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Title: Crusoe in New York, and other tales
Author: Hale, Edward Everett
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Crusoe in New York, and other tales" ***

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CRUSOE IN NEW YORK, AND OTHER TALES.


BY EDWARD E. HALE,

AUTHOR OF "THE MAN WITHOUT A COUNTRY," "IN HIS NAME," "TEN TIMES ONE IS
TEN," "HOW TO DO IT," "HIS LEVEL BEST," ETC.



BOSTON:
ROBERTS BROTHERS.
1880.



_Copyright_, 1880,

BY ROBERTS BROTHERS.



UNIVERSITY PRESS:
JOHN WILSON AND SON, CAMBRIDGE.



PREFACE.


So far as these little stories have met the public eye, they have
called forth criticism from two points of view. It is said, on the one
hand, that the moral protrudes too obviously; that if a preacher wants
to preach, he had better preach and be done with it; that, in the
nineteenth century, which is given to realism, nobody wants "invented
example," or stories written to enforce certain theories of right. It
is said, on the other hand, that the stories have no right to be,
because they have no purpose; that nobody can tell what the author is
driving at,--perhaps he cannot tell himself; and that, in the
nineteenth century, nobody has any right to thrust upon an exhausted
world stories which are not true unless they teach a lesson.

It was early settled for me by the critics, in my little experience as
a story-writer, that it is wrong for an author to make his stories
probable,--that he who does this is "a forger and a counterfeiter."
There is, however, high authority for teaching by parable--and that
parable which has a very great air of probability.

My limited experience as an editor has taught me, that, whatever else
people will read or will not read, they do read short stories, on the
whole, more than they read anything else,--nineteenth century to the
contrary notwithstanding.

Whether these little tales have any right to be or not, they exist. To
those who think they should have been cast in the shape of sermons, I
have only to say that there also exist already, in that form of
instructions, one thousand and ninety-six short essays by the same
author, to which number every week of his strength and health makes an
addition. These are open to the perusal or the hearing of any person
who is not "partial to stories," to use an expressive national dialect.
Some few even are for sale in print by the publishers of these tales.

The little book is dedicated, with the author's thanks, to those kind
readers who have followed his earlier stories, and have been so
tolerant that they were willing to ask for more.

MATUNUCK ON THE HILL, RHODE ISLAND,
  July 15, 1880.



CONTENTS.


CRUSOE IN NEW YORK

ALIF-LAILA

A CIVIL SERVANT

NICOLETTE AND AUCASSIN

THE LOST PALACE

THE WESTERN GINEVRA:
  BOUGHT
  SOLD
  CAUGHT AND TOLD

MAX KEESLER'S HORSE-CAR:
  THE PAINT-SHOP
  THE WOMAN BEGAN IT
  A LODGMENT MADE
  AN EXPERIMENT
  REGULAR WORK
  YOUR UNCLE
  THE END

THE MODERN PSYCHE



CRUSOE IN NEW YORK.


PART I.

I was born in the year 1842, in the city of New York, of a good family,
though not of that country, my father being a foreigner of Bremen, who
settled first in England. He got a good estate by merchandise, and
afterward lived at New York. But first he had married my mother, whose
relations were named Robinson--a very good family in her country--and
from them I was named.

My father died before I can remember--at least, I believe so. For,
although I sometimes figure to myself a grave, elderly man, thickset
and wearing a broad-brimmed hat, holding me between his knees and
advising me seriously, I cannot say really whether this were my father
or no; or, rather, whether this is really some one I remember or no.
For my mother, with whom I have lived alone much of my life, as the
reader will see, has talked to me of my father so much, and has
described him to me so faithfully, that I cannot tell but it is her
description of him that I recollect so easily. And so, as I say, I
cannot tell whether I remember him or no.

He never lost his German notions, and perhaps they gained in England
some new force as to the way in which boys should be bred. At least,
for myself, I know that he left to my mother strict charge that I
should be bound 'prentice to a carpenter as soon as I was turned of
fourteen. I have often heard her say that this was the last thing he
spoke to her of when he was dying; and, with the tears in her eyes, she
promised him it should be so. And though it cost her a world of
trouble--so changed were times and customs--to find an old-fashioned
master who would take me for an apprentice, she was as good as her
word.

I should like to tell the story of my apprenticeship, if I supposed the
reader cared as much about it as I do; but I must rather come to that
part of my life which is remarkable, than hold to that which is more
like the life of many other boys. My father's property was lost or was
wasted, I know not how, so that my poor mother had but a hard time of
it; and when I was just turned of twenty-one and was free of my
apprenticeship, she had but little to live upon but what I could bring
home, and what she could earn by her needle. This was no grief to me,
for I was fond of my trade, and I had learned it well. My old master
was fond of me, and would trust me with work of a good deal of
responsibility. I neither drank nor smoked, nor was I overfond of the
amusements which took up a good deal of the time of my fellow-workmen.
I was most pleased when, on pay-day, I could carry home to my mother
ten, fifteen, or even twenty dollars--could throw it into her lap, and
kiss her and make her kiss me.

"Here is the oil for the lamp, my darling," I would say; or, "Here is
the grease for the wheels"; or, "Now you must give me white sugar twice
a day." She was a good manager, and she made both ends meet very well.

I had no thought of leaving my master when my apprenticeship was over,
nor had he any thought of letting me go. We understood each other well,
he liked me and I liked him. He knew that he had in me one man who was
not afraid of work, as he would say, and who would not shirk it. And
so, indeed, he would often put me in charge of parties of workmen who
were much older than I was.

So it was that it happened, perhaps some months after I had become a
journeyman, that he told me to take a gang of men, whom he named, and
to go quite up-town in the city, to put a close wooden fence around a
vacant lot of land there. One of his regular employers had come to him,
to say that this lot of land was to be enclosed, and the work was to be
done by him. He had sent round the lumber, and he told me that I would
find it on the ground. He gave me, in writing, the general directions
by which the fence was ordered, and told me to use my best judgment in
carrying them out. "Only take care," said he, "that you do it as well
as if I was there myself. Do not be in a hurry, and be sure your work
stands."

I was well pleased to be left thus to my own judgment. I had no fear of
failing to do the job well, or of displeasing my old master or his
employer. If I had any doubts, they were about the men who were to work
under my lead, whom I did not rate at all equally; and, if I could have
had my pick, I should have thrown out some of the more sulky and lazy
of them, and should have chosen from the other hands. But youngsters
must not be choosers when they are on their first commissions.

I had my party well at work, with some laborers whom we had hired to
dig our post-holes, when a white-haired old man, with gold spectacles
and a broad-brimmed hat, alighted from a cab upon the sidewalk, watched
the men for a minute at their work, and then accosted me. I knew him
perfectly, though of course he did not remember me. He was, in fact, my
employer in this very job, for he was old Mark Henry, a Quaker
gentleman of Philadelphia, who was guardian of the infant heirs who
owned this block of land which we were enclosing. My master did all the
carpenter's work in the New York houses which Mark Henry or any of his
wards owned, and I had often seen him at the shop in consultation. I
turned to him and explained to him the plans for the work. We had
already some of the joists cut, which were to make the posts to our
fence. The old man measured them with his cane, and said he thought
they would not be long enough.

I explained to him that the fence was to be eight feet high, and that
these were quite long enough for that.

"I know," he said, "I know, my young friend, that my order was for a
fence eight feet high, but I do not think that will do."

With some surprise I showed him, by a "ten-foot pole," how high the
fence would come.

"Yes, my young friend, I see, I see. But I tell thee, every beggar's
brat in the ward will be over thy fence before it has been built a
week, and there will be I know not what devices of Satan carried on in
the inside. All the junk from the North River will be hidden there, and
I shall be in luck if some stolen trunk, nay, some dead man's body, is
not stowed away there. Ah, my young friend, if thee is ever unhappy
enough to own a vacant lot in the city, thee will know much that thee
does not know now of the exceeding sinfulness of sin. Thee will know of
trials of the spirit and of the temper that thee has never yet
experienced."

I said I thought this was probable, but I thought inwardly that I would
gladly be tried that way. The old man went on:--

"I said eight feet to friend Silas, but thee may say to him that I have
thought better of it, and that I have ordered thee to make the fence
ten feet high. Thee may say that I am now going to Philadelphia, but
that I will write to him my order when I arrive. Meanwhile thee will go
on with the fence as I bid thee."

And so the old man entered his cab again, and rode away.

I amused myself at his notion, for I knew very well that the
street-boys and other loafers would storm his ten-foot wall as readily
as they would have stormed the Malakoff or the Redan, had they supposed
there was anything to gain by doing it. I had, of course, to condemn
some of my posts, which were already cut, or to work them in to other
parts of the fence. My order for spruce boards was to be enlarged by
twenty per cent by the old man's direction, and this, as it happened,
led to a new arrangement of my piles of lumber on my vacant land.

And all this it was which set me to thinking that night, as I looked on
the work, that I might attempt another enterprise, which, as it proved,
lasted me for years, and which I am now going to describe.

I had worked diligently with the men to set up some fifty feet of the
fence where it parted us from an alley-way, for I wanted a chance to
dry some of the boards, which had just been hauled from a raft in the
North River. The truckmen had delivered them helter-skelter, and they
lay, still soaking, above each other on our vacant lot.

We turned all our force on this first piece of fence, and had so much
of it done that, by calling off the men just before sundown, I was able
to set up all the wet boards, each with one end resting on the fence
and the other on the ground, so that they took the air on both sides,
and would dry more quickly. Of course this left a long, dark tunnel
underneath.

As the other hands gathered up their tools and made ready to go, a
fellow named McLoughlin, who had gone out with one of the three months'
regiments not long before, said:--

"I would not be sorry to sleep there. I have slept in many a worse
place than that in Dixie"; and on that he went away, leaving me to make
some measurements which I needed the next day. But what he said rested
in my mind, and, as it happened, directed the next twelve years of my
life.

Why should not I live here? How often my mother had said that, if she
had only a house of her own, she should be perfectly happy! Why should
not we have a house of our own here, just as comfortable as if we had
gone a thousand miles out on the prairie to build it, and a great deal
nearer to the book-stores, to the good music, to her old friends, and
to my good wages? We had talked a thousand times of moving together to
Kansas, where I was to build a little hut for her, and we were to be
very happy together. But why not do as the minister had bidden us only
the last Sunday--seize on to-day, and take what Providence offered now?

I must acknowledge that the thought of paying any ground rent to old
Mr. Henry did not occur to me then--no, nor for years afterward. On the
other hand, all that I thought of was this,--that here was as good a
chance as there was in Kansas to live without rent, and that rent had
been, was still, and was likely to be my bugbear, unless I hit on some
such scheme as this for abating it.

The plan, to be short, filled my mind. There was nothing in the way of
house-building which I shrank from now, for, in learning my trade, I
had won my Aladdin's lamp, and I could build my mother a palace, if she
had needed one. Pleased with my fancy, before it was dark I had
explored my principality from every corner, and learned all its
capabilities.

The lot was an oblong, nearly three times as long as it was wide. On
the west side, which was one of the short sides, it faced what I will
call the Ninety-ninth Avenue, and on the south side, what I will call
Fernando Street, though really it was one of the cross-streets with
numbers. Running to the east it came to a narrow passage-way which had
been reserved for the accommodation of the rear of a church which
fronted on the street just north of us. Our back line was also the back
line of the yards of the houses on the same street, but on our
northeast corner the church ran back as far as the back line of both
houses and yards, and its high brick wall--nearly fifty feet high--took
the place there of the ten-foot brick wall, surmounted by bottle-glass,
which made their rear defence.

The moment my mind was turned to the matter, I saw that in the rear of
the church there was a corner, which lay warmly and pleasantly to the
southern and western sun, which was still out of eye-shot from the
street, pleasantly removed from the avenue passing, and only liable to
inspection, indeed, from the dwelling-houses on the opposite side of
our street,--houses which, at this moment, were not quite finished,
though they would be occupied soon.

If, therefore, I could hit on some way of screening my mother's castle
from them--for a castle I called it from the first moment, though it
was to be much more like a cottage--I need fear no observation from
other quarters; for the avenue was broad, and on the other side from us
there was a range of low, rambling buildings--an engine-house and a
long liquor-saloon were two--which had but one story. Most of them had
been built, I suppose, only to earn something for the land while it was
growing valuable. The church had no windows in the rear, and that
protected my castle--which was, indeed, still in the air--from all
observation on that side.

I told my mother nothing of all this when I went home. But I did tell
her that I had some calculations to make for my work, and that was
enough. She went on, sweet soul! without speaking a word, with her
knitting and her sewing, at her end of the table, only getting up to
throw a cloth over her parrot's cage when he was noisy; and I sat at my
end of the table, at work over my figures, as silent as if I had been
on a desert island.

Before bedtime I had quite satisfied myself with the plan of a very
pretty little house which would come quite within our space, our means,
and our shelter. There was a little passage which ran quite across from
east to west. On the church side of this there was my mother's kitchen,
which was to be what I fondly marked the "common-room." This was quite
long from east to west, and not more than half as long the other way.
But on the east side, where I could have no windows, I cut off, on its
whole width, a deep closet; and this proved a very fortunate thing
afterward, as you shall see. On the west side I made one large square
window, and there was, of course, a door into the passage.

On the south side of the passage I made three rooms, each narrow and
long. The two outside rooms I meant to light from the top. Whether I
would put any skylight into the room between them, I was not quite so
certain; I did not expect visitors in my new house, so I did not mark
it a "guest-room" in the plan. But I thought of it as a storeroom, and
as such, indeed, for many years we used it; though at last I found it
more convenient to cut a sky-light in the roof there also. But I am
getting before my story.

Before I had gone to bed that night I had made a careful estimate as to
how much lumber I should need, of different kinds, for my little house;
for I had, of course, no right to use my master's lumber nor Mr.
Henry's; nor had I any thought of doing so. I made out an estimate that
would be quite full, for shingles, for clapboards, white pine for my
floors and finish,--for I meant to make good a job of it if I made
any,--and for laths for the inside work. I made another list of the
locks, hinges, window furniture and other hardware I should need; but
for this I cared less, as I need not order them so soon. I could
scarcely refrain from showing my plan to my mother, so snug and
comfortable did it look already; but I had already determined that the
"city house" should be a present to her on her next birthday, and that
till then I would keep it a secret from her, as from all the world; so
I refrained.

The next morning I told my master what the old Quaker had directed
about the fence, and I took his order for the new lumber we should need
to raise the height as was proposed. At the same time I told him that
we were all annoyed at the need of carrying our tools back and forth,
and because we could only take the nails for one day's use; and that,
if he were willing, I had a mind to risk an old chest I had with the
nails in it and a few tools, which I thought I could so hide that the
wharf-rats and other loafers should not discover it. He told me to do
as I pleased, that he would risk the nails if I would risk my tools;
and so, by borrowing what we call a hand-cart for a few days, I was
able to take up my own little things to the lot without his asking any
other questions, or without exciting the curiosity of McLoughlin or any
other of the men. Of course, he would have sent up in the shop-wagon
anything we needed; but it was far out of the way, and nobody wanted to
drive the team back at night if we could do without. And so, as night
came on, I left the men at their work, and having loaded my hand-cart
with a small chest I had, I took that into the alley-way of which I
told you before, carried my box of tools into the corner between the
church and our fence, under the boards which we had set up to-day, and
covered it heavily, with McLoughlin's help, with joists and boards, so
that no light work would remove them, if, indeed, any wanderer of the
night suspected that the box was there. I took the hand-cart out into
the alley-way and chained it, first by the wheel and then by the
handle, in two staples which I drove there. I had another purpose in
this, as you shall see; but most of all, I wanted to test both the
police and the knavishness of the neighborhood, by seeing if the
hand-cart were there in the morning.

To my great joy it was, and to my greater joy it remained there
unmolested all the rest of the week in which we worked there. For my
master, who never came near us himself, increased our force for us on
the third day, so that at the end of the week, or Saturday night, the
job was nearly done, and well done, too.

On the third day I had taken the precaution to throw out in the inside
of our inclosure a sort of open fence, on which I could put the wet
boards to dry, which at first I had placed on our side fence. I told
McLoughlin, what was true enough, that the south sun was better for
them than the sun from the west. So I ran out what I may call a screen
thirty-five feet from the church, and parallel with it, on which I set
up these boards to dry, and to my great joy I saw that they would
wholly protect the roof of my little house from any observation from
the houses the other side of the way while the workmen were at work, or
even after they were inhabited.

There was not one of the workmen with me who had forethought enough or
care for our master's interest to ask whose boards those were which we
left there, or why we left them there. Indeed, they knew the next
Monday that I went up with Fergus, the Swede, to bring back such lumber
as we did not use, and none of them knew or cared how much we left
there.

For me, I was only eager to get to work, and that day seemed very long
to me. But that Monday afternoon I asked my master if I might have the
team again for my own use for an hour or so, to move some stuff of mine
and my mother's, and he gave it to me readily.

I had then only to drive up-town to a friendly lumberman's, where my
own stuff was already lying waiting for me to load up, with the
assistance of the workmen there, and to drive as quickly as I could
into the church alley. Here I looked around, and seeing a German who
looked as if he were only a day from Bremen, I made signs to him that
if he would help me I would give him a piece of scrip which I showed
him. The man had been long enough in the country to know that the scrip
was good for lager. He took hold manfully with me, and carried my
timbers and boards into the inclosure through a gap I made in the fence
for the purpose. I gave him his money, and he went away. As he went to
Minnesota the next day, he never mentioned to anybody the business he
had been engaged in.

Meanwhile, I had bought my hand-cart of the man who owned it. I left a
little pile of heavy cedar logs on the outside, spiking them to each
other, indeed, that they should not be easily moved. And to them and to
my posts I padlocked the hand-cart; nor was it ever disturbed during my
reign in those regions. So I had easy method enough when I wanted a
bundle or two of laths, or a bunch of shingles, or anything else for my
castle, to bring them up in the cool of the evening, and to discharge
my load without special observation. My pile of logs, indeed, grew
eventually into a blind or screen, which quite protected that corner of
the church alley from the view of any passer-by in Fernando Street.

Of that whole summer, happy and bright as it all was, I look back most
often on the first morning when I got fairly to work on my new home. I
told my mother that for some weeks I should have to start early, and
that she must not think of getting up for my breakfast. I told her that
there was extra work on a job up-town, and that I had promised to be
there at five every day while the summer lasted. She left for me a pot
of coffee, which I promised her I would warm when the time for
breakfast and dinner came; and for the rest, she always had my dinner
ready in my tin dinner-pail. Little did she know then, sweet saint!
that I was often at Fernando Street by half-past three in the first
sweet gray of those summer days.

On that particular day, it was really scarcely light enough for me to
find the nail I drew from the plank which I left for my entrance. When
I was fairly within and the plank was replaced, I felt that I was
indeed monarch of all I surveyed. What did I survey? The church wall on
the north; on the south, my own screen of spruce boards, now well dry;
on the east and west, the ten-foot fence which I had built myself; and
over there on the west, God's deep, transparent sky, in which I could
still see a planet whose name I did not know. It was a heaven, indeed,
which He had said was as much mine as his!

The first thing, of course, was to get out my frame. This was a work of
weeks. The next thing was to raise it. And here the first step was the
only hard one, nor was this so hard as it would seem. The highest wall
of my house was no higher than the ten-foot fence we had already built
on the church alley. The western wall, if, indeed, a frame house has
any walls, was only eight feet high. For foundations and sills, I dug
deep post-holes, in which I set substantial cedar posts which I knew
would outlast my day, and I framed my sills into these. I made the
frame of the western wall lie out upon the ground in one piece; and I
only needed a purchase high enough, and a block with repeating pulleys
strong enough, to be able to haul up the whole frame by my own
strength, unassisted. The high purchase I got readily enough by making
what we called a "three-leg," near twenty feet high, just where my
castle was to stand. I had no difficulty in hauling this into its place
by a solid staple and ring, which for this purpose I drove high in the
church wall. My multiplying pulley did the rest; and after it was done,
I took out the staple and mended the hole it had made, so the wall was
as good as ever.

You see it was nobody's business what shanty or what tower old Mark
Henry or the Fordyce heirs might or might not put on the vacant corner
lot. The Fordyce heirs were all in nurseries and kindergartens in
Geneva, and indeed would have known nothing of corner lots, had they
been living in their palace in Fourteenth Street. As for Mark Henry,
that one great achievement by which he rode up to Fernando Street was
one of the rare victories of his life, of which ninety-nine hundredths
were spent in counting-houses. Indeed, if he had gone there, all he
would have seen was his ten-foot fence, and he would have taken pride
to himself that he had it built so high.

When the day of the first raising came, and the frame slipped into the
mortises so nicely, as I had foreordained that it should do, I was so
happy that I could scarcely keep my secret from my mother. Indeed, that
day I did run back to dinner. And when she asked me what pleased me so,
I longed to let her know; but I only smoothed her cheeks with my hands,
and kissed her on both of them, and told her it was because she was so
handsome that I was so pleased. She said she knew I had a secret from
her, and I owned that I had, but she said she would not try to guess,
but would wait for the time for me to tell her.

And so the summer sped by. Of course I saw my sweetheart, as I then
called my mother, less and less. For I worked till it was pitch-dark at
the castle; and after it was closed in, so I could work inside, I often
worked till ten o'clock by candlelight. I do not know how I lived with
so little sleep; I am afraid I slept pretty late on Sundays. But the
castle grew and grew, and the common-room, which I was most eager to
finish wholly before cold weather, was in complete order three full
weeks before my mother's birthday came.

Then came the joy of furnishing it. To this I had looked forward all
the summer, and I had measured with my eye many a bit of furniture, and
priced, in an unaffected way, many an impossible second-hand finery, so
that I knew just what I could do and what I could not do.

My mother had always wanted a Banner stove. I knew this, and it was a
great grief to me that she had none, though she would never say
anything about it.

To my great joy, I found a second-hand Banner stove, No. 2, at a sort
of old junk-shop, which was, in fact, an old curiosity shop, not three
blocks away from Ninety-ninth Avenue. Some one had sold this to them
while it was really as good as new, and yet the keeper offered it to me
at half-price.

I hung round the place a good deal, and when the man found I really had
money and meant something, he took me into all sorts of alleys and
hiding-places, where he stored his old things away. I made fabulous
bargains there, for either the old Jew liked me particularly, or I
liked things that nobody else wanted. In the days when his principal
customers were wharf-rats, and his principal business the traffic in
old cordage and copper, he had hung out as a sign an old tavern-sign of
a ship that had come to him. His place still went by the name of "The
Ship," though it was really, as I say, a rambling, third-rate old
furniture shop of the old-curiosity kind.

But after I had safely carried the Banner to my new house, and was sure
the funnel drew well, and that the escape of smoke and sparks was
carefully guarded, many a visit did I make to The Ship at early morning
or late in the evening, to bring away one or another treasure which I
had discovered there.

Under the pretence of new-varnishing some of my mother's most precious
tables and her bureau, I got them away from her also. I knocked up,
with my own hatchet and saw, a sitting-table which I meant to have
permanent in the middle of the room, which was much more convenient
than anything I could buy or carry.

And so, on the 12th of October, the eve of my mother's birthday, the
common-room was all ready for her. In her own room I had a new carpet
and a new set of painted chamber furniture, which I had bought at the
maker's, and brought up piece by piece. It cost me nineteen dollars and
a half, for which I paid him in cash, which indeed he wanted sadly.

So, on the morning of the 13th of October, I kissed my mother forty
times, because that day she was forty years old. I told her that before
midnight she should know what the great surprise was, and I asked her
if she could hold out till then.

She let me poke as much fun at her as I chose, because she said she was
so glad to have me at breakfast; and I stayed long after breakfast, for
I had told my mother that it was her birthday, and that I should be
late. And such a thing as my asking for an hour or two was so rare that
I took it quite of course when I did ask. I came home early at night,
too. Then I said,--

"Now, sweetheart, the surprise requires that you spend the night away
from home with me. Perhaps, if you like the place, we will spend
to-morrow there. So I will take Poll in her cage, and you must put up
your night-things and take them in your hand."

She was surprised now, for such a thing as an outing over night had
never been spoken of before by either of us.

"Why, Rob," she said, "you are taking too much pains for your old
sweetheart, and spending too much money for her birthday. Now, don't
you think that you should really have as good a time, say, if we went
visiting together, and then came back here?"

For, you see, she never thought of herself at all; it was only what I
should like most.

"No, sweetheart dear," said I. "It is not for me, this 13th of October,
it is all for you. And to-night's outing is not for me, it is for you;
and I think you will like it and I think Poll will like it, and I have
leave for to-morrow, and we will stay away all to-morrow."

As for Tom-puss, I said, we would leave some milk where he could find
it, and I would leave a bone or two for him. But I whistled Rip, my
dog, after me. I took Poll's cage, my mother took her bag, and locked
and left her door, unconscious that she was never to enter it again.

A Ninety-ninth Avenue car took us up to Fernando Street. It was just
the close of twilight when we came there. I took my mother to Church
Alley, muttered something about some friends, which she did not
understand more than I did, and led her up the alley in her confused
surprise. Then I pushed aside my movable board, and, while she was
still surprised, led her in after me and slid it back again.

"What is it, dear Rob? Tell me--tell me!"

"This way, sweetheart, this way!" This was all I would say.

I drew her after me through the long passage, led her into the
common-room, which was just lighted up by the late evening twilight
coming in between the curtains of the great square window. Then I
fairly pushed her to the great, roomy easy-chair which I had brought
from The Ship, and placed it where she could look out on the evening
glow, and I said,--

"Mother, dear, this is the surprise; this is your new home; and, mother
dear, your own boy has made it with his own hands, all for you."

"But, Rob, I do not understand--I do not understand at all. I am so
stupid. I know I am awake. But it is as sudden as a dream!"

So I had to begin and to explain it all,--how here was a vacant lot
that Mark Henry had the care of, and how I had built this house for her
upon it. And long before I had explained it all, it was quite dark. And
I lighted up the pretty student's-lamp, and I made the fire in the new
Banner with my own hands.

And that night I would not let her lift a kettle, nor so much as cut a
loaf of bread. It was my feast, I said, and I had everything ready,
round to a loaf of birthday-cake which I had ordered at Taylor's, which
I had myself frosted and dressed, and decorated with the initials of my
mother's name.

And when the feast was over, I had the best surprise of all. Unknown to
my mother, I had begged from my Aunt Betsy my own father's portrait,
and I had hung that opposite the window, and now I drew the curtain
that hid it, and told my sweetheart that this and the house were her
birthday presents for this year!

       *       *       *       *       *

And this was the beginning of a happy life, which lasted nearly twelve
years. I could make a long story of it, for there was an adventure in
everything,--in the way we bought our milk, and the way we took in our
coals. But there is no room for me to tell all that, and it might not
interest other people as it does me. I am sure my mother was never
sorry for the bold step she took when we moved there from our tenement.
True, she saw little or no society, but she had not seen much before.
The conditions of our life were such that she did not like to be seen
coming out of Church Alley, lest people should ask how she got in, and
excepting in the evening, I did not care to have her go. In the evening
I could go with her. She did not make many calls, because she could not
ask people to return them. But she would go with me to concerts, and to
the church parlor meetings, and sometimes to exhibitions; and at such
places, and on Sundays, she would meet, perhaps, one or another of the
few friends she had in New York. But we cared for them less and less, I
will own, and we cared more and more for each other.

As soon as the first spring came, I made an immense effort, and spaded
over nearly half of the lot. It was ninety feet wide, and over two
hundred and sixty long--more than half an acre. So I knew we could have
our own fresh vegetables, even if we never went to market. My mother
was a good gardener, and she was not afraid even to hoe the corn when I
was out of the way. I dare say that the people whom the summer left in
the street above us often saw her from their back windows, but they did
not know--as how should they?--who had the charge of this lot, and
there was no reason why they should be surprised to see a cornfield
there. We only raised green corn. I am fond of Indian cake, but I did
not care to grind my own corn, and I could buy sweet meal without
trouble. I settled the milk question, after the first winter, by
keeping our own goats. I fenced in, with a wire fence, the northwest
corner of our little empire, and put there a milch goat and her two
kids. The kids were pretty little things, and would come and feed from
my mother's hand. We soon weaned them, so that we could milk their
mother; and after that our flock grew and multiplied, and we were never
again troubled for such little milk as we used.

Some old proprietor, in the old Dutch days, must have had an orchard in
these parts. There were still left two venerable wrecks of ancient
pear-trees; and although they bore little fruit, and what they bore was
good for nothing, they still gave a compact and grateful shade. I
sodded the ground around them, and made a seat beneath, where my mother
would sit with her knitting all the afternoon. Indeed, after the sods
grew firm, I planted hoops there, and many a good game of croquet have
she and I had together there, playing so late that we longed for the
chance they have in Sybaris, where, in the evening, they use balls of
colored glass, with fire-flies shut up inside.

On the 11th of February, in the year 1867, my old master died, to my
great regret, and I truly believe to that of his widow and her
children. His death broke up the establishment, and I, who was always
more of a cabinet-maker or joiner than carpenter or builder, opened a
little shop of my own, where I took orders for cupboards, drawers,
stairs, and other finishing work, and where I employed two or three
German journeymen, and was thus much more master of my own time. In
particular, I had two faithful fellows, natives of my own father's town
of Bremen. While they were with me, I could leave them a whole
afternoon at a time, while I took any little job there might be, and
worked at it at my own house at home. Where my house was, except that
it was far uptown, they never asked, nor ever, so far as I know, cared.
This gave me the chance for many a pleasant afternoon with my mother,
such as we had dreamed of in the old days when we talked of Kansas. I
would work at the lathe or the bench, and she would read to me. Or we
would put off the bench till the evening, and we would both go out into
the cornfield together.

And so we lived year after year. I am afraid that we worshipped each
other too much. We were in the heart of a crowded city, but there was
that in our lives which tended a little to habits of loneliness, and I
suppose a moralist would say that our dangers lay in that direction.

On the other hand, I am almost ashamed to say, that, as I sat in a seat
I had made for myself in old Van der Tromp's pear-tree, I would look
upon my corn and peas and squashes and tomatoes with a satisfaction
which I believe many a nobleman in England does not enjoy.

Till the youngest of the Fordyce heirs was of age, and that would not
be till 1880, this was all my own. I was, by right of possession and my
own labors, lord of all this region. How else did the writers on
political economy teach me that any property existed!

I surveyed it with a secret kind of pleasure. I had not abundance of
pears; what I had were poor and few. But I had abundance of sweet corn,
of tomatoes, of peas, and of beans. The tomatoes were as wholesome as
they were plentiful, and as I sat I could see the long shelves of them
which my mother had spread in the sun to ripen, that we might have
enough of them canned when winter should close in upon us. I knew I
should have potatoes enough of my own raising also to begin the winter
with. I should have been glad of more. But as by any good day's work I
could buy two barrels of potatoes, I did not fret myself that my stock
was but small.

Meanwhile my stock in bank grew fast. Neither my mother nor I had much
occasion to buy new clothes. We were at no charge for house-rent,
insurance, or taxes. I remember that a Spanish gentleman, who was fond
of me, for whom I had made a cabinet with secret drawers, paid me in
moidores and pieces-of-eight, which in those times of paper were a
sight to behold.

I carried home the little bag, and told my mother that this was a
birthday present for her; indeed, that she was to put it all in her bed
that night, that she might say she had rolled in gold and silver. She
played with the pieces, and we used them to count with, as we played
our game of cribbage.

"But really, Robin, boy," said she, "it is as the dirt under our feet.
I would give it all for three or four pairs of shoes and stockings,
such as we used to buy in York, but such as these Lynn-built shoes
and steam-knit stockings have driven out of the market."

Indeed, we wanted very little in our desert home.

And so for many years we led a happy life, and we found more in life
than would have been possible had we been all tangled up with the cords
of artificial society. I say "we," for I am sure I did, and I think my
dear mother did.

But it was in the seventh year of our residence in the hut that of a
sudden I had a terrible shock or fright, and this I must now describe
to you. It comes in about the middle of this history, and it may end
this chapter.

It was one Sunday afternoon, when I had taken the fancy, as I often did
of Sundays, to inspect my empire. Of course, in a certain way, I did
this every time I climbed old Van der Tromp's pear-tree, and sat in my
hawk's-nest there. But a tour of inspection was a different thing. I
walked close round the path which I had made next the fence of the
inclosure. I went in among my goats,--even entered the goat-house and
played with my kids. I tried the boards of the fence and the
timber-stays, to be sure they all were sound. I had paths enough
between the rows of corn and potatoes to make a journey of three miles
and half a furlong, with two rods more, if I went through the whole of
them. So at half-past four on this fatal afternoon I bade my mother
good-by, and kissed her. I told her I should not be back for two hours,
because I was going to inspect my empire, and I set out happily.

But in less than an hour--I can see the face of the clock now: it was
twenty-two minutes after five--I flung myself in my chair, panting for
breath, and, as my mother said, as pale as if I had seen a ghost. But I
told her it was worse than that.

I had come out from between two high rows of corn, which wholly covered
me, upon a little patch which lay warm to the south and west, where I
had some melons a-ripening, and was just lifting one of the melons, to
be sure that the under surface did not rot, when close behind it I saw
the print of a man's foot, which was very plain to be seen in the soft
soil.

I stood like one thunderstruck, or as if I had seen an apparition. I
listened; I looked round me. I could hear nothing but the roar of the
omnibuses, nor could I see anything. I went up and down the path, but
it was all one. I could see no other impression but that one. I went to
it again, to see if there were any more, and to observe if it might not
be my fancy. But there was no room for that, for there was exactly the
print of an Englishman's hobnailed shoe,--the heavy heel, the prints of
the heads of the nails. There was even a piece of patch which had been
put on it, though it had never been half-soled.

How it came there I knew not; neither could I in the least imagine.
But, as I say, like a man perfectly confused and out of myself, I
rushed home into my hut, not feeling the ground I went upon. I fled
into it like one pursued, and, as my mother said, when I fell into my
chair, panting, I looked as if I had seen a ghost.

It was worse than that, as I said to her.


PART II.

I cannot well tell you how much dismay this sight of a footprint in the
ground gave me, nor how many sleepless nights it cost me. All the time
I was trying to make my mother think that there was no ground for
anxiety, and yet all the time I was showing her that I was very
anxious. The more I pretended that I was not troubled, the more
absentminded, and so the more troubled, I appeared to her. And yet, if
I made no pretence, and told her what I really feared, I should have
driven her almost wild by the story of my terrors. To have our pretty
home broken up, perhaps to be put in the newspapers--which was a lot
that, so far, we had always escaped in our quiet and modest life--all
this was more than she or I could bear to think of.

In the midst of these cogitations, apprehensions, and reflections, it
came into my thoughts one day, as I was working at my shop down-town,
with my men, that all this might be a chimera of my own, and that the
foot might be the print of my own boot as I had left it in the soil
some days before when I was looking at my melons. This cheered me up a
little, too. I considered that I could by no means tell for certain
where I had trod and where I had not, and that if at last this was the
print of my own boot, I had played the part of those fools who strive
to make stories of spectres, and then are themselves frightened at them
more than anybody else.

So I returned home that day in very good spirits. I carried to my
mother a copy of Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, which had in it
some pictures that I knew would please her, and I talked with her, in
as light-hearted a way as I could, to try to make her think that I had
forgotten my alarm. And afterward we played two or three games of
Egyptian solitaire at the table, and I went to bed unusually early.
But, at the first break of day, when I fancied or hoped that she was
still asleep, I rose quickly, and half-dressing myself, crept out to
the melon-patch to examine again the imprint of the foot and to make
sure that it was mine.

Alas! it was no more mine than it was Queen Victoria's. If it had only
been cloven, I could easily have persuaded myself whose it was, so much
grief and trouble had it cost me. When I came to measure the mark with
my own boot, I found, just as I had seen before, that mine was not
nearly so large as this mark was. Also, this was, as I have said, the
mark of a heavy brogan--such as I never wore--and there was the mark of
a strange patch near the toe, such as I had never seen, nor, indeed,
have seen since, from that hour to this hour. All these things renewed
my terrors. I went home like a whipped dog, wholly certain now that
some one had found the secret of our home: we might be surprised in it
before I was aware; and what course to take for my security I knew not.

As we breakfasted, I opened my whole heart to my mother. If she said
so, I would carry all our little property, piece by piece, back to old
Thunberg, the junk-dealer, and with her parrot and my umbrella we would
go out to Kansas, as we used to propose. We would give up the game. Or,
if she thought best, we would stand on the defensive. I would put
bottle glass on the upper edges of the fences all the way round.

There were four or five odd revolvers at The Ship, and I would buy them
all, with powder and buckshot enough for a long siege. I would teach
her how to load, and while she loaded I would fire, till they had quite
enough of attacking us in our home. Now it has all gone by, I should be
ashamed to set down in writing the frightful contrivances I hatched for
destroying these "creatures," as I called them, or, at least,
frightening them, so as to prevent their coming thither any more.

"Robin, my boy," said my mother to me, when I gave her a chance at
last, "if they came in here to-night--whoever 'they' may be--very
little is the harm that they could do us. But if Mr. Kennedy and twenty
of his police should come in here over the bodies of--five times five
are twenty-five, twenty-five times eleven are--two hundred and
seventy-five people whom you will have killed by that time, if I load
as fast as thee tells me I can, why, Robin, my boy, it will go hard for
thee and me when the day of the assizes comes. They will put handcuffs
on thy poor old mother and on thee, and if they do not send thee to
Jack Ketch, they will send thee to Bloomingdale."

I could not but see that there was sense in what she said. Anyway, it
cooled me down for the time, and I kissed her and went to my work less
eager, and, indeed, less anxious, than I had been the night before. As
I went down-town in the car, I had a chance to ask myself what right I
had to take away the lives of these poor savages of the neighborhood
merely because they entered on my possessions. Was it their fault that
they had not been apprenticed to carpenters? Could they help themselves
in the arrangements which had left them savages? Had any one ever given
them a chance to fence in an up-town lot? Was it, in a word, I said to
myself--was it my merit or my good luck which made me as good as a
landed proprietor, while the Fordyce heirs had their education? Such
thoughts, before I came to my shop, had quite tamed me down, and when I
arrived there I was quite off my design, and I concluded that I had
taken a wrong measure in my resolution to attack the savages, as I had
begun to call men who might be merely harmless loafers.

