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Title: Ruth Hall - A Domestic Tale of the Present Time
Author: Fern, Fanny, 1811-1872
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Ruth Hall - A Domestic Tale of the Present Time" ***

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Internet Archive)



  RUTH HALL:

  A
  DOMESTIC TALE
  OF
  THE PRESENT TIME.

  BY
  FANNY FERN.

  NEW YORK:
  PUBLISHED BY MASON BROTHERS.
  1855.



  ENTERED, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1854,

  BY MASON BROTHERS,

  In the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District
  of New York.


  STEREOTYPED BY
  THOMAS B. SMITH,
  216 William St., N. Y.

  PRINTED BY
  JOHN A. GRAY,
  95 & 97 Cliff St.



PREFACE.

TO THE READER.


I present you with my first continuous story. I do not dignify it by the
name of "A novel." I am aware that it is entirely at variance with all
set rules for novel-writing. There is no intricate plot; there are no
startling developments, no hair-breadth escapes. I have compressed into
one volume what I might have expanded into two or three. I have avoided
long introductions and descriptions, and have entered unceremoniously
and unannounced, into people's houses, without stopping to ring the
bell. Whether you will fancy this primitive mode of calling, whether you
will like the company to which it introduces you, or--whether you will
like the book at all, I cannot tell. Still, I cherish the hope that,
somewhere in the length and breadth of the land, it may fan into a
flame, in some tried heart, the fading embers of hope, well-nigh
extinguished by wintry fortune and summer friends.

  FANNY FERN.



CONTENTS.


                      CHAPTER I.
  THE EVE BEFORE THE BRIDAL--RUTH'S LITTLE ROOM--A RETROSPECTIVE
      REVERIE                                                     15

                      CHAPTER II.
  THE WEDDING--A GLIMPSE OF THE CHARACTER OF RUTH'S BROTHER
      HYACINTH                                                    23

                      CHAPTER III.
  THE NEW HOME--SOLILOQUY OF THE MOTHER-IN-LAW                    25

                      CHAPTER IV.
  THE FIRST INTERVIEW WITH THE MOTHER-IN-LAW                      28

                      CHAPTER V.
  RUTH'S REFLECTIONS ON THE INTERVIEW                             32

                      CHAPTER VI.
  A BIT OF FAMILY HISTORY                                         34

                      CHAPTER VII.
  THE FIRST-BORN                                                  39

                      CHAPTER VIII.
  THE NURSE                                                       41

                      CHAPTER IX.
  FURTHER DEVELOPMENTS OF THE MOTHER-IN-LAW'S CHARACTER           44

                      CHAPTER X.
  RUTH'S COUNTRY HOME                                             47

                      CHAPTER XI.
  RUTH AND DAISY                                                  50

                      CHAPTER XII.
  THE OLD FOLKS FOLLOW THE YOUNG COUPLE--AN ENTERTAINING
      DIALOGUE                                                    52

                      CHAPTER XIII.
  THE OLD LADY'S SURREPTITIOUS VISIT TO RUTH'S, AND HER
      ENCOUNTER WITH DINAH                                        55

                      CHAPTER XIV.
  THE OLD LADY SEARCHES THE HOUSE--WHAT SHE FINDS                 59

                      CHAPTER XV.
  THE OLD DOCTOR MEDDLES WITH HARRY'S FARMING ARRANGEMENTS        63

                      CHAPTER XVI.
  LITTLE DAISY'S REVERIE--HER STRANGE PLAYFELLOW                  65

                      CHAPTER XVII.
  "PAT" MUTINIES                                                  67

                      CHAPTER XVIII.
  A GROWL FROM THE OLD LADY                                       69

                      CHAPTER XIX.
  DAISY'S GLEE AT THE FIRST SLEIGH-RIDE                           72

                      CHAPTER XX.
  DAISY'S ILLNESS--THE OLD DOCTOR REFUSES TO COME                 74

                      CHAPTER XXI.
  DINAH'S WARNING--HARRY GOES AGAIN FOR THE DOCTOR                78

                      CHAPTER XXII.
  THE OLD DOCTOR ARRIVES TOO LATE                                 81

                      CHAPTER XXIII.
  "THE GLEN" DESERTED--THE OLD DOCTOR'S AND HIS WIFE'S VERSION
      OF THE CAUSE OF DAISY'S DEATH--MRS. JONES GIVES HER
      OPINION                                                     85

                      CHAPTER XXIV.
  ANNIVERSARY OF DAISY'S DEATH--RUTH'S REVERIE--LITTLE KATY'S
      REQUEST                                                     90

                      CHAPTER XXV.
  HOTEL LIFE--A NEW FRIEND                                        93


                      CHAPTER XXVI.
  THE FALL OF THE LEAF--HARRY'S ILLNESS--THE LONELY WATCHER       97


                      CHAPTER XXVII.
  ARRIVAL OF THE OLD DOCTOR AND HIS WIFE                         102

                      CHAPTER XXVIII.
  THE OLD DOCTOR'S ANNOUNCEMENT--HARRY'S DEATH                   105

                      CHAPTER XXIX.
  HYACINTH'S SENSIBILITIES SHOCKED                               110

                      CHAPTER XXX.
  MISS SKINLIN                                                   114

                      CHAPTER XXXI.
  HARRY'S FUNERAL                                                120

                      CHAPTER XXXII.
  A SERVANT'S DEVOTION                                           123

                      CHAPTER XXXIII.
  BICKERINGS OF THE FATHER AND FATHER-IN-LAW--DISPUTE ABOUT THE
      SUPPORT OF THE CHILDREN                                    125

                      CHAPTER XXXIV.
  RUTH RECEIVES A VISIT FROM HER FATHER--HE INSISTS ON HER
      GIVING UP HER CHILDREN TO THE OLD DOCTOR--RUTH'S REFUSAL   128

                      CHAPTER XXXV.
  THE OLD LADY, ENRAGED, PROPOSES A COMPROMISE--MR. ELLET IS
      FORCED TO ACCEDE                                           132

                      CHAPTER XXXVI.
  RUTH'S NEW LODGINGS--SPECULATIONS OF THE BOARDERS              139

                      CHAPTER XXXVII.
  MR. DEVELIN'S COUNTING-HOUSE--THE OLD DOCTOR'S LETTER          142

                      CHAPTER XXXVIII.
  LITTLE KATY MOURNS FOR HER PAPA                                146

                      CHAPTER XXXIX.
  MR. DEVELIN DEMANDS HARRY'S CLOTHES OF RUTH--THE WEDDING VEST  148

                      CHAPTER XL.
  RUTH'S APPLICATION FOR NEEDLE-WORK                             151

                      CHAPTER XLI.
  DISGUST OF RUTH'S FASHIONABLE FRIENDS                          155

                      CHAPTER XLII.
  CONVERSATION IN MRS. MILLET'S KITCHEN                          158

                      CHAPTER XLIII.
  THE BOUQUET                                                    161

                      CHAPTER XLIV.
  MRS. MILLET AND THE WOODEN MAN                                 164

                      CHAPTER XLV.
  LITTLE KATY VISITS HER GRANDPA AND MEETS WITH A CHARACTERISTIC
      RECEPTION--THE STRANGE GENTLEMAN                           166

                      CHAPTER XLVI.
  A PEEP FROM RUTH'S CHAMBER WINDOW--KATY'S RETURN               171

                      CHAPTER XLVII.
  BOARDING-HOUSE REVOLUTION--MRS. SKIDDY'S FLIGHT--MR. SKIDDY IN
      THE CAPACITY OF DRY NURSE                                  176

                      CHAPTER XLVIII.
  A NEW IDEA--THE MILLETS EXHIBIT THEIR FRIENDSHIP AND DELICACY  184

                      CHAPTER XLIX.
  RUTH RESOLVES TO BECOME A TEACHER                              189

                      CHAPTER L.
  RUTH APPLIES FOR A PRIMARY SCHOOL                              191

                      CHAPTER LI.
  THE EXAMINATION BY THE SCHOOL COMMITTEE                        192

                      CHAPTER LII.
  MRS. SKIDDY'S UNEXPECTED RETURN                                198

                      CHAPTER LIII.
  SKIDDY'S INTERCEPTED HEGIRA--HIS INCARCERATION--HIS FINAL
      ESCAPE                                                     203

                      CHAPTER LIV.
  THE LUNATIC ASYLUM                                             209

                      CHAPTER LV.
  RUTH'S NEW LANDLADY                                            215

                      CHAPTER LVI.
  THE STRANGE LODGER--RUTH RESOLVES TO RESORT TO HER PEN TO
      OBTAIN A SUBSISTENCE--SHE APPLIES TO HER BROTHER HYACINTH
      FOR ADVICE AND ASSISTANCE--HIS CHARACTERISTIC REPLY        219

                      CHAPTER LVII.
  THE OLD LADY RESORTS TO STRATAGEM, AND CARRIES HER POINT       224

                      CHAPTER LVIII.
  MR. ELLET EXHIBITS HIS USUAL FATHERLY INTEREST IN RUTH'S
      AFFAIRS                                                    228

                      CHAPTER LIX.
  RUTH APPLIES FOR EMPLOYMENT AT NEWSPAPER OFFICES               230

                      CHAPTER LX.
  THE BREAD OF LIFE                                              235

                      CHAPTER LXI.
  A CHAPTER WHICH MAY BE INSTRUCTIVE                             237

                      CHAPTER LXII.
  RUTH OBTAINS EMPLOYMENT--ILLNESS OF NETTIE--THE STRANGE LODGER
      PROVES USEFUL                                              240

                      CHAPTER LXIII.
  A PEEP INTO THE OLD DOCTOR'S COTTAGE                           245

                      CHAPTER LXIV.
  A GLIMPSE OF COMING SUCCESS                                    251

                      CHAPTER LXV.
  LITTLE NETTIE'S SORROWS--CHEERING LETTERS                      257

                      CHAPTER LXVI.

  KATY'S FIRST DAY AT SCHOOL--THE TOWN-PUMP CONTROVERSY--CRUELTY
      OF KATY'S GRANDPARENTS                                     262

                      CHAPTER LXVII.
  MR. JOHN WALTER                                                267

                      CHAPTER LXVIII.
  A LETTER FROM MR. WALTER, AND ITS EFFECT                       271

                      CHAPTER LXIX.
  RUTH ENGAGES TO WRITE SOLELY FOR THE HOUSEHOLD MESSENGER       278

                      CHAPTER LXX.
  WHAT MR. LESCOM SAID                                           282

                      CHAPTER LXXI.
  A SHARP CORRESPONDENCE                                         287

                      CHAPTER LXXII.
  OFFERS OF MARRIAGE AND OFFERS TO PUBLISH                       292

                      CHAPTER LXXIII.
  WHAT MR. TIBBETTS SAID ABOUT RUTH'S WRITING FOR THE HOUSEHOLD
      MESSENGER                                                  298

                      CHAPTER LXXIV.
  SOLILOQUY OF A SUB-EDITOR                                      302

                      CHAPTER LXXV.
  MR. WALTER'S VISIT                                             309

                      CHAPTER LXXVI.
  THE PHRENOLOGICAL EXAMINATION                                  318

                      CHAPTER LXXVII.
  PUBLICATION DAY COMES AT LAST                                  330

                      CHAPTER LXXVIII.
  HYACINTH CORNERED                                              334

                      CHAPTER LXXIX.
  MR. LEWIS ENLIGHTENED                                          338

                      CHAPTER LXXX.
  MORE LETTERS                                                   342

                      CHAPTER LXXXI.
  FRESHET IN THE DOCTOR'S CELLAR--"HAMS" IN DANGER OF A TOTAL
      WRECK--SUDDEN APPEARANCE OF RUTH--RESCUE OF LITTLE KATY    348

                      CHAPTER LXXXII.
  ARRIVAL OF KATY WITH HER MOTHER, MR. WALTER, AND MR. GREY, AT
      NEW LODGINGS; DINNER AND LETTERS--CONVERSATIONS BETWEEN
      THE CHILDREN                                               354

                      CHAPTER LXXXIII.
  THE LITTLE FAMILY ALONE AT THEIR NEW QUARTERS--NETTIE IN THE
      CONFESSION BOX--KATY'S MIRTH                               367

                      CHAPTER LXXXIV.
  KATY AND NETTIE COMPARE NOTES--RUTH DREAMS--MIDNIGHT
      CONFLAGRATION--RESCUE OF THE LITTLE FAMILY BY JOHNNY GALT  372

                      CHAPTER LXXXV.
  TEA-TABLE TALK BETWEEN "THE WOODEN MAN" AND HIS SPOUSE--LETTER
      FROM "OUR JOHN"                                            378

                      CHAPTER LXXXVI.
  THE OLD LADY EXTINGUISHED IN A CONVERSATION WITH HER
      NEIGHBORS, WHO ANNOUNCE THE ASTONISHING FACT THAT 'FLOY'
      IS RUTH                                                    383

                      CHAPTER LXXXVII.
  CONVERSATION BETWEEN RUTH'S FATHER AND MR. JONES REGARDING
      RUTH'S LITERARY DEBUT                                      388

                      CHAPTER LXXXVIII.
  INTERVIEW BETWEEN THE LITERARY BOOKSELLER AND MR. WALTER       391

                      CHAPTER LXXXIX.
  ARRIVAL OF MR. WALTER--BANK STOCK AND BANK CERTIFICATE         394

                      CHAPTER XC.
  THE LAST VISIT TO HARRY'S GRAVE                                398



CHAPTER I.


The old church clock rang solemnly out on the midnight air. Ruth
started. For hours she had sat there, leaning her cheek upon her hand,
and gazing through the open space between the rows of brick walls, upon
the sparkling waters of the bay, glancing and quivering 'neath the
moon-beams. The city's busy hum had long since died away; myriad
restless eyes had closed in peaceful slumber; Ruth could not sleep. This
was the last time she would sit at that little window. The morrow would
find her in a home of her own. On the morrow Ruth would be a bride.

Ruth was not sighing because she was about to leave her father's roof,
(for her childhood had been anything but happy,) but she was vainly
trying to look into a future, which God has mercifully veiled from
curious eyes. Had that craving heart of her's at length found its ark
of refuge? Would clouds or sunshine, joy or sorrow, tears or smiles,
predominate in her future? Who could tell? The silent stars returned her
no answer. Would a harsh word ever fall from lips which now breathed
only love? Would the step whose lightest footfall now made her heart
leap, ever sound in her ear like a death-knell? As time, with its
ceaseless changes, rolled on, would love flee affrighted from the bent
form, and silver locks, and faltering footstep? Was there no talisman to
keep him?

"Strange questions," were they, "for a young girl!" Ah, but Ruth could
remember when she was no taller than a rosebush, how cravingly her
little heart cried out for love! How a careless word, powerless to wound
one less sensitive, would send her, weeping, to that little room for
hours; and, young as she was, life's pains seemed already more to her
than life's pleasures. Would it _always_ be so? Would she find more
thorns than roses in her _future_ pathway?

Then, Ruth remembered how she used to wish she were beautiful,--not that
she might be admired, but that she might be loved. But Ruth was "very
plain,"--so her brother Hyacinth told her, and "awkward," too; she had
heard that ever since she could remember; and the recollection of it
dyed her cheek with blushes, whenever a stranger made his appearance in
the home circle.

So, Ruth was fonder of being alone by herself; and then, they called her
"odd," and "queer," and wondered if she would "ever make anything;" and
Ruth used to wonder, too; and sometimes she asked herself why a sweet
strain of music, or a fine passage in a poem, made her heart thrill, and
her whole frame quiver with emotion?

The world smiled on her brother Hyacinth. He was handsome, and gifted.
He could win fame, and what was better, love. Ruth wished he would love
her a little. She often used to steal into his room and "right" his
papers, when the stupid housemaid had displaced them; and often she
would prepare him a tempting little lunch, and carry it to his room, on
his return from his morning walk; but Hyacinth would only say, "Oh, it
is you, Ruth, is it? I thought it was Bridget;" and go on reading his
newspaper.

Ruth's mother was dead. Ruth did not remember a great deal about
her--only that she always looked uneasy about the time her father was
expected home; and when his step was heard in the hall, she would say in
a whisper, to Hyacinth and herself, "Hush! hush! your father is coming;"
and then Hyacinth would immediately stop whistling, or humming, and
Ruth would run up into her little room, for fear she should, in some
unexpected way, get into disgrace.

Ruth, also, remembered when her father came home and found company to
tea, how he frowned and complained of headache, although he always ate
as heartily as any of the company; and how after tea he would stretch
himself out upon the sofa and say, "I think I'll take a nap;" and then,
he would close his eyes, and if the company commenced talking, he would
start up and say to Ruth, who was sitting very still in the corner,
"_Ruth_, don't make such a noise;" and when Ruth's mother would whisper
gently in his ear, "Wouldn't it be better, dear, if you laid down up
stairs? it is quite comfortable and quiet there," her father would say,
aloud, "Oh yes, oh yes, you want to get rid of me, do you?" And then her
mother would say, turning to the company, "How very fond Mr. Ellet is of
a joke!" But Ruth remembered that her mother often blushed when she said
so, and that her laugh did not sound natural.

After her mother's death, Ruth was sent to boarding-school, where she
shared a room with four strange girls, who laid awake all night, telling
the most extraordinary stories, and ridiculing Ruth for being such an
old maid that she could not see "where the laugh came in." Equally
astonishing to the unsophisticated Ruth, was the demureness with which
they would bend over their books when the pale, meek-eyed widow,
employed as duenna, went the rounds after tea, to see if each inmate was
preparing the next day's lessons, and the coolness with which they would
jump up, on her departure, put on their bonnets and shawls, and slip out
at the side-street door to meet expectant lovers; and when the pale
widow went the rounds again at nine o'clock, she would find them
demurely seated, just where she left them, apparently busily conning
their lessons! Ruth wondered if _all_ girls were as mischievous, and
if fathers and mothers ever stopped to think what companions their
daughters would have for room-mates and bed-fellows, when they sent
them away from home. As to the Principal, Madame Moreau, she contented
herself with sweeping her flounces, once a day, through the recitation
rooms; so it was not a difficult matter, in so large an establishment,
to pass muster with the sub-teachers at recitations.

Composition day was the general bugbear. Ruth's madcap room-mates
were struck with the most unqualified amazement and admiration at the
facility with which "the old maid" executed this frightful task. They
soon learned to put her services in requisition; first, to help them out
of this slough of despond; next, to save them the necessity of wading in
at all, by writing their compositions for them.

In the all-absorbing love affairs which were constantly going on
between the young ladies of Madame Moreau's school and their respective
admirers, Ruth took no interest; and on the occasion of the unexpected
reception of a bouquet, from a smitten swain, accompanied by a copy of
amatory verses, Ruth crimsoned to her temples and burst into tears,
that any one could be found so heartless as to burlesque the "awkward"
Ruth. Simple child! She was unconscious that, in the freedom of that
atmosphere where a "prophet out of his own country is honored," her
lithe form had rounded into symmetry and grace, her slow step had become
light and elastic, her eye bright, her smile winning, and her voice soft
and melodious. Other bouquets, other notes, and glances of involuntary
admiration from passers-by, at length opened her eyes to the fact, that
she was "plain, awkward Ruth" no longer. Eureka! She had arrived at the
first epoch in a young girl's life,--she had found out her power! Her
manners became assured and self-possessed. _She_, Ruth, could inspire
love! Life became dear to her. There was something worth living
for--something to look forward to. She had a motive--an aim; she should
_some_ day make somebody's heart glad,--somebody's hearth-stone bright;
somebody should be proud of her; and oh, how she _could_ love that
somebody! History, astronomy, mathematics, the languages, were all
pastime now. Life wore a new aspect; the skies were bluer, the earth
greener, the flowers more fragrant;--her twin-soul existed somewhere.

When Ruth had been a year at school, her elegant brother Hyacinth came
to see her. Ruth dashed down her books, and bounded down three stairs at
a time, to meet him; for she loved him, poor child, just as well as if
he were worth loving. Hyacinth drew languidly back a dozen paces, and
holding up his hands, drawled out imploringly, "kiss me if you insist
on it, Ruth, but for heaven's sake, don't tumble my dickey." He also
remarked, that her shoes were too large for her feet, and that her
little French apron was "slightly askew;" and told her, whatever else
she omitted, to be sure to learn "to waltz." He was then introduced to
Madame Moreau, who remarked to Madame Chicchi, her Italian teacher, what
a very _distingué_ looking person he was; after which he yawned several
times, then touched his hat gracefully, praised "the very superior air
of the establishment," brushed an imperceptible atom of dust from his
beaver, kissed the tips of his fingers to his demonstrative sister, and
tiptoed Terpsichoreally over the academic threshold.

In addition to this, Ruth's father wrote occasionally when a term-bill
became due, or when his tradesmen's bills came in, on the first of
January; on which occasion an annual fit of poverty seized him, an
almshouse loomed up in perspective, he reduced the wages of his cook
two shillings, and advised Ruth either to get married or teach school.

Three years had passed under Madame Moreau's roof; Ruth's schoolmates
wondering the while why she took so much pains to bother her head with
those stupid books, when she was every day growing prettier, and all
the world knew that it was quite unnecessary for a pretty woman to be
clever. When Ruth once more crossed the paternal threshold, Hyacinth
levelled his eye-glass at her, and exclaimed, "'Pon honor, Ruth, you've
positively had a narrow escape from being handsome." Whether old Mr.
Ellet was satisfied with her physical and mental progress, Ruth had no
means of knowing.

                 *       *       *       *       *

And now, as we have said before, it is the night before Ruth's bridal;
and there she sits, though the old church bell has long since chimed the
midnight hour, gazing at the moon, as she cuts a shining path through
the waters; and trembling, while she questions the dim, uncertain
future. Tears, Ruth? Have phantom shapes of terror glided before those
gentle prophet eyes? Has death's dark wing even now fanned those girlish
temples?



CHAPTER II.


It was so odd in Ruth to have no one but the family at the wedding. It
was just one of her queer freaks! Where was the use of her white satin
dress and orange wreath? what the use of her looking handsomer than she
ever did before, when there was nobody there to see her?

"Nobody to see her?" Mark that manly form at her side; see his dark eye
glisten, and his chiselled lip quiver, as he bends an earnest gaze
on her who realizes all his boyhood dreams. Mistaken ones! it is not
admiration which that young beating heart craves; it is love.

"A very fine-looking, presentable fellow," said Hyacinth, as the
carriage rolled away with his new brother-in-law. "Really, love is a
great beautifier. Ruth looked quite handsome to-night. Lord bless me!
how immensely tiresome it must be to sit opposite the same face three
times a day, three hundred and sixty-five days in a year! I should
weary of Venus herself. I'm glad my handsome brother-in-law is in such
good circumstances. Duns _are_ a bore. I must keep on the right side of
him. Tom, was that tailor here again yesterday? Did you tell him I was
out of town? Right, Tom."



CHAPTER III.


"Well, I _hope_ Harry will be happy," said Ruth's mother-in-law, old
Mrs. Hall, as she untied her cap-strings, and seated herself in the
newly-furnished parlor, to await the coming of the bride and bridegroom.
"I can't say, though, that I see the need of his being married. I always
mended his socks. He has sixteen bran new shirts, eight linen and eight
cotton. I made them myself out of the Hamilton long-cloth. Hamilton
long-cloth is good cotton, too; strong, firm, and wears well. Eight
cotton and eight linen shirts! Can anybody tell what he got married for?
_I_ don't know. If he tired of his boarding-house, of course he could
always come home. As to Ruth, I don't know anything about her. Of course
she is perfect in _his_ eyes. I remember the time when he used to think
_me_ perfect. I suppose I shall be laid on the shelf now. Well, what
beauty he can find in that pale, golden hair, and those blue-gray eyes,
I don't know. I can't say I fancy the family either. Proud as Lucifer,
all of 'em. Nothing to be proud of, either. The father next to nothing
when he began life. The son, a conceited jackanapes, who divides his
time between writing rhymes and inventing new ties for his cravat.
Well, well, we shall see; but I doubt if this bride is anything but a
well-dressed doll. I've been peeping into her bureau drawers to-day.
What is the use of all those ruffles on her under-clothes, I'd like to
know? Who's going to wash and iron them? _Presents_ to her! Well, why
don't people make _sensible_ presents,--a dozen of dish towels, some
crash rollers, a ball of wick-yarn, or the like of that?"

"O-o-oh d-e-a-r! there's the carriage! Now, for one month to come, to
say the least, I shall be made perfectly sick with their billing and
cooing. I shouldn't be surprised if Harry didn't speak to me oftener
than once a day. Had he married a practical woman I wouldn't have
cared--somebody who looked as if God made her for something; but that
little yellow-haired simpleton--umph!"

Poor Ruth, in happy ignorance of the state of her new mother-in-law's
feelings, moved about her apartments in a sort of blissful dream. How
odd it seemed, this new freedom, this being one's own mistress. How
odd to see that shaving-brush and those razors lying on _her_ toilet
table! then that saucy looking smoking-cap, those slippers and that
dressing-gown, those fancy neck-ties, too, and vests and coats, in
unrebuked proximity to her muslins, laces, silks and de laines!

Ruth liked it.



CHAPTER IV.


"Good morning, Ruth; _Mrs. Hall_ I suppose I _should_ call you, only
that I can't get used to being shoved one side quite so suddenly," said
the old lady, with a faint attempt at a laugh.

"Oh, pray don't say Mrs. Hall to _me_" said Ruth, handing her a chair;
"call me any name that best pleases you; I shall be quite satisfied."

"I suppose you feel quite lonesome when Harry is away, attending to
business, and as if you hardly knew what to do with yourself; don't
you?"

"Oh, no," said Ruth, with a glad smile, "not at all, I was just thinking
whether I was not glad to have him gone a little while, so that I could
sit down and think how much I love him."

The old lady moved uneasily in her chair. "I suppose you understand all
about housekeeping, Ruth?"

Ruth blushed. "No," said she, "I have but just returned from
boarding-school. I asked Harry to wait till I had learned house-keeping
matters, but he was not willing."

The old lady untied her cap-strings, and patted the floor restlessly
with her foot.

"It is a great pity you were not brought up properly," said she. "I
learned all that a girl should learn, before I married. Harry has his
fortune yet to make, you know. Young people, now-a-days, seem to think
that money comes in showers, whenever it is wanted; that's a mistake; a
penny at a time--that's the way we got ours; that's the way Harry and
you will have to get yours. Harry has been brought up sensibly. He has
been taught economy; he is, like me, naturally of a very generous turn;
he will occasionally offer you pin-money. In those cases, it will be
best for you to pass it over to me to keep; of course you can always
have it again, by telling me how you wish to spend it. I would advise
you, too, to lay by all your handsome clothes. As to the silk stockings
you were married in, of course you will never be so extravagant as to
wear them again. I never had a pair of silk stockings in my life; they
have a very silly, frivolous look. Do you know how to iron, Ruth?"

"Yes," said Ruth; "I have sometimes clear-starched my own muslins and
laces."

"Glad to hear it; did you ever seat a pair of pantaloons?"

"No," said Ruth, repressing a laugh, and yet half inclined to cry; "you
forget that I am just home from boarding-school."

"Can you make bread? When I say _bread_ I _mean_ bread--old fashioned,
yeast riz bread; none of your sal-soda, salæratus, sal-volatile
poisonous mixtures, that must be eaten as quick as baked, lest it should
dry up; _yeast_ bread--do you know how to make it?"

"No," said Ruth, with a growing sense of her utter good-for-nothingness;
"people in the city always buy baker's bread; my father did."

"Your father! land's sake, child, you mustn't quote your father now
you're married; you haven't any father."

I never had, thought Ruth.

"To be sure; what does the Bible say? 'Forsaking father and mother,
cleave to your wife,' (or husband, which amounts to the same thing, I
take it;) and speaking of that, I hope you won't be always running home,
or running anywhere in fact. Wives should be keepers at home. Ruth,"
continued the old lady after a short pause, "do you know I should like
your looks better, if you didn't curl your hair?"

"I don't curl it," said Ruth, "it curls naturally."

"That's a pity," said the old lady, "you should avoid everything that
looks frivolous; you must try and pomatum it down. And Ruth, if you
should feel the need of exercise, don't gad in the streets. Remember
there is nothing like a broom and a dust-pan to make the blood
circulate."

"You keep a rag bag, I suppose," said the old lady; "many's the glass
dish I've peddled away my scissors-clippings for. 'Waste not, want not.'
I've got that framed somewhere. I'll hunt it up, and put it on your
wall. It won't do you any harm to read it now and then."

"I hope," continued the old lady, "that you don't read novels and such
trash. I have a very select little library, when you feel inclined
to read, consisting of a treatise on 'The Complaints of Women,' an
excellent sermon on Predestination, by our old minister, Dr. Diggs, and
Seven Reasons why John Rogers, the martyr, must have had _ten_ children
instead of _nine_ (as is _generally_ supposed); any time that you stand
in need of _rational_ reading come to me;" and the old lady, smoothing
a wrinkle in her black silk apron, took a dignified leave.



CHAPTER V.


Poor Ruth! her sky so soon overcast! As the door closed on the prim,
retreating figure of her mother-in-law, she burst into tears. But she
was too sensible a girl to weep long. She wiped her eyes, and began
to consider what was to be done. It would never do to complain to
Harry--dear Harry. He would have to take sides; oh no, that would never
do; she could never complain to him of his _own_ mother. But why did he
bring them together? knowing, as he must have known, how little likely
they were to assimilate. This thought she smothered quickly, but not
before it had given birth to a sigh, close upon the heels of which love
framed this apology: It was so long since Harry had lived under the
same roof with his mother he had probably forgotten her eccentricities;
and then she was so dotingly fond of him, that probably no points of
collision ever came up between the two.

In the course of an hour, what with cold bathing and philosophy,
Ruth's eyes and equanimity were placed beyond the suspicion even of a
newly-made husband, and when she held up her lips to him so temptingly,
on his return, he little dreamed of the self-conquest she had so
tearfully achieved for his sake.



CHAPTER VI.


Harry's father began life on a farm in Vermont. Between handling
ploughs, hoes, and harrows, he had managed to pick up sufficient
knowledge to establish himself as a country doctor; well contented to
ride six miles on horseback of a stormy night, to extract a tooth for
some distracted wretch, for twenty-five cents. Naturally loquacious, and
equally fond of administering jalap and gossip, he soon became a great
favorite with the "women folks," which every aspiring Esculapius, who
reads this, knows to be half the battle. They soon began to trust him,
not only in drawing teeth, but in cases involving the increase of the
village census. Several successes in this line, which he took no pains
to conceal, put him behind a gig of his own, and enabled his practice to
overtake his fame as far as the next village.

Like many other persons, who revolve all their life in a peck measure,
the doctor's views of the world in general, and its denizens in
particular, were somewhat circumscribed. Added to this, he was as
persevering as a fly in the dog-days, and as immovable as the old rusty
weather-cock on the village meeting-house, which for twenty years had
never been blown about by any whisking wind of doctrine. "When he opened
his mouth, no dog must bark;" and any dissent from his opinion, however
circumspectly worded, he considered a personal insult. As his wife
entertained the same liberal views, occasional conjugal collisions,
on this narrow track, were the consequence; the interest of which was
intensified by each reminding the other of their Calvinistic church
obligations to keep the peace. They had, however, one common ground of
undisputed territory--their "_Son Harry_," who was as infallible as the
Pope, and (until he got married) never did a foolish thing since he was
born. On this last point, their "Son Harry" did not exactly agree with
them, as he considered it decidedly the most delightful negotiation he
had ever made, and one which he could not even think of without a sudden
acceleration of pulse.

Time wore on, the young couple occupying their own suite of apartments,
while the old people kept house. The doctor, who had saved enough to lay
his saddle-bags with his medical books on the shelf, busied himself,
after he had been to market in the morning, in speculating on what Ruth
was about, or in peeping over the balustrade, to see who called when
the bell rang; or, in counting the wood-pile, to see how many sticks
the cook had taken to make the pot boil for dinner. The second girl (a
supernumerary of the bridal week) had long since been dismissed; and
the doctor and his wife spent their evenings with the cook, to save
the expense of burning an extra lamp. Consequently, Betty soon began
to consider herself one of the family, and surprised Ruth one day by
modestly requesting the loan of her bridal veil "to wear to a little
party;" not to speak of sundry naps to which she treated herself in
Ruth's absence, in her damask rocking chair, which was redolent, for
some time after, of a strong odor of dish-water.

Still, Ruth kept her wise little mouth shut; moving, amid these
discordant elements, as if she were deaf, dumb, and blind.

Oh, love! that thy silken reins could so curb the spirit and bridle the
tongue, that thy uplifted finger of warning could calm that bounding
pulse, still that throbbing heart, and send those rebellious tears,
unnoticed, back to their source.

Ah! could we lay bare the secret history of many a wife's heart, what
martyrs would be found, over whose uncomplaining lips the grave sets its
unbroken seal of silence.

But was Harry blind and deaf? Had the bridegroom of a few months grown
careless and unobservant? Was he, to whom every hair of that sunny head
was dear, blind to the inward struggles, marked only by fits of feverish
gaiety? Did he never see the sudden _ruse_ to hide the tell-tale blush,
or starting tear? Did it escape his notice, that Ruth would start,
like a guilty thing, if a sudden impulse of tenderness betrayed her
into laying her hand upon his forehead, or leaning her head upon his
shoulder, or throwing her arms about his neck, when the jealous mother
was by? Did not his soul bend the silent knee of homage to that youthful
self-control that could repress its own warm emotions, and stifle its
own sorrows, lest _he_ should know a heart-pang?

Yes; Ruth read it in the magnetic glance of the loving eye as it
lingeringly rested on her, and in the low, thrilling tone of the
whispered, "God bless you, my wife;" and many an hour, when alone in
his counting room, was Harry, forgetful of business, revolving plans
for a separate home for himself and Ruth.

This was rendered every day more necessary, by the increased
encroachments of the old people, who insisted that no visitors should
remain in the house after the old-fashioned hour of nine; at which
time the fire should be taken apart, the chairs set up, the lights
extinguished, and a solemn silence brood until the next morning's
cock-crowing. It was also suggested to the young couple, that the wear
and tear of the front entry carpet might be saved by their entering the
house by the back gate, instead of the front door.

Meals were very solemn occasions; the old people frowning, at such
times, on all attempts at conversation, save when the doctor narrated
the market prices he paid for each article of food upon the table. And
so time wore on. The old couple, like two scathed trees, dry, harsh, and
uninviting, presenting only rough surfaces to the clinging ivy, which
fain would clothe with brightest verdure their leafless branches.



CHAPTER VII.


Hark! to that tiny wail! Ruth knows that most blessed of all hours. Ruth
is a _mother_! Joy to thee, Ruth! Another outlet for thy womanly heart;
a mirror, in which thy smiles and tears shall be reflected back; a fair
page, on which thou, God-commissioned, mayst write what thou wilt; a
heart that will throb back to thine, love for love.

But Ruth thinks not of all this now, as she lies pale and motionless
upon the pillow, while Harry's grateful tears bedew his first-born's
face. She cannot even welcome the little stranger. Harry thought
her dear to him before; but now, as she lies there, so like death's
counterpart, a whole life of devotion would seem too little to prove
his appreciation of all her sacrifices.

The advent of the little stranger was viewed through very different
spectacles by different members of the family. The doctor regarded it
as a little automaton, for pleasant Æsculapian experiments in his
idle hours; the old lady viewed it as another barrier between herself
and Harry, and another tie to cement his already too strong attachment
for Ruth; and Betty groaned, when she thought of the puny interloper,
in connection with washing and ironing days; and had already made up
her mind that the first time its nurse used her new saucepan to make
gruel, she would strike for higher wages.

Poor, little, unconscious "Daisy," with thy velvet cheek nestled up to
as velvet a bosom, sleep on; thou art too near heaven to know a taint
of earth.



CHAPTER VIII.


Ruth's nurse, Mrs. Jiff, was fat, elephantine, and unctuous. Nursing
agreed with her. She had "tasted" too many bowls of wine-whey on the
stairs, tipped up too many bottles of porter in the closet, slid down
too many slippery oysters before handing them to "her lady," not to
do credit to her pantry devotions. Mrs. Jiff wore an uncommonly stiff
gingham gown, which sounded, every time she moved, like the rustle of a
footfall among the withered leaves of autumn. Her shoes were new, thick,
and creaky, and she had a wheezy, dilapidated-bellowsy way of breathing,
consequent upon the consumption of the above-mentioned port and oysters,
which was intensely crucifying to a sick ear.

Mrs. Jiff always "forgot to bring" her own comb and hair brush. She
had a way, too, of opening drawers and closets "by mistake," thereby
throwing her helpless victim into a state of profuse perspiration. Then
she would go to sleep between the andirons, with the new baby on the
edge of her knee, in alarming proximity to the coals; would take a
pinch of snuff over the bowl of gruel in the corner, and knock down
the shovel, poker, and tongs, every time she went near the fire;
whispering--sh--sh--sh--at the top of her lungs, as she glanced in the
direction of the bed, as if its demented occupant were the guilty cause
of the accident.

Mrs. Jiff had not nursed five-and-twenty years for nothing. She
particularly affected taking care of young mothers, with their first
babies; knowing very well that her chain shortened, with every after
addition to maternal experience: she considered herself, therefore,
quite lucky in being called upon to superintend little Daisy's advent.

It _did_ occasionally cross Ruth's mind as she lay, almost fainting with
exhaustion, on the pillow, while the ravenous little Daisy cried, "give,
give," whether it took Mrs. Jiff two hours to make _one_ cup of tea, and
brown _one_ slice of toast; Mrs. Jiff solacing herself, meanwhile, over
an omelette in the kitchen, with Betty, and pouring into her ready ears
whole histories of "gen'lemen as wasn't gen'lemen, whose ladies she
nursed," and how "nobody but herself knew how late they _did_ come home
when their wives were sick, though, to be sure, she'd scorn to tell of
it!" Sometimes, also, Ruth innocently wondered if it was necessary for
the nurse to occupy the same bed with "her lady;" particularly when
her circumference was as Behemoth-ish, and her nose as musical as Mrs.
Jiff's; and whether there would be any impropriety in her asking her
to take the babe and keep it quiet _part_ of the night, that she might
occasionally get a nap. Sometimes, too, she considered the feasibility
of requesting Mrs. Jiff not to select the time when she (Ruth) was
sipping her chocolate, to comb out her "false front," and polish up her
artificial teeth; and sometimes she marvelled why, when Mrs. Jiff paid
such endless visits to the kitchen, she was always as fixed as the North
Star, whenever dear Harry came in to her chamber to have a conjugal chat
with her.



CHAPTER IX.


"How do you do this morning, Ruth?" said the old lady, lowering herself
gradually into a softly-cushioned arm chair. "How your sickness _has_
altered you! You look like a ghost? I shouldn't wonder if you lost all
your hair; it is no uncommon thing in sickness; or your teeth either.
How's the baby? She don't favor our side of the house at all. She is
quite a plain child, in fact. Has she any symptoms, yet, of a sore
mouth? I hope not, because she will communicate it to your breast, and
then you'll have a time of it. I knew a poor, feeble thing once, who
died of it. Of course, you intend, when Mrs. Jiff leaves, to take care
of the baby yourself; a nursery girl would be very expensive."

"I believe Harry has already engaged one," said Ruth.

"I don't think he has," said the old lady, sitting up very straight,
"because it was only this morning that the doctor and I figured up the
expense it would be to you, and we unanimously came to the conclusion to
tell Harry that you'd better take care of the child yourself. I always
took care of my babies. You oughtn't to have mentioned a nursery girl,
at all, to Harry."

"He proposed it himself," replied Ruth; "he said I was too feeble to
have the care of the child."

"Pooh! pshaw! stuff! no such thing. You are well enough, or will be,
before long. Now, there's a girl's board to begin with. Servant girls
eat like boa-constrictors. Then, there's the soap and oil she'll
waste;--oh, the thing isn't to be thought of; it is perfectly ruinous.
If you hadn't made a fool of Harry, he never could have dreamed of it.
You ought to have sense enough to check him, when he would go into such
extravagances for you, but some people _haven't_ any sense. Where would
all the sugar, and starch, and soap, go to, I'd like to know, if we were
to have a second girl in the house? How long would the wood-pile, or
pitch-kindlings, or our new copper-boiler last? And who is to keep the
back gate bolted, with such a chit flying in and out?"

"Will you please hand me that camphor bottle?" said Ruth, laying her
hand upon her throbbing forehead.

                 *       *       *       *       *

"How's my little snow-drop to-day?" said Harry, entering Ruth's room as
his mother swept out; "what ails your eyes, Ruth?" said her husband,
removing the little hands which hid them.

"A sudden pain," said Ruth, laughing gaily; "it has gone now; the
camphor was too strong."

Good Ruth! brave Ruth! Was Harry deceived? Something ails _his_ eyes,
now; but Ruth has too much tact to notice it.

Oh Love! thou skilful teacher! learned beyond all the wisdom of the
schools.



CHAPTER X


"You will be happy here, dear Ruth," said Harry; "you will be your own
mistress."

Ruth danced about, from room to room, with the careless glee of a happy
child, quite forgetful that she was a wife and a mother; quite unable to
repress the flow of spirits consequent upon her new-found freedom.

Ruth's new house was about five miles from the city. The approach to it
was through a lovely winding lane, a little off the main road, skirted
on either side by a thick grove of linden and elms, where the wild
grape-vine leaped, clinging from branch to branch, festooning its ample
clusters in prodigal profusion of fruitage, and forming a dense shade,
impervious to the most garish noon-day heat; while beneath, the wild
brier-rose unfolded its perfumed leaves in the hedges, till the bees and
humming-birds went reeling away, with their honeyed treasures.

You can scarce see the house, for the drooping elms, half a century old,
whose long branches, at every wind-gust, swept across the velvet lawn.
The house is very old, but Ruth says, "All the better for that." Little
patches of moss tuft the sloping roof, and swallows and martens twitter
round the old chimney. It has nice old-fashioned beams, running across
the ceiling, which threaten to bump Harry's curly head. The doorways,
too, are low, with honeysuckle, red and white, wreathed around the
porches; and back of the house there is a high hill (which Ruth says
must be terraced off for a garden), surmounted by a gray rock, crowned
by a tumble-down old summer-house, where you have as fine a prospect of
hill and valley, rock and river, as ever a sunset flooded with rainbow
tints.

It was blessed to see the love-light in Ruth's gentle eyes; to see the
rose chase the lily from her cheek; to see the old spring come back to
her step; to follow her from room to room, while she draped the pretty
white curtains, and beautified, unconsciously, everything her fingers
touched.

She could give an order without having it countermanded; she could kiss
little Daisy, without being called "silly;" she could pull out her
comb, and let her curls flow about her face, without being considered
"frivolous;" and, better than all, she could fly into her husband's
arms, when he came home, and kiss him, without feeling that she had
broken any penal statute. Yes; she was free as the golden orioles, whose
hanging nests swayed to and fro amid the glossy green leaves beneath her
window.

But not as thoughtless.

Ruth had a strong, earnest nature; she could not look upon this wealth
of sea, sky, leaf, bud, and blossom; she could not listen to the little
birds, nor inhale the perfumed breath of morning, without a filling eye
and brimming heart, to the bounteous Giver. Should she revel in all this
loveliness,--should her heart be filled to its fullest capacity for
earthly happiness, and no grateful incense go up from its altar to
Heaven?

And the babe? Its wondering eyes had already begun to seek its mother's;
its little lip to quiver at a harsh or discordant sound. An unpracticed
hand must sweep that harp of a thousand strings; trembling fingers must
inscribe, indelibly, on that blank page, characters to be read by the
light of eternity: the maternal eye must never sleep at its post, lest
the enemy rifle the casket of its gems. And so, by her child's cradle,
Ruth first learned to pray. The weight her slender shoulders could not
bear, she rolled at the foot of the cross; and, with the baptism of holy
tears, mother and child were consecrated.



CHAPTER XI.


Time flew on; seasons came and went; and still peace brooded, like a
dove, under the roof of Harry and Ruth. Each bright summer morning,
Ruth and the little Daisy,(who already partook of her mother's love for
nature,) rambled, hand in hand, through the woods and fields, with a
wholesome disregard of those city bug-bears, sun, dew, bogs, fences,
briers, and cattle. Wherever a flower opened its blue eye in the rock
cleft; wherever the little stream ran, babbling and sparkling, through
the emerald meadow; where the golden moss piled up its velvet cushion
in the cool woods; where the pretty clematis threw the graceful arms
of youth 'round the gnarled trunk of decay; where the bearded grain,
swaying to and fro, tempted to its death the reaper; where the red and
white clover dotted the meadow grass; or where, in the damp marsh, the
whip-poor-will moaned, and the crimson lobelia nodded its regal crown;
or where the valley smiled in its beauty 'neath the lofty hills,
nestling 'mid its foliage the snow-white cottages; or where the cattle
dozed under the broad, green branches, or bent to the glassy lake to
drink; or where, on the breezy hill-tops, the voices of childhood came
up, sweet and clear, as the far-off hymning of angels,--there, Ruth and
her soul's child loved to linger.

It was beautiful, yet fearful, to mark the kindling eye of the child;
to see the delicate flush come and go on her marble cheek, and to feel
the silent pressure of her little hand, when this alone could tell the
rapture she had no words to express.

Ah, Ruth! gaze not so dotingly on those earnest eyes. Know'st thou not,

    The rose that sweetest doth awake,
    Will soonest go to rest?



CHAPTER XII.


"Well," said the doctor, taking his spectacles from his nose, and
folding them up carefully in their leathern case; "I hope you'll be
easy, Mis. Hall, now that we've toted out here, bag and baggage, to
please you, when I supposed I was settled for the rest of my life."

"_Fathers_ can't be expected to have as much natural affection, or to be
as self-sacrificing as _mothers_," said the old lady. "Of course, it was
some trouble to move out here; but, for Harry's sake, I was willing to
do it. What does Ruth know about house-keeping, I'd like to know? A
pretty muss she'll make of it, if _I'm_ not around to oversee things."

"It strikes me," retorted the doctor, "that you won't get any thanks for
it--from _one_ side of the house, at least. Ruth never _says_ anything
when you vex her, but there's a look in her eye which--well, Mis. Hall,
it tells the whole story."

"I've seen it," said the old lady, while her very cap-strings fluttered
with indignation, "and it has provoked me a thousand times more than if
she had thrown a brick-bat at my head. That girl is no fool, doctor. She
knows very well what she is about: but diamond cut diamond, _I_ say.
Doctor, doctor, there are the hens in the garden. I want that garden
kept nice. I suppose Ruth thinks that nobody can have flowers but
herself. Wait till my china-asters and sweet peas come up. I'm going
over to-day to take a peep round her house; I wonder what it looks like?
Stuck full of gimcracks, of all sorts, I'll warrant. Well, I shan't
furnish my best parlor till I see what she has got. I've laid by a
little money, and--"

"Better give it to the missionaries, Mis. Hall," growled the doctor; "I
tell you Ruth don't care a pin what you have in your parlor."

"Don't you believe it," said the old lady.

"Well, anyhow," muttered the doctor, "you can't get the upper hand of
_her_ in that line; i. e., if she has a mind that you shall not. Harry
is doing a very good business; and you know very well, it is no use
to try to blind your eyes to it, that if she wanted Queen Victoria's
sceptre, he'd manage to get it for her."

"That's more than I can say of _you_," exclaimed the old lady, fanning
herself violently; "for all that I used to mend your old saddle-bags,
and once made, with my own hands, a pair of leather small-clothes to
ride horseback in. Forty years, doctor, I've spent in your service. I
don't look much as I did when you married me. I was said then to have
'woman's seven beauties,' including the 'dimple in the chin,' which I
see still remains;" and the old lady pointed to a slight indentation in
her wrinkled face. "I might have had him that was Squire Smith, or Pete
Packer, or Jim Jessup. There wasn't one of 'em who had not rather do the
chores on _our_ farm, than on any other in the village."

"Pooh, pooh," said the doctor, "don't be an old fool; that was because
your father kept good cider."

Mrs. Hall's cap-strings were seen flying the next minute through the
sitting-room door; and the doctor was heard to mutter, as she banged the
door behind her, "_that_ tells the whole story!"



CHAPTER XIII.


"A summer house, hey!" said the old lady, as with stealthy, cat-like
steps, she crossed a small piece of woods, between her house and
Ruth's; "a summer house! that's the way the money goes, is it? What
have we here? a book;" (picking up a volume which lay half hidden
in the moss at her feet;) "poetry, I declare! the most frivolous of
all reading; all pencil marked;--and here's something in Ruth's own
hand-writing--_that's_ poetry, too: worse and worse."

