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Title: Aikenside
Author: Holmes, Mary Jane
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 "Aikenside" ***

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AIKENSIDE

By Mary J. Holmes



Author of “Maggie Miller,” “Dora Drane,” “English Orphans,” “The
Homestead on the Hillside,” “Meadowbrook Farm,” “Lena Rivers,”
 “Rosamond,” “Cousin Maude,” “Tempest and Sunshine,” “Rector of St.
Marks,” “Mildred,” “The Leighton Homestead,” “Miss McDonald”



CHAPTER I. -- THE EXAMINING COMMITTEE.


The good people of Devonshire were rather given to quarreling--sometimes
about the minister’s wife, meek, gentle Mrs. Tiverton, whose manner of
housekeeping, and style of dress, did not exactly suit them; sometimes
about the minister himself, good, patient Mr. Tiverton, who vainly
imagined that if he preached three sermons a week, attended the
Wednesday evening prayer-meeting, the Thursday evening sewing society,
officiated at every funeral, visited all the sick, and gave to every
beggar who called at his door, besides superintending the Sunday school,
he was earning his salary of six hundred per year.

Sometimes, and that not rarely, the quarrel crept into the choir, and
then, for one whole Sunday, it was all in vain that Mr. Tiverton read
the psalm and hymn, casting troubled glances toward the vacant seats of
his refractory singers. There was no one to respond, unless it were good
old Mr. Hodges, who pitched so high that few could follow him; while
Mrs. Captain Simpson--whose daughter, the organist, had been snubbed at
the last choir meeting by Mr. Hodges’ daughter, the alto singer--rolled
up her eyes at her next neighbor, or fanned herself furiously in token
of her disgust.

Latterly, however, there had come up a new cause of quarrel, before
which every other cause sank into insignificance. Now, though the
village of Devonshire could boast but one public schoolhouse, said house
being divided into two departments, the upper and lower divisions, there
were in the town several district schools; and for the last few years
a committee of three had been annually appointed to examine and decide
upon the merits of the various candidates for teaching, giving to each,
if the decision were favorable, a little slip of paper certifying their
qualifications to teach a common school. Strange that over such an
office so fierce a feud should have arisen; but when Mr. Tiverton,
Squire Lamb and Lawyer Whittemore, in the full conviction that they
were doing right, refused a certificate of scholarship to Laura Tisdale,
niece of Mrs. Judge Tisdale, and awarded it to one whose earnings in
a factory had procured for her a thorough English education, the
villagers, to use a vulgar phrase, were at once set by the ears, the
aristocracy abusing, and the democracy upholding the dismayed trio, who,
as the breeze blew harder, quietly resigned their office, and Devonshire
was without a school committee.

In this emergency something must be done, and, as the two belligerent
parties could only unite on a stranger, it seemed a matter of special
providence that only two months before, young Dr. Holbrook, a native
of modern Athens, had rented the pleasant little office on the village
common, formerly occupied by old Dr. Carey, now lying in the graveyard
by the side of some whose days he had prolonged, and others whose days
he had surely shortened. Besides being handsome, and skillful, and quite
as familiar with the poor as the rich, the young doctor was descended
from the aristocratic line of Boston Holbrooks, facts which tended to
make him a favorite with both classes; and, greatly to his surprise,
he found himself unanimously elected to the responsible office of
sole Inspector of Common Schools in Devonshire. It was in vain that
he remonstrated, saying he knew nothing whatever of the qualifications
requisite for a teacher; that he could not talk to girls, young ones
especially; that he should make a miserable failure, and so forth. The
people would not listen. Somebody must examine the teachers and that
somebody might as well be Dr. Holbrook as anybody.

“Only be strict with ‘em, draw the reins tight, find out to your
satisfaction whether a gal knows her P’s and Q’s before you give her a
stifficut. We’ve had enough of your ignoramuses,” said Colonel Lewis,
the democratic potentate to whom Dr. Holbrook was expressing his fears
that he should not give satisfaction. Then, as a bright idea suggested
itself to the old gentleman, he added: “I tell you what, just cut one
or two at first; that’ll give you a name for being particular, which is
just the thing.”

Accordingly, with no definite idea as to what was expected of him,
except that he was to find out “whether a girl knew her P’s and Q’s,”
 and was also to “cut one or two of the first candidates,” Dr. Holbrook
accepted the office, and then awaited rather nervously his initiation.
He was not easy in the society of ladies, unless, indeed, the lady stood
in need of his professional services, when he lost sight of _her_ at
once, and thought only of her disease. His patient once well, however,
he became nervously shy and embarrassed, retreating as soon as possible
from her presence to the covert of his friendly office, where, with
his boots upon the table and his head thrown back in a most comfortable
position, he sat one April morning, in happy oblivion of the bevy of
girls who must, of course, ere long-invade his sanctum.

“Something for you, sir. The lady will wait for an answer,” said his
“chore boy,” passing to his master a little three-cornered note, and
nodding toward the street.

Following the direction indicated, the doctor saw, drawn up near his
door, an old-fashioned one-horse wagon, such as is still occasionally
seen in New England. A square boxed, dark green wagon, drawn by a sorrel
horse, sometimes called by the genuine Yankee “yellow,” and driven by a
white-haired man, whose silvery locks, falling around his wrinkled face,
gave to him a pleasing, patriarchal appearance, which interested the
doctor far more than did the flutter of the blue ribbon beside him, even
though the bonnet that ribbon tied shaded the face of a young girl.
The note was from her, and, tearing it open, the doctor read, in the
prettiest of all pretty, girlish handwriting:

“Dr. Holbrook.”

Here it was plainly visible that a “D” had been written as if she would
have said “Dear.” Then, evidently changing her mind, she had with her
finger blotted out the “D,” and made it into an oddly shaped “S,” so
that it read simply:

“Dr. Holbrook--Sir: Will you be at leisure to examine me on Monday
afternoon, at three o’clock?

                              “MADELINE A. CLYDE.

“P. S.--For particular reasons I hope you can attend to me as early as
Monday. M. A. C.”

Dr. Holbrook knew very little of girls, but he thought this note, with
its P. S., decidedly girlish. Still he made no comment, either verbal or
mental, so flurried was he with knowing that the evil he so much dreaded
had come upon him at last. Had it been left to his choice, he would far
rather have extracted every one of that maiden’s teeth, than to have set
himself up before her like some horrid ogre, asking what she knew. But
the choice was not his, and, turning to the boy, he said, laconically,
“Tell her to come.”

Most men would have sought for a glimpse of the face under the bonnet
tied with blue, but Dr. Holbrook did not care a picayune whether it were
ugly or fair, though it did strike him that the voice was singularly
sweet, which, after the boy had delivered his message, said to the old
man, “Now, grandpa, we’ll go home. I know you must be tired.”

Slowly Sorrel trotted down the street, the blue ribbons fluttering in
the wind, while one little ungloved hand was seen carefully adjusting
about the old man’s shoulders the ancient camlet cloak which had done
duty for many a year, and was needed on this chill April day. The doctor
saw all this, and the impression left upon his mind was, that Candidate
No. 1 was probably a nice-ish kind of a girl, and very good to her
grandfather. But what should he ask her, and how demean himself toward
her? Monday afternoon was frightfully near, he thought, as this was only
Saturday; and then, feeling that he must be ready, he brought out from
the trunk, where, since his arrival in Devonshire, they had bean quietly
lying, books enough to have frightened an older person than poor little
Madeline Clyde, riding slowly home with grandpa, and wishing so much
that she’d had a glimpse of Dr. Holbrook, so as to know what he was
like, and hoping he would give her a chance to repeat some of the many
pages of geography and “Parley’s History,” which she knew by heart.
How she would have trembled could she have seen the formidable volumes
heaped upon his table and waiting for her. There were French and Latin
grammars, “Hamilton’s Metaphysics,” “Olmstead’s Philosophy,” “Day’s
Algebra,” “Butler’s Analogy,” and many others, into which poor Madeline
had never so much as looked. Arranging them in a row, and half wishing
himself back again to the days when he had studied them, the doctor went
out to visit his patients, of which there were so many that Madeline
Clyde entirely escaped his mind, nor did she trouble him again until the
dreaded Monday came, and the hands of his watch pointed to two.

“One hour more,” he said to himself, just as the roll of wheels and a
cloud of dust announced the approach of something.

Could it be Sorrel and the square-boxed wagon? Oh, no; far different
from grandfather Clyde’s turnout was the stylish carriage and the
spirited bays dashing down the street, the colored driver reining them
suddenly, not before the office door, but just in front of the white
cottage in the same yard, the house where Dr. Holbrook boarded, and
where, if he ever married in Devonshire, he would most likely bring his
wife.

“Guy Remington, the very chap of all others whom I’d rather see, and,
as I live, there’s Agnes, with Jessie. Who knew she was in these parts?”
 was the doctor’s mental exclamation, as, running his fingers through
his hair and making a feint of pulling up the corners of his rather limp
collar, he hurried out to the carriage, from which a dashing looking
lady of thirty, or thereabouts, was alighting.

“Why, Agnes, I beg your pardon, Mrs. Remington, when did you come?” he
asked, offering his hand to the lady, who, coquettishly shaking back
from her pretty, dollish face a profusion of light brown curls, gave
him the tips of her lavender kids, while she told him she had come to
Aikenside the Saturday before; and hearing, from Guy that the lady with
whom he boarded was an old friend of hers, she had driven over to call,
and brought Jessie with her. “Here, Jessie, speak to the doctor. He
was poor dear papa’s friend,” and a very proper sigh escaped Agnes
Remington’s lips as she pushed a little curly-haired girl toward Dr.
Holbrook.

The lady of the house had spied them by this time, and came running down
the walk to meet her rather distinguished visitor, wondering, it may be,
to what she was indebted for this call from one who, since her marriage
with the supposed wealthy Dr. Remington, had rather cut her former
acquaintances. Agnes was delighted to see her, and, as Guy declined
entering the cottage just then, the two friends disappeared within
the door, while the doctor and Guy repaired to the office, the latter
sitting down in the very chair intended for Madeline Clyde. This
reminded the doctor of his perplexity, and also brought the comforting
thought that Guy, who had never failed him yet, could surely offer
some suggestions. But he would not speak of her just now; he had other
matters to talk about, and so, jamming his penknife into a pine table
covered with similar jams, he said: “Agnes, it seems, has come to
Aikenside, notwithstanding she declared she never would, when she found
that the whole of the Remington property belonged to your mother, and
not your father.”

“Oh, yes. She got over her pique as soon as I settled a handsome little
income on Jessie, and, in fact, on her too, until she is foolish enough
to marry again, when it will cease, of course, as I do not feel it my
duty to support any man’s wife, unless it be my own, or my father’s,”
 was Guy Remington’s reply; whereupon the penknife went again into the
table, and this time with so much force that the point was broken off;
but the doctor did not mind it, and with the jagged end continued to
make jagged marks, while he continued: “She’ll hardly marry again,
though she may. She’s young--not over twenty-six---

“Twenty-eight, if the family Bible does not lie; but she’d never forgive
me if she knew I told you that. So let it pass that she’s twenty-six.
She certainly is not more than three years your senior, a mere nothing,
if you wish to make her Mrs. Holbrook;” and Guy’s dark eyes scanned
curiously the doctor’s face, as if seeking there for the secret of
his proud young stepmother’s anxiety to visit plain Mrs. Conner that
afternoon. But the doctor only laughed merrily at the idea of his being
father to Guy, his college chum and long-tried friend.

Agnes Remington--reclining languidly in Mrs. Conner’s easy-chair, and
overwhelming her former friend with descriptions of the gay parties she
had attended in Boston, and the fine sights she saw in Europe, whither
her gray-haired husband had taken her for a wedding tour--would not have
felt particularly flattered, could she have seen that smile, or heard
how easily, from talking of her, Dr. Holbrook turned to another theme,
to Madeline Clyde, expected now almost every moment. There was a merry
laugh on Guy’s part, as he listened to the doctor’s story, and, when
it was finished, he said: “Why, I see nothing so very distasteful in
examining a pretty girl, and puzzling her, to see her blush. I half wish
I were in your place. I should enjoy the novelty of the thing.” “Oh,
take it, then; take my place, Guy,” the doctor exclaimed, eagerly. “She
does not know me from Adam. Here are books, all you will need. You went
to a district school once a week when you were staying in the country.
You surely have some idea, while I have not the slightest. Will you,
Guy?” he persisted more earnestly, as he heard wheels in the street, and
was sure old Sorrel had come again.

Guy Remington liked anything savoring of a frolic, but in his mind there
were certain conscientious scruples touching the justice of the thing,
and so at first he demurred; while the doctor still insisted, until at
last he laughingly consented to commence the examination, provided the
doctor would sit by, and occasionally come to his aid.

“You must write the certificate, of course,” he said, “testifying that
she is qualified to teach.”

“Yes, certainly, Guy, if she is; but maybe she won’t be, and my orders
are, to be strict--very strict.”

“How did she look?” Guy asked, and the doctor replied: “Saw nothing
but her bonnet. Came in a queer old go-giggle of a wagon, such as your
country farmers drive. Guess she won’t be likely to stir up the bile
of either of us, particularly as I am bullet proof, and you have been
engaged for years. By the way, when do you cross the sea again for the
fair Lucy? Rumor says this summer.”

“Rumor is wrong, as usual, then,” was Guy’s reply, a soft light
stealing into his handsome eyes. Then, after a moment, he added: “Miss
Atherstone’s health is far too delicate for her to incur the risks of a
climate like ours. If she were well acclimated, I should be glad, for it
is terribly lonely up at Aikenside.”

“And do you really think a wife would make it pleasanter?” Dr Holbrook
asked, the tone of his voice indicating a little doubt as to a man’s
being happier for having a helpmate to share his joys and sorrows.

