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Title: Dawn of the Morning
Author: Hill, Grace Livingston, 1865-1947
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Dawn of the Morning" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



                                  Dawn
                             of the Morning


                                   BY
                         GRACE LIVINGSTON HILL


                               AUTHOR OF
                  MARCIA SCHUYLER, PHOEBE DEANE, ETC.



                                NEW YORK
                            GROSSET & DUNLAP
                               PUBLISHERS

                  Made in the United States of America



                            COPYRIGHT, 1911
                      BY J. B. LIPPINCOTT COMPANY



                          Wings of the Morning


    "The morning hangs its signal
      Upon the mountain’s crest,
    While all the sleeping valleys
      In silent darkness rest;
    From peak to peak it flashes,
      It laughs along the sky
    That the crowning day is coming, by and by!
    We can see the rose of morning,
      A glory in the sky,
    And that splendor on the hill-tops
      O’er all the land shall lie.
    Above the generations
      The lonely prophets rise,—
    The Truth flings dawn and day-star
      Within their glowing eyes;
    From heart to heart it brightens,
      It draweth ever nigh,
    Till it crowneth all men thinking, by and by!
    The soul hath lifted moments
      Above the drift of days,
    When life’s great meaning breaketh
      In sunrise on our ways;
    From hour to hour it haunts us,
      The vision draweth nigh,
    Till it crowneth living, _dying_, by and by!
    And in the sunrise standing,
      Our kindling hearts confess
    That ’no good thing is failure.
      No evil thing success!’
    From age to age it groweth,
      That radiant faith so high,
    And its crowning day is coming by and by!"

    WILLIAM C. GANNETT



                          Dawn of the Morning



                               CHAPTER I


In the year 1824, in a pleasant town located between Schenectady and
Albany, stood the handsome colonial residence of Hamilton Van
Rensselaer.  Solemn hedges shut in the family pride and hid the family
sorrow, and about the borders of its spacious gardens, where even the
roses seemed subdued, there played a child.  The stately house oppressed
her, and she loved the sombre garden best.

Her only friend in the old house seemed a tall clock that stood on the
stairs and told out the hours in the hopeless tone that was expected of
a clock in such a house, though it often took time to wink pleasantly at
the child as she passed by, and talk off a few seconds and minutes in a
brighter tone.

But the great clock on the staircase ticked awesomely one morning as the
little girl went slowly down to her father’s study in response to his
bidding.

She did not want to go.  She delayed her steps as much as possible, and
looked up at the kindly old clock for sympathy; but even the round-eyed
sun and the friendly moon that went around on the clock face every day
as regularly as the real sun and moon, and usually appeared to be bowing
and smiling at her, wore solemn expressions, and seemed almost pale
behind their highly painted countenances.

The little girl shuddered as she gave one last look over her shoulder at
them and passed into the dim recesses of the back hall, where the light
came only in weird, half-circular slants from the mullioned window over
the front door.  It was dreadful indeed when the jolly sun and moon
looked grave.

She paused before the heavy door of the study and held her breath,
dreading the ordeal that was to come.  Then, gathering courage, she
knocked timidly, and heard her father’s instant, cold "Come."

With trembling fingers she turned the knob and went in.

There were heavy damask curtains at the windows, reaching to the floor,
caught back with thick silk cords and tassels.  They were a deep, sullen
red, and filled the room with oppressive shadows in no wise relieved by
the heavy mahogany furniture upholstered in the same red damask.

Her father sat by his ponderous desk, always littered with papers which
she must not touch.

His sternly handsome face was forbidding.  The very beauty of it was
hateful to her.  The look on it reminded her of that terrible day, now
nearly three years ago, when he had returned from a journey of several
months abroad in connection with some brilliant literary enterprise, and
had swept her lovely mother out of his life and home, the innocent
victim of long-entertained jealousy and most unfounded suspicion.

The little girl had been too young to understand what it was all about.
When she cried for her she was forbidden even to think of her, and was
told that her mother was unworthy of that name.

The child had declared with angry tears and stampings of her small foot,
that it was not true, that her mother was good and dear and beautiful;
but they had paid no heed to her.  The father had sternly commanded
silence and sent her away; and the mother had not returned.

So she had sobbed her heart out in the silence of her own room, where
every object reminded her of the lost mother’s touch and voice and
presence, and had gone about the house in a sullen silence unnatural to
childhood, thereby making herself more enemies than friends.

Of her father she was afraid.  She shrank into terrified silence
whenever he approached, scarcely answering his questions, and growing
farther away from him every day, until he instinctively knew that she
hated him for her mother’s sake.

When a year had passed he procured a divorce without protest from the
innocent but crushed wife, this by aid of a law that often places "Truth
forever on the scaffold, Wrong forever on the throne."  Not long after,
he brought to his home as his wife a capable, arrogant, self-opinionated
woman, who set herself to rule him and his household as it should be
ruled.

The little girl was called to audience in the gloomy study where sat the
new wife, her eyes filled with hostility toward the other woman’s child,
and was told that she must call the lady "Mother."

Then the black eyes that held in their dreamy depths some of the
gunpowder flash of her father’s steely ones took fire; the little face
darkened with indignant fury; the small foot came down with fierce
determination on the thick carpet, and the child declared:

"I will _never_ call her mother!  She is _not_ my mother! She is a bad
woman, and she has no right here.  She cannot be your wife.  It is
wicked for a man to have two wives.  I know, for I heard Mary Ann and
Betsey say so this morning in the kitchen.  My mother is alive yet. She
is at Grandfather’s.  I heard Betsey say that too.  You are a wicked,
cruel man, and I hate you.  I will not have you for a father any more.
I will go away and stay with my mother.  She is good.  _You_ are bad!  I
hate you!  I hate you!  _I hate you_!  _And I hate her_!"—pointing
toward the new wife, who sat in horrified condemnation, with two fiery
spots upon her outraged cheeks.

"Jemima!" thundered her father in his angriest tone.

But the little girl turned upon him furiously.

"My name is not Jemima!" she screamed.  "I will not let you call me so.
My name is Dawn.  My mother called me Dawn.  I will not answer when you
call me Jemima."

"Jemima, you may go to your room!" commanded the father, standing up,
white to the lips, to face a will no whit less adamant than his own.

"I will not go until you call me Dawn," she answered, her face turning
white and stern, with sudden singular likeness to her father on its soft
round outlines.

She stood her ground until carried struggling upstairs and locked into
her own room.

Gradually she had cried her fury out, and succumbed to the inevitable,
creeping back as seldom as possible into the life of the house, and
spending the time with her own brooding thoughts and sad plays, far in
the depths of the box-boarded garden, or shut into the quiet of her own
room.

To the new mother she never spoke unless she had to, and never called
her Mother, though there were many struggles to compel her to do so.
She never came when they called her Jemima, nor obeyed a command
prefaced by that name, though she endured in consequence many a whipping
and many a day in bed, fed on bread and water.

"What is the meaning of this strange whim?" demanded the new wife, with
set lips.  Her position was none too easy, nor her disposition markedly
that of a saint.

"A bit of her mother’s sentimentality," explained the chagrined father.
"She objected to calling the child for my grandmother, Jemima.  She
wanted it named for her own mother, and said Jemima was harsh and ugly,
until one day her old minister, who was fully as sentimental as she, if
he was an old man, told her that Jemima meant ’Dawn of the Morning.’
After that she made no further protest.  But I had no idea she had
carried her foolishness to this extent, nor taught the child such
notions about her honest and honorable name."

"It won’t take long to get them out of her head," prophesied the
new-comer, with the sparkle of combat in her eye.  Yet it was now nearly
three years since the little girl had seen or heard from her mother, and
she still refused to answer to the name of Jemima.  The step-mother had
fallen into the habit of saying "you" when she wanted anything done.

Of the events which preceded her father’s summons this morning, Dawn
knew nothing.

Three days before he had received an urgent message from his former
wife’s father, stating that his daughter was dead, and demanding an
immediate interview.  It was couched in such language that, being the
man he was, he could not refuse to comply.

He answered the summons immediately, going by horseback a hard six-hours
ride that he might catch an earlier stage than he could otherwise have
done.  He was the kind of man that always did what he felt to be his
duty, no matter how unpleasant it might be.  It was the only thing that
saved his severity from being a vice.  His father-in-law had laid this
journey upon him as a duty, and though he had no definite idea of the
reason for this sudden demand, he went at once.

No one but his Maker can penetrate the soul of a man like Hamilton Van
Rensselaer to know what were his thoughts as he walked up the
rose-bordered path to the fine old brick house, which a few years before
he had trod with his beautiful young bride leaning upon his arm.

With grave ceremony, the old servant opened the door into the stately
front room where most of Van Rensselaer’s courting had been done, and
left him alone in the dim light that sifted through partly drawn shades.

He stood a moment within the shadowed room, a sense of the past sweeping
over him with oppressive force, like a power that might not be resisted.
Then as his eyes grew accustomed to the half-darkness, he started, for
there before him was a coffin!

His father-in-law’s message had not led him to expect to see his former
wife.  He had gathered from the letter that she might have been dead
some weeks, and that the matter to be discussed was of business, though
probably painfully connected with the one who was gone.

While the news of her death had given him a shock which he had not
anticipated, he had yet had time in his long journey to grow accustomed
to the thought of it. But he was in no wise prepared to meet the sight
of her lying there in her last sleep, so still and white.

Strangely moved, he stepped nearer, not understanding why he felt thus
toward one whom he firmly believed had made utter wreck of his life.

She lay in a simple white gown like the one she used to wear when he
first knew her.  In her hand was one white rose.  It might have come
from her wedding bouquet.  The soft fragrance of it floated up and smote
him with keen and unexpected pain.  The rose had reached where a sword
could not have penetrated.

Death had kindly erased the deep lines of suffering from Mary
Montgomery’s beautiful face, and told no tales of the broken heart; but
to see what he had once loved, pure and lovely as it used to be, with no
trace of the havoc he had wrought upon it, spoke louder to the
conscience of the man than a sorrowful face could have done; for then he
might have turned from her with a hardened heart, saying it was all her
own fault and she had got only what she deserved.  But to see her thus
was as if God’s finger had touched her and exonerated her from all
blame. The sight shook the very foundations of his belief in her
disgrace.

He was filled with conflicting emotions.  He had not supposed that he
could feel this way, for he had thought that his love for Mary was dead;
yet it had raised its dishonored head and given him one piercing look,
while it had seemed to say to his heart, "You are too late!  You are too
late!"

The sound of footsteps coming down the hall recalled him to himself.  It
came to him that this was what he had been brought here for, this
dramatic effect of Mary’s death, perhaps for revenge, perhaps to try to
make him acknowledge that he had been in the wrong.

He stiffened visibly and turned toward the door.  His heart, so
accustomed to the hardening process, grew adamant again, and he was
ready with a haughty word to greet the father, but the dignity of the
white-haired man who entered the room held him in check.

Mr. Montgomery went over to the window, merely giving his visitor a
grave bow in passing, and pushed up the heavy shades.  The sunlight
burst joyously in upon the solemnity of the room, unhindered by the
sheer muslin curtains, and flung its golden glory about the sweet face
in the coffin, making a halo of light above the soft, dark waves of
hair.

The younger man’s eyes were drawn irresistibly to look at her once more,
and the sight startled him more than ever, for now she seemed like a
crowned saint, whose irreproachable life was too sacred for him to come
near.

The old man came over and stood in the pathway of light from the window,
though not so as to hinder its falling on the dead face, and turned
toward his former son-in-law.

Then and not till then did the visitor notice that the old man held in
his arms a beautiful boy between two and three years old.

Proudly the grandfather stood with the chubby arm around his neck and
the dimpled fingers patting his cheek. The sunlight fell in a broad
illumination over the head and face of the child, kindling into flame
the masses of tumbled curls which showed the same rich mahogany tint
that had always made Hamilton Van Rensselaer’s head a distinguished mark
in any company.  The baby’s eyes were a wonderful gray, which even now
held flashes of steel—albeit flashes of fun and not of passion.  As the
man looked, they mirrored back his own startlingly.  In the round baby
cheeks were two dimples strikingly placed, the counterpart of two that
daring Nature had triflingly set in the otherwise stern countenance of
the man.  The likeness was marvellous.

In sheer astonishment the man gazed at the child, and then as he looked
the baby frowned, and he saw his own face in miniature, identical even
to the sternness which was the prevailing expression of his countenance.

Suddenly the man felt that he stood before God and was being judged and
rebuked for his treatment of the dead.  The awful remorse that stung his
soul burst forth in a single sentence which was wrung from him by an
unseen force:

"Why did you never tell me?"

He flashed the rebuke at the old man, but the dark eyes under the heavy
white brows only looked at him the more steadily and did not flinch, as
if they would tell him to look to himself for an answer to his question.

The steady gaze did its work.  It was the Nemesis before which his pride
and self-esteem fell.  His glance went from the righteous face of the
old man to the pure and beautiful eyes of the boy, now frowning with
disapproval, and he dropped into a chair with a groan.

"I have been wrong!" he said, and bowed his head, the last atom of his
pride rent away from him.  There beside the dead, great scorching tears
of bitterness found their way to his eyes, washing away the scales of
blind conceit, and bringing clearer vision.  Mary Montgomery was
vindicated in the eyes of the man who had wronged her.

But the baby frowned and cried softly:

"Hush, bad man!  You go away!  You wake my pitty muvver!  She’s ’s’eep!"

The strong man shrank from the child’s words as from a blow, and looked
up with almost a pleading on his usually cold face.  But the old man
watched him sternly.

"Yes, it is enough.  You may go.  There is nothing more to be said.  Now
you understand.  This is why I sent for you.  It was her right."

"But," said the stricken man, and looked toward the sleeping one in the
coffin, "may I not wait until——"

"You have no right," the old man answered sternly, and the young man
turned away with a strange wild feeling tearing his throat like a sob.

"No, I have no right."

Then with a sudden movement he turned toward the child as if he would
claim something there, but the baby hid his face and clung to his
grandfather’s neck.

"I have no right," he said again.  One last look he gave the sweet dead
face, as though he would ask forgiveness, then turned and went
unsteadily from the room.

The old father followed him silently, as though to complete some
ceremony, and, closing the door softly behind him, spoke a few words of
explanation, facts that had they been brought forth sooner might have
made all things different.  It was Mary’s wish that no word should be
spoken in her vindication while she lived.  If her husband could not
trust what she had told him when he first came home, it mattered not to
her what he believed.  The hope of her life was crushed.  But now that
she was beyond further pain, and for the boy’s sake, her father had sent
for him that he might know these things before the wife he had wronged
was laid to rest.

Then Van Rensselaer felt himself dismissed, and with one last look at
the huddled figure of his little son, who still kept his face hid, he
went down the path again, his pride utterly crushed, his life a broken
thing.

After him echoed the sound of a baby’s voice, "Go away, bad man!" and
then the great oak door closed quickly behind him for the last time.

He trod the streets of the village as in a nightmare, and knew not that
there were those in his way who would have tarred and feathered him if
it had not been for love of the honored dead and her family.  Straight
into the country he walked, to the next village, and knew not how far he
had come.  There he hired a horse and rode to the next stage route, and
so, resting not even at night, he came to his home.  But ever on the way
he had been attended by a vision, on the left a sweet-faced figure in a
coffin, with one white rose whose perfume stifled him, and on the right
by a bright-haired boy with eyes that pierced his very soul.  And
whether on horseback or by stage, in the company of others or alone in a
dreary woodland road, they were there on either hand, and he knew they
would be so while life for him should last.

He reached home in the gray of a morning that was to become a gray day,
and sent up word that his little daughter should come down to his study
when her early tasks were finished.

He had not said a word to his wife as yet, though she had suspected
where he was going when he told her that Mary Montgomery was dead.  It
lifted a great load from her shoulders to know that the other wife was
no longer living.  She had been going about these three days with almost
a smile upon her hard countenance, and the little girl had had no easy
time of it with her father away.


It was very still in the study after Dawn sat down in the
straight-backed chair opposite her father.  She could hear the old clock
tick solemnly, slowly.  It said, "Poor-child!  Poor-child!  Poor-child!
Poor-child!" until the tears began to smart in her eyes.

Her father sat with his elbow on the desk, and his handsome head bowed
upon his hand.  He did not raise his head when she entered.  She began
to wonder if he was asleep, and her heart beat with awe and dread.
Nothing good had ever come to her out of these interviews in the study.
Perhaps he was going to send her away, too, as he had sent her mother.
Her little face hardened.  Well, she would be glad to go.  What if he
should send her to her mother!  Oh, that would be joy!—but he never
would.

She was a beautiful child as she sat there palpitating with fear and
hope.  Her face was like her mother’s, fair, with wild-rose color, and
eyes that were dark and dreamy, always looking out with longing and
appeal.  Her hair, like her father’s only in its tendency to curl, was
fine and dark, and fell about the little troubled face.  It had been the
cause of many a contention between her and her step-mother, who wished
to plait it smoothly into braids, which she considered the only neat way
for a child’s hair to be arranged.  Failing in that, she had tried to
cut it off, but the child had defended her curls so fiercely that they
had finally let her alone.  It was wonderful what care the little girl
took of them herself, for it was no small task to keep such a head of
hair well brushed.  But Dawn could remember how her mother loved her
curls, and she clung to them.  When she lifted the dark lashes there was
a light in her eyes that made one think of the dawn of day.  Such eyes
had her mother.

At last Dawn looked up tremulously to her father, and he spoke.  He did
not look toward her, however, and his voice was cold and reserved.

"I have sent for you, my daughter—"

Dawn was glad he did not use the hateful name "Jemima."

"—to tell you that your mother was a good woman."

"Of course," said the child, with rising color.  "I knew that all the
time.  Why did you ever say she wasn’t?"

"There was a terrible mistake made."  The father’s voice was shaken.  It
gave Dawn a curious feeling.

"Who made the mistake?" she asked gravely.

The room was very still while this arrow found its way into the father’s
heart.

"I did."  His voice sounded hoarse.  The little girl felt almost sorry
for him.

"Oh!  Then you will bring her right back to us again and send this other
woman away, won’t you?"

"Child, your mother is dead!"

Dawn’s face went as white as death, and she sprang to her feet, clasping
her hands in horror.

"Then you have killed her!" she screamed.  "You have killed her!  My
beautiful mother!" and with a wild cry she flung herself upon the floor
and broke into a passion of tears.

The strong man writhed in anguish as his little child set the mark of
Cain upon his forehead.

The outcry brought the step-mother, but neither noticed her as she
entered and demanded the reason for this scene. She tried to pick the
child up from the floor, but Dawn only beat her off with kicks and
screams, and they finally went away and left her weeping there upon the
floor.  Her father took his hat and walked out into the woods.  There he
stayed for hours, while the wife went about with set lips and a glint in
her eye that boded no good for the child.

Finally the sobs grew less and less frequent, and the old clock in the
hall could again be heard in her ears, as she sobbed herself slowly to
sleep: "Poor-child!  Poor-child! Poor-child!  Poor-child!"

It was after this that they sent her away to school.



                               CHAPTER II


Her father placed her on a Hudson River steamer in charge of the
captain, whom he knew, and in company with two other little girls, who
were returning to the school of Friend Isaac and Friend Ruth after a
short vacation.

Dawn, attired in the grave Quaker garb of the school, leaned over the
rail of the deck, inconsequently swinging by its ribbons her long gray
pocket containing a hundred dollars wherewith to pay her entrance fee
and provide necessities, and watched her unloved father walk away from
the landing.

"Thee and thou and thy long pocket!" called out a saucy deck-hand to the
three little girls, and Dawn turned with an angry flash in her eyes to
take up the work of facing the world single-handed.

She did not drop the pocket into the water, nor fall overboard, but bore
herself discreetly all through the journey, and made her entrance into
the new life demurely, save for the independent stand she took upon her
arrival:

"My name is Dawn Van Rensselaer, and my mother wishes me to wear my
curls just as they are."

Her two fellow-travellers had given her cause to believe that there
would be an immediate raid made upon her precious curls, and her
determined spirit decided to make a stand at the start, and not to give
in for anything.  The quiet remark created almost a panic for a brief
moment, coming thus unexpectedly into the decorous order of the place.
Friend Ruth caught her breath, and two faint pink spots appeared in her
smooth cheeks.

"Thee will wear thy hair smoothly plaited, child, as the others do,
unless it be cut close," she said decidedly, laying her thin pink lips
smoothly together over even teeth.  "Thee will write to thy mother that
it is our custom here to allow nothing frivolous or worldly in the dress
of our pupils."

One glance at the cool gray eye of her oppressor decided Dawn to hide in
her heart forever the fact that the mother whose wish she was flaunting
was no more in this world, nor longer had the legal right to express her
wishes concerning her child.  With ready wits she argued the matter:

"But it isn’t worldly.  God made my curls, and it is just as bad to
plait them up and take out the curl as it would be to go to work and
curl them on an iron if they were straight.  My curls are n’t frivolous,
and I take care of them myself.  My mother loves them, and I must do as
she says."

Friend Ruth looked at the determined little face set in its frame of
dark curls, and hesitated.  She was not used to logic from a child, yet
there seemed to be reason in the words.  Besides, Friend Ruth was a
great advocate of honor to parents.  It was a complicated question.  She
decided to temporize.

"I will speak to Friend Isaac about the matter, but thee will have to
wear them in a net.  It is untidy to have curls tumbling about thy
face."

That was the end of the matter.  Dawn wore her curls without further
question, albeit in a plain, dark net. Though outwardly the little girl
was docile, except upon occasion, Friend Ruth learned to avoid any
crossing of swords with the young logician, for she nearly always got
the worst of it.

Dawn took to learning as a bird to the air, having inherited her
father’s brilliant mind and taste for letters, combined with her
mother’s keen insight and wide perceptive faculties.  Her lessons were
always easily and perfectly learned, and she looked with contempt upon
the plodders who could not get time from their tasks for the fun which
she was always ready to lead.

The pranks she played were many.  On one occasion she led an expedition
of the entire school in a slide down a newly made straw-stack, thereby
damaging its geometrical shape and necessitating several hours’ work by
the farmhands.  As a punishment, she was remanded to the garden alone to
write a composition on the beauties of Nature. It began:


A great green worm come cameing down the populo tree with great
tribusence.


Friend Ruth read the finished composition with the dismay of a hen which
has a duck on its hands, and handed it over to Friend Isaac.

"The child has an original mind, and is going to be a brilliant woman,"
he remarked gravely.

"Yes, Isaac, but thee will not tell her so," said Friend Ruth quickly.


Six years had passed since Dawn, a child of ten, had come to the school,
and she had never gone home.  It had been her own wish, and for once her
father and stepmother were willing to accede to her.  To both, the sight
of her and the thought of her were painful.  Her father had visited her
every year and brought with him a full supply of the modest wardrobe
that the school allowed, and Dawn had money to meet all her necessary
expenses. She lived a sort of triple life—one in the world of her
studies, in which she sometimes took deep delight, often going far ahead
of her classes because she wanted to see what came next; one in the
world of play, where she was leader in all sorts of mischief, getting
the older ones into endless difficulties with the teachers, and
protecting the little ones, even to her own detriment at times; the
third life was lived alone in the fields or the woods, where she might
sit quietly and look up into the blue sky, listening to the music of the
winds and the birds or the sad chirp of a cricket, taking a little
grasshopper into her confidence, talking to a friendly squirrel on the
maple bough overhead—here was where she really lived.  On the walls of
her memory were hung strange, sad pictures of the past. Always on such
occasions the mother all in white, with starry eyes, hovered over her,
and seemed to listen to the wild longing that beat in her young heart,
and to pour a benediction upon her.

She could not think of her father except sadly or bitterly, and so as
much as possible she put him out of her thoughts.  By degrees, as she
came to see on his annual visits how old and careworn he was grown, how
haunted and haggard were his eyes, she grew to pity him, but never to
love, for her mother had been her idol, and he had killed her mother.
That the girl could not forget, though as she grew older she felt with a
kind of spiritual instinct that she must forgive.  She felt it was his
own blindness and stupidity that had done it, and that he was suffering
some measure of punishment for his deed. She never actually put these
thoughts before her in so many words.  They were rather a sort of
growing undertone of consciousness in her, as her mental and spiritual
faculties developed.

In one year more she would be through with the school course.  For some
time she had been dreading the thought, and wondering what would come to
her next?  If she might go somewhere and "teach school,"—but she felt
certain her father would never allow that.  He was proud and held ideas
about woman’s sphere.  Though she could scarcely be said to know him
well, still she felt without asking that he would never consent.
Sometimes she even entertained vague thoughts of running away when she
should be through school, for the idea of dwelling under her father’s
roof again, under control of the woman who had usurped her mother’s
place, she could not abide.

It was therefore with trepidation that she received a message in the
school-room one morning, bidding her come to the parlor to meet her
father.  The fair face flushed and the brow darkened with trouble.  It
was not the usual time for her father’s annual visit.  Did it mean that
he was going to take her away from the school?  Her young heart beat to
the old tune of the friendly clock at home as she went to answer the
summons: "Poor-child! Poor-child!  Poor-child!  Poor-child!"

But in the square, plain parlor, with its hair-cloth furniture, its gray
paper window-shades, and its neutral-tinted ingrain carpet, there sat
two men with Friend Ruth, instead of one.

Her father looked older than ever before.  His hair was silvering about
the edges, though he was still what would have been called a young man.
The stranger was younger, yet with an old look about his eyes, as if
they had been living longer than the rest of his face.

Dawn paused in the doorway and looked from one to the other.  She had
put up her hand as she reached the door, and drawn from her head the net
which held her beautiful curls in leash.  They fell about her lovely
face in the fashion of the day.  They were grown long and thick, but
still kept their baby softness and fineness of texture.  She made a
charming picture standing thus with the door-latch in her hand,
hesitating almost shyly, though she was not unduly shy.  Even in her
Quaker garb, with the sheer folds of the snowy kerchief about her neck,
she looked an unusually beautiful girl.  The young stranger saw and took
notice as he rose to receive the impersonal introduction that her father
gave.

The girl looked at them both gravely, with an alert watchfulness.  Of
the stare of open admiration with which the stranger regarded her, she
seemed not even to be aware, though Friend Ruth noticed it with
disapproval.

Dawn took the chair to which Friend Ruth motioned her, at some distance
from the young man, and sat demurely waiting, her eyes wide with
apprehension.  Her father asked about her conduct and standing in the
school, but no flush of embarrassment came to the face of the watching
girl, though Friend Ruth gave unwonted praise of the past year’s work.
At another time it would have astonished and pleased her, but now she
felt it was a mere preliminary to the real object of her father’s visit.

As soon as there came a break in the conversation, the stranger took a
part, admiring the location of the school, and saying he would be glad
if he might look about the place, as he had a friend who wished to send
his daughter away to school somewhere, and it would be a pleasure to be
able to speak in detail of this delightful spot.  Was there a view of
the Hudson from this point?  Indeed!  Perhaps the young lady would be so
kind as to show it to him?

Friend Ruth hesitated, but the father waved a command to his daughter.
Frowning, she arose to obey.  She felt the whole thing was a subterfuge
to get her from the room while the real object of her father’s
unexpected visit was divulged.

She led the way through the wide hall, out to the pillared veranda, and
down the sloping lawn to the bluff which overlooked the river, where
plied a steamer on its silver course.  Apathetically she pointed out the
places of interest.  She scarcely heard her companion’s eager attempts
at conversation.  He noted the absent look in her dark eyes.

"You do not like it here?" he asked, letting his tone become gentle, in
coaxing confidence.

"Oh, yes," she answered quickly, with a flit of trouble across her face.
"At least, I think I do.  I do not care to go away."

"Not to your beautiful home?" he asked insinuatingly. "And your mother?"
he added, his eyes narrowing to observe her expression more closely.

"She is not my mother," answered the girl coldly, and became at once
reserved, as if she were sorry for having spoken so plainly.

"Oh, I beg your pardon!  I did not know," murmured the stranger, making
mental note of her change of expression.

Suddenly her eyes flashed wide upon him, and she dashed a question out
with a way that compelled an answer:

"Has my father come to take me home, do you know?"

"Oh, no, not at all," answered the young man suavely. He was delighted
to have found this key to her thoughts. It led just where he desired.
"We are merely taking a business trip together, and your father stopped
off to see how things were going with you.  I am sure I am delighted
that he did, for it has given me great pleasure to meet you."

"Why?" asked the girl, lifting relieved eyes to his face in mild
astonishment.

He gave a half-embarrassed laugh at this frank way of meeting him.

"Now, surely, you do not need to ask me that," he said, looking down at
her meaningly, his eyes gazing into the innocent ones in open and
intimate admiration.  "You must know how beautiful you are!"

With a startled expression, she searched his face, and then, not finding
it pleasant, turned away with a look resembling her father in its
sternness.

"I don’t think that is a nice way for a man to talk to a girl," she said
in a displeased tone.  "I am too big to be spoken to in that way.  I am
past sixteen, and shall be done school next year."

He dropped the offending manner at once, and begged her pardon, pleading
that her father had talked of her as a child.  He asked also that she
would let him be her friend, for he felt that they would be congenial,
and all the more that she was growing into womanhood.

Her gravity did not relax, however, and her eyes searched his face
suspiciously.

"I think we would better go into the house," she said soberly.  "Friend
Ruth will not like my staying out so long, and I must see my father
again."

"But will you be my friend?" he insisted, as they turned their steps
toward the house.

"How could we be friends?  You are not in the school, and I never go
away.  Besides, I don’t see what would be the use."

"Don’t you like me at all?" he asked, putting on the tone which had
turned many a girl’s head.

"Why, I don’t know you even a little bit.  How could I like you?
Besides, why should I?" answered Dawn frankly.

"You are deliriously plain-spoken."

She caught her lip between her teeth in a vexed way. Why would he
persist in talking to her as if she were a child?

"There, now I have vexed you again," he said, pretending to be much
dismayed, "but indeed you misunderstand me.  I do not look upon you as a
child at all.  Many a girl is married at your age, and you will soon be
a lovely woman.  I want you for my friend.  Are you not willing?"

"I don’t know," said the girl bluntly, looking troubled. "I should have
to think about it, and I don’t see why I should.  I shall be here a
whole year yet, and I shall never see you.  I wish I could stay here
always," she ended passionately.  "I never want to go home."

"Perhaps you will not need to go there," he said insinuatingly,
wondering how it was she was so different from other girls.  She did not
seem to understand coquetry. Her eyes met his now in mild question.

"You may marry and have a home of your own," he answered her unspoken
question.  A startled expression came into her eyes.

"Oh, no," she said quickly; "I don’t think that will ever happen.  I
don’t want that to happen;" and she drew away from him as if the thought
frightened her. "Married people are not happy."

"Nonsense!" said the young man gayly.  He had planted the seed in what
looked like fallow ground, and perhaps one day it would blossom for him.
"There are plenty of happy married people.  I’ve a good old father and
mother who just worship each other.  They’ve been happy as clams all
their lives, and I know a great many more.

"My father and mother were not happy," said Dawn gravely.  "Friend Ruth
and Friend Isaac do not seem to be very happy either, though of course
this isn’t a real home.  But they are never cross," she added in
conscientious explanation.

"If you were married, you could have a real home of your own, and have
things just as you wanted them," the young man remarked cunningly.

"That would be nice," said the girl thoughtfully.  "I should like that
part, but I think I would like it better without being married.  There
are father and Friend Ruth looking for us.  Let us hurry."

"But you have not told me whether you will let me be your friend," he
said, detaining her under a great elm tree, and looking off toward the
river, as if he were still watching the steamer.  "If you will let me be
your friend, I will get permission to come and see you now and then, and
I will bring you a box of sweets.  You will like that, won’t you?  All
girls are fond of sweets."

"I don’t know," answered Dawn slowly, looking at him with troubled eyes,
and wondering why it was that his eyes reminded her of a fish.

"The other girls would like the sweets," he suggested.

"Could I give them away?" she asked with a flash of interest.

"You may do anything you like with them," he responded eagerly.  "So it
is all settled, then, and I may be your friend?"

"I don’t know," said Dawn again.  "I suppose it will have to be as
father and Friend Ruth say."

"No need to consult them in the matter.  Leave that to me.  All I want
is your consent.  Remember I am going to visit you next month and bring
you something nice."

But by this time the others had reached them.

"Charming view, Mr. Van Rensselaer.  I had no idea you could see New
York so plainly from this point," said the young man.

Dawn stepped over and stood beside Friend Ruth, looking thoughtfully
down the river.  She would like the box of confections well enough, for
not many sweets were allowed at the school and they could have a treat
down in the woods, beside the brook.  But somehow she had a vague
uneasiness about this friendship.  She did not like the stranger’s face.

Her father and the other man went away after the noonday meal.  The
stranger’s name, she learned, was Harrington Winthrop, and that he was
interested in a business enterprise with her father.  The matter passed
entirely from her mind, only, after that, when she sat alone to brood
over her life, a new dream took the place of the old.  Always there was
a lovely home all her own, with comfortable chairs and plenty of books,
and thin, sprigged china, such as had been her mother’s.  In this home
she was sole mistress.  Day by day she dreamed out the pretty rooms, and
dwelt in them, and even occasionally let her imagination people them.
The image of her beautiful mother hovered about that home and stayed,
but there came into it no one to annoy or disturb.

When the two men settled themselves in the stage that night, the younger
began to talk:

"Do you know you have a very beautiful daughter, Mr. Van Rensselaer?"

The father started from the reverie into which he had fallen.  The look
of the moonlight was reminding him of a night over sixteen years ago,
when he and Mary had taken this same stage trip.  Strange he could not
get away from the thought of it.  Ah, yes! it had been the look of his
daughter that had brought back Mary’s face, for the girl was grown to be
the image of her mother, save for a certain sad flitting of severity.
In the moonlight outside the coach he seemed to see again the sweet face
in the coffin, and he compared it with the warm living face of the girl
whom he had been to see that day.  He knew that between his daughter and
him was an impenetrable barrier that could never be removed, and the
thought of it pierced his soul as it never had before.  A great yearning
and pity for his motherless, fatherless girl had come into his cold,
empty heart as he had watched her move silently about. But ever present
was the thought that he had no right—no right in her either, no matter
how much he might try.  No one would have suspected him of such
feelings.  He hid them deep under his grim and brilliant exterior,
sternly self-contained in any situation.  But now, in the half-darkness,
a new thought came into his mind, and he started and gave his attention
to the words of his companion.

"Is she your only child?"

The question made him start again.  There was a long pause, so long that
Harrington Winthrop thought he had not been heard; then a husky voice
answered out of the shadows of the coach:

"No, there was another—a little boy.  He died soon after his mother."

Outside in the moonlight, the vision of a ruddy-haired boy rode in a
wreath of mist.  The words were the man’s acknowledgment to the two who
ever attended him now through life.  He did not wish to give his
confidence to this business companion.

"Ah!  Then this beautiful young woman will likely be sole heir to the
Van Rensselaer estate," said the young man to himself, rejoicing
inwardly at the ease with which he was obtaining information.

There was silence in the coach while Winthrop pondered the great
discovery he had made, and how he should act upon it.

But the elder man was lost in gloomy thoughts.  He had a vague feeling
that Mary, out there in the moonlight with her bright-haired boy, would
hold him to account for the little girl she had loved and lost in life.
A sudden glimpse into the future had been given him, partly by the young
man’s words, partly by the beauty of Dawn herself.  She was blossoming
into womanhood, and with that change would come new perplexities.  She
could not stay always at the school.  Where in the world was there a
place for his child?  More and more he saw that the woman whom in the
fierceness of his wrath he had selected to take the place of mother to
the girl was both unable and unwilling to do so.  He shrank from the
time when his daughter would have to come home.  As he thought of it, it
seemed an impossible situation to have her there; it would be almost
like having Mary in the flesh to live with them, with reproachful eyes
ever upon their smallest acts.  At that moment it came to him that he
was enduring the torments of a lost soul, his conscience having sat in
judgment and condemned him.

The stage-coach rumbled on, stopping now and again through the night for
a change of horses, and the two who sat within its gloomy depths said
little to each other, yet slept not, for one was musing on the evil of
the past and its results, while the other was plotting evil for the
future.



                              CHAPTER III


Harrington Winthrop kept his promise about the sweets.  Five times
during the winter that followed his first visit with Mr. Van Rensselaer,
he invented some excuse to visit Dawn.

The first time he came, he found her in the maple grove behind the
pasture, with a group of other girls, all decked in autumn leaves and
playing out some story that Dawn had read.

He persuaded her to walk a little way into the woods with him; and when
he came to take his leave asked for a kiss, but Dawn sprang away from
him in sudden panic:

"No," she said sharply; "I have never kissed anybody but my mother."
Then, fearing she had been impolite in view of his gift, she added:

"We don’t kiss people here at this school.  It isn’t the custom."

And she knew so little of the customs of the world that the incident
passed without further apprehension on her part, or understanding of the
young man’s meaning.

"That’s all right, my dear," he said pleasantly.  "But don’t forget
about the house.  I’m going to tell you all about it next time I come.
You still want a home of your very own, don’t you?"

"Why, of course," said Dawn; "but I can’t see how you can know anything
about it, or care.  What have you to do with it?"  And then with sudden
alarm, "Has my father been talking to you about any such thing?"

"No, indeed!  Your father does not even know I am interested in you.  I
care for my own sake.  Didn’t I tell you that I liked you the minute I
saw you?  And I’m just as interested in this future home of yours as you
are."

"I’m sure I can’t see why," said Dawn, perplexed, yet trying to be
polite.

"Suppose you think about it hard, dear, and see if you can find out why
I care.  Just think it all over, everything I have said, and then if you
are still in doubt go and look in the looking-glass and keep on
thinking, and I’m sure you’ll find out by the time I come back.  I’m
coming soon again, and I want you to be watching for me every day. I’ll
bring you something nice next time, besides another box of sweets."

Dawn tried to smile, but felt uncomfortable.  She murmured her thanks
again, and turned uneasily toward the woods and her companions, and he
deemed it prudent to leave her without further ado.

Back in the woods, the girls were making merry with her confections, and
had nothing but praise for the handsome stranger who had brought them;
but all through the eager questions and merry jibes Dawn was silent and
thoughtful.

"Where are your thoughts, Dawn?" said Desire Hathaway. "Has the stranger
stolen them away to pay for his goodies?"

"She looks as if he had asked her to marry him, and she didn’t know
whether to say yes or to wait for somebody else," laughed Matilda Hale,
a new-comer among them, and older than the rest.

"I guess he kissed her good-by," chimed in silly Polly Phelps, who
aspired to be Matilda’s shadow.  "I peeked through the bushes and saw
him bending over her."

Amid the thoughtless laugh that rose, Dawn stood defiant, the crimson
leaping into her cheeks, the steel into her eyes.  For an instant she
looked as if she would turn upon the offending Matilda and tear her to
pieces.  Then a sudden revelation came to her: this, this was what the
handsome stranger had meant!

Instantly the light of anger died out of her face, and a gentle dignity
took its place.  Her little clenched hands relaxed, the tenseness of the
graceful body softened, and she turned toward the offender with a
haughty condescension:

"Matilda, we don’t talk in that way here," she said, and the laughter
died out of the faces of her companions and left instead amazement and
admiration.  They had seen Dawn angry before, and had not expected the
affair to end so amicably.  They felt it showed a marvellous
self-control, and left her mistress of the situation.  Matilda bit her
lip in a vexed way and tossed her head.  She felt she had lost prestige
by the little incident, and Dawn was still the recognized leader of the
school.  It was not a pleasant thought to the older girl.

Dawn turned and walked slowly away from them all, out of the woods, down
through the meadow, where grazed her quiet friends, the sheep.  She
still carried her gentle dignity, and none of the girls spoke until she
was out of sight behind the group of chestnuts at the corner of the
meadow.

Then Desire Hathaway voiced the general feeling:

"Isn’t she just like a queen?"

"Oh, if you want to look at it that way!" sneered Matilda, with another
toss of her head.  "There are a good many kinds of queens, you know.  I
must say, I thought she looked like a pretty wicked one for a minute or
two.  She would have enjoyed tearing my eyes out if she had dared."

"Dared!" cried Desire.  "You don’t know her.  She will dare anything
that she thinks is worth while.  I thought it was just splendid, the way
she controlled herself."

"Oh, well, just as you think, of course," shrugged Matilda.  "Come on,
Polly; let’s go finish our sewing."

Dawn stumbled on blindly in the pasture, trying to take in the appalling
thought that _perhaps_ the young man wanted to marry her!

Tears of indignation welled into her eyes, but she brushed them angrily
aside.  Why was life so dreadful, she wondered.  Why did men exist to
break women’s hearts?—for she never doubted that the married state was
one of heart-break.  Such had been the lesson burned deep into her soul
by suffering.  A home of her own had been a sweet thought, but the
serpent had entered her Eden, and she cared no more to stay there.

The next time Winthrop came it was openly, with a message from her
father.  All through the interview, which lasted for an hour, and was
prolonged over the noonday meal, Dawn sat stiffly on the other side of
Friend Ruth, watching the fishy eyes of the stranger and listening to
his fulsome flatteries of the place, her small hands folded decorously,
but her young heart beating painfully under the sheer folds of the
’kerchief.

On his fourth visit he bore a private letter from her father to Friend
Ruth, and wore an air of assurance which made the girl’s heart sink with
nameless foreboding.  Not even the praises of the girls for her handsome
lover, their open envy of her future lot, or their merry taunts, could
rouse her from a gravity which had begun to settle upon her.

This time Friend Ruth seemed to look upon the visitor in a different
light.  Not only was Dawn allowed to talk with him alone, but she was
sent out with him for a walk in the woods.

Reluctantly she obeyed, frightened, she knew not why.

Harrington Winthrop had a winning way with him, and he was determined to
win this proud, beautiful girl. Also, he was wise in the ways of the
world, he did not force any undue attention upon her, but confined his
conversation to telling her about the beautiful home he had seen.
Rightly guessing that there was still much of the child about her, he
went on to picture the house in detail, not hesitating to embellish it
at will where his memory failed.

There was a garden with a fountain, and there should be flowers, all in
profusion.  There were clipped hedges, gravel paths, an arbor in a shady
place, where she might bring her book or sewing, and where the sunshine
would peer through the branches just enough to scatter gold about the
leafy way.

In spite of her prejudices, she was interested.  She could not help it.
The longing for a real home of her own was great.

Then came the most difficult part of his task, which was to reconcile
her to himself.

Skilfully he led the conversation about till he himself was the
subject—his life since he had become a man and gone out into the world.
Pathetically he talked of his own loneliness, until he touched the
maternal chord in her nature and made her feel sorry for him.  He opened
up for her gaze depths of sympathy, tenderness, and pathos, which were
purely imaginary and wholly impossible to his own nature.  He launched
into details of his own feelings which were the inspiration of the
moment, because he saw they touched her.  He told her how he had often
been lonely almost to desperation, and how he had many and many a time
pictured a home of his own, with a lovely wife at its head.  The girl
winced at the name "wife," but he went steadily on trying to take the
strangeness out of the word, trying to touch her heart and fire her
tenderness; for he rightly read the possibilities of love in the
beautiful face, and it put him on his mettle to make it bloom for him.

He succeeded so far as to make her conscience sharply reprove her for
the dislike she had for him.  Of course if he had been lonely, too, and
had had a care for her loneliness, it was a different matter.  Perhaps,
after all, they had something in common, and he would not be such a
dreadful addition to the home she had longed for.  At least, she had no
right to shut him out of a dream that he held in common with her, and
she tried to put aside her own feelings and look at him fairly.

So they walked the deeper into the woods, and while she did not say much
in reply to his eloquent words, she did not seem actively opposed.  He
let his voice grow more and more tender, though he did not trouble her
with words of love.  He let a care for her become apparent: as they
walked over the rough growth in the woods, he held the branches aside
for her, and helped her over a log, and once across the stones of a
little brook, touching her hand and arm deferentially.  It did not
appeal to Dawn in the way he hoped that it would, nor awaken any
tenderness for him, but she let him lead her along a path which, had she
been alone, she would have cleared at a bound, and counted an easy
thing.

When he parted from her that evening to take the night boat, he gave her
shrinking fingers a slight pressure in token of the understanding
between them, and Dawn understood it as the sealing of a kind of
unspoken contract.

After that Dawn was not surprised to receive a letter from her father in
which he spoke of the young man’s desire to make her his wife, and
formally gave his consent. It never seemed to occur to him that the girl
might have any question about the matter.  A dull kind of rebellion rose
in her breast and smouldered there as she read her father’s letter; yet
she accepted his arrangements for her life, because it seemed the only
way out from a home that could never be a happy one for her; and because
it offered a spot that might be called her own, and a possible
opportunity to live out some of her childish dreams.

When Harrington Winthrop came again, she no longer yielded to her inward
shrinking from him, but took him as she took hard tasks that she did not
like but that were inevitable; and he, finding her unresisting, was
careful not to do anything to mar the pleasant understanding between
them.  Meantime, he congratulated himself constantly upon the ease with
which he had possessed himself of a promised wife whose private fortune
would be no small one.



                               CHAPTER IV


Dawn settled into a gravity that was premature.  She counted every day
of her precious school year, as if it had been a priceless treasure that
was slipping from her.

There were times when she roused to her old self again, and plunged
madly into fun, leading her companions into wild amusements that they
would never have originated by themselves.  Then again she would sober
down, and they could get her to say very little.  It began to be
whispered about that she was to be married when she had finished school,
and the girls all looked at her with a kind of envying awe.

Thus the winter passed and the spring came on, the spring that was to be
her last at school.  The first few days of warm weather she spent
exploring old haunts, watching for the spring blossoms, and reverently
touching the green moss, hunting anemones, hepaticas, and violets. Then,
as if she could stand her own thoughts no longer, she suddenly proposed
the acting of another play.  It was the first since that time in the
autumn when Harrington Winthrop broke in upon them, and they had never
been able to induce her to finish it.  Now she selected another one that
seemed to her to have the very heart of spring and life bound up in it.
She got it out of an old book which had been her mother’s—"Tales of
William Shakespeare," by name.  It was not used as a text-book in the
excellent school of Friend Ruth and Friend Isaac, and the child had
always kept it safely hidden.

The play she had selected had many elves and sprites of the air in it.
Dawn drilled her willing subjects, and rehearsed them, until at last she
felt they were ready for the final presentation.

The scene of the play was to be on the sloping hillside just above the
meadow, where the maples on the hill were flanked by a thicket of
elderberry bushes that did double duty of background, and screen for the
dressing-rooms.

The audience of girls was seated in breathless silence, augmented by a
group of kindly cows and stupid sheep, who stood in patient rows and
waited mildly for any tender bites or chance blossoms of cowslips the
girls might put between the bars of the fence.  Now and then, as the
play went on, they lifted calm eyes of bewilderment over the turbulent
scenes in the mimic play-house, or out of their placid world of
monotonous duty, wondered whatever the children could be at now.

It chanced that day that Harrington Winthrop was passing, and, most
unexpectedly, he had with him his younger brother, who was on his way
back to Harvard College, after a brief visit home to see his mother, who
had been ill.

Charles Winthrop had met his elder brother in the coach, and had
boyishly insisted on accompanying him when he stopped on what he
professed was a friendly errand at this school.  Charles had long been
separated from his brother, and wanted to talk over old days and ask
many questions, for Harrington had been away from home most of the time
for nearly ten years and had travelled in the West and the South a great
deal, which seemed a charmed country to the younger man.

Now Harrington had not been anxious for company on this visit, but he
could not well shake his brother off without arousing suspicions,
therefore as they neared the school he told him that he was about to
visit the girl whom he expected in a few months to make his wife.

Charles in his hearty boyish way congratulated him and expressed a
desire to see the girl who was his brother’s choice.

They were told at the house that Dawn was out with the other girls in
the meadows, and so went in search of her.  They arrived on the scene
just as the closing act was about to begin.

The little company of players stood out bravely in costumes designed
entirely by Dawn.  The outfit of the school was far too sombre to play
any part in the gaiety of the occasion.  An occasional patchwork quilt
had been pressed into service, and one or two gray or scarlet blankets,
but most of the players were dressed in white literally covered with
flowers or green leaves.

The two young men skirted the foot of the hill and came upon the scene
just when Dawn, as queen of the air, attended by her sprites and nymphs,
came into view with a gentle, gliding run learned surely from the birds,
for nowhere else could such grace be found.  She was clad in white
drapery of homespun linen, one of her own mother’s finest sheets.  It
was drawn about her slender form, over her shoulders, in a fashion all
her own, though graceful as any Greek goddess.  Her white throat and
round white arms were bare, the long, dark curls had been set free, and
about her brow was a wreath of exquisite crab-apple blossoms, whose
delicate tinting matched the rose of her cheeks. About her throat, arms,
wrists, and ankles—for her feet were bare—were close-fitting chains of
the same blossoms. Here and there the white drapery of her garment,
which fell half way from the knee to the ankle, was fastened with a
spray of blossoms.  It was a daring costume for a Quaker-reared maiden
to don, and she knew it, but she expected no eyes to look upon her save
her companions and the friendly cattle.  She stood poised on the green
slope, holding in her hands and high above her head a soft scarf of
white—an old curtain which she had saved from the rag-bag and wet and
stretched in the sun till it was soft and pliable.  She had mended it,
and fastened the darns with blossoms, and edged it also with blossoms
plucked close from the stem and sewed down in a fine flat border.

Behind her came her maidens, their garments sewed over with maple
leaves, tender and green and fluttering. They were crowned and wreathed
also with maple leaves, and made a beautiful setting for Dawn’s delicate
beauty.

Then down the hillside they came, the maidens with festoons of leaves
fastened together by their stems, which they held aloft as their leader
held her scarf.  They sang a strange, sweet song that had in it the
wildness of the thrush’s song, the sweetness of the robin’s.

It was Dawn who had composed the melody, and taught it to them.  She had
learned it from the birds, and interpreted old Shakespeare’s words.
They sang it as the zephyrs sing.

The little audience sat with bated breath; the old cows chewed their cud
thoughtfully, one with soft eyes heaved a long, clover-scented sigh,
marvelling on the ways of the world.  The two strangers stood entranced
and astonished; but the heart of one of them thrilled with a strange new
joy.

Charles Winthrop saw only the beautiful face of Dawn Van Rensselaer.
All the rest were but a setting for her. He seemed to know instantly as
he looked that there was no other girl in the world like this.  He knew
not who she might be, but he looked at her as if his spirit were calling
to hers across the meadow-land that separated them.  Then suddenly, half
poised as she was, in the very midst of her song, Dawn became aware of
his presence and stopped.  She met his gaze, and, without her own
volition, it seemed, her eyes were shining and smiling to meet his
smile.  It was just a fleeting instant that they gazed thus, and then
the joy went out of the girl’s face, and a frightened look took its
place.  She had seen the other man standing beside him, and he was
frowning.

Harrington Winthrop had caught the look on his brother’s face, and its
answer in the face of the girl upon whom he had set his seal of
possession, and an unreasoning anger had taken possession of him.  This
girl had looked at Charles as Harrington had never been able to make her
look at him, not even since she had in a tacit way consented to marry
him.

"This is foolish child’s play!" he said in a vexed tone to his brother.
"Let us go back to the house and wait until she has returned."

"Oh, no, let us stay!" said Charles.  "This is beautiful! Exquisite!  At
least, if you must go, let me stay. I wish to see the finish."

"I wish you to go," said Harrington, and there was something in his
brother’s voice that reminded Charles of the days when he used to be
ordered back from following on a fishing or swimming expedition.  He
looked at his brother’s angry face, and then back to the beautiful girl
on the hillside.  But the light had gone out of her eyes.  The song had
died on her lips.  There was no sparkling smile now.  Instead, there was
an angry, steel-like flash in the eyes.  She held the fluttering scarf
in front of her now, in long loose folds covering her feet and ankles,
and as the two men turned and gazed at her her head went up proudly,
even as the queen of the air might have raised her head. One hand went
up in quick command, pointing straight at the two young men, and in
quite the phrase of the play she had been acting she spoke:

"Hence, strange spirits!" she cried.  "Hence! Begone!  Ye have no right
amongst us, being unbidden. ’Go, I tell ye!  Go, or I, the queen of the
air, will bring evil upon ye!  Go, ye have angered me!"

Dawn had made Shakespeare so much her constant companion that the
language came easily to her.  She picked up phrases here and there and
strung them together without hesitation.  Her anger helped her on, and
her splendid command of herself had a strange effect upon her audience.

The other girls listened in open-mouthed wonder that Dawn should dare to
speak before these strangers and not be covered with confusion.  Almost
they thought it was part of the play.  But the two to whom she spoke
turned and obeyed her command, the one because he was angry and wished
to get his brother away, the other because there had been a certain
appeal in her lovely eyes which had reached his soul and made him bow in
reverence to her command. Then all at once, as he turned away, he knew
that she was the girl whom his brother intended to make his wife, and a
great sadness and sense of a loss came over him.