"Well, we'll see how the _kitchen_ of this poetess looks. I will go into
the house the back way, and take them by surprise; that's the way to
find people out. None of your company faces for me." And the old lady
peered curiously through her spectacles, on either side, as she passed
along towards the kitchen door, and exclaimed, as her eye fell on the
shining row, "_six_ milkpans!--wonder if they _buy_ their milk, or keep
a cow. If they buy it, it must cost them something; if they keep a cow,
I've no question the milk is half wasted."

The old lady passed her skinny forefinger across one of the pans,
examining her finger very minutely after the operation; and then applied
the tip of her nose to the interior of it. There was no fault to be
found with that milkpan, if it was Ruth's; so, scrutinizing two or three
dish towels, which were hanging on a line to dry, she stepped cautiously
up to the kitchen door. A tidy, respectable-looking black woman met her
on the threshold; her woolly locks bound with a gay-striped bandanna,
and her ebony face shining with irresistible good humor.

"Is Ruth in?" said the old lady.

"Who, Missis?" said Dinah.

"Ruth."

"Missis Hall lives _here_," answered Dinah, with a puzzled look.

"Exactly," said the old lady; "she is my son's wife."

"Oh! I beg your pardon, Missis," said Dinah, curtseying respectfully.
"I never heard her name called Ruth afore: massa calls her 'bird,' and
'sunbeam.'"

The old lady frowned.

"Is she at home?" she repeated, with stately dignity.

"No," said Dinah, "Missis is gone rambling off in the woods with little
Daisy. She's powerful fond of flowers, and things. She climbs fences
like a squir'l! it makes this chil' laf' to see the ol' farmers stare
at her."

"You must have a great deal to do, here;" said the old lady, frowning;
"Ruth isn't much of a hand at house-work."

"Plenty to do, Missis, and willin' hands to do it. Dinah don't care how
hard she works, if she don't work to the tune of a lash; and Missis Hall
goes singing about the house so that it makes time fly."

"She don't ever _help_ you any, does she?" said the persevering old
lady.

"Lor' bless you! yes, Missis. She comes right in and makes a pie for
Massa Harry, or cooks a steak jess' as easy as she pulls off a flower;
and when Dinah's cooking anything new, she asks more questions how it's
done than this chil' kin answer."

"You have a great deal of company, I suppose; that must make you extra
trouble, I should think; people riding out from the city to supper, when
you are all through and cleared away: don't it tire you?"

"No; Missis Hall takes it easy. She laf's merry, and says to the
company, 'you get _tea_ enough in the city, so I shan't give you any; we
had tea long ago; but here's some fresh milk, and some raspberries and
cake; and if you can't eat _that_, you ought to go hungry.'"

"She irons Harry's shirts, I suppose?" said the old lady.

"She? s'pose dis chil' let her? when she's so careful, too, of ol'
Dinah's bones?"

"Well," said the old lady, foiled at all points, "I'll walk over the
house a bit, I guess; I won't trouble you to wait on me, Dinah;" and
the old lady started on her exploring tour.



CHAPTER XIV.


"This is the parlor, hey?" soliloquized old Mrs. Hall, as she seated
herself on the sofa. "A few dollars laid out here, I guess."

Not so fast, my dear madam. Examine closely. Those long, white curtains,
looped up so prettily from the open windows, are plain, cheap muslin;
but no artist could have disposed their folds more gracefully. The
chairs and sofas, also, Ruth covered with her own nimble fingers: the
room has the fragrance of a green-house, to be sure; but if you examine
the flowers, which are scattered so profusedly round, you will find they
are _wild_ flowers, which Ruth, basket in hand, climbs many a stone
fence every morning to gather; and not a country boy in the village
knows their hiding-places as well as she. See how skilfully they are
arranged! with what an eye to the blending of colors! How dainty is
that little tulip-shaped vase, with those half opened wild-rose buds!
see that little gilt saucer, containing only a few tiny green leaves;
yet, mark their exquisite shape and finish. And there are some wood
anemonies; some white, with a faint blush of pink at the petals; and
others blue as little Daisy's eyes; and see that velvet moss, with its
gold-star blossoms!

"Must take a deal of time to gather and fix 'em," muttered the old lady.

Yes, my dear madam; but, better pay the shoe-maker's than the doctor's
bill; better seek health in hunting live flowers, than ruin it by
manufacturing those German worsted abortions.

You should see your son Harry, as he ushers a visitor in through the low
door-way, and stands back to mark the surprised delight with which he
gazes upon Ruth's little fairy room. You should see how Harry's eyes
glisten, as they pass from one flower vase to another, saying, "Who but
Ruth would ever have spied out _that_ tiny little blossom?"

And little Daisy has caught the flower mania, too; and every day she
must have _her_ vase in the collection; now withdrawing a rose and
replacing it with a violet, and then stepping a pace or two back and
looking at it with her little head on one side, as knowingly as an
artist looks at the finishing touches to a favorite picture.

But, my dear old lady, we beg pardon; we are keeping you too long from
that china closet, which you are so anxious to inspect; hoping to find
a flaw, either in crockery or cake. Not a bit! You may draw those prying
fingers across the shelves till you are tired, and not a particle of
dust will adhere to them. Neither cups, saucers, tumblers, nor plates,
stick to your hands; the sugar-bowl is covered; the cake, in that tin
pail, is fresh and light; the preserves, in those glass jars, tied down
with brandy papers, are clear as amber; and the silver might serve for
a looking-glass, in which you could read your own vexation.

Never mind! A great many people keep the _first_ floor spick and span;
mayhap you'll find something wrong _up_ stairs. Walk in; 'tis the "best
chamber." A gilt arrow is fastened to the wall, and pretty white lace
curtains are thrown (tent fashion) over it; there is a snow-white quilt
and a pair of plump, tempting pillows; the furniture and carpet are of
a light cream color; and there is a vase of honeysuckle on the little
light-stand. Nothing could be more faultless, you see.

Now, step into the nursery; the floor is strewed with play-things;
thank God, there's a child in the house! There is a broken doll; a torn
picture-book; a little wreath of oak leaves; a dandelion chain; some
willow tassels; a few acorns; a little red shoe, full of parti-colored
pebbles; the wing of a little blue-bird; two little, speckled eggs, on
a tuft of moss; and a little orphan chicken, nestling in a basket of
cotton wool, in the corner. Then, there is a work-basket of Ruth's with
a little dress of Daisy's, partly finished, and a dicky of Harry's, with
the needle still sticking in it, which the little gypsey wife intends
finishing when she comes back from her wood ramble.

The old lady begins to think she must give it up; when, luckily, her eye
falls on a crouching "Venus," in the corner. Saints and angels! why, she
has never been to the dress-makers! There's a text, now! What a pity
there is no appreciative audience to see the glow of indignation with
which those half averted eyes regard the undraped goddess!

"Oh, Harry! is this the end of all my teachings? Well, it is all
_Ruth's_ doings--_all_ Ruth's doings. Harry is to be pitied, not
blamed;" and the old lady takes up, at length, her _triumphant_ march
for home.



CHAPTER XV.


"Hallo! what are you doing there?" exclaimed the doctor, looking over
the fence at a laborer, at work in one of Harry's fields.

"Ploughing this bit o' ground, sir. Mr. Hall told me to be sure and get
it finished before he came home from the city this afthernoon."

"Nonsense!" replied the doctor, "I was born sometime before my son
Harry; put up your plough, and lay that bit of stone wall yonder; that
needs to be done first."

"I'm thinking Masther Hall won't be afther liking it if I do, sir," said
Pat; "I had my orders for the day's work before masther went to the
city, sir, this morning."

"Pooh, pooh," said the old man, unchaining the horse from the plough,
and turning him loose in the pasture; "young folks _think_ old folks are
fools; old folks _know_ young folks to be so."

Pat eyed the doctor, scratched his head, and began slowly to lay the
stone wall.

"What's _that_ fellow doing over yonder?" said the doctor to Pat.

"Planting corn, yer honor."

"Corn? ha! ha! city farming! Good. Corn? That's just the spot for
potatoes. H-a-l-l-o there! Don't plant any more corn in that spot, John;
it never'll come to anything--never."

"But, Mr. Hall?" said John, hesitatingly, leaning on his hoe-handle.

"Harry? Oh, never mind him. He has seen more ledgers than corn. Corn?
Ha! that's good. You can go cart that load of gravel up the hill. What
a fortunate thing for Harry, that I am here to oversee things. This
amateur farming is pretty play enough; but the way it sinks the money is
more curious than profitable. I wonder, now, if that tree is grafted
right. I'll take off the ligatures and see. That hedge won't grow, I'm
certain; the down-east cedars thrive the best for hedges. I may as well
pull these up, and tell Harry to get some of the other kind;" and the
doctor pulled them up by the roots, and threw them over the fence.



CHAPTER XVI.


"Time for papa to come," said little Daisy, seating herself on the low
door-step; "the sun has crept way round to the big apple-tree;" and
Daisy shook back her hair, and settling her little elbows on her knees,
sat with her chin in her palms, dreamily watching the shifting clouds. A
butterfly alights on a blade of grass near her: Daisy springs up, her
long hair floating like a veil about her shoulders, and her tiny feet
scarce bending the clover blossoms, and tiptoes carefully along in
pursuit.

He's gone, Daisy, but never mind; like many other coveted treasures, he
would lose his brilliancy if caught. Daisy has found something else;
she closes her hand over it, and returns to her old watch-post on the
door-step. She seats herself again, and loosing her tiny hold, out
creeps a great, bushy, yellow caterpillar. Daisy places him carefully on
the back of her little, blue-veined hand, and he commences his travels
up the polished arm, to the little round shoulder. When he reaches the
lace sleeve, Daisy's laugh rings out like a robin's carol; then she puts
him back, to retravel the same smooth road again.

"Oh, Daisy! Daisy!" said Ruth, stepping up behind her, "what an _ugly_
playfellow; put him down, do darling; I cannot bear to see him on your
arm."

"Why--_God_ made him," said little Daisy, with sweet, upturned eyes of
wonder.

"True, darling," said Ruth, in a hushed whisper, kissing the child's
brow, with a strange feeling of awe. "Keep him, Daisy, dear, if you
like."



CHAPTER XVII.


"Please, sir, I'll be afther leaving the night," said John, scraping out
his hind foot, as Harry drew rein on Romeo, and halted under a large
apple-tree.

"Leave?" exclaimed Harry, patting Romeo's neck; "you seemed a contented
fellow enough when I left for the city this morning. Don't your wages
suit? What's in the wind now? out with it, man."

John scratched his head, kicked away a pebble with the toe of his
brogan, looked up, and looked down, and finally said, (lowering his
voice to a confidential whisper, as he glanced in the direction of the
doctor's cottage;) "It's the ould gintleman, sir, savin' yer presence.
It is not _two_ masthers Pat would be afther having;" and Pat narrated
the affair of the plough.

Harry bit his lip, and struck Romeo a little quick cut with his
riding-whip. Harry was one of the most dutiful of sons, and never
treated his father with disrespect; he had chosen a separate home, that
he might be master of it; and this old annoyance in a new shape was very
provoking. "Pat," said he at length, "there is only one master here;
when _I_ give you an order, you are to stick to it, till you get a
different one from me. D'ye understand?"

"By the Holy Mother, I'll do it," said Pat, delightedly resuming his hoe
with fresh vigor.



CHAPTER XVIII.


"That's the fourth gig that has been tied to Harry's fence, since
dinner," said the old lady. "I hope Harry's business will continue to
prosper. Company, company, company. And there's Ruth, as I live, romping
round that meadow, without a bit of a bonnet. Now she's climbing a
cherry-tree. A _married woman_ climbing a cherry-tree! Doctor, do you
hear that?"

"Shoot 'em down," said the doctor, abstractedly, without lifting his
eyes from the Almanac.

"Shoot _who_ down?" said the old lady, shaking him by the shoulder. "I
said that romp of a Ruth was up in a cherry-tree."

"Oh, I thought you were talking of those thievish robins stealing the
cherries," said the doctor; "as to Ruth I've given her up long ago;
_she_ never will settle down to anything. Yesterday, as I was taking a
walk over Harry's farm to see if things were not all going to the dogs,
I saw her down in the meadow yonder, with her shoes and stockings off,
wading through a little brook to get at some flowers, which grew on the
other side. Half an hour after she came loitering up the road, with her
bonnet hanging on the back of her neck, and her apron crammed full of
grasses, and herbs, and branches, and all sorts of green trash. Just
then the minister came along. I was glad of it. Good enough for her,
thinks I to myself; she'll blush for once. Well, what do you think she
did, Mis. Hall?"

"_What?_" said the old lady, in a sepulchral whisper, dropping her
knitting-needles and drawing her rocking-chair within kissing distance
of the doctor.

"Why, she burst out a-laughing, perched herself on top of a stone wall,
took a great big leaf to fan herself, and then invited the minister to
sit down 'long side of her, _jest_ as easy as if her hair wasn't all
flying round her face like a wild Arab's."

"I give up now," said the old lady, dropping her hands in an attitude of
the extremest dejection; "there's no hope of her after that; and what is
worse, it is no use talking to Harry; she's got him so bewitched that he
imagines everything she does is right. How she did it, passes me. I'm
sure she has no beauty. I've no patience to see Harry twisting those
yellow curls of hers round his fingers, and calling them 'threads of
gold;' threads of fiddlesticks! She'd look a deal more proper like, if
she'd wear her hair smooth behind her ears, as I do."

"But your hair is false," said the literal doctor.

"Doctor," said the old lady, snapping her eyes, "I never can argue with
you but you are sure to get off the track, sooner or later; there is no
need of your telling all, you know. Suppose I was always alluding to
your wig, how would you like it?"



CHAPTER XIX.


Winter had set in. The snow in soft, white piles, barred up the cottage
door, and hung shelving over the barn-roof and fences; while every tiny
twig and branch bent heavily, with its soft fleecy burthen. "Papa" was
to go to the city that morning in a sleigh. Daisy had already heard
the bells tinkling at the barn-door, as Pat necklaced Romeo, who stood
pawing and snorting, as if it were fine fun to plough five miles of
unbroken road into the city. Daisy had turned Papa's over-coat sleeves
inside out, and warmed them thoroughly at the fire; she had tied on his
moccasins, and had thrown his fur collar round his neck; and now she
stood holding his warm cap and furred gloves, while he and mamma were
saying their usual good-bye.

"Take care of that cough, Daisy," said Harry; "don't come to the door,
darling, to breathe in this keen air. Kiss your hand to papa, from the
window;" and Harry scratched the frost away with his finger nails from
the window-pane, that Daisy might see him start.

"Oh, how pretty!" exclaimed the child, as Pat tossed the bright,
scarlet-lined buffalo robe into the sleigh, and tucked the corners
snugly over his master's feet, and Romeo, inspirited by the merry
tinkle of the bells and the keen frosty air, stood on his hind legs and
playfully held up his fore feet; "Oh, how pretty!" Harry turned his head
as he gathered the reins in his hand; his cap was crowded down so snugly
over his forehead, and his fur collar turned up so closely about his
chin, that only a glimpse of his dark eye and fine Roman nose was
visible. One wave of the hand, and the light, feathery snow flew, on
either side, from under Romeo's flying heels--and Papa was out of
sight.



CHAPTER XX.


"Why in the world, Ruth, are you wandering about there, like a ghost, in
the moonlight?" said Harry, rubbing open his sleepy eyes.

"Hist, Harry! listen to Daisy's breathing; it sounds as if it came
through a brazen tube. She must be ill."

"Little wife, don't torment yourself. She has only a bad cold, which, of
course, appears worse at night. Her breathing is irregular, because her
head is too low. Give her this pillow: there; now she's comfortable.
What a frightened little puss you are! Your hand trembles as if you had
the palsy; now go to sleep; it must be near two o'clock; you'll be sick
yourself to-morrow:" and Harry, wearied out with an annoying day of
business, was soon fast asleep.

Only the eye of God watches like a mother's. Ruth could not sleep. She
was soon again at Daisy's side, with her fingers upon her wrist, and her
eye fixed upon the child's face; marking every contortion of feature,
noting every change of posture.

"What is it, darling?" asked her mother, as Daisy grasped her throat
with both hands.

"It hurts," said the child.

Ruth glanced at Harry. He was so weary, it were a pity to wake him
needlessly. Perhaps her fears were groundless, and she was over-anxious;
and then, perhaps, Daisy really needed _immediate_ medical aid.

Ruth's fears preponderated.

"Dear Harry," said she, laying her hand softly on his forehead, "do call
up Pat, and send for the doctor."

"Certainly, if you think best," said Harry, springing up; "but it is a
cold night for the old man to come out; and really, Ruth, Daisy has only
a stuffed cold."

"_Please_ let Pat go," said Ruth, pleadingly; "I shall feel happier,
Harry."

It was a venturous undertaking to rouse Pat suddenly, as his bump of
destructiveness generally woke first; and a fight seemed always with him
a necessary preliminary to a better understanding of things.

"Hold! hold!" said Harry, seizing his brawny, belligerent fists; "not
quite so fast man; open your eyes, and see who I am."

"Did I sthrike yer honor?" said Pat; "I hope yer'll forgive me; but you
see, I was jist born with my fists doubled up."

"All right," said his master, laughing; "but get on your clothes as soon
as possible; harness Romeo, and bring the old gentleman up here. Mrs.
Hall feels very uneasy about Daisy, and wants him to prescribe for her."

"I'll bring him back in a flash," said Pat; "but what'll I do if he
won't come?"

                 *       *       *       *       *

"Who's there? what do you want? Speak quick, if you've anything to say,
for I'm catching the rheumatiz' in my head;" said the doctor, as he
poked his bald poll out the cottage window, into the frosty night air.
"Who are you? and what on earth do you want?"

"It's me," said Pat.

"Who's me?" said the Doctor.

"Botheration," growled Pat; "don't the ould owl know the voice of
me?--It's Pat Donahue; the childer is sick, and Misthress Ruth wants you
to come wid me, and give her something to betther her."

"Pooh! pooh! is that all you woke me up for? The child was well enough
this noon, except a slight cold. Ruth is full of notions. Go home and
take that bottle, and tell her to give Daisy half a teaspoonful once in
two hours; and I'll come over in the morning. She's always a-fussing
with that child, and thinking, if she sneezes, that she is going to die.
It's a wonder if I don't die myself, routed out of a warm bed, without
my wig, this time of night. There--there--go along, and mind you shut
the gate after you. Ten to one he'll leave it open," soliloquized the
doctor, slamming down the window with a jerk. "I hate an Irishman as I
do a rattlesnake. An Irishman is an incomplete biped--a human tower of
Babel; he was finished up to a certain point, and there he was left.

"Mis. Hall! Mis. Hall! if you've no objection, I should like you to stop
snoring. I should like to sleep, if the village of Glenville will let
me. Dear, dear, what a thing it is to be a doctor!"



CHAPTER XXI.


"If de las' day _has_ come, dis chil' ought to know it," said Dinah,
springing to her feet and peering out, as she scratched away the frost
from the window; "has de debbel broke loose? or only de horse? Any way,
'tis about de same ting;" and she glanced in the direction of the barn.
"Massy sakes! dere's Pat stealing off in de night wid Romeo; no he aint
neider--he's putting him up in de barn. Where you s'pose he's been dis
time o' night? _Courting_ p'r'aps! Well, dis chil' dunno. And dere's
a bright light shining on de snow, from Massa Harry's window. Dinah
can't sleep till she knows what's to pay, dat's a fac';" and tying a
handkerchief over her woolly head, and throwing on a shawl, she tramped
down stairs. "Massy sakes!" said she, stopping on the landing, as
Daisy's shrill cough fell on her ear; "Massy! jes' hear dat!" and
opening the chamber-door, Dinah stood staring at the child, with
distended eye-balls, then looking from Harry to Ruth, as if she thought
them both under the influence of night-mare. "For de _Lord's_ sake,
Massa Harry, send for de doctor," said Dinah, clasping her hands.

"We have," said Harry, trying to coax Daisy to swallow another spoonful
of the medicine, "and he said he'd be here in the morning."

"_She won't_," said Dinah, in a low, hoarse whisper to Harry, as she
pointed to Daisy. "Don't you _know_, Massa, it's de croup! de croup; de
_wu'st_ way, Massa! _Oh_ Lor'!"

Harry was harnessing Romeo in an instant, and on his way to the doctor's
cottage. In vain he knocked, and rang, and thumped. The old man,
comfortably tucked up between the blankets, was far away in the land of
dreams.

"What is to be done?" said Harry; "I must tie Romeo to the post and
climb in at the kitchen-window."

"Father! father!" said he, shaking the old gentleman by the shoulders,
"Daisy is worse, and I want you to go right home with me."

"Don't believe it," said the old man; "you are only frightened; it's an
awful cold night to go out."

"I know it," said Harry; "but I brought two buffaloes; hurry, father.
Daisy is _very_ sick."

The old doctor groaned; took his wig from the bed post, and put it on
his head; tied a woollen muffler, with distressing deliberation, over
his unbelieving ears, and, returning four times to tell "Mis. Hall to be
sure and bolt the front door after him," climbed into the sleigh. "I
shall be glad if I don't get a sick spell myself," said the doctor,
"coming out this freezing night. Ruth has frightened you to death, I
s'pose. Ten to one when I get up there, nothing will ail the child.
Come, come, don't drive so fast; my bones are old, and I don't believe
in these gay horses of yours, who never make any use of their fore-legs,
except to hold them up in the air. Whoa, I say--Romeo, whoa!"

                 *       *       *       *       *

"Get out de way, Pat!" said Dinah; "your Paddy fingers are all thumbs.
Here, put some more water in dat kettle dere; now stir dat mustard
paste; now run quick wid dat goose-grease up to Missus, and tell her to
rub de chil's troat wid it; 't aint no use, though. Oh, Lor'! dis nigger
knew she wouldn't live, ever since she said dat 'bout de caterpillar. De
Lord wants de chil', dat's a fac'; she nebber played enough to suit
Dinah."



CHAPTER XXII.


Stamping the snow from his feet, the doctor slowly untied his woollen
muffler, took off his hat, settled his wig, hung his overcoat on a
nail in the entry, drew from his pocket a huge red handkerchief, and
announcing his arrival by a blast, loud enough to arouse the seven
sleepers, followed Harry up stairs to the sick chamber.

The strong fire-light fell upon Ruth's white figure, as she sat, pale
and motionless, in the corner, with Daisy on her lap, whose laborious
breathing could be distinctly heard in the next room. A dark circle had
settled round the child's mouth and eyes, and its little hands hung
helplessly at its side. Dinah was kneeling at the hearth, stirring a
fresh mustard paste, with an air which seemed to say, "it is no use, but
I must keep on doing something."

The doctor advanced, drew his spectacles from their leathern case,
perched them astride the end of his nose, and gazed steadily at Daisy
without speaking.

"_Help her_," said Ruth, imploringly.

"Nothing to be done," said the doctor, in an unmoved tone, staring at
Daisy.

"Why didn't you come afore, den?" said Dinah, springing to her feet and
confronting the doctor. "Don't you see you've murdered _two_ of 'em?"
and she pointed to Ruth, whose head had dropped upon her breast.

"I tell you, Harry, it's no use to call another doctor," said his
father, shaking off his grasp; "the child is struck with death; let her
drop off quietly; what's the sense of tormenting her?"

Harry shuddered, and drew his father again to Daisy's side.

"Help her," said Ruth; "don't talk; try _something_."

"Well, I can put on these leeches, if you insist," said the old man,
uncorking a bottle; "but I tell you, it is only tormenting the dying."

Dinah cut open the child's night dress, and bared the fair, round chest,
to which the leeches clung eagerly; Daisy, meanwhile, remaining
motionless, and seemingly quite insensible to the disagreeable pricking
sensation they caused.

                 *       *       *       *       *

"The other doctor is below," whispered Pat, thrusting his head in at the
door.

"Bring him up," said the old gentleman.

An expression of pain passed over the young man's features as his
eye fell upon the child. As yet, he had not become so professionally
hardened, as to be able to look unmoved upon the group before him, whose
imploring eyes asked vainly of him the help no mortal hand could give.

A few questions he asked to avoid being questioned himself; a few
remedies he tried, to appease the mother's heart, whose mournful eyes
were on him like a spell.

"Water," said Daisy, faintly, as she languidly opened her eyes.

"God be thanked," said Ruth, overcome by the sound of that blessed
little voice, which she never expected to hear again, "God be thanked."

The young doctor returned no answering smile, as Ruth and Harry grasped
his hand; but he walked to the little window and looked out upon the
gray dawn, with a heavy sigh, as the first faint streak of light ushered
in the new-born day.

Still the fire-light flashed and flickered--now upon the old doctor, who
had fallen asleep in his arm chair; now upon Ruth's bowed head; now upon
Daisy, who lay motionless in her mother's lap, (the deadly paleness of
her countenance rendered still more fearful by the dark blood-stains on
her night dress;) then upon Harry, who, kneeling at Daisy's side, and
stifling his own strong heart, gazed alternately at mother and child;
then upon Dinah, who, with folded arms, stood like some grim sentinel,
in the shadow of the farther corner; the little mantle clock,
meanwhile, ticking, ticking on--numbering the passing moments with
startling distinctness.

Oh, in such an hour, when wave after wave of anguish dashes over us,
where are the infidel's boasted doubts, as the tortured heart cries out,
instinctively, "save, Lord; or we perish!"

Slowly the night waned, and the stars paled. Up the gray east the golden
sun slowly glided. One beam penetrated the little window, hovering like
a halo over Daisy's sunny head. A quick, convulsive start, and with one
wild cry (as the little throat filled to suffocation), the fair white
arms were tossed aloft, then dropped powerless upon the bed of Death!



CHAPTER XXIII.


"There can be no sorrow greater than this sorrow," sobbed Ruth, as the
heavy sod fell on Daisy's little breast.

In after years, when bitterer cups had been drained to the dregs, Ruth
remembered these, her murmuring words. Ah! mourning mother! He who seeth
the end from the beginning, even in this blow "remembered mercy."

                 *       *       *       *       *

"Your daughter-in-law is quite crushed by her affliction, I hear," said
a neighbor to old Mrs. Hall.

"Yes, Mrs. Jones, I think she is," said the old lady complacently. "It
has taken right hold of her."

"It died of croup, I believe," said Mrs. Jones.

"Well, they _say_ so," said the old lady. "It is _my_ opinion the
child's death was owing to the thriftlessness of the mother. I don't
mourn for it, because I believe the poor thing is better off."

"You surprise me," said Mrs. Jones. "I always had the impression that
young Mrs. Hall was a pattern mother."

"People differ," said the old lady, raising her eyebrows, compressing
her lips, and looking mysteriously at the ceiling, as if she _could_
tell a tale, were she not too charitable.

"Well, the amount of it is," said the garrulous old doctor, emerging
from the corner; "the amount of it is, that the mother always thought
she knew better than anybody else how to manage that child. Now, you
know, Mis. Jones, I'm a physician, and _ought_ to know something about
the laws that govern the human body, but you'll be astonished to hear
that she frequently acted directly contrary to my advice, and this is
the result; that tells the whole story. However, as Mis. Hall says,
the child is better off; and as to Ruth, why the Lord generally sends
afflictions where they are _needed_;" and the doctor returned to his
corner.

"It looks very lonely at the Glen since they moved away," remarked Mrs.
Jones. "I suppose they don't think of coming back."

"How?" replied the doctor, re-appearing from his corner.

"I suppose your son and his wife have no idea of returning to the Glen,"
said Mrs. Jones.

"No--no. Ruth is one of the uneasy kind; it's coming and going--coming
and going with her. She fancied everything in doors and out reminded her
of Daisy, and kept wandering round, trying to be rid of herself. Now
that proves she didn't make a sanctifying use of her trouble. It's no
use trying to dodge what the Lord sends. We've just got to stand and
take it; if we don't, he'll be sending something else. Them's my
sentiments, and I consider 'em scripteral. I shouldn't be surprised if
_Harry_ was taken away from her;--a poor, miserable thing she'd be to
take care of herself, if he was. She couldn't earn the salt to her
porridge. Thriftless, Mis. Jones, thriftless--come of a bad stock--can't
expect good fruit off a wild apple tree, at least, not without grace is
grafted on; that tells the whole story."

"Well; my heart aches for her," said the kind Mrs. Jones. "Mrs. Hall is
very delicately organized,--one of those persons capable of compressing
the happiness or misery of a lifetime into a few moments."

"Stuff," said the doctor, "stuff; don't believe it. _I'm_ an example to
the contrary. I've been through everything, and just look at me;" and
the doctor advanced a pace or two to give Mrs. Jones a better view of
his full-blown peony face, and aldermanic proportions; "don't believe
it, Mis. Jones; stuff! Fashion to be sentimental; nerves a modern
invention. Ridiculous!"

"But," said the persistent Mrs. Jones, "don't you think, doctor,
that--"

"Don't think anything _about_ it," said the doctor. "Don't want to
_hear_ anything about it. Have no patience with any woman who'd let a
husband sell a farm at such a sacrifice as Harry's was sold, merely
because there was a remote chance she would become insane if she staid
there. Now, I've enough to do--plenty to do, but, still, I was willing
to superintend that farm a little, as my doing so was such a help to
Harry. Well, well; they'll both go to the dogs, that's the amount of it.
A rolling stone gathers no moss. Harry was good for something before he
married Ruth; had a mind of his own. Ruth aint the wife for him."

"He did not appear to think so," replied the obstinate Mrs. Jones.
"Everybody in the village says, 'what a happy couple they are.'"

"_O-o-h_--my!" hissed the old lady, "did you _ever_, doctor? Of course,
Mrs. Jones, you don't suppose Harry would be such a fool as to tell
people how miserable he was; but _mothers_, Mrs. Jones, _mothers_ are
keen-sighted; can't throw dust in a _mother's_ eyes."

"_Nor in mine_," retorted the independent Mrs. Jones, with a mock
courtesy to the old lady, as she walked out the door, muttering as she
went down the road, "Sally Jones will tell her the truth if nobody else
will."

"Mis. Hall," said the doctor, drawing himself up so straight as to
snap off his waist-band button, "this is the last time that woman ever
crosses _my_ threshold. I shall tell Deacon Smith that I consider her a
proper subject for church discipline; she's what the bible calls 'a busy
body in other men's matters;' a character which both you and I despise
and abominate, Mis. Hall."



CHAPTER XXIV.


The _first-born_! Oh, other tiny feet may trip lightly at the
hearth-stone; other rosy faces may greet us round the board; with tender
love we soothe their childish pains and share their childish sports; but
"Benjamin is not," is written in the secret chamber of many a bereaved
mother's heart, where never more the echo of a childish voice may ring
out such liquid music as death hath hushed.

Spring had garlanded the earth with flowers, and Autumn had withered
them with his frosty breath. Many a Summer's sun, and many a Winter's
snow, had rested on Daisy's grave, since the date of our last chapter.

At the window of a large hotel in one of those seaport towns, the resort
alike of the invalid and pleasure-seeker, sat Ruth; the fresh sea-breeze
lifting her hair from temples thinner and paler than of yore, but
stamped with a holier beauty. From the window might be seen the
blue waters of the bay leaping to the bright sunlight; while many a
vessel outward and inward bound, spread its sails, like some joyous
white-winged sea bird. But Ruth was not thinking of the sapphire sky,
though it were passing fair; nor of the blue sea, decked with its snowy
sails; for in her lap lay a little half-worn shoe, with the impress of
a tiny foot, upon which her tears were falling fast.

_A little half-worn shoe!_ And yet no magician could conjure up such
blissful visions; no artist could trace such vivid pictures; no harp of
sweetest sounds could so fill the ear with music.

Eight years since the little Daisy withered! And yet, to the mother's
eye, she still blossomed fair as Paradise. The soft, golden hair still
waved over the blue-veined temples; the sweet, earnest eyes still beamed
with their loving light; the little fragile hand was still outstretched
for maternal guidance, and in the wood and by the stream they still
lingered. Still, the little hymn was chanted at dawn, the little prayer
lisped at dew-fall; still, that gentle breathing mingled with the happy
mother's star-lit dreams.

A little, bright-eyed creature, crept to Ruth's side, and lifting a
long, wavy, golden ringlet from a box on the table near her, laid it
beside her own brown curls.

"Daisy's in heaven," said little Katy, musingly. "Why do you cry, mamma?
Don't you like to have God keep her for you?"

A tear was the only answer.

"_I_ should like to die, and have you love _my_ curls as you do Daisy's,
mother."

Ruth started, and looked at the child; the rosy flush had faded away
from little Katy's cheek, and a tear stole slowly from beneath her long
lashes.

Taking her upon her lap, she severed one tress of her brown hair, and
laid it beside little Daisy's golden ringlet.

A bright, glad smile lit up little Katy's face, and she was just
throwing her arms about her mother's neck, to express her thanks, when,
stopping suddenly, she drew from her dimpled foot one little shoe, and
laid it in her mother's palm.

'Mid smiles and tears Ruth complied with the mute request; and the
little sister shoes lay with the twin ringlets, lovingly side by side.

Blessed childhood! the pupil and yet the teacher; half infant, half
sage, and whole angel! what a desert were earth without thee!



CHAPTER XXV.


Hotel life is about the same in every latitude. At Beach Cliff there
was the usual number of vapid, fashionable mothers; dressy, brainless
daughters; half-fledged wine-bibbing sons; impudent, whisker-dyed roués;
bachelors, anxious to give their bashfulness an airing; bronchial
clergymen, in search of health and a text; waning virgins, languishing
by candle-light; gouty uncles, dyspeptic aunts, whist-playing old
ladies, flirting nursery maids and neglected children.

Then there were "hops" in the hall, and sails upon the lake; there
were nine-pin alleys, and a gymnasium; there were bathing parties, and
horse-back parties; there were billiard rooms, and smoking rooms;
reading rooms, flirtation rooms,--room for everything but--thought.

There could be little or nothing in such an artificial atmosphere
congenial with a nature like Ruth's. In all this motley crowd there
was but one person who interested her, a Mrs. Leon, upon whose queenly
figure all eyes were bent as she passed; and who received the homage
paid her, with an indifference which (whether real or assumed) became
her passing well. Her husband was a tall, prim, proper-looking person,
who dyed his hair and whiskers every Saturday, was extremely punctilious
in all points of etiquette, very particular in his stated inquiries as
to his wife's and his horse's health, very fastidious in regard to the
brand of his wine, and the quality of his venison; maintaining, under
all circumstances, the same rigidity of feature, the same immobility
of the cold, stony, gray eye, the same studied, stereotyped,
conventionalism of manner.

Ruth, although shunning society, found herself drawn to Mrs. Leon by an
unaccountable magnetism. Little Katy, too, with that unerring instinct
with which childhood selects from the crowd an unselfish and loving
nature, had already made rapid advances toward acquaintance. What road
to a mother's heart so direct, as through the heart of her children?
With Katy for a "medium," the two ladies soon found themselves in
frequent conversation. Ruth had always shrunk from female friendship.
It might be that her boarding-school experience had something to
do in effecting this wholesale disgust of the commodity. Be that as
it may, she had never found any woman who had not misunderstood and
misinterpreted her. For the common female employments and recreations,
she had an unqualified disgust. Satin patchwork, the manufacture
of German worsted animals, bead-netting, crotchet-stitching, long
discussions with milliners, dress-makers, and modistes, long forenoons
spent in shopping, or leaving bits of paste-board, party-giving,
party-going, prinking and coquetting, all these were her aversion.
Equally with herself, Mrs. Leon seemed to despise these air bubbles.
Ruth was sure that, under that faultless, marble exterior, a glowing,
living, loving heart lay slumbering; waiting only the enchanter's touch
to wake it into life. The more she looked into those dark eyes, the
deeper seemed their depths. Ruth longed, she scarce knew why, to make
her life happy. Oh, if she _had_ a soul!

Ruth thought of _Mr._ Leon and shuddered.

Mrs. Leon was often subject to severe and prostrating attacks of nervous
headache. On these occasions, Ruth's magnetic touch seemed to woo coy
slumber, like a spell; and the fair sufferer would lie peacefully for
hours, while Ruth's fingers strayed over her temples, or her musical
voice, like David's harp, exorcised the demon Pain.

"You are better now," said Ruth, as Mrs. Leon slowly opened her eyes,
and looked about her; "you have had such a nice sleep, I think you will
be able to join us at the tea table to-night. I will brush these long
dishevelled locks, and robe these dainty limbs; though, to my eye, you
look lovelier just as you are. You are very beautiful, Mary. I heard a
couple of young ladies discussing you, in the drawing-room, the other
evening, envying your beauty and your jewels, and the magnificence of
your wardrobe."

"Did they envy me my _husband_?" asked Mary, in a slow, measured tone.

"That would have been useless," said Ruth, averting her eyes; "but they
said he denied you nothing in the way of dress, equipage, or ornament."

"Yes," said Mary; "I have all those pretty toys to satisfy my
heart-cravings; they, equally with myself, are necessary appendages to
Mr. Leon's establishment. Oh, Ruth!" and the tears streamed through her
jewelled fingers--"love me--pity me; you who are so blessed. I too
_could_ love; that is the drop of poison in my cup. When _your_
daughters stand at the altar, Ruth, never compel them to say words to
which the heart yields no response. The chain is none the less galling,
because its links are golden. God bless you, Ruth; 'tis long since I
have shed such tears. You have touched the rock; forget that the waters
have gushed forth."



CHAPTER XXVI.


October had come! coy and chill in the morning, warm and winning at
noon, veiling her coat of many colors in a fleecy mist at evening, yet
lovely still in all her changeful moods. The gay butterflies of fashion
had already spread their shrivelled wings for the warmer atmosphere of
the city. Harry and Ruth still lingered;--there was beauty for them in
the hill-side's rainbow dyes, in the crimson barberry clusters, drooping
from the wayside hedges; in the wild grape-vine that threw off its
frost-bitten leaves, to tempt the rustic's hand with its purple
clusters; in the piles of apples, that lay gathered in parti-colored
heaps beneath the orchard trees; in the yellow ears of Indian corn, that
lay scattered on the seedy floor of the breezy barn; in the festoons of
dried apples, and mammoth squashes, and pumpkins, that lay ripening
round the thrifty farmers' doors; and in the circling leaves, that
came eddying down in brilliant showers on the Indian summer's soft but
treacherous breath.

                 *       *       *       *       *

"You are ill, Harry," said Ruth, laying her hand upon his forehead.

"Slightly so," replied Harry languidly; "a pain in my head, and--"

A strong ague chill prevented Harry from finishing the sentence.

Ruth, who had never witnessed an attack of this kind, grew pale as his
teeth chattered, and his powerful frame shook violently from head to
foot.

"Have you suffered much in this way?" asked the physician who was
summoned.

"I had the fever and ague very badly, some years since, at the west,"
said Harry. "It is an unpleasant visitor, doctor; you must rid me of it
as soon as you can, for the sake of my little wife, who, though she can
endure pain herself like a martyr, is an arrant little coward whenever
it attacks me. Don't look so sober, Ruth, I shall be better to-morrow.
I can not afford time to be sick long, for I have a world of business
on hand. I had an important appointment this very day, which it is a
thousand pities to postpone; but never mind, I shall certainly be better
to-morrow."

But Harry was not "better to-morrow;" nor the next day; nor the next;
the doctor pronouncing his case to be one of decided typhus fever.

Very reluctantly the active man postponed his half-formed plans, and
business speculations, and allowed himself to be placed on the sick
list. With a sigh of impatience, he saw his hat, and coat, and boots,
put out of sight; and watched the different phials, as they came in
from the apothecary; and counted the stroke of the clock, as it told
the tedious hours; and marvelled at the patience with which (he now
recollected) Ruth bore a long bed-ridden eight-weeks' martyrdom,
without a groan or complaint. But soon, other thoughts and images mixed
confusedly in his brain, like the shifting colors of a kaleidoscope.
He was floating--drifting--sinking--soaring, by turns;--the hot blood
coursed through his veins like molten lava; his eye glared deliriously,
and the hand, never raised but in blessing, fell, with fevered strength,
upon the unresisting form of the loving wife.

                 *       *       *       *       *

"You must have a nurse," said the doctor to Ruth; "it is dangerous for
you to watch with your husband alone. He might injure you seriously, in
one of these paroxysms."

"But Harry has an unconquerable dislike to a hired nurse," said Ruth;
"his reason may return at any moment, and the sight of one will trouble
him. I am not afraid," replied Ruth, between a tear and a smile.

"But you will wear yourself out; you must remember that you owe a duty
to your children."

"My _husband_ has the _first_ claim," said Ruth, resuming her place by
the bed-side; and during the long hours of day and night, regardless of
the lapse of time--regardless of hunger, thirst or weariness, she glided
noiselessly about the room, arranged the pillows, mixed the healing
draught, or watched with a silent prayer at the sufferer's bed-side;
while Harry lay tossing from side to side, his white teeth glittering
through his unshorn beard, raving constantly of her prolonged absence,
and imploring her in heart-rending tones to come to his side, and "bring
Daisy from the Glen."

Many a friendly voice whispered at the door, "How is he?" The Irish
waiters crossed themselves and stept softly through the hall, as they
went on their hasty errands; and many a consultation was held among
warm-hearted gentlemen friends, (who had made Harry's acquaintance at
the hotel, during the pleasant summer,) to decide which should first
prove their friendship by watching with him.

Ruth declined all these offers to fill her place. "I will never leave
him," she said; "his reason may return, and his eye seek vainly for me.
No--no; I thank you all. Watch _with_ me, if you will, but do not ask
me to leave him."

                 *       *       *       *       *

In the still midnight, when the lids of the kind but weary watchers
drooped heavily with slumber, rang mournfully in Ruth's ear the
sad-plaint of Gethsemane's Lord, "Could ye not watch with me one hour?"
and pressing her lips to the hot and fevered hand before her, she
murmured, "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee."



CHAPTER XXVII.


"Have you got the carpet-bag, doctor? and the little brown bundle?
and the russet-trunk? and the umberil? and the demi-john, and the red
band-box, with my best cap in it? one--two--three--four; yes--that's all
right. Now, mind those thievish porters. Goodness, how they charge here
for carriage hire! I never knew, before, how much money it took to
journey. Oh dear! I wonder if Harry _is_ worse? There now, doctor,
you've put your foot right straight through that band-box. Now, where,
for the land's sake, are my spectacles? 'Tisn't possible you've left
them behind? I put them in the case, as you stood there in the chayna
closet, drinking your brandy and water, and asked you to put them in
your side-pocket, because my bag was full of orange-peels, scissors,
camphor, peppermint-drops, and seed-cakes. I wouldn't have left 'em for
any money. Such a sight of trouble as it was to get them focussed right
to my eyes. How _could_ you, doctor, be so blundering? I declare it is
enough to provoke a saint."

"If that's the case, there's no immediate call for _you_ to get vexed,"
said the doctor, tartly.

                 *       *       *       *       *

"Is that the house?" asked the old lady, her curiosity getting the
better of her indignation; "what a big hotel! I wonder if Harry _is_
worse? Mercy me, I'm all of a quiver. I wonder if they will take us
right into the drawing-room? I wonder if there's many ladies in it--my
bonnet is awfully jammed: beside, I'm so powdered with dust, that I look
as if I had had an ash barrel sifted over me. Doctor! doctor! don't go
on so far ahead. It looks awk'ard, as if I had no protector."

                 *       *       *       *       *

"How's Harry?" said the doctor, to a white-jacketted waiter, who stood
gossipping on the piazza steps with a comrade.

"Funny old chap!" said the waiter, without noticing the doctor's query;
"I say, Bill, look how his hair is cut!"

"'Taint hair," said Tom, "it is a wig."

"Bless my eyes! so it is; and a red one, too! Bad symptoms; red wigs
are the cheapest; no extra fees to be got out of _that_ customer, for
blacking boots and bringing hot beafsteaks. Besides, just look at his
baggage; you can always judge of a traveler, Bill, by his trunks; it
never fails. Now, _I_ like to see a trunk thickly studded with brass
nails, and covered with a linen overall; then I know, if it is a lady's,
that there's diamond rings inside, and plenty of cash; if 'tis a
gentleman's, that he knows how to order sherry-cobblers in the forenoon,
and a bottle of old wine or two with his dinner; and how to fee the
poor fellow who brings it, too, who lives on a small salary, with large
expectations."

"How's Harry?" thundered the doctor again, (after waiting what he
considered a reasonable time for an answer,) "or if _you_ are too lazy
to tell, you whiskered jackanapes, go call your employer."

The word "employer" recalled the rambling waiter to his senses, and
great was his consternation on finding that "the old chap with the red
wig" was the father of young Mr. Hall, who was beloved by everything in
the establishment, down to old Neptune the house-dog.

"I told you so," said the doctor, turning to his wife; "Harry's no
better--consultation this morning--very little hope of him;--so much
for _my_ not being here to prescribe for him. Ruth shouldered a great
responsibility when she brought him away out of reach of _my_ practice.
You go into that room, there, Mis. Hall, No. 20, with your traps and
things, and take off your bonnet and keep quiet, while I go up and see
him."



CHAPTER XXVIII.


"Humph!" said the doctor, "humph!" as Ruth drew aside the curtain, and
the light fell full upon Harry's face. "Humph! it is all up with _him_;
he's in the last stage of the complaint; won't live two days;" and
stepping to the table, the doctor uncorked the different phials, applied
them to the end of his nose, examined the labels, and then returned
to the bed-side, where Ruth stood bending over Harry, so pallid, so
tearless, that one involuntarily prayed that death, when he aimed his
dart, might strike down both together.

"Humph!" said the doctor again! "when did he have his reason last?"

"A few moments, day before yesterday," said Ruth, without removing her
eyes from Harry.

"Well; he has been _murdered_,--yes murdered, just as much as if you
had seen the knife put to his throat. That tells the whole story, and
I don't care who knows it. I have been looking at those phials,--wrong
course of treatment altogether for typhoid fever; fatal mistake. His
death will lie heavy at _somebody's_ door," and he glanced at Ruth.

"Hush! he is coming to himself," said Ruth, whose eyes had never once
moved from her husband.

"Then I must tell him that his hours are numbered," said the doctor,
thrusting his hands in his pockets, and pompously walking round the bed.

"No, no," whispered Ruth, grasping his arm with both hands; "you will
kill him. The doctor said it might destroy the last chance for his life.
_Don't_ tell him. You know he is not afraid _to die_; but oh, spare him
the parting with me! it will be so hard; he loves me, father."

"Pshaw!" said the doctor, shaking her off; "he ought to settle up his
affairs while he can. I don't know how he wants things fixed. Harry!
Harry!" said he, touching his shoulder, "I've come to see you; do you
know me?"

"Father!" said Harry, languidly, "yes, I'm--I'm sick. I shall be better
soon; don't worry about me. Where's my wife? where's Ruth?"

"You'll _never_ be better, Harry," said the doctor, bluntly, stepping
between him and Ruth; "you may not live the day out. If you have got
anything to say, you'd better say it now, before your mind wanders. You
are a dead man, Harry; and you know that when I say _that_, I know what
I'm talking about."

The sick man gazed at the speaker, as if he were in a dream; then
slowly, and with a great effort, raising his head, he looked about the
room for Ruth. She was kneeling at the bedside, with her face buried in
her hands. Harry reached out his emaciated hand, and placed it upon her
bowed head.

"Ruth? wife?"

Her arm was about his neck in an instant--her lips to his; but her eyes
were tearless, and her whole frame shook convulsively.

"Oh, how _can_ I leave you? who will care for you? Oh God, in mercy
spare me to her;" and Harry fell back on his pillow.

The shock was too sudden; reason again wandered; he heard the shrill
whistle of the cars, recalling him to the city's whirl of business; he
had stocks to negotiate; he had notes to pay; he had dividends due. Then
the scene changed;--he could not be carried on a hearse through the
street, surrounded by a gaping crowd. Ruth must go alone with him, by
night;--why _must_ he die at all? He would take anything. Where was the
doctor? Why did they waste time in talking? Why not do something more
for him? How cruel of Ruth to let him lie there and die?

"We will try this new remedy," said one of the consulting physicians to
Harry's father; "it is the only thing that remains to be done, and I
confess I have no faith in its efficacy in this case."

"He rallies again!" said Ruth, clasping her hands.

"The children!" said Harry; "bring me the children."

"Presently," said the new physician; "try and swallow this first;" and
he raised his head tenderly.

They were brought him. Little Nettie came first,--her dimpled arms and
rosy face in strange contrast to the pallid lips she bent, in childish
glee, to kiss. Then little Katy, shrinking with a strange awe from the
dear papa she loved so much, and sobbing, she scarce knew why, at his
whispered words, "Be kind to your mother, Katy."

