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Title: Vassall Morton - A Novel
Author: Parkman, Francis, 1823-1893
Language: English
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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.

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Libraries)



VASSALL MORTON.

A Novel.



BY

FRANCIS PARKMAN,

AUTHOR OF "HISTORY OF THE CONSPIRACY OF PONTIAC," AND "PRAIRIE AND
ROCKY MOUNTAIN LIFE."



  Ecrive qui voudra! Chacun à ce mêtier,
  Peut perdre impunément de l'encre et du papier.
                                             BOILEAU.



BOSTON: PHILLIPS, SAMPSON AND COMPANY.

1856.



Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the Year 1856, by

PHILLIPS, SAMPSON AND COMPANY,

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of
Massachusetts.



STEREOTYPED AT THE BOSTON STEREOTYPE FOUNDRY.



Vassall Morton.



CHAPTER I.

  Remote from towns he ran his godly race.--_Goldsmith_.


"Macknight on the Epistles,--that's the name of the book?"

"Yes, sir, if you please. I am desirous of consulting it with a
view--"

"Well, this way, Mr. Jacobs. Here's the librarian. Mr. Stillingfleet,
let me introduce my friend, the Reverend Mr. Jacobs, of West
Weathersfield."

"I am proud to make your acquaintance, sir," said Mr. Jacobs, taking
the librarian's hand with an air of diffident veneration.

"Mr. Jacobs wishes to consult Mackwright on the Epistles."

"Macknight, if you please, Dr. Steele."

"O, Macknight. Will you be so kind as to let him have the use of it in
my name?"

"If you will go with Mr. Rubens, sir," said the librarian, "he will
show you the book."

"Thank you, sir," replied Mr. Jacobs, to whom the words were
addressed; and he followed the assistant among the alcoves in a timid,
tiptoe progress, for, to him, the very air he breathed seemed redolent
of learning, and the dust beneath his feet consecrated to science.

Dr. Steele remained behind, conversing with the librarian.

"My friend has something of the ancient apostolic simplicity hanging
about him still. He looks with as much awe at Harvard College library
as I did myself forty-five years ago, when I came down from Steuben to
join the freshman class."

"So you came from Steuben! Did not old John Morton come from the same
place?"

"To be sure he did. He was the glory of the town. He pulled down the
old clapboard meeting house that his father used to preach in, and
built a new one for him: besides giving a start in business to half
the young men of the village."

"Do you see that undergraduate at the end of the hall, standing by the
last alcove, reading?"

"Yes; what about him? He seems a hardy, good-looking young fellow
enough."

"He is John Morton's son."

"Is it possible? I remember him when he was a child, but have not seen
him for these ten years. After his father's death, his mother took him
to Europe, to be educated; but she never came back; she died in
Paris."

"He is Mr. Morton's only child--is he not?"

"Yes; his first wife had no children; and after he had buried
her,--which, by the way, I believe was the happiest hour of his
life,--he married a very different sort of person, Margaret Vassall,
this boy's mother."

"What, one of the old Vassall race?"

"Exactly; and, I suppose, the last survivor. I used to know her. She
was a handsome woman, and, bating her family pride, altogether a very
fine character. She managed her husband admirably."

"Why, what need had John Morton of being managed?"

"O, Morton was a noble old gentleman, a merchant of the old school,
and generous as the day; but he had his faults. He made nothing of his
three bottles of Madeira at dinner, and besides-- Ah, Mr. Jacobs, so
you have found Macknight."

"Yes, sir," said Mr. Jacobs, coming up, "I have the volumes."

"See that young man, yonder. That's the son of your old friend, Mr.
Morton."

"Really! upon my word! Ah! Mr. Morton _was_ a friend to me, sir--a
very kind friend."

And, in the simplicity of his heart, Mr. Jacobs glided up to the
student, and blandly accosted him.

"How do you do, young gentleman? I knew your worthy father. I knew him
well. I have often sat at his hospitable board on anniversary week."

Thus addressed, Vassall Morton looked up from his book,--it was
Froissart's Chronicle,--inclined his head in acknowledgment, and
waited to hear more.

"Ahem!" coughed Mr. Jacobs, a little embarrassed: "your father was a
most worthy and estimable gentleman: a true friend of the feeble and
destitute. Ahem!--what class are you in, Mr. Morton?"

"The junior class," said the young man, a suppressed smile flickering
at the corner of his mouth.

"Ahem! I hope, sir, that, like your father, you will long live to be
an honor to your native town."

"Thank you, sir."

"I wish you good morning."

"Good morning, sir," said Morton, divided between an inclination to
smile at the odd, humble little figure before him, and an
unwillingness to wound the other's feelings.

"Are you ready to go, Mr. Jacobs?" said Dr. Steele.

"If you please, sir, we will now take our departure;"--gathering the
four volumes of Macknight on the Epistles under his arm;--"Good
morning, Mr. Stillingfleet; good morning, Mr. Rubens. I am indebted to
your kindness, gentlemen--ahem!"

"This is the way out, Mr. Jacobs," said Steele to his diffident friend
from West Weathersfield, who, in his embarrassment, was going out at
the wrong door.

"I beg your pardon, sir--ahem!" replied Mr. Jacobs, with a bashful
smile. And Dr. Steele, pointing to the true exit, ushered his rustic
and reverend protégé from the sacred precinct of learning.



CHAPTER II.

  Richt hardie baith in ernist and play.--_Sir David Lyndsay_.


"Morton, what was the little old fogy in the white cravat saying to
you just now in the library?"

"Telling me that my father was a worthy man, and that he hoped I
should make just such another."

"Ah, that was kind of him."

"What a pile of books you are lugging! Here, let me take half a dozen
of them for you. You look as if you were training to be a hotel
porter."

"I am laying in for vacation."

"What sense is there in that? Let alone your Latin, Greek, and
mathematics; what the deuse is vacation made for? Take to the woods,
as I do, breathe the fresh air, and see the world at large."

"Do you call it seeing the world at large, to go off into some
barbarous, uninhabitable place, among mosquitoes, snakes, wolves,
bears, and catamounts? What sense is there in that? What can you do
when you get there?"

"Shoot muskrats, and fish for mudpouts. Will you go with me?"

"Thank you, no. There's no one in the class featherwitted enough to go
with you, except Meredith, and he ought to know better."

"Stay at home, then, and improve your mind. I shall be off to-morrow."

"Alone?"

"Yes."

Mr. Horace Vinal shrugged his shoulders, a movement which caused
Sophocles and Seneca to escape from under his arm. Morton gathered
them out of the mud, and thrusting them back again into their place,
left his burdened fellow-student to make the best of his way towards
his den in Stoughton Hall.



CHAPTER III.

  O, love, in such a wilderness as this!--_Gertrude of Wyoming_.


Morton, _en route_ for the barbarous districts of which Vinal had
expressed his disapproval, stopped by the way at a spot which, though
wild enough at that time, had ceased to be a wilderness. This was the
Notch of the White Mountains, perverted, since, into a resort of
_quasi_ fashion. Here, arriving late at the lonely hostelry of one Tom
Crawford, he learned from that worthy person, to whom his face was
well known, that other guests, from Boston, like himself, were seated
at the tea table. Accordingly, descending thither, he saw four
persons. The first was a quiet-looking man, with the air of a
gentleman, and something in his appearance which seemed to indicate
military habits and training. Morton remembered to have seen him
before. At his side, and under his tutelary care, sat two personages,
who, from their dimensions, must have been boys of some seven years
old, but from the solemnity of their countenances, might have passed
for a brace of ancient philosophers. They looked so much alike that
Morton thought he saw double. Each was seated on a volume of Clark's
Commentaries, to raise his chin to the needful height above the table
cloth. Both were encased in tunics, strapped about them with shining
morocco belts. Their small persons were terminated at one end by
morocco shoes of somewhat infantile pattern, and at the other by
enormous heads, with chalky complexions, pale, dilated eyes, wrinkled
foreheads, and mouths pursed up with an expression of anxious care,
abstruse meditation, and the most experienced wisdom.

In amazement at these phenomena, Morton turned next towards the fourth
member of the party; and here he encountered a new emotion, of a kind
quite different. Hitherto, in his college seclusion, he had not very
often met, except in imagination, with that union of beauty, breeding,
and refinement which belongs to the best life of cities, and which he
now saw in the person of a young lady, a year or two his junior. He
longed for a pretext to address her, but found none; when her
father--for such he seemed--broke silence, and accosted him.

"I beg your pardon; is it possible that you are the son of John
Morton?"

"Yes."

"He was my father's old friend. I thought I could scarcely mistake
your likeness to your mother."

"I believe I have the pleasure of speaking to Colonel Leslie."

Leslie inclined his head.

"My title clings to me, I find, though I have no right to it now."

He had left the army long before, exchanging the rough frontier
service for pursuits more to his taste.

"Upon my word," pursued Leslie, after conversing for some time with
the new comer on the scenery and game of the mountains, "you seem to
be _au fait_ at this sort of thing."

"At least I ought to be; I have spent half my college vacations here."

"It is unlucky for us that we must set out for home in the morning.
You might have given us good advice in our sightseeing."

"Crawford will tell you that I am tolerably well qualified to be a
guide."

"You do not look like a collegian. They are generally thin and pale
with studying."

"Oftener with laziness and cigar smoke."

"Very likely. You seem too hardy and active for a student."

Morton's weak point was touched.

"I can do well enough, I believe, in that way. Crawford was boasting,
last year, that he could outwrestle any man in New England. I
challenged him, and threw him on his back."

"You! Crawford is twice as heavy and strong as you are."

"I am stronger than I seem," replied Morton, with great complacency.

And Leslie, observing him with an eye not unused to measure the thews
and sinews of men, saw that, though his frame was light, and his
shoulders not broad, yet his compact proportions, deep chest, and
muscular limbs, showed the highest degree of bodily vigor.

"You are quite right. I would enlist you without asking the surgeon's
advice."

Here the nurse, attendant on the two philosophers, appeared at the
door; and they, obedient to the mute summons, scrambled gravely from
their seats, and, with solemn steps, withdrew. Miss Leslie presently
followed, and Morton and her father were left alone.

"You are from Harvard--are you not?"

"Yes."

"Do you know Horace Vinal?"

"Very well; he is my classmate."

"Is he not thought a very promising young man?"

"He is our first scholar."

"I hear him spoken of as a young man of fine abilities."

"And he knows how to make the best of them."

"Not at all dissipated."

"Not at all."

"And a great student."

"Digs day and night."

"A little ambitious, I suppose."

"A little."

"But very prudent."

"Uncommonly so."

"An excellent young man," exclaimed Leslie; "I think very highly of
Horace Vinal."

Morton cast a sidelong glance at him, and there was a covert smile in
his eye. He began to see a weak spot in his companion.

"He will certainly make his way in the world," pursued Leslie.

"No doubt of it."

"He is not so fond of out-door exercises as you seem to be."

"He is good at one kind of exercise."

"What's that?"

"He can draw the long bow."

Leslie did not see Morton's meaning, and took the words literally, as
the latter intended he should.

"What, have you an archery club at college?"

"No; but there are one or two among us who use the long bow, now and
then, and Vinal beats them by all odds. But he is very modest on the
subject, and never alludes to it. In fact, there are very few who know
his skill in that way."

"It is all the better for his health to have some amusement of the
kind."

"Yes, it would be a pity if his health should suffer."

"I have often thought that his mind was too active for his
constitution."

Morton cast another sidelong look at Leslie. Though he admired the
daughter, he refrained with difficulty from quizzing the father.

"You seem to know Vinal very well."

"Yes, thoroughly; I have known him from childhood; he is the son of my
wife's sister, and I am his guardian. I watch his progress with great
interest."

"You will see him, I dare say, reach the top of the ladder. At least,
it will be no fault of his if he does not."

"I am very glad to hear my good opinion of him confirmed by one who
has seen so much of him."

And, rising, he left the room.

"A very good young man, this seems to be," he thought to himself, as
he did so.

"Amiable, good natured, and all that; but very soft, for a man who has
seen hard service," thought Morton, on his part.

The party reassembled in the inn parlor. Masters William and
Marlborough, having gained a reprieve from their banishment, busied
themselves at the table, the one in poring over Brewster on Natural
Magic, the other in solving a problem of Euclid. Leslie viewed these
infant diversions by no means with an eye of favor, and soon banished
the students to a retirement more suited to their tender years. The
sentence overcame all their philosophy, and they were carried off
howling.

Morton, meanwhile, was breathing a charmed air; and though diffident
in the presence of ladies, and not liberally endowed by nature with
the gift of tongues, his zeal to commend himself to the good opinion
of Miss Edith Leslie availed somewhat to supply the defect. He had
never mixed with the world, conventionally so called, and knew as much
of ladies as of mermaids. But having an ardent temperament and a
Quixotic imagination; being addicted, moreover, to Froissart and
kindred writers; and, indeed, visited with a glimmering of that
antique light which modern folly despises, he would have been ready,
with the eye of a handsome woman upon him, for any rash and ridiculous
exploit. This extravagance did him no manner of harm. On the contrary,
it went far to keep him out of mischief; for in the breast of this
youngster a chivalresque instinct battled against the urgency of
vigorous blood, and taught his nervous energies to seek escape rather
in ceaseless bodily exercises, rowing, riding, and the like, than in
any less commendable recreations.

The close of the evening found him with an imagination much excited.
In short, decisive symptoms declared themselves of that wide-spread
malady, of which he had read much and pondered not a little, but which
had not, as yet, numbered him among its victims. Among the various
emotions, novel, strange, and pleasurable, which began to possess him,
came, however, the dismal consciousness that, with the morning sun,
the enchantress of his fancy was to vanish like a dream of the night.



CHAPTER IV.

  What pleasure, sir, find we in life, to lock it
  From action and adventure?--_Cymbeline_.


Morning came, and the Leslies departed. Morton watched the lumbering
carriage till it disappeared down the rugged gorge of the Notch, then
drew a deep breath, and ruefully betook himself to his day's sport. He
explored, rod in hand, the black pools and plunging cascades of the
Saco; but for once that he thought of the trout, he thought ten times
of Edith Leslie.

Towards night, however, he returned with a basket reasonably well
filled; and, as he drew near the inn, he saw a young man, of his own
age, or thereabouts, sitting under the porch. He had a cast of
features which, in a feudal country, would have been taken as the sign
of noble birth; and though he wore a slouched felt hat and a rough
tweed frock, though his attitude was careless, though he held between
his teeth a common clay pipe, at which he puffed with much relish, and
though he was conversing on easy terms with two attenuated old Vermont
farmers, with faces like a pair of baked apples,--yet none but the
most unpractised eye would have taken him for other than a gentleman.

As soon as Morton saw him, he shouted a joyful greeting, to which Mr.
Edward Meredith, rising and going to meet his friend, replied with no
less emphasis.

"I thought," said Morton, "that you meant to do the dutiful this time,
and stay with your father and family at the sea shore."

"Couldn't stand the sea shore," said Meredith, seating himself again;
"so I came up to the mountains to see what you were doing."

"You couldn't have done better; but come this way, out of earshot."

"Colonel," said Meredith, in a tone of melancholy remonstrance, "this
seat is a good seat, an easy seat, a pleasant seat. Why do you want to
root me up?"

"Come on, man," replied Morton.

"Show the way, then, Jack-a-lantern. But where do you want to lead me?
I won't sit on the rail fence, and I won't sit on the grass."

"There's a bench here for you."

"Has it a back?"

"Yes, it has a back. There it is."

Meredith carefully removed a few twigs and shavings which lay upon the
bench, seated himself, rested his arm along the back, and began
puffing at his pipe again. But scarcely had he thus composed himself
when the tea bell rang from the house.

"Do you hear that, now? Another move to make! Didn't I tell you so?"

"Not that I remember."

"Please to explain, colonel, what you expect to gain by always bobbing
about as you do, like a drop of quicksilver."

"To hear you, one would take you for the laziest fellow in the
universe."

"There's reason in all things. I keep my vital energies against the
time of need, instead of wasting them in unnecessary gyrations. Ladies
at the table! New Yorkers in full feather, or I'll be shot! Now, what
the deuse have lace and ribbons to do in a place like this?"

During the meal, the presence of the strangers was a check upon their
conversation.

"Crawford," said Meredith, when it was over, "have you had that sofa
taken into my room?"

"Yes, sir."

"And the arm chair?"

"Yes, sir."

"And the candles?"

"Yes, sir."

"All right. Now, then, colonel, _allons_."

The name of _colonel_ was Morton's college sobriquet. Meredith led the
way into a room which adjoined his bed chamber, and which, under his
direction, had assumed an air of great comfort. Morton took possession
of the sofa; his friend of the arm chair.

"What's the word with you?" began the latter; "are you bound for the
Adirondacks, the Margalloway, or the Penobscot?"

"To the Margalloway, I think. You mean to go with me, I hope."

"To the Margalloway, or the antipodes, or any place this side of the
North Pole."

"Then, if you say so, we'll set off to-morrow."

"Gently, colonel. One day's fishing here. We have six weeks before us.
What sort of thing is that that you are smoking?"

"Try, and judge for yourself," said Morton, handing his cigar case.
Meredith took a sample of its contents between his fingers, and
examined it with attention.

"I always thought you were a kind of heathen, and now I know it. Where
did you pick up that cigar?"

"Do you find it so very bad?"

"It would not poison a man, and perhaps might pass for a little better
than none at all. But nobody except a pagan would touch it when any
thing better could be had."

"I forgot to bring any from town, and had to supply myself on the
way."

"That goes to redeem your character. Fling those away, or give them to
the landlord; I have plenty of better ones. But a pipe is the best
thing at a place like this, and especially at camp, in the woods."

"So I have often heard you say."

"Mine, though, made a sensation, not long ago."

"How was that?"

"The whole brood of the Stubbs, bag and baggage, passed here this
afternoon."

"Thank Heaven they did not stop."

"They came in their private carriage. I nodded to Ben, and touched my
hat to Mrs. S. You should have seen their faces. They thought there
must be something out of joint in the mechanism of the universe, when
a person of their acquaintance could be seen smoking a pipe at a
tavern door, like a bog-trotting Irishman."

"You should have asked Ben to go with us."

"It would be the worst martyrdom the poor devil ever had to pass
through. Ben seemed displeased with the scenery. He says that the
White Mountains are nothing to any one who, like himself, has seen the
Alps."

"Pray when did Stubb see the Alps?"

"O, the whole family have seen the Alps,--the Alps, Italy, the Rhine,
the nobility and gentry, and every thing else that Europe affords.
They all swear by Europe, and hold the soil of America dirt cheap. You
can see with half an eye what they are--an uncommonly bad imitation of
an indifferent model."

"Let them pass for what they are worth. Have you come armed and
equipped--rifle, blanket, hatchet, and so forth?"

"Yes, and I have brought an oil cloth tent."

"So much the better; it is more convenient than a birch bark shanty."

"I give you notice that I mean to take my ease in that tent."

"I hope you will."

"One can be comfortable in the woods, as well as elsewhere. Remember,
colonel, that we are out for amusement, and not after scalps. Last
summer, you drove ahead, rain or shine, through thickets, and swamps,
and ponds, as if you were on some errand of life and death. For this
once, have mercy on frail humanity, and moderate your ardor."

Morton gave the pledge required. They passed the evening in arranging
the details of their journey, set forth and spent three or four weeks
in the forest between the settled districts of Canada and Maine,
poling their canoe up lonely streams, meeting no human face, but
smoking their pipes in great contentment by their evening camp fire.
They chased a bear, and lost him in a _windfall_; killed two moose,
six deer, and trout without number; and underwent, with exemplary
patience, a martyrdom of midges, black flies, and mosquitoes. And
when, at last, they turned their faces homeward, they wiled the way
with plans of longer journeyings,--more bear, more moose, more deer,
more trout, more midges, black flies, and mosquitoes.



CHAPTER V.

  Youth on the prow, and Pleasure at the helm;
  Regardless of the sweeping whirlwind's sway,
  That, hushed in grim repose, expects his evening prey.--_Gray_.


It was a week before "class day,"--that eventful day which was
virtually to close the college career of Morton and his
contemporaries. The little janitor, commonly called Paddy O'Flinn, was
ringing the evening prayer bell from the cupola of Harvard Hall,--its
tone was dull and muffled, some graceless sophomore having lately
painted it white, inside and out,--and the students were mustering at
the summons. The sedate and the gay, the tender freshman and the
venerable senior, the prosperous city beau and the awkward country
bumpkin, one and all were filing from their respective quarters
towards the chapel in University Hall. The bell ceased; the loiterers
quickened their steps; the last belated freshman, with the dread of
the proctor before his eyes, bounded frantically up the steps; and for
a brief space all was silence and solitude. Then there was a
murmuring, rushing sound, as of a coming tempest, and University Hall
disgorged its contents, casting forth the freshmen and juniors at one
door, and the sophomores and seniors at the other.

Of these last was Morton, who, with three or four of his class, walked
across the college yard, towards the great gateway. By his side was a
young man named Rosny, carelessly dressed, but with a lively,
dare-devil face, and the look of a good-natured game cock.

"I shall be sorry to leave this place," said Morton; "I like it. I
like the elms, and the gravel walks, and the scurvy old brick and
mortar buildings."

"Then I am not of your mind," said Rosny; "gravel or mud, brickbats or
paving stones, they are the same to me, the world over. Halloo, Wren,"
to a mustachioed youth who just then joined them; "we are bound to
your room."

"That's as it should be. But where are the rest?"

"Coming--all in good time; here's one of them."

A dapper little person approached, with a shining beaver, yellow kid
gloves, a switch cane, and a very stiff but somewhat dashing cravat,
surmounted by a round and rubicund face.

"Ah, Chester!" exclaimed Wren; "the very man we were looking for. Come
and take a glass of punch at my room."

"Punch, indeed!" replied Chester, whose face had changed from a prim
expression to one of great hilarity the moment he saw his
friends--"no, no, gentlemen, I renounce punch and all its works. The
pure unmixed, the pure juice of the grape for me."

"But, Chester," urged Wren, "won't the pure mountain dew be a
sufficient inducement?"

"The good company will be a sufficient inducement," said Chester,
waving his hand,--"the good company, gentlemen,--and the good liquor.
But what have we here? Meredith and Vinal walking side by side. Good
Heavens, what a conjunction!"

The objects of Chester's astonishment, on a flattering invitation from
Wren, joined the party, which, however, was weakened by the temporary
secession of Rosny, who, pleading an errand in the village, left them
with a promise to rejoin them soon. His place was in a few moments
more than supplied by a new party of recruits, among whom was Stubb.
Arrived at Wren's room, the desk and other appliances of study were
banished from the table; bottles and glasses usurped their place, and
the company composed themselves for conversation, most of them
permitting their chairs to stand quietly on all fours, though one or
two, like heathen Yankees from the backwoods, forced them to rear
rampant on the hind legs, the occupant's feet resting on the ledge
over the fireplace.

A few minutes passed, when a quick, firm step came up the stairs, and
Rosny entered.

"How are you again, Dick?" said Meredith.

"Good evening, Mr. Rosny," echoed Stubb, who sat alone on the window
seat.

"Eh? what's that?" demanded Rosny, turning sharp round upon the last
speaker, with a face divided between indignation and laughter.

"I said, 'Good evening,'" replied Stubb, much disconcerted.

"And why didn't you say, 'Good morning,' yesterday, eh?--when I met
you in Boston, eh? He gave me the cut direct," turning to the company.
"Mr. Benjamin Stubb, here, gave me the cut direct! It was the
pepper-and-salt coat and the thunder-and-lightning breeches that Stubb
couldn't think of bowing to when he was walking in ---- Street, with a
lady. Look here, Stubb,"--again facing the victim,--"what do you take
me for? and what the devil do you take yourself for? I know your dirty
family history. Your grandfather was a bricklayer, and the Lord knows
who your great grandfather was. The best Huguenot blood of France runs
in _my_ veins! My ancestors were fighting at Ivry and Jarnac, while
yours were peddling coal and potatoes about London streets, or digging
mud in a ditch, for any thing you or I know to the contrary." Stubb
gasped. "Your father has a crest painted on his carriage; but where
did he get it? Why, Cribb, the engraver, stole it for him out of the
British peerage."

Stubb, who was weak and timorous, here rose in great confusion,
muttered something about conduct unbecoming to a gentleman, and
meaning to require an explanation, and abruptly left the room.

"That job is finished," said Rosny, composedly seating himself. "_His_
bill is settled for him."

"But, Dick," said Morton, who had been laughing in his sleeve during
the scene, "do you want to be considered as a Frenchman or an
American?"

"I'm an American," answered Rosny--"an American and a democrat, every
inch."

Rosny had adopted democratic principles and habits partly out of spite
against the class to which Stubb belonged, and which he was pleased to
designate as the "codfish aristocracy," and partly because he thought
that he could thus most effectually gain the ends of his impatient,
hankering ambition. His ancestor, the head of an eminent Huguenot
race, had been driven to America by the persecutions which followed
the revocation of the edict of Nantes. The family had lived ever since
in poverty and obscurity; yet this fiery young democrat nourished an
inordinate pride of birth, and never forgot that he was descended from
a line of warlike nobles.

"No, no," said Rosny, as Morton pushed a glass towards him, "drinking
is against my rule-- Well, as it's about the last time,"--filling the
glass,--"here's to you all."

"The last time!" said Morton; "that's a dismal word. If my next four
years are as pleasant as these last have been, I will never complain
of them."

"I tell you, boys," said Meredith, who was tranquilly puffing at his
cigar, "the cream of our lives is skimmed already. Rough and tumble,
hurry and worry--that will be the story with most of us, more or less,
to the end of our days."

"Rough and tumble!" exclaimed Rosny; "so much the better. 'Scots play
best at the roughest game'--that's just my case. Who wants to be
always paddling about on smooth water? Close reefed topsails, a gale
astern, and breakers all round--that's the game."

"Every one to his taste," said Chester, shrugging his shoulders. "I
suppose a salamander loves the fire, but I don't. 'The race of
ambition'--'the unconquerable will'--pshaw! _Cui bono?_ One chases
after his object, and when he has got it, he turns from it, and chases
another. I profess the philosophy of Horace--enjoy the hour as it
flies. Ah! he was a model man, a man after my own heart, a gentleman
and a man of the world. He could drink his Falernian, and thank the
gods for their gifts."

Rosny whispered in Morton's ear, "Chester ought to have been born a
century ago, among the John Bulls, up in the cockloft of Brazen Nose
College, or some such antediluvian hole."

In spite of these derogatory remarks, Chester, besides being one of
the best scholars in the class, was noted for a social, jovial
disposition, which, though, like Fluellen's valor, a little out of
fashion, made him a general favorite.

"Speaking of the next four years," said Wren, "I wonder what plans
each of us has made for that time. For my part, I have no plan at all,
and should be glad to profit by the suggestions of the rest. Come,
Chester, what do you mean to do?"

"Expatiate," said Chester, expanding his hands, and thereby revealing
an odd little antique ring which he wore; "take mine ease, roaming,
like the bee, from blossom to blossom. I will leave the earnest
men--bah!--the men with a mission--to grub on in their vocation. I
will renounce this land of cotton mills and universal suffrage. First
for Paris, to walk the Boulevards, and go to the masked balls and the
opera;--_vive la bagatelle!_--then for Rome, to saunter through the
Vatican and the picture galleries,--but not to moralize with a long
face over fallen grandeur, and the mutability of human affairs. No,
no, gentlemen, I belong to another school of philosophy. I will sit
among the ruins of the Forum, and laugh, like Democritus, at the image
of Death. Then I will recreate myself at Capri, like the Cæsars before
me; then enjoy the _dolce far niente_ at Florence, and read the Tuscan
poets in the shades of Vallombrosa."

"But, Chester," interposed Wren, "don't you ever mean to marry and
settle down?"

"I object to that phrase, 'settle down.' It calls up disagreeable
images. It reminds one of the backwoods, log cabins, men in shirt
sleeves, and piles of pine boards and lumber. Yes, certainly, I mean
to marry. What man of taste would leave matrimony out of his scheme of
life? One likes to gather his treasures round him, his pictures, his
vases, and statues; and how can he adorn his rooms with an ornament
more exquisite--where can he find a piece of furniture more charmingly
moulded--than a beautiful woman?"

This flourish, between jest and earnest, he pronounced with a graceful
wave of his hand.

"If, when you have married your beautiful woman," said Morton, "you
find you have caught a Tartar, it will serve you right."

"Hear him," said Chester; "hear the barbarian. He will always be
conjuring up some image of disquiet. 'Rest, rest, perturbed spirit.'"

"He could not rest, if he tried," said Horace Vinal.

"No, he is one of those unfortunates who lie under a sentence of
endless activity. It is a disease, with which men are afflicted for
the sins of their ancestors; and for the sins of mine I was born among
a whole nation of such. Perpetual motion, bustle and whirl,--I grow
dizzy to think of it. They cannot rest themselves, and will not let
any one else rest. Always pursuing, always doing, never enjoying. A
true American cannot enjoy. He would build a steam saw mill in
Arcadia, and dam up the four rivers of Paradise for cotton factories."

"But, Chester," said Wren, "that is not at all like Morton; you know
he hates utilitarianism."

"Yes, but still he cannot rest. He would not build saw mills and dams;
but he would be sure to fire his rifle at some of Adam's live stock,
and set all Eden by the ears. Come, Morton, I have told the company my
plans. Let us hear what yours are."

"My guardian wishes me to enter the law school."

"You are twenty-one now," said Vinal, "and can do as you please."

Vinal was a very tall and slender young man, with a strongly marked
face, though thin and pale; a grave, thoughtful eye, and compressed
lips, expressing a kind of nervous self-control. His dress was very
elaborate and scrupulous, though without the smallest trace of
foppery. He was less popular in the class than Morton, but had the
reputation of greater talents. This he owed, perhaps, to his habitual
reserve; for every one thought that he understood Morton thoroughly,
while few pretended to fathom the silent and self-contained Vinal.

"I should like well enough to study law," was Morton's non-committal
answer.

"I thought, Morton, that you were more of a philosopher. Here you are,
a young fellow, full of blood, and worth half a million, and yet you
speak of buckling down to the law. That is all well enough for poor
dogs like me, who go into the mill from necessity. We drudge on for
twenty years or more, till we have scraped together a competency, or
something better, perhaps, and then we find that we have forgotten how
to enjoy it. We have grown so used to harness that we are good for
nothing out of it, and sacrifice body and soul to our profession. You
have reached already the point that we are straining for. The world is
all before you, man; launch out and enjoy yourself."

"Didn't you just say," asked Rosny, "that Morton couldn't rest, if he
tried?"

"I said he could not rest, but I did not say he could not enjoy
himself. Look at him: his cheek is ruddier and browner than any of us.
Nobody would believe that a fellow like that was not made to enjoy
life. I know Morton. He could roam from blossom to blossom, as Chester
says, with as good a will as any body. He has an eye for the fair sex,
correct as he is at present. He knows a pretty face from a plain one.
The devil will catch him yet with a black eye and a rosy cheek."

"Then," said Morton, "he will show his good opinion of my taste."

Rosny, who had his own reasons for disliking Vinal, here broke in
without ceremony,--

"Be gad, Vinal, he will bait his hook differently when he fishes for
you."

"How will that be, Dick?" said Meredith.

"With a five dollar bank note, and a lying puff in a newspaper; and
Vinal will jump at it like a mackerel at a red rag."

Vinal laughed, but with a bad grace.

"Riches and fame!" said Chester, anxious to smooth away all traces of
irritation--"riches and fame! I call those legitimate objects of
pursuit; and the black eye is positively praiseworthy. Come, Morton,
let us hear your plan. You have not told it yet."

"I defer to Rosny--he is my senior. Dick, some ten or twelve years
from this, I suppose I shall vote against you for the presidency."

"Thank you. By that time you will have no whig party left to vote
with. The democrats will have it all their own way."

"I have often wondered what could have induced a driving man of the
world like you to come to college at all. You have been here more than
a year; and in the same time, with your previous knowledge, you might
have learned as much any where else at half the cost. You are not the
fellow to regard a degree of A. M. with superstitious veneration."

"You are right there, colonel. I am of no kith nor kin to some of your
New England old fogies, who would give their souls for a D. D. or an
LL. D.--and get it, too, though they know no more Greek or Hebrew than
I know of Choctaw, and can barely manage to stumble along through the
Latin Testament. What's a piece of sheep's skin to me? Humbug is the
current coin all the world over, and just as much in this free and
enlightened country as any where else. I have schemes on foot,--not
political,--no matter what they are,--out in the western country; and
I happen to know that a degree from Harvard University is the medicine
that suits my case; with that for my credentials, I shall carry it
over all competitors. Yes, boys, gammon is the word; and the man who
would rise in the world must use the stepping stones."

"You're a victim of the national disease, Rosny," said Chester.
"Rising in the world!--that's the idea that ruins us. It's that that
makes us lean, starveling, nervous, restless, dyspeptic,
hypochondriac,--the most prosperous and most uncomfortable people on
earth. Sit down, man, and take your ease. What garden will thrive if
every plant in it must be dug up every day, and set out in a better
place?"

"Ah, that's good doctrine for you. You have got nothing to gain, and a
good deal to lose. Stand up for the _status quo_, old boy; I would, in
your place. Look at me, though. I was cut adrift at fourteen,--parents
dead,--not a cent in my pocket,--and since then I have tumbled along
through the world as I could. You can't kill me. I have more lives
than a cat. I have been thrown on my back a dozen times; but the
harder I was flung down, the higher I bounced up again. Why, I have
known the time when I was glad to earn a shilling by shovelling snow
off a sidewalk. I have tried my hand at every thing,--printer's work,
lecturing, politics, editing, keeping school,--and do you suppose I
shall be content to rest in the mud all my days? Not a bit of it. I
know my cue better. The time will come when you'll see me shooting up
like a rocket."

Here a broad glare against the window interrupted him, and, looking
out, his auditors saw a bonfire blazing with peculiar splendor under
the windows of the chamber where the Faculty were at that moment in
solemn session. Three proctors and a tutor were hastening towards the
scene of outrage, when a stentorian voice from the adjacent darkness
roared forth a warning that there was a canister of gunpowder in the
fire expected every moment to explode. The prudent officers therefore
kept their distance, busying themselves with noting down the names of
several innocent spectators, while the bonfire subsided to a natural
death, the gunpowder hoax having perfectly succeeded.

Mr. Wren's guests resumed their seats, mingling with graver matters
the usual badinage of a college gathering; and when at length they
separated, only a lonely light or two glimmered from among the many
windows of the academic barracks which overlook the college green.



CHAPTER VI.

  As if with Heaven a bargain they had made
  To practise goodness--and to be well paid,
  They, too, devoutly as their fathers did,
  Sin, sack, and sugar, equally forbid;
  Holding each hour unpardonably spent
  That on the leger leaves no monument.--_Parsons_.


Mr. Erastus Flintlock sat at his counting room, in his old
leather-bottomed arm chair. Vassall Morton, his newly emancipated
ward, just twenty-one, stood before him, the undisputed master of his
father's ample wealth.

"What, no profession, Mr. Morton? None whatever, sir?"

"No, sir, none whatever."

The old man's leathery countenance expressed mingled wrath and
concern.

Flintlock was a stanch old New Englander, boasting himself a true
descendant of the Puritans, whose religious tenets he inherited, along
with most of their faults, and not a few of their virtues. He was
narrow as a vinegar cruet, and just in all his dealings. There were
three subjects on which he could converse with more or less
intelligence--politics, theology, and business. Beyond these, he knew
nothing; and except American history and practical science, he had an
indistinct idea that any thing more came of evil. He distrusted a
foreigner, and abhorred a Roman Catholic. All poetry, but Milton and
the hymn book, was an abomination in his eyes; and he looked upon
fiction as an emanation of the devil. To the list of the cardinal
virtues he added another, namely, attention to business. In his early
days, he had come from his native Connecticut with letters to Morton's
father, who, seeing his value, took him as a clerk, placed unbounded
trust in him, and at last made him his partner. He was a youth of slow
parts, solid judgment, solemn countenance, steady habits, and a most
unpliable conscience. He had no follies, allowed himself no
indulgences, and could enjoy no other pleasures than business and
church-going. He attended service morning, afternoon, and evening, and
never smiled on Sundays. His old age was as upright and stiff-necked
as might have been augured from such a youth. He thought the rising
generation were in a very bad way, and once gave his son a scorching
lecture on vanity and arrogance, because the latter, who had been two
years at college, very modestly begged to be excused from carrying a
roll of sample cotton, a yard and a half long, from his father's store
at one end of the town, to the shop of a retail dealer at the other.

"What, no profession, Mr. Morton?"

"None whatever, sir."

Morton was prepared for the consequence of these fatal words, and
sought to arm himself with the needful patience. It would be folly, he
knew, to debate the point with his guardian, who was tough and
unmanageable as a hickory stump; who would never see any side of a
question but his own, and on whose impervious brain reasons fell like
rain drops on a tarpauline. Flintlock, therefore, opened fire
unanswered, and discoursed for a full hour on duty, propriety, and a
due respect for what he called the general sense of the community,
which, as he assured his auditor, demands that every one should have
some fixed and stated calling, by which he may be recognized as a
worthy and useful member of society. Sometimes he grew angry, and
scolded his ward with great vehemence; then subsided into a pathetic
strain, and exhorted him, for the sake of his excellent father, not to
grow old in idleness and frivolity. Morton, respectful, but obdurate,
heard him to an end, assured him that, though renouncing commerce and
the professions, his life would by no means be an idle one, thanked
him for his care of his property, and took his leave; while the old
merchant sank back into his chair, and groaned dismally, because the
son of his respected patron was on the road to perdition.

A moment's retrogression will explain the young man's recusancy.

On a May evening, some two months before the close of his college
career, Morton sat in lonely meditation on a wooden bench, by the
classic border of Fresh Pond. By every canon of polite fiction, his
meditation ought to have been engrossed by some object of romantic
devotion; but in truth they were of a nature wholly mundane and
sublunary.

He had been much exercised of late upon the choice of a career for his
future life. He liked none of the professions for itself, and had no
need to embrace it for support. He loved action, and loved study; was
ambitious and fond of applause. He had, moreover, enough of the
American in his composition never to be happy except when in pursuit
of something; together with a disposition not very rare among young
men in New England, though seldom there, or elsewhere, joined to his
abounding health and youthful spirits--a tendency to live for the
future, and look at acts and things with an eye to their final issues.

Thierry's Norman Conquest had fallen into his hands soon after he
entered college. The whole delighted him; but he read and re-read the
opening chapters, which exhibit the movements of the various races in
their occupancy of the west of Europe. This first gave him an impulse
towards ethnological inquiries. He soon began to find an absorbing
interest in tracing the distinctions, moral, intellectual, and
physical, of different races, as shown in their history, their
mythologies, their languages, their legends, their primitive art,
literature, and way of life. The idea grew upon him of devoting his
life to such studies.

Seated on the wooden bench at the edge of Fresh Pond, he revolved, for
the hundredth time, his proposed scheme, and summed up what he
regarded as its manifold advantages. It would enable him to indulge
his passion for travel, lead him over rocks, deserts, and mountains,
conduct him to Tartar tents and Cossack hovels, make him intimate with
the most savage and disgusting of barbarians; in short, give full
swing to his favorite propensities, and call into life all his
energies of body and mind. In view of this prospect, he clinched his
long-cherished purpose, devoting himself to ethnology for the rest of
his days.

He had a youthful way of thinking that any resolution deliberately
adopted by him must needs be final and conclusive, and was fully
convinced that his present determination was a species of destiny,
involving one of three results--that he should meet an early death,
which he thought very likely; that he should be wholly disabled by
illness, which he thought scarcely possible; or that, in the fulness
of time, say twenty or twenty-five years, his labors would have issue
in some prodigious work, redounding to his own honor and the
unspeakable profit of science.



CHAPTER VII.

  'Tis a dull thing to travel like a mill horse,
  Still in the place he was born in, round and blinded.
                                          _Beaumont and Fletcher_.


A novel-maker may claim a privilege which his betters must forego. So,
in the teeth of dramatic unities, let the story leap a chasm of some
two years.

Not that the void was a void to Morton. His nature spurred him into
perpetual action; but his wanderings were over at length; and he and
Meredith sat under the porch of Morton's house, a few miles from town.
The features of the latter were swarthy from exposures, while those of
his friend were somewhat pale, and had the expression of one
insufferably bored.

"Colonel, you are the luckiest fellow I know. Here you have been
following the backbone of the continent from Darien to the head of the
Missouri, mixing yourself up with Spaniards and Aztecs, poking sticks
into the crater of Popocatapetl, and living hand and glove with
Blackfeet and Assinnaboins, while I have been doing penance among
bonds and mortgages, and title deeds and leases. My father has thrown
up responsibility and gone to Europe--and so has every body else--and
left all on my shoulders."

"Your time will come."

"I hope so."

"But what news is there?"

"Nothing."

"What, nothing since I went away?"

"The old story. You know it as well as I. Now and then, a new
engagement came out. Mrs. A. approved it, and Mrs. B. didn't; and then
characters were discussed on both sides. Something has been said of
the balls, the opera, and what not; with the usual talk about the
wickedness of the democrats and the fanaticism of the abolitionists."

"You appear to have led a gay life."

"Very!--we need a war, an invasion,--something of the sort. It would
put life into us, and rid us of a great deal of nonsense. You were
born with a stimulus in yourself, and can stand this stagnant sort of
existence; but I need something more lively."

"Then go with me on my next journey."

"Are you thinking of another already? Rest in peace, and thank Heaven
that you have come home in a whole skin."

"I have done the North American continent; but there are four more
left, not to mention the islands."

"And you mean to see them all?"

"Certainly."

"Your science is a convenient hobby. It carries you wherever you fancy
to go."

"You could not do better than go with me."

"I know it; but, if wishes were horses---- I am training Dick to take
my place. I am a model elder brother to that youngster in the way of
cultivating his mind and morals; and when I have him up to the mark, I
shall gain a year's furlough for my pains. But when is your next
journey to begin--next week?"

"No, I mean to pin myself down here, and dig like a mole, for the next
ten months, at least."

"If I had not had ocular proof of what a determined dig you can be, I
should set down your studies as mere humbug."

"But I wish to hear the news."

"I would tell it willingly, if I knew any."

"Have the Primroses come home from Europe yet?"

"Yes."

"And the Everills?"

"I believe not."

"Nor the Leslies, I suppose."

"For a reasonably sensible and straightforward fellow, you have a
queer way of making inquiries. You question like a lady's letter, with
the pith in the postscript. You ask after the Primroses and the
Everills, a stupid, priggish set, for whom you care nothing, as
earnestly as if you were in love with them, and then grow indifferent
when you come to the Leslies, whom you like."

"Did I?" said Morton, in some discomposure; "I ask their pardon. Have
they come home?"

"Not yet, but I believe they mean to come as soon as they have staid
their year out."

"And that will be very soon--early in the spring, or sooner."

"Now I think of it, I made the acquaintance, a few evenings ago, of a
person who, I believe, is a relation or connection of yours--Miss
Fanny Euston."

"O, yes, she is my third, fourth, or fifth cousin, or something of
that sort; but I have not seen her since she was ten years old. She
was a great romp, then, and very plain."

"That last failing is cured. She has grown very handsome."

"The first failing ought to be cured, too, by this time."

"I am not so clear on that point. She is a girl with an abundance of
education, and a good deal of a certain kind of accomplishment--music,
and so on--but no breeding at all. If she had had the training of good
society, she would have been one of a thousand. As it is she cares for
nobody, and does and says whatever comes into her mind, without the
least regard to consequences or appearances."

"Does she affect naturalness, independence, and all that?"

"No, she affects nothing. The material is admirable. It only needs to
be refined, polished, and toned down. It's unlucky, colonel, but in
this world every thing worth having is broken in pieces and mixed with
something that one doesn't want. It's an even balance, good and bad;
there's no use in going off into raptures about any thing. One thing
is certain, though; this cousin of yours has character enough to
supply material for a dozen Miss Primroses, without any visible
diminution."

"I should like to see her. I'll go to-morrow."

"You'd better. But now tell me something more about your journey."

And, in reply to his friend's questions, Morton proceeded to relate
such incidents as had befallen him.



CHAPTER VIII.

                    Beauty is a witch
  Against whose charms faith melteth into blood.
  _D. Pedro_.--If thou wilt hold longer argument,
  Do it in notes.
  _Benedick_.--Now, _divine air_, now is his soul ravished.
                                           _Much Ado about Nothing_.


Morton visited his cousin, Miss Fanny Euston, a guest, for a few days,
at a friend's house in town. By good fortune, as he thought it, he
found her alone; and, as he conversed with her, he employed
himself--after a practice usual with him--in studying her character,
and making internal comments upon it. These insidious reflections,
condensed into a paragraph, would have been somewhat as follows:--

"A fine figure, and a very handsome face; but there is a lurking devil
in her eye, and about the corners of her mouth." Here some ten minutes
of animated dialogue ensued before his observations had shaped
themselves into further results. "She is exceedingly clever; she knows
how to think and act for herself. I should not like to cross her will.
There is fire enough in her to make a hundred women interesting. She
is none of our frosty New England beauties. She could love a man to
the death, and hate him as well. She could be a heroine or a tigress.
Every thing about her is wild and chaotic, the unformed elements of a
superb woman."

Here, the conversation having lasted a half hour or more, his
imagination began to disturb the deductions of his philosophy, and he
was no longer in a mood of just psychological analysis, when, to his
vexation, his cousin's hostess, Miss Jones, entering, brought his
_tête-à-tête_ to a close. She displayed a marvellous fluency of
discourse, and was eloquent upon books, parties, paintings, and the
opera.

"I need not ask you, Mr. Morton, if you have seen Tennyson's new
poem."

"Yes--at the bookseller's."

"But surely you have read it."

"No, I am behind the age."

"Then thank Heaven for it," exclaimed his unceremonious cousin; "for
of all insipidity, and affectation, and fine-spun, wire-drawn trash,
Tennyson carries away the palm. Every body reads him because he is the
fashion, and every body admires him because he is the fashion. But he
is a bubble, a film, a gossamer; there's nothing in him."

This explosion called forth a protest from the poet's admirer.

"May I ask," said Morton to his cousin, "who are your literary
favorites?"

"Not the latter-day poets--the Tennysonian school; their puling
mannerism is an insult to the Saxon tongue."

"But," urged Miss Jones, "you are not quite reasonable."

"Of course I am not. It's not a woman's province to be reasonable."

"Do you subscribe to these poetical heresies, Mr. Morton?"

"On the contrary, I think that Tennyson has often great beauties."

"If he sometimes wrote like an angel," pursued Fanny Euston, "I should
find no patience to see it in a man who could put upon paper such
parrot rhymes as these:--

  'Not a whit of thy tuwhoo,
   Thee to woo to thy tuwhit,
   Thee to woo to thy tuwhit,
   With a lengthened loud halloo,
   Tuwhoo, tuwhit, tuwhit, tuwhoo-o-o!'

Bah! it puts one in a passion to hear such twaddle."

"I see," said her friend, "that nothing less than your own music will
calm your indignation. Pray let us hear the ballad which you set to
music this morning."

"I will sing, if you wish it; but not that ballad."

And she seated herself before the open piano.

"What do you choose, Mr. Morton?"

"The Marseillaise. That, I think, is in your vein."

"Ah! you can choose well!"

And, running her fingers over the keys, she launched at once into the
warlike strains of the hymn of revolution. Her voice and execution
were admirable; and though by no means unconscious that she was
producing an effect, she sang with a fire, energy, and seeming
recklessness that thrilled like lightning through her auditor's veins.
He rose involuntarily from his seat. For that evening his study of
character was ended, and philosophy dislodged from her last
stronghold.

Half an hour later he was riding homeward in a mood quite novel to his
experience. He pushed his horse to a keen trot, as if by fierceness of
motion to keep pace with the fiery influence that was kindling all his
nerves.

"I have had my fancies before this," he thought,--"in fact I have
almost been in love; but that feeling was no more like this than a
draught from a clear spring is like a draught of spiced wine."

That night he fully expected to be haunted by a vision of Fanny
Euston; but his slumbers were unromantically dreamless.

Three days later, he ventured another visit; but his cousin had
returned to her home in the country. By this time he was conscious of
a great abatement of ardor; and his equanimity was little moved by the
disappointment. In a week he had learned to look back on his transient
emotion as an effervescence of the moment, and to regard his relative
with no slight interest, indeed, yet by no means in a light which
could blind him to her glaring faults. He summoned up all that he
could recall of herself and her family, and chiefly of her father,
whom he remembered in his boyhood as a rough, athletic man, whose
black and bushy eyebrows were usually contracted into something which
seemed like a frown. These boyish recollections were far from doing
Euston justice. He was a man of masculine and determined character.
His will was strong, his passions violent; he was full of prejudices,
and when thwarted or contradicted, his rage was formidable. His honor
was unquestioned; he was most bluntly and unmanageably honest. Yet
through the rock and iron of his character, there ran, known to but
few, a delicate vein of poetic feeling. The music of his daughter, or
the verses of his favorite Burns, could often bring tears to his stern
gray eyes. For his wife, whom he had married in a fit of pique and
disappointment, when little more than a boy, he cared nothing; but his
fondness for his daughter was unbounded. He alone could control her;
for she loved him ardently, and he was the only living thing of which
she stood in awe.



CHAPTER IX.

  Elle ne manque jamais de saisir promptement
  L'apparente lueur du moindre attachement,
  D'en semer la nouvelle avec beaucoup de joie,--_Le Tartufe_.


Among Morton's acquaintance was a certain Miss Blanche Blondel. They
had been schoolmates when children; and as, at a later date, Miss
Blanche had been fond of making long visits to a friend in Cambridge,
during term time, Morton, in common with many others, had a college
acquaintance with her, so that they were now on a footing of easy
intercourse. Not that he liked her. On the contrary, she had inspired
him with a very emphatic aversion; but being rather a skirmisher on
the outposts of society, than enrolled in the main battalion, she was
anxious to make the most of the acquaintance she had. She had the eyes
of an Argus, and was as sly, smooth, watchful, and _rusée_ as a
tortoise shell cat; wonderfully dexterous at finding or making gossip,
and unwearied in sowing it, broadcast, to the right and left.

One evening Morton was at a ball, crowded to the verge of suffocation.
At length he found himself in a corner from which there was no
retreat, while the stately proportions of Mrs. Frederic Goldenberg
barred his onward progress. But when that distinguished lady chanced
to move aside, she revealed the countenance of Miss Blondel, beaming
on him like the moon after an eclipse. She nodded and smiled. There
was no escape. Morton smiled hypocritically, and said, "Good evening."
Blanche, as usual, was eager for conversation, and, after a few
commonplaces, she said, turning up her eyes at him with an arch
expression,--

"I have a piece of news to tell you, Mr. Morton."

"Ah!" replied Morton, expecting something disagreeable.

"A piece of news that you will be charmed to hear."

"Indeed."

"Why, how cold you are! And I know that, in your heart, you are
burning to hear it."

"If you think so, you are determined to give my patience a hard
schooling."

"Well, I will not tantalize you any more. Miss Edith Leslie sailed
from Liverpool for home last Wednesday."

"Ah!"

"How cold you are again! Are you not glad to hear it?"

"Certainly--all her friends will be glad to hear it."

"Upon my word, Mr. Morton, you are worse and worse. When a gentleman
dances twice with a young lady on class day, and twice at Mrs.
Fanfaron's ball, and joins her in the street besides, has she not a
right to feel hurt when he hears with such profound indifference of
her coming home after a year's absence?"

Morton could hardly restrain the extremity of his distaste and
impatience.

"Miss Leslie, I imagine, would spend very little thought upon the
matter." And he hastened, first to change the conversation, and then
to close it altogether.

Having escaped from his fair informant, he remained divided between
pleasure at the tidings, and annoyance at the manner in which they had
been told.

In a few days Miss Leslie arrived. Her beauty had matured during her
absence. She was conspicuously and brilliantly handsome, and was
admired accordingly,--a fact which, though she could not but be
conscious of it, seemed to affect her very little. Morton found her
but slightly changed, with the same polished and quiet frankness, the
same lively conversation, not without a tinge of sarcasm, and the same
enthusiasm of character, betraying itself by an earnestness of manner,
and never by any extravagance of expression. He had many opportunities
of seeing her, Miss Blanche Blondel being but rarely present, and, in
his growing admiration of her, the charms of his unbridled cousin
faded more and more from his memory.



CHAPTER X.

  For three whole days you thus may rest
  From office business, news, and strife.--_Pope_.


When the summer heats set in, Meredith, one evening, drove to Morton's
house, and, arrayed in linen and grass-cloth, smoked his cigar under
his friend's veranda with as much contentment as the thermometer at
ninety would permit. The window at his side was that of the room which
Morton used as his study, and the table was covered with books.

"Colonel," said Meredith, "what a painstaking fellow you are! Ever
since you left college--except when you were off on that journey,
which was one of the most rational things you ever did in your
life--you have been digging here among your books, as if you were some
half-starved law student, with a prospect of matrimony."

"I've done digging for the present. It's against my principles to work
much in July and August."

"What do you mean to do?"

"Set out on a journey."

"I suppose so. You are a lucky fellow."

"Give yourself a vacation, and come with me."

"No, I'm in for it for the next two months; but I will have my revenge
before long."

"Three days from your office will never ruin you or your family. Come
with me to New Baden, if you can't do better."

"I think I can manage that,--and I will."

Accordingly, on Monday morning, they took the train thitherward.



CHAPTER XI.

  The company is 'mixed,' (the phrase I quote is
  As much as saying, they're below your notice.)--_Byron_.


On reaching New Baden, towards night, they learned that there was to
be a dance that evening, in the hall.

"The deuse!" ejaculated Meredith, as they entered; "have we come all
this distance to find old faces again at New Baden? Look at that
corner."

Morton looked, and beheld a solemn group taking no part in the
amusements, but scrutinizing the scene with the air of superior
beings. He recognized the familiar countenance of Mrs. Primrose, with
her daughter, Miss Constance Primrose, and her daughter's friend, Miss
Wallflower. There, too, was Mr. Benjamin Stubb, Morton's classmate,
and Miss Primrose's reputed admirer, with several other kindred
spirits. Stubb was a tall and very slender young man, with a grave and
pallid visage, and an uncompromising rigidity of cravat. Though his
brain was unfurnished, his morals were reasonably good, and he went
regularly to church, believing that there was, he could not tell how,
an inseparable connection between good society and the ritual of the
English church. He prided himself on his gentlemanly deportment, and
regarded a lady as a being who is under no circumstances to be
approached, except through the medium of certain prescribed forms and
ceremonies. He seldom noticed those whom he thought his inferiors, and
was very formal and exact towards the select few whom he acknowledged
as his equals. As to superiors, he confessed none, except in the
highest ranks of the English aristocracy, upon whom he looked with
great reverence. He thought that there was no really good society in
America, except the society of Boston, of which he regarded himself
and his connections as the _crême, de la crême_. He cherished a just
hereditary scorn of upstarts and parvenus; for already nearly half a
century had expired since the Stubbs began to rise on golden wings
from their native mud. Nor was this their only claim to ancestral
eminence; since a judicious investment of a little surplus income at
the College of Heralds had revealed the gratifying truth that the
Stubbs of Boston were lineal descendants of King Arthur.

Mrs. Primrose was a very benevolent and estimable person, who knew
nothing of the world beyond her own circle, and looked with dire
reprehension on any deviation from the standard of morals and manners
which she had been accustomed to regard as the correct and proper one.
Miss Constance Primrose realized Stubb's most exalted ideal of a young
lady. She was very pretty, but with a face cold and unchanging as
marble. She carried an unquestionable air of good, not to say of high
breeding; having in this point an advantage over her mother, whose
style savored a little of the simplicity of her early surroundings.
The material, indeed, was very slender; but it had received a
creditable polish; and though she had nothing to say, she said it with
an undeniable grace.

Morton and Meredith paid their compliments to the group, the former
hastening to mingle with the crowd again, while Meredith remained to
exchange a few words with the pretty, modest, and too-much-neglected
Miss Wallflower.

"Upon my word, Mr. Meredith," said Mrs. Primrose, "Mr. Morton has
found a singular pair of acquaintances."

"O, yes," said Meredith; "those are particular friends of his."

"Very singular!" murmured Mrs. Primrose.

Morton was walking slowly up the hall, conversing with an odd-looking
couple--a heavy, thick set man, in the fantastic finery of a Broadway
swell, and a woman of five feet ten, thin and gaunt, with a yellow
complexion, and a pair of fierce, glittering eyes, like an Indian
squaw in ill humor. She was gorgeous in silk, brocade, and diamonds,
and her huge, gloveless, bony fingers sparkled with jewelry. Her
husband, on his part, displayed a mighty breastpin, in the shape of a
war horse rampant, in diamond frostwork.

"Mr. Meredith," murmured the horrified Mrs. Primrose, "pray who are
those persons?"

"Aborigines from Red River. Mr. and Mrs. Major Orson, of Natchitoches.
He is a speculator, I believe, of more wealth than reputation."

"And _are_ they friends of Mr. Morton?"

"O, Morton is a student of humanity. He met them at the tea table, and
thinks them remarkable specimens of natural history."

Mrs. Primrose did not hear this explanation. The trio had now
approached within a few yards; and her whole attention was absorbed in
listening to the high, penetrating voice of the female ogre.

"There's one great and glorious thing about Natchitoches," remarked
Mrs. Orson.

