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Title: Stories and Sketches - by our best authors
Author: Various
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Stories and Sketches - by our best authors" ***

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  STORIES AND SKETCHES.



  STORIES AND SKETCHES

  BY

  OUR BEST AUTHORS.



  [Illustration]



  BOSTON:
  LEE AND SHEPARD.
  1867.



  Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1867, by
  LEE & SHEPARD,
  In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of
  Massachusetts.



  CONTENTS.


                                                              PAGE

  THE SKELETON AT THE BANQUET.         _Seeley Regester._        9

  LET THOSE LAUGH WHO WIN.            _Samuel W. Tuttle._       37

  THE PROPER USE OF GRANDFATHERS.     _Fitz Hugh Ludlow._       61

  AT EVE.                               _Gertrude Brodé._       77

  BROKEN IDOLS.                       _Richmond Wolcott._       93

  DR. HUGER'S INTENTIONS.      _Louise Chandler Moulton._      105

  THE MAN WHOSE LIFE WAS SAVED.               * * * * *.       121

  THE ROMANCE OF A WESTERN TRIP.            _J. L. Lord._      157

  THE TWO GHOSTS OF NEW LONDON TURNPIKE.   _Mrs. Galpin._      185

  DOWN BY THE SEA.                _Hattie Tyng Griswold._      229

  WHY MRS. RADNOR FAINTED.                    * * * * *.       249

  UNDER A CLOUD.                    _William Wirt Sikes._      265

  COMING FROM THE FRONT.              _Richmond Wolcott._      281

  A NIGHT IN THE SEWERS.           _Chas. Dawson Shanly._      293



THE SKELETON AT THE BANQUET.

[Illustration]


Dr. Graham sat in his office, his book closed on his knee, and his
eyes fixed upon the street. There was nothing of interest to be seen.
A light snow was falling, making the pavement dreary; but it was
Christmas, and his thoughts had gone back to other days, as people's
thoughts will go on anniversary occasions. He was thinking of the
young wife he had buried three years and three months ago; of the
great fireplace in his boyhood's home, and his mother's face lit up
by the glow; of many things past which were pleasant; and reflecting
sadly upon the fact that life grew duller, more commonplace, as one
grew older. Not that he was an elderly man,--he was, in reality,
but twenty-eight; yet, upon that Christmas day, he felt old, very
old; his wife dead, his practice slender, his prospects far from
promising,--even the slow-moving days daily grew heavier, soberer,
more serious. It was a holiday, but he had not even an invitation for
dinner, where the happiness of friends and the free flow of thought
might lend a momentary sparkle to his own stale spirits.

The doctor was not of a melancholy, despondent nature, nor did he rely
for his pleasures upon others. He was a self-made man, and self-reliant
to an unusual degree, as self-made men are apt to be. His tussle with
circumstances had awakened in him a combative and resistant energy,
which had served him well when means were scant and the rewards of
merit few. But there is something in the festal character of Christmas
which, by luring from the shadows of our struggle-life the boy nature
of us, makes homeless men feel solitary; and, from being forlorn,
the mood soon grows to one of painful unrest; all from beholding
happiness from which we are shut out. On this gray afternoon not
the most fascinating speculations of De Boismont and the hospital
lectures,--not the consciousness of the originality and importance of
his own discoveries in the field of Sensation and Nerve Force,--had any
interest for Dr. Graham.

That he had talent and a good address; that he studied and experimented
many hours every day; that he as thoroughly understood his profession
as was consistent with a six years' actual experience as an actual
practitioner; that there was nothing of the quack or pretender in
him;--all this did not prevent his rent from being high, his patients
few, and his means limited. With no influential friends to recommend
and introduce him, he had resolutely rented a room in a genteel
locality up town, had dressed well, and had worn the "air" of a man
of business, ever ready for duty; but success had not attended upon
his efforts, and the future gave no promise of a change. Of this he
was thinking, somewhat bitterly; for what proud soul is not stung with
unmerited neglect? Then a deep sadness stole over him at thoughts
of the loss which had come upon his early manhood,--a loss like
which there is none other so abiding in strong, wise hearts. A cloud
seemed to be sifting down and closing around him, which, with unusual
passivity, he seemed unable or unwilling to shake off. A carriage
obstructed his view, by passing in front of his window. It stopped;
then the footman descended, opened the carriage-door, and turned to
the office-bell. He was followed by his master, who awaited the answer
to the bell, and was ushered into the practitioner's presence by the
single waiting-servant of his modest establishment. The doctor arose
to receive his guest, who was a man still younger than himself, with
something of a foreign air, and dressed with a quiet richness in
keeping with his evident wealth and position.

"Dr. Graham?"

The doctor bowed assent.

"If you are not otherwise engaged, I would like you to go home with me,
to see my sister, who is not well. There is no great haste about the
matter, but if you can go now, I shall be glad to take you with me. It
will save you a walk through the snow."

"He knows," thought the doctor, "that I do not drive a carriage;" and
that a stranger, of such ability to hire the most noted practitioners,
should call upon him, was a source of unexpressed surprise and
suspicion.

"What do you think is the matter with your sister?" he unconcernedly
asked, taking his overcoat from the wardrobe.

"That is for you to decide. It is a case of no ordinary character--one
which will require study." He led the way at once to the door, as if
unwilling to delay, notwithstanding he had at first stated that no
haste was necessary. "Step in, doctor, and I will give you an inkling
of the case during the drive, which will occupy some fifteen or twenty
minutes."

"In the first place," continued the stranger, as they rolled away,
"I will introduce myself to you as St. Victor Marchand, at present
a resident of your city, but recently from the island of Madeira.
My house is upon the Fifth Avenue, not far from Madison Square. My
household consists only of myself and sister, with our servants. I have
the means to remunerate you amply for any demands we may make upon your
time or skill; and I ought to add, one reason for selecting so young
a physician is, that I think you will be the more able and willing to
devote more time to the case than more famous practitioners. However,
you are not unknown to me. I have heard you well-spoken of; and I
remember that, when you were a student in Paris, you were mentioned
with honor by the college, for an able paper read before the open
section upon the very subject to which I now propose to direct your
attention,--mental disease," he added, after a moment's hesitation.

"A case of insanity?" bluntly asked the doctor.

"Heaven forbid! And yet I must not conceal from you that I fear it."

"Give me some of the symptoms. Insanity in strong development, or
aberration of faculties, or hallucination?"

"I cannot reply. It is one and all, it seems to me. The fact is,
doctor, I wish to introduce you to your patient simply as a friend of
mine, so as to give you an opportunity for studying my sister's case,
unembarrassed by any suspicion on her part. To excite her suspicions is
to frustrate all hopes of doing anything for or with her. Can you--will
you--do me the favor to dine with me this evening? It is now only about
an hour to six, and if you have no other engagement, I will do my best
to entertain you, and you can then meet my sister as her brother's
guest. Shall it be so?"

The young man's tones were almost beseeching, and his manner betrayed
the most intense solicitude. Quite ready to accede to the request,
from curiosity as well as from a desire to reässure the young man, Dr.
Graham did not hesitate to say, "Willingly, sir, if it will assist in a
professional knowledge of the object of my call."

The change from the office to the home into which the physician was
introduced was indeed grateful to the doctor's feelings. The light,
warmth, and splendor of the rooms gave to the home an air of tropical
sensuousness; and yet an exquisite taste seemed to preside over
all. Though not unfamiliar with elegance, this home of the brother
and sister wore, to the visitor, an enchanted look, as well from the
foreign character of many of its adornments and the rare richness of
its works of art, as from the gay, friendly, enthusiastic manner of his
entertainer,--a manner never attained by English or Americans. Sending
word to Miss Marchand that there would be a guest to dinner, St. Victor
fell into a sparkling conversation, discoursing most intelligibly
of Paris, Madeira, the East Indies, and South America, taking his
guest from room to room to show this or that curious specimen of the
productions or handicraft of each country. As the articles exhibited
were rare, and many of them of scientific value, and as the young man's
knowledge kept pace with his eloquence of discourse, Dr. Graham was
agreeably absorbed.

An hour passed rapidly. Then the steward announced dinner; but it
was not until they were about seating themselves at table that _the
patient_ made her appearance. It was now twilight out of doors. The
curtains were drawn and the dining-room lit only by wax tapers, under
whose soft radiance bloomed an abundance of flowers, mostly of exotic
beauty and fragrance. It was evident that the young master of the house
brought with him his early tastes.

"We have an extra allowance of light and flowers, and a little feast,
too, I believe; for neither myself nor my English steward here forget
that this is Christmas. Don't you think it a beautiful holiday? My
mother always kept it with plenty of wax candles and flowers."

"It is a sacred day to me," answered the doctor, sadly, thinking of
his lost wife and of the three times they had kept it together, with
feasting and love's delights.

At this moment Miss Marchand floated into the room and to her place
at the head of the table,--a girlish creature, who gave their guest a
smile when the brother said,--

"Dr. Graham is not entirely a stranger, Edith; he was in Paris when we
were there. You were a child, then. I was indeed glad to meet him in
this strange city, and I mean that we shall be friends upon a visiting
footing, if he will permit it."

It was but natural for the physician to fix a piercing look upon the
face of her whom he had been given to understand was to be his patient,
and whose disease was of a character to command his best skill. His
physician's eye detected no outward tokens of ill health, either of
body or of mind. A serene brow, sweet, steady, loving eyes, cheeks rosy
and full with maiden health, a slender though not thin figure, all
were there before him, giving no indication even of the "nervousness"
assumed to be so common with young ladies of this generation. Exquisite
beauty, allied with perfect health, seemed to "blush and bloom" all
over her; and the medical man would have chosen her, with professional
enthusiasm, as his ideal of what a young woman _ought_ to be. Her
pink-silk robe adapted itself to her soft form as naturally as the
petals of a rose to its curving sweetness. Only to look upon her
gladdened the sad heart of Dr. Graham, the wifeless and childless. He
felt younger than he had felt for years, as thirsty grass feels under
the influence of a June sun after a morning of showers. His spirits
rose, and he talked well, even wittily,--betraying not only his varied
learning as a student and his keen powers of observation as a man of
the world, but also the gentleness and grace which, in his more active,
worldly life, were too much put aside. It was a little festival, in
which the dainty dishes, the fruit, and wine played but a subordinate
part.

Nothing could be more apparent than the pride and affection with which
Mr. Marchand regarded his sister. Was there, indeed, a skeleton at this
feast? The doctor shuddered as he asked himself the question. All his
faculties were on the alert to deny and disprove the possibility of
the presence of the hideous visitor. His sympathies were too keenly
enlisted to be willing to acknowledge its existence even in the
background of that day or the days to come to that household. Yet,
ever and anon, in the midst of their joyousness, a strange look would
leap from the quick, dark eyes of St. Victor, as he fixed them upon
his sister's face, and an expression would flit across his own face
inscrutable to the watchful physician. With a slight motion of his hand
or head he would arrest and direct the doctor's attention, who would
then perceive Miss Marchand's luminous glance changing into a look
expressive of anxiety and terror, the glow of her cheeks fading into
a pallor like that of one in a swoon. But, strange! an instant would
change it all. The pallor, lingering but a moment, would melt away as a
mist before the sun, and the roses would come back to the cheeks again
in all their rosiness. The host would divert his companion's startled
attention by gracefully pressing the viands upon his notice, or by some
brilliant sally, so scintillating with wit or droll wisdom, as to have
brought the smile to an anchorite's eyes.

"I pray you watch her! Did you not notice that slight incoherency?" he
remarked, in a whisper, leaning over toward the doctor.

The doctor had noticed nothing but the playful badinage of a happy girl.

"I am afraid her loveliness blinds my judgment. I _must_ see what there
is in all this," he answered to himself, deprecatingly.

They sat long at table. Not that any one ate to excess, though
the pompous English steward served up one delicious dish after
another, including the time-honored Christmas feast requisite,--the
plum-pudding,--which was tasted and approved, not to wound the Briton's
national and professional vanity, but sent off, but slightly shorn of
its proportions, to grace the servants' table.

The guest noticed that St. Victor partook very sparingly of food,
although he fully enjoyed the occasion. Save tasting of the wild game
and its condiment of real Calcutta currie, he ate nothing of the
leading dishes or _entrées_. Neither did he drink much wine, whose
quality was of the rarest, being of his own stock drawn from his
father's rich store in his Madeira cellar. Of the luscious grapes and
oranges which formed a leading feature of the dessert, he partook more
freely, as if they cooled his tongue. That there was fever, and nervous
excitement, in the young man's frame, was evident. Indeed, to the
doctor's observant eye, the brother appeared more delicate, and of a
temperament more highly nervous than his sister.

The frankness, the almost childish confidence and open-heartedness
of the young people formed one of their greatest attractions to the
usually reticent, thoughtful physician. He felt his own impulses
expanding under the warmth of their sunny natures until the very
romance of his boyhood stirred again, and sprouted through the mould
in which it lay dormant. There was nothing in their past history or
present prospects which, seemingly, they cared to conceal, so that he
had become possessed of a pretty fair history of their lives before
the last course came upon the board. Both were born in the island of
Madeira. St. Victor was twenty-four, Edith nineteen, years of age.
Their mother was the daughter of an American merchant, long resident
on the island; their father was a French gentleman of fortune, who
had retired to the island for his health, had loved and won the fair
American girl, and lived with her a life of almost visionary beauty
and happiness. Their father had joined their grandfather in some of
his mercantile ventures; hence those voyages to the Indies, to South
America, to the Mediterranean in which the children were participants.
They also had spent a couple of years in France, cultivating the
acquaintance of their relatives there, and adding some finishing
touches to St. Victor's education, which, having been conducted under
his father's eye by accomplished tutors, was unusually thorough and
varied for one so young. This fact the doctor surmised during the
progress of the banquet, though he did not ascertain the full extent
of the young man's accomplishments until a future day. Nor was Edith's
education overlooked. She was in a remarkable degree fitted to be the
companion and confidante of her brother,--sympathizing in his tastes,
reading his books, enjoying his pastimes, and sharing his ambitions
to their utmost. It was a beautiful blending of natures,--such as the
world too rarely beholds,--such as our received "systems" of education
and association _cannot_ produce.

Their grandfather had been dead for several years; their father
for three, their mother for two. "She faded rapidly after father's
death,--drooped like a frost-blighted flower," said St. Victor. "They
had been too happy in this world to remain long apart in the next."

"You now see, doctor," the narrator of these family reminiscences at
length said, "why Edith and myself are so unlike. My sister is her
mother over again, fair and bright, like your New York ladies,--among
the most beautiful women, in many respects, I have ever seen. I am
dark and thin,--a very Frenchman in tastes, temperament, and habits."

He toyed a few moments with an orange; then, again leaning toward the
physician, he said, in that sharp whisper which once before during the
evening he had made use of,--

"I will tell you all, doctor. My father died insane. We afterwards
learned that it was one of the inheritances of his haughty and wealthy
family. The peace and delight which he had with his wife and children
long delayed the terrible legacy; but it fell due at last. He died a
maniac,--a raving maniac. _She_ does not know it. It killed her mother.
Imagine, doctor, _imagine_, if you can, how I watch over her! how I
pity! how I dread! O God! to think that I must detect those symptoms,
as I have done during the last six months. I have seen the virus in
her eyes to-night. I have not breathed a word to her of my knowledge
and convictions; but I am as certain of it as that she sits there.
Look at her now, doctor,--_now_!"--with a stealthy side-glance at the
beautiful girl who, at the moment, was smiling absently over a flower
which she had taken from its vase,--smiling only as girls can,--as if
it interpreted something deeper than a passing thought.

It is impossible to describe the strain of agony in the young man's
voice; his sudden pallor; the sweat starting from his forehead; or to
describe the piercing power of his eye, as he turned it from the face
of his sister to that of his guest. Accustomed as he was to every form
of suffering, Dr. Graham shrank from the appeal in that searching look,
which mutely asked him if there were any hope.

The clear whisper in which St. Victor had spoken aroused Edith from her
revery; she darted a glance at both parties, so full of suspicion and
dread, so in contrast with her natural sunny expression, that it was as
if her face had suddenly withered, from that of a child, to the thin
features of the careworn woman of fifty. She half rose in her chair,
faltered, sank back, and sat gazing fixedly at the two men; yet silent
as a statue.

St. Victor was the first to recover himself. He burst into a light
laugh,--sweet as a shower of flowers,--and, taking up a slender-necked
decanter of pale wine, passed it to his guest, remarking,--

"We are forgetting that this is Christmas night. Fill your glass,
my friend, with _this_ wine,--the oldest and rarest of our precious
store,--and I will fill mine. Then, we will both drink joyously to the
health of my only darling--my one beloved--my sister."

He said this so prettily, poured out the wine with such arch pleasantry
of gesture, that the color came back to Edith's cheeks; and when the
two men bowed to her, before drinking, she gave them a smile, steeped
in melancholy, but very sweet, and brimming with affection. It thrilled
Dr. Graham's veins more warmly than the priceless wine.

"After our mother's death," continued St. Victor, in his natural
voice, "we found ourselves quite alone. We had formed no great
attachment to our relatives in France; and, as one branch of our
father's business remained still unsettled in this country, we resolved
to come hither. Then, too, we had a longing to behold the land which
was our mother's. When we had arranged and closed up our affairs in
Madeira, we sailed for France, where we spent one winter only. I
thought"--with a tender glance at his sister--"that a sea voyage would
do Edith good. I was not satisfied about her health; so I drew her
away from Paris, and, last spring, we fulfilled our promise to see our
mother's land, and came hither. I am afraid the climate here does not
agree with her. Do you think she looks well?"

The girl moved uneasily, casting a beseeching look at the speaker.

"It is not I who am not strong," she said; "it is you, St. Victor. If
your friend is a doctor, I wish he would give a little examination
into the state of your health. You are thin and nervous; you have no
appetite,--while he can see, at a glance, that nothing in the world
ails _me_."

Again her brother laughed; not gayly as before, but with a peculiar and
subtle significance; while he gave the doctor another swift glance,
saying to him in a low voice,--

"I have heard that persons threatened with certain mental afflictions
never suspect their own danger."

Dr. Graham did not know if the young lady overheard this remark; he
glanced toward her, but her eyes again were upon the flowers, which she
was pulling to pieces. He perceived that her lips trembled; but she
still smiled, scattering the crimson leaves over the white clothes.

At this period of his novel visit,--just then and there, when St.
Victor laughed that subtle laugh and his sister vacantly destroyed the
red flower,--a conviction rushed into the physician's mind, or rather,
we may say, pierced it through like a ray of light in a darkened room.

Instantly all was clear to him. From that moment he was cool and
watchful, but so pained with this sudden knowledge of the true state of
the case that he wished himself well out of that splendid house, back
in his own dreary office. He wished himself away, because he already
loved these young people, and his sympathy with them was too keen to
allow him further to enjoy himself; yet, in all his medical experience,
he had never been so interested with a professional interest. As a
physician, he felt a keen pleasure; as a friend, a keen pain. His
faculties each sprang to its post, awaiting the next development of the
scene.

While Mr. Marchand was giving some order to his steward, the beautiful
girl at his other hand leaned toward him, and also whispered
confidentially in his ear: "Dr. Graham, if you really are my brother's
friend, I pray you watch him closely, and tell me at some future time
if you have any fears--any suspicions of--Oh, I implore you, sir, do
not deceive me!"

Her eyes were filled with tears, her voice choked.

The thing was absurd. Its ludicrous aspect struck the listener,
almost forcing him to laugh; while the tears, at the same time, arose
responsive in his own eyes.

A clock on the mantel chimed nine. The steward placed on the board the
last delicacies of the feast,--Neapolitan creams and orange-water ice.

"Edith chooses luscious things like creams," remarked her brother.
"Which will you have, doctor? As for me, I prefer ices; they cool my
warm blood, which is fierce like tropic air. Ah, this is delicious! I
am feverish, I believe; and the scent of the orange brings back visions
of our dear island home."

He paused, as if his mind were again on the vine-clad hills of the
"blessed isle." Then he spoke, suddenly,--

"Edith, have some of this?"

She smiled, shaking her head.

"But you _must_. I insist. You need it. Don't you agree with me,
doctor, that it is just what she requires?"

He spoke in a rising key, with a rapid accent. Edith reached forth her
hand, and took the little dish of orange ice. It shook like a lily in
the wind; but she said, softly and with apparent calmness,--

"Anything to please you, brother. I will choose this every day if you
think it good for me."

He gave her a satisfied look. Then there was a brief silence, which
their guest was about to dissipate with a playful remark, when St.
Victor turned abruptly to the steward,--

"Thompson," he cried, "now bring in the skeleton!"

"What, sir?" stammered the astonished servant.

"Bring in the skeleton, I said. Do you not know that the Egyptians
always crown their feasts with a death's head? Bring it in, I say, and
place it--_there_!"

Half-rising in his seat, he pointed to the vacant space behind his
sister's chair.

The man now smiled, thinking his master jested; but his expression
grew more questioning and anxious as the bright eyes turned upon him
glittering in anger.

"Why am I not obeyed? Bring in the skeleton, I repeat, and place
it behind my sister's chair. It is in the house; you will have no
difficulty in finding it. It has lurked here long. I have been aware of
its presence these many months,--always following, following my dear
Edith,--a shadow in her steps. You see how young and fair she is; but
it is all hollow--ashes--coffin-dust! She does not know of it; she has
never even turned her head when it lurked behind her; but to-night she
must make its acquaintance. It will not longer be put off. Our feast is
nearly over. Bring it in, Thompson, and we will salute it."

The steward, with a puzzled look, turned from one to another of the
company. Miss Marchand had risen to her feet, and was regarding her
brother with terrified eyes, stretching out her hands toward him.
The doctor, too, arose, not in excitement, but with commingled pain
and resolution stamped upon his features; while his gaze rested upon
the face of St. Victor until the eyes of the young man were riveted
and arrested by the doctor's demeanor. A flush then diffused itself
gradually over Marchand's pale countenance; his thin nostrils quivered;
his fingers twitched and trembled and sought his bosom, as if in search
of something concealed there. Then he laughed once more that short,
nervous laugh so significant to the physician's ears, and cried, in a
high tone,--

"So, Edith, you did not know that you were going mad? _I_ did. I've
watched you night and day this long time. I have all along been afraid
it would end as it has--on Christmas night. _That_ was the day our
father tried to murder our mother. An anniversary, then, we have
to-night celebrated. Ha, ha! And you didn't know the skeleton was
awaiting admittance to the banquet!"

His eyes gleamed with a light at once of delight and with malice; but
he quietly added,--

"But _I_ shall not harm you, you demented thing, you beautiful
insanity. There! doctor, didn't I tell you to watch her--to read
her--to comprehend the subtle thing? So full of art and duplicity!
But look at her now--_now_! She is as mad as the serpent which has
poisoned itself with its own fangs--mad--mad! O God! has it come to
this? But, I knew it--knew the skeleton was her skeleton--the bones
without her beautiful flesh. We've had enough of it now. Take it away,
Thompson,--hurry it away!"

"Appear to obey him. Pretend that you take something from the room,"
said Dr. Graham, in an undertone, to the servant, while St. Victor's
eyes were fixed glaring and lurid upon his trembling, agonized,
speechless sister.

The skeleton had, in truth, appeared at the Christmas feast.

Laying his hand firmly upon the young man's wrist the doctor said,--

"Mr. Marchand, you're not well, to-night. You are over-fatigued. Shall
we go upstairs?"

St. Victor's quickly flashing gaze was met by that clear, resolute,
almost fierce response in the physician's eye, before which he
hesitated, then shrank. The madman had his master before him.

"You are right. I am not very well; my head aches; I'm worn out with
this trouble about Edith, doctor. _Do_ you think it is hopeless? She
had better come with us. I don't like to leave her alone with that
hideous shape at her back."

Obeying the gentle but firm pull upon his wrist, the brother turned
to leave the room, looking back wistfully upon his sister. She was
following them with clasped hands, and a face from which all youth and
color had fled. St. Victor suddenly paused, gave a scream like the cry
of a panther, wrenched himself quickly from the grasp upon his arm,
and, in an instant, his teeth were buried in the white shoulder of his
sister. But only for an instant, for almost as quickly as the madman's
movement had been the doctor's. One terrible blow of his fist sent the
maniac to the floor like a clod.

"O doctor! why did you do it?"

"To save your life, Miss Marchand."

"Poor St. Victor! His fate is on him at last."

Her voice was calm in its very despair. She sank down beside the
senseless man, lifting the worn, white face to her lap and covering it
with kisses. "I saw it,--yet I did not think it would come so soon. O
God! be pitiful! Have I not prayed enough?"

The lips of the injured man began to quiver. "We must bind him and get
him to bed before he fully recovers," said the doctor, lifting Edith to
her feet. "Here, Thompson, help me to carry him to his bed."

When the maniac recovered consciousness fully, his ravings were
fearful. It was the malady of frenzy in its most appalling condition.
The extent of the mental wreck Dr. Graham had, for the last half hour
of the feast, been trying to fathom. When he dealt that dreadful blow
he knew the wreck was complete: reason had gone out forever with
that panther-like shriek. All that could be done was to secure the
maniac against injury to himself or others, and to administer such
anti-spasmodics or anæsthetics as, in some degree, would control the
paroxysms.

Poor St. Victor! So young, so gifted, so blest with worldly goods; his
fate was upon him, as Edith had said.

From that hour he had but brief respite from torment. Not a gleam of
sanity came from those fiery eyes; all was fierce, untamable, inhuman,
as if the life had been one of storm and crime, instead of peace and
purity. Did there lay upon that racking bed a proof of the natural
depravity of the creature man, when the creature was uncontrolled by
a reasoning, responsible will? Or, was it not rather a proof that the
mental machine was in disorder, by a distention of the blood-vessels
and their engorgement in the brain,--that cerebral excitement was a
purely physical phenomenon, dependent upon simple, physical causes,
which science some day shall define and skill shall counteract?

Happily, the fire in the sufferer's brain scorched and consumed the
sources of his life, as flames drink up the water that is powerless to
quench them. Day by day he wasted; and, in less than a month from that
night,--Christmas evening,--St. Victor Marchand's form was at peace in
death.

During all that time Dr. Graham never left the sufferer's bedside. Day
and night he was there at his post, doing all that was possible to
alleviate the pain. The skill of a physician and the love of a brother
were exhausted in that battle with death in its most dreaded form.

His care was, too, required for Miss Edith. Her life was so interwoven
with that of her brother, that the doctor doubted if she could survive
the shock to her sympathies and affection. When the surprise of the
tragedy was over, on the day following the first outburst of the
malady, she told him that for months she had feared the worst. She had
remarked symptoms so like her father's as to excite her fears; yet,
with the happiness of youth, the sister persuaded herself that her
apprehensions were groundless. His sunny nature seemed proof against
the approach of an evil so blasting; and her momentary fears were
banished by the very mood of heightened vivacity and excitement which
had awakened them. Having no intimate friend in whom to confide, none
to counsel, she had borne the weight of her inward sorrow and dread
alone.

At intervals, during Christmas day, she had observed an incoherency in
her brother's speech, and an unwonted nervousness of manner, which had
inspired her with serious alarm. When he proposed to drive out, she
encouraged the suggestion, hoping that the cold air might restore him
to his usual state. Upon his return with Dr. Graham, he had seemed so
entirely like himself, so happy, so disposed to enjoyment, that she
once more dismissed every thought of danger, until she overheard the
sharp whispers in which he addressed his guest.

"And oh, to think," she cried, while the tears rained down her cheeks,
"that in his love for me, his madness should take the shape of
beholding the conditions of his own brain reflected in mine! He was so
afraid harm would come to me,--thoughtful of me so long as even the
shadow of sanity remained. Dear, dear St. Victor,--so good, so pure,
so wise! Why was not I the victim, if it was fated that there must be
one?" Then lifting her tearful eyes,--"Doctor, perhaps the poison lurks
in my veins, too! Tell me, do you think there is danger that I, too,
shall one day go mad?"

"No, poor child, most emphatically, I do _not_. You must not permit
such a fancy to enter your mind. As St. Victor said, you are your
mother's image and counterpart, in temperament and mental quality,
while he, doubtless, in all active or positive elements of constitution
and temperament, was his father's reflex. Is it not true?"

"I believe so. My dear father used, I know, to think St. Victor nearer
to him than I could be. When together, they looked and acted very much
alike. Poor, dear brother!" and again the tears coursed down her cheeks.

The doctor was deeply moved; this grief was so inexpressibly deep as
to stir in his heart every emotion of tenderness and sympathy it was
possible for a gentle-souled man to feel.

"I loved him," he said, gently, "before I had known him an hour. His
nature was like a magnet, to draw love. Alas! it is sad, when the
promise of such a life is blighted. I would have given my life for his,
could it have averted this terrible blow from this house."

A radiant, soul-full look dwelt in her tear-dimmed eyes. That this
man--a comparative stranger--should manifest this interest in her
brother aroused all the gratitude and affection of her warm nature.

"And I love you, Dr. Graham, for loving him," she said, in the pathos
of the language that never speaks untruthfully,--the pathos of
irrepressible feeling. Then she added: "Do not leave us, doctor. You
are all the friend we have here in this great city. If you leave us I
shall, indeed, be alone."

"I will remain, my dear child, so long as there is need of my services."

He did not tell her, in so many words, that the case was hopeless; but
her eye was quick to see the wasting form and the growing prostration
which followed each paroxysm. How those two faithful attendants
watched and waited for the end! And in the grief for the sister, the
physician's gentleness found that road to a mutual devotion, which is
sure to open before those who love and wait upon a common object of
affection. The doctor and sister became, without a consciousness of
their real feeling, mutually dependent and trusting.

In less than a month, as we have written, the skeleton which came to
the feast on Christmas night departed from the house to abide on St.
Victor Marchand's grave.

At the next meeting of the Institute, Doctor Graham gave a full account
of the case, remarking upon the singular feature in it of the madness
assuming an embodiment in the sanity of another. From much that Edith
told him, as well as from his own observation and knowledge, he was
convinced that, for months, the young man had detected every minute
symptom and development of his disease in his sister; and had a
physician been at hand, he could have traced the insidious progress of
the malady in the strength of the brother's suspicions regarding his
sister. The facts cited to the Institute touched the compassion of the
most practice-hardened physician when Dr. Graham related the strange
and pitying tenderness with which young Marchand had watched his
sister, and strove to divert from her mind the madness which tainted
his blood alone.

"Alone in this great city. If you leave me, I shall be alone indeed."
The words were like an angel's rap upon the heart's door. In his own
great trouble,--the loss of his wife,--the physician deemed himself
afflicted beyond his deserts; but what was his condition compared with
that of this youthful, tender, dependent woman, whose loss isolated her
from all others?

No, not all others. After the first black cloud of her sorrow had
drifted away, she turned to him, whose hand had sustained her, even
when prayer had left her helpless and hopeless,--turned to him with a
love that was more than a love, with an adoration, before which the
physician bent, in wonder and satisfaction. He drew her to his bosom as
something to be kept with all the truth and tenderness of an abiding
love.

The dull office has been exchanged for a home that is like a palace of
dreams; and Edith Graham, never forgetting her great sorrow, yet became
one of the happiest of all who ever loved.



LET THOSE LAUGH WHO WIN.



LET THOSE LAUGH WHO WIN.

[Illustration]


Mr. Pontifex Pompadour was a gentleman whose family record testified
to his having breathed the breath of life sixty years, and yet his
appearance bore witness to not more than forty. Appearances, however,
though they are deceitful, result from causes more or less palpable;
and, in this case, they could be naturally accounted for.

_Ecce testem!_

Mr. Pompadour's complexion was clear and transparent,--but it was not
his own. His teeth were white and regular,--but they were artificial.
His hair was black and glossy,--but it was dyed. His whiskers were
ibid.,--but they were ditto. His dress was the perfection of fashion
and taste, though rather youthful; and withal he carried himself with
a jaunty air, and a light and springing step, smiling blandly on all
he met, as if smiles were dollars and he were dispensing them right
royally.

He had an only son,--Augustus Fitz Clarence Pompadour,--who was
heir-apparent to the very considerable property supposed to belong
to the "said aforesaid." This son was twenty-three, and had graduated
at college with some knowledge of some things, if not of some others.
He was a modern Mithridates in his power to withstand strychnine and
nicotine; and he had devoted much attention to that branch of geometry
which treats of the angles of balls on a cushion. One beautiful trait
in his character, however, was his tender affection for his father,
which showed itself most touchingly--whenever he was in need of money.

In person he was prepossessing, having light-blue eyes, dark-brown
hair, and a drooping moustache. Nor will I allow that he was a vicious
lad. Indolent and useless he certainly was,--an insignificant numeral
in the great sum of humanity, but a _roué_ he certainly was not.
The worst thing about him was his name, and that he received from a
weak, silly novel-reading mother, who gave her life for his, and,
with her dying breath, charged his father to pay this homage to the
yellow-covered world in which she had lived.

If there was anything wanting in the comfortable mansion, where
the Pompadours, father and son, kept bachelor's hall, it was the
refining and softening influence of woman. And this brings us to the
consideration of the skeleton which abode in the closets of Pompadour
and son.

The late Mrs. Pompadour had possessed some property which she had
retained after marriage. Before her death she made a will, leaving
to Augustus the fee, and to his father the income of the estate. In
case, however, Augustus should marry before his father _did_, he was
to enter into full possession of the property. Wives, in dying, do not
generally offer their husbands a premium for replacing them; and so
the judges inferred that the real meaning of the testatrix would be
arrived at by inserting the letter _e_ in the word "_did_;" thus making
the contingency turn upon Augustus' marrying before his father _died_.
Moreover, the lawyer who drew the will (his ancestor was limned by Æsop
in the fable of the Ass in the lion's skin) swore positively to this
rendering being in accordance with the wish of the deceased, and so the
courts decided that in the event of Mr. Pompadour's marrying before his
son, he should retain his interest during life.

Now Mr. Pompadour, aside from mercenary motives, was very uxoriously
inclined; and would doubtless have married years before, had he not set
too high an estimate on himself.

His condition of mind at the beginning of this history might be
expressed logically somewhat as follows:--

First, he must get married.

Second, Augustus must _not_.

And Augustus, by analogous reasoning on identical premises, _mutatis
mutandis_, had arrived at a dual conclusion.

First, he must get married.

Second, his father must _not_.

A vigorous system of espionage had been instituted by father and son,
on the actions of each other. Skirmishes had been frequent; and if
neither gained any decided advantage, neither lost. But the great
battle of the war was yet to be fought, and it has been reserved for my
pen to inscribe its history.

In the suburban village where Mr. Pompadour resided was a handsome
residence; and its owner, "about visiting Europe," offered it for rent.
The house was elegant, and the grounds especially fine. They were
flanked by two shady streets and fronted on a third. A widow lady with
one daughter became the tenant; and, as is usual in such cases, the
whole village called upon her,--three persons prompted by politeness,
and three hundred by curiosity. The cards which did duty for the lady
in returning these calls, announced her to be "Mrs. Telluria Taragon,
_née_ Trelauney." By the same token her daughter was discovered to be
"Miss Terpsichore Taragon."

Mrs. Taragon was one of the most bewitching of widows. About forty (she
acknowledged to thirty-three), she was the very incarnation of matronly
beauty. She was just tall enough to be graceful, and just plump enough
not to be unwieldy. Her eyes were black and dangerous. Her hair was
short, and it clustered over her forehead in little ringlets,--rather
girlish, but very becoming. Her teeth were white and natural, and she
had a most fascinating smile, which showed her teeth in a carefully
unstudied manner, formed a pretty dimple in her chin, and enabled her
to look archly without apparent intention.

Her daughter, Miss Terpsichore, was twenty, with a slender, graceful
form, and a pair of rosy cheeks, before whose downy softness the old
simile of the peach becomes wholly inadequate. She had hazel eyes,
whose liquid depths reflected the brightest and sunniest of tempers,
and dark brown hair, with just a suspicion of golden shimmer filtering
through its wavy folds.

Mrs. Taragon, on the bare charge, could not have escaped conviction
as a "designing widow." She not only was on the lookout, perpetually,
for an investment of her daughter, but she was flying continually from
her cap a white flag of unconditional surrender to the first man bold
enough to attack herself.

Mr. Pontifex Pompadour "availed himself of an early opportunity" to
call upon Mrs. Taragon. His fame had preceded him; and that estimable
lady, who was in her boudoir when he was announced, gave a small
shriek of dismay at her dishevelled appearance. However, no one need
be alarmed at such a manifestation on the part of a "lady of fashion."
It is indicative of perfect satisfaction with her general effect. Mrs.
Taragon flew to her mirror to shake out another curl--and her flounces;
smiled bewitchingly by way of rehearsal; bit her lips frantically to
bring the blood _to_ them, and walked aimlessly about the room for a
few moments with her hands above her head, to send the blood _out_ of
them. Then picking up her handkerchief daintily, and going downstairs
slowly, that her cheeks might not be too much flushed, she acquired
sudden animation at the parlor-door, and burst into the room with
an elaborate rustle, and a thousand apologies for having kept Mr.
Pompadour waiting so long,--and wasn't "the day perfectly lovely?"

If a conversation be interesting, or serve in any way to develop the
plot of a story, I hold that it should be given at full length; but the
polite nothings which were repeated at _this_ interview, came under
neither of these heads. They served only to display Mr. Pompadour's
false teeth, and Mrs. Taragon's real ones (and the dimple) through the
medium of Mr. P.'s real smile and Mrs. T.'s false one.

The two parted mutually pleased, and Mrs. Taragon said to herself, as
she resumed the novel she had dropped at Mr. Pompadour's entrance, "If
I marry _him_, I will have that set of sables, and those diamonds I saw
at Tiffany's."

Mr. Pompadour beheaded a moss rose with his cane, as he stepped
jauntily down the walk, and remarked to his inner self, "A monstrous
fine woman that, and I may say, without vanity, that she was struck
with my appearance. Why, ho! who the devil's that?"

The acute reader will perceive a slight incoherence in the latter
portion of this remark. It was due to a sight which met Mr. Pompadour's
gaze on stepping into the street from Mrs. Taragon's domain. This was
nothing else than Augustus Fitz Clarence walking leisurely up the
street with a young lady whom we know--but the illustrious parent did
not--to be Miss Terpsichore Taragon.

"Confound the boy!" said the old gentleman, "I wonder who he's got
there? Just like his father, though! For I may say, without vanity,
that I was a tremendous fellow among the girls."

Augustus Fitz Clarence was not at all pleased at this chance rencontre.
The intimacy with the charming widow, which it strongly hinted
at, brought vividly to his mind its possible results upon his own
prospects. And, moreover, he was conscious of a peculiar and novel
sensation in regard to the young lady, which made him rather shamefaced
under the paternal eye. In short, he was in love. All the symptoms were
apparent: a rush of blood to the face, and a stammering in the speech,
whenever proximity to the infecting object induced a spasm. He also had
the secondary symptoms,--a sensation of the spinal cord, as if molasses
were being poured down the back, and a general feeling "all over," such
as little boys call "goose-flesh," and which is ordinarily occasioned
by a ghost story, or a cold draught from an open door-way.

To the writer, who stands upon the high level of the philosophic
historian, it is evident that the same feelings warmed the gentle
breast of Terpsichore that burned in the bosom of Augustus. To furnish
food, however, for the unextinguishable laughter of the gods, this fact
is never made clear to the principals themselves till the last moment.
"And so from hour to hour we ripe and ripe ... and thereby hangs a
tale."

With the foregoing paragraph, I bridge over an "hiatus, as it were," of
several months.

Respect for truth obliges me to record the fact, that Mrs. Taragon
regarded her daughter with that unchristian feeling called jealousy.
But, if a heartless, she was a shrewd woman, and she meant to dispose
of Terpsichore advantageously.