Again Harry's eyes sought Ruth. She was there, but a film--a mist had
come between them; he could not see her, though he felt her warm breath.

And now, that powerful frame collected all its remaining energies for
the last dread contest with death. So fearful--so terrible was the
struggle, that friends stood by, with suppressed breath and averted
eyes, while Ruth alone, with a fearful calmness, hour after hour, wiped
the death damp from his brow, and the oozing foam from his pallid lips.

                 *       *       *       *       *

"He is gone," said the old doctor, laying Harry's hand down upon the
coverlid.

"No; he breathes again."

"Ah; that's his last!"

"Take her away," said the doctor, as Ruth fell heavily across her
husband's body; and the unresisting form of the insensible wife was
borne into the next room.

Strange hands closed Harry's eyes, parted his damp locks, straightened
his manly limbs, and folded the marble hands over as noble a heart as
ever lay cold and still beneath a shroud.



CHAPTER XXIX.


"It is really quite dreadful to see her in this way," said Hyacinth, as
they chafed Ruth's hands and bathed her temples; "it is really quite
dreadful. Somebody ought to tell her, when she comes to, that her hair
is parted unevenly and needs brushing sadly. Harry's finely-chiseled
features look quite beautiful in repose. It is a pity the barber should
have been allowed to shave off his beard after death; it looked quite
oriental and picturesque. But the sight of Ruth, in this way, is
really dreadful; it quite unnerves me. I shall look ten years older by
to-morrow. I must go down and take a turn or two on the piazza." And
Hyacinth paced up and down, thinking--not of the bereaved sister,
who lay mercifully insensible to her loss, nor yet of the young girl
whose heart was to throb trustfully at the altar, by his side, on the
morrow,--but of her broad lands and full coffers, with which he intended
to keep at bay the haunting creditors, who were impertinent enough to
spoil his daily digestion by asking for their just dues.

                 *       *       *       *       *

One o'clock! The effect of the sleeping potion administered to Ruth had
passed away. Slowly she unclosed her eyes and gazed about her. The weary
nurse, forgetful of her charge, had sunk into heavy slumber.

Where was Harry?

Ruth presses her hands to her temples. Oh God! the consciousness that
_would_ come! the frantic out-reaching of the arms to clasp--a vain
shadow!

Where had they lain him?

She crossed the hall to Harry's sick room; the key was in the lock; she
turned it with trembling fingers. Oh God! the dreadful stillness of
that outlined form! the calm majesty of that marble brow, on which the
moonbeams fell as sweetly as if that peaceful sleep was but to restore
him to her widowed arms. That half filled glass, from which his
dying lips had turned away;--those useless phials;--that watch--_his_
watch--moving--and _he_ so still!--the utter helplessness of human
aid;--the dreadful might of Omnipotence!

"Harry!"

Oh, when was he ever deaf before to the music of that voice? Oh, how
could Ruth (God forgive her!) look upon those dumb lips and say, "Thy
will be done!"

"Horrible!" muttered Hyacinth, as the undertaker passed him on the
stairs with Harry's coffin. "These business details are very shocking to
a sensitive person. I beg your pardon; did you address me?" said he, to
a gentleman who raised his hat as he passed.

"I wished to do so, though an entire stranger to you," said the
gentleman, with a sympathizing glance, which was quite thrown away on
Hyacinth. "I have had the pleasure of living under the same roof, this
summer, with your afflicted sister and her noble husband, and have
become warmly attached to both. In common with several warm friends of
your brother-in-law, I am pained to learn that, owing to the failure of
parties for whom he had become responsible, there will be little or
nothing for the widow and her children, when his affairs are settled.
It is our wish to make up a purse, and request her acceptance of it,
through you, as a slight token of the estimation in which we held
her husband's many virtues. I understand you are to leave before
the funeral, which must be my apology for intruding upon you at so
unseasonable an hour."

With the courtliest of bows, in the blandest of tones, Hyacinth assured,
while he thanked Mr. Kendall, that himself, his father, and, indeed, all
the members of the family, were abundantly able, and most solicitous, to
supply every want, and anticipate every wish of Ruth and her children;
and that it was quite impossible she should ever suffer for anything,
or be obliged in any way, at any future time, to exert herself for her
own, or their support; all of which good news for Ruth highly gratified
Mr. Kendall, who grasped the velvet palm of Hyacinth, and dashed away
a grateful tear, that the promise to the widow and fatherless was
remembered in heaven.



CHAPTER XXX.


"They are very attentive to us here," remarked the doctor, as one after
another of Harry's personal friends paid their respects, for his sake,
to the old couple at No. 20. "Very attentive, and yet, Mis. Hall, I only
practiced physic in this town six months, five years ago. It is really
astonishing how long a good physician will be remembered," and the
doctor crossed his legs comfortably, and tapped on his snuff-box.

"Ruth's brother, Hyacinth, leaves before the funeral, doctor," said the
old lady. "I suppose you see through _that_. He intends to be off and
out of the way, before the time comes to decide where Ruth shall put her
head, after Harry is buried; and there's her father, just like him; he
has been as uneasy as an eel in a frying-pan, ever since he came, and
this morning _he_ went off, without asking a question about Harry's
affairs. I suppose he thinks it is _our_ business, and he owning bank
stock. I tell you, doctor, that Ruth may go a-begging, for all the help
she'll get from _her_ folks."

"Or from me, either," said the doctor, thrusting his thumbs into the
arm-holes of his vest, and striding across the room. "She has been a
spoiled baby long enough; she will find earning her living a different
thing from sitting with her hands folded, with Harry chained to her
feet."

"What did you do with that bottle of old wine, Mis. Hall, which I told
you to bring out of Harry's room? He never drank but one glass of it,
after that gentleman sent it to him, and we might as well have it as to
let those lazy waiters drink it up. There were two or three bunches of
grapes, too, he didn't eat; you had better take them, too, while you are
about it."

"Well, it don't seem, after all, as if Harry was dead," said the doctor,
musingly; "but the Lord's will be done. Here comes your dress-maker,
Mis. Hall."

                 *       *       *       *       *

"Good afternoon, ma'am, good afternoon, sir," said Miss Skinlin, with
a doleful whine, drawing down the corners of her mouth and eyes to
suit the occasion. "Sad affliction you've met with. As our minister
says, 'man is like the herb of the field; blooming to-day, withered
to-morrow.' Life is short: will you have your dress gathered or
biased, ma'am?"

"Quite immaterial," said the old lady, anxious to appear indifferent;
"though you may as well, I suppose, do it the way which is worn the
most."

"Well, some likes it one way, and then again, some likes it another. The
doctor's wife in the big, white house yonder--do you know the doctor's
wife, ma'am?"

"No," said the old lady.

"Nice folks, ma'am; open-handed; never mind my giving 'em back the
change, when they pay me. _She_ was a Skefflit. Do you know the
Skefflits? Possible? why they are our first folks. Well, la, where was
I? Oh! the doctor's wife has _her_ gowns biased; but then she's getting
fat, and wants to look slender. I'd advise you to have yourn gathered.
Dreadful affliction you've met with, ma'am. Beautiful corpse your son
is. I always look at corpses to remind me of my latter end. Some corpses
keep much longer than others; don't you think so, ma'am? They tell me
your son's wife is most crazy, because they doted on one another so."

The doctor and his wife exchanged meaning looks.

"_Do tell?_" said Miss Skinlin, dropping her shears. "Well, I never!
'How desaitful the heart is,' as our minister says. Why, everybody about
here took 'em for regular turtle-doves."

"'All is not gold that glitters,'" remarked the old lady. "There is
many a heart-ache that nobody knows anything about, but He who made the
heart. In my opinion our son was not anxious to continue in this world
of trial longer."

"You don't?" said Miss Skinlin. "Pious?"

"_Certainly_," said the doctor. "Was he not _our_ son? Though, since his
marriage, his wife's influence was very worldly."

"Pity," whined Miss Skinlin; "professors should let their light shine.
_I_ always try to drop a word in season, wherever business calls _me_.
Will you have a cross-way fold on your sleeve, ma'am? I don't think it
would be out of place, even on this mournful occasion. Mrs. Tufts wore
one when her eldest child died, and she was dreadful grief-stricken. I
remember she gave me (poor dear!) a five-dollar note, instead of a two;
but that was a thing I hadn't the heart to harass her about at such a
time. I respected her grief too much, ma'am. Did I understand you that
I was to put the cross-way folds on your sleeve, ma'am?"

"You may do as you like," whined the old lady; "people _do_ dress more
at hotels."

"Yes," said Miss Skinlin; "and I often feel reproved for aiding
and abetting such foolish vanities; and yet, if I refused, from
conscientious scruples, to trim dresses, I suppose somebody else
_would_; so you see, it wouldn't do any good. Your daughter-in-law is
left rich, I suppose. I always think that's a great consolation to a
bereaved widow."

"You needn't _suppose_ any such thing," said the doctor, facing Miss
Skinlin; "she hasn't the first red cent."

"Dreadful!" shrieked Miss Skinlin. "What _is_ she going to do?"

"That tells the whole story," said the doctor; "sure enough, what _is_
she going to do?"

"I suppose she'll live with _you_," said Miss Skinlin, suggestively.

"You needn't suppose _that_, either," retorted the doctor. "It isn't
every person, Miss Skinlin, who is agreeable enough to be taken into
one's house; besides, she has got folks of her own."

"Oh,--ah!"--said Miss Skinlin; "rich?"

"Yes, very," said the doctor; "unless some of their poor relatives turn
up, in which case, they are always dreadfully out of pocket."

"I un-der-stand," said Miss Skinlin, with a significant nod. "Well; I
don't see anything left for her to do, but to earn her living, like some
other folks."

"P-r-e-c-i-s-e-l-y," said the doctor.

"Oh--ah,"--said Miss Skinlin, who had at last possessed herself of "the
whole story."

"I forgot to ask you how wide a hem I should allow on your black crape
veil," said Miss Skinlin, tying on her bonnet to go. "Half a yard width
is not considered too much for the _deepest_ affliction. Your daughter,
the widow, will probably have that width," said the crafty dress-maker.

"In my opinion, Ruth is in no deeper affliction than we are," said the
doctor, growing very red in the face; "although she makes more fuss
about it; so you may just make the hem of Mis. Hall's veil half-yard
deep too, and send the bill into No. 20, where it will be footed by
Doctor Zekiel Hall, who is not in the habit of ordering what he can't
pay for. _That_ tells the whole story."

"Good morning," said Miss Skinlin, with another doleful whine. "May the
Lord be your support, and let the light of His countenance shine upon
you, as our minister says."



CHAPTER XXXI.


Slowly the funeral procession wound along. The gray-haired gate-keeper
of the cemetery stepped aside, and gazed into the first carriage as it
passed in. He saw only a pale woman veiled in sable, and two little
wondering, rosy faces gazing curiously out the carriage window. All
about, on either side, were graves; some freshly sodded, others green
with many a summer's verdure, and all treasuring sacred ashes, while
the mourners went about the streets.

"Dust to dust."

Harry's coffin was lifted from the hearse, and laid upon the green sward
by the side of little Daisy. Over him waved leafy trees, of his own
planting; while through the branches the shifting shadows came and went,
lending a mocking glow to the dead man's face. Little Katy came forward,
and gazed into the yawning grave till her golden curls fell like a veil
over her wondering eyes. Ruth leaned upon the arm of her cousin, a dry,
flinty, ossified man of business; a man of angles--a man of forms--a man
with veins of ice, who looked the Almighty in the face complacently,
"thanking God he was not as other men are;" who gazed with stony eyes
upon the open grave, and the orphan babes, and the bowed form at his
side, which swayed to and fro like the young tree before the tempest
blast.

"Dust to dust!"

Ruth shrinks trembling back, then leans eagerly forward; now she takes
the last lingering look at features graven on her memory with lines of
fire; and now, as the earth falls with a hard, hollow sound upon the
coffin, a lightning thought comes with stunning force to little Katy,
and she sobs out, "Oh, they are covering my papa up; I can't ever see
papa any more."

"Dust to dust!"

The sexton smooths the moist earth carefully with his reversed spade;
Ruth's eyes follow his movements with a strange fascination. Now the
carriages roll away one after another, and the wooden man turns to Ruth
and says, "Come." She looks into his stony face, then at the new-made
mound, utters a low, stifled cry, and staggers forth with her crushing
sorrow.

Oh, Earth! Earth! with thy mocking skies of blue, thy placid silver
streams, thy myriad, memory-haunting odorous flowers, thy wheels
of triumph rolling--rolling on, over breaking hearts and prostrate
forms--maimed, tortured, crushed, yet not destroyed. Oh, mocking Earth!
snatching from our frenzied grasp the life-long coveted treasure! Most
treacherous Earth! are these thy unkept promises?

Oh, hadst thou no Gethsemane--no Calvary--no guarded tomb--no risen
Lord!



CHAPTER XXXII.


"And is it because Biddy M'Pherson don't suit yer, that ye'd be afther
sending her away?" said Ruth's nursery maid.

"No, Biddy," replied Ruth; "you have been respectful to me, and kind and
faithful to the children, but I cannot afford to keep you now since--"
and Ruth's voice faltered.

"If that is all, my leddy," said Biddy, brightening up, "then I'll not
be afther laving, sure."

"Thank you," said Ruth, quite moved by her devotion; "but you must not
work for me without wages. Besides, Biddy, I could not even pay your
board."

"And the tears not dry on your cheek; and the father of him and you with
plenty of the siller. May the divil fly away wid 'em! Why, Nettie is but
a babby yet, and Masther used to say you must walk every day, to keep
off the bad headaches; and it's coming could weather, and you can't
take Nettie out, and you can't lave her with Katy; and anyhow it isn't
Biddy M'Pherson that'll be going away intirely."

The allusion to Harry's tender care of Ruth's health opened the wound
afresh, and she wept convulsively.

"I say it's a shame," said Biddy, becoming more excited at the sight of
her tears; "and you can't do it, my leddy; you are as white as a sheet
of paper."

"I _must_," said Ruth, controlling herself with a violent effort; "say
no more, Biddy. I don't know where I am going; but wherever it may be
I shall always be glad to see you. Katy and Nettie shall not forget
their kind nurse; now, go and pack your trunk," said Ruth, assuming a
composure she was far from feeling. "I thank you for your kind offer,
though I cannot accept it."

"May the sowls of 'em niver get out of purgatory; that's Biddy's last
word to 'em," said the impetuous Irish girl; "and if the priest himself
should say that St. Peter wouldn't open the gate for your leddyship, I
wouldn't believe him." And unclasping little Nettie's clinging arms from
her neck, and giving a hurried kiss to little Katy, Biddy went sobbing
through the door, with her check apron over her broad Irish face.



CHAPTER XXXIII.


"Who's that coming up the garden-walk, doctor?" said the old lady;
"Ruth's father, as true as the world. Ah! I understand, we shall see
what we shall see; mind you keep a stiff upper lip, doctor."

"Good morning, doctor," said Mr. Ellet.

"Good morning, sir," said the doctor, stiffly.

"Fine place you have here, doctor."

"Very," replied the doctor.

"I have just come from a visit to Ruth," said Mr. Ellet.

The imperturbable doctor slightly nodded to his visitor, as he took a
pinch of snuff.

"She seems to take her husband's death very hard."

"Does she?" replied the doctor.

"I'm sorry to hear," remarked Mr. Ellet, fidgeting in his chair, "that
there is nothing left for the support of the family."

"So am I," said the doctor.

"I suppose the world will talk about us, if nothing is done for her,"
said the non-committal Mr. Ellet.

"Very likely," replied the doctor.

"Harry was _your_ child," said Mr. Ellet, suggestively.

"Ruth is yours," said the doctor.

"Yes, I know," said Mr. Ellet; "but you are better off than I am,
doctor."

"I deny it--I deny it," retorted the doctor, fairly roused; "you own
the house you live in, and have a handsome income, or _ought_ to have,"
said he, sneeringly, "at the rate you live. If you have brought up your
daughter in extravagance, so much the worse for _her_; you and Ruth must
settle that between you. I wash _my_ hands of her. I have no objection
to take Harry's _children_, and try to bring them up in a sensible
manner; but, in that case, I'll have none of the mother's interference.
Then her hands will be free to earn her own living, and she's none too
good for it, either. I don't believe in your doll-baby women; she's
proud, you are all proud, all your family--that tells the whole story."

This was rather plain Saxon, as the increased redness of Mr. Ellet's
ears testified; but pecuniary considerations helped him to swallow the
bitter pill without making a wry face.

"I don't suppose Ruth could be induced to part with her children," said
Mr. Ellet, meditatively.

"Let her try to support them then, till she gets starved out," replied
the doctor. "I suppose you know, if the mother's inability to maintain
them is proved, the law obliges each of the grand-parents to take one."

This was a new view of the case, and one which immediately put to flight
any reluctance Mr. Ellet might have had to force Ruth to part with
her children; and remarking that he thought upon reflection, that the
children _would_ be better off with the doctor, Mr. Ellet took his
leave.

"I thought that stroke would tell," said the doctor, laughing, as Mr.
Ellet closed the door.

"Yes, you hit the right nail on the head that time," remarked the old
lady; "but those children will be a sight of trouble. They never sat
still five minutes at a time, since they were born; but I'll soon cure
them of that. I'm determined Ruth shan't have them, if they fret me to
fiddling-strings; but what an avaricious old man Mr. Ellet is. We ought
to be thankful we have more of the gospel spirit. But the clock has
struck nine, doctor. It is time to have prayers, and go to bed."



CHAPTER XXXIV.


The day was dark and gloomy. Incessant weeping and fasting had brought
on one of Ruth's most violent attacks of nervous headache. Ah! where was
the hand which had so lately charmed that pain away? where was the form
that, with uplifted finger and tiptoe tread, hushed the slightest sound,
excluded the torturing light, changed the heated pillow, and bathed the
aching temples? Poor Ruth! nature had been tasked its utmost with sad
memories and weary vigils, and she sank fainting to the floor.

Well might the frightened children huddle breathless in the farther
corner. The coffin, the shroud, and the grave, were all too fresh in
their childish memory. Well might the tearful prayer go up to the only
Friend they knew,--"Please God, don't take away our mamma, too."

Ruth heard it not; well had she _never_ woke, but the bitter cup was not
yet drained.

"Good morning, Ruth," said her father, (a few hours after,) frowning
slightly as Ruth's pale face, and the swollen eyes of her children, met
his view. "Sick?"

"One of my bad headaches," replied Ruth, with a quivering lip.

"Well, that comes of excitement; you shouldn't get excited. I never
allow myself to worry about what can't be helped; this is the hand of
God, and you ought to see it. I came to bring you good news. The doctor
has very generously offered to take both your children and support them.
It will be a great burden off your hands; all he asks in return is, that
he shall have the entire control of them, and that you keep away. It is
a great thing, Ruth, and what I didn't expect of the doctor, knowing his
avaricious habits. Now you'll have something pleasant to think about,
getting their things ready to go; the sooner you do it the better. How
soon, think?"

"I can _never_ part with my children," replied Ruth, in a voice which,
though low, was perfectly clear and distinct.

"Perfect madness," said her father, rising and pacing the floor; "they
will have a good home, enough to eat, drink, and wear, and be taught--"

"To disrespect their mother," said Ruth, in the same clear, low tone.

"Pshaw," said her father impatiently; "do you mean to let such a trifle
as that stand in the way of their bread and butter? I'm poor, Ruth, or
at least I _may_ be to-morrow, who knows? so you must not depend on me;
I want you to consider that, before you refuse. Perhaps you expect to
support them yourself; you can't do it, that's clear, and if you should
refuse the doctor's offer, and then die and leave them, he wouldn't take
them."

"Their _Father in Heaven_ will," said Ruth. "He says, 'Leave thy
fatherless children with me.'"

"Perversion of Scripture, perversion of Scripture," said Mr. Ellet,
foiled with his own weapons.

Ruth replied only with her tears, and a kiss on each little head, which
had nestled up to her with an indistinct idea that she needed sympathy.

"It is of no use getting up a scene, it won't move me, Ruth," said Mr.
Ellet, irritated by the sight of the weeping group before him, and
the faint twinges of his own conscience; "the doctor _must_ take the
children, there's nothing else left."

"Father," said Ruth, rising from her couch and standing before him; "my
children are all I have left to love; in pity do not distress me by
urging what I can never grant."

"As you make your bed, so lie in it," said Mr. Ellet, buttoning up his
coat, and turning his back upon his daughter.

It was a sight to move the stoutest heart to see Ruth that night,
kneeling by the side of those sleeping children, with upturned eyes, and
clasped hands of entreaty, and lips from which no sound issued, though
her heart was quivering with agony; and yet a pitying Eye looked down
upon those orphaned sleepers, a pitying Ear bent low to list to the
widow's voiceless prayer.



CHAPTER XXXV.


"Well, Mis. Hall, you have got your answer. Ruth won't part with the
children," said the doctor, as he refolded Mr. Ellet's letter.

"I believe you have lived with me forty years, come last January,
haven't you, doctor?" said his amiable spouse.

"What of that? I don't see where that remark is going to fetch up, Mis.
Hall," said the doctor. "You are not as young as you might be, to be
sure, but I'm no boy myself."

"There you go again, off the track. I didn't make any allusion to my
age. It's a thing I _never_ do. It's a thing I never wish _you_ to do. I
repeat, that I have lived with you these forty years; well, did you ever
know me back out of anything I undertook? Did you ever see me foiled?
That letter makes no difference with me; Harry's children I'm determined
to have, sooner or later. What can't be had by force, must be had by
stratagem. I propose, therefore, a compromise, (_pro-tem._) You and Mr.
Ellet had better agree to furnish a certain sum for awhile, for the
support of Ruth and her children, giving her to understand that it is
discretionary, and may stop at any minute. That will conciliate Ruth,
and will _look_ better, too.

"The fact is, Miss Taffety told me yesterday that she heard some hard
talking about us down in the village, between Mrs. Rice and Deacon Gray
(whose child Ruth watched so many nights with, when it had the scarlet
fever). Yes, it will have a better look, doctor, and we can withdraw the
allowance whenever the 'nine days' wonder' is over. These people have
something else to do than to keep track of poor widows."

"I never supposed a useless, fine lady, like Ruth, would rather work
to support her children than to give them up; but I don't give her any
credit for it now, for I'm quite sure it's all sheer obstinacy, and only
to spite us," continued the old lady.

"Doctor!" and the old lady cocked her head on one side, and crossed her
two forefingers, "whenever--you--see--a--blue-eyed--soft-voiced--
gentle--woman,--look--out--for--a--hurricane. I tell you that placid
Ruth is a smouldering volcano."

"That tells the whole story," said the doctor. "And speaking of
volcanoes, it won't be so easy to make Mr. Ellet subscribe anything for
Ruth's support; he thinks more of one cent than of any child he ever
had. I am expecting him every moment, Mis. Hall, to talk over our
proposal about Ruth. Perhaps you had better leave us alone; you know you
have a kind of irritating way if anything comes across you, and you
might upset the whole business. As to my paying anything towards Ruth's
board unless he does his full share, you needn't fear."

"Of course not; well, I'll leave you," said the old lady, with a sly
glance at the china closet, "though I doubt if _you_ understand managing
him alone. Now I could wind him round my little finger in five minutes
if I chose, but I hate to stoop to it, I so detest the whole family."

"I'll shake hands with you there," said the doctor; "but that puppy
of a Hyacinth is my _especial_ aversion, though Ruth is bad enough
in her way; a mincing, conceited, tip-toeing, be-curled, be-perfumed
popinjay--faugh! Do you suppose, Mis. Hall, there _can_ be anything in
a man who wears fancy neck-ties, a seal ring on his little finger, and
changes his coat and vest a dozen times a day? No; he's a sensuous
fop, that tells the whole story; ought to be picked up with a pair of
sugar-tongs, and laid carefully on a rose-leaf. Ineffable puppy!"

"They made a great fuss about his writings," said the old lady.

"_Who_ made a fuss? Fudge--there's that piece of his about 'The
Saviour'; he describes him as he would a Broadway dandy. That fellow is
all surface, I tell you; there's no depth in him. How should there be?
Isn't he an Ellet? but look, here comes his father."

                 *       *       *       *       *

"Good day, doctor. My time is rather limited this morning," said Ruth's
father nervously; "was it of Ruth you wished to speak to me?"

"Yes," said the doctor; "she seems to feel so badly about letting
the children go, that it quite touched my feelings, and I thought of
allowing her something for awhile, towards their support."

"Very generous of you," said Mr. Ellet, infinitely relieved; "very."

"Yes," continued the doctor, "I heard yesterday that Deacon Gray and
Mrs. Rice, two very influential church members, were talking hard of
you and me about this matter; yes, as you remarked, Mr. Ellet, I
_am_ generous, and I am _willing_ to give Ruth a small sum, for an
unspecified time, provided you will give her the same amount."

"_Me?_" said Mr. Ellet; "_me?_--I am a poor man, doctor; shouldn't
be surprised any day, if I had to mortgage the house I live in: you
wouldn't have me die in the almshouse, would you?"

"No; and I suppose you wouldn't be willing that Ruth should?" said the
doctor, who could take her part when it suited him to carry a point.

"Money is tight, money is tight," said old Mr. Ellet, frowning; "when
a man marries his children, they ought to be considered off his hands.
I don't know why I should be called upon. Ruth went out of my family,
and went into yours, and there she was when her trouble came. Money is
tight, though, of course, _you_ don't feel it, doctor, living here on
your income with your hands folded."

"Yes, yes," retorted the doctor, getting vexed in his turn; "that all
sounds very well; but the question is, what _is_ my 'income'? Beside,
when a man has earned his money by riding six miles of a cold night, to
pull a tooth for twenty-five cents, he don't feel like throwing it away
on other folks' children."

"Are not those children as much your grand-children as they are mine?"
said Mr. Ellet, sharply, as he peered over his spectacles.

"Well, I don't know about that," said the doctor, taking an Æsculapian
view of the case; "shouldn't think they were--blue eyes--sanguine
temperament, like their mother's--not much Hall blood in 'em I fancy;
more's the pity."

"It is no use being uncivil," said Mr. Ellet, reddening. "_I_ never am
uncivil. I came here because I thought you had something to say; if you
have not, I'll go; my time is precious."

"You have not answered my question yet," said the doctor; "I asked you,
if you would give the same that I would to Ruth for a time, only a
_short_ time?"

"The fact is, Mr. Ellet," continued the doctor, forced to fall back at
last upon his reserved argument; "we are both church members; and the
churches to which we belong have a way (which I think is a wrong way,
but that's neither here nor there) of meddling in these little family
matters. It would not be very pleasant for you or me to be catechised,
or disciplined by a church committee; and it's my advice to you to avoid
such a disagreeable alternative: they say hard things about us. We have
a Christian reputation to sustain, brother Ellet," and the doctor grew
pietistic and pathetic.

Mr. Ellet looked anxious. If there was anything he particularly prided
himself upon, it was his reputation for devoted piety. Here was a
desperate struggle--mammon pulling one way, the church the other. The
doctor saw his advantage, and followed it.

"Come, Mr. Ellet, what will you give? here's a piece of paper; put it
down in black and white," said the vigilant doctor.

"Never put anything on paper, never put anything on paper," said
Mr. Ellet, in a solemn tone, with a ludicrously frightened air;
"parchments, lawyers, witnesses, and things, make me nervous."

"Ha! ha!" chuckled the old lady from her hiding-place in the
china-closet.

"Well, then, if you won't put it on paper, _tell_ me what you will
give," said the persistent doctor.

"I'll _think_ about it," said the frenzied Mr. Ellet, seizing his hat,
as if instant escape were his only safety.

The doctor followed him into the hall.

                 *       *       *       *       *

"Did you make him do it?" asked the old lady, in a hoarse whisper, as
the doctor entered.

"Yes; but it was like drawing teeth," replied the doctor. "It is
astonishing how avaricious he is; he may not stick to his promise now,
for he would not put it on paper, and there was no witness."

"Wasn't there though?" said the old lady, chuckling. "Trust me for
that."



CHAPTER XXXVI.


In a dark, narrow street, in one of those heterogeneous boarding-houses
abounding in the city, where clerks, market-boys, apprentices, and
sewing-girls, bolt their meals with railroad velocity; where the
maid-of-all-work, with red arms, frowzy head, and leathern lungs,
screams in the entry for any boarder who happens to be inquired for at
the door; where one plate suffices for fish, flesh, fowl, and dessert;
where soiled table-cloths, sticky crockery, oily cookery, and bad
grammar, predominate; where greasy cards are shuffled, and bad cigars
smoked of an evening, you might have found Ruth and her children.

                 *       *       *       *       *

"Jim, what do you think of her?" said a low-browed, pig-faced,
thick-lipped fellow, with a flashy neck-tie and vest, over which several
yards of gilt watch-chain were festooned ostentatiously; "prettyish,
isn't she?"

"Deuced nice form," said Jim, lighting a cheap cigar, and hitching his
heels to the mantel, as he took the first whiff; "I shouldn't mind
kissing her."

"_You?_" said Sam, glancing in an opposite mirror; "I flatter myself you
would stand a poor chance when your humble servant was round. If I had
not made myself scarce, out of friendship, you would not have made such
headway with black-eyed Sue, the little milliner."

"Pooh," said Jim, "Susan Gill was delf, this little widow is porcelain;
I say it is a deuced pity she should stay up stairs, crying her eyes
out, the way she does."

"Want to marry her, hey?" said Sam, with a sneer.

"Not I; none of your ready-made families for me; pretty foot, hasn't
she? I always put on my coat in the front entry, about the time she goes
up stairs, to get a peep at it. It is a confounded pretty foot, Sam,
bless me if it isn't; I should like to drive the owner of it out to the
race-course, some pleasant afternoon. I must say, Sam, I like widows.
I don't know any occupation more interesting than helping to dry up
their tears; and then the little dears are so grateful for any little
attention. Wonder if my swallow-tailed coat won't be done to-day? that
rascally tailor ought to be snipped with his own shears."

                 *       *       *       *       *

"Well, now, I wonder when you gentlemen intend taking yourselves off,
and quitting the drawing-room," said the loud-voiced landlady, perching
a cap over her disheveled tresses; "this parlor is the only place I
have to dress in; can't you do your talking and smoking in your own
rooms? Come now--here's a lot of newspapers, just take them and be off,
and give a woman a chance to make herself beautiful."

"Beautiful!" exclaimed Sam, "the old dragon! she would make a good
scarecrow for a corn-field, or a figure-head for a piratical cruiser;
beautiful!" and the speaker smoothed a wrinkle out of his flashy yellow
vest; "it is my opinion that the uglier a woman is, the more beautiful
she thinks herself; also, that any of the sex may be bought with a yard
of ribbon, or a breastpin."

"Certainly," said Jim, "you needn't have lived to this time of life to
have made that discovery; and speaking of that, reminds me that the
little widow is as poor as Job's turkey. My washerwoman, confound her
for ironing off my shirt-buttons, says that she wears her clothes
rough-dry, because she can't afford to pay for both washing and
ironing."

"She does?" replied Sam; "she'll get tired of that after awhile. I shall
request 'the dragon,' to-morrow, to let me sit next her at the table.
I'll begin by helping the children, offering to cut up their victuals,
and all that sort of thing--that will please the mother, you know; hey?
But, by Jove! it's three o'clock, and I engaged to drive a gen'lemen
down to the steamboat landing; now some other hackney coach will get the
job. Confound it!"



CHAPTER XXXVII.


Counting houses, like all other spots beyond the pale of female
jurisdiction, are comfortless looking places. The counting-room of Mr.
Tom Develin was no exception to the above rule; though we will do him
the justice to give in our affidavit, that the ink-stand, for seven
consecutive years, had stood precisely in the same spot, bounded on the
north by a box of letter stamps, on the south by a package of brown
business envelopes, on the east by a pen wiper, made originally in the
form of a butterfly, but which frequent ink dabs had transmuted into a
speckled caterpillar, on the west by half sheets of blank paper, rescued
economically from business letters, to save too prodigal consumption of
foolscap.

It is unnecessary to add that Mr. Tom Develin was a bachelor;
perpendicular as a ram-rod, moving over _terra firma_ as if fearful his
joints would unhinge, or his spinal column slip into his boots; carrying
his _arms_ with military precision; supporting his ears with a collar,
never known by 'the oldest inhabitant' to be limpsey; and stepping
circumspectly in boots of mirror-like brightness, never defiled with
the mud of the world.

Perched on his apple-sized head, over plastered wind-proof locks, was
the shiniest of hats, its wearer turning neither to the right nor the
left; and, although possessed of a looking-glass, laboring under the
hallucination that _he_, of all masculine moderns, was most dangerous
to the female heart.

Mr. Develin's book store was on the west side of Literary Row. His
windows were adorned with placards of new theological publications of
the blue-school order, and engravings of departed saints, who with their
last breath had, with mock humility, requested brother somebody to write
their obituaries. There was, also, to be seen there an occasional oil
painting "for sale," selected by Mr. Develin himself, with a peculiar
eye to the greenness of the trees, the blueness of the sky, and the
moral "tone" of the picture.

Mr. Develin congratulated himself on his extensive acquaintance
with clergymen, professors of colleges, students, scholars, and the
literati generally. By dint of patient listening to their desultory
conversations, he had picked up threads of information on literary
subjects, which he carefully wound around his memory, to be woven into
his own tête-à-têtes, where such information would "tell;" always, of
course, omitting quotation marks, to which some writers, as well as
conversationists, have a constitutional aversion. It is not surprising,
therefore, that his tête-à-têtes should be on the _mosaic_ order; the
listener's interest being heightened by the fact, that he had not, when
in a state of pinafore, cultivated Lindley Murray too assiduously.

Mr. Develin had fostered his bump of caution with a truly praiseworthy
care. He meddled very gingerly with new publications; in fact,
transacted business on the old fogy, stage-coach, rub-a-dub principle;
standing back with distended eyes, and suppressed breath, in holy horror
of the whistle, whiz-rush and steam of modern publishing houses. "A
penny saved, is a penny gained," said this eminent financier and
stationer, as he used _half a wafer_ to seal his business letters.

                 *       *       *       *       *

"Any letters this morning?" said Mr. Develin to his clerk, as he
deposited his umbrella in the northwest corner of his counting-room, and
re-smoothed his unctuous, unruffled locks; "any letters?" and taking a
package from the clerk's hand, he circumspectly lowered himself between
his coat-tails into an arm-chair, and leisurely proceeded to their
inspection.

  "MR. DEVELIN:--

  "Sir,--I take the liberty, knowing you to be one of the referees
  about our son's estate, which was left in a dreadful confusion,
  owing probably to his wife's thriftlessness, to request of you a
  small favor. When our son died, he left a great many clothes,
  vests, coats, pants, &c., which his wife, no doubt, urged his
  buying, and which, of course, can be of no use to her now, as she
  never had any boys, which we always regretted. I take my pen in
  hand to request you to send the clothes to me, as they will save my
  tailor's bill; please send, also, a circular broadcloth cloak,
  faced with velvet, his cane, hats, and our son's Bible, which Ruth,
  of course, never looks into--we wish to use it at family prayers.
  Please send them all at your earliest convenience. Hoping you are
  in good health, I am yours to command,

  "ZEKIEL HALL."

Mr. Develin re-folded the letter, crossed his legs and mused. "The law
allows the widow the husband's wearing apparel, but what can Ruth do
with it? (as the doctor says, she has no boys,) and with her _peculiar
notions_, it is not probable she would sell the clothes. The law is on
her side, undoubtedly, but luckily she knows no more about law than a
baby; she is poor, the doctor is a man of property; Ruth's husband was
my friend to be sure, but a man must look out for No. 1 in this world,
and consider a little what would be for his own interest. The doctor may
leave me a little slice of property if I keep on the right side of him,
who knows? The clothes must be sent."



CHAPTER XXXVIII.


"'Tisn't a pretty place," said little Katy, as she looked out the window
upon a row of brick walls, dingy sheds, and discolored chimneys;
"'tisn't a pretty place, mother, I want to go home."

"Home!" Ruth started! the word struck a chord which vibrated--oh how
painfully.

"Why _don't_ we go home, mother?" continued Katy; "won't papa ever,
ever, come and take us away? there is something in my throat which makes
me want to cry all the time, mother," and Katy leaned her curly head
wearily on her mother's shoulder.

Ruth took the child on her lap, and averting her eyes, said with a
forced smile:

"Little sister don't cry, Katy."

"Because she is a little baby, and don't know anything," replied Katy;
"she used to stay with Biddy, but papa used to take me to walk, and toss
me up to the wall when he came home, and make rabbits with his fingers
on the wall after tea, and take me on his knee and tell me about little
Red Riding Hood, and--oh, I want papa, I want papa," said the child,
with a fresh burst of tears.

Ruth's tears fell like rain on Katy's little up-turned face. Oh, how
could she, who so much needed comfort, speak words of cheer? How could
her tear-dimmed eyes and palsied hand, 'mid the gloom of so dark a
night, see, and arrest a sunbeam?

"Katy, dear, kiss me; you _loved_ papa--it grieved you to see him sick
and suffering. Papa has gone to heaven, where there is no more sickness,
no more pain. Papa is happy now, Katy."

"Happy? without _me_, and _you_, and _Nettie_," said Katy, with a
grieved lip?

                 *       *       *       *       *

Oh, far-reaching--questioning childhood, who is sufficient for thee? How
can lips, which so stammeringly repeat, 'thy will be done,' teach _thee_
the lesson perfect?



CHAPTER XXXIX.


"Good morning, Mrs. Hall," said Mr. Develin, handing Ruth the doctor's
letter, and seating himself at what he considered a safe distance from
a female; "I received that letter from the doctor this morning, and I
think it would be well for you to attend to his request as soon as
possible."

Ruth perused the letter, and handed it back with a trembling hand,
saying, "'tis true the clothes are of no use, but it is a great comfort
to me, Mr. Develin, to keep everything that once belonged to Harry."
Then pausing a moment, she asked, "have they a _legal_ right to demand
those things, Mr. Develin?"

"I am not very well versed in law," replied Mr. Develin, dodging the
unexpected question; "but you know the doctor doesn't bear thwarting,
and your children--in fact--" Here Mr. Develin twisted his thumbs and
seemed rather at a loss. "Well, the fact is, Mrs. Hall, in the present
state of your affairs, you cannot afford to refuse."

"True," said Ruth, mournfully, "true."

Harry's clothes were collected from the drawers, one by one, and laid
upon the sofa. Now a little pencilled memorandum fluttered from the
pocket; now a handkerchief dropped upon the floor, slightly odorous
of cologne, or cigars; neck-ties there were, shaped by his full round
throat, with the creases still in the silken folds, and there was a
crimson smoking cap, Ruth's gift--the gilt tassel slightly tarnished
where it had touched the moist dark locks; then his dressing-gown,
which Ruth herself had often playfully thrown on, while combing her
hair--each had its little history, each its tender home associations,
daguerreotyping, on tortured memory, sunny pictures of the past.

"Oh, I cannot--I cannot," said Ruth, as her eye fell upon Harry's
wedding-vest; "oh, Mr. Develin, I cannot."

Mr. Develin coughed, hemmed, walked to the window, drew off his gloves,
and drew them on, and finally said, anxious to terminate the interview,
"I can fold them up quicker than you, Mrs. Hall."

"If you please," replied Ruth, sinking into a chair; "_this_ you will
leave me, Mr. Develin," pointing to the white satin vest.

"Y-e-s," said Mr. Develin, with an attempt to be facetious. "The old
doctor can't use that, I suppose."

The trunk was packed, the key turned in the lock, and the porter in
waiting, preceded by Mr. Develin, shouldered his burden, and followed
him down stairs, and out into the street.

And there sat Ruth, with the tears dropping one after another upon the
wedding vest, over which her fingers strayed caressingly. Oh, where was
the heart which had throbbed so tumultuously beneath it, on that happy
bridal eve? With what a dirge-like echo fell upon her tortured ear those
bridal words,--"till death do us part."



CHAPTER XL.


"Tom Herbert, are you aware that this is the sixth spoonful of sugar you
have put in that cup of tea? and what a forlorn face! I'd as lief look
at a tombstone. Now look at _me_. Did you ever see such a fit as that
boot? Is not my hair as smooth and as glossy as if I expected to dine
with some other gentleman than my husband? Is not this jacket a miracle
of shapeliness? Look what a foil you are to all this loveliness;
lack-lustre eyes--mouth drawn down at the corners: you are a dose to
contemplate."

"Mary," said her husband, without noticing her raillery; "do you
remember Mrs. Hall?"

"Mrs. Hall," replied Mary; "oh, Ruth Ellet? yes; I used to go to school
with her. She has lost her husband, they say."

"Yes, and a fine noble fellow he was too, and very proud of his wife.
I remember he used to come into the store, and say, with one of his
pleasant smiles, 'Herbert, I wonder if you have anything here handsome
enough for my wife to wear.' He bought all her clothes himself, even to
her gloves and boots, and was as tender and careful of her as if she
were an infant. Well, to-day she came into my store, dressed in deep
mourning, leading her two little girls by the hand, and asked to see me.
And what do you think she wanted?"

"I am sure I don't know," said Mary, carelessly; "a yard of black crape,
I suppose."

"She wanted to know," said Mr. Herbert, "if I could employ her to make
up and trim those lace collars, caps, and under sleeves we sell at the
store. I tell you, Mary, I could scarce keep the tears out of my eyes,
she looked so sad. And then those poor little children, Mary! I thought
of you, and how terrible it would be if you and our little Sue and
Charley were left so destitute."

"Destitute?" replied Mary; "why her father is a man of property; her
brother is in prosperous circumstances; and her cousin lives in one of
the most fashionable squares in the city."

"Yes, wife, I know it; and that makes it all the harder for Mrs. Hall to
get employment; because, people knowing this, take it for granted that
her relatives help her, or _ought_ to, and prefer to give employment to
others whom they imagine need it more. This is natural, and perhaps I
should have thought so too, had it been anybody but Harry Hall's wife;
but all I could think of was, what Harry (poor fellow!) _would_ have
said, had he ever thought his little pet of a wife would have come
begging to me for employment."

"What did you tell her?" said Mary.

"Why--you know the kind of work she wished, is done by forty hands, in a
room directly over the store, under the superintendence of Betsy Norris;
of course, they would _all_ prefer doing the work at home, to coming
down there to do it; but that is against our rules. I told her this,
and also that if I made an exception in her favor, the forewoman would
know it, because she had to prepare the work, and that would cause
dissatisfaction among my hands. What do you think she said? she offered
to come and sit down among those girls, and work _with_ them. My God,
Mary! Harry Hall's wife!"

"Of course that was out of the question, wife, for she could not bring
her two children there, and she had no one to leave them with, and
so she went away; and I looked after her, and those little bits of
children, till they were out of sight, trying to devise some way to get
her employment. Cannot you think of anything, Mary? Are there no ladies
you know, who would give her nice needlework?"

"I don't know anybody but Mrs. Slade," replied Mary, "who puts out
work of any consequence, and she told me the other day that she never
employed any of those persons who 'had seen better days;' that somehow
she couldn't drive as good a bargain with them as she could with a
common person, who was ignorant of the value of their labor."

"God help poor Mrs. Hall, then," exclaimed Harry, "if _all_ the sex are
as heartless! _We_ must contrive some way to help her, Mary--help her to
_employment_, I mean, for I know her well enough to be sure that she
would accept of assistance in no other way."



CHAPTER XLI.


"Is this the house?" said one of two ladies, pausing before Ruth's
lodgings.

"I suppose so," replied the other lady; "they said it was No. 50 ----
street, but it can't be, either; Ruth Hall couldn't live in such a place
as this. Just look at that red-faced Irish girl leaning out the front
window on her elbows, and see those vulgar red bar-room curtains; I
declare, Mary, if Ruth Hall has got down hill so far as this, _I_ can't
keep up her acquaintance; just see how they stare at us here! if you
choose to call you may--faugh! just smell that odor of cabbage issuing
from the first entry. Come, come, Mary, take your hand off the knocker;
I wouldn't be seen in that vulgar house for a kingdom."

"It seems _heartless_, though," said the other lady, blushing slightly,
as she gathered up her six flounces in her delicately gloved-hand; "do
you remember the afternoon we rode out to their pretty country-seat,
and had that delicious supper of strawberries and cream, under those
old trees? and do you remember how handsome and picturesque her
husband looked in that broad Panama hat, raking up the hay when the
thunder-shower came up? and how happy Ruth looked, and her children?
'Tis a dreadful change for her, I declare; if it were me, I believe I
should cut my throat."

"That is probably just what her relatives would like to have her do,"
replied Mary, laughing; "they are as much mortified at her being here,
as you and I are to be seen in such a quarter of the city."

"Why don't they provide for her, then," said the other lady, "at least
till she can turn round? that youngest child is only a baby yet."

"Oh, that's _their_ affair," answered Mary, "don't bother about it.
Hyacinth has just married a rich, fashionable wife, and of course he
cannot lose caste by associating with Ruth now; you cannot blame him."

"Well, that don't prevent him from _helping_ her, does it?"

"Good gracious, Gertrude, do stop! if there's anything I hate, it is an
argument. It is clearly none of our business to take her up, if her own
people don't do it. Come, go to La Temps with me, and get an ice. What
a love of a collar you have on; it is handsomer than mine, which I gave
fifty dollars for, but what is fifty dollars, when one fancies a thing?
If I didn't make my husband's money fly, his second wife would; so
I will save her ladyship that trouble;" and with an arch toss of her
plumed head, the speaker and her companion entered the famous saloon of
La Temps, where might be seen any sunny day, between the hours of twelve
and three, the disgusting spectacle of scores of ladies devouring, _ad
infinitum_, brandy-drops, Roman punch, Charlotte Russe, pies, cakes,
and ices; and sipping "parfait amour," till their flushed cheeks and
emancipated tongues prepared them to listen and reply to any amount of
questionable nonsense from their attendant roué cavaliers.



CHAPTER XLII.


"Some folks' pride runs in queer streaks," said Betty, as she turned a
beefsteak on the gridiron; "if I lived in such a grand house as this,
and had so many fine clothes, I wouldn't let my poor cousin stand every
Monday in my kitchen, bending over the wash-tub, and rubbing out her
clothes and her children's, with my servants, till the blood started
from her knuckles."

"Do you know what dis chil' would do, if she were Missis Ruth Hall?"
asked Gatty. "Well, she'd jess go right up on dat shed fronting de
street, wid 'em, and hang 'em right out straight before all de grand
neighbors, and shame Missus Millet; dat's what _dis_ chil' would do."

"Poor Mrs. Ruth, she knows too much for that," replied Betty; "she
shoulders that great big basket of damp clothes and climbs up one, two,
three, four flights of stairs to hang them to dry in the garret. Did you
see her sit down on the stairs last Monday, looking so pale about the
mouth, and holding on to her side, as if she never would move again?"

"Yes, yes," said Gatty, "and here now, jess look at de fust peaches of
de season, sent in for dessert; de Lor' he only knows what dey cost, but
niggers musn't see noffing, not dey, if dey wants to keep dere place.
But white folks _is_ stony-hearted, Betty."

"Turn that steak over," said Betty; "now get the pepper; work and talk
too, that's _my_ motto. Yes, Gatty, I remember when Mrs. Ruth's husband
used to ride up to the door of a fine morning, and toss me a large
bouquet for Mrs. Millet, which Mrs. Ruth had tied up for her, or hand me
a box of big strawberries, or a basket of plums, or pears, and how all
our folks here would go out there and stay as long as they liked, and
use the horses, and pick the fruit, and the like of that."

"Whar's her brudder, Massa Hyacinth? Wonder if _he_ knows how tings is
gwyin on?" asked Gatty.

"_He_ knows fast enough, only he _don't_ know," replied Betty, with a
sly wink. "I was setting the table the other day, when Mrs. Millet read
a letter from him to her husband. It seems he's got a fine place in the
country, where he lives with his new bride. Poor thing, I hope he won't
break her heart, as he did his first wife's. Well, he told how beautiful
his place was, and how much money he had laid out on his garden, and
hot-house, and things, and invited Mrs. Millet to come and see him;
and then he said, 'he 'sposed Mrs. Ruth was getting on; he didn't know
anything about her.'"

"Know about de debbel!" exclaimed Gatty, throwing down the pepper
castor; "wonder whose fault dat is, Betty? 'Spose all dese folks of
ours, up stairs, will go to de bressed place? When I heard Massa Millet
have prayers dis morning, I jess wanted to ask him dat. You 'member what
our minister, Mr. Snowball, said las' Sunday, 'bout de parabola of Dives
and Lazarus, hey?"

