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Title: A Counterfeit Presentment and The Parlour Car
Author: Howells, William Dean, 1837-1920
Language: English
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      *      *      *      *      *      *


    _And published with Mr. Howells's sanction._










      *      *      *      *      *      *





Author's Edition

David Douglas, Castle Street

Edinburgh University Press
T. and A. Constable, Printers to Her Majesty.


Frederic Ernest Allsopp.



    I. AN EXTRAORDINARY RESEMBLANCE,                  7


    III. DISSOLVING VIEWS,                           99

    IV. NOT AT ALL LIKE,                            141

           *       *       *       *       *

    THE PARLOUR CAR, A FARCE,                       191




(_The Scene is always in the Parlour of the Ponkwasset Hotel._)



On a lovely day in September, at that season when the most sentimental
of the young maples have begun to redden along the hidden courses of the
meadow streams, and the elms, with a sudden impression of despair in
their languor, betray flecks of yellow on the green of their pendulous
boughs,--on such a day at noon, two young men enter the parlour of the
Ponkwasset Hotel, and deposit about the legs of the piano the burdens
they have been carrying: a camp-stool namely, a field-easel, a closed
box of colours, and a canvas to which, apparently, some portion of
reluctant nature has just been transferred. These properties belong to
one of the young men, whose general look and bearing readily identify
him as their owner: he has a quick, somewhat furtive eye, a full brown
beard, and hair that falls in a careless mass down his forehead, which,
as he dries it with his handkerchief, sweeping the hair aside, shows
broad and white; his figure is firm and square, without heaviness, and
in his movement as well as in his face there is something of
stubbornness, with a suggestion of arrogance. The other, who has
evidently borne his share of the common burdens from a sense of good
comradeship, has nothing of the painter in him, nor anything of this
painter's peculiar temperament: he has a very abstracted look and a
dark, dreaming eye: he is pale, and does not look strong. The painter
flings himself into a rocking chair and draws a long breath.

_Cummings_ (for that is the name of the slighter man, who remains
standing as he speaks).--"It's warm, isn't it?" His gentle face evinces
a curious and kindly interest in his friend's sturdy demonstrations of

_Bartlett._--"Yes, hot--confoundedly." He rubs his handkerchief
vigorously across his forehead, and then looks down at his dusty shoes,
with apparently no mind to molest them in their dustiness. "The idea of
people going back to town in this weather! However, I'm glad they're
such asses; it gives me free scope here. Every time I don't hear some
young woman banging on that piano, I fall into transports of joy."

_Cummings_, smiling.--"And after to-day you won't be bothered even with

_Bartlett._--"Oh, I shall rather miss you, you know. I like somebody to

_Cummings._--"You can contradict the ostler."

_Bartlett._--"No, I can't. They've sent him away; and I believe you're
going to carry off the last of the table-girls with you in the stage
to-morrow. The landlord and his wife are to run the concern themselves
the rest of the fall. Poor old fellow! The hard times have made lean
pickings for him this year. His house wasn't full in the height of the
season, and it's been pretty empty since."

_Cummings._--"I wonder he doesn't shut up altogether."

_Bartlett._--"Well, there are a good many transients, as they call them,
at this time of year,--fellows who drive over from the little hill-towns
with their girls in buggies, and take dinner and supper; then there are
picnics from the larger places, ten and twelve miles off, that come to
the grounds on the pond, and he always gets something out of them. And
as long as he can hope for anything else, my eight dollars a week are
worth hanging on to. Yes, I think I shall stay here all through October.
I've got no orders, and it's cheap. Besides, I've managed to get on
confidential terms with the local scenery; I thought we should like each
other last summer, and I feel now that we're ready to swear eternal
friendship. I shall do some fairish work here, yet. Phew!" He mops his
forehead again, and springing out of his chair he goes up to the canvas,
which he has faced to the wall, and turning it about retires some paces,
and with a swift, worried glance at the windows falls to considering it

_Cummings._--"You've done some fairish work already, if I'm any judge."
He comes to his friend's side, as if to get his effect of the picture.
"I don't believe the spirit of a graceful elm that just begins to feel
the approach of autumn was ever better interpreted. There is something
tremendously tragical to me in the thing. It makes me think of some
lovely and charming girl, all grace and tenderness, who finds the first
grey hair in her head. I should call that picture The First Grey Hair."

_Bartlett_, with unheeding petulance.--"The whole thing's too infernally
brown! I beg your pardon, Cummings: what were you saying? Go on! I like
your prattle about pictures; I do, indeed. I like to see how far you
art-cultured fellows can miss all that was in a poor devil's mind when
he was at work. But I'd rather you'd sentimentalise my pictures than
moralise them. If there's anything that makes me quite limp, it's to
have an allegory discovered in one of my poor stupid old landscapes. But
The First Grey Hair isn't bad, really. And a good, senseless, sloppy
name like that often sells a picture."

_Cummings._--"You're brutal, Bartlett. I don't believe your pictures
would own you, if they had their way about it."

_Bartlett._--"And I wouldn't own _them_ if I had _mine_. I've got about
forty that I wish somebody else owned--and I had the money for them; but
we seem inseparable. Glad you're going to-morrow? You _are_ a good
fellow, Cummings, and I _am_ a brute. Come, I'll make a great concession
to friendship: it struck me, too, while I was at work on that elm, that
it was something like--an old girl!" Bartlett laughs, and catching his
friend by either shoulder, twists him about in his strong clutch, while
he looks him merrily in the face. "I'm not a poet, old fellow; and
sometimes I think I ought to have been a painter and glazier instead of
a mere painter. I believe it would have paid better."

_Cummings._--"Bartlett, I hate to have you talk in that way."

_Bartlett._--"Oh, I know it's a stale kind."

_Cummings._--"It's worse than stale. It's destructive. A man can soon
talk himself out of heart with his better self. You can end by really
being as sordid-minded and hopeless and low-purposed as you pretend to
be. It's insanity."

_Bartlett._--"Good! I've had my little knock on the head, you know. I
don't deny being cracked. But I've a method in my madness."

_Cummings._--"They all have. But it's a very poor method; and I don't
believe you could say just what yours is. You think because a girl on
whom you set your fancy--it's nonsense to pretend it was your
heart--found out she didn't like you as well as she thought, and
honestly told you so in good time, that your wisest course is to take up
that rôle of misanthrope which begins with yourself and leaves people to
imagine how low an opinion you have of the rest of mankind."

_Bartlett._--"My dear fellow, you know I always speak well of that young
lady. I've invariably told you that she behaved in the handsomest
manner. She even expressed the wish--I distinctly remember being struck
by the novelty of the wish at the time--that we should remain friends.
You misconceive"--

_Cummings._--"How many poor girls have been jilted who don't go about
doing misanthropy, but mope at home and sorrow and sicken over their
wrong in secret,--a wrong that attacks not merely their pride, but their
life itself. Take the case I was telling you of: did you ever hear of
anything more atrocious? And do you compare this little sting to your
vanity with a death-blow like that?"

_Bartlett._--"It's quite impossible to compute the number of jilted
girls who take the line you describe. But if it were within the scope of
arithmetic, I don't know that a billion of jilted girls would comfort me
or reform me. I never could regard myself in that abstract way--a mere
unit on one side or other of the balance. My little personal snub goes
on rankling beyond the reach of statistical consolation. But even if
there were any edification in the case of the young lady in Paris, she's
too far off to be an example for me. Take some jilted girl nearer home,
Cummings, if you want me to go round sickening and sorrowing in secret.
I don't believe you can find any. Women are much tougher about the
pericardium than we give them credit for, my dear fellow,--much. I don't
see why it should hurt a woman more than a man to be jilted. We shall
never truly philosophise this important matter till we regard women with
something of the fine penetration and impartiality with which they
regard each other. Look at the stabs they give and take--they would kill
men! And the graceful ferocity with which they despatch any of their
number who happens to be down is quite unexampled in natural history.
How much do you suppose her lady friends have left of that poor girl
whose case wrings your foolish bosom all the way from Paris? I don't
believe so much as a boot-button. Why, even your correspondent--a very
lively woman, by the way--can't conceal under all her indignation her
little satisfaction that so _proud_ a girl as Miss What's-her-name
should have been jilted. Of course, she doesn't say it."

_Cummings_ hotly.--"_No_, she doesn't say it, and it's not to your
credit to imagine it."

_Bartlett_, with a laugh.--"Oh, I don't ask any praise for the
discovery. You deserve praise for not making it. It does honour to your
good heart. Well, don't be vexed, old fellow. And in trying to improve
me on this little point--a weak point, I'll allow, with me--do me the
justice to remember that I didn't flaunt my misanthropy, as you call it,
in your face; I didn't force my confidence upon you."

_Cummings_, with compunction.--"I didn't mean to hurt your feelings,

_Bartlett._--"Well, you haven't. It's all right."

_Cummings_, with anxious concern.--"I wish I could think so."

_Bartlett_, dryly.--"You have _my_ leave--my request, in fact." He
takes a turn about the room, thrusting his fingers through the hair on
his forehead, and letting it fall in a heavy tangle, and then pulling at
either side of his parted beard. In facing away from one of the sofas at
the end of the room, he looks back over his shoulder at it, falters,
wheels about, and picks up from it a lady's shawl and hat. "Hallo!" He
lets the shawl fall again into picturesque folds on the sofa. "This is
the spoil of no local beauty, Cummings. Look here; I don't understand
this. There has been an arrival."

_Cummings_, joining his friend in contemplation of the hat and shawl:
"Yes; it's an arrival beyond all question. Those are a _lady's_ things.
I should think that was a Paris hat." They remain looking at the things
some moments in silence.

_Bartlett._--"How should a Paris hat get here? I know the landlord
wasn't expecting it. But it can't be going to stay; it's here through
some caprice. It may be a transient of quality, but it's a transient. I
suppose we shall see the young woman belonging to it at dinner." He sets
the hat on his fist, and holds it at arm's length from him. "What a
curious thing it is about clothes"--

_Cummings._--"Don't, Bartlett, don't!"


_Cummings._--"I don't know. It makes me feel as if you were offering an
indignity to the young lady herself."

_Bartlett._--"You express my idea exactly. This frippery has not only
the girl's personality but her very spirit in it. This hat looks like
her; you can infer the whole woman from it, body and soul. It has a
conscious air, and so has the shawl, as if they had been eavesdropping
and had understood everything we were saying. They know all about my
heart-break, and so will she as soon as she puts them on; she will be
interested in me. The hat's in good taste, isn't it?"

_Cummings_, with sensitive reverence for the millinery which his friend
handles so daringly.-- "Exquisite it seems to me; but I don't know about
such things."

_Bartlett._--"Neither do I; but I feel about them. Besides, a painter
and glazier sees some things that are hidden from even a progressive
minister. Let us interpret the lovely being from her hat. This knot of
pale-blue flowers betrays her a blonde; this lace, this mass of silky,
fluffy, cob-webby what-do-you-call-it, and this delicate straw fabric
show that she is slight; a stout woman would kill it, or die in the
attempt. And I fancy--here pure inspiration comes to my aid--that she is
tallish. I'm afraid of her! No--wait! The shawl has something to say."
He takes it up and catches it across his arm, where he scans it
critically. "I don't know that I understand the shawl, exactly. It
proves her of a good height,--a short woman wouldn't, or had better not,
wear a shawl,--but this black colour: should you think it was mourning?
Have we a lovely young widow among us?"

_Cummings._--"I don't see how it could go with the hat, if it were."

_Bartlett._--"True; the hat is very pensive in tone, but it isn't
mourning. This shawl's very light, it's very warm; I construct from it a
pretty invalid." He lets the shawl slip down his arm to his hand, and
flings it back upon the sofa. "We return from the young lady's heart to
her brain--where she carries her sentiments. She has a nice taste in
perfumes, Cummings: faintest violet; that goes with the blue. Of what
religion is a young lady who uses violet, my reverend friend?"

_Cummings._--"Bartlett, you're outrageous. Put down that hat!"

_Bartlett._--"No, seriously. What is her little æsthetic specialty? Does
she sketch? Does she scribble? Tell me, thou wicked hat, does she flirt?
Come; out with the vows that you have heard poured into the shelly ear
under this knot of pale-blue flowers! Where be her gibes now, her
gambols, her flashes of merriment? Now get you to my lady's chamber, and
tell her, let her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must come;
make her laugh at that. Dost thou think, Horatio Cummings, Cleopatra
looked o' this fashion? And smelt so?"--he presses the knot of
artificial flowers to his moustache--"Pah!" He tosses the hat on the
sofa and walks away.

_Cummings._--"Bartlett, this is atrocious. I protest"--

_Bartlett._--"Well, give me up, I tell you." He returns, and takes his
friend by the shoulders, as before, and laughs. "I'm not worth your
refined pains. I might be good, at a pinch, but I never could be truly

_Cummings._--"You like to speak an infinite deal of nothing, don't

_Bartlett._--"It's the only thing that makes conversation." As he
releases Cummings, and turns away from him, in the doorway he confronts
an elderly gentleman, whose white hair and white moustache give
distinction to his handsome florid face. There is something military in
his port, as he stands immoveably erect upon the threshold, his left
hand lodged in the breast of his frock-coat, and his head carried with
an officer-like air of command. His visage grows momently redder and
redder, and his blue eyes blaze upon Bartlett with a fascinated glare
that briefly preludes the burst of fury with which he advances toward



_General Wyatt._--"You infernal scoundrel! What are you doing here?" He
raises his stick at Bartlett, who remains motionlessly frowning in
wrathful bewilderment, his strong hand knotting itself into a fist where
it hangs at his side, while Cummings starts toward them in dismay, with
his hand raised to interpose. "Didn't I tell you if I ever set eyes on
you again, you villain--didn't I warn you that if you ever crossed my
path, you"-- He stops with a violent self-arrest, and lets his stick drop
as he throws up both his hands in amaze. "Good Heavens! It's a mistake!
I beg your pardon, sir; I do, indeed." He lets fall his hands, and
stands staring into Bartlett's face with his illusion apparently not
fully dispelled. "A mistake, sir, a mistake. I was misled, sir, by the
most prodigious resemblance"-- At the sound of voices in the corridor
without, he turns from Bartlett, and starts back toward the door.

_A Voice_, very sweet and weak, without.--"I left them in here, I

_Another Voice._--"You must sit down, Constance, and let me look."

_The First Voice._--"Oh, they'll be here."

_General Wyatt_, in a loud and anxious tone.--"Margaret, Margaret!
Don't bring Constance in here! Go away!" At the moment he reaches the
door by which he came in, two ladies in black enter the parlour by the
other door, the younger leaning weakly on the arm of the elder, and with
a languidly drooping head letting her eyes rove listlessly about over
the chairs and sofas. With an abrupt start at sight of Bartlett, who has
mechanically turned toward them, the elder lady arrests their movement.


MRS. WYATT, CONSTANCE, _and the others_.

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Oh, in mercy's name!" The young lady wearily lifts her
eyes; they fall upon Bartlett's face, and a low cry parts her lips as
she approaches a pace or two nearer, releasing her arm from her

_Constance._--"Ah!" She stops; her thin hands waver before her face, as
if to clear or to obstruct her vision, and all at once she sinks forward
into a little slender heap upon the floor, almost at Bartlett's feet. He
instantly drops upon his knees beside her, and stoops over her to lift
her up.

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Don't touch her, you cruel wretch! Your touch is poison;
the sight of you is murder!" Kneeling on the other side of her daughter,
she sets both her hands against his breast and pushes him back.

_General Wyatt._--"Margaret, stop! Look! Look at him again! It isn't

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Not he? Don't tell me! What?" She clutches Bartlett's
arm, and scans his face with dilating eyes. "Oh! it isn't, it isn't! But
go away,--go away, all the same! You may be an innocent man, but she
would perish in your presence. Keep your hands from her, sir! If your
wicked heart is not yet satisfied with your wicked work--Excuse me; I
_don't_ know what I'm saying! But if you have any pity in your faithless
soul--I--oh, _speak_ for me, James, and send him--implore him to go
away!" She bows her face over her daughter's pale visage, and sobs.

_General Wyatt._--"Sir, you must pardon us, and have the great
goodness to be patient. You have a right to feel yourself aggrieved by
what has happened, but no wrong is meant,--no offence. You must be so
kind as to go away. I will make you all the needed apologies and
explanations." He stoops over his daughter, as Bartlett, in a sort of
daze, rises from his knees and retires a few steps. "I beg your pardon,
sir,"--addressing himself to Cummings,--"will you help me a moment?"
Cummings, with delicate sympathy and tenderness, lifts the arms of the
insensible girl to her father's neck, and assists the General to rise
with his burden. "Thanks! She's hardly heavier, poor child, than a
ghost." The tears stand in his eyes, as he gathers her closer to him and
kisses her wan cheek. "Sir,"--as he moves away he speaks to
Bartlett,--"do me the favour to remain here till I can return to offer
you reparation." He makes a stately effort to bow to Bartlett in leaving
the room, while his wife, who follows with the young lady's hat and
shawl, looks back at the painter with open abhorrence.



_Bartlett_, turning to his friend from the retreating group on which he
has kept his eyes steadfastly fixed.--"Where are their keepers?" He is
pale with suppressed rage.

_Cummings._--"Their keepers?"

_Bartlett_, savagely.--"Yes! Have they escaped from them, or is it one
of the new ideas to let lunatics go about the country alone? If that old
fool hadn't dropped his stick, I'd have knocked him over that table in
another instant. And that other old maniac,--what did she mean by
pushing me back in that way? How do you account for this thing,
Cummings? What do you make of it?"

_Cummings._--"I don't know, upon my word. There seems to be some
mystery,--some painful mystery. But the gentleman will be back directly,
I suppose, and"--

_Bartlett_, crushing his hat over his eyes.--"I'll leave you to receive
him and his mystery. I've had enough of both." He moves toward the door.

_Cummings_, detaining him.--"Bartlett, you're surely not going away?"

_Bartlett._--"Yes, I am!"

_Cummings._--"But he'll be here in a moment. He said he would come back
and satisfy the claim which you certainly have to an explanation."

_Bartlett_, furiously.--"Claim? I've a perfect Alabama Claim to an
explanation. He can't satisfy it; he shall not try. It's a little too
much to expect me to be satisfied with anything he can say after what's
passed. Get out of the way, Cummings, or I'll put you on top of the

_Cummings._--"You may throw me out of the window, if you like, but not
till I've done my best to keep you here. It's a shame, it's a crime to
go away. You talk about lunatics: you're a raving madman, yourself. Have
one glimmer of reason, do; and see what you're about. It's a mistake;
it's a misunderstanding. It's his right, it's your duty, to have it
cleared up. Come, you've a conscience, Bartlett, and a clean one. Don't
give way to your abominable temper. What? You won't stay? Bartlett, I
blush for you!"

_Bartlett._--"Blush unseen, then!" He thrusts Cummings aside and pushes
furiously from the room. Cummings looks into the corridor after him, and
then returns, panting, to the piano, and mechanically rearranges the
things at his feet; he walks nervously away, and takes some turns up and
down the room, looking utterly bewildered, and apparently uncertain
whether to go or stay. But he has decided upon the only course really
open to him by sinking down into one of the armchairs, when General
Wyatt appears at the threshold of the door on the right of the piano.
Cummings rises and comes forward in great embarrassment to meet him.



_General Wyatt_, with a look of surprise at not seeing Bartlett.--"The
other gentleman"--

_Cummings._--"My friend has gone out. I hope he will return soon. He
has--I hardly know what to say to you, sir. He has done himself great
injustice; but it was natural that under the circumstances"--

_General Wyatt_, with hurt pride.--"Perfectly. I should have lost my
temper, too; but I think I should have waited at the request--the prayer
of an older man. I don't mind his temper; the other villain had _no_
temper. Sir, am I right in addressing you as the Rev. Arthur Cummings?"

_Cummings._--"My name is Arthur Cummings. I am a minister."

_General Wyatt._--"I thought I was not mistaken this time. I heard you
preach last Sunday in Boston; and I know your cousin, Major Cummings of
the 34th Artillery. I am General Wyatt."

_Cummings_, with a start of painful surprise and sympathy.--"General

_General Wyatt_, keenly.--"Your cousin has mentioned me to you?"

_Cummings._--"Yes,--oh yes, certainly; certainly, very often, General
Wyatt. But"--endeavouring to recover himself--"your name is known to us
all, and honoured. I--I am glad to see you back; I--understood you were
in Paris."

_General Wyatt_, with fierce defiance.--"I was in Paris three weeks
ago." Some moments of awkward silence ensue, during which General Wyatt
does not relax his angry attitude.

_Cummings_, finally.--"I am sorry my friend is not here to meet you. I
ought to say, in justice to him, that his hasty temper does great wrong
to his heart and judgment."

_General Wyatt._--"Why, yes, sir; so does mine--so does mine."

_Cummings_, with a respectful smile lost upon the General.--"And I know
that he will certainly be grieved in this instance to have yielded to

_General Wyatt_, with sudden meekness.--"I hope so, sir. But I am not
altogether sorry that he has done it. I have not only an explanation but
a request to make,--a very great and strange favour to ask,--and I am
not sure that I should be able to treat him civilly enough throughout an
entire interview to ask it properly." Cummings listens with an air of
attentive respect, but makes, to this strange statement, no response
other than a look of question, while the General pokes about on the
carpet at his feet with the point of his stick for a moment before he
brings it resolutely down upon the floor with a thump, and resumes,
fiercely again: "Sir, your friend is the victim of an extraordinary
resemblance, which is so much more painful to us than we could have made
it to him that I have to struggle with my reason to believe that the
apology should not come from his side rather than mine. He may feel that
we have outraged him, but every look of his, every movement, every tone
of his voice, is a mortal wound, a deadly insult to us. He should not
live, sir, in the same solar system!" The General deals the floor
another stab with his cane, while his eyes burn vindictively upon the
mild brown orbs of Cummings, wide open with astonishment. He falters,
with returning consciousness of his attitude: "I--I beg your pardon,
sir; I am ridiculous." He closes his lips pathetically, and lets fall
his head. When he lifts it again, it is to address Cummings with a
singular gentleness: "I know that I speak to a gentleman."

_Cummings._--"I try to be a good man."

_General Wyatt._--"I had formed that idea of you, sir, in the pulpit.
Will you do me the great kindness to answer a question, personal to
myself, which I must ask?"

_Cummings._--"By all means."

_General Wyatt._--"You spoke of supposing me still in Paris. Are you
aware of any circumstances--painful circumstances--connected with my
presence there? Pardon my asking; I wouldn't press you if I could help."

_Cummings_, with reluctance.--"I had just heard something about--a
letter from a friend"--

_General Wyatt_, bitterly.--"The news has travelled fast. Well, sir, a
curious chance--a pitiless caprice of destiny--connects your friend with
that miserable story." At Cummings's look of amaze: "Through no fault of
his, sir; through no fault of his. Sir, I shall not seem to obtrude my
trouble unjustifiably upon you when I tell you how; you will see that it
was necessary for me to speak. I am glad you already know something of
the affair, and I am sure that you will regard what I have to say with
the right feeling of a gentleman,--of, as you say, a good man."

_Cummings._--"Whatever you think necessary to say to me shall be sacred.
But I hope you won't feel that it is necessary to say anything more. I
am confident that when my friend has your assurance from me that what
has happened is the result of a distressing association"--

_General Wyatt._--"I thank you, sir. But something more is due to him;
how much more you shall judge. Something more is due to us: I wish to
preserve the appearance of sanity, in his eyes and your own.
Nevertheless"--the General's tone and bearing perceptibly stiffen--"if
you are reluctant"--

_Cummings_, with reverent cordiality.--"General Wyatt, I shall feel
deeply honoured by whatever confidence you repose in me. I need not say
how dear your fame is to us all." General Wyatt, visibly moved, bows to
the young minister. "It was only on your account that I hesitated."