It was clearly not my business to meddle with them unless they first
attacked me. This it was my business to prevent; if I were discovered
and attacked, then I knew my duty.

With these thoughts I went into my shop that day, and with such
thoughts as these, and with my mother's good sense in keeping me
employed in pleasanter things than hunting for traces of savages, I got
into a healthier way of thinking.

The crop of melons came in well, and many a good feast we had from
them. Once and again I was able to carry a nice fresh melon to an old
lady my mother was fond of, who now lay sick with a tertian ague.

Then we had the best sweet corn for dinner every day that any man had
in New York. For, at Delmonico's itself, the corn the grandees had had
been picked the night before, and had started at two o'clock in the
morning on its long journey to town. But my mother picked my corn just
at the minute when she knew I was leaving my shop. She husked it, and
put it in the pot, and, by the time I had come home, had slipped up the
board in the fence that served me for a door, and had washed my face
and hands in my own room, she would have dished her dinner, would have
put her fresh corn upon the table, covered with a pretty napkin; and
so, as I say, I had a feast which no nabob in New York had. No, indeed,
nor any king that I know of, unless it were the King of the Sandwich
Islands, and I doubt if he were as well served as I.

So I became more calm and less careworn, though I will not say but
sometimes I did look carefully to see if I could find the traces of a
man's foot; but I never saw another.

Unless we went out somewhere during the evening we went to bed early.
We rose early as well, for I never lost the habits of my
apprenticeship. And so it happened that we were both sound asleep in
bed one night, when a strange thing happened, and a sudden fright came
to us, of which I must tell quite at length, for it made, indeed, a
very sudden change in the current of our lives.

I was sound asleep, as I said, and so, I found, was my mother also. But
I must have been partly waked by some sudden noise in the street, for I
knew I was sitting up in my bed, in the darkness, when I heard a woman
scream,--a terrible cry,--and while I was yet startled, I heard her
scream again, as if she were in deadly fear. My window was shaded by a
heavy green curtain, but in an instant I had pulled it up, and, by the
light of the moon, I seized my trousers and put them on.

I was well awake by this time, and when I flung open the door of my
house, so as to run into my garden, I could hear many wild voices, some
in English, some in German, some in Irish, and some with terrible
cries, which I will not pretend I could understand.

There was no cry of a woman now, but only the howling of angry or
drunken men, when they are in a rage with some one or with each other.
What startled me was that, whereas the woman's cry came from the street
south of me, which I have called Fernando Street, the whole crowd of
men, as they howled and swore, were passing along that street rapidly,
and then stopped for an instant, as if they were coming up what I
called Church Alley. There must have been seven or eight of them.

Now, it was by Church Alley that my mother and I always came into our
house, and so into our garden. In the eight years, or nearly so, that I
had lived there, I had by degrees accumulated more and more rubbish
near the furthest end of the alley as a screen, so to speak, that when
my mother or I came in or out, no one in the street might notice us. I
had even made a little wing-fence, out from my own, to which my
hand-cart was chained. Next this I had piled broken brickbats and
paving-stones, and other heavy things, that would not be stolen. There
was the stump and the root of an old pear-tree there, too heavy to
steal, and too crooked and hard to clean or saw. There was a bit of
curbstone from the street, and other such trash, which quite masked the
fence and the hand-cart.

On the other side--that is, the church side, or the side furthest from
the street--was the sliding-board in the fence, where my mother and I
came in. So soon as it was slid back, no man could see that the fence
was not solid.

At this moment in the night, however, when I found that this riotous,
drunken crew were pausing at the entrance of Church Alley, as doubting
if they would not come down, I ran back through the passage knocking
loudly for my mother as I passed, and, coming to my coal-bin, put my
eye at the little hole through which I always reconnoitred before I
slid the door. I could see nothing, nor at night ought I to have
expected to do so.

But I could hear, and I heard what I did not expect. I could hear the
heavy panting of one who had been running, and as I listened I heard a
gentle low voice sob out, "Ach, ach, mein Gott! Ach, mein Gott!" or
words that I thought were these, and I was conscious, when I tried to
move the door, that some one was resting close upon it.

All the same, I put my shoulder stoutly to the cross-bar, to which the
boards of the door were nailed; I slid it quickly in its grooves, and
as it slid, a woman fell into the passage.

She was wholly surprised by the motion, so that she could not but fall.
I seized her and dragged her in, saying, "Hush, hush, hush!" as I did
so. But not so quick was I but that she screamed once more as I drew to
the sliding-door and thrust in the heavy bolt which held it.

In an instant my mother was in the passage, with a light in her hand.
In another instant I had seized the light and put it out. But that
instant was enough for her and me to see that here was a lovely girl,
with no hat or bonnet on, with her hair floating wildly, both her arms
bleeding, and her clothes all stained with blood. She could see my
mother's face of amazement, and she could see my finger on my mouth, as
with the other I dashed out the candle. We all thought quickly, and we
all knew that we must keep still.

But that unfortunate scream of hers was enough. Though no one of us all
uttered another sound, this was like a "view-halloo," to bring all
those dogs down upon us. The passage was dark, and, to my delight, I
heard some of them breaking their shins over the curbstone and old
pear-tree of my defences. But they were not such hounds as were easily
thrown off the scent, and there were enough to persevere while the
leaders picked themselves up again.

Then how they swore and cursed and asked questions! And we three stood
as still as so many frightened rabbits. In an instant more, one of
them, who spoke in English, said he would be hanged if he thought she
had gone into the church, that he believed she had got through the
fence; and then, with his fist, or something harder, he began trying
the boards on our side, and others of them we could hear striking those
on the other side of the alley-way.

When it came to this, I whispered to my mother that she must never
fear, only keep perfectly still. She dragged the frightened girl into
our kitchen, which was our sitting-room, and they both fell, I know not
how, into the great easy-chair.

For my part, I seized the light ladder, which always hung ready at the
door, and ran with it at my full speed to the corner of Fernando Street
and the alley. I planted the ladder, and was on the top of the fence in
an instant.

Then I sprang my watchman's rattle, which had hung by the ladder, and I
whirled it round well. It wholly silenced the sound of the swearing
fellows up the passage, and their pounding. When I found they were
still, I cried out:--

"This way, 24! this way, 47! I have them all penned up here! Signal the
office, 42, and bid them send us a sergeant. This way, fellows--up
Church Alley!"

With this I was down my ladder again. But my gang of savages needed no
more. I could hear them rushing out of the alley as fast as they might,
not one of them waiting for 24 or 47. This was lucky for me, for as it
happened I was ten minutes older before I heard two patrolmen on the
outside, wondering what frightened old cove had been at the pains to
spring a rattle.

The moonlight shone in at the western window of the kitchen, so that as
I came in I could just make out the figure of my mother, and of the
girl, lying, rather than sitting, in her lap and her arms. I was not
afraid to speak now, and I told my mother we were quite safe again, and
she told the poor girl so. I struck a match and lighted the lamp as
soon as I could. The poor, frightened creature started as I did so, and
then fell on her knees at my mother's feet, took both her hands in her
own, and seemed like one who begs for mercy, or, indeed, for life.

My poor, dear mother was all amazed, and her eyes were running with
tears at the sight of the poor thing's terror. She kissed her again and
again; she stroked her beautiful golden hair with her soft hands; she
said in every word that she could think of that she was quite safe now,
and must not think of being frightened any more.

But it was clear in a moment that the girl could not understand any
language that we could speak. My mother tried her with a few words of
German, and she smiled then; but she shook her head prettily, as if to
say that she thanked her, but could not speak to her in that way
either. Then she spoke eagerly in some language that we could not
understand. But had it been the language of Hottentots, we should have
known that she was begging my mother not to forsake her, so full of
entreaty was every word and every gesture.

My dear, sweet mother lifted her at last into the easy-chair and made
her lie there while she dipped some hot water from her boiler and
filled a large basin in her sink. Then she led the pretty creature to
it, and washed from her arms, hands, and face the blood that had
hardened upon them, and looked carefully to find what her wounds were.
None of them were deep, though there were ugly scratches on her
beautiful arms; they were cut by glass, as I guessed then, and as we
learned from her afterward. My mother was wholly prepared for all such
surgery as was needed here; she put on two bandages where she thought
they were needed, she plastered up the other scratches with
court-plaster, and then, as if the girl understood her, she said to
her, "And now, my dear child, you must come to bed; there is no danger
for you more."

The poor girl had grown somewhat reassured in the comfortable little
kitchen, but her terror seemed to come back at any sign of removal; she
started to her feet, almost as if she were a wild creature. But I would
defy any one to be afraid of my dear mother, or indeed to refuse to do
what she bade, when she smiled so in her inviting way and put out her
hand; and so the girl went with her, bowing to me, or dropping a sort
of courtesy in her foreign fashion, as she went out of the door, and I
was left to see what damage had been done to my castle by the savages,
as I called them.

I had sprung the rattle none too soon; for one of these rascals, as it
proved--I suppose it was the same who swore that she had not gone into
the church--with some tool or other he had in his hand, had split out a
bit of the fence and had pried out a part of a plank. I had done my
work too well for any large piece to give way. But the moment I looked
into my coal-bin I saw that something was amiss. I did not like very
well to go to the outside, but I must risk something; so I took out a
dark lantern which I always kept ready. Sure enough, as I say, the
fellow had struck so hard and so well that he had split out a piece of
board, and a little coal even had fallen upon the passage-way. I was
not much displeased at this, for if he thought no nearer the truth than
that he had broken into a coal-bin of the church, why, he was far
enough from his mark for me. After finding this, however, I was anxious
enough, lest any of them should return, not to go to bed again that
night; but all was still as death, and, to tell the truth, I fell
asleep in my chair. I doubt whether my mother slept, or her frightened
charge.

I was at work in the passage early the next morning with some
weather-stained boards I had, and before nine o'clock I had doubled all
that piece of fence, from my wing where my hand-cart was to the church,
and I had spiked the new boards on, which looked like old boards, as I
said, with tenpenny nails; so that he would be a stout burglar who
would cut through them unless he had tools for his purpose and daylight
to work by. As I was gathering up my tools to go in, a coarse,
brutal-looking Irishman came walking up the alley and looked round. My
work was so well done, and I had been so careful to leave no chips,
that even then he could not have guessed that I had been building the
fence anew, though I fancied he looked at it. He seemed to want to
excuse himself for being there at all, and asked me, with an oath and
in a broad Irish brogue, if there were no other passage through. I had
the presence of mind to say in German, "_Wollen sie sprechen Deutsch?_"
and so made as if I could not understand him; and then, kneeling on the
cellar-door of the church, pretended to put a key into the lock, as if
I were making sure that I had made it firm.

And with that, he turned round with another oath, as if he had come out
of his way, and went out of the alley, closely followed by me. I
watched him as long as I dared, but as he showed no sign of going back
to the alley, I at last walked round a square with my tools, and so
came back to my mother and the pretty stranger.

My mother had been trying to get at her story. She made her understand
a few words of German, but they talked by signs and smiles and tears
and kisses much more than by words; and by this time they understood
each other so well that my mother had persuaded her not to go away that
day.

Nor did she go out for many days after; I will go before my story far
enough to say that. She had, indeed, been horribly frightened that
night, and she was as loath to go out again into the streets of New
York as I should be to plunge from a safe shore into some terrible,
howling ocean; or, indeed, as one who found himself safe at home would
be to trust himself to the tender mercies of a tribe of cannibals.

Two such loving women as they were were not long in building up a
language, especially as my mother had learned from my father and his
friends, in her early life, some of the common words of German--what
she called a bread-and-butter German. For our new inmate was a Swedish
girl. Her story, in short, was this:--

She had been in New York but two days. On the voyage over, they had had
some terrible sickness on the vessel, and the poor child's mother had
died very suddenly and had been buried in the sea. Her father had died
long before.

This was, as you may think, a terrible shock to her. But she had hoped
and hoped for the voyage to come to an end, because there was a certain
brother of hers in America whom they were to meet at their landing, and
though she was very lonely on the packet-ship, in which she and her
mother and a certain family of the name of Hantsen--of whom she had
much to say--were the only Swedes, still she expected to find the
brother almost as soon, as I may say, as they saw the land.

She felt badly enough that he did not come on board with the quarantine
officer. When the passengers were brought to Castle Garden, and no
brother came, she felt worse. However, with the help of the clerks
there, she got off a letter to him, somewhere in Jersey, and proposed
to wait as long as they would let her, till he should come.

The second day there came a man to the Garden, who said he was a Dane,
but he spoke Swedish well enough. He said her brother was sick, and had
sent him to find her. She was to come with her trunks, and her
mother's, and all their affairs, to his house, and the same afternoon
they should go to where the brother was.

Without doubt or fear she went with this man, and spent the day at a
forlorn sort of hotel which she described, but which I never could find
again. Toward night the man came again, and bade her take a bag, with
her own change of dress, and come with him to her brother.

After a long ride through the city, they got out at a house which,
thank God! was only one block from Fernando Street. And there this
simple, innocent creature, as she went in, asked where her brother was,
to meet only a burst of laughter from one or two coarse-looking men,
and from half-a-dozen brazen-faced girls, whom she hated, she said, the
minute she saw them.

Except that an old woman took off her shawl and cloak and bonnet, and
took away from her the travelling things she had in her hand, nobody
took any care of her but to laugh at her, and mock her if she dared say
anything.

She tried to go out to the door to find even the Dane who had brought
her there, but she was given to understand that he was coming again for
her, and that she must wait till he came. As for her brother, there was
no brother there, nor had been any. The poor girl had been trapped, and
saw that she had been trapped; she had been spirited away from
everybody who ever heard of her mother, and was in the clutches, as she
said to my mother afterward, of a crew of devils who knew nothing of
love or of mercy.

They did try to make her eat and drink--tried to make her drink
champagne, or any other wine; but they had no fool to deal with. The
girl did not, I think, let her captors know how desperate were her
resolutions. But her eyes were wide open, and she was not going to lose
any chance. She was all on the alert for her escape when, at eleven
o'clock, the Dane came at last whom she had been expecting so
anxiously.

The girl asked him for her brother, only to be put off by one excuse or
another, and then to hear from him the most loathsome talk of his
admiration, not to say his passion, for her.

They were nearly alone by this time, and he led her unresisting, as he
thought, into another smaller room, brilliantly lighted, and, as she
saw in a glance, gaudily furnished, with wine and fruit and cake on a
side-table,--a room where they would be quite alone.

She walked simply across and looked at herself in the great mirror.
Then she made some foolish little speech about her hair, and how pale
she looked. Then she crossed to the sofa, and sat upon it with as tired
an air as he might have expected of one who had lived through such a
day. Then she looked up at him, and even smiled upon him, she said, and
asked him if he would not ask them for some cold water.

The fellow turned into the passage-way, well pleased with her
submission, and in the same instant the girl was at the window as if
she had flown across the room.

Fool! The window was made fast, not by any moving bolt, either. It was
nailed down, and it did not give a hair's-breadth to her hand.

Little cared she for that. She sat on the window-seat, which was broad
enough to hold her; she braced her feet against the foot of the
bedstead, which stood just near enough to her; she turned enough to
bring her shoulder against the window-sash, and then with her whole
force she heaved herself against the sash, and the entire window, of
course, gave way.

The girl caught herself upon the blind, which swung open before her.
She pulled herself free from the sill and window-seat, and dropped
fearless into the street.

The fall was not long. She lighted on her feet, and ran as only fear
could teach her to run. Where to, she knew not; but she thought she
turned a corner before she heard any voices from behind.

Still she ran. And it was when she came to the corner of the next
street that she heard for the first time the screams of pursuers.

She turned again, like a poor hunted hare as she was. But what was her
running to theirs? She was passing our long fence in Fernando Street,
and then for the first time she screamed for help.

It was that scream which waked me.

She saw the steeple of the church. She had a dim feeling that a church
would be an asylum. So was it that she ran up our alley, to find that
she was in a trap there.

And then it was that she fell against my door, that she cried twice,
"Oh, my God! Oh, my God!" and that the good God who had heard her sent
me to draw her in.

We had to learn her language, in a fashion, and she to learn ours,
before we understood her story in this way. But at the very first my
mother made out that the girl had fled from savages who meant worse
than death for her. So she understood why she was so frightened at
every sound, and why at first she was afraid to stay with us, yet more
afraid to go.

But this passed off in a day or two. She took to my mother with a sort
of eager way which showed how she must have loved her own mother, and
how much she lost when she lost her. And that was one of the parts of
her sad story that we understood.

No one, I think, could help loving my mother; but here was a poor,
storm-tossed creature, who, I might say, had nothing else to love,
seeing she had lost all trace of this brother, and here was my mother,
soothing her, comforting her, dressing her wounds for her, trying to
make her feel that God's world was not all wickedness; and the girl in
return poured out her whole heart.

When my mother explained to her that she should not let her go away
till her brother was found, then for the first time she seemed
perfectly happy. She was indeed the loveliest creature I ever put my
eyes on.

She was then about nineteen years old, of a delicate complexion
naturally, which was now a little browned by the sea-air. She was
rather tall than otherwise, but her figure was so graceful that I think
you never thought her tall. Her eyes were perhaps deep-set, and of that
strange gray which I have heard it said the goddesses in the Greek
poetry had. Still, when she was sad, one saw the less of all this. It
was not till she forgot her grief for the instant in the certainty that
she might rest with my mother, so that her whole face blazed with joy,
that I first knew what the perfect beauty of a perfect woman was.

Her name, it seemed, was Frida,--a name made from the name of one of
the old goddesses among the Northmen, the same from whom our day Friday
is named. She is the half-sister of Thor, from whom Thursday is named,
and the daughter of Odin, from whom Wednesday is named.

I knew little of all this then, but I did not wonder when I read
afterward that this northern goddess was the Goddess of Love, the
friend of song, the most beautiful of all their divinities,--queen of
spring and light and everything lovely.

But surely never any one took fewer of the airs of a goddess than our
Frida did while she was with us. She would watch my mother, as if
afraid that she should put her hand to a gridiron or a tin dipper. She
gave her to understand, in a thousand pretty ways, that she should be
her faithful, loving, and sincere servant. If she would only show her
what to do, she would work for her as a child that loved her. And so
indeed she did. My dear mother would laugh and say she was quite a fine
lady now, for Frida would not let her touch broom nor mop, skimmer nor
dusting-cloth.

The girl would do anything but go out upon an errand. She could not
bear to see the other side of the fence. What she thought of it all I
do not know. Whether she thought it was the custom in America for young
men to live shut up with their mothers in inclosures of half an acre
square, or whether she thought we two made some peculiar religious
order, whose rules provided that one woman and one man should live
together in a convent or monastery of their own, or whether she
supposed half New York was made up, as Marco Polo found Pekin, of
cottages or of gardens, I did not know, nor did I much care. I could
see that here was provided a companion for my mother, who was else so
lonely, and I very soon found that she was as much a companion for me.

So soon as we could understand her at all, I took the name of her
brother and his address. When he wrote last he was tending a saw-mill
at a place about seven miles away from Tuckahoe, in Jersey. But he said
he was going to leave there at once, so that they need not write there.
He sent the money for their passage, and promised, as I said, to meet
them at New York.

This was a poor clew at the best. But I put a good face on it, and
promised her I would find him if he could be found. And I spared no
pains. I wrote to the postmaster at Tuckahoe, and to a minister I heard
of there. I inquired of the Swedish consuls in New York and
Philadelphia. Indeed, in the end, I went to Tuckahoe myself, with her,
to inquire. But this was long after. However, I may say here, once for
all, to use an old phrase of my mother's, we never found "hide nor
hair" of him. And although this grieved Frida, of course, yet it came
on her gradually, and, as she had never seen him to remember him, it
was not the same loss as if they had grown up together.

Meanwhile that first winter was, I thought, the pleasantest I had ever
known in my life. I did not have to work very hard now, for my business
was rather the laying out work for my men, and sometimes a nice job
which needed my hand on my lathe at home, or in some other delicate
affair that I could bring home with me.

We were teaching Frida English, my mother and I, and she and I made a
great frolic of her teaching me Swedish. I would bring home Swedish
newspapers and stories for her, and we would puzzle them out
together,--she as much troubled to find the English word as I to find
out the Swedish. Then she sang like a bird, when she was about her
household work, or when she sat sewing for my mother, and she had not
lived with us a fortnight before she began to join us on Sunday
evenings in the choruses of the Methodist hymns which my mother and I
sang together. So then we made her sing Swedish hymns to us. And,
before she knew it, the great tears would brim over her deep eyes, and
would run down in pearls upon her cheek. Nothing set her to thinking of
her old home as those Sunday evenings did. Of a Sunday evening we could
make her go out with us to church sometimes. Not but then she would
half cover her face with a vail, so afraid was she that we might meet
the Dane. But I told her that the last place we should find him at
would be at church on Sunday evening.

I have come far in advance of my story, that I might make any one who
reads this life of mine to understand how naturally and simply this
poor lost bird nestled down into our quiet life, and how the house that
was built for two proved big enough for three. For I made some new
purchases now, and fitted up the little middle chamber for Frida's own
use. We had called it the "spare chamber" before, in joke. But now my
mother fitted pretty curtains to it, and other hangings, without
Frida's knowledge. I had a square of carpet made up at the warehouse
for the middle of the floor, and, by making her do one errand and
another in the corner of the garden, one pleasant afternoon in
November, we had it all prettily fitted up for her room before she knew
it. And a great gala we made of it when she came in from gathering the
seeds of the calystegia, which she had been sent for.

She looked like a northern Flora, as she came in, with her arms all
festooned by the vines she had been pulling down. And when my mother
made her come out to the door she had never seen opened before, and led
her in, and told her that this pretty chamber was all her own, the
pretty creature flushed crimson red at first, and then her quick tears
ran over, and she fell on my mother's neck, and kissed her as if she
would never be done. And then she timidly held her hand out to me, too,
as I stood in the doorway, and said, in her slow, careful English,--

"And you, too--and you, too. I must tank you both, also, especially.
You are so good--so good to de poor lost girl!" That was a very happy
evening.

But, as I say, I have gone ahead of my story. For before we had these
quiet evenings we were fated to have many anxious ones and one stormy
one.

The very first day that Frida was with us, I felt sure that the savages
would make another descent upon us. They had heard her scream, that was
certain. They knew she had not passed them, that was certain. They knew
there was a coal-bin on the other side of our fence, that was certain.
They would have reason enough for being afraid to have her at large,
if, indeed, there were no worse passion than fear driving some of them
in pursuit of her. I could not keep out of my mind the beastly look of
the Irishman, who asked me, with such an ugly leer on his face, if
there were no passage through. Not that I told either of the two women
of my fears. But, all the same, I did not undress myself for a week,
and sat in the great easy-chair in our kitchen through the whole of
every night, waiting for the least sound of alarm.

Next to the savages, I had always lived in fear of being discovered in
my retreat by the police, who would certainly think it strange to find
a man and his mother living in a shed, without any practicable outside
door, in what they called a vacant lot.

But I have read of weak nations in history which were fain to call upon
one neighbor whom they did not like, to protect them against another
whom they liked less. I made up my mind, in like wise, to go round to
the police-station nearest me.

And so, having dressed myself in my black coat, and put on a round hat
and gloves, I bought me a Malacca walking-stick, such as was then in
fashion, and called upon the captain in style. I told him I lived next
the church, and that, on such and such a night, there was a regular row
among roughs, and that several of them went storming up the alley in a
crowd. I said, "Although your men were there as quick as they could
come, these fellows had all gone before they came." But then I
explained that I had seen a fellow hanging about the alley in the
daytime, who seemed to be there for no good; that there was a hand-cart
kept there by a workman, who seemed to be an honest fellow, and,
perhaps, all they wanted was to steal that; that, if I could, I would
warn him. But, meanwhile, I said, I had come round to the station to
give the warning of my suspicions, that, if my rattle was heard again,
the patrolmen might know what was in the wind.

The captain was a good deal impressed by my make-up and by the ease of
my manner. He affected to be perfectly well acquainted with me,
although we had never happened to meet at the Century Club or at the
Union League. I confirmed the favorable impression I had made by
leaving my card which I had had handsomely engraved: "MR. ROBINSON
CRUSOE." With my pencil I added my down-town address, where, I said, a
note or telegram would find me.

I was not a day too soon with my visit to this gentleman. That very
night, after my mother and Frida had gone to bed, as I sat in my
easy-chair, there came over me one of those strange intimations which I
have never found it safe to disregard. Sometimes it is of good, and
sometimes of bad. This time it made me certain that all was not well.
To relieve my fears I lifted my ladder over the wall, and dropped it in
the alley. I swung myself down, and carried it to the very end of the
alley, to the place where I had dragged poor Frida in. The moon fell on
the fence opposite ours. My wing-fence and hand-cart were all in shade.
But everything was safe there.

Again I chided myself for my fears, when, as I looked up the alley to
the street, I saw a group of four men come in stealthily. They said not
a word, but I could make out their forms distinctly against the houses
opposite.

I was caught in my own trap!

Not quite! They had not seen me, for I was wholly in shadow. I stepped
quickly in at my own slide. I pushed it back and bolted it securely,
and with my heart in my mouth, I waited at my hole of observation. In a
minute more they were close around me, though they did not suspect I
was so near.

They, also, had a dark-lantern, and, I thought, more than one. They
spoke in low tones; but, as they had no thought they had a hearer quite
so near, I could hear all they said.

"I tell you it was this side, and this is the side I heard their deuced
psalm-singing, day before yesterday."

"What if he did hear psalm-singing? Are you going to break into a man's
garden because he sings psalms? I came here to find out where the girl
went to; and now you talk of psalm-singing and coal-bins." This from
another, whose English was poor, and in whom I fancied I heard the
Dane. It was clear enough that he spoke sense, and a sort of doubt fell
on the whole crew; but speaker No. 1, with a heavy crowbar he had,
smashes into my pine wall, as I have a right to call it now, with a
force which made the splinters fly.

"I should think we were all at Niblo's," said a man of slighter build,
"and that we were playing Humpty Dumpty. Because a girl flew out of a
window, you think a fence opened to take her in. Why should she not go
through a door?" and he kicked with his foot upon the heavy sloping
cellar-door of the church, which just rose a little from the pavement.
It was the doorway which they used there when they took in their supply
of coal. The moon fell full on one side of it. To my surprise it was
loose and gave way.

"Here is where the girl flew to, and here is where Bully Bigg, the
donkey, let her slip out of his fingers. I knew he was a fool, but I
did not know he was such a fool," said the Dane (if he were the Dane).

I will not pretend to write down the oaths and foul words which came in
between every two of the words I have repeated.

"Fool yourself!" replied the Bully; "and what sort of a fool is the man
who comes up a blind alley, looking after a girl that will not kiss him
when he bids her?"

"Anyway," put in another of the crew, who had just now lifted the heavy
cellar-door, "other people may find it handy to hop down here when the
'beaks' are too near them. It's a handy place to know of, in a dark
night, if the dear deacons do choose to keep it open for a poor
psalm-singing tramp, who has no chance at the station-house. Here,
Lopp, you are the tallest--jump in and tell us what is there"; and at
this moment the Dane caught sight of my unfortunate ladder, lying full
in the moonlight. I could see him seize it, and run to the doorway with
it, with a deep laugh, and some phrase of his own country talk, which I
did not understand.

"The deacons are very good," said the savage who had lifted the
cellar-door. "They make everything handy for us poor fellows."

And though he had not planted the ladder, he was the first to run down,
and called for the rest to follow. The Dane was second, Lopp was third,
and "The Bully," as the big rascal seemed to be called by distinction,
was the fourth.

I saw him disappear from my view, with a mixture of wonder and terror
which I will not describe. I seized my light overcoat, which always
hung in the passage. I flung open my sliding-door, and shut it again
behind me. I looked into the black of the cellar to see the reflections
from their distant lanterns, and, without a sound, I drew up my ladder.
Then I ran to the head of the alley, and sounded my rattle as I would
have sounded the trumpet for a charge in battle. The officers joined me
in one moment.

"I am the man who spoke to the captain about these rowdies. Four of
them are in the cellar of the church yonder now."

"Do you know who?"

"One they called Lopp, and one they called Bully Bigg," said I. "I do
not know the others' names."

The officers were enraptured.

I led them, and two other patrolmen who joined us, to the shelter of my
wing-wall. In a few minutes the head of the Dane appeared, as he was
lifted from below. With an effort and three or four oaths, he struggled
out upon the ground, to be seized and gagged the moment he stepped
back. With varying fortunes, Bigg and Lopp emerged, and were seized and
handcuffed in turn. The fourth surrendered on being summoned.

What followed comes into the line of daily life and the morning
newspaper so regularly that I need not describe it. Against the Dane it
proved that endless warrants could be brought immediately. His lair of
stolen baggage and other property was unearthed, and countless
sufferers claimed their own. I was able to recover Frida's and her
mother's possessions--the locks on the trunks still unbroken. The Dane
himself would have been sent to the Island on I know not how many
charges, but that the Danish minister asked for him that he might be
hanged in Denmark, and he was sent and hanged accordingly.

Lopp was sent to Sing-Sing for ten years, and has not yet been
pardoned.

Bigg and Cordon were sent to Blackwell's Island for three years each.
And so the land had peace for that time.

       *       *       *       *       *

That winter, as there came on one and another idle alarm that Frida's
brother might be heard from, my heart sank with the lowest terror lest
she should go away. And in the spring I told her that if she went away
I was sure I should die. And the dear girl looked down, and looked up,
and said she thought--she thought she should, too. And we told my
mother that we had determined that Frida should never go away while we
stayed there. And she approved.

So I wrote a note to the minister of the church which had protected us
so long, and one night we slid the board carefully, and all three
walked round, fearless of the Dane, and Frida and I were married.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was more than three years after, when I received, by one post, three
letters, which gave us great ground for consultation. The first was
from my old friend and patron, the Spaniard. He wrote to me from
Chicago, where he, in his turn, had fallen in with a crew of savages,
who had stripped him of all he had, under the pretext of a
land-enterprise they engaged him in, and had left him without a real,
as he said. He wanted to know if I could not find him some clerkship,
or even some place as janitor, in New York.

The second letter was from old Mr. Henry in Philadelphia, who had
always employed me after my old master's death. He said that the fence
around the lot in Ninety-ninth Avenue might need some repairs, and he
wished I would look at it. He was growing old, he said, and he did not
care to come to New York. But the Fordyce heirs would spend ten years
in Europe.

The third letter was from Tom Grinnell.

I wrote to Mr. Henry that I thought he had better let me knock up a
little office, where a keeper might sleep, if necessary; that there was
some stuff with which I could put up such an office, and that I had an
old friend, a Spaniard, who was an honest fellow, and if he might have
his bed in the office, would take gratefully whatever his services to
the estate proved worth. He wrote me by the next day's mail that I
might engage the Spaniard and finish the office. So I wrote to the
Spaniard and got a letter from him, accepting the post provided for
him. Then I wrote to Tom Grinnell.

The last day we spent at our dear old home, I occupied myself in
finishing the office as Friend Henry bade me. I made a "practicable
door," which opened from the passage on Church Alley. Then I loaded my
hand-cart with my own chest, and took it myself, in my working clothes,
to the Vanderbilt Station, where I took a brass check for it.

I could not wait for the Spaniard, but I left a letter for him, giving
him a description of the way I managed the goats, and directions to
milk and fatten them, and to make both butter and cheese.

At half-past ten, a "crystal," as those cabs were then called, came to
the corner of Fernando Street and Church Alley, and so we drove to the
station. I left the key of the office, directed to the Spaniard, in the
hands of the baggage-master.

When I took leave of my castle, as I called it, I carried with me for
relics the great straw hat I had made, my umbrella, and one of my
parrots; also I forgot not to take the money I formerly mentioned,
which had lain by me so long useless that it was grown rusty and
tarnished, and could scarcely pass for money till it had been a little
rubbed and handled. With these relics, and with my wife's and mother's
baggage and my own chest, we arrived at our new home.



ALIF-LAILA.

THE ORIGIN OF THE "SERIAL."


The monthly magazine, as known to our Western civilization, dates, of
course, from a period this side of the re-invention of printing in
Europe, or of what Bishop Whately wisely calls the introduction of
paper in the West. Our sets of monthlies, bi-monthlies, and
semi-monthlies only run back a hundred or two years, therefore--to the
joy of librarians, to whom, be it confessed, they bring misery untold.

But in the East, where printing has existed so long that the memory of
man goes not to the contrary, it is almost impossible to say how far
back was the introduction of the monthly literary magazine. This
publication was accompanied with certain advantages and certain
disadvantages, which sprang from the peculiarities of the Eastern
calendar. The Eastern month being lunar, the magazine, if accuracy were
consulted, had to be issued once in twenty-nine days, twelve hours, and
forty-four minutes. On the other hand, the people of the East are less
exacting or precise than we are in their estimates of time; and in the
long run, if they had thirteen monthlies in one year, and twelve in
each of the next two years, it generally proved that subscribers were
satisfied.

There is a story of two of these early magazines--universally known
through the East, where, indeed, it is told in many exaggerated and
impossible forms--which is worth repeating for Western readers not yet
familiar with it. It gives both instruction and warning in an age in
which every boy in college, and every girl in a "female seminary,"
regards magazine-writing as the chief end of man and of woman,--an age
in which editors are feeling round, somewhat blindly, to know what
their rights may be, or whether, in fact, they have any rights, which
is doubtful. The story simply told, without any of the absurd
adornments which are put upon it in the East, teaches all men how some
of the most difficult editorial questions were decided there, and what
are the delicate relations between contributors and the public.

Far back in the period of mythical history in the East two brothers,
men of spirit, tact, shrewdness, and literary culture, conducted at the
same time two monthly magazines. The offices of publication were so far
from each other, and the "constituencies" were so different, that the
two journals did not in the least interfere with each other. Those were
in the happy days when there were no mails; and each magazine had its
own staff and its own contributors, the one set skilled in the language
and literature of Tartary, and the other in those of India. Though the
two brothers loved each other, they seldom exchanged letters, and the
chosen contributors of one journal never sent articles to the other.

One of these magazines, called the "Friend of the City," in their queer
Eastern way, was published at Delhi. The other, called the "King of the
Age," was published at Samarcand. Each of them achieved great
popularity, and, by virtue of its popularity, great power. At Delhi, in
particular, the editor became the real controlling power in the city,
and in what we call the kingdom. Not but what there was some kind of a
sachem or mikado, who in after ages would have been called a sultan or
an emperor, who did not edit the magazine, but was kept for or by his
sins in a certain prison, which he called a palace, which stood where
Shah Jehan long after built his magnificent abode. But this poor dog of
a mikado had nothing to do with the real government. He had to put his
seal to a good many documents, and he had to settle a horrible mess of
quarrels among his servants and harem people every day; and sometimes
he had the bore of turning out in the hot sun, with umbrellas and
elephants and bands of music, and so on, to receive some foreign
embassy. This he called reigning, and a very stupid life it was, and
very hard work did it bring upon him. But all the fun of command, all
the real disposition of the forces of Delhi and that country, and all
the comfort of life which comes from success and the "joy of eventful
living," these came, not to this poor shah, mogul, sultan, emperor, or
sachem, or whatever you choose to call him, but to the editor of the
"Friend of the City." He drove his span of horses when he chose and as
he chose, he sent the army where he chose when he chose, and he
dictated the terms of the treaties with the foreign powers. All this he
did because he had a large subscription list and he edited well.

With similar success, though with some difference in form, his younger
brother edited the "King of the Age" at distant Samarcand. Now you
ought to know, dear reader, what I am sorry to say you do not know,
that Samarcand is far, far away from Delhi. It is more than a thousand
miles, were a carrier-dove flying to his love in Delhi from his cage in
Samarcand; and when you come to tedious travelling by camels and horses
and asses--why, there are rivers and mountains between, and the ways,
such as they are, turn hither and thither, so that the journey is two
thousand miles or more. All the same, the editor of the "Friend of the
City" dearly loved his brother who edited the "King of the Age"; and
after they had been parted twenty years, he felt so strong a desire to
see this brother that he directed his chief assistant editor to repair
to him at Samarcand and to bring him.

Having taken the advice of this sub-editor, who was a more practical
person than he was, he gave orders to prepare handsome presents, such
as horses adorned with costly jewels, and mamelukes and beautiful
virgins, and the most expensive stuffs of India. He then wrote a letter
to his brother, in which he told him how eager he was to see him; and
having sealed it and given it to the sub-editor, together with the
presents, he bade him strain his nerves and tuck up his skirts, and go
and return as quickly as possible. The sub-editor answered, "I hear,
and I obey." He packed his baggage and made ready his provisions in
three days, and on the fourth day he departed and went toward the
wastes and the mountains. He travelled night and day. The different
news-agents in the provinces where he stopped came forth to meet him
with costly presents and gifts of gold and silver, and accounts of
sales and orders for back numbers and bound volumes, and each
news-agent accompanied the sub-editor one day's journey. Thus he
continued until he approached the city of Samarcand, when he sent
forward a messenger to the editor of the "King of the Age" to inform
him of his approach. The messenger entered the city, inquired the way
to the office, and introducing himself to the editor, kissed the ground
before him, and acquainted him with the approach of his brother's
sub-editor. On this the editor ordered all his staff, with the
proof-readers and publishers, to go forth a day's journey to meet him,
and they did so. And when they met him, they welcomed him and walked by
his stirrups till they returned into the city. The messenger from Delhi
then delivered his chief's letter. The Samarcand editor took it, read
it, and understood its contents. "But," said he to the messenger, "I
will not go till I have entertained thee three days." He therefore
lodged him in a palace befitting his rank, accommodated all his suite
in tents, and appointed all things requisite in food and drink, and for
three days they feasted. His New-Year's number was just printed, and
having got that off his hands, on the fourth day he equipped himself
for the journey, and collected presents suitable to his brother's
dignity.

Having completed these preparations, he left the charge of the magazine
with his chief of staff, and set out for his visit to his brother. As
is the custom in the East, the caravan encamped a mile from the city to
make sure that nothing was forgotten. It occurred to the Samarcand
brother, after his evening meal, that it would be well to take with him
an early copy of the New-Year's number in advance to his brother, as
they were not yet delivered to the trade. He mounted his horse,
therefore, and rode back to the city, and to save himself from going to
the office, he stopped near the gates, at the house of one of his chief
contributors--a young lady of great promise, whose reputation had been
manufactured, indeed, by the "King of the Age"--to ask her, for the
"early copy" which had been sent to her because she had some verses in
it.

