a bird.

He had accomplished, however, but one part of his work; he had yet to
meet his father and obtain his consent, and his heart sunk within him
when he thought of home, and the probable condition of things there. He
had resolved what course to pursue--he had done wrong, he had spoken
improperly to his parent, he must ask his forgiveness before he could be
happy. But he knew not in what condition he might find that parent. He
rowed his boat up to the rock where he had held the conversation with
Jim and Ned--hauled her up on the shore as far as he was able, carried
the stone anchor on land, and walked directly towards home, strong in
good resolutions, and with some faint hope that things might be better
than he feared. He gathered up the horse-shoes as he went along which he
had collected on the beach in the afternoon, enough to make a good
supper for his pigs; and throwing them over into their pen as he passed,
was just entering the door of his dwelling when he met his father, who
had his hat on and was going out. Sam saw at a glance that all was
right--he cast his eyes down:

'Father, I'm sorry I spoke so this morning.'

'Oh, never mind now, Sam.' And as he saw Sam wiping his eyes, for the
tears came fast, 'Never mind now, my boy; it has gone by, and a good
many other things I hope too--go in and get your supper.'

Sam entered the room, happier than he had been for many a day; his
mother's countenance was lighted up with a smile, and his little sister
came up and whispered,

'Father ain't been to Grizzle's to day.' Sam looked at his mother and
she at him--tears were glistening in both their eyes, but they told only
of joy and hope.

He soon communicated to his mother his plan for the next day; she made
no objections, only she hoped he would take care of himself.

'And may be you'd better speak to your father, Sam.'

Just then Mr. Oakum came in, and Sam proceeded at once to tell him what
had been proposed, and what he had done about it.

'I thought I saw a boat laying up by the rock there, and I couldn't
think where it came from--is that Andrew's skiff? don't it leak badly?'

'Oh, I've calked her, Father, she is tight as a whistle now.'

'Well, Sam, you must take care of yourself, you know it's rough
sometimes round the point; you most keep close to shore, that skiff
won't stand much. I don't think it will be of much use for you to go
there, but you may try.'

Early the next morning--so early that a faint streak of light was barely
visible in the east--Sam was off with his skiff, raking for clams and
oysters as his share of the freight; and by the time Jim and Ned were at
the shore with their baskets, he was ready to receive them.



CHAPTER II.


It was a bright and beautiful morning, the water as calm and peaceful as
it was possible for water to be so near the restless ocean. Ned stood on
the shore, delighted to see the little skiff cut her way through its
glassy surface, and to hear the sound of Sam's oars reverberating for a
great distance along the opposite shore.

He watched as it receded, until thinking it was about as far as he could
make them hear, hallooed with his loudest call, 'Good bye, boys!' He saw
them both look towards the shore, and heard in return, 'Good bye, Ned!'
coming as from a great distance. He took off his hat and waved it, then
went on his way to his daily task.

Sam, although not experienced in long excursions, knew enough of the
labor of rowing, not to expend his strength at starting. They had ten
miles to pass over before they could reach their place of destination,
and the latter part would require much more exertion than the
commencement of their voyage; so, like an experienced mariner, he made
but little effort at first, and suffered his boat to flow along with the
tide. Jim was quite a novice in such matters but Sam had placed him at
the helm, and given him sundry directions how to steer.

'The tide is just beginning to fall, and I guess it will bring me up
with the point without much rowing, if you will just keep her head right
there?'

'I'll try, Sam; but don't you think I had better help you to row?'

'Oh, no; it's easy work now. She goes a pretty good jog; and I only just
dip my oars and take them out again. I guess, though, there will be some
pulling when we get round the point; but perhaps we shall have a little
breeze, and then we can put up our sail.'

Sam's guessing turned out to be very correct; it required but little
effort to make the point; and as they turned their course in the
opposite direction to that in which they had been steering, and were no
longer sheltered by the island which formed their beautiful harbor, but
were fairly in the outer bay, across whose waters they could see the
haze of the ocean and the white beacon that lighted its weary voyagers
to their desired haven, the wind blew gently, and Sam lost no time in
taking advantage of it; there was just enough to carry them along
against the tide, which was no longer in their favor.

The fort to which our little voyagers were steering had been erected
about ten years. It was intended to command the channel through which
vessels of ordinary size must pass, in their way from the ocean to one
of our most valuable cities. It was built with two tiers of ports, and
of sufficient strength for heavy guns; and as our foreign relations were
in an unsettled state, it had, at the period under consideration, its
full complement of men. It was erected at some distance from the shore
on a ledge of rocks which, at low water, formed a passage to the main
land; but when the tide was in, a few only of the highest rocks could be
seen.

The nearer they approached the place of their destination, the more
serious did the matter appear to them.

'Do you think, Sam, there is danger they won't let us in?'

'I don't know; I hope not, Jim. It would be too bad, after all our
trouble, not to get even a chance to sell any thing.'

'Well, Sam, we can but try, you know. We have only to tell them what
we've come for;--but I _say_, Sam, it makes my heart beat to look at it:
what high walls it has; and see, there are the sentinels walking up and
down--how their guns glitter in the sunshine!'

'Halloo! halloo! where are you bound, my hearties?'

The boys were startled by the gruff tones in which they had been
accosted; and, turning their eyes toward the shore from whence the
sounds seemed to come, saw an elderly man dressed in a sailor's habit,
seated on a rock, and beckoning to them, or rather, by a motion,
endeavouring to stop their progress.

'Halloo! my boys; don't go ahead there, or you'll be foul of the rocks.'

Sam immediately turned the skiff toward the shore, and they were soon in
close contact with the stranger. He was sitting on the rock, with one
leg swinging backwards and forwards, and the stump of the other sticking
straight out. His dress was a true sailor's rig, of blue originally, but
now much soiled, and of many colors. Spots of tar were pretty well
sprinkled over both, coat and trousers; vest he had none; but instead
thereof, a dark blue shirt, trimmed around the collar and bosom with
something that had once been white. On his head sat (for the crown was
too low to permit much of any thing to enter into it) a glazed hat,
which, from its bright appearance, had lately received a fresh coat of
tar; large bushy locks of sandy-colored hair stood out from beneath,
based by a thick mat of whiskers, extending under his chin, and covering
his whole neck; while down his back hung a queue of enormous size,
reaching nearly to the rock on which he sat. His features, what could be
seen of them, were not forbidding, although very much doubled and
twisted by the wear and tear of time and rough weather.

'We were going to the fort,' said Jim; 'and can you tell us, good man,
if they will let us in!'

'That's accordin' as to what your business is--if you got an arr'nd to
the major or his lady, or any of his folks, or to the lieutenant and his
lady, or so on--why the case is, they'll have to pass you right in; but
if it's only one of the privates you see, that's another thing.'

'But we have no particular errand to anybody; we have got a few things
to sell, and would be glad to dispose of them at the fort.'

'Ay, ay, that's a new case--things to sell, ha! I guess it will depend
upon what things you've got. If it's contraband goods, and you're
thinking to git the better of Uncle Sam, you've come to the wrong
market; the major'll make short work with you.'

'I don't know what you mean by contraband goods or trying to get the
better of anybody,' said Jim; 'we only thought they might be in want of
a few fresh vegetables and some strawberries.'

'Ay, ay, that's clean another case, there's no contraband in them; but
where under the blessed heaven have you come from? these things can't
grow nowheres round here.'

'I shouldn't think they could,' said Jim, looking significantly at the
dreary waste of sand and stunted pine that spread as far as he could
see; 'strawberries might grow up in the pines there, but I guess not
such as these.' With that Jim stopped, and taking up a basket, pulled
off the covering of green leaves, and held them out for the old man to
look at.

'Of all sights my eyes ever looked at!----'

'I think you'll find them as good as they look,' taking a double
handful, and holding them out towards the old man.

'No, no,' shaking his weather-beaten face, 'I've no money to buy 'em;
you must go to the major.'

'Take them and welcome, sir; I had no thought of asking you for pay;
you're very welcome to them.'

'God bless your young heart!' and holding out his hands he soon showed
that he knew how to dispose of them; as soon as he had finished he
jumped down on his one leg, and adjusted his crutches.

'Now, my hearties, I tell you what do you do; steer that craft o' your'n
right straight across to the fort, and just where you see that ledge of
rocks ends, you'll come foul of a pair o' stairs; haul up there, and
wait till I hobble round to my boat, and I'll be with you afore you've
made all fast.'

Away went the old man, his crutches making the sand fly in his haste to
get to his boat, which lay a short distance from where he had been
sitting.

The boys obeyed his directions, and had scarcely made their boat fast,
ere the old man was alongside.

'Now, my hearties, you just hold on awhile here, till I see the major.'

The moments seem long when we are in suspense, and our boys, in their
anxiety, began to fear that they should see no more of the old sailor;
it appeared so long, so very long that he stayed. After gazing intently
at the gate until their eyes were aching, all at once the sentinel
stopped, made a peculiar motion with his musket, and put his hand to his
cap; a gentleman of fine appearance passed out, followed at a respectful
distance by the crutches. He came directly to the stairs, and accosting
the boys in a very pleasant manner, inquired where they had come from,
and what they had for sale. Jim, in a straightforward, manly way,
answered his queries.

'But, my little fellow, what ever put it into your head to come so far
as this in search of a market?'

'We could think, sir, of no other place where there would be the least
chance to sell any thing; the people in this region are too poor to buy
such things.'

'You may well say so, my lad, and they are like to be so; for a lazier
set I never saw; but I am glad to find that you, boys, are disposed to
do something. Peter tells me that you have some choice things for sale.'

Peter, as we must call him hereafter, touched his hat when his name was
mentioned, but otherwise remained perfectly still, at a respectful
distance, saying nothing.

Jim immediately uncovered the different articles, and with his hat off,
looked up at the officer, who smiled as he surveyed the little stock of
goods.

'You have made out a pretty good assortment--those strawberries are
fine, indeed; are there plenty such raised in your area?'

'None, sir, but in our garden; my father used to be very fond of fruit,
and he taught us to raise it.'

'Is your father living?'

'He is not, sir.'

A shade of sadness at once passed over the countenance of the officer,
and his eye settled more intently upon the boy.

'Well, my lad, have you fixed upon a price for your articles?'

'I leave that to yourself, sir, as I am entirely ignorant of their
value.'

Major Morris then ordered the different articles to be measured, and
putting down prices to them such as he was accustomed to pay, handed the
paper to Jim.

'Not reckoning the strawberries, which I must pay something extra for,
the amount is one dollar and a half.'

Jim looked up with astonishment.

'I have calculated them at city prices, but if that is not enough----'

'Oh yes, sir; yes, sir. I was not thinking of that; it is much more than
I expected.'

'And now for the strawberries, what shall I say for them? they are finer
than those I usually purchase.'

'Oh, sir, I cannot think of taking any thing for them, since you allow
me so much for the others; if you will only let me take some out and
give that good man there (pointing to Peter), you are welcome to the
rest.'

'Certainly, certainly, here Peter.' But Peter had other views of the
matter, and instead of advancing to receive them, made two or three
retrograde steps with his crutches, at the same time putting his hand
upon his long queue and smoothing it down--a custom of his when at all
confused, and rolling a tremendous quid from one side of his mouth to
the other.

'The young gentleman wishes to give you some of these, Peter.'

'Thankee, sir, thankee;' nodding his head very fast all the time; 'no
occasion at all.'

'Well, Peter, since you refuse them, take this basket and hand it to
Mrs. Morris yourself.'

'Ay, ay, sir;' and away went Peter in double-quick time.

In the meanwhile, Sam manifested no impatience, although somewhat
anxious as to what would be _his_ fate; the moment Jim could with
propriety, he directed the attention of the gentleman to Sam's little
heap of clams and oysters.

Sam took off the seaweed which he had thrown over them, and blushed
deeply as he met the keen black eye of Major Morris, which having
glanced a moment at _them_, was scrutinizing with apparent interest the
appearance of their owner.

As Sam had no more idea of fixing a price than Jim had, the buyer was
obliged to pay for them on his own terms; so handing him fifty cents, he
said,

'I fear it will not compensate you for the trouble of bringing them so
far, but it is the rate for which I buy them.'

Sam expressed his perfect satisfaction the best way he could; for the
eye of the major was so long fixed upon him, that it quite took away his
self-possession.

Having made arrangements to bring such articles as their garden afforded
twice a week, with light and happy hearts, lighter and happier than can
be well described, they pointed their sail and bent their course for
home. The rock was to be their landing-place, and long before they
reached it, Ned could be seen throwing stones and cutting capers with
Jowler.

'Well, boys, how are you? what luck--sold any thing? I know by your
looks you haven't!'

'How are you, Ned? any thing happened? You look sober.'

'No, nothing.'

All this was said while the boat was nearing shore, the moment it
touched the land Ned was on board; he looked at the empty baskets, and
then at Jim and Sam. Jim smiled, and held out his hand, full of silver
pieces, and Sam held out his; and then they told him of their success,
and what arrangements they had made for the future.

Ned was somewhat confounded at the good news; but no sooner did he
comprehend it fully, than he took hold of both of them at once, shaking
them, and pushing them about, and hallooing.

'How are you, boys? huzza! huzza!'

'Do, Ned, stop your noise, and don't carry on so; you'll have us all in
the water.'

'Never mind, Jim, we'll soon work ourselves dry. Huzza! huzza!'

'I'm afraid you'll set the old boat a leaking, Ned.'

'Well, Sam, I'll stop; but how can you fellows keep so still when you've
had such good luck?'

Sam would have been perfectly contented with the product of his clams
and oysters for his day's work, but Jim would insist upon giving him a
certain proportion of what _he_ had received, which was finally fixed at
one quarter; so that Sam was to have, besides all he could procure from
the sale of his own articles, one-fourth of whatever other things were
sold, as his pay for the boat, and his labor in rowing.

And when Sam took the money which Jim handed to him, and put it with
what he had already received, and looked at it, a crowd of thoughts
rushed into his mind. Parents, sisters, home, the past, the present, and
the future--and that future bright with prospect of employment, and the
means of making those he loved as happy as himself. He could make no
answer to the cheerful 'Good bye' of Ned and Jim, but he turned his
bright and glistening eye towards them; and they went on their way the
happier that they saw how full of joy Sam was.

Sam kept his money in his hand until he reached home, and, going
directly to his mother, put the whole of his treasure into her lap.

'Why, Sam, where did you get all this?'

'Earned it, mother;' and then he told her all about it, and what he was
expecting to do in future.

'Oh,' said his mother, laying down her work, and clasping her hands
together in strong emotion, 'isn't this good! And now, Sam, you'll have
something to do all the time, and may be, your father will help you; and
may be he'll feel encouraged to do different; and may be----.' But the
hope of what might be, was too bright for her to utter it; and so she
sat and looked at Sam, and then she turned and looked out at the window;
and who can tell what a pleasing picture was painted out before her on
the sandy shore and the glassy river.

Sam had designed that his mother should keep the money, and use it for
their need; but she refused.

'No, no; keep it yourself, Sam; or, if you please, hand it to your
father. I see he's coming yonder, and all seems to be right with him.'

And so it proved; he had been to work for a neighbor where no restraint
would have been placed upon his appetite; but, strange to say, he had
not indulged. He had received no money for his services, for there was
seldom any of that to be got; but he had a bunch of fish in one hand,
and a kettle with flour in the other.

'Why, Sam, you got back? that is clever. What luck? not much, I guess.'

Sam made no reply, but as soon as his father had laid down his things he
handed out his little store.

'Here, father, please to take this.'

'Why, Sam, you didn't sell your things for all this, did you?'

And then Sam told him all the story, while his father looked in
amazement at the money, and at Sam, and then at his wife; as soon as he
had finished he held out his hand.

'Here, my boy, go give it to your mother; it's better with her than with
me.'

'No, father, I'd rather you would take it, and do what you please with
it.'

Blessings on you, Sam, that you had the good sense and good feeling to
answer as you did. You have poured a cordial into that father's heart,
which will do more to heal his weaknesses, and strengthen his good
resolutions, than could have been done by all the world beside. He feels
that he is yet a father, all is not lost--his _children yet_ trust in
him--the bright happy look of that boy has accomplished a work which an
angel would gladly have been commissioned to perform. God bless you,
Sam, for this one act, to your latest day.

'Well, Sam, then keep it yourself, and add as much to it as you can; for
you are a good boy.'

'They shall have it tho' yet, in some way or other,' said Sam to
himself, as he put it into his little chest. 'I shan't keep it for
myself; that _I shan't_.'

It would have required two smart talkers to have answered all Ned's
questions as fast as he put them; and as Jim never talked fast, he was
not half through answering when they reached home: their lively
conversation brought their mother out to meet them as they were entering
the front yard.

'Oh mother, what _do_ you think? Jim has sold all the things for ever so
much; see the empty baskets, and (striking Jim's pocket) hear that--hear
the money jingle.'

Both smiled at Ned's earnestness; and entering the house, a little
circle was soon formed around Jim, who went through with his story in
his own way.

'And now, mother,' said Ned, as soon as his brother had finished,
'you'll see how I can work; and if you will only give me a little bite
of something, I will go at once and finish my hoeing, for I was so
anxious to see the boys come back, that I have done nothing all the
afternoon but look over to the point.'

'You now feel, boys, the benefit of having been taught to work; it is no
hardship to you now.'

'Why, mother, I would rather work than play.'

'You thought differently the other day, Ned.'

'I know that, Jim; but you see the case is altered--that plan of yours
which I laughed so much about, makes altogether a great difference. I
don't believe any body would want to work just for the sake of it, would
they, mother?'

'No doubt, my dear, we need some stimulus to make us exert ourselves
cheerfully; but your father always said that it was better to be at
work, even if it did not amount to much; it was impossible, he said, for
an idle person to be happy.'

Mrs. Montjoy said but little by way of encouragement, for she saw that
the boys were both highly elated with their success and the prospect
before them; but she secretly admired and gratefully acknowledged the
overruling of that kind Providence, which had opened a way for her
children's usefulness and the supply of their wants.

The next morning Jim and Ned did not need to be awaked; there was real
business on their hands now, and they must use their time to the best
advantage; so at it they went while the sun was but just rising, and by
the time their breakfast was prepared, had completed hilling their
cabbages: as they ceased work, Jim leaned on his hoe, and looking at his
brother,--

'I've been thinking, Ned, what we've got to do.'

'I knew you'd been thinking, for you haven't spoken a word this half
hour; twice I asked you about old Peter, and you only answered, "Ha!"'

'Did I, Ned? well, I was thinking what we are going to do about these
cabbages.'

'I don't see any thing to do about them; ain't they well hoed?'

'Yes, they are doing well enough; but what will the cow do!'

'Why, eat them; I am sure none of us wants them.'

'Yes, but Ned, how can the cow have them if we sell them?'

'That, to be sure; but where can we put any more--the garden is full?'

'We can put one here, and another there, and there in those vacant
spots; there will be room for one hundred heads and more.'

'Well, Jim; any thing more?'

'Yes, I've been thinking where we could plant some more potatoes.'

'There is no use of thinking about that, Jim; for when these cabbages
are planted, every spot will be occupied; you don't think of digging up
the walks, do you?'

'No, not exactly that, Ned; but there is that strip of turf, south of
the path running to the barn; the grass is of no value, and if mother
would let us take it, we might turn it over with our spades, and raise
twenty bushels of potatoes there.'

'Any thing else, Jim?'

'That will do for to-day, won't it, Ned?'

'I think we shall find it will--it makes my back ache already to think
about that digging. I wish it was a little cooler.'

The pleasant voice of their little sister was now heard calling them to
breakfast, for which they were both well prepared by their early labors.



CHAPTER III.


Sam's first care after awaking on the morning which succeeded the scenes
in the last chapter, was to make some arrangement with old Mr. Andrews
for the boat. The old man was of the easy sort; he had never done much
when young, and now in advanced life depended entirely for the few clams
he wanted upon his son, who lived a short distance from him, and was
growing up in his father's likeness.

'You're welcome, Sam, to use the boat as long as you're amind to, and I
won't ax you nothin' for it; only once in awhile you may bring the old
woman a few clam.'

'I thank you very much, Uncle John; I will take good care of the boat,
and will bring you some clams every day.'

'Oh, no, no, no, Sam; I don't want no sich thing as that; only once in a
while, you see. Jack, he's a gettin' lazy like, and sometimes the old
woman gets tired of fish, and then a few clams is a kind of change for
her.'

Sam's next business was to visit Mr. Grizzle's store, that he might
purchase some article his mother needed.

'There shan't be no more trust, if I can help it,' said he, as he took
up his money-box, and put some of its precious contents into his pocket.
It was quite early in the day, yet several of Mr. Grizzle's customers
were already assembled when Sam reached the store; he had a great
reluctance to enter it, associated as it was in his mind with all that
had been dark and sorrowful in his past experience; but nowhere else
could supplies be obtained. Old Mr. Grizzle was busy behind his counter,
twirling the toddy-stick, saying smart things, or what he took to be so,
for he laughed very heartily at his own wit; and his customers, poor
souls! were so much in his debt that they were obliged to laugh too.

Sam glanced his eye over them all--some were bald with age; some in the
prime of life; and one, he knew him well, a lad but two years older than
himself, was draining the last sweet drop from the cup of poison as Sam
stepped up to the counter.

'Mr. Grizzle, what do you charge for seven pounds of flour?'

'What do I charge?' At the same time putting his spectacles upon his
forehead.

'Yes, sir, what is the price?'

'The price, boy? Why, how does your father want it? for fish or for
trust?'

'We don't want it for neither, sir, but for the money.'

'Ah!--the money. Well, I s'pose we must try to let you have it a little
less; but flour is plaguy dear any how, and I aint got none but rye.'

Sam succeeded in procuring a small deduction, and with that he purchased
some tar.

'I shall tar my boat with what I have saved by paying the money,' said
Sam to himself, as he laid down his cash on the counter; then taking up
his goods went straight on his way.

'That seems to be rather a 'cute boy, Mr. Grizzle--that young Oakum.'

'The younker, I guess, will go ahead of the old man,' said Grizzle, as
he dropped the money Sam had given him through a little hole in the
counter.

An old man, with his thin white locks dangling on his shoulders, placed
his half-emptied tumbler on the bench beside him, and turning his head
very emphatically on one side, said, 'Oakum is naturally a smart man,
and he has got a clever wife, but somehow he don't get along much--no
better than the rest of us.'

'And what is the reason, Uncle John,' said another, addressing the last
speaker, 'that we are all so poor?'

'Why, I s'pose it's to be so--it's our luck, as I take it.'

'Our _luck_?' said the young man, who stood by the door with his hands
in his pockets, looking at the receding form of Sam Oakum, whose light
steps were carrying him far on his way--he laid a strong emphasis on the
word luck.

'Yes, as I take it, it's our luck; a man may work ever so hard, but if
luck is agin him, it's no use.'

'Yes, it is use,' said the same young man; 'that is, if a man would let
rum alone--that makes the bad luck; I wish there had never been a drop
made.'

'What's that you say, Bill? I guess your bitters is gone down the wrong
way this morning.' And old Grizzle laughed heartily, and so did his
customers. Bill, as he was called, laughed a little too, but not as the
rest did.

'S'pose you mix Bill another glass, Mr. Grizzle, and see how that will
go?' And they all laughed again; and to carry the joke through, Grizzle
did prepare another glass, and placing it on the counter,

'There, try that, Bill; but may be you darsen't, you seem to be so
afraid all at once.'

Bill hesitated a moment; the fear of ridicule was too powerful. He
seized the glass, and pouring its contents hastily down his throat, left
the store amidst the uproarious laughter of his companions.

Jim and Ned had collected a much larger quantity of vegetables for their
second trip, and to the baskets of strawberries which they designed as
gifts, added a beautiful nosegay of the earlier flowers.

'Strawberries and flowers,' said Sam, as he was pushing the boat from
the shore; 'your things look tempting indeed; I guess old Peter will hop
round when he sees these.'

'I have brought that small basket on purpose for him; and the flowers I
thought the ladies might be pleased with--I don't think they see many
where they are.'

'It almost makes me feel bad, Jim, to think that I have nothing to carry
worth looking at.'

'Why, it is all one concern, you know, Sam; and I mean to have you hand
them the flowers.'

'I shan't do it, Jim--I should make a pretty figure, with my old patched
clothes and bare feet, handing flowers to ladies and gentlemen!'

'Sam Oakum, if you talk so, you'll make me feel bad; who cares for your
clothes?'

'_You_ don't Jim, I know; but all don't feel as you and Ned do--Keep her
head to the point, Jim, straight as you can.'

Sam had much more rowing to do than on the former trip, the wind not
coming quite so soon to their aid.

Peter was on the look-out for them, and hailed them before they reached
the landing.

'Halloo, my hearties! keep her jist about so--there--ease up--in with
your oars; you've had a long pull to-day--but you'll learn to take it
sailor-fashion after a while.'

The boys were very busy fastening their boat and taking down their sail,
and did not at the moment perceive that any one was present but the old
sailor, until attracted by the bunch of flowers lying on one of the
baskets, he exclaimed,--

'Susie, Susie, look here! did you ever see such posies as these?'

Sam at once seated himself in the stern of the boat, as far out of the
way as possible; while Jim, taking up the flowers, handed them to Peter,
and blushing very much,--

'These are for the lady, if you will be so good as to give them to
her--and this basket of strawberries; and here is one for yourself, sir,
if you will please accept it.'

'Bless your young hearts, to think of the old sailor. I thank you
kindly, boys; but'--putting his face down to Jim, and whispering--'you
won't mind my giving them to this little pet of mine;'--then raising
himself up--'Here, Susie, you carry these flowers to your Ma, and I'll
carry the strawberries;'--then stooping down again, and speaking in a
low voice--'the Major will be here pretty soon; he's busy now--you won't
be none the loser for these, I tell you. He's a real gentleman, and a
liberal soul, and he's got plenty to do with.' And the old man shook his
head very knowingly, making his long queue, as it stuck out in the air,
perform some strange manoeuvres; the boys, however, were diverted from
observing its wonderful gyrations by a sudden attraction towards the
flowers. It must have been that Peter's rapturous praises, or the
delight which they seem to have afforded Miss Susan, had unfolded new
beauties to our boys, for their eyes followed _the flowers_, even when
the young lady buried her pretty face among them to enjoy a fulness of
their fragrance--it could not possibly have been any thing else, Sam was
so very bashful, and Jim so very discreet--but their eyes followed the
flowers, even until the lovely little maiden that carried them was lost
to their view, and entered the castle gate.

Major Morris appeared well pleased with the variety Jim had brought, and
arranged every thing, as to price and measurement, in the same business
manner as before. He then proceeded to speak with him in reference to a
supply for the ensuing winter, enumerating a variety of articles, and
among them beans and potatoes.

'Potatoes we shall have, sir, and perhaps a few beans.'

'I wish to engage three hundred bushels of potatoes, to be well
selected, and of good size, and fifty bushels of beans. If you choose to
make a contract to deliver me these articles in the fall'--at the same
time handing to Jim a strip of paper with the prices annexed--'on these
terms, you can do so; and if you have not so many of your own, you can
doubtless purchase them of your neighbors, so as to pay you well for
your trouble.'

The boys were so confounded by the magnitude of the business proposed to
them, that when the Major ceased speaking, Sam looked at Jim and he at
Sam, and neither of them the wiser for any thing gained from the
countenance of the other--until Sam, as though it was more than he could
stand under, sat down; in doing so, however, he stumbled over his clams
and oysters, which attracted the notice of the Major to them.

'Ah, what have you got there? clams and oysters? I had like to have
forgotten to inquire for them.'

This brought Sam to his senses again; clams and oysters, almost in any
quantities, were familiar to him, but where three hundred bushels of
potatoes and fifty bushels of beans were to come from, was beyond his
comprehension. He soon had his part of the cargo on shore, and as Major
Morris handed him the money, thanked him in a very civil manner.

It was some time before Jim gave any reply to the proposal which had
been made to him, he was so absorbed in thinking; his mind had to run
over all the names of persons likely to have such articles for sale, and
the probable quantity each might be willing to spare. At length, after
thanking Major Morris for giving him such a chance--for he had sense
enough to perceive that it was all in kindness that the offer had been
made--he agreed to accept it.

'And now, my lads, you must go with me, as Mrs. Morris wishes to thank
you personally for the flowers and fruit.'

Again the boys looked at each other, and Sam turned very pale and then
very red, and finally sat down, and made signs to Jim to go along.

Jim knew that it would not be proper to hesitate under such
circumstances, so he prepared at once to follow; while Peter, who always
observed the most perfect silence in the presence of the Major, as soon
as he saw him on the way to the fort, began to make the most furious
gestures imaginable, motioning with his head so violently, that his
queue flew round behind him like a fly-brush; and when he thought there
was no danger of being overheard,--

'Go along; go along, I say! he's axed you himself--go along; it will be
the makin' of you.'

But it was of no avail. Sam shook his head and sat still, until the old
man, having exhausted his means of persuasion, took a seat beside him,
muttering something about 'dumb-founded perverseness.'

Jim had a great curiosity to see what was within the walls of the fort;
but he had only time to catch a glimpse of large guns on
wheel-carriages, and soldiers with glittering muskets; for Major Morris
passed quickly on, and opening a side door in the hall, was at once in
an elegantly furnished apartment, and in the presence of several
fine-looking ladies and the little girl, who still held the bunch of
flowers in close contact with her face.

Jim was not allowed to suffer the least embarrassment; for immediately
on his entrance Mrs. Morris arose, and coming toward him with a pleasant
smile and kindly salutation, thanked him so heartily for the present he
had sent to her, and talked so familiarly with him about his home and
his garden, that he felt as much freedom as though he had been long
acquainted.

'I regret exceedingly,' said Mrs. Morris, 'that I have nothing to offer
you in return for such beautiful fruit; but you must not refuse to taste
some of my cake. Susie, lay down your flowers, if you can part with them
so long, and hand that plate to our young visitor.'

Susie did at once as she was bidden: but she looked so very serious
about it, and walked so very slowly, that Jim would just at that moment
have preferred being in the boat by the side of Sam. She came directly
towards him with the silver plate in her hand, and some rich-looking
cake lying on it; so he had no alternative but to step towards her, and
in the politest manner he could, select a piece. His attention was, of
necessity, directed to the plate; but he could not help giving a glance
at other things. And indeed, Jim, you are not to blame for blushing as
you did, when you encountered the gaze of those sweet blue eyes, which,
in all the unaffected simplicity of youth, were fastened upon you. Her
golden-colored hair, parted smoothly from the fair forehead, and hung in
such a cluster of curls upon her snow-white neck--the rich color that
painted her parting lips, just tinged with the slightest blush her
dimpled cheek. She meant nothing by her gaze; it was only the expression
of an innocent curiosity in reference to the young gentleman she was
waiting upon. His clothes, to be sure, were coarse, and such as well
became the work in which he was engaged; but his collar was very white,
and neatly tied with a black ribbon; and his light-brown hair, so soft
and silky; his fair complexion, his pleasant voice, and good manners,
all made a contrast which she did not understand; and it would seem that
some of the company present, much older than Susie, were equally
surprised.

'What a fine, manly-looking boy! and how well he behaves,' said Mrs.
Morris, as soon as Jim had retired, to an elderly lady richly dressed,
and who, from the peculiar glance she gave to another lady much younger
than herself, while Mrs. Morris and Susie were paying so much attention
to our Jim, felt anything but satisfied at the scene.

'I say, aunt, what a fine little fellow that is!'

'Well, Lettie,' said the elderly lady, shaking her sides a little, as
though it was something so ludicrous that she must laugh--she could not
help it, 'I didn't see anything very extraordinary. Where is he from?
who is he? a son of some of the gentlemen down in the pines here? Mary
and I saw some specimens of their houses--a mansion or two;' and the old
lady laughed so heartily, that she could say nothing more, and the young
lady had to put her handkerchief to her face to hide the emotion which
was agitating her. Mrs. Morris was aware of the peculiarities of this
lady, an aunt of her husband's, and as she unintentionally had opened
the way for a long lecture on the plebeian notions of herself and
husband, she was much relieved by the entrance of the Major, who, full
of praises of 'those manly little fellows,' as he called Jim and Sam,
whom he had just parted with, drew upon himself the storm which Mrs.
Morris came near enduring alone.

'I felt disposed to laugh, I must say, Philip,' addressing the Major,
'to see Lettie paying as much personal respect and attention to a little
market boy, as it seems he is, as though he had belonged to one of our
best and most respectable families. I say, I felt at first disposed to
laugh, but I must say, Philip,' and the old lady straightened herself in
a very decided manner, and began fanning herself very earnestly--'I must
say, that when I saw that dear child, at her mother's bidding, waiting
upon a young clown as though he had been a very gentleman, and when I
thought what blood ran in her veins, it fired my indignation. Such
things ought not to be, Philip; you will demolish all distinctions in
society, or at any rate, bring your own family to feel that it is no
matter whom they associate with, and that one is as good as another.'

The Major suffered his aunt to 'say her say out,' and, knowing as he did
what reason he had personally to set a high estimate on the pedigree to
which she seemed to think it was such an honor to be allied, was
designing some palpable hits for the special benefit of his kindred,
drawn from his own experience; but being a wise man, as well as a
noble-hearted one, he concluded to treat the matter as he saw his wife
was doing, and laugh it off.

'Why, aunt! I thought you had given me up long ago as an incorrigible
boy, who would have his own way. You know, aunt, I began very early in
life to do as I pleased; and having worked my own way up the ladder so
far, it is not strange if I should be a little headstrong, or my notions
of such matters as you have touched upon somewhat peculiar.'

His good aunt had heard enough to refresh her memory on a matter that,
now the subject of it had, as he reminded her, raised himself to
distinction, she, as well as the rest of his kindred, would have been
willing should pass into oblivion; and was well satisfied when the Major
invited her and the other ladies to walk with him upon the ramparts to
witness a fine sight, the passing of a ship of the largest class, under
full sail.

This lady and her daughter will not be subjects of our story; so I will
not trouble the reader with any farther description of them. They belong
to a class often met with in the common walks of life, who, because of
some imaginary value which they attach to the ancestry from which they
have descended, gauge their estimate of others by what they think to be
the equality, or inequality, of their station to that which they suppose
themselves to occupy. Major Morris estimated society by a different
standard; and, as we shall have much to do with him, it may be well to
trace the causes which led him thus to judge.

He was born in a part of our country where the distinctions which
formerly prevailed between the classes of society were still kept up.
His parents were allied to those who claimed the higher ranks of life as
theirs by birth, and struggled hard to maintain their station; but
poverty and death are great levellers, and young Morris found himself,
at twelve years of age, an orphan, without a home, or the means of
support, except that which was afforded him by the charity of his
kindred. He was invited by an uncle to make his house a home, and for a
while enjoyed the privilege of dwelling within a splendid mansion, and
faring sumptuously, and mingling amongst the gay youth that thronged
where abundance flowed. But he soon found that poverty was thought to be
a disgrace, even in nearest kin, by those who would have scorned the
idea of his engaging in any lawful calling whereby he could have earned
his bread, if that calling was not one which, in their view, his
peculiar class could engage in. Young Morris knew nothing of such
distinctions; but he knew that he was poor, and was made, on more than
one occasion, to feel his dependence. His high spirit rebelled; he left
his place of refuge, and took shelter beneath the roof of a poor family,
with whom he labored for a time most cheerfully in earning his daily
bread. From thence he obtained employment in one of our large cities in
the mercantile line; but as he reached the age in which generally a
choice is made of an occupation for life, his feelings prompted to the
military profession. Through the influence of a friend, whom his own
correct deportment had gained, he obtained a commission. His strict
attention to all the rules of the service, his entire devotedness to
every duty committed to him, and his well-established reputation as a
noble-minded and chivalrous officer, gave him favor in high places, and
he rose rapidly to the grade he then held. To a commanding appearance
and most polished manners, he united a kind and benevolent heart, warm
in its sympathies towards every object of distress; and he would have
poured out full streams to every child of want, to the very extent of
his ability. But well for him, as for those he would aid, he had learned
not only to bring others under wholesome discipline, but himself also;
he had learned that some of our best feelings must be under subjection
to prudent counsel, and that he who scatters in profusion, even from the
promptings of a noble heart, is as likely to do evil as good. He had
abundance to bestow, for he had married a lady of great wealth, and the
whole responsibility of its proper use was devolved on him; his lovely
wife had not only committed herself, but all she possessed, entirely to
him. 'She wanted nothing to call her own,' she said, 'but her husband's
heart.'

Nothing could have been more gratifying to Major Morris than his
introduction to our boys. He could sympathise in their feelings; he
could value properly their enterprising spirit, and he had an
opportunity of indulging his kindness of heart in a way that would
stimulate them to exertion.

It would be no easy task to describe the happiness which our boys Jim
and Sam enjoyed, as they drew their skiff to shore that evening, and
separated, each for their several homes. Sam found every thing as
peaceful as his heart could wish, while the wonderful story which he had
to tell excited the astonishment of his parents.

'I don't believe tho', Sam,' said his father, 'you will find so many
beans and potatoes to sell in all this place; and then I don't see how
you are goin' to carry them, nor how you are goin' to pay for them.'

'I don't know much about it, father; but I guess Jim will work it out
some way. He didn't hardly speak a word all the way home; he was
thinking, I know.'

'Perhaps he may manage it, somehow; but I don't well see through it all,
Sam. I can't do much for you myself; only if I had the stuff, I might
build you a bigger boat, and one that would stand the waves better than
the old one you've got.'

'Oh, would you, father?' and Sam's eyes began to glisten; and his
mother, good soul, had to wipe away the tears that her joyful heart
could not restrain--some of the _may-bes_ which had so lately played in
pleasant vision before her, were indeed realised.



CHAPTER IV.


The place where the scene of this story is laid, I have said was a lone
village; it had no communication with other places by means of boats,
although its water privileges were abundant; and between it and
neighbouring towns intervened an extent of country, consisting of
pine-barrens, where no settlements could exist, or at least any that
deserved the name. There were those, however, who dwelt amid its dreary
solitudes, and called it home. Scattered here and there upon an area of
ten to fifteen miles square, might be seen, sometimes alone and
sometimes in clusters of three or four, a few miserable dwellings, made
principally of logs. A door, and one window without glass, were the only
openings to these abodes; and a rude chimney running up against the
outside, formed a receptacle for the pine logs, which blazed often
through the long winter nights, the only light they could afford, as
well as almost their only protection from the searching cold.

Poverty and wretchedness generally make sad havoc with the human frame;
the haggard countenance, the dry and skinny hands, the stoop, the
feeble, tottering gait, we expect and look for, when visiting abodes
that betoken destitution. But miserable as was the appearance of these
dwellings, the aspect of their inhabitants was generally that of health
and sufficiency; their swarthy complexions, and fine athletic forms,
almost compelled the traveller through these lonely regions to believe
that he had alighted upon a tribe of those sons of the forest who once
called our country all their own.

The moral character of this people was in keeping with the aspect of
their dwellings. Having no regular religious instruction, seldom hearing
the voice of a living teacher, with scarce a Bible to be found within
their gloomy houses, they were but little in advance of the heathen as
to religious knowledge, and far too near allied to them in many of their
vicious habits.

They earned their daily bread by laboring amid the lofty and dense
forests, in levelling the majestic pines, cutting them into lengths
suitable for transportation, and conveying them to the outskirts of the
barrens: their hire was but a pittance when considered as a remuneration
for their toil, but it enabled them to live; it procured for them food,
coarse indeed, but enough to satisfy their appetite, and the plain and
simple clothing which necessity demanded, or to which perhaps their
taste aspired.

The owners of these forests lived at some distance, and employed an
agent to attend to all the various labors of preparing the timber and
conveying it to market.

Cross, the individual employed for this business, had grown up amid
these solitudes, and labored with his axe for some years. Gifted by
nature with shrewdness, and not very particular on the score of
morality, he had managed to obtain the post he occupied, and with most
of the proprietors stood on good terms; he was active, prompt, and
efficient, and perhaps, for the business intrusted to him, did as well
as any one could. But he was, beyond measure, grasping and avaricious;
and as he could not well gain undue advantage from those who employed
him, being bound by contracts not easily evaded, he made up such
deficiency by 'grinding the faces' of the poor laborers.

Without any means of gaining a livelihood besides, they had become
entirely dependent on the good-will of Mr. Cross. He fixed their wages,
supplied them from his store with the necessaries of life at his own
price, and in that way managed to bring them, at the close of every
month, either without any surplus, or most generally a trifle in debt.

On the border of these barrens, and near the principal scene of our
story, lived the widow Mary Brown; her husband had been one of the
woodcutters, an intemperate man, who had caused her much trouble while
he lived, and when he died left her with two orphans. She had to
struggle hard to support herself and little ones. But as a light in a
dark place, so was this widow among these outcasts. She was generally
known throughout the region where she lived, and the wildest and most
abandoned never brought against her a railing accusation--they never
spoke lightly of her not her religion; for the garb of piety she wore
was so unassuming, the light that shone around her humble path was so
mild and unobtrusive:--

    Like the soft fleecy cloud at the close of day,
    That far in the west where the sun's last ray
    Rests bright on its bosom--its mellow light
    Steals to our heart, as we gaze in delight;
    No glare to dazzle, we love to view
    Its changing tints and its golden hue.

Having a very humbling view of herself, she felt great pity for the
deluded ones around her; she never chid them for their follies, but
would weep and pray in secret, and when called to watch at their dying
bed, she had such a quiet, happy way of holding up before the weak and
guilty spirit the Saviour in his love and pity, that many a poor
wanderer took courage from her message of mercy, and ere the spirit
fled, it was enabled to look in faith, and go its lone way in peace.
Wherever sorrow or sickness visited, there was she sent for, as one who
carried with her a charm that could neutralize their power.

Her dwelling was a log hut like those in that vicinity, but it had an
air of comfort the others had not. Her plain door was white-washed, and
a little curtain hung across the window; and there was a box of flowers
by the step, and every useless thing was removed from around the house,
and the ground swept neatly, and beneath some of the large pines that
afforded a grateful shade to her lonely abode, were rude seats, as
though made for the wayfaring man, on which to rest and be refreshed.

Her children, though helpless little ones when their father died, had
now grown up to an age when each of them, in different ways, could
materially aid her. She felt no longer a dread of want, although often
sighing in secret that her son was compelled to labor with those whose
example could only lead astray, and that her daughter had no brighter
prospect than a residence among these uncultivated foresters. But she
had done what she could. Of worldly wisdom she knew nothing; but she had
a Bible, and could read it. Its requirements and its doctrines were all
plain to her, she loved them, and taught them to her children; they
learned passages from them on the long, still Sabbath days, and as she
sat in the shade of the large pines by her door, they would come and sit
near her, to hear and listen to some story she would tell them of those
whose names have been recorded, and their history handed down for the
benefit of every coming generation. But other influences have now begun
to exert a counteracting power; William is eighteen, a man in size and
strength, a hardy laborer, and much from home. He still brings all he
earns, or nearly all, to the common stock; he still reverences his
mother, and listens to her instructions, and treats with kindness his
only sister; but rumours have reached his home that his chosen
associates were some whose names had become by-words for rude and evil
doings, and any heart but a mother's would have given up his chance for
any future good.

'She had hope for William,' she said, 'although he might be led astray
by evil companions.'

And she had good cause for hoping--for she had fastened to his heart
that golden chain, each link of which a mother's prayers and gentle
teachings and untiring love had formed. He felt its power even in his
hours of revelling, and although he never met with an upbraiding word or
look from her, his conscience had no rest.

The daughter was all that her mother could ask; she had no desire to
depart from the beautiful precepts of the Bible--because she loved them.
Her mind was active, thoughtful, and discerning beyond her years; of
kind and generous disposition, ever ready for any work of love, and
cheerful and happy in the consciousness of good-will to all. Her moral
character was well matched with a beauty of person rarely found, even
under every advantage. Hettie had no ornaments to set off her beauty,
and no graces imparted by culture to heighten the natural ease of her
movements; her complexion, though dark, was brightened by the rich color
which adorned her cheeks, and her jet-black eyes were softened by the
long dark lashes that gave to their expression almost the languor of a
southern clime, while her dark hair dangled in luxuriant curls, very
much to her annoyance, for she often said:--

'She did wish her hair was straight like other girls; it was always
getting into such a tangle.'

As Mrs. Brown--or the Widow Brown, as she was universally called--lived
nearer to the open and more cultivated settlement than any of the other
inhabitants of the barrens, she was well known among the farmers'
families, although intimate with very few. Hettie had some associates
there, which her mother preferred for her to those in her own immediate
vicinity. Of these, the family of the Widow Andrews was one to which
they were peculiarly attached. They could sympathize with each other;
the mothers were both widows, and each had two children of about the
same age. They both loved good things; they could converse bout their
past trials, and present hopes and fears. But while many things in their
circumstances were similar, there were others in which they were very
unlike to each other; for the Widow Andrews was much under the power of
strong natural feelings, easily excited by joy or grief, and her
passions when aroused seemed at times to know no bounds: no sooner was a
chord struck that touched a tender point in her heart, than she would
begin to talk very rapidly and to weep freely; her words flowing faster
and faster, and louder and louder, until, between weeping and talking,
she would finally break into a flood of tears, and all was over.

The Widow Brown was aware of this weakness in her neighbor, and lamented
it, for she knew that at times it did real evil; but there were so many
things that she loved her for, this she considered as a mere weakness,
for which she should be pitied.

In reference to worldly goods, too, there was a dissimilarity. The Widow
Andrews had a much better house, although a very plain one; still it was
called a house, and not a log hut; and she had a few acres of land
attached to it, and a small barn, old and shackling to be sure, and a
few head of cattle, and had been enabled, hitherto, to make out to live
in a very frugal way from her own resources.

Mary, her daughter, was not pretty, like Hettie Brown, nor was she so
intelligent; but she had a kind heart, and was obedient to her mother,
and being about Hettie's age, the two girls became much attached.

The son had promised fair to be a support to his mother, and a good
member of society, but a dark cloud had arisen upon all such
prospects--bad company had now begun to have attractions for him. He
neglected his work, disobeyed his mother, lost his ambition, and was in
a fair way to make a wreck of body and soul. His mother had been proud
of her William--of his good behavior, of his efficiency at work, of his
industrious habits; and not a little proud was she of his fine
appearance--it was a mother's weakness; but we will not judge her
harshly. He had, indeed, a very pleasant expression to his countenance;
his lively eye looked so kindly at you; there was such a play of
roguishness and good-nature about his mouth; and when he spoke, a
musical voice brought out the words so soft and clear--all tended to
interest both friends and strangers. But all the love which his mother
bore towards him, and all her pride in him, caused her to be more
violent in her rebukes. She poured out such a torrent of invective at
him, that much as he felt he deserved her displeasure, he could not
stand the violence of it. Every bad feeling of his heart was aroused; he
began to dread his home and his mother's voice, and sought refuge where,
alas! ruin alone could be the end thereof.

He was now eighteen years of age, and as my reader was first introduced
to him at Mr. Grizzle's store, we will follow him as he left that den of
evil. His conscience was troubled; there was something in the appearance
and behavior of Sam Oakum that morning, that revived the memory of what
he himself had once been. We saw how he watched Sam when he left the
store, as far his eye could follow him; how madly he poured down the
offered glass, and rushed from the scene of his shame.

Whither to direct his steps he knew not, but onward he went; he was glad
to be in the open air, it was so much better than the poisonous
atmosphere he had just left. Soon his attention was arrested by the
appearance of a dwelling and its precincts that he was about to pass. It
was a scene of desolation--the house and all its accompaniments; the
windows stuffed with every variety of color and substance to supply the
places of broken panes; the door hung sideways by one hinge, the boards
loose and flapping against the timbers of the house, the roof broken in,
and apparently ready to fall upon the inmates, and the inclosures around
the place lying prostrate or scattered about the grounds. A woman was
outside, picking up what rubbish she could meet with to replenish the
fire; sorrow was plainly marked upon her withered features; and as she
walked into the house with a few faggots in her hand, there was such a
deadness in her step, such a bowing down under the weight of some too
heavy burden--ambition, comfort, hope, all seemed to have departed, and
left her in her misery with a broken spirit.

William halted in his rapid course; he looked upon the scene and
considered it well.

This was the house of one of those whom he had just left; the one most
forward to complain of bad luck, and who joined most heartily in the
laugh which had been excited at his expense. He had been familiar with
this place; often had he seen it, just as it then appeared, but never
had its desolate condition affected him before;--a light from heaven
seemed pouring upon it, and singling it out from all other objects. He
could look at nothing else. 'It was the vineyard of the man void of
understanding, and the field of the slothful; the stone wall thereof was
broken down; it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles covered the
face thereof.'

William looked upon it, and received instruction: slowly and sadly he
passed along.

A little by-road now crossed the public highway. Instinctively almost,
he turned into it; the trees which lined it formed a grateful shade, and
seemed to invite him therein to cool his heated, feverish frame.

Near to this path, and not far from the highway he had left, was a pure,
bright, bubbling spring; it came up through the clean white sand, and
the green turf formed its only curb. On one side it had cleared an
opening, and meandered away through a little bed of fine gravel stones,
which sparkled in the sunbeams as they stole through the branches of the
willows which encircled the fountain. His throat parched with thirst,
and his mind and body in an excited condition, he threw himself upon the
velvet turf, and allayed his thirst from the pure stream. He tried to
think, but his thoughts ran wild into each other; he turned his head
towards the roots of one of the willows, and rested it there. It
throbbed against the cool green turf; its coolness was refreshing to
him, and there he slept.

Hettie Brown had that morning left her home in the barrens to do an
errand for her mother in Mr. Grizzle's store; she stopped at the Widow
Andrews', and found the mother and daughter in tears, and had to listen
to a long tale of William's delinquencies.

'And he's gone off to Grizzle's, now again, I _know_ he has; and there
he'll sit and drink, and he'll come home drunk yet one of these days,
and he'll be a drunkard and a vagabond.'

And the good woman went off into another hard crying spell. Hettie made
no reply; she was not in the habit of talking much, nor did she shed any
tears--she was not given to that either. A few expressions of sympathy
she dropped as she parted from Mary, telling her to hope for the best,
and making a short call, went on her way to the store.

She was anxious to see William, and therefore she hastened her steps.
She seemed to feel a consciousness of power to lead him away from the
path of ruin. He had been her playmate when a little child; nor had he
ever, by word or deed, done aught to offend her. The intimacy of
childhood had indeed passed away--her wise mother had cautioned her on
matters referring especially to William, and of late she had seldom seen
him; but she felt that she possessed an influence over him, and she
meant now to exert it.

As she crossed the by-path we have already mentioned, she thought of the
little spring, and how refreshing it would be to drink of its cool
water. She turned, and followed the path towards the willows which
marked the spot.

When William Andrews awoke, it was from a troubled dream, and the quiet
which surrounded him was grateful to his spirits. He arose and drank
freely from the spring--the birds were singing sweetly in the hedges and
on the trees; there was no sound beside, but the rippling of the little
rill that stole gently away from the fountain where he had slaked his
thirst. His feelings, late so hurried and disturbed, were calm--the
storm had lulled, a dark and dreadful gulf seemed to have been passed,
and now he was upon a path where all above and around him combined to
make it light and pleasant. This change, however, was but the effect of
that rest which sleep had given to his frame; 'twas the pure fresh
feeling which the soul enjoys when waked by morning's dawn, before the
hopes and fears, the business and the cares of life, have time to urge
their claims. Scarce had he quenched his thirst, and fully awaked to a
consciousness of his situation, ere the scenes of the morning rushed
back upon him. As the tumult of his thoughts arose, he stood and leaned
against one of the willows, and cast his eye down at the little
fountain, bubbling up so incessantly and with so little disturbance,
that it came to the surface with no alloy of earth about it; and he saw
how fresh and rank was the greensward all along its course--it not only
gave from its little receptacle a full supply for all who needed, but
virtue seemed to emanate throughout its meanderings, and to bless
wherever it flowed.

'This spring,' said he, 'is like the life of one that is good--pure at
the fountain, and the whole life a blessing, making things better and
happier all around him; but _my_ life--oh, what has it been?' And his
cheek flushed, and tears of anguish fell fast, while with hands firmly
clasped, and still leaning against the tree, he looked down at the
bubbling water.

'Why William!'

He started at the well-knows voice.

'Oh, Hettie, is this _you_? how glad I am to see you.'

She extended her hand towards him, but there was something in the sight
of Hettie that caused the cup, already full, to overflow; he did not
take the offered hand, but covering his face, gave way to a passionate
burst of weeping.

Hettie was much surprised, but she attempted not to interfere; nor did
she weep with him, but waited silently until the violence of the storm
had passed, and he was sufficiently composed to address her.

'I am very unhappy, Hettie, and have been so for a long time.'

'I have thought so, William, and I am very glad of an opportunity to say
something to you about it. I was certain that you must be unhappy. There
can be no peace for us when we have left the path of duty, until we
return from our crooked ways: it would not be best for us that we should
be happy when our doings are not right.'

'Well, mine are not right, and I am afraid they will never be any
better.'

'Why not, William? are you willing still to be unhappy, and to break
your mother's heart, and fill the minds of all your friends with
sorrow?'

'I have been far astray, Hettie. I have sunk myself very low, and have
struggled hard at times to break the charm that was leading me to ruin;
but I feel now as I have not felt before; and if you will only not
despise me, if you will let me hope that a new course of life may yet
gain your respect, it will be a helper to me--a great helper to me. And
oh! Hettie, you cannot tell how much I need your aid.'

Hettie was wise perhaps beyond her years. She felt much interest for the
youth who had grown with her from childhood.

'I fear, William, that the struggle you will be compelled to encounter
will need help greater than a creature can give. You must look to Him
who made you, and relying on his strength, resolve to do your duty, cost
what it may. All that I can promise is my feeble prayer; and whenever I
offer it for myself, I will offer it for you too, William. And now I
must leave you, for I have an errand to the store, and mother will be
uneasy at my absence.'

And the happy girl, smiling a pleasant good-by, went on her way. William
watched her until she turned into the public road, and then, with one
strong cry to Heaven for help, turned towards his home, a happier person
than he had been for many long months.

_He had resolved to do right._



CHAPTER V.


The difficulties which presented themselves to our boys in fulfilling
the engagement they had made with Major Morris were of no trifling
account, for it was a great question if so large a quantity could be
found in the place, above what was pledged to Mr. Grizzle for debts
already incurred. Again, if they should succeed in finding the quantity,
how could they pay for them? and lastly, where was a boat to be
procured, in which to carry them at a season of the year when storms and
high winds were to be expected? But as difficulties are apt to vanish
before a resolute mind, Jim felt not at all daunted by them.

He had resolved, first of all, to make a thorough trial as to the
possibility of finding persons willing to engage specific quantities to
him. And it was for this purpose that the boys were assembled early in
the morning of a bright and beautiful day in June; Jim and Sam to go on
the expedition, and Ned to see them off.

'Well, boys, I hope you'll find all you'll want; but it looks to me like
a hard case.'

'So it does to me, Ned, too; but Jim has been thinking it all out, you
know. I should feel better, however, if we knew where the _money_ was to
come from to pay for them; I do hate so to ask folks to trust us.'

'I have no idea, Sam, of doing any such thing; I mean to offer them the
money down as soon as they deliver the potatoes.'

'Just hear _that_ Ned,' said Sam, looking verily confounded.

'Well,' said Ned, kicking away a small stone that lay in reach of his
foot, 'that is a good plan enough if one had the money; but it will take
all of a hundred dollars: and it looks dark to me where such a sum as
that is to come from.'

'That is the least of the difficulties, boys; we shall make, I hope, by
our summer's work enough money to pay for twenty-five bushels of
potatoes, which will be the most we shall be able to carry at a trip,
and Major Morris will pay us for them as we deliver them to him.'

Ned and Sam looked at each other. 'I told you, Ned, that Jim would think
it out somehow.'

'And besides,' continued Jim, 'I have great hope that our offering them
the money on delivery, will induce them to sell to us in preference to
Grizzle. But what troubles me the most is, how to get a boat sufficient
for our purpose.'

'Supposing I should say'--and Sam's bright eyes sparkled as he looked
from one to the other of his companions, while a smile played around the
corners of his mouth--'I hope to have a good new boat, not very
handsome, but tight and strong, and able to go in rough weather, and
carry twenty-five bushels of potatoes at a load; what would you say to
that?'

'Now, Sam Oakum, what do you mean?'

'I mean just what I say. My father told me last night, that as soon as
he could get the stuff, he would go right to work and build a boat as
large as that, and that it should be mine; and I am going to take my
money as I can earn it, and buy the stuff. What do you think of that,
Jim?'

'It is the best news I have heard this long while;--how strangely things
work! but look out for Ned there.'

The warning was too late, for Sam was lying on his back, laughing
heartily; and Jim was scolding Ned for his folly, and Jowler was barking
at them all. As soon as matters were composed again, Jim and Sam started
on their expedition; while Ned, with Jowler at his heels, went with
right good-will to his work in the garden.

A blacksmith's shop is a very necessary article in all social
establishments, as the place where persons are likely to be met with and
news collected or circulated. The one which answered the demands of this
place was not a very extensive establishment; it was a little
dark-looking hovel, with an exceedingly high chimney. It was situated at
the meeting of several roads, and was surrounded with a multitude of
articles that had once seen better days, but _when_, the oldest
inhabitant could scarcely remember. Mr. Cutter, the proprietor of this
establishment, was now somewhat advanced in life, but by no means so old
as his appearance indicated. From some cause not well ascertained, he
had begun about his thirtieth year to increase in flesh, and had for
more than twenty years been adding to his stock; neither wielding the
sledge-hammer in his shop, nor the worrying of his good wife in the
house, could keep it back; but I believe it was all the increase, of any
consequence, that resulted from his labors, and yet he was, in
comparison with his neighbors, 'well to do in the world.' He was,
moreover, of a good disposition, ready to oblige, and of sound judgment,
and as well acquainted with persons and things for many miles round as
any other man in the place, and a little better.

Our boys had determined to make their first call at 'Uncle Sam
Cutter's,' as he was generally styled.

'He's a clever man,' said Sam, 'and he knows every body, and all about
every thing in the place; and it may save us a great many steps.'

It was a very warm day, and Uncle Sam was sitting outside his shop, on
what had once been the hub of a large cart-wheel; there was a fine shade
where he sat, a large apple tree which stood in an adjoining lot,
extending its branches almost to his shop door. He had his hat in his
hand, and was using it violently as a fan; the heat was making terrible
work with him, for on his bald head and down his fat cheeks and sunburnt
breast, the perspiration was running in streams.

'A pretty warm day, Uncle Sam, ain't it?'

'Here, you young rogue, take this, and blow a little wind on to me, if
there's any to be got, for I'm most dead,' (handing Sam his great
broad-brimmed chip hat.) 'I guess you'd think it warm, blowing them
tarnel old bellows all day long, with such a lump of fat lugging to you
as I've got; I can't hardly waddle under it, let alone handling them
bellows.'

'Why don't you have the boys blow for you, Uncle Sam?'

'The boys! ah yes, the boys! I'd like any one to tell me what the hul
kit on 'em is good for, but to eat mush and milk. Do blow away Sam, if
there's any wind in all creation any more. I want to git this carcass o'
mine cool a little, just so I shan't go _all_ to soap-grease. Talk of
the boys, they're wus than wild cats; I wouldn't give my old mare for
all the boys between this and the barrens--don't talk to me about boys,
Sam--don't stop blowing, or I'm a dead man. Here, Jim, my good fellow,
spell him a little.'

'Yes, that I will, with pleasure, sir.'

'That's like a man, there's no boy about that--ah, Jim, I knew your
father well, and a likelier man never came to this place; but what he
came _here_ for was more than I could ever see--it seems to me there's
a cus on it; the men are bad enough, but the boys are the old Nick's
property altogether. I tell you what, if we don't have a preacher, or
something of that kind, along here pretty soon, we're a gone case;
there'll be another sort of bellows blowin' than my old groaner, I tell
you. Ah, Jim, that feels good, I won't touch a hammer agin' to day; if
Grizzle wants his old plough mended, he may come and sweat away at it
himself, it will do his old dry carcass good, won't it Sam? It won't
hurt him, will it?' And the old man went off into a good hearty laugh,
his whole body shaking like a lump of jelly--the idea of sweating
Grizzle amused him so much, that he forgot about the heat, and taking
his hat clapped it on his head.

'And now, boys, what are you up to? going crabbing down to the mill, I
know; for my boys have been there this hul blessed morning.'

'Oh, no sir,' said Jim, 'we were not thinking about that this morning;
but are wishing to find out who would be willing to engage some beans
and potatoes for the fall.'

'Beans and potatoes? why, you blessed child, are you crazy? You ain't
grown up here, not to know better than to try to sell sich things in
this place. You must go to Grizzle with them, and he won't take them
only for jist what you owe him.'

'Ah, but we don't want to sell, but to buy.'

'Want to buy!--you're wus off than I thought you was. Why, didn't you
plant any? How did you think you was goin' to live? like Bill Moore and
his brother down the lane here? eh?'

'Oh, no sir, we have plenty for our use; but we can sell quite a
quantity of these articles, more than we shall have.'

'And pray tell me what you call a quantity, mister.'

'Why, we want two or three hundred bushels.'

'_Two or three hundred bushels!_' And the old man took off his hat and
began to fan himself again very fast. '_Two or three hundred
bushels!_--you boys wasn't neither on you brought up to lie, but I don't
know but you've taken up the trade; it's pretty easy larnt, to be sure.'

'It's true, Uncle Sam, what Jim tells you; _true_ as we stand here.'

'Sam Oakum, them eyes o' yourn warn't made to help a lyin' tongue; so
don't stand there looking so honest, and telling me sich stuff as
that.'

'It is true, Mr. Cutter, just as Sam says; we are telling you the truth,
and no joke about it.'

But the old man kept shaking his head and fanning himself; so that Jim
felt called upon to tell their whole story.

'Now boys, _is_ this _true_, you're tellin' me? Sam, you're a smilin';
there's some catch about it, ain't there, you rogue?'

'No, there ain't, Uncle Sam, upon my honor.'

'Well, it's a queer story, any how; _three hundred bushels potatoes_;
why you'll take all that's raised, and Grizzle won't have none for Cross
this year; you know he sends all he takes in up to Cross, who keeps the
store or tavern, or whatever they call it, in the barrens; but it ain't
much matter, they're two precious rogues, both on 'em. And you say you
want to know where you can find so many: I raally can't say; but the
Widow Andrews would be like to have _some_. Bill tell'd me he had
planted a considerable patch, beans and potatoes too; but whether
they'll come to any thing I don't know, for he's got like the rest on
'em--he's round to Grizzle's too much, I guess. Sorry for it; Bill's a
likely fellow if he'd mind his own business. And then there's my
namesake, Cutter; he may have a few, not a great many. I tell you what,
you'll have to hunt considerable, boys, afore you'll find all you want.
And then there's Billy Bloodgood, deaf Billy, you know him; but you'll
have to holler loud enough to wake the dead to make him hear--he ought
to have a speakin' trumpet fastened into his ear, it's enough to give a
man the consumption to talk with him. And may be I'll have a few myself,
and I would as leave you'd have them as Grizzle, the old varmint; I
don't believe I shall owe him much this year. What are you goin' to
give, boys?'

Sam looked at Jim for an answer.

'Why, if they are fair-sized potatoes, we can give twenty-five cents a
bushel.'

'I wish I had more on 'em, for that's double what Grizzle gives; and
_beans_ you want _too_; well, I guess I shall have three or four
bushels. I can't say but they ought to be hoed now, and I can't do it,
no how; for a man like me to work out in the sun, it's idle to talk
about it. Why I should die in the operation, and the boys don't care for
nothin'; but when they hear what a price you're givin', it may spur them
up a little.'

The boys thanked him for his information, and started off at a good
pace on their way to the Widow Andrews'. Bill was at work in the field,
fighting manfully with a large growth of weeds; he greeted them kindly,
but continued his labors.

'You will excuse me if I don't stop working; things are so behind-hand
with me, that if I don't labor hard, I shall not catch up with my work,
all summer.'

'By no means stop,' said Jim; 'we can say what we wish to, just as well
while your hoe is going.' He made known their errand in few words, but
no sooner did Bill hear what Jim had to say than he stopped hoeing, and
looked with some surprise, first at one and then at the other of the
boys.

'Yes, certainly, you shall have them; how many bushels do you want?
Haven't you planted any this year?'

Jim then acquainted him with his reasons for wanting them, and the
quantity he wished; stating also the price he could afford to give.

'And the money shall be paid to you when you deliver them.'

'You shall have every potato and bean I have for sale. I supposed I
should be obliged to let Grizzle have them, but he may whistle for them,
for all me; he allowed me last year but ten cents for potatoes, and
fifty cents for beans. He will be angry, probably, but if I can have the
money to pay, I shall not fear him any more than you seemed to the other
day'--looking at Sam.

'No, I don't fear him; and all I wish is that father didn't owe him any
thing.'

'Well, he is a very bad man, and will injure us all, if he can in any
way, when he finds he is to be disappointed in getting things at his own
price. He and Cross work into each other's hands, and they will not, if
they can help it, have any one interfere with them; but I don't well see
how they can.'

William Andrews was not mistaken in his views of the effect these things
would have upon the minds of such men. But it will be time enough to
meet trouble when it comes; at present we must hasten with our boys on
their way to Billy Bloodgood's, much elated with their success, and with
the change which seemed to have taken place in the views and feelings of
young Andrews.

Mr. William Bloodgood--or Billy, as he was generally called--was the
best to do of any of the folks for miles round, that is, he had more
land, and a few more head of cattle, and managed a little better than
his neighbors. But his house was rather a small concern, and his fences
were in all sorts of shape, and his barn had far too many rents in it,
and things lay in all directions around. Still, he did better than his
neighbors, for Billy did not drink, and he kept himself busy, flying
round on his farm, and made out almost always to raise quite a
respectable quantity of one thing and another. He was a very
good-natured man, and was blessed, as many good-natured men are, with a
wife that could take his part, and her own too, sometimes. He had a
peculiar way with him of going from one piece of work to another,
without finishing either. Before his field of corn was half hoed, he
would begin the potato patch, and leaving that unfinished, would be
among the beans; and so on. This habit he carried with him into smaller
matters, to his disadvantage, certainly, and very much to his
discomfort; for his good woman was sorely annoyed by it, and whatever
troubled her, he was sure to be obliged to bear a part of it. They lived
happily however; for although Billy did not practise sound philosophy in
his work, he did in that very delicate matter of conjugal relationship.
He knew it would never answer for both to have their own way, one or the
other must rule sometimes; and as he saw very soon that it would be a
very difficult matter, if not an impossibility to get his better half to
yield, unless she had a mind to it, he very properly decided to give up
the reins to her. He was a wiser man than many took him to be.

As the boys entered the gate, Billy was coming out of the house, having
just finished his dinner; he had a knife in one hand, and a piece of
pigtail in the other, from which cutting a fair allowance, he put it
into his mouth with a manifest relish. Without apparently noticing the
boys who were walking towards him, he made directly to a great pile of
brush which lay in the yard, and commenced chopping. They walked up to
him, and endeavored to catch his eye, but he took no notice of them.
After cutting a few sticks, he threw down the axe, and, looking at Jim,
asked in a very loud voice,

'Did you speak to me?'