There was, at this time, and I believe there is still, in the village
of which I write, an "order of the garter," under the control of one
Mrs. Grundy, the motto of which was: "Those are evil of whom we evil
speak." Its evening meetings were familiarly known as the "nights of
the sewing-circle;" and it was the duty of each member to attend to
everybody's business but his own. An agent of this order promptly put
Mrs. Taragon in possession of everything which had been discovered or
invented concerning Mr. Pompadour, not forgetting to enlarge upon the
conditions of the will. Mrs. Taragon thereupon resolved to marry Mr.
Pompadour; for, in addition to other reasons, she confessed to herself
that she really liked him. As may be supposed, therefore, she looked
with much disfavor on the increasing intimacy between the young people;
but she feared that any violent attempt to rupture it would precipitate
the very result she would avoid. She sat, one day, in a brown study,
regarding the subject in all its bearings, with her comely cheek
resting upon her plump hand, and, at last, arrived at a conclusion.

"I think it would not be wise," she said, consulting the mirror to see
if her hand had left any mark upon her cheek,--"to interfere just at
present; at any rate, not till I am _sure_ of Mr. Pompadour; but I will
keep a close watch upon them."

Not many days afterwards, a picturesque group occupied the bow-window
of Mrs. Taragon's drawing-room. Mrs. T. herself, quite covered with an
eruption of worsted measles, was the principal figure. At her feet,
like Paul at Gamaliel's, sat Augustus; but, unlike Paul, he held a
skein of worsted. Nestling on an ottoman in the recess of the window
was Terpsichore, inventing floral phenomena in water-colors, and
looking very bewitching.

"'Twas a fair scene." As under the shade of some far-spreading oak,
when noon holds high revel in the heavens, the gentle flock cluster in
happy security, fearing no dire irruption of lupine enemy, so--

"Mr. Pompadour," announced the servant.

"The devil!" echoed Augustus Fitz Clarence.

Mrs. Taragon's first impulse was to spring up and greet her visitor
cordially. Her second, to do no such thing. Napoleon said, "An
opportunity lost is an occasion for misfortune." Here was her
Austerlitz or her Waterloo! With the rapidity of genius, she laid the
plot for a little comedy of "The Jealous Lovers," to the success of
which the actors themselves unwittingly contributed.

Half rising, she acknowledged Mr. Pompadour's elaborate bow, and,
motioning him gracefully to a seat, sank back into her chair. Then,
pretending that the worsted was knotted, she bent her curls so near
Augustus' face, and made a whispered remark with such a conscious air,
that the blood rushed to that young man's face in an instant.

"I saw you out riding yesterday, Mr. Pompadour," said the cheerful
widow, pleased that her first shot had taken effect. "And what a
_beautiful_ horse! and you ride _so_ gracefully!"

"Thank you, madam," said Mr. Pompadour, stiffly; "I think I may say,
without vanity, that I do ride tolerably well."

"And you," to the son, "now your father is present, I must call you
_Mr._ Augustus,--may I not?" she said, coaxingly. The "Mr." was
emphasized, as if when alone she did not use it. But this was, of
course, unintentional.

Now Augustus, for some time, had endeavored to ingratiate himself with
Mrs. Taragon, but with little success, and, therefore, he was utterly
unable to comprehend her sudden benignity. He glanced at his father,
and met the eyes of that individual glaring on him with the look of an
ogre deprived of his baby lunch. He glanced at Terpsichore, but that
young lady was absorbed with a new discovery in botany. He glanced at
Mrs. Taragon, but she was calmly winding worsted.

"Terpy, dear," said her mother, "_do_ show Mr. Pompadour some of your
drawings. My dear little girl is _so_ devoted to art!" she exclaimed,
enthusiastically, as the daughter rose to bring her portfolio. "Take
care, Mr. Augustus; you know worsted is a dreadful thing to snarl."
Augustus had involuntarily sprung up to offer his assistance, but he
sank back in confusion.

"Are you fond of engravings, Mr. Pompadour?" asked the young lady,
sweetly.

"Ah! yes! I--I think I may say without vanity,"--began Mr. Pompadour,
but he finished silently to himself,--"D--me, I'll make her jealous!"
Whose Austerlitz or Waterloo should it be? He put on his eye-glass to
inspect the volume, and for a little while almost forgot his egotism in
admiration of the beauty of nature beside him, if not of the beauties
of art before him.

Augustus was not slow in perceiving that, for some unknown reason, Mrs.
Taragon's attention was gained, and he tried desperately to improve the
occasion. Every once in a while, however, his eyes would wander toward
his father, who played his part with so much skill that the bosom of
Augustus was soon filled with burnings, and the mind of the widow with
perplexities. The gentle heart of Terpsichore was grieved also, and
her mind sorely puzzled at the enigmatical conduct of those about her,
while she was somewhat annoyed at the pertinacious attentions of the
elder P.

The distinguished gentleman who wrote so graphically about the "Elbows
of the Mincio," must confess that _our_ Quadrilateral is only second
to that which he has helped to embalm in history. The Irishman's
experience with the large boot and the small one, and the other pair
similarly mismated, was here reproduced with painful reality. Some evil
genius had scattered wormwood on the air, and asphyxia, or something
worse, seemed likely to supervene, when the entrance of another visitor
broke the charm, and the _téte-à-téte_, and the gentlemen fled.

The thermometer of Mr. Pompadour's temper indicated boiling heat. He
sputtered and fumed like an irascible old gentleman as he was, and
managed to work himself into a crazy fit of jealousy, about his son
and the too fascinating widow; and, oddly enough, this feeling thus
aroused by the green-eyed monster, for the time being, quite eclipsed
his mercenary muddle. So, upon poor Augustus, as the available subject,
fell palpable and uncomfortable demonstrations of paternal displeasure.

For several days Mr. Pompadour stayed away from Mrs. Taragon's, and
that good lady began to fear lest she had overdrawn her account at the
bank of his heart, and that further drafts would be dishonored. The
thought of such a catastrophe was torture of the most refined quality.
By an illogical system of reasoning, peculiar to the female mind, she
imagined that Terpsichore was the cause of his desertion, and that
young lady thereupon became the recipient of an amount of small spite
and aggravated vindictiveness, which reflected great credit upon Mrs.
Taragon's inquisitorial capabilities.

She had, it must be obvious, set her heart upon having those diamonds
from Tiffany's.

At the end of a week, however, Mr. Pompadour called upon Mrs. Taragon,
and this time he found her alone. His countenance gave proof of some
desperate resolution. His attire was more than usually elegant. His
hair and whiskers were a trifle blacker and glossier than ever. He had
a rose in his button-hole, and yellow kids on his hands. Solomon, in
all his glory, was not arrayed (I sincerely trust) like unto him! Mrs.
Taragon rose cordially, and held out to him her plump little hand; it
lay a moment in his, as if asking to be squeezed. Mr. Pompadour looked
as if he would like to squeeze it, and perhaps he did.

The lady's cordiality soon gave place to a timid shyness. To use a
military phrase, she was "feigning a retreat." Mr. Pompadour waxed
bold and advanced. The conversation skirmished awhile, the widow
occasionally making a sally, and driving in the enemy's outposts,
his main body meanwhile steadily approaching. The tone in which they
conducted hostilities, however, gradually fell, and if one had been
near enough he might have heard Mr. Pompadour remark, with a kind of
quiet satisfaction, "For I think I may say, without vanity, I still
possess some claim to good looks." The widow's reply was so low that
our reporter failed to catch it, and then--military phraseology
avaunt!--the old veteran knelt on the carpet, and surrendered at
discretion.

"Good gracious, Mr. Pompadour!" exclaimed the widow, with well-feigned
alarm, at the same time picking a thread off her dress, "_Do_ get up,
somebody may come in!"

"Never!" said the old hero stoutly, seeing his advantage, and
determined to have its full benefit, "at any rate, not till you promise
to marry me!"

A form passed the window. This time Mrs. Taragon was really frightened.
"I will," she said hurriedly; "now get up, and sit down."

Mr. Pompadour leaped to his feet with the agility of a boy--of sixty,
and imprinted a kiss lovingly upon the lady's nose, there not being
time to capture the right place on the first assault. What followed we
will leave to the imagination of the reader.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was now October, and the trees had adorned themselves in their
myriad dyes. The maple had put on crimson, the hickory a rich gold, and
the oak a deep scarlet; while the pine and the hemlock "mingled with
brighter tints the living green."

To the woods one balmy day Augustus and Terpsichore went together, to
gather leaves for wreaths and screens. Both were carelessly happy, and
the pines echoed their merry voices as they laughed and sang. At length
the basket, which Augustus carried, was filled with gorgeous booty,
and they sat down upon a fallen log, while Terpsichore wove a garland
for her hair. No wonder that in the tranquil beauty of the scene their
noisy mirth should become hushed. No wonder that, as the sun stole
through the branches, and like Jove of old fell in a shower of gold
about them, upon both their hearts fell the perfect peace of love! With
the full tide of this feeling came to Augustus the resolve to know his
fate; for he felt that upon that answer hung his destiny.

They sat in silence while he tried to teach his tongue the language
of his heart. Then he glanced timidly at the maiden, but her head was
drooped low over the wreath, and her cheeks reflected its crimson dye.

"Miss Taragon," he said, at length, abruptly, "were you ever in love?"

She started like a frightened bird. The rich blood fled to her heart,
and left her face pallid as marble.

"I--I--don't know," she stammered. "Why do you ask me such a question?"

"Because," he said, "then you may know how I feel, and pity me! O
Terpsichore!" he added passionately, "I love you with my whole soul,
and if you will but bless me with your love, my whole life shall be
devoted to your happiness."

And so he talked on in an impetuous strain, of mingled prayer and
protestation, which was stereotyped long before the invention of
printing.

Terpsichore's heart beat wildly. The color came and went in her cheeks,
and she turned her head away to conceal her emotion.

The wreath lay finished in her lap; and at last, with a bright smile,
she placed it on his forehead; and, clasping his hand in both her own,
she kissed him on the forehead. And now we might as well leave them
alone together.

Mrs. Taragon, having made sure of Mr. Pompadour, now proceeded to carry
out her plan of throwing obstacles in the way of the young people.
Augustus, of course, was not aware of her complete information in
regard to his "property qualifications," and attributed her disfavor
to personal dislike. Whatever her motives, however, her actions were
unequivocal; and Terpsichore, especially, had a sorry time of it. So
uncomfortable did matters become, that, upon a review of the situation,
and an eloquent appeal from Augustus, she consented to take with him
that irrevocable step, to which Virgil undoubtedly alluded under the
fine figure of "Descensus Averni." In plain English, they resolved to
run away and be married.

I will not weary the reader with details of the preliminaries. They
are unimportant to my narrative. A note, dispatched by Augustus to the
Rev. Ebenezer Fiscuel, informed that gentleman that about half-past
ten o'clock of an appointed evening he would be waited on by a couple
desirous of being united in holy matrimony.

Augustus arranged to have a carriage in waiting under Terpsichore's
window about ten o'clock, and, with the aid of a ladder and the
above-mentioned clergyman, he hoped to settle the vexed question of the
property, and render all further opposition to their union of an _ex
post facto_ character.

The evening came, and it found Mrs. Taragon and her daughter seated
together in the parlor. Terpsichore was crocheting a net, which, like
Penelope's, grew very slowly. She was nervous and fidgety. Her eyes
wandered restlessly from her mother to the door, and she started at
the slightest sound. Mrs. Taragon seemed uncommonly suspicious and
alert. She was reading, but had not turned a leaf for half an hour. She
glanced furtively and continually about the room.

"She has found us out," thought Terpsichore, and her heart almost
stopped beating. With a great effort she controlled herself, and had
recourse to stratagem.

"Mother, dear," she said, dropping the net in her lap, "you look tired;
why don't you go to bed?"

"Oh, no, darling," said the widow, cheerfully, "I don't feel a bit
weary. But your eyes look red, and I think _you_ had better retire."

"No, mamma, not yet," she replied. "I want to finish this net. I have
done so little upon it lately."

A slight shade of vexation crossed the face of the widow.

"If you had devoted yourself to the net," she said, spitefully, "it
would have been finished."

Terpsichore blushed guiltily. Augustus had spent more than two hours
with her that day; and she felt a presentiment that impending wrath was
about to descend on her devoted head.

"I am sure, mother," she said, quietly, "_you_ can't complain of my
seeing too much company."

This shot told; for Mr. Pompadour had been very attentive of late.

Mrs. Taragon nearly tore a leaf out of her book.

"At any rate," she retorted, "my visitors are respectable."

Terpsichore's lip quivered. The remark was cruel, but it roused her
spirit.

"If my company is not respectable," she said, with an incipient sob,
"it is the fault of his bringing up."

Mr. Pompadour was hit this time, right between his eyes. The widow
blazed.

"You--you--you minx," she said, angrily, "I believe you'd like to see
me dead, and out of your way!"

The remark was utterly irrelevant; but she saw it in the book, and
thought it would be dramatic.

Terpsichore burst into tears, and beat a retreat in disorder. As she
left the room, Mrs. Taragon said to herself, with a sigh of relief,--

"Well, the coast is clear for Pompadour,--and she's safe for to-night,
any way."

Which was a slight mistake.

Ten o'clock came, and with it the carriage. A man glided silently
underneath Terpsichore's window, and a ladder was reared against the
wall. Silently the window opened, and a form descended the ladder, and
was clasped in an equally silent embrace at the foot. Terpsichore had
not entirely recovered her spirits, but she stifled her emotions for
the sake of Augustus. For the same reason she did not scold him for
rumpling her bonnet. Hurrying into the carriage, they drove rapidly
away.

As they turned the corner into the principal street, another carriage,
going in the same direction, came up behind them at a quick trot.
Augustus sprang to his feet, and peered out into the darkness.
"Betrayed," was the thought which flashed through his mind, and he
muttered an eighteen-cornered oath. Terpsichore clung to his coat with
an energy which indirectly reflected lasting credit upon his tailor.

"Put on more steam," whispered Augustus hoarsely to the driver, and
the horses dashed onward at a break-neck pace, soon leaving the other
carriage far behind.

At the rate they were going, it took but a few minutes to reach the
parsonage. Directing the coachman to drive round the corner and wait,
Augustus half-led, half-carried the trembling girl into the house.
The Rev. Fiscuel's family and one or two neighbors were assembled in
the parlor. The ceremony was soon performed, and an earnest blessing
invoked upon the married life of the young people. As they were
receiving the congratulations suited to the occasion, a juvenile
Fiscuel came in, and whispered something to his father. Mr. Fiscuel,
with a smile, turned to Augustus, saying, "My son tells me that your
father is coming in at the gate with a lady."

The newly-married looked at each other in mute surprise. "I'll bet a
hat," exclaimed Augustus, suddenly, "it's your mother; and they've
come to get married!"

The Rev. Ebenezer spoke eagerly: "Did you send me two messages this
morning?"

"No!" said Augustus; "of course I did not."

"Then they have, verily," exclaimed the clergyman, in a tone of
very unclerical excitement; "for I received two messages from 'Mr.
Pompadour.' I spoke of the singularity at the time."

"Can you hide us somewhere?" said Augustus, "till you've 'done' the old
gentleman?"

"Come in here," said Mrs. Fiscuel, who had her share of that leaven of
unrighteousness which is usually called fun. As she spoke, she opened
the drawing-room door.

The Rev. Ebenezer sat down to write a certificate for Augustus; and, as
one door closed upon the young couple, the other opened to admit the
older one. If not in as great a hurry as their children, they seemed
equally desirous of making assurance doubly sure. The family and the
witnesses, who had followed Mrs. Fiscuel out of the apartment, were
again summoned, and, for a second time that evening, the words were
spoken which made a Pompadour and a Taragon "one bone and one flesh."
Watching the proceedings through the crevice of the half-opened door,
was a couple not counted among the "witnesses," and certainly not
invited by the principals.

When the ceremony was over, Augustus and Terpsichore entered the
room. Their appearance created what "Jenkins" would call "a profound
sensation." Mr. Pompadour looked bowie-knives and six-shooters, Mrs.
P., darning-needles and stilettoes. Augustus was self-possessed.
Perhaps he remembered the old saying, "Let those laugh who win."

"We happened here not knowing you were coming," he said, addressing
both; "wont you accept our congratulations."

Suddenly Mrs. Pompadour _née_ Trelawney, gave a scream, and fell back
in a chair, with symptoms of hysterics. She had caught sight of the
_ring_ on her daughter's finger, and comprehended everything in an
instant,--the carriage which had fled before them as they left the
house; this "accidental" visit to the minister's; and, worse than all,
how she had been outwitted!

Terpsichore sprang forward to assist her.

"Go away from me! Go away! Don't let her touch me!" she screamed,
throwing her arms about like a wind-mill. "I wont have it! I wont! I
wont!"

Mr. Pompadour, during this outburst, showed signs of exasperation;
apparently, however, he did not see the point, but was fast concluding
that he had married a lunatic.

Terpsichore was frightened and began to cry. Augustus, to reässure her,
put his arm around her waist. At this, the senior Mrs. Pompadour sprang
up, and seized her husband by the arm, so energetically that it made
him wince. Pointing to the tell-tale ring with a gesture worthy of
Ristori, she managed to articulate: "Don't you see it? That undutiful
girl has married Augustus, and--and he has married _her_!"

Mr. Pompadour "saw it," and uttered some words which were not a
blessing.



THE PROPER USE OF GRANDFATHERS.



THE PROPER USE OF GRANDFATHERS.

[Illustration]


If people without grandfathers are in need of any particular solace,
they may find it in the fact that those cumbrous contingencies of
existence cannot be continually stuck in their faces. A wise man has
remarked, that the moderns are pigmies standing upon the shoulders of
giants. He would have been wiser still, had he observed how frequently
the giants change places with the pigmies, and ride them to death like
Old Men of the Sea. If, at sixteen, I have the dyspepsia and a tendency
to reflect on the problems of my being, I am begged to notice that,
at a corresponding period old Jones, of the alternate generation, was
gambolling o'er the dewy meads, a gleesome boy. If my baby cries and
is puny at teething-time, the oracles, with an intuitive perception
how my grandfather behaved a hundred years before they were born, tell
me it was not so in his day; that heaven lay about him in his infancy;
but that none of the article exists either in that loose condition or
otherwise for the immature human animal who breaks out of darkness
and mystery into this day of gum-rings. If the tremendous pace at
which the modern world is going knocks me up at forty, and compels
me to keep my stall for a year of valetudinarianism, I am asked to
remember what a hale old fellow the same inevitable ancestor was at
ninety; I am inundated with his exuberance of spirits, overwhelmed
with the statistics of his teeth; and invited in the mind's eye (in my
own, too, if I know myself!) to take six-mile walks with him before
breakfast unassisted by a cane. It is not a pleasant state of mind to
be disgusted with one's forefathers, who would, probably have been
very jolly fellows to know, and not the least in the world like the
people who are all the time boring us about them. If there is truth in
spiritualism, a delegation from those fine old boys will, some of these
days, take advantage of a sitting, and rap out an indignant disclaimer
of the bosh that is talked in their name. If my grandfather was not
a much more unpleasant person than myself, he would scorn to be made
a boguey of for the annoyance of his own flesh and blood. Any man of
well-regulated mind must prefer utter oblivion among his descendants to
such perpetuation as that of Mr. Wilfer.

"Your grandpapa," retorted Mrs. Wilfer, with an awful look, and in
an awful tone, "was what I describe him to have been, and would have
struck any of his grandchildren to the earth who presumed to question
it."

If our ancestors could return to the earth, it is little likely
that their first inclination would be to goody themselves over the
excellence of their own period, or pull faces at the degeneracy of
ours. Sleepers in ill-ventilated, or rather entirely non-ventilated
apartments, eaters of inordinate late suppers, five-bottle men, and
for the most part wearers of sadly unphilosophical raiment, those
sturdy old fox-hunters would acknowledge it just cause for astonishment
that their children have any constitutions at all. Little motive
for self-laudation would they find in the fact, that, after drawing
out their account with Nature to the last dime, they had taken a
respectable first-cabin passage to the Infinite Boulogne just before
the great Teller said "No funds," and shoved back their checks through
the window, leaving to their children the heritage of a spotless name
and the declaration of physiological bankruptcy.

Nor would they content themselves, I fancy, with the negative ground
of mere humility. They would have something very decided to say to the
wiseacres, who taunt our wives in the agony of tic-doloureux with the
statement that their grandmothers knew nothing of neuralgia. "No!"
these generous ancients would retort, "that is the residuary legacy
of a generation to whom we left a nervous system of worn-out fiddle
strings." To such as talk of that woful novelty diphtheria as a crime
of the present age, they would point out the impossibility of a race's
throat descending to it without tenderness, a race's blood flowing to
it without taint, from ancestors who swaddled their necks in fathoms
of cravat, and despised the question of sewage. When I had the gout,
and could not stand up for myself, those brave _vieilles moustaches_
would stand up for me. "Many a fine old bin of our port," would they
exclaim, "has been emptied down through the æons into those innocent
toes of thine. I mind me how I smacked my lips over that very bottle
whose broken glass now grinds around, red-hot, in the articulation
of thy metatarsal phalanges. Dancing at thy fair great-grandmother's
wedding, I slaked the thirst of many vigorous sarabands in that
identical ruby nectar, which, turned by the alchemy of generations
into acid blood, now through thy great toe distils in gouts of fiery
torture. I danced;--thou, poor Serò-natus, dancest not, but dost pay
the piper."

Suppose that our returning ancestors regarded us in the intellectual
and spiritual, as well as the physical aspect, they must find still
less reason to put on airs of superiority. If, in the sphere where they
have been lately moving, improvement goes on as fast as we believe,
they may be expected to wonder that the theological and scholastic
training of their own earthly day has not resulted in a present race
of imbeciles and fetish-worshippers, or Torquemadas and madmen. With
thankful astonishment will they revere that nature whose boundless
elasticity and self-repair has brought bright and self-reliant, even
though sometimes a trifle too pert and iconoclastic, Young America
from loins burdened, through all their period of cartilage, with five
days and a half per week of grammar-grinding, a Saturday afternoon of
"keeping in for marks," and a seventh day which should have been the
Lord's, but was conspicuously liker the devil's.

Woman, religion, and the forefathers are all the victims of a false
quality of reverence. The world has immemorially paid them in the
coin of lip-service for the privilege of using their sacredness as a
yoke. They are defrauded of their true power by the hands that waft
them hypocritical incense; bought off the ground where their influence
might be precious and permanent, by the compliment of a moment, or the
ceremony of a day. We pick up the fan of the first, and shoulder her
out of her partnership in our serious business of living. We build
temples for the second, that she may not gad about among our shops,
or trouble the doors of our houses. In the third, we do superstitious
homage to a mere accident of time, and feel free to neglect the genial
lesson of humanity which is eternal.

It is impossible not to reverence our forefathers--those grand old
fellows who, long before we rose, got up to build the fires, and shovel
the sidewalks of this world. The amount of work which they did was
immense; great was their poking and their pushing; their thrashing of
arms, and their blowing of fingers. If they sometimes made a compromise
with their job; if here and there they left the gutters uncleared, or a
heavy drift to thaw over under the sun of modern conscience, and flood
our streets with revolution; if they built some of their fires with
wet wood, which unto this day smokes the parlors, or even the inmost
bed-chambers of mankind,--let us remember how frosty the dawn was, how
poorly made were the tools and mittens of the period. All honor to
their work, and the will with which they went at it! But when we are
asked to regret the rising of the sun; to despise a time of day when
there are no more fires to build, no more walks to shovel; or, if such
anywhere remain, when there are snow-ploughs and patent-kindling to use
in their behoof--distinctly No!--a No as everlasting as Mr. Carlyle's,
and spelt with as big a capital.

The mistake of that great writer and minor disciple of the Belated-Owl
school to which he belongs, naturally arises, not from the
over-development of reverence, to which it is generally ascribed, but
from a constitutional divorce between the poetic imagination and the
power of analysis. The former faculty, by itself, results in impatience
with the meaner actualities of life,--a divine impatience in great
poets, a petulant in small ones. Lacking the latter faculty, such
persons are in the condition of a near-sighted man placed without chart
or compass at the helm of a free-going clipper. Making no allowance for
the fact that the blemished and the trivial disappear with distance,
and, ignorant of the direction in which humanity must steer, they put
out with disgust from a shore where every old clam-shell and rotten
wreck is as conspicuous to those, at least, who look for it as the
orange-groved cliffs, and the fair retiring stretches of greensward,
to voyage for some scarce descried Atlantis gemming the horizon ring
with an empurpled roundness born of vapor, time, and space. To such,
the future might be a noble course to lay; but that lies beyond the
horizon, and impatience is not consistent with faith. On, then, on
to the farthest visible,--but westward, while the grand fleet of
humanity sails last. Into shadow which drowns the petty details of
existence,--not toward a shore which shall be reached only by long
buffeting and weary watching, whose noble scenery, glorious with all
the temples and trophies of the latest age, shall bear unshamed the
scrutiny of the full-risen sun.

The application of scientific processes to the study of history has
revealed the steady amelioration of the race. The mail of chivalric
giants is brought out of romance's armory to the profane test of a
vulgar trying on, and, behold, it is too small for the foot-soldier of
to-day. Population everywhere increases, while the rates of mortality
diminish. The average longevity of the people of London is greater,
by something like twenty-five per cent., than it was a century ago.
The improvement of machinery is more and more lifting the yoke of
physical labor from the neck of man, leaving his mind freer to cope
with the higher problems of his own nature and the universe without.
Not as a matter of platform enthusiasm and optimist poetry, but of
office statistics, do we know that the world is an easier and better
place to live in, and that a man is luckier to be born into it,
than in the day of the fathers. So much has changed, and changed for
the better. That analysis, which the Carlylists lack, reveals still
other changes worked by the course of time in the phenomena of the
race,--such changes as concern the habits of society, the styles of
literature, the systems of political economy and commercial order, the
tenets of philosophy, the schools of art, the forms of government and
religion. This analysis further reveals that, while all these functions
of life are in their nature endlessly mutable, the organic man, from
whom, under all variations, they get their _vis viva_, remains from
age to age eternally the same. While each successive generation has
its fresh, particular business on the earth,--something to do for
the race, which succeeding generations will not have the time, even
as prior generations had not the light, to do,--something which is
wanted right away,--something for which it was sent and for which
the whole machine-shop of time had been shaping the material to be
worked by its special hand,--analysis discloses that the capital upon
which every business is to be carried on undergoes neither increase
nor diminution. There is just as much faith, just as much courage,
just as much power in the world as there ever was. They do not show
themselves in Runnymedes, because Runnymede has been attended to; nor
in wondrous Abbot Sampsons, because monkery is mainly cured. They
are not manifest in martyred Edwardses, because at this day Edwards
could call a policeman; nor in burning Cranmers, because society has
made a phenomenal change in her method with martyrs and shuts them
in a refrigerator, where once she chained them to a stake. They do
not appear in French Revolutions, because the world has grown through
a second American Revolution, grander than the first, and a great
representative native has plucked Liberty out of the fire without one
scorch of license on her garments. They seek no outlet in crusade, for
Jerusalem has been made of as little consequence as Barnegat, by the
fulfilment of the promise,--

"The hour cometh when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet in
Jerusalem, worship the Father, ... when the true worshippers shall
worship him in spirit and in truth."

I have a little butcher, who is Coeur de Lion in the small. He does not
split heads nor get imprisoned in castles, but has the same capricious
force, the same capacity for affront-taking, the same terribleness
of retribution, and the same power of large, frank forgiveness which
belonged to the man who broke the skulls of the Saracens and pardoned
his own assassin. I went to school to Frederick the Great. He did not
take snuff nor swear in high Dutch, and it was his destiny to be at
the head, not of an army of men, but of one hundred as unmanageable
boys as ever played hawkey or "fought pillows" in the dormitory.
His solution of difficulties was as prompt, his decisions were as
inexorable, he had as irascible a temper and as admirable a faculty of
organization as his Prussian prototype's. Calvin and Servetus discuss
their differences at my dinner-table; the former possesses all his
old faith in the inscrutable; the latter all his ancient tendency to
bring everything alleged to the tribunal of science, and I may add that
Calvin has as little doubt as ever of the propriety of having Servetus
cooked,--only he postpones the operation, and expects to see it done
without his help. I am acquainted with Sir Philip Sidney, the courtly
knight and the melodious poet. The chivalry with which he jousted at
Kenilworth and fought at Zutphen are hourly needed in the temptations
and harassments of a broker's office, and many's the hard day through
which it has borne him with honor. The pen which he devotes to the
Muses is as facile as in the Arcadian time,--though the sturdy lance he
used to set in rest is substituted by another pen, of the fat office
type, consecrated to the back of gold certificates and the support of
an unmediævally expensive family.

Looking in all directions round the world, I find the old
nobleness,--the primeval sublimities of love and courage, faith and
justice, which have always kept humanity moving, and will keep it to
the end. In no age has the quantity of this nobleness been excessive,
but so much of it as exists is an imperishable quantity. It is a good
interred with no man's bones; it is the indispensable preventive of the
world's annihilation. Carlyle has been praised for the epigrammatic
assertion that nothing can be kept without either life or salt. This
is true, but not the whole truth; salt will keep beeves, but as for
nations and races which have lost their savor, wherewithal shall they
be salted? The fact that mankind survive at all is the proof that
ages have not tainted them with putrescence. Things live only by the
good that there is in them, and the interests to which they appeal;
the fields which open to man, in our own day, are so much vaster and
massier than they were in the day of our fathers, that the tax on the
activities of the race could not be met by our capital of life if we
had lost one particle of the good which supported them.

When I look at the fathers, I recollect that courage and love, faith
and justice, have no swallowing horizon, while all that is petty and
base succumbs in one generation to the laws of perspective. It is
pleasanter thus. At the grave of the old schoolmaster who flogged us,
we remember the silver hair and the apple he gave us once,--never the
rattan. "We had fathers after the flesh who corrected us, and we gave
them reverence," nothing but reverence, when we leaned with tearful
eyes over their vacant chairs. If I have ever quarrelled with my
friend, when he can return to me no more, I make up with his memory
by canonizing him. The tendency to do thus is among the loveliest and
divinest things in our nature. But it is a still lovelier and diviner
thing to anticipate the parallax of time and look upon the present with
the same loving, teachable, and reverent eyes, which shall be bent upon
it from the standpoint of coming generations. He to whom the beauty and
nobleness of his own time are, throughout all that he deplores in it
and in himself, the conspicuous objects of love and veneration,--who
extends the allowance of the dead to the faults of the living,--from
whom no personal disappointments can ever take away his faith in the
abiding divinity of his kind,--need never fear that his judgment of
the fathers will be a churlish and disrespectful one. The only object
which such a man can have in recalling the vices and defects of older
generations is to establish their kinship with his own, to prove his
era's legitimacy against philosophers who find only pettiness in the
present and grandeur in the past. If he cannot make them see the good
side by which the modern family receives blood from the ancient, there
shall not be any bend sinister on his escutcheon because he neglects
to show them the bad one, though he would rather vindicate his lineage
the other way. To him the organic unity of mankind, throughout all
generations, is dearer than the individual reputation of any one of
them.

Having the faith of this organic unity he can look at the errors of
the forefathers without pain. They lessen neither his love nor his
respect for them. Who is there that would care to know king David only
as a very respectable Jew, in a Sunday-school book, who was always
successful, invariably pious, and passed his time wholly in playing
hymns on a harp with a golden crown upon his head? To almost all young
readers, and many an old one, the vindictive psalms seem a shocking
inexplicability in the sacred canon. The philosopher, however, feels
with the illiterate preacher, "It is a comfort to us poor erring
mortals, my brethren, to remember that on one occasion even, David,
beloved of the Lord, said not only, 'I am mad,' but 'I am fearfully and
wonderfully mad?'" Not that it would be any comfort to us if that were
all we possess of him; but we also have the record of his getting over
it. I once knew a little boy who learned to swear out of the psalms,
and it must be acknowledged that of good round curses there is in no
tongue a much fuller armory. Conscientious persons, who want to damn
their enemies without committing sin, no doubt often sit down and read
an execratory psalm with considerable relief to their minds. Not in
this spirit do men skilled in human nature peruse the grand rages of
the many-sided fighting bard; not because they would cloak their errors
with the kingly shadow of his own, do they rejoice that he exists for
us to-day just where the rude, large simplicity of his original Hebrew
left him, and that tame-handed biography has never been able to pumice
him down into a demi-god. They are glad because these things prove him
human and imitable. If his stormy soul triumphed over itself; if he
could be beloved of the Infinite at a moment when the surges of both
outer and inner vicissitude seemed conspiring to sweep him away, then
we cease to hear his swearing or the clamor of his despair; and to us,
whose modern spirits are not exempt from flood and hurricane, his grand
voice chants only cheer down the centuries, and we know that there is
love caring and victory waiting for us also in our struggle, since we
are not the lonely anomalies of time.

As with David so with all the men of the past,--it gives us no pain
to find that they were not a whit nearer perfection than ourselves.
We do not regret their superseded customs, nor wish them restored in
the living age. He who takes them from the time of which they are
a congruous part and seeks to import them into a day which has no
explanatory relevance to them, so far from showing them reverence,
is like a man who, to compel the recognition of his grandfather's
tombstone, strips it of its moss, scrubs it with soap and sand, and
sets it up on Broadway among signs and show-cases. Their opinions
are not final with us, because every age brings new proofs, and
every generation is a new court of appeal. Their business methods
are framed upon a hypothesis which does not include the telegraph
or the steam-engine. Where a man can persuade his correspondents to
send their letters by the coach and their goods by the freight-wagon,
he may adjust himself very comfortably to the good old way by which
his grandfather made a fortune and preserved his health to a great
age. Until he gets his mail weekly and answers it all in a batch,
recuperating from that labor by the sale of merchandise, one box to an
invoice, he is simply absurd to lament over the rapidity with which
fortunes are made at this day, and eulogize the "sure and slow" process
by which a lifetime whose sole principle was the avoiding of risks
attained the same object. As if the whole problem of life were not how
to secure, as quick as possible, all the material good necessary for
living, in order to leave the kind free for all its higher functions of
self-development and discipline. As if money were not a mere expression
of the extent to which a man has subordinated the forces of the world
to his own use,--a thing, therefore, which naturally comes quicker to a
generation which has taken all the great atmospheric and imponderable
couriers into its service!

The true use of ancestors is not slavish; we do not want them for
authority, but for solace. If my grandfather could come back, he
certainly would be too much of a gentleman to sit down on my hat
or put his feet on my piano; and how much less would he crush my
convictions or trample on my opinions! He would be equally too
much of a business-man to interfere in the responsibilities of any
practical course I might take, when he had not looked into the
books of the concern, taken account of its stock, or consulted the
world's market-list for an entire generation. He would do what any
man would be proud to have his grandfather do,--take the easiest
and most distinguished chair at the fireside, and tell us night by
night, the story of his life. What roars of laughter would applaud
his recollection of jokes uttered by some playmate of his boyhood.
They would seem so droll to us at the distance of a hundred years,
though a contemporary might have uttered them without raising a smile
on our faces. What mingling of tears and laughter would there be when
he related some simple little family drama,--its pathos depending on
incidents as slender as the death of Auld Robin Gray's cows, but like
the wonderful song, in which those animals have part interest, going
unerringly to the fountains of the human heart! How would we double
up our fists, how red would we grow in the face when he told us, in
the most unadorned, dispassionate way, about the cruel creditor who
foreclosed a mortgage on him and turned him and our grandmother into
the street, just after the birth of their first child, our father; and
when he came to the passage where the kind friend steps in and says,
"here are five hundred dollars,--pay me when you are able," how many
girls there would be sobbing, and men violently blowing their noses!
If we had belonged to the period of the foreclosure and been next-door
neighbors to the mortgagor, the thing might have impressed us simply
as the spectacle of a young couple with a baby who couldn't meet their
quarterly payments, and were obliged to curtail their style of living.
The thing still happens, and that is the way we look at it. But when
grandpapa relates it, nothing in the domestic line we ever saw upon the
stage seems half so touching. The littlest school-boy feels a roseate
fascination hovering around the dogs that went after squirrels with
that venerable man when he wore the roundabout of his far-off period;
there is glamour about the mere fact that then, as now, there were
dogs, and there were squirrels; and as the grandchild hears of the
boughs which hung so full, the crisp leaves which crackled so frostily
those many, many falls ago--a strange delight comes over him, and he
seems to be going out chestnutting in the morning of the world.

What we want of one, we want of all the grandfathers of the
race,--their story. Their value is that they take the experience of
human life, and hold it a sufficient distance from us to be judged
in its true proportions. That experience in all ages is a solemn and
a beautiful, a perilous, yet a glorious thing. We are too near the
picture to appreciate it, as it appears in our own day, though all its
grand motives are the same. We rub our noses against the nobilities
and cannot see them. The foreground weed is more conspicuous than the
background mountain. When the grandfathers carry it from us, and hang
it on the wall of that calm gallery where no confusing cross-lights
of selfish interest any longer interfere, the shadows fall into their
proper places, the symbolisms of the piece are manifest, and above
all minor hillocks, above all clouds of storm, unconscious of its
earthquake struggles and its glacier scars, Human Nature stands an
eternal unity, its peak in a clear heaven full of stars. We recognize
that unity and all things become possible to us, for thereby even the
commonest living is glorified.



AT EVE.



AT EVE.

[Illustration]


"It is almost time for John to come home, I guess," and the young wife
rose from her sewing and put the tea-kettle over the bright fire on
the clean-swept hearth. Then she pulled the table out into the middle
of the floor, right to the spot where she knew the setting sun would
soon shine through the latticed window; for John loved to see the light
play upon the homely cups and saucers, and pewter spoons; he said it
reminded him of the fairy stories, where they ate off gold dishes. She
went about her work swiftly, but very quietly. Once there had been a
time when the little cottage rang early and late with the sound of her
glad voice. But then a pair of little feet crept over the floor, and a
tiny figure had raised itself up by the very table whose cloth was now
so smooth and unruffled by the small awkward hands.

When Margery had put the golden butter, the jug of cream, and the slice
of sweet honey on the table, she went to the door to look for John. A
narrow path, skirted on one side by waving corn-fields, on the other
by pastures and orchards, stretched from the cottage down to the
broader road that led to the village. The sun was already low in the
sky, and threw across the path the shadow of the old apple-tree that
stood beside the house. Margery remembered how full of pink and white
blossoms the tree had been that spring when she first came here as
John's bride, and how they showered down like snow, while now a ripe
apple occasionally dropped from the branches with a heavy plump.

"Here comes John at last," she said in a low voice, as she saw him
approaching from the village. He was yet a considerable distance off,
but Margery's bright eyes discerned that he was not alone. Beside
him walked a girl, whom Margery had known already while they were
both children. Mary was called handsome by the village lads; but she
was poor, and she and her father helped to do field work, on the
neighboring farms, in the busiest seasons of the year.

As she and John advanced, Margery noticed that they seemed engaged in
earnest conversation. Then John stood still and gave her his hand. The
girl seized it eagerly and put it to her lips, and looking up at him
once, turned around and walked back to the village, while John hastened
on with longer steps.

Margery's lips quivered. She did not wait for John at the door, but
turned back into the house, and was busied at the hearth when he came
in.

"Well, wify, how goes it this evening?" he asked in his cheery voice,
which always reminded Margery of the time when he used to add, "And how
is my little pet darlint?" and pick the baby up from the floor. The
tones of his voice had grown almost kinder and more cheerful since, if
that were possible, though he always gazed around the room with a vague
kind of look, as if he half-expected to see the baby toddle up to him
from some corner.

"Thank you, John, all goes as well as usual. You are late to-night."

"Yes, there was something to detain me," he said, as he took down the
tin-basin and filled it with water, to wash his sunburnt face and
hands. A shadow flitted over Margery's face, but it was gone again
when they sat down to table. It was still light enough to see without
a candle, though the golden sunbeams John loved so much had faded long
ago. He talked cheerily of the crops, and of harvest-time, and of the
excellent prospects for the coming winter. There was no occasion for
Margery to say much, and she was glad of it.

Then she quickly cleared the table, and John sat down by the hearth,
lighted his pipe, and laid his evening paper across his knee to be read
afterwards by candle-light. While Margery washed the dishes there was
no sound in the room but the clatter of the cups and spoons, and the
monotonous ticking of the old-fashioned clock in the corner. Margery
sometimes glanced over at John, who sat smoking and looking into the
fire. At last he got up, lit the candle, and, going up to Margery,
he asked, "What's the matter, Margery? You are uncommonly silent
to-night."