What did he see as he entered the house but that this false woman was
giving a sealed letter to a negro slave. He seized it, he tore it open,
and found that it was a copy of verses which she had written and
addressed to the "Fountain of Light," which was the rival magazine in
Samarcand. On beholding this, the world became black before his eyes.
He said to himself, "If this happens when I have not departed from the
city, what will not this vile woman do while I am sojourning with my
brother?" He then drew his cimeter and cut off her head, as she fell at
his knees for pardon. He took from her table the early copy of the
"King of the Age," gave orders for departure, and journeyed to the city
of Delhi.

As they approached Delhi, the "Friend of the City," or the editor of
that journal, came out to meet them, and welcomed his brother with the
utmost delight. He then ordered that the city should be decorated for
the occasion. But the mind of his brother was distracted by reflections
upon the conduct of his favorite contributor. Excessive grief took
possession of him, and his countenance became sallow and his frame
emaciated. His brother observed these symptoms of a mind ill at ease,
and asked him the cause. "O my brother," he replied, "I have an inward
wound"; but he explained not to him the cause. His host then proposed a
great press excursion on the Jumna, which he hoped might cheer his
brother's mind. But after all the preparations had been made, he was
destined to suffer disappointment, his brother being so ill that the
party proceeded without him.

After they had gone, the poor sufferer from Samarcand sat in his
beautiful apartment in his brother's palace, and to divert his mind,
looked out into the garden. Scarcely was the excursion party gone, when
a gay, laughing party of young men and women came into the garden, whom
he recognized at once as being the contributors to his brother's
magazine, all of whom had been introduced to him at a collation the day
before. He was interested to see their proceedings. They entertained
themselves in the garden; and the favorite contributor of all, a lady
celebrated through India for her short stories, sat down by a fountain,
clapped her hands, and cried, "Masoud! Masoud!" Now Masoud was the
editor of the "Pearl of Wit," which was an upstart magazine, the hated
rival of the "Friend of the City." In a moment he came in, led by two
mamelukes, who made prostrations before him; and he bowed to the chief
contributor, and sat at her feet. Then she drew from her pocket a
little roll of vellum, and read to him and to all the others a short
story of only six thousand words. And all the contributors applauded,
some from sympathy and some to conceal their jealousy. But Masoud
applauded most of all, and took the roll, and hung around her neck a
necklace of diamonds. Then all the other contributors read articles in
turn; and Masoud took an article from each, and to each he gave either
a purse of gold or a bracelet or a diamond, according to the reputation
before the public of each contributor. Now all these reputations had
been made by the advertising clerk of the "Friend of the City."

When, therefore, the Samarcand editor saw from his window these
shameless proceedings, his heart warmed gladly within him. "By Allah!"
he exclaimed, "my affliction is lighter than this affliction!" His
grief was soothed, and he no longer abstained from food and drink.

And so it fell out that when, after five days, his brother returned
from the excursion, he was delighted to find that his brother guest was
cheerful and well. His face had recovered its color, and he ate with
appetite. "O my brother," he cried, "how is this change? Acquaint me
with thy condition." Then his brother took him on one side, away from
the staff, from the mamelukes and the publishers, and told him all. The
Delhi editor could not believe the tale. But the next day he made as if
he would go on an excursion with the Board of Trade; and no sooner had
the party left the city than he returned to his palace in disguise, and
then, looking from the window as his brother had done, he saw a like
sight: the contributors were all reading their articles, and selling
them to Masoud and other editors of rival magazines.

As soon as the editor saw this, he wrote a note to the chief
contributor, and asked her to call at the office the next day. So soon
as she entered, he charged her with her guilt; and before the miserable
creature could reply, he drew his cimeter and cut off her head. He then
sent shorter notes to the lesser contributors; and as each one entered
the office, he explained briefly that he knew all, and, with his own
hand, beheaded him. He then ordered the porters and janitors to throw
the heads and bodies into the Jumna, and, with his brother's
assistance, he called in a new circle of new contributors, and made up
the next number of the "Friend of the City" from their poems and
articles. The director of advertisements and of press criticisms
manufactured reputations for them all, and the number was pronounced
the most brilliant number of the "Friend of the City" which had ever
been published.

Then the editor sent advance copies to each of these contributors, and
asked them to call at the office the next morning. As each one called,
the editor drew his cimeter and cut off the contributor's head. He then
called the porters and janitors, and bade them throw the carcasses and
heads into the Jumna, and proceeded to make up the next number. And
thus he did for three years.

As the third year passed, however, the assistant editors began to
observe that there was a certain difficulty in collecting poems and
articles. Nay, it was even whispered that in the publication office
they feared that the magazine was losing popularity. The rumors from
the publication office were not often permitted to exhale in the
editorial rooms. But still there was a suspicion that from the homes of
the authors, who had been cut short so summarily, there was going out a
sort of public opinion unfavorable to the renewal of subscriptions. As
for authors, for some time they presented themselves freely. Each poet
and each story-writer was quite sure that her communication was so much
better than anything which had ever been written before that they all
moved up to the fatal edge of publication with serenity, each quite
sure that for herself the rule would be reversed, and each quite sure
that the others deserved decapitation. But, as has been said, after
three years the steady supply of articles was a little checked, perhaps
because a rumor was put in circulation by the conductors of the "Pearl
of Wit" that the editor of the "Friend of the City" was crazy, and
could not if he would, and would not if he could, tell a bad article
from a good one.

All these rumors and contingencies made the position of the sub-editor
very uncomfortable as the third year drew to a close. He had to make up
each number all the same, and he had to direct the chief of the
advertisements how to make the reputations of the authors. But really
the authors were so short-lived now that the reputations were scarcely
worth the making.

Of this remarkable man the name unfortunately is lost. But, happily for
literature and for posterity, he had two remarkable daughters, of whom
the eldest has won an extraordinary reputation in the East, where she
stands, indeed, at the very head of literature. At the period with
which this history deals she was young and beautiful. She had a courage
above her sex, remarkable penetration, and genius unbounded. She had
read everything, and her memory was so wonderful that of all she had
read she forgot nothing. She had studied history, philosophy, medicine,
and the arts, and her verses were acknowledged to be better than those
of the most distinguished poets of her time. As has been said, her
beauty was ravishing, and her amiability and her virtue rivalled her
wit, her memory, her prudence, her accomplishments, and her personal
loveliness.

One day, when the sub-editor had white paper before him, wondering how
he should make up the "schedule" for his next number, this lovely girl
came to him and said, "Papa, grant me a boon!" and she kissed him.

And he said, "A thousand, my darling."

"Though they should cost you the half of your kingdom, papa?"

"Though they should cost me the whole, my darling," said the fond
father rashly.

The girl clapped her hands and cried, "Victory! victory! Papa, I want
to write the first article for the next number of the 'Friend of the
City.'"

Oh, how agonized was her poor father! How he begged her to release him
from his fatal promise! but in vain. The girl was determined. She had
her father's word, and she would not let him go.

"Dear child," he said, "have you lost your senses? You know that the
chief cuts off the head of each contributor as soon as she has received
the advanced copy of the magazine. Do you really ask me to offer you to
the knife?"

"Yes, papa," said the brave girl; "I know all the danger that I run,
and it does not deter me. If I die, my death will be glorious. If I
live, I save my country."

And at last the wretched father, driven to a partial consent by his
daughter's firmness, went to the editor-in-chief with the schedule of
the number for his approval, and showed to him that the first article
on the fatal list, namely,

  "THE TRAVELLING MERCHANT,"

was

  "BY SCHEHEREZADE."

The editor knew the name full well, and he knew that the author was the
sub-editor's daughter.

"Dog," said he, "do you suppose that because I am fond of you and use
you, I shall spare your cursed house more than any other house in
Delhi?"

The poor sub-editor, all in tears, said that he had no such hope.

"Be not deceived," said the editor. "When you bring to me your daughter
Scheherezade's article, you take her life with your own hands."

"Sir," said the sub-editor, "I hear and I obey. My heart will break,
but I shall obey you. Nature will murmur, but I know my place, and you
will see that the proofs are well read and that my hands do not
flinch." The editor accepted his promise, and bade him bring the
article when he pleased.

Quite in time for the first or illustrated form, the sub-editor brought
in the article, with a series of spirited illustrations, drawn on the
block by Dinarzade, the sister of the virgin martyr Scheherezade. This
celebrated article has never been fully printed in Western journals
till now, although it has attained great celebrity all over the world,
and has often been printed in abridged forms. The following is a more
complete and correct version of it than we have found elsewhere:--


THE TRAVELLING MERCHANT.

Once upon a time there was a rich merchant, wonderfully successful in
his dealings, who had great store of goods of all sorts, of money also,
and of women, children, and all sorts of slaves, as well as of houses,
warehouses, and lands. And he had this wealth not only at home, but in
all the countries of the world. He had to make journeys sometimes, so
that he might see his factors and correspondents face to face. And
once, when he was obliged to go and collect some money, he took his
scrip or travel-bag, and packed in it some biscuit and some dates of
Mecca for provision for the journey, because he would have in some
places to pass over deserts. And so he mounted his horse and set out
upon his journey. God gave him good success in his travelling. He came
prosperously to the place he sought, he finished his business
prosperously, and prosperously he set out upon his return.

After he had travelled three days toward home, the fourth day was very
hot. And the merchant was so much distressed by the heat that he turned
aside into a garden by the wayside to rest himself under the shade of
some trees he saw there. He made his resting place under the shade of a
large nut-tree, he fastened his horse so that he could not run, and
then opening his scrip, he took out one or two biscuits and a few dates
to make a meal. He ate the biscuits and the dates, and threw the
date-stones right and left upon the ground. Then, having satisfied
himself with his frugal repast, he stood up and washed himself, and
then knelt down and said his prayers.

He had not finished his prayers, but was still upon his knees, when he
saw before him an immense genie, so large that while his feet were on
the ground, his head was in the clouds, and so old that he was white
with age. He held in his hand a long drawn sword, and before the
merchant could move, the genie cried out to him,--

"Stand up, that I may kill you with this sword, as you have killed my
son!"

When the merchant heard these words of horror he was terrified by them
as much as he had been at the sight of the monster; but in the midst of
his terror he stammered out, "O my lord, what is my crime? why do you
kill me?"

Then the genie replied again, "I will kill you, as you have killed my
son."

Then the merchant said, "Who has killed your son?"

And the genie answered, "You."

"O my lord," said the poor merchant, "I never saw your son, and I do
not know who he is."

But the genie said, "You have killed him."

Then the merchant said, "My lord, by the living Allah, I have not
killed him. How and where and when did I kill him?"

The genie answered him, "Did you not lie down when you came into the
garden? Did you not take dates out of your travel-bag, did you not eat
the dates, and did you not throw the stones about, some on the left
side and some on the right?"

"It is true, my lord," said the merchant; "I did as you say."

"Very well," said the genie, "and so you killed my son; for my son was
passing by just then, and as you threw the date-stones, one of them
struck him and killed him. Does not the law say, 'Whoso killeth
another, shall be killed in turn'?"

"Verily, this is the law," said the merchant; "but indeed, indeed, my
lord, I did not kill your son; or, if I killed him, I call upon Allah
to witness, without Whom is no might and no wisdom, that I did it
unwittingly. Forgive me, my lord, oh, forgive me if I have done this
thing!"

"No," said the genie; "surely you must die."

So saying, he seized the merchant and threw him upon the ground. Then
he lifted his great sword into the air again and held it ready to
strike. The poor merchant thought of his home and family, of his wives
and his little ones. He thought he had not a moment more to live, and
he shed such floods of tears that his clothes were wet with the
moisture.

He cried again, "There is no power nor might but with the infinite
Allah alone!" and then he repeated the following verses:--

           "Time knows two days:
  Of one the face is bright and clear;
  Of one the face is dark and drear.

           "Life has two sides:
  One is as warm and glad as light;
  One is as cold and black as night.

           "Time fooled with me:
  His flattering fingers soothed with magic spell,
  Just while his lying kiss was luring me to hell.

           "Who sneers at me?
  Are not the trees that feel the tempest's blow
  The stately trees of pride that highest grow?

           "Come sail with me:
  See floating corpses on the topmost waves;
  The precious pearls are hid in secret caves.

           "See the eclipse!
  A thousand stars unquenched forever blaze;
  But sun and moon must hide their brighter rays.

           "I looked for fruit:
  On branches green and fresh no fruit I found;
  I plucked the fruit from branches sere and browned.

           "Night smiled on me!
  Because I saw the diamonds in the sky,
  Poor fool! I had forgot that death was nigh."

When the merchant had finished these verses, and had wept to his
heart's content, the genie, who had waited through it all, said, "It is
enough; now I must kill you."

"What!" said the merchant, "will nothing change you?"

"Nothing," said the genie. "You must die."

TO BE CONTINUED.


These last words were emblazoned in a beautiful scroll of Dinarzade's
most perfect designing.

The editor of the "Friend of the City" was not accustomed, himself, to
read manuscripts, proofs, or revises, unless the articles were his own.
He first saw the articles of the sub-editor and contributors in
plate-proof. When the plate-proofs of this number were brought to him
he began at once on the story of the merchant. He read it with
unaffected, not to say unwonted, interest. When he turned the last
page, he said to himself, "However will she wind it up in so few
lines?" And when he came to the masterpiece of Scheherezade's success
and of Dinarzade's art, he laid down the sheets with a mingled feeling
not easily described. His cruelty was foiled. But of that he thought
little. His curiosity was piqued. A jaded editor of twenty-three years'
experience was curious for a _dénouement_. But of this he thought
little. For not one moment did he think of taking the author's blood.
He saw too clearly the future of the magazine. In short, every other
emotion sank within him before the profound awe which overwhelmed his
being. The editor looked down the ages. He saw that his magazine might
last forever. For in that series of plate-proofs the SERIAL was born.

From that moment the position of the lovely Scheherezade and her
accomplished sister Dinarzade on that magazine was secure. That single
serial ran twenty-seven years, through one thousand and one numbers,
and was known through the East as "Alif-Laila." Long before it ended,
other serials had been begun, and no citizen of Delhi or the
neighborhood ever subscribed for the "Friend of the City" but he
continued his subscription for generation after generation.

The tales of Scheherezade have been collected, as is well known, in
endless editions, and translated into all languages. The languages of
the East are so little understood that the names of the magazines have
in time been transferred to the two editors. The "Friend of the City"
in Arabic is "Shahriar," and that name in varied spelling is generally
given to the editor of that print. His brother, by a similar oversight,
is usually called "Shahzeban," which word means the "King of the Age."

But these names are forgotten, as they should be. The name which is
remembered is that of the lovely and virtuous Scheherezade, the savior
of her country, who, to her other titles to the gratitude of men, adds
this,--that she invented the Serial.



A CIVIL SERVANT.


President Madison was fond of telling the story of a visit made to him
by one of his supporters. After due introductory discussion of the
weather and the state of parties, the voter explained to the President
that he had called upon him to ask for the office of Chief Justice of
the United States.

Mr. Madison was a little surprised; but, with that ready tact which he
had brought from his diplomatic experience, he concealed his
astonishment. He took down the volume which contained the Constitution
of the United States, and explained to this Mr. Swearingin--if that
were his name--that the judges held office on the tenure of good
behavior, and that Judge Marshall, then the ornament of the bench,
could not be removed to make place for him.

Mr. Swearingin received the announcement quietly; and, after a moment,
said he thought he should like to be Secretary of State.

The President said that that was undoubtedly a place where a man could
do good service to the country; but that Monroe, like Mr. Swearingin
and himself, was a Virginian; and he did not like to remove him.

"Then," said Mr. Swearingin, "I will be Secretary of the Treasury."

Unfortunately, the President said, the present incumbent was a
Pennsylvanian: it was necessary to conciliate Pennsylvania; and he
could not remove him.

"Then," said Mr. Swearingin, "I think I will go abroad. I should like
to go to France."

"Do you speak French?" asked the President kindly.

"No, no; I speak nothing but Old Dominion English,--good enough for me,
Mr. President."

"Yes, yes; and for me. But I don't think it will do to send you to the
Mounseers, unless you can speak their language."

"Then I'll go to England."

"Ah, Mr. Swearingin, that will never do! King George might remember how
often your father snapped his rifle at Lord Cornwallis."

So Europe was exhausted. And Mr. Swearingin fell back on one and
another collectorship, naval office, district-attorneyship; but for
each application, the astute President had his reply.

"I think, then, Mr. President, I will be postmaster at our office at
home."

Mr. Madison had forgotten where that was; but, learning that it was at
Slate Creek, Four Corners, Botetourt County, Virginia, he sent for the
register. Alas! it proved that the office was in the hands of one of
Morgan's veterans. Impossible to remove him!

"Truly, Mr. Madison," said Mr. Swearingin, "I am obliged to you for
your attention to my case. I see the difficulties that surround you.
Now, seeing you cannot give me the chief justice's place, nor Mr.
Monroe's, nor the Treasury, nor any of those others, don't you think
you could give me a pair of _old leather breeches?_"

Mr. Madison thought he could,--did better; gave him an order on his
tailor for the breeches; and Mr. Swearingin went happily on his way.

I have changed the name in this story, but tell it much as Mr. Madison
told it. Something of that kind has happened every day in Washington,
from 1800 to 1880. And it is of the career of one of these very civil
servants of the state, who are so easily pleased if only you give them
something which they have never earned, that I now am writing. I am by
no means sure that our hero is not the grandson of the very man whom,
by a pair of leather breeches, James Madison made happy.

       *       *       *       *       *

The first epoch of his life is the great success, as his young friends
thought it, when, before he was of age, he received an appointment as
clerk in the War Department in Washington. It was then that he entered
the "Civil Service," and became a "civil servant" of the United States.
Why was he appointed? Why? Because there was nothing else for him to
do. He had grown up shiftlessly, the oldest son of a widow, who had not
a firm hand enough to keep him at school. He threw his Latin Grammar
into the fire the day it was bought for him, and refused to go to
college. One of his uncles offered him a farm at the West; but he did
not choose to be a farmer: he said he thought he would rather be a
gentleman. The same prejudice interfered with his being apprenticed to
learn the printer's trade or the painter's or the carriage-builder's,
or any of the other methods by which hand-laborers subdue the world; so
an effort had been made, with a good deal of solicitation to back it,
to put him into a wholesale importing house. But it turned out, the
first day, that his figures were so dubious that no one could tell by
his memoranda whether he had counted two hundred and fifteen bales of
gunny cloth or 2,015. And when, on the second day, he gave to a
teamster an order for two bundles of pine kindlings, which was so
written and spelled that the next day one hundred bundles of pine
shingles were found encumbering the stairway of the warehouse, and when
this blunder was traced home to Master John's handwriting, he was
notified that the firm of Picul, Sapan, & Company had no further need
for his services. Then his much-enduring uncles, by much letter-writing
and vigilant attendance at many congressional district conventions, got
him nominated by their member of Congress to a cadetship at West Point.
This gentleman was called _their member_ because they had _quoad hoc_
bought him by such services. But when Master John presented himself for
examination at West Point, he was so uncertain whether eleven times
eleven were a hundred and seven, or whether it were not a hundred and
seventeen, that he was passed by, and a little Irish boy, named Phil
Sheridan, who had no uncles that were ever heard of, was taken in his
place. How much the country lost in that substitution can never be
told. After a similar experience as to a midshipman's berth, Master
John had been left to follow up his own views in the training for a
gentleman. Sometimes, in terrible pinch for pocket-money, he would
shovel sidewalks for the neighbors. He was always ready, in summer, to
burn a good deal of powder in shooting beach-birds; but he had attained
the age of twenty without the knowledge of any handicraft, mystery, or
profession except that of catching flounders from the wharves of the
seaport village where he lived.

It was, therefore, as I have said, welcomed as a special providence,
almost, that a benignant government at the demand of the uncles
aforesaid, was able to give to Mr. John Sapp a desk in the War
Department.

The duties of this post he was told, and he found, were such as would
"explain themselves" to him. The first duty was to come in at nine, and
the second was to leave at three. Mr. Sapp soon learned the second duty
very well, and even assisted in arrangements by which, at noon every
day, the in-door clock of the department was crowded forward ten
minutes so as to make duty number two the easier. As for the first
duty, he was never perfect. But, as he justly said, it made no sort of
difference whether he were there early or late. The truth is, that it
was an economy to him to come late; because he then needed fewer cigars
to go through the morning. After he did arrive, he had the "National
Intelligencer" to read, and the "Madisonian," and the "Globe"; he had
such letters to acknowledge as had been sent down open to his room; and
he had to get rid of the time till three o'clock, as amended, came.

All this was very comfortable for many years, while it lasted. It might
have lasted till now, but for a little accident. It happened, one day,
that a woman with a black veil came into the room where Mr. Sapp was
reading, with his feet on the mantelpiece, and handed him a letter.
"Take a seat," said he; "I am engaged just now." So the widow took a
seat, while Mr. Sapp finished an account of a prize fight in the
"Madisonian." He then left her, and went upstairs to settle his bets on
this fight with one of the gentlemen there; and the widow waited an
hour. Then he came back; and she asked him if he would look at her
letter. He looked at it, and told her she had come to the wrong office,
and wrote a memorandum, which directed her to go to the head-quarters
of the army. The poor woman said she had been there, and they had sent
her to him. By this continued importunity she wearied Mr. Sapp; and he
said, with some warmth, that he would be damned if he would be bullied
by her or by anybody; that he knew his business, if at the
head-quarters they did not know theirs, and that she had better leave
the office, and that very quickly, too. And so Mr. Sapp relapsed to his
cigar.

Now it happened that this lady was the widow of a major-general, and
the sister of another who was acting as assistant-adjutant on the
general staff. She was attending to a mere piece of detail, drawing the
money due to her son, who had died in service. It was merely for her
own convenience that she had stopped at the department herself; and, in
an hour more, she had reported at head-quarters, as bidden by Mr. Sapp.

In twenty-four hours more, therefore, Mr. John Sapp had his arrears of
pay paid up to him, was dismissed from the service of the government,
and Mr. Dick Nave was appointed to the vacant desk. This gentleman was
the next on the list; that was the reason he was appointed.

Mr. John Sapp was free of the world.

But, from that moment, Mr. Sapp had found his profession. He was, as
you have seen from what he did and said to the widow, what is called a
"civil servant." He had seen the color of Uncle Sam's money. It was
paid in coin in those days: and Mr. Sapp knew how regular were the
quarter days, and how bright the quarters and the halves. If he were
prejudiced before against the meaner professions, in which one receives
his pay from his fellow-men, how much more was he prejudiced against
them now, when he had learned how well Uncle Sam pays, even if he pays
but little, and how easy it had been for him, till this misfortune
came, to do even less than he was paid for. A civil servant had Mr.
John Sapp begun in life; and a civil servant he would remain.

So he returned home. But he did not return before two or three "own
correspondents" had announced in the "Buncombe True Eagle" and the
"Bobadil True Flag" that our distinguished fellow-citizen, Mr. John
Sapp, having pressed a series of reforms in the War Department which
cut off the perquisites of some of the epaulette wearers who were
parading on Pennsylvania Avenue, had been hunted down by them with
relentless hostility, and at last had been driven from the post which
he had so bravely maintained. The "Eagle" intimated that the least sop
thrown to these hungry beagles by Mr. Sapp would have silenced their
howl. But he was not the man to bribe. He preferred to go down with his
colors flying, although the yellow flag of corruption should be
flaunted in the hot sirocco of political and party tergiversation; and,
with this talisman of integrity wrapped about his form, he would
present himself in his native town for the verdict of the people whose
rights he had maintained. In this cloud of mixed metaphor, Mr. Sapp
returned to Shirk Corners, and took up his quarters at the village
hotel.

On consultation with his friends, Mr. Sapp offered himself as candidate
for the legislature,--the great mistake of his life, as he afterwards
declared. Uncle Sam, he said, required little, if he paid little; paid
well what he paid; and, if a man's politics were right, asked no
questions. But when a man offered himself for the legislature, there
were a thousand questions; "and a feller did not understand; and then
what could a feller do?" But this was after he had learned what was
what. While he was learning, his friends advised him to be seen freely
among the people, and to attach the young men to him, and to gain the
respect of the solid men. So Mr. Sapp became a fine member of the Light
Infantry, and paid the entrance fees. He joined the Silver Fountain
Division of Sons of Temperance, and attended their meetings. He invited
all gentlemen of respectability into the private office of the Shirk
House, and treated to champagne and cigars. He took a half pew in the
Methodist Church, and generally attended the occasional and evening
services at the Church of the Disciples. He looked in at the editorial
office of the "Spy" in the morning; and if he got a good letter from
Washington in the afternoon, he sent it to the editor of the
"Informer." He joined the reading-club, and made himself agreeable to
the ladies. He subscribed to the Orphans' Home, so that he might win
the suffrages of orphans. He held yarn for those who knit at the
ladies' sewing society, and spun yarns for those who would listen. He
was faithful in his attendance at primary meetings. He sat through the
speaking of the boys at the quarterly school exhibitions. He permitted
himself to be made a director of the Horse-Thief Association, and when
there was a fire, he worked at the brakes of the engines till he was
spelled. These little occupations I mention only by way of
illustration. He said himself that this set of duties was endless, and
that anybody who knew what hard work a feller had before he could go to
the legislature, would never envy any man his seat. "For his part, he
was sure that a civil servant did more mean work than any nigger of
them all."

If he is to be the standard, I am sure I agree with him.

At last the time for nomination came, and Mr. Sapp was nominated by the
old Whig line, which was then in the majority in Buncombe County. Had
the Democrats been in the majority, Mr. Sapp would have solicited their
nomination. "It's best to be on the winning side," he said. In times of
long peace, the army and the navy are generally unpopular; and the
impression that Mr. Sapp had been snubbed by shoulder-strapped men was
enough to bring him into favor. "We shall walk over the track," said
Mr. Hopkirk, his principal backer; and Mr. Facer, though not so
confident, offered three to one in betting on him.

But alas! the Democrats named a candidate; and some thorny come-outers
named another: so there was no walking over the track. And, by the same
ill luck which made our civil servant insult Mrs. Gen. Armitage, he
happened to ask Deacon Whitman, the Most Grand Worthy of the Sons of
Temperance, to step into his room on a cold day and try some hot punch
he had been brewing. Who could ever have thought that a jolly-looking
old cove like that was a deacon? The deacon published this invitation
in the next "Water-Bucket." He added some comments, which drew forth
some dozen lies from Mr. Hopkirk the next day in the "Spy." "The
deacon's letter lost us all the temperance vote; and Mr. Hopkirk's lost
us all the liberal vote,"--so was the vote of the liquor houses and
their coteries called. Then one day, at a conference meeting, Brother
Sapp was asked pointedly if he believed in the objectivity of the
atonement. "How is a feller to know?" he said afterwards to Mr. Facer.
And poor Mr. Sapp, not knowing, told the truth, and said that under
certain circumstances he did, and other circumstances he did not. He
said this in such a way as to offend the class-leader, who was a man of
courage, and in the habit of saying yes for yes, and no for no. After a
dozen other such pieces of ill-luck as this, it is no wonder that John
Throop, the Independent, stood at the head of the poll; Reuben Gerry,
the Democrat, came next, and John Sapp last of all. But he had all the
liquor bills of his friends, all the printing of the canvass, and half
of the bets upon it to pay.

       *       *       *       *       *

By this time, John was thrown back upon his uncles again. As for them,
worthy men, they had written so many letters of introduction in his
favor that they began to believe their own words, and regarded him as a
much abused man, and themselves as worse abused than he.

The earliest form of this letter which I have found is simply this:--

  DEAR SIR,--I take the liberty to introduce to you my nephew, Mr. John
  Sapp, who will explain to you the object with which he calls.
  Respectfully yours,

                     PHILEMON PLAICE,
                _or_ AILANTHUS PLAICE, _as the case might be_.

But after the uncles became indignant themselves with the public's
dulness, and especially after they found they were paying John Sapp's
bills, the letters became eloquent enlargements on these themes.

  MY DEAR FRIEND,--The bearer, my nephew, Mr. John Sapp, is a young
  gentleman who has been very hardly treated in the public service. He
  calls to ask your advice and interest in an application he is making
  for--

For whatever it might happen to be; as, the post of superintendent of
oil lamps;

  Of chief marshal of the Kossuth procession;
  Of county surveyor (duties done by proxy);
  Of assistant marshal for the census;
  Of assistant assessor;
  Of pilot commissioner;
  Of librarian of the Archæological Institute;
  Of messenger in the State House;
  Of head of the lamplighting bureau in the City Hall;
  Of ticket-seller at the Coliseum;
  Of lecturer for the Free Trade League;
  Of trustee of the Protectionist Fund;
  Of secretary to the Board of Health;
  Of auditor of the Alabama claims;
  Of secretary to the commissioners at Vienna;
  Of clerk to the inspectors of Ward 2;

Or whatever other function might prove to need a functionary. Indeed,
the Messrs. Plaice soon persuaded themselves that he had special
fitness, in turn, for any and all posts which fell vacant:--

For inspector of fish, because his father went on a mackerel voyage
when he was a boy.

For toll-keeper of the Potomac bridge, because his mother was of a
misanthropic turn of mind.

For firewarden, because he was blown up with gunpowder when he was a
child. And with each rebuff in Mr. John Sapp's line of applications,
his uncles were the more indignant for the ingratitude of the world.

So was Mr. Sapp; but none the less did he push his traverses towards
the works of what he called the common enemy.

He was at one time urging his claims to be employed inspector of Orange
Peel, as it was found on sidewalks,--a post for which he was specially
fitted, because a boy with whom he went to school was our consul at
Fayal. Some one who met him said, very unkindly, that John Sapp's life
seemed to be a very easy one; and the phrase came to John's ears.
"Easy?" said he. "I should like to know what is hard. This fellow
thinks all you have to do is to ask to be appointed Inspector of Orange
Peel, and then to begin to draw the salary. Shows what he knows of our
business.

"Now see; this inspector is appointed by the county commissioners. Have
to find out who they are. Make no mistake. Get the names right
first,--all the letters right. William Claflin and Tennie Claflin's
husband not the same man,--very different men. Then find out their
friends,--where they go to church, who's the minister, who's the
doctor, what bank they're in, and so on. Then find out who knows the
friends. See?

"Then begin. Speak first to John Jones at the barber's or post-office
quite accidentally. Get John Jones to give you letter--see?--to
introduce you to David Dodder. See? Simple letter,--general letter.
'Friend Mr. Sapp,--little matter of business.' Then call on David
Dodder--see?--after dinner, when he's good-natured. Ask him to
introduce you to William Belcher,--'important matter of business,
necessary for public benefit.' See? Then go to William Belcher,--best
coat on, clean shirt, shaved on purpose,--and ask him for letter of
introduction to county commissioners,--knows 'em all,--see?--something
like this:--

"'My dear Mr. Sheriff,--Will you present to the county commissioners my
friend Mr. John Sapp, who is a candidate for the Inspection of Orange
Peel? I do not personally know Mr. Sapp, whose public service has been
mostly at Washington; but my friend, Mr. Dodder, on whose judgment I
rely, &c., &c. See?

"Now," said Mr. Sapp, when he explained this, "what man says it is easy
to get those letters together? What man says I did not earn this
inspectorship by hard work? And when a fellow's got it, I'll be hanged
if the Know-nothings did not come in before I had been in office a
week, and before I had any chance to join them; and I was turned out
before I had inspected one orange!"

Mr. Carlyle says that the hatter of the present day, instead of
exerting himself to make good hats, exerts himself to write good
advertisements of hats, or to make the largest hat that can be made of
lath and plaster, to be carted round the streets of London upon wheels,
bearing advertisements of his hat store. The evil is not a new one. The
cat in Æsop told the fox that she had but one way to save her life, if
the enemy should come. "How sad!" said the fox. "I have a hundred; and
I will explain them to you." Just as he began to explain, the hounds
dashed upon them. The cat ran up a tree, and was safe; but the fox, at
the end of his hundredth turn, was devoured. Mr. John Sapp was as badly
off as the fox. He was fit for a hundred places, but he never could
stay in one of them. Had he known how to do one thing, he could have
done it his life long.

For, when a crisis comes, or anything like a crisis, the world has a
hopeless fashion of jamming its old stout felt hat over its ears, tying
a stout scarf above it, and going out to battle in the storm, and
forgets, in the fight, the lath-and-plaster hat which has dragged the
street yesterday. It trusts a proved friend, though his felt be a
little rough, and his braid a little frayed. And while Mr. John Sapp's
portfolio of recommendations grew larger and larger, and showed he was
good for everything, from a post on the Board of Health round to the
janitorship of the public library, the public, when it was on its
mettle, had a brutal way of appointing what he called "new men," who
had made no application, or what he called "old fogies," who had been
trained by experience to understand their duties. And it must be
confessed that Mr. Sapp held back very modestly from the places which
involved danger to-day, or which required preparation in years bygone.
When the war came, he made no offer of service in the field, but was
quite sure there must be some place as storekeeper that he should like.
When Kansas was to be settled of a sudden, he did not think of
emigrating; but he thought there might be some place for him in the
office that sent the emigrants. I happen to remember that forty-nine
thousand, nine hundred and ninety-nine other men of his age thought
much the same thing. Having, indeed, been educated for nothing in
particular, Mr. Sapp was always on the front list of applicants for
places where there was nothing in particular to do.

I have had a great many such men to examine, sooner or later. If Mr.
Sapp had come before me, sitting as county commissioner, or inspector
of prisons, the question I would have put him first would have been,
"What can you do best in this world? What do you think you are most
good for? What do you like to do?" It is pathetic to see how
disappointed men break down under that question. I once asked a foreign
missionary what he would do if he had _carte-blanche_,--had a hundred
thousand dollars to expend in the next year?

"I--I--I think, ah, ah--you had better ask the advisory board," he
said.

There was nothing in particular that he wanted to do; and so he did
nothing. I used to ask young men what they were reading, but I do not
now, unless I am quite sure of them. So many men said, "Oh,--really,
you know,--the newspapers, you know,--and the magazines, you
know,--'Littell's' and 'Old and New' and the 'Atlantic,' you know--must
keep up with the times, you know." I did not know any such thing. They
read nothing in particular, and practically read nothing at all. Now,
the people,--who are, on the whole, wiser than we think,--when their
moments of crisis come, sweep all such Jacks-of-all-trades by. They
light on some one man, who has done some one thing well. He has made
fish leap up the falls at Lowell into the Merrimack. He has taught the
waves to obey his bidding, and sheer off the shore at Chicago. He has
administered a railroad, so that no widow weeps when she hears its
name, no orphan curses the recklessness of its managers. The grateful
people know such men. And when a crisis comes, that voice of the
people, which is as the voice of God, says to such a man,--

"Thou hast been faithful in a few things: I will make thee ruler over
many things. Thou hast been faithful in a very little. Have thou
authority over ten cities!"

But Mr. Sapp heard no such order to come up higher. The truth is, that,
in three cases out of four, official life with us is not a good
training for business in any other work. And Mr. Sapp's office at the
War Department had been one of those three cases. It had taught him to
file letters, to note their contents in an alphabetical index, to refer
them respectfully to somebody else, to write back in an invariable form
to the authors that they had been respectfully referred, and, once a
week, to send a volume of letters to the binder. But this was all that
it taught him. The consequence was that when he was appointed to any
function with any different duties, he functioned ill.

Thus he was a poor librarian at the Archæological; and the directors
voted not to have any librarian. They appointed a superintendent; and
Mr. Sapp was discharged.

He lectured ill for the Free Trade League, so that the people stayed at
home. Now, as Lord Dundreary says, "How can a feller lecture, if people
will not listen?"

He inspected orange peel ill, so that, whether the Know-nothings had
come in or not, he would have gone out. In truth, he was, as I said,
trained to do nothing in particular; and the only place he was fit for,
therefore, was some place where there was nothing in particular to do.

In the English civil service there are many such places; but in that of
America there are very few.

The last time I saw Mr. Sapp, he was standing rather ruefully at the
door of Dr. Chloral's office. Dr. Chloral, you remember, is the
celebrated dentist of that name, with the striking sign on Cambridge
Street, where a gutta-perch mouth, propelled by Cochituate, opens and
shuts to slow music, as if it were listening to a lyceum lecture
two-thirds done. Fortunately for me, Mr. Sapp did not see me.

At that moment he was laying his lines for an inspectorship in the
Custom House. He had no letter of introduction which he thought would
move Judge Russell, the collector. But he knew, or thought he knew,
that Dr. Chloral and Judge Russell were intimate; so he stood at Dr.
Chloral's street-door till some patient might come in whom Mr. Sapp
could engage to introduce him to the dentist, who in his turn could
then introduce him to the collector.

An admirable plan! Well, many patients came, you may be sure. Ladies
came in carriages with their children, from Chester Square. Students
came in the Union cars from Cambridge. Laboring men came up from North
Street. Later in the day, toothaching bankers came from State Street,
and neuralgic aldermen from City Hall. But hour passed after hour; and
no man came whom Mr. Sapp could ask for an introduction to Dr. Chloral.
Hour passed after hour. The clock struck three, when Mr. Sapp knew that
office hours were over for that day. The hard-worked doctor, released
at last, came running down to take his walk before dinner, when lo, one
more patient on the stairway!

It was poor John Sapp. Failing other introduction, he had, with the
promptness of genius, invented a toothache.

He met Dr. Chloral, and acted agony so well, that he compelled the
doctor to return.

"But there's nothing the matter with that tooth, man! It is sound for
thirty years."

"O," said Mr. Sapp, "I wish I thought so!"

"Why, man, I wish it were in my head!" said the doctor.

"O," said Mr. Sapp, "I wish it were!"

"Well," said Dr. Chloral, "if you say so, here goes"; and in a moment
he pulled as honest a tooth as ever ground gristle or tendon.

"Now rinse your mouth here, sir; here's a towel, sir; I'm rather late,
sir"; and then, as Mr. Sapp loitered,--

"What else can I do for you?"