But no such doubts dwelt in the mind of Guy Remington. Eminently fitted
for domestic happiness, he looked forward anxiously to the time when
sweet Lucy Atherstone, the fair English girl to whom he had become
engaged when, four years before, he visited Europe, should be strong
enough to bear transplanting to American soil. Twice since his
engagement he had visited her, finding her always lovely, gentle, and
yielding. Too yielding, it sometimes seemed to him, while occasionally
the thought had flashed upon him that she did not possess a very
remarkable depth of intellect. But he said to himself, he did not care;
he hated strong-minded women, and would far rather his wife should be a
little weak than masculine, like his Aunt Margaret, who sometimes wore
bloomers, and advocated women’s rights. Yes, he greatly preferred Lucy
Atherstone, as she was, to a wife like the stately Margaret, or like
Agnes, his pretty stepmother, who only thought how she could best
attract attention; and as it had never occurred to him that there might
be a happy medium, that a woman need not be brainless to be feminine
and gentle, he was satisfied with his choice, as well he might be, for a
fairer, sweeter flower never bloomed than Lucy Atherstone, his affianced
bride. Guy loved to think of Lucy, and as the doctor’s remarks brought
her to his mind, he went off into a reverie concerning her, becoming so
lost in thought that until the doctor’s hand was laid upon his
shoulder by way of rousing him, he did not see that what his friend had
designated as a go-giggle was stopping in front of the office, and that
from it a young girl was alighting.

Naturally very polite to females, Guy’s first impulse was to go to her
assistance, but she did not need it, as was proven by the light spring
with which she reached the ground. The white-haired man was with her
again, but he evidently did not intend to stop, and a close observer
might have detected a shade of sadness and anxiety upon his face as
Madeline called cheerily out to him: “Good-by, grandpa. Don’t fear for
me; I hope you have good luck;” then, as he drove away, she ran a step
after him and said; “Don’t look so sorry, for if Mr. Remington won’t let
you have the money, there’s my pony, Beauty. I am willing to give him
up.”

“Never, Maddy. It’s all the little fortin’ you’ve got. I’ll let the old
place go first;” and, chirruping to Sorrel, the old man drove on, while
Madeline walked, with a beating heart, to the office door, knocking
timidly.

Glancing involuntarily at each other, the young men exchanged meaning
smiles, while the doctor whispered softly: “Verdant--that’s sure. Wonder
if she’ll knock at a church.”

As Guy sat nearest the door, it was he who held it ajar while Madeline
came in, her soft brown eyes glistening with something like a tear, and
her cheeks burning with excitement as she took the chair indicated by
Guy Remington, who unconsciously found himself master of ceremonies.

Poor little Madeline!



CHAPTER II. -- MADELINE CLYDE.


Madge her schoolmates called her, because the name suited her, they
said; but Maddy they called her at home, and there was a world
of unutterable tenderness in the voices of the old couple, her
grandparents, when they said that name, while their dim eyes lighted up
with pride and joy when they rested upon the young girl who answered to
the name of Maddy. Their only daughter’s only child, she had lived with
them since her mother’s death, for her father was a sea captain, who
never returned from his last voyage to China, made two months before she
was born. Very lonely and desolate would the home of Grandfather Markham
have been without the presence of Madeline, but with her there, the old
red farmhouse seemed to the aged couple like a paradise.

Forty years they had lived there, tilling the rather barren soil of the
rocky homestead, and, saving the sad night when they heard that Richard
Clyde was lost at sea, and the far sadder morning when their daughter
died, bitter sorrow had not come to them; and, truly thankful for the
blessings so long vouchsafed them, they had retired each night in peace
with God and man, and risen each morning to pray. But a change was
coming over them. In an evil hour Grandpa Markham had signed a note
for a neighbor and friend, who failed to pay, and so it all fell on Mr.
Markham, who, to meet the demand, mortgaged his homestead; the recreant
neighbor still insisting that long before the mortgage should be due,
he certainly would be able himself to meet it. This, however, he had not
done, and, after twice begging off a foreclosure, poor old Grandfather
Markham found himself at the mercy of a grasping, remorseless man, into
whose hands the mortgage had passed. It was vain to hope that Silas
Slocum would wait. The money must either be forthcoming, or the red
farmhouse be sold, with its few acres of land. Among his neighbors there
was not one who had the money to spare, even if they had been willing to
do so. And so he must look among strangers.

“If I could only help,” Madeline had said one evening when they sat
talking over their troubles; “but there’s nothing I can do, unless I
apply for our school this summer. Mr. Green is committeeman; he likes
us, and I don’t believe but what he’ll let me have it. I mean to go and
see;” and, ere the old people had recovered from their astonishment,
Madeline had caught her bonnet and shawl, and was flying down the road.

Madeline was a favorite with all, especially with Mr. Green, and as the
school would be small that summer, the plan struck him favorably. Her
age, however, was an objection, and he must take time to see what others
thought of a child like her becoming a schoolmistress. Others thought
well of it, and so before the close of the next day it was generally
known through Honedale, as the southern part of Devonshire was called,
that pretty little Madge Clyde had been engaged as teacher, she
receiving three dollars a week, with the understanding that she must
board herself. It did not take Madeline long to calculate that twelve
times three were thirty-six, more than a tenth of what her grandfather
must borrow. It seemed like a little fortune, and blithe as a singing
bird she flitted about the house, now stopping a moment to fondle her
pet kitten, while she whispered the good news in its very appreciative
ear, and then stroking her grandfather’s silvery hair, as she said:

“You can tell them that you are sure of paying thirty-six dollars in the
fall, and if I do well, maybe they’ll hire me longer. I mean to try my
very best. I wonder if ever anybody before me taught a school when they
were only fourteen and a half. Do I look as young as that?” and for
an instant the bright; childish face scanned itself eagerly in the
old-fashioned mirror, with the figure of an eagle on the top.

She did look very young, and yet there was something womanly, too, in
the expression of the face, something which said that life’s realities
were already beginning to be understood by her.

“If my hair were not short I should do better. What a pity I cut it the
last time; it would have been so long and splendid now,” she continued,
giving a kind of contemptuous pull at the thick, beautiful brown hair on
whose glossy surface there was in certain lights a reddish tinge, which
added to its beauty.

“Never mind the hair, Maddy,” the old man said, gazing fondly at her
with a half sigh as he remembered another brown head, pillowed now
beneath the graveyard turf. “Maybe you won’t pass muster, and then the
hair will make no difference. There’s a new committee-man, that Dr.
Holbrook, from Boston, and new ones are apt to be mighty strict.”

Instantly Maddy’s face flushed all over with nervous dread, as she
thought: “What if I should fail?” fancying that to do so would be an
eternal disgrace. But she should not. She was called by everybody
the very best scholar in school, the one whom the teachers always put
forward when desirous of showing off, the one whom Mr. Tiverton, and
Squire Lamb, and Lawyer Whittemore always noticed so much. Of course she
should not fail, though she did dread Dr. Holbrook, wondering much what
he would ask her first, and hoping it would be something in arithmetic,
provided he did not stumble upon decimals, where she was apt to get
bewildered. She had no fears of grammar. She could pick out the most
obscure sentence and dissect a double relative with perfect ease; then,
as to geography, she could repeat whole pages of that, while in the
spelling-book, the foundation of a thorough education, as she had been
taught, she had no superiors, and but a very few equals. Still she would
be very glad when it was over, and she appointed Monday, both because it
was close at hand, and because that was the day her grandfather had set
in which to ride to Aikenside, in an adjoining town, and ask its young
master for the loan of three hundred dollars.

He could hardly tell why he had thought of applying to Guy Remington for
help, unless it were that he once had saved the life of Guy’s father,
who, as long as he lived, had evinced a great regard for his benefactor,
frequently asserting that he meant to do something for him. But the
something was never done, the father was dead, and in his strait the old
man turned to the son, whom he knew to be very rich, and who he had been
told was exceedingly generous.

“How I wish I could go with you clear up to Aikenside! They say it’s
so beautiful,” Madeline had said, as on Saturday evening they sat
discussing the expected events of the following Monday. “Mrs. Noah, the
housekeeper, had Sarah Jones there once, to sew, and she told me all
about it. There are graveled walks, and nice green lawns, and big, tall
trees, and flowers--oh! so many!--and marble fountains, with gold fishes
in the basin; and statues, big as folks, all over the yard, with two
brass lions on the gateposts. But the house is finest of all. There’s
a drawing-room bigger than a ballroom, with carpets that let your feet
sink in so far; pictures and mirrors clear to the floor--think of that,
grandpa! a looking-glass so tall that one can see the very bottom of
their dress and know just how it hangs. Oh, I do so wish I could have a
peep at it! There are two in one room, and the windows are like doors,
with lace curtains; but what is queerest of all, the chairs and
sofas are covered with real silk, just like that funny, gored gown of
grandma’s up in the oak chest. Dear me! I wonder if I’ll ever live in
such a place as Aikenside?”

“No, no, Maddy, no. Be satisfied with the lot where God has put you, and
don’t be longing after something higher, Our Father in heaven knows just
what is best for us; as He didn’t see fit to put you up at Aikenside,
‘tain’t noways likely you’ll ever live in the like of it.”

“Not unless I should happen to marry a rich man. Poor girls like me have
sometimes done that, haven’t they?” was Maddy’s demure reply.

Grandpa Markham shook his head.

“They have, but it’s mostly their ruination; so don’t build castles in
the air about this Guy Remington.”

“Me! Oh, grandpa, I never dreamed of Mr. Guy!” and Madeline blushed
half indignantly. “He’s too rich, too aristocratic, though Sarah said he
didn’t act one bit proud, and was so pleasant, the servants all worship
him, and Mrs. Noah thinks him good enough for the Queen of England. I
shall think so, too, if he lets you have the money. How I wish it was
Monday night, so we could know sure!”

“Perhaps we both shall be terribly disappointed,” suggested grandpa, but
Maddy was more hopeful.

She, at least, would not fail, while what she had heard of Guy
Remington, the heir of Aikenside, made her believe that he would accede
at once to her grandpa’s request.

All that night she was working to pay the debt, giving the money herself
into the hands of Guy Remington, whom she had never seen, but who came
up in her dreams the tall, handsome-looking man she had so often heard
described by Sarah Jones after her return from Aikenside. Even the next
day, when, by her grandparent’s side, Maddy knelt reverently in the
small, time-worn church at Honedale, her thoughts, it must be confessed,
were wandering more to the to-morrow and Aikenside, than to the sacred
words her lips were uttering. She knew it was wrong, and with a nervous
start would try to bring her mind back from decimal fractions to what
the minister was saying; but Maddy was mortal, and right in the midst
of the Collect, Aikenside and its owner would rise before her, together
with the wonder how she and her grandfather would feel one week from
that Sabbath day. Would the desired certificate be hers? or would she
be disgraced forever and ever by a rejection? Would the mortgage be paid
and her grandfather at ease, or would his heart be breaking with the
knowing he must leave what had been his home for so many years? Not thus
was it with the aged disciple beside her--the good old man, whose white
locks swept the large lettered book over which his wrinkled face was
bent, as he joined in the responses, or said the prayers whose words had
over him so soothing an influence, carrying his thoughts upward to the
house not made with hands, which he felt assured would one day be his.
Once or twice, it is true, thoughts of losing the dear old red cottage
flitted across his mind with a keen, sudden pang, but he put it quickly
aside, remembering at the same instant how the Father he loved doeth all
things well to such as are His children. Grandpa Markham was old in the
Christian course, while Maddy could hardly be said to have commenced as
yet, and so to her that April Sunday was long and wearisome. How she did
wish she might just look over the geography, by way of refreshing her
memory, or see exactly how the rule for extracting the cube root did
read, but Maddy forebore, reading only the Pilgrim’s Progress, the
Bible, and the book brought from the Sunday school.

With the earliest dawn, however, she was up, and her grandmother heard
her repeating to herself much of what she dreaded Dr. Holbrook might
question her upon. Even when bending over the washtub, for there were no
servants at the red cottage, a book was arranged before her so that she
could study with her eyes, while her small, fat hands and dimpled arms
were busy in the suds. Before ten o’clock everything was done, the
clothes, white as the snowdrops in the garden beds, were swinging on the
line, the kitchen floor was scrubbed, the windows washed, the best room
swept, the vegetables cleaned for dinner, and then Maddy’s work was
finished. “Grandma could do all the rest,” she said, and Madeline was
free “to put her eyes out over them big books if she liked.”

Swiftly flew the hours until it was time to be getting ready, when
again the short hair was deplored, as before her looking-glass Madeline
brushed and arranged her shining, beautiful locks. Would Dr. Holbrook
think of her age? Suppose he should ask it. But no, he wouldn’t. If Mr.
Green thought her old enough, surely it was not a matter with which
the doctor need trouble himself; and, somewhat at ease on that point,
Madeline donned her longest frock, and, standing in a chair, tried to
discover how much of her pantalets was visible.

“I could see splendidly in Mr. Remington’s mirrors,” she said to
herself, with a half sigh of regret that her lot had not been cast in
some such place as Aikenside, instead of there beneath the hill in that
wee bit of a cottage, whose rear slanted back until it almost touched
the ground. “After all, I guess I’m happier here,” she thought.
“Everybody likes me, while if I were Mr. Guy’s sister and lived at
Aikenside, I might be proud and wicked, and--”

She did not finish the sentence, but somehow the story of Dives and
Lazarus, read by her grandfather that morning, recurred to her mind, and
feeling how much rather she would rest in Abraham’s bosom than share the
fate of him who once was clothed in purple and fine linen she pinned on
her little neat plaid shawl, and, tying the blue ribbons of her coarse
straw hat, glanced once more at the formidable cube root, and then
hurried down to where her grandfather and old Sorrel wore waiting for
her.

“I shall be so happy when I come back, because it will then be over,
just like having a tooth out, you know,” she said to her grandmother,
who bent down for the good-by kiss without which Maddy never left her.
“Now, grandpa, drive on; I was to be there at three,” and chirruping
herself to Sorrel, the impatient Madge went riding from the cottage
door, chatting cheerily until the village of Devonshire was reached;
then, with a farewell to her grandfather, who never dreamed that the man
whom he was seeking was so near, she tripped up the flagging walk, and,
as we have seen, soon stood in the presence of not only Dr. Holbrook,
but also of Guy Remington.

Poor, poor little Madge!



CHAPTER III. -- THE EXAMINATION.