Jim shook his head in the negative, and then began to say something
about his errand; he spoke, as he thought, in a pretty loud voice. But
Billy only noticed his negative reply to the question he had put, and
started for another corner of the yard, where lay a heap of farming
utensils, and began dragging forth an old one-horse plough. After
separating it from the rest, he commenced tinkering the rigging; Jim, in
the meantime, trying to catch his eye, long enough to let him know
that, although he had not yet spoken to him, he wished to do so. Twice,
as he raised himself, Jim made a desperate effort, and called out as
loud as he thought necessary,

'Mr. Bloodgood!'

But it availed nothing. He stared at him an instant, and then ran across
to another side of the yard to a little old corn crib; and jumping into
it, began to overhaul a box of old irons, for something probably that
belonged to the plough. In the midst of all his hurry, however, he would
find time every now and then to put his hand into his vest pocket, and
taking out large pinches of snuff, would regale his olfactory sense, and
apparently with great zest. The boys began to feel that it was a
desperate case, and at the same time were so amused, that they could
with difficulty refrain from showing it. In fact, Jim did once or twice
give a kind of whine, just the beginning of a peculiar laugh he had, and
Sam would go off with a very slight sneeze. As Billy appeared to be in
no hurry to come out of the crib, they walked slowly across to where he
was.

'You try him this time, Sam? see if you can make him hear.'

'I can't, Jim, no how. I should burst out laughing in his face.'

'I am afraid, then, we must give it up, for I can't get him to look at
me.'

Mrs. Bloodgood, however, saw their dilemma, and out she came. The boys
hardly knew whether she was for peace or war, for she advanced towards
them with tremendous strides, muttering as she came. Her appearance was
indeed rather dubious, for her hair was flying, and her face was very
red, from the joint exercise of cooking and eating, and helping half a
dozen children. And as to the dress, having great respect for the female
sex we will say nothing about it; it was, moreover, very warm weather,
and a Calamink petticoat was warm enough without the burden of its upper
companion, the short gown--but she was just as she was, and we cannot
help it. She had a little more nose than most women, that is, it was a
very long, sharp, and crooked nose; but the good woman had use for it.
And never were boys more astonished when they saw how well it answered
her turn; it was a veritable speaking-trumpet, and, although the sounds
which issued from it were rather of the nasal order, they were the
better calculated to penetrate the very narrow passages to her husband's
sounding-board. Having been so long accustomed to use a very high pitch
in her communications with the good man, she made no allowance for the
more delicate organs of other people, but so drove the sounds into them
as truly made their ears to tingle, not only at the time, but a great
while after.

'What is it you're wanting?'

Jim started; he could not help it.

'Do you want to speak to Bloodgood?'

'Yes, ma'am; I should like to speak with him about some beans and
potatoes.'

With that she made off to the crib, where she met her good man coming
out with a piece of old iron in his hand, and making for the other side
of the yard where the plough was. He seemed as regardless of her as he
had been of the boys; but as he was stooping over the plough, she put
her hand on his shoulder, and gave such a blast in his ear that his soul
must have stept out of his body not to have heard it; he immediately
raised himself, and, looking at the boys, roared back to her in a strain
scarcely less loud,--

'What do they want?'

'I don't know; something about potatoes and beans.'

'Bees? We 'aint got no bees;' and with that he took one of his
tremendous pinches of snuff.

'Beans, beans! don't you hear _that_?' And then turning to Jim and Sam,
who had walked up beside her--

'He grows wus and wus; and it's my candid belief that it's his snuffin'
and snuffin' all the time so; his ears, I s'pose, is all stopped clean
up; and the only way the sound can git into his head is through his
nose, like; and when he stuffs that full, it's like hollerin' agin' a
log.'

But he did hear _beans_, as she last spoke it.

'Beans? What of 'em?'

'Well, do tell _me_, boys, what you want on 'em, and I'll try to make
him hear, for _you_ never can.'

With that Jim communicated to her his business, and when she understood
it clearly, appeared not a little pleased.

'I didn't know but you'd come from Grizzle's, and I don't like him; he's
a good-for-nothin' old varmint, and he's spilin' all the men and boys in
the place; and I told Bloodgood I'd rather throw the potatoes in the
creek than let him have one on 'em.' So she went to work with a good
will to tell their errand.

'Who sent 'em? Grizzle?'

'No, no; you think there is nobody in the whole creation world to buy
anything but Grizzle.' And then raising her voice to the very loudest--

'Nobody sent 'em; they come o' themselves, and they'll pay you the money
right down when you take 'em the things.'

'Well, well, that will do,'--and he smiled then, for the first time, as
he looked at the boys--'that'll do; you shall have 'em; let me know when
you want 'em.'

And now Mrs. Bloodgood would insist upon their going in, and taking
something to eat. In vain it was they protested that they were not
hungry, having eaten a lunch on their way.

'I know better than that. I know what boys are; they can always eat; so
if you won't go in, don't either on you stir one step till I come out.'

In she ran, and in a moment appeared again with one-half of a large
bread-cake, which she had just taken from the griddle, with a lump of
butter on the top of it, and she with a knife spreading it on; but there
was no occasion for the knife, for the butter was running like snow in
summer, and dripping over the sides of the cake.

'Here, boys, take this;' breaking it in two, and giving each half 'I
_know_ it will taste good.'



CHAPTER VI.


A few evenings after the events recorded in the last chapter, Sam
started from home on his way to meet Jim and Ned. When but a short
distance from his house, to his surprise he met William Andrews; he was
on his way to visit the Montjoys, and designed calling upon Sam that he
might accompany him to their house.

'I am going to see them,' said Sam; 'but they will not be at the house.
Such fine evenings as this we meet at a large rock near by--they will be
as glad to see you as I am.'

The rock was large enough to accommodate the whole of them; but Ned
preferred the grass for his seat; he and Jowler had always some business
of their own to attend to, and very frequently they would both be
rolling together on the ground. The moon was rising beautifully, and a
long streak of light played across the expanse of water at a distance,
dancing on the waves that were formed by the fresh sea-breeze, and,
nearer the shore, where the water lay smooth and unruffled, marking a
line of clear silver light, as from the surface of a mirror.

There is always something peculiarly fascinating in the formation of
youthful friendships--everything seems so fair; the interchange of
confidence is so mutual, so whole-hearted--there is no secret standing
on our guard--no cautious feeling of our way, to see whether we can
safely trust. The heart has not yet been deceived, and therefore yields
implicit confidence. One short hour, in our boyhood's days, will do more
to knit our hearts in bonds strong and true, than months can accomplish,
after the coldness and selfishness of the world have set us on our
guard.

William Andrews had yielded to the impulses of a kind and social
disposition, and thereby had been led sadly astray; but the charm was
now broken, and he turned away with disgust and loathing from his past
habits and companions. He had formed no friendships with those who were
his partners in the idle hour, and the place of temptation. His heart
was yet in its freshness, with a love of the pure and good, more intense
for what he had seen of impiety and evil. His spirit panted for
communion with those on whom it could confide, and longed to pour out
its breathings into the ear of virtue and truth.

And now, under the great oak-tree, seated on the large flat rock, he
confessed all his delinquencies, related the narrative of what he
believed to be a change for life, and its happy influence upon his daily
routine of duties.

'I can work, now, without being wearied; I can go home and meet my
mother without the fear of rebuke; and I can lie down to rest at night
without my head throbbing, or my body burning as in a fever; and when I
awake in the morning, the stupor of deadness I used to feel is gone; I
am happy, and ready for my business.'

Jim and Sam had no such personal experience of their own to tell. Sam
might, indeed, have unfolded scenes of misery in his own past history;
but in his own bosom must now for ever rest all that had been bitter in
his own experience.

But there was no lack of subjects, and the evening was gone before they
had said the one half they had to say; and long before the evening was
spent, they were as intimate, and as much one in their feelings, as
though they, had associated for years.

Sam's heart was full of happiness that night as he walked along the
shore, and saw the water glistening in the moonlight, and heard the soft
sound of the distant waves; and as he beheld the little light that
twinkled in his lowly home, it seemed as bright to him--yea, brighter
than does many an illuminated palace to its princely owner. Dark is the
heart, Sam, that would bring a cloud over your pleasant sky; but such
there are, sitting in council beneath the same pleasant moonlight which
you are enjoying;--well for you that you see them, hear them not.

Had we the power of knowing what is going on at the same time in
different places--could we look into the hearts of the actors in these
various scenes--could we know how very near, sometimes, are the plotters
of mischief and spite to the unconscious, inoffensive objects of their
malice, it would be a cause of misery to us, unless our power was equal
to our knowledge. Happy is it for us, that but one place, and one set of
circumstances, can engross our minds.

Not far from where these happy youths held sweet counsel together,
encouraging each other in the path of manliness and virtue, beneath the
same clear sky and bright shining moon, sat two specimens of humanity,
beneath the shed that ran along the front of Mr. Grizzle's store:--one
of these the owner thereof, and the other a miserable-looking bloated
youth, of about eighteen years of age.

'Do you say, Bill Tice, that they've been round buying up all the
potatoes, and giving twenty-five cents a bushel?'

'Yes, it's fact. Old Sam Cutter told his boys on it, and they told me;
and they said the old man wanted them to go to work and hoe 'em out,
because they were goin' to bring sich a price, and he didn't mean to let
old Grizzle have none on 'em.'

'He did, ha? Ay, ay, well, well.'

'And they'd bought all Billy Bloodgood's, and Bill Andrews', and ever so
many more.'

'They have, eh? and gin' twenty-five cents a bushel, you say? that's a
putty business, Bill.' And Grizzle turned his bleared and spectacled
eyes full upon his companion. 'A putty business, Bill, ain't it? And who
is to have potatoes and sich things to sell in the dead o'winter to poor
folks, who may be ain't raised none? What would your folks have done
last winter in sich a case?'

'Sure enough, we might starve; they wouldn't care.'

'And then if you was jist to help yourself a little,' (giving him a
slight hunch,) 'why they'd be the first to complain on you; and away you
must go another three months in the old cage.

'I hate them Montjoy boys, they always look as if no one was good enough
for 'em; goin' round with their shirt collars on their necks, and shoes
on their feet.'

'And you say Oakum is with 'em, ha?'

'Why yes, Oakum's boy is with 'em, and you know it must be the old man
that does it; the boy aint got nothin'.'

'No, nor the old one neither, when his debts is paid; but I'll see, I'll
see. Folks musn't git in debt to me, and then come out agin' me; that
won't do, Bill Tice.'

'I shouldn't think it would.'

'And you say Oakum is goin' to build a boat for his boy?'

'That's what Dick Cutter tell'd me.'

'To carry away everything we've got here, and make things so high, poor
folks must starve or else work hard, one or the two.'

'They don't care.'

'I tell you what, Bill, you and I know one another; you've done some
little jobs for me, and may be I've done some little things for you.'

'Yes, I know that.'

'Well now, Bill, this business must be stopped by fair means as foul.'

'That boat shan't never be built.'

'Whist, Bill, whist, don't be too fast; time enough yet.'

'What will you do, then?'

'What will I do--jist take the law on Oakum. Don't you see if I tie his
hands the boat can't be built; and the old one they've got now, will
only sink 'em to the bottom of the bay, if they try to take a load in
her. I can make out a bill, I guess, that will keep him tight for three
months at any rate.'

'That's a good idee.'

'Well, what I want of you is, to go some time to-morrow or next day, and
jist ask Dick Tucker to come and see me, and may be I'll give him a job.
You ain't afraid of Dick, now, are you?'

'No, I don't _care_ nothin' for him; I should like just once to turn the
key upon him, and see how he'd like it.'

'He'd rather turn it upon you and me, Bill; but you jist go there and
tell him what I say. But keep mum, Bill.'

'No fear o' me.'

With that the old man patted Bill on the back.

'Come, come in and take something afore you go.' And in they went, and
down went the fiery draught, and away went Bill Tice, a wretched victim
to the hateful cup--a youth in age, but already old in ways of
wickedness. Along the highway he plodded, his hat pulled down over his
eyes, his head bent over, and his look fixed upon the path he was
treading. He heeded not the beautiful moon that was lighting him on his
way--brightly it shone upon him and his home, but only to expose
wretchedness and vice waiting upon each other.

The path of duty is said to be the path of safety. When considered in
reference to all final results, this is doubtless true; but to go
steadily forward in our daily or weekly routine, we must expect to
encounter more or less exposure to danger and disaster.

The little 'craft,' as Peter called the boat in which Jim and Sam made
their voyages, was by no means suitable for the work; and again and
again did the old sailor warn them, that 'they must look out for the
southeasters, and never venture in no sich thing as that.'

It was the only one at present that they could procure, and they must
either run the risk or give up their trade--a thing not to be
contemplated for a moment.

It was early in July; the weather for some days had been oppressively
warm. A dense fog covered the land and the water; and as our boys
started upon their usual trip, they were obliged to lay their course as
they best could, as there was nothing visible beyond a few lengths of
their boat. The water was smooth without a ripple; not a breath of air
could be felt from any direction. Sam's father had endeavored to
dissuade him from venturing on the water at such a time.

'There's no telling what kind of weather we may have when this goes off,
and I'm most sure I heerd it thunder a while ago.'

'I guess it wasn't thunder, father; and you know I can hardly miss my
way in crossing the river; and when we get on the other shore, it will
be easy to make the point; and by the time we get there, the wind will
rise and the fog will go off.'

Sam's reasoning was well enough, but his father was not quite satisfied
that it was best for them to go; however, as he saw their minds were set
upon it, and all their things on board, he made no further objections.

As Sam had said, he was able to make the other shore without much
difficulty; and that once reached, by keeping close to it, the point
was also gained; but when about to turn into the open bay, Sam had some
misgivings as to what was best to be done. The fog still surrounded
them, as dense as ever, the shore could be seen only a few oars' length
from it; and if they could keep within sight, they might proceed with
their voyage, although by following the windings of the shore the
distance would be greatly increased. This, however, would not have
discouraged Sam, if he had not known that there were spots where close
hugging the shore was impossible, as ledges of rocks ran off from it,
which must be avoided. Thinking that he could keep the shore in sight
until these were reached, and then venture out a little to avoid them,
and not willing to turn back, he concluded to try the experiment. Jim
knew nothing of the dangers to which they were exposed in being once out
of sight of land, with no possible guide, in a small open boat, on the
bosom of a bay that opened fair to the ocean. He therefore made no
objections to any of Sam's movements. There was no wind, of course the
sail was not up, and Sam handled the oars. Jim had his usual place at
the helm, at which he had become quite expert.

'Keep her along shore, Jim, and don't lose sight of the land for any
thing. Tell me when you see the large white rock, or the big tree; but I
don't much think you will be able to see _that_ to-day, but keep a sharp
look-out for the rock.' The tree, as Sam expected, was not visible; but
after half an hour's rowing, Jim pointed out the rock to which Sam had
alluded.

'You remember, Jim, that near to this is the first ledge of rocks--turn
her off shore a little--there, that will do; look sharp for the rocks,
for if we lose sight of them and the shore too, we are gone.'

Jim did look sharp; for he perceived, from the anxious countenance of
his companion, that there was some peculiar difficulty to be
apprehended: in a few moments, however, they lost sight of the shore.
This Sam expected; but instead thereof, anticipated making use of the
large rocks, which usually protruded above the ledge or sunken reef, as
his beacon. He exerted his utmost strength in the direction, as he
supposed, they would be found, and the little boat skimmed rapidly
through the water. Not a sign, however, of rock or shore could they
discover; and, to add to their confusion, Sam, by accident, slipped an
oar. Jim sprang to assist him in securing it, his tiller shifted, and
the points of the compass were lost to them; the fog, too, evidently
thickened around them--

'Don't you feel a breeze, Sam? I did just then.'

'Yes, and I think I know where it comes from; you see the fog grows
thicker; it is driving in from the sea, and this wind must be from the
east. Father said this morning he thought we should have the wind from
that quarter--here it comes again, Jim.'

In a few moments a fresh and steady breeze came on; Sam, too, confident
in the direction from which it came, hastened to spread his sail, and
taking the helm into his own hands, put her head, as he supposed, in a
direction that would carry them towards the fort, and at the same time
bring them near the shore. For a while after the breeze sprung up, the
fog was by no means diminished; but at length it began to recede, and as
the circle of their horizon enlarged, anxiously they watched on the
quarter where they were confident the land lay.

'We must be wrong, Sam, or we certainly could see the land by this
time.'

Sam answered not, for other signs than the non-appearance of the land
convinced him that he had mistaken his bearings. The wind had not
increased much since it had at first sprung up, and, in fact, was giving
tokens of ceasing or changing, by its frequent lulls; yet the water was
becoming very rough; in fact, the waves were different from any they had
ever encountered yet, threatening at times to fill their boat;--he
began, indeed, to fear that he had been running out instead of nearing
shore. At length the covering which had so long enveloped them rolled
off, the distant points of land appeared, and their truly critical
position was clearly exposed. Far off, in nearly an opposite direction
to the one they were steering for, loomed up the fort; and the shore,
which they had trusted was near at hand, could just be seen through the
creeping vapors which yet clung to the land rising in patches slowly
into the atmosphere. Before them was the open ocean, and the
southeastern shores of the bay in a proximity to them, which in their
present circumstances was any thing but agreeable.

Sam's first impulse, of course, was to steer directly for the haven they
had started for; this, a moment's reflection upon the state of things
convinced him would be madness.

Several times, while still enveloped in the fog, they had distinctly
heard peals of thunder, which had by no means been a source of
quietude; and now, far over the western sky, had gathered a dark and
threatening mass of vapours, heaps on heaps rolling together, and
spreading to the north, where the blackness of darkness seemed to have
settled. Beneath that heavy mass, at the edge of the horizon, was a long
light streak, showing where in the far distance the storm had already
begun, and the winds lifting it up and bearing it towards them. In the
direction of the storm was the shore they had left; to reach that or the
fort, before it should burst upon them, was utterly impossible, and to
be caught in their frail boat by such a tempest would be certain
destruction. On the south and south-east lay a long line of shore, not
much nearer than that on the west; yet from it, there ran out for a mile
from the land, in a circular direction, a bar of sand; at high tide this
bar was nearly covered, but when the tide was out, some acres of hard
white sand were exposed, and afforded a firm landing-place. Sam knew of
this; and, in fact, he could plainly discern its white surface in the
distance, for the tide had been for some time running out, and was the
main cause why he had, in so short a time, made so long a stretch.

'What shall we do, Sam? It looks black there, don't it?'

'Black enough--we must run away from it.'

At once, Sam tied up the sail as carefully as he could, and stowed it as
near the bottom of the skiff as possible.

'Where will you run, Sam? we are most out to sea now.'

'We must go a little nearer yet, for all that _I_ see;--_quick_, Jim,
take the helm; you see that white streak, don't you, running out from
the shore yonder?'

'Yes.'

'It is a mile nearer to us than any place we can get to; make for
that--it is our only chance.'

Jim did as directed; for, on the water, he yielded implicitly to Sam.
The oars were out, and Sam's utmost strength was tasked; their lives
depended on the fact of his ability to reach that bar before the storm
should overtake them. As they progressed, the waves sensibly increased;
and occasionally, through Jim's inexperience in steering, water enough
would be shipped, not only to wet them thoroughly, but to endanger the
feeble craft.

Sam's eye was steadily fixed upon the rising gust; he heeded not the
waves--death was behind them--if they reached not that landing-place in
time, they must be his prey. Vivid streaks of lightning ran along the
curling edges of the clouds, and heavy-rolling thunder, increasing in
loudness at every clap; far off upon the distant land could be seen
volumes of dust rolling high up in the air; and when the thunder ceased,
the sullen roar of the tempest was distinctly heard.

'How fast it comes, Sam!'

'Keep her straight for that bar, Jim.'

'Do you hear the roaring, Sam?'

'Are we near the bar? Keep her as straight as you can--it's coming
fast.'

Already had the storm reached the water. Sam knew now what they had to
expect; for before it arose a mass of spray like a thick low mist.
Rising on his feet, and throwing himself back with all his force, the
little fellow did all that in him lay to reach the shore.

'Don't let go the helm, Jim.'

And Jim immediately braced himself upon the bottom of the boat, holding
with main strength to the tiller. As the wind struck them, Sam was
obliged to throw himself down in the boat; he could not face its fury.
In an instant, all sights and sounds but that of the storm were lost;
they were at its mercy, or more properly, at the mercy of Him who
directed it. A few moments, their little boat tossed and floated amid
the tumult, and then struck heavily upon the beach.

'Out, Jim! out, and hold on!'

       *       *       *       *       *

The days when the little skiff was expected at the fort began to be
looked forward to with much pleasure by old Peter and his little charge.
Seated on the parapet which surrounded the fort, with a spyglass in his
hand, he would watch a bend of the shore, around which the little boat
could first be seen. Susie would be near him, looking at the play of the
waters among the broken rocks which formed the foundation of the fort,
or listening to marvellous stories of sea life, of which Peter had the
usual supply.

This day they had watched until the storm came, and after it had cleared
away; until giving up all expectation of seeing the boat, Peter had
hobbled into the fort to attend to some little matters, and Susie sought
for amusement in her usual play-ground--the narrow strip of land, about
twenty feet in width, encircling them. It has been mentioned that a
ledge of rocks connected with the main-land, being formed partly by
nature and partly by a deposit of large broken stones--the design
apparently was to have formed a passage to the shore without the aid of
a boat, but for some cause or other it was not carried out. At low
water, one acquainted with the locality might have made his way across
it, from rock to rock, without much difficulty; but when the tide was
in, all communication was cut off. At the rising and falling of the
tide, the water flowed through the narrow passages with great rapidity;
and a very expert swimmer would have needed much muscular strength not
to have been swept away with it. Peter never ventured upon this rough
causeway himself, for two very good reasons: first, because it was no
place for crutches to travel over; and, secondly, considering it unsafe,
he did not wish to set the little girl an example which might lead her
into danger.

Tired, however, with her narrow promenade, when she reached the ledge
spoken of, without any misgivings, she rambled across the rough pavement
of broken stones, until she came to a large rock forming the terminus.
On one side this rock was shelving. Fearless she walked down to the
water's edge: the tide was running swiftly past, and this peculiar
motion of the water being new to her, she laid herself down, and watched
the coursing of the dark current with delight.

When Peter returned, he saw nothing of Susie; and thinking she had gone
to the other side of the fort, was hobbling round to look after her;
when to his surprise, on turning the first angle, he saw the little boat
close at hand, and apparently coming from a very different quarter than
usual.

'Hulloa, my hearties: where do you hail from now?'

'The Horse Shoe,' said Sam, putting his hand to his mouth, and making as
grum a noise as old Peter did.

'The Horse Shoe! What! druv down there in the gale?'

'Got lost in the fog, and made for the sand-bar; when the storm came up,
we had a hard time of it.'

Peter began to chew hard on his cud, and shake his head very violently;
at the same time resting on his crutches, he doubled up his fist, and
held it in a very threatening manner towards Sam.

'The fog--lost in the fog--and didn't you know better than to venture
off shore, with no _pints of compass_, and _no reckoning_ and _no
nothing_ to steer by, in _sich a craft_ as _that_? That ain't fit to
trust a man's life in on a mill pond.'

Sam smiled.

'It aint no laughing matter, my young man, to foller the water; I've
tell'd you _that_, many a time; it ain't like the land, where you can
lay to, and hold on jist as you likes. No, no; them that deals with the
winds and the waves must keep a sharp look-out, and watch their chances;
its nothin' more nor less but a temptin' o' Providence with your
dumb-founded perverseness. But howsomever, I'm glad to see you; so jist
haul up, and I'll call the Major.'

Peter hobbled towards the landing-place, to which Sam urged his boat.
Just as she struck the stairs, a loud scream was heard. Sam sprang from
the boat, and ran with lightning speed across the ledge of broken rocks.
He had seen what those on the dock could not see. The little girl had
caught a view of the boat, and rising to return, had ventured to tread
upon a part of the rock which was covered with sea-weed; her foot had
slipped, and when Sam beheld her, she was hanging just above the water,
clinging to the rock, and screaming in her agony. Almost distracted,
Peter called aloud for help; although he could see nothing, as yet, of
the child. Sam felt that life or death depended upon his exertions; and
none but one accustomed, as he had been, from infancy, to tread with
bare feet the flinty shore, could have made such fearful haste over that
rough pavement. One false step would, in all probability, have cost his
life. He reached the rock--she was still clinging; he grasped at her--it
was too late--and down she plunged into the deep water, and was borne
swiftly along by the current. But Sam was with her; he waited not to
calculate the chances against his own life--in an instant he plunged,
and then arose a cry from the fort, that brought help and dear friends
to witness the heart-rending spectacle; for there could be little doubt
in the minds of all that both must perish. Major Morris, at the first
alarm, rushed to the spot. His distress at seeing the idol of his heart
sinking in the deep water, cannot be described. He flew with one or two
attendants to his own boat, which lay near at hand; and made all the
haste the most intense anxiety could urge, to reach the struggling
children. But Peter was before him, in the little skiff with Jim; the
moment he understood the case, he threw down his crutches, sprang into
the boat, and like a master workman, made her fly through the water.

'Hold on, my darlings, don't be frightened; I'll soon be with you.'

But no answer was returned; Sam had not calculated his own strength, and
had no idea of the desperate energy it would require to sustain himself
with another clinging to him. His arms could afford him no assistance;
the little girl had grasped them with such energy, that the most he
could do, was just to keep her head from beneath the water. Every thing
was done with the greatest speed from the moment their situation was
observed; but it took some little time to reach them. Sam felt his
strength failing, he could not even call for help--intent upon one only
object, he struggled on; and when he could raise his head above water to
speak, he tried to encourage her. But the powers of nature could do no
more, and he felt the water rushing above his head, and was conscious
that all was over with him; when a hand, strong and steady, grasped his
arms, still extended, and bearing up their precious burden.

'She's saved! she's saved!' hallooed Peter, with his loudest voice.
'She's saved! God be praised!--she ain't hurt a bit.' With one hand he
took Susie from her hold on Sam, and raised her into the boat; and with
the other supported him, so that his head was above the water.

'Thank God!' exclaimed Major Morris--'But the _boy_--is he alive?'

'Oh yes,' said Peter; at the same time raising Sam, and laying him down
in the boat.

'No, no, he ain't,' said Jim, throwing himself on the body of Sam. 'He's
dead!--oh dear--he's dead! he's dead!'

'I tell you he ain't--he ain't; he's only swooned like--he ain't dead:
no, no.'

But when Major Morris saw his pale and deathlike countenance, he was in
great alarm.

'To shore, instantly; he has saved my child, but I fear with the loss of
his own life.' And while he hugged the darling of his heart to his
bosom, and thanked God for his mercy, he could not restrain the big
tears as he looked at the pallid features, and felt the cold and clammy
temples of the brave heart that had saved her. Frantic with grief and
joy alternate, Mrs. Morris watched every motion, from the stairs to
which she had flown, at the first summons of the danger of her child.
Receiving her from the arms of the father, crying and kissing her in the
wildness of her joy, surrounded by attendants, she hurried into the
fort; while Major Morris took the lifeless body of Sam in his arms,
followed by Peter and Jim, who was almost beside himself with grief and
terror.

It seemed a long, long time to those who, under the direction of the
surgeon of the garrison, were using means to resuscitate him; and
scarcely less rejoiced was Major Morris when he received his own child
alive in his arms, than when he perceived the signs of returning
consciousness in Sam. At length he awoke as from a troubled dream. With
an expression of deep anxiety he looked upon the circle which surrounded
him. Mrs. Morris was bending over him, parting the wet and tangled locks
from off his pale forehead; beside her stood the Major, holding his
hands, and rejoicing in the warmth which he felt was returning to his
system. Peter stood at the foot of the bed, chewing incessantly a
tremendous quid of tobacco, which he had found leisure to slip into his
mouth even in the midst of all the confusion. He had done great
execution in the way of rubbing; his hands, very unlike his heart, were
rough, and well calculated for such a purpose. He had, however, now
ceased rubbing, and was looking alternately at Sam and at a short,
red-faced personage, the Irish servant woman, who stood at his elbow.
Endowed with all the feelings of her sex and her nation, she continued
to be in great agitation. Her arms were crossed upon her breast, her
eyes turned up to the ceiling, and with her body swinging to and fro,
she was uttering certain groans and exclamations.

'Is the little girl safe?' said Sam, looking full into the face of Major
Morris.

'Yes, my fine fellow, she is safe and well; thanks to you, under a kind
Providence, for it.'

Sam shut his eyes again; he said nothing further; but there was a
tremulous motion on his lips, and about the muscles of his face. Some
cordial was administered, and he was allowed to fall asleep. As he
slept, the powers of nature began to assume their natural energy, a
gentle warmth spread over his frame, the color again glowed on his
cheek, and his whole countenance told the story to those anxious
watchers, that he was doing well. All breathed more freely; the scene so
late full of terror and dismay, was changing, like the black clouds
which bring the thunder storm, into beautiful visions for the eye to
rest upon and enjoy.

When Sam again awoke, Jim alone was with him. He was much refreshed,
and asked whether they had not better return home.

'Whenever you are well enough, we will do so. Every thing is settled
for--I have got your money and mine too.'

'Oh, have you? Well, I have not thought much about money, or any thing
else; I have been in a kind of dream, I believe.'

'Don't you remember any thing that has happened, Sam?'

'Why, I remember seeing that little girl hanging on the rock:--oh Jim,
how I _did_ feel; and I remember running as fast as I could, and just as
I put my hand on her to catch her, off she slipped. I remember _that_,
Jim; and I don't believe I shall ever forget it: and I remember holding
her up out of the water, and trying to call for help; and then, just as
I was giving up and going down, I felt something take hold of me; and
after that, all seems to be confused. I thought they told me she was
saved; and I thought I saw her once looking at me; but I don't know--may
be I only dreamt it.' And Sam looked very anxiously at Jim.

'No, it's no dream, Sam; for she has been here a good while by you, and
when she saw how pale you looked, she cried.'

'Did she?'

'Yes, and they all cried. And you don't know what Mr. Morris says--he
says if it hadn't been for you, she would have been drowned before any
of them could possibly have reached her: and that you have saved her
life.'

Sam could make no reply. The thought that he had saved a life, and the
life of one so beautiful and so much beloved, was too full of happiness,
and it overpowered him. The door now opened slowly, and Peter's shaggy
head made its appearance. He had a bundle under his arm--Sam's clothes,
which had been dried and ironed for him. Seeing Sam sitting up, he
hobbled to the bedside, took both his crutches under one arm, and
throwing the other around Sam, gave him a hug--well meant, no doubt, and
expressive of his kind feelings; but which would have been much more in
keeping had Peter been holding on to a main-top-gallant-mast in a gale
of wind.

Sam was soon arrayed in his old but clean garments. While he was
dressing, Peter stood with his crutches properly adjusted for moving,
his jaws working very rapidly, and his head nodding approvingly at Sam.

'And now, come, my hearty, you're all rigged. The ladies want to see you
in t'other room; come.'

'Oh, no, no, no; I can't do that; I can't go, no how.'

'I tell you what it is, you're a good fellow of your age as ever handled
an oar; but you are too dumbfounded perverse in your own ways. Here is
you been a saving this child, riskin' your own life; and when they want
jist to say to you, "God bless you," and kind o' relieve their own
minds, you up and won't go.'

But Sam persisted; he would jump into the water again if that was
necessary; but as to going into a fine parlor, and being looked at by
fine ladies, it was not to be thought of. Peter was about to make some
violent pleas against Sam's 'perverseness,' as he called it; when seeing
the Major, he suddenly adjusted his crutches, stroked down his queue,
and backed off to another part of the room.

We must now leave Sam to the care of these friends, and see what is
going on beneath the humble roof of his parents; an eventful day it
proved for him and for them.

Bill Tice had done the errand which Mr. Grizzle intrusted to him. A few
days after, the old yellow gig of Mr. Richard Tucker was seen standing
at Mr. Grizzle's door, while the two worthies were sitting together in a
little back room, adjoining the store, with an old greasy account-book
lying on the table beside them, and sundry papers in Mr. Tucker's
handwriting open, and almost ready to be folded up and put into a dirty
pocket-book belonging to said Mr. Tucker; which was also lying there,
and waiting to inclose within its clasp an instrument fully charged with
a power to torture, only surpassed by the wheel, which, in former days,
twisted the joints of the wretched victims from their strong fastenings.

'A larger bill, Mr. Dick, than I thought I could muster up; and now you
make the most of it.'

'Trust me for that; all I want to know is what my principal
requires--that's all.'

And Mr. Tucker knit his bushy brows, and went on tying up, with a dirty
blue string, the papers which had been lying on the table.

After securing them in this manner, he opened his pocket-book, and
deposited them in it; and then, in the same careful manner, thrust the
whole into an inside pocket of his threadbare coat. Mr. Tucker was
about to do a very dirty job, and he was a man well fitted for the duty.
He had a heart, doubtless, that beat and threw the vital current about
his frame, just as other men have; and he had bones, and sinews, and
flesh, and these could suffer pain as other flesh and blood; but to say
that Mr. Tucker had a heart as others have, that would beat in sympathy
with his fellow in distress, or that he could be made to feel shame, or
pain, or sorrow, or regard, in that secret fountain where springs so
much that sweetens or embitters life, would be wrong--wrong to him,
because it would be saying that of him which was not true--wrong to the
mass of mankind, who _have_ feelings that can be touched. Mr. Tucker's
appearance was in keeping with his character--little leaden-colored
eyes, sunk deep in his head, over which scowled dark shaggy brows; a
pale, cadaverous countenance, with no expression that one could lay hold
of in an hour of distress, on which to found a hope that any compassion
might be felt, or any mercy shown. A fit minister was he of that stern
and barbarous code which legalised the torturing of the _poor_
man--which allowed the tearing him away from the charities of home, and
entombing him in the charnel-house of vice, debauchery, and filth.

Some feelings of compunction seemed yet to be lingering in the breast of
Mr. Grizzle; for as Mr. Richard put his hat on his head, and buttoned up
his coat, and fumbled about in the act of departing, he stammered out--

'It's right, you know; I ought to have my own. Folks cannot expect me to
wait always for 'em--pay-day must come.'

'_Right!_ to be sure it's right; and as you say he's running against
you, and setting up his boy and others to hurt your trade--why, muzzle
him, I say--who wouldn't?'

'I suppose it wouldn't be much use taking the timber and stuff that he
is building that boat with?--there is nothing else to take.'

'No use in that; he hasn't done much to it but put the ribs
together--it's of no value as it is. No--shut him up; that's the
way--that will stop boat and all.'

'Well, well; you know the law, Dick, let it work. I shall have to find
him in bread and water--that won't cost much.'

The day was drawing to a close, and the shades of evening were deepened
by a heavy cloud which was rising in the west, and into which the sun
was sinking. A muttering of distant thunder hastened the departure of
Mr. Tucker. He sprang into his crazy old gig, and drove off at a quick
pace to his deed of mischief.

Oakum had worked diligently on his boat all day, and continued his labor
till a later hour than usual, in expectation that the little skiff would
be along, and Sam would accompany him home. He had felt much uneasiness
for the safety of the boys, and was very desirous of witnessing their
return. Darkness was coming on, and a storm threatening; so taking a
long look across the water, and meeting no signs of the boat, with
rather a sad heart he walked towards his home. Their evening meal was
eaten in silence, while, as long as the light permitted any view of
distant objects, the eyes of the parents were directed across the water.
They felt, as they had never before, how dependent they were upon their
boy for his smile and his voice to cheer their hearts.

Scarcely had they finished their supper, when the yellow gig of Mr.
Tucker drove up. Oakum and his wife cast their eyes at the gig, and then
at each other. Instantly she perceived that trouble was at hand; for her
husband grew very pale, and even faltered in his step as he walked to
the door to admit their visitor. Mr. Tucker did not use much formality
in his official visits, and entered without knocking.

'Mr. Oakum, I believe.'

'At your service, sir.'

'Here is an account, sir, I believe against you, lately put into my
hands'--at the same time opening his pocket-book, and taking out one of
the papers which he had so carefully put there but a short time since,
in the little back room of Mr. Grizzle's store. Mr. Oakum took the
paper, and asking Mr. Tucker to be seated, availed himself of the same
privilege--for, to tell the truth, he was completely unnerved. He knew
well what office Mr. Tucker held: he also knew something of the man; and
a strange weakness came over him, so that when he unfolded the paper,
and held it up to the light of the window, his hands trembled so
violently, it was impossible for him to make out the sum that was
charged against him.

'This is from Mr. Grizzle, I suppose, Mr. Tucker?'

'It is, sir.'

'I don't know that I can make out exactly what the amount is; but I
suppose it is right. I owe Mr. Grizzle something, but I thought it
wasn't much.'

'Much or little, sir, you've got it there; it is something over thirty
dollars.'

'Thirty dollars! Ain't there some mistake, Mr. Tucker?' and Mr. Oakum
looked at his wife in amazement. She, poor thing, stood like a statue,
not comprehending the matter, but fearing it was something dreadful.

'I guess there is no mistake, sir. Mr. Grizzle took it from his book,
and he ain't apt to make mistakes; but that is between you and him--it
is no concern of mine.'

'Oh, no, sir; you are not to blame. I know I owe Mr. Grizzle, and I have
thought of it a great deal, and am trying to get a little something
ahead to give him; he shall have all I honestly owe him just as soon as
my hands can earn it. I will call and see Mr. Grizzle to-morrow, and
take him a little.'

Mr. Tucker now arose from his seat, put his hat on his head, and
stepping up to Mr. Oakum--

'All _that_ is well enough, sir; but it don't pay the bill. If you
cannot settle it at once, you will please go along with me'--at the same
time putting his hand on his shoulder.

'I have a warrant to take you, unless you can give me the money, or
goods in the place of it. Shall I read the warrant?'

'There is no occasion for that, sir. I have not got the money, if it was
to save my life; and goods I have none, only what you see here.'

'Well, sir, if you go peaceably, it is well enough; if not, I must read
the warrant, for I have no time to lose--it is getting dark.'

Mr. Oakum arose, but his limbs could scarcely sustain him; big drops of
sweat stood on his pale forehead, and a deadly sickness was at his
heart.

'Oakum, Oakum! tell me what it is. What does this man want?'

'I don't see, Mr. Tucker, what good it is going to do Mr. Grizzle to
shut me up in jail. I can't do no work there. And what are my wife and
children to do? must they starve?'

'_Jail! jail!_ Ah, sir; you ain't going to put my husband in _jail_!
What hurt has he done you, or any body else?'

And she flew to her husband, and putting her arms around his neck, wept
as though her heart had broken. But Mr. Tucker was not to be balked in
the discharge of his official duties by the tears of either man or
woman--some harsh things he said, which aroused the humbled spirits of
this suffering husband and wife. Mrs. Oakum hushed her grief for the
time, in order to quiet the distressed children, who were clinging to
their father, and screaming in their agony when they learned whither he
was going. Mr. Oakum, however, made no resistance to the imperious
demands of the officer; but quieting the feelings of his family as far
as he could, entered the gig with Mr. Tucker, and was driven rapidly
away amid the darkness of the gathering storm.

As soon as Mrs. Oakum was enabled to collect her thoughts, apprehensions
on Sam's account again oppressed her. She took her seat by the window,
and looked in every direction; but the darkness had increased so
rapidly, that objects could be discerned at only a short distance from
the house. Occasionally the vivid lightning would, for an instant, throw
its bright glare across the water, making the prospect distinctly
visible. On one occasion, she thought she saw a small white sail; and
every succeeding flash she watched, until her eyes were nearly blinded
by the dazzling light, but nothing more of it could she discern. A
startling peal of thunder proclaimed that the storm was at hand, and the
rain began to patter in large drops, and then to pour its floods upon
them. Just at that moment the door opened; and Sam, with his cheerful
smile and pleasant words, was in the midst of them. They all flew to
caress him; but missing his father, and seeing the marks of distress in
his mother's countenance--

'Where is father?' he cried, 'is anything wrong--do tell me quick,
mother.'

'Ah, Sam! what shall we do?'

All Sam's bright hopes were dashed at once; he durst ask no further. The
day had been one of severe toil and imminent danger; but he had been
richly rewarded in the approbation of those he esteemed so highly; he
had been caressed by those whose rank in life was among the first in the
land; and he had then about him a jewel of no inconsiderable value,
given to him by Mrs. Morris as a token of her high approbation of his
manly conduct, and of the obligation she should ever feel for the rescue
of her child. All this had raised his spirits; and full of the fond
anticipation of making his parents glad with the tidings of the day, he
had landed with a happy heart, and hurried to his home. But now, alas!
his father has yielded to the tempter, never, perhaps, to be restored,
and all his proud dreams are gone.

'You need not tell me about it, mother. But I must go and try to find
him; he may be somewhere on the road, unable to help himself, and
exposed to this storm.'

His mother looked earnestly at him, as though not clearly comprehending
what he meant; but it soon became evident to her.

'Oh! it is not that, Sam. Your father has been hard at work all day, and
we were only worrying a little about you, as he felt so anxious ever
since the storm we had in the morning--if it hadn't been for that, we
should have been as happy as could be--when, all at once, that
good-for-nothing creature Richard Tucker came in, and said he was sent
by Grizzle; and in spite of all we could say or do, he has took him off
to the jail.'

And she broke out again in a passionate flood of tears. Poor Sam was in
a sad strait; but his heart was not so heavy as when under the
impression that his father had fallen again into his evil habits. He
resolved, however, immediately what course to pursue.

'I am going out, mother. Perhaps I can get him clear; if not, I shall
stay with him till morning. I cannot leave my father alone in that
dreadful place to-night.'

'Oh, Sam! what are you talking about? You cannot go out in such a storm,
and then to stay all night in that awful jail.'

'I don't care for the storm, mother; and the jail won't be worse for me
than it will be for him.'

'Well, Sam, I don't know what to say, my poor head is so bewildered. If
it wasn't for these little ones, I would go with you.'

Sam immediately went to his chest, and taking out all his little store
of money, put it with that which he had brought home that day--in all it
amounted to three dollars. He then took the jewel which had been
presented to him--a handsome broach, in the form of a harp, and set with
stones, worth no small sum in money; but to Sam more valuable than
hoards of gold, and which no money would have purchased from him--and
placed it in the bag with his little treasure, then threw on an old
garment, to protect himself in some measure from the rain, and telling
his mother 'to keep up a good heart,' left the house. He took the road
leading to Mr. Grizzle's store, and forgetting the fatigue of the day,
hurried along as fast as the storm would permit. Mr. Grizzle was sitting
at his counter, resting his feet on an old rickety bench, and humming a
tune by way of company, for the usual visitors of the evening were not
in.

Sam took off his hat as he entered, and walking up to Mr. Grizzle looked
him full in the face, but was too much out of breath to speak.

The old man stopped his tune, and looked quite smilingly at Sam.

'Well, my lad, how do you do this evening? All well at home?'

'Here, Mr. Grizzle, is all the money we have; it is not much--but I
thought may be you would take it; and here is something that is worth a
good deal--you may keep it until we bring you the rest of the money. We
can only get a little at a time, but you shall have it all as fast as we
can raise it.'

'_Money_, boy! Who has said any thing to you about money? I
haven't--have I?'

'Why, sir, I suppose you sent Mr. Tucker to our house?'

'Mr. Tucker! He has been to see you, has he? Well, he is a pretty hard
customer. Why not give him the money?'

'But he has taken my father to jail, sir; and says he must have the
whole of the money--and this is all we have got,' holding up to Mr.
Grizzle his little handful of change. 'Here is three dollars, sir, and I
will soon get you some more, and you may keep _this_ until I bring it,'
taking up also his brooch.

'What, gold, ha! You must be pretty well off at your house--pretty well
off.'

'_Do_, Mr. Grizzle, take this, and let my father go. We will pay you
every cent he owes, just as fast as we can; I promise you, sir, upon my
honor.'

'Oh, you had better go to Mr. Tucker's, he will take the money, I
guess--and that thing too; may be he can find an owner for it. It don't
look as if it had been living among poor folks.'

Sam's heart was beginning to sink; he perceived that Mr. Grizzle was
only mocking him. But he did not quite understand what he meant by
'finding an owner for it.'

'I am the owner of this, Mr. Grizzle.'

'Are you? you look a good deal like it.' And he cast his eye down at
Sam, surveying him from head to foot. This was more than he could bear;
his heart beat quick, his face reddened; he could not then have asked a
favour of that old withered wretch, had it been to save himself or his
family from certain ruin. He put his money and jewel back again into his
pocket, picked up his hat from the bench on which he had laid it, and
turning his back on the store and its owner, hurried away, wishing that
he might never see either again.

The building used for the graceless evil-doers and penniless paupers of
this vicinity was not a very sightly object, and its appearance was in
keeping with its hideous character. It was a square, two-storied
building, without any paint; the clapboards and roof were gray and
mossy; storms and sunshine had played upon it for fifty years; and it
was none the better for its age. In the upper story could be seen one
room, with a small window at the end, with iron bars crossing
sufficiently near together to keep a prisoner from getting through, if
he was somewhat corpulent; but most rogues and poor men, that were not
very stout, could, if so disposed, have found a way out with a little
hard squeezing. But whether any did ever get out in that way I never
learned--perhaps the sight of the iron was enough. The other apartments
of the house had windows open as one could desire; glass may once have
formed some obstruction, to the birds at least; but it had disappeared
'long time ago,' and in that place thereof, shingles, old hats, old
clothes--any thing that would keep out the rain and the cold for the
time being, was substituted. It was inhabited by a family, which, for
want of all those qualities and qualifications that would have fitted
them for any other situation, were content to abide here. Old Adam Tice
had never been able to comprehend the difference between mine and thine.
He was not particularly bad in any other way; but it was generally
thought that his boys would, in time, carry out his principles a little
beyond their parent; and his son Bill, whom we have been introduced to
at Mr. Grizzle's, had, on more than one occasion, enjoyed the occupancy
of the room with the grated window.

As there was but one apartment in this building suited for close
confinement, it sometimes occurred that an unfortunate debtor, who had
no friend to bail him out, so as to allow him the privilege, if such he
should esteem it, of ranging the lot on which the house was built, and
taking up his abode with Mr. Tice, must share the grated room with some
vile character whose deeds against humanity had brought him there; and
such was the case now. Two notorious vagabonds, guilty of flagrant
crimes, the very offscouring of the earth, were there; and nightly they
filled the old jail with noise and riot, as though fiends were holding
their orgies. It made even old Tice shudder, as their horrid oaths rang
through the building in the darkness of the night; and he almost
regretted that he had procured the liquor which had thus given them the
inspiration of demons.

I shall not attempt to describe the feelings of poor Mr. Oakum when he
heard the key turned upon him, and found himself in such company. Some
straw was placed for him at one end of the room, out of the reach of his
fellow-prisoners, who were chained. He tottered towards it, and was glad
to cast himself down upon it. Sorrow will sometimes lull her suffering
children to sleep: oblivion, like a handmaid of charity, steals upon
them and shuts up the senses. Helpless, and almost hopeless, his mind
could no longer bear the thoughts that haunted it, but settled down into
unconsciousness. Occasionally some dreadful oath would rouse him, or the
deep rolling thunder, but only for a moment; when thoughts of home, and
wife, and children, would with lightning speed flash upon his mind, and
then, overpowered with his sad condition, he would again sink into
unconsciousness.

At length he started from his bed of straw, awakened by the spring of
the heavy bolt that was suddenly drawn back. He cast his eager glance
upon the door; a light glimmered through a small square aperture at the
top--the latch was raised--his senses he feared were leaving him; for
there stood Sam, his dear, good child. Mr. Tice threw the light of his
lamp upon that corner of the room, and Sam walked directly to his
father.

'Oh, my dear boy, is that you? is it you, Sam?'

'I thought I would come and stay with you to-night, father.'

'Oh, Sam, I do not mind this for my own sake; I deserve it: my own
foolishness has brought this on to me.'

'Don't talk so, father; you haven't done wrong. I will get you out, yet,
and it will all be better than ever.'

His father could make no reply; his heart was melted, and thoughts
different from any he had ever indulged before began to agitate him. God
had not forsaken him; this child was an angel of mercy, sent to cheer
his gloom and give hope to his heart. New and strange feelings towards
his God arose from within--how good, how forbearing, how full of
compassion. New feelings in regard to himself oppressed him. A great
sinner, both towards God and the dear ones God had given him, could he
be pardoned? He remembered the thief upon the cross; and his whole heart
arose in one strong impulse--'Lord, help me! save me!' It was a simple
prayer--it was only breathed--but it was heard in heaven. And swift as
angels fly, sweet peace came down and stole into his bosom, and there,
amid that gloom and in that dire abode, whispered of pardon, and hope,
and a Friend above.

But where did Sam obtain that strong assurance that all would yet be
well--_better_ than ever? It was no fiction invented to soothe his
father's troubled mind. Sam really felt and truly believed it would be
so. Ever since that dark hour upon the rock by the water-side, when his
companions came to him with their plan of enterprise, had _resolution_,
strong as his love of life, nerved his heart. He had since then tasted
the rich fruits of honest labor; and his eyes were enlightened, and his
hope and courage made strong. His parents and sisters had already been
made happy by his exertions, and his way was enlarging before him. The
present hour was one of severe trial, but his courage was not shaken by
it, and he believed most firmly that it would be with them 'better than
it had ever been.'

It was a beautiful morning when Sam left the jail, and hurried on his
way to carry what comfort he could to his home. He would have avoided
every human being if he could, but just as he was about to pass the road
which ran down to the blacksmith's shop, Mr. Cutter's two boys saw him,
and being social fellows, ran up, and began, in their free-and-easy
boy's style, to question him about what he was doing there that time of
day, and where he had been, and so on. Sam's heart was about as full as
it could hold. They were wild boys, but of a kind nature, and felt a
right good-will towards Sam. They perceived that he was in trouble, for
the tears stood in his eyes when they spoke to him.

'Now, Sam, what's the matter? tell me who's been hurting you. I'll give
it to him--who is it? See if I don't.' And Bill Cutter doubled up his
fists, and put himself in a posture to go right at it. Sam Cutter was a
little softer in his composition than his brother; and while Bill was
putting himself into a great rage with somebody or other, he did not
care who, Sam put his hand on the shoulder of his companion:

'Tell me, Sam, what's the matter.' The storm, which had been so long
pent up, broke forth; this made both boys more solicitous to find out
the cause of his trouble, until Sam was compelled to tell the whole.

No sooner had they heard the story, than, seizing Sam, each by an arm,
they fairly forced him along.

'Come along, right in, Sam Oakum, and tell father all about it.'

And on he had to go, straight through the old shop, into a little back
yard, and then into a little old house. The table was in the middle of
the floor, on which lay the remains of the breakfast which had just been
eaten.

Mrs. Cutter was stooping over the fire, and doing something with a
kettle which hung there; and as they entered, she turned her very large
eyes upon the boys. I say large, because they were naturally very
expansive, and because she wore on the bridge of her nose, right before
them, a pair of nose spectacles; they were large, too, in contrast with
the other features of her countenance, for while these were very round
and full, everything else in sight was very long and sharp; her nose was
long, and her chin was long, and her hands and arms were long; and other
limbs long too, for when she let go the kettle and raised herself up,
she appeared all length--of breadth there was nothing to mention, except
the eyes.

'What upon airth is the matter? what are you doin' with that boy? See,
Cutter, they've been a hurtin' on him--he's a cryin' now--oh the massys!
Let him go, you good-for-_nothins you_, let him _go_.'

'No, we ain't been hurting him, neither--what do you think, father?
they've been putting Sam Oakum's father in the old cage, they have.'

Mr. Cutter was sitting yet at the table; _he_ and his good woman were
the reverse of each other, in more ways than one. He was, as we have
seen, very large and full-bodied. Standing and walking and going about,
seemed to be, each of them, her natural situation; while with him,
standing was not to be thought of if there was any chance for a seat;
and when once at the table he seemed willing there to stay, until Mrs.
Cutter had cleared plates, dishes, and the table itself from before him.
As the boys entered he pushed himself round, and looked in quiet
amazement at them.

'Who is _they_? who's put him in jail?'

'Old Grizzle, father; only think. If I ain't a mind to kill the old
varmint; I'll burn his house down.'

'_Whist, hush, hold your tongue_, you scoundrel; how dare you talk so?'

And the old man, in his energy to do something to show his displeasure
at such threats, caught hold of the pitcher, which yet stood on the
table before him, and thinking not of its contents, elevated it above
his head in a threatening manner at his lawless son. Cider he liked well
enough in its proper place; but a shower of it on his bald head, and in
his eyes, and so on, was another thing. It took him by surprise--he let
the pitcher go, and put his hands to the afflicted parts.

Crockery is brittle stuff; it could not stand every thing, any more than
Mrs. Cutter's temper could. To see the look of horror she cast upon the
dripping head of her husband, and then at the broken pieces of her
pitcher, the very last thing in the house 'her mother gin' her,' as she
often said; with her long arms and bony fingers stretched out in the
air, was rather frightful: The moment the old man could recover himself
sufficiently to realize what he had done, and what he had to expect, he
exclaimed, very significantly,

'Oh dear!' and rose up as hastily as he could, designing to retreat to
his shop, his usual refuge from a storm.

'_Oh dear!_ you may well say so--of _all things_. Well, Cutter, now you
see what you've done. I've told you it would be so; the very last thing
my mother gin' me--slam it right down on the harth--isn't that purty?
you've been breakin' and breakin' all your life; and now you've broke
the pitcher.'

He said not a word in reply, but taking hold of Sam Oakum pulled him
along towards the shop. Finding that her husband was fast retreating
from the sound of her voice, she turned the battery upon her two boys,
who were eyeing the broken crockery with no very equivocal looks,

'And _you_, you villains! comin' and settin' your father crazy with your
lies--_out_ of the house with you, this instant.' And she made a push
for the broomstick. They understood her kind intentions right well,
having had large experience in that way, and did not wait for any
further instructions; but made after their father with all speed.

Once in the shop, the old man felt safe. He had kept fast hold of Sam,
and sitting down on his usual block, held him off at arms-length with
one hand, while with the other, and the aid of an old handkerchief, he
wiped down his bald head, and round, good-natured countenance.

'Oh dear! it was unlucky about that pitcher, I shall never hear the last
on it. Tell me now, Sam, what is all this? It ain't true--is it? that
old varmint ain't put your father in jail, has he? Don't cry now, but
just tell me the whole on it.'

Sam told his story as well as he could, but it was hard work. He could
command his feelings very well, when only thinking about it; but when
compelled to speak his father's name, his lip trembled, and the words
came out with great difficulty. Mr. Cutter had a very tender heart of
his own, and Sam's story and appearance worked upon him more and more;
so that he kept the old handkerchief wiping away long after the cider
shower had dried off.

'And why didn't you come to me, and tell me about it? Ain't I known your
father from a boy, and your mother too--bless her good soul; and do you
think I would have let such doings as these gone on? That old
varmint--is that the way he is goin' to serve folks? Send 'em to jail,
to lay there with them dreadful rapscallions? Oh dear!--jist to think on
it! And you was comin' here to tell me about it this morning; wasn't
you, Sam?'

'No, sir, I was going home.'

'Going _home_? Why, where have you been?'

'I've been with father all night.'

'_You?_ He didn't put you there _too_, did he? the old sinner!'

'Oh no, sir, but I went there to stay with him. I thought father would
feel so bad.'

'You blessed child! Oh dear, what are we comin' to? And you ain't had no
breakfast. Here, boys, go in and ask your mother to give this poor child
a little something.'

'Oh no, sir, I thank you; I can't stay; for mother will feel bad if I
don't go home; and I ain't hungry a bit.'

'Yes, you are hungry--you know you are--only you feel so bad, you can't
eat. But I tell you, don't feel bad; you mustn't. Your father _shan't_
stay there in that hole; I tell you he _shan't_! He shall see that he's
got some friends. We ain't all dead and buried yet, I hope.'

'Oh, Mr. Cutter!' and Sam, as he said this, caught hold of him with both
his hands; 'if you can do any thing to help to get my father out of that
dreadful place, I will thank you all my life for it, and I will pay you
every cent of the money, just as fast as I can earn it.' And he looked
so earnestly into Mr. Cutter's face, and his bright black eyes sparkled
with such an intensity of feeling, that the old man's heart must have
been made of much _sterner_ stuff than it was, not to have felt the
appeal.

'There, go home--go home, Sam; don't say no more.' And he fairly pushed
Sam away from him; and then he kept the old handkerchief going for some
time, not saying a word to either of his boys, who stood looking after
Sam, as he went away, and pitying him from their hearts.

'Now, boys, go and catch the old mare, and hitch her to the cart; and
one of you must drive me to Billy Bloodgood's. Billy must help about
this business, if I can only make him hear any thing; but it's like
raising the dead.'

The boys went off with a good will, and soon had the old nag tackled to
the cart, her harness being of a very simple kind, and easily adjusted.

Mr. Cutter had a way of his own about almost every thing, and it
extended even to his manner of riding. Too bulky to climb very high
places, he chose, generally, the lowest seat he could find; and the tail
of the cart being more easily attained than any other part, and
moreover, being easily resigned in case of accident, whenever Mr. Cutter
rode, _that_ was his place. He would sit pretty well in on the body,
with his legs dangling behind, and one hand on each of the side-boards.
To an observer, it appeared to be a very uneasy situation; for the mare
had a peculiar gait, something between a rack and a pace, which not only
imparted a quick up-and-down motion to the stern of the vehicle, but a
lateral one likewise; so that from the time she started until she
stopped, Mr. Cutter was not only carried onward, but every which way:
there was no quiet for his body. He never complained of it, however, nor
seemed to realize any thing out of the way.

Billy Bloodgood was just going out of his gate when Mr. Cutter drove up.
Knowing that it would be useless trying to hold a parley with him out
there, he told his son to drive close to the door; and taking Mr.
Bloodgood by the arm, pulled him along, determined not to let him go, as
he was well acquainted with his peculiarities. So, holding on with one
hand to the side of the doorway, and with the other to his friend, he
entered into Mrs. Bloodgood's sanctum--her kitchen, parlor, and bedroom.
Puffing and blowing, he seized the first chair he could find, and
bestowed himself upon it.

'Now, woman, do you make this husband of your's sit down, for I want to
talk to him; and he'll be running off if you don't see to him.'

'Why, what's the matter, Uncle Sam? you're all in a heat, and out o'
breath. Ain't nothing happened to home, has there?'

'Happened? Yes, there has something happened--there's always something
or other happening in this world; but that ain't neither here nor there.
I can get along with that. The wind will have its blow out, and then it
will stop, and so must a woman's tongue. But I tell you, make that man
of your's sit down, and do you come and listen to me, and then try to
git it into his head, for it's beyond me to do it.'

Mrs. Bloodgood did as she was bidden; for she had great respect for
Uncle Sam Cutter. She placed a seat close beside him for her husband,
and another for herself, immediately before him.

'Do you know that our neighbor Oakum is in jail?'

'In jail! Oh dear, how you _do_ talk!'

'It is true--I tell you so.'

'Then it's Grizzle--I know it is. First, he's 'ticed him to drink, and
then he's come upon him. Ain't it so, Uncle Sam?'

'Yes; but hear me. Oakum ain't the man he was--don't you know that? He's
a clean changed man. He's to work now every day, and brings home all his
earnings every night to his family, and stays to home, and acts like a
man; and his wife looks like a new critter, and things all round his
house look so you wouldn't hardly know it. And now, jist as they are
beginning to be a little like folks, and have things right end up, that
old varmint takes the law on him, and puts him in the old cage, among
them rapscallions there, jist as if he was a thief or a murderer.'

'Oh dear! jist to think on it.'

'And there's that blessed child of his been through all the rain and
thunder and lightning, and went and stayed there all night, because he
couldn't bear to leave his father alone--jist think of that; and that
poor woman, all stark alone with them little children--jist think of
that. Don't it make your heart ache?'

'Oh dear, dear! what are we comin' to?--jist think of it.'

Mrs. Bloodgood had her own peculiar ways, and was not always very
particular what she said or did, when overcome by the little vexations
of life; but she had a feeling heart, and would cry as hard as she would
scold, if there was any thing calculated in an especial manner to bring
tears; and now they were chasing each other down her cheeks faster than
she could wipe them away.

'I don't wonder you cry about it. I tell you what: when that little
fellow took hold on me this morning, and begged me to help his father,
and looked up at me so pitiful, and said that he would thank me all his
life, and pay every cent of the debt as fast as he could earn it--why I
tell you, Sally, I cried like a child. And now, I tell you what it is;
we mustn't leave that man lying there like a thief. I can't eat, nor
sleep--I can't do it, Sally. I haven't got but little; but Billy must
help--it's thirty dollars. I know it's a great deal for poor folks to
raise, but it must be done, somehow--mustn't it, Sally?'

Mr. Bloodgood had been a silent spectator of the scene--he could not be
said to be a listener. He saw that Mr. Cutter was very much engaged, and
that his wife was quite to the other extremity of her feelings; but what
was to pay he did not know. He kept looking first at one, and then at
the other, for some explanation, taking large pinches of snuff all the
time from a horn box which he held in his hand.

'Any body _dead_?'

Mrs. Bloodgood put her nose close to his ear, and hallooed--'No!'

Mr. Cutter pushed his chair back a little--the unearthly noise startled
him.

'Why! do you have to holler at that rate? I should think you'd split
your throat, or your nose, or something or other. I never heard such a
noise.'

'Oh dear! I tell you, Uncle Sam, he gits wus and wus. I do candidly
believe it's the snuff; he stops every thing up with it. His head ain't
got no more sound to it than the harth stone.'

'Well, I don't know but it's the best thing he can do, if he's got to
have sich noises as them made in it. I should want to stop every thing
up too; and how upon airth you are ever going to tell him what I want, I
don't see. Let me get a little ways off afore you begin; my head sings
now like a dozen teakettles.'

With that the old man pushed his chair off against the opposite wall,
while Mrs. Bloodgood undertook the task of explaining matters to her
husband, and she accomplished it in much less time than could have been
expected. Being nowise friendly to Mr. Grizzle, she handled his name in
a very free way; and as her husband confided in her management, when she
was through with the story, he looked at her very significantly--

'Shall I do it, Sally?'

'Yes, yes; do it--quick.'

So he looked at Mr. Cutter, smiled, and nodded, and then left the room.

'Well, well; all things was made for some use. I often wondered what
your nose was made for, but I see now. But it will be the death of you,
yet; you'll split something or other one of these days.'

'Why, no, Uncle Sam, you see I'm used to it; but it does make me weak at
the stomach like, it takes sich a power of wind to keep it up any time
so; a body can holler pretty loud two or three words, and not mind it.
But I s'pose it's my lot, and I must be content with it.'

Mr. Bloodgood soon returned, making signs to Uncle Sam to draw up to the
table. We must leave them to arrange matters, and carry out their kind
designs as best they may be able.

How beautifully the water sparkled with the bright rays of the morning
sun, and how clean the shore looked, and how fresh every thing appeared,
as Sam drew near to his home; but how very sad his heart was, none but
such as have suffered like him can well imagine. But sad as were his
feelings, it did not hinder his attending to all the duties which
devolved upon him. The net was examined, and the fish for the morning's
meal brought up. The pigs were fed, and the boat looked after, and all
things done as usual. It was a solitary meal, _that breakfast_, and soon
ended. But the best fish were frying by the fire, and on the griddle was
a fine thick bread-cake cooking, and a little basket was brought and
placed on the table, and a clean cloth lay beside the basket; and Sam
had his hat in his hand, and was leaning against the fireplace, watching
his mother, as she went about the little room getting things together.

'May be he'd like a little pickle, mother. You know he eats it sometimes
with his breakfast.' And the mother made no reply; but wiping away the
tears that started as reference was made to him, she went directly to
the cupboard and brought the pot of pickles; and then the fish was taken
from the fire, and placed on a plate and put into the basket; and the
cake was taken from the griddle, and broken in two and laid on the fish;
and the pickle, and a little salt and pepper, and a knife and fork; and
then the clean cloth was put over the whole, and Sam, taking the basket,
walked straight out of the house, and his mother threw herself into the
chair, and wept aloud.

As Sam ascended the little rise of ground behind their dwelling, he
looked across to the house of his friends, Jim and Ned, to see if they
were out--as he then felt a sight of them would be good. There they
were, working away in their garden. Presently one of them stops and
looks round, walks to the fence, jumps over, and is running toward Sam,
with Jowler after him.

'There comes Ned. What shall I say to him?'

'Sam, how are you? ain't this a beautiful morning? What have you got in
your basket? where are you going?'

'Oh, I am going a short distance.'

'If you are not going too far, I'll go with you. I'm tired of hoeing.
Jim has had me up ever since daybreak, and I mean to rest a few minutes.
But what is the matter, Sam? What makes you look so? You ain't well, are
you?'

Sam did look pale, for he was alarmed at Ned's offer to accompany him.

'Oh, I think you had better not go with me: it is something of a walk,
and as you have been at work so long, you will be tired.'

'No; I shan't be tired. But now, Sam Oakum, tell me what's the matter,'
at the same time taking hold of him. 'There is something the matter, I
know--you always tell me every thing.'

'I know I do, Ned; but somehow I do not like to tell you this. Haven't
you heard any thing.'

'_Heard_ any thing? No. Do you think we should not have been down to see
you, if we had known that any thing was the matter? But _do_ tell me,
Sam.'

'Father is in jail.'

'That's Grizzle.'

'Yes.'

Ned stooped and caught up a good-sized stone, and aiming it at another
still larger, sent it with such force that it was shivered into small
fragments. He then looked at Sam a moment, with his hands in his
pockets. He dared not speak, for his heart was aching so hard. It would
have been a great relief to have cried; but Ned never cried--he could do
any thing but that. He felt so much like it now though, as he kept his
eyes on Sam, who looked so sad and pale, that all at once he turned
short round, and walked away towards home; and Sam went on his way
toward the jail.

The two miserable beings who had filled the old jail with their ravings
through most of the night, were now asleep; and as Sam was admitted
again into the miserable room, he cast his eye upon them as they lay in
all their loathsomeness. Never before had he seen human nature in such
an appalling form--their garments filthy, and torn into shreds; their
hair, long and matted, lay over their faces and among the straw which
formed their bed; their faces bloated, bruised, and bloody. He shrunk
back involuntarily. He cast his eye to the further end of the room, and
it met the smile of his father. He hurried past these dreadful objects,
and placed his basket beside his pale and sorrow-stricken parent. Sam
started, when he saw how _very_ pale he looked, and how great a change
his countenance had undergone since he last saw the daylight shine upon
it. He took off the cloth which covered the basket, and upon that he
placed the good breakfast his mother had prepared; and then he saw his
father put his hands together, and that his eyes were closed, and his
lips moved. He had never known him to do so before. Could it be that he
was praying for a blessing, ere he tasted this token of love from
earthly dear ones and heaven's bounteous King? Oh, Sam! how little can
you realize the ordeal that parent has passed since the last setting
sun. But the agony that racked his spirit has purified it also; and it
has turned, 'trembling, hoping,' to its God. When years have passed, and
you shall stand by his dying bed, and walk in the church-yard where
rises the little mound of earth over the resting-place of his body, you
will think of this night, and you will bless God for his goodness to you
and your's.

'It is very good, Sam; and it is very kind in you all to think of me
so.'

'Oh, father, don't say so; it makes me feel so bad.'

'To think how much trouble I have been to my family.'

Sam could stand it no longer, but wept aloud.

'I don't wish to make you feel bad, Sam; but all your kind feelings,
and all your mother's kind feelings, make me think how wrong I have
acted, and wonder how anybody can care for me.'

'But they do care for you--everybody cares for you. Uncle Sam Cutter
says you shan't stay here--_that_ you shan't.'