"Could not you,--Dr. Chloral,--could not you write me a line of
introduction to Mr. Collector Russell at the Custom House?"

"And after all, do you think," said Mr. Sapp,--"after all, Judge
Russell appointed a one-legged soldier, who had served in the war; and
I lost my tooth for nothing."

After this repulse, Mr. Sapp became low in his mind. His uncles were
dead,--that is, his real uncles were; and he carried to his other
uncles most of his portable property for pawn. At last he got up a
paper which many men signed--without reading it. They hoped, perhaps,
it was a petition to the governor that he would give Mr. Sapp a place,
holding for good behavior, in the state-prison. It _was_ a
recommendation to the benevolent to subscribe for his relief. With this
paper he called, as it happened, on Mrs. Gen. Armitage, who was
spending the summer at the sea-shore at Shirk Corners. Mrs. Armitage
was interested in the fate of the worn-out office-seeker. She gave him
a chair, a piece of cake, and a glass of water, and made him tell his
whole story. To her dismay, she found that _she_ had been the arbiter
of his fortunes. She had long since forgotten his rudeness, and he had
never known her name. But Mrs. Armitage gave him five dollars; and,
thinking that she had, perhaps, some influence still in Washington,
wrote a confidential note to a very, very, very high authority, to know
if there was really no place, with ever so little salary,--in which a
man could just live,--which Mr. Sapp could have. "Some place, you
know," said she, "where there is nothing in particular to do, but where
you just want a single man, who does not drink, and who, I believe,
does not steal."

The answer, alas! was--as it always is--that nothing was vacant but the
consulate at Fernando Po. The quarter's fees there were never more than
fifty-seven dollars. How much they would be in a year, no one knows;
for no consul has ever survived that climate more than four months. But
it is thought that the fees may be larger now; for no one has applied
for the place since the last consul died, seven years ago. This is the
only place in the gift of the government that no one has applied for.

Mrs. Armitage showed this letter to Mr. John Sapp. "Have you ever lived
in a warm climate?" said she kindly. "There can be no danger of
rheumatism there."

No, there could be no danger of rheumatism; but, for all that, Mr. Sapp
declined the offer. It did him good to decline it. He wrote a letter on
square letter-paper, and sealed it with his father's seal-ring. It was
the first thing in life he had ever declined!

I think that seal touched them in Washington. They are hard-hearted,
but sealing-wax--real red sealing-wax--touches them when rhetoric is
powerless.

I think so. For the next week came this letter, autograph from the
very, very, very high authority:--

  WASHINGTON, April 1, 18--

  DEAR MRS. ARMITAGE,--We must send at once, without noise, a trusty
  man to take possession of the Island of St. Lazarus, one of Aleutian
  group, west of Alaska, in the name of the United States. It will be
  some years before we establish a post there; but meanwhile the flag
  must be kept flying. Would your friend like this? There is a sealer's
  hut there; and he will have his passage free, full rations, and
  stationery. I think he also has the franking privilege for all
  official correspondence. I will inquire at the post-office. He will
  be commissioned as Governor-General of the island; but there are no
  inhabitants except the seals, unless he chooses to take his family
  with him.

This was a long letter for the very high authority. "He forgets," said
Mrs. Armitage, "that I told him that Mr. Sapp was a single man!" And
from that time she bore that grudge against the very high authority
which a woman always bears against a man who does not read her letters
twice through.

Mr. Sapp was delighted. He had been appointed confidentially to an
office for which he had never applied. It was a secret office. No man
knew of it. He accepted the appointment, for no bondsmen were required.
He was distressed to find that no oath was to be taken. He went to
Washington to receive his instructions, which was quite unnecessary. He
drew on the navy yard at Charlestown for stationery, and he drew for a
great deal. There was one large tin box filled with red tape, which was
his especial glory.

He was landed at St. Lazarus prosperously; and, with the assistance of
a boat's crew, they got the flag flying. They cleared out the sealer's
house. They carried up ten barrels of salt junk, twelve of salt pork,
thirteen of potatoes, fourteen of flour, fifteen of sour-krout, and
sixteen of white beans. These were the supplies Mr. John Sapp was to
subsist on for a year. They carried up four reams of foolscap paper,
ruled and margined, for his official reports to the War Department;
four of quarto letter-paper, for his reports to the Navy; four of royal
octavo, for his reports to the Smithsonian; four of large congress
note, for his reports to the Weather Bureau; four of small congress
note, for his reports to the Treasury; and four of gilt-edged note,
with initials J. S., for his private correspondence. They carried up
eleven pounds of red sealing-wax, the tin box of red tape they carried
up; and so they bade him good-by. The boat returned to the ship. Then
it proved that his dog and cat and parrot and umbrella were still on
board; and the captain's gig was sent with them. So Mr. Sapp was not
left alone.

Here was a _place_. It was a place with nothing particular to do; and
Mr. Sapp was left to do it.

He kept no diary. Nothing, therefore, is known of his experience for
the year, but when, the next year, the store-ship landed his stores,
the boatswain in charge ran up the beach, and met a grave man in
seal-skins, who made a military salute.

The boatswain saluted him, and was about to speak, when old Sealskin,
as he afterwards called him, said, "Have you passed quarantine!"

"Quarantine? No, sir!"

"Take your boat round into the South Cove, and see the health officer,
and bring me his permit."

The boatswain, from habit of obedience, obeyed,--took the boat round in
half an hour's pulling. Health officer! There were some stupid seals
who jumped off the rocks; and that was all.

The captain of the store-ship, meanwhile, had seen this manoeuvre with
amazement, and sent a second boat ashore. With this boat, he sent his
second officer. He also met the lonely Robinson, and saluted.

"Have you passed quarantine?"

"All right, my man," said the friendly sailor; and Sealskin turned, and
walked with him to his hut. A moment more, and the boatswain followed.
He could find no health officer, he said.

"It must be past his office hours," said Mr. Sapp gravely. "They close
at eleven there. You shall be examined to-morrow."

The boatswain stared at this postponement of quarantine; but then, on a
word from his superior officer, he produced a bag of papers and letters
for Mr. Sapp, which he had been afraid to offer him before.

"They will be respectfully fumigated and respectfully referred," said
Mr. Sapp.

And he hung them to the crane in the chimney.

Then he lifted off a pot of bean-soup, and filled a bowl for each of
the wondering men. He produced hard-tack from a closet, and whiskey and
water. And then, still asking no question, he took down the smoky
letters, and opened them slowly.

But, to the men's amazement, he did not read one.

He folded the first with a steel letter file, two inches and a quarter
wide, and docketed it,--"Received June 11. Respectfully referred to
Next Friday, Esq., P.M."

When the boatswain heard of Mr. Friday, he thought it was surely
Robinson Crusoe.

But the next letter, unread, was filed and docketed--"Respectfully
referred to Next Saturday, Esq., A.M."

"P.M. and A.M.," cried the boatswain; "they have masters of arts here
as well as postmasters."

"Not at all," said the governor severely; "A.M.--Ante-Meridiem;
P.M.,--Post-Meridiem"; and without reading the next letter, he filed
it, and indorsed it,--"Respectfully referred to Next Sunday, Esq., M."

"Young man," said he, "I shall examine and file this letter on Friday
afternoon; this one on Saturday morning; this on Sunday noon. Let all
things be done regularly and in order."

The mate and boatswain were alarmed. They hastily finished their
bean-soup and fled to the boat, returning with six men, who rolled a
barrel of junk up the well-kept gravel walk.

"Invoice?" said the governor.

There was no invoice.

"Prepare an invoice."

And the meek boatswain obeyed.

"My man, take this to the inspector," said Mr. Sapp to one of the crew,
after he had indorsed it,--"Respectfully referred to the
Inspector-General."

The sailor was a Portuguese,--understood no English; bobbed his head,
and waited for light.

Mr. Sapp led him to the door, and pointed to a bearded walrus,--who sat
on a rock above the landing,--bidding him take the invoice to him, and
land nothing more without his orders.

       *       *       *       *       *

Poor man!--or happy man shall I call him? He had what he sought for. He
had a place with nothing to do, and faithfully he had done it,--so
faithfully that, in that sad loyalty, the little fragment of his
untrained wits gave way.



NICOLETTE AND AUCASSIN.

A TROUBADOUR'S TALE.


[I have introduced the beginning of this romance in my little story
called "In His Name." In the form in which the reader sees it, it
belongs to the twelfth century, in which the action of that story is
laid. The French critics think they have found traces of the narrative
at a time even earlier. Some of the English critics have spoken of the
story with more harshness than I think it deserves. Aucassin's bitter
contrast of the hell and heaven of which he has been taught is
certainly in character; and the reader must give no more weight to it
than it deserves.]


                 I.

    Who will listen yet again
    To the old and jovial strain,--
  The old tale of love that's always new?
    She's a girl that's fair as May;
    He's a boy as fresh as day;
  And the story is as gay as it is true.


                II.

    Who will hear the pretty tale
    Of my thrush and nightingale,--
  Of the dangers and the sorrows that they met?
    How he fought without a fear,
    For his charming little dear,--
  Aucassin and his loving Nicolette?


               III.

    For, my lords, I tell you true
    That you never saw or knew,
  Man or woman so ugly or so gray,
    Who would not all day long,
    Sit and listen to the song
  And the story that I tell you here to-day.

Now you must know, my lords and my ladies, that the Count Bougars de
Valence chose to make war with the Count Garin de Beaucaire. And the
war was so cruel, that the count never let one day go by, but that he
came thundering at the walls and barriers of the town, with a hundred
knights, and with ten thousand men-at-arms, on foot and on horseback,
who burned all the houses, and stole all the sheep, and killed all the
people that they could.

Now the Count Garin de Beaucaire was very old, and was sadly broken
with years. He had used his time very ill, had the Count de Beaucaire.
And the old wretch had no heir, either son or daughter, except one boy,
whose name was

  AUCASSIN.

Aucassin was gentle and handsome. He was tall and well made. His legs
were good, and his feet were good; his body was good, and his arms were
good. His hair was blonde, a little curly. His eyes were like gray fur,
for they were near silver, and near blue, and they laughed when you
looked at them. His nose was high and well placed. His face was clear
and winning. Yes, and he had everything charming, and nothing bad about
him. But this young man was so wholly conquered by love (who conquers
everybody), that he would not occupy himself in any other thing. He
would not be a knight; he would not take arms; he would not go to the
tourneys; he would not do any of the things he ought to do.

His father was very much troubled by this, and he said to him one
morning,--

"My son, take your arms, mount your horse, defend your country, protect
your people. If they only see you in the midst of them, this will give
them more courage; they will fight all the better for their lives and
their homes, for your land and mine."

"Father," said Aucassin, "why do you say this to me?

"May God never hear my prayers, if I ever mount horse, or go to tourney
or to battle, before you have yourself given to me my darling
Nicolette,--my sweetheart whom I love so dearly."

"My son," said the father to him, "this cannot be.

"Give up forever your dreams of this captive girl, whom the Saracens
brought from some strange land, and sold to the viscount here.

"He trained her; he baptized her; she is his god-child.

"Some day he will give her to some brave fellow who will have to gain
his bread by his sword.

"But you, my son, when the time comes that you wish to take a wife, I
will give you some king's daughter, or at least the daughter of a
count.

"There is not in all France a man so rich that you may not marry his
daughter, if you choose."

So said the old man. But Aucassin replied,--

"Alas, my father! there is not in this world the principality which
would not be honored, if my darling Nicolette, my sweetest, went to
live there.

"If she were queen of France or of England, if she were empress of
Germany or of Constantinople, she could not be more courteous or more
gracious; she could not have sweeter ways or greater virtues."

  [_Now they sing it._]

    All the night and all the day
    Aucassin would beg and pray,--
  "Oh, my father! give my Nicolette to me."
    Then his mother came to say,--
  "What is it that my foolish boy can see?"

    "Nicolette is sweet and gay."

    "But Nicolette's a slave.
    If a wife my boy would have,
  Let him choose a lady fair of high degree."
    "Oh, no! my mother, no!
    For I love my darling so!
    Her face is always bright,
    And her footstep's always light;
    And I cannot let my dainty darling go.
  No, mother dear, she rules my heart;
  No, mother dear, we cannot part."

  [_Now they speak it, and talk it, and tell it._]

When the Count Garin de Beaucaire saw that he could not drag Nicolette
out from the heart of Aucassin, he went to find the viscount, who was
his vassal; and he said to him,--

"Sir Viscount, we must get rid of your god-child Nicolette.

"Cursed be the country where she was born! for she is the reason why I
am losing my Aucassin, who ought to be a knight, and who refuses to do
what he ought to do.

"If I can catch her, I will burn her at the stake, and I will burn you
too."

"My lord," replied the viscount, "I am very sorry for what has
happened; but it is no fault of mine.

"I bought Nicolette with my money; I trained her; I had her baptized;
and she is my god-child.

"I wanted to marry her to a fine young man of mine, who would gladly
have earned her bread for her, which is more than your son Aucassin
could do.

"But, since your wish and your pleasure are what they are, I will send
this god-child of mine away to such a land, in such a country, that
Aucassin shall never set his eyes upon her again."

"See that you do so!" cried the Count Garin to the viscount, "or great
misfortunes will come to you."

So saying, he left his vassal.

Now the viscount had a noble palace, of high walls, surrounded by a
thickly planted garden. He put Nicolette into one of the rooms of this
palace, in the very highest story.

She had an old woman for her only companion, with enough bread and meat
and wine, and everything else that they needed to keep them alive.

Then he fastened and concealed the door, so that no one could go in;
and he left no other opening but the window, which was very narrow, and
opened on the garden.

  [_Now they sing it._]

  Nicolette was put in prison;
    And a vaulted room
  Wonderfully built and painted
    Was her prison home.

  The pretty maiden came
  To the marble window-frame:
    Her hair was light,
    Her eyes were bright,
  And her face was a charming face to see.
    No; never had a knight a maid
  With such a charming face to see.

    She looked into the garden close,
    And there she saw the open rose,
    Heard the thrushes sing and twitter,--
    And she sang in accent bitter,--
  "Oh! why am I a captive here?
    Why locked up in cruel walls?
  Aucassin, my sweetheart dear,
    Whom my heart its master calls,
  I have been your sweetheart for this livelong year:
    That is why I've come
    To this vaulted room;
  But by God, the son of Mary, no!
  I will not be captured so,
  If only I can break away, and go."

  [_Now they speak it, and talk it, and tell it._]

So Nicolette was put in prison, as you have just heard; and soon a cry
and noise ran through the country that she was lost. Some said that she
had run away; others said that the Count Garin de Beaucaire had killed
her.

All in despair at the joy which this news seemed to cause to some
people, Aucassin went to find the viscount of the town.

"Lord Viscount," he asked him, "what have you done with Nicolette, my
sweetest love, the thing in all the world which I love best?

"You have stolen her!

"Be sure, Viscount, that, if I die of this, the blame shall fall on
you.

"For surely it is you who tear away my life in tearing away my darling
Nicolette!"

"Fair sir," answered the viscount, "do let this Nicolette alone, for
she is not worthy of you. She is a slave whom I have bought with my
_deniers_; and she must serve as a wife to a young fellow of her own
state, to a poor man, and not to a lord like you, who ought to marry
none but a king's daughter, or at least a count's daughter.

"What should you be doing for yourself, if you did make a lady of this
vile creature, and marry her?

"Then would you be very happy indeed, very happy; for your soul would
abide forever in hell, and never should you enter into paradise."

"Into paradise?" repeated Aucassin angrily. "And what have I to do
there? I do not care to go there if it be not with Nicolette, my
sweetest darling whom I love so much.

"Into paradise? And do you know who those are that go there,--you who
think it is a place where I must wish to go? They are old priests, old
cripples, old one-eyed men, who lie day and night before the altars,
sickly, miserable, shivering, half-naked, half-fed, dead already before
they die. These are they who go to paradise; and they are such pitiful
companions, that I do not desire to go to paradise with them.

"But to hell would I gladly go; for to hell go the good clerks, and the
fair knights slain in battle and in great wars, the brave
sergeants-at-arms, and the men of noble lineage; and with all these
would I gladly go."

"Stop!" says the viscount. "All which you can say, and nothing at all,
are exactly the same thing. Never shall you see Nicolette again.

"What you and I may get for this would not be pleasant, if you still
will be complaining.

"We all might be burned by your father's command,--Nicolette, you, and
I myself into the bargain."

"Despair!" said Aucassin to himself. And he left the viscount, who was
quite as much disturbed as he.

  [_Now they sing it._]

  Then Aucassin went home;
  But his heart was wrung with fear
  By the parting from his dainty dear,
    His dainty dear so fair,
    Whom he sought for everywhere;
  But nowhere could he find her, far or near.

  To his palace he has come,
    And he climbs up every stair:
  He hides him in his room,
    And weeps in his despair.

    "Oh, my Nicolette!" said he,
  "So dear and sweet is she!
    So sweet for that, so sweet for this,
    So sweet to speak, so sweet to kiss,
  So sweet to come, so sweet to stay,
  So sweet to sing, so sweet to play,
    So sweet when there, so sweet when here,
    Oh, my darling! Oh, my dear!
    Where are you, my sweet, while I
    Sit and weep so near to die,
  Because I cannot find my darling dear?"[1]

  [_Now they speak it, and talk it, and tell it._]

[Footnote 1: The original is very pretty, and can be guessed out, even
by the unlearned reader:--

  "Nicolete biax esters,
   Biax venir et biax alers
   Biax déduis et dous parlers,
   Biax borders et biax jouers,
   Biax baisiers, biax acolers."

_Biax_ is _beata_.]

Now, while Aucassin was mourning thus in his room, always grieving for
Nicolette his love, the Count Bougars de Valence was keeping up his war
against the Count Garin de Beaucaire.

He had drawn out his footmen and his horsemen to assault the castle;
and the defendants of the castle seized their arms to meet him, and ran
to the gates and walls where they thought the besiegers would attack.
The people of the town followed the knights and the sergeants: they
mounted the ramparts, and poured down a storm of quarrels and javelins.

In the very most terrible moment of the assault, the Count Garin de
Beaucaire came into the room where Aucassin was grieving in his sorrow
for his sweet darling, Nicolette.

"Oh, my boy!" he said, "what are you doing here while your castle is
besieged, good and strong though it be? Do you know, that, if you lose
it, you are disinherited? Boy, take your arms, mount your horse, defend
your lands, and lead your men to battle. As soon as they see you in the
midst of them, they will bravely defend their homes and their lives,
your lands and mine. You are tall and strong; and you ought to show
that you are."

"Father," replied Aucassin, "what are you talking about? May God refuse
me all that I may ever ask him, if I consent to be made a knight, to
mount a horse, or to go to fight, before you have given me Nicolette,
my darling sweetheart!"

"Boy," replied his father, "this cannot be. I had rather be
disinherited, and lose all I have, than that you should have her for
your wife."

On this the Count Garin de Beaucaire turned away. But Aucassin called
him back, and said to him, "Come, father, I beg you! I have one
condition to propose to you."

"What is that, dear boy?"

"It is this. I will take my arms, I will mount my horse, and I will do
my duty bravely, on condition that, if God bring me out of the battle
unhurt, you will let me see my darling sweetheart, Nicolette, and
embrace her. There shall be time to say two or three words to her, and
to kiss her once."

"I grant it willingly," said the father; and he went away.

  [_Now they sing it._]

  Not diamonds bright, or heaps of gold
    Would give to you such bliss
  As blessed this boy when he was told
    The way to earn a kiss.

  They quickly brought him arms of steel,
    His helmet and his crest;
  Upon his head the helmet laced;
  And then a double hauberk braced
    Across his breast.

  He springs upon his charger white;
  And when he glances on his feet
  His greaves are tight and silver bright:
  His darling dear he thinks upon;
  He spurs his war-horse fleet,
  And rushes straight before him down
        To the fight.

  [_Here they speak it, and talk it, and tell it._]

Aucassin was armed, then, as you have heard.

How bright his shield, as it hung from his neck! how well his helmet
fitted his head! and how his sword clanged, hanging upon his thigh!

The young man was tall, strong, handsome, and well armed. His horse was
swift; and he was soon at the castle-gate.

Now, do not go and think that he was thinking the least in the world of
capturing oxen or cows or goats! No, nor of giving mortal blows to the
knights or the other soldiers of Count Bougars de Valence!

Oh, no, not he! He had something else in his head and in his heart; for
he was thinking of Nicolette, his darling sweetheart. So he even forgot
to hold up his reins; and his horse, as soon as he once felt the spurs,
carried him in full _mêlée_ into the very middle of his enemies.

They were overjoyed at such luck. They surrounded him, and seized his
lance and his shield, and, as they led him away prisoner, began to ask
each other with what death they would make him die.

"Alas!" said Aucassin to himself, "these are my mortal enemies, who are
leading me away to cut off my head. But, if my head is cut off, I shall
never be able to speak again to Nicolette, my darling sweetheart."

Then he added, "I still have my good sword. I am mounted on a strong
horse. If he does not save me from the _mêlée_, it is because he never
loved me, and then may God never help him!"

So he grasped his sword in his hand, and drove his spurs into his
horse's side again, and struck to right, and struck to left, and cut
and thrust. At every blow, he chopped off heads and arms, and all
around him he made the place bloody and empty, as a boar does when he
is assailed by dogs in a forest. Ten knights were thus maimed, and
seven others were wounded. Then he withdrew at once from the _mêlée_
with his horse at full gallop, still grasping his sword in his hand.

Now the Count Bougars de Valence had heard they had captured his enemy
Aucassin, and that they were going to hang him. He came up there at
just this moment. Aucassin recognized him, and struck him a heavy blow
with his sword full on his helmet, so that it was crushed down upon his
head, and he fell stunned upon the ground. Then the young man took him
by the hand to help him up, and, as soon as he could stand, took him by
the nose-piece of his helmet, and led him, without more ado, to his
father, the Count Garin de Beaucaire, to whom he said,--

"Father, here is your enemy, who has fought so long against you, and
done you so much mischief. This war which he has made against you has
lasted now for twenty years, and no one has been able to bring it to a
good end. But I hope it is finished to-day."

"Dear son," replied the old count, "such feats of youth as this are
worth much more than your foolish loves."

"Father," replied Aucassin, "do not begin to preach to me, I beg you.
Think, rather, of keeping the promise which you gave to me."

"What promise, my dear boy?"

"What! have you already forgotten it, my father? By my head! forget it
who will, I shall remember it. What! my father, do you not remember,
that when I consented to arm myself, and go and fight this count's
people, it was on condition that, if God should bring me out of the
battle unhurt, you would let me see my darling sweetheart, Nicolette,
and say two or three words to her, and kiss her once? As you promised
this, my father, so you must perform."

"I hear," replied the count; "but I do not understand. It is impossible
that I ever promised anything so foolish. Why, if your Nicolette was
here, I should burn her without pity, and you yourself might expect the
same fate."

"Is that all, my father?" said Aucassin.

"Yes," replied the count.

"_Certes_" replied the boy, "I am very sorry to see a man of your age
such a liar!"

Then he turned towards the Count de Valence, and said to him, "Count de
Valence, are you not my prisoner?"

"Certainly."

"Give me your hand, then, I beg you."

"Gladly," replied the count; and he placed his hand in Aucassin's.

Aucassin replied, "Count de Valence, pledge me your faith that,
whenever you have the wish or the power to shame my father, or to hurt
him, in his person or in his goods, you will do so."

"_Pardieu_, sir! do not mock me, but name my ransom. Ask for gold or
silver, horses or palfreys, dogs or birds, and I will try to give you
what you ask. This is another thing."

"What!" cried Aucassin, "do you not own yourself my prisoner?"

"Indeed I do," cried the Count de Bougars.

"Well, if you will not take the oath I demand, your head shall fly
off."

"Enough! I take the oath you exact," said the count quickly.

Then Aucassin ordered a horse for him, mounted another, and led him to
a place of safety.

  [_Now they sing it._]

      Now when the Count Garin
      Finds out that Aucassin
        His darling sweet
        Will not forget,
  His darling of the charming face,
      He claps him in a dungeon,
      In a cellar underground,
  All walled in with heavy stones,
      Built double thick around;
        And my wretched Aucassin
        So sad as now had never been.

       "Oh, my darling Nicolette!"
        In his misery said he,
 "My darling dear of charming face,
        My darling _fleur de lis_,
        My darling sweeter than the grape,
          My darling, list to me,
  Imprisoned in this horrid place.

 "The other day a pilgrim gray
  From Limousin had made his way,
  And on the straw the poor man lay,
  So sick was he, and near to die.
      But Nicolette passed by his door.
  The pilgrim heard my darling's feet
      Pit-pat across the floor;
  He saw my darling's little cloak
      Her cape so white, her ermine bright;
  And though no word she spoke,
  Yet, when he saw my darling sweet,
  The poor old pilgrim raised his head,
  And, cured by her, he left his bed,
  And took his staff, and took his way,
      And found his home once more.

 "Oh, darling dear! oh, _fleur de lis!_
  So sweet to come, so sweet to stay,
  So sweet to sing, so sweet to play,
  So sweet for that, so sweet for this,
  So sweet to speak, so sweet to kiss,
  Who is there who my love can see,
  And hate a girl so sweet as she?
  For you, dear child, your love is bound
  In this dungeon underground:
  Here they will see me die alone
      For you, my _fleur de lis!_"

  [_Now they speak it, and talk it, and tell it._]

Aucassin was thrown into prison, as you have just heard. And Nicolette,
on her part, was still in the vaulted room, imprisoned also.

It was in the summer-time in the month of May, when the days are so
warm, and so long, and so full of light, and the nights so sweet and so
serene. Nicolette lay in her bed, and saw the moon shine clear through
the window, and heard the nightingale sing among the trees of the
garden. She remembered Aucassin, the friend she loved so well, and she
began to sigh tenderly. Then she thought upon the deadly hatred of the
Count Garin de Beaucaire, and she knew that she was lost if she
remained in this room, and that her dear Aucassin would be lost also if
he remained in his dungeon.

Then she looked at the old woman who was set to guard her, and she saw
that she was asleep. Nicolette rose quickly, threw a fine silk mantle
which she had saved over her shoulders, took the sheets and coverlet of
her bed, made of them as long a rope as she could, and tied it to the
window-post. When she had done this, she seized it with both hands, one
above, and one below, and slid down upon the turf, which was covered
with dew.

Thus she descended into the garden.

Nicolette's hair was blonde, fine, and curly; her eyes were soft and
laughing; her complexion was fair and fresh; her nose high and well
placed; her lips were redder than cherries and roses in summer-time,
and her teeth white and small. You could span her little waist with
your two hands; and the daisies which she broke when she stepped upon
them, as they fell back upon her ankles, seemed black against her feet,
so fair was this girl.

She went to the garden-gate and opened it; she walked through the
streets of Beaucaire by the light of the moon, and strayed here, and
strayed there, till she found the tower in which was her sweetheart,
Aucassin. Now, this tower had loopholes in it on each side.

Nicolette crept in behind one of the pillars, and wrapped herself in
her mantle, and thrust her blonde head into one of the crevices, so
that she could hear the voice of her dear Aucassin, who was weeping
within bitterly, in great grief for the loss of his darling sweetheart,
who was absent from his eyes. And, when Nicolette had heard him, she
resolved to speak to him, in turn.

  [_Now they sing it._]

      Nicolette, of lovely face,
      Rested in this darksome place,
          Against a pillar, where
      The heavy wall her lover kept:
      She heard her darling as he wept
          In his despair.

  Then, in turn, to him she cried,
     "Aucassin, of noble race,
      Freeman born, and proud of place,
  Why should you complain and grieve,
  Because you must your sweetheart leave?
      Your father fain would burn me,
      And all your kinsmen spurn me.
  From you, my darling love, I flee:
  I shall go and cross the sea,
  In other lands than this to be."

  Then she cut off her golden hair,
  And threw it to her lover there.
      Each heavy lock, each pretty curl,
          Aucassin in rapture prest,
          And hid them on his panting breast,
      While he wept in his despair
          For his darling girl.

  [_Now they speak it, and talk it, and tell it._]

Now, when Aucassin heard Nicolette say that she going to another
country, he was very much distressed.

"My darling sweetheart," he said, "you shall never go; for that would
be to give me my death-blow, and the most cruel death-blow of all. The
first man that saw you would take you for his own; and, when I heard
that, I should plunge my knife into my heart. No, I would not do that!
I would run with all my might against a wall or a rock, and I would
throw myself head first upon it, with such a plunge, that my eyes
should spring out, and I would brain myself. I would rather by a
hundred times die such a death, than know that you belonged to any
other man!"

"Aucassin," replied Nicolette, "I do not believe that you love me as
much as you say; but I am quite sure that I love you more than you love
me."

"Never!" replied Aucassin. "Oh, my darling sweetheart! you cannot love
me more than I love you. No woman can love man as man loves woman; for
woman's love is in her eye, it is in the tip of her toe, and the end of
her finger: but man's love is in the bottom of his heart, and so firmly
does it grow there, that it can never be uprooted."

So did Aucassin and Nicolette talk together when the watchmen of the
town came up by the next street, with their swords hidden under their
cloaks.

Now, the Count Garin had bidden these people kill Nicolette if they
could take her; and just as they were coming up where they would see
her, and run to seize her, the lookout on the tower saw them.

"What a pity," cried he, "to kill so pretty a girl as this! It would be
a mercy to warn her before these wretches see her. For, as soon as they
kill her, my boy Aucassin will die; and that would be a pity,
_certes!_"

  [_Now they sing it._]

  Now, I tell you that this lookout
      Was as courteous as brave,
  And so this song the man began,
      Poor Nicolette to save,--
     "Oh, my pretty girl!" said he,
 "Whose heart can beat so true and free,
  Whose eyes are bright, whose form is light,
  And whose face is so sweet to see,
      I know you're watching there
      For your lover underground;
      He weeps for you in his despair,
      Bolted, barred, and bound.
      Now, maiden, list to me:
      Of the night-watch beware,
      For they are passing by,
      A hidden sword on every thigh;
      Hide yourself as they pass by;
      Maiden, beware."

  [_Now they speak it, and talk it, and tell it._]

"Ah!" replied Nicolette to the lookout, "may God grant eternal repose
to the souls of your father and of your mother for this kindly warning
you have given to me! I will take care of the rascals, whoever they may
be; and in this the good God will help me."

So saying, she wrapped herself in her mantle as closely as she could,
and hid herself silently in the shadow of the pillar. So she waited
till the watchmen had passed by; and, when she thought them far enough
gone, she took leave of Aucassin, and went her way.

So she came to the castle walls. Now these were broken in many of the
joints; and the active girl was able to let herself down, with the help
of her hands, as a little four-footed kid would have done. But, when
she was half-way down, she looked into the ditch, and she was
frightened to see how sheer and steep it was.

"Oh, my dear Maker God!" she whispered, "if I let myself fall, I shall
break my neck; if I stay where I am, they will seize me, and burn me:
well, one death with another, I had rather run the risk of being killed
than serve as a sight for all the people to-morrow."

So she made the sign of the cross, and let herself slide down the face
of the wall to the very bottom of the ditch. Then she looked at her
pretty feet and her pretty hands, which had never known what it was to
be wounded before. They were all scratched and torn; and the blood
flowed from them in a dozen places. But Nicolette felt no pain, because
she was still so much afraid; for she had only succeeded in getting
into the ditch, and now she must get out again.

The bold girl tried here, and she tried there; for she knew that it was
a bad place to stay in; and at last she found one of the pointed
stakes, which the defenders of the castle had thrown down on the
besiegers when they were attacked. This she took, and with its aid she
clambered up the reverse of the ditch, step after step. And soon she
was at the top, though not without great pains.

The woods were two arbalist shots away from her,--woods which stretched
thirty leagues this way, and thirty leagues that way, all haunted by
wild beasts and venomous serpents. Poor Nicolette was frightened to
death when she thought of them, because she did not want to be eaten
alive; but still she pressed on, because she had no more wish to be
burned alive.

  [_Now they sing it._]

  Nicolette, of lovely face,
    Clambered from the ditch so deep,
    And then began to wail and weep,
  And to Jesus Christ to cry:--

    "Father, king of majesty,
        I do not know
        Where I shall go;
    For if, in flight, I should
    Lose me in the wood,
    The boars and lions grim
    Would tear me limb from limb;
  But if men find me anywhere,
    And to the town I am returned,
  They'll light a fire in the square,
  And to the stake will tie me there,
    And my body will be burned.

     "No, my God, no!
      Hear me as I cry;
    It shall not be so;
      Better far that I
    By the wolves be hunted down,
    Than go captive to the town
        So to die!

    "I will not go."

  [_Now they tell it, and speak it, and talk it._]

Nicolette grieved, as you have heard, and then commended herself to
God, and plunged into the woods, but did not dare go too far in, for
fear of beasts and snakes.

She walked along for some time by the edge of the wood, frightened to
death, starting at the slightest sound, and then going forward again
with the utmost care. She walked this way and that, till she was so
tired that she could walk no longer, and she lay down on a smooth bed
of grass, and went to sleep; and there she slept till morning.

Early in the morning some shepherds passed by, on their way towards the
town, as they were driving their sheep and herds to feed between the
woods and the river. Now there was a fresh fountain near the place
where Nicolette was lying; and it happened that the shepherds came to
the fountain, and spread a cloak on the grass, and put their bread upon
it, and sat down there for their simple breakfast.

While they were eating it, Nicolette was wakened by their talk, and by
the song of the birds who were twittering in the branches.

She went to the shepherds, and spoke to the youngest of them, and
said,--

"Pretty boy, may our Lady Mary take care of you!"

"May God bless you!" replied this young shepherd, whose speech came
easier to him than the others.

"Pretty boy," said Nicolette, "do you know Aucassin, the son of Count
Garin, of Beaucaire?"

"Oh, yes! we know him."

"As you would have God bless you, pretty boy, tell him that there is a
strange wild beast in this wood; and that he ought to come out to hunt
for her; and that, if he takes her, he would not give one of her
limbs,--no, not for a hundred marks of gold, nor for five hundred
marks, nor for all the gold that can be told."

As she said this, the shepherds were looking at Nicolette, and were
wondering at her beauty.

"You speak false in saying this," said the shepherd, who had his tongue
more at command than the others had; "for there is not in all this
forest a single lion, or boar, or stag, or any other brute, so rare,
that one of his limbs should be worth more than two deniers, or three
at most. And you talk of such sums of money, that no one will believe a
word you say. You are a fairy, and no human creature. We do not want
your company; and so go your way."

"Ah, pretty boy!" said Nicolette again, "do what I bid you in the name
of God; for the creature of which I speak to you has such power, that
she can cure Aucassin of this trouble in which he is now. I have five
sous in my purse, take them, and say to him, that, for three days, he
must come to hunt for this creature in this forest; that, if he do not
find her in three days at most, he will never be cured from his pain."

"By my faith!" said the young shepherd, "we will take your money. If
Aucassin passes this way, we will tell him what you say; but we will
not go to find him."

"God bless you!" said Nicolette. And so she bade the shepherds good-by
courteously.

  [_Now they sing it._]

  Nicolette of lovely face
    Bade the shepherd boys good-day,
  And through the forest took her way,
    Till she came to a crossing-place,
  Where seven roads met in the wood;
  There, all alone, she thought it good
    Her lover's love to try.

  She gathers store of _fleurs-de-lis_
        And thyme and brake,
        And many leaves,
        Her hut to make;
        And from all these she weaves
  The prettiest hut your eyes did ever see.

    And then, by every saint above,
    The pretty builder swore,
      That, if her darling dear
      Should never enter here,
    She would not be his darling more,
      Nor should he be her love.

  [_Now they speak it, and talk it, and tell it._]

Nicolette having thus made her little hut, and thatched it thickly on
the inside and on the outside with fresh leaves and fragrant flowers,
hid herself under a bush to see what Aucassin would do.

Now the rumor ran through all the country that Nicolette was lost. Some
said that she had escaped, and others said that the Count Garin had
killed her.

If everybody else had been sure of this, Aucassin would not have been.
But of this he gave no sign. And his father, well pleased to be rid of
Nicolette, ordered that he should be released from prison, and bade all
the knights and damsels of the country give _fêtes_ for him, which
might distract him.

The day when Nicolette disappeared, when the court of the count was
crowded with knights and ladies, Aucassin was leaning against a pillar,
all dejected, and out of his senses with sorrow, and only thinking of
her he loved.

A knight who saw how melancholy he was came to him and said,--

"Aucassin, I have been sick of the same disease as you, so that I know
how to give you good advice, if you will only hear me."

"Thank you, sir!" said Aucassin; "for indeed I am greatly in need of
good advice and cure."

Then the knight said, "Mount your horse, and go into the woods yonder.
The sight of the plains, the sweet odor of the plants, and the songs of
the little birds will all comfort you, believe me."

"Thank you, indeed, sir!" said Aucassin. "I will gladly do so."

So he went out from the hall at once, and went down the steps, hurried
to the stable, and put saddle and bridle on one of his horses, which
was waiting there. He put his foot in the stirrup, sprang upon the
noble beast, and rode out from the castle walls. Once outside, he
remembered the advice which the knight had given to him, and went
straight to the woods. Here he soon met the shepherds seated on the
grass around the spring, eating their bread with great joy; for it was
now noon.

  [_Now they sing it._]

      All the shepherd-boys had met,
      Esmeret and Martinet,
      Johannot and Fruclinet,
      Aubuget and Robecon.
  By the spring they sat; and one
  With the sweetest voice began,
  "God bless Master Aucassin,
  And the girl so fair and bright,
  With teeth so white, and eyes so gray,
  Who to us this blessed day
          The money brought,
          With which we bought
  Cakes to eat, and pipes to play,
  Flutes and horns and whittles good,
  And heavy mauls to cleave the wood.
      May God cure him!
        May God cure her!
          This is what I say."

  [_Now they tell it, and say it, and talk it._]

When Aucassin heard the shepherds singing this, he thought in a moment
that his sweetheart Nicolette, his well-beloved, had passed that way.
To make sure of this, he hastened to them.

"God bless you, my fine boys!" he cried.

"God care for you!" replied he whose speech came easiest to him.

"My good boys," said Aucassin, "sing me the song again which you were
singing just now."

"No, my fine lord, we will not sing it again; and cursed be he who
shall sing it to you!"

"My fine fellows, do you not know me?"