She stopped in her work, and hung the towel over her arm.

"John," she said, looking straight at him, with a strange light in her
brown eyes, and her face rather pale, "I want to go home."

An expression half of pain, half of astonishment, came into John's
honest face. He too was a shade paler, and the candle trembled a little
in his hand as he asked,--

"Is the house too lonely again, Margery? You did say you wanted to go
home for a spell, after, after--but I thought you had got contented
again."

She had turned away from him as she answered,--

"Yes, John, the house is lonely again. I see the little hands on all
the chairs, and hear the little feet crawling over the floor;" but
there was something of coldness in her tone, very unlike the pleading
voice in which she had once before made the same request.

"Well, Margery," he went on, after a pause, going to the table and
putting the candle upon it, "if you think it will ease your heart to go
and see the old folks a little while, I am willing you should."

He never spoke of the utter loneliness that fell upon him at the
thought of her going away, and how to him, too, the dim room was full
of the golden hair and the blue eyes of his child.

She said nothing.

"When will you come back, Margery?" he asked, after another pause.

"I don't know, John."

"When do you think of going?"

"On Monday morning, if you can spare the horse to take me over."

"I think I can, Margery; but I shall be sorry to lose my little wify so
soon," he could not help saying, as he laid his rough hand on her hair,
with so soft a touch that the tears started to her eyes.

"I shall ask Mary to come here and keep house for you, while I am
away," she said. "Mary is used to our ways, and can do for you very
well."

"Mary?" asked John, "I reckon she will be busy enough at harvest-time.
I need nobody when you are gone. I can live single again," with a half
smile; "but just as you think, Margery."

Nothing more was said on the subject. Margery took up her sewing, and
John his paper. But he did not read very attentively that evening, but
often stopped and looked long and intently at Margery, who kept her
eyes steadily on the busy needle that was flying to and fro in her
fingers. It was a Saturday, and John tired with a week's hard labor.
So the fire was raked for the night, the old clock wound up, and the
little kitchen soon dark and silent.

Next morning Margery awoke bright and early. So early indeed, that
through the open window of the bedroom she could see the pink clouds
floating in the sky, and felt the cool wind that always goes before the
rising of the sun. The swallows under the roof were just waking up,
and beginning to twitter half-dreamily. With her hands folded under
her head, Margery lay musing for a long while. Somehow her whole life
passed before her on this still, holy Sunday morning. She remembered
when she used to play barefoot in the little brook or sit on warm
summer afternoons on the straight-rowed wooden benches of the village
school. How the years had sped by like a single day, and she was a
grown young girl. Then John came and courted her, and then--. The sun
had come up, and played in bright lights over the ceiling, while on the
floor quivered the shadows of the rose-leaves from outside before the
window. The church-bell in the village began to ring. Margery listened
to the sounds, as they came borne on the soft breeze, across the waving
corn-fields. She looked out at the blue sky and thought of heaven, and
the blessed angels singing and rejoicing there. She thought of her
child, and of John, and of herself. A mingled feeling of joy and pain,
of calm and unrest, crept into her heart. She felt the tears rising
to her eyes again, but she would not let them. She sprang up, dressed
hastily, and went softly downstairs, while John slept heavily on.

As Margery entered the kitchen, the cat got up from her rug, stretched
her legs and yawned, and then came forward to be petted. On the next
Sunday, Mary would probably be here to give pussy her milk, and stroke
her soft, glossy back. Margery threw open the door to let in the
beautiful fresh morning air. The dew lay sparkling on the grass and
flowers. Down there on the road was the spot where John and Mary had
parted last night. Margery turned away and shut the door again. Then
she bestirred herself to get breakfast.

When John came down to it, Margery thought his step sounded heavier
than she had ever heard it before.

"Will you go to church this morning, Margery?" he asked, when the
simple meal was over.

"No, John, I guess not."

"Well, Margery, I am going. I will come home as soon as service is
over; but I think it will do me good."

"John, will you promise me to"----

"What, Margery?"

"This afternoon, after I have got ready to go, will you come once more
with me to the--the grave?"

"Yes, Margery, yes."

She helped him on with his best coat, brought him the prayer-book, and
then watched him from the window as he walked down the road with slow
steps.

Margery wondered what could be the matter with herself that morning.
She felt so tired that her feet almost refused to carry her. A hundred
times in her simple household duties, she paused to take breath,
and sat down to rest so often, that John came home from church and
to dinner, almost before it was ready. He praised the cookery; but
the dishes were taken almost untouched off the table again, and when
everything was cleared away, Margery said,--

"I must go upstairs now, John, to get ready. I want to take some of my
clothes with me."

He sat on the doorstep, holding his pipe, which had gone out, between
his fingers, and only nodded his head, and said nothing. Margery went
up to the bedroom, and began to open closets and drawers, and pack
articles of clothing into a small trunk. At last she unlocked the great
old bureau, and took out a pile of tiny dresses and aprons, a tin cup,
and a few bright marbles, and stowed them carefully away in the trunk.
A pair of small, worn-out leather shoes, turned up at the toes, stood
in the drawer yet. Should she carry both these away, too? No, she
thought, as she brushed away the tears that had fallen upon it, one she
had better leave John. She put it resolutely back, locked the drawer,
and laid the key on the top of the bureau. Now there was nothing more
to be done. She looked around the room. Yes, that was to be readied up
a little, so that John might not miss her too much for the first day or
two. So she polished the chairs and the bureau, and carefully dusted
the mantlepiece, with the red and white china dog and the kneeling
china angel that stood there. Then she herself was to be dressed; she
had almost forgotten that altogether. She opened her trunk once more,
and took out the dress John loved best to see her in.

Several hours had slipped by while she was thus employed, and now the
village-clock struck five. She hastened down. John still sat on the
doorstep where she had left him.

"John, dear, I did not think it was so late. It is time to go to the
graveyard. Are you ready to come?"

He looked up as if he had been dreaming, but rose and said, "Yes,
Margery."

He shut the house-door, and they turned into a path to the rear of the
cottage. For some distance this road, too, was skirted on both sides
by fields of ripened corn. John passed his hand thoughtlessly over the
heavy ears, and now and then pulled one up, and swung it round in the
air. Neither of them spoke, and for a long while there was no other
sound but the rustle of their steps.

The path at length turned aside and led to a high plateau that
overlooked the valley, in which deep shadows were already beginning to
fall. Blue mists crept over the foot of the mountains, while their tops
were yet lit up by the sun. The smoke from the chimneys rose up into
the air, and the shouts of the village children, playing on the meadow,
faintly came up from below. There under that great oak, the only tree
for some distance around, John had first asked Margery to be his wife.
Involuntarily the steps of both faltered as they drew near the spot,
but neither stopped. Margery glanced up at John; she could not see his
face, for his head was turned, and he seemed to be attentively looking
at something down in the valley.

Another turn in the road, and the small cemetery, with the white stones
that gleamed between the dark cypress-trees, rose up before them. In
silence they found their way to the little grave. John seated himself,
without a word, on a mound opposite, Margery knelt down and pulled
some dried leaves off the rose-tree she had planted, and bound the ivy
further up on the white marble cross. She felt that John watched her,
but did not look up at him. Though she tried hard to keep them back,
the tears would fill her eyes again and again, so that she could hardly
see to pluck up the few weeds that had grown among the grass. When
that was completed, she covered her face with her hands and tried to
pray. She wanted to ask that John might be happy while she was away,
and that,--but her head swam round, and she found no words. She raised
her eyes, and glanced at John through her fingers. He sat with his back
toward her now, but she saw that his great, strong frame trembled with
half-suppressed sobs.

"O John!" she cried, bursting into tears. She only noticed yet that he
suddenly turned around, and then closed her eyes, as he clasped her in
his arms. For a time she heard nothing but the sound of her own low
weeping, and the throbbing of John's heart. Suddenly she looked up, and
said,--

"O John, dear, dear John, please, please forgive me!"

"Margery," he answered, in as firm a tone as he could command, "don't
talk so."

"Oh, but, John, I did not want to go away only because the house was so
lonely, but because,--because,"--

"Because what, Margery?" he asked, astonished.

"O John, because I--I thought you loved Mary better than me, because I
saw you together so many times in the last weeks; and she kissed your
hand last night."

John's clasp about Margery relaxed, and his arms sank down by his side.
His tears were dried now, and his earnest blue eyes fixed upon Margery
with a dumb, half-unconscious expression of surprise and pain. She
could not bear the look, and covered her face with her hands again.

"No, Margery," he said, slowly, "I only saw Mary because,"--

Margery raised her head.

"John, dear John, don't talk about it! I don't believe it any more! I
know I was a bad, foolish wife! Only love me again, and forgive me,
dear, dear John! Oh, I don't believe it any more!" and she took his
right hand and kissed it, as Mary had done.

"Wont you forgive me, John? I will never, never go away from you," she
pleaded, while the tears streamed down her face.

He took her in his arms once more, and kissed her lips.

The red evening sunlight had crept away from the little grave, and the
dusk was fast gathering about it. Margery bent down and kissed the
white marble cross; then they turned their steps homeward, Margery
holding John's hand like a child.

"I must unpack my clothes again to-night," she said, after a while. "I
have all the baby's little things in my trunk, but, John, I was going
to leave you one of the little shoes."

She felt her hand clasped closer in his.

"Margery," he said then, "I think I had better tell you about Mary."

"John, dear John, didn't I tell you I don't believe that any more," she
answered, with another pleading look.

"No Margery, it is not that, but I guess you might help us. You never
knew that Mary's father is getting very bad in the way of drinking.
Since his house was burnt down, and he lost his property, he has been
going on in that way. Mary takes it dreadful hard, and wont let the
news get about, if she can help it. She thinks so much of you, and she
says you used to like her father so well, that she wouldn't have you
know for almost any money. So I promised not to tell you. She has come
to me many and many a time, crying, and begging me to help her. She
works as hard as she can, but her father takes all she gets; so they
are very poor. When you saw us yesterday, I had given her money to pay
their rent. She wants to raise money enough to take him to the Asylum,
because there he may be cured. I promised her to get him some decent
clothes."

"O John, I will sew them. Poor Mary! and you needn't tell her who sewed
them."

"That's right, Margery!"

They had reached the house by this time, and John opened the door. The
kettle was singing over the hearth, and the bright tin pans against the
wall shone in the firelight. On the doorstep Margery turned around,
and, throwing her arms around John's neck, said softly,--

"John, I am glad I am going to stay."

When they had entered, John lit the candle, and while Margery was
getting supper, took up yesterday's unfinished paper. He read very
attentively this evening, but suddenly stopped, and Margery saw the
paper tremble in his hand. Then he rose, gave it to her, and said, in a
husky voice,--

"Read that, Margery."

Margery read. Then the paper dropped, and with a fresh burst of tears
she once more threw her arms about John's neck.

In one corner of the paper that lay neglected on the floor was the
poem:--

    "As through the land at eve we went,
       And plucked the ripened ears,
    We fell out, my wife and I,
    Oh, we fell out, I know not why,
       And kissed again with tears.

    "For when we came where lies the child
      We lost in other years;
    There above the little grave,
    Oh, there above the little grave,
      We kissed again with tears."



BROKEN IDOLS.



BROKEN IDOLS.

[Illustration]


Not long since, it was my misfortune to be inveigled into attending
one of the semi-periodical "Exhibitions" of the ---- Institute, a
seminary for young ladies. I say it was my misfortune, because, to
please my better half, I abandoned the joys of my fireside, my book,
and my slippers, to stand for two hours by an open window, with a cold
draft blowing on my back; hearing, now and then, a few words of the
sentimental and "goody" platitudes of which the young ladies' essays
were composed,--the reading of which was interspersed with pyrotechnic
performances on the piano-forte, which the programme was kind enough to
inform me were "The Soldiers' Chorus from Faust," "Duette from Norma,"
etc. I was fortunate in having a programme to enlighten me.

There was nothing remarkable about the "Exhibition," except that, in
the dozen essays which were read, all the verses of Longfellow's "Psalm
of Life" were quoted, and that through them all there ran a dismal
monotone of morbid sentiment. One young lady, who had a beautiful
healthy bloom on her cheeks and wore quite a quantity of comfortable
and elegant clothing, uttered a very touching wail over her buried
hopes, her vanished joys, and the mockery of this hollow-hearted
world. She stated that all that's brightest must fade,--that "this
world is all a fleeting show, for man's illusion given,"--that "our
hearts, though stout and brave, still, like muffled drums, are beating
funeral marches to the grave;" and much more of the same sort. She was
impressed with the fact that Time is an iconoclast,--which last word
seemed to strike her as one of the finest in the dictionary.

This is very true. Time does smash our idols continually; but should we
lament and sing dirges and make ourselves generally uncomfortable on
that account? Because the geese that we thought swans have turned out
to be only geese after all, should we go into mourning for our "buried
hopes," and "vanished joys"? That we outgrow our youthful fancies is no
more a cause for sentimental regret than that we outgrow our youthful
jackets. For myself, I can look upon the ashes of my early loves,--and
their name was legion,--with as few tears as I bestow upon the ragged
remnants of my early trousers.

A number of years ago my young heart's fresh affections were lavished
upon the bright-eyed girl whose father kept a little candy-shop and
bakery across the way, and who with her own fair hands often gave me
striped sticks of stomach-ache for my pennies, and sometimes, when I
was penniless, sweetened my lot with a few peppermint drops, telling
me to pay for them when I came into my fortune. Many a time have I
stood by the lighted window of the little shop, heedless of the bell
that summoned me to my nightly bread and milk, watching her trip about
among the jars of candy and barrels of nuts, tying up parcels and
making change with a grace that seemed unsurpassable. But there was a
red-haired, scorbutic youth who drove the baker's bread-cart, and also
drove me to distraction. He was always flinging my youth into my face
and asking if my mother was aware of my whereabouts. At last a grave
suspicion forced itself upon my mind that Lizzie looked upon him with
favor and made light of my juvenile demonstrations. Time proved that my
suspicion was well founded; for one day a carriage stopped in front of
the little shop, out of which sprang the scorbutic young man, clad in
unusually fine raiment, including a gorgeous yellow vest and immaculate
white gloves. He was followed by a solemn-looking person, who wore a
very black coat and a very white choker. They passed through the shop
and went up the back stairs. After a while they returned, and with
them Lizzie, all smiles and blushes and ribbons and a bewitching pink
bonnet. The carriage was driven away and my idol was smashed.

Straightway I builded me another, which was in turn broken, and
followed by another and another. Sometimes it was the dashing
highwayman, whose life and brilliant exploits I furtively made myself
acquainted with, out in the wood-house, and whose picture, in profuse
curls, enormous jack-boots, and immense expanse of coat-flap, graced
the yellow covers of the Claude Duval series of novels. Anon it was
the great Napoleon seated so proudly,--in cheap lithograph,--upon the
extreme hind-quarters of his fiery charger, and pointing with aspiring
hand toward the snowy Alps, that I set up and worshipped.

Nor was I free from relapses of the tender passion. About the time that
my first love, Lizzie, was putting the third of her red-haired progeny
into pantaloons, and torturing his fiery elf-locks into an unsightly
"roach," and when I was a freshman in college, I became convinced that
the light of my life shone from a certain window in Miss Peesley's
boarding-school; for behind that window a comely maiden, with golden
hair and eyes of heavenly blue, slept and studied and ate sweetmeats
and read Moore's melodies. My heart was hers entirely, as was also
my spare coin,--for we had specie in those days,--which I converted
into valentines and assorted candies and "The Language of Flowers,"
for her especial use and behoof. I worshipped her at church, as she
sat, with a bevy of other girls, aloft in the gallery, the entrance to
which was guarded by the ancient and incorruptible damsel who taught
algebra in Miss Peesley's academy, and who also marshalled the young
ladies to and from church, keeping them under her eye, and putting to
rout any audacious youth who endeavored to walk with one of them. It
was for her that I bought a flute, and with much difficulty so far
mastered it as to play "Sweet Home" and "What fairy-like music,"--in
performing which, standing in the snow under her window at midnight's
witching hour, I caught a terrible cold, besides being threatened
with arrest by a low-bred policeman for making an unseemly noise in
the night-time,--as if I were a calliope. It was to bow to her that I
neglected to split and carry in my Saturday's wood, and stood on the
street-corner all the afternoon, for which I was soundly rated at night
by my venerable father, who also improved the occasion by repeating his
regular lecture upon my inattentions to study and general neglect of
duty.

So great was my infatuation that I manifested an unheard-of anxiety
about the details of my dress. I even went so far as to attend the
Friday evening "Receptions" at the academy, where Miss Peesley
graciously gave the young gentlemen an opportunity to see and converse
with the young ladies, under her own supervision. It was a dismal
business,--sitting bolt upright in a straight-backed, hair-cushioned
chair, under the gaze of Miss P. and her staff, smiling foolishly at
some dreary, pointless sally of Miss Van Tuyl's, who taught rhetoric
and was remarkably sprightly for one of her years,--crossing and
uncrossing my legs uneasily, and endeavoring to persuade myself that I
was "enjoying the evening." Nevertheless, I made desperate attempts to
be happy even under these adverse circumstances.

And what was my reward?

There came to college a young man who was reputed to be a poet. He wore
his hair long and parted in the middle, was addicted to broad Byronic
collars, could take very pretty and pensive attitudes, and was an adept
in the art of leaning his head abstractedly upon his hand. He at once
became that terrible thing among the ladies, a lion. And he was a very
impudent lion. Regardless of my claims and feelings, he sent to her,
whom I had fondly called mine own, an acrostic valentine of his own
composition, taking care that she should know from whom it came. The
result was that I was--as we Western people would term it--"flopped!"

And so another idol was smashed.

Then came a reaction. I scorned the sex and sought balm for my wounded
feelings in the worst pages of Byron.

Having by this time attained the sophomoric dignity, I discovered
that the end and aim of existence was to be _fast_,--that the divine
significance of life consisted in drinking villanous whiskey "on the
sly," and proclaiming the fact by eating cardamom seeds; in stealing
gates and the clapper of the chapel bell; in devouring half-cooked
chickens, purloined from professional coops; in hazing freshmen; in
playing euchre for "ten cents a corner;" and in parading the streets at
midnight, singing "Landlord, fill the flowing bowl," and vociferously
urging some one to "rip and slap and set 'em up ag'in, all on a
summer's day." I smoked vile Scarfalatti tobacco in a huge Dutch pipe,
wore a blue coat with brass buttons, a shocking hat, and my trousers
tucked into my boots,--which after my great disappointment befell
me I ceased to black with any degree of regularity,--and regulated
my language according to a certain slangy work called "Yale College
Scrapes."

I am inclined to look upon these youthful pranks not as unpardonable
sins, though I freely admit their utter folly, but as the vagaries of
immature _genius_,--if I may say so,--scorning to walk decorously,
because other people do, struggling to throw off the fetters of
conventionality, burning to distinguish itself in some new and
original way, striking out from the beaten paths,--to repent of it
afterward. For it does not take many years to teach one that the
beaten paths are the safest; and I have often wished that I had had a
tithe of the application and assiduity of "Old Sobriety," as we rapid
youngsters called the Nestor of the class, who plodded on from morn
till dewy eve and far into the night, and quietly carried off the
honors from the brilliant geniuses, who wore flash neckties and shone
at free-and-easys. But what thoughtless college-boy does not prefer
worshipping at the shrine of the fast goddess to treading the straight
and safe paths of propriety? It takes time and one or two private
interviews with a committee of the Faculty to rid him of his delusion.

I have been making these confessions to show that I, too, as well as
the handsome and healthy young lady whose essay furnishes my text,
have had some joys that are vanished and some hopes that are buried.

But I do not therefore find that this world is a dark and dreary
desert. I do not rail at life as a hollow mockery, nor long to lay my
weary head upon the lap of earth. On the contrary, the longer I live
in this world, the better I like it. It is a jolly old world, after
all; and, though Time is an iconoclast and does smash our idols with a
ruthless hand, it is only to purify our vision; and, as the fragments
tumble and the dust settles, we see the true, the beautiful, and the
joyous in life more clearly. I know that life has its disappointments
and crosses; but I think that it is too short for sentimental
lamentation over them. In homely phrase, "There is no use in crying
over spilt milk." If Dame Fortune frowns, laugh her in the face, and,
with a light heart and brave spirit, woo her again, and you will surely
win her smile. I am as fully impressed as any one with the fact that
this world is not our permanent abiding-place; but that is no reason
why we should underrate, abuse, and malign it. There is such a thing
as being too other-worldly. The grand truths and beautiful teachings
of God's gospel do not conflict with the grandeur, the beauty, and the
mystery of God's handiwork, the world; and we can no more afford to
despise and dispense with the one than with the other. And it seems to
me that we cannot better prepare for enjoying the life hereafter than
by a healthy, hearty, rational enjoyment of the one that is here.

Do not, then, O youth, sit down and grow sentimental over your
fancied griefs. Do not waste your time in shedding weak tears over
the fragments of your broken idols. Kick the rubbish aside, and go on
your way, with head erect and heart open to the sweet influences of
this bright and beautiful world, and you cannot fail to find it not a
"Piljin's Projiss of a Wale," but

  "A sunshiny world, full of laughter and leisure."

In worthy action and healthy enjoyment you will find a cure for all
your imaginary woes and all your maudlin fine feelings.

In two little lines lies the clue to an honorable and happy life:--

  "Thou shalt find, by _hearty striving_ only
   And _truly loving_, thou canst truly live."



DR. HUGER'S INTENTION.



DR. HUGER'S INTENTION.

[Illustration]


Dr. Huger was thirty years old when he deliberately resolved to be
in love,--I cannot say "fall in love" of anything so matter-of-fact
and well-considered. He made up his mind that marriage was a good
thing,--that he was old enough to marry,--finally, that he _would_
marry. Then he decided, with equal deliberation, on the qualifications
necessary in the lady, and began to look about him to find her. She
must be a blonde. Above all things else, he must have her gentle and
trustful; and he believed that gentleness and trustfulness inhered in
the blue-eyed, fair-haired type of womanhood. She must be appreciative,
but not strong-minded,--well-bred, with a certain lady-like
perfectness, which could not be criticised, and yet which would always
save her from being conspicuous. Not for the world would he have any
new-fangled woman's-rights notions about her.

You might fancy it would be a somewhat difficult matter for him to
find precisely the realization of this ideal; but here fate befriended
him,--fate, who seemed to have taken Dr. Huger under her especial
charge, and had been very kind to him all his life. He looked out of
his window, after he had come to the resolution heretofore recorded,
and saw Amy Minturn tripping across the village green.

Amy was eighteen,--blonde, blue-eyed, innocent, well-bred, unpresuming,
without ambition, and without originality. She was very lovely in her
own quiet, tea-rose style. Her position was satisfactory; for her
father, Judge Minturn, was a man of mark in Windham, and one of Dr.
Huger's warmest friends. So, having decided that here was an embodiment
of all his "must-haves," the doctor went over that evening to call
at the Minturn mansion. Not that the call in itself was an unusual
occurrence. He went there often; but hitherto his conversation had been
principally directed to the judge, and to-night there was a noticeable
change.

Amy was looking her loveliest, in her diaphanous muslin robes, with
blue ribbons at her throat, and in her soft light hair. Dr. Huger
wondered that he had never before noticed the pearly tints of her
complexion, the deep lustrous blue of her eyes, the dainty, flower-like
grace of her words and ways. He talked to her, and watched the changing
color in her cheeks, and her rippling smiles, until he began to
think the falling in love, to which he had so deliberately addressed
himself, the easiest and pleasantest thing in the world. She had the
prettiest little air of propriety,--half prudish, and half coquettish.
She received his attentions with a shy grace that was irresistibly
tempting.

He went often to Judge Minturn's after that--not _too_ often, for he
did not wish to startle his pretty Amy by attentions too sudden or too
overpowering; and, indeed, there was nothing in the gentle attraction
by which she drew him to hurry him into any insane forgetfulness of his
customary moderation. But he liked and approved her more and more. He
made up his mind to give her a little longer time in which to become
familiar with him, and then to ask her to be his wife.

When he had reached this determination, he was sent for, one August
day, to see a new patient,--a certain Miss Colchester. He was thinking
about Amy as he went along,--laughing at the foolish old notion
concerning the course of true love; for what could run any smoother, he
asked himself, than his had? It seemed to him as simple and pretty as
an idyl,--the "Miller's Daughter" New Englandized.

    "Oh, that I were beside her now!
       Oh, will she answer if I call?
     Oh, would she give me vow for vow,--
       Sweet Amy,--if I told her all?"

he hummed, half unconsciously, as he walked on.

Soon he came in sight of Bock Cottage, the place to which he was going,
and began thereupon to speculate about Miss Colchester. Of course
she was one of the summer boarders of whom Rock Cottage was full.
He wondered whether she were young or old,--whether he should like
her,--whether she would be good pay;--and by this time, he had rung
the bell, and was inquiring for her of the tidy girl who answered his
summons.

He was shown into a little parlor on the first floor, and, pausing a
moment at the door, he looked at his patient. A very beautiful woman,
he said to himself, but just such an one as he did not like. She sat
in a low chair, her back to the window and her face turned toward him.
She wore a simple white-cambric wrapper. Her beauty had no external
adornment whatever. It shone upon him startlingly and unexpectedly, as
if you should open a closet, where you were prepared to find an old
family portrait of some stiff Puritan grandmother, and be confronted,
instead, by one of Murillo's Spanish women, passionate and splendid.
For Miss Colchester was not unlike those Murillo-painted beauties. She
had a clear, dark skin, through which the changeful color glowed as
if her cheeks were transparent; dark, heavily-falling hair; low brow;
great, passionate, slumbrous eyes; proud, straight features. There was
nothing like a New-England woman about her. That was Dr. Huger's first
thought; and she read it, either through some subtle clairvoyant power,
or, a simpler solution, because she knew that every one, who saw her
under these cool skies of the temperate zone, would naturally think
that thought first. Her full, ripe lips parted in a singular smile, as
she said,--

"You are thinking that I am not of the North. You are right. I was born
in New Orleans. I am a Creole of the Creoles. I don't like the people
here. I sent for you because you were German, at least by descent."

"How did you know it?"

It was an abrupt question for a man of the doctor's habitual grave
courtesy; but she seemed to him unique, and it was impossible to
maintain his old equipoise in her presence. She had read his thought
like a witch. Was there something uncanny about her?

"How did I know you were German?" She smiled. "Because your name
suggested the idea, and then I saw you in the street, and your features
indorsed the hint your name had given me."

"I am glad that anything should have made you think of me."

It was one of the conventional platitudes, of which self-complacent
men, like Dr. Huger, keep a stock on hand for their lady friends. Miss
Colchester saw its poverty, and smiled at it, as she answered him,--

"I think of every one with whom I come in contact; and I thought of
you, especially, because I intended from the first, if there were a
good physician here, to consult him."

The doctor looked into her radiant face.

"Is it possible that you are ill?"

He had sat down beside her by this time, and taken her hand. It gave
him a curious sensation as it lay quietly in his. He felt as if there
were more life, more magnetism, in it than in any hand he had ever
touched.

"That _you_ must tell me," she said, quietly. "My heart feels
strangely, sometimes; it beats too rapidly, I think, and sometimes very
irregularly. I have lived too fast,--suffered and enjoyed too keenly.
The poor machine is worn out, perhaps. I look to you to inform me
whether I am in danger."

"I must have my stethoscope. I will go for it. Are you sure you can
bear the truth?"

She smiled,--a cool smile touched with scorn.

"I have not found life so sweet," she said, "that its loss will trouble
me. I only want to know how long I am likely to have in which to do
certain things. If you can tell me, I shall be satisfied."

As Dr. Huger went home, he met Amy. Something in the sight of her
fresh, blonde beauty, with its fulness of life and health, jarred on
his mood. He bowed to her with a preoccupied air, and hurried on. When
he went back to Rock Cottage, Miss Colchester was sitting just as he
had left her. To sit long at a time in one motionless attitude was a
peculiarity of hers. Her manner had always a singular composure, though
her nature was impetuous.

He placed over her heart the instrument he had brought, then listened a
long time to its beating. He dreaded to tell her the story it revealed
to him, and at last made up his mind to evade the responsibility. When
he had come to this conclusion, he raised his head.

"I do not feel willing," he said, "to pronounce an opinion. Let me send
for a medical man who is older, who has had more experience."

She raised her dark eyes, and looked full in his face.

"You are afraid to tell me, after all I said? Will you not believe that
I do not care to live? I shall send for no other physician. I look for
the truth from your lips. You find my heart greatly enlarged?"

"I told you I did not like to trust my own judgment; but that _is_ my
opinion."

"And if you are right I shall be likely to live--how long?"

"Possibly for years. Probably for a few months. There is no help,--I
mean, no cure. If you suffer much pain, that can be eased, perhaps."

Miss Colchester was silent a few moments. Dr. Huger could see no change
in her face, though he watched her closely. The color neither left
her cheeks or deepened in them. He did not see so much as an eyelash
quiver. At last she spoke,--

"You have been truly kind, and I thank you. I believe I am glad of
your tidings. I think I shall stay here in Windham till the last. I
would like one autumn among these grand old woods and hills. I have
nothing to call me away. I can do all which I have to do by letter,
and my most faithful friend on earth is my quadroon maid who is here
with me. She will be my nurse, if I need nursing. And you will be my
physician,--will you not?"

"I will when I can help you. At other times, may I not be your friend,
and as such come to see you as often as I can?"

"Just as often,--the oftener the better," she answered, with that
smile which thrilled him so strangely every time he met it. "I shall
always be glad to see you. Your visits will be a real charity; for,
except Lisette, I am quite solitary."

He understood by her manner that it was time to go, and took his leave.

That night he walked over to Judge Minturn's. Amy was just as pretty as
ever,--just as graceful and gentle and faultless in dress and manner.
Why was it that he could not interest himself in her as heretofore?
Had the salt lost its savor? His judgment endorsed her as it always
had. She was precisely the kind of woman to make a man happy. That
pure blonde beauty, with its tints of pearl and pink, was just what he
wanted, always had wanted. Why was it that he was haunted all the time
by eyes so different from those calm blue orbs of Amy's? He thought
it was because his new patient's case had interested him so much in
a medical point of view. He was tired, and he made it an excuse for
shortening his call.

He went home to sit and smoke and speculate again about Miss
Colchester. He seemed to see her wonderful exotic face through the blue
smoke-wreaths. Her words and ways came back to him. He had discovered
so soon that _she_ was no gentle, yielding creature. She had power
enough to make her conspicuous anywhere--piquant moods and manners
of her own, which a man could find it hard to tame. He was glad,--or
thought he was,--that such office had not fallen to his share,--that
the woman he had resolved to marry was so unlike her; yet he could not
banish the imperious face which haunted his fancy.

The next day found him again at Rock Cottage; but he waited until
afternoon, when all his other visits had been made. It was a warm day;
and Miss Colchester was again in white, but in full fleecy robes, whose
effect was very different from the simple cambric wrapper she had worn
the day before. Ornaments of barbaric gold were in her ears, at her
throat, and manacled her wrists. A single scarlet lily drooped low in
her hair. She looked full of life,--strong, passionate, magnetic life.
Was it possible that he had judged her case aright? Could death come to
spoil this wonderful beauty in its prime?

Their talk was not like that of physician and patient. It touched on
many themes, and she illuminated each one with the quick brilliancy
of her thought. He grew acquainted with her mind in the two hours he
spent with her; but her history,--who she was,--whence she came,--why
she was at Windham,--remained as mysterious as before. Her maid came in
once or twice, and called her "Miss Pauline," and this one item of her
first name was all that he knew about her more than he had discovered
yesterday. He saw her,--a woman utterly different from the gentle,
communicative, impressible, blue-eyed ideal he had always cherished,--a
woman with whom, had she been in her full health, his reason would
have pronounced it madness to fall in love. How much more would
it be madness now, when he knew that she was going straight to her
doom,--that when the summer came again, it would shine upon her grave!
And yet it seemed as if the very hopelessness of any passion for her
made her power over him more fatal.

He went to see her day after day. He did not consciously neglect Amy
Minturn, because he did not think about her at all. She was no more to
him in those days than last year's roses, which had smelled so sweet
to him in their prime. He was absorbed in Pauline Colchester--lived
in her life. She accepted his devotion, simply because she did not
understand it. If she had been in health, she would have known that
this man loved her; but the knowledge of her coming fate must make all
that impossible, she thought. So she accepted his friendship with a
feeling of entire security; and, though she revealed to him no facts of
her material life, admitted him to such close intimacy with her heart
and soul as, under other circumstances, he might never have reached in
a lifetime of acquaintance.

And the nearer he drew to her the more insanely he loved her,--loved
her, though he knew the fate which waited for her, the heart-break he
was preparing for himself.

At last he told her. He had meant to keep his secret until she died,
but in spite of himself it came to his lips.

In September it was,--one of those glorious autumn days when the year
seems at flood-tide, full of a ripe glory, which thrills an imaginative
temperament as does no tender verdure of spring, no bravery of summer.
Pauline Colchester, sensitive to all such influences as few are, was
electrified by it. Dr. Huger had never seen her so radiant, so full
of vitality. It seemed to him impossible that she should die. If he
had her for his own,--if he could make her happy,--could he not guard
her from every shock or excitement, and keep her in such a charmed
atmosphere of peace that the worn-out heart might last for many a year?

It was the idlest of lover's dreams, the emptiest and most baseless of
hopes, which he would have called any other man insane for cherishing.
But he grasped at it eagerly, and, before he knew what he was doing, he
had breathed out his longing at the feet of Miss Colchester.

"Is it possible," she said, after a silent space, "that you could
have loved me so well? That you would have absorbed into your own the
poor remnant of my life, and cherished it to the end? I ought to be
sorry for your sake; but how can I, when just such a love is what I
have starved for all my life? I have no right to it now. I am Mrs.,
not Miss, Colchester. I was Pauline Angereau before Ralph Colchester
found me and married me. I had money and, I suppose, beauty; perhaps
he coveted them both. He made me believe that he loved me with all his
heart; and then, when I was once his wife, he began torturing me to
death with his neglect and his cruelty. He was a bad man; and I don't
believe there is a woman on earth strong enough to have saved him from
himself. I bore everything, for two years, in silence. Then I found
that it was killing me, and, in one of his frequent absences, I came
away to die in peace. When it is all over, Lisette will write to him.
He will have the fortune he longed for, without the encumbrance of
which he tired so soon. You must not see me any more. Bound as I am,
feeling what you feel, there would be sin in our meeting. And yet I
shall die easier for knowing that, once in my life, I have been loved
for myself alone."

Then Dr. Huger rose to go. To-morrow, perhaps he could combat those
scruples of hers; but to-day, there was no more to be said to this
woman whom another man owned. To-morrow, he could tell better how
nearly he could return to the quiet ways of friendship,--whether it
would be possible for him to tend her, brother-like, to the last, as
he had meant to do before he loved her. He took her hand a moment, and
said, in a tone which he tried so hard to make quiet that it almost
sounded cold,--

"I must go now. I dare not stay and talk to you. I will come again
to-morrow."

"Yes, to-morrow."

Her face kindled, as she spoke, with a strange light as of prophecy.
What "to-morrow" meant to her he did not know. He turned away suddenly,
for his heart was sore; and, as he went, he heard her say, speaking
very low and tenderly,--

"God bless you, Francis Huger."

The next day he went again to Rock Cottage. He had fought his battle
and conquered. He thought now that he could stay by her to the end,
and speak no word, look no look, which should wrong her honor or his
own. He asked for her at the door as usual; and they told him she had
paid her bill that morning, and left. She had come, they said, no one
knew from whence; and no one knew where she had gone. She had left no
messages and given no address.

Dr. Huger understood that this was something she had meant to keep
secret from him of all others. Was he never to see her again? When she
had said, "Yes, to-morrow," could she have meant the long to-morrow,
when the night of death should be over? He turned away, making no sign
of disappointment,--his sorrow dumb in his heart; and, as he went, her
voice seemed again to follow him,--

"God bless you, Francis Huger."

For two months afterward, he went the round of his daily duties in
a strange, absent, divided fashion. He neither forgot nor omitted
anything; yet he saw as one who saw not, and heard with a hearing
which conveyed to his inward sense no impression. _She_ was with him
everywhere. All the time, he was living over the brief four weeks of
their acquaintance, in which, it seemed to him, he had suffered and
enjoyed more than in all the rest of his lifetime. Every day, every
hour, he expected some message from her. He felt a sort of conviction
that she would not die until he had seen her again. He thought, at
last, that his summons to her side had come. He opened, one day, a
letter directed in a hand with which he was not familiar. He read in
it, with hurrying pulses, only these words:--

 "Madame Pauline Angereau Colchester is dead. I obey her wish in
  sending you these tidings."

       "LISETTE."

From the letter had dropped, as he unfolded it, a long silky tress
of dark hair. He picked it up, and it seemed to cling caressingly to
his fingers. It was all he could ever have in this world of Pauline
Colchester. Her "to-morrow" had come. His would come, too, by-and-by.
What then? God alone knew whether his soul would ever find hers, when
both should be immortal.

Will he go back again some day to Amy Minturn? Who can tell? Men have
done such things. It will depend on how weary the solitary way shall
seem,--how much he may long for his own fireside. At any rate, he will
never tell her the story of Pauline.



THE MAN WHOSE LIFE WAS SAVED.



THE MAN WHOSE LIFE WAS SAVED.

[Illustration]


I.

On a pleasant, sunshiny afternoon of early summer, Mlle. Lisa sat
knitting in the door-way of a white, shining house, fronting on a
silent, remote street of a garrisoned town of France, not far distant
from Paris. The street was narrow and badly paved with sharp, irregular
stones, sloping gradually down to a point in the centre, which formed
the gutter, and at night was feebly lighted by an oil-lamp suspended
to a rope and stretched across the street at the corners. The general
aspect of the place was not amusing, for the habitations were few
and the passers-by fewer. Long rows of high, white-washed walls, the
boundaries of gentlemen's gardens, garnished with broken glass and
pots of cactus, gave a certain monotony to the Rue Arc en Ciel. The
very blossoms of the fruit-trees and flowering-shrubs behind the
white-washed walls, looked sleepily over their barriers, as they
diffused the contagious languor of their odors along the silent
white street. These drowsy influences, however, seemed in no ways to
diminish the carolling propensities of Mlle. Lisa, or to abate in any
particular the ardor of her knitting.

Lisa Ledru was the daughter of the _proprietaire_ of No. 29,--a worthy
woman who had toiled to sustain herself and an agreeable, sprightly
husband, addicted to no vice save that of contented idleness, through
many long, weary years, and had brought up her only child, Lisa, to
a point of prettiness and usefulness, which compensated for past
sacrifices, and promised well for the future.

Madame Ledru's house had been for years the abode of _militaires_. She
would occasionally condescend to the admission of a bourgeois, but this
infringement of habit and inclination was but a condescension after
all, and left her with a certain sense of degradation, when she exposed
her stair-case, which had creaked so long under the thundering tread
of martial heel and spur, to the mild, apologetic footstep of a man of
peace. Mme. Ledru's principles were well-known and properly appreciated
by the regiments in garrison, and her house never lacked inmates. Her
reputation for discretion and adroitness, in bringing order out of the
chaotic love affairs which perpetually entangled the impetuous sons
of Mars, was established on the firmest basis. No lodger was ever "at
home" to an importunate creditor, so long as madame's ample person
could bar the passage to their entrance, and no _tête-à-tête_ of a
tender nature was ever interrupted by the untimely appearance of a
cherished mother or aunt, or, still worse, the jealous intrusion of a
rival queen.

The court-yard of Mme. Ledru's house presented a far more lively
appearance than the street in which it stood. In the centre of
the court stood a large, umbrageous tree, drooping over a stone
watering-trough, which gave drink to the numerous horses in the
stable-yard as well as to the chickens and barn-yard fowls, who
cackled and prowled about in its vicinity, as they picked up their
precarious living. At times their foraging-ground would be enriched
by a shower of crumbs from a friendly window above, and rumor
asserted that the gallant Colonel Victor de Villeport, hero of many
campaigns, with the prestige of a wound or two, and a compensating
glitter of decorations, had so far abandoned himself to the pastime
of chicken-feeding as to invent new methods of beguiling the monotony
of the entertainment,--such as tying morsels of bread to a string
and dancing it distractedly before the eyes of stupid clucking hens,
until experience had taught them in a measure how to cope with this
unexpected phase of their trying existence. The stable-yard, extending
to the left of the court, was gay with the bright military caps of
orderlies, who sang snatches of vaudeville airs, as they rubbed down
their masters' steeds, and polished up their sabres and buckles.