There was mutiny in her eyes as Dawn came back to the house a little
later, and greeted her lover with a haughty manner.  He had managed it
that Charles should sit alone in the gray parlor and wait while he met
the girl out in the entrance to the orchard and walked away with her to
a sheltered place overlooking the river.  There was no hint of the queen
of the air in her demure dress, the well-sheathed curls, the small
prunella slippers that peered from under the deep hem of her gray gown,
but her bearing was queenly as she waited for him to speak. He saw that
he was treading on dangerous ground.

"Do you really like such childish play?" he asked a trifle
contemptuously.

"You had no right to come there!" she flashed.  "If you did not like it,
you should have gone away."

He was disconcerted.  He did not wish to anger her, for he had come for
another purpose.

"Well, never mind.  If you enjoyed yourself, I suppose it does not
matter whether I liked it or not.  Let us talk of something else.  Your
play-days are almost over. You will soon begin to live real life."

She looked at him and felt that she came near to hating him.  A sudden,
unspeakable terror seized her.  She let him talk on about the house they
were to have, and tried to remember that he was lonesome and wanted a
home as badly as she did, but somehow she felt nothing but fear and
dislike.  So, though she walked by his side, she heard little of what he
said, only saying when he asked if she wished this or that: "I suppose
so.  I suppose it will be as you like."

As they came back to the house again, she asked him suddenly:

"Who was the young man with you?"

The frown came into his face again.

"Why do you ask?" he asked sharply.

"He did not feel the way you did about us out there on the hill."

"How do you know?"  He watched her keenly, but her face told him
nothing.

"I saw it in his eyes," she said quietly, and without more words went
into the house and up to her room.

Dawn stood at the little window of her room and watched the two men go
down the path from the door. Through the small panes her eyes followed
them until they were out of sight, and her heart swelled with thoughts
strange and new and fearful.  How could she go and live with this man
who had frowned at her innocent happiness? Would he not be worse than
the woman who had taken her dear mother’s place?  And how could he be so
cruel as to look at her in that way?  It was the look she remembered on
her father’s face the day he sent her mother away. It was the cruelty of
men.  Perhaps they could not help it.  Perhaps God made them so.  But
that other one had been different.  He had understood and smiled.  Her
heart leaped out toward him as she remembered his look.

Was it because he was young, she wondered, that he had understood?  He
had seemed far younger than his companion, yet there had been something
fine and manly in his face, in the broadness of his shoulders, and the
set of his head, as he walked down the path, away from the house.
Perhaps when he was older he would grow that way to, and not understand
any more.

She sighed and dropped her face against the glass, and, now that they
were out of sight, the haughty look melted into tears.



                               CHAPTER V


The day that Dawn left school to go back to her home was one long agony
to her.

All the other girls were happy in the thought of home-going, some of
them looking forward to returning for another year, others to entering
into a bright girlhood filled with gaieties.  But to Dawn it meant going
into the gray of a looming fate where never again would she be happy,
never again free.

Ever since the day of the play when she had seen her future husband
frown, she had looked forward to her marriage with terror.

He had not come after that, but instead wrote her long letters full of
plans about the house, _their house_, that they were to occupy
_together_.  The letters impressed that thought most deeply and made the
whole hateful to her.  It grew to seem that it was _his_ house, and she
would be his prisoner in it.  Yet somehow he had succeeded in impressing
her with the feeling that she was pledged to him in sacred honor, and
that it would be a dreadful thing to break a tie like that.  This was
made stronger by her father’s letters, which now grew more frequent, as
if he sought to atone to his motherless child for the wrong he had done
her.

Just the day before her home-going there came one of these letters, in
which he told her that everything had been prepared for her marriage to
take place within a week after her arrival.  He told her of the
trousseau which his wife had prepared for her, which was as elaborate
and complete as such an outfit could be for one of her station in life.
He also spoke about the dignity of her origin, and with unwonted
elaboration commended her judgment in selecting so old and so fine a
family as that of the house of Winthrop with which to ally herself.  He
added that it would have pleased her mother’s family, and that Mr.
Winthrop was one of his oldest and most valued friends.

Somehow that letter seemed to Dawn to put the seal of finality upon her
fate.  There was no turning back now. Just as her father used to compel
her to go upstairs alone when he discovered that she was afraid of the
dark, so she felt that if he once discovered her dislike for her future
husband he would but hasten the marriage, and be in league with her
husband against her always.

When the time came to leave the school, she clung with such fervor about
the neck of the impassive Friend Ruth that the astonished lady almost
lost her breath, and a strange wild thrill went through her unmotherly
bosom, as of something that might have been and was lost.  She looked
earnestly down into the beautiful face of the girl who had so often
defied her rules, and saw an appeal in those lovely eyes to which she
would most certainly have responded had she understood, for she was a
good woman and always sought to do her best.

But the boat left at once, and clinging arms had perforce to be removed.
Once on the deck with the others, Dawn looked back at Friend Ruth as
impassively as always, though the usually calm face of the woman
searched her out with troubled glance, still wondering what had come
over her wild young pupil.  Somehow, as she watched the steamer plough
away until Dawn was a mere blur with the others, Friend Ruth could not
help being glad that the beautiful dark curls had never been cut.

The day was perfect, and the scenery along the Palisades had never
looked more beautiful, yet Dawn saw nothing of it.  She sat by the rail
looking gloomily down into the water, and a curious fancy seized her
that she would like to float out there on the water forever and get away
from life.  Then she began to consider the possibility of running away.

It was not the first time this thought had entered her mind.  The week
before she left the school, she had thought of it seriously, and even
planned the route, but always at night there had come that fearful dream
of her future husband following her, and bringing her home to a
life-long punishment.

She had almost got her courage up to the point of deciding to disappear
in the crowd at Albany, and so elude the people with whom she was
expected to journey to her home, when, to her dismay, she looked down at
the landing-place where they were stopping, a few miles below Albany,
and saw her father coming on board the boat. He had not expected to be
able to meet her and had written that she was to come with acquaintances
of his.  Her heart stood still in panic, and for a moment she looked
wildly at the rail of the steamer, as if she might climb over and
escape.  Then in a moment her father had seen her and stood beside her.
He stooped and kissed her forehead coldly, almost shyly.  This startled
her, too, for he had not kissed her since the days before her mother was
sent away, and a strange, sharp pain went through her heart, a pang of
things that might have been.  She looked up in wonder. She did not know
how like her dead mother she had grown.

But the stern face was cold as ever, and his voice conveyed no smallest
part of the emotion he felt at sight of her lovely face.

He talked to her gravely of her school life, and then he went on to
speak of the Winthrop family, and to tell her in detail bits of its
history calculated to make her understand its importance.

Dawn listened with growing alarm at the thought of all that would be
expected of her.  Yet not a breath of her trouble did she allow her
father to see.  It might have made a difference if she could have known
how her father’s heart was aching with the anguish of his great mistake,
and perhaps if the father could have known the breaking of the young
heart it might have melted the coldness of his reserve and brought some
sympathy to the surface. But they could not see, and the agony went on.

Dawn walked sadly, reluctantly, into the unloved, unloving home.  As the
days dragged by, she grew to have a haunted look, and the rose flush on
her sweet round cheek faded to a marble white, while under her eyes were
dark circles.

Her father saw the look, but knew not what it meant. Yet it pierced his
soul, for it was the same look that her mother had worn in her coffin,
and he was the readier to have the marriage hastened, both for her sake
and his own, for he realized she was not happy here in the home where
there was so much to remind her of what had passed.  He felt she never
would forgive him, and that her only hope was to be happily married.
Winthrop had so represented her feelings to him that he had taken it for
granted she was only too eager to go to a home of her own.

The house had been bought—at least, the father supposed so—not knowing
that but a small payment had been made, with a promise to pay the
balance soon after the marriage.  The young man had laid his plans
nicely, and meant to profess that some investment of his had failed,
making it impossible for him to make the final payments, and that he had
disliked to postpone the marriage or to tell of his predicament, feeling
sure that he would have the money by the time the payment was due.
Naturally, his wife’s fortune would suffice to pay for the house, which
of course she would not let go then.  If the house was not exactly what
he had described to the little school-girl, certainly it was large
enough and showy enough to make up for the lack of some of the things
which had seemed important to her; and he had taken care that it should
be so far from the home of her father that the latter could keep no eye
on his son-in-law’s business affairs.  If all went well, he intended to
have his wife’s fortune in his own hands before their first year of
married life should have passed.  After that it would not matter to him
whether the girl was pleased with her home or not.  She could no longer
help herself.

But of all this the father suspected nothing.

Dawn took no interest in her clothes.  The step-mother was chagrined
that after all her efforts Dawn was not pleased.

"I should think you might show a little gratitude, after all the trouble
I’ve taken," Mrs. Van Rensselaer snapped angrily.

Dawn turned wide eyes of astonishment upon her.

"For what?" she asked.  "I didn’t want the things. I supposed you did it
to please father."

"Didn’t want them!" exclaimed her step-mother. "And how would you expect
to get married without them?"

"I don’t want to be married!" said Dawn desperately, and then closed her
lips tightly, with a frightened look toward the door.  She had not meant
to let any one know that.  The words had come of themselves out of her
weary heart.

"Well, upon my word!  You’re the queerest girl! Any other girl in the
world would be in high feather over your chances; but you always were
the stubbornest, most contrary creature that ever drew breath.  Whatever
did you say you’d get married for if you didn’t want to?"

"I don’t think I ever did," said the girl sadly.  "It just came in spite
of me."

"That’s all foolishness.  Don’t talk such things to me. No girl has to
be married unless she chooses, and I’ll warrant you had your hand in it
from the start.  Besides, it’s too late to talk of such things now.  It
wouldn’t be honorable to draw back now, after he’s got the house bought
and all."

"I know it," said Dawn miserably, and stood looking out the window
blindly, swallowing hard to keep back the tears.  She felt that she must
have reached the limit of her endurance when she would let her
step-mother see her state of mind.

Mrs. Van Rensselaer eyed her keenly, suspiciously.  At last she ventured
another question.

"Have you got any other beau in your head, Jemima?" she said.  "Because
if you have, you’d better put him out pretty suddenly.  If your father
should find it out, he would—I don’t know what he would do.  He would
certainly punish you well, big girl as you are.  Is that what’s the
matter?  Answer me!  Have you got another beau?"

Dawn looked up with great angry, flashing eyes, horror changing into
contempt.

"I have never even thought of such a dreadful thing!" she said, with a
withering look, and swept haughtily from the room.  But on the way
upstairs the color crept slowly into her cheeks, and her eyes drooped
half-ashamed.  Was there?  Yes, there was some one else enshrined within
her heart, some one whose face had smiled in sympathy just once, and
toward whom she felt as she had never felt to any human being save her
mother.  Of course he was nothing to her but the vision of a moment, and
never, never, could he be called by the hateful word her stepmother had
used, that detestable word "beau."  It seemed to the poor, tried child
as if she could almost kill any one who used that word.

After that, Dawn endured her misery in secret, speaking not at all,
unless spoken to.  The older woman looked at her curiously, almost
nervously, sometimes, as if the girl were half uncanny.  She was glad in
her heart that the day of the wedding was close at hand, for if she knew
anything about signs, that girl was on the verge of throwing over a fine
marriage, and then they would have her on their hands for years,
perhaps.  Mrs. Van Rensselaer had suffered not a little for her share in
the tragedy of these lives with which she had bound up her own, and was
not willing to endure more.  She shut her thin lips and determined to
watch the girl carefully and prevent if possible any slip between cup
and lip.

Meantime, with ever-growing dread, Dawn counted the hours, and watched
sleepless through the long nights, now calling on her dead mother for
help, now praying to be saved in some way from the nameless fear which,
try as she would, she could not shake off.  The family relatives on both
sides were gathering and starting, some on long journeys, to attend the
wedding.



                               CHAPTER VI


Charles Winthrop had written his family that matters which he wished to
complete would detain him at the college for a few weeks, and begged his
father to make his excuses at the wedding.  He had an instinctive
feeling that Harrington would not care, as well as an inexplicable
aversion to being a witness at the wedding ceremony of his elder brother
and the girl who had burst upon his vision that afternoon and seemed to
open a new world to him.

He had long ago put by the strange, sweet sense of having discovered in
her a familiar friend—one who fitted into his longings and his ideals as
though he had always been waiting for her.  He called the thought a
foolish sentimentality, and, in view of the relation in which she was
soon to be placed to him, he tried to be as matter-of-fact as possible
with regard to her.  He sent several pleasant brotherly messages—which
never reached her—through the medium of Harrington.  He tried to accept
the thought of a new sister as a delightful thing, and always he
regarded her beauty and grace with the utmost reverence. The father,
while feeling that Charles’s absence was almost a discourtesy to his
brother, nevertheless gave reluctant consent.

Then, a few days before the wedding, there came over Charles an
overwhelming feeling that he must go.  All his former arguments in favor
of remaining away seemed as water.  He felt as if the eyes and the smile
of the girl he had seen upon the hillside called him imperatively. Try
as he would to tell himself that with his present feelings it was
foolish, even dangerous, for him to go near her, and that his brother
was already a little jealous owing to the look that had passed between
them, it made no difference; he felt that he must go, and go he did.
Without waiting to do more than throw a few necessities into a valise,
he took the first stage-coach that started from Boston.  All through the
long journey his heart beat wildly with the thought that he was to meet
her.  He was ashamed of the feeling.  Yet in vain he told himself that
it was wrong; that he ought to go back.  Once he flung himself out of
the coach at a station where they were taking on fresh horses,
determined to return to Boston, and then madly climbed up to the seat
with the driver just as the coach started again.  After that he grimly
faced the matter, asking himself if it were not better to go on after
all, meet his new sister-in-law on a common, every-day basis, and get
this nonsense out of his head forever.  Then he tried to sleep and
forget, but her face and her smile haunted him, and there seemed to be
an appeal in her eyes that called him to her aid.

When he presented himself at his father’s door in the early morning of
the day before the wedding, his face was gray with combat, yet in his
eyes was the light of a noble resolve.  In spite of all his reasoning,
he could not help the feeling that he had come because he was needed,
but he was here, and there was a duty connected with it which he felt
strong to do.  It was therefore not a surprise to him when his father
met him with eager welcome and a grave face.

"My son, you have come just when I needed you most," he said as he drew
the young man inside the library door. And then Charles noticed that his
father seemed suddenly aged and heavy with sorrow.  He knew it was
nothing connected with the immediate family of the household, for they
had all welcomed him with eager clamor and delight.

"Sit down, Charles."

His father was fastening the door against intrusion, and the young man’s
heart stood still with apprehension.

Mr. Winthrop turned and looked in his son’s face with feverishly bright
eyes that showed their lack of sleep. Then he seated himself in the
arm-chair before the desk, drawing Charles’s chair close, that he might
speak in lowered tones.

"Something terrible has occurred, Charles.  Your mother does not know
yet.  The blow has fallen so suddenly that I find myself unable to
believe it is true.  I am dazed.  I can scarcely think.  Charles, your
only brother, my son——"  The old man paused, and with a sudden
contraction of his heart Charles noticed that there were tears coursing
down his father’s wrinkled cheeks. The voice quavered and went on:

"Our first-born has been guilty of a great wrong.  It is best to face
the truth, my boy.  Harrington has committed a crime.  I don’t see how
it can be thought otherwise by any honest person.  I am trying to look
at the facts, but even as I speak the words I cannot realize that they
are true of one of our family."

Charles waited, his eyes fixed upon the old man’s face, and a great
indignation growing within him toward the brother who could dare bring
dishonor upon such a father!

Mr. Winthrop bowed his head upon his hand for a moment, as though he
could not bear to reveal the whole truth.  Then he roused himself as one
who has need of haste.

"Charles, your brother already has a wife and two little children, yet
he was proposing to wed another woman. He has dared to court and win an
innocent young girl, and to hoodwink her honorable father.  And the
worst of it is that he meant to carry it out and marry her!  Oh the
shame of it!  We are disgraced, Charles!  We are all disgraced!"  With a
low groan the father buried his face in his hands and bowed himself upon
the desk.

The heart of the young man grew hot.  A great desire for vengeance was
surging over him.  He arose excitedly from his chair.

"Harrington has done this, father!"

The words burst from his lips more like a judgment pronounced than like
a question or a statement of fact.  It was as if the acknowledgment of
his brother’s sin were a kind of climax in his thought of that brother,
whom he had been all these years attempting to idealize, as a boy so
often idealizes an elder brother.  The words bore with them, too, the
recognition of all the pain and disappointment and perplexity of many
things throughout the years. Charles’s finer nature suddenly revolted in
disgust from all that he saw his brother to be.

He stood splendidly indignant, above the bowed head of his father, a
picture of fine, strong manhood, ready to avenge the rights of insulted
womanhood.  There before him arose a vision obscuring the walls of the
book-lined library—the vision of a girl, fresh, fair, lovely, with eyes
alight, cheeks aglow, floating hair, and fluttering white drapery,
garlanded in pink and white blossoms that filled the air with the breath
of a spring morning.  It blazed upon him with clearness and beauty, and
veiled by no hindering sense of wrong.  With a great heart throb of joy,
he recognized that she no longer belonged to his brother.

The thought had scarcely thrilled his senses before he was ashamed of
it.  How could he think of joy or anything else in the midst of the
shame and trouble that had fallen upon them all?  And most of all upon
the beautiful girl, who would bear the heaviest burden.

True, there was another side to the matter, a side in which she might be
thankful that Harrington’s true character had been discovered before
things had gone further; but there was mortification, and disgrace
inevitable.  Then, it was to be presumed that she had loved Harrington,
or why should she be about to marry him?  Poor child!  His heart stood
still in pity as he realized what the sin of his brother would mean to
her.

These thoughts went swiftly through his mind as he stood beside his
father.  It seemed to him that in the instant of the elder man’s silence
he reviewed the whole catastrophe in its various phases and lived
through years of experience and knowledge.  Then his father’s trembling
voice took up the story again:

"Yes, Harrington did that!"  They were Charles’s own words, but somehow,
on his father’s tongue, they spoke a new pathos, and again the young man
saw another side to the whole terrible matter.  Harrington was the
oldest son, adored of his mother.  Though he had been gone from home for
years, he had yet remained her idol until it had seemed his every virtue
had grown to perfection, while all his faults were utterly forgotten.
During his visits, which had been few and far between, the whole family
had put itself out of its routine, and hung upon his wishes.  His
stories had been listened to with the deference due to one older and
wiser than any of them could ever hope to be.  His wishes had been law,
his opinions gospel truth.  Charles recalled how his mother had always
called together the entire family to listen to the reading to one of
Harrington’s rare epistles, demanding a solemnity and attention second
only to that required at family worship.  These letters always ended
with a description of some new enterprise in which he was deeply
involved, and which required large sums of money. His father and mother
had always managed to send him something to "help out" at such times,
and made no secret of it, rather rejoicing that they were able to do so.

Charles knew that his father owned large and valuable tracts of land,
and was well off; yet it had not always been convenient to send
Harrington large sums of money, and often the family luxuries and
pleasures had been somewhat curtailed in consequence.  All such
sacrifices had been cheerfully made for the family idol, by himself as
well as by his three sisters, his maiden aunt, and his father and
mother.

At this critical moment it occurred to Charles to wonder if his father
had ever received any interest from these many sums of money which he
from time to time had put into Harrington’s business schemes.

Then his father’s voice drowned all other thoughts:

"I do not know how to tell your poor mother!"  The trembling tones were
almost unrecognizable to the son. "She ought to know at once.  We must
plan what to do. The Van Rensselaers must be told."

He bowed his head with another groan.

The son sat down and endeavored to get a better grasp of the situation.

"Since when have you known this, Father?" he asked keenly.

"Last night.  Mother had gone to bed, and I did not disturb her.  I felt
I must think it all out—what to do—before I told them; but I cannot see
my way any clearer. It is a most infamous thing to have happened in a
respectable family.  Charles, I’m sorry to have to say it, but I’m
afraid your brother is a—a—a—_scoundrel_!"

The old gentleman’s face was red and excited as he brought forth the
awful utterance.  It was the thought which had been growing in his mind
all through the long night watch, but he had not been willing to
acknowledge it. He arose now and began to pace the room.

"He certainly is, if this is true, Father," said the son. frowning.
"But are you quite sure it is not some miserable blackmailing scheme?
Such stories are often trumped up at the last minute to get money out of
respectable people. I’ve heard of it in Boston.  It is rare, of course,
but it could happen.  I cannot think Harrington would do such an awful
thing."

"Son, it is all too true," said the old man sadly.  "Do you remember
William McCord?  You know he was my trusted farm-hand for years, and I
have kept in touch with him by letter ever since he went out West to
take up a claim on gold land.  Well, it was he that brought me the
terrible news.  He came last evening, after mother and the girls had
gone upstairs.  He did not want to see them and have them question him
till he had told me all.  He brought letters and proofs from
Harrington’s wife and the minister who married them, and, moreover, he
was an eye-witness to the fact that Harrington lived in the West with
his wife and two children.  You yourself know that William McCord could
not tell a lie."

"No," assented Charles; "never."

"Harrington’s wife is a good, respectable woman, though not very well
educated.  She is the daughter of a Virginia man who went out there to
hunt for gold.  He died a couple of years ago, and now the daughter and
her children have no one to look after them.  It seems Harrington has
neglected them for the past three years, only coming home once in six
months, and giving them very little money.  He has told them a story of
hard luck.

"The wife is desperate now.  She has been ill, and needs many things for
herself and the children.  At last she learned of Harrington’s intended
marriage through William, whose sister had written him the home news.

"She sold what few possessions she had and brought the proceeds to
William, begging him to come on here and find out if the story was true.
William refused to take her money, but started at once, at his own
expense, and came straight to me with the story.  Just think of it,
Charles!  Our grandchildren actually cold and hungry and almost
naked—our own flesh and blood!  Your nephew and niece, Charles."

The younger man frowned.  He had very little sympathy at present to
expend upon any possible nephews and nieces.  He was thinking of a
lovely girl with eyes like stars.  What were cold and hunger compared to
her plight?

"Where is my brother?"  The boy looked older than he had ever seemed to
his father as he asked the question.

"I do not know.  He has always told us to write to an address in New
York, but often he has not answered our letters for weeks.  I am afraid
there is still more to be told than we know.  McCord tells me he was
under some sort of a cloud financially out there—some trouble about
shares in a gold mine.  I’m afraid he has been speculating. He has
borrowed a great deal of money from me at one time and another, but he
has always told me that he was doing nicely and that some day I should
have a handsome return for all I had put in.  But if that is the case,
why should he have dared to involve a sweet and innocent young girl in
it all?  Why should he dare do so dreadful a thing!—unless he is under
the impression that his first wife is dead.  I cannot think that my boy
would do this thing!"

The father’s head dropped upon his breast, but the brother stood erect
with flashing eyes.

"I see it all clearly, Father.  He is marrying this girl for her money.
He needs money for some of his schemes, and he is afraid to ask you for
any more, lest you suspect something.  He told me once that she was very
rich.  I think you are right: my brother is a scoundrel!"

The father groaned aloud.

"But, Father, what are you going to do about it? Have you sent word to
Mr. Van Rensselaer?  The wedding is set for to-morrow morning.  There
will be scarcely time to stop the guests from coming."

Outside the window, wheels could be heard on the gravel, as the old
coachman drove the family carriage up to the front steps.  Pompey, the
stable boy, followed, driving the mare in the carryall.

Almost simultaneously came the hurry of ladies’ feet down the staircase,
and the swish of silken skirts.  Betty and Cordelia and Madeleine rushed
through the hall and climbed into the carryall, with soft excitement and
gentle laughter.  This wedding journey was a great event, and they had
talked of nothing else for weeks.

"Come, Charles.  Come, Father, aren’t you ready?" called Betty.  "It is
high time we started.  Mother is all dressed, and Aunt Martha is just
tying her bonnet. Charles, Mother wants you to ride in the carriage with
her this morning; but you are to change off with us by-and-by, so we’ll
all have a good look at you."

The father caught his breath and looked helplessly at his son.  "I did
not realize it was getting so late," he murmured.  "Of course the
journey must be stopped."

"Of course, Father," agreed Charles decidedly.  "Go quickly and tell
Mother all about it.  I will tell the girls and Aunt Martha," he added.

With a look as though he were going to his death, the older man hurried
up the stairs to his wife, and Charles went out to the piazza.  The two
servants stood grinning happily, feeling the overflow of the festive
occasion. Charles could not reveal his secret there.

"Come into the house, a minute, girls.  I’ve something to tell you."

"Indeed, no, Charles!" said Cordelia emphatically. "I will not climb out
over the wheels again.  I nearly ruined my pelisse getting in.  It is
very dusty.  And I have covered myself all nicely for the journey.
Won’t it keep?"

"Cordelia, you must come," said the young man imperiously, and stalked
into the house, uncertain whether they would follow him.

In a moment Betty appeared roguishly in the parlor door, whither Charles
had gone.

"They won’t come, Charles," she said.  "It’s no use. If you had news of
an earthquake or a new railroad, they wouldn’t stir.  Nothing weighs
against one’s wedding garments, and Cordelia has taken special pains."

But Charles did not respond to Betty’s nonsense in his usual merry way.

"Betty, listen," he said gravely.  "An awful thing has happened."

"Is Harrington dead?" asked Betty, with wide, frightened eyes and
blanched face.

"No, but he might better be, Betty.  He has a wife and two little
children out West, and he has deserted them to marry again."

Betty did not scream nor exclaim, "How dreadful!"  Instead, she sat down
quickly in the first chair at hand.

After an instant’s silence, she said in her matter-of-fact way:

"Then there won’t be any wedding, of course!  And what will that poor
girl do?  Has anybody thought about her?  Somehow, I’m not surprised.
I’ve always secretly thought Harrington was selfish.  It’s like him
never to think how he would make other people suffer.  His letters
always put Father and Mother in hot water.  Have they told her yet,
Charles?  Oh, I wish I could go and help comfort her!  I can’t think of
anything more mortifying for her."

"Betty, it is good that she will be saved from anything worse.  It is
good to have it found out beforehand."

"Oh, yes, of course; but she won’t think of that.  With all the wedding
guests coming, how can she have time to be thankful that she is saved
from marrying a selfish, bad man?  Charles, it is a shame!  Somebody
ought to be at hand to step in and take Harrington’s place.  If I were a
man, I’d throw myself at her feet and offer to marry her. Say, Charles,
why don’t you do it yourself?" declared Betty romantically.

The heart of the young man leaped up with a great bound, and a flood of
color went over his face and neck. But the parlor was darkened, and,
moreover, the girls in the carryall were diligently calling; so Betty
vanished to impart the news, and Charles was alone for the moment, with
a new thought, which almost took his breath from him.

Then down the oaken staircase, with soft, lady-like, but decided rustle,
came Madam Winthrop.

Behind her, nervous, protesting, came her husband’s anxious footsteps.

"But, Mother, really, it won’t do.  We couldn’t go, you know, under the
circumstances."

"Don’t say another word, Mr. Winthrop," Charles heard his mother’s most
majestic voice.  "I intend to go, and there is no need of further talk.
Depend upon it, Harrington will be able fully to explain all this
impossible story when he arrives, and it is not for his family to lose
faith in him."

"But, Mother, you don’t understand," protested her husband, still
hastening after her and putting out a detaining hand.

"Indeed, I do understand," said the woman’s voice coldly.  "I understand
that my boy is being persecuted. It is you, apparently, who do not
understand.  I am his mother, and I intend to stand by him, and not let
a breath of this wretched scandal touch him.  The wedding will go on as
planned, of course, and what would the world think if his family were
not present?  How could you possibly explain your absence except by
bringing out these most unfatherly suspicions?  No, Mr. Winthrop, there
is all the more need of haste, that we may forestall any of these wicked
rumors.  Let us start at once."

"But, Janet——"

"No!  You needn’t ’But Janet’ me.  I don’t wish to hear another word.
I’m going, no matter what you say, and so are Martha and the girls.  You
can stay at home if you like, I suppose.  You are a man, and, of course,
will do as you please.  I will explain your absence the best way I can.
But I’m going!  Come, Martha; we will get into the back seat!"

Charles stepped out of the darkened parlor and intercepted his mother.

"Mother, really, you’re making a mistake.  You have not stopped to think
what you are going into.  It won’t do for you and the girls to go.  I
will go with father——"

But the imperious lady shook her son’s hand from her arm as though it
had been a viper.

"Charles, you forget yourself!" she said.  "It is not for you to tell
your mother she is making a mistake.  You must not think that because
you have been to college you can therefore teach your mother how to
conduct her affairs. Stand out of my way, and then follow me to the
carriage. You are displeasing me greatly.  It would have been better for
you to remain in Boston than to come here to talk to your mother in this
way."

The majestic lady marched on her way to the carriage, followed by her
frightened sister-in-law, who scuttled after her tearfully, not knowing
which to dread the most, her sister-in-law’s tyranny, the wrath of her
brother, or the scorn of her nephew.  The habit of her life had been
always to follow the stronger nature.  In this case it was Madam
Winthrop.

Father and son stood looking on helplessly.  Then the father called:

"Well, Janet, if you must go, leave the girls at home with Martha."

The aunt drew back timidly from the carriage-step she was approaching.

"Get in at once, Martha!" commanded Madam Winthrop, already established
in the back seat of the coach. "We have no time to waste.  Girls, you
may drive on ahead until we reach the cross-roads.  Elizabeth, your
conduct is unseemly for such a joyous occasion.  What will the neighbors
think to see your flushed, excited face? Wipe your eyes and pull down
your veil.  Drive on, Cordelia, and see that Elizabeth’s conduct is more
decorous."

She waved the carryall on, and Cordelia and Madeleine, awed and
half-frightened, obeyed, while excitable Betty strove to put by the
signs of her perturbation until she was out of her mother’s sight.  In
brief whispers she had succeeded in conveying to her sisters a slight
knowledge of what had occurred.

The old coachman and the stable boy stood wondering by and marvelled
that the wedding had gone to Madam’s head.  They had seen her in these
imperious moods, but had not thought this an occasion for one.  Some one
must have displeased her very much, for her to get in a towering rage on
the day before her eldest son’s wedding.

"Now, Mr. Winthrop, we are ready, if you and Charles will take your
seats."

Father and son looked at each other in dismay.

"I guess there’s nothing for it but to get in, Father. Perhaps you can
bring her to her senses on the way, and I can drive back with her, or
they can stop at an inn, while we go on.  It really won’t do to delay,
for we have a duty to the Van Rensselaers."

"You are right, Charles.  We must go.  Perhaps, as you say, we can
persuade Mother on the way.  I am dubious, however.  She is very set in
her way."

"Mr. Winthrop, you will need only to get your hat," called his wife from
the coach.  "I have had your portmanteau and Charles’s fastened on
behind.  Your things are all here.  Your hat is lying on the hall
table."

With a sigh of submission, the strong man obediently got his hat and
took his place on the front seat of the coach, while Charles indignantly
swung himself up beside his father.  Then the family started for the
wedding that was not to be.



                              CHAPTER VII


The long journey was anything but what it had promised to be when it was
anticipated.  The carryall containing the three girls headed the
procession.  They were talking in subdued and frightened tones,
Madeleine and Cordelia endeavoring to find out from Betty more than the
child really knew.  When she could not satisfy their curiosity and
anxiety with facts, she supplied them with running comments on human
nature and her elder brother in particular.  Now and again they pulled
her up sharply with: "Betty, be still!" or "I am ashamed of you
Elizabeth.  You jump to conclusions.  I am sure there must be some
explanation.  Charles was very wrong to tell you until he had made sure
about it.  You see Mother does not believe the story, or she would never
go."

"Mother wouldn’t believe Harrington had done wrong if she saw him do
it," declared Betty irreverently.

"Now, Betty!  How you talk!  One would think you didn’t love
Harrington."

"Well, I don’t very much, and that’s a fact," shrugged Betty.  "Charles
is worth two of him.  Harrington always hushes me up when he comes home,
and talks as if I were a baby yet.  Besides, he is selfish.  Look how he
wouldn’t take me to Harriet Howegate’s corn-husking when he was home the
last time, just because he was too lazy to change his clothes!  I don’t
see why I should love him if I don’t, just because he happens to belong
to the same family. I’m sure he can’t love us much, or he wouldn’t have
gone off so long ago and stayed away from us so much."

"Why, Betty!" said Madeleine, shocked.  "He had to go and earn his
living and make a man’s way in the world."

"No, he didn’t.  He could have stayed at home and gone into business
with Father, as Father wanted him to. I haven’t a bit of patience with
Harrington."

"I’m sure, Betty, that’s a very shocking way to talk about your own
brother, and Mother would highly disapprove!" said Madeleine.

"If I were you, I should keep still, Betty," advised Cordelia.

Betty pouted, and a solemn silence settled upon the three as the old
gray horse plodded sleepily over the road. The occupants of the coach
were by no means at ease. Aunt Martha sat shrivelled in the back seat,
with the ready tears coursing silently down her cheeks.  She had heard
enough of what her brother had told his wife, to be filled with gloomy
apprehensions.  Aunt Martha was always sure of the worst.

Madam Winthrop sat severely silent, with her delicate, cameo features
held high.  Her keen blue eyes never wavered, nor did her firm, thin
lips quiver.  Apparently, she had not one misgiving, and her only regret
seemed to be that the rest of the family had taken leave of their
senses.  She looked straight in front of her, ignoring the sad gray head
of her husband, and the yellow curls of the strong young son with whom
she was offended.  They would all see their mistake soon enough, and
meantime she was giving them a bit of a lesson not to doubt the idol of
her heart.  To do her justice, she firmly believed she was right, and
was amazed that her husband had taken the attitude he had.  Of course
Harrington would not do such a dreadful thing.  Such things did not
happen in real life. It was out of the question.  She dismissed the
subject with that, and fell to going over her own arrangements and the
wardrobe of the family, with satisfaction.

The sound of the horses’ hoofs on the old corduroy road, and the husky
crickets by the wayside, beat a funeral dirge for the heart of the
Father in the front seat.  His countenance was heavy, and now and again
he brought forth an audible sigh.

The lugubrious attitude of her family annoyed Madam Winthrop.  She
turned to her sister-in-law sharply.

"For pity’s sake, Martha, do stop snivelling!  One would think you were
going to a funeral instead of to a wedding.  I must say I don’t think
you honor your nephew very much, showing such distrust in him.  Do wipe
your eyes and sit up.  If you go on this way, you won’t be able to come
to the ceremony to-morrow morning, and you know how that will annoy
Harrington.  I must say, Mr. Winthrop, you are acting in a very strange
manner, for the father of such a son."

She always called him Mr. Winthrop when he had offended her.  At other
times it was "Father."

Her husband turned in the seat and faced her solemnly. "Janet," he said
sadly, "it’s no use for you to try to blind yourself to the truth.
You’ll only have it harder to bear in the end.  You might as well
understand the awful truth that our boy Harrington has committed a great
sin, and we ought to be thankful that it was discovered before any more
harm was done.  You don’t seem to see what a task we’ve got before us to
tell that father and his innocent young daughter that the man in whom
they trusted, our son, has played them false."

"Now, Mr. Winthrop, I don’t want to hear another word of such talk.  You
must be beside yourself!"  Madam Winthrop half arose in her seat and
cried out shrilly: "Stop it, I say!  Don’t you dare say such words in my
presence again!  If you do, I shall get right out of this carriage and
walk!  _Walk_, I tell you!  And what will the servants think of you
then?  You will find out your mistake in due time, of course, and be
ashamed of yourself.  Until then I must ask you not to speak to me on
the subject. No, Charles, don’t you dare to interfere between me and
your Father again.  I have had enough of your disrespect for one day.
Just keep absolutely quiet until you can speak in a proper way.  I
simply will not stand such talk."

She sat up with dignity, and spoke to them both as if they were naughty
children.  Her husband looked into her eyes sadly for a moment, and then
turned deliberately back to his horses.  He knew by former experience
that it was well nigh impossible to convince his wife of anything
against her will.  Well, she would have to go on and take the
consequences of her stubbornness.  There was no other way.  And perhaps
it was as well, for, with her excitable nature, there was no telling
what state it might throw her into, once she realized the truth about
her idolized son. She might lose consciousness and have to be carried
back, and so perhaps delay them.  His first duty now was to tell the sad
truth to his old friend Van Rensselaer and his poor daughter.  Every
step that the horses took made him shrink more and more from the task
before him.  It seemed that his shame and disgrace were being burnt into
his soul with a red hot iron.  He kept thinking how he should tell his
story to his host when he reached his journey’s end, and the horses’
hoofs beat out the dirge of a funeral; while keeping pace behind, with
decorous bearing, rode the two old servants, pondering what had cast a
shadow over the gay party they had hoped to escort.

As the young man in the front seat of the coach sat and frowned at the
shining chestnut backs of the horses, he was conning over and over a
thought that his sister had put into his heart, and each time it ran
like sweet fire along his veins, until it began to seem a possibility,
and fairly took his breath away.

The day was wonderful.  The air was fine and rare, the sky clear, with
not a fleck of cloud to mar the blue—a blue that fairly called attention
to itself as being bluer than ever before.  But not one of all that
little company of wedding-goers saw it.

The foliage everywhere was washed fresh for the occasion by a shower
that had passed in the night.  Diamonds strung themselves from
grass-blade to grass-blade, and begemmed even the mullein stalks.  Late
dandelions flared and gleamed, shy sweet-brier smiled here and there by
the roadside in delicate pink cups, inviting the bees.  The birds in the
trees were singing everywhere, and the sweet winds lifted branches and
played a subdued accompaniment. To the soul of the young man, their
music came in happy harmonies, and, while he was not conscious of it,
little by little they began to play him a kind of wedding march, the
joyous melody of his thoughts, now glad, now fearful, yet ever growing
sweeter and more sure of the victorious climax.

He grew presently unconscious of the inharmony behind him: of Aunt
Martha and her efforts not to "sniff"; of his mother’s disapproval; and
of his father’s heavy heart.  He thought only of the girl whom he had
seen upon the hillside, and the smile her eyes had given him as they met
his.  Every time he thought upon it now his heart-beats quickened.  All
the pent-up flood of emotion that she had set going that spring
afternoon upon the Hudson hillside, and that he had fought bravely all
these weeks, and thought he had conquered, came now upon him with the
power of stored-up energy and swept over his being in a flood-tide of
gladness.

In vain he shamed himself for such unseemly joy when his only brother
was in disgrace.  In vain he told himself that the girl-bride would be
plunged into grief when her bridegroom turned out to be no bridegroom at
all.  Still his heart would catch the faint melody of the wedding-march
those birds and winds and branches were breathing, and would go singing
along with a new gladness.

The morning was a silent one for the whole party. Even the coachman
checked Pompey’s levity when a robin chased a chipmunk across a distant
path, and the old darkey snapped him up sharply when he ventured a
question or a wonder about "Marsa" and "Missus."

But while each held to his own thoughts, and the horses sped willingly
over the miles, in the heart of the young man in the front seat was
growing a steady purpose.

About noon they stopped at an inn to dine, and give the horses a brief
respite.

Madam Winthrop would not lie down, as they urged her, nor would she
permit her husband or her son to talk with her concerning the forbidden
theme.  She kept the three girls with her also, that nothing might be
said to them to prejudice them against their brother.

Aunt Martha, however, unable to bear up longer under the scornful
scrutiny of her sister-in-law, was glad to take refuge on the high
four-poster bed that the landlady put at her service, and weep a few
consoling tears into the homespun linen pillow-slip.  Aunt Martha was by
no means sure that all was well with the boy whom she adored, though she
acknowledged to herself that he had his weaknesses.  Had she not seen
those very weaknesses from babyhood upward, and helped many times to
hide them from his blind mother and adoring sisters?  Her fearful soul
accepted the possibility of his sin, yet loved him in spite of it all.
She resented the thought that public opinion would be against Harrington
if he had done this thing, and, could she have had her way, would have
had public opinion changed to suit his special need.  She felt in her
secret soul that prodigies like Harrington should not be expected to
follow the laws like ordinary mortals.

Madam Winthrop sat bolt upright in a wooden chair, and eyed her three
daughters suspiciously.  Now and then she made a remark about their
conduct at the wedding, and they acquiesced meekly.  They had learned
never to dispute with their mother when she was in her present mood.

Charles and his father wandered by common consent into the woods
near-by.  It was the son who spoke first.

"Father, I’ve been thinking all the morning about what you said of
her—Miss Van Rensselaer."  He spoke the name shyly, reverently, and his
heart throbbed painfully. He felt himself very young and presumptuous.
The bright color glowed in his face.  "It will be terrible for her."  He
breathed the words as if they hurt him.

"Yes," assented the father; "I cannot get her out of my mind, the poor
innocent child!  Think of Betty, Charles.  Suppose it was Betty."

The young man frowned.

"Father, did you ever see her?"

"No," said the older man, wondering at his son’s vehemence.  "Did you?"

"Yes, I saw her once, when I met Harrington on my way to Boston.  I
stopped off with him at the school where she was being educated, and we
saw her.  She is beautiful, Father, beautiful, and very young.  She
looked as if she could not stand a thing like this, as if it might crush
her. Don’t you think we ought to do something for her, to make it
easier?  Isn’t it our place?  I mean—say, Father, in the Bible, you
know, when the older brother died, or failed in any way, the younger
brother had to take up the obligation.  Do you understand what I mean,
Father?  Do you think I could?  I mean, do you think she would let me?
It wouldn’t be so public and mortifying, you know, and I think girls
care a great deal about that.  Betty would, I’m sure."

The father looked up in astonishment.

"What do you mean, Charles?  Do you mean you would marry her?"

"Why, yes, Father, that’s what I meant.  What do you think of it?"

The boy in him came to the front for an instant and looked out of his
eyes, though he shrank from the blunt way the older man had of stating
facts.

His father eyed him keenly.

"But you’re only a boy, Charles, and you’re not through college yet.
How could you marry?"

"I’m past twenty-one," boasted the boy, and vanished into the man.  A
graver look came out upon his face.

"I could leave college, if it were necessary, or I could go on and
finish.  I could work part of the time and take care of her."  The last
words he breathed gently, reverently, like a benediction.

The father stopped in the wooded path and grasped his son’s hand.

"Boy, you’ve got good stuff in you!  I’m proud of you," he said, lifting
his head triumphantly.  "If only your brother had been like that!"  Then
he bowed his head in bitter thought.

But the young man’s thoughts were not on Harrington now.  He grasped his
father’s hand, and waited impatiently for further words from him.

"Well, Father?"

The old man lifted his head.

"But, Boy, you do not know her.  You have seen her only once.  You can’t
spoil your own life that way."

A flood of color went over the younger face, and into his eyes came a
depth of earnestness that showed his father that the man had awakened in
his son.  He was no longer a boy.

"Father, I do not need to know her.  I love her already. I have loved
her ever since I saw her.  That was why I did not want to come to the
wedding.  I felt that I could not bear it."

The kindly older gaze searched the fine young face tenderly, but the
lover’s eyes looked back at him and wavered not.

"Is it so, Son?"—the words were grave.  "Then God pity you—and bless
you," he added, with an upward look. "I am afraid there is no easy way
ahead of you.  Yet I am proud to call you my son."

After this they walked on silently through the woods, over a pathway of
flecked gold, where the sunlight sifted through the leafy branches.  No
sound came to interrupt the silence beyond the whisking of a squirrel or
the flirt of a bird’s wings in the branches.

The dinner-bell pealed forth from the inn, and they turned quietly to
retrace their steps.  They were almost in sight of the house before
either spoke.  Then the father said:

"Son, she does not know you.  Have you any idea how she will take all
this?"

"None at all, Father."  It was spoken humbly.

"What is your idea?  Have you made any plans?"

"Not yet—only, that I shall tell her at once, if I may, and let her
decide.  If she is willing, the wedding may go on as planned."

A light came into the older man’s face, though he looked troubled.

"Well said, Charles!  Perhaps you may succeed.  But I fear, I fear.
Nevertheless, your noble action helps me to hold up my head and look her
father in the eye.  If I have one son who is a scoundrel, at least I
have one who is not, and who is willing to face his brother’s
obligations."

They went in then and sat down to a dinner of which both were able to
partake more enjoyably than either had supposed possible.

"Charles, isn’t there going to be an awful time when we get there?"
whispered Betty, as they passed out to the carriages.

"I hope not, Betty," said Charles, with a solemn light in his eyes that
made the girl wonder.

Charles took his seat beside his father with hopefulness, and all that
long afternoon the music of nature rang on; but now to both men the
dirge was almost lost in the swelling and sounding of the wedding march.



                              CHAPTER VIII


All the afternoon, Madam Winthrop had steadily refused to converse about
her oldest son.  The party were nearing the edge of the town where the
Van Rensselaers lived.

Twice Charles had endeavored to bring his mother’s mind to the subject,
and once his father had said: "Now, Mother, it is absolutely necessary
that you put aside your attitude and let me tell you all about this
matter."  But to all advances she was adamant.

"I shall never allow you to say such wicked things about my son,"
declared the old lady, rising from her seat and attempting to get out of
the coach.  They were compelled to give it up and trust to developments.

The stars were coming out when they entered the village streets.  The
father called to his daughters to wait a moment, and he stopped the
coach horses.  Turning around in his seat, he faced his wife.

"Janet," said he, and his voice was firm as when he was a young man, "it
is best that the family stop at the inn while Charles and I go on to the
house and make the family acquainted with the truth.  I wish you and
Martha and the girls to stop here and wait until our return."

The old lady looked ahead impatiently, as if she did not see her
husband.

"I shall do nothing of the kind, Mr. Winthrop," she said.  "You may as
well save time by driving on."

The anger was rising in the old gentleman’s face.  He had been defied
for years and had borne it with fortitude and a measure of amusement.
He had always felt that he could assert himself when he chose.  But now
he had chosen, and apparently he had been mistaken all these years.  His
wife would not obey.  It was mortifying, and especially before his son
and his sister.  He turned sharply to Martha, sitting frightened and
meek in the dark corner of the coach.

"Martha, get out," he commanded in a tone she had never disobeyed.

Martha proceeded to obey hastily.

"Don’t you do any such foolish thing, Martha Winthrop. You stay right
where you are.  I won’t have any scenes," said Madam Winthrop.

Martha paused and put her mitted hand on her heart.

"Martha, this is my carriage, and you are my sister, and I tell you to
get out."

Martha had not heard that voice from her brother’s lips for forty years.
She got out.

"Pompey, Caesar"—to the two negroes who drove up at that moment—"see
that the ladies are cared for in the inn until our return.  Attend to
the other carriage, and tell the young ladies it is my wish that they
remain in the inn parlor until I come back."

With grave dignity, the master of the situation guided his horse past
the carryall and down the dim evening street.  Madam Winthrop sat
amazed, with two red spots on her cheeks.

"It seems to me, Mr. Winthrop," she said coldly, when they had gone some
distance, "that you are carrying things with a pretty high hand.  If I
had known that such traits would ever develop in you, I am sure I should
never have left the shelter of my father’s house."

Her husband made no reply.

As the coach drew up before the fine old house, Mr. Van Rensselaer came
out to greet the arrivals.  Madam Winthrop sat up with grave dignity,
and allowed him to hand her down and escort her into the house.

Mrs. Van Rensselaer met her with nervous ceremony in the wide hall and
took her into the stately parlor. Once there, the lady looked about her
as if in search of some one, scarcely noticing her hostess.

"Where is my son?" she asked.  "I supposed he would be here.  Will you
tell Harrington that his mother wishes to see him at once?  It is most
important."

"Your son has not yet arrived," said the other woman, watching her
jealously.  "We do not expect him until the morning train."

She mentioned the train with an air of pride, for the new railroad was a
matter of vast importance to the little city.  A few miles of railroad
was a wonderful distinction in a land where railroads had just begun to
be.  But the guest had no recognition for such things.

"Not here yet?  I supposed of course he would have arrived.  Then, if it
is convenient, I will go directly to my room, as I am very much
worn-out.  No, thank you. I could not eat a mouthful to-night.  You may
send me a cup of tea if you please."

Dawn had fled in a panic far into the depths of the garden.  Crouched
behind the tall, clipped hedges, her heart beating wildly, she listened,
while frightened tears stood in her eyes.  If she had dared, if she had
known where to go, she would have fled out into the dark, unknown world
at that moment, so did her heart revolt at the thought of her marriage.
She listened.  The night was very sweet with roses and honeysuckles and
faint waft of mignonette all about her, mingled with the breath of
heliotrope.  But only the night sounds came to her—the plaintive cricket
monotonously playing his part in the symphony of the evening; the
tree-toads shrilly piping here and there, with the bass of a frog in the
mill-pond just below the hill; the screech-owl coming in with his
obligato; the murmur of the brook in the ravine not far away; and the
sighing of the night-wind over all.

A sudden hush seemed to have come over the house, with only the faint
echo of voices.  Oh, if there were but a place in the world where she
might slip away and never be found!  It would be terrible to leave them
that way, with the wedding all prepared, but she would not care what she
did if only she might get away from it all.

The coach had been sent to the stables, and the gentlemen were closeted
with Mr. Van Rensselaer in his library, the room made memorable to Dawn
by so many sorrowful scenes.  It was right and fitting that the
revelation should be made within the sombre walls where had been enacted
so many tragedies connected with the little girl.

What passed within that door no one knew exactly, save the three who
took part in the low-voiced conversation. The lady of the house sat in
gloomy mortification within her stately parlor, reviewing with vexed
mind the recent interview between herself and the mother of the
bridegroom.  Mrs. Van Rensselaer decided that the other woman was a most
unpleasant person, with whom she wished to have as little to do as
possible in future.  It was well that she and her step-daughter had
little in common, if this was the kind of family she was marrying into.

The low tones in the library went on.  The lady of the house did not
like the idea of being shut out.

What could they be talking about?  How very strange! Had something
happened to the bridegroom?  They looked so solemn when they came in.
Mrs. Van Rensselaer caught her breath at the thought.  It would be
nothing short of a catastrophe to have the girl-bride on her hands, if
the wedding were to be delayed for any reason.  The child was almost
beside herself now with excitement and nervousness. It was positively
uncanny to have her around.  She was making herself sick, one could see
that at a glance, even if one didn’t love her very much.  Of course she
would settle down and be all right after she was married.  Girls always
did.  This girl was particularly headstrong, and it was as well that her
prospective husband was older than herself, and would be able to control
her wild fancies and put her through wise discipline.  Mrs. Van
Rensselaer was one of those who think all women save themselves need
discipline.

While she meditated, Dawn flitted in at the front door noiselessly and
stole up the stair like a wraith, her white dress flashing by the parlor
before her step-mother could sense what it was.

The woman started angrily.  It was one of the things about the girl that
vexed her, this stealing softly by and giving no warning that she was
near.  Her step-mother named it "slyness."

In a moment more the library door opened and her name was called.

She went into the hall with an attitude that said plainly she felt
insulted by the way things were going.

"Where is Jemima?" asked her husband, and she saw by his face that
something unusual had happened.  His look was that he had worn the day
he came home from seeing his dead wife.  Jemima indeed!  Why did he not
consult her first?  She bustled up to the door.

"Jemima has gone to her room," she said decidedly. "By this time she has
retired.  It would be better not to disturb her.  She has been very
nervous and excited all day."

To the two guests inside the library, the protest sounded like loving
solicitation.  Perhaps the woman meant it should.  She had been wont to
show her interest thus before Dawn’s father, and seldom let him know her
true feeling toward the girl.

Mr. Van Rensselaer’s severe brow did not relax.  He was used to having
life thicken around him in hard experiences, both for himself and for
those who were dependent upon him.

"It will be necessary for her to know to-night, I think, Maria," he
said.  "Sit down and I will give you the facts. It may be best for you
to tell her, after all."

With the injured importance of one who feels she should have been told
at the first, Mrs. Van Rensselaer sat down upon the extreme edge of a
stiff chair, grudgingly, not to seem too eager to be told.

"Maria, Mr. Winthrop has kindly come to inform us of a most unfortunate
state of things relating to the young man who was to have married Jemima
to-morrow morning."

Mrs. Van Rensselaer held her breath, and her face actually blanched with
the vision of the future.  "Was to have married!"  Then something had
occurred to stop it.  Her premonitions had been correct.  Well, she
would do something to get that whimsical minx out of her house, any way.
Her husband needn’t think she was to live her lifetime out in the same
house with that girl. She set her lips together hard in a thin line of
defence.

"I realize that the whole thing is painful in the extreme to my friend,
Mr. Winthrop, so it is not necessary for us to discuss the matter at
length.  It is sufficient for you and my daughter to know that it has
been discovered by Mr. Winthrop that his son Harrington is already
married to a woman who is still living, and who is the mother of his two
children.  The situation is most embarrassing on both sides, and it will
be necessary for my daughter to understand it at once."

There was a quick, eager movement of the young man on the other side of
the big desk, but no one noticed him. Mrs. Van Rensselaer was perhaps
the only one in the room whose heart was not wrung with the anguish of
the moment.

"A most unpleasant state of things, Mr. Winthrop," she said sharply,
turning to the elder guest.