"We know you very well, sir: we know that you are Aucassin, our young
gentleman. But we are not your men; we are the count's men."

"I beg you to do what I ask you."

"Why should I sing for you, if I do not choose to sing? It is very true
that the Count of Garin is the richest man in all this country; but if
he found one of my oxen or cows or sheep, in his grazing-lands or in
his grain, he would make their eyes fly out. Why should I sing for you,
then, if I choose to hold my tongue?"

"May God bless you, my boys!" said Aucassin again. "See, here are ten
sols which I have found in my pocket. Take them, and sing to me again
the song I heard you sing just now."

"Sir," said the shepherd, "I will take your money; but I will not sing
to you, because I have sworn that I will not. I will do what I can; and
I will tell it to you, if you please."

"_Pardieu!_" cried Aucassin, "I had rather hear your story than hear
nothing."

"Sir," said the shepherd again, "we were sitting here by the spring,
just as we are now. It was between the first hour and the third hour.
We were eating our bread here, when there came up a girl who was the
most beautiful creature in the world, so that we thought she was a
fairy; for the whole wood was lighted up by her.

"She gave us so much of her money that we promised her that, if you
passed by here, we would tell you that you must go and hunt in the
forest; and that there was such a creature, that, if you caught her,
you would not sell one of her joints,--no, not for five hundred marks
of silver,--and also that you would be cured of your disease. She also
said that, if you did not catch this creature before three days had
passed, you would never see her. Go to the hunt, then, if you please,
or do not go to the hunt, if you do not please: as to that, I have
nothing to do. I have told my message."

"You have said quite enough, my boys," replied Aucassin. "God grant
that I may meet her!"

  [_Now they sing it._]

      Aucassin most gladly heard
      Every sweet and loving word
  Of his darling of the charming face:
      In his heart they pierced him so,
        That he left the shepherds good,
        And plunged into the deepest wood,
      Where'er his horse might choose to go.

        "O Nicolette, my sweet!"
  He sighed as sadly as before,
        "It is you I hope to meet:
  I do not hunt nor deer or boar.
        In this forest black
        It is you I track,
  That I this blessed day
        Your pretty smile may greet,
  May see your pretty eyes of gray;
        See you, my darling sweet!
  For oh! the Almighty I implore
  That I may see your face once more,
        My dear!"

  [_Now they tell it, and speak it, and talk it._]

Aucassin wandered here and there in the forest, just as his horse might
carry him. Do not think that the brambles and briers spared him. I can
tell you that they tore his clothes so that he had hardly a rag left
upon him. And the blood ran down his arms, his sides, and his legs, in
thirty or forty different places; so that you might have tracked him in
the wood by the red drops which he left on the grass wherever he went.
But Aucassin was all the time thinking of his darling sweetheart
Nicolette, so that he did not once feel any pain.

So he travelled through the forest all day long, without gaining any
news of his beautiful sweetheart; and, when he saw the night coming on,
he began to weep bitterly.

As he was riding along through an old path, where the bushes had grown
up thick and high, he saw before him, right in the middle of the road,
a man whom I will describe to you.

He was large, and marvellously ugly. His face was blacker than broiled
meat, and it was so large that there was a palm-breadth between his two
eyes. His cheeks were enormous; and so were his nostrils and his nose,
which was flat; his lips were big, and redder than coals; and he had
frightful great yellow teeth. He had on sandals of leather, and greaves
of leather, which were tied with thongs up to his knees. He was covered
with a great double cloak, and was resting on a heavy club.

Aucassin was frightened, and said to him, "Good brother, may God help
you!"

"God bless you!" replied the other.

"What are you doing there?" said Aucassin.

"What affair is that of yours?"

"I only ask with good will."

"Well, why are you mourning and weeping so? If I were as rich a man as
you are, I am sure nothing in the world would make me weep."

"How do you know me, then?"

"I know that you are Aucassin, the son of the count; and, if you will
tell me why you weep, I will tell you why I am here."

"I am very glad to tell you. I came out to hunt this morning. I had a
white harrier, the prettiest dog in the whole world; and I have lost
him. That is the reason why I am weeping."

"What! For a miserable dog will you use the tears in your eyes or the
heart in your breast? You are a poor creature to be weeping so--and you
the richest man in the country! If your father wanted fifteen or twenty
white harriers, he could have them in a minute. Now I am in sorrow for
something real."

"What is that?"

"I am going to tell you, sir. I was hired by a rich farmer here to
drive his cart, which was drawn by four oxen. It is three days since I
lost the red ox, who was the finest of the four. I went here, and I
went there; I left my wagon, and sought everywhere for the beast, but I
could not find him. It is three days since I ate anything or drank
anything; and here I stray about, for I do not dare go into the town.
They would put me in prison; for I have nothing to pay with. All my
wealth is what you see upon my body. I have a mother. She, poor woman,
was not richer than I. All she had was an old petticoat to cover her
poor old body; and they pulled that off her back, and now she is lying
in the straw. That troubles me more than my condition. For money comes
and goes. If I lose to-day, I will gain to-morrow; and, when I can pay
for the ox, I will. I will never shed a tear for such a trifle as that.
And here are you crying for a lost dog! You are a poor creature!"

"_Certes_, my good fellow, you are a good comforter," said Aucassin.
"May God bless you! Tell me, how much was the red ox worth?"

"They charge me twenty sols for him, sir; nor can I beat them down a
doit."

"Here are twenty sols which I have in my purse; take them, and pay for
your ox."

"Thank you, indeed, sir!" said the man, "and may God send you that you
are looking for!" So saying, he took leave; and Aucassin went on upon
his way.

The night was fine and clear. Aucassin rode and rode for a long time;
and after he had passed from one road to another, and from one path to
another, he came at last to Nicolette's little lodge.

Inside and outside, before and behind, it had flowers marvellous sweet
and lovely to the eye. A ray of moonlight lighted it up, so that
Aucassin saw the pretty lodge, and stopped in a minute.

"Ah!" said he, "nobody but my darling Nicolette made this bower; and
she has made it with her own pretty hands. For her sake and in memory
of her I will dismount now; and I will spend the night here."

So saying, he took his foot from the stirrup, that he might dismount.
But alas! he was thinking of nothing but Nicolette, and was taking no
care of himself. Besides, his horse was large and was high; and so it
happened that he fell upon a stone, and fell so hard that he put his
shoulder out of joint.

All wounded as he was, still he was able to fasten the horse to a tree
with his other arm. Then he went back to the lodge, and entered it, and
lay upon his back, and looked up at the blue sky and the golden stars
through a hole in the roof of his fragrant retreat. As he lay and
looked, he saw one star brighter than all the others. Then, with a
sigh, he began to sing.

  [_Now they sing it._]

  Star of light, which I behold
    With the Queen of Light,
  Nicolette of locks of gold
    Is with thee to-night.
          Oh! if I were there in bliss
            In thy still home above,
          How gladly would I pet and kiss
            My sweetest love!

  [_Now they tell it, and speak it, and talk it._]

When Nicolette heard Aucassin, she ran to him; for she was not far off.
She entered the lodge, and threw her beautiful arms around his neck,
kissed him, and embraced him most tenderly.

"Well found, dear sweet friend!" said she.

"And you, my darling, you are well found!" and so they kissed again and
again with infinite joy.

"O my darling," said Aucassin, "my shoulder is sadly wounded. But, now
I am with you, I know no pain nor grief."

Nicolette, when she heard this, felt of the place, and found, indeed,
that the shoulder was out of joint. Then she tore a piece of linen, and
placed in it a tuft of flowers and fresh herbs, and placed it on the
sick place; and so she tended it and bandaged it with her white hands,
that, with the aid of God, who cares for lovers, she cured him.

"Aucassin, my darling," said she, "what will you do now? If your father
searches this wood to-morrow, he will find us. I do not know what will
happen to you; but for me, I know I shall be killed."

"That is true, my darling," said Aucassin; "and that would be great
grief to me: but, as long as I can, I will defend you and save you."

So saying, he mounted his horse, took his sweetheart before him,
kissing her and embracing her; and so they rode across the country.

  [_Now they sing it._]

    Aucassin, the handsome boy,
    Glad with love and quick with joy,
    Leaves this bower of their rest;
    Nicolette he fondly prest
      In his arms upon his breast;
          He folded fast his pretty prize,
          Kissed her lips, and kissed her eyes,
          Kissed her lovely face all over,--
          Laughing boy and happy lover.

  But all this must not last.
       "Dear Aucassin,"
        The girl began,
      "To what country shall we go?"
      "Dear child," said he, "how should I know?
        Little, dearest, do I care,
        How we go, or when, or where,--
        In this wood, or far away,
        If from you I do not stray."
    Then mountains high they passed,
        Passed through many lands,
    Till to the sea they found their way,
        And stood upon the sands
          By the shore.

  [_Now they tell it, and speak it, and talk it._]

Aucassin and his darling then dismounted. He took his horse by the
bridle, and her by the hand, and so they walked along the beach. By and
by they saw some sailors, and made signals to them, and the men landed,
and agreed to take them back with them to the ship.

As soon as they were at sea, a terrible storm arose, so wonderful that
it hurled them along from one country to another, till they came to a
harbor at the castle of Torelore.[2] They asked what country it was,
and were told it was the country of the King of Torelore. Then Aucassin
asked if he were at war; and they said he was, and that it was a very
cruel war. Then he thanked the sailors, and took leave of them; mounted
his horse, with Nicolette before him, and so rode towards the castle.

[Footnote 2: Torelore, or Turelure, so called, it is said, from the
singularities of the people. Now, _Turelure_ is the refrain of an old
French song, which means, "_always the same_," as; we might say, "So,
so, so, so, so." The place is _Aigues Mortes_, known to tourists, but
now five or six miles from the sea. Aigues Mortes was originally _Aquæ
Mortuæ_, the name of a land-locked seaport.--E. E. H.]

"Where is the king?" said he.

"He is in bed," they said.

"And where is his wife?" said Aucassin.

"She is in the army, where she leads all the people of the country."

When Aucassin heard this, he was very much amazed. He went to the
palace, dismounted with Nicolette, begged her to hold his horse, and,
with his sword at his side, went to the king's chamber. There he pulled
the clothes off the bed, and threw them into the middle of the room.
Then he seized a stick, and beat the king so heartily that you would
have thought he would kill him.

"Oh, oh, oh! my dear sir," cried the king. "What are you doing with me?
Are you crazy, to beat a man so in his own house?"

"By the heart of God!" replied Aucassin, "I will kill you, misbegotten
dog, if you do not swear that no man in this country shall ever lie in
bed as you do."

The king took the oath; and Aucassin then said, "Now take me to the
army, where your wife is."

"With pleasure," said the king.

Both went down to the court. The king mounted a horse, Aucassin mounted
his own; Nicolette took refuge in the queen's chamber; and both the men
went to the army. When they arrived, the battle was in all its fury.
The battle was fought with wild apples, eggs, and green cheeses.

  [_Now they sing it._]

  Aucassin, of noble blood,
  By the battling armies stood,
      And wondered at the sight;
  For men-at-arms were seen
      Keeping up the fight:
  With eggs they threw, with all their might,
  Apples raw and cheeses green!
      And the soldier who with these
      Most disturbed the fountain bright,
      He was deemed the bravest knight.
  Aucassin, of noble blood,
  Watched this battle where he stood,
      And laughed outright.

  [_Now they tell it, speak it, and talk it._]

Aucassin went to the king, and said to him, "Are these your enemies,
sir?"

"Yes," replied the king.

"Do you wish to have me avenge you?"

"Indeed I do!"

Then Aucassin drew his sword, plunged into the thick of the fight, and
cut and thrust from right to left; so that in almost no time he had
killed a great number.

"My dear sir," cried the king, seizing Aucassin's horse by the bridle,
"do not kill them in this way!"

"How else can I avenge you?" said Aucassin.

"Sir, you do too much. It is not our custom to kill each other in this
fashion: all that we do is to put the enemy to flight."

Then they returned to the Castle of Torelore, where the people of the
country advised the king to drive Aucassin out of his land, and to keep
this pretty girl Nicolette for his wife; for she seemed to them a lady
of high degree.

When Nicolette heard this, she was sorely grieved, and said,--

  [_Now they sing it._]

  "Sire, king of Torelore,
  Puissant prince and lord of glory,"
    Said the pretty Nicolette,
  "You think me like a fool in story:
  I am not one yet.
    Aucassin shall I forget,
    Who loves me as his own?
  Not all your shows and dances proud,
  Not all your harps and viols loud,
    Are worth my dear alone."

  [_Now they tell it, and speak it, and talk it._]

Aucassin and his darling Nicolette took great delight and ease in the
Castle of Torelore.

While they were there, some Saracens came up by sea, who assaulted the
castle, and took it by storm. As soon as they had taken it, they
carried off the people prisoners. They put Nicolette into one ship, and
Aucassin into another, tied hand and foot. Then they set sail again.

As they sailed, a violent storm arose; and the ships were separated
from each other. The ship in which Aucassin was was thrown so far at
the mercy of the waves that at last she came to the Castle of
Beaucaire.

The people of that country ran to the harbor; and when they recognized
Aucassin, they were very happy, for he had been away for three years,
and his father and mother were dead. They took him in triumph to the
Castle of Beaucaire, and acknowledged him as their lord and master in
place of the Count Garin. He took possession of his lands in peace.

  [_Now they sing it._]

  Aucassin did repair
  To his town of Beaucaire,
    And well governed kingdom and city.
  How glad would he be,
  If he only could see
    His own Nicolette so pretty!

   "Dear child of sweet face,
      How I wish that I knew
    To what sort of place
      I must go to find you!
    There is no land or sea
      God has made here below,
    Where to look after thee
      I would not gladly go."

  [_Now they tell it, they speak it, and talk it._]

We will leave Aucassin there, that we may tell about Nicolette.

The ship on which she had been taken away was that of the King of
Carthage and his twelve brothers, who were princes and kings like
himself. When they saw how beautiful Nicolette was, they did her great
honor, and asked who she was; for she seemed to them a noble lady of
high degree. But she could give them no account of herself, having been
carried from home when she was a very little girl.

Soon they came to Carthage. As soon as they saw the walls of the
castle, and all the country round about, Nicolette recollected that it
was here that she had been nursed, and had grown up, and that it was
here where she had been taken as a slave; for she had not been so young
but she remembered perfectly well that she had been daughter of the
King of Carthage.

  [_Now they sing it._]

    The wise Nicolette
      Walks up on the shores,
    And she does not forget
      The castles and towers.
        At first, the grand sight
        Filled the child with delight,
        Then she sighed, "Well-a-day!
        What would Aucassin say,
        My own darling knight,
  If he knew that the pirates, that terrible day,
  The Princess of Carthage had carried away?

     "Dear boy, thy heart's love
      Brings me sorrow and pain;
    May the good God above
      Let me see thee again!
        Come, fold me in thine own embrace,
          Kiss my lips, and kiss my eyes,
        Kiss again your sweetheart's face!"
          So his princess sadly cries
        To her lord and lover.

When Nicolette sang this, the King of Carthage heard her.

"My dear child," he cried, throwing his arms around her neck, "tell me
who you are, I beg you! Do not be afraid of me."

"Sir," replied Nicolette, "I am the daughter of the King of Carthage,
from whom I was stolen fifteen years ago."

It was easy for the king and his brothers to see that what Nicolette
said was true. So they took her to the palace, and made a great _fête_
for her, as was fitting for the daughter of a king. They wished to give
her for a wife to a king of the pagans; but she refused. She said she
did not yet wish to marry.

After three or four days, she thought of the way by which she could
gain some news of Aucassin. The only way she could think of was to
learn to play the violin; and one day, when they wanted to marry her to
a rich pagan prince, she ran away, and came to the harbor, where she
lodged with a poor old woman who lived there. Then she took a certain
herb, and squeezed the juice out of it; and with this juice she stained
her pretty face from top to bottom, so that all of a sudden it became
quite black. Then she made herself a tunic, a mantle, shirt, and
breeches, and so disguised herself as a minstrel; took her violin, and
went to a sailor, who, with some hesitation, agreed to take her into
his ship.

The sails were already set; and so swiftly did the ship sail here and
there through the high sea, that she arrived at the country of
Provence; and there Nicolette landed with her violin. Once on land, the
gentle girl began wandering through the country, playing her violin as
she went from this place to that, until she came to the Castle of
Beaucaire, where was Aucassin.

  [_Now they sing it._]

      Aucassin is sitting there
      At his castle at Beaucaire;
      All his barons brave surround him,
      Sweet the flowers and birds around him:
      But he is in despair.
          For Aucassin cannot forget
          His charming Nicolette,
          His darling fair.
      While he sighs, the girl has found him;
      For she stands upon the stair,
      Deftly tunes her viol-strings,
      And to the prince and barons sings:--

     "Wise and loyal knights,
      Hear my little lay:
  How Nicolette and Aucassin were kept so far apart,
  While he loved her, as she loved him, with all his heart,
      As you do not love every day.

     "One day the pagans made her slave
      In the tower of Torelore.
      Where was Aucassin the brave?
      I do not know his story.
      But Nicolette, of whom I sing,
      Is in Carthage bound,
      Where she has her father found,
  And where he reigns as king.
  He would give the maiden over
  To wed in pomp a pagan lover.
      But Nicolette says, No!
      She loves a damoiseau,
      Named Aucassin, and so
      She will wed no pagan hound,
      She waits alone till she has found
          Him whom she loves."

  [_Now they tell it, and speak it, and talk it._]

When Aucassin heard Nicolette sing this, he was full of joy. He led her
on one side, and said,--

"My good fellow, do you know anything more of this Nicolette, whose
story you have been singing to us?"

"Yes, sir: I know that she is the most constant, and the wisest
creature that ever was born, as well as the most beautiful. She is the
daughter of the King of Carthage, from whom she was stolen in her
childhood; and he, in turn, took her and Aucassin from the Castle of
Torelore. Glad was he, indeed, to find her; and now he wants to marry
her to one of the mightiest kings of Spain. But Nicolette would rather
be hanged and burned than consent to be the wife of any but Aucassin,
though she were asked to wed the most powerful and the richest prince
in the earth."

"My good fellow," cried Aucassin, "if you could only return to the
country where Nicolette now is, and tell her that I beg her to come
here to speak to me, I would gladly give you all you could ask, or all
you could take of what I have. For love of her, I shall take no other
wife, of however high degree; for I shall never have any except her,
whom here I wait for, and whom I should have gone to seek, had I only
known where to find her."

"Sir, if you have thus determined, I will go and seek Nicolette, for
your sake and for her sake, for I love her truly."

Then Aucassin swore that this was his dearest thought and wish; and he
gave to the minstrel twenty livres.

As the minstrel turned away, she saw that he was weeping, so strong was
his passion.

So she turned on her steps, and said, "Do not be distressed, sir. I
promise you I will bring her before long."

Aucassin thanked her; and Nicolette at once withdrew, and went to the
house of the viscountess, the wife of the viscount, her godfather. He
was dead. At this house Nicolette lodged: she made a confidante of his
widow, and told her the whole story.

Her mistress recognized her readily as being the Nicolette whom she had
educated. She bade her wash herself and bathe, and rest for a week.
Then she anointed her face with the juice of a certain herb she knew;
and she did this so often and so well that Nicolette again became as
beautiful as ever.

When all this was done, Nicolette dressed herself in rich robes of
silk, of which the lady had ample provision. Then she seated herself
upon a sofa of the same stuff, and sent her hostess to seek her friend.

The viscountess came to the palace, where she found Aucassin, who was
weeping and wailing for his darling Nicolette, who was too long in
coming, as he said.

"Aucassin," said the lady to him, "do not lament any longer, but come
with me. I will show you the thing which you love best in all the
world; that is Nicolette, your sweetheart dear, who has come from
distant lands to join you again."

Aucassin was very happy.

  [_Now they sing it._]

  When Aucassin has heard
  This lady's welcome word,
    That the girl of lovely face,
    His sweetheart dear, had come
        To that place,
    He comes as quick as wind
    With this lady who could find
      Her in her home.

    He comes into the room
    Where his darling has her seat.
    When she sees the boy appear,
    Quickly to his arms she flies
    To kiss his lips, and kiss his eyes,
    Her only love, her only dear,
    And give him welcome sweet.

    So the evening sped away;
    And on the morning of another day
    She was espoused to him there,
    And so became the Lady of Beaucaire.
    To both long days of pleasure came,--
    Pleasure that was aye the same;
    Nicolette, the happy she,
    And Aucassin, the happy he.

    And here will end my little lay,
    Because I've nothing more to say.



THE LOST PALACE.

[From the Ingham Papers.]


"Passengers for Philadelphia and New York will change cars."

This annoying and astonishing cry was loudly made in the palace-car
"City of Thebes," at Pittsburg, just as the babies were well asleep,
and all the passengers adapting themselves to a quiet evening.

"Impossible!" said I mildly to the "gentlemanly conductor," who beamed
before me in the majesty of gilt lace on his cap, and the embroidered
letters P. P. C. These letters do not mean, as in French, "to take
leave," for the peculiarity of this man is, that he does not leave you
till your journey's end: they mean, in American, "Pullman's Palace
Car." "Impossible!" said I; "I bought my ticket at Chicago through to
Philadelphia, with the assurance that the palace-car would go through.
This lady has done the same for herself and her children. Nay, if you
remember, you told me yourself that the 'City of Thebes' was built for
the Philadelphia service, and that I need not move my hat, unless I
wished, till we were there."

The man did not blush, but answered, in the well-mannered tone of a
subordinate used to obey, "Here are my orders, sir; telegram just
received here from head-quarters: '"City of Thebes" is to go to
Baltimore.' Another palace here, sir, waiting for you." And so we were
trans-shipped into such chairs and berths as might have been left in
this other palace, as not wanted by anybody in the great law of natural
selection; and the "City of Thebes" went to Baltimore, I suppose. The
promises which had been made to us when we bought our tickets went to
their place, and the people who made them went to theirs.

Except for this little incident, of which all my readers have probably
experienced the like in these days of travel, the story I am now to
tell would have seemed to me essentially improbable. But so soon as I
reflected, that, in truth, these palaces go hither, go thither,
controlled or not, as it may be, by some distant bureau, the story
recurred to me as having elements of _vraisemblance_ which I had not
noticed before. Having occasion, nearly at the same time, to inquire at
the Metropolitan station in Boston for a lost shawl which had been left
in a certain Brookline car, the gentlemanly official told me that he
did not know where that car was; he had not heard of it for several
days. This again reminded me of "The Lost Palace." Why should not one
palace, more or less, go astray, when there are thousands to care for?
Indeed, had not Mr. Firth told me, at the Albany, that the worst
difficulty in the administration of a strong railway is, that they
cannot call their freight-cars home? They go astray on the line of some
weaker sister, which finds it convenient to use them till they begin to
show a need for paint or repairs. If freight-cars disappear, why not
palaces? So the story seems to me of more worth, and I put it upon
paper.

It was on my second visit to Melbourne that I heard it. It was late at
night, in the coffee-room of the Auckland Arms, rather an indifferent
third-class house, in a by-street in that city, to which, in truth, I
should not have gone had my finances been on a better scale than they
were. I laid down at last an old New-York Herald, which the captain of
the "Osprey" had given me that morning, and which, in the hope of
home-news, I had read and read again to the last syllable of the
"personals." I put down the paper as one always puts down an American
paper in a foreign land, saying to myself, "Happy is that nation whose
history is unwritten." At that moment Sir Roger Tichborne, who had been
talking with an intelligent-looking American on the other side of the
table, stretched his giant form, and said he believed he would play a
game of billiards before he went to bed. He left us alone; and the
American crossed the room, and addressed me.

"You are from Massachusetts, are you not?" said he. I said I had lived
in that State.

"Good State to come from," said he. "I was there myself for three or
four months,--four months and ten days precisely. Did not like it very
well; did not like it. At least, I liked it well enough: my wife did
not like it; she could not get acquainted."

"Does she get acquainted here?" said I, acting on a principle which I
learned from Scipio Africanus at the Latin School, and so carrying the
war into the enemy's regions promptly. That is to say, I saw I must
talk with this man, and I preferred to have him talk of his own
concerns than of mine.

"O sir, I lost her,--I lost her ten years ago! Lived in New Altoona
then. I married this woman the next autumn, in Vandalia. Yes, Mrs.
Joslyn is very well satisfied here. She sees a good deal of society,
and enjoys very good health."

I said that most people did who were fortunate enough to have it to
enjoy. But Mr. Joslyn did not understand this bitter sarcasm, far less
resent it. He went on, with sufficient volubility, to give to me his
impressions of the colony,--of the advantages it would derive from
declaring its independence, and then from annexing itself to the United
States. At the end of one of his periods, goaded again to say
something, I asked why he left his own country for a "colony," if he so
greatly preferred the independent order of government.

Mr. Joslyn looked round somewhat carefully, shut the door of the room
in which we were now alone,--and were likely, at that hour of the
night, to be alone,--and answered my question at length, as the reader
will see.

"Did you ever hear of the lost palace?" said he a little anxiously.

I said, no; that, with every year or two, I heard that Mr. Layard had
found a palace at Nineveh, but that I had never heard of one's being
lost.

"They don't tell of it, sir. Sometimes I think they do not know
themselves. Does not that seem possible?" And the poor man repeated
this question with such eagerness, that, in spite of my anger at being
bored by him, my heart really warmed toward him. "I really think they
do not know. I have never seen one word in the papers about it. Now,
they would have put something in the papers,--do you not think they
would? If they knew it themselves, they would."

"Knew what?" said I, really startled out of my determination to snub
him.

"Knew where the palace is,--knew how it was lost."

By this time, of course, I supposed he was crazy. But a minute more
dispelled that notion; and I beg the reader to relieve his mind from
it. This man knew perfectly well what he was talking about, and never,
in the whole narration, showed any symptom of mania,--a matter on which
I affect to speak with the intelligence of the "experts" indeed.

After a little of this fencing with each other, in which he satisfied
himself that my ignorance was not affected, he took a sudden
resolution, as if it were a relief to him to tell me the whole story.

"It was years on years ago," said he. "It was when they first had
palaces."

Still thinking of Nimrod's palace and Priam's, I said that must have
been a great while ago.

"Yes, indeed," said he. "You would not call them palaces now, since you
have seen Pullman's and Wagner's. But we called them palaces then. So
many looking-glasses, you know, and tapestry carpets and gold
spit-boxes. Ours was the first line that run palaces."

I asked myself, mentally, of what metal were the spit-boxes in
Semiramis' palace; but I said nothing.

"Our line was the first line that had them. We were running our
lightning express on the 'Great Alleghanian.' We were in opposition to
everybody, made close connections, served supper on board, and our
passengers only were sure of the night-boat at St. Louis. Those were
the days of river-boats, you know. We introduced the palace feature on
the railroad; and very successful it was. I was an engineer. I had a
first-rate character, and the best wages of any man on the line. Never
put me on a dirt-dragger or a lazy freight loafer, I tell you. No, sir!
I ran the expresses, and nothing else, and lay off two days in the
week, besides. I don't think I should have thought of it but for
Todhunter, who was my palace conductor."

Again this IT, which had appeared so mysteriously in what the man said
before. I asked no question, but listened, really interested now, in
the hope I should find out what IT was; and this the reader will learn.
He went on, in a hurried way:--

"Todhunter was my palace conductor. One night he was full, and his
palace was hot, and smelled bad of whale-oil. We did not burn petroleum
then. Well, it was a splendid full moon in August; and we were coming
down grade, making the time we had lost at the Brentford Junction.
Seventy miles an hour she ran if she ran one. Todhunter had brought his
cigar out on the tender, and was sitting by me. Good Lord! it seems
like last week.

"Todhunter says to me, 'Joslyn,' says he, 'what's the use of crooking
all round these valleys, when it would be so easy to go across?'

"You see, we were just beginning to crook round, so as to make that
long bend there is at Chamoguin; but right across the valley we could
see the stern lights of Fisher's train: it was not more than half a
mile away, but we should run eleven miles before we came there."

I knew what Mr. Joslyn meant. To cross the mountain ranges by rail, the
engineers are obliged to wind up one side of a valley, and then, boldly
crossing the head of the ravine on a high arch, to wind up the other
side still, so that perhaps half an hour's journey is consumed, while
not a mile of real distance is made. Joslyn took out his pencil, and on
the back of an envelope drew a little sketch of the country; which, as
it happened, I still preserve, and which, with his comments, explains
his whole story completely. "Here we are," said he. "This black line is
the Great Alleghanian,--double track, seventy pounds to the yard; no
figuring off there, I tell you. This was a good straight run, down
grade a hundred and seventy-two feet on the mile. There, where I make
this X, we came on the Chamoguin Valley, and turned short, nearly
north. So we ran wriggling about till Drums here, where we stopped if
they showed lanterns,--what we call a flag-station. But there we got
across the valley, and worked south again to this other X, which was,
as I say, not five eighths of a mile from this X above, though it had
taken us eleven miles to get there."

[Illustration: Map of train route.]

He had said it was not more than half a mile; but this half-mile grew
to five eighths as he became more accurate and serious.

"Well," said he, now resuming the thread of his story, "it was
Todhunter put it into my head. He owns he did. Todhunter says, says he,
'Joslyn, what's the use of crooking round all these valleys, when it
would be so easy to go across?'

"Well, sir, I saw it then, as clear as I see it now. When that trip was
done, I had two days to myself,--one was Sunday,--and Todhunter had the
same; and he came round to my house. His wife knew mine, and we liked
them. Well, we fell talking about it; and I got down the Cyclopædia,
and we found out there about the speed of cannon-balls, and the
direction they had to give them. You know this was only talk then; we
never thought what would come of it; but very curious it all was."

And here Mr. Joslyn went into a long mathematical talk, with which I
will not harass the reader, perfectly sure, from other experiments
which I have tried with other readers, that this reader would skip it
all if it were written down. Stated very briefly, it amounted to this:
In the old-fashioned experiments of those days, a cannon-ball travelled
four thousand and one hundred feet in nine seconds. Now, Joslyn was
convinced, like every other engineman I ever talked to, that on a steep
down-grade he could drive a train at the rate of a hundred miles an
hour. This is thirteen hundred and fourteen feet in nine
seconds,--almost exactly one third of the cannon-ball's velocity. At
those rates, if the valley at Chamoguin were really but five eighths of
a mile wide, the cannon-ball would cross it in seven or eight seconds,
and the train in about twenty-three seconds. Both Todhunter and Joslyn
were good enough mechanics and machinists to know that the rate for
thirty-three hundred feet, the width of the valley, was not quite the
same as that for four thousand feet; for which, in their book, they had
the calculations and formulas; but they also knew that the difference
was to their advantage, or the advantage of the bold experiment which
had occurred to both of them when Todhunter had made on the tender his
very critical suggestion.

The reader has already conceived the idea of this experiment. These
rash men were wondering already whether it were not possible to leap an
engine flying over the Chamoguin ravine, as Eclipse or Flying Childers
might have leaped the brook at the bottom of it. Joslyn believed
implicitly, as I found in talk with him, the received statement of
conversation, that Eclipse, at a single bound, sprang forty feet. "If
Eclipse, who weighed perhaps one thousand two hundred, would spring
forty feet, could not my train, weighing two hundred tons, spring a
hundred times as far?" asked he triumphantly. At least, he said that he
said this to Todhunter. They went into more careful studies of
projectiles, to see if it could or could not.

The article on "Gunnery" gave them just one of those convenient tables
which are the blessing of wise men and learned men, and which lead
half-trained men to their ruin. They found that for their "range,"
which was, as they supposed, eleven hundred yards, the elevation of a
forty-two pounder was one degree and a third; of a nine-pounder, three
degrees. The elevation for a railway train, alas! no man had
calculated. But this had occurred to both of them from the beginning.
In descending the grade, at the spot where, on his little map, Joslyn
made the more westerly X, they were more than eleven hundred feet above
the spot where he had made his second, or easterly X. All this descent
was to the advantage of the experiment. A gunner would have said that
the first X "commanded" the second X, and that a battery there would
inevitably silence a battery at the point below.

"We need not figure on it," said Todhunter, as Mrs. Joslyn called them
in to supper. "If we did, we should make a mistake. Give me your
papers. When I go up, Monday night, I'll give them to my brother Bill.
I shall pass him at Faber's Mills. He has studied all these things, of
course; and he will like the fun of making it out for us." So they sat
down to Mrs. Joslyn's waffles; and, but for Bill Todhunter, this story
would never have been told to me, nor would John Joslyn and "this
woman" ever have gone to Australia.

But Bill Todhunter was one of those acute men of whom the new
civilization of this country is raising thousands with every year; who,
in the midst of hard hand-work, and a daily duty which to collegians,
and to the ignorant men among their professors, seems repulsive, carry
on careful scientific study, read the best results of the latest
inquiry, manage to bring together a first-rate library of reference,
never spend a cent for liquor or tobacco, never waste an hour at a
circus or a ball, but make their wives happy by sitting all the
evening, "figuring," one side of the table, while the wife is hemming
napkins on the other. All of a sudden, when such a man is wanted, he
steps out, and bridges the Gulf of Bothnia; and people wonder, who
forget that for two centuries and a half the foresighted men and women
of this country have been building up, in the face of the Devil of
Selfishness on the one hand, and of the Pope of Rome on the other, a
system of popular education, improving every hour.

At this moment Bill Todhunter was foreman of Repair Section No. 11 on
the "Great Alleghanian,"--a position which needed a man of first-rate
promptness, of great resource, of good education in engineering. Such a
man had the "Great Alleghanian" found in him, by good luck; and they
had promoted him to their hardest-worked and best-paid section,--the
section an which, as it happened, was this Chamoguin run, and the long
bend which I have described, by which the road "headed" that stream.

The younger Todhunter did meet his brother at Faber's Mills, where the
repair-train had hauled out of the way of the express, and where the
express took wood. The brothers always looked for each other on such
occasions; and Bill promised to examine the paper which Joslyn had
carefully written out, and which his brother brought to him.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have never repeated in detail the mass of calculations which Bill
Todhunter made on the suggestion thus given to him. If I had, I would
not repeat them here, for a reason which has been suggested already. He
became fascinated with the problem presented to him. Stated in the
language of the craft, it was this:--

"Given a moving body, with a velocity eight thousand eight hundred feet
in a minute, what should be its elevation that it may fall eleven
hundred feet in the transit of five eighths of a mile?" He had not only
to work up the parabola, comparatively simple, but he had to allow for
the resistance of the air, on the supposition of a calm, according to
the really admirable formulas of Robins and Coulomb, which were the
best he had access to. Joslyn brought me one day a letter from Bill
Todhunter, which shows how carefully he went into this intricate
inquiry.

Unfortunately for them all, it took possession of this spirited and
accomplished young man. You see, he not only had the mathematical
ability for the calculation of the fatal curve, but, as had been
ordered without any effort of his, he was in precisely the situation of
the whole world for trying in practice his own great experiment. At
each of the two X X of Joslyn's map, the company had, as it happened,
switches for repair-trains or wood-trains. Had it not, Bill Todhunter
had ample power to make them.

For the "experiment," all that was necessary was, that under the
pretext of re-adjusting these switches, he should lay out that at the
upper X so that it should run, on the exact grade which he required, to
the western edge of the ravine, in a line which should be the direct
continuation of the long, straight run with which the little map
begins.

An engine, then, running down that grade at the immense rapidity
practicable there, would take the switch with its full speed, would fly
the ravine at precisely the proper slopes, and, if the switch had been
rightly aligned, would land on the similar switch at the lower X. It
would come down exactly right on the track, as you sit precisely on a
chair when you know exactly how high it is.

"If." And why should it not be rightly aligned, if Bill Todhunter
himself aligned it? This he was well disposed to do. He also would
align the lower switch, that at the lower X, that it might receive into
its willing embrace the engine on its arrival.

When the bold engineer had conceived this plan, it was he who pushed
the others on to it, not they who urged him. They were at work on their
daily duty, sometimes did not meet each other for a day or two. Bill
Todhunter did not see them more than once in a fortnight. But whenever
they did meet, the thing seemed to be taken more and more for granted.
At last Joslyn observed one day, as he ran down, that there was a large
working-party at the switch above Drums, and he could see Bill
Todhunter, in his broad sombrero, directing them all. Joslyn was not
surprised, somehow, when he came to the lower switch, to find another
working-party there. The next time they all three met, Bill Todhunter
told them that all was ready if they were. He said that he had left a
few birches to screen the line of the upper switch, for fear some
nervous bungler, driving an engine down, might be frightened, and
"blow" about the switch. But he said that any night when the others
were ready to make the fly, he was; that there would be a full moon the
next Wednesday, and, if there was no wind, he hoped they would do it
then.

"You know," said poor Joslyn, describing it to me, "I should never have
done it alone; August would never have done it alone; no, I do not
think that Bill Todhunter himself would have done it alone. But our
heads were full of it. We had thought of it and thought of it till we
did not think of much else; and here was everything ready, and neither
of us was afraid, and neither of us chose to have the others think he
was afraid. I did say, what was the truth, that I had never meant to
try it with a train. I had only thought that we should apply to the
supe, and that he would get up a little excursion party of
gentlemen,--editors, you know, and stockholders,--who would like to do
it together, and that I should have the pleasure and honor of taking
them over. But Todhunter poohed at that. He said all the calculations
were made for the inertia of a full train, that that was what the
switch was graded for, and that everything would have to be altered if
any part of the plan were altered. Besides, he said the superintendent
would never agree, that he would insist on consulting the board and the
chief engineer, and that they would fiddle over it till Christmas.

"'No,' said Bill, 'next Wednesday, or never! If you will not do it
then, I will put the tracks back again.' August Todhunter said nothing;
but I knew he would do what we agreed to, and he did.

"So at last I said I would jump it on Wednesday night, if the night was
fine. But I had just as lief own to you that I hoped it would not be
fine. Todhunter--Bill Todhunter, I mean--was to leave the switch open
after the freight had passed, and to drive up to the Widow Jones's
Cross Road. There he would have a lantern, and I would stop and take
him up. He had a right to stop us, as chief of repairs. Then we should
have seven miles down-grade to get up our speed, and then--we should
see!"