But to return to Mlle. Lisa, who sat knitting and singing in the Porte
Cochère of No. 29, on a warm summer afternoon. Her joyous refrain
ceased, for a moment, as she heard the little gate opposite to the
house, belonging to the Countess d'Hivry's garden, creak on its
hinges, and the next instant saw protruding the round, red head of
François, the gardener. This apparition, though not itself enchanting,
gave Mlle. Lisa, on this occasion, the liveliest satisfaction.

"Good-morning, Monsieur François," she said, with a beaming smile, as
she glanced furtively at the bouquet of flowers which was in his hand.
However dull might be the instincts of François in many things, they
were keen enough where Lisa was concerned; and, recognizing at once the
advantages of the situation, he advanced with a profusion of bows, and
a grin of ecstasy, to deposit his tribute of flowers at the feet of his
_adorata_.

"What beautiful taste you have in flowers, Monsieur François," said
Lisa, with a perceptible elevation of voice, and with a sidelong glance
at the stone trough in the court-yard, whereat Ulysse, the orderly
of Colonel de Villefort, was watering his master's horse. "Mme. la
Contesse d'Hivry says that she could never give a dinner-party without
you to arrange flowers for the Jardinières, and to furnish all that
lovely fruit for dessert, which you grow in the glass-houses."

"As to that," replied François, drawing himself up, and assuming an
attitude of professional dignity, which had momentarily yielded to the
all-absorbing power of Lisa's presence, "as to that, mademoiselle, I
can say, without boasting, that the yellow roses and tulips of the
Jardin du Roi would never be known for tulips and roses alongside of
mine; though for red and white roses I will not say so much, and the
pears--

"O mademoiselle! how lovely you are with those flowers in your hair!"
cried out the enamored gardener, once more forgetful of his life-long
enthusiasm, the pears and roses, and only mindful of the unexpected
form of female seduction offered to his distracted gaze. "I never knew
that roses could be so beautiful," he added, with a genuineness which
would have touched any being less merciless than a girl of eighteen,
bent on piquing a more indifferent admirer into something like jealousy.

"It is your roses," said Lisa, laughing, "that make me, what you call
lovely. I don't make the roses. But what have you peeping out of
your pocket?" she inquired, fearing that the conversation was about
to assume a more tender character than she desired; "a note I should
think"--

"Ah, yes! I had forgotten," said poor François, with a sigh over his
own hopeless perturbation. "It is from Mme. la Contesse to the Colonel
de Villefort, and it was to be given without delay."

"Ulysse, Ulysse," cried Lisa, gladly availing herself of this welcome
diversion, "here is a note for you."

"Do you not see, mademoiselle," said Ulysse, pettishly, not entirely
pleased with François and his flowers, "do you not see that I am
watering the colonel's horse? I should think, too, that the bearer of a
note might deliver it himself."

François, with a soothing sense of present preferment, was about to
make a good-natured reply, when the colloquy was terminated by a
sonorous voice from an upper window shouting, "Ulysse!"

"_Mon colonel._"

"Saddle one of my horses immediately."

"Impossible to use either to-day, _mon colonel_; one limps, and I have
taken Mars to the blacksmith's, for he cast a shoe this morning."

"_Sapeisti!_ What am I to ride then? There is the horse of Monsieur le
Baron always at our service. He is a nasty, stumbling thing, but if it
is very pressing"--

Victor de Villefort looked irresolutely out of the window, and
twirled his blonde mustache. He was a man between thirty and forty
perhaps, _distingué_ in manner and bearing, and gifted with a charming
sympathetic voice.

"Here is a note for you, _mon colonel_," said Lisa, glancing
reproachfully at Ulysse, as she tripped lightly across the court-yard,
and passing the corridor of red brick, mounted two flights of narrow
wooden stairs to the colonel's room.

"Thank you, mademoiselle," said Victor, courteously, as he took the
note. "Ulysse shall stay with me always if you say so. Do the roses
worn so gracefully on the left side of the head, indicate consent?"

"I wear the roses for the sake of François, the gardener of Madame la
Contesse d'Hivry, who brings them to me."

"Ah! I am always allowing myself to be taken by surprise, Lisa," said
Victor, opening his note and glancing over its contents. "I never keep
pace with fickleness."

"But is it fickleness, _mon colonel_, to like what belongs to the
Contesse d'Hivry?" inquired Lisa, lowering her eyes with assumed
_naïveté_.

"For you, yes. I should say that it was. But I dare say, with your
little malicious airs, mademoiselle, you mean more than that. But I
advise you to wear roses on the right side for Ulysse, and then tell
him that he must never leave me; and he shall not, I give you my word,"
said Victor, gayly, taking up his hat and gloves and moving to the
door. "What a lucky thing," he continued to himself as he descended
the stair-case, "that the charming countess only asks for a pedestrian
cavalier! If she had asked for a mounted escort, I should have been
forced to have recourse to this tiresome baron here," and Victor
brushed lightly against the door of a fellow-lodger, "to have used his
stumbling horse, and then to have been bored for the rest of my life,
or of his life, about helping him to the cross of the Legion of Honor."

The baron in question was a retired _militaire_, who, inspired with an
insatiable thirst for fame, was writing a military history of France.
His chief claims to notice appeared to be the possession of a stumbling
horse, and an overwhelming greed of decorations.

As Victor mused over the consequences of an incautious acceptance of
the baron's steed, and over the base intrigues in which a pursuit of
the coveted cross might involve him, his brow darkened, and his step
grew heavier.


II.

The drawing-room of the Contesse d'Hivry was a comfortable,
social-looking apartment, though with too great abandon in the matter
of furniture and decorations, to claim to be a model of any particular
epoch. The well-polished floors and numerous mirrors reflected back
the sun's rays, which sometimes penetrated through the fragrant
vines shading the windows. Bright oriental rugs were at the feet of
yellow damask ottomans, and the etagères and tables were covered with
rare bronzes, costly bits of porcelain, alabaster, and goblets of
crystal. But the appointments of the room seemed never so complete as
when the countess herself was seated in the embrasure of one of the
windows, as she was on this occasion, working at her embroidery or her
aquarelles. Mathilde d'Hivry enjoyed the deserved reputation of being
irresistibly charming. She was nothing in excess. She was not very
young, nor very rich, nor very handsome, nor very clever. But she was
exactly what every one desired that she should be at the moment. No
one could precisely define why they left her presence in a complacent
mood and in a friendly attitude towards the whole human race. Such
being the case, however, her society was naturally sought for, and
reluctantly abandoned. As the countess sat this afternoon, listlessly
and idly before her aquarelles, quite disinclined for work, and
leaning her little head with its great coils of black braids wearily
on her hands, her eyes rested mechanically on a miniature likeness
near her. The miniature was that of a young man, well-featured,
well dressed, well _frisé_, and well-painted. Under the sober tint
of the beard and hair was the suggestion of a more fiery hue,--the
red of the ancient Gaul,--just as in the mild brown eyes lurked the
possibility of a flash of "_furia Francese_," the savage ferocity which
centuries of civilization and good manners have only smothered in the
modern Frenchman, and which shows itself any day in the blouses, as
it might in the time of Charlemagne, in spite of their surroundings
of millinery, cookery, hair-dressing, and the art of dancing. These
reflections, however, were not in the least the source of Mathilde's
preoccupation. After a prolonged contemplation of the young gentleman's
miniature, she exclaimed petulantly, "Why should my aunt and uncle
urge me to marry again, especially Armand?" always regarding the brown
eyes of the miniature. "He looks mild enough there on ivory. But I can
imagine him clothed with the authority of a husband, making scenes of
jealousy, interfering, dictating, and being quite insupportable. I like
him too well to expose him to such temptations. We are much better
as we are. There is De Villefort. He is more solid, and more simple
in character, but terribly in earnest, I should say. And they say he
will never marry. Some disappointment in the past, or some hope for
the future will keep him as he is,--so they say, at least;" and she
fell into another revery, which was finally interrupted by a servant
announcing the Colonel de Villefort.

"Oh! I am so glad that you could come to-day," said the countess,
resuming her wonted gayety. "Do you share my wish for a stroll in the
park this afternoon, whilst the band is playing?"

"I always share your wishes, dear countess, and am too happy when I may
share your pleasures."

"That is almost a compliment, I should say, and you think yourself
incapable of paying one. Why do you never pay compliments?"

"I will tell you, if you will, in return, tell me why the portrait of
Monsieur Armand is always so near your favorite seat."

"The reason is, I suppose," said the countess, laughing, "that I am so
used to it, that I am quite unconscious whether it is there or not."

"Then I will tell you why I rarely pay you compliments,--because I like
you too well."

"So you can only compliment those whom you dislike?"

"On the contrary, those to whom I am indifferent."

"But Colonel de Villefort," exclaimed the countess, gravely tying on
her white bonnet before the mirror and observing, with satisfaction,
that the soft white lace brought out the lustre of her rich hair and
her clear gray eyes, "do you know that public opinion decides that you
will never marry?"

"Public opinion, perhaps, is wise enough to decide, because I never
have married, that I never shall," replied De Villefort, offering his
arm to the countess as they passed through the door.

"There is certainly a reason for such a supposition in your case,--for
you have had inducements to marry." The colonel was grave and
thoughtful, and, for a few moments, they walked on in silence until the
sound of music roused him from a revery which Mathilde cared not to
disturb. "We are in the park now," he said, at last, "and almost in the
midst of 'public opinion,'" he added laughing; "but, after the music,
if you are not too tired for a stroll in the Jardin du Roi, I will tell
you some incidents of my early life, and you shall judge whether I can
marry."

"Oh! thank you," said the countess, eagerly and gratefully, more with
her eyes than her voice, for the latter was quite lost in a blast of
Roland à Roncevaux from the trumpets of one of the imperial bands.
The afternoon being warm, the band was ranged in a circle under the
protecting shade of the great, careless old trees; but the sun's rays
penetrated here and there through their branches, throwing a golden
light on the curls of rosy children frolicking on the green grass,
casting an aureole of glory around the heads of gray-haired old men,
and glittering in the epaulets of flighty young officers. There were
knots of people grouped about in every direction,--French girls,
by the side of their chaperons, immersed in needle-work; imperious
English misses staring haughtily at the officers; ladies of opulent
financial circles, in striking toilets of the last mode, fresh from
Paris, and a few relics of the "_Ancienne Noblesse_," plainly attired,
and looking curiously and, perhaps, disdainfully from their small
exclusive _coterie_, at all this bourgeois splendor. Old women with
weather-beaten, parchment faces, under neat frilled caps, were possibly
retrieving, in their old age, the errors of a stormy youth, by carrying
on the "_Service des chaises_." Others were plying a brisk trade among
the children by the sale of cakes, plaisirs, and parlor balloons.

Joining a group of acquaintances, Victor fastidiously placed Mathilde's
chair in a position sheltered from inconvenient sunlight, in proper
proximity to the music, and where no dust could tarnish the hem of
her floating immaculate robe. In these commonplace "_petits soins_,"
common enough in the life of any woman of society, Mathilde recognized
a spirit of sincere devotion and protecting affection, which gave
her, at the same time, a thrill of joy, and an undefined sense of
apprehension and lingering regret. The Contesse d'Hivry passed, in the
world's estimation, as a model of happiness, and, in one sense, she
was happy. Gifted with health, a kindly, joyous nature, a due share of
worldly advantages, and an easy philosophy which enabled her to accept
cheerfully all daily cares and petty vexations, she was to be envied.
But she had, as we all have, her own particular demon, who was fond
of drawing aside a dark, impenetrable curtain, and showing her, in a
vision of exceeding loveliness, the might-have-beens, and the might-be,
of this deceptive life, and just as she would rush forward to seize on
these delicious illusions, they would straightway vanish, leaving her
to stare once more hopelessly at the same dark, impenetrable curtain.
As the countess looked out beyond the great trees at the velvet sward
of the Tapis Vert, at the orange-shrubs in their green boxes, at the
rows of antique statues on their solitary perches, leading to the great
fountain, and then the broad massive steps leading at last to the
distant château, she wondered whether the little demon of "_le grand
Monarque_," who had cooked in his majesty's behalf so many pleasant
scenes, had ever the audacity to drop, unbidden, the dark curtain
before his royal eyes. Whatever had been done, or left undone, in the
case of "_le grand Monarque_," the demon had conjured up spectacles for
some of his successors, which had not been so pleasant. It had not been
the fate of all to look from their bed of state, with dying eyes, on
the finer alleys, the shining lake, and the peaceful grandeur of the
royal grounds. The curtain had been drawn once for a sleeping queen,
and had revealed so dreadful a picture, that she had fled from her bed
at midnight to escape it. The demon, wearied with the eternal scene of
the marquis and marquise, in powder and high heels, bowing and mincing
before their Great King, had chosen to vary his pleasures by calling up
the old forgotten Gaul, with his red beard and his ferocious eye, to
storm and rage at the château gates.

Mathilde had wandered so far away with her demon and his pictures, that
she was astonished, in turning her eyes, to find Victor gazing at her
with a look of troubled inquiry. The music had changed its character,
and the triumphal strains of Roland à Roncevaux had given place to a
plaintive melody of the Favorita, and Mathilde, glad to know her secret
thoughts thus interrogated by Victor, threw them aside and became once
more the gay and talkative Contesse d'Hivry.

"How gay you are now," said Victor, addressing the countess, just
as the last strains of the Favorita had died away, "when I am quite
the reverse. I never can listen to that duo without feeling its
meaning,--from association, perhaps; for it is connected with a happy
and still painful part of my life. Shall we walk now?" said Victor, as
the countess made her adieus to her friends, and, taking his arm, they
sauntered away to the Jardin du Roi.

"You sang that duo once," said Mathilde, half-inquiringly, "and I know
more than you think of your past life, for I will tell you with whom?"

"You knew her, then?" asked Victor.

"Yes, I knew Pauline D'Arblay, slightly, but I have never seen her
since her marriage, as Pauline Dusantoy."

"She is quite unchanged, at least she was when I last saw her, some
years ago, and I think that she can never change," said Victor,
enthusiastically. "She must always be beautiful, as she is good, and
her native purity, I believe, must always resist the attacks of the
world, and leave her unscathed from contamination."

"Where is she now?" asked the countess, after a few moments of silence;
for in proportion to the warmth evinced by Victor in recalling these
memories of the past, his companion was chilled into quiet reflections.

"In Algiers, I suppose," replied Victor, "where her husband, General
Dusantoy, has been for years past."

"My enthusiasm for Pauline is only surpassed by my affection and
reverence for her husband. I have known Dusantoy and have loved him
from my earliest childhood, and have received from him more proofs of
undeviating friendship and unwearied devotion than I can ever repay.
He has saved my life, too, though he unwittingly took from me, what
I believed at that time to be all that made life desirable," said
Victor sadly, as they approached the palings of the Jardin Du Roi,
through which the red and yellow roses and peonies, confident in their
gorgeousness, were nodding their heads insolently at the _gens d'arme_,
who paced listlessly before the gate. The verbenas and pansies, equally
brilliant but less flaunting, were dotted about in compact groups in
the parterres and on the lawn. The statue, surmounting the column in
the centre of the lawn, blackened and defaced by the wear and tear of
years, looked down grimly from its pedestal, as if to impose silence
on all beneath. So that the jardin, in its absolute repose, found
little favor in the eyes of children and nurses, who respectively chose
for their gambols and their flirtations some more joyous and expansive
locality. Its sole occupants on this occasion were an elderly priest,
too much absorbed in his breviary to be conscious of the rustling of
Mathilde's dress as she passed him, together with a pensive soldier,
who possibly sought diversion from the pangs of unrequited affection
by tracing with a penknife, on the stone bench which he occupied, an
accurate outline of his sword.

"You knew Pauline d'Arblay as a child," said the countess to Victor, as
they seated themselves on a bench at the extremity of the lawn.

"Yes, we were brought up together,--that is, our families were very
intimate. She was the only child of her parents, and I was the youngest
of a large family; but as my brothers and sisters were much older than
myself, and Pauline was nearer my age, we were always together, and,
until I was sent to college, she was my constant playmate."

"You must regard her as a sister, then," said Mathilde. "Remembrances
of childish intimacy and souvenirs of soiled pinafores and soiled
faces, I should think, would always be destructive of romance."

"It might be so, if the transformation of later years did not suggest
other sentiments,--sentiments which, unhappily for us, were only
understood when too late for our mutual happiness. I had scarcely seen
Pauline since our days of hide-and-seek in the château grounds, until
I finished my course at St. Cyr, and returned a sub-lieutenant, to
find that Pauline, the child of the pinafore, as you say, had expanded
into a lovely and lovable girl. At that age, however, I believe that
few can experience a serious passion. Curiosity and inexperience of
life prevent concentration on any one object, and make us incapable of
estimating things at their proper value. At college, too, I had formed
a romantic friendship for one of my classmates,--Dusantoy,--and the
ardor of this sentiment occupied me entirely, to the exclusion of all
others. Dusantoy had a rich uncle, who had purchased a large estate in
the vicinity of our châteaux. He came to visit his uncle, but passed
his time naturally with me. Pauline shared our walks and our drives.
We read to her as she embroidered or sewed, and she sang to us in the
summer twilight. We were very gay and _insouciant_ in those days,
little dreaming that our innocent affection would give place to a mad
passion, that would one day separate us eternally, and fill our lives
with unsatisfied longings. It was not until some time after, that a
winter passed by us both in the gay world of Paris revealed to me the
nature of my love for Pauline. A jealous fear took possession of me.
Seeing her the object of universal homage and admiration induced me
to declare my love. She had already discarded wealthy and brilliant
suitors; and for my sake. But, alas! I was the cadet of the family,
with only a good name, my sword, _et voila tout_! Pauline's mamma was
more prudent than her daughter and myself. Circumstances favored her,
and separated us. I was ordered to Africa, and Pauline returned to
the château; but we parted hopefully and confidently, vowing eternal
constancy. When we next met, she was the wife of another man, and that
man was my best friend, Dusantoy."

"_Mon pauvre ami_," said Mathilde, almost inaudibly, and her hand
unconsciously rested on his. He pressed it to his lips, and they were
both silent. Victor's wound was deep as ever; but the poignancy of
such a grief is already much diminished when the consoling voice of
another woman and the pressure of her hand can soothe for an instant
the anguish of the past.

"You know, dear Mathilde," continued Victor, "the history of
Pauline's misfortunes,--the sudden death of her parents, her father's
embarrassments and insolvency, and how on his death-bed he implored
his only child to save the honor of his name by accepting the hand
of a man in every way worthy of her, and who, at his uncle's recent
death, had come into possession of an immense fortune, a portion of a
Conte d'Arblay's forfeited estate. I was in Africa when the news came
to me that Pauline was affianced to Dusantoy. But I heard it without
a murmur; for I heard it from Dusantoy's own lips. He had been sent
to Algiers on an important mission, and came to confide in me in all
the rapture and ecstasy of his love. Nothing makes one so selfish
and inconsiderate as an absorbing happiness. Besides, poor Dusantoy
believed my love for Pauline to be purely fraternal. In my grief and
despair, I believed once that I must tell him that he was robbing me
of my sole treasure and hope in life; but, fortunately for him,--for
us both, perhaps, for I should never have ceased to repent such an
act of cowardice,--I was seized with brain fever, and for some time
my life was despaired of. Meanwhile, Dusantoy, with characteristic
devotion, postponed his return to France and to Pauline, that he might
watch over me; and to his untiring assiduity and unceasing care I
undoubtedly owe my recovery. But that is not all. Another accident
befell me, which would unquestionably have proved fatal to my existence
had not the skill and courage of Dusantoy again interposed to save me.
At the beginning of my convalescence, when I was first able to walk a
few steps in the open air, I was one day pacing the court-yard of the
house where I lodged, when a low, suppressed roar struck my ear, and
turning my head, I saw that a large lion had entered the open door-way,
and was standing within a few paces of me. My first emotion was not
that of terror,--not the same which I see on your face at this moment,
_chère contesse_" said Victor, laughing; "for I recognized the animal
as a tame, well-conducted lion belonging to a gentleman living in the
outskirts of the city, and was about to approach him, when the sight of
blood trickling from a wound in his side, and the menacing look of his
eye, warned me to retreat. Escape by the outer door was impossible, as
well as entrance to the house, for the lion barred the passage which
led to both doors; but I thought of a gate leading to a side street,
which was now my only means of flight. With feeble, tottering steps
I had gained this point, and in another instant should have made my
escape; but, by a singular fatality, the gate was bolted. I had neither
strength to force it nor agility to scale the wall. The lion, irritated
by his wound, and excited, as I found afterwards, by previous pursuit,
followed me with another ominous roar and a look of hostility far from
encouraging to one in my position.

"Of all that followed I have but a confused idea. I was weak and
ill,--my brain reeled; but I remember that, as the lion was about to
spring, a violent blow made him turn with a snarl of rage, and spring
towards a new adversary,--Dusantoy,--who stood, gun in hand, in the
centre of the court-yard. Then the report of a fire-arm, and I can
recall nothing further. Dusantoy was an admirable shot, took cool aim,
and hit the lion in the heart. Pauline and I fancied that we felt the
recoil of the weapon in our own hearts for many a long day afterwards.
But perhaps it was mere fancy," said Victor, lightly, as he watched the
cheek of the countess growing paler as he spoke.

"To end my long story," continued Victor, "after these experiences I
took a voyage to reëstablish my health; and, when I returned, I spent
a week in the same house with General Dusantoy and his wife. It was
heroic on my part; but I could stay no longer, and I have never seen
them since. And now you understand, _chère contesse_, why I have never
married."

"I understand for the past? Yes," said Mathilde, rising from her seat;
"but the future"--her sentence terminated in a shrug.

The last rays of sunlight were gilding the head of the statue on the
lawn; the priest had closed his book, and, with the swift, noiseless
tread of his order, had glided from the garden; the melancholy soldier
had girded his sword about him, after leaving its dimensions gracefully
reproduced on the bench where he sat, and had followed the priest; the
evening air was damp and chill, and Victor drew Mathilde's shawl around
her with tender care.

"You are tired, dear Mathilde," said Victor. "You are pale; I have
wearied you with my long stories, _Appuyez vous bien sur moi_," and he
drew her arm through his, as they turned their steps homeward.

"You have made me so happy to-day!" said Victor, as they approached
the house of the countess. "Will you give me some souvenir of this
afternoon,--the ribbon that you wear?"

"We will make an exchange then," said Mathilde, laughingly, as she
handed the ribbon. "I will give a ribbon for the flowers in your
button-hole; and we will see who is most true to their colors."

A passionate pressure of the hand and a lingering kiss on Mathilde's
primrose gloves were the only reply, and they parted. The delicate odor
of the primrose gloves lingered with Victor, as he sauntered homeward
in the dim twilight. The earnest, almost appealing, look of Mathilde,
as he parted from her, haunted him.

"Could I ever forget and be happy?" he asked of himself. The very idea
seemed to him an unpardonable infidelity,--a culpable forgetfulness of
past memories, which lowered him in his own estimation. At the corner
of the Rue Arc en Ciel he encountered Mlle. Lisa, hanging contentedly
on the arm of Ulysse. Poor François and his flowers were forgotten at
that moment, and Lisa had abandoned herself to the delights of allaying
a jealousy successfully roused in the heart of the gallant Ulysse by
her recent tactics.

"_Mon colonel_," said Ulysse, "a lady has called twice to see you in
your absence. The last time she waited a long while in your room, and
finally left a note, which she said was important and must be handed to
you at once."

"A lady! Who can it be? My venerable maiden aunt, I suppose," said
Victor, shrugging his shoulders, "who has lost her vicious, snarling
poodle,--a wretched brute that always bites my legs, when I dare to
venture them in my aunt's snuff-colored saloon, and that I am expected
to find for her now, by virtue of my name of Villefort."

"The lady is young, handsome, and in widow's weeds," said Ulysse, half
in reply to his colonel's muttered soliloquy, as he ran before him and
vanished into the court-yard of No. 29, in search of the note.

The twilight deepened and thickened on the silent little street. The
oil lamp, hanging from the rope at the corner, was lighted, but its
feeble rays only penetrated a short distance, leaving the rest wrapt
in mystery and gloom, and the gate opening from the Contesse d'Hivry's
garden, François' portal of happiness, through which he passed into the
blissful presence of his Lisa, was scarcely discernible. The evening
was clear and fine, however, the stars were beginning to glimmer in the
sky, and a faint band of light in the east was growing every moment
into glistening silver, under the rays of the coming moon.

After parting with Victor, Mathilde entered the _salon_, and, throwing
herself languidly into a chair, recalled with feminine minuteness the
events and conversation of the afternoon, until oppressed with the
light and warmth of the house, she sought refuge in the cool air of the
_balcon_, and, leaning on the balustrade, looked dreamily through the
honeysuckle vines at the parterres and lawn beyond. The meditations of
the countess, however, were not exclusively romantic, in spite of the
languid grace of her attitude, and the poetic abstraction of her gaze.
She was fortifying herself against an attack of imprudent tenderness,
by sternly picturing to herself all the practical disadvantages of
a marriage of inclination. Could she incur the lasting displeasure
of her aunt and uncle by marrying any one save her cousin Armand?
Could she sacrifice the half of her fortune, which was the penalty of
such a caprice of the heart, and sink into comparative poverty? The
souvenir of a single phrase, however, in the tender inflection of a
manly voice,--"_Appuyez vous bien sur moi_," was ever present to her
memory quickening the beatings of her heart, and bringing the warm
blood to her cheeks. The moon had risen, pouring a flood of silver
light over François' roses, and the pots of cactus on the garden-wall.
The countess strolled into the garden, and, fancying that she heard a
whispered conversation proceeding from the little gate leading into the
Rue Arc en Ciel, she turned her footsteps in that direction.

"Is that you, Lisa?" asked the countess, rightly suspecting that the
muslin dress, fluttering in the moonlight, could belong to none other
than the daughter of the worthy Mme. Ledru, and that she was about to
surprise a _tête-à-tête_ between the coquettish Lisa, and her gardener,
the enamored François.

"Yes, madame," said Lisa, "can I be of any service?"

The countess shared poor François' partiality for Lisa. Her bright
eyes and shining hair were pleasant to look at, and her quick wit
and cheerful voice made her a nice companion, and then she enjoyed
the inestimable privilege of living in the same house with Victor de
Villefort. Perhaps some bit of intelligence concerning him would escape
her,--whatever it might be, Mathilde knew that it would be of thrilling
interest to her. If there was to be a morning-parade the following
day, Mathilde would go to the _Terrain de Manoeuvre_, to see her hero
"_en grande tenue_," in the staff of the General.

"What a beautiful moonlight, Lisa! Will you walk with me towards the
lake? Fetch my shawl first from the house."

"Here it is, madame," said Lisa, quite breathless, as she returned with
the shawl, and wrapped it around Mathilde. François unbarred the gate
and they stepped into the street.

"I should like to know, madame, what has befallen the Colonel de
Villefort this evening," said Lisa, divining with tact the role she was
destined to play.

"What has happened?" asked Mathilde, with ill-feigned unconcern.

"We cannot imagine, madame. But this afternoon, during the absence of
Colonel de Villefort, a lady in deep mourning, young and handsome,
called to see him. Finding that he was not at home, she left a note
for him, and when the colonel read it, he was wild with excitement,
and called to Ulysse for his horse. The horse was lame, and not fit
for use, and the colonel swore, for the first time, I think since he
has been in our house. That is saying a great deal for a _militaire_,
madame. Ulysse has never seen the lady before. The colonel never
receives any lady but his aunt the Marquise de Villefort, and that is
also saying a great deal for a _militaire_,--is it not, madame?"

"Well, did he get a horse?" asked Mathilde, with a severity which
astonished Lisa, in the unconsciousness of her childish babble.

"Yes, madame; there is the horse of a queer baron, who lives with us,
who often puts his horse at the disposal of Monsieur le Colonel. The
horse stumbles too, but the colonel mounted him and rode off in furious
haste."

"Who can she be?" asked the countess with an anxiety impossible to
repress. "Did he take this direction when he rode away?"

"Yes, madame, he rode toward the lake. But take care, take care,
madame!" shrieked Lisa, as the furious clatter of a horse's hoofs on
the pavement warned her of danger. They had barely time to take refuge
in an open door-way, before a riderless horse dashed past them.

"'Tis the baron's horse,--and the colonel, madame. _Mon Dieu! Mon
Dieu!_ What has become of him? Let me run for Ulysse."

"And I will go on to the lake," said the countess; "perhaps."

"Not alone, madame," exclaimed Lisa.

But the countess had already disappeared under the shadow of the
houses, and Lisa, equally fleet of foot, vanished in the opposite
direction, in search of Ulysse. Mathilde hurried on,--whither she knew
not. A blind instinct stronger than reason warned her that delay would
be fatal, and that the life, grown to be so precious in her eyes, was
awaiting her coming, flickering and failing, perhaps, as it hovered
near death, which was for her to avert. She redoubled her pace, and
flew through the silent street, where she had passed but a few hours
before leaning on Victor's arm. She saw the lake before her, calm and
silvery. There was a hill to descend, and at the foot, by the side of
the lake, was a loose pile of stones. She sprang forward to pick up
something in the road. It was a riding-whip which she knew well and had
handled a hundred times. For an instant she was motionless, her head
swam, and her eyes closed to shut out the sight of a prostrate form,
lying at her feet so still and calm in the white moonlight. She knew
that, too. She knew well the blonde hair stained with blood, trickling
from a wound near the temple; and with a wild cry for help, Mathilde
raised the head, half-buried in mud and water, and gazed despairingly
at the closed eyes and rigid features of Victor de Villefort.


III.

The autumn days had come again, and the sun shone on heaps of dried
brown leaves, which went whirling about in the Rue Arc en Ciel, with
every gust of wind. Mlle. Lisa was in her accustomed seat in the
door-way, No. 29, with shining hair and rosy cheeks, absorbed in the
customary knitting, but still capable of casting sly glances in the
direction whence François or Ulysse might finally appear. She was not
fated to languish long in solitude, for the faithful François, never
sufficiently confident of his personal attractions to present himself
empty-handed before the object of his admiration, was soon standing by
her side, fortified with a propitiatory offering of grapes.

"O François," exclaimed Lisa, "how glad I am to see you! Has Mme. la
Contesse really gone?"

"Yes, she has gone," replied François. "Monsieur Armand and the aunt of
madame have accompanied her. But you should have seen her pale face,
all covered with tears. It would have made you weep, too, Mlle. Lisa,
for it made me. Just think, mademoiselle, she never once tasted of the
grapes that I picked for her this morning, and placed so neatly in a
little basket."

And poor François groaned audibly over this conclusive proof of the
countess's changed and melancholy condition.

"Ah, poor madame, she has been so ill! But why did she go, then?" asked
Lisa.

"Monsieur Armand and her aunt told her that she would never get well
here, and that she needed change of air, and so they hurried her
away,--only giving her time to write a few lines to your colonel, whose
life is not worth saving, if he cannot love Mme. la Contesse. Here is
the packet for Colonel de Villefort."

"Yes, it was very brave and good of madame," said Lisa, "to find
the colonel, and to pull his head out of the water. He must have
suffocated, so says the doctor, if madame had not found him when
she did. But there is some mystery about the handsome lady in deep
mourning. I know who she is. She is the widow of General Dusantoy, who
lately died in Algiers; and she came every day to inquire for Colonel
de Villefort, when he was not expected to live; but since he is better,
I have seen no more of her."

"Well, I will say again," said François, "that if your colonel finds
the lady handsomer and better than Mme. la Contesse, then madame had
better left his head in the water."

Whilst Victor and his affairs were thus discussed below-stairs with
the intelligence and fairness usually developed in such discussions,
he sat in his room above, pale and thin, the shadow of his former
self,--twisting his blonde mustache, and gazing moodily through the
window at distant hills, all brown and yellow with autumn leaves
and autumn sunlight. His meditations were far from cheerful. People
were perpetually saving his life. Here was a new dilemma: Pauline
free once more,--free and true to her early love. Happiness once
more in his grasp; but Mathilde--was not his honor half-engaged, as
were his feelings a few weeks since? Could he so readily forget all
that had passed between them, and all that he owed her? Could he
repay the debt of his life by vapid excuses or by cold desertion? He
gazed mechanically at colored prints of Abelard and Heloise, hanging
side by side on the wall, and hoped that inspiration, or at least
consolation, might descend on him from these victims of unhappy
passion. But in Abelard's face he looked in vain for anything beyond
conceited pedantry, and Heloise was too much absorbed in her own mighty
resignation to trouble herself concerning the woes of others. A tap at
the door roused him at last from this unprofitable contemplation, and
in reply to his "_entrez_," the bright face of Mlle. Lisa appeared at
the open door.

"_Bon jour_, monsieur; here is a letter from Mme. la Contesse d'Hivry,
who has gone this morning with her aunt and Monsieur Armand," and Lisa
paused to notice the effect of her abrupt announcement.

"Gone!" said Victor, with unfeigned astonishment. "Where has she gone?"

But Lisa observed that the hand of the colonel, as he opened the
packet, was, in spite of recent illness, ominously steady, and that the
surprise naturally occasioned by the news of the countess's departure
was quite unmingled with the grief and despair which mademoiselle had
kindly hoped to evoke. If she had dared, however, to remain until the
opening of the packet, her curiosity and interest would have been
rewarded by observing Victor's start of pained surprise as a faded
flower fell from the open letter, and his sigh of genuine regret as
the memory of the last happy day passed with Mathilde d'Hivry came to
him in full force, effacing, for the moment, all trace of his recent
reflections, and investing the image of Mathilde with all the poetical
charm of an unattainable dream of happiness. She was no longer an
obstacle in the fulfilment of his life-long hopes,--hopes persistently
cherished, yet cruelly baffled. He looked wistfully at the faded
flower as he crushed it in his hand, and recalled their last parting,
and though the souvenirs of the day--the flower from his button-hole,
and the ribbon which she had worn--had been lightly exchanged and
laughingly given, he knew well that the worthless relic, which he now
crumbled into dust and threw from the window, would have been tenderly
kept and treasured in good faith, had his destiny so willed it. Victor
turned sadly to the letter which lay before him, in Mathilde's delicate
writing. It began cheerfully enough, however, as her letters were wont
to do.

"I cannot leave you, dear Victor, without a word of parting, and I fear
that a personal interview between invalids, like ourselves, might not
conduce to our mutual recovery. In my own case, absolute change of air
and scene are ordered, together with perfect quiet and rest. The one is
easily gained by going to Italy; but do we ever attain the other? or
would we attain it, if we could? When we next meet, for we must meet
some day, _mon ami_, we shall know, by looking in each other's eyes,
how obedient we have been to our physician's advice, and how great
has been its efficacy. The climate of Paris will heal in your case,
dear Victor, all that time has left unhealed, and I shall prepare for
your coming, by making a visit of explanations as well as of adieus.
Lest you find this enigmatical, I must explain, that certain rumors
concerning us, so rife in our little town, have reached the ears of
one who daily awaits you in Paris. I shall see Pauline Dusantoy, and
dissipate all doubts, by announcing my immediate departure for Italy. I
send you a faded rose-bud, which you may remember in all its freshness,
and which I have no heart to throw away. But you know how jealous
Armand is. Adieu, dear Victor, my hope in the future is, that the life
which I have just seen trembling on the brink of eternity, may be
crowned with full and perfect happiness. Adieu."

       *       *       *       *       *

Colonel de Villefort was still weak and easily moved, and a choking
sensation in the throat made him quite uncomfortable, as he placed
carefully in a little drawer the letter which he had just read. He was
still haunted by a wistful look of soft and winning eyes, and he seemed
to hear the whispered adieu of a silvery voice, whose pure tones had so
often charmed and soothed him. Is the adieu eternal? he asked himself.
I think not, for I want no nobler and truer friend for my Pauline
than the Contesse d'Hivry, and Pauline will hold sacred as myself the
debt of gratitude due to the woman who has saved my life. But the
idea of marrying Monsieur Armand! To be sure he is handsome, rich,
well-connected, and has a certain charm in conversation, but quite
incapable of appreciating so noble a being as Mathilde; and then what
want of taste on her part! Victor's impatience was changing rapidly
into indignation, at the thought of the Contesse d'Hivry presuming to
marry, or trying to be happy, when another knock at the door changed
the current of his thoughts. This time it was Ulysse and not Lisa
who was the bearer of a letter, covered with armorial bearings, and
addressed with many flourishes to Colonel de Villefort.

"What does the German baron want now?" said Victor, with an impatient
shrug as he glanced at the writing, "after breaking my neck with his
wretched brute of a horse? He sends many compliments of congratulation
to Monsieur le Colonel for his rapid recovery after the deplorable
accident, etc., etc., etc. And as he understands that Monsieur le
Colonel contemplates a visit to Paris, the moment that his health
permits, may Monsieur le Baron hope for his gracious intercession
in his behalf, that he may at last receive the reward of merit, the
much-desired cross of the Legion of Honor. Just as I supposed," said
Victor, laughing. "It would save me much trouble and mental agony to
give him mine, only I remember that Pauline has a weakness for these
baubles."

"_Mon colonel_, may I say a word?" asked Ulysse, awkwardly, turning the
door-knob to keep himself in countenance. "Mlle. Lisa"--

"Is that the word, my good Ulysse?" said Victor, waiting in vain for
Ulysse to complete his sentence. "I understand that you should think
it the only word worth uttering, and I think you quite right. There is
only poor François, who may object to have his heart broken. Lisa is a
nice girl, and I have promised her that you should not leave me."

"Thank you, _Mon colonel_," said Ulysse, glowing with exultation and
triumphant pride.

"Now pack my portmanteau. I shall go to Paris to-morrow in the early
train."



THE ROMANCE OF A WESTERN TRIP.



THE ROMANCE OF A WESTERN TRIP.

[Illustration]


The two following letters, received by me in the year 1852, will
explain themselves.

 "MY DEAR W----: When I left you at the depot in Boston, and was
 whirled away westward, I knew not from what point I should address
 you. I promised you, on the last evening that we passed together, that
 from time to time I would, for your delectation, give you an account
 of any adventure I might chance to meet with in my wanderings; as,
 also, to try my hand at pen-and-ink sketches of men and manners.

 "Could you appreciate my surroundings, you would give me credit for
 a truthful adherence to my word. As to where I am at this present
 writing, I cannot say. In order to understand why I make so strange
 a statement, I must begin my story some weeks back, and narrate an
 incident that befell me, and led to the penning of this epistle.

 "The month of May, in our northern climate, needs no laudation as to
 its charms; and, after a sojourn of many years in your crowded city,
 I was fully prepared to appreciate all the beauty of this spring-time
 among the wilds of Michigan. Therefore, after leaving Detroit for
 the interior, I soon found (as the days were growing much warmer)
 that it would be wisdom for me to discard most of the luggage with
 which I had encumbered myself; as, by so doing, I could, as it were,
 cut loose from dependence upon vehicles of all descriptions; and,
 when my desires pointed that way, or a necessity arose, I could make
 use of those powers of locomotion with which nature has endowed me.
 Therefore, at the termination of the stage-route at H----, I selected
 a few indispensable articles, and, transferring them to a knapsack,
 sent back my trunk to an acquaintance at Detroit, with a request to
 hold it subject to my order, and prepared myself for rough travelling
 in the interior, or, as a New Englander would denominate it, 'the
 backwoods.'