It was Guy who received her, Guy who pointed to a chair, Guy who seemed
perfectly at home, and, naturally enough, she took him for Dr. Holbrook,
wondering who the other black-haired man could be, and if he meant to
stay in there all the while. It would be very dreadful if he did, and
in her agitation and excitement the cube root was in danger of being
altogether forgotten. Half guessing the cause of her uneasiness, and
feeling more averse than ever to taking part in the matter, the doctor,
after a hasty survey of her person, withdrew into the background, and
sat where he could not be seen. This brought the short dress into full
view, together with the dainty little foot, nervously beating the floor.

“She’s very young,” he thought; “too young, by far,” and Maddy’s chances
of success were beginning to decline even before a word had been spoken.

How terribly still it was for the time, during which telegraphic
communications were silently passing between Guy and the doctor, the
latter shaking his dead decidedly, while the former insisted that he
should do his duty. Madeline could almost hear the beatings of her
heart, and only by counting and recounting the poplar trees growing
across the street could she keep back the tears. What was he waiting
for, she wondered, and, at last, summoning all her courage, she lifted
her great brown eyes to Guy, and said, pleadingly:

“Would you be so kind, sir, as to begin?”

“Yes, certainly,” and electrified by that young, bird-like voice, the
sweetest save one he had ever heard, Guy knocked down from the pile of
books the only one at all appropriate to the occasion, the others being
as far beyond what was taught in the district schools as his classical
education was beyond Madeline’s common one.

Remembering that the teacher of whom he had once been for a week a
pupil, in the town of Framingham, had commenced operations by sharpening
a lead pencil, so he now sharpened a similar one, determining as far as
he could to follow that teacher’s example. Maddy counted every fragment
as it fell upon the floor, wishing so much that he would commence, and
fancying that it would not be half so bad to have him approach her with
some one of those terrible dental instruments lying before her, as it
was to sit and wait as she was waiting. Had Guy Remington reflected
a little, he would never have consented to do the doctor’s work; but,
unaccustomed to country usages, especially those pertaining to schools
and teachers, he did not consider that it mattered which examined that
young girl, himself or Dr. Holbrook. Viewing it somewhat in the light
of a joke, he rather enjoyed it; and as the Framingham teacher had
first asked her pupils their names and ages, so he, when the pencil was
sharpened sufficiently, startled Madeline by asking her name.

“Madeline Amelia Clyde,” was the meek reply, which Guy quickly recorded.

Now, Guy Remington intended no irreverence; indeed, he could not tell
what he did intend, or what it was which prompted his next query:

“Who gave you this name?”

Perhaps he fancied himself a boy again in the Sunday school, and
standing before the railing of the altar, where, with others of his age,
he had been asked the question propounded to Madeline Clyde, who did
not hear the doctor’s smothered laugh as he retreated into the adjoining
room.

In all her preconceived ideas of this examination, she had never dreamed
of being catechised, and with a feeling of terror as she thought of that
long answer to the question, “What is thy duty to thy neighbor?” and
doubted her ability to repeat it, she said: “My sponsors, in baptism
gave me the first name of Madeline Amelia, sir,” adding, as she caught
and misconstrued the strange gleam in the dark eyes bent upon her, “I
am afraid I have forgotten some of the catechism; I did not know it was
necessary in order to teach school.”

“Certainly, no; I do not think it is. I beg your pardon,” were Guy
Remington’s ejaculatory replies, as he glanced from Madeline to the open
door of the adjoining room, where was visible a slate, on which, in huge
letters, the amused doctor had written “Blockhead.”

There was something in Madeline’s quiet, womanly, earnest manner which
commanded Guy’s respect, or he would have given vent to the laughter
which was choking him, and thrown off his disguise. But he could not
bear now to undeceive her, and, resolutely turning his back upon the
doctor, he sat down by that pile of books and commenced the examination
in earnest, asking first her age.

“Going on fifteen,” sounded older to Madeline than “Fourteen and a
half,” so “Going on fifteen” was the reply, to which Guy responded:
“That is very young, Miss Clyde.”

“Yes, but Mr. Green did not mind. He’s the committeeman. He knew how
young I was,” Madeline said, eagerly, her great brown eyes growing large
with the look of fear which came so suddenly into them.

Guy noticed the eyes then, and thought them very bright and handsome for
brown, but not so bright or handsome as a certain pair of soft blue orbs
he knew, and feeling a thrill of satisfaction that sweet Lucy Atherstone
was not obliged to sit there in that doctor’s office to be questioned
by him or any other man, he said: “Of course, if your employers are
satisfied it is nothing to me, only I had associated teaching with women
much older than yourself. What is logic, Miss Clyde?”

The abruptness with which he put the question startled Madeline to such
a degree that she could not positively tell whether she had ever heard
that word before, much less could she recall its meaning, and so she
answered frankly, “I don’t know.”

A girl who did not know what logic was did not know much, in Guy’s
estimation, but it would not do to stop here, and so he asked her next
how many cases there were in Latin!

Maddy felt the hot blood tingling to her very fingertips, the
examination had taken a course so widely different from her ideas of
what it would probably be. She had never looked inside a Latin grammar,
and again her truthful “I don’t know, sir,” fell on Guy’s ear, but this
time there was a half despairing tone in the young voice usually so
hopeful.

“Perhaps, then, you can conjugate the verb _Amo,_” Guy said, his manner
indicating the doubt he was beginning to feel as to her qualifications.

Maddy knew well what “conjugate” meant, but that verb _Amo_, what could
it mean? and had she ever heard it before? Mr. Remington was waiting
for her; she must say something, and with a gasp she began: “I amo, thou
amoest, he amoes. Plural: We amo, ye or you amo, they amo.”

Guy looked at her aghast for a single moment, and then a comical smile
broke all over his face, telling poor Maddy plainer than words could
have done, that she had made a most ridiculous mistake.

“Oh, sir,” she cried, her eyes wearing the look of the frightened hare,
“it is not right. I don’t know what it means. Tell me, teach me. What is
it to amo?”

To most men it would not have seemed a very disagreeable task, teaching
young Madeline Clyde “to amo,” as she termed it, and some such idea
flitted across Guy’s mind, as he thought how pretty and bright was the
eager face upturned to his, the pure white forehead, suffused with a
faint flush, the cheeks a crimson hue, and the pale lips parted slightly
as Maddy appealed to him for the definition of “amo.”

“It is a Latin verb, and means ‘to love’” Guy said, with an emphasis
on the last word, which would have made Maddy blush had she been less
anxious and frightened.

Thus far she had answered nothing correctly, and, feeling puzzled to
know how to proceed, Guy stepped into the adjoining room to consult with
the doctor, but he was gone. So returning again to Madeline, Guy resumed
the examination by asking her how “minus into minus could produce plus.”

Again Maddy was at fault, and her low-spoken “I don’t know” sounded like
a wail of despair. Did she know anything, Guy wondered, and feeling
some curiosity now to ascertain that fact, he plied her with questions
philosophical, questions algebraical, and questions geometrical, until
in an agony of distress Maddy raised her hands deprecatingly, as if she
would ward off any similar questions, and sobbed out:

“Oh, sir, no more. It makes my head so dizzy. They don’t teach that in
common schools. Ask me something I do know.”

Suddenly it occurred to Guy that he had gone entirely wrong, and
mentally cursing himself for the blockhead the doctor had called him, he
asked, kindly:

“What do they teach? Perhaps you can enlighten me?”

“Geography, arithmetic, grammar, history, and spelling-book,” Madeline
replied, untying and throwing off her bonnet, in the vain hope that it
might bring relief to her poor, giddy head, which throbbed so fearfully
that all her ideas seemed for the time to have left her.

This was a natural consequence of the high excitement under which
she was laboring, and so, when Guy did ask her concerning the books
designated, she answered but little better than before, and Guy was
wondering what he should do next, when the doctor’s welcome step was
heard, and leaving Madeline again, he repaired to the next room to
report his ill success.

“She does not seem to know anything. The veriest child ought to do
better than she has done. Why, she has scarcely answered half a dozen
questions correctly.”

This was what poor Maddy heard, though it was spoken in a low whisper;
but every word was distinctly understood and burned into her heart’s
core, drying her tears and hardening her into a block of marble. She
knew that Guy had not done her justice, and this helped to increase the
torpor stealing over her. Still she did not lose a syllable of what was
saying in the back office, and her lip curled scornfully when she heard
Guy remark: “I pity her; she is so young, and evidently takes it so
hard. Maybe she’s as good as they average. Suppose we give her the
certificate.”

Then Dr. Holbrook spoke, but to poor, dazed Maddy his words were all a
riddle. It was nothing to him--who was he that he should be dictating
thus? There seemed to be a difference of opinion between the young
men, Guy insisting that out of pity she should not be rejected; and
the doctor demurring on the ground that he ought to be more strict. As
usual, Guy overruled, and seating himself at the table, the doctor was
just commencing: “I hereby certify--” while Guy was bending over him,
when the latter was startled by a hand laid firmly on his arm, and
turning quickly he confronted Madeline Clyde, who, with her short hair
pushed from her blue-veined forehead, her face as pale as ashes, save
where a round spot of purplish red burned upon her cheeks, and her eyes
gleaming like coals of fire, stood before him.

“He need not write that,” she said, huskily, pointing to the doctor, “It
would be a lie, and I could not take it. You do not think me qualified.
I heard you say so. I do not want to be pitied. I do not want a
certificate because I am so young, and you think I’ll feel badly. I do
not want--”

Her voice failed her, her bosom heaved, and the choking sobs came thick
and fast, but still she shed no tear, and in her bright, dry eyes there
was a look which made both those young men turn away involuntarily. Once
Guy tried to excuse her failure, saying she no doubt was frightened.
She would probably do better again, and might as well accept the
certificate, but Madeline still said no, so decidedly that further
remonstrance was useless. She would not take what she had no right to,
she said, but if they pleased she would wait there in the back office
until her grandfather came back; it would not be long, and she should
not trouble them.

Guy brought her the easy-chair from the front room and placed it for
her by the window. With a faint smile she thanked him and said: “You are
very kind,” but the smile hurt Guy cruelly, it was so sad, so full
of unintentional reproach, while the eyes she lifted to his looked so
grieved and weary that he insensibly murmured to himself: “Poor child!”
 as he left her, and with the doctor repaired to the house, where Agnes
was impatiently waiting for them. Poor, poor little Madge! Let those
smile who may at her distress; it was the first keen disappointment she
had ever had, and it crushed her as completely as many an older person
has been crushed by heavier calamities.

“Disgraced for ever and ever,” she kept repeating to herself, as she
tried to shake off the horrid nightmare stealing over her. “How can I
hold up my head again at home where nobody will understand just how
it was; nobody but grandpa and grandma? Oh, grandpa, I can’t earn that
thirty-six dollars now. I most wish I was dead, and I am--I am dying.
Somebody--come--quick!”

There was a heavy fall, and while in Mrs. Conner’s parlor Guy Remington
and Dr. Holbrook were chatting gayly with Agnes, a childish figure was
lying upon the office floor, white, stiff, and insensible.

Little Jessie Remington, tired of sitting still and listening to what
her mamma and Mrs. Conner were saying, had strayed off into the garden,
and after filling her chubby hands with daffodils and early violets,
wended her way to the office, the door of which was partially ajar.
Peering curiously in, she saw the crumpled bonnet, with its ribbons of
blue, and, attracted by this, advanced into the room, until she came
where Madeline was lying. With a feeling that something was wrong,
Jessie bent over the prostrate girl, asking if she were asleep, and
lifting next the long, fringed lashes drooping on the colorless cheek.
The dull, dead expression of the eyes sent a chill through Jessie’s
frame, and hurrying to the house she cried: “Oh, Brother Guy, somebody’s
dead in the office, and her bonnet is all jammed!”

Scarcely were the words uttered ere Guy and the doctor both were with
Madeline, the former holding her tenderly in his arms, while he smoothed
the short hair, thinking even then how soft and luxuriant it was, and
how fair was the face which never moved a muscle beneath his scrutiny.
The doctor was wholly self-possessed. Maddy had no terrors for him
now. She needed his services, and he rendered them willingly, applying
restoratives which soon brought back signs of life in the rigid form.
With a shiver and a moan Madeline whispered: “Oh, grandma, I’m so
tired,” and nestled closer to the bosom where she had never dreamed of
lying.

By this time both Mrs. Conner and Agnes had come out, asking in much
surprise who the stranger could be, and what was the cause of her
illness. As if there had been a previous understanding between them,
the doctor and Guy were silent with regard to the recent farce enacted
there, simply saying it was possible she was in the habit of fainting;
many people were. Very daintily, Agnes held up and back the skirt of her
rich silk as if fearful that it might come in contact with Madeline’s
plain delaine; then, as it was not very interesting for her to stand and
see the doctor “make so much fuss over a young girl,” as she mentally
expressed it, she returned to the house, bidding Jessie do the same. But
Jessie refused, choosing to stay by Madeline, whom they placed upon the
comfortable lounge, which she preferred to being taken to the house, as
Guy proposed.

“I’m better now, much better,” she said. “Leave me, please. I’d rather
be alone.”

So they left her, all but Jessie, who, fascinated by the sweet young
face, climbed upon the lounge and, laying her curly head caressingly
against Madeline’s arm, said to her: “Poor girl, you’re sick, and I am
so sorry. What makes you sick?”

There was genuine sympathy in that little voice, and it opened the
pent-up flood beating so furiously, and roused Maddy’s heart. With a cry
as of sudden pain she clasped the child in her arms and wept out a wild,
stormy fit of weeping which did her so much good. Forgetting that Jessie
could not understand, and feeling it a relief to tell her grief to some
one, she said, in reply to Jessie’s oft repeated inquiries as to what
was the matter: “I did not get a certificate, and I wanted it so much,
for we are poor, and our house is mortgaged, and I was going to help
grandpa pay it.”

“It’s dreadful to be poor!” sighed little Jessie, as her waxen fingers
threaded the soft, nut-brown hair resting in her lap, where Maddy had
lain her aching head.

Maddy did not know who this beautiful child was, but her sympathy was
very sweet, and they talked together as children will, until Mrs. Agnes’
voice was heard calling to her little girl that it was time to go.

“I love you, Maddy, and I mean to tell brother about it,” Jessie said,
as she wound her arms around Madeline’s neck and kissed her at parting.