       *       *       *       *       *

"Mr. Ingham, I might have spared myself the hoping for foul weather. It
was the finest moonlight night that you ever knew in October. And if
Bill Todhunter had weighed that train himself, he could not have been
better pleased,--one baggage-car, one smoking-car, two regular
first-class, and two palaces: she run just as steady as an old cow! We
came to the Widow Jones's, square on time; and there was Bill's lantern
waving. I slowed the train: he jumped on the tender without stopping
it. I 'up brakes' again, and then I told Flanagan, my fireman, to go
back to the baggage-car, and see if they would lend me some tobacco.
You see, we wanted to talk, and we didn't want him to see. 'Mr.
Todhunter and I will feed her till you come back,' says I to Flanagan.
In a minute after he had gone, August Todhunter came forward on the
engine; and, I tell you, she did fly!

"'Not too fast,' said Bill, 'not too fast: too fast is as bad as too
slow.'

"'Never you fear me,' says I. 'I guess I know this road and this
engine. Take out your watch, and time the mile-posts,' says I; and he
timed them. 'Thirty-eight seconds,' says he; 'thirty-seven and a half,
thirty-six, thirty-six, thirty-six,'--three times thirty-six, as we
passed the posts, just as regular as an old clock! And then we came
right on the mile-post you know at Old Flander's. 'Thirty-six,' says
Bill again. And then she took the switch,--I can hear that switch-rod
ring under us now, Mr. Ingham,--and then--we were clear!

"Was not it grand? The range was a little bit up, you see, at first;
but it seemed as if we were flying just straight across. All the rattle
of the rail stopped, you know, though the pistons worked just as true
as ever; neither of us said one word, you know; and she just
flew--well, as you see a hawk fly sometimes, when he pounces, you know,
only she flew so straight and true! I think you may have dreamed of
such things. I have; and now,--now I dream it very often. It was not
half a minute, you know, but it seemed a good long time. I said nothing
and they said nothing; only Bill just squeezed my hand. And just as I
knew we must be half over,--for I could see by the star I was watching
ahead that we were not going up, but were falling again,--do you think
the rope by my side tightened quick, and the old bell on the engine
gave one savage bang, turned right over as far as the catch would let
it, and stuck where it turned! Just that one sound, everything else was
still; and then she landed on the rails, perhaps seventy feet inside
the ravine, took the rails as true and sweet as you ever saw a ship
take the water, hardly touched them, you know, skimmed--well, as I have
seen a swallow skim on the sea; the prettiest, well, the tenderest
touch, Mr. Ingham, that ever I did see! And I could just hear the
connecting rods tighten the least bit in the world behind me, and we
went right on.

"We just looked at each other in the faces, and we could not speak; no,
I do not believe we spoke for three quarters of a minute. Then August
said, 'Was not that grand? Will they let us do it always, Bill?' But we
could not talk then. Flanagan came back with the tobacco, and I had
just the wit to ask him why he had been gone so long. Poor fellow! he
was frightened enough when we pulled up at Clayville, and he thought it
was Drums. Drums, you see, was way up the bend, a dozen miles above
Clayville. Poor Flanagan thought we must have passed there while he was
skylarking in the baggage-car, and that he had not minded it. We never
stopped at Drums unless we had passengers, or they. It was what we call
a flag-station. So I blew Flanagan up, and told him he was gone too
long.

"Well, sir, at Clayville we did stop,--always stopped there for wood.
August Todhunter, he was the palace conductor; he went back to look to
his passengers. Bill stayed with me. But in a minute August came
running back, and called me off the engine. He led me forward, where it
was dark; but I could see, as we went, that something was to pay. The
minute we were alone he says,--

"'John, we've lost the rear palace.'

"'Don't fool me, August,' says I.

"'No fooling, John,' says he. 'The shackle parted. The cord parted, and
is flying loose behind now. If you want to see, come and count the
cars. The "General Fremont" is here all right; but I tell you the
"James Buchanan" is at the bottom of the Chamoguin Creek.'

"I walked back to the other end of the platform, as fast as I could go,
and not be minded. Todhunter was there before me, tying up the loose
end of the bell-cord. There was a bit of the broken end of the shackle
twisted in with the bolt. I pulled the bolt, and threw the iron into
the swamp, far as I could fling her. Then I nodded to Todhunter, and
walked forward, just as that old goose at Clayville had got his
trousers on, so he could come out, and ask me if we were not ahead of
time. I tell you, sir, I did not stop to talk with him. I just rang
'All aboard!' and started her again; and this time I run slow enough to
save the time before we came down to Steuben. We were on time, all
right, there."

Here poor Joslyn stopped a while in his story; and I could see that he
was so wrought up with excitement that I had better not interrupt,
either with questions or with sympathy. He rallied in a minute or two,
and said,--

"I thought--we all thought--that there would be a despatch somewhere
waiting us. But no; all was as regular is the clock. One palace more or
less,--what did they know, and what did they care? So daylight came. We
could not say a word, you know, with Flanagan there; and he only
stopped, you know, a minute or two every hour; and just then was when
August Todhunter had to be with his passengers, you know. Was not I
glad when we came into Pemaquid,--our road ran from Pemaquid across the
mountains to Eden, you know,--when we came into Pemaquid, and nobody
had asked any questions?

"I reported my time at the office of the master of trains, and I went
home. I tell you, Mr. Ingham, I have never seen Pemaquid Station since
that day.

"I had done nothing wrong, of course. I had obeyed every order, and
minded every signal. But still I knew public opinion might be against
me when they heard of the loss of the palace. I did not feel very well
about it, and I wrote a note to say I was not well enough to take my
train the next night; and I and Mrs. Joslyn went to New York, and I
went aboard a Collins steamer as fireman; and Mrs. Joslyn, she went as
stewardess; and I wrote to Pemaquid, and gave up my place. It was a
good place, too; but I gave it up, and I left America.

"Bill Todhunter, he resigned his place too, that same day, though that
was a good place. He is in the Russian service now. He is running their
line from Archangel to Astrachan; good pay, he says, but lonely. August
would not stay in America after his brother left; and he is now
captain's clerk on the Harkaway steamers between Bangkok and Cochbang;
good place, he says, but hot. So we are all parted.

"And do you know, sir, never one of us ever heard of the lost palace!"

Sure enough, under that very curious system of responsibility, by which
one corporation owns the carriages which another corporation uses,
nobody in the world has to this moment ever missed "The Lost Palace."
On each connecting line, everybody knew that "she" was not there; but
no one knew or asked where she was. The descent into the rocky bottom
of the Chamoguin, more than fifteen hundred feet below the line of
flight, had of course been rapid,--slow at first, but in the end rapid.
In the first second, the lost palace had fallen sixteen feet; in the
second, sixty-four; in the third, one hundred and forty-four; in the
fourth, two hundred and fifty-six; in the fifth, four hundred feet; so
that it must have been near the end of the sixth second of its fall,
that, with a velocity now of more than six hundred feet in a second,
the falling palace, with its unconscious passengers, fell upon the
rocks at the bottom of the Chamoguin ravine. In the dead of night,
wholly without jar or parting, those passengers must have been sleeping
soundly; and it is impossible, therefore, on any calculation of human
probability, that any one of them can have been waked an instant before
the complete destruction of the palace, by the sudden shock of its fall
upon the bed of the stream. To them the accident, if it is fair to call
it so, must have been wholly free from pain.

The tangles of that ravine, and the swamp below it, are such that I
suppose that even the most adventurous huntsman never finds his way
there. On the only occasion when I ever met Mr. Jules Verne, he
expressed a desire to descend there from one of his balloons, to learn
whether the inhabitants of "The Lost Palace" might not still survive,
and be living in a happy republican colony there,--a place without
railroads, without telegrams, without mails, and certainly without
palaces. But at the moment when these sheets go to press, no account of
such an adventure has appeared from his rapid pen.



THE WESTERN GINEVRA.


CHAPTER I.

BOUGHT.


As pretty a girl as there was in Ohio. And how much that says!

Brunette, or of that tendency, yet with blue eyes. And how much that
says!

Tall and strong, not too plump, but still not scrawny, nor as a
skeleton in clothing. I do not say that she could whip her weight in
wild-cats; I do not know. Of that breed of animals few are left in
Ohio, thanks to the prowess of the grandmothers of the present
generation. But I do say that of the mother of the mother of Hester
Bryan, of whom I write, this eulogy was simple truth. The _Puma
concolor_, or native catamount of those regions, had yielded a hundred
times before her prowess. And this I will add,--that Hester Bryan was
just a bit taller and prettier than her mother, as she, in her day, was
taller and prettier than hers. For there are worlds of life in which

  "Nature gives us more than all she ever takes away."

Now do not go to thinking that Hester Bryan was a great strapping
Amazon, and looked like a female prize-fighter. She was tall, and she
was strong, and she was graceful as the Venus of the Porta Portese, if
by good luck you ever saw her.

And she was as good as pretty; and she was the queen of the whole town,
because she was pretty and good, and so bright. She never set herself
up as grander than the other girls, and all the other girls set her up
as the queen of their love and worship.

And the boys? Oh, that was of course. But then there were no
"pretenders," as the French say. All that was settled long ago--as long
ago as when she wore a sun-bonnet, and walked barefoot to school.
Horace would always be waiting for her at the Five Corners, with the
largest and ripest raspberries, or with whatever other offering was in
season. As long ago as when he made his first canoe, there would hang
under her window, before breakfast, great bunches of the earliest
pond-lilies. As soon as it would do for these young folks to go on
sleigh-rides, it was in Horace's cutter that Hester always rode. And
when Hester sang in the choir, she always stood at the right hand of
the altos, and just across the passage stood Horace, at the left hand
of the tenors. Not a young man in the village interfered with Horace's
pre-emption there. But not a young man in the village who did not stand
by Horace as loyally as the girls stood by Hester; and if he had needed
to summon a working party to build a bridge across a slue, that Hester
might walk dry-shod with a white slipper on, why, all the young men of
the neighborhood would be there as soon as Horace wound his horn.

A nice girl at the West once wrote me to ask why all the good young
men, who were bright and spirited and nice, were in my books, and why,
in fact, the bright boys, who knew something and could do something and
could be something--in short, were agreeable--were apt to be lounging
round liquor saloons in the village when they should be better
employed. I told her, of course, to wait a little; that she was looking
through some very small key-hole. How I wish that my unknown
correspondent could have seen Horace Ray! He was handsome, he was
bright, he was strong, he was steady, he was full of fun; he could read
French well, and could talk German, and he knew enough Latin. And yet
he did not lounge round a liquor saloon, and the minister was glad, and
not sorry, that he sung in the choir.

When this story begins, Horace Ray was twenty-two years old, and Hester
Bryan was twenty-one. I know that that is dreadfully old for a story,
but how can I help that? Do you suppose I make it up as I go along? If
they did not choose to be married when he was eighteen and she
seventeen, can I help that? The truth is, that Hester's father was a
man who liked to have his own way, and in some things had it. He had
not had it in making a large fortune, though he had always tried for
that. In that business he had failed,--had failed badly. He was always
just close to it; but always, just as he touched the log on which he
was to stand erect, quite out of the water, the log was pushed away by
his touch, and floated quite out of reach, he paddling far behind.
Hester's mother was in heaven, or things might have been made easier
for her. As it was, her father would not hear of her marrying Horace
till Horace should have something better than expectations, till he was
fixed in a regular business, with a regular income. Perhaps Ohio is now
so far established as a conservative and old-fashioned country that
most fathers of charming girls in Ohio will agree with him. Yet I never
heard of any one's starving in Ohio. They do say that no one was ever
hungry there!

Because of this horrible sentence of old Mr. Bryan--because of
this--the happiest day of Horace's life was the day when he could come,
at last, to Hester, and could tell her that he was appointed assistant
engineer on the Scioto Valley Railroad, with a salary of one thousand
dollars a year, to be increased by one hundred dollars at the end of
the first year. Here was the "regular income in the regular business,"
and now all would be well. Would she be married in church, or would she
rather go to Columbus, to be married quietly? For his part, he was all
ready; he would like to be married that day.

Of course this last part was only his little joke. But Hester, dear
child, how well I remember how pretty and how cheerful she seemed all
that week, and how little any of us thought of what was to come! Hester
was by no means a prude, and she was as happy as he. And the news
lighted up all the village. Everybody knew it, from the canal-locks up
to the mills, and everybody was glad. Horace Ray had a good place, and
he and Hester Bryan could be married right away.

Four days that happy dream lasted; and even now Horace looks back on
those four dream-days as days of unutterable joy and blessedness. He
has a little portfolio which Hester herself made for him, and on the
back of which she painted his own monogram. It lies among his choicest
treasures, and is never handled but with the most dainty care. It
contains every note she wrote him--five in all--as those blessed days
went by. Them it contains--ah, the pity!--four little sunny songs which
Horace wrote to her on four of those evenings, and which he sent to her
on the four mornings, with the bunch of flowers which she found at the
front-door as she threw it open. These the poor girl had to give back
to him. And all this is tied with a bit of ribbon, which is stained yet
by the moisture on the stems of the flowers it tied together,--a little
bunch of roses which Hester gave to him. For, as you must hear, these
four days came to an end.

Old Mr. Bryan came home--"old" he was called, in the fresh and active
phrase of a young community, because he was older than John Bryan the
miller.

In truth, our Mr. Bryan was forty-five. He came home--from no one knew
where. He was in low spirits: that all men saw as he left the railroad
station--the dépôt, as they called it. The boy who drove him to his
home--that is, who drove the horse which dragged the wagon in which old
Bryan was carried to his home--this boy, I say, did not dare allude to
Horace's good news. Pretty Hester came running to meet him at the gate,
fresh as a rose and glad as a sunbeam; but she saw that all was wrong.
All the same, everything was pleasant and cheerful; the children were
neat and nice in their best clothes, the supper was perfect, and no
returning conqueror had ever a more happy welcome.

Before they slept, even to her downcast, not to say cross, father,
Hester told her story,--her story and Horace's. But old Bryan took it
very hardly. It was all nonsense, he said. She must not think of
weddings. His was no house to be married from. He was ruined: those
infernal Swartwouts and Dousterswivels, or whatever else may have been
the names of the swindlers who had fooled him, had cleaned him out; and
the sooner the town knew he was ruined, and the world, why, the better,
he supposed. Poor old Bryan was really to be pitied this time. Often as
he had fallen, he had never fallen so far; and it certainly seemed as
if he had fallen into mud and slime so thick and so deep, in a bog so
utterly without bottom, that for him there was no recovery.

"No time to talk of weddings." This was all old Bryan would say.

When Horace came to plead, it was no better. There was a time when old
Bryan had liked Horace. If any man knew how to manage him, it was
Horace. But now he was simply unmanageable, and too soon the reason
appeared.

There was a St. Louis merchant whom Bryan had met at Columbus the
winter when he represented the district in the Legislature. From the
first they seemed to have been great friends. When our pretty Hester
made her winter visit to Columbus, to stay with Mrs. Dunn, this de
Alcantara saw her,--the Duke de Alcantara, the Columbus girls called
him, mostly in joke, but partly in mystery; for it was whispered that
he might be a duke in Spain if he chose to be. This was certain,--that
he was very rich--very. Those who disliked him most--and some people
disliked him very much--had to own that he was very rich. Black-haired
he was, very dark of complexion, and, Horace said, and all the party of
haters, odious in expression. But whether Horace would have said that,
had the two not crossed each other's lines, who shall say? The truth is
that Baltasar de Alcantara was a great diamond merchant.

And now the mystery appeared. Old Bryan said he could not talk of
weddings, but soon enough he began to talk of one. Baltasar de
Alcantara wanted to marry our Hester. This she had guessed at; but she
had thought she had put a very summary end to it. She had said to him
squarely, the last time she saw him, "Do you not know that I am engaged
to be married, Mr. de Alcantara?" She had supposed that would be
enough. She had not thought of the Oriental fashion of buying your
wife; but Baltasar de Alcantara had. There must have been Eastern blood
in him. Horace Ray, after he heard of the new proposal of marriage,
said his rival had a nose which looked Eastern,--arched, but not Roman.
However it was about the nose, the diamond merchant offered to buy our
Hester. If she would marry him, or if old Bryan would make her marry
him, he would lend old Bryan all the money he wanted, up to fifty
thousand dollars, on his personal security; he would take at their face
all old Bryan's worthless stock in the Green Bay Iron Company, and he
would make old Bryan vice-president in the Cattaraugus and Tallahassee
Railroad, of which he was a managing director. All this statement old
Bryan repeated to our Hester.

Of course Hester refused point-blank. And then for six months--nay,
ten--came awful times for her. Hard times had she seen in that house
before, but nothing like these! Horace was banished first. She had to
send back her engagement ring, and the letters and the songs I told you
of. She had to promise not to meet him in the village, and she kept her
promise; not to speak to him if she did meet him there. Then she could
not go out anywhere. Then she was kept on bread and water, and the
children too. Then there was this and that piece of furniture carried
off to be sold at auction,--everything that was her mother's and that
her mother prized. Then poor Hester fell sick, and almost died. As soon
as she rallied at all, old Bryan began again. And then Hester
capitulated. That horrid Duke de Alcantara came--he came after dark,
and came in his own carriage all the way from the station at London.
Our boys would have mobbed him, I believe. He came, and I am bound to
say he behaved very well. He was not obtrusive. He was gentle and
gentlemanly. And when he went away he put a ring on Hester's finger;
and she did not throw it in his face, nor did she tear out his eyes.

And so it was settled. And the house was furnished again, and Betsey
Boll and old Miss Tucker came back to work in the kitchen again, and
old Bryan's bank account was better than it ever was. And on the 2d of
April he went to Cincinnati to sit as V. P. of the C. and T. R. R. Co.,
and to draw his first quarter's salary.

And poor Horace never set his eyes on poor Hester's pale face.

And all the village knew that on the 15th of May Hester Bryan was to be
married to the Duke de Alcantara. And Lucy Lander surrendered so far
from the general tone of opinion of the girls as to agree to be a
bridemaid. She had a splendid dress sent to her from St. Louis. Jane
Forsyth and the other girls said they would burn at the stake first.
But Lucy said--and I think she was right--that Hester had a right to
have one friend near her to the last.

The wedding was to be at St. Louis at St. Jude's Church. The boys said
it was Judas Iscariot's Church, but this was their mistake. They said
the Duke de Alcantara was afraid to be married in Hester's home. This,
I think, is probable. The arrangements were left mostly to "the Duke"
and to old Bryan's sister, Mrs. Goole--a skinny, wiry, disagreeable
person, of a very uncertain age, who had made herself so unpleasant to
all the neighbors on her visit to her brother, many years ago, that she
had never come again till now. Now that he needed some womenfolk, Mrs.
Goole was summoned to the rescue.



CHAPTER II.

SOLD.


On the 14th of May, the Pullman palace, Cleopatra, was waiting on a
side-track at London, ready to take its first trip. It had been
chartered, John the porter said, by a chap from St. Louis, who was
going to take quite a party there. A bridal party it was. How large the
party was to be, the porter did not know, though it was important
enough to him. But he had dusted the new plush, clean as it was, and
had wiped off the wood-work, though he could not stain his cloth on it.

Presently the party came, headed by a dark gentleman talking to the
station-master. The station-master introduced him to the conductor as
Mr. De Alcantara. The eagle eye of the porter saw that there were
twelve in the party. He waited for no introduction, but seized the
hand-baggage and distributed it to the different sections. Meanwhile
the party entered the car.

But though the porter had assigned to each of their grandeurs a section
of four seats, they did not mount each a separate throne. On the
contrary, a pleasant-looking young lady, who might perhaps be the
bride, and two children, sat down in the middle of the car. The rest
were distributed according to their different degrees of lack of
acquaintanceship.

"I want to bid you good-by now, dears," said the bride to the children.
"You see there'll be a great row when you go to bed, and to-morrow
morning I'll have hardly time to kiss you. So while they're setting
supper ready, and he's talking to papa, I'll tell you each one of my
old stories--no, you're so old now, Edward, that I'll tell Amelia two
stories, and you can listen if you want to. Then we'll have just as
good a good-by as if it were to-morrow, and two--no, three sets of
kisses."

"But it's not so very far to St. Louis--so far as to make much of a
fuss about; and we'll come and see you, sha'n't we?" said Edward
stoutly.

"Yes, if I stay in St. Louis all the time;" and the poor girl told how
often she would have to go down the river, and sometimes even across
the ocean to Amsterdam. But presently she began on her stories, and the
children at least were happy till they were all called to supper.

And then, to the surprise of the porter, the splendid Mr. De Alcantara
took out a dried-up little woman whom he had hardly noticed, while Mr.
Bryan and the bride filled up the table.

And such a supper as it was! Though it was past eight, the cook gave
them as solid a first course as his French education would allow him
before he covered the little tables with salads and ices.

To old Bryan's surprise, Hester took a little of De Alcantara's
champagne--not as much as her cousins behind her; but he had never
known her to take wine even in his flush times. Not that he cared,--he
saw two full bottles opposite,--but yet he noticed it. Perhaps it was
that which gave her rosier cheeks than she had had for a month; and
perhaps it was that which put her in such good spirits.

"I am quite relieved," said she, as the last waiter went out. "I really
expected to see a wedding-cake come on after this luxury, and hear that
Mr. Prayerbook was in the next car, ready to marry me or bury me."

"If I had known you expected it," said De Alcantara, "I should have had
it ready. And even now, I dare say, there is a priest on the train, my
dear."

"Oh no, indeed," said Mrs. Goole, who took everything in earnest; "it
will be far better for you to retire now with the children. It's nine
o'clock, and just think how hard a day you'll have to-morrow."

"I don't know," said Hester. "I think that it is never so hard to do a
thing as to make up one's mind to it; and as for going to bed, I don't
care to. Perhaps Mr. De Alcantara has a pack of cards or so with him,
and then you can have some whist, aunt, and we-- Shall we have Sancho
Pedro or euchre, your Grace?"

"Grace me no grace," said De Alcantara, as cards were produced--to his
credit, be it said, from a friend's portmanteau. "I vote for euchre, if
it be for four hands; Pedro by itself is far from exciting."

"Not when it's played for love, your Grace?" said Hester.

Who shall say how much the Don understood of the gambling terms of
Great Britain? He stumbled and said, "Certainly, if you put it in that
way."

But Hester would not, and so De Alcantara took the home-bridemaid, Lucy
Lander, as his partner, and a "son of St. Louis" sat opposite Hester.

"I didn't quite know what to think," said Lucy Lander, afterward, to
her sister. "Sometimes I thought she had made up her mind to it, and
then again I thought something awful would happen. You see, he kept
calling her 'my dear,' and she never blushed nor anything, except once,
when she was leaning back, shading her face with her cards, and then
her eyes sort of glittered; it could hardly have been the light, you
know. And once she had dealt, and the cards fell ace, two, three, four,
and then Mr. Gardner, the St. Louis man, said, in a sort of hesitating
way, 'That means kiss the dealer, you know'; and then the duke took up
her hand, which was lying on the table, but she pulled it away, and
said, 'Wait--till to-morrow.' That could have meant anything, you
know."

And as Lucy sat and wondered, Hester sat and played, better than Lucy
did, perhaps. She did not let De Alcantara kiss her hand, but she did
laugh with him, and at him a little. She asked the St. Louis man if her
hands were large enough to pass muster there, and then explained that
her father took a Chicago paper. Indeed, so loud was the laughter of
the gentlemen that Mrs. Goole kept looking round in an anxious way, and
trying to catch Hester's eye. But Hester kept her back resolutely
turned, and Lucy would not understand any telegrams from the chaperon;
so when Mrs. Goole found, to her joy, that it was eleven, she broke up
the somewhat shaky whist-table, and spoke to Hester.

"My dear," said she, "it is really too late for any one to stay up any
longer. My girls must go, and you too."

So Hester jumped up, kissed her father good-night, and bade _au revoir_
to De Alcantara. Then she turned to section six, directed by the
obsequious John.

"Wait," said De Alcantara, "I have a surprise for you;" and he led her
to number nine, where her immense Saratoga stood on the sofa. "If you
need anything," said he, "you yourself have been careful that you will
find it here." And he kissed his hand and walked forward. As Mr. Bryan
was following, Mrs. Goole stopped him. Looking round to see that Hester
had disappeared, she said,--

"Fergus, that girl of yours doesn't mean to be married to-morrow."

"How do you know that?" said old Bryan.

"I can see it; I've been watching her," said Mrs. Goole. "You see that
you have the forward section; I have the rear one. She won't pass me in
the night, whatever she does at your end."

"Do you mean to sit up all night?" said poor Bryan.

"Of course I do, fool!" said his tender sister, "and that you shall sit
up all night, too. If you don't, there'll be no wedding to-morrow."

"Well," said Bryan, as his sister left him.

He thought it over with a cigar on the front platform, and decided that
his sister was right. So he worked his way back to her section, and
found her there, sitting on the edge of the berth, as grim as a
sentinel at Pompeii.

"I'll do it," said he.

"You'd better," said she.

And so all night he sat on the edge of his berth and tried to read, and
then took another cigar on the platform, and then back and forth, till
his cigars were gone; but not a wink of sleep passed his eyes that
night.

As for Mrs. Goole, who shall say what passed in her vigils? Certain she
was that on that night no one passed her but the two conductors and one
brakeman. She was once startled at Chimborazo as a new black face
appeared; but it was explained that there was a change of porters, and
whether Mungo or John it mattered little to her.

And so morning came. No, it is no business of mine to tell who slept
and who did not; who dreamed, or what the dreams portended. Sunrise is
sure, or well-nigh sure; and even in a sleeping-car morning comes. Mrs.
Goole looked a little more scraggy and haggard than usual. The
bridemaids did their best, in the way of toilet, in their somewhat
limited dressing-room. Baltasar was radiant in a fresh paper
collar,--the utmost that even wealth like his could produce, as one
travelled forty miles an hour, on the morning of one's wedding-day.
Mungo, the porter, "made up" the several sections one after another.
From beds they became elegant sofas again, and only section six,
Hester's section, was intact. Its heavy curtains hung as at midnight,
secured half-way down, as one might see, by a heavy brooch which
Baltasar himself had given her.

"Let her sleep," said Lucy Lander. "Perhaps she did not sleep well at
first. I did not."

"Oh, yes," said Mrs. Goole grimly; "let her sleep. I never can sleep in
these things. I sat up all night without a wink."

"Oh, yes, let her sleep," said her father; and so they dashed on. Eight
o'clock passed, half-past eight, nine o'clock, and yet no sign from
number six.

Meanwhile obsequious waiters came in from the kitchen-car. The
breakfast would be spoiled,--one breakfast had been spoiled already. De
Alcantara consulted with old Bryan.

"Lucy," said old Bryan at last to Lucy Lander, "you must wake her. You
girls will faint without your coffee. And in half an hour more there
will be no breakfast."

Lucy assented, a little unwillingly, went to number six, withdrew the
brooch, and put her head inside the curtains, and then--a shriek from
Lucy. She flung the curtains back, and no Hester was there!

What was worse, no Hester had been there. The compartment had not been
"made up," it would seem. Here were the two sofas, here was the _Wreck
of the Grosvenor_, here was a faded nosegay, just as they had left them
when they fell to playing euchre. But here was no Hester Bryan. Where
was the girl? What had she done with herself?

De Alcantara turned on Mrs. Goole like a wild creature. He was ready to
throttle her in his rage. "This is some confounded joke of yours,
ma'am!" But no; she was no such actress as to feign that dismay and
horror.

"It is he," she shrieked, pointing at her speechless brother, "it is
he! He fell asleep, and the minx passed him at his door."

No. Old Bryan was no such fool as to sleep at his post. "Sartin" he had
not slept a wink since this porter came upon the train at Chimborazo.
Porter and brakemen were alike confident that no one had left the car
at either door. The brakemen testified for the whole time. The porter
was certain after Chimborazo.

Then the window of number six was examined,--a double window, and stuck
fast with new varnish. Everyone remembered that they could not start it
the day before, when Hester tried to throw out a banana-peel. And if
she had opened both windows, not Rebecca of York herself could have
closed them after her, poised upon nothing, and the train rushing
underneath at the rate of forty miles.

From section nine, however, which had not been made up, and of which
the windows were ajar, Miriam Kuh, one of the St. Louis bridemaids,
produced a handkerchief. It had lain on the top of the Saratoga trunk.
It was Hester's handkerchief,--one of the _trousseau_
handkerchiefs,--and tied in a close knot was the engagement-ring
Baltasar de Alcantara had given her. Those windows--the windows of
section nine--were ajar. But that proved nothing. Baltasar himself said
he started those windows for more air after everyone was asleep.
Besides, a hawk could not crowd out of those cracks; and if Hester had
opened them further, how did she close them again?

All the same the porter and the brakemen were sure she had flung
herself from number nine--most likely when they were crossing "the
bridge." The brakeman offered confidentially to show any man for five
dollars how it could be done.

Old Bryan was sure Mrs. Goole had slept on her post. Mrs. Goole was
sure old Bryan had slept on his.

Baltasar de Alcantara was mad with rage, and the bridemaids were faint
with hunger. Miss Kuh gave him the ring and handkerchief, and he flung
both out of the open window.

The groomsmen stole forward into the kitchen and ate cold chops and
flattened omelets. Some cold coffee was smuggled back to the
bridemaids.

And so the express-train arrived at St. Louis, and the loafers at the
station watched the arrival of the "special bridal-car," and no bride
emerged therefrom! only some very sick bridemaids, some very cross
groomsmen, a disgusted bridegroom, an angry father and a frightened
aunt, and the gigantic Saratoga trunk.

"Where to?" asked the porters, who staggered under the trunk.

"Nowhere," answered De Alcantara, with a useless oath. "Leave it in
your baggage-room till it is called for."

And he went his way.



CHAPTER III.

CAUGHT AND TOLD.


Yet there was a wedding after all! The sexton and organist at St.
Jude's had not been summoned for nothing, nor the parsons. It was not
in vain that Ax, Kidder, & Co. had spread a whole piece of Brussels
carpet across the wide pavement of Eleventh Street, from the curb-stone
up the church-steps into the very porch.

For, as Baltasar de Alcantara left the Central Station, just as he was
stepping into the elegant coupé which awaited him, a wild,
foreign-looking woman, with a little child in her arms, sprang across
his way.

"Take your baby to your wedding," the wild creature cried, crazy with
excitement.

Baltasar de Alcantara stopped a full minute without speech, looking at
her. Then he laughed grimly. "Hold your jaw," he said. "You're just in
time. You'll do. Stop your howling. Go dress yourself decently in a
travelling dress, and be at the church at twelve,--not one minute late
nor one minute early,--and, mind, a thick veil. Moses, go with her, and
see that she is there."

And so he entered his coupé and rode to his hotel. And at noon his
party passed up his aisle, and this Bohemian woman, led by Moses
Gardner, walked up the other aisle. There was the least hitch in the
service, as De Alcantara bade the minister substitute the name of Faris
for Hester. But of the company assembled, not ten people knew that it
was not the Ohio beauty who passed on De Alcantara's arm from the
chancel to the vestry.

In the vestry, however, there was a different scene. Baltasar, black
with rage, was still trying to be civil to the minister's clerk, whom
he found there with a book, waiting for the bridegroom's signature. As
he took the pen, from the side-door another gentleman entered, and,
without giving the bridegroom time to write, said to him, "You will
please come with me, sir."

"And who are you?" said De Alcantara, with another useless oath.

"You know me very well. I could have arrested you upstairs, but I am
good-natured. I have the governor's warrant to deliver you to this
gentleman, who arrived from London this morning. He represents the
chief of police there. You are to answer in London for receiving Lady
Eustace's diamonds. We have been waiting for you since Tuesday, but
this gentleman only arrived this morning."

De Alcantara turned speechless upon the other, who, with the
well-trained civility of an officer of high rank in the English police,
hardly smiled. But the two recognized each other at a glance. De
Alcantara had known the other long before. And even he felt that rage
and oaths were useless.

"No," he said, as the other offered handcuffs; "_parole d'honneur_."
But the handcuffs were put on. And the officers declined his civil
offer of his own coupé.

On the registry of St. Jude's Church there is one certificate which
lacks the signature of the bridegroom and the bride.

In the state-prison at Amsterdam, prisoner No. 57, in Corridor D, is
sentenced to hard labor for fourteen years. He is the Duke de
Alcantara, without his mustache, and with very little of the rest of
his hair. The London authorities gave him up to the Dutch, when they
found that these last had the heaviest charges against him.

De Alcantara had known that the United States had no extradition treaty
with Holland, but he had not rightly judged the ingenuity of the Dutch
police.

       *       *       *       *       *

Whoever else was at this wedding, old Bryan was not there, nor was Mrs.
Goole. But thanks to the enterprise of the evening press of St. Louis,
old Bryan learned, before five o'clock, where his son-in-law that was
to be was spending his honeymoon. So did Mrs. Goole.

She waited on her brother to ask where she should go next. He bade her
go home, and never let him see her face again. Nor did she, so far as I
know.

For him, the poor "old" man--one can but pity him--took a return ticket
to Blunt Axe, which is the station nearest to the bridge. There must be
some watchman at the bridge, and perhaps he would know something. At
the Central Station the obsequious Pullman's porter met him.

"Cleopatra, sir? Have your choice of berths, sir. Going home empty,
sir."

So little did the porter remember the haggard man. Old Bryan did not
reply. He shuffled by the porter. But the question reminded him of the
Saratoga trunk, and after a moment's doubt he went to claim it.

"No, sir. Bring the check, sir. No baggage given here, sir, without the
checks." Poor old man, he could even see the trunk. But the check, most
likely, was in De Alcantara's pocket. He tried to explain.

"No use talking, sir. You keep this gentleman waiting. Bring the
check." And all poor old Bryan could do was to select a seat in the car
most distant from that fatal Cleopatra. The Pullman porter could enlist
but three passengers for her,--Lucy Lander and the frightened Bryan
children.

No! it was morning before they had any companions to whom to tell
dreams or adventures. But, early in the morning, the train stops at
Chimborazo. Poor old Bryan had left it in the night at Blunt Axe, and
was even then scanning the rails of the fatal bridge and peering down
into the river. Was this blood or iron-rust? Was yonder white gleam a
bit of his child's clothing?

The train stops at Chimborazo. And Lucy Lander and the children are not
to be longer alone. Horace Ray enters. Jane Forsyth enters. And here
are Fanny and Alice and Emma--all the girls--and Walter and Siegfried
and James--all the boys. We change porters. Here comes John, the boy we
started with on the wedding journey.

Scree! Scree! "All aboard!" The train dashes away.

"John, you make up six," says Horace, to the amazement of all the
others; and Horace stands by as John unbolts the upper berth and lets
it down.

And there, as fresh as a rose, as if she were just waking from happy
dreams--there lies, there smiles, our Hester! Yes, it is she. She rises
on her elbow, she jumps into Horace's arms. Fairly before all these
people--are they not friends, and true friends?--kisses her, and she
kisses him.

"Did you sleep well, my darling?"

"I believe--well, I believe it has not seemed long. Yes, I must have
slept sometimes."

And Horace slipped the old engagement-ring upon the naked finger.

"You may bring in breakfast, John."

And this time the breakfast was hot, the appetites were sure, and,
without champagne, the party was merry.

Lucy Lander told the fate of Baltasar. Jane Foryth asked where the
Saratoga trunk was, and Hester produced the check from her own pocket.

At the crossing at New Dutzow the Cleopatra was detached from the
express-train, and, to the marvel of waiting Buckeye boys, passed up on
the virgin rails of the Scioto Valley Line, unaccustomed to such
wonders. A special engine was waiting. A short hour brought the merry
party to Kiowa Centre. There was Horace's buggy, there were carriages
galore, and a more modest procession than that of yesterday took them
to the Methodist meeting-house.

And there Asbury Perham, who told me the end of the story, asked Horace
Ray if he would have this woman to be his wedded wife. And he said, "I
will."

And there the existence of Hester Bryan, my pretty friend, under that
particular name which she had borne from her infancy, ended.



MAX KEESLER'S HORSE-CAR.


Yes, Mr. Keesler told me the story, virtually in confession. It is a
queer story, and I was somewhat at loss as to the counsel I was to give
him. So I take the gentle reader into my confidence and his. I may as
well say, as I begin, that it was not in Boston or in Brooklyn or in
New York that this happened. The place was a sea-board town, where most
of the people lived in a pretty suburb, but came into the old compact
city for their work and for their amusements.



CHAPTER I.

THE PAINT-SHOP.


"It all began with the paint-shop," he said.

I knew that "the dumb man's borders still increase," so I asked no
question what the paint-shop was, and by listening I learned.

"The paint-shop was in the garden of the little house Bertha and I had
hired just after Elaine was born. When the agent gave me the keys, he
said, 'There is a paint-shop in the garden, but you can make that
useful for something.'"

So, indeed, it proved. Max Keesler and Bertha Keesler did make the
paint-shop good for something, as you shall see, if you dare keep on
with the story. But he never thought of it at the beginning.

Max had married Bertha, prudently or imprudently, as you may
think--prudently, I think--just because he loved her and she loved him.
They were not quite penniless; they were not at all penniless. He had
two or three thousand dollars in the savings-bank, and she had rather
more in bonds. Max had a good berth, the day he was married, in a
piano-forte factory. He earned his twenty-five dollars a week, with a
good chance to earn more. I do not think they were imprudent at all.

But while they were on their wedding journey a panic began. Max always
remembered afterward that he read of the first gust of misfortune in a
Tribune which he bought in the train as they came from Niagara. That
was the first gust, but by no means the last. The last? I should think
not. Gusts, blasts, hurricanes, and typhoons came. Half the business
establishments of the country went to the bottom of the oceans they
were cruising on, and among the rest poor Max's own piano-forte
factory. Nay, it seemed to Max that every other piano factory he ever
heard of had gone under, or was likely to.

So that when the little Elaine was born, and they wanted to leave the
boarding-house, which they hated, Max was out of work, and they were as
economical as they could be. Still they determined that they would hire
rooms somewhere, and keep house. Bertha knew she could manage better
than that odious Mrs. Odonto, who polished their teeth so with her
horrid steaks. And it ended in their hiring--dog-cheap, because times
were so bad--this tumble-down old house on the corner of Madison Avenue
and Sprigg Court, which, as you know, had a paint-shop in the garden.