_General Wyatt._--"Thanks. I understand. I will be explicit, but I will
try to be brief. Your friend bears this striking, this painful
resemblance to the man who has brought this blight upon us all; yes,
sir,"--at Cummings's look of deprecation,--"to a scoundrel whom I hardly
know how to characterise aright--in the presence of a clergyman. Two
years ago--doubtless your correspondent has written--my wife and
daughter (they were then abroad without me) met him in Paris; and he won
the poor child's affection. My wife's judgment was also swayed in his
favour,--against her first impulse of distrust; but when I saw him, I
could not endure him. Yet I was helpless: my girl's happiness was bound
up in him; all that I could do was to insist upon delay. He was an
American, well related, unobjectionable by all the tests which society
can apply, and I might have had to wait long for the proofs that an
accident gave me against him. The man's whole soul was rotten; at the
time he had wound himself into my poor girl's innocent heart, a woman
was living who had the just and perhaps the legal claim of a wife upon
him; he was a felon besides,--a felon shielded through pity for his
friends by the man whose name he had forged; he was of course a liar and
a coward: I beat him with my stick, sir. Ah! I made him confess his
infamy under his own hand, and then"--the General advances defiantly
upon Cummings, who unconsciously retires a pace--"and then I compelled
him to break with my daughter. Do you think I did right?"

_Cummings._--"I don't exactly understand."

_General Wyatt._--"Why, sir, it happens often enough in this shabby
world that a man gains a poor girl's love, and then jilts her. I chose
what I thought the less terrible sorrow for my child. I could not tell
her how filthily unworthy he was without bringing to her pure heart a
sense of intolerable contamination; I could not endure to speak of it
even to my wife. It seemed better that they should both suffer such
wrong as a broken engagement might bring them than that they should know
what I knew. He was master of the part, and played it well; he showed
himself to them simply a heartless scoundrel, and he remains in my
power, an outcast now and a convict whenever I will. My story, as it
seems to be, is well known in Paris; but the worst is unknown. I choose
still that it shall be thought my girl was the victim of a dastardly
slight, and I bear with her and her mother the insolent pity with which
the world visits such sorrow." He pauses, and then brokenly resumes:
"The affair has not turned out as I hoped, in the little I could hope
from it. My trust that the blow, which must sink so deeply into her
heart, would touch her pride, and that this would help her to react
against it, was mistaken. In such things it appears a woman has no
pride; I did not know it; we men are different. The blow crushed her;
that was all. Sometimes I am afraid that I must yet try the effect of
the whole truth upon her; that I must try if the knowledge of all his
baseness cannot restore to her the self-respect which the wrong done
herself seems to have robbed her of. And yet I tremble lest the sense of
his fouler shame--I may be fatally temporising; but in her present
state, I dread any new shock for her; it may be death--I"-- He pauses
again, and sets his lips firmly; all at once he breaks into a sob. "I--I
beg your pardon, sir."

_Cummings._--"Don't! You wrong yourself and me. I have seen Miss Wyatt;
but I hope"--

_General Wyatt._--"You have seen her ghost. You have not seen the
radiant creature that was once alive. Well, sir; enough of this. There
is little left to trouble you with. We landed eight days ago, and I have
since been looking about for some place in which my daughter could hide
herself; I can't otherwise suggest her morbid sensitiveness, her terror
of people. This region was highly commended to me for its healthfulness;
but I have come upon this house by chance. I understood that it was
empty, and I thought it more than probable that we might pass the autumn
months here unmolested by the presence of any one belonging to our
world, if not in entire seclusion. At the best, my daughter would hardly
have been able to endure another change at once; so far as anything
could give her pleasure, the beauty and the wild quiet of the region had
pleased her, but she is now quite prostrated, sir,"--

_Cummings_, definitively.--"My friend will go away at once. There is
nothing else for it."

_General Wyatt._--"That is too much to ask."

_Cummings._--"I won't conceal my belief that he will think so. But there
can be no question with him when"--

_General Wyatt._--"When you tell him our story?" After a moment: "Yes,
he has a right to know it--as the rest of the world knows it. You must
tell him, sir."

_Cummings_, gently.--"No, he need know nothing beyond the fact of this
resemblance to some one painfully associated with your past lives. He is
a man whose real tenderness of heart would revolt from knowledge that
could inflict further sorrow upon you."

_General Wyatt._--"Sir, will you convey to this friend of yours an old
man's very humble apology, and sincere prayer for his forgiveness?"

_Cummings._--"He will not exact anything of that sort. The evidence of
misunderstanding will be clear to him at a word from me."

_General Wyatt._--"But he has a right to this explanation from my own
lips, and-- Sir, I am culpably weak. But now that I have missed seeing
him here, I confess that I would willingly avoid meeting him. The mere
sound of his voice, as I heard it before I saw him, in first coming upon
you, was enough to madden me. Can you excuse my senseless dereliction to

_Cummings._--"I will answer for him."

_General Wyatt._--"Thanks. It seems monstrous that I should be asking
and accepting these great favours. But you are doing a deed of charity
to a helpless man utterly beggared in pride." He chokes with emotion,
and does not speak for a moment. "Your friend is also--he is not also--a

_Cummings_, smiling.--"No. He is a painter."

_General Wyatt._--"Is he a man of note? Successful in his profession?"

_Cummings._--"Not yet. But that is certain to come."

_General Wyatt._--"He is poor?"

_Cummings._--"He is a young painter."

_General Wyatt._--"Sir, excuse me. Had he planned to remain here some
time yet?"

_Cummings_, reluctantly.--"He has been sketching here. He had expected
to stay through October."

_General Wyatt._--"You make the sacrifice hard to accept--I beg your
pardon! But I must accept it. I am bound hand and foot."

_Cummings._--"I am sorry to have been obliged to tell you this."

_General Wyatt._--"I obliged you, sir; I obliged you. Give me your
advice, sir; you know your friend. What shall I do? I am not rich. I
don't belong to a branch of the government service in which people
enrich themselves. But I have my pay; and if your friend could sell me
the pictures he's been painting here"--

_Cummings._--"That's quite impossible. There is no form in which I could
propose such a thing to a man of his generous pride."

_General Wyatt._--"Well, then, sir, I must satisfy myself as I can to
remain his debtor. Will you kindly undertake to tell him?"

_An Elderly Serving-Woman_, who appears timidly and anxiously at the
right-hand door.--"General Wyatt."

_General Wyatt_, with a start.--"Yes, Mary! Well?"

_Mary_, in vanishing.--"Mrs. Wyatt wishes to speak with you."

_General Wyatt_, going up to Cummings.-- "I must go, sir. I leave unsaid
what I cannot even try to say." He offers his hand.

_Cummings_, grasping the proffered hand.--"Everything is understood."
But as Mr. Cummings returns from following General Wyatt to the door,
his face does not confirm the entire security of his words. He looks
anxious and perturbed, and when he has taken up his hat and stick, he
stands pondering absent-mindedly. At last he puts on his hat and starts
briskly toward the door. Before he reaches it, he encounters Bartlett,
who advances abruptly into the room. "Oh! I was going to look for you."



_Bartlett_, sulkily.--"Were you?" He walks, without looking at Cummings,
to where his painter's paraphernalia are lying, and begins to pick them

_Cummings._--"Yes." In great embarrassment: "Bartlett, General Wyatt has
been here."

_Bartlett_, without looking round.--"Who is General Wyatt?"

_Cummings._--"I mean the gentleman who--whom you wouldn't wait to see."

_Bartlett._--"Um!" He has gathered the things into his arms, and is
about to leave the room.

_Cummings_, in great distress.--"Bartlett, Bartlett! Don't go! I
implore you, if you have any regard for me whatever, to hear what I have
to say. It's boyish, it's cruel, it's cowardly to behave as you're

_Bartlett._--"Anything more, Mr. Cummings? I give you benefit of

_Cummings._--"I take it--to denounce your proceeding as something that
you'll always be sorry for and ashamed of."

_Bartlett._--"Oh! Then, if you have quite freed your mind, I think I may

_Cummings._--"No, no! You mustn't go. Don't go, my dear fellow. Forgive
me! I know how insulted you feel, but upon my soul it's all a
mistake,--it is, indeed. General Wyatt"--Bartlett falters a moment and
stands as if irresolute whether to stay and listen or push on out of the
room--"the young lady--I don't know how to begin!"

_Bartlett_, relenting a little.--"Well? I'm sorry for _you_, Cummings. I
left a very awkward business to you, and it wasn't yours either. As for
General Wyatt, as he chooses to call himself"--

_Cummings_, in amaze.--"_Call_ himself? It's his _name_!"

_Bartlett._--"Oh, very likely! So is King David his name, when he
happens to be in a Scriptural craze. What explanation have you been
commissioned to make me? What apology?"

_Cummings._--"The most definite, the most satisfactory. You resemble in
a most extraordinary manner a man who has inflicted an abominable wrong
upon these people, a treacherous and cowardly villain"--

_Bartlett_, in a burst of fury.--"Stop! Is that your idea of an apology,
an explanation? Isn't it enough that I should be threatened, and
vilified, and have people fainting at the sight of me, but I must be
told by way of reparation that it all happens because I look like a

_Cummings._--"My dear friend! Do listen to me!"

_Bartlett._--"No, sir, I won't listen to you! I've listened too much!
What right, I should like to know, have they to find this resemblance in
me? And do they suppose that I'm going to be placated by being told that
they treat me like a rogue because I look like one? It is a little too
much. A man calls 'Stop thief' after me and expects me to be delighted
when he tells me I look like a thief! The reparation is an additional
insult. I don't choose to know that they fancy this infamous resemblance
in me. Their pretending it is an outrage; and your reporting it to me is
an offence. Will you tell them what I say? Will you tell this General
Wyatt and the rest of his Bedlam-broke-loose, that they may all go to

_Cummings._--"For shame, for shame! You outrage a terrible sorrow! You
insult a trouble sore to death! You trample upon, an anguish that should
be sacred to your tears!"

_Bartlett_, resting his elbow on the corner of the piano.--"What--what
do you mean, Cummings?"

_Cummings._--"What do I mean? What you are not worthy to know! I mean
that these people, against whom you vent your stupid rage, are worthy of
angelic pity. I mean that by some disastrous mischance you resemble to
the life, in tone, manner, and feature, the wretch who won that poor
girl's heart, and then crushed it; who--Bartlett, look here! These are
the people--this is the young lady--of whom my friend wrote me from
Paris: do you understand?"

_Bartlett_, in a dull bewilderment.--"No, I don't understand."

_Cummings._--"Why, you know what we were talking of just before they
came in: you know what I told you of that cruel business."


_Cummings._--"Well, this is the young lady"--

_Bartlett_, dauntedly.--"Oh, come now! You don't expect me to believe
that! It isn't a stage-play."

_Cummings._--"Indeed, indeed, I tell you the miserable truth."

_Bartlett._--"Do you mean to say that _this_ is the young girl who was
jilted in that way? Who--Do you mean-- Do you intend to tell me-- Do you

_Cummings._--"Yes, yes, yes!"

_Bartlett._--"Why, man, she's in Paris, according to your own showing!"

_Cummings._--"She was in Paris three weeks ago. They have just brought
her home, to help her hide her suffering, as if it were her shame, from
all who know it. They are in this house by chance, but they are here. I
mean what I say. You _must_ believe it, shocking and wild as it is."

_Bartlett_, after a prolonged silence in which he seems trying to
realise the fact.--"If you were a man capable of such a ghastly
joke--but that's impossible." He is silent again, as before. "And
I-- What did you say about me? That I look like a man who"-- He stops and
stares into Cummings's face without speaking, as if he were trying to
puzzle the mystery out; then, with fallen head, he muses in a voice of
devout and reverent tenderness: "That--that--broken--lily! Oh!" With a
sudden start he flings his burden upon the closed piano, whose hidden
strings hum with the blow, and advances upon Cummings: "And you can
_tell_ it? Shame on _you_! It ought to be known to no one upon earth!
And you--you show that gentle creature's death-wound to teach something
like human reason to a surly dog like me? Oh, it's monstrous! I _wasn't_
worth it. Better have let me go, where I would, how I would. What did it
matter what I thought or said? And I--I look like that devil, do I? I
have his voice, his face, his movement? Cummings, you've over-avenged

_Cummings._--"Don't take it that way, Bartlett. It _is_ hideous. But I
didn't make it so, nor you. It's a fatality, it's a hateful chance. But
you see now, don't you, Bartlett, how the sight of you must affect them,
and how anxious her father must be to avoid you? He most humbly asked
your forgiveness, and he hardly knew how to ask that you would not let
her see you again. But I told him there could be no question with you;
that of course you would prevent it, and at once. I know it's a great
sacrifice to expect you to go"--

_Bartlett._--"Go? What are you talking about?" He breaks again from the
daze into which he had relapsed. "If there's a hole on the face of the
earth where I can hide myself from them, I want to find it. What do you
think I'm made of? Go? I ought to be shot away out of a mortar; I ought
to be struck away by lightning! Oh, I can't excuse you, Cummings! The
indelicacy, the brutality of telling me that! No, no,--I can't overlook
it." He shakes his head and walks away from his friend; then he returns,
and bends on him a look of curious inquiry. "Am I really such a
ruffian"--he speaks very gently, almost meekly, now--"that you didn't
believe anything short of that would bring me to my senses? Who told you
this of her?"

_Cummings._--"Her father."

_Bartlett._--"Oh, that's too loathsome! Had the man no soul, no mercy?
Did he think me such a consummate beast that nothing less would drive me
away? Yes, he did! Yes, I made him think so! Oh!" He hangs his head and
walks away with a shudder.

_Cummings._--"I don't know that he did you that injustice; but I'm
afraid _I_ did. I was at my wits' end."

_Bartlett_, very humbly.--"Oh, I don't know that you were wrong."

_Cummings._--"I suppose that his anxiety for her life made it
comparatively easy for him to speak of the hurt to her pride. She can't
be long for this world."

_Bartlett._--"No, she had the dying look!" After a long pause, in which
he has continued to wander aimlessly about the room: "Cummings, is it
necessary that you should tell him you told me?"

_Cummings._--"You know I hate concealments of any kind, Bartlett."

_Bartlett._--"Oh, well; do it then!"

_Cummings._--"But I don't know that we shall see him again; and even if
we do, I don't see how I can tell him unless he asks. It's rather

_Bartlett._--"Well, take that little sin on your conscience if you can.
It seems to me too ghastly that I should know what you've told me; it's
indecent. Cummings,"--after another pause,--"how does a man go about
such a thing? How does he contrive to tell the woman whose heart he has
won that he doesn't care for her, and break the faith that she would
have staked her life on? Oh, I know,--women do such things, too; but
it's different, by a whole world's difference. A man comes and a man
goes, but a woman _stays_. The world is before him after that happens,
and we don't think him much of a man if he can't get over it. But she,
she has been sought out; she has been made to believe that her smile and
her looks are heaven, poor, foolish, helpless idol! her fears have been
laid, all her pretty maidenly traditions, her proud reserves overcome;
she takes him into her inmost soul,--to find that his love is a lie, a
lie! Imagine it! She can't do anything. She can't speak. She can't move
as long as she lives. She must stay where she has been left, and look
and act as if nothing had happened. Oh, good Heaven! And I, _I_ look
like a man who could do that!" After a silence: "I feel as if there were
blood on me!" He goes to the piano, and gathering up his things turns
about towards Cummings again: "Come, man; I'm going. It's sacrilege to
stay an instant,--to exist."

_Cummings._--"Don't take it in that way, Bartlett. I blame myself very
much for not having spared you in what I said. I wouldn't have told you
of it, if I could have supposed that an accidental resemblance of the
sort would distress you so."

_Bartlett_, contritely.--"You had to tell me. I forced you to extreme
measures. I'm quite worthy to look like him. Good Lord! I suppose I
should be capable of his work." He moves towards the door with his
burden, but before he reaches it General Wyatt, from the corridor, meets
him with an air of confused agitation. Bartlett halts awkwardly, and
some of the things slip from his hold to the floor.



_General Wyatt._--"Sir, I am glad to see you." He pronounces the
civility with a manner evidently affected by the effort to reconcile
Bartlett's offensive personal appearance with his own sense of
duty. "I--I was sorry to miss you before; and now I wish-- Your
friend"--referring with an inquiring glance to Cummings--"has explained
to you the cause of our very extraordinary behaviour, and I hope you"--

_Bartlett._--"Mr. Cummings has told me that I have the misfortune to
resemble some one with whom you have painful associations. That is quite
enough, and entirely justifies you. I am going at once, and I trust you
will forgive my rudeness in absenting myself a moment ago. I have a bad
temper; but I never could forgive myself if I had forced my friend"--he
turns and glares warningly at Cummings, who makes a faint pantomime of
conscientious protest as Bartlett proceeds--"to hear anything more than
the mere fact from you. No, no,"--as General Wyatt seems about to
speak,--"it would be atrocious in me to seek to go behind it. I wish to
know nothing more." Cummings gives signs of extreme unrest at being made
a party to this tacit deception, and General Wyatt, striking his palms
hopelessly together, walks to the other end of the room. Bartlett
touches the fallen camp-stool with his foot. "Cummings, will you be kind
enough to put that on top of this other rubbish?" He indicates his
armful, and as Cummings complies, he says in a swift fierce whisper:
"Her secret is mine. If you dare to hint that you've told it to me,
I'll--I'll assault you in your own pulpit." Then to General Wyatt, who
is returning toward him: "Good-morning, sir."

_General Wyatt._--"Oh! Ah! Stop! That is, don't go! Really, sir, I
don't know what to say. I must have seemed to you like a madman a moment
ago, and now I've come to play the fool." Bartlett and Cummings look
their surprise, and General Wyatt hurries on: "I asked your friend to
beg you to go away, and now I am here to beg you to remain. It's
perfectly ridiculous, sir, I know, and I can say nothing in defence of
the monstrous liberties I have taken. Sir, the matter is simply this: my
daughter's health is so frail that her life seems to hang by a thread,
and I am powerless to do anything against her wish. It may be a culpable
weakness, but I cannot help it. When I went back to her from seeing your
friend, she immediately divined what my mission had been, and it had the
contrary effect from what I had expected. Well, sir! Nothing would
content her but that I should return and ask you to stay. She looks upon
it as the sole reparation we can make you."

_Bartlett_, gently.--"I understand that perfectly; and may I beg you to
say that in going away I thanked her with all my heart, and ventured to
leave her my best wishes?" He bows as if to go.

_General Wyatt_, detaining him.--"Excuse me--thanks--but--but I am
afraid she will not be satisfied with that. She will be satisfied with
nothing less than your remaining. It is the whim of a sick child--which
I must ask you to indulge. In a few days, sir, I hope we may be able to
continue on our way. It would be simply unbearable pain to her to know
that we had driven you away, and you must stay to show that you have
forgiven the wrong we have done you."

_Bartlett._--"That's nothing, less than nothing. But I was thinking--I
don't care for myself in the matter--that Miss Wyatt is proposing a very
unnecessary annoyance for you all. My friend can remain and assure her
that I have no feeling whatever about the matter, and in the meantime I
can remove--the embarrassment--of my presence."

_General Wyatt._--"Sir, you are very considerate, very kind. My own
judgment is in favour of your course, and yet"--

_Cummings._--"I think my friend is right, and that when he is gone"--

_General Wyatt._--"Well, sir! well, sir! It may be the best way. I think
it _is_ the best. We will venture upon it. Sir,"--to Bartlett,--"may I
have the honour of taking your hand?" Bartlett lays down his burden on
the piano, and gives his hand. "Thank you, thank you! You will not
regret this goodness. God bless you! May you always prosper!"

_Bartlett._--"Good-bye; and say to Miss Wyatt"--At these words he
pauses, arrested by an incomprehensible dismay in General Wyatt's face,
and turning about he sees Cummings transfixed at the apparition of Miss
Wyatt advancing directly toward himself, while her mother coming behind
her exchanges signals of helplessness and despair with the General. The
young girl's hair, thick and bronze, has been heaped in hasty but
beautiful masses on her delicate head; as she stands with fallen eyes
before Bartlett, the heavy lashes lie dark on her pale cheeks, and the
blue of her eyes shows through their transparent lids. She has a fan
with which she makes a weak pretence of playing, and which she puts to
her lips as if to hide the low murmur that escapes from them as she
raises her eyes to Bartlett's face.


CONSTANCE, MRS. WYATT, _and the others_.

_Constance_, with a phantom-like effort at hauteur.--"I hope you have
been able to forgive the annoyance we caused you, and that you won't let
it drive you away." She lifts her eyes with a slow effort, and starts
with a little gasp as they fall upon his face, and then remains
trembling before him while he speaks.

_Bartlett_, reverently.--"I am to do whatever you wish. I have no
annoyance--but the fear that--that"--

_Constance_, in a husky whisper.--"Thanks!" As she turns from him to go
back to her mother, she moves so frailly that he involuntarily puts out
his hand.

_Mrs. Wyatt_, starting forward.--"No!" But Constance clutches his
extended arm with one of her pale hands, and staying herself for a
moment lifts her eyes again to his, looks steadily at him with her face
half turned upon him, and then, making a slight, sidelong inclination of
the head, releases his arm and goes to her mother, who supports her to
one of the easy-chairs and kneels beside her when she sinks into it.
Bartlett, after an instant of hesitation, bows silently and withdraws,
Cummings having already vanished. Constance watches him going, and then
hides her face on her mother's neck.





_Constance._--"And he is still here? He is going to stay on, mother?"
She reclines in a low folding chair, and languidly rests her head
against one of the pillows with which her mother has propped her; on the
bright coloured shawl which has been thrown over her lie her pale hands
loosely holding her shut fan. Her mother stands half across the parlour
from her, and wistfully surveys her work, to see if some touch may not
yet be added for the girl's comfort.

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Yes, my child. He will stay. He told your father he
would stay."

_Constance._--"That's very kind of him. He's very good."

_Mrs. Wyatt_, seating herself before her daughter.--"Do you really wish
him to stay? Remember how weak you are, Constance. If you are taking
anything upon yourself out of a mistaken sense of duty, of compunction,
you are not kind to your poor father or to me. Not that I mean to
reproach you."

_Constance._--"Oh, no. And I am not unkind to you in the way you think.
I'm selfish enough in wishing him to stay. I can't help wanting to see
him again and again,--it's so strange, so strange. All this past week,
whenever I've caught a glimpse of him, it's been like an apparition; and
whenever he has spoken, it has been like a ghost speaking. But I haven't
been afraid since the first time. No, there's been a dreary comfort in
it; you won't understand it; I can't understand it myself; but I know
now why people are glad to see their dead in dreams. If the ghost went,
there would be nothing."

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Constance, you break my heart!"

_Constance._--"Yes, I know it; it's because I've none." She remains a
little space without speaking, while she softly fingers the edges of the
fan lying in her lap. "I suppose we shall become more acquainted, if he

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Why, not necessarily, dear. You need know nothing more
of him than you do now. He seems very busy, and not in the least
inclined to intrude upon us. Your father thinks him a little odd, but
very gentlemanly."

_Constance_, dreamily.--"I wonder what he would think if he knew that
the man whom I would have given my life did not find my love worth
having? I suppose it _was_ worthless; but it seemed so much in the
giving; it was that deceived me. He was wiser. Oh, me!" After a silence:
"Mother, why was I so different from other girls?"

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"So different, Constance? You were only different in
being lovelier and better than others."

_Constance._--"Ah, that's the mistake! If that were true, it could
never have happened. Other girls, the poorest and plainest, are kept
faith with; but I was left. There must have been something about me that
made him despise me. Was I silly, mother? Was I too bold, too glad to
have him care for me? I was so happy that I couldn't help showing it.
May be that displeased him. I must have been dull and tiresome. And I
suppose I was somehow repulsive, and at last he couldn't bear it any
longer and had to break with me. Did I dress queerly? I know I looked
ridiculous at times; and people laughed at me before him."