 "At the country tavern, in which I abode as a guest from Saturday
 until Monday, I made inquiries of the landlord as to the route I
 was to take, and the nature of the roads between H---- and the town
 of N----, which I desired to visit. My host, a shrewd, bright-eyed
 little man of forty, and a former resident of New Hampshire, lowered
 his brows, and assumed a dubious look as he listened to me; and, on
 my asking for an explanation of this change of countenance, informed
 me that, had I money of any amount about my person, I had better look
 to the availability of my pistols, and pay particular attention to
 the company I might fall in with; for, within the past two years,
 a number of travellers had been relieved of their possessions, and
 two of them murdered on the roads I should be under the necessity of
 passing over. The country being sparsely settled, the officers of the
 law had been unable to trace the perpetrators of these acts of felony.
 I listened to these details with much uneasiness, for, on leaving
 Boston, I had, by an acquaintance, been intrusted with a package of
 three hundred dollars, to deliver to Judge Perry, of N----, to meet
 some payments becoming due on a purchase of pine lands; in addition,
 I had upon my person some means of my own, the loss of which would
 indeed be a calamity of a serious nature, as I was too far away from
 friends to avail myself of their good services. I assumed an air of
 ease, however, which I was far from feeling, and left my loquacious
 friend, laughing defiance at all the dangers of the way. I had been
 unable to obtain a conveyance at anything like a reasonable rate;
 therefore, as the weather was so charming, had determined to undertake
 the journey of seventy miles on foot, trusting to obtain a ride from
 such travellers I might chance now and then to meet going westward.
 For two days, I pressed cheerfully forward, being kindly welcomed to
 a supper and bed in the cabin of the settlers. The roads were rough,
 and at places illy defined, and I was often at fault as to my route;
 this, and want of practice as a pedestrian, made my progress slow.
 As the evening of the third day drew near, I judged I must still be
 some twenty or twenty-five miles from my destination. I was ascending
 a hill over the worst road that I had yet encountered. The dwarf pine
 clothed the whole declivity, and rendered the approaching night more
 gloomy than it would have been in the more open country. I was greatly
 fatigued from my long day's walk, and, coming to a large boulder that
 had evidently rolled from the higher ground above, I seated myself
 to gain strength, and lifted my hat to let the wind cool my heated
 forehead. Down, far away to my right, I could hear the gurgling and
 splashing of a torrent, while the sough of the breeze among the pines
 made a weird music that added somewhat to a depression that had been,
 for the last hour, gradually stealing over me. The romantic visions
 I had formerly entertained of nature in her solitary moments had
 all departed, and I longed for the companionship of man. Some five
 miles back, I had been at fault as to my route; but, trusting to good
 fortune, had taken the road I was now upon. As I sat meditating, I all
 at once recollected that I had been cautioned, by a man of whom I had
 inquired, against taking the way that led to the hills; for, by so
 doing, I should go astray. Undecided as to whether it would be better
 to retrace my steps, or go on, in hopes of finding a lodging for the
 night, I had arisen, and was hesitating which way I should turn, when
 I heard the tramp of horses' hoofs, and down, from the higher ground
 on my left, rode two men.

 "The obscurity had become so great while I had lingered, that I could
 form but an indefinite idea as to their characteristics. The foremost,
 mounted on a dark-bay horse, was slightly built, and evidently young.
 His felt hat was so slouched over his face that all I could note was,
 that he wore beard and mustache long, both of intense blackness.

 "His companion was a much more powerful man, and sat upon the
 roan mare he bestrode in a careless manner; his face, also, was
 hidden by an equal amount of hair, and, in addition, warm as was
 the weather, his neck was muffled in a large woollen comforter. My
 presence evidently took them by surprise, for they abruptly checked
 their horses, and the younger man pulled sharply upon the bridle,
 half-turning his steed, and seemed about to retrace the way he had
 come, without greeting me. He, however, recovered his self-possession,
 and with a 'Good-evening, stranger,' continued on until he was at my
 side. I was truly thankful at this encounter, for I felt my doubts as
 to my movements would now be solved. In a few words, I stated that
 I had wandered from the road I should have taken, and asked their
 assistance to set me right. The younger man seemed to labor under
 restraint, and spoke but little; the other, however, offered to show
 me the way, and stated they were going in the direction I desired to
 pursue. They spoke in a manner and used language that convinced me
 they were men of superior culture from those one might expect to
 meet in the wild and sparsely settled district in which I was now
 travelling.

 "'We have no time to spare, if we would get out of these pine-lands
 and beyond the river-ford before the darkness becomes troublesome,'
 said the larger man, as he urged his horse to a quick walk along the
 road up the hill. 'You had best follow me, while my companion can
 bring up the rear.'

 "Without hesitation, I acted upon his suggestion, as I was anxious to
 reach a place of rest. 'You should consider yourself highly honored
 to be so escorted and guarded from the dangers of the road,' said
 my guide, as he half-turned in his saddle, with what I then thought
 a jocular, but have since recalled as a sinister, laugh. 'Have you
 any valuable property about you, that you can feel grateful for the
 convoy?' Without a thought of the wisdom of silence on this point, I
 answered: 'More than I should care or can afford to lose, for I am
 a thousand miles from home, and among strangers.' The next moment
 I felt as if I could have bitten out my tongue for its imprudence;
 for flashing upon me came the remembrance of the landlord's tales
 of robbery and violence. We had turned from the main road to the
 right, into a narrower track, and were descending the hill toward
 the river, as I judged; for each moment the noise of its waters were
 more audible. In a brief time after my last remark, I felt that the
 horseman behind me was pressing closer than was needful, and I partly
 stepped from the path, intending to let him pass; for I instinctively
 felt I would rather have them both in front. As I did so, I almost
 unconsciously placed my hand upon my revolver. The younger man stooped
 from his saddle as he came abreast of me, and, speaking in a cold,
 hard tone, exclaimed, 'My good fellow, we will take charge of your
 watch and money.' He leaned forward as he spoke, as if to grasp my
 collar. At the same moment he who rode in front leaped to the ground,
 and turned toward me. I saw my danger in an instant, and, quickly
 drawing my pistol, fired at the head of my nearest foe. The flash
 of the powder gave me a more distinct view of his face than I had
 yet had. As he recoiled from me, I noticed a peculiar droop of the
 left eyelid, and heard the expression, 'My God, I am hit!' At the
 same moment a crushing blow descended upon my skull, and a thousand
 stars seemed falling around me, and all was blackness. My return to
 consciousness was occasioned by a sudden contact with cold water, and
 I awoke to find myself struggling in the midst of a rushing torrent.
 Instinctively I grasped at a support, comprehending my situation in
 an instant. I had been hurled by my assailants into the stream we had
 been approaching, and they undoubtedly supposed that I was beyond
 the chance of recovery. The moon was not yet up, and I could discern
 nothing except the general outlines of the banks of the stream, which,
 rising high on each side, showed me I was at the bottom of a ravine.
 It was many minutes ere my efforts were crowned with any degree of
 success; at last, as I was hurled along, my hands came in contact
 with the drooping bough of a tree, and, weak as I was from the blow
 I had received and the benumbing effect of my immersion in the icy
 current, the principle of self-preservation enabled me to put forth
 almost superhuman strength, and to retain my hold on this anchor of
 hope.

 "After many abortive attempts, I succeeded in dragging myself up, as
 it were out of the jaws of death, upon the rocks which composed the
 banks of the stream. As soon as I felt I was safe from the danger of
 a watery grave, my strength left me, and I fell back almost utterly
 devoid of life. My head felt as if a thousand triphammers were at
 work upon it; a deadly sickness came over me, and I found that I was
 relapsing into insensibility. By a great effort, however, I overcame
 this lethargy, and crawled on my hands and knees up over the piled-up
 rocks and bare roots of trees, until I found myself upon the soft moss
 and dead leaves beyond. Here I lay for a long time, slowly recovering.
 On an examination of my person, I found my watch and purse gone, as
 well as the money-belt containing the three hundred dollars in gold
 with which I had been intrusted. But what I felt to be a more severe
 loss than all else was a valuable diamond ring, that had once been
 my dead mother's, and given to me by her in her last illness. Some
 hundred and fifty dollars in bank-bills and a letter of introduction
 to Judge P----, placed two days before in one of my boots, had escaped
 the search of the highwaymen. None of my bones were broken; but a
 frightful swelling upon my head proved the force of the blow dealt
 me, evidently from the loaded handle of a riding-whip. The pain was
 intense, and, not knowing how serious might be the injury I had
 received, I determined to seek some shelter while I was yet able to do
 so. I cannot describe the agony I endured in the next three or four
 hours. Though weak and suffering, I succeeded in finding by accident
 a narrow by-path, or trail, leading through the forest, and continued
 on, shivering with cold, and frequently obliged to throw myself upon
 the ground, in order to gain strength and rally my wandering senses.
 The moon came up, and my knowledge of the time of its rising proved
 to me that I must have been insensible and in the hands of the two
 ruffians for at least two hours. I was now in a level country once
 more, having left the hills behind me, and, as the moon rose higher in
 the heavens, I could distinguish my surroundings without difficulty.
 I stumbled along the path I was treading, faint and ill, and at last,
 as I began to think I could go no further, came to a clearing, and,
 at my left, beheld a rough log-house among the charred stumps of the
 trees. I reached the door, and, after many efforts, awakened the
 sleepy inmates. A good-natured face greeted my sight, as a bushy head
 was protruded from a narrow window at my right, and a kindly voice
 asked, 'What is wanted?' Each instant growing fainter, I was hardly
 able to articulate; and, before I could explain my position, I sank
 insensible upon the threshold. When I say that it is almost three
 weeks since that occurrence, and that from then until now I have
 not been in the open air, you will understand how desperate was the
 illness that followed. My honest host and his good wife have watched
 over me as if I had been a son instead of a stranger; and to their
 tender nursing I owe my recovery, for no physician has seen me. Far
 away from any settlement, upon one of the least frequented cross-roads
 in the wild section in which they dwell, sometimes weeks would elapse
 without a wayfarer passing their humble abode. Now, once more, I am
 able to arise and sit in the sunshine; and I hope soon to be in a
 condition to seek out the authors of my sufferings. As I have lain on
 my bed, too weak to move, I have thought much, and, strange as it may
 appear, I feel an innate conviction that I shall not only discover the
 two men who endeavored to murder me, but that I shall also recover
 the property I have lost. The reason that I entertain this opinion is
 this: The very fact of my long insensibility after the blow upon my
 head, and the subsequent disposal of my body by casting it into the
 mountain torrent, all go to confirm me in my belief that they thought
 me dead. Consequently, having no fear of my reappearance, they will
 not seek to conceal themselves, or seek refuge from detection by
 flight. The old lady (whom I have found a great gossip), I presume,
 thinks it a 'God-send' my being here; for she can now give vent to her
 loquacity; and, were it not that this letter was already frightfully
 long, I would quote some of her decidedly original remarks for your
 entertainment. I accounted for the plight I was in by stating that I
 had missed my footing in the darkness, and fallen into the stream,
 striking my head upon a projecting rock as I descended. At night when
 my host has returned from his labor, I have gleaned from him a full
 description of the country for miles around, and find that I can reach
 N---- in a day's ride, and that it is one of the most noteworthy
 places this side of Detroit. As soon as I dare, I shall proceed there,
 and my next letter will undoubtedly be mailed from that point. I shall
 not tell you that I wish I had remained in Boston; for to do so would
 be useless and foolish. I am now desirous of going forward to the
 accomplishment of the object I first had in view when I left you, but
 shall remain, however, in this part of the country, both to regain my
 health and strength, and to seek out and punish my assailants." #/
 /# "MY DEAR W----: When I finished my last epistle, I little thought
 I should allow six weeks to elapse before I again took up the thread
 of my story; but, my mind and time have been so fully occupied, that
 I must crave your indulgence. It is now the latter part of July, and
 as you know, at this season of the year one does not feel disposed to
 be loquacious. That you may fully comprehend my position, however, I
 must be somewhat more minute in my descriptions than I could wish to
 be. The sun was near its setting on as lovely a day as I have ever
 seen, when I approached the house of which I am still an inmate. The
 kind-hearted man who had given me shelter and care during my illness,
 brought me to the village of N----, and seemed to regret parting
 from me. I walked up the pretty street towards a large, white house
 standing upon an eminence at its termination, which had been pointed
 out to me as the residence of Judge Perry. As I paused at a gate
 leading into the finely-kept grounds, I could, without an effort of
 the imagination, fancy that I was once more in dear New England, for
 all evidence of newness seemed to have been obliterated. I turned
 and looked back upon the scene; the cottages quietly nestling amid
 a multitude of shade-trees, now clothed in their loveliest garments
 of green; far away the encircling hills, and, a little to my left, a
 pretty stream creeping down the valley, its waters turned to molten
 silver by the glance of the sinking sun. While lost in revery I
 had not noticed the approach of an elderly gentleman, who now came
 forward, and placed his hand upon the latch of the gate at which I
 was standing, at the same time greeting me with the remark of 'A
 delightful ending to as beautiful a day as one need wish for.' I
 responded, eulogizing both the weather and scenery. Whilst speaking, I
 took cognizance of my companion, and felt sure, from the descriptions
 I had received, that I was addressing the owner of the residence;
 and he, in answer to my inquiry, answered in the affirmative, and
 said, 'You are Mr. James H---, I presume. I have been expecting you
 for some time, having received a letter from my friend in Boston,
 advising me of your intention of visiting me. I heartily welcome you,
 and trust that on further acquaintance we shall be mutually pleased
 with each other; but I am keeping you here at the gate, when I should
 show you truer hospitality by inviting you within.' I accepted his
 courtesy and was soon in a pleasant bed-chamber, where I made such
 a toilet as my limited means afforded. As I descended the stairs in
 response to the summons of the supper-bell, I felt the awkwardness
 of my position; placed as I was, without a suitable wardrobe, in a
 family of such evident social standing. Trusting soon to remedy this
 deficiency, I entered a large apartment at the left, and found my
 entertainer ready to lead me to the supper-room. I made some excuses
 as to my appearance, which he turned off with a jest, and, opening
 a door, ushered me to the well-spread table. As we came forward, a
 young lady arose from beside an open window, where she had evidently
 been awaiting us, and I was introduced to my entertainer's only
 daughter. You have frequently bantered me on my stoical indifference
 to female beauty. And now, when I tell you that she whose hand I
 took was one of the most lovely of women, you will not have occasion
 to make allowance for undue enthusiasm. I shall not here attempt to
 describe her, further than to say, she was a blonde, with glorious
 eyes and a wonderful wealth of hair. Her voice was music itself,
 and her every movement denoted the grace of a well-bred lady. As
 we seated ourselves at the table, I regained my self-possession,
 which had been disturbed at this unexpected vision of loveliness. We
 chatted cheerfully as we partook of the tea and toast, and I soon
 felt as if with friends of long standing. When the repast ended, the
 daughter lovingly placed her hand on her father's arm to detain him,
 and my eyes encountered upon it a jewelled ring that flashed like a
 thing of life in the lamplight. Could I be dreaming? For an instant
 my brain whirled and I grew giddy, for I had discovered that which
 I so much prized, and had lost,--the last gift of my dead mother.
 This ring, from the peculiarity of its construction, and the antique
 setting of the stones, I could not mistake, and yet I could in no
 wise account for what I saw. One glance at that lovely face, whose
 every line spoke of innocence, was enough to drive away all suspicions
 as to her complicity with the men who had sought my life. I cannot
 detail to you the incidents of that evening; for, short as has been
 the time since, I have forgotten them. I was as one in a maze, and
 talked mechanically, and only awoke to a recollection of what courtesy
 demanded, when Judge Perry remarked 'that as I was evidently much
 fatigued, and not yet in my usual health, they would allow me to
 retire.' I sat at my chamber window gazing out on the moonlit valley
 until long after midnight, but I could illy appreciate the beauty of
 the scene. I was seeking to arrange some plan of action by which I
 might trace up this first clew to a discovery I now felt most certain.
 At last, wearied with fruitless thought, I determined to await the
 course of events, and to trust to time for additional light.

 "The next few days were agreeably occupied in forming a more intimate
 acquaintance with Helen Perry and her father. I put forth what powers
 of pleasing nature has endowed me with, and my success seemed complete.
 Ere long I was on such terms of friendship with them as I desired;
 and then I learned from Helen that she had lost her mother many years
 before,--soon after their emigration from Eastern New York to their
 present home. I had thus far passed the time each day until two or
 three o'clock with the judge in his office, after which I wandered
 with Helen in the tasteful grounds surrounding her home, or upon the
 low-lying hills beyond. Her education had not been neglected, and her
 reading had been extensive. Thus we could converse upon the merits of
 the literature of the day, and in such topics discovered we had kindred
 tastes. She was ever frank and cheerful; and, short as had been our
 acquaintance, my heart was beginning to beat faster at her approach,
 and each morning, as I awoke, I looked eagerly forward to the hour that
 would find her disengaged from household duties, and with leisure to
 devote to me.

 "Once or twice the judge spoke of an absent friend, a Doctor Wentworth,
 in a manner which caused me some uneasiness; for, as he did so, he
 cast upon Helen a good-natured, sly glance that meant much, and always
 produced a blush upon her sweet face. It was after dinner on Tuesday,
 that we came out upon the lawn to inspect a rose-bush, which Helen
 wished transplanted, when her father remarked,--

 "'By the way, my dear, I received a letter from Edward this morning,
 and he tells me he shall be here to-day; so, as in duty bound, and like
 an ardent lover, I presume he will at once fly to you. I should advise
 that you forego your accustomed ramble, and remain at home to welcome
 him. I have no doubt our guest will be pleased for one day to escape
 the task of following you as an escort.'

 "By the terrible sinking of my heart that these words occasioned, I
 knew in an instant that I loved her; and, half-glancing at her as I
 turned away (with difficulty hiding my emotion), thought I saw the
 bright flush upon her animated face dying away, and a deadly pallor
 taking its place. I dared not remain and listen to her reply, and
 therefore wandered on past the summerhouse in which I had passed so
 many pleasant hours with her, until my steps were stayed upon the
 bank of the stream whose waters had now no music to my ears. I had
 heretofore been unconscious of the hopes that had gained access to my
 heart. Day by day I had, as it were, allowed my purposes to slumber.
 Her charms had bound me a willing captive, and all unwittingly I had
 cast aside thoughts of the future, and forgotten that the life of
 inaction in which I was indulging could not last. I had found ample joy
 and occupation in watching the play of her expressive features, and in
 listening to the words that came from her lips. After my first few
 hours of astonishment and wonder at the discovery of my stolen ring
 upon her hand, I had ceased, even when alone, to dwell upon the mystery
 connected with it. Now I was brought back to a remembrance of all I had
 vowed to do as I lay ill and suffering in the rude log cabin of the
 settler. It was long before my calmness returned, and my heart ceased
 to beat wildly. The afternoon had waned as I turned back towards the
 house and friends I had so abruptly left. It was in a more collected
 frame of mind that I ascended the steps, and entered the parlor. I am
 sure that, on encountering those there assembled, not the quiver of a
 muscle betrayed the agitation I felt. Helen was half-reclining upon
 a sofa, and leaning upon its back was the form of a tall and rather
 slightly-built man. She started up as I entered. Could it be that a
 brighter light beamed in her eyes as they encountered mine? I knew not,
 for the judge, who was seated near, was prompt to rise also, and said,--

 "'Mr. Palmer, we are glad of your return. Both Helen and myself were
 beginning to fear you had been spirited away. Allow me to make you
 acquainted with Doctor Wentworth. Doctor Wentworth, Mr. Palmer, our
 guest. I trust that you will learn to value the hour that brings you
 together.'

 "I looked the physician full in the face, as I took his hand. The sun,
 streaming in through the western windows, fell full upon his features,
 bringing out every line in a marvellous manner, and distinctly exposing
 their play, as he acknowledged my greeting. The countenance was one to
 attract the attention, and yet not pleasant to look upon. His forehead
 was high and fair; hair and mustache black as night, chin smoothly
 shaven and dimpled, and yet the eye repelled me. As I looked at him,
 I had an unaccountable impression that we had met before, but I could
 not tell where, or why it seemed as if the circumstances attending
 it had been of a disagreeable nature. As, after the first words of
 conversational politeness, he turned to Helen, I had a few moments
 for reflection, and suddenly flashed upon me the recollection of the
 scene in the wood,--the man leaning from his horse to grasp my collar,
 the tones of his voice, the momentary glance I had of his face as I
 fired my pistol at him, and the peculiar droop of his right eye that I
 had noticed. Could it be possible? Had I gained one more clew to the
 mystery? Was the man before me the would-be assassin? No! no! I was mad
 to indulge such a thought. This physician, the friend of Judge Perry,
 a gentleman, and evidently, from the judge's own words, the accepted
 suitor of his daughter, could be no vulgar highwayman; and yet, as
 he maintained a brisk conversation with Helen, and allowed me full
 opportunity for close observation, the more convinced did I become that
 he was the man. As she raised her hand, I saw the gleam of the diamond
 upon it. At last the chain of evidence for me was complete. What so
 natural as that her lover should present this to her? I thanked God
 that I was to be made the instrument by which she was to be rescued
 from such a marriage. I forgot my own private desire for vengeance.
 My love for her--this beautiful and innocent girl--was of so true a
 nature, that every other consideration was subordinate to the one for
 the furtherance of her welfare. By a powerful effort I controlled my
 feelings, and assumed an air of ease that I could not feel.

 "The doctor was all animation, and talked at a rapid rate, while I
 thought I had never seen Helen so dull. 'By the way, doctor,' remarked
 the judge, after we had left the tea-table and entered the parlor,
 'have you recovered from the accident you met with a few weeks ago?
 Pistol-shots are anything but pleasant reminders, and you had a narrow
 escape.' I was gazing directly at him while the judge spoke, and for an
 instant, even as a summer breeze would ruffle a placid lake, a frown
 gathered upon his brow, and was gone. 'I am as well as I could wish
 to be,' was the answer, 'and have almost forgotten the occurrence.'
 Pleading a dull headache, I retired to my chamber at an early hour.
 I wished to be alone, that I might take counsel with myself as to
 the course I ought to pursue, in order to bring this scoundrel and
 his associate to justice. The longer I dwelt upon the matter, the
 more convinced I became that my proper course was to make the judge
 my confidant. He was of years' experience and discretion, and also
 a deeply interested party, through his daughter's connection with
 Wentworth.

 "I slept but little that night, and was in the grounds, when my host
 came out for a stroll in the morning air. I knew that it would yet be
 an hour before the breakfast-bell would ring; therefore, after speaking
 of the beauties of the morning, I took his arm as if for a promenade,
 and said, 'If you can spare me some thirty or forty minutes, and will
 come where we can by no possibility be overheard, I will tell you
 what I know is of vast importance to you.' He looked surprised, but
 acceded to my request at once, recommending the arbor already in view
 as a desirable place for private conversation. We seated ourselves,
 and, with but few preliminary remarks, I gave him a full account of my
 adventures since leaving Detroit. He did not once interrupt me; but, as
 I proceeded, his face became more and more ashen, until, as I concluded
 by denouncing the doctor as one of my assailants, it was as white as
 that of a corpse.

 "For a minute after I had ceased speaking he remained silent; then,
 drawing a long breath, he seemed to regain command over himself, and
 said: 'I can but believe all that you have told me, for there are many
 circumstances, with which you are evidently unacquainted, that go to
 corroborate your story. Can you remember the day of the month upon
 which your murder was attempted?'

 "'The twenty-second,' I replied.

 "'And on the twenty-fourth,' he said, 'Dr. Wentworth returned home
 after an absence of some days, in charge of Hugh Chapin, an intimate
 friend of his. He could with difficulty sit upon his horse, and was
 apparently suffering severely. He stated that he had been injured by
 the accidental discharge of his pistol, but that, as the ball had
 only inflicted a flesh-wound in the shoulder, it would soon heal. The
 explanation was plausible, and no one doubted his word.'

 "'Was there any mark upon the ring by which you could identify it?'

 "'On the inner-side, below the centre-stone,' I answered, 'was the
 letter P, in Roman characters, and above it was some fine scroll-work,
 and close observation would show the name of Susie, in minute
 lettering, amidst it; any one gazing upon it in an ordinary manner
 would fail to perceive it. My mother's maiden name was Susan Palmer,
 and this ring was presented to her by my father previous to their
 marriage. I feel sure that an inspection will prove my description to
 be true, although I have not seen the jewel since I lost it except upon
 your daughter's hand.'

 "'I am satisfied,' said my companion; 'I have seen the initial P, as
 you describe it, but as it corresponded with my Helen's family name,
 I thought it intended for it. I can readily identify the larger of
 the two men, and the one who inflicted the blow that nearly cost your
 life, in the person of a resident of a farm-house some three miles from
 us, one Hugh Chapin, a bachelor and the almost inseparable companion
 of Dr. Wentworth. I have never been pleased with this intimacy, for I
 have felt an aversion to this man from my first knowledge of him. As
 I could give no reason for it, I have said little to Wentworth on the
 subject. They came here about the same time, four years ago, and Dr.
 W., displaying considerable skill in his profession, soon acquired a
 good practice, and has enjoyed the confidence of the community. This
 Chapin purchased the house and farm he now occupies soon after his
 arrival, and has always seemed to have the command of money, although I
 learn that he is but an indifferent farmer, and often absent from home
 for weeks together. I employed Dr. W. in a severe illness I had some
 two years ago, and after I recovered he was much at my house, and Helen
 saw much of him. He proposed for her hand, and at first she seemed
 inclined to reject his suit, but, thinking the match a desirable one, I
 persuaded her not to do so. I have since often fancied that perhaps I
 did wrong in thus using my influence, as she has since their betrothal
 seemed loth to accord him the privileges of an accepted lover. His
 profession has often called him away, but I now see it may have
 frequently afforded an excuse for an absence in which were performed
 deeds too dark even to contemplate. The sheriff of our county is a
 brave, shrewd man, and I will lay the facts of this case before him,
 and we will devise the best means of bringing these men to justice.
 I need not point out to you the wisdom of silence; we have cunning
 knaves to deal with, and must use care, so they may gain no clew to
 our intentions. Knowing that you had been intrusted with three hundred
 dollars to pay into my hands, I have wondered at your silence on the
 subject; but your explanation has made all plain at last. It will be
 difficult to dissemble in the presence of this scoundrel, Wentworth,
 I know; yet for a brief time we must submit to the infliction of his
 presence, and allow him to visit Helen as heretofore.'

 "When we returned to the house, my heart was lighter than it had been
 since my arrival at N----. I will pass over the record of the next
 few days, for nothing of importance took place. The judge and myself
 held frequent consultations with the sheriff in my host's office;
 care being taken that these meetings should attract no attention.
 The doctor was occupied with his patients, as the warm weather was
 developing disease. Once only had his confederate, Hugh Chapin, made
 his appearance in the village. I had seen him as he rode up the street
 to the door of Dr. Wentworth's office, where dismounting, and securing
 his horse, he entered. I would have given much to have been a private
 spectator of their interview, but only remained book in hand in my
 seat at the window. You may be sure I comprehended nothing printed
 upon the page before me. Not many minutes elapsed after Chapin came
 forth and rode away, ere the sheriff dropped in upon us. The moment he
 made his appearance, I saw, by the twinkle in his eye, he had pleasant
 intelligence to communicate. Glancing around to see that we were alone,
 he cast himself into a chair, giving vent to a gratified chuckle. 'We
 have them at last,' said he, 'thanks to the intelligence of the boy
 the doctor employs to wait upon him, and whom I frightened and bribed
 into playing the spy. A nice plot of robbery has just been concocted
 by the two worthies closeted up yonder. Old Seth Jones to-day received
 a payment upon the farm he sold Thompson, and will take it to Pollard
 whose place he has purchased; having to travel some twenty miles of
 bad road, it will be dark before he can reach his destination, and
 Chapin and Wentworth are intent upon relieving him of his money; the
 rocky gully between Harrison's and Thompson's is the point selected for
 operations; and I, with my men, shall take care to be there in time to
 have a hand in the game.'

 "That was an anxious evening for me. I sat with Helen and her father
 until after ten, and, despite the efforts we all made, the conversation
 languished. I saw she felt a weight upon her that she could not cast
 off. As I gazed upon her face, while she bent over some feminine
 employment, I could perceive the great change that had been wrought
 in her in the few weeks I had known her. She had grown thin and pale,
 and a look of suffering had taken the place of one of cheerfulness. I
 asked myself if it could be that I had awakened her love, and that she
 had discovered this fact and allowed her betrothment to Wentworth to
 eat like a canker at her heart. I felt an almost irresistible desire to
 tell her how dear she was to me, and that if she returned my affection,
 all would be well with us. By a powerful effort, however, I choked back
 the words that trembled on my lips, and retired to my chamber, where
 I alternately paced the floor and sat by the open window until near
 morning. The night was intensely dark, and I could distinguish only
 the outline of the trees upon the lawn. It was three o'clock, and a
 faint streak of light began to illumine the eastern horizon, when I at
 last heard the tramp of horses upon the bridge that crossed the stream
 down the valley. I could control my impatience no longer, and, opening
 my door, descended the stairs with rapid feet, but the judge fully
 dressed was before me in the hall, proving that he, too, like myself,
 had impatiently awaited news of the result of the sheriff's ambuscade.
 We hurried down the street, and, in the dull light of the dawning day,
 met a party of six men having Hugh Chapin in charge. He was securely
 bound, and riding upon a horse in the midst of his captors. I noted the
 absence of Wentworth at once, and felt the most bitter disappointment,
 but soon learned the occasion of it. In an attempt to escape, he had
 been shot through the head, and was then lying dead at a farm-house
 near the scene of action.

 "I can now condense into a few sentences what more I have to relate. On
 being confronted with me, Chapin made a full confession of his own and
 Wentworth's crime. It was he who struck me upon the head as I fired at
 his companion, and, after binding up Wentworth's wound, he robbed and
 then conveyed me to a lonely part of the stream and cast me in; my long
 insensibility had cheated them into the belief of my death.

 "Helen made no pretext of regret at the awful judgment that had
 overtaken her betrothed; on the contrary, her face now wears an
 expression of repose which the dullest observer could not fail to
 perceive. Need I add that I had a long conversation with her last
 night during which she acknowledged her affection for me, and promised
 to be my wife provided her father sanctioned our wishes. The judge has
 since listened to my petition with a pleased smile, and answered that
 in due time we should be made happy.

 "When our nuptials are performed, then will end my western trip and its
 attending romance."



THE TWO GHOSTS OF NEW LONDON TURNPIKE.



THE TWO GHOSTS

OF

NEW LONDON TURNPIKE.

[Illustration]


There is a certain ancient and time-honored institution, which,
in the advancement of recent discoveries and the march of modern
improvements, seems destined soon to pass from the use, and then, in
natural sequence, from the memories of mankind. For even the highest
type of civilization is prone to ingratitude, and drops all thoughts
of its best agencies as soon as it has outlived its absolute need of
them. Towards this Lethean current, whose lazy waters glide so silently
and yet so resistlessly along the borders of the Past, gradually
undermining and crumbling away the ancient landmarks and the venerable
institutions known and loved of the former generations, the whale-ships
are already drifting.

For year by year, as they set sail with their hardy crews, every
succeeding voyage took them nearer to the court of the Ice King, the
chill of his breath grew deadlier, and the invasion of his dominions
more desperate. But, lo! when Jack Tar was almost at his wit's end,
a cry arose upon the prairie, and the disciples of commerce dropped
their harpoons and left their nets to follow the guidance of the new
revelation. Jets of oleaginous wealth sprang and spirted, and blessed
was he whose dish was right-side-up in this new rain of pecuniary
porridge. Instead of the old launchings and weighings of anchors,
came the embarkation of all sorts and sizes of solid and fancy craft
on the inviting sea of speculation, and men ran hither and thither,
outrivalling the tales of the bygone voyagers, by stories of vast
fortunes made in a day, and of shipwrecks as sad as any on the ocean.
And so, in place of dingy casks and creaking cordage and watery perils,
there sprang up the reign of pipes and drills, and for the laden ships,
black and oozy with their slippery cargo, we began to have long trains
of bright blue tanks speeding over all our western railways; and the
whaling vessels, with their smooth, tapering sides, and blowsy crews,
and complicated mysteries of rigging, seem already like forsaken hulks,
hopelessly stranded upon the shores of antiquity.

But all this belongs to the Present, and any such prophecy uttered in
the days with which our story has to do would have been regarded as the
wildest of ravings. For then the whale-ship was a reality and a power,
the terror of all mothers of wayward boys, and the general resort of
reckless runaways and prodigals. The thought that it could ever be
superseded by any undiscovered agency had not yet made its way into the
heads of even the sage prognosticators who studied the prophets and the
apocalypse, and were able to dispose of all the beasts and dragons,
and to assign them appropriate places in the future, with the utmost
certainty and satisfaction.

It is certain that no such forebodings startled the complacency of two
young men who sat, in the gathering twilight of a mild spring evening,
on a fragment of drift-wood in a little cove of New London harbor, with
the waves sweeping up almost to their feet, and the western sky still
flushed with the departing glory of sunset.

They were a stout, bronzed, muscular couple, loosely clad in the common
sailor-suits of the period, and both with the shrewd, resolute cast of
countenance that distinguished the irrepressible Yankee then no less
than now. The darker of the two was the more attractive, for he had
the jolly twinkling eye, and gayly infectious air that goes with the
high animal temperament, and always carries a bracing tonic with it
like the sea-breeze. Wherever John Avery came, all the evil spirits of
dulness and mopes and blues, that conspire so fearfully for the misery
of mankind, had to give way, and one burst of his spontaneous merriment
would exorcise the whole uncanny troop. John was a born sailor, with
all the dashing frankness, and generous, hearty temper characteristic
of the class, and not deficient in the faculty for getting into scrapes
that is also an invariable endowment of his prototypes.

The other was a less open face, sharper in its outlines, and with
more angles than curves. Had it been less kindly, it might have been
the face of a rascal, and yet an artist could easily have idealized
it into that of a hero. For all these variations and contrasts of
characteristic expression, that have such influence among us, are,
after all, wonderfully slight affairs, and a few touches either way,
upon the vast majority of faces, would give a seraph or a demon at the
shortest notice. The bright, plump countenance of Jack was an open
book, known and read of all men, while that of his cousin Philo was a
study far more perplexing, and in the end less satisfactory. But the
conversation of the two was sufficiently plain.

"Sails on Thursday, does she, Phil?" said the cheerful voice of John
as his practised eye sought out a certain ship from among the crowd of
vessels in the harbor.

"All hands aboard at nine o'clock's the order," replied Philo, taking
off his cap, and turning his face to the wind.

"And the Sally Ann don't sail till Saturday. I say Phil, old fellow, I
wish we were going together," cried John with one of his bursts.

"It's better as 'tis," said Philo, thoughtfully. "There's a better
chance for one of us to come back, you know, than if we were in the
same ship."

"'_Come back._' Why, of course we shall come back,--that is, I
hope so, both of us. That wasn't what I meant. I'd like you for a
shipmate,--that's all," was the eager response.

"Yes,--I understand," answered Philo. "We shan't both come home, _of
course_; but there's hopes for both of us, and a pretty strong chance
for one of us at least."

And then a seriousness fell upon the cousins, and for many minutes they
sat and watched the tide creeping up to them like the lapping, hungry
tongue of some slow monster, thinking such thoughts as will sometimes
come unbidden to the heart of youth, and become more and more intrusive
and importunate as we grow older.

These boys were offshoots of a sturdy Puritan stock, and the pluck
and backbone of their ancestry suffered no degeneracy in them. John
had been an orphan from infancy, and had grown up in an atmosphere
of loving kindness and tender mercy under the auspices of his Aunt
Betsy,--Philo's mother. She it was, who, in view of his orphanage,
had winked at his boyish misdemeanors, indulged his naturally gay
disposition in every way that her strict and somewhat barren orthodoxy
allowed, and when his sea-going propensities could no longer be
controlled by the mild influences of her molasses gingerbread and sweet
cider, she had made him a liberal outfit of flannel shirts and blue
mixed hose, and, tucking a Bible into the corner of his chest, bade him
God-speed on his first voyage.

It was with some surprise that she saw him come back from a three
months' cruise, with no more serious damage than a scar across his
forehead; but still she felt reproached at the sight of it, and on
Jack's next start rectified her previous neglect, by sending Philo
along with him in the capacity of mentor and protector,--an office
which she, in the devotion of her heart, would most joyfully have
undertaken herself if the art and practice of navigation could have
been adapted so as to admit of the services of an elderly lady. But
becoming convinced of the utter impracticability of this plan, she
wisely settled herself down to be comfortable with tea-drinking and
knitting-work, with great confidence in Philo's sobriety and force of
character, as applied to preserve her darling Jack from harm; for Aunt
Betsy, like many other excellent people, was not free from favoritism,
and her adopted son was the child of her affections, while Philo had
the secondary place, and was expected to consider it his highest
happiness to fiddle for Jack's dancing, and otherwise to hold the
candle in a general way for the benefit and pleasure of that superior
being. Had Jack been less jolly and generous, or Philo less amiable and
forbearing, this maternal arrangement would have been a fruitful source
of jealousy and contention; but the two natures were so fortunately
balanced that even the one-sided weight of Aunt Betsy's partiality
worked no such derangement of the family peace, as might have been
supposed. The boys had made three short voyages together, and were now
about shipping for their first long absence in different vessels only
because Philo's superior education and business aptitude qualified him
for the position of supercargo, which had been offered him on board the
Skylark.

Philo was already developing the great Yankee trait of penny-catching,
for even then he had saved quite a pretty sum out of the very moderate
pay of a foremast man in those times, and this, in addition to his
patrimonial inheritance of a few hundred dollars, made a nice nest-egg
for the fortune that he hoped to realize in late life. Jack, too, had
his property interest, for he had just come to man's estate in the
eye of the law, and his little property, carefully hoarded, and with
its due interest had been, only the day previous, paid into his hands
in good gold, accompanied by much sound advice and the warmest good
wishes from his benignant guardian, 'Squire Tupper, who, thanks to
Aunt Betsy's interposition had found him the most dutiful and least
troublesome of wards.

Philo renewed the conversation by inquiring whether Jack had thought
of any particular mode of investment, and stating his own intention
of purchasing an interest in the Skylark, if on his return it should
appear advisable. But the former topic appeared to push itself uneasily
uppermost, and he soon came abruptly back to it,--

"I shall do that thing if I live to see home again; and, if anything
should happen that I don't, I want my money to go to you, Jack, except
half the income, and that I want to have settled on mother as long as
she lives."

"You'd better say all the income, and the principal too, for that
matter, Phil," cried the hearty Jack, with a little break in his voice
at the last words.

"No," replied the cousin, soberly. "There's enough besides to keep the
old lady comfortable as long as she lives, and more would only worry
her. If she gets something to show that I didn't forget her, it'll be
better than if she had it all to take care of; and she'll be just as
well suited to have it go to you."

"But think of my getting what Aunt Betsy ought to have," remonstrated
Jack, sturdily.

"It's best," said Philo.

"And to hear you talk as if you was bound straight for Davy Jones'
locker," pursued Jack.

"I shan't go any straighter for talking about it, as I know of,"
answered Philo, looking steadily towards the dim horizon as if his fate
lay somewhere between the water and the sky.

"Well, then," shouted the impulsive Jack, "if it must be so, I'm glad
I can match you at the other end of the same rope. You're as likely to
come home as I am, and, if I'm never heard from, all I've got shall go
to you."

"Then we'd better make our wills in form, if that's your wish," said
Philo, rising from the log.

"We'll make all fast to-morrow," remarked Jack, cheerfully; "though it
makes one feel queer to be doing such business at our age."

"It can't hurt anything; and we're no more likely to meet with bad luck
for having things in ship-shape," replied Philo, as they walked up
towards the little town, whose twinkling lights winked like fireflies
out of the darkness.

"Let's do it to-night, and have it over," exclaimed Jack, who found
an unpleasant creeping sensation gaining upon him as he dwelt on the
subject.

"Well," said Philo.

The cousins turned into the main street of the village, now a busy
mart of business, but in those days broad and grassy, with a row of
respectable gambrel-roofed houses, each with its liberal garden at
the side. Pre-eminent in respectability was the abode of 'Squire
Tupper, with its large, clean yard, small, patchwork-looking windows,
and ponderous brass knocker, which disclosed the terrific head of
some nondescript animal in most menacing attitude. Upon this brazen
effigy Jack sounded a vigorous rap, since 'Squire Tupper was the prime
magnate and authority of the small town, in all matters requiring legal
adjustment; and any well-instructed resident would as soon have thought
of having a funeral without the minister as of making a will without
the advice of the 'squire.