"What's that?" asked Morton.

"You can get every thing there to eat that heart can wish."

"That's a fact," said the major; "there ain't no discount on that."

"Game, and fish, and fruit, and vegetables," pursued the lady; "any
thing and every thing. The north can't compete with it, I tell _you_.
There's the pompano! O, my! Did you ever eat a pompano?"

"Never."

"Then you _have_ got something to look forward to. That's a fish that
_is_ a fish. Why, sir, you can begin at the tail, and eat him clean
away to the head, and the bones is just like marrow! It makes my mouth
water to think of it!"

"O, hush!" cried the major, with sympathetic emotion.

"And then the fruit! Think of the peaches! They beat your nasty little
northern peaches all holler!"

"Yes," added the major, and to have your own boys to shin up the tree
and throw 'em down to you; and to sit under the shade all the
afternoon eating 'em;--that's the way to live!"

"It's all the little niggers is good for, just to pick fruit."

"Troublesome animals, I should think," observed Morton.

"Well, they be; and the growed-up niggers ain't much better. To think
of that girl, Cynthy, major. My! wasn't she one of 'em! The major is,
out of all account, too tender to his niggers, and if it warn't for
me, they wouldn't get a speck of justice done. Why, what are all those
folks moving for? My! supper's ready. I'll go in with this gentleman,
major, and you may foller with any pretty gal that you can get to come
with you. I ain't a jealous woman"--turning to Morton--"I let the
major do pretty much what he pleases."

Mrs. Primrose drew a deep breath. "There must be"--thus she communed
with herself--"something essentially vulgar in the mind of that young
man, if he can neglect a cultivated and refined young lady like
Constance, and at the same time find pleasure in the conversation of a
person like that." And she considered within herself whether it would
not be best to warn Constance not to encourage any advances which he
might in future make. On second thoughts, reflecting that his position
was unquestionable, his wealth great, and that she had never heard any
thing against his morals, she determined to suspend all action for the
present, keeping a close watch, meanwhile, on his behavior.

While Morton was thus brought to the bar in the matronly breast of
Mrs. Primrose, while the jury were bringing in a verdict of guilty,
joined to a recommendation to mercy, the unconscious young man was
leading his companion to the supper room; where, furnishing her with a
huge plate of oysters, he left her in perfect contentment.

Not long after, he encountered Meredith.

"How do you like your friend in the diamonds?"

"She's a superb specimen; about as civilized, with all her jewelry, as
a Pawnee squaw. She has a vein of womanhood, though. I saw her, in the
tea room, fondle a kitten whose foot had been trodden upon, as
tenderly as if it had been a child."

"If you had not been so busy with her, you would have met a person
much better worth your time."

"Who's that?"

"Miss Fanny Euston."

"Do you mean that she is here?"

"She _was_ here,--in that room adjoining. But she has gone; you'll see
nothing of her to-night."

"Will not her being here induce you to stay?"

The question, as he spoke it, had a sound of frankness; but the
shameful truth must be confessed, that, in spite of his friendship for
Meredith, and his admiration of Miss Leslie, he was a little jealous
of his friend.

"No," replied Meredith, "it's out of the question. I must be off the
day after to-morrow. By the way, you never told me how you liked Miss
Euston."

"A rough diamond, needing nothing but to be cut, polished, and set!"

"It's too late, I think, for that. The polishing should have begun
before eighteen. She is quite unformed, and quite unconscious of being
so. I'll leave you here to fall in love with her, if you like; but if
you do, colonel, you'll be a good deal younger than I take you for."

There was something in his friend's tone which led Morton half to
suspect the truth. Meredith had himself a _penchant_ for Miss Fanny
Euston, held in abeyance by a very lively perception of her faults.



CHAPTER XII.

  Will you woo this wildcat?--_Katharine and Petruchio_.


Meredith went away, as he had proposed, leaving Morton at New Baden.
The latter soon came to the opinion that he had never yet found so
interesting a subject of psychological observation as that afforded
him in the person of his relative, Miss Euston. She seemed to him the
most wayward of mortals; yet in the midst of this lawlessness,
generous instincts were constantly betraying themselves, and a certain
native grace, a charm of womanhood, followed her wildest caprices. She
often gave great offence by her brusqueries; yet those who best knew
her were commonly her ardent friends.

Mrs. Primrose looked upon her with her most profound and unqualified
disapprobation. Her daughter copied her sentiments; while Stubb
thought her an outside barbarian of the most alarming character. Fanny
Euston's perceptions were very acute. She saw the effect she had
produced, and seemed to take peculiar delight in aggravating it, and
shocking the prejudices of her critics still more.

One afternoon, Miss Primrose, Mr. Stubb, Fanny Euston, Morton, and
several others, set out on a horseback excursion, matronized by Mrs.
Primrose. At a few miles from New Baden, Morton found himself riding
at his cousin's side, a little behind the rest.

"Do you know, I came this morning, to ask you to join us on our walk
to Elk Ridge."

"Ah, I am sorry I was not there."

"You were there; but you seemed so deep in Ivanhoe, or some other of
your favorites, that I had no heart to interrupt you."

"But that was quite absurd. I should like to have gone."

"I am curious to know what book you were so busy with. Something of
Scott's--was it not?"

"Not precisely."

"Nor one of the new novels," pursued Morton--"those are not after your
taste."

"Not at all; they are all full of some grand reform or philanthropic
scheme, or the sorrows of some destitute, uninteresting little wretch,
with whom you are required to sympathize."

"You are not moulded after the philanthropic model. But may I ask,
what book was entertaining you so much?"

"Napier's Life of Montrose."

"And do you like it?"

"Indeed I do."

"And you like Montrose?"

"Certainly I like him."

"I could have sworn it. Do you remember his verses to the lady of his
heart?"

"That I do," said Fanny Euston,--

  "'Like Alexander I will reign,
      And I will reign alone;
    My heart shall evermore disdain
      A rival on my throne.
    He either fears his fate too much,
      Or his deserts are small,
    Who puts it not unto the touch,
      To win or lose it all.

  "'But if thou wilt be constant then,
      And faithful of thy word,
    I'll make thee famous by my pen,
      And glorious by my sword;
    I'll serve thee in such noble ways
      Was never heard before;
    I'll dress and crown thee all with bays,
      And love thee evermore.'"

"Admirable! I thought I had a good memory, but you beat me hollow. You
repeat the lines as if you liked them."

"Who would not like them?"

"And yet his fashion of wooing would be a little peremptory for the
nineteenth century."

"There are no Montroses in the nineteenth century."

"They are out of date, like many a good thing besides. Not long ago, I
saw some verses in a magazine--a kind of ballad on Montrose's
execution."

"Can you repeat it?"

"I cannot compete with you; but I think I can give you a stanza or
two:--

  "'The morning dawned full darkly,
      The rain came flashing down,
    And the jagged streak of the levin bolt
      Lit up the gloomy town:
    The thunder crashed across the heaven,
      The fatal hour was come;
    And ay broke in, with muffled beat,
      The 'larum of the drum.
    There was madness on the earth below,
      And anger in the sky,
    And young and old, and rich and poor,
      Came forth to see him die.

  "'But when he came, though pale and wan,
      He looked so great and high,
    So noble was his manly front,
      So calm his steadfast eye,--
    The rabble rout forbore to shout,
      And each man held his breath,
    For well they knew the hero's soul
      Was face to face with death.'"

Fanny Euston's eye kindled, as if at a strain of warlike music.

"Go on."

"I have forgotten the rest."

"Then pray find the verses and send them to me. Why is it that, as you
say, such men are out of date?"

"What place, or what career, could they find in a commercial country?"

"Then why were we born in a commercial country?"

"You seem to make an ideal hero of Montrose."

"Not I. I am not the school girl you take me for. I have no ideal
hero. I do not believe in ideal heroes. Montrose was a man, with the
faults of a man; full of faults, and yet not a bad man either."

"Very far from it."

"He had great faults, but grand qualities to match them,--worth a
thousand of the small, tame, correct virtues that one sees
hereabouts."

"Dangerous ideas, those, Mrs. Primrose would tell you."

"Deliver me from Mrs. Primrose!" ejaculated Fanny.

They rode in silence for a few minutes, Morton's companion murmuring
to herself fragments of the lines which he had just repeated.

"Look!" she cried, suddenly. "How slowly our horses have been walking!
The rest are almost out of sight. We had better join them. Will you
race with me?"

"Any thing you please."

"Come on, then."

She touched her horse with the whip, and they set forward at full
speed. Fanny, who was by far the better mounted, soon gained the day.

"Rein up," cried Morton, as they came near the party, "or your horse
will startle the others."

Fanny drew the curb, but not quite successfully; and her rapid arrival
produced some commotion. Stubb's horse, in particular, began to prance
and curvet in a manner which greatly disturbed his rider's equanimity.

"Whoa! Whoa, boy!" said Stubb. "Steady, now! steady, sir! Whoa!"

Fanny's eyes twinkled with malicious delight. She had a great contempt
for Stubb, who, on his part, was mortally afraid of her.

"That's a good horse of yours," pushing close to his side.

"Yes, a very fine horse, indeed. Steady, boy! Steady, now!"

"A capital horse; but he needs a spirited hand like yours to manage
him."

"Whoa! Quiet, now!--poor fellow!"

This last endearing address was checked by a sudden jolt, produced by
a spasmodic movement of the horse, which shook the cavalier to his
very centre.

"Punish him well with your spurs, Mr. Stubb, and let him run; that's
the way to cure him of his tricks. Suppose we try a race together."

"Thank you, Miss Euston, but the fact is-- Whoa, boy! whoa!-- I mean,
the stableman told me that he is rather short of breath."

"O, never mind the stableman. Come, let's go."

"Thank you, Miss Euston, I believe not to-day."

"You astonish me. I will lay any bet you like--you shall name the
wager--any thing you please."

"Really, this is a little too bad!" soliloquized the horrified Mrs.
Primrose. "Miss Euston, I entreat of you--I beg--that we may have no
more racing. It is very dangerous, besides being----"

"What is it besides being dangerous, Mrs. Primrose?"

"_Very_ indecorous."

"I am very sorry, for I have set my heart on a race with Mr. Stubb."

"Mr. Morton," said the distressed lady, aside to that young gentleman,
"you are a prudent and sober-minded person; pray use your influence."

She was interrupted by a most uncanonical ejaculation from the author
of her embarrassments, which, though couched in a foreign language,
petrified her into silence. A sharp gust of wind had blown away
Fanny's veil, and she was on the point of dashing off in pursuit of
it.

"Stop!" cried Morton, "you'll break your neck. Let me get it for you."

The veil sailed away before the wind, and Morton spurred in pursuit,
delighted to display his horsemanship before ladies, though it had no
other merit than a tenacious seat and a kind of recklessness, the
result of an excitable temperament. The ground was rough and broken,
and studded with rocks and savin bushes, and as he galloped at a
breakneck speed down the side of the hill, in a vain attempt to catch
the veil flying, even Fanny held her breath. He secured his prize, as
it caught against a bush, and returned to the road.

"Now, Miss Euston," said Mrs. Primrose, looking folios at the
offender, "I trust we shall be allowed to go on in peace."

There was an interval of repose. Stubb regained his peace of mind.
Miss Primrose, with whom he fancied himself in love, smiled upon him,
and his self-conceit, before shaken in its stronghold, was returning
in full force, when Fanny, who nourished a peculiar spite against this
harmless blockhead, and whom that afternoon a very Satan of mischief
seemed to possess, again rode to his side, and renewed her
solicitations for a race.

"Miss Euston," said Mrs. Primrose, "I am certain you would do nothing
so unladylike as to force Mr. Stubb to race against his will. Consider
the example you would set to Georgiana Gosling, who always imitates
what she sees you do."

The words were mild and motherly; but the countenance of the outraged
matron had an uncompromising look of reprehension, which exasperated
Fanny's wayward humor beyond measure. She began, it is true, a lively
conversation on general topics with the intelligent Stubb, but,
meantime, by alternately checking and exciting her horse, and urging
him to play a variety of antics, she contrived to infect her
companion's steed with the like contagion. He pranced, plunged, and
chafed, till his rider was brought to the verge of despair.

The road had become quite narrow, running through a thick forest,
frequented chiefly by woodcutters in the winter, and hunters of the
picturesque in summer. Fanny's imitator, the adventurous Miss Gosling,
a little girl of fourteen, had ridden a few rods in advance of the
rest, when suddenly they saw her returning, astonished and
disconsolate.

"We can't go any farther; there's a great tree fallen across the
road."

A severe thundergust of the night before had overthrown a hemlock, the
trunk of which, partly sustained by the roots and branches, formed a
barrier about four feet from the ground. It was impossible to pass
through the woods on either side, as they were very dense, and choked
with a tangled growth of laurel bushes.

"How very annoying!" said Miss Primrose.

"What shall we do?" inquired Miss Gosling.

"Why, jump over it, to be sure," said Fanny. "Mr. Stubb and I will
show you the way."

"You are surely not in earnest!" cried Mrs. Primrose.

"Of course I am. I have taken higher leaps at the riding school,
twenty times."

"You had better not," said Morton, who had alighted by the roadside to
draw his saddle girth.

"It is too dangerous to be thought of for a single moment," added Mrs.
Primrose.

"Our horses," pursued the indiscreet Stubb, "are not used to leaping,
and some of the ladies would certainly be hurt."

"The fool!" thought Morton. "He has done it now."

Fanny threw a laughing, caustic glance at her victim.

"_Mine_ will leap, I know; and you are not a lady. Come, Mr. Stubb."

"Miss Euston," interposed the excited Mrs. Primrose, "this must not
be. I am here in your mother's place, and she will hold me responsible
for your safety. I forbid you to go, Miss Euston."

Fanny looked for a moment in her face. Morton caught the expression.
It was one of unqualified, though not ill-natured, defiance.

"Come," cried Fanny again, and ran her horse towards the tree. She
leaped gallantly, and cleared the barrier; but it was evident that she
had lost control of the spirited animal, who galloped at a furious
rate down the road.

Morton was still on foot, busied with his saddle girth.

"The crazy child!" exclaimed Mrs. Primrose; "her horse is running
away. Go after her--pray!--Mr. Stubb--somebody."

"O, quick! quick!--do," cried little Miss Gosling, who idolized Fanny,
and was in an agony of fright for her.

Thus exhorted, the desperate Stubb cried, "Get up," and galloped for
the tree; but his horse balked, and, leaping aside, tumbled him into
the mud. The ladies screamed. Morton would have laughed, if he had not
been too anxious for Fanny.

"Get out of the way, Stubb," he cried, mounting with all despatch.

Miss Primrose's admirer gathered himself up, regained his hat, which
had taken refuge in a puddle, and looked with horror at a ghastly
white rent across his knee. Morton spurred his hack against the
barrier, which the beast cleared with difficulty, striking his hind
hoofs as he went over. After riding a short distance, he discovered
Fanny, and saw, to his great relief, that she was regaining control
over her horse. Half a mile farther on, the road divided. The larger
branch led to the right, Morton did not know whither; the smaller
turned to the left, and after circling through the woods for two or
three miles, issued upon the high road. Fanny, who was ignorant of the
way, took the right hand branch. In a few minutes after, she had
brought her horse to a trot, and Morton rode up to her side.

"You are wiser than I am, if you know where we are going."

"I thought you knew the way. You were to have been our guide."

"We are on the wrong road. You should have turned to the left."

"But have you no idea where this will lead us?"

"Into a cedar swamp, for what I know. Had we not better turn back?"

"O, don't speak of turning back. I am in no mood for turning back. Let
us keep on. I am sure this will bring us out somewhere."

"As you please," said Morton, knowing himself to be in the position of
an angler, whose only chance of managing his salmon is to give it
line.

"Where are all the rest?"

"Holding a convention behind the tree, I suppose. At least, I left
them there."

"And did not Mr. Stubb dare the fatal leap?"

"He tried, and was thrown into a mud puddle."

"No bodily harm, I hope."

"No; beaver and broadcloth were the principal sufferers. But his
conceit is shaken out of him for twenty-four hours, at least."

"Then I have wrought a miracle, and can claim to be canonized on the
strength of it."

"I hope you may be; but I never expected to see your name in the
calendar of saints."

"As you will not allow me to be a saint, I suppose you consider me as
mad. Sanctity and madness, they say, are of kin."

"A hair's breadth, or so, on this side madness."

"Then I am entitled to great credit for keeping my wits at all. What
reasonable girl would not be driven mad with Mrs. Primrose to watch
her, and disapprove of her, and correct her? Strange--is it not?--that
some people--if Mrs. Primrose will allow me to use so inelegant an
expression--are always rubbing one against the grain."

"To give you your due, I think you have paid off handsomely any grudge
you may owe in that quarter."

"There is consolation in that. Tell me--you are of the out-spoken
sort--are you not of my opinion? Let me know your mind. Mr. Stubb
is----"

"A puppy."

"And the Primroses are----"

"Uninteresting."

"For uninteresting, say insufferable. If Lucifer wishes to gain me
over to his side, let Mrs. Primrose be made my guardian angel, and his
work is done."

"Your horse has cast a shoe," said Morton, abruptly,--"yes; and he is
lame besides."

"It is this broken, stony road. I wish we were at the end of it."

"So do I. If the clouds would break for a moment, and show us the sun,
I could form some idea of the direction we are following."

"Why," said Fanny, in alarm, looking at her watch, "the sun must be
very near setting."

Morton began to be very anxious, for his companion's sake, when, a
moment after, they came upon a broader track, which intersected the
other, and seemed a main thoroughfare of the woodcutters.

"This looks more promising," said Morton; and turning to the left,
they pushed their horses to their best pace. Twilight came on, and it
was quite dark when they emerged at length upon the broad and dusty
highway. In a few minutes they saw a countryman, with his hands in his
pockets, and a long nine between his lips, lounging by the roadside.

"How far is it to New Baden?"

"Wal," replied the man, after studying his querist in silence for
about half a minute, "it's fifteen mile strong."

Morton looked at Fanny, whose horse was very lame, and who, in spite
of her spirit, began to show unmistakable signs of fatigue.

"Is there a public house any where near?"

"Yas; it ain't far ahead to Mashum's."

"How far?"

"Rather better nor a mile."

On coming to the inn, Morton commended Fanny to the care of the
landlady, an honest New Hampshire woman, remounted without delay, and
urged his tired horse to such speed that he reached the hotel before
half past nine. His arrival relieved the anxieties, or silenced the
tattle of the inmates; and in the morning Fanny's uncle drove to the
inn, and brought back the adventurous damsel to New Baden.



CHAPTER XIII.

  Men will woo the tempest,
    And wed it, to their cost.--_Passion Flowers_.

  Then fly betimes, for only they
    Conquer love that run away.--_Carew_.


Morton had been for some time of opinion that he had better leave New
Baden; yet still the philosophic youth staid on,--a week longer,--a
fortnight longer,--and still he lingered. It would be too much to say
that he was in love with his handsome, dare-devil cousin; but his mind
was greatly troubled in regard to her--shaken and tossed with a
variety of conflicting emotions. The multiplied and constantly
changing phases of her character, its strong but utterly ungoverned
resources, its frankness, enthusiasm, detestation of all deceit or
pretension, and, in spite of her wildness, a deep vein of womanly
tenderness which now and then betrayed itself, all conspired to keep
his interest somewhat painfully excited.

One evening he left the crowded piazza of the hotel, and, intending to
flirt with solitude and a cigar, walked towards a rustic arbor,
overgrown with a wild grape vine, and standing among a cluster of
young elms at the foot of the garden. As he drew near, he saw the
gleam of ladies' dresses, and found the seats already occupied by Miss
Fanny Euston and two companions. Morton knew them well, and joined the
party. As neither the affected graces of the one companion nor the
voluble emptiness of the other had much interest in his eyes, he
directed his conversation chiefly to Fanny. In a few minutes the two
girls exchanged glances, rose, and alleging some pretended engagement,
returned to the hotel, bent on making this casual interview assume the
air of a flirtation.

Morton and his companion sat for a moment in silence.

"We are cousins--are we not?" said the former, at length.

"At least they would call us so in the Highlands."

"Then give me a cousin's privilege, and allow me to be personal. Are
you not out of spirits to-night?"

"Why do you think me so?"

"From your look and manner."

"Are you not tired to death of New Baden?"

"Not yet."

"I am. What is it all worth?--weary, and vapid, and flat, and stale,
and unprofitable! I have had enough of it."

"Then why not change it?"

"To find the same thing in a new shape!"

"Pardon me if I call that a freak of the moment. You are the gayest of
the gay."

"No, I am not."

"You are a belle here; a centre light. The moths flutter about you,
though you do, now and then, singe their wings. You frighten them, and
they repay you with fine speeches."

"I am weary of them. For Heaven's sake, abuse me a little. I know you
have it often in your heart."

"Abuse is sometimes nothing but flattery in disguise."

"Why do you smile? That smile was at my expense."

"Why should you imagine so?"

"I insist on your telling me its meaning."

"I was only thinking that when tribute in an old shape has become
wearisome, one may like to have it paid in a new one."

"That certainly is not flattery. Do you know I am beginning to be
afraid of you?"

"I could not have thought you afraid of any one."

"Yes, I am afraid of you."

"Why?"

"Because you are always observing me. Because you penetrate my
thoughts and understand me thoroughly."

"I am less deep than you suppose."

"At least you know all my faults. You are always, in a quiet way,
making gibes and sarcasms at my expense, and touching upon my weakest
points."

"Does it make you angry?"

"No; I rather like it; but I wish to repay you. I wish to find your
weaknesses, but cannot. Have you any?"

"Yes, an abundance."

"And will you tell me what they are?"

"What, that you may use them against me! The moment you know them, you
will attack me without mercy; and if you see me wince, it is all over
with me."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that you cease to like one as soon as you find that you can
gain the least advantage over him. If I could really make you a little
afraid of me, you would like me all the better for it. No, I will show
you none of my weaknesses; and perhaps, if I did, you would not find
them of a kind that you could use against me. I can strike at you, but
you cannot hurt me. I am armed in proof. I defy you."

In saying this, at least, Morton showed some knowledge of his
companion's character. To defy her successfully was a great step
towards gaining her good graces; for with all her wildness she was
very sensitive to the good or ill opinion of those who could compel
her to respect them. She became very anxious to know what Morton
thought of her.

"You say that you do not understand me thoroughly. What is there in me
that you do not understand?"

"You may say that I do not understand you at all."

"That is mere evasion."

"Who can understand the language of Babel?"

"Do you mean that I speak the language of Babel?"

"Who can understand chaos?"

"And am I chaos? You are beginning your peculiar style of compliment
again."

"Do not be displeased at it. All the power and beauty of the universe
rose out of chaos."

"Now you are flattering in earnest."

"You are difficult to satisfy. What may I call you? A wild Arab racer
without a rider?"

"That will answer better."

"Or a rocket without a stick?"

"I have seen rockets; but I do not know what the stick is. What is it?
What is it for?"

"To give balance and aim to the rocket--make it, as the
transcendentalists say, mount skyward, and end in stars and 'golden
rain.'"

"Very fine! And how if it has no stick?"

"Then it sparkles, and blazes, and hisses on the ground; flies up and
down, this way and that, plays the deuse with every thing and every
body, and at last blows itself up to no purpose."

"Ah, I see that the stick is very necessary. I will try to get one."

"You speak in a bantering tone," said Morton, "but you are in
earnest."

"I am in earnest!" exclaimed Fanny Euston, with a sudden change of
voice and manner. "Every word that you have spoken is true. I am
driven hither and thither by feelings and impulses,--some bad, some
good,--chasing every new fancy like so many butterflies or
will-o'-the-wisps,--without thinking of
results--restless--dissatisfied--finding no life but in the excitement
of the moment. Sometimes I have hints of better things. Glimpses of
light break in upon me; but they come, and they go again. I have no
rule of life, no guiding star."

Morton looked at his companion not without a certain sense of victory.
He saw that he had gained, for the moment at least, an influence over
her, and roused her to the expression of feelings to which, perhaps,
she had never given utterance before. Yet his own mind was any thing
but tranquil. Something more than admiration was stirring within him.
He felt impelled to explore farther the proud spirit which had already
yielded up to him some of its secrets. But he felt that, with her eyes
upon him, he could not speak without committing himself farther than
he was prepared to do. In this dilemma he determined to retreat--a
resolution for which he was entitled to no little credit, if its merit
is to be measured by the effort it cost him. He rose from his seat.

"Find your star, Fanny, and you may challenge the world. But I see
people coming down the garden towards us. We shall be invaded if we
stay here. Let us walk back towards the house."

When he found himself alone again, he paced his room in no very
enviable frame of mind.

"What devil impelled me to speak as I did? It was no part of mine to
be telling her of her faults. Am I turning philanthropist and
busybody? If I wished to gain her heart, I suspect I have been taking
the right course. What with any other lady would have been intolerable
presumption and arrogance, is the most effectual way to win her
esteem. And why should I not wish to gain her heart? There is good
there in abundance, if one could but depend on it. No; I am not
blinded yet. This last outburst was a momentary impulse, like all the
rest; and to-morrow she will be reckless as ever. She delights in
lawlessness, and rejoices in the zest of breaking established bounds.
Her wayward will is like a cataract, and may carry her, God knows
whither. No; I will not walk in this path; I will not try to marry
her. Her heart is untouched--that is clear as the day. I wish she
could say as much of mine. I will leave this place to-morrow, cost
what it will."

A letter from Boston gave him a pretext; and bidding farewell to his
cousin and her mother, he took the early train homewards. The newsboy
brought him a paper, and his eyes rested on the columns; but his
thoughts centred on Fanny Euston and his last evening's conversation
with her at the foot of the garden.



CHAPTER XIV.

  * * * One fire burns out another's burning,
    One pain is lessened by another's anguish;
  Turn giddy, and be holp by backward turning;
    One desperate grief cures with another's languish.
  Take thou some new infection to thine eye,
  And the rank poison of the old will die.--_Romeo and Juliet_.


All day the train whirled along, and Morton's troubled thoughts found
no rest.

"Matherton!" cried the conductor, opening the door of the car, as the
engine stopped in a large station house, at five o'clock in the
afternoon. Several passengers got out; two or three came in; the bell
rang, and with puffing and clanking, the train was on its way again. A
newsboy passed down the car with a bundle of newspapers and twopenny
novels. Morton bought one of the latter as an anodyne; but even
"Orlando Melville, or the Victim of the Press Gang," failed to produce
the desired soporific effect, and his thoughts soon recurred to their
former channel. Suddenly a violent concussion, a crashing, thumping,
and grating sound, the outcries of a hundred passengers,--the women
screaming, and some of the men not silent,--with a furious rocking and
tossing of the car, ejected every thought but one of his personal
safety. All sprang to their feet, he among the rest. The first
distinct impression which his mind received was that of the man in
front of him making a flying leap out of the open window of the car,
carrying the sash with him--a dexterous piece of gymnastics, only to
be accounted for by the fact that the performer was a distinguished
artist of the Grand National Olympic Circus. His boots twinkled at the
window, and he was gone, alighting on his feet like a cat, but Morton
was too much frightened to laugh. In a few moments the car came to a
rest, without being overturned, though the front was partly broken in,
and the whole swung off the rails to an angle of forty-five degrees.
On looking out at the window, the first object that met Morton's eye
was the baggage car, thrown on its side, with the door uppermost. As
he looked, the door opened, and a head emerged--like a triton from the
deep, or Banquo's ghost from a trap door--white with wrath and fright,
and swearing with wonderful volubility. Then appeared another, rising
by the side of the first, equally pallid, but much less profane. The
heads belonged to two men, who had been seated in the compartment of
the baggage car allotted to the mails, and when it was flung off the
track, had been rattled together like dice in a box, suffering various
bruises, but no serious harm. The breaking of the defective cast iron
axle of the tender had caused the whole disaster, which would
doubtless have produced fatal consequences had not the train been
moving at a very slow rate. As it happened, a few contusions were its
worst results, and one of the morning papers,

                "for profound
  And solid lying much renowned,"

solemnly averred that none but Providence was responsible for it.

There was abundant noise and vociferation. The passengers left the
train, some lending their bungling aid to repair the mischief, while
others withdrew to an inn which chanced to be in the neighborhood.
After looking for a time at the downfallen tender and the uprooted
rails, Morton, from some idle impulse, entered the car which he had
lately left. It was empty; and, passing through it, he looked into
that immediately behind, which had remained safely upon the rails.
This also was empty, with the exception of a single person, a young
female figure, seated at one of the windows. She was closely veiled,
yet there was in her air that indefinable something which told Morton
at a glance that she was a lady. He stepped to the ground,
conjecturing whether or no she had a companion.

Five minutes after, glancing at the window, he saw the solitary
traveller seated in the same position as before, and became convinced
that she was unattended. The women in the train had left it at the
outset. The busy and clamorous throng of men alone remained; and
Morton easily conceived that her situation must be an embarrassing
one. He therefore reëntered the car and approached her.

"I am afraid we shall be detained here for two or three hours, and
perhaps till late at night. There is a public house a little way off,
to which the ladies in the train have gone. If you will allow me, I
will show you the way."

So he spoke; or, rather, so he would have spoken; but he had scarcely
begun when the veiled head was joyfully raised, and the veil was
thrown aside, disclosing to his astonished eyes the features of Edith
Leslie. She explained that she was on her way from her father's
country seat at Matherton; and that he was to meet her at the station
on the arrival of the train. When the accident took place, she had
been led to suppose, from the conversation of two men near her, that
the train would not be very long detained, and had preferred remaining
in the car to mingling with the tumultuous throng outside.

"It is too fine an afternoon," said Morton, as they left the spot, "to
be mured in that tavern. This lane has an inviting look. Have you a
mind to explore it?"

They walked accordingly in the direction he proposed; and, as they did
so, Morton cast many a stolen glance at the face of his companion. The
mind of the young philosopher was that day in a peculiarly susceptible
state. It seemed as if Fanny Euston had kindled within him a flame
which could not fix itself upon her, yet must needs find fuel
somewhere; and as his eye met that of Edith Leslie, he began to feel
that she held a deeper place in his thoughts than he had ever before
suspected.

By the side of the lane stood an ancient abode, whose rotten shingles
supported a rich crop of green mosses; and in the yard an old man, who
looked like a relic of Bunker Hill fight, was diligently chopping
firewood.

"What does this lane lead to?" asked Morton, looking over the fence.

The woodchopper leaned on his axe, wiped his brows with the tatters of
a red handkerchief, and seemed revolving the expediency of
communicating the desired information.

"Well," he returned, after mature reflection, "if you go fur enough,
it'll take you down to the Diamond Pool."

"The Diamond Pool," said Miss Leslie; "that has a promising sound."

The lane soon began to lead them down the side of a rugged hill,
between barberry bushes and stunted savins, with neglected stone
walls, where the striped ground squirrels chirruped as they dodged
into the crevices. In a few moments they had a glimpse of the water,
shining between the branches of the trees below.

"Upon my word," said Morton, as they stood on the margin, "the Diamond
Pool is not to be despised. We have chosen our walk well, and found a
tempting place of rest at the end of it."

"A grassy bank,--a clear spring, with cardinal flowers along the
edge--a cluster of maple trees----"

"And a flat rock at the foot of one of them, for you to rest upon. We
are well provided for."

"Except that a seat for you seems to have been forgotten."

"No, if I wish to rest, this mound of grass will serve my turn. I am
used to bivouacs."

The sun had just vanished behind the rocky hill on the farther side of
the water; a sea of liquid fire, clouds blazoned in gold and crimson,
betokened his recent presence. The lake lay like a great mirror framed
in green. Another sunset glowed in its depths; rocks, hills, and trees
grew downward; and the kingfisher, as he flitted over it, made a dash
at the surface, as if to peck at the adversary bird, which seemed
shooting upward to meet him.

"One might imagine," said Miss Leslie, "that we were a hundred miles
away from railroads, factories, and all abominations of the kind."

"They will follow soon," said Morton; "they are not far off. There is
no sanctuary from American enterprise."

"I know it is omnipotent at spoiling a landscape; but I hope that this
one may escape,--at least if there is no mill privilege in the
neighborhood."

"There is--an excellent one--at the outlet of the pond, beyond the
three elms yonder. I prophesy that in five years there will be a brick
factory on that meadow, with a row of one story houses for the
operatives."

"It will be a scandal and a profanation. It is too beautiful for such
base uses. But at least that old cedar tree, rooted in a cleft of the
precipice, has found a safe sanctuary. There it was growing in King
Philip's time; in its younger days it saw Indian wigwams standing on
this bank; and there its offspring will grow after it, safe from
Yankee axes."

"One cannot be sure of that. A time will come yet, when those rocks
will be blasted to build a town hall, or open another railroad track."

"But they cannot build railroads and factories in the clouds. Our New
England sunsets will still remain to remind one that there is an ideal
side of life--something in it besides locomotives and cotton gins."

"There it is that you are wiser than we are. You are mistresses of a
domain of which men, for the most part, know little or nothing."

"Pray what domain may that be?"

"One that is all mystery to me--a world of thoughts and sentiments
which to most men is a cloudland, an undiscovered country, of which
they may possibly recognize the existence, but of whose geography they
know nothing."

"Why should they be more ignorant of it than women?"

"Because they are commonly given over to practicalities, mixed
hopelessly with rivalries and ambitions. Even in their highest
pursuits, they propose to themselves some definite point to be gained,
some object to be achieved; but women are left to the world of their
own minds--there they can expatiate at will."

"That is a dangerous privilege."

"They have leisure to muse on the joys and troubles of life, and
explore depths which we bridge over."

"Either your mind has very much changed, or I have very much mistaken
it. Pardon me, but I fancied that you were like Iago, 'nothing if not
critical;' or at least that you sympathized with his slanderous
opinions of womankind."

"Heaven forbid! What treasonable thought did you suppose me to harbor
against the better part of humanity?"

"At all events, I never supposed you to believe that the better part
of humanity passed their leisure time in metaphysical reveries and
abstruse meditations."

"You were speaking, just now, of ideals. May not I have mine?"

"So your ideal woman is a transcendental philosopher, seated in the
midst of your undiscovered cloudland."

"Deliver me from such a one! My ideal is full of thought and of
feeling; but no one yet ever dreamed of branding her as a philosopher.
But why did you think me so very critical? I am hardly old enough yet
to make an Iago or a Rochefoucault."

"And yet you used always to have some saying of Rochefoucault at your
tongue's end."

"I detest him, nevertheless, for a French Mephistopheles,--and all his
tribe with him."

"When I said as much, you always told me that his sayings had a great
deal of truth in them."

"And have they not a great deal of truth?"

"I cannot pretend to know mankind well enough to answer; but I
sincerely hope, not much. Life would be worse than a blank if men and
women were what he represents them to be."

"I think not; for if one cannot learn to be enthusiastic in regard to
the actualities of human nature, he can console himself by a boundless
faith in its possibilities. And now and then, thank
God,--Rochefoucault to the contrary notwithstanding,--one finds the
possibility realized."

His companion made no reply; and Morton stood for a moment with his
eyes bent upon her face, which, to his enamoured fancy, seemed to
reflect the calm beauty of the landscape on which she was gazing. He
thought of Fanny Euston; he recalled his last evening's conversation
with her, and felt blindly impelled to give some form of expression to
the feeling which began to master him.

"Miss Leslie, were you ever in a storm at sea?"

"Yes, in a slight one; but the ship was strong; there was very little
danger."

"Then you were never flung about, as I have been, in an indifferent
egg shell of a craft, out of sight of land, at the mercy of winds and
waves."

"I did not know that you had been at sea. Ah, yes, you were at school
in France, when you were a boy--were you not?"

"Yes; but this happened since I have become a man, and not long ago. I
think I shall never forget it. The sun was bright at one moment, and
all was black as a hurricane the next. The wind came from every point
of the compass--always shifting, never resting. I had not an instant's
peace. It was all watching--all anxiety--and yet there was a kind of
pleasure in it. If I had had wings, I doubt if I should have found
heart to use them. It was a strange gale. It blew hot and cold by
fits; I thought I should lose my reckoning altogether, and be blown
away, body and soul."

"Really, I cannot imagine where your tempest is going to carry you."

"Nor could I; when, of a sudden, I found myself safe on shore. My good
star led me to a place beautiful as the May sunshine could make it; a
scene where art and nature were blended so harmoniously, that they
seemed to have grown together from the same birth; full of repose, and
tranquil, graceful power; such a scene, in short, as made me wish that
Nature would embody herself in a visible form, that I might swear
homage to her forever."

Had an interpreter been needed, Morton's look and voice must have
betrayed, at least, some part of his meaning. The color deepened
slightly on his companion's cheek, but she replied, without any
further sign of consciousness,--

"I never knew that you were quite so ardent a votary of nature. You
had better put your emotions into verse, and sell them to the
magazines, after the true poetic custom. In a little time, I don't
doubt, Dr. Griswold would find a place for you in his constellation of
poets."

"Ah," said Morton, "it is cruel of you to fling cold water on my
rhapsodies. But my flight is over. And now I will try my best to gain
the esteem in your eyes of a man of sense and a sound mind."

"And now those night-hawks over head are beginning to tell us that we
had better go back to the railroad. I suppose you will place it among
the other frailties of women; but I cannot help being a little afraid
that if we stay longer, that crippled train will run away and leave us
behind."

"Then good night to the Diamond Pool," said Morton, as they left the
place. "I shall not forget it; I owe it double thanks. It has shown me
a pretty landscape, and made me a wiser man."

"I can hardly see how that may be."

"It has taught me not to speak too earnestly with my friend, lest she
should banter me; and by no means to be drawn into any absurdity, lest
she should laugh at me outright."

"Do you mean that you thought that I laughed at you?"

"Did you not?"

"If I gave you cause to think that I did, I can only say, frankly and
heartily, that I am very sorry for it."

"Now I am emboldened to be absurd again, and speak more parables. I
have found a locked-up treasure--a sealed fountain. I long to open it,
but cannot."

"Your figures are too deep for me. I can make nothing of them."

"Then I will sink to plain prose. I have a friend whose heart is full
of warm feeling and earnest thought; but, out of reserve, or Heaven
knows what, she will express it to nobody but one or two intimate
companions. She tantalizes the rest with a bantering word; and
sometimes, when she is most in earnest, she seems to be most in jest.
But why do you smile?"

"Ask your friend Mr. Sharpe. He is your friend--is he not?"

"I suppose so, though he is old enough to be my father. But why should
I ask him?"

"Because he once described to me a person very much like the one you
have just described."

"Who was the person?"

"Mr. Sharpe said that, though he was in general quite frank and
undisguised, yet, if he were particularly in earnest on any subject,
he was apt to speak lightly of it, or perhaps ridicule it, to hide his
real feeling."

"Pray, who was this person? What was his name?"

"Mr. Vassall Morton."

"Did Sharpe say that of me? It is not a month since I was walking with
him,--his evening constitutional,--and he said the very same thing of
you. Now, as I hope to live an honest man, I was never half so much
flattered in my life, as by being slandered in such company."

Here he was interrupted abruptly, for, turning a corner, they came
full upon the inn, or hotel, as its sign proclaimed it to be.
Discontented male passengers were lounging about the bar room;
disconsolate female passengers sat, in bonnets and shawls, in the
parlor; and an unspeakable air of uneasiness and discomfort pervaded
the whole place.

"Our walk is over," sighed Morton; "I wish it had a more propitious
ending. And now let me be your courier, or do your commands in any
other capacity in which I can serve you."

At eleven o'clock that night the train rolled into the station house
at Boston, some four hours behind its time.

"My father will certainly be here," said Miss Leslie; but her father
was nowhere to be seen. Morton conducted her to a carriage. Her trunks
and his own had already been placed upon it, when, by the lantern of
one of the porters, Morton descried the agitated colonel threading the
crowd in anxious search of his daughter. He had been waiting nervously
since seven o'clock, and, when the train came in, had looked for her
in every place but the right one. Morton hastened to relieve his
fears.

"What do you mean to do with yourself to-night?" Leslie asked, as the
carriage drove towards his house.

"Drive to my house in the country."

"Your people will not expect you, and will be in bed before you can
get there. You had much better come home with me."

Morton was but too glad to accept the invitation.

Having bade good night to his host and his host's daughter, he passed
some hours in dreamy cogitation; then tried to sleep; but sleep long
kept aloof, the consciousness of being under the same roof with Edith
Leslie brought with it so strange a sensation. But as delicate health,
that grand auxiliary of sentiment, was quite unknown to him, nature
prevailed in the end, and at seven the next morning, a servant's knock
wakened him from a deep sleep, a vision of Mount Katahdin, and an
imaginary moose hunt.



CHAPTER XV.

  Yet even these joys dire jealousy molests,
  And blackens each fair image in our breasts.--_Lyttleton_.


Descending to the breakfast room, he found Leslie, as usual, quiet,
cordial, and gentlemanly, beguiling the moments of expectancy with a
newspaper, while his daughter presided at the coffee urn. Leslie
happened to be in a garrulous mood, and talked incessantly about his
former military frontier life, of which, though he had detested it in
the experience, he was very fond in the retrospect. Morton, who had
some acquaintance with such matters, was a tempting auditor, though he
would gladly have exchanged the profuse anecdotes of white-wolf
running and deer shooting for a few moments' conversation with Miss
Edith Leslie. This her father's busy tongue put out of the question;
but Morton consoled himself with the thought that to bask in her
presence was, in itself, no mean privilege.

His cup of nectar, such as it was, was in a few minutes dashed with
gall; for the street door opened without a summons from the bell, a
man's step sounded in the hall, and Horace Vinal came in, with a
bundle of papers in his hand.

Vinal had become of late all-important to his former guardian. He was
his chief business agent, and Leslie was never tired of expatiating on
his talents, energy, application, and elevated character. In short, he
was fast becoming dependent on him, and felt towards him the affection
which a weak and kindly man may feel towards one of far greater force
and capacity, whom he believes sincerely attached to him and devoted
to his interests.

Vinal, as he entered, had the air of a man versed in affairs, and
acquainted both with that vast and various theatre which men call the
world, and with those conventional circles which ladies call the
world. He had been absent for a few days on a mission of business,
from which he had returned the evening before. Leslie received him
with a most warm greeting, and his daughter with a smile of easy
friendship, which was wormwood to the troubled spirit of Morton. The
two rivals--for such, by a common instinct, each felt the other to
be--regarded each other with faces of courtesy and hearts of wrath.

"How came this fellow here?" thought Vinal, as he smilingly grasped
his classmate's hand.

"The devil take him!" thought Morton, as he returned the greeting, but
with a much worse grace.

They seated themselves on opposite sides of the table, while the Helen
who had kindled this covert warfare in their breasts dispensed a cup
of coffee to each in turn.

There was a singular contrast between the adversaries. On the one
side, the self-dependent Vinal, with little health and no other wealth
than his busy and able brain; with thin features, wan cheek, and pale,
firm lip; with piercing observation and rapid judgment;
self-contained, self-controlled, self-confiding. But for his measuring
five feet ten, he might have stood for Dryden's Achitophel:--

  "A fiery soul, which, working out its way,
   Fretted the pygmy body to decay,
   And o'er informed the tenement of clay."

On the other side sat the pet of fortune, fondled, if he could have
endured such blandishment, in the very lap of affluence; with a cheek
brown with wind and weather, and an eye which, as he often boasted,
could look the sun in the face. His nature was so happily tempered,
that to the degree of nervous stimulus which engenders, or is
engendered by, an energetic character, he joined an indefinite
capacity both of endurance and enjoyment; and yet the possessor of all
these gifts was just now in a mood of extreme dissatisfaction and
discomfort.

Leslie began to speak with Vinal upon business. Morton snatched the
opportunity to converse with the person most interesting to him. Vinal
glanced at him askance. Each began to hate the other, after his own
fashion. Morton would gladly have come to open rupture, and flung
defiance at his rival; but Vinal was far remote from any wish of the
kind.

Morton remained at the house as long as he in decency could, and then
bade them good morning, execrating Vinal as he went down the steps.

That very afternoon, as he was walking near his cottage in the
country, ruminating on Edith Leslie and Horace Vinal, he raised his
head and saw a lady and gentleman, on horseback, emerging into view
from a wooded bend of the road. A thrill ran through him from head to
foot. They were the two persons of whom he was thinking. He bowed to
Miss Leslie. She replied with a frank bow and smile; and Vinal, as he
passed, made an easy nonchalant gesture of recognition. The jealous
pedestrian turned and looked after them. They had ridden a few rods
when Vinal also turned his head, but, catching Morton's eye, instantly
averted it again. Morton fairly ground his teeth with anger and
vexation. To be jealous was bad enough; but that Vinal should be
conscious of his jealousy, and perhaps triumph in it, goaded him
beyond endurance. He went home, saddled and bridled a horse with his
own hands, mounted, and ranged the country for an hour or two, to get
rid of the vulture that was preying on him. At length he grew more
rational, and was able to reflect that Vinal's riding with Miss Leslie
did not necessarily imply that he stood, in any special sense, within
her favor, since he was the near relative of her mother-in-law, and
had formerly been for years an inmate of her father's house.

On the next day, at a time when he thought that Vinal must be safe in
his office, Morton took heart of grace, and called on Miss Leslie. An
old woman, an ancient dependant of the family, raised, as she would
have phrased it, in the backwoods of Matherton, opened the door.

"Is Miss Leslie at home?"

"No; she was took sick yesterday, very sudden."

"Miss Leslie!" ejaculated the visitor.

"Yes; the doctor says she's goin' to die, sartin; right away, may be."

"What?" gasped Morton.

"It wasn't only this morning we heered on it," said the old Yankee
housekeeper, "and Miss Edith's gone up to Matherton, to tend on her."

"O, you mean Mrs. Leslie."

"Yes; Miss Leslie, Miss Edith's mother-in-law; she never was a well
woman, ever since I've knowed her."

And the old woman closed the door; while Morton walked away, without
knowing in what direction he was moving.



CHAPTER XVI.

_Sganarelle_. O, la grande fatigue quo d'avoir une femme, et
qu'Aristote a bien raison quand il dit qu'une femme est pire qu'un
démon!--_Le Médecin Malgré Lui_.

  Thus day by day and month by month we past;
  It pleased the Lord to take my spouse at last--_Pope_.


It was nine years since, in an evil hour, Leslie had first seen Miss
Cynthia Everille, playing on a harp, and accompanying herself in a
thin, sweet voice, with words of her own composing. His weak heart
succumbed: he fell in love off hand; and within a year after the death
of his first wife, Edith's mother, her picture was taken from the
wall, and a second Mrs. Leslie reigned in her stead.

"Sweet,"--"charming,"--"fascinating,"--were the least of the
adjectives lavished on the interesting bride. Some of his lady
acquaintance felicitated him that he had espoused an angel, an
embodied beatitude not more than half pertaining to this world. In
fact, there was a certain aerial grace in her movements, a certain
translucency in her small alabaster features, which might countenance
such a notion. The winning smile, too, with which she met her visitors
on her reception Thursdays, savored wholly of the angelic. She
breathed courtesies around her as the beneficent royalty of Naples
scatters sugar plums among his loving subjects at the carnival, and,
on the next day, sends them to prison by the cart load.

The tyranny of the strong is bad enough; but the tyranny of the weak
is intolerable; and this latter visitation came upon Leslie in its
most rueful form--that, namely, whose weapons are sobs, sighs, vapors,
and the dire coercion of hysteric fits. He was a soft-hearted fool,
and a fair subject for such oppression. Not that his newly-installed
mistress--his mistress, since she made him her slave--was naturally of
an ill temper. On the contrary, she was somewhat amiable, or, at
least, much given to tears and tenderness; but in process of time,
this profuse sensibility had all centred on herself. In short, she was
profoundly selfish, though nothing could have astonished her more than
to tell her so; for, in her own eyes, she seemed a miracle of
sensibility, as indeed she was, though her sensibility had learned to
give little response to any woes but her own. What these woes might be
would be hard to say: she had a wonderful talent for finding and
inventing grievances. She was submerged and drowned in a sentimental
melancholy, which wore in turn ten thousand different aspects, each
worse than the other. She was a sea-anemone, covered with a myriad of
filaments, all more shrinking and sensitive than a snail's horns.

One reads of famished wretches who have tried to nourish life from the
current of their own veins. So, in a figurative sense, did she. She
was always anatomizing her own ridiculous heart; groping among the
depths of her own sickly fancies, and making them her daily food. She
was a busy gatherer of tokens, souvenirs, and mementoes, and was beset
with blighted hopes, vain longings, sad remembrances, and all the
spectral ills engendered between a frail mind and a depraved stomach.
She was a great reader, and floated rudderless through a sea of books,
fishing out of it all that was tender, morbid, and despairing, and
stowing it up in albums.

It may be thought that some disconsolate memory, some affection nipped
in the bud, or the like catastrophe, had brought her to this pass. Far
from it. She mourned that her fate had been too flat and sterile; that
the rapturous emotions of her heart had never been awakened; that no
sentimental passion, in short, had ever stirred her soul from its
depths. This was the grievance which rankled most in her reveries. To
give her her due, she never told it to her husband; but she brooded
upon it in secret; and the result was, a multitude of affecting
verses, which she treasured in her album as anonymous.

Leslie, though none of the wisest of men, was one of the most amiable;
and, under his wife's discipline, he learned to be one of the most
discreet. It behooved him to be watchful and circumspect. His married
life was a voyage through shoals and shallows, and needed sagacious
pilotage; for no common eye could see where the danger lay. There was
an endless variety of subjects tabooed to him; matters to all
appearance quite indifferent, but to which he must never allude,
because, Heaven knows how, they touched some trembling susceptibility,
or wakened some grievous memory from its blessed sleep. The penalty,
if the case were mild, would be a deep-drawn sigh; if more aggravated,
a flood of tears; if extreme, an hysteric fit. And if, in his efforts
to console her, he ventured to add any thing in the form of
remonstrance, or let fall any word which might intimate that her
conduct was not quite reasonable, the outraged sufferer would cease
weeping, cast up her eyes reproachfully, and murmuring, "O William, is
it come to this?" relapse again instantly into the depths of sobbing
affliction. It was only by the most abject submission, coupled with
all the resources of conjugal eloquence, that Leslie could succeed at
length in purchasing a look of resignation and a faint smile of
forgiveness.

Use, it is said, will blunt the sharpest of troubles. In time, he
became acclimated to his fate; yet, on one or two occasions, his
equanimity was quite overset. He thought that his wife was losing her
wits; for, as he came into her room, she fixed on him a melting gaze,
sank on his shoulder, and flooded him with such a freshet of tears,
that he might have complained with De Bracy, that a water fiend
possessed her. The truth was, she had just been musing on her own
dissolution, and imagining, in a luxury of woe, her own funeral, with
all the circumstance of that sad event. As she looked around and
bethought her how desolate that chamber would be when she was gone,
and how each trifle that had once been hers would be treasured by
those she left behind, her sensitive heart had dissolved in
tenderness, and produced the hydraulic demonstration just mentioned.

This libel on womankind became the mother of a pair of twins--the same
infant prodigies whom Morton had seen at the White Mountains. Both
perished at the age of seven, their precocious brains having by that
time usurped all the vitality of their miserable little bodies. She
was inconsolable at their death, though, while they lived, her
delicate nerves could seldom abide their presence for five minutes at
a time.

There was once an idiot, who, being of a conciliating temper, thought
to appease a fire and persuade it to go out by feeding it with fuel
till it should be satisfied, and crave no more. On the same principle
Leslie tried to satisfy the exacting spirit of his wife by a most
watchful and anxious devotion to all her whims; but the greater his
devotion, the more exacting she grew. She felt her power, and used it
without mercy. She was, withal, intolerably jealous, not so much of
any living rival, as of the memory of a dead one, Leslie's former
wife. Here, indeed, she had some show of reason; for the poles are not
wider asunder than were the characters of herself and her predecessor.

Those who had known the latter in her maidenhood--she married young,
or perhaps she would never have married Leslie--knew her as the
dominant belle of the season, conspicuous for her beauty, her
position, and for a degree of culture rare in America at that time;
devoted and ardent towards a few close friends, haughty and distant
towards the many; greatly loved by her few intimates, and either
greatly admired or greatly disliked by most others around her. Those
who knew her in the last years of her life knew her as one who had
passed through a fiery ordeal. Of her many children, only one was
left. They had fallen around her in a sudden and sharp succession,
till it seemed to her that a destroying doom had gone forth against
her race, and that the world of her affections was turned to a field
of carnage. Leslie felt the shock acutely, not to say intensely, for a
while; but the storm passed, and left on him very little trace. It
sank into the deeper nature of his wife with such a penetrating sense
of the vanity of life and the rottenness of mortal hope, as, in the
olden time, drew saints and anchorites to renounce the world and give
themselves to penance and seclusion. It made no anchorite of her. She
rose from her baptism of fire saddened, but not broken nor unstrung;
with a rooted faith and an absolute resignation; a nice perception of
all human suffering; sympathies broad and embracing as the air; a
benevolence pervading as the sunshine; and a spirit so calm in its
elevation that no wind of calamity had power to ruffle it.

Edith Leslie was a child when her mother died, yet old enough to feel
the loss profoundly, and to be greatly shocked and cast down at the
alacrity with which her father contrived to forget it. Having reduced
Leslie to obedience, his bride essayed the same experiment on his
daughter, but failed notably. There was something in the nature of the
latter which revolted so impatiently against the selfish caprices and
morbid fooleries which were played off hourly before her,--she was so
indignant, moreover, at seeing her father sunk inch by inch in the
slough of matrimonial thraldom,--that the issue might easily have been
a protracted household feud. None but herself could know with how
costly an effort she schooled herself to patience. With a caustic wit,
and a fervent fancy which haunted her with images of an ideal life
brighter than the work-day world around her, a nature with impulses
which, less curbed and tempered, might have carried her through all
the mazes of morbid rebellion, she still bent herself to accept her
lot as she found it, in the full faith that flowers may be taught to
grow on the flintiest soil. And now that the imagined maladies of a
lifetime were turned at last into a mortal reality, and her
step-mother lay on her death bed, Edith Leslie watched by her side
with as much care as if this wretched piece of perverted sensibility
had deserved her affection and esteem.



CHAPTER XVII.

  Beshrew me, but I love her heartily,
  For she is wise, if I can judge of her;
  And fair she is, if that mine eyes be true;
  And true she is, as she hath proved herself;
  And therefore, like herself, wise, fair, and true,
  Shall she be placed in my constant soul.--_Merchant of Venice_.


A week after he had heard the tidings from the old housekeeper, Morton
saw Dr. Steele coming out of a patient's door and getting into his
chaise.

"Good morning, Dr. Steele."

"Sir, your servant," said the old-fashioned doctor.

"I'm sorry to hear that Mrs. Leslie is so ill."

"It's very sad," said the doctor. "Now, what the deuse is this young
fellow stopping me for?"--this was his internal comment.

"I hope you don't despair of her."

"Well, sir, she will hold out to-morrow, and the next day, too."

"I beg your pardon. Your check rein is loose. Let me make it right."

"Thank you, Mr. Morton," said the doctor, somewhat mollified.

"Ahem!--Colonel Leslie is well, I hope."

"Apparently so, sir."

"And--ahem!--his family, too."

"I wasn't aware he had a family."

"I mean--that is to say--his daughter--Miss Leslie."

The shrewd doctor turned his gray eyes sideways on the querist.

"Ah, his daughter. What did you wish to know of her, sir?"

"Merely to inquire----" said Morton, stammering and blushing visibly.
"I mean only to ask if she is well."

"I know nothing to the contrary. She seemed very well when I brought
her down from Matherton last evening. I dare say, though, she can tell
you herself a great deal better than I can. Good morning, Mr. Morton."

And with a slight twinkle in his eye, Dr. Steele drove off.

Morton looked after the chaise, as it lumbered down the street.

"May I be hanged and quartered if I ever question you again; you are
too sharp, by half."

The doctor's information was very welcome, however; and, armed with an
anxious inquiry after her mother's health, Morton proceeded to call
upon Miss Leslie. She had come to the city, as he had already judged,
on some mission connected with the wants of the invalid, and was to go
back to Matherton, with Dr. Steele, in the afternoon.

Thenceforward, for a week or upwards, he saw her no more; but, during
the interval, he contrived, by various expedients, to keep himself
advised of the condition and movements of the family at Matherton.
Among other incidents, he became aware of two visits made them by
Vinal, and was tormented, in consequence, with an unutterable
jealousy. One morning he met the purblind old housekeeper, mousing
along in spectacles through the crowded street, and, stopping her, to
her great alarm and perplexity, he made his usual inquiry concerning
Mrs. Leslie's health. This investigation led to the discovery that
Miss Edith was coming from Matherton that very afternoon.

Morton, upon this, grew so restless, that he could not refrain from
going to the railroad station, a little before the train was to come
in. And here his worst fear was realized; for he beheld, slowly pacing
along the platform, the hated form of Horace Vinal. Morton retreated
unseen, went into a neighboring hotel, and seated himself, a little
withdrawn from a window, where he could see all that passed. The train
arrived; and soon after Vinal appeared, conducting Miss Leslie to a
carriage, with an air, as Morton thought, of the most anxious
devotion. He grasped his walking stick, and burned with a feverish
longing to break it across his rival's back.