The old man bowed his head in assent, too overcome to reply.

"But one for which Mr. Winthrop and his family are in no wise to blame,
of course," said Mr. Van Rensselaer quickly.

"I suppose not," said his wife dryly, in a tone which implied that there
was more than one way of looking at the matter.

"The first thing is to tell Jemima," said her father.

"I’m sure I don’t in the least see why," responded his wife.  "The first
thing is to plan what is to be done. Jemima is far better off asleep
until we arrange it all. She will make a fuss, of course.  Girls always
make a fuss, whatever happens."

Charles eyed the woman indignantly, the color rising in his face.

"But, Mr. Van Rensselaer, I——" he began eagerly.

"Yes, certainly, Mr. Winthrop; I am coming to that. There is another
matter, Maria, that slightly changes the affair.  This young man, Mr.
Charles Winthrop, has most thoughtfully offered a suggestion which may
help us out of the dilemma in which we are all placed."

Mrs. Van Rensselaer turned toward him sharply, and saw that he was good
to look upon.

"Well?" she said dryly, as her husband hesitated.

"If Miss Van Rensselaer is willing," put in Charles shyly, with wistful
eyes and a smile that would have melted any but a woman with a heart
made of pig iron.

Mrs. Van Rensselaer pursed her lips at the "Miss" applied to Jemima, and
thought in her heart she would see that "Miss Van Rensselaer" was
willing for anything that, would help them out of this most embarrassing
situation.

"Mr. Winthrop has offered his hand to my daughter," went on the father,
dropping his eyes and getting out the sentence stiffly.  It was all
painful to him.  Somehow, in the last few minutes, it had come to him
that she who had been Mary Montgomery would think he had bungled her
daughter’s life most terribly.  He was shaken with the thought.  It had
been a relief to think that the girl was to be happily married.  But
now!

"He proposes to marry her himself, to-morrow morning, at the hour
appointed for the other marriage," went on Mr. Van Rensselaer.

"With her consent, of course," put in Charles.

"Very commendable, I’m sure," commented Mrs. Van Rensselaer, while she
did some rapid thinking.

Here was her chance.  The girl must marry this young man, whether she
would or no.  All those relatives who were coming to-morrow should not
have a chance to scoff at her proud arrangements.  The step-mother
desired that they should all see how well she had done for the girl who
was not her own.  Besides, he was a goodly youth, full as handsome as
the other man, and of the same family.  What was there to object to?
The girl might even be pleased, though there was no forecasting that.
Such a queer girl would probably do the opposite from what was expected
of her.  The matter with her was that she was too young to know what she
did want, and in the present circumstances it was best for her that some
one else should decide her fate.  She—Mrs. Van Rensselaer—would decide
it. She would take matters into her own hands and see that all went the
way it should go.  Meantime, she picked at a bit of thread on her
immaculate gown, and, to make time for thought, murmured again:

"Most commendable, I’m sure."

Charles’s face lighted with hope.  He was ready to fall upon the
cold-looking lady’s neck and embrace her, if that would hasten matters.
He thought she looked more pleasing than when he had first seen her.

"I think, Mr. Van Rensselaer, you would do well to leave this matter in
my hands now.  As you say, it is a very delicate situation, and one that
must be handled most carefully.  I will go to Jemima at once and talk
with her. I must break the news gently——"

"Of course, of course—the poor lamb!" murmured the kind old father of
the reprobate bridegroom.

"She is very nervous and quite unstrung with the day’s preparation,"
went on the step-mother, the more to work her will upon the feelings of
those present.

"Of course, of course—poor child!  Don’t distress her any more than is
necessary, I beg.  It is dreadful for her, dreadful!"

"But it isn’t quite as if she had never seen me," put in Charles
wistfully.  "Tell her I have loved her from the very first sight I had
of her——"

The woman turned the chilly search-light of her eyes upon the young
man’s ardent face, and a sense of foreboding passed over him.  Poor
soul, she was only wondering what it must be like to have some one talk
in that way about one.  Still, she was keen to see an advantage, and
knew it would help her in the task she had set herself to get rid of her
step-daughter.

"Whatever you think best, Maria," assented Dawn’s father wearily.  He
was glad, after all, not to have to tell the girl.  He had come to fear
her eyes, which were like her mother’s, and her temper, which was his
own.

"Of course, of course," said old Mr. Winthrop.

Dawn’s father bowed once more his assent.  In his heart he heard again
the words: "You have no right. You have no right!"  Would the sin of his
youth never be expiated by sorrow?

Mrs. Van Rensselaer arose.

"I will go up and talk with her," she said coolly, as though it were
quite an ordinary matter under discussion.

"You will ask her to come down and let me talk to her?" asked Charles,
following her into the hall.  "I think perhaps I can make her see it
better than any one else."

The woman looked him over, frowning.  This ardent youth was going to be
hard to control.  She must be wary or he would upset all her plans, as
well as his own.

"I will see what is best," she answered coldly.  "Remember she has
retired, and this will be a great shock to her.  It would be better for
you to give her a little time to recover and to think it over.  Leave it
to me.  I will do my best for you."

She tried to smile, but conveyed rather an expression of arrogance than
of anything else.

"Of course."  The young man drew back thoughtfully. "Do not hurry her."

She passed up the stairs, and Charles wandered out the front door and
into the moonlit garden.  He stood and listened to the harmony of sound
and looked up reverently toward a chamber window where glimmered a
candle-light. He wondered if even now she was listening to his message,
and his heart was lifted high with hope.



                               CHAPTER IX


When Mrs. Van Rensselaer came down stairs a half-hour later she found
Charles in the parlor anxiously awaiting her coming.  Her face was bland
and encouraging. She tried to smile, though smiles were foreign to her
nature.

"Well," she said, seating herself and signing to the young man to take a
chair opposite her, "she is naturally very much shocked."

"Of course she would be," said Charles, somewhat sadly, and waited.

"I think, as I said, it will take her a few hours to become adjusted to
the new state of things, and it would not be well for you to see her
to-night.  There will be plenty of time in the morning.  The hour was
set late, so that all the relatives could arrive, you know.  She will
undoubtedly accept your proposal, but you must give her a little time."

"You think she will?" asked the young man, brightening. "Oh, that is
good!  Certainly I can wait until morning.  Poor little girl, it must be
very hard for her!"

A hard glitter in his hostess’s eye did not encourage conversation along
these lines, and he soon excused himself to go and meet his father, who
had gone to the inn to see that the rest of the family were comfortable
for the night.

The household settled to quiet at last, but it was like the sullen
silence before a storm.

A heavy burden had fallen upon Mr. Van Rensselaer. He seemed to be
arraigned before his first wife’s searching eyes, for the trouble that
had befallen their child.  He could not get away from the vision of her
dead face.

His wife spent the night in feverish planning for the morning, a
fiendish determination in her heart to be rid of her step-daughter, no
matter to what she had to resort in order to compass it.

Mr. Winthrop had leisure now to think upon his oldest son, and the sin
which he had been about to commit, and tears trickled down his cheeks as
he watched through the long hours of the night.  His wife vouchsafed him
no word or look.  To all appearances, she was asleep, but no one ever
knew what struggles were going on within her soul. Perhaps she was
holding herself in abeyance for the coming of the beloved son who would
explain all.

In the spacious chamber assigned to him, Charles spent much of the night
in a vision with a white-robed girl upon a hillside, and his waking
visions and those sleeping were so blended that he was scarce aware when
starlight merged into morning, and he heard the birds twitter in the
branches near his window.

Of all that household, only Dawn slept.  Her heart, bowed with its
burden of apprehension, had reached the limit of endurance, and the long
lashes lay still upon the white cheeks, while her soul ceased from its
troubling for a little while.

She awoke with a start of painful realization, while yet the first
crimson streak of morning lay in the east.  Its rosy light reminded her
of the day, and what it was to mean for her.  With a sound that was like
both a sob and a prayer, she rose quickly, and, slipping on the little
white gown she had worn the evening before, nor stopping to do more than
brush out the mass of curls, she hastened stealthily down the stairs
and, taking care to close the door behind her that her escape should not
be noticed, went out into the garden.  She would slip back quietly,
before the guests were astir, she told herself.  She wanted one more
hour to herself in the dewy garden, before life shut her in forever from
freedom and her girlhood.

Five minutes later, her step-mother, in dressing-gown and slippers,
crossed the hall hastily and pushed open the girl’s door.  She had
fallen asleep toward morning, and had slept later than she had intended.
But she had her plans carefully laid, and determined to settle the
girl’s part before any one was up.

At that same instant, Charles, whose heart was alive for the
possibilities of the new day, stepped out on the balcony in front of his
window, and with easy agility swung himself over the railing and dropped
to the terrace beneath.  He was too impatient to sleep longer, and felt
that somehow he would be nearer his heart’s desire if he got out into
the dewy morning world.

He walked slowly down the carefully tended paths, into the garden,
stopping to notice a bird’s note here, the glint of dew-drops over the
lawn, the newly opened flowers in the beds of poppies, bachelor buttons,
foxglove, asters, and sweet-peas.  A great thorny branch that must have
evaded the gardener’s careful training reached out as if to catch his
attention, and there upon its tip was a spray of delicate buds, just
half blown, exquisite as an angel’s wings, and with the warm glow of the
sunrise in the sheathlike, curling petals.  Were they white or pink or
yellow?  A warm white, living and tender, like a maiden’s cheek.  He
reached for the spray and cut it off, feeling sure he could make his
peace with the mistress of the house when he confessed his theft.  He
stood a moment looking at the beautiful roses, one almost full blown,
the other two just curling apart, like a baby trying to waken.  He drank
in their fragrance in a long, deep breath, and then, thinking his
fanciful thoughts of the girl to whom he had given his heart so freely
before he yet knew her, he walked slowly on to the little arbor hid
among the yew trees.

Mrs. Van Rensselaer stood in the doorway of Dawn’s room, aghast,
scarcely able to believe her eyes.  Yes, the girl was gone.  Where? was
her instant thought.  Perhaps she had fled, and would make them more
trouble.  A great fear clutched at the woman’s heart lest she had made a
terrible mistake by not talking the matter over with her step-daughter
the night before, and making her understand what she was to do.  Now,
perhaps, it would be found out by them all, and by her husband in
particular, that she had not yet told the girl anything.  Mrs. Van
Rensselaer had a decided fear of her husband.  Their wills had never
really clashed so far, but for some years she had had a feeling that if
they ever did, he would be terrible.  She shrank back with a wild
heating of her heart, and looked about the shadowy hall as if she
expected to find the girl lurking there.  Then her stern common-sense
came to the surface, and she went boldly into the room and made a
systematic search.  It did not take but a minute to make sure that Dawn
was not there, and that wherever she was she had taken nothing with her,
save the clothes she had worn the evening before.  It suddenly occurred
to the step-mother that she ought to have gone into the room before
retiring last night and made sure that her charge was there; but so sure
had she been that she had heard Dawn come in, it had not occurred to her
to do it.  Besides, where could the girl go?  She was very likely
maundering about that dull old garden she had haunted ever since her
return from school.

With that, Mrs. Van Rensselaer looked out of the window, just in time to
catch sight of her young guest cutting the roses.  With keen
apprehension, she saw what might be about to happen, and knew that
instant action was the only thing that could prevent a catastrophe.

Regardless of dressing-gown and slippers, and of the night-cap which
concealed her scant twist of hair, she descended the stairs, strode out
the front door and down the garden path, coming in sight of the young
man just as he turned the corner of the yew hedge into the walk that led
into the green arbor.

Charles stopped suddenly, for there sat Dawn in her little white gown,
with her head bowed upon her arms, on the rustic table, and her wealth
of dark curls covering her.  Her young frame shook with sobbing, yet so
quietly did she weep that he had not heard her.

Her ear, alert with apprehension, caught the sound of his foot upon the
gravel, and she raised her head as suddenly as he had stopped.

She looked at him with frightened eyes, out of which the tears had fled
down her white cheeks.  The face was full of anguish, yet sweet and
pitiful withal, framed in its ripple of dark hair.

One instant she looked at him as if he were a vision from whence she
could not tell, then that great light grew in her eyes, as he had seen
it on the hillside, and before he knew what he was doing he had smiled.
Then the light in her eyes grew into an answering smile and lit up her
whole beautiful, sorrowful face.  It was like a rainbow in the pale dawn
of the morning, that smile, with the tear-drops still upon her lashes.

"Jemima, what on earth!" broke in the harsh voice of her step-mother.
"You certainly do take the craziest notions!  You out here in that rig
at this time in the morning!  I guess you didn’t count on company rising
early, too.  And your hair not combed either!  I certainly am mortified.
Run in quick and get tidied up.  There’s plenty to do this morning,
without mooning in the garden. You’ll excuse her"—to the guest.  "She
had no idea any one else would be out here so early."

The smile had gone from the girl’s face, and instead the fright had come
back at sound of her tormentor’s jangling voice.  She looked down at her
little rumpled frock, put back her hair with trembling hand, and a flood
of sweet, shamed color came into the white face, just as the sun burst
up behind the hedge and touched the green with rosy morning brightness.

Without a word in reply, she turned to go, but her eyes met those of
Charles with a pleading that went to his heart, and his eyes answered
unspeakable things, of which neither knew the meaning, though each felt
the strange joy they brought.

As he stood back to let her pass, he held out to her the spray of lovely
rosebuds, and without a word she took them and went swiftly on into the
house.  Not a word had passed between them, yet each felt that something
wonderful had happened.

Dawn looked neither to right nor to left, fearing lest she should see
some one less welcome, and so she fled to her room, with the sound of
her step-mother’s clanging voice, uttering some commonplaces about the
morning and the garden, floating to her in indistinct waves.

"You will let me see her now just as soon as she is ready to come down?"
Charles asked eagerly at the door.

"I will talk with her at once, and let you know what she says," answered
the vexed lady evasively.  She was all out of breath and flurried with
the anxiety lest she had been too late.  It had been a narrow escape.
She did not like to begin an important day like this with being
flustered.  Besides, she had become conscious of her night-cap, the ugly
lines of her dressing-gown, the flop-flop of her slippers.  A long wisp
of hair had escaped from her cap and was tickling her nose, as she
ascended the stairs with as much dignity as the circumstances and her
slippers allowed, in full sight of the ardent lover.

"Well, Jemima Van Rensselaer, I hope you’re satisfied!" she flared out,
as soon as she was inside the girl’s door.  "What on earth took you out
in the wet at this unearthly hour?  And on your wedding day, too!  I
should think you’d be ashamed!  I declare I shall be glad to my soul
when this day’s over and I can wash my hands of the responsibility of
you.  If your father knew the freaks and fancies and the queer actions
of you I’m not sure what he wouldn’t do to you!  Now, look here!  Sit
down.  I want to talk to you."

But Dawn had flung herself upon her bed in a paroxysm of tears, and was
smothering her wild sobs in the pillow. She did not hear a word.

Nor could threats nor protests, nor even a thorough shaking, bring her
out of it until the tears had wept themselves out.  But finally she lay
quiet and white upon the bed, and even the hard-hearted woman who did
not love her was stirred to a sort of pity for the abject woe that was
upon her face.

"Say, look here, Jemima"—even the hated name brought forth no sign from
the girl—"now put away all this foolishness.  Girls always feel kind of
queer at getting married and making a change in life.  I did, myself."

Dawn wondered indifferently if her step-mother had ever been a girl.
She certainly had not been one when she married Dawn’s father.

"You’ll feel all right once you get in your own home and have things the
way you want them around you."

Dawn shuddered.  She would have _him_ around her.

"Now, do get up and wash your face.  A bride oughtn’t to look as if she
was just getting over the measles.  Besides, you’ll be wanted pretty
soon to go downstairs——"

"Oh!"  Dawn involuntarily put her hand over her heart.  "Must I go down
and see all those dreadful people?  Couldn’t I just stay here
till—till—till it’s time?"

Now, this was exactly what Mrs. Van Rensselaer wanted her to say, and,
moreover, had been counting upon.  If Dawn had assented to going down,
her step-mother would have found some excuse for keeping her upstairs.
But she did not wish the girl to know it, so she assumed a look of mild
disapproval.

"It’s very queer for you not to want to meet your mother-in-law and
father-in-law, and all your new sisters——"

Dawn shuddered more violently, and clasped her hands quickly over her
eyes, as if to shut out the unpleasant vision of her new kindred.

"Oh, no, no, please!" she besought, looking up at her step-mother with
more earnest pleading than she had ever shown her before.

"Well"—grimly—"I suppose it can be managed, but you’ll want to have a
talk with him that’s so soon to be your husband——"

"Oh, no, no!" cried Dawn wildly.  "I do not want to see him.  I cannot
talk with him now.  I could never, never, go through that awful ceremony
afterward if I were to see him now.  I should run away or something. I’m
sure I should.  I don’t want to see anybody until I have to."

"He’ll think it very strange.  I don’t see how I can explain it.  He’s
very anxious to talk to you.  He sent you a message last night, but you
were asleep."

So that was what the knock had meant!  Dawn was glad she had not
answered it.

"Oh, please, please," she said, clasping her hands in the attitude of
pleading, "couldn’t you just explain to him that I’m a very silly girl,
but I should like just these last few minutes to myself.  Tell him that
if he has any message, please to tell it to you, and to let me be by
myself now.  Tell him he doesn’t know how a girl feels when she is going
to stop being a girl.  Tell him, please, that if he has any sympathy for
me at all, he won’t ask to see me now.  It is only a little while, and I
want it to myself."

Her great pleading eyes met Mrs. Van Rensselaer’s cold gaze, and her
whole slender figure took an attitude of intense wistfulness.  The elder
woman, cold and unloving as she was, could not but acknowledge that the
girl was very beautiful.  Her heart might have been touched more had it
not been for the gnawing thought that this child’s mother had been the
canker-worm which had blighted the step-mother’s whole life.

She turned grimly from the girl, well content that her plans were coming
out as she desired, yet not entirely comfortable in mind or conscience.
Almost she determined to risk telling the girl everything, yet dared
not, lest she utterly refuse to be married even at this late hour.

"Well, I suppose you must have your own way.  You always have," she said
grimly.

Dawn wondered when.

"I’ll do my best to explain your state of mind," continued Mrs. Van
Rensselaer, "though I’m sure I don’t know how he’ll take it.  It’s my
opinion he isn’t going to have a bed of roses through life, being a
husband to you, any way, and I suppose he may as well begin to learn."

With which unsympathetic remark, she went heavily out of the girl’s
room, and into her own, where she speedily got herself into her wedding
garments.  A red spot burned in either sallow cheek, but her mouth wore
the line of victory.  So far she had carried out her schemes well.



                               CHAPTER X


At breakfast time, as the other guests were coming downstairs, Mrs. Van
Rensselaer beckoned Charles inside the dining-room door, and gave him
his message in a low tone.

"It will be all right, Mr. Winthrop.  Your offer will be accepted
gratefully, but she asks you to be kind enough to leave her to herself
until the time for the ceremony.  She is so much shaken by this whole
thing that she is afraid to talk about it, lest it will unnerve her.
She says she does not need to talk it over, that you are very kind, and
if you have any message, you can send it by me after breakfast."

"Thank you, thank you!" said Charles, his face bright with the joy of
knowing that his strange suit had been successful.  He was disappointed,
of course, not to see the girl at once, but it would not be long before
she was his wife, and he could talk with her as much as he pleased.
After all, there was something wonderful in her trusting him enough to
marry him, when she had seen him but twice.  Had she, perhaps, had the
same feeling about him that he had about her?  Had that been the
explanation of the light in her eyes?

These thoughts played a happy trill in his heart as he greeted his
father and mother and seated himself at the table.  All through the
meal, he was planning the message he would send to his beloved.

When her step-mother had left the room, Dawn had fastened the door
securely against all intrusion.  She was determined to have to herself
what little time was left.

On the couch, under her window was spread the beautiful frock which her
step-mother had prepared for her to wear.  It was of white satin, rich
and elaborate, and encrusted with much beautiful lace, which had been in
her father’s family for years, and was yellow with age.  It was
traditional that all the brides of the house had worn these rare laces.
Dawn hated the frock and the lace.  She would much rather have worn a
simple muslin of her own mother, but as the marriage was not to her
taste, why should her dress be, either?  What mattered it?  Let them all
have their way with her.

Mrs. Van Rensselaer had taken much pride in preparing the beautiful
garments, but Dawn knew why.  She knew that it was for others to look
upon, so that they would praise the step-mother for having been so good
to the child who had been thrust upon her care under circumstances
which, to put it mildly, were unpleasant.  It spoke of no loving
kindness toward her.

And so Dawn did not go over to the couch, as many another girl might
have done, to examine again the filmy hand-embroidered garments, the
silk stockings, and the dainty satin slippers, sewed over with
seed-pearls that were also an heirloom in the family.  They meant to her
nothing but signs of her coming bondage.

Instead, she went to the little three-legged mahogany stand, where she
had placed in a tall pitcher her spray of rosebuds.  She bent over to
take in their delicate fragrance, and the eyes of him who had given them
to her seemed to be looking into her soul again, as twice they had
looked before.

It was a strange thing—and she thought of it afterward many times—that
she did not yet know who he was, and had never stopped to question.  It
had not even occurred to her to wonder if he were a relative or only a
friend, or how he came to be in her home.  She accepted him as she would
have accepted a respite in some quiet place for her fevered spirit, or
the visit of an angel with a message of strength from heaven.  She had a
vague feeling that if he had come before things might have been
different.

She knelt beside the stand and let her hot cheek rest against a cool
bud; she touched her lips to another, and then laid the roses on her
eyelids.  It seemed almost like a pitying human hand upon her spirit,
and comforted her tired heart.  She felt that she was growing old, very,
very old, in these last few hours, to meet the requirements of her
wedding day, and the touch of the buds seemed to steady and help her, as
her mother’s hand and lips might have done.

By and by she would have to get up and put on those fine garments lying
over there in the morning sunlight, and go downstairs, for them all to
stare at her misery; but now she would forget it all for a little while,
and just think of her new-found friend, who had looked at her with such
a wonderful smile—a smile in which there seemed no place for
fault-finding or sternness or grim solemnity—the things which had seemed
to make up the main part of her girlhood life.

Meantime, Mr. Winthrop and his host had gone to meet the train, upon
which the expectant bridegroom would arrive.

As they neared the tavern that served as a station for the new railroad,
they saw an old man, a woman, and two little children sitting upon a
settle on the front stoop. The man arose and came a step or two toward
them, and Mr. Winthrop saw that it was William McCord.

He seemed embarrassed and he spoke apologetically:

"Mr. Winthrop, sir, I don’t jest know what you’ll think about me bein’
here—I don’t, and I’m sorry’s I can be about it; but, you see, I knowed
Harrington pretty well.  I knowed he might find a way to smooth it all
over and pull the wool over your eyes, and I’d passed my word I’d come
here with her and stop the marriage, if so be it turned out you couldn’t
or wouldn’t feel called upon to do so.  I didn’t count on your comin’
down to the train. You see, we ben watchin’ every train sence yesterday,
to make sure he didn’t get away to the house without our seein’ him.
That poor girl there ain’t et scarce a mouthful sence she started from
home—only just a drop o’ coffee now an’ then—and she ain’t slep’
neither.  She’s jest keepin’ alive to hunt him up and try to persuade
him to come home to her an’ the children.  You see, I had to let her
come.  I couldn’t say no.  She was up here day ’fore yesterday, when I
come to see you.  She didn’t want I should tell you, because she ain’t
got the clo’es and fixin’s she’d like to hev you see her in, but she was
determined to come——"

He paused and looked back toward the bench where the woman and the
children sat.

Mr. Winthrop’s face had taken on a look of distress as he recognized
William McCord.  He turned to his companion and explained in a low tone,
"This is the man who brought me the evidence."

Mr. Van Rensselaer regarded the man with keen eyes, and decided at once
that any word from a man with such a face was as good as an affidavit.

When William looked toward the woman her worn face flamed crimson, then
turned deadly white again.  She must have been unusually pretty not so
very many years ago, but sorrow, toil and poverty had left their
ineradicable marks upon her face and stripped her of all claim to beauty
now.  Her dress was plain, and as neat as could be expected under the
circumstances.  Her roughened hair showed an attempt to put it into
order, and her eyes looked as though she had not slept for many nights.
In spite of her shrinking, there was a dignity about her.  The bony hand
that held the youngest child wore a wedding ring, now much too large for
the finger.

The oldest child, a girl apparently of five, had yellow hair and rather
bold blue eyes that reminded Mr. Winthrop startlingly of his eldest
son’s when he was a small boy. The youngest, a sallow, sickly boy,
looked like his mother.

The kindly face of Mr. Winthrop was overspread with trouble, but he
grasped the humbler man’s hand warmly:

"That’s all right, William," he said heartily.  "I suppose she felt she
must come, and there’s no harm done. Only, for our friend Mr. Van
Rensselaer’s sake, keep the matter as quiet as possible."

"Certainly, certainly, Mr. Winthrop, and thank you, sir," said the old
man gratefully.

Then he looked questioningly toward the woman, and took a step in her
direction.

"Alberty, this here is his father," said William McCord and withdrew
hastily.

Mr. Van Rensselaer at once engaged him in earnest conversation, giving
the other man opportunity to talk with his unknown daughter-in-law
without being observed.

The woman looked up abashed into the kindly eyes bent upon her.  Yet she
felt the right was on her side, and she had no need to quail before any
one.

"It has given me great sorrow, madam, to learn of my son’s behavior," he
began.  "It is particularly distressing to us because he is our first
born, and deeply loved by us."  He paused, overcome by his emotion, and
the dry-eyed woman, who looked as if she had long ago shed all the tears
she had to shed, glanced up wonderingly and said in a voice that
betrayed her lack of culture:

"Yes, that’s one trouble with him: folks always like him too well.  He
thinks he can do anything he wants, and it won’t make no diff’runce.
But he can’t go no further with me.  I’ve jest made up my mind to take a
stand, even ef I have to go to that rich girl and show her them
childern."

The father in him almost shuddered at the vernacular. Of what could
Harrington have been thinking when he married this woman—Harrington, who
had been brought up amid the refinements of life, and been almost too
sensitive to unpleasant things?  It was the old story of a pretty face,
and a boy far from home and acquaintances, with no one to advise, and no
danger of being found out.

"I used to like him a lot myself," went on the tired voice, "an’ I might
even yet ef he’d behave himself and stay home, an’ pervide good fer us
like he used to."  There was a pleasant drawl to her tone, like a weary
child’s.  The father’s heart was touched.

"Has my son sent you money during his absences?"  The question had to be
asked, but it cut the old gentleman to the heart to speak the words.

She turned dull eyes on him.

"Never a cent!  He always said he was havin’ a hard time to get money
enough to keep goin’, business was so bad, but I look notice he was
dressed up good and smart every time he come home, which wa’n’t often."
She sighed as if it did not matter much.

"I could stand it all," she began again in her monotonous tone, "but I
can’t stand him gettin’ married again. It ain’t right, and it ain’t the
law, an’ I knew ef I didn’t stop it, nobody would, so I come on."

"That was right," sighed the old gentleman, fumbling in his pocket,
"perfectly right.  Here, I want you to take this with you."

He handed her a roll of bills, but she drew back, a red spot coming in
either sallow cheek.

"I ain’t an object of charity, thank you.  I put a mortgage on pap’s
shack to git the money to come out here, but when I get back I’ve got
plenty of work, an’ I can pay it off in a year or so."

"This is not charity," said the disconcerted old gentleman.  "This
belongs to you.  I often lend Harrington money, and sometimes give him
some, and this was to be given to him.  I think it is safer with you.
He can work for his own after this, and I will see that all I should
have given him comes to your hands.  I have your address. Take it for
the children.  I guess I have a right to give something to my own
grandchildren," he said with a great stretch of his pride, looking down
at the two forlorn little specimens of childhood hiding, half
frightened, behind their mother’s skirts.

The woman melted at once, the first warm tinge of life springing into
her eyes at the mention of her children as his relatives.

"Oh, if you put it that way, I’ll take it o’ course.  It ain’t no fault
of theirs that their father don’t do right by me, and they do need a
sight of things I can’t manage to get anyhow.  Last winter Harry was
sick for four months—he’s named after his pa, Harry is."  She pushed his
hair fondly out of his eyes, and, moistening her fingers at her lips,
rubbed vigorously at a black streak on Harry’s nose, at which he as
vigorously protested.

But the train was near at hand.  Even then the distant rumble of its
wheels could be heard.

Mr. Van Rensselaer and William McCord drew near, the latter with an
attitude of deferential expectancy.

"Mr. Winthrop," said his host, "would it not be well to let your son’s
wife meet him first?"

The old father bowed.  He saw at once the wisdom of this.

"I’d like ye to stand where ye could get a glimpse of his face when he
first catches sight o’ his wife.  It will be a better proof that I’ve
told ye the truth than all the words I’ve said to ye," whispered
William.

"I have never doubted your word, William," said the father sadly.

With much shouting and blowing of the trumpet, the morning train
lumbered in, and the passengers began rapidly to emerge.  There were
loud talk, and tooting of the horn, and a clatter of machinery, as the
fireman jumped down and attended to some detail of the engine’s
mechanism.  Some said he did this to show off before the gaping crowd,
who had not yet grown used to the fact that a machine could draw a
number of loaded carriages through the country, without the aid of
horses.

The two old gentlemen had rapidly withdrawn into a secluded place, by a
wide-spreading apple-tree.



                               CHAPTER XI


One of the first to get out of the carriages was Harrington Winthrop.  A
high stock held his chin well tilted in the air, his gray trousers were
immaculate, and his coat fitted about his slender waist as trimly as any
lady’s.  He wore a high gray beaver hat and carried a shiny new
portmanteau.  Altogether, he looked quite a dandy, and the eyes of his
waiting wife filled with a light of pride even while her heart quaked.

Only an instant she paused to watch him.  He was making straight for the
Van Rensselaer carriage, which stood not far away, and which he supposed
had been sent to bring him to the house.  He walked with an importance
and pride that any one might see.  He did not take note of any one on
the platform, though he was conscious that many were watching him.

Then, suddenly, the woman with the two little children clinging to her
skirts, stepped in his way.  The little girl looked up into his face
with bold blue eyes, and cried out: "It’s my pa!  It’s my pa!  Oh,
doesn’t he look pretty?"

The two men standing close together under the apple-tree were near
enough to hear the child’s cry, and many bystanders turned and looked at
the fine gentleman beset by the poor-looking woman and children.

Harrington Winthrop turned his elegant self about with a start and found
himself face to face with the worn shadow of the woman who for a time
had been his plaything, and whom he had tossed aside as easily and as
carelessly as if she had been a doll.

The start, the pallor, the quick, furtive side-glance, all told their
tale to the watchers, without other need of words. Then anger surged
into young Winthrop’s face, and he cried out:

"Stand back, you vagabonds!  What have I to do with you?  Get out of my
way, woman!  There is a carriage waiting for me."

But the woman stood her ground, with grim determination, great red waves
of restrained anger marking her face and forehead, as if he had struck
her with his words.  She looked up at him.  She had planned it all for
so many hours, and now she was calm in this terrible crisis.  It would
not do to make a public disturbance.  Neither for his sake nor for her
own, did she wish to have people see or hear, if it could be avoided, so
she had schooled herself to be self-controlled.

"Harrington," she said, speaking low and rapidly, "I’m your wife, and
you know it.  I’ve come to keep you from an awful sin, and I will do it.
You can’t forgit me an’ the children, and marry a rich girl.  It would
be wicked. But I’ve fixed it so you can’t do it, any way.  If you’ll
come off quiet with me now, I won’t say a word to disgrace you here
where I s’pose folks knows you; but if you try to git away from me, I’ll
tell the whole world who I be, an’ prove it too!"

Now, if the young man had known that there were those watching who knew
his story he would have been more careful, but his casual glance about
the platform had given him no hint of any but the villagers, few of whom
he knew even slightly.  Yet his wife’s face and voice were such that he
thought it the part of wisdom to temporize; so he dropped his angry
manner and spoke in a low tone. But it happened that the two witnesses
under the apple-tree had also, by common consent, moved toward him. With
William McCord in their rear, they came and stood quite close to
Harrington, and though he did not see them, every word that he spoke was
audible.

"Look here, Alberta, what in the name of common sense are you doing up
here?  Isn’t it hard enough for me to have to work and scrape and do all
in my power to get my business going again, so that I can come home to
you and the children and keep you in the way you ought to be kept,
without having you come traipsing around here in such clothes as that?
Don’t you know you’d ruin my business if anybody thought you belonged to
me? Everybody thinks I’m a successful business man, and they must think
so or I’m lost and shall never come back to you. Here, take this money.
A man just paid me a bill that he has been owing me for two years, and I
needed the money to help me in a new deal, but as you are here you’ll
have to have it to get home with.  Now, run along back, and take good
care of the children till I come home a rich man. Then we’ll live like
folks.  And what is all this nonsense you are talking about my marrying
a rich girl?  How ever could you get such an idea?  Why, I couldn’t
marry anybody as long as you are my wife.  You must have heard some
foolish gossip.  Take it quick and run along, or people will be looking
and talking, and I shall be ruined."

The thin hand of the wife went out to the money he offered her, but
instead of taking it, she struck it into the air, and it fell scattering
in every direction.  Suddenly the young man became aware of the nearness
of others, and, looking up, he saw in quick succession his father, Mr.
Van Rensselaer, and William McCord!

He knew at once that they had heard every word he had spoken to his
wife, even before their condemning eyes had searched his soul.  The
presence of William McCord made it plain to him that they had known the
story before his arrival, and he realized instantly that he had given
the final testimony against himself.

It was too late to turn back and deny knowledge of the woman.  There
stood his father’s former farm manager, who had lived in the Western
town where Harrington had married his wife.  That McCord would ever come
East again and bring back tales against him had not occurred to the
careless young scapegrace.  McCord was a quiet, silent man, who went
about his own business, and seldom, if ever, wrote letters.  Young
Winthrop had never given an uneasy thought to him, but now he stood and
looked at him in growing dismay.

Turning, Harrington met his father’s passionate, loving reproach, his
wife’s bitter hopelessness, and the scorn of the man he had hoped soon
to call his father-in-law.

The voice of Mr. Winthrop broke out in bitterness: "Oh, my son, my son!"
and the father’s kind face was turned away.  He was weeping.

This kind of reproach had ever angered Harrington Winthrop beyond all
endurance.  It seethed over his frightened, fretted spirit now like acid
in a wound.  The voice of the trainman cried out, "All aboard!" the
trumpet sounded, and the wheels moved.  The fireman jumped on, board.
Then Harrington Winthrop grasped his portmanteau, pushed aside his
frightened children, who were eagerly gathering up the scattered money,
and sprang into a vacant carriage.  His game was up and he knew it.

With a wild cry, the wife caught up her little boy, and, dragging her
little girl, rushed after him.  A couple of men standing by pushed her
up into the carriage with her husband, which happened to be occupied by
no one else.  Before he had time to turn about and notice what had
happened, the train was going rapidly on its way, and the reunited
family had ample opportunity to discuss their situation.  Harrington
Winthrop had completed the last link in the chain of evidence against
him: he had fled.

Mr. Van Rensselaer stood looking after the vanishing train with
satisfaction.  He had watched the changing expressions on the face of
the young man who had expected to become the husband of his only
daughter: the cruelty, the craven fear, the hate, and the utter
selfishness of the man!  Suppose his daughter had stood where that poor
wife had stood, and begged of him to come home to her and care for her!
What an escape!

The daughter who had been the object of so little of his thought or care
had suddenly become dear to him. Mary’s daughter, the child of his real
love!  He saw how utterly selfish and unfatherly had been his whole
action with regard to her; how almost criminal in his self-absorption.
There had come, too, a revelation from the sight of that poor,
hollow-eyed, deserted wife, a revelation of what his treatment of his
own wife, Mary, had been.  He was stung with a remorse such as he had
not known before.

As William McCord watched the departing train, he might have been said
fairly to glow with contentment over the way things had come out.  Not
that he felt that matters would be materially improved for the poor
broken-hearted woman who was making her last frantic effort to get back
what she had lost.  But he was justified, fully justified, in the eyes
of his benefactor.  He could now with a clear conscience take his way
back to his claim in western Mississippi, and feel that he had done his
duty.

As for Mr. Winthrop, he was filled with horror.  His son’s face had been
a revelation to him.  Until now it had been impossible for him to
conceive that Harrington had done this wrong.  Underneath all his
conviction of the truth of William McCord’s story, there had still been
a lingering hope that in some way the beloved son would explain things
satisfactorily.

Mr. Winthrop now realized that he had never really known his boy at all.
The old father gazed after the train in the dim distance, saw it round a
curve and vanish from his sight, then turned and walked with bowed head
away from them all.  He felt that such sorrow was too heavy for him.



                              CHAPTER XII


Dawn was already dressed for the wedding.

Her step-mother surveyed her with a kind of grim pride.  The shimmering
satin fitted the slim, girlish form to perfection, and the yellow lace
set off the pink and cream complexion.  It was a beautiful frock, and
all who saw it would be sure to say so.

There had been some contention about the arrangement of the girl’s hair.
Dawn wanted to be married with her curls down her back, as she had
always worn them, but her step-mother was firm.  That could not be.  If
her hair had been only long enough to reach to her shoulders, it would
not have seemed so absurd, for many young women wore their short
ringlets all about the neck.  But Dawn’s hair fell far below her waist
in rich, abundant curls.  It was out of the question for her to be
married looking so like a child.

The argument had waxed hot, and at one point Dawn had declared that she
would not be married at all unless she could wear her hair as she had
always worn it.  Finally her step-mother threatened to go for the girl’s
father to settle the dispute.  Dawn’s face was white, and she turned
away to hide her emotion.  Then in a strange, hard voice she said:

"I will put it up if it must be."

After all, what did that or anything else matter? Certainly not enough
to invoke her father’s wrath upon her at this most trying moment of her
life.

She drew the mass of beautiful curls up on her head, fastening them with
a large tortoise-shell comb which had been her mother’s and was
treasured by the young girl. The ends of the curls fell in a little
shower over the back of the comb, making a lovely effect.  The
step-mother thought it far too careless and mussy-looking, and frowned
at the sweet, artistic head, but Dawn gave it a pat here and there and
would have no more to say about it.  With her own hands, she arranged
the filmy veil.  She would not have her step-mother’s assistance.  Mrs.
Van Rensselaer stood by, watching the quick, assured way in which the
young bride draped the delicate fabric.  The elder woman was half
jealous of the girl’s deftness.

"Put on your gloves, and you’ll do very nicely, though I must say I’d
rather see your hair smooth for once.  But the veil hides the
frowsiness.  Now, is there anything you’d like to know about what you’ve
got to do?"

Dawn looked at her step-mother in horror.

"I haven’t got to do anything, have I?"  There was genuine distress in
her voice.  She had been so absorbed in the great thought of the result
of this act that the ceremony itself, about which so many girls worry,
had not entered into her mind in the least.

"Well," said Mrs. Van Rensselaer—there was satisfaction in her voice,
for Dawn was unconsciously making it easier for her than she had dared
to hope—"there isn’t much, of course.  Nothing but to keep your eyes
down and walk in and say yes.  It’s all very simple.  The main thing is
never to look up.  It is counted very bad manners to look up.  A bride
who raises her eyes during the ceremony, or before, is called very bold
and—and immodest!"

The step-mother’s voice sounded queer to herself, and she picked at an
invisible thread on her sleeve.  This was the first out-and-out bald lie
she had ever told in her life, though she had made many a misleading
statement; but that, of course, to a woman with a conscience, was a very
different thing.  This woman thought she had a conscience, and she was
excusing her present action on the ground of necessity, and the
circumstances.  "She’s getting a far better husband every way, anyhow,
and it isn’t as if she was much attached to the other man.  One can see
she was afraid of him.  I’m really doing her a service, and she’ll thank
me when she finds it out."  This was what she told her conscience now,
and went on with her advice to Dawn.

"You want to walk downstairs very slowly, with your eyes on the hem of
your frock.  You mustn’t look up for anything."

"I’m sure I don’t know what I should want to look up for," said Dawn
coldly.  "I’d much rather look down. I’m glad it’s quite polite to do
so."

"That’s right," commended her step-mother, with unusual alacrity.  "And
it won’t do a bit of harm to keep it up some afterward too, at least,
till you get out to the dining-room, and then you can look into your
plate a good deal.  People will only think you are shy and modest, and
say nice things about you for it."

"I don’t care what people think," observed the girl. "Is that all?"

"Oh, there’ll be things he’ll ask you—the minister, you know.  The
regular service.  He’ll say a lot of things, and then ask you, ’Do you
thus promise?’  And then you say, ’Yes,’ or you can just nod your head."

"But suppose I don’t like to promise those things? Won’t he marry me?"
The girl asked the question sharply, as if she saw a possibility of
escape somewhere; but the older woman was so relieved that her task had
been performed that she took little notice of the question.

"Oh, yes," she answered carelessly, thinking the girl was anxious about
saying her part at the right time.  "If you don’t get it in, he’ll go
right on, any way, and it’ll soon be over.  You know Doctor Parker is
very deaf, and he wouldn’t know whether you said yes or no.  Now, if
there isn’t anything else, I’ll go down, for I hear more carriages
coming, and I’ll be needed.  You’re sure you don’t want to see _him_
before the ceremony."

"No," said Dawn, turning away from her with a quick gasp of her breath.
Oh, if she need never see him, how happy she would be!

"Well, then, I’ll go down.  You be all ready when I call you to come.
Now, mind you don’t once raise your eyes until the ceremony is over and
you are out in the dining-room.  Above all things, don’t look up at your
husband even then.  Nobody should see you look at each other.  It makes
them think you are foolish and silly."

"I shall certainly not look at him," said Dawn with white lips.

Then the step-mother went out of the room.

Dawn fastened the door and went quickly over to the stand, where the
roses had been unnoticed by Mrs. Van Rensselaer.  Had she seen them, it
would have been like her to throw them out of the window, lest the water
should upset on the white satin frock.

The girl bent over and breathed in their fragrance again, and then,
carefully drying the stem on a towel, she slipped them up under her veil
and fastened them upon her breast with a little pearl pin that had
belonged to her mother.  She went to her glass and viewed the effect
through her veil, with a white, wan smile at the buds nestling among the
beautiful lace.  She would have one thing as she wanted it, any way: if
she must be married, she would wear the flowers that had been given to
her with a smile by somebody that understood.  This was the last time
she would have the right to wear another man’s flowers.  After to-day
she would belong to her husband, but until she did she would wear the
only flowers that had ever meant anything to her.

Then she closed her eyes and tried to get her spirit calmed, but she
felt like one of those old queens in a tower that they used to study
about at school: who was soon to go out and have her head cut off with
the guillotine.

A few minutes later Mr. Winthrop again ascended the stairs to his wife’s
room.

"They want you to come down, Janet," he said gently. "Martha and the
girls have come, and they are all waiting for you."

"I shall not come down until I have had a talk with my son Harrington,"
said that lady decidedly.

"Are you not coming down to the ceremony?" asked her husband.  It went
very hard with him to deceive the wife of his youth, but there seemed no
other way to deal with her in the present situation.

"The ceremony?"  She arose with alacrity.  "What do you mean?  Has
Harrington come, and has he explained everything?  It has turned out
just as I supposed it would."

She stopped in front of the glass and smoothed her hair.  She had
arrayed herself in her best immediately after breakfast.

"I should think it was time an apology was due from you, Mr. Winthrop."
Madam Winthrop stood haughtily in the middle of the room, aware that her
small figure was elegant, and feeling that she had entire command of the
situation.  There was a becoming triumph in the brightness of her eyes
and the set of her cameo lips.

"The wedding is to be at once," said her husband gravely, motioning her
to precede him.

"What was Harrington’s explanation?" she whispered, eager as any girl,
now that she thought she had come off triumphant.

"There is no time to talk about it now," said her husband, again
motioning her down the stairs.

She had a mind to make another stand before his grave authority, but in
reality she was too much relieved from the awful strain she had been
under during the past twenty-four hours for her to care to hold out
against him longer. She went quietly down the stairs and took the place
Mrs. Van Rensselaer most ungraciously assigned her.  There was in that
lady’s eye something unquelled which gave the bridegroom’s mother some
uneasiness and took her mind from the ceremony, so that she failed to
notice as the little procession passed by her almost immediately, that
Harrington was not a part of it, and that her youngest son occupied the
place of the bridegroom.

It was not until the clear voice rang out in the words, "I do," that
something in the boyish accents made her look up and stretch her neck to
see her son.  How strange that Harrington’s voice should sound so
exactly like Charles’s!  But some one was standing so that the
bridegroom’s face could not be seen by her.

The little bride, with downcast eyes and palpitating heart, stood
demurely by his side, her cold hands trembling within the gloves her
step-mother had brought from New York for the occasion.  One lay upon a
fine black coat-sleeve that had put itself within reaching distance.
She had not put the glove there herself.  A hand, a strong, warm hand,
had taken it and put it there, a hand that against her will had sent a
strange thrill through her, and left her faint and frightened.  That had
been at the foot of the stairs, and she had walked with it thus down the
room.  She had not looked up to see to whom that sleeve belonged.  She
believed she knew, and it sent no pleasant thought to her heart.  Yet
she had to acknowledge that the arm had steadied her and kept her from
stumbling, and had guided her safely into the vacant spot in front of
the minister.

Dawn did not look beyond the hem of her garments, but kept her long
lashes drooping on her crimson cheeks, a lovely but frightened bride.
She felt keenly the moment the service began, and knew that she was
surrendering forever her liberty and girlhood.  Good-by to everything
that she had ever counted happy in this life.  No house, no pretty
dishes, no handsome furniture, could ever make up for that now, and her
heart cried out in anguish that she had not vetoed the idea when it was
first proposed to her, before it had gone so far that retraction was
dishonorable.

When the vows were read, and she heard their terrible binding import,
she longed to cry out her horror in a great, echoing, "_No!_" that
should leave no doubt in any mind, and would even penetrate to the good
minister’s deaf ears.  But her tongue was tied by fear of her father and
his friends, and she dared not lift her voice.  Yet she would not speak
to make promises her heart could not echo, and so she stood silent, with
no nod of her head, no breath of a "yes."  The minister, after waiting
an instant for the desired assent, passed monotonously and solemnly on
to the end, and pronounced those two, who knew each of the other as
little almost as it was possible for two human beings to know, man and
wife.

During the prayer that followed, Dawn had hard work to keep back the
tears that were struggling to creep out and cool her flushed cheeks; but
the breath of the roses at her breast seemed to steal up and comfort
her, and once, just before the end, a strong hand, warm and gentle, was
placed over her gloved one for just an instant, with a pressure that
seemed to promise help.  Yet because she thought it was an unloved hand,
it only made her heart beat the more wildly, and she was glad when the
prayer was ended and the hand was taken away.

They came crowding about her after it was over, in the order of their
rank, stiffly at first and with great formality. The bride still kept
her eyes drooped, barely glancing up at those who took her hand or
kissed her and never once lifting her eyes to the man who stood by her
side.  It was the first and only mandate of her step-mother’s that she
obeyed to the letter and to the end.

Mrs. Van Rensselaer gave her a cold kiss, and whispered that she was
doing very well; and her father gave her the second kiss she could
remember from him since he had sent her own mother away, and said in a
low tone: "Poor child!  I hope you will be happy now!"

She puzzled over that sentence long.  Why had he called her "poor
child," and yet seemed so sure by his tone that she had attained a
height upon which happiness was assured?  It touched her more than
anything else that he had ever said to her.

Mr. Winthrop bowed low over Dawn’s hand and told her he was glad to have
another dear daughter, and Madam Winthrop, coming up from the side away
from the bridegroom, graciously kissed her and called her a sweet child.
Then she turned to meet her son, and stopped aghast, saying, "Charles!
Where is Harrington?"

Now, Dawn might have heard the disturbance and been much enlightened,
and all Mrs. Van Rensselaer’s fine plans might have been exposed, if it
had not been that Madeleine and Cordelia stepped up to their new
sister-in-law close behind their mother, while Betty had rushed in and
smothered her with kisses, whispering: "Oh, you darling sister! How I am
going to enjoy you!"  The three girls stood gushing and fluttering over
the young bride, so that she did not hear what went on.

For, as it happened, Charles bent low over his mother, so that the
stream of relatives should not hear, and said in a quiet voice:

"Mother dear, congratulate me instead of Harrington. It is I who have
been married.  Harrington has just gone away on the train with his wife
and children.  Don’t feel sorry, little Mother.  You would not let us
tell you. Be careful, Mother; people are looking, watching you. Mother!"

But Madam Winthrop said not a word.  Instead, her pretty cameo face went
white as death, and she slipped quietly down at the feet of her husband
and son in a blessed unconsciousness.  For the sake of herself and all
concerned, it was the best thing she could have done.  What might have
happened had she kept her senses, it is not pleasant to contemplate, for
she was a person of strong will and a fiery temper, although cultured
and beloved beyond most women of her day.

They said that the room was close, and she had fainted. They made way
for her and brought fans and ice water, but her husband and her son
quietly carried her from the room, and when Betty suddenly realized that
something was going on, and turned around, they told her that her mother
had fainted.  Someone—an angular old maid, with a sarcastic twirl to her
mouth and an unpleasant way of always saying the wrong thing at the
right time—told Dawn she hoped it wasn’t a bad omen that her husband had
had to leave her side just when the ceremony was over. This was the
first intimation that the young bride had had that her husband was gone.
She cast a sidewise glance and discovered that there were ladies all
around her.  She raised her eyes again, just a little higher, and swept
a wider circle, and finally cast a guarded glance about the entire room,
but could not see the dreaded face.  Then she drew a sigh of relief at
this small respite.  She heard some one say that he had gone to help his
father take his mother upstairs.  Dawn had a wild impulse to fly away
where he could not find her when he returned, but knew she could not.

She would gladly have gone upstairs to wait on the sick mother, if only
he were not there also.

People kept coming around to congratulate her, and saying how sad it was
that Madam Winthrop’s strength had given way at just that moment.  Betty
stayed close by, and Dawn dared to look at the other girl’s sweet
dimpled face, all pink and white, with heavenly blue eyes and golden
hair.  They reminded the bride of him whom she had seen in the garden
that morning.  It was a pleasant thought, and Dawn continued to watch
Betty, when she was sure her step-mother was not looking at her.

By and by Mrs. Van Rensselaer passed behind her and whispered: "They are
coming downstairs now.  Mrs. Winthrop is better.  We will go out to the
dining-room, and you must cut the wedding cake, you know.  You are doing
very well, only remember what I said: not to look around too much.  A
shy bride is the very best kind of bride."

A cold trembling came over the young wife.  He was coming back, and a
chill seemed to have crept into the sunny day.  She hastily dropped her
eyes, with the strange determination not to look upon her husband until
absolutely compelled to do so.  There seemed somehow a fascination to
her in keeping this up as long as possible.

When Charles came down and hastened to her side, she was talking
earnestly with his Aunt Martha, who was telling a pretty little incident
of Charles’s babyhood. Dawn had not the faintest conception of who
Charles was, but she nodded and smiled, and Aunt Martha thought her a
sweet child, and took her immediately into her gentle heart.  She was
somewhat aghast at the manner in which events had marched into the
family history that day, but she thought it not polite to mention it to
Dawn.

A distant relative of Mr. Van Rensselaer came up just then and murmured
in a disagreeable whisper:

"Your husband is a sight younger than I expected, Jemima!  I had been
led to expect he was quite a settled man, a good ten or fifteen years
older’n you, but he’s real handsome.  You mustn’t get proud, child."

Dawn started back as if she had been stung, and became aware at once of
a black-coated figure standing close by her side.

She was grateful to the people who kept talking to her and to him, so
that there would be no chance of his speaking to her, or of her having
to answer him now.  She felt it would be more than she could do, and
look at him now she would not, not till she absolutely must.  It would
unnerve her to look him in the face and know that she was his wife, and
that he had a right over her from henceforth. Then, all at once, she
heard his voice, and it was not Harrington’s at all.  A quick glance
assured her it was her friend of the roses.  Perhaps, then, Harrington
was still upstairs with his mother.  She drew a breath of relief.

A few mouthfuls of the wedding breakfast she managed to swallow, and she
pushed a knife through the great white-coated fruit-cake, black with
spice and all things good, which had been made when Mrs. Van Rensselaer
first heard of the possibility of this marriage, and kept in ripening
ever since.  Dawn’s step-mother was a fine housekeeper, and knew how to
be ready for emergencies.

It was over at last, and Mrs. Van Rensselaer came to say that it was
time for her to go upstairs and change her frock for the journey.  Dawn
had never before followed her step-mother with so much willingness as
now.  Her feet fairly kissed the oaken stairs as she mounted; but she
had gone up only three steps when some one came quickly up and, standing
by the stairs, touched her on the shoulder, saying in a voice that sent
a thrill of joy through her:

"We’re to go in the train; did you know it?"