The summons was answered by a pretty blonde girl, dressed in the nicest
of blue stuff gowns, the whitest of muslin tuckers, and with her
pretty feet displayed to advantage by fine clocked stockings and neat
morocco shoes. All these little matters and her dainty air gave her the
appearance of a petted kitten, or, rather, of some small, ornamental
image, made of cream candy, and kept in a Chinese doll-house.

She turned rosy at sight of Jack, who came instantly out of his solemn
mood, and, in the frank, saucy way habitual to him, swung his arm
around the neat waist, and, spite of some tiny remonstrances and vain
struggles, planted a big sailor kiss right in the centre of the demure
mouth. All this was natural enough; for, besides being the 'squire's
ward and connected in that sort of cousinhood which extends to the
forty-ninth degree of consanguinity, Jack had now regularly "kept
company" with Molly for several months, and all his Sunday nights on
shore were piously devoted to "settin' up" with her in the prim, sanded
best parlor, where it is not to be supposed that he abstained totally
from such "refreshment" as Mr. Sam Weller was accustomed to indulge
when opportunity offered.

But his demonstrativeness served to discompose Molly's ladyhood on this
occasion; and the presence of Philo with his business-like face added
so much scandal that she disengaged herself as quickly as possible from
Jack's audacious grasp, and, with such dignity as a white kitten might
assume in the presence of two intrusive pups, ushered them into the
family "keepin'-room," and withdrew, as if she wished it understood
that she washed her hands of them and their kind from that time forth.
But Jack slipped out after her, and probably made peace; for they
returned together,--he very brisk and shining, and she blushing like
Aurora.

Philo, however, meant business, and said as much in plain terms, that
set Miss Molly into a perfect maze of conjecture as she went to call
the 'squire. Her only solution of the mystery was that Jack had now
come for the momentous _pop_, toward which events had been tending;
and that Philo had accompanied him in the character of second. She
felt a little piqued that she had not been able to bring him to the
point herself; but then it was certainly very straightforward in him
to come right to her father in that way; and so the little lady rushed
out to the wood-pile in a perfect flutter of delicious perplexity, and
imparted the fact that the two young men had called _on business_, with
such decided emphasis that the 'squire immediately took the cue, and
prepared himself to be especially benignant and paternal.

Relieved of Molly's inspiring presence, Jack felt all the solemnity
of the affair returning upon him, and, as is usual with these strong,
mercurial natures, it loomed before him more and more grim and ghastly,
till, by the time that the 'squire made his appearance, he had become
almost persuaded that his last hour was really approaching. This state
of mind imparted to his countenance an expression of such touching
melancholy as made the old gentleman take him for the most despairing
of lovers, and wrought upon his sympathies amazingly.

'Squire Tupper was the embodiment of magisterial dignity, owlish
wisdom, and universal benevolence. With a fine, showy person that was
in itself the guaranty of unimpeachable respectability, he had gone on
in life, and come to hold the position of an oracle; not on account
of anything he ever said, but because of a general way that he had of
looking as if he could on all occasions say a great deal if he chose,
which is a sure way to attain the distinction of being considered
remarkably well-informed, though it is one that is greatly neglected
of late years. The world laughs at witty people, and despises them;
and 'Squire Tupper was a bright example of the truth that it takes a
thoroughly dull man to be profoundly respected.

He now saluted the cousins with grave urbanity, and deliberately placed
his stately form in the arm-chair, taking a fresh cut of tobacco as
a preliminary to business. If Molly had enough of mother Eve about
her to cause her to peep and listen behind the door, we don't know
as it concerns us. We don't say she did; but would be slow to take
the responsibility of declaring that she didn't. Young ladies, who
may chance to peruse this veracious history, are at liberty to decide
this point according to their own estimate of the temptation, and the
average feminine power of resistance.

Jack plunged desperately into the middle of the subject, and then tried
to swim out toward the introduction.

"We thought we'd stop in, sir, this evening, as we've made up our minds
to do a certain thing; and it seemed as if we--I mean I--felt as if I
should like to have it done, and over with."

"I see, I see," replied the 'squire, with the utmost consideration for
Jack's embarrassment, and the delicate nature of his errand. "You've
spoken to Molly about it, I suppose?" he added, encouragingly.

"Why, no. Didn't think it was worth while, as you was at home,"
answered Jack.

"Ah, I see! Jes' so, jes' so! Very thoughtful in you, Jack,--very,
indeed." The 'squire paused, and took a pinch of snuff, nodding his
satisfaction, and proceeded: "It's highly gratifying to me, Jack, to
see you so thoughtful as to come to me first on this business; though
it isn't what all young men would do. I'm glad to see that you respect
the parental relation, and respect my feelings, though you've no
parents of your own; still you've had an excellent bringing up by your
Aunt Betsy, and I've tried, in my humble way, to do what I could."
(Graceful self-abasement was one of the 'squire's strong points.)
"And now I say you've acted just right, because I am better capable
of judging what is for Molly's good than she can be herself; and, of
course, I'm the person to be first consulted; and it's most creditable
and gratifying"--

"Why, it isn't about Molly, at all!" cried Jack in bewilderment.

O happy, doting pride of fatherhood! What a falling off was there, and
what blankness, followed by confusion, overspread 'Squire Tupper's
countenance, as the nature of his blunder and its extreme awkwardness
became apparent to his puzzled faculties.

"No--no--certainly not--not in the least!" gasped he, catching after
his dignity, as a man drowning grasps at straws.

"We came to see if you could attend to making out our wills, this
evening," said Philo.

The 'squire looked from one to the other with such dazed incredulity
that both the young men applied themselves to explanations which
brought his senses back into the world of facts.

"Yes, yes, certainly,--very creditable and prudent in you to wish to
make things all snug before you go. Excellent idea; though you're both
rather youngish to be doing such business. Still it's highly gratifying
to see you take it up in this way,--certainly,--just let me get the
materials." And the 'squire plunged with great eagerness into the
subject, briskly opening an old-fashioned secretary, and setting out
upon the table a heavy stone inkstand, a sand-box, some large sheets
of paper, and a bunch of quills; and then, being quite restored to his
accustomed equilibrium, begged them in the most impressive magisterial
manner, to state their wishes, and commenced making his pen, while
Philo explained the subject-matter of the conversation previously
recorded.

"I see, I see!" said the 'squire, deliberately, when he had elaborated
the point of the quill, and tried it repeatedly on his thumb-nail. And,
without further ado, he drew his chair to the table, and headed the
page in a large, round hand: "_The Last Will and Testament of Philo
Avery_;" following it up with the regular formula for such cases made
and provided.

"_In the name of God, Amen._

"I, Philo Avery, of the town of New London and state of Connecticut,
being of sound mind and memory, and considering the uncertainty of this
frail and transitory life, do, therefore, make, advise, publish, and
declare this to be my last will and testament," etc.

Scratch--scratch, went the 'squire's pen, interrupted only by
occasional dips into the ink, while the two testators sat and looked
on in unwinking silence, and the tall candles flared and sputtered
as their sooty wicks dropped down into the tallow. Hardly had this
happened when Molly tripped shyly into the room, bringing a pair of
silver snuffers on a little tray, and with one dexterous nip relieved
each smoking luminary of its incumbrance, at the same moment casting
her demure eyes upon the page which her father was now covering with
sand. If she was not ignorant of the old gentleman's palpable blunder
(and remember the narrator takes no responsibility on that point), she
was certainly very innocent and unconscious, and, as Jack looked at
her, he anathematized his own stupidity in not taking the opportunity
which the 'squire had so temptingly opened for him, and determined that
he would rectify the omission speedily.

Meanwhile, the quill travelled over another broad page, and the
documents were ready for the signatures. And then it was necessary
that Molly and the hired-man should be called in as witnesses, and the
former made very wide eyes of wonderment (little budget of deceit!)
when she learned the nature of the papers, and wrote her name in a
tiny, cramped hand, with many little quirks like the legs of spiders,
and this was supplemented by the laborious autograph of Silas Plumb,
the teamster, a young man of limited education and bushy hair.

And when all this was done, the cousins exchanged the wills, and
tucked them into their respective side-pockets, feeling greatly
relieved, and the 'squire, after receiving his fee in a benevolent,
deprecating manner, as if it was quite a trial to his feelings, but
must be undergone as a duty, brought out some excellent port wine, and
pledged them both in liberal glasses, with wishes for their prosperous
voyage and safe return. And at the mention of this sorrowful topic,
poor Molly's spirits suffered such charming timid depression, and
were affected to such a degree that when Philo took leave, it was
necessary for Jack to lag behind, and finally allow him to go away
alone, since nothing else would serve to restore the languishing damsel
to comparative cheerfulness. At this interval of time, and without
the advantage of being an eye-witness, it would be a vain attempt for
anybody to undertake a minute account of how, standing in the low
"stoop," with its little round posts like drumsticks, and huge tubs of
thrifty, rough-leaved plants, Molly made herself perfectly irresistible
with her shy regrets, and how, when her grief and apprehension at
once welled up from her heart to her face, in the midst of bashful
palpitations and broken sobs, her proud little head wilted weakly
over on Jack's shoulder, and she begged him not to go sail-ail-ailing
away, and be drownd-ed-ed--and have that horrid old will-ill-ill for
his sole memento. Neither would it be easy to portray how Jack soothed
and petted, with all the little endearments that are such delightful
realities for the moment, but so silly and absurd to remember, and
finally, when nothing else would answer, committed himself past all
remedy, as what man could help doing, with such a dainty little figure
leaning close, and the sweetest of mournful faces buried in his collar.
And then, there were more tears and kisses, and at the end a long,
quiet talk of all that should be realized when that one voyage was
over, and he should be ready to resign his sea-faring life.

At last Jack tore himself away from all these enchantments, and
rushed home for a couple of hours of delicious dreamy tumbling about
in bed before daylight, which seemed to come much sooner than he had
calculated, and aroused him to complete his preparations for departure.

Everybody knows what a queer, altered aspect certain actions and
feelings take after one night, and the dawning of the clear, practical
light of the next day. Ideas that have seemed most urgent and actual
will at such times appear extremely unreal and visionary, and be
quite eclipsed in interest by the trifles that come in between and
demand immediate attention. Jack found it so, in the hurry and bustle
of the next day, what with the preparations for sailing, and all the
little matters that such a start involves. The doings of the previous
night seemed quite distant and foreign to his own personality; and it
needed the big-folded document, with its formal phraseology and crisp
rattle, to convince him that the acts of the evening before had not
been a rather memorable dream. Once, in the course of the day, he
took out the will, read it hastily over, and then tucked it away in a
little brass-bound box, that answered for him the same purpose that a
Herring's Patent does for prudent young men of the present day.

But however it might be about the wills, and the chances that the Great
Reaper should overtake either of the cousins before the return-voyage,
Molly was a present and delightful reality; and that very evening Jack
made her another visit, justified 'Squire Tupper's presumption of the
former occasion, and amid Molly's tears and kisses, and big sighs and
little sobs, wished most heartily that the Sally Ann had made her
cruise, and that the future programme was ready to be carried into
effect. But then, he might be lucky enough to pay for waiting; and if
anything should happen to Philo in the interval,--of course, he hoped
there wouldn't, poor fellow; but accidents will happen, and if anything
so sad should occur, why, then he would be in a position to keep Molly
in the style she deserved and was accustomed to; and to buy out a share
in some nice little craft, that should bring home to them treasures as
rich, after their kind, as those that the ships of Tarshish brought to
King Solomon. But all this was mere conjecture, and Jack renounced it
with a feeling of reproach for having indulged it even for a moment.

The next day the Skylark sailed, Philo starting away from the old
house with his chest on a wheelbarrow, and leaving Aunt Betsy on the
doorstep, with her lips pressed very tight, and all the grim fatalism
of her religious faith making stern struggle against the natural
motherly instincts of her heart. For she did love Philo; and even the
reflection that he wasn't going to wait upon Jack, according to his
established usage, was lost in genuine grief for his departure.

Jack rowed out to the ship with him; and it would be doing both an
injustice to ask whether the cordial regrets of their separation were
mingled with any remembrance on the part of either, that in case they
should never meet again, one of them would be a few hundred dollars
richer for the death of the other.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the morning of May 5th, 1805, the Sally Ann sailed out of New London
harbor. On the evening of September 12th, 1808, she dropped anchor in
the very spot which she had left three years and four months before.

The first object, aside from the familiar shore, that met Jack's
recognition, as they sailed up the bay, was the ship Skylark, arrived
just six weeks previously, and the first man he saw, as he stepped on
land, was his Cousin Philo. There could hardly have been a more cordial
greeting than that which the bystanders witnessed; and yet a close
look into the heart of each might have disclosed a shade of something
strangely inconsistent with the outward semblance of happiness that
both wore.

For three years is a long time for some thoughts and impulses to
mature in, and day after day out at sea, with only the monotony of
the ever-undulating waves, and the easily exhausted resources of
variety to be found on shipboard, give great opportunity for brooding,
and such speculations as come naturally to people who are idle and
isolated. Seeds of the devil's planting possess a peculiarly vital
and fructifying property and are sure to come to maturity sooner or
later. One can easily imagine the thoughts that might have come to
these two young men in the long, solitary watches, come perhaps like
suggestions from the world outside, wafted on the wings of the wind,
or caught up in chance hints and scraps of sailor talk, but coming
nevertheless straight from the God of mammon, and, with their slow
canker working a steady and sure corruption. And yet, neither had
probably ever allowed these thoughts to take any such positive form as
to be capable of recognition. They were always, even in the moments of
their strongest domination, veiled in some perfectly innocent mental
expression, such as _if_ anything should happen, or _supposing_ such
an affliction,--meditations which the most sensitive conscience could
not possibly challenge, but which had a way of creeping in upon the
minds of these two far oftener than they would have done, but for the
existence of the wills.

Philo had an inborn love of lucre that was strong enough to give spice
and fascination to these ponderings of possibilities, while Jack was
constantly under the stimulus of his fondness for Molly, and desire to
make a handsome provision for her. And by these means, this indefinite
_if_, acknowledged at first only as a remote and dreaded contingency,
gradually took to itself substance, and began to figure in the plans
and projects of each as if it were almost a positive certainty. Always,
however, with the proviso that it was a very sad possibility, to be
devoutly deplored and hoped against, but still accepted and treated
as an actuality. And such an effectual devil-trap did this _if_
prove to be, that this meeting of the two cousins was, in the hidden
consciousness of each, in the nature of an unexpected shock that made a
sudden scattering of many schemes and purposes, all based, to a great
extent upon that wicked and fallacious _if_. And while all this was
lurking under the demonstrative warmth and gladness of their greeting,
probably no greater surprise nor horror could have befallen either
than to have had the veil of his self-deception for one moment lifted,
and to have had a single glimpse at the truth within him, or a single
intimation of the lives that they two should lead through the next half
century under the evil consciousness of that ever impending _if_.

But nothing of this supernatural character befell them, and after a few
warm greetings among the crowd on the pier, Jack hastened toward the
town. There were some changes in the familiar streets; buildings newly
built or altered, signs changed, and a barber's pole freshly painted.
All these he observed carefully as he walked on. When he came in sight
of 'Squire Tupper's, the radiant, blushing face of Molly disclosed
itself for an instant at the window, and speedily reappeared in a
flutter of delicious expectancy at the half-open door, for the news
of the arrival was already all over town. She gave a series of little
screams as Jack, with such a big black beard, and so very brown, came
up and saluted her with a strong bearish hug and a general smell of
whale-oil.

For Jack was considerably altered by reason of a certain manly
reticence that seemed to have grown on with his whiskers, in place
of the old boyish dash and frankness. Molly had become steady and
womanly, too, and now saw with vast pride the dignified way in which
Jack deported himself, how he met the 'squire's gracious welcome with
equal ease and affability, and talked of his voyage and its adventures
in such a quiet, modest way as showed him to be every inch a hero. And
when, after a short stay, he spoke of Aunt Betsy, and would not prolong
her waiting, Molly was quite resigned to let him go, contenting herself
with dwelling upon his improved looks, and indulging in charming little
maidenly reveries that centred in the anticipated joys and splendors
of a certain day which she had settled in her own mind as not far
distant.--Alas, Molly! Indulge your reveries, poor girl. Dream on,
and let your dreams be sweet. Play over and over in anticipation your
pretty little drama of white dresses and bridesmaids and wedding-cake,
and make it all as gay as possible, for little else shall you have by
way of reward for your many months of constancy to Jack Avery, save
his occasional attentions and the satisfaction of being for years the
wonder and mystery of all the gossips in town. Yes; for years. It may
as well be said now as any other time. The day when Molly's dreams
should be realized withdrew itself from time to time, and at length
took up its permanent position in the distant horizon of uncertainty.
"Colts grew horses, beards turned gray," but Molly Tupper was not
merged in Molly Avery, and there were no prospects of that consummation
more than had appeared for the last--well--we wont say how many years.
For tender and devoted as Jack was for a long time, there was a change
in him, that brought something of constraint and reserve between them,
and, with all her delicate feminine tact, she could never lead him
into any direct avowal of his wishes on the subject. And since Molly
was the very paragon of maidenly modesty and trusting devotion, she
came to indulge the conviction that Jack knew best, and had some wise
though inscrutable reason for delaying matters. And in time, even
those indefatigables, the village gossips, wearied of wondering and
surmising, at their perennial tea-parties, and the whole thing settled
down into a discouraging calm.

And yet Jack had no design of doing an injustice. He was really fond
of Molly, and fully intended to marry her. But for that ever-present
_if_, and the complications it involved, the event would have taken
place in due time. His reflections sometimes took a very painful turn,
as he pondered the subject. Here was this beautiful, affectionate girl,
to whom he had long been pledged, waiting his time with all the truth
and constancy of her loving nature. And here he was, living a dreary
and almost hopeless bachelor life, and standing in the way of any
advantageous match which might be otherwise open for her acceptance.
But, in case of his marriage, the will arrangement must be broken up,
and he should have the mortification of making that suggestion to
Philo; which seemed an almost impossible thing to do, for not a word
with reference to it had ever passed the lips of either since the
night when the agreement was made, and both had come to regard it with
something like a superstitious dread, as a theme whose discussion might
portend some fatal result.

And then, again, thought Jack, life was such an uncertainty, and a few
months of waiting might make a vast difference. Suppose, in his foolish
haste, he should throw up the will arrangement, and marry Molly, and
it should turn out, after all, that a little delay would have improved
their condition so much. Though life insurance was still unknown, and
its cool calculations and scientific averages would have been then
regarded as the extreme of impiety, and its risks as a wicked tempting
of Providence, Jack had made out in his own mind a tolerably accurate
table of averages, which showed quite conclusively against his cousin's
chances for longevity. It is hardly to be supposed that Philo had
neglected the same satisfactory proceeding, or that his results were
very different.

And thus this corrupting temptation, that is the root of all evil, had
crept upon these two noble young hearts distorting and defiling them
with its slow taint. And even now, either of them might truthfully have
questioned,--

    "What shall I be at fifty,
       If nature keeps me alive,
    If life is so cold and bitter,
       When I am but twenty-five?"

It would be too dreary a task to follow them year by year. Let us make
leaps and take glimpses at them by intervals.


_Twenty-five._ What we have seen.


_Thirty._ Aunt Betsy, weak and childish for many months, has gone to
her long home, with a final admonition to Philo that he must make Jack
the object of his best watch and care for the entire period of his
natural life.

Molly is still pretty, though a little thin and with a perceptible
sharpening of the elbows. Her color is not quite so high, nor her
figure so plump. She keeps house for the 'squire, with devotion and
good management that are the admiration of the town; continues to love
and trust in Jack with unabated fervor, though some young women, whom
she remembers to have held in her arms when they were babies in long
clothes, are long since married and have babies of their own. Still
she receives the sometime visits of her laggard lover with the same
grace and sweetness, confident that it will all come right in time; has
dropped the old familiar "Jack" for "John" or "Mr. Avery," which is a
hint that we ought to do so, too.

That unfathomable individual has been for some time a partner in a
grocery establishment, carrying on a good business, and realizing
fair profits; devotes much of his leisure to revising the imaginary
insurance table, and has brought it down considerably closer; maintains
a great regard for his Cousin Philo, and has much affectionate
solicitude for his health; gives occasionally to various benevolent
objects; is extremely regular in all his habits, and is generally
regarded as a very nice young man, who has turned out much better than
was expected of him.

Philo has purchased a farm in an adjoining town, and is improving it
with great care; is considered rather "near" in his dealings, and is
generally quite distant and reserved. Suspicions are entertained that
he has been disappointed in love, though nobody pretends to know the
particulars; always takes a great interest in his Cousin John, whom
he suspects of a tendency to dropsy. John, on his part, thinks Philo
consumptive.


_Thirty-five._ No great variation.

Both the farmer and the grocery-man are moderately prosperous; though
neither ventures much into speculation, because each is mindful of
possibilities in the future that will give great additional advantages.
The insurance table has been reduced to one of the exact sciences.

Molly, poor girl, has faded a shade or two. She still keeps house, and
raises an annual crop of old-maid pinks and pathetic-looking pansies,
together with sage and rosemary and sweet marjoram, which she dries
and puts in her closets and drawers, in order that their delicate,
homelike fragrance may keep out the moths and pervade her apparel.
But, as she moves so briskly and cheerfully about her little tasks, or
bends over some bit of sewing or other ladycraft, grave doubts intrude
themselves; and, if she were one whit less patient and self-forgetful,
she would sometimes throw aside all these little occupations, and,
like Jephthah's daughter, bewail her virginity. And, as she sits on
Sunday mornings in church, alone in the pew except the 'squire,--now
an old man who takes incredible quantities of snuff and drops the
hymn-book,--as she sits thus, and watches the happy matrons, no older
than she, coming in one by one, with their manly husbands and groups
of rosy children, there comes up, sometimes, a great rising in her
throat, which she is fain to subdue by taking bits of her own preserved
flag-root, which she carries always in her pocket. Or, when she sees
some pretty bride arrayed in the customary fineries, she sighs a
little, as the thought that she has lost her best bloom comes uneasily
to the surface; and then she sometimes looks timidly around to see if
Mr. Avery has come to church. But Mr. Avery isn't often there; the
insurance table takes up a good deal of his attention on Sundays.

Molly has long ceased to dream about the white dresses and
orange-blossoms. She would be glad, indeed, to make sure of a plain
dark silk and only two kinds of cake; and of late even her hopes of
these have become empty and melancholy as a last-year's birds-nest.
Yet she clings still to the shadow of her old coquette girlhood, and
rejuvenates herself with a new bonnet every spring, with as much
seeming cheerfulness and confidence as if she were fifteen instead of
thirty-five.


_Forty._ Decided changes.

'Squire Tupper rests in a grave marked by the most upright and
respectable of tombstones. And then all the chattering tongues, that
had before wagged themselves weary with gossip and conjecture, took a
renewed impetus, and it was settled in all quarters that Molly would
now be married as speedily as the proprieties of mourning would permit.
And John himself, it would seem, thought as much; for, without any
undue haste, he did make some motions looking that way. He bought a
new gig, and took Molly out to ride several times, besides sitting
very regularly in her pew at church. And, having thus evinced the
earnestness of his intentions, he made himself spruce one Sabbath
evening, and proceeded to call on her, with the express design of
asking her to fix the long-deferred day.

But what was his surprise on finding, as he came upon the stoop where
he and Molly had so often exchanged vows of eternal fidelity (which
had, indeed, been tolerably tested), the best parlor gayly alight as
in the days of his early courtship, and to hear a male voice in very
animated conversation with Molly.

Curiosity and pride alike forbade him to retreat; but how was his
surprise intensified to dismay when Molly, looking remarkably bright
and young, ushered him into the presence of Mr. Niles, a most
respectable gentleman resident in town, whose wife had been now three
months dead. He was as smiling and interesting as Molly. And presently
that outrageous damsel spoke up in the easiest way in the world,--

"You dropped in just the right time, _Cousin_ John, for now you shall
be the first one to be invited to our wedding. It is to come off a week
from next Wednesday in the evening. We have just settled the time, and
I shall have to stir around pretty lively to get ready."

It was all true, and there was no help for it. John Avery had presumed
a trifle too much upon the elastic quality of Molly's love for him, and
now, at the eleventh hour, her seraphic patience had given way, and let
him most decidedly and disgracefully down. When her father was dead and
she left in loneliness, and John still delayed to make direct provision
for altering the state of things, Molly felt that she had passed the
limit of forbearance, and with a sudden dash of spirit, in which she
seemed to concentrate all the unspoken pain and suppressed sense of
wrong that had struggled in her heart through all these years past, she
actually set her cap for this forlorn widower with six children, caught
him, rushed him through a violent courtship, evoked from his stricken
heart an ardent and desperate declaration, accepted, and married him,
all in the space of eight weeks.

And this was John's first intimation. Will any woman blame her if she
_had_ been a little studious to conceal the preliminaries from him,
till it should be time to acquaint him with the result, or if she
wasn't especially tender of his nervous sensibilities in making her
disclosure?

But he was bidden to the wedding, and must needs go,--which he did,
looking very glum, and kissing the bride with far less gusto than
he had done in former times. But it was a very festive occasion,
notwithstanding, for the bridegroom appeared in a blue coat with brass
buttons, and his hair was greased to preternatural glossiness, while
all the six children stood in a row, their stature being graduated
like a flight of steps, and the cake was all that Molly had ever
pictured it in the wildest flight of her imagination. And Molly herself
in a perfect cloud of gauze and blaze of blushes renewed her youth
prodigiously.

It was all over, and John Avery walked slowly homeward with a
glimmering consciousness that the things of this life in general were
rather shaky and uncertain,--indulging even a brief doubt as to the
reliability of his system of averages.


_Fifty._ Both of our old bachelors are beginning to grow gray and
morose. Philo stoops considerably, but is otherwise in excellent
physical preservation; reads all the medical books about abstinence and
frugality as the means of promoting long life, and practises rigidly
upon their principles. John is equally tough and temperate. Neither
shows the least sign of giving out for fifty years to come. Both have
increased in substance and have the reputation of being "forehanded."
The insurance table has been reduced to the very last fraction; but,
spite of its scientific accuracy, seems to be one of those rules that
are proved by their exceptions.

Mrs. Niles is the most devoted of wives, the perfection of
step-mothers, and rejoices, besides, in a chubby little boy of her own.
All the seven are united in neglecting no opportunity to rise up and
call her blessed.


_Sixty._ Ditto--only more so.


_Seventy._ The Ghosts?


Yes, indulgent reader, your patience hath had its perfect work, if it
hath brought you through all these preceding pages, in order that you
may witness this _denouement_ scene, in which the ghosts appear, with
such real and startling semblance in the eyes of some of our actors,
that, in comparison, the fifth act of a sensation drama would have
seemed mild as milk.

It is to see these supernatural visitants that we have brought you all
this long road. Let them show themselves but once, and we will then be
content, nay glad, to drop our curtain, retire from the footlights,
and whisk our actors back to the serene shades of private life. Grant
us, for a little time, the gifts of conjurers and "meejums." Let our
Asmodeus take you in charge, and show you things that are beyond the
range of mere mortal perception. Ubiquity shall be yours while you
journey into the land of spirits, and the name of the mischievous
wizard and terrible practical joker who conducts you thither shall be
Jack Niles.

For we omitted to mention, in its appropriate connection, that when
Molly found herself laid under the responsibility of naming her boy,
she was debarred from bestowing on him that of his father, since it
had been previously appropriated among the six, and her artistic
sense revolted from starting the poor, helpless innocent out in the
world under the honored designation of Zophar Tupper, which his
grandfather had borne with such eminent respectability. And so, being
influenced by the tender grace of motherhood, and desirous of showing
her kind feeling towards the man whom she had once so loved and had
now so freely forgiven, she felt that she could do it in no more
expressive way than by calling her baby John Avery. The compliment was
appreciated, and there may still be seen, among the family treasures of
the Niles tribe, a silver cup, of punchy form and curious workmanship,
marked with the inscription "J. A. N. from J. A."

Jack the second grew up a tolerably correct copy of the boyhood of
his namesake. He was gifted with the same gayety of temperament, and
facility for getting into scrapes. It had happened more than once that
heedless pranks of his had been leniently looked upon, and concealed
or remedied by the considerate care of John the elder, who, spite of
all the miserable warping and drying up of all his kindlier sympathies
under the influence of that ever-impending possibility, still seemed
to find a congenial satisfaction in the society of this frank, jolly
youth, whose presence brought with it such an echo of his own once
careless, joyous life.

But, spite of warnings and admonitions, Jack was still a sad boy, and
his favorite mode of working off his surplus activity was in devising
and executing practical jokes. His invention and audacity reached their
culmination in a most unprincipled scheme against the two venerable
Avery cousins.

Philo was now as sour, dry, and wizened an old man as dwelt in the
state of Connecticut, and those bleak hills and stony slopes do not
seem to produce very ripe and mellow old age. But Philo was known as an
especially hard and grasping old sinner, living a sort of dog's life,
all by himself, and too stingy to open his eyes wide. And it befell
once that he and his strange, barren mode of life were touched upon in
the evening talk of the Niles family, and then the mother, with her
old, modest sprightliness, went over the story of the two wills made
so long ago, and which must, in the natural course of human events,
soon come into effect. She had grown to be an old woman, this blessed
mother, but none of the loving ones, to whom her presence had been a
joy and consolation for so many years, ever thought of her gray hairs
or caps or spectacles, except as the emblems of more abundant peace and
benediction.

She tells her story now,--about the early days of the two old men,
whose withered faces, and bent forms, and eager, acquisitive eyes are
so familiar to them all,--and as she proceeds, Jack lapses from lively
attention to a mood of profound reflection, which is always a bad sign
for somebody.

In the evening twilight of the next day, a thin, yellow-haired lad,
mounted on a large, bony, sorrel horse, presented himself with an
appearance of great haste and urgency before the door of Philo Avery's
hermetic dwelling. After a vigorous though fruitless knocking, he made
his way to the rear of the small, dismal brown house, and spied an aged
figure advancing from an adjacent piece of woods, bending under the
weight of a large heap of brush.

"Be you Philo Avery?"

"Yes," answered the ancient, with evident suspicion.

"Then I've got a letter for you," said the thin youth, and, thrusting
it forth, sprang upon his high horse and clattered away down the road.

A letter! Philo stood and watched the messenger till he disappeared
from sight, filled with a vague sense that something strange was
about to break upon him. A letter sent to him was in itself a strange
occurrence. Who could write to him? and for what? Could it indeed
be the one thing so long looked for? and, if it were, how sudden!
Tremulous with excitement, he trotted into the house, and, after many
minutes of agitated fumbling, succeeded in lighting a candle. Then he
held the letter close and tried to examine the address, for Philo was
a victim to that unaccountable oddity, to which the greater portion of
human nature is prone, of making a close and critical scrutiny of any
unexpected or mysterious letter, before opening it for the conclusive
knowledge of its contents. But everything looks misty before his eyes,
and, after much squinting and peering, it occurs to him that he has
forgotten his spectacles. And at last, after more delay and fumbling,
he comes to the subject matter, very brief but comprehensive:--

"John Avery died last night. Funeral at ten o'clock to-morrow morning."

No date, no signature; but what of that? Over and over Philo read the
two lines, before his mind could really grasp the intelligence they
conveyed. It would have made a striking picture,--that withered, bent
figure, in its coarse, well-worn clothes, stooping in the dim, lonely
room, and the hungry eyes devouring that bit of news. It had happened
at last, this thing for which he has waited almost half a century. How
many hundred times he had imagined his own feelings when it should
come to him, and how different it all was! The old man sinks into a
chair and gives himself up to revery. And sitting thus, there come
stealing upon him remembrances of long past scenes. He thinks of the
time when he and John were boys together, and of all his mother's love
and care of both; of the parting on the deck of the Skylark, and their
long voyage. And then came the slow-moving panorama of all the dull,
dreary, barren years that dragged their slow length onward between his
present self and all these boyish memories. The hours pass unnoted as
the poor old man goes through the successive stages of his retrospect,
and finally arouses himself with a start when the candle, that has been
burning dim and flickering, gives a dying glare and goes out in the
socket. And then he arises, cramped and stiff, and creeps trembling
to bed as the cocks are crowing for midnight. But the newly-made heir
cannot sleep. Haunting images visit him, as the Furies surrounded
Orestes. At length he rises and seeks the repository of his valuables.
He takes out the will, and though he has known it, every word by heart,
for a whole generation's lifetime, he reads it mechanically over.
How strange the lines look, and the name of _Zophar Tupper_, written
with the old magisterial flourish! Here, too, are the signatures of
the witnesses, and he finds himself wondering why John never married
Molly after all, and, even now, does not dream that he himself was the
obstacle, by his disagreeable persistency in living; for our mortality
is the last and severest lesson that we learn in life.

Philo wonders if it is not almost daylight, and looks out at the east
window for the first streak of dawn; reflects that he must start early,
for it is nine miles to the town, and his old horse is not over-active.
He will have to dress up, too, for the funeral. How strange! To pass
away the time, he begins to get out his clothes and lay them ready.
From the depths of a great red chest he brings up a pair of good, new
pantaloons, that he has not worn for ten years, and then a coat to
match, and a fine shirt with a ruffled bosom, that Aunt Betsy made for
him while she was still young enough to do such things. And, lastly, he
bethinks himself of a pair of black linen gloves that he bought on the
occasion of the good woman's funeral, and from the darkest corner of
the chest he fishes them up. A little dingy and rotten they are, to be
sure, but still in wonderful preservation, though they give way in two
or three spots when he puts them carefully on.

In these little occupations he wears away the hours till the darkness
begins to grow gray, and as soon as he can see sufficiently he goes to
the pasture and leads his astonished old horse to the door. Then comes
the terrible process of shaving;--and what spectacle is more forlorn
than that of an old bachelor trying to shave a long, stiff beard by
a weak light and with cold water? Even this is at length achieved;
and then, after much brushing and other unaccustomed elaborations of
toilet, he places the will carefully in his pocket, and, drawing on
the rusty gloves, takes a final survey of himself before starting. The
mouldy little mirror reflects a thin, yellow face dried into long,
fine wrinkles, straggling gray locks, and watery, pale-blue eyes. The
old-fashioned clothes make the thin, stooping figure more awkward and
spindling, and a high, tight cravat completes the scarecrow effect
of the whole. Still Philo has done his best, and is satisfied, as
he mounts his ancient steed, that he presents the very likeness of
respectable sorrow.

And jogging decorously onward, as becomes his dismal errand, he ponders
how different this morning is from all the other mornings of his life.
In the silver-gray dawn there come back all the strange sentiments that
had arisen out of the surprise and excitement of the previous midnight.
A thick mist creeps up from a little stream that runs by the road-side,
and its damp, clinging chill seems to strike through and saturate his
very vitals. It occurs to him that the road is very lonely, and the few
scattered farm-houses very dreary and inhospitable-looking, for it is a
cloudy morning, and people are not yet stirring.

All the influences and associations of the hour are dreary and
funereal. He tries to fix his mind upon the inheritance into which he
is about to step, but no bright, alluring visions rise at his call, and
his thoughts are either perpetually recurring to the early memories
that so affected him the night before, or else to the suggestion of his
own form lying stiff and cold for burial in the place of his cousin's.
All the well-known landmarks of the familiar way start into new and
strange aspects; and he recoils in affright from an old guideboard that
has stood in exactly the same place for forty years, but now appears
like some spectral gallows that spreads its arms in ghostly invitation.
He twists and pinches himself as he rides along, to be assured that he
is in the world of realities; but the night's experiences have unstrung
his aged nerves, and mind and body quiver helplessly alike.

And now, from the brow of a little eminence, he perceives a gig slowly
advancing from below, and, as it nears him, he becomes conscious of a
great familiarity in its appearance. It is certainly very like the one
that John bought so long ago, before Molly was married, and which he
has used ever since. Curiously, too, it is drawn by a white horse, and
John has had a white horse for ages past. This is indeed a coincidence.
The thing comes noiselessly nearer. Oh, horror of horrors! It is John's
own self,--his form,--his features,--his old brown hat,--John indeed,
but deadly pale, and with wide, wild eyes fixed in a terrible stony
gaze. No natural look, no nod of recognition, but only that hideous,
glassy stare as he comes silently along, riding up out of the white fog.

Philo can neither move nor cry out. He would turn and escape, but his
stiffened hand refuses to draw the rein, and his horse has become, like
himself, rigid and motionless.

Prayers, oaths, and invocations rush, in a confused huddle, through his
bewildered brain, as he sits and gazes, unable to remove his eyes from
that horrid sight, and while he is vainly seeking to frame his lips to
some sort of utterance, the wraith itself breaks the silence.

"Philo." The tone is broken and distant.

Trembling and choked, he tries to answer. The blood rushes to his face
and almost blinds him, and he stammers out,--

"John Avery,--aren't you dead?"

"Are you?" asks the wraith.

"I--I--I don't know," says Philo, and he didn't.

The ghost rises, steps down from the gig, and extends his hand. It is
very cold and clammy, but still a sound, fleshly hand, though quite
hard and shrunken from its early proportions.

"Thank God!" shouts Philo Avery.

"_Thank God!_" responds John Avery, fervently.

"How came you here?" asks Philo, still a little incredulous as to the
real mortality of his companion.

"On my way to attend your funeral," says John.

"Why, no,--that can't be,--I'm going to yours."

"Heavens!" exclaims John.

"I guess it's a hoax," suggests Philo.

John takes out a letter and reads aloud: "_Philo Avery died last night.
Funeral at ten o'clock to-morrow morning._"

"Just like mine, except the name," says Philo. "So you thought I was a
ghost."

"Didn't know what else you could be. You looked queer enough for one,"
replied John.

"Well, I've lived long enough to see ghosts, but this is the first of
that kind of gentry that ever showed themselves to me," cried Philo,
in his high, cracked voice, and actually convulsed with laughter. John
joined in, and the two ghosts made the whole region alive.

"It must have been somebody that knew about the wills," said John, when
they had grown calm.

"Yes," replied Philo; "and what cursed things they have been?"

"Cursed--for both of us," said John.

"Have you got it along with you?"

"Yes, of course,--have you?" answered John, reddening faintly.

"Why, yes,--and here it goes," cried Philo, with sudden energy, pulling
it out, and shredding it in strips. John was not to be outdone. With
equal eagerness he pulled his out, and, in a few seconds, both the
wills were fluttering in fragments among the elderberry bushes by the
road-side.

"What a contemptible old screw I've been!" exclaimed John,
penitentially, as the insurance table came into his mind.

"No worse than I," said Philo, thinking of all his drudging, grovelling
years.

"Why, do you know I've wished you dead," burst out John.

"Well, suppose you have,--I've done the same by you," answered Philo.

"May God forgive us both."

"_Amen_," said Philo, solemnly.

"And help us in the future," continued John.

"Amen again," said Philo.

The muffled clatter of a horse's hoofs sounded through the fog, and
presently the twinkling face of Jack Niles beamed upon the ghostly
couple. Looking with well simulated astonishment on the group, the
empty gig, and his venerable namesake standing in the middle of the
road, Jack paused and begged to know what was the trouble, and whether
he could be of service.

"I believe it was you," said Philo, looking at the mischievous lad with
sudden prescience.

"I know 'twas," said John.

And though Jack never owned it, that was a conviction that never
departed from the minds of the two, and when they died, long after, he
found himself bound by substantial reasons to remember the Two Ghosts
of New London Turnpike.



DOWN BY THE SEA.



DOWN BY THE SEA.