He saw Miss Leslie on the next day, and thus added fuel to a flame
which already burned high enough. In short, he found himself in that
most profoundly serious and profoundly ridiculous of all conditions,
the condition of being over head and ears in love,--and his zeal for
science was merged utterly in a more engrossing devotion. By one means
or another, he contrived to keep pace with the course of things at
Matherton, and learned from day to day that Mrs. Leslie was
worse,--that she seemed to revive a little,--that she was on the point
of death,--that she was dead. By the time this sad climax was reached,
he had been starving a fortnight from the sight of his mistress,
having the consolation to know that meantime his rival had made at
least four visits to Matherton.

One morning Morton was pacing the street in an abstracted mood, his
looks bent on the bricks, when, chancing to look up, he saw those very
eyes which his fancy had been that moment picturing, employed in
guiding their owner's steps over a crossing towards him. As Edith
Leslie stepped upon the sidewalk, she saw him for the first time. He
bowed, joined her, spoke a few bungling words of condolence, and
walked on at her side. After the fashion of those who are peculiarly
anxious to appear at their best advantage, he appeared at his worst.
And when his companion bade him good morning on the steps of her
father's house, she left him in a most unenviable mood, muttering
maledictions against himself and his fate, and brought, indeed, to the
borders of despair. This depression, however, was not long in
producing its reaction, under the influence of which, adopting his
usual panacea against mental ailments, he mounted his horse, and
spurred into the country.

Here, about sunset, he beheld a horseman, slowly pacing along the road
in front. On this, he drew rein, and began to look about him for the
means of escape; for in the person of the rider he recognized his
classmate Wren, to whose society he was far from partial. Neither lane
nor by-road was to be seen.

"At the worst," he thought, "it is but a mile or two;" and, setting
forward at a trot again, he was in a moment at his classmate's side.

"How are you, Wren?"

"Ah, Morton, good evening," exclaimed Wren, with a graceful wave of
his hand. "I'm delighted to see you. A charming evening--isn't it?"

"Charming."

"That's a fine horse you have."

"Tolerably good."

"Did you ever observe this fellow that I'm riding? Do you see how long
and straight he is in the back? Well, that's the Arab blood that's in
him. His grandfather was a superb Arab, that the Pacha of Egypt gave
my uncle when he was travelling there;" and he proceeded to dilate at
large on the merits and pedigree of his horse, the truth being that he
and his ancestry before him had been born and bred in the State of
Vermont. Morton listened with civil incredulity, and wished his
companion at the antipodes.

"Ah, there's my cousin's house," exclaimed Wren, pointing to a very
pretty cottage and grounds which they were approaching--"Mary Holyoke,
you know--Mary Everard that was some three months ago. What a
delightful retreat for the honeymoon!"

"Very," said Morton.

"Stop there with me, will you? I'm going in for a few minutes, to wish
them a pleasant journey. They are going to Niagara to-morrow."

"Thank you, I believe I won't stop."

"As you please, my dear fellow. I think they are quite right to travel
now; it's a better season than the spring; and a honeymoon journey,
after all, isn't _all_ romance, you know. Besides, they are going to
have a charming companion--Miss Leslie."

"I thought that she had just lost her mother-in-law."

"That's the very thing. She's almost ill with watching night after
night; so Mary,--they used to be friends at school,--has been very
anxious that she should make the journey with them, for a change of
scene, you know,--and Colonel Leslie has persuaded her to go."

"When will they leave town?"

"To-morrow. They mean to spend a few days at Trenton, and then go to
the Falls. But here we are; won't you change your mind, and come in?"

"No, thank you. Good night."

"Good evening, then;" and waving his hand again, Wren trotted up the
avenue.

"Virtue never goes unrewarded," thought Morton; "if I hadn't joined
the fellow, I might not have known about this journey."

On the next day he discovered that they had actually gone, and that,
as Wren had said, Niagara was to be the ultimatum of their tour. On
the following morning, he himself took the western train, and made all
speed for the Falls.



CHAPTER XVIII.

  If folly grows romantic, I must paint it.--_Pope_.


On the American side of the Niagara, a few miles below the Falls, is a
deep chasm, bearing the inauspicious christening of the Devil's Hole.
Near it there is--or perhaps was, for things have changed
thereabouts--a path winding far down among rocks and forests, till it
leads to the brink of the river. Here, darkened by the beetling cliffs
and sombre forests, the Niagara surges on its way, like a compressed
ocean, raging to break free. At the verge of this watery convulsion
stood Holyoke and his wife, Miss Leslie, and Morton, whom they had
chanced to meet that morning.

"It is very fine, no doubt," said the good-natured, though very
shallow Mrs. Holyoke, "but I have no mind to take cold in these dark
woods. If we stay much longer, I believe I shall go mad, looking at
that rushing, foaming water, and throw myself in. Come, Harry, let us
go back to daylight again."

"Just as you please," said the model husband, offering his arm.

"Come, Edith;--why, she really seems to like it;--Edith!--she don't
hear me; no wonder, in all this noise;--Edith, we are going back to
the upper world. You can stay here, if you please, with Mr. Morton."

But Miss Leslie chose to follow her friend; while Morton aided her up
the rough path.

"I have observed," he said, as they came to smoother ground, "in our
excursions yesterday and to-day, that Mrs. Holyoke has not much of
your liking for rocks, trees, and water. I mean, that she has no great
taste for nature."

"At all events, she has an eye for what is picturesque in it. She is
an artist, you know, and paints in water colors extremely well."

"Yes, and whenever she sees a landscape, she thinks only how it would
look on paper or canvas, and judges it accordingly. That is not a
genuine love of nature. One does not value a friend for good looks, or
dress, or air; and so, in the same way, is not a true fondness for
nature independent, to some extent at least, of effects of form, or
color, or grouping?"

"It does not imply, I think, any artistic talent, or even a good eye
for artistic effect. And yet I cannot conceive of a great landscape
artist being without it, any more than a great poet."

"If he were, he would be no better than a refined scene painter. We
are in a commercial country; so pardon me if I use commercial
language. This liking for nature is a capital investment. She is
always a kind mistress, a good friend, always ready with a
tranquillizing word, never inconstant, never out of humor, never sad."

"And yet sometimes she can speak sadly, too."

Edith Leslie said no more; but there came before her the remembrance
of her long watchings in the room of the dying Mrs. Leslie, when,
seated by the window, open in the hot summer nights, she had listened,
hour after hour, mournfully, drearily, almost with superstitious awe,
to the chirping of the crickets, the plaintive cry of the
whippoorwill, and now and then the hooting of a distant owl.

"Here in America," continued Morton, "we ought to make the most of
this feeling for nature; for we have very little else."

"And yet there is less of it here than in some other countries; in
England, for instance."

"We are too busy for such vanities. Besides, we are just now in an
unlucky position. A wilderness is one thing; savageness and solitude
have a character of their own; and so has a polished landscape with
associations of art, poetry, legend, and history."

"And we have destroyed the one, and have not yet found the other."

"And so, between two stools we fall to the ground."

"If you have a liking for a wilderness and primitive scenery, I don't
think that you have much reason to complain; for you, at least, have
contrived to see something of them."

"And you of the other sort; art and history wedded to nature; at
Tivoli, for example,--at the Lake of Albano; where else shall I say?"

"Say, at Giardini, in Sicily."

"Why at Giardini? I never heard of it before."

"Not that the view there is finer than in some other places, though
towards evening it is very beautiful. You see the ocean on one side,
and the mountains on the other, covered to the top with orange, lemon,
and olive trees, and Mount Etna rising above them all, with a spire of
white smoke curling out of its crater, tinted with red, yellow, and
purple, where the sunset strikes it. On the mountain above you there
is an ancient theatre, where a Greek audience once sat on the stone
benches, and after them, in their turn, a Roman. On the peak of the
mountain over it is a Saracen castle, and, not far off, a Norman
tower."

"So that the whole is an embodiment of poetry and history from the
days of the Odyssey downwards."

"Nobody, I think, who has seen that eastern shore of Sicily can have
escaped without some strong impression from it. The Fourrierites, you
know, pretend to believe that the earth is a living being, with a
soul, only a larger one, like ours that creep on the outside of it.
One is sometimes tempted to adopt their idea, and fancy that the
changing face of nature is the expression of the earth's thoughts, and
its way of communicating with us."

"A landscape will sometimes have a life and a language,--that is, when
one happens to be in the mood to hear it,--and yet, after all,
association is commonly the main source of its power. The Hudson, I
imagine, can match the Rhine in point of mere beauty; but a few ruined
castles, with the memories about them, turn the tables dead against
us."

"You have always--have you not?--had a penchant for the barbarism of
the middle ages."

"Not for their barbarism, but for the germs of civilization that lay
in the midst of it. Religion towards God, devotion towards
women--these were the vital ideas of the middle ages."

"But how were those ideas acted on? Their religion was not much better
than a mass of superstitions."

"Not more gross and vulgar than the spirit rapping superstition, the
last freak into which this age of reason has stumbled. And, for the
other idea, the fundamental idea of chivalry, we are beginning to
replace it with woman's rights, Heaven deliver us!"

"Pardon me if I doubt whether ladies in the middle ages were better
treated than they are now. The theory was admirable, no doubt, but the
practice, if there were any, seems at this distance a little
ridiculous."

"Chivalry was like Don Quixote, who stands for it--fantastic and
absurd enough on the outside, but noble at the core."

"But you would not imply seriously that you would prefer the age of
chivalry to this nineteenth century."

"No, the reign of shopkeepers is better than the reign of cutthroats.
But the nineteenth century has no right to abuse the middle ages. The
best feature of its civilization is handed down from them. That
feeling which found a place in the rough hearts of our northern
ancestry, half savages as they were, and gave to their favorite
goddess attributes more high and delicate than any with which the
Greeks and Romans, at the summit of their refinement, ever invested
their Venus; the feeling which afterwards grew into the sentiment of
chivalry, and, hand in hand with Christianity, has made our modern
civilization what it is,--that is the heritage we owe to the middle
ages, and for which we are bound to be grateful to them. It was a
flower all the fairer for springing in the midst of darkness and
barbarism; and now that we have it in a kinder soil, we can only hope
that it is not fast losing its fragrance and brightness."

"Of that, I imagine, a woman is a very poor judge; but if it has lost
its antique freshness, at all events we can enjoy it in peace and
tranquillity, and be spared the risk of life and limb in gathering it.
Those sweetbrier blossoms that grow yonder, down the side of the
precipice, are very pretty, but it would require nothing less than a
paladin, or a knight errant, made crazy with the hope of a smile, to
get them and bring them up."

"Now it is you that asperse the present, and I that will defend it."
And the words were hardly spoken before the young fool was over the
edge of the cliff, scarcely hearing his companion's startled cry of
remonstrance.

The rock sloped steeply to a few feet below the spot where the brier
grew, and then sank in a sheer precipice of a hundred feet or more, so
that if hand or foot had failed him, his career would have ended
somewhat abruptly. To the spectatress above the danger seemed
appalling; but, with the climber's practised eye and well-strung
sinews, it was in fact very slight. Once, indeed, a fragment of stone
loosened under his foot, and fell with a splintering crash upon the
rocks below, followed by a shower of pebbles and gravel, rattling
among the trees. But he soon reached his prize, secured it in his
hatband, and grasping the friendly root of a spruce tree, drew himself
up to the level top of the cliff.

Here he saw the fruit of his Quixotism. Edith Leslie, pale as death,
seemed on the very verge of fainting. He sprang in great consternation
to her aid, supported her to a rock near at hand, on which she could
rest; and as her momentary dizziness passed away, she began to
distinguish his eager words of apology and self-reproach.

"You will think that I have grown backward into a child again. Think
what you will; I deserve your worst thought; only do not believe that
I could fancy such paltry exploits and paltry risks could be a tribute
worthy of you; or that you are to be served with such boy's service as
that. Here are the flowers: throw them away, or keep them as a memento
of my absurdity; but let them remind you, at the same time, that
wherever your wish points, there I would go, if it were into the jaws
of fate."

Here, looking up, he saw the expediency of curtailing his eloquence;
for not far off appeared their two companions, returning to look for
them. Both Miss Leslie and he had much ado to explain, the one why her
face was so pale, the other why his dress was so dusty and disordered.
The carriage was waiting for them on the road near by; and their
morning's excursion being finished, they proceeded towards it, Morton
leading the way in silence.

His first feeling had been one of compunction and indignation at
himself; but close upon it followed another, very different--a sense
of mixed suspense and delight. What augury might he not draw from the
pale cheek and fainting form of his companion?



CHAPTER XIX.

  For, in the days of yore, the birds of parts
  Were bred to speak, and sing, and learn the liberal arts.
                                        _The Cock and the Fox_.

  Thine is the adventure, thine the victory;
  Well has thy fortune turned the dice for thee.
                                        _Palamon and Arcite_.


During the rest of the journey, Morton, on Mrs. Holyoke's invitation,
was one of the party. Again and again he was impelled to learn his
fate; but recoiled from casting the die, dreading that his hour was
not come. Still, though every day more helplessly spell-bound, his
mood was not despondent.

They came to the town of ----, a half day from home.

"My household gods are not far off," said Morton. "My father was born
at Steuben, a few miles below, where my grandfather used to preach
against King George, and stir up his parish to rebellion. I have
relations there still, and have a mind to spend to-morrow with them."

This announcement proceeded much less from family affection than from
another motive. Mrs. Holyoke saw it in an instant.

"Excellent! Then Miss Leslie can accept her friend's invitation to
make a day's visit at this place; and you will meet her and escort her
to Boston."

And Morton, much rejoiced at this successful issue of his diplomacy,
repaired to his relatives at Steuben; Holyoke and his wife proceeded
homeward; while Miss Leslie remained to accomplish the visit with her
country friend.

Morton spent a quiet day in the primitive New England village, a place
of which boyish association made him fond. On the next morning, Miss
Leslie was to come to Steuben, with her hostess; but as there was an
abundance of time before the train would appear, he strolled along a
quiet road leading back into the country. He soon came to an old inn,
over whose tottering porch King George's head might once have swung.
Nothing human was astir. The ancient lilacs flaunted before the door;
the tall sunflowers peered over the garden fence; the primeval
well-sweep slanted aloft, far above the mossy shingles of the roof.
The rural quiet of the place tempted him. He sat under the porch, and
watched the swallows sailing in and out of the great barn whose doors
stood wide open, on the opposite side of the road.

A voice broke the silence--a voice from the barn yard. It was the
voice of a hen mother, the announcement that an egg was born into the
world. Not the proud, exulting cackle which ordinarily proclaims that
auspicious event, but a repining, discontented cry, now rising in
vehement remonstrance with destiny, now sinking into a low cluck of
disgust. Morton, skilled in the language of birds, construed these
melancholy cacklings as follows:--

"Whither does all this tend? Why is my happiness blighted, my
aspirations repressed? Why am I forever penned up within these narrow
precincts, amid low domestic cares, and sordid, uncongenial,
unsympathizing associates? And thou, my white and spotless offspring,
what shall be thy fate? To be steeped in hot water, and eaten with a
spoon? Or art thou to be the germ of an existence wretched as my own,
doomed to a ceaseless round of daily parturition? O, weariness! O,
misery! O, despair!"

And throwing her ruffled feelings into one indignant cackle, the hen
was silent.

The advent of a human biped here enlivened the scene. This was a young
gentleman on horseback, a collegian to all appearance, admirably
mounted, but bestriding his horse with the look of one who has just
passed his first course under the riding master, and rides by the
book, as Touchstone quarrelled. This important personage, with an air
oddly compounded of assumption and timidity, proceeded to call the
hostler, and order oats for his horse, after which he strutted into
the house, switching his leg with his whip.

As ample time remained, Morton continued his walk along the road, his
mood in harmony with the brightness of the morning. He was in a humor
to please himself with trifles. A ground squirrel chirruped at him
from a crevice of the wall. He stood watching the small, shy visage,
as it looked out at him. Then a red squirrel, a much livelier
companion, uttered its trilling cry from a clump of hazel bushes.
Morton seated himself on a stone very near it. The squirrel resented
the intrusion, ran out on a fence rail towards the offender,
chattered, scolded, swelled himself like a miniature muff, made his
tail and his whole body vibrate with his wrath; then suddenly dodged
down behind the rail and peered over it at the trespasser, his nose
and one eye alone being visible; then bolted into full sight again,
and scolded as before, jerking himself from side to side in the
extremity of his petulance; till at last, without the smallest
apparent cause, he suddenly wheeled about and fled, bounding like the
wind along the top of the stone wall.

This interview over, Morton looked at his watch, saw that it was time
to go back towards the village, and began to retrace his steps
accordingly. He had gone but a few paces, when he saw a countryman, a
simple-looking fellow, running at top speed, and in great excitement,
up a byway, which led to the railroad, the latter crossing it by a
high bridge, at some distance from the station.

"What's the matter?" demanded Morton.

"The railroad cars!" gasped the countryman.

"What of them?"

"They'll all go to smash, and no mistake."

"What!" cried Morton, aghast.

"Fact, mister. Some born devil has been and sawed the bridge timbers
most through in the middle."

"What!" cried Morton again.

"Sure as I stand here! I seen the heaps of sawdust on the road. That's
the way I come to take notice. The minute the locomotive gets on the
bridge, down she'll go, and no two ways about it."

Morton had no doubt that the man was right. The newspapers, within the
last few weeks, had contained various accounts of impediments, great
and small, maliciously placed on railroads. It was a species of
villany which was just then having its run, as incendiarism will
sometimes have; and a like case of a bridge partly sawed through had
lately occurred in a neighboring state.

"You fool!" exclaimed Morton, in anguish and despair; "why didn't you
get on the track, and stop the train?"

"I'd like to see you stop the train!" retorted the man.

Morton turned to run for the road, bent on stopping the engine, or
letting it pass over him. But as he turned, a new arrival caught his
eye. This was the cavalier who had baited his horse at the inn, and
who, seeing the excited looks of the two men, had checked his pace,
and was looking at them with much curiosity.

Crazed with agitation, and hardly knowing what he did, Morton leaped
towards him, seized his horse, a powerful and high-mettled animal, by
the head, and, with a few broken words of explanation, called on him
to dismount. The astonished collegian did not comply. Morton bore back
fiercely on the bit; the horse plunged and snorted; the rider clutched
the pommel; Morton took him by the arm, drew him to the ground,
mounted at a bound after him, and, as he touched the saddle, struck
his whalebone walking stick with all his force over the horse's flank.
The horse leaped forward frantically, and rushed headlong down the
road. His discarded rider saw his hoofs twinkling for an instant out
of the cloud of dust, and thought he had had a Heaven-directed escape
from a madman.

The small village above Steuben, at which Miss Leslie and her friend
were to take the train, was three miles off. The road ran almost
directly towards it for more than three fourths of the way, when it
made a bend to the right. Morton, with his furious riding, very soon
reached this point. He could see the station house before him, on the
left, and not more than a third of a mile distant. The space between,
though uneven, had no visible impediments but a few low fences and
scattered clumps of bushes. Morton pushed through the barberry growth
that fringed the road, galloped over the hard pasture, leaped one
fence, passed a gap in another, and half way to his goal, found
himself and his horse in a quagmire. At this moment, straining his
eyes towards the cluster of houses, he saw, with agony at his heart, a
white puff of vapor rising above the trees beyond. Then the dark
outline of the train came into view, checking its way, and stopping,
half hidden behind the buildings.

Morton knew that it would stop only for a moment, and plied his horse
with merciless blows. The horse plunged through the mire,--the mud and
water spouting high above his rider's head,--gained the firm ground,
and bounded forward wild with fright and fury. It was too late. The
bell rang, and with quicker and quicker pants, the engine began to
move. Morton shouted,--gesticulated,--still it did not stop, though
the passengers seemed to take alarm, for a head was thrust from every
window, while the occupants of an open carriage drawn up on the road
were bending eagerly towards him.

Morton wheeled to the left, and urged his horse up the embankment in
front of the train. With a violent effort, he reached the top. The
engineer was running against time, and cared for nothing but winning
his match. He blew the steam whistle; and as Morton dragged on the
curb with desperate strength, the horse reared upright, pawing the
air. But, as he rose, Morton disengaged his feet, slid over the
crupper to the ground, and let go the rein. The horse leaped down the
bank, and scoured over the meadow, mad with terror. Morton took his
stand in the middle of the track, and facing the advancing train,
stood immovable as a post. The engineer reversed the engine, brought
it to a stand within a few yards of him, and, with a profusion of
oaths, demanded what he wanted.

Before the breathless Morton could well explain himself, the
passengers began to leap out of the cars, and running forward,
gathered about him. He soon found words to make the case known. But
one object alone engrossed him. He pushed on among the throng of
questioning, eager men, mounted the foremost car, and made his way
through it, the crowd pushing behind and around him, and plying him
with questions, to which, in the confusion and abstraction of his
faculties, he gave wild and random answers. He looked at every face.
Edith Leslie was not there. He crossed the platform into the next car,
passed through it, and still could not find her. It was the last in
the train. And now a strange feeling came over him, a bitterness, a
sense of disappointment, as if his efforts and his pangs had been
uncalled for and profitless; for so intensely had his thoughts been
concentred on one object, that he forgot for the moment the hundred
men and women whom he had saved from deadly jeopardy.

The train rolled back to the station, the distance being only a few
rods. Morton got out and leaned against the wall of the house. Men
thronged about him with questions, exclamations, thanks, praises. The
reaction of his violent emotion produced in him a frame of mind almost
childish. He was restless to free himself from the crowd.

"It's nothing; it's nothing," he answered, as fresh praises were
showered on him. "I saw the train going to the devil, and did what I
could to save it. Any of you, I dare say, would have done as much. Be
good enough to let me have a little air."

The crowd gave way, and he walked forward past the corner of the
building. Here, standing on the road, close at hand, he suddenly saw
an open carriage, and in it, pale as death, sat Miss Leslie, with her
friend, and a boy of twelve, her friend's brother. He sprang towards
it with an irrepressible impulse.

"My God! Miss Leslie, I thought you were in the train."

"And so we should have been," said the boy, "but the cars came in
three minutes before their time."

Edith Leslie did not utter a word.

Some of the passengers were soon about him again. He repeated to them
what he knew of the danger, and told them how he had learned it. In a
few minutes, several men were seen at a distance on the railroad,
running forward with a handkerchief tied to a stick to warn off the
train. A few minutes later, a Connecticut pedler, one of the
passengers, came up to Morton.

"Mister, they're going to do the handsome thing by you. They're
getting up a subscription to give you a piece of silver plate."

"The deuse they are!" was Morton's ungrateful response.

Going into the room where the passengers were met, he found that the
pedler had told the truth; on which, for the first and last time in
his life, he addressed an assemblage of his fellow-citizens. He told
them that he thanked them for their kind intention; but that if he had
done them a service, he wished for no other recompense than the
knowledge of it, and urged them, if they did any thing in the matter,
to devote their efforts to gaining the arrest and punishment of the
scoundrel who had attempted the mischief. His oratory was much
applauded; many, who had thought themselves in for the subscription,
joyfully buttoned their pockets, and, instead of the plate, he
received a series of complimentary resolutions, to be published in the
newspapers.

Meanwhile, having made his speech, he had lost no time in making his
escape also. Going back to the carriage, Miss Leslie's friend asked
him to accompany them home, whence they could return to take the
afternoon train, when the bridge would, no doubt, be repaired. Morton,
however, declined the invitation, and, having sent two men to catch
the horse, with instructions to refer the distressed owner to him, he
drove in a farmer's wagon to Steuben. In a few hours, he rejoined Miss
Leslie and her friend; and having escorted both safely to town, took
leave of the former, that evening, at the door of her father's house.

Several of the newspapers next morning contained the resolutions
passed by the passengers, trumpeting Morton's humanity, presence of
mind, &c. He himself very well knew that the praise was undeserved,
since he had neither thought nor cared for the objects of his supposed
humanity, and, far from acting with presence of mind, had scarcely
known what he was about.

The bridge had been cut by an Irish mechanic in the employ of the
road, who, for some misdemeanor, had been reprimanded and turned out,
and who had passed half the night in preparing his demoniac revenge.
It afterwards appeared that he had been a state's prison convict in a
neighboring state, and that he would have been still in confinement,
had not the officious zeal of certain benevolent persons availed to
set him loose before his time.



CHAPTER XX.

  For true it is, as _in principio,
  Mulier est hominis confusio;_
  Madam, the meaning of this Latin is,
  That woman is to man his sovereign bliss.

       *       *       *       *       *

  A woman's counsel brought us first to woe,
  And made her man his paradise forego.--
  These are the words of Chanticleer, not mine;
  I honor dames, and think their sex divine.--_Dryden_.


On the day after their return, Morton visited Miss Leslie to learn if
she had suffered from the fatigues and alarms of yesterday; and, in
truth, she had the pale face of one whose rest has been short and
broken.

"It has been my fate to terrify you," said the anxious Morton.

During his visit, the door bell was most obtrusively busy. Messages,
parcels, notes, cards, visitors came in, and expelled all hope of a
_tête à tête_.

Soon after he left the room, Leslie entered.

"Who gave you those flowers, Edith?"

"Mr. Morton, sir."

"Humph!" ejaculated Leslie, with a look by no means of gratification.

Meanwhile, Morton, walking the street in an abstracted mood, overtook
unawares his bachelor friend Mr. Benedick Sharpe, jurist, philosopher,
and man of letters--a personage whose ordinary discourse was a
singular imbroglio of irony and earnest.

"Why, Morton, what problem of ethnology are you at now? the unity of
the human race, and the descent from Adam--science versus
orthodoxy--is that it?"

"Nothing so deep."

"What, nothing ethnological?"

"Nothing at all."

"Ah, then I begin to tremble for you. There's but one thing else could
lose you in such a maze. The flame of a candle is very pretty; but the
moth that flies into it scorches his wings, poor devil."

"I am too dull to see through your metaphors."

"There's another blind divinity besides Justice. Beware the shoal of
matrimony! Many a good fellow has been wrecked there."

"Harping on your old string! You are a professed woman hater."

"Who, I? Now that is a scandalous libel. I admire them,--of course."

"And yet there's not a lady of your acquaintance whom I have not heard
you analyze, criticise, cavil at, and disparage."

"My dear fellow!"

"You have no conscience to deny it."

"I protest I have the greatest--ahem!--admiration for the ladies of
our acquaintance. We have an excellent assortment,--we have witty
women; brilliant women; women of taste and genius; exact and
fastidious women,--a full supply,--accomplished women; finished and
elegant women,--not too many, but still we have them; learned women;
gentle, amiable, tender women; sharp and caustic women; sensible and
practical women; domestic women,--all unimpeachable,--all good in
their kind."

"Then why is matrimony so dangerous?"

"No, no, not dangerous, exactly,--thanks to discreet nurture and
northern winters; not dangerous hereabouts as it was in the days of
the old satirists. A wise man may be safe enough here from any climax
of matrimonial evil; but there are minor mischiefs, daily
_désagrémens_."

"What, in spite of that catalogue of feminine virtues which you
delivered just now?"

"Vanity of vanities! Admirable in the abstract; excellent at a safe
distance; but to be tied to for life, bed and board, day light and
candle light,--that's another thing."

"Even the tender and amiable,--is there risk even there?"

"One cloys on perpetual sweetmeats."

"And the domestic women?"

"Who incarcerate themselves in their nurseries, and have no brains but
for their babies; who are frantic if the infant coughs, and are buried
and lost among cradles, porringers, go-carts, pills, and
prescriptions."

"The brilliant woman, then?"

"Brilliant at dinner tables and _soirées_; but, on the next day, your
Corinne is disconsolate with a headache. Her wit is for the
world,--her moods and mopings, caprices and lamentations,--those she
keeps for her husband."

"You are a cynic. The woman of taste and genius; where do you place
her?"

"What are the rude heart and brain of a man to such exalted
susceptibilities? What homage is too much for him to render? Be a bond
slave to the sweet enthusiast. Bow yourself before the delicate
shrine. Do your devoirs; she will not bate you a jot."

"But there are in the world women governed by reason."

"My dear Morton, are you demented? A woman always rational, always
sensible, always consistent; a logical woman; one who can distinguish
the relations of cause and effect, one who marches straight to her
purpose like a man,--who ever found such a woman; or, finding her, who
could endure such a one?"

"You fly into extremes; but women may be rational, as well as men."

"I like to see the organ of faith well developed,--yours is a miracle.
Granted, a rational woman; and with a liberal rendering of the word,
such, I admit, are now and then seen,--women always even, always
cheerful, never morbid, always industrious, always practical; busy
with good works,--charity, for example, or making puddings,--pious
daughters, model wives, pattern mothers----"

"At last you have found a creditable character."

"Very creditable; but far from interesting. The truth is, Morton, the
very uncertainty, the flitting gleams and shadows, the opalescent
light, the chameleon coloring of a woman's mind are what make her
fascination,--the fascination and the danger,--there lies the dilemma.
Shun the danger, and you lose the charm as well. A woman's human
nature is not our human nature; the tissue is more cunningly woven;
the string more responsive; the essence lighter and subtler,--forgive
the poetic style,--appropriate to the theme, you know. In their
virtues and their faults they shoot away into paths where we do not
track them. They can sink in a more abject abasement; and sometimes,
again, while we tread the earth, they are aeronauts of the pure ether.
Stable, stubborn, impassive man holds the steadfast tenor of his walk,
little moved by influences which, on the one hand, bury his helpmate
in ruin, or, on the other, wing her on a flight to the zenith. They
out-sin us, and they out-saint us; weak as a reed, and strong as an
oak; measureless in folly, profound in wisdom; for the deepest of all
wisdom springs, not out of a questioning brain, but out of a confiding
heart; and all human knowledge must find its root at last in a blind
belief. There, I have given you a sublime touch of eloquence; and, for
the moral to it,--shun matrimony. It is Satan's slyest mantrap. No,
not so, at all; it is a blessed institution for perfecting mankind in
patience, charity, and meekness, and booking their names in the
catalogue of saints. So be wise, in time. Good by. Look before you
leap!"

And, with an ironical twinkle in his eye, Sharpe vanished.



CHAPTER XXI.

Quelle diable de fantaisie t'es tu allé mettre dans la cervelle? Tu le
veux, amour; il faut être fou comme beaucoup d'autres.--_Le Malade
Imaginaire_.


Matherton, renowned through both hemispheres for the manufacture of
glass ware, stands, unless this history errs, on the line of the
Northern Central Railroad, the distance from its post office to the
post office at Boston being just thirty-three miles. Four miles from
the village is the tract of land which Leslie's forefather, far back
in New England antiquity, bought of the Indians. The original purchase
covered several square miles, since dwindled to some two hundred
acres. Here, in a sequestered and very beautiful spot, stands the
mansion which Leslie's grandfather built some eighty-five years ago.
In its day it was reputed of matchless elegance, and, with Leslie's
repairs and improvements, it might still pass as a very handsome old
country residence. Sagamore Pond, or Lake Sagamore, as the last Mrs.
Leslie, who had lived in England, insisted on calling it, washes the
foot of the garden; and along the northern verge of the estate, Battle
Brook steals down to the pond, under the thick shade of the hemlock
trees. Here King Philip's warriors once lay in ambush, through a hot
summer's day; here many pious Puritans were butchered, and many
carried off into doleful captivity.

At the house at Battle Brook, Leslie, during spring, summer, and
autumn, had always spent every leisure moment that he could snatch
from his affairs. Since his connection with Vinal, these intervals had
become both long and frequent. And, since grief has a privilege, and
since, moreover, a somewhat alarming cough had lately begun to trouble
him, he now committed all to Vinal's hands, and, on the day after his
daughter's return, repaired with her to his favorite homestead, there
to remain till the autumn frosts should warn them back to town.
Forthwith Matherton became the focus to which all the thoughts of
Morton concentred.

Thither, pretext or no pretext, he resolved to go. He went,
accordingly, and made his quarters at the grand hotel of Matherton.
Fortunately, Battle Brook was then the best trout stream in
Massachusetts; and this would give, he flattered himself, some faint
color to his proceeding. He arrived in the afternoon, and, mounting a
horse, rode to the inn at the edge of Sagamore Pond, a mile or more
from Leslie's house.

He had scarcely reached it, when a brief sharp thunder shower came up,
and passed away as quickly. As the sun was setting, he rowed out in a
small boat upon the pond. Here, skirting the brink of a sequestered
cove, which the beech and tupelo trees overhung, and where every thing
was still but the evening singing of a robin, and the mysterious
whisper of the rain-drops, falling from innumerable leaves, with
countless tiny circles on the breathless water,--here, where his boat
glided as if buoyed on a liquid air, while, over the pebbly bottom,
the perch and dace fled away from under the shadowing prow,--he
lingered dreamily for a while, and then, bending to his oars, bore out
into the middle of the pond. The west was gorgeous with the sunset,
while, far in front, glimmering among the trees, he could see the
shrine of his idolatry, the roof that sheltered Edith Leslie.

A light breeze crisped the water, the ripples murmured with a lulling
sound under his boat, and, lying at ease, he gave himself up to his
reveries.

His passion-kindled fancies ranged earth, sea, and sky; wandered into
the past, lost themselves in the future; evoked the shadows of dead
history; mixed in one phantom conclave the hairy war gods of the
north, the bright shapes of Grecian fable, the enormities of Egyptian
mythology; and, looking into the burning depths above him, he mused of
human hopes, human aspirations, human destiny. That oddly compounded
malady which had fastened on him had brought with it the intense yet
tranquil awakening of every faculty with which it will sometimes visit
those of the ruder sex whom it attacks with virulence.

The magic of earth and sky; the black pines rearing their shaggy tops
against the blazing west; the shores mingling in many-tinted shadow;
the fiery sky, where three little clouds hovered like flaming spirits;
the fiery water, where he and his boat floated as in a crimson sea;
the whole glowing scene, glowing deeper yet in the fervid light of
passion,--penetrated him like an enchantment. He scarcely knew
himself; and in his supreme of intoxication, the familiar world around
him was sublimed into a vision of Eden.



CHAPTER XXII.

               If it were now to die,
  'Twere now to be most happy; for I fear,
  My soul hath her content so absolute,
  That not another comfort like to this
  Succeeds in unknown fate.--_Othello_.


It was a day of cloudless sunshine when Morton set forth for the house
at Battle Brook; but his mind was far from sharing the brightness of
the world without. The hope that flowed so full and calmly the night
before had ebbed and left him dry. He was shaken with doubts,
misgivings, perturbations. He walked his horse up the avenue, till he
came within view of the house, a large, square mansion, with a veranda
on three sides, a quiet-looking place enough, but in Morton's eyes
priceless as Aladdin's palace, and sacred as Our Lady's house at
Loretto. A monthly honeysuckle twined about one of the columns of the
porch; the hall door stood open, and the air played freely through
from front to rear.

He gave his horse to the charge of an old Scotchman who was mowing the
lawn, rang at the door, asked for Miss Leslie, and was shown into the
vacant parlor. With its straw carpeting and light summer furniture, it
was bright and cheerful as every thing else about it. Engravings from
Turner and Landseer, framed in black walnut, hung against the walls;
and on a small table in a corner stood a bird cage, with the door left
purposely open. The inmate was hopping about the room, without
attempting to escape, though the windows also were open.

"No wonder it will not leave her," thought the visitor.

He seated himself by the window, and looked out on the fields and the
groves beyond. Far down in the meadow, the yellow-tufted rye was
undulating in the warm summer wind, wave chasing wave in graceful
succession. The birds would not sing,--the afternoon was too hot,--but
the buzz, and hum, and chirrup of a myriad of insects rose from their
lurking-places in the grass, while now and then the cicala raised its
piercing voice from a neighboring apple tree.

Suddenly Morton's heart began to beat; a light step on the staircase
reached his ear, and the rustling of a dress. Miss Leslie came in with
her usual natural and quiet ease of manner, while he rose to receive
her with his heart in his throat. And now, when he needed them most,
his wits seemed to fail him. He tried to converse, and produced
nothing but barren commonplace. Again and again the conversation
flagged; and the hum and chirrup of the insect world without filled
the pauses between.

He glanced at his companion.

"Be a man, you idiot," he apostrophized himself.

He looked at her again, as she bent over the embroidery with which her
fingers were employed.

"I must speak out, or die," he thought.

He rested his arm on the table. He leaned towards her. Heaven knows
what nonsense was on his lips, when the sound of a man's footstep in
the hall made him subside into his chair, and do his best to look
nonchalant. Leslie entered, cast an uneasy glance at the visitor, and
greeted him with somewhat cool courtesy.

"I have just met Miss Weston and her sister," said Leslie to his
daughter; "I think they will be here in a few minutes."

Morton looked at a Landseer on the wall, and gnawed his lip with
vexation.

Leslie took a turn or two about the room, looked out at the window,
remarked that it was a hot afternoon, said that the hay crop had been
the heaviest ever known, in consequence, he opined, of the joint
effects of heat, moisture, and guano; and was descanting on the
ravages committed by the borers on a certain peach tree, when Miss
Weston and her sister appeared.

"It's all up with me. She does not care for me a straw," thought
Morton, as he saw the easy cordiality with which Miss Leslie received
her guests. He was introduced. Miss Weston complimented him on the
affair of the railroad. His reply was cold and constrained. Leslie
soon left the room. Morton felt himself _de trop_, yet could not
muster strength of mind to go. Conversation flagged. Every body became
constrained. Miss Weston suspected the truth, and glanced at her
sister that they should take their leave, when, at this juncture, a
servant came to announce tea.

The ebbs and flows of the human mind are beyond the reach of
astronomy. As they went into the next room, Morton became conscious of
a faint and indefinite something in the face of his mistress, which,
he could not tell why, cast a gleam of light into his darkness, and
lifted him out of the slough of despond in which he had been
floundering for the last half hour. A flush of hope dawned on him. His
constraint passed away, and Miss Weston's opinion of him was
wonderfully revolutionized. At length, much to his delight, one of the
visitors remarked to the other, that they had better go home before it
grew too dark. But here a new alarm seized him. Might he not be
expected to offer them his escort? Terrified at this idea, and
oblivious of all gallantry, he made his escape into the garden,
impelled--so he left them to infer--by a delicate wish to free them
from the restraint of his presence. Here he walked to and fro behind
the hedge, in no small agitation, but with all his faculties on the
alert.

In a quarter of an hour, he heard voices at the hall door; and
approaching behind a cluster of high laurels, saw Edith Leslie
accompanying her two friends down the avenue. After walking with them
a few rods, she bade them good evening, and turned back towards the
house. Morton went forward to meet her.

"There is a beautiful sunset over the water, beyond the garden. Will
you walk that way?"

They turned down one of the garden paths.

"What did you think of me this afternoon?" asked Morton--"did you
think me ill, or bewitched, or turned idiot?"

"Neither. I thought you a little taciturn, at first."

"I am fortunate if that was your worst opinion. I believe I was under
a spell. Did you never dream--all people, I believe, have something in
common in their dreams--of being in some great peril, without power to
move hand or foot to escape?--of being under some desperate necessity
of speaking, without power to open your lips?--or of seeing before you
some splendid prize, without power to make even an effort to grasp it?
Something like that was my case." Here he came to an abrupt stop,
walked on a pace or two, then turned to his companion with a vehemence
which startled her--"Miss Leslie, you heard your friend praise me for
humanity--courage--what not? It was all a mistake--all a delusion. I
thought you were in the train. I was wild with agony; and when the
people were crowding after me, I thought that all had been for
nothing, because I had not saved you. I can hardly tell what I did; it
was mere blind instinct. I could have ridden into the fire, and
perhaps not have felt the burning. There _is_ a spell upon me. I am
changed--life is changed--every thing is changed. I scarcely know
myself. It mans me, and it makes me a child again. The world puts on a
new face; just as this sunset lights the earth with purple and
vermilion, and turns it to a fairy land. Forgive me; I don't know what
I am saying. I am in fear that all this brightness will change of a
sudden into winter and night, and cold, rocky commonplace. You know
what I would say. I have no words fit to say it. You are my judge, to
lift me up, or cast me down."

Here he stopped again abruptly, and looked at his companion in much
greater agitation than he would have felt if he had just thrown the
dice for life or death. She stood for a moment with her eyes fixed on
the earth, as if waiting for him to go on, then slowly raised them to
his face.

"You risked your life to save mine. You need not believe that I could
ever forget it."

Morton's heart sprang to his lips. Nature had not been liberal to him
in the gift of tongues, but the energy of his emotion supplied the
defect. Nor were his words thrown away; for with all its outward calm,
the nature that responded to them was earnest and ardent as his own.

It was an hour or more since the whippoorwills had begun their evening
cries, when they returned to the house. Candles were lighted, and
Leslie was sitting with two persons from the neighborhood, an agent of
the Matherton factories and a lawyer, conversing upon railroad stocks.
He looked very uneasily at his daughter and Morton, but said nothing.
The latter was engrossed with one idea; but he forced himself to join
in the conversation, and favored the company with his views--not very
lucid on this occasion--upon the topic under discussion. He soon,
however, contrived to whisper to Miss Leslie, "I shall go in five
minutes--will you meet me in the hall?" She left the room in a few
moments; and Morton, after a short interval, took his leave, in much
alarm lest his intended father-in-law should strain courtesy so far as
to follow him. Leslie, however, remained quiet; and he found his
mistress waiting for him at the hall door. Their interview was short,
but Morton never forgot it. After bidding her good night some eight or
ten times, he compelled himself to leave the house, mounted his horse,
waved his hand to Edith Leslie, whom he saw watching him from a side
window, wheeled, rode down the avenue, turned as he reached the
entrance of the trees, and waved his hand again towards the window.
His heart was full to overflowing, and tears, not of sorrow, ran down
his cheeks. "Good Heaven!" laughed Morton, as he brushed them away,
"this has not happened to me before these twelve years." He waved a
farewell once more, and spurring his horse, rode down the avenue into
the high road.

It was a soft, warm, starlight evening, and, as he passed along, he
heard the voices of the whippoorwills from far and near, while the
meadows, the orchards, and the borders of the woods sparkled with
fireflies. With loosened rein, he suffered his horse to canter lightly
forward, and gave himself up to the enchantment of his dreams. A
thousand times in his after life did he recall the visions of that
evening's ride.

About a mile before reaching the town, the road passed, for a few
rods, through a belt of thick woods. While riding through the darkest
of the shadow, a strange cry startled him--a shriek so wild and awful
that the blood curdled in his veins, and his horse leaped aside with
fright. There was a rustling among the branches over his head, a
flapping and fanning of broad pinions, and the dusky form of some
great bird sailed away into the innermost darkness of the woods.
Morton knew the sound. It was the voice of the great horned owl,
rarely found in that part of the country, though he had once or twice
before heard its midnight yells in the lonely forests of Maine.

The cry long rang in his ears. It seemed fraught with startling
portent, clouded his spirits, and umbered the rose-tint of his
reveries. He turned his face to the stars, and breathed a prayer for
the welfare of his mistress.



CHAPTER XXIII.

  L'ambition, l'amour, l'avarice, la haine,
  Tiennent comme un forçat son esprit à la chaîne.--_Boileau_.


Nobody knew Vinal but Vinal himself. _Know thyself_ was his favorite
maxim. He practised upon it, as he flattered himself, with a rigorous
and unsparing logic, applying the dissecting knife and microscope to
the secrets of his mind, probing, testing, studying, pitilessly
ripping up all that would fain hide itself. The aim of all this
scrutiny was, thoroughly to comprehend the machine, in order to direct
and perfect it to its highest efficiency.

Vinal, as men go, knew himself very well; and yet there were points of
his character which escaped him, or which, rather, he misnamed. He
knew perfectly that he was ambitious, selfish, unscrupulous: this he
confessed in his own ear, pluming himself much on his philosophic
candor. But he never would see that he was envious. In his mental map
of himself, envy was laid down as pride and emulation. The wrestlings
of human nature are not all of the sort figured in the Pilgrim's
Progress and set forth in the Catechism. Vinal had an ideal; he had
cherished it from boyhood, and battled ever since to realize it. He
would fain make himself the finished man of the world, the
unflinching, all-knowing, all-potential man of affairs, like a blade
of steel, smooth and polished, but keen, searching, resistless. This
was his aim; but nature was always balking him. He was the victim of a
constitutional timidity, his scourge from childhood. He had been known
to swoon outright, on being run away with in a chaise, and he never
could muster nerve enough to fire a gun. Against this defect his pride
rose in revolt. It thwarted him at every turn, and conflicted with all
his aspirations. In short, he could not endure its presence, and
fought against it with an iron energy of will. Thus his life was a
secret, unremitting struggle, whose mark was written on his pale,
nervous, resolute features. It's an ill wind that blows no good. This
painful warfare achieved a singular vigor and concentration of
character, and would have led to still better issues, had the
assailing force been marshalled under a better banner. A lofty purpose
may turn timidity to heroism; but a purpose like Vinal's is by no
means so efficacious, and the man remains, if not quite a coward, yet
something very like one.

It would have been well for Vinal if, like Morton, he had been born to
a fortune. In that case--for he had no aptitude for pleasure
hunting--his restless energies would probably have spurred him into
some creditable field of effort, natural science, mathematics, or
philology, to all of which he inclined. But Fate had not been so
propitious; and to achieve the task which she had forgotten was the
zenith of his aspirations.

There was one person who had always been an eyesore to him, and a
stumbling block in his way. This was Vassall Morton. Morton, at
twenty-three, was, in feeling, still a boy; Vinal, at twenty-three,
was a well-ripened man. But the man hated the boy; and the boy
retorted with a dislike which was largely dashed with scorn. Vinal
felt the scorn, and it cut him to the quick, the more so, that he
could not hide from himself that he stood in awe of Morton. He hated
him, too, because he had that which he, Vinal, lacked--fortune, good
health, steady nerve. He hated him, because he thought that Morton
understood him; because the frankness of the latter's nature rebuked
the secrecy of his own; and, above all, because he saw in him his most
formidable rival in the affections of Edith Leslie.

Vinal's nature, self-drilled as it was, could not be called a cold
one. It had in it spots and veins of sensitiveness. When a child, this
sensitiveness had often been morbidly awake, and had caused him much
suffering; but as he grew towards manhood, it had been overlaid and
hidden by very different qualities, not often found in connection with
it. Of late, however, he had been in love,--with Edith Leslie, as well
as with her money,--and the dormant susceptibilities of his childhood
had been in some sort reawakened.

His mind, inharmonious and unhappy as nature and himself had jointly
made it, had never yet felt a pang so sharp as when, arriving at
Matherton, he learned privately from Colonel Leslie the engagement
which had passed between Morton and his daughter. Miss Leslie's twice
rejected suitor compressed his thin lips in silence; it was his usual
sign of strong emotion. Leslie pressed his favorite's hand,--he would
fain have called him son-in-law,--and, turning away abruptly, Vinal
left the house.

The man whom he envied and hated had triumphed; robbed him of fortune,
and robbed him of happiness; happiness of which Morton had had already
his full share, and a fortune which would but swell the ample bulk of
his possessions. Vinal was frenzied with grief, rage, and jealousy.



CHAPTER XXIV.

  _Clo_. That she should love this fellow and refuse me!
         If it be sin to make a true election, she is damned.
                                                      _Cymbeline_.


Morton sat in the reading room of the National, the grand hotel of
Matherton. It was by no means an elegant apartment. In the middle was
a table covered with newspapers; at the sides were desks, likewise
covered with newspapers, padlocked together in files. The walls and
the ceiling glared a drear monotony of white, broken, however, by
sundry ornaments, worthy the attention of the curious. Here, framed in
birdseye maple, was the engraved likeness of "Old Hickory," with hat
and cane in hand, a cloak to hide the gauntness of his figure, and
hair bristling in electrified disorder. Here, too, was a colored print
of the favorite steamboat "Queen of the Lake;" Niagara Falls, by a
license of art, forming a blue curtain in the background. At its side
was a lithograph of the Empire Hotel, New York, the sidewalk in front
being embellished with groups of pedestrians, dressed with matchless
elegance, after the fashion plates; and, over against this, an
advertisement of Jessup's steel, encircled with a lithographed halo,
composed of chisels, axes, hammers, saws, and ploughshares.

The apartment, thus furnished and thus adorned, had, besides Morton,
but two occupants; the one a factory agent, who stood at a desk,
absorbed in the New Orleans Picayune; the other a country tailor, who
displayed the sign of the "Full-dressed Man" at the neighboring
village of Mudfield, and was now seated at a window, busied in
polishing a huge garnet ring, which he wore, with a red silk
handkerchief.

In a window recess, aloof from the tailor's, sat Morton, scarcely
conscious of any presence but that of his own thoughts. He had found a
philosopher's stone; and through the rest of his life, this
comfortless reading room of the Matherton Hotel, this sanctuary of dry
and weary Yankeedom, was linked in his memory with dreams of golden
brightness.

A firm, quick step crossed the threshold, and paced the sanded floor.
Till this moment, Morton had remained absorbed, shut in from the outer
world; but now an influence, which believers may call magnetism, made
him look up and bend forward from the recess to see who the sudden
stranger might be. The stranger turned also, and showed the pale,
fixed face of Horace Vinal.

Morton was disposed to be on good terms with all the world, and more
especially with his defeated rival.

"Good morning, Vinal," he said, holding out his hand, which Vinal
took, his cold, thin fingers trembling in the warm grasp of Morton. He
had had no thought of finding him there; the encounter was unlooked
for as it was unwelcome; and, as he muttered a few passing words of
commonplace, his features grew haggard with the violence of struggling
emotion. He turned away, went to a desk, pretended to read a newspaper
for a few moments, and then left the room.

Morton looked after him. He had no doubt that Vinal had heard of his
misfortune; and the first sense of pain which, since the evening
before last, the successful lover had felt, now crossed his mind.

"It's devilish hard for him, poor fellow," he thought, as, measuring
Vinal's passion by his own, a vivid image of the latter's suffering
rose upon him.

Vinal strode along a corridor of the hotel. There was no one to see
him. His forehead was knit, his nostrils distended, his jaws clinched.
A man, whom he knew, came from a side passage. Instantly Vinal's face
was calm again, and as the other passed he greeted him with a smile.
He went out into the main street of the town, along which he walked
for a few rods with his usual air of alert composure; then turned down
a narrow and unfrequented by-way. Here his whole bearing changed. He
trod the gravelled sidewalk with a fierce, nervous motion; and with
hands clinched and eyes fixed on the ground, muttered through his set
teeth,--

"Fair or foul, by G--, I'll be even with him."



CHAPTER XXV.

  O, quha is this has done this deed,
    This ill deed done to me?
  To send me out this time o' the zeir,
    To sail upon the sea.--_Percy Reliques_.

  A slave whose gall coins slanders like a mint.
                                       _Troilus and Cressida_.


"Your proposal flatters me, Mr. Morton; and, in many points of view,
the connection you offer would be a desirable one,--a very desirable
one. But I must say to you plainly, that if my wishes alone were
consulted, my daughter would bestow her hand elsewhere. Perhaps I need
not tell you that Horace Vinal, who was my ward, and my late wife's
relation, and who has been my partner in business for a year or more,
is a young man whom I have looked upon as my son, and whom it was my
very earnest hope to have seen such in reality. You who have had an
opportunity of knowing him can hardly be surprised that, after so long
an intimacy, I should prefer this connection to any other. I have seen
him in all the relations of life, and the more I have seen the more I
have learned to esteem him."

"You speak with a good deal of emphasis of his character. May I ask if
any part of your objection to me rests on that score."

"In a matter like this, I am bound to be frank with you. In many
quarters, I hear you very highly spoken of,--so highly, in fact, that
I am disposed to take with every qualification what I have heard to
your disadvantage."

"Pray, what is that?"

"I was a soldier once, and don't incline to inquire too closely into
the way young men may see fit to amuse themselves. But on a point
where my daughter's happiness might be involved----"

"Upon my word, sir, I don't understand you."

"Well, Mr. Morton, I hear--that is, I have learned--that, like other
young men of leisure, you have had your _bonnes fortunes_, and winged
other game than partridges and woodcock."

Morton looked at him in surprise. The truth was, that, some time
before, the discreet and far-sighted Vinal had contrived to inoculate
his patron with this calumny, which he thought the species most likely
to take readily. And such had been his tact, that Leslie, though well
imbued with the idea, would have been puzzled to say whence he had
received it. A man of shallow-brained uprightness like his, if he
yields too easy a belief to falsehood, has the advantage of yielding
also an easy belief to truth. A few words from Morton sufficed to
carry conviction to the frank-hearted auditor, who, feeling that, at
least as regarded its worst features, his charge must be groundless,
hastened to make the _amende_.

"Your word is enough, Mr. Morton, and I owe you an apology for
imagining that you could be false or heartless in any connection
whatever. I think, however, that you can see how, without
disparagement to you, I should still regret that Horace Vinal, who is
personally so near to me, so devoted to my interests, and so strongly
attached to my daughter, should be disappointed. I advised him,
yesterday, to go to Europe, to recruit his health. I am told that you
had yourself some plan of the kind."

"A very indefinite one, sir; in fact, amounting to none at all."

"Go this autumn; be absent a year,--that is not too long for seeing
Europe,--and if at the end of that time you and my daughter should
remain as earnest in this matter as you are now, why, I am not the man
to persist in opposing her inclination."

The sentence was hard; but there was no appeal. Leslie had told Vinal
the day before that he would despatch Morton on his travels,
intimating a hope that a long separation might bring about a change in
his daughter's feelings. Morton saw nothing for it but acquiescence;
to which, indeed, Miss Leslie urged him, confiding in the strength of
his attachment, and happy to reconcile adverse duties and inclinations
at any price.

Meanwhile, he had not the smallest suspicion of the subtle trick which
his rival had played him. "This is a charitable world!" he thought;
"one must keep the beaten track, look demure, and talk virtue, or, in
one shape or another, it will be the worse for him."



CHAPTER XXVI.

  Then loathed he in his native land to dwell.--_Childe Harold_.

_Slend_. A gentleman born, Master Parson, who writes himself
_Armigero_; in any bill, warrant, quittance, or obligation,
_Armigero_!

_Shal_. Ay, that I do; and have done any time these three hundred
years.--_Merry Wives of Windsor_.


The engagement of Miss Leslie and Morton was to be kept secret till
the latter's return. None knew it but Leslie and Vinal. Vinal, within
a few weeks, sailed for Europe, meaning, however, to be absent only
three or four months. Other motives apart, he felt, and Leslie saw,
that his health, always shivering in the wind, demanded the change.

Meanwhile, Morton made the best of a six weeks' reprieve; and hampered
as he was by the injunction of secrecy, and the precautions which it
demanded, he crowded the short interval with half a lifetime of mixed
pleasure and pain, expectation and anxiety.

It was past but too quickly; in three days more he must set sail.
Walking the street in a rueful mood, he met his classmate, Chester,
who, having made the tour of Europe, had lost his obsolete ways, and
grown backward into a man of the present world.

"Good morning, Morton. Making calls?--I see it by your face."

"Yes; it's a thing that must be done sometimes."

"_Pour prendre congé_, I suppose. I hear you are off very soon."

"The day after to-morrow."

"You couldn't do a wiser thing. When a man finds himself in a scrape,
he had better get out of it as soon as possible; therefore, if he
finds himself born in America, he had better forswear his country."

"Patriotic sentiments those."

"I can't answer for the patriotism; but they are the sentiments of a
true son of the Pilgrim Fathers, who renounced their country because
they couldn't stand it, and came over here. I mean to follow their
example, and go back again. They fled--so the story goes--from
persecution. I mean to fly from persecution too,--the persecution of a
social atmosphere that I find hostile to my constitution, and a
climate not fit for a reasonable being to live in."

"I don't know why you should be so fierce against the climate. By your
look, you seem to thrive in it."

"The bodily man thrives passably well. It's the immortal part that
suffers. Fierce! why, the climate makes me fierce. Who can be a
philosopher in such a climate?--or a poet?--or an artist?--any thing
but a steam engine? It is a perpetual spur, an unremitting goad.
Nobody is happy in it except the men who ride on locomotives and
conduct express trains,--always on the move. O, so you go in here, do
you?"

"Yes, to see Mrs. Primrose. Will you come too?"

"No, thank you," replied Chester, walking away, with a comical look.

Morton rang the door bell, and found Mrs. Primrose at home.

There was a book on the table. He took it up. It was a novel, lately
published.

Morton praised it.

Mrs. Primrose dissented, with great emphasis.

"You are severe upon the book."

"Not more so than it deserves," replied Mrs. Primrose; "it is too
coarse to be permitted for a moment."

"And yet the moral tone seems good enough."

"I do not blame the morality so much as the bad taste. It is full of
slang dialogue, and was certainly written by a very unrefined person."

"It makes its characters speak as such people speak in real life."

"It is not merely that," said Mrs. Primrose, slightly pursing her
mouth; "it contains, besides, expressions absolutely reprehensible."

"One does not admire its good taste; but a little blunt Saxon never
did much harm."

"No daughter of mine shall read it," said Mrs. Primrose, with gravity.

"I imagine that if literature is to reflect human life truly, it can
hardly be limited to the language of the drawing room."

"Then it should be banished from the drawing room," said Mrs.
Primrose, with severity.

Here several visitors appeared, and Morton presently took leave.

He was but a few rods from the door, when a quick step came behind
him.

"Hallo, colonel, where are you going at such a rate?"

Morton turned, and saw his classmate, Rosny.

"Why, Dick, I'm glad to see you."

"They tell me you're bound for Europe."

"Yes."

"Well, it's a good move. If a man has money, he had better enjoy it."

"I shall be driving out of town in an hour. Come and dine with me."

"Sorry, colonel, but it can't be done. I'm out on the stump in the
cause of democracy. Shall be off westward in two hours, and shake the
dust from my shoes against this nest of whiggery and old fogyism."