Forgetting her vows and her step-mother’s warnings, she looked down and
saw that it was the young man of the garden again.  Her face lit with a
beautiful smile, and some people down in the hall, who were watching
them, said one to another: "See how much they love each other, the dear
children!" and turned away with a regretful smile and a sigh toward
their own lost youth.

"Oh!" breathed Dawn.  "I did not know it, but"—she paused—"I’m so glad
you are going, too!"

In saying this, she had no thought of disloyalty to the man she thought
she had married.  It was merely the involuntary expression of her
frightened heart that suddenly saw a rift in the dark cloud.

"Oh, so am I," he smiled.  "And I’m glad you wore my roses next your
heart.  Put them on again when you come down, won’t you?"

"I will," she promised, and let her eyes dwell on him for an instant;
then fled up the stairs as her step-mother called in a voice intended to
be a whisper:

"Jemima, do, for pity’s sake, hurry!  You will be late for the train,
and then there’ll be a great to-do."

Mrs. Van Rensselaer was in hot water lest the girl should learn the true
state of affairs before she got away from the house.  It had given the
step-mother no small fright to see Charles talking with the girl over
the railing. She looked at Dawn keenly, but there actually was some look
of interest in the girl’s eyes.  Mrs. Van Rensselaer drew a sigh of
relief as she hurried about to help the young wife with dressing.



                              CHAPTER XIII


There were no pleasant memories about the room Dawn occupied for her to
look about upon for the last time, and bid good-by.  Long ago Mrs. Van
Rensselaer had cleared away every trace of her predecessor, by
remodelling all the rooms, and taking for her own the large, sunny one
which had been occupied by the child.  If there had been memories left
after the overhauling, they would have been made hateful by the new
occupant.  Dawn had been away from home so long that during this brief
stay she had been given a guest-room, and now she turned from it without
a glance, if anything, to get away from the place that had witnessed her
deepest grief.

She would have liked to run down into the old garden and get one more
glimpse of her woods, the ravine, the old mill, and the moss-covered
dam, with the babbling brook in the distance, but that of course would
be thought unpardonable; so she walked quietly downstairs, turning over
in her mind the comfort it was that during the journey she was not to be
entirely alone with the man she had married.  She did not know where she
was going.  She had not cared to inquire which of several houses he had
told her about had finally been purchased.  She was going with him as
any thoughtless child might have gone.

If only the step-mother had let what conscience she had guide her, and
had told the girl the truth, many things might have been different.  If
allowed to hear the earnest profession of love from Charles Winthrop’s
lips, Dawn would undoubtedly have gone to him gladly, out of the shadow
of horror that seemed about to engulf her.  A sweet memory of her
wedding morning would have been saved to her, and she would have been
spared much pain. The step-mother might have kept her contented
conscience, too, to the end of her days, and not been tormented with the
thought that she had veered from the righteous path.

But Dawn did not know, and went down the stairs with a heavy heart,
looking for only a brief alleviation of her trouble.  She determined
that she would not look at her husband, if possible, until this stranger
was gone.

The little bustle of departure was over at last.  They put her into the
carriage, and still Harrington Winthrop had not appeared.  She began to
feel her heart beating wildly at the thought that he would soon be
coming to sit beside her.  Some one standing on the piazza asked where
Mr. Winthrop had gone, and some one else said that his mother had sent
for him, that she was conscious again and had wished to see him before
he left.  Dawn thought they were speaking of Harrington.  She wished his
mother would keep him a long time, and then it occurred to her that the
train would go, and the young man with it probably, and she would be
left, after all, to take the journey alone with her husband.  Of course
it would have to be alone with him sooner or later, for the rest of her
life, but oh, how she dreaded it!

Then, to her inexpressible relief, Charles came rushing down the stairs,
and some one called out a question about his father:

"Is not Mr. Winthrop going to be able to get away just to the station?"

Dawn again thought they were speaking of Harrington.

"Yes," said Charles; "he will be down in a moment. He told me to drive
on, and he would come in our carriage, which is here, you know."

With that, he jumped into the seat beside Dawn, the servant fastened the
carriage door, and the horses started on their way down the curving
carriage drive and out through the great gate, with its two white balls
on the tops of the white pillars.

Dawn could scarcely believe it true that she was going to the station
without Harrington.  His mother must be very ill indeed, poor lady!  Was
it wrong to be glad, she wondered, because it gave her another reprieve,
brief though it might be?

She had tucked the spray of roses into the bosom of her travelling
frock—a dark green silk, plaided with bars of black, and a little black
silk mantilla, which made her feel quite grown-up, and which, Mrs. Van
Rensselaer had been assured by the New York merchants, was the very
latest thing for brides.  A great, wide poke-bonnet of white chip,
trimmed with dark green ribbons and a modest plume to match, framed her
sweet face, and helped to hide its shyness as she sat tremblingly happy
at her escape.  Her hands, in pretty gray kid gloves, lay meekly folded
in her lap.  Nothing about her demure manner told of the tumult of
emotions in her heart.

Beside her sat a friend—she knew that by the light in his eyes.  Before
her was a brief ride to the inn where the train stopped.  It would last
but a few minutes, and during that time she would like to say something,
to have him say something, anything, just to feel the pleasant
comradeship which she had seen in his eyes, that she might remember him
always, her one friend.  But her tongue was tied, and her eyes could not
raise themselves to look upon his face any more than if he had been the
dreaded husband.

Charles was kept busy for a minute or two, bowing to the guests who had
lined themselves up along the driveway to see the couple depart.  Dawn
glanced shyly at them from her lowered lids, and smiled now and then as
she recognized a relative or the kindly face of an old servant.  Then
the carriage passed out into the street, while her companion sat back
very close to her, as if she needed him, and, reaching over, took one of
her little cold hands in his strong, warm one.  It brought comfort and a
thrill of joy.  Dawn did not stop to question if he had a right, or if
she were doing wrong to allow such familiarity in a stranger, with her,
a married woman, and belonging to another man.  Such questions had not
been brought up for her consideration, though she had a few fixed little
principles of her own, sweet and fine and natural.  But now she thought
only on her great need, and how this strong hand met it.  She longed to
turn and fling her tired head upon his big, high shoulder and weep out
her sorrow.

She did not do so, of course, but sat quietly with her hand enfolded in
his for a moment, and dared to lift her sweet eyes to his.  Then,
without any warning, the tears, which had been repressed so long she had
forgotten any danger from them, sprang into her eyes.

He thought her heart was tender with memories of the home she was
leaving, and perhaps, he thought jealously, she was sighing for her
false fiancé; but with a lover’s true impulse, and in spite of the
village street through which they were passing—although it happily
chanced that this was a quiet part—he bent and kissed her.

An old lady out among her flowers in the front yard saw them, and nodded
to herself: "Bless their dear hearts!  May they always be so happy!" and
brushed away a tear as she thought of a grave upon a hillside, and a day
far agone when her own hopes were put beneath the ground.

It was a very short drive.  Almost immediately after they had passed the
old lady’s house, they turned a corner which brought them into the
liveliest part of the town, where people were stretching their necks to
watch them, and all was stir and bustle.  Only a few rods away stood the
inn, with the railroad tracks gleaming in the distance. People were
already gathering to watch for the incoming train; and some few to go a
journey, though there were not so many travellers in those days.

With his kiss upon her lips and a tumult of strange joy in her heart,
Dawn was handed from the carriage to the platform.  Then her heart stood
still with fear again, as she remembered who was to come in the other
carriage, soon after them.

A part of the company had started on foot for the station, among them
Betty Winthrop, and they now came trooping up around the bride and
groom, with laughing talk of slippers and rice which they had reserved
for the novelty of throwing at a train instead of a carriage.

Dawn was surrounded and taken possession of.  She had no further
opportunity to wonder, or to think, or to fear.  But over her there
hovered a sense of calamity, for with that kiss had come a consciousness
that she was not being loyal to her own ideals of what a wife should be,
and it troubled her more than had all her fears.  Nevertheless, it had
been sweet, and she kept trying to cast it aside with the thought that
it was over forever now and she would have no further cause to err in
this way again. Perhaps the kiss was sent to comfort her on the dreary
way she had yet to go.

The other carriage drove up at last.  It had been a long time coming,
for Madam Winthrop had returned to consciousness only to fall from one
fit of weeping into another, and then to blame the unfortunate girl,
whom she called "that little scheming hussy," declaring that "she wasn’t
satisfied with leading astray a man of integrity like Harrington, but
when she found it was impossible to make him swerve from his duty she
had worked upon Charles’s tender heart and made him marry her out of
pity."

She was scarcely to blame, poor lady, for her nerves had been on a
continual strain for many hours, and when one took into account her
extraordinary love for the son who had left her when but a boy, and
whose faults she had entirely overlooked, it was not strange.  But it
was hard on her son Charles, and on her devoted husband, whose love for
her was deep, yet whose desire to make everybody else happy and
comfortable was also great.  It had been a trial to him, indeed, that
she should behave in this unseemly way in the house of his friend.  He
had found it useless to talk with her or to try to pacify her, so at
last he left her with his sister until she should grow calm, and
hastened in the carriage to see the bridal couple off. It had been
arranged that Charles should bring his young wife home for the present
until further arrangements for their new life could be made.

Dawn’s heart bounded with excitement when she saw that no one was
sitting in the carriage but the elder Mr. Winthrop.  She did not know
whether to be glad or sorry. If he did not come in time for the train,
perhaps her new friend would go on without them, and yet, after what had
happened, perhaps it was right that he should.  But her heart sank at
the thought, and involuntarily she lifted her eyes to drink in the
strong, handsome outlines of his face.

Charles Winthrop turned instantly and met the gaze of his wife with a
look of such deep love, reverence, and tender care that it sent the
color rushing to her cheeks, and the blood bounding through her heart.
It seemed almost as if she were again on the point of tears, so many
emotions had followed one another through her weary soul that morning;
but just then there came a distant rumble, and they said the train was
coming.  Everybody rushed at Dawn at once and kissed her.  Betty fairly
smothered her, saying: "Oh, you dear, dear, dear!  I shall have you
to-night at home!"

Then they hurried her to a seat in the railway carriage, and Charles sat
down beside her.  Nobody seemed to think it strange that he had done so,
and nobody said it was too bad her husband was detained.  They did not
even seem to be looking for him, and wondering why he was not there.
Dawn was bewildered and fairly held her breath, wondering if it could be
possible that she was to start off on her wedding journey without the
bridegroom.  Though, she had not been to many weddings, she knew enough
to feel that her situation was a strange one.  The only explanation she
could think of was that his mother had been so ill that he had to remain
with her for a time, and would come later and explain.  But even then it
made her heart sink to think that he should have cared so little for her
embarrassment that he had sent her no word.  It augured ill for the
future.  Nevertheless, she was conscious of a great relief that he had
not come, and a great comfort in the presence of this other man.

There was a good deal of fun and confusion when at last the train
started, with a showering of rice and old slippers, and a stretching of
necks from the other carriages to see what it was all about.  But they
were soon under way, and Dawn sat back with intense delight to enjoy the
new sensation of a railway ride, without the expected attendant
inconvenience of an unloved husband. It was perhaps not ideal, but she
could not help it, and when one’s heart has been breaking slowly for
weeks and rapidly for the last few hours, it is but nature to let it
throb on naturally for a few minutes if it will.  How could she help
being happy?  The sky was blue, blue; the bits of water they glimpsed
far away, the winding ribbon of the river in the distance, were blue
also.  The trees seemed fairly to spread themselves in the summer
sunshine, and the whole world looked washed anew for happiness, basking
in the sunlight of heaven.  The birds that flew away at sound of the
strange creature that went rumbling through the country, the sleepy cows
that grazed diligently upon the hillsides, the dull sheep that raised
unwondering eyes and bleating voice at the moving monster, all seemed
new creations to the girl.  She cried out with delight at everything,
and Charles entered into her joy.

It was not Charles’s first ride upon a train, therefore when she asked
some question about their wonderful mode of travel he fell to explaining
it all carefully to her, with a learned manner that fascinated her, and
before she knew it she was watching his face and his eyes, and her heart
was glowing with the thought of him.  Then he suddenly caught her hand
that lay in her lap, and, taking its forefinger between his own thumb
and finger, her hand enclosed in his, he made it point to a tiny white
house nestled upon a hillside far away, with a glimpse of water in the
distance and a shelter of feathery trees all about.

"There!  See there!" he cried.  "Do you see that house up there?  How
would you like it if you and I lived there?"

Instantly that little house seemed to Dawn a very heaven of peace, to
which she would gladly fly from the grander house that she thought
awaited her at the end of her journey.  She caught her breath and
pressed her free hand hard upon her frightened, happy heart, and cried,
"Oh!  Oh!" so wistfully that he stooped and kissed her once, and then
again, and whispered, "Darling!  My darling!"

They were alone in their carriage, you remember, and as the train was
not then going round a curve, but was sleepily jogging through a lovely
wooded place, no one in any of the other carriages could see.

Dawn felt the thrill of his touch go through her again, and then her
conscience roused, and she drew herself away, quite shyly, and not at
all as if she were angry.  Her cheeks were crimson under her drooping
lashes.

Her lover watched her adoringly.  He was shy himself, and felt that
maybe he had gone too far in a public place like a railway carriage; but
she had been so charming, and was she not his?

Then her trembling lips brought out a question which shot a pang of
jealous pain through his heart.

"Won’t you tell me—please—where is—m’—where is——"  She hesitated
painfully, wishing he would understand and finish the sentence for her;
but he only looked down anxiously, trying to understand what she wanted.

"Won’t you please tell me where—Mr. Winthrop is?"

He understood at once that she did not mean his father, but his
scoundrel brother.  His face shadowed with a frown.  Was she, then,
thinking only of him who had tried to cover her with shame and disgrace?
And would it always be so, that she would hark away from his love to
that which had gone before?  He sighed impatiently, but tried to answer
her gently, a strange pity in his voice:

"I thought they had told you.  It was strange they did not.  He took the
train at once.  He found it was necessary, you understand."

"Oh!"  There was immense relief in Dawn’s exclamation, and the color
came back to her cheeks, which had grown pale with apprehension when she
asked the question.

"Then he will not come on this train at all?" she asked, and a light
broke into her eyes.

"You poor child!" said he gently.  "Were you afraid of that?"  He laid
his hand over hers comfortingly.

"I have been so tired and so frightened," murmured Dawn; and now she had
to let the tears come rolling down her cheeks, though she tried hard
enough to keep them back.  But somehow she felt he would understand it
all, and she lay back and let him wipe them away with his large, cool
handkerchief that smelled of rose-leaves; and between the tears he laid
a kiss now and then that seemed like healing ointment to her sore heart,
so she no more tried to contend with her conscience as to what was right
for married women to do in such circumstances.  She only knew she had
found some one who acted toward her as she remembered her dear mother
doing.  The kisses seemed such as an angel’s might be, if an angel
stooped to kiss. So she ceased trying to understand, and just took the
comfort of it.  Perhaps it had been sent to her to help her in her time
of need.  Remember, she was very young, and had been facing a great
terror.

They presently trundled out of the woods into a little village, and the
comforting had to cease.  Dawn sat up with rosy cheeks and bright eyes,
the tears all gone, and looked about her with interest.  They talked in
low tones of the people they saw come and go on the platform, and
laughed at a couple of geese who were squawking and gabbling at the
train for coming so close to their nice mud-puddle by the track, putting
in a natural protest against the march of civilization.

But an old lady with many bandboxes and a carpet-bag was put into their
coach just before the train started on its way again, and there could be
no more quiet confidences. Dawn had thought she would presently ask a
few more questions about her husband, and why he had found it necessary
to take another train.  Most of all, she wanted to know when and where
she was to meet him.  But now there was no more opportunity to ask
questions.

At Albany, they waited for the stage-coach, and walked about exploring
the city, more absorbed in their own pleasant converse than in
sight-seeing, however.

"Do you know, they have never told me your name. I heard it first in the
ceremony this morning," said Charles, with a smile.  "It is strange,
isn’t it?  But we have had so little time, and before that I was away,
and they always wrote of you as ’Miss Van Rensselaer.’  I never asked
your name because I liked to think of you as I saw you first, all spring
blossoms, like some spirit of the air, and I thought a name might
destroy the vision."

The pink came softly into the girl’s cheek at his earnest words, and it
filled her heart with a glow of pleasure like to nothing she had ever
felt before.

"They wouldn’t have told you my real name if you had asked," said she,
showing her dimples in a smile answering to his.  "I was christened
Jemima, but my mother, my own dear mother, who died a good many years
ago, told me my name was Dawn, and she always called me that.  She
wouldn’t consent to my being named Jemima until she found out that the
meaning of it was ’Dawn of the Morning,’ and she always called me that.
I always made everybody at school call me so too.  They did not know the
other name at school.  I love the name because my mother loved it, and
said it meant something sweet and dear to her."

She looked up, and the eyes she met were full of sweet understanding.

"Dawn!  What a beautiful name!  How glad I am it is that!  It just fits
you as I saw you first.  You might have been personifying Dawn.  You
shall be the Dawn of my morning always."

They were in sight of the stage-coach now, and as they saw that the
driver was preparing to start, they had to hurry to it, so they had no
further opportunity to talk; but each had been given a vision into the
heart of the other.

Dawn was still ignorant of where she was going, and as she sat in the
coach and saw others climbing in to fill the seats, she suddenly
realized that there would be no more opportunity now for the questions
she should have asked while they were walking.  But she had hesitated to
spoil their pleasant walk, and had dismissed her fears and troubles,
entering into the spirit that Charles had seemed to manifest.

As he sat close beside her through the long miles, his arm rested
against hers, and now and again came a gentle pressure, as if he would
let her know he was there.  Then the remembrance of his lips upon hers
swelled over her in a mingling of remorse and joy, and her heart cried
out to itself, "Oh, I love him!  I love him!  What shall I do?  If I
only were not married, perhaps I might have him for a friend.  I never
had a real friend.  But now, I suppose, I can never see him any more."

By and by, when they stopped to change horses, Charles found seats for
them on the top of the coach with the driver.  It was lovely up there,
with a wide view of the beautiful country through which they were
riding, and no one to bother them; for the old coach driver was not of a
garrulous disposition, as most of those worthies were, and they had
their talk to themselves.  Still, he was there, and Dawn dared venture
no more confidential questions.

The day drew to a close, and they came to the last change of horses
before reaching the home of the Winthrops.



                              CHAPTER XIV


"We are almost home," said Charles joyously.  He felt that it was a very
happy moment.

"Oh, are we going to your home?" she asked, catching her breath and
wondering what that meant.

"Why, yes, didn’t you know?  I supposed Mrs. Van Rensselaer would tell
you all the plans.  She said you did not wish to come down to talk them
over beforehand."

"I know," said Dawn, a shadow creeping over the happy face.  "I could
not."  She looked at him with appealing eyes, as if she knew he would
understand.

"I understood," he answered her.  "You had been through too heavy a
strain, a shock——"  He paused.

She looked puzzled, and wondered how he knew that her marriage was a
shock to her.  Was it because his eyes understood her from the first?
Was it a kind of spirit understanding spirit?  Dawn was not a
philosopher, but something like this flashed through her thoughts.

"But she told me nothing.  Indeed, I did not ask. Perhaps it was my
fault," she added.

"Certainly not," said Charles vehemently.  "It was her business to tell
you the plans.  I expressly asked her to do so after we had them all
arranged.  I asked her to see if they had your approval.  I should not
have made any arrangements without it."

"Oh!"  Dawn had never had her approval of anything asked in her life.
She could scarcely understand why it should be done.  It was very nice,
but how and why did this delightful person seem to have had the
arranging of her plans?  It was all a mystery, but she could not ask
about it now before the coach driver. Perhaps the future would unravel
the mystery.

"Just how much did she tell you, any way?" asked Charles, lowering his
voice as much as possible, to make it confidential without actually
putting it beyond the hearing of the driver.

Dawn considered.

"Why, I don’t really think she told me anything," she said at last, half
apologetically, "except how to behave during the ceremony.  I think it
was my fault, I really do. She said I ought to go down and talk it over,
but I said I didn’t need to go, that I wanted to be by myself at the
last. I suppose she thought I didn’t care about the arrangements. I
never thought I had anything to do with them, any way.  I thought that
was all fixed, like everything else."

There was a sad little droop to the corners of her red lips, which gave
Charles’s heart an unhappy twinge.  The driver turned a suspicious eye
toward them, and they sat silent for a while, Charles thinking it over,
and being somehow depressed that she should feel so about their
marriage.  To her, of course, it must be somewhat of a forced thing, but
to him it had been all joy until now when he was suddenly brought face
to face with the situation as he thought he saw it.

Dawn was going over sadly all their bright beautiful day together, and
thinking, wondering, how near it was to the end, and whether she would
ever see this dear companion again.  She treasured every moment of his
company, even when they were silent together; every glance, every
syllable, yes, every kiss and gentle touch of his hand; even while she
dimly perceived (and chided herself) that this was not the right
attitude for a bride of a few hours to have toward a man who was not her
husband.  But to her it was like stolen sunshine to a lifetime prisoner.
She felt she must take it, as it would never pass her way again.  All
the same, her conscience was beginning to trouble her, for she was
naturally a right-minded girl, and, in spite of the fact that her ideals
of married life were not as some girls’, she had her own ideas of what
should be. She turned toward him suddenly:

"I want to tell you how much I thank you for this beautiful day," she
said, her heart in her eyes.  "It is the best day I ever had—I mean our
part of it.  I was afraid I might not have another chance to tell you."

The dusk was growing deeper now, and dim lights ahead showed that a town
was not far away.  Charles reached out his hand and took hers gently in
his own, hiding them both under his coat on the seat between them. The
driver was looking the other way, hunting for his big tin horn,
wherewith to announce his approach somewhere, and had not seen.

"Dear!  You dear!" Charles murmured softly in her ear.  "But there’ll be
plenty of chances to tell me everything soon now."

"Oh, will there?" she said joyfully.  "I was afraid there wouldn’t be."

"Did you think we were going to spend our days in a coach?" he laughed.

Dawn’s hand trembled in the big, comforting grasp, and longed to settle
down and take strength from it; but she knew she ought to put a stop to
this, and she sat shrinking and pondering how to draw away her hand
without offending her kind friend, who, in spite of his frank, true
eyes, seemed not to have a thought but that the course he was pursuing
was perfectly right and proper.  It all puzzled her, more and more as
she felt the approach of the moment when she must meet her unwelcome
bridegroom.

A long blast on the driver’s horn sent a startled shock through her
slender frame, and instantly Charles’s grasp on the little, timid hand
tightened, as if he would enfold her in his greater strength and soothe
her fears.  She was glad it was dark, for she was sure there were tears
in her eyes; yet she dared not lift her other hand to wipe them away,
lest he see her.

With a swirl and a lurch the coach turned in at an open gateway and
drove furiously up to a wide farm-house on a hill behind a circle of elm
trees.  The driver jumped down and began to unfasten a trunk from
behind.  Dawn could not see whether it was her own or not, but she took
heart from the fact that Charles sat still and steadily held her hand,
and that other people were climbing out of the coach below, and talking
to a man and woman who came out of the big hall door in a stream of
light to greet them.  This was not her new home yet, then.  There were
still a few moments more of grace before her doom should fall.  Now she
must know.  It was her only chance.  In a moment more the driver would
be back beside them, and perhaps the next stop would end their ride.

She leaned over close to Charles and whispered in his ear: "Tell me
quick before the driver comes back: will _he_ be there?"  The tears were
trembling on her lashes. She was glad she was not on the side of the
coach next to the house.

"Will who be there, dear?" murmured Charles, marvelling at the sweetness
of having her so close to him.

"Oh, don’t you know?" she said desperately, as if it hurt her to speak
the name.  "Why—my—Mr. Winthrop—Mr. Harrington Winthrop."

It was a pitiful attempt to put into the name the dignity that her
position as wife demanded.  She was scarcely more than a little girl,
and her situation was terrible to her.

Charles started and looked down at her.  Was she still wanting to see
the man who had sought to do her so terrible an injury, or was she
dreading to see him?  He looked at her and saw fear written in her eyes,
and his heart was touched.  However she might have felt toward
Harrington before, of course now she dreaded having to meet him after
what he had done.  But whatever had put into her head the idea that he
would be there?  How strange of Mrs. Van Rensselaer not to have told her
that Harrington had gone away on the train with his wife!

"No, he will not be there!" he said almost harshly, "I doubt if he is
ever there again."

There was something in his tone that Dawn could not understand, but she
must find out quickly what it all meant, though she was trembling now
from head to foot, and scarcely knew what question to ask next.  It was
all so strange and mixed up.

"Then, where—where will I have to meet him?" she asked, grasping his arm
with her free hand and watching his face as if her very life depended
upon the answer.

Charles looked down at her, his whole soul in his eyes.

"Never, dear, never.  I will guard you from that, at least."

"Oh, why!" cried Dawn, more than ever bewildered by his words.
"Why—but, how can you?  Hasn’t he the right?  Wasn’t I married to him
this morning?  Nobody can keep us apart now, can they?  The minister
said, ’Till death do you part!’"  A long, slow shudder passed over her
as she spoke, and though her words were low, lest some one hear, her
tone was like the cry of one who had given up for lost.

Forgetting the people who were clattering joyous welcomes below, Charles
put his arm close about her, as if he were shielding her from a present
terrible danger.  He looked into her face and spoke in low, firm tones:

"I don’t just seem to understand you, dear, but you mustn’t be so
frightened.  There isn’t anything in the world to be afraid of.  I will
try to make everything just as you want it——"

"But how can you?" Dawn’s breath came in short sobs.  She was almost at
the limit of her self-control. "Will he let you?  Will it be right?"

"Dear, listen!  I don’t know what you mean by some of the things you
have said.  I’m afraid all the trouble has upset you.  Perhaps you have
a fever——"

"No!  No!" said Dawn, almost impatiently, for she saw that the driver
had landed the trunk on the piazza and was preparing to come back to the
coach, and that some of the passengers were climbing in again.  There
would be but a moment more.

"It is I that do not understand," she added, and her voice was very
steady.  She felt as if she must make her meaning plain now.  "I was
married to him this morning, and now he is gone away somewhere, and you
say I need never see him again.  He went away just after the ceremony.
They said his mother fainted and he took her away. I have not seen him
since.  What does it all mean?  I do not understand.  It is like some
awful dream."

Charles’s heart sank in horror as he listened to her words.  Had she
lost her mind, or, more awful yet, had she in some mysterious way been
married to him without knowing it?  The latter seemed almost incredible,
yet if it were true, what sorrow might it not mean to them both! Poor
child!  He must be very gentle with her, whatever were the case.  And
meantime the driver’s foot was upon the wheel.

Charles leaned over as if to tuck the linen robe about her to protect
her from the dust, and whispered:

"You were not married to him at all.  Don’t you remember?"

"Do you mean I was not married, then?  But I heard the minister say the
words, ’I pronounce you husband and wife, and what God hath joined——’"
Dawn shuddered again.  "I heard it.  I didn’t look up, but I heard it.
You needn’t be afraid to tell me the truth.  I will not cry or
anything."

The driver plumped down on the seat with a loud laugh at some joke the
old farmer was getting off, and vowed he would be late if they kept him
any longer, that he must go around by Applebee’s and Deacon Forsythe’s
yet, and it was almost dark.  Then with another hearty laugh he
chirruped to his horses, and they strained and started, and with a lurch
and a swirl of the coach they were flying down the stony road to the
gate again, and there was no more opportunity to talk unheard.

Dawn braced herself to endure the awful uncertainty that her question
had put into tangible form, and Charles, as he took hold of the little,
trembling hand once more with a reassuring pressure, sought in his mind
for something to say which should calm her fears and at the same time
not enlighten the driver as to their subject of conversation.

"Don’t worry," he said in a tone that tried to be light and gay.  "I’ll
explain it all as soon as we get home. Meantime, do you want to be told
where we are?" and he launched into a voluble description of the people
who dwelt along the road.

Dawn understood, and kept silent except for a monosyllable now and then,
to keep up appearances before the driver, and presently the coach halted
again before the gate of another farm-house, where the gleaming candles
from the many-paned windows testified to the comfort of the inhabitants.
To their relief, the driver jumped down again to deliver a big package,
and they had another moment to talk.

"Wasn’t I married at all, then?  Tell me quick, please," she pleaded,
the minute the driver had left them.

"Yes, but not to Harrington," he said gravely.  He had not yet decided
how he ought to tell her or whether he had not better wait until they
were at home, lest it make her ill.  It seemed so strange for her to
talk in this way.  He paused an instant, and looked keenly into her
face, but the light from the coach lantern did not shine in the right
way for him to see her clearly, and it was dark now.  He did not see the
wave of relief that swept over her anxious face.

"Oh!" she gasped, as if a great burden had suddenly been lifted from her
and she could breathe the free air again.  "Oh!"  And for a minute she
could think of nothing else save that she was free from the man she had
come to dread almost more than death.  How it came about, or what else
might have happened, must stand in abeyance until she could take in this
great, soul-reviving truth.  She was not married to Harrington Winthrop!

Charles waited an instant, and then, seeing that the driver would soon
be back, and that Dawn was not going to ask a question to help him on,
he spoke again.

"Don’t you remember, Dawn"—his voice lingered over the name, the first
time he had used it, and it went through her heart with a wonderful
thrill—"don’t you remember that you and I were married this morning?"

"Oh, was it you?"

Dawn’s face shone up at him out of the darkness, but he dared not
interpret the look.  The driver suddenly jumped up on the seat and
started the horses on again, but Dawn clasped her hands close about his
arm and clung to him in the darkness, her whole soul surging with
gladness.

He held her arm close to him within his own, but his heart was beating
anxiously to know what effect this would have upon her, and whether she
remembered now.  At last she ventured the question—for how could the
driver attach any significance to such simple words:

"Are you sure?"

"Sure!" he answered gravely, and added as if he could not keep the words
back: "Are you glad or sorry?"

"Oh, glad, glad!" instantly came the words, and then they said no more,
but let the joy and the wonder of it sweep over them.  They were both
very young and very happy just then, and what are hows and whys to such
as they?

The lights of the village grew closer, and beamed past them, and in a
moment more, with a rattle and flourish, they drew up before the old
Winthrop house, a beautiful colonial structure, with lights in all the
windows and a festive air about it that made all the passengers in the
coach look out and wonder.  A shout of laughter, and, "Here they come!"
was heard from the house, and Betty, in white, with blue ribbons all in
a flutter, came flying down the path of light from the open door to
greet them.

"I’ll explain it all when we get by ourselves, dear," whispered Charles,
leaning over her again, as if to see if she was leaving any baggage
behind.  "Don’t worry.  Just be happy."

"Oh, I will!" laughed Dawn joyously.  "But how did it ever come to be
true?"  And then as she got down from the coach she was instantly
smothered in Betty’s open arms.



                               CHAPTER XV


"Do they all know and understand?" whispered Dawn to Charles, as they
turned to walk up to the house, Betty fluttering ahead carrying Dawn’s
hand-bag and silk cape.

"Yes, they all know and understand, dear.  It is all right," said
Charles reassuringly.

Old Mr. Winthrop stooped and kissed her as she came up the steps, and
said, "Welcome home, daughter!"  Cordelia and Madeleine, too, made her
warmly welcome.  Just behind them stood Aunt Martha, with arms spread
wide to receive her in a motherly embrace.

"Mother is lying down, resting now," explained Betty, "and sent word she
would see you after supper."

They bore Dawn off to the second story, where Betty took entire
possession of her and showed her the rooms they had hastily prepared;
for of course Harrington had not intended bringing his prospective bride
home, and Betty and her sisters had had much ado to put things in bridal
array after their own arrival home from the wedding.

"We’ll get some of these pictures and things out of your way to-morrow,
so you will have room for your own things, but we hadn’t much time
to-night, you know.  We got home only two hours ahead of you, if we did
come by a shorter cut.  Horses cannot travel as fast as railroad trains,
I guess," chattered Betty.  "Do you think you will be comfortable
to-night?  Or, I could take some more things out, if you want to unpack
your own," she added anxiously.

Dawn looked around on the exquisitely appointed rooms.  The great
bedroom, with high-canopied bed; curtains and valance of blue-flowered
chintz to match the window draperies; the wall-paper of dreamy
landscapes, with hazy blue skies, and rivers winding like blue ribbons
among sunny hills; the fine old mahogany furniture; the little glow of
fire in the open fireplace, with the great, stuffed, chintz-covered
chair drawn up before it—all seemed like heaven to her.

Through the open door one entered a hastily improvised private
sitting-room.  The girls had had the furniture taken from the connecting
bedroom, and in its place had put a desk, reading-table, chairs, and
bookcase of mahogany. Candles burned brightly everywhere in silver
candlesticks, with tall glass candle-shades over them.  Some books and
papers were scattered on the table, and a comfortable chair stood ready
for some one to occupy.  The rooms could not have been more home-like.
And all this was for her and—him! She caught her breath with the
happiness of it, and a pink tinge stole into her cheeks.

"Do you think you can be happy here?" Betty asked anxiously.

"Oh, happier than I ever was in my life!" cried Dawn. "Only, it seems
too beautiful to be true.  It seems as if I was dreaming;" and in a
pretty little way she had when she was surprised and pleased, she
clasped her hands over her heart.

"Oh, I’m so glad!" said Betty.  "And let me whisper a secret: I always
loved Charles more than Harrington. Charles is a dear!"

Dawn’s eyes shone with her deep joy.

"Oh, do you?" was all she could say, but she wished she dared tell Betty
that she was a dear also.

Then her little sister-in-law went away and left her to wash her hands
and smooth her hair for supper, and in a moment Charles came in.

Dawn stood in the middle of the room, looking about, her eyes shining,
the firelight glimmering over her dark hair and bringing out the green
lights in the silk frock she wore.  She looked so young and sweet and
dear as she stood there alone, taking in the picture of her new home,
that Charles paused to watch her, and then came softly up, and folded
his arms reverently about her, drawing her close.  It was a long,
beautiful moment of perfect bliss, the memory of which stayed with the
two through all that came afterward.  Then their lips met and sealed the
sacredness of their union.

But Betty’s voice broke in upon the joy:

"Charles, the supper is getting cold, and you know I told you to bring
her down at once.  Come quick!"

Reluctantly they prepared to go.

"One minute, Betty!" Charles called.  "I must wash my hands first!"

"Charles, you know you are just admiring your wife, and not hurrying a
bit," called back saucy Betty.  "Do make haste.  I want to admire her
myself."

"Before we go down, Dawn, I must say one word. Don’t let them know
anything about your not knowing. They think that you understood it all
and were willing. I can’t see how it happened.  Mrs. Van Rensselaer went
upstairs last night to tell you all about Harrington, and to take my
offer to you, and when she came down she said you wanted to think it
over."

The deep color came in Dawn’s cheeks, and the flash into her eyes.

"She did not speak to me last night after you came," she said.

"But in the morning, after I saw you in the garden—did she tell you
nothing then?"

"She only talked to me about the wedding, and told me I must not look up
during the ceremony, that it was not nice.  That seemed to be the only
thing she cared about."

"Didn’t she tell you at all about Harrington?"

"Not a word, except that I ought to go down and talk with him before the
ceremony?  Was he asking for me?"

The dark eyes took on their frightened look.

Charles frowned heavily behind the big damask towel with which he was
drying his face.

"Never mind, dear.  Harrington has behaved outrageously, but we will not
talk about it now.  I’m ashamed to call him my brother."

"Oh!  He is your brother, isn’t he?" said Dawn, suddenly perceiving the
fact.  "Of course!"

"Didn’t you know even that?  What could the woman have been thinking
about?  What object could your mother possibly have had in not telling
you everything?"

"Charles!"  Betty’s voice was insistent now.

"Yes, Betty.  Just ready," answered Charles impatiently.

"She is not my mother, you know, and she never liked me," said Dawn, in
a low voice, as if she were ashamed of it all.

"Never mind, dear; let’s forget it now, and be happy."

He stooped and drew her face against his for just an instant, and then
they went out to the impatient Betty.

Downstairs it was all gaiety and brightness.  Once Charles said with a
soft light in his eyes, "I’m sorry Mother couldn’t be down to-night.
How is she feeling now?" and Dawn looked at him in awe and love, and
thought how beautiful it was to have a mother that one longed to have
about.

"Your mother will be all right in the morning, I think," answered his
father, with just a tinge of sadness in his voice; and a quietness
settled over them all for a moment.  Dawn thought it was because they
loved her so much and were sorry she was sick.

"We didn’t ask any of the neighbors in to-night, because we thought you
would be so tired, and it would be better to wait till you were rested,
so we could have a real party and do things up nicely, not in such a
hurry.  They don’t even know yet that Charles is married, you know."

Betty’s voice gushed into the pause that had come in the conversation,
as if she wished to fill it quickly, no matter with what.

"Yes, that’s right," approved Charles.  "We don’t want a lot of folks
around.  We just want you folks for a while."

After supper Cordelia took Dawn up to their mother’s room.

Dawn’s heart beat high with hope.  She had caught but a glimpse of
Charles’s mother that morning, and did not remember clearly how she
looked.  The young bride’s heart went out to her with a double love,
because her own lost mother had been so dear.

Mrs. Winthrop was lying in a great bed with a rose-colored canopy.  The
bed-curtains were of white starched dimity, and the white linen all
about her made her look like some delicate flower in an elaborate vase.
The canopy threw sea-shell tints on the delicate complexion that had not
darkened in spite of years, and the rosy light from the open fire on the
other side of the room played over her beautiful white hair that was
carefully arranged in curls on her cheeks.  The bed-gown she wore was of
homespun linen, fine and elaborate in make; her small, patrician hands
were glowing with rare jewels.  The delicate face was that of a
beautiful woman; beautiful yet, in spite of the fact that she had grown
old; beautiful and proud, yet lovable. She looked like some rare bit of
Dresden china, perfect of its kind, and perfectly cared for.  Dawn
paused on the threshold shyly and admired her.  Then she came forward at
Cordelia’s introduction, but, instead of taking the delicate hand that
was held out coldly to greet her, she stooped over impulsively and
kissed her new mother.  She had never done such a thing to any one since
her own mother died, but she wanted to give her best to Charles’s
mother, she was so glad to-night.

"Sit down," the high-bred voice commanded politely. "Yes, there in the
chair where I can see you.  Cordelia, you need not remain."

Dawn sat down, and there was a pause until the door closed after
Cordelia.  Somehow, the young wife’s heart began to sink a little.  The
room looked so very large, the bed was so high and big, the beautiful
old lady so small and far away, and her smile was so like a picture.

Madam Winthrop turned her handsome eyes with an uncordial coolness upon
her new daughter-in-law, and looked her through.  She was a loving and
lovable woman at times, but she did not seem so now.

"I have sent for you"—she spoke the words with deliberation and
incisiveness—"to tell you that I forgive you."

Dawn gasped, and looked at her in amazement; but the lady paid no heed
to her, only further to fix her with her eyes, and went on:

"I did not think it would be possible at first, but I have conquered my
feelings, and am now willing to forgive you."

Dawn could do nothing but look at the woman in horror.  Her tongue
seemed tied.  At last she stammered out:

"For what?"

"That is an entirely unnecessary question," said the cool voice.  "You
surely know how much trouble you have made.  It is absurd to ignore it,
or try to gloss it over. It seems strange that one so young as you
should have had the power to make my poor, impulsive boy forget his
duty. You should have known—but, then, I have forgiven you, and I will
say no more about that.  You are very beautiful, I must admit, and
Harrington was always one who admired beauty, but I feel sure that of
himself he would never have gone as far as he did.  However, as I say,
we will not talk of that.  I have forgiven it, together, of course, with
your other offences.  And it is of the consequences of those that I feel
it my duty to speak to you."

Dawn sat watching her, fascinated as is a bird sometimes when it keeps
its eyes on a cat and is unable to move.  It seemed to her she would
scream if she only had the power, but the power of speech was gone for
the time being.

"You know, of course, that Charles is very young.  He isn’t really a
full-grown man yet.  He hasn’t finished his college course.  You ought
to understand that you must in no way interfere with his life, to spoil
it.  It ought to be enough for you that you have accepted his generous
offer, when he was sorry for your being jilted by his brother, and
kindly offered to take his place so as to save you from the
mortification of having no wedding.  I haven’t an idea that Charles
really expected you to think of it for a moment, but he is warm-hearted
and always ready to offer help in any distress.  It would have been far
more seemly in you to decline the offer, and in your people to insist
upon your doing so, if you did not know enough to do it yourself.  But
that is now too late to mend, so we will not speak of it, and, as I have
said, I have fully forgiven it.  What is unalterable is always best
forgiven, if possible.  What I wish to say is this:

"Having married my son under these most extraordinary circumstances, it
becomes you to be most modest and retiring, and hereafter to put aside
every personal consideration, in order that he may not be held back from
his natural ambitions.  I hope you get my meaning?"

A crimson flush had been stealing up into Dawn’s cheeks, and the steel
lights were coming into her eyes, but she was unable as yet to make any
reply.  The cool elder voice went on with the torture:

"I am willing, as I say, to forgive you, but I shall expect from you
docility and a willingness to be guided by me in everything.  As long as
you remain in my house, which will, of course, be at least as long as my
son remains in college, and as much longer as he deems wise afterward, I
thought it was best for you to understand everything thoroughly at the
start.  Having robbed one of my sons of his happiness, and robbed me of
the other one, it is becoming that you should walk circumspectly in
every way.  I have, of course, forgiven you.  But it is a terrible thing
which you have done——"

"Stop!"

Dawn sprang to her feet, her hands clasped, her face white with anger,
the lightning in her eyes.

"You are saying things that are not true!  You are blaming me for what I
have not done.  I will not hear another word of it.  I did not want to
marry your son Harrington.  He came after me while I was in school and
tormented me to marry him.  Afterward, he told my father and made him
think it was all fixed between us and Father wrote and gave his consent,
and they planned the wedding and everything without asking me a thing
about it.  I did not want to go home, because I was frightened.  I did
not want to be married.  I knew Father would be angry if I should break
it off after everything was arranged.  He is very proud, and has a
terrible temper. But I dreaded it so that I was almost crazy.

"I don’t know yet how it came about that Harrington didn’t come to the
wedding.  No one has told me, and I hadn’t thought to ask, I was so glad
to find I wasn’t married to him.  I didn’t know anything about being
married to your other son.  I thought I was being married just as it was
planned to—to Harrington.  I don’t know how that happened either.  I
haven’t had time to ask Charles yet.  I just found out a few minutes ago
that he and I had been married."

"That is a highly improbable story," began the astonished woman in the
bed.  "You will not gain anything by telling me tales like that.
Nothing but the strict truth is ever spoken in this family.  You will
only bring trouble upon yourself by telling what is not true.  Besides,
you certainly know that I would not believe a thing like that. In the
first place, why shouldn’t you want to marry Harrington?  He certainly
is as good as you are.  And the very idea that a girl in her senses
could be married without her own consent!  It would be impossible to be
married and not know it."

Dawn stood quite still for a full minute, surveying her antagonist.  The
beautiful color had flown into her cheeks again at mention of untruth,
but, as was her wont in moments of great provocation, she had herself
under perfect control.  The elder woman acknowledged to herself that the
girl was very beautiful, and lay there watching her victim with a degree
of satisfaction she would not have felt, could she have known what was
passing in the girl’s mind.

Dawn’s voice was clear and controlled when she spoke again.  All
excitement seemed to have gone out of it, but every word went straight
to the mark like sharp steel:

"You say I have robbed you of your son.  You may have him back again at
once.  I did not ask him to marry me, and I cannot stay in your house if
you doubt my word.  I shall never trouble either of you again."

She turned swiftly and silently and went out of the room, closing the
door noiselessly behind her.  The old lady lay still in blank
astonishment.  For any one to speak to her in that manner was
unprecedented.  To disappear and leave no opportunity for rebuke was
outrageous. She felt helpless and outgeneraled.  Not in years had her
superiority been so rudely set aside as during this whole affair.  For
the moment she was bewildered, and lay thinking it over, unable even to
make up her mind whether or not she should pull the bell rope and call
some of the family, to tell what had happened.  Truth to tell, she was
mortified that her well-laid plan had ended so ignominiously.

Dawn went swiftly across the hall to the door of her own room, which she
had left so joyously a short hour before.

The candles had burned low, but the firelight was flickering softly over
everything, and made the room look a very haven of comfort.  The poor
child searched it furtively now, to make sure that no one was there.
For just a moment she stood in the middle of the room, looking about,
her hands clasped tragically over her heart, her eyes full of unspoken
agonies.  The whole ugly import of the new mother’s words swept over her
and seemed as if it would overwhelm her.  Then she girded herself to
carry out the resolution she had formed, her proud nature stung to the
quick.

On the big white bed lay her bonnet and mantle.  It was the work of but
a moment to put them on, though her fingers trembled so that she could
scarcely tie the ribbons under her chin.

Charles had unfastened her trunk before he went down to supper, and set
it open for her.  There on the top, where she had slipped it in after
her step-mother had shut the trunk and gone downstairs, lay the sombre
gray frock she had worn at Friend Ruth’s school.  She had put it in with
sudden impulse, as being the only thing she had left of her girlhood.
Mrs. Van Rensselaer had seen to it that her step-daughter’s outfit was
perfect, as befitted the daughter of her father.  No Winthrop should
criticise her for lack of elaborate and costly outfit.  But the gray
dress which had been cast aside was the one Dawn had worn afternoons at
the school, and it reminded her of pleasant days among the girls, with
care-free thoughts—a little gray girlhood, which had nevertheless become
bright in comparison to the new life.  She snatched the gray frock, and
in it wrapped a few light articles she felt she might need, taking only
necessities, and of those but few.  These she rolled tightly in the
frock, pinned the bundle firmly, saw that it could be hidden under her
mantle, caught up her hand-bag which contained a purse with twenty-five
dollars which her father had put into her hands when she left home, and
was ready.

She had not stopped to think how she was going to get out of the house
without being seen.  A glance out of the front window showed a balcony
with a wrought-iron railing, which hung inside the white pillared front
piazza, but Charles and his father sat just below, talking in low,
pleasant voices.  She could not get out that way.  Equally impossible,
of course, would be the front door, even if she could get through the
hall without Betty’s seeing her.

With one long look down at Charles, she put out a protesting hand toward
him, as if bidding him farewell.  It wrung her heart to look at him.
She turned quickly away, paused an instant in the middle of the room,
and swept it with her eyes, then, with a little tragic wave of
renunciation, she went swiftly into the room beyond.  The open desk
caught her attention.  She stopped and, taking up a pen, wrote on a
sheet of paper:

                      Goodby.  I had to go.—DAWN.


She wrote hurriedly, feeling that she had but a brief respite for her
flight.  Then, casting down the pen, she went to one of the windows in
the room and looked out. There was another balcony here, and she stepped
out.  It was dark, but the candle-light from the dining-room showed a
terrace below.  It did not look to be a great distance.

For an ordinary runaway bride, this balcony would have been impossible
as a mode of egress; but Dawn and her schoolmates had practised all
sorts of gymnastics from the windows and roof of the old barn, and even
on the gables of the house itself.  She knew how to drop like a cat from
a considerable distance.  She could swing from the great high limb of
the old cherry tree that overlooked the Hudson, longer than any of the
other girls, and then drop gracefully in their midst, without ruffling
her composure in the least.

But to perform such a feat attired in her first long dress of rustling
silk, with a bonnet tied under her chin, and a bundle and hand-bag to
look after—to say nothing of doing it in an unknown and almost entirely
dark place—was another thing.

Dawn glanced back into the room, but could think of no other way.  It
wouldn’t be pleasant to fall and break her leg at the outset, but she
fancied she heard steps coming up the stairs, and to hesitate might
bring discovery.

She leaned quickly over the railing of the balcony and dropped her
bundle down to the terrace.  It fell with a hushed thud among the tall
grass, and did not sound as if the distance were great.

Twisting the cords of her hand-bag twice about her wrist, she swung her
feet over the railing and stood on the outer edge of the balcony,
holding the rail lightly, and shaking out her skirt so that it would not
impede her progress.  Then she cautiously crept down, holding to the
ironwork of the railing, and then to the floor of the balcony, and hung
for a moment to get her breath and be sure of herself before she let go.
Then, closing her eyes, she dropped to the terrace like a thistledown,
in spite of the voluminous skirts.

She paused an instant to pick up her bundle and make sure her hand-bag
was safe, then, gathering her skirt and holding it close with one hand,
that her feet might be freer, she sped down the terrace and away into
the unknown darkness.



                              CHAPTER XVI


It was Charles who had come up the stairs.  He had grown impatient of
the delay, and come in search of his wife.  He paused before his
mother’s door and listened to hear the pleasant voices of the two who
were most dear to him.  He had pictured them getting acquainted with
each other, and he meant to walk in and say that the time was up and he
must not be kept out any longer.  He listened, but he heard nothing.  He
waited a moment longer, but still the silence.  What could it mean?

He tapped gently at the door, and called, "Mother, may I come in?"  His
mother gave a cold assent.  She had not yet recovered from the shock she
had received.

"Why, where is Dawn?" he asked, pausing on the threshold and looking
about the room, as if expecting to find her in hiding, just to tease
him, perhaps.

"If you wish to come in, please have the goodness to close the door
after you, Charles," said his mother severely. "You are in danger of
forgetting everybody else in your sudden and extraordinary infatuation."

The joyous spirit of the young man came down to earth with a thud, and
he closed the door and stood looking at his mother blankly, as if to try
to fathom the look in her face.

"Your wife left me some minutes ago," his mother answered the question
which his eyes repeated.  She spoke haughtily, as if the offence had
been partly his.  "She did not seem to enjoy my company."

"Mother!" said Charles, aghast at his mother’s tone even more than at
her words.

"Oh, yes, ’_Mother_’!" she repeated, angered anew at the reproach in his
tone.  "I suppose it will be that from now on.  She left the room
declaring her intention of also leaving my house.  I suppose by this
time she has seen the impossibility of that, but you will find you have
married no angel, I can tell you.  Whatever possessed you, I cannot
understand.  Such a little spitfire!  You should have seen her great
eyes flash."

"Mother, what had you been saying to her?"  Charles tried to speak
gently.  He saw that here was something that needed careful handling.
He blamed himself inwardly that he had not had more forethought than to
prevent a meeting between the two while his mother was still wrought up
over his brother Harrington.

"What had _I_ been saying to _her_?  Indeed, Charles, you forget
yourself!  You would better ask what had _she_ been saying to _me_."  In
her indignation, Madam Winthrop rose on one elbow and faced her son.  "I
had been most kind and patient and forgiving.  I had made up my mind for
your sake to put everything by, and I sent for her to tell her so.  I
told her I would forgive her all she had done to spoil your brother’s
life and yours——"

"Mother!  You never told her that!"

Charles towered above the little woman in the bed, every inch of his
manhood roused in honest indignation.

"I certainly did," said the mother, her own anger rising anew.  "I
explained the whole matter to her, and told her I would forgive her
entirely.  And then just because I suggested some things she might do to
help you who are so young and inexperienced, and who had so generously
given up all your own ambitions just to save her from a few hours’
mortification, she got very angry.  She turned perfectly white, and her
eyes looked like two devils. You wouldn’t have known your pretty little
angel if you had seen her.  I will admit, of course, that she is pretty,
but ’handsome is that handsome does’ is a very true adage. You will find
it out yet.  She was most insulting—told me that I was lying, or words
to that effect—and then she got off the most extraordinary yarn about
not knowing she had married you.  I told her she must know I couldn’t
believe such a story as that, and, now that I think it over, I don’t see
how she can be quite right in her mind. Perhaps Harrington had suspected
as much and took this way of getting out of a most unfortunate union,
and you were so blind that you just jumped in head-foremost, without
ever waiting to make an inquiry——"

"Mother, stop!"  Charles’s face was white, and his voice was trembling
with suppressed horror.  "Remember you are talking about my wife!"

"Yes, your wife!" exclaimed his mother, beginning to cry.  "That’s the
way it goes.  A child forgets all his mother has ever done, the minute
he sees a pretty, silly face."

Then she sat up with sudden resolution.

"Well, _take_ your wife and go _out of my house_, then, if you and she
are going to combine against me, and dictate to me how I shall talk!"

Then with a moan she threw herself back upon her pillows and lost
consciousness again.

Charles stood looking down miserably at her for an instant, his mind in
such a whirl of emotions that he scarcely knew which was strongest.
Then, with a remembrance of Dawn, he turned, half-distracted, and pulled
the bell-cord that hung by the head of his mother’s bed.  These fainting
spells were frequent and not alarming, he knew. Stepping to the head of
the stairs, he called:

"Betty, tell Aunt Martha to come to Mother at once. She has fainted
again."

He waited only to hear Aunt Martha’s quick, excited step upon the stair,
and then he went to find Dawn.