'Did he say so? Well, I thank him for his kind feelings; and I hope, if
the Lord please, I may get my liberty soon, that I may be able to work
and earn an honest living, and pay my debts. But, Sam, this place ain't
so bad, gloomy as it looks. A bad life and a guilty conscience are
harder things to get along with than this jail. I have spent worse
hours, looking at you and your mother, and the little ones, with a fire
burning in my bosom, than I spent here last night. I never knew before
that there could be such things.'

'What things, father?'

'Why, Sam, that there could be such peace within, when all about me was
so horrible. But I believe God has done it--and all for my good. He does
everything for good.'

Sam was utterly confounded at hearing such words from his father; but he
rejoiced to hear them. He sat as long as he thought consistent with
duties at home, and was preparing to return, when their attention was
arrested by a bustle below stairs, and a loud puffing and blowing of
some one ascending to the room.

'What steps you've got here, Mr. Tice!--so high, I can hardly get my old
carcass up. Oh, dear, dear, dear; what a world this is!'

The heavy bolt was drawn; and as the door, creaking on its hinges,
slowly opened, the portly form of Mr. Samuel Cutter appeared, filling
the open space, and looking with a wild stare into and around the room.

'You can go clean in, Mr. Cutter, an you like to; and I'll shut the
door, and you may stay as long as you like.'

'You will, hey? No, no, Mr. Tice, thank you, I'll do well enough here;'
at the same time putting his hand out, and holding fast to the door.
'None of your shutting up; it's bad enough to look at, without your
turning the old lock on a body. _Of all sights!_--are these men dead?'

'Oh it ain't nothin', Mr. Cutter; only they've been a little lively last
night, and they're a sleepin' it out, I guess, this mornin'.'

'You don't call them human critters, laying there in that shape, Mr.
Tice, do you?'

'Yes, they _be_, only their hair is got tangled a little. I should
a'most think they'd been a fightin', by their looks--they _do_ look bad,
that's a fact.'

More noises were now heard below, and there was the trampling of horses
at the door, and soon a lively treading up the stairs.

'What does this mean, Mr. Tice? the jail door open, and people going in
and out. Are the prisoners gone?' And Mr. Richard Tucker bustled up into
the room. He was followed by Billy Bloodgood, and Uncle Sam Cutter's two
boys. Mr. Richard seeing the doorway barricaded by a pretty large body,
made no apology for hastily pushing through, and fairly taking the old
gentleman quite into the room. He was about to shut the door when his
arm was seized, and held by a grip as effectual as though an iron vice
had embraced it.

'Stop, stop, man; none of your shutting up, with my carcass in such a
den as this. And besides, you came here now to let folks out; so the
sooner you set about it, the better.'

Mr. Richard was full of wrath, but he knew whom he had to deal with; and
seeing likewise that Billy Bloodgood was looking at him very earnestly,
and pointing towards Mr. Oakum at the other end of the room, he had no
alternative; so called aloud in a very quick manner,

'Mr. Oakum, you are at liberty, you are released; you can go.'

Sam jumped up, and caught hold of his father:

'Oh, father! come, come, father, quick!' And he fairly pulled his father
along; who, amazed at the suddenness of his delivery, and weak with the
agitation his mind had endured, almost staggered as he followed Sam to
the door.

'Come along, man, come along; don't stay a minute longer.' And old Mr.
Cutter hobbled out, partly leaning on Mr. Oakum, and partly pulling him
down the stairs, and out of doors.

To describe all Mr. Oakum's feelings, when he found himself at liberty,
and learned that a full settlement of his account had been made, and
that it had dwindled down, under the scrutinizing eye of Billy
Bloodgood, to the sum of twenty dollars, and that he could pay this
amount back at his own convenience; or to describe the joy which danced
in the heart of Sam when he saw his father once out of that place, and
Uncle Sam Cutter shaking him with both hands; and Mr. Bloodgood nodding
his head, and smiling, and running round--it would be vain to attempt.

It was a bright spot in Sam's life, and it was a good day for more
hearts than one; for it was the means of winning into the little circle
of working boys the two sons of old Mr. Cutter: they became diligent
from that day forward, and were constant in aiding their father, either
in the garden, the shop, or the field.



CHAPTER VII.


The establishment of Mr. Cross, up in the barrens, had not much to boast
of as to its architecture or location. It consisted of a long, low
building, formed of logs, but covered with boards, and the roof
shingled. Attached to it were several buildings, constructed entirely of
logs, but well shingled roofs were over the whole of them, and they were
otherwise finished, so as to impress the beholder with the idea that the
owner was in very different circumstances from those who occupied such
buildings for many miles circuit. In front of this main house ran a
piazza, its full length; while upon a tall pine tree, nearly opposite
the centre of the premises, hung a rude sign, with the owner's name, D.
Cross, in large letters on the bottom. The inside of the building
presented a mongrel appearance of store and tavern; a little of both,
and not much of either. There was a counter, and small scales upon it;
with decanters, and a few dirty tumblers at one end. Barrels were
standing in different parts of the room. There were one or two plain
board tables, and a few benches, besides two chairs with backs, and
several without. Three large casks were placed together against one side
of the wall, and the faucets in them clearly told for what purpose they
were used. Behind the counter ran some long shelves, upon which lay
jumbled together a little iron ware, a little crockery, and very limited
assortment of dry goods.

The location was not an unpleasant one for those who admire the
seclusion of a forest; for lofty pines towered on all sides of it,
except to the north, where a clearing having been made, probably when
the house was erected, a thick growth of scrub pines had come forward,
and presented the appearance of a swamp.

There was, however, somewhat of a clear space immediately around the
building, formed by the meeting of three or four roads, running off into
different directions, and pointing out this spot to be, as it really
was, the centre of attraction and influence to all that region.

The owner of this domain, Mr. David Cross, had become, from causes which
have been explained in a previous chapter, a person of some
consideration; he owned quite a number of acres of heavily timbered
land, connectively with his house; and by various means had managed to
bring the whole population, at least for some miles circuit, into a
state of dependence upon himself. He was not gifted by nature with a
very commanding form, being rather under than over the medium height.
This deficiency, however, he did all he could to remedy, by holding
himself very erect; and as he was a little inclined to be fleshy, it
sometimes even appeared that he leaned backwards in his efforts to make
the most of himself.

The only member of Mr. Cross's family in any wise related to him, was
his son David; a young man of some activity in the way of business. But
having been tutored entirely by his father, it may be supposed he had
not the most correct notions in matters of morality; although, as yet,
no very flagrant charges had been laid up against him in the minds of
those who dealt there; for the very good reason, that the elder Mr.
Cross chose to keep things in his own hand, and bear all responsibility.
As to the mother of David, little was known respecting her--it was
supposed she had died when her child was an infant, for he had no
remembrance of her.

David was not unpopular with the inhabitants of the barrens. Being of a
lively turn, and of careless, open manners, they felt a freedom in his
presence, which was quite in contrast with the servile subjection they
ever had to realize when dealing with his father.

As the tavern of Mr. Cross was the only place where the laborers he
employed could find a lodging place during the season of the year when
their services were required--the distance from their own homes being
often too great to allow of return until the close of the week--it was
seldom that the place was without sojourners; and too many of them had
but a scanty allowance for their families, after their six days' toil.

It was a very warm day among the pines; no breeze abroad, and the air
from the heated sand almost suffocating. Mr. Cross was behind his
counter, busily employed in stirring the toddy stick, and waiting upon
those who were calling for their favourite mixture; some were leaning
over the counter, some resting on the benches, and not a few were lying
at full length upon the piazza, and in the shade of the pine, scanty as
it was, which served for the sign-post of the tavern, when the rumbling
of a carriage was heard, and the unusual sound attracted the notice of
all present. Those who were prostrate, arose at once, and looked forth
through the different openings; and those who were in the act of
drinking, suspended operations, and held their glasses on the counter,
casting glances of inquiry at Mr. Cross and at each other.

'It's Dave, I suppose,' said Mr. Cross; 'although I didn't think he'd be
along this hour yet.'

'That aint Dave,' replied one of the men; 'for it comes very slow, and
sounds heavy: I can tell Dave's buggy a mile off, by its rattle.'

Mr. Cross, apparently satisfied that there was truth in the remark,
walked slowly from behind the counter, and approaching the door, those
who were standing there hastily made way, and left the post of
observation to him alone; they collecting in groups on the outside.
Convinced that it was not his son's carriage that approached, the little
man stood with his hands in his pockets, his person straightened up, and
his eye intently fixed on the road upon which the heavy vehicle was
rumbling, and glimpses of which could be seen through occasional small
openings in the pines.

Soon the cleared space before the tavern was gained, and every eye
turned instinctively towards Cross, as though asking an explanation from
his countenance. The ruddy, or rather purple hue which it usually bore,
immediately assumed a higher color; his hands were withdrawn from their
resting-places, his head uncovered, and bustling through the crowd which
surrounded his door, he was bowing, and smiling, and doing his best to
play the agreeable, the moment the superb vehicle drew up before his
sign-post.

The travellers were indeed persons of no small consideration, if an
opinion could be formed from their equipage. The carriage was large and
airy, hanging low and gracefully upon long sweeping springs; of a dark
olive color, which contrasted finely with the light drab linings of the
inside. The horses were two noble blacks, caparisoned in brass mounted
harness, and driven by a negro somewhat advanced in life, and perched
upon a heavy luxurious cushion. He was neatly dressed, in the fashion of
days that were passing away, and was very much absorbed in the
management of his team; which, although covered with lather and dust,
were evidently full of mettle, and not at all fagged by their travel.
Within sat a gentleman and lady, youthful in appearance, with two
children; the eldest not over six years of age.

Mr. Cross did not wait for the footman to alight, but advancing to the
door.

'Mr. Rutherford, your servant, sir,' opened it, and threw down the
steps, before the gentleman had time to inform him that he was not
intending to leave the carriage.

'Your lady will surely want to rest a little; our accommodations,
indeed, are not much to boast of, but poor as they are, we shall be
proud to have you use them.'

The lady bowed to Mr. Cross, acknowledging that she felt obliged for his
offer.

'You must excuse us at present, Mr. Cross; we have some miles farther to
ride, and if you will show the footman where to procure a little water
for our horses, I will be much obliged to you.'

'Certainly, certainly; here, men, water, water; don't you hear? some
water for these horses.' There was a great rush among those standing
near to accomplish the request; but whether to obey Mr. Cross, or to
oblige the traveller, may be questioned; for they had heard his name,
and therefore knew that a man of more importance than Mr. Cross was
present.

But as there were reasons why the last-named gentleman should, if
possible, have an interview with his visitor, he felt that an effort
must be made to obtain one.

'If Mr. Rutherford could favor me by stepping aside, but for a moment,
it will not detain--'

'It would be scarcely worth while, Mr. Cross. I presume I know what you
wish to converse about; and I am not just now prepared to give you an
answer.'

'Ay--well, sir--I won't presume to dictate, sir; only you know we
usually make our contracts about this time, so that we may make some
calculations for hands, etc.'

'That's true, sir; but to be plain, Mr. Cross, I am not sure that I
shall not make some other arrangement, at least, so far as my interest
goes in these barrens. I do not feel satisfied with our present plan--we
pay great wages, you must be aware.'

'Stand back, men, stand back; don't you know civility enough not to be
crowding the gentleman?' Mr. Cross had his own reasons for not wishing
too many listeners; for some ideas might possibly be conveyed to them
not consonant with his interest.

'Our people are rough, as you see, madam,' addressing the lady, 'and
you'll pardon their ill manners.'

'No pardon at all necessary, Mr. Cross; these good people are not the
least in our way.' This the lady said in a voice sufficiently loud to be
heard by all present; and then, with a pleasant smile cast upon the
group, she asked,

'Will one of you be kind enough to bring me a glass of water for my
little girl?'

Not one, but several glasses were, in an instant almost, at the carriage
door. The lady took them all; and as they were returned to the brawny
hands held out to receive them, dropped a piece of silver in each.

'God bless you, lady!' responded at once each of the lucky attendants,
and a smile of pleasure lighted up all the dark countenances of the half
savage-looking beings, who were gazing in wonder at the equipage and its
inmates.

Mr. Cross was compelled to be a silent spectator of this little scene;
but the dark scowl which passed across his features told plainly that it
was not quite agreeable to him.

'Am I in the direct road to Widow Brown's?' inquired Mr. Rutherford,
casting a glance at the little man, and then around upon those present,
as though it was a matter of no consequence from whom he received the
answer. It came readily from many of the bystanders; the voice of Mr.
Cross being lost in their louder exclamations; even if he answered at
all, which is doubtful.

'Yes, sir--yes, sir; its about six miles from here; but you must turn to
the right hand when you get to the edge of the great swamp.'

'Thank you, thank you all; and here is a trifle for you, my friend,'
singling out the one who had procured the water for the horses, and
tossing him a silver dollar.

'God bless you, sir--you're a gentleman.'

'Good day, Mr. Cross.' He bowed respectfully to the host, and to all
the admiring group, and the heavy carriage rolled on its way.

Mr. Cross walked back into his stronghold with a very dissatisfied air,
while the men gathered outside in little knots, discussing the
strangeness of the whole scene, and wondering what ailed the old man,
'he seemed so out of sorts.' Scarcely had the carriage disappeared, when
a rattling was heard, and the rapid and heavy stamping of horses' feet,
and David Cross tore up to the door, among the groups of foresters,
scattering them to either side, with as little consideration as though
they had been so many sheep. Curses deep arose in their hearts, but came
not forth at their lips.

'Here, Jo, you put Bony in the stable, and rub him down--won't you?'

'Yes, sir,' was the ready answer. But the man addressed shook his head
so significantly, and jerked the horse so rudely, as he turned him
round, that if Mr. David, Junior, could have seen it, he would have
understood that his exploit in driving was not much relished by others,
if very agreeable to himself.

The elder Mr. Cross immediately led his son into a private room
adjoining the store, and with much anxiety in his countenance waited for
the result of the errand upon which he had been sent.

'Foster says, he has closed the bargain with old Ross; he is to give you
a quit-claim deed for all his right and title to the property in the
barrens, for the sum you named.'

'That's good--did he say anything further?'

'He said something about my telling you that he was on the look out;
that he would hunt like a cat for a mouse; but the old fool was afraid
to tell me what he meant.'

'Michael Foster is no fool; but, I suppose, he thinks it best to be mum.
Yet do you know Rutherford has been here?'

'No: has he?'

'Yes; and he refuses to make any contract this year; and I could see, by
his management with the men, what he's at: but he'll miss it. He'll have
to stoop his head yet, high as he holds it now.'

David made no reply; but, whistling a lively tune, walked away, and
mingled with the men, who were again gathering around the counter.

The travellers experienced no difficulty in finding their way, and soon
drew up before the humble residence of the widow.

'It looks better, my dear Mary, than I expected,' said Mr. Rutherford,
as he alighted from the carriage. He was about to enter the dwelling,
when Mrs. Brown appeared at the door. She was neatly dressed for one
living in so poor a place--that is, her plain dark calico was put on
with care, and she wore shoes and stockings--articles not often seen in
the barrens. She wore no cap, for her light brown hair was not at all
changed by age, and her countenance was as fresh and fair, almost, as at
twenty-one. She seemed surprised for an instant--

'Have you forgotten me, Aunt Mary?'

'This ain't Mr. George Rutherford?'

'Yes, it is--once your little Georgie.'

'Oh, dear! how glad I am to see you;' and the tears started to her eyes.
'And that is Mrs. Rutherford, and these are your dear little children.
How they _do_ look _just_ as you used to look.'

'We are all well acquainted with you, Mrs. Brown; for my husband is
continually talking about you.'

'Oh, dear! I never thought to see any of you again; for I did not
suppose you would ever get so far out of the world as to come here. I
cannot ask you to go into my poor house; but there are some seats under
the trees, where your lady might sit down, and--'

'Oh, Mrs. Brown, you don't think that your Georgie, as you used to call
him, has got a wife who would not go into a house many times worse than
yours, to see one he thinks so much of; so, with your leave, we will all
go in, for we have come on purpose to see you.'

'I am very happy, if he has got a lady who knows his worth.'

'Take care, Mrs. Brown, what you say; I am afraid you did a little
towards spoiling him when a boy: he is not out of danger yet.'

The family now passed into the cottage, while the widow and old Cæsar
had a few kind salutations to make, 'ere she followed and took her seat
among them.

Many were the questions asked about the old homestead, for twelve years
had passed by since she was last there. Deaths, births, marriages,
changes of circumstances, and relations, how they had accumulated during
that period! and how often the tears would start, and the lip tremble,
as the recital went on! Her own story was but a short one; for many
things she was obliged to pass over, or touch lightly upon.

'But where is the little girl you had with you, when last at my
father's? she must be almost grown up now.'

'Oh, no; she is but a little girl still; she is only sixteen now; but
she is very obedient and kind-hearted.'

'Just like her mother.'

'Oh, I don't know as to that, ma'am; but she is an obedient child, and a
great comfort to me--and the best of all is, I hope she is a Christian.'

'That is good,' exclaimed Mr. and Mrs. Rutherford, at the same time.

'Ah--then you both love good things yourselves; don't you?'

'We hope we do.'

'The Lord be praised for his mercies. It seems to me always a great
thing for the rich to be pious--they can do so much good.'

'Yes, if they have a heart to do good. Is your daughter at home, Mrs.
Brown?'

'No, ma'am; but she will be here soon. She has gone to visit a neighbour
a little south of us, among the farmers. We have but a poor
neighbourhood around us; and you know young people want some one of
their own age to be with and talk to.'

'Why is it, Mrs. Brown, that the people in the barrens are so poor, and
apparently so degraded?--they get work enough, and are well paid for it.
My husband is very anxious about the matter, and wishes to remedy it if
he can.'

'Oh, well, ma'am; I don't know that I have got the right idea of things;
but it has appeared to me these many years that there must be wrong
management. Our men work hard, but are only able barely to live, as you
see; and for so many people to be all poor together, is a great evil.'

'Do you think, Mrs. Brown, that they get their pay?'

'I think they do, ma'am, in a certain way. Mr. Cross settles with them
every month, and keeps things square; but you know, ma'am, when a man
gets so much power into his hands as Mr. Cross has, he may be tempted to
do wrong because no one can bring him to account for it. The men are
obliged to take the wages he sees fit to allow them, as there is no one
in this region to give them employment.'

'And charges them what he pleases for the goods they must purchase?'

'It is pretty much so, ma'am. They must have the necessaries of life you
know, ma'am; and although they purchase only such things as their
families absolutely need, yet it is so managed, that they are brought a
little in debt at each settlement. Some think that he charges almost
double what the goods cost him; but, situated as they are, no one dares
complain, and so they go on from year to year.'

'This is slavery I think, Mary, with a vengeance,' said Mr. Rutherford,
looking at his wife.

'It is just as we expected, my dear.'

'Well, I hope, Mr. Rutherford, that I have not done injustice to Mr.
Cross. He has been good to me and mine. Perhaps, after all, the people
think hard of him without sufficient cause.'

'You have only confirmed my suspicions of the state of things here. You
know that I own a large part of these barrens; and, therefore, it is my
duty to look into matters, and not suffer evils to exist, if I can
remedy them.'

Mr. Rutherford then proceeded to touch upon matters more immediately
relating to the widow's personal interests, and which, in fact, had been
one of the objects of his visit. It was in reference to her removal from
this region, so destitute of privileges, to her former home, beneath his
own roof, where her children could be usefully employed, and herself
made comfortable.

It was some time before she could make any reply to this generous offer.

'You must not hesitate, Mrs. Brown, to accept this offer; for I assure
you, that I heartily join with my husband in it.'

'Oh, I thank you, ma'am; I believe you are sincere, and are acting from
the kindest motives, and perhaps you will think it strange that I should
hesitate a moment about accepting it.'

Just then, the conversation was interrupted by the entrance of Hettie.
Her appearance surprised Mr. and Mrs. Rutherford--the fine glow on her
cheek, the raven blackness of her hair and eyes, the pleasant smile that
immediately lighted up her countenance, the simple curtsey that she
dropped, all so pretty and so natural--they had not expected to meet so
lovely a flower in such a waste; and the widow must not be blamed if she
indulged some little pride as she presented her to their friend. Hettie
was her bright star; hope always rose when she appeared. An increasing
interest was excited in the minds of Mr. and Mrs. Rutherford, and the
subject of her removal again introduced.

'You cannot tell,' replied the widow, 'how much I feel the kindness of
your offer; and were only the interest of myself and Hettie to be
consulted, I should not long hesitate. But, oh! Mrs. Rutherford, you
cannot yet tell how a mother feels towards a wayward son. William is not
just what I could wish he was, but he still clings to me. I know he will
not be willing to leave these parts, unpromising as they are: for me to
separate from him, and allow him to go without restraint in the midst of
so many temptations, would be like giving him up to ruin; and I cannot
but hope he will one day be different from what he now is; the Lord, you
know, has many ways to bring back the wanderer.'

Her friends could urge no further the whole of their request, but
ventured to say--

'Will you not, Mrs. Brown, let us have Hettie? We will do for her as
well as we can.'

This proposal was one that she felt it her duty to accept, however
trying to be separated from one she loved so dearly.

After a short consultation with her daughter it was decided that she
should accompany them. Wishing to give them an opportunity to make some
little preparation, Mr. Rutherford concluded to drive into the open
country, which lay a little to the south of the widow's cottage--the
scene where our story commenced.

It was with an united exclamation that they first met the view which
opened to them, as they emerged from the pines.

'Ah, how beautiful!'

It was, indeed, a striking contrast to the region through which they had
been travelling.

The country was little varied by hill and dale, and in no wise improved
by the hand of man: for the houses which could be seen were but
unsightly buildings, and all the enclosures of the rudest kind; yet
common-place as was the face of the land, in connection with the
extensive water view, there was much to justify the exclamation--it was
a panorama delightful to those who had been so long riding amid the dark
monotony of a pine-forest.

On either side of the strip of country which lay immediately before
them, and around the whole view in front, was water: first a clear river
stealing down on the right, and then another on the left, each
hastening to mingle their waters in the beautiful bay, ere they rolled
to the ocean; in the distance, a long line of land stretching towards
the east, as far as the eye could reach, encircling an immense bay, and
losing itself where sky, and earth, and water are mingled in one; while
beautifully breaking the wild expanse of water, a strip of land ran out
into the bay, over whose crest could be seen, in the distance, the white
sail winging its way to the broad ocean.

Even old Cæsar felt the animating influence of the scenery; and urging
on his horses by a cheering word, the carriage rolled along as fast as
was becoming such a stately concern.

'Whoa-a, whoa-up--whoa there.'

'Oh, Cæsar! what's the matter?'

There was, at the same time, a fearful leaning to one side.

'Nuttin', missus; only de wheel cum off.'

It was, to be sure, nothing else; but that of itself was sufficient to
prevent any farther progress for the time being. Cæsar and his master
were soon down; the horses detached from the carriage, and the wheel
picked up and brought to its place.

''Tis all right, Massa George, only de linch-pin is gone; may be me find
um.'

And very diligent was the search for the lost pin, but to no purpose;
the prospect, indeed, was not the most agreeable; for a long road must
be retraced ere home could be reached.

A young man from an adjoining field, seeing their dilemma, hastened to
offer his aid. Very soon rails were procured, and by means of them the
heavy coach was raised, and the recusant wheel replaced; and then the
young man who showed much readiness to assist, as well as ingenuity,
procuring a bit of hard wood, began whittling it into the shape of a
pin.

'Mister, what a' yo goin' to do wid dat 'tick?'

'I'm making a pin for you, daddy.'

'My golly! you no t'ink dat hold dem big wheel on. No blacksmith nowhere
here?'

'Yes; there is one not far off; but you want something to keep your
wheel on until you can get the carriage there.'

'Why me no bring him here when he makes de pin?'

'Why, you see, daddy, he will want the measure of the hole to make it
by; and the old man does not like to walk very much, as he is fat and
clumsy. It will be as much as we can do to get him to make the pin at
all; he don't like to work such hot weather.'

'Ay, ay. Well, den; you right, bubby.'

With that Cæsar prepared to attach the horses to the carriage, while the
family walked on towards the little low building with a high chimney,
which was pointed out to them.

As the carriage drove up, a very fleshy person was seen waddling towards
the door, and putting one arm out on each side, supported himself in the
doorway. He looked at the coach, and the horses, and the driver,
alternately, in great astonishment. He saw the old black smile, but took
no notice of it; and fixed his eye at length on the long sweeping
braces, as though wondering where such powerful springs were made.

'Massa Cutter forget me.' The old man cast his eye up.

'Massa Cutter no 'member Cæsar?'

'Cæsar--Cæsar--what, not Cæsar Rutherford? No--yes--so it is--why, you
old rascal, how do you do? Give us your fist. I thought, when you showed
your teeth at me, that I'd seen you before. But you grow old, man--your
head is all getting white.'

'Ha, ha, ha; Massa Cutter growin' old, too, and big! My! what a sight!
Good livin' I 'tink here, Massa Cutter.'

'Good living--there's no living at all--it's too hot to live; nothing
but salamanders could stand it. But what's brought you here?'

'Oh, you see, Massa Cutter, me lose de linch-pin; so dis young gemman
tell me de blacksmith close by; but I no 'spect to see Massa Cutter--ha,
ha, ha!'

'And you want me to make a new one, do you?'

'If you please.'

'Here, Bill Andrews, since you have been so helpful to these folks, and
helped them here, you may just come and help me; so take hold of them
'tarnal old bellows, and blow for your life.'

'That I will, Uncle Sam.'

The old man, although reluctant to move about much, made expeditious
work with his hammer; the pin was soon made and fitted to its place, and
the carriage ready for another start. Before this, however, Mr.
Rutherford had reached the shop, having left Mrs. Rutherford and the
children to enjoy a fine shade at a little distance. As Mr. Cutter had
been acquainted with his father, it afforded the former an opportunity
of making many inquiries about events long transpired, some of which,
being connected with Mr. Cutter's removal to his present house,
occasioned, on his part, very long and heavy sighs, and serious shakes
of the head. At length he could hold in no longer.

'Oh, dear, oh, dear! it makes me feel bad all over to hear you talk
about them places and things;--to think what an old fool I've been to
come to such a place as this.'

'It does not look like a very thriving place, Mr. Cutter.'

'Thriving! there's nothing thrives here but rum and deviltry.
_Thriving!_--I tell you what, the _old 'un_ thrives here, no one else,
and a great haul he'll have--he's fixing for it. No schools, no
meetin'-houses, and no nothing that's good;--the men most all drunk and
lazy, and the boys going to the d----l, if I must say so, asking your
pardon, as fast as they can.'

'This is a poor account of your place, Mr. Cutter. What do you suppose
has caused such a state of things?'

'It is beyond me to say, sir; there seems to be a kind of curse on the
place; and it is my candid opinion, if something ain't done here
soon--some preaching, or something else of that sort--we're a gone
case;--even a dumb Quaker would be better than nothing. He might walk
round in his square coat, and frighten the old 'un a little.'

Mr. Rutherford could not restrain a smile at the earnestness of the old
man, and the singularity of his idea.

'From your description, Mr. Cutter, you are not much better off here
than our people in the barrens.'

'Not much to boast on, I tell you, sir. Only they can't raise nothing,
and must depend upon old Cross for work to buy their bread with, and he
charges them just what he pleases; and if they should grumble, or ask
for their money to spend elsewhere, he would turn them off entirely, and
then they might live on huckle berries and pine knots.'

'They are badly off, I believe, sir; but I hope to be able to make some
change in things there. The people are, no doubt, imposed upon, and I
shall not allow it to be so if I can help it.'

'Bless your young heart for saying so; but you must look out for Cross;
he's a precious villain--I _tell_ you.'

'I believe he is no better than he should be; but I shall try to manage
it, so as not to injure the poor folks, at any rate.'

'Well, I'm glad on it, for there are some clever people among them.
There's the widow Brown; why you must know her? she used to live in your
father's family.'

'Oh, yes, I know her well, Mr. Cutter; and part of my errand down was to
see her. Her daughter, I hope, will go home with me to live.'

'What! Hettie! Hettie ain't going away--and yet she ought to go out of
such a hole as this. She is too pretty and too good to be round here.
What's the matter, Bill? Where's the use of keeping the old bellows
creaking, when there's no iron in the fire?'

'Oh, I didn't think. You are done, ain't you?'

'Yes, I hope so. I've pounded myself all in a heat. But what makes you
look so pale, man?'

'Oh, nothing; I ain't pale, am I?'

'Yes, you are pale--go sit down, man.'

'No; I thank you, Uncle Sam. I believe I will go home now, if I can be
of no more use to the gentleman.'

Mr. Rutherford, seeing him about to depart, stepped up, and cordially
thanked him for his kind and efficient services; and taking out his
purse, was about to remunerate him handsomely for his trouble.

'Oh, no, sir, nothing; I thank you.'

'But it has taken your time, and you have been of great service to me;
allow me to make you some compensation--thanks from a stranger are not
worth much.'

'They are worth a good deal to _me_, sir, since I have found out who you
are.'

'Why, what do you know of me?'

'My father removed from your place, sir; and I have often heard him
speak of your folks, how kind they were to him; perhaps you may remember
him, Zechariah Andrews?'

'Remember him? certainly I do; and are you his son? Well, this is
strange indeed:' at the same time taking Bill's hand and giving it a
hearty shake. Many inquiries were made and answered; and the interview
closed by an invitation on the part of Mr. Rutherford, that whenever he
might need a friend he would call upon him.

'And now, Mr. Cutter, good by,' giving the old man his hand; 'I hope you
may live to see things look brighter than they now do.

'I hope so, sir; but I tell you there is but little chance of it. The
old fellow has danced here so long, it will be hard getting him off the
ground--preachin' might do it. But I want to say one thing to you--look
out for Cross; he ain't too good in my opinion for any thing--he's a
dangerous man, depend on it. But I won't keep you waiting. God bless
you, and keep you out of harm's way.'



CHAPTER VIII.


I suppose my readers are about tired with following our heroes on their
little voyages; but as this is to be the last they will make in the old
skiff, and as it is connected with some interesting circumstances
regarding our friend Sam, we must go with them once again.

It was but a short period after the scene of trial through which Sam and
his family were called to pass. A pleasant sail they had made to the
fort that morning; their stock of goods had been disposed of, their
empty baskets stowed away, and they were just on the point of casting
off for their return, when Peter appeared, coming through the gate of
the castle. As soon as he passed the sentinel, he hobbled along towards
them as fast as crutches would let him.

'Hulloa; 'vast, there, my hearties.'

The boys readily stopped, and waited his approach.

'Here, you Sam, jist come here, follow me.'

Sam was utterly at a loss as to what was to pay now; but as Peter turned
short about, and was making his way back again, as though he expected of
course his summons to be obeyed, Sam had no alternative but to jump
ashore and hasten after him, and he had much ado to get up with the old
man before he entered the gate. Peter hobbled along through the hall at
the entrance, then turned to the right, and, by a narrow door, entered a
dark passage, saying nothing all the while, only turning his head back
occasionally to see that Sam was following; then up a broad stairs, into
a long gallery studded with doors. Into one of these Peter entered, and,
waiting until Sam passed in, shut it.

'Now, my hearty, see what I've got for you. Take off them old duds o'
your'n, jist as fast as you can.' Sam being somewhat in amaze, was
looking at the queer little room, with the hammock hung up at one side
of it, wondering how Peter ever contrived to stow himself away in it; in
the meantime Peter was busy untying a large bundle, and taking out
sundry articles.

'Here, you sonny, jist put these on, and see how they'll fit;' holding
up at the same time a pair of blue broadcloth pantaloons. 'But what are
you about? why don't you doff your jacket and trousers? You ain't a goin
to put these on over, are you?'

'Oh, no, sir: but you don't mean to have me put on such fine things as
these?'

'And why not? didn't my lady git 'em 'spressly for you? and didn't she
take me along with her, purpose to pick out a true sailor's rig? So off
with the old riggin', it's stood long enough.'

'Did _she_ get them? Oh, she is very good. I am sure I don't deserve--'

'_Don't deserve!_ Yes, you do _deserve_; so down with your dumbfounded
perverseness, for once, and do as you are bid.'

Sam was indeed confounded, but he could not do otherwise than put them
on. A better fit could not have been, and the suit was complete
throughout. Blue roundabout, and trousers to match, of good broadcloth,
finer than anything Sam had ever felt of before. Suspenders of blue and
white, all finely figured; blue check shirt, with a large flowing
collar, around the edge of which and down the bosom ran an ornament of
white. Vest there was none, as Peter said 'it was of no mortal use.'

Never was a father prouder of a son, than was Peter, when the whole rig
was on. He turned Sam round to all points of the compass; examined him,
as he said, ''fore and aft.' The shoes were the only articles Peter did
not fancy.

'Pumps is the only things fit to go on a sailor's foot, but my lady
reasoned me out of it. They're good taut under-strappers, no doubt, and
they'll do you a deal of service; but they spoil the looks, and there
ain't no shuffle in 'em. But howsomever, perhaps as you're along shore
now, they'll do you a good turn. But, do you hear? never put your foot
on a ship's deck in such clumpers as them.'

'Oh dear! how good they are to me.'

'Good? to be sure they're good. But mind, my hearty, _there's One
above_'--and Peter pointed his finger upward, as he said this--'who has
made the wind shift round for you so fair and square; mind _that_, and
don't think it's all luck that's made such big folks kind to you. You're
but a youngster now, and can't be 'spected to understand how all these
things are brought about; but an old sailor like me, that has sailed in
all weathers, has seen things that will make a man feel that there is
_One_ at the helm can steer for him when he can't do nothing for
himself.'

Sam looked at the old man with fixed attention, and drank in every word,
his eyes sparkling with the deep emotion they aroused within him. He
thought Peter no longer a poor maimed sailor, but some being from a
better world, who had put on for a time a rough and forbidding garb.

'And now, my hearty, see here.' And Peter began to pull out sundry other
articles of dress.

'That there rig you've got on ain't for storms, nor everyday sarvice; a
man wants something tight and tidy for Sundays, and sich like--but
here's your real stuff to brave all weathers in. This will stand you for
rough and tumble and all sorts of work. These trousers is the regular
duck; jist feel 'em, Sam. They're stiff like, I know, but you'll soon
make 'em limber; and this here jacket is the jinivine blue nanking;
there's no tear about it that I'll warrant you.'

Sam had given up in amazement at the multitude of good things showered
upon him. He knew not whether to laugh or cry--he did a little of
both--it was so good, so far above any thing he had been thinking of;
the feeling which came over him, and which we all, in our youthful days,
have experienced when clad in a new suit, was so _very new_ to him, that
he was oppressed by it; and as Peter held up the duck trousers and the
blue nankeen coat, he proceeded to unrobe himself, thinking he was
required to try them on too.

'Now, what is the lad about?--Hands off; let alone. Ain't you going
right down to show my lady what a spanking fit it is? So we'll jist
bundle these up with the old duds, and you'll take 'em along--you hear?
and let 'em lay in the boat till you git home.'

Sam would have made some objections, if he dared; but Peter took things
in his own hands, and seemed to feel that, for once, at least, he must
be minded: so rolling the whole together, and tying them in a very
knowing manner,

'Now come along, my hearty,' he stumped it out of the room, and through
the gallery, and down the stairs, and laying the bundle in the hall,
crossed to the apartment where Sam had formerly been introduced to the
presence of Mrs. Morris; and before he had time to reflect or make
opposition, Peter was knocking at the door.

A very pleasant smile and exclamation of delight, on the part of Mrs.
Morris, greeted Sam as he entered.

'Why, Peter!--who would have thought they could have fitted so well; and
how very apropos they look. A sailor boy, he is now--is he not, Peter?'

'All but the shoes, please you, madam.' And Peter, not having his hat
on, touched his queue.

'Oh, well; I think master Sam will be much pleased with the shoes,
especially as he is on shore now. But let him come here--give me the
neckerchief, Susie.'

Susie walked to the table, and brought the little parcel and placed it
in her mother's hand.

'Here is a present from Susie; she has hemmed it herself, and I suppose
ought to honor you by tying it on; but as she is a little bashful about
it, I must do it for her.'

Sam was too much confounded to make any opposition; but his flushed
countenance told how he felt.

'I suppose I cannot put it on after true sailor fashion, but I believe
it must have a single tie, and hang loose, in this style. Will that do,
Peter?'

'That's the thing, madam.'

'What shall I ever do for you, ma'am, you are so good to me?'

'Oh, perhaps you will do a great deal for us yet; and you know, my dear
boy, that we are under obligations to you we cannot soon get rid of.'

'I am sure, ma'am'--and Sam looked intently at Mrs. Morris, his whole
countenance beaming with honest emotion--'I don't know what I have done
that you should say so. If you mean my trying to save Miss Susan, why I
am sure, ma'am, if I had not done it, I wouldn't be fit to live. I would
do it again, if I knew I should die for it; I am sure I would, and so
would any one.'

Mrs. Morris could not repress the starting tear, nor could she make an
immediate reply. Sam's whole demeanor took her by surprise--she did not
expect such a burst of genuine gallantry.

'God bless you, my good fellow! you have a noble heart, and will make a
proud station for yourself, yet; but keep in mind, that _the path to
honor lies through difficulties and dangers_.'

As she said this, her hand was smoothing down the dark curls which lay,
in all their natural carelessness, around Sam's fine forehead.

'But, Peter, only think! we have forgotten the hat--what a pity!'

Peter made no reply, otherwise than by handling his queue, and rolling
his quid from one side of his mouth to the other.

'How could you let me forget it, Peter?'

'Oh, ma'am, don't think of it; you have given me too many things
already.'

'Please, my lady, he'll do well enough, for all that. If my lady has no
further orders, I must go.'

'Nothing further, Peter.'

Sam made the best bow he could, both to Mrs. Morris and to Susie; and
Susie ventured, for the first time, as Sam made his obeisance to her, to
say, very gently indeed, 'Good by.' It was not much beyond a whisper,
but Sam heard it. Whenever the scene in that room came up before
him--and it kept presenting itself very often--he loved to dwell on that
part of it. Susie would be before him with her pretty smile, and those
words, so soft, 'Good by,' would ring and ring in his ears.

To say that Jim was astonished at the change in Sam's appearance, as he
came from the fort and took his station in the boat, would describe but
a very little of what Jim really did feel. He was amazed--he was
pleased--no, he was delighted. He loved Sam like a brother; and when he
heard from Sam's own lips what had been done for him,

'They are the best people, Sam, I ever knew. But what will they say at
home? I wonder what Ned will do? You must take care, or he will pull you
down in the dirt. Clothes _do_ make some difference, don't they?'

'Stop, my hearties.'

The boys looked back.

'Just come ashore here,' beckoning to Sam. 'You see my lady forgot about
the hat, but, thinks I, there's a chance for me now; so I stops in
slyly, and rummaging the old wallet, found enough stowage there to get
this little shiner: so try it on, sonny, try it on.'

'But you shouldn't do so: I am--'

'No you ain't; so try it on.' And suiting the action to the word, he
displaced Sam's little old tarred hat, and mounted a new one, all
glistening with its bright polish.

'That's the rig, now; it don't sit quite ship-shape as it ought, but it
will work to the head, and it will keep the rain out, I'll warrant
_that_. But I can't stop here, for the Major's boots must be cleaned; so
a good passage to you, my hearties.'

With that he bore away for the fort in quick time, paying no kind of
heed to all Sam said about thanks.

'I tell you, Sam Oakum, I should not know you if I met you in the road.
Nobody will know you; Ned won't know you, see if he does.'

'I don't hardly know myself, Jim, I feel so queer.'

The wonder which Sam's appearance excited on their return was full as
great as Jim had anticipated. On reaching the shore, Ned and Jowler
stood ready to receive them. Ned stepped up to Jim, who had jumped
ashore, and was carrying the little stone anchor out as far as the rope
would reach, and whispered,

'Who's that? Where's Sam?' Then Sam walked deliberately from the stern,
and jumped ashore. Jowler set up a bark at him, and Ned fixed his eye
upon him in some doubt until Sam smiled. He then commenced a retrograde
movement, increasing the distance between him and Sam, and going round
and round him, eyeing him from head to foot; while Jowler kept by his
side, barking as he followed Ned round the circle. Ned knew _Sam_; he
was _sure_ he did, and so did _Jowler_, as soon as Sam spoke to him, and
began to sneeze and wriggle himself about, and to manifest great shame
that he had made such a mistake. Ned was too much surprised this time;
it sobered him. He knew it was _Sam_, his old playmate; but _such_ a
change! How had it come about? He felt a kind of diffidence in
approaching him; he almost wished for the old patched clothes and the
little flat hat; but that feeling was only momentary, a flash through
the mind. The neat trim of the clothes, the improved appearance of Sam's
whole exterior, really delighted him; and instead of flying off into
some extravagances, he took Sam's hand, and shaking it with all his
might,

'Did Major Morris give you this suit, Sam?'

'No, it was the lady.'

'She _is_ a lady. I should think you would love her, Sam, very much.
Ain't they nice, though, Jim? Just look at this shirt collar and the
bosom, and this handkerchief round his neck, and the hat and shoes. Oh,
Sam, I am so glad you need not wear the old clothes any more;--_do_,
won't you come and let mother see you and Ellen, just to see what they
will say.'

'But he will want to go home, first, Ned, and show himself there.'

'I will come up this evening, right after supper.'

And again they separated for their different homes, and Sam hastened,
with his bundle under his arm, hardly able to keep from a run, he was so
anxious to see how they would feel.

They were at supper as Sam entered. His mother dropped her knife and
fork and jumped up from the table; her hands were raised, and her whole
countenance expressive of the most pleasant surprise.

'Why, Sam! where _did_ you get these from? Oh, how nice! do father, look
at him.'

Mr. Oakum had pushed his chair, and a smile passed over his
weather-beaten countenance as he looked at Sam; and his heart blessed
God for him. He was pleased, indeed, and almost proud to perceive what a
fine-looking boy he was, but he knew his worth as few could know it. He
could not speak, but he felt of the clothes and smiled, and then wiped
the tears that would come in spite of every effort to keep them back. He
felt that there was something more than good luck in all this. Sam was
already reaping the fruits of the promise, 'Thy days shall be long in
the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.'



CHAPTER IX.


How swiftly pass the beautiful months of summer; its flowers and its
fruits come and go in succession, and must be enjoyed in their season,
or not at all.

To our boys it seemed to have flown more rapidly than ever; the constant
occupation of every day and almost every working hour, caused the days
and weeks to pass away imperceptibly and pleasantly.

And now, the long wished-for period has arrived, when the great contract
with Major Morris is to be fulfilled. The boat is ready, and will carry
quite a load. The farmers are busy digging, and each is anxious to
deliver his quota as soon as possible. It was well for Jim that he
stipulated in the bargain to receive them only as he wanted them. Jim's
thinking habits were of great service to him.

A new hand must be obtained to assist in navigating their little vessel;
her size, the quantity of freight, and the season of the year, all
demanded it. Sam Oakum felt that this devolved upon him, but Jim
insisted upon it that they would unitedly pay for the extra help.

'I shall not allow that, Jim, no how. You give me now one-third of all
we make, and you do all the business. So you see I am going this very
night to speak to Sam Cutter; he will be a good fellow to row with me,
and you can steer, and I shall pay Sam out of my own money.'

He was as good as his word, and found Sam Cutter ready enough to go with
him; so a bargain was soon made, and as Mr. Cutter's potatoes were the
first engaged, twenty-five bushels of the lot were carted early in the
morning, and put on board. Jim was there ready to receive them, and as
soon as delivered, counted out the money.

'There, William, is six dollars and twenty-five cents. It is all in
quarters, but it is just as good. Give that to your father, and when I
take the next load I will pay for that in the same way. Twenty-five
bushels, at twenty-five cents a bushel, make just six dollars and
twenty-five cents, don't it?'

Jim said this because William Cutter seemed to be in a maze, as though
not exactly comprehending the matter.

'Oh yes, it's all right, no doubt; but I say, Jim Montjoy, where did you
get all this money from? I tell you what, I mean to work, see if I
don't, if it brings in money at this rate.'

'Why, we have had some pretty hard pulls for it, have we not, Sam?--or
rather you have.'

'Yes, we both have, but no matter for that; it makes the money all the
sweeter. You see now, William, how this thing works--your brother and
yourself have been busily engaged all summer, cultivating your potatoes
and other things; now you have dug them and received your money, that
pays you for your work; we now carry them off to a distance, where they
are wanted more than they are here, and sell them for enough to pay us
for our risk, and labor, and expense of freight. If you had not labored
and raised them, we should not have them to carry away, and make a
profit on; on the other hand, if we could not find a market for them
abroad, you would not have received half the value for them you now get;
so you see how your plough and hoe, and our boat, help one another.'

'And your _head_, you ought to have added, Jim; for my boat and his
potatoes would not have been worth much, without that head of yours.'

William Cutter was no great philosopher, and perhaps did not clearly
comprehend the drift of Jim's argument; but he felt the silver pieces in
his hand, and realized that it was a larger sum than had ever been there
before; and he was satisfied, that in some way it had been obtained by
the enterprise and labor of Jim and Sam and as he walked along towards
home he said to himself a great many times,

'If working will do it, I'll work, see if I don't; there will be more
potatoes and beans to sell another year, see if there ain't.'

The new boat proved her value on her first trip; she was not a fast
sailer, but she rode the waves well, and would bear a stiff breeze. How
rejoiced was Sam, as he sat at the helm, to witness the beautiful manner
in which she would meet the swell, and bound over it like a bird of the
water.

Old Peter had also much to say in her praise.

'He did not 'spect to see such a ship-shape craft; she ain't made to run
fast, but she'll bear the wind, and she'll ride the waves, and that's
what you want, my hearties. But what's her name?'

'Oh! we have not given her a name yet, we haven't thought about that!'

'Never thought about that? but you must think about it; what is a boat
without a name? but I s'pose it ain't worth while to do no such thing on
this craft o' your'n, seeing she is launched, and in sailing trim; but I
tell you what, if you ain't given her a name, I'll do it; you must call
her Susie, do you hear?'

'Would you?'

'Yes would I; and where can you get a prettier name, or one that will
bring you better luck than that?'

'Well, if you say so; it's a pretty name, ain't it, Jim?'

Old Peter was determined to see that his favorite name was fastened to
the boat; and in a manner that could not have been expected from him,
printed it, in very legible characters, on the inside of her stern.

'Now, good luck to her! and don't you, boy, ever leave her while there's
a plank to stand on; hear that?'

'Yes, sir; I shall not leave her for a trifle.'

The potatoes and beans proved very satisfactory to Major Morris. Jim
received his money for each load, and was thus enabled to carry out his
plan of paying for them. No sooner was a quantity brought down to him,
measured and put into the boat, than he was ready with the pay; it was
counted out to them in good silver money. Many wondered where it came
from, and made up their minds that Mr. Montjoy had left his family quite
a property, for all that was said about his dying poor.

No time was lost by Jim in completing the contract; every day that would
answer was seized upon to carry a load. He neither counted profits, nor
indulged in the least recreation, until the whole matter was settled.

A full month passed, using their utmost diligence, before they took on
board the last load, and had the satisfaction of delivering it safely,
and receiving from Major Morris, not only the full balance due, but an
expression of his perfect satisfaction with the whole affair. One
hundred dollars Jim and Ned could now call their own, for although Ned
said that it ought to belong to Jim, he would hear of no such thing;
Ned, he said, had worked as hard as either of them, and sometimes
harder.

'Well, Jim, what would all the working have amounted to without those
thoughts of yours? and only to think how I laughed at you.'

'We won't mind that now, Ned; but if you won't laugh, I will tell you
what I have been thinking about again.'

'Do tell, Jim? I will never ridicule any of your thoughts after this.'

It happened that the boys were sitting on their favorite rock, enjoying
the calm decline of one of autumn's loveliest days.

'Come, Jim, I promise you I won't laugh.'

'Why, to tell you the truth, Ned, I have been thinking whether there was
no way that we might be supplied with such things as we need from a
store, without going to Grizzle's; I am tired of it, for my part.'

'There is no use of thinking about that, Jim, or talking about it
either; we have had that over long enough; we cannot help ourselves, and
there's the end of it.'

'I don't know that; I think we might help ourselves.'

'How, Jim? Come, let me hear.'

'Do you remember, Ned, I once told you about a boat I saw at the fort,
which had come from a distance with stores for the garrison? there were
large square chests of tea, just as they came from China, and barrels of
molasses and sugar, and casks of rice, and a great variety of things,
enough to have completely filled Mr. Grizzle's store.'

'Yes; I remember you told us about it, when you came home. But what of
it, Jim? What good will they do us?'

'I do not expect that those particular articles will benefit us,
especially, but I have thought a great deal about the matter since then;
and now, what I was going to propose is, to put your money with mine,
and let me lay it out in tea, and molasses, and sugar and some other
things.'

'Why, Jim, now you _are_ crazy. Why, when should we ever eat up a
hundred dollars' worth of such things?'

'But you are too fast, Ned; you don't wait to hear what I have to say. I
intended, when we had procured these things, to let the neighbors know
of it, and when they wanted, we could sell to them for a small profit. I
know many would prefer buying of us rather than of Grizzle.'

'Why, Jim!' and Ned jumped down from the rock, and placing himself
immediately before his brother, looked up at him with great earnestness.

'You mean that we should set up a little store--don't you, Jim?'

'Yes, it would be something like that.'

'And then, perhaps, after a while we should have a great many things,
and a great many people would come to buy of us; I know they would, for
they all like you so much.'

'I don't know about that, Ned; but I think we could sell things cheaper
than they have been accustomed to buy them, and, if so, they will
surely come; and if we can take such little things from them as we have
sold at the fort, and give them a fair price--'

'Oh, Jim, only think of it--hurra, hurra!'

'Do, Ned, stop; you will frighten all the folks.'

'What is to pay now, Ned?'

'Oh, Sam, is that you? hurra, Sam.'

'What ails him, Jim?'

'Oh, he has got into one of his tantrums again.'

'I tell you what, Sam Oakum, you don't know what Jim has been thinking
about this time; it beats his _old_ thinking, I tell you.'

'Why, what is it, Ned? Come, tell.'

'Oh, Sam, Jim is going to set up a store, and do all manner of things.'

Jim and Sam could stand no more; so they broke out into a hearty fit of
laughter. Sam, supposing it to be a joke, took no farther notice of the
matter.

'You make me laugh, Ned, whether I will or no; but I don't feel much
like laughing just now.'

'Why, what's the matter, Sam?' said both boys at once.

'There has nothing happened to me; but I have just been talking with
Bill Andrews--he feels pretty bad. Bill is in trouble.'

'There, Jim; I told you so. Don't you remember the day your boat was put
into the water, Sam? I saw then that something was the matter with
Bill.'

'I hope he has not taken to any of his old ways.'

'Oh, no, Jim; I don't think Bill will ever take to them again. But you
know Bill's mother?'

'She has not turned him away, has she?'

'No, Ned, not exactly; but I am afraid he will go away.'

'Oh, Sam! don't say so, for Bill is such a clever fellow.'

'I know he is'--and Sam's eyes began to glisten, and his lip to
tremble--'he is a real clever fellow; and to think how well he has
behaved, and how different he is from what he once was. I should not
think his mother could do so.'

'Has she been scolding him, Sam?'

'Pretty much so, Ned. You know how Bill used to let things go--almost
any how--he says he did. Bill is sorry for all that; he is very sorry--I
know he is. But I tell you what I believe, boys, that when we have done
wrong, even if we are sorry for it, and try to do better, something or
other comes up after a while to make us smart for it; perhaps we did
not feel sorry enough, or may be it is to make us sorry all our lives; I
suppose we ought to be. Well, as I was saying, Bill used to be much at
Grizzle's, and Grizzle let him run in debt as much as he pleased.'

'I tell you what, Sam Oakum, I would not go in debt for any thing. I had
rather live on raw clams and sea-weed.'

'So would I, Ned. But, as I was saying, Grizzle knew well enough that
Bill's mother had land. He knew he should get his pay.'

'But don't you remember, Sam, when you and I went there last summer to
engage potatoes, Bill said he only owed Grizzle a trifle?'

'I know he did, Jim, and so he thought, but Bill has been careless. He
has taken potatoes there every year, as he thought, enough to square his
account; but he never saw how it was, nor had any settlement made, and
it has run on until lately; and when Bill asked him, for the first time,
for his account--what do you think? Grizzle up's with a bill of more
than eighty dollars.'

'Eighty dollars!'

'Yes, Jim, eighty dollars and upwards. Bill said when he saw it, he felt
as if he should drop down.'

'Did he pay any of it? I would not have paid one cent of it until it had
been pretty well examined. You remember your father's account?'

'Bill says he was confounded by it, and so afraid that his mother should
hear any thing about it--for you know she is such a queer woman--that he
paid Grizzle all the money that he received from you--thirty dollars.'

'Oh, what a pity!'

'Well, you see, Jim, Bill was so afraid his mother would know it he said
it would make her about crazy.'

'Yes; but for all that, he ought to have told his mother.'

'I suppose he ought; but she soon knew it. For what did Grizzle do, but
send Dick Tucker there; and he has taken the cattle, and other things,
to pay the bill.'

'Oh, Sam, I am sorry for Bill. I wonder what his mother did say?'

'Bill says she called him every thing she could think of; and then she
cried and hallooed so loud, that he had to go for the Widow Brown to
come and pacify her. But he says he can stay at home no longer; so he is
going across the barrens to see a Mr. Rutherford, who promised to be a
friend to him; and he says he never means to come back, until he gets
money enough to pay that account; and he is coming here to bid you good
bye.'

'Sam Oakum, this is too bad. I have been thinking how Bill might be a
great help to us, and himself too.'

'It is no use; he is done for--his cattle are gone, and so there is an
end of it. But don't say any thing to Bill about this, nor let him see
that you feel bad towards him.'

'We don't feel bad towards him. Why, Sam Oakum, we like Bill Andrews
almost as well as we do you; but there he comes.'

Bill never appeared to better advantage than he did that evening: his
countenance was naturally one of those bright and playful ones, over
which there could always be seen some streaks of sunshine. He had really
been through a severe trial; and had not his principles been well
established, he might have been driven by desperation to his old habits;
but his resolution against those evil ways was strong. And although
Hettie had been for some time absent, yet her advice was before him,
lifting his mind to better things, and creating a true disgust for what
was low and corrupting. His look was sad, but not cast down. He gave his
hand to the boys, and shook theirs with great cordiality. His eye indeed
glistened, and his lip quivered; but these were only tokens of the pain
it gave him to part from friends whom he loved so well. Few words were
spoken. Ned had an abhorrence for tears. He therefore turned suddenly
away, and began throwing stones very violently at some invisible object.
Jim and Sam were not made of such stern material; and I do not suppose
it ought to be set down against them, that, as soon as Bill's back was
fairly turned, and on his way, they had between them quite a time of it.

On the morrow, just as the sun was beginning to pour forth a flood of
glorious light, Bill shut the little gate that led from his mother's
door-yard, and turning round as he did so, gave a smile through the
tears which were flowing to his mother and sister, who stood wringing
their hands and weeping aloud, on the little stoop that projected from
their front door. He smiled, to let them see that he had no unkindness
in his heart; and his tears were witness that he was on no errand of
pleasure. Yet he lingered not, but, brushing away the tears, and putting
his bundle closer under his arm, walked with a firm step straight on his
way. The sky was clear and blue, except where the beautiful sun-light
was expanding in the east, and imparting a rich golden tint. The earth
was whitened with the autumnal frost, and crisped under his footsteps,
and the thick leaves rustled as he brushed along and disturbed their
repose. His course was directed towards the Widow Brown's, where he must
stop and say 'Good-bye,' and perhaps get a message to Hettie, whom he
expected to meet before the day was over.

He walked briskly on; the sun had not yet penetrated the thick pines,
and the cold air of the night still floated undisturbed as he entered
the barrens. A lively fire was crackling on the widow's hearth, and at a
plain, but clean-looking table, sat Mrs. Brown and her son. Coarse but
wholesome was the fare spread out upon it; and both arose as William
entered, urging him to sit down and partake with them; having had but a
little appetite when he left his home, the keen air and the walk had
prepared him to enjoy refreshment. Their meal ended, a little parcel
taken for Hettie, a warm shake of the hand, and God's blessing implored
upon him, and he was off.

This going to seek one's fortune is no trifling matter; the battle of
life, where each is striving for his own particular benefit, and cares
not who sinks so long as he himself securely floats, demands all the
vital strength; and little else must claim our care or notice, save the
great struggle.

Bill was yet a stranger to life, only as it glided along in the quiet
seclusion, and that seclusion not the best adapted to bring forth man's
noblest efforts; beyond a bare support, and perhaps sometimes a thought
of sharing his humble portion with her who had been a sort of guardian
angel to him, his wishes had not hitherto aspired. No wonder, then, if
trifles had a power to disturb him, which, to those immersed in scenes
of busy life, would be but as an insect's buzz--a gentle brush, and it
is gone. William Brown had left the cottage with him, and pleasant had
been their chat together for a few miles; when about to separate, he
merely said,

'Well, I wish you good luck; and if you see Hettie, please say to her
that Dave Cross will be along by Rutherford's next week, and that he
will stop and bring any word home that she wishes to send; but I guess,
between you and me, it is only an excuse to have a chat with Hettie.'

Immediately after parting, Bill crossed the old bridge by the mill, and
went on his way; but something had disturbed the inner man, for, as he
ascended the hill, he paused where two roads met, one leading to Mr.
Rutherford's, the other to the nearest town. A large stone lay at the
point where they met: he threw his little bundle down, with an air that
might mean, perhaps it did,

'I don't care what becomes of you or me either;' and then took a seat on
the stone, leaned his chin on the head of his hickory staff, and looked
at the grass and the stones and the old fence, and occasionally at a
stray bird, as though there was something wrong about them. He waited a
good long hour, in thinking, and hesitating, and vexing himself, and
then trying to make the best of it; and finally picked up his bundle and
started off, not in the direction of the town, but straight towards Mr.
Rutherford's. It was late in the afternoon before he accomplished his
journey, and found himself entering the gate which opened into the
extensive grounds surrounding, as it was commonly called, the Rutherford
House. He had never seen any thing like it before, and a more pleasant
or home-looking place was seldom to be met with. There was a beautiful
green lawn, with a long broad gravel road extending to the house; and
there were large trees, spreading their long and drooping branches,
scattered thickly over the lawn and lining the road, and the house was
nestled beneath the shelter of some of the very largest and most
graceful of the trees. It made no pretensions to architectural beauty,
but it was large and well built; and the multitude of outhouses, and
extensive range of barns and sheds, all in good order, spoke of room for
man and beast, and of comfort too. Bill thought nothing of all this, his
heart was full of misgivings as to how he should be received; to him it
was all fine, too fine for the like of him; and he looked at some of the
outbuildings, as he passed along, to see if there was any place he could
feel at home in, for the night.

George Rutherford, the inheritor of this lovely spot, had of earthly
goods a bounteous store; but he had, also, what many an inheritor of
earthly substance does not possess, a noble heart, large in its embrace
of his fellow-man in all conditions, ever going out in its kindly
feelings towards some object of benevolence; humble in every thought
connected with himself, and with devoted zeal seeking to aid, to
comfort, and to gratify the most menial of his dependents, and the most
degraded and sorrow-stricken of his neighbours, far or near. Although
rich blessings crowned his days, and sweet was the cup of life he
quaffed, he felt most truly that no desert of his had earned them. Gifts
of mercy he called them all; abounding gifts--too good, but as the
tokens of Infinite Benevolence to the most unworthy.

He wanted, with all this, something of that shrewdness so essential to
the getting or preserving property; this world so teems with those who
covet all their eyes behold, who ask no counsel from the law of heaven
or the code of earthly justice, so long as forms of law will screen them
in their sly grasping after acres and goods, that a man needs, with all
the piety of a saint, something of the serpent's cunning. It is not
enough that he covets no man's silver or gold, that he wrongs no man of
his due, that he extends his hand to the helpless, that he be ever ready
to lift to his own level those who are struggling below him: he must
take care for himself. Riches are fleeting substances, with wings ever
ready for flight; he who enjoys the blessings they can bring, must give
all diligence to 'see well to his flocks and herds; for riches are not
for ever'; nor do they descend to many generations. Mr. Rutherford had
already experienced some trials in this way; his confidence had been too
strong, his sensibility for others' feelings too acute, and there was
great danger that he might yet be a heavy sufferer, because he did not
learn wisdom, as he might, from some of the trials he had already passed
through.

Whatever doubts may have disturbed Bill's mind as he was walking up the
broad avenue, they were all dissipated the moment he was recognized by
Mr. Rutherford. He grasped his hand with the cordiality of a friend,
took him at once into the house, and into the presence of his lovely
wife.

'You remember, my dear, the young man who so kindly assisted us at the
time of the accident to our carriage.'

'Indeed I do,' said Mrs. Rutherford, rising and bidding him a hearty
welcome.

Bill was put at once at ease; he never before could have supposed, that
persons who lived so very differently from what he had been accustomed
to, could be so affable; they seemed to him to feel and act as if he was
as good as any of them; asked him as many questions as old Sam Cutter
would have done, and seemed as pleased with all the little news he
communicated, as though he had been a city resident, loaded with tidings
from the gay and stirring world. The little children, too, in all their
sprightliness and beauty--those speaking images of the parent's
heart--came fondling round him; his plain rough garments were unheeded
by them, and he was soon as familiar with the little prattlers as though
they had been the children of his nearest neighbor.

But where was Hettie? Bill wondered much why she was not among the first
to come and greet him. He did not ask; he heard her name spoken by the
little ones, and his heart would beat and his breath grow short, and
once he thought he heard her light step in the passage; and then sad
thoughts would come and sink his spirits, so buoyant from his kind
reception. But Bill had yet to learn some lessons in the school of life.

Mr. Rutherford soon invited him to walk abroad, thus affording an
opportunity to unburthen his mind, for he evidently had come for some
express object. With much patience Mr. R. listened to his whole story,
making no reply whatever until the budget was empty, nor, indeed, until
some time after. Poor William thought that he had come to little
purpose, and was anything than a welcome visitor. Mr. Rutherford,
however, was only thinking in what way he could best serve the young
man. He might indeed have taken him into his own family, and given him
such employment as he had been accustomed to; but he thought he could
perceive talents fitting him for a different sphere of life.

'How would you like to go to the city, and try your hand in a store?'

'I don't care where I go, sir, nor what the employment; if I can only
have a chance to take care of myself honestly.'

'It will be very different from anything you have been accustomed to;
the work may not be any harder, but it will be very constant, and
without much chance for relaxation, merchants think that business is a
substitute for everything else.'

But William was not to be daunted by any prospect of toil; and Mr.
Rutherford, after telling him all he knew of the routine of business,
proposed to give him a letter to a friend of his in an extensive
business.

'He will do all that can be done to procure you a situation, and then
you must do the rest yourself; but remember, William, that the most
strict attention to everything you are called to do, an unflinching
integrity, and a determined perseverance, will be requisite to gain
success; and unless you have made up your mind to exert every energy,
you had better return and engage yourself with whatever you can best at
home.'

William's fine countenance was animated with an expression that told how
his heart was touched.

'So far, sir, as any exertions, day or night, to make myself useful and
acceptable will do it, I fear not; and I hope my friends will never have
to regret any efforts in my favor. A sense of gratitude, if nothing
else, I trust will keep me watchful over myself.'

'Well, William, I will write this evening; I hope you will succeed, and
I think you will.'

As they entered the house on their return, Hettie was just coming into
the hall. Her appearance seemed to be accidental; perhaps it was. She
blushed deeply, smiled a very little, and gave her hand to William in
rather a timid manner. He was prepared to accost her warmly, but the
peculiarity of her address chilled him; he felt a restraint he could not
overcome, and his greeting was much like her own. She asked after her
mother's health, thanked him for his trouble in bringing the little
parcel for her, and then withdrew, leaving him to follow Mr. Rutherford,
who was waiting at the parlor door to receive him.

William was tired enough that night to have slept soundly, but his
thoughts would not be quiet; so he hailed the dawn with delight, and was
ready immediately after breakfast to go on his way. Mr. Rutherford took
him into a small room adjoining the parlor, and handing him the letter,

'There, William, I hope you will find this sufficient, and here is a
trifle for you in case of need; if ever you become a rich man, you can
return it: let me hear from you how you succeed.' So saying, he placed a
little roll of bills in his hand, and bidding him God-speed, at once
opened the door, apparently wishing to avoid the shower of thanks which
he saw beaming from the eye of the young man.

'Oh, sir, I never shall forget your kindness, and I hope I may yet prove
it to you.'

Mr. Rutherford made no reply; he was not indifferent to gratitude, but
he did not care to be thanked personally. It was reward enough for him
that he had made a fellow creature happy, and done what he could to give
a helping hand to one just venturing on the deep waters. Long may that
heart enjoy such draughts of pure happiness; and when, in years to
come, you meet reverse of fortune, if such shall be thy fate, these
stores, laid by in heaven's chancery, will be a refuge at your utmost
need; and little deeds of love like this, long, long forgotten, will
come like heavenly messengers, and with interest accumulated beyond the
miser's compound gain. In the dark hour when clouds, blacker than the
tempest's murky robe, shroud all the prospects of your earthly comfort,
when hope of all deliverance that man may bring has gone, and your
sickened heart turns away from earth, then shall you know that good
deeds are not lost, even here below; and what your generous heart,
inspired from above, devised to aid, to comfort, and to bless your
fellows, has been a hidden treasure reserved against the time of deepest
need.

William went joyfully on his way, he had unrolled his little treasure,
and counted fifty dollars. How his heart blessed the noble man; what a
spring of love and hope burst forth from it, sending a quickening
influence through all his frame; how elastic his step; what a cheerful
light sparkles from his eye. The prospect before him is no longer dark.

Immediately after passing the house, the road wound gradually around the
premises; on one side skirted by a clump of woods, and on the other by a
heavy stone wall, surmounted by shrubbery, so thick that nothing could
be seen through it. Suddenly a little gate opened, and Hettie came down
the steps, her face wearing that sweet smile with which she had in days
past always met him.

'I was afraid, William, that you would be past before I could get here,
and I felt as if I must see you, just to say, good-by.'

William was taken by surprise; he seized her offered hand, and grasped
it warmly, but he could not speak.

'I have wanted to see you very much, William, and to have a long talk
with you about many things; but I suppose you must be going, and I must
be back to my work. But, William, do you think you will like it in the
city? You know things are so different from what you have been used to.'

He was intending to be very stiff in all his bearing towards Hettie, but
he made awkward work of it. There was she, looking up into his face with
all her wonted interest, and how could he meet those eyes, and not
return their look of pure and kindly feeling? So he gave it up: all his
bad intentions flew off like mist, and his eye glanced as kindly as
hers, and his voice softened into the old tones of friendship.

'I know, Hettie, that they will be different; but I think I shall soon
get used to them, and then I feel like taking care of myself, and who
knows but I may get along as well as some others who go there, and come
back with plenty of money in my pocket? I think, then, that some of my
friends will not be ashamed to speak to me, or to acknowledge old
friendships.' And as William said this, he looked at Hettie with so much
meaning, that she could not mistake its reference to her.

'If you think, William, that your prosperity will make a difference in
the feelings of your friends towards you, or, at least, of some of them,
you are mistaken. You may succeed as you anticipate, or you may not; you
may return wealthy or poor, as you now are; if you only bring back as
true and kind a heart, William, you will find some to welcome you, who
will rejoice more in that, than in any great change in your
circumstances.'