It never occurred to Maddy to ask her name, so stupified she felt, and
with a responsive kiss she sent her away. Leaning her head upon the
table, she forgot all but her own wretchedness, and so did not see the
gayly-dressed, haughty-looking lady who swept past the door, accompanied
by Guy and Dr. Holbrook. Neither did she hear, or notice, if she did,
the hum of their voices as they talked together for a moment, Agnes
asking the doctor very prettily to come up to Aikenside while she
was there, and bring his ladylove. Engaged young men like Guy were so
stupid, she said, as with a merry laugh she sprang into the carriage;
and, bowing gracefully to the doctor, was driven rapidly toward
Aikenside.

Rather slowly the doctor returned to the office, and after fidgeting for
a time among the powders and phials, summoned courage to ask Madeline
how she felt, and if any of the fainting symptoms had returned.

“No, sir,” was all the reply she gave him, never lifting up her head, or
even thinking which of the two young men it was speaking to her.

There was a call just then for Dr. Holbrook, and leaving his office
in charge of Tom, his chore boy, he went away, feeling slightly
uncomfortable whenever he thought of the girl to whom he felt that
justice had not been done.

“I half wish I had examined her myself,” he said. “Of course she was
excited, and could not answer; beside, hanged if I don’t believe it was
all humbug tormenting her with Greek and Latin. Yes; I’ll question her
when I get back, and if she’ll possibly pass, give her the certificate.
Poor child; how white she was, and what a queer look there was in those
great eyes, when she said: ‘I shall not take it.’”

Never in his life before had Dr. Holbrook been as much interested in any
female who was not sick as he was in Madeline, and determining to make
his call on Mrs. Briggs as brief as possible, he alighted at her gate,
and knocked impatiently at her door. He found her pretty sick, while
both her children needed a prescription, and so long a time was he
detained that his heart misgave him on his homeward route, lest Maddy
should be gone, and with her the chance to remedy the wrong he might
have done her.

Maddy was gone, and the wheel ruts of the square-boxed wagon were fresh
before the door when he came back. Grandpa Markham had returned, and
Madeline, who recognized old Sorrel’s step, had gathered her shawl
around her and gone sadly out to meet him. One look at her face was
sufficient.

“You failed, Maddy?” the old man said, fixing about her feet the warm
buffalo robe, for the night wind was blowing cool.

“Yes, grandpa, I failed.”

They were out of the village and more than a mile on their way home
before Madeline found voice to say so much, and they were nearer home by
half a mile ere the old man answered back:

“And, Maddy, I failed too.”



CHAPTER IV. -- GRANDPA MARKHAM.


Mrs. Noah, the housekeeper at Aikenside, was slicing vegetable oysters
for the nice little dish intended for her own supper, when the head
of Sorrel came around the corner of the building, followed by the
square-boxed wagon containing Grandpa Markham, who, bewildered by the
beauty and spaciousness of the grounds, and wholly uncertain as to where
he ought to stop, had driven over the smooth-graveled road around to
the front kitchen door, Mrs. Noah’s spacious domain, as sacred as Betsey
Trotwood’s patch of green.

“In the name of wonder, what codger is that? and what is he doing here?”
 was Mrs. Noah’s exclamation, as she dropped the bit of salsify she was
scraping, and hurrying to the door, called out: “I say, you, sir, what
made you drive up here, when I’ve said over and over again, that I
wouldn’t have wheels tearing up turf and gravel?”

“I--I beg your pardon. I lost my way, I guess, there was so many
turnin’s, I’m sorry, but a little rain will fetch it right,” grandpa
said, glancing ruefully at the ruts in the gravel and the marks on the
turf.

Mrs. Noah was not at heart an unkind woman, and something in the
benignant expression of grandpa’s face, or in the apologetic tone of
his voice, mollified her somewhat, and without further comment she stood
waiting for his next remark. It was a most unfortunate one, for though
as free from weakness as most of her sex, Mrs. Noah was terribly
sensitive as to her age, and the same census-taker would never venture
twice within her precincts. Glancing at her dress, which was this
leisure afternoon much smarter than usual, grandpa concluded she could
not be a servant; and as she seemed to have a right to say where he
should drive and where he should not, the meek old man concluded she was
a near relation of Guy--mother, perhaps; but no, Guy’s mother was dead,
as grandpa well knew, for all Devonshire had heard of the young bride
Agnes, who had married Guy’s father for money and rank. To have
been mistaken for Guy’s mother would not have offended Mrs. Noah
particularly; but how was she shocked when Grandpa Markham said:

“I come on business with Squire Guy. Are you his gran’marm?” “His
gran’marm!” and Mrs. Noah bit off the last syllable spitefully. “Bless
you, man, Squire Guy, as you call him, is twenty-five years old.”

As Grandpa Markham was rather blind, he failed to see the point, but
knew that in some way he had given offense.

“I beg your pardon, ma’am; I was sure you was some kin--maybe an a’nt.”

No, she was not even that; but willing enough to let the old man believe
her a lady of the Remington order, she did not explain that she was
simply the housekeeper, she simply said:

“If it’s Mr. Guy you want, I can tell you he is not at home, which will
save your getting out.”

“Not at home, and I’ve come so far to see him!” grandpa exclaimed, and
in his voice there was so much genuine disappointment that Mrs. Noah
rejoined, quite kindly:

“He’s gone over to Devonshire with the young lady his stepmother.
Perhaps you might tell your business to me; I know all Mr. Guy’s
affairs.”

“If I might come in, ma’am,” he answered, meekly, as through the open
door he caught glimpses of a cheerful fire. “It’s mighty chilly for such
as me.” He did look cold and blue, Mrs. Noah thought, and she bade him
come in, feeling a very little contempt for the old-fashioned camlet
cloak in which his feet became entangled, and smiling inwardly at the
shrunken, faded pantaloons, betokening poverty.

“As you know all Squire Guy’s affairs,” grandpa said, when he was seated
before the fire, “maybe you could tell whether he would be likely to
lend a stranger three hundred dollars, and that stranger me?”

Mrs. Noah stared at him aghast. Was he crazy, or did he mean to insult
her master? Evidently neither. He seemed as sane as herself, while no
one could associate an insult with him. He did not know anything. That
was the solution of his audacity, and pityingly, as she would have
addressed a half idiot, Mrs. Noah made him understand how impossible it
was for him to think her master would lend to a stranger like him.

“You say he’s gone to Devonshire,” grandpa said, softly, with a quiver
on his lip when she had finished. “I wish I’d knew it; I left my
granddarter there to be examined. Mabby I’ll meet him going back, and
can ask him.”

“I tell you it won’t be no use. Mr. Guy has no three hundred dollars to
throw away,” was Mrs. Noah’s rather sharp rejoinder.

“Wall, wall, we won’t quarrel about it,” the old man replied, in
his most conciliatory manner, as he turned his head away to hide the
starting tear.

Grandfather Markham’s heart was very sore, and Mrs. Noah’s harshness
troubled him. He could not bear to think that she really was cross
with him, besides that he wanted something to carry Maddy besides
disappointment, so by way of testing Mrs. Noah’s amiability and pleasing
Maddy, too, he said, as he arose: “I’m an old man, lady, old enough to
be your father.” Here Mrs. Noah’s face grew brighter, and she listened
attentively while he continued: “You won’t take what I say amiss, I’m
sure. I have a little girl at home, a grandchild, who has heard big
stories of the fine things at Aikenside. She has a hankerin’ after such
vanities, and it would please her mightily to have me tell her what I
saw up here, so maybe you wouldn’t mind lettin’ me go into that big room
where the silk fixin’s are. I’ll take off my shoes, if you say so.”

“Your shoes won’t hurt an atom; come right along,” Mrs. Noah replied,
now in the best of moods, for, except her cup of green tea with
raspberry jam and cream, she enjoyed nothing more than showing their
handsome house.

Conducting him through the wide, marbled hall, she ushered him into the
drawing-room, where for a time he stood perfectly bewildered. It was his
first introduction to rosewood, velvet, and brocatelle, and it seemed to
him as if he had suddenly been transported to fairy-land.

“Maddy would like this--it’s her nature,” he whispered, advancing a step
or two, and setting down his feet as softly as if stepping on eggs.

Happening to lift his eyes before one of the long mirrors, he spied
himself, wondering much what that “queer-looking chap” was doing there
in the midst of so much elegance, and why Mrs. Noah did not turn him
out! Then mentally asking forgiveness for this flash of pride, and
determined to make amends, he bowed low to the figure in the glass,
which bowed as low in return, but did not reply to the very good-natured
remark: “How d’ye do--pretty well, to-day?”

There was a familiar look about the round cape of the camlet cloak, and
Grandpa Markham’s face turned crimson as the truth burst upon him.

“How ‘shamed of me Maddy would be,” he thought, glancing sidewise at
Mrs. Noah, who had witnessed the blunder, and was now looking from the
window to hide her laughter.

Grandpa believed she did not see him, and comforted with that assurance,
he began to remark upon the mirror, saying “it made it appear as if
there was two of you,” a remark which Mrs. Noah fully appreciated. He
saw the silk chairs, slyly touching one to see if it did feel like the
gored, peach-blossom dress worn by his wife forty-two years ago that
very spring. Then he tried one of them, examined the rare ornaments, and
came near bowing again to the portrait of the first Mrs. Remington, so
natural and lifelike it looked standing out from the canvas.

“This will last Maddy a week. I thank you, ma’am. You have added some
considerable to the happiness of a young girl, who wouldn’t disgrace
even such a room as this,” he said, as he passed into the hall.

Mrs. Noah received his thanks graciously, and led him to the yard, where
Sorrel stood waiting for him.

“Odd, but clever as the day is long,” was Mrs. Noah’s comment, as, after
seeing him safe out of her yard, she went back to her vegetable oysters
boiling on the stove.

Driving at a brisk trot through the grounds, Sorrel was soon out upon
the highway; and with spirits exhilarated by thoughts of going home,
he kept up the trot until, turning a sudden corner, his master saw the
carriage from Aikenside approaching at a rapid rate. The driver, Paul,
saw him too, but scorning to give half the road to such as Sorrel and
the square-boxed wagons, he kept steadily on, while Grandpa Markham,
determined to speak with Guy, reined his horse a little nearer, raising
his hand in token that the negro should stop. As a natural consequence,
the wheels of the two vehicles became interlocked, and as the powerful
grays were more than a match for Sorrel, the front wheel of Grandpa
Markham’s wagon was wrenched off, and the old man precipitated to the
ground; which, fortunately for him, was in that locality covered with
sand banks, so that he was only stunned for an instant, and thus failed
to hear the insolent negro’s remark: “Served you right, old cove; might
of turned out for gentlemen;” neither did he see the sudden flashing
of Guy Remington’s eye, as, leaping from his carriage, he seized
the astonished African by the collar, and, hurling him from the box,
demanded what he meant by serving an old man so shameful a trick and
then insulting him.

All apology and regret, the cringing driver tried to make some excuse,
but Guy stopped him short, telling him to see how much the wagon was
damaged, while he ran to the old man, who had recovered from the first
shock and was trying to extricate himself from the folds of his camlet
cloak. Nearby was a blacksmith’s shop, and thither Guy ordered his
driver to take the broken-down wagon with a view to getting it repaired.

“Tell him I want it done at once.” he said, authoritatively, as if he
well knew his name carried weight with it; then, turning to grandpa, he
asked again if he were hurt.

“No, not specially--jolted my old bones some. You are very kind,
sir,” grandpa replied, brushing the dust from his pantaloons and then
involuntarily grasping Guy’s arm for support, as his weak knees began to
tremble from the effects of excitement and fright.

“That darky shall rue this job,” Guy said, savagely, as he gazed
pityingly upon the shaky old creature beside him. “I’ll discharge him
to-morrow.”

“No, young man. Don’t be rash. He’ll never do’t again; and sprigs like
him think they’ve a right to make fun of old codgers like me,” was
grandpa’s meek expostulation.

“Do, pray, Guy, how long must we wait here?” Agnes asked, impatiently,
leaning back in the carriage and partially drawing her veil over her
face as she glanced at Grandpa Markham, but a look from Guy silenced
her; and turning again to grandpa, he asked:

“What did you say? You have been to Aikenside to see me?”

“Yes, and I was sorry to miss you. I--I--it makes me feel awkward to
tell you, but I wanted to borrow some money, and I didn’t know nobody
as likely to have it as you. That woman up to your house said she knowed
you wouldn’t let me have it, ‘cause you hadn’t it to spare. Mebby you
haven’t,” and grandpa waited anxiously for Guy’s reply.

Now, Mrs. Noah had a singular influence over her young master, who was
in the habit of consulting her with regard to his affairs, and nothing
could have been more unpropitious to the success of grandpa’s suit than
the knowing she disapproved. Beside this, Guy had only the previous week
lost a small amount loaned under similar circumstances. Standing silent
for a moment, while he buried and reburied his shining patent leather
boots in the hills of sand, he said at last: “Candidly, sir, I don’t
believe I can accommodate you. I am about to make repairs at Aikenside,
and have partially promised to loan money on good security to a Mr.
Silas Slocum, who, ‘if things work right,’ as he expressed it, intends
building a mill on some property which has come, or is coming, into his
hands.”

“That’s mine--that’s mine, my homestead,” gasped grandpa, turning white
almost as his hair blowing in the April wind. “There’s a stream of water
on it, and he says if he forecloses and gets it he shall build a mill,
and tear our old house down.”

Guy was in a dilemma. He had not asked how much Mr. Markham wanted, and
as the latter had not told him, he naturally concluded it a much larger
sum than it really was, and did not care just then to lend it.

“I tell you what I’ll do,” he said, after a little. “I’ll drop Slocum
a note to-night saying I’ve changed my mind, and shall not let him have
the money. Perhaps, then, he won’t be so anxious to foreclose, and will
give you time to look among your friends.”