"Democracy is under the weather just now, Dick."

"Just now, I grant you. What with log cabins and hard cider, and
coons, the enlightened people are pretty well gammoned. But there's a
good time coming. Before you know it, democracy will be upon you again
like a load of bricks. Why, what can you expect of a party that will
take a coon for its emblem? I saw one chained up this morning in the
yard of Taft's tavern, a dirty, mean-looking beast, about half way
between a jackal and an owl. He looked uncommonly well in health, and
could puff out his fur as round as a muff. But, when you looked close,
there was nothing of him but skin and bone; exactly like the whig
party. He put up his nose, and smiled at me. I suppose--damn his
impudence--he took me for a whig. That coon is going into a decline.
It won't be long before he is taken by the tail and tossed over
Charles River bridge; and there he'll lie on the mud at low tide, for
a genuine emblem of the defunct whig party, and a solemn warning to
all coon worshippers."

"Let the whigs alone, Dick; and if you won't dine with me, come in
here and drink a glass of claret."

"That I'll do." And they went into the hotel accordingly.

As Rosny took up his glass, Morton observed a large old seal ring on
his finger.

"Do you call yourself a democrat, and yet always wear that ring of
yours?"

"Why, what's the matter with the ring?"

"Nothing, except that it is a badge of feudalism, aristocracy, and
every thing else abominable to your party."

"Pshaw, man. Look here: do you see that crest, cut in the stone? That
crest followed King Francis to Pavia, and when Henri Quatre charged at
Ivry, it wasn't far behind him. It is mine by right. It comes down to
me, straight as a bee line, through twenty generations. And do you
think I'm going to renounce my birthright? No, be gad!"

"I wouldn't. But what becomes of your democracy?"

"Democracy is tall enough to take care of itself. I wear that ring;
but it don't follow that I stand on my ancestry. You needn't laugh:
the case is just this. If the blood in my veins makes me stand to my
colors where another man would flinch, or hold my head up where
another would be sprawling on his back; if it gives me a better pluck,
grit, go-ahead; why, _that's_ what I stand on,--_that's_ my patent of
nobility. What the deuse are you laughing at?--the personal
quality,--don't you see?--and not the ancestry."

"If you stand on personal merit, you'll be sure to go under before
long. The democracy are growing as jealous of that as of ancestry, or
of wealth either."

"Why, what do you know about politics? You never had any thing to do
with them. You are no more fit for a politician than for a fiddler."

"I'm glad you think so. If I must serve the country in any public
capacity, I pray Heaven it may be as a scavenger sooner than as a
politician. Who can touch pitch and be clean? I'll pay back your
compliment, Dick. You are a great deal too downright to succeed in
public life."

"I'll find a way or make one. But I tell you, colonel,"--and a shade
of something like disappointment passed over his face,--"if a man
wants the people's votes, it's fifty to one that he's got to sink
himself lower than the gutter before he gets them."

"Yes, and when the people have turned out of office every man of
virtue, honor, manliness, independence, and ability, then they will
fling up their caps and brag that their day is come, and their triumph
finished over the damned aristocracy."

"You are an unbeliever. You haven't half faith enough in the people.
Now I put it to your common sense. Isn't there a thousand times more
patriotism in the laboring classes in this country--yes, and about as
much intelligence--as in the rabble of sham fashionables at Saratoga,
or any other muster of our moneyed snobs and flunkeys?"

"Exceptions excepted, yes."

"War to the knife with the codfish aristocracy! They are a kind of
mongrel beast, expressly devised and concocted for me to kick. I don't
mean the gentlemen with money; nor the good fellows with money. I know
what a gentleman is; yes, and a lady, too, though I do make stump
speeches, and shake hands all round with the sovereign people. That
sort are welcome to their money. No, sir, it's the moneyed snobs, the
gilded toadstools, that it's my mission to pitch into."

"Excuse me a moment, Dick," said Morton, suddenly leaping from his
seat, as a lady passed the window.

"A lady, eh! Then I'll be off."

"No, no, stay where you are. I'll be back again in three minutes."

He ran out of the hotel, and walked at his best pace in pursuit of
Fanny Euston, who, on her part, was walking with an earnest air, like
one whose thoughts were engaged with some engrossing subject. He
reached her side, and made a movement to accost her; but she seemed
unconscious of his presence.

"Miss Fanny Euston, will you pardon me for breaking in upon your
reveries?"

She turned and recognized him, but her smile of recognition was a very
mournful one.

"I have stopped you to take my leave,--a good deal more in short hand
than I meant it should have been. I shall sail for Europe the day
after to-morrow."

"Yes? Is not that a little sudden?"

"More sudden than I wish it were. I am not at all in a travelling
humor. I have been too much pressed for time to ride out, as I meant
to do, to your father's house."

"We are all in town now. My father came from New Orleans yesterday,
very ill."

"I did not hear of it. I trust not dangerously ill."

"He is dying. He cannot live a week."

Morton well knew the strength and depth of her attachment to her
father. He pressed her hand in silent sympathy.

"It grieves me, Fanny," he said, after a moment, "to part from you
under such a cloud."

"Good by," she replied, returning the friendly pressure. "I wish you
with all my heart a pleasant and prosperous journey."

Morton turned back, wondering at the sudden dignity of manner which
grief had given to the wild and lawless Fanny Euston.



CHAPTER XXVII.

_Ham_. Thou wouldst not think how ill's all here about my heart, but
it is no matter.

_Hor_. Nay, good my lord----

_Ham_. It is but foolery; but it is such a kind of gain-giving as
would perhaps trouble a woman.

_Hor_. If your mind dislike any thing, obey it.

_Ham_. Not a whit. We defy augury.


Morton's day of departure came. It was a comfortless, savage, gusty
morning, an east wind blowing in from the bay. The hour to set sail
was near; he should have been on board; but still he lingered with
Edith Leslie. The secrecy on which her father insisted made it
impossible for her to go with him to the ship.

Morton forced himself away; his hand was on the door, but his heart
failed him, and he turned back again. On the mind of each there was
something more than the pain of a year's separation. A dark
foreboding, a cloud of dull and sullen portent, hung over them both.
The smooth and bright crusting with which habit and training had iced
over the warm nature of Edith Leslie was broken and swept away; and as
Morton seized her hands, she disengaged herself, and, throwing herself
on his neck, sobbed convulsively. Morton pressed her to his heart, and
buried his face in her clustering tresses; then, breaking from her,
ran blindly from the house. He repaired to the house of Meredith, who
met him at the door.

"You've no time to lose. Here's the carriage. Your trunks are all
right. Come on."

They drove towards the wharf.

"I'd give my head to change places with you," said Meredith.

"I wish you could."

There was so much pain and dejection in his look, that his friend
could not fail to observe it.

"You don't want to go, then? I have noticed all along that you seemed
devilish cool about it."

"Ned," said Morton, "I never used to think myself superstitious; but I
begin now to change my mind. Heaven knows why, but I have strange
notions running in my brain. My dog howled all last night; and not
long ago, an owl yelled over my head, and that, too, at a time---- But
you'll think I have lost my wits."

Meredith, in truth, was greatly amazed at this betrayal of a weakness
of which, long and closely as he had known his companion, he had never
suspected him.

"Why, colonel, I have seen you set out on a journey as long and fifty
times as hazardous as this, as carelessly as if you were going to a
dinner party."

"I know it; but times are changed with me. I am not quite the child,
though, that you may suppose."

"If you have such a feeling about going, I would give it up. It's not
too late."

"No, I haven't sunk yet to that pass." And, as he spoke, the carriage
stopped at the pier.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

  I can't but say it is an awkward sight
  To see one's native land receding through
  The growing waters.--_Byron_.


The day brightened as the steamer bore out to sea, and the sun
streamed along the fast-receding shore. Morton stood at the ship's
stern, gazing back longingly towards his native rocks. Though far from
inclining to echo those set terms of praise which the progeny of the
Puritans are fond of lavishing on themselves, he felt himself bound
with enduring cords to the woods and hills of New England, the scene
of his boyish aspirations, of his pure ambition, and his devoted love;
and while the crags of Gloucester faded from his sight, his eyes were
dimmed as he turned them towards those rugged shores.

"Well, young man, seems to me you look a leetle kind o' streak-ed at
the idee of quitting home," said a husky voice at his elbow.

Morton turned, and saw a small man, with a meagre, hatchet face, and a
huge pair of black whiskers hedging round a countenance so dead and
pallid that one could see at a glance that he was in a consumption. He
had an eye hard as a flint, one that might have faced a Gorgon without
risk. Morton regarded him with an expression which told him, as
plainly as words, to go about his business; but he might as well have
tried to look an image of brass out of countenance.

"Now _I_," pursued the small man, "have some reason to feel bad. It's
an even bet if ever I see Boston lighthouse again--about six of one
and half a dozen of the other. I consider myself a gone sucker. I've
ben going, going, for about two years, and pretty soon I expect I
shall be going, going, gone."

These words, uttered in a sort of bravado, were interrupted by a
violent fit of coughing.

"Ever crossed the pond before?" asked the small man, as soon as he
could gain breath.

"Yes."

"Business?"

"No."

"I thought not. You don't look like a business man. I know a business
man, a mile off, by the cut of his jib. I'm a business man myself, and
a hard used one at that."

Here a fresh fit of coughing began.

"Bad health; bad health, and damned hard luck, that's what has
finished up this child. If it worn't for them, I should be worth my
hundred thousand dollars this very minute."

Another fit of coughing.

"So you've ben across before. Well, so've I. That was three years ago,
by the doctors' advice. It's great advice they give a man. It's good
for their pockets, and there's deused little else it's good for. I
spent that year over three thousand dollars; and if I'd staid to home,
and stuck to my business, _I_ should have ben jest about as well, and
cleared,--well, yes, I should have cleared double the money, at the
smallest figger."

More coughing.

"I expect you travel for pleasure."

Morton replied by an inarticulate sound, which the other might
interpret as he pleased. He chose to interpret it in the affirmative.

"Well, that's all very well for a young man like you. You are young
enough to like to look at the curiosities, and take an interest in
what's going on; but I'm too old a bird for that. One night I was down
to Palermo, there was an eruption of Mount Etna going on. We were on
the piazzy at the back of Marston the consul's house, and there it was
blazing away to kill, way off on the further side of the island. Well,
the ladies was all O-ing and Ah-ing like fits. 'Nonsense!' says I; 'it
ain't a circumstance to the fire that burnt down my splendid new
freestone-front store on Broadway. Now that was something worth saying
O at.'"

More coughing.

"There was a young man there from Boston, and we went round to look at
the churches. He was all for staring at the pictures, and the marble
images, and the Lord knows what all, while I went and paced off the
length of the church from the door up to the altar, and then again
crosswise. There wasn't a church in Palermo worth shaking a stick at
that I didn't know the size of, and have it all set down on paper."

"And what good did that do you?"

"What good did that do me? Why, I had something to show for my pains,
something that would keep. They wanted me to ride up on the back of a
jackass to the top of a mountain to see a cavern where some she saint
or other used to live,--St. Rosa Lee, or some such nigger-minstrel
name."

"St. Rosalie, I suppose you mean."

"St. Rosaly or St. Rosa Lee, it comes to pretty much the same. She was
fool enough to leave a comfortable home--inside of a palace, too, be
gad--and go and live all alone by herself in that cavern. Well, they
wanted me to ride up on the jackass and see it. 'No,' says I, 'you
don't ketch me,' says I; 'if I did, I might as well change places with
the jackass right away,' says I."

A fresh fit of coughing.

"Yes, sir, bad health and hard luck, that's ben the finishing of me,
or else this minute I could show you my solid hundred thousand. The
fire was what begun it all. A splendid freestone-front store, that
hadn't its beat in all New York, chock full of goods, that worn't more
than half covered by the insurance, burnt clean down to the sidewalk!
Then come the great failure you've heard of--Bragg, Dash, and Bustup.
I tell you, I was sucked in there to a handsome figger. Top of all
that, my health caved in,--uh,--uh,--uh." Here the coughing grew
violent. "Well, I'm a gone sucker, and it's no use crying over spilt
milk. But if it worn't for bad health and damned hard luck, I should
have been worth a hun--uh--uh--uh--a hundred thousand
dol--uh--uh--dollars,--uh--uh--uh--uh--uh."

"This wind is too sharp for you," observed Morton.

"Fact," said the invalid; "I can't stand it no how."

He went down to the cabin, Morton's eye following him in pity and
disgust.



CHAPTER XXIX.

  The useful science of the world to know,
  Which books can never teach, nor pedants show.--_Lyttleton_.


The steamer, in due time, reached Liverpool; but Morton remained only
a few days in England, crossing to Boulogne, and thence to Paris. Here
he arrived late one afternoon; and taking his seat at the _table
d'hôte_ of Meurice's Hotel, he presently discovered among the guests
the familiar profile of Vinal, who was just returned from a flying
tour through the provinces. Vinal seemed not to see him; but at the
close of the dinner, Morton came behind his chair and spoke to him. At
his side sat a young man, whose face Morton remembered to have seen
before. Vinal introduced him as Mr. Richards. When a boy, he had been
a schoolmate of them both, and now called himself a medical student,
living on the other side of the Seine. Having been in Paris for two
years or more, he had, as he prided himself, a thorough knowledge of
it; that is to say, he knew its sights of all kinds, and places of
amusement of high and low degree. The sagacious Vinal thought himself
happy in so able and zealous a guide.

"Mr. Vinal and I are going on an excursion about town to-night," said
Richards; "won't you go with us?"

"Thank you," replied Morton, "I have letters to write, and do not mean
to go out this evening."

Vinal and Richards accordingly set forth without him, the latter
acquitting himself wholly to his companion's satisfaction and his own.
Vinal, who inclined very little to youthful amusements, contemplated
all he saw with the eye of a philosopher rather than of a sybarite,
looking upon it as a curious study of human nature, in the knowledge
of which he was always eager to perfect himself. In the course of
their excursion, they entered a large and handsome building on the
Boulevard des Italiens. Here they passed through a succession of rooms
filled with men engaged in various games of hazard, more or less deep,
and came at length to two small apartments, which seemed to form the
penetralia of the temple.

In the farther of these was a table, about which sat some eight or ten
well-dressed men, and at the head, a sedate, collected,
vigilant-looking person, with a little wooden rake in his hand.

"_Messieurs, tout est fait. Rien ne va plus_," he said, drawing
towards him a plentiful heap of gold coin, almost at the instant that
Vinal and Richards came in. The game was that moment finished.

As he spoke, a strong, thick-set man rose abruptly from the table,
muttering a savage oath through his black moustache, and brushing
fiercely past the two visitors, went out at the door. Richards pressed
Vinal's arm, as a hint that he should observe him. As the game was not
immediately resumed, they soon left the room; and after staking and
losing a few small pieces at another table, returned to the street.

"Did you observe that man who passed us?" asked Richards.

"Yes. He seemed out of humor with his luck."

"He was clean emptied out; I would swear to it. I was afraid he would
see me as he went by, but he didn't."

"Why, do you know him?"

"O, yes; and you ought to know him too, if you want to understand how
things are managed hereabouts. He's a
patriot,--agitator,--democrat,--red republican,--conspirator,--you can
call him whichever you like, according to taste. He's mixed up with
all the secret clubs, secret committees, and what not, from one end of
the continent to the other. He's a sort of political sapper and
miner,--not exactly like our patriots of '76, but all's fair that aims
a kick at the House of Hapsburg."

"Has he any special spite in that quarter?"

"He has been intriguing so long in Austria and Lombardy, that now he
could not show his face there a moment without being arrested. So he
is living here, where he keeps very quiet at present, for fear of
consequences."

"What is his name?"

"Speyer,--Henry Speyer."

"A German?"

"No; he's of no nation at all. He belongs to a sort of mongrel breed,
from the Rock of Gibraltar,--a cross of half the nations in Europe.
They go by the name of Rock Scorpions. Speyer is a compound of German,
Spanish, English, French, Genoese, and Moorish, and the result is the
greatest rascal that ever went unhung. Still you ought to know him; he
is a curiosity,--one of the men of the times. If you want to know the
secret springs of the revolution that all the newspapers will be full
of not many years from this, why, Speyer is one of them."

"But is there not some risk in being in communication with such a
man?"

"Yes, if one isn't cautious. But, as I'll manage it, it will be
perfectly safe."

Vinal, though morbidly timorous as respected peril to life or limb,
was not wholly deficient in the courage of the intriguer--a quality
quite distinct from the courage of the soldier. Any thing which
promised to show him human nature under a new aspect, or disclose to
him a hidden spring of human action, had a resistless attraction in
his eyes. He therefore assented to Richards's proposal, and promised
that, at some more auspicious time, he would go with him to the
patriot's lodging.



CHAPTER XXX.

  Those travelled youths whom tender mothers wean
  And send abroad to see and to be seen,
  Have made all Europe's vices so well known,
  They seem almost as natural as our own.--_Churchill_.


On the next morning, Vinal, Morton, and two other young Americans were
seated together in the coffee room at Meurice's. They were discussing
plans of travel.

"Then you don't intend to stay long in Paris," said one of the
strangers to Morton.

"Not at present. I shall set out in a few days for Vienna, and then go
down the Danube."

"That's an original idea. What will you find there worth seeing?"

"It's a fancy of mine. There is no place in Europe where one can see
such a conglomerate of nations and races as in the provinces along the
Danube. I like to see the human animal in all his varieties,--that's
my specialty."

"But what facilities will you find there for travelling?"

"O, I shall be content with any that offer; the vehicles of the
country, whatever they are. I don't believe in travelling _en grand
seigneur_. By mixing with the people, and doing at Rome as the Romans
do, one learns in a month more than he could learn in ten years by the
other way."

"You'll take your servant with you, I suppose."

"No. I shall discharge him when I leave Paris."

After conversing for some time longer, Morton and the two young men
left the room, while Vinal still remained faithful to the attractions
of his omelet. He was interrupted by the advent of the small man who
had accosted Morton in the steamer, and had since favored him with his
company from Liverpool to Paris.

"Well, here's a pretty business, damned if there isn't," said the new
arrival, seating himself indignantly.

"What's the matter?" asked Vinal.

"What's the matter! Why, there's a good deal the matter. There was a
young man in Philadelphy named Wilkins,--John Wilkins,--I've known him
ever sence he was knee high to a toad, and a likelier young feller
there isn't in the States. He was goin' on to make a right smart,
active, business man, too. Well, he was clerk in one of the biggest
drug concerns south of New York city,--Gooch and Scammony,--I tell
you, they do a tall business out west, and no mistake. No, _sir_,
Gooch and Scammony ain't hardly got their beat in the drug business
nowhere."

"But what about the clerk?"

"What about him? Why, that's just what I was going on to tell you.
Well, John, he had a little money laid up; so he thought he'd just
come out and see a bit of the world. Well, there was a German there at
Philadelphy who had to cut stick from the old country on account of
some political muss or other. John and he worn't on good terms;--it
was about a gal, John says. However, jest about the time John talked
of coming out to Europe, the German comes and makes it up, and
pretends to be friends again. 'John,' says he, 'I've got relations out
to Vienny, where I come from; first-rate, genteel folks; now,' says
he, 'perhaps you might like me to make you acquainted with 'em. They'd
do the handsome thing by you, and no mistake.' 'Well,' says John, 'I
don't mind if you do.' So the German gives him some letters; and, sure
enough, they treated him very civil; but the very next morning, before
he was out of bed, up comes the police, and carries him off to jail;
and that, I guess, would have been about the last we'd ever have seen
of John Wilkins, if, by the slimmest ghost of a chance, he hadn't got
word to our minister, and the minister blowed out so hard about it,
that they just let John go, and said they was very sorry, and it was
all a mistake, but he'd better make tracks out of Austria in double
quick time, because if he didn't, they didn't know as there was any
body there would undertake to be responsible for what might happen."

Here the orator's breath quite failed, and he coughed till his hatchet
face turned blue. Vinal reflected in silence.

"Wasn't he an Amerikin?" pursued the small man, "and didn't he have an
Amerikin passport in his pocket? I expect to go where I please, and
keep what company I please,--uh,--uh,--uh. I'm an Amerikin,--uh,--and
that's enough; and a considerable wide margin to
spare,--uh,--uh,--uh."

"But what evidence is there that the German had any thing to do with
the affair?"

"That's the deused part of the business. There ain't no evidence to
fix it on him."

"Were the letters he gave your friend sealed?"

"Not a bit of it. They was open, and read jest as fair as need be."

"Probably he was imprudent, and said something which compromised him.
Stone walls, you know, have ears in Austria."

"Well, I don't know."

"It is very easy for an American to get into trouble with the Austrian
government. There is a natural antipathy between them."

"Damn such a government."

"Exactly; you're quite right there."

"Why, if you or me was to go down to Austria, and happen to rip out
what we thought of 'em, where's the guarantee that they wouldn't stick
us down in some of their prisons, and nobody be any wiser for it?"

"There is no guarantee at all."

"I've heerd said that such things has happened."

"No doubt of it. About this German,--I should advise your friend to be
cautious how he accuses him of any intention of having him arrested.
If the letters had been sealed, there might have been some ground for
suspicion; but as the case stands, I do not see how there can be any.
And it is a little hard upon a man, when he meant to do a kindness, to
charge him with playing such a trick as that."

"Well, it may be as you think. It looks like enough, any way."

The small man addressed himself to his breakfast. Vinal sat playing
with his spoon, his brain filled with busy and feverish thoughts.

In a few minutes, a messenger from an American banking house came in,
looking about the room as if in search of some person. Observing
Vinal, whom he had seen before, he asked if he knew where Mr. Morton
was.

"Letters there for me?" demanded Vinal, taking several which the
messenger held in his hand, and glancing over the directions.

"No, sir, they are all Mr. Morton's."

At that instant Vinal discovered the well-remembered handwriting of
Edith Leslie. His pale face grew a shade paler.

"O, Mr. Morton's! I don't know where you will find him," and he gave
back the letters to the messenger, who presently left the room.

Vinal sat for a few minutes more, brooding in silence; then slowly
rose, and walked away. In going towards the room of the hotel which he
occupied, he passed along a corridor, opposite the end of which opened
a parlor occupied by Morton. The door was open, and Vinal, as he
advanced, could plainly see his rival within. Morton had been on the
point of going out. His hat and gloves lay on the table at his side;
near them were three or four sealed letters; another--Vinal well knew
from whom--was open in his hands; and as he stood bending over it,
there was a sunlight in the eye of the successful lover which shot
deadly envy into the breast of Vinal. Hate and jealousy gnawed and
rankled at his heart.



CHAPTER XXXI.

  Though I do hate him as I do hell pains,
  I must throw out a flag and sign of love.--_Othello_.


That day Vinal drove to the Quartier Latin, called upon his friend
Richards, and asked him to dine at the Trois Frères Provençaux. Mr.
Richards was never known to decline such an invitation.

To the Trois Frères accordingly they repaired. Richards, whose social
position at home was much inferior to that of his entertainer, thought
the latter a capital fellow; especially when Vinal flattered him by
deferring to his better taste and experience in the ordering of the
dinner. But when, after nightfall, they issued forth again upon the
open area of the Palais Royal, the delicate Vinal shivered with the
cold. A chill wind and a dreary rain had set in, and Vinal, always
cautious in such matters, said that before proceeding on their
evening's amusements, he would go to Meurice's and get an overcoat.

The overcoat being found, Vinal, buttoned to the chin, came down the
stairway, and rejoined Richards.

Morton had just before sent a servant for a carriage, to drive to the
opera, and was waiting wrapped in his cloak, on the steps outside the
door.

"What shall our first move be?" asked Richards of Vinal, as they
passed out.

"Whatever you like."

"You had better give the word."

"Then suppose we go and see your friend, the professor."

"Who the deuse is Richards's friend, the professor?" thought Morton,
as the others passed without observing him.

"The professor" was a cant term for Mr. Henry Speyer.

Speyer lived in an obscure part of the Latin quarter; and Richards,
who was vain of his intimacy with this scoundrel, as indicating how
deeply he was versed in Paris life, approached his lodging with much
circumspection, by dim and devious routes.

"My name is Wilton, and I hail from New Orleans," said Vinal, as they
reached the patriot's threshold.

As Mr. Wilton, of New Orleans, then, Vinal became known to Mr. Henry
Speyer. The latter's quarters were any thing but commodious or
attractive; and Richards invited him to a _petit souper_ at his own
lodgings, which were not very remote. Leaving Speyer to make his own
way thither, he proceeded to summon two additional guests, in the
persons of two friends of his own, his favorite partners at the
Chaumière. With the aid of wine and cigars, the party became, in time,
very animated. Vinal, who had a quick and pungent wit, drew upon
himself much applause, and Speyer regarded him with especial
commendation. But while he played his part thus successfully, he was
studying his companions, as a scholar studies a book; studiously
keeping himself cool; sipping a few drops of his wine, and slyly
spilling the rest under the table, while he did his best to stimulate
the others, and especially Speyer, to drink. Speyer drank, indeed, but
the wine seemed to produce no more effect on him than water. He
remained as cool as Vinal himself. The latter, young as he was, was a
close and penetrating judge of men; and when, at two o'clock in the
morning, he returned to his hotel, he carried with him the conviction
that, in his present beggared condition, a few hundred francs would
bribe the patriot to commit any moderately safe villany.

The evening, however, had had one result which Vinal regretted. Mr.
Richards, being obfuscated with champagne, had repeatedly called him
by his true name; so that Speyer was fully aware that his new
acquaintance was not Mr. Wilton, of New Orleans, but Mr. Horace Vinal,
of Boston.



CHAPTER XXXII.

  And, far the blackest there, the traitor friend.--_Dryden_.


Several days had passed, during which Vinal contrived to have more
than one private interview with his new acquaintance, Speyer. He had
sounded him with much astuteness; found that he could serve him; and
was confirmed in his assurance that he would.

Morton, he knew, was to leave Paris on the next morning. The time to
act was now, or never.

At about three in the afternoon, he discovered his rival sauntering
along an avenue in the garden of the Tuileries; and walking up behind,
he joined him.

"There are some of us," said Vinal, after a few moments' conversation,
"going to Versailles to-morrow. Will you go?"

"I mean to leave Paris to-morrow."

"To-morrow! That's very sudden."

"I shall come back again in a few months."

"Your first move is to Italy, I think you said."

"No, to Austria and the Danube."

"O, I remember; it is West who is going to Italy. I think he has
chosen the better route of the two."

"Yes, as far as history and works of art are concerned. But the
Austrian provinces are the best field for me. I am mounted on a hobby,
you know, and my time is so short that I must make the most of what I
have."

"You wish to see the people--the different races--is that it?"

"Yes."

"You ought to be well booked up before you go, or you'll lose time. By
the way, I made an acquaintance a little while ago in the diligence
from Strasburg--a very agreeable man, a professor at Berlin----"

"O, the professor whom you and Richards were going to see, the other
night."

A thrill shot through Vinal's nerves; but the unsuspecting Morton
almost instantly relieved his terror.

"I was standing on the steps as you went out, and heard you say that
you were going to visit him. From the way in which you spoke, I
imagined him to be some professor of the noble art of self-defence."

"Ha, ha!" laughed Vinal, not quite recovered from his surprise; "no,
not precisely that; Speyer is a philologist--that's his department."

"And Richards knows him, too?"

"Yes, through my introduction."

"From your calling him 'his friend, the professor,' I imagined that
the acquaintance began the other way."

"Yes, his friend, with a vengeance. Confound the fellow, as I was
walking with him the other day, we met Speyer, and I, thinking no
harm, introduced them; but it wasn't twenty-four hours before Richards
was at him to borrow money, which Speyer let him have. I dare say
Richards has bled you as well."

"No."

"No? Then you are luckier than I am. I advise you to keep out of his
way, or he'll pin you before you know it."

"I should judge as much."

"I spoke of Professor Speyer because he was born in some outlandish
corner of the Austrian empire,--Croatia, I think he told me,--and had
his head full of political soap bubbles founded on the distribution of
races in that part of the world. He put me to sleep half a dozen times
with talking about Pansclavism and the manifest destinies of the
Sclavic peoples. He is the very man for you; and I am sorry I didn't
think of it before."

"Well," said Morton, "I must blunder through as I can."

"Are you at leisure? I'll go with you this afternoon, if you like, and
call on him."

"I dare say my visit would bore him."

"Get him upon the races in the Austrian empire, and he will be more
apt to bore you. Are you free at four o'clock?" pursued Vinal, looking
at his watch.

"Yes, quite so."

"Very well. I'm going now to my tailor's. Every genuine American, you
know, must have a new fit-out in Paris. I'll meet you at Meurice's at
four, and we'll go from there to Speyer's."

Vinal had three quarters of an hour to spare. He spent a part of them
in forging the next link of his chain. At four he rejoined Morton, and
they walked out together.

"I think you'll like Professor Speyer," said Vinal. "I have become
quite intimate with him, on the strength of a fortnight's
acquaintance. He urges me to go to Hungary and Transylvania, and
offered me introductions to his friends there. It would not be a bad
plan for you to ask him for letters. They would not make you
acquainted with the Austrian _haut ton_, but they would bring you into
contact with men of his own stamp,--people of knowledge and
intelligence, who could be of great service to you, and with whom you
needn't be on terms of much ceremony.--Here's the place;--he lives
here."

It was a lodging house on the Rue Rivoli. Vinal rang the bell. The
porter appeared.

"Is Professor Speyer at home?"

"_Non, monsieur; il est sorti._"

Vinal had just bribed the man to give this answer.

"That's unlucky," he said. "Well, if you like, we can come again this
evening."

"I am engaged to dine this evening at Madame ----'s."

Vinal had known of this engagement.

"I don't see, then, but that you will lose your chance with Speyer.
Well, _fortune de guerre_. I should like to have had you see him,
though."

And they walked towards the Boulevards, conversing on indifferent
matters.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

  Whose nature is so far from doing evil
  That he suspects none; on whose foolish honesty
  My practices ride easy.--_King Lear_.


Early the next morning, Morton was writing in his room, when Vinal
came in.

"Are you still bent on going off to-day?"

"Yes, within an hour."

"I was passing last evening by Professor Speyer's lodgings, and,
seeing a light at his window, went in. I told him that I had come to
find him in the afternoon with an old acquaintance of mine, who was
going to the Austrian provinces, and that I had advised you to ask
introductions from him to his friends there. He was a good deal
interested, as I knew he would be, in what I told him about the
objects of your journey. 'I'm very sorry,' he said, 'that I did not
see your friend, for I could have given him letters which I don't
doubt would have been of great use to him. But wait a few minutes,'
said he, 'and I'll write a few lines now.' Here they are," continued
Vinal, giving to Morton four or five notes of introduction. "You can
put them in your pocket, and use them or not, as you may find
convenient."

"I'm very much obliged to you," said Morton. "Tell Professor Speyer
that I am greatly indebted to his kindness, and shall be happy to
avail myself of it. You are looking very pale; are you ill?"

"No, not at all," stammered Vinal, "but, what is nearly as bad, I have
been kept awake all night with a raging toothache."

He had been awake all night, but not with toothache.

"There is one consolation for that trouble; cold steel will cure it."

"Yes, but the remedy is none of the pleasantest. I won't interrupt you
any longer. Good by. I wish you a pleasant journey."

He shook hands with Morton, and, pressing his haggard cheek, as if to
stifle the pain, left the room.

With a new letter from Edith Leslie before him, Morton saw the world
in rose tint. Happiness blinded him, and he was in no mood to doubt of
human nature. He blamed himself for his harsh opinions of Vinal.

"It's very generous of him to interest himself at this time, in my
affairs. ''Tis my nature's plague to spy into abuses.' I have
misjudged him. He is a better fellow than I ever took him for."

The notes were written in a peculiarly neat, small hand, and bore the
signature of Henry Speyer. They all spoke of Morton as interested in a
common object with the person addressed; but, with this exception,
there was nothing in them which drew his attention, especially as they
were in German, a language with which he was not very familiar. As for
the circumstance of their having been given at all to a person whom
the writer had never seen, Morton accounted for it on the score of the
good natured professor's desire to oblige his valued friend Vinal.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

  Things bad begun make strong themselves by ill.--_Macbeth_.


The requisites of a successful villain are manifold. The toughened
conscience, the ready wit, the sage experience, the mind tutored, like
Iago, in all qualities of human dealing,--all these, in some
reasonable measure, Vinal had; but he miserably lacked the vulgar, but
no less needful requisite of a sound bodily fibre to support the
workings of his brain. His mind was a good lever with a feeble
fulcrum; a gun mounted on a tottering rampart. When every breath of
emotion that touches the fine-strung organism quivers along the
electric chord to the brain, kindling there strange perturbations,
then philosophy must lower her tone, and stoicism itself must soon
confess that its only resource is to avoid the enemy with whom it
cannot cope. Vinal was but ill fitted to act the part he had
undertaken. The excitements of villany were too much for him. Peace of
mind was as needful to him as food and drink. He had been battling all
his life against what he imagined to be a defect of his mental forces,
but which had, in the main, no deeper root than in the sensitiveness
of his bodily constitution. In prudence and common sense, he was bound
to seek asylum in that blissful serenity, that benignant calm, said to
be the unfailing attendant on piety and good works. Never did Nature
give a sharper hint than she gave to Vinal to eschew evil courses, and
leaving rascality to tougher nerves, to tread the placid paths of
virtue and discretion. Vinal saw fit to disregard the hint, and the
consequences became somewhat grievous.

While his intrigue was in progress, his nerves had given him no great
trouble. Hate and jealousy absorbed him. He was steadfast in his
purpose to get rid of his rival. But now that the mine was laid, and
the match lighted, a change began to come upon him. It was his maiden
felony; his first _début_ in the distinct character of a scoundrel;
and, though his conscience was none of the liveliest, it sufficed to
visit him with some qualms. Anxieties, doubts, fears, began to prey
upon him; sleep failed him; his nerves were set more and more on edge;
in short, body and mind, mutually acting on each other, were fast
bringing him to a state quite adverse to the maxims of his philosophy.

When a sophomore in college, his favorite reading had been Foster's
Essay on Decision of Character, and he had aspired to realize in his
own person the type of character therein set forth; the man of steel,
who, in his firm march towards his ends, knows neither doubts, nor
waverings, nor relentings. Of this ideal he was now falling lamentably
short; and as, at two o'clock in the morning, he rose from his
restless bed, and paced his chamber to and fro, vainly upbraiding his
weakness, and struggling to reason down the rebellious vibration of
his nerves, he was any thing but the inexorable hero of his boyish
fancy.

"The thing is done,"--so he communed with himself,--"it was
deliberately done, and well done. That hound is chained and muzzled,
or will be so soon. For a time, at least, he is out of my path. But is
he? What if he should escape the trap? What if those men to whom I
have sent him are less an abomination in the eyes of the government
than there is reason to think them? No doubt he will be compromised;
no doubt he will get into difficulty; but if he should get out again!
if, within a year from this he should come home to charge me with
trapanning him! Pshaw! he could prove nothing. He would be thought
malicious if he accused me. But he may suspect!" and this idea
sufficed to fill his excited mind with fresh agitation. For three
nights he had been without sleep; and now his irritable system was
wrought almost to the point of fever.

"Half measures are nothing! The nail must be driven home and clinched!
I must make sure of him." And early in the morning he went to find
Speyer.

Speyer was not to be found. In his eagerness, he went again and again
to seek him, though he knew that there was risk in doing so. At length
he succeeded; and in spite of his resolute and long-practised
self-control, his confederate saw at a glance, in his shining eye,
flushed cheek, and the nervous compression of his lips, that he was
under a great, though a painfully repressed excitement.

"Well, monsieur, do you hear any thing from your friend?"

"No, it is not time to hear."

"You will have to wait a long while before the time comes."

"Your letters were very well so far as they go; but the thing should
be done thoroughly. What I wish you to do is this. Write to him a
letter, implicating him in your revolutionary plot. He will be under
suspicion. Every letter sent to him will be stopped and opened by the
police."

"If that is done, I will warrant you quit of him; at least for some
years to come."

"They will imprison him," said Vinal, nervously, "but that will be the
whole,--his life will be in no danger."

"His life!" returned Speyer, glancing sidelong at his visitor; "don't
be troubled on that score. They won't kill him."

"Then write the letter," said Vinal, laying a rouleau of gold on the
table, "and write it in such a way that it shall spring the trap on
him, and keep him caged till doomsday."

The letter was written. Vinal read it, re-read it, sealed it, and with
a quivering hand thrust it into the post office.



CHAPTER XXXV.

  Thy hope is young, thy heart is strong, but yet a day may be,
  When thou shalt weep in dungeon deep, and none thy weeping see.
                                               _The Count of Saldana_.


Morton had left Vienna, and was journeying in the diligence on the
confines of Styria. The cumbrous machine had been lumbering on all
night. Awaking at daybreak from his comfortless sleep, and looking
through the breath-bedimmed panes before him, he saw the postilion's
shoulders wearily jolting up and down with the motion of the lazy
horses. He had one fellow-traveller in the compartment which he
occupied, a man of thirty-five or thereabouts, who had taken the
diligence late the evening before, and who now, his shoulders
supported by the leather straps which hung for the purpose from the
roof, and his head tumbling forward on his chest, was dozing with a
ludicrously grim expression of countenance. At length a sudden jolt
awakened him; he started, shook himself, looked about him, inclined
his head by way of salutation to his fellow-traveller, and opened a
conversation with a remark on the chillness of the morning. After
conversing for a time in French, the stranger said in excellent
English, "I see there is no need of our speaking French, for by your
accent I judge that you are English. I myself have a little of the
English about me; that is to say, I was four years at Oxford, though I
am German by birth."

"I am not English, though my ancestors were."

"You are American, then?" said the stranger, looking at him with some
curiosity; and from this beginning, their acquaintance ripened fast.
The German, regarding his companion as a young man of more
intelligence than experience, conversed with an ease and frankness
which fast gained upon Morton's confidence. He proved, indeed, a
storehouse of information, discoursing of the people, the country, and
even the government, with little reserve, and an admirable copiousness
and minuteness of knowledge. At length he asked Morton if he had any
acquaintance in Austria.

"None, excepting one or two persons at Vienna, to whom I had letters."

"Then you have probably made agreeable acquaintances. The society of
Vienna is a very pleasant one."

"My letters were, or purported to be, to _savans_ and literary men."

"There, too, you should have found persons well worth the meeting."

"I have no doubt of it."

"You do not speak," said the investigating stranger, with a smile,
"like one who has been much pleased with his experience."

"I have had no opportunity to judge fairly of the Viennese _savans_."

"Your letters gave you no opportunity?"

"They were given me at Paris, in a rather singular way; and, to say
the truth, the persons to whom they introduced me were so little to my
taste, that after delivering one or two of them, I determined not to
use the rest."

"You appear to have been very unfortunate. Will you allow me to ask to
whom your letters were addressed?"

"They were written by a person whom I never saw, and were given to me
by a friend,--an acquaintance,--of mine, as a means of gaining
information about the country; such information as that for which I am
indebted to you. I have been a good deal perplexed as to the character
of the persons to whom they were written."

"Very probably I could aid you."

Morton mentioned the names of the men he had seen.

The German at first looked puzzled, then amazed, then distrustful.

"Your letters were got for you by a friend of yours?"

"Yes."

"And were written by----"

"A professor from Berlin, named Speyer,--Henry Speyer."

"Henry Speyer!" repeated the German, in astonishment.

"You were saying that you had lived for some years at Berlin. Perhaps
you can tell me who and what he is."

"I know of no Professor Henry Speyer at Berlin."

"This man, I am told, is well known as a philologist."

"There is a Henry Speyer who is a philologist, so far as speaking
every language in Europe can make him one; but he was never a
professor in Berlin or any where else."

Morton looked perplexed. The German studied his face for a moment, and
then said,--

"You say that a friend of yours gave you letters from Henry Speyer to
the men you just named?"

"Yes."

"I beg your pardon! Have you ever quarrelled with your friend? Are you
on terms with your friend's mistress? or do you stand between your
friend and a fortune?"

A cold thrill passed through Morton's frame. There was an approach to
truth in both the two last suppositions.

"Either you are very much deeper than I know how to comprehend you, or
else you are the victim of a plot."

"What kind of plot?" demanded the startled Morton; "who is Speyer, and
who are the other men?"

"I will tell you. Speyer is an intriguer, a revolutionist, a man in
every way infamous. As for his being a professor, he is no more a
professor than he is a prime minister, and you may ascribe what
motives you please to your friend for giving him the name. He dares
not set foot in Austria. If he did, it would go very hard with him.
The other men are of the same kidney--his aiders, abetters, fellow
conspirators; known or suspected to be plotting for the overthrow of
the government."

"Then why are they at liberty?"

"Do you call it liberty to be day and night under the eye of the
police--to be dogged and watched every hour of their lives? They serve
as a sort of decoy. All who hold communication with them are noted
down as dangerous; and my only wonder is, that you have not before
this heard from the police."

"And what would you advise me to do?"

"Get out of Austria as soon and as quietly as you can. When you have
passed the frontier you will be safe, and not before."



CHAPTER XXXVI.

            Monsieur, j'ai deux mots à vous dire;
  Messieurs les maréchaux, dont j'ai commandement,
  Vous mandent de venir les trouver promptement,
  Monsieur.--_Le Misanthrope_.


That evening Morton arrived at the post house at ----. He was alone,
his companion of the morning, whose route lay in another direction,
having left him long before. At the head of the ancient staircase, the
host welcomed him with a "good night," and ushered him into a large,
low, wooden room, where some thirty men and women were smoking,
eating, and lounging among the tables and benches. Old Germans talked
over their beer pots, and puffed at their pipes; young ones laughed
and bantered with the servant girls. A Frenchman, _en route_ for
Laibach, gulped down his bowlful of soup, sprang to the window when he
heard the postilion's horn, bounded back to finish his tumbler of
wine, then seized his cane, and dashed out in hot haste. A small, prim
student strutted to the window to watch him, pipe in hand, and an
amused grin on his face; then turned to roar for more beer, and joke
with the girl who brought it.

Morton sat alone, incensed, disturbed, anxious. He had resolved to go
no farther without taking measures to secure his own safety; and a day
or two, he hoped, would place him out of the reach of danger.
Meanwhile, what with his horror at the villany which had duped him,
his anger with himself at being duped, and the consciousness that the
hundred-handed despotism of Austria might at any moment close its
gripe upon him, the condition of his mind was far from enviable.

As he surveyed the noisy groups around him, three men appeared at the
door. Morton sipped his wine, and watched them uneasily out of the
corner of his eye. One of them was a military officer; another was a
tall man in a civil dress; the third was the conductor of the
diligence in which Morton had travelled all day. The conductor looked
towards him significantly; the tall man inclined his head, as a token
that he understood the sign. Then approaching, hat in hand, he said
very courteously, in French,--

"Pardon, monsieur; I regret that I must give you some little trouble.
I have a carriage below; will you have the goodness to accept a seat
in it?"

"To go whither?" demanded Morton, in alarm.

"To the office of police, monsieur."

The Austrian Briareus had clutched him at last.



CHAPTER XXXVII.

  Are you called forth, from out a world of men,
  To slay the innocent? What is my offence?
  Where is the evidence that doth accuse me?
  What lawful quest have given their verdict up
  Unto the frowning judge?--_Richard III_.


"You have trifled long enough," said the commissioner; "declare what
you know, or you shall be dealt with summarily."

A long journey, manacled like a felon, and guarded by dragoons with
loaded carbines; a rigorous imprisonment, already five months
protracted; repeated examinations before a military tribunal;
cross-questionings, threats, and insults, to extort his supposed
secrets;--all these had formed a sharp transition from the halcyon
days of Vassall Morton's prosperity.

"Declare what you know, or you shall be dealt with summarily."

"I know nothing, and therefore can declare nothing."

"You have held that tone long enough. Do you imagine that we are to be
deceived by your inventions? Tell what you know, or in twenty minutes
you will be led to the rampart and shot."

"I am in your power, and you can do what you will."

The commissioner spoke in German to the corporal of the guard, who
took Morton into custody, and was leading him from the room.

"Stop," cried the official, from his seat.

Morton turned.

"You are destroying yourself, young man."

"It is false. You are murdering me."

"Do not answer me. I tell you, you are murdering yourself. Are you the
fool to fling away your life in a fit of obstinacy?"

"Are you the villain to shoot innocent men in cold blood?"

The commissioner swore a savage oath, and with an angry gesture sent
the corporal from the room.

The corporal led his prisoner along the corridor, which had grown
ruefully familiar to Morton's eye; but instead of following the way
which led to the latter's cell, he turned into a much wider and more
commodious passage. Here, at his open door, stood Padre Luca,
confessing priest of the castle.

Padre Luca had mistaken his calling, when he took it upon him to
discharge such a function. He was too tender of heart, too soft of
nature; ill seasoned, moreover, to his work, for he had been but a
week in the fortress, and this was the first victim whom it behooved
him to prepare for death. And when he saw the young prisoner, and
learned the instant doom under which he stood, his nerves grew
tremulous, and he found no words to usher in his ghostly counsels.

Corporal Max Kubitski, with a face unperturbed as a block, unfettered
Morton's wrists, left him with the confessor, and withdrew, placing a
soldier on guard at the door without. Morton sat silent and calm. The
hand of Padre Luca quivered with agitation.

"My son," he began; and here his voice faltered.

"I trust," he said, finding his tongue again, "that you are a faithful
child of our holy mother, the church, and that the heresies and
infidelities of these times----"

"Father," said Morton, willingly adopting the filial address to the
kind-hearted priest, "I am a Protestant. I was born and bred among
Protestants. I respect your ancient church for the good she has done
in ages past, and for the good men who have held her faith; but I do
not believe her doctrine, nor approve her practice."

The priest's face betrayed his discomposure.

"My son, my dear son, it is not too late; it is never too late. Listen
to the truth; renounce your fatal errors. I will baptize you; and when
you are gone, I will pray our great saint of Milan to intercede for
you, and I will say masses for your soul."

Morton smiled faintly, and shook his head.

"I thank you; but it is too late for conversion. I must die in my
heresy, as I have lived."

"So young!" exclaimed Padre Luca; "and so calm on the brink of
eternity! Ah, it is hard to die, when so much is left to enjoy; but it
is worse to plunge from present suffering into everlasting despair."
And he proceeded to give a most graphic picture of post-mortal
torments, drawn from the Spiritual Exercises of Saint Ignatius, a work
very familiar to his meditations. This dire imagery failed to convince
the dying heretic.

"My mind is made up. I cannot believe your doctrine, but I can feel
your kindness. You have spoken the first friendly words that I have
heard for months."

"It is hard that you should die so unprepared, and so young. You have
relatives? You have friends?"

"More than friends! More than friends!" groaned Morton. And as a flood
of recollection swept over him, his heart for a moment was sick with
anguish.

"Come with me," whispered Padre Luca. He led the way into the chapel
of the castle, which adjoined his room. Here he bowed and crossed
himself before an altar, over which was displayed a painting of the
Virgin.

"Our Blessed Mother is full of love, full of mercy. See,--hang this
round your neck"--placing in his hand a small medal on which her image
was stamped. "Go and kneel before that altar, and repeat these words,"
pointing to the Ave Maria in a little book of devotion. "Call on her
with a true heart, and she will have pity. She cannot see you perish,
body and soul. She will appear, and teach you the truth."

There was so much of earnestness and sincerity in his words, that
Morton felt nothing but gratitude as he answered,--

"It would be no better than a mockery, if I should do as you wish. I
cannot----"

Here a clear, deep voice from the adjacent room interrupted him.

"Mother of heaven!" cried Padre Luca, greatly agitated.

"I am ready," answered Morton, in a voice firm as that which summoned
him.

He returned to the priest's apartment, and in the doorway stood the
athletic corporal, like the statue of a modern Mars.

"_Mio figlio! Mio caro figlio!_" faltered Padre Luca, laying a
tremulous hand on the young man's shoulder. The kindly accents of the
melodious Italian fell on his ear like a strain of music.

"You must not die now; you are not prepared. I will go to the
commissioner. He will grant time."

He was pushing past the corporal, when Morton gently checked him.

"I thank you, father, a thousand times; but if I must die, there is no
mercy in a half hour's delay. Let me go. This sentence may be, after
all, a kindness."

The corporal took him into custody; and, with three soldiers before
and three behind, he moved towards his place of execution. He seemed
to himself like one not fully awake; the stern reality would not come
home to his thoughts, until, as he was mounting a flight of steps
leading to the rampart, a vivid remembrance glowed upon him of that
summer evening when, in her father's garden, Edith Leslie had accepted
his love. It was with a desperate effort of pride and resolution that
he quelled the emotion which rose choking to his throat, and murmuring
a petition for her safety, walked forward with an unchanged face.

A light shone in upon the passage, and they stood in a moment upon the
rampart, whence a panorama of sunny mountains opened on the view. It
was a space of some extent, paved with flag-stones, and compassed with
battlements and walls. On one side stood, leaning on their muskets, a
file of Bohemian soldiers, in their close frogged uniforms and long
mustaches. These, with their officer, Corporal Kubitski, with his six
men, a sub-official acting for the commissioner, and Padre Luca, were
the only persons present, besides the prisoner. The latter was placed
before the Bohemians, at the distance of twelve or fourteen paces. The
corporal and his men drew aside.

"Now," demanded the deputy, "will you confess what you know, or will
you die?"

"I have told you, once and again, that I have nothing to confess."

"Then take the consequence of your obstinacy."

He motioned to the officer. A word of command was given. Each soldier
loaded with ball, and the ramrods rattled as they sent home the
charge. Another command, and the cocked muskets rose to the level,
concentrating their aim against the prisoner's breast.

"If you will speak, speak now. You have a quarter of a minute to save
yourself." And the deputy took out his watch.

Morton turned his head slowly, and looked at him for an instant in
silence.

"Speak, speak," cried Padre Luca, pressing towards him; "tell him what
you know."

The sharp voice of the officer warned him back.

Morton stood with compressed lips, and every nerve at its tension, in
instant expectation of the volley; already, in fancy, he felt the
bullets plunging through his breast; but not a muscle flinched, and he
fronted the deadly muzzles with an unblenching eye. The deputy
scrutinized his face, and turned away, muttering. At that moment a
man, who through the whole scene had stood hidden in the entrance of a
passage, ran out with a pretence of great haste and earnestness, and
called to stop the execution, since the commissioner had granted a
reprieve. In fact, the whole affair was a sham, played off upon the
prisoner to terrify him into confession.

The Bohemians recovered their muskets, and the bewildered Morton was
once more in custody of the corporal, who led him, guarded as before,
back towards his cell. Padre Luca, who thought that an interposition
of the Virgin had softened the commissioner's heart, hastened to his
oratory to pray for the heretic's conversion. Faint and heartsick,
Morton scarcely knew what was passing, till he was thrust in at his
narrow door. The jailer was there, but the corporal entered also, to
aid in taking the handcuffs from his wrists.

One might have looked in vain among ten thousand to find a nobler
model of masculine proportion than this soldier. He stood more than
six feet high, and Morton, who loved to look upon a man, had often,
even in his distress, admired his martial bearing and the powerful
symmetry of his frame. His face, too, was singularly fine in its way,
and though the discipline of long habit usually banished from it any
distinct expression, yet the cast of the features, and the manly curve
of the lip, which the thick brown mustache could not wholly hide,
seemed to augur a brave, generous, and loyal nature.

More stupefied than cheered at being snatched, as he supposed, from
the jaws of death, Morton stood passive while his hands were released.
The jailer left him for a moment, and crossed over to the opposite
corner of the cell. His back was turned as he did so. The corporal's
six soldiers were all in the passage without. At that instant, Morton
felt a warm breath at his ear, and heard whispered in a barbarous
accent,--

"_Courage, mon ami! Vive la liberté! Vive l'Amerique!_"

He turned; but the martial visage of the corporal was unmoved as
bronze; and, in a moment more, the iron door clanged behind him as he
disappeared.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

  O Death, why now so slow art thou? why fearest thou to smite?
                                     _Lamentation of Don Roderick_.

  When all the blandishments of life are gone,
  The coward sneaks to death, the brave live on.--_Sewell_.


The whispered words of the corporal kindled a spark of hope in
Morton's breast; but it was destined to fade and die. Once he was sure
that he heard the tones of his voice in the passage without his cell;
but weeks passed, months passed, and he did not see him again.

And now let the curtain drop for a space of three years.

Morton was still a prisoner. Despair was at hand. He longed to die.
His longing at length seemed near its accomplishment. A raging fever
seized him, and for days he lay delirious, balanced on the brink of
death. But his constitution endured the shock; and late one night he
lay on his pallet, exhausted, worn to a skeleton, yet fully conscious
of his situation.

The locks clashed, the hinges jarred, and a physician of the prison, a
bulky German, stood at his side.

He felt his patient's pulse.

"Shall I die, or not?" demanded the sick man.

"Die!" echoed the German, a laugh gurgling within him, like the first
symptom of an earthquake; "all men die, but this sickness will never
kill you. It would have killed ninety-nine out of a hundred; but you
are as tough as a rhinoceros."

Morton turned to the wall, and cursed the hour when he was born.

The German gave a prescription to his attendant; the locks clashed
again behind him, and Morton was left alone with his misery.

The lamp in the passage without shone through the grated opening above
the door, and shed a square of yellow light on the black, damp stones
of the dungeon. They sweated and trickled with a clammy moisture; and
the brick pavement was wet, as if the clouds had rained upon it.
Morton lay motionless as a dead man. The crisis of his disorder was
past; but its effects were heavy upon him, and his mind shared the
deep exhaustion of his body. Perilous thoughts rose upon him, spectral
and hollow-eyed.

"By what right am I doomed to this protracted misery? By what justice,
when a refuge is at hand, am I forbidden to fly to it? I have only to
drag myself from this bed, and rest for a few moments on those wet,
cold bricks, and all the medicines in Austria could not keep me many
days a prisoner. And who could blame me? Who could say that I
destroyed myself? It is not suicide. It is but aiding kindly nature to
do a deed of mercy."

He repelled the thought; but it returned. He repelled it again, but
still it returned. The insidious demon was again and again at his ear,
stealing back with a noiseless gliding, smoothly commending her poison
to his lips, soothing his worn spirit as the vampire fans its
slumbering victim with its wings. But his better nature, not without a
higher appeal, fortified itself against her, and struggled to hold its
ground.

When the French besieged Saragossa; when her walls crumbled before
their batteries; when, day by day, through secret mine or open
assault, foot by foot, they won their way inward towards her heart;
when treason within aided force without, and famine and pestilence
leagued against her,--still her undespairing children refused to
yield. Sick men dragged themselves to the barricades, women and boys
pointed the cannon, and her heroic banner still floated above the
wreck.

Thus, spent with disease, gnawed with pertinacious miseries, assailed
by black memories of the past, and blacker forebodings of the future,
did Morton maintain his weary battle with despair.



CHAPTER XXXIX.

                   Who would lose,
  Though full of pain, this intellectual being,
  These thoughts that wander through eternity?

  To be weak is miserable,
  Doing or suffering.--_Paradise Lost_.


Morton recovered slowly. The influences about him were any thing but
favorable to a quick convalescence, and it was months before he was
himself again. Even then, though his health seemed confirmed, a deeper
cloud remained upon his spirits: his dungeon seemed more dark and
gloomy, his prospects more desperate.

One day he paced his cell in a mood of more than usual depression.

"Fools and knaves are at large; robbery and murder have full scope;
vanity and profligacy run their free career; then why is honest effort
paralyzed, and buried here alive? There are those in these
vaults,--men innocent of crime as I,--men who would have been an honor
to their race,--who have passed a score of years in this living death.
And canting fools would console them with saying that 'all is for the
best.' I will sooner believe that the world is governed by devils, and
that the prince of them all is bodied in Metternich. Why is there not
in crushed hope, and stifled wrath, and swelling anguish, and frenzy,
and despair, a force to burst these hellish sepulchres, and blow them
to the moon!

"It is but a weak punishment to which Milton dooms his ruined angel.
Action,--enterprise,--achievement,--a hell like that is heaven to the
cells of Ehrenberg. He should have chained him to a rock, and left him
alone to the torture of his own thoughts; the unutterable agonies of a
mind preying on itself for want of other sustenance. Action!--mured in
this dungeon, the starved soul gasps for it as the lungs for air.
'Action, action, action!--all in all! What is life without it? A
marsh, a quagmire, a rotten, stagnant pool. It is its own reward. The
chase is all; the prize nothing. The huntsmen chase the fox all day,
and, when they have caught her, fling her to their hounds for a
worthless vermin. Alexander wept that he had no more worlds to
conquer. What did it profit him that a conquered world lay already at
his feet? The errant knights who roamed the world with their
mistress's glove on their helmet, achieving impossibilities in her
name,--which of them could have endured to live in peace with her for
a six-month? The crusader master of Jerusalem, Cortes with Mexico
subdued, any hero when his work is done, falls back to the ranks of
common men. His lamp is out, his fire quenched; and what avails the
stale, lack-lustre remnant of his days?