"The truth is," said the agent, "that the Cosmopolitan Railway Company,
when they began, hired the barn and fitted it up for a paint-shop. They
would leave their cars there to dry. But that was long ago. And no one
has wanted to hire these premises till now. You don't happen to know a
painter you could underlet the shop to?"

No. Max knew no such painter. But he figured to himself better times,
when they would fit up the paint-shop as a sort of summer music-room.
And it was pleasant to know that they had something to let, if only any
one wanted to hire.

All the same, as he said to me when he began his confession, all his
guilt, if it were guilt, all the crime, where there was crime, was
"along of the paint-shop," as the reader, if he be patient, shall see.



CHAPTER II.

THE WOMAN BEGAN IT.


"Did you ever notice," said Bertha, at tea one night, "that the rails
still run into the paint-shop, just as when the railway people painted
their cars there?"

"Why, of course I have," said Max, surprised. "They took up the frog in
the avenue, but the old rails were not worth taking."

"I suppose so," said Bertha meekly. "I have been thinking," she
said--"I have been wondering whether--don't you think we might--just
while business is so dull, you know--have a car of our own?"

"Have a car of our own!" screamed Max, dropping knife and fork this
time. "What do we want of a car?"

"We don't want it," said Bertha, "of course, unless other people want
it." But then she went on to explain that, no matter how hard were the
times, she observed that the street-cars were always full. People had
to stand in them at night coming out from the theatre, although that
did not seem right or fair. Bertha had measured the paint-shop, and had
found that there was room enough in it not only for a car, but for two
horses. The old loft of its early days, when it served for a stable,
was left as it was made, big enough for a ton or two of hay. It had
occurred to Bertha that, as Max had nothing else to do, he might buy
two horses and a street-car, and earn a penny or two for Elaine's milk
and oatmeal by running an opposition to the Cosmopolitan Company.

Max loved Bertha, and he greatly respected her judgment. But he was
human, and therefore he pooh-poohed her plan as absurd--really because
it was hers. All the same, after supper he went out and looked at the
paint-shop; and the next morning he climbed into the loft and measured
it. Poor Max, he had little enough else to do. He sawed and split all
the wood. He made the fire. He would fain have cooked the dinner and
set the table, but Bertha would not let him. He had nothing else to do.
Not a piano-forte hammer was there to cover between the Penobscot and
the Pacific, and the panic seemed more frightened and more frightful
than ever. So Max did not waste any valuable time, though he did spend
an hour in the old hay-loft.

And at dinner it was he who took up the subject.

"Who did you suppose would drive the horse-car, Bertha?"

"Why, I had thought you would. I knew you were on their list for a
driver's place at the Cosmopolitan office. And I thought, if you had
your own car, you could be your own driver."

"And who was to be conductor?"

Then Bertha shut the window, for fear the little birds should hear. And
she said that it had made so much fun at Christmas when she dressed up
in Floyd's ulster, and that even Max's father had not known her, that
she had been thinking that if they only made evening trips, when it was
dark, if Max always drove she should not be afraid to be conductor
herself.

Oh, how Max screamed! He laughed, and he laughed, as if he had never
laughed before. Then he stopped for a minute for breath, and then he
laughed again. At first Bertha laughed, and then she was frightened,
and then she was provoked.

"Why should I not be conductor? If you laugh any more, I shall offer
myself to the company to-morrow, and I will wear a crimson satin frock,
and a hat with an ostrich feather. Then we will see which car is the
fullest. Cannot I hand a gentleman in quite as well as this assiduous
squinting man who hands me in? Can't I make change as fast as that man
who gave you a fifteen-cent bill for a quarter? I will not be laughed
at, though I am a woman."

So Max stopped laughing for a minute. But he had laughed so much that
they discussed no more details that day. Any allusion to fares or
platforms or the rail was enough to make his face redden, and to compel
him to crowd his handkerchief into his mouth. And Bertha would not
encourage him by laughing when he did.



CHAPTER III.

A LODGMENT MADE.


All the same a lodgment had been made. The idea had been suggested to
Max, and the little seed Bertha had planted did not die. Poor fellow!
his name was on the lists of all the railway companies, and so were the
names of five thousand other fellows out of work. His name was also on
the postmaster's list of applicants for the next vacancy among clerks
or carriers. The postmaster was amazingly civil; asked Max to write the
name himself, so that there need be no mistake. So Max observed that
his name came at the bottom of the seventh long column of K's, there
being so many men whose name began with K who needed employment. He
calculated roughly, from the size of the book, that about seven
thousand men had applied before him. Then he went to the mayor to see
if he could not be a policeman, or a messenger at the City Hall. He had
first-rate introductions. The mayor's clerk was very civil, but he said
that they had about eight thousand people waiting there. So Max's
chances of serving the public seemed but poor.

And thus it was that he haunted the paint-shop more and more. At first
he had no thought, of course, of anything so absurd as Bertha's plan;
still, all the same, it would do no harm to think it over, and the
thinking part he did, and he did it carefully and well. He went through
all the experiences of driver and of conductor in his imagination. He
made it his duty to ride on the front platform always as he went to
town or returned, that he might catch the trick of the brakes, and be
sure of the grades. Nay, he learned the price of cars, and found from
what factories the Cosmopolitan was supplied.

When a man thus plans out a course of life, though he thinks he does it
only for fun, it becomes all the more easy to step into it. If he has
learned the part, he is much more likely to play it than he would be if
he had it still to learn. And as times grew harder and harder, when at
last Max had to make a second hole in his bank deposit, and a pretty
large one too, tired with enforced idleness, as he had never been by
cheerful work, Max took one of those steps which cannot be retraced. He
wrote, what he used to call afterward "the fatal letter," on which all
this story hangs.

But this was not till he had had a careful and loving talk with Bertha.
He loved her more than ever, and he valued her more than ever, after
this year and a half of married life. And Bertha could have said the
like of Max. There was nothing she would not do for him, and she knew
that there was nothing he would not do for her.

Max told her at last that he felt discouraged. Everybody said, "Go
West": but what could he do at the West? He did not know how to plough,
and she did not know how to make cheese. No. He said he had laughed at
her plan of the street-car at first, but he believed there was "money
in it." They would have to spend most of their little capital in the
outfit. A span of horses and a car could not be had for nothing. But
once bought, they were property. He did not think they had better try
to run all day. That would tire Bertha, and the horses could not stand
it. But if she were serious, he would try. He would write to Newcastle,
to a firm of builders whom the Cosmopolitan had sometimes employed. He
would look out for a span of horses and proper harness. If she would
have her dress ready, they could at least try when the car arrived. If
she did not like it, he would make some appeal to the builders to take
the car off his hands. But, in short, he said, if she did not really,
in her heart, favor the plan, he would never speak of it nor think of
it again.

He was serious enough now. There was no laughing nor treating poor
Bertha's plan as a joke. And she replied as seriously. They had always
wished, she said, that his work was what she could help in. Here seemed
to be a way to earn money, and, for that matter, to serve mankind too,
where they could work together. True, the custom had been to carry on
this business by large companies. But she saw no reason why a man and
his wife should not carry it on as well as forty thousand shareholders.
If it took her away from the baby, it would be different. But if they
only went out evenings, after the little girl had gone to sleep, why,
she always slept soundly till her father and mother came to bed, and
Bertha would feel quite brave about leaving her.

So, as I said, the lodgment was made. After this serious talk, Max
wrote the fatal letter to the car-builders.

It was in these words:--

"351 MADISON AVENUE, April 1, 1875.

"DEAR SIR,--Can you furnish one more car, same pattern and style as the
last furnished for the Cosmopolitan Company? The sooner the better. You
will be expected to deliver on the Delaware Bay Line of steamers for
this port, and forward invoice to this address.

"Respectfully yours,

"MAX KEESLER."

To which came an answer that fortunately they had on hand such a car as
he described, and that as soon as the last coat of paint and lettering
could be put on, it should be shipped. Max wrote by return mail to
order the words "Madison Avenue Line" painted on each side, to direct
that the color should be the same as that of the Madison Avenue Line,
and he inclosed a banker's draft for the amount. Never had the
Newcastle builders been better pleased with the promptness of the pay.

And everything happened, as Max told me afterward, to favor his plans.
The _Richard Penn_ steamer chose to arrive just before seven o'clock in
the afternoon. Max was waiting at the pier with his span of horses. The
car could be seen prominent in the deck cargo. The clerks and agents
were only too glad to be rid of her at once. Quarter of an hour did not
pass before some sturdy Irishmen had run her upon the branch-rails
which went down the pier. The horses behaved better than he dared
expect. When he brought his new treasure in triumph into the
paint-shop, and found Bertha, eager with excitement, waiting for him
there, he told her that he had rejected, he believed, a hundred
passengers by screaming, "Next car--next car!" as he had driven up
through the city into the more sequestered avenue.

It was too late to go back, had they doubted.

But they did not doubt.



CHAPTER IV.

AN EXPERIMENT.


Bertha heard with delight, listened eagerly, and sympathized heartily.
When Max had told his tale, he went round to his handsome span of
horses to take off their collars and headstalls.

"Stop a minute, Max," said Bertha, who held his lantern; "stop a
minute,--if you are not too tired. We shall do nothing else to-night.
Suppose we just try one trip,--just for fun."

"But you are not ready."

"I? I will be ready as soon as you are. See!" and she vanished into the
harness-room. Max hardly believed her; but he did unfasten his horses,
a little clumsily, led them round to the other end of the car, and
hooked on the heavy cross-bar; ran open the sliding-door of the shop,
and looked out upon the stars; went to the back platform and loosened
the brake there; and then, as he stepped down, he met a spruce,
wide-awake young fellow, who said, "Hurry up, driver! Time's up; can't
wait all night here."

"Bertha, my child," cried Max, "your own mother would not know you!"

"As to that, we'll see," said the young man. "All aboard!" and she
struck the bell above her head with the most knowing air.

The trouble was, as Max said afterward, to run the wheels into the
street-rails when no one was passing. But he had, with a good deal of
care, wedged in some bits of iron, which made an inclined plane on the
outside of the outer rail, and as the car was always light when he
started, the horses and he together soon caught the knack. A minute,
and they were free of the road, bowling along at the regulation pace of
seven miles an hour. For their trip down and back they were quite free
from official criticism. The office was at the upper end of Madison
Avenue, a mile or more above them.

And never did young lover by the side of his mistress drive his span of
bays through Central Park with more delight than Max drove Bertha in
that glad minute when she stood on the platform by his side, before
they were hailed by their first passenger.

Bertha will remember that old woman to her dying day,--an old
Irishwoman, who, as Bertha believes, kept a boarding-house. She had
with her an immense basket, redolent of cabbage, and of who shall say
what else. No professional conductor would have let her carry that
hundredweight of freight without an extra fare. But Bertha was so
frightened as she asked for one fare that she had no thought of
claiming two. Bertha made a pretext of helping the woman with the
basket, knowing, as she did so, that it would have anchored her to the
roadway had she been left alone with it. When basket and owner were
well inside the car, Bertha put her head into the doorway, and said, as
gruffly as she knew how, "You must put that basket with the driver if
you expect us to take it." The poor woman was used to being bullied
more severely, and meekly obeyed.

Next three giggling girls with two admirers, glorious in white satin
neckties, all on their way to the Gayety, all talking together with
their highkeyed voices, and each of the three determined not to be the
one neglected in the attentions of the two. Great frolic, laughter,
screaming on the high key, and rushing back and forward, before they
determined whether they would sit all on one side, or three on one seat
and two on the other, and in the latter case, which girl should be the
third. Riot and screaming not much silenced by the entrance of three
old gentlemen, also in white neckties, on their way to the Thursday
Club. Two paper-hangers, late from an extra job, have to place their
pails on the front platform, and stand there with their long boards.
Next comes a frightened shop-girl from the country. It is her first
experiment in going down to the city at night, and long ago she wished
she had not tried it. But Bertha hands her in so pleasantly, and
insists on making a seat for her so bravely that the poor, pale thing
looks all gratitude as she cuddles back in the corner and makes herself
as small as she can.

And at last there are so many that poor Bertha must force herself to go
through the car and take up the fares. Nor is it so hard as it seemed.
Some give unconsciously. Some are surprised, and dig out the money from
deep recesses, as if it were an outrage that they should be expected to
pay. One old gentleman even demands change for five dollars. But Bertha
was all ready for that. She is more ready for the hard exigencies than
she is for the easy ones. And when she comes to the front platform she
taps the two paper-hangers quite bravely, and has quite a gruff voice
as she bids Max to be sure and stop at the South Kensington crossing
before they come to the gutter.

By and by, as they come nearer the city proper, the car and platforms
fill up. Bertha pushes through on her second and third tour of
collection, and at last, at a stop, runs forward to her husband. "Be
sure you stop at Highgate. I shall be inside. But all these theatre
people leave there." This aloud, and then she leaned down to whisper,
"There are three men smoking on the platform, and they make me sick.
What can I do?"

"I should like to thrash them," said Max, in a rage. "But you must
bully them yourself. I'll stand by you, and will call an officer if
there is a row."

Bertha gained new life, worked steadily back through the crowded
passage, opened the door, and spoke:--

"Smoking not permitted, gentlemen. Lady faint inside."

Without a whisper the three men emptied their pipes and pocketed them,
and Bertha had won her first great victory. The second never costs so
much as the first, nor is it ever so remembered.

"Could you know--should you know--can you tell--about when we come to
97 Van Tromp Street, and would you kindly stop there?" This was the
entreating request of the poor, frightened shop-girl.

"Certainly, ma'am; you said 97?" said Bertha, as grimly as before to
the boarding-house keeper, but determined that that girl should go
right, even if the car stopped an hour.

And when they came to 97, Bertha handed her down, and led her to the
door, and pealed at the bell as if she had been a princess. "Oh, I
thank you so!" said the poor, shrinking girl. "And please tell me when
your car goes back. I will be all ready."

This, as Bertha says to this hour, was the greatest compliment of her
life.

They came home light, for it was in that dead hour before the theatres
and concerts are pouring out their thousands. Bertha did not forget 97
Van Tromp Street, and her poor little ewe-lamb was waiting at the door
as the great car stopped itself, uncalled. As they approached Sprigg
Court there was but one passenger left,--a poor tired newspaper man,
going out to Station 11 to see who had cut his throat in that precinct,
or what child had been run over.

"Far as we go," said Bertha, in her gruffest voice.

And the poor fellow, who was asleep, tumbled out, not knowing where he
was, and unable, of course, to express his surprise.



CHAPTER V.

REGULAR WORK.


When they were once home, both of them were too much excited and quite
too tired to think of a second round trip, even to catch the theatres.
Glad enough were they to shut the paint-shop. Bertha held the lantern
while Max rubbed down the horses and put them up for the night. Then
she disappeared in the harness-room, re-appeared in her own character
in a time incredibly short, and ran into the house at once to see how
the baby was.

Baby! Dear little chit, she had not moved a hand since her mother left
her. So, with a light heart, Bertha joined her husband in the kitchen.

They counted up the money, and subtracted what Bertha had started with.
Happily for them, the Cosmopolitan had not then introduced the
bell-punch, nor did it ever, so far as I know, introduce the bother of
tickets. Max and Bertha followed in all regards the customs of the
Cosmopolitan. The freight down town had been very large, the freight up
had been light; but they were seven dollars and fifty-five cents richer
than they were three hours before.

"How much money it looks like!" said Bertha. "Even with that old man's
five-dollar bill, it makes so big a pile. I never saw two dollars in
nickels before."

"I hope you may see a great many before you are done, my sweet," said
Max cheerily.

"But is it fairly ours? Are you troubled about that?"

"I am sure we have worked for it," said Max, laughing. "I know I never
worked so hard in my life, and I do not believe you ever did."

"No: if that were all."

"And is it not all? The car is bought with your money. The horses and
their hay were bought with mine."

"But the rails," persisted Bertha, a little unfairly, as she had
planned the whole.

"The rails," said Max coolly, "belong to the public. They are a part of
the pavement of the street, as has been determined again and again. If
I chose to have a coach built to run in the track, nobody could hinder
me. This is my hackney-coach, and you and I are friends of the people."

So Bertha's conscience was appeased, and they went happily to bed.

The next morning Max came home in great glee. He had seen Mr.
Federshall, his old foreman, who always was cordial and sympathetic. He
had told Mr. Federshall where he lived; that he had an old stable on
the premises, and that, for a little, he was keeping a pair of horses
there; that he had no other regular employment. And Mr. Federshall, of
his own accord, had asked him to keep his covered buggy. "I have had to
sell my horses long ago," he said, laughing. And Max was to store the
buggy, and take his pay in the use of it for nothing.

So they might go to ride that living morning with the span, take the
baby, and have no end of a "good time."

A lovely day, and a lovely ride they had of it. The baby chirruped, and
was delighted, and pretended to know cows when they were pointed out to
her, as if, in fact, the poor wretch knew a cow from a smoke-stack. All
the same, they enjoyed their new toy--and freedom.

With this bright omen "regular work" began. But they soon found that as
"regular work" meant two round trips every evening, they must not often
take the horses out in the morning. As Max pointed out to Bertha, they
had better hire a horse for three dollars and a half than lose one
round trip. So, in the long run, they only treated themselves to a
drive on a birthday or other anniversary.

A good deal of the work was a mere dragging grind, as is true of most
work. Bertha declared that it came by streaks. Some nights the
passengers were all crazy: women would stop the car when they did not
want to get out; people would come rushing down side-streets to come on
board, who found they wanted to be put out as soon as they had entered;
a sweet-faced little woman would discover, after she was well in, that
she was going into town when she should be going out; another would
make a great row, and declare she had paid a fare, and afterward find
that she had it in her glove. And all these things would happen on the
same night. On another night everything would be serene, and the people
as regular as if they were checker-men or other puppets. They would sit
where they ought, stand where they should, enter at the right place,
leave where they meant to; and Bertha would have as little need to
bother herself about them as about that dear little baby who was
sleeping at home so sweetly.

The night which she now looks back upon with most terror, perhaps, was
the night when a director of the Cosmopolitan came on board. She was
frightened almost beyond words when the tidy old gentleman nodded and
smiled with a patronizing air. Did he mean to insult her? She just
turned to the passenger opposite, and then, with her utmost courage,
she turned to him, and said firmly, "Fare sir."

"Fare? Why, my man, I am a director. I am Mr. Siebenhold."

The passengers all grinned, as if to say not to know Mr. Siebenhold was
to argue one's self unknown. Bertha had to collect all her powers. What
would the stiffest martinet do in her place? She gulped down her
terror.

"I can't help that, sir. If you are a director, you have a director's
pass, I suppose?"

Magnificent instinct of a woman! For Bertha had never heard of a
director's pass nor contemplated the exigency.

"Pass?" said the great man. "Well, yes--pass? I suppose I have." And
from the depths of an inside pocket a gigantic pocket-book appeared.
From its depths, with just the least unnecessary display of greenbacks,
a printed envelope appeared. From its depths a pink ticket, large and
clean, appeared. "How will that do, my man?"

For all Bertha could see, the pass might have been in Sanskrit. Her
eyes, indeed, were beginning to brim over. But she walked to the light,
looked at the pass, said "All right" as she gave it back, and took out
her own note-book to enter the free passenger.

"You've not been long on the line?" said the old gentleman fussily.

"Not very long, sir."

"Well, my lad"--more fussily--"you have done perfectly
right--perfectly. I hope all the conductors are as careful. I shall
name you to Mr. Beal. What is your number?"

Bertha pointed to her jaunty cap, and said "537" at the same moment.
The old gentleman took down the number, and did not forget his promise.

The next day he talked to the superintendent an hour, to that worthy's
great disgust. When Mr. Siebenhold left the office at last, the
superintendent said to the cashier, "The old fool wanted 'to recommend
No. 537.' I did not tell him that we only have three hundred and thirty
men."

So Bertha passed her worst trial, as she thought it then. But a harder
test was in store.



CHAPTER VI.

YOUR UNCLE.


The baby was growing to be no baby. She was big enough to run about the
floor, and if they had a boiled chicken for dinner, the little girl
sucked and even gnawed at the bones. The autumn had gone, and Bertha
had a long winter ulster to do her cold work in, and Max a longer and a
heavier one for his. Still, neither of them flinched. Max did not like
his work as well as he liked covering piano-forte hammers, but he liked
it better than nothing. And Bertha liked to be out of debt, and to see
Max happy. So never did she ask him to drop a trip, and never did he
ask her.

It was a light trip one evening, for the weather was disagreeable, and
unless the theatre filled them up, it would be a very poor evening's
work. As they went out of town nearly empty, Bertha came rushing out
upon the front platform to Max, and said to him, in terror, "Your uncle
and aunt are on board!"

"What?"

"Your Uncle Stephen, from New Britain, and your aunt, and they have two
of your old-fashioned German carpet-bags, two baskets and a bird-cage.
They are coming to make us a visit. He asked me very carefully to leave
them at the corner of Sprigg Court."

"Make us a visit!" cried Max, aghast. "How can we run the car?"

"I don't know that," said Bertha. "I should like to know first how they
are to get into the house."

"That, indeed," said Max; and, after a pause, "You must manage it
somehow."

That is what men always say to their wives when the puzzle is beyond
their own solution. And Bertha managed it. Fortunately for her, the
night was dark. The old uncle and aunt were quite out of their
latitude, and they didn't know their longitude. They were a good deal
dazed by the unusual experience of travel. They were very obedient when
Bertha stopped the car a full square before she came to her own house,
and said,--

"You had better get out here. I will take your baskets and the cage."
This she did, and deposited all three of the bipeds on the sidewalk.
She bade them "Good evening" even, and, when the old gentleman had at
last put his somewhat cumbrous question, "Could you kindly tell us on
which corner Mr. Max Keesler lives?" the car was gone in the darkness.

Short work that night as Bertha doffed her ulster and assumed her home
costume. For Max, he only tethered the horses, and then ran into the
house, lighted it, and waited. Bertha joined him, however, before his
uncle appeared. And leaving her in her own parlor, the guilty Max put
on his hat, walked down the avenue, and met his dazed relatives, so
that he could help them and the canary-bird and the baskets to his own
door.

"Come, Bertha, come!" he cried. "Here is Uncle Stephen and my aunt!"

"Where did you drop from, dear aunt?" And the dear old lady explained
how they had rung at the wrong door, how long the servant was in
coming, and then how badly the servant understood their English.

"But how came you there at all?" persisted Bertha.

"Oh, the conductor left us at the wrong street."

"At the wrong street!" cried Bertha. "These conductors are so careless!
But this man must have done it on purpose. What looking man was he?"

"My dear child," said her aunt, speaking in German, "you must not blame
him; he was very young and very kind; perhaps he was a new man, and did
not know. He was very kind, and carried the bird himself to the
sidewalk."

After this, mischievous Mistress Bertha did not dare say a word.

But there was no second trip that evening.

       *       *       *       *       *

Nor the next evening. Nor the next. Nor the next. Nor for many evenings
more.

Max and Bertha took Uncle Stephen and their aunt to the little German
play of the Turnverein; they took them to the German opera, which, by
good luck, came to town, but they did not go in Max's car. Max took his
aunt to ride one day, and another day he took Uncle Stephen, but not in
his own car. The horses were eating their heads off, as he confessed to
Bertha, but not a wisp of hay nor a grain of oats could he or she earn
for them. One is glad to have his aunt and uncle come and see him. But
how shall the pot boil if aunt and uncle cut off the channel through
which the water flows to the pot, nay, block the wheels of the dray
which brings the coal to the fire?

At last one fatal day Uncle Stephen, as he smoked his pipe, came out,
as he was fond of doing, to the paint-shop to see Max rub down his
horses. Nay, the old man walked out into the garden, threw out the
lighted _Tabak_ which he loved so well, threw off his coat, and with a
wisp of straw rubbed down one horse himself.

"I show you how," he said. "The poor brute--you do not half groom him."
This in German.

"Ah me!" Max replied. "We must groom them well. The proverb says, 'When
the horse is to be sold, his skin must shine.'"

"Must he be sold, then, my boy?"

"Ah me! yes, he must be sold. He eats off his head. As the proverb
says, 'If the man is hungry, the beast goes to the fair.'"

"Mein Gott!" said the old man, not irreverently; "it is indeed hard
times."

"Hard times," said Max, "or I would not sell my bays. But the proverb
says, 'It is better to go afoot fat than to be starved and ride.'"

"And what do these people pay you for storing this car here, my son?"

"Pay me? They pay not a pfennig. But the proverb says, 'Better fill
your house with cats than leave it empty.'"

"Mein Gott! they should pay some rent," said the old man. "I see by the
rail they use it sometimes."

And Max said nothing.

The next day the old man returned to the charge.

"My son Max," he said, "do this company keep their car here, and pay
nothing?"

"They pay nothing," said Max. "The proverb says, 'The rich miller did
not know that the mill-boy was hungry.'"

"My son Max, let us take out the car at night, and let us drive down
town and back, and we will get some rent from them."

Guilty Max! He started as if he were shot.

"Max, my son, do you drive the horses, and I will be the boy
behind--what you call conductor."

Guilty Max! His face was fire. He bent down and concealed himself
behind the horse he was rubbing.

"What do you say, my son? Shall I not make as good conductor as my
little Bertha?"

Then guilty Max knew that his uncle knew all. But indeed the old man
had not suspected at the first. Only there had seemed to him something
natural, which he could not understand, in the face of the handsome
young conductor. But, as chance had ordered,--good luck, bad luck, let
the reader say,--early the next morning, as he smoked his pipe before
breakfast, he had walked into the paint-shop. Then he had stepped into
the car. On the floor of the car he had found his wife's handkerchief,
the loss of which she had deplored, and evident traces of birdseed from
the cage. The old man was slow, but he was sure; and a few days of rapt
meditation on these observations had brought him out on a result not
far from true.

"My son," he said, after Max had made confession, "if the business is
all right, as you say, why do we not follow it in the daytime?"

Max said that he did not like to expose Bertha to observation in the
daytime.

"But, my son, why do you not expose me to observation in the daytime?
If it is all right, I will go down town with you. I will go now."

Then Max said that, though it was all right according to the higher
law, the local law had not yet been interpreted on this subject, and he
was afraid the police would stop them.

"Ah, well, I understand," said the old man. "Let them stop us; let us
have one grand lawsuit, and let us settle it forever."

Then Max explained, further, that he had no money for a lawsuit, and
that before the suit was settled he should be penniless.

"Ah, well," said Uncle Stephen, "and I--who have money enough--I never
yet spent a kreutzer at law, and, God willing, I never will. But, my
son, let me tell you. What we do, let us do in the light. At night let
us play, let us go to the theatre, let us dance, let us sing. If this
business is good business, let us do it by daylight. Come with me. Let
us see your bureau man--what you call him--Obermeister, surintendant.
Come!" And he hauled guilty Max with him in a rival's car to the
down-town office of Mr. Beal, the superintendent.

And then the End came.



CHAPTER VII.

THE END.


Max and his uncle entered the office, and were ushered into Mr. Beal's
private room.

"Be seated, gentlemen--one moment;" and in a moment the tired man of
affairs turned, with that uninterested bow, as if he knew they had
nothing of any import to say.

But when Max, man fashion, held up his head and entered squarely on his
story, Mr. Beal colored and was all attention. A minute more, and Mr.
Beal rose and closed the door, that he might be sure they were not
heard. Indeed, he listened eagerly, and yet as if he did not wish Max
to be proved in the wrong.

"In short," said Max, at the end, "if what I have done is wrong, I have
come to say that I do not want any fight with the company, and I should
be glad to make amends."

Strange to say, the man of affairs hardly seemed to heed him. Mr. Beal
was already in a brown study.

"Oh, yes, certainly. I am sure I am much obliged. I beg your pardon.
Have you said all you wished to say?"

"Nothing more," said Max, half offended.

"I beg your pardon," said Mr. Beal again.

"I came to beg yours," said Max, just rising to the drollery of the
position.

"I beg your pardon," said Mr. Beal once more, "but--I have been
afraid--of this thing ever since I was on the line. You say you do not
want to fight with the company. Quite right, young man, quite right!
The company is friends with all the world, and wants no fighting."

But after this pacific beginning Mr. Beal went on to say that he was
well aware, and that the directors were aware, that any man had a right
to use their rails if he did not interfere with the public convenience.
He did not say, but Max was quick enough to see, that the fact that he
and Bertha had used the rails for so long a time, and the company never
knew it, was itself evidence that the public had suffered no
inconvenience.

In an instant Max saw, and his uncle saw, that Mr. Beal was much more
anxious to keep this fact from the public than he was to apprehend any
offenders, if offenders they had been.

"Mr. Keesler, the press would make no end of fun of us if this thing
was known."

This after a pause.

"Suppose, Mr. Keesler, you turn your stock over to us, at a fair
valuation, and I give you the first berth I have as a driver? I am
afraid I cannot engage your conductor."

This with a sick smile. Max was amazed. He came to be scolded. It
seemed he was expected to offer terms.

"Frankly, Mr. Keesler, we had rather not have much public discussion as
to the rights of individuals to put their cars on our rails. You seem
to be tired of the business. What do you say?"

Max made a very short answer.

The truth was, he was sick to death of the business. In very little
time he had named his price for the car, and as soon as it was named,
Mr. Beal agreed.

"But how shall I take possession?" said Mr. Beal. "If I send one of my
men for it, the story will be in the Herald within three days."

"Trust me for that," said Max. "Till you have your car you need not
send your check."

The Cosmopolitan cars do not run after midnight. At one the next
morning Max drew out the fatal truck upon the avenue, down to the top
of the steep grade at De Kalb Street, braked up, and then took off his
horses. Then, with the exquisite relief with which a soldier after his
enlistment leaves his barracks, Max loosened the brake, jumped from the
platform, and saw the car run from him into the night.

The first morning driver on the Cosmopolitan, in the gray of the
morning, met an empty car on the long causeway at Pitt's Dock. He
coupled it to his own car, reported it, and was told to take it to the
new Herkimer stables.

       *       *       *       *       *

And Max?

And Bertha?

Uncle Stephen and the good frau found life in Sprigg Court too
comfortable to want to move. Little Elaine was such a pet, and dear
Bertha was so much like her mother!

It ended when they took the rest of the house upstairs, and Uncle
Stephen made Max his man of business in that curious commerce of his
with Natal and the Mozambique Channel.

       *       *       *       *       *

Still Max's conscience sometimes disturbs him. In one of such moods he
comes to me to confess and receive counsel. Absolution I do not give.

And it is thus, gentle reader, that it happens that I tell his story to
you.



THE MODERN PSYCHE.[1]

[Footnote 1: Readers not quite at home in Mrs. Tighe or Apuleius may be
glad to revive their memories of the ancient Psyche by this note from
the Cyclopedia. The prettiest rendering of that story is in William
Morris's "Earthly Paradise"; but the reader will ask himself seriously
whether it be anything but an allegory to cover the moral in the
matter-of-fact tale before him.

Psyche, whose two elder sisters were of moderate beauty, was so lovely
that she was taken for Venus herself, and men dared only to adore her
as a goddess, not to love her. This excited the jealousy of Venus, who,
to revenge herself, ordered Cupid to inspire her with love for some
contemptible wretch. But Cupid fell in love with her himself. Meanwhile
her father, desiring to see his daughter married, consulted the oracle
of Apollo, which commanded that Psyche should be conveyed, with funeral
rites, to the summit of a mountain, and there left, for she was
destined to be the bride of a destructive monster, in the form of a
dragon, feared by gods and men. With sorrow was the oracle obeyed, and
Psyche was left alone on the desert rock, when suddenly Zephyr hovers
around her, gently raises and transports her to a beautiful palace of
the God of Love, who visits her every night, unseen and unknown,
leaving her at the approach of day. Perfect happiness would have been
the lot of Psyche, if, obedient to the warning of her lover, she had
never been curious to know him better. But by the artifices of her
jealous sisters, whom she had admitted to visit her, contrary to the
commands of Cupid, she was persuaded that she held a monster in her
arms, and curiosity triumphed. As he slept, she entered with a lamp to
examine him, and discovered the most beautiful of the gods. In her joy
and astonishment she let a drop of the heated oil fall upon his
shoulders. Cupid awoke, and, having reproached the astonished Psyche
for her suspicions, fled. She wandered everywhere in search of her
beloved, but she had lost him. Venus kept her near her person, treated
her as a slave, and imposed on her the severest and most trying tasks.
Psyche would have sunk under the burdens had not Cupid, who still
tenderly loved her, secretly assisted her in her labors.

When Psyche was finally reunited to Cupid in Olympus, her envious
sisters threw themselves from a precipice.]



CHAPTER I.


No, I do not know by what accident it was that Edward Ross came to
spend a week in August at the Columbia Hotel, at Hermon Springs.

No, and I do not know by what accident it was that all the Verneys were
there. The home of the Verneys is at Painted Post, as I suppose you
know. But this year the Verneys took a holiday for a month at the
Columbia Hotel, and while they were away from home the ceilings were
whitened, the house was painted inside and out, and new railings were
added to the outside steps at the side door.

What I do know is that it was at the Columbia Hotel that Edward Ross
first saw Psyche, who was the youngest daughter of the Verney
household. All the world of the Columbia Hotel had gone across to the
Solferino House, which was the other side of the way. There was a hop
at the Solferino House, and the general public had gone to the hop.
Ross had arrived late, the only passenger by that little one-horse
railway from Hudson. He came into the great drawing-room, and thought
he was alone. But he was not alone. Psyche, youngest of the Verney
girls, was at the piano, not playing, but looking over some music which
the Jeffrey girls had left there.

If you had asked the gossips of the hotel why Psyche did not go to the
hop where all her older sisters had gone, you would have been told that
she was but the half-sister of the other Verneys; that since her mother
died, these three older sisters had held a hard rein on poor Psyche;
that some one of them had laid down the law that there were so many of
them they must not all go together to any frolic. In the interpretation
of this law, Psyche always stayed at home if the party were pleasant,
and one or two of the older sisters stayed if it were likely to be
stupid. This is what the gossips of the hotel would have said, and this
is what I believe.

Anyway, it happened that on this particular evening Edward Ross threw
himself at length on a long sofa in the drawing-room, not knowing that
any one was there; and little Psyche, not knowing that he had come in,
crooned over the Jeffreys' music, and at last picked out something from
Mercadante which she had never seen before, and which did not seem to
her very difficult, and, after she had read the whole page down, tried
it, and tried it again, in her resolute, wide-awake, very satisfactory
way.

The third time she tried she was quite well pleased with her own
success, and this time, as she came down to the last staff, upon that
first page, Edward Ross's hand appeared on the top of the page, ready
to turn it over. Psyche neither screamed nor flinched. She nodded
simply: she was under the inspiration of the music now, and she played
well. She played the whole piece through. Then he thanked her, and she
thanked him. She played a good deal for him that evening. He brought
down his William Morris and showed it to her, and read to her some of
the best things in it. And so they spent two hours together very
nicely, and by the time the madding crowd came back from the Solferino
House, Psyche was not in the least sorry that she had not gone to the
hop, and Edward Ross was very glad she had not gone.

There is a lovely little burn or brook which runs through a shady
ravine behind the Columbia House, I forget what they call it. It might
be called the Lovers' Brook or the Maiden's Home or the Fairy's Bath,
or anything that verdant seventeen thought sweet enough. Age cannot
wither nor custom stale its infinite variety. Edward Ross found no
difficulty in making up a party of the young people at the hotel to go
on a picnic up this brook the next day. By some device he made Agnes
Verney think she would stay at home to flirt with an old West Indian,
who was far too gouty to go even to the first fall. This left the
pretty Psyche free to go. And she went, in the charming adornment of
the unadorned simplicity of her pretty mountain walking-dress. And
there were quite as many gentlemen as there were ladies, to help at all
the hard fords and to lift them at all the steep climbings. So
Priscilla Verney had her cavalier, and Polly Verney, whom the young men
called "Bloody Mary," had her Philip, and the Garner girls were taken
care of, and the Spragues and the Dunstables. For every girl, there was
a young man; and if at most of the separating places Edward Ross and my
pretty Psyche were together, it was not that they did not their full
duty by society; for they did.

And a very pleasant day it was. That day Jabez Sprague asked Ann Garner
to marry him, and she refused him point-blank: that made it a very
pleasant day to her. That day Tunstall Dunstable asked Martha Jeffrey
to marry him, and she said she would: that made it a very pleasant day
to her. They all came home at five or six in the afternoon, very bright
and jolly most of them, and those who were not bright and jolly
pretended they were. Edward Ross had not asked Psyche to marry him, but
I believe they had enjoyed the day as much as any one.

He had found out that this simple, shy, pretty little thing, who was
snubbed in the household, who was left in the cold in their
arrangements, and seemed to have no friends, had, all the same, a
sweet, happy, contented temper; that she had her own notions and
enthusiasms about books and men and duties; that she could not be made
to say that yellow was white, or even that crimson was scarlet; that
she never said she understood a thing but could not express herself, or
that she knew a thing unless she did know it. He found a woman of
principle under the form and method and semblance of a child.

And she had found out a man as fond of ferns as she was, who knew every
fern in this glen, and every fern like it in the Himalayas; a man as
fond of music as she was, who could not play as well as she could, and
yet he had heard Chopin play, had seen "The Huguenots" in Paris, and
had dined with Lang and Bennett and the Abbé Liszt himself. This man
loved her heroes, though he had travelled in a stage-coach with Wendell
Phillips, and had helped Mr. Sumner look up the authorities for one of
his speeches. This man could quote twenty lines of Tennyson to her one,
he had met Christina Rossetti at a party; and yet he really deferred to
Psyche's own recollection of a stanza of Mrs. Browning's which he had
quoted wrong. Psyche was not used to men who dared show their
enthusiasm, who dared confess their ignorance, who dared speak as if it
were a matter of course to trust God's love, and who owned they had
other objects in life than making money. Psyche and Edward Ross
returned to the hotel after a very happy day.

The next day Edward Ross brought out the largest and best apparatus for
water-color work that Psyche or any of the girls had ever seen. And
before long it proved that, though one "had no talent for drawing," and
another "could not sketch from nature," and another "could not do
landscape," and another "hated trees," that on the broad piazza of the
Columbia House five or six of them, Psyche included, could spend a very
pleasant morning, under his directions, reproducing, after a fashion,
on various blocks and in various books, the outlines of the blue Hoosac
Mountains and of the valleys between. And my pretty Psyche went far
beyond any of the rest, because she did as she was bid; she had no
conceit about her own ways; she waited till her teacher could attend to
her; she did not want to attract the attention of all the gentlemen on
the piazza; and she was not gabbling all the time she was working. So
that day they had a very happy day.