"Parable," said Betty contemptuously; "Gatty, you are as ignorant as a
hippopotamus. Come, see that steak now, done to a crisp; won't you catch
it when you take it into breakfast. It is lucky I can cook and talk
too."



CHAPTER XLIII.


"Something for you, ma'am," said the maid-of-all-work to Ruth, omitting
the ceremony of a premonitory knock, as she opened the door. "A bunch of
flowers! handsome enough for Queen Victory; and a basket of apples all
done up in green leaves. It takes widders to get presents," said the
girl, stowing away her tongue in her left cheek, as she partially closed
the door.

"Oh, how pretty!" exclaimed little Nettie, to whom those flowers were as
fair as Eve's first view of Paradise. "Give me _one_ posy, mamma, only
_one_;" and the little chubby hands were outstretched for a tempting
rose-bud.

"But, Nettie, dear, they are not for me," said Ruth; "there must be some
mistake."

"Not a bit, ma'am," said the girl, thrusting her head into the half-open
door; "the boy said they were 'for Mrs. Ruth Hall,' as plain as the nose
on my face; and that's plain enough, for I reckon I should have got
married long ago, if it hadn't been for my big nose. He was a country
boy like, with a ploughman's frock on, and was as spotted in the face as
a tiger-lily."

"Oh! I know," replied Ruth, with a ray of her old sunshiny smile
flitting over her face; "it was Johnny Galt; he comes into market every
day with vegetables. Don't you remember him, Katy? He used to drive our
old Brindle to pasture, and milk her every night. You know dear papa
gave him a suit of clothes on the Fourth of July, and a new hat, and
leave to go to Plymouth to see his mother? Don't you remember, Katy, he
used to catch butterflies for you in the meadow, and pick you nosegays
of buttercups, and let you ride the pony to water, and show you where
the little minnies lived in the brook? Have you forgotten the white
chicken he brought you in his hat, which cried 'peep--peep,' and the
cunning little speckled eggs he found for you in the woods, and the
bright scarlet partridge berries he strung for a necklace for your
throat, and the glossy green-oak-leaf-wreath he made for your hat?"

"Tell more--tell more," said Katy, with eyes brimming with joy; "smile
more, mamma."

Aye, "Smile more, mamma." Earth has its bright spots; there must
have been sunshine to make a shadow. All hearts are not calloused by
selfishness; from the lips of the honest little donor goeth up each
night and morning a prayer, sincere and earnest, for "the widow and
the fatherless." The noisome, flaunting weeds of earth have not wholly
choked the modest flower of gratitude. "Smile more, mamma!"

                 *       *       *       *       *

How cheap a thing is happiness! Golconda's mines were dross to that
simple bunch of flowers! They lit the widow's gloomy room with a
celestial brightness. Upon the dingy carpet Ruth placed the little
vase, and dimpled limbs hovered about their brilliant petals; poising
themselves daintily as the epicurean butterfly who circles, in dreamy
delight, over the rose's heart, longing, yet delaying to sip its sweets.

A simple bunch of flowers, yet oh, the tale they told with their
fragrant breath! "Smile, mamma!" for those gleeful children's sake; send
back to the source that starting tear, ere like a lowering cloud it
o'ercasts the sunshine of those beaming faces.



CHAPTER XLIV.


"My dear," said Mrs. Millet as the servant withdrew with the dessert,
"Walter has an invitation to the Hon. David Greene's to-night."

No response from Mr. Millet, "the wooden man," one of whose pleasant
peculiarities it was never to answer a question till the next day after
it was addressed to him.

Mrs. Millet, quite broken in to this little conjugal eccentricity,
proceeded; "It will be a good thing for John, Mr. Millet; I am anxious
that all his acquaintances should be of the right sort. Hyacinth has
often told me how much it made or marred a boy's fortune, the set he
associated with. Herbert Greene has the air of a thorough-bred man
already. You see now, Mr. Millet, the importance of Hyacinth's advice to
us about five years ago, to move into a more fashionable neighborhood;
to be sure rents are rather high here, but I am very sure young Snyder
would never have thought of offering himself to Leila had not we lived
at the court-end of the town. Hyacinth considers it a great catch in
point of family, and I have no doubt Snyder is a nice fellow. I wish
before you go, Mr. Millet, you would leave the money to buy Leila
a velvet jacket; it will not cost more than forty dollars (lace,
trimmings, and all); it will be very becoming to Leila. What, going?
oh, I forgot to tell you, that Ruth's father was here this morning,
bothering me just as I was dressing my hair for dinner. It seems that he
is getting tired of furnishing the allowance he promised to give Ruth,
and says that it is _our_ turn now to do something. He is a great deal
better off than we are, and so I told him; and also, that we were
obliged to live in a certain style for the dear children's sake; beside,
are we _not_ doing something for her? I allow Ruth to do her washing in
our kitchen every week, provided she finds her own soap. Stop a minute,
Mr. Millet; _do_ leave the forty dollars for Leila's jacket before you
go. Cicchi, the artist, wants her to sit for a Madonna,--quite a pretty
tribute to Leila's beauty; he only charges three hundred dollars; his
study is No. 1, Clive street."

"S-t-u-d-i-o," said Mr. Millet, (slowly and oracularly, who, being
on several school committees, thought it his duty to make an extra
exertion, when the king's English was misapplied;) "s-t-u-d-i-o, Mrs.
Millet;" and buttoning the eighth button of his overcoat, he moved
slowly out the front door, and down the street to his counting-room,
getting over the ground with about as much flexibility and grace of
motion as the wooden horses on the stage.



CHAPTER XLV.


"Come here, Katy," said Ruth, "do you think you could go _alone_ to your
grandfather Ellet's for once? My board bill is due to-day, and my head
is so giddy with this pain, that I can hardly lift it from the pillow.
Don't you think you can go without me, dear? Mrs. Skiddy is very
particular about being paid the moment she sends in her bill."

"I'll try, mamma," replied little Katy, unwilling to disoblige her
mother.

"Then bring your bonnet, dear, and let me tie it; be very, very careful
crossing the streets, and don't loiter on the way. I have been hoping
every moment to be better, but I cannot go."

"Never mind, mother," said Katy, struggling bravely with her reluctance,
as she kissed her mother's cheek, and smiled a good-bye; but when she
gained the crowded street, the smile faded away from the little face,
her steps were slow, and her eyes downcast; for Katy, child as she
was, knew that her grandfather was never glad to see them now, and his
strange, cold tone when he spoke to her, always made her shiver; so
little Katy threaded her way along, with a troubled, anxious, care-worn
look, never glancing in at the shopkeepers' tempting windows, and
quite forgetting Johnny Galt's pretty bunch of flowers, till she stood
trembling with her hand on the latch of her grandfather's counting-room
door.

"That _you_!" said her grandfather gruffly, from under his bent brows;
"come for money _again_? Do you think your grandfather is made of money?
people have to _earn_ it, did you know that? I worked hard to earn mine.
Have you done any thing to earn this?"

"No, Sir," said Katy, with a culprit look, twisting the corner of her
apron, and struggling to keep from crying.

"Why don't your mother go to work and earn something?" asked Mr. Ellet.

"She cannot get any work to do," replied Katy; "she tries very hard,
grandpa."

"Well, tell her to _keep on_ trying, and you must grow up quick, and
earn something too; money don't grow on trees, or bushes, did you know
that? What's the reason your mother didn't come after it herself, hey?"

"She is sick," said Katy.

"Seems to me she's always sick. Well, there's a dollar," said her
grandfather, looking at the bill affectionately, as he parted with it;
"if you keep on coming here at this rate, you will get all my money
away. Do you think it is right to come and get all my money away, hey?
Remember now, you and your mother must earn some, _somehow_, d'ye hear?"

"Yes, Sir," said Katy meekly, as she closed the door.

There was a great noise and bustle in the street, and Katy was jostled
hither and thither by the hurrying foot passengers; but she did not
heed it, she was so busy thinking of what her grandfather had said,
and wondering if she could not sell matches, or shavings, or sweep the
crossings, or earn some pennies somehow, that she need never go to her
grandfather again. Just then a little girl her own age, came skipping
and smiling along, holding her father's hand. Katy looked at her and
thought of _her_ father, and then she began to cry.

"What is the matter, my dear?" said a gentleman, lifting a handful of
Katy's shining curls from her face; "why do you cry, my dear?"

"I want _my_ papa," sobbed Katy.

"Where is he, dear? tell me, and I will take you to him, shall I?"

"If you please, Sir," said Katy, innocently, "he has gone to heaven."

"God help you," said the gentleman, with moistened eyes, "where had you
been when I met you?"

"Please, Sir--I--I--I had rather not tell," replied Katy, with a crimson
blush.

"Very odd, this," muttered the gentleman; "what is your name, dear?"

"Katy, Sir."

"Katy what?" asked the gentleman. "Katy-did, I think! for your voice is
as sweet as a bird's."

"Katy Hall, Sir."

"Hall? Hall?" repeated the gentleman, thoughtfully; "was your father's
name Harry?"

"Yes," said Katy.

"Was he tall and handsome, with black hair and whiskers?"

"Oh, _so_ handsome," replied Katy, with sparkling eyes.

"Did he live at a place called 'The Glen,' just out of the city?"

"Yes," said Katy.

"My child, my poor child," said the gentleman, taking her up in his arms
and pushing back her hair from her face; "yes, here is papa's brow, and
his clear, blue eyes, Katy. I used to know your dear papa."

"Yes?" said Katy, with a bright, glad smile.

"I used to go to his counting-house to talk to him on business, and I
learned to love him very much, too. I never saw your mamma, though I
often heard him speak of her. In a few hours, dear, I am going to sail
off on the great ocean, else I would go home with you and see your
mamma. Where do you live, Katy?"

"In ---- court," said the child. The gentleman colored and started, then
putting his hand in his pocket and drawing out something that looked
like paper, slipped it into little Katy's bag, saying, with delicate
tact, "Tell your mamma, my dear, that is something I owed your dear
papa; mind you carry it home safely; now give me a good-bye kiss, and
may God forever bless you, my darling."

Little Katy stood shading her eyes with her hand till the gentleman was
out of sight; it was so nice to see somebody who "loved papa;" and then
she wondered why her grandfather never spoke so to her about him; and
then she wished the kind gentleman were her grandpapa; and then she
wondered what it was he had put in the bag for mamma; and then she
recollected that her mamma told her "not to loiter;" and then she
quickened her tardy little feet.



CHAPTER XLVI.


Katy had been gone now a long while. Ruth began to grow anxious. She
lifted her head from the pillow, took off the wet bandage from her
aching forehead, and taking little Nettie upon her lap, sat down at the
small window to watch for Katy. The prospect was not one to call up
cheerful fancies. Opposite was one of those large brick tenements, let
out by rapacious landlords, a room at a time at griping rents, to poor
emigrants, and others, who were barely able to prolong their lease of
life from day to day. At one window sat a tailor, with his legs crossed,
and a torn straw hat perched awry upon his head, cutting and making
coarse garments for the small clothing-store in the vicinity, whose
Jewish owner reaped all the profits. At another, a pale-faced woman,
with a handkerchief bound round her aching face, bent over a steaming
wash-tub, while a little girl of ten, staggering under the weight of a
basket of damp clothes, was stringing them on lines across the room
to dry. At the next window sat a decrepit old woman, feebly trying to
soothe in her palsied arms the wailings of a poor sick child. And there,
too, sat a young girl, from dawn till dark, scarcely lifting that pallid
face and weary eyes--stitching and thinking, thinking and stitching. God
help her!

Still, tier above tier the windows rose, full of pale, anxious,
care-worn faces--never a laugh, never a song--but instead, ribald
curses, and the cries of neglected, half-fed children. From window to
window, outside, were strung on lines articles of clothing, pails,
baskets, pillows, feather-beds, and torn coverlets; while up and
down the door-steps, in and out, passed ever a ragged procession of
bare-footed women and children, to the small grocery opposite, for "a
pint of milk," a "loaf of bread," a few onions, or potatoes, a cabbage,
some herrings, a sixpence worth of poor tea, a pound of musty flour, a
few candles, or a peck of coal--for all of which, the poor creatures
paid twice as much as if they had the means to buy by the quantity.

The only window which Ruth did not shudder to look at, was the upper one
of all, inhabited by a large but thrifty German family, whose love of
flowers had taken root even in that sterile soil, and whose little pot
of thriving foreign shrubs, outside the window sill, showed with what
tenacity the heart will cling to early associations.

Further on, at one block's remove, was a more pretentious-looking
house, the blinds of which were almost always closed, save when the
colored servants threw them open once a day, to give the rooms an
airing. Then Ruth saw damask chairs, satin curtains, pictures, vases,
books, and pianos; it was odd that people who could afford such things
should live in such a neighborhood. Ruth looked and wondered. Throngs
of visitors went there--carriages rolled up to the door, and rolled
away; gray-haired men, business men, substantial-looking family men,
and foppish-looking young men; while half-grown boys loitered about
the premises, looking mysteriously into the door when it opened, or
into the window when a curtain was raised, or a blind flew apart.

Now and then a woman appeared at the windows. Sometimes the face was
young and fair, sometimes it was wan and haggard; but, oh God! never
without the stain that the bitterest tear may fail to wash away, save in
the eyes of Him whose voice of mercy whispered, "Go, and sin no more."

Ruth's tears fell fast. She knew now how it could be, when every door
of hope seemed shut, by those who make long prayers and wrap themselves
in morality as with a garment, and cry with closed purses and averted
faces, "Be ye warmed, and filled." She knew now how, when the heart,
craving sympathy, craving companionship, doubting both earth and heaven,
may wreck its all in one despairing moment on that dark sea, if it lose
sight of Bethlehem's guiding-star. And then, she thought, "if he who
saveth a soul from death shall hide a multitude of sins," oh! where, in
the great reckoning-day, shall _he_ be found who, 'mid the gloom of so
dark a night, pilots such struggling bark on wrecking rocks?

                 *       *       *       *       *

"Dear child, I am so glad you are home," said Ruth, as Katy opened the
door; "I began to fear something had happened to you. Did you see your
grandfather?"

"Oh, mother!" exclaimed Katy, "please never send me to my grandpa again;
he said we 'should get away all the money he had,' and he looked so
dreadful when he said it, that it made my knees tremble. Is it stealing,
mamma, for us to take grandpa's money away?"

"No," replied Ruth, looking a hue more pallid, if possible, than before,
"No, no, Katy, don't cry; you shall never go there again for money. But,
where is your bag? Why! what's this, Katy. Grandpa has made a mistake.
You must run right back as quick as ever you can with this money, or I'm
afraid he will be angry."

"Oh, grandpa didn't give me that," said Katy; "a gentleman gave me
that."

"A gentleman?" said Ruth. "Why it is _money_, Katy. How came you to take
money from a gentleman? Who was he?"

"Money!" exclaimed Katy. "Money!" clapping her hands. "Oh! I'm so glad.
He didn't say it was money; he said it was something he owed papa;" and
little Katy picked up a card from the floor, on which was pencilled,
"For the children of Harry Hall, from their father's friend."

"Hush," whispered Katy to Nettie, "mamma is praying."



CHAPTER XLVII.


"Well, I never!" said Biddy, bursting into Ruth's room in her usual
thunder-clap way, and seating herself on the edge of a chair, as she
polished her face with the skirt of her dress. "As sure as my name
is Biddy, I don't know whether to laugh or to cry. Well, I've been
expecting it. Folks that have ears can't help hearing when folks
quarrel."

"What are you talking about?" said Ruth. "Who has quarreled? It is
nothing that concerns me."

"Don't it though?" replied Biddy. "I'm thinking it _will_ concern ye
to pack up bag and baggage, and be off out of the house; for that's
what we are all coming to, and all for Mrs. Skiddy. You see it's just
here, ma'am. Masther has been threatnin' for a long time to go to
Californy, where the gould is as plenty as blackberries. Well,
misthress tould him, if ever he said the like o' that again, he'd rue
it; and you know, ma'am, it's she that has a temper. Well, yesterday
I heard high words again; and, sure enough, after dinner to-day, she
went off, taking Sammy and Johnny, and laving the bit nursing baby on
his hands, and the boarders and all. And it's Biddy McFlanigan who'll
be off, ma'am, and not be made a pack-horse of, to tend that teething
child, and be here, and there, and everywhere in a minute. And so I
come to bid you good-bye."

"But, Biddy--"

"Don't be afther keeping me, ma'am; Pat has shouldhered me trunk, and
ye see I can't be staying when things is as they is."

                 *       *       *       *       *

The incessant cries of Mrs. Skiddy's bereaved baby soon bore ample
testimony to the truth of Biddy's narration, appealing to Ruth's
motherly sympathies so vehemently, that she left her room and went down
to offer her assistance.

There sat Mr. John Skiddy, the forlorn widower, the ambitious
Californian, in the middle of the kitchen, in his absconded wife's
rocking-chair, trotting a seven months' baby on the sharp apex of his
knee, alternately singing, whistling, and wiping the perspiration from
his forehead, while the little Skiddy threw up its arms in the most
frantic way, and held its breath with rage, at the awkward attempts of
its dry nurse to restore peace to the family.

"Let me sweeten a little cream and water and feed that child for you,
Mr. Skiddy," said Ruth. "I think he is hungry."

"Oh, thank you, Mrs. Hall," said Skiddy, with a man's determined
aversion to owning 'checkmated.' "I am getting along famously with the
little darling. Papa _will_ feed him, so he _will_," said Skiddy; and,
turning the maddened baby flat on his back, he poured down a whole
tea-spoonful of the liquid at once; the natural consequence of which was
a milky _jet d'eau_ on his face, neckcloth, and vest, from the irritated
baby, who resented the insult with all his mother's spirit.

Ruth adroitly looked out the window, while Mr. Skiddy wiped his face
and sopped his neckcloth, after which she busied herself in picking up
the ladles, spoons, forks, dredging-boxes, mortars, pestles, and other
culinary implements, with which the floor was strewn, in the vain
attempt to propitiate the distracted infant.

"I think I _will_ spare the little dear to you a few minutes," said
Skiddy, with a ghastly attempt at a smile, "while I run over to the
bakery to get a loaf for tea. Mrs. Skiddy has probably been unexpectedly
detained, and Biddy is so afraid of her labor in her absence, that she
has taken French leave. I shall be back soon," said Skiddy, turning away
in disgust from the looking-glass, as he caught sight of his limpsey
dicky and collapsed shirt-bosom.

Ruth took the poor worried baby tenderly, laid it on its stomach across
her lap, then loosening its frock strings, began rubbing its little fat
shoulders with her velvet palm. There was a maternal magnetism in that
touch; baby knew it! he stopped crying and winked his swollen eyelids
with the most luxurious satisfaction, as much as to say, there, now,
that's something like!

Gently Ruth drew first one, then the other, of the magnetized baby's
chubby arms from its frock sleeves, substituting a comfortable loose
night-dress for the tight and heated frock; then she carefully drew
off its shoe, admiring the while the beauty of the little blue veined,
dimpled foot, while Katy, hush as any mouse, looked on delightedly from
her little cricket on the hearth, and Nettie, less philosophical, was
more than half inclined to cry at what she considered an infringement of
her rights.

Mr. Skiddy's reflections as he walked to the bakery were of a motley
character. Upon the whole, he inclined to the opinion that it was
"not good for man to be alone," especially with a nursing baby. The
premeditated and unmixed malice of Mrs. Skiddy in leaving the baby,
instead of Sammy or Johnny, was beyond question. Still, he could not
believe that her desire for revenge would outweigh all her maternal
feelings. She would return by-and-bye; but where could she have gone?
People cannot travel with an empty purse; but, perhaps even now, at
some tantalizing point of contiguity, she was laughing at the success of
her nefarious scheme; and Mr. Skiddy's face reddened at the thought, and
his arms instinctively took an a-kimbo attitude.

But then, perhaps, she _never meant_ to come back. What was he to do
with that baby? A wet-nurse would cost him six dollars a week; and, as
to bringing up little Tommy by hand, city milk would soon finish him.
And, to do Mr. Skiddy justice, though no Socrates, he was a good father
to his children.

And now it was nearly dark. Was he doomed to sit up all night, tired as
he was, with Tommy in one hand, and a spoon and pewter porringer in the
other? Or, worse still, walk the floor in white array, till his joints,
candle, and patience gave out? Then, there were the boarders to be seen
to! He never realized before how _many_ irons Mrs. Skiddy had daily in
the fire. There was Mr. Thompson, and Mr. Johnson, on the first floor,
(and his face grew hot as he thought of it,) had seen him in the kitchen
looking so Miss-Nancy-like, as he superintended pots, kettles, and
stews. _Stews?_ there was not a dry thread on him that minute, although
a cold north wind was blowing. Never mind, he was not such a fool as to
tell of his little troubles; so he entered the bakery and bought an
extra pie, and a loaf of plum-cake, for tea, to hoodwink the boarders
into the belief that Mrs. Skiddy's presence was not at all necessary to
a well-provided table.

Tea went off quite swimmingly, with Mr. John Skiddy at the urn. The
baby, thanks to Ruth's maternal management, lay sweetly sleeping in his
little wicker cradle, dreaming of a distant land flowing with milk and
honey, and _looking_ as if he was destined to a protracted nap; although
it was very perceptible that Mr. Skiddy looked anxious when a door was
shut hard, or a knife or fork dropped on the table; and he had several
times been seen to close his teeth tightly over his lip, when a heavy
cart rumbled mercilessly past.

Tea being over, the boarders dispersed their various ways; Ruth
notifying Mr. Skiddy of her willingness to take the child whenever it
became unmanageable. Then Mr. Skiddy, very gingerly, and with a cat-like
tread, put away the tea-things, muttering an imprecation at the lid of
the tea-pot, as he went, for falling off. Then, drawing the evening
paper from his pocket, and unfurling it, (with one eye on the cradle,)
he put up his weary legs and commenced reading the news.

Hark! a muffled noise from the cradle! Mr. Skiddy started, and applied
his toe vigorously to the rocker--it was no use. He whistled--it didn't
suit. He sang--it was a decided failure. Little Skiddy had caught sight
of the pretty bright candle, and it was his present intention to scream
till he was taken up to investigate it.

Miserable Skiddy! He recollected, now, alas! too late, that Mrs. Skiddy
always carefully screened the light from Tommy's eyes while sleeping.
He began to be conscious of a growing respect for Mrs. Skiddy, and a
growing aversion to _her_ baby. Yes; in that moment of vexation, with
that unread evening paper before him, he actually called it _her_ baby.

How the victimized man worried through the long evening and night--how
he tried to propitiate the little tempest with the castor, the
salt-cellar, its mother's work-box, and last, but not least, a silver
cup he had received for his valor from the Atlantic Fire Company--how
the baby, all-of-a-twist, like Dickens' young hero kept asking for
"more"--how he laid it on its back, and laid it on its side, and laid
it on its stomach, and propped it up on one end in a house made of
pillows, and placed the candle at the foot of the bed, in the vain
hope that that luminary might be graciously deemed by the infant
tyrant a substitute for his individual exertions--and how, regardless
of all these philanthropic efforts, little Skiddy stretched out his
arms imploringly, and rooted suggestively at his father's breast, in a
way to move a heart of stone--and how Mr. Skiddy said several words
not to be found in the catechism--and how the daylight found him as
pale as a potato sprout in a cellar, with all sorts of diagonal lines
tattoed over his face by enraged little finger nails--and how the
little horn, that for years had curled up so gracefully toward his
nose, was missing from the corner of his moustache--are they not all
written in the ambitious Californian's repentant memory?



CHAPTER XLVIII.


"How sweetly they sleep," said Ruth, shading the small lamp with her
hand, and gazing at Katy and Nettie; "God grant _their_ names be not
written, widow;" and smoothing back the damp tresses from the brow of
each little sleeper, she sat down to the table, and drawing from it a
piece of fine work, commenced sewing. "Only fifty cents for all this
ruffling and hemming," said Ruth, as she picked up the wick of her dim
lamp; "only fifty cents! and I have labored diligently too, every spare
moment, for a fortnight; this will never do," and she glanced at the
little bed; "_they_ must be clothed, and fed, and educated. Educated?"
an idea struck Ruth; "why could not she teach school? But who would be
responsible for the rent of her room? There was fuel to be furnished,
and benches; what capital had _she_ to start with? There was Mrs.
Millet, to be sure, and her father, who, though they were always saying,
'get something to do,' would never assist her when she tried to do
anything; how easy for them to help her to obtain a few scholars, or be
responsible for her rent, till she could make a little headway. Ruth
resolved, at least, to mention her project to Mrs. Millet, who could
then, if she felt inclined, have an opportunity to offer her assistance
in this way."

The following Monday, when her washing was finished, Ruth wiped the suds
from her parboiled fingers on the kitchen roller, and ascending the
stairs, knocked at the door of her cousin's chamber. Mrs. Millet was
just putting the finishing touches to the sleeves of a rich silk dress
of Leila's, which the mantau-maker had just returned.

"How d'ye do, Ruth," said she, in a tone which implied--what on earth do
you want now?

"Very well, I thank you," said Ruth, with that sudden sinking at the
heart, which even the _intonation_ of a voice may sometimes give; "I can
only stay a few minutes; I stopped to ask you, if you thought there was
any probability of success, should I attempt to get a private school?"

"There is nothing to prevent your trying," replied Mrs. Millet,
carelessly; "other widows have supported themselves; there was Mrs.
Snow." Ruth sighed, for she knew that Mrs. Snow's relatives had given
her letters of introduction to influential families, and helped her in
various ways till she could get her head above water. "Yes," continued
Mrs. Millet, laying her daughter's silk dress on the bed, and stepping
back a pace or two, with her head on one side, to mark the effect of the
satin bow she had been arranging; "yes--other widows support themselves,
though, I am sure, I don't know how they do it--I suppose there must be
a way--Leila! is that bow right? seems to me the dress needs a yard or
two more lace; ten dollars will not make much difference; it will be
such an improvement."

"Of course not," said Leila, "it will be a very great improvement; and
by the way, Ruth, don't you want to sell me that coral pin you used to
wear? it would look very pretty with this green dress."

"It was _Harry's_ gift," said Ruth.

"Yes," replied Leila; "but I thought you'd be very glad to part with it
for _money_."

A flush passed over Ruth's face. "Not _glad_, Leila," she replied, "for
everything that once belonged to Harry is precious, though I might feel
necessitated to part with it, in my present circumstances."

"Well, then," said Mrs. Millet, touching her daughter's elbow, "you'd
better have it, Leila."

"Harry gave ten dollars for it," said Ruth.

"Yes, _originally_, I dare say," replied Mrs. Millet, "but nobody
expects to get much for second-hand things. Leila will give you a dollar
and a quarter for it, and she would like it soon, because when this
north-east storm blows over, she wants to make a few calls on Snyder's
relatives, in this very becoming silk dress;" and Mrs. Millet patted
Leila on the shoulder.

"Good-bye," said Ruth.

"Don't forget the brooch," said Leila.

"I wish Ruth would go off into the country, or somewhere," remarked
Leila, as Ruth closed the door. "I have been expecting every day that
Snyder would hear of her offering to make caps in that work-shop; he is
so fastidious about such things, being connected with the Tidmarshes,
and that set, you know."

"Yes," said Leila's elder brother John, a half-fledged young M.D., whose
collegiate and medical education enabled him one morning to astound the
family breakfast-party with the astute information, "that vinegar was an
acid." "Yes, I wish she would take herself off into the country, too. I
had as lief see a new doctor's sign put up next door, as to see her face
of a Monday, over that wash-tub, in our kitchen. I wonder if she thinks
salt an improvement in soap-suds, for the last time I saw her there
she was dropping in the tears on her clothes, as she scrubbed, at a
showering rate; another thing, mother, I wish you would give her a
lesson or two, about those children of hers. The other day I met her
Katy in the street with the shabbiest old bonnet on, and the toes of
her shoes all rubbed white; and she had the impertinence to call me
"_cousin_ John," in the hearing of young Gerald, who has just returned
from abroad, and who dined with Lord Malden, in Paris. I could have
wrung the little wretch's neck."

"It _was_ provoking, John. I'll speak to her about it," said Mrs.
Millet, "when she brings the coral pin."



CHAPTER XLIX.


Ruth, after a sleepless night of reflection upon her new project,
started in the morning in quest of pupils. She had no permission to
refer either to her father, or to Mrs. Millet; and such being the case,
the very fact of her requesting this favor of any one less nearly
related, would be, of itself, sufficient to cast suspicion upon her.
Some of the ladies upon whom she called were "out," some "engaged,"
some "indisposed," and all indifferent; besides, people are not apt to
entrust their children with a person of whom they know nothing; Ruth
keenly felt this disadvantage.

One lady on whom she called, "never sent her children where the
teacher's own children were taught;" another preferred foreign teachers,
"it was something to say that Alfred and Alfrida were 'finished' at
Signor Vicchi's establishment;" another, after putting Ruth through the
Catechism as to her private history, and torturing her with the most
minute inquiries as to her past, present, and future, coolly informed
her that "she had no children to send."

After hours of fruitless searching, Ruth, foot-sore and heart-sore,
returned to her lodgings. That day at dinner, some one of the boarders
spoke of a young girl, who had been taken to the Hospital in a
consumption, contracted by teaching a Primary School in ---- street.

The situation was vacant; perhaps she could get it; certainly her
education _ought_ to qualify her to satisfy any "School Committee."
Ruth inquired who they were; one was her cousin, Mr. Millet, the wooden
man; one was Mr. Develin, the literary bookseller; the two others were
strangers. Mr. Millet and Mr. Develin! and both aware how earnestly she
longed for employment! Ruth looked at her children; yes, for their sake
she would even go to the wooden man, and Mr. Develin, and ask if it were
not possible for her to obtain the vacant Primary School.



CHAPTER L.


Mr. Millet sat in his counting room, with his pen behind his ear,
examining his ledger. "Do?" said he concisely, by way of salutation, as
Ruth entered.

"I understand there is a vacancy in the 5th Ward Primary School,"
said Ruth; "can you tell me, as you are one of the Committee for that
district, if there is any prospect of my obtaining it, and how I shall
manage to do so."

"A-p-p-l-y," said Mr. Millet.

"When is the examination of applicants to take place?" asked Ruth.

"T-u-e-s-d-a-y," replied the statue.

"At what place?" asked Ruth.

"C-i-t-y--H-a-l-l," responded the wooden man, making an entry in his
ledger.

Ruth's heroic resolutions to ask him to use his influence in her behalf,
vanished into thin air, at this icy reserve; and, passing out into the
street, she bent her slow steps in the direction of Mr. Develin's. On
entering the door, she espied that gentleman through the glass door of
his counting-room, sitting in his leathern arm-chair, with his hands
folded, in an attitude of repose and meditation.

"Can I speak to you a moment?" said Ruth, lifting the latch of the door.

"Well--yes--certainly, Mrs. Hall," replied Mr. Develin, seizing a
package of letters; "it is an uncommon busy time with me, but yes,
certainly, if you have anything _particular_ to say."

Ruth mentioned in as few words as possible, the Primary School, and her
hopes of obtaining it, Mr. Develin, meanwhile, opening the letters and
perusing their contents. When she had finished, he said, taking his hat
to go out:

"I don't know but you'll stand as good a chance, Mrs. Hall, as anybody
else; you can apply. But you must excuse me, for I have an invoice of
books to look over, immediately."

Poor Ruth! And this was human nature, which, for so many sunny years of
prosperity, had turned to her only its _bright_ side! She was not to be
discouraged, however, and sent in her application.



CHAPTER LI.


Examination day came, and Ruth bent her determined steps to the City
Hall. The apartment designated was already crowded with waiting
applicants, who regarded, with jealous eye, each addition to their
number as so much dimunition of their own individual chance for success.

Ruth's cheeks grew hot, as their scrutinizing and unfriendly glances
were bent on her, and that feeling of utter desolation came over her,
which was always so overwhelming whenever she presented herself as a
suppliant for public favor. In truth, it was but a poor preparation for
the inquisitorial torture before her.

The applicants were called out, one by one, in alphabetical order;
Ruth inwardly blessing the early nativity of the letter H, for these
anticipatory-shower-bath meditations were worse to her than the shock
of a volley of chilling interrogations.

"Letter H."

Ruth rose with a flutter at her heart, and entered a huge,
barren-looking room, at the further end of which sat, in august state,
the dread committee. _Very_ respectable were the gentlemen of whom that
committee was composed; _respectable_ was written all over them, from
the crowns of their scholastic heads to the very tips of their polished
boots; and correct and methodical as a revised dictionary they sat, with
folded hands and spectacle-bestridden noses.

Ruth seated herself in the victim's chair, before this august body,
facing a flood of light from a large bay-window, that nearly
extinguished her eyes.

"What is your age?" asked the elder of the inquisitors.

Scratch went the extorted secret on the nib of the reporter's pen!

"Where was you educated?"

"Was Colburn, or Emerson, your teacher's standard for Arithmetic?"

"Did you cipher on a slate, or black-board?"

"Did you learn the multiplication table, skipping, or in order?"

"Was you taught Astronomy, or Philosophy, first?"

"Are you accustomed to a quill, or a steel-pen? lines, or blank-paper,
in writing?"

"Did you use Smith's, or Jones' Writing-Book?"

"Did you learn Geography by Maps, or Globes?"

"Globes?" asked Mr. Squizzle, repeating Ruth's answer; "possible?"

"They use Globes at the celebrated Jerrold Institute," remarked Mr.
Fizzle.

"Impossible!" retorted Mr. Squizzle, growing plethoric in the face;
"Globes, sir, are exploded; no institution of any note uses Globes, sir.
I know it."

"And I know you labor under a mistake," said Fizzle, elevating his
chin, and folding his arms pugnaciously over his striped vest. "I am
acquainted with one of the teachers in that highly-respectable school."

"And I, sir," said Squizzle, "am well acquainted with the Principal,
who is a man of too much science, sir, to use globes, sir, to teach
geography, sir."

At this, Mr. Fizzle settled down behind his dicky with a quenched air;
and the very important question being laid on the shelf, Mr. Squizzle,
handing Ruth a copy of "Pollock's Course of Time," requested her to read
a marked passage, indicated by a perforation of his pen-knife. Poor Ruth
stood about as fair a chance of proving her ability to read poetry, as
would Fanny Kemble to take up a play, hap-hazard, at one of her dramatic
readings, without a previous opportunity to gather up the author's
connecting thread. Our heroine, however, went through the motions. This
farce concluded, Ruth was dismissed into the apartment in waiting, to
make room for the other applicants, each of whom returned with red
faces, moist foreheads, and a "Carry-me-back-to-Old-Virginia" air.

An hour's added suspense, and the four owners of the four pair of
inquisitorial spectacles marched, in procession, into the room in
waiting, and wheeling "face about," with military precision, thumped on
the table, and ejaculated:

"Attention!"

Instantaneously, five-and-twenty pair of eyes, black, blue, brown, and
gray, were riveted; and each owner being supplied with pen, ink, and
paper, was allowed ten minutes (with the four-pair of spectacles
levelled full at her) to express her thoughts on the following subject:
"Was Christopher Columbus standing up, or sitting down, when he
discovered America?"

The four watches of the committee men being drawn out, pencils began to
scratch; and the terminus of the allotted minutes, in the middle of a
sentence, was the place for each inspired improvisatrice to stop.

These hasty effusions being endorsed by appending each writer's
signature, new paper was furnished, and "A-t-t-e-n-t-i-o-n!" was again
ejaculated by a short, pursy individual, who seemed to be struggling to
get out of his coat by climbing over his shirt collar. Little armies of
figures were then rattled off from the end of this gentleman's tongue,
with "Peter Piper Pipkin" velocity, which the anxious pen-women in
waiting were expected to arrest in flying, and have the "sum total of
the hull," as one of the erudite committee observed, already added up,
when the illustrious arithmetician stopped to take wind.

This being the finale, the ladies were sapiently informed that, as only
_one_ school mistress was needed, only _one_ out of the large number of
applicants could be elected, and that "the Committee would now sit on
them."

At this gratifying intelligence, the ladies, favored by a plentiful
shower of rain, betook themselves to their respective homes;
four-and-twenty, God help them! to dream of a reprieve from starvation,
which, notwithstanding the six-hours' purgatory they had passed through,
was destined to elude their eager grasp.

The votes were cast. Ruth was _not_ elected. She had been educated,
(whether fortunately or unfortunately, let the sequel of my story
decide,) at a school where "Webster" was used instead of "Worcester."
The greatest gun on the Committee was a Worcesterite. Mr. Millet and Mr.
Develin always followed in the wake of _great_ guns. Mr. Millet and Mr.
Develin voted _against_ Ruth.



CHAPTER LII.


It was four o'clock in the afternoon, and very tranquil and quiet at the
Skiddy's. A tidy, rosy-cheeked young woman sat rocking the deserted
little Tommy to sleep, to the tune of "I've been roaming." The hearth
was neatly swept, the tin and pewter vessels hung, brightly polished,
from their respective shelves. The Maltese cat lay winking in the middle
of the floor, watching the play of a stray sunbeam, which had found its
way over the shed and into the small window. Ruth and her children were
quiet, as usual, in their gloomy back chamber. Mr. Skiddy, a few blocks
off, sat perched on a high stool, in the counting-room of Messrs. Fogg &
Co.

Noiselessly the front-door opened, and the veritable Mrs. Skiddy,
followed by Johnny and Sammy, crept through the front entry and entered,
unannounced, into the kitchen. The rosy-cheeked young woman looked at
Mrs. Skiddy, Mrs. Skiddy looked at her, and Tommy looked at both of
them. Mrs. Skiddy then boxed the rosy-cheeked young woman's ears,
and snatching the bewildered baby from her grasp, ejected her, with
lightning velocity, through the street-door, and turned the key. It
was all the work of an instant. Sammy and Johnny were used to domestic
whirlwinds, so they were not surprised into any little remarks or
exclamations, but the cat, less philosophical, laid back her ears,
and made for the ash-hole; while Mrs. Skiddy, seating herself in the
rocking-chair, unhooked her traveling dress and reinstated the delighted
Tommy into all his little infantile privileges.

Mr. Skiddy had now been a whole week a widower; time enough for a man in
that condition to grow philosophical. In fact, Skiddy was content. He
had tasted the sweets of liberty, and he liked them. The baby, poor
little soul, tired of remonstrance, had given out from sheer weariness,
and took resignedly as a little christian to his pewter porringer. Yes,
Skiddy liked it; he could be an hour behind his time without dodging, on
his return, a rattling storm of abuse and crockery; he could spend an
evening out, without drawing a map of his travels before starting.
On the afternoon in question he felt particularly felicitous; first,
because he had dined off fried liver and potatoes, a dish which he
particularly affected, and which, on that very account, he could seldom
get in his own domicil; secondly, he was engaged to go that very evening
with his old love, Nancy Spriggins, to see the "Panorama of Niagara;"
and he had left orders with Betty to have tea half an hour earlier in
consequence, and to be sure and iron and air his killing plaid vest by
seven o'clock.

As the afternoon waned, Skiddy grew restless; he made wrong entries in
the ledger; dipped his pen into the sand-box instead of the inkstand,
and several times said "Yes, dear," to his employer, Mr. Fogg, of Fogg
Square.

Six o'clock came at last, and the emancipated Skiddy, turning his back
on business, walked towards home, in peace with himself, and in love
with Nancy Spriggins. On the way he stopped to purchase a bouquet of
roses and geraniums with which to regale that damsel's olfactories
during the evening's entertainment.

Striding through the front entry, like a man who felt himself to be
master of his own house, Skiddy hastened to the kitchen to expedite tea.
If he was not prepared for Mrs. Skiddy's departure, still less was he
prepared for her return, especially with that tell-tale bouquet in
his hand. But, like all other hen-pecked husbands, on the back of the
scape-goat _Cunning_, he fled away from the uplifted lash.

"My _dear_ Matilda," exclaimed Skiddy, "my own wife, how _could_ you be
so cruel? Every day since your departure, hoping to find you here on my
return from the store, I have purchased a bouquet like this to present
you. My dear wife, let by-gones _be_ by-gones; my love for you is
imperishable."

"V-e-r-y good, Mr. Skiddy," said his wife, accepting Nancy Spriggins's
bouquet, with a queenly nod; "and now let us have no more talk of
_California_, if you please, Mr. Skiddy."

"Certainly not, my darling; I was a brute, a beast, a wretch, a
Hottentot, a cannibal, a vampire--to distress you so. Dear little Tommy!
how pleasant it seems to see him in your arms again."

"Yes," replied Mrs. Skiddy, "I was not five minutes in sending that
red-faced German girl spinning through the front-door; I hope you have
something decent for us to eat, Skiddy. Johnny and Sammy are pretty
sharp-set; why don't you come and speak to your father, boys!"

The young gentlemen thus summoned, slowly came forward, looking
altogether undecided whether it was best to notice their father or not.
A ginger-cake, however, and a slice of buttered bread, plentifully
powdered with sugar, wonderfully assisted them in coming to a decision.
As to Nancy Spriggins, poor soul, she pulled off her gloves, and pulled
them on, that evening, and looked at her watch, and looked up street and
down street, and declared, as "the clock told the hour for retiring,"
that man was a ----, a ----, in short, that woman was born to trouble,
as the sparks are--to fly away.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Mrs. Skiddy resumed her household duties with as much coolness as if
there had been no interregnum, and received the boarders at tea that
night, just as if she had parted with them that day at dinner. Skiddy
was apparently as devoted as ever; the uninitiated boarders opened their
eyes in bewildered wonder; and _triumph_ sat inscribed on the arch of
Mrs. Skiddy's imposing Roman nose.

The domestic horizon still continued cloudless at the next morning's
breakfast. After the boarders had left the table, the market prices of
beef, veal, pork, cutlets, chops, and steaks, were discussed as usual,
the bill of fare for the day was drawn up by Mrs. Skiddy, and her
obedient spouse departed to execute her market orders.



CHAPTER LIII.


"Well, I hope you have been comfortable in my absence, Mrs. Hall," said
Mrs. Skiddy, after despatching her husband to market, as she seated
herself in the chair nearest the door; "ha! ha! John and I may call it
quits now. He is a very good fellow--John; except these little tantrums
he gets into once in a while; the only way is, to put a stop to it at
once, and let him see who is master. John never will set a river on
fire; there's no sort of use in his trying to take the reins--the man
wasn't born for it. I'm too sharp for him, that's a fact. Ha! ha! poor
Johnny! I _must_ tell you what a trick I played him about two years
after our marriage.

"You must know he had to go away on business for Fogg & Co., to collect
bills, or something of that sort. Well, he made a great fuss about it,
as husbands who like to go away from home always do; and said he should
'pine for the sight of me, and never know a happy hour till he saw me
again,' and all that; and finally declared he would not go, without I
would let him take my Daguerreotype. Of course, I knew that was all
humbug; but I consented. The likeness was pronounced 'good,' and placed
_by me_ in his travelling trunk, when I packed his clothes. Well, he was
gone a month, and when he came back, he told me (great fool) what a
comfort my Daguerreotype was to him, and how he had looked at it twenty
times a day, and kissed it as many more; whereupon I went to his trunk,
and opening it, took out the case and showed it to him--_without the
plate_, which I had taken care to slip out of the frame just before he
started, and which he had never found out! That's a specimen of John
Skiddy!--and John Skiddy is a fair specimen of the rest of his sex, let
me tell you, Mrs. Hall. Well, of course he looked sheepish enough; and
now, whenever I want to take the nonsense out of him, all I have to do
is to point to that Daguerreotype case, which I keep lying on the mantel
on purpose. When a woman is married, Mrs. Hall, she must make up her
mind either to manage, or to be managed; _I_ prefer to manage," said the
amiable Mrs. Skiddy; "and I flatter myself John understands it by this
time. But, dear me, I can't stand here prating to you all day. I must
look round and see what mischief has been done in my absence, by that
lazy-looking red-faced German girl," and Mrs. Skiddy laughed heartily,
as she related how she had sent her spinning through the front door the
night before.

Half the forenoon was occupied by Mrs. Skiddy in counting up spoons,
forks, towels, and baby's pinafores, to see if they had sustained loss
or damage during her absence.

"Very odd dinner don't come," said she, consulting the kitchen clock;
"it is high time that beef was on, roasting."

It _was_ odd--and odder still that Skiddy had not appeared to tell her
_why_ the dinner didn't come. Mrs. Skiddy wasted no time in words about
it. No; she seized her bonnet, and went immediately to Fogg & Co.,
to get some tidings of him; they were apparently quite as much at a
loss as herself to account for Skiddy's non-appearance. She was just
departing, when one of the sub-clerks, whom the unfortunate Skiddy had
once snubbed, whispered a word in her ear, the effect of which was
instantaneous. Did she let the grass grow under her feet till she
tracked Skiddy to "the wharf," and boarded the "Sea-Gull," bound for
California, and brought the crestfallen man triumphantly back to his
domicil, amid convulsions of laughter from the amused captain and his
crew? No.

"There, now," said his amiable spouse, untying her bonnet, "there's
_another_ flash in the pan, Skiddy. Anybody who thinks to circumvent
Matilda Maria Skiddy, must get up early in the morning, and find
themselves too late at that. Now hold this child," dumping the doomed
baby into his lap, "while I comb my hair. Goodness knows you weren't
worth bringing back; but when I set out to have my own way, Mr. Skiddy,
Mount Vesuvius shan't stop me."

Skiddy tended the baby without a remonstrance; he perfectly understood,
that for a probationary time he should be put "on the limits," the
street-door being the boundary line. He heaved no sigh when his coat and
hat, with the rest of his wearing apparel, were locked up, and the key
buried in the depths of his wife's pocket. He played with Tommy, and
made card-houses for Sammy and Johnny, wound several tangled skeins of
silk for "Maria Matilda," mended a broken button on the closet door,
replaced a missing knob on one of the bureau drawers, and appeared to be
in as resigned and proper a frame of mind as such a perfidious wretch
could be expected to be in.

Two or three weeks passed in this state of incarceration, during which
the errand-boy of Fogg & Co. had been repeatedly informed by Mrs.
Skiddy, that the doctor hoped Mr. Skiddy would soon be sufficiently
convalescent to attend to business. As to Skiddy, he continued at
intervals to shed crocodile tears over his past short-comings, or rather
his short-_goings_! In consequence of this apparently submissive frame
of mind, he, one fine morning, received total absolution from Mrs.
Skiddy, and leave to go to the store; which Skiddy peremptorily
declined, desiring, as he said, to test the sincerity of his repentance
by a still longer period of probation.

"Don't be a fool, Skiddy," said Maria Matilda, pointing to the
Daguerreotype case, and then crowding his beaver down over his eyes;
"don't be a fool. Make a B line for the store, now, and tell Fogg you've
had an attack of _room-a-tism_;" and Maria Matilda laughed at her
wretched pun.

Skiddy obeyed. No Uriah Heep could have out-done him in "'umbleness," as
he crept up the long street, until a friendly corner hid him from the
lynx eyes of Maria Matilda. Then "Richard was himself again"! Drawing
a long breath, our flying Mercury whizzed past the mile-stones, and,
before sun-down of the same day, was under full sail for California.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Just one half hour our Napoleon in petticoats spent in reflection, after
being satisfied that Skiddy was really "on the deep blue sea." In one
day she had cleared her house of _boarders_, and reserving one room for
herself and children, filled all the other apartments with _lodgers_;
who paid her good prices, and taking their meals down town, made her no
trouble beyond the care of their respective rooms.

About a year after a letter came from Skiddy. He was "disgusted" with
ill-luck at gold-digging, and ill-luck everywhere else; he had been
"burnt out," and "robbed," and everything else but murdered; and
"'umbly" requested his dear Maria Matilda to send him the "passage-money
to return home."

Mrs. Skiddy's picture should have been taken at that moment! My pen
fails! Drawing from her pocket a purse well filled with her own honest
earnings, she chinked its contents at some phantom shape discernible
to her eyes alone; while through her set teeth hissed out, like ten
thousand serpents, the word

"N--e--v--e--r!"



CHAPTER LIV.


"What is it on the gate? Spell it, mother," said Katy, looking wistfully
through the iron fence at the terraced banks, smoothly-rolled gravel
walks, plats of flowers, and grape-trellised arbors; "what is it on the
gate, mother?"

"'Insane Hospital,' dear; a place for crazy people."

"Want to walk round, ma'am?" asked the gate-keeper, as Katy poked
her little head in; "can, if you like." Little Katy's eyes pleaded
eloquently; flowers were to her another name for happiness, and Ruth
passed in.

"I should like to live here, mamma," said Katy.