"Action! the panacea of human ills; the sure resource of misery; the
refuge of bad consciences; a maelstroom, in whose giddy vortex saints
and villains may whirl alike. How like a madman some great criminal,
some Macbeth, will plunge on through his slough of blood and
treachery, frantic to dam out justice at every chink, and bulwark
himself against fate; clinching crime with crime; giving conscience no
time to stab; finding no rest; but still plunging on, desperate and
blind! How like a madman some pious anchorite, fervent to win heaven,
will pile torture on torture, fast, and vigil, and scourge, made
wretched daily with some fresh scruple, delving to find some new depth
of self-abasement, and still struggling on unsatisfied, insatiable of
penance, till the grave devours him! Human activity!--to pursue a
security which is never reached, a contentment which eludes the grasp,
some golden consummation which proves but hollow mockery; to seize the
prize, to taste it, to fling it away, and reach after another! This
cell, where I thought myself buried and sealed up from knowledge, is,
after all, a school of philosophy. It teaches a dreary wisdom of its
own. Through these stone walls I can see the follies of the world more
clearly than when I was in the midst of them. A dreary wisdom; and yet
not wholly dreary. There is a power and a consolation in it. Misery is
the mind-maker; the revealer of truth; the spring of nobleness; the
test, the purger, the strengthener of the spirit. Our natures are like
grapes in the wine press: they must be pressed to the uttermost before
they will give forth all their virtue.

"Why do I delude myself? What good can be wrung out of a misery like
mine? It is folly to cheat myself with hope. This hell-begotten
Austria has me fast, and will not loosen her gripe. Abroad in the free
world, fortitude will count for much. There, one can hold firm the
clefts and cracks of his tottering fortunes with the cement of an
unyielding mind; but here, it is but bare and blank endurance. Yet it
is something that I can still find heart to face my doom; that there
are still moments when I dare to meet this death-in-life, this
slow-consuming horror, face to face, and look into all its hideousness
without shrinking. To creep on to my end through years of slow decay,
mind and soul famishing in solitude, sapped and worn, eaten and
fretted away, by the droppings of lonely thought, till I find my rest
at last under these cursed stones! God! could I but die the death of a
man! De Foix,--Dundee,--Wolfe. I grudge them their bloody end. When
the fierce blood boiled highest, when the keen life was tingling
through their veins, and the shout of victory ringing in their ears,
then to be launched at a breath forth into the wilderness of space, to
sail through eternity, to explore the seas and continents of the vast
unknown! But I,--I must lie here and rot. You fool! you are tied to
the stake, and must bide the baiting as you can. Will you play the
coward? What can you gain by that? You cannot run away. What wretch,
when misery falls upon him, will not cry out, 'Take any shape but
that?' In the familiar crowd, in the daily resort, how many an
unregarded face masks a wretchedness worse than this! some shrunken,
cankered soul, palsied and world-weary, more hopelessly dungeoned than
you. Crush down your anguish, choke down your groan, and say,
'Heaven's will be done.'

"Muster what courage you may. Not those spasms of valor that make the
hero of an emergency, and when the heart is on fire and the soul in
arms, bear him on to great achievement. Mine must be an inward flame,
that warms though it cannot shine; a fire, like the sacred Chaldean
fire, that must never go out; a perpetual spring, flowing up without
ceasing, to meet the unceasing need.

"And you, source of my deepest joy and my deepest sorrow,--do not fail
me now. Come to me in this darkness; let your spirit haunt this tomb
where I lie buried. In your presence, the evil of my heart shrank
back, rebuked; its good sprang up and grew in life and freshness. You
rose upon me like the sun, warming every noble germ into leaf and
flower. You streamed into my soul, banishing its mists, and gladdening
it to its depths with summer light. These are no girl's tears. Towards
myself and my own woes, I have hardened my heart like the barren
flint. I should be less than man if I did not weep when I think of
you. You must pass the appointed lot; you must fade with time and
sorrow; but to me you will be radiant still with youth and beauty. So
will I bide my hour, anchored on that pure and lofty memory, waiting
that last release when the winged spirit shall laugh at bolts and
dungeon bars."



CHAPTER XL.

  Lost liberty and love at once he bore;
  His prison pained him much, his passion more.--_Palemon and Arcite_.


Since his illness, Morton had had some of an invalid's privilege. He
had been allowed to walk on the rampart for half an hour daily. In the
distance, a great mountain range bounded the view, and, nearer, the
Croatian forest stretched its dark and wild frontier. The scene
recalled kindred scenes at home; and when he was led back to his cell,
when the heavy door clashed and the bolts grated upon him, he leaned
his forehead on his hand, and stood in fancy again among the mountains
of New England, with all their associations of health, freedom, and
golden hopes. The White Mountains seemed to rise around him like a
living presence, rugged with their rocks and pines, scarred with
avalanches, cinctured with morning mists; and, standing again on the
bank of the Saco, he seemed to feel their breezes and hear the
brawling of their waters. Then his roused fancy took a wider range;
carried him across the Alleghanies and along the Ohio, up the
Mississippi to its source, and downward to the sea, picturing the
whole like the shifting scene of a panorama.

"Ah," he thought, "if my story could be blown abroad over those
western waters! How long then should I lie here dying by inches? The
farmers of Ohio, the planters of Tennessee, the backwoodsmen of
Missouri, how would they endure such outrage to the meanest member of
their haughty sovereignty! A hopeless dream! I have looked my last on
America. My wrongs will find no voice. They and I are smothering
together, safely walled up in sound and solid mason-work. Strange, the
power of fancy! Heaven knows how or why, but at this moment I could
believe myself seated on the edge of the lake at Matherton, under the
beech trees, on a hot July noon. The leaves will not rustle; the birds
will not sing; nothing seems awake but the small yellow butterflies,
flickering over the clover tops, and the heat-loving cicala, raising
his shrill voice from the dead pear tree. The breathless pines on the
farther bank grow downward in the glassy mirror. The water lies at my
feet, pellucid as the air; the dace, the bream, and the perch glide
through it like spirits, their shadows following them over the quartz
pebbles; and, in the cove hard by, the pirate pickerel lies asleep
under the water lilies.

"On such a day, I came down the garden walk, and found Edith reading
under the shade of the maple grove. On the evening of such a day, I
heard from her lips the words which seemed to launch me upon a life of
more than human happiness. Could I have looked into the future! Could
I have lifted the glowing curtain which my fancy drew before it, the
gay and gilded illusion which covered the hideous truth! Where is she
now? Does she still walk in the garden, and read under the grove of
maples? She thinks me dead: almost four years! She has good cause to
think so; and perhaps at this moment some glib-tongued suitor, as
earnest and eager as I was, is whispering persuasion into her ear,
winning her to his hearth stone and his arms. Powers of hell, if you
would rack man's soul with torments like your own, show him first a
gleam of heaven; bathe him in celestial light; then thrust him down to
a damnation like this."

And he groaned between his set teeth, in the extremity of mental
torture.



CHAPTER XLI.

  The manly heart must sometimes cease to languish,
  Ruled by the manly brain.--_Bayard Taylor_.


One day the jailer came in at his stated hour. He was, by birth, a
German peasant, stupid and brutish enough; but, his calling
considered, he might have been worse, and, in the lack of better
company, Morton had diligently cultivated his acquaintance. On this
occasion he was more than commonly dogged and impenetrable; and, on
being taken to task for some neglect or malperformance of his
functions, he made no manner of reply, by word, look, or gesture.
Being again upbraided, he turned for a moment towards the prisoner a
face as expressive as a block of pudding stone, and then sullenly
continued his work as before. Morton laughed, partly in vexation, and
resumed his walk, of just three paces, to and fro, the length of his
cell. He followed the jailer with his eye, as the latter closed the
door.

"'God made him, and therefore let him pass for a man.' Measure the
distance from Shakspeare down to that fellow, and then from him again
down to a baboon, and which measurement would be the longer? It would
be a knotty problem to settle the question of kindred; and yet, after
all, a soul to be saved, such as it is, and an indefinite power of
expansion and refining, give Jacob strong odds against the baboon. He
has human possibilities, like the rest of us; his unit goes to make up
the sum of man; man, the riddle and marvel of the universe, the centre
of interest, the centre of wonder. When I was a boy, I pleased myself
with planning that I would study out the springs of human action, and
trace human emotion up to its sources. It was a boy's idea,--to fathom
the unfathomable, to line and map out the shifting clouds and the
ever-moving winds. De Staël speaks the truth--'Man may learn to rule
man, but only God can comprehend him.' View him under one aspect only.
Seek to analyze that pervading passion, that mighty mystic influence
which, consciously or unconsciously, directly or indirectly, prevails
in human action, and holds the sovereignty of the world. It is a vain
attempt; the reason loses and confounds itself. What human faculty can
follow the workings of a principle which at once exalts man to the
stars, and fetters him to the earth; which can fire him with
triumphant energies, or lull him into effeminate repose; kindle
strange aspirations and eager longings after knowledge; spur the
intellect to range time and space, or cramp it within narrow confines,
among mean fancies and base associations? In its mysterious
contradictions, its boundless possibilities of good and ill, it is a
type of human nature itself. The soldier saint, Loyola, was right when
he figured the conflicts of man's spirit by the collision of two
armies, ranked under adverse banners; for what is the spirit of man
but a field of war, with its marches and retreats, its ambuscades,
stratagems, surprises, skirmishings, and weary life-long sieges; its
shock of onset, and death-grapple, throat to throat? And whoever would
be wise, or safe, must sentinel his thoughts, and rule his mind by
martial law, like a city beleaguered.

"How to escape such strife! There is no escape. It has followed
hermits to their deserts; and it follows me to my prison. It will find
no end but in that decay and torpor, that callousness of faculty,
which long imprisonment is said to bring, but which, as yet, I do not
feel. Perhaps I may never feel it; for strive as I will to prepare for
the worst, by inuring my mind to contemplate it, that spark of hope
which never, it is said, dies wholly in a human heart, is still alive
in mine. And sometimes, of late, it has kindled and glowed, as now,
with a strange brightness. Is it a delusion, or the presage of some
succor not far distant? Let that be as it may, I will still cling to
the possibility of a better time. Whatever new disaster meets me, I
will confront it with some new audacity of hope. I will nail my flag
to the mast, and there it shall fly till all go down, or till flag,
mast, and hulk rot together."



CHAPTER XLII.

  But droop not; fortune at your time of life,
    Although a female moderately fickle,
  Will hardly leave you, as she's not your wife,
    For any length of days in such a pickle.--_Don Juan_.


Here his reflections were interrupted by the opening of the outer door
of his cell, and a voice somewhat sternly pronouncing his name.

It was a regulation of the prison, that twice a day an official should
visit each cell, to prevent the possibility of the tenant's attempting
to escape, or hold communication with neighboring prisoners. This duty
was commonly discharged by non-commissioned officers of certain corps
in the garrison. Each cell had two doors. The outer one was of massive
wood, guarded by iron plates and rivets. The inner door, though much
less ponderous, was secured with equal care; but in the middle of it
was an oblong aperture, much like that of a post office letter box,
though shorter and wider. The visiting official opened the outer door,
and without opening the inner, could see the prisoner by applying his
eye to this aperture.

"What are you doing there?" demanded the voice, in the usual form of
the visitor's challenge.

The voice was different from that to which Morton had been accustomed;
and, as he gave the usual answer, he looked towards the opening. Here
he saw a full, clear, blue eye, with a brown eyebrow, very well
formed; altogether a different eye from that which had formerly
presented itself,--a contracted, blackish, or mud-colored organ,
furrowed round about with the wrinkles called "crow's
feet;"--altogether a mean and vulgar-looking eye, belonging, indeed,
to a rugged old soldier, whose skull might safely have been warranted
sabre-proof.

Morton looked at the eye, and the eye looked at him, with great
intentness, seemingly, for some twenty seconds. Then it disappeared,
but returned, and resumed its scrutiny for some moments longer.

"A new broom sweeps clean," thought Morton; "that fellow means to do
his duty."

The eye vanished at length, the door closed, and the step of the
retiring visitor sounded along the flag-stones.

Morton thought little more of the matter, but busied himself with his
usual masculine employment of stocking knitting, till seven in the
evening, when the visitor came on his second round, and the same voice
challenged him through the opening. He looked up, and saw the eye
again; when to his astonishment, the low, hissing
sound--"s--s--t"--used by Italians and some other Europeans when they
wish to attract attention, sounded from the soldier's lips. At the
next instant, however, something seemed to have alarmed him; for the
eye disappeared, and the door closed abruptly.

Morton perplexed himself greatly with conjectures about this incident,
and had half persuaded himself that the whole was a cheat of the
fancy; when, on the next morning, as he was led back, under a guard,
from his walk on the rampart, he saw, on entering a long gallery of
the prison, a tall man approaching from the farther end. He recognized
him at once. It was Max Kubitski, the corporal, who long before had
guarded him to his sham execution, and whose friendly whisper in his
cell had wakened in him a short gleam of hope. As the corporal passed,
his eye met Morton's for an instant, with, as the latter thought, a
glance of recognition.

In vain he tried to reason down the new hope that, in spite of
himself, this meeting kindled. Of one thing he was sure; the
corporal's eye was the eye that looked in upon him through the hole in
the door; and he felt assured, moreover, that, from whatever cause,
the corporal inclined to befriend him.

He waited, in great expectancy and some agitation, for the next visit;
and at the stated hour, the outer door was opened, and the eye
appeared.

Morton, as he replied to the challenge, made a gesture of friendly
recognition.

"You remember me, eh?" whispered a voice, in broken French; "be always
close to the door when I come. I shall have something to tell you."

The moustached lips whence the whisper issued were withdrawn from the
opening, and Morton was left to his reflections.

To have a friend near him, however humble, was much, and the hope,
slender as it seemed, that this friend might aid him, filled him with
a feverish excitement. Why the corporal should interest himself in his
behalf, he could not imagine; and he waited restlessly for his next
coming.

In due time, the eye appeared.

"Look here," whispered Max, and thrust a paper through the opening,
waiting only long enough to see Morton pick it up.

The chirography was worse, if possible, than the spelling; but Morton
at last deciphered words to the following purport.

"You are brave. Don't despair. I shall help you, if I can. Long live
America! Down with the emperor! Only be patient. Be sure to chew this
paper, and swallow it."

The last injunction had its objections, and the prisoner compromised
the matter by tearing the paper into small pieces, and stuffing them
into the crevices of the floor.

At the next appearance of the eye, Morton, in a few rapid words,
expressed his gratitude; adding that if the corporal would help him to
escape, and go with him to America, he would make him rich for life.

The intimation probably had its effect; and yet in the case of Max it
was not needed. Though his tastes and habits savored of the barrack,
the corporal was one of the most simple-hearted and generous of men,
with, besides, much of that kind of enthusiasm of character which is
apt to be rather ornamental than useful to its owner. His birth and
connections were not quite so low as might have been argued from his
mean station in the service, in which his life had been spent from
boyhood. He was a native of Gallicia. Several of his brothers, and
others of his relatives, had been deeply compromised in the Polish
rising of 1831, and had suffered heavy and humiliating penalties in
consequence. His eldest brother, however, had escaped in time, and
gone to America, where, being very different in character from Max, he
had thriven wonderfully. After a long absence, he had reappeared,
travelling with a United States passport, as an American, inveighing
against European despotisms, and dilating on the glories of his
adopted country. Max, the only auditor of these declamations, was
greatly excited by them. He had long been tired of his thankless
position in the Austrian service; and listening to his brother's
persuasions, he agreed to desert, and go with him to America, the
seat, as he began to imagine, of more than earthly beatitude. But
before he could find opportunity, his cautious brother took alarm; and
seeing some indications that his identity was suspected by the police,
decamped with the promptness and alacrity which had always
distinguished him in times of danger. Max, therefore, was left alone;
his adviser, for fear of compromising him, not daring to attempt any
communication.

It was soon after this, that, being on guard in the commissioner's
inquest room at Ehrenberg, Max first saw Morton, brought in for
examination, and learned from the questions and replies, that the
prisoner was an American. His interest was greatly stirred; for he had
never seen one of the favored race before; and, like the commissioner,
he had no doubt that Morton had come on a revolutionary mission. His
interest was inflamed to enthusiasm, when, being ordered to guard
Morton to his execution, he saw the calmness with which the latter
faced his expected fate. Indeed, his soldier heart was moved so
deeply, that in the flush of the moment he conceived the idea of
helping Morton to escape, and going with him to the land of promise.
It was an idea more easily conceived than executed; and before he
could find an opportunity, his corps was removed from the castle, and
sent on duty elsewhere.

Max had always detested the life of a garrison, and especially of a
prison garrison, and the change proved very agreeable to him. Though
brave as the bravest, he had not much energy or forecast, and commonly
let his affairs take care of themselves. He lived on from day to day,
neither abandoning his plan of desertion, nor acting upon it; until,
after more than two years, he was remanded to Ehrenberg, where his old
disgust returned in greater force than ever. In this state of his
mind, the duty of visitor was assigned to him, thus bringing him in
contact with Morton, reviving his half-forgotten feeling, and, at the
same time, promising him an opportunity to carry his former scheme
into effect.

To this time, Morton had borne his troubles with as much philosophy as
could reasonably have been expected; but now that something like a
tangible hope began to open on him, the excitement became intense. He
waited the daily visits of the soldier with a painful eagerness and
suspense. At the stated hours, Max always came; and, at each return,
some whispered word of friendship greeted the prisoner's ear.

Two days after the first paper, he thrust in another; and Morton read
as follows:--

"We must wait; but our time will come; perhaps in ten days; perhaps in
a week. I shall watch for a chance. Only be patient."

Five long and anxious days succeeded; when, on the forenoon of the
sixth, Max thrust in a third paper; and Morton, with a beating heart,
read,--

"When the jailer comes this afternoon, make him talk with you, and
keep him with his back to the door. _I shall come._ Be cool and
steady. I shall tell you what to do."

Illness and long confinement had wrought upon Morton's system in a
manner which made it doubly difficult to preserve the coolness which
the emergency demanded; but he summoned his utmost resolution to meet
this crisis of his fate.

The jailer was nowise addicted to conversation; and how to engage him
in it, was a problem of some difficulty. There was only one topic on
which Morton had ever seen him at all animated. This was the battle of
Wagram, in which, in his youth, he had taken part, and where he had
received a sabre cut, which had left a ghastly blue scar across his
cheek. In dilating on this momentous passage of his life, the old
German would sometimes be roused into a great excitement; and Morton
had often amused himself with trying to comprehend the jargon which he
poured out, in thick gobbling tones, about cannonading and charging,
sabres and bombshells, pointing continually at his scar, and laboring
to impress his hearer with the conviction, immovably fixed in his own
mind, that he, Jacob, was one of the chief heroes of the day.

At his usual hour, about the middle of the afternoon, Jacob appeared.
As he came in, he closed the outer door, which secured itself by a
latch. This latch could be moved back from within or without, by a
species of key in the jailer's keeping, Max also, as visitor, having a
duplicate. The jailer alone had the key of the inner door; but this,
during his stay in the cell, he never thought it necessary to close.

Jacob went through his ordinary routine, breathing deeply, meanwhile,
and talking unconsciously to himself, after his usual manner.

"Do you know, Jacob," said Morton, seating himself on a stool in the
farther corner, "I was dreaming the other night of you and the battle
of Wagram."

"Eh!" grunted the jailer.

"What you have been telling me about it is a lie. You were never in
that battle at all."

"Eh!"

"You were frightened, and ran off before the fighting began."

"Run! I run off!" growled Jacob, the idea slowly penetrating his
brain.

Morton nodded assent.

The jailer turned and stared at him for a moment with open eyes and
mouth. Then, as his wrath slowly mounted, he began to pour forth a
flood of denial, mixed with invective against his assailant, appealing
to his scar as proof positive of his valor.

"A sabre never made that scar," said Morton, as the other paused in
his eloquence.

Jacob stared at him, speechless.

"You got it in a drunken row."

At this Jacob's rage seemed to choke his utterance; and Morton thought
he would attack him bodily, as he stood before him, shaking his fists,
and stamping on the pavement.

This pantomime was brought to a sudden close by a pair of strong hands
clinched around Jacob's neck from behind, with the gripe of a vice.

"Shut the door," whispered Max.

On entering, he had left it ajar. Morton hastened to close it. The
corporal meanwhile laid Jacob flat on the floor of the cell.

"Take my bayonet, and run it through him if he makes a sound."

Morton drew the bayonet from its sheath at the belt of Max, and
kneeling on the jailer's breast, pressed the point of the weapon
against his throat. Max then loosed his grasp, and gagged him
effectually with a piece of wood and a cord which he had brought for
the purpose. Jacob lay, during the whole, quite motionless, glaring
upward with glassy, bloodshot eyes, stupefied with fright and
astonishment.

"You must put on his clothes," said Max.

They accordingly took off the jailer's outer garments, which Morton
substituted for his own, drawing the deep-visored cap over his eyes.
Max, at the same time, bound the jailer, hand and foot, with strings
of leather, which he took from his pocket.

"Look out into the gallery," he said, unclosing the door, "and see if
there's any body in the way."

Morton, in his jailer's dress, went out, and, looking back, reported
that the coast was clear. Max followed, and closed the door. The
helpless Jacob remained a prisoner, till some other functionary of the
castle should come to his relief.

They passed along the gallery, down one flight of steps, and up
another, meeting no one but a soldier, to whom Max gave a careless nod
of recognition. There were several private outlets to the castle, but
each was guarded by a sentinel; and it was chiefly his preparation
against this difficulty that had caused Max's delay.

Among his acquaintance was an old soldier, called Peter,--a Prussian
by birth. He had learned to read and write, and being inordinately
vain of his superior acquirements, looked upon himself as the most
learned of men. When off duty, he was commonly to be found in a corner
of the barrack, poring over a greasy little book, which he always
carried in his pocket. As his temper was exceedingly sour and
disagreeable, he was no favorite; indeed, he was the general butt of
his brother soldiers, who delighted to exasperate his crusty mood.
Max, however, with a view to the furtherance of his scheme, had of
late courted his good graces, flattering him on his learning, often
asking him to drink, and otherwise cajoling him. Finding that, on this
day, Peter's turn had come to stand guard at a certain postern of the
prison, he had contrived to drug him with a strong dose of opium,
mixed with a dram of bitters. Max, who was a singular compound of
simplicity and finesse, the former the result of nature, the latter of
circumstance, plumed himself greatly on this exploit.

As they approached the narrow door in question, Max stooped and took
off his shoes, motioning Morton to do the same. At a few paces farther
on, they saw the sentinel, walking to and fro on his post, with no
very military gait.

Max, who was wonderfully cool and composed, pressed Morton's arm.

"_Voilà, monsieur_,"--he was now and hereafter very respectful in his
manner towards the man he was saving,--"_voilà_; look at the old
booby; how he reels and staggers about--ah! do you see?"

Peter had stopped in his walk, and was leaning against the wall,
nodding his head with a look indescribably sleepy and silly. Meanwhile
his musket was slowly slipping down between his arm and his side, in
spite of one or two efforts to clutch it. At last the butt struck on
the pavement. The sound roused the sentinel from his torpor. He shook
himself, and began his walk again; but in a few moments stopped,
leaned his shoulder against the wall, on the farther side of the door,
let his musket this time rest fairly on the floor, and began nodding
and butting his head, in a most ludicrous manner, into an angle of the
wall.

Max again pressed Morton's arm, and gliding on tiptoe past the drugged
sentinel, they went out at the door without alarming him. They were
now in an obscure and narrow precinct of the castle, flanked on one
side by a high wall of ancient masonry, and on the other by the rear
of various outbuildings. The place did no great credit to the neatness
of the garrison, being littered with a variety of refuse; but no
living thing was visible; none, that is, but a gray cat sneaking along
under the wall of a shed, with a newly-killed rat dangling from her
mouth.

They next passed into a wider area, overlooked on the left by the rear
of the principal range of barracks.

"Hallo, Max, where are you going?" cried a voice.

Max looked up, and saw a brother corporal leaning out at one of the
barrack windows, with a fatigue cap on one side of his head, and a
German pipe between his moustached lips.

"To the village."

"Who gave you leave?"

"The lieutenant."

"It's good company you are in. What are you going to do below?"

"Get me a pipe. Mine is broke. What is a man fit for without his
pipe?"

The other at the window replied by a joke, not very refined, levelled
at Max and his companion. Max retorted only by a ludicrous gesture of
derision, which drew a horse laugh from a soldier at another window,
under cover of which they passed out of the area, and reached a
pathway leading down the height.

A natural gully, or shallow ravine, twisted and zigzagged down the
side of the rock. In wet weather, it became a little watercourse,
conducting all the rain that fell on the western roofs of the castle
down to the filthy and picturesque hamlet of Ehrenberg, with its dirty
population of five hundred Wallack and Croat peasants, and a horde of
dirtier gypsies, nested in the outskirts. In dry weather, the gully
served as a pathway, which the soldiers often used in their descents
to the village.

Max began to descend, and Morton followed at his heels. The fresh
wind, the open view, the unwonted sense of treading mother earth,
wrought on him strangely; not, as on the wrestler of old, to nerve him
with renewed force. He grew faint, dizzy, and half blind; and as he
staggered after his guide, he felt for the first time how the prison
had sapped away his strength.

In ten minutes, they were at the bottom, and picking their way past
the rear of the squalid cottages, among rickety outhouses, broken
fences, heaps of litter, pigs, children, and other impediments. Most
of the men were absent; a few women only stared at them as they
passed. With one very pretty Wallack girl, Max, for the sake of
appearances, exchanged a few words of bantering gallantry. She stood
looking after him admiringly. Behind the next cottage, a yellow
Hungarian shepherd dog, large as a wolf, jumped suddenly from a heap
of rotten straw, on which he had been dozing, and made a fierce dash
at Max's leg; but the latter gave him a kick in the teeth, which sent
him off yelping, followed by a brickbat, and a curse from the Wallack
damsel.

Beyond the village, the ground was without trees or shrubs for a full
half mile; yet it was uneven,--not to say broken; and Max, who had
made a careful reconnaissance, knew that if they could but reach
unnoticed a hollow some twenty rods from the skirts of the hamlet, no
eye from the ramparts could see them. Towards this, therefore, he
walked, with an air of great nonchalance, Morton following, his heart
in his throat. Their movements were either unseen, or failed to excite
suspicion; and taking a beaten track into the hollow, they came upon a
spring at the foot of a rock, where three women were pounding clothes
on a stone with clubs, by way of washing them; while a lazy boor, in a
broad felt hat, lay on the ground listlessly watching the process.

In five minutes more, the hollow ceased to conceal them; and, to
Morton's great dismay, they stood again within eyeshot of the castle.
Max, however, with the skill of an old deer stalker, soon managed to
place, first, a large rock, then the rugged shoulder of a hill,
between themselves and the detested battlements. Next they gained the
partial shelter of the scattered scrub oaks and pines which formed a
ragged outskirt to the deeper forest behind, and, in a few moments
more, reached the dark asylum of its matted boughs and underwood.

Thus far they had walked at the leisurely pace of a pair of idle
strollers; but no sooner were they well out of sight, than Max cried,
"Come on!" and set out at a run. When he turned, however, and saw the
pale face of Morton, already tired with unwonted effort, he took a
flask of brandy from his pocket. The fiery draught strung Morton's
sinews afresh. They pushed on, over hills and hollows, by cattle paths
and brooks, across open glades, and through wooded tracts, dense and
breathless as an American forest.

"Look!" said Max, stopping on a rising ground, and pointing back over
the woods. Three miles off, the rock of Ehrenberg rose in view,
bearing aloft its heavy load of battlements and towers. Morton gave it
one look, prayed it might be the last, and motioned his companion
forward again.

They came to a lazy brook, stealing out of a marsh. In the mud by its
side was the slough where a wild boar had wallowed. The solitude and
savageness of the place shot a fresh life through Morton's failing
veins. The sense came upon him that his fate was now in his own hands;
the resolve that he would never be taken alive. He called Max to stop.

"Have you any weapon besides your bayonet?"

Max produced a pair of pistols, which he had contrived to appropriate;
and, keeping one of them, handed the other to Morton.

It was dusk before they stopped, in the depth of the woods, on a
grassy spot, shut in by a tall cliff, and a growth of old beeches,
oaks, and evergreens. Morton threw himself on the ground. Max made a
fire, by plugging up the touch-hole of his flint-lock pistol, and
placing in the pan, by way of tinder, a piece of cotton rag, rubbed
with a little wet gunpowder. Morton roused himself, and breaking off
small branches of the firs and spruces, piled them for beds. The loaf
which the jailer had brought for his next day's meal, with some more
solid viands which Max produced, served them for supper; and, for
drink, they scooped water in their hands from the neighboring brook.

It grew dark, and as they sat together by the fire, the red light
flared against the jagged rock, the shaggy fir boughs, and knotty
limbs of the oaks. It seemed to Morton as if time and space were done
away; as if the prison were a dream; and as if, once more on some
college ramble, he were seated by a camp fire in the familiar forests
of America. But instead of a vagabond Indian, or the hardy face of a
Penobscot lumberman, the flame fell on the frogged uniform and long,
waxed moustache of Corporal Max, as he sat cross-legged, like a Turk,
on the pile of evergreens.

As Morton looked on his manly face, and thought of the boundless debt
he owed him, his heart warmed towards him, and he poured forth his
gratitude as well as he could, in the patchwork of languages which Max
himself had used as his medium of communication.

The latter soon fell asleep, and lay snoring lustily. With his
companion sleep was impossible. He lay watching the stars, and the
dull folds of smoke that half hid them, listening to the wind, and the
mysterious sounds of the forest, and, as the night drew on, shivering
with the damp and cold. His mind was a maze of confused emotions,
suspense, and delight, hope, and fear, mingling in a dreamy chaos;
till at last fatigue prevailed, and he, too, fell asleep; a sleep
haunted by hideous images, yet with its intervals of deep peace and
repose.

He woke, shivering; and rising in the twilight, stirred the half-dead
embers, and crouched over them for warmth. But, as the fresh odors of
the morning reached his senses, they brought so vividly upon him the
memory of his youthful health, and hope, and liberty, that his spirits
rose almost to defiance of the peril around him. He woke Max, whose
slumbers were noisy as ever, and they pushed forward again on a
well-beaten cattle path, leading westward.

About sunrise they found a cow, one of the gray, long-horned breed of
the country, grazing very peacefully. Max looked about him, and began
to move with caution. The cow was wild, and would not let them pass
her, but walked before them along the path. In a few minutes, a great
number of cattle appeared, grazing on an open glade, with two men
watching them. They were of the half-savage herdsmen of this district,
little better than banditti. One of them sat on a rock, the other
lounged on the grass. Both were dressed in coarse linen shirts and
trousers, short, heavy woollen cloaks thrown over their shoulders, a
kind of rude sandals, and broad felt hats. For weapons, one carried a
club, the other a hatchet, the long handle of which served him for a
walking stick.

Max whispered to Morton; and stealing unperceived through the bushes,
they suddenly appeared before the two men, much, as it seemed, to
their amazement. Max, in a language quite new to his companion,
desired them to change clothes with Morton and himself. The voice and
air of the applicant, and the butt of a pistol protruding from the
breast pocket of each of the strangers, gave warning that the wish
could not wisely be slighted. The boors complied, the more willingly
as they would be great gainers by the bargain. Max threw off his
uniform, and put on the dress of the taller herdsman. Morton satisfied
himself with the woollen cloak of the other, in exchange for the
jailer's coat.

The exchange made, he signed to the man to give him the hatchet which
he carried; but the boor hesitated, scowling very sullenly. Max
hastened to interpose, and offered a silver coin in return for the
hatchet, which its owner at once surrendered. It was by no means any
love of abstract justice which dictated this procedure; but a desire,
on Max's part, to leave the men in good humor, lest, being offended,
they might set the soldiers on the track of the fugitives.

They parted on the best terms, and Max and Morton betook themselves
again to the woods.



CHAPTER XLIII.

  Like bloodhounds now they search me out;--
  Hark to the whistle and the shout!--
  The chase is up,--but they shall know,
  The stag at bay's a dangerous foe.--_Lady of the Lake_.


Three or four weeks passed. They were deep within the bounds of Tyrol.
By avoiding towns and highways, travelling often in the night, making
prize of every stray sheep, pig, or fowl, and a diligent robbing of
henroosts, they had thus far contrived to elude arrest, and support
life.

Morton was greatly changed. Body and mind, he was formed for hardship,
and toils which would have broken a weaker frame had nerved and
strengthened his. But of late their suffering had increased. They
found but poor forage among the poverty-pinched mountaineers, and for
two days, had had no better sustenance than the soft inner bark of the
pine trees. This, with previous abstinence, had sunk them to the last
extremity, and brought Max to the verge of despair.

It was a rainy afternoon; rain drizzling in the valleys, clouds
hanging on the mountains, dark vapors steaming up from the chasms, and
clinging sullenly to the edge of the pine forests. Max and Morton sat
under a dripping rock, on a mountain which overhangs a nameless little
valley, not far to the north of the Val di Sole.

"Keep a good heart, Max," said Morton, "it shall go hard but you and I
will get out of this scrape yet."

Max shook his head despondingly. His bold spirit was starved out of
him. Morton's courage, unlike that of his companion, was the result
more of his mental habits than of a native constitutional intrepidity,
and was therefore much less subject to the changes of his bodily
condition. He had proved Max, and knew him to be brave as he was warm
and true-hearted; but the corporal's valor, like that of Homer's
heroes, was best displayed on a full stomach.

"There's nothing else for it," said Morton; "we must take the bull by
the horns. One of those houses below is an inn, or something that
pretends to be one. I can see the bush fastened to the door post. We
must go and buy food; or else lie here and die."

"It is better to be shot than starve," said Max.

"Come on, then. You must be spokesman. I am go for nothing in that
way; but if there's any trouble, I'll stand by you as well as I can."

Max had had a little money in copper and silver, the greater part of
which he had consigned to the keeping of Morton, as the more careful
treasurer. With this for their passport, they issued from the cover of
the woods, and began to cross the mountain slopes and rough pasture
that lay between them and the hamlet.

The latter, as they drew near, seemed by no means so insignificant as
at first, a rising ground having hidden a part of it. They came to the
inn, a low stone building of a most respectable antiquity, and pushing
open the door, were met by a short man who seemed to be the owner. Max
produced a handful of kreutzers, and asked for bread and meat. The
host looked at the strangers, then at their money; seemed satisfied
with both, and showed them up a flight of broken steps to a large room
above the half-sunken kitchen. Here, at his call, a girl brought the
food and placed it on a table. He next asked if they would not have
beer; and Max assenting, went out to bring it.

The fugitives now addressed themselves to their meal with the keenness
of starving men; but the prudent Morton took care, at the same time,
to secure the more portable of the viands for future need. Having
dulled the edge of his appetite, he began to grow uneasy at the
landlord's long absence.

"What is that man doing? He might have brewed the beer by this time."

"He _does_ take his time," responded Max, also growing anxious.

"This is no place for us. Take the rest of that biscuit, and let's be
off."

Max was following this counsel, when---- "Hark!" cried Morton; "what
noise is that?"

"Go to the window and look."

Morton did so.

"My God!" he exclaimed, recoiling, his face ghastly with dismay.

Max sprang to the window. Below, at the door, four or five men were
standing, and among them two gendarmes, while others were in the act
of entering.

The outlandish dress of the two strangers had at once roused the
landlord's suspicion. Of Max's character he had not a moment's doubt;
for in him no disguise could hide the look and port of the trained
soldier. By ill luck, a party of gendarmes were in the village,
weather-bound on their way from Latsch. Having secured his guests'
money, the landlord thought to make a farther profit from them; and,
sure of his reward, reported to the officer in command, that there
were in his house two men, the taller of whom was certainly a
deserter, while the other could not be a peasant, though he wore the
dress of one. The officer mustered his followers, and hastened to beat
up the game.

He entered as Max turned from the window, and came up to him, sword in
hand.

"I arrest you. Give yourselves up, you and the other."

But before the words were well out of his mouth, the fist of Max fell
between his eyes like a battering ram, and dashed him back against the
soldier next behind him.

"Come on," cried Max to Morton, and leaped through the open window at
the farther end of the room. Morton followed in time to escape two or
three bayonet thrusts which were made after him. They both vaulted
over a fence, and ran through the narrow passage between an old shed
and a huge square stack of the last year's hay. A musket or two were
let off at them, but to no effect; and splashing across a shallow
brook, they made at headlong speed for the shelter of the mountains.

As they reached the base, Max looked back. Seven or eight gendarmes
were after them, and behind, later joining the chase, ran two or three
men in a different dress.

"Riflemen!" muttered Max, with an oath.

Breasting the rough heights, clinging to stumps, roots, and bushes,
they made their way up with all the speed which desperate need could
give them. They were soon among thick trees, hidden from the pursuers,
and almost from each other. But the shouts of the soldiers came up
from below: they all gave tongue like so many hounds.

"Curse your yelping throats!" gasped Morton. Breathless and half
spent, he was clinging to a sapling on the edge of a steep pitch of
the hill. One of the soldiers saw him. A musket shot rang from below,
the hollow hum of the ball passing high above his head.

Max laughed in fierce derision. They ran forward again across a wide
plateau, nearly void of trees; and before they had fairly gained its
farther side, the foremost pursuers were at the border of woods they
had just left. Their late famine made fatal odds against them. The
gendarmes, indeed, gained little in the race; but the more active
riflemen were nearer every moment.

Climbing, running, and scrambling among rocks, trees, and bushes, they
won their way up till they came to another plateau, which broke the
ascent of the mountain a furlong above the former. Across this they
dashed at full speed. They were within a rod or two of the woods
beyond, Max running on Morton's left, a little in advance of him, when
a musket was fired at them from behind. The aim was so bad, that they
did not even hear the humming of the bullet. At the next instant, came
a dull, plunging report, unlike the former. Max leaped four feet into
the air, and fell forward on his face with a force that seemed to
shake the earth. Morton kneeled by his side; turned him on his back;
lifted him by main strength into a sitting posture. Both his hands
were clutched full of grass and earth.

"Max! Max!" cried Morton, in the extremity of anguish; "speak, Max,
for God's sake."

But Max said nothing. His hat had fallen off; his eyes rolled wildly
under his tangled hair; he gasped; blood flowed from his lips; and a
spot of blood was soaking wider and wider upon the breast of his
shirt. Then a deathly change came over his dilated eyeballs. Morton
had seen the throes of the wounded bison, when the fierce eyes,
glaring with angry life, are clouded of a sudden into a dull, cold
jelly, fixed unmeaning lumps. It was a change like this that he saw in
the eyes of Max. His friend was dead. The fatal rifle of Tyrol had
done its work. The ball had pierced him from back to breast, and torn
through his heart on its way.

The whole passed in a few moments; but when Morton looked up, nearly
all the pursuers were in sight on the open ground, and one of them,
the man who had fired the death shot, was almost upon him. He snatched
Max's pistol, which had fallen on the grass, and, blind with grief and
fury, ran forward, levelled, and pulled the trigger. The pistol, wet
with the rain, missed fire. The man was not four paces off. Morton
hurled the pistol at his face. The iron barrel clashed against his
teeth, and sent him reeling backward, bleeding and half stunned.
Griping his hatchet, his best remaining friend, Morton turned for the
woods, gained them at three bounds, and tore through the cover like a
hunted wolf.

Over rocks, among trees, through thickets and brambles, he struggled
and clambered on, seeking safety, like the Rocky Mountain goat, in the
rudest and wildest refuge. But in a few minutes, his flight was
stopped. Rocks rose before him, and rocks on each side. He was caught
in a complete _cul de sac_. He might have climbed the precipices, but,
in the act, the shots from below would soon have tumbled him to the
earth again. There was no escape; and, grinding his teeth in rage and
desperation, he turned savagely at bay.

Three or four of the men were very near him; and almost as he turned,
one of them came in sight, pushing through the bushes. As he saw the
game, he gave a shout, a sort of view halloo. Then appeared another,
and another, all advancing upon him. In a moment, he would have been
in their hands, alive or dead; but, without waiting the attack, he
sprang on the foremost like a tiger, and plunged his hatchet deep in
the soldier's eyes and brain. Then pushing past another, who, with a
hesitating movement, was making towards him, he dashed down a sloping
mass of rocks, dived into a labyrinth of thickets, and thence into a
dark and hollow gorge of the mountain. Along this he ran like one with
death's shadow behind him, losing himself deeper and deeper among the
chaotic rocks and ragged trees. He stopped, at last, and listened. Far
behind, he could hear his pursuers shouting to each other. The pack
were at fault, and ranging in vain search after him.

Spent as he was, he pressed on again, following upward for an hour or
more the course of a brook, which issued from a narrow glen, reaching
far back into the solitude of the mountains. His mind was dim and
confused, a cloudland of mixed emotions; deep grief for his murdered
friend, deep rage that he had been hunted like a wild beast, a longing
for further vengeance, a sense, almost to despair, of his own
loneliness and peril. He felt himself outcast from mankind, driven
back to find a sanctuary among the dens and fastnesses of Nature. She
alone, amid the general frown, seemed propitious; for of a sudden the
clouds sundered in the west; a gush of warm light poured across the
dripping mountains, and flushed the distant glaciers with their
evening rose-tint. In the depths where he stood, all was shadow; but
the crags above were basking in the sunshine, and the savage old
pines, jewelled with rain drops, seemed stretching their shaggy arms
to welcome the kindly radiance. Morton threw himself on the ground,
and commended his desperate fortunes to the God of the waste and the
mountain.



CHAPTER XLIV.

  In dread, in danger, and alone,
  Famished and chilled, through ways unknown,
  Tangled and steep, he journeyed on.--_Lady of the Lake_.


Whoever, journeying southward from Coire, passes through the Via Mala,
thence through the village of Andeer, and thence turns to the left,
following a mountain path up the torrent of the Aversa, will soon lose
himself in the solitudes of the savage valley of Ferrera. Thither
Morton made his way; but not by so smooth an access. Ignorant of the
country, and guided chiefly by the sun, he had pushed blindly forward
by paths best known to the chamois and those who chase them.

His best hope had been to meet some of his travelling countrymen, from
whom he could gain help. To this end he had once and again approached
the highways, and as often some real or seeming danger had driven him
back to the mountains. For a day or more, the food he had taken from
the inn served to support him. He had flung away Max's pistol, but
still had his own. It served him to kindle a fire; and by loading it
with gravel, in place of shot, he contrived to kill thrushes and other
small birds. Their nests, too, full at this time of eggs and young,
supplied a meagre resource; and once, being hard pressed, he made a
Gallic banquet on a party of serenaders who were croaking and trilling
their evening concert about the edge of a shallow pool. Frogs have
found warm eulogists; but never did the art of Paris or Bologna
transmute those delectable reptiles into so savory a repast as did the
famine-sharpened appetite of Morton.

Upon fare like this, he wandered on, till he stumbled upon the valley
of Ferrera.

He had found at last an asylum wild enough to content the most pious
of eremites, or the most desperate of bandits. Below he saw the raging
water foaming along the depths of its black ravine; above--the
stupendous ramparts that walled the valley in--cliffs, along whose
giddy verge the firs were dwindled to feathers. Cascades spouted from
their tops, scattering to mist and nothingness long before their
measureless leap was done. The tribute drawn from the clouds the
lavish mountain flung back to the clouds again. Rocks were piled on
rocks, ruin on ruin, and, high over all, the glaciers of the Splugen
shone like cliffs of silver.

Take a savage from his woods or his prairies, and, school him as you
will, the ingrained savage will still declare itself. Take the most
polished of mankind, turn him into the wilderness, and forthwith the
dormant savage begins to appear. Hunt him with enemies, gnaw him with
hunger, beat him with wind and rain, and observe the result; how the
delicate tissues of civilization are blown away, how rude passions
start into life, how his bodily cravings grow clamorous and
importunate, how he grows reckless of his own blood and the blood of
others. "Men are as the times." Young Lovelace of the hussars singing
a duet at Lady Belgrave's _soirée_, would hardly know himself, hewing
down Russian artillerymen at Balaklava.

Had Meredith met his old comrade as he was making his slow way among
the rocks and ravines, in dress no better than the meanest peasant,
his face moustached and bearded, and thin and dark with hardship, he
would have needed the eyes of a lynx to detect Morton the millionaire.
The mind of the latter shared, in some sort, the changes of his outer
man. Proscribed and hunted, starved into fierceness, his best friend
murdered at his side, his mood was, to say the least, none of the most
benign. But, as he toiled on his way, he turned aside to rest in a
sunny nook, deep sheltered among rocks. Here, where the fresh grass
tempted him, and where, from a jutting crag, the water, trickling from
some hidden spring, fell in rapid drops, tinkling into a pool below,
and, as they fell, flashing in the sun like a string of
diamonds,--here, in this quiet nook, he sat down; and, as he did so,
he saw by his side, close nestled in the young grass, a little family
of white and purple blossoms. They were blossoms of the crocus, a
native of these valleys.

Morton bent over them, and put aside the grass from the delicate
petals. A flower will now and then find a voice, and that not a weak
one. As he looked, there came in upon him such a surge of
recollection, such a memory of New England gardens, such a vision of
loved faces, and, chief before them all, the face he best loved, such
an awakening of every tender thought that had once possessed him, and
all in such overpowering contrast with his present misery, that the
famished outlaw burst into a flood of tears.



CHAPTER XLV.

  The lamentable change is from the best;
  The worst returns to laughter. Welcome, then,
  Thou unsubstantial air that I embrace.--_Lear_.


The Honorable Charles Augustus Murray, recreating himself with a
hunting tour among the Pawnees, killed a buffalo; and being, as he
assures us, ravenously hungry, proceeded to regale himself on his
game, without asking the aid of the cook. Morton, in his wandering,
had the good luck to kill a straggling sheep; and being twice as
hungry as the Honorable Charles Augustus Murray, it may be set down
largely to his credit, if he did not follow that gentleman's example.
At all events, the sheep was a windfall of the first magnitude. Morton
had woodcraft enough to turn the fleece into a receptacle for carrying
such parts of the flesh as best answered his purposes; and thus he was
well provisioned for several days.

After various roamings, by night and by day, he came upon a broad
road, clearly one of the great alpine passes. Which of them he could
not tell. He would have given the world to learn; for he knew nothing
of his whereabouts, and thought himself still in Tyrol, or, at the
best, in Bormio. His attempts to gain information from the peasants
had always failed, and, in one or two instances, had seemed to
threaten serious consequences. Though brave enough in the front of an
open danger, the secret toils which had been about him so long had
taught him to shrink from the face of man. Moreover, he could not
speak the prevalent language of the district, and his Italian, which
might sometimes have served him, was none of the best. A little local
knowledge could have saved him a world of suffering; but, in the lack
of it, he pushed blindly on, resolved to die on the mountains rather
than risk another prison.

The sky for some days had been overclouded. He had lost the points of
the compass; and when he saw the great highway stretching before him,
dim and lonely in the gray of the morning, he thought, or hoped, that
it would lead him into the heart of Switzerland. It was the pass of
the Splugen, where it leaves the Rheinwald. Turning his back on
safety, he began to plod on towards the lion's jaws.

Seeing a small cottage, in a recess of the forest, he reconnoitred it,
with the laudable view of robbing a henroost. While thus employed, he
saw two men leave the house, and betake themselves to their work in
some remote part of the mountain. After a long reconnaissance, he
could see no one about the place but a young woman, about six feet
high, who, fork in hand, was busying herself in a field with labors
much less elegant than useful. Morton watched her for a time, then,
taking heart of grace, walked towards her from his lurking-place,
holding between his fingers, as a talisman, a piece of silver, part of
the scanty trust which Max had left him.

When he beheld her lusty proportions, her white teeth, grinning
between perplexity at his appearance and pleasure at sight of the
coin, and her broad cheeks, ruddy with health, good-nature, and
stupidity, his apprehensions vanished. She seemed not at all afraid of
him. In truth, she and her pitchfork might between them have put two
common men to flight. He spoke to her in bad Italian, and asked for
food, proffering the money in exchange. She answered in a _patois_
which was Greek to him, mixed with a few words of Italian, worse than
his own. She seemed, however, to catch his meaning very clearly; for,
running to the house, she presently emerged with a loaf of barley
bread and a formidable piece of bacon. These she gave him, and, taking
the silver, tied it up with much care in a corner of her apron.

Thus far successful, Morton next tried to learn something touching the
country and the routes; but here his failure was signal. Where food
and drink were the topics in hand, and especially when her wits were
quickened by the sight of silver, she had contrived to understand him;
but with matters more abstruse her faculties had never been trained to
grapple. She showed, however, no lack of good-will, nodding, laughing,
and answering, "_Si, si!_" to all his questions indiscriminately. With
this he had to content himself. He bade her "_addio_," received a
friendly nod and grin in return, and went on his way, much less bitter
against mankind than he had been ten minutes before.



CHAPTER XLVI.

_Auf._ Your hand! Most welcome.

_1 Serv._ Here's a strange alteration!

_2 Serv._ By my hand, I had thought to have strucken him with a
cudgel; and yet my mind gave me his clothes made a false report of
him.--_Coriolanus_.


In passing the Splugen, Morton journeyed chiefly in the night, making
a wide detour over the crusted snow to avoid the station at the
summit. By day, he found some safe retreat where he could rest and
sleep in tolerable ease and warmth. His night progress was, for the
most part, on a broad, clear road, very different from that rugged
path by the Cardinel, where, some forty-seven years before, the
avalanches cut through Macdonald's columns, and swept men and horses
to bottomless ruin.

The sky was still clouded; but there was a full moon behind the
clouds, and the mountains reflected its light, from their vast
surfaces of snow. He could hear any approaching foot from a great
distance, for there was nothing to break the stillness but the hollow
fall of torrents, and the whisper and moan of winds through ravines
and gorges.

On the third night, he was descending the defiles that lead from Campo
Dolcino to Chiavenna. He passed Chiavenna, and soon a new scene opened
upon him. The Alps were behind him, cliff and chasm, torrent and
ravine, and the icy sheen of glaciers. Italy received him, robed in
her "fatal gift of beauty;" in the midst of her shame, radiant as in
her day of honor; breathing still of history, and art, and poetry.

Standing on the heights behind Colico, he saw the Lake of Como
stretching southward, its banks studded with villas, its hills green
with the chestnut and the laurel, the fig, pomegranate, and vine. But,
to the north, the sheer cliffs rose like a battlement, and, higher
yet, towered cold white peaks, aloof in stern and lofty desolation.

Reality will now and then make fancy blush for herself. The Easter
illumination of St. Peter's may match the wildest dream of the Arabian
Nights; and this scene on the Lake of Como, with the sunset upon it,
may outvie the highest wrought counterfeit of Claude or Salvator, or
both combined. The world, much abused as she is, does her part. She is
profuse of beauties; but, in the midst of them, one still drags with
him his own work-day identity. Go where he will, his old Adam still
hangs about him; and the spell-breaking sense that he is himself and
no other scatters every charm that Art and Nature would cast over him.

Morton, poor devil, had other matters to think of than scenery. Hunger
and danger are a cure for the most rabid love of landscape. His bread
and bacon had given out, and the phantom of an Austrian _sbirro_ rode
him like a nightmare. Mustering his best recollections of geography,
he came to the belief that he was either on the Lake of Como, or, as
seemed to him much more likely, on the lake farther eastward, that of
Garda. One thing was certain: he was on a great route of travel. His
best course, as he thought, was to watch for the chance of a meeting
with some American or English tourist, to whom he could make his case
known; and meanwhile, though a worse actor never appeared on any
stage, to pass himself off, if he could, as a beggar.

He passed a night on the hills above Colico, and happily for him,
above the malaria; woke half famished from his miserably broken sleep,
and wearily walked on his way, wondering if, in support of his
character, he could ever find grace to say, "_Datemi qualche cosa_."
There was something in the idea of thus sneaking through a country
that grated on him with peculiar discomfort; and to have headed the
forlorn hope of a storming party would have been less trying to his
nerve.

The thought how to content the cravings of his hunger soon absorbed
all other thoughts. Looking about him, he saw a small white house,
standing alone on the road by the shore of the lake; and over the door
he could read from afar the sign, "_Spaccio di Vino_." Famine got the
better of caution. He approached warily, ensconced himself behind an
old wall, and, quite unseen, began his observations. The house was but
a few rods off, on the other side of the road. An old wayfarer sat in
the porch, busy in breakfasting on curds, pressed hard like a cheese,
a slice of very black and solid-looking bread serving him for a plate.
In a few moments, the landlord, a freckled-faced Italian, came to the
door, and began to chat with his customer. Morton took a coin from his
pocket, walked forth from his hiding-place, and was approaching, still
unnoticed, when he was startled by the sound of a horse's tread, on
the road beyond the house. A single glance at the rider told him that
there was no danger, and made his heart beat with sudden hope.

"_Il signor Inglese_," remarked the host to his friend.--"_Buon'
giorno, eccellenza, buon' giorno_,"--lifting his white night cap, and
bowing with a great flourish.

The young man touched his hat with a careless smile, and half-turning
his horse, asked,--

"Padrone, has my man passed this way?"

He had, to Morton's eye, rather the easy manner of a well-bred
American, than the more distant bearing common with an English
gentleman.

"_Eccellenza, si,_" replied the padrone,--"he passed a quarter of an
hour ago, with the birds your excellency has shot."

The young man rode on, passing Morton, as he stood by the roadside.

"I have seen that face before," said the latter to himself--"in a
dream, for what I know, but I have seen it."

It was a frank and open face, manly, yet full of kindliness, not
without a tinge of melancholy.

"Come of it what will," thought the fugitive, "I will speak to him."

He walked after the retiring horseman, and when an angle of the road
concealed him from the inn, quickened his pace almost to a run. But at
that moment the Englishman struck into a sharp trot, and disappeared
over the ridge of a hill. Morton soon gained sight of him again, and
kept him in view for about a mile, when he saw him enter the gateway
belonging to a small villa, between the road and the water. It was a
very pretty spot; the grounds terraced to the edge of the lake; with
laurels, cypresses, box hedges, a fountain or two, an artificial
grotto, and a superb diorama of water and mountains.

Morton stood waiting at the gate. At length he saw a female domestic,
evidently Italian, passing through the shrubbery before the house, and
disappearing behind it. In a few minutes more, a solemn personage
appeared at the door, whom he would have known at a mile's distance
for an old English servant. He stood looking with great gravity out
upon the grounds. Morton approached, and accosting him in Italian,
asked to see his master.

John was not a proficient in the tongue of Ariosto and Dante. Indeed,
in his intercourse with the natives, he had seen occasion for one
phrase alone, and that a somewhat pithy and repellant one,--_Andate al
diavolo_.

He glared with supreme and savage scorn on the tatterdemalion
stranger, and uttered his talismanic words,--

"_Andarty al devillio!_"

Morton changed his tactics; and, looking fixedly at the human mastiff,
said in English,--

"Go to your master, sir, and tell him that I wish to speak with him."

The Saxon words and the tone of authority coming from one whom he had
taken for a vagrant beggar, astonished the old man beyond utterance.
He stared for a moment,--turned to obey,--then turned back again,--

"Mr. Wentworth is at breakfast, sir."

The last monosyllable was spoken in a doubtful tone, the speaker being
perplexed between respect for the tone and language of the stranger,
and contempt for his vagabond attire.

"Then bring me pen, ink, and paper--I will write to him."

And pushing past the servant, he seated himself on a chair in the
hall.

John went for the articles required, first glancing around to see what
items of plunder might be within the intruder's reach. Morton in his
absence opened several books which lay upon a table; and in one of
them he saw, pencilled on the fly leaf, the name of the owner, Robert
Wentworth.

The pen, ink, and paper arriving, he wrote as follows, John meanwhile
keeping a vigilant guard over him:--

Sir: I am a native of the United States, who, for the past four years,
have been a prisoner in the Castle of Ehrenberg, confined for no
offence, political or otherwise, but on a groundless suspicion. I
escaped by the assistance of a soldier in the garrison, and have made
my way thus far in the dress of a peasant. I am anxious to reach
Genoa, or some other port beyond the power of Austria, but am
embarrassed and endangered by my ignorance of the routes and the state
of the country. Information on these points, and the means of
communicating with an American consul, are the only aid of which I am
in necessity; and I take the liberty of applying to you in the hope of
obtaining it. By giving it, you will oblige me in a matter of life and
death. The people of the country cannot be trusted; but I may rely
securely on the generosity of an English gentleman.

                                  Your obedient servant,
                                              VASSALL MORTON.

He sealed the note, and gave it to the old servant. The latter mounted
the stairs, and reappearing in a few moments, said, in his former
doubtful tone, "Please to walk up."

Morton followed him to the door of a small room looking upon the lake.
Near the window stood the young man whom he had seen at the inn, with
the note open in his hand. Morton entered, inclining his head
slightly. The other returned his salutation, looked at him for an
instant without speaking, and then, coming forward, gave him his hand,
and bade him welcome with the utmost frankness.

Astonished, and half overcome, Morton could only stammer his
acknowledgments for such a reception of one who came with no passport
but his own word.

"O," said Wentworth, smiling, "when I meet an honest man, I know him
by instinct, as Falstaff knew the true prince. Sit down; I am glad to
see you; and shall be still more glad if I can help you."

The old servant received some whispered directions, and left the room.
Morton gave a short outline of his story, to which his host listened
with unequivocal signs of interest.

"I wish," said Wentworth, "that you were the only innocent victim of
Austrian despotism. It is a monstrous infamy, built on fraud and
force, but too refined, too artificial, too complicated to endure."

"Bullets and cold steel are the medicines for it," said Morton.

Here the servant reappeared.

"Here, at all events, you are safe. Stay with me to-day, and I think I
can promise you that in a few days more you may stand on the deck of
an American frigate. If you will go with John, he will help you to get
rid of that villanous disguise."