And Hettie cast such a meaning in her look, too, as she fixed her eye
full upon him, that he could not mistake its reference either. He saw
the tears glistening in her mild eyes, and he could have done all manner
of things to himself for speaking as he did.

'Forgive me, Hettie, forgive me, if I have said any thing to trouble
you; I know that you, at least, will not be affected by my condition, if
my character is only good.'

'I cannot say any thing more about the future, William, than that I am
very sure I shall ever feel a deep interest in your welfare, and my
ardent prayer shall be, that you may be kept from the many evils which I
am told lurk around one going into the city, as you do, a stranger to
its temptations.'

'I know, Hettie, they say that I shall run a great risk in many ways,
and I feel that I need something to keep my mind fastened on that will
help me to avoid the evil, whatever it may be, and that will strengthen
me in doing right. You have been such a helper to me, Hettie; you know
from what a dreadful state you once delivered me; you have great power
over me. I am now going from you; will you not let me carry along with
me that promise which I have often asked? If you would only say that it
_might_ be one of these days, I should go away happy; the hope would be
like your presence with me.'

Hettie cast down her eyes as William continued talking; she heard him
quietly through, and then replied, in a voice that trembled indeed, but
the words were well chosen, and came from her heart.

'That promise, William, I cannot make now any more than I could have
done before this; you and I are to be separated for many years perhaps;
great changes may take place in that time; you will see many things very
unlike what you have been accustomed to; your views about persons and
things may change with your circumstances, I shall think of you as a
dear friend, as a brother, if you wish it; I will pray for you when I do
for myself, and as earnestly, William; but farther than this, you must
not ask me.'

William ceased, for he knew Hettie well enough to be certain that she
would yield nothing more. He parted from her as a brother might leave a
sister, dearly loved; he saw the deep color mantling in her cheek, and
the tear that artlessly rolled over it; he could not say the parting
word. She stepped back through the little gate, and as it closed, he
went on his way to seek that fortune, which, at times, played before his
fancy in all the witching forms of earthly prosperity. How often will
this parting scene haunt his waking and sleeping dreams, through the
long years that will intervene ere a sight of one so dear to him now
will bless his eyes again; and how often will he admire the firmness and
prudence of this earthly friend of his heart!



CHAPTER X.


Sam Oakum had not forgotten the promise he had given old Mr. Cutter in
the hour of his deep trouble; nor had he forgotten the kindness which
prompted the old man to fly to the rescue of his parent. Every cent was
precious in Sam's eyes, as sacred to repay that offering of mercy; he
would no sooner have squandered it than he would have stolen; week after
week, on every return from a trip, he would slip up to his little chest,
and deposit there the earnings of the day. The additions were small, for
he was obliged, occasionally, to expend some part of what he earned for
little comforts that his mother needed; his father being rarely able to
procure money for his labor. Small, however, as were the additions, the
store increased. He had already carried to Mr. Cutter five dollars, and
received his hearty blessing, and such a squeeze of his hand as Sam did
not forget for the rest of the day.

Jim had squared up with him the moment he had received the last payment;
and as Sam looked at the heap of money which Jim said was his share of
their enterprise, he was too happy to say any thing. He looked up at
Jim, whose calm clear eye turned from the money to Sam, and then back
again to the money, as much as to say--

'It's your's, Sam, honestly come by;--it's all right, why don't you take
it?'

Ned, who was standing by also, and watching Sam, understood better than
Jim what the matter was.

'Why don't you hurra, Sam, and let it out, and not keep choking up so? I
know how you feel;--shall I go it for you? Hurra, hurra, hurra!'

'Ned, what does ail you? what is the use of making such a noise?'

'Oh, nothing; only you see I want to help Sam out with some of his
feelings; he is too full to hold.'

Sam had to smile, and that started a tear or two, and then he tried to
say something about gratitude to the boys; but Jim stopped him short.

'Now, Sam, you must not feel so; you have earned that heap of money just
as much as we have ours, and we ought to thank you; for how should we
ever have got along without you and your boat.'

'Oh,' said Sam, as he began to gather up his money, and looking archly
at Jim, 'you would have thought out some other way, I know.'

Jim had to smile a little; and Ned, throwing his arms on Sam's
shoulders, and leaning over him, as he picked up the pieces of money.

'Sam Oakum, I am as glad to see you put that money in your pocket as I
should be to put it into my own; and so is Jim, I know.'

Sam believed every word that Ned had spoken, and after making a plan to
meet together that evening, he went on his way. His pockets were heavy,
but his heart was light; and as he passed the rock which had ever been
memorable to him since the hour when he sat there in his despondency,
and the boys came to him with this plan of enterprise, he could not but
say to himself,

'What a grand thing it has been that Jim Montjoy had those thoughts.'

Mr. and Mrs. Oakum were just about to sit down at their humble board as
Sam entered.

'Here, father; see what the boat has done.'

'What is it, Sam?' said his mother, looking earnestly at him, her hands
raised, and her countenance expressing great anxiety. Sam made no reply,
but commenced unlading his pockets, and piling the money in little heaps
on the table.

'It is father's; it has all come of the boat. If father had not built
that boat, we never could have got all this; and now he can pay Billy
Bloodgood the fifteen dollars, and then we shall not owe a single cent
to any one; there is the whole of it--twenty-five dollars--don't it look
nice, mother?'

Mrs. Oakum let her hands drop as soon as she understood the matter; but
it was only to take up her apron--they had work to do with that. While
the father, overcome with the sight of such abundance, and the noble
spirit of his boy, could only say, in a very trembling voice,

'God bless you, Sam.'

_That_ was a happy meal, though plain and coarse. A spring of living joy
was bubbling in each heart, and sparkling forth in pure and blessed
thoughts towards God and man.

Sam would gladly have had his father carry the money which was to repay
Mr. Bloodgood, and never been known as the procurer of it. But to this
the kind parent would not consent. He felt, and truly too, that it would
be a mark upon his son's early life, not soon obliterated: and he was
willing to have himself forgotten, if the dear boy might but be
strengthened in the path of honor and virtue.

The next morning Sam was up with the early dawn, and busy with his daily
routine, that he might be ready to go on his pleasing errand. Breakfast
over, he dressed himself in his best blue suit, and with the money in
his pocket and his parent's blessing, started off, his heart as full of
happiness as it could well be. Thoughts of the dark scene which he had
passed through, when kind friends, like angels of mercy, came to his
aid, he could not repress, nor did he wish to; the darker _then_, the
brighter _now_. How his heart beat with pleasure as he walked briskly
on, and drew near to the humble abode of Billy Bloodgood--rough, to be
sure, was the exterior, and the peculiar habits of its owner too visible
in the strange confusion around the premises; but Sam thought only of
his kind heart and ready hand in an hour of need.

Things had not yet been put to rights at neighbor Bloodgood's, and as
Sam entered the house, there was not only a confused state of pots and
kettles, and relics of the early meal, but the good woman herself was
all wrong somehow; she was in quite an undress, and moved about amid the
domestic articles surrounding her, with that quick, jerky air, which
generally denotes an unsettled state of the inner man or woman.

Sam wondered why things did not break, they rang against each other so
sharply. If he was somewhat surprised at this, he was much more so at
sight of a stranger, seated near the door, but a little behind it, which
circumstances prevented him from noticing before. He was a stranger, not
only to Sam, but he must have been to all those parts, for he was like
nothing seen in that region for many miles' circuit; his air and contour
was that of a gentleman. Sam had already seen enough of the world to
know that. He was quite a youth, probably not over nineteen years of
age; his countenance manly, and rather stern at the first glance; but
Sam thought, from a particular twist of the corner of his mouth, that he
was more amused than vexed with the state of things around him. His form
was slender, and his complexion pale, like one who had never yet been
exposed to the wear and tear of life; his light brown hair was thrown
carelessly back from his forehead, and displayed to great advantage that
index of the mind.

He arose almost immediately upon Sam's entering, and with his hat in
hand, bowed to the mistress of the house, who cast but a sideling glance
at him, and then stooped down to rattle some of the dishes, without,
apparently, any other motive than to let him see that she was too busy
to attend to _him_.

'You think then, madam, there would be no use in my waiting to see your
husband?'

'No; I don't think there's no earthly use in seeing _him_. I tell'd you,
again and again, we ain't got no young ones to send--and that's the long
and short on it.'

'Good morning, madam.'

The young man spoke kindly and courteously, and then left the house,
walking with an erect carriage towards the highway.

'Good morning, Aunt Sally.'

Mrs. Bloodgood, then, lifting herself up, and putting a hand on each
hip, looked with a very stern and fixed gaze through the open door,
until the stranger had fairly got out of hearing; and then, without
answering Sam's salutation, began to rattle away in her usual style,
when by any cause somewhat excited.

'_Him_ set up for a schoolmaster, with his fine clothes on, and his bran
new hat, and his bowin' and scrapin', and his _madam_, and all that kind
of palaver; he ain't nothin' but a chicken himself. No, no: I've seen
enough on 'em in my day; there ain't no good comes on 'em; they put more
mischief in the heads of the young 'uns than they've got naturally, and
that's enough we all know.'

'What's the matter, Aunt Sally?'

'I tell you what, Sam Oakum, I don't want none of them Yankees round me.
I don't see why the critters can't stay in their own country, and do
some honest thing there for a livin', and not come trampussing away down
here with their larnin', that don't do no airthly good, but make the
young 'uns lazy, and wanting to be gentlemen like themselves; and what
old Molly Brown sent the critter here for, I don't see.'

'Does he want to set up a school, aunt Sally?' said Sam, looking at her
with a very anxious countenance.

'He _did_ want to; but I guess he's got enough on it; and I'm so glad
he's took himself off 'fore Bloodgood come in, for he's just fool enough
to be clean took with him; and he's got his head set about havin' a
schoolmaster, and I don't want none of the varmints round.' But looking
at Sam very closely, and coming up to him, and feeling his coat and his
trousers, and then holding him off at arm's length.

'_Do tell!_ where upon airth, Sam, did you get this? How smart you _do_
look. This has been gi'n to you, I know, by them great folks over the
water there?'

'Yes.'

'Well, ain't that clever on 'em, Sam? but you're desarvin' of it, and
I'm glad on it. It does a body's heart good to see your mother's child
look so smart and tidy. I didn't hardly know you when you come in, and
that plaguy man put me into such a pucker, I didn't hardly know what I
was about.'

Sam had become very impatient to be off; he had anticipated a great deal
of joy from his errand, in the proud satisfaction of paying a just
debt; but he thought not of that now. He had learned enough to know what
the stranger's business was, and he could not endure the thought of his
leaving the place in such a manner; so taking out his money, and handing
it to Mrs. Bloodgood,

'There, Aunt Sally, is the money which Mr. Bloodgood, so kindly helped
my father to, when he was in trouble; won't you please tell him that we
all thank him very much, and hope we shall never forget how good he has
been to us?'

'You dear, blessed child!' Aunt Sally could say no more, for she saw the
tears in Sam's eyes, and her own heart was very peculiar--it was soon
set on fire.

'You will tell him, won't you, Aunt Sally? and that father says, if he
will only let him know any time that he can do any thing for him, or for
you, day or night, he will gladly do it; and mother says so too; for you
don't know how happy it made us all, when you lent this money, and how
very happy we are now, to be able to give it back to you.'

Aunt Sally sat down, and taking up her apron with both hands, cried as
hard as she had scolded but a few moments before. Sam laid the money on
the table beside her, and wishing her good morning, made speed towards
the highway. He saw the young man at a distance, walking rapidly, and
bending his course away from the place, on the direct road to the
barrens; his only chance to overtake him was by a cross cut over the
fields, and through a little clump of wood, around which the road to the
barrens passed. And while Sam is hurrying across the lots, I must
introduce the young stranger a little more particularly to my reader.

Henry Tracy was indeed descended from New England parents, but was not,
as good Mrs. Bloodgood supposed, a real Yankee; for his father had
emigrated from the state of Maine when quite a youth, and his mother
from another of the goodly sisterhood, when a child. They had settled in
one of the middle States, and Henry's birthplace was one of our largest
cities; great pains had been taken with his education; his mind was
uncommonly well stored for one of his age, and his manners distinguished
by a gentlemanly grace; but, above all this, his heart had been nurtured
by the tender care of a mother, whose love for the truth, whose meek and
blameless life, and whose heavenly-minded temper, gave a power to the
pure and holy thoughts which she was ever breathing into the ear of her
son; they stole into his heart like the dew upon the tender plant.

He was now an orphan, and cast upon the world, with the choice of
depending upon the charity of friends to assist him in completing his
education, or using what education he had already received as a means of
support, and of further progress; he wisely chose the latter. Having a
slight acquaintance with Mr. Rutherford, he had, on calling to visit the
family, been directed to this region, and the "Widow Brown, to whom Mr.
Rutherford advised him to apply, could think of no one more likely to
take an interest in a school than Billy Bloodgood. His reception there,
and the general appearance of things, had discouraged him from any
further attempt, and he was hastening back to seek a spot more congenial
to his own feelings, and where there might be at least some desire for
instruction.

Sam had to be expeditious, and was barely able to accomplish his object
by running across one entire lot, and through the clump of woods.
Breathless with his haste, he was unable to communicate his wishes, or
to apologize to the young man for coming upon him in so abrupt a manner,
who looked with much surprise at him for an explanation.

'I hope you will excuse me, sir, for stopping you; I met you, just now,
at Mr. Bloodgood's. I did not know what your business was, sir. But do
come back, we want you very much.'

'Want me! What do they know about _me_?'

'Oh, I mean, Sir, they want a teacher.'

'Mrs. Bloodgood says that no one here wishes a teacher, that the people
think they are better off without any instruction.'

'But they do not all feel so, sir; do come back with me, and I will take
you to a man that will tell you all about it.'

Sam's appearance pleased Mr. Tracy, and the earnestness of his entreaty
induced him to consent to return and see what new feature the place
might present.

They were not long in reaching the spot to which Sam wished to conduct
him, a very unlikely place in appearance to give encouragement to
literature, being no other than the workshop of old Sam Cutter. The old
man was in his usual seat, holding, or rather leaning upon the handle of
his large hammer, and from his short breathing and flushed face, showing
signs of his having just been wielding it. Running round the shop, with
a tongs in one hand and a hammer in the other, was Billy Bloodgood,
helping himself, with some directions and aid on Mr. Cutter's part, in
repairing an old farming tool. He paid, as usual, no attention to the
new-comers, except a slight nod of his head, and a pleasant smile to
Sam.

As Sam entered and motioned to Mr. Tracy to come in, Mr. Cutter passed
his broad hand across the top of his head, smoothing down his bald
forehead, at the same time saying.

'Your sarvant, sir.'

Mr. Tracy bowed to him politely, taking off his hat with as much respect
as if in the presence of one of the great ones of the earth.

Sam Oakum lost no time in communicating to Mr. Cutter the object of the
visitor, and the circumstances under which he had met with him and
brought him back.

'Right, Sam, right; but of all things, to think of Sally Bloodgood
treating the gentleman in that sort. But that's the way with them;
they're a match for the old one, any time; all but your mother, Sam, she
ain't like the rest on 'em.' And then turning to the young man,

'Sorry, sir, you've had such an indifferent reception, but what can't be
cured must be endured. Billy there knows that; but you see it don't
matter to him whether she scolds or coaxes; he can't hear nothin' no
more than the iron he's poundin' on.'

'Is that Mr. Bloodgood? Mrs. Brown advised me to call upon him; but his
good wife gave me such an account of things, that, but for this young
gentleman, I should have made no further effort.'

'Ay, ay, Sam knew well enough, the young rogue, who to come to; but dear
me, you look like a lad that has seen fair weather and easy work; do you
know what kind of a place you've come to?'

'Only what I have seen of it this morning, sir; and Mrs. Brown said that
she thought a teacher was much needed.'

'Ay, that she might well say, much needed; that is, if you can teach
them any better manners than they've got now: they're a hard case, my
dear young man, most gone to the evil one altogether.'

Mr. Tracy smiled. 'I hope not quite so bad as that, sir.'

'Not much short on it, I tell you; but things look a little better than
they have, and I ain't sure but a considerable lot on 'em might be got
together; that is, the boys, I mean but--' and the old man regarded his
young visitor with a very inquisitive countenance--'you don't look as if
you could live on clam shells and oyster shells, and eels, and sich
like; I'm afear'd you ain't used to them.'

'Oh, yes, sir, I can eat what the rest of you do.'

'Well, my young friend, you can't judge always from the looks, what kind
of fare a man has; but howsomever, if you can get along with such things
as I've tell'd you of, why you won't starve, for you see we've got
plenty on 'em; and as to the boys, do you, Sam Oakum, up and tell the
gentleman what you know about it, and not stand stretching your mouth
and grinnin' at me.'

Sam soon numbered quite a company of boys, and girls too, that he knew
would be very glad of a chance for schooling, and many more that would
no doubt come if the gentleman 'would only make a beginning, and open a
school.'

As Henry Tracy had perhaps full as much desire to do good, as to receive
compensation for his labors, seeing the strong desire manifested by Sam,
and hearing him tell how very anxious some of his companions were to
learn something, he made up his mind to try the experiment.

Sam was almost beside himself for joy; it was the only one thing now
wanting in his cup of happiness. His deficiency in every kind of
knowledge acquired from books, was felt by him daily as a sore evil. 'If
he could only read and write, and calculate like Jim Montjoy,' was for
ever coming into his mind, a wish unalloyed by envy or any other evil
feeling towards Jim, but filling his heart with sadness. Old Sam Cutter
was no less rejoiced, for his boys were but little in advance of Sam
Oakum, and now that they had taken such a favourable turn in their
course of conduct, the old man felt that a school would be a crowning
mercy. Some little difficulty presented itself as to where the teacher
should take up his abode; there were good reasons why Mr. Cutter could
not offer a residence under his own roof; the house was but small, _too
small_, he found for himself, sometimes, and he durst not venture upon
an addition.

Sam Oakum would have rejoiced could his home have afforded
accommodations such as he might ask a stranger to partake of, and a
person of Mr. Tracy's appearance. Mrs. Montjoy's was the only place that
Sam could think of where any thing like comfort could be had.

'I know--I know all that, Sam; Mrs. Montjoy is a nice woman, and the
house, though small, is tidy-like, and the boys are good fellows, a
credit to the place; but you see, Sam, we must 'be wise as sarpants'
about this business. You know how the folks feel, full of their
jealousies and nonsense; and if the teacher should go there, they would
say that he felt himself above folks, that he was too good for the like
of them, and all that, and you see,' looking at Mr. Tracy, 'we've got to
take folks as they are, and make the best on 'em.' And then turning his
eye towards Sam, 'The Widow Andrews' is the place. Bill, you know, is
gone; sorry for that, but he's gone, and no help for it; the old woman
is queer, but where is one on 'em that ain't, sometimes? Yet she is
pretty good in the main, and she'll be proud to do her best; and if the
gentleman won't be frightened at a little squall once in a while, he'll
git along pretty comfortable there: now, don't you think so, Sam?'

Sam thought just as Mr. Cutter did; and as Mr. Tracy was not particular
as to accommodations, provided they were cleanly, and he could have a
room to himself, it was accordingly decided that he should accompany Sam
there, and see what could be done. There was nothing very inviting in
the appearance of things, to one who had been accustomed to a very
different style of living: the house was a one-story building, placed
very flat on the ground; both the roof and the sides were covered with
shingles. Moss had accumulated so as to contend with the shingles for
the precedence, and if the latter did the most good, the former was the
most distinctly to be seen. But it was situated in the midst of a green
grass plot, and the grass was short and velvety to the tread, and a few
old cedar trees surrounded it, which tended to screen its imperfections,
and make it pass for full as much as it deserved. A fence ran before it,
much dilapidated, sufficient, however, to keep out the larger animals,
where the green short grass grew up to the window.

The widow was evidently flattered by the proposal, only she feared 'the
gentleman might find their living very different from what he had been
used to.'

Mr. Tracy was satisfied, from the appearance of things within doors,
that neatness was one trait which the widow certainly had, whatever
others he might discover on further acquaintance. She showed him her
best room, and which she was perfectly willing to yield up to his use.
It was large enough, with an agreeable view of the surrounding country,
and Henry thought, when he should get his books around him, he could
make himself at home.

Mr. Cutter would have been glad to introduce the young man to Billy
Bloodgood, but he dared not undertake the task, and suffered Billy to
hammer away, and took no notice of the inquisitive glances which his
good neighbor kept casting towards him. As soon, however, as the visitor
had departed, still holding the hammer and tongs, he made up to Mr.
Cutter, and putting his head close to his ear, hallooed in a voice
almost sufficient to have made the sound reach his own tympanum.

'Who's that?'

'I ain't deaf; you needn't holler at that rate into a man.'

'Who did you say? I didn't hear you.'

'Dear me, what _shall_ I do? I'm all out of breath a talkin' to that
youngster.'

'Don't hear.'

Uncle Sam made a desperate effort, opened his mouth, drew in a long
breath, put his hand up to form a trumpet, and applying the machinery as
near as possible to Billy's head, called out,

'He's a teacher.'

'A preacher?' and Billy nodded and smiled; 'that's _good_ going to stay
here?'

'Bless my soul, what _shall_ I do? I shan't try agin', no how.'

'Sally'll be glad to hear that; where is he from?'

Uncle Sam looked first one way and then the other, as though meditating
an escape; but he hated to move, and in fact he knew there would be
little use in trying it, for Billy would be after him so he finally cast
an imploring eye up to his neighbor, who stooping down and looking very
inquiringly into his face.

'O dear, dear! I ain't got no breath to do it.'

Billy shook his head.

'Don't hear.'

'No, nor you won't if the sound has got to come out of me; it can't be
done.'

'Don't hear what you say; speak a little louder.'

'I don't know.' Old Sam made noise enough this time, and if it could
have been concentrated might have gone to the place, but Billy had heard
something, so he nodded his head.

'From below? what place? anywhere near by?'

'Dear, dear, he'll be the death of me!' Uncle Sam was indeed in a bad
case; he had at no time any breath to spare, and to be called upon to
expend it, first in working with the big hammer, and then in blowing
trumpets, was a little more than his good-nature could stand. He was
very red in the face, breathed short and heavy, and with his old straw
hat flapping violently to catch fresh supplies of air, looked wildly
about for some loophole whereby to creep out from this dilemma. Just at
that moment, and as Billy was again upon the point of asking for more
light on the obscurity of the last sound that reached him, the shop door
was darkened by the entrance of no less a personage than Sally Bloodgood
herself. She came in so rapidly, that she was nigh being foul of Uncle
Sam; as it was, she only impeded the motion of the old hat. She was not
at all in a visiting dress, having come, as she said, 'just as she was,'
to see her neighbor, Mrs. Cutter, for a minute. 'But do, la, Uncle Sam,
what ails you? your face is as red as a turkey's comb. You seem to be
all blowed out. It's Bloodgood, I know it is. He's been asking you
questions, I know he has. You hadn't ought to try to talk to him, Uncle
Sam; it's enough to kill you.'

'I believe you,' turning his eyes up at her very expressively; 'you're
right there, Sally.'

Billy Bloodgood now engrossed his wife's attention, by telling her the
great news, 'that there was a preacher come, a nice-looking young man.'

Mrs. Bloodgood looked at Mr. Cutter for an explanation.

'Do _tell_, Uncle Sam, was he a very youngerly man, very fine and
delicate like?'

Mr. Cutter nodded assent.

'La, me, I wonder if it's the same one that called to see Bloodgood,
this mornin'. A preacher?--who upon airth would have thought it? he
never said nothin' about preach'n'.'

Mrs. Bloodgood had her own reasons for being so surprised; and as Uncle
Sam Cutter saw clearly that her thoughts were very much troubled about
the matter, he came to the conclusion to let her enjoy her mistake:

'It will teach her, may be, to be a little more careful of her tongue.'

But, as Billy Bloodgood was the principal man to whom Mr. Cutter looked
for aid in sustaining and encouraging the young man, the fact that he
wished to teach a young school among them, must be communicated to him.
Utterly hopeless of any power in himself to do the thing, he, without
any ceremony, took hold of the loose covering which hung about the
person of the lady, and fairly forcing her down upon a rough seat, near
himself,

'Now you see, woman, I give it clean up; I shan't never try no more to
drive a word into Billy's head. I can't do it--it will kill me.'

''Tis hard work, Uncle Sam, ain't it? it takes such a power of wind. But
you see somebody's got to make him hear, and I 'spose it's my lot; and
what a body's got to do, you know, Uncle Sam, why, they must submit to
it: but it takes my breath clean away sometimes, and makes me so faint
and gone, that I can't hardly hold myself together.' And the good woman,
pressing her hands very hard against her sides, exhibited to Uncle Sam
the desperate efforts she had to make, at times, to keep things in their
place.

Billy stood close by, with one hand on Uncle Sam's shoulder, looking
very complacently at his wife, and nodding every once in a while, as
though he understood perfectly what she was saying.

'Fine-looking young man; smart, I guess.' And then stooping over, and
looking into Mr. Cutter's face, 'You didn't tell me what place he came
from.'

'Where is it, Uncle Sam? jist tell me, and I'll make him hear, I'll
warrant.'

'Why, Sally, I don't know where he's come from. No doubt Heaven has sent
him from somewhere or another, and I don't much care, I am so glad to
see any thing in a decent shape come to do a little good among us: he
may have dropped right down, for all I know.'

'Do, la, Uncle Sam, how you talk; you're enough to frighten a body. But
I must tell Bloodgood somethin' or another.' So, raising herself a
little, putting one hand on each knee, and placing her prominent member
close to her husband's ear, who was still bending down and looking
earnestly at Mr. Cutter, she was about to give one of her blasts, when
she was suddenly arrested by the powerful hand of the latter.

'Stop, Sally, stop!--not now: none of your hollering here, I can't
stand it. Wait till you git home, and then you can tell Billy all about
it.'

Billy, finding that there was a sudden interruption to all
correspondence for some cause he could not well define, and being
accustomed to such events, put a stop to his inquiries for the present.

How vast a change of feeling is sometimes effected by the passing away
of sunlight, with the bustle of its busy hours and the silent shades of
evening!

Henry Tracy had made a busy day of it; he had met with unexpected
success in engaging scholars, and had procured a room in a building,
once used as a court-house, in which to hold his school. Gratified with
his prospects, he sat down to the clean supper table with the Widow
Andrews and her daughter, with feelings much more buoyant than could
have been expected in one so young, for the first time a sojourner among
strangers. He delighted them by the ease and pleasantness of his
manners, so that when he retired, which he did soon after supper, the
Widow Andrews looked at her daughter, and lifting her hands in
expression of her admiration--

'Who could ever ha' thought of it? Why, it's jist as easy talkin' to him
as to Uncle Sam Cutter.'

'Oh, mother! its as easy agin'.'

The moon was in all her splendor, and her pale rays fell trembling
through the foliage of the cottage. Taking a seat by the window, Henry
looked out upon the beautiful night, and his heart filled with emotions
to which he had hitherto been a stranger.

Home, that idea so satisfying to the soul, that spot to which our wishes
fly when in sickness or sorrow, was nought to him now but the
resting-place of his past joys and trials--a beautiful vision that had
left an impress on his heart, which time could not obliterate; although,
like a vision, it had passed away, his bosom heaved with the swelling
thoughts that rolled like ocean waves heavier and mightier in upon him.
He drew from his breast a golden locket and unclasping it, held the
miniature it enclosed beneath the rays of the moon; his lips trembled,
as the sacred name of '_mother_' broke from them. 'Yes, I will ever
think of thee, thy sweet love has made my home a paradise, and thy pure
piety and gentle counsels have won me to the path of peace. My Saviour's
image hast thou ever borne before me, until my heart has learned to
love Him as my best and dearest friend. Oh, may my life be such as thy
last dying prayer entreated it might be; and may I be led by the Holy
Spirit in the way that leads to where thou art.'



CHAPTER XI.


It was a very bright to-morrow in Ned's imagination, as he lay down to
rest; for then he was to accompany Jim and Sam, and was to see the fort,
and old Peter and Major Morris, and perhaps little Susie too; and the
new plan of Jim's was the object of their errand. If the day in Ned's
imagination was brighter than the one which actually dawned upon them,
it must have been a beauty indeed. The sky, the water, and the land
opened in loveliness; the bright blue above was reflected from the
glassy water, and the golden beams, that poured in full glory from the
east, were thrown back by the fading forest in all variety of colors.
This was to Ned a holiday indeed, and his active spirit enjoyed it to
the full; faithfully had he toiled through the long summer days, nor
even thought of relaxation. Now, the summer labors over, sweet was the
rest, and exhilarating the prospect of new scenes and faces, which, with
that morning's dawn, came playing before his view.

Major Morris was not a little pleased, as he listened to Jim's simple
exposition of the plan he had in view; his generous heart rejoiced to
know that what he had already done to aid and stimulate these youths,
had turned to so good account.

'And you say that you have laid by one hundred dollars from your trading
with me this summer, and so you begin to despise your old business? You
wish to find some easier way to make a hundred dollars? Ay, ay--like all
the rest of us.'

'Oh, no, sir--no, sir; we do not think of giving up our garden; we
expect to work at that the same as ever.'

And then Jim explained how he intended to manage, which convinced Major
Morris that the scheme was not only well laid, but included much closer
attention to their work than heretofore. He looked at the boys with deep
interest; the smile, which had played round his lips while speaking to
them, passed away, and his keen black eye turned from one to the other,
as though scrutinizing their very spirits. Sam's honest eye, as black as
the one which was fixed on him, twinkled and turned aside, as the
Major, after surveying the brothers, rested his gaze on him. What he saw
in Sam, or what strange visions passed before him, wherein poor Sam
acted a conspicuous part, may one day be revealed. A sigh at last broke
the spell; he turned towards Jim.

'Your plan, my good fellow, is one which meets my approbation, and any
thing I can do to assist you in it, I will do with pleasure; but you
know from past dealing with me, that my efforts will be merely directed
so as to enable you to help yourselves.'

'You are very kind, sir. I thought your judgment would be safe for us to
follow, and that perhaps you could give me some directions as to
purchases, and therefore I have taken this liberty.'

'Your plan of setting up a small store is a good one; on many accounts:
but you must bear in mind that great attention will be required, both in
purchasing and selling. You will be in danger of losing some of your
profits by waste in retailing; you will also be in danger of losing
goods and profits too, by selling to those who will never pay you; and
you will run some risk in the transportation of your goods, or of your
money, so far by water, although this latter risk can be guarded
against. What I would say to you then is, that this business, although
small at first, will require the most strict attention in all its
details; and I would also say another thing, if I did not fully believe
that all of you have been trained to those correct principles, without
which no man can or ought to rise to honor or prosperity.

'I can assist you by introducing you to a house in the city, where you
will be well dealt with; and as our boat sails to-morrow morning, you
had better remain here, and I will accompany you.'

Ned was ready for a caper; he looked at Sam, and rubbed his hands
together very fast. Sam shook his head, as much as to say, 'Be quiet,
Ned.'

Jim blushed, looked at the boys, and then up at Major Morris.

'I thank you, sir, for your kind offer; but having no idea of being able
to do any thing so soon, have left my money at home.'

'So much the better, then there will be the less risk; I will arrange
for the payment of your goods in the city, the same as if you had your
money with you, and when we return, you can settle with me here.'

Jim was not very clear about this matter; but confiding in Major
Morris, assented to remain, thanking him again for his kind interest.

During this conversation, Peter stood back at some distance, leaning on
his crutches, and chewing a tremendous quid of tobacco with great
diligence, and occasionally smoothing down the end of his queue. Ned,
while listening to the Major, kept an eye on Peter, scanning him from
head to foot. No sooner had the Major withdrawn, than Peter hobbled
towards the boys, who were standing on the steps by their boat, and
making preparations to return; he threw his crutches down, and taking a
seat on the stone coping close beside the boat, listened attentively to
Jim, who was giving directions to Sam and Ned about some small matters
at home, and about their coming for him on his return to the fort.

'I suppose,' said Jim, looking at Peter, 'that I shall be back here by
about three o'clock to-morrow afternoon.'

'Bless your soul! what kind of a kalkelation have you run foul of now?
you are out of your reck'nin' by a whole day at the least. Why you see,
my hearty, you won't start from here 'afore say nine o'clock to-morrow
mornin'; with the wind aft, or a little quaterin', say she goes eight
knots an hour, which is good sailin' for sich kind of craft, it will
take you all of four hours and no balks to git to the landin'; so you
see' (giving his head a bob, and a corresponding motion to his queue)
'you can't be there 'afore one o'clock, no how' (another bob); 'well
then, if the wind is fair to carry you there, you don't think it is
goin' to chop round jist when you're ready to come back, and blow astern
all the way home, do you?'--looking at Jim again.--'No, no; the wind and
weather don't care for nobody; we've got to take 'em, jist as it
happens, and make the most on 'em. So you see, you may jist knock
overboard all your figurin'; it won't do you no good; you've got to stay
one night in the city, at any rate, for the boat never starts till the
next mornin'; and if you've good luck, may be about three o'clock you'll
be in, and may be not.'

Jim was rather puzzled to make out from Peter's reckoning when to tell
the boys to come for him; but Peter, seeing him in doubt, gave his own
directions.

'Here you, Sam, jist harkee; there won't be no need of your bein' here
afore day a'ter to-morrow; then you see, you can jist hoist sail, and
come along easy; no hurry; you be here by three o'clock, plenty time
enough. Now you see, don't make no kalkelations about goin' home that
night, 'kase--you hear me now?--sposin' the wind should take 'em right
dead ahead, they can't get in no how afore six o'clock, and may be not
then, and there's no tellin' when.'

Jim found it a more serious matter, this going to the city, than he had
anticipated. Peter's experience soon convinced him of that; as he could
give no more certain directions to Sam than he had already received, he
must let him go with what he had.

The sail was hoisted; Peter had untied the rope, giving at the same time
a sharp good-natured lecture to Sam, for making his boat fast in such an
unsailor-like manner. Sam took it all in good part, for, in truth, he
had not done the thing; it was some of Ned's handiwork. Jim stood on the
stairs, giving Ned all sorts of directions and injunctions.

'Yes, yes, Jim; I'll see to it, never you fear.'

Off goes the little craft.

'Good-by, Sam; good-by, Ned. Take care of yourselves.'

'Good-by, Jim.'

'Good-by, my hearties; haul in that bow-line, and don't let it drag in
that fashion; and haul your peak taut; you'll have a stiff breeze, but
she'll bear it. Good luck to you.'

Gently the boat turned off, and took the swelling breeze. The boys
looked back, to give a parting nod.

'Oh, Sam, who is that? ain't she a beauty though!--is that Susie? See,
Sam, she is shaking her hand to you.'

Sam made no reply; he touched his hat lightly, as he had seen Peter do
to the Major.

'I tell you what, Sam, I don't wonder you jumped into the water; I would
have jumped, too, if I had been here.'

'I wouldn't be looking round so, Ned.'

'Mustn't I? Well, I'll look ahead then. I thought sister Eller was
pretty--but--but--may be it's the dress though.'

Sam was in no talking mood; he kept his eye steadily fixed on the sail,
which was swelled finely out, and making their boat skim along towards
home to his heart's content; and as Ned received only monosyllables in
reply to his many questions, he soon tired of putting them.

Large cities have their evils, and they are not few. Hither the idle and
the vicious throng, for here are dens to hide them from the public gaze,
and companions to uphold them in their evil courses, and finery enough
to glut their polluted appetite; but with the evils, are many things
that tend to bless society. Here the good man finds many kindred
spirits, too, and like coals to burning coals, they kindle in each other
a warmer glow, and spread around them, in a wide and fervent circle, a
cheering, healthful influence. Here busy industry plies her daily,
nightly task, and meets with large reward, and hangs out her trophies to
the gaze of the vast multitude, urging them on to diligence: here wealth
erects her glittering palace; and here the darkest den of poverty is
found. Here emulation and sympathy have each objects of heart-thrilling
interest, sufficient to awaken all the energies of the jostling throng.
Deeds of charity, which make us proud of our species, are here
originated and carried into execution: and here, too, deeds of horror
are enacted, that make us feel how like the very fiends of hell
sometimes is man.

Excitement, in all its various forms, keeps up a constant whirl; all
feel the influence for good or ill, and onward all are pressing. The
mind of man is tasked, until its energies, too strongly, constantly
impelled, give way, and then the victim droops, and plods along, and
sickens at the strife, and longs to be at rest.

When the first view of the city broke upon the gazing eye of our hero,
he scarcely knew what to make of it. The tall spires running up against
the distant sky; the crowded masts that, like a wintry forest, lined the
shores; the mighty mass of buildings, heaps on heaps, spreading for
miles on either side; the boats of various size and shape crossing and
recrossing, and sweeping by them with the arrow's speed; and as they
neared the land, the busy throng of people hurrying to and fro; the
confused and deafening noise, the smoke and dust, the huge hulks, old
ocean-travellers, that lay fast corded to the strong stout piles; the
long projecting piers, around whose dark-green slippery base the turbid
waters swelled, and beat, and broke--all, all were new to Jim; and in
mute wonder he looked and thought, until their little vessel glided into
her resting-place, between two vast walls of docks.

"Well, James, what do you think of the city?" said Major Morris, coming
up to where he sat at the bow of the boat, and putting his hand kindly
on his shoulder.

"I hardly know, sir; but it seems a very busy place." 'Yes, busy you
may well say, every one is in a hurry here, and we must be so, too, as
we are rather late to-day, and I fear my friend will have left his
store.'

Jim hastened to accompany the Major, who, already on the wharf, was
mingling with the crowd; it took him, however, some little time to learn
how to make haste in a city, and not before he had received a few stout
thumps against some other hurrying mortals, and a few harsh curses as an
awkward country booby. But Jim heeded them not, for the Major walked
fast, and to lose sight of him would be a dilemma indeed, amidst such a
Babel. He twisted this way and that, sometimes running close to the
wall, at others jumping off from the side-walk among the carts, and then
quickly back again, over bales of cotton tumbling from the doors; around
hogsheads of molasses, barrels of flour, puncheons of rum, bars of iron,
old anchors, coils of cable, droves of little, ragged, dirty children,
huddling about empty sugar hogsheads. Verily Jim had a time of it; he
was not naturally one of the hurrying sort. To get around and through
all these obstacles, and to keep his eye on the Major, at the same time,
required more activity than he had been accustomed to use.

After travelling in this way, as Jim fancied, a long distance, he
rejoiced to see the Major make a halt, and enter a large store, the
passage-way of which was blocked up with piles of tea-chests, casks,
bales, boxes, and men. Jim squeezed along behind the Major, who, opening
a glass door, entered a small neat room, where every thing was in
perfect contrast with the confusion without: a large double desk
occupied a considerable portion of the apartment; it was situated
between the two front windows, and covered with fine green cloth; every
thing upon it lay in order; each little paper seemed to be there by
design. The windows were clean, and the glasses on the shelf shone
brightly, and the floor was covered with white sand, and dust and
cobwebs appeared to have no license there. At the desk two young men
were busily employed with immense folios, working away in silence,
occasionally passing a word with each other in a very low voice, and
that only in reference to the work before them. A spell seemed to be
upon Jim as soon as he entered that room; he had never felt so before,
not even when first introduced into the parlor of Mrs. Morris; every
thing wore the appearance of so much exactness, every thing was done and
said in such a calm, thoughtful way, it was so still and orderly, it
seemed to Jim that matters of great moment alone occupied each mind.

Mr. Thomas was a large dealer; hundreds of thousands passed through his
hands every year, and his extensive business was managed by him with
perfect ease, because he had grown into it; unlike too many of modern
times, who, aiming to catch the golden shower, involve themselves in a
complication of difficulties, purchase without judgment, and sell at
random, only anxious that their books shall show, at the end of the
year, a large balance in their favor, whether realized or not.

He had begun in a small way, and gradually increased his business with
his means; never suffering himself to be allured by a tempting
speculation, nor to engage in any undertaking beyond what he could well
manage, he neither worried himself nor his friends. It was a busy place,
though, that store of his; from early dawn until late at night, there
was one continued round of active duty; but extensive as his sales were,
he despised not the most insignificant of his customers, bestowing equal
attention to him who wished to spend his hundred dollars, as to those
who yearly drew from his vast storehouse their tens of thousands. An
upright, manly course he had ever pursued; he was an honest dealer as
well as a wealthy merchant.

Major Morris knew well the man into whose hands he committed our young
merchant; and it required but a few words in private to interest Mr.
Thomas in his welfare, almost as much as he had himself been. The story
of the youth immediately took with him, and Jim's modest and intelligent
look added force to what the Major had related concerning him; and then,
when Major Morris left the office to attend to business of his own
elsewhere, he made Jim take a seat beside him, and with the familiarity
of a friend, drew from his own lips a rehearsal of all he had done, and
what he wished to do; inquiring into all the particulars respecting the
place where he lived. Jim had but a plain and simple story to tell; but
before he had finished, the heart of the merchant was so engaged in his
plan, that he thought of him not as a customer, out of whom he might
honestly make a small gain, but as one whom it would give him great
pleasure to direct and aid. What a priceless jewel is integrity of
heart! and happy is the youth who, trained to virtue, goes forth into
the busy paths of life to act his part. A mild but steady light
illuminates his track; his very countenance is radiant, and his plain,
simple speech, which tells the meaning of his heart, wins every honest
ear, and wakes a chord respondent in each noble soul; he needs no
varnished tale, no flattering words, no cringing bows; a better passport
to the confidence of all he carries with him, in his own honest purpose.

With much patience Mr. Thomas made out a list of such articles as he
thought would be the most saleable, and gave immediate directions to
have them carefully put up. He then opened to Master Jim such a method
of managing business, that he felt almost in a hurry--a thing Jim was
not often guilty of,--to start off and get to work. Jim was not given to
vanity; he had never felt that he had any thing to be proud of, but when
he saw the cart loaded with the different articles intended for him,
neatly marked with his name and place of residence, and when he received
his bill made out in the most particular manner, and receipted by the
clerk with a most significant flourish beneath the signer's name, and
when Mr. Thomas cordially shook his hand, wishing him all success, and
that he might have the pleasure of seeing him soon again, he was highly
gratified, and would not just then have exchanged his place and
prospects for any one he could think of.

Sam and Ned, although somewhat confused by Peter's directions, had
reached the fort a short time before the arrival of Master Jim with his
little cargo. It was a happy meeting between the brothers, for they had
never before been separated for a single night. How Ned stared, when he
saw the boxes, and bags, and barrels with Jim's name upon them! How he
would have shouted, if he dared, but Sam was close by him.

'Keep still, Ned; you know it won't do here.'

'But only to think, Sam, what a grand thing it is--only think, to have a
store, and people buying things, and all that; and you in a great vessel
bringing goods to us--hurra, Sam!'

'Do, for goodness' sake, Ned, stop; what will they think?'

Sam was in great perplexity; he felt that their character was in danger;
but Ned promised that he would keep in, at any rate until they were out
of hearing. Jim was fortunately out of the way, having gone with Major
Morris into the fort, to settle their business matters. Old Peter,
however, was a witness of the scene, and Sam had great respect for
Peter, and feared that he would be horrified at Ned's disregard of the
rules of propriety; but the old man shut up one eye, and screwing his
countenance into a grimace almost frightful, sat and shook his sides,
and worked away at his queue, making no noise whatever. Spasm after
spasm came over him and passed away; and whenever he looked at Ned, off
he would go again, shaking and wriggling and pulling at his queue, but
making no noise. At length, beckoning to Sam to come near, he whispered,

'He's full on it, I tell you;' and then another screwing of his face and
a hearty shake--'he's a real boy, every inch on him. I only wish the
Major had a heered him--how it come out, ha?' and then shake, shake,
went the old man's sides. Sam, however, was greatly rejoiced that the
Major was not there, and kept Ned very busy in stowing away the goods in
their own boat, and did not feel quite at ease, until they had left the
fort a good distance behind them.

There was business enough on hand now for all our boys. The little end
building was entered upon in earnest, and soon converted into quite a
respectable-looking store, except as to size; in that respect it had not
much to boast of. Sam labored with as much interest as either of them;
and as they were all too busy to converse much while the store was in
preparation, it was not until the evening of the second day after their
return, that they could get a chance for talking. As the weather was too
cold now to meet under their favorite tree, it was concluded, for the
future, to make the store their rendezvous.

'I tell you what, Sam, who would ever have thought of this six months
ago? It is a regular store--ain't it? There are the shelves and the
counter, and the barrels, and the canisters, and the scales, just as
Grizzle has them, and a great deal nicer. But that little desk which Jim
has fitted up so snug in the corner there behind the counter--that must
be some city style. I never saw such a thing round here--did you?'

'No; but it looks well--don't it? and that green cloth on it. Jim means
to have everything snug here--don't he?'

Ned did not reply, for Jim entered just then, and looking round with a
smile, took his seat opposite to them.

'Now, Jim, tell us all about your trip, and what you saw, and how you
managed, and where you bought the things, and all about it.'

'Oh, Ned; I cannot tell you half that I witnessed in that great city.
You must go there yourself one of these days; it is a great place, and
every one is busy, and all seem to be in a hurry to get along, as though
they had something to do that must be done at once. It was as much as
_I_ could do to get through the streets; but the gentleman to whom Major
Morris introduced me, treated me very kindly, and told me how we must
manage: said he, "You will find that the people in your place have got
very little money (which you know, boys, is true), and if they can only
buy for money, you will be able to sell very little. Now you must do
this: you must offer to take from them any thing they have for
sale--butter, eggs, yarn, wood--no matter what, in payment for whatever
they want to buy of you."'

'We should be in a fine fix then, Jim; what should we do with all the
stuff--they would only take a small part at the fort, you know.'

'Just wait, Ned, and you shall hear. "All these things," said he, "are
wanted in the city, and are as good here as money. As soon as you get a
supply of this kind of produce, load up your vessel and bring it to me;
I will either take it of you or dispose of it. You can get more for it
here than it is worth with you, and so you can make a profit both
ways."'

'Oh, Sam, did you ever hear the like?'

'But just wait awhile, Ned. He said also, "that as soon as the people
here found that they could purchase goods of us cheaper than they had
been accustomed to, and get a larger price for their produce than they
had ever received, which you will be able to do by trading here, you
will not only get all the business of the place, but they will be
stimulated to raise a great deal more, and so every year you will find
your trade increasing;" and he said, "before two years, you will require
a large sloop to do your carrying business."'

'Just hear that, Sam--hurra!'

'Now, Ned, keep quiet; it is not accomplished yet; and things may not
work just as Mr. Thomas thinks they will.'

'Oh, but I say, Jim, it will work--I know it will--hurra! Only to think
of it--a large sloop in two years--hurra! Why don't you hurra, Sam? You
will be captain of her--you know you will.'

'I could hurra, Ned, if it would do any good, for I feel as glad as you
do; but it is not always best to make a noise about it.'

Sam had not forgotten the alarm he had received from Ned's shouting a
few day's back.

'Well, I don't see what you and Jim are made of: where's the use of any
thing good, if a body can't let it out a little?'

Jim soon got Ned back to real business, by asking him to read over the
bill of goods, and call off the articles, while he and Sam examined
them, and placed them away in readiness for use.

We must now leave our boys, for a time, to try their new experiment, in
order that we may bring forward the other parts of our story.



CHAPTER XII.


Henry Tracy found himself surrounded by not only a large number of
scholars, but such as listened to him with the strictest attention, and
applied themselves to their tasks with unusual diligence. It was,
however, to him a sad sight, to behold so many of them, and some almost
his own age, commencing the first principles of education. The labours
which devolved upon him were arduous, but the more he found to do, the
greater was the interest he took, and the more untiring his zeal for
their benefit. He walked amid his little community with no lordly air;
great indeed was the disparity between his attainments and those of his
pupils, but he felt it not, or felt it only to humble himself before
God, that so superior had been his advantages.

His power over them was unbounded. An influence had been gradually
stealing over their minds, which caused them to listen to his
instructions as though he was a messenger from heaven. It proceeded from
the combined power of religion, intelligence, and refinement. He had, on
opening his school, gathered them around him in solemn act of worship,
and every day, morning and evening, he publicly commended himself and
them to God, and poured out from his feeling heart such warm petitions
for them all, that many a hard and careless youth would wipe away the
starting tear, although he could not tell why that tear had come. And
then through all the day he ministered to their intellectual wants, with
so much kindness in his manner, and so efficiently too; he threw around
him such a charm by his gentle, yet manly deportment, treating them with
the same respect that he wished to be observed towards himself, that the
most obdurate were soon softened. No harsh words ever escaped him, even
when their improprieties affected him the most keenly; nothing but the
expression of sorrow or surprise, brought out in that delicate manner,
in tones low and touching, which seldom failed to start the blush on the
cheek of the delinquent, and check at once whatever was wrong. Slowly,
too, but most effectually, an influence was stealing ever the parents.
It arose from the deep respect which they saw their children felt for
their teacher: it flashed upon them as they met him in his daily walks;
his lowliness, his pleasant smile, and his soft clear voice affected
them, they knew not why; and wrapped itself around their hearts. There
was no letting down of his own good manners, no seeming condescension to
their ignorance; he conversed with them as his equals, and poured forth
the thoughts which were uppermost in his mind, in as good language as he
could command; and he ever left an impression of his mental power and
moral worth that made them think and talk of him when he was gone, and
wish that their children at least might be like him.

The error which good Mrs. Bloodgood had fallen into in regard to the
calling of the young man, was soon cleared up, but not until she was,
herself, won to him; and as she could not get rid of some troublesome
remembrances of their first interview, she took the greater pains to
trumpet abroad continually her good thoughts concerning him now.

'Of all the men that ever I sot my eyes on, he's the best; he's an angel
on airth; he's clean too good for it, don't you think so, Aunt Sally
Cutter?'

'Why I don't know, Sally,' and the old lady straightened herself up, and
pushed her spectacles further on her nose; '_men_ is _men_, and there
ain't much angel about 'em, as ever I seed; but I 'spose he's as good as
most on 'em; but they are all clean took with him, and what do you
think?'--stretching her long arm out, and raising it over her
head;--'Cutter has taken it into his head now, that, preacher or no
preacher, he means to get him to hold some kind of a meetin' or other,
and he's gone this very blessed day with the old mare to the Widow
Andrews' to see him about it.'

'Do tell, Aunt Sally, it ain't true? has Uncle Sam gone, though? Well
that's jist what Bloodgood's been talkin' on; he'll be so glad; but,
poor soul, what good will it do him?'

It was indeed true; Uncle Sam Cutter had been long impressed with a
sense of the need there was for some public religious services; he had
in his youth been accustomed to mingle with those that kept 'holy
day,'--he had gone to the house of God with the multitude, and he had
never lost the savor of those solemn seasons; the remembrance came over
him as he toiled in his shop, or sat by his door in the deep shades of
evening; he mourned in secret that he had ever pitched his tent in
Sodom. Oh! how he longed once again to hear the peal of the church-bell,
calling the worshippers to the house of God; but he was now too old to
remove to strange places, or do much towards obtaining such privileges
as he felt were needed; and yet to think of leaving his family in such a
moral waste, without some effort to remedy matters, he could not. He had
listened attentively to all that his boys told at home about the
teacher, and he thought what a pity it was that some of the older
sinners also could not have the benefit of his prayers and instructions.
'We all need it bad enough,' he said to himself one day, as he sat on
his old block by the shop door; 'bad enough, bad enough. Oh dear me! to
think what a heathen set we are, goin' whip and cut to the Evil one, and
nobody to say "Whoa!" to us, no more than if we were fat sheep goin' to
the slaughter-house.' With that the old man began to fan himself very
fast with his straw hat, his lips moving all the while, as was his habit
whenever he thought hard. His train of ideas at last led to the
conclusion that something must be done; so ordering up the mare, he was
soon off for the Widow Andrews', resolved to lay before the young man
such a picture of their condition as would not fail to move him, 'if,'
said he, 'he has any bowels of mercy in him.'

The Widow Andrews was much surprised to see the old cart drive up to her
door, for her good neighbour, though a very kind man, was an indifferent
visitor. She did not wait for him to alight--a business never rapidly
performed--but ran out to the little gate, and with an air of great
wonderment looked up at the old man, as he sat dangling on the tail of
his carryall.

'What's the matter, Uncle Sam? there ain't no bad news, I'm hoping. But
do tell! what a pucker you're in; you are clean blowed, ain't you, Uncle
Sam? Do git down and come in, and let your boy tie the horse, and rest
you a bit, and take a little breath.'

The old man was somewhat put to it, for the old mare had not been
exercised of late, and she had several additional gaits to try that day,
and the road to the Widow's was none of the best.

'Is the teacher to home?'

'La me! what's to pay now, Uncle Sam? there ain't no turn up, I hope?
But it's jist what I've been a fearin'; he's too good for 'em, I knew
it, and I've told a good many on 'em so: he's jist an angel. Oh dear! if
you've come to have him druv away, Uncle Sam, it will break my heart,
and it will be the ruin of the place; and where will they ever git sich
another?' And the old lady began to wring her hands, and to run upon her
high notes at such a rate, that Uncle Sam began to be restless, and
making a desperate effort to get some wind into his speaking apparatus,
he let off at her in no very moderate terms.

'Do, woman, stop with your clatter; you'll frighten the mare, the next
thing, and she has a'most killed me a'ready; there ain't no need o' your
howling and caterwauling at that rate. Why, dear me! can't a body ax to
see the teacher, but you must set up all that noise and squalling? I
don't want to hurt a hair of his head; so jist put your hands down and
git into the house, and I'll come in to rights.'

So telling Dick to stop yanking the beast, as it only made her worse,
and to sit there and try to keep her quiet until he came out, he let
himself down, and puffing and blowing, from his sudden and extra effort,
he waddled through the little gate, and reaching the stoop, sat down on
the low broad step.

'Do please come in, Uncle Sam, and take a chair.'

'You please tell me, first, if the teacher is to home.'

'Why, you see, Uncle Sam,' coming up and almost whispering in his ear,
'he ain't jist to home, but he'll be here in a minute; he's gone to take
his evenin' walk down in the grove there. You see he goes out jist as
reg'lar as can be, every livin' day, right after tea, straight down to
the grove, and there he stays awhile, then back he comes agin; and Mary
and I have been tryin' to make out what it is he's a doin' all alone by
himself there. Mary says he's 'mantic like, as she calls it, but I don't
believe it's no sich thing. Do, la, there he comes, now; jist see how
still and quiet he walks along, that's the way he does every livin' day;
so come in, Uncle Sam.'

Mr. Cutter, however, much preferred seeing the young man, alone, and
chose to remain where he was. It was but a few minutes after the widow
had retired, that Mr. Tracy entered the gate, and seeing Mr. Cutter,
walked quickly up, gave him a cordial shake of the hand, which was as
cordially returned, and rather more so than his fingers could have
wished; and politely invited the old gentleman into his private room,
as Mr. Cutter had intimated his desire to say a few words to him.

It took the old man some little time to recover himself after the
operation of being ushered into a strange apartment, and getting himself
fixed in a convenient seat. And after he had revived enough to begin to
talk, a great many commonplace things had to be said before he could get
at the subject of his errand. To that however, he was finally led by Mr.
Tracy's remarking,

'That he began to be very much encouraged about his school, the boys
were attentive to their studies, and to all the regulations of the
school.'

'Yes, sir, I believe the boys is in a fair way now to learn decency and
manners, and may be something else; but I've been a thinkin', sir,
whether you couldn't do a little something or other for the rest on us
here, who are too big and too old to go to school.'

Mr. Tracy was at a loss to imagine in what way his assistance could be
required, but he ventured to reply,

'That any thing in his power, whereby he could be of service, consistent
with his present duties, he would gladly do.'

'Glad to hear you say so, for seeing you've got the larnin', there ain't
nothin' else in the way; and sure am I, if you knew half the need there
was to have somethin' done, if it is ever so little, just by way of
decency, if nothing more, you would be more willing than you say you
are. You see, my young friend, the Evil one has got a hard grip on us,
and nothin' but preachin' and prayin' will ever make him let go; and
even that won't do some of us much good if we don't have it soon. You
see I am an old man, it ain't long that I shall be hobbling about here.
I can't put off the evil day, as you who are just beginnin'; there are a
good many things that tell me that I am 'most to the bottom of the hill,
so you must not wonder if I feel a little anxious to have things more in
a righter shape than they are with me at present. And there are a good
many in all, just about as far on the road as I am; and for folks to be
livin' on the edge of the grave, and never hear a word about any thing
good; oh, my dear sir! if there is any pity in you, you'll begin right
off, and try to do somethin' for us.'

Henry Tracy was deeply affected by this address, for the old man spoke
as if in earnest, and the tears that rolled freely told how much he
felt.

'I cannot, perhaps, fully understand what you would have me to do, my
dear sir. You know that I am not at all qualified to preach, and whom to
direct you to I know not.'

'You can do all the preachin' that is needed, I ain't all afeared for
that. All you have got to do is to give out in the school, that next
Sabbath afternoon there will be a meetin' in the school-room, and all
can come that's a mind to. There ain't no need of nothin' further, and
God'll bless you for it.'

Mr. Tracy would have made very decided resistance, had he consulted his
judgment alone; but his own feelings were too much in unison with the
old man's; the want of public religious privileges he had begun to feel
most deeply, on his own account, and for the multitude around him. He
could not resist this appeal; with a humble yet resolute heart he
replied,

'Well, Mr. Cutter, I will do as you say; and may God assist me, and
grant His Spirit with us.'

'May the Lord bless your dear young heart!'

The old man could say no more, but with his heart overflowing with joy,
he arose, pressed the hand of Mr. Tracy, and in silence hobbled out of
the room and through the gate, and took his usual seat, waiting for his
son to untie the beast and drive him home.

The tidings that their young teacher was to hold a meeting on the
Sabbath day soon spread throughout the place; and when he proceeded to
give public notice to his school, it was only a confirmation to the boys
that the report was true.

It was a calm, lovely autumn day; and as Henry Tracy walked on his way
by the path which he had chosen for his daily route to the school-house,
his feelings were lulled into delicious repose; the rustling of the
leaves, the stillness that reigned in field and wood, the waning tints
of nature, the modest tones of the school-bell, calling all within its
reach to the place of meeting; the little groups which could be seen in
different roads, bending their steps thither; it seemed more like the
Sabbath day than any he had spent here yet.

He had done what he could to prepare himself, and he had a strong
consciousness of being in the path of duty; and he felt a composure in
view of the undertaking which he could not have anticipated. A few
persons were collected round the door; they immediately followed him as
he entered: to his surprise a large congregation was waiting his
appearance.

As he took his seat on a little platform that had been prepared for the
occasion, and cast his eye over the assembly, like a flash of light his
usually pale features were crimsoned with a deep blush, and then away it
flew, and a deadly paleness that alarmed every beholder came in its
place. A sympathy was excited in every bosom; his youth, his modesty,
his grace of manner, his unostentatious effort to do them good, like a
talisman spread its charm over all alike, and prepared them to receive
whatever he should say, with the deepest attention. Henry was obliged to
arouse himself, in order to overcome the oppressive weight that was
becoming heavier every moment; he therefore proceeded at once to the
business before him. He gave out a hymn, which he read with much
propriety, and then inquired if there was any one present who could lead
in singing; but as no one seemed ready to undertake, he commenced a
familiar tune. An electric shock could not have surprised them more,
than the melodious notes which rolled forth upon their delighted ears.
Henry Tracey was gifted--for a gift surely it was, as no power of
accomplishment could ever have imparted it--with one of those rich
voices which might have entranced the multitude on a public stage, but
its melodious tone had only rung beneath a parent's roof, and its
sweetest, most touching notes, had only been drawn forth in praise.
Quickened by the music, soon every voice that could follow joined fully
in; but above them all, louder and sweeter as the hymn went on, floated
those rich strains which Henry poured forth, as from a heart burning
with intense devotion. Enraptured, solemnized, softened, the whole
assembly, both speaker and hearer, were happily prepared for the
remaining services.

The prayer which followed was short and well ordered. He addressed the
Being before whom angels veil their faces, with that humility of
expression, with that pouring out of the heart in natural tones for a
sinner's necessities, which plainly showed he was making a petition for
wants which God alone could supply, and not framing forms of sentences
to interest or please man.

The passage of Scripture which he had selected was the story of the
Prodigal Son, a portion of that blessed volume peculiarly precious to
himself; and one with which he had become most familiar, and into the
touching scenes it delineated, he had entered with his whole heart.

In a very simple manner, he first explained the meaning of a parable,
and the reason why our Saviour chose this method of instruction. Being
well versed in ancient manners and customs, and the scenery of the
eastern world, he delineated and filled up what was necessary to convey
to the minds of uninformed persons, a perfect idea of the whole story.
Every eye was riveted upon him, and his energies were strengthened, as
he went along, by the deep interest which he saw was awakened among his
hearers.

When he had gone through with the story, and brought the prodigal back
to his father's arms, he then proceeded to show how clearly it
illustrated the sinner's erring path away from God, the fascinations
which drew him on, and the misery to which they lead. Here and there a
tear would be seen to start, and occasionally a head would droop: it was
evident that there were many before him whose real character he had
touched. At length he reached the turning point, the resolve of the
sinner in his extremity, that he will arise and return to his God. The
heart of the speaker filled with deep emotion; his voice trembled, his
language became more glowing, his words flowed rapidly; he forgot
himself, and free from all embarrassment, poured out the full feelings
of his soul. His excited audience sat wrapped in solemnity, and yielded
up their hearts to the enchanting theme: like fire in the stubble, the
flame flew from heart to heart; tears flowed freely, and when he ceased,
there was stillness like the house of mourning, interrupted only by the
stifled sob.

He sat down a few moments, and then informed them that the meeting was
over. Some arose, but stopped and looked wistfully towards the desk, as
though they might yet hear something more; others sat still and wept.
Henry prepared to depart; he walked slowly through the benches, preceded
by a few persons who were leaving the house.

As he approached the door, his hand was seized in a powerful grasp. He
looked round, and recognized at once his warm-hearted friend, old Mr.
Cutter. He sat on the end of one of the benches, and by his side was
Billy Bloodgood. Billy looked at him and nodded and smiled, while he
wiped away the tears that overflowed his twinkling eyes. Billy had not
heard a word, but he had a very tender heart; he was rejoiced to be
where God was worshipped, and when he saw all around him affected, he
yielded to the impulse, and wept too. Uncle Sam _had_ heard, and every
word had gone deep into his heart. It was no sympathy of feeling with
those around him, that caused the big tears to flow so freely; he
thought of none but himself and his God: his sinful lost estate had
been set before him: he knew it was his own, he felt it to be true. He
listened to the voice of the speaker, telling him of the love of God,
and inviting him to trust in it; he believed, and yielding to the call
of mercy, had cast himself into the arms of his Saviour, and found
peace. No wonder that he seized with such convulsive grasp the hand of
the dear youth. Henry fixed his eyes upon the old man; he saw his
emotion, he saw his lips quivering in a vain effort to speak. His own
heart ached, and tears came to his relief. Mr. Cutter made a desperate
effort, shaking the hand which he still held,

'God bless you! God bless you!'

Henry hurried away to his home.

Long was this day and this meeting remembered in the place. It was the
commencement of a great moral change; the darkness which had so long
brooded over it was rolled back, and the light that streams from
Heaven's mercy came to bless their spirits. A train of rich and lasting
benefits followed quick, and spread a charm over this long neglected and
desolate spot, which, from a dreary wilderness, converted it into a
garden of the Lord.



CHAPTER XIII.


Six years in the early part of our life makes a mighty change in our
personal appearance, the current of our feelings, and our course in
life. Childhood and youth are ever anticipating the fancied joys of
twenty-one, but that blissful period once past, and the goal reached,
how much of innocent and heartfelt happiness is left behind! But time
must on, and we must on with him, and meet each era of our being as best
we may.

Six years have made a vast change in the face of things within our
village. The little store, which Jim and Ned started in the wood-shed of
their mother's house, has been transferred to a large and commodious
building situated near the water, and contiguous to a wharf, where are
snug moorings for the good sloop Fanny, now under the command of Sam
Oakum. Along the shore, where the few fishermen's huts alone gave signs
of life in former days, are now decent dwellings. Docks and building:
the frames of vessels of various size are lying in their cradles; and
the noise of the lively hammer can be heard through the long summer day.
Young men, the former companions of our boys, are now engaged at their
trades, or preparing to man the different vessels when ready for a
voyage. Above the beach, and in the town more properly, as great a
change is manifest; old houses are neatly repaired, and new lines of
fences supply the places of the old, tattered inclosures; while here and
there, on sites commanding the finest views of the beautiful water
scenery, are mansions that bespeak the wealth and taste of their owners;
and, to crown all, a neat church sends up its lofty spire from a knoll
near the water's edge, the last object that holds the eye of the mariner
as he leaves this his native home to breast the stormy ocean, and the
first to bless it on his return, and bid him think of Him whose wonders
he has seen on the deep.

All these results have not been accomplished alone by those whose
youthful energies gave the first spring to life and activity in the
place.

Things had, indeed, gone prosperously with them. Their trade, although
small at first, rapidly increased; the opportunity they afforded the
inhabitants to dispose of their productions advantageously, soon
stimulated to increased cultivation. A display of goods from the city
introduced a better and neater style of dress, and that led to more
neatness in their dwellings, and every thing around them. The timber
from the barrens became an article of great demand; and those
comparatively valueless wilds bade fair to yield an immense revenue to
their owners.

But in addition to all this, a few wealthy families from other parts,
attracted by the pleasantness of the location, had come among them; and
with these was the early patron of our boys--Major Morris and his lovely
family. He had not retired from the service; for the sound of war was
rumbling in the distance, and dark clouds were fast rising on our
political horizon, and it was no time for a brave and good man to
withdraw from his country's need. But he was tired of the unsettled
manner of life to which he had been so long subjected, and resolved, so
soon as a favorable opportunity should offer, to retire, and enjoy the
sweets of home and domestic life. He had long admired the location, but
perhaps might not have decided to make it his place of residence, but
for an old friend of his--one whose life had been spent upon the ocean,
and who could no more be easy without the sight and smell of salt-water
than the fish who sport upon its sunny bosom--Commodore Trysail, a
bluff, high-tempered, warm-hearted sailor. He had won high honors early
in life, but for some cause, in an hour of excitement, had thrown up his
commission. He had amassed a handsome fortune since then by engaging in
the East India trade; and although never condescending to command even
his own ship, he had made several voyages to Bengal, attending solely to
business matters. He had now some fine vessels of his own, and having
relinquished all idea of going abroad, had resolved to locate where he
could enjoy what he had so long been accustomed to, without storms and
billows. Having visited the place, in company with Major Morris, he was
at once charmed, and they both decided to make it their home, and do
what they could to build up things around them. No wonder, then, if six
years has affected such an entire change in the aspect of things.

Mr. Grizzle was yet alive, and kept his old place, but his stock of
goods had not been replenished for some years. The advantage of the new
store were too many for him to compete with. Goods new and cheap, a
generous price for all country produce, respectability of character,
good manners, and perfect fairness in dealing, all these made the odds
too much for Mr. Grizzle to contend against. He gave it up. One corner
of his counter yet received a few visitors; for through the day could be
frequently seen some old tottering wreck of humanity, with bald head,
and long thin locks, stirring eagerly the ancient toddy-stick in a large
flowered tumbler, and then, with trembling hand, raising the much-loved
mixture to his longing lips, already quivering with age, and soon to be
at rest in the grasp of death.