Opening the door of the sitting-room, it startled him to feel the
emptiness that pervaded the place.  He had expected to find Dawn weeping
in the big chair, or perhaps huddled upon the bed.  That would have been
Betty’s way.  He had often acted as comforter to Betty during her
childish woes.  Even in his anger and trouble, he was thrilling at the
thought of how he would comfort Dawn, his own little girl.  He was the
only one in all the world now to whom she had a right to look for
comfort.

He strode through the rooms hurriedly, looking in every possible place
for her, and unwilling to accept the conclusion his mind had instantly
jumped to, that she was not there at all.

He even pushed aside the curtains and stepped out upon first the front
balcony and then the side one, thinking that she had taken refuge there
from intrusion by Betty or the other girls.  But there was no sign of
her recent step, and in the darkness the tall grass down below on the
terrace told no tales of a little crushed place where her bundle had
fallen and where her feet had rested lightly when she dropped.  Next
morning, before any one would think to look, the grass would be standing
tall as ever, and they would never know how she went.

Stepping back into the room again, Charles at once saw the writing on
the sheet of paper lying on the desk.  When he had read it, he caught it
hastily in his hand as if it could give him some clue to her
whereabouts, and started down the stairs and out of the front door to
find her.  He knew only one thing then, and that was that he must find
her and bring her back before any one else discovered her flight.  She
could not be far away yet.  Charles hurried out into the darkness.  The
family were attending to the mother, who had recovered consciousness.
He could hear her moaning, and a sudden bitterness came over his soul,
that her blindness and selfishness should make them all so much trouble.
He had never thought of her in any but a gentle, loving way before, and
it shocked his spirit to have to think differently now; but his
indignation at her treatment of his young and blameless wife was roused
beyond his present control.

He searched the grounds and garden carefully, going over every possible
hiding-place twice.  As he did so, he reflected that she could not have
known where to go to hide, and he felt sure he would find her in a
minute or two.  The minutes grew into thirty, and he had found no trace
of her.  He went down the street quite a distance in one direction, only
to be sure she would have chosen the other, and to hurry back.  An hour
passed with no trace of her, and then he began systematically to go over
the grounds again, calling her name softly; but a screech owl mocked
him, and the night wind only echoed back his voice emptily.

Once he drew near the house and under the balcony where Dawn had
escaped.  He heard his sister calling him, "Charles, Charles!  Mother
wants you!" and his heart grew bitter.  Then Betty’s head came out of
the window, and she called again:

"Charles, where are you and Dawn?  Mother has been moaning and crying
for half an hour.  She wants you, and nothing else will stop her but the
sight of you."

Then, out of the darkness, Charles answered his sister, and the tone of
his voice frightened her:

"Betty, I cannot come.  There is something more important than even
Mother just now.  I’m sorry for Mother, but I’m afraid it’s all her
fault.  She has been saying things to Dawn, and Dawn has gone!"

"Gone!"  Betty’s horrified voice seemed like a fresh recognition of the
awful truth that his young wife was beyond his easy reach, and a
dreadful foreboding entered his soul.

"Oh, Charles!" Betty gasped.  "But she can’t be gone.  Her things are
here, aren’t they?  Wait—I’ll look."

Betty disappeared, and in a moment more her white, scared face
reappeared on the balcony, and she was holding a candle high above her
head.

"No, they are not there.  I’ve even looked in the closet, thinking she
might have hung them up.  Her bonnet and mantle were on the bed before
supper, but they are gone from the room.  I found her gloves, though—one
on the bed, and one on the floor.  Here they are."  She tossed them to
him as if they were an important clue, and Charles caught at them as if
they were something most precious.

"What shall we do?" she asked.  "Hadn’t I better call Father?  We ought
to find her at once, poor little thing!  She’ll be frightened out in the
night all alone. How could Mother!  But then she was so upset with
Harrington, I don’t believe she understood things fully, do you?"

But Charles had no time to listen to Betty’s sympathetic chatter.  His
heart was wrung with the thought of the girl he loved out in the night
alone, afraid perhaps of the unknown perils about her.  He must hurry to
her aid.

"Yes, tell Father to come to the front door, quick! There’s no time to
lose.  And, Betty, don’t rouse the neighbors.  Let’s keep this quiet."

"Of course," said his little sister.  "How fortunate they don’t know yet
that it was you who was married."  Then Betty flew to call her father,
telling him excitedly all the way to the front door what had happened.

"Poor child!  Poor child!" said the father tenderly, as he listened to
the tale.  "And poor Mother, too; she just didn’t understand."

Charles made no response.  He did not feel like pitying his mother yet.

"What do you think I had better do, Father?" he asked.  "I’ve gone
everywhere about the place; and down the road a good way in each
direction."

"She will have started home, I suppose—it is a girl’s natural refuge,"
said the old man thoughtfully.  "There’s only one road if you don’t take
the train.  She wouldn’t likely go all that way around."

"But, Father, she doesn’t know the way.  It was all quite new to her."

"Oh, that’s easy.  She will ask, and of course anybody will direct her.
She’s probably asked somebody quite near the house here.  If you only
knew whom, you could easily trace her, but, as you say, it’s best not to
say anything about it, for it would get out to the neighbors.  We’ll
soon trace her.  There are only two ways by which she could reach the
main stage-road.  You go down to the stable and saddle the two sorrel
mares.  The blacks are tired with the long drive to-day, so you’d better
take the sorrels.  The men are all gone to bed by this time, so you’ll
have to do it yourself.  You take one horse and go the road by the
sawmill, and I’ll take the other and go around by Applebee’s farm, and
then if she should have taken it into her head to go back by the way you
came, I couldn’t miss her, for she couldn’t have gone further than that
by this time.  Had she any money with her?"

"I don’t know," answered Charles miserably.

"Cheer up, lad, we’ll find her inside of two hours, never fear.  Hurry
up, and I’ll be with you in half a minute."

Five minutes later, the two horses and their riders parted company at
the cross corners, and started on the search.



                              CHAPTER XVII


Dawn fled through the dark grass, straight from the house, not knowing
or thinking where she was going, only to get away.  In a moment she
reached a high hedge of dense growth, and, not daring more than to
glance toward the house, she crept swiftly along toward the street.  A
few rods from the sidewalk she found a small opening and slipped through
into another great yard.  Keeping close to the hedge, she soon reached
the front, and slid out at the gate like a wraith, wondering what she
would do if some one in the neighbor’s house should accost her. But no
one was near.  She could hear footsteps coming, and gay voices, so she
turned and hurried the other way, though it carried her past the house
she had just left.  It would not do, she thought, to meet any one just
yet.

It was this little circumstance that determined the direction of her
flight, and carried her away from the road her kindly pursuers expected
her to take.

She presently reached a lane and turned into it.  It happened to be a
private lane leading to a farm-house set far back from the street, and
as she approached the house the deep bay of hounds heralded her coming.
Her heart stood still with fright, for she had read much about the
horror of being pursued by bloodhounds.  In those days there was much
talk of the pursuit of escaped slaves, and the girl’s imagination
suddenly saw herself surrounded by a great pack of hounds sent to bring
her back.  She paused and crouched beside the fence.  Presently she
heard a man’s voice not far away, and saw a speck of light moving and
bobbing here and there near the dark outline of the house.  Then her
senses came back.  This was not a dog sent after her, but a man, who had
heard her, an intruder, near the house.  Perhaps he would come and
search her out.  She must get over that fence as fast as possible.

The silk skirts rustled horribly, and cold chills of apprehension crept
down Dawn’s back, as she found how much harder it was to climb a fence
encumbered by long skirts and a bundle, than when dressed as a care-free
school-girl.  That gave her an idea.  She ought to get off that silk
dress as soon as possible, for its noise would attract attention.

Another howl of the dog startled her just as she cleared the fence, so
she began to run.  Fortunately, the house was between her and the town,
and she had not to turn back upon her way.  She discovered by the humps
and hillocks that she was in a meadow, and she struck out as far away
from the house as possible, though the way was rough, and several times
she fell.  But the dog’s howling was more distant now, and she concluded
he had been chained.  Ahead of her, she could see a dark line of trees,
and she hurried toward them.  At least, she could pause there a minute
and arrange her clothing.

She crept within the edge of the woods, and dared not look around, so
easily her imagination could people it with evil spirits.  She was
naturally of a courageous nature, and at school had always been ready to
dare anything just for fun, but it was a different matter to be running
away into the great night world of a place you had never seen.

With trembling fingers, she unfastened her bundle, being careful to
stick the pins on the corner of her handkerchief in her hand-bag, where
she could find them in the dark.  It was a work of time and care to
extricate the little gray frock from the bundle and be sure to lose
nothing in the darkness.  She unrolled it cautiously, gathering the
other things within the largest garment she had brought, and then
slipped the dress out from underneath, first taking the precaution to
pin the smaller bundle together.  Then she took off her mantle, slipped
out of her silk frock and into the gray one, all the time nervously
staring into the darkness of the fields through which she had just come.
What if some one should catch her now?

The blood pounded through her heart, and poured up into her face, as
though it were on a mad race to strangle her.  Her hair was wet with
perspiration and clinging to her forehead, yet she felt a chill.  It
seemed as if her fingers were growing wooden and clumsy as she turned
the silk frock inside out and folded it carefully, pinning it over the
other bundle, so that it would show only a gray cotton lining.  The silk
mantle she put on again, and, feeling carefully about to see that she
had left nothing behind, she turned to face the blackness of the woods.

It was only a maple sugar grove on the edge of a prosperous farm, but it
looked inky black, and might have been filled with all sorts of wild
animals, for aught she knew.  Yet she pressed on.  She felt as if the
woods were a friend, at least.  She had been used to walking among the
trees and telling her troubles there to the birds and breezes, and now
it seemed a natural refuge, in spite of its blackness. If only it were
the old woods she knew at the school, she would not be afraid at all.
But fear henceforth must have no part in her life.  She had herself to
look out for, and she would never, never go again where any one could
talk to her as that dreadful woman had talked.  She shuddered as she
remembered the cold, cultured voice, and the scorn that had pierced her
soul with a shame that she knew was unjust.  Her rising anger helped her
to go on and put down any timidity that she might have felt, and
presently, through feeling from tree to tree, she came out to the other
side of the maple grove.  Far away to the east she could see a pale moon
rising.  She started toward it, keeping close to the maple grove, as if
it were a friend. The way led over two or three more meadows, and now in
her little gray frock she found it much easier to climb the fences.

At last she came to a straight, white road in the country, with the
slender moon hanging low over it.  With relief, she climbed the
intervening fence and took her way along the beaten path.  Her light
prunella slippers had found it hard travelling in the meadows.

The day had been a long one, and filled with excitement, beginning with
fear and trouble, and preceded by a sleepless night.  Dawn was very
weary now that she felt herself safe from the terror that possessed her,
yet she must walk all night, for it would not be safe to lie down, she
knew.  She had heard of wild beasts lurking on the edges of towns, and a
wolf or a bear would not be a pleasant companion.

On she went through the sweet summer night, slackening not her pace,
even though there was now no longer need for haste.  It seemed to her
tired spirit that she must go on and on thus, throughout ages, always
alone and misunderstood and pursued.  The thought of her husband and
their beautiful day together seemed like some tantalizing dream, that
hovered on her memory and sickened her with its impossibility.  Such joy
as his love offered her was too great for her ever to have hoped to
attain.  Yet in her secret soul she knew she was glad to have had it,
even if only to have it snatched from her.

As she thought over her own hasty action in leaving her husband’s home
forever, she could not feel she had done wrong.  Never, never could she
have lived with others taunting her that she had been married out of
pity—for that was what his mother’s words had meant.  Charles had not
married her for love, but for pity, because, for some unexplained
reason, Harrington had chosen to desert her at the last minute.  Her
exhausted spirit did not care to know the reason.  She could but be
thankful that he had. Anything, anything was better than to have been
married to him.

All at once a wild fear possessed her that perhaps by leaving the refuge
of his brother’s home she had again put herself in danger of Harrington.
Perhaps he would find her out, follow her, and compel her to come with
him.

As the night went on, all sorts of curious fancies took possession of
her excited brain, until she started at her own shadow, and thought some
one was following her when all was still in the empty road behind.

Once or twice she sat down by the roadside to rest, but the awful desire
for sleep which crept over her frightened her, and she staggered to her
feet again.

The road wound into a lonesome wood of tall forest trees, so high that
the moon’s faint glimmer served only to make the path look blacker.  But
now she was too dead with weariness to have any fear, and she walked on
and on into the blackness of the forest, with no care save to keep
going.  At last, under a group of pines that huddled together as if they
were of one family, she stumbled over a great root that obtruded among
the slippery pine needles and fell headlong.  She lay still for a
moment, dazed, and then the sense of relief and exhaustion became so
great that, without a thought of wild beasts, she drew her bundle up
under her head and continued to lie still on the soft, sweet bed of
needles.

The great pines bent their feathery heads over her, and the wind crept
into the branches and softly sang a lullaby over the lonely little
pilgrim.  Regardless of dangers that might be stalking about her, she
slept.

Quite early in the morning, before the first faint streaks of day had
penetrated the cool retreat where Dawn lay asleep, there came a soft
murmur of gentle music from the trees all about; and soon a sleepy
twitter brightened and grew into a chorus of melody, bird answering to
bird from tree to tree.  Up and down and around, in and out and over,
the threads of song spun themselves into a lovely golden web of harmony
that seemed to shut the vaulted forest in loftily from all the world,
and in the midst of it all Dawn awoke.

It was quite gradual, her return to consciousness, as if the atmosphere
of sweetness and melody pervaded her soul, and stirred it from its
slumber in spite of itself, bringing new life and a great peace.

At first she did not open her eyes, nor think where she was.  It was
enough that she smelled the pines and felt the soft lap of nature where
she lay.  It seemed still, very still and restful; cool and sweet and
dark.  That she knew with her eyes closed.  Up above, where the birds
sang, she seemed to feel a golden light coming, coming, and knew that it
would soon grow into morning.  But now she might just allow herself this
little time to lie still and listen and wait.  There came to her
consciousness a thrill of freedom that in her fright and hurry the night
before she had not realized.  For months now she had been half-planning
to run away from the things that were saddening her life, and now she
had done it.  She was free!  Free to order her small life for herself.

Down deep in her heart tugged the agony of a great loss, yet it was as
of the loss of something she had never really had—only dreamed of
briefly.  She would not let herself think of Charles now.  She wanted to
keep his memory as something sweet to take out and look at sometimes
when she was lonely, but that could not be until the first bitterness of
the shame of her union to him was past.  She wanted to forget the scene
in his mother’s room, her terrible helplessness before the onslaught of
the woman’s tongue; and just to rest and feel that she was free.

Freedom meant getting away from Harrington Winthrop and from her
step-mother, and from her father’s wrath, or his possible efforts to
shape her life.  What else it meant, she had yet to learn.  She supposed
there was some place in the world where she might work for what she
needed.  The thought of her livelihood did not trouble her.  Youth feels
equal to its own support always, if it has any spirit at all.  Dawn had
plenty of spirit, and felt sure she could earn her "board and keep."  At
present, she was concerned only in getting rested and getting away as
far as possible from all the evil things which seemed to have combined
to crush her.

The light came on, and the morning entered the forest. A saucy little
squirrel ran up the tree beneath which the girl lay, and, poised on a
high twig, looked down and chattered at her noisily.  Down fell a bit of
bark upon Dawn’s face, and, laughing involuntarily, she sat up and
looked about her.  The dim aisles of the forest were lit with golden
lights now, and the birds, their matins almost finished, were hurrying
about with breakfast preparations. A wood-thrush spilled his liquid
notes out now and then, like a silver spoon dropped into a glass.  A
robin called his mate, and a blackbird whistled forth a silken melody.
Dawn laughed aloud again at the squirrel, and tossed back the curls that
had come loose from the confining comb during her sleep.  It was good
just to be here and to be free.

The squirrel chattered back at her and ran up the tree. Dawn unpinned
her bundle and made her simple toilet. There was no brook near, where
she could wash her face, but perhaps she would come to one by and by.
She combed out her hair as well as she could with only a back-comb, and
did it up on her head, for she must have dignity now if she were going
out in the world to shift for herself. Then she looked over her small
possessions carefully, as a shipwrecked mariner might take account of
the wreckage he had saved.  She took a kind of fierce joy in the thought
that she had brought none of the elaborate garments which her
step-mother had prepared for her trousseau.  They were all the simple
school garments that had been put at the bottom of her trunk.

She rolled up the bundle again and pinned it closely, then tied her
bonnet on demurely, straightened her frock, and was ready for the day.

A soft little pathway of light beckoned her through the woods, and she
followed it, her bundle tucked under her cape, her hand-bag with its
cords safely twisted about her wrist.

The bar of light grew brighter and broader, and led her to another road.
Unwittingly, she had come a way that would take her far from the place
where she started more directly than any other she could have chosen.
The sight of the white road in the dewy morning light gave her new zest
for her journey.  Her sleep, short though it had been, had rested her
wonderfully, and she was eager to get on her way.

She climbed the fence and fairly flew down the road. It was very early,
and she would be far on her way before people were up and stirring.
There were mile-posts on this road, and guide-boards sometimes at
cross-roads.  That meant that a stage-route came that way.  She studied
the next guide-board carefully, and decided that she was on the direct
route to New York, and that the miles might mean from New York to
somewhere else.  Not Albany, of course, for she must be far to the west
of that.  Perhaps she would find out later, as she went on.  What if she
should go as far as New York?  How long would it take her?  She could
not go all at once, probably; but gradually she might work her way down.
Why not?  The world was before her.  She would watch the mile-posts and
see how long it took her to go a mile.

Thus dreaming, she flew along like a bird.

Here and there she passed a farm, and soon she began to see signs of
life about.  The men were coming from the barns with brimming pails of
milk.  As she passed one house somewhat nearer to the road than the
rest, she caught the fragrance of frying ham and the aroma of coffee.
It made her hungry.

A mile further she came to a small white house not far from the
roadside.  Outside the door a woman who wore a sunbonnet and a big apron
sat on a three-legged stool, milking a mild old cow.  As Dawn came near,
the woman gave the last scientific squeeze, and moved the pail from its
position under the cow, then, taking the stool in one hand and the pail
in the other, started for the house.  The face she showed beneath the
deep sunbonnet was a kindly one.

Following an impulse, Dawn turned in at the front gate, and the old
woman paused to see what she wanted:

"Could you let me have a glass of milk?"  Dawn’s voice was sweet, and
she held her purse in her hand.  "I would be glad to pay for it.  I
started early this morning, and am hungry.  I’m on my way to the next
village."

The woman’s face lit up at the sight of the girl’s smile.

"A glass of milk?" she said.  "’Course I can, but I don’t want no pay
for it.  Just you keep your pennies for a new ribbon to wear under that
pretty chin.  Set down under the tree there on the bench, an’ I’ll bring
a cup."

She put down her pail on a large flat stone, and hurried in, coming out
in a moment with a plate of steaming johnny-cake and a flowered cup of
delicate china.  The woman strained the milk into the cup and stood
watching her while she ate the delicious breakfast.

"Come fur?" asked the hostess, eying the sweet young tramp
appreciatively.

"From beyond Schoharie," she answered quickly, remembering the name on
the last cross-road signboard she had passed.

"H’m!  Right smart way fer a little slip of a thing like you to come
alone.  You must ’a’ started ’fore light."

"Soon after," laughed Dawn.  She felt as if she were playing a game.
Then, perceiving that the old lady was curious and would ask questions
that she did not care to answer, she launched into a description of the
morning sky and the early bird songs.  The old woman watched her as if
she were drinking in a picture that did her good.

"Bless me!" she said.  "That sounds like poetry verses.  How do you
think it up?"

Then she whisked into the house again and came out with a paper of
doughnuts.

"You might get hungry again ’fore you get to the village, and these
doughnuts was extra good this time. Just take ’em an’ eat ’em to pass
the time as you go.  If you feel hungry when you come along back, just
stop in. I’ll be glad to see your pretty face.  It does a body good.
Goin’ back before sundown?"

"No," said Dawn; "I may stay some time.  I’m not sure.  But I thank you
very much for your kind invitation, and I know I shall enjoy the
doughnuts.  I love doughnuts.  We used to have them in school once a
week in the winter, but only one apiece."

"So you’ve been to boardin’-school!"

The old woman would fain have detained her, but Dawn edged away toward
the gate, thanking her sweetly all the while, and saying she must
hasten, for the sun was getting high.  She hurried down the road at
last, pretending not to hear the old woman’s question about who were her
friends in Schoharie, and where she was going to visit in the village.

Her cheeks were bright with the excitement of the little episode, and
she trilled a gay song as she fled on her unknown way.  For the time
being, all sadness was put away, and she was gay and free as a lark.
Just a happy child.

A farmer’s boy on a hay-wagon crawling along to the village stopped his
whistling and stared at her; and the hired man on top of the load called
out to him some remark about her that made the color grow brighter in
her cheeks and her heart flutter wildly in her breast.  She could not
hear what words the man had spoken, but his tone had been contemptuous
and familiar.  She fairly flew by the team, and fled on down the road.

By noon the johnny-cake and milk were dreams of the past, and she was
exceedingly hungry, yet she had not come to a place where she cared to
ask for dinner.  Every farm-house she came to seemed to have plenty of
farmhands about, coming in to their dinner, and she dreaded their eyes
upon her.  So she sat down under a tree by the roadside and ate her fat,
sugary doughnuts, rested a few minutes, and plodded on.

The afternoon was more wearisome.  Her slippers hurt her feet, and she
had to stop often to rest.  About five o’clock she came to a
neat-looking inn by the roadside, where a decent woman sat knitting by
the door, and Dawn decided to sacrifice something from her small store
of money and stop overnight.

The woman eyed her curiously when she asked for a room and supper.  Not
many pilgrims so young or so beautiful passed her way unattended.  Dawn
explained that she was on her way to another town, to look for something
to do.

"I suppose you’re expecting to teach school," said the woman
disapprovingly.  "They all do nowadays, when they better be home,
helping their mothers make bread and pies."

"My mother is dead," said Dawn quietly, "and I must earn my own living
now."

The woman was silenced, and gave the young traveller a pleasant little
whitewashed room, where she slept soundly. But an idea had come to her.
A teacher!  Of course, she could be a teacher.  Had she not led her
classes, and always been successful in showing the girls at school how
to do their sums?  She would enjoy playing the part of Friend Ruth, and
putting a class through its paces.  It quite interested her to think how
she would do it.  But how would she get her school?  Should she go to
New York and try, or begin in a country one first?

This thought interested her all through the day, which was Saturday, and
kept away the undertone of consciousness of a deep loss.  But once,
toward evening, she passed a shiny new carryall in which rode a young
man and a girl, and a sharp pang shot through her heart as it brought
back vividly to her memory the beautiful day which she and Charles had
spent together.  And then her mind went back to the first time she had
seen him, that day when she was standing on the hilltop with, her small
audience before her, and had looked up and seen the shining of his eyes.
It came to her then that she had a certain right of possession in him,
as if that day had given her to him and him to her in a bond that could
never be broken, no matter how far they might be separated.  Quiet joy
settled down upon her with the thought that, whatever might come,
whether she ever saw him again or not, she was his wife, and nobody,
nobody could ever take the thought of it from her.

The sun was setting, and evening bells were ringing in the spire of a
little white church, as she came into a small village nestled at the
foot of a circle of hills.  It reminded her that the next day was the
Sabbath.

That day had no sweet association for her since her mother’s death, but,
though she had been only a little child, she could remember walking by
her mother’s side to church, with her little starched skirts swinging,
and her mitted hands folded demurely over her pocket handkerchief, while
the bells rang a cheery call to prayer.  There had been no bells on the
meeting-house to which the scholars of Friend Ruth’s school were taken
every First Day, and nothing about the service to remind her of the
church where she had sat by her mother’s side in the high-backed pew and
heard the hymns lined out, trying to follow the singing of the
congregation with her wee sweet voice; but now the bells harked back
over the years and brought an aching memory of her almost forgotten
little girlhood. A sudden longing to go to church as she used to do came
over her, and she decided to find a place in the village to stay over
Sunday and go to service in the little white-spired church.  Besides, it
was against the law in those days for any one to travel unnecessarily on
the Sabbath day.  Dawn never thought of doing so, any more than she
would have contemplated the possibility of stealing.

It chanced that she arrived at the village tavern about the same time as
the stage-coach from the opposite direction, and no one noticed that she
had not come on the stage, for there were a number of travellers who
stopped off here for the Sabbath.  Seeing them descending from the
coach, she went in haste to the landlady and begged that she might have
a tiny room to herself.  She was a little frightened at the thought of
paying a whole dollar out of her small hoard for the lodging and her
meals until after breakfast Monday morning, but she shut her eyes to the
thought of it and took the room.  It was only a tiny one over a shed
that was given her, but everything was clean and sweet, and the supper
smells came richly up through the open window to her hungry senses.  On
the whole, she was quite content when she lay down to rest in her own
little room that night and dreamed of church-bells, and weddings, and
sweet fields of clover and new-mown hay.



                             CHAPTER XVIII


The next morning the roosters crowing under her window awakened her, and
for the moment she thought she was back in school, with the barn-yard
not far away; but other and unfamiliar sounds and odors brought her back
to realities, and she remembered she was a lone traveller putting up at
an inn.

She lay still for some time, thinking over the strangeness of it all,
and the tragic happenings of the last few days.  The thought of Charles
brought tears to her eyes. The dearness and loss of him came over her as
it had not had time to do while she was hurrying on her way.  But this
morning, for the first time, she felt that she was far from every one
who knew her, and hidden securely so that she could never be found, and
that she might look her life in the face and know what it all meant.  It
was inevitable that in reviewing her life the first and largest part of
all should be Charles and her brief but sweet acquaintance with him.
That she was his wife thrilled her with unspeakable joy.  The fact that
she had deliberately renounced him took away to some extent the sting of
the manner in which she had been married.

As she thought it all over, she realized that the only real shame in the
whole affair was that she had been about to marry Harrington Winthrop
when her heart was full of fear and hatred for him.  She seemed to see
many things in a new light.  In fact, the child had become a woman in
the space of a few days, and she understood life better, though it was
still one vast perplexity.

One thing remained of all the past, and that was the memory of the love
of Charles.  Even the remembrance of her dear mother was dimmed by it.
It seemed to be the one eternal fact which stood out clearly, and in the
light of which she must hereafter live.  That he had been generous and
kind enough to marry her for the sake of relieving her from humiliation,
as his mother had intimated, only made Dawn love him the more.  But
because of the generosity of that act, she must never trouble him again.
She had renounced him.  It was the least she could do for him, under the
circumstances, in return for his great kindness.  But whatever happened,
she must be true to his memory, and be such that he would always be
proud of her if he should chance ever to hear of her, though she meant
to take care that he did not.

If she had been a little older and wiser, if she had understood the ways
of the world better, she would not have been so sure that she was taking
the most direct way to reward Charles for his kindness to her.  But she
did not understand, and so was sincere and earnest in her mistaken way
of being loyal to him.  One thing, however, made her glad.  She felt
that no matter how far apart they might be during the rest of their
lives, they had understood each other, and their souls had met in a
deep, sweet joy.  As she thought of the moment before supper at his
home, when he had held her in that close embrace, and laid his face upon
hers and kissed her, the sweetness and pain of it were too much for her,
and with a sharp cry she hid her face in her pillow and wept bitterly.

It never occurred to her, poor little pilgrim, that he might be grieving
just as deeply over her absence and the mystery of her whereabouts as
was she for him, or she would have flown to him in spite of all
mothers-in-law, and made him glad.

The tempest of her grief swept over her like a summer storm, and was
gone.  At her age she could not grieve long over what had been hers so
briefly that it had scarcely become tangible.  But as it had been the
dearest happening of her life, and the only bright thing in her
girlhood, it took the form of a mount of vision from which ever after
she was to draw her inspiration for the doing of the monotonous tasks of
life.

She arose and washed away the marks of the tears, and dressed herself
carefully in her green silk for church, arranging her hair demurely on
the top of her head, with the curls as little in evidence as possible.
She wished to look old and dignified, as befitted a person travelling by
herself, and looking for a chance to teach school.

The village was a pretty one, and as she walked down the street to the
church her heart went out to it.  As she sat in the tall pew where the
beadle placed her, she glanced shyly around at the people who came in,
and wished she might stop here and get something to do.  Yet her heart
shrank from any attempt to speak to them or beg their help.

A lady came in leading a little girl by the hand, a sweet-faced child
with a chubby face, and ringlets in clusters on either cheek, held there
by her fine white, dunstable straw bonnet, with its moss-rosebuds and
face-ruche of soft lace.  After they were seated, across the aisle, the
little girl leaned over her mother and stared at Dawn, then smiled
shyly, and the young wanderer felt that she had one friend in this
strange place.

A sudden loneliness gripped her heart, and she wished she were a little
girl again, sitting by her mother’s side. How many, many times she had
wished that the last few months!  The thought made her heart ache, it
was so old a hurt.  She felt the smart of tears that wanted to swim out
and blind her vision, but she straightened up and tried to look
dignified, remembering that she was a woman now—a married woman.  She
wondered, would it be wrong to pretend, as she used to do at school
sometimes? She wanted to pretend that Charles sat by her side, they two
going to their first church service together.  She decided there would
be no harm in that, and moved a little nearer the corner to make room
for her dear companion.  It gave her a happy sense of not being alone,
and she glanced up now and then as if he were there and she were
watching him proudly.  It was not hard to imagine him.  She was good at
such things.  It thrilled her to think how his arm would be close to
hers, his sleeve touching her hand, perhaps, as he held the hymn-book
for her to sing with him.  And to think that if only her marriage had
been like others, she would in all probability have been singing beside
him in his home church at this very minute!  The thought of it almost
brought the tears.

There were no hymn-books in the little village church, but the minister
lined the hymn out, and Dawn stood up to sing with the rest, her clear
voice lifting the tune till people near her turned to look at the sweet
face.  She tried to think that Charles was singing by her side, but when
they came to the stanza:

    When we asunder part, it gives us inward pain,
    But we shall still be joined in heart, and hope to meet again.

it was almost too much for her, and she had to wink hard to keep back
the tears, for it came over her that she could not hope to meet Charles
again, but must go on with the being asunder always.

The minister had gray hair and a kindly face.  He preached about
comfort, and Dawn felt as if it were meant for her.  As she listened, an
idea came to her.  She would go to the minister and ask him to help her
find a school. Ministers knew about such things.

She went to the afternoon service also, and after it was over two or
three women shook hands with her, looked curiously, admiringly at her
rich silk gown, and asked her if she were a stranger.

She smiled and nodded shyly.  Then the minister came and shook hands
with her, and brought his tired-looking wife to speak to her.  She
watched them go across the churchyard together, and up the steps of the
old parsonage. The minister seemed tired, too, but there was sympathy
between the two that seemed to rest them both when they looked at each
other and smiled.  It touched the girl-wife. Here were two who had
walked together, yet who seemed to be agreed, and to be happy in each
other’s company.  She felt instinctively, from the minister’s face, that
he would not have sent his wife away from his home, no matter what she
had done.  He would not have thought she had done anything wrong in the
first place.  It came to Dawn that perhaps it had been her father’s
quick temper and hasty judgment that had made all the trouble for her
mother.  She remembered lately an unutterably sad expression about his
eyes.  Perhaps he was feeling sorry about it, and ashamed.  It made the
girl have a tenderer feeling for the father she had never really loved.
She pitied him that he must live with her step-mother.  She had not as
yet connected Mrs. Van Rensselaer with her own present predicament.  Her
main sensations were dislike for her father’s second wife, and
thankfulness that she was out of her jurisdiction.  It remained for
deeper reflection to tell Dawn just how much her step-mother was to
blame for her having been married to one man, supposing all the time
that he was another.

The next morning quite early, Dawn attired herself in her little gray
frock and tied her bonnet neatly, then, leaving her bundle in her room,
ready to move in case her mission failed, she presented herself at the
parsonage and asked to see the minister.

She was shown into the study, where the good man sat in a big hair-cloth
chair by the open window, reading.

He received her kindly and gave her a chair.

"I’ve come to gee whether you can help me to find something to do," she
began shyly.  "My mother is dead, and I must earn my own living.  I have
relatives to whom I should be a burden, and I have come away so that
they will not be troubled with me."

She had thought out during the night watches just what to say.

The minister looked at her keenly and kindly through his spectacles.
Long experience had made him a good judge of character.  He saw nothing
but guileless innocence in the sweet young face.

"What is your name?" he asked, by way of preliminary.

Dawn’s face flushed slightly, but she had anticipated this question.

"I should like to be called Mary Montgomery," she said shyly.  "It is
not my real name, but my relatives might be mortified if they should
hear of my being at work.  They are very proud, and would not like to
have their name mixed up with one who works.  Besides, if they should
hear of my being here this way, they would think that they must come
after me and take care of me, and I don’t wish them to.  I want to be
independent."

She gave the minister a most engaging smile, which put a well rounded
period to her plea.

"How do I know that you have not run away?" he asked her, half smiling
himself.

"Oh, I have run away," answered Dawn frankly.  "I knew they would try to
keep me if I told them, but I left word I had gone, and they will not
worry.  They do not love me.  They wanted me to stay only because they
felt it a duty to care for me, and they will be greatly relieved to be
rid of me without any trouble.  That is why I came. You see, they told
me as much, and it was very uncomfortable.  You would not want to stay
where you knew you were in the way, would you?"

Dawn looked into the old minister’s eyes with her own wide, lovely ones,
and won his heart.  She reminded him of his little girl who had died.

"I suppose not," he said in a half amused tone.  "But don’t you think it
would be better for you to confide in me?  Just tell me your real name,
and where you come from, and all about it, and then I can help you
better.  I shall be able to recommend you, you know."

"Thank you, no," said Dawn decidedly, getting up as if that ended the
matter.  "If I told you that, and then you were asked if I were here,
you would have to say yes. Then, too, if you knew, you might think it
was your duty to let my friends know where I am.  Now you have no
responsibility about it at all, don’t you see?  But I don’t want to make
you any trouble.  If you don’t know of some work I might do here, I will
go elsewhere.  I can surely find something to do without telling my real
name.  I know I am doing right.  You were so kind when you spoke to me
yesterday, that I thought I would come and ask though I had intended
going on this morning."

"Wait," said the minister.  "Sit down.  What do you want to do?  What
kind of work are you fitted for?"

"I have been educated at a good school," said Dawn, sitting down and
putting on a quaint little business-like air which made the minister
smile.

"Did you ever teach school?"  There was much hesitation in the
minister’s voice.  He was not altogether sure he was doing right to
suggest the idea, she was such a child in looks.

"No, but I could," replied Dawn confidently.  "And, oh, I should like
it!  It is just what I want.  I love to show people how to do things,
and make them learn correctly. I used to help the girls at school."
There was great eagerness in her face.  The minister thought how lovely
she was, and again that fleeting likeness to his dead child gripped his
heart.

"You are very young," he mused, watching the changing expression on her
face, and thinking that his child would have been about this girl’s age.

"I am almost seventeen," said Dawn, drawing herself up gravely.

"Our village schoolmaster left very suddenly last week, to go to his
invalid mother’s bedside, and it may be some months before his return.
Indeed, it is possible that he will not come back at all.  He intimated
as much before he left.  We have not had opportunity as yet to find
another teacher, and the school has been dismissed for a few days until
we can look about for a substitute."

"Oh, will you let me try?"  Dawn sat on the edge of her chair, her hands
clasped, her lovely eyes pleading eagerly.

"But some of the scholars are larger than you are."

"That will not matter," responded Dawn, undaunted. "I could always make
the girls at school do what I wanted."

"There are some big boys who might make you a good deal of trouble,"
went on the minister.  "Our school has the name of being a hard one to
discipline.  We have always had a man at its head."

"I am not afraid," said Dawn, fire in her eyes.  "I should like to try,
if you will let me.  You cannot tell whether I can do it unless you let
me try."

"That is true," agreed the minister gravely.  "I suppose there would be
no harm in your trying.  I could talk with the trustees about it, though
the matter has been practically left to me."

"Oh, then, please, _please_, try me!  I am sure I can do it," Dawn
pleaded, and the look of his dead child’s eyes in her face conquered the
minister’s scruples.

"Very well, I will try you," he said, after a thoughtful pause.  "I will
see the trustees and have the notices put up at once.  School will open
to-morrow morning.  But I warn you it will be no easy task.  I feel that
it will be an extremely doubtful experiment."

"Oh, thank you!" cried Dawn, her eyes bright with anticipation.  "I am
not afraid, and I shall do my best. I am sure I can teach a school."

"Poor child!" thought the minister.  "Am I doing right to send her into
such a trial?"

Aloud, he only said:

"You will receive sixteen dollars a month, and will board around, Miss
Montgomery."

Dawn looked up at the new name she had chosen, and saw a twinkle in his
eye.  She smiled in recognition of his acceptance of it.

"Where are you stopping?" he asked.

"I am at the Golden Swan," she answered.  "I can stay there a little
while yet.  I have a little money, though it will not last many weeks."

She wrinkled her sweet face into dimples and smiled at him, as if having
no money were a matter of little consequence.

He admired her courage, and, bending upon her a look of benediction,
said kindly:

"We will arrange the matter of boarding as soon as possible.  I will see
Mrs. Gillette, the wife of the proprietor of the Golden Swan.  They have
a daughter in school, and possibly their two boys will attend also,
though sometimes at this time of year they are both out working on the
farm.  But the Gillettes always take the teacher for their share of the
term."

Dawn went smiling down the parsonage path.  It seemed to her the
larkspurs had grown bluer and the verbenas pinker since she came up a
few minutes before, and her feet fairly danced down the street, she was
so happy over her good fortune.  It was like a beautiful story, the way
it was turning out.  She had no apprehensions about her ability to
handle the village school, for she had had no experience of what bad
boys could be; so there was nothing to cloud her bright day, save now
and then a brief pang of longing for Charles.  For the most part, her
mind was too much filled with anticipation of the morrow to have room
for thoughts of the past.  She went to the Golden Swan, and told Mrs.
Gillette that she was to remain there for a few days at least, then she
found the village store and made a few simple purchases, among them
needles, thread, and a thimble.  Then she chose material for an apron,
and hurried home to make it. The school-teachers she had known had
always worn aprons. They were a badge of office.  But the apron she made
was not like Friend Ruth’s.  It was small and coquettish, and edged with
a tiny ruffle.

Dawn knew how to sew beautifully, for that had been one of the
accomplishments Friend Ruth required of all her pupils.  With a pair of
borrowed scissors, the young girl fashioned the garment, and cut the
tiny ruffles, rolling the hems as she had been taught to do, and
scratching the gathers scientifically.  By night she had a dainty little
apron ready to wear to school.  It was a frivolous bit of a thing, but
it filled her with delight, for it was such an apron as she had always
desired, but had not been allowed to have while in school.  Simplicity
held sway where Friend Ruth ruled.

At the supper table it was whispered around that a new school-teacher
had come to town.  There were notices up at the corners and all the
cross-roads.  School was to "take up" on the morrow.  Some of the people
at the table looked suspiciously at the pretty young stranger sitting
demurely by herself at the end of the table, and wondered if she were
the new teacher, but others said no, she was entirely too young.

After supper Dawn went to the big book wherein were registered the names
of the guests, and wrote down "Mary Montgomery" in a clear, round hand.
Mr. Gillette watched her carefully out of the corner of his eye.  As he
saw her about to turn away, he said gruffly:

"Put down the place.  We like to know where our folks belongs."

"Oh!" said Dawn, a pink flush stealing into her cheek. What should she
put?  Then, quick as a flash, she thought, "I have adopted a name—why
should I not adopt a home, too?  I am on my way to New York.  If I do
not remain here, I shall go there—if I can get there.  I will choose New
York for my home.  It is a large place, and no one will expect me to
know every one there.  Besides, it will also stand for New York State."

So, without another word, she wrote "New York" beside her name.  She
might as well have written "Heaven," for it stood to her as a kind of
final destination, far away and pleasant, the only place now that she
could look to for a real home.

"You ain’t the new schoolmarm, be you?" inquired the worthy proprietor
of the Golden Swan cautiously.

"Why, yes," said Dawn, happily conscious, and laughing merrily to think
of the word "schoolmarm" as applied to her who but yesterday was a
scholar.

"Now, you don’t say!" said the proprietor, settling back in his chair
and putting his feet on the office table in front of him, while he
shoved up his spectacles to get a better view of her.  "Some said as how
you was, but I couldn’t think it.  You look so young."

"Oh, I’m quite old," said Dawn anxiously.  "I’m far older than I look."
And she hurried away, lest she should be questioned further.

It was soon noised abroad that the new teacher was stopping at the
Golden Swan, and many a villager dropped in to have a look at her.  But
she was nowhere in evidence. Up in the little whitewashed chamber, with
her candle lighted and the shades drawn, she was standing before her
tiny looking-glass, arrayed in her new, beruffled apron, and trying to
look grave and dignified, and as much like Friend Ruth as possible.

If Charles could have seen her all absorbed, his heart would have been
sadly cast down to see how little she seemed to miss him.  But later,
when she had put out her candle and crept into her bed, she sobbed a
long time into her pillow with loneliness and excitement.



                              CHAPTER XIX


There was much curiosity in the village concerning the new teacher, who
was reported to have come from New York, and to be exceedingly young.
Some thought the minister had made a great mistake to hire a woman, for
the school was a hard one to manage, and even a master found it
difficult to control the big boys.  There was so much talk about it that
the scholars themselves were quite excited.  Even the big boys, who
usually preferred to get out of the summer session although it meant
hard work in the hayfields, decided to go to school and see for
themselves.

Quite early the scholars might have been seen wending their way toward
the old red school-house.  They huddled in groups about the steps or
under the great elm tree which grew in front and spread its branches far
on every side, making a lovely leafy bower for the playground.  Peggy
Gillette was among the first to arrive.  From her point of vantage at
the Golden Swan, she was in a position to give accurate information
concerning the new teacher, so she knew that she would be most popular
this morning. She had, therefore, packed her little dinner-pail hastily
and departed soon after breakfast, after making sure that Dawn had gone
up to her room to make ready for school.

"She’s awful pretty," Peggy told the first knot of eager listeners, "and
she’s got a lot of real curls on top what ain’t tied on.  I know, fer I
peeked through the crack of the door when she was fixin’ her hair last
night, and it was down and reached ever so far below her waist. An’
she’s got dimples when she laughs, and twinkles in her eyes like the
stars make, an’ she ain’t much bigger’n I am.  She looks just like a
little girl."

"H’m!  We’ll soon do her up!" remarked Daniel Butterworth, the tallest
and strongest boy in the school.

Daniel had a shock of yellow hair that was roughly curly, big blue eyes
with curly yellow lashes, and an irresponsible wide mouth, always on a
defiant grin.  Peggy looked up at him in terror.

"Now, Dan Butterworth," she began, "ef you boys go to playin’ pranks on
her, it’ll be just pusly mean. She’s jest a girl, an’ she’s so pretty
an’ don’t look like she was used to rough boys like you."

"We don’t want no sissy-baby to teach us," declared ’Liakim Morse, a
bold, black-eyed boy, who always followed Daniel’s lead in everything
and then went a step further. "We want a _man_ to teach us.  The
selectmen’ll soon find out they can’t put no baby teachers off on us,
fer we won’t stand it."

Peggy made a face at them and turned her back, but Daniel only grinned.
He had his plan, and he knew it would be carried out.  He did not need
to say much to his followers.  The program was well understood by them.

One of the selectmen, who lived near the school-house, came over with
the key, and stayed about the place, opening the windows and setting the
teacher’s desk in order.

The scholars were all seated demurely with books before them when the
minister came walking in with Dawn, shy and smiling, by his side.  Not
one of them seemed to be looking her over curiously, for it was done
from the side of their eyes; but a kind of groan went softly over the
back rows, where the bigger boys sat, as much as to say, "This job is
too easy.  It’s scarcely worth our attention.  Why didn’t you send us
some one worthy of our valor?"

Dawn looked them over, bright-eyed, her heart beating a trifle fast, but
her face on the whole quite confident and happy.  They noted the
confidence in the tilt of her chin, and it gave them intense pleasure to
think how soon they could dispel it.  They failed, however, to note, the
firmness of that chin, or the determination in the line of the softly
curving red lips.  They looked at their victim warily, and rejoiced in
her youth and beauty.  They had vanquished many before, but never one so
lovely, so child-like, or so confident.  It was an insult to their
manhood that the selectmen should have thought she could teach them.

The minister introduced Miss Montgomery to the selectman, who shook
hands with her, wished her well, and departed.  Then the good old man
made a few gentle remarks to the effect that they should reflect on the
goodness of the new teacher, to whom he referred as "our young friend,"
in coming to teach them and guide them into the devious ways of
knowledge, and that they should refrain from all annoying conduct during
her stay, and behave as model scholars should.

The minister had spent much thought upon this speech, and felt that he
had worded it in such a way as to appeal to the sympathy of all the
children.  In all his mild and reasonable life, he had never been able
to comprehend the sinful workings of the unregenerate heart of a boy.
He could conceive of no reason why a boy or a girl would be mischievous
in school, if the matter were presented rightly to their minds.  He felt
that he had put it before them as it should be made to appear, and,
looking into the demure faces, he hoped that he had accomplished his
end, and that the sweet young stranger would have opportunity to prove
that she was capable of teaching that school. Though exceedingly
doubtful of the experiment, he wanted her to have a fair chance.

After giving one long, lingering look toward the back row of scholars
whose studious appearance was almost portentous in its gravity, the old
clergyman sighed with relief and turned with a smile of farewell toward
the new teacher.

"Miss Montgomery, I will leave you with your school," he said.  "I’m
sure that they all appreciate how hard is the first day in a new school,
and that they will do their best to make it easy for you."

He bowed and went out.  His last glance had shown him a vision of
serious faces bent upon open books; yet he felt a strange and apparently
most uncalled for foreboding.

Dawn surveyed the whole quiet room with a smile, then she untied her
bonnet, took off her cape, and carried them to the hook in the corner,
obviously used for that purpose by other teachers.

How did the boys on the back seat time the minister exactly, so as to
know just the instant he reached the corner beyond the blacksmith’s and
was out of hearing?

Dawn had turned from a room full of model scholars, to hang up her
mantle and bonnet.  Turning back, she beheld pandemonium let loose.
Something struck her on the cheek, something else stung her forehead.
The whole room seemed white with hard little flying objects.  Some of
them were of paper, wet and soft, some were bits of chalk.  It was like
a summer snow-storm, and there seemed to be no end to it.

The bewildered young teacher surveyed the scene for an instant, surprise
growing into indignation at the outrage.  She was young enough to like
fun as well as any one, and for an instant she felt like laughing at the
sight, then she realized that it was intended as an insult, and as an
open rebellion against her authority.  It hurt her sharply that they
thus arrayed themselves against her at the outset, without giving her a
chance to show them what she was.  Well, if they would be enemies, she
would show them she could fight.  The crucial test of which she had been
warned was upon her.  She must make good now if she would hope to at
all.  This critical moment would tell whether she could ever teach that
school or any other. In her imagination she saw the regretful look in
the kindly minister’s eyes, and the line of his mouth which would say,
"I told you so," and she did not mean he should be disappointed.  Or,
rather, she meant that he should be happily disappointed.

In an instant she was on the alert again, her senses collected.  As ever
in a crisis, she was cool and able to move deliberately.

It took but a second for her to find out who was the leader of the
unruly scholars.  The tall form of Daniel Butterworth towered above the
rest in the back line, and the grin on his impudent face showed he was
enjoying the affair immensely.  Without an effort, he was evidently
directing the whole thing.

A great indignation came into Dawn’s eyes, and the soft lips set in
determination.  Like a flash she dashed across the room, dodging the
missiles that pelted through the air from every side.

Straight at Daniel Butterworth she came, the bully and the leader.  He
was the tallest and strongest boy in the school, and no teacher had ever
dared make a direct attack upon him.  Usually, the teachers punished the
smaller boys for the sins that were really Daniel’s.  Dawn, with her
quick perception, located the cause of the trouble, and impulsively went
straight to the mark with her discipline.

The scholars paused in their entertainment to see what would happen
next, and little Peggy Gillette began to cry: "Oh, Teacher, Teacher,
don’t ye! don’t ye!  He won’t stand it, he won’t."

But Peggy’s voice was drowned in the general hubbub, which subsided
suddenly into ominous silence as Dawn took hold of Daniel Butterworth’s
arm and jerked him into the seat.

Daniel, of course, did not expect the attack, or he would not have been
so easily thrown off his balance; but coming down on the seat so
unexpectedly bewildered him, and before he could understand what had
happened blows began to rain upon his head and face and ears.  Not that
they hurt him much, for Dawn had no ruler or switch or any of the
time-honored implements wherewith to exercise discipline.  She used her
hands, her small, soft, pink palms, that were daintily shaped and
delicately eared for, and had never seen any hard labor, but yet were
strong and supple.

As he sat still and allowed the new teacher to administer justice,
Daniel resembled a kitten backing off, with flattened ears and ruffled
fur, and submitting to a severe slapping for some misdemeanor.

Nothing so soft and wonderful as Dawn’s hands had ever touched the boy’s
face before.  He sat and took the experience in a dazed delight,
subsiding and shrinking at every blow which yet gave him a delicious
sense of pleasure as if it were some kind of attention she was offering
him. Probably in no other way could she have ever won this boy’s
admiration.

After the chastisement was over he sat still, blushing and smiling
sheepishly, as if he were glad of her victory, while all the rest of the
school stood gaping in amazement.  Their hero had fallen!  He had been
conquered by a woman, a woman who was only a girl!  How could any of
them ever again hope to stand against a teacher, if the heart of the
strong Dan Butterworth melted like wax in her hands?

Dawn whirled upon them all.

"You may sit down," she commanded grandly, and they sat.

"What is your name?" she asked, turning back to Daniel.

"He’th Dan Butterwuth," volunteered an A-B-C from the front of the room.

Dawn looked Daniel straight in the eye, with a long, burning, scathing
scorn.

"You great big baby!" she said at last, her cheeks a beautiful red, her
eyes bright with the excitement of the encounter.  "Aren’t you ashamed?"

The rich red stole up into the boy’s face, mantling cheek and brow, and
seeming to bring a glow even into the rough, tawny hair and yellow,
curling lashes, as he dropped his eyes in a kind of happy shame.  It was
the first shame, perhaps, that he had ever been made to feel, and it was
real shame, yet it was so mixed with wholesome admiration of the small,
beautiful creature who had brought it upon him, that it left him unable
to understand himself.  So he grew redder, though there was no look of
anger about him, and soon his habitual smile was growing again, although
this time it was tinged with reverence and quite lacked its usual
impudence.

The scholars marvelled at him as the new teacher left him with the brand
of baby, sealed with her beautiful scorn.

Dawn went back to her seat on the platform, behind the big desk, and
Daniel sat still, only lifting his curly lashes to get another glimpse
of the loveliness and daring which had attacked and conquered him.  Bug
Higginson, a small, round imp, who adored Daniel, seemed to feel that
the erstwhile leader would expect something of his followers, so he
delivered himself of a fiendish grimace toward the teacher, which set
the girls near him to giggling, and of which Dawn had the full benefit
just as she sat down.

"You may come here," commanded Dawn, pointing straight at Bug with a
ruler she found on the desk. "Come here and sit on this stool."

She placed a stool near her own chair and waited for him to obey.

Bug made another grimace, and responded pertly, "I won’t!"

It was very quietly and swiftly done, and no one in the school saw the
beginning, because they were watching Bug and the teacher; but somehow
an instant after Bug had declined to obey he was taken by the nape of
his neck and the seat of his trousers, and deposited on the required
stool, while Daniel Butterworth was making his way back to his seat,
with a look of unconcern upon his face.  Bug was too astonished and too
much afraid of Daniel to make a sound or move a muscle.

Dawn looked at the long, lank boy as he sprawled back into his seat and
raised his curly eyelashes, to see how she would take his action, and
there flashed into her eyes a kindling of surprise, gratitude, and
understanding.  The school sat in mild dismay.  The fun had vanished,
and before their halting eyes stretched a monotonous vista of
uninteresting school days.  For they saw plainly that the leader had
gone over to the enemy, and they must surrender.

At intervals during the day some boy would attempt to bring about
another insurrection, but he would be promptly silenced by Daniel, who
every time received as reward a look of gratitude from Dawn’s expressive
eyes; and every time the beautiful glance gave him a new thrill of
pleasure.  He sat docile as a lamb and let her make him study, a thing
he had never done before in his whole life.  Now and then he raised his
eyes, dumb, submissive, and met hers, and the shock of a great
revolution reverberated through his nature.  He did not know what it
meant; he did not know why he was enjoying the morning so keenly; but he
entered into the new state of things as in a dream of bliss.

At recess time the boys who had always followed his lead in everything
began to jeer at him about the way he had given in to a girl and let her
whip him.  He did not turn red nor look embarrassed.  He promptly
settled the boldest of them with a few blows from his loosely hung arms,
and the others considered it wise to desist.  It was plain that the
former bully of the school had fallen in the new teacher’s snare, and as
it was well known to be unsafe to arouse his fiery temper, the other
boys had no choice but to follow in his lead.