Ruth shuddered, and pointed to a pale face pressed close against the
grated window. Fair rose the building in its architectural proportions;
the well-kept lawn was beautiful to the eye; but, alas! there was
helpless age, whose only disease was too long a lease of life for
greedy heirs. There, too, was the fragile wife, to whom _love_ was
breath--being!--forgotten by the world and him in whose service her
bloom had withered, insane--only in that her love had outlived his
patience.

"Poor creatures!" exclaimed Ruth, as they peered out from one window
after another. "Have you had many deaths here?" asked she of the
gate-keeper.

"Some, ma'am. There is one corpse in the house now; a married lady,
Mrs. Leon."

"Good heavens!" exclaimed Ruth, "my friend Mary."

"Died yesterday, ma'am; her husband left her here for her health, while
he went to Europe."

"Can I see the Superintendent," asked Ruth; "I must speak to him."

Ruth followed the gate-keeper up the ample steps into a wide hall, and
from thence into a small parlor; after waiting what seemed to her an
age of time, Mr. Tibbetts, the Superintendent, entered. He was a tall,
handsome man, between forty and fifty, with a very imposing air and
address.

"I am pained to learn," said Ruth, "that a friend of mine, Mrs. Leon,
lies dead here; can I see the body?"

"Are you a relative of that lady?" asked Mr. Tibbetts, with a keen
glance at Ruth.

"No," replied Ruth, "but she was very dear to me. The last time I saw
her, not many months since, she was in tolerable health. Has she been
long with you, Sir?"

"About two months," replied Mr. Tibbetts; "she was hopelessly crazy,
refused food entirely, so that we were obliged to force it. Her husband,
who is an intimate friend of mine, left her under my care, and went to
the Continent. A very fine man, Mr. Leon."

Ruth did not feel inclined to respond to this remark, but repeated her
request to see Mary.

"It is against the rules of our establishment to permit this to any but
relatives," said Mr. Tibbetts.

"I should esteem it a great favor if you would break through your rules
in my case," replied Ruth; "it will be a great consolation to me to have
seen her once more;" and her voice faltered.

The appeal was made so gently, yet so firmly, that Mr. Tibbetts
reluctantly yielded.

The matron of the establishment, Mrs. Bunce, (whose advent was heralded
by the clinking of a huge bunch of keys at her waist,) soon after came
in. Mrs. Bunce was gaunt, sallow and bony, with restless, yellowish,
glaring black eyes, very much resembling those of a cat in the dark; her
motions were quick, brisk, and angular; her voice loud, harsh, and wiry.
Ruth felt an instantaneous aversion to her; which was not lessened by
Mrs. Bunce asking, as they passed through the parlor-door:

"Fond of looking at corpses, ma'am? I've seen a great many in my day;
I've laid out more'n twenty people, first and last, with my own hands.
Relation of Mrs. Leon's, perhaps?" said she, curiously peering under
Ruth's bonnet. "Ah, only a friend?"

"This way, if you please, ma'am;" and on they went, through one
corridor, then another, the massive doors swinging heavily to on their
hinges, and fastening behind them as they closed.

"Hark!" said Ruth, with a quick, terrified look, "what's that?"

"Oh, nothing," replied the matron, "only a crazy woman in that room
yonder, screaming for her child. Her husband ran away from her and
carried off her child with him, to spite her, and now she fancies every
footstep she hears is his. Visitors always thinks she screams awful. She
can't harm you, ma'am," said the matron, mistaking the cause of Ruth's
shudder, "for she is chained. She went to law about the child, and the
law, you see, as it generally is, was on the man's side; and it just
upset her. She's a sight of trouble to manage. If she was to catch sight
of your little girl out there in the garden, she'd spring at her through
them bars like a panther; but we don't have to whip her _very_ often."

"Down here," said the matron, taking the shuddering Ruth by the hand,
and descending a flight of stone steps, into a dark passage-way. "Tired
arn't you?"

"Wait a bit, please," said Ruth, leaning against the stone wall, for
her limbs were trembling so violently that she could scarcely bear her
weight.

"_Now_," said she, (after a pause,) with a firmer voice and step.

"This way," said Mrs. Bunce, advancing towards a rough deal box which
stood on a table in a niche of the cellar, and setting a small lamp upon
it; "she didn't look no better than that, ma'am, for a long while before
she died."

Ruth gave one hurried glance at the corpse, and buried her face in her
hands. Well might she fail to recognize in that emaciated form, those
sunken eyes and hollow cheeks, the beautiful Mary Leon. Well might
she shudder, as the gibbering screams of the maniacs over head echoed
through the stillness of that cold, gloomy vault.

"Were you with her at the last?" asked Ruth of the matron, wiping away
her tears.

"No," replied she; "the afternoon she died she said, 'I want to be
alone,' and, not thinking her near her end, I took my work and sat just
outside the door. I looked in once, about half an hour after, but she
lay quietly asleep, with her cheek in her hand,--so. By-and-bye I
thought I would speak to her, so I went in, and saw her lying just as
she did when I looked at her before. I spoke to her, but she did not
answer me; she was dead, ma'am."

                 *       *       *       *       *

O, how mournfully sounded in Ruth's ears those plaintive words, "I want
to be alone." Poor Mary! aye, better even in death 'alone,' than gazed
at by careless, hireling eyes, since he who should have closed those
drooping lids, had wearied of their faded light.

"Did she speak of no one?" asked Ruth; "mention no one?"

"No--yes; I recollect now that she said something about calling Ruth; I
didn't pay any attention, for they don't know what they are saying, you
know. She scribbled something, too, on a bit of paper; I found it under
her pillow, when I laid her out. I shouldn't wonder if it was in my
pocket now; I haven't thought of it since. Ah! here it is," said Mrs.
Bunce, as she handed the slip of paper to Ruth.

It ran thus:--"I am not crazy, Ruth, no, no--but I shall be; the air of
this place stifles me; I grow weaker--weaker. I cannot die here; for the
love of heaven, dear Ruth, come and take me away."

                 *       *       *       *       *

"Only three mourners,--a woman and two little girls," exclaimed a
by-stander, as Ruth followed Mary Leon to her long home.



CHAPTER LV.


The sudden change in Mrs. Skiddy's matrimonial prospects necessitated
Ruth to seek other quarters. With a view to still more rigid economy,
she hired a room without board, in the lower part of the city.

Mrs. Waters, her new landlady, was one of that description of females,
whose vision is bounded by a mop, scrubbing-brush, and dust-pan; who
repudiate rainy washing days; whose hearth, Jowler, on the stormiest
night, would never venture near without a special permit, and whose
husband and children speak under their breath on baking and cleaning
days. Mrs. Waters styled herself a female physician. She kept a sort of
witch's cauldron constantly boiling over the fire, in which seethed all
sorts of "mints" and "yarbs," and from which issued what she called
a "potecary odor." Mrs. Waters, when not engaged in stirring this
cauldron, or in her various house-keeping duties, alternated her leisure
in reading medical books, attending medical lectures, and fondling a
pet skull, which lay on the kitchen-dresser.

Various little boxes of brown-bread-looking pills ornamented the upper
shelf, beside a row of little dropsical chunky junk bottles, whose
labels would have puzzled the most erudite M. D. who ever received a
diploma. Mrs. Waters felicitated herself on knowing how the outer and
inner man of every son of Adam was put together, and considered the
times decidedly "out of joint;" inasmuch that she, Mrs. Waters, had not
been called upon by her country to fill some medical professorship.

In person Mrs. Waters was barber-pole-ish and ram-rod-y, and her taste
in dress running mostly to stringy fabrics, assisted the bolster-y
impression she created; her hands and wrists bore a strong resemblance
to the yellow claws of defunct chickens, which children play "scare"
with about Thanksgiving time; her feet were of turtle flatness, and her
eyes--if you ever provoked a cat up to the bristling and scratching
point, you may possibly form an idea of them.

Mrs. Waters condescended to allow Ruth to keep the quart of milk and
loaf of bread, (which was to serve for her bill of fare for every day's
three meals,) on a swing shelf in a corner of the cellar. As Ruth's room
was at the top of the house, it was somewhat of a journey to travel up
and down, and the weather was too warm to keep it up stairs; to her
dismay she soon found that the cellar-floor was generally more or less
flooded with water, and the sudden change from the heated air of her
attic to the dampness of the cellar, brought on a racking cough, which
soon told upon her health. Upon the first symptom of it, Mrs. Waters
seized a box of pills and hurried to her room, assuring her that it was
"a sure cure, and only three shillings a box."

"Thank you," said Ruth; "but it is my rule never to take medicine
unless--"

"Oh, oh," said Mrs. Waters, bridling up; "I see--unless it is ordered by
a physician, you were going to say; perhaps you don't know that _I_ am
a physician--none the worse for being a female. I have investigated
things; I have dissected several cats, and sent in an analysis of them
to the Medical Journal; it has never been published, owing, probably, to
the editor being out of town. If you will take six of these pills every
other night," said the doctress, laying the box on the table, "it will
cure your cough; it is only three shillings. I will take the money now,
or charge it in your bill."

"Three shillings!" Ruth was aghast; she might as well have asked her
three dollars. If there was anything Ruth was afraid of, it was Mrs.
Waters' style of woman; a loaded cannon, or a regiment of dragoons,
would have had few terrors in comparison. But the music must be faced;
so, hoping to avoid treading on her landlady's professional toes, Ruth
said, "I think I'll try first what dieting will do, Mrs. Waters."

The door instantly banged to with a crash, as the owner and vender
of the pills passed out. The next day Mrs. Waters drew off a little
superfluous feminine bile, by announcing to Ruth, with a malignity
worthy of her sex, "that she forgot to mention when she let her
lodgings, that she should expect her to scour the stairs she traveled
over, at least once a week."



CHAPTER LVI.


It was a sultry morning in July. Ruth had risen early, for her cough
seemed more troublesome in a reclining posture. "I wonder what that
noise can be?" said she to herself; whir--whir--whir, it went, all day
long in the attic overhead. She knew that Mrs. Waters had one other
lodger beside herself, an elderly gentleman by the name of Bond, who
cooked his own food, and whom she often met on the stairs, coming up
with a pitcher of water, or a few eggs in a paper bag, or a pie that he
had bought of Mr. Flake, at the little black grocery-shop at the corner.
On these occasions he always stepped aside, and with a deferential bow
waited for Ruth to pass. He was a thin, spare man, slightly bent; his
hair and whiskers curiously striped like a zebra, one lock being jet
black, while the neighboring one was as distinct a white. His dress was
plain, but very neat and tidy. He never seemed to have any business
out-doors, as he stayed in his room all day, never leaving it at all
till dark, when he paced up and down, with his hands behind him, before
the house. "Whir--whir--whir." It was early sunrise; but Ruth had heard
that odd noise for two hours at least. What _could_ it mean? Just then a
carrier passed on the other side of the street with the morning papers,
and slipped one under the crack of the house door opposite.

A thought! why could not Ruth write for the papers? How very odd it had
never occurred to her before? Yes, write for the papers--why not? She
remembered that while at boarding-school, an editor of a paper in the
same town used often to come in and take down her compositions in
short-hand as she read them aloud, and transfer them to the columns of
his paper. She certainly _ought_ to write better now than she did when
an inexperienced girl. She would begin that very night; but where to
make a beginning? who would publish her articles? how much would they
pay her? to whom should she apply first? There was her brother Hyacinth,
now the prosperous editor of the Irving Magazine; oh, if he would only
employ her? Ruth was quite sure she could write as well as some of his
correspondents, whom he had praised with no niggardly pen. She would
prepare samples to send immediately, announcing her intention, and
offering them for his acceptance. This means of support would be so
congenial, so absorbing. At the needle one's mind could still be
brooding over sorrowful thoughts.

Ruth counted the days and hours impatiently, as she waited for an
answer. Hyacinth surely would not refuse _her_ when in almost every
number of his magazine he was announcing some new contributor; or, if
_he_ could not employ her _himself_, he surely would be brotherly enough
to point out to her some one of the many avenues so accessible to a man
of extensive newspaperial and literary acquaintance. She would so gladly
support herself, so cheerfully toil day and night, if need be, could she
only win an independence; and Ruth recalled with a sigh Katy's last
visit to her father, and then she rose and walked the floor in her
impatience; and then, her restless spirit urging her on to her fate, she
went again to the post office to see if there were no letter. How long
the clerk made her wait! Yes, there _was_ a letter for her, and in her
brother's hand-writing too. Oh, how long since she had seen it!

Ruth heeded neither the jostling of office-boys, porters, or draymen,
as she held out her eager hand for the letter. Thrusting it hastily in
her pocket, she hurried in breathless haste back to her lodgings. The
contents were as follows:

  "I have looked over the pieces you sent me, Ruth. It is very
  evident that writing never can be _your_ forte; you have no talent
  that way. You may possibly be employed by some inferior newspapers,
  but be assured your articles never will be heard of out of
  your own little provincial city. For myself I have plenty of
  contributors, nor do I know of any of my literary acquaintances
  who would employ you. I would advise you, therefore, to seek some
  _unobtrusive_ employment. Your brother,

  "HYACINTH ELLET."

A bitter smile struggled with the hot tear that fell upon Ruth's cheek.
"I have tried the unobtrusive employment," said Ruth; "the wages are six
cents a day, Hyacinth;" and again the bitter smile disfigured her gentle
lip.

"No talent!"

"At another tribunal than his will I appeal."

"Never be heard of out of my own little provincial city!" The cold,
contemptuous tone stung her.

"But they shall be heard of;" and Ruth leaped to her feet. "Sooner than
he dreams of, too. I _can_ do it, I _feel_ it, I _will_ do it," and she
closed her lips firmly; "but there will be a desperate struggle first,"
and she clasped her hands over her heart as if it had already commenced;
"there will be scant meals, and sleepless nights, and weary days, and a
throbbing brow, and an aching heart; there will be the chilling tone,
the rude repulse; there will be ten backward steps to one forward.
_Pride_ must sleep! but--" and Ruth glanced at her children--"it shall
be _done_. They shall be proud of their mother. _Hyacinth shall yet be
proud to claim his sister._"

"What is it, mamma?" asked Katy, looking wonderingly at the strange
expression of her mother's face.

"What is it, my darling?" and Ruth caught up the child with convulsive
energy; "what is it? only that when you are a woman you shall remember
this day, my little pet;" and as she kissed Katy's upturned brow a
bright spot burned on her cheek, and her eye glowed like a star.



CHAPTER LVII.


"Doctor?" said Mrs. Hall, "put down that book, will you? I want to talk
to you a bit; there you've sat these three hours, without stirring,
except to brush the flies off your nose, and my tongue actually aches
keeping still."

"Sh-sh-sh," said the doctor, running his forefinger along to guide
his purblind eyes safely to the end of the paragraph. "Sh-sh. 'It--is
es-ti-ma-ted by Captain Smith--that--there--are--up'ards--of--ten--
hundred--human--critters--in--the--Nor-West--sett-le-ment.' Well--Mis.
Hall--well--" said the doctor, laying a faded ribbon mark between the
leaves of the book, and pushing his spectacles back on his forehead,
"what's to pay now? what do you want of me?"

"I've a great mind as ever I had to eat," said the old lady, pettishly,
"to knit twice round the heel of this stocking, before I answer you;
what do you think I care about Captain Smith? Travelers always lie; it
is a part of their trade, and if they don't it's neither here nor there
to me. I wish that book was in the Red Sea."

"I thought you didn't want it _read_," retorted the irritating old
doctor.

"Now I suppose you call that funny," said the old lady. "I call it
simply ridiculous for a man of your years to play on words in such a
frivolous manner. What I was going to say was this, _i. e._ if I can get
a chance to say it, if _you_ have given up all idea of getting Harry's
children, _I_ haven't, and now is the time to apply for Katy again; for,
according to all accounts, Ruth is getting along poorly enough."

"How did you hear?" asked the doctor.

"Why, my milliner, Miss Tiffkins, has a nephew who tends in a little
grocery-shop near where Ruth boards, and he says that she buys a smaller
loaf every time she comes to the store, and that the milkman told him
that she only took a pint of milk a day of him now; then Katy has not
been well, and what she did for doctors and medicines is best known to
herself; she's so independent that she never would complain if she had
to eat paving stones. The best way to get the child will be to ask her
here on a visit, and say we want to cure her up a little with country
air. You understand? that will throw dust in Ruth's eyes, and then we
will take our own time about letting her go back you know. Miss Tiffkins
says her nephew says that people who come into the grocery-shop are
very curious to know who Ruth is; and old Mr. Flake, who keeps it, says
that it wouldn't hurt her any, if she is a lady, to stop and talk a
little, like the rest of his customers; he says, too, that her children
are as close-mouthed as their mother, for when he just asked Katy what
business her father used to do, and what supported them now he was dead,
and if they lived all the time on bread and milk, and a few such
little questions, Katy answered, 'Mamma does not allow me to talk
to strangers,' and went out of the shop, with her loaf of bread, as
dignified as a little duchess."

"Like mother, like child," said the doctor; "proud and poor, proud and
poor; that tells the whole story. Well, shall I write to Ruth, Mis.
Hall, about Katy?"

"No," said the old lady, "let me manage that; you will upset the whole
business if you do. I've a plan in my head, and to-morrow, after
breakfast, I'll take the old chaise, and go in after Katy."

In pursuance of this plan, the old lady, on the following day, climbed
up into an old-fashioned chaise, and turned the steady old horse's nose
in the direction of the city; jerking at the reins, and clucking and
gee-ing him up, after the usual awkward fashion of sexegenarian female
drivers. Using Miss Tiffkin's land-mark, the little black grocery-shop,
for a guide-board, she soon discovered Ruth's abode; and so well did she
play her part in commiserating Ruth's misfortunes, and Katy's sickly
appearance, that the widow's kind heart was immediately tortured with
the most unnecessary self-reproaches, which prepared the way for an
acceptance of her invitation for Katy "for a week or two;" great
promises, meanwhile, being held out to the child of "a little pony to
ride," and various other tempting lures of the same kind. Still little
Katy hesitated, clinging tightly to her mother's dress, and looking,
with her clear, searching eyes, into her grandmother's face, in a way
that would have embarrassed a less artful manoeuverer. The old lady
understood the glance, and put it on file, to be attended to at her
leisure; it being no part of her present errand to play the unamiable.
Little Katy, finally won over, consented to make the visit, and the old
chaise was again set in motion for home.



CHAPTER LVIII.


"How d'ye do, Ruth?" asked Mr. Ellet, the next morning, as he ran
against Ruth in the street; "glad you have taken my advice, and done a
sensible thing at last."

"I don't know what you mean," answered Ruth.

"Why, the doctor told me yesterday that you had given Katy up to them,
to bring up; you would have done better if you had sent off Nettie too."

"I have not 'given Katy up,'" said Ruth, starting and blushing deeply;
"and they could not have understood it so; she has only gone on a visit
of a fortnight, to recruit a little."

"Pooh--pooh!" replied Mr. Ellet. "The thing is quietly over with; now
don't make a fuss. The old folks expect to keep her. They wrote to me
about it, and I approved of it. It's the best thing all round; and, as I
just said, it would have been better still if Nettie had gone, too. Now
don't make a fool of yourself; you can go once in awhile, I suppose, to
see the child."

"_How_ can I go?" asked Ruth, looking her father calmly in the face; "it
costs fifty cents every trip, by railroad, and you know I have not the
money."

"That's for you to decide," answered the father coldly; "I can't be
bothered about such trifles. It is the way you always do, Ruth, whenever
I see you; but it is time I was at my office. Don't make a fool of
yourself, now; mind what I tell you, and let well alone."

"Father," said Ruth; "father--"

"Can't stop--can't stop," said Mr. Ellet, moving rapidly down street, to
get out of his daughter's way.

"Can it be possible," thought Ruth, looking after him, "that he could
connive at such duplicity? Was the old lady's sympathy a mere stratagem
to work upon my feelings? How unnecessarily I reproached myself with my
supposed injustice to her? Can _good_ people do such things? Is religion
only a fable? No, no; 'let God be true, and every man a liar.'"



CHAPTER LIX


"Is this 'The Daily Type' office?" asked Ruth of a printer's boy, who
was rushing down five steps at a time, with an empty pail in his hand.

"All you have to do is to ask, mem. You've got a tongue in your head,
haven't ye? women folks generally has," said the little ruffian.

Ruth, obeying this civil invitation, knocked gently at the office door.
A whir of machinery, and a bad odor of damp paper and cigar smoke,
issued through the half-open crack.

"I shall have to walk in," said Ruth, "they never will hear my feeble
knock amid all this racket and bustle;" and pushing the door ajar, she
found herself in the midst of a group of smokers, who, in slippered
feet, and with heels higher than their heads, were whiffing and
laughing, amid the pauses of conversation, most uproariously. Ruth's
face crimsoned as heels and cigars remained in _statu quo_, and her
glance was met by a rude stare.

"I called to see if you would like a new contributor to your paper,"
said Ruth; "if so, I will leave a few samples of my articles for your
inspection."

"What do you say, Bill?" said the person addressed; "drawer full as
usual, I suppose, isn't it? more chaff than wheat, too, I'll swear;
don't want any, ma'am; come now, Jo, let's hear the rest of that story;
shut the door, ma'am, if you please."

                 *       *       *       *       *

"Are you the editor of the 'Parental Guide'?" said Ruth, to a thin,
cadaverous-looking gentleman, in a white neck-cloth, and green
spectacles, whose editorial sanctum was not far from the office she
had just left.

"I am."

"Do you employ contributors for your paper?"

"Sometimes."

"Shall I leave you this MS. for your inspection, sir?"

"Just as you please."

"Have you a copy of your paper here, sir, from which I could judge what
style of articles you prefer?"

At this, the gentleman addressed raised his eyes for the first time,
wheeled his editorial arm-chair round, facing Ruth, and peering over his
green spectacles, remarked:

"Our paper, madam, is most em-phat-i-cal-ly a paper devoted to the
interests of religion; no frivolous jests, no love-sick ditties, no
fashionable sentimentalism, finds a place in its columns. This is a
serious world, madam, and it ill becomes those who are born to die, to
go dancing through it. Josephus remarks that the Saviour of the world
was never known to smile. _I_ seldom smile. Are you a religious woman,
madam?"

"I endeavor to become so," answered Ruth.

"V-e-r-y good; what sect?"

"Presbyterian."

At this the white neck-clothed gentleman moved back his chair: "Wrong,
madam, all wrong; I was educated by the best of fathers, but he was
_not_ a Presbyterian; his son is not a Presbyterian; his son's paper
sets its face like a flint against that heresy; no, madam, we shall
have no occasion for your contributions; a hope built on a Presbyterian
foundation, is built on the sand. Good morning, madam."

                 *       *       *       *       *

Did Ruth despair? No! but the weary little feet which for so many hours
had kept pace with hers, needed a reprieve. Little Nettie must go home,
and Ruth must read the office signs as she went along, to prepare for
new attempts on the morrow.

To-morrow? Would a brighter morrow _ever_ come? Ruth thought of her
children, and said again with a strong heart--_it will_; and taking
little Netty upon her lap she divided with her their frugal supper--a
scanty bowl of bread and milk.

Ruth could not but acknowledge to herself that she had thus far met
with but poor encouragement, but she knew that to climb, she must
begin at the lowest round of the ladder. It were useless to apply to a
long-established leading paper for employment, unless endorsed by some
influential name. Her brother had coolly, almost contemptuously, set her
aside; and yet in the very last number of his Magazine, which accident
threw in her way, he pleaded for public favor for a young actress, whom
he said had been driven by fortune from the sheltered privacy of home,
to earn her subsistence upon the stage, and whose earnest, strong-souled
nature, he thought, should meet with a better welcome than mere
curiosity. "Oh, why not one word for me?" thought Ruth; "and how can I
ask of strangers a favor which a brother's heart has so coldly refused?"

It was very disagreeable applying to the small papers, many of the
editors of which, accustomed to dealing with hoydenish contributors,
were incapable of comprehending that their manner towards Ruth had been
marked by any want of that respectful courtesy due to a dignified woman.
From all such contact Ruth shrank sensitively; their free-and-easy tone
fell upon her ear so painfully, as often to bring the tears to her eyes.
Oh, if Harry--but she must not think of him.

                 *       *       *       *       *

The next day Ruth wandered about the business streets, looking into
office-entries, reading signs, and trying to gather from their
"know-nothing" hieroglyphics, some light to illumine her darkened
pathway. Day after day chronicled only repeated failures, and now,
notwithstanding she had reduced their already meagre fare, her purse
was nearly empty.



CHAPTER LX.


It was a warm, sultry Sabbath morning; not a breath of air played over
the heated roofs of the great, swarming city. Ruth sat in her little,
close attic, leaning her head upon her hand, weary, languid and
dejected. Life seemed to her scarce worth the pains to keep its little
flame flickering. A dull pain was in her temples, a heavy weight upon
her heart. Other Sabbaths, _happy_ Sabbaths, came up to her remembrance;
earth looked so dark to her now, heaven so distant, God's ways so
inscrutable.

Hark to the Sabbath-bell!

Ruth took little Nettie by the hand, and led her slowly to church. Other
families, _unbroken_ families, passed her on their way; families whose
sunny thresholds the destroying angel had never crossed. Oh why the joy
to them, the pain to her? Sadly she entered the church, and took her
accustomed seat amid the worshippers. The man of God opened the holy
book. Sweet and clear fell upon Ruth's troubled ear these blessed words:
"There remaineth, therefore, a rest for the people of God."

The bliss, the joy of heaven was pictured; life,--mysterious, crooked,
unfathomable life, made clear to the eye of faith; sorrow, pain,
suffering, ignominy even, made sweet for His sake, who suffered all for
us.

Ruth weeps! weeps that her faith was for an instant o'erclouded; weeps
that she shrank from breasting the foaming waves at the bidding of Him
who said, "It is I, be not afraid." And she, who came there fluttering
with a broken wing, went away singing, soaring.

Oh man of God! pressed down with many cares, anxious and troubled,
sowing but not reaping, fearing to bring in no sheaves for the harvest,
be of good courage. The arrow shot at a venture may to thine eye fall
aimless; but in the Book of Life shalt thou read many an answer to the
wrestling prayer, heard in thy closet by God alone.



CHAPTER LXI.


"Fine day, Mr. Ellet," said a country clergyman to Ruth's father, as he
sat comfortably ensconced in his counting-room. "I don't see but you
look as young as you did when I saw you five years ago. Life has gone
smoothly with you; you have been remarkably prospered in business, Mr.
Ellet."

"Yes, yes," said the old gentleman, who was inordinately fond of talking
of himself; "yes, yes, I may say that, though I came into Massachusetts
a-foot, with a loaf of bread and a sixpence, and now,--well, not to
boast, I own this house, and the land attached, beside my country-seat,
and have a nice little sum stowed away in the bank for a rainy day; yes,
Providence has smiled on my enterprise; my affairs are, as you say, in a
_very_ prosperous condition. I hope religion flourishes in your church,
brother Clark."

"Dead--dead--dead, as the valley of dry bones," replied Mr. Clark
with a groan. "I have been trying to 'get up a revival;' but Satan
reigns--Satan reigns, and the right arm of the church seems paralysed.
Sometimes I think the stumbling-block is the avaricious and
money-grabbing spirit of its professors."

"Very likely," answered Mr. Ellet; "there is a great deal too much of
that in the church. I alluded to it myself, in my remarks at the last
church-meeting. I called it the accursed thing, the Achan in the camp,
the Jonah which was to hazard the Lord's Bethel, and I humbly hope
my remarks were blessed. I understand from the last Monthly Concert,
brother Clark, that there are good accounts from the Sandwich Islands;
twenty heathen admitted to the church in one day; good news that."

"Yes," groaned brother Clark, to whose blurred vision the Sun of
Righteousness was always clouded; "yes, but think how many more are
still, and always will be, worshipping idols; think how long it takes a
missionary to acquire a knowledge of the language; and think how many,
just as they become perfected in it, die of the climate, or are killed
by the natives, leaving their helpless young families to burden the
'American Board.' Very sad, brother Ellet; sometimes, when I think of
all this outlay of money and human lives, and so little accomplished,
I--" (here a succession of protracted sneezes prevented Mr. Clark from
finishing the sentence.)

"Yes," replied Mr. Ellet, coming to the rescue; "but if only _one_
heathen had been saved, there would be joy forever in heaven. He who
saveth a soul from death, you know, hideth a multitude of sins. I think
I spoke a word in season, the other day, which has resulted in one
admission, at least, to our church."

"It is to be hoped the new member will prove steadfast," said the
well-meaning but hypochondriac brother Clark, with another groan. "Many
a hopeful convert goes back to the world, and the last state of that
soul is worse than the first. Dreadful, dreadful. I am heartsick,
brother Ellet."

"Come," said Ruth's father, tapping him on the shoulder; "dinner is
ready, will you sit down with us? First salmon of the season, green
peas, boiled fowl, oysters, &c.; your country parishioners don't feed
you that way, I suppose."

"N--o," said brother Clark, "no; there is no verse in the whole Bible
truer, or more dishonored in the observance, than this, 'The laborer
is worthy of his hire.' I'll stay to dinner, brother Ellet. You have,
I bless God, a warm heart and a liberal one; your praise is in all the
churches."

A self satisfied smile played round the lips of Ruth's father, at
this tribute to his superior sanctity; and, seating himself at the
well-spread table, he uttered an unusually lengthy grace.

                 *       *       *       *       *

"Some more supper, please, Mamma," vainly pleaded little Nettie.



CHAPTER LXII.


Ruth had found employment. Ruth's MSS. had been accepted at the office
of "The Standard." Yes, an article of hers was to be published in the
very next issue. The remuneration was not what Ruth had hoped, but it
was at least a _beginning_, a stepping-stone. What a pity that Mr.
Lescom's (the editor's) rule was, not to pay a contributor, even after
a piece was accepted, until it was printed--and Ruth so short of funds.
Could she hold out to work so hard, and fare so rigidly? for often there
was only a crust left at night; but, God be thanked, she should now
_earn_ that crust! It was a pity that oil was so dear, too, because most
of her writing must be done at night, when Nettie's little prattling
voice was hushed, and her innumerable little wants forgotten in sleep.
Yes, it _was_ a pity that good oil was so dear, for the cheaper kind
crusted so soon on the wick, and Ruth's eyes, from excessive weeping,
had become quite tender, and often very painful. Then it would be so
mortifying should a mistake occur in one of her articles. She must
write very legibly, for type-setters were sometimes sad bunglers, making
people accountable for words that would set Worcester's or Webster's
hair on end; but, poor things, _they_ worked hard too--they had _their_
sorrows, thinking, long into the still night, as they scattered
the types, more of their dependent wives and children, than of the
orthography of a word, or the rhetoric of a sentence.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Scratch--scratch--scratch, went Ruth's pen; the dim lamp flickering in
the night breeze, while the deep breathing of the little sleepers was
the watchword, _On!_ to her throbbing brow and weary fingers. One
o'clock--two o'clock--three o'clock--the lamp burns low in the socket.
Ruth lays down her pen, and pushing back the hair from her forehead,
leans faint and exhausted against the window-sill, that the cool
night-air may fan her heated temples. How impressive the stillness! Ruth
can almost hear her own heart beat. She looks upward, and the watchful
stars seem to her like the eyes of gentle friends. No, God would _not_
forsake her! A sweet peace steals into her troubled heart, and the
overtasked lids droop heavily over the weary eyes.

Ruth sleeps.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Daylight! Morning _so_ soon? All night Ruth has leaned with her head on
the window-sill, and now she wakes unrefreshed from the constrained
posture; but she has no time to heed _that_, for little Nettie lies
moaning in her bed with pain; she lifts the little creature in her lap,
rocks her gently, and kisses her cheek; but still little Nettie moans.
Ruth goes to the drawer and looks in her small purse (Harry's gift); it
is empty! then she clasps her hands and looks again at little Nettie.
Must Nettie die for want of care? Oh, if Mr. Lescom would _only_ advance
her the money for the contributions he had accepted, but he said so
decidedly that "it was a rule he _never_ departed from;" and there were
yet five long days before the next paper would be out. Five days! what
might not happen to Nettie in five days? There was her cousin, Mrs.
Millet, but she had muffled her furniture in linen wrappers, and gone
to the springs with her family, for the summer months; there was her
father, but had he not said "Remember, if you _will_ burden yourself
with your children, you must not look to me for help." Kissing little
Nettie's cheek she lays her gently on the bed, whispering in a husky
voice, "only a few moments, Nettie; mamma will be back soon." She
closes the door upon the sick child, and stands with her hand upon her
bewildered brow, thinking.

                 *       *       *       *       *

"I beg your pardon, madam; the entry is so very dark I did not see you,"
said Mr. Bond; "you are as early a riser as myself."

"My child is sick," answered Ruth, tremulously; "I was just going out
for medicine."

"If you approve of Homoeopathy," said Mr. Bond, "and will trust me to
prescribe, there will be no necessity for your putting yourself to that
trouble; I always treat myself homoeopathically in sickness, and happen
to have a small supply of those medicines by me."

Ruth's natural independence revolted at the idea of receiving a favor
from a stranger.

"Perhaps you disapprove of Homoeopathy," said Mr. Bond, mistaking the
cause of her momentary hesitation; "it works like a charm with children;
but if you prefer not to try it, allow me to go out and procure you
whatever you desire in the way of medicine; you will not then be obliged
to leave your child."

Here was another dilemma--what _should_ Ruth do? Why, clearly accept
his first offer; there was an air of goodness and sincerity about him,
which, added to his years, seemed to invite her confidence.

Mr. Bond stepped in, looked at Nettie, and felt her pulse. "Ah, little
one, we will soon have you better," said he, as he left the room to
obtain his little package of medicines.

"Thank you," said Ruth, with a grateful smile, as he administered to
Nettie some infinitesimal pills.

"Not in the least," said Mr. Bond. "I learned two years since to doctor
myself in this way, and I have often had the pleasure of relieving
others in emergencies like this, from my little Homoeopathic stores. You
will find that your little girl will soon fall into a sweet sleep, and
awake much relieved; if you are careful with her, she will, I think,
need nothing more in the way of medicine, or if she should, my advice is
quite at your service;" and, taking his pitcher of water in his hand, he
bowed respectfully, and wished Ruth good morning.

Who was he? what was he? Whir--whir--there was the noise again! That
he was a man of refined and courteous manners, was very certain. Ruth
felt glad he was so much her senior; he seemed so like what Ruth had
sometimes dreamed a kind father might be, that it lessened the weight of
the obligation. Already little Nettie had ceased moaning; her little
lids began to droop, and her skin, which had been hot and feverish,
became moist and cool. "May God reward him, whoever he may be," said
Ruth. "Surely it _is_ blessed to _trust_!"



CHAPTER LXIII.


It was four o'clock of a hot August afternoon. The sun had crept round
to the front piazza of the doctor's cottage. No friendly trees warded
off his burning rays, for the doctor "liked a prospect;" _i. e._ he
liked to sit at the window and count the different trains which whizzed
past in the course of the day; the number of wagons, and gigs, and
carriages, that rolled lazily up the hill; to see the village engine,
the "Cataract," drawn out on the green for its weekly ablutions, and to
count the bundles of shingles that it took to roof over Squire Ruggles'
new barn. No drooping vines, therefore, or creepers, intruded between
him and this pleasant "prospect." The doctor was an utilitarian; he
could see "no use" in such things, save to rot timber and harbor vermin.
So a wondrous glare of white paint, (carefully renewed every spring,)
blinded the traveler whose misfortune it was to pass the road by
the doctor's house. As I said, it was now four o'clock. The twelve
o'clock dinner was long since over. The Irish girl had rinsed out her
dish-towels, hung them out the back door to dry, and gone down to the
village store to buy some new ribbons advertised as selling at an
"immense sacrifice" by the disinterested village shopkeeper.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Let us peep into the doctor's sitting room; the air of this room is
close and stifled, for the windows must be tightly closed, lest some
audacious fly should make his mark on the old lady's immaculate walls.
A centre table stands in the middle of the floor, with a copy of "The
Religious Pilot," last year's Almanac, A Directory, and "The remarkable
Escape of Eliza Cook, who was partially scalped by the Indians." On one
side of the room hangs a piece of framed needle-work, by the virgin
fingers of the old lady, representing an unhappy female, weeping over a
very high and very perpendicular tombstone, which is hieroglyphiced over
with untranslateable characters in red worsted, while a few herbs, not
mentioned by botanists, are struggling for existence at its base. A
friendly willow-tree, of a most extraordinary shade of blue green,
droops in sympathy over the afflicted female, while a nondescript
looking bird, resembling a dropsical bull-frog, suspends his song
and one leg, in the foreground. It was principally to preserve this
chef-d'oeuvre of art, that the windows were hermetically sealed to the
entrance of vagrant flies.

The old doctor, with his spectacles awry and his hands drooping
listlessly at his side, snored from the depths of his arm-chair,
while opposite him the old lady, peering out from behind a very
stiffly-starched cap border, was "seaming," "widening," and "narrowing,"
with a precision and perseverance most painful to witness. Outside, the
bee hummed, the robin twittered, the shining leaves of the village trees
danced and whispered to the shifting clouds; the free, glad breeze swept
the tall meadow-grass, and the village children, as free and fetterless,
danced and shouted at their sports; but there sat little Katy, with her
hands crossed in her lap, as she _had_ sat for many an hour, listening
to the never-ceasing click of her grandmother's needles, and the
sonorous breathings of the doctor's rubicund nose. Sometimes she
moved uneasily in her chair, but the old lady's uplifted finger would
immediately remind her that "little girls must be seen and not heard."
It was a great thing for Katy when a mouse scratched on the wainscot,
or her grandmother's ball rolled out of her lap, giving her a chance
to stretch her little cramped limbs. And now the village bell began
to toll, with a low, booming, funereal sound, sending a cold shudder
through the child's nervous and excited frame. What if _her_ mother
should die way off in the city? What if she should _always_ live in this
terrible way at her grandmother's? with nobody to love her, or kiss
her, or pat her little head kindly, and say, "Katy, dear;" and again the
bell boomed out its mournful sound, and little Katy, unable longer to
bear the torturing thoughts it called up, sobbed aloud.

It was all in vain, that the frowning old lady held up her warning
finger; the flood-gates were opened, and Katy could not have stopped her
tears had her life depended on it.

Hark! a knock at the door! a strange footstep!

"Mother!" shrieked the child hysterically, "mother!" and flew into
Ruth's sheltering arms.

                 *       *       *       *       *

"What _shall_ we do, doctor?" asked the old lady, the day after Ruth's
visit. "I trusted to her not being able to get the money to come out
here, and her father, I knew, wouldn't give it to her, and now here she
has walked the whole distance, with Nettie in her arms, except a lift a
wagoner or two gave her on the road; and I verily believe she would have
done it, had it been twice the distance it is. I never shall be able to
bring up that child according to my notions, while _she_ is round. I'd
forbid her the house, (she deserves it,) only that it won't sound well
if she tells of it. And to think of that ungrateful little thing's
flying into her mother's arms as if she was in the last extremity, after
all we have done for her. I don't suppose Ruth would have left her with
us, as it is, if she had the bread to put in her mouth. She might as
well give her up, though, first as last, for she never will be able to
support her."

"She's fit for nothing but a parlor ornament," said the doctor, "never
was. No more business talent in Ruth Ellet, than there is in that chany
image of yours on the mantle-tree, Mis. Hall. That tells the whole
story."



CHAPTER LXIV.


"I have good news for you," said Mr. Lescom to Ruth, at her next
weekly visit; "your very first articles are copied, I see, into many
of my exchanges, even into the ----, which seldom contains anything
but politics. A good sign for you, Mrs. Hall; a good test of your
popularity."

Ruth's eyes sparkled, and her whole face glowed.

"Ladies _like_ to be praised," said Mr. Lescom, good-humoredly, with a
mischievous smile.

"Oh, it is not that--not that, sir," said Ruth, with a sudden moistening
of the eye, "it is because it will be bread for my children."

Mr. Lescom checked his mirthful mood, and said, "Well, here is something
good for me, too; a letter from Missouri, in which the writer says, that
if "Floy" (a pretty _nom-de-plume_ that of yours, Mrs. Hall) is to be a
contributor for the coming year, I may put him down as a subscriber, as
well as S. Jones, E. May, and J. Noyes, all of the same place. That's
good news for _me_, you see," said Mr. Lescom, with one of his pleasant,
beaming smiles.

"Yes," replied Ruth, abstractedly. She was wondering if her articles
were to be the means of swelling Mr. Lescom's subscription list, whether
_she_ ought not to profit by it as well as himself, and whether she
should not ask him to increase her pay. She pulled her gloves off and
on, and finally mustered courage to clothe her thought in words.

"Now that's just _like_ a woman," replied Mr. Lescom, turning it off
with a joke; "give them the least foot-hold, and they will want the
whole territory. Had I not shown you that letter, you would have been
quite contented with your present pay. Ah! I see it won't do to talk
so unprofessionally to you; and you needn't expect," said he, smiling,
"that I shall ever speak of letters containing new subscribers on your
account. I could easily get you the offer of a handsome salary by
publishing such things. No--no, I have been foolish enough to lose two
or three valuable contributors in that way; I have learned better than
that, 'Floy';" and taking out his purse, he paid Ruth the usual sum for
her articles.

Ruth bowed courteously, and put the money in her purse; but she sighed
as she went down the office stairs. Mr. Lescom's view of the case was
a business one, undoubtedly; and the same view that almost any other
business man would have taken, viz.: to retain her at her present low
rate of compensation, till he was necessitated to raise it by a higher
bid from a rival quarter. And so she must plod wearily on till that time
came, and poor Katy must still be an exile; for she had not enough to
feed her, her landlady having raised the rent of her room two shillings,
and Ruth being unable to find cheaper accommodations. It _was_ hard, but
what could be done? Ruth believed she had exhausted all the offices she
knew of. Oh! there was one, "The Pilgrim;" she had not tried there. She
would call at the office on her way home.

The editor of "The Pilgrim" talked largely. He had, now, plenty of
contributors; he didn't know about employing a new one. Had she ever
written? and _what_ had she written? Ruth showed him her article in the
last number of "The Standard."

"Oh--hum--hum!" said Mr. Tibbetts, changing his tone; "so you are
'Floy,' are you?" (casting his eyes on her.) "What pay do they give you
over there?"

Ruth was a novice in business-matters, but she had strong common sense,
and that common sense said, he has no right to ask you that question;
don't you tell him; so she replied with dignity, "My bargain, sir, with
Mr. Lescom was a private one, I believe."

"Hum," said the foiled Mr. Tibbetts; adding in an under-tone to his
partner, "sharp that!"

"Well, if I conclude to engage you," said Mr. Tibbetts, "I should prefer
you would write for me over a different signature than the one by which
your pieces are indicated at The Standard office, or you can write
exclusively for my paper."

"With regard to your first proposal," said Ruth, "if I have gained
any reputation by my first efforts, it appears to me that I should be
foolish to throw it away by the adoption of another signature; and with
regard to the last, I have no objection to writing exclusively for you,
if you will make it worth my while."

"Sharp again," whispered Tibbetts to his partner.

The two editors then withdrawing into a further corner of the office,
a whispered consultation followed, during which Ruth heard the words,
"Can't afford it, Tom; hang it! we are head over ears in debt now to
that paper man; good articles though--deuced good--must have her if we
dispense with some of our other contributors. We had better begin low
though, as to terms, for she'll go up now like a rocket, and when she
finds out her value we shall have to increase her pay, you know."

(Thank you, gentlemen, thought Ruth, when the cards change hands, I'll
take care to return the compliment.)

In pursuance of Mr. Tibbetts' shrewd resolution, he made known his
"exclusive" terms to Ruth, which were no advance upon her present
rate of pay at The Standard. This offer being declined, they made her
another, in which, since she would not consent to do otherwise, they
agreed she should write over her old signature, "Floy," furnishing them
with two articles a week.

Ruth accepted the terms, poor as they were, because she could at present
do no better, and because every pebble serves to swell the current.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Months passed away, while Ruth hoped and toiled, "Floy's" fame as a
writer increasing much faster than her remuneration. There was rent-room
to pay, little shoes and stockings to buy, oil, paper, pens, and ink
to find; and now autumn had come, she could not write with stiffened
fingers, and wood and coal were ruinously high, so that even with this
new addition to her labor, Ruth seemed to retrograde pecuniarily,
instead of advancing; and Katy still away! She must work harder--harder.
Good, brave little Katy; she, too, was bearing and hoping on--mamma had
promised, if she would stay there, patiently, she would certainly take
her away just as soon as she had earned money enough; and mamma _never_
broke her promise--_never_; and Katy prayed to God every night, with
childish trust, to help her mother to earn money, that she might soon go
home again.

And so, while Ruth scribbled away in her garret, the public were
busying themselves in conjecturing who "Floy" might be. Letters poured
in upon Mr. Lescom, with their inquiries, even bribing him with the
offer to procure a certain number of subscribers, if he would divulge
her real name; to all of which the old man, true to his promise to
Ruth, to keep her secret inviolate, turned a deaf ear. All sorts of
rumors became rife about "Floy," some maintaining her to be a man,
because she had the courage to call things by their right names, and
the independence to express herself boldly on subjects which to the
timid and clique-serving, were tabooed. Some said she was a disappointed
old maid; some said she was a designing widow; some said she was a
moon-struck girl; and all said she was a nondescript. Some tried to
imitate her, and failing in this, abused and maligned her; the outwardly
strait-laced and inwardly corrupt, puckered up their mouths and "blushed
for her;" the hypocritical denounced the sacrilegious fingers which had
dared to touch the Ark; the fashionist voted her a vulgar, plebeian
thing; and the earnest and sorrowing, to whose burdened hearts she
had given voice, cried God speed her. And still "Floy" scribbled on,
thinking only of bread for her children, laughing and crying behind her
mask,--laughing all the more when her heart was heaviest; but of this
her readers knew little and would have cared less. Still her little bark
breasted the billows, now rising high on the topmost wave, now merged in
the shadows, but still steering with straining sides, and a heart of
oak, for the nearing port of Independence.

Ruth's brother, Hyacinth, saw "Floy's" articles floating through his
exchanges with marked dissatisfaction and uneasiness. That she should
have succeeded in any degree without his assistance, was a puzzle, and
the premonitory symptoms of her popularity, which his weekly exchanges
furnished, in the shape of commendatory notices, were gall and wormwood
to him. _Something_ must be done, and that immediately. Seizing his pen,
he despatched a letter to Mrs. Millet, which he requested her to read to
Ruth, alluding very contemptuously to Ruth's articles, and begging her
to use her influence with Ruth to desist from scribbling, and seek some
other employment. _What_ employment, he did not condescend to state; in
fact, it was a matter of entire indifference to him, provided she did
not cross his track. Ruth listened to the contents of the letter, with
the old bitter smile, and went on writing.



CHAPTER LXV.


A dull, drizzling rain spattered perseveringly against Ruth's windows,
making her little dark room tenfold gloomier and darker than ever.
Little Nettie had exhausted her slender stock of toys, and creeping up
to her mother's side, laid her head wearily in her lap.

"Wait just a moment, Nettie, till mamma finishes this page," said Ruth,
dipping her pen again in the old stone inkstand.

The child crept back again to the window, and watched the little pools
of water in the streets, as the rain-drops dimpled them, and saw, for
the hundredth time, the grocer's boy carrying home a brown-paper parcel
for some customers, and eating something from it as he went along; and
listened to the milkman, who thumped so loudly on the back gates, and
seemed always in such a tearing hurry; and saw the baker open the lid
of his boxes, and let the steam escape from the smoking hot cakes and
pies. Nettie wished she could have some of them, but she had long since
learned _only to wish_; and then she saw the two little sisters who
went by to school every morning, and who were now cuddling, laughingly
together, under a great big umbrella, which the naughty wind was trying
to turn inside out, and to get away from them; and then Nettie thought
of Katy, and wished she had Katy to play with her, when mamma wrote such
a long, long time; and then little Nettie drew such a heavy sigh, that
Ruth dashed down her pen, and taking her in her arms and kissing her,
told her about,

    "Mistress McShuttle,
    Who lived in a coal-scuttle,
      Along with her dog and her cat,
    What she did there, I can't tell,
    But I know very well,
      That none of the party were fat."

And then she narrated the exciting adventures of "The Wise Men of
Gotham," who went to sea in that rudderless bowl, and suffered
shipwreck and "total _lass_ of life," as the newsboys (God bless their
rough-and-ready faces) call it; and then little Nettie's snowy lids
drooped over her violet eyes, and she was far away in the land of
dreams, where there are no little hungry girls, or tired, scribbling
mammas.