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Oh, Constance, Constance! Can't you understand that it
was his unworthiness alone, his wicked heartlessness?"

_Constance_, with gentle slowness.--"No, I can't understand that. It
happened after we had learned to know each other so well. If he had been
fickle, it would have happened long before that. It was something odious
in me that he didn't see at first. I have thought it out. It seems
strange now that people could ever have tolerated me." Desolately:
"Well, they have their revenge."

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Their revenge on _you_, Constance? What harm did you
ever do them, my poor child? Oh, you mustn't let these morbid fancies
overcome you. Where is our Constance that used to be,--our brave, bright
girl, that nothing could daunt, and nothing could sadden?"

_Constance_, sobbing.--"Dead, dead!"

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"I can't understand! You are so young still, and with
the world all before you. Why will you let one man's baseness blacken it
all, and blight your young life so? Where is your pride, Constance?"

_Constance._--"Pride? What have I to do with pride? A thing like me!"

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Oh, child, you're pitiless! It seems as if you took a
dreadful pleasure in torturing those who love you."

_Constance._--"You've said it, mother. I do. I know now that I am a
vampire, and that it's my hideous fate to prey upon those who are
dearest to me. He must have known, he must have felt the vampire in me."

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Constance!"

_Constance._--"But at least I can be kind to those who care nothing for
me. Who is this stranger? He must be an odd kind of man to forgive us.
What is he, mother?--if he is anything in himself; he seems to me only a
likeness, not a reality."

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"He is a painter, your father says." Mrs. Wyatt gives a
quick sigh of relief, and makes haste to confirm the direction of the
talk away from Constance: "He is painting some landscapes here. That
friend of his who went to-day is a cousin of your father's old friend,
Major Cummings. He is a minister."

_Constance._--"What is the painter's name? Not that it matters. But I
must call him something if I meet him again."

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Mr. Bartlett."

_Constance._--"Oh yes, I forgot." She falls into a brooding silence. "I
wonder if _he_ will despise me--if he will be like in that too?" Mrs.
Wyatt sighs patiently. "Why do you mind what I say, mother? I'm not
worth it. I must talk on, or else go mad with the mystery of what has
been. We were so happy; he was so good to me, so kind; there was nothing
but papa's not seeming to like him; and then suddenly, in an instant, he
turns and strikes me down! Yes, it was like a deadly blow. If you don't
let me believe that it was because he saw all at once that I was utterly
unworthy, I can't believe in anything."

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Hush, Constance; you don't know what you're saying."

_Constance._--"Oh, I know too well! And now this stranger, who is so
like him--who has all his looks, who has his walk, who has his
voice,--won't he have his insight too? I had better show myself for what
I am, at once--weak, stupid, selfish, false; it'll save me the pain of
being found out. Pain? Oh, I'm past hurting! Why do you cry, mother? I'm
not worth your tears."

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"You're all the world to us, Constance; you know it,
child. Your poor father"--

_Constance._--"Does papa really like me?"

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Constance!"

_Constance._--"No; but why should he? He never liked _him_; and
sometimes I've wondered, if it wasn't papa's not liking him that first
set him against me. Of course, it was best he should find me out, but
still I can't keep from thinking that if he had never _begun_ to dislike
me! I noticed from the first that after papa had been with us he was
cold and constrained. Mother, I had better say it: I don't believe I
love papa as I ought. There's something in my heart--some
hardness--against him when he's kindest to me. If he had only been
kinder to _him_"--

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Kinder to _him_? Constance, you drive me wild! Kind to
a wolf, kind to a snake! Kind to the thief who has robbed us of all that
made our lives dear; who stole your love, and then your hope, your
health, your joy, your pride, your peace! And you think your father
might have been kinder to _him_! Constance, you were our little girl
when the war began,--the last of brothers and sisters that had died. You
seemed given to our later years to console and comfort us for those that
had been taken; and you were _so_ bright and gay! All through those
dreadful days and months and years you were our stay and hope,--mine at
home, his in the field. Our letters were full of you,--like young
people's with their first child; all that you did and said I had to tell
him, and then he had to talk it over in his answers back. When he came
home at last after the peace--can you remember it, Constance?"

_Constance._--"I can remember a little girl that ran down the street,
and met an officer on horseback. He was all tanned and weather-beaten;
he sat his horse at the head of his troop like a statue of bronze. When
he saw her come running, dancing down the street, he leaped from his
horse and caught her in his arms, and hugged her close and kissed her,
and set her all crying and laughing in his saddle, and walked on beside
her; and the men burst out with a wild yell, and the ragged flags
flapped over her, and the music flashed out"-- She rises in her chair
with the thrill of her recollection; her voice comes free and full, and
her pale cheeks flush; suddenly she sinks back upon the pillows: "Was it
really I, mother?"

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Yes, it was you, Constance. And do you remember all
through your school-days, how proud and fond he was of you? what
presents and feasts and pleasures he was always making you? I thought he
would spoil you; he took you everywhere with him, and wanted to give you
everything. When I saw you growing up with his pride and quick temper, I
trembled, but I felt safe when I saw that you had his true and tender
heart too. You can never know what a pang it cost him to part with you
when we went abroad, but you can't forget how he met you in Paris?"

_Constance._--"Oh, no, no! Poor papa!"

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Oh, child! And I could tell you something of his bitter
despair when he saw the man"--

_Constance_, wearily.--"You needn't tell me. I knew it as soon as they
met, without looking at either of them."

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"And when the worst that he feared came true, he was
almost glad, I believe. He thought, and I thought, that your
self-respect would come to your aid against such treachery."

_Constance._--"My self-respect? Now I know you've not been talking of

_Mrs. Wyatt_, desperately.--"Oh, what shall I do?"

_Mary_, the serving-woman, at the door.--"If you please, Mrs. Wyatt, I
can't open Miss Constance's hat-box."

_Mrs. Wyatt_, rising.--"Oh, yes. There's something the matter with the
lock. I'll come, Mary." She looks at Constance.

_Constance._--"Yes, go, mother. I'm perfectly well here. I like being
alone well enough." As Mrs. Wyatt, after a moment's reluctance, goes
out, the girl's heavy eyelids fall, and she lies motionless against her
pillows, while the fan, released from her careless hold, slides slowly
over the shawl, and drops with a light clash upon the floor. She starts
at the sound, and utters a little involuntary cry at sight of Bartlett,
who stands irresolute in the doorway on her right. He makes as if to
retreat, but at a glance from her he remains.



_Bartlett_, with a sort of subdued gruffness.--"I'm afraid I disturbed

_Constance_, passively.--"No, I think it was my fan. It fell."

_Bartlett._--"I'm glad I can lay the blame on the fan." He comes
abruptly forward and picks it up for her. She makes no motion to receive
it, and he lays it on her lap.

_Constance_, starting from the abstraction in which she has been gazing
at him.--"Oh! thanks."

_Bartlett_, with constraint.--"I hope you're better this morning?"

_Constance._--"Yes." She has again fallen into a dreamy study of him,
as unconscious, apparently, as if he were a picture before her, the
effect of which is to reduce him to a state of immovable awkwardness. At
last he tears himself loose from the spot on which he has been
petrifying, and takes refuge in the business which has brought him into
the room.

_Bartlett._--"I came to look for one of my brushes. It must have dropped
out of my traps here the other day." He goes up to the piano and looks
about the floor, while Constance's gaze follows him in every attitude
and movement. "Ah, here it is! I knew it would escape the broom under
the landlady's relaxed régime. If you happen to drop anything in this
room, Miss Wyatt, you needn't be troubled; you can always find it just
where it fell." Miss Wyatt's fan again slips to the floor, and Bartlett
again picks it up and restores it to her: "A case in point."

_Constance_, blushing faintly.--"Don't do it for me. It isn't worth

_Bartlett_, gravely.--"It doesn't take a great deal of time, and the
exercise does me good." Constance faintly smiles, but does not relax her
vigilance. "Isn't that light rather strong for you?" He goes to the
glass doors opening on the balcony, and offers to draw down one of their

_Constance._--"It doesn't make any difference."

_Bartlett_, bluffly.--"If it's disagreeable it makes some difference. Is
it disagreeable?"

_Constance._--"The light's strong"--Bartlett dashes the curtain
down--"but I could see the mountain." He pulls the curtain up.

_Bartlett._--"I beg your pardon." He again falls into statue-like
discomposure under Miss Wyatt's gaze, which does not seek the distant
slopes of Ponkwasset, in spite of the lifted curtain.

_Constance._--"What is the name? Do you know?"

_Bartlett._--"Whose? Oh! Ponkwasset. It's not a pretty name, but it's
aboriginal. And it doesn't hurt the mountain." Recovering a partial
volition, he shows signs of a purpose to escape, when Miss Wyatt's next
question arrests him.

_Constance._--"Are you painting it, Mr.--Bartlett?"

_Bartlett_, with a laugh.--"Oh no, I don't soar so high as mountains; I
only lift my eyes to a tree here and there, and a bit of pasture and a
few of the lowlier and friendlier sort of rocks." He now so far effects
his purpose as to transfer his unwieldy presence to a lateral position
as regards Miss Wyatt. The girl mechanically turns her head upon the
pillow and again fixes her sad eyes upon him.

_Constance._--"Have you ever been up it?"

_Bartlett._--"Yes, half a dozen times."

_Constance._--"Is it hard to climb--like the Swiss mountains?"

_Bartlett._--"_You_ must speak for the Swiss mountains after you've
tried Ponkwasset, Miss Wyatt. I've never been abroad."

_Constance_, her large eyes dilating with surprise.--"Never been

_Bartlett._--"I enjoy that distinction."

_Constance._--"Oh! I thought you had been abroad." She speaks with a
slow, absent, earnest accent, regarding him, as always, with a look of
wistful bewilderment.

_Bartlett_, struggling uneasily for his habitual lightness.--"I'm sorry
to disappoint you, Miss Wyatt. I will go abroad as soon as possible. I'm
going out in a boat this morning to work at a bit on the point of the
island yonder, and I'll take lessons in sea-faring." Bartlett, managing
at last to get fairly behind Miss Wyatt's chair, indulges himself in a
long, low sigh of relief, and taking out his handkerchief rubs his face
with it.

_Constance_, with sudden, meek compunction.--"I've been detaining you."

_Bartlett_, politely coming forward again.--"Oh no, not at all! I'm
afraid I've tired _you_."

_Constance._--"No, I'm glad to have you stay." In the unconscious
movement necessary to follow Bartlett in his changes of position, the
young girl has loosened one of the pillows that prop her head. It slowly
disengages itself and drops to the floor. Bartlett, who has been
crushing his brush against the ball of his thumb, gives a start of
terror, and looks from Constance to the pillow, and back again to
Constance in despair.

_Constance._--"Never mind." She tries to adjust her head to the
remaining pillows, and then desists in evident discomfort.

_Bartlett_, in great agony of spirit.--"I--I'm afraid you miss it."

_Constance._--"Oh no."

_Bartlett._--"Shall I call your mother, Miss Wyatt?"

_Constance._--"No. Oh no. She will be here presently. Thank you so

Bartlett eyes the pillow in renewed desperation.

_Bartlett._--"Do you think--do you suppose I could"-- Recklessly: "Miss
Wyatt, let _me_ put back that pillow for you!"

_Constance_, promptly, with a little flush:--"Why, you're very good! I'm
ashamed to trouble you." As she speaks, she raises her head, and lifts
herself forward slightly by help of the chair-arms; two more pillows
topple out, one on either side, unknown to her.

_Bartlett_, maddened by the fresh disaster:--"Good Lord!" He flings
himself wildly upon the first pillow, and crams it into the chair behind
Miss Wyatt; then without giving his courage time to flag, he seizes the
others, and packs them in on top of it: "Will that do?" He stands hot
and flushed, looking down upon her, as she makes a gentle attempt to
adjust herself to the mass.

_Constance._--"Oh, perfectly." She puts her hand behind her and feebly
endeavours to modify Bartlett's arrangement.

_Bartlett._--"What is it?"

_Constance._--"Oh--nothing. Ah--would--would you draw this one a
little--toward you? So! Thanks. And that one--out a little on the--other
side? You're very kind; that's right. And this one under my neck--lift
it up a little? Ah, thank you ever so much." Bartlett, in a fine frenzy,
obeying these instructions, Miss Wyatt at last reposes herself against
the pillows, looks up into his embarrassed face, and deeply blushes;
then she turns suddenly white, and weakly catching up her fan she passes
it once or twice before her face, and lets it fall: "I'm a
little--faint." Bartlett seizes the fan, and after a moment of silent
self-dedication kneels down beside her chair, and fans her.

_Constance_, after a moment:--"Thanks, thanks. You are very good. I'm
better now. I'm ashamed to have troubled you. But I seem to live only to
give trouble."

_Bartlett_, with sudden deep tenderness:--"Oh, Miss Wyatt, you mustn't
say that. I'm sure I--we all--that is--shall I call your mother _now_,
Miss Wyatt?"

_Constance_, after a deep breath, firmly:--"No. I'm quite well, now.
She is busy. But I know I'm keeping _you_ from your work,"--with ever so
slight a wan little smile. "I mustn't do that."

_Bartlett._--"Oh, you're not _keeping_ me! There's no hurry. I can work
later just as well."

_Constance._--"Then,"--with a glance at his devout posture, of which
Bartlett has himself become quite unconscious,--"won't you sit down, Mr.

_Bartlett_, restored to consciousness and confusion:--"Thanks; I think
it will be better." He rises, and in his embarrassment draws a chair to
the spot on which he has been kneeling, and sits down very close to her.
He keeps the fan in his hand, as he talks: "It's rather nice out there,
Miss Wyatt,--there on the island. You must be rowed out as soon as you
can stand it. The General would like it."

_Constance._--"Is it a large place, the island?"

_Bartlett._--"About two acres, devoted exclusively to golden-rod and
granite. The fact is, I was going to make a little study of golden-rod
and granite, there. You shall visit the Fortunate Isle in my sketch,
this afternoon, and see whether you'd like to go, really. People camp
out there in the summer. Who knows, but if you keep on--gaining--this
way, you may yet feel like camping out there yourself before you go
away? You do begin to feel better, don't you? Everybody cries up this

_Constance._--"It's very pleasant; it seems fine and pure. Is the island
a pretty place?"

_Bartlett_, glancing out at it over his shoulder:--"Well, you get the
best of it from the parlour window, here. Not that it's so bad when
you're on it; there's a surly, frugal, hard-headed kind of beauty about
it,--like the local human nature--and it has its advantages. If you were
camping out there, you could almost provision yourself from the fish and
wild fowl of the surrounding waters,--supposing any of your party liked
to fish or shoot. Does your father like shooting?"

_Constance._--"No, I don't believe he cares for it."

_Bartlett._--"I'm glad of that. I shall be spared the painful
hospitality of pointing out the best places for ducks." At an inquiring
look from Constance: "I'm glad for their sakes, not mine; _I_ don't want
to kill them."

_Constance_, with grave mistrust:--"Not like shooting?"

_Bartlett._--"No, I think it's the sneakingest sort of assassination;
it's the pleasure of murder without the guilt. If you must kill, you
ought to be man enough to kill something that you'll suffer remorse for.
Do you consider those atrocious sentiments, Miss Wyatt? I assure you
that they're entirely my own."

_Constance_, blankly.--"I wasn't thinking--I was thinking--I supposed
you liked shooting."

_Bartlett_, laughing uneasily.--"How did you get that impression?"

_Constance_, evasively.--"I thought all gentlemen did."

_Bartlett._--"They do in this region. It's the only thing that can
comfort them in affliction. The other day our ostler's brother lost his
sweetheart--she died, poor girl--and the ostler and another friend had
him over here to cheer him up. They took him to the stable, and whittled
round among the stalls with him half the forenoon, and let him rub down
some of the horses; they stood him out among the vegetables and let him
gather some of the new kind of potato-bugs; they made him sit in the
office with his feet on top of the stove; they played billiards with
him; but he showed no signs of resignation till they borrowed three
squirrel-guns and started with him to the oak woods yonder. That seemed
to 'fetch' him. You should have seen them trudging off together with
their guns all aslant,--this way,--the stricken lover in the middle!"
Bartlett rises to illustrate, and then at the deepening solemnity of
Constance's face he desists in sudden dismay: "Miss Wyatt, I've shocked

_Constance._--"Oh, no--no!"

_Bartlett._--"It _was_ shocking. I wonder how I could do it! I--I
thought it would amuse you."

_Constance_, mournfully.--"It did, thank you, very much." After a pause:
"I didn't know you liked--joking."

_Bartlett._--"Ah! I don't believe I do--all kinds. Good Lord--I beg your
pardon." Bartlett turns away with an air of guilty consciousness, and
goes to the window and looks out, Constance's gaze following him: "It's
a wonderful day!" He comes back toward her: "What a pity you couldn't be
carried there in your chair!"

_Constance._--"I'm not equal to that yet." Presently: "Then

_Bartlett._--"Why, that's mere shop in a landscape painter. I get my
bread and butter by her. At least I ought to have some feeling of

_Constance_, hastily.--"Of course, of course. It's very stupid of me,

_Bartlett_, with the desperate intention of grappling with the
situation.--"I see you have a passion for formulating, classifying
people, Miss Wyatt. That's all very well, if one's characteristics were
not so very characteristic of everybody else. But I generally find in my
moments of self-consciousness, when I've gone round priding myself that
such and such traits are my peculiar property, that the first man I meet
has them all and as many more, and isn't the least proud of them. I dare
say you don't see anything very strange in them, so far."

_Constance_, musingly.--"Oh, yes; very strange indeed. They're

_Bartlett._--"Well! I don't know--I'm very sorry-- Then you consider it
wrong not to like shooting and to be fond of joking and nature, and"--

_Constance_, bewilderedly.--"Wrong? Oh no!"

_Bartlett._--"Oh, I'm glad to hear it. But you just said it was."

_Constance_, slowly recalling herself, with a painful blush, at
last.--"I meant--I meant I didn't expect any of those things of you."

_Bartlett_, with a smile.--"Well, on reflection, I don't know that I
did, either. I think they must have come without being expected. Upon my
word, I'm tempted to propose something very ridiculous."

_Constance_, uneasily.--"Yes? What is that?"

_Bartlett._--"That you'll let me try to guess _you_ out. I've failed so
miserably in my own case, that I feel quite encouraged."

_Constance_, morbidly.--"I'm not worth the trouble of guessing out."

_Bartlett._--"That means no. You always mean no by yes, because you
can't bear to say no. That is the mark of a very deep and darkling
nature. I feel that I _could_ go on and read your mind perfectly, but
I'm afraid to do it. Let's get back to myself. I can't allow that you've
failed to read my mind aright; I think you were careless about it. Will
you give your intuitions one more chance?"

_Constance_, with an anxious smile.--"Oh yes."

_Bartlett._--"All those traits and tastes which we both find so
unexpected in me are minor matters at the most. The great test question
remains. If you answer it rightly, you prove yourself a mind-reader of
wonderful power; if you miss it-- The question is simply this: Do I like

_Constance_, instantly, with a quick, involuntary pressure of her
handkerchief to her delicate nostrils.--"Oh, yes, indeed!"

_Bartlett_, daunted and reddening.--"Miss Wyatt, you have been deluding
me. You are really a mind-reader of great subtlety."

_Constance._--"I don't know--I can't say that it was _mind_-reading
exactly." She lifts her eyes to his, and in his embarrassment he passes
his hand over his forehead and then feels first in one pocket, and then
in the other for his handkerchief; suddenly he twitches it forth, and
with it a pipe, half a dozen cigars, and a pouch of smoking tobacco,
which fly in different directions over the floor. As he stoops in dismay
and sweeps together these treasures, she cries: "Oh, it didn't need all
_that_ to prove it!" and breaks into a wild, helpless laugh, and
striving to recover herself with many little moans and sighs behind her
handkerchief, laughs on and on: "Oh, don't! I oughtn't! Oh dear, oh
dear!" When at last she lies spent with her reluctant mirth, and
uncovers her face, Bartlett is gone, and it is her mother who stands
over her, looking down at her with affectionate misgiving.



_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Laughing, Constance?"

_Constance_, with a burst of indignant tears.--"Yes, yes! Isn't it
shocking? It's horrible! He made me."

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"He?"

_Constance_, beginning to laugh again.--"Mr. Bartlett; he's been here.
Oh, I _wish_ I _wouldn't_ be so silly!"

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Made you? How could he make _you_ laugh, poor child?"

_Constance._--"Oh, it's a long story. It was all through my
bewilderment at his resemblance. It confused me. I kept thinking it was
_he_,--as if it were some dream,--and whenever this one mentioned some
trait of his that totally differed from _his_, don't you know, I got
more and more confused, and--mamma!"--with sudden desolation--"I know he
knows all about it!"

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"I am sure he doesn't. Mr. Cummings only told him that
his resemblance was a painful association. He assured your father of
this, and wouldn't hear a word more. I'm certain you're wrong. But what
made you think he knows?"

_Constance_, solemnly.--"He behaved just as if he didn't."

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Ah, you can't judge from that, my dear." Impressively:
"Men are very different."

_Constance_, doubtfully.--"Do you think so, mamma?"

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"I'm certain of it."

_Constance_, after a pause.--"Mamma, will you help take this shawl off
my feet? I am so warm. I think I should like to walk about a little. Can
you see the island from the gallery?"

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Do you think you'd better try to leave your chair,

_Constance._--"Yes, I'm stronger this morning. And I shall never gain,
lounging about this way." She begins to loose the wraps from her feet,
and Mrs. Wyatt coming doubtfully to her aid she is presently freed. She
walks briskly towards the sofa, and sits down quite erectly in the
corner of it. "There! that's pleasanter. I get so tired of being a
burden." She is silent, and then she begins softly and wearily to laugh

_Mrs. Wyatt_, smiling curiously.--"What is it, Constance? I don't at all
understand what made you laugh."

_Constance._--"Why, don't you know? Several times after I had been
surprised that he didn't like this thing, and hadn't that habit and the
other, he noticed it, and pretended that it was an attempt at
mind-reading, and then all at once he turned and said I must try once
more, and he asked, 'Do I like smoking?' and I said instantly, 'Oh,
yes!' Why, it was like having a whole tobacconist's shop in the same
room with you from the moment he came in; and of course he understood
what I meant, and blushed, and then felt for his handkerchief, and
pulled it out, and discharged a perfect volley of pipes and tobacco,
that seemed to be tangled up in it, all over the floor, and then I began
to laugh--so silly, so disgusting; so perfectly flat! and I thought I
should _die_, it was so ridiculous! and-- Oh, dear, I'm beginning
again!" She hides her face in her handkerchief and leans her head on the
back of the sofa: "Say something, _do_ something to stop me, mother!"
She stretches an imploring left hand toward the elder lady, who still
remains apparently but half convinced of any reason for mirth, when
General Wyatt, hastily entering, pauses in abrupt irresolution at the
spectacle of Constance's passion.



_Constance._--"_Oh_, ha, ha, ha! Oh, _ha_, ha, ha, ha!"

_General Wyatt._--"Margaret! Constance!" At the sound of his voice,
Constance starts up with a little cry, and stiffens into an attitude of
ungracious silence, without looking at her father, who turns with an
expression of pain toward her mother.

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Yes, James. We were laughing at something Constance had
been telling me about Mr. Bartlett. Tell your father, Constance."

_Constance_, coldly, while she draws through her hand the handkerchief
which she has been pressing to her eyes.--"I don't think it would amuse
papa." She passes her hand across her lap, and does not lift her heavy

_Mrs. Wyatt_, caressingly.--"Oh, yes, it would; I'm sure it would."

_Constance._--"You can tell it then, mamma."

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"No; you, my dear. You tell it so funnily; and"--in a
lower tone--"it's so long since your father heard you laugh."