"If you fellers say a word about her"—he nodded toward the
school-house—"I’ll lick every last one of yeh, an’ I mean it, too!" he
threatened, and then he walked away and sat down under the big elm to
whittle.  He always sat down to whittle after he had presented an
ultimatum to the other boys.

At her desk opposite the schoolroom door, Dawn heard this deliverance,
as he intended she should, and her eyes grew bright.  She understood
that Daniel Butterworth was her champion, and felt her courage grow
stronger at the thought.  In a moment more she stood at the school-house
door, looking out.  Daniel looked up from his whittling and met her
gaze.  She was smiling, and he felt that she no longer considered him a
baby.  The diminutive had rankled in his heart, and henceforth his
purpose was to prove to her that it was undeserved.  If good behavior
and hard study alone could do that, then he would behave and study,
though it was a new mode of procedure for him.

The most interesting fact of the morning was that Daniel Butterworth had
given in to the new "school-marm," and all the school knew it.

"Teatcher, thshe licked Dan Butterwuth," announced the precocious A-B-C
scholar that evening, as she devoured her supper of mush and milk.
"Thshe licked him real hard—jetht thlapped hith fathe an’ eyeth an’
earth eth hard eth ever thshe could."

Her father dropped his knife and fork on his plate resoundingly.  He was
the selectman who had unlocked the school-house.  He felt in a measure
responsible for the new teacher.

"The teacher whipped Daniel Butterworth!" he exclaimed. "Well, that
settles her hash, I s’pose.  I didn’t much think she’d do, such a little
whiffet tryin’ to manage great lunkin boys.  It ain’t in conscience to
expect it.  We need a _man_.  I told Parson so, but he insisted we try
her, an’ this is how it comes out.  Well, it’s no more’n I expected.  Of
course Dan’l’s father’ll never stand that."

"What did Dan do?" inquired the A-B-C.’s mother practically.  She knew
how to get at the root of the matter.

"He jeth thet thtill an’ took it."

"Dan’l Butterwuth set still an’ took a whippin’ off’n a girl-teacher!"
exclaimed the mother.  "Are you sure you’re tellin’ the truth?"

"Yeth, an’ then teatcher, thshe thaid he wath a _great big baby_, an’ he
jeth thet thtill an’ got red, an’ then he took Bug Higginthon an’ thet
him down hard where teacher thaid, when he’d thaid, ’I won’t’ to her.
An’ then he filled the water-pail fer her, an’ licked all the other
boyth."

"Well, I snum!" said the selectman gravely.  "Mebbe she’ll do, after
all.  If Dan’l’s took up fer her, there’s a chance."



                               CHAPTER XX


Dawn went back to the Golden Swan that evening tired but triumphant.
She had had a most successful session of school, and she knew it.  She
felt the victor’s blood running wildly through her veins, and longed to
have the minister know how well she had succeeded.

The teaching part had not troubled her in the least. Fresh from
school-books, blest with a love of study and a gift for imparting
knowledge, she entered into the work with a zest.  The problem of
discipline, which had bade fair in the morning to shipwreck her hopes,
had resolved itself into a very simple matter since she had conquered
the school leader.  It puzzled her a little to know just how she had
done it, and why he had succumbed so easily, yet she felt a pleasant
elation in recognizing the power she had over him.  As she lay in her
little room, after the candle was out that night, she pondered it, and
resolved to try to help Daniel to be a fine fellow.  Perhaps some day he
would grow to be something like Charles.  He never could be as fine and
noble, of course, for he was a rough boy, uncultured and ignorant; but
he had nice eyes, and he might develop good qualities if he were helped.
Dawn would have been horrified if she could have known that instead of
loafing with the men at the grocery, where he usually spent his
evenings, Daniel was at that moment standing in the dark of the kitchen
porch of his home, behind the cool morning-glory vines, looking out at
the stars and thinking with wonder of the delight it had been to have
her soft hands strike his face, and her dainty personality flash down
upon him, even in her beautiful wrath.

Daniel Butterworth was only a boy yet, but new thoughts were stirring in
his heart, and an absorbing admiration for her had entered into his soul
to stay. Hitherto he had been a big, good-natured, rollicking animal.
His mind had been upon either fun or practical matters, never upon
books.  He had not been taught to think.  His surroundings had been
rough, easy-going, and practical.  Nothing beautiful had ever touched
him before, yet his soul had responded quickly now that it had come, and
in one brief day Daniel seemed to have grown beyond his seventeen years
and to have come suddenly face to face with manhood.

And the cause of his sudden awakening had been the new teacher’s hands,
so small and soft, and yet so strong. As he thought about them, they
seemed to have been made of finer stuff than most women’s hands; to have
been tinted like the inner leaf of a half-blown rose, and to have borne
a subtle perfume upon his senses.  How he could have seen their color
when the "rose-leaves" were smiting stinging blows upon his closed eyes,
he did not stop to reason.  He leaned his face against a great
morning-glory leaf in the darkness, and its coolness against his fevered
cheeks reminded him of her hands, and thrilled him in a way he did not
understand.  He looked up at the stars, between the strings on which the
morning-glories twined, and wondered at himself, and thrilled again with
a solemn joy.  But all he knew was that he liked the new teacher, and
meant to study hard, if that would please her, and that he would lick
any boy that dared molest her or disturb her gentle rule.  So much the
little hands had accomplished in their first quick, decisive battle.

Then Daniel kicked off his boots noisily and tiptoed up the creaking
stairs to his attic chamber, to make his mother think he had been at the
village store, as usual. Not for the world would he have her know he had
spent the evening among the kitchen morning-glories, thinking about a
girl!  And she a schoolmarm at that!  He blushed deeply in the darkness
at the thought.

After that first day of getting acquainted with her scholars, and
finding out who were in the various classes, Dawn fashioned her school
on the model of Friend Ruth’s as nearly as was consistent with existing
circumstances. The rules she laid down were stricter than the village
school had ever known before, and went more into detail. A code of
ethics was gradually formed among the scholars, who followed the lead of
Daniel Butterworth and succumbed to the leadership of the new teacher.
Her beauty and her youth combined to make both boys and girls fall
victims to her charm.  They fairly worshipped at her shrine, and went
long pilgrimages after berries or rare flowers and ferns, that they
might be rewarded with the flash of gratitude in her lovely eyes.  They
suffered torments in refraining from their usual mischief, that they
might escape the flash of steel from those same eyes, for once that was
felt, they had no desire to re-experience it. It became the fashion to
treat her as a sort of queen, and Dawn was very gracious to her
subjects, though always masterful.  She smiled upon their offerings
impartially, even upon Bug Higginson’s small sister’s donation of
moistly withered dandelions.  Yet when she discovered some deviation
from the laws she had laid down, she was severity itself, almost flying
into a passion with them, outraged goodness in her eyes, and impulsive
intensity in her every motion.  At such times she seemed to have a
special gift of speech, coming directly to the point and saying the
things that would most cut the culprit.

Once behind a stump fence in the woods she came upon a row of her boys
placidly smoking corn-cob pipes, in imitation of the village loafers—or
of their respected fathers, each of whom had threatened dire things to
his offspring if he was ever caught at the practice.  Her horror and
disgust quickly blazed into words, until every boy wished that a hole
would open in the ground wide enough to swallow him for a little while.

Dawn had no convictions or principles about the matter.  She was moved
by an innate dislike of the practice, intensified by the fact that
Harrington Winthrop had once smoked in her company while walking with
her in the woods, and had never even asked permission.  The smell of
tobacco smoke ever after gave her a sickening sense of dislike.

The boys threw their pipes away, and Daniel Butterworth, rising from the
root of the tree on which he had been seated, commanded:

"Fellers, if she don’t like it, we quit!  D’ye understand? We quit
entirely.  I’ll thrash any boy that breaks the rule."

The pipes were thrown away, and seven boys with very red cheeks and
downcast eyes entered school a trifle late that noon and sheepishly
slunk to their desks.

The next morning Daniel Butterworth was found tacking up on the
blackboard a clipping from a newspaper, in which was set forth how a
certain Eliphalet Howe, a guest at the Tremont House in Boston, had been
arrested for breaking the law which declared that there should be no
smoking on the streets.  The said Eliphalet had been found guilty and
fined twenty-five dollars for the offense, though he had pleaded in
defense that the sidewalk where he stood to smoke was in front of the
Tremont House, and that therefore, as he was on the premises of the
house where he was stopping, he was not breaking the law.

At recess the scholars filed solemnly around and read the item, and
looked with awe at Daniel, who read the papers and knew so much about
affairs.  Dawn smiled to herself to see how Daniel was helping her.

But Dawn knew nothing of the thrashings her champion gave to the smokers
whose habits were not easily broken up, nor how they were forced to find
other quarters for their secret meetings, or scatter by themselves in
hiding to pursue the practice.  Public opinion had turned, and it was no
longer popular to do anything the teacher disliked.  Daniel was even
known to send two boys home one day as they entered the school yard,
because they smelled of smoke and he had told them the teacher did not
like it.

It was not to be supposed that in so large a school everything would
always be pleasant and easy, nor that the scholars would always be
angels.  They had their noisy days, and their mischievous days, and
their stupid days, and now and then Dawn felt disheartened and
discouraged.  But matters were made far easier for her than she perhaps
fully realized, because of Daniel Butterworth and his devotion to her.

Dawn was grateful to the boy, and in return for his championship she let
him carry her books home, walking a little way behind with some of his
devoted boy followers, while she was escorted by an eager group of
little girls.

At first there was a sort of jealousy of her among the older girls, who
were inclined to toss their heads, and whisper among themselves that she
was no older than they, so why should she put on so many airs?  They
suspected her of taking the attention of the boys away from them; but as
the days went by, and Dawn entered into her work with enthusiasm,
planning debates and plays and readings for them, and making even the
dullest lessons glow with interest because she really seemed to like
them herself, opposition melted away and they succumbed to her charm.

For one so young and inexperienced, it was wonderful what she could do
with those girls and boys.  The parents began to talk about it, the
minister saw it with gratification, and pleased himself by thinking his
child might have been like that if she had lived.  Presently the whole
town was proud to own her as a kind of public institution, like the
doctor and the minister.

There were a few old ladies who shook their heads and wondered how it
was that she had come so far, from that wicked city of New York, to
teach their school, without there being a single relative in the
vicinity.  The village seamstress, with half a dozen pins in one corner
of her mouth, would talk about it wherever she went to work, and say,
"What I’d like to know is, who knows anything about her?  What is she?
Why doesn’t she tell about herself?"

But in spite of all, Dawn walked calmly back and forth to her school,
and managed the scholars with a degree of dignity and skill that would
have done credit to a far older teacher.  The whole town gradually began
to love her.  It was a nine days’ wonder that Daniel Butterworth had
been so changed by her influence.  His mother never could get done
thanking the new teacher, sometimes with tears running down her cheeks.
Often she would send to her by Daniel a paper of fresh doughnuts or a
soft ginger-bread, or even a juicy apple-pie, as a token of her
thankfulness.

Dawn was "boarding round," and the days she spent at the Butterworths’
comfortable, weather-beaten old farmhouse were one continual jubilee for
the family, and a season of triumph for the teacher.  The best dishes
and the finest table-cloth were got out, and a fire was built in the
solemn front room.  There, after the supper, which was composed of all
the nicest things Mrs. Butterworth knew how to concoct, the family would
gather around the teacher to listen while she talked or read to them.

And Dawn, because she wanted to help Daniel, and also because she
thoroughly enjoyed the admiration and attention she was receiving,
entered into it all, and hunted out stories to read to them, and finally
gave them a taste of Shakespeare, which she read with remarkable
understanding and dramatic power, considering that she had never had any
interpreter but herself.

A new world was opened to the house of Butterworth. Even the old farmer
sat open-mouthed and listened, watching the wonderful change of
expression on the beautiful girlish face.

There were flowers in a tumbler on the dinner-table, stiffly arranged by
Daniel’s oldest sister, Rachel.  Daniel wet and combed his tawny hair
before he came to meals. It was unusual, and the smaller children
noticed and followed suit.

It was one day when Dawn sat at the table, talking and laughing and
making them all forget the common-placeness of life, with her cheeks as
red as the late pink aster tucked in among her curls, that Daniel’s
mother noticed with a heart of satisfaction the look on her boy’s face.
That Daniel should take to a girl like that was all and more than her
mother heart could wish.  And why not?  Were not the Butterworths well
off?  Was not their farm the largest and most flourishing in the whole
country?  True, they had not painted their house in a long time, and
didn’t go in much for fancy dressing, but that was easily changed; and
the barns had always been kept in fine repair, which was a good test of
prosperity. Thus Mrs. Butterworth meditated in the watches of the night,
but she never mentioned the matter, even to the boy’s father, for John
was "turrible easy upset of an idea, an’ it was just as well to let
things take their own way, ’long’s it was sech a good way for once."

But Dawn had no idea that any such notion had entered the good woman’s
head, and enjoyed her stay at the Butterworths’ heartily, going on to
the next place with regret.

There were places where boarding round was not altogether agreeable;
where the rooms were small and cold and had to be shared with younger
members of the family; where the blankets were thin, or the feather-beds
odorous; where the morning’s ham sizzling in the spider on the kitchen
stove below came up through wide cracks in unappetizing smoke; where the
master of the house was gruff, and her welcome was grudgingly given.
Many a night she cried herself to sleep in these places, and wondered
why she had been born to suffer so, and to be so lonely.

The thought of Charles, and of the day of her wedding, was growing to be
like a dim and misty dream.  She still hugged it to her heart, as a most
precious treasure, but day by day it was becoming more unreal to her.

However, take it all in all, Dawn was perhaps happier than she had been
since she was a tiny child with her mother.  She was interested in her
work, enjoyed the companionship of many of the children, and was pleased
to feel that she was independent and self-supporting.  Of her own
private fortune she never thought.  She had been told that there was
money left to her by her mother’s father, but it made little impression,
and she had never cared to ask how much.  It was just a part of the
world she had left behind her when she ran away in her attempt to undo
mischief she had never meant to do.  She kept herself much more strictly
than Friend Ruth had ever succeeded in doing, feeling as she did her
responsibility, now that she was a real teacher.  But she allowed
herself many a playtime as the winter drew on and the snow-falls made
coasting and skating possible.  There was a hill behind the school-house
where at noon she coasted with her scholars, shouting and laughing with
the rest.  Each boy strove to have the honor of her company upon his
sled, but she distributed her favors impartially.

It was only when she went home with "Bug" Higginson, to spend her week,
and discovered to her dismay where he got his nickname, that her heart
failed her entirely, and she felt she had met with something she could
not bear.  However, that experience did not last forever and Dawn went
cheerily on her way, brightening the whole town with her presence,
which, now that she was set free from the confines and oppression that
had always been about her, seemed to grow and glow with a beautiful
inner life.

The school-children were not the only ones who admired the new teacher,
and sought her society.  There was not a young man in town who did not
gaze after her as she went down the street, and wish himself a scholar
again in the old red school-house.

About Christmas time, a new annoyance loomed up and threatened to spoil
Dawn’s bright prospects. Suddenly, without warning, the youngest of the
selectmen, Silas Dobson, took a violent interest in the school.  He
would drop in at all hours, and stay the session out, taking occasion to
walk home with the teacher, if possible.

Daniel, who had never presumed to walk beside her alone, frowned heavily
and grew almost morose as the thing was repeated.

Dawn was very polite and a little frightened at first. It spoiled the
cosy feeling of her school to have visitors. The presence of this
particular selectman stirred up the latent mischief in the scholars.  As
his visits were repeated, the teacher was filled with a growing
consternation.

Silas was a long, thin man about thirty years old, a widower with five
children, and an angular mother, who kept them in order.  He was the
editor of the village paper, and as a literary man he claimed that he
felt a deep responsibility toward the school.  Daniel heard him say this
one day, and told the boys he’d knock Silas’s responsibility into a
cocked hat if he bothered the teacher much more.

Daniel’s opportunity arrived one night when there was a quilting bee out
the old turnpike road, and everybody was invited to the supper.  The
quilting began in the afternoon, and Dawn closed school early, so that
she and the older girls might attend.  The young men were coming to
supper, and they were all to ride home in the moonlight.

With her thimble in her pocket and her eyes shining, Dawn hurried off
from the school-house in company with the older girls who could sew.
They looked back once to wave their hands toward the group of boys who
lingered wistfully behind, keeping watch of them.  The older boys were
to come to the quilting bee later, but they felt—some of them—that the
afternoon was a long blank in spite of good skating and the
half-holiday.  Somehow, the coming of the new teacher had made them more
anxious to have the girls along and to have a good time all together.
But they consoled themselves with the anticipation of the evening.  The
teacher had promised to ride home with them, and they were planning a
big sleigh-load, all huddled happily on the straw, with songs and
shoutings and a good time generally.  Dawn was looking forward to the
ride as much as any of them.

But Silas Dobson had other plans.  He brought his own horse and cutter,
and, having arranged that his mother should return home with a neighbor,
he himself planned to monopolize the teacher.  To this end, soon after
supper he edged over to where she sat among the girls, and conferred the
honor of his company upon her for the ride home; at least, that was the
impression he gave as he told her that he wished her to go home with
him.

"Oh, thank you," said Dawn politely, "but I’ve already promised to go
with my pupils.  Daniel Butterworth is to bring a big sleigh, and we are
all going home together."

Silas’s face darkened and his back stiffened.

"That will be quite uncomfortable for you," he said decidedly, as if it
were not to be thought of.  Dawn wondered why it was that people were
always taking her affairs out of her hands so confidently, without
asking her leave.  But she was no longer the child she had been at home
or school.  She was feeling the strength of independence.  She sat up
with dignity.

"Oh, I shall enjoy it," she answered, sparkling at the thought.

"My cutter is here, and you’d better go with me," said Silas.  "I’ll
speak to Dan about it and make it all right, so he won’t expect you."

"Oh, please don’t do that!" cried Dawn anxiously. (Why was it he
reminded her so much of Harrington Winthrop?)  "I promised Daniel and
the children.  I wouldn’t disappoint them for anything.  Thank you just
the same."

Some one else came up then, and Silas turned away, but Dawn watched him
uneasily.  From the look on his face, one would have thought she had
accepted his attention with delight.  He did not act like a man who had
received a rebuff.

Later, when Dan drove his horses with a flourish to the old horse-block
in front of the house, Silas was waiting for him.

"You needn’t wait for Miss Montgomery, Dan," said the selectman in a
patronizing tone.  "She’s going with me."

"She’s not any such a thing," growled Dan.  "She promised us she’d go in
our team."

"Yes, she was afraid you’d be disappointed, but I told her I’d make it
right with you," said Silas, in a soothing tone.  "Hurry, now, and load
up and drive out of the way.  Don’t you see the other folks are waiting?
You wouldn’t stand in the way of a lady’s comfort, would you, especially
when she doesn’t want to go with you?"

Dan glared at his adversary in speechless wrath for an instant, while
the girls and boys were climbing in, then gave a cut to his horses with
the whip and drove the long sleigh with its merry load out into the
white mist of the moonlit road and round a curve to the fence, where he
flung the reins to another boy, telling him to wait and keep quiet. Then
he stole back around the house and stood in the shadow of a great
wood-pile, near enough to hear all that went on, but not to be seen.

The guests merrily trooped forth in the path of candle-light that shone
from the open house door, and Dawn’s musical laugh rang over them all;
but when she came out to the horse-block and saw Silas standing alone
beside his cutter, she drew back and looked around in dismay.

"Why, where is Daniel?" she asked anxiously.  "They told me he wanted me
to come now."

"Daniel has gone," said Silas pleasantly.  "I explained to him how much
more comfortable it would be for you in my sleigh, and, besides, he was
crowded as it was.  He hadn’t room enough for you.  Just get right in,
and I’ll show you what my mare can do in getting you over the snow."

"Daniel is gone!" Dawn echoed in a troubled voice. "Oh, no, thank
you"—drawing back timidly and looking toward the door.  "I will see if
Mrs. Butterworth is inside yet.  I can go with her.  I will not trouble
you."

But Silas was not to be thus set aside.

"Don’t think of such a thing," he commanded.  "Just get right in."  He
reached out to grasp her arm and detain her from her purpose, but just
as he touched the sleeve of her coat his arm was grasped from behind,
and a skilful thrust of Daniel Butterworth’s long arm sent him spinning
backward into a big snowbank.

When Silas Dobson arose, disconcerted and spluttering, from the
snow-bank, Dawn had vanished, whisked around the wood-pile in a jiffy by
Daniel, lifted for an instant in his strong arms, carried across a broad
expanse of unbroken snow, and tucked neatly into the sleigh among the
girls and boys.

The whole sleigh-load had divined Dan’s purpose, and they kept silent
until she was safe among them, and Dan in the front seat had gathered up
his reins again.  Then they gave a united shout which rang through the
moonlit air and struck sharply on the ears of the disconcerted Silas as
he climbed hastily into his lone sleigh and turned his horse’s head in
the opposite direction.

The next time Silas Dobson came to visit the school he stayed after
hours and said he wished to talk with the teacher.

With lowering brow, Daniel lingered in the back of the room,
phenomenally busy with his books.  Dawn cast a frightened look around,
and her eyes rested on him with appeal.  His eyes seemed to give back
comfortable assurance of help as he sat down with a thump and began to
figure vigorously at a sum he had not finished in the arithmetic class.
Silas eyed his youthful enemy, and finally requested that he be sent
home, as he wished to have a little private conversation.

"Oh!" laughed Dawn, loud enough for Daniel to hear.  "Daniel has to stay
to-night to finish his sums.  It would not do for me to let him go.  I
might lose my school if I did not act fairly, you know."

Daniel figured away vigorously, putting down any numerals that entered
his head.  There was a warm feeling around his heart.  It was as
exhilarating as scoring a point in a ball-game.  He was apparently deaf
to what was going on about him, and frowned over his sum in feigned
perplexity.

"Sit down, Mr. Dobson," went on Dawn, summoning all her dignity.  "We
can talk with entire freedom here. Daniel is busy and will not notice."
She spoke in a low, distant tone, and seated herself at the desk.

"I’m one of the principal selectman," frowned Dobson, as he sat down at
her bidding.  "You needn’t be afraid to send him home."

"It isn’t in the least necessary," said Dawn, thankful to Daniel from
the depths of her heart for his presence.

Silas Dobson lowered his voice and, drawing gradually nearer to the
teacher, launched into a flowery paragraph which he had prepared and
rehearsed before his mirror. It contained phases about Miss Montgomery’s
starry eyes, raven locks, pearly teeth, and rosy cheeks, and was
calculated to convey his admiration in a delicate editorial manner.
Noting the drooping eyelashes, and deepened color of the girl before
him, he proceeded from this preamble to make her understand that his
interest in the school had not been altogether for the school’s sake,
and that he was offering her honorable attentions, which, if all went
well, would mean a proposal of marriage later.

If he could have seen the steel flash under the drooping eyelashes, he
would not have gone on to impress her with the value of such an offer,
nor told its advantages in half so complacent a tone.

As usual, Dawn had control of herself in this unpleasant crisis, and
while his words filled her with dismay and repulsion her tone was cool,
low, deliberate:

"I have no doubt you mean to be kind, Mr. Dobson——" she began.

"Not at all, not at all, it is my pleasure and my will," he interrupted
effusively.

"But," she went on, ignoring his interruption, "I have no desire for
attention from any one, and will have to ask you to excuse me from
accepting it."

He looked at her in astonishment, and thought she must be coquetting;
but his most earnest solicitations failed to get anything further from
her than the fact that she would rather not receive his attentions.

"Do you know," he asked angrily, "that I am a man of importance in this
town?  I have influence enough with the selectmen to take this school
away from you if I choose.  Take care how you treat me!"

"I suppose there are schools in other places, then," answered Dawn
coolly, looking him in the eye now, though she felt every fibre of her
being in a tremor.

"Are you aware, Miss Montgomery, that I am an editor, and that a very
slight word from my pen would go abroad through the land and ruin your
reputation so that you could not get any school anywhere?"

"I cannot see why you should want to do such an unkind thing as that,
after what you have said about liking me, but if you do, you need not
stop on my account.  I can find something else to do.  I certainly could
never have anything more to do with a man that threatened such things."

"I did not say I would do any such thing, Miss Montgomery," began Silas,
eager now to retract his angry words.  "I was merely trying to show you
what risks you were taking in talking to me as you did.  I mean well by
you, and I think you ought to appreciate it.  If I were to offer these
attentions to any other girl in the village, she would feel flattered."

"Daniel"—Dawn’s voice rang clear and without a trace of the excitement
she was under—"if you need help with those sums now, I can give it.
Bring them up here, please."

Daniel lost no time in getting to his feet and gathering up his
scattered papers, but the selectman arose in protest and put out his
hand toward the teacher.

"Don’t call that boy up here yet," he commanded, and dared to lay his
hand upon the girl’s arm as he did so, bringing his smug countenance
quite near, that he might speak so the approaching boy would not hear.

But the words on his lips were never uttered.  Without an instant’s
hesitation, Dawn sprang away from him, crying, "Don’t you dare to touch
me, sir!" and with catlike agility Daniel glided up the aisle and struck
the selectman full in the face.  Silas reeled backward off the platform,
and staggered ignominiously against the wall, clutching at the
blackboard rail for support, his hat rolling at his feet, and his
general appearance undignified, to say the least.  Daniel stood in a
combative attitude, looking at him contemptuously.  He would have
enjoyed nothing better than to give Silas Dobson a good thrashing.

"You shall answer for this, you young rascal," threatened Silas, shaking
his fist at Daniel, as he recovered his balance and began to brush the
chalk dust from his best coat.  "This is the second offense, remember!"

Silas was no match for Daniel in a fight, and he knew it.

"All right," said Daniel, unconcerned.  "We’ll see who does the
answering, but don’t you dare touch Teacher again, d’ye hear?"

"I shall have a talk with Mr. Butterworth, who is also a selectman, and
with the minister," said Dawn, with dignity.  "If they wish me to give
up the school, I will do so, and thus save you the trouble of doing what
you have threatened, Mr. Dobson."

"You make a great mistake, Miss Montgomery," said Silas, thoroughly
alarmed now.  "I have no desire to have you give up the school."

"Well, I guess you better not have," said Daniel threateningly—"not
unless you want a good coat of tar and feathers."  There was a look of
wrath in the boy’s blue eyes that boded no good for the discomfited
selectman.

"You have not understood me," repeated Silas lamely, glaring with
helpless anger at Daniel, and then casting a wistful appeal at the
teacher.

But Dawn had taken up the arithmetic, and was figuring rapidly.  She
only raised her head to say coldly, "Good afternoon, Mr. Dobson.  You
will do me a favor if you won’t come to visit the school any more.  You
hinder my work, and I do not like it."  Then she turned to Daniel and
began to explain the sum.

"You have not understood me," murmured Silas again.

"I guess you’ve been understood all right," said Daniel grimly over his
shoulder.

With a last angry glare at Dawn’s protector, and a threat he would never
dare to carry out, Silas Dobson took himself off the scene of action.

The next week there appeared a prominent editorial about the public
school and its brilliant young teacher, who was doing so much for the
youth of the village, and should be encouraged in every way by the
parents.

Daniel read it to a group of the boys in the school yard, and then cut
it out with his penknife and pinned it to the blackboard, as an
expression of the sentiments of the whole school.

After that little episode, there was a closer bond than ever between
Daniel and his teacher.  They never talked it over, nor even mentioned
it, except that Dawn, as Silas’s footsteps died away that afternoon, had
put her little hand on the boy’s rough one for just an instant, and
said:

"Thank you so much, Daniel.  I do not know what I should have done if
you had not stayed."

Daniel had turned away with a sudden feeling as if he was going to
choke, while the blood in his heart pounded up into his face.  But aloud
he only said in a bashful tone:

"Aw, that’s nothin’.  He needs a good lickin’, an’ I’d like to be the
one to give it to him."

Afterward, Dawn wondered that she had dared to speak as she had to Silas
Dobson, a selectman, and the editor of the paper.  And if she had it in
her to do so now, how was it that she had allowed Harrington Winthrop to
lead her on to a hated marriage, when she might have easily stopped it
by being decided?  Had her brief months of independence given her
courage?  It seemed strange to her now that she had been so afraid to
tell her father what she felt about it until matters had gone so far
that it was almost impossible to stop it.  Her heart burned within her
sometimes to go back and tell Harrington Winthrop just what she felt
about him.  She had been weak, she decided, terribly weak, in yielding
in the beginning to her desire for a home of her own, and for freedom
from any possibility of having to stay in the house with her father’s
wife.  Yet, were not all women weak and helpless sometimes, when it came
to a testing of their strength against men?  Her mother had not been
able to cope with her father’s will.  It was all a mixed-up world, and
full of trouble.  She turned on her scanty corn-husk pillow and wished
for the dawn of a day that would have no sorrow.

Just why it was that her experience with Silas Dobson made the thought
of Charles and her marriage so much more vivid than before, Dawn could
not understand, and she thought about it a great deal in the watches of
the night, when she should have been sleeping.  A new phase of her
position was forced upon her: she was in a measure deceiving other
people about herself.  Silas Dobson, disagreeable as he was, had no idea
that his attentions were an insult to her because she was already
married.  Of course she could refuse to accept attentions from any one,
but if Silas Dobson had been a pleasant and agreeable man, it might have
been difficult to explain to him without telling him the truth why she
could not ride nor walk with him.  It was all a terrible problem, and
night after night she cried herself to sleep.

Sometimes she stayed in unpleasant quarters, where she had perhaps to
climb a ladder, and share the loft above the lean-to kitchen with two of
the small children of the family.  Often the cracks would be so wide
that the snow would blow in, drift across her bed, and even blow into
her face.  Then as she dropped off to sleep, lulled by the roar of the
wind outside, she would wish that the snow might come softly and cover
her out of sight, that she might sleep forever.

At other times, the thought of Charles brought a great longing to see
him, and to hear his voice whisper, "My darling," once more, as he had
that night when they stood for one blissful moment together in their
room, before Betty called them.  Then Dawn would go over all the
happenings of the evening: the scene at the supper table, and every
syllable that Madam Winthrop had uttered, up to the awful moment when
the mother had hurled her accusations, and the truth had burst upon the
young bride’s heart in all its nakedness: that she was married out of
generosity!  Bitterness toward this woman was changing slowly into
understanding.  How was the mother to blame for what she had said?  It
was all true, except that she, Dawn, had not known it, and was therefore
not to blame.

Then she began to wonder how it was that she could have been so
deceived.  She could not blame her mother-in-law for doubting her word,
for would not she also doubt that a girl could be married to a man and
think he was some other?  Whose fault had it been?  Not Charles’s, for
he had fully vindicated himself.  She would sooner doubt herself than
him.  Could her father have known about it?  Could he have wished her to
be married to one whom she did not know, without even telling her?  It
was believable that he might have thought it of little importance to
her, if he, her father, willed it so; yet while often treating her as if
she were a chattel, without will of her own, he had ever been perfectly
frank with her.  She felt that he would have informed her of the change
of bridegrooms, and not merely carried out his wishes without announcing
it to her.  She could scarcely believe he could think it would not
matter to her.  But after careful thought she was inclined to lay the
deception at her stepmother’s door, and she was not long in fathoming
the true reason for it.  Mrs. Van Rensselaer knew her unhappy state of
mind, and probably feared that Dawn would rebel against being married.
To have her remain at home was the worst possible thing that could
happen to her step-mother, Dawn knew, for from childhood she had been
hated by the woman who had taken her outraged mother’s place.  It was
all quite plain—all but one thing: how had Harrington Winthrop been
turned aside from his purpose of marrying her?  Had he done it of
himself, or had her father found out something about him that he did not
like, or had Charles managed it for her?  And where was Harrington?
Would she ever meet him again? The thought took such hold upon her that
it visited her in dreams and made her cry out in alarm as she sought to
hide from his pursuing phantom.

After her experience with Silas Dobson, Daniel was ever vigilant,
attending her to and from school, albeit seldom alone with her.  He
seemed to be entirely willing that his favorite followers should share
his privileges of her company; and often there were several tiny girls,
or older ones, in the triumphal procession going to and from the red
school-house, taking "teacher" home.  Daniel showed himself a gentle
giant toward the little ones, too, picking them up when they fell down,
wiping off the mud, and carrying them if they were tired.  Dawn saw him
daily growing more manly and kindly, and she felt proud of him.
Perhaps, some day, he might become something like Charles, though never
quite so cultured, for he lacked the refined home training.  But she
realized more and more that he was a good boy and a great comfort to
her. As for herself, she felt years older than he, and far beyond him in
experience.  She never dreamed how it was with him toward her.  If she
had, she might have given up in despair, and cried out that there was
nothing good for her in the world.

So Daniel continued to guard her, and to watch the movements of Silas
Dobson as a cat watches a mouse. If Silas had wished, he would have had
no opportunity to repeat his troublesome attentions, for whenever he
found himself in the neighborhood of where the teacher happened to be
boarding, he was likely to notice Daniel in the immediate foreground.

So the long winter went pleasantly by.  There were husking bees,
quiltings, singing-school, and Lyceum nights. Dawn became a prominent
participant at all.  In singing-school, no voice was so clear as hers,
and she could take the high notes to the envy of every other soprano in
the village.  At the Lyceum her readings were more popular than any
others.

In spite of her frequent loneliness, and her feeling of being cast off
by all who should naturally protect her—though it was her own fault, of
course, that she had run away, and she blamed no one—Dawn had never been
quite so happy in her life.  Her hours were pleasantly employed, she had
friends who admired her, and she might do as she pleased.  It opened a
wide and interesting life before her. If only there had not been that
ache as of something lost, that memory of her one beautiful day of love,
which remained as a haunting vision, she would have felt herself blest
beyond most girls.  But all the time there was that sense of something
wrong, that could not be set right; of a great mistake that might not
ever be mended.

And then, one morning when a hint of spring was in the air, and the snow
was all gone save lingering patches in dark corners and in shady
hollows, and the sunshine was making everybody feel glad, she came face
to face with Harrington Winthrop!



                              CHAPTER XXI


It was in front of the Golden Swan that she met Harrington.  He was just
coming down the steps, and must have arrived the night before.

He stopped suddenly, with the look in his eyes like a cat’s when she
spies a bird and, crouching, steals slowly nearer.

Dawn paused for just an instant, too, in wild dismay, having the
instinct to flee, yet realizing that she must not, because the whole
town would think it strange.  She wished to have the power to pass him
unrecognized, yet with sudden sinking of soul she knew that she had not.
His eye had met hers with recognition, and she must hold her position
courageously.  She wished she knew all the circumstances of his giving
her up, and it flashed across her that she must not let him know that
she was ignorant of them.  He must have no advantage, for his strange
power over her might crush her in spite of herself.  Something tightened
round her heart and gripped it like a vise as his cold calculating
glance looked her over, and a cruel satisfaction settled about his
hateful mouth.

Dawn gave a sort of gasp and started on, summoning all the spirit with
which she had vanquished Silas Dobson, and wondering why she could not
be as haughty and as brave now.  The sight of Daniel’s butter-nut clad
shoulders in the distance, waiting at the corner with a group of other
boys, gave her courage, but her face was white, and she felt her limbs
trembling beneath her.

But Harrington Winthrop did not intend to let her slip through his
fingers thus easily, now that he had found her, apparently far from her
natural guardians.  He of course knew nothing of her marriage with his
brother.

He hastened down the steps with effusive manner and smiling countenance,
and extended his hand in a warm greeting—if anything he ever did could
be said to be actually warm.

"I did not expect this pleasure," he said in an oily voice, and with an
impressive glance intended to convey deep emotion.

She drew back from the hand he offered, and wished she could take her
eyes from his hateful ones, but she could not.

"Poor child!" he murmured in mock pity.  "They have told you terrible
untruths about me, and you have suffered and find it hard to forgive.
But, indeed, it was none of my fault.  I will explain the whole matter,
and we can still evade the enemies who are trying to part us, and be
happy together."

Dawn shuddered!

"Where can we go that we shall not be interrupted? Suppose we walk in
the woods?"

Dawn was filled with terror.  She looked about wildly, and saw to her
relief that Daniel, with his special bodyguard in the rear, was
sauntering slowly toward her.  His attitude of protection gave her
courage.  He was watching the stranger with a curious suspicion.  Had
his intuition told him that she needed help?  Daniel was but a few steps
away.

She drew her breath in quickly, and spoke in a clear voice:

"I have no time to talk with any one at present.  I am on my way to
school, and shall be busy until late in the afternoon.  I am a teacher."

She drew herself up with dignity, and he realized that she was not the
simple child he had seen last, but a woman with an independence of her
own.

"Dismiss your school," he said in the voice he was used to having
obeyed.  "I cannot possibly wait until this afternoon.  I must talk with
you at once.  I don’t intend to let you slip through my fingers so
easily, now that I have found you, my pretty lady."  He smiled, but
there was a sinister menace in his voice.

"It is impossible to dismiss school," said Dawn decidedly. "I should
lose my position if I did a thing like that.  Besides, I do not wish to
talk with you.  There is nothing to talk about."

"There is everything to talk about," said the man, a fierce light coming
into his eyes.  "They have told you lies about me, and taken you away
from me, but I mean to have you in spite of them.  I will explain to you
all about that poor woman.  She was never my wife at all. Come, let the
school take care of itself.  You will have no further need of it.  You
belong to me, and I will take care of you.  Come with me!"

The last word was a command, and with it he took hold of her shoulder
almost roughly and attempted to turn her round.

At once there was a low growl behind his heels, and Daniel Butterworth’s
dog took hold of the calf of his leg as if he too would say, "Come with
me!"

Harrington promptly let go of Dawn, who took advantage of her freedom
and fairly flew down the street, leaving Daniel to settle up matters
between his dog and the stranger, in whose frightened antics the boy was
secretly taking deep delight.  When Dawn had turned the corner and was
out of sight, Dan called the dog off.  Then Harrington Winthrop
discovered that his lady had departed. Before that time he had been
otherwise occupied.

Angry, baffled, and exhausted, he was in nowise attractive. An
interested group of boys and one or two little girls who had torn
themselves away from the teacher’s side encircled him.  Dan looked at
him in quiet amusement, and then called his dog and betook himself to
school. Most of the group followed him, with reluctant glances back at
the dishevelled stranger.  One little girl lingered, eying him
wonderingly, and twisting her apron-strings.

"Where is your school-house, little girl?" asked Harrington sharply.

The child felt compelled to answer.

"Round that there corner over there, and down the road a good piece."

Harrington glanced after the boys and the dog uncertainly.  Did the dog
go to school also?

"Where does your teacher board?" he asked again.

"She’s boardin’ round, an’ it’s Ann Peabody’s turn this week.  She’s got
a boy what’s blind in one eye."

"Ah!  Indeed!  That’s a pity.  Where does Ann Peabody live?"

"Next door but one to the church.  The house with Johnny-jump-ups by the
gate, an’ a laylock bush by the stoop."

"Thank you.  Now tell me what time your school lets out, that’s a little
lady."

"It don’t let out till four o’clock—but it’ll be took up ’fore I get
there if I don’t hurry."

She took to her heels forthwith, and Harrington Winthrop limped up the
steps of the Golden Swan to repair damages and consider his next line of
procedure.

When Dawn arrived at the school-house she was almost too frightened to
stop.  It was late, and most of the scholars were there.  They trooped
gladly in after her. She had made school for them a kind of all-day
picnic, and they were eager to begin it.  Even after she had hung up her
bonnet and cape, and opened the high lid of her desk, her heart was
beating like a trip-hammer.  Now and then she looked apprehensively
toward the door, and was reassured when at last she saw Daniel saunter
in with a comfortable smile on his face, while the dog took up his
station on the door-step.  Rags often came to school. It was a part of
his privilege to guard the teacher, and he felt he had earned a morning
session by his gallantry in defending her against the rude stranger who
had dared to lay hands upon her.  He sat down comfortably just inside
the school-room door, his forepaws hanging over the step, but he kept
his head erect.  With his nose on his paws and one eye closed, not once
during the morning did he relax.  He felt that there was further trouble
to be expected, and he must be ready.

Dawn smiled, albeit with trembling lips, and set about the morning’s
routine; but her mind was troubled, and she kept starting and glancing
uneasily toward the door. Daniel saw this, and grew grave with
apprehension.  What had the stranger to do with the teacher, and why did
she seem to be so uneasy?  Had he some power over her?  She certainly
did not look happy when he had laid his hand upon her arm, just before
he, Dan, had given that low signal to Rags.  She couldn’t have liked the
stranger to be there, or she would not have run away when she got the
chance.

At recess she made Daniel happy by calling him to the desk and in a low
tone thanking him for helping her.  She did not explain further than to
say that the man was an old acquaintance whom she did not like.  Daniel
understood him to be in the same class with Silas Dobson.

During the morning session of school Dawn’s mind was in a whirl, trying
to think what she should do.  She dreaded the coming of the afternoon,
when school would close, and she must go back to Mrs. Peabody’s house.
Winthrop would certainly search her out.  It had been a great mistake to
let him know she was the school-teacher, for though he did not know her
assumed name he could easily find her now.  She dreaded any encounter
with him.  A frenzy of fear had taken possession of her.

As the morning went on, she tried to make some plan for escape.  No
longer was it safe in this vicinity.  She must get away and hide from
him.  Where?  Could she ever hope to evade a man who spent his entire
time travelling over the earth?  He had the assurance of the devil
himself, and it was almost hopeless to try to get beyond his grasp.
Nevertheless, she must go.

The reading class which recited just before the noon-hour stumbled on
its way for once without correction, while Dawn planned her next pitiful
move.

At noon she sent one of the older girls to Mrs. Peabody’s, to get her
bag and a few little things that were lying about the room.  She usually
kept everything neatly packed in a large bag she had made—everything
except her silk dress, which was hung on a nail.  This the girl promised
to fold nicely and put into the bag.  She was to tell Mrs. Peabody that
Dawn had decided to go a day before the time was up, and to thank the
lady for all her kindness, and say Dawn was sorry she could not very
well leave to explain it herself.  The girl felt honored by the
commission, and performed it to the letter, wishing the while that she
knew where Teacher was going a day ahead of time, and resolving to ask
her mother to invite the teacher to come to their house ahead of time,
too.

Rags took up his station on the school-house steps again for the
afternoon session, having been abundantly fed from the generous
dinner-pails, on apple-pie, doughnuts, and chicken bones.  Rags felt it
in the air that something was going to happen, but nothing did, and four
o’clock came at last.

Dawn had made the scholars write in their copy-books during the last
hour of the afternoon.  "Command you may your mind from play," straggled
up and down a whole page in many of the books, while blots grew thick
among the words, but no teacher wandered alertly up and down the aisles
to watch and to correct; sometimes—oh, blessed honor!—to sit down and
hold the quill pen, or, better still, take the dirty little fist of the
writer into her own pink hand and guide the writing.  The teacher sat
behind a raised desk-lid, diligently writing, and took no heed of notes,
or whittling, or even paper balls.  Daniel Butterworth finally took Bug
Higginson by the collar and stood him up behind the stove, but still the
teacher wrote on.

It was a letter to the minister she was writing, and her young breast
heaved with mingled emotions is she wrote.  It was hard to have to leave
this first school, where she had been so happy, and where she could
still be so happy if she only had some one to protect her from the man
who would probably haunt her through life.  She had felt that she must
make some brief explanation of her departure to the kind old man who had
trusted her, and upon whom it would fall to explain her absence.


DEAR DR. MERCER [she wrote]:

You have been so very kind to me that it gives me much sorrow to tell
you that I must go away.  Something has happened that makes it necessary
for me to go away at once.  I cannot even wait to say good-by to you or
any one else.  I am so sorry, for I have been very happy here, and I
have tried to do my best; and there is the singing-school this week, and
the barn-raising where I promised to read them a story after supper, and
my dear school!  I love them all!  Will you please tell everybody how
sorry I am to go away like this?  You have all been so good to me, and I
shall never find a place I love so much as this, I am sure, but I truly
cannot help going.  If you knew all about it, you would understand.
Please thank Mrs. Mercer for the pretty collar she gave me that belonged
to your daughter, and tell her I will keep it always.  I am sorry to
leave you without a teacher, but there is almost a month’s pay due me,
and perhaps that will help you to get some one right away.  So please
forgive me for leaving the school just as it was when I got it.  I love
it, and wish I could stay.

Yours very gratefully,
       MARY MONTGOMERY.


After folding, addressing, and sealing this letter, she closed her desk;
then with sudden thought, as she caught Daniel’s troubled eyes upon her,
she opened it again and wrote hastily:


DEAR DANIEL:

I am having to go away in a great hurry.  I cannot say good-by to
anybody, but I must thank you for all you have done for me.  I thank you
more than words can ever tell.  You cannot know how hard it is for me to
go away from the school.  Please study hard and try to be a good boy and
then some day, when I hear of what a great man you are, I shall be so
proud to have been your teacher.  Go to college, Daniel, and be as great
a man as you can, and don’t forget that you have helped me very, very
much ever since I came here.

YOUR GRATEFUL TEACHER.


Her hand trembled as she sealed this other note.  She closed the desk
hastily and glanced at the clock.  It was one minute after closing time.
Bug Higginson was decorating the stove with a caricature of one of the
selectmen. It all looked so homely and familiar and dear, and she was to
see it no more!  The tears sprang to her eyes, and she could scarcely
control her voice to dismiss the school. She shook her head and tried to
smile when the girls asked if they might wait for her to walk home,
telling them she must stay a little while, that she had something to do.

They all filed out save Daniel, who sat quietly in his seat, watching
her with sad, puzzled eyes.  Daniel had seen the glint of a tear as she
looked at them.

"Aren’t you going home to-night, Daniel?" she asked. She was dreading
momentarily the approach of Harrington Winthrop.  She seemed to know he
would come to walk home with her.  So did Rags, who sat very stiff and
straight on the door-step, with bristling ears and eyes alert.

"Don’t you want I should stay?" asked Daniel, and his eyes hinted that
he understood she was in trouble.

"Oh, no, thank you, Daniel," she said, trying to make her voice sound
cheery and natural, but somehow it broke into almost a sob.

Daniel eyed her curiously for a moment, and then got up slowly from his
desk and went out.  He gave Rags a look as he passed.  The boy and the
dog thoroughly understood each other.  Rags did not stir.  Daniel went
down the path and out to the road; then down the road a few paces, after
which he climbed the fence back into the school-yard.  Then he walked
over to a log behind the school-house and sat down where he could watch
the road to the village.

As soon as he was gone, Dawn looked about her, caught her breath a
moment, and seemed to bid good-by to all the childish forms that had but
a few minutes before occupied the now empty benches.  Then, spying Rags
still sitting in the doorway, she took the note she had written to
Daniel and, going over to the dog, tied it around his neck with a bit of
string.  Rags got up and wagged his tail, glancing eagerly at her, then
back to the road again.

Dawn patted him lovingly.

"Take that note to Dan, Rags," she commanded.

Rags barked questioningly.  He wanted to tell her that he had been
ordered to stay with her, but she did not seem to understand.  He wagged
his tail harder, but he did not budge.

"Go, Rags, good dog.  Take that to Dan."  She pointed out the door.

Rags cast a protesting, anxious bark at her, a furtive glance down the
empty road, and hustled out the door. He reasoned that Dan was near at
hand and must settle the confliction of duties himself.  He could not
but obey the one whom he and his master alike worshipped.

The minute the dog had gone, Dawn put on her bonnet, caught up her cape
and bag, and slipped out of the door and around the school-house on the
side farthest from the village.

She fled through the back yard, crept under the lower rail of the fence,
and proceeded over into the meadow where they had coasted all winter.
In a moment more she was out of sight down the hill.  She had but to
cross the log which formed a bridge across the brook and she would enter
the woods that lay at the foot of Wintergreen Hill.  There she would be
safe and could get away without seen by any one.

Daniel cut the string which held the note and sent the dog back to his
post, while he slowly unfolded it and read, his hands trembling at the
thought that she had written and sealed it, and that it was for him.  A
great tumult of emotions went through his big, immature heart as he
tried to take it in.  He had known something would happen, and was glad
he had not gone away.

Rags hustled back to the school-house steps, but instantly he knew
something was wrong.  He looked into the empty room.  She was not there.
He smelled his way up to the desk, but could not bring her into
existence.  He snuffed his way out to the steps and down the path in a
hurry, then came back baffled, with short, sharp, worried barks, to hunt
for the scent again.  Snuff!  Snuff!  Snuff! Bark!  Rags could not
understand it.  Yes—but it was—there was the scent!  Snuff!  Snuff!
Snuff!  Bark!  Bark! He tried it over again to make sure.  The scent
went around the left of the school-house, through the girl’s
play-ground.  What could she have gone around there for at this time of
day?  Had the enemy come during his absence and stolen her away?

Rags hurried around the school, snuffing and barking, scuttled under the
fence in a hurry, and away down the hill, his bark growing more sure and
relieved every minute.

Daniel was not accustomed to receiving letters.  He grasped the meaning
of that first sentence slowly, having lingered long over the "Dear
Daniel."  But he got no further than the first sentence: "I am having to
go away in a great hurry."  He got to his feet rapidly and went around
to the school-house door.  A great fear was in his heart.  The absence
of Rags confirmed it.  He entered the deserted school-room.  No one was
there.  He stepped up to the teacher’s desk.  A letter addressed to the
minister lay there.  Daniel stood still by the teacher’s desk, his heart
filled with foreboding, and read the remainder of his own letter.  As he
finished, he heard a step outside the door, and, looking up, saw the
stranger of the morning before him.

Instinctively he reached out for the minister’s letter on the desk and
put it with his own into his coat-pocket. Then he faced the intruder
quietly, and something in his steady blue eyes reminded the man of his
morning encounter with the dog.  He felt that he had an enemy in the boy
before him.

Winthrop took off his hat and inquired suavely:

"Is Miss Van Rensselaer here?  This is the school-house, isn’t it?"

"It’s the school-house all right," answered Dan, "but there ain’t no
Miss Van Rensselaer round.  Don’t know no such person.  You must ’a’ ben
told wrong."

"Oh, no; I saw her this morning.  In fact, she must have expected me.  I
refer to the teacher of this school."

"The teacher’s Miss Montgomery—Miss Mary Montgomery—an’ she’s gone.  She
boards this week with the Peabodys’, up by the church, second house
beyond.  She hasn’t been gone from here five minutes."

"That is very strange," said the visitor.  "I just walked down past the
church and did not meet her."

"She sometimes stops a minute to see how the blacksmith’s little sick
girl is, at the corner here.  She might ’a’ gone there, but she never
stays long.  You’d best go right up to Peabody’s."

Daniel was anxious to get rid of the man, and he was certain that the
teacher had not gone in the direction of the Peabodys’, for he had
watched the road every minute until he came around to the front of the
school.

Harrington Winthrop took himself away, with a baffled look on his
imperious face.  As soon as he had passed from sight, Dan reconnoitred
the school-yard.

There was no sign of anybody.  He listened, but could not hear the dog.
He gave a long, low whistle, and instantly from the distance, toward the
woods, he heard a faint, sharp bark in answer.  He whistled again, and
again came the dog’s response.

Daniel was over the fence in a second and down the hill, not whistling
again until he reached the log across the brook.  Then the dog’s bark
was nearer, but it ended suddenly, as if some one was holding his
muzzle.  The boy thought he understood, and bounded rapidly toward the
place from which the sound seemed to have come. In a moment more he had
plunged into the darkness of the woods.



                              CHAPTER XXII


Daniel found Dawn huddled at the foot of a tree, behind a thicket of
laurel, with her bag beside her, and tears on her frightened face.

The dog had broken away from her and met him with a joyous bark, wagging
his tail and running back and forth between them, his ragged, hairy body
wriggling joyously; for had he not both of them here together, far away
from intruding strangers?  Why should not all be well now?

"Oh, Daniel!" said Dawn, in a voice that was almost a sob.  "Why did you
come after me?"

"I had to," said Dan, looking almost sullen.  "I couldn’t let you come
off alone.  Besides, you don’t need to go.  We won’t let anybody hurt
you.  I can knock that fellow into the middle of next week if you say
the word."

But the trouble was not lifted from her face.

"You are very good, and I thank you more than I can ever tell," she
answered him; "but I must go away. He is a bad man, and he thinks he has
some power over me.  It would be of no use for you to knock him into
next week, for he would be on hand again the next week to deal with.  He
would tell the minister and everybody that he had a right to take me
away, and they would all believe him.  He can make wrong things seem
right to people.  He has done it before.  I’m afraid of him.  I never
expected to meet him here.  There is nothing to do but get away where he
can’t find me.  I must get away at once, or he may follow me.  Will you
please take Rags and go back now, and will you take a letter that I left
in the school-house to the minister?  I am so sorry to go this way, but
it cannot be helped.  I must get away from that man."