There had been, for some time past, a little mystery about a
newly-erected house--and mysteries in small towns are always troublesome
things. It was a neat and pleasant cottage, finished with much taste,
and with every convenience for a small family. It had been placed on a
very pretty location, not far from the hut where Sam Oakum and his
parents lived, just on the rising ground which overlooked their humble
place of abode, and commanded a full view of the whole panorama of bay
and land and ocean, that stretched before the eye to the distant
horizon. The question could not be solved all the while it was building,
for whom this pleasant habitation was intended. Curiosity was on tiptoe;
it formed the subject for many a long gossip over cup of tea, and so
awakened the imagination of our good ladies, that all sorts of stories
were circulated in reference to it.

'Can any body tell me?' said Aunt Sally Bloodgood--as she sat pouring
out tea to a select party of her own, with a tea-pot in one hand and a
water-pot in the other, dressed in her new calico gown of the freshest
pattern, and no more looking like Aunt Sally when we first saw her, than
nothing at all. Casting her eye round, as she put the two pots down,
upon the inquisitive countenances of her neighbors--'Can any body tell
me whose that house is a building _for_?' and after looking round from
one to the other, her eye finally settled upon her good friend Mrs.
Cutter, as though she expected, if any body knew, she must.

'You needn't look at me, Sally; I knows nothing about it,' leaning her
long body over the table, and shaking her thin visage very
significantly. 'Cutter, you know, don't go about much, and when he does
hear any thing, he keeps it all to himself; a body has to ding their
life out to get any thing out of him. We have fixed our old house, so
that it is kind of snug like, so it ain't for us, no how; and who is
a-goin' there, the massy only knows.'

'They say,' said a very comfortable-looking personage, with very round
cheeks, and ample proportions--'they say, Mrs. Andrews, that your
William is a-building that 'are place for himself; and that he's a
coming back and goin' to be married to Hettie Brown, and they are to
live there.'

'Now did I _ever_!' and the Widow Andrews turned up her eyes towards the
ceiling--a common way with her--put her two hands together, and rested
them on the tea-table. 'I don't see what people mean; I ain't heered no
sich thing--have you, Mary?' appealing to her daughter, who sat beside
her, and began to move about in her chair, and to smooth down the very
stiff collar that encircled her neck. 'I don't see what people talk so
for; I believe they do a-purpose;' and the widow began to slide up on
her high notes, which at once aroused the energies of her daughter Mary.

'Oh, _do_ Mother! don't mind if they do talk; it don't hurt any body; it
don't make it so, you know;--does it, Mrs. Bloodgood?'

'Do la, no; and if it did, where's the harm?'

'Well,' said the fat lady, 'I guess you will all see: for every body
knows the two young folks is dead in love, and they say he's made a
power of money; only some say he won't have Hettie after all, jist
because she's been out to service.'

Mrs. Bloodgood now saw that the harmony of her party was like to be
destroyed, for the Widow Andrews was beginning to fan herself, and
breathe short; so like a skilful commander, she brought all her forces
to bear, in order to turn the attitude of affairs.

'Now, Aunt Peggy!' addressing the fat woman, 'do, la--I wouldn't talk
so. Folks say a great many things they don't know any thing about.
'William is a brave boy; and if he's got ahead in the world, I'm glad on
it; but who he will marry, or when he will marry, I guess there ain't
any body that knows. Don't you say so, Mrs. Andrews? But, do, la! Here
I've been a talking, and your tea is clean out; let me give you another
cup; and, Aunt Peggy, won't you hand round that plate of cake? and won't
you all help yourselves? and them baked pears, they are fresh and nice;
I did them up this very morning--but may be some of you would like the
preserves? Sally Cutter, you just hand the Widow Andrews that saucer of
preserves.'

The tea, and the cake, and the preserves, now demanded general and
particular notice; and between eating and drinking, and praising the
good things, and asking for receipts, a very delightful state of
confusion and loud talking about all manner of things, showed how
successful was Aunt Sally's effort to maintain the peace.

Nor was Aunt Sally Bloodgood's the only tea-circle that was disturbed by
this unaccountable affair. It was a great marvel, and the poor builder
actually lost the good-will of more than one of the tea-drinking old
ladies; but he did not seem to mind it, for he went on in a quiet way to
finish the thing. And when he had done that, he locked the door, put the
key in his pocket, shut the little gate, and went to work at another
job.



CHAPTER XIV.


Mary Oakum was in personal appearance a lovely young creature, and an
equally lovely spirit breathed forth in every word, sparkled from every
look, and shone forth embodied in her whole conduct. She had the same
black hair, the same flashing, deep-set hazel eye, the same laughing
mouth--she was a beautiful miniature of Sam, only replacing his
nut-brown complexion with a pure red and white. Mary was now seventeen,
not tall of her age, but gracefully formed, and very feminine.

Susan, the youngest sister, was in a different style; for her hair was
light, and her eyes blue, and her complexion, though fair, without
color. Although two years younger, she was nearly as tall as her sister,
with a serious cast of countenance that made her appear at times of an
equal age.

The parents and children still occupied the little house on the shore;
it was a very small, poor building, but they had kept patching it up the
best they could; and being very happy among themselves, they thought not
of its imperfections with any feelings of repining or discontent.

Sam was the delight of them all; parents and sisters hung upon him with
an ardor of attachment, looked up to him with a feeling of dependence,
confidence, and joy, which made him ever the light of their humble home
when present with them, and drew their hearts after him with almost
painful interest when absent.

He still wore his sailor's rig; was very neat in his dress; never
appearing among business men or at his house, in the same garb in which
he stood at the helm. How anxiously would his sisters watch for the
first glimpse of his white sail in the distance! and how elastic were
their steps, as they bounded from the house to meet him, as soon as they
descried their neat, trim sailor-boy, as they called him, turning the
angle in the shore near their house.

The day of his return had come, and Mrs. Oakum and Susan were busily
employed clearing away the relics of the early meal, and putting, if
possible, a brighter polish on every thing, when Mary came into the
room, arrayed in her very best, and in one hand she held a small green
bag, and in the other her sun-bonnet.

'Why, sister, whither away so early? Your new dress on too, your hair
arranged so neatly, and your best shoes and all. Where are you going to
make a call so early?'

'Oh, no call, sister dear! I am only going to the store. You know I lost
my thimble the other evening, and I thought I would get another before
Sam comes; he might want me to do something, and I should be sorry to
say I had no thimble.'

A deep blush spread all over Mary's white neck, and temples, and
forehead; the rich rose of her cheeks seemed, of an instant, to have
sent its crimson hue in all directions. Had Mary equivocated? Not in
the least; she had never learned that art. Was not the errand a lawful
one? Certainly it was; she told the truth in all its simplicity. She
wanted a thimble, and was going for that, and with no other motive
whatever.

It was simply a flash of truth that crossed her mind--it was elicited by
the remark of her sister in reference to her dress. Susan meant nothing
in particular; nor had Mary, until then, an idea that she meant any
thing in particular by what she had done.

We must look into things a little, however, while Mary is on her way to
the store; for she smiled, slipped on her bonnet, and was off.

Mary was but a few years since a laughing, little romping girl, and she
had grown up in great intimacy with a very staid and rather good-looking
boy. She had sat on his lap, walked with him by the shore hand in hand,
looking for pretty stones and shells; played hide-and-seek with him, in
company with her brother and sister, among the rocks by moonlight, and
even kissed him just as she did Sam, and thought no harm of it. She has,
to be sure, long since, eschewed all such things, and stands now upon
her womanly dignity. But this boy, although grown up to manhood, has not
grown out of her interest. When the playfulness of childhood passed
away, as by right it should, other feelings began to take its place. A
deep respect for his fine character, which shone brighter and brighter
as he grew up; an admiration of his manly appearance; a feeling of
gratitude for the kind interest he took in her brother; a desire to do
whatever she heard him say he liked; in fine, to assimilate her views
and feelings, her tastes and pleasures, to his, was the unconscious
desire of her heart.

But did any body know this? Not a human being. A mother's searching eye
may possibly at times have discerned a glimmering of the truth; but if
so, she had kept it to herself.

Did Mary know this? No, not as the truth itself must say she did; it was
a secret, within what she could see of her little heart, into which no
human eye had yet pried; but there it was. It did sometimes betray
itself a little--a very little: that blush which seemed to come without
a cause, which sent her off so quickly from observation, was just a
token that she was a little conscious--only a little--how the matter
stood.

And does he love her? If he does not, he ought to; for, let him look the
world over, he cannot find a purer, lovelier object to meet his earthly
happiness upon; he cannot find a soul that burns with an intenser ardor
towards each friend her bosom cherishes; he cannot find a heart that,
glowing with the purest earthly love, holds all its rich and priceless
treasures for himself alone, like her's.

But we must stop, for she has reached the store, and quietly walks up to
the side of the counter; passes a pleasant word with the few smiling
customers who are there before her, and receives a salutation from
Edward, who, busily attending upon those immediately before him, was
using his hand and his tongue with great skill and rapidity.

'Good morning, Mary, are all well at home to-day?' said James, stepping
from his place, and standing before her.

Mary looked up in surprise, for she had not yet glanced her eye to see
whether the graver senior partner was at his desk.

'All well--very well, I thank you.' His address, and the reply, were
delivered in a low tone, and he was leaning over the counter when he
spoke.

'Any demands to-day?'

'Nothing but a thimble;' and she smiled and held up her hand, preparing
to take off her glove. James immediately produced a little case, and
placed it before her, but she shook her head--

'These are silver--a common kind will answer me.' Another case was
brought, and James leaned over again, and began to select what, in his
judgment, should be about the size; but somehow he picked out of the
silver case alone.

'Just try this, Mary; none of those seem to fit you well;' and he gently
took the little hand, and placed the thimble on the taper finger.

'You will hardly do better than to keep that.'

'But it is silver, and I cannot afford to lose it; I am for ever losing
them.'

'You may be more fortunate with this, for it is a present.'

'Oh--thank you--thank you; it is a beautiful thimble. I shall be very
choice of it.'

'Because it is silver?' and James looked at her with rather a meaning
glance.

'Oh, no, not altogether; to be sure I should be sorry to lose this,
because--because it is more valuable,'--and seeing James beginning to
color--'it is not only silver, but it is a keepsake.'

All this passed in a tone that could not be heard amidst the din which
Edward and his customers kept up.

'I have news to tell you, likewise, and was on the point of walking to
your house to let you know that the owner of that building near you, and
about which there has been so much curiosity, is expected to arrive
to-day.'

'Then you have known who was the owner?'

'I suppose I may as well confess it.'

'And never told us?'

'You never asked me. The family I have long known; I esteem them highly,
and I think you will be much pleased with them, especially with the
eldest daughter.'

Mary was silent; she wished to ask several questions, but that _eldest
daughter_--somehow the words struck a chill to her heart; she was all at
once very thoughtful.

'Your brother and I are anxious to have things arranged before they get
here, and Sam particularly wishes that his father and all of you should
be there when they arrive, and I think,' said James, 'as you are to be
such near neighbors, it would be well to show them all kindness.'

'Oh, by all means; certainly, we will do every thing we can to welcome
them, as they are friends of yours; but--'

'But what, Mary?'

'Oh, you cannot be sure that they will wish to be very intimate with us,
our circumstances will be so different.'

'They are a family, Mary, that do not regard such distinctions. You will
love them--I know you will. I hope to enjoy their society much, and I am
sure you will too.'

'I will be there, as soon as I can, with the key; and if you are all
willing, we will go to work, and arrange things a little for them.'

'Oh, certainly; we will go with pleasure. Good morning.'

James accompanied her to the door.

'In an hour or so, I will be at your house. Good morning.'

'And I suppose he thinks the thimble will be a bribe to induce me to be
very polite to that _eldest daughter_; but he need not fear. I shall do
every thing I can to make it pleasant. The thimble I shall return when I
have an opportunity, and shall tell him that Mary Oakum could be kind to
his friends without--'

She could not say any more, and this she did not say--she only thought
it; and then she began to be very much ashamed that she had even thought
it. But there was a tumult in poor Mary's heart: at times she would hush
it, but then again it would arise, in spite of herself.

James came after a while with the key, but not so soon as he expected.
Mrs. Oakum and the girls accompanied him to the house; and as Mary
resolved to put down all selfish feelings, and to be very pleasant and
agreeable, every thing wore a cheerful aspect; for Mrs. Oakum and Susan
were delighted with the idea of seeing and becoming acquainted with
their new neighbors, especially as James gave such a favorable account
of them. He had to take a little scolding from Susan, but it was done in
such a good-natured way, that the harmony was not in the least disturbed
by it.

As they had never gratified their curiosity while the house was
building, as many had, it was all new to them; great was the admiration
expressed at the neatness, taste, and convenience of all its parts; the
rooms were so pleasant, and the view so charming.

'And what a sweet place this is!' said Susan, as they entered one of the
upper rooms; 'how gracefully those branches of the willow hang before
the window, and how beautiful the water looks through them, and the
church and the parsonage! It is the finest view from any part of the
house, is it not, sister.'

'It is very beautiful,' said Mary; and she sighed.

'Now, sister dear, what was that for? You don't feel sad that we have no
such place?'

'My dear sister, do you think I am covetous or envious?' And Susan threw
her arms around her neck, and kissed off a tear which she supposed her
suggestion had produced.

'Covetous, envious; no, indeed, dear Mary, forgive me, if what I said
led to any such idea; but I don't think I ever heard you sigh before.
Why was it, sister?'

'Oh, nothing. But we ought not to stay here, ought we, as there is so
much to do?'

And down they went, and to work with good-will. Mrs. Oakum was in the
kitchen, examining with an eye of one who knew well the comfort of
conveniences there; every thing needed was close at hand: a well of
water by the door, a shed for the wood, and such a beauty of a
milk-room, it almost smelled of cream and butter; and from the kitchen
you could look out upon such a love of a garden-spot, large enough to
raise all that a moderate-sized family could possibly want; while
opening into it and near the house was a neat little stable, of
sufficient size for a cow and a horse, with their provender.

'Some one,' said Mrs. Oakum, 'has contrived all this who knows what is
needful for the comfort of a family.'

James was very active, and showed great skill in distributing the
several articles into the different apartments.

'I guess,' said Susan, smiling archly, 'that one, who seems to know so
well where things belong, must have had something to do in getting them:
who knows,' said she, winking to Mary, 'but this house is for himself
after all; and that _eldest daughter_ he talks so much about is to
be----. Dear sister, I know you are not well, you are so pale; you have
worked too hard.'

'I am afraid she has,' said James, looking with much anxiety.

'Oh, not at all; I am very well;--but these things, had we not better be
putting them in their places?'

'These must be all for one room; they are, you see, painted white and
tipped with green,--the chairs, and the table, and washstand, they must
be for that little upper room. Don't you think so Mary?' said Susan,
catching up a chair.

'I think they would be suitable there,' said Mary.

'There they shall go then,' said James: and soon the little room was
furnished.

'Oh, is it not sweet?' said Susan. 'But mother is calling us to help her
with the carpet,' replied Mary, and down they went. Here, however, was a
difficulty; the carpet was in a roll, and there would be no time to cut
it and sew it together.

'It would take us a whole day,' said Susan, 'do our best.'

Mrs. Oakum, however, proposed that she should cut the breadths, and lay
them down, and some other day they would come and assist the family in
sewing it together; so Mary took out her scissors, and soon the floor
was covered; and as this was the best room, the furniture suitable was
arranged in it, and to the girls it seemed a grand place.

'And now,' said Mrs. Oakum, 'the rooms seem to be all provided with
their furniture, except the kitchen, and I don't see that there is any
provision made for that. What will they do?' looking from one to the
other. James smiled, blushed, and appeared confused, and was about to
say something explanatory, when the door was opened, and Mr. Oakum
entered, dressed in his Sunday suit; this he had put on at the request
of the girls. He informed them that the sloop was in, and that Sam was
on his way up.

Sam had no lack of kisses that day, and Mary even hung upon him more
fondly than ever; and Sam thought he saw a tear glistening in her eye,
but she wiped it away, and said--

'It was nothing.'

Ah, Mary! the world is full of such _nothings_; it is ever piercing the
heart of such sensitive beings as yourself, and forcing out the drops
that tell in mute but unmistaking language the aching within.

'So, Mr. Sam, you knew the secret all the time about the house?' said
his youngest sister, coming up and hanging on him for a kiss.

'Oh, you know, Susan, secrets are troublesome to ladies; I did not wish
to burden you, my dear.'

'Very generous it was in you. Oh, I wish I was strong enough to shake
you;' but as she was not, she caught him round the neck, and kissed him.

'But come in, and see how well we have arranged things. Will they be
here soon?'

Sam made no reply to Susan's last question, but followed her immediately
into the house.

They were all soon collected in the parlor, expatiating on the beauty of
the place, and were beginning to ask Sam a variety of questions, when
James all at once left the room; and Sam, drawing from his pocket a
packet neatly enveloped, his parents and sisters looked at him,
expecting some new disclosure.

'My dear parents: I have practised a little deception upon you, for the
first time in my life, which I hope you will pardon when you hear the
nature of it. This house, which you have been arranging, does not belong
to any stranger, as you have been led to think--it is all your own; and
here, my dear father, is the deed which makes it and the ground around
it your's for ever,' handing to his wonder-stricken parent the paper he
had in his hand.

Mr. Oakum took the paper, but was so overcome with amazement, that he
could say nothing; he looked at his wife, who, for a moment, sat with
her hands clasped before her, her eyes strained in their intense gaze on
her darling boy. She then sprang to clasp him in her arms, but the
girls were before her, and were hanging around his neck, and fairly
smothering him with their fond embrace. Sam put out his arms to receive
his mother, and she fell upon his neck, and burst into tears.

'Oh, Sam! my dear Sam! may God bless you for ever and ever.'

His father, overcome by the rush of his own excited feelings and the
outburst of affection on the part of the mother and sisters, dropped the
paper, and leaning on his hands, could only shed tears of joy. It was
not the beautiful gift--valuable as it was--nor the sudden flow of
prosperity, that raised them at once from a poor and decayed tenement to
a dwelling equal in respectability to the best in the place; thoughts
far richer to a parent's heart were thrilling his bosom, and working up
his feelings into intense and overpowering emotion. To find in the man
who stood before him in his strength and ardor, the same kind, loving,
feeling fondness that the boy had manifested--in fine, to know that
prosperity and manhood had not changed his boy--it was enough: earth had
no better good, heaven could give no richer earthly solace. And could
that son have heard the thoughts which rose in gushing ardor to the
throne on high, and could his vision but have burst the veil which hides
that secret place where thoughts are registered, he would have felt that
a recompense already had been treasured for him beyond the reach of
venture or decay.

Sam had made but little calculation as to the effect of this surprise,
either on his parents or himself. He had often, in boyish days, even
when all around was dark and forbidding, amused himself with visions of
the future, of all that he might be and do, and in every fancy sketch,
his mind portrayed for the comfort of his parents; the joy which, in
some unexpected way, might be infused into their spirits, was ever the
prominent figure in the scene. This object, now so happily accomplished,
had been his aim for years: for this he had resisted his inward impulse
to go abroad and visit distant climes, and seek a fortune more genial to
his bounding spirit; steadily had he pursued his calling, and faithfully
labored and stored away his earnings with almost a miser's care, to
gratify this heaven-born, filial love, and in some hour of exquisite
delight enjoy his long, long-treasured wish. And now that hour had come.
He had opened the floodgates of happiness upon these dear objects of his
affection, and was overpowered himself. He sat down beside his mother,
and mingled his tears with her's.

But why has Mary left the scene? and why has she gone with such haste to
that little upper room? and why does she clasp her hands, and raise her
eye to heaven, and shed such tears as now overflow those long dark lids
and bathe her lovely cheek? Another token these of that deep feeling
which her secret heart so long has nourished; that room is pleasant now,
for hither she has come, in this moment of heart-felt bliss, to pour out
her heaving thoughts in gratitude to God; and there she hopes, in days
and years to come, to send up the incense so pleasing unto Him who loves
a contrite heart.

Mary had much to think of; no longer could she hide from herself the
fact that she loved James Montjoy; and every word which he had said, and
which had caused her so much inward pain, was now a source of new and
heart-felt joy, and it was impossible for her to misunderstand those
allusions which so plainly pointed to herself; and yet she would say,
'He was only in jest; he knew it must all come out--he meant nothing by
it, nothing particular.' Thus ruminating, and with a happy heart, she
passed lightly down the little staircase and along the hall, as James
was returning from a stroll in the garden, to which, out of delicacy for
the feelings of the family, he had retired, just as Sam was about to
make the disclosure.

He put out his hand to congratulate her upon the happy surprise;
overcome with the scene she had just passed through, and the rush of
feelings at the sight of him, she extended her hand, and burst into
tears.

As James entered the parlor with Mary, the scene had to be in some
measure renewed; for he was so identified with all the prosperity they
had enjoyed, that a sight of him under present circumstances but added
to the full tide of feeling.

'Oh,' said Mrs. Oakum, 'this has been all your doing.'

'By no means, my dear madam; Sam alone has devised it, and his own
honest earnings have paid the cost.'

'Yes, I have no doubt of that, and Heaven's blessing he will have for
it; but you first took him by the hand and encouraged him, and--'

'Oh, Mrs. Oakum, we will not go so far back now; and besides, I could no
more have done without Sam than he felt he could do without me; but we
must clear up our faces and prepare for company, for this matter will
fly like the wind when it gets abroad, and you will have the whole town
here to see you.'

Commodore Trysail was one of those specimens of humanity with which we
occasionally meet, where a rough exterior and a blunt manner conceal a
warm and tender heart. In all matters of business he was prompt,
correct, and very decided; a little tenacious of authority when he saw
any disposition to slight his orders, but allowing great latitude
whenever he knew there was a desire to please and obey him.

Old Peter, who had accompanied the family of Major Morris to their new
residence, was quite a favorite with the Commodore; and as the two
families were but a short distance apart, with the exception that Peter
had his hammock slung in one of the Major's out-buildings--he was as
much at home at one house as the other.

It was one part of Peter's business to watch the coming in of the mail,
and see that the letters and papers for either family were distributed
in the quickest possible time; also to attend upon the departure and
arrival of the sloop, as there was always something to go or come by
that conveyance, it being the only regular one to and from the city.
This part of Peter's duty he performed with special pleasure; Sam had
ever been a favorite of his, and he never tired of telling over what he
knew of him when a boy, and extolling his fine appearance, his activity
and his correct conduct in all things, now that he had grown to be a
man.

Between the Commodore and Peter Sam was often a subject of conversation,
until all that Peter knew of his favorite had been many times repeated.

On this day, so distinguished in the life of his hero, Peter not only
brought along from the boat quite a number of parcels, but he had also a
weighty cargo of news, which he had gathered on his way back. After
giving Lady Morris, as he always styled her, the first of the tidings,
he hastened to the Commodore's as fast as his crutches would carry him.

It was a warm afternoon, and the Commodore was seated in his veranda on
the shady side of the house, enjoying the cooling view of the expanse of
water spread out before him, and the gentle breeze that scarce moved the
long branches of the willow that hung above and around him, when he
heard the well-known sound of the crutches stumping along the hard
gravel path at double quick time. Peter was so much out of breath, and
so excited with what he had to tell, that after he had reached the stoop
and taken off his hat, and smoothed down his queue and made several
obeisances, he could only stammer out,

'Your honor--'

The Commodore looked at him with no little surprise, for the preparation
Peter had made betokened quite a long yarn.

'A warm day, Peter.'

'Very, your honor;' and Peter fumbled away at his queue, and twisted his
quid to all sides of his mouth.

'You are out of breath, Peter; what is the haste to-day? any news
stirring?'

'Great news, your honor, great news.'

'Is war declared, or has the comet lost its tail? let me hear; out with
it, Peter.'

'No war, your honor, God forbid: and I guess the comet is whizzing away
yet, though we can't see him by daylight; but your honor knows that
picture of a house up along the bank there--'

'Ay, ay--what, the house that has no owner? and a pretty box it is; what
of it, Peter?'

'But it has got an owner, and who does your honor think it is? Our
Captain Sam; he's built it 'spressly for his father and mother, God
bless him! and he's rigged it all up for 'em, and he's put 'em in it
this blessed day, and there they are, as happy as your honor was in a
tight, new ship. And now he says, "Good-by to the old sloop, Peter; I've
got the old folks snug and happy, and now I am going to steer my way on
the broad ocean, just as you have always been wishing me to do." That's
just what he said, your honor. God bless him.'

The Commodore was a match for Peter with the tobacco any day, and
whenever a little excited, was sure to clap his finger and thumb into
his vest pocket, where there was generally a supply ready cut up of
suitable length. As Peter concluded his tale, the Commodore began to
fumble for a charge.

'Peter, I'm out; hand me that bit of yarn you are cutting from.'

'Bless your honor, not this; no, no;' and taking out a package that had
filled the whole capacity of his jacket pocket, 'here is some, your
honor, the boys have put up for me to-day (Peter had the run of the
store free), bless their kind hearts. It's bran new, your honor; take it
all, and welcome.'

Having untied the roll, cut off a liberal allowance, and given two or
three squeezes to the delicious morsel,

'Do you say, Peter, that he has built that handsome place for his father
and mother, and furnished it, and given it to them out-and-out?'

'It's God's truth, your honor.'

'Well, Peter, all I can say is, that he has got more of a sailor's heart
in him than I thought he had; and do you think that is the reason why he
has been shoaling along shore here, when we have all been wondering why
such a smart young fellow didn't try to climb a little higher in the
world?'

'Nothing else, as sure as that water is runnin' to the ocean. I always
tell'd your honor, Capt. Sam would come out bright; he wasn't never made
for a land lubber, your honor: his heart is too big, too big for that, I
always knowed it was.'

'And I suppose the old folks are very happy. Did they know of it
before?'

'Never, your honor, till this blessed day; and when I com'd along by
there, Miss Mary came runnin' out; 'Come in, Peter, come in and see our
new house;' and so in I goes, and sich a sight your honor never see;
there was the mother with the tears a runnin', and the father lookin' as
if he had been standin' eight-and-forty hours facing a nor'wester, and
the galls and all hold on me, and showing me every thing, and making me
eat and drink; it's the happiest family, your honor, I believe there is
at this moment on the breathin' earth; I was no better than a baby
myself, your honor.'

'Peter, do you go this minute, do you hear?'--Peter had like not to have
heard, for he was on his way going somewhere, he knew not exactly for
what--'and tell Harry to rig up the carriage, and--do you hear, Peter?'

'Ay, ay, sir.' Peter was hardly within hailing distance.

'Tell Mrs. Morris that I shall call for her.'

'Ay, ay, sir.'

'Bless my soul! he's a fine fellow.' The Commodore was now walking up
and down very fast: 'Something must be done for him; he must let that
old sloop go to the ----;' the Commodore was not always particular
where he sent things, so that they were out of his way.

There are green spots in this world of ours, which tempt us to forget
that it is a fallen world, and point us, in their exhibition of true
enjoyment, to what it might have been, and what it may yet be. There are
pleasures that seem so unalloyed by selfish, earthly dross, we almost
feel the breath of heaven fanning our spirits while we mingle in them.

Such was the bright and pleasant scene that Sam had lighted up within
that circle of domestic love, his home.

Nor was there any lack of friends that day to greet them kindly, or to
sympathize in their joy. The tidings soon spread, as James said they
would, and neighbor after neighbor came dropping in, some, no doubt, to
gratify their curiosity, but many, many more to give utterance to the
joy they really felt.

It was about the middle of the afternoon when the equipage of Commodore
Trysail drove up. The old gentleman was a sailor, and not very
particular when dealing with men, at least not always so, to polish
either his language or his manners; but in the company of ladies he
never forgot the respect due to them; he was mild and courteous, no
matter how humble the individual or the circle to which he was
introduced. Mrs. Morris was no stranger to the family; she had often
visited them in their lonely home, and by her affable and kind manners
had won their hearts.

No wonder, then, that the girls ran with such haste to welcome her, and
conducted her into their new abode with feelings, if not of pride, at
least of heart-felt pleasure. She kissed them as they met her at the
door.

'I wish you joy, my dear good girls, with all my heart. Mrs. Oakum, I
congratulate you on your entrance into such a pretty home; it is a sweet
place; but it must be doubly sweet and precious to you under all the
circumstances.'

Mrs. Oakum could not reply; tears alone responded to the kind greeting.

'But where is that noble fellow, Sam? I must call him so yet--where is
he?'

'He has run away. Do you think, Mrs. Morris,' said Mary, 'he found the
neighbors began to come in, and off he went.'

'Do you tell him for me, he's a pretty fellow; and that I shall expect a
visit from him expressly in return for this.'

The Commodore had been detained at the door a moment, in offering his
whole-soul congratulations to Sam's father. As he entered the room, Mrs.
Morris formally introduced him to the mother and sisters. Bowing very
low to Mrs. Oakum,

'Madam, I do not wonder that your feelings are excited; he is a noble
boy, and you have every reason to be proud of him.'

'He has ever been a dear, good child, sir.'

'Yes; I have no doubt of that, madam; and I suspect he has had a dear,
good mother. Ah! it is these mothers that make men what they ought to
be. I had a dear, good mother once. I never shall forget her; she taught
me a great many good things, when she used to lean over me in my bed.
What a different man I should have been had I minded her; but, thank
God, I hope I have not forgotten them all.'

A tear might have been seen bedewing an eye that had met the shock of
battle, and the rush of the tempest, without a twinkle.

'But, bless my soul! are these two cherubs your daughters?--a kiss,
girls; a kiss.'

There was no affectation in their honest hearts, and they received a
hearty salutation without blushing any more than might have been
expected.

'Do you think, Commodore,' said Mrs. Morris, 'our hero has betaken
himself away!'

'The rogue! I wanted to have given him a good sailor's squeeze; and to
tell him how happy I am to find that he has a true sailor's heart. But I
see how it is; he had rather do a good deed than be praised for it. Will
you tell him for me, madam,' turning to Mrs. Oakum, 'that I should be
pleased to see him at my house as early to-morrow morning as his
engagements will permit? Again, allow me, madam, to wish you much
happiness in your new abode, and many, many years to enjoy it in.'

The Commodore bowed to the whole circle, and offering his arm to Mrs.
Morris, led her to the carriage.



CHAPTER XV.


'Mr. Oakum, good morning to you; you will excuse me for omitting your
title; although, if you must have it, I should prefer the one which
your old friend Peter has adopted, and call you Captain Sam. I am glad
to see you, sir; walk in.'

All this was said at the door of the Commodore's office, and while he
was shaking the hand of the young man with great cordiality. This office
was a small addition to his handsome mansion, jutting out from one end,
and into which was an entrance externally and independent of the passage
in the main building.

Sam had made the call at the office door, and was met with the greeting
as stated above.

There was a great disparity in their personal appearance, and yet either
of them would have been handsome models to represent their different
ages and standing in society. The Commodore's large, full, portly form,
ruddy face, dark-gray eyes and powdered hair, would well represent the
retired commander of sixty-five: while the trim and agile frame, the
sun-burnt face, the raven locks, the sparkling, hazel, deep-set and
deeply-shaded eye, would have answered well the idea of a young
adventurer, ready to commence the untried dangers of the deep. Sam was
decidedly a handsome fellow; and whether his sisters had been fixing him
out that morning, I cannot say, but he was dressed with much care; too
much, some might think, for his calling. It was, however, of the true
sailor fashion; and if, when engaged in his work, he was a whole man, we
can leave such matters to his fancy.

'You will excuse me, Mr. Oakum, for requesting you to call upon me, or
for the inquiries I may put to you; as I have a plan in view, which I
should think would be more congenial to a young man of your abilities,
than dodging back and forth in that little sloop.'

'I am very happy, sir, to wait upon you, and will very thankfully listen
to any views you may please to communicate.'

'First, then, I wish you to state what are your plans for the future. I
have heard through Peter--I give you my authority--that you design to
leave your present business. If you have no objections, my young friend,
make a clean breast to me; I want to hear all about you.'

Sam smiled. 'Why, sir, to tell you the truth, I am really tired, as you
say, of "dodging about in the sloop;" but hitherto duty has kept me at
the helm very much against my inclination.'

'Glad to hear you say so. Duty, sir, is a glorious master, although
sometimes he drives us sadly against our wills. Then you have resolved
to start upon a new course?'

'I have, sir.'

'But the sea will be a new business for you. Your cruise along shore
cannot have fitted you for what you will meet with there.'

'I have anticipated that, sir; and have already made three short
voyages.'

Sam saw that the Commodore appeared much pleased with this information.

'Since you have so kindly requested me, sir, to tell you my past doings
and present plans, I will presume upon the permission, and do so.'

'That is just what I wish, sir.'

'The sloop, which seems of late to have been a trouble to many of my
good friends, besides the kind-hearted old Peter (Major Morris had not
been backward to drop some broad hints in reference to it), was once the
object of my highest ambition; but like many objects when attained,
seemed only as a stepping-stone to something after which my imagination
panted, and for which, I must confess, I have been at times too
restless. But an end I had in view, and which I saw I could accomplish
by retaining my situation in the sloop, has enabled me to continue at my
post, although I must say against my fancy.'

'Yes, yes; and let me tell you, my young friend, it was a noble end, and
you will be a gainer, a great gainer by it in the long-run; but'--seeing
that Sam was blushing very much, and apparently getting into a state of
confusion--'pardon me for interrupting you; please go on, and tell me
the whole story.'

'Intending, so soon as that object was accomplished, to launch forth and
push my way upon the ocean, I embraced an opportunity afforded me,
during a season of the year when our navigation is obstructed, to make a
short voyage. Three several times I have been, and the last was of
peculiar advantage to me; for, experiencing a hurricane just after we
left Havana, the captain and chief mate were washed overboard by a heavy
sea that swept our decks, and the second mate did not know enough to
keep the reckoning; so at the request of all hands, I took charge of the
brig, and, although we encountered two severe gales, brought her safely
into port.'

The Commodore rose, and walking across the room, turned, and fixed his
keen eye full on Sam.

'You ought to have been handsomely rewarded for that, sir. Was no notice
taken of it by the owners or the under writers?'

'Oh, yes, sir'--and Sam drew forth a fine gold watch--'this is their
token, but I should have preferred the offer of the brig; she was a fine
vessel, but I suppose they had friends who laid a stronger claim than I
could.'

'Thus, you have no hesitation as to your ability to take sole command of
a vessel to any quarter of the world?'

'I have not, sir.'

'And you are willing to do so?'

'I am very anxious to do so, sir, if I can find any owners willing to
trust me.'

The Commodore resumed his seat.

'Mr. Oakum, you must be well aware that our country is at present in a
critical situation. War is inevitable. I think so--I am confident of it.
The danger, then, in commercial navigation, will be of a very serious
nature. I am, as you know, somewhat engaged in the trade to China; two
of my vessels are now on the way there; one of these will not return for
some time, and the other is to receive a cargo in the usual manner, and
will probably be back a little short of one year; but I fear, that
before six months come round, we shall be at war. I must make what
preparation I can to secure my personal interest against an evil which I
foresee. My design is to hasten the return of one of my ships with her
cargo, by all possible means. You know that I have just completed a
beautiful schooner; she will sail like a witch. I have resolved to send
her express to China, and I now offer you the command of her.'

Sam arose, and was about to thank the Commodore for the generous offer.

'Please be seated, Mr. Oakum, you have not heard the end of the story
yet. I have business of importance to be attended to in China, and the
captain of the ship I design to order back must remain there, and you,
sir, will take his place. On your arrival out, you will find yourself
master of as fine a ship as swims the ocean.'

Sam could contain himself no longer; he arose from his seat.

'Commodore Trysail, I know not how to express the deep sense I feel of
obligation to you--it is the happiest moment of my life, sir.'

The Commodore grasped the hand of the young and ardent sailor, and was
delighted to see the flash of joy and pride that sparkled forth from his
bright eye.

'You may thank yourself, Mr. Oakum, and the manly efforts you have made
to improve your advantages.'

Just then the office door was gently opened, and a shaggy head appeared,
nodding very significantly, but saying nothing.

'Well, Peter, any thing new stirring?'

'Why, I thought your honor would be pleased to know that the Major had
arrived, and the young lady.'

'What, has Major Morris returned, and Susie with him? that is good
news.'

Peter's head was immediately withdrawn, and he was heard stumping it
away at a rapid rate.

'It will be no child's play, Mr. Oakum, as you will find, bringing that
vessel home; for I am determined, war or no war, that you must get her
into port at all hazards, and if I did not think that you would prove a
man in the hour of extremity, depend upon it, sir, I should never
confide such a trust to you. The risk of loss I expect to run; and after
you have done your best, should you fall into the enemies' hands, you
will not be in the least to blame. The management of every thing in
reference to this matter I leave entirely to yourself. My schooner is
ready for you. She is under your command; select your own crew, and
hands enough to make a double crew for the ship on her return.'



CHAPTER XVI.


Mr. George Rutherford, as I have hinted in a former chapter, was
becoming entangled in his pecuniary circumstances. He had no fears as
yet that he should not be able to pay every obligation, and have a
competency left; but his sensitive spirit was keenly alive to that kind
of humiliating deference which is always more or less demanded and
received by those who, more calculating in their habits, keep their
capital at command, and are enabled to exchange their ready money for
the borrower's security.

But whatever annoyance or inward torment he suffered was carefully
concealed within his own breast; he could not bear to throw a shade over
the bright and joyous heart of his wife.

It was, however, impossible that one who loved with such entire
devotedness, should not perceive when some dark and troublous cloud lay
upon the object of her affection. Often would she come to him as he sat
musing, at the close of day, and ask--

'What is it, George! does anything trouble you? these wrinkles are truly
beginning to be permanent. Do tell me, and let me share it with you.'

And then he would smile, and kiss the fair hand, and say--

'Nothing, dear Mary; nothing worth telling; there are a thousand little
vexations and cares in life, you know, which help to make the marks upon
us, I suppose, and thus show that they have been. Nothing, dear Mary.'

But by degrees accumulated strokes began to bear most seriously upon
him; his property melted away by little and little; at one time an
unwise act of friendship, at another an unsuccessful negotiation in
trade, or may be, a sharper's trick; there seemed to be always some
cause at work to drive away his means.

He had become largely implicated in establishing a store near to the
property he owned in the barrens, in order to afford an opposition to
Mr. Cross, hoping thereby to alleviate the condition of the poor
laborers; but the person who managed the business proved to be no match
for the wily Cross, and it only served to excite his adversary to bitter
revenge.

He had, also, become involved more seriously than he as yet had any idea
of himself, with a Company that were engaged in working a quarry.

The prospects held out to him were very flattering, as such things
usually are when presented by interested and designing persons; but as
each year passed by with no profit realized, and a fresh demand for
money to carry on their operations, too confiding to suspect those whose
bad management ought to have awakened his doubts, he suffered his purse
to be drained, and, worse than all, suffered his name and credit to be
used.

Manfully had he borne up under all his reverses, shrinking from no loss
nor responsibility, which, however unwisely brought upon himself, was
still his own act, and, therefore, sacred as his honor.

At length a storm, he saw, was rising fast, and spreading its dark and
gloomy mantle over him. He could not avert its fury; but with fortitude,
with a firm determination to maintain his integrity, he awaited the
catastrophe.

The first blow which came with much severity was in the failure of
Bolton, the individual whom he had established in trade near the
barrens. Many were involved in that calamity, and he was compelled, in
order to meet the demands which would be made upon him in consequence,
to use all his means and his utmost ingenuity to maintain his credit,
now become of vital importance to him. Troubles, at times, overtake us
like the tiding-bearers to the Patriarch of old; scarce has one sad tale
been uttered, when another is ready to begin.

Mr. Rutherford had passed a sleepless night; the long hours had been
spent in running over the sad circuit of his misfortunes, and in
endeavoring to extricate himself from the tangled maze in which he was
involved. His wife would most willingly have been the partner of his
cares, and spent the day and night in labor, either of body or of mind.
But no--he must not, he cannot disturb the quiet of her bosom; he will
yet, he fondly hopes, weather it through, and she shall never know the
struggle his spirit has borne. And thus it would have been, and thus his
proud and tender heart would have ached in secret, and cloistered all
its trials, until it broke beneath the accumulated load; but a kind
Providence was watching around his sleepless bed, and knew all that he
could bear, and was preparing the way that would, in spite of himself,
break open his secret sorrows, and compel him to unbosom himself to her
whose gentle spirit would pour out its sweet consolations into his
troubled heart, brace up his worn-out feelings, and lay them calmly to
rest amid the soothings of love; earthly, it may be, but a bright emblem
of that in which the weary soul will sweetly repose when the trials and
toils of life are over.

The watching and busy thoughts of the night past were too visible the
next morning to escape the eye of love; and as his Mary entered the room
where he was seated, waiting for their early meal, she could not help
saying to him,

'You are sick, dear George; I know you are.'

Before he could reply there was a knock at the door, and Mr. Rutherford
was summoned into an adjoining apartment.

The gentleman expressed his regret for the business upon which he had
come; he handed to Mr. Rutherford a paper, which proved to be an
attachment upon his beautiful homestead, and the land connected with it.

'You have, no doubt, heard, sir, that the Quarry Company has gone to
pieces; and as you appear to be the only responsible one among them, the
person named in that paper, and to whom they are largely indebted, feels
compelled to take this step, although very reluctantly.'

This explanation was sufficient; Mr. Rutherford perceived the dilemma to
which things had at length come. His visitor, having no further
business, withdrew; and as he closed the door upon him, he retired again
by himself, and was seated by a table with the paper in his hand, when
his wife entered the room, and closed the door.

'My dear George, you must let me know what is the matter. You cannot
hide from me, that there is some great trouble upon you. Tell me, my
dear husband, tell me what it is'--and she threw herself upon her knees
before him, and clasping her arms about him, looked up with intense
interest beaming from her dark hazel eyes.

'We are ruined, Mary! my property, the inheritance of my ancestors, is
all, I fear, to be swept away from me.'

'And you have known this, George, a long time, and have been bearing the
trouble all alone in your own breast. Why have you done this, and not
let me be a sharer of your sufferings?'

'Oh, Mary, how could I do it? It was out of your power to stop the
torrent I have been contending against, and I could not bear to disturb
your quiet.'

'My dear George, how little do you understand of a woman's love; bright
and pleasant things do not always satisfy its warm desire. I had rather
suffer with you, and for you, my dear husband, the sharpest pangs, and
feel the direst vicissitudes of life, if I could only prove to you, how
much dearer to me is your love than all things else on earth.'

As she said this her eyes were filled with tears, and told so truly with
the words she had just uttered, all the meaning of her soul, that he
clasped her to his bosom.

'My love, my life, my heart's richest treasure! may God bless you for
all the comfort you have been to me, and for all you are now.'

Sorrow, thou child of sin, strong and terrible as is thy power, and
crushing as is the weight of thy hand when pressed on no worms of the
dust, yet know thou, there is an antidote, a precious gift of Heaven,
when by man's sin all blessings which his God had given were justly
forfeited--this antidote is love; when fixed on God, it bows the spirit
into childlike confidence, clinging closer to the heavenly hand the
heavier the blow. And when two kindred souls on earth have merged their
hopes, their fears, their interests, their warm desires, their whole
hearts' sympathies in one strong true embrace, there is so much of
heaven's own happiness in it, that spite of all the anguish under which
at times they bow, this sweet and subtile charmer steals within, spreads
a calm upon the bosom of the waters, hushes all to peace, and bids them
still be happy.

And now she sits beside him, and he tells her all his strange trials,
and how dark his prospects are.

'It must all go, Mary.'

'Well, my dear husband, let it all go; your own sweet spirit is
unstained by one wrong or mean act; you have never withheld a righteous
due; you have never ground the face of the poor; you have never
triumphed over those beneath you; you have rather tried to raise them to
your own level: and now let poverty come, it cannot sink our spirits, so
long as there is no blot on your fair fame, and no stain on your
conscience.'

Rutherford was manly in his feelings, but he could not repress his
starting tears. His lovely wife, without a sigh, had let go all that
wealth could hold out to her, and only thought of her husband's virtues.

'Yes, Mary, that is true. I believe I can truly say with Job: "If I have
withheld the poor from their desire, or have caused the eyes of the
widow to fail, or have eaten my morsel myself alone, and the fatherless
have not eaten thereof: if I have seen any perish for want of clothing,
or any poor without covering, then let my arm fall from my
shoulder-blade, and mine arm be broken from the bone."'

'I know it, my dear husband, I know it; and as you have acted in the
fear of God, his strength will be our refuge.'



CHAPTER XVII.


The shades of evening had settled upon that retired spot, the stronghold
of Mr. Cross up in the barrens. The doors and windows of his long, low
building, were closed; a light was burning on the counter, beside which
were seated the owner of the premises and a companion, very unlike him
in appearance, whatever similarity there might be in the temper of their
hearts--Mr. Cross having rather a round and plump carcass, with cheeks
filled out, and bearing the hue which a liberal allowance of gin and
water usually imparts. The other was altogether of the mummy order; his
body thin and bent over, his limbs long and bony, with a loose furrowed
visage, which looked as though it might once have been supplied with
flesh, but its substance having melted away, the outer covering now hung
flabby and puckered under his chin and beneath his cheek-bones and at
the corners of his mouth; his hair was grisly, and stood far off from
his wrinkled forehead, which was broad and high enough to indicate the
presence of intellect, or at least room for it; the colour of his eyes
it would be hard to determine, for they were very small, and the thick,
heavy eye-lashes twinkled so continually, it was almost impossible to
catch a glimpse of them. A bottle of gin, a pitcher of water and two
tumblers stood on the counter, close beside them; and from this we may
infer that the two gentlemen were not dissimilar in some of their
tastes.

'Now, Squire (for we must know that this gentleman belonged to an
honourable profession), 'I think we've done this job up pretty
considerably slick--don't you?'

Turning his long face round as Mr. Cross spoke, so as to bring it into a
horizontal position, and shaking it very significantly, as each word
fell from his lips in a slow and measured tone--

'It has worked, neighbour Cross, like a charm, just as I told you it
would. The shoe pinches now, I guess, and more than one foot too--one,
two, three, four; only think of it,'--giving Mr. Cross a poke with one
of his long fingers--'only think of it--five birds with one stone--only
think of it!'--another poke.

'I never thought, Squire, what you could be at, when you wanted me to
lend Bolton that money.'

'I knew though, neighbour, what I was about. Jemmy Bolton wanted money
bad; he had property enough laying round for you to slap on any time.
You and I, you know, have talked about setting Dave up alongside the
Montjoys; that, you see, will never work. Bolton I knew, for he told me
of it, owed those boys all of three thousand dollars; they had advanced
it to him on the timber, thinking, you see, that all was safe, and that
it would be coming along. Stop that, says I; trip up Jemmy Bolton--clap
on the timber; that cuts the Montjoys three thousand dollars--no small
sum for young folks, considering the times too; then down goes
Bolton--that gives Bowers & Co., and Jones & Brothers such a pull, you
see, down they go too; ha, ha, ha!'--a poke with the long finger--'both
of them owe the Montjoys considerable. That, with Bolton's affair, you
see, will just about finish the job for them; they can't stand it no
how.'

'Poor fellows! I am almost sorry for them.' Mr. Cross was not so sorry
but he could smile a little as he said it.

'I am not a bit--I am not a bit sorry, neighbor; they are upstarts,
nothing else; and they have made all the folks about them think that
they are the end of the law. No, no; let them go down--the sooner the
better; and when they are once down on their back, you see, then up goes
Dave. You have got the cash, you know--a dash he will make; and the
whole country round will be the better for it.'

'Yes; but, Squire, you know these fellows will fight hard to live it
through; they are no fancy boys; they have worked their way along by
their own efforts; they stand high at the bank. McFall is a great friend
of theirs; they will make the bank help them--see if they don't.'

'I have thought of that too, neighbor'--another hard poke--'I've thought
of that; and there you have them too.'

'How so, Squire? I have nothing to do with the bank you know.'

'Don't you know a certain man who would not refuse you a favor for a
trifle? Bank Directors are not always so independent as they would wish
to be thought--ha, ha, ha!'

'Well, what of him?'

'You just whisper in his ear that it would be no particular
accommodation to you, that certain folks should receive any favors; that
will be enough. One man, you know, in a board is as good as a
dozen'--another poke.

'Well, well, I understand.'

'I thought you did--but what was that? There is nobody sleeps here, I
hope?'

'Oh no, it is the dog; he is dreaming I suppose.'

'It startled me though, neighbour, for it would not be quite so clever
to have any one get the run of what we have been saying.'

'Never fear, Squire; I shut all up myself.'

'I hope you are sure of that; for I was just going to tell you the best
of the whole joke.'

'Tell away, Squire; there are no listeners but the old casks; they won't
tell any tales.'

'They do sometimes though, neighbour.'

'How so?'

'They tell a little bit, sometimes by the end of our nose, ha, ha,
ha!'--another poke--'don't they? ha, ha, ha! Well, as I was saying, the
best of it is all to come. Rutherford is clean done up'--one, two, three
pokes right off.

'Rutherford done up! What do you mean now, Squire?'

'Why you know I told you that we had killed five birds with one stone,
and so we have. Bolton is dead, the other two fellows are kicking, and
the Montjoys will be dead soon: and our old friend Rutherford, whom we
have been picking at these six years, is down at last, all gone to
smash. Think of that, neighbor Cross.'

Mr. Cross made no reply; but turning to the decanter, filled his own
glass and the Squire's about half full of the clear stuff, added a
little water to his own, and then swallowed the potion at one draught.
The Squire did not trouble the water, preferring the good creature in
its pure state.

'Your gin is uncommonly strong, neighbour--'ugh, 'ugh, 'ugh--it almost
shakes a body--'ugh, 'ugh, 'ugh.'

'Water it then, why don't you? But what is it about Rutherford, and how
has that come?'

'Why, you know as well as I do, that Rutherford is an easy body; you
know that the quarry folks have been getting round him, and drawing him
in more and more every year. He, good soul! thought all was right, while
they have been going on, as you know very well, running into debt deeper
and deeper. Well, it is only a little pull that is needed to bring down
a great weight when it is tottering and ready to fall. This business of
Bolton's has upset the whole concern; they only lost a trifle by him,
but it touched them just at a delicate time. People got frightened, and
the game was up, and Rutherford is in for all their debts; it is thought
it will sweep every thing away, homestead and all.

'Now this, I know, is of no consequence to you: it will not give you any
title to these barrens; but now that they are in a muss, will be the
time to accomplish our great plan. That deed is not on record yet'--a
very hard poke--'you know that your deed from old Ross covers the whole
ground, when once this claim of Rutherford's is put one side. Old
Rutherford, I suppose, thought that the whole tract here was not worth
the trouble of looking after, and the young one, no doubt, thinks that
all is right; but mind me, neighbour, now is your time, or never. This
land, between you and me, which Rutherford owns here, is worth all the
rest of his property put together. These Montjoys have, you see, opened
a trade for the timber, and there is no telling what its value will yet
be. The creditors will be searching the records; it will soon be found
out that this deed is not registered, and then your play is out. What
you do, must be done at once.'

'True enough, Squire; his deed once out of the way, mine is worth a
trifle no doubt; but the question is, has he a deed at all? and if he
has, how can we get hold of it?'

'Ah, neighbour, he has got the deed; I have seen it with my own eyes:
you see I have not been idle about this matter of yours, although it is
a thing that it will not do to say much about. Some time since, I
thought I would just call and inquire about some old matters, merely to
see what might turn up. He was very polite, you know, handing me a
chair, and all that. "You want to look at the old survey, do you,
Squire?" "Yes," said I, "if it is not too much trouble, Mr. Rutherford."
"Oh no, by no means." And so he out with the old tin trunk; you have
seen that trunk in old Rutherford's time.'

'Oh, yes, often.'

'Well, he out with the old trunk; he keeps it just where the old man
did, under the secretary; you know as well as I can tell you.'

'Yes, yes, I've seen it, but go on with your story.'

'Well he out with his trunk, as I was saying, and among the very first
papers he threw on the table, was this very deed. Thinks I, old fellow,
if I had you once in my grip, I guess I know whose fortune would be
made.'

'Well, the thing is now, how to get hold of it.'

'That's the thing neighbour;'--one or two good pokes.

'I have a few good fellows that are up to any thing, only let me tell
them what to do.'

'Then it can be done, neighbour. What a nice thing it would be to have
a little bit of a fire happen, say about midnight. A pretty state of
confusion that would make, you know; doors open, everybody running
helter-skelter, all frightened to death! Wouldn't that do?'--a hard
poke--'but there is no time to lose.'

Cross evidently relished the idea suggested, for he replenished the
glasses again, omitting the water this time; then talking in a much
lower tone, named the persons--smart fellows, as he called
them--arranged time, place of rendezvous, etc.; to all which the Squire
assented, every once in a while putting out his long finger and striking
neighbour Cross in the ecstacy of his admiration. And thus they devised
this deed of darkness, careless of all the terrible consequences which
might result, so that their own crafty designs were accomplished.



CHAPTER XVIII.


Sam Oakum was indeed very much excited at the close of his interview
with Commodore Trysail; the bright prospect before him of soon realizing
what his heart had been so long aspiring after, gave a sudden spring to
all his feelings, and the spirit of his station seemed already to have
taken possession of his mind.

The trifle of news, too, which Peter had communicated, might also have
had something to do with the bouyancy of his feelings. Sam longed to see
again the little fairy-like creature, with golden locks and dark blue
eyes, that once in his early days he occasionally met.

This little fairy, however, is a fairy no longer, for she has grown up
to be a fine, good-natured young lady; her golden locks have turned to a
rich auburn; her dark blue eyes illuminate, with their bright and
pleasant sparkles, her full oval face, on which the rose and the lily
have beautifully blended.

Sam has not seen her, however, for four long years, and he thinks of her
as she looked then. And if the Commodore had known how much more Sam was
thinking about Peter's news, than about the schooner or the ship, it
might have injured his confidence, a very little.

As to what this little fairy ever thought of Sam, it would be equally
hard to divine. All we know is that when a little girl she used to be
very glad to see a little black-eyed boy in blue jacket and trousers,
and would frequently smile when she saw him, and perhaps on one or two
occasions exchanged a word with him--nothing more.

She is now, I have said, a young lady; and whether she ever thinks of
the little black-eyed boy is yet to be known.

Sam had thought all day of the visit which he felt he ought to make to
his friends the Morris's. He called there in the edge of evening, and no
doubt spent a very pleasant hour, for his friends were rejoiced to see
him, and gave him to understand that the Commodore had let them into the
secret; and from the kindness with which he was treated, it was very
evident that he had not fallen in their estimation.

I said, that he no doubt spent a pleasant hour; but that idea intruded
itself rather because there was everything conspiring to make it
pleasant, than from its apparent effect upon our hero; for his
countenance, as he walked on his way towards home, was sad, and it was
some time before the lively, happy circle there could so impart their
cheerfulness as to enable him to join heartily with them.

Major Morris and his lovely daughter had reached home, as Peter had
said, accompanied by a young lady, who had been a companion of Susan at
school, and her brother, a fashionable young man, the parents of whom
were wealthy and truly respectable in their standing. And it may as well
be told at once, that although not engaged to this youth--for Susan's
parents were too careful of her happiness to allow such a step at the
age she then was--still there was decided feeling on the part of the
young man, and Susan had been perhaps as well pleased with him as with
any of those who constantly sought her company. He was not, however,
visiting as a suitor, but had been invited with his sister to spend a
few weeks at the Major's delightful residence.

Susan Morris was by no means an imaginative girl. She had, it is true,
very ardent feelings, but they had always been expended upon real
objects; and, in consequence, she was the beloved of every circle where
she moved.

Two weeks from the day on which Commodore Trysail gave the appointment,
Sam and his beautiful schooner were ready for the ocean.

Partings with near friends are not pleasant scenes, so I shall pass
them over. It was a lovely afternoon, one of summer's brightest days; a
lively breeze played over the water, and scarcely bending to its power,
a small trim vessel, rigged in pilot-boat fashion, was gliding
gracefully along, not far from the shore. Every sail was set, and filled
just enough to display their graceful cut, the little black hull beneath
making them look more white and showy by the contrast. A row-boat, well
manned, was by the shore, around which were gathered groups of
lookers-on, or friends saying some last words to the youths who held the
oars, and whose half serious smiles told plainly that their hearts were
not so light as they would seem.

Just beyond the shore, upon the sloping green, a little party stands,
eyeing with apparent interest the motions of the schooner and the
preparations for departure, which are plainly visible in the gathering
crowd that was surrounding the little boat at the water's edge.

'Oh, Susan, what a fine sight that vessel makes; but who would think of
venturing to sea in such a craft?'

'Why not, Julia?'

'Oh, she is so small, I should think the waves would ingulf her--but
here comes her Captain, I suppose. Your father keeps close to him; and
the old Commodore, how proud he seems.'

'Yes, he does, I assure you,' said Mrs. Morris; 'he is proud of his
vessel and her Captain too.'

The three gentlemen now approached the ladies, raising their hats, and
again replacing them, with the exception of the younger one, who, having
removed his light chapeau, kept it in his hand.

There was a seriousness in his air as he immediately stepped up to Mrs.
Morris, and received her offered hand.

'May God bless you, my dear fellow! Come, a mother's kiss.'

Sam's heart was brave, but it was very tender. He took the liberty
allowed him, but uttered not a word, while Mrs. Morris took no pains to
restrain the flowing tears. He bowed to Miss Walton, and then the hand
of Susan is within his own. He bowed respectfully, raised her hand, and
touched it to his lips. He saw a tear start as he cast one parting
glance upon her sweet face, and, without a word on either side, they
separated.

The Commodore and Major Morris, each taking an arm, walked with him to
the little boat.

'God bless you!' and the Major clasped his hand in both of his.

'God bless you, Captain Oakum--a fine voyage to you!' and the Commodore
gave him a sailor's squeeze.

A great many hands were stretched out, and Sam was busy enough for a
little while. He was a great favorite, and all were sad at parting with
him. Just as he was about to step into the boat, two men were seen
hastening along shore.

'There are the two men, Captain, that have shipped to-day.'

'Have you your papers with you?' said Captain Oakum, addressing the men
who had just reached them.

'Yes, sir--here they are;' handing them at the same time to the Captain.

'Aboard with you, then.'

They sprang in and tumbled themselves away as they best could. Sam
raised his hand; every oar was dropped, and the little boat shot away
like an arrow from the strand. As she left the shore, he turned towards
the land, and removing his chapeau, waved it towards those who stood on
shore, and then raising his eye to the different groups which he saw on
the elevated bank, bowed, and at once there was a great waving of
handkerchiefs, and some among them had other work to do with theirs, for
tears were flowing freely. A fond mother and sisters were there, and
there were friends of his early days, hearts knit to him in tenderest
friendship. Gracefully the little schooner rounds to, and for a few
moments lies flapping in the wind. Her Captain springs upon her deck,
again she falls off to take the breeze, the sails swell gently out, and
on she goes ploughing her way towards the mighty ocean.



CHAPTER XIX.


Sam is now off, and for a season we must bid him adieu. Jim and Ned felt
sorely the loss of one with whom they had been so long and happily
connected; but matters of the last importance soon demanded their
attention, and for the time banished thoughts of friends, and almost all
other earthly considerations. Their business had hitherto been
prosperous, and they had yet to learn, by their own experience, some of
those trials which business men are ever liable to suffer. The
advantage which they possessed of receiving supplies immediately from
one of the largest marts in our country not only insured to them the
trade of individual families, but also that of many stores removed far
back into the country; with these they were obliged to deal on liberal
terms, allowing them a credit of sufficient length to meet the slow
returns of a country trade. They had as yet carried on a successful
traffic, settling every six months by an exchange of produce, or a note
at short time.

One article of country produce had become a valuable item in their
trade--the pine timber from the barrens--and so urgent was the demand
for it, in consequence of its excellent quality, and the facility with
which it could be floated to market, that they found it necessary to
make large purchases beyond what they would receive as an exchange of
goods; these purchases had frequently to be made by an advance of
one-half or three-fourths of the value, and the balance paid on
delivery.

As their orders of late had been much increased, they had exerted
themselves to procure funds, and by this method had, as they supposed,
secured a very large and valuable lot of timber.

One morning--the very day after the departure of Sam--they were favoured
with a visit from Mr. Cross. James, the elder partner, received him
politely, but with some reserve; for, to tell the truth, they had no
favorable opinion of his character. He had a fine lot of timber for
sale, and would be glad to contract with them for it.

'We have already engaged as much as we need at present, sir, and are
expecting it every day; in fact, Mr. Bolton promised to deliver it last
week, but I presume he has met with some unexpected hindrance.'

'If it is from Mr. Bolton you are expecting the timber, I think you may
give up looking for it, as I have been obliged to take all he has on
hand, to secure myself for a debt he owed me. I suppose you know that he
has gone to pieces?'

As Mr. Cross said this, he cast a very inquisitive glance at young
Montjoy--

'I hope you have not advanced much to neighbor Bolton on account of the
timber; these are tight times, you know.'

Just then Ned entered the store, and handed his brother a letter, which
he had opened and read. Jim saw too clearly that there was a good reason
for the very serious air which his brother's countenance assumed, when
he handed it to him.

'I believe, Mr. Cross, that we can do nothing about the timber this
morning.'

'Good morning, gentlemen.'

No sooner had their visitor left, than they retired to a little back
room at the end of their store, where they had held many a pleasant
conversation in company with their friend Sam. Heretofore, when they had
repaired to this room, it had been with light hearts, and many a joyous
hour had they passed there--far different feelings now pressed their
spirits. Their trials until now had been of the light and transient
kind, which a little youthful energy, a little determination of purpose,
or putting forth of physical power, could overcome and scatter. Now they
have got a lesson to learn on a new page of life.

When they reached the room, Jim again read over the letter, which proved
to be another messenger with bad tidings.

It ran as follows:--

     'GENTLEMEN,--I am sorry to be compelled to inform you that the two
     notes of Bowers & Co. and Jones & Brothers, which fell due
     yesterday at the Bank, were protested for non-payment; the note
     which I hold of yours for fifteen hundred dollars, and to meet
     which the above notes were left with me, will be due in ten days,
     and you will be obliged to remit the amount, or otherwise arrange
     for it, as the distressing pressure at present on the money market
     will render it utterly impossible for me to honor your note from my
     own resources. I send this by private hands in advance of the mail,
     as I wish you to have the earliest notice possible of this event.

     'Yours respectfully,

     'JAMES MCFALL.'

To make this letter more intelligible, it may be proper to state that
Mr. McFall was a personal friend of the Montjoys, who attended to their
banking arrangements--the institution being at such a distance (full
twenty miles) as rendered such aid necessary. He received their notes
payable at the bank, due from merchants, collected and made payments as
they directed, and having facilities, whenever they needed funds for
extra service, procured for them what they wanted, either upon their own
note, for which he held the business paper as security, or upon the
paper itself. In the case of the fifteen hundred dollar note mentioned
in the letter, he had procured the money from the bank on it alone, and
held their business paper in two notes for about the same amount; these
failing to be met, he was obliged to look to them for payment.

To describe the feelings of the two young men, as the alarming news
broke upon them, and the calamitous consequences which it threatened,
would be a vain attempt. Had an earthquake burst at mid-day, and with
its convulsive quiver rocked their building, until they could see the
tottering fabric parting at its joints and falling upon their devoted
heads, it could not have waked up more intense, more appalling
sensations. They had begun by the sweat of their brow; they had exerted
every energy; they had advanced step by step; their business had grown
by a natural progress; they had not forced it by speculation, nor by an
undue haste to acquire wealth; they had abstained from borrowing on the
names of others, and from lending their own; they had trusted to none
but those who stood well in trade; their yearly gains were such as they
had every reason to be contented with; and, but yesterday, they felt
firm in their own strength, and buoyant with the fair prospect before
them. Now their foundation is gone, and the labor of years that are
past, and hope for years to come, alike vanished, as a vision, from
before them.

Ned had so long been accustomed to lean upon his brother in every
emergency, to have him think out a way for them, that hitherto he had
never troubled himself with any further care than faithfully attending
to the execution of his plans. Now he saw that the staff upon which he
had leaned was broken: the pale features, the knit brow, the clammy
sweat that stood upon his temples; the vacant gaze with which he looked
upon the letter that lay folded in his hands, told him that James was
sore dismayed, and at his wit's end.

'Let us go, Jim, and tell mother all about it.'

But Jim answered him not; he merely sighed and wiped his forehead, and
then leaning forward, covered his face, as if he wished to hide even
from his brother the agony that was wringing his bosom.

Oh! ye who despise the plodding toil of your daily labor, who think it
drudgery to follow the plough, and handle the hoe, and reap the fields,
and gather in your scanty gains, and are ashamed of the homely fare and
the rude dress that these afford you, could you but have known the
bitterness of that trial which was sending its pangs into the heart of
that young man, you would prize more highly the freedom you have from
distressing care, the independence you enjoy of either the frown or the
favor of man, the quiet that is spread over all your humble enjoyments,
and the peace of mind which goes with you to your rest and meets your
waking thoughts. Depend upon it, that the glitter of wealth is purchased
at a higher price than your imagination fancies.

Ned did not venture again to disturb his brother's meditations, and
began even to hope that he was devising some plan for their rescue; but
for once his clear and business intellect was at fault. The blow was so
sudden, that his young mind could only suffer, without being able to
wake up its energies to meet and ward off its consequences. Conscious at
last that something must be done, and not sufficiently composed to know
what that must be, he quietly arose, folded the letter, and placing it
in his pocket--

'You are right, Ned; let us go and tell mother. She ought to know how
things stand, without delay.'

It was no strange thing for these young men to make a confidant of their
mother. She had accustomed them to tell her all their thoughts, and thus
had they grown up beneath her fostering care; and opening, as they did
to her, the fountain of their soul, she watched each bubble that came
sparkling up, cleared all the dross and specks away with sweet maternal
care; and still she loved to watch--it was her life's one duty; for well
she knew, if all was bright and pure within the living spring, the
streams must, in the end, be bright and sparkling too.

Alarmed at once by the appearance of her sons, as they entered the
little room, where she sat with their sweet sister, plying their busy
needles, she laid aside her task, and turning her anxious eye on James--

'What is it, my children? James, I know you are in some great trouble.'

'We are in trouble, mother, and we have thought it our duty to let you
know all about it at once.' And they each took a seat beside her, while
Ellen, the darling of their hearts, unused to any thing but smiles from
her dear brothers, took Ned's hand in hers, and pressed it in all the
warmth of her love, and wept as she looked at the calm yet serious
countenance of her light-hearted brother.

In a very straight-forward way, James told his mother the news which had
just been brought to them, and ended his communication by saying:

'Thus you see, mother, at one blow, is swept away all that we, have
earned by our labors for these six years past; but that is not the worst
of it.'

'You are afraid, my son, that it will take more than you have earned; it
will leave you in debt?'

'Yes, mother, it will leave us, I fear, one thousand dollars worse than
nothing, and that is not all.'

'That is bad enough, James, but I hope you cannot accuse yourselves of
any wrong proceedings--any--'

'Nothing wrong, mother, that we can see; but we shall lose--we shall
lose our credit, and that, mother, is worse than death.'--And Jim could
stand no more; manly as he was, he covered his face, and gave way to a
passionate burst of grief.

Mrs. Montjoy spoke not until the violence of it was past, and then, in a
very calm and soothing way, gave such counsel as her judgment best
dictated.