_Constance._--"There was nothing funny in it. It was disgusting. I was
laughing from nervousness."

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Why, Constance"--

_General Wyatt._--"Never mind, Margaret. Another time will do." He
chooses to ignore the coldness of his daughter's bearing toward himself.
"I came to see if Constance were not strong enough to go out on the lake
this morning. The boats are very good, and the air is so fine that I
think she'll be the better for it. Mr. Bartlett is going out to the
island to sketch, and"--

_Constance._--"I don't care to go."

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Do go, my daughter! I know it will do you good."

_Constance._--"I am not strong enough."

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"But you said you were better, just now; and you should
yield to to your father's judgment."

_Constance._--"I will do whatever papa bids me."

_General Wyatt._--"I don't bid you. Margaret, I think I will go out
with Mr. Bartlett. We will be back at dinner." He turns and leaves the
room without looking again at Constance.



_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Oh, Constance! How can you treat your father so coldly?
You will suffer some day for the pain you give him!"

_Constance._--"Suffer? No, I'm past that. I've exhausted my power of

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"You haven't exhausted your power of making others

_Constance_, crouching listlessly down upon the sofa.--"I told you that
I lived only to give pain. But it's my fate, not my will. Nothing but
that can excuse me."

_Mrs. Wyatt_, wringing her hands.--"Oh, oh! Well, then, give _me_ pain
if you must torment somebody. But spare your father,--spare the heart
that loves you so tenderly, you unhappy girl."

_Constance_, with hardness.--"Whenever I see papa, my first thought is,
If he had not been so harsh and severe, it might never have happened!
What can I care for his loving me when he hated _him_? Oh, _I_ will do
my duty, mother; _I_ will obey; I _have_ obeyed, and I know how. Papa
can't demand anything of me _now_ that isn't easy. I have forgiven
everything, and if you give me time I can forget. I _have_ forgotten. I
have been laughing at something so foolish, it ought to make me cry for

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Constance, you try me beyond all endurance! You talk of
forgiving, you talk of forgetting, you talk of that wretch! Forgive
_him_, forget _him_, if you can. If he had been half a man, if he had
ever cared a tithe as much for you as for himself, all the hate of all
the fathers in the world could not have driven him from you. You talk of

_Mary, the serving woman_, flying into the room.--"Oh, please, Mrs.
Wyatt! There are four men carrying somebody up the hill. And General
Wyatt just went down, and I can't see him anywhere, and"--

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"You're crazy, Mary! He hasn't been gone a moment; there
isn't time; it can't be he!" Mrs. Wyatt rushes to the gallery that
overlooks the road to verify her hope or fear, and then out of one of
the doors into the corridor, while Constance springs frantically to her
feet and runs toward the other door.

_Constance._--"Oh, yes, yes! It's papa! It's my dear, good, kind papa!
He's dead; he's drowned; I drove him away; I murdered him! Ah-h-h-h!"
She shrinks back with a shriek at sight of Bartlett, whose excited face
appears at the door.--"Go! It was you, _you_ who made me hate my father!
You made me kill him, and now I abhor you! I"--

_Bartlett._--"Wait! Hold on! What is it all?"

_Constance._--"Oh, forgive me! I didn't mean--I didn't know it was you,
sir! But where _is_ he? Oh, take me to him! Is he dead?" She seizes his
arm, and clings to it trembling.

_Bartlett._--"Dead? No, he isn't dead. He was knocked over by a team
coming behind him down the hill, and was slightly bruised. There's no
cause for alarm. He sent me to tell you; they've carried him to your

_Constance._--"Oh, thank Heaven!" She bows her head with a sob, upon
his shoulder, and then lifts her tearful eyes to his: "Help me to get to
him! I am weak." She totters and Bartlett mechanically passes a
supporting arm about her. "Help me, and don't--don't leave me!" She
moves with him a few paces toward the door, her head drooping; but all
at once she raises her face again, stares at him, stiffly releases
herself, and with a long look of reproach walks proudly away to the
other door, by which she vanishes without a word.

_Bartlett_, remaining planted, with a bewildered glance at his empty
arm: "Well, I wonder who and what and where I am!"





In the parlour stands an easel with a canvas of inordinate dimensions
upon it, and near this a small table, with a fresh box of colours in
tubes, and a holiday outfit of new brushes, pallet, and other artist's
materials, evidently not the property of Bartlett. Across the room from
this apparatus is stretched Constance's easy-chair, towards which
General Wyatt, bearing some marks of his recent accident in a bandaged
wrist and a stiff leg, stumps heavily, supported by Mrs. Wyatt. Beside
this chair is the centre-table of the parlour, on which are an open box
of cigars, and a pile of unopened newspapers.

_General Wyatt_, dropping into the chair with a groan.--"Well, my dear!
I feel uncommonly ashamed of myself, taking Constance's chair in this
manner. Though there's a great consolation in thinking she doesn't need
it any longer." Settling himself more comfortably in the chair, and
laying his stick across his knees: "Margaret, I begin to be very happy
about Constance. I haven't had so light a heart for many a long day. The
last month has made a wonderful change in her. She is almost like her
old self again."

_Mrs. Wyatt_, sighing.--"Yes, it seems almost too good to be true. I
don't know quite what to make of it. Sometimes, I almost fear for her
mind. I'm sure that half the time she forgets that Mr. Bartlett isn't
that wretch, and I can see her awake with a start to the reality every
little while, and then wilfully lull her consciousness to sleep again.
He's terribly like. I can hardly keep from crying out at times; and
yesterday I did give way: I was _so_ ashamed, and he looked so _hurt_. I
see Constance restrain herself often, and I dare say there are times
that we don't know of when she doesn't."

_General Wyatt._--"Well, all that may be. But it's a thing that will
right itself in time. We must do our best not to worry him. This painter
is a fine fellow, my dear. I took a great fancy to him at the beginning.
I liked him from the moment I saw him."

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"James! You were going to strike him with your cane."

_General Wyatt._--"That was before I saw _him_. I was going to strike
the other one. But that's neither here nor there. We must be careful not
to hurt his feelings; that's all. We've got our Constance back again,
Margaret. Impossible as it seems, we have got her back by his help.
Isn't it wonderful to see that killing weight lifted from her young
life? It's like a miracle."

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"It isn't lifted _all_ the time, James."

_General Wyatt._--"No matter--no matter. It isn't crushing her all the
time either. I'm glad for what relief there is, and I feel that all is
going well. Do you hear that step, Margaret? Listen! That's _like_ the
old bounding tread of our little girl. Where is the leaden-footed
phantom that used to drag along that hall? Is she coming this way?"

_Mrs. Wyatt_, listening.--"No, she is going to our rooms. Has Mr.
Bartlett been here yet?"

_General Wyatt._--"Not yet. He was to come when he got back from his
sketching. _What_ a good fellow, to take so much trouble for Constance's
amusement! It was uncommonly kind of Mr. Bartlett, Margaret, offering to
give her these lessons."

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Yes, it worries me."

_General Wyatt._--"Why in the world should it worry you, Margaret?"

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"You can't offer him any compensation for his

_General Wyatt._--"Of course not. That would be offensive. Well?"

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Well, James, can't you see how it complicates
everything? He is conferring another obligation. He might almost think
we tried to throw them together."

_General Wyatt_, fiercely.--"He had better not! Why, Margaret, he's a
gentleman! He can't think that."

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"No, I suppose not. I suppose it's our trouble that has
made me suspicious of every one." She goes sadly about the room,
rearranging, with a house-keeper's instinct, everything in it.

_General Wyatt._--"You needn't trouble yourself with the room, Margaret;
Mary told me that she and the landlady had put it in order."

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"That's just why I need." After a moment: "Are you going
to be here, James?"

_General Wyatt._--"Yes, I thought I should stay. It's a cheerful place
to read and smoke. It won't disturb them, will it?"

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Oh, no! It's quite necessary some one should stay. I'm
very glad you can, for I've got a few little things to do."

_General Wyatt._--"All right. I'll stay and do the dragon, or whatever
it is. But I wish you hadn't put it in that light, Margaret. I was
proposing to enjoy myself."

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Enjoy yourself, James? With such a terribly perplexing
affair before you!"

_General Wyatt._--"I don't see anything perplexing about it. It's
perfectly simple, to my mind. Mr. Bartlett kindly proposes to give
Constance a few lessons in drawing,--or painting; I don't know which it
is. That's the beginning and the end of it."

_Mrs. Wyatt_, with a heavy sigh.--"Yes, that's the _beginning_."

_General Wyatt_, impatiently.--"Well?"

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Nothing. Are you quite comfortable, here? Have you got
everything you wish?"

_General Wyatt_, with a glance at the things on the table at his
elbow.--"Here are my cigars, and--yes, here are the papers. Yes, I'm all
right. But what do you mean by 'nothing'? What--Ah, here's Mr.
Bartlett!" As Bartlett comes into the room, the General, since he cannot
conveniently rise, makes a demonstration of welcome with his hands.
Bartlett has his colour-box under his arm, and a canvas in his hand.
"You've been improving the shining hour, I see. What have you there?"



_Bartlett_, with a smile and nod inclusive of Mrs. Wyatt.--"Nothing
worth looking at." He goes and faces it against the wall. "Have I kept
Miss Wyatt waiting?"

_Mrs. Wyatt_, anxiously.--"It's too bad you should waste your time upon
her, Mr. Bartlett. I don't know why we let you."

_Bartlett._--"You can't help yourself, Mrs. Wyatt. The wrong is owing to
circumstances beyond your control. If I have any virtue it is a
particularly offensive form of stubbornness. Besides,"--more
seriously,--"I feel myself honoured to do it--to contribute anything to
Miss Wyatt's--ah--ah--In short, if she can stand it _I_ can."

_General Wyatt._--"It's immensely kind of you. By the way, you won't
mind my staying here, will you, to read my papers, while you're at work?
Because if you do, I can clear out at once." Mrs. Wyatt, with mute but
lively tokens of dismay, attends the General's further remarks: "I don't
want to stay here and be a bore and a nuisance, you know." Mrs. Wyatt
vanishes from the scene in final despair.

_Bartlett_, going up to the easel and dragging it into an entirely new
position.--"Not in the least. Some woman been putting this room in
order, hasn't there?"

_General Wyatt._--"Three."

_Bartlett._--"I thought so." He continues to disarrange all the
preparations for his work. His operations bring him in the vicinity of
General Wyatt, upon whose box of cigars his eye falls. "Oh, I say,
General! Smoking?"

_General Wyatt._--"Certainly. Why not?"

_Bartlett._--"Well, I don't know. I thought perhaps--I supposed--I
imagined somehow from something she said, or that happened--it was
offensive to Miss Wyatt."

_General Wyatt._--"Why, bless your heart, man, she minds it no more than
I do!"

_Bartlett._--"You don't say so! Why, I haven't smoked any for the last
two weeks, because--because-- And I'm almost dead for a pipe!"

_General Wyatt._--"Why, poor fellow! Why, here! Take a cigar!"

_Bartlett_, significantly shaking his head.--"Oh, no, no! I said a
_pipe_." He rushes to an old studio jacket which the landlady has hung
for him on the back of a chair; he dives in one pocket and gets out a
pipe, plunges into another and extracts a pouch of tobacco. He softly
groans and murmurs with impatience while he makes these explorations.
Upon their success: "So lucky Mrs. Ransom brought down that coat. I
couldn't have lived to get up-stairs after it!" Stuffing his pipe in a
frenzy, he runs to the General for a match; that veteran has already
lighted it, and extends it toward him. Bartlett stoops over the flame,
pipe in mouth. As the General drops the extinct match upon the floor the
painter puffs a great cloud, in which involved he is putting on his
studio jacket when Constance appears at the door. He instinctively
snatches his pipe from his lips and puts it in his pocket.



_Constance_, fighting her way through the smoke to the General's
chair.--"Why, papa, how you _have_ been smoking!"

_General Wyatt_, with a queer look.--"Yes, I find it rests me after a
bad night. I didn't sleep well."

_Constance._--"Oh, poor papa! How do _you_ do, Mr. Bartlett?" She gives
him her hand for good-morning.

_Bartlett._--"Oh, quite well, quite well _now_, thank you. I--I--had
been a little off my--diet."


_Bartlett._--"Yes. But I've gone back now, and I'm all right again." He
retires to the easel, and mechanically resumes his pipe, but takes it
from his mouth again, and after an impatient glance at it, throws it out
of the window. "When you're ready, Miss Wyatt, we can begin any time.
There's no hurry, though."

_Constance._--"I'm ready now. Is everything in reach, papa?"

_General Wyatt._--"Yes, my dear. I'm so perfectly comfortable that one
touch more would make me miserable."

_Constance._--"Can't I do something for you?"

_General Wyatt._--"Not a thing. I'm a prodigy of content."

_Constance._--"Not lift up this last fold of the chair, so your foot
won't rest so heavily on the floor?"

_General Wyatt._--"Was it resting heavily? I hadn't noticed. Yes, it
was; how you see everything, my dear! Yes"-- Constance stoops to put up
the chair to its last extension, and Bartlett runs forward to anticipate

_Bartlett._--"Miss Wyatt, let me do that!"

_Constance._--"No, no! No one must touch papa but me. There, is that
right, papa?"

_General Wyatt._--"Exactly. That makes me pluperfectly comfortable. I
haven't a wish in the world, and all I ask now is to"--

_Constance._--"Get at your newspapers? Let me take off the wrappers for

_General Wyatt._--"Not on any account." He gently withdraws from her the
newspaper she has taken up. "That is truly a kindness that kills. Open
my papers for me? I'd as lief you'd put on my hat for me, my dear."

_Bartlett._--"That is the one thing that can't be done for any man!"

_Constance._--"Why not? A woman can put on another woman's bonnet for

_General Wyatt._--"Ah, that's a different thing. A man doesn't wear his
hat for looks."

_Constance._--"That's true, papa,--_some_ of them." She turns gaily
from her father, and looks up at Bartlett, who has smilingly listened.
She gives a start, and suppresses a cry; she passes her hand quickly
over her eyes, and then staying herself a moment with one hand on the
back of a chair resumes with forced calm: "Shall we begin,
now--ah--Mr.--Bartlett?" An awkward silence ensues, in which Bartlett
remains frowning, and the General impatiently flings open a newspaper.
Then Bartlett's frown relaxes into a compassionate response to her
appealing look.

_Bartlett._--"Yes, I'm quite ready. But it's you who are to begin, Miss
Wyatt. I am to assume the safe and eligible position of art critic. I
wish I had some of those fellows who write about my pictures before an
easel; I'd stand their unpleasant company a while for the sake of taking
the conceit out of them. Not but what my pictures _are_ bad enough,--as
bad as any critic says, for that matter. Well, Miss Wyatt; here is the
charcoal, and yonder out-doors is the mountain."

_Constance._--"Excuse me a moment. Papa, will our talking disturb you?"
To Bartlett: "I suppose we will have to talk a little?"

_Bartlett._--"A little."

_General Wyatt_, from behind his paper.--"It won't disturb me if you
don't talk to me."

_Constance._--"We'll try not." To Bartlett: "Well?"

_Bartlett_, as Constance places herself before the canvas, and receiving
the charcoal from his fingers, glances out at Ponkwasset.--"May I ask
why you chose such a capacious canvas?"

_Constance_, in meek surprise.--"Why, the mountain being a large

_Bartlett._--"A large canvas was necessary, I see. There's reason in
that. But were you going to do it life size?"

_Constance_, as before.--"Why, no!"

_Bartlett._--"What was your idea?"

_Constance._--"I don't know. I thought--I thought I would have the
mountain in the back-ground, with some clouds over it, and a few figures
in the foreground, to give it a human interest."

_Bartlett._--"Yes, that's a good notion. Well, now begin. First get your
distance-- No; better strike in a horizon line first. That will keep you
right. Draw the line straight across the middle of the canvas."
Constance retires a few steps from the canvas, measures its spaces with
her eye, and then with a glance at the horizon outside draws. Bartlett,
looking over her shoulder: "Straight, straight! The line should be
straight. Don't you see?"

_Constance_, falteringly.--"I meant that for a straight line."

_Bartlett._--"Oh! well! Yes! I see. However, now you've got it in,
hadn't you better use it for a _curved_ line? Say for that wavering
outline of the hills beyond Ponkwasset?"

_Constance._--"Why, if you think so, Mr. Bartlett."

_Bartlett._--"And I'll just strike in the horizon line here." He draws
rapidly, steps back a pace, approaches, and touches Constance's line at
different points. Then he gives her the chalk again. "Now, scratch in
the outline of Ponkwasset." Constance begins to draw. "Ah! Wait a
moment, please. You're not quite getting it. Will you let me?" Constance
offers him the charcoal, which he declines with a gesture, "No, no!
_You_ must do it. I meant"--


_Bartlett._--"That if you would allow me to--to--guide your hand"--

_Constance_, frankly.--"Why, of course. Do what you like with it"--


_Constance._--"So that you teach it a little of the skill of yours." He
gently, and after some delicate hesitations, takes her hand, as it
grasps the charcoal, and slowly guides it in forming the outline of the
mountain. Constance, in admiration of his cleverness: "What a delicious
touch you have!"

_Bartlett_, confusedly.--"Yes?"

_Constance_, regarding the outline after he has released her hand,
while Bartlett, with a gesture of rapturous fondness, looks at the
fingers that have guided hers, and tenderly kisses them.--"Oh, yes: I'd
give anything if I had your hand!"

_Bartlett._--"It's at your service always, Miss Wyatt."

_Constance_, still regarding the picture.--"Ah, but I should need your
mind, too!"


_Constance._--"I couldn't rob you of everything." She begins to draw
again, and then, in pretty, unconscious imitation of Bartlett, throws
back her head.

_Bartlett_, breaking forth in rapture at her movement and
attitude.--"Oh, divine!"

_Constance_, innocently beaming upon him.--"Do you think so? I didn't
suppose I could get it so at once. Is it really good?"

_Bartlett_, recalled to himself.--"Who? What? Yes, yes; it isn't bad.
Not at all bad. That is"--

_Constance_, disappointedly.--"I thought you liked it." Gravely: "Why
did you say it was divine?"

_Bartlett._--"Because--I--I--thought so!"

_Constance_, with mystification.--"I'm afraid I don't understand. Shall
I let this outline remain for Ponkwasset, or shall I use it for
something else?"

_Bartlett._--"Yes, let it remain for Ponkwasset; if it needs changing
that can easily be done afterwards. Now block out your middle distance.
So!" He takes the charcoal from her and draws. "Now, then, sketch in
your figures."

_Constance_, timidly.--"How large shall I make them?"

_Bartlett._--"Oh, as large as you like. How large did you think?"

_Constance._--"I don't know. About a foot high."

_Bartlett._--"Well, try them." Constance draws, and Bartlett regards the
operation with gestures and contortions of countenance expressive of
mingled tenderness for Constance and extreme suffering from her
performance. She turns about, and surprises him with his hands clutched
in his shaggy hair.

_Constance_, with dignity.--"What is the matter, Mr. Bartlett?"

_Bartlett_, forcing an imbecile smile.--"Nothing, I was just thinking--I
should--like to venture to make a remark."

_Constance._--"You _know_ I wish you to speak to me about everything."

_Bartlett._--"Did you mean that lady to be in the middle distance?"


_Bartlett._--"Well, there is a slight, a very slight, error in the
perspective. She is as tall as Ponkwasset, you see, and could touch the
top of it with the point of her parasol."

_Constance_, dejectedly.--"I see. I can never do it."

_Bartlett._--"Oh, yes, you can, Miss Wyatt; you mustn't lose patience
with me."

_Constance._--"It's you who won't be able to keep your patience with my

_Bartlett._--"That's not the name for it. I shall think more of your
failures than of anybody's successes--that _is_--I mean--if you don't
let this thing be a pain instead of a pleasure to you. Remember, I hoped
it would amuse you."

_Constance._--"Oh, yes. You have been only too kind, in that and

_Bartlett._--"Well, now, let us begin again. This lady is very well as
a lady; you understand the figure better than perspective; but she's out
of place here, a little; and a flower out of place, you know, is a weed.
Suppose we"--he takes up the charcoal, and makes a few dashes at the
canvas--"treat her as a clump of tall birch-trees,--that clump over
there in the edge of the meadow; that will bring her into the
foreground, and entitle her to be three inches high; we can't really
allow her more, even as a clump of birches. Eh?"

_Constance._--"Oh, yes; that's better, decidedly." Smiling: "Being under
instruction, this way, makes me think of my school-days."

_Bartlett_, impressively.--"I hope they were happy days."

_Constance._--"Oh, the happiest of my life."

_Bartlett._--"I am _so_ glad." Constance stares at him in surprise, but
finally says nothing. "I mean since this is like them."

_Constance_, pensively.--"Yes, it's pleasant to go back to that time."
With more animation: "Papa, I wonder if you remember Madame Le May, who
used to teach me French when you came home after the war?"

_General Wyatt_, behind his newspaper.--"Eh? What? What's that? Some
difficulty in the drawing? You must both have patience,--patience"--

_Constance._--"Why, papa! Oh, well, I won't worry him. I suppose he's
found something about cutting down the army appropriations; that always
absorbs him. What shall I try next, Mr. Bartlett?"

_Bartlett._--"You can rub in your middle distance."

_Constance_, laughing.--"I'll try. But I think I should be at my best
beyond the vanishing point."

_Bartlett._--"Oh, I don't believe _that_! Perhaps it annoys you to have
me looking over your shoulder while you work?"

_Constance._--"No. Oh, no."

_Bartlett._--"I see that it does."

_Constance._--"It makes me a little nervous. I'm afraid of you, you

_Bartlett._--"I didn't know I was so terrible. How far off shall I go,
to be agreeable?"

_Constance_, laughing.--"Across the room."

_Bartlett._--"Shall you like me better at that distance?"

_Constance._--"I can't let you make a joke of our liking for you."

_Bartlett._--"You defend me, even in my presence. What kindness I must
miss when I'm absent! Well, I will go and see what interests General

_General Wyatt._--"Madame Le May? Yes, certainly. Remember her
perfectly. False hair, false teeth, false"--

_Constance._--"Why, what _are_ you talking of, papa?"

_General Wyatt._--"Mayo. Capital cavalry officer--cutting down the pay
of such a man"--

_Constance._--"What _are_ you reading?" The General makes no answer.

_Bartlett._--"Don't disturb him. I'll walk off here at this end of the
room." He paces softly up and down, while Constance returns to her
drawing, to which she diligently applies herself. A thought seems to
strike Bartlett as his wandering eye falls upon General Wyatt, who still
sits with his head buried in his newspaper. He approaches, and remarks
in a low tone: "I believe I _will_ take a cigar _now_, Gen--" The
newspaper falls slightly, and Bartlett makes a discovery. The General
has dropped off into a doze. With a gesture of amusement, Bartlett
restores the paper to its place, and resumes his walk in a quiet
rapture, interrupting it now and then to dwell in silent adoration on
the young lady's absorption in the fine arts.

_Constance._--"Mr. Bartlett"--

_Bartlett_, halting.--"Recalled from exile already? Well?"

_Constance._--"I'm afraid I can't get by this point alone."

_Bartlett._--"Yes? Let's see it." He eagerly crosses the room, takes his
stand behind her, and throws up his hands in despair. Constance
indicates her difficulties.

_Constance._--"The question is how to get in some idea of those slopes
of the mountain. These things seem to crowd everything out."

_Bartlett_, hopelessly regarding the work.--"I see. You have been
composing a little,--idealising. Well, I don't object to that. Though
perhaps it had better come later. This long stretch of rocky cliff"--

_Constance._--"Rocky cliff?"

_Bartlett._--"Isn't in nature, but it might have a good effect if
properly utilised"--

_Constance._--"But it isn't rocky cliff, Mr. Bartlett. It's"--

_Bartlett_, looking a second time, and more closely.--"Why, of course!
It's that stretch of broken woodland at the foot of the mountain. Very
good; very good indeed; very boldly treated. Still, I should say"--

_Constance_, in desperation.--"Oh, Mr. Bartlett, it _isn't_ rocks, and
it isn't _woods_; it's--_hay-stacks_!"