"Is he—has he any right?" began Daniel lamely and then burst out: "I
mean, is he anything to you—any kind of relation, you know?"

"Nothing in the world, I’m thankful to say, and he never shall be as
long as I live.  But I never could feel safe again, now that he knows
where I am."

Dan stood puzzled and troubled.

"Say, don’t you know how you’re going to make all the school feel bad if
you go this way?  The little ones’ll wait for you to-morrow morning, and
they’ll go there to the school and you won’t be there.  We never had a
teacher that made everybody like to study before.  You oughtn’t to go
this way.  You _can’t_ go!"  He stopped, choking.

Dawn looked at him a moment, the tears gathering anew in her own eyes;
then suddenly down went her head in her hands, and she cried as if her
heart would break.

"Oh, Daniel," she said, "please don’t!  I don’t want to go.  I shall
never be as happy again, I know, and you have been so good to me!  But I
must——"

The big boy went down on his knees beside her then, and put his rough
hand reverently on hers.

"Don’t," said he.  "Don’t.  I’ve _got_ to tell you something. Perhaps
you won’t like it—I don’t know.  I’m not near as good as you, and I
don’t know as much as you do, but I’ll study hard, and go to college,
and do anything else you say, just to please you.  If you only won’t go
away.  If you’ll just stay here and let me take care of you!  I love
you, and I don’t care who knows it!  I’ve been feeling that way about
you all winter, only I thought perhaps you’d like me better when I got
more education; but now you see I’ve just got to tell you how it is.
Don’t you like me enough to stay and let me take care of you? I love
you!"

But Dawn interrupted him with a moan.

"Oh, Daniel!  You too?  Then I haven’t got anybody left.  Not a friend
in all the world!"  She sobbed afresh. Daniel dropped down on the moss
beside her in dismay. His heart grew heavy as lead within him, and the
world suddenly looked blank.

"Yes, you have," he said.  "I’ll be your friend if you won’t let me be
anything else.  I was afraid it would make you mad," he spoke
hopelessly.  "I ain’t good enough fer you, I know, but I’m strong, an’
I’d study hard and get an education, and I’ll take wonderful care of
you. You shouldn’t ever have to work.  You’re a lady.  That’s why I like
you.  You’re the prettiest thing that was ever made, an’ I’d like
nothing better’n to work hard for you all my life.  But I might ’a’
known you wouldn’t think I was good enough."  He broke off helplessly,
and she saw that his broad chest was heaving painfully and that his
usually smiling lips were quivering.

She put out her hand and laid it gently on his.

"Dear Daniel," she said, "listen!  It isn’t that at all."

He caught the cool little hand and pressed it against his eyes that were
burning hot with boyish tears he was ashamed to shed.  It was years
since tears had been in those eyes.  He had almost forgotten the smart
of them. He had scorned the thought of them even in his babyhood, yet
here, just when he longed to be a man, they came to make his shame
complete.

"Listen, Dan," said Dawn earnestly.  "It isn’t that at all.  You’re good
and dear enough for anybody, and I do love you, too, for you’ve been
very good to me.  I love you for yourself, too, but not in that way,
Dan, for I love some one else.  I loved him first and shall always love
him, and—and—I belong to him.  I couldn’t belong to any one else, you
know, after that.  I’m sorry, Dan, so sorry you feel bad about it, but
you see how it is.  I _belonged_ to some one else first."

"Is it _him_?" he blurted out fiercely.

"Oh, no, Dan!  Oh, no!  I’m very, very thankful it isn’t that man.  If
it were, I should die.  I couldn’t love him.  You wouldn’t think I
could!"

There was silence in the quiet woods for a moment.

"It ain’t Sile Dobson?" he asked fearfully at last.

Dawn’s laugh burst out softly then.

"Oh, Dan!  You know better than that.  You knew without asking.  How
could any one love him?  No, Dan; the one I belong to is fine and grand
and noble—everything he ought to be."

"Then, why doesn’t he take care of you?" burst forth Dan indignantly.
"I wouldn’t let you teach school if you belonged to me, and I wouldn’t
let that fellow frighten you.  He can’t be all you say, or he’d take
care of you."

Dawn’s cheeks were very red.

"He doesn’t know where I am," she said softly.  "I went away
because—well, it was for a good reason.  It was for his sake.  I had to
go.  Things had happened.  I can’t tell you about it, but it would have
made him trouble if I had stayed."

Dan sat looking at her steadily, a great, wistful yearning in his eyes.

"I guess you’re wrong ’bout that," he said thoughtfully. "I guess he’d
rather have you _an’_ the trouble, than to have no trouble without you.
Leastways, I would, an’ ef he don’t love you that way, he ain’t much
account."

A troubled look came into Dawn’s eyes.  It was the first time she had
questioned, from Charles’s standpoint, the wisdom of her running way.

"It would have made a lot of trouble all around," she said, shaking her
head doubtfully.

"Say, look here!" said Dan, sitting up suddenly. "You tell me where that
fellow is, an’ I’ll go tell him all about you, and how that other fellow
is worrying you, and how you need him to take care o’ you; an’ then if
he don’t seem to want to find you and look out for you, why, I won’t
tell him where you are.  I’ll come back and take care of you myself, any
way.  You needn’t like me nor anything if you don’t want to, but I ain’t
going to stand having you off running around the world, frightened of
that fellow all the time, not if I have to chop him up myself.  I tell
you, I _love_ you!"

Dan’s blue eyes were flashing, and his cheeks were red with
determination.  He had let go of her hand as if it were a gracious favor
she had bestowed upon him for the moment in his dire distress, and he
had no right to keep it, but Dawn put it out again and laid it on his
gently.

"Daniel, you are my dear friend for always, and I am glad to feel that
you would take care of me if you could, but truly there is nothing you
can do.  I would not have you go to him for the world.  He must not know
where I am, nor be troubled ever by any thought of me.  It was for that
I came away.  You would grieve me more than I can tell you if you did.
I want him to forget me, because it could only make him trouble if he
found me. He would _have_ to come to me.  He would want to come, I know,
if you told him.  But I don’t want him to come. You don’t understand, of
course, and I mustn’t tell you any more, only there is nothing can be
done but for me to go away and find a place somewhere where no one can
find me.  Then people will forget, and I shall not bring any trouble or
disgrace on him—though it wasn’t at all my fault," she added.  "I want
you to know that, Daniel."

"Of course," growled Dan, looking down at the little hand on his as if
it were an angel’s and might be wafted away with a breath.  "But I’m
going with you myself, then, and see you to some safe place."

"Oh, but you mustn’t, Dan.  I couldn’t let you.  It wouldn’t be right,
you know.  People would think it very strange."

"People needn’t know anything about it.  I don’t need to talk to you.  I
can keep far enough away to see that no one hurts you, till you get a
good, safe place."

"But, Dan, the folks at your home?  They would think we had gone away
together!  I do not want them to think wrong of me, even if I’m not
there to bear it."

Dan was baffled.  He saw at once that it would not do. He must go back
and bear the loneliness and the thought of her fighting her own battles.

"Well, I’ll go with you now, any way," he said at last, with
determination.  "I’ll see you safe to some coach somewhere, an’ come
back in the night.  I can get to my room without Mother hearing me.  She
never worries about me now any more, an’ don’t stay awake to listen for
me.  She’ll never know when I get in.  I’ll go back an’ tell ’em I
helped carry your bag across country to Cherry Valley coach, or
somewhere.  I’ve got the parson’s letter here in my pocket.  That
villain came to the school-house after you, an’ I picked up the letter
so he wouldn’t see it."

"Oh, did he come to the school after me?  Then perhaps he has followed
us.  Dan, I must go quickly!"

"Come on," said Dan, as though he were proposing to walk to his death.
At least, he was not to leave her yet. He picked up her bag, and helped
her to her feet; then, still holding the hand by which he had helped her
up, he bent over and kissed it reverently.  Then he straightened up with
a royal look of manhood in his eyes and turned to her:

"You won’t mind that just once, will you?  That hand did a whole lot fer
me, beginning when it gave me that first licking."

Dawn smiled sadly.  Then with sudden impulse she reached up, caught his
face between her hands, drew it down to her own, and gently, seriously,
kissed him upon the forehead as if it were a sacred rite.

"I love you, Dan," she said.  "I’m so sorry it can’t be the kind of love
you want.  But I’ll be your dear friend always.  I never had a brother.
Perhaps I might call you my brother.  It would be nice to have a brother
like you. You have been very, _very_ good to me, and I shall never
forget it."

Dan looked at her as if she had laid a benediction upon him.  After all,
he was young, and it was much to have her friendship.  And if another
had her love, at least he, Daniel, was on the spot and might help her
now, which went a great way toward making him feel better about the
other fellow.  The boy had begun to have a lurking pity for him,
besides.  And who was he, Daniel, that he should hope to hold a girl
like this for himself?  It was much that he had known her.  It was right
that she should have a lover such as she had described—"fine and grand
and noble."  Almost the great heart of the boy-lover felt he could take
them both in and care for them, and bring them together, perhaps—who
knew?

They hurried through the woods, the boy directing the way now, and she
depending upon him.  He decided that It would be well for her to take a
certain stage line that could be reached only by a good walk of several
miles across the country.  He knew the way, and she was only too glad to
have a guide.

That was Dan’s great day of happiness.  For years afterward he
remembered every little incident.  He seemed to know while it was all
happening that it was a special gift granted him in view of the sorrow
and sacrifice he must pass through.  His was no passing love of a boy.
He realized that the girl beside him was one in a thousand, and that it
was enough for a lifetime just to have known her, and to be able to
remember one such perfect afternoon as this.

To Dawn, it was given to understand her power for that brief season, and
to use it to its utmost for the boy’s good.  She talked to him earnestly
about himself and his future, and urged him to make the utmost of every
opportunity.  She made him understand that he had the gift of leading
others, and that some day he might take a great stand in the world for
some cause of Right against Wrong, when others would flock to his
standard and let him lead them to victory.  It was an unusual thing that
a girl like Dawn should see his possibilities and point him to a great
ambition, but Dawn was an unusual girl.

Some girls, even though they might have done no real wrong, would have
taken advantage of the boy’s confessed love, and have coquetted with
him.  Dawn treated him with the utmost gentleness, as if she understood
the pain she must inflict, and would fain give him something fine to
take the place of what he had lost.

When they came to a hill they took hold of hands and raced down.  When
they came to a brook he helped her gravely across, just as he had helped
her ever since she came to teach the school.  He said no more about his
love. It was understood between them that it was a closed incident, to
be put away in the sacred recesses of their hearts. Into the girl’s face
had come a tender, womanly interest that for the time being almost made
up to the boy for the loss of her.  It was while they were walking down
a long stretch of brown road, straight into a glorious sunset, that the
boy asked quite suddenly:

"Has he been to college?"

Dawn knew at once whom he meant, and began simply to tell all about
Charles.  It did her good to speak of him. It seemed to bring him
nearer.  Her face blossomed into sweetness as she talked.  There was not
much to say, not much about him that she could tell to a stranger, from
her one brief day’s acquaintance with her husband, yet she managed to
say a good deal.  Charles would have been amazed to hear her describe
his high ambitions and noble thoughts.  He did not dream how well the
girl had read him during their one blissful day together.  And now she
was painting him as an ideal for the rude boy who walked beside her and
listened, with his heart filled with patient envy; that presently lost
its bitterness in pity for the other one, who might have her great love,
yet might not walk beside her as he was doing.

At last Dan broke in upon her words:

"’Tisn’t right he shouldn’t know where you are.  If he’s anything like
what you think he is, he’s ’most crazy hunting you.  I know how he
feels."

Dawn shook her head sadly and told him he did not understand, but his
words sank into her heart for future meditation, and she could not quite
get away from the thought that perhaps she had been wrong, after all, in
going away.  Perhaps it might have been more heroic to stay and face the
hard things right where she had been.

The long spring twilight had almost faded into darkness as they came at
last to the inn where the coach would pass.  Neither had spoken for some
time.  There was upon them a sense of their coming separation, and it
depressed them.  Already Dawn was looking into her lonely future, and
dreading to lose this only friend she had. Already Dan was realizing
what the going back was to be.

They had arranged it all.  Dan was to take the letter to the minister,
and explain that he had helped the teacher to catch a cross-country
stage.  He had taken it upon himself, also, to carry messages to the
scholars and to her kind friends—brief messages of good-by, and haste,
and sorrow; with the promise, too, at Dan’s earnest solicitation, that
if she ever could she would return to them.

Then at the end they had no time for parting.  The stage was just
driving up to the inn as they reached there. There was no time even for
supper, though neither of them thought of it at the time.

Dan put her into the coach and arranged her bag comfortably, but he had
to get out at once, as others were pressing in.  He went outside in the
dim light and stood by her window, looking up, trying to keep Rags from
breaking away and getting into the coach.  Something in his throat
choked him.  He could not speak.

The people were all in, and the driver was climbing to his place, when
Dawn reached out her hand and caught Dan’s, giving it a quick little
squeeze.

"Dear Dan," she whispered as she leaned out, "don’t forget to be the
best you can."

He caught the little hand and laid his lips against it in the
half-darkness.  Rags had broken away and was barking wildly at the coach
door, but the horses started and took Dawn away from the boy and the
dog, and in a moment more they stood alone in the road, looking down the
street at the dim black speck in the distance which was the coach.

Then slowly, silently, the one with downcast head, the other with
drooping tail, Daniel and his dog took their way back over the road they
had come so happily that afternoon.  The dog could not understand, and
now and then stopped, looked back, and whined, as if to say they ought
to go back and do things over again.  At last, when they reached the
country roadside where all was still, and there were only the brooding
stars to see, Dan sat down on a bank by the roadside, buried his face in
his hands, and both down upon the cool, wet earth that was just
beginning to spring into greenness.  Then he gave way to his grief,
while Rags, almost beside himself with distress, whined about him,
snuffed up and down the road, and then sat down and howled at the late
moon, which was just rising over a hill.

By and by Dan got up and called the dog.  Together they started on their
journey again, a silent, thoughtful pair.  But never afterward did the
boy Dan return.  He was a man.  He had suffered and grown.  In his face
were born resolve and determination.  People wondered at the change in
the careless, happy boy, and grew proud of his thoughtfulness.



                             CHAPTER XXIII


The night that Dawn left her husband’s home marked the beginning of an
era of sorrow in the history of the Winthrops.

The distracted young husband and his father rode all night long.

Charles reached the Van Rensselaers’ home a little sooner than old Mr.
Winthrop, who had further to go. The young man’s white, drawn face
startled Mrs. Van Rensselaer as he stood to greet her in the gloomy
parlor, where the scent of the wedding roses still lingered.

She was in workaday attire, to set her house in order and prepare for
what she hoped was to be a season of peace in her hitherto tempestuous
life.  Dawn was off her hands finally, she felt, and she had no serious
forebodings concerning her share in the matter.  The hard part had been
to get the girl off without her finding out the trick that had been
played on her.  It had amazed the step-mother that her plan had worked
so well.  She had been prepared for the discovery to be made soon after
the ceremony, but she had trusted to Dawn’s fear of publicity, and
Charles’s evident infatuation, to hush the matter up.  Mrs. Van
Rensselaer had been reasonably sure that she could even keep it from her
husband’s knowledge, though she was prepared with a plausible story in
case he remonstrated. His sense of pride would make him readily
persuadable to almost any plan that would hide their mortification from
curious friends.  She had been sure that she could make him see that the
whole thing had been done for his daughter’s good.  And now that the
step-mother had succeeded even better than she had hoped, in getting the
couple off on their wedding trip without either one discovering her
duplicity, she had been at rest about the matter.  Charles was enough in
love to be able to make everything all right, and he would never blame
her for having furthered his plans, even though not quite in the way he
had arranged. Dawn could not fail to be pleased with the husband her
step-mother had secured for her, and even would thank her in later life,
perhaps, for having helped her to him.

And so Mrs. Van Rensselaer had gone placidly about the house, putting
things to rights, and enjoying the prospect of a comfortable future
without the fear of an unloved step-daughter’s presence haunting her.

But when she saw Charles’s face a pang of fear shot through her and left
her trembling with apprehension. His voice sounded hollow and accusatory
when he spoke:

"Is Dawn here, Mrs. Van Rensselaer?"

A thousand possibilities rushed through the woman’s brain at once, and
she felt herself brought suddenly before an awful judgment bar.  What
had she done?  How had she dared?  How swift was retribution!  Not even
one whole day of satisfaction, after all her trouble!

She tried to summon a natural voice, but it would not come.  Her throat
felt dry, and as if it did not belong to her, as she answered:

"Here?  No.  How could she be here?  Didn’t you take her away?"

The young man sat down suddenly in the nearest chair with a groan, and
dropped his head into his hands.  The woman stood silent, frightened,
before him.

"Mrs. Van Rensselaer, what have you done?  Why did you do it?"

"Well, really, what have I done?"  The sharp voice of the woman returned
to combat as soon as the accusation pricked her into anger.  "I’m sure I
helped you to get a wife you seemed to want bad enough and never would
have got if I hadn’t managed affairs.  You haven’t any idea how hard she
was to manage or you’d understand. It was a very trying situation, and
it isn’t every woman could have made things go as well as I did—not to
have a soul outside your family know there had been a change of
bridegrooms.  You see, none of our friends had ever seen your brother,
and as the name was the same there were no explanations necessary."

"Mrs. Van Rensselaer, I would never have married Dawn against her will.
It was not right for you to deceive her.  She ought to have been told
just how things stood, and what my brother had done."

"H’m!  And had a pretty mess, with her crying and saying she wouldn’t
marry anybody, and all the wedding guests coming?  Young man, you don’t
know what you’re talking about.  That girl isn’t easy to manage, and I
guess you’ve found it out already.  She’s like a flea: when you think
you have her, she’s somewhere else.  I knew something desperate would
have to be done before she ever settled down and accepted life as it had
to be, and I did it, that’s all.  Well, what’s the matter, any way?
Have you got tired of your bargain already and turned her out of your
house?"

Mrs. Van Rensselaer was exasperated and frightened. She scarcely knew
what she was saying.  Any moment her husband might come into the house.
If she could only get the interview over before he came, and perhaps
hide at least a part of the story from him!  She dreaded his terrible
temper.  She had always had an innate presentiment that some time that
temper would be let loose against her, and she knew now the moment was
come.

Charles looked up with his handsome and usually kindly eyes blazing with
amazement and indignation:

"Mrs. Van Rensselaer, my wife has gone away.  We have searched all night
and cannot find her.  I was sure she had come home.  Oh, what shall I
do?"

"Well, I’m sure I don’t see how I’m to blame for her having left you,"
snapped out Mrs. Van Rensselaer.  "I did my part and made sure you got
her.  You ought to have been able to keep her after you had her.  How’d
she come to leave you?"

"I cannot tell exactly.  She went up to see Mother a few minutes after
supper, and then——"

"Oh!" said Mrs. Van Rensselaer, with disagreeable significance.

"And then we could not find her," went on Charles, unheeding.  "She left
a note with good-by.  That was all.  I have no clue."

The front door opened, and Mr. Van Rensselaer walked in.  His face was
white, for he had not slept well.  In a dream his dead wife had stood
before him and seemed to be taking him to task about her child, the
daughter who left her father’s house but a few hours before.  He had
gone out for the morning mail, hoping to get rid of the phantoms that
pursued his steps, but his head was throbbing.

How much he had heard of what they had been saying, they did not know.
He stood before them white and stern-looking, glancing from one to the
other of the two in the dim parlor.

"Where is my daughter?" he asked.

"She is gone, Mr. Van Rensselaer," answered Charles pitifully.  "I have
searched for her all night long.  I hoped she was here."

"Gone?" repeated the father in a strange, far-away voice; then he
wavered for an instant, and fell at their feet, as if dead.  The
accusations of his own heart had reached their mark.  The iron will
yielded at last to the finger of God.

They carried him to his bed and called the doctor. Confusion reigned in
the house.  The old doctor shook his head and called it apoplexy.  Mr.
Van Rensselaer was still living, and might linger for some time, but it
would be a living death.

And so, while he lay upon his bed, breathing, but dead to the world
about him, they made what plans they could to find his daughter.
Charles’s father came in sadly, reporting no success in the search.
They started out once more after a brief rest.

Mrs. Van Rensselaer was in no condition to help them now.  She had her
hands full, poor woman.  One thing had been spared her: her husband did
not know her part in the disappearance of his daughter.  Perhaps he
might never need to know; yet as she went about ministering to that
silent, living dead, whom she had loved beyond anything earthly, her
heart was full of bitterness and fear.

The months that followed were terrible to Charles. After a few days of
keeping the matter quiet and hoping they would find her by themselves,
they made the disappearance public, and the whole countryside joined in
the search.

The greatest drawback to success was that so few people had seen Dawn
since she grew up.  The servants in her father’s house had seen her
during the week she had been home from school, but scarcely any one else
except for a passing glance on the street.  All searching was in vain.
There were notices put in the papers of that region.  They sent to her
old school for knowledge of her; they left no stone unturned.  And the
wonder of it is that Dawn’s friend, the minister, or some of the
selectmen, especially Silas Dobson, did not see the notices that
appeared in New York papers and in those of smaller towns, and connect
the mysterious disappearance with the new teacher that had come to their
village.  But the old clergyman had vouched for her, and there was
apparently no mystery about her.  This good man did not often have
opportunity to read papers of other towns, save his regular weekly
religious sheet.  Then, too, the place where Dawn had found refuge was
small and insignificant, and not on the line of most travel.  She could
not have been better sheltered from the searchers.

It was the day after Charles had been to see the body of a young woman
who had been found in the river some fifty miles distant from his home,
that he became ill with typhoid fever.

Not for a day had he rested or given up his search. When one clue
failed, he went to the next with restless, feverish energy, and a
haunted look in his eyes.  The boy had become a man, and the man was
bearing a heavy burden.  His father saw it, and grieved for him.  His
mother saw it, and accused herself.  His sisters saw it, and did their
best to help him.  Betty was constantly thinking up new plans for the
search, and saying comforting, cheering things to her brother.  Charles
loved her dearly for it, but nothing brought relief.  His affection for
Dawn had been such as rarely grows in a human heart, even after years of
acquaintance.  It had sprung full-bloomed into being, and filled his
whole soul.  It is said that to the average man love is but an incident,
while to a woman it is the whole of life.  If that be so, there are
exceptions, and Charles was one of them.  He kept his love for his
girl-wife as the greatest thing life had for him, and thought of nothing
else day or night but to find her.

No one dared to suggest his going back to college.  That would be to
admit that the search was hopeless, and that might prove fatal to
Charles.  The neighbors had begun to shake their heads and pity him.  It
was even whispered that the girl might have run away with another man,
though no one ventured to say such a thing in the hearing of the family.

If it had been in these days of telegraphs and telephones, railroads and
detectives, it would have been but a matter of days until they had found
her, but in those times travel and search were long and hard.  There
seemed little hope.  It was the third dead face which Charles had
searched for likeness to the girl he loved.  He came home worn and
exhausted, his spirit utterly discouraged and weary, and he was an easy
prey to the disease which gripped him from the first in its most violent
form.

Silence and sadness settled down upon the Winthrop household while the
life of Charles was held in the balance. The father carried on the
search for the lost wife more vigorously than ever, believing that the
sight of her might bring his boy back even from the grave; but nothing
developed.

News from the Van Rensselaers gave no hope of the paralyzed man’s
recovery.  He was lying like a thing of stone, unable to move.  He could
not even make a sound. Only his eyes followed his tormented wife, like
haunting spirits sent to condemn her.  The face was set in its stern
expression, like a fallen statue of his proud, imperious self.

It was mid-winter before Charles began slowly to creep back to life, and
there was still no clue to Dawn.  They dreaded to have him ask about
her; though they had noticed how he had searched their faces every
morning after consciousness returned to him.  He knew as well as they
that nothing had been accomplished toward finding her.

One day he seemed more cheerful and a little stronger, and called old
Mr. Winthrop to his side.

"Father," said he, "I’ve been thinking that perhaps she’d not like to
come back here, the way she feels about it.  There was a little white
house on the hills beyond Albany that we noticed as we came along on the
train. We both said we should like to live there among the trees. Would
you be willing that I should take the money Grandfather left to me and
buy that little house for her to come to?  Then I could put a notice in
the papers telling her it was ready, and perhaps she would see it and
understand."

The old man’s heart was heavy, for he had begun to believe that Dawn was
no longer in the land of the living; but he would have consented to any
plan that would comfort his boy and give him a new interest in life, and
so as soon as Charles was able to travel they went together to purchase
the small farm and little white house.  The next day there appeared in
the New York papers this notice, which was printed many weeks and copied
into numerous village papers:


Dawn, the little white house we saw near Albany is ready for us.  Write
and tell me where to find you.  CHARLES.


But nothing ever came in answer, though Charles watched every mail with
feverish anxiety; and he still kept up his search in other directions.
So the spring crept on, and almost it was a year since Dawn had left
him.



                              CHAPTER XXIV


Dawn had been in New York two months, after various trying experiences
in getting there, and all that time she had been unable to find anything
to do by which she could earn her living.

The miserable little boarding place, the best she could afford, was
growing more and more uncomfortable as the hot weather came on.  Dawn
was thin and worn and sad. Her money which she had earned during the
winter, and which she had always carried sewed inside her garments, was
fast melting away.  A few more weeks, and she would be penniless.  She
began to wonder what would come next, and to question whether it would
not have been better to stay with the school, and trust the old minister
and Daniel to protect her from Harrington Winthrop.  But always, after
thinking it over, she decided that she could not have been safe when he
knew her whereabouts.

There was one other thing which troubled her constantly now.  It was
that sentence of Daniel’s: "He’d rather have you _and_ the trouble, than
to have no trouble without you."  Was it true?  Did Charles love her
that way?  Was she giving him trouble by staying away? "If he’s anything
like you say he is, he’s most crazy hunting you," Daniel had said.  Was
_that_ true, too?  Could he be hunting her yet?  Had she been wrong in
coming away?  Gradually she came to admit to herself that there might
have been a better way.  She might have made a mistake.  But it was too
late now to remedy it.  She could not go back on her promise that she
would trouble him no more.  She could not bring added disgrace to him
now that she had stayed away all these months and everybody must know
it.  Oh, how long and hard life was! And then she once more went wearily
at her task of hunting a position.


Slowly, stealthily, up from the south; strangely, unexpectedly, down
from the Canadian border, there crept a grim spectre of death.  Heard of
from afar with indifference at first, it gradually grew more terrifying
as it drew nearer.  Now and then the death of a well-known victim caused
uneasiness to become more manifest.

Hotter grew the sun, and nearer drew the spectre.  The daily papers
contained advice for protection against it. The cities cleaned their
streets and warned their citizens. The temperance societies called
attention to the fact that hard drinkers were in more danger than
others.  Meat and milk and vegetables were carefully inspected.  Water
was boiled.  Cheerfulness was put on like a garment, and assurance was
flaunted everywhere.  People were told to keep up a good heart and keep
clean, and there was little danger.  Still the spectre crept nearer,
laying hands upon its victims, and daily the reports grew more alarming.
It was near the end of June when the ministers met in New York and
petitioned the President to appoint a general day of fasting and prayer
to avert the oncoming pestilence. Andrew Jackson replied that it was in
their line, not his, to decide whether this matter was important enough
to bring to the notice of the Almighty, and he left it in their hands.
The days went by, and the spectre crept on. The Governors of the States
began to appoint days of prayer.  At last the cholera was a recognized
fact.  It had come to do its worst.  The newspapers abandoned their talk
of its impossibility, and set about making the best of things,
describing the precautions to be taken, the preliminary symptoms, and
the best method of treatment. For a time, during the latter part of June
and the early part of July, it was hoped that by vigilance and care it
could be kept out of New York City.  The worst of the pestilence was in
the Southern States, though it had made great ravages as far north as
Cincinnati.  And from Canada it was spreading south into New York State.
Here and there a little town would have a single case, which would send
terror throughout the county, and daily the number grew greater.

Charles was looking worn and thin.  He had bought the little house, and
had had it renovated.  It was furnished now, and waiting for the bride
who did not come.  His heart grew sick with the great fear that was
growing within him, the fear that he should never find her on this
earth. Of late, a new worry had come to him.  A letter had come to his
father from Harrington’s wife, saying that she was destitute, as her
husband had deserted her again. He had stayed with her but a week after
he brought her home, though he had promised many things.

In spite of himself, Charles could not get it out of his mind that
Harrington had spirited Dawn away somewhere. He did not doubt her for an
instant.  He would not let himself think that she might still have some
lurking love for the man who had not scrupled to do her a wrong.  He
laid all blame, if blame there was, upon his brother. Harrington had
sometimes appropriated his younger brother’s boyish treasures to his own
use when they were both younger, and Charles had no doubt he would not
hesitate to do thus even with his brother’s wife, were such a thing
possible.

Sometimes the remembrance of the terror in Dawn’s eyes when she asked
about Harrington and where she would have to meet him, made Charles
fairly writhe, and he felt that he must fly somewhere, to the ends of
the earth if need be, and find her.

He lay on the couch in the library one warm evening in early July.
Betty sat beside him, reading the New York paper which had just been
brought by the evening coach. She was trying to distract his mind from
the ever-present sorrow over which he seemed to brood every minute when
he was not in actual motion trying to find his wife.  This evening there
was a deeper gloom over them on account of having received that morning
news of the death of Mr. Van Rensselaer.

Charles lay still, with his face shaded from the candlelight, and let
Betty read.  He was paying little heed, but it made Betty happier to
think that she was helping him to bear his pain.  The little sister’s
sympathy was a great comfort, and so if she could think she was helping
him, he was glad.  He was occupied in trying to think out a plan for
finding Harrington, just to make sure that he knew nothing about Dawn.

"Here’s something about the new railroad, Charles. Shall I read that, or
would you rather have me read _Parley’s Magazine_ than the
_Commercial-Advertiser_?"

"Oh, read the _Commercial-Advertiser_, by all means," said Charles,
trying to rouse himself to take an interest for Betty’s sake.  His head
was aching, and he was weary in both body and soul.

"Well, listen to this, Charles.  Isn’t this wonderful? They’ve completed
the railroad from Saratoga to Ballston. They can go eight miles in
twenty-eight minutes!  Think of that beside the stage-coach travelling!
It takes only an hour and five minutes to go from Ballston to
Schenectady, and you can go from Albany to Saratoga in three hours.  Who
would ever have believed it true?  Do you suppose it is true, or have
they exaggerated?"

"Oh, I guess they can do it," said Charles, with a sigh.  The new
railroad made him think of his wedding journey.  Oh, to take it over
again and never let his bride out of his sight!

Betty read on:


"Governor Howard, of Maryland, has set July 4th as a day of prayer that
the cholera may decline.  Governor Cass says——"


but a low moan from Charles made her fly to another column to distract
his mind:

"Here’s the report of the meeting of the Foreign Mission Board in New
York.  Would you like to hear that? It looks interesting.  The evening
address was made by the Honorable Stephen Van Rensselaer.  Why——"  Betty
stopped in dismay, but Charles answered the wonder in her tone quietly:

"Yes, Betty, Stephen Van Rensselaer is a cousin of Mr. Van Rensselaer.
He is a fine speaker.  Read about it."

But Charles did not attend, though Betty rattled off a lot of statistics
glibly, inwardly blaming herself for constantly coming upon things that
would remind Charles of his loss.


"There are twelve missions now, with fifty-five stations, under the
Board.  Seven are in India, two in Asia, four in the Mediterranean,
seven in the Sandwich Islands, twenty-seven among the southwestern
Indians, four among the northeastern Indians, and four among the Indians
of New York State.  There are seventy-five missionaries, four
physicians, four printers, eighteen teachers, twenty farmers and
mechanics, and one hundred and thirty-one females, married and single,
sent out from this country."


"My!  Isn’t that a lot!" commented Betty.

Just below the report of the missionary meeting was a brief paragraph.
She plunged into it without stopping to glance it over.


"_Disappeared_.  A female dressed in a white straw bonnet trimmed with
white satin ribbon, a black silk gown, white crêpe shawl with flowered
border, black silk stockings, and chocolate-colored parasol."


"Oh!" cried Betty in dismay, and then went wildly on to the next column,
not daring to look at her brother:


"The Honorable William Wort has purchased a plantation in Florida, and
is going to work it with hired hands.  This will do more toward opening
the eyes of the slaveholders than all the declamatory efforts of the
free States since the adoption of the Constitution."


"That is quoted from the _United States Gazette_, Charles, and the
editor of this paper has a long, dry-looking comment on it.  Do you want
to hear it?"

Betty looked uneasily at her brother, but his white face was turned
toward the wall.

"Here’s an article about Barnabas Bidwell, and something about General
Prosper Wetmore.  Doesn’t father know General Wetmore, Charles?"  Betty
felt she was not getting on well at all.

"I believe he does," answered her brother patiently, and then the
knocker sounded insistently through the house, and Charles came to an
upright position in an instant.  He seemed ever to be thus on the alert
for something to happen.  And this time something did happen.

A negro boy stood at the door with a note scrawled on a leaf from a
memorandum-book.  He said he was to give it to Mr. Winthrop at once.  As
his father was out, Charles read it.  Betty held the candle for him to
see.  It was badly written, with pale ink.  Betty’s hand trembled and
made the candle waver.  She felt that something momentous was in the
air.

"Come to me at once.  I’m desperately ill.—Harrington," read the note.
It was like the writer to command and expect to be obeyed.

Charles pressed the note into Betty’s hand, saying, "Give it to Father
as soon as he comes, and don’t let Mother or Aunt Martha know."  Then he
seized his hat and sprang out into the night, urging his escort into a
run, and demanding an explanation as he went.

But the boy could tell little of what was the matter. He knew only that
he had been sent in great haste, and that the gentleman was very sick.

The night was still and warm.  There was a yellow haze over the world,
and a sultry feeling in the air. People had been remarking all day how
warm it was for the season of year.

Charles plunged through the night with only one thought in mind.  He was
to see his brother in a few minutes, and he must take every means to
find out whether he had any knowledge of Dawn.  His whole soul was bent
on the purpose that had been his main object in life during the past
year.

It occurred to him that Harrington might be in need of medical
attendance, though that was a sort of secondary consideration at the
time.  So he sent the negro boy after their family physician.  He
himself went on alone to the inn, some two miles from the village, where
the boy said his brother was stopping.

When Charles reached the inn he found a group of excited people gathered
near the steps, and the word "cholera" floated to his ears, but it meant
little to him.

In a moment he was standing by his brother’s bedside.

Harrington turned away from him with a groan.

"Is it only you?" he muttered angrily.  "I sent for Father."

"Father was not in.  He will come as soon as he returns.  I will do
anything you want done.  I have sent for the doctor.  But before I do
anything, you must answer me one question.  Do you know where Dawn is?
Have you seen her since the day of the wedding?"

Harrington turned bloodshot eyes upon his brother.

"Who is Dawn?" he sneered.  "Oh, I see!  You mean Miss Van Rensselaer.
Yes, I remember you were smitten with her the only time you ever saw
her.  I believe in my soul it was you who cheated me out of my little
game, and not Alberta at all.  Well, it doesn’t matter.  I’ve got
something better on the string now, if I ever get out of this cursed
hole.  Let the doll-faced baby go.  She wasn’t worth all the trouble it
took to keep track of her."

Then suddenly he was seized in the vise of an awful agony, and cried out
with oaths and curses.

Down below his window a group of huddled negroes heard, and a shudder
went through them.  They drew away, and whispered in sepulchral tones.

Charles stood over his brother in helpless horror until the agony was
passed, and Harrington gasped out:

"Go for the doctor, you fool!  Do you want to see me die before your
eyes?"

Charles’s voice was grave and commanding as he stood over his brother
and demanded once more:

"Answer me, Harrington.  Have you seen her since the day of the wedding?
Answer me quickly.  I will help you just as soon as I know all.  I shall
not do a thing until you tell me."

A groan and a curse were all the answer he got, and a cold frenzy seized
him, lest he should never get Harrington to tell what he knew.  He
understood that his brother was a very sick man.  Great beads of
perspiration stood upon his forehead.

"Get me some whiskey, you brute!" cried out the stricken man.  "That
awful agony is coming again.  Well, if you must know, she’s teaching
school in a little forsaken village over beyond Schoharie—Butternuts,
they call it.  At least, she was till I appeared on the scene.  Then she
made away with herself somehow.  I stayed three days, waiting for her,
but she didn’t come back.  I stopped off last week, and the people said
she’d never returned.  No one knew anything about her but a tow-headed
boy who called himself Daniel and said he helped carry her bag to the
stage-coach.  Now get me that whiskey quick.  I feel the pain coming
again."

Charles turned without a word and dashed downstairs to the landlady,
demanding hot water and blankets.  He knew little about illness, save
what his mother’s semi-invalid state had taught him, but he had read
enough in the papers lately to make him sure that Harrington had the
cholera, and he knew that whiskey was not a remedy.  Before he could
return to his brother the doctor arrived, and together they went up to
the sick man, who was writhing in agony, and again demanding whiskey.

The old doctor shook his head when he saw the patient.

"He has indulged in that article far too much already," he said.

Then began a night of horror, followed by a day of stupor on the part of
the patient.  The doctor had said from the start that it was cholera,
and that the disease was almost always fatal to persons of intemperate
habits. Charles held himself steadily to the task of the moment, and
tried to still the calling of his heart to fly at once and find Dawn.
Not another word had he been able to get from his brother.  The pain had
been so intolerable that Harrington had been unable to speak, and little
by little he grew delirious until he did not recognize any of them.  At
times he cried out as if in wild carouse.  Once or twice he called
"Alberta!" in an angry tone, then muttered Mr. Van Rensselaer’s name.
Never once did he speak the name of Dawn.  This fact gave Charles
unspeakable relief.

All through the night and day the doctor, the brother, and the father
worked side by side, but each knew from the first that there was no
hope, and at evening he died.

They buried Harrington Winthrop in the old lot where rested the mortal
remains of other more worthy members of the family; and the father
turned away with bowed head and broken heart for such an ending to his
elder son’s misspent life, and kept saying over to himself, "Has it been
my fault?  Has it been my fault?"

They were almost home when Charles, who had been silent and thoughtful,
touched the older man on the shoulder.

"Father, shall you mind my going away at once?" he asked.  "I have a
clue, and must follow it."

Mr. Winthrop lifted his grief-stricken head, and, looking at his son
tenderly, said:

"Go, my boy, and may you gain your heart’s desire!"



                              CHAPTER XXV


The next evening at sunset Charles stood beside the Butterworth gate,
about to enter, when Daniel came out. The boy had finished his early
supper, and was going to the village on an errand.  His face was grave
and thoughtful, as always since the teacher’s departure.

Charles watched him coming down to the gate, and liked his broad
shoulders, and the blue eyes under his curly yellow lashes as he looked
up.

"Are you Daniel Butterworth?" asked Charles.

"I am," said Dan, eying him keenly.

"Are you the one"—Charles was going to say "boy," but that did not seem
to apply exactly to this grave young fellow—"are you the one who carried
the teacher’s baggage to the stage-coach when she went away so
suddenly?"

Charles had studied the question carefully.  He did not know by what
name Dawn had gone, whether she had used his or kept her own maiden
name, or had assumed still another.  He would not cast a shadow of
reflection upon her, or risk his chance of finding her by using the
wrong name, therefore he called her "the teacher."  On inquiring about
her at the inn where the stage-coach stopped, he had been referred at
once to Peggy Gillette, who immediately guided him to the point in the
road where he could see the Butterworth house.

Daniel started, and looked the stranger over suspiciously. There was a
something about this clean-faced, long, strong fellow that reminded him
a little, just a very little, of the scoundrel who had frightened the
teacher away; yet he instinctively liked this man, and felt that he was
to be trusted.  Rags, too, generally suspicious of strangers, had been
smelling and snuffing about this man, and now stood wagging his tail
with a smile on his homely, shaggy face.  Rags’s judgment was generally
to be trusted.

"I might be," responded Daniel slowly, "and then again I mightn’t.  Who
are you?"

Charles understood that the boy was testing him, and he liked him the
better for it.  His heart warmed toward the one who had protected Dawn.

"That’s all right," responded Charles heartily.  "I’m ready to identify
myself.  I’m one who loves her better than my life, and I’ve done
nothing for a year but search for her."

He let Daniel see the depth of his meaning in his eyes, as the boy
looked keenly, wistfully, into his face. Daniel was satisfied, and with
a great sigh of renunciation, he said:

"I knew it, I told her so.  I knew you would be half crazy, hunting her.
You’re the one she said she belonged to, aren’t you?"

A great light broke over Charles’s face, bringing out all the beauty of
his soul, all the lines of character that suffering had set upon his
youth, and that love had wrought into his fibre.

"Oh, Daniel, bless you!  Did she tell you that?  Yes, she belongs to me,
and I to her, and if you’ll only tell me where to find her, you’ll make
me the happiest man on earth!"  He grasped the boy’s hand in his firm,
smooth one, and they stood as if making a life compact, each glad of the
other’s touch.  "Daniel, I feel as if you were an angel of light!" broke
out Charles.

The angel in blue homespun lifted his eyes to the stranger’s face, and
was glad, since he might not have the one he loved, that she belonged to
this other.  He had done the best he could do for her, and his was the
part of sacrifice.

"I can’t tell you just where she is," said Daniel gravely. "I thought
mebbe you’d know from this.  She’s sent me two books since she went
away, and they’re both post-marked ’New York.’  That’s all I know."

He pulled out a tattered paper that had wrapped a parcel, and together
they studied the marks.  Charles’s face grew grave.  New York was a
large place even in those days.  Yet it was more definite than the whole
United States, which had been his field of action thus far. He would not
despair.  He would take heart of grace and go forward.

"Daniel," said he, handing back the paper to its owner, with a delicate
feeling that the boy had the first right to it, since he was the link
between them, "will you go to New York to-night with me and help me to
find her?"

Dan’s face lit up until he was actually handsome.

"Me?"

Rags wagged his tail hard, and gave a sharp little bark, as if to say:
"Me?"

"Yes, both of you," said Charles joyously.  He felt as if he were on the
right track at last, and his soul could fairly shout for happiness.

"Rags might do a lot toward finding her.  He’d track her anywhere.  It
was all I could do to get him away from her when she got into the
stage-coach to go away."  Dan looked down at his four-footed companion
lovingly, and Rags lifted one ear in recognition of the compliment,
meanwhile keeping wistful eyes on the stranger.  It almost looked as if
he understood.

Charles stooped down and patted him warmly, and the ugly little dog
wriggled all over with great happiness,

"Of course he must go with us, then," said Charles.

"Yes, and the way he lit into that dressed-up chap that came and
frightened her away was something fine," went on Dan.

"Tell me about it," said Charles.

Dan gave a brief account of Harrington’s visit to the village and Dawn’s
departure.

Charles’s face was grave and sad as they spoke of his brother.
Harrington’s death was too recent and too terrible to admit of bitter
memories.  He kept his head bent down toward Rags, who was luxuriating
in the stranger’s fondling, while Daniel was talking.  Then he gave the
dog a final pat and stood up.

"Daniel," said he, "that man was my brother, and he died of cholera
three days ago.  He did wrong and made a lot of trouble, and he almost
broke my father’s heart, but his death was an awful one, and perhaps
we’d better not think about his part in this matter any more. He’s gone
beyond our reach."

"I didn’t know," said Dan awkwardly.  "I’m sorry I said anything——"

"It’s all right," said Charles heartily.  "I saw how you felt, and I
thought I’d better tell you all about it.  I need your help, and it’s
best to be frank.  And now, how about it?  Will you go with me to help
find her?  Will your family object?  I’ll see to the expense, of course,
and will make it as pleasant as I can for you."

"I’ll go," said Dan briefly, but his tone meant a great deal.  If he had
lived in these days, he would have answered "Sure!" with that peculiar
inflection that implies whole-souled loyalty.  Charles understood the
embarrassed heartiness, and took the reply as it was intended.

"How soon can we start?" he asked anxiously.  Every moment meant
something to him, and he was impatient to be off.  He took out his
watch.  It was quarter to six. "They told me there was a night-coach
making connection with the early boat for New York.  It starts at seven
o’clock.  Would that be too soon for you?"

"That’s all right," said Daniel, in a voice that was hoarse with
excitement.  "I just got to change my clothes. Will you come in?"

"Suppose I wait on the front stoop," suggested Charles, seeing the
embarrassment in the boy’s face.

"All right," said Daniel.  "I won’t be long."

Mrs. Butterworth looked up anxiously as Dan came into the kitchen.  She
had been watching the interview from the side window.

"I’m goin’ to New York with one of Teacher’s friends, ma," he said, in
the same tone he would have told her he was going to the village store.
"Have I got a clean shirt?"

"To New York!" echoed the woman, who herself had never been outside of
the county.  "To New York!"—aghast. "Now, you look out, Dan’l.  You
can’t tell ’bout strangers.  He may want to get you way from your
friends an’ rob you."

"What is there to rob, I’d like to know?  He’s welcome to all he can
get."

"You never can tell," said his mother, shaking her head fearfully.  "You
better take care, Dan’l."

"What’s the matter with ye, Ma?  Didn’t I tell you he’s a friend o’ Miss
Montgomery?  She told me all about him.  We’re goin’ down to New York
together to see her. Where’s my shirt?  He’s invited me.  You needn’t to
worry.  I may be gone a few days.  I’ll write you a letter when I get
there.  I’m goin’ to take the dog.  We’re goin’ on the seven o’clock
stage an’ mebbe I’ll find out somethin’ about goin’ to college.  I’m
goin’ to college this fall if there’s any way.  I don’t know whether
he’s had any supper.  You might give him a doughnut.  He’s on the front
stoop.  Say, where is my clean shirt, Ma?  It’s gettin’ late."

Daniel had thrown off his coat and was struggling with a refractory
buckle of his suspenders as he talked. His mother was roused at last to
her duties, and brought the shirt, with which he vanished to the loft.
Then the mother, partly to reassure herself about the stranger, filled a
plate with cold ham, bread and butter, a generous slice of apple pie,
and three or four fat doughnuts, and cautiously opened the front door.

Rags, not having to change his clothes, had remained with Charles, and
was enjoying a friendly hand on his head while he sat alert waiting for
what was to happen next.  When Dan appeared things would move, he knew,
and he meant to be in them.  He wasn’t going to trust any verbal
promises.  He was going with them if he had to do it on the sly.

Charles arose and received the bountiful supper graciously.  When Mrs.
Butterworth saw the manner of the stranger who sat on her front settle
she was ashamed to be handing him a plate outside, as if he were a
tramp. "Dan’l said you wouldn’t come in," she said hospitably, "and I
couldn’t bear not to give you a bite to eat. You should ’a’ happened
’long sooner, while supper was hot.  We all thought a lot o’ Miss
Montgomery.  Was you her brother, perhaps?"

While she had prepared the lunch, she had questioned within herself what
sort of "friend" this might be with whom Dan was going to visit the
teacher.  If Dan wanted to "make up" to Teacher, why did he not go
alone?

Charles perceived that Daniel had not explained to his mother, and,
keeping his own counsel, returned pleasantly:

"Oh, no, not her brother," and he began to tell Mrs. Butterworth how
glad he was to have her son’s company on his visit to New York.  His
manner was so reassuring that she decided he was all right, and as Dan
came down, his face shining from much soap, and his hair plastered as
smoothly as his rough curls would allow, she said pleasantly:

"You’ll see my boy don’t get into bad company down in New York, won’t
you?  I’m worried, sort of, fer his pa said last night there was cholera
round."

Charles’s face sobered in an instant.

"We’ll take good care of each other, Mrs. Butterworth; don’t you worry.
I’m much obliged for your letting me have Daniel for company, and I’ll
try to make him have a pleasant time."

The village people stared at Dan as he got into the stage with the
stranger.  They wondered where he was going.  One of the boys made bold
to slide up to the coach and ask him, but he got little satisfaction.

"Just running down to New York for a few days," Dan answered
nonchalantly, as if it were a matter of every-day occurrence.

Amid the envious stares of the boys, the coach drove away into the
evening, and Daniel sat silently beside his companion, wondering at
himself, his heart throbbing greatly that he might within a few hours
see the girl who had made such a difference in his life.

About midnight everybody but Charles and Daniel got out of the coach.
Comfortably ensconced, the two young men might have slept, but Charles
was too nervous and excited to sleep, and Daniel was not far behind him.

"Daniel," said Charles, suddenly breaking the silence that had fallen
upon them, though each knew the other was not sleeping, "by what name
did she go?  Your mother spoke of her as Miss Montgomery.  Was that the
name she gave?"

"Yes," said Daniel, wondering; "Mary Montgomery."

"It was her mother’s name," said Charles reverently. Dawn had talked to
him of her mother on their wedding trip.

"Daniel, there is something more that perhaps I ought to tell you.  Did
she tell you that she and I are married?"

"No," said Dan.  His voice was shaking as he tried to take in the
thought.  It was as if he were expecting an unbearable pain in a nerve
that had already throbbed its life out and was at rest.  He was
surprised to find how natural it seemed.  Then he stammered out:

"I guess I must have known, though.  She said she belonged to you, and
so nobody else could take care of her."

"Thank you for telling me that," said Charles.  He laid his hand warmly
on Dan’s.  The boy liked his touch. Rags, who was sleeping at their
feet, nestled closer to them both with a sleepy whine.  He was content
now that he was really on his way.

"I guess," said Dan chokingly—"I guess I better tell you the whole,
because I like you, and you’re the right kind.  You seem like what she
ought to have, and I’m glad it’s you—but—it was kind of hard, because,
you see, I’d have liked to take care of her myself.  I didn’t know about
you till she told me, and though I knew, of course, I wasn’t much to
look at beside her, I could have done a lot for her, and I mean to go to
college yet, any way, just to show her.  You see, I guess it ain’t right
to go along with you to see her, and not tell you what I said to her.  I
told her I loved her!  And it was true, too.  I’d have died for her if
it was necessary.  If that makes any difference to you, Rags and I’ll
get out and walk back now.  I thought I ought to tell you.  I couldn’t
help loving her, could I, when she did so much for me?  And, you see, I
never knew about you."

It was a long speech for the silent Dan to make, but Charles’s warm
hand-grasp through it all helped wonderfully, as well as Dan’s growing
liking for Dawn’s husband.

"Bless you, Daniel!" said Charles, throwing his arm about his
companion’s shoulders, as he used to do with his chums in college.  "You
just sit right still where you are. It was noble and honest of you to
tell me that.  I believe in my heart I like you all the better for it.
We are brothers, you see, for I love her that way, too, and it gives me
a lot of comfort to know you can understand me.  But, old fellow—I don’t
quite know how to say it—I’m deeply sorry that your love has brought you
only pain, and I feel all the more warmly toward you that you tried to
help her when you knew she belonged to some one else.  I never can thank
you enough."

"I couldn’t have helped it," said Dan gruffly.  "If anybody _loved_ her,
they’d _have_ to take care of her, _if it killed ’em_."

"Dan, old fellow, I love _you_," said Charles impulsively. "You can’t
know what this is to me, that you took care of her when I couldn’t.
I’ll love you always, and I shall never forget what you’ve done for me.
Now, begin at the beginning and tell me all you know about her, won’t
you?  I’m hungry to hear."

And Dan found himself telling the whole story of how Dawn had conquered
him, the ringleader of mischief in the school, made him her slave, and
helped him up to a plane where higher ambitions and nobler standards had
changed his whole idea of life.

As he listened to the homely, boyish phrases and read between the lines
the pathos of Dawn’s struggles, Charles found tears standing in his eyes
to think his little girl-wife had been through so much all by herself,
without him near to help and comfort.  Would he ever, ever, be able to
make up to her for it?

He expressed this thought clumsily to Dan, and the boy, all eager now
with sympathy, and loving Charles as loyally as Dawn, said royally:

"I calculate one sight of your face’ll make her forget it all.
Leastways, that’s the way it looks to me."

They talked at intervals all night.  Charles drew from Daniel his
ambition to get an education and be worthy to be the friend of such a
teacher as he had had.  The boy said it shyly, and then added, "And you
too, if you’ll let me," and there in the early breaking of the morning
light the two young men made a solemn compact of friendship through
life.  When the sun shone forth and touched the hills, glinting the
Hudson in the distance, Daniel sat up and looked about him with a new
interest in life, and a happier feeling in his heart than he had had
since Dawn went away.

Three days they spent in New York, searching for Dawn.  The paper that
had wrapped Dan’s book they took to the post-office first, and by
careful inquiry were able to discover in what quarter of the city the
package was mailed, though, of course, this was very slight information,
as she might have been far from her living place when she mailed it.
They also discovered the store where the books were bought, for Charles
had had the forethought to send Daniel back for them before they
started.  The clerk who had sold them to her remembered her, and
described her as beautiful, with black curls inside a white bonnet, and
a dark silk frock.  He said she had sad eyes, and looked thin and pale.
This troubled Charles more than he was willing to admit to Dan.