There is something in the tones of a mother's voice that goes at once to
the heart of man. James felt the influence of her sweet words, lulling
the violence of the storm within. Calmer views began to break upon
him--a juster sense of the responsibility of his present situation. This
was his hour of adversity, and he must act the man.

Ned, too, began to feel his heart grow lighter.

'Come, Jim, let us keep up a good heart; things may come round right at
last, and if the worst happens, we can go to work again in the old
garden.'

'Ah, my son, you will often think of your boyhood's days in that garden:
you worked hard, but you were light-hearted and happy, although you
sometimes complained of back-aches and blistered hands.'

'Mother, I tell you what,' said Ned, 'heart-aches are worse than
back-aches; the one you can sleep off, the other I don't believe we can
get rid of in that way.'

'Yes, brother, now that we look back upon them, those were the happiest
days, I think, that you and I will ever see; but we did not think so
then. Now we cannot go back; we must, therefore, as mother says, meet
this trouble like men, and urge our way along the best we may. Mother, I
thank you for your dear good words, they have revived my spirit'--and he
stooped and kissed her. 'And now, Ned, we have a great deal to do; let
us be about it.'

As soon as the brothers were alone, Jim showed that he was himself
again, and in a very calm and business-like manner prepared for action.

'The first thing we must do, Ned, will be to see exactly how we stand.
While you are attending to customers, I will make an abstract of our
books. Then this evening, when the store is closed, we will take an
account of our stock; we shall then know better our situation, and what
course to pursue. We must put on a cheerful countenance, and keep
straight along as usual, for to-day at any rate.'

'I don't know about the cheerful face, Jim, but I will do the best I
can.'



CHAPTER XX.


Scarcely had Cross and his companion in guilt retired from their dark
conclave to carry out their dreadful purpose, when a young man arose
stealthily from off a rude mattress upon which he had been lying,
listened a moment, then hastily threw on a coat which had served him for
a pillow, and with light steps proceeded towards the door; his further
progress was now arrested, for the key had been removed, and the lock
was bolted. Somewhat alarmed at this hindrance, he cast his eye
anxiously along the front windows, and proceeded to undo the fastenings
on the inside, when a thought occurred to him, that if he escaped
through that opening, it would be noticed on the return of the owner of
the store, which, from what he had overheard, would be in a few moments.
He therefore replaced the bolt, and hastily retreated to a building
connected with the store and running back from it. Here, too, by some
unaccountable purpose, he was again frustrated; the door was fastened
and the key withdrawn; and, to his consternation, he heard footsteps and
voices. Cross, and the gang of wretches he had awaked from their lair,
which was in one of the out-houses connected with his establishment,
were about to enter the store--he to give his instructions to them, to
inspire them with the hellish draught; and they to go hence on their
errand of mischief. To remain where he was, and be discovered, his life
would not be worth a mention; that he well knew. Above his head was a
trap-door, opening into the loft which ran over the store. The covering
was removed, he sprang upon a barrel, the nearest article to where he
stood; making a desperate effort, his hands grasped the sides of the
hole--he heard the key rattling in the lock, exerted himself with an
energy the fear of death alone could have inspired, and drew at
arms-length the whole weight of his body through the aperture. The door
opened, and Cross entered with three of the creatures around whom he had
wound the coils of iniquity, until they had become the slaves of his
will.

'Now, boys, sit down here. Dick, there's the measure--draw away, and
help yourselves.'

Nothing was said in reply; the running liquor alone sounded through the
still room, and then the smack of the lips as each in turn gulped down
the liquid fire.

'I wouldn't have called you, boys, to-night, but I have a job on hand
that must be done now or never.'

'We're ready,' said two of the persons addressed, who were now seated on
a bench near the counter.

'You are all ready, I hope,' said Cross, who stood up before them, and
eyed the individual who was the youngest of the three, and had not
united in the assent. 'No skulking now, Jo.'

'No, no, I'm ready for any thing--that is, I s'pose you don't want no
bloody work?'

'You are always afraid of blood, Jo. I've never set you at any such
work, have I?'

'No, not exactly--but we have come pretty near it sometimes, you know.'

'"Pretty near it"--never hurt any body.'

'Well, let's have the story,' said the eldest of the gang; 'if there is
any thing to do to-night, it's time to be about it.'

'You are the fellow, Dick;'--and Cross laid his hand familiarly on the
ruffian, and gave him one or two hearty slaps on the back, in
manifestation of his warm approval, and as a stimulant to the
performance of his reasonable request.

The demand of Mr. Cross upon their services was made in a low tone, and
listened to by them with the deepest attention, each head drooping, and
with eyes in a gazing attitude fixed upon the floor.

His directions were given with great clearness; the horses they were to
ride, the part of the premises they were to fire, which of them was to
enter the house and seize the trunk, and who the individual that should
bear it with, the utmost speed to the dark rendezvous, where he, Cross,
would be in waiting to receive it.

'And if it goes well, you shall be made men--you hear _that_?'

'Yes.' But they had heard the same before, and were yet the drudges of
his will. His power over them they knew--his frown they feared; and his
command must be obeyed.

Every word that passed came up with painful distinctness to the ears of
the young man who lay above them, almost breathless in his dread lest
some sound, even the beat of his heart against the planks, should be
heard, and his presence discovered. He knew well the desperate character
of the men, and that he must move with wary steps.

Every thing is at length arranged, and he hears them again fortifying
their spirits by a deep draught. The door is opened, and one by one they
steal out, but apparently with little zest for the work before them.
Cross waited a moment on the threshold, until they disappeared amid the
dark pines, and then, muttering curses on the men who were about to
blacken their souls with a heinous crime for his sake, he stepped back
into the store, poured out some gin from his bottle, took a long drink,
threw himself into one of the chairs, and, leaning back against the
counter, amused himself with swinging his heel against one of the rungs.

Bill Brown--for it was he who had been the providential listener to this
vile scheme, had learned more in one short lesson than through his whole
life before. Light, as though from heaven, flashed upon him; the
dreadful character of his employer was revealed in all its blackness.
Fear, likewise, had taken hold upon him; a groan, a movement, even too
loud a breath, might place him in an instant on the verge of eternity.

And then, too, the dreadful fate which hung over that family. Bill had
been a recreant to the path of duty; his mother's counsels he had set
light by, and too often had he ridiculed the interest which she felt in
those friends of her early days, and had done his best to persuade
Hettie against making her home there: but now he would give half his
life for the power of flying to them. How he longed to grapple with the
hateful wretch, and then spread the alarm ere their mansion was wrapped
in flames, and perhaps some of the family victims to their fury. But he
knew that Cross was armed, and a powerful man.

The tramp of horses is heard; his heart sinks within him; furiously they
pass the place, and far, far away, the sounds come back fainter and
fainter upon the stillness of the night.

How long he thus remained he could not tell, for minutes are hours when
the heart is in such an exciting suspense. At length he hears the snap
of a watch-case. Cross rises from his seat, opens the door, fastens it
from without, and is off. Bill waited not to hear his retiring
footsteps; he springs to the floor, hastens to a window, of which he had
not thought in his first attempt; it opened on one side of the building,
and was seldom used. The sash creaked as he forced it through the mouldy
casement, and, quickly letting himself down, carefully closed the
shutters, and then looking round as though the avenger of blood might be
watching for him, crossed the road, and entered a thick covert of pines.
He turned and looked at the long dark building where he had wasted so
much of his past life--

'If I once get beyond your reach, good-by to you for ever.'

Distracting were the thoughts which rioted within the mind of this
youth. He was sure that the villains were full an hour in advance of
him, and the work of destruction no doubt begun ere this. To pursue
them, would be fruitless as preventing the catastrophe; to go in the
opposite direction and seek his mother's home, would be to fill her soul
with unavailable terrors. No house was near, but the one from which he
had just escaped--no human being within some miles, to whom he should
dare communicate what he knew. It was full nine miles to Mr.
Rutherford's. His utmost haste would only enable him, in all
probability, to witness the smouldering ruins of their mansion, and, oh,
dreadful thought! the ashes of his own sister perhaps. He could think no
further; the spirit of vengeance stirred strong within--he groped about
for something that might serve him for a weapon, and laid hold of a
strong chesnut club; brandishing it in his hand and testing its strength
by a blow upon the ground--

'If I can do nothing more, I will make one of them feel the weight of an
avenging arm.'

He is resolved to urge on his way towards the scene of mischief. He
remembers, too, that in the instructions which Cross had given, one of
them on the fleetest horse, was to seize the trunk and hasten off. He
might meet him alone, and possibly rescue the prize, if nothing more.

Never had the road seemed so interminable, and his utmost speed was to
his burning spirit but a snail's pace. Still he presses on--a long hill
is before him; when he reaches its summit he will be near the edge of
the barrens. He heeds not the ascent--his whole frame is nerved with an
energy he never has felt before--it is his first essay in the path of
duty. As he reaches the top a faint streak of light seems to tinge the
distant cloud--his heart beats with deep emotion--an instant more, and a
flush of light suffuses the whole heavens. He could scream in the
intensity of his feelings. He thinks he hears a sound--he pauses to
listen--it is--it is--the fiendish plot is accomplished, and the
villains are returning with the spoil. The tramp of one horse, however,
can only be heard as yet; the rider doubtless bears the fatal treasure.
The resolution of a whole life fires his breast and nerves him with a
fixed determination to grapple with the wretch--the horseman is
galloping up the hill--his jaded beast lags as he nears the top. Bill
crouches behind some bushes near the travelled path--his eye is on the
horseman--it has caught sight of the burden borne in front of him. With
a single bound he grasps the rein at the horse's head, and levelling a
desperate blow, brings rider and trunk to the ground. The horse,
affrighted, tears down the road, and makes directly for his home. Bill
stoops to secure the trunk, not knowing or caring whether his victim is
dead or not, when his antagonist, who is only stunned by the blow,
springs upon him! They know each other well, and have often tried each
other's strength in sport; they are nearly matched--both young, and
possessed of great muscular power. Bill is now nerved with the energy of
right, and the other with the strength of despair, maddened, too, with a
desire for revenge. The violence with which they grapple brings both to
the earth--it is a death-struggle--each endeavoring to get his opponent
under, and each by turns gaining the advantage, until at length Bill
lies apparently at the mercy of his adversary, whose hand is fast
clenched to his throat, while he exerts his utmost strength to strangle
him. Bill feels that his hour has come, for the death-grip which binds
his throat is palsying his strength. One arm, however, is free--he
clutches in his despair for something that might serve him for a
weapon--his club lay within his grasp--hope springs to his heart--he
brings down the weapon with a desperate effort, and it fell on the head
of his opponent. Bill felt the tight clench relax, and putting forth
his last powers, renews the blow. It has done the work. With scarce
strength enough to throw off the body of the now helpless man, he
attempts to rise, but in his effort to do this, the blood gushed in a
torrent from his lungs. He believes that he has killed the wretched
being beside him, and that he himself is parting with life. His reason
is bright as ever--he takes up the trunk, and creeping as he best can,
leaves the road, hoping to reach a hut which he knows is near by,
deliver his charge, and then die, if so it must be. But his strength is
less than he supposes--he can drag his trembling body but a short
distance. Gradually his powers depart--a strange and dreamy sleep comes
over him, and soon all earthly sounds and sense of earthly care are
gone; and there he lies, still clenching the object for which he
struggled so desperately.

Scarcely had this scene transpired when the companions of the wretched
being who lay stretched upon the highway came hurrying along; their
horse started from the track. Casting their eyes at the object that had
caused it, they both sprang to the earth, examined a moment to ascertain
who and what it was, and then looking at each other, simultaneously
uttered a horrid oath. But there was no time to loiter; the body must
not be there to tell a tale.

'He's dead, Dick; so let's throw him across the horse and be off.'

'He's dead enough, Jo; but where is the trunk? we can't go without that.
We had better not meet the old man, if that is gone.'

Uttering all kinds of imprecations on their own souls for having had
anything to do with the business, and wishing old Cross all manner of
evil, as they groped about in vain for the prolific cause of all this
mischief, in utter desperation they caught hold of the body: a groan
caused them to drop it instantly--

'Ned, are you alive? Can you tell us where the trunk is?' There was no
reply; but the body was warm, and of course life was in it. How to
proceed they knew not; and their guilty consciences urged them to do
something with speed. In their dilemma, they sent forth again on the
still night-air curses too profane for human ears; the light, too, of
that foul deed they had committed was growing brighter and brighter; far
over the murky sky it spread, and its blood-red glare came down upon
them, exposing to their strained eyes the first tokens of the avenger's
rod.

At length, in their desperation, they determined to place the wounded
and dying man astride the horse, between them. It was no easy matter to
accomplish this, and more than one groan escaped the sufferer; but the
strait they were in was urgent; they could not be deterred by trifles.

Not far from the dwelling of Mr. Cross, about half a mile in a direct
line, a great change was visible in the size of the timber and the
aspect of the woods: the fine tall trees, with no undergrowth, and
scarcely a bush to obstruct the passage through them in any direction,
were suddenly exchanged for a thick and tangled mass of scrub pines,
intermixed with alder and black birch. The road leading through it, or
rather into it, showed clearly its unfrequented condition; the whole
tract being left, after the first fine growth of timber had been taken
off, to bring forth what it best could, none then living expecting to
reap much benefit from it. The soil was sandy, with scarcely any stones
to be seen, except occasionally a small boulder, which, as it lay
disconnected with any of its species, impressed the mind with the idea
that it was out of its place, and was there by accident.

One spot, however, on this lone region, presented a singular contrast to
all the rest; a few rods from the only road which passed into it, was an
open, clear place, almost a perfect circle in its form, and about a
hundred feet in diameter, upon which was neither shrub nor tree; the
whole area being a flat granite rock, without seam or crack; it was not,
indeed, a perfect level, but the protuberances upon its surface were
scarcely noticeable, except as you walked across it.

To this spot had Cross directed his emissaries, after they should have
accomplished his purpose. It was lonely and desolate, and well chosen
for such a rendezvous.

What were his feelings, as he paced up and down that rock, lighted by
the lurid glare reflected from the cloud above him, it would not be very
profitable for us to know; nor shall I attempt to uncover the hideous
secrets of such a heart. But there he walked and watched for two long
hours--long indeed they seemed to him--and as he paused ever and anon to
listen for approaching steps, would curse their tardiness, and then
resume his lone, heavy tramp.

At length he heard the sound of voices, and the slow tread of a single
horse. In his haste to anticipate the accomplishment of his vile wish,
he left the rock and hurried to the road; one of them had dismounted,
and was about to pass from the road to the trysting-place, the other
maintained his place upon the horse, holding the helpless body of his
companion.

Their tale was soon told, for there was not much to say; mystery lay
upon every thing concerning the wounded man, or the trunk which had been
committed to him.

Cross listened awhile to their story, his rage gathering fire, until,
bursting through all bounds, it broke forth like a volcano. He caught
the one who was standing near him, by the throat, and drawing a pistol
from his breast--

'You lie, you villain! you know you lie! Tell me this moment where you
have put that trunk, or I will blow your perjured soul from your
body--tell me, quick.'

Overcome with fatigue from the great exertion of the night, and with a
consciousness of the atrocity of their crime, the young man exclaimed,
in broken accents, weeping as he spoke,

'You may blow my soul out, if you please, Mr. Cross; but as there is a
God above, I cannot tell you where it is.'

Throwing the young man away from him with a force that brought him to
the earth, he dashed the pistol down with maniac rage, tore his hair,
foamed at the mouth, and fairly howled in the violence of his anger. For
a while the witnesses looked on in apparent apathy, seeming to care but
little how much he vented his spite upon himself. At length the one who
still retained his seat upon the horse, very coolly asked,

'What shall we do with Ned? If he was dead we might bury him; but seeing
there is life in him, it wouldn't be quite so well, may be; he may yet
come to, so as to tell who hurt him, and may be some other things had
better be seen to, for the night is wearing away, and--'

Cross, enraged as he was, felt that there was reason in this, and,
moreover, that it was of the greatest consequence to him that the
wounded man should be taken care of, and placed beyond the reach of
meddlers.

'You are right. Take him down to the back part of the east swamp--you
know who lives there. Tell Meg I sent him; that no one must know he is
there; she must do what she can to bring life in him, and as soon as he
can speak, to let me know.'

He stooped and picked up his pistol, uncocked the trigger, replaced it
in his bosom, and walked on his way, muttering curses, and pondering on
the best manner to avert the danger of discovery which these untoward
events threatened.



CHAPTER XXI.


The trial which had fallen upon the family of Mr. Rutherford was one so
new and unexpected, that, with the exception of himself and wife, but
little effect was made upon the members of it.

A vague report, indeed, ran through the house, of some trouble that had
befallen its master, but what was the nature of it they could not well
define. To Hettie alone had Mrs. Rutherford confided the secret; for she
felt that her strong attachment, her faithful disposition, and her
discreet behaviour, entitled her to confidence. She received the
information with a heart bleeding in sympathy, but manifested so much
good sense, had so many encouraging things to say, and put on such a
calm, peaceful look, that Mrs. Rutherford felt that she had indeed a
prop to lean upon in this faithful girl. All that day Hettie went about
with an energy beyond what was usual, taking from Mrs. Rutherford all
her cares and duties immediately domestic, and exerting every effort to
put as bright a face upon the family as if nothing had happened. The
servants in the kitchen had whisperings among themselves, but further
than that, there was no sign that any change had taken place. They
little knew the cause of bitter anguish that wrung the master's heart;
every thing to them appeared as heretofore: their beautiful mansion, the
pleasant grounds about it, the noble trees, and all the comforts that
spread such a satisfying charm over the whole, to them looked as sure as
ever; to him they were but shadows of the past--things that had been,
but are not--by one fell stroke swept, all swept away.

After the distracting scenes of the morning, Mr. Rutherford prepared to
make a journey of some miles, in order to attend to business connected
with the peculiar situation of his affairs, and more especially to
consult a legal friend, and get such advice as his case demanded.

Not expecting to return until the following day, he bade adieu to his
dear family with a sad heart; and as he mounted his favorite horse, and
rode away from his much-loved home--now his no more--he felt that he was
under the chastening rod--the hand of God was upon him.

It is said that birds of prey can scent their victims from afar, and spy
the hidden carcass, however secret the spot where it may fall.

It must have been by some such instinctive power that our old
acquaintance, Mr. Richard Tucker, was affected, on the day that
witnessed the catastrophe of Mr. Rutherford's concerns. His place of
residence was some miles off, and no tidings had he received of any such
event; and yet his yellow gig was that day put in requisition, and
northward he must go.

'I shall be home by night, may be.'

This was all that he deigned to say, as he left his home, and the old
gig squeaked and rattled as his raw-bone mare started off at a round
trot; perhaps she scented her master's game.

About a mile from the Rutherford estate there was a small collection of
buildings; it bore the title of village however, and comprised a church,
a blacksmith's shop, and a tavern, as also a few small and plain
tenements. The tavern, of course, was the rendezvous through the week,
and the place where all the news and scandal could be enjoyed. It was
soon known around that trouble had fallen on the great man of that
region, and a larger number than usual was congregated there just after
dinner. But, to their credit be it said, a feeling of deep regret was
very manifest: not a tongue was loosened against the sufferer, nor was
there one among them disposed to take any measures for his own security,
although to most of them he was indebted for services of different
kinds.

'George Rutherford,' said an aged, portly man, who seemed to be the
oracle of the place, and who had taken the large arm-chair on the wide
front piazza of the tavern, 'I have known from a boy; and if there ever
was an honest man and a gentleman, he is one. Things have been going
hard with him for some time, that we all know; he has had cunning chaps
to deal with, and may be they have ruined him; but sooner than take the
law of him, I will lose all he owes me, at any rate.'

'So would I;' and 'So would I,' resounded on all sides.

'But here comes Dick,' said the first speaker. 'I wonder what he is
after?--hunting for a job, I guess.'

And the old yellow gig drove up, and Mr. Tucker, with all the elasticity
of a young man, sprang from his seat, and alighted on the lower step.

'Good afternoon, gentlemen;' and Mr. Tucker bowed very stiffly, which
perhaps he was obliged to do, for his coat was buttoned up close to the
neck--a habit he maintained at all seasons.

'Good day, Mr. Tucker; you seem to be in a hurry, neighbor; the old mare
is quite out of breath.'

'Oh no; not at all,' turning at the same time, and eyeing his beast;
'she always breathes so. You may put her under the shed, Jo,' addressing
a good-natured looking black, who stood waiting orders at the head of
the beast.

'Yes, massa. Any oats, massa?'

'No--well--I don't care--yes. You may give her a mess--two quarts, Jo.
Wet them, you hear?'

Jo took the mare by the head, turned his face away from the company,
opened his broad mouth, and went grinning along to the shed.

'My golly! two quarts--ha, ha, ha! a half bushel no fill her belly--ha,
ha, ha!'

Mr. Richard has not altered much since we last saw him, either in
appearance or disposition. Why he had come along that afternoon, no one
knew; nor did he seem to be making preparation as though he had a job on
hand. He heard the news of Mr. Rutherford's disaster with apparent
indifference. I say apparent, for there is no doubt he felt much and
deeply; he talked with one and another, making very few remarks, but
asking a great many questions, and occasionally shrugging his shoulders,
and knitting his dark eyebrows--it was a way he had. What effect his
pantomime had upon those with whom he conversed was not very manifest,
for they finally dropped off, one by one, leaving no orders behind them.

It is an old saying, 'If one won't, another will.' Mr. Richard, no doubt,
had heard the saying, and must have had considerable faith in it; for
there was not an individual, either high or low, that escaped his
attentions.

The Irish are proverbially susceptible. Whether Mr. Richard knew this
as a historical fact, I will not pretend to say, nor whether it led him
to make a more direct and positive attack on poor Pat than he had done
upon others that day; the result, however, was, that Jerry Malony, a
rather good-natured fellow, to whom Mr. Rutherford was indebted for a
summer's ditching, and whose pay was as sure as though already in his
own hands, was suddenly seized with great terrors, in view of the
certain loss of all his hard earnings, and with a distressing anxiety to
become possessed, as a means of securing himself, of a pair of fine
black horses, then in the possession of said Rutherford.

We will not enter into all the particulars; suffice it to say, that Mr.
Tucker and Mr. Malony adjourned from the east corner of the piazza to a
private room inside the building, and thence to a justice of the peace,
and thence back again to the bar-room; and, finally, the two worthy
gentlemen were wishing each other very good health, and confirming their
wishes by potent draughts of genuine Monongahela. There were many little
arrangements to be made, which occupied them until the shades of evening
had settled very decidedly upon the land.

Old Cæsar, the coachman--with whom we once became acquainted on the
little journey Mr. Rutherford and his lady took through the barrens some
years since--was still alive, and, to all appearance, active as ever.
The old black coach-horses, too, had lost none of their strength or
fire, for they were never overburdened, and being under the exclusive
charge of Cæsar, were daily tended with as much care as though they had
been pet horses of a prince; their dark hides shone as brightly as
Cæsar's countenance did after a good supper, and all their appurtenances
were kept in the most perfect order. To say that Cæsar was fond of these
creatures, whom he had tended and driven so long, would not express all
his emotions towards them; they were, next to his master and mistress,
and their children, the objects that engrossed his feelings--and Cæsar
had very strong feelings, too--his life he would have risked, or even
sacrificed, to have preserved any of them from harm. He had no wife or
children of his own, nothing to love except his master's family; and no
wonder then, if for these beasts, who obeyed every expression of his
will, and pawed, and neighed, and pranced, and did all but talk to him
when they heard his step approaching, he had peculiar feelings.
Moreover, Cæsar was very proud of them: for they were acknowledged, far
and near, to be a noble pair; and, to crown all, they were looked upon
as his own. Mr. Rutherford never claimed any further right to them than
the privilege of a drive occasionally.

Cæsar knew very little about his master's troubles; he had, indeed,
heard some whispering in the kitchen among the women; but he paid no
further heed to it than to bestow a back-handed blessing on their
tongues.

'Dey are always a-goin' jabbering about sumpin' or anoder. Massa George
know he own business well enough, neber fear.'

As Cæsar's principal employment of late years was to attend to the
horses, he had persuaded his master to fit up for him a room in the
building where they were kept, so that, in case any accident should
occur to them in the night, he could be on hand. A door opened from this
room immediately into the stable; and as the whole premises were kept
with the greatest care, there might be found much less eligible sleeping
apartments in places that made greater pretensions. Cæsar, however, did
not sleep there entirely alone. Besides his pets, the horses, he had a
dog of the real mastiff breed, that had been trained with much care, and
was as completely under the will of Cæsar as the other quadrupeds; he
was a large, powerful creature, and unless under the complete control of
a master, would have been dangerous; but at Cæsar's word, he would be
passive as a lamb, and at his bidding would lay the stoutest man upon
his back, and hold him there without doing further violence, unless
there was an attempt at resistance.

Mr. Richard and his client Jerry had been sitting on the piazza of the
tavern, watching for the return of Mr. Rutherford, who must pass that
way to his house; hour after hour slipped by, and they looked in vain.

'It's striking nine, your honour; shall we wait any longer?'

'It is my opinion, my good fellow, that we might as well be on our way.
As a matter of form, perhaps, it might be well enough just to make the
demand; but as there is no probability, if it is all true that I hear,
not the least probability that he can pay it, or will ever pay it, your
only chance, my friend, is, as I say'--slapping his hand on Jerry's
knee--'clap on to something tangible; and as you say the horses are
valuable, they will be about as handy as anything I can think of. They
have legs, you know; we can carry them off, or more probably, we can
make them carry us off--ha, ha, ha!'

All this was said with his face turned towards Malony, and speaking
close to his ear, while his auditor, being rather short and a little
worse for liquor, sat very erect, and looked as consequential as any
newly made Justice trying his first cause.

'And as we are to walk, I think we may as well be jogging.'

'I think so, your honor.'

The two worthies accordingly walked slowly along, and before a great
while found themselves in the broad avenue leading to Mr. Rutherford's
mansion.

'You are well acquainted here, I suppose, Malony? The dog you speak
of--is he--is he--loose?'

'No, your honor, not just loose; he keeps tight to the nigger.'

'And he, you say, sleeps in the stable?'

'Pretty near it, your honor--close by.'

'I think, my good fellow, that we may as well go at once, then, to the
stable; the nigger being there, it will be sufficient to demand them of
him, or to leave the attachment with him.'

Mr. Richard, it must be premised, was not over-burdened with law
knowledge. The people among whom he labored had taken his word as law
enough for them. They found it hard law, to be sure; but, poor souls,
they knew no better, and thought all was right.

Jerry had implicit confidence in his adviser, and so walked bravely
along. The dog being just then uppermost in his mind, knowing, as he
well did, his ferocious character, he cared much more about a proper
introduction to him, than any nice point in law.

'Hadn't I better be after strikin' a light, your honor? it's amazin'
dark.'

'Not yet, Malony; not until we reach the stable.'

It cost master Jerry no little trouble to strike his light, for his hand
was not very steady; and as he gave two blows with his finger against
the steel to one with the flint, there was more blood than sparks
flying.

'Bloody murther! that was a pealer: it's taken the skin, it has, your
honor.'

'Can't you hit it, Malony?'

'I hit it, your honor, but my finger took it fornint the stone.'

Mr. Richard now took matters into his own hands, and while Jerry was
blowing and snapping his fingers, he managed to get some sparks into
the tinder, and soon had his lantern in trim.

Cæsar was about the middle of his first nap when he suddenly awoke, and
found that Trap was growling in a low undertone. Trap never barked, and
very seldom condescended to growl, Cæsar knew that there must be
something going wrong; he therefore extricated his head from beneath the
bed-clothes, and cast his eye round the premises. The lamp was still
burning, and so far as his half-opened eyelids would allow him to see,
there was no one in his room besides the usual inmates. Trap, to be
sure, was out of his place, and sitting close by his master's bed,
looking very significantly up at the red night-cap. As soon as he
perceived that his master was awake, he ceased growling, like a very
sensible dog as he was, signifying thereby that his only design in using
his vocal powers was to stop the snoring, and call his master's
attention to matters and things in the waking world. After rubbing away
upon his eyes awhile, and working things awake there, Cæsar, in a very
philosophic manner, by means of his two arms, which he threw behind him
and used as levers, first to raise and then to support and brace his
body up, attained a sufficiently elevated position to see and hear what
was going on. He was afraid of nothing but witches, and for that reason
always had a light on hand; it being well known that neither in daylight
nor candle-light was any danger to be apprehended from the 'good
neighbors.' But something or somebody was stirring, and near by, too,
for he evidently heard footsteps and voices, and, as well as he could
make it out, they must be in the stable. Being more or less afflicted
with the rheumatism, he was very deliberate in his movements. First
throwing his somewhat recumbent body into a straight and self-supporting
posture, and thereby relieving his arms from their burden; then casting
aside whatever impeded his progress, in the way of covering, he turned
his nether extremities by the pivot principle, brought himself in
position to stand erect on the floor, and proceeded at once to the
light, which was safely shut up in an old carriage lamp, through which
the rays streamed forth by a small glass, calculated to converge, and
throw them far ahead.

Cæsar was somewhat of a gentleman in his feelings, and on the subject of
dress quite particular; for he followed the old fashion of small clothes
and knee buckles, and broad-skirted coat and vest, with large lappels,
and was ever ready, at any short notice, to appear with becoming apparel
in the presence of his mistress. These he wore by day; but he made a
complete change when he laid these by, and put on his night rig. As he
was a bachelor, and ladies, white or black, had no business about his
premises at night, he fixed himself as he thought best; and his fancy
was, red flannel. Why he chose that color, he never saw fit to
communicate; it may have been, however, that his good sense suggested
that white, the usual dress, would make too strong a contrast. He had on
a red flannel cap, that came pretty well over his ears, and a red
flannel frock, or tunic, covering him from the neck downwards to the
usual gartering place; below that the bare poles were plainly visible.
To those who knew him perfectly, there was nothing very frightful in all
this, because it was Cæsar; but to those who might not have had
experience on their side, as he then appeared, with his lantern
streaming before him, he might have been mistaken for any thing that was
not earthly.

As Trap knew that his business was to keep still and remain in his place
until called, so soon as he saw his master upon his legs, he was
satisfied that all was correct, and nestled quietly down on his own bed.

The only weapon Cæsar ever kept on hand, was a pitchfork, a very ugly
sort of a thing to come in contact with; for in the first place, it not
only makes two holes where a bayonet or sword would make but one, but it
gives great advantage to the one who uses it in its length of handle;
this may have been the reason why Cæsar preferred it. At any rate, there
was always one standing in the corner of his room; it had very long and
heavy tines, and a handle sufficient to keep an enemy at a respectful
and safe distance. Feeling that it might be prudent to be prepared for
danger, even if there was none, he grasped his weapon in one hand, and
with the lamp in the other, drew back the little bolt, and throwing the
door wide open by a strong push, stood in bold relief, casting his light
round about through the large roomy stable, and straining his eyes to
ascertain who or what it was.

His appearance was the cause of considerable surprise; for although Mr.
Malony had talked very freely about the _nigger_, as he was pleased to
style Mr. Cæsar Rutherford, and although both he and Mr. Richard
expected to see him in the course of their proceedings, yet they could
have had no very correct idea what shape a mere mortal, especially a
black one, could assume; for no sooner did their own light throw its
beams upon this sudden apparition, than they both made rapid retrograde
movements, Jerry, in his haste, bringing up against the opposite wall,
and Mr. Richard stepping back towards the door, as though it would be
safe at least to be out of reach of the pitchfork.

Whether Cæsar was alarmed, it would be difficult to say; for he made no
motion other than to throw the light of his lamp, first on one and then
on the other of his visitors.

Jerry, he thought, he had seen before; in fact, he was quite sure that
he could not be mistaken in the little chunky Irishman, who had been so
long under his master's pay; but Mr. Richard, Cæsar could not make out;
he had never been in these parts, that he remembered.

As Cæsar's appearance did not improve upon inspection, and as the two
gentlemen were too far separated to consult as to further proceedings, a
long silence would have been maintained had not Cæsar opened a parley--

'What a you want here?'

The tones were not very mild, nor was the address made in very good
humor; for Cæsar threw in a few emphatic words which he sometimes used
when excited, just by way of seasoning, and which for brevity's sake are
omitted; but then it was a human voice, and it gave some assurance to
Mr. Richard at least. He therefore advanced one or two paces:

'Ah, that's you, is it, Boss?'

'Git out wid your Boss, and tell me what a you want here dis time a
night!'

'Oh, we don't want any thing with you, my good fellow, but we have got a
little business here that must be attended to. You know Malony
here?'--turning at the same time towards his discomfited
companion:--'You know he's been at work here all summer for your master.
Here, Malony, step up here; you have nothing against this good man, you
know.'

But Malony preferred remaining where he was. Cæsar's eyes, he thought,
showed a little too much of the white to be very safe, especially under
the circumstances.

'I am sorry to have disturbed you, my good fellow, but as somebody must
be notified before we proceed, I will just read the warrant, as I
suppose you will hardly be able to make it out yourself;' and Mr.
Richard pulled out a bit of paper and began to read rapidly--'Know all
men by these presents,' etc. Cæsar, in the mean time, was getting his
wrath up. He never liked the Irishman, and had often cautioned his
master against him; and Mr. Richard's countenance not being, as my
readers will remember, very pre-possessing, together with the fawning
manner in which he attempted to get round him, woke up Cæsar's
sensibilities:

'Mister, go to grass wid your paper, and tell a me what you want
'sturbing people dis time a de night.'

Mr. Richard being thus interrupted in his proceedings, stopped reading,
and looking full in Cæsar's face--

'You know, I suppose, my good man, that Mr. Rutherford has failed?'

'Hab what?'

'Has failed; that is, can't pay his debts.'

'You a big liar.'

Mr. Richard didn't blush; he never had in his life; but he began to pick
up a little courage.

'You must take care, old fellow, how you speak; I am an officer of the
law, take care, sir. Here Malony, lead out one of these horses, and I
will take the other.'

'What dat you say?'

And Cæsar stepped forward, Mr. Richard retreating at the same time,
until he came to the edge of the stall.

'Me like to see you touch one of dem horses.'

Mr. Richard had now come in closer contact with Cæsar; and perceiving
that he was quite an old man, and walked rather stiff, made a sudden
spring, and grasped the pitch-fork.

'Trap, Trap.'

There was a rush from the little room, and in the next moment Mr.
Richard was lying on his back, with the fore-paws of master Trap resting
one on each shoulder, and his mouth presenting a row of teeth in such
dangerous contiguity to Mr. Richard's throat, that he began to fear
matters were tending to extremities, and called out 'Murder!' at the top
of his voice.

'Hole you lyin' tongue; he be de death of you.'

'Malony, Malony! help, help; kill the dog; quick, take a pitchfork, any
thing, do, my good fellow, he'll murder me.'

But Mr. Malony was not so drunk but he had sense enough to see that
there was mischief brewing; and no sooner was Mr. Richard on his back,
than he bolted and ran for dear life, Mr. Richard's cries only adding
wings to his flight across lots for home.

'I tell a you what, mister, you no hole you tongue and keep till, me let
de dog take you lights out in a minit. Hold him dare, Trap, till a
morning; den we see how he look.'

'Oh, good man! good man!' Mr. Richard spoke now in a whisper--'do--don't
go away, don't leave me here; I promise I will go right off; I was only
doing my duty as an officer.'

'Me gib a you duty; you 'member Cæsar next time; take care de horses no
kick a your brains out.' There was indeed a very dangerous proximity
between Mr. Richard's head and the horses' heels, especially as they
were pawing and prancing about under the exciting influence of Cæsar's
voice.

'Oh do, good Mr. Cæsar, for the love of mercy, just take the dog off,
and let me go! I give you my sacred honor'--But Cæsar had no such idea.
The insult offered to his master and his horses had steeled his heart.

'I tell a you what, mister; you no lay till and keep a your tongue, your
time is short; he only take two mouthful, you be gone chicken, so good
night to you;' and Cæsar hobbled back into his room.

The grave and the gay, the mirthful and the sad, are so blended in this
world, that in delineating any series of events, we find ourselves
constrained to shift the scenery so often and so suddenly, that if we
did not know we were sketching from nature, we should fear to be charged
with drawing upon fancy, even to extravagance.

Cæsar had bidden Mr. Richard good night, and to all appearance, designed
leaving him, as he said, 'to de mornin', to see how he look den.'

He had been sorely disturbed, and perhaps feeling that it would be
rather difficult to compose himself to sleep under the existing state of
things, he so far arranged himself in his day apparel that he felt ready
for any emergency; it was not according to Cæsar's sense of propriety to
be caught in just the shape he had been. After fixing things a little,
he threw himself on the bed, talked away for some time, and even made
one or two broad grins, as though there was something on his mind not
very unpleasant, and finally sunk into a dreamy state, conscious, most
of the time, of the condition of external things immediately around him,
and yet so mixed up with things and places very foreign to them, that
it was not the easiest matter in the world for him to be sure whether he
was asleep or awake.

How long he had been lying in this state it would be difficult to say,
for time, under such circumstances, makes no tracks that are
perceptible.

Among other ideas that flitted through his mind, was that of a light
which kept flickering across his window, and occasionally brightening up
his whole room. For some time even after he was awake, he lay and
thought about it. Distinctly beholding the glare, which now had become
steadily bright, filling his whole room and absorbing completely the
light of his lantern, suddenly he sprang from his bed, his mind awaking
to a full consciousness that something was wrong; he hurried through the
stable, and calling off Trap from the pitiful object who had been
writhing under his surveillance, opened the outer door.

'Fire, fire, fire!' he called at the full extent of his voice--'fire,
fire, fire! Oh, my missus and de children!--the lord hab mercy.'

The old man forgot his age, and ran with the speed of youth.

The sight which had burst upon him was enough to have nerved with energy
the most sluggish and unfeeling. On Cæsar it broke with most appalling
interest.

He could not, indeed, get a full view, for the house was screened by the
large trees and thick shrubbery; but enough could be seen to assure him
that the dwelling was on fire; and the inmates, if they had not escaped,
were in imminent danger, for the flames were flashing up to the tops of
the trees, higher than the roof of the main building. In a few moments
he was beside the burning pile, and the whole extent of the awful
calamity was revealed to him. The fire was raging over the whole of the
back part of the house, having already completely enveloped the back
building connected with it, and was throwing its forked flames over the
high roof, while the pitch-black smoke, which rolled around the whole
premises without, gave awful forebodings of what might be the state of
things within. No alarm had yet seized the family that he could discern;
he listened in vain for any sound but the terrible cracking of the
raging fire.

He attempted the nearest door, but found it fastened. The wood-pile was
at hand; he seized the axe; at that moment two men came running into
the court-yard and calling fire. Cæsar barely glanced at them, they were
strangers to him; but he felt encouraged in his efforts; his arm was
nerved with the strength of his early days--one blow drove it from its
fastenings, and in he rushed amid the heat and smoke.

The two men followed him, but for a very different purpose than to
rescue the sleeping family from their fiery envelope.

When Mr. Rutherford left his home, as before related, his expectation
was to remain until the following day; but having accomplished his
errand early in the evening, he concluded to return to his family. It
would occupy much of the night, but he preferred spending it on
horseback, so anxious was he to be again with his wife and children;
they were all he had now, and his heart yearned after them with a warmth
of affection he had never realized before.

A little past midnight, as he was turning the summit of a hill, a sudden
flash of light shot up in the distance; he thought it was the glare of a
meteor; but painted on the clouds which overhung the western sky, it
left a deep-red glow. As he gazed, while slowly descending the hill, he
saw the flush extending, and gradually assuming a brighter and more
lurid aspect.

'It must be a fire; perhaps some poor sufferers are looking in anguish
upon the wreck of their little all.'

And on he went, ever and anon casting his eye at the clouds, and marking
their curious forms, as the light in fitful flashes displayed their
shape.

At times, across the distant hills, he seemed to think that he could see
the position of the fire, but intervening objects would again confine
his view, and he could only discern the light on the clouds above him.
Coming at length to an angle in the road, from which he could look in
the direction of his home, he was startled to find that there was a
clear and well-defined streak of light emanating from some burning
building, which must be at least in that vicinity.

Without being conscious of any decided alarm, he urged his horse to a
faster pace, and kept his eye more constantly on the light. For some
miles from where he lived the road ran among the hills; so that, however
great had been his anxiety, it could not be gratified until he should
emerge into the open country. At length he is ascending the last
eminence that intervenes between him and the objects of the affections;
the light is still blazing on the clouds above him; he hastens to the
summit, and beholds--heart-rending sight--the home of his childhood--the
dwelling where all his earthly hopes and love were clustered--a mass of
crumbling ruins, from which the forked flames were shooting up and
crackling on the still night-air; those demon sounds went in streams of
madness to his heart.

'Oh, my God!' he exclaimed; and deep in the sides of his horse he struck
his spurs, and the good creature was urged into terrific speed. It was
but a mile, and it was passed with a whirlwind's pace. Straight to the
burning pile he rode; a few person's he discerned collected as near the
fire as the raging heat would permit.

'My wife and children!--for God's sake tell me quick--where are they?'
He sprang from his horse, and was in the arms of the faithful Cæsar.

'All safe, Massa George! all safe, tank God!'

'Thank God! thank God!' and he fell upon the old man like a helpless
infant. He was carried into an outhouse, which had been spared by the
devouring element, and kind hands and hearts were soon about him
administering to his relief. As he awoke to consciousness, his beloved
Mary was bending over him, and her warm lips pressed to his in the
ecstasy of her joy.

'Oh, Mary! my dear wife! where are my darlings? bring them to me; let me
clasp you all once more!'

And quick they came. He cast a look on each, a fond, a satisfied look,
and then in one warm embrace he held them all.

'Oh God! this is enough--I ask no more. Let me have but these--poverty
in any shape may come; we will not fear it.'

'Amen! my dear husband; we will not fear it.'

It is often said by those who look on the dark side of Divine
dispensations, that troubles always come in clusters, and one deep
sorrow soon gives place to another. This may be true, but not in the
sense which these croakers of misery would intimate. As happiness and
unhappiness are often but relative terms in our changing world, it needs
but the wise Director of events so to time the dispensations of his
Providence, that one evil may counteract another, or to hold up before
us the certainty that we and every interest near our heart are at his
disposal, to bring us quietly to acquiesce in his will; and in that
submission there is peace. George Rutherford, as he rode towards his
home, amid the solitude of midnight, pondering over his ruined fortunes,
felt that he was suffering the severest stroke which could have come
upon him; but when he came in sight of the spot where that home had
been, when he looked upon the terrible flames, and felt the dread
uncertainty which hung over the fate of those dear ones of his heart, he
then felt that God, his Sovereign and his Father, had at his command
profounder depths of sorrow in which his soul might agonize. The loss of
fortune was but a mere sip of the bitter cup, a mere mist from the dark
and waste wilderness of mortal suffering; and when he folded his dear
wife and children in his arms, he felt, as he said, 'Let poverty come,
we will not fear it.'

But he had yet to learn the full meaning which that word conveys. Little
could he tell, born as he had been to affluence, the anguish which would
at times wring his spirit; his resources drained, his home destroyed,
the little comforts to which his family had been accustomed, the
gratification of their finer tastes, the elegancies of life--all cut
off; it was well for him that he could not know at once the full extent
of that change which had passed upon his fortunes.

One bitter ingredient in his cup was, that he could now plainly see that
he had been remiss in that watchfulness and care which were demanded of
him, over the inheritance that had been bequeathed to him. His kind
feelings had been indulged without the exercise of common prudence, and
he had permitted a morbid sensibility that shrunk from a just suspicion
of those whose delinquencies he was not wholly ignorant of, and last,
though not least in the catalogue which he reckoned up against himself,
was his gross neglect in regard to some things requiring but a moment's
attention, and yet involving serious consequences. The most mortifying
and truly disastrous of these was revealed to him a few days after the
scenes recorded in the last chapter. It occurred, too, at a moment when
his spirits had begun to revive a little from their depression. It had
been suggested to him that the time was not far off when his tract in
the barrens would be of immense value. Hitherto it had been estimated
comparatively as but little worth. The timber was indeed large, and its
value, when it reached the market, considerable; but the cost of
preparing it and transporting it so far left but a trifling return to
the owner. A new demand was about to be created in the successful
application of steam for river navigation. As hope began to agitate his
bosom, he immediately remembered that he had, but lately, been examining
the deed by which he held that property, and had noticed that there was
no certificate upon it of its having been recorded, and that he had
designed having it placed upon the public register. This design he had
not accomplished, and if it was not there, it was gone for ever, as he
knew the flames had devoured the original, with all his other papers.

Hoping that it might still have been recorded by his father, and the
notice of the fact neglected to be put upon the deed, he immediately
ordered his lawyer to make the search. It was in vain; and to add to his
chagrin, the gentleman who made the search informed him that a deed
which Mr. Cross had received from one of the original proprietors,
intended, as was supposed, to convey a title to only a few acres, did,
by this discrepancy, possess him of a vast tract of many miles in
extent. Terrible indeed was this blow to him; his last hope of
retrieving his condition vanished. He must now look abroad upon the wide
world for some honest means of supporting his family. How he envied the
laboring man, who, accustomed to toil from his boyhood, went forth to
his daily occupation with a lively spirit. How gladly would he have
taken his place, no matter how severe the work; but his muscular power
was not equal to it. Trained to no regular business, stript of all
external dependence, he saw before him but a dark and misty wilderness,
through which he must grope his way as he best could.



CHAPTER XXII.


The influence which Henry Tracy was enabled to exert can only be fully
known when all results and causes shall be developed in the clearer,
brighter light of eternity; but a vast amount of good was manifest, even
to those whose moral vision was not the clearest. Many a young mind was
stimulated to exert its dormant energies, and feeling its strength,
rushed on to distinction. His pleasing manners were a beautiful
accompaniment to his cultivated mind, and gave a decided tone to those
of the young who had any taste for what was refined and elegant. Nor was
the renovation he was accomplishing altogether hidden from himself; a
great change was working--he saw it; it did not fill his heart with
pride, it only stimulated him to further progress, and warmed his
gratitude to God. One thing was certain: he had entwined himself around
the hearts of all, and his own affections were more truly interested
than they had ever been before, beyond his parents' roof. It seemed to
be the place where God would have him be--'The very niche he was
designed to fill.' It was also the means of deciding him as to the
calling he should pursue for life. To be suitably fitted to take the
spiritual charge of a people, no matter how secluded or unpolished they
might be, was now his highest aim; and after a suitable time he made
known to the principal men that this was his intention, and that he must
leave them, and go where he could obtain the necessary instruction.
Little did he realize the hold he had of their affections, until this
determination was expressed. Nothing would satisfy their yearning
towards him but his promise, that, when through his course of study, he
would come and be their minister.

'We will build you a church just on the spot which you have selected,
and we will put you up a house, that you shall call your home as long as
you live; only promise that you will come and spend your days with us.'

How could he say 'Nay'? Three years in all has he been separated from
them, and now for more than a year he has been settled over them as
their pastor. They have erected a church, and it stands, as we have
seen, on a beautiful knoll that commands a lovely view of the
surrounding waters; and they have built the parsonage, and it is near
the church, embracing the same enchanting water view, although somewhat
obstructed by its embowering trees and shrubbery. It is, however
unoccupied, for Henry is yet a single man, and whether his affections
are engaged, it matters not. He has made no declaration of them, and
retains his old situation with the Widow Andrews.

A favorite resort of his has been the cottage of Mary Brown. He loves to
ramble amidst the seclusion of the thick forest, to call in at the poor
cottages, give a word of comfort or instruction, and then rest himself
at the table of the widow, and listen to her ready converse about the
things of a better world. Sometimes, too, he seems not at all unwilling
to listen while the widow talks of one she loves most dearly. Henry had
met with Hettie Brown occasionally at Mr. Rutherford's. He had been
struck with her appearance, and we need not be surprised at this, for
she is some years older now than when we last saw her. The pretty girl
with sun-burnt face, and curly raven locks, and dark hazel eyes, is now
a lovely young woman. Nor was it her appearance alone that surprised
him. Hettie had studied nature rather than books, but she had gathered
quite a little store; and the ease with which she conversed, and the
variety that her mind brought forth, together with the deep interest she
manifested as he poured out from his own more enlarged mind the
treasures of knowledge, convinced him that she had a desire for
improvement, and an appetite for acquiring information that would make
her an agreeable scholar.

A warm yet lovely afternoon had tempted Henry to seek the refreshing
shade among the pines; and not caring to extend his walk, he directed
his steps at once to the widow's cottage.

At that period of the day, he generally expected to see her sitting a
little back from the house, beneath the shade of a large white pine,
whose thick and spreading branches afforded a cool and pleasant shelter
from the rays of the summer sun. Missing her in her usual seat, he
entered the cottage; the moment he stood upon the threshold, he raised
his hands and remained perfectly stationary, looking in silent
astonishment at the scene before him.

His eye met that of the widow; it was mild and calm as ever, but no
smile returned his greeting, and she turned away immediately towards the
object that then engrossed her heart, and perhaps intending thereby to
direct his notice thither also.

It was enough, indeed, to have chained a mother's attention; for on the
bed by which she was sitting, lay her only son, for whose sake she lived
thus alone, senseless, but still alive; his pallid countenance and
sunken eye and cheek, his short faint breathing, all plainly indicated
that life was held but by a slender thread--so slender, that a trifle
might sunder it for ever. Close by the head of the sufferer stood his
sister, gently waving a large fan, and thereby relieving in some measure
the closeness of the atmosphere, which, to one so weak as he appeared,
must have been oppressive in the extreme. Neither mother nor daughter
attempted to offer any explanation of the circumstances; and Henry had
too much delicacy, and was too sincerely affected by what he saw, to
intrude any questions, or interrupt the perfect silence of the sick
chamber.

Gently rising from her seat, the widow touched the arm of her Hettie,
who resigned the place and the fan, and turning her sad yet beautiful
eyes toward the young minister, and stepping lightly to the door,
signified that she wished him to follow.

He offered his arm, and in silence she led him to a shade sufficiently
removed, so that the sound of their voices could not reach the cottage.
Resigning her arm, he motioned her to a seat.

'Thank you; I cannot sit, but must return immediately. You have heard of
my brother's illness?' looking full at Henry.

'Not a word. But tell me what could have brought him so low in so short
a period. When I was here a few days since, your mother said nothing of
his being sick.'

'He was brought home two days ago in the condition you now see him.'

Hettie was much affected, and it was some time before she could command
her feelings so as to give a clear recital of all she knew: 'That he was
found lying by the road--that he was at first supposed to be dead--that
a litter was made, and upon it he was brought home--that the ground
where he lay was covered with blood, and other marks of a violent
scuffle--that he had not spoken a word, nor could any one give the least
explanation of the matter.'

'Let me go with you to him at once,' said Henry.

Henry entered the cottage with her. Little, however, could be done
besides keeping the sufferer as quiet as possible, and administering
some slight nourishment; and thus he lay from week to week, living,
breathing, barely able to make himself understood by sign or word, and
nothing more. But Henry was not the only male friend who clung to them
in this their hour of need. David Cross had been almost a constant
attendant from the moment William had been brought home. David had
always been a visitor at the cottage; he had been invariably kind to the
widow, watching over her in her loneliness, seeing to her little wants,
calling and sitting many long hours, and apparently not unwilling to
listen to her instructions, and ready to do any act of kindness,
insomuch that she felt for him almost the affection of a mother. She
pitied him, too, in his peculiar situation; he had no mother, or none
that he had ever known as such--it was said that she had died many years
ago; he had no brother, sister, or other relative beside his father;
from him he had never received many tokens of affection. He would no
doubt have been proud to see him rise in the world: and, as we have
seen, was very willing to accomplish this end at the expense of others;
but he was morose in his disposition, often unkind to the young man,
supplying him indeed with money, but as often lavishing his curses upon
him as any thing else.

Dave was naturally of a kind nature, but had been bred among those who
were rough and rude; his manners, of course, were more or less tinctured
by his education; his associates were such as would be likely to lead
him into wild adventures and corrupt practices. The only counteracting
influence had been that which the widow exerted over him; and his
conduct towards her evinced a kindness of feeling, and a sensibility to
better things, which those who saw him among his wild companions would
never have imagined. The heart of the widow yearned over him, and she
never lost the hope that David Cross would one day rise above his
present ways.

And besides all this, there was in his heart a strong and long-enduring
attachment for Hettie; he had been fond of her when but a girl; and his
interest for her had become an absorbing feeling of his heart. During
her long stay at Mr. Rutherford's, he had never lost sight of her; but
having either business to attend to for his father in that region, or
feigning it for his own ends, he would frequently take small parcels or
trifling errands from the mother to the daughter, and many a precious
bundle of good things had he brought from Hettie, through the kindness
of Mrs. Rutherford, to comfort and cheer the widow. He was, therefore,
by no means an unwelcome visitor at either house; his personal
appearance was not unpleasant--a manly, open countenance, a kind manner,
mingled indeed with some roughness, and a fearless, straightforward,
animated way, calculated to make a favorable impression. Hettie seemed
always glad to see him; so much so, that many of the family firmly
believed that she had other feelings towards him than mere neighborly
kindness. Mrs. Rutherford knew her heart in this matter, and was
convinced that such was not the case.

Hettie indeed did not love him, nor did she feel that she ever could;
and was careful to do nothing that might give him occasion to indulge a
false hope in regard to her. David had, as I have said, sympathized with
William on his sick bed; he it was who had brought Hettie home, and day
and night, with Henry Tracy, had been untiring in doing every thing for
their relief.

William's consciousness returned to him long before he had any ability
to hold conversation, and the dilemma in which he found himself involved
occupied almost constantly his waking thoughts. The desperate character
of Cross; the vile plot that had been executed against the unsuspecting
and noble-minded Rutherfords; the fate of the trunk for which he had
fought so desperately, the least whisper of which had not reached his
ear: all these subjects distracted his weak and flickering senses--a
terrible secret lay in his breast, which he had not the power to reveal
in any way that would be intelligible, and when revealed, must crush to
ruin the hopes of the friend who was watching at his side, by bringing
the father to an ignominious end. At times, in the agony of his
contending thoughts, he would groan aloud, and the large drops would
gather on his pale forehead. Hettie or the mother would bend over him,
and say some soothing word, and wipe his clammy face, and inquire 'why
he groaned? or where the pain was? or what they could do for him?' but
he would shake his head, and closing his eyes, give up awhile his
troubled thoughts and fall asleep. Thus day after day and week after
week stole on, and still he lay in his feebleness, gaining strength, if
at all, by a very slow and almost imperceptible progress.

It was at the close of a lowery day; the shadows of night were deepened
by a dark canopy of clouds which hung over the barrens. The Widow Brown
had lighted her lamp and placed it on the stand by the bed of her son,
wishing to sit as close to him as she could, while plying her busy
needle. David Cross was reclining on a low cot-bed; he had taken Hettie
to Mr. Rutherford's that day, and expecting to watch part of the night,
was anticipating a few hours' sleep. A gentle tap was heard, and as the
widow opened the door, a woman, clad in somewhat better garments than
was usual among the people of that region, stood panting for breath, and
looking with great earnestness, and in much apparent agitation--

'Are you alone, Mrs. Brown?'

'There is no one here, Margaret, but David, besides my sick son.'

'Oh, _do_ step out here a moment--_do_, Mrs. Brown;' and the widow
closed the door and followed the woman a few paces from the house. She
knew her _well_--poor Margaret! and she pitied her too; for Margaret she
had heard was once a pretty, happy girl; her home had been far from
there. In an evil hour, she had listened to the flattering tale of the
deceiver, and now she was a miserable dependant on the will of
Cross--his slave to do his bidding.

'I have run all the way, Mrs. Brown, from my house, and I want you to go
right back with me.'

'Not to-night, Margaret, surely; the weather looks so threatening, and I
don't like to leave William, and Hettie gone too. What has happened,
Margaret?'

'You must go, ma'am, this blessed minute, for poor Ned Saunders is
dying, and he says he cannot die in peace until he sees you. He has been
raving crazy ever since the night he was brought to my house; but this
morning he had a long sleep, and when he came out of it, his reason was
all straight--but such a distressed creature you never see. He says he
cannot live, and that he must see you--as he has something to tell you
which he dare not tell to any one else. You don't know, Mrs. Brown, what
a worry I am in; for you see Cross has charged me, by the worth of my
life, to let him know the moment Ned had his reason. But I am afraid
there have been some evil doings, from what Ned says; and if Cross
should get there before I return, there is no telling what he might do
to me.'

'Well, Margaret, wait here a minute until I put my things on.'

The widow was soon in readiness; and having committed matters to the
charge of David Cross, without giving any particulars further than that
she had a call to a neighbor's, closed the door and went on her way,
dark as was the night and gloomy the errand on which she was bound.

Margaret led the way; and excited by an impulse of some terrible kind,
hurried on through the dark forest with maniac impetuosity. Their path
was a difficult one to traverse, for it lay through an unfrequented
region, and the opening by which they went, it was almost impossible to
trace by the feeble light which yet glimmered from the close of day.
Guided almost by instinct, Margaret pioneered, and the widow followed
with all the speed she could make. For awhile they skirted the side of a
thick and tangled swamp, and then turning a little to the right, came at
once upon the feeble twinkle of a pine torch from the window of a log
hut.

'Anybody been here, Ned?'

'No one. Has she come?'

'She is here.'

And the sick man raised his eyes to catch a glimpse of her he had wished
so much to see, while a smile almost lighted up his wild and haggard
countenance.

'Oh, Aunty!'--this was the familiar title by which the good woman was
generally addressed--'oh, Aunty! I'm so glad you're come. I'm a'most
gone.'

'I hope not, Edward.'

'Yes, I am. I thought I couldn't die till I see you. You've often talked
to me, you know--and I thought it was all foolish--I don't think so
now.'

He had to pause, for his feelings were greatly excited, and his frame
apparently near dissolution. She put her hand upon his forehead, and
felt that the death-damp was gathering there. She wiped his face with a
cloth, and bathed his temples with some spirit: this revived him a
little, and apparently in an agony to unburden his mind, he seized the
first return of a little strength.

'Oh, I have been so wicked! I shall go to hell--I know I shall.'

'Are you truly sorry, Edward, that you have sinned against God?'

'Oh, yes! I'm sorry--but what shall I do? I know I deserve to be
punished; but oh, Aunty! how can I meet God?'

'If you are truly sorry, and pray to God to have mercy on you for
Christ's sake, He will forgive you, Edward; for He has said so.'

'Oh, has He said so? Where? tell me quick, Aunty; for I feel the cold
creeping over my heart--tell me quick.'

'In the Bible, Edward: it is full of promises to those who repent of
sin, and turn to God through Jesus Christ. He came into the world for
that very purpose. He hung upon the cross for us poor sinners: and while
he hung there, he pardoned a thief that was hanging beside him, and
about to die. He says, "Whosoever cometh to me, I will in nowise cast
out."'

'You don't think He will save such a worthless sinner as I am?'

'Oh, yes, Edward; if you throw yourself upon His mercy, and ask Him to
forgive you.'

The dying man turned his eyes away from the widow, raised them towards
heaven, and clasped his trembling hands together,

'God have mercy upon me, a poor sinner--a dreadful sinner! for Christ's
sake; for _Christ's_ sake, only for _Christ's_ sake!'

And the widow wiped away the big drops that stood upon his clay-cold,
forehead. Again he fixed his eye upon her--

'But, oh! there's a dreadful load upon my heart--there are--some
things--I have done--that must be told--I cannot keep them. Come, lean
your head down close to me.'

The widow was by no means anxious to hear his tale of sins and
misdoings, but she obeyed his request. He was greatly excited; his
breath flew back and forth like a weaver's shuttle, and he could only
get the words out by catches.

'You know--Rutherford's house--has been burnt--and I don't know--but
some of them were burnt in it. Cross--hired me and two others. We wanted
to get a trunk--a tin trunk--I fired the house. They got the trunk--and
I brought it along. Your son Bill met me on the road and struck me from
the horse--and tried to get the trunk. We grappled--and I thought I'd
killed him--but I don't know nothing since then--that's all--oh dear!
Why did I go? Cross, Cross, Cross--did it all;--but, oh God!--here it
comes--'

He ceased speaking--his lips trembled, his eyes rolled back
convulsively--he clutched at the clothing, a spasm shook his frame--it
was death's last stroke; and as the quivering limbs settled into rest,
breath and pulse were still.

The widow saw that he was dead; and clasping her hands in silent horror,
she looked at poor Margaret for an explanation. Margaret shook her head.

'Don't speak; I believe it is all true, but you must not stay here a
minute longer. The poor fellow is dead, you can do him no good; and
Cross may be the death of me, if he finds you have been here--hark!'

The noise of approaching footsteps was distinctly heard; but before they
could make the least effort at concealment, the door opened, and Cross
entered.

The widow spoke to him in her mild, pleasant way. He manifested great
confusion tried to speak calmly, but his voice choked and trembled
greatly. He cast his eye quickly on the bed--

'What! _dead?_ Ned is not _dead_?'

'Yes,' said the widow; 'he has just breathed his last. Can I be of any
service to you, Margaret, by staying here? If I can--'

'Oh no,' replied Cross, quickly; 'there is no use, we won't trouble Mrs.
Brown.'

'Well, then, I will be going, as it is getting late in the evening.' So
wishing them good-night, she quietly stepped from the door, walked
slowly a few paces, and then hurried along with as much speed as the
darkness would permit.

No sooner did Cross perceive that the widow was gone, than his
countenance assumed an aspect of the fiercest rage.

'How is this?'--clenching his fist, and shaking it near to the head of
the trembling, wretched female--'how is this? How came that old canting
hypocrite here?'

'Ned begged me to go for her: he said he could not die in peace until he
saw her.'

'Die in peace!' and he stamped his foot with rage--'die in peace! and
did not I charge you, by your life, to let no human being see him in his
reason, but myself?' And saying this, he caught her by the hair, and
dashed her with his utmost power to the floor. She arose, without
uttering a word or groan, upon her knees; she caught him by the arm; he
endeavoured to thrust her from him, but her hold was the grasp of
despair; at once he drew a poniard, that he always carried in a
concealed case at his side; she saw it glitter as he held it up in the
act of plunging it to her heart.

'Oh mercy, mercy! for God's sake--for the sake of him who calls you
father, don't kill me! Remember all I have suffered for you--the mother
of your only child, though you have never owned me. Have not I always
done your bidding? lost my soul and body for you?'

Pity, or some other motive, unnerved his arm--he could not just then do
the deed; but hurling her from him, threw her to the other side of the
cabin, like a reptile that he hated.

In an instant she was on her feet--a rifle was in her hand, and it was
pointed in deadly aim at her vile oppressor. The gun Cross had not
noticed--it always stood loaded; for Margaret (or Meg as she was called)
lived alone, and in that wild place had learned how to use it. He had no
idea that the poor worm he had so long trodden upon could ever turn
against him; but when he beheld her eyes glaring with fury, and the
deadly weapon levelled at his breast, his blood curdled at his heart.
He made a step towards her.

'One step more, and you are dead!'

'Put that down, Meg; I don't want to hurt you.' The poor craven now
began to cower, and thought that a few soft words would obliterate a
life of abuse, carried to a point where woman's love turns to the direst
hate.

'No, never! Stir but one foot--move but a single limb--and you will lie
beside that wretched victim of your hellish arts. Hear me now, David
Cross; I am no longer your slave. You have ruined my name; you have
defrauded me of the title of wife; you have made me disown my child; you
have kept me in poverty, and made me a companion of outcasts; and now
you have thrust me from you, like a hideous reptile--but your hour has
come; that miserable being, whom you sent here a raving maniac, has let
out your secret--it is already on the wings of the wind.'

Cross trembled in every joint; a fiend, with demoniac power, seemed
glaring at him in the being whom but a moment before he had so
shamefully abused.

'Meg, forgive me. I have wronged you; I know I have. Don't take my life,
and I will make it all right. I will say you are my wife; I will do
anything you want.'

'_Forgive_ you? Yes, I will forgive you, when you bring back my poor
parents who went down to the grave mourning for her you ruined; when you
can tear from my mind the memory of wrongs none but a woman's heart
could ever have borne so long. Forgive you? no, never. Your life you may
have! but _go_--before the dreadful feelings which have been burning in
my heart blaze up again. Go! go quick--'

He waited not, but moved to the door, stepped trembling from the
threshold, and hurried away through the dark forest.

The moment Cross had gone Margaret opened a small trunk, hastily
gathered together a few articles of dress, and slipping a little roll of
paper containing her stock of money into her pocket, tied up her
clothing in a bundle, cast one look upon the dead body, and then quitted
the wretched tenement she had so long called her home, firmly resolved
never to enter it again.

She hastened at once towards the cottage of the Widow Brown, and so
rapidly did she thread her way through the intricate path, that before
the widow had passed over half the distance to her home, Margaret had
overtaken her.

'Don't be frightened, Mrs. Brown; I did not think to reach you so
soon--but stop and listen to me.'

The widow had indeed stopped, for Margaret came upon her so
unexpectedly, that she was much alarmed, and deprived of the ability,
even if she had the will, to escape.

'I will listen to you, Margaret, but I have heard dreadful things enough
to-night. I am almost distracted now.'

'I would not add a straw to your burdens, my dear good Mrs. Brown, but I
am a poor distressed creature. The whole of my life for these many years
has been one scene of misery; but I can bear it no longer, and this very
night will find me many miles from hence.'

'Oh, _do_, don't talk so, Margaret. Come go with me, and rest you for
the night at least; it is so dark, and beginning to storm already.'

'This darkness and the rain are no troubles to me; but just listen one
moment. You know that I have told you what I have no other human being.
One secret more I must commit to you--that young man who is now at your
house is my son.'

'David Cross your son, Margaret?'

'It is God's truth, and all I want of you is, whenever you think it
best, to let him know what I have told you. I am now on my way to the
city. I shall seek a place of service, and when I find a resting-place,
if there is any such spot for me on earth, I shall let you know. But one
thing I must beg of you--Cross has treated me like a brute, and I came
very near taking his life to-night; but for David's sake, spare
him--don't reveal the terrible tale you heard to-night. Promise me, now,
won't you'--and Margaret fell upon her knees and clasped the arms of the
widow--'promise me, you will not reveal it without in some way you are
obliged to do it?'

'Why, Margaret, my mind is so disturbed by all these scenes, that I
cannot think of things as I should like to before making any promise;
but you know I love David, and would be as careful of injuring him, as
my own child.'

'That is enough; but oh, do just put your hand upon my head, and say one
prayer over me. I shall go lighter on my way, for I have but a heavy
heart, and a weary road lies before me.'

'May God bless you, my child, for Jesus Christ's sake, and make a way
for you to some place where you will be in peace; and may you yet have
some comfort before you die.'

'Amen!' said Margaret; and seizing the hand of the widow, which had
rested on her shoulder, she kissed it again and again, and then
departed.



CHAPTER XXIII.


Mr. Cross was in no enviable state of mind as he hastened along in the
darkness, after leaving the hut of Margaret. The disappointment he had
suffered in finding that Ned Saunders was dead; the terrible fright he
had endured while standing with the rifle at his breast; the
mortification of begging his life at the hand of one he had so long
triumphed over; and above all, the knowledge that his secret was
abroad--all operated with maddening power, and worked up a tempest
within, that raged and tossed until he was bewildered by its fury. He
passed his own dwelling without stopping, but hurried on, directing his
steps to the north, through a by-path amidst the towering pines.

After some miles of rapid walking, he reached the edge of the barrens,
or rather that part of them that had been cleared and in some measure
cultivated. He here descried the twinkle of lights from a small
settlement. To one of these, a little separated from the rest, he soon
came, and knocked with some violence at the door.