Guy laid a little emphasis on that last word, and looking up quickly
grandpa was about to say: “I am not so much a stranger as you think. I
knew your father well;” but he checked himself with the thought: “No,
that will be too much like begging pay for a deed of mercy done years
ago.” So Guy never suspected that the old man before him had once laid
his sire under a debt of gratitude. The more he reflected the less
inclined he was to lend the money, and as grandpa was too timid to urge
his needs, the result was that when at last the wheel was replaced, and
Sorrel again trotting on toward Devonshire, he drew after him a sad,
heavy heart, and not once until the village was reached did he hear the
cheery chuckle with which his kind master was wont to encourage him.

“Poor Maddy! I dread tellin’ her the most, she was so sure,” grandpa
whispered, as he stopped before the office door, where Maddy waited for
him.

But Maddy’s disappointment was keener than his own, and so after the
sorrowful words, “and I failed, too,” he bent himself to comfort the
poor child, who, leaning her throbbing head against his shoulder, sobbed
bitterly, as in the soft spring twilight they drove back to the low red
cottage where grandma waited for them.



CHAPTER V. -- THE RESULT.


It was Farmer Green’s new buggy and Farmer Green’s bay colt which, three
days later than this, stopped before Dr. Holbrook’s office. Not the
square-boxed wagon, with old Sorrel attached; the former was standing
quietly in the chip-yard behind the low red house, while the latter with
his nose over the barnyard fence, neighing occasionally, as if he missed
the little hands which had daily fed him the oatmeal he liked so
much, and which now lay hot and parched and helpless upon the white
counterpane Grandma Markham had spun and woven herself. Maddy might have
been just as sick as she was if the examination had never occurred, but
it was natural for those who loved her to impute it all to the effects
of excitement and cruel disappointment, so there was something like
indignation mingling with the sorrow gnawing at the hearts of the old
couple as they watched by their fever-stricken darling. Farmer
Green, too, shared the feeling, and numerous at first were his mental
animadversions against that “prig of a Holbrook.” But when Maddy grew
so bad as not to know him or his wife, he laid aside his prejudices, and
suggested to Grandpa Markham that Dr. Holbrook be sent for.

“He’s great on fevers,” he said, “and is good on curin’ sick folks,” so,
though he would have preferred some one else should have been called,
confidence in the young doctor’s skill won the day, and grandpa
consented.

This, then, was the errand of Farmer Green, and with his usual
bluntness, he said to the recreant doctor, who chanced to be at home:

“Wall, you nigh about killed our little Madge t’other day, when you
refused the stifficut, and now we want you to cure her.”

The doctor looked up in surprise, but Farmer Green soon explained his
meaning, making out a most aggravated case, and representing Maddy as
wild with delirium.

“Keeps talkin’ about the big books, the Latin and the Hebrew, and even
the Catechism, as if such like was ‘lowed in our school. I s’pose you
didn’t know no better; but if Maddy dies, you’ll have it to answer for,
I reckon.”

The doctor did not try to excuse himself, but hastily took down the
medicines he thought he might need, and stowed them carefully away. He
had expected to hear from that examination, but not in this way, and
rather nervously he made some inquiries, as to how long she had been
ill, and so forth.

Maddy’s case lost nothing by Mr. Green’s account, and by the time the
doctor’s horse was ready, and he on his way to the cottage, he had
arrived at the conclusion that of all the villainous men outside
the walls of the State’s prison, he was the most villainous, and Guy
Remington next.

What a cozy little chamber it was where Maddy lay, just such a room as a
girl like her might be supposed to occupy, and the bachelor doctor felt
like treading upon forbidden ground as he entered the room so rife with
girlish habits, from the fairy slippers hung on a peg, to the fanciful
little workbox made of cones and acorns. Maddy was asleep, and sitting
down beside her, he asked that the shawl which had been pinned across
the window might be removed so that he could see her, and thus judge
better of her condition. They took the shawl away, and the sunlight came
streaming in, disclosing to the doctor’s view the face never before seen
distinctly, or thought about, if seen. It was ghastly pale, save where
the hot blood seemed bursting through the cheeks, while the beautiful
brown hair was brushed back from the brow where the veins were swollen
and full. The lips were slightly apart, and the hot breath came in
quick, panting gasps, while occasionally a faint moan escaped them, and
once the doctor heard, or thought he heard, the sound of his own name.
One little dimpled hand lay upon the bedspread, but the doctor did not
touch it. Ordinarily he would have grasped it as readily as if it had
been a piece of marble, but the sight of Maddy, lying there so sick, and
the fearing he had helped to bring her where she was, awoke to life
a curious state of feeling with regard to her, making him almost as
nervous as on the day when she appeared before him as candidate No. 1.

“Feel her pulse, doctor; they are faster most than you can count,”
 Grandma Markham whispered; and thus entreated, the doctor took the soft
hand in his own, its touch sending through his frame a thrill such as
the touch of no other hand had ever sent.

Somehow the act reassured him. All fear of Maddy vanished, leaving
behind only an intense desire to help, if possible, the young girl whose
fingers seemed to cling around his own as he felt for and found the
rapid pulse.

“If she could awaken,” he said, laying the hand softly down and placing
his other upon her forehead, where the great sweat drops lay.

And, after a time, Maddy did awaken, but in the eyes fixed, for a
moment, so intently on him, there was no look of recognition, and the
doctor was half glad that it was so. He did not wish her to associate
him with her late disastrous disappointment; he would rather she should
think of him as some one come to cure her, for cure her he would, he
said to himself, as he gazed into her childish face and thought how sad
it was for such as she to die. When first he entered the cottage he had
been struck with the extreme plainness of the furniture, betokening
that wealth had not there an abiding place, but now he forgot everything
except the sick girl, who grew more and more restless, talking of him
and the Latin verb which meant “to love,” she said, and which was not in
the grammar.

“Guy was a fool and I was a brute,” the doctor muttered, as he folded
up the bits of paper whose contents he hoped might do much toward saving
Maddy’s life.

Then, promising to come again, he rode rapidly away, to visit other
patients, who, that afternoon, were in danger of being sadly neglected,
so constantly was their young physician’s mind dwelling upon the little,
low-walled chamber where Maddy Clyde was lying. As night closed in she
knew them all, and heard that Dr. Holbrook had been there prescribing
for her. Turning her face to the wall, she seemed to be thinking; then,
calling her grandmother to her, she whispered: “Did he smooth my hair
back and say, ‘poor child?’”

Her grandmother hardly thought he did, though she was not in the room
all the time, she said. “He had stayed a long while and was greatly
interested.”

Maddy had a vague remembrance of such an incident, and in her heart
forgave the doctor for his rejection, thinking only how handsome he had
looked, even while tormenting her with such unheard of questions, and
how kind he was to her now. The sight of her grandfather awakened a new
train of ideas, and bidding him to sit beside her, she asked if their
home must be sold. Maddy was not to be put off with an evasion, and so
grandpa told her honestly at last that Slocum would foreclose, but not
while she was sick; he had been seen that day by Mr. Green, and had
promised so much forbearance.

This was the last rational conversation held with Maddy for many a week,
and when next morning the doctor came, there was a look of deep anxiety
upon his face as he watched the alarming symptoms of his delirious
patient, who talked incessantly, not of the examination now, but of the
mortgage and the foreclosure, begging the doctor to see that the
house was not sold, to tell them she was earning thirty-six dollars by
teaching school, that Beauty should be sold to save their dear old home.
All this was strange at first to the doctor, but the rather voluble
Mrs. Green, who had come to Grandma Markham’s relief, enlightened him,
dwelling with a kind of malicious pleasure upon the fact that Maddy’s
earnings, had she been permitted to get a “stifficut,” were to be
appropriated toward paying the debt.

If the doctor had hated himself the previous day when he from the red
cottage gate, he hated himself doubly now as he went dashing down the
road, determined to resign his office of school inspector that very day.
And he did.

Summoning around him those who had been most active in electing him, he
refused to officiate again, assuring them that if any more candidates
came he should either turn them from his door or give them a certificate
without asking a question.

“Put anybody you like in my place,” he said; “anybody but Guy Remington.
Don’t for thunder’s sake take him.”

There was no probability of this, as Guy lived in another town, and
could not have officiated had he wished. But the doctor was too much
excited to reason upon anything save Madeline Clyde’s case. That he
perfectly understood; and during the next few weeks his other patients
waited many times in vain for his coming, while he sat by Maddy’s side
watching every change, whether for the worse or better. Even Agnes
Remington was totally neglected; and so one day she sent Guy down to
Devonshire to say that as Jessie seemed more than usually delicate, she
wished the doctor to take her under his charge and visit her at least
once a week. The doctor was not at home, but Tom said he expected him
every moment. So seating himself in the armchair, Guy waited until he
came.

“Well, Hal,” he began, jocosely, but the joking words he would have
uttered next died on his lips as he noticed the strange look of
excitement and anxiety on the doctor’s face. “What is it?” he asked.
“Are all your patients dead?”

“Guy,” and the doctor came closely to him, whispering huskily, “you and
I are murderers in the first degree. Yes; and both deserve to be hung.
Do you remember that Madeline Clyde whom you insulted with your logic
and Latin verbs? She’d set her heart on that certificate. She wanted
the money, not for new gowns and fooleries mind, but to help her old
grandfather pay his debts. His place is mortgaged. I don’t understand
it; but he asked some old hunks to lend him the money, and the miserly
rascal, whoever he was, refused. I wish I had it. I’d give it to him out
and out. But that’s nothing to do with the girl--Maddy they call her.
The disappointment killed her, and she’s dying--is raving crazy--and
keeps talking of that confounded examination. I tell you, Guy, my inward
parts get terribly mixed up when I hear her talk, and my heart thumps
like a trip-hammer. That’s the reason I have not been up to Aikenside. I
wouldn’t leave Maddy so long as there was hope. I did not tell them
this morning. I couldn’t make that poor couple feel worse than they are
feeling; but when I looked at her, tossing from side to side and picking
at the bedclothes, I knew it would soon be over--that when I saw her
again the poor little arms would be still enough and the bright eyes
shut forever. Guy, I couldn’t see her die--I don’t like to see anybody
die, but her, Maddy, of all others--and so I came away. If you stay long
enough, you’ll hear the bell toll, I reckon. There is none at Honedale
Church, which they attend. They are Episcopalians, you see, and so
they’ll come up here, maybe. I hope I shall be deafer than an adder.”

Here the doctor stopped, wholly out of breath, while Guy for a moment
sat without speaking a single word. Jessie, in his hearing, had told her
mother what the sick girl in the doctor’s office had said about being
poor and wanting the money for grandpa, while Mrs. Noah had given him
a rather exaggerated account of Mr. Markham’s visit; but he had not
associated the two together until now, when he saw the whole, and almost
as much as the doctor himself regretted the part he had had in Maddy’s
illness and her grandfather’s distress.

“Doc,” he said, laying his hand on the doctor’s arm, “I am that old
hunks, the miserly rascal who refused the money. I met the old man going
home that day, and he asked me for help. You say the place must be sold.
It never shall, never. I’ll see to that, and you must save the girl.”

“I can’t, Guy. I’ve done all I can, and now, if she lives, it will be
wholly owing to the prayers that old saint of a grandfather says for
her. I never thought much of these things until I heard him pray; not
that she should live anyway, but that if it were right Maddy might not
die. Guy, there’s something in such a prayer as that. It’s more powerful
than all my medicine swallowed at one grand gulp.”

Guy didn’t know very much about praying then, and so he did not respond,
but he thought of Lucy Atherstone, whose life was one hymn of prayer and
praise, and he wished she could know of Maddy, and join her petitions
with those of the grandfather. Starting suddenly from his chair, he
exclaimed, “I’m going down there. It will look queerly, too, to go
alone. Ah, I have it! I’ll drive back to Aikenside for Jessie, who has
talked so much of the girl that her lady mother, forgetting that she
was once a teacher, is disgusted. Yes, I’ll take Jessie with me, but you
must order it; you must say it is good for her to ride, and, Hal, give
me some medicine for her, just to quiet Agnes, no matter what, provided
it’s not strychnine.”

Contrary to Guy’s expectations, Agnes did not refuse to let Jessie
go for a ride, particularly as she had no suspicion where he intended
taking her, and the little girl was soon seated by her brother’s side,
chatting merrily of the different things they passed upon the road. But
when Guy told her where they were going, and why they were going there,
the tears came at once into her eyes, and hiding her face in Guy’s lap
she sobbed bitterly.

“I did like her so much that day,” she said, “and she looked so sorry,
too. It’s terrible to die!”

Then she plied Guy with questions concerning Maddy’s probable future.
“Would she go to heaven, sure?” and When Guy answered at random, “Yes,”
 she asked, “How did he know? Had he heard that Maddy was that kind of
good which lets folks in heaven? Because, Brother Guy,” and the little
preacher nestled closely to the young man, fingering his coat buttons
as she talked, “because, Brother Guy, folks can be good--that is, not do
naughty things--and still God won’t love them unless they--I don’t know
what, I wish I did.”

Guy drew her nearer to him, but to that childish yearning for knowledge
he could not respond, so he said:

“Who taught you all this, little one?--not your mother, surely.”

“No, not mamma, but Miriam, the waiting-maid we left in Boston. She told
me about it, and taught me to pray different from mamma. Do you pray,
Brother Guy?”

The question startled the young man, who was glad his coachman spoke to
him just then, asking if he should drive through Devonshire village, or
go direct to Honedale by a shorter route.

They would go to the village, Guy said, hoping that thus the doctor
might be persuaded to accompany them. This diverted Jessie’s mind, and
she said no more of praying; but the first tiny grain was sown, the
mustard seed, which should hereafter spring up into a mighty tree, the
indirect result of Maddy’s disappointment and almost fatal illness.
They found the doctor at home and willing to go with them. Indeed, so
impatient had he become listening for the first stroke of the bell which
was to herald the death he deemed so sure, that he was on the point of
mounting his horse and galloping off alone, when Guy’s invitation came.
It was five miles from Devonshire to Honedale, and when they reached a
hill which lay halfway between, they stopped for a few moments to rest
the tired horses. Suddenly, as they sat waiting, a sharp, ringing sound
fell on their ears, and grasping Guy’s knee, the doctor said, “I told
you so; Madeline Clyde is dead.”