Morton followed the old man into an adjoining room, where he found a
bath, a suit of clothes, and the various appliances of the toilet
prepared for him. And here he was left alone to indulge his
reflections and revolutionize his outward man.

Meanwhile Wentworth sat musing by the window: "His face haunts me; and
yet, for my life, I cannot remember where I have seen him before. I
would stake all on his truth and honor. That firm lip and undespairing
eye are a history in themselves. Strange--the difference between man
and man. How should I have borne such suffering? Why, gone mad, I
suppose, or destroyed myself. One sorrow--no, nor a hundred--would
never unman _him_, and make him dream away his life, watching the sun
rise and set, here by the Lake of Como. I scarcely know why, but my
heart warms towards him like an old friend. Cost what it may, I will
not leave him till he is out of danger."

He was still musing in this strain, when Morton returned, a changed
man in person and in mind. It seemed as if, in casting off his squalid
livery of misery and peril, a burden of care had fallen with it; as if
the sullen cloud that had brooded over him so long had been pierced at
length by a gladdening beam of sunlight, and the sombre landscape were
smiling again with pristine light and promise. His buoyant and defiant
spirit resumed its native tone; and a strange confidence sprang up
within him, as if a desperate crisis of his destiny had been safely
passed.

Wentworth saw the change at a glance.

"Why, man, I see freedom in your eye already. But sit down; 'it's ill
talking between a full man and a fasting,' and you must be half
starved."

Morton was so, in truth. He seated himself at the table, and addressed
himself to the repast provided for him with the keenness of a mountain
trapper, while his entertainer played with his knife and fork to keep
him in countenance.

"Do you know," said Wentworth, at length--"I am sure I have seen you
before."

"And I have seen you--I could swear to it; and yet I do not know
where."

"Were you ever in England?"

"Only for a few days."

"I was once in America."

"When?"

"In 1839. I was at Boston in March of that year."

Morton shook his head. "I remember that time perfectly. I was in New
Orleans in March, and afterwards in Texas."

"From Boston I went westward--up the Missouri and out upon the
prairies."

Morton paused a moment in doubt; then sprang to his feet with a joyful
exclamation,--

"The prairies! Have you forgotten the Big Horn Branch of the Yellow
Stone, and the camp under the old cottonwood trees!"

Wentworth leaped up, and grasped both his guest's hands.

"Forgotten! No; I shall never forget the morning when you came over to
us with that tall, half-breed fellow, in a Canadian capote."

"Yes,--Antoine Le Rouge."

"We should have starved if you had not found us, and perhaps lost our
scalps into the bargain."

"The Rickarees had made a clean sweep of your horses."

"Not a hoof was left to us. Our four Canadians were scared to death; I
was ill; not one of us was fit for service but Ireton; and we had not
three days' provision. If you had not given us your spare mules and
horses, and seen us safe to Fort Cass, the wolves would have made a
supper of some of us."

"And do you remember," said Morton, "after we broke up camp that
morning, how the Rickaree devils came galloping at us down the hill,
and thought they could ride over us, and how we fought them all the
forenoon, lying on our faces behind the pack saddles and baggage?"

"I remember it as if it were yesterday. I can hear the crack of the
rifles now, and the yelling of those bloodthirsty vagabonds."

"It is strange," pursued Wentworth, "that I did not recognize you at
once. I have thought of you a thousand times; but it is eight years
since we met, and you are very much changed. Besides we were together
only two days. And yet I can hardly forgive myself."

"Any wandering trapper would have done as much for you as I did; or,
if he had not, he would have deserved a cudgelling. What has become of
the young man, or boy, rather, who was with you?"

"You mean Ireton. Dead, poor fellow--dead."

"I am very sorry. He was the coolest of us all in the fight. He had a
singular face, but a very handsome one. I can recall it distinctly at
this moment."

Wentworth took a miniature from a desk, opened it, and placed it
before Morton.

"These are his features," said the latter, "but this is the portrait
of a lady."

"His sister--his twin sister. Dead too!"

There was a change, as he spoke, in his voice and manner, so marked
that Morton forbore to pursue the subject farther. He studied the
picture in silence. It was a young and beautiful face, delicate, yet
full of fire; and by some subtilty of his craft, the artist had given
to the eyes an expression which reminded him of the restless glances
which he had seen a caged falcon at the Garden of Plants cast upwards
at the sky, into which he was debarred from soaring.

In a few moments, Wentworth spoke in his accustomed tone.

"The point first to be thought of, is to get you out of this
predicament. I have a man who took to his bed this morning, and is at
present shaking in an ague fit. He is of about your age, height, and
complexion; and by wearing his dress, you could travel under his
passport. I am not at all a suspected person, and if my friend will
pass for a few days as my servant, I do not doubt that we shall reach
Genoa without interruption."

Morton warmly expressed his gratitude, but protested against
Wentworth's undertaking the journey on his account.

"O, I am going to Genoa for my pleasure, and shall be glad of your
company. The steamer for Como touches here this afternoon. 'Dull not
device by coldness and delay;' we will go on board, and be in Milan
to-morrow."

They conversed for an hour, when Morton withdrew to adjust his new
disguise. Wentworth followed him with his eye as he disappeared; then
sank into the musing mood which had grown habitual to him.

"When I saw him last,"--so his thoughts shaped themselves,--"my drama
was opening; and now it is played out--light and darkness, smiles and
tears--and the curtain is dropped forever. When I saw him last, I was
gathering the prairie flowers and dedicating them to her,--though she
did not suspect it,--and dreaming of her by camp fires and in night
watches."

The miniature still lay on the table. He drew it towards him and gazed
on it fixedly:--

"Mine for a space, and now--gone--vanished like a dream. You were a
meteor between earth and sky, with a light that flickered and blazed
and darkened, but a warmth constant and unchanged. Of all who admired
the brightness of that erratic star, how few could know what gladness
it shed around it, what desolation it has left behind!"

He gazed on the picture till his eyes grew dim; then sat for a few
moments, listless and abstracted; then rose, with an effort, and bent
his mind to the task before him.



CHAPTER XLVII.

  O that a man might know
  The end of this day's business ere it come.--_Julius Cæsar_.


The diligence rolled into Genoa. Wentworth was in the _coupé_, and on
the top sat Morton, as his servant. They had made the journey without
interruption.

Morton reported himself to the American consul, and told his story.
The wrath and astonishment of that official were great; but they were
as nothing to the patriotic fury of three New York dry goods
importers, who, mingling pleasure with business, were just arrived
from Paris. Nothing was talked of but an immediate bombardment of
Trieste, and a probable assault of Vienna.

Escaping as soon as he could from this demonstration, Morton bade his
fervid countrymen good morning, and went out with Wentworth, who
introduced him to his banker. He learned from the consul that a
merchant brig was in port, nearly ready to sail for home, and gladly
took passage in her.

And now at last he was safe; and safety should have brought with it a
lightening of the spirits, a sense of relief. In fact, however, it
brought little or nothing of the kind. The human mind, happily, cannot
well hold more than one crowning evil at a time. One black thought,
firmly lodged, will commonly keep the rest at bay. The fear of famine
and a prison had left him no leisure to plague himself with less
imminent mischiefs; but now, this fear being ousted, a new devil
leaped into its empty seat. At the first moment when he could find
himself alone, he wrote to Edith Leslie, telling her how he had been
imprisoned, how, for almost five wretched years, her image had been
his constant friend, how he had escaped, and how he was hastening
homeward to claim the fulfilment of her word. He hinted nothing of his
conviction that Vinal had been instrumental to his detention. He began
divided between hope and fear, but as he wrote, a foreboding grew upon
him that she was no longer living, or, at least, no longer living for
him. The letter, despatched post haste, would reach home a full
fortnight before his own arrival.

Having seen his friend in safety, Wentworth set out on his return;
and, as they shook hands at parting, their eyes met with a look that
showed how clearly the two men understood each other.

Wentworth smiled as Morton tried to express his gratitude.

"You have cleared that score. I do not mean now the old affair on the
Big Horn. I have been dreaming, lately, and you have waked me."

"I should never have imagined that you were dozing."

"Call it what you will. The truth is," added Wentworth, with some
hesitation, "an old memory has been hanging about me, and I believe
has made a girl of me. But that is past and done. I shall leave the
Lake of Como. There is a career for me at home, and a good one, if I
will but take it. Come to England, and you will find me there."

Morton went with him past the gates, and, with a heavy heart, watched
him on his way northward.



CHAPTER XLVIII.

                      His restless eye
  Glanced forward frequently, as if some ill
  He dared not meet were there.--_Willis_.


After some days' delay, the brig put to sea, Morton on board. The
cliffs behind Gibraltar came in sight at last, and a fresh levanter
blew her out like an arrow upon the Atlantic. They were becalmed off
the Azores. The sea was like glass; the turtles came up to sleep at
the top; the tar melted out of the seams; and as the vessel moved on
the long, lazy swells, the masts kept up their weary creaking from
morning till night, and from night till morning. Morton walked the
deck in a fever of impatience.

At length an east wind sprang up, and with studding sails spread like
wings, the brig ran before it, reeling like a drunken sea-gull.

On the forty-first day, the Neversink heights rose on the horizon.
Vessels innumerable passed--steamers, merchantmen, war ships. The
highlands of Staten Island, with its villages and villas, lay close on
their left, and the Bay of New York opened before them, sparkling in
the morning sun, and alive with moving sails. On the right lay a
forest of masts; in front, the Castle lifted its ugly familiar front;
and farther on, the spire of Trinity towered over the wilderness of
brick.

Morton called a boat alongside, embarked his luggage, and went on
shore. And, in spite of that depression which follows long and deep
excitement, in spite of the anxieties that engrossed him, he felt a
thrill of delight as his foot pressed American soil.

This pleasure, however, was short. The thought of Edith Leslie had
been so long the solace of his confinement, that it seemed to have
grown into a part of himself; at all events, now that his doubts were
on the verge of decision, for good or evil, it drove every other
thought from his mind. Reaching his hotel, he found that he could not
set out for Boston till the afternoon; and to get rid of the interval,
he turned over the Boston newspapers in the reading room, searching
for the mention of any familiar names. Here he was more successful
than he cared to be; for he presently discovered the name of Horace
Vinal, figuring in the list of directors of a joint stock company.

"The hound!" muttered Morton; "so he is alive yet!"

And leaving the hotel, he walked up the crowded sidewalk of Broadway,
in a mood any thing but tranquil.



CHAPTER XLIX.

  Affliction is enamoured of thy parts,
  And thou art wedded to calamity.--_Romeo and Juliet_.


He had not gone far, when he became aware of a footstep closely
following him. He was about to look back, when a little man passed
before him, glancing furtively in his face with a ludicrous expression
of doubt, amazement, and curiosity. Morton at once recognized the
features of an odd, simple-minded classmate, named Shingles.
"Charley," he exclaimed, "how do you do?"

"It _is_ you," cried Shingles, with an ejaculation of profound
astonishment; "solid flesh and blood!"--grasping Morton's extended
hand--"and not your ghost. Why, we all thought you were dead!"

"Not quite," said Morton.

"Dead and buried," repeated Shingles, "off in Transylvania, or some
such place."

"I _was_ buried, but they buried me alive."

Shingles, who had a taste for the horrible, took the assertion
literally, and dilated his eyes like an owl on the lookout for a
mouse.

"But how did you manage to get out?"

"I contrived to break loose, after a few years."

Shingles stared in horror and perplexity.

"Don't be frightened, Charley. I'm all right,--neither ghost nor
vampire. But we shall be pushed off the sidewalk, if we stand here."

"Come down into Florence's, then, and let me hear about it. Hang me if
I ever expected to see you again. I shouldn't like to have met you
alone, at night, any where near a graveyard. At our last class
meeting, we were all talking about you, and saying you were a deused
good fellow, and what a pity it was. And here you are alive; it was
all for nothing!"

"That's very unlucky," said Morton, as they descended into the
restaurant.

"By Jove," exclaimed Shingles, whose amazement was still strong upon
him, "I was never so much astonished in my life as when I saw you just
now. I was coming out of a shop, as you passed along the sidewalk. I
felt as if I had seen a spirit. I followed behind you, and wasn't
quite sure it was you, till I saw your trick of rapping your cane
against the bricks as you walked along. Then I said to myself, it's
he, or else old Beelzebub, in his likeness. But come, tell us how it
was. How did you get off alive?"

Morton briefly recounted his imprisonment and escape, interrupted by
the wondering ejaculations of his auditor.

"Who would have thought," exclaimed Shingles, "when you and I used to
go up to Elk Pond, on Saturdays, to catch perch and pickerel, that you
would ever have been shut up in the dungeon of an Austrian castle? You
remember those old times--don't you?"

"That I do," said Morton.

"Do you remember the old tavern, where we used to lunch, and the
pretty girl that waited on the table?"

"The girl that you raved about all the way home? Yes, I remember."

"By Jove, to think you've been shut up in a dungeon! Well, I haven't
any very brilliant account to give of _my_self. I began to practise
law, but I was never meant for a lawyer; so I gave it up, and have
been ever since at my father's old place, just pottering about, you
know. I was born in the country, and brought up there, and I mean to
live there, only now and then I come down to New York, on a
bend,--just for a change."

"I suppose you can tell me the news. How are all the fellows? How is
Meredith?"

"Very well, I believe. He is living in Boston."

"Married, or single?"

"Single. We are not much of a marrying class. Wren was the first. Was
that before you went away, or after? We voted to send him a cradle;
but he did not know how to take it. He thought we were fooling him,
and got quite angry. No, we are not at all a marrying class, nor a
dying class either, for that matter. There are not more than five or
six dead, and twelve or fourteen married; we reckoned them up last
class meeting."

"Vinal--what of him?"

"O, he's alive, and married, too."

Morton turned pale. "Married!--to whom?"

"Well, they say he's made a first-rate match. I don't know her myself.
I'm not a party-going man; I never was, you know. I haven't been
thrown in much with that kind of people. But they tell me he couldn't
have done better."

"What's her name?" demanded Morton.

"Miss Leslie--Colonel Leslie's daughter. But what's the matter? Are
you ill?"

"It's nothing," gasped Morton; "I had a fever in prison, and have
never been quite well since. I grow dizzy, sometimes."

"You _will_ grow dizzy, with a vengeance, if you drink wine in that
way."

"It's nothing," repeated Morton; "it will be over in a minute. What
were you saying?"

"About the fellows that have married,--O, Vinal,--I was saying that he
had just got married."

"Well, what about it?"

"Why, nothing particular."

"When was it?"

"Last month."

"Within a month! Are you sure?"

"O, yes. I was in Boston myself at the time, and heard all about it.
Her father was ill; so the marriage was private. Vinal is a sort of
fellow that somehow I never cottoned to much. I don't think he's very
disinterested. I like a fellow that will swear when he is angry, and
not keep close shut up, like an oyster."

The tattle of his rustic companion was become intolerable to Morton.
He had received his stab, and wished to hear no more. In a few
minutes, he rose from the table. "Charley, I am sorry to leave you so
suddenly, but I am not well. The fresh air and a hard walk are all
that will set me up. I shall see you again."

"But where are you staying?"

"At Blancard's. Good morning, old fellow."



CHAPTER L.

_Fab._ . . . Elle est----.

_Sev._                      Quoi?

_Fab._                             Mariée!

_Sev._ . . . . . Ce coup de foudre est grand!--_Polyeucte_.

  The world's my oyster, which I with sword will open.--_Henry IV_.

  Put money in thy purse; follow these wars.--_Othello_.


Morton walked down Broadway at a rapid pace, entered his hotel,
mounted to his room, seated himself, rested his forehead on his hand,
and, with fixed eyes and compressed lips, remained in this position
for some minutes, motionless as if carved out of oak. Then, rising, he
paced the room, buried his face in his hands, and groaned with
irrepressible anguish. Suddenly the door was burst open, and an Irish
servant, apparently in a great hurry, bolted in, and tossed a card on
the table, saying at the same time,--"Gen'lman down stairs wants to
see you."

Morton broke into a rage, to hide the traces of a different passion.

"Why do you come in without knocking? Learn better manners, or I shall
teach them to you."

"I beg pardon, sir," said the servant, reduced at once to the depth of
obsequiousness, "there's a gentleman, sir--an officer, sir,--would
like to see you, sir."

"An officer!--I don't know any officers. There's some mistake."

"He _said_ Mr. Morton, sir. This is his card, sir."

Morton looked at the card, and read the name of his classmate Rosny.

"Very well. Ask the gentleman to come up.--No,--here,"--as the servant
was retreating along the passage,--"where is he?"

"In the reading room, sir."

"Tell him I will come down in a moment."

"Yes, sir, I will, sir."

Morton adjusted his dress, strove to banish from his features all
traces of the emotion which had just overwhelmed him, went down
stairs, and met Rosny with an air of as much cordiality as if there
were nothing in his mind but the pleasure of seeing an old friend.
Rosny, his first welcome over, surveyed him from head to foot.

"A good deal changed! Thinner,--darker complexioned, decidedly older.
And yet you've weathered it well. It's a thing that I could never
stand,--to be boxed up in four stone walls. I would throttle the
jailer first, and then knock my brains out against the stones."

"Did Shingles tell you of my being here?"

"Yes, I met him just now, with his eyes bigger than ever. When I saw
him making a dive at me across the street, among the omnibuses and
carriages, I knew that something extraordinary was to pay."

"_You_ have changed your outward man, too, since I saw you last," said
Morton, looking at his companion's costume, which consisted of a gray
volunteer uniform.

"Yes, I'm in Uncle Sam's pay now.--Off for Mexico in a day or
two;--revel in the Halls of the Montezumas, you know."

"What rank do you hold in the service, Dick?"

"You'll please to address me as Major Rosny; that is, till good luck
and the Mexican bullets make a colonel of me.--I have just dropped in
to shake hands with you. I have an appointment to keep in five
minutes. You have nothing particular to do to-day--have you?"

"Nothing very particular," said Morton, hesitating.

"Then come and dine with me at Delmonico's at four o'clock. What!--you
don't mean to say no, do you?--Is that the way you treat your friends?
Come, I shall be here at four, precisely. _Au revoir._"

And, with his usual celerity of motion, Rosny left the hotel.

Morton slowly remounted to his room, locked the door this time, to
keep out intruders, seated himself, and gave himself up to his dark
and morbid reveries.

"God! of what is this world made! Villany thrives, and innocent men
are racked with the pangs of hell. Poverty starving its
victims,--luxury poisoning them;--the passions of tigers and the mean
vices of reptiles;--treacherous hatred, faithless love;--deceitful
hope, vain struggles, endless suffering,--a hell of misery and
darkness. A fair sunrise, to cheat the eye;--then clouds and storms,
blackness and desolation! To look back over the last five years! Then
I was basking in sunshine; and out of that brightness what a doom is
fallen on me! My life--my guiding star quenched in a vile morass--lost
forever in the arms of this accursed villain!"

Morton rose abruptly, went to the window, and stood looking out with a
fixed gaze, wholly unconscious of what was before him. In a moment he
turned again, and there was a wild and deadly light in his eyes. A
thought had struck him, shooting an electric life through all his
veins, and kindling him into a kind of fierce ecstasy. He would go to
Vinal, charge him with his perfidy, challenge him, and put him to
death. He paced the room in great disorder. A resistless power seemed
to have seized upon him, sweeping him forward with the force of a
torrent. He clinched his teeth and breathed deeply. The thought of
action and of vengeance lighted up his perturbed and gloomy mind as
the baleful glare of a conflagration lights up a stormy midnight.
Suddenly he stopped, seated himself again, and remained for some
minutes in violent mental conflict. "I thank God," he murmured at
length, apostrophizing his enemy, "that you were not just now within
my reach. You have ruined me for this life; you shall not ruin me for
the next. Live, and work out your own destruction."

He walked the room again, calmly enough, but in great dejection. "It
may be," he thought, "that I am not his only victim. Perhaps the same
art that snared me, has, by some infernal machination, entrapped her
also. I believe it;--at least, I will try to believe it."

He looked from the window upon the keen and busy crowds passing below
in unbroken streams, to and from their places of business; and his
mind tinged them with its own moody coloring.

"You flight of human vultures! How many of you can show lives governed
by any generous purpose or noble thought? Behind how many of those
sharp and sallow features, furrowed with early wrinkles, lies the soul
of a man? Desperate chasers after wealth, which, when you have won it,
you have never been taught to use;--reckless pleasure hunters,
beguiling others that your victims may beguile in turn, and both sink
to perdition together. What you win with trickery, you throw away in
vanity or debauch. The counting room or the broker's board by
day;--brandy, billiards, and the rendezvous by night;--so you go,--a
short, quick road;--driving to your doom with a high-pressure power of
rapacity, vain glory, and lust. Man!--the thistledown of fortune, the
shuttlecock of passion;--whirled on to destruction by the wildfire in
his veins, unless by struggling and by prayer he can keep the narrow
adamantine track laid down for his career!"

In such distempered reflections he passed some time. Even in the
darkest passages of his imprisonment, his mind had scarcely been
shaken so far from its habitual poise. Growing weary at length of
solitude, he went out of the house; and, avoiding the great
thoroughfares, where he might perhaps meet an acquaintance, he
threaded at a rapid pace those meaner streets and lanes, where even
the best balanced mind may find abundant food for gloomy meditation.
From time to time, as the image of his enemy rose before him, the
desire for vengeance came upon him afresh, like a fever fit. He burned
to seize Vinal by the throat, and, at least, force him to unmask his
iniquity to the world.

As he was passing down Water Street, he recollected, with some
vexation, that Rosny had promised to call for him at four o'clock, and
retraced his steps to the hotel, where, true to the minute, that
punctual adventurer presently appeared.

"Come," said Rosny; "if you are ready, we will walk down street."

They repaired to Delmonico's, where, in a private room, a sumptuous
repast had been made ready. Morton, over his companion's claret, was
obliged to recount the circumstances of his imprisonment. Rosny, on
his part, gave an outline of his own fortunes since they had last met.
He had been once or twice on the point of very considerable success,
but his vaulting ambition had always overleaped itself, and by too
great eagerness and grasping at too much, he had repeatedly failed of
his prize, only, however, to rally after every reverse with
undiminished confidence and spirit. Such, at least, were the
conclusions which Morton drew from his companion's somewhat inflated
account of himself.

After the cloth had been removed, Rosny bit off the end of a cigar,
lighted it, puffed at it two or three times, and then, holding it
between his fingers, went on with an harangue which the operations of
the waiter had interrupted.

"I tell you, these are great times that we live in. The world has seen
nothing like them since the days of Columbus and Cortes. These are the
times and this is the country for a man of merit to thrive in. Let him
identify himself with the progressive movements of the age,--yes,
faith, let him be a leader of them,--and there's nothing too large for
him to hope for. Why, sir, the day is not far off, when the stars and
stripes will be seen from Hudson's Bay to Panama. Cuba will come next;
Brazil next. Lord knows where we shall stop. There's a field for a man
of ability and pluck!"

Morton smiled. Rosny relighted his cigar, which, in the fervor of his
declamation, he had allowed to go out, gave a vigorous whiff or two,
and proceeded.

"We have just lost a splendid chance. I _did_ flatter myself that
there was going to be a row with England, on the Oregon question; but
it was a flash in the pan; it all ended in smoke."

"Why do you want to fight with John Bull?" asked Morton.

"For two good reasons. In the first place, I hate him. I hate him in
right of my French ancestors, and I hate him as a true American
democrat. Then, over and above all that, a war with the English would
be the making of me. I should rise then. I would be their Hannibal.
But now we have nothing better to do than giving fits to these yellow
Mexican vagabonds."

"A shabby employment," said Morton, "and yet I think I should like
it."

"You would, ey?--then go with me to Mexico."

"It's a temptation," said Morton, his eyes lighted with a sudden
gleam,--"I am in a mood for any thing, I do not care what."

"I knew there was something ailing you," said Rosny; "why, you have
had no appetite. You've lost all your spirits. Has any thing happened?
Are you ill?"

"Nothing to speak of. I am well enough in health."

"Well, come with me to Mexico. When a man is under a cloud, he always
makes the better soldier for it. If you have had bad luck, why, you
can fight like a Trojan."

"I could storm Hell Gates to-day," exclaimed Morton, giving a
momentary vent to his long pent up emotion.

"Good! I always knew that there was stuff in you, though you _are_
worth half a million. It isn't that, though--is it? You haven't lost
property--have you?"

"Not that I know. Never mind, Dick; every man has his little
vexations, sometimes, and is entitled to the privilege of swearing at
them."

"Well, I am not the man to pry into your private affairs. Come with me
to Mexico. I can promise you a captain's commission,--perhaps I can
get you a major's. I am not a cipher in the democratic party, I'd have
you know, though I am not yet what I shall be soon. I helped Polk to
his election, and my word will go for something. But, pshaw!--what am
I talking about? With your money, and a little management, you can get
any thing you want."

"I have more than half a mind," said Morton, hesitating; "but, no,--I
won't go."

"Pshaw, man! You don't know what you are saying. You don't know what
chances you are throwing away. Look at it. It isn't the military
fame,--the glorification in the newspapers,--seeing pictures of
yourself in the shop windows, charging full tilt among the Mexicans,
and all that. You can take that for what it's worth. Tastes differ in
such matters. But, I tell you, the men who distinguish themselves in
Mexico are going to carry all before them in the political world. The
people will go for them, neck or nothing. I know what our enlightened
democracy is made of."--Here a slight grin flickered for an instant
about the corners of his mouth; but he grew serious again at
once.--"Yes, sir, a new world is going to begin. The old
incumbents--Webster, Clay, Calhoun, and the rest--will pass off the
stage, before long, and make room for younger men--men who will keep
up with the times. Then will be our chance! Put brass in your
forehead,--you have money enough in your purse already,--get a halo of
Mexican glory round your head,--and you will shoot up like a rocket.
First go to the war, then dive into politics, and you and I will be
the biggest frogs in the puddle."

"There's a fallacy in your conclusions," said Morton; "the officers of
rank, the generals and colonels, will carry off the glory; and we
shall have nothing but the blows."

"The Mexican bullets will make that all right. I tell you, they are
going to fly like hail. They will dock off the heads above us, and
make a clear path for us to mount by."

"Suppose that they should hit the wrong man," suggested Morton.

"Pshaw!" exclaimed Rosny, "we won't look at the matter in that light."

There was a momentary pause.

"Now's your time," urged Rosny. "Come, say the word."

Morton paced the room with knit brows and lips pressed together.

"Glory,"--exclaimed his military friend, summing up the advantages of
a Mexican campaign,--"glory,--preferment,--life, of the fastest
kind,--what more would you have?"

Morton had a strong native thirst for adventure, and a _penchant_ for
military exploit. In his present frame of mind, he felt violently
impelled to cut loose from all his old ideas and scruples, and launch
at once upon a new life, fresh, unshackled, and reckless,--to plunge
headlong into the tumult of the active world; fight its battles, run
its races, give and take its blows, strain after its prizes,--forget
the past and all its associations in the fever of the present. Mexico
rose before his thoughts--snowy volcanoes, and tropical forests; the
cocoa, the palm, and the cactus; bastioned cities and intrenched
heights; the rush and din of battle; war with its fierce excitements
and unbounded license. To his disordered mood, the scene had
fascinations almost resistless, and he burned to play his part in the
fiery drama.

"And why not?"--so his thoughts ran,--"why not obey what fate and
nature dictate? Calm, and peace, and happiness,--farewell to them!
That stake is played and lost. I am no more fit now for domestic life
than a prairie wolf. I should answer better for an Ishmaelite or a
Pawnee. _Deus vult._ Why should I fly in the face of Providence?"

Rosny, his uniform coat half unbuttoned for the sake of ease, sat
lolling back in his chair, puffing wreaths of cigar smoke from his
lips, eying Morton as he paced the room, and throwing out, from time
to time, a word of encouragement to stimulate his resolution. He was
about to lose all patience at his companion's pertinacious silence,
when the latter stopped, and turned towards him with the air of one
whose mind is made up.

"Dick," said Morton, "when I was in college, I laid down my plan of
life, and adopted one maxim--to which I mean to hold fast."

"Well, what was that?" demanded the impatient Rosny.

"Never to abandon an enterprise once begun; to push on till the point
is gained, in spite of pain, delay, danger, disappointment,--any
thing."

"Good, so far. What next?"

"Some years ago, I entered upon certain plans, which have not yet been
accomplished. I have been interrupted, balked, kicked and cuffed by
fortune, till I am more than half disgusted with the world. But I mean
still to take up the broken thread where I left it, and carry it
forward as before."

"The moral of that is, I suppose, that you won't go to Mexico."

"Precisely."

"Well, I shan't try to debate the matter with you. I know you of old.
When your foot is once down, it's useless for me to try to make you
lift it up again. But remember what I say,--you will repent not taking
my advice."

Rosny finished his cigar, and they left the restaurant together. On
their way up the street, they stopped at a recruiting office. "Captain
Rumbold, my friend Mr. Morton," said Rosny, who soon after, however,
entered into an earnest conversation with the officer upon some affair
of business, leaving Morton at leisure to observe six or eight
volunteers, who were about to be sent to Governor's Island, in charge
of a sergeant.

"What do you think of our boys?" asked Rosny, casting a comical look
at Morton, as they went down stairs.

"I never saw such a gang of tobacco-chewing, soap-locked rascals."

"Food for powder," said Rosny, "they'll fill a ditch as well as
better. The country needs a little blood-letting. These fellows are
not like Falstaff's, though. They will fight. Not a man of them but
will whip his weight in wildcats."



CHAPTER LI.

  A raconter ses maux, souvent on les soulage.--_Polyeucte_.


"Do you remember Buckland?" asked Rosny, as they walked up Broadway.

"The Virginian? Yes, perfectly."

"There he is."

Morton, following the direction of his companion's eye, saw, a little
in advance, a tall man, slenderly but gracefully formed, walking
slowly, with a listless air, as if but half conscious of what was
going on around him. They checked their pace, to avoid overtaking him.

"Poor fellow!" said Rosny; "he's in a bad way."

"I am sorry to hear it. He was a lively, pleasant fellow when I knew
him,--very fond of the society of ladies."

"That's all over now. He has been very dissipated for the last two or
three years, and is broken down completely, body and mind. It's a
great pity. I am very sorry for him," said Rosny, in whom,
notwithstanding his restless ambition, there was a vein of warm and
kindly feeling.

"Is he living in New York?"

"Yes, he has been here ever since leaving college. He began to
practise as a lawyer. It's much he ever did or ever will do at the
law! There was never any go-ahead in him--no energy, no decision--and
he does nothing now, but read a little, and lounge about, in a moody,
abstracted way, with his wits in the clouds. Get him into good
company, and wind him up with a glass of brandy, and he is himself
again for a while,--tells a story and sings a song as he used to
do,--but it is soon over. Do you want to speak to him?"

"Yes."

"Come on, then. How are you, Buckland? Here's an old friend,
redivivus."

Hearing himself thus accosted, Buckland turned towards the speaker a
face which, though pale and sallow, was still handsome. His dress,
contrary to his former habit, was careless and negligent; and, though
he could not have been more than thirty, a few gray hairs had begun to
mingle with his long, black moustache. Changed as he was, he had that
air of quiet and graceful courtesy which can only be acquired by
habitual intercourse with polished society in early life; and Morton
saw in him the melancholy wreck of a highly-bred gentleman.

When the first surprise of the meeting was over, Rosny related the
story of Morton's imprisonment to the wondering ear of Buckland.
Having urgent business on his hands, he soon after took leave of his
two companions. Morton and Buckland, after strolling for a time up and
down Broadway, entered the restaurant attached to Blancard's hotel,
and took a table in a remote corner of the room, which was nearly
empty.

Buckland was, as Rosny had described him, moody and abstracted, often
seeming at a loss to collect his thoughts. He sipped his chocolate in
silence, and, even when spoken to, sometimes returned no answer.
Morton, in little better spirits than his companion, sat leaning his
forehead dejectedly on his hand.

"I am sorry," said Buckland, after one of his silent fits, "to be so
wretched a companion; but I am not the man I used to be."

"We are but a melancholy pair," replied Morton.

"I saw from the first that you were very much out of spirits,--not at
all what one would expect a man to be who had just escaped from
sufferings like yours. There is some trouble on your mind."

Morton was fatigued and sick at heart. He had practised self-control
till he was tired of it; and he allowed a shade of emotion to pass
across his face.

"There is a woman in it," said Buckland, regarding him with a
scrutinizing eye.

"Why do you say that?" demanded Morton, startled and dismayed at this
home thrust.

"Are not women the source of nine tenths of our sufferings?" replied
Buckland. "The world is a huge, clashing, jangling, disjointed piece
of mechanism, and they are the authors of its worst disorder."

"Sometimes," said Morton, "men will blame women for sufferings which
they might, with better justice, lay at their own doors."

Buckland raised his head quickly, and looked in his companion's face.
"It may be so," he said, after a moment's pause. "Perhaps you are
right,--perhaps you are right. But, let that be as it will, there are
no miseries in life to match those which spring out of the relation of
the sexes."

Morton, for reasons of his own, did not care to pursue the subject,
and his companion relapsed into his former silence. After a time, they
went into the smoking room, where Buckland lighted a cigar. Morton
observed that, as he did so, his fingers trembled in a manner which
showed that his whole nervous system was shattered and unstrung.

"I would not advise you to smoke much," said Morton; "you have not the
constitution to bear it."

Buckland smiled bitterly. He had grown reckless whether he injured
himself or not.

They seated themselves near the window; but Buckland soon grew uneasy,
alternately looking at his watch and gazing into the street. At length
he rose, and asked Morton to walk out with him. The latter, on the
principle that misery loves company, readily complied; and they went
down Broadway nearly to the Bowling Green. Here Buckland turned, and
they retraced their steps to within a few squares of the Astor House.
This they repeated several times, Morton's companion constantly
resisting every movement on his part to vary in the least the course
of their promenade. While their walk was up the street, Buckland,
though evidently restless and uneasy, had the same abstracted air as
before; but when they moved in the opposite direction, his whole
manner changed, and he seemed anxiously on the watch, as if for some
person whom he expected every moment to meet. It was about eight in
the evening. The street was brilliant with gas; crowds of people, men
and women, were moving along the sidewalk; and upon each group, as it
approached, Buckland bent a gaze of eager scrutiny.

They were passing a large bookstore, when Morton felt his companion
suddenly press the arm on which he was leaning. Hastily stepping
aside, and dragging Morton with him, he ensconced himself behind the
board on which the bookseller pasted his advertising placards, which
partially concealed him, and, together with the projection over the
shop door, screened him from the light of the neighboring gas lamp.
Here he stood motionless, his eyes riveted on some approaching object.
Following the direction of his gaze, Morton saw a tall man in the
uniform of an army officer of rank, and, leaning on his arm, a light
and delicate female figure, elegantly, but not showily dressed. They
were close at hand when he discovered them, and in a moment they had
passed on under the glare of the lamp, and mingled with the throng
beyond; but Morton retained a vivid impression of features beautifully
moulded, and a pair of restless dark eyes, roving from side to side
with piercing, yet furtive glances.

Buckland, stepping from his retreat, made a hesitating, forward
movement, as if undecided whether to follow them or not. He stopped
with a kind of suppressed groan, and taking Morton's arm again, moved
slowly with him down the street. Two or three times, Morton spoke to
him, but he seemed not to hear, or, at best, answered in
monosyllables, with an absent air. When they reached the hotel, then
recently established on the European plan, near the Bowling Green,
Buckland entered, called for brandy, and, his companion declining to
join him, hastily drank the liquor with the same trembling hand which
Morton had before remarked. On leaving the house, they continued their
walk downward till they reached the Battery. And as they entered the
shaded walks of that promenade, the moon was shining on the trees, and
on the quiet waters of the adjacent bay.

"You must think very strangely of me," said Buckland, at length
breaking his long silence; "in fact, I scarcely know myself. I am a
changed man,--a lost and broken man, body and soul,--a sea-weed
drifting helplessly on the water."

"You take too dark a view," said Morton, greatly moved; "there is good
hope for you yet, if you will not fling it away."

Buckland shook his head. "I wish I had been born such a man as Rosny.
He is a practical man of the world, always in pursuit of something,
with nothing to excite or trouble him but the success or failure of
his schemes. He cannot understand my feelings. Yes, I wish to Heaven I
had been born a practical, hard-headed man,--such, for instance, as
your cool, common sense Yankees. What do they know or care for the
troubles that are wearing me away by inches?"

"Buckland," said Morton, "your nerves are very much weakened and
disordered, and particular troubles weigh upon and engross you, as
they could not if you were well. What you most need is a good
physician."

"'Could he minister to a mind diseased?' Come, sit down here--on this
bench. Perhaps you have never felt--I hope you have never had occasion
to feel--impelled to relieve some torment pressing on your mind, by
telling it to a friend. Genuine friends are rare. When one meets them,
he knows them by instinct. I need not fear you; you will not laugh at
me to yourself, and tell me, as some others do, that a man of force
and energy would fling off an affair like mine, and not suffer it to
weigh upon him like a nightmare."

"When you have recovered your health, perhaps I may tell you so; but
not till then."

"I am like the Ancient Mariner," continued Buckland, with a faint
smile; "when I find the man who must hear my story, I know him the
moment I see his face. Your good sense will tell you that I have been
a knave and a fool; but your good heart will prevent your showing me
that you think so."

Morton looked with deep compassion on his old comrade, and wondered
what follies or misfortunes could have sunk his former gallant spirit
so far. In his weakened and depressed condition, Buckland seemed to
lean for support on his friend's firmer and better governed nature,
and to draw strength from the contact.

"After all," he said in a livelier tone, "what right have I to bore
you with this story of mine?"

"Any thing that you are willing to tell," answered Morton, "I shall be
glad to hear."



CHAPTER LII.

  On me laisse tout croire; on fait gloire de tout;
  Et cependant mon coeur est encore assez lâche
  Pour ne pouvoir briser la chaîne qui l'attache.--_Le Misanthrope_.


"I had an old friend," Buckland began, with some glimmering of his
former vivacity,--"De Ruyter,--I don't think you ever knew him. He was
the representative of a family great in its day and generation, but
broken in fortune, and without means to support its pretensions. This
did not at all tend to diminish their pride,--precisely of that kind
which goeth before destruction. De Ruyter was a good fellow, however,
and, if he had had twenty thousand a year, he would have spent it all.
One summer, four years ago, he went with his child--his wife had died
the year before--and his two sisters to spend a few weeks at a quiet
little watering-place on the Jersey shore, frequented by people of
good standing, but not fashionably inclined. De Ruyter praised the
sporting in the neighborhood, and persuaded me to go with him.

"His sisters were very agreeable women,--cultivated and lively, but
proud as Lucifer, and desperately exclusive. A _nouveau riche_ was, in
their eyes, equivalent to every thing that is odious and detestable;
and to call a man a _parvenu_ was to steep him in infamy forever. The
men at the house were, for the most part, of no great account--chiefly
old bachelors, or sober family men run to seed, with a number of
awkward young boobies not yet in bloom. The two ladies liked the
company of a lazy fellow like me, a butterfly of society, with the
poets, at least the sentimental ones, on my tongue's end, and the
latest advices from the fashionable world. I staid there a week, and
when that was over they persuaded me to stay another.

"On the day after, there was a fresh arrival,--a gentleman from
Philadelphia, with his sister and his daughter. He only remained for
the night, and went away in the morning, leaving the ladies behind.
The sister was a starched old person,--a sort of purblind duenna, with
grizzled hair, gold spectacles, and cap. The daughter I need not
describe, for you saw her half an hour ago.

"Her family was good enough; her father a lawyer in Philadelphia. She
was well educated--played admirably, and spoke excellent French and
Italian. How much or how little she had frequented cultivated society,
I do not know,--her own assertions went for nothing; but she had the
utmost ease and grace of manner, and an invincible self-possession.
Her ruling passion was a compound of vanity and pride, an insatiable
craving for admiration and power. Whatever associates she happened to
be among, nothing satisfied her but to be the cynosure of all eyes,
the centre of all influence. I have known women enough,--women of all
kinds, good, bad, and indifferent; but such a one as she I never met
but once. I shall not soon forget the evening when I first saw her,
seated opposite me at the tea table. She was a small, light
figure,--as you saw her just now,--the features, perhaps, a trifle too
large. I never recall her, as she appeared at that time, without
thinking of Byron's description of one of his mischief-making
heroines:--

  "'Her form had all the softness of her sex,
      Her features all the sweetness of the devil,
    When he put on the cherub to perplex
      Eve, and paved--God knows how--the road to evil.'

"She was utterly unscrupulous. The depth of her artifice was
unfathomable. She soon became the moving spirit of that little cockney
watering-place--some admiring her, some hating her, some desperately
smitten with her. I can see through her manoeuvres now, but then I was
blind as a mole. She understood every body about her, and held out to
each the kind of bait which was most likely to attract him. There was
a sort of _dilettante_ there whose heart she won by talking to him of
the Italian poets, which, by the way, she really loved, for there was
a dash of genius in her. She aimed to impress each one with the idea
that in her heart she liked him better than any one else; and it was
her game to appear on all occasions perfectly impulsive and
spontaneous, while, in fact, every look, word, or act of hers had an
object in it. In short, she was an accomplished actress; and, had her
figure been more commanding, she might have rivalled Rachel on the
stage. No two people were exactly agreed in opinion concerning her;
but all--I mean all the men--thought her excessively interesting; and
I remember that two young collegians had nearly fought a duel about
her, each thinking that she was in love with him. Nothing delighted
her more than to become the occasion of the jealousy of married women
towards their husbands,--nothing, that is, except the still greater
delight of fascinating a certain young New Yorker who had come to the
house on a visit to his betrothed.

"For some time every one supposed her to be unmarried. She did her
best, indeed, to encourage the idea, since she thus gained to herself
more notice and more marked attentions. At length, to the astonishment
of every body, it came out that she had been, for more than a year,
married to a cousin of her own, a weak and imbecile youngster, as I
afterwards learned, who was then absent on an East India voyage, and
who, happily for himself, has since died.

"I said that all the men in the house were interested in her; but you
should have seen the commotion she raised among the women! There were
three or four simple girls about her who admired her, and were her
devoted instruments; but with the rest she was at sword's point. There
were a thousand ways in which they and she could come into collision;
and, of course, they soon found her out, while the men remained in the
dark. If they were handsome and attractive, she hated them; and if
they would not conform to her will, she could never forgive it. The
disputes, the jars, the jealousies, the backbitings, the tricks and
stratagems of female warfare that I have seen in that house, and all
of her raising! She was a dangerous enemy. Her tongue could sting like
a wasp; and all the while she would smile on her victim as if she were
reporting some agreeable compliment. She had a satanic dexterity in
dealing out her stabs, always choosing the time, place, and company,
where they would tell with the sharpest effect.

"With all her insincerity, there was still a tincture of reality in
her. Her passions and emotions were strong; and she was so addicted to
falsehood, that I am confident she did not always know whether the
feeling she expressed were real or pretended.

"The grace and apparent _abandon_ of her manner, her beauty, her wit,
her singular power of influencing the will of others, and the dash of
poetry, which, strange as you may think it, still pervaded her, made
her altogether a very perilous acquaintance. I, certainly, have cause
to say so. I lingered a week, a fortnight, a month, and still could
not find resolution to go. I had an air, a name in society, and the
reputation of being dangerous. She thought me worth angling for, put
forth all her arts, and caught me.

"I have read an Indian legend of a fisherman who catches a fish and
drags him to the surface, but in the midst of his triumph, the fish
swallows him, canoe and all. The angler, however, kills him by
striking at his heart with his flinty war club, and then makes his
escape by tearing a way through his vitals. The case of the fish is
precisely analogous to mine. She caught me, as I said before; but I
caught her in turn. She fell in love with me, wildly and desperately.
Her passions were as fierce and as transient as a tropical hurricane.
She had no scruples; and I had not as many as I should have had. One
evening we were gone, and two days after we were out of sight of land
on board one of the Cunard steamers.

"For the next two months, I was in paradise. Then came a purgatory, or
something worse. Her passion for me subsided as quickly as it had
arisen. She was herself again. Her vanity and artifice, her insatiable
love of intrigue and adventure, returned with double force. I wore
myself out with watching, vexation, and anxiety. She tried every means
to attract attention and draw admirers, and every where she succeeded.
I remember that one night at Naples she insisted on going with me to
the theatre of San Carlo, in the dress of a young man, and wearing a
moustache. The disguise was detected, as she meant it should be, and
eyes centred upon her from all the boxes. I tried to travel with her
through remote and unfrequented countries, such as the interior of
Sicily; but it was all in vain. There was no resisting her fiery will,
and I was compelled to go wherever she wished.

"One afternoon, at Messina, at the _table d'hôte_, we met a lively
young Spanish nobleman. She caught his eye; I saw them exchange
glances. In spite of all my precautions, messages, billets, and
momentary interviews passed between them. I challenged the Spaniard,
gave him a severe flesh wound, and thought I had taught him a lesson.
Not at all. On the next day, coming to my lodgings, I found her gone,
no one could tell whither. I was desperate, and could have done any
thing; but there was nothing to be done. I could not find her, and if
I had it would have availed me nothing.

"I returned to America, wrought up to the verge of a nervous fever;
and, by mingling in amusements of every kind, tried to forget her. In
six or eight months I had partially succeeded. My health was not good,
and I had made a journey of a few weeks to the west; when, on
returning,--it was a sultry July afternoon,--I remember it as if it
were yesterday,--sitting in the reading room window of the New York
Hotel, I saw her passing down Broadway in an open carriage; and, with
the sight, my passion awoke again at fever heat. She had left the
Spaniard, and come to America with a New York gentleman, who had lived
for some time in Paris. I had an interview with her, and she promised
to join me again; but she broke her word. She saw at once what a power
she still held over me; and she has used it most mercilessly ever
since. She practises all her arts on me, as if I were a new lover,
whom she wished to insnare. Sometimes she flatters me; sometimes she
repels me; now and then she allows me stolen interviews, or long walks
or rides with her. She plays me as an angler plays a salmon that he
has hooked, till he brings him gasping to his death. I have plunged
into dissipations of all kinds, to drown the memory of her. It is all
useless. She knows the torments I am suffering, and she rejoices in
them. Perhaps she remembers that it was I who made her what she is,
and takes this for her revenge. But, pshaw!--if I had not eloped with
her, some one else would have done so soon; and that she perfectly
well knows. It is her vanity--nothing but her vanity: she delights to
hold me in bondage; she knows that I am her slave, and she glories in
it."

"But why, in Heaven's name," demanded Morton, "do you not break away
from this miserable fascination?"

"There it is!" Buckland answered; "I only wish that I had the power. I
have resolved twenty times to leave New York, and my resolution has
failed me as often."

"Who takes charge of her now?"

"Colonel ----. He seems as crazy after her as I was."

"I can hardly comprehend," pursued Morton, "how, understanding her
character as you do, you can still remain so infatuated with her."

"Neither can I comprehend it. I can only feel it. Strange--is it
not?--that I, who used to be regarded as a mere flirt; who, as a lady
acquaintance once told me, had a great deal too much sentiment, but no
heart at all; I, who, in my time, have written love verses to twenty
different ladies,--should be so enchained at last by this black-eyed
witch!"

"Very strange."

"And now what would you recommend? what advice do you give me? You see
in what a predicament I stand. What ought I to do?"

"With your broken health and weakened nerves," said Morton, "it is
useless for you to attempt contending against this fancy that has
taken possession of you. You must run away from it. Take a long
voyage; the longer the better. I will go with you to engage your
passage to-morrow."

Buckland hesitated at first, slowly shaking his head; but in a moment
he said, with some animation, "Yes, I will go, on one condition; you
must promise to go with me."

The will, the motive power,--never very strong in him,--was now
completely relaxed. He was unfitted for action of any kind, and was,
as he himself said, no better than a sea weed drifting on the water.
Morton walked the streets with him for some hours. He seemed to cling
to his companion, like an ivy to the supporting trunk, and was
evidently reluctant to resign his company. At length, Morton, who was
exhausted with the excitements of the day, pleaded fatigue, and bade
him good night. He turned again, however, and, by the blaze of the gas
lamps, followed with his eye Buckland's slowly receding figure.

"A few hours ago," he said to himself, "I thought myself unhappy; but
what is my suffering compared to his? I am not, thank God, the builder
of my own misfortunes, nor pursued with the reflection that they are a
just retribution for my own misdeeds. With health, liberty,
self-respect, and a good conscience, what man has a right to call
himself miserable?"



CHAPTER LIII.

  The paths of glory lead but to the grave.--_Gray's Elegy_.


Mr. Shingles had an acquaintance among the gentlemen of the press;
and, chancing to meet his quill-driving friend, he told him Morton's
story. It appeared, accordingly, beautifully embellished, in one of
the evening papers, and was copied, the next morning, into several
others. Consequently, Morton had scarcely risen from breakfast, when
he was visited by half a dozen persons, editors and others, eager to
hear his adventures, for the gratification of their own curiosity, or
that of the public. As he detested such visitations, and as several of
his callers, from their countenances alone, inspired him with an
earnest longing to kick them down stairs, he hastened to avoid the
nuisance by escaping into the street. Since the tidings he had heard
from Shingles, his native town had lost all attraction for him; in
fact he shrank from going thither, and willingly lingered another day
in New York.

Going to Buckland's lodgings, he renewed his persuasions of the
evening before, and strongly urged him to leave New York. Buckland
assented to every thing he said; and, hearing of a ship about to sail
for the East Indies, Morton went with his friend to the merchant to
whom she belonged, and induced him to engage a passage in her.

Returning to his hotel at about two o'clock, a waiter brought him a
card, telling him that a boy had just left it for him. It was Rosny's;
and on it were scrawled with a pencil the following concise and
characteristic words:--

Dear M.: Uncle Sam in a deuse of a hurry. Ordered to the island this
afternoon. Off for Mexico to-morrow. Sorry not to see you, but haven't
a minute to spare. Good luck.--_Au revoir._

                       Yours till doomsday,
                                                       ROSNY.

Morton went to the recruiting office where he had been with Rosny on
the day before, learned the time and place of the embarkation, was on
the spot at the hour named, and in a few minutes saw Rosny striding
down the wharf in most unmilitary haste, his hair fluttering in the
wind. He was so engrossed in making certain arrangements, and issuing
his mandates to the soldiers who were to row him and some other
officers to Governor's Island, that he did not observe Morton, who
stood quietly leaning against a post.

"Hallo, Dick," said the latter at length. "Haven't you eyes to see
your friends?"

Rosny turned, in great surprise, and greeted him most emphatically.

"Come, Morton," he said, as he was stepping into the boat, "you'll
change your mind after all,--won't you?--and meet me at Vera Cruz."

"I'll sit at home, and read your exploits in the papers," replied
Morton.

"Well; a wilful man must have his way. Adieu."

"Good by. May you live to be a general, or any thing else you like,
short of the presidency."

"Why, shouldn't I make a good president?"

"No."

"What? too progressive,--too wide awake,--too enlightened, ey?"

"Yes, and too pugnacious."

"There you are again, Boston all over. I'll be president yet, if only
to spite the Bostonites. You shall write my life, and I'll give you an
office for it. Farewell."

Morton watched the receding boat till it was almost out of sight,
waved his hat to Rosny, who waved his own in return, and walked back
to the hotel, wondering what would be the issue of his old classmate's
ambitious schemes.

How, among a throng of brave men, Rosny gained a name for determined
daring;--how, on every occasion that offered, he displayed the fire of
the Frenchman, and the stubborn mettle of the Saxon, whose blood
mingled in his veins;--how, though sick and wounded, he dragged
himself from the hospital at Puebla, and, mounting his horse, pushed
forward with the advancing columns;--how gallantly, under the
murdering storm of musketry and grape, he led his intrepid blackguards
up the rocks of Chapultepec;--how, while shouting among the foremost,
he climbed the hostile rampart, a bullet plunged into his brain, and
dashed him, quivering and dead, to the foot of the scaling
ladders;--all this, and more likewise, is it not written in the New
York Herald?

About a year after Rosny's departure, Morton chanced to be again in
New York, when, in going out one morning, he beheld all the symptoms
of some impending solemnity. Flags, festooned with crape, were strung
across Broadway from building to building. The shops were half closed,
and the streets were fast filling with people. Patriot citizens,
exchanging the yardstick for the sword, strode the sidewalk in
gorgeous panoply; and now and then a mounted warrior cantered along
the pavement, struggling to keep his balance on his fiery coach horse.
In an hour or two more, the pageant was in full operation. Looking
from his hotel window Morton beheld a radiant river of shining
bayonets, many colored plumes, and martial millinery, solemnly flowing
down the middle of Broadway, to strange and lugubrious music, between
melancholy shores of black broadcloth and beaver hats. At length a
train of hearses appeared slowly advancing to the wailing music of the
bands, encircled by the harmless sabres of the civic warriors, playing
soldier, around the remains of those who had borne the part in tragic
earnest. Over every hearse the national flag was drooping, and upon
each was inscribed the name of its unconscious tenant. They were
officers slain in battle during the last Mexican campaign. Four of the
hearses passed. Morton read the names. They were all unknown to him;
but as the fifth approached, he looked, started, and looked again; for
wrought in white upon the sable drapery he saw, distinct and clear,
the name of Rosny. Descending to the street, he joined the procession;
he even underwent the funeral oration at the City Hall; and when it
was over, shouldering through the crowd, he stood by the side of all
that remained of his old classmate. Rosny's cap, and the sword he had
used so well, lay on the lid of the coffin; and Morton turned away,
with eyes not quite dry, as he recalled his many genial traits and his
undaunted spirit.

To resume. On returning to his hotel after taking leave of Rosny,
Morton found a note awaiting him, directed in a female hand. He opened
it, and read the signature,--Ellen Ashland,--the name of a lady whom
he had well known in Boston, and who, just before he had sailed for
Europe, had been married to an eminent lawyer of his acquaintance. She
wrote that she had seen an account of his escape from prison, and
arrival in New York, in the morning paper,--expressed an earnest wish
to see him, and invited him to visit her at the New York Hotel, where
she was spending a few days with her husband.

As the time named was almost come, Morton called a coach, and drove up
town. His friend received him with a peculiar warmth and earnestness
of manner. Morton had known her as a person of marked character and
strong but strictly governed emotions, not always permitting the
expression of a feeling to keep pace with the feeling itself. He
greatly liked and esteemed her, and her presence disarmed him, in a
great degree, of his usual reserve.

Her husband had been absent all day in Brooklyn, and would not return
till late in the evening.

"It is five years since I have spoken to a lady," said Morton, as he
seated himself at the tea table.

As he was not scrupulous to wear a mask before her, she quickly
discovered the depressed condition of his mind; and on her charging
him with being very much out of spirits, he admitted that he was so.

"One would think," she observed, "that after the sufferings that you
have passed, you would have come home in a different mood of mind."

"And so I did," said Morton.

"You seem in no great haste to see your friends and relations in
Boston."

"I have no near relations there."

"But you have friends."

"Yes; I have heard from them. I met an acquaintance yesterday."

"You have heard, then----" And she bent her eyes upon his face, with a
look searching but full of kindness, as if studying his thoughts.

"Five years," she continued, "is a long time. Great changes may have
taken place."

"Changes _have_ taken place," said Morton.

"You have lost none of your intimate friends, as far as I know them;
but some have left Boston, and some are married."

Morton did not look up; but an undefined expression passed across his
face, like the shadow of a black cloud. When, a moment after, he
raised his eyes, he saw those of Mrs. Ashland fixed upon him with the
same earnest gaze as before. Such scrutiny from another would have
been intolerable to him; but in her it gave him no uneasiness.

A servant entering changed for a time the character of their
conversation. A quarter of an hour afterwards they were again alone,
and Morton was seated near the window, when his friend approached him,
her features kindling with a look of ill-suppressed feeling, laid her
hand on his shoulder, and said, "Vassall,"--she had always before
addressed him as Mr. Morton,--"my heart bleeds for you--for you and
for Edith Leslie."

Morton looked up till he met her eyes. The surprise, the sudden
consciousness that she was privy to his grief, the warm and heartfelt
woman's sympathy that he read in every line of her face, were too much
for his manhood, and he burst into tears.



CHAPTER LIV.

  Elle n'est point parjure, elle n'est point légère;
  Son devoir m'a trahi, mon malheur, et son père.--_Polyeucte_.


Morton's evening with Mrs. Ashland, and the story which she told him,
removed at least one pain from his breast. He learned that Edith
Leslie was not in fault; and that, great as his misfortune might be,
his idol was not turned to clay.

His friend's narrative, however, was very defective. She could give
results merely, not knowing, or suspecting, the hidden springs which
produced them; and Morton was left to form his own conclusions. The
following is a more explicit statement.

Morton embarked for Europe, and the return steamer brought, in due
course, a letter to Edith Leslie. With the next steamer came another;
with the next, a third; all as absurd epistles as the most exacting
mistress could desire. The succeeding mail was silent. She wondered
and hoped; but when the next arrived, and brought no tidings, her
heart began to fail. The winter wore away, and still no letter came.
She was living, at that time, with her father, at his country seat.
Leslie's health was declining, and when Vinal returned from his short
European tour, he consigned to his hands the care of his affairs, and
spent the greater part of his time at Matherton; for he had a strong
love for the home of his boyhood.