Ruth laid the child gently on her little bed, and resumed her pen; but
the spell was broken, and "careful and troubled about many things" she
laid it down again, and her thoughts ran riot.

Pushing aside her papers, she discovered two unopened letters which Mr.
Lescom had handed her, and which she had in the hurry of finishing her
next article, quite forgotten. Breaking the seal of the first, she read
as follows:

  "TO 'FLOY.'

  "I am rough old man, Miss, and not used to writing or talking to
  ladies. I don't know who you are, and I don't ask; but I take 'The
  Standard,' and I like your pieces. I have a family of bouncing
  girls and boys; and when we've all done work, we get round the fire
  of an evening, while one of us reads your pieces aloud. It may not
  make much difference to you what an old man thinks, but I tell you
  those pieces have got the real stuff in 'em, and so I told my son
  John the other night; and _he_ says, and _I_ say, and neighbor
  Smith, who comes in to hear 'em, says, that you ought to make a
  book of them, so that your readers may keep them. You can put me
  down for three copies, to begin with; and if every subscriber to
  'The Standard' feels as I do, you might make a plum by the
  operation. Suppose, now, you think of it?

  "N. B.--John says, maybe you'll be offended at my writing to you,
  but I say you've got too much common sense.

  "Yours to command,
  "JOHN STOKES."

"Well, well," said Ruth, laughing, "that's a thought that never entered
this busy head of mine, John Stokes. _I_ publish a book? Why, John, are
you aware that those articles were written for bread and butter, not
fame; and tossed to the printer before the ink was dry, or I had time
for a second reading? And yet, perhaps, there is more freshness about
them than there would have been, had I leisure to have pruned and
polished them--who knows? I'll put your suggestion on file, friend
Stokes, to be turned over at my leisure. It strikes me, though, that it
will keep awhile. Thank you, honest John. It is just such readers as you
whom I like to secure. Well, what have we here?" and Ruth broke the seal
of the second letter. It was in a delicate, beautiful, female hand; just
such an one as you, dear Reader, might trace, whose sweet, soft eyes,
and long, drooping tresses, are now bending over this page. It said:

  "DEAR 'FLOY':

  "For you _are_ 'dear' to me, dear as a sister on whose loving
  breast I have leaned, though I never saw your face. I know not
  whether you are young and fair, or old and wrinkled, but I know
  that your heart is fresh, and guileless, and warm as childhood's;
  and that every week your printed words come to me, in my sick
  chamber, like the ministrations of some gentle friend, sometimes
  stirring to its very depths the fountain of tears, sometimes, by
  odd and quaint conceits, provoking the mirthful smile. But 'Floy,'
  I love you best in your serious moods; for as earth recedes, and
  eternity draws near, it is the real and tangible, my soul yearns
  after. And sure I am, 'Floy,' that I am not mistaken in thinking
  that we both lean on the same Rock of Ages; both discern, through
  the mists and clouds of time, the Sun of Righteousness. I shall
  never see you, 'Floy,' on earth;--mysterious voices, audible only
  to the dying ear, are calling me away; and yet, before I go, I
  would send you this token of my love, for all the sweet and
  soul-strengthening words you have unconsciously sent to my sick
  chamber, to wing the weary, waiting hours. We shall _meet_, 'Floy';
  but it will be where 'tears are wiped away.'

  "God bless you, my unknown sister.

  "MARY R. ----."

Ruth's head bowed low upon the table, and her lips moved; but He to whom
the secrets of all hearts are known, alone heard that grateful prayer.



CHAPTER LXVI.


That first miserable day at school! Who that has known it--even with a
mother's kiss burning on the cheek, a big orange bumping in the new
satchel, and a promise of apple-dumplings for dinner, can review it
without a shudder? Torturing--even when you can run home and "tell
mother" all your little griefs; when every member of the home circle
votes it "_a shame_" that Johnny Oakes laughed because you did not take
your alphabet the natural way, instead of receiving it by inoculation,
(just as he forgets that _he_ did;) torturing--when Bill Smith, and Tom
Simms, with whom you have "swapped alleys," and played "hockey," are
there with their familiar faces, to take off the chill of the new
schoolroom; torturing--to the sensitive child, even when the teacher is
a sunny-faced young girl, instead of a prim old ogre. Poor little Katy!
her book was before her; but the lines blurred into one indistinct haze,
and her throat seemed filling to suffocation with long-suppressed sobs.
The teacher, if he thought anything about it, thought she had the
tooth-ache, or ear-ache, or head-ache; and Katy kept her own secret, for
she had read his face correctly, and with a child's quick instinct,
stifled down her throbbing little heart.

To the doctor, and "Mis. Hall," with their anti-progressive notions, a
school was a school. The committee had passed judgment on it, and I
would like to know who would be insane enough to question the decision
of a School Committee? What did the committee care, that the consumptive
teacher, for his own personal convenience, madly excluded all
ventilation, and heated the little sheet-iron stove hotter than
Shadrack's furnace, till little heads snapped, and cheeks crimsoned, and
croup stood ready at the threshold to seize the first little bare throat
that presented its perspiring surface to the keen frosty air? What did
_they_ care that the desks were so constructed, as to crook spines, and
turn in toes, and round shoulders? What did they care that the funnel
smoked week after week, till the curse of "weak eyes" was entailed on
their victims for a lifetime? They had other irons in the fire, to which
this was a cipher. For instance: the village pump was out of repair, and
town-meeting after town-meeting had been called, to see who _shouldn't_
make its handle fly. North Gotham said it was the business of East
Gotham; East Gotham said the pump might rot before they'd bear the
expense; not that the East Gothamites cared for expense--no; they
scorned the insinuation, but they'd have North Gotham to know that East
Gotham wasn't to be put upon. Jeremiah Stubbs, a staunch North
Gothamite, stopped buying molasses and calico at "Ezekial Tibbs' East
Gotham Finding Store;" and Ezekial Tibbs forbade, under penalty of
losing his custom, the carpenter who was repairing his pig-sty, from
buying nails any more of Jeremiah Stubbs, of North Gotham; matches were
broken up; "own cousins" ceased to know one another, and the old women
had a millenial time of it over their bohea, discussing and settling
matters; no marvel that such a trifle as a child's school should be
overlooked. Meantime there stood the pump, with its impotent handle,
high and dry; "a gone sucker," as Mr. Tibbs facetiously expressed it.

"You can't go to school to-day, Katy, it is washing-day," said old Mrs.
Hall; "go get that stool, now sit down on it, at my feet, and let me cut
off those foolish dangling curls."

"Mamma likes them," said the child.

"I know it," replied the old lady, with a malicious smile, as she
gathered a cluster of them in one hand and seized the scissors with the
other.

"_Papa_ liked them," said Katy, shrinking back.

"No, he didn't," replied the old lady; "or, if he did, 'twas only to
please your foolish mother; any way they are coming off; if I don't
like them, that's enough; you are always to live with me now, Katy; it
makes no difference what your mother thinks or says about anything, so
you needn't quote _her_; I'm going to try to make a good girl of you,
_i. e._ if she will let you alone; you are full of faults, just as
she is, and I shall have to take a great deal of pains with you. You
ought to love me very much for it, better than anybody else in the
world--don't you?"

(No response from Katy.)

"I say, Katy, you ought to love me better than anybody else in the
world," repeated the old lady, tossing a handful of the severed ringlets
down on the carpet. "Do you, Katy?"

"No, ma'am," answered the truthful child.

"That tells the whole story," said the doctor, as he started up and
boxed Katy's ears; "now go up and stay in your room till I send for you,
for being disrespectful to your grandmother."

"Like mother--like child," said the old lady, as Katy half shorn, moved
like a culprit out of the room; then gathering up in her apron the
shining curls, she looked on with a malicious smile, while they crisped
and blackened in the glowing Lehigh fire.

But miserable as were the week-days--Sunday, after all, was the dreadful
day for Katy; the long--long--long Sunday, when every book in the house
was put under lock and key; when even religious newspapers, tracts, and
memoirs, were tabooed; when the old people, who fancied they could not
go to church, sat from sunrise to sunset in their best clothes, with
their hands folded, looking speechlessly into the fire; when there
was no dinner; when the Irish girl and the cat, equally lawless and
heretical, went to see their friends; when not a sound was heard in the
house, save the ticking of the old claw-footed-clock, that stood in the
entry; when Katy crept up to her little room, and crouching in a corner,
wondered if God _was_ good--why he let her papa _die_, and why he did
not help her mamma, who tried so hard to earn money to bring her home.

The last bright golden beam of the Sabbath sun had slowly faded
away. One by one the stars came gliding out. He who held them all in
their places, listening ever to the ceaseless music of their motion,
yet bent a pitying ear to the stifled sob of a troubled child.
Softly--sweetly--fell the gentle dew of slumber on weary eyelids, while
angels came to minister. Tears glittered still on Katy's long lashes,
but the little lips parted with a smile, murmuring "Papa." Sleep
on--dream on--little Katy. He who noteth the sparrow's fall, hath given
his angels charge to keep thee.



CHAPTER LXVII.


In one of the thousand business offices, in one of the thousand crowded
streets of a neighboring city, sat Mr. John Walter, with his legs
crossed, his right finger pressed against the right lobe of his organ of
causality, his right elbow resting on his right knee, and the fingers of
his left hand beating a sort of tattoo on a fresh copy of The Standard,
which lay upon the table by his side. His attitude was one of profound
meditation.

"Who _can_ she be?" exclaimed Mr. Walter, in a tone of blended interest
and vexation; "who can she be?" Mr. Walter raised his head, uncrossed
his legs, took up The Standard, and re-read 'Floy's' last article
slowly; often pausing to analyze the sentences, as though he would
extort from them some hidden meaning, to serve as a clue to the identity
of the author. After he had perused the article thus searchingly, he
laid down The Standard, and again exclaimed, "Who _can_ she be? she is
a genius certainly, whoever she is," continued he, soliloquizingly;
"a bitter life experience she has had too; she did not draw upon her
imagination for this article. Like the very first production of her
pen that I read, it is a wail from her inmost soul; so are many of her
pieces. A few dozen of them taken consecutively, would form a whole
history of wrong, and suffering, and bitter sorrow. What a singular
being she must be, if I have formed a correct opinion of her; what
powers of endurance! What an elastic, strong, brave, loving, fiery, yet
soft and winning nature! A bundle of contradictions! and how famously
she has got on too! it is only a little more than a year since her first
piece was published, and now her articles flood the whole country; I
seldom take up an exchange, which does not contain one or more of them.
That first piece of hers was a stroke of genius--a real gem, although
not very smoothly polished; ever since I read it, I have been trying
to find out the author's name, and have watched her career with eager
interest; _her_ career, I say, for I suppose 'Floy' to be a woman,
notwithstanding the rumors to the contrary. At any rate, my wife says
so, and women have an instinct about such things. I wish I knew whether
she gets well paid for her writings. Probably not. Inexperienced writers
seldom get more than a mere pittance. There are so many ready to write
(poor fools!) for the honor and glory of the thing, and there are so
many ready to take advantage of this fact, and withhold from needy
talent the moral right to a deserved remuneration. Thank heaven, I have
never practiced this. The 'Household Messenger' does not yield me a very
large income, but what it does yield is fairly earned. Why, bless me!"
exclaimed Mr. Walter, suddenly starting up, and as suddenly sitting down
again; "why has not this idea occurred to me before? yes, why not engage
'Floy' to write for the Household Messenger? How I wish I were rich,
that I might give her such a price as she really deserves. Let me see;
she now writes for The Standard, and The Pilgrim, four pieces a week for
each; eight pieces in all; that is too much work for her to begin with;
she cannot do herself justice; she ought not to write, at the outside,
more than two pieces a week; then she could polish them up, and
strengthen them, and render them as nearly perfect in execution as they
are in conception. One piece a week would be as much as I should wish;
could I possibly afford to pay her as much, or more for that one piece,
as she now gets for eight? Her name is a tower of strength, but its
influence would be frittered away, were she to write for more than one
paper. If I could secure her pen all to myself, the advertising that
such a connection would give The Messenger would be worth something. Ah
me, were my purse only commensurate with my feelings. If I only knew
who 'Floy' is, and could have an interview with her, I might perhaps
arrange matters so as to benefit us both; and I _will_ know," exclaimed
Mr. Walter, jumping up and pacing the room rapidly; "I'll know before
I'm a month older;" and the matter was settled; for when John Walter
paced the floor rapidly, and said "I will," Fate folded her hands.



CHAPTER LXVIII.


"A letter for 'Floy!'" said Mr. Lescom, smiling. "Another lover, I
suppose. Ah! when you get to be my age," continued the old man, stroking
his silver hair, "you will treat their communications with more
attention." As he finished his remark, he held the letter up playfully
for a moment, and then tossed it into Ruth's lap.

Ruth thrust it unread into her apron pocket. She was thinking of her
book, and many other things of far more interest to her than lovers, if
lover the writer were. After correcting the proof of her articles for
the next week's paper, and looking over a few exchanges, she asked for
and received the wages due her for the last articles published, and went
home.

Ruth was wearied out; her walk home tired her more than usual. Climbing
to her room, she sat down without removing her bonnet, and leaning her
head upon her hand, tried to look hopefully into the future. She was
soon disturbed by Nettie, who exploring her mother's pockets, and
finding the letter, exclaimed, pointing to the three cent stamp, "May
I have this pretty picture, mamma?"

Ruth drew forth the letter, opened the envelope, cut out the stamp for
Nettie, who soon suspended it around her doll's neck for a medal, and
then read the epistle, which ran as follows:

  "TO 'FLOY':

  "Madam,--I have long wished to communicate with you, long wished to
  know who you are. Since the appearance of your first article, I
  have watched your course with deep interest, and have witnessed
  your success with the most unfeigned pleasure. My reasons for
  wishing to make your acquaintance at this particular juncture, are
  partly business and partly friendly reasons. As you will see by a
  copy of the Household Messenger, which I herewith send you, I am
  its Editor. I know something about the prices paid contributors for
  the periodical press, and have often wondered whether you were
  receiving anything like such a remuneration as your genius and
  practical newspaperial talent entitle you to. I have also often
  wished to write you on the subject, and tell you what I think is
  your market-value--to speak in business phrase--as a writer; so
  that in case you are _not_ receiving a just compensation, as
  things go, you might know it, and act accordingly. In meditating
  upon the subject, it has occurred to me that I might benefit you
  and myself at the same time, and in a perfectly legitimate manner,
  by engaging you to write solely for my paper. I have made a
  calculation as to what I can afford to give you, or rather what I
  _will_ give you, for writing one article a week for me, the article
  to be on any subject, and of any length you please. Such an
  arrangement would of course give you time to take more pains with
  your writing, and also afford you such leisure for relaxation, as
  every writer needs.

  "Now what I wish you to do is this: I want you first to inform me
  what you get for writing for The Standard, and The Pilgrim, and
  if I find that I can afford to give you more, I will make you an
  offer. If I cannot give you more, I will not trouble you further on
  that subject; as I seek your benefit more than my own. In case you
  should accept any offer which I should find it proper to make, it
  would be necessary for you to tell me your _real_ name; as I should
  wish for a written contract, in order to prevent any possibility of
  a misunderstanding.

  "In conclusion, I beg that you will permit me to say, that whether
  or not arrangements are made for you to write for me, I shall
  be most happy to serve you in any way in my power. I have some
  experience in literary matters, which I will gladly place at your
  disposal. In short, madam, I feel a warm, brotherly interest in
  your welfare, as well as a high admiration for your genius, and it
  will afford me much pleasure to aid you, whenever my services can
  be made profitable.

  "Very truly yours,    JOHN WALTER."

Ruth sat with the letter in her hand. The time _had_ been when not a
doubt would have arisen in her mind as to the sincerity of the writer;
but, alas! adversity is so rough a teacher! ever laying the cold finger
of caution on the warm heart of trust! Ruth sighed, and tossed the
letter on the table, half ashamed of herself for her cowardice, and
wishing that she _could_ have faith in the writer. Then she picked up
the letter again. She examined the hand-writing; it was bold and manly.
She thought it would be treating it too shabbily to throw it aside among
the love-sick trash she was in the habit of receiving. She would read it
again. The tone was respectful; _that won her_. The "Household
Messenger"--"John Walter?"--she certainly had heard those names before.
The letter stated that a copy of the paper had been sent her, but she
had not yet received it. She recollected now that she had seen the
"Household Messenger" among the exchanges at "The Standard" office,
and remembered that she always liked its appearance, and admired its
editorials; they were fearless and honest, and always on the side
of the weak, and on the side of truth. Ruth also had an indistinct
remembrance of having heard Mr. Walter spoken of by somebody, at some
time, as a most energetic young man, who had wrung success from an
unwilling world, and fought his way, single-handed, from obscurity to an
honorable position in society, against, what would have been to many,
overwhelming odds. "Hence the reason," thought Ruth, "his heart so
readily vibrates to the chord of sorrow which I have struck. His
experienced heart has detected in my writings the flutterings and
desolation of his own." Ruth wanted to believe in Mr. Walter. She
glanced at his letter again with increased interest and attention. It
seemed so frank and kind; but then it was bold and exacting, too. The
writer wished to know how much she received from the "Pilgrim," and
"Standard," and what was her real name. Would it be prudent to entrust
so much to an entire stranger? and the very first time he asked, too?
Even granting he was actuated by the best of motives, would he not think
if she told him all, without requiring some further guaranty on his
part, that her confidence was too easily won? Would he not think her too
indiscreet to be entrusted with his confidence? Would he not be apt to
believe that she had not even sufficient discretion on which to base a
business arrangement? And then, if his letter _had been_ dictated by
idle curiosity only, how unfortunate such an _exposé_ of her affairs
might be. No--she--could--not--do--it! But then, if Mr. Walter _were_
honest, if he _really_ felt such a brotherly interest in her, how sweet
it would be to have him for a brother; a--_real, warm-hearted, brotherly
brother_, such as she had never known. Ruth took up her pen to write to
Mr. Walter, but as quickly laid it down. "Oh--I--cannot!" she said; "no,
not to a stranger!" Then, again she seized her pen, and with a quick
flush, and a warm tear, said, half pettishly, half mournfully, "Away
with these ungenerous doubts! Am I never again to put faith in human
nature?"

Ruth answered Mr. Walter's letter. She answered it frankly and
unreservedly. She stated what wages she was then receiving. She told him
her name. As she went on, she felt a peace to which she had long been a
stranger. She often paused to wipe the tears--tears of happiness--from
her eyes. It was so sweet to believe in _somebody_ once more. She wrote
a long letter--a sweet, sisterly letter--pouring out her long pent-up
feelings, as though Mr. Walter had indeed been her brother, who, having
been away ever since before Harry's death, had just returned, and,
consequently, had known nothing about her cruel sufferings. After
she had sealed and superscribed the letter, she became excessively
frightened at what she had done, and thought she never could send it to
Mr. Walter; but another perusal of his letter reassured her. She rose
to go to the post-office, and then became conscious that she had not
removed her bonnet and shawl, but had sat all this while in walking
costume! "Well," said she, laughing, "this _is_ rather blue-stocking-y;
however, it is all the better, as I am now ready for my walk." Ruth
carried her letter to the post-office; dropping it into the letter-box
with more hopeful feelings than Noah probably experienced when he sent
forth the dove from the ark for the third time.



CHAPTER LXIX.


Mr. Walter sat in his office, looking over the morning mail. "I wonder
is this from 'Floy'?" he said, as he examined a compact little package.
"It bears the right post-mark, and the handwriting is a lady's. A
splendid hand it is, too. There's character in that hand; I hope 'tis
'Floy's.'"

Mr. Walter broke the seal, and glancing at a few sentences, turned
to the signature. "Yes, it is 'Floy'! now for a revelation." He then
commenced perusing the letter with the most intense interest. After
reading the first page his eye began to flash, and his lip to quiver.
"Poor girl--poor girl--heartless creatures--too bad--too bad," and other
exclamations rather too warm for publication; finishing the letter and
refolding it, he paced the room with a short, quick step, indicative of
deep interest, and determined purpose. "It is too bad," he exclaimed;
"shameful! the whole of it; and how hard she has worked! and what a
pitiful sum those fellows pay her! it is contemptible. She has about
made The Standard; it never was heard of to any extent before she
commenced writing for it. It is perfectly outrageous; she shall not
write for them another day, if I can help it! I will make her an offer
at once. She will accept it; and then those Jews will be brought to
their senses. Ha! ha! I know them! They will want to get her back; they
will write to me about it, or at least Lescom will. That will give me a
chance at him; and if I don't tell him a few truths in plain English, my
name is not John Walter." Then seating himself at his desk, Mr. Walter
wrote the following letter to 'Floy':

  "DEAR SISTER RUTH,--If you will permit me to be so brotherly. I
  have received, read, and digested your letter; how it has affected
  me I will not now tell you. I wish to say, however, that on reading
  that portion of it which relates to the compensation you are now
  receiving, my indignation exhausted the dictionary! Why, you poor,
  dear little genius! what you write for those two papers is worth,
  to the proprietors, ten times what they pay you. But I will not
  bore you with compliments; I wish to engage you to write for the
  Household Messenger, and here is my offer: you to write one article
  a week, length, matter and manner, to your own fancy; I to pay you
  ----, the engagement to continue one year, during which time you
  are not to write for any other periodical, without my consent. My
  reason for placing a limitation to our engagement is, that you may
  be able to take advantage at that time of better offers, which you
  will undoubtedly have.

  "I enclose duplicates, of a contract, which, if the terms suit, you
  will please sign and return one copy _by the next mail_; the other
  copy you will keep. Unless you accept my offer by return of mail it
  will be withdrawn. You may think this exacting; I will explain it
  in my next to your satisfaction. Most truly your friend,

  "JOHN WALTER."

This letter being despatched, thanks to the post-office department,
arrived promptly at its destination the next morning.

Ruth sat with Mr. Walter's letter in her hand, thinking. "'If you do not
accept my offer by return of mail, it will be withdrawn.' How exacting!
'the explanation of this to be given in my next letter,' ah, Mr. John
Walter, I shall not have to wait till then," soliloquized Ruth; "I can
jump at your reason; you think I shall mention it to Mr. Lescom, and
that then he will interfere, and offer something by way of an equivalent
to tempt me to reject it; that's it, Mr. John Walter! This bumping round
the world has at least sharpened my wits!" and Ruth sat beating a tattoo
with the toe of her slipper on the carpet, and looking very profound
and wise. Then she took up the contract and examined it; it was brief,
plain and easily understood, _even by a woman_, as the men say. "It is a
good offer," said Ruth, "he is in earnest, so am I; it's a bargain."
Ruth signed the document.



CHAPTER LXX.


"Good afternoon, 'Floy,'" said Mr. Lescom to Ruth, as she entered the
Standard office, the day after she had signed the contract with Mr.
Walter. "I was just thinking of you, and wishing for an opportunity to
have a little private chat. Your articles are not as long as they used
to be; you must be more liberal."

"I was not aware," replied Ruth, "that my articles had grown any
shorter. However, with me, an article is an article, some of my shorter
pieces being the most valuable I have written. If you would like more
matter, Mr. Lescom, I wonder you have not offered me more pay."

"There it is," said Mr. Lescom, smiling; "women are never satisfied. The
more they get, the more grasping they become. I have always paid you
more than you could get anywhere else."

"Perhaps so," replied Ruth. "I believe I have never troubled you with
complaints; but I _have_ looked at my children sometimes, and thought
that I must try somehow to get more; and I have sometimes thought that
if my articles, as you have told me, were constantly bringing you new
subscribers, friendship, if not justice, would induce you to raise my
salary."

"_Friendship_ has nothing to do with business," replied Mr. Lescom; "a
bargain is a bargain. The law of supply and demand regulates prices in
all cases. In literature, at present, the supply greatly exceeds the
demand, consequently the prices are low. Of course, I have to regulate
my arrangements according to my own interests, and not according to the
interests of others. You, of course, must regulate your arrangements
according to _your_ interests; and if anybody else will give you more
than I do, you are at liberty to take it. As I said before, _business_
is one thing--_friendship_ is another. Each is good in its way, but they
are quite distinct."

As Mr. Lescom finished this business-like and logical speech, he looked
smilingly at Ruth, with an air which might be called one of tyrannical
benevolence; as if he would say, "Well, now, I'd like to know what you
can find to say to that?"

"I am glad," replied Ruth, "that you think so, for I have already acted
in accordance with your sentiments. I have had, and accepted, an offer
of a better salary than you pay me. My object in calling this afternoon
was to inform you of this; and to say, that I shall not be able to
write any more for 'The Standard.'"

Mr. Lescom looked astonished, and gazed at Ruth without speaking,
probably because he did not know exactly what to say. He had argued
Ruth's case so well, while he supposed he was arguing his own, that
nothing more could be said. Mr. Lescom, in reality, valued Ruth's
services more than those of all his other contributors combined, and
the loss of them was a bitter thing to him. And then, what would his
subscribers say? The reason of Ruth's leaving might become known; it
would not sound well to have it said that she quit writing for him
because he did not, or could not, or would not pay her as much as
others. Just then it occurred to him that engaging to write for another
journal, did not necessarily preclude the possibility of her continuing
to write for "The Standard." Catching eagerly at the idea, he said:

"Well, 'Floy,' I am really glad that you have been so fortunate. Of
course I wish you to make as much as you can, and should be glad, did my
circumstances admit, to give you a salary equal to what you can command
elsewhere; but as I cannot give you more than I have been paying, I am
glad somebody else will. Still, I see no reason why you should stop
writing for 'The Standard.' Your articles will just be as valuable to
me, as though you had made no new engagement."

"I am sorry to disappoint you, Mr. Lescom," replied Ruth, "but I cannot
meet your wishes in this respect, as the contract I have signed will not
permit me to write for any paper but 'The Household Messenger.'"

At this announcement Mr. Lescom's veil of good nature was rent in twain.
"'The Household Messenger!' Ah! it's John Walter, then, who has found
you out? I don't wish to boast, but I must say, that I think you have
made but a poor exchange. The whole thing is very unfortunate for you.
I was just making arrangements to club with two other editors, and to
offer you a handsome yearly salary for writing exclusively for our three
papers; but of course that arrangement is all knocked in the head now.
It seems to me that you might have made an exception in favor of 'The
Standard.' I have no doubt that Mr. Walter would have consented to let
you write for it, as it was the first paper for which you ever wrote.
He would probably do so now if you would ask him. He is an editor, and
would understand the matter at once. He would see that I had more
than ordinary claims upon you. What do you say to writing him on the
subject?"

"I have no objection to doing so," replied Ruth, "if you think it will
avail anything, though if I succeed in getting Mr. Walter's permission
to write for _you_, I suppose Mr. Tibbetts, of The Pilgrim, will wish me
to do the same for him, when he returns. I called at the Pilgrim office
this morning, and his partner, Mr. Elder, said that he was out of town,
and would not be home for several days, and that he would be greatly
incensed when he heard I was going to leave, as I was getting very
popular with his subscribers. Mr. Elder was very sorry himself, but he
treated me courteously. By the way, Mr. Lescom, I think you had better
write to Mr. Walter, as well as myself; you understand such matters, and
can probably write more to the point than I can."

"Very well," said Mr. Lescom, "I will write to him at once, and you had
better write now by the same mail, and have the letters both enclosed in
one envelope."

Ruth took a seat at the editorial table, and wrote to Mr. Walter.
The letters were sent at once to the Post-office, so as to catch the
afternoon mail, and Ruth took her leave, promising to call on the
morning of the second day after, to see Mr. Walter's reply, which,
judging by his usual promptness, would arrive by that time.



CHAPTER LXXI.


"Ah! another letter from 'Floy,'" said Mr. Walter, as he seated himself
in his office; "now I shall hear how Lescom and Tibbetts & Co. feel
about losing her. 'Floy' had probably told them by the time she wrote,
and they have probably told her that she owes her reputation to them,
called her ungrateful, and all that sort of thing; let us see what she
says."

After reading 'Floy's' letter, Mr. Walter laid it down and began
muttering out his thoughts after his usual fashion. "Just as I expected;
Lescom has worked on 'Floy's' kind heart till she really feels a sort of
necessity not to leave him so abruptly, and requests me as a personal
favor to grant his request, at least for a time; no, no, 'Floy'--not
unless he will pay you five times as much as he pays you now, and allow
you, besides, to write much, or little, as you please; but where is
Lescom's communication? Ruth says he wrote by the same mail--ah, here
it is:

  "MR. WALTER:

  "SIR,--Mrs. Hall, 'Floy,' informs me that you have engaged her to
  write exclusively for the Household Messenger, and that you will
  not consent to her writing for any other publication. Perhaps you
  are not aware that _I_ was the first to introduce 'Floy' to the
  public, and that I have made her reputation what it is. This being
  the case, you will not think it strange that I feel as if I had
  some claim on her, so long as I pay her as much as she can get
  elsewhere. I need not say to you that The Standard is in a very
  flourishing condition; its circulation having nearly doubled during
  the past year, and that my resources are such as to enable me to
  outbid all competitors for 'Floy's' services, if I choose to take
  such a course; but I trust you will at once perceive that the
  Standard should be made an exception to your contract, and permit
  'Floy' still to write for it.

  "Respectfully yours,    F. LESCOM."

"Well, upon my word," exclaimed Mr. Walter, when he had finished Mr.
Lescom's letter; "if this is not the coolest piece of egotism and
impudence that I ever saw; but it is no use wasting vitality about it.
I will just answer the letter, and let things take their course; I have
the weather-gage of him now, and I'll keep it; he shall have my reply
to digest the first thing in the morning; I'll write to 'Floy' first,
though."

On the designated Thursday, Ruth, according to her promise, called at
the Standard office; something had occurred to detain Mr. Lescom, so she
sat down and opened Mr. Walter's letter, which lay on the table waiting
for her, and read as follows:

  "DEAR RUTH:

  "I have just finished reading yours and Lescom's letters. Yours has
  touched me deeply. It was just like you, but you know little of the
  selfishness and humbuggery of some newspaper publishers; you seem
  really to think that you ought to write for Mr. Lescom, if he
  so much desires it. This is very good of you, and very amiable,
  but (forgive my want of gallantry) very foolish. You can now
  understand, if you did not before, why I desired you to sign the
  contract by return mail. I was afraid if you went to Mr. Lescom, or
  Mr. Tibbetts of the Pilgrim, _before signing it_, that they would
  impose upon your good womanly heart, and thereby gain an unfair
  advantage over you. I wished to surprise you into signing the
  contract, that I might have a fair and righteous advantage over
  them. And now, 'Floy,' please to leave the whole matter to me.
  I shall not consent to your writing for any paper, unless the
  proprietors will give you the full value of your articles--what
  they are really worth to them. If things turn out as I confidently
  expect they will, from your present popularity, you will soon be in
  a state of comparative independence. On the next page you will find
  a copy of my answer to Mr. Lescom's letter. Please keep me informed
  of the happenings at your end of the route.

  "Yours most truly,    JOHN WALTER."

Ruth then read Mr. Walter's letter to Mr. Lescom, as follows:

  "F. LESCOM, Esq.

  "SIR,--Your letter in regard to 'Floy,' &c., is at hand. You say,
  that perhaps I am not aware that _you_ were the first to introduce
  'Floy' to the public, and that _you_ have made her reputation. It
  is fortunate for _you_ that she made The Standard the channel of
  her first communications to the public. I know this very well,
  but I am not aware, nor do I believe, that _you_ have made her
  reputation; neither do I think that you believe this yourself. The
  truth is simply this; 'Floy' is a genius; her writings, wherever
  published, would have attracted attention, and stamped the writer
  as a person of extraordinary talent; hence her fame and success,
  the fruits of which _you_ have principally reaped. As to 'Floy's'
  being under any obligations to you, I repudiate the idea entirely;
  the 'obligation' is all on the other side. _She_ has made 'The
  Standard,' instead of you making _her_ reputation. Her genius has
  borne its name to England, Scotland, Ireland,--wherever the English
  language is spoken,--and raised it from an obscure provincial paper
  to a widely-known journal. You say that you are wealthy, and can
  pay as much as anybody for 'Floy's' services; I wonder this has
  never occurred to you before, especially as she has informed you
  frequently how necessitous were her circumstances. You also inform
  me that the circulation of The Standard has nearly doubled the past
  year. This I can readily believe, since it is something more than
  a year since 'Floy' commenced writing for it. In reply to your
  declaration, 'that in case you are driven to compete for 'Floy's'
  services, you can outbid all competitors,' I have only to say that
  my contract with her is for one year; on its expiration, 'Floy'
  will be at liberty to decide for herself; you will then have an
  opportunity to compete for her pen, and enjoy the privilege of
  exhibiting your enterprise and liberality.

  "Your ob't servant,    JOHN WALTER."

Ruth waited some time after reading these letters, for Mr. Lescom to
come in; but, finding he was still unexpectedly detained, she took a
handful of letters, which the clerk had just received by mail for her,
and bent her steps homeward.



CHAPTER LXXII.


The first letter Ruth opened on her return, was a request from a
Professor of some College for her autograph for himself and some
friends; the second, an offer of marriage from a Southerner, who
confessed to one hundred negroes, "but hoped that the strength and ardor
of the attachment with which the perusal of her articles had inspired
him, would be deemed sufficient atonement for this in her Northern eyes.
The frozen North," he said, "had no claim on such a nature as hers;
the sunny South, the land of magnolias and orange blossoms, the land
of love, _should_ be her chosen home. Would she not smile on him? She
should have a box at the opera, a carriage, and servants in livery, and
the whole heart and soul of Victor Le Pont."

The next was more interesting. It was an offer to "Floy" from a
publishing house, to collect her newspaper articles into a volume. They
offered to give her so much on a copy, or $800 for the copyright. An
answer was requested immediately. In the same mail came another letter
of the same kind from a distant State, also offering to publish a volume
of her articles.

"Well, well," soliloquized Ruth, "business is accumulating. I don't
see but I shall have to make a book in spite of myself; and yet those
articles were written under such disadvantages, would it be _wise_ in me
to publish so soon? But Katy? and $800 copyright money?" Ruth glanced
round her miserable, dark room, and at the little stereotyped bowl of
bread and milk that stood waiting on the table for her supper and
Nettie's; $800 _copyright money_! it _was_ a temptation; but supposing
her book should prove a hit? and bring double, treble, fourfold that
sum, to go into her publisher's pockets instead of hers? how provoking!
Ruth straightened up, and putting on a very resolute air, said, "No,
gentlemen, I will _not_ sell you my copyright; these autograph letters,
and all the other letters of friendship, love, and business, I am
constantly receiving from strangers, are so many proofs that I have won
the public ear. No, I will not sell my copyright; I will rather deny
myself a while longer, and accept the per-centage;" and so she sat down
and wrote her publishers; but then caution whispered, what if her book
should _not_ sell? "Oh, pshaw," said Ruth, "it _shall_!" and she brought
her little fist down on the table till the old stone inkstand seemed to
rattle out "_it shall!_"

"Ah, here is another letter, which I have overlooked," said Ruth.

  "TO THE DISTINGUISHED AND POPULAR WRITER, 'FLOY':

  "MADAM,--I trust you will excuse the liberty I take in writing you,
  when you get through with my letter. I am thus confident of your
  leniency, because it seems to me that my case is not only a
  plain, but an interesting one. To come to the point, without any
  circumlocutory delay, I am a young man with aspirations far above
  my station in life. This declaration is perfectly true in some
  senses, but not in every sense. My parents and my ancestors are and
  were highly respectable people. My name, as you will see when you
  come to my signature, is Reginald Danby. The Danby family, Madam,
  was founded by Sir Reginald Danby, who was knighted for certain
  gallant exploits on the field of Hastings, in the year 1066, by
  William the Conqueror. Sir Reginald afterward married a Saxon dame,
  named Edith, the daughter of a powerful land-owner; hence the Danby
  family. All this is of very little consequence, and I only mention
  it in a sort of incidental way, to show you that my declaration in
  regard to the respectability of my family is true, and fortified by
  unimpeachable historical evidence; and I will here remark, that you
  will always find any assertion of mine as well sustained, by
  copious and irrefragable proof.

  "The respectability of our family being thus settled, I come back
  to an explanation of what I mean by my 'having aspirations above my
  station in life.' It is this: I am poor. My family, though once
  wealthy, is now impoverished. The way this state of things came
  about, was substantially as follows: My grandfather, who was a
  strong-minded, thrifty gentleman, married into a poetical family.
  His wife was the most poetical member of said family; much of her
  poetry is still extant; it never was published, because in those
  days publishers were not as enterprising as they are now. We value
  these manuscripts very highly; still I should be willing to send
  you some of them for perusal, in case you will return them and pay
  the postage both ways, my limited means not permitting me to share
  that pleasure with you. As I have intimated, my grandmother reveled
  in poetry. She doated on Shakspeare, and about three months before
  my father's birth, she went to a theatre to witness the performance
  of 'The Midsummer Night's Dream.' She was enchanted! and, with
  characteristic decision, resolved to commit the entire play
  to memory. This resolution she executed with characteristic
  pertinacity, notwithstanding frequent and annoying interruptions,
  from various causes entirely beyond her control. She finished
  committing this immortal poem to memory, the very night my father
  was born. Time rolled on; my father, as he grew up, exhibited great
  flightiness of character, and instability of purpose, the result,
  undoubtedly, of his mother's committing 'The Midsummer Night's
  Dream' to memory under the circumstances which I have detailed. My
  father, owing to this unfortunate development of character, proved
  inadequate to the management of his estate, or, indeed, of any
  business whatever, and hence our present pecuniary embarrassments.
  Before quitting this painful branch of my subject, it will
  doubtless gratify you to have me state, that, inasmuch as my father
  married a woman of phlegmatic temperament, and entirely unpoetical
  mind, the balance of character has been happily restored to our
  family, so there is no fear for me. I am thus particular in my
  statements, because I have a high regard for truth, and for
  veracity, for accuracy in the _minutest_ things; a phase of
  character which may be accounted for from the fact, that I have
  just gone through a severe and protracted course of mathematics.
  These preliminaries being thus fairly before you, I now come to the
  immediate topic of my letter, viz.: I wish to go through College; I
  have not the means. I wish you to help me. You are probably rich; I
  hope you are with all my heart. You must be able to command a high
  salary, and a great deal of influence. I don't ask you to lend me
  the money out of hand. What I propose is this: I will furnish you
  the subject for a splendid and thrilling story, founded on facts
  in the history of our family; the Danby family. In this book, my
  grandmother's poetry would probably read to advantage; if so, it
  would be a great saving, as her writings are voluminous. Your book
  would be sure to have a large sale, and the profits would pay
  my expenses at College, and perhaps leave a large surplus. This
  surplus should be yours, and I would also agree to pay back the sum
  used by me from my first earnings after graduation. I have thought
  over this matter a great deal, and the foregoing strikes me as
  the only way in which this thing can be done. If you can devise a
  better plan, I will of course gladly adopt it. I am not at all
  opinionated, but am always glad to listen to anything reasonable.
  Please let me hear from you as soon as possible, and believe me
  truly your friend and admirer,

  "REGINALD DANBY."



CHAPTER LXXIII.


Mr. Tibbetts, the editor of "The Pilgrim," having returned from the
country, Ruth went to the Pilgrim office to get copies of several of
her articles, which she had taken no pains to keep, never dreaming of
republishing them in book form.

Mr. Tibbetts was sitting at his editorial desk, looking over a pile of
manuscript. Ruth made known her errand, and also the fact of her being
about to publish her book. He handed her a chair, and drawing another in
front of her, said very stiffly, "My partner, Mr. Elder, Mrs. Hall, has
astonished me by the information that you have very suddenly decided to
withdraw from us, who first patronized you, and to write for the
'Household Messenger.'"

"Yes," replied Ruth, "I considered it my duty to avail myself of that
increase of salary. My circumstances have been exceedingly straitened. I
have two little ones dependent on my exertions, and _their_ future, as
well as my own, to look to. You have often told me that you already paid
me all you could afford, so it was useless to ask you for more; beside,
the contract I have accepted, obliged me to decline or accept it by
return of mail, without communicating its contents."

"Ah! I see--I see," said Mr. Tibbetts, growing very red in the face, and
pushing back his chair; "it is always the way young writers treat those
who have made their reputation."

"Perhaps _your_ making my reputation, may be a question open to debate,"
answered Ruth, stung by his tone; "I feel this morning, however,
disinclined to discuss the question; so, if you please, we will waive
it. You have always told me that you were constantly beset by the most
talented contributors for patronage, so that of course you will not find
it difficult to supply my place, when I leave you."

"But you shall _not_ leave," said Mr. Tibbetts, turning very pale about
the mouth, and closing his lips firmly.

"_Shall not!_" repeated Ruth, rising, and standing erect before him.
"_Shall_ not, Mr. Tibbetts? I have yet to learn that I am not free to
go, if I choose."

"Well, you are _not_," said Mr. Tibbetts; "that is a little mistake
of yours, as I will soon convince you. Discontinue writing for 'The
Pilgrim,' and I will immediately get out a cheap edition of your
articles, and spoil the sale of your book;" and he folded his arms, and
faced Ruth as if he would say, "Now writhe if you like; I have you."

Ruth smiled derisively, then answered in a tone so low that it was
scarcely audible, "Mr. Tibbetts, you have mistaken your auditor. I am
not to be frightened, or threatened, or _insulted_," said she, turning
toward the door. "Even had I not myself the spirit to defy you, as I
now do, for I will never touch pen to paper again for 'The Pilgrim,'
you could not accomplish your threat; for think you my publishers will
tamely fold their arms, and see _their_ rights infringed? No, sir, you
have mistaken both them and me;" and Ruth moved toward the door.

"Stay!" exclaimed Mr. Tibbetts, placing his hand on the latch; "when you
see a paragraph in print that will sting your proud soul to the quick,
know that John Tibbetts has more ways than one of humbling so imperious
a dame."

"That will be hardly consistent," replied Ruth, in the same calm tone,
"with the thousand-and-one commendatory notices of 'Floy'--the boasts
you have made of the almost exclusive right to the _valuable services of
so bright a literary star_."

"Of course you will not see such a paragraph in _my_ paper," replied Mr.
Tibbetts. "I am aware, most logical of women, that I stand committed
before the public _there_; but I have many an editorial friend,
scattered over the country, who would loan me _their_ columns for this
purpose."

"As you please," said Ruth. "It were a _manly_ act; but your threat does
not move _me_."

"I'll have my revenge!" exclaimed Tibbetts, as the last fold of Ruth's
dress fluttered out the door.



CHAPTER LXXIV.


Those of my readers who are well acquainted with journalism, know that
some of our newspapers, nominally edited by the persons whose names
appear as responsible in that capacity, _seldom_, perhaps _never_
contain an article from their pen, the whole paper being "made up" by
some obscure individual, with more brains than pennies, whose brilliant
paragraphs, metaphysical essays, and racy book reviews, are attributed
(and tacitly fathered) by the comfortably-fed gentlemen who keep these,
their factotums, in some garret, just one degree above starving point.
In the city, where board is expensive, and single gentlemen are "taken
in and done for," under many a sloping attic roof are born thoughts
which should win for their originators fame and independence.

Mr. Horace Gates, a gentlemanly, slender, scholar-like-looking person,
held this nondescript, and unrecognized relation to the Irving Magazine;
the nominal editor, Ruth's brother Hyacinth, furnishing but one article
a week, to deduct from the immense amount of labor necessary to their
weekly issue.

"Heigho," said Mr. Gates, dashing down his pen; "four columns yet to
make up; I am getting tired of this drudgery. My friend Seaten told me
that he was dining at a restaurant the other day, when my employer, Mr.
Hyacinth Ellet, came in, and that a gentleman took occasion to say to
Mr. E., how much he admired _his_ article in the last Irving Magazine,
on 'City Life.' _His_ article! it took me one of the hottest days this
season, in this furnace of a garret, with the beaded drops standing on
my suffering forehead, to write that article, which, by the way, has
been copied far and wide. His article! and the best of the joke is
(Seaten says) the cool way in which Ellet thanked him, and pocketed all
the credit of it! But what's this? here's a note from the very gentleman
himself:

  "MR. GATES:

  "SIR,--I have noticed that you have several times scissorized from
  the exchanges, articles over the signature of 'Floy,' and inserted
  them in our paper. It is my wish that all articles bearing that
  signature should be excluded from our paper, and that no allusion
  be made to her, in any way or shape, in the columns of the Irving
  Magazine. As you are in our business confidence, I may say, that
  the writer is a sister of mine, and that it would annoy and mortify
  me exceedingly to have the fact known; and it is my express wish
  that you should not, hereafter, in any way, aid in circulating her
  articles.

  "Yours, &c.,    HYACINTH ELLET."

"What does that mean?" said Gates; "_his_ sister? why don't he want her
to write? I have cut out every article of hers as fast as they appeared;
confounded good they are, too, and I call myself a judge; they are
better, at any rate, than half our paper is filled with. This is all
very odd--it stimulates my curiosity amazingly--_his_ sister? married
or unmarried, maid, wife, or widow? She can't be poor when he's so
well off; (gave $100 for a vase which struck his fancy yesterday, at
Martini's.) I don't understand it. 'Annoy and mortify him exceedingly;'
what _can_ he mean? I must get at the bottom of that; she is becoming
very popular, at any rate; her pieces are traveling all over the
country--and here is one, to my mind, as good as anything _he_ ever
wrote. Ha! ha! perhaps that's the very idea now--perhaps he wants to be
the only genius in the family. Let him! if he can; if she don't win an
enviable name, and in a very short time too, I shall be mistaken. I
wish I knew something about her. Hyacinth is a heartless dog--pays me
principally in fine speeches; and because I am not in a position just
now to speak my mind about it. I suppose he takes me for the pliant
tool I appear. By Jupiter! it makes my blood boil; but let me get
another and better offer, Mr. Ellet, and see how long I will write
articles for you to father, in this confounded hot garret. '_His_
sister!' I will inquire into that. I'll bet a box of cigars she writes
for daily bread--Heaven help her, if she does, poor thing!--it's hard
enough, as I know, for a _man_ to be jostled and snubbed round in
printing-offices. Well, well, it's no use wondering, I must go to work;
what a pile of books here is to be reviewed! wonder who reads all the
books? Here is Uncle Sam's Log House. Mr. Ellet writes me that I must
simply announce the book without comment, for fear of offending southern
subscribers. The word 'slave' I know has been tabooed in our columns
this long while, for the same reason. Here are poems by Lina
Lintney--weak as diluted water, but the authoress once paid Mr. Ellet a
compliment in a newspaper article, and here is her 'reward of merit,'
(in a memorandum attached to the book, and just sent down by Mr. Ellet;)
'give this volume a first-rate notice.' Bah! what's the use of criticism
when a man's opinion can be bought and sold that way? it is an
imposition on the public. There is 'The Barolds' too; I am to 'give
that a capital notice,' because the authoress introduced Mr. Ellet into
fashionable society when a young man. The grammar in that book would
give Lindley Murray convulsions, and the construction of the sentences
drive Blair to a mad-house. Well, a great deal the dear public know what
a book is, by the reviews of it in this paper. Heaven forgive me the
lies I tell this way on compulsion.