It was the village bell, and its twice three strokes betokened that it
tolled for somebody youthful, somebody young, like Maddy Clyde. Jessie
wept silently, but there were no tears in the eyes of the young men, as
with beating hearts they sat listening to the slow, solemn sounds which
came echoing up the hill. There was a pause; the sexton’s dirgelike task
was done, and now it only remained for him to strike the age, and tell
how many years the departed one had numbered.

“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten;” Jessie
counted it aloud, while every stroke fell like a heavy blow upon the
hearts of the young men, who a few weeks ago, knew not that such as
Maddy Clyde had ever had existence.

How long it seemed before another stroke, and Guy was beginning to hope
they’d heard the last, when again the dull, muffled sound came floating
on the air, and Dr. Holbrook’s black, bearded lip half quivered as he
now counted aloud, “one, two, three, four, five.”

That was all; there it stopped; and vain were all their listenings to
catch another note. Fifteen years, and only fifteen had passed over the
form now forever still.

“She was fifteen,” Guy whispered, remembering distinctly to have heard
that number from Maddy herself.

“I thought they told me fourteen, but of course it’s she,” the doctor
rejoined. “Poor child, I would have given much to have saved her.”

Jessie did not talk; only once, when she asked Guy, if it was very far
to heaven, and if he supposed Maddy had got there by this time.

“We’ll go just the same,” said Guy. “I will do what I can for the
old man;” and so the carriage drove on, down the hill, across the
meadow-land, and past a low-roofed house whose walls inclosed the
stiffened form of him for whom the bell had tolled, the boy, fifteen
years of age, who had been the patient of another than Dr. Holbrook.

Maddy was not dead, but the paroxysm of restlessness had passed, and
she lay now in a heavy sleep so nearly resembling death that they who
watched, waited expectantly to see the going out of her last breath.
Never before had a carriage like that from Aikenside stopped at that
humble cottage, but the neighbors thought it came merely to bring the
doctor, whom they welcomed with a glad smile, making a way for him to
pass to Maddy’s bedside. Guy preferred waiting in the carriage until
such time as Grandpa Markham could speak with him, but Jessie went
with the doctor into the sick room, startling even the grandmother, and
causing her to wonder who the richly-dressed child could be.

“Dying, doctor,” said one of the women, affirmatively, not
interrogatively; but the doctor shook his head, and holding in one hand
his watch he counted the faint pulse beats as with his eye he measured
off the minute.

“There are too many here,” he said. “She needs the air you are
breathing,” and in his singular, authoritative way, he cleared the
crowded room of the mistaken friends who were unwittingly breathing up
Maddy’s very life.

All but the grandparents and Jessie; these he suffered to remain, and
sitting down by Maddy, watched till the long sleep was ended. Silently
and earnestly the aged couple prayed for their darling, asking that if
possible she might be spared, and God heard their prayers, lifting,
at last, the heavy fog from Maddy’s brain, and waking her to life and
partial consciousness. It was Jessie who first caught the expression of
the opening eyes, and darting forward, she exclaimed, “She’s waked up,
Dr. Holbrook. She will live.”

Wonderingly Maddy looked at her, and then as a confused recollection
of where they had met before crossed her mind, she smiled faintly, and
said:

“Where am I now? Have I never come home, and is this Dr. Holbrook’s
office?”

“No, no; it’s home, your home, and you are getting well,” Jessie cried,
bending over the bewildered girl. “Dr. Holbrook has cured you, and Guy
is here, and I, and--”

“Hush, you disturb her,” the doctor said, gently pulling Jessie away,
and himself asking Maddy how she felt.

She did not recognize him. She only had a vague idea that he might be
some doctor, but not Dr. Holbrook, sure; not the one who had so puzzled
and tortured her on a day which seemed now so far behind. From
the white-haired man kneeling by the bedside there was a burst of
thanksgiving for the life restored, and then Grandpa Markham tottered
from the room, out into the open air, which had never fallen so
refreshingly on his tried frame as it fell now, when he first knew that
Maddy would live. He did not care for his homestead; that might go,
and he still be happy with Maddy left. But He who had marked that true
disciple’s every sigh, had another good in store, willing it so that
both should come together, even as the two disappointments had come hand
in hand.

From the soft cushions of his carriage, where he sat reclining, Guy
Remington saw the old man as he came out, and alighting at once, he
accosted him pleasantly, and then walked with him to the garden, where,
on a rustic bench, built for Maddy beneath the cherry trees, Grandpa
Markham sat down to rest. From speaking of Madeline it was easy to go
back to the day when Guy had first met grandpa, whose application for
money he had refused.

“I have thought better of it since,” he said, “and am sorry I did not
accede to your proposal. One object of my coming here to-day was to say
that my purse is at your disposal. You can have as much as you wish,
paying me whenever you like, and the house shall not be sold. Slocum,
I understand, holds the mortgage. I will see him to-morrow and stop the
whole proceeding.”

Guy spoke rapidly, determined to make a clean breast of it, but grandpa
understood him, and bowing his white head upon his bosom, the big tears
dropped like rain upon the turf, while his lips quivered, first with
thanks to the Providence who had truly done all things well, and next
with thanks to his benefactor.

“Blessings on your head, young man, for making me so happy. You are
worthy of your father, and he was the best of men.”

“My father--did you know him?” Guy asked, in some surprise, and then the
story came out, how, years before, when a city hotel was on fire, and
one of its guests in imminent danger from the locality of his room,
and his own nervous fear which made him powerless to act, another guest
braved fearlessly the hissing flame, and scaling the tottering wall,
dragged out to life and liberty one who, until that hour, was to him an
utter stranger.

Pushing back his snowy hair, Grandfather Markham showed upon his temple
a long, white scar, obtained the night when he periled his own life to
save that of another. There was a doubly warm pressure now of the old
man’s hand, as Guy replied, “I’ve heard that story from father himself,
but the name of his preserver had escaped me. Why didn’t you tell me who
you were?”

“I thought ‘twould look too much like demanding it as a right--too
much like begging, and I s’pose I felt too proud. Pride is my besetting
sin--the one I pray most against.”

Guy looked keenly now at the man whose besetting sin was pride, and as
he marked the cheapness of his attire, his pantaloons faded and short,
his coat worn threadbare and shabby, his shoes both patched at the toes,
his cotton shirt minus a bosom, and then thought of the humble cottage,
with its few rocky acres, he wondered of what he could be proud.

Meantime, for Maddy, Dr. Holbrook had prescribed perfect quiet, bidding
them darken again the window from which the shade had been removed, and
ordering all save the grandmother to leave the room and let the patient
sleep, if possible. Even Jessie was not permitted to stay, though Maddy
clung to her as to a dear friend. In a few whispered words Jessie had
told her name, saying she came from Aikenside, and that her Brother Guy
was there, too, outdoors, in the carriage. “He heard how sick you were
at Devonshire, this morning, and drove right home for me to come to see
you. I told him of you that day in the office, and that’s why he brought
me, I guess. You’ll like Guy. I know all the girls do--he’s so good.”

Sick and weary as she was, and unable as yet to comprehend the entire
meaning of all she heard, Maddy was conscious of a thrill of pride in
knowing that Guy Remington, from Aikenside, was interested in her,
and had brought his sister to see her. Winding her feeble arms around
Jessie’s neck, she kissed the soft, warm cheek, and said, “You’ll come
again, I hope.”

“Yes, every day, if mamma will let me. I don’t mind it a bit, if you are
poor.”

“Tut, tut, little tattler!” and Dr. Holbrook, who, unseen by the
children, had all the while been standing near, took Jessie by the arm.
“What makes you think them poor?”

In the closely-shaded room Maddy could see nothing distinctly, but she
heard Jessie’s reply: “Because the plastering comes down so low, and
Maddy’s pillows are so teenty, not much bigger than my dolly’s. But I
love her; don’t you doctor?”

Through the darkness the doctor caught the sudden flash of Maddy’s eyes,
and something impelled him to lay his cool, broad hand on her forehead,
as he replied, “I love all my patients;” then, taking Jessie’s arm, he
led her out to where Guy was waiting for her.



CHAPTER VI. -- CONVALESCENCE.


Had it not been for the presence of Dr. Holbrook, who, accepting Guy’s
invitation to tea, rode back with him to Aikenside, Mrs. Agnes would
have gone off into a passion when told that Jessie had been “exposed to
fever and mercy knows what.”

“There’s no telling what one will catch among the very poor,” she said
to Dr. Holbrook, as she clasped and unclasped the heavy gold bracelets
flashing on her white, round arm.

“I’ll be answerable for any disease Jessie caught at Mr. Markham’s,” the
doctor replied.

“At Mr. Who’s? What did you call him?” Agnes asked, the bright color on
her cheek fading as the doctor replied:

“Markham--an old man who lives in Honedale. You never knew him, of
course.”

Involuntarily Agnes glanced at Guy, in whose eye there was, as she
fancied, a peculiar expression. Could it be he knew the secret she
guarded so carefully? Impossible, she said to herself; but still the
white fingers trembled as she handled the china and silver, and for
once she was glad when the doctor took his leave, and she was alone with
Jessie.

“What was that girl’s name?” she asked, “the one you went to see?”

“Maddy, mother--Madeline Clyde. She’s so pretty. I’m going to see her
again. May I?”

Agnes did not reply directly, but continued to question the child with
regard to the cottage which Jessie thought so funny, slanting away back,
she said, so that the roof on one side almost touched the ground. The
window panes, too, were so very tiny, and the room where Maddy lay sick
was small and low.

“Yes, yes, I know,” Agnes said at last, impatiently, weary of hearing of
the cottage whose humble exterior and interior she knew so much better
than Jessie herself.

But this was not to be divulged; for surely the haughty Agnes Remington,
who, in Boston, aspired to lead in society into which, as the wife of
Dr. Remington, she had been admitted, and who, in Aikenside, was looked
upon with envy, could have nothing in common with the red cottage or its
inmates. So when Jessie asked again if she could not visit Maddy on the
morrow, she answered decidedly: “No, daughter, no. I do not wish you to
associate with such people,” and when Jessie insisted on knowing why
she must not associate with such people as Maddy Clyde, the answer
was: “Because you are a Remington,” and as if this of itself were of an
unanswerable objection, Agnes sent her child from her, refusing to talk
longer on a subject so disagreeable to her and so suggestive of the
past. It was all in vain that Jessie, and even Guy himself, tried to
revoke the decision. Jessie should not be permitted to come in contact
with that kind of people, she said, or incur the risk of catching that
dreadful fever.

So day after day, while life and health were slowly throbbing through
her veins, Maddy waited and longed for the little girl whose one visit
to her sick room seemed so much like a dream. From her grandfather she
had heard the good news of Guy Remington’s generosity, and that, quite
as much as Dr. Holbrook’s medicines, helped to bring the color back to
the pallid cheek and the brightness to her eyes.

She was asleep the first time the doctor came after the occasion of
Jessie’s visit, and as sleep, he said, would do her more good than
anything he might prescribe, he did not awaken her; but for a long time,
as it seemed to Grandma Markham, who stood very little in awe of the
Boston doctor, he watched her as she slept, now clasping the blue-veined
wrist as he felt for the pulse, and now wiping from her forehead the
drops of sweat, or pushing back her soft, damp hair. It would be three
days before he could see her again, for a sick father in Cambridge
needed his attention, and after numerous directions as to the
administering of sundry powders and pills, he left her, feeling that the
next three days would be long ones to him. Dr. Holbrook did not stop
to analyze the nature of his interest in Maddy Clyde--an interest so
different from any he had ever felt before for his patients; and even if
he had sought to solve the riddle, he would have said that the knowing
how he had wronged her was the sole cause of his thinking far more of
her and of her case than of the thirty other patients on his list. Dr.
Holbrook was a handsome man, a thorough scholar, and a most skillful
physician; but ladies who expected from him those little polite
attentions which the sex value so highly generally expected in vain,
for he was no ladies’ man, and his language and manners were oftentimes
abrupt, even when both were prompted by the utmost kindness of heart. In
his organization, too, there was not a quick perception of what would
be exactly appropriate, and so, when, at last, he was about starting to
visit Maddy again, he puzzled his brains until they fairly ached with
wondering what he could do to give her a pleasant surprise and show that
he was not as formidable a personage as her past experience might lead
her to think.

“If I could only take her something,” he said, glancing ruefully around
his office. “Now, if she were Jessie, nuts and raisins might answer--but
she must not eat such trash as that,” and he set himself to think again,
just as Guy Remington rode up, bearing in his hand a most exquisite
bouquet, whose fragrance filled the medicine-odored office at once,
and whose beauty elicited an exclamation of delight even from the
matter-of-fact Dr. Holbrook.

“I thought you might be going down to Honedale, as I knew you returned
last night, so I brought these flowers for your patient with my
compliments, or if you prefer I give them to you, and you can thus
present them as if coming from yourself.”

“As if I would do that,” the doctor answered, taking the bouquet in his
hand the better to examine and admire it. “Did you arrange it, or your
gardener?” he asked, and when Guy replied that the merit of arrangement,
if merit there were, belonged to himself, he began to deprecate his own
awkwardness and want of tact. “Here I have been cudgeling my head this
half hour trying to think what I could take her as a peace offering,
and could think of nothing, while you--Well, you and I are different
entirely. You know just what is proper--just what to say, and when to
say it--while I am a perfect bore, and without doubt shall make some
ludicrous blunder in delivering the flowers. To-day will be the first
time really that we meet, as she was sleeping when I was there last,
while on all other occasions she has paid no attention whatever to me.”

For a moment Guy regarded his friend attentively, noticing now that
extra care had been bestowed upon his toilet, that the collar was fresh
from the laundry, and the new cravat tied in a most unexceptionable
manner, instead of being twisted into a hard knot, with the ends looking
as if they had been chewed.

“Doc,” he said, when his survey was completed, “how old are
you--twenty-five or twenty-six?”

“Twenty-five--just your age--why?” and the doctor looked with an
expression so wholly innocent of Guy’s real meaning that the latter,
instead of telling why, replied:

“Oh! nothing; only I was wondering if you would do to be my father.
Agnes, I verily believe, is more than half in love with you; but, on
the whole, I would not like to be your son; so I guess you’d better take
some one younger--say Jessie. You are only eighteen years her senior.”