Spring returned, and blossomed into summer; but nothing was heard of
Morton. The season ripened; the fringed gentian sprang in the meadow,
and the aster by the roadside; but no word came. In the forests, the
October frosts began their gorgeous work. The ash put on its purple;
the oak its varied coloring; the sumach its blood-red glare; and at
evening, the sun went down in cold, stern splendors behind the painted
mountains. Dry leaves whirled upon the ground; chill clouds mustered
in the sky; and flakes of snow, the harbingers of storm, were blown
along the frozen road. Then winter sank upon the landscape, and deeper
winter on the heart of the unhappy girl.

Time passed on, and the hope of Morton's return grew fainter. Leslie,
seeing his daughter's deep distress, made a journey to Europe; but his
search was fruitless. Meredith, who spent a year on the continent,
pursued the same inquiries, but could trace his friend no farther than
the town of Neuburg, in Bavaria. Morton, before his departure, had
made his will, and in the ardor of his attachment, had left the bulk
of his property to his betrothed, distributing a comparatively small
residue among a number of poor relations, none of whom had either the
means or the worldly knowledge to take measures for ascertaining his
fate.

Meanwhile, Leslie had fallen into a decline; and there was no hope
that his life could be protracted beyond a year or two. He became more
than ever dependent upon Vinal, who now assumed nearly the whole
charge of his affairs, acquitting himself with great ability, and, in
this instance, with entire faithfulness. A rickety manufacturing
concern, which for years had been a drain upon Leslie's purse, began,
under Vinal's control, to yield a good profit; and the former saw all
his resources quickened and replenished, as if by an infusion of new
life.

Vinal was mounting very high in the general esteem. His polished
address,--a little too precise, however,--his acknowledged
scholarship, his character for honor and integrity, and his energy and
capacity for business, commended him to all classes. He passed current
alike in ball rooms and on change. Men of the world never doubted him;
and, after all, this confidence was not quite groundless, for Vinal,
who had a sage eye to his own interest, had embraced the maxim that,
in matters of business, a course of absolute integrity is, under all
ordinary circumstances, the only wise policy.

As, in process of time, the conviction of Morton's death was
confirmed, Leslie's old wish for a union between his daughter and
Vinal began again to grow strong within him. Some two years after her
lover's disappearance, he ventured to speak to her of this favorite
plan; but it was long before he dared allude to it again. Meanwhile,
Vinal's attentions had been assiduous and constant, yet so tempered as
to convey the idea that he despaired of any other reward than the
continuance of her friendship. At length, however, certain of her
father's countenance, and assuming Morton's death as now beyond a
doubt, he began, with all possible delicacy and caution, to renew his
former addresses. He was not long in discovering that his cause was
quite hopeless, unless he could produce some positive proof that
Morton was no longer alive.

During the third summer of the latter's absence, Vinal went, for two
or three months, to Europe, the state of his health being the alleged
motive. While in Paris, he tried to find his former confederate,
Speyer, but could only learn that he was no longer in that city. On
returning to America, he told Leslie that he had inquired after
Morton, on all sides, without the least success, but had taken
measures which, he thought it not impossible, might in time lead to
some discovery. In various parts of Germany, there was, as he
affirmed, a class of travelling merchants and commercial agents, who,
from the nature of their avocations, had every facility for making
inquiries within the districts which they frequented. He had taken
pains, he said, to become acquainted with a large number of these men,
to whom he had stated the case of Morton's disappearance, and promised
a reward for any information concerning him.

Some time after this, he told Leslie that he had had word from one of
these correspondents. The latter, he affirmed, had heard that a young
man, said to be an Englishman, had died very suddenly three or four
years before, in an unfrequented part of Bohemia. The German declared
himself ready, if desired, to go to the district in question, and
inquire into the matter. Leslie was anxious that the inquiry should be
made; upon which Vinal, though seeming not at all sanguine as to any
result, gave him the name of his imaginary correspondent, and advised
that he should write to him. Leslie, however, as Vinal had foreseen,
desired that the latter should carry on the correspondence. He
accordingly wrote a letter, directed to Jacob Hatz. This he showed to
Leslie, and mailed it in his presence, consigning it to a long repose
in some continental dead letter office. At the same time, he secretly
despatched another letter, directed to Henry Speyer; for he had
meanwhile discovered the address of this serviceable person. This
letter was as follows:--

Dear Sir: You cannot have forgotten some interviews and correspondence
which formerly passed between us concerning a person who soon after
was unfortunate enough to fall under the notice of the Austrian
police. Nothing has since been heard of him, and it is commonly
believed here that he is dead. It is my desire to have this opinion
confirmed; and having found you honorable and efficient on another
occasion, I cannot doubt that I shall find you so in this. May I beg
your services in the following particulars?

1st. To take an imaginary journey into Bohemia, Moravia, or parts
adjacent.

2d. To discover that, three years or more ago, a young man, an
American, named ---- ----, travelling alone on horseback in an
unfrequented part of the country, (this was his habit,) was attacked
by cholera, or any other violent disease prevalent thereabouts, which
carried him off in less than three days.

3d. That he died at a small village inn; that a Lutheran clergyman
took charge of his effects, and wrote to his friends; but that the
letter may have miscarried, or the clergyman may have played false,
and kept the windfall that had come to him.

4th. That two years ago, the clergyman removed into Hungary, but that
the innkeeper, a stupid, beetle-headed fellow, showed you a headstone
in the Protestant burial ground, with ----'s name upon it. The
innkeeper may describe him as a young man of twenty-four, or less, but
must not remember too much, as this might attract further inquiry.

This is the outline, and will serve to indicate the kind of thing
required. Vary it, in respect to details, as your judgment and your
knowledge of the customs of the country may suggest. Names are
omitted. Please observe the ciphers which stand in their places. You
will soon receive, through another channel, means to supply the
deficiency, if, indeed, your memory will not do so unaided.

Sign your letter _Jacob Hatz_. There is another point, which I beg you
to observe particularly. Mention that on the gravestone, besides the
name, was carved a figure, like an urn or cup, with a large ball above
it. Date of death, also;--December 7, 1841.

I herewith enclose five hundred francs. On receiving your reply, _with
this letter enclosed_, I shall immediately send you five hundred more.
If I were not a poor man, and expecting always to be so, I could
remunerate your services better.

With the fullest reliance on your honor and discretion, I remain,

                          Yours, truly, ---- ----.

P. S. For your better direction, I subjoin a formula to be followed in
the beginning of your letter. You can word the rest in your own way.
Write in French.

Vinal, if he had dared, would gladly have forged such a letter as he
required, instead of trusting to another person; but art or nature had
not gifted him with the needful skill; and he was anxious, moreover,
to have the foreign postmarks stamped upon it in form.

In due time, Speyer's answer came. He had neglected to return Vinal's
letter, as desired; but in other respects, his performance gave his
employer ample satisfaction. The latter showed it to Leslie, who
seemed convinced by it; while his daughter, on reading it, abandoned
at once the hope to which she had hitherto clung, that Morton might
still be living.

"I remember this Hatz very well," said Vinal; "he seemed to be a
plain, honest sort of man,--an agent, I believe, of a merchant in
Strasburg. And yet the reward I promised might have been too great a
temptation."

"Then," said Leslie, "you would not receive this as a proof of Mr.
Morton's death?"

"No, I would not: that is, I should not but for one thing;--it is so
very much like Vassall Morton to be travelling alone, on horseback, in
an out-of-the-way part of the country."

"Did you observe," pursued Leslie, "what he says of figures of an urn
and ball cut on the gravestone?"

"I saw it, but did not observe it particularly."

Leslie gave him the letter, and Vinal read the part referred to.

"What can it mean?" asked Leslie.

"I can't conceive," replied Vinal.

"It is the vase and sun," said Edith Leslie; "the device of his
mother's family, the Vassalls."

"Ah," exclaimed Vinal, looking up with a face of mournful interest,
"you must be right; the same figures are carved on the tomb of the
Vassalls, in the old churchyard at Cambridge."

"They were cut," pursued Miss Leslie, "on a garnet ring, which he
always used as a seal."

"I remember his showing me that ring," said her father, "and telling
me that it was older than the voyage of the Mayflower. It was a kind
of heirloom, which his mother had left him."

"Yes," suggested the sympathizing Vinal, who had long known that
Morton used no other seal than this ring; "and the device on it was
supposed to be his armorial bearing, and so cut on the gravestone, as
it is on the Vassall tomb at Cambridge."

All doubt of Morton's death was now dispelled. His betrothed stored
his image in her thoughts, as that of one lost for this world; and
Vinal saw the field clear before him. Leslie was failing fast; and, as
his life ebbed, his wish for his daughter's marriage with Vinal grew
and strengthened. He urged her, daily, to listen to his suit;
extolling his favorite's talents, energy, acquirements, and
unimpeachable character--praises which she believed to be wholly just.
Vinal, on his part, seconded these parental efforts with most earnest,
beseeching, not to say abject importunities. The compassion which he
contrived to excite, an idea of duty, and an urgent wish to gratify
her dying father, at length prevailed with her; and laying before
Vinal the true state of her feelings, she consented, on such terms, to
accept his suit.

Vinal had gained his point; but he had scarcely done so, when his
spirits were dashed by an untoward incident, the nature of which may
be guessed hereafter. And, as it never rains but it pours, this
reverse of luck was soon followed by a second, of another kind.

One afternoon, returning from his customary constitutional ride, he
was in the act of turning the upper corner of a street which slopes
downward somewhat steeply till it meets a main thoroughfare of the
town. A small ragamuffin boy was standing on the curbstone, with a
blade of grass between his thumbs, through which he blew with might
and main, evidently to startle Vinal's horse, whose head was within a
yard of him. He succeeded to his complete satisfaction. Vinal switched
at the youngster with his whip; but this only made matters worse. The
horse galloped down the street at a rate which his rider's weak arm
could not check; and, at the corner of the main street, wheeling
suddenly to the left, he slipped on the wet pavement, and fell with a
crash on his side. Horse and man lay motionless, till a city teamster,
running up, raised the former by the bridle. Two or three passers by
came to Vinal's aid; but as they lifted him, he set his teeth with
pain. The horse had fallen on his left leg, breaking it above the
knee.

Vinal was timid to excess in time of danger; but he could bear pain
with the firmness of a stoic. While he felt himself run away with, and
at the moment of his fall, he had been greatly confused. He no sooner
saw that the worst was over, than he rallied his faculties, and
asserted his usual self-mastery. His face was fast growing pale with
violence of pain; but he was quite himself again.

A crowd gathered about him, as he lay leaning on the steps of the
neighboring church.

"Shall we carry you to the ---- Hotel?" asked a gentleman.

"Yes, if you please. But first be kind enough to bring a shutter. They
will give you one at the school round the corner. When a man is
killed, drunk, or maimed, there is nothing like a shutter. How do you
do, Edwards?"--to a man whom he recognized in the crowd.

"I hope you are not badly hurt."

"My leg is broken."

"Are you in great pain?"

"Yes; a bad business, I think. Will you oblige me by seeing that my
horse is led to the stable in ---- Street?"

The shutter was soon brought.

"Thank you. Lift me very gently."

As they moved him he clinched his teeth again in silent torture.

"All right. Now one take the shutter at the head, and one at the feet.
You'll find me a light weight."

And thus, between two men, escorted by a procession of schoolboys just
let loose, Vinal was carried to the hotel.

The event justified his presage. He was forced to lie motionless for
weeks, suffering greatly from bodily pain, and no less from certain
anxieties which of late had harassed him. Leslie, on his part, was in
great distress at the disaster. He felt, or fancied himself, near his
end; and the wish next his heart was to see the marriage accomplished
before he died. It was therefore determined that, notwithstanding the
inauspicious plight of the bridegroom, it should take place at the
time before fixed upon, four months after the beginning of the
engagement.

The ceremony was very private. None were present but two or three
friends of Miss Leslie, the dying father, borne thither in a chair,
the disabled bridegroom, and the pale and agitated bride; for that
morning, standing before Morton's picture, a strange misgiving and a
dark foreboding had fallen upon her, and the sun never shone on a
bride more wretched. Her nearest friend, Mrs. Ashland, was at her
side. She was the only person, besides her father and Vinal, who knew
of her engagement to Morton, and, indeed, had been her confidante from
first to last. Soon after Morton's disappearance, an accident had
brought them together, reviving an old school intimacy; and Edith
Leslie, in her suspense and misery, was but too glad to find a friend
in whom she could trust without reserve.

The rite was ended, and Edith Leslie was Edith Vinal. Days and weeks
passed; Leslie slowly declined, and Vinal slowly recovered. She
divided her time between them, passing the greater part of the day
with the latter, and returning at evening to watch by her father's bed
or rest within sound of his voice. At length, three weeks after her
marriage, on a morning the horror of which remained scarred always in
her memory, Morton's letter from Genoa was put into her hands; and the
long-disciplined patience with which she had armed herself, the
religion which she had called to her aid, all the guards and defences
of her mind, were borne down, for a time, by the resistless flood of
passion, which, like a river bursting its barriers, swept all before
it.



CHAPTER LV.

  We twain have met like ships upon the sea,
  Who hold an hour's converse,  *  *  *
  One little hour! and then away they speed
  On lonely paths, through mist, and cloud, and foam,
  To meet no more.--_Alexander Smith_.


"Good morning, Ned," said Morton to his friend Meredith. He had come
to Boston the day before, and had already seen Meredith more than
once.

"Going already? Sit down, man. Why are you in such a hurry?"

"I shall look in again before night."

"You are not well. I never thought you could look so worn and
haggard."

"Try the prison of Ehrenberg for four or five years, and see how you
will look when you get out. It's nothing, though. A little rest will
make all right again."

"You are not very likely to get it. You are a lion now, and people
will not leave you alone."

"They shall. I am not in the humor for balls and dinner parties."

He went to the house of Mrs. Ashland, whom he had accompanied homeward
from New York.

"Have you the letter for me?"

The letter was that which had come from Europe with the story of his
death. On hearing Mrs. Ashland's account, he had at once conjectured
that this was but another stroke of Vinal's diplomacy; but he had been
careful not to intimate to his friend the least suspicion against the
latter.

The commission of obtaining from Edith the letter in question was far
from an agreeable one; but Mrs. Ashland had accomplished it, and now
placed the paper in Morton's hands.

The signature was not that of Speyer; but at the first glance, Morton
was sure that the small, neat handwriting was the same with that of
the treacherous notes of introduction given him by Vinal at Paris. As
he studied the letter, reading and re-reading it, his companion, who
remembered him chiefly as a frank, good-humored young man, was
startled at the stern and almost fierce expression which once or twice
came over his features, and seemed to be banished by an effort. A
vague suspicion of some mystery rose in her mind, but Morton hastened
to divert her.

"I hope that Edith will not refuse a visit from me."

Here, again, Mrs. Ashland promised to mediate for him, and in the
afternoon he received a note from her, saying that Vinal's wife would
see him on the next morning.

At the hour named, he rang at the door, forced his lips to inquire for
"Mrs. Vinal," gave his name to the servant, and was shown into the
drawing room.

It was nearly five years since he had last seen that well-remembered
room. Nothing was changed. It remained precisely as he had known it
when he stood prosperously on the farther verge of that dreary chasm
of time; and as each familiar object met his eye, such a flood of
bitter recollection came upon him, that for a moment he bent his head
upon his breast.

He raised it, and started as he did so. Reflected in the mirror at the
end of the room, as if the art of some new Cornelius had evoked it,
stood, pale as marble, the form that had so long attended his sleeping
and waking dreams. Morton turned quickly, and saw Edith standing
motionless in the doorway.

He advanced towards her, and took her hand in both his own. She raised
her eyes to his face in silence. He tried to speak, but tried in vain.
At length he found utterance.

"I know it all. Ellen Ashland has told me every thing. I do not blame
you;--no one can blame you."

"Thank God that you think so."

"Yes, thank God; for when I thought that you had forgotten me----"

"Then you _did_ think so?"

"For a time; and it seemed to me as if no more constancy were left on
earth; as if it had been sapped and undermined in its very citadel."

"Do not believe that I forgot you for a single hour; or that I can
ever forget you. You and I have been joined at least in an equal
sorrow and suspense. We have walked through depths together, and drank
the same gall and bitterness."

"That one month--four miserable weeks--should have worked all this!
One month sooner, and this black picture of our lives would have been
bright again as the sunshine. I could believe that some infernal power
had taken the reins of our fate."

"Do not say so, nor think so. You have fronted death; you have braved
despair; and now bear this blow victoriously as you have borne the
rest."

"The crowning blow is the heaviest of all."

"Look into my heart,--if you could look into it,--and see on which of
us it has fallen with the more sickening and withering force."

Morton looked into her face. It was like a deep lake becalmed, into
which strong springs are boiling up from rocks at the bottom. The
surface is still; but looking more closely, one may discern faint
gliding undulations and trembling lines, which betray the turmoil
below. Morton saw them, and felt their purport.

"I would to God," he said, "I could bear your burden for you."

Edith buried her face, and burst into a flood of weeping.

Grief, mixed with more ardent emotion, wrought with such violence in
Morton's breast, that he scarcely restrained his impulse to throw
himself at her feet. In a few moments, she raised her head.

"Do not think from this, that I am not resigned to what has fallen on
us. It is best. Incomprehensible as it is, it is best for us both."

A passionate denial rose to Morton's lips; but he did not utter it.

"I overrated my strength. I am weaker than I hoped to have found
myself. You wish to bear my burden! You have had enough to bear of
your own, Vassall; but with you, endurance is not the whole. You still
have youth, health, vigor. To one of your instincts, the world has
noble tasks enough. With a heart steeled by dangers, refined by
sufferings, tempered in fires of anguish, what path need you fear to
tread? Forget the past;--no, do not forget it; only forget all in it
that may damp your courage or weaken your hand. When I knew you first,
you were full of zeal in a worthy and generous enterprise. Cling to it
still. Let me see the tree which I knew in its blossoming bear a full
fruit at maturity. Let me see the ardent and earnest spirit which I
knew in the beginning, not quelled or flagging by the way, but holding
on its course to the end. The pure chivalry of your heart which
constrained me to love you, the instinct which turned towards honor
and nobleness as a tree turns its branches to the sun,--do not part
from it; keep it unstained for my sake, and let it brighten and
strengthen all your life."

"If preachers could speak with your tongue," exclaimed Morton, "the
world would forget itself and grow virtuous. The love that I have lost
on earth I will set among the stars. It shall be my beacon till the
day I die."

"We are too delicate and timorous to bear a part in the active
struggles of life; but it is a woman's office to raise and purify the
thoughts of those who do. You, whose strong natures are formed for
warfare, cannot be so sensitive as we are to every spot that dims the
brightness of your armor. It is easy for me, before one whom I have
loved as I have loved you, to hold this tone, and be borne up for a
time above the thought of grief and renouncement. But it is a
different task to still, through all a lifetime, the longings of a
woman's heart, and the impatient surgings of a woman's temperament.
This is the task assigned me, and I accept it. Life--action--are
before you. Patience is my medicine; the slow talisman which must open
in the end my door of promise."

Morton pressed her hand to his lips.

"'There is some soul of goodness in things evil.' A sorrow under
which, feebly borne, the mind would wither to the earth, borne well
will lift it above the clouds. Do not believe that I have deceived any
one. He knows on what terms he takes me. I feel respect, esteem,
confidence, warm friendship for him."

"May you never be undeceived," thought Morton to himself.

"But for any more ardent love,--that, I told him, was buried in the
grave with you."

She was silent for a moment, and then went on.

"It will not be wise, or right, for us to see each other often. In
time, you will meet some one with whom you can forget the pain of this
separation."

Morton shook his head.

"Yes--at least I trust you will. But we can never forget what we have
been to each other. Our reality is melted into a dream, but we must
not allow it to remain a dream. Let it be to us a fountain of high
thoughts, whose streams may water all our lives."

"You are an alchemist, Edith," said Morton; "you have found the secret
to change lead and iron into pure gold. And yet you make me feel, more
than ever, if that can be, what a crown I have lost."

When Morton left the house, after a half hour's interview, the
agitation with which he had entered it had sunk into quiet; for an
influence had fallen upon him as soothing and elevating as if he had
been listening to the paschal music in the chapel of the choir at St.
Peter's. And as an aeronaut, tossed among tempestuous clouds, is borne
of a sudden above the turmoil, and floats serene in a calmer sky, so
the troubled mind of Morton felt itself buoyed up for a space above
the tumult of passionate and bitter thought.



CHAPTER LVI.

  For close designs and crooked counsels fit,
  Sagacious, bold, and turbulent of wit.--_Dryden_.


On the next morning he was walking near the Court House, when a man
accosted him, touching his hat with one hand, and holding out the
other in the way of friendly salutation. Morton, however, was at a
loss to recognize him. He had an air which may most conveniently be
described as _raffish_, a hat set on one side of his head, and a
good-natured, easy, devil-may-care face.

"Richards is my name," said the stranger. "I met you at Paris, just
before you went into Austria."

This was quite enough. Morton, who had repeatedly revolved all the
circumstances connected with his arrest, at once recalled the accident
by which he had discovered Richards and Vinal, on their way together
to visit Speyer. Morton determined to cultivate this new acquaintance;
which, however, seemed likely to grow without much tillage.

"I went on two or three excursions about the city with you, Mr. Vinal,
and the rest. Perhaps you have not forgotten it."

"Not in the least; but you are changed since then."

"Yes," said Richards, touching the place where his moustaches had once
grown, "I cut them off when I went into practice here in Boston. I
found they were ruining my character as a professional man."

"How long were you in Paris after I saw you?"

"Two years, off and on. I wish I were there now." And taking Morton's
arm, he proceeded to catechize him touching his imprisonment and
escape, of which he said he had first read in the New York Herald.
Morton satisfied his curiosity, taking care to give him no suspicion
of Speyer's connection with the affair, and allowing him to infer that
the arrest was caused by an accidental concurrence of suspicious
circumstances. Richards, at the end, broke out into a savage, red
republican tirade against Metternich and the Austrian government.

"By the way," said Morton, when his companion's heat had subsided, "do
you happen to remember a man called Speyer, or something like it,--a
republican propagandist, at Paris? I believe you knew him."

"I never knew any body else," replied Richards, adopting a
cis-Atlantic figure of speech for which rhetoricians have as yet found
no name.

"Do you know where he is now?"

"What, have you lent money to Speyer, too?"

"He is heavily in my debt," said Morton, evasively.

"That's odd. He seems to have been borrowing money all round. I
remember, about a year or more ago, I met Mr. Vinal, and he began to
talk about Paris. 'By the way,' said he to me, 'do you happen to
remember a man named Spires, or Speyers, or some such thing? I lent
him five hundred francs.' 'I wish you may get it,' said I. 'Well,'
said Vinal, 'I have a friend going to Paris, who will try what can be
done for me.' So I set him on the track. I don't know whether he got
his money or not, but I saw him talking with Speyer in the street, one
evening last spring, and Vinal looked as sour as if he had swallowed a
bottle of vitriol."

"Talking with Speyer last spring!" repeated Morton; "has he been to
Paris?"

"Speyer has come out to America. There is not a country in Europe but
has grown too hot for him. He was under surveillance in Paris, all the
time I knew him."

"When did he come?"

"Six or eight months ago."

"Where is he to be found?"

"In New York, chiefly. If you could have caught him when he was here
in Boston, in the spring, you might have got something out of him; for
he seemed flush of money."

"What, after you saw him with Vinal?"

"Yes."

"Have you seen him more than once in Boston?"

"Yes, two or three times."

"Is he in New York now?"

"I suppose so; but I would not advise your trying to do any thing with
him. You had better pocket your loss, and let him go. However, if you
want to try, I can refer you to a man who can probably help you to
find his whereabouts."

"Thank you; there's no harm in making the attempt. I don't know Speyer
well. What kind of man is he?"

"Well, I will draw his portrait for you. He is sly as a fox; always
contriving, plotting, and working under ground. Intrigue is his native
element. He takes to it like a chameleon to air, or a salamander to
fire."

"An artful, managing fellow, not bold enough to make a direct attack?"

"Bold! There is nothing on the earth, or under it, that he fears. He
will not make a direct attack, if he can help it, because it is
against his instinct; but press upon him--crowd him a little--and he
will show his teeth like a Bengal tiger. He is always in hot water;
for he never could be happy out of it. He has his weaknesses, though.
A woman whom he takes a fancy to can turn him round her finger. I
never knew a man so desperate in that way, or such a devil incarnate
when a fit of jealousy seizes him."

"You draw a flattering likeness of your friend," said Morton."

"O," said Richards, laughing, "I cut half my foreign acquaintance, now
that I am at home."

Before leaving his new companion, Morton obtained from him the name
and direction of the person of whom he had spoken as likely to know
where Speyer was to be found. Left alone at length, he pondered on
what he had heard:--

"So Vinal applied to Richards, to learn Speyer's address, when he
wrote to him to report me dead. Speyer in America!--having interviews
with Vinal!--and flush of money! Can it be possible that this agent of
his villany has become the instrument of his punishment?--that the
Furies are already on his track? If Speyer kept Vinal's letter, as,
under the circumstances, such a calculating knave would be apt to do,
he has that in his hands which would make my friend open his purse
strings; yes, make him coin his life blood, to satisfy him. It is past
doubting; Vinal has it now; this cormorant is preying upon him."

That afternoon Morton took the night train to New York, in search of
Speyer.



CHAPTER LVII.

              Though those that are betrayed
   Do feel the treason sharply, yet the traitor
   Stands in worse case of woe.--_Cymbeline_.


Vinal sat alone, propped and cushioned in an arm chair, when a clerk
from his office came to bring him his morning letters. He looked over
the superscriptions till he saw one in a foreign hand. Vinal
compressed his pale lips. When the clerk had left the room, he glanced
about him nervously, tore open the letter, and read it in haste.

"The bloodsucker! Money; more money! He soaks it up like a sponge; or,
rather, I am the sponge, and he means to wring me dry. In jail! Well,
he has found his place, for once. Six hundred dollars! That, I
suppose, is to pay his fine; to uncage the wild beast, and set him
loose. I wish he were sentenced for ten years; then he might lie
there, and rot. I must send him something--enough to keep him in play.
No, I will send him nothing. He is in trouble; and I may turn it to
account. I will write to him that, if he will return me my letters, I
will give him a thousand dollars now, and an annuity of five hundred
for six years to come. I shall do well if I can draw the viper's teeth
at that price. Then I can breathe again; unless Morton should have
suspected the trick I played him, or--what if he should meet with
Speyer! But that is not likely, for he never knew him, nor saw him,
and Speyer will shun him as he would the plague. I wish they had shot
him in the prison, as I am told they meant to do. There would have
been one stumbling block away; one lion out of my path. But now the
sword hangs over me by a hair; I am racked and torn like a toad under
a harrow; no rest, no peace! What if Speyer should do as he threatens,
print my letters, and placard them about the streets! I will buy them
out of his hands if it cost all I have. And even then I shall not be
safe, as long as this ruffian is above ground. With him and Morton to
haunt me, my life is a slow death, a purgatory, a hell."

He tore Speyer's letter into small fragments, rolled and crushed them
together, and scattered them under the grate.



CHAPTER LVIII.

When rich villains have need of poor ones, poor ones may make what
price they will.--_Much Ado about Nothing_.


Morton reached New York, and found the person to whom he had been
referred by Richards. He proved to be a German, of respectable
appearance enough; but Morton could learn nothing from him. He
admitted that he had once known Speyer; but stubbornly denied all
present knowledge concerning him; and after various inquiry elsewhere,
which brought him into contact with much vile company, without helping
him towards his end, Morton gave over the search, and returned to
Boston.

A day or two after, he met Richards in the street.

"Well, Mr. Richards, I was in New York the other day, and saw your
man; but he knew nothing about Speyer."

Richards laughed.

"I dare say not; just let me write to him; he will tell me a different
story. I used to be hand and glove with all these refugees; and I will
lay you any bet I find Speyer's whereabouts within a week."

Accordingly, three or four days after, Richards called at Morton's
lodgings, with an air of great self-satisfaction.

"I have spotted your game for you, sir, and he won't run away in a
hurry, either. He'll be sure to wait till you come. He's in jail."

"What, for debt?"

"No, for an assault on a Frenchman. It was about a woman, a friend of
Speyer's. You know I told you what a jealous fellow he is." And he
proceeded to recount what further information he had gained.

"Odd," pondered Richards, after parting from Morton, "that a
millionnaire like him, and not at all a mean man either, should
trouble himself so much about any picayune debt that Speyer can owe
him. There is something in this business more than I can make out."

While Richards occupied himself with these reflections, Morton
repaired to his lodgings and made his preparations. On the next
morning, he was in New York again.

He went to the jail where Speyer was confined, and readily gained
leave to see him. A somewhat loquacious officer, who was to conduct
him to the prisoner's room, confirmed what Richards had told him, and
gave him some new particulars. Speyer, he said, had never before, to
his knowledge, come under the notice of the police. He had been living
in good lodgings, and in a somewhat showy style. The person who had
occasioned the quarrel was an Italian girl. "She comes every day to
see him," said the policeman--"she's a wild one, I tell you; and he
frets himself to death because he is shut up here, and can't be round
to look after her."

"So much the better," thought Morton, who hoped that this impatience
would aid him in his intended negotiation.

"For how long a time is he sentenced?" he asked.

"For three weeks; unless he can find somebody to pay his fine for
him."

On entering the prisoner's room, Morton saw a man of about forty, well
dressed, though in a jail, but whose sallow features, deep-set eyes,
and square, massive lower jaw, well covered with a black beard,
indicated a character likely to be any thing but tractable. If he had
been either a gentleman on the one hand, or a common ruffian on the
other, his visitor might have better known how to deal with him; but
he had the look of one to whom, whatever he might be at heart, a
various contact with mankind had armed with an invincible
self-possession, and guarded at all points against surprise.

Morton was a wretched diplomatist, and had sense enough to know it. He
knew that if he tried to manoeuvre with his antagonist, the latter
would outflank him in a moment, and he had therefore resolved on a
sudden and direct attack. But when he saw Speyer, he could not repress
a lingering doubt whether he were in fact the person of whom he was in
search. His chief object was to gain from him, if possible, any
letters of Vinal which might be in his hands. There was no direct
evidence that he had any such letters; yet Morton thought that the
only hope of success lay in assuming his having them as a certainty,
and pretending a positive knowledge, where, in truth, he had no other
ground of action than conjecture. So he smothered his doubts, and as
soon as the policeman was gone, made a crashing onset on the enemy.

"My name is Vassall Morton. I escaped four months ago from the Castle
of Ehrenberg. I have known something of you through Mr. Vinal."

If Morton were in doubt before, all his doubts were now scattered, for
a look of irrepressible surprise passed across Speyer's features,
mingled with as much dismay as his nature was capable of feeling. At
the next instant, every trace of it had disappeared; and slowly
shaking his head, to indicate unconsciousness, he looked at Morton
inquiringly, with an eye perfectly self-possessed and impenetrable.
His visitor, however, was not to be so deceived.

"I have no enmity against you, nor any wish to injure you. On the
contrary, I will pay your fine, and set you free, if you will have it
so. You have letters concerning me, written to you by Vinal. Give them
to me, and I will do as I say. No harm shall come to you, and I will
give you money to carry you to any part of the world you wish."

"What letters?" asked Speyer.

"We will have no bush-beating. You wish to get out of jail, and have
good reason for wishing to get out at once. If you will give me those
letters, you shall be free in three hours, and safe. If you will not,
I may give you some trouble."

Speyer was silent for a moment.

"I know the letters are of use to you. You can play a profitable game
with them; but I can stop your game at any moment I please."

"I can get four thousand dollars for them to-morrow," said Speyer.

"Then why are you here in jail?"

"Vinal offers it; here it is." And taking a note from his pocket,
Speyer read Vinal's proposal to buy the letters.

"Let me see it," said Morton, taking the note from Speyer's hand.
"This, of itself, is evidence against him. With your leave, I will
keep it. Now hear my offer. Give me the letters, and I will pay your
fine. Then go with me to Boston, and I will make Vinal pay you on the
spot every dollar that he has offered, on condition that you promise
to leave the United States, and never return."

Speyer reflected. He came to the conclusion that Morton did not mean
to expose Vinal; but only, like himself, to extort money from him; and
wished that he, Speyer, should leave the country in order to get rid
of a competitor. Morton's object was quite different. He could not
foresee to what extremities Speyer's extortion might drive its victim;
and he aimed to check it, by no means out of any tenderness for Vinal,
but lest his wife might suffer from its consequences.

Speyer, on his part, fevered with jealousy, was chafing to be at large
again.

"When will you pay my fine?"

"Now."

"Then I accept your proposal."

"Can I rely on your promise to leave the country, and make no further
drafts on Vinal?"

Speyer cast a glance at him, as if he had read his mind.

"I will promise."

"Will you swear?"

Speyer readily took the oath, insisting that Morton should swear in
turn to keep his part of the condition.

"Now let me see the letters."

"I must send to my lodgings for them. If you will come back in two
hours, you shall have them."

"I should have thought you would keep them by you."

"No; but they are safe. Come back at twelve with the money for my
fine, and they shall be here for you."

Morton had no sooner left the room, than Speyer despatched an
underling of the jail to buy for him a few sheets of the thin,
half-transparent paper in common use for European correspondence. This
being brought, he opened his trunk, and delving to the bottom, drew up
a leather case, from which he took the letters in question. Laying the
thin paper over them, he proceeded to trace with a pen an exact
facsimile. He was well practised at such work, and after one or two
failures, succeeded perfectly. Folding his counterfeits after the
manner of the originals, he placed them in the envelopes belonging to
the latter; and within a half hour after his task was finished, Morton
reappeared.

Speyer gave him one of the facsimiles. He read it attentively, without
seeing the imposture. The handwriting, though disguised, was evidently
Vinal's; but it had neither the signature of the writer, nor Morton's
name. The place of each was supplied by a cipher.

"Reference is made here to another letter. Where is it?"

Speyer gave him the second counterfeit. The envelope bore a postmark
of a few days later than the first. The note contained merely the
names of Morton and Vinal, with ciphers affixed, referring to those in
the first letter.

"Have you no more of Vinal's papers?"

Speyer shook his head. Indeed, the letters, if genuine, would have
been amply sufficient to place their writer in Morton's power. The
latter at once took the necessary measures to gain the prisoner's
release. Speyer no sooner found himself at liberty than he hastened to
search out the fair object of his anxieties, promising to meet Morton
on the steamboat for Boston in the afternoon. His doubts were strong
whether the other would keep faith with him; but he amply consoled
himself with the thought that, at the worst, he still had means to
bring Vinal to terms.



CHAPTER LIX.

  What spectre can the charnel send
  So dreadful as an injured friend?--_Rokeby_.


"Strange," thought Vinal, "that I hear nothing from him."

It was three days since he had written to Speyer; and his chief
anxiety was, lest his note should have miscarried. Pain and long
confinement had wrought heavily upon him. Every emotion, every care,
thrilled with a morbid keenness upon his brain and nerves; but
hitherto he had ruled his sensitive organism with an iron
self-control, and calmed its perturbations with a fortitude which in a
better man would have been heroic.

His wife was in the room, and, as his eye rested on her, it kindled
with a kind of troubled delight, for he loved her strongly, after his
fashion. He had remarked of late a singular assiduity and tenderness
in her devotion to him. Her position, in fact, was not unlike that of
one who, broken and overborne by some irreparable sorrow, had
renounced the world and its happiness, to embrace a new life, and
build up for herself a new hope in the calm sanctuary of a convent. In
the same spirit, Edith Leslie, bidding farewell to her girlish dream
of life, its morning rose tint, and cloud draperies of gold and
purple, gave herself to the practical duties before her, and sought,
in their devoted fulfilment, to strengthen herself against the flood
which for a time had overwhelmed her.

Vinal, who, acute as he was, could not understand the state of mind
from which her peculiar kindness of manner towards him rose, pleased
himself with the idea that his rival's return was not so great a shock
to her as he had at first feared, and that, after all, she was more
fond of him than of Morton. This notion consoled his disturbed
thoughts not a little. Still he was abundantly anxious and harassed.

"If Morton should suspect! He has not come to see me; but that is
natural enough, under the circumstances. And if he does suspect, he
can have no proof. No one here suspects me. They say it was strange
that my European correspondent should have made such a mistake; but
that is all. No one dreams that I had a hand in it; and why should
they? No one knew of Edith's engagement to him, except herself, her
father, and her confidantes. I suppose she has confidantes--all girls
have them. I wish their epitaphs were written, whoever they are. Well,

  'Come what come may,
   Time and the hour run through the roughest day.'

But this is a dangerous business--a cursed business. Why does not
Speyer write?"

As his thoughts ran in this strain, he looked up, and his eye caught
that of his wife. She was struck with his troubled expression.

"You look anxious and care-worn. Are you ill?"

"Come to me, Edith," said Vinal, with a faint smile.

She came to the side of his chair, and he took her hand.

"Edith, I am not well to-day. My head swims. This long confinement is
eating away my life by inches."

"In a week more, I trust, you will be able to move again. The country
air will give you new life. But why do you look so troubled?"

"Dreams, Edith,--bad dreams, like Hamlet's, I suppose. It is very
strange,--I cannot imagine why it is,--but to-day I have felt
oppressed, weighed down, shadowed as if a cloud hung over me. I am not
myself. A man is a mere slave to his nervous system, and when that is
overthrown, his whole soul is shaken with it. The country is my hope,
Edith. We will go there together, soon, and begin life anew."

A knock at the door interrupted him.

"Come in," cried Vinal, in his usual quick, decisive tone.

A servant entered.

"Well, what is it?"

"A gentleman wishes to see you, sir."

"Did he give his name?"

"Mr. Edwards, sir."

"Ask him to come up."

"A man whom I expected this morning on business," he said, in
explanation to his wife, as the servant closed the door. "I wish he
were any where but here. And so you are going away."--She was dressed
to go out.--"He will be here only a moment; do not be gone long."

"No, I will be with you again in an hour."

"Do not forget," said Vinal, pressing her hand, "for when you leave
the room, Edith, it is as if a sunbeam were shut out."

As Vinal, sick in body and mind, thus leaned in his distress on the
victim of his villany, he cast into her face a look that was almost
piteous. She, seeing nothing but his love for her, warmed towards him
with compassion; the more so since, till that moment, she had known
him as a calm, firm man, a model, to her eyes, of masculine
self-government. A mind tortured with suspense, acting upon a weak and
morbidly sensitive body, had betrayed him into this unwonted
imbecility.

The step of the visitor sounded in the passage; and returning the
pressure of his hand, his wife went out at the door of a small
adjoining room, opening upon the side passage by which she commonly
entered and left the hotel.

After a few minutes' interview, Edwards took his leave, and Vinal,
left alone, fell into his former train of thought. In a moment, he was
again interrupted by a knock at the door, quite unlike the hasty rap
of the hotel servant.

"Come in," cried Vinal.

The door opened, and Vassall Morton entered. He had learned from the
retiring visitor that Vinal was alone.

"My dear fellow!" exclaimed Vinal, his face beaming with a transport
of welcome. "My dear fellow!"

But Morton stood without taking his proffered hand. The smile remained
frozen on Vinal's face, and cold drops of doubt and fear began to
gather on his forehead.

"There is another friend of yours in the passage," said Morton.--"Come
in, Speyer."

Speyer entered, bowing with his usual composure. Vinal sank back in
his chair, collapsing like a man withered with a palsy stroke.

"Vinal," said Morton, after a silence of some moments, "you have a
cool way of receiving your acquaintances."

He made no answer, but still sat, or rather crouched, in the depths of
his easy chair, where the thick bounding of his heart almost choked
him. Morton stood for some time longer, looking at him. He had not
reached such a point of Christian forgiveness as not to find pleasure
in his enemy's tortures, and he saw that his silence tortured him more
than words.

"Vinal," he said at length, "I used to know you in college for a liar
and a coward; and since then you have grown well in both ways. You
have hatched into a full-fledged villain; and now that I have found
you out, you crouch like a whipped cur."

No answer was returned, and Morton's anger began to yield to a
different feeling. If he could have seen the condition of Vinal's mind
and body, he might, between pity and contempt, have spared him.

"I came to upbraid you with your knaveries; but I find you hardly
worth the trouble. Do you see this letter? It is the same that you
wrote to this man at Marseilles, instructing him to forge a story that
I was dead, and that he had seen my gravestone, with my mother's
family device upon it. Will you dare deny that you wrote it? You will
not! I thought as much. I have unravelled you from first to last. Five
years ago, you bribed Speyer, here, to compromise me with the Austrian
police. Pretending to be my friend, you gave me letters which betrayed
me into a prison, where you hoped that I would end my days; and, next,
you contrived this trickery to prove me dead. Is there any name in the
English tongue too vile to mark you?"

Vinal sat as if stricken dumb.

"I know your reputation," pursued Morton. "You are in high feather
here. You pass for a man of virtue, integrity, and honor. You make
speeches at public meetings; Fourth of July orations; Phi Beta
orations; charity harangues--any thing that smacks of philanthropy and
goodness; any thing that will varnish you in the public eye. Why am I
not bound to lay bare this whitewashed lie? What withholds me from
grinding you like a scorpion under my boot-heel, or flinging you on
the pavement to be stared at like a scotched viper? A word from me,
and you are ruined. You need not fear it. Stay, and enjoy your honors
as you can; but my foot shall be on your neck. This letter of yours is
the spell by which I will rule you, body and soul."

Here he paused again; but Vinal's tongue was powerless.

"I tell you again, for I would not have you desperate, that I do not
mean to ruin you. Bear yourself wisely, and you are safe, at least
from me. Have you lost your speech? Are you turned dumb?"

Vinal muttered inarticulately.

"There is another danger which I have done my best to ward off from
you. This man, who had you at his mercy, has sworn to leave the
country, and never to return; on which score you will please to pay
him the money you offered him for the purchase of your letters."

Vinal seemed confused and stupefied, and Morton was forced to be more
explicit in his demands. At length, the former signed a note for the
amount, though not without stammering objections to his name appearing
on it in connection with Speyer's. Morton, however, turned a deaf ear
to these remonstrances.

"Here is your pay," he said to Speyer. "Any bank will discount this
for you. Now, to what place do you mean to go?"

"To Venezuela. I have a friend there in the army. He will get a
commission for me."

"Very well. See that you stay there; or, at all events, do not come
back to the United States. If you do, you will perjure yourself. Now,
go; I have done with you. Vinal, I will leave you to your reflections;
and when you can sleep in peace, free from Speyer's persecutions,
remember to whom you owe it."

Vinal sat like a withered plant, his head sinking between his
shoulders, while his hand, still unconsciously holding the pen, rested
on the arm of his chair. There was something in his appearance at once
so abject and so piteous, that a changed feeling came over Morton as
he looked on him. By a sudden impulse, akin to pity, he stepped
towards him, and took his wrist. The pen dropped from his pale
fingers, which quivered like an aspen bough; and as Morton stood
gazing on him, Vinal's upturned eyes met his, as if riveted there by a
helpless fascination.

"You unhappy wretch! You are burning already with the pains of the
damned. Flint and iron could not see you without softening. I have
saved you,--not out of mercy, nor forgiveness,--not for _your_
sake;--but I have saved you. I have pushed away the sword that hung
over you by a hair. You are free now to be happy."

But as he spoke this last word, so fierce a pang shot into his heart,
remembering what he had lost, and what Vinal had won, that his pity
was scattered like mist before a thunder squall. He flung back the
passive hand against the breast of its terrified owner, turned
abruptly, and left the room.

No sooner had the door closed behind him, than the door of the
anteroom opposite was flung open, and Edith Leslie, rushing in, stood
before Vinal with the wild look of one who gasps for breath. She
attempted to speak, but broken words and inarticulate sounds were all
her lips would utter. Strength failed her in the effort, and pressing
her hands to her forehead, she sank fainting to the floor.



CHAPTER LX.

               I will not go with thee;
  I will instruct my sorrows to be proud.--_King John_.


On the next morning, Vinal learned that his wife was ill, and confined
to her room in her father's house. On the day following, he was told
that she was no better; but on the third morning, a letter, in her
handwriting, was given him. He opened it, and read as follows:--

I heard all. I have learned, at last, to know you. These were your bad
dreams! This was the cloud that overshadowed you! No wonder that your
eye was anxious, your forehead wrinkled, and your cheek pale. To have
led that brave and loyal heart through months and years of
anguish!--to have buried him from the light of day!--to have buried
him in darkness and despair, if despair could ever touch a soul like
his! And there he would have been lost forever, if you had had your
will,--if a higher hand had not been outstretched to save him. One
whom you dared not meet face to face; one as far above your sphere as
the eagle is above the serpent to which he likened you! You have
taught me how sin can cringe and cower under the anger of a true and
deeply outraged man. That I should have lived to hear my husband
called a villain!--and still live to tell him that the word was just!
My husband! You are _not_ my husband. It was not a criminal, a
traitorous wretch, whom I pledged myself to love and honor. You have
insnared me; you have me, for a time, safely entangled in your meshes.
The same cause which led me to this yoke must withhold me from casting
it off. I cannot imbitter my father's dying moments. I cannot bring
distress and horror to his tranquil death bed. For his sake, I will
play the hypocrite, and stoop to pass in the world's eye as your wife.
For the few weeks he has to live, I will lodge, if I must, under your
roof; I will sit, if I must, at your table; but when my father is
gone, let the world impute to me what blame it will, I will leave you
forever. You need not fear that I shall expose your crimes. If _he_
could spare you, it does not become me to speak. Live on, and make
what atonement you may; but meanwhile there is a gulf between us wider
than death.

                                                EDITH LESLIE.

An accident, arising out of her very devotion to Vinal, had made known
his secret to her. In the anteroom which led from the side passage of
the hotel to his apartment, and through which, on the morning of his
interview with Morton, she had intended to pass on her way out, was a
table, covered with books and engravings, with which the invalid had
been amusing his leisure. The sight of them reminded her that she had
promised to get for him a series of German etchings, which he had
expressed a wish to see. She seated herself, to write a request to the
friend who had them, that he would send them to the hotel. Her hand
was on the bell, to call the servant, when the peculiarly emphatic and
earnest manner with which Vinal greeted some new visitor caught her
attention. The door had sprung ajar on the lock; the speakers were
very near it, and Morton's tone was none of the softest. She remained
as if charmed to her seat; and every word fell on her ear as clearly
as if she had stood in the same room.



CHAPTER LXI.

  I hold the world but as the world, Gratiano,
  A stage where every man must play a part,
  And mine a sad one.--_Merchant of Venice_.

  The past is past. I see the future stretch
  All dark and barren as a rainy sea.--_Alexander Smith_.


Morton took possession again of his house in the country, which still
remained in the keeping of one of his humble relatives, into whose
charge he had given it. He turned the key of his long-deserted
library. A loving influence had presided here in his absence, and,
even when he was given up for lost, every thing had been scrupulously
kept as he had left it.

Here he immured himself; avoided all society but that of a few
personal friends; and by plunging into the studies which had formerly
engrossed him, tried to escape the persecution of his own thoughts. It
was a forced and painful task. The marks in his books, the pencil
notes on their margins, his voluminous piles of memoranda, were all so
many sharp memorials of the past, to remind him that he was resuming
in darkness and despondency the work that he had left in sunshine.

In process of time, however, his ancient interest in his favorite
pursuit began to rekindle. He began to feel that the years of his
imprisonment had not been the dead and barren blank which he had
inclined to think them. His mind had ripened in its solitude, and the
studies which he had before followed with the zeal of a boy, more
eager than able to deal with the broad questions which they involved,
he could now grasp with the matured intellect of a man.

But while Morton was thus laboring on, Edith Leslie was passing
through an ordeal incomparably more severe. Month after month dragged
on, and her father still lingered, sinking again and again to the very
edge of the grave, and then rallying, as if with a fresh life. Vinal,
meanwhile, was in a good measure recovered from the effects of his
accident. His home and hers, if it could be called a home, was now a
house in town, which her father had fitted up for her in view of her
marriage. She had a painful and delicate part to act--at her father's
bedside, to appear as the happy and contented wife; at home, to endure
the presence of the man whose treachery filled her with horror, and
whose love for her, though she had never spoken a word of reproof, had
changed into fear and hatred. Of his actual presence, however, she had
to endure little; for he shunned her studiously; and her house was to
her a solitude, where she passed hours of a suffering more intense
than Morton had ever known in the dungeons of Ehrenberg.

Meanwhile, the servants, those domestic spies, did not fail to rumor
abroad the singular mode of life of the bride and bridegroom; that
Vinal avoided the house; that they seldom met, even at meals; and that
no word or look of sympathy or confidence seemed ever to pass between
them. Such rumors found their currency among the busier gossips of the
town; but Morton, secluded among his books, remained wholly ignorant
of them.



CHAPTER LXII.

  Old friends, like old swords, still are trusted best.--_Webster_.


It was nearly a year since he had landed at New York, and Morton still
remained a literary hermit. Society was stale and distasteful to him.
He passed three fourths of his day in his library, and the rest on
horseback. At length, however, it happened that a cousin of his
mother, one of his few relatives in the city, was to give a ball on
occasion of her daughter's _début_; and lest his refusal should be
thought unkind, Morton promised to come. He drove to town in the
afternoon; and walking through a somewhat obscure street, suddenly, on
turning a corner, saw, some four or five rods before him, a
well-remembered face. It was the face of Henry Speyer. The discovery
was mutual. Speyer instantly turned down a by-lane. Morton quickened
his pace, and reached the head of the lane in time to see the broad
shoulders of the patriot in full retreat. He soon lost sight of him
among a wilderness of back yards and squalid houses. The incident
greatly disturbed and exasperated him. "A broken oath is nothing to
him," he thought to himself; "he is at Vinal again, dragging at his
veins like a vampire."

The evening drew on, and he entered the ball room in a gloomy and
dejected frame of mind. After a few words to his relatives, he took
his stand among a group who were watching the dancers; and had
scarcely done so, when he saw a young lady, simply, but very richly
dressed, whose fine figure and powerfully expressive beauty arrested
his eye at once. The indifference and listlessness with which he had
entered vanished. He soon observed that she was not an object of
attention to him alone; for near him stood a certain old beau, well
known about town, and a young collegian, both following her with their
eyes. The music ceased, and her partner led her to a seat at the
farther side of the room. Glancing at his two neighbors, Morton saw
that they were in the act of moving towards her; but he, being nearer,
had the advantage. Gliding through the dissolving fragments of the
dance, he stood by her side.

"Miss Fanny Euston, I see two persons coming to ask you to dance. May
I hope that you will reject them for an old friend's sake, and let me
be your partner?"

She raised her eyes with a perplexed look, which instantly changed to
a bright gleam of recognition, and cordially took his proffered hand.

"So," said Morton, "you have not forgotten me. And yet, as I see you,
I hardly dare to take up again the broken thread of our old intimacy.
I used to call you Fanny."

"Call me Fanny still," she said, "if only for the memory of auld lang
syne."

"I hoped to have seen you before, but you have been away."

"Yes, with my relations, and yours, at Baltimore. I have heard a great
deal about you. Your story is the talk of the town. You might be the
lion of the season; but I have not seen you at parties."

"No, I have outlived my liking for such matters."

"I cannot wonder at it. What horrors you have suffered! what dangers
you have passed!"

"I have weathered them, though."

"You were more than four years in a dungeon."

"Yes, but I gave them the slip."

"You were led out to be shot by the soldiers."

"They thought better of it, and saved their ammunition."

"And yet I see," said Miss Euston, smiling, "that you still remain
your former self. I remember telling you that, if you were sentenced
to the rack, you would go to it with a gibe on your tongue, and speak
of it afterwards as a pleasant diversion. But," she added, with a
changed look, "you have not come off unscathed. Your face is darker
and thinner than it used to be, and there are lines in it that were
not there before."

"Fortune fondled me till she grew tired of me; then turned at me,
tooth and nail."

"You banter with your lips, but your look belies your words. You have
suffered greatly; you have suffered intensely."

Morton looked grave in spite of himself.

"Perhaps you are right. I have very little heart left for jesting."

The eyes of his companion, as they met his, assumed a peculiar
softness.

"You must have suffered beyond all power of words to speak it. The
world to you was fresh and full of interest. You were ambitious; full
of ardor and energy; loving hardship for its own sake, and obstacles
for the sake of conquering them. You were formed for action. It was
your element--your breath; and without it you did not care to live.
You were high in confidence, and believed that whatever you had once
resolved on must, sooner or later, come to pass."

"Why are you saying this?" demanded Morton, in great surprise.

"Out of this life you were suddenly snatched and buried in a dungeon;
shut off from all intercourse with men; your energies stifled; your
restless mind left to prey upon itself, or sustain a weary siege
against despair. Pain or danger you could have faced like a man; but
this passive misery must to you have been a daily death."

"Who," interrupted Morton, "taught you, a woman, to penetrate the
nature of a man, and describe sufferings that you never felt?"

"Your mind was like a spring of steel, springing up the more strongly
the harder it was pressed down. The suffering must have been deep
indeed from which you could not rebound. To have escaped, to have
reached home, and to have found any thing but relief and delight----"

"Home!" ejaculated Morton, bitterly, as a sharp memory of the anguish
which had met him on the threshold came over him. "A prison may be
borne with patience. Those are fortunate who have felt no keener
stabs."

The words, equivocal as they were, were scarcely spoken, when he had
repented them. Fanny Euston was silent for a moment. "Can it be
possible," she thought, "that the stories whispered about, that before
he went away he was engaged to Edith Leslie, are something more than
an idle rumor?"

"Why do you look at me so searchingly?" thought Morton, on his part,
as, raising his eyes, he saw those of his friend fixed on him in a
gaze in which a woman's curiosity was mingled with a fully equal share
of a woman's kindliness and sympathy. He hastened to escape from the
critical ground which he had approached.

"I can retort upon you," he said. "You have had your ordeal, too."

"What, do you see its traces? Do you find me scorched and withered?"

"I see," said Morton, "such traces as on gold that has passed through
the furnace."

"Truly, I have cause to rejoice, then; for I remember that, among
other compliments, you once intimated your opinion that I was
possessed with a devil."

"I am afraid that I pushed to its farthest limit my privilege of
cousinship."

"And yet, when I look back to that time, I cannot help thinking that
you had some reason for believing that an influence from the nether
world had some share in me."

"Now pardon me, if I am rude again. Looking at you, I can see the same
devil still."

"Indeed, and you will console me now, as you did then, by telling me
that a dash of viciousness is necessary to make a character
interesting."

"I should prune and explain my speech. By a devil, I did not mean a
malicious imp of darkness, wholly bent on evil. I meant nothing more
than certain impulses and emotions,--passions, if I may call them
so,--very turbulent tenants, yet of admirable use when well dealt
with. These were the devil whom I used to see in you, and whom I see
still."

"I shall tremble at myself."

"Then you are not so brave as you were when you leaped the fallen tree
at New Baden. Your demon has ceased to have an alarming look. I think
you have turned him to good account. Shall I illustrate from the
legends of the saints?"

"In any way you please; but I should never have expected you to resort
to so pious a source."

"St. Bernard, crossing the Alps on some holy errand, was met by Satan,
who, being anxious to prevent his journey, broke one of his carriage
wheels. But St. Bernard caught him, sprinkled him with holy water,
doubled him into a wheel, and put him upon the carriage in place of
the broken one. The legend says that he answered the purpose
admirably, and bore the saint safely to the end of his journey."

"Your legend is absurd enough; but I think I catch your meaning, and
wish I could think you wholly in the right. It is singular that you
and I have never met without our conversation becoming personal to
ourselves. We are always studying each other--always trying to
penetrate each other's thoughts."

"On one side, at least, the success has been complete. As you look at
me, I feel that you are reading me like a book, from title page to
finis."

"You greatly overrate my penetration. I am conscious, at this moment,
of movements in your mind which I do not understand."

"And would you have me confess them to you?"

"You might repent it afterwards; and that would make a breach between
us."

"You are a miraculous woman, to postpone your curiosity to a scruple
like that. No, I would not have spoken of confession, if I should ever
repent it. Do you know, I would rather open my mind to you than to any
one else I am now acquainted with."

"But you have male friends; very old and intimate ones."

"Excellent in their way; but I would as soon confess to my horse. Find
me a woman of sense, with a brain to discern, a heart to feel, passion
to feel vehemently, and principle to feel rightly, and I will show her
my mind; or, if not, I will show it to no one. Now, after this
preamble, you have a right to think that I should begin to confess
something at once. But first, I will ask you a question."

"What is it?"

"Tell me what effect you think any long and severe suffering ought to
have on a man--something, I mean, that would bring him to the brink of
despair, and keep him there for months and years."

"What kind of man do you mean?"

"Suppose one given over to pleasure, ambition, or any other engrossing
pursuit not too disinterested."

"It would depend on how the suffering was taken."

"Suppose him resolved to make the best of a bad bargain."

"Why, the effect ought to be good, I suppose,--so the preachers say."

"I do not wish to know what the preachers say. I wish your own
opinion."

"Are you quite in earnest?"

"Quite."

"Such suffering, rightly taken, would strip life of its disguises, and
show it in its naked truth. It would teach the man to know himself and
to know others. It would awaken his sympathies, enlarge his mind, and
greatly expand his sphere of vision; teach him to hold present
pleasure and present pain in small account, and to look beyond them
into a future of boundless hopes and fears."

"Now," said Morton, "you have betrayed yourself."

"How have I betrayed myself?" asked his friend, in some discomposure.

"You have shown me the secrets of your own mind. You have given me a
glimpse of your own history, since we last met."

"And so, under pretence of confessing to me, you have been plotting to
make me confess to you!"