"The humbuggery of this establishment is only equalled by the
gullibility of the dear public. Once a month, now, I am ordered to
puff every 'influential paper in the Union,' to ward off attacks on
the Irving Magazine, and the bait takes, too, by Jove. That little
'Tea-Table Tri-Mountain Mercury,' has not muttered or peeped about
Hyacinth's 'toadyism when abroad,' since Mr. Ellet gave me orders
to praise 'the typographical and literary excellence of that
widely-circulated paper.' Then, there is the editor of 'The Bugbear,' a
cut-and-thrust-bludgeon-pen-and-ink-desperado, who makes the mincing,
aristocratic Hyacinth quake in his patent-leather boots. I have orders
to toss him a sugar-plum occasionally, to keep his plebeian mouth shut;
something after the French maxim, 'always to praise a person for what
they _are not_;'--for instance, 'our very _gentlemanly_ neighbor and
contemporary, the discriminating and refined editor of The Bugbear,
whose very readable and spicy paper,' &c., &c. Then, there is the
_religious_ press. Hyacinth, having rather a damaged reputation, is
anxious to enlist them on his side, particularly the editor of 'The
Religious Platform.' I am to copy at least one of his editorials once
a fortnight, or in some way call attention to his paper. Then, if
Hyacinth chooses to puff actresses, and call Mme. ---- a 'splendid
personation of womanhood,' and praise her equivocal writings in his
paper, which lies on many a family table to be read by innocent young
girls, he knows the caustic pen of that religious editor will never
be dipped in ink to reprove him. That is the way it is done. Mutual
admiration-society--bah! I wish _I_ had a paper. Wouldn't I call things
by their right names? Would I know any sex in books? Would I praise a
book because a woman wrote it? Would I abuse it for the same reason?
Would I say, as one of our most able editors said not long since to his
reviewer, 'cut it up root and branch; what right have these women to set
themselves up for authors, and reap literary laurels?' Would I unfairly
insert all the adverse notices of a book, and never copy one in its
praise? Would I pass over the wholesale swindling of some aristocratic
scoundrel, and trumpet in my police report, with heartless comments,
the name of some poor, tempted, starving wretch, far less deserving of
censure, in God's eye, than myself? Would I have my tongue or my pen
tied in any way by policy, or interest, or clique-ism? No--sir! The
world never will see a paper till mine is started. Would I write long
descriptions of the wardrobe of foreign _prima donnas_, who bring their
cracked voices, and reputations to our American market, and 'occupy
suites of rooms lined with satin, and damask, and velvet,' and goodness
knows what, and give their reception-soirees, at which they '_affably
notice_' our toadying first citizens? By Jupiter! why _shouldn't_ they
be 'affable'? Don't they come over here for our money and patronage? Who
cares how many 'bracelets' Signora ---- had on, or whose 'arm she leaned
gracefully upon,' or whether her 'hair was braided or curled'? If,
because a lord or a duke once 'honored her' by insulting her with
infamous proposals, some few brainless Americans choose to deify her as
a goddess, in the name of George Washington and common sense, let it not
be taken as a national exponent. There are some few Americans left, who
prefer ipecac in homoeopathic doses."



CHAPTER LXXV.


"Hark! Nettie. Go to the door, dear," said Ruth, "some one knocked."

"It is a strange gentleman, mamma," whispered Nettie, "and he wants to
see you."

Ruth bowed as the stranger entered. She could not recollect that she had
ever seen him before, but he looked very knowing, and, what was very
provoking, seemed to enjoy her embarrassment hugely. He regarded Nettie,
too, with a very scrutinizing look, and seemed to devour everything with
the first glance of his keen, searching eye. He even seemed to listen to
the whir--whir--whir of the odd strange lodger in the garret overhead.

"I don't recollect you," said Ruth, hesitating, and blushing slightly;
"you have the advantage of me, sir?"

"And yet you and I have been writing to each other, for a week or more,"
replied the gentleman, with a good-humored smile; "you have even signed
a contract, entitling me to your pen-and-ink services."

"Mr. Walter?" said Ruth, holding out her hand.

"Yes," replied Mr. Walter, "I had business this way, and I could not
come here without finding you out."

"Oh, thank you," said Ruth, "I was just wishing that I had some head
wiser than mine, to help me decide on a business matter which came up
two or three days ago. Somehow I don't feel the least reluctance to bore
you with it, or a doubt that your advice will not be just the thing;
but I shall not stop to dissect the philosophy of that feeling, lest in
grasping at the shadow, I should lose the substance," said she, smiling.

While Ruth was talking, Mr. Walter's keen eye glanced about the room,
noting its general comfortless appearance, and the little bowl of bread
and milk that stood waiting for their supper. Ruth observed this, and
blushed deeply. When she looked again at Mr. Walter, his eyes were
glistening with tears.

"Come here, my darling," said he to Nettie, trying to hide his emotion.

"I don't know you," answered Nettie.

"But you will, my dear, because I am your mamma's friend."

"Are you Katy's friend?" asked Nettie.

"Katy?" repeated Mr. Walter.

"Yes, my _sister_ Katy; she can't live here, because we don't have
supper enough; pretty soon mamma will earn more supper, won't you mamma?
Shan't you be glad when Katy comes home, and we all have enough to
eat?" said the child to Mr. Walter.

Mr. Walter pressed his lips to the child's forehead with a low "Yes, my
darling;" and then placed his watch chain and seals at her disposal,
fearing Ruth might be painfully affected by her artless prattle.

Ruth then produced the different publishers' offers she had received for
her book, and handed them to Mr. Walter.

"Well," said he, with a gratified smile, "I am not at all surprised; but
what are you going to reply?"

"Here is my answer," said Ruth, "_i. e._ provided your judgment endorses
it. I am a novice in such matters, you know, but I cannot help thinking,
Mr. Walter, that my book will be a success. You will see that I have
acted upon that impression, and refused to sell my copyright."

"You don't approve it?" said she, looking a little confused, as Mr.
Walter bent his keen eyes on her, without replying.

"But I do though," said he; "I was only thinking how excellent a
substitute strong common-sense may be for experience. Your answer
is brief, concise, sagacious, and business-like; I endorse it
unhesitatingly. It is just what I should have advised you to write. You
are correct in thinking that your book will be popular, and wise in
keeping the copyright in your own hands. In how incredibly short a time
you have gained a literary reputation, Floy."

"Yes," answered Ruth, smiling, "it is all like a dream to me;" and
then the smile faded away, and she shuddered involuntarily as the
recollection of all her struggles and sufferings came vividly up to her
remembrance.

Swiftly the hours fled away as Mr. Walter, with a brother's freedom,
questioned Ruth as to her past life and drew from her the details of her
eventful history.

"Thank God, the morning dawneth," said he in a subdued tone, as he
pressed Ruth's hand, and bade her a parting good-night.

Ruth closed the door upon Mr. Walter's retreating figure, and sat down
to peruse the following letters, which had been sent her to Mr. Walter's
care, at the Household Messenger office.

  "MRS. OR MISS 'FLOY:'

  "Permit me to address you on a subject which lies near my heart,
  which is, in fact, a subject of pecuniary importance to the person
  now addressing you. My story is to me a painful one; it would
  doubtless interest you; were it written and published, it would be
  a thrilling tale.

  "Some months since I had a lover whom I adored, and who said he
  adored me. But as Shakspeare has said, 'The course of true love
  never did run smooth;' ours soon became an up-hill affair, my lover
  proved false, ceased his visits, and sat on the other side of the
  meeting-house. On my writing to him and desiring an explanation,
  he insultingly replied, that I was not what his fancy had painted
  me. Was that _my_ fault? false, fickle, ungenerous man! But I was
  not thus to be deceived and shuffled off. No; I employed the
  best counsel in the State and commenced an action for damages,
  determined to get some balm for my wounded feelings; but owing to
  the premature death of my principal witness, I lost the case and
  the costs were heavy. The excitement and worry of the trial brought
  on a fever, and I found myself on my recovery, five hundred dollars
  in debt; I intend to pay every cent of this, but how am I to pay
  it? My salary for teaching school is small and it will take me many
  years. I want you, therefore, to assist me by writing out my story
  and giving me the book. I will furnish all the facts, and the
  story, written out by your magic pen, would be a certain success. A
  publisher in this city has agreed to publish it for me if you will
  write it. I could then triumph over the villain who so basely
  deceived me.

  "Please send me an early answer, as the publisher referred to is in
  a great hurry.

  "Very respectfully yours,
  "SARAH JARMESIN."

"Well," said Ruth, laughing, "my bump of invention will be entirely
useless, if my kind friends keep on furnishing me with subjects at this
rate. Here is letter No. 2."

  "DEAR 'FLOY':

  "My dog Fido is dead. He was a splendid Newfoundland, black and
  shaggy; father gave $10 for him when he was a pup. We all loved him
  dearly. He was a prime dog, could swim like a fish. The other
  morning we found him lying motionless on the door-step. Somebody
  had poisoned poor Fido. I cried all that day, and didn't play
  marbles for a whole week. He is buried in the garden, and I want
  you to write an epithalamium about him. My brother John, who is
  looking over my shoulder, is laughing like everything; he says 't
  is an epitaph, not an epithalamium that I want, just as if _I_
  didn't know what I want? John is just home from college, and thinks
  he knows everything. It is my dog, and I'll fix his tombstone just
  as I like. Fellows in round jackets are not always fools. Send it
  along quick, please, 'Floy'; the stone-cutter is at work now. What
  a funny way they cut marble, don't they? (with sand and water.)
  Johnny Weld and I go there every recess, to see how they get on
  with the tombstone. Don't stick in any Latin or Greek, now, in your
  epithalamium. Our John cannot call for a glass of water without
  lugging in one or the other of them; I'm sick as death of it. I
  wonder if I shall be such a fool when I go to college. You ought to
  be glad you are a woman, and don't have to go. Don't forget Fido,
  now. Remember, he was six years old, black, shaggy, with a white
  spot on his forehead, and rather a short-ish tail--a prime dog, I
  tell _you_.

  "BILLY SANDS."

"It is a harrowing case, Billy," said Ruth, "but I shall have to let
Fido pass; now for letter No. 3."

  "DEAR MADAM:

  "I address a stranger, and yet _not_ a stranger, for I have read
  your heart in the pages of your books. In these I see sympathy for
  the poor, the sorrowing, and the dependent; I see a tender love
  for helpless childhood. Dear 'Floy,' I am an orphan, and that most
  wretched of all beings, a loving, but unloved wife. The hour so
  dreaded by all maternity draws near to me. It has been revealed to
  me in dreams that I shall not survive it. 'Floy,' will you be a
  mother to my babe? I cannot tell you why I put this trust in one
  whom I have only known through her writings, but something assures
  me it will be safe with you; that you only can fill my place in the
  little heart that this moment is pulsating beneath my own. Oh, do
  not refuse me. There are none in the wide world to dispute the
  claim I would thus transfer to you. Its father--but of him I will
  not speak; the wine-cup is my rival. Write me speedily. I shall
  die content if your arms receive my babe.

  "Yours affectionately,    MARY ANDREWS."

"Poor Mary! that letter must be answered," said Ruth, with a sigh;--"ah,
here is one more letter."

  "MISS, or MRS., or MADAM FLOY:

  "I suppose by this time you have become so inflated that the honest
  truth would be rather unpalatable to you; nevertheless, I am going
  to send you a few plain words. The rest of the world flatters
  you--I shall do no such thing. You have written tolerably, all
  things considered, but you violate all established rules of
  composition, and are as lawless and erratic as a comet. You may
  startle and dazzle, but you are fit only to throw people out of
  their orbits. Now and then, there's a gleam of something like
  reason in your writings, but for the most part they are unmitigated
  trash--false in sentiment--unrhetorical in expression; in short,
  were you my daughter, which I thank a good Providence you are not,
  I should box your ears, and keep you on a bread and water diet till
  you improved. That you can do better, if you will, I am very sure,
  and that is why I take the pains to find fault, and tell you what
  none of your fawning friends will.

  "You are not a genius--no, madam, not by many removes; Shakspeare
  was a genius--Milton was a genius--the author of 'History of
  the Dark Ages,' which has reached its fifteenth edition, was a
  genius--(you may not know you have now the honor of being addressed
  by him;) no, madam, you are not a genius, nor have I yet seen a
  just criticism of your writings; they are all either over-praised,
  or over-abused; you have a certain sort of talent, and that talent,
  I grant you, is peculiar; but a genius--no, no, Mrs., or Miss, or
  Madam Floy--you don't approach genius, though I am not without
  a hope that, if you are not spoiled by injudicious, sycophantic
  admirers, you may yet produce something creditable; although I
  candidly confess, that it is my opinion, that the _female_ mind is
  incapable of producing anything which may be strictly termed
  _literature_.

  "Your honest friend,    WILLIAM STEARNS.

  "Prof. of Greek, Hebrew, and Mathematics, in Hopetown College, and
  author of 'History of the Dark Ages.'"

"Oh vanity! thy name is William Stearns," said Ruth.



CHAPTER LXXVI.


"Have you ever submitted your head to a phrenological examination?"
asked Mr. Walter, as he made a call on Ruth, the next morning.

"No," said Ruth; "I believe that much more is to be told by the
expression of people's faces than by the bumps upon their heads."

"And you a woman of sense!" replied Mr. Walter. "Will you have your head
examined to please me? I should like to know what Prof. Finman would say
of you, before I leave town."

"Well--yes--I don't mind going," said Ruth, "provided the Professor
does not know his subject, and I see that there's fair play," said she,
laughing; "but I warn you, beforehand, that I have not the slightest
faith in the science."

Ruth tied on her bonnet, and was soon demurely seated in the Professor's
office, with her hair about her shoulders. Mr. Walter sat at a table
near, prepared to take notes in short-hand.

"You have an unusually even head, madam," said the Professor. "Most
of the faculties are fully developed. There are not necessarily any
extremes in your character, and when you manifest them, they are more
the result of circumstances than the natural tendency of the mind.
You are of a family where there was more than ordinary unity in the
connubial relations; certainly in the marriage, if not in the after-life
of your parents.

"Your physiology indicates a predominance of the nervous temperament;
this gives unusual activity of mind, and furnishes the capacity for a
great amount of enjoyment or suffering. Few enjoy or suffer with such
intensity as you do. Your happiness or misery depends very much on
surrounding influences and circumstances.

"You have, next, a predominance of the vital temperament, which gives
great warmth and ardor to your mind, and enables you to enjoy physical
comfort and the luxuries of life in a high degree. Your muscular system
is rather defective; there not being enough to furnish real strength and
stamina of constitution. Although you may live to be aged, you will not
be able to put forth such vigorous efforts as you could do, were the
motive or muscular temperament developed in a higher degree. You may
think I am mistaken on this point, but I am not. You have an immense
power of will, are energetic and forcible in overcoming obstacles,
would display more than ordinary fortitude in going through trials and
difficulties, and possess a tenacity of purpose and perseverence in
action, which enable you to do whatever you are determined upon doing;
but these are _mental_ characteristics not _physical_, and your mind
often tires out your body, and leaves you in a state of muscular
prostration.

"Your phrenology indicates an unusual degree of respect and regard for
whatever you value as superior. You never trifle with superiority. I do
not mean conventional superiority or bombastic assumption, but what you
really believe to be good and noble. As a child, you were very obedient,
unless your sense of justice (which is very strong) was violated. In
such a case, it was somewhat difficult for you to yield either ready
or implicit obedience. You are religiously disposed. You are also
characterized by a strong belief in Divine influences, providences,
and special interpositions from on high. You are more than ordinarily
spiritual in the tone of your mind. You see, or think you see, the
hand of Providence in things as they transpire. You are also very
conscientious, and this, combined with your firmness, which is quite
strong, and supported by your faith in Providence, gives you a striking
degree of what is called moral courage. When you believe you are right,
there is no moving you; and your friends probably think that you are
sometimes very obstinate; but let them convince your intellect
and satisfy your conscience, and you will be quite tractable, more
especially as you are characterized by unusual sympathy and tenderness
of feeling. You too easily catch the spirit of others,--of those you
love and are interested in, and feel as they feel, and enjoy or suffer
as they do. You have very strong hope with reference to immortality
and future happiness. When a young girl, you were remarkably abounding
in your spiritual anticipations of what you were going to be as a
woman.

"You possess an extraordinary degree of perseverance, but have not a
marked degree of prompt decision. After you have _decided_, you act
energetically, and are more sure to finish what you commence, than
you are ready to begin a new enterprise. You are decidedly cautious,
anxious, mindful of results, and desire to avoid difficulty and danger.
You take all necessary care, and provide well for the future. Your
cautiousness is, in fact, too active.

"You place a very high value on your character; are particularly
sensitive to reproach; cannot tolerate scolding, or being found fault
with. You can be quite reserved, dignified, and even haughty. You
are usually kind and affable, but are capable of strong feelings of
resentment. You make few enemies by your manner of speaking and acting.
You are uniform in the manifestation of your affections. You do not
form attachments readily, or frequently; on the contrary, you are quite
particular in the choice of your friends, and are very devoted to those
to whom you become attached. You manifested these same traits when a
child, in the selection of playmates.

"Your love is a mental love--a regard for the mind, rather than the
person of the individual. You appreciate the masculine mind as such,
rather than the physical form. You have a high regard for chivalry,
manliness, and intellectuality in man, but you also demand goodness,
and religious devotion. It would give you pain to hear a friend speak
lightly of what you consider sacred things; and I hardly think you
would ever love a man whom you _knew_ to be irreligious. Your maternal
feelings are very strong. You are much interested in children. You
sympathize with and understand them perfectly. You are, yourself, quite
youthful in the tone of your mind; much younger than many not half your
age. This, taken in connection with your sympathy with, and appreciation
of, the character of children, enables you to entertain them, and win
them to your wishes; but, at times, you are too anxious about their
welfare. You are strongly attached to place, and are intensely
patriotic. You believe in Plymouth Rock and Bunker Hill. You are not
content without a home of your own; and yet, in a home of your own,
you would not be happy without pleasant surroundings and associations,
scenery, and such things as would facilitate improvement and enjoyment.

"You are very fond of poetry and beauty, wherever you see it,--of
oratory, sculpture, painting, scenery, flowers, and beautiful
sentiments. You must have everything nice; you cannot tolerate anything
coarse or gross. The world is hardly finished nice enough for you. You
are too exacting in this respect. The fact is, you are made of finer
clay than most of us. You are particular with reference to your food,
and not easily suited. You must have that which is clean and nice,
or none. Whatever you do, such as embroidery, drawing, painting,
needlework, or any artistic performance, is very nicely done. Your
constructiveness is very large. You can plan well; can lay out work for
others to advantage; can cut out things, and invent new and tasteful
fashions. Your appreciation of colors is very nice; you can arrange and
blend them harmoniously, in dress, in decoration of rooms, &c. You could
make a slim wardrobe, and a small stock of furniture, go a great way,
and get up a better looking parlor with a few hundred dollars, than some
could with as many thousands.

"You exhibit a predominance of the reflective intellect over the
perceptive, and are characterized for thought, judgment, and the power
to comprehend ideas, more than for your knowledge of things, facts,
circumstances or conditions of things. You remember and understand
what you read, better than what you see and hear; still, you are more
than ordinarily observant. In passing along the street, you would see
much more than people in general, and would be able to describe very
accurately the style, execution and quality of whatever you saw. You
have a pliable mind. You love acting, and would excel as an actress. You
have great powers of sarcasm. You enjoy fun highly, but it must be of
the right kind. You will tolerate nothing low. You are precise in the
use of language, and are a good verbal critic. You ought to be a
good conversationist, and a forcible and spicy writer. In depicting
character and describing scenes, you would be apt to display many of the
characteristics which Dickens exhibits. Your aptness in setting-forth,
your keen sense of the ludicrous, your great powers of amplification,
and the intensity of your feelings, would enable you to produce a finely
wrought out, and exquisitely colored picture. You have also an active
sense of music; are almost passionately fond of that kind which is
agreeable to you.

"You have more than ordinary fortitude, but are lacking in the
influences of combativeness. Your temper comes to a crisis too soon; you
cannot keep angry long enough to scold. You dislike contention. You read
the minds of others almost instantaneously; and at once form a favorable
or unfavorable impression of a person. You are secretive, and disposed
to conceal your feelings; are anxious to avoid unnecessary exposure of
your faults, and know how to appear to the best advantage. You have a
good faculty of entertaining others, but can be with persons a long time
without their becoming acquainted with you.

"You dream things true; truth comes to you in dreams, forewarnings,
admonitions, &c.

"You are liable to be a very happy, or very unhappy, woman. The worst
feature of your whole character, or tone of mind, arises from the
influence of your education. Too much attention was paid to your mind,
and not enough to your body. You were brought forward too early, and
made a woman of too soon. Ideas too big for you were put into your mind,
and it was not occupied enough about the ordinary affairs of life.
This renders your mind too morbid and sensitive, and unfits you
for encountering the disagreeable phases of life. You can endure
disagreeable things with martyr-like firmness, but not with martyr-like
resignation. They prey both on your mind and body, and wear heavily upon
your spirit. You feel as though some one must go forward and clear the
way for you to enjoy yourself; and if by any reverse of fortune, you
have ever been thrown on your own resources, and forced to take care of
yourself, you had to learn some lessons, which should have been taught
you before you were sixteen years old. But in the general tone of
your mind, in elevation of thought, feeling, sympathy, sentiment, and
religious devotion, you rank far above most of us, above many who are,
perhaps, better prepared to discharge the ordinary duties of life. In
conclusion, I will remark, that very much might be said with reference
to the operations of your mind, for we seldom find the faculties so
fully developed, or the powers so versatile as in your case."

"Well," said Mr. Walter, with a triumphant air, as they left the
Professor's office, "well, 'Floy,' what do you think?"

"I think we have received our $2 worth in flattery," replied Ruth,
laughing.

"There is not a whit of exaggeration in it," said Mr. Walter. "The
Professor has hit you off to the life."

"Well, I suppose it would be wasting breath to discuss the point with
you," said Ruth, "so I will merely remark that I was highly amused when
he said I should make a good actress. I have so often been told that."

"True; Comedy would be your forte, though. How is it that when looking
about for employment, you never contemplated the stage?"

"Well, you know, Mr. Walter, that we May-Flower descendents hold
the theatre in abhorrence. For myself, however, I can speak from
observation, being determined not to take that doctrine on hearsay; I
have witnessed many theatrical performances, and they only served to
confirm my prejudices against the institution. I never should dream of
such a means of support. Your Professor made one great mistake; for
instance," said Ruth, "he thinks my physique is feeble. Do you know that
I can walk longer and faster than any six women in the United States?"

"Yes," replied Mr. Walter, "I know all about that; I have known you,
under a strong impetus, do six days' work in one, and I have known you
after it prostrated with a nervous headache which defied every attempt
at mitigation. He is right, Ruth, your mind often tires your body
completely out."

"Another thing, your Professor says I do not like to be found fault
with; now this is not quite true. I do not object, for instance, to
_fair_ criticism. I quarrel with no one who denies to my writings
literary merit; they have a right to hold such an opinion, a right to
express it. But to have one's book reviewed on hearsay, by persons
who never looked between the covers, or to have isolated paragraphs
circulated, with words italicized, so that gross constructions might be
forced upon the reader, which the author never could dream of; then to
have paragraphs taken up in that state, credited to you, and commented
upon by horrified moralists,--that is what I call unfair play, Mr.
Walter. When my sense of justice is thus wounded, I do feel keenly, and
I have sometimes thought if such persons knew the suffering that such
thoughtlessness, to baptize it by the most charitable name, may cause
a woman, who must either weep in silence over such injustice, or do
violence to her womanly nature by a public contention for her rights,
such outrages would be much less frequent. It seems to me," said she
earnestly, "were I a man, it would be so sweet to use my powers to
defend the defenceless. It would seem to me so impossible to use that
power to echo the faintest rumor adverse to a woman, or to keep cowardly
silence in the shrugging, sneering, slanderer's presence, when a bold
word of mine for the cause of right, might close his dastard lips."

"Bravo, Ruth, you speak like an oracle. Your sentiments are excellent,
but I hope you are not so unsophisticated as to expect ever to see them
put in universal practice. Editors are but men, and in the editorial
profession, as in all other professions, may be found very shabby
specimens of humanity. A petty, mean-spirited fellow, is seldom improved
by being made an editor of; on the contrary, his pettiness, and
meanness, are generally intensified. It is a pity that such unscrupulous
fellows should be able to bring discredit on so intelligent and
honorable a class of the community. However," said Mr. Walter, "we
all are more or less responsible, for if the better class of editors
refrained from copying abusive paragraphs, their circulation would be
confined to a kennel class whose opinion is a matter of very little
consequence."

"By the way, Ruth," said Mr. Walter, after walking on in silence a few
rods, "how is it, in these days of female preachers, that you never
contemplated the pulpit or lecture-room?"

"As for the lecture-room," replied Ruth, "I had as great a horror of
that, as far as I myself am concerned, as the profession of an actress;
but not long since I heard the eloquent Miss Lucy Stone one evening,
when it really did appear to me that those Bloomers of hers had a
mission! Still, I never could put them on. And as to the pulpit, I have
too much reverence for that to think of putting my profane foot in it.
It is part of my creed that a congregation can no more repay a
conscientious, God-fearing, devoted minister, than--"

"_You_ can help 'expressing your _real_ sentiments,'" said Mr. Walter,
laughing.

"As you please," replied Ruth; "but people who live in glass houses
should not throw stones. But here we are at home; don't you hear the
'whir--whir'?"



CHAPTER LXXVII.


And now our heroine had become a regular business woman. She did not
even hear the whir--whir of the odd lodger in the attic. The little room
was littered with newspapers, envelopes, letters opened and unopened,
answered and waiting to be answered. One minute she might be seen
sitting, pen in hand, trying, with knit brows, to decipher some horrible
cabalistic printer's mark on the margin of her proof; then writing
an article for Mr. Walter, then scribbling a business letter to her
publishers, stopping occasionally to administer a sedative to Nettie, in
the shape of a timely quotation from Mother Goose, or to heal a fracture
in a doll's leg or arm. Now she was washing a little soiled face, or
smoothing little rumpled ringlets, replacing a missing shoe-string or
pinafore button, then wading through the streets while Boreas contested
stoutly for her umbrella, with parcels and letters to the post-office,
(for Ruth must be her own servant,) regardless of gutters or
thermometers, regardless of jostling or crowding. What cared she for
all these, when Katy would soon be back--poor little patient, suffering
Katy? Ruth felt as if wings were growing from her shoulders. She never
was weary, or sleepy, or hungry. She had not the slightest idea, till
long after, what an incredible amount of labor she accomplished, or how
her _mother's heart_ was goading her on.

"Pressing business that Mis. Hall must have," said her landlady, with
a sneer, as Ruth stood her dripping umbrella in the kitchen sink.
"Pressing business, running round to offices and the like of that,
in such a storm as this. You wouldn't catch _me_ doing it if I was a
widder. I hope I'd have more regard for appearances. I don't understand
all this flying in and out, one minute up in her room, the next in the
street, forty times a day, and letters by the wholesale. It will take
me to inquire into it. It may be all right, hope it is; but of course I
like to know what is going on in my house. This Mis. Hall is so terrible
close-mouthed, I don't like it. I've thought a dozen times I'd like to
ask her right straight out who and what she is, and done with it; but I
have not forgotten that little matter about the pills, and when I see
her, there's something about her, she's civil enough too, that seems
to say, 'don't you cross that chalk-mark, Sally Waters.' I never had
lodgers afore like her and that old Bond, up in the garret. They are as
much alike as two peas. _She_ goes scratch--scratch--scratch; _he_ goes
whir--whir--whir. They haint spoke a word to one another since that
child was sick. It's enough to drive anybody mad, to have such a mystery
in the house. I can't make head nor tail on't. John, now, he don't care
a rush-light about it; no more he wouldn't, if the top of the house was
to blow off; but there's nothing plagues _me_ like it, and yet I aint
a bit curous nuther. Well, neither she nor Bond make me any trouble,
there's that in it; if they did I wouldn't stand it. And as long as they
both pay their bills so reg'lar, I shan't make a fuss; I _should_ like
to know though what Mis. Hall is about all the time."

                 *       *       *       *       *

Publication day came at last. There was _the_ book. Ruth's book! Oh, how
few of its readers, if it were fortunate enough to find readers, would
know how much of her own heart's history was there laid bare. Yes,
there was the book. She could recall the circumstances under which each
separate article was written. Little shoeless feet were covered with the
proceeds of this; a little medicine, or a warmer shawl was bought with
that. This was written, faint and fasting, late into the long night;
that composed while walking wearily to or from the offices where she
was employed. One was written with little Nettie sleeping in her lap;
another still, a mirthful, merry piece, as an escape-valve for a
wretched heartache. Each had its own little history. Each would serve,
in after-days, for a land-mark to some thorny path of by-gone trouble.
Oh, if the sun of prosperity, after all, should gild these rugged paths!
Some virtues--many faults--the book had--but God speed it, for little
Katy's sake!

                 *       *       *       *       *

"Let me see, please," said little Nettie, attracted by the gilt covers,
as she reached out her hand for the book.

"Did you make those pretty pictures, mamma?"

"No, my dear--a gentleman, an artist, made those for me--_I_ make
pictures with a-b-c's."

"Show me one of your pictures, mamma," said Nettie.

Ruth took the child upon her lap, and read her the story of Gertrude.
Nettie listened with her clear eyes fixed upon her mother's face.

"Don't make her die--oh, please don't make her die, mamma," exclaimed
the sensitive child, laying her little hand over her mother's mouth.

Ruth smiled, and improvised a favorable termination to her story, more
suitable to her tender-hearted audience.

"That is nice," said Nettie, kissing her mother; "when I get to be a
woman shall I write books, mamma?"

"God forbid," murmured Ruth, kissing the child's changeful cheek; "God
forbid," murmured she, musingly, as she turned over the leaves of her
book; "no happy woman ever writes. From Harry's grave sprang 'Floy.'"



CHAPTER LXXVIII.


"You have a noble place here," said a gentleman to Ruth's brother,
Hyacinth, as he seated himself on the piazza, and his eye lingered first
upon the velvet lawn, (with its little clumps of trees) sloping down to
the river, then upon the feathery willows now dipping their light green
branches playfully into the water, then tossing them gleefully up to the
sunlight; "a noble place," said he, as he marked the hazy outline of the
cliffs on the opposite side, and the blue river which laved their base,
flecked with many a snowy sail; "it were treason not to be poetical
here; I should catch the infection myself, matter-of-fact as I am."

"Do you see that steamer yonder, floating down the river, Lewis?" said
Hyacinth. "Do you know her? No? well she is named 'Floy,' after my
sister, by one of her literary admirers."

"The ----! _your_ sister? '_Floy_'--your _sister_! why, everybody is
going mad to know who she is."

"Exactly," replied Hyacinth, running his white fingers through his
curls; "'Floy' is my sister."

"Why the deuce didn't you tell a fellow before? I have wasted more pens,
ink, and breath, trying to find her out, than I can stop to tell you
about now, and here you have kept as mum as a mouse all the time. What
did you do it for?"

"Oh, well," said Hyacinth, coloring a little, "'Floy' had an odd fancy
for being _incog._, and I, being in her confidence, you know, was on
honor to keep her secret."

"But she _still wishes it kept_," said Lewis; "so her publishers, whom
I have vainly pumped, tell me. So, as far as that goes, I don't see why
you could not have told me before just as well as now."

Hyacinth very suddenly became aware of "an odd craft in the river," and
was apparently intensely absorbed looking at it through his spy-glass.

"Hyacinth! I say, Hyacinth!" said the pertinacious Lewis, "I believe,
after all, you are humbugging me. How _can_ she be your sister? Here's
a paragraph in ---- Sentinel, saying--" and Lewis drew the paper from
his pocket, unfolded it, and put on his glasses with distressing
deliberation: "'We understand that "Floy," the new literary star, was
in very destitute circumstances when she first solicited the patronage
of the public; often wandering from one editorial office to another in
search of employment, while wanting the commonest necessaries of life.'
There, now, how can that be if she is 'your sister'? and you an editor,
too, always patronizing some new contributor with a flourish of
trumpets? Pooh, man! you are hoaxing;" and Lewis jogged him again by the
elbow.

"Beg your pardon, my dear boy," said Hyacinth, blandly, "but 'pon my
honor, I haven't heard a word you were saying, I was so intent upon
making out that craft down the river. I'm a little afraid of that fog
coming up, Lewis; suppose we join Mrs. Ellet in the drawing-room."

"Odd--very odd," soliloquized Lewis. "I'll try him again.--

"Did you read the panegyric on 'Floy' in 'The Inquisitor' of this
morning?" said Lewis. "That paper, you know, is decidedly the highest
literary authority in the country. It pronounces 'Floy's' book to be an
'unquestionable work of genius.'"

"Yes," replied Hyacinth, "I saw it. It is a great thing, Lewis, for a
young writer to be _literarily connected_;" and Hyacinth pulled up his
shirt-collar.

"But I understood you just now that nobody knew she _was_ your sister,
when she first published the pieces that are now collected in that
book," said Lewis, with his characteristic pertinacity.

"There's that craft again," said Hyacinth; "can't you make her out,
Lewis?"

"No--by Jove," replied Lewis, sarcastically; "I can't make anything out.
I never was so be-fogged in my life;" and he bent a penetrating glance
on the masked face before him. "It is past my finding out, at least just
now; but I've a Yankee tongue in my head, so I don't despair, with time
and perseverance;" and Lewis followed Hyacinth into the house.

"Confounded disagreeable fellow," soliloquized Hyacinth, as he handed
him over to a knot of ladies in the drawing-room; "very awkward that
paragraph; I wish I had the fellow who wrote it, at pistol-shot distance
just now; well, if I am badgered on the subject of 'Floy's' poverty, I
shall start a paragraph saying, that the story is only a publisher's
trick to make her book sell; by Jove, they don't corner me; I have got
out of worse scrapes than that before now, by the help of my wits and
the lawyers, but I don't think a paper of any influence would attack me
on that point; I have taken care to secure all the more prominent ones,
long ago, by judicious puffs of their editors in the Irving Magazine.
The only one I fear is the ----, and I will lay an anchor to windward
there this very week, by praising the editor's last stupid editorial.
What an unmitigated donkey that fellow is."



CHAPTER LXXIX.


"How are you, Walter," said Mr. Lewis, extending his hand; "fine day;
how goes the world with you? They say _you_ are a man who dares to 'hew
to the line, let the chips fly in whose face they will.' Now, I want you
to tell me if 'Floy' is _really_ a sister of Hyacinth Ellet, the editor
of 'The Irving Magazine.' I cannot believe it, though he boasted of
it to me the other day, I hear such accounts of her struggles and her
poverty. I cannot see into it."

"It is very easily understood," said Mr. Walter, with a dark frown on
his face; "Mr. Hyacinth Ellet has always had one hobby, namely--social
position. For that he would sacrifice the dearest friend or nearest
relative he had on earth. His sister was once in affluent circumstances,
beloved and admired by all who knew her. Hyacinth, at that time, was
very friendly, of course; her husband's wine and horses, and his name
on change, were things which the extravagant Hyacinth knew how to
appreciate.

"Hall ('Floy's' husband) was a generous-hearted, impulsive fellow, too
noble himself to see through the specious, flimsy veil which covered so
corrupt a heart as Hyacinth's. Had he been less trusting, less generous
to him, 'Floy' might not have been left so destitute at his death. When
that event occurred, Hyacinth's regard for his sister evaporated in a
lachrymose obituary notice of Hall in the Irving Magazine. The very day
after his death, Hyacinth married Julia Grey, or rather married her
fortune. His sister, after seeking in vain to get employment, driven to
despair, at last resorted to her pen, and applied to Hyacinth, then the
prosperous editor of the Irving Magazine, either to give her employment
as a writer, or show her some way to obtain it. At that time Hyacinth
was constantly boasting of the helping hand he had extended to young
writers in their extremity, (whom, by the way, he paid in compliments
after securing their articles,) and whom, he was constantly asserting,
had been raised by him from, obscurity to fame."

"Well," said Lewis, bending eagerly forward; "well, he helped his
sister, of course?"

"He did no such thing, sir," said Mr. Walter, bringing his hand down
on the table; "he did no such thing, sir; but he wrote her a cool,
contemptuous, insulting letter, denying her all claim to talent, (she
had sent him some specimen articles,) and advising her to seek some
unobtrusive employment, (_what_ employment he did not trouble himself
to name,) and then ignored her existence; and this, too, when he was
squandering money on 'distressed' actresses, etc."

"Well?" said Mr. Lewis, inquiringly.

"Well, sir, she struggled on bravely and single-handed, with the
skeleton Starvation standing by her hearth-stone--she who had never
known a wish ungratified during her married life, whose husband's pride
in her was only equalled by his love. She has sunk fainting to the floor
with hunger, that her children might not go supperless to bed. And now,
when the battle is fought and the victory won, _he_ comes in for a
share of the spoils. It is 'my sister "Floy,"' and 'tis _his_ 'literary
reputation which was the stepping-stone to her celebrity as a writer.'

"To show you how much 'his reputation has helped her,' I will just state
that, not long since, I was dining at a restaurant near two young men,
who were discussing 'Floy.' One says, 'Have you read her book?' 'No,'
said the other, with a sneer, 'nor do I want to; it is enough for me
that Hyacinth Ellet claims her as a sister; _that_ is enough to damn
any woman.' Then," continued Mr. Walter, "there was an English paper,
the editor of which, disgusted with Hyacinth's toadyisms, fopperies,
and impudence while abroad, took occasion to cut up her book (as he
acknowledged) because the writer was said to be Ellet's sister. That is
the way _his_ reputation has helped her."

"No wonder she is at sword's-point with him," remarked Mr. Lewis.

"She is not at sword's-point with him," replied Mr. Walter. "She simply
chooses to retain the position her family assigned her when she was poor
and obscure. They would not notice her then; she will not accept their
notice now."

"Where was the old man, her father, all this time?" said Mr. Lewis, "was
he alive and in good circumstances?"

"Certainly," said Mr. Walter; "and once in awhile he threw her a dollar,
just as one would throw a bone to a hungry dog, with a 'begone!'"

"By Jove!" exclaimed Mr. Lewis, as he passed out, "what a heartless
set."



CHAPTER LXXX.


Ruth returned from her daily walk to the Post Office, one morning, with
a bundle of letters, among which was one from Mr. Walter. Its contents
were as follows:

  "DEAR SISTER RUTH:

  "I wonder if you are enjoying your triumph half as much as I? But
  how should you, since you do not know of it? Your publishers inform
  me that orders are pouring in for your book faster than they can
  supply them. What do you think of that? 'Floy,' you have made a
  decided hit; how lucky that you had the foresight to hold on to
  your copyright. $800 will not be a circumstance to the little
  fortune you are going to make. Your success is glorious; but I
  don't believe you are half as proud of it as I am.

  "And now, I know of what you are thinking as well as if I were by
  your side. 'Tis of the little exile, 'tis of Katy. You would fly
  directly to bring her home. Can I be of any service to you in doing
  this? Business takes me your way day after to-morrow. Can you curb
  your impatience to see her till then? If so, I will accompany you.
  Please write me immediately.

  "Yours truly,    JOHN WALTER.

  "P. S.--I send you a batch of letters, which came by this morning's
  mail, directed to 'Floy,' office of the Household Messenger."

Ruth tossed the "batch of letters" down unopened, and sprang to her
feet; she tossed up Nettie; she kissed the astonished child till she was
half strangled; she laughed, she cried, and then she sat down with her
forehead in both her hands, for a prolonged reverie.

What _good_ news about the book! How could she wait two days before she
brought back Katy! And yet it would be a happy thing, that Mr. Walter,
whose name was synonymous with good tidings, should be associated with
her in the return of the child. Yes, she would wait. And when Katy _was_
secured, what then? Why, she would leave forever a city fraught with
such painful associations; she would make her a new home. Home? Her
heart leaped!--comforts for Nettie and Katy,--clothes--food,--earned by
her own hands!--Tears trickled through Ruth's fingers, and her heart
went out in a murmured prayer to the "God of the widow and fatherless."

"May I play house with these?" said Nettie, touching Ruth's elbow, and
pointing to the unopened letters.

"No, little puss," said Ruth, "not yet. Wait a bit till I have glanced
at them;" and she broke the seal of one.

It was an offer of marriage from a widower. He had read an article of
hers on "Step-Mothers," and was "very sure that a woman with _such_
views could not fail to make a good mother for his children." He was
thirty-five--good-looking, (every man who had written her a love-letter
_was_!) good disposition--warm-hearted--would love her just as well as
if he had never bent an adoring knee to Mrs. Dorrance No. 1--was not at
all set in his ways--in fact preferred she should, in everything, save
him the trouble of _choice_; would live in any part of the Union she
desired, provided she would only consent to _the union_. These last two
words Mr. Dorrance had italicised, as indicating, probably, that he
considered it a pun fit even for the critical eye of an authoress.

"Oh, pshaw!" said Ruth, throwing the letter to Nettie, "make anything
you like of it, pussy; it is of no value to me." The next letter ran as
follows:

  "MADAM:

  "I have the honor to be guardian to a young Southern lady (an
  orphan) of large fortune, who has just completed her education.
  She has taken a suite of apartments, and given me orders to furnish
  them without regard to expense, according to her fancy. I have
  directions to procure busts of Mrs. Hemans, Miss Landon, and
  several other distinguished female writers, among whom Miss Le Roy
  includes 'Floy,' (I have not the pleasure, madam, of knowing your
  true name,) with whose writings she has become familiar, and who is
  as great a favorite with her as she is with the multitude who have
  paid tribute to her genius.

  "Please send me a line, (my address as below,) allowing me to
  inform my ward how her favorite wish can be best carried out.

  "Yours truly,    THOMAS PEARCE."

Ruth glanced around her little dark room and smiled. "I would rather,
instead, that an artist would take a sketch of my room, now," said she;
"that little black stove, where I have so often tried in vain to thaw
my frozen fingers--that rickety old bed--the old deal table, with its
yellow bowl of milk--that home-made carpet--those time-worn chairs--and
then you, my little bright fairy, in the foreground;" and she pushed
back the soft, glossy curls from Nettie's fair brow.

"No, no," said Ruth, "better reserve the niche destined for 'Floy' for
some writer to whom ambition is not the hollow thing it is to me.

"Well, what have we here? Another letter?" Ruth broke the seal of letter
No. 3, and read:

  "DEAR MADAM:

  "I am a poor devil, and worse editor; nevertheless, I have started
  a paper. If you will but allow me to put your name on it as
  Assistant Editress, I am sure it will go like a locomotive. If, in
  addition to this little favor, you could also advance me the sum of
  one hundred dollars, it would be an immense relief to your admirer,

  "JOHN K. STAPLES.

  "P. S.--Be sure you direct to John _K._ Staples, as there is
  another John Staples in this place, who is a great rascal.

  "J. K. S."

"Well!" exclaimed Ruth, "I did not believe I should ever be astonished
again, but then--I had not heard from Mr. Staples. But here is another
letter. Let us see what the contents of No. 4 are."

Letter No. 4 ran as follows:

  "DEAR 'FLOY':

  "I am a better son, a better brother, a better husband, and
  a better father, than I was before I commenced reading your
  articles. May God bless you for the words you have spoken (though
  unintentionally) so directly to me. May you be rewarded by Him to
  whom the secrets of all hearts are known.

  "Your grateful friend,    M. J. D."

"This will repay many a weary hour," said Ruth, as her tears fell upon
the page.



CHAPTER LXXXI.


The rain had poured down without mitigation for seven consecutive
days; the roads were in a very plaster-y state; dissevered branches of
trees lay scattered upon the ground; tubs and hogsheads, which careful
housewives had placed under dripping spouts, were full to overflowing;
the soaked hides of the cattle looked sleek as their owners' pomatum'd
heads of a Sunday; the old hen stood poised on one leg at the barn-door,
till even her patience had given out; the farmers had mended all the old
hoe and rake handles, read the Almanac through and through, and worn all
the newspapers and village topics threadbare, when the welcome sun at
last broke through the clouds, and every little and big puddle in the
road hastened joyfully to reflect his beams.

Old Doctor Hall started down cellar for his "eleven o'clock mug of
cider;" to his dismay he found his slippered pedestals immersed in
water, which had risen above the last step of the cellar-stairs.

"A pretty piece of work this rain has made, Mis. Hall," said the doctor,
stamping his wet feet and blowing his nose, as he returned from his
visit to the lower regions; "the water has overflowed the cellar, and
got most up to those hams that you set such store by. You'd better tell
Bridget to climb over the heads of those barrels, and get the hams out
before they are clean sp'iled."

Before the last words had fairly left the doctor's mouth the old lady's
cap-strings were seen flying towards the kitchen.

"I shan't do it, for anybody," exclaimed the new help, as she placed
her red arms a-kimbo. "I'm not going to risk my neck going over those
tittlish barrels in that dark cellar, for all the hams that was ever
cured."

"You can carry a lamp with you," suggested the old lady.

"I shan't do it, I tell you," said the vixen; "help is skerse out here
in the country, and I can get a new place before sundown, if I like."

"Katy!" screamed the old lady, with a shrill voice, "Katy!"

Katy started from her corner and came out into the entry, in obedience
to the summons.

"Come here, Katy; Bridget is as contrary as a mule, and won't go into
the cellar to get those hams. I cannot go in after 'em, nor the doctor
either, so you must go in and bring them out yourself. Climb up on those
barrel heads, and then feel your way along to the further corner; go
right down the cellar-stairs now, quick."

"Oh, I cannot! I _dare_ not!" said Katy, trembling and shrinking back,
as the old lady pushed her along toward the cellar-door.

"I'm _so_ afraid," said the child, peeping down the cellar-stairs,
with distended eyes, "oh, _don't_ make me go down in that dark place,
grandma."

"Dark, pooh!" said the old lady; "what are you afraid of? rats? There
are not more than half-a-dozen in the whole cellar."

"Can't Bridget go?" asked Katy; "oh, I'm _so_ afraid."

"Bridget _won't_, so there's an end of that, and I'm not going to lose
a new girl I've just got, for your obstinacy; so go right down this
minute, rats or no rats."

"Oh, I can't! if you kill me I can't," said Katy, with white lips, and
clinging to the side of the cellar door.

"But I say you shall," said the old lady, unclinching Katy's hands;
"don't you belong to me, I'd like to know? and can't I do with you as I
like?"

"No!" said Ruth, receiving the fainting form of her frightened child;
"no!"

"Doctor! doctor!" said the old lady, trembling with rage; "are you
master in this house or not?"

"Yes--when _you_ are out of it," growled the doctor; "what's to pay
now?"

"Why, matter enough. Here's Ruth," said the old lady, not noticing the
doctor's taunt; "Ruth interfering between me and Katy. If you will
order her out of the house, I will be obliged to you. I've put up with
enough of this meddling, and it is the last time she shall cross this
threshold."

"You never spoke a truer word," said Ruth, "and my child shall cross it
for the last time with me."

"Humph!" said the doctor, "and you no better than a beggar! The law says
if the mother can't support her children, the grand-parents shall do
it."

"The mother _can_--the mother _will_," said Ruth. "I have already earned
enough for their support."

"Well, if you have, which I doubt, I hope _you earned it honestly_,"
said the old lady.

Ruth's heightened color was the only reply to this taunt. Tying her
handkerchief over Katy's bare head, and wrapping the trembling child in
a shawl she had provided, she bore her to a carriage, where Mr. Walter
and his brother-in-law, (Mr. Grey,) with little Nettie, awaited them;
the door was quickly closed, and the carriage whirled off. The two
gentlemen alternately wiped their eyes, and looked out the window as
Katy, trembling, crying, and laughing, clung first to her mother, and
then to little Nettie, casting anxious, frightened glances toward the
prison she had left, as the carriage receded.

Weeping seemed to be infectious. Ruth cried and laughed, and Mr. Grey
and Mr. Walter seemed both to have lost the power of speech. Little
Nettie was the first to break the spell by offering to lend Katy her
bonnet.

"We will do better than that," said Ruth, smiling through her tears; "we
will get one for Katy when we stop. See here, Katy;" and Ruth tossed a
purse full of money into Katy's lap. "You know, mother said she would
come for you as soon as she earned the money."

"Yes, and I _knew_ you would, mother; but--it was so very--" and the
child's lips began to quiver again.

"She is so excited, poor thing," said Ruth, drawing her to her bosom;
"don't talk about it now, Katy; lean your head on me and take a nice
nap;" and the weary child nestled up to her mother, while Nettie put one
finger on her lip, with a sagacious look at Mr. Walter, as much as to
say, "_I_ will keep still if _you_ will."

"She does not resemble you as much as Nettie does," said Mr. Grey to
Ruth, in a whisper.

"She is like her father," said Ruth; "the resemblance is quite startling
when she is sleeping; the same breadth of forehead, the same straight
nose, and full lips.

"Yes, it has often been a great solace to me," said Ruth, after a pause,
"to sit at Katy's bedside, and aid memory by gazing at features which
recalled so vividly the loved and lost;" and she kissed the little
nestler.

"Nettie," said Mr. Walter, "is Ruth 2d, in face, form and feature."

"I wish the resemblance ended there," whispered Ruth, with a sigh.
"These rose-tinted dawns too often foreshadow the storm-cloud."



CHAPTER LXXXII.


An hour after the conversation narrated in the last chapter, the driver
stopped at a fine-looking hotel.

"This is the place, then, where you are going to stay for a few weeks,
before you leave this part of the country for ----," said Mr. Walter;
"allow me to speak for a dinner for us all; such a day as this does not
dawn on us often in this world;" and he glanced affectionately at little
Katy.

The party was soon seated round a plentifully-furnished table. Nettie
stopped at every other mouthful to look into Katy's eyes, or to kiss
her, while little Katy gazed about bewilderingly, and grasped her
mother's hand tightly whenever her ear caught the sound of a strange
voice or footstep.

"Will you have some soup, little puss?" said Mr. Walter, after they were
seated at the table, pulling one of Nettie's long curls.