'Come in.'

Cross tried the latch, but finding it fastened, repeated the knocks in a
way that showed he was in earnest to be let in.

'Come in, I say--but stop, may be the door is fastened. Who are you?'

'Open the door, will you? it's me.'

'Aha--that I will;' and the bolt was withdrawn quickly.

'Why, neighbor, is this you? how are you? come in. Well, you are the
last man I should have thought of seeing here this dark night--take a
chair, neighbor--what's the news?' And as Squire Foster (for he was the
gentleman whom Mr. Cross had honored with a visit) said this, he threw
away the smile, or rather grin, that had played over his sallow and
flabby face, and assumed his naturally sly and mouserly look. 'Any thing
good abroad?'

Cross was in no talking humor: so let the gentleman run on, and in the
mean time helping himself to a chair, sat down, and leaning back against
the wall, fixed his eye, dark and lowry, full upon the little light that
stood flaring and smoking on the middle of the table.

'Well, there's the devil to pay now!'

'Where? what, what, neighbor--any news?'

'None that you will want to hear. Ned Saunders is dead.'

'One rogue less, then, neighbor, ha, ha! he won't tell any tales then
about here.'

'But suppose he has told the tale already?'

'That would be bad, neighbor; but you don't mean to say that he has?'

'Yes, I do mean to say so; and the question is, what you mean to do
about it?'

'What _I_ mean to do about it?' and he looked at Cross with a vacant
stare.

'Why you know we are both implicated.'

'Why, neighbor, that is all between you and me. You know I have been but
a mere counsellor.'

'Yes, and a pretty scrape your counsel has got me into. Here is one man
dead, the two others gone out of reach, and the thing itself nowhere to
be found. Like as not Rutherford has got it back again, and we have had
our labor for our pains, and may be something beside not so agreeable.'

'Well, now suppose, neighbor, I should tell you that Rutherford has not
got it?'

'Do you know that? and how?'

'What would you give if I should tell you that I have got it, safe and
snug in my own hands?'

'Give! I have given enough already; but where is it? let's see it.'

And Cross arose from his leaning posture, sat his chair square on the
floor, and himself very erect in it, and looked fixedly at the Squire.

Foster noticed the movement and the look of Cross, and without speaking,
arose and stepped into a small adjoining room, took something from a
case that stood upon an old dressing-table, and thrusting it hastily
into his bosom, came back and resumed his 'Have you got it?'

'Got what, neighbor?'

'You know what, well enough--why, the deed. The trunk you may keep, but
the deed can do you no good.'

'Nor you, either, neighbor; it is safe--safe enough. I have got it, and
I mean to keep it.' And as he said this, he very deliberately drew a
pistol from his breast, and laying his hand on the table, leaned back in
his chair and looked at the pretty plaything. Cross eyed him keenly,
glancing from the pistol, which he saw was cocked, to the calm and
almost unmeaning countenance of Foster.

'What do you mean to do about this?'

'I don't know exactly, neighbor; but at present I shall keep it.
Something may turn up, you know--and to save a great deal of talk, as it
is getting late, matters must stand thus: I have obtained possession of
this at some risk; you agreed to pay me well, you know, if the job
succeeded. Go on then--slash away at the timber; cut down and sell off
as fast as you can--no one can hinder you--hand over half you get to me,
and all will go smoothly enough. Do you agree to that?'

Cross knew that Foster was a great villain, but he had never calculated
upon the chance of thus getting into his power; he knew now that he was
resolved upon a desperate course.

'I suppose I shall be sued as soon as I begin to cut.'

'No fear from that quarter. Rutherford is down, and has no means to
contend with; his creditors will get picking enough to satisfy
themselves out of his other property; and no lawyer will undertake the
job, on his own risk, without more show of a title than he can now
claim.'

'Well, if they do prosecute, you agree to see to it?'

'Ay, ay, neighbor, leave all that to me.'

'And suppose there should be trouble about what Ned Saunders has been
blabbing?'

'That won't amount to much; it will soon be known that you are the owner
of nearly all the barrens now, and they will be careful enough how they
raise their tongue against you; a man is not very likely to swear to his
own injury.'

As Cross arose to depart, the other gentleman left his seat also, and
dropping the hand which held the pistol, let it dangle by his side; the
other hand he placed in his bosom, and facing his guest looked at him
very complacently; a slight smile and a gentle, inclination of the head,
on the part of Foster, were all the greeting that passed, as Cross
neither turned his head nor uttered a word, but with a quick step left
the house, and went on his way.

The wages of iniquity are sometimes reaped in this world, and Cross was
just tasting the bitter fruit.



CHAPTER XXIV.


Mr. Rutherford had received his dear wife and children as it were from
the jaws of death, but it had been by the almost super-human exertions
of the faithful Cæsar, who, for a long time, was disabled by the severe
injuries he had received as he bore them through the burning building.
The noble beasts for which Cæsar had fought so bravely, with all the
luxuries and comforts of his large establishment, were swept away at the
demands of creditors, and nothing that he could call his own remained
except the faithful old negro--who, although a slave, was too far
advanced in life to be liable as property--and those dear objects in
which his heart still found some sweet solace amid the drear prospect
which surrounded him.

At present he was occupying a small house which had belonged to him
once, and used as a tenement for a laborer on his estate. Few were the
articles of furniture which sufficed for their use, and those had been,
for the most part, loaned for their immediate necessity. His lovely wife
still kept her pleasant smile, but her heart was smitten with a stroke
that pressed it down heavily. It was not the loss of all, nor the change
of abode, nor the rude and scanty furniture, nor all the other
aggravating tokens of their change of circumstances--but she saw the
struggle that was agitating her husband's mind; she could not relieve
him of that load of care; she could not obliterate from his memory past
errors, nor could she mark out for him a path that offered any other
prospect than the dark one in which they were travelling then. All she
could do was to make the best of what they had, to throw into her words
the softest tones, and to lighten up her countenance with the semblance
of hope she did not feel.

It was not long after they had thus been reduced to the extremity of
fortune's change, wearied with the turmoil of his distracted mind, Mr.
Rutherford was sitting at the little window that opened from their abode
upon the highway; his Mary was beside him, and she held his hand, and
fondly pressed it as she oft had done in better days, put it to her
heart, and let him feel how true it beat for him. The shades of evening
were just setting upon them, held back a little by the young moon which
hung out her crescent in the west, when a vehicle stopped at their door,
and a gentleman of lively mien alighted and prepared to enter. Mrs.
Rutherford went for a light, while her husband repaired to the door to
receive the visitor, whoever he might be, although, as he supposed, some
messenger of evil tidings, like all of late.

'Mr. Rutherford, I believe?'

'My name is Rutherford, sir; will you walk in?'

The stranger immediately followed, and entered their small apartment,
Mrs. Rutherford, at the same time, placing the light on a little stand.

'I expect you have forgotten me, Mr. Rutherford; my name is Andrews. You
remember the poor boy you helped some six years since.'

'Andrews--what, William Andrews!'

'The same, sir. A few years make some change in our appearance.'

It had, indeed, made some change, and one which entirely effaced every
resemblance to the plain and homely-dressed lad who, six years since,
had left his home to seek his fortune among strangers. He was now
well-dressed; and had the ease of manner which is acquired only by
mingling in society. He had grown in stature also, and was now a tall
and slender man; his fresh, healthy countenance had grown pale. He wore
his hair long, after the fashion of the South; his eye alone retained
its naturally soft and expressive cast, although its brightness was
dimmed, and seemed to indicate a want of energy in the physical frame.
His own mother could scarcely have found a likeness to his former self;
his very voice sympathized with the apparent languor of his frame, and
had nothing in it that would recall the lively tone of boyhood.

'It cannot be!' said Mrs. Rutherford, who now approached and took his
hand. 'Not William Andrews! Time has indeed made a change--but we are
glad, heartily glad to see you.'

'It is not time alone, madam, that has made a change in my appearance,
I suspect. I have been, you know, in a southern climate, and that takes
severe hold sometimes of us northern men; but I am very happy again to
see you, very happy indeed.'

Without the least reference by either party to the great change which
had occurred in circumstances, some little time was spent in a general
interchange of question and answer about persons and things; when Mrs.
Rutherford left the room, perhaps from feelings of delicacy to her
husband, who might not wish to refer in her presence to his own peculiar
situation.

'You find, Mr. Andrews, that there have been changes here too, which
perhaps must astonish you.'

'I have heard of them, sir, a few miles from hence, and have urged on my
journey further than I should have done. I need not say to you, sir,
that to me it is the most painful event I have yet met with in life. Is
it true, my dear sir? Are you as much reduced as report affirms and
appearance indicate.'

'I am as low down, so far as property is concerned, as I can be; there
is absolutely nothing left.'

And then, with much composure, Mr. Rutherford unfolded the complicated
maze in which he had struggled for some time, and the closing of the
scene in the last fatal blow. Although apparently unmoved himself, not
so was he who listened to the tale of suffering. The southern clime had
marred William's beauty, but it had only added to the warmth of his
heart. For some time after Mr. Rutherford had done speaking, he sat
wrapt in silent thought; his emotion too strong to dare trust the
utterance of a single expression. At length he rose, and taking the hand
of his friend--

'Mr. Rutherford, the ways of the Almighty are mysterious, but they must
be right. When a lone wanderer, you took me by the hand; you gave me
counsel, you assisted me with means, you introduced me to influential
friends; you made my heart glad then, and gave me an impetus which has
led me on to success beyond my expectations. The money I have returned
to you, but the debt of gratitude for your kindness to me in that hour
will remain an uncancelled obligation while I live. And now, sir, you
must take this trifle from me--I demand the right of a debtor to your
bounty--take it, and keep it for your present need; it must not, it
shall not be that either you or your angel wife know the pinchings of
want.'

His voice trembled so violently, that he could scarcely utter the few
last words; nor could Mr. Rutherford respond to this warm burst of
sympathy; it had gone directly to his heart, and caused a flow of
feeling that could find no vent in words.

'I must leave you for the night. God willing, I shall see you on the
morrow, and tell you all my story. You then will see that I do not rob
myself, and we will devise some other plan together.'

Mr. Rutherford shook his hand with a silent grasp, but it told the young
man that his offering of love and gratitude had done its work. Leaving
his best respects for Mrs. Rutherford, William departed.

As Mrs. Rutherford entered the room, after their guest had gone, she
found her husband seated by the stand, and looking at something which he
had spread out upon the table.

'See here, Mary.'

She stepped up to him, and putting her arm around his neck, stooped over
beside him.

'My dear husband! what does this mean? Five hundred dollars!' and she
looked at him in amazement.

'Yes, my love; it is five hundred dollars given us by that young man
whom a few years since we befriended: this is the way, my dear, that God
gives back the bread cast upon the waters.'

'Oh, my dear George!' and she threw herself upon his bosom, 'how glad I
am for you; you feel that you have one friend now, don't you?'

'Yes, Mary; and you cannot think how my heart leaps at the thought; one
sympathising friend in an hour like this, is indeed "cold water to a
thirsty soul"; but oh! that better Friend above, shall we ever forget
him, Mary? How good! how true! how wise! how unfailing! if we will only
trust in Him.'

They said no more: silently they sank together on their knees, and
poured out the fulness of their hearts to that Friend--that better
Friend above.

In the hour of our deep distress, when the dark clouds are around and
above us, the soul is prone to feel that the darkness which oppresses it
is the frown of God: we forget that love may be concealed, not turned
away.

To Mr. Rutherford's heart this mercy-drop came; a delightful assurance
that he was not forsaken, and that still the arm of sovereign love was
stretched out over him.

William Andrews had not been, for the few past years, engaged in the
active whirl of business to no purpose: he had amassed a few thousands
by a happy venture, and his success had been beyond his most sanguine
expectations. But this was not all; he had learned to grapple with
difficulties, and by energy and determination to accomplish results
which the irresolute and fearful could only dream of. He called the next
morning, and in a private interview with Mr. Rutherford procured from
him a particular statement of his affairs.

In a few days he called again; and there seemed to be a cheerfulness in
his air which he had not before manifested.

'I have been looking over your matters a little, my dear sir, and I
cannot think they are in such a hopeless case as you imagine. Your
property is indeed all attached, and if sold under the present state of
things would, to be sure, be dreadfully sacrificed, and might not bring
more than the claims upon it: you certainly value your estate beyond the
amount for which it is holden.'

'Most certainly; but by our laws an immediate sale can be forced; and in
that case, the whole will scarcely meet the demand.'

'You must apply then to some friend who will assume your debts'--Mr.
Rutherford shook his head--'and who will take your property into his
hands, until better times come round.'

'I have no friends, Mr. Andrews.'

'We once thought,' said Mrs. Rutherford, who was listening with much
interest, 'that we had quite a number; but friends do not always stand
the test of such a fall as ours has been.'

'But they could not possibly lose any thing, Mrs. Rutherford.'

'Perhaps they might not; still, you know, it is a delicate matter to ask
the favor, when not one of all who have been with us in our prosperous
days has seen fit to come near us now. My dear husband, until you so
generously had poured out your kindness, felt that he was alone in the
world.'

For some time each sat musing in silence over the uncertainty of human
fortunes and earthly friendships, when Mr. Andrews drew up to the table,
and requesting the attention of Mr. Rutherford a moment, began to spread
before him certain documents.

'Please to examine these, sir, and say whether they are correct.'

'These are my obligations, Mr. Andrews--I gave them in good faith; and
although I cannot meet them now, will own them to the last farthing.'
Mr. Rutherford looked with much astonishment, for he perceived that all
the responsibilities he was involved in were lying before him.

'Are there any more that you can think of, Mr. Rutherford?'

'There are no more.'

'Then, sir, you may take them and do what you please with them: all I
ask of you is, to give me a claim upon your property for this amount,'
naming not more than two-thirds the value of the notes. 'The interest of
that I am sure you can pay, and your property is once more your own.'

William was well aware that promptness in such matters was of the first
moment. He had at once liquidated every claim at a rate which each one
was glad to accept, and thus materially reduced the whole amount: this
he could be well secured for; the property of his benefactor need not be
sacrificed, and his heart was at rest.

Blessings on you, William Andrews! Your frame is slender, and seems to
be nurturing some hidden plague that may ere long make it a prey to the
worm; but it is the abode of a generous spirit. How its quickened pulses
beat with the ecstatic happiness which now plays within! Your eye is on
that noble pair; and the overpowering emotion which is thrilling their
bosom at this new and unexpected deed of love, is the richest feast you
ever tasted. Oh how they will bless you as the years roll by, when in
their happy home and on their own paternal soil they tread in freedom,
and think of him whose generous friendship snatched them from the brink
of ruin, and placed them there! Oh ye lovers of this world's treasures,
did you but know the secret charm these treasures can unfold! Go, dry
the widow's tears; go, aid the orphan's helpless steps; go, prop the man
of pure and noble soul, bowing beneath the weight of penury's heavy
load--and you will feel there is a talisman of untold value in your
hoards of gold and silver which you never dreamed of.

Mr. Rutherford had no idea of taking advantage of the arrangement
Andrews had made, and insisted upon giving a claim for the full amount;
but this William would not allow. He had made a fair bargain with the
creditors, and would not permit Mr. Rutherford to bind himself further
than the amount he had paid.

'You can, my dear sir, as you are able, make good to each one what he
has willingly relinquished.'

'And, God permitting. I will do it to the full amount.'



CHAPTER XXV.


We left our friends the Montjoys busy in their store, taking an account
of their affairs, and preparing to encounter the difficulties they had
been thrown into. They found things not quite so bad as they feared.
Should the whole loss be realized, all which they had made would be
swept off; but there would be enough to pay their debts--that was a
great comfort: and if they could but preserve their credit, matters
might all come right again. With the promptness which had ever marked
his conduct, the morning after the reception of the intelligence which
had given them such a shock, James was on his way to his friend McFall.

The statement which he was enabled to make was very satisfactory; and
would have been all that was required, could his friend have been able
to advance the funds. The pressure was indeed of a most serious kind,
affecting individuals and banks alike; and requiring on the part of each
the utmost skill and exertion to stem it through. James found that his
only resource now to meet the present emergency, was to lay his case
immediately before the Bank; if he failed to procure aid from thence, he
saw not whence it was to come. The power which by circumstances becomes
thus concentrated, can only truly be felt by those situated as was this
young man. Whether it be an individual, or a corporate body, and whether
they are conscious of it or not, the ability, for the time being, which
is at their command to afford or to withhold the life-blood of trade and
commercial credit, is the most despotic in its grasp on the mind of man
that can be conceived this side of infinite sway. It is not, of
necessity, the fault of those who wield it, that it should often press
with such sickening, despairing force; so long as enterprise shall
stimulate man to go a step beyond the means at his own disposal, must he
in some measure depend upon the aid of others; and once dependent, he
can never calculate with certainty upon enduring peace of mind. The
fluctuations in trade, like changes in the weather, baffle all the skill
of the most shrewd and far-sighted: they come at times before any
suitable preparation can be made to meet their destructive influence,
and the high-minded, honorable man is obliged to stand before the same
tribunal with the mean and designing, and for too often compelled to
submit to rules which make no allowance for character.

It was the first time that James had known really what it meant to ask a
moneyed favor. He had begun life as we have seen, and gone on, hitherto,
so much by his own means, that he felt more like a criminal about to be
arraigned, than an honest man in the discharge of duty; and nothing but
the absolute necessity of doing something to preserve the credit of his
house, and upon which every thing now depended, would have driven him to
it. He was not personally known to the cashier, and therefore his friend
accompanied him to the Bank, introduced him, and left him to tell his
own story. Fortunately for James, the person he had now to deal with was
a gentleman in every sense of the word; a man of large experience, at
home in all the routine of business, a complete financier, and with a
large share of true benevolence.

Every unpleasant feeling was, for the time, at once banished by the
agreeable, frank, and very kind manner with which this officer received
and addressed him. James felt almost sure that his end was accomplished.
He very soon, in a brief manner, related the circumstances in which he
had been placed by the sudden failure of so many persons, and then
handed to the cashier the schedule of his property and liabilities.

After carefully scrutinizing this paper with an air and expression of
countenance that showed his business character, the stern and cold
features of which damped James's hopes not a little, and at times caused
a fluttering at his heart, which he had never felt before--

'You are aware, I presume, Mr. Montjoy, that these are not only
precarious times, in which the Bank feel that the utmost caution must be
used, but the times are also very difficult. We cannot aid often, where
we not only wish to, but should feel safe in so doing. It is as
necessary for us to keep our credit unblemished as for individuals. I
will, however, lay your proposition before the Board; if you will call
again at one o'clock, you shall have the answer.'

Two long hours of intense anxiety were passed, such as James had never
before experienced. Not caring to return to the house of Mr. McFall, he
repaired to a grove which lined the banks of pretty river that glided
through the place; he sat down beneath the shade, and listened to the
murmuring stream and the warbling birds--they were sights and sounds
which he had always loved; but he now realized how necessary it was to
the enjoyment of nature's simple sweets, to have a mind at rest. How
often had he, after a weary day, sat in the quiet evening, and with Ned
enjoyed its calm serenity, and watched the moonbeams play upon the
water, or through the trembling leaves, and the bright stars coming one
by one and gemming all the sky! What pure and peaceful thoughts they
kindled, and how unalloyed the happiness that spread its soothing,
quickening glow through all his frame! How he looked back now, as to an
Eden, where he once had dwelt, but from which he seemed to be expelled
for ever! Care, that canker of the heart, had come and taken, like a
strong man armed, the full possession of his powers; tinging the heavens
and the earth with its dark hue, and spoiling all their beauties.

At the time appointed he returned to the Bank; it seemed to him that the
interests of the universe were at stake; and as he walked up to the
tall, commanding form of the Cashier, the man appeared to be vested with
a power that held the very springs of life at his command.

He was received with the same gentlemanly manner as at his introduction,
and requested to walk behind the counter and take a seat, and as though
he knew the workings of the young man's mind, and wished at once to
relieve his suspense--

'The Directors have concluded to accept your paper, sir; sit down, Mr.
Montjoy;' and James took the seat with a lighter heart than he had felt
for some time. 'They have done it in the confidence that your statement
is correct: and I will say further to you, sir, as you are a young man,
and have much business yet before you, that the manner in which you have
commenced and carried on your trade, has had great weight in determining
the decision of the Board. The times at present are very precarious, and
you will need much prudence; but, sir, I believe I can assure you, that
so long as you confine your operations to the regular run of your
business, any facilities you may need will be at your service here.'

The sun shone very brightly to James as he journeyed towards home that
day; nature was almost as captivating to him as in the days of
childhood; and the joyous shake of Ned's hand, and the calm sweet smile
of his mother, as they listened to his story, all made his heart leap in
gladness, and send up to Him whose blessing was the burden of his daily
petitions, warm and devout thanksgiving.

Thus the storm which had threatened to overwhelm these young men passed
with but partial injury. The foundation they had laid in patient
industry, prudent management, and stern integrity, bore them proudly on.
The wily plots of Mr. Cross were anticipated by the promptness with
which James attended to his affairs; and for the present, at least, the
young firm is safe.



CHAPTER XXVI.


The Widow Brown, in consequence of the disclosure made by the dying Ned
Saunders, was placed in no very agreeable situation. She thought that
the unhappy man had his reason, but she could not be so very sure as to
be willing to publish what might not after all be true, to the certain
injury not only of Mr. Cross, who had ever been kind to her, but of her
son also, who had wound himself around her heart, and for whom she had
been so earnestly entreated by that miserable woman who declared herself
his mother.

She comprehended but a very little of the nature of papers of any kind,
beyond those solemn legacies from God to man, which daily she perused
with love and gratitude. And what Ned Saunders meant by papers which Mr.
Cross was anxious to get hold of, she could not conceive.

'The poor, deluded soul,' said she one day, while walking alone, her
thoughts too burdensome to be kept in; 'I am very doubtful that he knew
what he said when he talked about those papers; and now that the
dreadful deed is done, what good end can be answered by publishing it
abroad? It will not build the house again, and God will avenge it in his
own time and way.'

She wished much, however, for the time when William should be able to
make some disclosures as to his share in the terrible transaction. That
he was a participator in the crime she could not believe; but that he
had attacked Ned Saunders, and that the consequences had proved fatal to
one of them, she had too strong evidence to doubt. The whole was
altogether beyond the comprehension of the poor widow, and all she
could do, at present, was to wait for time to make plain the path of
duty.

William, however, could no longer bear the struggle which agitated his
mind, and he determined to unburden it. As there were reasons why he
preferred to communicate with his sister, he took an opportunity, when
alone, to reveal all he knew, and let her into the secret of his own
present condition, and the villany of Cross. Hettie's first impulse was
to fly at once to Mr. Rutherford.

'He ought to be made acquainted with these facts without a moment's
delay.'

'But David, sister; think of him.'

Hettie was silent; she gazed a moment at her brother, then leaned back
in her chair, and resting her head upon her hand, was lost for awhile in
busy thought.

'David must be told, William; he must know it before any one else; he
has had no hand in it, and all his kindness to us demands this
confidence in him.'

William made no reply; he was much exhausted, and even the effort of
thinking was painful. The mother also now came in, and, wishing a little
relaxation, Hettie left the room and sought a favourite spot to which
she was in the habit of retiring, sheltered alike from the rays of the
sun and common observation--a tumult of distracting thoughts rioted
within; again and again she resolved the doubtful question as to her
present duty, and the difficulties attending any course which presented
itself to her were so great, that she most heartily longed for some
experienced counsel to guide her steps.

In the midst of her perplexities, she was startled at the sound of
approaching footsteps.

'I thought I should never find you. Your mother said she guessed you was
here; but that thick clump of bushes hid you so, that I had almost given
it up.'

'I come here occasionally; it is so retired.'

'I should think it was retired enough; but I don't see what you want to
get off so alone for; it is lonely enough, I should think, all over
these old barrens. But ain't you glad Bill is so much better?'

'He is better certainly, David; more like himself than he has been
yet--don't you think so?'

'That he is--but you look sick; you sit by that bed too much, Hettie.
You want a ride--come--Bony's at the cottage--go along with me: we will
soon bring your color back.'

'Not to-day, David; indeed I have no desire to ride to-day; and besides,
since you are here, I want to have some conversation with you upon a
matter in which you are deeply concerned.'

'Well, come on--I'm ready for anything--out with it. I'm so glad Bill is
better, I don't care what comes now; but look cheerful a little; do, I
beg of you; I have dark looks enough at home. The old man is so cross
about something or other lately, that he can't give me a civil word. I
thought when I came along, what I would give just to live among you
here. I tell you what, Hettie, I had rather live with you and your
mother, and have nothing but bread and water, only to hear kind
words;--well, you are queer--just now you was so pale, and now your face
is red as a rose.'

Hettie felt the flush which David had noticed; he had never spoken quite
so plainly to her before, and she began to fear what next might come; so
she commenced the unpleasant task of making him acquainted with his
father's conduct; but she did not give the account in the order that she
received it, for she began at the catastrophe, and told the story as
well as she could, without alluding to the main instigator of the plot.

'But what could have induced those men to commit such a deed? and what
could they have wanted with the trunk without there was money in it?'

'There was no money in it, but there were papers of great consequence.'

'Papers? what could they know about papers? they can't read, not one of
them; what good would papers do them?' said David; his countenance pale,
and his lips trembling with emotion.

'There is something more in all this that you have not yet told me,
Hettie; some one is at the bottom of it. Who is it?'

Hettie covered her face with her hands.

'Don't be afraid, Hettie; out with it--is it my father?'

Hettie burst into tears, and David sank to the earth, helpless as an
infant. Seeing that he was greatly agitated, and that he seemed in need
of help, she was about to go for her mother.

'Don't leave me, Hettie. Do you think that this is truth, and that
William has his reason?'

'He seems to have it, perfectly; he has given a clear account of things
from the first--I fear it is true.'

'Does any one know of this besides you and your brother?'

'No human being as yet.'

'Depend upon it, Hettie, if my father has instigated this act, he has
been in some way thwarted in his design; for his temper, never very
good, has been outrageous for some time past; so much so, that I have
made up my mind to leave him and this region for ever. There is but one
thing which keeps me; you and your mother are the only persons in the
world that I care much about--and you I love as I do my life. If you
will marry me, Hettie, I will get together all I have got; it will be
enough to purchase us a place far away from here, and we will take your
mother, and Bill, too, if he gets well; and how happy we shall be.'

Hettie was deeply affected, but she felt that she must deal plainly with
him.

'You must not talk so, David; you and I can never be married.'

'You are ashamed of me already, Hettie. My father's disgrace, I see, is
to be mine.'

'I shall never attach to you, David, any wrong your father has done--but
let us say no more about this. You have ever been kind to me and my
family; all that a sister can do for you, I will; beyond this, I hope
you will not urge me. But there are some things to be thought of that
must be done soon. Mr. Rutherford ought not to be kept ignorant of this
matter. I have, out of kindness to you, told you what I have heard, and
with a hope that you will make an effort to recover these papers, and
thus in part frustrate an evil design, and perhaps save your father from
a great calamity. William has told me that he has some faint
recollection of feeling the trunk taken from his grasp, while he lay in
that helpless condition. You think your father has not got it; probably
then, it is in the hands of some person who does not realize the value
of it, and may easily be induced to relinquish it.'

'I will do what I can, Hettie, to find out; but I caution you to let no
person know a word of all this, at least not until I have failed in
finding out some clue to it. Should Rutherford know what you do, and
make attempts to search, or to expose matters, it would be the very way,
as things are here, to have it put where no one can ever be the wiser
for it. If my father has not got the trunk or the papers--and I don't
believe he has, for the reason I have told you--it is probably in the
hands of some one who has taken it from Bill, and is afraid to say any
thing, for fear he would be charged with an attempt to murder.'

David's reasoning appeared so plausible, that Hettie coincided with him
as to the propriety, at present, of saying nothing further on the
subject to any one.



CHAPTER XXVII.


There were many things in the circumstances of Mr. Cross, in themselves
not very desirable. He had, to be sure, injured Mr. Rutherford; he had
destroyed his home; he had by his artifice, brought him to cruel
suffering and mortification; and he had wrested from him an instrument
of immense value to its rightful owner, although of very doubtful
utility to himself. But this very instrument had fallen into the hands
of one whom he hated and feared, and was now held over him as a rod of
terror, to force him into compliance with just such measures as the
dictator chose.

He had committed also a flagrant crime--one that rendered him liable to
the severest penalty of the law; and the knowledge of what he had done
was not confined to himself and his agents. One at least, besides, held
the fatal secret; and although she was a lone widow, and very much under
his power, still she might disclose it--perhaps she had already done so.

His situation was no enviable one. He walked by the crater of a volcano;
he could see the fires and hear the rumbling beneath him; at any moment
he might be engulfed.

The wicked make the toils which entangle and distress them, but they are
not the less troublesome on that account. Cross saw that something must
be done, and without delay. The first step was, to ascertain what amount
of information Ned Saunders had communicated to the Widow Brown, and
then by some means, fair or foul, stop it from going any further. There
was also a mystery about the disaster which had befallen William Brown;
somehow he believed it to be connected with the loss of the trunk and
the injury to Saunders, in what way he could not unravel; but he firmly
believed that William knew, if he could or would tell, more than any one
else. Cross had visited him frequently during his illness, and kept a
shrewd eye upon him, at the same time continuing acts of kindness
towards the family, as well as encouraging the attentions of David.

He saw clearly, at length, that William was recovering his strength, and
even guessed that he had more ability to converse than he felt willing
should be known.

It may seem strange that a father could be willing to expose his
baseness to a son; but when the heart becomes accustomed to iniquity, it
loses the finer feelings, and becomes callous to all sense of shame, or
even desire for the respect and love of its nearest kindred. Cross
thought he saw how he might, through the influence of his son, keep a
hold upon that family, and he scrupled not to make a confidant of him,
even to the exposure of his own base purposes.

David had just returned from the cottage. It was at the closing of day;
Cross was alone in his store, and sat pondering upon his plans and
prospects, and the multitude of dangers surrounding him.

'Have you been at the Widow Brown's?'

'Just come from there.'

'How is Bill?'

'Better; pretty weak though yet.'

'Can he talk yet?'

'Not much.'

'Not much! Can he talk at all? if he can I want to know it. But where
are you going now?'

'Not far; up north a short distance.'

'You can't go now; sit down--I want to talk to you.'

David obeyed without making any reply; he did not fancy his father's
talks very much, but he feared to offend him.

'I've got into trouble, and you may as well know it: it has all been
done to give you a lift, and make you something in the world; but things
have gone wrong end foremost, and now we must make the best of them.'

Cross looked at his son and paused, seeming to expect an answer; but
David either did not care how things went, or he wished to know more
about them before venturing upon a reply.

'You know Rutherford's house has been burned, and that Ned Saunders is
dead; he was the one who did that job. He's gone out of the way, to be
sure; but he has told a pack of lies to old Molly Brown, and if she
should blab it about, we might get into a mess of trouble; but I
suppose you know all about it--she has let it out to you, no doubt.'

But David made no signs of acknowledgment as to whether he did or did
not know any thing about it.

'Are you dumb, all at once, that you cannot speak when you are spoken
to?'

'You haven't asked me any question yet.'

'Yes, I have; has Molly Brown told you what Ned Saunders said?'

'She has not.'

'Has she talked about it that you know of?'

'Not that I know of.'

Cross sat silent for some time; at length making another effort, he
disclosed his purpose.

'The fact is, the old woman knows too much for our good. She likes you
well enough; you know that I suppose, and she has good reason to do so;
you can stop her tongue if you will.'

'I should like to know how.'

'How? Why, by marrying Hettie; she can't hurt us then, without hurting
her own child, and she won't be likely to do that. You shall have money
enough: the barrens are pretty much all ours now, or they will be when
this matter is once quashed.'

'How so?'

'Why, Rutherford's deed for them is burned up, and there is no record of
it, and mine covers it all.'

'But suppose I should tell you that Rutherford's deed is not burnt?'

'How do you know it ain't?' and Cross arose from his seat in great
excitement.

'Bill Brown has told all about it; he laid on the truck-bed under the
counter the night you and old Foster were here together.'

Dave looked at his father for the first time since the commencement of
the interview. The dim light that came in through the open door just
enabled him to see the ashy paleness that had over-spread his features.

'Get me some gin;' and Cross nearly fell into his chair as Dave stepped
up to him.

'Get me some gin, I say; quick!'

Dave immediately drew a tumbler of the clear liquor, and his father
taking it with both hands, with difficulty put it to his mouth, so
violent was his agitation; he accomplished it, however, and did not stop
until the glass was empty. Drawing a long breath, he handed back the
glass.

'Go sit down; I'll be better directly.' Some moments elapsed before he
could resume the conversation.

'Who has Bill Brown told that lie to?'

'He has told it to his sister; whether it's a lie or not, I can't say. I
shouldn't think he would be like to lie just now, with one foot in the
grave.'

Cross saw too clearly that his villany was fully exposed; he sat
apparently stunned by the perils which now hovered over him. David at
last broke silence.

'The best thing to be done is, to give Rutherford back his deed.'

'That can't be done; I have not got it, nor has it ever been in my
hands. There is only one thing that can be of any use now, and that is
to stop the mouths of that family; you can easily do that by marrying
the daughter.'

'It takes two to make such a bargain as that.'

'You don't suppose she would be fool enough to refuse you?'

'Fool or no fool, she has refused me this very day.'

Cross was again silent. It appeared that difficulties arose at every
step; but when the end to be accomplished was so important, the means in
his view were of no moment. A plan suggested itself to his mind, cruel
and base to be sure; but he was in a strait, and what were the feelings
of a gentle girl, even should her heart be broken, in comparison with
his own selfish ends?

'That is easy to get along with--there ain't half the girls round here
that ever give consent at all. Get her over to the old rendezvous; give
the boys and girls a wink, as to what you want; have old Goble on the
spot--he's used to it. She'll give in easy enough when you're once
buckled together; a little kind treatment and plenty of money will soon
settle everything; and when you are in the family, and they can't help
themselves, all will go right enough; and then, if they try to hurt
either of us, they will only be cutting their own heads off; they won't
be for doing that.'

In order to the clear understanding of the plan which Cross had
suggested, a little explanation will be necessary.

Among these rude people, the subject of marriage, and everything
connected with it, was treated in a peculiar manner; from first to
last, secrecy seemed to be the main ingredient in the whole business.
The courtship was carried on clandestinely, and very seldom was the
marriage ceremony completed--it could scarcely be said to be
solemnized--without at least a show of resistance and reluctance on the
part of the female; she being often fairly forced into the room by the
main strength of her companions, and never did the minister expect a
reply, or even the sign of assent to his questions from either party.
Goble, the character by whom nearly all the matrimonial bonds in this
region had been riveted for the last twenty years, was a nondescript
minister, who had some good things in his composition, mixed with a
great many others of a very doubtful kind. He could preach in a certain
way, on any occasion to which he was called, but he was very seldom
asked to perform any such duty, and was well content, so far as he
himself was concerned, to do nothing at it; he worked for his living at
a small trade, and that, with the trifling fees he received for some
professional services, satisfied his humble desires.

David Cross listened to these suggestions of his father, outrageous as
they were, with no little interest. He loved Hettie, or at least he
thought he did; but brought up and educated as he had been, he could
have no very correct idea of those pure and delicate feelings which
constitute true love: he supposed that he could make her happy, and felt
every disposition to do so. His interview with her the day before had
not been as satisfactory as he had wished. He had never before doubted
that she would willingly accept him, and had always looked upon her as
appropriated to himself; to be thus disappointed, was not by any means
grateful to his uncurbed will and unsubdued passions. It produced an
unhappy effect upon his mind--a sort of determination to get her into
his power; and he meant it in kindness too, for he was sure that he
could make her happy.

As his father, therefore, unfolded to him a way that his wish could be
accomplished, he eagerly caught at it, and even then resolved that she
should be his.

The meeting between William Andrews and his mother was almost too much
for the old lady; she ever had loved him dearly, even through all her
harsh treatment of him. She had heard of his prosperity in his letters
home; he had told her that he was doing well, and the supplies of money
which he occasionally sent to her confirmed his statement. But she had
not expected such a change in his appearance. His manners and style of
dress, and the consideration which was paid to him, caused the old lady
at times to feel almost sad as well as proud. William, however, was
unchanged in his affection, and left nothing undone that could manifest
to her his filial respect and love. The old house was refitted in the
neatest manner, as she preferred living in that, she said, the rest of
her days, to any new one that could be built. She would have been too
happy, were it not that too many tokens of disease manifested
themselves, for a mother's eye not to discern that there was a worm at
the root of her gourd.

The health of William was not benefited by his native air; the languor
which oppressed him became more and more distressing, and the sunken
cheek and the hectic flush gave sad notice to the hearts that loved him
of his fatal malady. But his spirits retained their elasticity, and the
hope of returning health seemed to grow stronger in his own breast, as
it grew fainter in the hearts of his friends. He thought he should he
better soon; and thus from day to day he went about among the neighbours
who were now clustered in his native village, and rejoiced in the magic
change which every where met his eye. What hours of delightful converse
he enjoyed with those whose enterprise had given the first start to all
these new and pleasant scenes, and by whose aid he himself had broken
the chains of idleness and vice, and arisen to respectability and
independence.

Jim and Ned were the brothers of his heart, and between the three there
was an interchange of the most entire confidence: Sam only was wanting
to have made the circle of his heart's desire complete.

Through the influence of William, Mr. Rutherford had been induced to
hire a tenement for the present, not far from the abode of the Montjoys,
until time should more clearly develop what course he ought to pursue
for his future support.

To this family he daily resorted, there he found another home, and in
their friendship he enjoyed a repose that seemed to him a paradise.

Hettie he often met, and treated her like a sister, so far as she would
allow him, but he had said nothing to her about love. Perhaps his heart
had been drawn far away, or the power of disease had so deadened his
feelings, that he could not arouse himself to the effort of attempting
to gain her affections, or perhaps he saw--for love is eagle-eyed--that
there was one on whom Hettie looked with just such feelings as he would
once fain have had her entertain towards himself.

Henry Tracy still retained his situation, and, of course, William and he
were thrown together in the same home; a sincere friendship had
commenced between them; the mild and social character of both seemed
formed upon the same basis. Although there was a vast difference in
their mental attainments, yet William had learned much from intercourse
with the world, and could impart valuable knowledge of men and things in
exchange for the intellectual stores which Henry had at his command, and
thus was his spirit beguiled from those dark and depressing thoughts
which often attend upon the sinking frame, and even hasten its decay.
Friendship met him at every turn in some new form, and her smile cheered
his sensitive spirit, and kept up a genial glow; quickening his languid
pulse, and animating him with unnatural vigor.

He had been spending the evening at the Rutherford's, and had been more
engaged in conversation than usual; it was near the time for retiring,
when he was seized with a slight fit of coughing; and on Mrs.
Rutherford's asking if he felt more unwell, as she noticed that he was
unusually pale--

'I am in some pain;' and he placed his hand upon his chest. She stepped
up to him, and found that the handkerchief which he had just taken from
his mouth was stained with blood.

The physician was immediately called in, but his hopeless look, as he
bent over the poor youth, gave sad presage of what the end would be. His
mother and sister were likewise soon with him; but Mrs. Rutherford
persuaded them to leave the care of him to her; and faithfully did that
kind and gentle lady watch by his sick bed. She and Hettie moved about
the apartment in that calm and unobtrusive manner so grateful to the
weak and suffering. Every thing was kept in perfect order, and all
tokens of a sick chamber were removed, save the chastened light that
came in through the drawn curtains, and the noiseless tread of those who
waited upon him. Their countenances, when around the bed, or bending
over it to administer some food or cordial, wore no gloomy aspect, no
anxious knitted brow, no look of sadness from the eye. He loved to gaze
upon them both; angels they seemed to him--attendants from a better
world, waiting on his frail body here, and soon to bear his soaring
spirit to the bright abode which they had left. And when he talked of
death, and told them he was going fast, and soon the struggle would be
over; sweetly they would speak about the heaven that was beyond, of the
pure white robes, and the golden harps, and the everlasting songs, and
the bright meeting they would have when care and toil, and sin and
death, were passed.

Mr. Rutherford was often by his side, and showed, in every word and
look, how much he felt. He could not hide his aching heart beneath a
smile; he loved too well the youthful sufferer. Obligations of the
tenderest kind he hourly felt. Nor was this all; he could sympathize
with him as a man; how full of ardent hopes, with prospects bright for
future years, and all earth's winning smiles beaming on his path, and
now to die so soon, was hard, he thought, even though an angel beckoned
him away. And thus when he stood by that silent bed, and heard the
short, hard heavings of his chest, and saw the daily inroads of disease
upon that face, which had so lately beamed like hope's bright star upon
his troubled way; he felt like one who looks into an open grave, and
hears the clod fall heavy on the coffin-lid; 'twas dark, all dark.

And at that bed, by day and night, whenever he could snatch an hour from
his varied duties, was Henry Tracy. His friendship had just begun to
kindle into warmth, when he saw that it must soon be extinguished.
William loved to have him near; he loved to hear him converse about
those realities which now alone absorbed his spirit; and well did Henry
know how to deal out the precious manna; so soft and clear, in tones
that fell like heavenly music on the ear. He talked about the
Saviour--for, to Henry, the name of Jesus was a name to quicken every
pulse, and fill the heart with holy joy; and when he spoke of Him, it
was as though he talked about a friend whose ardent sympathies beat in
unison with his own; a friend who loved, who was now near at hand,
feeling for all his woes, smoothing the dying pillow, taking away the
sting of death, and preparing a triumphant passage for his soul into his
own blest home.

William drank in his words until his spirit rejoiced within him, and
longed to depart. He had a strange pleasure, too, in seeing Hettie stand
by the side of Henry and listen to his voice, until her face would glow
with the holy fire it kindled in his breast; he could read in her
glistening eye, perhaps, what few others could. William loved her even
in death, and now, more than he had done for years past. He loved, too,
Henry Tracy. As he gazed on them by turns, he felt how well suited they
were to one another. He murmured something; Henry heard them, but though
Hettie caught but a word, the rich colour that spread over her pale
face, proved that she understood them. He spoke their names together,
and he blessed them.

Short were the hours after this that William struggled with the pains of
life; around him were all the dear ones he had on earth; there was no
violence of grief to trouble his departing spirit; hearts were bleeding
silently, and as the last breath went to heaven, a moment all watched
the still, sweet sleeper, and looked on silently while Mr. Rutherford
closed his eyes, and then sat down and wept until their burdened spirits
found relief.



CHAPTER XXVIII.


During all the period of Hettie's confinement around the sick bed of
William Andrews, David saw nothing of her; he felt satisfied that she
would not disclose what her brother had communicated to her. The efforts
which, in the mean time, he was to make for the recovery of the lost
document, were much relaxed by the interview with his father, as related
in a former chapter. He saw now that his ultimate object might be
gained, and suffered his selfish feelings to work their hateful purpose.
He continued his attentions to William and his mother, and did much to
supply to them the absence of Hettie.

Reports are easily set in motion, and, as every one is willing to keep
them moving, it is not strange that they spread so fast. Thus it began
to be whispered that Mr. Tracy and Hettie Brown were engaged to be
married; and although no one had any license for saying so, nor was it
actually the case, yet so it was said, and David among the rest listened
to the story. It took him not altogether by surprise, and only confirmed
him in his purpose to accomplish the plan proposed by his father.

The effort William had made to communicate the terrible secret which
harassed his mind, enfeebled as it was by disease, had nearly proved
fatal to him. The excitement produced by the thought of having the
matter made public, with all its consequences to himself and others,
together with the physical effort he was obliged to make in order to
explain things fully to his sister, brought on a recurrence of his
unfavorable symptoms, and as soon as Hettie could be spared from the
dying room of William Andrews, she was again at her mother's home,
although so exhausted in mind and body as to be able to do little else
than watch by his bedside.

'I could not come as soon as I expected,' said David Cross as he entered
the cottage of the Widow Brown; 'but we shall have time enough for a
good ride yet.'

David looked very pale, and his voice trembled as he spoke, but Hettie
did not notice it, for she was busy putting on her things. She had made
an engagement with him that morning to take a drive; she felt that she
needed the recreation, and as she supposed matters were well understood
between them, hesitated not in accepting such an act of kindness.

'I think you had better not drive far, David, for it will soon be night,
and William has not been so well to-day.'

'No, no, aunty, we shan't go far, or at least we shan't stay long, for
Bony is in good spirits.'

Hettie sprang into the buggy, and Dave drove off at his usual rapid
pace.

The rendezvous that Cross had spoken of in his conversation with his
son, was situated in the midst of the thickest and least frequented part
of the pines. It had once been used as a tavern, in days before Mr.
Cross set up in his more public situation. Of late years, it became the
haunt of all who wished to have a frolic as they called it--in other
words, a low debauch; and scenes of riot were enacted there which even
Cross himself did not approve. It was a lone place, and far from any
settlement; of course no restraint was put upon those who wished thus to
degrade themselves. It was also the chosen place for their marriage
scenes; these seldom, if ever, taking place at the home of either party.
Two old and miserable-looking beings kept the house, such as it was, and
on occasion of an assemblage, gave matters up to the company to do as
they pleased, their business being merely to deal out plenty of liquor
from behind an old counter in one corner of the room.

'I think we have gone far enough, David; I fear William will begin to be
restless.'

'I am only going as far as the house you see yonder. I must stop and
water Bony, and as he is so restless, if you will step in and talk a
moment to the old people, I will hurry all I can, and then we will be
home in less than no time.'

As they drove up, Hettie knew that she had not seen the place before;
but hesitated not to do as she was requested, although the house was
very forbidding in its appearance.

'You've come airly,' said the old hag who sat just within the door,
smoking a short black pipe. Hettie, not understanding her allusion,
looked at her in some surprise, without making a reply.

'I say you've come rather airly; the folks ain't none on 'em got along
yet.'

'What folks do you mean, granny?'

'Ay, ay, I see you're jist like the rest of the galls, you want to keep
it secret as long as you can. We know all about it though; but you're
goin' to have a smart un; Dave's a good feller.'

Hettie, supposing the old woman to be a little deranged, merely smiled,
and walked into the room. David had driven his horse away, as she
supposed, for the purpose of watering--Poor girl! she was in a trap, and
soon her light and happy spirit would be writhing in agony.

'Are you ready, David? but where is the horse?' seeing that he had not
driven to the door, but come into the room where she was, his
countenance pale, and with an aspect that alarmed her. 'Has any thing
happened, David? You are not well?'

'Come in the other room, Hettie.' She followed, but a strange foreboding
of some evil flashed upon her mind, and so affected her in her then
debilitated state, that she was glad to sit down on a long low bench,
which ran along under the windows, at the same time fixing her
penetrating eyes full on the young man. He took a seat beside her, and
turning his head from her--

'I want to talk with you, Hettie, on that subject which you and I have
had up between us lately.'

'What, David; about the trunk? have you heard of it?'

'No, there isn't much chance of doing any thing about that just now; but
you know what I said to you some time ago about our being married.'

'That I supposed was all settled, David. I told you frankly when you
first spoke to me, that it could never be; why should you bring it up
again? I meant what I said, and I feel just as I did then.'

'But it is not all settled: I have been thinking of you all my life,
Hettie, and you know how intimate we have been, and when I think of your
marrying some one else, as it is said you are going to do, I can't stand
it, Hettie, no how; and there is no use of talking about it.'

'But you surely would not wish to marry me if I did not love you, David;
and that I tell you now, as I told you before, I do not as I expect to
love the man whom I would give my hand to. You have been always very
kind to me, and to my family, and we all think much of you, and would do
any thing in our power for you, but on this subject I must beg of you to
urge me no further, for it can never be.'

David now rose and stood up before her. He took one of her hands, at
which she made no resistance, but he felt that it was cold as marble,
and lay in his grasp like a lifeless thing. He saw also that the color
had left her cheek, and that her lips were of a purple hue; the eyes
alone retained their life, and gazed at him with an earnestness that he
had never met from Hettie's eyes before.

'You must listen a moment to me, Hettie. I now ask you, once again, if
you will marry me. I can take good care of you. My father has agreed to
let me have money enough to purchase a handsome place, and we will go
away from these dreary woods. Your mother and brother shall accompany
us, if they will, and our home shall be theirs. I have invited the folks
round, and the minister is sent for; in a short time they will be here.
I want you to consent, and let it all go off smooth; but consent or not,
Goble shall marry us when he comes, and then I should like to see the
man that will separate you from me.'

Hettie was not prepared for this; she knew well what were the strange
and uncouth customs in that region; but little had she dreamed that they
could ever be brought thus to bear upon her. A thousand thoughts rushed
into her mind of the most appalling nature. She feared that her conduct
towards this young man had not been sufficiently guarded. She had
mistaken his character, and now that she was in his power it was
revealed to her in colors too glaring to be misunderstood. But her
courage did not forsake her. She was well aware that resistance would be
of no avail: she cast her thoughts to heaven, and prayed most earnestly
that God would make a way for her out of this trouble, in comparison
with which death itself would be a welcome messenger. She resolved that
there should be no misunderstanding of her feelings. She withdrew her
hand, and after a moment's pause, replied:--

'Your conduct, David, is as strange as it is ungenerous--unmanly. You
have deceived me by coming to this place; you have taken me away from
all help of friends. I am a woman, weak, and in your power; but I tell
you now plainly, I despise you for your meanness. I shall protest most
solemnly in the presence of your pretended minister, that I will never
own you for a husband. No: I would sooner suffer the most excruciating
torments, and die the bitterest death, than do one thing, by word or
deed, that could give you a claim to me.'

David Cross writhed under this address; but Hettie could not have
pursued a course more likely to confirm him in his purpose. He was cut
to the heart, and resolved upon revenge. He cared not now for her
love--she should be his slave.

As evening gathered over them, groups of females began to gather in the
room; and as she cast her eye over them, not one countenance did she
recognize as having ever seen before. They were arrayed in all sorts of
fanciful styles; their dark complexions set off by pink, blue, yellow,
and green dresses, according to the taste of the owner. Their untamed
characters were too clearly visible in their rude behavior; and as they
gathered around the suffering girl, the only sense they manifested of
feeling was a hard, unmeaning smile, and a wink at each other,
signifying that there was sport at hand. In the outer room, also, began
to be heard the boisterous laugh of men, and the rattling of glasses on
the counter, mingled with the harsh sounds of a violin, scraped by a
negro, who had grown grey in the service, attending upon all the orgies
of the country round. Little did Hettie, until that moment, ever think
that there could be grouped within a few miles of her mother's dwelling
a scene so nearly allied in her mind to the doings of the bottomless
pit; and as the merriment increased with the exciting potions that were
dealing out, her trembling spirit could only hang its hope on an unseen
hand. She had made up her mind as to the course she intended to pursue.
Resistance would be in vain; nor would an apparent opposition or
repugnance to the performance of the ceremony avail any thing. She
should therefore do as requested until the pretended ceremony began, and
then would most solemnly protest against the violence done to her, and
warn all present that her friends would prosecute to the utmost all who
had a hand in the wickedness.

As the groups were coming in, she anxiously looked among them for a face
that she knew, and at length espied one that was familiar, dressed in
rather poorer garments than the rest; a young woman whom she had in some
measure befriended. She soon caught her eye, and beckoned to her--

'Sally, will you get me a drink of cold water?' The young woman flew
with alacrity to do her bidding. As she came near with the cup of water,
Hettie spoke kindly to her, made a few inquiries, and then whispered in
a very guarded manner a few words. The girl appeared much astonished,
looked full at Hettie, and then towards David Cross, who was busily
engaged at another part of the room. She then carried away the cup, and
left the house.

Inquiries now began to be made after the minister.

'Goble ain't so hungry for his job as he is sometimes; he ought to have
been here half an hour ago.'

'He's getting old, Joe; he can't move as he once did. He'll be along,
though, by and by--no fear of Goble.'

The old negro, after a while, being pretty well warmed up with the
liquor, kept up an incessant jingle on his crazy instrument, bobbing his
old grey head about, and occasionally stamping violently with his foot,
as he became excited by his own melody. In different parts of the room a
couple might be seen shuffling away rapidly with their feet, tossing
their arms up and down as they held each other's hands, swaying their
bodies in all directions, and performing all sorts of uncouth gestures;
until, exhausted by the exercise, they would slap their feet hard on the
floor, let go of hands, swing round, and with a loud shout which was
echoed by an uproarious laugh throughout the room, mingle again with the
crowd.

How long these scenes continued, Hettie could not tell, nor did she heed
them much; her mind was too painfully oppressed in anticipation of what
she might yet be called to go through.

Henry Tracy had just returned from a visit to some of his charge, and
was quietly seated in his study, when the Widow Andrews, putting her
head carefully around the casement of the open door, said in a very low
voice,

'There's two of the Sheldrakes out here; they want to see the
minister.'

'Two what, Mrs. Andrews?'

'Sheldrakes--there's two on 'em, and they're round the corner by the big
tree; they won't come in, but they say they want to see the minister.'

Henry stepped to the window, expecting to see he hardly knew what; there
were, indeed, two uncouth looking figures, but he recognised them at
once as inhabitants of the barrens.

'Are those two men the persons you allude to, Mrs. Andrews.'

'Yes, there they are--there's two on 'em; they're the real Sheldrakes,
the critters are.'

Without waiting to inquire into the peculiar meaning of the term, he
went out immediately to them, and asked in his pleasant manner.

'Were you inquiring for me?'

'We's wanting to see the minister; there's a little job to be done up
our way, and as the regular hand is sick we've come to git you.'

Henry had become quite familiar with these rude sons of the forest, and
therefore their appearance and manners were not at all surprising to
him.

'What kind of a job is it you have on hand, my friends?'

'Oh, it's a little weddin' job; a couple of young un's want hitchin
together; and Dave sent us for Goble, but the old crittur's got the
rhumatiz, so he can't go no how; and as we thought it warn't no matter
who does it, so as it's done, we've come arter you.'

'What David? David Cross! He is not going to be married, is he?'

'But you won't speak of it; so if you will be about dusk at the corner
of the north road, we'll be there and show you the way.'

'I will be there; but you must not lose me in your wild country;'
smiling as he said it.

'Never fear, sir, we'll take you safe and bring you back safe, and there
shan't be a hair o' your head hurt; only you must'nt mind if the boys is
noisy a little; but when they see it ain't Goble that's among 'em
they'll behave more decenter, for they set store by you, minister, all
over.'

At the appointed time Henry was on the spot; a thick fog had settled
around as evening approached, and the two guides were obliged very soon
to light their pine knots. As Henry followed on through the thick
woods, had it not been that he was somewhat accustomed to scenes of the
kind, he might have felt no little uneasiness; for the men were wild
looking figures, their long streaming hair, rude garments, dark, Indian
countenances, together with the flaming brands throwing their pitchy
glare upon the huge trunks of the giant pines through which they
threaded their way, while all beyond the little circle of light in which
they walked was a wilderness of darkness--the whole scene required no
little confidence for one to be quite at ease. The men followed no
beaten road, but were guided in their course by marks known only to
themselves.

The sound of the violin and the hum of voices were at length heard, and
lights were seen close at hand.

'Have you got him, Harry?'

'Aye, aye; but tell 'em to stop their noise.' And the tidings could be
heard flying from mouth to mouth; the violin ceased, and all was hushed.

The room in which the ceremony was to be performed was spacious enough
to contain a large assembly. It was nearly filled; the men and women
standing promiscously in a dense mass, occupied about two-thirds of the
apartment, leaving a clear space sufficiently large for those more
immediately connected with the performance; within this stood a number
of the younger females with their arms locked, and forming a complete
ring encircling those who were intended to be the bride and groom.

Hettie had followed, as she had been requested, on the announcement of
the ministers approach; but the excitement under which she labored was
so great, that it required her utmost energy to sustain herself without
assistance, and she would have died before she would have sought it from
him who stood beside her; to have lost her physical or mental powers at
such a time, she knew would have been the end of hope for her. She stood
with her face covered, as the only way she could command herself, and
her agonized spirit poured out its terrible necessities to Him, who she
believed could alone help her. As Henry Tracy entered the room, a buzz
of astonishment ran through the assembly; the circle of girls opened and
extended itself, so as to permit him to be immediately before the
couple. He smiled, as he looked at David Cross, but casting his eye
quickly to her who stood beside him, the smile flew away, and a deadly
sickness came over him. He saw not her face, for it was still covered,
but those raven locks, and that lovely form, he had seen too often not
to recognise at once. For a moment he stood petrified with amazement,
unable to utter a syllable, or do any thing but gaze, almost with
horror, upon the terrible apparition which had thus risen before him.

Hearing the movement around her, and supposing the ceremony was about to
begin, Hettie sent one long, silent cry to heaven for aid, and then
uncovered her face. Had an angel from that bright world appeared for her
rescue, it could not have been more surprising to her than the sight of
Henry Tracy. She clasped her hands together, fixed her eye full upon
him, and uttering a scream of delight, flew towards him.

'Oh, save me! save me!'

'Where is she? where is she?' and a woman broke into the room. 'Where is
my child?' And Henry Tracy laid the fainting girl in her mother's arms,
and assisted in bearing her from the room into the open air.

When David Cross saw Henry Tracy enter the room, accompanied by the two
men whom he had commissioned to procure the services of Mr. Goble, he
know at once that his design was frustrated. His countenance was deadly
pale, and he cast a glance of fury at the two men, but he durst not vent
his anger either in words or actions there. The mighty spell which
Henry's influence exerted, even in this waste region, was too evident in
the perfect stillness which reigned the moment he entered the room, and
the looks of reverence that beamed even from those wild and untamed
countenances.

As Hettie darted from his side, he made his way through the crowd to an
end door of the building, and with feelings which none might envy, was
soon on his way towards his father's house. One by one the company slunk
away, when they found that the proceedings were at an end, and in
silence groped through the darkness towards their several homes.

When Hettie awoke to consciousness, Henry was bending over her, while
her mother sat by her side, smoothing her beautiful forehead, and
putting back the dark locks which kept falling over it.

All was still; she listened for those terrible sounds which had well
nigh driven her reason; but no sound could she hear, except the sweet
voice of Henry.

'You feel better now?'

'Oh, yes; but how has it all come about?'

'We must ask you that, my dear?' said her mother; 'it is all a mystery,
a great mystery to us.'

'Sally went for you then, mother? I was fearful it would all be over
before she could get there.'

'Yes, my dear, and she is now sitting with your brother until we get
home.'

'Do let us go, then, for I am so anxious to get away from this terrible
place--but there--what is that!' and Hettie darted a wild glance towards
the door. Henry and her mother looked at each other.

'There is nothing here, Hettie--no one beside your dear mother and
myself.'

'Oh--well--I am so glad!'

Henry said nothing of his fears; but a terrible thought came into his
mind; which was more and more confirmed by an occasional wild glance of
her eye. 'Her mind has been injured, or she is about to be visited with
severe illness.'

The mother probably did not think as far as he did, although she felt
that there was need for immediate departure.

'Are you able to walk, my dear? if so, we had better be going.'

'Oh yes, to be sure, mother.' And she quickly rose from the rude bed on
which she had been laid; but no sooner did she attempt to stand, than
her trembling limbs gave way. Henry caught her, and again laid her to
rest: she was evidently ill already, and no time must be lost in getting
away from that miserable abode.

The men who had accompanied Henry were still in waiting to conduct him
home. By their aid a litter was constructed; and while the anxious
mother bore the torch to light them through the gloom, Henry with his
two guides carried the suffering girl.

It was a sad journey that for Henry Tracy. The wild and incoherent
remarks which Hettie made, the deathly pallor of her countenance, and
the quick flashing of her eye, which he discerned as the light
occasionally fell upon her features, confirmed his worst fears.

By his persuasion, the widow consented that she should be taken to Mr.
Rutherford's, her own humble home offering no suitable convenience for
another invalid.

The ways of God appear unequal only to those who judge prematurely, or
without taking into the account that this world is not the end. God sees
as we do not: His design in all the dealings of His judgments and His
mercies here towards those who love Him, is to make them trust in Him,
and cast their thoughts, too prone to settle on this vale of tears and
be content with earth, upwards, towards that better, purer home in
heaven.



CHAPTER XXIX.


War is a name that carries in its dreadful meaning scenes of suffering
and woe, little thought of, it is feared, by those who, at the helm of
power, too easily proclaim the deadly feud.

The widow's tear, the orphan's helpless sigh, the agonizing groans of
bleeding victims, the horrible necessities that wait upon the contest
for supremacy where man forgets his nature, and hastes with tiger-thirst
to seek the life-blood of his fellow man, are all forgotten or unheeded.
A little land, not worth a single pang of one fond mother's heart; a
little wrong that might by calm remonstrance be redressed, or even borne
with, affords a pretext. The herald of defiance is sent forth, and
misery, death, and desolation hover on his track.

The event which Commodore Trysail had predicted came to pass, although
somewhat sooner than either he or many other shrewd calculators had
anticipated. The Commodore, as we have seen, had no misgivings of
conscience about the necessity of the measure: he only wished for a
better preparation, before engaging in hostilities with the greatest
nation on the globe.

As to his own private interests, a few months would have enabled him to
place them on a better footing, yet, perhaps, he thought as little about
that matter as most men; at any rate, he took a very decided stand for
the government, and strongly upheld it in its declaration of war.

With Peter he still held long private talks on Peter's favorite topic;
and every new incident of the war seemed interesting to the old sailor,
only as it in some way might affect the safe return of Captain Sam. One
morning, as Peter handed in the pack of papers at the door of the
office, he looked very anxiously at the Commodore.

'There's three more on 'em come, your honor--'

'More what, Peter?'

'Of the blockaders, sir,--a brig and two schooners.'

'What will become of our young captain, now, Peter?'

Peter slipped the quid to the other side, and worked away at it awhile
in good earnest.

'I'm a-thinking, your honor, it's a great pity he ain't in a regular
man-o'-war's man.'

'What would he do then, Peter?'

'He'd make her talk, your honor, or I'm mistaken.'

'You don't think he'd fight, do you?'

'What for not, your honor?'

'Why, you know he has been dodging along shore here, Peter, all his
life--he has hardly smelled gunpowder.'

'Asking your honor's pardon for the freedom, but I must haul off from
your honor this time. Captain Sam may be ain't had much experience in
the fightin' way as yet; but your honor knows, it's more what's in a man
than what he larns--a brave man ashore will be a brave man at sea, that
is, a'ter the sickness is over; but if Captain Sam don't face an enemy's
bullet with the best on 'em, I'll cut off my pigtail and give it to the
cats.' Peter could have made no stronger asseveration; for he highly
valued the long appendage to his bushy head, and of all creatures he
hated cats.

'Do you think, Peter, if he had a good ship and a dozen guns on board,
with a fine crew, he would know what to do with them?'

'If he don't, your honor, I'll give up t'other leg, and go upon stumps
the rest of my days.'

'Well, Peter, I believe you; and we think alike this time. You may take
these papers, and show them to Lady Morris.'

'Ay, ay, your honor.'

And Peter hobbled away, discharging the old quid as soon as he had
fairly left the house; and treating himself to a new one, muttering as
he did so, 'Captain Sam will show 'em--see if he don't.'

The Commodore, through the influence of Peter, had also become much
interested in the Montjoys; all the story of their boyish days had been
so often repeated that they seemed like old acquaintances; and although,
for argument's sake, the old gentleman would appear to doubt the
correctness of Peter's reasoning on the certainty of their doing well,
yet he had great confidence in the young firm, and an earnest desire for
their prosperity.

Old Sam Cutter, too, with whom the Commodore was very intimate, had not
failed to make him acquainted with the mighty change which had been
brought about through the instrumentality of these boys in this place,
now so lovely in its appearance. He felt that they deserved his respect
as a citizen, and treated them with a consideration which, for the
disparity in years and circumstances, was very gratifying to them.

He was therefore a frequent visitor at their establishment--never
hindering them at their work if he found them engaged; but bowing
respectfully to the young men and those who might be in at the time,
would walk straight through the store into the little back room, which
was always in perfect order, and there seek for news among their papers
which might not happen to be in his.

On this particular day of which we have been speaking, he had an object
of some importance in his visit; and as he passed along to the usual
place, he politely requested the favor of an interview with the elder
partner, when he could be spared from his desk.

'In a short time, sir, I will wait upon you,' said James, who was making
an entry in his book.

That morning, the brothers had been spending some time in consultation
about business matters. They had, as we have seen, been very kindly
treated by the bank, and in consequence were enabled to keep along and
meet their difficulties; but the serious losses which they had met,
affected them much more than they at first anticipated. They had never
before known what it was to be cramped in their means for doing
business, because they had only increased their transactions as they
found themselves able to do so; but things could not very easily be
brought back by the same process--they must either go on, or suspend
altogether; and either alternative involved difficulties of no ordinary
kind. To continue as they had, they must for years to come, so far as
they could see, be constantly devising ways and means to meet
engagements, involving anxiety, dependence, watchfulness, and untiring
attention: to suspend their operations, would not only be a bitter
humiliation to their sensitive spirits, but there would be a sacrifice
of property that might leave them without the ability to pay many of
their just debts. There was also a difficulty attending their situation
which troubled them more than all else beside. They had been in the
habit of receiving from many of their customers small sums of money
which they wished to secure against a time of need; the unbounded
confidence reposed in the young men brought all the loose money of those
in moderate circumstances into their hands: they allowed an interest for
it, and hitherto had been able to return any sum when suddenly called
for. The amount thus accumulated was now about two thousand dollars; and
it was due in sums of from ten to three hundred. With many of these
depositors, it was the whole of their possession.

The idea of danger from thus receiving funds had never occurred to the
brothers, until they found by experience the difficulties which attended
the raising money on an emergency with their diminished capital--in
fact, with no other capital than their credit. But now they clearly saw
that it placed them over a volcano; it might explode at any time, lay
their business and well-earned reputation in ruins together, and utterly
disable them from giving back this money thus sacredly intrusted to
their keeping. And it was on this particular point they had been
consulting that morning; their fears were mutually expressed, and they
came to the resolution that they would involve themselves in such
difficulties no farther.

As soon as James could leave his desk, he repaired to the back-room.
After some kind greetings on either side, the Commodore straightened
himself in his chair, and resting one hand on his large gold-headed
cane--

'I want to talk with you a little, Mr. Montjoy, about money this
morning.'

James's heart beat quick; he could not help it, for the Commodore had
placed five hundred dollars in his hands a short time previous, and
requested him to keep it until he called for it.

'I put five hundred dollars in your hands lately, which I was to have,
you know, when I should call for it.'

'Yes, sir, certainly by all means.' Poor James! he knew not where it was
to come from, and he secretly wished that he had never owned a dollar,
or that there was no such thing as money.

'Well, sir, I have just received advices from the city that certain sum
of money, which I suppose--'

Ned stepped into the office, and requested the presence of his brother a
moment. The Commodore bade him go, by all means, that he would wait his
leisure.

The business for which James was required was to close a very
advantageous bargain for some produce, but he was in no state of mind to
do business--money, ready money, was the only idea he could cherish; it
clung to his spirit like the nightmare; he could neither bargain nor
calculate, so he waived the matter, and was back again to the little
room; he merely whispered to Ned,

'The Commodore, I suppose, has come for his money.'

'What shall we do?'

'I don't know.'

And he entered the room again, and sat down.

'As I was saying, Mr. Montjoy, when your brother called you away, a
certain sum of money, which I supposed had been invested, I learn by my
advices to-day is still lying idle, and waiting my orders. These are
ticklish times, Mr. Montjoy, and they will be worse before long. I am
afraid of stocks at present, and have therefore concluded to draw for
these funds, and place them in your hands; you can use them to
advantage, no doubt.'