The doctor stared at him amazed, and when he had finished said with the
utmost candor: “What has that to do with Madeline? I thought we were
talking of her.” “Innocent as the newly-born babe,” was Guy’s mental
comment, as he congratulated himself on his larger and more varied
experience.

And truly Dr. Holbrook was as simple-hearted as a child, never dreaming
of Guy’s meaning, or that any emotion save a perfectly proper one had a
lodgment in his breast as he drove down to Honedale, guarding carefully
Guy’s bouquet, and wishing he knew just what he ought to say when he
presented it.

Maddy had gained rapidly the last three days. Good nursing and the
doctor’s medicines were working miracles, and on the morning when the
doctor, with Guy’s bouquet, was riding rapidly toward Honedale, she was
feeling so much better that in view of his coming she asked if she could
not be permitted to receive him sitting in the rocking-chair, instead of
lying there in bed, and when this plan was vetoed as utterly impossible,
she asked, anxiously:

“And must I see him in this nightgown? Can’t I have on my pink gingham
wrapper?”

Hitherto Maddy had been too sick to care at all about her personal
appearance, but it was different now. She did care, and thoughts of
meeting again the handsome, stylish-looking man who had asked her to
conjugate _amo_ and whom she fully believed to be Dr. Holbrook, made her
rather nervous. Dim remembrances she had of some one gliding in and
out, and when the pain and noise in her head was at its highest, a hand,
large, and, oh! so cool had been laid upon her temples, quieting their
throbbings and making the blood course less madly through the swollen
veins. They had told her how kind, how attentive he had been, and to
herself she had said: “He’s sorry about that certificate. He wishes to
show me that he did not mean to be unkind. Yes; I forgive him: for I
really was very stupid that afternoon.”

And so, in a most forgiving frame of mind, Maddy submitted to the snowy
robe which grandma brought in place of the coveted gingham wrapper, and
which became her well, with its daintily-crimped ruffles about the neck
and wrists. Those wrists and hands! How white and small they had grown!
and Maddy sighed, as her grandmother buttoned together the wristbands,
to see how loose it was.

“I have been very sick,” she said. “Are my cheeks as thin as my arms?”

They were not, though they had lost some of their symmetrical roundness.
Still there was much of childish beauty in the young, eager face, and
the hair had lost comparatively none of its glossy brightness.

“That’s him,” grandma said, as the sound of a horse’s gallop was heard,
and in a moment the doctor reined up before the gate.

From Mrs. Markham, who met him in the door, he learned how much better
she was; also how “she has been reckoning on this visit, making herself
all a-sweat about it.”

Suddenly the doctor felt returning all his old dread of Maddy Clyde.
Why should she wrong herself into a sweat? What was there in that visit
different from any other? Nothing, he said to himself, nothing; and
yet he, too, had been more anxious about it than any he had ever paid.
Depositing his hat and gloves upon the table, he followed Mrs. Markham
up the stairs, vaguely conscious of wishing she would stay down, and
very conscious of feeling glad; when just at Maddy’s door and opposite a
little window, she espied the hens busily engaged in devouring the yeast
cakes, with which she had taken so much pains, and which she had placed
in the hot sun to dry. Finding that they paid no heed to her loud “Shoo,
shoos,” she started herself to drive them away, telling the doctor to go
right on and to help himself.

The perspiration was standing under Maddy’s hair by this time, and when
the doctor stepped across the threshold, and she knew he really was
coming near her, it oozed out upon her forehead in big, round drops,
while her cheeks glowed with a feverish heat. Thinking he should get
along with it better if he treated her just as he would Jessie, the
doctor confronted her at once, and asked:

“How is my little patient to-day?”

A faint scream broke from Maddy’s lips, and she involuntarily raised
her hands to thrust the stranger away. This black-eyed, black-haired,
thick-set man was not Dr. Holbrook, for he was taller, and more slight,
while she had not been deceived in the dark brown eyes which, even while
they seemed to be mocking her, had worn a strange fascination for the
maiden of fourteen and a half. The doctor fancied her delirious again,
and this reassured him at once. Dropping the bouquet upon the bed, he
clasped one of her hands in his, and without the slightest idea that she
comprehended him, said, soothingly:

“Poor child, are you afraid of me--the doctor, Dr. Holbrook?” Maddy did
not try to withdraw her hand, but raising her eyes, swimming in tears,
to his face, she stammered out:

“What does it mean, and where is he--the one who--asked me--those
dreadful questions? I thought that was Dr. Holbrook.”

Here was a dilemma--something for which the doctor was not prepared, and
with a feeling that he would not betray Guy, he said:

“No; that was some one else--a friend of mine--but I was there in the
back office. Don’t you remember me? Please don’t grow excited. Compose
yourself, and I will explain all by and by. This is wrong. ‘Twill never
do,” and talking thus rapidly he wiped away the sweat, about which
grandma had told him.

Maddy was disappointed, and it took her some time to rally sufficiently
to convince the doctor that she was not flighty, as he termed it; but
composing herself at last, she answered all his questions, and then,
as he saw her eyes wandering toward the bouquet, he suddenly remembered
that it was not yet presented, and placing it in her hands, he said:

“You like flowers, I know, and these are for you. I----”

“Oh! thank you, thank you, doctor; I am so glad. I love them so much,
and you are so kind. What made you think to bring them? I’ve wanted
flowers so badly; but I could not have them, because I was sick and
did not work in the garden. It was so good in you,” and in her delight
Maddy’s tears dropped upon the fair blossoms.

For a moment the doctor was sorely tempted to keep the credit thus
enthusiastically given; but he was too truthful for that, and so
watching her as her eyes glistened with pleased excitement, he said:

“I am glad you like them, Miss Clyde, and so will Mr. Remington be. He
sent them to you from his conservatory.”

“Not Mr. Remington from Aikenside--not Jessie’s brother?” and Maddy’s
eyes now fairly danced as they sought the doctor’s face.

“Yes Jessie’s brother. He came here with her. He is interested in you,
and brought these down this morning.”

“It was Jessie, I guess, who sent them,” Maddy suggested, but the doctor
persisted that it was Guy.

“He wished me to present them with his compliments. He thought they
might please you.”

“Oh! they do, they do!” Maddy replied. “They almost make me well. Tell
him how much I thank him, and like him too, though I never saw him.”

The doctor opened his lips to tell her she had seen him, but changed his
mind ere the words were uttered. She might not think as well of Guy, he
thought, and there was no harm in keeping it back.

So Maddy had no suspicion that the face she thought of so much belonged
to Guy Remington. She had never seen him, of course; but she hoped
she would some time, so as to thank him for his generosity to her
grandfather and his kindness to herself. Then, as she remembered
the message she had sent him, she began to think that it sounded too
familiar, and said to the doctor:

“If you please, don’t tell Mr. Remington that I said I liked him--only
that I thank him. He would think it queer for a poor girl like me to
send such word to him. He is very rich, and handsome, and splendid,
isn’t he?”

“Yes, Guy’s rich and handsome, and everybody likes him. We were in
college together.”

“You were?” Maddy exclaimed. “Then you know him well, and Jessie, and
you’ve been to Aikenside often? There’s nothing in the world I want so
much as to go to Aikenside. They say it is so beautiful.”

“Maybe I’ll carry you up there some day when you are strong enough to
ride,” the doctor answered, thinking of his light buggy at home,
and wondering he had not used it more, instead of always riding on
horseback.

Dr. Holbrook looked much older than he was, and to Maddy he seemed quite
fatherly, so that the idea of riding with him, aside from the honor it
might be to her, struck her much as riding with Farmer Green would have
done. The doctor, too, imagined that his proposition was prompted solely
from disinterested motives, but he found himself wondering how long it
would be before Maddy would be able to ride a little distance, just over
the hill and back. He was tiring her all out talking to her; but somehow
it was very delightful there in that sick room, with the summer sunshine
stealing through the window and falling upon the soft reddish-brown head
resting on the pillows. Once he fixed those pillows, arranging them
so nicely that grandma, who had come in from her hens and yeast cakes,
declared “he was as handy as a woman,” and after receiving a few general
directions with regard to the future, “guessed, if he wasn’t in a hurry,
she’d leave him with Maddy a spell, as there were a few chores she must
do.”

The doctor knew that at least a dozen individuals were waiting for him
that moment; but still he was in no hurry, he said, and so for half an
hour longer he sat there talking of Guy, and Jessie, and Aikenside, and
wondering he had never before observed how very becoming a white wrapper
was to sick girls like Maddy Clyde. Had he been asked the question, he
could not have told whether his other patients were habited in buff, or
brown, or tan color; but he knew all about Maddy’s garb, and thought the
dainty frill around her slender throat the prettiest “puckered piece”
 that he had ever seen. How, then, was Dr. Holbrook losing his heart to
that little girl of fourteen and a half? He did not think so. Indeed, he
did not think anything about his heart, though thoughts of Maddy Clyde
were pretty constantly with him, as after leaving her he paid his round
of visits.

The Aikenside carriage was standing at Mrs. Conner’s gate when he
returned, and Jessie came running out to meet him, followed by Guy,
while Agnes, in the most becoming riding habit, sat by the window
looking as unconcerned at his arrival as if it were not the very event
for which she had been impatiently waiting, Jessie was a great pet with
the doctor, and, lifting her lightly in his arms, he kissed her forehead
where the golden curls were clustering and said to her:

“I have seen Maddy Clyde. She asked for you, and why you do not come to
see her, as you promised.”

“Mother won’t let me,” Jessie answered. “She says they are not fit
associates for a Remington.”

There was a sudden flash of contempt on the doctor’s face, and a gleam
of wrath in Agnes’ eyes as she motioned Jessie to be silent, and then
gracefully received the doctor, who by this time was in the room. As if
determined to monopolize the conversation, and keep it from turning
on the Markhams, Agnes rattled on for nearly fifteen minutes, scarcely
allowing Guy a chance for uttering a word. But Guy bided his time, and
seized the first favorable opportunity to inquire after Madeline.

She was improving rapidly, the doctor said, adding: “You ought to have
seen her delight when I gave her your bouquet.”

“Indeed,” and Agnes bridled haughtily; “I did not know that Guy was in
the habit of sending bouquets to such as this Clyde girl. I really must
report him to Miss Atherstone.”

Guy’s seat was very near to Agnes, and while a cloud overspread his fine
features, he said to her in an aside:

“Please say in your report that the worst thing about this Clyde girl is
that she aspires to be a teacher, and possibly a governess.”

There was an emphasis on the last word which silenced Agnes and set her
to beating her French gaiter on the carpet; while Guy, turning back to
the doctor, replied to his remark:

“She was pleased, then?”

“Yes; she must be vastly fond of flowers, though I sometimes fancied the
fact of being noticed by you afforded almost as much satisfaction as
the bouquet itself. She evidently regards you as a superior being, and
Aikenside as a second Paradise, and asking innumerable questions about
you and Jessie, too.”

“Did she honor me with an inquiry?” Agnes asked, her tone indicative of
sarcasm, though she was greatly interested as well as relieved by the
reply:

“Yes; she said she heard that Jessie’s mother was a beautiful woman, and
asked if you were not born in England.”

“She’s mixed me up with Lucy. Guy, you must go down and enlighten her,”
 Agnes said, laughing merrily and appearing more at ease than she had
before since Maddy Clyde had been the subject of conversation.

Guy did not go down to Honedale--but fruit and flowers, and once a
bottle of rare old wine, found their way to the old red cottage,
always brought by Guy’s man, Duncan, and always accompanied with Mr.
Remington’s compliments. Once, hidden among the rosebuds, was a childish
note from Jessie, some of it printed and some in the uneven hand of a
child just commencing to write.

It was as follows:

“DEAD MADDY: I think that is such a pretty name, and so does Guy, and so
does the doctor, too. I want to come see you, but mamma won’t let me.
I think of you ever so much, and so does Guy, I guess, for he sends
you lots of things. Guy is a nice brother, and is most as old as mamma.
Ain’t that funny? You know my first ma is dead. The doctor tells us
about you when he comes to Aikenside. I wish he’d come oftener, for I
love him a bushel--don’t you? Yours respectfully,

“JESSIE AGNES REMINGTON.

“P. S.--I am going to tuck this in just for fun, right among the buds,
where you must look for it.”

This note Maddy read and reread until she knew it by heart, particularly
the part relating to Guy. Hitherto she had not particularly liked her
name, greatly preferring that it should have been Eliza Ann, or
Sarah Jane; but the knowing that Guy Remington fancied it made a vast
difference, and did much toward reconciling her. She did not even see
the clause, “and the doctor, too.” His attentions and concern she took
as a matter of course, so quietly and so constantly had they been given.
The day was very long now which did not bring him to the cottage; but
she missed him much as she would have missed her brother, if she had had
one, though her pulse always quickened and her cheeks glowed when she
heard him at the gate. The inner power did not lie deeper than a great
friendliness for one who had been instrumental in saving her life.
They had talked over the matter of her examination, the doctor blaming
himself more than was necessary for his ignorance as to what was
required of a teacher; but when she asked who was his proxy, he had
again answered, evasively: “A friend from Boston.”

And this he did to shield Guy, whom he knew was enshrined in the little
maiden’s heart as a paragon of all excellence.



CHAPTER VII. -- THE DRIVE.


Latterly the doctor had taken to driving in his buggy, and when Maddy
was strong enough he took her with him one day, himself adjusting the
shawl which grandma wrapped around her, and pulling a little farther on
the white sunbonnet which shaded the sweet, pale face, where the roses
were just beginning to bloom again. The doctor was very happy that
morning, and so, too, was Maddy, talking to him upon the theme of
which she never tired, Guy Remington, Jessie and Aikenside. Was it as
beautiful a place as she had heard it was, and didn’t he think it would
be delightful to live there?

“I suppose Mr. Guy will be bringing a wife there some day when he finds
one,” and leaning back in the buggy Maddy heaved a little sigh, not at
thoughts of Guy Remington’s wife, but because she began to feel tired,
and thus gave vent to her weariness.

The doctor, however, did not so construe it. He heard the sigh, and for
the first time when listening to her as she talked of Guy, a keen throb
of pain shot through his heart, a something as near akin to jealousy as
it was possible for him then to feel. But all unused as he was to the
workings of love he did not at that moment dream of such an emotion in
connection with Madeline Clyde. He only knew that something affected him
unpleasantly, prompting him, for some reason, to tell Maddy Clyde
about Lucy Atherstone, who, in all probability, would one day come to
Aikenside as its mistress.