It is not within the space assigned to this story to tell how
pleasantly the rainy morning passed when Edward Ross read the "Earthly
Paradise" aloud to them, nor to describe the excursion which he
organized to Williams College Commencement, nor the party which he made
to see the Shakers, nor the evening concert of vocal and instrumental
music which he arranged, and for which he had such funny bills printed
at Pittsfield. No; these and the other triumphs of that week, long
remembered, shall be unrecorded.

Of its history, this is all that shall be told: that on Saturday Edward
Ross told Psyche that he loved her more than he loved his own life. She
told him that she loved him more than she loved hers. And so it was
that, in the exquisite joy of the new discovery of what life is and
what it is for, Edward Ross accompanied the Verneys on their way home
to Painted Post on Monday. There he asked for and there he gained the
consent of Psyche's father for their speedy marriage.

On Tuesday he had to go home to Boston, for his holiday was over. It
was a bitter parting, as you may imagine, between him and his Psyche,
who had never been separated for more than ten hours at a time till
now. For the last farewell Psyche took him on her favorite walk at
Painted Post. It is only less beautiful than the "Vestal's Glade," or
whatever we determined to call that burnie at Hermon.

"Dear Psyche," said he to her, "your life is mine henceforth, and mine
is yours. God knows I have but one wish and one prayer henceforth, and
those are to make you happy. It is because I wish that you may be happy
that I ask one thing now. Do you think you can grant it? It is a very
great thing to ask."

"Can I?" said the proud girl. "Why, darling, you do not know me yet."
She had never called him "darling" till an hour before.

"You must not promise till you know," said Edward Ross.

"I can promise and I will promise now. There is nothing you think right
to ask which I shall not think it right to do."

"Dearest, I do think this is right; I know it is right. It is because I
know it, because we shall be ten thousand times happier, and because I
shall be ten thousand times better for it, that I ask it. I would not
dream of it but for your sake--" And he paused.

"Why do you stop, my dear Edward? I have promised. What shall I do?"

"Dearest, you are to do nothing. Simply, you are not to ask what my
daily duty is, and you are not to ask me to introduce you to my
friends. It separates me less from my sunbeam than most men's cares.
Without knowing it, you can help me in a thousand ways in it. But to
know what it is will only bring care on you and grief on me. Can we not
live, as you trust me and as I love you, without my worrying you with
these petty cares?"

"Is that all?" said Psyche, with her pretty laugh. "Why, darling, if it
were to sweep the street-crossing,--as in that funny story you told
us,--I would sweep too. If it were to keep a gambling-table, you would
not have asked me to marry you. It is something honorable, that I know,
because you are my own Edward. Why need I know anything more?"

And he kissed her, and she kissed him; and they went home to his little
lunch; and then the express swept by, with Jim Fisk in uniform, as it
happened, in a palace-car. And so Edward Ross went to Boston and made
ready for his wedding.



CHAPTER II.


And a perfect wedding it was. I doubt if Painted Post remembers a
prettier wedding or a prettier bride. And in that same express train
Mr. E. Ross and his pretty bride swept off to New York, and so to
Boston; and there he took her to the first sight of her pretty home.

How pretty it was! It was in Roxbury, so it was half country; and there
was a pretty garden, with a little greenhouse such as Psyche had always
longed for. Nay, there was even a fern-house, with just the ferns she
loved, and with those other Himalaya ferns which he had talked of on
that lovely first day of all. And there was a perfect grand piano, of a
tone so sweet, and only one piece of music on the open rack, and that
was the Mercadante of the first evening. And when they went upstairs,
Psyche's own dressing-room was papered with the same paper which her
pretty room had at her old home, and the carpet on the floor was the
same, and every dear picture of her girlhood's collections was
duplicated; and just where the cage of her pretty bullfinch, Tom, had
hung, there hung just such a cage. Why, it was her cage, and her Tom
was in it!

For Psyche and Edward had spent a night and a day in New York, that she
might see Mr. Stewart's pictures and Mr. Johnson's; but Edward's
office-boy, who had been left at Painted Post especially that he might
bring the bullfinch, had taken a later train, indeed, but had come
through without stopping.

And when they went into Edward's little den, it had but two pictures:
one was Psyche's portrait, and the other was that miserable little
first picture of the Hoosac Hills.

And then such a happy life began for these young people! No, Psyche did
not find housekeeping hard. She had been the Cinderella at Mr. Verney's
house too long for that. Now that she was the mistress of servants, she
knew how to be kind to them and to enter into their lives. As Mrs.
Wells says, "she tried the Golden Rule" with them. She loved them, and
they loved her. And Edward was always devising ways to systematize the
housekeeping and make it easier. Every morning he worked in his study
for two hours, and she "stepped round" for an hour, and then lay on the
lounge for an hour, reading by herself. Then he and she had two golden
hours together. They made themselves boy and girl again. Two days in
the week they painted with the water-colors; and Psyche really passed
her master, for her eye for color was, oh! much better than his. Two
days they worked at their music together--worked, not played. Two days
they read together, he to her or she to him. And after lunch he always
took his nap; and then, if it were cool enough, the horses came round,
and he took Psyche off on one of the beautiful drives of Brookline or
Milton or Newton or distant Needham; and she learned the road so well
and learned to drive so well that she would take him as often as he
took her. And at five they were at home, and at six Psyche's charming
little dinner was served, always so perfectly; and then at eight
o'clock he always kissed her, and said, "Good-by, sweet; now I must go
out a little while. Do not think of sitting up for me." And then Psyche
wrote her letters home or read a while; and at ten she went to bed, and
fell asleep, wondering how she could have lived before she was so
happy.

And in the morning her husband was always asleep at her side. He slept
so heavily that she would try to get up and dress without his knowing
it. But he always did know. And because he could dress quicker than
she, he would put on his heavy Persian dressing-robe, after he had
plunged his head into cold water, and while she "did her hair" he would
read her "Amadis of Gaul," or the "Arabian Nights," or "Ogier the
Dane," or the "Tales of the Round Table," till he saw she was within
five minutes of being done. Then he would put down the book--yes,
though Oriana were screaming in the arms of a giant--and he would run
and dress himself, and they would run a race to see which should first
reach the piazza and give to the other the first morning-glory.

And then would come another happy day, like and yet unlike to
yesterday.

No one called, you see. But I do not think Psyche cared for that. She
always hated to make calls, nor did she want much to receive them. Both
she and Edward were alone fully half their lives, though sometimes he
would call her into the study to work with him, and often he would come
to her to work with her. He would ask her if she was lonely, and he
planned visits from his sisters, who were very nice girls, and his
mother, who was perfectly lovely, and after a while, from some of the
Western girls whom Psyche had known at the Ingham University. But
never, by any accident, did any visitor come who made any allusion to
his daily business. He never spoke of it to Psyche, and she, dear
child, thought of it much less than you would think. She had promised
not to ask, and she had sense to learn that the best way not to ask was
not to care. Yes, Versatilla, dear,--and a girl of principle who
determines not to care will not care. She knows how to will and to do.

I do not know whether Psyche the more enjoyed the opera or the pictures
which she and Edward saw together. There seemed to her to be no nice
private house in Boston where dear Edward did not seem welcome when he
sent in his card, and asked if he and Mrs. Ross might see the pictures.
Psyche often said that she owned more Corots and Calames, more
Daubignys and Merles and Millets and Bonnats than any lady in the land,
and that she kept them in more galleries. At the opera they often found
pleasant people whom Edward knew sitting next to them, and they always
chided him that he was such a stranger; and he always introduced Psyche
to them as his wife as proudly as a king; and with many of these people
she talked pleasantly, and some of them she met and bowed to at church
or as they were driving. But none of them ever called upon her, nor did
she call upon them. One day she said to Edward that she believed he
knew more people than anybody else in the world. And he said, with a
sad sigh, "I am afraid I do"; and she saw that it worried him, and so
the dear child said no more.

In all this happy time Psyche had had no visit from her own sisters.
Perhaps that was one reason why it was so happy. But it happened, after
a happy life of a year and more, that a darling baby boy came to Psyche
to make her wonder how she could have thought her life before was life
at all. And the birth of the boy and his wonderful gifts were duly
reported in the letters to Painted Post, and then there came quite a
hard letter from Priscilla, putting in form the complaint that neither
of the sisters had ever been asked to make Psyche a visit since they
were married.

Psyche showed the letter to Edward on the moment, and he laughed.

"I have only wondered it did not come before."

Psyche tried to laugh too, but she came very near crying. "I have not
wanted them to come before, and I don't want them to come now."

"Then they shall not come," said Edward, laughing again, and taking her
on his knee.

"But I do want them to come, partly. I wish they had come and had gone,
and that it was all over. It does not seem quite nice that my own
sisters should not visit me."

"Well, my darling, as to that, they are not your own sisters; and even
if Mrs. Grundy does not think it is quite nice, I do not know why you
and I should care. Still, if you want to have them and have it over,
let them come. _'Olim meminisse juvabit.'_ That means, 'You will be
glad to remember it.'"

Psyche said she knew that; and she pulled his whiskers for him because
he pretended to think she did not; and he kissed her, and she kissed
him. And so the next day, after Psyche had written ten different
letters and had torn them up, she concocted the following, which, as it
met Edward's approval, was despatched to Painted Post by the mail of
the same evening:--

  "ROXBURY, May 10, 18--.

  "MY DEAR PRISCILLA,--Indeed you must not think that Edward has
  prevented me from asking you to make a visit here. If it gives you
  any pleasure to come and see me and my housekeeping, you know very
  well how much pleasure it will give to me. You know we live very
  quietly, and are not in the least gay; so I think you must all come
  together and entertain each other. But little Geoffrey will entertain
  you, and you will think he is the dearest little fellow that ever
  lived.

  "Come as soon as you can, for we are all going to the sea-shore on
  the 25th, and if you do not come soon it will be a very short visit."

And then the letter went on about Ann Garner's engagement, and the new
styles for prints, and so on.

So the invitation was well over.



CHAPTER III.


If Edward Ross, or Psyche his wife, or Bim, the nurse of Geoffrey his
son, had any hope that Agnes Verney and Priscilla Verney, and Bloody
Mary, their sister, would decline the invitation, or that any one of
them would decline it, they were very much mistaken. Allowing a day and
a half for the letter to go to Painted Post, and a day for the three
ladies to pack their trunks, and a day and a half for them to come to
Boston, you have four days, which is precisely the interval which
passed between the mailing of the letter and the arrival, late at
night, of a carriage at Edward Ross's door with the three ladies, and
of an express-wagon with the six trunks with which they had prepared
for the ten days' visit. This was the night of the 14th, and, as they
had been kindly informed by Psyche, their visit must end on the 24th.

And such a visit as it was! Not one day was unprovided for by Edward's
forethought, and one amusement after another crowded upon the time, so
that, if it were possible, the three ladies might not have a moment's
time either for caballing against each other, or for lecturing poor
Psyche. It was a little funny to see how, as a matter of course, they
all taught her how to carry on her household. They would tell her, to
Edward's great amusement and to her well-concealed rage, how to cheapen
her mutton, how to keep her butter, how to save eggs in her
sponge-cake, and even how to arrange the dishes on the table.
Everything was elegant and tasteful in Psyche's house, wholly beyond
any standard which they had ever seen at home; but all the same, they
would make this suggestion and give that direction, as if, she said to
her husband, crying, one morning--"as if this were poor papa's house,
and I were Cinderella again."

And Edward only laughed and kissed her, and said, "O my sunbeam, keep a
bright eye for them! There are now only six days more, and then Mrs.
Grundy will be satisfied. '_Olim meminisse juvabit_.'" And then he
pinched her ear, and she pulled his whiskers, and she laughed through
her tears.

The first day was a day fresh from heaven; the apple-blossoms were in
their prime, the air was sweetness itself; and after a late breakfast
two pretty carriages came to the door. And Psyche took Agnes, who was
the least hateful of the three, in her little pony-carriage, and
herself drove Puss and Doll, her pretty ponies, after she had given to
each an Albert biscuit from her own hand. And Edward took Priscilla and
Bloody Mary with him, and as he passed the Norfolk House, he stopped
and picked up Jerry Fordyce, who was stout and handsome and jolly, and
Jerry took the back seat with Bloody Mary, and flirted desperately with
her all that day, while Priscilla sat with Edward, and for miles on
miles drove his beautiful bays. And they took a drive more lovely than
any of these girls had ever seen. They came out upon the sea-shore--I
will not tell you where. They ate such a dinner as neither Bloody Mary
nor Agnes nor Priscilla had ever dreamed of. They came home by five in
the afternoon, and Edward made all the women lie down and sleep. And
when they had waked, he made them all dress again, and there were two
carriages at the door, which took them to see Warren at the Museum. And
they laughed till they almost died. And then they had a charming little
supper in a private room at Copeland's; and after midnight they all
came home. And this was what Psyche meant when she said she lived very
quietly, and was not at all gay!

Bloody Mary was literary, and she had said at breakfast, the first day,
that she hoped they should see some of the Boston _literati_; that she
should be ashamed to go home to Painted Post unless she had seen Mr.
Fields and Mr. Lowell and Mr. Longfellow and Dr. Holmes. And the second
day, Edward said, should be Polly's day, and they should see the
bookshops and the libraries. So this day he did not order the ponies,
but two open barouches came up, and they drove first to the dear old
corner of Hamilton Place, and went up to the pretty "authors' parlor"
of Fields & Osgood. And Mr. Fields came in and told them some very
pretty stories, and gave Bloody Mary an autograph of Tennyson; and Mr.
Osgood and Mr. Clark came in and showed them the English advance-sheets
of the new Trollope, and some copy of the new Dickens in manuscript.
And the gentlemen begged all the ladies to come up whenever they passed
in shopping. Then Edward took them to the Historical Rooms, and they
saw Prescott's sword and Linzee's. Mr. Winthrop happened to come in,
and they saw him; and Dr. Holmes was there, looking at some old MSS.,
and he was very courteous to the ladies, and showed Miss Polly the
picture of Sebastian Cabot. Then they drove out to the College Library,
and while they were looking at the old missals and evangelistaries, it
happened that Mr. Longfellow crossed the hall and spoke to Edward; and
Edward actually asked Agnes and Polly if he might present Mr.
Longfellow to them; and then found Priscilla, and presented him to her
and to Psyche. And when Mr. Longfellow found they were strangers, he
told them just what they should see and how they should see it. And
Polly slipped out her album, and he wrote his name in it, and said he
was sorry he could not stay longer; but he pointed out to her some of
the most interesting autographs there. And then they started for the
Museum, and by great good luck they met Lowell in Professors' Row. And
Edward stopped the carriage, actually, and hailed him, and asked if he
should be at home in an hour; and when Mr. Lowell said he was engaged
with a class, Edward arranged--so promptly!--that they should all go
and hear his lecture. And then they went to the Museum, and by the same
wonderful luck Agassiz was going out as they came in; and he turned
back, and showed the ladies everything. That was a day indeed! They
came home to the most beautiful little family dinner, and in the
evening they all went to Selwyn's Theatre, where was another charming
play.

There was quite a similar day on the strength of a word from Agnes.
Agnes was so much awed at first by Edward's hospitable condescension
and by his giving up so much of his time to them that she did not dare
to be cross for the first four days. But she did say to him that
Polly's pretence of letters was all nonsense, and, that for her part,
she was interested in politics and social reform; that at an era like
that, when etc., etc., etc., every true woman ought etc., etc., etc.,
for the benefit of etc., etc., etc. So the very next day he showed them
all a note from Mr. Sumner, saying that if the ladies would excuse the
formality of a call, he should be happy to show them his prints and
some other things which would please them at noon, and enclosing
tickets for reserved seats to an address he was to deliver in the
evening. That day was wholly given to politics and politicians. They
went to the State-House, and sat in a sort of private gallery, when the
young Duke of Gerolstein, who was on his travels, was received on the
floor; and several very handsome and very nice young senators and
representatives came up and were presented to the ladies. And when it
came time for lunch, Edward invited three of the very nicest to go down
to Parker's to a little dinner he had ordered there, and they had a
very jolly time, in which Agnes studied social reform with a very merry
senator from Essex County, quite to her heart's content.

As for Priscilla, she spoke but coldly of literature and politics,
though she did not object to the dinner at Parker's or to flirting with
senators. But she said to Edward that her heart was with the poor and
sinful; that she would gladly do something in this complex civilization
of ours to save those that were lost. How happy could she be if she
were only eating locusts and wild honey on the brink of Jordan! But
that seemed impossible, and she sighed. So a day was arranged for
charity and its ministers--failing locusts. Fortunately the Diocesan
Convention was in session, and among the presbyters and delegates
Edward seemed as much at home and at ease as among the _literati_ and
the politicians. He presented Dr. Temple and Dr. South and Mr. Teinagle
to the girls, and these gentlemen explained to them all the
proceedings. At the little lunch for delegates and their wives, the
bishop spoke courteously to all of them, and Edward brought to them the
very famous Bishop of Parabata, who was on his travels to a
Pan-Anglican Council. After the lunch they heard Mr. Tillotson preach,
and then they were whisked down to the North End Mission, where there
was that day an entertainment for destitute shop-girls. And here Mrs.
Oberlin, a very famous philanthropist, enlisted them all to help her in
her table at the great Fair in the Music Hall for the benefit of the
mission; and then the next day all the girls spent a very charitable
and very successful afternoon.

But I did not describe that week at Hermon. Why should I describe these
ten days at Boston? A day at Nahant, _al fresco_, with two perfect
black waiters, who arranged the lunch on the grass, because no one had
moved down to Nahant so early; a visit to Plymouth and the Forefathers'
Rock; a visit to the Antiquarian Hall at Worcester, and one to the
witches' home at Salem,--these occupied so many days. Then there was
the famous ball given by the City of Boston to the Duke of Gerolstein
in the Boston Theatre, when all Colonnade Row was taken for
supper-tables.

The old rules of the Verney family were wholly violated: all four of
the girls went; and they danced with elegant young men till they almost
died. And at last not only the ball was over, but everything else was
over; and on the 24th of May the girls went home, after such a visit as
even they were staggered to look back upon.

Edward and Psyche took them to the train, and, when it had fairly
rolled out of the station, she took both his hands, and they looked
each other in the face and laughed till the tears ran out of all four
eyes. And, as they mounted the carriage, Psyche said, "Now we will live
like civilized beings again!"



CHAPTER IV.


Dear Psyche, could you not cast the future better?

That day, as they had arranged, she packed her things and Geoffrey's
for the country, and the next day they went, bag and baggage, to a
beautiful place Mr. Ross had hired, at the corner of Hale Street and
Beach Street, for a sea-shore home in Beverly, so that dear Geoffrey
might have the south wind off the sea, the purest of air, and the
freshest of salt-water brought up for his daily bath.

The only grief was that Edward had to take the evening train for Boston
five nights in the week. But he always appeared fresh and bright at
breakfast; and in the bath at noon, in the daily walk, or in the
evening ride to the station, life seemed all the happier because the
three hags of Painted Post had returned to their lair.

But this paradise lasted only a fortnight, when the tempter came. This
letter arrived from Priscilla:--

  "_Very Private_.

  "PAINTED POST, June 5.

  "MY DEAREST PSYCHE,--Your sisters and I have had a very serious
  _conversation_ about you and the _life_ you are leading. You seem to
  be very _happy_; but have you _thought_, my dear Psyche, that you are
  _dancing_ on the edge of a volcano? Have you asked no _question_ as
  to the future? Are you so blinded as _to forget_ that the wages of
  sin is death, and that _the joys_ of this moment are as nothing
  compared with _the terrors_ of eternity?

  "Your _sisters_ and I have spoken to _dear papa_ about the _life you
  lead_. He has _bidden_ me write to you just what _I think_, and your
  sisters also say it is my _duty_ to do so. I write you,
  _therefore_--how sadly you know--to say that, as a _Christian woman_,
  you _ought not to continue_ in this life. You _should_ rise above it,
  and assert the _freedom_ of a child of God. _What is a dinner_ at
  Parker's if eaten with a _guilty conscience_? Better is a dinner of
  herbs where love is.

  "_I am sorry_ to write you a _letter_ which seems severe. But _you
  know_, my dear child, that I am as _a mother_ to you. And _surely_
  the counsels of a mother will be _sweeter_ to you than the
  _flatteries_ of any not so near as she.

  "Always your loving sister,

  "PRISCILLA."

"Counsels of a fiddlestick!" said Psyche; and she wrote this answer:--

  "What in the world is the matter? I saw no dislike of Parker's
  dinners when you were here. I believe you are crazy.

  "Always yours,

  "PSYCHE."

And she threw Priscilla's letter into the kitchen-fire. This was her
mistake. She would have been wiser had she shown it to Edward, as she
did the other. But she was ashamed to.

Another week brought her another letter.

  "_Private and Particular_.

  "PAINTED POST, June 13.

  "MY DEAR CHILD,--I am _shocked_ with the _levity_ of your note,
  _without date_, which lies before me.

  "Dear Psyche, fools make a _mock_ of sin. How can you exult in your
  own _shame_? How can you live as the wife of a _man_ of whom you know
  _nothing_, whose whole life is _suspicious_ and a _scandal_, who is
  himself so _ashamed_ of it that he does not admit _his own wife_ to a
  knowledge of its _secret ways_? I cannot see how a child of
  _Christian parents_ should be _so blinded_ and _misled_.

  "_Rouse yourself_ in your strength, dear child. Ask your husband
  _honestly_ and _bravely_ what it is that he does in his _nightly
  orgies_. Do not think that we observed nothing in our _visit_. Do not
  think that we were _lulled_ or put to _sleep_ in our watch over our
  _sister_. _Never_, dear Psyche. We love you as much as ever. And we
  are _determined_ to tear every shred of _mystery_ from your life,
  once so _artless_ and _pure_.

  "Truly, your sister-mother,

  "PRISCILLA."

"Sister-mother indeed!" said Psyche; and she wrote this letter:--

  "DEAR PRIS,--If you will mind your business, I will mind mine. P."

And she threw Priscilla's letter into the sea at high tide, torn into
little bits. This was her second mistake.

This time this answer came:--

  "PAINTED POST, June 21.

  "MY DEAR LOST LAMB,--I have _spent_ the _night_ in _prayer_ for you.
  This morning Agnes and Polly and I showed your _profligate letter_ to
  our dear father. He has charged me to _write_ what I _think_ best to
  you.

  "Is it not my _business_ to care for the _life and soul_ of a dear
  sister who has no _mother's love_? Am I not right when I fall on my
  _knees_ to pray for her _welfare_? How could I _enjoy_ the good of
  this life or the hopes of _another_, knowing that my sister is
  _eating_ the _bread of wickedness_ and drinking from the _cup of
  sin_? Shall the watchman desert his post because the _soldier
  sleeps_?

  "_Ask yourself_ why no person except the hireling tradesman ever
  _visits_ at this _house_ of luxury and _extravagance_, which your
  husband makes the prison-house of _your soul_.

  "Ask yourself what is the fountain of this gold which he spends so
  shamelessly.

  "Ask yourself, dear Psyche, what you would have said _two years ago_
  had any one told you that _you_ should become the wife of a
  _counterfeiter_ or a _forger_ or a _gambler_ or a _keeper of a
  dance-house_ or a _detective_, or any other of those horrid things
  which are done in _secret_. If any one had said to you that you
  should have _pleasure_ in those that do them, what would you _have
  said_? O my _dear lost lamb_, how often has that _sweet_ text (see
  Romans i. 32) come back to me since I came to see you, in the _faint
  hope_ that I might rescue my _lamb_ even as a brand from the
  _burning_! My dear Psyche, will you not _turn_ before it is _too
  late_? _Why will you die_?

  "Thus asks and _prays_ your own

  "PRISCILLA."

"My own cat and dog!" said little Psyche scornfully. But she did not
put the letter into the fire, nor did she tear it to shreds to throw
them into the sea. I am very sorry; but, even in her wonder, she kept
the letter hid away.

"What in the world did they find out about Edward that I do not know?"
This was the first fatal question which Psyche asked herself.

"Forger, counterfeiter, detective, gambler--what do the vile creatures
mean? They shall not say such horrid things about the best of men!"

"Ask yourself what is the fountain of this gold." Psyche had asked
herself very often, and she did not know, and she knew she did not
know. Edward was not lavish, and he was not parsimonious. She and he
went over the bills together once a month, and when they were too
large, they both took care that that should not happen again. And he
gave her nice crisp bills to pay them with, and always gave her a
separate sum for "P," which he said was her "private, personal, or
peculiar share," which she had better not keep any account of. Where it
all came from she did not know, and she knew she did not know; and she
had promised not to ask him.

As for asking herself why nobody called to see her, she had asked that
too, and she had no better answer. The minister did call once a year;
but they had been out both times, and he had left his card. The doctor
had called before Geoffrey was born, and after; but she had not asked
him why nobody else called. She supposed it was the Boston way.
Certainly she had called on nobody but on Mrs. Royall and Mrs. Flynn
and a few more of her protegées. She was sure she did not want people
to call on her, and she did not want to call on them.

Still the iron had entered her soul. And, as Satan ordered, for this
week of all weeks, Edward was called away to New York; and although
there were two letters a day from dear Edward, and very funny scraps
from bills of fare and play-bills, and one or two new novels by post,
and an English edition of the new "Morris," still her "earthly
paradise" was a very gloomy paradise without him.

And every day the poor child read over Priscilla's venomous letter; and
at last she went so far that she determined that she would ask him why
nobody except the minister and the doctor ever came to see her.

Of course she did no such thing; for Friday night came, and--joy of
joys!--Edward came. And Geoff was dragged out of his crib to see papa,
and came down in his dear little flannel night-gown, and really knew
papa, or was said to; and Geoff really grabbed at the new coral papa
had brought to him, and held it in his hand and swayed it to and fro
wildly, as a man very drunk would do; and they laughed happily over
Geoff and put him to bed again; and then they sat and talked, and
talked and sat, till long after any bedtime Psyche had ever dreamed of;
and then they went to bed together, and as Psyche undressed, Edward
read the story of the "Four Sons of Aymon" aloud to her. It was all as
beautiful as it could be; and was she to bother him with talking about
callers? Not she! She had him till Monday night, and she was not going
to destroy her own paradise before then.

So there was one long, lovely Saturday, when he worked with her and she
worked with him, and they went to the beach together, and went to drive
together, and painted together, and in the evening they tried some new
music that he had brought home; and he had a whole pile of lovely
English and French letters which had come since he went away, and they
had those to read together; and there was one German letter from his
old Heidelberg friend, Welsted, and Psyche helped him puzzle out the
words of the writing: he said she always guessed these riddles better
than he did. And Welsted was married too, and he had a little girl
baby, and made great fun about marrying her to Geoffrey. And they wrote
an answer to Welsted, and it was midnight before they came round to the
"Four Sons of Aymon" and to their bed.

And Sunday was another lovely day. They drove to church, and the drive
was charming. They drove to Essex Woods, and that was charming. And
Edward got out some of his old college diaries and read to her; and she
fell to telling him about Ingham University. Oh dear! I do not know
what they did not talk about. And it was midnight before they went to
bed again.

Edward went right to sleep. Psyche had noticed that before. He would
say, "God bless us, darling!" and he would be asleep in two seconds.
But Psyche could not sleep. She had lost all her chances to ask him
about the calls. She could not bear to wake him up and ask him. Nay,
had she not promised him that she would not ask him? Not this very
thing, perhaps, but what was just the same thing.

Why should she ask him? Why should she not find out without asking him?
Priscilla seemed to know, but Priscilla had never asked him. How did
Priscilla know? How did Priscilla know?--how? how? how? The poor child
said this over to herself in words,--"How? how? how?"--and she fell
asleep.

But she did not sleep well. All of a sudden, in a horrid dream, in
which they were dragging Edward off to prison, she woke up. Oh, how
glad she was to be awake! What in the world were they taking him to
prison for? What had he done? Priscilla knew. Did Priscilla know? Why
should not Psyche know?

Poor little Psyche! It was very still, and Edward was dead asleep. And
one word from him would make her perfectly happy. And yet she did not
dare ask him to speak that one word.

Why should she not be perfectly happy? Why should she disturb him at
all? Why should she not keep her promise, and be perfectly happy too?

Dear little Psyche! Poor little Psyche! She got out of bed, and she
stepped gently across the room to Edward's dressing-room, and she
pushed the door to. It was the first time in her life that Psyche had
ever tried to part herself from her husband. And she knew it was. And a
cold shudder ran through her as she thought of this. But she was not
born to be frightened by cold shudders. There was too much Lady Macbeth
in her for that. She struck a match, lighted a candle, and sat for a
minute thinking. Then she bravely took her husband's coat and drew from
the breast-pocket that Russia leather letter-book which she gave him at
Christmas. How little she thought then that she should be handling it
stealthily at the dead of night!

She opened the book, which was full of letters. She seized the first:--

  "MR. EDWARD ROSS, No. 999 State Street, Boston."

Then that was his office. She could drive down State Street some day
and just look at the number. She set the candle on her knee to free her
hand while she opened the letter.

  "DEAR ROSS,--Could you spare me Orton for half an hour?

  "E. J. F."

Miserable girl! She had violated all confidence--to learn nothing!

But Lady Macbeth went on.

  "_Mr. Edward Ross, 999 State Street:_

  "DEAR ROSS,--If you can come to club again, you will come to-day.
  Hedge reads, and Emerson and James will be there. We have not seen
  you for a year."

And she knew why he had not dined at club for a year, why he had spent
every moment that he could spend at home. Miserable girl! It was for
this that she had stolen out of bed!

So Lady Macbeth read No. 3.

  "_Mr. Edward Ross, 999 State Street:_

  "DEAR SIR,--We cannot match the turquoise here. But on the catalogue
  of Messrs. Roothan, Amsterdam, there are four such stones. Shall we
  telegraph them? We have very little time before July 31."

July 31 was her birthday. It was for this that she was reading her
husband's secrets. Wretched Psyche!

Lady Macbeth went on.

  "_Private and Confidential_.

  "_Edward Ross, Esq., 999 State Street:_"

Lady Macbeth paused, but her hand was in.

  "DEAR SIR,--The committee met and read your letter with great care.
  Mr. Potter said that he had seen you on Tuesday, and that you
  expressed the same view then. I also laid before the committee
  General G----'s letter to you, and the telegram you had received from
  Syracuse. If you can persuade your friends to--"

Here the page ended, and Psyche had to turn over. As she turned, the
candlestick tipped on her knee, fell bottom up upon the ground, and
Psyche was in darkness.

What a noise it made! And what a guilty fool Psyche felt like! No Lady
Macbeth now! But she folded the letter and put it back in the
letter-case. She put the letter-case in the pocket, and folded the
coat. She picked up the candle, and put it on the table. Then she slunk
back into her bedroom. All this time Edward was crying out, "Dear
Psyche, are you ill? What is it, dear?" He was out of bed, and was
fumbling in the dark in Psyche's dressing-room. But the ways of the
sea-shore home were not familiar to him.

When Psyche dared--that is, when she was at the foot of the bed--she
cried out to Edward that nothing was wrong. She had had a bad dream,
and was frightened, and had got up to strike a light, but she had not
meant to call him. And he found her shivering on the bedside; and he
cooed to her and comforted her, and made her promise to call him
another time. And Psyche had just force enough to say sadly, "Call
you--yes, if you are here." And then he sang to her a little crooning
song his mother sang to him when he was a child, and poor Psyche cried
herself to sleep.



CHAPTER V.


The next morning Psyche slept too heavily. She did not wake till Edward
was out of bed. Then she started like a guilty thing. But she did not
dare go into his dressing-room.

And he brought in the "Four Sons of Aymon," and read to her. Oh, she
was as long as ever she could be about her dressing; but, alas! the
breakfast-bell rang, and Edward ran into his room.

One minute,--it seemed forever,--then he came in with his coat, and
with a look which tried to be comical, but was, oh, so sad! he pointed
at the long swirl of spermaceti which ran from one end of it to the
other.

Then he bent over the poor crying girl and kissed her, and kissed her
again.

"How can you, Edward? I am so wicked--and such a fool!"

"Darling, you are not wicked at all, and it is I who am the fool."

"Dear Edward, hear me. I was perfectly happy till they came--"

"Sweetheart, you need not say so."

"Edward, hear me; read what they write to me. Read this. Read where
they say you are a forger and a counterfeiter, a detective and a
gambler."

"Really," said Edward, as he read, "they compliment me. The New York
'Observer' could not treat a man worse."

Psyche was amazed, and she saw that Edward was more amused than angry.

"Dear Edward, I am a fool. But I could not bear that Bloody Mary should
know more of my own boy than I did."

"No, my darling," said he stoutly; "and there is no reason why you
should. But hear that bell! Ellen is crazy that we shall come to
breakfast. Finish your hair. I will find another coat; and at
breakfast, as Miss Braddon says, I will tell you _all_."

       *       *       *       *       *

And at breakfast he told her all. It was so little to tell that I am
ashamed to have wasted ten thousand words without relieving the
reader's anxiety.

As soon as Ellen had attended to the table and left the room, Edward
said, "Dearest, all is that I am a greater fool than Clarence Hervey
himself. I am the leading editor of the 'Daily Argus.' That is all."

Psyche fairly laid down her fork. "What a fool I am! I have read things
I told you myself in the paper, yet I never dreamed that you put them
there. But why keep such a secret from your poor little butterfly?"

"Why, my darling," said he more seriously,--"why, but that I wanted to
have my butterfly to myself? You will see, dearest. God grant it may
not be as I fear. But if--I am afraid--if one person knows where you
live, he will know where I live. If one person knows, two will know. If
two know, two hundred thousand will know. If they know, there is an end
to breakfasts without door-bells, an end to German together, an end to
water-colors and to music, an end to the pony-wagon and the drives.
That was my only reason for trying to protect you from the necessity of
keeping a secret. I thought, in that new part of Boston, if we called
on nobody, nobody would call on us. So far I was not wrong. Then I took
care at the office to have it understood that no messenger was to be
sent to my house. I bit off old Folger's head one day when he offered
to send me a proof-sheet. Then I thought if we sent out 'No cards,' if
I could only make you happy without 'receiving,' my friends would not
know where to find me, and so my enemies would never know, nor the
intermediate mass who are neither friends nor enemies. A little skill
in May was enough to keep my name out of the Directory, excepting with
the office address. Indeed, I thought if I did my six hours' work there
between nine and three every night, it was all the world had a right to
ask of me. But all this has made you wretched, so it has been all
wrong, and it shall come to an end. You shall have a state dinner-party
next Saturday."

Psyche cried and cried and cried, as if her heart would break. And
Edward cried a little too.

"But why not go on so now?" said she. "I can keep a secret." This she
said proudly, though she blushed as she said it. "Wild horses shall not
draw it from me."

"No," said Edward sadly, "I know wild horses will not drag it from my
darling; but I know they will try, and I do not choose to have her torn
by wild horses: she has suffered enough from the pulling and hauling of
three wild asses."

And so it was all settled that they should begin to see people. All was
as clear as light between them now, and the new dynasty began.

And for a month or two there was no great change. At first it was only
that Ross brought out one or two gentlemen with him to spend Sunday.
They made the house very pleasant, and dear little Psyche did the
honors beautifully. Then they whispered round what a charming home it
was. And the Beverly people, some of whom are very nice persons, found
out what a pretty neighbor they had, and that it was Ross of the
"Argus," and they called, and asked to tea, and then Psyche and Edward
returned the calls, and asked to tea.

It was not till they went back to Roxbury that the real change came.
Then was it that before breakfast the door-bell began to ring; and
women with causes, and men out of employment, and inventors with
inventions, began to wait in the ante-room till Mr. E. Ross came
downstairs. Then was it that he poured down his hasty cup of coffee,
and ran to be rid of them. Then was it that councilmen came out as soon
as breakfast was over to arrange private schemes for thwarting the
aldermen; and that while the councilmen arranged, aldermen called and
waited for Mr. E. Ross to be at leisure, because they wanted to make
plans for thwarting the council. Then was it that, from morning to
night, candidates for the House and candidates for the Senate came for
private conferences, and had to be let out from different doors lest
they should meet each other. Then was it that men who had letters of
introduction from Japan and Formosa and Siberia and Aboukuta sat in
Psyche's parlor six or seven hours at a time, illustrating the customs
of those countries, and what Mr. Lowell calls "a certain air of
condescension observable in foreigners." Then was it that Psyche
received calls from wives of senators and daughters of congressmen, to
say in asides to her that if Mr. E. Ross could find it in his way to
say this, he would so much oblige thus and so. Then was it that, trying
to screen him from bores, she received all the women who sold Lives of
Christ, and all the agents who exhibited copies of maps or heliotypes.
Then was it that, when the ponies came to the door, railroad presidents
drew up, who just wanted a minute to talk about their new bonds. Then
was it that, after the ponies had been sent back to the stable, grand
ladies drew up to send in cards to Psyche, and to persuade her to take
tables at fairs and to be vice-president of almshouses. Then was it
that every Saturday Psyche gave a charming literary dinner, not bad in
its way; and the counterpart of this was that Psyche and Edward dined
at other people's houses four days out of the remaining six. The sixth
day Edward was kept down town for some of the engagements these
wretches had forced him into. Thus was it in the end that moths ate up
the camel's-hair pencils, and no one ever found it out; that the upper
G string in the piano rusted off, and no one discovered it; that
Bridget Flynn put ten volumes of Grillparzer into the furnace-fire, and
nobody missed them; and that all the ferns in the fern-house died, and
nobody wept for them.

From early morning round to early morning Psyche never saw her
lover-husband, except as he and she gorged a hurried and broken
breakfast, or as he took in to dinner some lady he did not care for,
and as she, at her end of the table, talked French or Cochin Chinese to
some man who had brought letters of introduction.

She knew what her husband's business was and who his friends were. But,
for all intents and purposes, she had lost him forever.

As for the three step-sisters at Painted Post, they went to a
Sunday-School picnic one day, and fell off a precipice and were killed.





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