_Constance_, desolately.--"Yes, hay-stacks."

_Bartlett._--"But hay-stacks at the foot of the mountain, Miss Wyatt"--

_Constance_, inconsolably.--"They're _not_ at the foot of the mountain.
They're those hay-stacks, just out there in the meadow. I thought it
would be nice to have them in near that clump of birches you drew."

_Bartlett._--"Oh-h-h-h!" He scratches his head in visible stupefaction.
Then with reanimation: "I see. It was my error. _I_ was looking for
middle distance, and _you_ had been working on the foreground. Very
good; very-- Oh, gracious powers--No, no! Don't be discouraged, Miss
Wyatt; remember it's the first time you've attempted anything of the
sort, and you've really done very well. Here!" He seizes the pencil and
draws. "We will just sink these hay-stacks,--which are very good in
their way, but not perhaps sufficiently subordinated,--just sink them
into the lake yonder. They will serve very well for the reflections of
those hills beyond, and now you can work away at some of the details of
the foreground; they will interest you more." He retires a pace. "It's
really not a bad start as it is."

_Constance_, ruefully.--"But it's all yours, Mr. Bartlett."


_Constance._--"You drew every line in it."

_Bartlett._--"No, you drew the line of the distant hills."

_Constance._--"But I didn't mean it for that!"

_Bartlett._--"Well, well; but the lady's figure, that was good"--

_Constance._--"You turned her into a clump of birches."

_Bartlett._--"True. A mere exigency of the perspective. The

_Constance._--"You've just sunk them into the lake!"

_Bartlett._--"Well, well. Perhaps I may have helped in the execution of
the picture, a little. But my dear Miss Wyatt, the _drawing_ is nothing;
it's the _design_ is what makes the picture, and that's _entirely_
yours; the ideas were all _yours_. Come! Try your hand now at the shore
line of the lake, just here."

_Constance._--"I'm afraid I'm a little tired. My hands are cold."

_Bartlett._--"Oh, I'm sorry!" He takes one of them and places it
between either of his. "That shows you've been working too hard. I can't
allow that. All the art in the world isn't worth--I mustn't forget that
you have not been well; and I want these little lessons to be a pastime
and not a burden to you. The picture's sufficiently advanced now"--he
mechanically puts her hand under his left arm, and keeps his own right
hand upon it, while he takes his station with her in front of the
easel--"to warrant us in trying a little colour to-morrow. You'll be
very much more interested in colour. It _is_ refreshing to get at the
brushes after you've tired yourself out with the black and white. You've
got a very pretty outfit, there, Miss Wyatt." He indicates her colours
on the little table.

_Constance._--"I didn't mean to refuse the offer of your paints, but I
thought it would be better to have the colours _perfectly fresh_, you

_Bartlett._--"Quite right. Quite right. Now you see-- Rest on _me_, Miss
Wyatt, or I shall be afraid of fatiguing you by standing; and I'd like
to point out a few things for you to begin on here to-morrow."

_Constance._--"Oh, I'm not _very_ tired. But I _will_ keep your arm if
you will let me."

_Bartlett_, making her sustain her weight more distinctly on his
arm.--"By all means. Now, here, at this point, I think I'd better sketch
you in that old oak down there at the foot of our hill, with its
grape-vine, and you can work away at these without reference to
Ponkwasset. The line of that clinging vine is one of the most graceful
things that Nature--and Nature _does_ know a thing or two, Miss Wyatt;
she's particularly good at clinging vines--ever drew." He looks at her
over his shoulder with an involuntary sigh. Then, "Suppose"--he takes up
the charcoal--"I do it now. No, don't disturb yourself." They lean
forward, and as he sketches, their faces, drawn together, almost touch.
Bartlett drops the pencil, and starts away, releasing his arm: "Oh, no,

_Constance_, simply.--"Can't you do it?"

_Bartlett_, in deep emotion.--"No, no; I can't do it--I mustn't--it
would be outrageous--I--I"-- Regaining his self-possession at sight of
Constance's astonished face: "You said yourself just now that I had
drawn everything in the picture. I can't do any more. _You_ must do the
clinging vine!"

_Constance_, innocently.--"Very well, I'll try. If you'll do the oak
for me. I'll let you do _that_ much more." They regard each other, she
with her innocent smile, he with a wild rapture of hope, doubt, and
fear. Then Bartlett draws a long, despairing sigh, and turns away.

_Bartlett._--"To-morrow, to-morrow!" He walks away, and returns to her.
"Have you read--have you ever read The Talking Oak, Miss Wyatt?"

_Constance._--"Tennyson's? A thousand times. Isn't it charming?"

_Bartlett._--"It's absurd, I think. Do you remember where he makes the
oak say of the young lady,--

    'And in a fit of frolic, mirth
      She strove to span my waist:....
    I wish'd myself the fair young beech
      That here beside me stands,
    That round me, clasping each in each,
      She might have lock'd her hands'?"

_Constance._--"Why, that's lovely,--that attribution of human feeling to
the tree. Don't you think so?"

_Bartlett_, absently.--"Yes, yes; beautiful. But it's terrible, too;
terrible. Supposing the oak really had human feeling; or supposing that
a man had been meant in the figure of an oak"-- He has drawn near
Constance again; but now he retreats. "Ah, I can't work out the idea."

_Constance._--"What idea? I can't imagine what you mean."

_Bartlett._--"Ah! I can. My trouble is, I can't _say_ what I mean! This
was sometime a paradox."

_Constance._--"Oh! I should think, a riddle."

_Bartlett._--"Some day I hope you'll let me read it to you."

_Constance._--"Why not now?"

_Bartlett_, impetuously.--"If you only meant what you said, it would
be--so much better than if I said what I meant!"

_Constance._--"You are dealing in mysteries to-day."

_Bartlett._--"Oh, the greatest of them! But don't mind. Wait! I'll try
to tell you what I mean. I won't make you stand, while I talk. Here!" He
wheels up in front of the picture one of the haircloth sofas; Constance
mechanically sinks down upon it, and he takes his place at her side; she
bends upon him a look of smiling amusement. "I can put my meaning best,
I think, in the form of allegory. Do you like allegory, Miss Wyatt?"

_Constance._--"Yes. That is, not very much."

_Bartlett_.--"Oh! You don't like allegory! Upon second thoughts, I don't
myself. We will not try allegory. We will try a supposed case. I think
that's always the best way, don't you?"

_Constance._--"No, I don't like any sort of indirection. I believe the
straightforward way is the best."

_Bartlett._--"Yes, so do I; but it's impossible. We _must_ try a
supposed case."

_Constance_, laughing.--"Well!"

_Bartlett._--"Ah! I can't say anything if you laugh. It's a serious

_Constance_, with another burst of laughter.--"I should never have
thought so." With a sudden return of her old morbid mood: "I beg your
pardon for laughing. What right have I to laugh? Go on, Mr. Bartlett,
and I will listen as I should have done. I am ashamed."

_Bartlett._--"No, no! That won't do! You mustn't take me so seriously
as that! Oh, Miss Wyatt, if I could only be so much your friend, your
fool,--I don't care what,--as to banish that look, that tone from you
for ever!"

_Constance._--"Why do you care?"

_Bartlett._--"Why do I care?"

_Constance._--"Yes. Why should you mind whether so weak and silly a
thing as I is glad or sad? I can't understand. Why have you had so much
patience with me? Why do you take all this trouble on my account, and
waste your time on me? Why"--

_Bartlett_, starting up.--"_Why_ do I do it?" He walks away to the other
side of the room with signs of great inward struggle; then he swiftly
returns to her side where she has risen and stands near the sofa, and
seizes her hand. "Well, I will tell you why. No, no! I can't! It would

_General Wyatt_, behind his newspaper.--"Outrageous! Gross violation of
good faith! Infernal shame!" The General concludes these observations
with a loud, prolonged, and very stertorous respiration.

_Constance_, running to him.--"Why, papa, what _do_ you mean? Oh poor
papa! He's asleep, and in _such_ a wretched position!" From which she
hastens to move him, while Bartlett, recovering from the amaze in which
the appositeness of the General's remarks had plunged him, breaks into a
harsh "Ha! ha!" Constance turns and advances upon him in threatening
majesty: "Did you _laugh_, Mr. Bartlett?"

_Bartlett_, after a moment's dismay.--"Well, I don't know whether you
call it laughing. I smiled."

_Constance_, with increasing awfulness: "_Why_ did you laugh, Mr.

_Bartlett._--"I--I--I can't say."

_Constance._--"You were laughing at General Wyatt!"

_Bartlett._--"Was there nothing to laugh at?"

_Constance._--"For children! For vulgar, silly boys! For a gentleman,

_Bartlett_, with rising wrath.--"Then I have no excuse, unless I say
that I am no gentleman."

_Constance._--"_I_ shall not dispute you in anything; and I will leave
you to the enjoyment of your mirth."

_Bartlett._--"Very well. As you like. I am sorry to have offended you.
I shall take care never to offend you again." Constance sweeps towards
one door, at the threshold of which she pauses to look round and see
Bartlett dashing her box of colours together as if it were his own, and
thrusting it under his arm, seizing with a furious hand the canvas on
the easel and his coat from the chair-back, and then rushing from the
room. She drops her face into her hands and vanishes, and the next
moment Mrs. Wyatt enters.



_Mrs. Wyatt._--"What is the matter with Constance, James? Have you
been"-- She goes up to the General and discovers his vigilance: "Asleep!"
Waking him: "James, James! Is _this_ the way you do the dragon, as you
call it?"

_General Wyatt_, starting awake: "Dragon? Dragon? What dragon? I dreamt
I was a perfect fiery dragon, and went about breathing flame and smoke.
How long have I slept, Margaret? Where is Mr. Bartlett? Where is

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Oh, you may well ask that, James. I just met Constance
at the door, in tears. Oh, I hope nothing dreadful has happened."

_General Wyatt._--"Nonsense, Margaret. Here, help me up, my dear. My
nap hasn't done me any good. I'm stiff all over."

_Mrs. Wyatt_, anxiously.--"I'm afraid you have taken cold, James."

_General Wyatt_, with impatience.--"Cold? No! Not in the least. I'm
perfectly well. But that was a very unpleasant dream. Margaret, I'm
afraid that I breathed rather--explosively, at one time."

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Oh, James, this is worse and worse. It must have
mortified Constance, dreadfully."

_General Wyatt_, taking his wife's arm, and limping from the
scene:--"Well, well! Never mind! I'll make it right with Bartlett. He's
a man of sense, and will help me laugh it off with her. It will be all
right, Margaret; don't worry over a trifle like that."

_Mrs. Wyatt_, as they disappear:--"Trifle? Her whole happiness may
depend upon it." At the instant of their withdrawal, Constance and
Bartlett, hastily entering by opposite doors, encounter each other in
the middle of the room.



_Both_, at once.--"I came to"--

_Bartlett._--"Restore you your box of colours and your canvas, which I
carried off by mistake."

_Constance._--"To say that I am very, very sorry for my rudeness to you,
and to entreat you to forget my abominable words, if you can."

_Bartlett_, with a generous rush of emotion, dropping the canvas on the
floor at one side and the box of colours on the other, and snatching her
extended hand to his lips.-- "Don't say that. I deserved a thousand times
more. You were right."

_Constance._--"No, no! I can't let you blame yourself to save me from
self-reproach. I know papa was ridiculous. But what made me angry was
this thought that you were laughing at _him_. I couldn't bear that. I
shouldn't have minded your laughing at me; but at papa!"

_Bartlett_, sadly.--"I happened to be laughing much more at myself than
your father. Where is the General?"

_Constance._--"He has gone with mamma. They wondered where you were, and
I said you were coming back again."

_Bartlett._--"How did you know?"

_Constance._--"I thought you would come,--that you would upbraid
yourself for my bad behaviour, and return to excuse it to me. You see
what perfect faith I--we--have in you."

_Bartlett_, earnestly.--"Have you indeed perfect faith in me?"


_Bartlett_, vehemently.--"But why, _why_ do you trust me? You see that I
am hasty and rude."

_Constance._--"Oh no, not rude."

_Bartlett._--"But I assure you that I am so; and you have seen that I
laughed--that I am wanting in delicacy, and"--

_Constance_, devoutly.--"How can you say that to _us_, when every day,
every hour, every instant of the last month has given us proof of
unimaginable kindness in you!" He eagerly approaches and takes her
hands, which she frankly yields him. "Your patience, your noble
forbearance, which we so sorely tried, has made us all forget that you
are a stranger, and--and--to me it's as if we had always known you"--her
head droops--"as if you were a--an old friend, a--brother"--

_Bartlett_, dropping her hands.--"Oh!" He turns away, and pacing the
length of the room reapproaches her hastily.

_Constance_, with a little cry.--"Mr. Bartlett! Do look! Did you intend
to trample my canvas and colours under foot?" She makes as if to stoop
for them.

_Bartlett_, his manner undergoing a total change as if he had been
suddenly recalled to himself at a critical moment.--"Don't!" He hastily
picks them up, and puts the canvas on the easel and the colours on the
table. With a glance at the canvas: "Ponkwasset doesn't seem to have
been seriously injured by his violent usage. Shall you like to try your
hand at him again to-morrow?"

_Constance._--"Oh, yes. But on one condition."


_Constance._--"That you have a little faith in _me_, too."

_Bartlett._--"Oh, Miss Wyatt"--

_Constance._--"I used to have a bad temper, and now that I'm getting
better it seems to be getting worse. Try to believe in me enough to know
that when I do or say some violent thing, I'm ashamed of it; and that
when I wounded you, I really meant to hurt myself; that I-- Oh, you
know, Mr. Bartlett, how much you've borne from us, and how much we owe
you; and if you did anything now to make us think less of your unselfish
goodness, we never could forgive you!" Bartlett remains with bowed head.
"I must go, now." Gaily: "Perhaps to-morrow, when we resume our lessons,
you'll tell me what you meant to-day, when you couldn't explain

_Bartlett_, vehemently.--"No, I can never tell you."

_Constance._--"I can't believe that! At any rate, we shall talk the
matter over, and I may say something to help you. You know how one thing
leads to another."

_Bartlett._--"But nothing you can ever say now will lead to what I
wanted to say."

_Constance_, laughing.--"Don't be sure. If you rouse my curiosity, I
shall be a powerful aid to expression. With a woman's wit to help you
out with your meaning, how can you help making it clear?"

_Bartlett._--"Because--because it wants something more than wit in you
to make it clear."

_Constance._--"Well, you shall have sympathy, if sympathy is what you
need. Is it something like sympathy?"

_Bartlett._--"Something like sympathy; but--not--not exactly sympathy."

_Constance_, with another laugh.--"How difficult you make it! I see! You
want compassion."

_Bartlett_, quickly.--"Oh, no! I would sooner have contempt!"

_Constance._--"But that's the one thing you can't have. Try to think of
something else you want, and let me know to-morrow." She nods brightly
to him, and he follows her going with a gaze of hopeless longing. As she
vanishes through the doorway, he lifts his hand to his lips, and
reverently kisses it to her.

_Bartlett_, alone.--"Try to _think_ what I want and let you know! Ah,
my darling, my darling! Your faith in me kills my hope. If you only
dared a little less with me, how much more I might dare with you; and if
you were not so sisterly sweet, how much sweeter you might be! Brother?
Forty thousand brothers could not with all their quantity of love make
up my sum! You drive me farther than your worst enemy from you with that
fatal word. Brother? I hate brother! If it had been cousin--And kind?
Oh, I would we were

     'A little less than kin, and more than kind!'"





_Bartlett._--"Six weeks since you were here? I shouldn't have thought
that." Bartlett's easel stands before the window, in the hotel parlour;
he has laid a tint upon the canvas, and has retired a few paces for the
effect, his palette and mahl-stick in hand, and his head carried at a
critical angle. Cummings, who has been doing the duty of art-culture by
the picture, regards it with renewed interest. Bartlett resumes his
work: "Pretty good, Cummings?"

_Cummings._--"Capital! The blue of that distance"--

_Bartlett_, with a burlesque sigh.--"Ah, I looked into my heart and
painted for _that_! Well, you find me still here, Cummings, and
apparently more at home than ever. The landlord has devoted this parlour
to the cause of art,--makes the transients use the lower parlour,
now,--and we have this all to ourselves: Miss Wyatt sketches, you know.
Her mother brings her sewing, and the General his bruises; he hasn't
quite scrambled up, yet, from that little knock-down of his; a man
doesn't, at his time of life, I believe; and we make this our
family-room; and a very queer family we are! Fine old fellow, the
General; he's behaved himself since his accident like a disabled angel,
and hasn't sworn,--well, anything worth speaking of. Yes, here I am. I
suppose it's all right, but for all I know it may be all wrong."
Bartlett sighs in unguarded sincerity. "_I_ don't know what I'm here
for. Nature began shutting up shop a fortnight ago at a pretty lively
rate, and edging loafers to the door, with every sign of impatience; and
yet here I am, hanging round still. I suppose this glimpse of Indian
Summer is some excuse just now; it's a perfect blessing to the landlord,
and he's making hay--rowen crop[1]--while the sun shines; I've been with
him so long now, I take quite an interest in his prosperity, if eight
dollars a week of it _do_ come out of me! What is talked of in
'art-circles' down in Boston, brother Cummings?"

_Cummings._--"Your picture."

_Bartlett_, inattentively, while he comes up to his canvas, and bestows
an infinitesimal portion of paint upon a destitute spot in the
canvas.--"Don't be sarcastic, Cummings."

_Cummings._--"I'm not, I assure you."

_Bartlett_, turning toward him incredulously.--"Do you mean to say that
The First Grey Hair is liked?"

_Cummings._--"I do. There hasn't been any picture so much talked of this

_Bartlett._--"Then it's the shameless slop of the name. I should think
you'd blush for your part in that swindle. But clergymen have _no_
conscience, where they've a chance to do a fellow a kindness, I've
observed." He goes up to Cummings with his brush in his mouth, his
palette on one hand, and his mahl-stick in the other, and contrives to
lay hold of his shoulders with a few disengaged fingers. As Cummings
shrinks a little from his embrace: "Oh, don't be afraid; I shan't get
any paint on you. You need a whole coat of whitewash, though, you
unscrupulous saint!" He returns to his easel. "So The Old Girl--that's
what I shall call the picture--is a success, is she? The admiring public
ought to see the original elm-tree now; she hasn't got a hair, grey or
green, on her head; she's perfectly bald. I say, Cummings, how would it
do for me to paint a pendant, _The Last Grey Hair_? I might look up a
leaf or two on the elm, somewhere: stick it on to the point of twig;
they wouldn't know any better."

_Cummings._--"The leafless elm would make a good picture, whatever you
called it." Bartlett throws back his shaggy head and laughs up at the
ceiling. "The fact is, Bartlett, I've got a little surprise for you."

_Bartlett_, looking at him askance.--"Somebody wanting to chromo The Old
Girl? No, no; it isn't quite so bad as that!"

_Cummings_, in a burst.--"They _did_ want to chromo it. But it's sold.
They've got you two hundred dollars for it." Bartlett lays down his
brush, palette, and mahl-stick, dusts his fingers, puts them in his
pockets, and comes and stands before Cummings, on whom, seated, he bends
a curious look.

_Bartlett._--"And do you mean to tell me, you hardened atheist, that
you don't believe in the doctrine of future punishments? What are they
going to do with _you_ in the next world? And that picture-dealer? And
_me_? Two hun-- It's an outrage! It's--the picture wasn't worth fifty,
by a stretch of the most charitable imagination! Two hundred, d-- Why,
Cummings, I'll paint no end of Old Girls, First and Last Grey
Hairs--I'll flood the market! Two-- Good Lord!" Bartlett goes back to
his easel, and silently resumes his work. After a while: "Who's been
offered up?"


_Bartlett._--"Who's the victim? My patron? The noble and discriminating
and munificent purchaser of The Old Girl?"

_Cummings._--"Oh! Mrs. Bellingham. She's going to send it out to her
daughter in Omaha."

_Bartlett._--"Ah! Mrs. Blake wishes to found an art museum with that
curiosity out there? Sorry for the Omaha-has." Cummings makes a gesture
of impatience. "Well, well; I won't then, old fellow! I'm truly obliged
to you. I accept my good fortune with compunction, but with all the
gratitude imaginable. I say, Cummings!"


_Bartlett._--"What do you think of my taking to high art,--mountains
twelve hundred feet above the sea, like this portrait of Ponkwasset?"

_Cummings._--"I've always told you that you had only to give yourself
scope,--attempt something worthy of your powers"--

_Bartlett._--"Ah, I thought so. Then you believe that a good big canvas
and a good big subject would be the making of me? Well, I've come round
to that idea myself. I used to think that if there was any greatness in
me, I could get it into a small picture, like Meissonier or Corot. But I
can't. I must have room, like the Yellowstone and Yo-Semite fellows.
Don't you think Miss Wyatt is looking wonderfully improved?"

_Cummings._--"Wonderfully! And how beautiful she is! She looked lovely
that first day, in spite of her ghostliness; but now"--

_Bartlett._--"Yes; a _phantom_ of delight is good enough in its way, but
a _well woman_ is the prettiest, after all. Miss Wyatt sketches, I think
I told you."

_Cummings._--"Yes, you mentioned it."

_Bartlett._--"Of course. Otherwise, I couldn't possibly have thought of
her while I was at work on a great picture like this. She
sketches"-- Bartlett puts his nose almost on the canvas in the process of
bestowing a delicate touch--"she sketches about as badly as any woman I
ever saw, and _that's_ saying a good deal. But she looks uncommonly well
while she's at it. The fact is, Cummings,"--Bartlett retires some feet
from the canvas and squints at it,--"this very picture which you approve
of so highly is--Miss Wyatt's. _I_ couldn't attempt anything of the size
of Ponkwasset! But she allows me to paint at it a little when she's
away." Bartlett steals a look of joy at his friend's vexation, and then
continues seriously: "I've been having a curious time, Cummings." The
other remains silent. "Don't you want to ask me about it?"

_Cummings._--"I don't know that I do."

_Bartlett._--"Why, my dear old fellow, you're hurt! It _was_ a silly
joke, and I honestly ask your pardon." He lays down his brush and
palette and leaves the easel. "Cummings, I don't know what to do. I'm in
a perfect deuce of a state. I'm hit--awfully hard; and I don't know what
to do about it. I wish I had gone at once--the first day. But I had to
stay,--I had to stay." He turns and walks away from Cummings, whose eyes
follow him in pardon and sympathy.

_Cummings._--"Do you really mean it, Bartlett? I didn't dream of such a
thing. I thought you were still brooding over that affair with Miss

_Bartlett._--"Oh, child's-play! A prehistoric illusion! A solar myth!
The thing never was." He rejects the obsolete superstition with a wave
of his left hand. "I'm in love with this girl, and I feel like a sneak
and a brute about it. At the very best it would be preposterous. Who am
I, a poor devil of a painter, the particular pet of Poverty, to think of
a young lady whose family and position could command her the best? But
putting that aside,--putting that insuperable obstacle lightly aside, as
a mere trifle,--the thing remains an atrocity. It's enormously
indelicate to think of loving a woman who would never have looked twice
at me if I hadn't resembled an infernal scoundrel who tried to break her
heart; and I've nothing else to commend me. I've the perfect certainty
that she doesn't and can't care anything for me in myself; and it grinds
me into the dust to realise on what terms she tolerates me. I could
carry it off as a joke at first; but when it became serious, I had to
look it in the face; and that's what it amounts to, and if you know of
any more hopeless and humiliating tangle, _I_ don't." Bartlett, who has
approached his friend during this speech, walks away again; and there is
an interval of silence.