Having narrowed their clue to this most indefinite point, they held a
consultation and decided that the only thing to do was to walk around
that quarter of the city and see if they could get sight of her.  Or
possibly Rags would get on a scent of her footsteps in some spot less
travelled than others.  It was almost a hopeless search, yet they
started bravely on the hunt, and talked to Rags in a way that would have
made an ordinary dog beside himself.

Charles had with him the gloves that Dawn had dropped on the floor
beside the bed when she fled from his home. He always carried them with
him in his breast-pocket. He took them out and let Rags smell of them.
Then Dan said:

"Rags, go find Teacher.  Teacher!  Rags!  Go find Teacher!"

Rags sniffed and looked wistfully in their faces, then barked and
started on a sniffing tour all about them, his homely yellow-brown face
wearing a look of dog anxiety. He thought he comprehended what they
wanted, but was not sure.  He had felt a great loss since the teacher
went away.  Was it possible they expected him to find her?

During the three days, they haunted the streets of the city, both day
and evening, and Rags was quite worn out with sniffing.  Once or twice
he thought he had found a trail, but it came to nothing, and he scurried
dejectedly on ahead, hoping his followers had not noticed him bark. On
the morning of the fourth day they turned into a narrow street which was
almost like a lane compared to other streets.  There were only tiny,
gloomy houses, and noisy, foreign-looking people stood in the doorways
or conversed across the street.  It seemed a most unlikely neighborhood
for their search, and Charles was half of a mind to turn back and take
another street, but almost at the entrance to the street Rags had gone
quite wild and nosed his way rapidly down the uneven pavement until he
stopped beside a humble doorstep and went nosing about and yelping in
great delight.  The door was closed, but he tried the steps, and even
sniffed under the crack, and then came bounding back to his companions.

"What have you found, Rags, boy?" said Charles half-heartedly. He did
not believe they would find any trace of Dawn here.

"He thinks he’s found her," said Dan convincingly. "He never acts like
that without a reason.  Rags, find Teacher!  Where is she, Rags?"

"Bow-wow!" answered Rags sharply, as much as to say, "Why don’t you open
the door and find her yourself?"

An old woman came to the door, and looked sharply at the dog on her
clean step.  Charles took off his hat.

"We are looking for a friend, madam, who is stopping in this
neighborhood somewhere, and we do not know her address.  Our dog thinks
he has found a trace of her, but he is probably mistaken.  You don’t
happen to have noticed anywhere near here, a young woman with dark eyes
and dark, curling hair, lately come to the city—not more than two months
ago, perhaps?"

"You wouldn’t be meanin’ pretty Mary Montgomery—bless her heart!—would
ye?" the old woman asked quizzically, surveying the two.

But Rags had stayed not on the order of his going.  He had dashed past
the old woman and up the stairs to the floor above.

"Och!  Look at the little varmint!" said the old woman, forgetting her
question and dashing after the dog, thus missing the startled look that
came into the faces of both young men.

But after a series of short, sharp barks, Rags returned as quickly as he
had gone, almost knocking the old lady down her rickety stairs, in his
delight, and bearing in his mouth a fragment of gray cloth which he
brought and laid triumphantly at his master’s feet.

Dan stooped and picked it up almost reverently and smoothed the frayed
edges.  It was a bit of Dawn’s gray school-dress that she had torn off
where the facing was worn and had caught her foot as she walked.  Dan
recognized the cloth at once.  Charles had never seen the gown, but he
saw that the bit of cloth had some significance to Dan.  He rushed in
after the old lady, who had now descended the stairs wrathfully behind
the dog.

"Tell me where this Miss Montgomery is, please," he said as quietly as
he could.  He had followed so many clues and seen them turn into nothing
before his eyes, he scarcely could dare hope now.  His heart was beating
wildly.  Was he to see Dawn again at last?

"Och!  An’ I wish I knew, the darlint!" said the garrulous old woman.
"She lift me yistherday marnin’, an’ it’s thrue I miss the sight o’ her
sweet smile an’ her pretty ways.  She was a young wummun of quality, was
she, an’ I sez to me dauther, sez I, ’Kate, mind the ways o’ her, the
pretty ways o’ Mary Montgomery,’ sez I, ’fer it’s not soon ye’ll see
such a lady agin.’"

"Has she been here in your house, do you say?" asked Charles anxiously.
He felt he must keep very calm or he might lose the clue.

"Yis, sorr, that she was.  She ockepied me back siccond floor, an’ a
swater lady niver walked the earth, ef she _was_ huntin’ work fer her
pretty, saft hands to do, what she couldn’t get nowhere, sorr, more’s
the pity.  Would yez like to coom up an’ tak a luik at the rum?  It’s as
nate a rum as ye’ll find in the sthreet, ef I do say so as shouldn’t,
though a bit small fer two.  But there’s the frunt siccond floor’ll be
vacant to-morry, at only a shillun more the wake."

Daniel held up the fragment of cloth.

"It’s the frock she wore to school," he said.  He spoke hoarsely and
handled it as though it belonged to the dead. It seemed terrible to him
to have found where she had been, and not find her.

They followed the old woman upstairs, scarcely hearing her dissertation,
nor realizing that she took them for possible roomers.

The room was neat, as the woman had said, but bare—so bare and gloomy!
Nothing but blank walls and chimneys to be seen from the tiny window,
where the sun streamed in unhindered across the meagre bed and deal
chair and table which were the only furnishings.  Charles’s heart grew
tender with pity, and his eyes filled with tears, as he looked upon it
all and realized that his wife had slept there on that hard bed, and had
for a time called that dreary spot home.  He glanced involuntarily out
of the window, noting the garbage in the back yards below, and the
unpleasant odors that arose, and remembered the warnings and precautions
with which the papers had been filled even before the cholera had come
so close to them. He shuddered to think what might have happened to
Dawn.

"But where has she gone?" he asked the old woman.

"Yes, that’s what we want to know," said Dan.

"Yes, where!" barked Rags behind the old woman’s heels, which made her
jump and exclaim, "Och, the varmint!" until Dan called the dog to his
side.

"She’s gone.  Lift me, an’ no rason at all at all, savin’ thet she
couldn’t find wark, an’ her money most gahn.  I sez to her as she went
out that dor, sez I, ’Yez betther go hum to yer friends ef yez kin find
’em.  It’s bad times fer a pretty un like you, an’ you with yer hands
that saft;’ but she only smiled at me like a white rose, an’ was away,
sayin’ she’d see, and she thankin’ me all the whilst fer the little I’d
been able to do fer her—me that’s a widder an’ meself to kape."

Nothing more could they get from the good woman, though they tried both
with money and questions.  Dawn had been there for two months, and had
gone out every day hunting work.  She had come back every night weary
and discouraged, but always with a smile.  At last she had come home
with a newspaper, her face whiter than usual, and, as the old widow had
put it, said: "’Mrs. O’Donnell, I’m away in the marn, fer I’m thinkin’
it’s best;’ and away she goes."

The two young men turned away at last, after having made Rags smell all
around the room.  He insisted upon their taking a folded bit of paper
that he found on the floor by the window, as if it were something
precious belonging to her.  They bade Mrs. O’Donnell good-by, after
Charles had given her something to solace her for losing two prospective
roomers, and went out to search again.

Rags preceded them down the street, following the scent rapidly until he
reached the corner, where he seemed in some perplexity for a time.
Finally, he chose the street leading to the river, and going more slowly
and crookedly, sometimes zigzagging and sometimes going back to make
sure, he brought them at last to the boat-landing.

Perhaps, they thought, she might have followed the advice of the old
woman and gone back to her own home region—who knew?  With heavy hearts,
they set about finding what boats had left the wharf the day before,
about the hour the old woman had said that the girl had left her house.

But the morning boat of the day before had just come in and was lying by
for repairs.  After some questioning, the captain professed to recall
such a passenger as they described, but as all the decks had been
scrubbed, Rags with his eager nose was unable to corroborate the
captain’s testimony.  Charles and Dan lost no time in securing passage
on the boat, which was to sail that evening for Albany, where the
captain said he was sure the young lady had gotten off the evening
before.

The remainder of the afternoon they spent in making inquiries in every
direction, leaving written messages directed to Miss Mary Montgomery,
and putting notices in the various city papers.  Rags, meantime, was
much annoyed and disturbed by their digression.  He felt that the boat
was the place to stay.  He was satisfied they were on the right track.
If he had been managing the expedition, he would have had the boat start
at once.  When it finally did leave the wharf, he sat up on deck with
his fore-feet on the railing and barked his satisfaction, then settled
down to rest at the feet of the two beloved ones, with a smile of
satisfaction on his grizzly face.



                              CHAPTER XXVI


The day before Dawn left New York the city papers officially announced
that the cholera had reached the city. Their columns were filled with
admonitions, and the symptoms of the disease from start to finish were
plainly told. Everybody was ordered to clean up and keep clean.

There seemed to be nothing but cholera news in the paper.  A full report
was given of every case, and two long columns reported the progress of
the disease in other States and cities.

As Dawn passed wearily away from an office where she had spent the
entire day waiting for a man who she hoped might use his influence to
get her a chance to teach a small school in a country district, but who
did not come, she caught the cry of the newsboys.

"_New York Commercial-Advertiser_!  All ’bout the cholera!"

It was not often she spent her hoarded pennies for a paper, but a sudden
desire to know the truth about the fearful epidemic seized her.  She
bought a paper, and turned to the general report column.  Almost at once
her eye caught the name of a town not far from where her father lived,
with a report of three cases of cholera.  She read on down the column,
and suddenly her heart stood still with horror.


"SLOANSVILLE [she read].  A man who gave his name as Harrington Winthrop
died here last week of cholera.  He was in an advanced stage of the
disease when he arrived in a hired carriage, and died a few hours later.
His father and brother were sent for and arrived before his death.  This
case has caused a panic among the negroes in the vicinity, and there
have been a few suspicious cases of illness which are being carefully
watched. Everything is being done to prevent a further spread of the
disease.


Dawn felt a sudden weakness, and hurried back to her wretched boarding
place to lie down.  She did not feel like eating any supper, though the
old woman prepared some tea and toast and brought it up to her.

Dawn lay panting on her hard little bed, and the hot breath of the night
came in at her window, redolent of all the departed dinners of the
neighborhood.  A stench of garbage sometimes varied the atmosphere as
the faint breeze died away, and the noises of a careless, happy-go-lucky
community jangled all about her.  She thought of the rules of
cleanliness that had been laid down in the papers, and of the
probability that they would not be carried out in this street.  She
pictured herself sick with cholera, with no one but the poor old woman
to wait upon her, and no doctor.  The smells, the awful smells, would be
going on and on, and she would be unable to get up and get away from
them.  She thought of the hot, hot sun that would stream in at her
curtainless window when the day broke again, and wondered why she had
come to this terrible city, where there was no work, and no place in the
world for a lonely pilgrim whom nobody wanted.

Then over her rolled a deep relief at the thought that Harrington
Winthrop would trouble her no more, though it seemed awful to rejoice in
what must have been a terrible death.  Yet it could not but make life
freer for her, for she would have one thing less to fear.

Gradually, as she thought about it, another fear seized her.  Charles,
his brother, her husband, had been with him when he died.  Perhaps he
too would take it and die, and she would never know, never see him again
in this life.  She would be left alone—alone in this awful world where
she had no friends, and none to love her, save a poor boy to whose kind
heart she had brought only pain.

Why not go back to the neighborhood where Charles was?  She need not let
herself be known.  She could surely find some secluded place where she
could earn enough to keep her, yet where she might find out how he was,
and maybe catch a glimpse of him now and then!

It was strange this idea had not entered her mind before.  It had never
seemed to her possible that she could go back.  But now the spectre of
death had made her see things in a different light.  She wanted to get
back to the greenness and the coolness of the country, and, most of all,
she wanted to know if Charles was living and was well.  After that, it
did not matter what became of her; but now she knew she was going back,
and she was going at once—in the morning.

She went down to tell the old lady her purpose, and after that she
slept.  The next morning she gathered up her few belongings and took the
boat for Albany.

She had no settled purpose of where she would go after reaching her
objective point.  She did not know the name of the town where Charles
lived.  Strangely enough, it had never been mentioned in her hearing,
and she had not thought to ask.  She was beginning to feel as if she
must have been half asleep when a good many important events in her life
happened.  Was she half asleep now also, she wondered idly?

As they passed the old school of Friend Ruth, Dawn looked out hungrily
and longed inexpressibly to be a girl again, studying her lessons and
knowing little of the hardness of life.

When the boat reached Albany she took the first stagecoach that
appeared, without asking where it went.  Her money was almost gone, but
she paid the fare without a pang.  What did anything matter, now that
she was out of New York?

Everywhere the talk was of the cholera, and her heart grew sick as she
heard the details of the dread disease, and long, minute descriptions of
how best to nurse it.

The stage-coach reached a pretty village late in the afternoon, and Dawn
left it, to take a walk and rest herself from the long sitting.

She had but a few dollars left.  Perhaps she ought not to use any more
for fare, but stay where she was if she liked it, or walk farther.

She did not feel like eating anything, so she grasped her little bundle
of well-worn garments, and walked down the village street.

There was a white church with a wide porch, and stairs in front, leading
to the gallery.  At the side was the graveyard, its wicket gate shaded
by a great weeping willow.  Just inside was a seat under the tree.  Dawn
tried the gate and found it unlatched, and she went in and wandered
about among the graves, reading here and there a name idly, and
wondering how it would seem to lie down and sleep in that quiet resting
place.

Deep in the centre, so far from the street that she could not be seen,
she sank in the grass at the foot of a green mound, and laid her face
down upon the blossoming myrtle.  How nice it would be if this were a
great, free inn where strangers might come and lie down, and the
servants would bring each one a green blanket for covering, and a white
stone at the head of his pillow, and let him sleep in peace and
quietness forever.  She was so weary, so weary, body and soul.

At last she roused herself, and, looking up at the stone above her,
traced the name with startled senses:


                            MARY MONTGOMERY,
                         Born 1798, Died 1825.
        _Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God._


Now, indeed, Dawn was wide awake!  This, then, was her mother’s grave.
She verified the dates with her own memory.  She traced the letters
tenderly with her fingers, she took in the significance of the
quotation, and read her mother’s story as she had never been told it by
any one. Her mind, made keen by suffering, could understand and
sympathize.  Her young heart ached with longing for the mother who was
gone from her.  How might they have comforted each other if they could
only have been permitted to stay together!

A little later she moved her position and saw that there was a smaller
mound beyond her mother’s grave, and that the white stone read:


                   CARROLL MONTGOMERY VAN RENSSELAER,
                       Aged 2 years and 9 months.
                _He shall gather the lambs in His arms._


Before this stone Dawn knelt in wonder.  Had she, then, had a brother?
And how much more of the story was there?  Oh, if she had only asked her
father more questions!  Perhaps some day she would dare to go to him and
find out many things.  Not now—not till she was older and had forgotten
some of the troubles she had borne.  Poor child!  She knew not that his
body had been resting beneath a stately monument these ten days past!
Beyond her was her grandfather’s stone, and beside it her grandmother’s,
much older and moss-covered.  In the same enclosure were many other
Montgomerys who had lived and died.  Some of their names she thought she
remembered.  She sighed wearily, and, going back to her mother’s grave,
touched the letters of her name gently, as if she would bid them
farewell, picked a spray of the blossoming myrtle, and went sadly out
into a lonely world again.  She could not stay here; it was too
sorrowful.

She walked to the next village that afternoon, and took another coach,
the first that came along, going she knew not where.  When she reached
the end of the route the next morning, she took up her walk again,
resolving to spend no more money for riding.  She did not realize how
long she had walked, but some time in the afternoon she came into a
familiar region.  She could not tell where she was at first, but as she
drew near to the village she recognized it as her native town.

At first she was frightened, and stopped by the roadside to think what
to do.  Then a great longing to see the garden once more, and creep into
the old summer-house, came over her.  Skirting the woods on the outside
of the village, and going around by the saw-mill, she at last came to
the hedge at the lower end of her father’s garden, and slipped through
to the summer-house, as she had wished.

The mansion looked quiet.  No one seemed moving about.  But, then, it
had always seemed that way.  She had no fear that any one would discover
her, for the hedge was thick and tall, and had not been cut lately.  She
crept into her old corner in the greenness and quiet.  The cushions were
there as they used to be, but they looked weather-beaten, as if no one
had been there in a long time. She brushed them off, spread her mantle
upon them, and lay down.  It was very still all about, and she soon
slept. Some time in the night she awoke with a feeling of chill and
loneliness.  It was night, she knew by the darkness, and a sense of
something strange and sad brooded in the air.  But she was very weary,
and soon slept again.

When she awoke again it was late morning.  She knew by the sun that the
day was well begun, and she was impressed almost immediately by the
quietness of her surroundings.  There seemed to be no one about.  Not a
sound came from the house.  The bees and the cicadas droned and whetted
their hot scythes in the burning day, but otherwise there was a torrid
silence.

The little hedged summer-house was not far from the street.  It seemed
strange to the girl that she heard no one passing.  She got up and made
herself as tidy as the circumstances allowed, and then stole toward the
house, keeping within hiding of the hedges.  She had no mind to let any
one see her, but a strange fascination led her to look again upon her
old home.

The shutters were all staring wide, as if forgotten, and the front door
stood open, but no one was about.  Dawn wondered if the old servants
were still there, but no sound came from the direction of the kitchen.
She stole nearer, though her judgment warned her to go away if she did
not wish to be seen and recognized.  A power stronger than she realized
seemed drawing her on.

With sudden impulse, she stepped softly up to the front door and peeped
in.  She had no deep love for this old house, for the memories of her
mother there had been dimmed and marred by later happenings; but Dawn
had been a wanderer so many months now, that even to look upon a place
where she had once had a right to be, was good.

The hall looked much as ever, though there was no hat lying on the
polished mahogany table, and a coating of dust showed clearly in the
stream of sunshine from the front door.  Her father’s walking-sticks
were not in their accustomed place either.  She wondered a little, and
then was impressed again by the deep stillness that lay over everything.
What could it mean?  Was no one about?  Surely they had not gone off and
left the house alone and the front door wide open!

The curious longing for a sight of something familiar which had brought
her thus far drew her on.  Cautiously she stepped into the hall and
peered into this room and that—the parlor, the library, the dining-room,
and back through the servants’ quarters into the kitchen.  All were
empty!

The fire was out, and a heap of ashes lay on the hearth, as if no one
had made an attempt to put things to rights for hours.  There were
unwashed dishes on the kitchen table, and on the bread board, beside the
knife, lay half a loaf of bread which had moulded in the warm, moist
atmosphere.  It was all very strange.  What could have happened?

With a growing sense that the house was empty now, Dawn went upstairs,
looking first into her own old room and the guest rooms, and coming at
last to the door of that which had been her step-mother’s.  It was
closed, and she hesitated to open it.  What need had she to go in there,
any way?  It could profit her nothing.  If her step-mother was there,
Dawn did not wish to see her. The girl paused an instant, then her soft
tread turned back again to go downstairs, but a low sound, like a moan,
caught her ear, and something made her turn again and open the door,
though cold chills were creeping down her spine, and a frenzy of fear
had seized upon her.

There upon the high four-poster bed lay her step-mother, her eyes sunken
into deep sockets, her cheeks hollow, her nose thin and pointed, her
whole face pinched and blue, with lines of agony in her expression.

Dawn felt her heart leap in fear, but she went forward. There seemed
nothing else to do.

The sunken eyes turned toward her dully, and the blue lips uttered a low
moan, then, suddenly, the sick woman fixed her gaze upon the girl’s face
in growing horror, and a livid look came into her face.

"Is that you at last?" she asked in a deep, hoarse voice that sounded
strange and unnatural.  "Are we both dead?"

A cold perspiration had come out upon the girl, and the awfulness of the
situation seemed to be taking her senses away, but she tried to speak
coolly, and still the wild beating of her heart.

"Yes, I’ve come," said Dawn; "but we’re not dead. What is the matter?
Are you sick?  I found the front door open, and no one around."

"They’ve all gone and left me," moaned the woman, beginning to turn her
head with a strange, restless movement from side to side.  "They rushed
off like frightened cattle.  You’ll go, too, I suppose, when you know
I’ve got the cholera.  Yes, go quick.  I don’t want to do you any more
harm than I have already.  Oh!"

The sentence broke in a cry of agony, and the sick woman writhed in
terrible contortions, which, passing, left her weak and almost lifeless.
The girl’s heart was filled with horror, but she took off her bonnet and
cape and laid down her bundle.

"No, I’m not going to leave you," she said sadly, almost dully.  "I’m
not afraid, and, besides, it doesn’t matter about me, any way.  Have you
had the doctor?"

The woman shook her head.  The agony was not all passed.

"There wasn’t any one to go for him," she murmured weakly, tossing
restlessly again.  "Oh, I’m so thirsty! Can you get me some water?"

"Where is Father?" asked Dawn, wondering if he too had deserted her.

"Didn’t you know he was dead?" asked the sick woman, in that strangely
hoarse voice.

"No," said Dawn, shuddering.  Everybody seemed to be dying.  Would she
die, too?

She hurried to the old medicine closet and in a moment returned with the
camphor bottle and some lumps of sugar, and administered several drops
of camphor.  The patient’s hands were cold and blue.  Dawn tucked her up
with blankets warmly.

"You lie still," she said in a business-like tone.  "I’ll get some hot
water bottles for your hands and feet, and then I’ll call the doctor."

"It isn’t worth while for you to stay here and get the cholera," said
the woman plaintively.  "I’m not going to get over it.  I’ve known it
all night.  It was coming on yesterday.  I tried to straighten up the
house, but I was too dizzy and weak.  The servants all went away when
they heard me say I didn’t feel well.  There have been several other
cases——"

But Dawn did not hear all her step-mother said, for she had hurried down
to get a fire started.  It was no easy task for her unaccustomed hands
to strike the fire from the tinder-box, and after one or two fruitless
efforts she decided to waste no more time, but to run to the neighbor’s
and borrow a kettle of water, at the same time sending a message for the
doctor.  She was terribly frightened by her step-mother’s appearance,
and knew she must be very ill indeed.  It seemed as if all possible
haste was necessary if she would help to save her life.

Upstairs, the sick woman was tossing and moaning. The sudden appearance
of the girl who had been the occasion of so much trouble in her life
seemed to make the agony all the greater.  She knew that she was face to
face with death, and now to have the girl she had injured meet her
almost on the threshold of the other world, and minister to her, was
double torment.  If only she could do something to make amends for the
wrong she had done, before she left the world and went to meet her just
retribution!  Her fevered brain tried to think.  What was there she
could do?

The girl had come, and would probably take the disease and die.  Her
husband might never know she was here. No one would find it out until
she was dead.  If only she—Mrs. Van Rensselaer—had some way of letting
Charles Winthrop know that his wife had come home.  If she could get up
and go out into the street and beg some one to take him a message!  But
her strength was gone, and the agony might come upon her at any moment.
She would have to do it at once, or the girl would return and stop her.
Could she try?

All her life she had been a woman of iron will.  She had made herself
and every one except her husband bend to it.  She summoned it now.  She
would try.  She would make one supreme effort to right the great wrong
of her life.  If in the other world to which she knew she was going in a
few short hours there was opportunity to meet the husband she had loved
as she had loved nothing else on earth besides herself, she would like
to tell him that she had tried—that at the last hour she had tried to
make some amends.

With the extraordinary strength which mind sometimes gives to body at
times of great necessity, as in cases of soldiers mortally wounded
fighting to the end, the woman crawled out of the bed and dragged
herself over to the desk.  Her eyes were bright with her great purpose
and blazed like sunken fires.  Her gray, thin hair straggled down upon
the collar of the old dressing-gown she had put on when first taken
sick.  She seized her quill pen and a sheet of paper that lay there, and
with cramped, shaking hand wrote, "Dawn is here," and signed her name,
"Maria Van Rensselaer."  The scrawl was almost unreadable, but she dared
not try to write it over.  She dared not add another word.  Her time was
short.  Her strength already was failing.  She had yet to get the
message into some one’s hands.  Perhaps even now she would fail.  She
crushed the folds together with her cold fingers, wrote "Charles
Winthrop" and the address, and then tottered across the room to the
door.  She almost fell as she reached the stair-landing.  The dizzy,
blinding blackness that seemed pressing upon her almost overwhelmed her.
She felt the pain and torment surging back, but she fought it off and
would not yield.  This was her last chance to make amends—her last
chance.  She said it over to herself as she clung to the banisters and
got down the stairs clumsily.  If Dawn had been in the house, she must
have heard her.

It looked like miles to the front gate as the sick woman came out on the
piazza, but somehow she got there—a queer, ghastly figure of death,
clinging to the gate-post, with a letter and a purse in her hand.

In the distance she saw a negro approaching.  He was scuttling along
with a frightened gait, as if he wished to hurry through the street.
She felt her strength going. If she could only stand up till he reached
her!  It seemed to her hours before he came to the gate.  She had kept
back out of sight, instinctively feeling he would be scared away if he
saw her.

"Take that to the post office or God will punish you!" she said, in the
deep, hoarse voice the disease had given her, and thrust the letter and
the purse upon him.

The negro stopped with a yell of fright, but her words had the desired
effect.  She had worked upon the superstition of his race.  He dared not
disobey her command. Taking the letter and the purse in his thumb and
finger, that he might not come in contact with them more than was
necessary—for a glance at the face of the woman had warned him of her
malady—he ran at top speed to the post-office.  His eyes rolled with
horror as he told of the old woman who had accosted him.  He felt as if
his days were numbered and he fled the village immediately, not caring
where he went so he got away from the haunting memory of the living dead
who had given him the letter.

With almost superhuman effort Mrs. Van Rensselaer turned to go back to
the house, but the iron will could carry her no further.  Her strength
was gone.  She had accomplished her errand, and had come to the end.
She had done her best to make amends for her sin.  She sank unconscious
by the gateway.

Meantime, Dawn had hurried through the hedge by a short cut to the
nearest neighbor’s, but failed to get any response to her urgent knock.
She went around the house and perceived that it was closed.  The family
must be away.  She flew to the neighbor just below with the same result,
and going on farther down the street to four other houses, found no one
in sight.  At the fifth, some distance from her home, a woman stepped
fearfully out of the kitchen door, and agreed to send word to the
doctor, but shook her head at the demand for hot water.  She could not
spare her kettle.  She had sickness in the house herself.  No, she
didn’t think Dawn could get any at the next house either.  Everybody
that could get away had gone since the cholera struck the town.  Then
the woman went in and shut the door and with new horror Dawn sped back
to try her hand again at making the fire.

The necessity was so strongly upon her now that she fairly _made_ that
fire burn, and at last had a kettle of hot water to carry upstairs.

Dawn was so intent upon carrying her great steaming kettle up the front
stairs without spilling the contents that she failed to hear the wheels
of a carriage upon the gravel drive outside.  It was not until she had
carried the kettle into the bedroom and put it on the hearth and then
turned toward the bed that she discovered the bed was empty!

A great horror filled her.  Trembling, she knew not why, she quickly
glanced into the other rooms on that floor. It seemed almost as if the
pestilence had become a living being that could snatch people bodily
away from the earth.

She seemed to have no voice with which to call, yet she felt upon her a
necessity of great haste.  Perhaps her step-mother had gone downstairs
in search of her.  She hurried down a few steps, then stopped, startled.
Someone was coming into the front door, staggering under the heavy
burden of an inert, human form.  It looked a vivid blot of darkness
against the background of the hot summer sunshine outside.

Dawn hurried down, with white face and horrified eyes, and saw that it
was the old family doctor, and that he held her step-mother in his arms.
A sudden pang of remorse went through her heart that she had been away
from the sick one so long, yet how could she have helped it?  Was Mrs.
Van Rensselaer perhaps trying to find her, or was she seeking aid, and
had fallen by the way?

"Oh, why did she get up!" she exclaimed regretfully. "I came just as
soon as I could get the water hot!"  Then she caught hold of the heavy
form of the unconscious woman and helped with all her young strength to
lift and drag her up to her room again.

"She might have been out of her head, child," said the doctor kindly, as
if in answer to her exclamation.  He was searching in his medicine case
for a certain bottle as he spoke.  His breath was coming in short, quick
gasps from the exertion of carrying the sick woman upstairs, and the
perspiration stood in great beads on his forehead. His face looked old
and haggard, and his voice was that of one who had seen much recent
sorrow.  He walked rapidly asking a few keen questions and giving brief
directions. He nodded approvingly at the kettle of hot water, sent Dawn
for one or two articles he needed, then when he had done all he could,
and the sick woman was breathing more naturally, he turned and looked at
Dawn.

She had told him in a few words how she had found the house when she
arrived, and the little she had done.  He looked her through with his
kind tired eyes, noted the sweet, sad face, the dark circles under her
eyes, the pallor of the thin cheeks, and shook his head doubtfully.

"You’re young for this sort of thing," he said gruffly. "It’s a hard
case, and her only hope is good nursing. I’m afraid you’re not equal to
it.  You’ll break down yourself."

"Oh, no, I’m quite strong," said Dawn, bravely trying to smile.

"Well, I don’t know how it can be helped," he mused. "I don’t know of a
single person I can get to help you. It may be Patience Howe could come
if she can get away from the Pettibones.  I’ll see what I can do.  I’ll
stop and send a line to Mrs. Van Rensselaer’s sister.  She’ll likely
come down by to-morrow.  You know she was here when your father died.
Do you think you could get along to-night alone in case I can’t get any
one?  I’ll try to get back here before dark if I can and bring some one
to stay with you.  I haven’t had a wink of sleep for forty-eight hours
except what I caught on the road.  I’ll get back as soon as I can."

Dawn assured him she would do her best, though her heart quaked within
her at thought of staying alone with the death-like sleeper upon the
bed.  The doctor gave a few directions and cautions, and hurried away.

The house settled into quiet, and the hours stretched into torturing
length.  Dawn slipped downstairs to find some food, for she was growing
faint with long fasting. But there was nothing in the house fit to eat.
The bread was moist and sticky with the damp, warm atmosphere, and she
had no heart to cook anything.  She had arranged the fire to keep the
kettle boiling, for hot water was an essential in the sick-room.  Now
she caught sight of a basket of eggs and dropped several into the
boiling water. These would keep her alive and be easy to eat.

The afternoon was a long agony.  She spent most of the time applying hot
cloths, and chafing the skin of her step-mother.  From time to time the
woman would almost waken or moan and toss in her sleep.  As the hot, red
sun slipped down in the west and the oppressive darkness settled upon
the house, Dawn felt more alone than she had ever been in all of her
short, troublous life.  She lighted a candle and set it on the floor in
the hall, as in the room it seemed to trouble the patient.  The long,
flickering shadows wavered over the floor in ghostly march, and the
nurse sat and watched them till it seemed that they were the shadows of
all the troubles that had taken their way through her young life.

It was late in the evening when the doctor finally returned, and he was
alone.  But Dawn was glad to see his kindly face, for she had almost
given up hoping for him that night, and it seemed terrible to her to sit
there and feel that the death angel was standing at the other side of
the bed, perhaps.

But the doctor’s eyes brightened a little as he looked at the patient.

"She’s holding her own," he murmured.  "You’ve done pretty well, little
girl.  Just as well as an experienced nurse.  If you can keep it up
during the night you may save her life.  I’m sorry I couldn’t get any
one to stay with you to-night, but there wasn’t a soul who was not
already taking care of two or more cases.  I’d stay myself, but there
are three cases I must save to-night if possible. Keep up the treatment
as before, and if she rouses again try this new medicine."

He was gone as quickly as he had come, and she was alone with her charge
once more, but a new spark of interest was in her work.  He had said she
might save her step-mother’s life.  She wondered dully why she should
care when the woman had done her so much harm, but she did care, and the
fact gave her peace.

While she thus thought she was aware that the sick woman’s eyes had
opened and were gazing at her with a strange, deep wonder, as if they
would ask: "Are you here yet?  Have you stayed alone to nurse me, when I
have always hated you, and done you harm?"

Dawn came quickly over to the bed and stood in the path of light that
the candle shed from the hall doorway. She took the patient’s hands in
her own and noticed that they were not so cold as they had been, and she
asked gently: "Do you want anything?"

For a moment her step-mother only looked at her, and then her lips
stirred as if in an effort to speak, but she uttered only one word,
"Forgive?"

Dawn’s heart bounded with a sudden, unexpected pleasure, and the tears
sprang to her eyes.

"Of course!" she said briskly, "it’s all right, but you must lie still
and help get well."

A gentler light came into Mrs. Van Rensselaer’s anxious eyes.  Once
more, as if to make sure that she had heard aright, she murmured her
question, "Forgive?"

Dawn stooped impulsively and kissed her.  Then an actual smile of peace
settled into the hard face of die woman on the bed, changing it utterly.

"It’s all right," said Dawn again eagerly.  "And now, you must take your
medicine and not talk any more.  You are going to get well.  The doctor
says so, and you must go to sleep at once."

She administered the new medicine, and with another smile like a tired
child the sick woman sank away into a gentle, restful sleep.

It was late in the afternoon of the following day that the doctor
returned with Mrs. Van Rensselaer’s sister, who established herself by
the bedside with energy and competence.  The doctor, noticing Dawn’s wan
look and sleep-heavy eyes, ordered her to go to bed at once or there
would be two patients instead of one to look after.  Mrs. Van Rensselaer
he pronounced decidedly better.

Dawn, as she slipped away from the sick room, felt dizzy and faint with
weariness.  She reflected that she would probably contract the disease
herself, and it might come upon her suddenly.  She had read of many
cases that died almost at once.  The thought gave her no alarm.  It
would be good to go quickly.  She went to her own room feeling that she
had come almost to the end of things.

Her dress was torn and wet from much working with the hot water and
flannels.  Her face and hands were blackened with soot from the fire.
Tired as she was she must freshen herself a little before going to
sleep.

She bathed and dressed in fresh garments that she found hanging in her
closet, and put on the little white frock she had worn the day before
her marriage, smoothed her hair, and then, taking a pillow and some
comfortables from the bed, she went downstairs.  The thought had come to
her that it would be good to get out to the arbor again.  If she were to
die, it would be as well there as anywhere.

As she passed down the garden walk, a rose thorn caught her white gown,
and in freeing herself she noticed a spray of roses like those Charles
had picked for her a year ago.  Their fragrance seemed to touch her
tired senses like healing balm.

After she had spread her comfortables on the floor of the little
summer-house, she stepped back and broke off the spray of roses, and lay
down with their cool leaves against her hot cheek.  Breathing in their
odor, she fell into a deep sleep, in which no dreams came to ruffle her
peace.

She had not noticed when she lay down that the long, red rays of the sun
were very low.  The excitement through which she had lived, the lack of
food, the unusual exertion and the sudden release from the necessity of
doing anything, made her stupid with weariness.  The sun slipped quickly
down, and the cool darkness of the garden soothed her.  A tiny breeze
gave her new life, and she slept as sweetly as the sleeping birds in the
trees over her head, while the kind stars looked down and kept watch,
and the roses nestled close and spoke of him she loved.

In the village, pestilence stalked abroad and the shadow of death
hovered, but in the garden there were quiet and peace and rest.  And if
the languid winds played a solemn dirge among the pines near the old
house, they disturbed her not, safe sheltered among God’s flowers with
others of his beautiful, dependent creatures.



                             CHAPTER XXVII


Charles and Dan had stayed in Albany several days, questioning coach
drivers and making enquiries at all the inns; but no one seemed to
remember Dawn.  It happened that the driver with whom she had left
Albany had broken his leg the very day after, so he was not there to be
questioned.  Heartsick and despairing, the two young men did not know
what to do.  Even Rags was dejected, and whined at having to leave the
boat.  Somehow he seemed to think it would bring them to her if they but
stayed by it long enough.  He was for going back to New York when the
boat went, and told the others so with a wise bark, but they heeded him
not.  He went about snuffing helplessly, and spent much time with his
nose in his paws, one sad blinking eye open to a disappointing world.

They reached the Winthrop home a few hours before Mrs. Van Rensselaer’s
letter arrived.

It was Betty who brought the strange, scrawled letter to Charles, and
she wore an anxious look.  She had half-hesitated whether she would not
keep it till morning, he looked so tired and worn.  These were troublous
times, and no one knew at night but that his dearest friend might be
dead by morning.  Betty would have spared her brother if she had dared.

Charles noticed the postmark, and tore the envelope open quickly, some
premonition quickening his heart-beats.

"Dawn is here!"

He read the significant words, then repeated them aloud, his voice
containing a solemn ring of wonder and joy.  Could it be true?

"Betty, tell the boy to saddle two horses and have them ready at once.
Dan, you’ll go with me, of course....  No, I’ve no time for supper....
Well, just a cup of hot broth.  Or, stay, put some in a bottle, and I’ll
take it with me.  I might need it on the way....  Are you ready, Dan?
... Tell father, Betty.  I’ll be downstairs in just a minute."

They were off almost immediately, for the willing servant had hastened
with the horses, and had ready a lantern for their use when the moon
should go down. Betty handed each of them a bottle of hot broth tightly
sealed, to put in their pockets.  They rode through the night, silent
for the most part, each gravely apprehensive of what might be at the end
of the journey.  It was a strange, abrupt message Charles had received,
and he pondered over and over what its purport might be.  Was Dawn sick,
or dead?  Why had not Mrs. Van Rensselaer told him more?  Perhaps before
he could reach his wife she would be gone again, as before.  With this
thought, he hurried his horse.  Once he caught a glimpse of a sharp
abyss within a few feet of where he passed.  One misstep and the journey
would have ended.  Charles marvelled how he was going through unknown
dangers without a thought, just because his heart was full of a great
purpose.

It was in the early morning that they reached the village where the Van
Rensselaers lived.

Rags was tired and splashed with mud.  His tail dragged wearily behind
him, his head drooped, and his tongue hung out.  He wasn’t used to being
up all night, nor to travelling on foot behind fast horses.  He thought
his companions must be crazy to come away off here where there was no
scent.  How could they expect to know what they were doing in the night?
Rags wanted a good juicy bone, and a rug in a quiet place.

As the two young men turned their horses in at the great gate, the sound
of the hoofs clattered hollowly and echoed back in the empty place.

Rags mounted the steps and sat down, looking disconsolately around.  He
did not care for this place, fine though it might be.  He was dreadfully
tired.  The front door was open, but he had no desire to investigate.

Charles dismounted and went into the house.  It struck him as strange
that the front door should be open so early in the morning.  He had
noticed the deserted look of this part of the town, and he felt the
chill of fear grip his heart.  Had the cholera reached her ahead of him?
Was it in this town?  Even in this house?

As Dawn had done, he looked into the empty rooms.

Rags got up and limped to the door after him, snuffed around, and then
suddenly gave a short, sharp bark, and was off with his nose to the
ground.  He disappeared among the rose-bushes down the garden-path, and
his young master sprang off his horse and hastened after him.



                             CHAPTER XXVIII


Quickly as Dan followed, Rags was before him, with his sharp, peculiar
bark, and then a sudden low whine of fear or trouble.  The boy’s heart
stood still, and he hurried the faster.  Rags came whining to his feet
as he reached the arbor.  And then Dan saw her.

She lay sleeping on the pile of comfortables, in her little white frock,
with the spray of roses in her hand and a slight tinge of color in her
cheek, like the flush on a half-open rosebud.  The comb had fallen from
her hair, and the beautiful curls lay tumbled out upon the pillow in
lovely confusion.

The boy gazed with awe, and then turned his head reverently away.  But
Rags went whining about her feet again.

Dan signed to the dog to be still, and, bending over with sudden
anxiety, watched to see if she were breathing naturally.

Gently as a child she slept, and the roses trembled with her soft
breathing.  His heart leaped with joy.

"Rags, stay here and guard her!" he commanded. "Sit right there!"  He
pointed to a spot in the garden walk.  "Now be still."

Rags whined softly.  He was trembling with excitement.

"Be still!"

The little dog thumped his tail in acquiescence, but looked wistfully
after his master as he turned away, and then at the sleeping goddess.

Dan hastened back to the house.

The horses were cropping their breakfast from the lawn at the edge of
the gravel driveway.  Charles was coming down the steps, his face white
and drawn.

"Dan, I cannot find her, and there is cholera here. Mrs. Van Rensselaer
is lying desperately ill upstairs! There is another woman caring for her
and she says Dawn has gone."

He buried his face in his hands and stood still.  Dan thought he was
going to fall.

"Don’t!" said Dan.  "I’ve found her.  Come!"  He eagerly drew Charles
along the garden walk.

"Oh, do you mean it?  Are you sure, Dan?"

"Sure," said the boy.  "Rags found her.  She’s asleep. Walk softly."

"Is there anything the matter with her, Dan?" said Charles
apprehensively, yet waited not to hear the answer, for at that instant
he reached the arbor, almost stumbling over Rags, who jumped upon him
with delight and wagged and wriggled himself joyously—albeit silently.

But Charles stood still and gazed at his beloved.  His hungry eyes drank
in her loveliness, his anxious heart searched keenly for any sign of
illness.  He felt himself growing weak with fear and joy.

Dan stood silent behind him, his own face lighting with the other’s joy
and solemn rejoicing that they had found her.

Not so Rags.  He thought the time had come for the princess to awaken
and he laid a cold, audacious nose in the open palm of Dawn’s pink hand.
She at once opened her eyes.

"Dawn!  My darling!" murmured Charles, and dropped upon his knees beside
her.

Rags was beside himself with joy now.  He had brought the teacher to
life.  But Dan grasped him by the collar and drew him away.  He and Rags
might rejoice, but it was not for them to intrude at such a time as
this.

Charles gathered his young wife into his arms, laying his face gently
against hers, and over her stole a thrill of deep, solemn joy.  He had
come after her!  He wanted her!  She was loved!  In spite of the way she
had married him, she was beloved!

She closed her eyes and let the joy flow over her, a sweet, sweet pain,
till almost it took her breath away, and brought tears to her happy
eyes.  He kissed them away, and said over and over, "My darling!  My
darling!  I have found you at last!" and she nestled closer to him and
hid her face against his breast.

It seemed a long time to Rags, and finally he broke away from his master
with a bound and stood barking joyously at their feet.

"Oh, there is Rags!" exclaimed Dawn, with a happy little laugh.  "Dear
Rags!"

"Yes!" said Rags in his own way.  "Dear _Teacher_! I’m glad I found
you!"

"And Dan is here, too," said Charles.  "Come here, Dan, and share our
joy."

Then came Daniel, his face red with embarrassment, and stood bashfully
before her.

"I found him, and he’s helped me to find you, dear," said Charles.
"He’s told me all about everything."

All dishevelled as she was, with her lovely hair about her shoulders,
Dawn stood bravely to receive him, and put out both hands to the boy.

"Dear Dan!" she said.

She took his hands in hers for an instant, and Dan bowed his head, but
he had nothing to say.  He felt that he had received a benediction.
Rags saw how he felt about it and tried to help him out.

"Me, too!" he barked, and Dawn, laughing, stooped and patted the dog
lovingly, while he wriggled himself half in two in his joy.

"But have you had any breakfast?" asked Charles, with sweet
responsibility in his tone, as Dawn shook back her curls and gathered
them into a knot on her head, fastening them with her comb quite
properly.  Dan lowered his eyes deferentially and looked away from the
pretty sight, knowing it was not for him.

Dawn’s face grew grave.

"Is it morning?" said she.  "How could I have slept so long when there
was so much to be done!  Mrs. Van Rensselaer——"

"I know, dear," Charles stopped her, "but she is being cared for.  The
woman told me she seemed a little better. I got her letter last evening,
and we came at once, Dan and I.  We had been down to New York, hunting
you, and just missed you.  We had gone home utterly discouraged, when
this note came, just these words, ’Dawn is here.’  We started at once.
How long had she been ill?"

"The letter?" said Dawn.  "I don’t understand.  I just came myself
yesterday morning.  She was very ill when I got here.  She couldn’t have
mailed any letter, unless——  Oh, it must be that she dragged herself out
and sent it while I was hunting hot water and a doctor for her?  The
doctor found her lying at the gate unconscious, and brought her in."

"She had done you a great injury," said Charles, with a grave face.

"But she almost gave her life to make it right again," said Dawn
solemnly.  "I have heard exertion is usually fatal in cholera.  And she
asked me twice to forgive her. Think of that!  Wasn’t it wonderful?  But
you don’t know her and can’t understand how unlike her that seems."

Dawn was crying softly now, and Charles soothed her anxiously.

"You must put the thought of it away, dear, or you will be ill, too.
Are you sure you feel quite well?  It was a terrible experience for you
to have to go through alone. Come, we must get you something to eat at
once.  What did you have last?  I hope you ate nothing that had been
around the sick-room."

"I ate two boiled eggs," said Dawn, smiling through her tears.  "It was
all I could find, and I was too tired to make a fire."

"Dear child!" said Charles.  "But it was the best thing you could have
done, I guess.  Dan, there’s that broth we brought along.  Betty put up
enough for a regiment."

"We will go to the kitchen and make a fire," said Dawn.  "You must have
breakfast, too.  You have had a long, hard ride."

"Yes, breakfast!" barked Rags impolitely.

Charles grew grave at once.

"Now, Dawn, you must not go near that house again. You have been
sufficiently exposed already.  Dan and I will bring you some breakfast.
I don’t like the idea of your eating anything that comes out of that
house.  It isn’t safe.  Couldn’t we make a little fire there at the edge
of the woods and warm that broth?  If we had a tin dish——"

"There’s a long-handled saucepan in the kitchen," said Dawn.  "I’ll go
and get it."

"You’ll stay right here," said Dan, in his kindly, gruff way.  "_I’ll_
go and get it."

Before they could stop him, he had gone, and in a few minutes he
returned with a pail of water, a tea-kettle, a saucepan, and three cups.
Then he gathered sticks, and he and Charles made the fire, rigging up a
kind of crane to hold the kettle.  Soon they had hot water to pour over
the dishes, and then Dawn heated the broth, and they each had a good
cupful.  Even Rags had a few spoonfuls, though he sat up quite politely
at a word from Dan, with his head cocked sideways, and a knowing look,
as much as to say, "Serve yourselves first, and I’ll lick the dishes."

After all, it was Dan who did everything for them. He told Charles that
it was best he should stay with his wife and guard her.  There was no
telling but she might get sick or something, and it was not safe for her
to be left alone just now.  Besides, it was Charles’s business to care
for her, and for that reason he must keep out of danger himself.  What
would happen to Dawn if Charles should get the cholera?

"But you might get it yourself, Dan, and we’d never forgive ourselves."

"Aw!" said Dan, turning away in scorn.  "Don’t you worry ’bout _me_."

So Dan had his way.  When the doctor came he agreed with Charles that
Dawn should be gotten away at once into a high, healthy region.  By this
time Mrs. Van Rensselaer’s brother had arrived with a faithful family
servant. There was no need to stay.  Mrs. Van Rensselaer had roused
herself to add her voice of urgency that Dawn go at once away from
contagion.  So they hitched their horses to the big Van Rensselaer
carriage and rode away on a second wedding journey, attended by Dan and
Rags, two faithful servitors.

Once during the afternoon, when Dan had left them for a few minutes,
they had looked after him lovingly:

"Dear Dan!" said Charles.  "I don’t know what I should have done without
him.  He must have his college course.  How would you like to have us
send him to Harvard as a sort of thank-offering for what he has done for
us?"

And Dawn smiled happily into her husband’s eyes as she answered:

"Oh, how beautiful!  Could we?"

They planned it all out briefly then, and that evening, at the setting
of the sun, as they rode forth from the plague-stricken village toward
the high, cool hills where waited the little white house, Charles
broached the subject to Dan.

Charles and Dawn were in the back seat, Dan driving in front, with Rags
at his feet, with his head held proudly, as if he had always ridden in a
carriage with two gray horses.

"Dan," said Charles, leaning forward a little that he might the better
see the boy’s face, "when Dawn and I go back to Cambridge in the fall,
for my last year at Harvard, we’re going to take you with us."

Rags smiled widely.  He had heard the talk in the afternoon, and he
expected to go to college himself.

Dan turned with a radiant, awed face, and grasped Charles’s hand.

"Could I?" he asked eagerly.  "_How_ could I?"

"You may need some preparation," said Charles. "Wouldn’t it be a good
idea for you to come up to our house in the hills and let me coach you?
How about it, Dawn?  We have always room for Dan, haven’t we?"

And Dawn, smiling and happy, assured the boy that he would always be
welcome.

Later, when Charles drew Dawn’s head down upon his shoulder in the
darkness, put his arm close about her, and with his free hand held both
of hers, there was tender joy and thankfulness.

Dan and Rags, up in front, knew that there were depths of happiness in
the back seat not for them, but they were content, for were they not
going to college, and in company with the two they loved best of all?

A week later Charles and Dawn stood together on the hillside, in front
of their own little house.  It was very early in the morning, and off
beyond another hill the sun was just flashing into view—a great red disc
against a sky of amethyst and opal.  Hill, valley, winding river, and
every tree and shrub were touched with the glory of the dawn.

They were watching Dan ride away to his home, to gather his belongings,
and prepare his family for the new order of his life.

In the afternoon Betty was to arrive by stage-coach. She was to spend
the rest of the hot weather in the cool hills with them, until the
cholera had disappeared.  This was their first time absolutely alone
together since they had known each other.

They stood silent, watching the gray figure of horse and man as it
proceeded slowly down the hillside and disappeared among the trees in
the shadowy road, where night was yet lurking.  Slowly, slowly, the sun
slipped up, until a great ball of ruby light grew into a brilliant glory
their eyes could not look upon.  And stretched before them lay the day,
with all its radiant possibilities.

"’And he shall be as the light of the morning when the sun riseth, even
a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth
by clear shining after rain,’" quoted Charles solemnly.

They involuntarily drew closer together as they looked. Then the husband
put his arm about the wife and, looking down upon her, said:

"Dawn of the Morning, do you know that you are like all that to me?"

She hid her happy face on his shoulder, and he bent down and whispered:

"Darling!  Dawn of my morning!  My Dawn!"



           *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *



                             THE NOVELS OF
                         GRACE LIVINGSTON HILL

    _are as thoroughly modern as they are wholesome and refreshing_

 May be had wherever books are sold.  Ask for Grosset & Dunlap’s list.


Mrs. Hill has the priceless gift of understanding, and it is this great
quality that makes her stories so true to life and her people so real.

THE RANSOM
HAPPINESS HILL
PATCH OF BLUE
THE CHALLENGERS
KERRY
THE CHANCE OF A LIFETIME
SILVER WINGS
LADYBIRD
THE WHITE LADY
THE GOLD SHOE
FOUND TREASURE
BLUE RUIN
THE PRODIGAL GIRL
DUSKIN
CRIMSON ROSES
OUT OF THE STORM
THE HONOR GIRL
JOB’S NIECE
A NEW NAME
ARIEL CUSTER
THE BEST MAN
THE CITY OF FIRE
CLOUDY JEWEL
DAWN OF THE MORNING
THE ENCHANTED BARN
EXIT BETTY
THE FINDING OF JASPER HOLT
THE GIRL FROM MONTANA
LO, MICHAEL
THE MAN OF THE DESERT
MARCIA SCHUYLER
PHOEBE DEANE
THE RED SIGNAL
TOMORROW ABOUT THIS TIME
THE TRYST
THE WITNESS
NOT UNDER THE LAW
RE-CREATIONS
THE WHITE FLOWER
THE VOICE IN THE WILDERNESS


                 GROSSET & DUNLAP _Publishers_ NEW YORK



                          LOUISE PLATT HAUCK’S
                           THRILLING ROMANCES

 May be had wherever books are sold.  Ask for Grosset & Dunlap’s list.


LIFE, LOVE AND JEANETTE

This story takes Jeanette Brokaw through the ecstasy of first love and
the joys and responsibilities of wifehood and motherhood; it leads her,
through dark waters, to permanent happiness.


THE STORY OF NANCY MEADOWS

There was true love between Nancy and Dwight, but her aloofness and his
susceptibility to women wrought havoc with their marriage.


THE PINK HOUSE

A fresh and gay love story of a girl who meets financial and emotional
disaster with her head up and her heart high.


THE WIFEHOOD OF JESSICA

Jessica was swept from her feet by Bill’s tempestuous wooing.  But
married life was far different from her dreams.  A novel of human
emotions.


TWO TOGETHER

A glamorous story of young love, its tenderness shot with bright threads
of gayety, its romance spiced with whimsicality.


SYLVIA

Lovely Sylvia was the victim of unrequited affection, so she sought the
High Mountain Peaks in which to heal her broken heart.


WILD GRAPE

A story of the Ozark Mountains which gives the reader glimpses of life
touched with mysticism, alive with romance but elemental in its
simplicity.


ANNE MARRIES AGAIN

An attractive young widow marries a second time and learns that all
marriages demand compromises and sacrifices.


PRINCE OF THE MOON

Page Copeland, nineteen, left her home in St. Joseph, Missouri, to visit
a well-to-do family in Kansas City, and encountered Romance.


                  GROSSET & DUNLAP Publishers NEW YORK





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