[Illustration]


There is a lonely old house situated close down by the sea, in one
of the most secluded yet lonely nooks, not far from one of the most
noted resorts on the seaboard; an old gray stone house, showing the
marks of the many wild storms which have beat upon it in all the long
years which have passed over it; a house whose bareness and desolation
are enlivened but little by the heavy-trailing ivy which creeps over
a portion of it and in which many wild birds build their nests. Old
as it is, it seems never to have been finished,--rather to have been
left without any of the last touches which complete a building, and to
have thus stood for many years, with the wild winds and storms of the
coast beating against it. Here and there a shutter is torn from its
hinges, and lies where it fell under the window. The point is entirely
gone from cornice and colonnade, and the floor of the latter, which
had never been painted, is old and worm-eaten. The grounds about it
are an intricate tangle of brushwood. Flowering shrubs, which had been
planted here and there, have grown up into wild and unshapely trees.
Rose-bushes and wild vines choke up the paths, and the gates and fences
are broken and dilapidated. There is one path, which leads down to
the beach, which has been kept open, and has, apparently, been often
trodden; but apart from this there seems to be but little sign of life
around the old gray house. There is, indeed, one red-curtained window
upon the side which looks out to sea, and here a bright light is always
burning at night, and all night, and the sailors have learned to watch
for it as for a signal; and the place is known to them as the Lone-Star
House. Let us watch around the house, and perhaps it will have a story
to tell,--such places often do have, lonely and deserted as they seem;
stories often full enough of human love and heart-break. "It looks as
though it might be haunted," say the gay parties who ride by it from
the fashionable resort a few miles away. Yes, and there is no doubt but
what it is.

    "All houses wherein men have lived and died
       Are haunted houses. Through the open doors
    Phantoms unseen upon their errands glide
       With feet that make no noise upon the floors."

It is growing sunset now, and the sky is blossoming most gloriously
with many-colored clouds, as out of the door of the old house a woman
glides and takes the beaten path to the beach. A great rough and
shaggy dog follows her, and the two together walk thoughtfully along.
They go down where the great waves are tumbling and tossing upon the
rocks, and pace rapidly up and down the shore, looking far out over
the green waters with their fleecy crowns of foam. She is a woman of
middle-age, verging near upon forty, one would say, tall, and straight
as an arrow, with large, unfathomable gray eyes and a massive coronal
of glossy hair, streaked here and there with gray. She wears a cheap,
dark dress; but she has a handsome scarlet shawl around her shoulders,
of the most superb tint of which you can conceive; and she looks like a
woman who would love rich and gorgeous coloring; and, indeed, it is one
of her passions. In draperies, in articles of dress where such colors
are admissible, and more than all in flowers and leaves, she loves the
deepest and richest tints. Every night the sunset is a revelation to
her. She studies the gorgeous castles and cathedrals of gold, which are
builded in the western heavens with a glory which the temple of Solomon
could never attain; and she watches, from her little turret window up
in the old gray house yonder, every morning for the rising of the great
high-priest in his garments resplendent. There was, indeed, something
warm and rich and tropical in her blood, albeit it sprung from the cold
New England fount. She reminded one, as much as anything, of

  "The wondrous valley hidden in the depths of Gloucester woods
   Full of plants which love the summer blooms of warmer latitudes,
   Where the Arctic birch is broided by the tropic's flowery vines,
   And the silver-starred magnolia lights the twilight of the pines."

She walks upon the beach till the sunset has burned low in the red
west, and then takes the path back to the house. When about half-way
across the garden, she turns off a little from the main path, and,
putting back the bushes with her hands, makes her way for a few paces
and stops at a little grave,--a child's grave,--tufted thick with
purple pansies, sprinkled with white daisies. She sits down for a
moment beside it, plucks one or two spires of grass which have sprung
up among the flowers, then hurriedly leaves it, calling her dog after
her, and going into the house, where the light soon shines in the
seaward-looking window. The woman's name is Agnes Wayland, and here she
has lived alone for now nearly twenty years,--alone, except once in
a while of a summer she takes a quiet boarder or two, who see little
of her and know less, and of whom she esteems it a great pleasure to
be well rid, when the autumnal equinox comes on. Winter and summer,
in storm and sleet, rain and shine, she stays shut in the dim old
house all day, and emerges only towards evening for her walk upon the
beach, and her peep at the little grave, with its coverlet of pansies
in summer and its white drapery of snow in winter. Upon the night of
which I have been writing, she made her way back, as I have said,
into her own room,--a room where her prevailing tastes could quickly
be discovered. A peculiar depth and brilliancy of coloring pervaded
everything; carpet and curtains were of the same vivid crimson, and the
large bay-window filled with plants was gorgeous as a festal-room of
the fairies. Everything was old and much worn, and had a look of old
but not faded splendor. A few books occupied a cabinet in one corner,
and a piano, which was always locked, stood in another. An easy-chair
was drawn up to a little stand, near the window, and upon it lay an
open Bible. This was the place where she sat and read hour by hour
and day by day, always from the Bible, only varying her occupation by
weary hours over intricate and elaborate pieces of fancy-work,--more
beautiful and marvellous than such pieces of work ever were made
before, but always things which required only mechanical kind of
ingenuity, and needed genius and taste only in the coloring,--and these
she sold at the nearest town, and so earned her daily bread. After she
had taken her accustomed seat this evening, she was startled by a ring
at the door,--a sound so unusual that she trembled like a leaf as she
took the lamp and started to answer the summons. She had got half-way
down the stairs, when she stopped, and called lightly to the dog,
who was beside her in a moment, and together they opened the door. A
grave-looking elderly gentleman stood there, who inquired if he had the
honor of addressing Mrs. Wayland.

"That is my name, sir," she answered, not opening the door or bidding
him enter.

"And mine is Ashly, madam. I am a clergyman, living in Boston, and
I am seeking a quiet place, near the sea, in which to spend the
summer. I have been told in the village yonder that you sometimes
receive a boarder, and I think your place will just suit me. I have
recommendations, if you wish."

But Mrs. Wayland did not need them. She was too good a judge of
character, despite her long seclusion, not to see at a glance that he
was what he asserted, and that, if she must have boarders at all, he
was just what she wanted. So she invited him in, without relaxing a
particle in the coldness of her demeanor, and, giving him a seat in a
cheerless-looking and scantily-furnished dining-room, told him in as
few words as possible what she would do for him and for how much she
would do it,--a straightforwardness which raised her very highly in
the reverend doctor's estimation, although she designed, if she had a
design in the matter, quite a contrary effect. She had sometimes had
some trouble in keeping her boarders at a sufficient distance to suit
her, and she had found it necessary upon their first arrival to have it
distinctly understood that they were to expect no sort of companionship
from her; that she gave them a room and their board, such as it was,
and she never took any pains to make it good or attractive, and that
that was all she wanted of them. But Dr. Ashly had a great horror of
a bustling and gossipy landlady, and thought he had found a perfect
treasure; and when she had shown him the room he could have, if he
liked, he eagerly agreed to take it, and said if she had no objection
he would take possession forthwith, and not go back to the village till
morning. To this she assented indifferently, and soon left him alone,
calling the one house-maid to get him some supper, and, retiring to
her own room, was soon buried in her accustomed thoughts, and scarcely
aware of his existence. And as landlady and lodger were equally pleased
to let each other alone, there was little intercourse between them for
several weeks. But one night, when the doctor had been for a long walk
on the beach, he saw, as he was returning, Mrs. Wayland, in her usual
evening exercise, pacing up and down the beach, and was struck by her
appearance as she walked thus, and stood still for a time observing
her, and followed her at last, at a little distance, while she made her
visit to the child's grave. His kind heart was very much touched by the
sight, and he determined to talk with her and give her his sympathy
and friendship, if she needed them. So he gathered some of the pansies
off from the grave, and, holding them in his hand, went into tea. Mrs.
Wayland had laid aside her shawl and was already seated at the table.
They usually had little conversation at these times, and that of the
most commonplace character. This evening, as he came through the door
and she caught sight of the flowers in his hand, she exclaimed, in a
quick, excited way, "You have been to my grave!"

She spoke as though he had intruded upon her most sacred privacy, and
he answered, apologetically, "Yes, I have visited the little grave in
the garden. I hope I have not intruded. I have a little grave in the
churchyard at home, and such spots are very sacred to me."

Agnes Wayland was a lady, and she would not have been guilty of a
rudeness for the world, so she hastened to reply,--

"Oh, no, sir, you have not been guilty of intrusion, but you are the
first one who has ever visited my grave, and I have watched it so
fondly for so many years that I almost felt jealous that any other eyes
should ever look upon it."

"And I have not only looked upon it," said the minister, very softly
and benignantly, "but I have dropped a tear upon it."

"That is something that I have never done."

"Then I pity you with all my heart, my friend. If I had not been able
to weep over my child's grave, I think my heart would have broken."

"Mine, sir, was broken before the child died," and, as she said this,
she arose hastily and left the room.

The minister was much interested and full of sympathy for this lonely
woman, whose lot was so isolated, and as he lay that night and listened
to the deep, hollow roar of the sea, he thought of the great deeps of
the human heart, and the fierce passions which were ever tossing it,
and of the great calm of death.

A few days after he ventured as delicately as he could to return to the
subject, by referring to the little girl he had lost, and of how her
mother had followed her, but a short time before, to the better land.

"You seem very cheerful, sir," said Agnes Wayland, in a quick,
impetuous way, "and yet you have had trouble, it seems."

"Yes, madam, I have had some very severe and dreadful trials; but I am
very happy and hopeful in spite of them all, for I know that now they
will soon be ended, and that I shall recover all that I have lost when
I reach the heavenly land."

"How do you know that? I don't know it. When I buried my only child
down in the garden there, I thought I had lost him forever. That was
why, in my stony grief, no tear ever fell upon his grave. I have been
trying these fifteen years to believe what you say you believe; but
it has no consolation for me. God took my child away from me in my
bitterest need, and he took him forever. Was it a good God who did
that?"

Her voice was cold and rigid, and a pallor as of death was upon her
face as she paused for a reply.

"A good God, madam! and whom he loveth he chasteneth!"

"No, indeed, sir, I don't believe that. He didn't love me, and I didn't
love him, and I don't love him now,--hate him, rather. He has tried me
too sorely."

"My dear friend, you know not what you say. I beseech you, do not
blaspheme your God."

"I have only said, sir, for once, what I have been thinking all these
dreadful years. When I buried my child down there, I did not believe in
any God for years. I thought some vile and fiendish Fate was pursuing
me. Then you ministers were always saying to me, 'Pray;' and I prayed.
They said to me 'Study the word of God;' and I studied it. It has been
my only study for fifteen years, and it has brought me no consolation
yet."

"But you have found God in it,--have you not? You do not deny a God?"

"I have found a God in it certainly, but only a God who has separated
me eternally from all I love."

"My dear friend, I assure you, you have not yet found the true God, if
you believe this."

"I have found I verily believe the God of the Bible, and he has said
the wicked shall go away into everlasting punishment; and I am the most
wicked of all God's creatures."

Here Mrs. Wayland left him again standing upon the colonnade, and
hurried rapidly from him down the path which led to the sea. Her
conversation had revived in her heart all the strong passions which
slumbered there, and which she usually held in close repression. As
she paced wildly up and down the beach, feeling in her nearness to
the sea a sort of comfort as though the great ocean were her friend,
she thought over her whole lonely life. She thought of her happy and
brilliant youth, of its gayeties, its triumphs, and its great hopes;
she beheld herself the petted darling of a joyous circle of companions
and friends. She thought of her journeys in distant lands, whither a
loving father had taken her, and of all the delights of those years
when they had wandered through all the sunny climes of southern Europe,
and so away on to the Orient, where she had trodden with pilgrim feet
all the sacred places of that Holy Land. It was there she had first
met her husband; and she dwelt with fondness upon every little incident
which memory recalled of her intercourse with him there, and of how
they had sailed together upon their return to their native land. It was
then she had learned to love the ocean. In those long days, when they
were out upon the trackless deep, they had learned together the sweet
mystery of loving. Night after night they had paced the deck together,
gazing out upon the moonlighted expanse, and watching the breakers rise
and fall. The long voyage had been a season of enchantment. It had
passed into her being, and become a part of her inmost life forever.
She had one of those natures to whom such things come but once in a
lifetime. When they had reached home, they had been married, and, after
a year or two of pleasant married life, they had built the old gray
house of which I have told you, designing to pass their summers down
there within hearing of the grand, eternal anthem of the sea. How well
she remembered the hurry they were in to get down here,--so great a
hurry that they could not stop to have the house entirely finished, and
so in early May they had furnished two or three rooms, and lived here
in a wild trance of what seems to her now, as she looks back upon it,
perfect bliss. Here they wandered up and down the beach together hand
in hand for hours and beheld the waters glowing in the early tints of
sunrise, and reflecting the gorgeous splendors of sunset, and rippling
and shimmering in the bewildering moonlight. Then she thinks of how
gayeties began up at the village yonder, and how they began to see
much company and to mingle in all the excitements of watering-place
life. Here they had met the beautiful syren who had stolen her husband
from her. With what angry hate she dwells upon the soft, bewildering
beauty of that woman,--her rounded, dimpled form, her golden hair,
and the languishing blueness of the dreamy eyes! She seemed in all
her bewitching beauty, to the eye of Agnes Wayland, more hateful and
hideous than a fiend. She had fascinated Mortimer Wayland almost from
their first meeting. Of a dreamy, sensuous temperament, and a weak
will, and with no great power of principle at his back, the artful and
wicked woman had ensnared him with her wiles, and in the meshes of her
charms he had forgotten the grand and queenly wife, who to every eye
was so infinitely the superior of one for whom he was deserting her,
and the little year-old baby, who was just learning to lisp "father" to
him as he fondled him.

Of the wild tempest which tossed her soul at this time she dreaded to
think even now. It had been so near to madness that it was a terror
to her yet. But pride had always been one of her ruling passions,
and, instead of pleading with him with a woman's tenderness, as some
might have done, she had treated him with coldness and disdain, and
with reproachful scorn had goaded him on to take the last step in the
dreadful drama.

He had deserted her, and with the blue-eyed woman had sailed for a
distant land. Never since that time, now nearly twenty years, had
she left, except for her lonely walks, the old gray house. She shut
herself up like a hermit, and with wild and bitter grief cursed herself
and her God. Down into the deepest gloom of despair she went, where
never a single ray of heavenly light and comfort reached her. Her
child, indeed, she had left; but although she loved him with all the
concentrated passion of her nature, he seemed little comfort to her.
She brooded continually upon the darkness of her fate, and upon the
fathomless depths of despair into which she was sinking.

Then the child died, and her last human interest went; and she made
its little grave in the tangled garden, and every year covered it
thick with flowers. But in her heart no white blossom of hope had ever
sprung up, no purple pansy of royal magnanimity and forgiveness had yet
blossomed there. And this night, after so many years, she was living
it all over again with tragic interest, and no softened feelings of
relenting or forgiveness entered her stern heart.

"He is very happy," she thought to herself as she wended her way back
and stood by her little grave; "he is very happy, for he can stand
by his child's bed and weep; and so could I, if I had his hope. O my
darling, my darling, darling boy!" and she stooped down, and threw her
arms caressingly over the little mound.

"Oh, if God would only, only let me meet you once more! O my God, why
cannot I forgive and be forgiven?"

"My sister," said the kind old man, coming up and hearing her last
words; and feeling how vain it would be to reason or expostulate with
this woman,--"let us pray;" and, almost before she knew it, they were
kneeling by the little one's grave; and before the old minister had
concluded his simple but touching prayer, the woman, whose heart had
been stone for so many years, was weeping, weeping with passionate sobs
like a little child; and when he had concluded, she arose, and without
a word made her way into the house, and soon the red light shone in the
little window.

Somehow after this a more gentle feeling crept into the heart of Mrs.
Wayland. A softer light came into her eye, and a more gentle tremor
was in her voice as she addressed the old minister, who saw that she
was touched, but was too wise to meddle farther than was absolutely
necessary with the good work which he was sure was going on.

It was not many weeks from the evening of which I have spoken, when, as
she was returning from her evening walk, she beheld a scene of bustle
around the door of her house; a carriage was driving away, and a trunk
stood upon the steps, while some figures seemed just entering the door
whom she could not distinguish in the gathering darkness. "Dr. Ashly
has some friends come," she thought, with a feeling of impatience;
"what shall I do with them?" and she walked quickly to the house. As
she turned into the cheerless dining-room,--the only room which was
ever used below,--she saw, stretched upon a couch, the figure of a man
propped up by pillows, which seemed to have been hastily brought, and
looking pallid and wan. She walked quickly forward, but when she had
reached the middle of the room, she stopped like one transfixed, and,
with wild eyes full of eagerness and something like joy, looked about
her.

"Mortimer Wayland!" she exclaimed at last, grasping the table for
support. "Why come you here?"

"I have come home to die, Agnes. I could not die anywhere else; I have
been for years trying to do so,--but God would not let me. I was forced
to come and seek your forgiveness, and God will not take me until I
have it; yet I dare not ask you to grant it; it is too much!" At this
the sick man shut his eyes wearily, and said no more.

"Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who trespass against us,"
solemnly said the voice of the old minister, who was sitting near the
couch upon which the man lay.

"Oh, sir, you cannot know what it is for me to ask of her. Most wrongs
may be forgiven; but mine against her is so great that she cannot
forgive me, I am sure, unless God helps her. I have been suffering for
it these twenty years,--trying to expiate it; but I have failed. I have
suffered, I have struggled, I have almost died many times, sir; but I
could not atone for my sin, and God could not forgive it, nor can she."

Then the minister's voice was heard again, and it said, "Sister,
remember the little child's grave in the garden, and forgive and be
forgiven."

Then Mrs. Wayland, who had stood like a statue all this time, rushed
forward, and, kneeling by the couch poured forth her whole heart in a
torrent of passionate words,--

"O my husband, my darling, my only love, forgive me for my coldness and
my scorn! forgive me for not helping you to withstand temptation,--I,
who was always the stronger! It was I who drove you away, and for it
I have suffered and agonized all these years. I have been so hard, so
wicked and cruel, so unpitying and unforgiving, that I have had no rest
or peace night or day. It is so blessed to feel that I forgive you! so
joyful to think that you will forgive me,--that God will forgive us
both!" and the woman laid her head upon his breast, and rained upon his
lips a thousand passionate kisses.

Then Dr. Ashly would have left them; but the woman called him back.

"Share in our great joy, dear friend," she said; "for, had it not
been for you, this would never have been. A few weeks ago I should
never have received him whom I loved even as I had always loved, but
whom my pride would have banished from my door in the face of all his
pleadings; but you have softened my heart, and to you we owe this
joyful hour. And now you must help me," she continued, with a woman's
thoughtful care, "to carry him to my own room upstairs, which is the
only comfortable room I have; and there I can nurse him up, and soon
have him well again."

And so he was carried up to the room where she had sat alone so many
years, and was soon as comfortable as womanly care could make him.

"How natural it all looks here!" he said, glancing around the room.
"It is just as it used to be,--isn't it, darling? And I remember it so
well,--furnished, to suit you, in crimson, which you still like, as I
see by your shawl."

"Yes," she said, with a little blush; "I have always worn it for your
sake. You used to say it was just the color to suit me, and I have worn
it all these years."

"Darling," said he, looking all about the room, "I see no traces of any
one but yourself here. Where is our child,--our little baby boy?"

Agnes Wayland went softly up to him, and put her arms around his neck,
as she said,--

"I thought, a few weeks ago, that he was down in the garden under a bed
of pansies; but now I know he is in heaven, where you and I will soon
join him."



WHY MRS. RADNOR FAINTED.



WHY MRS. RADNOR FAINTED.

[Illustration]


You have seen hazel eyes,--have you not? I don't mean the quiet
nut-brown ones, you meet every day, but _bona fide_ hazel eyes,
opaline in their wonderful changes,--that make you wonder, when you
turn away from them, what color they will have assumed when you next
look into their depths; for such eyes have depths, sometimes glowing
emerald-like, with a steady, lambent flame, now gleaming with a soft
lustre like pearls, or melted into sapphires by tears.

Such eyes had Mrs. Radnor,--cold, beautiful woman that she was;
insensible, I was about to say, only I remember her fainting at sight
of a pond-lily. How well I recollect the day! There was a party of us
passing the midsummer at the old Richmond farm, a few miles from ----;
Mr. and Mrs. Ferdinand Radnor among the rest. The latter, a haughty
statuesque woman, with nothing save her wonderful eyes to indicate
anything approaching a heart,--lovely as a dream, yet with beauty
that repelled even in its fascination. Such hair, too, as she had,
rolling in golden ripples down to her slender feet;--fine as silk, it
was brown in the shade, but glowed and intensified in the light till it
seemed as if a thousand stray sunbeams were imprisoned in the radiant
mass. We always called her the "Princess with the golden locks." You
remember her in the fairy tale,--do you not? That one, I mean, whose
hair was the wonder and admiration of the whole world, and whose lovers
delighted to bind themselves with fetters so exquisite; yet when they
strove playfully to throw them off, they found themselves with gyves
and manacles of steel, under which they were powerless.

Mr. Radnor was urbane and gentlemanly; but, possessing only half a
soul, he divided the interest of that equally between admiring his own
person and annoying Mrs. Radnor by his attentions.

It was a sultry July day, and we were all of us on the rose-terrace
back of the house, some dozing,--I pretending to read, though all the
time watching the "Princess" furtively from the shelter of my book.

She had a pile of cushions spread with a scarlet shawl, and, like an
Eastern beauty, lay languidly upon them. Her dress of palest blue was
open at the throat, and her hands toyed listlessly with the heavy cord
that confined her waist. There was a blush-rose tint on her usually
pale cheek, and her hair, half escaped from its little net, lay like
flecks of gold on the scarlet cover. I think I never saw repose, utter
and perfect, before.

    "Down through her limbs a drooping languor crept,
     Her head a little bent, and on her mouth
     A doubtful smile dwelt like a clouded moon
     In a still water."

Suddenly the charmed silence was broken, for round the corner of the
house came Mr. Radnor, with his arms filled with superb water-lilies,
which he threw in a fragrant shower over his wife. He was saluted with
exclamations of wonder and delight, and while he was replying, I had
leisure to observe his wife.

The change was frightful: an ashen pallor had spread itself over her
face, she was panting violently for breath, and, at the same time,
attempting to clasp both hands before her eyes. I cried aloud and
sprang towards her,--but it was too late.

Mrs. Radnor had fainted!

At the same time, Anne Richmond threw herself upon her knees beside
her, and, hastily gathering the snowy flowers from her dress and bosom,
where they had fallen, thrust them into Mr. Radnor's arms, saying
hurriedly, as she did so,--

"Pray, pray, take them away, sir, or your wife will die."

He obeyed blankly, and together Anne and I applied the usual
restoratives, and, after some minutes, were rewarded by a faint color
in her lips, then a quivering of the mouth, and I heard her murmur
faintly,--"I saw him again, Anne. Oh, those dreadful flowers!"

Then her eyes opened,--those wonderful eyes, that were then almost
startling in their blackness. She looked wildly round her for a
single second, and, catching sight of me, was herself again,--haughty,
self-sustained as before, even though lying helpless as a child on Anne
Richmond's arms.

And, after all, pride is better for a fainting woman than all the sal
volatile in the world, thought I, receiving her languidly uttered
thanks, and retreating.

We saw no more of Mrs. Radnor that day. Her husband talked loudly
of the extreme heat; and no one but the two who had observed the
expression of her face when the perfume of the lilies first met her
senses, knew anything to the contrary. As for me, I was restless and
unquiet. There had been from the first a nameless something about Mrs.
Radnor which had excited my deepest interest, and now my imagination
was busy. One thing the painful scene of the morning had convinced me
of, and that was, that some time in the past she had been quickened
into life by the breath of love, and the flowers had played a terrible
part in overwhelming her with memories possibly long buried in the
deepest recesses of her heart; for--I acknowledged it--Mrs. Radnor had
a heart. I never doubted it from the moment in which her face changed
from its quiet repose into that torturing expression of fear that it
wore when she fainted.

"Anne," I said that evening to Miss Richmond, as I drew her into my
chamber after the party had separated for the night, "tell me something
of Mrs. Radnor. I am sure you are in some way concerned in her past."

"Yes," she answered, with a little, fluttering sigh; "there is one page
of her life that no one living has ever read but myself. Perhaps I do
wrong in consenting to turn it for you; but it may be a warning to you,
child. To-morrow we will go down to the lake together, and I will tell
you what has changed Mrs. Radnor, from the brightest, sunniest girl
that ever lived, to the breathing statue that she has been for ten
years."

She sighed again, as she kissed my cheek, and then I heard her
footsteps die away in the long corridor.

My room was in the second story, and directly over those occupied by
the Radnors, which opened on a balcony leading down by a little flight
of steps to the lawn.

The night was sultry and still. All the usual bustle and stir of
retiring had ceased, and, extinguishing my candle, I curled myself on
the broad window-seat, watching the stars that seemed to smile in the
hazy atmosphere. It was late,--nearly midnight, I think; and I drank
with delight the heavy fragrance which that hour always seems to draw
from the heliotrope, great masses of which grew under my windows. I do
not know how long I sat there. Waking dreams, such as flit lightly in
the tender stillness of summer nights, wooed me with delicious repose.
I fancied myself beneath Eastern skies, and the faint stir of a bird
in a neighboring tree seemed to me the pluming of a bulbul's wing;
and through the gilded lattice of the harem two starry eyes--and they
were Mrs. Radnor's--glittered and gleamed. The soft running of a brook
through the grounds was the lapping of waves against Venice stones. I
heard the twinkle of a guitar, and, framed by carved, gray stone work,
her rippling golden hair stirred in the night-breeze.

Then everything faded, and I slept a moment or an hour,--I cannot say
which, so softly had the hours passed in softest sandals,--and it was
with a start that I sat upright and heard, with a keen thrill of fear,
a faint click, as of a drawn bolt, and immediately the distant bell of
St. Michael's pealing out.

One--two; and with the dying of the second stroke there was a rustling
sound beneath my window, and then a shuddering whisper,--"My God! my
God! have mercy upon me!"

Shrouded by a half-closed blind, I peered out, and, kneeling on the
balcony below, I saw a white figure illuminated by the strange, weird
light of a waning moon. The face was uplifted, and the expression might
have been that worn by Maria Therese in the solitude of her chamber
when the Archduchess Josepha died.

I drew back,--it seemed like profanity for any but the God to whom
she appealed to witness her despair,--for it was Mrs. Radnor. I heard
a long, deep-drawn sigh, a footstep, and then the silky tones of her
husband.

"My love,--why will you? The dew is very heavy." Then a stir and the
sound of a closing door.

I shivered in the ghostly light that had crept into my window, and,
softly closing my blinds, I laid down to sleep if I could.

The first person I saw, on entering the breakfast-room the next
morning, was Mrs. Radnor, pale as the muslin wrapper she wore, but as
coldly self-contained as usual. I felt the passionate sympathy, which
had taken firm hold on me since the scenes of the previous night,
almost vanish before her languidly uttered replies to my inquiries for
her health. It was only in watching the drooping corners of her rarely
beautiful mouth and the violet circles beneath the wonderful eyes, that
I could connect the haughty being before me with the utterer of the
despairing cry of the night before.

The day wore on slowly enough to me, and it was only when the
lengthened shadows on the terrace, and Miss Richmond, equipped for her
walk, greeted my eyes, that my impatience subsided.

The path led us through a shady grove of pines, that sighed mournfully
as one passed through them, then across a sloping interval made green
by recent rains, and so down through a fringe of alders to a little
seat close by the margin of a charming lake on which myriads of
water-lilies were closing their cups of incense.

"Sit here," said Anne, pointing to a place at her side.

"It is not always pleasant to think or speak of the past," she began,
after a few moments' silence, "although day by day its scenes and
actors appear to us. There are some memories in every heart that thrill
us with grief unutterable, and when you know that one person in the
story which I shall tell you was dear to me as my own soul, you will
not wonder if my lip falters or I fail to dwell on the more painful
portions of it."

Then for the first time I was aware of another unwritten heart-history,
and knew why the soft lips and eyes of the woman beside me had so often
uttered their fatal no.

"Ten years ago," she said, "our house was full of guests, and among
them was Eleanor Orne,--the most perfectly beautiful girl I ever
beheld. Fancy Mrs. Radnor, younger by as many years, with a bewildering
smile ever ready to play around the lovely mouth, with expressions as
rapidly following themselves in her eyes as clouds on an April day, and
you can form a faint idea of her loveliness.

"There was also a young student of divinity, with an eye as clear as a
star and a soul pure as prayer itself. Proud and calm he was; but it
was a noble pride that clothed him as with a garment, and a gracious
calmness resulting from a vaulting intellect, subdued and chastened by
firmest faith.

"He had been fond of me in a way, but from the night that Eleanor came
floating down the long piazza, attired in some diaphanous gray that
streamed around her like mist, I knew how it would be. I marked, with
one great heart-throb, the perfect delight that flashed in his dark
eyes as they rested upon her face and form.

"After that they were always together. In the mornings he was reading
to her as she worked; on afternoons, rocking together in the little
boat on the lake; and then, in the purple twilight, singing dreamy
German music, of which they were both passionately fond.

"I soon knew that James Alexander loved her. I read it in every glance,
in every tone. But Eleanor? I was not sure. Watch her as narrowly as I
would, I could not see that the rose in her cheek became a deeper pink
when he approached, or that her eyes were raised more tenderly to him
than to a dozen others who sought her smiles.

"There had been rumors of Eleanor's engagement and approaching
marriage, which had drifted to me from her city home; but, when I saw
her day by day allowing him to become more attached to her,--for she
could not fail to perceive it all,--I rejected the rumor, and with it
the impulse which had prompted me to repeat it to James, that he might,
if not already too late, be upon his guard.

"At last the end came. I dozed one day on a sofa in an inner room,
and watched with delicious delight my dream of fair woman that a
dark-velvet lounging-chair brought out in clear relief. Eleanor sat
there, with downcast eyes and clasped hands. Suddenly a step, hurried
and joyous in its very lightness, sounded in the hall; the door opened
and closed again, and Alexander stood before her with an open letter in
his hand.

"'See,' he said, speaking rapidly, 'it has come at last, and I may
speak. It is a call to one of the largest parishes in your own city,
and I may say, what you must have known for weeks past, that I love
you, Eleanor, deeply, devotedly; that I want you. My darling, tell me
that you are not indifferent to me,--that you will be my wife.'

"It was too late for me to move; and something--perhaps it was a kind
of dull despair--kept me motionless, with eyes riveted upon the group.

"'Speak to me, Eleanor,' he said, more eagerly, bending over her as he
spoke.

"I saw her face flush, and an almost imperceptible shrinking from him,
that made him quickly draw back.

"'Speak, Miss Orne,--Eleanor, I implore you.'

"'Oh, why have you said this to me?' she answered, faintly. 'I cannot
hear you, Mr. Alexander. I am to be married next month.'

"I saw him reel for an instant as one would under a heavy blow, and
heard a deep sigh--almost a groan--burst from him; then a silence so
long and so profound that I could hear my heart beat. At last he spoke,
in a voice husky and changed,--

"'Forgive me. I did not mean to offend; but God knows what a mercy it
would have been if I could have known this before. I may touch your
hand once,--may I not? And you will look up into my face? No, not that!
Grant me this, at least then, before our long parting.' And he bent and
kissed one of the sunny curls that streamed over the chair. Then I saw
him raise one hand over her as in benediction, and, in another moment,
he was gone. I looked at Eleanor. She had risen from her seat, and
moved a step or two towards the door.

"'O James, James, I love you!' she said, piteously; and then I had just
time to break her fall.

       *       *       *       *       *

"An hour later, I met him on the doorstep. 'I am glad to have seen
you,' he said slowly, 'and to thank you for your kindness; for I am
going away. You will be good to _her_, Anne, for my sake,--will you
not?'

"He turned from me, and passed down the walk. I watched him until a
sharp turn hid him from my sight. I never saw him afterwards alive.

"The next day it rained, and the next; and it was not until the third
day that Eleanor and I took our usual walk. As we left the house, she
suggested that we shape our way towards the lake. Agreeing, we walked
on slowly, and I tried to make James Alexander the subject of our talk.
At first she evaded me; and, when at last she found my persistence was
not in any other way to be turned aside, said,--

"'It is an unpleasant subject to me, dear Anne. I fear I have much to
blame myself for. _I_ suffer enough; for, in rejecting his love, I shut
my eyes on a life that would have been a continual delight, to open
them on one from which my very soul shrinks abhorrently, and yet to
which I am solemnly pledged.'

"'But it may not yet be too late,' I said, eagerly; for God knows I
loved James Alexander with no selfish love.

"'Yes, it is too late,' she replied mournfully. 'I shall never allude
to it again, Anne; but I tell you now, that I do not and can never
love Mr. Radnor; but there are family reasons that make the sacrifice
of my hand a necessity. I never realized, until within the last few
weeks, that it _was_ such a sacrifice. I have been so happy, that I
dared not break the spell by telling him the truth. And somehow the
future seemed very far; and I did not dream that this summer would ever
end.'

"Then there was silence between us for a space. At last she spoke
again,--

"'I hope he will not suffer long. Tell him some time, Anne, what I have
told you. He will not quite hate me, perhaps, then, if he knows that
I was not drawing him on to gratify a foolish coquetry, but loved and
suffered like himself.'

"I was about to reply, but she laid her hand on my mouth.

"'No,' she said. 'Let the subject go now forever. And no one will dream
by-and-by how fair a love lies buried beneath my laces and jewels; or
that, in the life of the noted man that he will one day surely become,
is a romance that belongs to a dead past. It will all be the same a
century hence. What does it matter after all?'

"But her words ended with a sigh that contrasted strangely with the
forced lightness of her tone.

"Just then we came out of the grove, and could see far off the little
waves of the lake dancing in the morning sunlight. I paused a moment
to pick some late wild flowers, while Eleanor walked on quickly and
disappeared among the alders that fringed the lake. I was following her
slowly, when suddenly I heard one wild, thrilling cry, and then my name
three times repeated. I flew almost down to the water, and there I saw
Eleanor unconscious; and, close to the shore, among the lilies,--white
and pure as their own petals,--a face upturned to the sky, swaying
gently with the motion of the water. I need not tell you whose." Anne
faltered.

"Do not go on," I said, with my own eyes and voice full of tears.

She raised her head quickly.

"I had schooled myself to it, dear, before I came, and I must finish. I
am telling you of another's life, not mine.

"Then there was a brain fever for Eleanor, that no one believed she
would ever rally from, in which she was either unconscious, or else
singing snatches of German songs, with a pathos that was heart-rending.

"It was remarkable that neither to her mother nor to any one who
watched over her did her words ever betray anything that could connect
her illness with anything more than the bare horror of the discovery
she made. She was married the next spring; and when I saw her, a month
afterward, I should never, save for merest outline and coloring of
beauty, have recognized her. Until last night, the past has never been
alluded to by either of us. Then she confessed to me, that during the
last ten years her life has been haunted by a perpetual remorse. The
sun has set, dear, we will go home."

It was dusk when we crossed the pine grove, and the branches of the
trees seemed, to my quickened imagination, to be singing a sad refrain
to the story I had heard. We walked slowly,--Anne with head uplifted
and a serene look upon her fair face that made me realize the refiner's
work.

As we drew near the house there came forth a rolling symphony from the
parlor organ, and then a voice that I had never heard before, in the
_Agnus Dei_ of the Twelfth Mass.

We paused, and Anne said quietly,--"She has never sung since he died
until now."

We waited until the pure, pathetic tones had died away. Silence and the
spirit of the hour was upon us. Overhead the large, calm stars hung
low and bright. A gleam of light in Mrs. Radnor's rooms flashed for an
instant, and disappeared; and a white figure came out upon the balcony
of her apartment.

"Kyrie Eleison," said Anne, in a hushed voice. "Let us go in."



UNDER A CLOUD.



UNDER A CLOUD.

[Illustration]


One bitter cold day in January, four years ago, I had occasion to wait
for a street-car in Chicago, on one of those aside lines where the
cars pass but once in every ten or fifteen minutes. There was a German
lager-bier saloon close by, and I entered it for shelter. As I stood
by the stove, enjoying the grateful warmth, I observed near me a young
man, in very seedy apparel, engaged in reading the _Staats-Zeitung_.
Something in the air of the young man awakened my curiosity, and led
me to address him. Although reading a German newspaper, he was not
a German in appearance, and I put to him the question, "_Sind Sie
Deutsch?_" by way of experiment.

"No, sir," he replied, "I am not German, but I speak and read the
language."

I drew a chair near him, as he laid aside the newspaper, with the air
of one willing to enter into conversation.

"Where did you pick up your German?" I asked.

"I picked it up," said the young man, with an air of some pride in the
statement, "where I picked up my Latin and Greek,--at college."

At this I ran my eye over him curiously. He had not the appearance of a
scholar.

"You look surprised," said he. "Despite my present appearance, and the
place you find me in, I am a graduate; but at present, I am under a
cloud."

"So I should imagine."

I also imagined that the young man was probably shiftless, and no doubt
addicted to liquor; but I did not say so. As if he read my thoughts, he
spoke again:

"People are always ready to think ill of a seedy man, I suppose.
Probably you think me a good-for-nothing, and would give me some
valuable advice about hanging around beer-saloons; but the fact is, I
am an employé of this establishment."

He spoke with a bitter irony, that ill-concealed a sort of shame in the
confession.

"May I ask in what capacity?" said I.

"You may, sir; and I may answer or not, I suppose. I think I will
decline to answer. As I said, I am under a cloud. I am not proud of my
employment, but I do what I do because I can't do better, and idleness
is synonymous with hunger and cold for me and mine."

"You are married, then?"

"Yes, sir,"--with sudden reserve.

"Don't be offended at my inquisitiveness," said I. "I spoke to you
first out of mere curiosity, it is true; but I speak now out of
interest in you. If I could help you, I would. There is my card."

He took it with a respectful inclination of the head.

"I've heard of you," said he, as he glanced at the name. "I can't give
you my card, sir, because I don't own such a thing." He smiled. "My
name is Brock St. John."

"I hear the car coming," said I. "I'll see you again, Mr. St. John. I
don't set up for a philanthropist; but I like to do a good turn when I
can. Good-morning."

And I went my own way.

Henry Kingsley,--or rather a character of his creation,--in one of his
novels, remarks that he suspects there is some of the poetical faculty
about him, because he is accustomed to walk out of nights when anything
goes wrong.

This is also my case.

To "fetch a walk" about the streets, late in the evening, has long been
a favorite antidote for trouble with me. When the night is stormy, the
value of this remedy for fretting cares is tenfold increased. There is
an exhilarating sense of power in overcoming the opposing forces of the
elements, and breasting along at a brisk pace against a furious storm
of sleet or rain. As Leigh Hunt said, you have a feeling of respect
for your legs under such circumstances; you admire their toughness as
they propel you along in the teeth of the storm. As your blood begins
to warm up, and to whirl through your veins with an exhilaration beside
which that of wine is tame and effeminate, the "blues" that have been
gibing you vanish like magic. Always, after such a bout, I return home
and "sleep like a top," no matter what discomforts or sorrows have been
running their sleep-dispelling race through my head before starting out.

On the night of the day that I met St. John I started out about eleven
o'clock for such a walk. The winds were holding high carnival that
night, and a fierce storm of mingled hail and rain swept through the
almost deserted streets. I forged along (as the sailors say), with my
head down, block after block, fighting the forces of nature, with the
same pleasure that Victor Hugo's hero felt, no doubt, in like effort.
True, my fight was to his as a cock-fight is to an encounter of lions;
but the limit of power is the limit of delight in overcoming in any
case. The boy who declaims "the Roman Soldier" at school to the rapture
of his gaping audience is as happy in his achievement as the tragedian
who thrills a theatreful. Gilliatt conquered storms, and so did I; he
was on the high seas, and I was in the streets of Chicago.

Sounds of music and dancing fell on my ear. They came from the
beer-saloon of the morning. Curiosity impelled me to enter.

The air was reeking with tobacco-smoke and the fumes of lager-bier. The
seats about the half-dozen tables were crowded with Teutonic guzzlers;
and, at the lower part of the room there was a cleared space where a
half-dozen couples were whirling in a waltz with that thorough abandon
which characterizes your German in his national dance. On a slightly
raised platform against the wall was a band composed of a violin, a
clarionet, and a trombone.

The violinist was my acquaintance of the morning.

He caught sight of me as I elbowed my way toward the dancing-floor, and
blushed violently. Then an expression of angry pride settled on his
countenance, and he continued his playing with stolid indifference to
my gaze.