_Cummings_, at last, musingly.--"_You_ in love with Miss Wyatt; I can't
imagine it!"

_Bartlett_, fiercely.--"You can't imagine it? What's the reason you
can't imagine it? Don't be offensive, Cummings!" He stops in his walk
and lowers upon his friend. "Why shouldn't I be in love with Miss

_Cummings._--"Oh, nothing. Only you were saying"--

_Bartlett._--"I was saying! Don't tell me what _I_ was saying. Say
something yourself."

_Cummings._--"Really, Bartlett, you can't expect me to stand this sort
of thing. You're preposterous."

_Bartlett._--"I know it! But don't blame me. I beg your pardon. Is it
because of the circumstances that you can't imagine my being in love
with her?"

_Cummings._--"Oh, no; I wasn't thinking of the circumstances; but it
seemed so out of character for you"--

_Bartlett_, impatiently.--"Oh, love's always out of character, just as
it's always out of reason. I admit freely that I'm an ass. And then?"

_Cummings._--"Well, then, I don't believe you have any more reason to be
in despair than you have to be in love. If she tolerates you, as you
say, it _can't_ be because you look like the man who jilted her."

_Bartlett._--"Ah! But if she still loves _him_?"

_Cummings._--"You don't know that. That strikes me as a craze of
jealousy. What makes you think she tolerates you for that reason or

_Bartlett._--"What makes me think it? From the very first she
interpreted _me_ by what she knew of _him_. She expected me to be this
and not to be that; to have one habit and not another; and I could see
that every time the fact was different, it was a miserable
disappointment to her, a sort of shock. Every little difference between
me and that other rascal gave her a start; and whenever I looked up I
found her wistful eyes on me as if they were trying to puzzle me out;
they used to follow me round the room like the eyes of a family
portrait. You wouldn't have liked it yourself, Cummings. For the first
three weeks I simply existed on false pretences,--involuntary false
pretences, at that. I wanted to explode; I wanted to roar out. If you
think I'm at all like that abandoned scoundrel of yours in anything but
looks, I'm _not_! But I was bound by everything that was decent, to hold
my tongue, and let my soul be rasped out of me in silence and apparent
unconsciousness. That was _your_ fault. If you hadn't told me all about
the thing, I could have done something outrageous and stopped it. But I
was tied hand and foot by what I knew. I had to let it go on."

_Cummings._--"I'm very sorry, Bartlett, but"--

_Bartlett._--"Oh, I dare say you wouldn't have done it if you hadn't
had a wild ass of the desert to deal with. Well, the old people got used
to some little individuality in me, by-and-by, and beyond a suppressed
whoop or two from the mother when I came suddenly into the room, they
didn't do anything to annoy me directly. But they were anxious every
minute for the effect on _her_; and it worried me as much to have _them_
watching _her_ as to have _her_ watching _me_. Of course I knew that she
talked this confounded resemblance over with her mother every time I
left them, and avoided talking it over with the father."

_Cummings._--"But you say the trouble's over now."

_Bartlett._--"Oh--_over_! No, it isn't over. When she's with me a while
she comes to see that I am not a mere _doppelgänger_. She respites me to
that extent. But I have still some small rags of self-esteem dangling
about me; and now suppose I should presume to set up for somebody on my
own account; the first hint of my caring for her as I do, if she could
conceive of anything so atrocious, would tear open all the old sorrows.
Ah! I can't think of it. Besides, I tell you, it isn't all over. It's
only not so bad as it was. She's subject to relapses, when it's much
worse than ever. Why"--Bartlett stands facing his friend, with a
half-whimsical, half-desperate smile, as if about to illustrate his
point, when Constance and her mother enter the parlour.

[Footnote 1: Aftermath.]



_Constance_, with a quick violent arrest.--"Ah! Oh!"

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Constance, Constance, darling! What's the matter?"

_Constance._--"Oh, nothing--nothing." She laughs, nervously. "I thought
there was nobody--here; and it--startled me. How do you do, Mr.
Cummings?" She goes quickly up to that gentleman, and gives him her
hand. "Don't you think it wonderful to find such a day as this, up here,
at this time of year?" She struggles to control the panting breath in
which she speaks.

_Cummings._--"Yes, I supposed I had come quite too late for anything of
the sort. You must make haste with your Ponkwasset, Miss Wyatt, or
you'll have to paint him with his winter cap on."

_Constance._--"Ah, yes! My picture. Mr. Bartlett has been telling you."
Her eyes have already wandered away from Cummings, and they now dwell,
with a furtive light of reparation and imploring upon Bartlett's
disheartened patience: "Good _morning_." It is a delicately tentative
salutation, in a low voice, still fluttered by her nervous agitation.

_Bartlett_, in dull despair: "_Good_ morning."

_Constance._--"How is the light on the mountain this morning?" She
drifts deprecatingly up to the picture, near which Bartlett has stolidly
kept his place.

_Bartlett_, in apathetic inattention.--"Oh, very well, very well indeed,
thank you."

_Constance_, after a hesitating glance at him.--"Did you like what I had
done on it yesterday?"

_Bartlett_, very much as before.--"Oh, yes; why not?"

_Constance_, with a meek subtlety.--"I was afraid I had vexed you--by
it." She bends an appealing glance upon him, to which Bartlett remains
impervious, and she drops her eyes with a faint sigh. Then she lifts
them again: "I was afraid I had--made the distance too blue."

_Bartlett._--"Oh, no; not at all."

_Constance._--"Do you think I had better try to finish it?"

_Bartlett._--"Oh, certainly. Why not? If it amuses you!"

_Constance_, perplexedly.--"Of course." Then with a sad significance:
"But I know I am trying your patience too far. You have been so kind, so
good, I can't forgive myself for annoying you."

_Bartlett._--"It doesn't annoy me. I'm very glad to be useful to you."

_Constance_, demurely.--"I didn't mean painting; I meant--screaming."
She lifts her eyes to Bartlett's face, with a pathetic, inquiring
attempt at lightness, the slightest imaginable experimental archness in
her self-reproach, which dies out as Bartlett frowns and bites the
corner of his moustache in unresponsive silence. "I ought to be well
enough now to stop it: I'm quite well enough to be ashamed of it." She
breaks off a miserable little laugh.

_Bartlett_, with cold indifference.--"There's no reason why you should
stop it--if it amuses you." She looks at him in surprise at this
rudeness. "Do you wish to try your hand at Ponkwasset this morning?"

_Constance_, with a flash of resentment.--"No; thanks." Then with a
lapse into her morbid self-abasement: "I shall not touch it again.

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Yes, Constance." Mrs. Wyatt and Cummings, both intent on
Bartlett and Constance, have been heroically feigning a polite interest
in each other, from which pretence they now eagerly release themselves.

_Constance._--"Oh--nothing. I can get it of Mary. I won't trouble you."
She goes toward the door.

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Mary isn't up from her breakfast yet. If you want
anything, let me go with you, dear." She turns to follow Constance.
"Good morning, Mr. Cummings; we shall see you at dinner. Good
morning,"--with an inquiring glance at Bartlett. Constance slightly
inclines towards the two gentlemen without looking at them, in going out
with her mother; and Cummings moves away to the piano, and affects to
examine the sheet-music scattered over it. Bartlett remains in his place
near the easel.



_Bartlett_, harshly, after a certain silence which his friend is
apparently resolved not to break.--"Sail in, Cummings!"

_Cummings._--"Oh, I've got nothing to say."

_Bartlett._--"Yes, you have. You think I'm a greater fool and a greater
brute than you ever supposed in your most sanguine moments. Well, I am!
What then?"

_Cummings_, turning about from the music at which he has been pretending
to look, and facing Bartlett, with a slight shrug.--"If you choose to
characterise your own behaviour in that way, I shall not dispute you at
any rate."

_Bartlett._--"Go on!"

_Cummings._--"Go on? You saw yourself, I suppose, how she hung upon
every syllable you spoke, every look, every gesture?"

_Bartlett._--"Yes, I saw it."

_Cummings._--"You saw how completely crushed she was by your tone and
manner. You're not blind. Upon my word, Bartlett, if I didn't know what
a good, kind-hearted fellow you are, I should say you were the greatest
ruffian alive."

_Bartlett_, with a groan.--"Go on! That's something like."

_Cummings._--"I couldn't hear what was going on--I'll own I tried--but I
could see; and to see the delicate _amende_ she was trying to offer you,
in such a way that it should not seem an amende,--a perfect study of a
woman's gracious, unconscious art,--and then to see your sour refusal of
it all, it made me sick."

_Bartlett_, with a desperate clutch at his face, like a man oppressed
with some stifling vapour.--"Yes, yes! I saw it all, too! And if it had
been for _me_, I would have given anything for such happiness. Oh,
gracious powers! How dear she is! I would rather have suffered any
anguish than give her pain, and yet I gave her pain! I knew how it
entered her heart: I felt it in my own. But what could I do? If I am to
be myself, if I am not to steal the tenderness meant for another man,
the _love_ she shows to me because I'm like somebody else, I _must_ play
the brute. But have a little mercy on me. At least, I'm a _baited_
brute. I don't know which way to turn, I don't know what to do. She's so
dear to me,--so dear in every tone of her voice, every look of her eyes,
every aspiration or desire of her transparent soul, that it seems to me
my whole being is nothing but a thought of her. I loved her
helplessness, her pallor, her sorrow; judge how I adore her return to
something like life! Oh, you blame me! You simplify this infernal
perplexity of mine and label it brutality, and scold me for it. Great
heaven! And yet you saw, you heard how she entered this room. In that
instant the old illusion was back on her, and _I_ was nothing. All that
I had been striving and longing to be to her, and hoping and despairing
to seem, was swept out of existence; I was reduced to a body without a
soul, to a shadow, a counterfeit! You think I resented it? Poor girl, I
_pitied_ her so; and my own heart all the time like lead in my
breast,--a dull lump of ache! I swear, I wonder I don't go mad. I
suppose--why, I suppose I _am_ insane. No man in his senses was ever
bedevilled by such a maniacal hallucination. Look here, Cummings: tell
me that this damnable coil isn't simply a matter of my own fancy. It'll
be some little relief to know that it's _real_."

_Cummings._--"It's real enough, my dear fellow. And it _is_ a
trial,--more than I could have believed such a fantastic thing could

_Bartlett._--"Trial? Ordeal by fire! Torment! I can't stand it any

_Cummings_, musingly.--"She _is_ beautiful, isn't she, with that faint
dawn of red in her cheeks,--not a colour, but a coloured light like the
light that hangs round a rose-tree's boughs in the early spring! And
what a magnificent movement, what a stately grace! The girl must have
been a goddess!"

_Bartlett._--"And now she's a saint--for sweetness and patience! You
think she's had nothing to suffer before from me? You know me better!
Well, I am going away."

_Cummings._--"Perhaps it will be the best. You can go back with me

_Bartlett._--"To-morrow? Go back with you to-morrow? What are you
talking about, man?" Cummings smiles. "I can't go to-morrow. I can't
leave her hating me."

_Cummings._--"I knew you never meant to go. Well, what will you do?"

_Bartlett._--"Don't be so cold-blooded! What would _you_ do?"

_Cummings._--"I would have it out somehow."

_Bartlett._--"Oh, you talk! How?"

_Cummings._--"I am not in love with Miss Wyatt."

_Bartlett._--"Oh, don't try to play the cynic with me! It doesn't become
you. I know I've used you badly at times, Cummings. I behaved abominably
in leaving you to take the brunt of meeting General Wyatt that first
day; I said so then, and I shall always say it. But I thought you had
forgiven that."

_Cummings_, with a laugh.--"You make it hard to treat you seriously,
Bartlett. What do you want me to do? Do you want me to go to Miss Wyatt
and explain your case to her?"

_Bartlett_, angrily.--"No!"

_Cummings._--"Perhaps to Mrs. Wyatt?"

_Bartlett_, infuriate.--"No!"

_Cummings._--"To the General?"

_Bartlett_, with sudden quiet.--"You had better go away from here,
Cummings--while you can."

_Cummings._--"I see you don't wish me to do anything, and you're quite
right. Nobody _can_ do anything but yourself."

_Bartlett._--"And what would you advise me to do?"

_Cummings._--"I've told you that I would have it out. You can't make
matters worse. You can't go on in this way indefinitely. It's just
possible that you might find yourself mistaken,--that Miss Wyatt cares
for you in your own proper identity."

_Bartlett._--"For shame!"

_Cummings._--"Oh, if you like!"

_Bartlett_, after a pause.--"Would you--would you see the General?"

_Cummings._--"If I wanted to marry the General. Come, Bartlett; don't be
ridiculous. You know you don't want my advice, and I haven't any to
give. I must go to my room a moment."

_Bartlett._--"Well, go! You're of no advantage here. You'd have it
out, would you? Well, then, I wouldn't. I'm a brute, I know, and a fool,
but I'm not such a brute and fool as that!" Cummings listens with
smiling patience, and then goes without reply, while Bartlett drops into
the chair near the easel, and sulkily glares at the picture. Through the
window at his back shows the mellow Indian summer landscape. The trees
have all dropped their leaves, save the oaks which show their dark
crimson banners among the deep green of the pines and hemlocks on the
hills; the meadows, verdant as in June, slope away toward the fringe of
birches and young maples along the borders of the pond; the
low-blackberry trails like a running fire over the long grass limp from
the first frosts, which have silenced all the insect voices. No sound of
sylvan life is heard but the harsh challenge of a jay, answered from
many trees of the nearest wood-lot. The far-off hill-tops are molten in
the soft azure haze of the season; the nearer slopes and crests sleep
under a greyer and thinner veil. It is to this scene that the painter
turns from the easel, with the sullen unconsciousness in which he has
dwelt upon the picture. Its beauty seems at last to penetrate his mood;
he rises and looks upon it; then he goes out on the gallery, and, hidden
by the fall of one of the curtains, stands leaning upon the rail and
rapt in the common reverie of the dreaming world. While he lingers
there, Cummings appears at the door, and looks in; then with an air of
some surprise, as if wondering not to see Bartlett, vanishes again, to
give place to General Wyatt, who after a like research retires silently
and apparently disconcerted. A few moments later Mrs. Wyatt comes to the
threshold, and calling gently into the room, "Constance!" waits briefly
and goes away. At last, the young girl herself appears, and falters in
the doorway an instant, but finally comes forward and drifts softly and
indirectly up to the picture, at which she glances with a little sigh.
At the same moment Bartlett's voice, trolling a snatch of song, comes
from the gallery without:--



    Here apart our paths, then, lie:
    This way you wend, that way I;
    Speak one word before you go:
    Do not, do not leave me so!


    What is it that I should say?
    Tell me quick; I cannot stay;
    Quick! I am not good at guessing:
    Night is near, and time is pressing.


    Nay, then, go! But were I you,
    I will tell you what I'd do:
    Rather than be baffled so,
    I would never, never go!

As the song ends, Bartlett reappears at the gallery door giving into
the parlour, and encounters Constance turning at his tread from the
picture on which she has been pensively gazing while he sang. He puts up
a hand on either side of the door.



_Bartlett._--"I didn't know you were here."

_Constance._--"Neither did I--know you were, till I heard you singing."

_Bartlett_, smiling ironically.--"Oh, you didn't suppose I sang!"

_Constance_, confusedly.--"I--I don't know"--

_Bartlett._--"Ah, you thought I did! I don't. I was indulging in a sort
of modulated howling which I flatter myself is at least one peculiarity
that's entirely my own. I was baying the landscape merely for my private
amusement, and I'd not have done it, if I'd known you were in hearing.
However, if it's helped to settle the fact one way or other, concerning
any little idiosyncrasy of mine, I shan't regret it. I hope not to
disappoint you in anything, by-and-by." He drops his hands from the
door-posts and steps into the room, while Constance, in shrinking
abeyance, stands trembling at his harshness.

_Constance_, in faltering reproach.--"Mr. Bartlett!"


_Constance_, struggling to assert herself, but breaking feebly in her
attempt at hauteur.--"Constance? What does this mean, Mr. Bartlett?"

_Bartlett_, with a sudden burst.--"What does it mean? It means that I'm
sick of this nightmare masquerade. It means that I want to be something
to you--all the world to you--in and for myself. It means that I can't
play another man's part any longer and live. It means that I love you,
love you, love you, Constance!" He starts involuntarily toward her with
outstretched arms, from which she recoils with a convulsive cry.

_Constance._--"You love me? _Me?_ Oh, no, no! How can you be so
merciless as to talk to me of love?" She drops her glowing face into her

_Bartlett._--"Because I'm a man. Because love is more than
mercy--better, higher, wiser. Listen to me, Constance!--yes, I will call
you so now if never again: you are so dear to me that I must say it at
last if it killed you. If loving you is cruel, I'm pitiless! Give me
some hope, tell me to breathe, my girl!"

_Constance._--"Oh go, while I can still forgive you."

_Bartlett._--"I won't go; I won't have your forgiveness; I will have all
or nothing; I want your love!"

_Constance_, uncovering her face and turning its desolation upon him:
"My love? I have no love to give. My heart is dead."

_Bartlett._--"No, no! That's part of the ugly trance that we've both
been living in so long. Look! You're better now than when you came here;
you're stronger, braver, more beautiful. My angel, you're turned a woman
again! Oh, you can love me if you will; and you will! Look at me,
darling!" He takes her listless right hand in his left, and gently draws
her toward him.

_Constance_, starting away.--"You're wrong; you're all wrong! You don't
understand; you don't know-- Oh, listen to me!"

_Bartlett_, still holding her cold hand fast.--"Yes, a thousand years.
But you must tell me first that I may love you. That first!"

_Constance._--"No! That never! And since you speak to me of love, listen
to what it's my right you should hear."

_Bartlett_, releasing her.--"I don't care to hear. Nothing can ever
change me. But if you bid me, I will go!"

_Constance._--"You shall not go now till you know what despised and
hated and forsaken thing you've offered your love to."

_Bartlett_, beseechingly.--"Constance, let me go while I can forgive
myself. Nothing you can say will make me love you less; remember that;
but I implore you to spare yourself. Don't speak, my love."

_Constance._--"Spare myself? Not speak? Not speak what has been on my
tongue and heart and brain, a burning fire, so long?-- Oh, I was a happy
girl once! The days were not long enough for my happiness; I woke at
night to think of it. I was proud in my happiness and believed myself,
poor fool, one to favour those I smiled on; and I had my vain and crazy
dreams of being the happiness of some one who should come to ask
for--what you ask now. Some one came. At first I didn't care for him,
but he knew how to make me. He knew how to make my thoughts of him part
of my happiness and pride and vanity till he was all in all, and I had
no wish, no hope, no life but him; and then he--left me!" She buries her
face in her hands again, and breaks into a low, piteous sobbing.

_Bartlett_, with a groan of helpless fury and compassion.--"The fool,
the sot, the slave! Constance, I knew all this,--I knew it from the

_Constance_, recoiling in wild reproach.--"You _knew_ it?"

_Bartlett_, desperately.--"Yes, I knew it--in spite of myself,
through my own stubborn fury I knew it, that first day, when I had
obliged my friend to tell me what your father had told him, before I
would hear reason. I would have given anything not to have known it
then, when it was too late, for I had at least the grace to feel the
wrong, the outrage of my knowing it. You can never pardon it, I see; but
you must feel what a hateful burden I had to bear, when I found that I
had somehow purloined the presence, the looks, the voice of another
man--a man whom I would have joyfully changed myself to any monstrous
shape _not_ to resemble, though I knew that my likeness to him,
bewildering you in a continual dream of him, was all that ever made you
look at me or think of me. I lived in the hope--Heaven only knows why I
should have had the hope!--that I might yet be myself to you; that you
might wake from your dream of him and look on me in the daylight, and
see that I was at least an honest man, and pity me and may be love me at
last, as I loved you at first, from the moment I saw your dear pale
face, and heard your dear, sad voice." He follows up her slow retreat
and again possesses himself of her hand: "Don't cast me off! It was
monstrous, out of all decency, to know your sorrow; but I never tried to
know it; I tried _not_ to know it." He keeps fast hold of her hand,
while she remains with averted head. "I love you, Constance; I loved
you; and when once you had bidden me stay, I was helpless to go away, or
I would never be here now to offend you with the confession of that
shameful knowledge. Do you think it was no trial to me? It gave me the
conscience of an eavesdropper and a spy; yet all I knew was sacred to

_Constance_, turning and looking steadfastly into his face.--"And you
could care for so poor a creature as I--so abject, so obtuse as never to
know what had made her intolerable to the man that cast her off?"

_Bartlett._--"Man? He was _no_ man! He"--

_Constance_, suddenly.--"Oh, wait! I--I love him yet."

_Bartlett_, dropping her hand.--"You"--

_Constance._--"Yes, yes! As much as I live, I love him! But when he left
me, I seemed to die; and now it's as if I were some wretched ghost
clinging for all existence to the thought of my lost happiness. If that
slips from me, then I cease to be."

_Bartlett._--"Why, this is still your dream. But I won't despair. You'll
wake yet, and care for me: I know you will."

_Constance_, tenderly.--"Oh, I'm not dreaming now. I know that you are
not he. You are everything that is kind and good; and some day you will
be very happy."

_Bartlett_, desolately.--"I shall never be happy without your love."
After a pause: "It will be a barren, bitter comfort, but let me have it
if you can: if _I_ had met you first, could you have loved _me_?"

_Constance._--"I might have loved you if--I had--lived." She turns from
him again, and moves softly toward the door; his hollow voice arrests

_Bartlett._--"If you are dead, then I have lived too long. Your loss
takes the smile out of life for me." A moment later: "You are cruel,

_Constance_, abruptly facing him.--"I cruel? To _you_?"

_Bartlett._--"Yes, you have put me to shame before myself. You might
have spared me! A treacherous villain is false in time to save you from
a life of betrayal, and you say your heart is dead. But that isn't
enough. You tell me that you cannot care for me because you love that
treacherous villain still. That's my disgrace, that's my humiliation,
that's my killing shame. I could have borne all else. You might have
cast me off however you would, driven me away with any scorn, whipped me
from you with the sharpest rebuke that such presumption as mine could
merit; but to drag a decent man's self-respect through such mire as that
poor rascal's memory for six long weeks, and then tell him that you
prefer the mire"--

_Constance._--"Oh, hush! I can't let you reproach him! He was pitilessly
false to me, but I will be true to him for ever. How do I know--I _must_
find some reason for that, or there is no reason in anything!--how do I
know that he did not break his word to me at my father's bidding? My
father never liked him."

_Bartlett_, shaking his head with a melancholy smile.--"Ah, Constance,
do you think _I_ would break my word to you at your father's bidding?"

_Constance_, in abject despair.--"Well, then I go back to what I always
knew; I was too slight, too foolish, too tiresome for his life-long
love. He saw it in time, I don't blame him. You would see it, too."

_Bartlett._--"What devil's vantage enabled that infernal scoundrel to
blight your spirit with his treason? Constance, is this my last answer?"

_Constance._--"Yes, go! I am so sorry for you,--sorrier than I ever
thought I could be for anything again."

_Bartlett._--"Then if you pity me, give me a little hope that sometime,

_Constance._--"Oh, I have no hope, for you, for me, for any one.
Good-bye, good, kind friend! Try,--you won't have to try hard--to forget
me. Unless some miracle should happen to show me that it was all his
fault and none of mine, we are parting now for ever. It has been a
strange dream, and nothing is so strange as that it should be ending so.
Are you the ghost or I, I wonder! It confuses me as it did at first; but
if you are he, or only you-- Ah, don't look at me so, or I must believe
he has never left me, and implore you to stay!"

_Bartlett_, quietly.--"Thanks. I would not stay a moment longer in his
disguise, if you begged me on your knees. I shall always love you,
Constance, but if the world is wide enough, please Heaven, I will never
see you again. There are some things dearer to me than your presence.
No, I won't take your hand; it can't heal the hurt your words have made,
and nothing can help me, now I know from your own lips that but for my
likeness to _him_ I should never have been anything to you. Good-bye!"