And the Commodore took a long pinch of snuff, which had been for some
time in waiting between his thumb and forefinger.

James felt a load fall from his heart, and for a moment was silent.

'I thank you, sir, for your kind offer, and for the confidence reposed
in us; but before I can give you an answer, allow me to confer with my
brother.'

The character of these two young men had never been so severely tested
before. An offer, unsolicited, had been made to them of that which they
stood so much in need of, and which would relieve them from
embarrassment. Ned clapped his hands, and rubbed them violently together
in the ecstasy of his joy.

'But, my dear Ned, ought we to take it?'

'Why not?'

'Because, he doubtless supposes that we are well off, and has no idea of
our losses; and I've been thinking that, under the circumstances, we
ought not to touch a dollar of it.'

'That, to be sure, Jim;'--and Ned's countenance drooped; he hung his
head, and began to kick the counter with his foot.

'We concluded, you know, Ned, that we would take no more money in this
way.'

'Well, we had better stick to that, let what will come.'

'How would it answer to tell him just the situation of things with us,
and the reasons why we cannot receive it.'

'If you tell him any thing, Jim, you had better tell the whole.'

James's heart was lighter, because he had resolved to act consistently
with a sense of duty.

'I believe, sir, we must decline your generous offer.'

James saw that the Commodore seemed surprised.

'We do this, sir, not but that we need the funds--and they would at the
present moment be of immense advantage to us--but we have no doubt, that
you have made the offer under the impression that we are in very
different circumstances from what, I am sorry to say, is the truth. But
as you are a man of business, and can appreciate our motives for not
having made a general exposition of our affairs, I will communicate to
you our true situation.'

And James gave a clear account of their course of business, from its
commencement to the time when such unexpected losses at one stroke swept
off the hard-earned profits of their youthful enterprise. He also
explained to him the unpleasant situation in which they felt themselves
placed, by being made the depositaries of so many sums of money, which
might be called for at any moment, and especially should the least
surmise get abroad unfriendly to their standing.

After he had closed, the Commodore took out his gold snuff-box, and
rapping it pretty hard, helped himself freely, and then very
deliberately returned it to his pocket.

'Mr. Montjoy, what you tell me surprises me very much; but it shall go
no further, I assure you. Can you favor me with pen and ink a moment?'

He then drew up to the table on which James had placed the required
articles.

'I believe it is five hundred dollars exactly that I handed you lately?'

'Just five hundred, sir.'

'I have done it now,' thought Jim; 'he is afraid of us, and intends to
draw it out; but my duty has been performed, let what will come.'

'Mr. Montjoy, I said that I was much surprised at the statement you have
made, but I cannot say that I am sorry for the misfortune you have met
with'--and the keen black eye of the Commodore was fixed upon James; he
saw that his remark had affected him, for a deep blush mantled his fine
countenance--'because, sir, it affords me an opportunity of expressing,
as I could not otherwise do, my sense of your invaluable services to
this your native place, and my approbation of your noble character.
Here, sir, is my draft for five thousand dollars, which, with what you
already have, I place in your hands, if you will merely sign this
receipt for the amount, payable as you see in ten years, without
interest. Don't say any thing, my dear sir'--seeing that James was about
to say a great deal--'not a word, if you please; just sit down a moment,
Mr. Montjoy; you say that it has been a cause of uneasiness to you, that
you have money in your hands intrusted to you for keeping.'

'We shall now pay that off at once, sir; I will not keep it another
day.'

'You must do no such thing, sir. It is a great benefit to these people
to have their funds in the hands of an honest firm. This you must do;
take two thousand dollars of this money, and invest it in a mortgage, on
some good property; keep it as a resort, in case of the worst, and hold
it sacred for these deposits; the balance use as you please! And now,
sir, a good morning to you;' rising, at the same time, and shaking the
hand of James very warmly.

'Your kindness, sir--'

'Not a word, Mr. Montjoy, not a word, if you please; good morning, and
God bless you.'

The Commodore, walking through the store, saluted Edward, who stood
behind the counter, attending upon customers, with a very long face.

As soon as Ned could be disengaged, he stepped up to his brother, who
was working away again at his books--

'See here, Ned.'

'What does it mean, Jim?'

'It means that he has loaned it to us for ten years, free from interest,
and with a full knowledge of our affairs.'

Ned was deeply affected with this sudden interposition in their favor;
he looked full in his brother's face, and Jim, for the first time in
many years, saw tears in his brother's eye.

'I hope we shall not forget this.'

'I hope not, Ned.'

The Commodore walked home with a very light heart that day. He must have
felt that he had made a good investment, for his step was very elastic,
and he gazed upon the pleasing prospect around him, and looked upon the
signs of thrift that met his view on every side with so much
complacency, that one would have supposed he had a new interest in it
all, and felt that he was a partner in the great concern.

It had been a lovely morning, and nature appeared to be in perfect
repose; not a cloud to dim the bright sun, nor a motion in the
atmosphere to stir even the leaf of the aspen, if there had been any
just then to stir, but it was not the season of leaves. A change,
however, was about to take place, and the Commodore was sailor enough to
guess that it was likely to be a violent one. Seeing Peter occupying his
favorite seat (a large flat rock on the brow of the hill overhanging the
shore), with the spy-glass in his hand, and perhaps a little curious to
take a peep through it himself, he extended his walk to the edge of the
hill.

'A sail in sight, Peter?'

The old man hopped down from his perch at the sound of the Commodore's
voice, hastily clapped a quid into his mouth, which he had just cut off
for that very purpose, doffed his hat, and laid hold of his crutches,
all which ceremonies he went through with a celerity quite surprising.

'I was thinking, your honor, that there's goin' to be foul weather
outside to-night; them clouds look squally, and they keep growing
thicker and thicker.'

'It certainly looks threatening, Peter.'

'It looks very threatening, your honor; and I don't care, for one, how
hard it comes, so it will only blow them ugly black craft that are
laying off and on there, high and dry somewhere or another.'

'That, to be sure, Peter; they would have an uneasy berth of it in a
heavy gale, where they now are.'

'They would, sir, you may depend on it; and I think they're a little
uneasy a-ready, for the biggest on 'em have clawed off out of sight, and
the others that were at anchor have hauled up, and are starting too. If
your honor will look through the glass, you can see all their
movements. They'll have a time on it--there, did you hear that, your
honor?'

'A gun, Peter, and a heavy one, but at a great distance.'

'I've heard several on 'em, your honor, before; there's something to
pay, out there; they wouldn't fire such metal as that for signals.'

'Well, I only wish they were out of the way for a few weeks, Peter.
Captain Sam would stand but a poor chance if he should get among them.'

'There would be no chance at all, your honor, there's so many on 'em; I
might as well try to run through that picket fence, crutches and all;
and as to fightin' it out, your honor knows there's too much odds agin
one--they'd blow him out of water.'

'Or sink him under it.'

'Or sink him under it, your honor.'

Peter's prophecy respecting the weather was too truly realized: the
heavens, ere the night shut in, were covered with dark and ragged
clouds, chasing each other like heaving surges wildly through the air:
gusts of wind occasionally swept along, increasing in violence at each
succeeding blast; while in the distance, the heavy roar of the ocean
told plainly of the tumult that was going on there, and what might be
expected when the strength of the tempest should break upon the land.
The fitful gusts at length settled into one long-continued, furious
blast, increasing gradually its terrible power, until the strongest
dwellings rocked and trembled to their base, and even the stout-hearted
turned their thoughts to Him whose will the winds obey, and before whose
power man shrinks to nothing.

The family of Mr. Rutherford had been long in a state of painful
anxiety, watching untiringly around the sick, and, to all human
probability, the dying bed of Hettie. The scenes of trial which she had
been passing through for several successive months, had imperceptibly
weakened her frame; and the terrible ordeal of the mock-marriage proved
just the stroke too much for her to bear. In the wildest delirium, her
spirit tossed and agonized for weeks; and then, as her nature sunk, worn
out with the wrestling of her troubled mind, it required the nicest care
and most faithful attendance to stay up her feeble tenement.

Nothing was wanting that love could minister for her benefit; and hope
again began to bless the spirits of friends. Her reason was restored,
her strength gradually returned, and although confined still to her bed,
the signs of recovery were so evident, that cheerfulness once more
blessed the countenances of that much afflicted but still happy family.

Hettie had resolved to keep the secret with which she had been intrusted
by her brother no longer than she could acquire strength to reveal it;
and on this very day that we have been describing, she had told Mr.
Rutherford all she knew.

That evening, while the tempest was roaring around his dwelling, he sat
alone in the room where his family usually congregated, Mrs. Rutherford
and the children having retired to Hettie's apartment, to give what
cheer they could to the sick room during the wild howling of the storm.
His thoughts, busied with the intelligence which had that day been
communicated to him, and agitated between hope and fear, were devising
all manner of plans for the recovery of documents of so much value, and
the surest way to bring the dangerous men concerned in the transaction
to justice, when a loud knocking against an outer door reached his ear.
Thinking it might be some benighted stranger, he hurried to admit him,
as soon as possible, to a shelter from the peltings of a pitiless storm.

Opening the door, he requested the stranger to hasten in, not waiting to
inquire who he was, or what he wanted. The first glance, however, as he
turned towards his visitor, made him regret that he had been so hasty;
for David Cross, with a wild and haggard countenance, stood before him.
Mr. Rutherford had no reason to think that his errand was a good one,
but he was resolved to treat him with forbearance. David spoke first--

'A terrible storm, sir.'

'Your business must be urgent, Mr. Cross, that drives you out through
such a night.'

'It is urgent, sir. Is Miss Hettie in a condition to be seen?'

'She is not, except by those with whom she feels perfectly at rest.'

'I must see her, Mr. Rutherford, if such a thing is possible. I have
done her great injustice, and I wish to make all the atonement in my
power. As you value the future peace of an unhappy man, I beg you, sir,
to allow me but a moment's interview.'

'It cannot be, Mr. Cross; your presence in her chamber would, in all
probability, throw her again into the same horrible condition from which
she has but just recovered; and a relapse would be fatal.'

Cross looked away from Mr. Rutherford, and fixed his eye on the door. He
seemed in an agony, for occasionally a tremor shook his whole frame, and
Mr. Rutherford thought he saw him wipe away a tear. For some moments
neither spoke. At length turning, and with a beseeching look addressing
Mr. Rutherford,

'Will you allow me, sir, to send a line to her; perhaps she may wish to
see me.'

'I will, sir; but I am not at all sure that you will be permitted to see
her, even if she consents.'

He wrote a few lines, and handing it to Mr. Rutherford--

'If she refuses to see me after she has read that, so be it; but I will
not then be to blame for the consequences which may follow.'

Hettie read the little note, or, more properly, it was read to her. It
ran thus: 'Hettie, I want to ask your forgiveness, and to tell you that
I have discovered the paper.--D. Cross.'

'I think he had better come in,' said Hettie; 'there is business of
great consequence, which it is in his power to communicate.'

As David Cross entered the room, he paused a moment as his eye fell upon
the emaciated countenance of the still lovely girl. He then slowly
approached the bed, threw himself on his knees, and wept like an infant.
As soon as he could speak--

'Hettie,' said he, 'can you forgive me for my cruel wrong?'

'I have forgiven you long since, David; and have prayed that you may be
forgiven of God.'

'I can make but little reparation for the past; I have done all I could.
That paper is in the hands of Michael Foster; he holds it to extort
money from my father. To-morrow night a plan is laid to wrest it out of
Foster's power, and then it will no doubt be destroyed. Measures must
therefore be taken in the course of to-morrow, or it will probably be
too late. Spare my father, if you can; as for myself, Hettie, I leave
you now for ever. You and I will probably never meet again.'

Hettie cast a look of kindness at him as he left the room. Mr.
Rutherford had witnessed the scene at the bedside, and his feelings were
much softened towards the young man.

'You do not mean to go away while the tempest rages thus?'

'The storm is of little consequence to me, sir. I have communicated to
Hettie some things which concern you deeply; and all I have to say is,
that whatever steps you may take on the information she gives you,
cannot be taken too soon.' Saying this, he left the house.



CHAPTER XXX.


A change from terra firma to the restless ocean is sometimes pleasant,
even for its novelty, if nothing else--although none who try the
experiment but are completely satisfied that, so far as everything
connected with comfort is concerned, or real quiet of mind or body,
there is nothing like the solid earth. I must, however, ask my readers
to risk themselves with me for a short time on the ocean, and perhaps
they will the more readily do so, when I tell them that we are to be on
board the good ship Lady Washington, and under the immediate command of
our favorite Captain Sam.

Those who see our ships only as they lie along side of the busy wharves,
and are either discharging or receiving their freight, have but a poor
idea of the neatness which the deck of a well-regulated vessel presents
in her usual sailing trim. It may be that our Captain was peculiar about
this matter, but every thing was so snugly stowed away, and securely
fastened, that to all appearance nothing would be displaced, should some
sudden freak of old ocean roll her bottom upwards. Her deck was flush
from stem to stern, and the gangway on each side was clean and clear;
every hand on deck was actively employed in the performance of some
duty, but it could be seen that they were intent upon some object more
engrossing than that in which their hands were busied, for wistful
glances were cast towards their young commander, who was standing near
the helm, and, with marks of anxiety on his countenance, eyeing through
a glass a distant speck upon the ocean.

'Mr. Barnum, this breeze is not going to last; it's a dead calm already
a mile to starboard. Hail the maintop; that fellow must be asleep.'

The chief mate--for it was he who was thus addressed--placing his two
brawny hands so as to form a speaking trumpet, raised his face aloft,
and sent up a blast that would have aroused no common slumberer.

'Hallo, maintop!'

'Ay, ay, sir.'

'What do you make her?'

'Can't make her at all.'

At this reply, the mate sprang into the shrouds with the agility of a
squirrel, and was soon far up amid the complicated rigging, and seizing
the glass from the one who had been using it, made a satisfactory
examination, and then tumbling down as rapidly as he had ascended, was
again beside his Captain.

'It is difficult making her out, for she has got her three masts in one;
but she looms large, and from the rig should judge she's a bull-dog,
with at least two rows of teeth.'

'Ship, ahoy!' from aloft.

'What quarter?'

'On the larboard beam, and coming down with a spanking breeze.'

'Ship, ahoy!!'

'Ay, ay, we see her; there's no mistake now, Captain Oakum; we are in
the midst of them.'

'Call the crew aft, Mr. Barnum.'

Soon every sailor on board was standing near the quarter-deck, and, with
respectful bearing, ready to hear the will of their Captain. He
immediately stepped up before them, and casting his eye over their hardy
and cheerful countenances, explained in a few brief sentences the
peculiarity of their situation, and what he should require of them.

'We are in the midst of our enemies; three of their frigates are now in
sight, and bearing down upon us. We are bound for our port, and shall go
there if we can; it will be no child's play, but I am exposed to equal
danger with the rest of you. If we succeed, a handsome reward awaits us,
and the satisfaction of having done our duty; if we are so unlucky as to
fall into their hands, a prison or a life cruise in a man-of-war will be
the game on the other side; but if you are all resolved for home or a
watery grave, let me know it.'

A loud and hearty huzza burst spontaneously from the whole crew; and at
a signal from the mate they tumbled back to their quarters with an
alacrity that showed they were ready for any sport their Captain chose.

A steady breeze was yet bearing the vessel along at a moderate pace, and
it could be plainly seen that two of the ships were becalmed, as they
were fading away in the distance; from them, therefore, but little was
to be apprehended, while the one on the larboard beam was rapidly
gaining upon them.

Captain Oakum now sprang into the mizzen chains, and marking with
intense interest the surface of the ocean, the working of the clouds,
and the situation of the different ships--

'Mr. Barnum--'

'Ay, ay, sir;' and the mate was in an instant by his side.

'I think, that by laying her course due north, we shall carry the wind
longer with us, and give them a wider berth.'

The necessary order was given, and the Lady Washington was soon
ploughing her way in the direction required.

'The breeze is going, Captain; that ship gains on us fast.'

'I see she does, but the probability is we shall both be becalmed soon;
she won't hold the wind long after it leaves us; you had better have the
boats unshipped, Mr. Barnum, and ready for launching.'

The right good-will with which the sailors sprang to obey each command,
gave satisfactory evidence of what their Captain might depend upon in
the hour of extremity.

He felt assured that, whatever forty good men could do, at any risk,
would be done, but the responsibility of every movement, and of the
result, rested upon himself alone. He had provided his vessel with a few
guns of large calibre, and one of these occupied the after cabin--it was
a long twenty-four pounder. A large port had been made for it in the
stern, which was, however, at present closely fastened; four more of
various sizes were stationed at different parts of the main deck, and a
plentiful supply of pikes and cutlasses was snugly stowed away in
readiness for a sudden call. All these he thought might be of service to
him in an emergency, but his main dependence was upon the sailing
qualities of his ship; he had tested her well, and felt a confidence
which, perhaps, most young captains do, that nothing could outstrip his
vessel in a good breeze.

Although prepared for the worst, he had not heard of hostilities having
been begun until nearing home. A French brig gave him the intelligence,
and also that a blockading squadron was strictly guarding the port for
which he was bound, part of which he had thus unexpectedly encountered;
and now the ability of his ship, and the skill of her commander, were to
be put to the test.

Scarcely had the order been executed for unlashing the boats, when the
sails flapped heavily against the masts.

'It has gone sooner than I expected. Launch the boats, Mr. Barnum, and
let them be manned to their full capacity; if we can move the ship but a
few lengths, it may serve to take us out of the reach of their guns.'

With incredible celerity a row of boats was strung ahead of the ship,
and every man pulling with determined energy.

'This calm ain't for nothing; I'm of opinion, sir; there's foul weather
brewing, depend on it'--and the mate directed the Captain's attention to
the threatening aspect of the clouds in the eastern sky. 'We shall have
something to contend with soon, besides the enemy's guns, Captain Oakum;
that long streak of light under them black clouds, and those scuds
flying off and streaking up so fast, and spreading themselves out so, is
no good sign; there'll be a north-easter, and a smasher when it comes.'

'Let it come, Mr. Barnum; any thing but lying here and not able to stir,
and that frigate almost ready to fire into us.'

The only hope, indeed, which our Captain could indulge, was that the
wind might die away as suddenly with their pursuer as it had with them;
but her sails were yet well filled, and, of course, she was gaining upon
them every moment; the slow and almost imperceptible motion which his
own ship made by the power of oars, would have been discouraging to one
who was not buoyed up with the consciousness of doing all that was then
in his power to do to escape the trouble which had come upon them. He
could not control the winds; he therefore neither cursed them, nor
himself, nor the noble ship that was bearing down upon them; but he
watched her advance with great anxiety, and would turn his gaze
occasionally from this object of interest to the ominous-looking clouds
that were gathering in heavier masses every moment--a hurricane, or
something very near it, would be a great relief; any thing that would
give him a chance to bear his much-loved ship out of the immediate reach
of her powerful adversary.

'It's a gone case with us, Captain Oakum; her guns will soon be able to
reach us.'

'If she keeps the breeze much longer. Call Derrick, will you, Mr.
Barnum.'

John Derrick, who now made his appearance at the call of the mate, held
the title on board ship of the old man-of-war's-man. He was the only
person of advanced age among the crew; he was about fifty, rather taller
than was necessary for a sailor, and of slender make. His head on the
top was bald, and the locks which hung from the lower part were long and
thin; his neck and chin were concealed by a thick bushy beard, very
dark, and making a strong contrast with his pale countenance. Sam had
selected him for his skill in gunnery, as well as for his ability as a
sailor, and in an emergency, felt more confidence in his opinion than in
either of his officers.

'Do you think she is near enough to trouble us, John?' and the Captain
looked significantly at the frigate.

'She don't think so, Captain Oakum, or we should hear from her; but I've
been on the look out a little, and unless her guns are carronades--ay,
ay, she speaks now;' and all at once a column of white smoke belched
forth from her bow port, and a ball clipped the glassy surface of the
water, passing the whole length of the vessel.

'That tells the story, Captain.'

'I suppose it is a gentle hint for us to let them know who we are,
before they give us a benefit; so we may as well show them the stars and
stripes, Mr. Barnum, and our boys will pull the better when they see
them aloft, in the place of that French gewgaw.'

A hearty cheer burst from the whole crew as they saw their native
standard flying at the mast-head, and they bent themselves to their
oars, until the boat nearest the ship was at times almost out of water.

'Now we shall take it, Captain; she's rounding to; her whole broadside
will be the next salute.'

Captain Oakum felt, in all its force, the danger of their situation. In
an instant he was at the bow of his ship.

'Pull away, boys--lay to--every foot tells now.' The energy which he
threw into his voice, as he gave out these brief directions, added fresh
vigor to their willing hearts and pull away it was. As the frigate
swayed round, two guns in quick succession sent forth their messengers
of death, and evidently intended not as a compliment, for the aim was
direct, both striking the ship, although doing but little damage.
Scarce, however had they congratulated themselves on their escape, when
a volume of smoke enveloped the deck of the frigate, and the waters were
ploughed by a storm of bullets; but one of them reached the ship, the
others sinking in the deep at her stern. A loud shout went forth from
the Lady Washington, as it was now manifest that she was beyond the
reach of harm.

'Will you allow me, Captain, just to give them a try with the Long Tom?'
said Derrick, stepping up, and touching his cap respectfully; 'just for
the honor of the flag, sir.'

'Not yet, John; we must save our fire until we shall be more sure of our
mark. You shall have a chance soon, my good fellow, for I see that they
are manning their boats for a visit to us; we must give them the best
welcome in our power.'

It was evident now that the time of trial was at hand; for two boats,
well manned, were seen pulling towards them; the sea was unruffled as a
lake, and nothing to prevent their rapid progress.

As Sam did not intend, under such circumstances, to give up his noble
vessel and her valuable cargo without a struggle, each gun was loaded,
the men were called in from the boats, pikes were brought out and laid
in readiness, and each sailor who was not aloft buckled on his cutlass.
The faces of the young men assumed a determined yet cheerful expression,
and not one on board but felt that the stripes should fly as long as his
arm could wield a weapon.

The sky, also, was becoming black with clouds, and spreading the gloom
of night around them; and the long swell that occasionally lifted their
vessel, told that already the tempest was doing its work in the
distance; every sail aloft was taken in and well secured, and suitable
preparation made for the emergency.

'They are calculating, I guess, sir, to finish the job, and make a
harbor on board the Lady Washington, afore the squall comes on, or
surely no commander in his senses would send boats off with such a mess
as any one can see is brewing yonder.

'Now John, is your time: take your hands and get all ready. Don't open
your port until I pass you the word, and then make sure work with them.'

'Ay, ay, sir.'

And down he tumbled, and the men allotted to him, with as good will as
though piped to dinner. As the boats neared the ship, it could be seen
that the officers were urging on to greater speed: and good cause had
they, for the roar of the coming tempest had reached them, and but an
alternative was now left; they must either secure their prize quickly,
or perish amid the wild waves: a return in their open boats to their own
ship was impossible.

Captain Oakum saw that the time for an effort had arrived.

'All ready below, John?'

'All ready, sir.'

'Now is your time; let them have it.'

The ship trembled as the engine of destruction belched forth its deadly
messenger; the thick smoke curled up over the stern, for a moment
obscuring the view; but the next, a loud shout came up from below, and
was echoed through the ship. Captain Oakum almost shuddered as he beheld
what execution had been done, for the whole crew of one of the boats was
battling with the waters, while their companions in the remaining boat
were using their utmost exertions to rescue the living and the dying
from the wreck of the other. But there was not a moment to spare to look
at friend or foe, for the blast of the tempest came sweeping over them
in its might, and each man flew to his post at the swift word of his
commander, and was prepared to meet the contest with the stormy
elements. As the gale struck the ship, the sails flew out with a report
like the sudden burst of thunder, and the yielding ship lay over with
her bulwarks to the water's edge; a moment she seemed pressed down by a
weight that must whelm her in the deep, and then, recovering her
balance, gracefully she rose to meet the adversary with which a contest
for her life was now to be maintained.

'They'll get their deserts now, Captain; those men can never reach their
ship in their crowded state.'

'We must save them, Mr. Barnum, if we can; put your helm to lee, and
tack ship.'

The gallant vessel bore proudly up against the mighty wind; a moment she
seemed to waver in its very eye, and then falling off, and taking its
power on her other beam, bore swiftly on towards the enemies who had so
lately sought her destruction. As she dashed along to windward of the
boat now struggling amid the foaming waves, Captain Oakum seized the
trumpet from his mate, and hailed them--

'You can never reach your ship.'

'Not in our present condition,' replied a fine-looking young officer.

'We will do the best we can for you, but leave your arms behind.'

The roar of the tempest forbade any reply; but the officer raised a
white handkerchief, and as the ship flew by, a rope was thrown to the
boat, and by the united powers of both crews, she was drawn under the
lee of the ship. As much care as possible was taken in removing the
wounded seamen, and Sam, as yet unused to the horrors of war, felt his
heart sicken as he looked at the terrible fruit of his own orders. He
felt that there had been a necessity for it, but would gladly have
relinquished his own prospective gains by the salvation of his vessel,
rather than have heard one groan from the poor mangled sufferers that
now lay in agony upon his deck.

The moment the young officer stepped upon the deck, he presented his
sword to Captain Oakum.

'It is a singular fortune, sir, that has made me your prisoner; but I
cannot mistake the kindness that has brought you to our rescue in a time
like this, and when we were seeking your injury.'

'Retain your sword, sir, and your liberty, as well as that of your
companion'--a midshipman, who stood beside the Lieutenant, and was
preparing to surrender his weapon in like manner--'and of your crew, I
only ask your pledge of honor to attempt no rescue while on board my
ship. I will do all I can for your safe return, if we outlive this
storm.'

Every thing that could be done for the wounded was immediately attended
to; a brotherly feeling was at once established between the crew of the
Lady Washington and their late enemies, and each seemed to vie with the
other in kind attentions.

Successful thus far beyond his hopes, our young Captain now took a
station by the helm, and looked upon the scene, and his situation in
reference to the vessels from whose power he had feared so much. Far off
in the south-east, the frigate from which he had so narrowly escaped was
bearing away in an opposite direction to the course she had been
pursuing, and far enough off at present to remove all apprehension from
her. In the west could be seen the two which had been becalmed, bearing
to the south and east, and evidently doing their best to gain an offing
from the coast. To preserve himself from a dangerous contiguity, he had
two alternatives, either to endeavor to force his way to the
north-ward--almost an impossibility, as the wind then held--or to run
before the gale, and venture, through the darkness and the storm, to
find his way into port. He was perfectly satisfied that his reckonings
had been correct, and that he knew his bearings; although to point his
bow to land at such a time, with no other guide than his compass and his
chart, he felt to be almost a desperate undertaking. He resolved,
however, rash as it appeared, to try the dreadful hazard.

As he communicated his determination to his mate, and ordered him to put
the ship before the wind--

'It's a harsh night to venture on a lee shore, sir; but your command
shall be obeyed.'

The heavy clouds that rolled in huge masses, scarcely higher than the
masts of the ship, had hastened the close of day, and gave sure tokens
of what the night would be. The coast, however, had been clearly seen
before the daylight departed, and soon the hopes and fears which, by
turns, were triumphant in the breast of him on whom such immense
responsibility rested, would be certain. All danger from armed vessels
was now at an end; but his ship was flying on the wings of the wind; the
driving clouds above, and the boiling sea beneath and around her. A
costly and gallant vessel, a freight of immense value, and a multitude
of human beings, were dependent upon the correctness of his judgment and
the determination of his will.

Onward and onward, like a chafed charger, rushed the proud ship, her bow
at times nearly buried beneath the billows that tumbled before her, and
rolled in majestic grandeur by her sides, or rose like mountains at her
stern, threatening to whelm her in their deep dark bosom. How like an
infant's dream appeared to Sam now all the past experience of his life:
every care or sorrow faded into mist before the deep responsibility that
weighed upon his heart. The young Lieutenant was not, as may well be
supposed, an unconcerned spectator of the passing scene. He had been
struck with admiration, not only at the generous conduct of our hero,
but at his manly bearing, his prompt and determined action, and the
perfect order and discipline that were so clearly manifested in such an
hour of trial. He kept a strict eye on the course of the ship, and
confirmed, much to the satisfaction of the Captain, the correctness of
her bearings.

'The light ought to be seen, however, Captain, by this time--we have
been sailing with incredible rapidity, and must be near the land. Can
nothing be seen of it yet?'

'I have my ablest seaman on the look-out, but we have no tidings of it
yet.'

Captain Oakum left the stern of the ship and placed himself near to the
look-out. It was Derrick whom he had especially intrusted with this
important duty; although every soul on board might have been included,
for not one but kept an eye ranged towards the quarter where it was
expected to be seen.

'Any signs of light yet, John?'

'No signs yet, sir; but we must be drawing near land, sir; the roar of
the surf can be plainly heard.'

Scarce had the sailor uttered the last sentence, when at the top of his
voice he called out,

'Light on the starboard bow, Captain Oakum!'

And as Sam cast his eye in that direction, the first twinkle of the
beacon met his view, and in an instant he saw the imminence of their
danger.

'Helm to leeward! hard down!' And springing to his station again beside
the helmsman, he issued forth his orders to the seamen without waiting
to convey them through his mate. With magic speed the sails were braced
to meet the new position of the ship, and take the gale upon her beam.
Like a thing possessed of consciousness, the noble craft, almost as
quick as thought, turned from the roaring surf, and threw the light upon
her other quarter. Hope now hung for safety on the strength of her sails
and spars. With all the canvas she could carry, it could but be scarcely
visible that she made headway. The stout masts bent like whips, and the
laboring ship groaned and cracked and trembled as she plunged into the
mighty waves, throwing them, through her whole length, high into the
air.

'She'll weather it, Captain: if she can hold on so half an hour longer,
we are safe.'

The Captain made no reply; that half hour was freighted with
consequences of most heart-stirring interest to him, and at no time had
he felt so doubtful of what the end might be. His eye was riveted upon
the beacon--that token of his danger and his safety too. What thoughts
it kindled in his bosom! Oft had he seen it in his boyhood's days, when
light of heart he sat with the dear ones of his home, at their old
cottage door. Is he again so near them? Is success, prosperity, and
honor soon to be fully realized; or disaster, shipwreck, and death?
Slowly the light recedes--the struggling ship, battled fiercely by the
terrible tempest, still forces her way, and still the good sails and the
bending spars hold on and keep her true.

'Don't you think we are far enough north, Captain, to run in?'

'Ease her off slowly, Mr. Barnum, a point or so.'

'She's a noble creature, sir, few ships could have stood it; but I
believe you've the luck with you, Captain Oakum.'

'We have had something with us better than good luck, Mr. Barnum. You
may venture now, sir; in with her.'

A loud hurra burst from the deck as the light flew past them; and the
Lady Washington, bidding adieu to the raging ocean, entered the
comparatively quiet waters of the sheltered bay.



CHAPTER XXXI.


When clouds, and darkness, and the driving storm are upon us, we cannot
realize that their power is but for a time, and they must give place to
sunshine and peace. The beautiful morning that succeeded the tempestuous
night recorded in the last chapter, was a surprise indeed to those whose
trembling habitations had warned them of its terrible power.

'It has been a hard night, Peter,' said the Commodore, as he stepped
forth upon his piazza, and saw the old man busy with the eye-glass,
peering across the bright waters of the bay.

'Indeed it has, your honor, and mischief enough done; if you will cast
your eye, sir, along the south shore,' handing the glass to the
Commodore; 'your honor will see a sight. It's my opinion, sir, that the
waters have cleared themselves of everything, and thrown them all bodily
on the land.'

'Bless my soul, Peter, what a scene! I fear many lives have been
sacrificed yonder, but it must have been more terrible still outside.
What is that, Peter? a ship ashore?'

'It is a ship, I believe, your honor, but she's not ashore, sir; there
is nothing much but her starn to be seen, but being pretty well
acquainted with the bearings hereaway, you see, your honor, the land
rises considerably north of the point there, and the trees into the
bargain, make quite a bluff to look across, and she would be hid
entirely before grounding; the channel runs near the shore, your honor.
But she has had a narrow chance, sir, and I see one of her masts is by
the board.'

'It is not one of your friends, the blockaders, I hope, Peter? they must
have had a lively time of it.'

'If it had only sent them all high and dry, your honor! but I think they
must have got a good offing afore the worst on it came; and your honor
knows that wind and waves ain't apt to hurt a good ship, if there's no
land interference no way: but that ship being there is a puzzle to me,
your honor.'

'Well, Peter? let me have my letters and papers in good season this
morning.'

'Ay, ay, sir;' and Peter hobbled away towards the town, and the
Commodore entered his dwelling with a good appetite for breakfast.

He has just finished his morning repast, when Mr. Rutherford entered his
office. He met with a hearty welcome, for the two gentlemen had, since
Mr. Rutherford's removal, been on terms of intimacy, although this was
the first occasion on which any subject bordering on business matters
had been introduced. Mr. Rutherford had resolved in his own mind, during
the night past, the peculiar circumstances in which he was placed, and
the necessity for prompt and efficient action. He felt the need of
counsel, and could think of no one who would be so likely to afford it
as Commodore Trysail: for this purpose he had therefore now come.

It will not be necessary for the information of the reader to repeat the
substance of his revelation to the Commodore. It was a story, however,
which excited much interest in the mind of the old gentleman; he
listened with profound attention to the whole recital, and when it was
finished, gave his box an extra rap, and politely handing it to Mr.
Rutherford--'It is, indeed, a singular event, my dear sir; and you are
placed in a situation that requires not only very prompt, but very
cautious measures. It would be a righteous thing, no doubt, to bring
these men to justice; but the first hint they had of such an attempt
would inevitably lead to the destruction of your papers! for although
this Mr. Foster might find it a profitable business for him to hold them
thus, as a rod over his accomplice Cross, yet he would never be so mad
as to risk the discovery of them in his possession: they would be
destroyed forthwith, sir. And as to bringing them to justice, it is a
very doubtful matter, as it appears to me, whether there is evidence
sufficient to convict either of them; they are men, it seems, of some
standing in society, if I am correctly informed--none of the immediate
actors in the scene are living, or at least to be found. The young man
Brown, who is very feeble you say, can only testify to the intention of
these men; and his mother does not feel qualified to swear that the
unhappy man who made a dying avowal of his guilt in this matter had his
full reason.'

'It is all just as you say, Commodore Trysail, and the difficulties of
the case presented themselves to my mind as I see they do to yours.'

'And they are serious difficulties, Mr. Rutherford. The probabilities,
indeed, would be very much against these men, and the public generally
might be convinced that they had committed the nefarious crime; yet
after all, a jury sworn to judge according to the evidence brought
before them, might not be able to convict them.' The Commodore was
suddenly interrupted by the entrance of Peter in a state of excitement
really alarming; he did not pause as usual at the threshold, and making
a low reverence, present his packet of letters and papers, with 'the
mail, your honor,' but he bolted straight into the office, crutches and
all, threw his hat down on the floor, took his quid from his mouth, and
had liked to have dashed that down too; but his senses came to him in
season to prevent such an enormity, so he put it back again as quick as
possible. He was very much out of breath, and his eyes flashed with a
vividness very unusual. The Commodore put his box away, and
straightening himself up, looked at Peter with great astonishment, to
say the least of it.

'She's come, your honor.' Peter had great difficulty to get the sentence
out, his voice trembled so.

'What has come, sir?' The Commodore had evidently departed from his
usual temper towards Peter.

'She's come, your honor, spite of blockaders, harricanes and all, God be
praised.'

The Commodore began to catch a glimpse of his meaning.

'You do not pretend to say that the ship has come, the--the--Lady
Washington?' and the Commodore started to his feet, and looked very
fiercely at Peter.

'It's the truth, your honor, she's riding in the outer harbor: the very
same we see'd this morning. A boat has just come ashore, your honor, and
I've see'd the men, and sich doins as they tell on you never heered,
sir. Captain Sam's blowed the enemy, and he's got twenty on 'em
prisoners, and he's give 'em leg bail, and has run into port, God bless
him, with that north-easter behind him.'

After delivering himself, Peter turned round, and in two jumps was out
of the room, and stumping it off at a round rate. The Commodore was
somewhat surprised at this last movement, and stepping to the door, was
in the act of recalling his excited valet, when he saw him, in a very
animated manner, urging along a person dressed in sailor's garb, and
whom the experienced eye of the old Commodore immediately recognized as
fresh from on board ship; his rolling, unsteady gait showed very clearly
that he had not yet got his land legs on.

'Here's a shipmate, your honor,' said Peter, stepping a little in front
of his companion, 'that has a word to say to your honor, but he feels
backward like.'

'Come in, my boy, come in; are you from the Lady Washington?'

'Just from aboard, sir.'

'Come in, come in, my good fellow.' And the sailor gave a spring up the
stoop as though he was about to mount the shrouds, and taking a step
into the office, put his hand into his tarred hat, took forth a sealed
letter, and handed it to the Commodore, who immediately broke the seal
and read as follows.

     'COMMODORE TRYSAIL:

     'Respected Sir:--I am very happy to inform you, that through the
     aid of Divine Providence, I have brought the Lady Washington into
     port. To prevent her driving on the beach, I was obliged to cut
     away my masts, but am busy rigging jury masts to enable us to reach
     the city, as I do not feel it safe to lie in the outer harbor,
     should the blockading squadron return to their cruising ground. We
     have received otherwise but trifling damage. I shall do myself the
     honor of waiting upon you the moment I place my ship in the hands
     of your consignees.

     'The bearer of this will tell you his own story. He has been a fine
     fellow on board, and whatever may have been his errors in past
     days, seems to have taken a new turn.

     'Your obedient servant,

     'S. OAKUM.'

The Commodore, having run over the letter, began to put sundry questions
to the sailor, who answered in a style that was perfectly intelligible
to the Commodore, but which would have been to ordinary listeners very
much like a foreign language. Our friend Peter was an attentive
listener. He was standing just without the door, with his head bent
over, and turned one side, so as to permit his left ear to have a chance
at what was going on. His long queue hung down over his left shoulder,
and he was pulling away at it in great earnest. Peter could stand
considerable in the way of excitement, but it is not in human nature to
stand every thing. To hear such a glowing description of the doings of
one that he loved as his own soul, given in a dialect that was
sufficient of itself to work up the mind of an old sailor; his feelings
got the better of his judgment, and no sooner was the tale over, than,
swinging his old hat, he gave three hearty cheers, and stumped it away
towards the mansion of Major Morris.

The Commodore had too much of the sailor in him to be surprised at this
outbreak of feeling. He smiled as he looked through the door, and saw
how Peter was excited, and then addressing himself to the seaman--

'Captain Oakum informs me, my good fellow, that you have something of
consequence to say to me on your own account.'

'I have, sir, if you can spare a few moments' leisure.'

The Commodore then excused himself to Mr. Rutherford, and taking the man
aside into a private apartment, 'Now, my good fellow, tell me your story
without restraint. I am an old sailor, you know, and have lost none of
my feelings for a shipmate in trouble.'

'God bless you, sir; but it is an ugly story I have to tell, and if you
can have patience to hear me out, you may do with the information what
you please.'

Ha then began and gave a short-hand account of his career; that he was
born and brought up in a place called Barrens, near by--that he had
gotten into bad company, and in the employ of a bad man--that at the
instigation of this man, he had been guilty of many improper acts, but
that one of these, and the last one in which he had taken a part, had
stuck in his heart like a dagger from the moment he did it--that he and
his companion, in order to escape punishment in case the crime was found
out, and to get away from the man who had exerted his power over them
for such shameful purposes, had shipped to sea--that his messmate had
taken sick and died, and that his last hours were full of misery on
account of what he had done.

'I have therefore, sir, made a clean breast of it all to Captain Oakum,
and I am on my way to see the man I once injured so much; but Captain
Oakum thought how as you, sir, could tell me what was best to do, and
that I might let you know, sir, just the whole on it.'

'But you haven't told me, yet, my man, what this crime you speak of was.
You have not murdered any one, surely?'

'God only knows, sir; but we fired a house while they were all asleep;
the man who hired us to do it wanted a tin trunk which stood in one of
the back rooms. We waited round to have folks give the alarm, but it got
well a-burning before any one see it. An old nigger then came and broke
the door open with an axe: the house was filled with fire and smoke. The
old black fellow--God bless him for a true heart as ever beat in a human
body,--went right through the flames, up the stairs, calling as loud as
his voice could scream, "Oh my missus and the children!" We hurried into
the back room, and feeling about found the trunk, but we had like to
have smothered afore we got out; but that old fellow's cry, sir, has
rung in my head louder than the loudest noise that the wind and the
waves have made, since I have been on the ocean. And, sir, I can't live
with it any longer.'

'Did you ever see the man whose house you fired?'

'No, sir, nor do I now remember his name; but he had a character, sir,
for being a fine man, far and near.'

'The person's name is Rutherford, and he is now sitting in my office;
the very gentleman you saw there.'

'The Lord forgive me! may I not see him, sir, just to ask his pardon,
and then let him do with me what he thinks best?'

'You shall see him; but first answer me:--Are you willing to go with me,
and meet face to face this man Cross, whom you say instigated this act?'

'I will, sir; only I hope I may be restrained from doing him an injury,
for there is that in me, when I think of the villain, that wouldn't mind
putting his daylight out, and trampling him in the dust.'

'That would do no good now, you know; it wouldn't rebuild the house, nor
ease your conscience, nor reform the man. But I am this morning
endeavoring to devise a plan with this gentleman, Mr. Rutherford, for
the recovery of this very trunk you have been speaking about. It seems
that, after all, it never went into the hands of Mr. Cross, but, by some
strange accident, fell into possession of as great a villain as he was,
one Michael Foster, who keeps it as a rod over Cross to force money from
him. Your presence may be of great consequence. Can your Captain spare
you?'

'He has let me ashore for this very business, sir. He thought may be I
might be of some use to this Mr. Rutherford; and if I can, God knows I
wouldn't value my own life a feather, sir.'

The Commodore told the man to be seated, and stepping into the office,
communicated to Mr. Rutherford the particulars he had just been made
acquainted with.

'This is a most unexpected turn to affairs, Mr. Rutherford; and I think
I can see a way now by which we can get hold of these papers, and get
rid of these villains at the same time, if you will leave matters to my
management.'

'I will, certainly, sir, and feel deeply--'

'Say nothing about that, if you please. I will call for you in about an
hour with my carriage. But first will you see this poor fellow, and set
him at rest if you can?'

So saying, he led Mr. Rutherford into the adjoining room. The man was
still seated, but was evidently in much agitation, for his countenance
wore a death-like expression, and he trembled violently.

'Did you wish to speak with me?' said Mr. Rutherford, stepping up to
him; 'you seem to be ill.'

'My body is well enough, sir; although I can't tell why it is in such an
ague now. I never trembled before through all the dangers I have been
in; but my mind is in a sad case, sir;--you see before you one of the
men who burnt your beautiful house;'--and the rough sailor burst into
tears.

'Do you truly regret having thus injured one who never did you any
harm?'

'God knows I do; but tell me one thing, sir, was any of your family--'

'Burned with the dwelling, you were going to say; no, thank God and the
faithfulness of my good old negro, they were not injured.'

'Thank God it is so, sir! and oh that my old messmate could have known
this before he left the world!--he died, sir, howling like a raving
man--"that he was a murderer!"'

The Commodore now took Mr. Rutherford aside, and making some further
arrangements for the accomplishment of his plan, the latter gentleman
departed, and Commodore Trysail ordered his carriage to be in immediate
readiness.

In about two hours after this interview everything had been completed,
and the party selected for the occasion was entering the barrens, and
Joe, the Commodore's coachman, was urging on his horses at a very
unusual speed, and one which the heavy fat beasts did not seem to
relish.

It consisted of Commodore Trysail, Mr. Rutherford, James Montjoy and the
sailor. The carriage stopped at the Widow Brown's, and some time was
spent in a very particular conversation with the Widow and her son, and
then off again to the north at the same rapid rate.

'Hold up a little, Joe, before you reach the tavern; and you may stop at
Cross's, and let them blow awhile. It will not be best for us to appear
to be in haste.' This latter sentence was intended by the Commodore for
the company seated with him.

As the carriage drove up to the long low tavern, the Commodore and James
Montjoy alighted; and as they stepped upon the piazza, Mr. Cross met
them with a polite bow, and welcomed them to his premises.

Mr. Cross had, for a long time, been anxious to get into the good graces
of both of them; for when he found that he could not destroy the young
firm, he was desirous of their good-will, that he might the better make
sales through them of his wood and timber; and the Commodore being so
distinguished a personage, that a nod from him in any public place would
be no small consideration for a man of Mr. Cross's standing.

Chairs and benches were immediately presented for their acceptance, but
as politely declined.

'Mr. Montjoy and I have a little matter of business to talk with you
about this morning, Mr. Cross, and would wish to see you in private.'

'By all means, gentlemen,' and the little fat man led them into a small
back room, and carrying chairs with him, even against the protest of his
visitors, placed them with much care, as to position and then closed the
door.

'Since you have taken the trouble, Mr. Cross, to bring us seats, I
suppose we may as well use them,' said the Commodore, taking up his
chair, and placing it as if by accident near the door. Cross saw the
movement, and from the sudden flush that deepened the purple hue of his
face, appeared to feel that, at least, it was a singular one. He however
took the stool which he had brought for himself, and placing it at a
respectful distance, sat down in a composed manner, tilting it back so
as to balance himself on two of its legs, and resting his hands one on
each of his knees, as they were spread out, the better to maintain his
position.

'Mr. Cross,' said the Commodore, 'when we have business on hand, the
fewer words by way of introduction the better. I have a serious charge
to make against you this morning, and therefore it is that I have chosen
to see you alone.'

Cross immediately dropped his stool on its four legs, and straightening
up to make the most of himself: 'If we are to be alone, sir, why have
you brought company with you?' looking significantly at young Montjoy.

'To set your mind at rest on that head, Mr. Cross, I will tell you that
Mr. Montjoy has, at my request, been deputized by the Sheriff, and acts
at present as an officer.'

Cross did not turn pale, for that could not well be, but his countenance
assumed a livid hue, and he immediately rose to his feet.

'You may as well be seated, Mr. Cross; this business has been committed
to me, and it must go forward, sir; but I have no disposition to treat
you with harshness--sit down, Mr. Cross.'

Mr. Cross sat down; there was something in the decided tones of the
Commodore's voice that carried with them the idea of implicit obedience.

'Without alluding to the serious crime which I have it in my power to
substantiate against you, I at once propose to you, Mr. Cross, that if
you deliver up to me the papers which were taken from Mr. Rutherford's
house by the men employed by you for that purpose, and at the same time
make a quit-claim to your son David of all your real estate, you may
then have twenty-four hours to make what other arrangements you please
in this vicinity, and nothing shall be revealed until the expiration of
that time; otherwise I shall immediately have you arrested for robbery
and arson. I give you ten minutes in which to make your choice.'

'It is a false charge, sir; the whole of it is a falsehood, started by
that old idiot the Widow Brown and her son; and I intend they shall
smart well for it--that they shall, sir.'

The Commodore then gave a signal to James Montjoy, who left the room,
and turning himself to Mr. Cross: 'It is a solemn thing for you, sir, to
violate the precepts of the Almighty, for sooner or later, the hour of
just retribution overtakes the delinquent. I am not sitting in judgment
over you, Mr. Cross; but I cannot shut my eyes against the marked tokens
of an overruling Providence, that have been exhibited in bringing to
light what you supposed was beyond the reach of detection.'

At that moment the door opened, and Mr. Rutherford, followed by James
Montjoy and the sailor, entered the room. Cross looked at them with
intense anxiety until his eye fell on the latter; he started as though
pierced by a ball, and then stood transfixed with amazement, until
gradually he settled down into his seat, and stared wildly on the floor.

'Your ten minutes has about expired, Mr. Cross; what do you decide?'

'I am at your mercy, gentlemen, do what you think proper. As to the
papers, they are not in my hands, nor ever have been.'

'We know that, Mr. Cross; but as you were intending to take possession
of them this evening, you cannot be very ignorant where they are to be
found.'

'Who told you that?'

'It is sufficient, sir, that we know the fact. As I have just said to
you, the searching eye of the Almighty has been upon you through all the
windings of your crooked way, and has brought out all your sin. The
wretched beings who have been dependent upon you as hirelings, and whom
you have ground to the dust, and trained for your wicked purposes; the
woman who has been in reality your lawful wife, although not known nor
acknowledged by you as such, the mother of your only child, yet treated
by you as the off-scouring of the earth; the son who, by your
instigation, had like to have been the ruin of a lovely girl--all are
ready to testify against you. Under such circumstances, Mr. Cross, the
mercy offered you is very tender in contrast with your iniquity.'

Cross was now indeed sensible that his hour of trial had come: large
drops of sweat stood upon his forehead, and he trembled like a reed in
the tempest.

'Michael Foster has the papers in his possession; but you must take him
by surprise and watch him close, for if he suspects what you want, they
will be destroyed before you can help yourselves.'

'He is a justice of the peace, I understand, Mr. Cross.'

'Yes.'

'You will please go with us, then, sir; you can execute the deed there,
which you know was one of the terms I stated to you. You have one made
out, have you not, Mr. Rutherford?'

'I have, sir.'

The Commodore, without further remark, signified his wish to be on the
way: and soon Mr. Cross was seated on an easy cushion in a fine
carriage, and with such company as he never had the honor of riding with
before; but I presume it was a matter of secret rejoicing with him that
the journey would be a short one--the soft seat and the good company
were thorns and fire to him.

Commodore Trysail alone left the carriage, and as Mr. Foster opened his
door, entered without waiting for any ceremony.

'Mr. Foster, I presume, sir?'

'At your service, sir,' making a low bow to the Commodore.

'You are a justice of the peace?'

'I am, sir.'

'Gentlemen,' said the Commodore--calling to those in the carriage--'the
Esquire is at home, you can come in.'

Mr. Foster began to be much surprised, not only at the peculiar manner
of his visitor in his own abrupt entrance, but at calling, without
leave, a coach-load of folks to follow: his looks however manifested
something more than surprise, when he found himself honoured with the
presence of those who now entered his apartment.

'Mr. Rutherford, that deed, if you please.' The tones of the Commodore's
voice assumed a harshness very unusual with him of late years; his keen
eye had penetrated into the character of the man he had now to deal
with. 'Mr. Cross wishes you, sir,' addressing Foster, 'to witness his
signature, and take an acknowledgment of his free act and deed.'

Foster bowed again, and without reply handed the pen and ink to neighbor
Cross. He then sat down and wrote very rapidly, although it was
impossible for him to conceal the agitation which his nerves suffered.

'And now, Mr. Foster,' said the Commodore, 'this matter being through
with, and Mr. Cross's business settled, your turn comes next.' Foster's
jaws, as we have seen, were rather long and flabby at best; but as he
dropped his chin and drew up his eyebrows in the surprise that came over
him as the Commodore turned upon him his keen, searching eye, he made up
altogether an expression rather wo-begone. 'You have had in your
possession for some time, Mr. Foster, a small trunk of papers, of but
little value to yourself, except as you have held them for the especial
benefit of your friend, Mr. Cross, here; but as he has wisely chosen to
give up doing business in these parts, they can be of no further use
either to him or to you; and as we have abundant proof of the guilt and
villany of you both, we shall therefore give you an equal chance,
provided you immediately surrender those papers. Twenty-four hours, sir,
you may have in order to settle up your business in this region; if,
after the expiration of that time, you are seen in this vicinity, I
pledge you my word, which has never been broken yet, that you shall be
arrested as an accomplice in the crimes of robbery and arson.'

Foster cast his eye at the downcast countenance of Cross, and read too
plainly in that the sad situation in which their affairs were placed.
Evasion would do nothing for his benefit in this case; he therefore,
without making the least reply, walked to a closet which opened into the
side of the large chimney, unlocked it, and began taking out sundry old
boxes, bottles, paper bundles, etc.; these he placed upon the floor,
until the whole cupboard was emptied. He then deliberately took from his
pocket another key, and applying it to the back of his cupboard, opened
another door there; and thrusting his long arm into the hole, brought
forth the long-lost trunk.

'What consummate villany!' exclaimed Mr. Rutherford, as he at once took
possession of his property.

'Open it at once, sir,' said the Commodore, 'and see that every thing is
right; for if but one paper is missing, they shall both swing for it
yet.'

But the papers were all correct, and both Foster and Cross felt in no
small degree relieved, even with the conditions then laid upon them,
when the party which had thus made each of them such an unexpected
visit, was again riding away. And here we may willingly, both for
ourselves and our readers, take leave of these two characters: they
suddenly disappeared--no one, excepting those in the secret,
understanding why; they have been blots upon the scene of our story, and
we bid adieu to them with pleasure.



CHAPTER XXXII.


There are spots in life, like bright days in the year, when all above,
around, and beneath, is so full of beauty, that the spirit bathes in the
luxurious scene almost to weariness.

Such a spot to Sam was the day of his return to his native village. The
cordial welcome of the good old Commodore, testifying his hearty
approbation of his gallant conduct by a commission that at once
established his independence; the warm embrace of friends who had grown
up with him from boyhood, and who exulted in his enviable prosperity;
the respectful consideration that was meted out to him on all sides; and
above all, the flow of ardent and almost overpowering affection that met
him in that home, where parents and sisters poured out into his own
glowing bosom the bursting fulness of their hearts--affection, respect,
honor, and independence, all in one united band, waiting upon him, and
doing all that in them lay, to make this hour of his life bright and
happy.

The meeting between Sam and the family of Major (now General) Morris,
was all that he could have asked. His old and first friend, the General,
was at a distant part of the country, engaged in active service; but
Lady Morris greeted him with the warmth of a mother, and Susan, that
once retiring and bashful little girl--a glance of whose eye filled the
heart of the little sailor-boy with rapture, who had refused bright
offers, and turned away from many an ardent lover--met our hero with a
manner so cordial, and with all the friendship of her heart unmasked,
that he could doubt no longer of the pure delight that awaited him.

Peter was almost beside himself with joy, and kept his crutches going
from morning till night, cutting off immense slices from his bundle of
"pig-tail," and stowing them away two at a time; talking to every one he
met, telling most incredible stories, and sometimes, when he thought he
could do it without being heard huzzaing, as though to let off
superfluous steam.

The Commodore, however, before the close of the day, damped his ardor
for a few moments, by bringing a serious charge against his favorite.

'It is all well, Peter. To be sure, Captain Sam has shown himself a man,
but what do you think about his letting prisoners slip out of his hands
in that way?'

'In what way, your honor?'

'By letting them go, and giving them one of the ship's best boats; and
finding them with compass and stores, and every thing so that they might
put off to sea, and hunt up their squadron--that looks too much like
comforting the enemy, Peter.'

'Pardon me, your honor, if I can't agree with your honor this time.
Captain Sam had good warrant for what he did.'

'Good warrant, Peter--from whom?'

'I heered our minister--God bless him--on the last Sabbath, and your
honor must have heered him too, say--and he took it from the good old
Book, your honor--"Love your inimies, do good to them that hate
you"--and more of the same kind.'

'But, Peter, you don't mean that we should deal with these men, whom you
have been so long wishing that the winds would blow high and dry,
according to the good Book, do you?'

Peter had to turn his quid over, and chew a little on it, for he
remembered having indulged some rather ungenerous feelings--especially
towards his blockading friends.

'It is hard, I allow, as your honor very well knows, to make a man's
conscience always jibe right when encountering an inimy to one's self,
or thinking of one that is dear to us that may be like to git into their
clutches; but when a man can catch a chance to show a little Christian
spirit towards them that seek his hurt, whether it be inimies to one's
country, or inimies to one's self, it will be better, as I take it, in
the long run, your honor, and at the last reckoning, that we should do
so.'

'Well, well, Peter, it is getting late, and you must be pretty well
tired to-day, you had better turn in.'

'Many thanks to your honor, and a long life.'



CHAPTER XXXIII.


Time is not only a destroyer; he is a healer too. Sorrow and joy attend
his flight; and each in turn commands the passing hour. The family of
Mr. Rutherford had laid aside the badges of mourning which, in token of
respect for the memory of one they loved, they had put on when William
Andrews died. The scene at his bedside had been ratified in secret, and
Henry Tracy felt every day more and more satisfied with the one he had
chosen. There was some little stir, indeed, when it was known abroad,
and some even hinted the idea that he had stooped a little in taking one
situated as Hettie had been; but none who really knew her ever thought
so. She was a bright star, dimmed awhile by clouds, and now to shine in
her true, simple lustre; her husband's heart, her husband's home, and
the circle over which his care rested, were now to feel her sweet and
womanly influence.

The pressure of trouble had done its bidden work upon the views and
habits of Mr. Rutherford; and then, by the same kind hand which brought
it, was it taken off. The recovery of his deed at once placed him in
possession of wealth; the immense value of the tract of timber was daily
becoming more evident, and he was in a few months enabled to commence
the joyful duty of liquidating the claim upon his homestead. He had
resolved, in time, to rebuild upon the ruins of his former house; but
prudence was his watchword now, and until every cent of the claim was
cancelled, he determined to remain in his present situation. He was,
however, for a few months occupying the beautiful mansion of Commodore
Trysail, at the special request of the latter, who was about to leave
for the south, where he and his lady expected to remain some time.

The pretty parsonage, which has been so long waiting for an occupant, is
at last full of life and bustle. The windows have been opened for some
days, and young female forms are seen moving about in all directions
through the house. Curtains are putting up and carpets putting down,
bedsteads are coming together, and large flat beds are lying about in
readiness to be put upon them; piles of chairs, tied together two and
two, are waiting to be released; and crates, boxes, and baskets, all
well filled, are being broken open and pulled to pieces, while from
them be borne off by nimble hands and feet all sorts of every thing, to
be arranged according to their different uses.

In the mean time there is a great stir at Mr. Rutherford's. Old ladies
and young ones have been much together there of late; vast quantities of
needles and pins and silk and thread have been in requisition; and then
the old family recipe-book has been for days lying on the large kitchen
table, with heaps of flour and butter alongside of it, and busy hands
have been violently engaged beating insides of eggs, and taking out the
insides of raisins, and stewing things together in all sorts of ways;
while at times a most savory smell would escape to the upper stories,
enough to set all the old women and young children running down stairs.

At length the meaning of all this bustle is unfolded. A wedding day has
come. Henry Tracy has been putting his pretty cottage in readiness to
receive the lovely girl, who has consented to be its mistress; and
Hettie, with the aid of her companions, and under the care of Mrs.
Rutherford, has been making preparations for the hour when she yields
herself in holy wedlock to the man she loves.

It has been a busy day with the family of Mr. Rutherford from early dawn
until near its close; and now, as evening approaches, lights are seen
glistening from every window in the large building, and through the wide
hall, flitting like fairies, young ladies are passing and repassing, and
going up and down with light and joyous steps, as though pleasure had
come down and shed her quickening charm upon them all. Carriages of
various kinds are landing groups of young and old, and then driving off
with speed. Attendants at the door in neat array, are leading the new
comers to the various rooms assigned for their reception. For a while
confusion seems to reign; then all subsides to quiet. The joyous laugh
and the lively call are hushed, and within the spacious parlor have all
assembled who are to be the witnesses of the solemn rite. Dazzling with
lights, scattered profusely round, and trimmed with evergreens and early
flowers, it seems a fairy bower; while, circling the room the
well-dressed guests, with staid and even solemn faces, are whispering to
each other, or eyeing with curious gaze the beautiful festoons that
grace the windows or sweep across the lofty ceiling.

It is the wedding day of the young pastor and his gentle bride, and
Henry Tracy enters the room, accompanied by his three bridesmen, Captain
Oakum, and James and Edward Montjoy. Soon after Hettie appears led by
Mr. Rutherford, who is to act as her father, and give away the bride.
She is simply dressed without ornament of any kind, but the long white
veil which falls in light and graceful folds from her head, and partly
hides her dark luxuriant hair. Her bridesmaids follow, Susan Morris, and
the sisters of the young Captain, and of James and Edward Montjoy.

'Before I present to you,' said Mr. Rutherford, addressing Mr. Tracy,
'this chief earthly treasure'--and he turned his eyes for a moment to
the blushing girl who was leaning on his arm--'I must beg your
acceptance of this paper, you will find when you look upon it, that you
are not taking to your home a portionless bride. She is as dear to the
hearts of Mrs. Rutherford and myself as if she were our own child, and
we have given to her the dowry of a daughter of our own. You chose her
as a poor portionless girl, and would have loved her as tenderly had she
continued so; but we all know that this is an uncertain world, and it is
as well to be prepared for its troubles. May God bless you both!'

One wedding, it is said, leads to another. Whether this is so or not, I
cannot say, but the signs are ominous; for James Montjoy and Mary Oakum
take long walks by moonlight, and Sam spends every evening at General
Morris's, and other tokens tell plainly what things are coming to.

But the long road which I and my readers have travelled together, must
here end: are you not glad of it?

       *       *       *       *       *

J. OGDEN AND CO. LIMITED, PRINTERS. GREAT SAFFRON HILL, E.C.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE LILY SERIES.

_Uniform with this Volume._

The design of this Series is to include no books except such as are
peculiarly adapted by their high tone, pure taste, and thorough
principle to be read by those persons, young and old, who look upon
books as upon their friends--only worthy to be received into the Family
Circle for their good qualities and excellent characters. In view of
this design, no author whose name is not a guarantee of the real worth
and purity of his or her work, or whose book has not been subjected to a
rigid examination, will be admitted into the "Lily Series."

    1 Leslie Goldthwaite.                 Whitney.
    2 The Gayworthys.                     Whitney.
    3 Faith Gartney's Girlhood.           Whitney.
    4 The Gates Ajar.                     Phelps.
    5 Little Women.                       Alcott.
    6 Good Wives.                         Alcott.
    7 Alone.                              Harland.
    8 I've been Thinking.                 A. S. Roe.
    9 Ida May.                            Langdon.
    10 The Lamplighter.                   Cumming.
    11 Stepping Heavenward.               Prentiss.
    12 Gypsy Breynton.                    Phelps.
    13 Aunt Jane's Hero.                  Prentiss.
    14 Wide, Wide World.                  Wetherell.
    15 Queechy.                           Wetherell.
    16 Looking Round.                     A. S. Roe.
    17 Fabrics: A Story of To-day.
    18 Our Village: Tales.                Mitford.
    19 The Winter Fire.                   Porter.
    20 Flower of the Family.              Prentiss.
    21 Mercy Gliddon's Work.              Phelps.
    22 Patience Strong's Outings.         Whitney.
    23 Something to Do.                   Alcott.
    24 Gertrude's Trial.                  Jefferis.
    25 The Hidden Path.                   Harland.
    26 Uncle Tom's Cabin.                 Stowe.
    27 Fireside & Camp Stories.           Alcott.
    28 The Shady Side.                    A Pastor's Wife.
    29 The Sunny Side.                    Trusta.
    30 What Katy Did.                     Coolidge.
    31 Fern Leaves.                       Fanny Fern.
    32 Shadows and Sunbeams.              Fanny Fern.
    33 What Katy did at School.           Coolidge.
    34 Shiloh.                            Jay.
    35 Pressing Heavenward.               Prentiss.
    36 Gypsy's Sowing & Reaping.          Phelps.
    37 Gypsy's Cousin Joy.                Phelps.
    38 Gypsy at Golden Crescent.          Phelps.
    39 Moral Tales.                       Edgeworth.
    40 Popular Tales.                     Edgeworth.
    41 Prince of House of David.          Ingraham.
    42 Anna Lee.                          Arthur.
    43 The Throne of David.               Ingraham.
    44 The Pillar of Fire.                Ingraham.
    45 Prudence Palfrey.                  Aldrich.
    46 Peep at Number Five.               Trusta.
    47 Marjorie's Quest.                  Gould.
    48 Our Village: Country Pictures.
    49 Woman our Angel.                   A. S. Roe.
    50 How Marjory Helped.                Carroll.
    51 Mabel Vaughan.                     Cumming.
    52 Melbourne House.                   Wetherell.
    53 Father Clement.                    Kennedy.
    54 Dunallan.                          Kennedy.
    55 From Jest to Earnest.              E. P. Roe.
    56 Jessamine.                         Harland.
    57 Miss Gilbert's Career.             Holland.
    58 The Old Helmet.                    Wetherell.
    59 Forging their Own Chains.          Cornwall.
    60 Daisy.                             Wetherell.
    61 Our Helen.                         May.
    62 That Lass o'Lowrie's.              Burnett.
    63 The Years that are Told.           Porter.
    64 Near to Nature's Heart.            E. P. Roe.
    65 Esther Douglas.                    Baskin.
    66 Knight of 19th Century.            E. P. Roe.
    67 Released.                          Baskin.
    68 Quinnebasset Girls.                Porter.
    69 Helen.                             Edgeworth.
    70 The Fairchild Family.              Sherwood.
    71 Freston Tower.                     Cobbold.
    72 Godwyn's Ordeal.                   Spender.
    73 Madeleine.
    74 Onward to the Heights of Life.
    75 Perry Harrison's Mistake.          "Pansy."
    76 Carl Krinken.                      Wetherell.
    77 Without a Home.                    E. P. Roe.
    78 Her Wedding Day.                   Harland.
    79 His Sombre Rivals.                 E. P. Roe.
    80 Odd or Even.                       Whitney.
    81 Julamerk.                          Webb.
    82 Martyrs of Carthage.               Webb.
    83 The Nun.
    84 The Basket of Flowers.
    85 Autobiography of a £5 Note.
    86 Pilgrims of New England.           Webb.
    87 Only a Dandelion.                  Prentiss.
    88 Follow Me.                         Prentiss.
    89 Nidworth.                          Prentiss.
    90 Nellie of Truro.
    91 An Original Belle.                 E. P. Roe.
    92 Barriers Burned Away.              E. P. Roe.
    93 Opening of a Chestnut Burr.        E. P. Roe.
    94 What Can She Do?                   E. P. Roe.
    95 A Day of Fate.                     E. P. Roe.
    96 A Face Illumined.                  E. P. Roe.
    97 He Fell in Love with his Wife.
    98 Driven Back to Eden.               E. P. Roe.
    99 What Katy Did Next.                Coolidge.
    100 Christine's Crook.                Hamer.
    101 Ben-Hur.                          Wallace.
    102 Four Girls at Chautauqua.         "Pansy."
    103 The Chautauqua Girls at Home.     E. P. Roe.
    104 Christie's Christmas.             "Pansy."
    105 True to the Best.                 Price.
    106 Drone's Honey.                    May.
    107 An Endless Chain.                 "Pansy."
    108 Ruth Erskine's Crosses.           "Pansy."
    109 Links in Rebecca's Life.          "Pansy."
    110 Mrs. Solomon Smith Looking on.
    111 The Earth Trembled.               E. P. Roe.
    112 The Gates Between.                Phelps.
    113 Found, yet Lost.                  E. P. Roe.
    114 Three People.                     "Pansy."
    115 Ester Ried.                       "Pansy."
    116 Ester Ried yet Speaking.          "Pansy."
    117 Julia Ried.                       "Pansy."
    118 The Fair God.                     Wallace.
    119 Sense and Sensibility.            Austen.
    120 Pride and Prejudice.              Austen.
    121 Emma.                             Austen.
    124 Honoured in the Breach.
    125 An Unexpected Result.             E. P. Roe.
    126 Naomi.                            Webb.
    127 Beulah.                           Wilson.

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's Note: Hyphen variations left as printed.





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