When the dance was over (and St. John kept up the music till the
surprised Teutons who played the wind-instruments were sheer worn-out
with their prolonged exertions), I went up to the young man, and shook
hands with him.

"At work, eh?" I remarked, with a miserable effort to seem cheerful and
easy.

"Yes, sir. You have found me out. You know now how I keep the wolf from
my door."

"Yes, Mr. St. John; and I do not forget that it _is_ to keep the wolf
from your door. Still, I hope you are thoroughly misplaced here,--I
_hope_ you are!"

He grasped my hand with a quick, strong pressure.

"I must prove to you that I am, that's all," said he; "come to--to
where I live, to-morrow, and let me tell you the whole story."

He took my pencil and wrote the address in my note-book.

"To-morrow afternoon," said I, "I will call."

The next day I found my way to the wretched tenement house in North
Clark street, where St. John lived, and climbed three pair of stairs
to the door of his room. I rapped, and the young man opened the door.

I have seen a good deal of poverty in my day, and I was prepared to
find it here, as I did. But I was not prepared for the sight of such
a beautiful young face as that which met my gaze here, and to the
possessor of which St. John introduced me as his wife. She seemed like
some little girl that was lost. The unmistakable air of the true lady
showed itself in every detail of her dress and manner,--in the small,
white collar at the neck of the calico dress, in the smooth-banded hair
that matched the brown eyes, in the quiet demeanor that told of natural
and unconscious self-respect. It showed itself, too, in the perfect
neatness of the room, in which there was a cheerful, homelike air,
despite the poor and barren nature of its furnishings. The room was
kitchen and bedroom, dining-room and sitting-room, in one; but the bed
was smooth and clean, and the little cooking-stove was without spot.

Mrs. St. John was engaged in the unpoetic occupation of mending her
husband's only coat. He was in his shirt-sleeves.

"Aggie expected to get the coat done before our guest came," said St.
John, with a smile. "If you are at all particular, I'll put it on with
the needle sticking in it, and she can finish it after you are gone.
But I am accustomed to sitting in my shirt-sleeves."

"So am I," was my reply; and, accordingly, I pulled off my own coat,
and sat in my shirt-sleeves, too. In the act, my cigar-case fell out of
my pocket.

"Light a cigar, sir, if you like," said St. John, with a brisk
assumption of the airs of a genial host; "my wife don't allow me to
smoke, but my guests always do. She is fond of cigars, is Aggie."

The little wife looked up with a demure and childlike air.

"He never offers to smoke, sir," said she, "because"--

"Because I can't afford it," put in St. John. "I was a great smoker in
college; but those were my wild days. Thank you."

The last remark was in acknowledgment of an offered cigar. We were soon
puffing great cloud-wreaths toward the ceiling, and an air of restraint
that had rested on us at first, despite our efforts to avoid it, was
speedily vanished. Cigars are social.

"And now, sir," said St. John, "you shall hear the story I promised
you. I hope it wont bore you."

"If it does I'll cry out," said I.

The little wife laughed quietly.

"I graduated; I married; I came to Chicago," began St. John,
sententiously.

"_Veni, vidi, vici_," said I.

"Quite the contrary; I _was_ conquered. I had that idea which young men
from the east, just out of college, are apt to have, that in this great
western city there was a comparative lack of intellectual culture, and
that a man of my education must speedily and easily get into a position
of prominence, where my talents would earn me a fine living. But I very
soon found where my mistake lay. I had not been bred to work,--real,
practical, marketable work,--either mental or physical. The professions
were open to me, as to any other beginner,--nothing more. I could not
step out of college into a lucrative practice at the bar; but I could
enter a law-office, and study. So of the other professions. If I had
any one idea more prominent than another, it was that I could secure
an editorial situation at once on one of the newspapers here. I was
surprised to find that there was absolutely no demand for such services
as I had to offer.

"'Do you know anything about the newspaper business?' was the first
question put to me, by the first publisher to whom I made application.

"That was the very last question that I had expected to have asked of
me. Of course I imagined myself competent, or I should not have applied
for editorial employment; but I knew the publisher meant, Had I had
actual experience on the press? I felt so sure of myself that I was
tempted to answer him 'Yes,' but the fact is I was never brought up
with such a reverence for the truth, as to always keep at a respectful
distance from it; so I told him I had not, but I could quickly learn.

"'We are in no need of students,' said he; 'and, even if we took you to
teach you, your pay would not settle your washing-bill.'

"One editor was good enough to let me try my hand at writing a
political article. I sat down in his sanctum and went to work. At the
end of two hours I handed him what I had written, quite confident that
I had settled the question of utility. It was an essay that would have
brought me honor at college. He read it and smiled.

"'I don't want to hurt your feelings at all," said he, 'but you have
been two hours about a piece of work that a ready writer would knock
off in half an hour, and now it is done it is good for nothing.
You make the mistake so many have made before you, that an editor
does not need to be bred to his business. _My_ alma mater was a
printing-office,' said he, proudly, 'and I crept up the ladder round
by round. When I commenced editorial labor, I dropped type-setting, at
which I earned two dollars a day, to handle the reporter's pencil at
seven dollars a week. If you think you could do anything as a reporter,
I'll show you our Mr. Pyke, the local editor.'

"Mr. Pyke was a rough one.

"'Posted around town,' said he.

"I told him I was a new-comer.

"'Know short-hand?'

"'No, sir.'

"'What line are you strongest in?'

"What line?' said I, not exactly understanding.

"'Yes, what line? Speeches, fancy-work, police, sensations, picking up
items around town--or what?'

"'I really don't know,' said I; 'I've never had any experience,
practically, in the newspaper business.'

"At this Mr. Pyke turned round on me with a queer look in his face.

"'Oh, that's it,' said he; 'you want to work at a trade you haven't
served an apprenticeship to. There! it's the old story. If you'll go up
in the composing-room, they'll give you a stick and put you to setting
type, I reckon. You better try it. Go and ask for our foreman, Mr.
Buckingham, and tell him I sent you,--will you? Why, you couldn't tell
where the _e_ box is!'

"The man's manner was not so rude as his language, sir. He seemed
perfectly good-natured, and was scribbling away with a lead-pencil all
the while he was talking, much as if he were a writing-machine."

"Doubtless he is, to a great degree," said I; "that is just where the
apprenticeship does its work. I know Pyke, and I've seen him write a
column of city matter, carrying on conversations with half-a-dozen
different people who dropped in during the time, without interrupting
him at all. But I don't mean to interrupt _you_; go on, please."

"Well, sir," St. John continued, "before I had thoroughly learned
the lesson that I finally learned so well, I was almost literally
penniless. Such had been my high confidence in the easy and prosperous
path before me in Chicago, that when I came here I took board at a
first-class hotel, with my wife. I had very little money, and one day
I waked up to the consciousness that I had less than five dollars
remaining of that little, and still no work. Two hideous gulfs yawned
before me,--starvation and debt. My horror of the one is scarcely
greater than my horror of the other. Debt converted my father from
a well-to-do man into a bankrupt, and my mother, who owns the little
that is left of our old homestead in Massachusetts, was and is in no
condition to help me. I would beg in the streets, sir, before I would
look to my poor mother for help, after the long years of self-denial
she practised to get me through college. My wife is an orphan. You may
judge the color my future was taking on. I left the Tremont House,
and, falling at once from the highest to the lowest style of living in
apartments, came _here_. I had no confidence left, now, in that future
which had before seemed, so foolish and inexperienced was I, a broad
and flowery path for talent and education to tread. I never intend to
whine over anything in this world if I can help it, but I can assure
you this was a pretty dark old world to Brock St. John about that
time. The prospect of earning a dollar a day would have cheered me
wonderfully. I cared more on account of Aggie than myself, of course.
A man can bear ups and downs, kicks, cold shoulders, and an empty
stomach, if he is alone; but the thought that I have dragged _her_ down
to this is almost unbearable at times."

"You have _not_ dragged me, Brock," spoke up the little wife; "I came
of my own accord!"

"That you did, Aggie," said the husband, his eyes moistening; "I am
slandering you. But to go on: The day after we moved in here, and set
up house-keeping in careful preparation for the cold winter coming (I
had to pawn clothing to get these poor goods," he added, looking about
the room with a smile), "the German musician, who lives next door,
came in to ask us if his practising on a trombone annoyed us. We were
so hungry for a friendly face just then, that we would have let the
good-natured German blow his trombone through our transom-window after
that exhibition of fellow-feeling. That afternoon, I dropped in to see
him, in continuance of the acquaintance. There was a violin hanging on
the wall, and I took it down and played a tune on it.

"That was my introduction to my first situation in Chicago. Stumm
got me my place at the beer-saloon; and so, through the knowledge of
an art which has always been to me nothing more than an amusement, I
get enough to live, in this time when all the hard-earned culture,
which cost me so much labor, fails me utterly. I am thankful for this,
heartily thankful; but I don't need to tell you sir, how it galls me to
do this work,--to sit three or four hours of every evening in a dense
and vulgar atmosphere, fiddling for my daily bread. No wonder I am
seedy; no wonder I get to look like a loafer, listless, without pride,
spite of Aggie's wifely care. If I knew an honest trade, I should be
a happy man. I would gladly barter my knowledge of Latin, Greek, and
German for the knowledge of type-setting."

"So that you could prove to Pyke that you know the _e_ box from the _x_
box?" queried I.

He laughed.

"But you talk the words of bitterness when you talk in that way, St.
John. You can barter your knowledge of German for _cash_, and keep it
too. Have you ever sought for pupils!"

"Only a little. I have no acquaintances, you know. My only way to get
pupils was to advertise, of course. I tried it three days, and got not
a solitary reply. There are scores of teachers advertising. It seemed
useless for me to waste money in that way."

"Well," said I, "I think I can set you in a way of getting up a class.
My own German is very rusty, and I will be pupil number one. Then I
know of two or three friends who want to study the language. I think we
can get you up a class among us."

He made me no protestation of gratitude,--such protestations are
usually humbug,--but I saw his gladness in his face.

The little wife sat squeezing her fingers for joy.

Before a month had passed, St. John had a large class in German, and
bade adieu to fiddling. He proved an excellent teacher. Long before I
left Chicago to resume my residence in this city, he had got nicely
out from under his cloud, and was living in a snug house in the West
Division.

There was a little baby playing on the floor at his house last summer
when I called to see him, on my way to Lake Superior. That baby bears
my name, I am proud to say.



COMING FROM THE FRONT.



COMING FROM THE FRONT.

[Illustration]

  "HEAD-QUARTERS. DEP'T AND ARMY OF THE TENNESSEE.
     "_East Point, Georgia, September 22, 1864._

  "SPECIAL ORDERS.
       "No. 214.

  [EXTRACT.]

       *       *       *       *       *

 "XI  Having tendered his resignation, the following-named officer is
 honorably discharged from the military service of the United States,
 with condition that he shall receive no final payments until he
 satisfies the Pay Department that he is not indebted to the
 Government.

  "1st Lieut. ---- ----, Ills. Vol. Inf'try.
     "By order of Maj. Gen'l O. O. Howard.
        "(Signed) W. T. CLARK, _Ass't Adj't Gen'l._"


Think of that! After forty-one months of hard-tack and hard marching,
interspersed with enough fighting to satisfy the stomach of an ordinary
man; after so long an experience of the beautiful uncertainty of army
life; after polluting, with the invading heel of my brogan, the sacred
soil of several of our erring sister States; after passing many breezy
and rainy nights under the dubious shelter of shelter-tents; after
sitting through long and weary days in the furnace-heat of narrow
and dirty trenches;--after all this, I am at last permitted to bid
farewell to "the front," to go home and doff the honorable blue for the
more sober garb of the "cit," and drop into my wonted insignificance.
That little "extract" has a sweeter perfume for me than any triple
extract for the handkerchief ever elaborated by the renowned M.
Lubin. It is fragrant with thoughts of home and loved ones far away
in the Northland, of starry nights and starry eyes, of fluttering
fans and floating drapery, of morning naps unbroken by the strident
_ra-tata-ta-ta_ of the bugle. I grow quite sentimental over it,
notwithstanding the unpleasant condition with which it is qualified,
and which involves such a fearful amount of writing and figuring on
mysterious close-ruled blanks, and so much affidavit-making and other
swearing,--especially at the blundering clerks in the departments at
Washington.

But this troubles me little now. Time enough to attend to it after I
get home. That is all I can think of,--_home_, and how to get there.

How I should get there, and whether or not I ever would get there, were
questions not easily solved. It is the purpose of this sketch to show
some of the beauties of travelling on railroads that are under military
control, and especially to set forth the writer's experience in going
from Atlanta to Nashville.

It was a terribly hot morning when I reached the depot at Atlanta,
amid a cloud of dust and a maze of wagons and mules and commissary
stores and frantic teamsters. I threw my valise into the nearest car
and hastened to the Provost Marshal's office for my pass. There was an
anxious crowd already in waiting: resigned officers and officers on
leave; jolly, ragged privates on furlough, eager to see their wives and
babies; sutlers and "sheap-cloding" men; flaring demireps, seeking new
fields; mouldy citizens in clothes of antique cut, fawning abjectly
and addressing every clerk and orderly as "kernel;" dejected darkies,
shoved aside by everybody, with no "civil rights bill" to help them.
While I was waiting for my turn, the train kept me constantly worried
by pulling up and backing down and threatening to leave. At last I
found an opportunity to exhibit my "Extract," and, after reading it
as slowly and carefully as if it had been a dispatch in cipher, the
Provost Marshal very deliberately wrote a pass, read it over two or
three times, and then, looking at every one in the room but me, asked
"Who's this for?" as if I had not been standing at his elbow with my
hand held out for half an hour.

I left the official premises in a highly exasperated state of mind.
In the mean time the train had been plunging backward and forward in
a wild and aimless way, and I was unable to find the car my valise
was in. After much wear and tear of muscle and temper and trousers,
in climbing over boxes and bales of hay, I discovered it, and found
that it had been taken possession of by a crowd of roystering blades
on furlough, whose canteens were full and fragrant, and in whose talk
and manner appeared the signs of a boisterous night ahead, with the
possibility of a fight or two by way of special diversion. As I was
no longer in "the military service of the United States," I was, of
course, a peaceable citizen, so I took my quarters in a more peaceful
car. It was a cattle-car and not remarkably clean; but the company was
good, and through the lattice-work around the upper part of the car one
could get a view of the surrounding country; though looking through it
gave one a sensation very much like being in a guard-house.

"Will we never get off?" was the question asked dozens of times,--asked
of nobody in particular, and answered by a chorus of incoherent growls
from everybody in general, while some humorous young man suggested
that if any one wanted to get off, he'd better do it before the train
started.

"Now we're off!"

"No we're not," said the humorous young man, "but it's more'n likely we
will be before we get to Chattanooga."

This was not particularly encouraging to timid travellers, in a country
abounding in guerrilleroes, and where accident insurance companies were
unknown.

Between Atlanta and Marietta we passed line after line of defensive
works, protected by _abattis_ and _chevaux-de-frise_,--feed-racks, I
heard a bronzed veteran of rural antecedents call them,--built by the
rebels at night, only to be abandoned on the next night to the great
Flanker. While they wrought line upon line, Sherman and his boys in
blue gave them precept upon precept, here a little and there a great
deal. All this rugged country is historic ground. The tall, tufted
pine-trees stand as monuments of the unrecorded dead, and every knoll
and tangled ravine bears witness to a bravery and heroic endurance that
has never been surpassed.

Leaving Marietta,--deserted by its inhabitants and turned into an
immense hospital,--we approached Kenesaw, so lately crowned with cannon
and alive with gray coats, now basking in the afternoon sunlight, as
quiet and harmless as a good-natured giant taking his after-dinner
nap. We approached it from the inside, to gain which side the compact
columns of Logan and Stanley and Davis hurled themselves against its
rugged front so fearlessly, but, alas, so fruitlessly, on that terrible
27th of June.

Farther on we came to Alatoona Pass, taken at first without a struggle,
but afterward baptized in blood and made glorious by a successful
defence against immense odds.

It was sunset when we reached Kingston,--a straggling row of
dilapidated shanties. As the train was to stop some time, I started
out in search of supper. There was no hotel, so I had to depend upon
sutlers, or peripatetic venders of pies. I entered one sutler's store,
and found a few fly-specked red handkerchiefs and some suspenders.
Another contained nothing but combs and shoe-blacking. Turning away
mournfully, I espied an aged colored man limping up the street with
a basket on his arm. I rushed madly at him, and, finding that he
had apple-pies, was soon the happy possessor of a brace of them. I
congratulated myself and gratefully sat down upon a stone to eat,
and--well, _such pies_! It was utterly impossible to tell what the
crust was made of. In taste and toughness it resembled a dirty piece of
towel. The interior--"the bowels of the thing," as some one inelegantly
called it,--consisted of a few slices of uncooked immature apple and a
great many flies cooked whole. The cooks were altogether too liberal
with their flies. I am not particularly well versed in the culinary art
myself, but I venture boldly to say that the flies that were in those
two pies would have sufficed, if judiciously distributed, to season two
dozen pies with the same proportion of apple in them.

And of such was my supper at Kingston. The whistle sounded, and we
got aboard and were off for Chattanooga. Night fell peacefully upon
Kingston and its dirty peddlers of unwholesome pies, as a curve in the
road hid it and them from our reproachful gaze.

As the darkness increased, and we went dashing at break-neck speed
over a road that had had little or no care bestowed upon it since
the opening of the campaign, I thought of the humorous young man's
remark, and of how unpleasant and inconvenient it would be to have
this long train thrown off and its contents, as Meister Karl hath it,
"pepperboxically distributed" in the adjacent ditch.

And then to have one of Wheeler's men take advantage of a fellow, as
he lay there with a broken leg, and rob him of the few dollars he
had borrowed to go home on! Well, we had been taking our chances for
the last three years, and it was no new thing to take them now. With
this comforting reflection, I sat down on my valise, and, wrapped
in my great-coat, awaited the coming of "the balmy." It was rather
unsatisfactory waiting. Something in my head kept going rattlety-bang,
jerkety-jerk, bumpety-bump, in unison with the noise of the cars; and
when I did get into a doze, I was harassed by the dim shadow of a
fear that we were about to leave the track and go end-over-end down
an embankment. At last weariness overcame me, and I slept soundly,
half-lying on the dirty floor, half-leaning on my valise, coiled up
in one of those attitudes in which only an old campaigner can sleep
at all; I woke amid an unearthly whizzing of steam, to find the train
standing still, and myself mysteriously entangled with various arms
and legs that didn't belong to me. I extricated myself and looked out.
Through the thick darkness of the early morning there glared upon me
the light of what seemed to be innumerable fierce, unwinking eyes.
I began to think that I had taken the wrong train and brought up in
the lower regions; but a little reflection and rubbing of the eyes
disclosed to me that we had reached Chattanooga in safety, and that
those fierce eyes were the head-lights of the locomotives that had
arrived during the night, and were now blowing off their superfluous
steam in that wild, unearthly manner. As soon as it was daylight
I inquired about trains going North, and learned that there was no
telling when a train would go, as Forrest was said to be in the
neighborhood of the road. So there was nothing to do but to go to the
Crutchfield House and wait. Alas for the man whose purse is slim, under
any circumstances! Alas and alas for him if he was obliged to wait
in Chattanooga at Crutchfield prices! It was a dollar that he had to
pay for each scanty meal, a dollar for the use of a densely populated
bed, and a dollar must be deposited with the clerk to secure the
return of the little towel he wiped his face on. Besides the pecuniary
depletion that he suffered, he was bored to death with weary waiting,
with nothing to do and nowhere to go. Chattanooga was far from being
a cheerful place, especially in the rainy season, when nothing was
visible out of doors except the lonesome sentinels pacing their beats
in dripping ponchos, and with guns tucked under their arms, and here
and there a team of steaming mules, struggling to draw a creaking,
lumbering wagon through the detestable clay.

For amusement, there was a billiard-room, where one had to wait eight
hours for a chance to play. If he failed to see any fun in this,
he could step into another room, and squander his currency for,
and bemuddle his brains with, a sloppy sort of beverage that the
gentlemanly proprietor would assure him was good, new beer. I would
rather take his word than his beer. At night, if his tastes ran that
way, for a small outlay one could witness what was called a dramatic
exhibition, but which was really more anatomical than dramatic.

In this enlivening village, an ever-increasing crowd of us was
compelled to wait for five long days. Resigned officers were far from
being resigned, and officers on leave were vexed and impatient because
it was impossible to leave.

At length the joyful news spread that a train would leave for Nashville
at two o'clock in the afternoon. I rushed to the depot, and was just
fairly aboard a car, when some one, more forcibly than politely, told
me to "git out o' that car." As he spoke as a man who had authority,
and knew it, I got out, and learned that I was on the wrong train, and
in a fair way to have been carried to Knoxville. I forgave the man his
abruptness of speech, and went in search of the right train. Catching a
glimpse of Capt. S., whom I knew to be going North, in one of the cars,
I got in without farther question; and soon a fearful jerk, that piled
us like dead-wood in one end of the car, started us towards Nashville.
Rattling along at the usual reckless rate, we found ourselves, soon
after dark, at Stevenson, Alabama. Here we were to stay all night;
for the managers of affairs still had the fear of Forrest before
their eyes, and dared not run trains at night. It was raining, and
the darkness of Erebus covered the face of the earth. Notwithstanding
this, Capt. S. and myself plunged out into the night, determined to get
something to eat, or perish in the attempt. After wandering blindly for
a while,--tumbling into ditches, and falling over boxes and barrels,
that turned up where they were least expected,--we finally brought up
among the ropes of the tent of a sutler. We entered, and found the
proprietor dozing over a dime novel. We were sorry to disturb him
in his literary pursuits; but we were hungry, and had to be fed. We
eagerly demanded various articles of food, which he sleepily informed
us he hadn't got. Questioning him closely as to the edible part of his
stock in trade, we learned that it consisted of some Boston crackers
and a little cheese. We filled our haversacks with these, regardless of
expense. Having bought so generously, the proprietor became generous
in turn, and, bringing forth a square black bottle, proffered it to us
with the remark: "You'll find that a leetle the best gin this side o'
Louisville. Take hold!" The captain took hold; but the silent, though
expressive comment, that was written on his countenance when he let
go, induced me to decline with thanks. A decent regard for the man's
feelings prevented any audible expression; but, as soon as we were out
of the tent, the captain solemnly assured me that he was poisoned, and
that he would utter his last words when he got comfortably fixed in
the car. Getting back to the car was almost as perilous an undertaking
as finding the sutler's store; but, fortunately, we were guided by
the voice of Capt. W. crying, in heart-rending tones, "Lost child!
lost child!" Capt S. interrupted one of his most pathetic cries by
striking him in the pit of the stomach with a loaded haversack, and
demanding to be helped aboard. Once more snugly ensconced in our car,
we proceeded to sup right royally on our crackers and cheese. S. forgot
all about his last words until some time near the middle of the night,
when he woke me to say that he had concluded to postpone them till
he got home, where he could have them published in the county paper.
Barring this interruption, I slept soundly all night, having more room
than on the trip from Atlanta, and not having the thunder of a running
train sounding in my ears.

At breakfast-time we drew out the fragmentary remainder of our last
night's repast, and were about to take our morning meal, when we
discovered that both crackers and cheese had a singularly animated
appearance. Symptoms of internal commotion manifested themselves in all
of us except S., who thought that, as the gin had not killed him, he
was proof against anything. His stoic composure acted soothingly upon
the rest of us, and we concluded that it was too late to feel bad, and
consoled each other by repeating the little rhyme,--

    "What can't be cured
     Must be endured."

By eight o'clock the fog lifted, and we started on our journey
northward. Wild and contradictory stories were afloat in regard to
the whereabouts and doings of the terrible, ubiquitous Forrest.
Revolvers were brought out and capped and primed afresh, and watches
and rings were hidden in what were deemed inaccessible parts of the
clothing. There was considerable anxiety in regard to the bridges over
Elk and Duck rivers, and when we had passed them both safely, the
train quickened its speed, every one breathed more freely, and the
belligerent men put away their fire-arms.

We hastened on without accident and with decreasing fear, though the
_débris_ of broken and burned cars that lined the road-side, suggesting
some unpleasant reflections, and at the close of the day entered the
picket lines at Nashville, and were safe.

Then came a foot-race, from the depot to the hotel, for a prize
that nobody won, for all the hotels in the city were already full
from cellar to garret. Capt. S. and I sat down upon the cold, hard
curb-stone and mingled our weary groans, while W., more plucky and
better acquainted with the city, went in search of a boarding-house.
Having returned, with the cheering intelligence that he had found beds
and supper, we followed him gladly, and, after eating a supper, the
quantity of which I would not like to confess, retired to our rooms,
and were soon--to use the captain's elegant language--"wrapped in that
dreamless, refreshing slumber that only descends upon the pillow of the
innocent and beautiful."



A NIGHT IN THE SEWERS.



A NIGHT IN THE SEWERS.

[Illustration]


Perhaps some of my fair readers will consider me a disagreeable person
for telling them something I know about kid gloves. Perhaps they will
not believe me when I tell them that in Paris and elsewhere there
exists--or did exist not very long ago--an extensive trade in the
skins of common rats, and that these skins, when dressed and dyed,
are converted into those delicate coverings for the hands, commonly
called "kid" gloves, and supposed to be manufactured from the hides of
immature goats.

I was acquainted with a dog-dealer in Paris, a Dane, whose name was
Beck. To him I went one day, bent upon obtaining a terrier dog of good
intellect and agreeable manners, who should be a companion to me in
my "lodgings for single gentlemen," and whose gambols might serve to
amuse me in my lighter hours, when, after work, I would make little
pedestrian excursions in the neighborhood, for the sake of exercise
and air. Beck's kennel was comprised in a small yard, at the back of a
rickety house; and, when I entered it, persuasion was hardly needed
to induce me to stand as near the centre of the enclosure as possible,
in order to keep at chain's length from what the French call _boule
dogues_, several of which ill-looking canines formed a portion of
Beck's stock in trade.

"Here," said Mr. Beck, in reply to a question of mine and in pretty
good English, "here in this box I have a small dog of a kind quite
fashionable now. They call him a Skye terrier, and I have given him the
name of 'Dane,' because he comes from far north, like myself, and has
long yellow hair."

"With these words, Mr. Beck laid hold of a chain, and drawing it
sharply, jerked out from among some straw a creature made up,
apparently, of tow and wire, with a pair of eyes like black beads
glittering through the shocks of hair that fell over its head. The
animal seemed cowed, and I did not think much of him at first sight.

"He has had bad usage," said Mr. Beck; "first time I saw him was
yesterday, when he burst in at my backdoor, with a horseshoe fastened
to his tail. There, you see I have nailed the shoe over the door of his
box. He will be a lucky bargain for whoever buys him, you may depend
upon that."

"Good upon rats?" asked I.

"Know nothing about him," replied Mr. Beck, honestly; "never saw him
before yesterday. They all take the water kindly though, these Skyes
do, and if you want to try him at rats, I can put you in the way of
it."

Somehow I took to the ragged little beast, and so I paid Mr. Beck
sixty francs for him, and ten more for the little wooden kennel with
the horseshoe nailed upon it. I have a great regard for horseshoes
as insurers of luck; because once, when I had picked up one on the
road, and carried it home in my pocket, I found a letter on my table,
informing me that I had come in for a small legacy, through the death
of an aged kinswoman whom I had never seen.

What with good treatment and diet, the frequent bath and the free use
of the comb, it was not many days before master Dane became a very
presentable dog, and had quite recovered his pluck and spirits. He
bullied, and banished forever to the house-top, a large tortoiseshell
cat, that had hitherto commanded the garrison, and I thought, one day,
that I should like to try him at rats. So out I sallied with him in
search of Mr. Beck, who had promised to put me in the way of getting
some sport of the kind.

That versatile gentleman was not in his kennel when I called, but his
wife told me that I would find him in the "skinnery" attached to the
establishment; and, asking me to follow her, she ushered me into a
long, low apartment, lighted with a row of circular windows. The odor
of the place was very pungent and disagreeable. There were several
wooden tanks ranged along one wall of the room, and, on lines stretched
along by the windows, a number of small skins were hung to dry. Mr.
Beck, assisted by a couple of tan-colored boys, was busily engaged in
stirring the contents of the tanks. A dead rat on the floor immediately
engaged the attention of Dane, who seized it in his teeth, shook it
savagely for a moment, and then pitched it away from him, apparently in
disgust at finding it already dead.

"What do you make of the rat-skins?" inquired I, after I had looked on
for a while.

"Money," rejoined Mr. Beck, curtly; "but the man I dress them for makes
them into gloves,--ladies' gloves, of the primest quality."

"Ladies have rats about them in more ways than one, then," said I.
"Where do you get the raw material?"

"The rat-hunters supply me. Their hunting-grounds lie all under the
streets of Paris. Would you like to have a day in the sewers with your
terrier? Simonet will be here in a few minutes, and you can go the
rounds with him if you will."

Just what I wanted, and so I sat upon a bench and waited, and presently
a man came in. He was a low-sized, squat fellow of about forty,
with heavy, round shoulders, and bowed legs; and his head and face
were almost entirely covered with a thatch of tangled red hair, out
from which there peered a couple of greenish eyes of very sinister
expression. He had a leathern sack slung over his shoulder, and carried
in his hand a long wand of birch, brushy, with the twigs left upon it
at one end.

"On the rounds, eh, Simonet?" said Mr. Beck, addressing this
agreeable-looking gentleman; "well, here's a monsieur who would like
to go with you. He wants to try his terrier at the rats. You can make
your own bargain with him."

Then looking at me, he continued,--

"Better leave your coat with my old woman, who'll give you a clean
_blouse_ instead."

Madame took my coat, and gave me a strong _blouse_ and a somewhat
greasy cap; and in this guise I went forth with Simonet, who
immediately plunged into the thick of the city slums. After having gone
some distance, we entered a dismal and dirty office, in which a man,
turning over some piles of documents, after a few whispered words with
my guide, handed him a bunch of heavy keys, and we again went out into
the streets. Entering a paved court-yard, a declivity led us down to
a sort of tunnel, the entrance to which was barred by a heavy, grated
door, which Simonet opened with one of the keys, locking it again as
soon as we had got in.

"We are in one of the main sewers now, monsieur," said he, in a
squeaky, rat-like voice; "you must be careful to keep close by me, and
not stray away into any of the branches."

It was pitch dark, as I looked before me into the tunnel,--dark, and
awful, and silent, but for the gliding, oozing sound of slowly-flowing
water. Simonet produced a lantern, which he lit, and I could see by the
dim light thrown from it that we were in a vast stone passage, through
the centre of which there ran a dark, deep stream. Between the wall
and the stream on either side there was a broad pathway, or ledge, and
along this the rat-hunter motioned me to follow him. Soon we reached a
turn in the tunnel, and here Simonet, after searching about upon the
wall for a moment, found a rusty nail in it, upon which he hung his
lantern. Then producing a couple of torches from his sack, he lighted
them, and handed one to me.

"There is a birch wattle hid away somewhere here," said he,--"ah,
yes!--here it is, take it monsieur, and use it just as you shall see me
do when we get among the rats. Keep close to me, else you may get lost
in the drains."

Dane grew very excited, now, and ran ahead of us a good way, and
presently we heard a great rushing and squeaking, and the suppressed
snarling of the little dog as he worried the rats. Then we saw many
rats running hither and thither, some of them so scared by the light
of the torches, as they came near us, that they leaped into the water,
while others ran up the wall, from which we quickly knocked them with
our wattles. Simonet did not put them into his bag, but left them where
they fell, saying that his custom was to pick them up on his way back.

The dog behaved wonderfully well, fighting and shaking the rats that
fell in his way with great fierceness and pluck. At last, when we had
killed about a hundred of them, we thought it time to rest. Simonet
produced a short, black pipe, and, as I was filling mine, he cast a
wistful look at my tobacco-pouch, thinking, probably, that the article
contained in it must be of a quality superior to that of the cheap
stuff smoked by him; so I poured half the contents of it into his hand,
and he filled his pipe from it, with a grin of satisfaction on his ugly
face.

"It will soon be time for us to turn back," said he, after a while;
"the best place for rats is a little way further on, and it will be too
late to try it if we don't go forward now."

On we went, slashing right and left at the rats, most of which, I
noticed, were of a very black color here, as if belonging to a peculiar
colony that existed in this part of the tunnel. As we rounded a corner,
however, a very large white rat ran past us, and disappeared down
a cross-gallery that led away to the left. Wishing to secure this
animal as a trophy, I hallooed the terrier upon its tracks, and was
about following the chase, when Simonet laid his hand upon my arm, and
whispered, in a tone of entreaty,--

"Don't risk your life, monsieur! He who follows the white rat of
the sewer is likely never to find his way back alive. There's a
blight about the creature, and old stories are afloat of how it has
led rat-hunters away into dangerous parts of the sewers, like a
jack-o'-lantern, and then set upon them with a number of its kind, and
picked their bones clean!"

Breaking away from the fellow, with a jerk that knocked the pipe out
of his hand, and sent it spinning into the black water below, I ran
down the by-sewer after the terrier, whose whimper, as though he
were yet in full chase, I could hear at a good distance ahead of me.
When I came up with him, which I did only after having taken several
turns, he seemed at fault, head up and tail down, and gazing, with a
very puzzled expression up at the vaulted roof. There was no white rat
to be seen, nor could I detect any aperture in the walls, into which
the creature could have made its escape. Then a sort of superstitious
fear fell upon me, as I thought of Simonet's warning, and, with a word
of encouragement to the dog, I hastened to retrace my steps, shouting
loudly every now and then, so as to let the rat-hunter know of my
whereabouts. But no responsive halloo came to my call. Not a sound was
to be heard but the hollow beat of my footsteps on the damp, mouldy
path, and the squeaking, here and there, of the rats, as we disturbed
them from their feast on some garbage fished up by them from the slimy
bed of the drain. Excited at the position in which I found myself,
I now began to make reckless _détours_ hither and thither, until,
thoroughly exhausted by my exertions, I leaned my back against the
wall, and tried to remember such marks as might have been observed by
me in the tunnel since I had parted from Simonet. The only marks of
the wayside that I could recall, however, were the dead rats left by
us upon the ledge as we passed, and of these I had seen none while I
was trying to retrace my steps. Arguing from this, and from the fact
that Simonet did not respond to my shouts, which I continued to utter
at intervals, I began to feel an extremely unpleasant nervous shiver
creeping over me, suggestive of all the horrors about which I had ever
read or dreamed. The little dog lay cowering at my feet, as if he,
too, were somewhat dejected at the prospect of being eaten alive by
avenging rats; and, to crown the situation, just as I had nerved myself
for another effort to recover the lost clue, my torch went out with a
malignant flicker, and I found myself in black darkness!

Sinking down at the foot of the wall, I now gave myself up for lost.
Even had the torch not been quite burnt out, I had no means of
relighting it, having used my last match when we stopped to smoke, just
before I broke away from my guide. I think I must have become somewhat
delirious now; for I have a faint recollection of wild songs chanted,
and of yells that made the vaulted roof ring again. Then a heavy sleep
must have fallen upon me, which probably lasted for several hours; and
then I awoke to a dim consciousness of horror, as I began to realize
the terrible situation into which I had brought myself by my reckless
folly. My dog was still nestling close to me; and it may have been
to his presence, perhaps, that I owed the fact of my not having been
mangled by rats during my sleep. Rising with difficulty to my feet,
for I was stiff from lying so long upon the damp, cold ground, I once
more tried to shout; but my voice was utterly gone, from my previous
exertion of it, and I could not raise it above a whisper. Then, in
sheer desperation, I dragged myself along the wall, feeling the way
with my hands, and had not gone many paces when I felt an angle in the
masonry, on rounding which a ray of hope dawned upon me, as I discerned
a faint light, far, far away, at the end of what seemed to be all but,
an endless shaft of darkness. The prospect of escape infused new vigor
into my weary limbs, and I kept steering onward for the light, which
grew larger and larger as I approached it. At last I got near enough
to see that it came through a small _grille_, or iron door, which
terminated the branch of the sewer in which I was. When I reached the
grating, I saw that it looked out upon the river, between which and
it, however, there lay a deep indentation, or channel, of some fifty
or sixty yards in length. It was gray morning, and I could see boats
and steamers and ships, passing and repassing upon the river. Surely
deliverance was now at hand! but how was I to make my situation known?
My voice, as I have said, was utterly gone, and I had barely strength
left to wave my pocket-handkerchief from the grating. There I stood
for hours,--a prisoner looking wistfully through the bars of a dungeon
to which no wayfarer came. I had sunk down at the foot of the grating,
from mere exhaustion, when the whining of my little dog attracted me,
and I gave him a caressing pat. He licked my face and whined again,
as much as to say, "Can't I be of some use to you?" This brought a
bright idea to my mind. Tearing a leaf from my note-book, I wrote the
following words upon it, with pencil:--

 "I have lost my way in the sewers. You will find me at the grating
 just opposite a large buoy marked X. Come quickly."

Placing this inside my india-rubber tobacco-pouch, I bound it tightly,
with a strip from my pocket-handkerchief, to Dane's collar; and then,
taking the little fellow gently in my arms, and speaking a word or two
of dog-talk to him, I dropped him from the grating into the stream
below, which was running out fast enough to prevent him from trying to
return; nor was it long before I had the satisfaction of seeing him
swimming boldly out toward the river, as if he knew perfectly well what
he was about. I had no fears but that somebody in a boat would pick
him up before he was exhausted, because this kind of dog can live for
a great while in the water. Yet he was gone for a long, long time,--at
least, it seemed a long time to me,--and I saw the distant boats
passing and repassing, and the steamers and the ships, and heard the
cheery voices of the mariners, as I held on there by the iron grating,
half-dead. At last a boat, pulled by two men and steered by a third,
shot up into the channel; and the boatmen raised a joyful shout as I
waved my handkerchief to them from my prison-bars. The steersman held
my little dog upon his knee; but the faithful animal broke away from
him when he saw me, and would have jumped overboard in his eagerness to
reach me had he not been caught by one of the men.

When the boat had come quite close under the grating, I saw that it
was manned by men of the river guard. They told me that one of their
number had gone round to report the matter to the proper authorities,
and that assistance would quickly be at hand, and one of them, standing
on the thwarts of the boat, reached up to me a flask of brandy and a
biscuit, after having partaken of which I felt sufficiently revived to
be very thankful for my escape from a horrible death. In less than an
hour keys were brought by an officer connected with the sewers, and I
was released from my disagreeable position, much to the joy of Dane,
who covered me with caresses after his honest doggy fashion; nor,
half-starved as the little animal must have been, would he touch a
morsel of biscuit until after he had seen me safe in the boat.

The next thing to be done was to make a search for Simonet, who had not
made his appearance in the upper regions since we entered the sewers.
Men were sent after him, and he was found in a half-stupefied condition
just where I had left him, among the dead rats. He could give little or
no account of himself, save that his torch had gone out, just as he was
about starting in search of me, and that a stupor came over him, then,
and he sat down and fell asleep. This was all accounted for afterwards.
Having lost his pipe, as I have said, he sought to assuage his craving
for stimulants by chewing--or rather eating--quantities of the tobacco
with which I had furnished him, and this proved, on examination, to
have been taken by me, in mistake, from a jar in which opium had been
copiously mixed with the milder narcotic for experimental purposes.
Probably the little I had smoked of it in my pipe had somewhat affected
me; and Simonet averred that he thought it must have been the smell of
it that saved us from being eaten by the rats. A few franc pieces, a
new pipe, and a reasonable stock of the best tobacco, made a happy man
of that rare old gutter-snipe; but nothing could induce him to make any
further reference to the white rat, at the very mention of which he
would scowl horribly, and retire, as it were, behind the mass of red
hair with which his face was fringed.

As for me, I believe more in horseshoes than ever, since the adventure
narrated above. I had a small one made in silver, for Dane; and this
the faithful animal wore suspended from his collar as a charm until he
went the way of all dogs, full of honors and of years.



TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE:

Obvious printer errors have been corrected. Otherwise, the author's
original spelling, punctuation and hyphenation have been left intact.





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