_Constance._--"Oh!" She sinks with a long cry into the arm-chair
beside the table, and drops her head into her arms upon it. At the door
toward which he turns Bartlett meets General Wyatt, and a moment later
Mrs. Wyatt enters by the other. Bartlett recoils under the concentrated
reproach and inquiry of their gaze.



_Mrs. Wyatt_, hastening to bow herself over Constance's fallen
head.--"Oh, what is it, Constance?" As Constance makes no reply, she
lifts her eyes again to Bartlett's face.

_General Wyatt_, peremptorily.--"Well, sir!"

_Bartlett_, with bitter desperation.--"Oh, you shall know!"

_Constance_, interposing.--"I will tell! You shall be spared that, at
least." She has risen, and with her face still hidden in her
handkerchief, seeks her father with an outstretched hand. He tenderly
gathers her to his arms, and she droops a moment upon his shoulder;
then, with an electrical revolt against her own weakness, she lifts her
head and dries her tears with a passionate energy. "He--Oh, speak _for_
me!" Her head falls again on her father's shoulder.

_Bartlett_, with grave irony and self-scorn.--"It's a simple matter,
sir; I have been telling Miss Wyatt that I love her, and offering to
share with her my obscurity and poverty. I"--

_General Wyatt_, impatiently.--"Curse your poverty, sir! I'm poor
myself. Well!"

_Bartlett._--"Oh, that's merely the beginning; I have had the indecency
to do this knowing that what alone rendered me sufferable to her it was
a cruel shame for me to know, and an atrocity for me to presume upon.

_General Wyatt._--"I authorised this knowledge on your part when I spoke
to your friend, and before he went away he told me all he had said to

_Bartlett_, in the first stages of petrifaction.--"Cummings?"

_General Wyatt._--"Yes."

_Bartlett._--"Told you that I knew whom I was like?"

_General Wyatt._--"Yes."

_Bartlett_, very gently.--"Then I think that man will be lost for
keeping his conscience _too_ clean. Cummings has invented a new sin."

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"James, James! You told me that Mr. Bartlett didn't

_General Wyatt_, contritely.--"I let you think so, Margaret; I didn't
know what else to do."

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Oh, James!"

_Constance._--"Oh, papa!" She turns with bowed head from her father's
arms, and takes refuge in her mother's embrace. General Wyatt, released,
fetches a compass round about the parlour, with a face of intense
dismay. He pauses in front of his wife.

_General Wyatt._--"Margaret, you must know the worst now."

_Mrs. Wyatt_, in gentle reproach, while she softly caresses Constance's
hair.--"Oh, is there anything _worse_, James?"

_General Wyatt_, hopelessly.--"Yes: I'm afraid I have been to blame."

_Bartlett._--"General Wyatt, let me retire. I"--

_General Wyatt._--"No, sir. This concerns you, too, now. Your destiny
has entangled you with our sad fortunes, and now you must know them

_Constance_, from her mother's shoulder.--"Yes, stay,--whatever it is.
If you care for me, nothing can hurt you any more, now."

_General Wyatt._--"Margaret,--Constance! If I have been mistaken in what
I have done, you must try somehow to forgive me; it was my tenderness
for you both misled me, if I erred. Sir, let me address my defence to
you. You can see the whole matter with clearer eyes than we." At an
imploring gesture from Bartlett, he turns again to Mrs. Wyatt. "Perhaps
you are right, sir. Margaret, when I had made up my mind that the wretch
who had stolen our child's heart was utterly unfit and unworthy"--

_Constance_, starting away from her mother with a cry.--"Ah, you _did_
drive him from me then! I knew, I knew it! And after all these days and
weeks and months that seem years and centuries of agony, you tell me
that it was _you_ broke my heart! No, no, I never _will_ forgive you,
father! Where is he? Tell me that! Where is my husband--the husband you
robbed me of? Did you kill him, when you chose to crush my life? Is he
dead? If he's living I will find him wherever he is. No distance and no
danger shall keep me from him. I'll find him and fall down before him,
and implore _him_ to forgive you, for I never can! Was this your
tenderness for me--to drive him away, and leave me to the pitiless
humiliation of believing myself deserted? Oh, great tenderness!"

_General Wyatt_, confronting her storm with perfect quiet.--"No, I will
give better proof of my tenderness than that." He takes from his
pocket-book a folded paper which he hands to his wife: "Margaret, do you
know that writing?"

_Mrs. Wyatt_, glancing at the superscription.--"Oh, too well! This is to
you, James."

_General Wyatt._--"It's for you now. Read it."

_Mrs. Wyatt_, wonderingly unfolding the paper and then reading.--"'_I
confess myself guilty of forging Major Cummings's signature, and in
consideration of his and your own forbearance, I promise never to see
Miss Wyatt again. I shall always be grateful for your mercy;
and_'--James, James! It isn't possible!"

_Constance_, who has crept nearer and nearer while her mother has been
reading, as if drawn by a resistless fascination.--"No, it isn't
possible! It's false; it's a fraud! I _will_ see it." She swiftly
possesses herself of the paper and scans the handwriting for a moment
with a fierce intentness. Then she flings it wildly away. "Yes, yes,
it's true! It's his hand. It's true, it's the only true thing in this
world of lies!" She totters away toward the sofa. Bartlett makes a
movement to support her, but she repulses him, and throws herself upon
the cushions.

_General Wyatt._--"Sir, I am sorry to make you the victim of a scene. It
has been your fate, and no part of my intention. Will you look at this
paper? You don't know all that is in it yet." He touches it with his

_Bartlett_, in dull dejection.--"No, I won't look at it. If it were a
radiant message from heaven, I don't see how it could help me now."

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"I'm afraid you've made a terrible mistake, James."

_General Wyatt._--"Margaret! Don't say that!"

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"Yes, it would have been better to show us this paper at
once,--better than to keep us all these days in this terrible

_General Wyatt._--"I was afraid of greater suffering for you both. I
chose sorrow for Constance rather than the ignominy of knowing that she
had set her heart on so base a scoundrel. When he crawled in the dust
there before me, and whined for pity, I revolted from telling you or her
how vile he was; the thought of it seemed to dishonour you; and I had
hoped something, everything, from my girl's self-respect, her obedience,
her faith in me. I never dreamed that it must come to this."

_Mrs. Wyatt_, sadly shaking her head.--"I know how well you meant; but
oh, it was a fatal mistake!"

_Constance_, abandoning her refuge among the cushions, and coming
forward to her father.--"No, mother, it was no mistake! I see now how
wise and kind and merciful you have been, papa. You can never love me
again, I've behaved so badly; but if you'll let me, I will try to live
my gratitude for your mercy at a time when the whole truth would have
killed me. Oh, papa! What shall I say, what shall I do to show how sorry
and ashamed I am? Let me go down on my knees to thank you." Her father
catches her to his heart, and fondly kisses her again and again. "I
don't deserve it, papa! You ought to hate me, and drive me from you, and
never let me see you again." She starts away from him as if to execute
upon herself this terrible doom, when her eye falls upon the letter
where she had thrown it on the floor. "To think how long I have been the
fool, the slave of that--_felon_!" She stoops upon the paper with a
hawk-like fierceness; she tears it into shreds, and strews the fragments
about the room. "Oh, if I could only tear out of my heart all thoughts
of him, all memory, all likeness!" In her wild scorn she has whirled
unheedingly away toward Bartlett, whom, suddenly confronting, she
apparently addresses in this aspiration; he opens wide his folded arms.

_Bartlett._--"And what would you do, then, with this extraordinary
resemblance?" The closing circle of his arms involves her and clasps her
to his heart, from which beneficent shelter she presently exiles herself
a pace or two, and stands with either hand pressed against his breast
while her eyes dwell with rapture on his face.

_Constance._--"Oh, _you're_ not like him, and you _never_ were!"

_Bartlett_, with light irony: "Ah?"

_Constance._--"If I had not been blind, blind, blind, I never could have
seen the slightest similarity. Like _him_? Never!"

_Bartlett._--"Ah! Then perhaps the resemblance, which we have noticed
from time to time, and which has been the cause of some annoyance and
embarrassment all round, was simply a disguise which I had assumed for
the time being to accomplish a purpose of my own?"

_Constance._--"Oh, don't jest it away! It's your soul that I see now,
your true and brave and generous heart; and if you pardoned me for
mistaking you a single moment for one who had neither soul nor heart, I
could never look you in the face again!"

_Bartlett._--"You seem to be taking a good provisional glare at me
beforehand, then, Miss Wyatt. I've never been so nearly looked out of
countenance in my life. But you needn't be afraid; I shall not pardon
your crime." Constance abruptly drops her head upon his breast, and
again instantly repels herself.

_Constance._--"No, you must not if you could. But you can't--you can't
care for me after hearing what I could say to my father"--

_Bartlett._--"That was in a moment of great excitement."

_Constance._--"After hearing me rave about a man so unworthy of--any
one--you cared for. No, your self-respect--everything--demands that you
should cast me off."

_Bartlett._--"It does. But I am inexorable,--you must have observed the
trait before. In this case I will not yield even to my own colossal
self-respect." Earnestly: "Ah, Constance, do you think I could love you
the less because your heart was too true to swerve even from a traitor
till he was proved as false to honour as to you?" Lightly again: "Come,
I like your fidelity to worthless people; I'm rather a deep and darkling
villain myself."

_Constance_, devoutly.--"You? Oh, you are as nobly frank and open
as--as--as papa!"

_Bartlett._--"No, Constance, you are wrong, for once. Hear my dreadful
secret; I'm not what I seem,--the light and joyous creature I look,--I'm
an emotional wreck. Three short years ago, I was frightfully
jilted"--they all turn upon him in surprise--"by a young person who, I'm
sorry to say, hasn't yet consoled me by turning out a scamp."

_Constance_, drifting to his side with a radiant smile.--"Oh, I'm _so_

_Bartlett_, with affected dryness.--"Are you? I didn't know it was such
a laughing matter. I was always disposed to take those things

_Constance._--"Yes, yes! But don't you see? It places us on more of an
equality." She looks at him with a smile of rapture and logic
exquisitely compact.

_Bartlett._--"Does it? But you're not half as happy as I am."

_Constance._--"Oh yes, I am! Twice."

_Bartlett._--"Then that makes us just even, for so am I." They stand
ridiculously blest, holding each other's hand a moment, and then
Constance, still clinging to one of his hands, goes and rests her other
arm upon her mother's shoulder.

_Constance._--"Mamma, how wretched I have made you, all these months!"

_Mrs. Wyatt._--"If your trouble's over now, my child,"--she tenderly
kisses her cheek,--"there's no trouble for your mother in the world."

_Constance._--"But I'm not happy, mamma. I can't be happy, thinking how
wickedly unhappy I've been. No, no! I had better go back to the old
wretched state again; it's all I'm fit for. I'm _so_ ashamed of myself.
Send him away!" She renews her hold upon his hand.

_Bartlett._--"Nothing of the kind. I was requested to remain here six
weeks ago, by a young lady. Besides, this is a public house. Come, I
haven't finished the catalogue of my disagreeable qualities yet. I'm
jealous. I want you to put that arm on _my_ shoulder." He gently effects
the desired transfer, and then, chancing to look up, he discovers the
Rev. Arthur Cummings on the threshold in the act of modestly retreating.
He detains him with a great melodramatic start. "Hah! A clergyman! This
is indeed ominous!"





     SCENE: _A Parlour Car on the New York Central Railroad. It is late
     afternoon in the early autumn, with a cloudy sunset threatening
     rain. The car is unoccupied save by a gentleman, who sits fronting
     one of the windows, with his feet in another chair; a newspaper
     lies across his lap; his hat is drawn down over his eyes, and he is
     apparently asleep. The rear door of the car opens, and the
     conductor enters with a young lady, heavily veiled, the porter
     coming after with her wraps and travelling-bags. The lady's air is
     of mingled anxiety and desperation, with a certain fierceness of
     movement. She casts a careless glance over the empty chairs._

_Conductor._--"Here's your ticket, madam. You can have any of the
places you like here, or,"--glancing at the unconscious gentleman, and
then at the young lady--"if you prefer, you can go and take that seat in
the forward car."

_Miss Lucy Galbraith._--"Oh, I can't ride backwards. I'll stay here,
please. Thank you." The porter places her things in a chair by a window,
across the car from the sleeping gentleman, and she throws herself
wearily into the next seat, wheels round in it, and lifting her veil
gazes absently out at the landscape. Her face, which is very pretty,
with a low forehead shadowed by thick, blonde hair, shows the traces of
tears. She makes search in her pocket for her handkerchief, which she
presses to her eyes. The conductor, lingering a moment, goes out.

_Porter._--"I'll be right here, at de end of de cah, if you should
happen to want anything, miss,"--making a feint of arranging the shawls
and satchels. "Should you like some dese things hung up? Well, dey'll be
jus' as well in de chair. We's pretty late dis afternoon; more 'n four
hours behin' time. Ought to been into Albany 'fore dis. Freight train
off de track jus' dis side o' Rochester, an' had to wait. Was you goin'
to stop at Schenectady, miss?"

_Miss G._, absently.--"At Schenectady?" After a pause, "Yes."

_Porter._--"Well, that's de next station, and den de cahs don't stop
ag'in till dey git to Albany. Anything else I can do for you now, miss?"

_Miss G._--"No, no, thank you, nothing." The porter hesitates, takes off
his cap, and scratches his head with a murmur of embarrassment. Miss
Galbraith looks up at him inquiringly, and then suddenly takes out her
porte-monnaie and fees him.

_Porter._--"Thank you, miss, thank you. If you want anything at all,
miss, I'm right dere at de end of de cah." He goes out by the narrow
passage-way beside the smaller enclosed parlour. Miss Galbraith looks
askance at the sleeping gentleman, and then, rising, goes to the large
mirror, to pin her veil, which has become loosened from her hat. She
gives a little start at sight of the gentleman in the mirror, but
arranges her head-gear, and returning to her place looks out of the
window again. After a little while she moves about uneasily in her
chair, then leans forward and tries to raise her window; she lifts it
partly up, when the catch slips from her fingers and the window falls
shut again with a crash.

_Miss G._--"O _dear_, how provoking! I suppose I must call the porter."
She rises from her seat, but on attempting to move away she finds that
the skirt of her polonaise has been caught in the falling window. She
pulls at it, and then tries to lift the window again, but the cloth has
wedged it in, and she cannot stir it. "Well, I certainly think this is
beyond endurance! Porter! Ah--porter! Oh, he'll never hear me in the
racket that these wheels are making! I wish they'd stop--I"--

The gentleman stirs in his chair, lifts his head, listens, takes his
feet down from the other seat, rises abruptly, and comes to Miss
Galbraith's side.

_Mr. Allen Richards._--"Will you allow me to open the window for you?"
Starting back, "Miss Galbraith!"

_Miss G._--"Al--Mr. Richards!" There is a silence for some moments, in
which they remain looking at each other; then,

_Mr. Richards._--"Lucy"--

_Miss G._--"I forbid you to address me in that way, Mr. Richards."

_Mr. R._--"Why, you were just going to call me Allen!"

_Miss G._--"That was an accident, you know very well--an impulse."

_Mr. R._--"Well, so is this."

_Miss G._--"Of which you ought to be ashamed to take advantage. I wonder
at your presumption in speaking to me at all. It's quite idle, I can
assure you. Everything is at an end between us. It seems that I bore
with you too long; but I'm thankful that I had the spirit to act at
last, and to act in time. And now that chance has thrown us together, I
trust that you will not force your conversation upon me. No gentleman
would, and I have always given you credit for thinking yourself a
gentleman. I request that you will not speak to me."

_Mr. R._--"You've spoken ten words to me for every one of mine to you.
But I won't annoy you. I can't believe it, Lucy; I can _not_ believe it.
It seems like some rascally dream, and if I had had any sleep since it
happened, I should think I _had_ dreamed it."

_Miss G._--"Oh! You were sleeping soundly enough when I got into the

_Mr. R._--"I own it; I was perfectly used up, and I _had_ dropped off."

_Miss G._, scornfully.--"Then perhaps you _have_ dreamed it."

_Mr. R._--"I'll think so till you tell me again that our engagement is
broken; that the faithful love of years is to go for nothing; that you
dismiss me with cruel insult, without one word of explanation, without a
word of intelligible accusation, even. It's too much! I've been thinking
it all over and over, and I can't make head or tail of it. I meant to
see you again as soon as we got to town, and implore you to hear me.
Come, it's a mighty serious matter, Lucy. I'm not a man to put on
heroics and that; but _I_ believe it'll play the very deuce with me,
Lucy,--that is to say, Miss Galbraith,--I do indeed. It'll give me a low
opinion of woman."

_Miss G._, averting her face.--"Oh, a very high opinion of woman you
have had!"

_Mr. R._, with sentiment.--"Well, there was one woman whom I thought a
perfect angel."

_Miss G._--"Indeed! May I ask her name?"

_Mr. R._, with a forlorn smile.--"I shall be obliged to describe her
somewhat formally as--Miss Galbraith."

_Miss G._--"Mr. Richards!"

_Mr. R._--"Why, you've just forbidden me to say _Lucy_. You must tell
me, dearest, what I have done to offend you. The worst criminals are not
condemned unheard, and I've always thought you were merciful if not
just. And now I only ask you to be just."

_Miss G._, looking out of the window.--"You know very well what you've
done. You can't expect me to humiliate myself by putting your offence
into words."

_Mr. R._--"Upon my soul, I don't know what you mean! I _don't_ know what
I've done. When you came at me, last night, with my ring and presents
and other little traps, you might have knocked me down with the lightest
of the lot. I was perfectly dazed; I couldn't say anything before you
were off, and all I could do was to hope that you'd be more like
yourself in the morning. And in the morning, when I came round to Mrs.
Phillips's I found you were gone, and I came after you by the next

_Miss G._--"Mr. Richards, your personal history for the last
twenty-four hours is a matter of perfect indifference to me, as it shall
be for the next twenty-four hundred years. I see that you are resolved
to annoy me, and since _you_ will not leave the car, _I_ must do so."
She rises haughtily from her seat, but the imprisoned skirt of her
polonaise twitches her abruptly back into her chair. She bursts into
tears. "Oh, what _shall_ I do!"

_Mr. R._, dryly.--"You shall do whatever you like, Miss Galbraith, when
I've set you free; for I see your dress is caught in the window. When
it's once out, I'll shut the window, and you can call the porter to
raise it." He leans forward over her chair, and while she shrinks back
the length of her tether, he tugs at the window-fastening. "I can't get
at it. Would you be so good as to stand up,--all you can?" Miss
Galbraith stands up, droopingly, and Mr. Richards makes a movement
towards her, and then falls back. "No, that won't do. Please sit down
again." He goes round her chair and tries to get at the window from that
side. "I can't get any purchase on it. Why don't you cut out that
piece?" Miss Galbraith stares at him in dumb amazement. "Well, I don't
see what we're to do. I'll go and get the porter." He goes to the end of
the car, and returns. "I can't find the porter--he must be in one of the
other cars. But"--brightening with the fortunate conception--"I've just
thought of something. Will it unbutton?"

_Miss G._--"Unbutton?"

_Mr. R._--"Yes; this garment of yours."

_Miss G._--"My polonaise?" Inquiringly: "Yes."

_Mr. R._--"Well, then, it's a very simple matter. If you will just take
it off I can easily"--

_Miss G._, faintly.--"I can't. A polonaise isn't like an _over_coat"--

_Mr. R._, with dismay.--"Oh! Well, then"--He remains thinking a moment
in hopeless perplexity.

_Miss G._, with polite ceremony.--"The porter will be back soon. Don't
trouble yourself any further about it, please. I shall do very well."

_Mr. R._, without heeding her.--"If you could kneel on that foot-cushion
and face the window"--

_Miss G._, kneeling promptly.--"So?"

_Mr. R._--"Yes, and now"--kneeling beside her--"if you'll allow me
to--to get at the window catch,"--he stretches both arms forward; she
shrinks from his right into his left, and then back again,--"and pull,
while I raise the window"--

_Miss G._--"Yes, yes; but do hurry, please. If any one saw us, I don't
know what they would think. It's perfectly ridiculous!"--pulling. "It's
caught in the corner of the window, between the frame and the sash, and
it won't come! Is my hair troubling you? Is it in your eyes?"

_Mr. R._--"It's in my eyes, but it isn't troubling me. Am I
inconveniencing you?"

_Miss G._--"Oh, not at all."

_Mr. R._--"Well, now then, pull hard!" He lifts the window with a great
effort; the polonaise comes free with a start, and she strikes violently
against him. In supporting the shock he cannot forbear catching her for
an instant to his heart. She frees herself, and starts indignantly to
her feet.

_Miss G._--"Oh, what a cowardly--subterfuge!"

_Mr. R._--"Cowardly? You've no idea how much courage it took." Miss
Galbraith puts her handkerchief to her face and sobs. "Oh, don't cry!
Bless my heart--I'm sorry I did it! But you know how dearly I love you,
Lucy, though I do think you've been cruelly unjust. I told you I never
should love anyone else, and I never shall. I couldn't help it, upon my
soul I couldn't. Nobody could. Don't let it vex you, my"--He approaches

_Miss G._--"Please not touch me, sir! You have no longer any right
whatever to do so."

_Mr. R._--"You misinterpret a very inoffensive gesture. I have no idea
of touching you, but I hope I may be allowed, as a special favour,
to--pick up my hat, which you are in the act of stepping on." Miss
Galbraith hastily turns, and strikes the hat with her whirling skirts;
it rolls to the other side of the parlour, and Mr. Richards, who goes
after it, utters an ironical "Thanks!" He brushes it and puts it on,
looking at her where she has again seated herself at the window with her
back to him, and continues, "As for any further molestation from me"--

_Miss G._--"If you _will_ talk to me"--

_Mr. R._--"Excuse me, I am not talking to you."

_Miss G._--"What were you doing?"

_Mr. R._--"I was beginning to think aloud. I--I was soliloquising. I
suppose I may be allowed to soliloquise?"

_Miss G._, very coldly.--"You can do what you like."

_Mr. R._--"Unfortunately that's just what I can't do. If I could do as
I liked, I should ask you a single question."

_Miss G._, after a moment.--"Well, sir, you may ask your question." She
remains as before, with her chin in her hand, looking tearfully out of
the window; her face is turned from Mr. Richards, who hesitates a
moment, before he speaks.

_Mr. R._--"I wish to ask you just this, Miss Galbraith: if you couldn't
ride backwards in the other car, why do you ride backwards in this?"

_Miss G._, burying her face in her handkerchief, and sobbing.--"Oh, oh,
oh! This is too bad!"

_Mr. R._--"Oh, come now, Lucy. It breaks my heart to hear you going on
so, and all for nothing. Be a little merciful to both of us, and listen
to me. I've no doubt I can explain everything if I once understand it,
but it's pretty hard explaining a thing if you don't understand it
yourself. Do turn round. I know it makes you sick to ride in that way,
and if you don't want to face me--there!"--wheeling in his chair so as
to turn his back upon her--"you needn't. Though it's rather trying to a
fellow's politeness, not to mention his other feelings. Now, what in the

_Porter_, who at this moment enters with his step-ladder, and begins to
light the lamps.--"Going pretty slow ag'in, sah."

_Mr. R._--"Yes; what's the trouble?"

_Porter._--"Well, I don't know exactly, sah. Something de matter with de
locomotive. We shan't be into Albany much 'fore eight o'clock."

_Mr. R._--"What's the next station?"


_Mr. R._--"Is the whole train as empty as this car?"

_Porter_, laughing.--"Well, no, sah. Fact is, _dis_ cah don't belong on
dis train. It's a Pullman that we hitched on when you got in, and we's
taking it along for one of de Eastern roads. We let you in 'cause de
Drawing-rooms was all full. Same with de lady"--looking sympathetically
at her, as he takes up his steps to go out. "Can I do anything for you
now, miss?"