"No, you shall hear my confession. I have it now, such as it is, at my
tongue's end."

"I have no faith in you."

"Perhaps you will have still less when you have heard this great
secret. You remember me before I went away. I was a very exemplary
young gentleman,--quiet, orderly, well behaved,--of a studious
turn,--soberly and virtuously given."

"You give yourself an excellent character."

"And what should be the results of the discipline of a dungeon on such
a person?"

"Discipline would be a superfluity, considering your perfections."

"So I thought myself. Nevertheless, for four years, or so, I was shut
up, with nothing to look at but stone walls, under circumstances most
favorable for the culture of patience, resignation, forgiveness, and
all the Christian virtues; and yet the devil has never been half so
busy with me as since I came out; never whispered half so many
villanous suggestions into my ears, nor baited me with such scandalous
temptations."

"That is very strange," said Fanny Euston, who was looking at him
intently.

"For example," pursued Morton, "a little more than a year ago, in New
York, he said to me, 'Renounce all your old plans, and habits, and
antiquated scruples--reclaim your natural freedom--fling yourself
headlong into the turmoil of the world--chase whatever fate or fortune
throws in your way--enjoy the zest of lawless pleasures--launch into
mad adventure--embark on schemes of ambition--care nothing for the
past or the future--think only of the present--fear neither God nor
man, and follow your vagrant star wherever it leads you."

Morton knew that, restrained and governed as it might be, there was
quicksilver enough in his companion's veins to enable her to
understand what he had said, and prevent her being startled at it. But
he was by no means prepared for the close attack she proceeded to make
on him.

"Such a state of mind is foreign to your nature. You have prudence and
forecast. You used to make plans for the future, and study the final
results of every thing you did. There is something upon your mind. It
is not imprisonment only that has caused that compression of your
lips, and marked those lines on your face. You have met with some deep
disaster, some overwhelming disappointment. Nothing else could have
wrought such a convulsion in you."

Morton was taken by surprise; and, as he struggled to frame an answer,
his features betrayed an emotion which he could not hide. Fanny Euston
hastened to relieve his embarrassment, and assuage, as far as she
could, the tumult she had called up.

"With whatever fate you may have had to battle, your wounds are in the
front,--all honorable scars. Your desperation is past;--it was only
for the hour;--and for the other extreme, it is not in you to suffer
that."

"What other extreme?"

"Idle dreaming;--melancholy;--weak pining at disappointment."

"No, thank God, it is not in me to lie and whine like a sick child."

"You are the firmer for what you have passed. Manhood, the proudest of
all possession to a man, is strengthened and deepened in you."

"What do you call this manhood, which you seem to hold in such high
account?"

"That unflinching quality which, strong in generous thought and high
purpose, bears onward towards its goal, knowing no fear but the fear
of God; wise, prudent, calm, yet daring and hoping all things; not
dismayed by reverses, nor elated by success; never bending nor
receding; wearying out ill fortune by undespairing constancy;
unconquered by pain or sorrow, or deferred hope; fiery in attack,
steadfast in resistance, unshaken in the front of death; and when
courage is vain, and hope seems folly, when crushing calamity presses
it to the earth, and the exhausted body will no longer obey the still
undaunted mind, then putting forth its hardest, saddest heroism, the
unlaurelled heroism of endurance, patiently biding its time."

"And how if its time never come?"

"Then dying at its post, like the Roman sentinel at Pompeii."

Her words struck a chord in Morton's nature, and roused his early
enthusiasm, dormant for years.

"Fanny," he said, "I thank you. You give me back my youth. An hour
ago, the world was as dull to me as a November day; but you have
brought June back again. You would make a coward valiant, and breathe
life into a dead man."

Miss Euston seemed, for a moment, in embarrassment what to reply;
indeed, she showed some signs of discomposure, contrasting with her
former frankness. They were still in the recess of the window. She was
visible to those in the room; while he, standing opposite, was hidden
by a curtain. At this moment, a gentleman, with a slight limp in his
gait, approaching quickly, accosted Miss Euston, smiling with an air
of the most earnest affability. She looked up to reply, but, as she
did so, her eyes were arrested by a sudden change in the features of
her companion, who was bending on the new comer a look so fierce and
threatening, that she scarcely repressed an ejaculation of surprise.
Mr. Horace Vinal followed the direction of her gaze, and saw himself
face to face with the victim of his villany. He started as if he had
found a grizzly bear behind the curtain. The smile vanished from his
lips, the color from his cheeks, and he hastily drew back, and mingled
with the crowd.

This sudden apparition, breaking in upon the brightening mood of the
moment, incensed Morton almost to fury; and his anger, absurdly
enough, was a little tinged with a feeling not wholly unlike jealousy.
He made an involuntary movement to follow his enemy, but recollecting
himself, smoothed his brow and calmed his ruffled spirit as he best
might.

"You seem to know that man very well," he said to Miss Euston.

"Yes, I know him."

"He seems to think himself on excellent terms with you."

"He has charge of my mother's property."

"You are good at reading faces. I hope you liked the expression on
his, as he slunk away just now."

"It was fear--abject fear. Why are you so angry? Why is he so
frightened?"

"His nerves, you may have observed, are something of the weakest. He
is my attendant genius, my familiar. A word from me, and he will run
my errand like a spaniel."

"How could you gain such power over him?" she asked, in great
astonishment.

"Magnetism, Fanny, magnetism. The effects of the mesmeric fluid are
wonderful. See, the polking is over; they are forming a quadrille.
Shall we take our places in the set?"

During the dance, Morton looked for his enemy, but could not discover
him till it was over, and he had led his partner to a seat.

"Look," he said, "there is our friend again; in the next room, just
beyond the folding doors, talking with Mrs. ---- and Mrs. ----. He
seems to have got the better of the shock to his nerves; at least, he
stands up manfully against it. Mr. Horace Vinal has a stout heart, and
needs nothing but valor, and one other quality, to make a hero. But
his face is flushed. I fear he suffers in his health. See, he makes
himself very agreeable. Vinal was always famous for his wit. Pardon me
a moment; I have a word for my friend's ear."

Fanny Euston looked at him doubtingly.

"Pray, don't be discomposed. There's no gunpowder impending. Vinal is
not a fighting man; nor am I. What I have to say is altogether
pacific, loving, and scriptural."

And passing into the adjoining room, he approached Vinal, who no
sooner saw the movement, than he showed a manifest uneasiness. His
forced animation ceased, his manner became constrained, and while
Morton stood near, waiting an opportunity to speak to him, he withdrew
to another part of the room. Morton followed, and pronounced his name.
Vinal, with pretended unconsciousness, mingled with the crowd. Morton
again tried to accost him, and again Vinal moved away. Impatient and
exasperated, Morton stepped behind him, touched his shoulder, and
whispered in his ear,--

"You fool, do you know your danger? Speyer is looking for you. I saw
him this afternoon. He looks as if he needed your charity. You had
better be generous with him. He is a tiger, and will be upon you
before you know it."

Anger and terror, of which the latter vastly predominated, gave a
ghastly look to Vinal's face, as he turned it towards Morton. But he
drew back without a word, and soon left the room.

"Where is Mr. Vinal?" asked the wondering Fanny Euston, as her
companion returned to her side. The momentary interview had been
invisible from where she sat.

"Obeyed the magic word, and vanished. Never doubt again the power of
magnetism. Now you may see that the claptrap of the charlatans about
the mutual influence of congenial spheres is not quite such trash as
one might think. Vinal and I, being congenial spheres, put each other,
the one into a passion, the other into a fright. But I have a request
to you. Whoever knows you, knows, in spite of the libellers, a woman
who can keep counsel; and as I am modest in respect to my magnetic
gifts, I shall beg it of you, that you will not mention these
experiments to any one. Good evening. I have revived to-night an old
and valued friendship. If I can help it, it shall not die again."

He took leave of his hostess, wrapped his cloak about him, and walked
out into the drizzling night.



CHAPTER LXIII.

             Nought's had, all's spent,
  Where our desire is got without content.
  'Tis safer to be that which we destroy,
  Than by destruction dwell in doubtful joy.--_Macbeth_.


Morton walked the street, on the next day, in a mood less grave than
had lately been his wont, but in one of any thing but self-approval.

"It is singular," he thought, "I could never meet her without
forgetting myself,--without being betrayed into some absurdity or
other. I thought by this time that I had grown wiser, or, at least,
was well fenced against that kind of risk. But it is the same now as
ever. I was a fool at New Baden, and I was a fool again last night,
though after a different fashion. After all, when a fresh breeze
comes, why should I not breathe it? when a ray of sun comes, why
should I not bask in it? But what impelled me to insult that wretch,
who I knew dared not and could not answer me?"

He pondered for a moment, then turned and walked slowly towards
Vinal's place of business.

"Is Mr. Vinal here?" he asked of one of the clerks.

"Yes, sir, he is in that inner room."

"Is any one with him?"

"No, sir." And Morton opened the door and entered.

Vinal sat before a table, on which letters and papers were lying; but
he was leaning backward in his chair, with a painfully knit brow, and
a face of ghastly paleness. It flushed of a sudden as Morton appeared,
and his whole look and mien showed an irrepressible agitation.

Morton closed the door. "Vinal," he said, "you need not fear that I
have come with any hostile purpose. On the contrary, I will serve you,
if I can. Last night I used words to you which I have since regretted.
I beg you to accept my apology."

Vinal made no reply.

"I saw Speyer in the street last evening, and tried to speak with him,
but could not stop him. He can hardly have any other purpose in
breaking his oath and coming here again, than to get more money from
you. Has he been to you?"

Still Vinal was silent.

"I think," continued Morton, "that you cannot fail to see my motive. I
wish to keep him from you, not on your account, but on your wife's. If
you let him, he will torment you to your death. Have you seen him
since last evening?"

Vinal inclined his head.

"Where is he now?"

"I don't know."

"Has he left the city?"

"I don't know. I suppose so."

"And you gave him money?"

Vinal was silent again. Morton took his silence for assent.

"When he comes again, tell me of it, and let me speak to him. Possibly
I may find means to rid you of him. Meantime remember this. He has
given your letter up to me. He has no proofs to show against you,
unless he has other letters of yours;--is that the case?"

Vinal shook his head.

"Then, if he proclaims you, his word will not be taken, unless I
sustain it; and I shall keep silent unless you give me some new cause
to speak. I do not see that he can harm you much without my help; so
give him no more money, and set him at defiance."

Morton left the room; but his words had brought no relief to the
wretched Vinal. Speyer had shown him his letter, and told him the
artifice by which he had kept it, and palmed off a counterfeit on
Morton. He felt himself at the mercy of a miscreant as rapacious,
fierce, and pitiless, as a wolverene dropping on its prey.



CHAPTER LXIV.

            Ah, would my friendship with thee
  Might drown the memory of all patterns past!--_Suckling_.


Some few days after, riding, as usual, in the afternoon, Morton saw on
the road before him a lady on horseback, riding in the same direction.
At a glance, he recognized the air and figure of Fanny Euston. This
remnant, at least, of her former spirit remained to her,--she did not
hesitate to ride unattended. Morton checked his horse, reflected for a
little, then touched him with the spur, and in a moment was at her
side. After they had conversed for a while, she said,--

"I have heard a great deal of your imprisonment from others, but
nothing from yourself. Will you not let me hear your story from your
own lips?"

"It was a long and dull history to live through, and will be a short
and dull one to tell."

"I have never been able to hear clearly why you were arrested at all."

"It was a simple matter. The Austrian government is like a tyrant and
a coward, frightened at shadows. I had one or two acquaintances at
Vienna who had been implicated, though I did not know it, in plots
against the government. I, being an American, was imagined to be, as a
matter of course, a democrat, and in league with them. It needed very
little more; and they shut me up, as they have done many an innocent
man before me."

"Looking back at your imprisonment, it must seem to you a broad, dark
chasm in your life."

"Broad and black enough; but not quite so void as I once thought."

"No; in struggling through it, I can see that you have not come out
empty handed."

"Not I; I should be glad to rid myself of the larger part of the load.
One is sometimes punished with the fulfilment of his own whims. I
remember wishing--and that not so many years back--that I might sound
all the strings of human joys and sufferings,--try life in all its
phases,--in peace and war, a dungeon, if I remember right, inclusive.
I have had my fill of it, and do not care to repeat the experiment."

"Some of the damp and darkness of your dungeon still clings about you,
and out of the midst of it, you look back over the gulf to a shore of
light and sunshine, where you were once standing."

"You read me like a sibyl, as you always do. None but a child or a
fool will seriously regret any shape of experience out of which he has
come with mind and senses still sound, though it may have changed the
prismatic colors of life into a neutral tint, a universal gray, a
Scotch mist, with light enough to delve by, and nothing more."

"One's life is a series of compromises, at best. One must capitulate
with Fate, gain from her as much good as may be, and as little evil."

"And then set his teeth and endure. As for myself, though, if gifts
were portioned out among mankind in equal allotments, I should count
myself, even now, as having more than my share."

"That idea of equalized happiness is a great fallacy."

"Every idea of mortal equality is a great fallacy; and all the systems
built on it are built on a quicksand. There is no equality in nature.
There are mountains and valleys, deserts and meadows, the fertile and
the barren. There is no equality in human minds or human character.
Who shall measure the distance from the noblest to the meanest of men,
or the yet vaster distance from the noblest to the meanest of women?
The differences among mankind are broader than any but the greatest of
men can grasp. With pains enough, one may comprehend, in a measure,
the minds on a level with his own or below it; but, above, he sees
nothing clearly. To follow the movements of a great man's mind, he
must raise himself almost to an equal greatness."

"A hopeless attempt with most. Every one has a limit."

"But men make more limits for themselves than Nature makes for them."

"You seem to me a person with a singular capacity of growth. You push
forth fibres into every soil, and draw nutriment from sources most
foreign to you."

"An indifferent stock needs all the aliment it can find. I am
fortunate in my planting. Companionship is that which shapes us; and I
have found men, and what is more to the purpose, women, who have met
my best requirement. One's friends have all their special influence
with which they affect him. Yours, to me, was always a rousing and
wakening influence, an electric life. You have shot a ray of sun down
into my shadow, and I am bound at least to thank you for it."

"I hope, for old friendship's sake, that your shadow may soon cease to
need such farthing-candle illumination.--Here is my mother's house.
She will be glad to see you."

"I thank you: I will come soon, but not to-day."

And, taking leave of his companion, he turned his horse homeward.

"A vain attempt! I thought a light might kindle again; but it is all
dust and ashes, with only a sparkle or two. No more flame; the fuel is
burnt out. Shall I go on? Shall I offer what is left of my heart? A
poor tribute for her. She should command a better; and there is
something in her manner, warm and cordial as she is, that tells me
that I should offer it in vain."



CHAPTER LXV.

           Art thou so blind
  To fling away the gem whose untold worth,
  Hid 'neath the roughness of its native mine,
  Tempts not the eye? Touched by the artist's wheel,
  The hardest stone flashes the diamond's light.--_Anon_.


A few days later, Morton was seated with his friend Meredith.

"Ned, this is a slow life. Do you know, I have made up my mind to
change it."

"You have been so busy this year past, that I thought you would be
content to stay where you are."

"On the contrary, my vocation takes me abroad."

"Where will you go?"

"To Egypt, Arabia, India, the East Indies, the South Sea Islands."

"All in the cause of science?"

"At any rate, the thing is necessary to my plans."

"The old Adam sticks to you still. Are you sure that no Pequot blood
ever got into your veins?"

"I don't know as to that. My ancestors were Puritans to the backbone,
witch-burners, Quaker-killers, and Indian-haters. I only know that
when I am bored, my first instinct is to cut loose, and take to the
woods. It comes over me like an ague-fit. There are two places where a
man finds sea room enough; one is a great metropolis, the other is a
wilderness. There is no freedom in a place like this. One can only be
independent here by living out of the world as I have been doing."

"Here in America, we have political freedom _ad nauseam_; and we pay
for it with a loss of social freedom."

"You remember an agreement of ours, years ago, that you and I should
travel together. Now, will you stand to it, and go with me?"

"Other considerations apart, I should like nothing better; but, as
matters stand with me now, it's quite out of the question."

Morton was silent for a moment. "Ned," he said, at length, "I heard a
rumor yesterday. It is no part of mine to obtrude myself into your
private affairs, and I should not speak if I had not a reason, the
better half of which is, that I think I can serve you. I heard that
you were paying your addresses to Miss Euston."

"One cannot look twice at a lady without having it noted down in black
and white, and turned into tea-table talk."

"I met Miss Euston a few evenings ago. I used to know her before I
went to Europe, but had not seen her since. If what I heard is true, I
think you have shown something more than good taste."

"You remember her," said Meredith, after a pause, "as she was the
summer when you and I went to New Baden."

"Yes, I knew her then very well."

"I liked her better at that time than you ever supposed. She was very
young; just out of school, in fact. She had lived all her life in the
suburbs, and had grown up like an unpruned rose bush,--a fine stock in
a strong soil, but throwing out its shoots quite wildly and at
random."

"I know it; but all that is changed, I can't conceive how."

"I can tell you. The one person whom she loved and stood in awe of was
her father. He was a man, and a strong one. He died suddenly about the
time you went away. It was the first blow she had ever felt; and his
death was only the beginning of greater troubles. You remember her
brother Henry."

"I remember him when he was at school--a good-natured, high-spirited
little fellow, whom every body liked."

"With wild blood enough for a regiment, and as careless, thoughtless,
and easy-tempered as a child, such as he was, in fact. His father,
being out of the country on his affairs, sent him to New York, where
he fell in with a bad set, and grew very dissipated. Then, to get him
out of harm's way, they shipped him off to Canton, where he soon began
to ruin himself, hand over hand. At last, a few months after his
father's death, his mother and sister heard that he was on his way
home, with his health completely broken. The next news was, that he
was at Alexandria, dangerously ill of a slow fever. His mother, who,
with all respect, is the weakest of mortals, broke down at once into a
state of helplessness, and could do nothing but weep and lament. The
whole burden fell upon his sister. She went with her mother and a man
servant to Alexandria, and took charge of her brother, whose fever
left him in such an exhausted state that he fell into a decline. She
brought him as far as Naples, but he could go no farther; and here she
attended him for five months, till he died; her mother sinking,
meanwhile, into a kind of moping imbecility. By that time, her uncle
had found grace to come and join them. Then her turn came; her
strength failed her, and she fell violently ill. For a week, her life
was despaired of; but she rallied, against all hope. I was in Naples
soon after, and used to meet her every morning, as she drove in an
open carriage to Baiæ. I never saw such a transformation. She was pale
as death, but very beautiful; and her whole expression was changed.
She had always been very fond of her brother. There were some points
of likeness between them. He had her wildness, and her kindliness of
disposition, but none of her vigorous good sense, and was altogether
inferior to her in intellect. Now you can have some idea why you find
her so different from what you once knew her to be."

"I knew," said Morton, "that she had passed through the fire in some
way; but how I could not tell. I think, now, still better of your
judgment, Ned."

"Then you see why I will not go with you. I must bring this matter to
an issue. For good or evil, I must know how it goes with me. It is not
a new thing. It is of longer date than you imagined, or she either.
What the end of it may be, Heaven only knows; but one thing is
certain,--you will not see me in the South Seas before this point is
cleared."

"Then I shall never see you there."

"Why do you say that?"

"Your travelling days are over. At least I think so."

"Do you mean----?"

"That you are playing at a game where I think you will win."

"What reason have you to think so?" demanded Meredith, nervously.

"Take the opinion, and let the reason go. On such an argument a good
reason will sometimes dwindle into nothing when one tries to explain
it."

His hand was on the door as he spoke, and bidding his friend good
morning, he left him to his meditations.



CHAPTER LXVI.

  Why waste thy joyous hours in needless pain,
  Seeking for danger and adventure vain?--_Fairy Queen_.


Morton mounted his horse, and rode to the house of Mrs. Euston. He
found her daughter alone.

"I have come to take leave of you. I am on my travels again."

"Again! You are always on the wing. I supposed that you must have
learned, by this time, to value home, or, at least, be reconciled to
staying there in peace."

"My home is a little lonely, and none of the liveliest. Movement is my
best repose."

"You are wholly made up of restlessness."

"That is Nature's failing, not mine; or if Nature declines to bear the
burden of my shortcomings, I will put them upon Destiny, and with much
better cause. But this is not restlessness; or, if it is, it has
method in it. This journey is a plan of eight years' standing. I
concocted it when I was a junior, half fledged, at college, and never
lost sight of it but once, and then for a cause that does not exist
now."

"Where are you going?"

Morton gave the outline of his journey.

"But is not that very difficult and dangerous?"

"Not very."

"You will not be alone, surely."

"I provided for a companion years ago. My friend Meredith and I struck
an agreement, that when I went on this journey he should go with me."

An instant shadow passed across the face of Fanny Euston.

"So you will have a companion," she replied, with a nonchalance too
distinct to be genuine.

"Not at all. He breaks his word. He won't hear of going."

The cloud vanished.

"I take it ill of him; for I had relied on having him with me. He and
I are old fellow-travellers. I have tried him in sunshine and rain,
and know his metal." And he launched into an emphatic eulogy of his
friend, to which Fanny Euston listened with a pleasure which she could
not wholly hide.

"He best knows why he fails me. It is some cogent and prevailing
reason; no light cause, or sudden fancy. Some powerful motive, mining
deep and moving strongly, has shaken him from his purpose; so I
forgive him for his falling off."

As Morton spoke, he was studying his companion's features, and she,
conscious of his scrutiny, visibly changed color.

"Dear cousin," he said, with a changed tone, "if I must lose my
friend, let me find, when I return, that my loss has been overbalanced
by his gain. I will reconcile myself to it, if it may help to win for
him the bounty that he aspires to."

The blush deepened to crimson on Fanny Euston's cheek; and without
waiting for more words, Morton bade her farewell.



CHAPTER LXVII.

  Mais ai-je sur son ame encor quelque pouvoir,
  Quelque reste d'amour s'y fait il encor voir.--_Polyeucte_.


With a slow step and a sinking heart, Morton entered Mrs. Ashland's
drawing room. He told her of his proposed journey; told her that he
should leave the country within a few days, to be absent for a year or
two at least, and asked her mediation to gain for him a parting
interview with Edith Leslie.

Mrs. Ashland, and she only, knew the whole misery of her friend's
position, and feared lest, exhausted as she was by mental pain and
long watching, and divided between her unextinguished love for Morton,
and her abhorrence of the criminal who by name and the letter of the
law was her husband, the meeting might put her self-mastery to too
painful a proof. She therefore, though with a very evident reluctance,
dissuaded Morton from it.

"Edith has been taxed already to the farthest limit of her strength.
She is not ill, but quite worn and spent. She is almost constantly
with her father, who, now, can hardly be said to live, and needs
constant care. To see you at this time would agitate her too much."

"Can the sight of me still have so much power to move her?"

"You know what she is. A feeling once rooted in her mind does not
loosen its hold. There are very few who comprehend her. Her character
is so balanced and so harmonious, so quiet and noiseless in its
movement, that no one suspects the force, and faith, and energy that
are in it. It is not in words or in looks that she shows herself. It
is in action, in emergencies, that she declares her power over herself
and over others."

Morton's passion glowed upon him with all its early fervor.

"I will tell her what you wish. But her cup is full already, and you
can hardly be willing to shake it to overflowing. It is impossible
that her father should linger many days more; and when that is over,
it will bring her a relief, though she may not think it so, in more
ways than one."

Morton assented to his friend's reasons, and leaving his farewell for
Edith Leslie, mournfully took his leave.



CHAPTER LXVIII.

          Grief and patience, rooted in her both,
  Mingle their spurs together.--_Cymbeline_.


Leslie was dead; beyond the reach of wounds and sorrow; and the only
tie which held his daughter to Vinal was at last broken. She left him,
as she had promised, and made her abode with Mrs. Ashland, in her
cottage by the sea shore.

She sat alone at an open window, looking out upon the sea, an
illimitable dreariness, waveless and dull as tarnished lead; clouded
with sullen mists, but still rocking in long, dead swells with the
motion of a past storm.

Her thoughts followed on the track of the absent Morton.

"It is best for you to have gone; to have made for yourself a relief
in your man's element of action and struggle. Such a change is
happiness, after the misery you have known. It was a bitter schooling;
a long siege, and a dreary one; but you have triumphed, and you wear
its trophy,--the heroic calm, the mind tranquil with consciousness of
power. You have wrung a proud tribute out of sorrow; but has it
yielded you all its treasure? Could you but have rested less loftily
on your own firm resolve and unbending pride of manhood! Could you but
have learned that gentler, deeper, higher philosophy which builds for
itself a temple out of ruin, and makes weakness invincible with
binding its tendrils to the rock!

"Your fate and mine have not been a bed of roses; but the fierceness
of yours is past, and I must still wait the issues of mine. I have
renounced this fraud and mockery of empty words which was to have
bound me to a life-long horror. The world will think very strangely of
me. That must be borne, too; and such a load is light, to the burden I
have borne already."

A few days later, tidings came that Vinal was ill. Edith Leslie
rejoined him; but, finding that her presence was any thing but
soothing to him, she left him in the care of others, and returned to
her friend's house. It was but a sudden and short attack, from which
he recovered in a week or two.



CHAPTER LXIX.

_Fal._--Reason, you rogue, reason; thinkest thou I'll endanger my soul
gratis?--_Merry Wives of Windsor_.

_Pistol._--Base is the slave that pays.--_Henry V_.


Time had been when, his youth considered, Vinal was a beaming star in
the commercial heaven. On 'change,

      "His name was great,
  In mouths of wisest censure."

The astutest broker pronounced him good; the sagest money lender took
his paper without a question. But of late, his signature had lost a
little of its efficacy. It was whispered that he was not as sound as
his repute gave out; that his operations were no longer marked by his
former clear-headed forecast; that he was deep in doubtful and
dangerous speculation. In short, his credit stood by no means where it
had stood a twelvemonth earlier.

Possibly these rumors took their first impulse, not on 'change, but at
tea tables, and in drawing rooms. His wife's separation from him had
given ample food to speculation; and gossip had for once been just,
asserting, with few dissenting voices, that there must needs be some
fault, and a grave one, on the part of Vinal. The event had ceased to
be a very recent one; but surmise was still rife concerning its
mysterious cause.

Meanwhile, Vinal was being goaded into recklessness, frightened out of
his propriety, haunted, devil-driven, maddened into desperate courses.
Late one night, he was pacing his library, with a quick, disordered
step. His servants were in their beds, excepting a man, nodding his
drowsy vigil over the kitchen fire. Vinal's affairs were fast drawing
to a crisis. A few weeks must determine the success or failure of a
broad scheme of fraud, on which he had staked his fortunes and
himself, and whose issues would sink him to disgrace and ruin, or lift
him for a time to the pinnacle of a knave's prosperity. But,
meanwhile, how to keep his head above water! Claims thickened upon
him; he was meshed in a network of perplexities; and, with him,
bankruptcy would involve far more than a loss of fortune.

There was a ring at the door bell. Vinal stopped short in his feverish
walk, raised his head with a startled motion, and listened like a fox
who hears the hounds. His instinct foreboded the worst. His cheek
flushed, and his eye brightened, not with spirit, but with
desperation.

The bell rang again. This time, the sleepy servant roused himself.
Vinal heard his step along the hall; heard the opening of the street
door, and a man's voice pronouncing his name. The moment after, his
evil spirit stood before him, in the shape of Henry Speyer.

Vinal gave him no time to speak, but shutting the door in the
servant's face, turned upon his visitor with such courage as a cat
will show when a bulldog has driven her into a corner.

"Again! Are you here again? It is hardly a month since you were here
last. What have you done with what I gave you then? Do you think I am
made of gold? Do you take me for a bank that you can draw on at will?"

"I am sorry to trouble you so soon, but I am very hard pressed."

"Hard pressed! So am I hard pressed. Here for a year and more I have
been supporting you in your extravagance--you and your mistresses; you
have been living on me like princes,--dress, drinking, feasting,
horses, gambling!--among you, you make my money spin away like water.
Every well has a bottom to it, and you have got to the bottom of
mine."

Speyer laughed with savage incredulity.

"Any thing in reason I am ready to do for you; but it's of no use.
More! more! is always the word. You think you have found a gold mine.
You mistake. Here I have a note due to-morrow; and another on
Monday--that was for money I borrowed to give you. Heaven knows how I
shall pay them. Go back, and come again a month from this."

"It won't do. I must have it now."

"I tell you, I have none to give you."

"Do you see this?" said Speyer, producing a roll of printed papers,
and giving one to Vinal.

It was Vinal's letter, in the form of a placard, with a statement of
the whole affair prefixed. Speyer had had it printed secretly in New
York, the names of Morton and Vinal being left blank, and ingeniously
filled in by himself with a pen.

"Give me the money, or show me how to get it, or I will have you
posted up at every street corner in town. I have your letter here. I
shall send it to your friend, the editor of the Sink."

The Sink was a scurrilous newspaper, which the virtuous Vinal, always
anxious for the morals of the city, had once caused to be prosecuted
as a nuisance, for which the editor bore him a special grudge.

But Vinal at last was brought to bay. Threats, which Speyer thought
irresistible, had lost their power. He threw back the paper, and said
desperately, "Do what you will."

Speyer made a step forward, and faced his prey.

"Will you give me the money?"

"By G--, no!"

"By G--, you shall!"

And Speyer seized him by the breast of his waistcoat.

Vinal had been trained in the habits of a gentleman. He had never
known personal outrage before. He grew purple with rage. The veins of
his forehead swelled like whipcord, and his eyes glittered like a
rattlesnake's.

"Take off your hand!"

The words were less articulated than hissed between his teeth.

"Take off your hand."

Speyer clutched him with a harder gripe, and shook him to and fro.
Quick as lightning, Vinal struck him in the face. Speyer glared and
grinned on his victim like an enraged tiger. For a moment, he shook
him as a terrier shakes a rat; then flung him backward against the
farther side of the room. Here, striking the wall, he fell helpless,
among the window curtains and overturned chairs. Speyer would probably
have followed up his attack; but at the instant, the servant, who, by
a happy accident, was at the side door, in the near neighborhood of
the keyhole, ran in in time to save Vinal from more serious
discomfiture.

Speyer hesitated; turned from one to the other with murder in his
look; then, slowly moving backwards, left the room, whence the
servant's valor did not mount to the point of following him.



CHAPTER LXX.

  He is composed and framed of treachery,
  And fled he is upon this villany.--_Much Ado about Nothing_.


Edward Meredith, the affianced bridegroom of Miss Fanny Euston,
sailing on a smooth sea, under full canvas, towards the pleasing but
perilous bounds of matrimony, was walking in the morning towards the
post office, in the frame of mind proper to his condition. He passed
that place of unrest where the Law hangs her blazons from every
window, and approached the heart and brain of the city, the precinct
sacred to commerce and finance. Here, gathered about a corner, he saw
a crowd, elbowing each other with unusual vehemence. Meredith, with
all despatch, crossed over to the opposite side. But here, again, his
attention was caught by a singular clamor among the rabble of
newsboys, as noisy and intrusive as a flight of dorr-bugs on a June
evening. And, not far off, another crowd was gathered at the office of
the Weekly Sink. Curiosity became too strong for his native antipathy.
He saw an acquaintance, with a crushed hat, and a face of bewildered
amazement, just struggling out of the press.

"What's the row?" demanded Meredith.

"Go and read that paper," returned the other, with an astonished
ejaculation, of more emphasis than unction.

Meredith shouldered into the crowd, looked over the hats of some,
between the hats of others, and saw, pasted to the stone door post, a
placard large as the handbill of a theatre. Over it was displayed a
sheet of paper, on which was daubed, in ink, the words, _Astounding
Disclosures!!! Crime in High Life!!!!_ And on the placard he beheld
the names of his classmate Horace Vinal, and his friend Vassall
Morton.

Meredith pushed and shouldered with the boldest, gained a favorable
position, braced himself there, and ran his eye through the whole.
Then, with a convulsive effort, he regained his liberty, beckoned a
newsboy, and purchased the extra sheet of the Weekly Sink. Here,
however, he learned very little. The editor, taught wisdom by
experience, had tempered malice with caution. He spoke of the duty he
owed to the public, his position as guardian and censor of the public
morals, and affirmed that, in this capacity, he had that morning
received through the post office the original of the letter of which a
copy was printed on the placards posted in various parts of the city.
With the letter had come also an anonymous note, highly complimentary
to himself in his official capacity, a copy of which he subjoined. As
for the letter, he did not think himself called upon to give it
immediate publicity in his columns; but he would submit it for
inspection to any persons anxious to see it, after which he should
place it in the hands of the police.

Though the editor of the Sink was thus discreet, the letter, in the
course of the day, found its way into several of the penny papers, to
which copies of the placard containing it had been mailed. From the
dram shop to the drawing room, the commotion was unspeakable. The mass
of readers floundered in a sea of crude conjecture; but those who knew
the parties, recalling a faint and exploded rumor of Morton's
engagement to Miss Leslie, and connecting it with her separation from
Vinal, gained a glimpse of something like the truth.

The only new light thrown upon the matter came from the servant, who
told all that he knew, and much more, of the nocturnal scene between
Speyer and Vinal, affirming, with much complacency, that he had saved
his master's life. Miss Leslie and Mrs. Ashland studiously kept
silent. Morton was at the antipodes; while the unknown divulger of the
mystery eluded all attempts to trace him. Speyer, in fact, having
sprung his mine, had fled from his danger and his debts, and taking
passage for New Orleans, sailed thence to Vera Cruz.

Meredith, perplexed and astounded, wrote a letter to Morton, directing
it to Calcutta, whither the latter was to repair, after voyaging among
the East India Islands.

Meanwhile, great search was made for Vinal; but Vinal was nowhere to
be found.



CHAPTER LXXI.

Now would I give a thousand furlongs of sea for an acre of barren
ground.--_Tempest_.

                    Let the great gods,
  That keep this dreadful pother o'er our heads,
  Find out their enemies now. Tremble, thou wretch,
  That hast within thee undivulged crimes
  Unwhipped of justice! Hide, thou bloody hand;
  Thou perjured and thou simular man of virtue,
  That art incestuous! Caitiff, to pieces shake,
  That under covert and convenient seeming,
  Hast practised on man's life!--_Lear_.


At one o'clock at night, in the midst of the Atlantic, a hundred
leagues west of the Azores, the bark Swallow, freighted with salt cod
for the Levant, was scudding furiously, under a close-reefed foresail,
before a fierce gale. On board were her captain, two mates, seven men,
a black steward, a cabin boy, and Mr. John White, a passenger.

The captain and his mates were all on deck. John White, otherwise
Horace Vinal, occupied a kind of store room, opening out of the cabin.
Here a temporary berth had been nailed up for him, while on the
opposite side were stowed a trunk belonging to him, and three barrels
of onions belonging to the vessel's owners, all well lashed in their
places.

The dead lights were in, but the seas, striking like mallets against
the stern, pierced in fine mist through invisible crevices,
bedrizzling every thing with salt dew. The lantern, hanging from the
cabin roof, swung angrily with the reckless plungings of the vessel.

Vinal was a good sailor; that is to say, he was not very liable to
that ocean scourge, seasickness, and the few qualms he had suffered
were by this time effectually frightened out of him. As darkness
closed, he had lain down in his clothes; and flung from side to side
till his bones ached with the incessant rolling of the bark, he
listened sleeplessly to the hideous booming of the storm. Suddenly
there came a roar so appalling, that he leaped out of his berth with
terror. It seemed to him as if a Niagara had broken above the vessel,
and was crushing her down to the nethermost abyss. The rush of waters
died away. Then came the bellow of the speaking trumpet, the trampling
of feet, the shouts of men, the hoarse fluttering of canvas. In a few
moments he felt a change in the vessel's motion. She no longer rocked
with a constant reel from side to side, but seemed flung about at
random, hither and thither, at the mercy of the storm.

She had been, in fact, within a hair's breadth of foundering. A huge
wave, chasing on her wake, swelling huger and huger, towering higher
and higher, had curled, at last, its black crest above her stern, and,
breaking, fallen on her in a deluge. The captain, a Barnstable man of
the go-ahead stamp, was brought at last to furl his foresail and lie
to.

Vinal, restless with his fear, climbed the narrow stairway which led
up to the deck, and pushed open the door at the top; but a blast of
wind and salt spray clapped it in his face, and would have knocked him
to the foot of the steps, if he had not clung to the handrail. He
groped his way as he could back to his berth. Here he lay for a
quarter of an hour, when the captain came down, enveloped in
oilcloths, and dripping like a Newfoundland dog just out of the water.
Vinal emerged from his den, and presenting himself with his haggard
face, and hair bristling in disorder, questioned the bedrenched
commander touching the state of things on deck. But the latter was in
a crusty and savage mood.

"Hey! what is it?"--surveying the apparition by the light of the
swinging lantern,--"well, you _be_ a beauty, I'll be damned if you
ain't."

"I did not ask you how I looked; I asked you about the weather."

"Well, it ain't the sweetest night I ever see; but I guess you won't
drown this time."

"My friend," said Vinal, "learn to mend your way of speaking, and use
a civil tongue."

The captain stared at him, muttered an oath or two, and then turned
away.

Day broke, and Vinal went on deck. It was a wild dawning. The storm
was at its height. One rag of a topsail was set to steady the vessel;
all the rest was bare poles and black dripping cordage, through which
the gale yelled like a forest in a tornado. The sky was dull gray; the
ocean was dull gray. There was no horizon. The vessel struggled among
tossing mountains, while tons of water washed her decks, and the men,
half drowned, clung to the rigging. Vast misshapen ridges of water
bore down from the windward, breaking into foam along their crests,
struck the vessel with a sullen shock, burst over her bulwarks,
deluged her from stem to stern, heaved her aloft as they rolled on,
and then left her to sink again into the deep trough of the sea.

Vinal was in great fear; but nothing in his look betrayed it. He soon
went below to escape the drenching seas; but towards noon, Hansen, the
second mate, a good-natured old sea dog, came down with the welcome
news that the gale had suddenly abated. Vinal went on deck again, and
saw a singular spectacle. The wind had strangely lulled; but the waves
were huge and furious as ever; and the bark rose and pitched, and was
flung to and fro with great violence, but in a silence almost perfect.
Water, in great quantities, still washed the deck, but found ready
escape through a large port in the after part of the vessel, the lid
of which, hanging vertically, had been left unfastened.

The lull was of short space. A hoarse, low sound began to growl in the
distance like muffled thunder. It grew louder,--nearer,--and the gale
was on them again. This time it blew from the north-west, and less
fiercely than before. The venturous captain made sail. The yards were
braced round; and leaning from the wind till her lee gunwale scooped
the water, the vessel plunged on her way like a racehorse. The clouds
were rent; blue sky appeared. Strong winds tore them apart, and the
sun blazed out over the watery convulsion, changing its blackness to a
rich blue, almost as dark, where the whirling streaks of foam seemed
like snow wreaths on the mountains. Jets of foam, too, spouted from
under the vessel's bows, as she dashed them against the opposing seas;
and the prickling spray flew as high as the main top. The ocean was
like a viking in his robust carousals,--terror and mirth, laughter and
fierceness, all in one.

But the mind of Vinal was blackness and unmixed gall. His game was
played and lost. The worst that he feared had befallen him. Suspense
was over, and he was freed from the incubus that had ridden him so
long. A something like relief mixed itself with his bitter and
vindictive musings. He had not fled empty handed. He and Morton's
friend Sharpe had been joint trustees of a large estate, a part of
which, in a form that made it readily available, happened to be in
Vinal's hands at the time of his crisis. Dread of his quick-sighted
and vigilant colleague had hitherto prevented him from applying it to
his own uses. But this fear had now lost its force. He took it with
him on his flight, and converted it into money in New York, where he
had embarked.

At night the descent of Hansen to supper was a welcome diversion to
his lonely thoughts. The old sailor seated himself at the table:--

"I've lost all my appetite, and got a horse's. Here, steward, you
nigger, where be yer? Fetch along that beefsteak. What do you call
this here? Well, never mind what you call it, here goes into it, any
how."

A silent and destructive onslaught upon the dish before him followed.
Then, laying down his knife and fork for a moment,--

"I've knowed the time when I could have ate up the doctor
there,"--pointing to the steward,--"bones and all, and couldn't get a
mouthful, no way you could fix it." Then, resuming his labors, "Tell
you what, squire, this here agrees with me. Come out of that berth
now, and sit down here alongside o' me. Just walk into that beefsteak,
like I do. That 'ere beats physicking all holler."

Thus discoursing, partly to himself and partly to Vinal, and, by
turns, berating the grinning steward in a jocular strain, Mr. Hansen
continued his repast. When, at last, he left the cabin, Vinal found
the solitude too dreary for endurance; and, to break its monotony, he
also went on deck.

The vessel still scoured wildly along; and as she plunged through the
angry seas, so the moon was sailing among stormy clouds, now eclipsed
and lost, now shining brightly out, silvering the seething foam, and
casting the shadows of spars and rigging on the glistening deck. Vinal
bent over the bulwark and looked down on the bubbles, as they fled
past, flashing in the moon.

His thoughts flew backward with them, and dwelt on the hated home from
which he was escaping.

"What an outcry! what gapes of wonder, and eyes turned up to heaven!
Gulled, befooled, hoodwinked! and now, at last, you have found it out,
and make earth and heaven ring with your virtuous spite. I knew you
all, and played you as I would play the pieces on a chess board. The
game was a good one in the main, but with some blunders, and for those
I pay the price. If I had had that villain's brute strength, and the
brute nerve that goes with it, there would have been a different story
to tell. Before this, I would have found a way to grind him to the
earth, and set my foot on his neck. They think him virtuous. He thinks
himself so. The shallow-witted idiots! Their eyes can only see
skin-deep. They love to be cheated. They swallow fallacies as a child
swallows sweetmeats. The tinsel dazzles them, and they take it for
gold. Virtue! a delusion of self-interest--self-interest, the spring,
lever, and fulcrum of the world. It is for my interest, for every
body's interest, that his neighbors should be honest, candid, open,
forgiving, charitable, continent, sober, and what not. Therefore, by
the general consent of mankind,--the inevitable instinct of
self-interest,--such qualities are exalted into sanctity; christened
with the name of virtues; draped in white, and crowned with halos;
rewarded with praises here and paradise hereafter. Drape the skeleton
as you will, the bare skeleton is still there. Paint as thick as you
will, the bare skull grins under it,--to all who have the eyes to see,
and the hardihood to use them. How many among mankind have courage to
face the naked truth? Not one in a thousand. Cannot the fools draw
reason out of the analogy of things? Can they not see that, as their
bodies will be melted and merged into the bodily substance of the
world, so their minds will be merged in the great universal mind,--the
_animus mundi_,--out of which they sprang, like bubbles on the water,
and into which they will sink again, like bubbles when they burst?
Immortality! They may please themselves with the name; but of what
worth is an immortality where individuality is lost, and each
conscious atom drowned in the vast immensity? What a howling and
screeching the wind makes in the rigging! If I were given to
superstition, I could fancy that a legion from the nether world were
bestriding the ropes, yelping in grand jubilation at the sight of----"

Here his thoughts were abruptly cut short. A combing wave struck the
vessel. She lurched with violence, and a shower of foam flew over her
side. Vinal lost his balance. His feet slipped from under him. He
fell, and slid quickly across the wet and tossing deck. Instinctively
he braced his feet to stop himself against the bulwark on the lee
side. But at the point where they touched it was the large port before
mentioned. Though closed to all appearance, the bolt was still
unfastened. It flew open at his touch. Vinal clutched to save himself.
His fingers slipped on the wet timbers, and with a cry of horror, he
was shot into the bubbling surges. There was a blinding in his eyes, a
ringing in his ears; then, for an instant, he saw the light, and the
black hulk of the vessel fled past like a shadow. Then a wave swept
over him: all was darkness and convulsion, and a maddened sense of
being flung high aloft, as the wave rolled him towards its crest like
a drift sea weed. Here again light broke upon him; and flying above
the merciless chaos, he saw something like the white wing of a huge
bird. It was the reefed main-topsail of the receding vessel. He
shrieked wildly. A torrent of brine dashed back the cry, and foaming
over his head, plunged him down into darkness again. Again he rose,
gasping and half senseless; and again the ravenous breakers beat him
down. A moment of struggle and of agony; then a long nightmare of
dreamy horror, while, slowly settling downward, he sank below the
turmoil of the storm; slowly and more slowly still, till the denser
water sustained his weight. Then with limbs outstretched, he hovered
in mid ocean, lonely, void, and vast, like a hawk poised in mid-air,
while his felon spirit, bubbling to the surface, winged its dreary
flight through the whistling storm.



CHAPTER LXXII.

  Adventure and endurance and emprise
  Exalted his mind's faculties, and strung
  His body's sinews.--_Bryant_.


On a rock, at the end of the promontory which forms the harbor of
Beyrout, stood Vassall Morton; and at his side his friend Buckland,
whom he had met in New York just after his return from Austria. They
had encountered again in the East Indies, and had made together a long
and varied journey, not without hardship and danger, among the tribes
of Upper India and Central Asia. Buckland was greatly changed. His
look and bearing betokened recovered health and spirit; while his
companion, in the fulness of masculine vigor, was swarthy as an Arab
with the long burning of the Eastern sun.

"Our travels are over, Buckland. We have nothing to do, now, but to
get on board ship, and lie still for a few weeks, and we shall be at
home again. I hardly know why it is that I wish so much to shorten the
space, unless from a cat-like propensity to haunt old places."

"And to see your friends again."

"Yes, that is something--a good deal. I have friends enough, unless
they have died since I last heard from them. But for household gods, I
have none; or, rather, my ancestral Lares have no better abode than an
old clapboarded parsonage in an up-country Yankee village. You are
much more fortunate in that respect. You go home again, besides, a new
man, rejuvenated in mind and body."

"Thanks to you for that. I was a wreck till you set me afloat and
refitted me."

"I gave you a shove off shore; but the refitting came afterwards, and
was no doing of mine. I should hardly know you for the same man."

"That infatuation seems to me like a dream, as I remember you
prophesied on the evening when we sat together on the Battery."

"Half of a woman's weakness springs from the sensitiveness of her
bodily organization; and three fourths of your infatuation may be laid
to the same account. One may say that, without any tendency to
flounder into materialism. You are a man again now; and even if you
had not heard of your sorceress's death, you might go back, I think,
without the least fear of her spells."

"I hope so; but I wish that, like you, I had some engrossing object to
return to."

"I wish that, like you, I had a family, and a fixed home to return to.
My travels are finished, though. I have roamed the world enough. My
objects are accomplished, as well as I could ever accomplish them. I
have not wandered for nothing; and now I shall bend myself to make my
journeyings bear what fruit I can. By the sun, and by my watch, it is
time for the consul to have returned. Did not his servant say that he
would come ashore from the frigate at about six?"

"Yes."

"If he does not, I will get a boat and go to find him. He must have
letters for one or the other of us."

"I will ride to the town, and see if he has come."

"Very well; I will wait for you here."

Their horses were near at hand, in the keeping of an Arab servant.
Buckland mounted his own, and rode off.

Morton seated himself on a jutting edge of the rock overhanging the
bay, and gave himself up to his thoughts.

"Two years of wandering! Two years more, and I should grow like the
man in Anastasius, never happy at rest, never content in motion. I
have had my fill of adventure. I must learn repose before it is too
late. Why is it that I look so longingly towards America? Except half
a dozen near friends, I have no ties there that are worth the name.
America is the paradise of the laboring class, the purgatory of those
of educated tastes. What career is open to me there, that I could not
better follow elsewhere? I have chosen my path. I have an object which
fills and engrosses me, and would fill the lifetime of twenty men
abler than I. America is not my best field of labor; but where else
should I plant myself? I could not live in England. I am of English
race, but of an altered type; too like, and too unlike, to find
harmony there. The continent is more cosmopolitan; but it would be a
dreary life. I should grow homesick, thinking of the old woods and
rocks. I will go home, buckle to my work, and end my days where I
began them.

"My life has been, in its small way, a varied one; very hard, at
times, but perhaps none too much so. Blows are good for most men, and
suffering, to the farthest limit of their endurance, what they most
need. It is a child's part to complain under any fate; and what color
of complaint have I, or any man sound in mind and body, and with the
world free before him? And yet I turn girl-hearted when I think of
that summer evening by the lake at Matherton. What is my fate to Edith
Leslie's? How will a few years of suffering, with one deadening memory
in their wake, compare with her life-long endurance? A woman's nature,
it is said, will mould itself into conformity with her husband's. I
will rather believe that Vinal's presence, instead of drawing her to
itself, has repelled her upward into a higher atmosphere, and made her
life as lofty as it must be sad. I wish to go back, and yet I shrink
from this voyage. I have some cause, remembering my last welcome home.
Heaven knows what I may learn of her this time. It was her marriage
then; perhaps it will be her death now. And which of the two will have
been the worse either for me to hear or for her to undergo? Perhaps
these letters may bring some word of her; though that is not likely,
for none of my friends, but one, know that I should have any special
interest in hearing it. If they write of her, it will be some news of
disaster."

These dismal forebodings weighed upon him, and his desire to have them
resolved soon grew so importunate, that mounting his horse, he
followed Buckland's track towards the town. Threading the busy
streets, he stopped before a door adorned with the effigy of a spread
eagle wearing a striped shield about his neck, and clutching
thunderbolts and olive boughs in his claws. He threw the rein to his
servant, mounted the consular stair, and at the head met Buckland
emerging.

"Is the consul come?"

"Yes; and letters for you. I am sorry for you, if you mean to answer
them all."

And he gave Morton a formidable packet. Morton cut the string.

"These are all six or eight months old. They are postmarked from
Calcutta."

"Yes, they came after we had gone up the country, and were sent back
to this place to meet you. Wait a moment; here are more. These two
have just come from England."

Morton took them; recognized on one the handwriting of Meredith; on
the other, that of his friend Mrs. Ashland. His heart leaped to his
throat; he tore open the seal, and glanced down the page.

Buckland saw his agitation.

"No bad news, I trust."

"I had an enemy, and he is dead. You shall know more of it to-morrow."

And hastening from the house, he mounted again, and through the midst
of mules, donkeys, dromedaries, men, children, and old women, rode at
an unlawful speed towards his lodging.

Here, with a beating heart, he explored his profuse correspondence
from beginning to end. By the Calcutta packet, he learned how his
native town had been thrown into commotion by the exposure and flight
of Vinal, and how his friends were eager and impatient to hear his
explanation of the affair. The more recent letters bore tidings still
more startling. The bark Swallow had touched at Gibraltar, and a
letter from her captain to her owners, forwarded by the Oriental
steamer on her return voyage, told how his passenger, John White, had
been lost overboard during a gale, two of the crew having seen the
accident; how, arriving at Gibraltar, his trunks had been opened in
the consul's presence, to learn his address; and how, along with a
large amount of money in gold, letters and papers had been found,
showing that he was not John White, but Horace Vinal, of Boston.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the next morning, Morton despatched a letter to Meredith. In it, he
told his friend the whole course of his story; and these were the
closing words:--

"One thing you may well believe--that, before you will have had this
letter many days, I shall follow it. There will be no rest for me till
I touch American soil. An old passion, only half stifled under a load
of hopelessness, springs into fresh life again, and burns, less
brightly, perhaps, but I can almost believe, more deeply and fervently
than ever. I was consoling myself yesterday with trying to think that
blows were my mind's best medicine; but I feel now, that after being
broken with the plough and harrow, it will yield the better for the
summer sunshine. Yet I am afraid to flatter myself with too bright a
prospect. Miss Leslie loved me, and the planets in their course are
not more constant and unswerving; but I cannot tell what may have been
the effect of so much suffering, or what determination, fatal to my
hope, it may not have impelled her to embrace. She will soon know my
mind. I have written to her, and begged her to send her reply to New
York, where, if my reckoning does not fail, I shall arrive about the
middle of June. By it I shall be able to judge to what fortune I am to
look forward.

"You have so lately passed your own anxieties, that you will easily
appreciate mine. I can wish for them nothing more than that they may
find as happy an issue; and I will take it as an earnest of the
intentions of destiny towards me that it has just brought together my
two best friends."



CHAPTER LXXIII.

  Joy never feasts so high
  As when his first course is of misery.--_Suckling_.


Again the Jersey heights rose on the eye of Morton, and the woods and
villas of Staten Island. Again the broad breast of New York harbor
opened before him, sparkling in the June sun; the rugged front of the
Castle, and the tapering spire of Trinity. He bethought him of his
last return, and its unforgotten blackness threw its shadow across his
mind. He turned, doubting and tremulous, towards the future; but here
his horizon brightened as with the sunrise, shooting to the zenith its
shafts of tranquil light.

Meanwhile, the telegraph had darted to Boston a notice that the
approaching steamer had been signalled off the coast. Meredith took
the night train to meet his friend; but, arriving, he learned that
Morton was already on shore. Driving from one hotel to another, he
found, at length, the latter's resting-place.

"Shall I take up your name, sir?"

"No, show me his room; I will go myself."

He knocked at the door. There was no answer. He knocked again, and a
voice replied suddenly, like that of a man roused from a revery.

He entered; and at the next moment, Morton grasped his hand.

"You have found yourself again," said Meredith; "you have grown back
again to your old look."

Morton's eye glistened.

"I think I know the handwriting of that letter. Miss Leslie's,--I will
call her so still--it is hers, is it not?"

"Yes."

"She writes, I trust, what you hoped to hear."

"All that I hoped, and much more."

"I am glad of it from my heart. Fortune has been hard enough upon you.
She was bound to pay you her score."

"She has done so with usury."

"Are you going to Boston this afternoon?"

"Yes."

"Then you have just two hours to spare. If you have any leisure for
such sublunary matters, we had better get dinner at once. Romeo
himself, at his worst case, asks his friend when they shall dine."

Three hours later, the eastward-bound steamer was ploughing the Sound,
and Morton and Meredith paced her deck.

"I have told you now the whole history, from first to last. I need not
ask you to forgive my having kept it secret from you so long."

"Why should you ask me? Every man has a right to his own secrets, and
I like him the better for keeping them. Vinal, at all events, had good
cause to thank you."

"He is dead; and his memory, if it will, had better die with him."

"You said in your letter that his agent was called Henry Speyer. I
thought, at the time, that I had seen the name before; and a day or
two since, I found it accidentally again. The newspapers, two months
or more ago, mention a foreigner called Henry Speyer as an officer in
this last piratical forray into Cuba. His party lost their way, fell
into an ambuscade of government soldiers, and Speyer was shot through
the head."

"He found a better end than his principal."

"And deserved a better one. A professed rascal is better than a
pharisee."



CHAPTER LXXIV.

       The rainbow to the storms of life;
  The evening beam that smiles the clouds away.--_Bride of Abydos_.


Morton rode along the edge of the lake at Matherton. He passed under
the shadowy verdure of the pines, and approached the old family
mansion of the Leslies. It was years since he had seen it. His
imprisonment, his escape, his dreary greeting home, all lay between.
He was the same man, yet different;--with a mind calmed by experience,
and strong by action and endurance; an ardor which had lost all of its
intoxication, but none of its force; and which, as the past and the
present rose upon his thoughts, was tempered with a melancholy which
had in it nothing of pain.

The hall door stood open, as if to welcome him. The roses and the
laurels were in bloom; the grass, ripe for the scythe, was waving in
the meadow; and, by glimpses between the elm and maple boughs, the
lake, crisped in the June wind, was sparkling with the sunlight.

Morton dismounted; his foot was on the porch; but he had no time for
thought; for a step sounded in the hall, and Edith met him on the
threshold.

       *       *       *       *       *

That evening, at sunset, Miss Leslie and Morton stood on the brink of
the lake, at the foot of the garden. It was the spot which had been
most sweet and most bitter in the latter's recollections.

"Do you remember, Edith, when we last stood here?"

"How could I ever forget?"

"The years that have passed since are like a nightmare. I could
believe them so, but that I feel their marks."

"And I, as well; we were boy and girl then."

"At least, I was a boy; and, do you know, I find you different from
what I had pictured you."

"Should I be sorry for it, or glad?"

"I had pictured you as I saw you last, very calm, very resolute, very
sad; but you are like the breaking of a long, dull storm. The sun
shines again, and the world glows the brighter for past rain and
darkness."

"Could I have welcomed you home with a sad face? Could I be calm and
cold, now that I have found what I thought was lost forever?--when the
ashes of my life have kindled into flame again? Because I, and others,
have known sorrow, should I turn my face into a homily, and be your
lifelong _memento mori_?"

"It is a brave heart that can hide a deep thought under a smile."

"And a weak one that is always crouching among the shadows."

"There is an abounding spirit of faith in you; the essence which makes
heroes, from Joan of Arc to Jeanie Deans."

"I know no one with faith like yours, which could hold to you through
all your years of living burial."

"Mine! it was wrenched to its uttermost roots. I thought the world was
given over to the devil."

"But that was only for the moment."

"I consoled myself with imagining that I had come to the worst, and
that any change must needs be for the better; but now I am lifted of a
sudden to such a pitch of fortune, that I tremble at it. Many a man,
my equal or superior, no weaker in heart or meaner in aim than I, has
been fettered through his days by cramping poverty, while I stand
mailed and weaponed at all points. Many a man of noble instincts and
high requirements has found in life nothing but a mockery of his
imaginings,--a bright dream, matched with a base reality. Who can
blame him if he turn cynic? I have dreamed a dream, too; wakened, and
found it a living truth."





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