"Ask my mother," replied the child, with a quizzical look; "she's the
_soup_-erintendent."

Mr. Walter threw up his hands, and a general shout followed this
precocious sally.

"Come, come," said Mr. Walter, when he had done laughing; "you have
begun too early, little puss; come here and let me feel your head. I
must take a phrenological look at you. Bless me! what an affectionate
little creature you must be," said he, passing his hand over her head;
"stick a pin there now, while I examine the rest of your bumps."

"You must not stick a pin in my head," said Nettie; "I don't like that
way of expressing an o-_pin_-ion."

"No further examination is necessary," said the extinguished Mr. Walter;
"I have done with _you_, Miss Nettie. What do you mean?" whispered he to
Ruth, "by having such a child as that? Are we going to have another
genius in the family?"

"I don't know about that," said Ruth, laughing; "she often says such
things when she gets excited and hilarious, but I never encourage it
by notice, and you must not; my physician told me not to teach her
anything, and by all means not to let her see the inside of a schoolroom
at present."

"Well, well," said Mr. Walter, "Miss Nettie and I must have a tilt
at punning some day. You had better engage, Ruth, to furnish the
Knickerbocker with smart repartees for his 'Children's Table,' from
your own fireside."

"_Prenez garde_," whispered Ruth, "don't spoil her. Such a child needs
careful training; she is high-spirited, warm-hearted, and sensitive;"
and Ruth sighed.

"I interpret your thoughts," said Mr. Walter; "but we must have no
backward glances to-day. Those children will never suffer what you have
suffered; few women ever did. Ruth, for the thousandth time I tell you,
you are a brave woman!"

"--Upon my word," said Mr. Walter, suddenly, blushing and thrusting
his hand in his pocket, "I have committed the sin so common to all
_man_-kind; carried letters for you round in my pocket all this time,
without delivering them: here they are. I never saw a woman have so many
letters as you do, 'Floy;' you'll need a private secretary before long."

Ruth broke the seal of one, saying, "You'll excuse me a few moments,"
and read:

  "TO 'FLOY':

  "DEAR MADAM,--We have established a very successful Infant School
  in our neighborhood, numbering about fifty pupils. Our first
  anniversary occurs next month. It is our intention to gather
  together the parents and children, and have a sort of jubilee;
  hymns will be sung, and short pieces spoken. We should be very much
  obliged to you if you would write us a little dialogue to be
  repeated by two little girls, of the age of six; something sweet
  and simple, such as you know how to write. We make no apology for
  thus intruding on your time, because we know your heart is with the
  children.

  "Yours respectfully,    JOHN DEAN.

  "Secretary of the Leftbow Infant School."


"Patience, gentlemen, while I read No. 2," said Ruth. No. 2 ran as
follows:

  "DEAR 'FLOY':

  "Old Guardy has sent me up to this academy. I hate academies. I
  hate Guardy's. I hate everything but snipe shooting and boating.
  Just now I am in a horrid fix. Every fellow in this academy has to
  write a composition once a week, I cannot do it. I never could.
  My talents don't lie in that way. I don't know where they do lie.
  What I want of you is to write those compositions for me. You can
  do it just as easy as water runs down hill. You could scratch one
  off while I am nibbing my pen. Old Phillips will think they are
  uncommon smart for me; but never mind, I shall keep dark, and you
  are such a good soul I know you can't refuse. My cigars have been
  out two whole days; so you may know that I have no funds, else I
  would send you a present.

  "Yours truly,    HAL. HUNNEWELL."

After glancing over this letter Ruth broke into a merry laugh, and
saying, "This is too good to keep," read it aloud for the amusement of
the company, who unanimously voted Hal. Hunnewell a composition every
week, for his precocious impudence.

"Come, now," said Mr. Walter, as Ruth took up No. 3, "if you have
another of the same sort, let us hear it, unless it be of a confidential
nature."

Ruth looked over the letter a moment, and then read:

  "DEAR 'FLOY':

  "Mamma has read me some of your stories. I like them very much. You
  say you love little children. Don't you think we've got a bran new
  baby! It came last night when I was asleep in my trundle-bed. It
  is a little pink baby. Mamma says it will grow white by-and-bye.
  It has got such funny little fingers; they look all wrinkled,
  just like our maid's when she has been at the wash-tub. Mother
  has to stay in bed with him to keep him warm, he's such a little
  cold, shaky thing. He hasn't a bit of hair, and he scowls like
  everything, but I guess he'll be pretty by-and-bye. Anyhow I love
  him. I asked mother if I might not write and tell you about him,
  and she laughed and said, I don't know who 'Floy' is, nor where she
  lives; but Uncle Jack (he gives me lots of candy and dolls) said
  that I must send it to 'Floy's' publishers! I don't know what a
  publisher is, and so I told Uncle Jack; and he laughed and said he
  would lose _his_ guess if I didn't have something to do with them
  one of these days. I don't know what that meant either, and when I
  asked him, he said 'go away, Puss.' I think it is very nice to have
  an Uncle Jack at Christmas and New Year's, but other times they
  only plague little children. I wish I could see you. How do you
  look? I guess you look like mamma; mamma has got blue eyes, and
  soft brown hair, and her mouth looks very pleasant when she smiles.
  Mamma's voice is as sweet as a robin's, so papa says. Papa is a
  great big man, so big that nobody could ever hurt me, or mamma.
  Papa wants to see you too. Won't you write me a letter, a little
  letter all to myself? I've got a box made of rosewood, with a lock
  and key on it, where I'd hide it from Uncle Jack, (that would tease
  him!) Uncle Jack wants to see you too, but I hope you never will
  let him, for he's such a terrible tease, he'd plague you
  dreadfully. I guess our baby would send his love to you if he only
  knew you. Please write me soon, and send it to Kitty Mills, care of
  Uncle Jack Mills, and please seal it up all tight, so he cannot
  peep into it.


  "P.S.--I want you to write a book of stories for little girls,
  and don't make them end bad, because it makes me cry; nor put any
  ghosts in them, because it scares me; or have any 'moral' down at
  the bottom, because Uncle Jack always asks me if I skipped it.
  Write something funny, won't you? I like funny things, and fairy
  stories. Oh, I like fairy stories so _much_! Wasn't it nice about
  the mice and the pumpkin, in Cinderella? Make them all end well,
  won't you?

  "Your affectionate little    KITTY."

"I suppose you do not feel any curiosity to know what the papers say
about your book," said Mr. Walter, as Ruth refolded her letters. "I have
quite a stock of notices in my pocket, which I have saved up. You seem
to have taken the public heart by storm. You could not desire better
notices; and the best of it is, they are spontaneous--neither begged nor
in a measure demanded, by a personal call upon the editors."

"What on earth do you mean?" asked Ruth.

"Look at 'the spirit of '76' flashing from her eyes," said Mr. Grey,
laughing, as he pointed at Ruth.

"I mean this," said Mr. Walter, "that not long since I expressed my
surprise to an able critic and reviewer, that he could praise a certain
book, which he must have known was entirely deficient in merit of any
kind. His answer was: 'The authoress of that book made a call on me at
my office, deprecated in the strongest terms any adverse criticism in
the paper with which I am connected; said that other papers would take
their tone from mine, that it was her first book, and that her pen
was her only means of support, &c., &c. What can a man do under such
circumstances?' said my informant."

"How _could_ she?" said Ruth. "Of what ultimate advantage could it be?
It might have procured the sale of a few copies at first, but a book,
like water, will find its level. But what astonishes me most of all is,
that any able reviewer should be willing to risk his reputation as a
critic by such promiscuous puffery. How are the people to know when he
speaks his _real_ sentiments? It strikes me," said Ruth, laughing, "that
such a critic should have some cabalistic mark by which the initiated
may understand when he speaks truthfully. It is such a pity!" continued
Ruth thoughtfully; "it so neutralizes criticism. It is such a pity, too,
that an authoress could be found so devoid of self-respect as to do such
a thing. It is such an injury to those women who would disdain so to
fetter criticism; who would launch their book like a gallant ship,
prepared for adverse gales, not sneaking near the shore, or lowering
their flag for fear of a stray shot."

"Do you know, Ruth," said Mr. Walter, "when I hear you talk, I no longer
wonder at Hyacinth's lack of independence and common sense; his share
must, by some unaccountable mistake, have been given to you in addition
to your own. But where are the children?"

They looked around; Katy and Nettie, taking advantage of this prolonged
discussion, had slid from the table, in company with a plate of nuts
and raisins, and were holding an animated conversation in a further
corner.

"Why! what a great, big mark on your arm, Katy," exclaimed Nettie; "how
_did_ it come?"

"Hush!" replied Katy; "grandma did it. She talked very bad about mamma
to grandpa, and I started to go up into my little room, because, you
know, I _couldn't_ bear to hear it; and she called to me, and said,
'Katy, what are you leaving the room for?' and you know, Nettie, mamma
teaches us always to tell the truth, so I said, 'because I cannot bear
to stay and hear you say what is not true about my mamma.' And then
grandma threw down her knitting, seized me by the arm, and set me down,
oh, _so_ hard, on a chair; and said, 'but you _shall_ hear it.' Then,
oh, Nettie, I _could not_ hear it, so I put my fingers in both ears; and
then she beat me, and left that place on my arm, and held both my hands
while she made me listen."

During this recital, Nettie's eyes glowed like living coals. When Katy
concluded, she clenched her little fists, and said:

"Katy, why didn't you strike her?"

Katy shook her head, and said in a low tone, "Oh, Nettie, she would have
killed me! When she got angry she looked just like that picture of Satan
we saw once in the shop window."

"Katy, I _must_ do something to her," said Nettie, closing her teeth
together, and planting her tiny foot firmly upon the floor; "she
_shan't_ talk so about mamma. Oh, if I was only a big woman!"

"I suppose we must _forgive_ her," said Katy thoughtfully.

"_I_ won't," said the impulsive little Nettie, "never--never--never."

"Then you cannot say your prayers," said the wise little Katy; "'forgive
us, as we forgive those who have trespassed against us.'"

"What a pity!" exclaimed the orthodox Nettie; "don't you wish that
hadn't been put in? What _shall_ we do, Katy?"

"Nettie," said her mother, who had approached unnoticed, "what did you
mean when you said just now, that you wished you were a big woman?"

Nettie hung her head for a minute, and twisted the corner of her apron
irresolutely; at last she replied with a sudden effort, "you won't love
me, mamma, but I will tell you; I wanted to cut grandma's head off."

Little Katy laughed outright, as the idea of this Lilliputian combatant
presented itself. Ruth looked serious. "That is not right, Nettie,"
said she; "your grandmother is an unhappy, miserable old woman. She has
punished herself worse than anybody else could punish her. She is more
miserable than ever now, because I have earned money to support you and
Katy. She _might_ have made us all love her, and help to make her old
age cheerful; but now, unless she repents, she will live miserably, and
die forsaken, for nobody can love her with such a temper. This is a
dreadful old age, Nettie!"

"I _think_ I'll forgive her," said Nettie, jumping into her mother's
lap; "but I hope I shan't ever hear her say anything against you,
mother. I'm glad I wasn't Katy. Didn't you ever wish, Katy, that
she might fall down stairs and break her neck, or catch a fever, or
something?"

"Oh, mother, what a funny girl Nettie is!" said Katy, laughing till the
tears came; "I had almost forgotten her queer ways! Oh, how grandmother
_would_ have boxed your ears, Nettie!"

The incorrigible Nettie cut one of her pirouettes across the room, and
snapped her fingers by way of answer to this assertion.

                 *       *       *       *       *

While Ruth and her children were conversing, the two gentlemen were
quite as absorbed in another corner of the apartment.

"It astonishes me," said Mr. Grey to Mr. Walter, "that 'Floy' should be
so little elated by her wonderful success."

"It will cease to do so when you know her better," said Mr. Walter; "the
map of life has been spread out before her; she has stood singing on
its breezy heights--she has lain weeping in its gloomy valleys. Flowers
have strewn her pathway--and thorns have pierced her tender feet. The
clusters of the promised land have moistened her laughing lip--the Dead
Sea apple has mocked her wasted fingers. Rainbows have spanned her sky
like a glory, and storms have beat pitilessly on her defenceless head.
Eyes have beamed upon her smiling welcome. When wounded and smitten,
she fainted by the way, the priest and the Levite have passed by on the
other side. 'Floy' knows every phase of the human heart; she knows that
she was none the less worthy because poor and unrecognized; she knows
how much of the homage now paid her is due to the _showy setting_ of
the gem; therefore, she takes all these things at their true valuation.
Then, my friend," and Mr. Walter's voice became tremulous, "amid all
these 'well done' plaudits, _the loved voice is silent_. The laurel
crown indeed is won, but the feet at which she fain would cast it have
finished their toilsome earth-march."

                 *       *       *       *       *

"It is time we gentlemen were going; let us talk business now," said Mr.
Walter, as Ruth returned from her conversation with the children. "How
long did you propose remaining here, Ruth?"

"For a month or so," she replied. "I have several matters I wish to
arrange before bidding adieu to this part of the country, I shall try
to get through as soon as possible, for I long to be settled in a
permanent and comfortable home."

"I shall return this way in a month or six weeks," said Mr. Walter, "and
if you are ready at that time, I shall be most happy to escort you and
your children to your new residence."

"Thank you," said Ruth. "Good-bye, good-bye," shouted both the children,
as the two gentlemen left the room.



CHAPTER LXXXIII.


"I don't know about holding you _both_ in my lap at once," said Ruth
smiling, as Nettie climbed up after Katy.

"Do, please," said Nettie, "and now let us have a nice talk; tell us
where we are going to live, mamma, and if we can have a kitty or a
rabbit, or some live thing to play with, and if we are going to school,
and if you are going to leave off writing now, and play with Katy and
me, and go to walk with us, and ride with us. Shan't we have some rides?
What is the matter, mamma?" said the little chatterbox, noticing a tear
in her mother's eye.

"I was thinking, dear, how happy we are."

"Isn't that funny?" said Nettie to Katy, "that mamma should cry when she
is happy? I never heard of such a thing. _I_ don't cry when I'm happy.
Didn't we have a good dinner, Katy? Oh, I like this house. It was such
an old dark room we used to live in, and there was nothing pretty to
look at, and mamma kept on writing, and I had nothing to play with,
except a little mouse, who used to peep out of his hole, when it came
dark, for some supper. I liked him, he was so cunning, but I couldn't
give him any supper, because--" here the little chatterbox glanced at
her mother, and then placing her mouth to Katy's ear, whispered, with
a look the gravity of which was irresistible, "because mamma couldn't
support a mouse."

Ruth laughed heartily as she overheard the remark, and Nettie thought
her mother more of a puzzle than ever that she should keep laughing and
crying so in the wrong place.

"What have you there, Nettie?" asked Katy.

"Something," said Nettie, looking very wise, as she hid her chubby hands
under her pinafore. "It is a secret. Mamma and I know," said she with a
very important air, "don't we, mamma? Would you tell Katy, mother, if
you were me?"

"Certainly," said Ruth; "you know it would not be pleasant to keep such
a great secret from Katy."

Nettie looked very searchingly into her mother's eyes, but she saw
nothing there but sincerity.

"Won't you _ever_ tell, Katy ever? it is a terrible secret."

"No," replied Katy, laughing.

"Not even to Mr. Walter?" asked Nettie, who had learned to consider Mr.
Walter as their best friend, and the impersonation of all that was manly
and chivalrous.

Katy shook her head negatively.

"Well, then," said Nettie, hanging her head with a pretty shame, "_I'm
in love!_"

Katy burst into an uncontrollable fit of laughter, rocking herself to
and fro, and ejaculating, "Oh! mamma! oh! did you ever? Oh, how funny!"

"Funny?" said Nettie, with the greatest naîvete, "it wasn't funny at
all; it was very nice. I'll tell you all how it happened, Katy. You see
I used to get so tired when you were away, when I had nobody to play
with, and mamma kept up such a thinking. So mamma said I might go to
a little free school opposite, half-a-day, when I felt like it, and
perhaps that would amuse me. Mamma told the teacher not to trouble
herself about teaching me much. Well, I sat on a little low bench, and
right opposite me, across the room, was such a _pretty_ little boy! his
name was Neddy. He had on a blue jacket, with twelve bright buttons on
it; I counted them; and little plaid pants and drab gaiters; and his
cheeks were so rosy, and his hair so curly, and his eyes so bright, oh,
Katy!" and Nettie clasped her little hands together in a paroxysm of
admiration. "Well, Katy, he kept smiling at me, and in recess he used to
give me half his apple, and once, when nobody was looking,--_would_ you
tell her mamma?" said Nettie, doubtfully, as she ran up to her mother.
"Won't you tell, now, Katy, certainly?" again asked Nettie.

"No," promised Katy.

"Not even to Mr. Walter?"

"No."

"Well, once, when the teacher wasn't looking, Katy, he took a piece of
chalk and wrote 'Nettie' on the palm of his hand, and held it up to me
and then kissed it;" and Nettie hid her glowing face on Katy's neck,
whispering, "wasn't it beautiful, Katy?"

"Yes," replied Katy, trying to keep from laughing.

"Well," said Nettie, "I felt most ashamed to tell mamma, I don't know
why, though. I believe I was afraid that she would call it 'silly,' or
something; and I felt just as if I should cry if she did. But, Katy, she
did not think it silly a bit. She said it was beautiful to be loved, and
that it made everything on earth look brighter; and that she was glad
little Neddy loved me, and that I might love him just as much as ever I
liked--just the same as if he were a little girl. Wasn't _that_ nice?"
asked Nettie. "I always mean to tell mamma everything; don't you, Katy?"

"But you have not told Katy, yet, what you have hidden under your apron,
there," said Ruth.

"Sure enough," said Nettie, producing a little picture. "Well, Neddy
whispered to me one day in recess, that he had drawn a pretty picture
on purpose for me, and that he was going to have a lottery; I don't know
what a lottery is; but he cut a great many slips of paper, some long and
some short, and the one who got the longest was to have the picture.
Then he put a little tiny mark on the end of the longest, so that I
should know it; and then I got the picture, you know."

"Why did he take all that trouble?" asked the practical Katy. "Why
didn't he give it to you right out, if he wanted to?"

"Because--because," said Nettie, twirling her thumbs, and blushing with
a little feminine shame at her boy-lover's want of independence, "he
said--he--was--afraid--the--boys--would--laugh at him if they found it
out."

"Well, then, I wouldn't have taken it, if I had been you," said the
phlegmatic Katy.

"But, you know, I _loved_ him so," said Nettie naîvely.



CHAPTER LXXXIV.


Days and weeks flew by. Katy and Nettie were never weary of comparing
notes, and relating experiences. Nettie thought gloomy attics, scant
fare and cross landladies, the climax of misery; and Katy considered a
score of mile-stones, with Nettie and a loving mother at one end, and
herself and a cross grandmother at the other, infinitely worse.

"Why, you can't tell anything about it," said Katy. "Grandma took away
a little kitty because I loved it, and burned up a story-book mamma
brought me, and tore up a letter which mamma printed in big capitals on
a piece of paper for me to read when I was lonesome; and she wouldn't
let me feed the little snow-birds when they came shivering round the
door; and she made me eat turnips when they made me sick; and she said I
must not run when I went to school, for fear it would wear my shoes out;
and she put me to bed _so_ early; and I used to lie and count the stars
(I liked the seven little stars all cuddled up together best); and
sometimes I looked at the moon and thought I saw faces and mountains in
it, and I wondered if it was shining into mamma's window; and then I
thought of you all snug in mamma's bed; and then I cried and cried, and
got up and looked out into the road, and wondered if I could not run
away in the night, when grandmother was asleep. Oh, Nettie, she was a
_dreadful_ grandmother! She tried to make me stop loving mother. She
told me that she loved you better than she did me; and then I wanted to
die. I thought of it every night. I knew it was not true, but it kept
troubling me. And then she said that very likely mamma would go off
somewhere without letting me know anything about it, and never see me
again. And she always said such things just as I was going to bed; and
then you know I could not get to sleep till almost morning, and when I
did, I dreamed such dreadful dreams."

"You poor little thing!" exclaimed Nettie, with patronizing sympathy,
to her elder sister, and laying her cheek against hers, "you poor
little thing! Well, mamma and I had a horrid time, too. You can't
imagine! The wind blew into the cracks of the room _so_ cold; and the
stove smoked; and I was afraid to eat when we _had_ any supper, for
fear mamma would not have enough. She always said 'I am not hungry,
dear,' but I think she did it to make me eat more. And one night mamma
had no money to buy candles, and she wrote by moonlight; and I often
heard her cry when she thought I was asleep; and I was so afraid of
mamma's landladies, they screamed so loud, and scowled at me so; and
the grocer's boy made faces at me when I went in for a loaf of bread,
and said 'Oh, ain't we a fine lady, aint we?' And the wheel was off my
old tin cart--and--oh--dear--Katy--" and Nettie's little voice grew
fainter and fainter, and the little chatterbox and her listener both
fell asleep.

Ruth, as she listened in the shadow of the further corner, thanked God
that they who had had so brief an acquaintance with life's joys, so
early an introduction to life's cares, were again blithe, free, and
joyous, as childhood ever should be. How sweet to have it in her power
to hedge them in with comforts, to surround them with pleasures, to make
up to them for every tear of sorrow they had shed,--to repay them for
the mute glance of sympathy--the silent caress--given, they scarce knew
why, (but, oh, how touching! how priceless!) when her own heart was
breaking.

And there they lay, in their pretty little bed, sleeping cheek to cheek,
with arms thrown around each other. Nettie--courageous, impulsive,
independent, irrepressible, but loving, generous, sensitive, and
noble-hearted. Katy--with veins through which the life-blood flowed
more evenly, thoughtful, discriminating, diffident, reserved, (so proud
of those magnetic qualities in her little sister, in which she was
lacking, as to do injustice to her own solid but less showy traits;)
needing ever the kind word of encouragement, and judicious praise, to
stimulate into life the dormant seeds of self-reliance. Ruth kissed them
both, and left their future with Him who doeth all things well.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Twelve o'clock at night! Ruth lies dreaming by the side of her children.

She dreams that she roves with them through lovely gardens, odorous
with sweets; she plucks for their parched lips the luscious fruits; she
garlands them with flowers, and smiles in her sleep, as their beaming
eyes sparkle, and the rosy flush of happiness mantles their cheeks. But
look! there are three of them! Another has joined the band--a little
shadowy form, with lambent eyes, and the smile of a seraph. Blessed
little trio. Follows another! He has the same shadowy outline--the same
sweet, holy, yet familiar eyes. Ruth's face grows radiant. The broken
links are gathered up; the family circle is complete!

With the sudden revulsion of dream-land, the scene changes. She dreams
that the cry of "fire! fire!" resounds through the streets; bells
ring--dogs howl--watchmen spring their rattles--boys shout--men whoop,
and halloo, as they drag the engine over the stony pavements. "Fire!
fire!" through street after street, she dreams the watch-word flies!
Windows are thrown up, and many a night-capped head is thrust hastily
out, and as hastily withdrawn, when satisfied of the distant danger.
Still, on rush the crowd; the heavens are one broad glare, and still the
wreathed smoke curls over the distant houses. From the doors and windows
of the doomed building, the forked flame, fanned by the fury of the
wind, darts out its thousand fiery tongues. Women with dishevelled
locks, and snow-white vestments, rush franticly out, bearing, in their
tightened clasp, the sick, maimed, and helpless; while the noble
firemen, heedless of risk and danger, plunge fearlessly into the heated
air of the burning building.

                 *       *       *       *       *

Now Ruth moves uneasily on her pillow; she becomes conscious of a
stifling, choking sensation; she slowly opens her eyes. God in heaven!
it is not all a dream! With a wild shriek she springs from the bed, and
snatching from it her bewildered children, flies to the stairway. It has
fallen in! She rushes to the window, her long hair floating out on the
night-breeze.

A smothered groan from the crowd below. "They are lost!" The showering
cinders, and falling rafters, have shut out the dreadful tableau!
No--the smoke clears away! That portion of the building still remains,
and Ruth and her children are clinging to it with the energy of despair.
Who shall save them? for it were death to mount that tottering wall.
Men hold their breath, and women shriek in terror. See! a ladder is
raised; a gallant fireman scales it. Katy and Nettie are dropped into
the outstretched arms of the crowd below; the strong, brave arm of
Johnny Galt is thrown around Ruth, and in an instant she lies fainting
in the arms of a by-stander.

                 *       *       *       *       *

The butchering, ambitious conqueror, impudently issues his bulletins of
killed and wounded, quenching the sunlight in many a happy home. The
world shouts bravo! bravo! Telegraph wires and printing-presses are
put in requisition to do him honor. Men unharness the steeds from his
triumphal car, and draw him in triumph through the flower-garlanded
streets. Woman--gentle woman, tosses the slaughtering hero wreaths and
chaplets; but who turned twice to look at brave Johnny Galt, as, with
pallid face, and smoky, discolored garments, he crawled to his obscure
home, and stretched his weary limbs on his miserable couch? And yet the
clinging grasp of rescued helplessness was still warm about his neck,
the thrilling cry, "save us!" yet rang in the ears of the heedless
crowd. God bless our gallant, noble, but _unhonored_ firemen.



CHAPTER LXXXV.


"Strange we do not hear from John," said Mrs. Millet to her wooden
husband, as he sat leisurely sipping his last cup of tea, and chewing
the cud of his reflections; "I want to hear how he gets on; whether he
is likely to get any practice, and if his office is located to suit him.
I hope Hyacinth will speak a good word for him; it is very hard for a
young man in a strange place to get employment. I really pity John; it
must be so disagreeable to put up with the initiatory humiliations of a
young physician without fortune in a great city."

"Can't he go round and ask people to give him work, just like cousin
Ruth?" asked a sharp little Millet, who was playing marbles in the
corner.

"It is time you were in bed, Willy," said his disconcerted mother, as
she pointed to the door; "go tell Nancy to put you to bed.

"As I was saying, Mr. Millet, it is very hard for poor John--he is so
sensitive. I hope he has a nice boarding-house among refined people, and
a pleasant room with everything comfortable and convenient about it; he
is so fastidious, so easily disgusted with disagreeable surroundings. I
hope he will not get low-spirited. If he gets practice I hope he will
not have to _walk_ to see his patients; he ought to have a nice chaise,
and a fine horse, and some trusty little boy to sit in the chaise and
hold the reins, while he makes his calls. I hope he has curtains to
his sleeping-room windows, and a nice carpet on the floor, and plenty
of bed-clothes, and gas-light to read by, and a soft lounge to throw
himself on when he is weary. Poor John--I wonder why we do not hear from
him. Suppose you write to-day, Mr. Millet?"

Mr. Millet wiped his mouth on his napkin, stroked his chin, pushed back
his cup two degrees, crossed his knife and fork transversely over his
plate, moved back his chair two feet and a half, hemmed six consecutive
times, and was then safely delivered of the following remark:

"My--over-coat."

The overcoat was brought in from its peg in the entry; the left pocket
was disembowelled, and from it was ferreted out a letter from "John,"
(warranted to keep!) which had lain there unopened three days. Mrs.
Millet made no remark;--that day had gone by;--she had ate, drank,
and slept, with that petrifaction too long to be guilty of any such
nonsense. She sat down with a resignation worthy of Socrates, and
perused the following epistle:

  "DEAR MOTHER:

  "Well, my sign hangs out my office-door, 'Doctor John Millet,' and
  here I sit day after day, waiting for patients--I should spell it
  _patience_. This is a great city, and there are plenty of accidents
  happening every hour in the twenty-four, but unluckily for me there
  are more than plenty of doctors to attend to them, as every other
  door has one of their signs swinging out. Hyacinth has been sick,
  and I ran up there the other day, thinking, as he is a public man,
  it might be some professional advantage to me to have my name
  mentioned in connection with his sickness; he has a splendid place,
  six or eight servants, and everything on a corresponding scale.

  "To think of Ruth's astonishing success! I was in hopes it might
  help me a little in the way of business, to say that she was my
  cousin; but she has cut me dead. How could _I_ tell she was going
  to be so famous, when I requested her not to allow her children to
  call me 'cousin John' in the street? I tell you, mother, we all
  missed a figure in turning the cold shoulder to her; and how much
  money she has made! I might sit in my office a month, and not earn
  so much as she can by her pen in one forenoon. Yes--there's no
  denying it, we've all made a great mistake. Brother Tom writes
  me from college, that at a party the other night, he happened to
  mention (incidentally, of course) that 'Floy' was his cousin, when
  some one near him remarked, 'I should think the less said about
  that, by 'Floy's' relatives, the better.' It frets Hyacinth to a
  frenzy to have her poverty alluded to. He told me that he had taken
  the most incredible pains to conciliate editors whom he despised,
  merely to prevent any allusion to it in their columns. I, myself,
  have sent several anonymous paragraphs to the papers for insertion,
  contradicting the current reports, and saying that '"Floy" lost her
  self-respect before she lost her friends.' I don't suppose that
  was quite right, but I must have an eye to my practice, you know,
  and it might injure me if the truth were known. I find it very
  difficult, too, to get any adverse paragraph in, she is getting to
  be such a favorite (_i. e._ anywhere where it will _tell_;) the
  little scurrilous papers, you know, have no influence.

  "It is very expensive living here; I am quite out of pocket. If you
  can get anything from father, I wish you would. Hyacinth says I
  must marry a rich wife as he did, when I get cornered by duns.
  Perhaps I may, but your rich girls are invariably homely, and I
  have an eye for beauty. Still there's no knowing what gilded pill I
  may be tempted to swallow if I don't get into practice pretty soon.
  Hyacinth's wife makes too many allusions to 'her family' to suit
  me (or Hyacinth either if the truth must be told, but he hates a
  dun worse, so that squares it, I suppose). Love to Leila.

  "Your affectionate son,    JOHN MILLET."



CHAPTER LXXXVI.


"Good afternoon, Mrs. Hall," said one of the old lady's neighbors; "here
is the book you lent me. I am much obliged to you for it. I like it
better than any book I have read for a long while. You said truly that
if I once began it, I should not lay it down till I had finished it."

"Yes," said the old lady, "I don't often read a book now-a-days; my
eyes are not very strong, (blue eyes seldom are, I believe," said she,
fearing lest her visitor should suspect old Time had been blurring
them;) "but that book, now, just suits me; there is common-sense in it.
Whoever wrote that book is a good writer, and hope she will give us
another just like it. 'Floy' is a queer name; I don't recollect ever
hearing it before. I wonder who she is."

"So do I," said the visitor; "and what is more, I mean to find out. Oh,
here comes Squire Dana's son; he knows everything. I'll ask _him_. Yes,
there he comes into the gate; fine young man Mr. Dana. They _do_ say
he's making up to Sarah Jilson, the lawyer's daughter; good match, too."

"Good afternoon," said both the ladies in a breath; "glad to see you,
Mr. Dana; folks well? That's right. We have just been saying that you
could tell us who 'Floy,' the author of that charming book, 'Life
Sketches,' really is."

"You are inclined to quiz me," said Mr. Dana. "I think it should be
_you_ who should give _me_ that information."

"Us?" exclaimed both the old ladies; "us? we have not the slightest idea
who she is; we only admire her book."

"Well, then, I have an unexpected pleasure to bestow," said Mr. Dana,
rubbing his hands in great glee. "Allow me to inform you, Mrs. Hall,
that 'Floy' is no more, nor less, than your daughter-in-law,--Ruth."

"_Im_possible!" screamed the old lady, growing very red in the face, and
clearing her throat most vigorously.

"I assure you it is true. My informant is quite reliable. I am glad you
admire your daughter-in-law's book, Mrs. Hall; I quite share the feeling
with you."

"But I don't admire it," said the old lady, growing every moment more
confused; "there are several things in it, now I think of them, which I
consider highly immoral. I think I mentioned them to you, Mrs. Spear,"
said she, (trusting to that lady's defective memory,) "at the time I
lent it to you."

"Oh no, you didn't," replied Mrs. Spear; "you said it was one of the
best and most interesting books you ever read, else I should not have
borrowed it. I am very particular what I put in my children's way."

"Well, I couldn't have been thinking of what I was saying," said the old
lady; "the book is very silly, a great part of it, beside being very
bold, for a woman, and as I said before, really immoral."

"It is highly recommended by the religious press," said Mr. Dana,
infinitely amused at the old lady's sudden change of opinion.

"You can't tell," said the old lady; "I have no doubt she wrote those
notices herself."

"She has made an ample fortune, at any rate," said the young man; "more
than I ever expect to make, if I should scribble till dooms-day."

"Don't believe it," said the old lady, fidgeting in her chair; "or, if
she has, it won't last long."

"In that case she has only to write another book," said the persistent
Mr. Dana; "her books will always find a ready market."

"We shall see," said the old lady bridling; "it is my opinion she'll
go out like the wick of a candle. People won't read a second edition
of such trash. Ruth Hall 'Floy'? Humph! that accounts,--humph! Well,
anyhow, if she _has_ made money, she had her nose held to the grindstone
pretty well first; that's one comfort. _She_ 'Floy'? Humph! That
accounts. Well, sometimes money is given for a curse; I've heern tell of
such things.

"--Yes, yes; I've heern tell of such things," muttered the old
lady, patting her foot, as her two visitors left. "Dreadful grand,
Ruth--'Floy' feels now, I suppose. A sight of money she's made, has
she? A great deal she knows how to invest it. Invest it! What's the use
of talking about that? It will be invested on her back, in silk gowns,
laces, frumpery, and such things. I haven't a silk gown in the world.
The least she could do, would be to send me one, for the care of that
child.

"--Yes, laces and feathers, feathers and laces. The children, too, all
tricked but like little monkeys, with long ostrich legs, and short,
bob-tailed skirts standing out like opery girls, and whole yards of
ribbin streaming from their hair, I'll warrant. The Catechize clean
driven out of Katy's head. Shouldn't be at all astonished if they went
to dancing school, or any other immoral place.

"--Wonder where they'll live? In some grand hotel, of course; dinner
at six o'clock, black servants, gold salt-cellars and finger-glasses;
nothing short of that'll suit now; humph. Shouldn't be astonished any
day to hear Ruth kept a carriage and servants in livery, or had been to
Victory's Court in lappets and diamonds. She's just impudent enough to
do it. She isn't afraid of anybody nor anything. Dare say she will marry
some Count or Duke; she has no more principle.

"--Humph! I suppose she is crowing well over me. V-e-r-y w-e-l-l; the
wheel may turn round again, who knows? In fact, I am sure of it. How
glad I _should_ be! Well, I must say, I didn't think she had so much
perseverance. I expected she'd just sit down, after awhile, and fret
herself to death, and be well out of the way.

"--'Floy'! humph. I suppose I shan't take up a newspaper now without
getting a dose about her. I dare say that spiteful young Dana will call
here again just to rile me up by praising her. What a fool I was to get
taken in so about that book. But how should I know it was hers? I should
as soon have thought of her turning out Mrs. Bonaparte, as an authoress.
Authoress! Humph! Wonder how the heels of her stockings look? S'pose she
wears silk ones now, and French shoes; she was always as proud as
Lucifer of her foot.

"--Well, I must say, (as long as there's nobody here to hear me,) that
she _beats all_. Humph! She'll collapse, though; there's no doubt of
_that_. I've heard of balloons that alighted in mud-puddles."



CHAPTER LXXXVII.


"Good morning, Mr. Ellet!" said Mr. Jones, making an attempt at a bow,
which the stiffness of his shirt-collar rendered entirely abortive; "how
d'ye do?"

"Oh, how are you, Mr. Jones? I was just looking over the Household
Messenger here, reading my daughter 'Floy's' pieces, and thinking what
a great thing it is for a child to have a good father. 'Floy' was
carefully brought up and instructed, and this, you see, is the result. I
have been reading several of her pieces to a clergyman, who was in here
just now, I keep them on hand in my pocket-book, to exhibit as a proof
of what early parental education and guidance may do in developing
latent talent, and giving the mind a right direction."

"I was not aware 'Floy' _was_ your daughter," replied Mr. Jones; "do you
know what time she commenced writing? what was the title of her first
article and what was her remuneration?"

"Sir?" said Mr. Ellet, wishing to gain a little time, and looking very
confused.

"Perhaps I should not ask such questions," said the innocent Mr. Jones,
mistaking the cause of Mr. Ellet's hesitation; "but I felt a little
curiosity to know something of her early progress. What a strong
desire you must have felt for her ultimate success; and how much your
influence and sympathy must have assisted her. Do you know whether her
remuneration at the commencement of her career as a writer, was above
the ordinary average of pay?"

"Yes--no--really, Mr. Jones, I will not venture to say, lest I should
make a mistake; my memory is apt to be so treacherous."

"She wrote merely for amusement, I suppose; there could be no
_necessity_ in _your_ daughter's case," said the blundering Mr. Jones.

"Certainly not," replied Mr. Ellet.

"It is astonishing how she can write so feelingly about the poor,"
said Mr. Jones; "it is so seldom that an author succeeds in depicting
truthfully those scenes for which he draws solely upon the imagination."

"My daughter, 'Floy,' has a very vivid imagination," replied Mr. Ellet,
nervously. "Women generally have, I believe; they are said to excel our
sex in word-painting."

"I don't know but it may be so," said Jones. "'Floy' certainly
possesses it in an uncommon degree. It is difficult else to imagine,
as I said before, how a person, who has always been surrounded with
comfort and luxury, could describe so feelingly the other side of the
picture. It is remarkable. Do you know how much she has realized by
her writings?"

"There, again," said the disturbed Mr. Ellet, "my memory is at fault;
I am not good at statistics."

"Some thousands, I suppose," replied Mr. Jones. "Well, how true it is,
that 'to him who hath shall be given!' Now, here is your literary
daughter, who has no need of money, realizes a fortune by her books,
while many a destitute and talented writer starves on a crust."

"Yes," replied Mr. Ellet, "the ways of Providence are inscrutable."



CHAPTER LXXXVIII.


"Female literature seems to be all the rage now," remarked a gentleman,
who was turning over the volumes in Mr. Develin's book store, No. 6
Literary Row. "Who are your most successful lady authors?"

"Miss Pyne," said Mr. Develin, "authoress of 'Shadows,' Miss Taft,
authoress of 'Sunbeams,' and Miss Bitman, authoress of 'Fairyland.'"

"I have been told," said the gentleman, "that 'Life Sketches,' by
'Floy,' has had an immense sale--a larger one, in fact, than any of the
others; is that so?"

"It has had a _tolerable_ sale," answered Mr. Develin, coldly. "I
might have published it, I suppose, had I applied; but I had a very
indifferent opinion of the literary talent of the authoress. The little
popularity it _has_ had, is undoubtedly owing to the writer being a
sister of Hyacinth Ellet, the Editor of 'The Irving Magazine.'"

"But _is_ she his sister," said the gentleman; "there are many rumors
afloat; one hardly knows what to believe."

"No doubt of it," said Mr. Develin; "in fact, I, myself, _know_ it
to be true. 'Floy' is his sister; and it is altogether owing to the
transferring of her articles, by him, to the columns of his paper, and
his liberal endorsement of them, that she has had any success."

"Indeed," said the gentleman; "why I was a subscriber both for 'The
Standard,' when her first article appeared in it, and also for 'The
Irving Magazine,' and I am very sure that nothing of hers was copied in
the latter until she had acquired an enviable popularity all over the
Union. No, sir," said Mr. Walter, (for it was he,) "I know a great deal
more about 'Floy' and her writings than _you_ can tell me, and some
little about yourself. I have often heard of the version you give of
this matter, and I came in to satisfy myself if it had been correctly
reported to me. Now, allow me to set you right, sir," said he, with a
stern look. "The Editor of 'The Irving Magazine' never recognized 'Floy'
as his sister, till the universal popular voice had pronounced its
verdict in her favor. Then, when the steam was up, and the locomotive
whizzing past, he jumps on, and says, 'how fast _we_ go!'"

"I think you are mistaken, sir," replied Mr. Develin, with a faint
attempt to retain his position.

"I am not mistaken, sir; I know, personally, that in the commencement of
her literary career, when one or two articles of hers were copied into
his paper by an assistant in the office, he positively forbade her _nom
de plume_ being again mentioned, or another of her articles copied into
the Irving Magazine. He is a miserable time-server, sir. Fashion is his
God; he recognizes only the drawing-room side of human nature. Sorrow in
satin he can sympathize with, but sorrow in rags is too plebeian for his
exquisite organization.

"Good morning, Mr. Develin; good morning, sir. The next time I hear of
your giving a version of this matter, I trust it will be a correct one,"
added he with a stern look.

"Well," exclaimed Mr. Walter, as he walked down street, "of all mean
meanness of which a man can be guilty, the meanest, in my estimation, is
to rob a woman of her justly-earned literary fame, and I wish, for the
credit of human nature, it were confined to persons of as limited mental
endowments and influence as the one I have just left."



CHAPTER LXXXIX.


"Oh, how frightened I was!" exclaimed Nettie, as her mother applied some
healing salve to a slight burn on her arm; "how frightened I was, at
that fire!"

"You mean, how frightened you were _after_ the fire," replied her
mother, smiling; "you were so bewildered, waking up out of that sound
sleep, that I fancy you did not understand much about the danger till
after good Johnny Galt saved you."

"If I did not love Neddy so much, I should certainly give Johnny Galt my
picture," said Nettie, with a sudden outburst of enthusiasm.

"I will see that Johnny Galt is rewarded," replied Ruth. "But this is
the day Mr. Walter was to have come. I hope Johnny Galt will meet him at
the Dépôt as he promised, else he will be so alarmed about our safety
when he learns of the fire. Dear me! how the rain comes down, it looks
as though it meant to persevere."

"Yes, and _pour-severe_ too," said Nettie, with an arch look at her
mother.

Katy and Ruth had not finished laughing at this sally, when Mr. Walter
was announced.

His greeting was grave, for he trembled to think of the danger they had
escaped. After mutual congratulations had been exchanged, a detailed
account of their escape given, and Johnny Galt's heroism duly extolled,
Mr. Walter said:

"Well, I am glad to find you so comfortably housed after the fire; but
the sooner I take all of you under my charge, the better, I think.
What do you say to starting for ---- to-morrow? Are you sufficiently
recovered from your fright and fatigue?"

"Oh, yes," replied Ruth, laughing; "do we not look as good as new? Our
wardrobe, to be sure, is in rather a slender condition; but that is much
easier remedied than a slender purse, as I have good reason to know."

"Very well, then," said Mr. Walter; "it is understood that we go
to-morrow. I have some business to look after in the morning; shall you
object to waiting till after dinner?"

"Not at all," replied Ruth. "In my opinion nothing can equal the
forlornness of forsaking a warm bed, to start breakfastless on a
journey, with one's eyes half open."

"'Floy,'" said Mr. Walter, taking a package from his pocket, "I have
obeyed your directions, and here is something which you may well be
proud of;" and he handed Ruth a paper. It ran thus:

  XXXXXXX+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++XXXXXXX
  X     X                                                       X     X
  X     X                    THE SETON BANK.                    X C   X
  X     X                                                       X A $ X
  X   $ X                  IN THE CITY OF ----.                 X P 2 X
  X   1 X                                                       X I , X
  X S 0 X _Be it known that Mrs. Ruth Hall, of ----, is         X T 0 X
  X H 0 X entitled to one hundred shares of the Capital Stock   X A 0 X
  X A , X of the Seton Bank, and holds the same subject to the  X L 0 X
  X R   X conditions and stipulations contained in the Articles X   , X
  X E E X of Association of such Institution; which shares are  X S 0 X
  X s A X transferable on the Books of the Association by the   X T 0 X
  X , C X said Mrs. Ruth Hall or her Attorney, on surrender of  X O 0 X
  X   H X this Certificate._                                    X C . X
  X     X                                                       X K   X
  X     X _In witness whereof, &c., &c._                        X ,   X
  X     X                                                       X     X
  XXXXXXX+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++XXXXXXX

"There," said Mr. Walter, laughing, "imagine yourself, if you can, in
that dismal attic one year ago, a bank-stock holder! Now confess that
you are proud of yourself."

"We are proud of her," said the talkative Nettie; "if she is not proud
of herself. Don't you think it is too bad, Mr. Walter, that mamma won't
let Katy and me tell that 'Floy' is our mother? A little girl who lived
at the hotel that was burnt up, said to Katy, that her uncle had just
given her Life Sketches for a birth-day present, and told her that she
must try and write as well as 'Floy' one of these days; and Katy looked
at me, and I looked at Katy; and oh, isn't it _too bad_, Mr. Walter,
that mamma won't let us tell, when we want to so much?"

"Well," said Mr. Walter, laughing, "I have only one little remark to
make about that, namely, I have no doubt you two young ladies discovered
some time before I did, that when your mamma says _No_, there is an end
to all argument."



CHAPTER XC.


The morning of the next day was bright and fair. After dinner our
travelling party entered the carriage in waiting, and proceeded on their
way; the children chattering as usual, like little magpies, and Ruth and
Mr. Walter occupied with their own solitary reflections.

One of the greatest luxuries of _true_ friendship is the perfect freedom
one feels, irrespective of the presence of another, to indulge in the
mood of the moment--whether that mood be grave or gay, taciturn or
loquacious, the unspeakable deliciousness of being reprieved from
talking at a mark, hampered by no fear of incivility or discourtesy.
Ruth had found this a great charm in the society of Mr. Walter, who
seemed perfectly to understand and sympathize with her varied moods. On
the present occasion she particularly felt its value--oppressed as she
was by the rush of thoughts, retrospective and anticipatory--standing as
it were on the threshold of a new epoch in her changing existence.

"Where are we going, mother?" asked Katy, as the carriage passed through
a stone-gateway, and down a dim avenue of ancient trees.

"To dear papa's grave," replied Ruth, "before we leave this part of the
country."

"Yes!" murmured Katy, in a low whisper.

                 *       *       *       *       *

It was very beautiful, that old avenue of pine trees, through which the
setting sun was struggling faintly, now resting like a halo on some
moss-grown grave-stone, now gilding some more ambitious monument of
Mammon's raising. The winding cemetery paths, thronged by day with
careless feet, were silent now. No lightsome laughter echoed through
those leafy dells, grating upon the ear which almost listened for the
loved voice. No strange eye, with curious gaze, followed the thoughtful
group, speculating upon their heart's hidden history; but, now and then,
a little loitering bird, tempted beyond its mate to lengthen its evening
flight, flitted, with a brief gush of song, across their pathway.
Hushed, holy, and unprofaned, was this Sabbath of the dead! Aching
hearts here throbbed with pain no longer; weary feet were still; busy
hands lay idly crossed over tired breasts; babes, who had poised one
tiny foot on life's turbid ocean brink, then shrank back affrighted at
its surging waves, here slept their peaceful sleep.

                 *       *       *       *       *

The moon had silvered the old chapel turrets, and the little nodding
flowers glistened with dew-drops, but still Ruth lingered. Old memories
were thronging, thick and fast, upon her;--past joys--past sorrows--past
sufferings;--and yet the heart, which felt them all so keenly, would
soon lie pulseless amid these mouldering thousands. There was a vacant
place left by the side of Harry. Ruth's eye rested on it--then on her
children--then on Mr. Walter.

"So help me God," reverently murmured the latter, interpreting the mute
appeal.

                 *       *       *       *       *

As the carriage rolled from under the old stone gateway, a little bird,
startled from out its leafy nest, trilled forth a song as sweet and
clear as the lark's at heaven's own blessed gate.

"Accept the omen, dear Ruth," said Mr. Walter. "Life has much of harmony
yet in store for you."


THE END.



Transcriber's Note


In this txt-version italics have been surrounded by _underscores_ and
small capitals changed to all capitals.

Obvious errors in punctuation have been corrected silently. Also the
following corrections have been made, on page

   15 "her's" changed to "hers" (Had that craving heart of hers at
      length found)
   79 "its" changed to "it's" (it's an awful cold night to)
   93 "rouès" changed to "roués" (whister-dyed roués)
   93 "batchelor" changed to "bachelor" (bachelors, anxious to give
      their)
  148 double "him" removed (and seating himself at what he)
  199 "christain" changed to "christian" (resignedly as a little
      christian)
  247 "stifly" changed to "stiffly" (peering out from behind a very
      stiffly-starched cap border)
  306 "gullability" changed to "gullibility" (only equalled by the
      gullibility of the dear public)
  377 "sudlight" changed to "sunlight" (quenching the sunlight in many
      a happy home.)
  381 'Floy' changed to "Floy" (saying that '"Floy" lost her
      self-respect before she lost her friends.')
  395 "opiuion" changed to "opinion" (In my opinion, nothing).

Otherwise the original has been preserved, including anomalies and
inconsistencies.





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