_Miss G._, plaintively.--"No, thank you; nothing whatever." She has
turned while Mr. Richards and the porter have been speaking, and now
faces the back of the former, but her veil is drawn closely. The porter
goes out.

_Mr. R._, wheeling round so as to confront her.--"I wish you would
speak to me half as kindly as you do to that darky, Lucy."

_Miss G._--"_He_ is a gentleman!"

_Mr. R._--"He is an urbane and well-informed nobleman. At any rate,
he's a man and a brother. But so am I." Miss Galbraith does not reply,
and after a pause Mr. Richards resumes. "Talking of gentlemen: I
recollect, once, coming up on the day-boat to Poughkeepsie, there was a
poor devil of a tipsy man kept following a young fellow about, and
annoying him to death--trying to fight him, as a tipsy man will, and
insisting that the young fellow had insulted him. By-and-by he lost his
balance, and went overboard, and the other jumped after him and fished
him out." Sensation on the part of Miss Galbraith, who stirs uneasily in
her chair, looks out of the window, then looks at Mr. Richards, and
drops her head. "There was a young lady on board, who had seen the whole
thing--a very charming young lady indeed, with pale blonde hair growing
very thick over her forehead, and dark eye-lashes to the sweetest blue
eyes in the world. Well, this young lady's papa was amongst those who
came up to say civil things to the young fellow when he got aboard
again, and to ask the honour--he said the _honour_--of his acquaintance.
And when he came out of his state-room in dry clothes, this infatuated
old gentleman was waiting for him, and took him and introduced him to
his wife and daughter. And the daughter said, with tears in her eyes,
and a perfectly intoxicating impulsiveness, that it was the grandest and
the most heroic and the noblest thing that she had ever seen, and she
should always be a better girl for having seen it. Excuse me, Miss
Galbraith, for troubling you with these facts of a personal history
which, as you say, is a matter of perfect indifference to you. The young
fellow didn't think at the time he had done anything extraordinary; but
I don't suppose he _did_ expect to live to have the same girl tell him
he was no gentleman."

_Miss G._, wildly.--"Oh, Allen, Allen! You _know_ I think you are a
gentleman, and I always did!"

_Mr. R._, languidly.--"Oh, I merely had your word for it, just now, that
you didn't." Tenderly.--"Will you hear me, Lucy?"

_Miss G._, faintly.--"Yes."

_Mr. R._--"Well, what is it I've done? Will you tell me if I guess

_Miss G._, with dignity.--"I am in no humour for jesting, Allen. And I
can assure you that though I consent to hear what you have to say, or
ask, _nothing_ will change my determination. All is over between us."

_Mr. R._--"Yes, I understand that perfectly. I am now asking merely for
general information. I do not expect you to relent, and in fact I should
consider it rather frivolous if you did. No. What I have always admired
in your character, Lucy, is a firm, logical consistency; a clearness of
mental vision that leaves no side of a subject unsearched; and an
unwavering constancy of purpose. You may say that these traits are
characteristic of _all_ women; but they are pre-eminently characteristic
of you, Lucy." Miss Galbraith looks askance at him, to make out whether
he is in earnest or not; he continues, with a perfectly serious air.
"And I know now that if you're offended with me, it's for no trivial
cause." She stirs uncomfortably in her chair. "What I have done I can't
imagine, but it must be something monstrous, since it has made life with
me appear so impossible that you are ready to fling away your own
happiness--for I know you _did_ love me, Lucy--and destroy mine. I will
begin with the worst thing I can think of. Was it because I danced so
much with Fanny Watervliet?"

_Miss G._, indignantly.--"How can you insult me by supposing that I
could be jealous of such a _perfect_ little goose as that? No, Allen!
Whatever I think of you, I _still_ respect you too much for _that_."

_Mr. R._--"I'm glad to hear that there are yet depths to which you think
me incapable of descending, and that Miss Watervliet is one of them. I
will now take a little higher ground. Perhaps you think I flirted with
Mrs. Dawes. I thought, myself, that the thing might begin to have that
appearance, but I give you my word of honour that as soon as the idea
occurred to me, I dropped her,--rather rudely, too. The trouble was,
don't you know, that I felt so perfectly safe with a _married_ friend of
yours. I couldn't be hanging about you all the time, and I was afraid I
might vex you if I went with the other girls; and I didn't know what to

_Miss G._--"I think you behaved rather silly, giggling so much with her.

_Mr. R._--"I own it, I know it was silly. But"--

_Miss G._--"It wasn't that; it wasn't that!"

_Mr. R._--"Was it my forgetting to bring you those things from your

_Miss G._--"No!"

_Mr. R._--"Was it because I hadn't given up smoking yet?"

_Miss G._--"You _know_ I never asked you to give up smoking. It was
entirely your own proposition."

_Mr. R._--"That's true. That's what made me so easy about it. I knew I
could leave it off _any_ time. Well, I will not disturb you any longer,
Miss Galbraith." He throws his overcoat across his arm, and takes up his
travelling-bag. "I have failed to guess your fatal--conundrum; and I
have no longer any excuse for remaining. I am going into the
smoking-car. Shall I send the porter to you for anything?"

_Miss G._--"No, thanks." She puts up her handkerchief to her face.

_Mr. R._--"Lucy, do you send me away?"

_Miss G._, behind her handkerchief.--"You were going, yourself."

_Mr. R._, over his shoulder.--"Shall I come back?"

_Miss G._--"I have no right to drive you from the car."

_Mr. R._, coming back, and sitting down in the chair nearest
her.--"Lucy, dearest, tell me what's the matter."

_Miss G._--"Oh, Allen, your not _knowing_ makes it all the more hopeless
and killing. It shows me that we _must_ part; that you would go on,
breaking my heart, and grinding me into the dust as long as we lived."
She sobs. "It shows me that you never understood me, and you never will.
I know you're good and kind and all that, but that only makes your not
understanding me so much the worse. I do it quite as much for your sake
as my own, Allen."

_Mr. R._--"I'd much rather you wouldn't put yourself out on my account."

_Miss G._, without regarding him.--"If you could mortify me before a
whole roomful of people as you did last night, what could I expect after
marriage but continual insult?"

_Mr. R._, in amazement.--"_How_ did I mortify you? I thought that I
treated you with all the tenderness and affection that a decent regard
for the feelings of others would allow. I was ashamed to find I couldn't
keep away from you."

_Miss G._--"O, you were _attentive_ enough, Allen; nobody denies that.
Attentive enough in non-essentials. O yes!"

_Mr. R._--"Well, what vital matters did I fail in? I'm sure I can't

_Miss G._--"I dare say! I dare say they won't appear vital to you,
Allen. Nothing does. And if I had told you, I should have been met with
ridicule, I suppose. But I knew _better_ than to tell; I respected
myself too _much_."

_Mr. R._--"But now you mustn't respect yourself _quite_ so much,
dearest. And I promise you I won't laugh at the most serious thing. I'm
in no humour for it. If it were a matter of life and death, even, I can
assure you that it wouldn't bring a smile to my countenance. No, indeed!
If you expect me to laugh, _now_, you must say something particularly

_Miss G._--"I was not going to say anything _funny_; as you call it, and
I will say nothing at all, if you talk in that way."

_Mr. R._--"Well, I won't, then. But do you know what I suspect, Lucy? I
wouldn't mention it to everybody, but I will to you--in strict
confidence: I suspect that you're rather ashamed of your grievance, if
you have any. I suspect it's nothing at all."

_Miss G._, very sternly at first, with a rising hysterical
inflection.--"Nothing, Allen! Do you call it _nothing_, to have Mrs.
Dawes come out with all that about your accident on your way up the
river, and ask me if it didn't frighten me terribly to hear of it, even
after it was all over; and I had to say you hadn't told me a word of it?
'Why, Lucy!'"--angrily mimicking Mrs. Dawes--"'you must teach him better
than that. I make Mr. Dawes tell _me_ everything.' Little simpleton! And
then to have them all laugh--oh dear, it's too much!"

_Mr. R._--"Why, my dear Lucy--"

_Miss G._, interrupting him.--"I saw just how it was going to be, and
I'm thankful, _thankful_ that it happened. I saw that you didn't care
enough for me to take me into your whole life; that you despised and
distrusted me, and that it would get worse and worse to the end of our
days; that we should grow further and further apart, and I should be
left moping at home, while you ran about making confidantes of other
women whom you considered _worthy_ of your confidence. It all _flashed_
upon me in an _instant_; and I resolved to break with you, then and
there; and I did, just as soon as ever I could go to my room for your
things, and I'm glad,--yes,--O hu, hu, hu, hu, hu!--_so_ glad I did it!"

_Mr. R._, grimly.--"Your joy is obvious. May I ask--"

_Miss G._--"Oh, it wasn't the _first_ proof you had given me how little
you really cared for me, but I was determined it should be the last. I
dare say you've forgotten them! I dare say you don't remember telling
Mamie Morris that you didn't like crocheted cigar-cases, when you'd just
_told_ me that you did, and let me be such a fool as to commence one for
you; but I'm thankful to say _that_ went into the fire,--O yes,
_instantly_! And I dare say you've forgotten that you didn't tell me
your brother's engagement was to be kept, and let me come out with it
that night at the Rudges' and then looked perfectly aghast, so that
everybody thought I had been blabbing! Time and again, Allen, you have
made me suffer agonies, yes, _agonies_; but your power to do so is at an
end. I am free and happy at last." She weeps bitterly.

_Mr. R._, quietly.--"Yes, I _had_ forgotten those crimes, and I
suppose many similar atrocities. I own it, I _am_ forgetful and
careless. I was wrong about those things. I ought to have told you why I
said that to Miss Morris; I was afraid she was going to work me one. As
to that accident I told Mrs. Dawes of, it wasn't worth mentioning. Our
boat simply walked over a sloop in the night, and nobody was hurt. I
shouldn't have thought twice about it, if she hadn't happened to brag of
their passing close to an iceberg on their way home from Europe; then I
trotted out _my_ pretty-near disaster as a match for hers,--confound
her! I wish the iceberg had sunk them! Only it wouldn't have sunk
her,--she's so light! she'd have gone bobbing all over the Atlantic
Ocean, like a cork; she's got a perfect life-preserver in that mind of
hers." Miss Galbraith gives a little laugh, and then a little moan. "But
since you are happy, I will not repine, Miss Galbraith. I don't pretend
to be very happy myself, but then, I don't deserve it. Since you are
ready to let an absolutely unconscious offence on my part cancel all the
past; since you let my devoted love weigh as nothing against the
momentary pique that a malicious little rattle-pate--she was vexed at my
leaving her--could make you feel, and choose to gratify a wicked
resentment at the cost of any suffering to me, why, _I_ can be glad and
happy, too." With rising anger, "Yes, Miss Galbraith. All _is_ over
between us. You can go! I renounce you!"

_Miss G._, springing fiercely to her feet.--"Go, indeed! Renounce me! Be
so good as to remember that you haven't got me _to_ renounce!"

_Mr. R._--"Well, it's all the same thing. I'd renounce you if I had.
Good evening, Miss Galbraith. I will send back your presents as soon as
I get to town; it won't be necessary to acknowledge them. I hope we may
never meet again." He goes out of the door towards the front of the car,
but returns directly, and glances uneasily at Miss Galbraith, who
remains with her handkerchief pressed to her eyes. "Ah--a--that is--I
shall be obliged to intrude upon you again. The fact is--"

_Miss G._, anxiously.--"Why, the cars have stopped! Are we at

_Mr. R._--"Well, no; not _exactly_; not exactly at _Schenectady_"--

_Miss G._--"Then what station is this? Have they carried me by?"
Observing his embarrassment, "Allen, what is the matter? What has
happened? Tell me instantly! Are we off the track? Have we run into
another train? Have we broken through a bridge? Shall we be burnt alive?
Tell me, Allen, tell me,--I can bear it!--are we telescoped?" She wrings
her hands in terror.

_Mr. R._, unsympathetically.--"Nothing of the kind has happened. This
car has simply come uncoupled, and the rest of the train has gone on
ahead, and left us standing on the track nowhere in particular." He
leans back in his chair, and wheels it round from her.

_Miss G._, mortified, yet anxious.--"Well?"

_Mr. R._--"Well, until they miss us, and run back to pick us up, I shall
be obliged to ask your indulgence. I will try not to disturb you; I
would go out and stand on the platform, but it's raining."

_Miss G._, listening to the rain-fall on the roof.--"Why, so it is!"
Timidly, "Did you notice when the car stopped?"

_Mr. R._--"No." He rises and goes out at the rear door, comes back, and
sits down again.

_Miss G._ rises and goes to the large mirror to wipe away her tears.
She glances at Mr. Richards, who does not move. She sits down in a seat
nearer him than the chair she has left. After some faint murmurs and
hesitations, she asks, "Will you please tell me why you went out just

_Mr. R._, with indifference.--"Yes. I went to see if the rear signal was

_Miss G._, after another hesitation.--"Why?"

_Mr. R._--"Because, if it wasn't out, some train might run into us from
that direction."

_Miss G._, tremulously.--"Oh! And was it?"

_Mr. R._, dryly.--"Yes."

_Miss G._ returns to her former place with a wounded air, and for a
moment neither speaks. Finally she asks very meekly, "And there's no
danger from the front?"

_Mr. R._, coldly.--"No."

_Miss G._, after some little noises and movements meant to catch Mr.
R.'s attention.--"Of course, I never meant to imply that you were
_intentionally_ careless or forgetful."

_Mr. R._, still very coldly.--"Thank you."

_Miss G._--"I always did justice to your good-heartedness, Allen;
you're perfectly lovely that way; and I know that you would be sorry if
you _knew_ you had wounded my feelings, however accidentally." She
droops her head so as to catch a sidelong glimpse of his face, and
sighs, while she nervously pinches the top of her parasol, resting the
point on the floor. Mr. R. makes no answer. "That about the cigar-case
might have been a mistake; I saw that myself, and, as you explain it,
why, it was certainly very kind and very creditable to--to your
thoughtfulness. It _was_ thoughtful."

_Mr. R._--"I am grateful for your good opinion."

_Miss G._--"But do you think it was exactly--it was quite--nice, not to
tell me that your brother's engagement was to be kept, when you know,
Allen, I can't bear to blunder in such things?" Tenderly, "_Do_ you? You
_can't_ say it was."

_Mr. R._--"I never said it was."

_Miss G._, plaintively.--"No, Allen. That's what I always admired in
your character. You always owned up. Don't you think it's easier for men
to own up than it is for women?"

_Mr. R._--"I don't know. I never knew any woman to do it."

_Miss G._--"O yes, Allen! You know I _often_ own up."

_Mr. R._--"No, I don't."

_Miss G._--"Oh, how can you bear to say so? When I'm rash, or anything
of that kind, you know I acknowledge it."

_Mr. R._--"Do you acknowledge it now?"

_Miss G._--"Why, how can I, when I haven't _been_ rash? _What_ have I
been rash about?"

_Mr. R._--"About the cigar-case, for example."

_Miss G._--"Oh! _That!_ That was a great while ago! I thought you meant
something quite recent." A sound as of the approaching train is heard in
the distance. She gives a start, and then leaves her chair again for one
a little nearer his. "I thought perhaps you meant about--last night."

_Mr. R._--"Well?"

_Miss G._, very judicially.--"I don't think it was _rash_ exactly. No,
not _rash_. It might not have been very _kind_ not to--to--trust you
more, when I knew that you didn't mean anything; but-- No, I took the
only course I could. _No_body could have done differently under the
circumstances. But if I caused you any pain, I'm very sorry; O yes, very
sorry indeed. But I was not precipitate, and I know I did right. At
least I _tried_ to act for the best. Don't you believe I did?"

_Mr. R._--"Why, if you have no doubt upon the subject, my opinion is of
no consequence."

_Miss G._--"Yes. But what do you think? If you think differently, and
can make me see it differently, oughtn't you to do so?"

_Mr. R._--"I don't see why. As you say, all is over between us."

_Miss G._--"Yes." After a pause, "I should suppose you would care enough
for _yourself_ to wish me to look at the matter from the right point of

_Mr. R._--"I don't."

_Miss G._, becoming more and more uneasy as the noise of the approaching
train grows louder.--"I think _you_ have been very quick with _me_ at
times, quite as quick as I could have been with you last night." The
noise is more distinctly heard. "I'm sure that if I could once see it as
you do, _no_ one would be more willing to do anything in their power to
atone for their rashness. Of course I know that everything is over."

_Mr. R._--"As to that, I have your word; and, in view of the fact,
perhaps this analysis of motive, of character, however interesting on
general grounds, is a little"--

_Miss G._, with sudden violence.--"Say it, and take your revenge! I
have put myself at your feet, and you do right to trample on me! O, this
is what women may expect when they trust to men's generosity! Well, it
is over now, and I'm thankful, thankful! Cruel, suspicious, vindictive,
you're all alike, and I'm glad that I'm no longer subject to your
heartless caprices. And I don't care what happens after this, I shall
always--Oh! You're sure it's from the front, Allen? Are you sure the
rear signal is out?"

_Mr. R._, relenting.--"Yes, but if it will ease your mind, I'll go and
look again." He rises and starts towards the rear door.

_Miss G._, quickly.--"O no! Don't go! I can't bear to be left alone!"
The sound of the approaching train continually increases in volume. "O,
isn't it coming very, very, _very_ fast?"

_Mr. R._--"No, no! Don't be frightened."

_Miss G._, running towards the rear door.--"O, I _must_ get out! It
will kill me, I know it will. Come with me! Do, do!" He runs after her,
and her voice is heard at the rear of the car. "O, the outside door is
locked, and we are trapped, trapped, trapped! O, quick! Let's try the
door at the other end." They re-enter the parlour, and the roar of the
train announces that it is upon them. "No, no! It's too late, it's too
late! I'm a wicked, wicked girl, and this is all to punish me! O, it's
coming, it's coming at full speed!" He remains bewildered, confronting
her. She utters a wild cry, and, as the train strikes the car with a
violent concussion, she flings herself into his arms. "There, there!
Forgive me, Allen! Let us die together, my own, own love!" She hangs
fainting on his breast. Voices are heard without, and after a little
delay the porter comes in with a lantern.

_Porter._--"Rather more of a jah than we meant to give you, sah! We had
to run down pretty quick after we missed you, and the rain made the
track a little slippery. Lady much frightened?"

_Miss G._, disengaging herself.--"O, not at all! Not in the least. We
thought it was a train coming from behind, and going to run into us, and

_Porter._--"Not quite so bad as that. We'll be into Schenectady in a few
minutes, miss. I'll come for your things." He goes out at the other

_Miss G._, in a fearful whisper.--"Allen! What will he ever think of
us? I'm sure he saw us!"

_Mr. R._--"I don't know what he'll think _now._ He _did_ think you were
frightened; but you told him you were not. However, it isn't important
what he thinks. Probably he thinks I'm your long lost brother. It had a
kind of familiar look."

_Miss G._--"Ridiculous!"

_Mr. R._--"Why, he'd never suppose that I was a jilted lover of yours!"

_Miss G._, ruefully.--"No."

_Mr. R._--"Come, Lucy,"--taking her hand,--"you wished to die with me, a
moment ago. Don't you think you can make one more effort to live with
me? I won't take advantage of words spoken in mortal peril, but I
suppose you were in earnest when you called me your own--own--" Her head
droops; he folds her in his arms, a moment, then she starts away from
him, as if something had suddenly occurred to her.

_Miss G._--"Allen, where are you going?"

_Mr. R._--"Going? Upon my soul, I haven't the least idea."

_Miss G._--"Where _were_ you going?"

_Mr. R._--"O, I _was_ going to Albany."

_Miss G._--"Well, don't! Aunt Mary is expecting me here at
Schenectady,--I telegraphed her,--and I want you to stop here, too, and
we'll refer the whole matter to her. She's such a wise old head. I'm not

_Mr. R._--"What?"

_Miss G._, demurely.--"That I'm good enough for you."

_Mr. R._, starting, in burlesque of her movement, as if a thought had
struck _him_.--"Lucy! how came you on this train when you left Syracuse
on the morning express?"

_Miss G._, faintly.--"I waited over a train at Utica." She sinks into a
chair and averts her face.

_Mr. R._--"May I ask why?"

_Miss G._, more faintly still.--"I don't like to tell. I"--

_Mr. R._, coming and standing in front of her, with his hands in his
pockets.--"Look me in the eye, Lucy!" She drops her veil over her face,
and looks up at him. "Did you--did you expect to find _me_ on this

_Miss G._--"I was afraid it never _would_ get along,--it was so late!"

_Mr. R._--"Don't--tergiversate."

_Miss G._--"Don't _what_?"

_Mr. R._--"Fib."

_Miss G._--"Not for worlds!"

_Mr. R._--"How did you know I was in this car?"

_Miss G._--"Must I? I thought I saw you through the window; and then I
made sure it was you when I went to pin my veil on,--I saw you in the

_Mr. R._, after a little silence.--"Miss Galbraith, do you want to know
what _you_ are?"

_Miss G._, softly.--"Yes, Allen."

_Mr. R._--"You're a humbug!"

_Miss G._, springing from her seat, and confronting him.--"So are you!
You pretended to be asleep!"

_Mr. R._--"I--I--I was taken by surprise. I had to take time to think."

_Miss G._--"So did I."

_Mr. R._--"And you thought it would be a good plan to get your polonaise
caught in the window?"

_Miss G._, hiding her face on his shoulder.--"No, no, Allen! That I
never _will_ admit. _No_ woman would!"

_Mr. R._--"O, I dare say!" After a pause: "Well, I am a poor, weak,
helpless man, with no one to advise me or counsel me, and I have been
cruelly deceived. How could you, Lucy, how could you? I can never get
over this." He drops his head upon her shoulder.

_Miss G._, starting away again and looking about the car.--"Allen, I
have an idea! Do you suppose Mr. Pullman could be induced to _sell_ this

_Mr. R._--"Why?"

_Miss G._--"Why, because I think it's perfectly lovely, and I should
like to live in it always. It could be fitted up for a sort of
summer-house, don't you know, and we could have it in the garden, and
you could smoke in it."

_Mr. R._--"Admirable! It would look just like a travelling photographic
saloon. No, Lucy, we won't buy it; we will simply keep it as a precious
souvenir, a sacred memory, a beautiful dream,--and let it go on
fulfilling its destiny all the same."

_Porter_, entering and gathering up Miss Galbraith's things.--"Be at
Schenectady in half a minute, miss. Won't have much time."

_Miss G._, rising and adjusting her dress, and then looking about the
car, while she passes her hand through her lover's arm.--"O, I do _hate_
to leave it. Farewell, you dear, kind, good, lovely car! May you never
have another accident!" She kisses her hand to the car, upon which they
both look back as they slowly leave it.

_Mr. R._, kissing his hand in like manner.--"Good-bye, sweet chariot!
May you never carry any but bridal couples!"

_Miss G._--"Or engaged ones!"

_Mr. R._--"Or husbands going home to their wives!"

_Miss G._--"Or wives hastening to their husbands."

_Mr. R._--"Or young ladies who have waited one train over, so as to be
with the young men they hate."

_Miss G._--"Or young men who are so indifferent that they pretend to be
asleep when the young ladies come in!" They pause at the door and look
back again. "'And must I leave thee, Paradise?'" They both kiss their
hands to the car again, and their faces being very close together, they
impulsively kiss each other. Then Miss Galbraith throws back her head,
and solemnly confronts him. "Only think, Allen! If this car hadn't
broken _its_ engagement, we might never have mended ours."

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

  Various punctuation errors were corrected.

  P.18. 'lettting' changed to 'letting'.

  P.222. 'supicious' changed to 'suspicious'.

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Counterfeit Presentment and The Parlour Car" ***

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