“Yes, Guy will undoubtedly marry,” he began, just as over the top of
the easy hill they were ascending horses’ heads were visible, and the
Aikenside carriage appeared in view. “There he is now,” he exclaimed,
adding quickly: “No, I am mistaken, there’s only a lady inside. It must
be Agnes.”

It was Agnes driving out alone, for the sole purpose of passing a
place which had a singular attraction for her, the old, red cottage in
Honedale. She recognized the doctor, and guessed whom he had with him,
Putting up her glass, for which she had no more need than Jessie, she
scrutinized the little figure bundled up in shawls, while she smiled
her sweetest smile upon the doctor, showing to good advantage her white
teeth, and shaking back her wealth of curls with the air and manner of a
young coquettish girl.

“Oh, what a handsome lady! Who is she?” Maddy asked, turning to look
after the carriage now swiftly descending the hill.

“That was Jessie’s mother, Mrs. Agnes Remington,” the doctor replied.
“She’ll feel flattered with your compliment.”

“I did not mean to flatter. I said what I thought. She is handsome,
beautiful, and so young, too. Was that a gold bracelet which flashed so
on her arm?”

The doctor presumed it was, though he had not noticed. Gold bracelets
were not new to him as they were to Maddy, who continued:

“I wonder if I’ll ever wear a bracelet like that?”

“Would you like to?” the doctor asked, glancing at the small white
wrist, around which the dark calico sleeve was closely buttoned,
and thinking how much prettier and modest-looking it was than Agnes’
half-bare arms, where the ornaments were flashing.

“Y-e-s,” came hesitatingly from Maddy, who had a strong passion for
jewelry. “I guess I would, though grandpa classes all such things with
the pomps and vanities which I must renounce when I get to be good.”

“And when will that be?” the doctor asked.

Again Maddy sighed, as she replied: “I cannot tell. I thought so much
about it while I was sick, that is, when I could think; but now I’m
better, it goes away from me some. I know it is wrong, but I cannot help
it. I’ve seen only a bit of pomp and vanity, but I must say that I like
what I have seen, and I wish to see more. It’s very wicked, I know,” she
kept on, as she met the queer expression of the doctor’s face; “and I
know you think me so bad. You are good--a Christian, I suppose?”

There was a strange light in the doctor’s eye as he answered, half
sadly: “No, Maddy, I am not what you call a Christian, I have not
renounced the pomps and vanities yet.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry,” and Maddy’s eyes expressed all the sorrow she
professed to feel. “You ought to be, now you’ve got so old.”

The doctor colored crimson, and stopping his horse under the dim shadow
of a maple in a little hollow, he said:

“I’m not so very old, Maddy; only twenty-five--only ten years older than
yourself; and Agnes’ husband was more than twenty years her senior.”

The doctor did not know why he dragged that last in, when it had nothing
whatever to do with their conversation; but as the most trivial thing
often leads to great results, so far from the pang caused by Maddy’s
thinking him so old, was born the first real consciousness he had ever
had that the little girl beside him was very dear, and that the ten
years difference between them might prove a most impassable gulf. With
this feeling, it was exceedingly painful for him to hear Maddy’s sudden
exclamation:

“Oh, oh! over twenty years--that’s dreadful. She must be most glad he’s
dead. I would not marry a man more than five years older than I am.”

“Not if you loved him, and he loved you very, very dearly?” the doctor
asked, his voice low and tender in its tone.

Wholly unsuspicious of the wild storm beating in his heart, Maddy untied
her white sunbonnet, and, taking it in her lap, smoothed back her soft
hair, saying, with a long breath: “Oh! I’m so hot,” and then, as just
thinking of his question, replied: “I shouldn’t love him--I couldn’t.
Grandma is five years younger than grandpa, mother was five years
younger than father, Mrs. Green is five years younger than Mr. Green,
and, oh! ever so many. You are warm, too; ain’t you?” and she turned
her innocent eyes full upon the doctor, who was wiping from his lips the
great drops of water, induced not so much by the heat as by the apparent
hopelessness of the love he now knew was growing in his heart for Maddy
Clyde. Recurring again to Agnes, Maddy said: “I wonder why she married
that old man? It is worse than if you were to marry Jessie.”

“Money and position were the attractions, I imagine,” the doctor
said. “Agnes was poor, and esteemed it a great honor to be made Mrs.
Remington.”

“Poor, was she?” Maddy rejoined. “Then maybe Mr. Guy will some day marry
a poor girl. Do you think he will?”

Again Lucy Atherstone trembled on the doctor’s lips, but he did not
speak of her--it was preposterous that Maddy should have any thoughts of
Guy Remington, who was quite as old as himself, besides being engaged,
and with this comforting assurance the doctor turned his horse in the
direction of the cottage, for Maddy was growing tired and needed to be
at home.

“Perhaps you’ll some time change your mind about people so much older,
and if you do you’ll remember our talk this morning,” he said, as he
drove up at last before the gate.

Oh, yes! Maddy would never forget that morning or the nice ride they’d
had. She had enjoyed it so much, and she thanked him many times for his
kindness, as she stood waiting for him to drive away, feeling no tremor
whatever when at parting he took and held her hand, smoothing it gently,
and telling her it was growing fat and plump again. He was a very nice
doctor, much better than she had imagined, she thought, as she went
slowly to the house and entered the neat kitchen, where her grandmother
sat shelling peas for dinner, and her grandfather in his leathern chair
was whispering over his weekly paper.

“Did you meet a grand lady in a carriage?” grandma asked, as Maddy sat
down beside her.

“Yes; and Dr. Holbrook said it was Mrs. Remington, from Aikenside, Mr.
Guy’s stepmother, and that she was more than twenty years younger than
her husband--isn’t it dreadful? I thought so; but the doctor didn’t
seem to,” and in a perfectly artless manner Maddy repeated much of the
conversation which had passed between the doctor and herself, appealing
to her grandma to know if she had not taken the right side of the
argument.

“Yes, child, you did,” and grandma’s hands lingered among the light
green peas in her pan, as if she were thinking of an entirely foreign
subject. “I knows nothing about this Mrs. Remington, only that she
stared a good deal at the house as she went by, even looking at us
through a glass, and lifting her spotted veil after she got by. She may
have been as happy as a queen with her man, but as a general thing these
unequal matches don’t work, and had better not be thought on. S’posin’
you should think you was in love with somebody, and in a few years, when
you got older, be sick of him. It might do him a sight of harm. That’s
what spoilt your poor Great-uncle Joseph, who’s been in the hospital at
Worcester goin’ on nine years.”

“It was!” and Maddy’s face was all aglow with the interest she always
evinced whenever mention was made of the one great living sorrow of her
grandmother’s life--the shattered intellect and isolation from the world
of her youngest brother, who, as she said, had for nearly nine long
years been an inmate of a madhouse.

“Tell me about it,” Maddy continued, bringing a pillow, and lying down
upon the faded lounge beneath the window.

“There is no great to tell, only he was many years younger than I.
He’s only forty-one now, and was thirteen years older than the girl he
wanted. Joseph was smart and handsome, and a lawyer, and folks said a
sight too good for the girl, whose folks were just nothing, but she had
a pretty face, and her long curls bewitched him. She couldn’t have been
older than you when he first saw her, and she was only sixteen when they
got engaged. Joseph’s life was bound up in her; he worshiped the very
air she breathed, and when she mittened him, it almost took his life.
He was too old for her, she said, and then right on top of that we heard
after a little that she married some big bug, I never knew who, plenty
old enough to be her father. That settled it with Joseph; he went into
a kind of melancholy, grew worse and worse, till we put him in the
hospital, usin’ his little property to pay the bill until it was all
gone, and now he’s on charity, you know, exceptin’ what we do. That’s
what ‘tis about your Uncle Joseph, and I warn all young girls of
thirteen or fourteen not to think too much of nobody. They are bound to
get sick of ‘em, and it makes dreadful work.”

Grandma had an object in telling this to Maddy, for she was not blind
to the nature of the doctor’s interest in her child, and though it
gratified her pride, she felt that it must not be, both for his sake
and Maddy’s, so she told the sad story of Uncle Joseph as a warning
to Maddy, who could scarcely be said to need it. Still it made an
impression on her, and all that afternoon she was thinking of the
unfortunate man, whom she had seen but once, and that in his prison
home, where she had been with her grandfather the only time she had ever
ridden in the cars. He had taken her in his arms then, she remembered,
and called her his little Sarah. That must have been the name of his
treacherous betrothed. She would ask if it were not so, and she did.

“Yes, Sarah Morris, that was her name, and her face was handsome as
a doll,” grandma replied, and wondering if she were as beautiful as
Jessie, or Jessie’s mother, Maddy went back to her reveries of the poor
maniac, whom Sarah Morris had wronged so cruelly.



CHAPTER VIII. -- SHADOWINGS OF WHAT WAS TO BE.


It was very pleasant at Aikenside that afternoon, and the cool breeze
blowing from the miniature fish pond in one corner of the grounds, came
stealing into the handsome parlors, where Agnes Remington, in tasteful
toilet, reclined languidly upon the crimson-hued sofa, bending her
graceful head to suit the height of Jessie, who was twining some flowers
among her curls, and occasionally appealing to Guy to know “if it was
not pretty.”

In his favorite seat in the pleasant bay window, opening into the
garden, Guy was sitting, apparently reading a book, though his eyes did
not move very rapidly down the page, for his thoughts were on some other
object. When his pretty stepmother first came to Aikenside, three months
before, he had been half sorry, for he knew just how his quiet would
be disturbed, but as the weeks went by, and he became accustomed to
Jessie’s childish prattle and frolicsome ways, while even Agnes herself
was not a bad picture for his handsome home, he began to feel how he
should miss them when they were gone, Jessie particularly, who made so
much sunshine wherever she went, and who was very dear to the heart of
the half-brother. Full well he knew Agnes would rather stay there, that
her income did not warrant as luxurious a home as he could give her, and
that by remaining at Aikenside during the warmer season she could afford
to board through the winter in Boston, where her personal attractions
secured her quite as much attention as was good for her. Had she been
more agreeable to him he would not have hesitated to offer her a home
as long as she chose to remain, but, as it was, he felt that Lucy
Atherstone would be much happier alone with him. Lucy, however, was
not coming yet, and until she did come Agnes perhaps might stay. It
certainly would be better for Jessie, who could have a teacher in the
house, and it was upon these matters that he was reflecting.

As if divining his thoughts Agnes said to him rather abruptly:

“Guy, Ellen Laurie writes me that they are all going to Saratoga for
a time, and then to Newport, and she wished I would join them. Do you
think I can afford it?”

“Oh, yes, that’s splendid, for I’ll stay here while you are gone, and
I like Aikenside so much better than Boston. Mamma can afford it, can’t
she, Guy?” Jessie exclaimed, dropping her flowers and springing upon her
brother’s knee.

Smoothing her bright hair and pinching her soft cheek, Guy replied:

“That means, I suppose, that I can afford it, don’t it? but, puss, I was
thinking just now about your staying here where you really do improve.”

Then turning to Agnes he made some inquiries as to the plans proposed
by the Laurie’s, ascertaining that Agnes’ plan was as follows: He should
invite her to go with him to Saratoga, or Newport, or both, and that
Jessie meantime should remain at Aikenside, just as she wished to do.

Guy could not find much pleasure in escorting Agnes to a fashionable
watering place, particularly as he was, of course, expected to pay the
bills, but he sometimes did unselfish things; and as he had not been
very gracious to her on the occasion of her last visit to Aikenside,
he decided to martyr himself and go to Saratoga. But who would care for
Jessie? She must not be left wholly with the servants. A governess of
some kind must be provided, and he was about speaking of this to Agnes,
when the doctor was announced, and the conversation turned into another
channel. Agnes Remington would not have confessed how much she was
interested in Dr. Holbrook. Indeed, only that morning in reply to a
joking remark made to her by Guy, she had petulantly exclaimed:

“The idea of my caring for him, except as a friend and physician. Why,
he must be younger than I am, or at most about my age. A mere boy, as it
were.”

And yet, in making her toilet that afternoon, she had arranged every
part of her dress with direct reference to the “mere boy,” her heart
beating faster every time she remembered the white sunbonnet and the
Scotch plaid shawl she had seen beside him in the drive that morning.
Little Maddy Clyde would hardly have credited the story had she been
told that the beautiful lady from Aikenside was positively jealous of
Dr. Holbrook’s attentions to herself; yet so it was, and the jealousy
was all the more bitter when she remembered who Madeline was, and how
startled that aged couple of the red cottage would be, could they know
who she was. But they did not; she was quite sure of that; and so she
had ventured to pass their door, her heart throbbing with a strange
sensation as the old waymarks came in view, waymarks which she
remembered so well, and around which so many sad memories were
clustering. Agnes was not all bad. Indeed, she was scarcely worse than
most vain, selfish fashionable women; and all that day, since her return
from riding, haunting, remorseful thoughts of the long ago had been
clinging to her, making her more anxious to leave that neighborhood for
a time at least, and in scenes of gayety forget, if possible, that such
things as broken vows or broken hearts existed.

The arrival of the doctor dissipated her sadness in a measure, and
after greeting him with her usual expressions of welcome, she said, half
playfully, half spitefully:

“By the way, doctor, who was that old lady, all bent up double in shawls
and things, whom you were taking out for an airing?”

Guy looked up quickly, wondering where Agnes could have seen the doctor,
who, conscious of a sudden pang, answered, naturally:

“That old lady, bent double and bundled in shawls, was young Maddy
Clyde, to whom I thought a short ride might do good.”

“Oh, yes; that patient about whom Jessie has gone mad. I am glad to have
seen her.”

There was unmistakable irony in her voice now, and turning from her to
Guy, the doctor continued:

“The old man was telling me to-day of your kindness in saving his house
from being sold. It was like you, Guy; and I wish I, too, had the means
to be generous, for they are so very poor.”

“I’ll tell you,” said Jessie, who had stolen to the doctor’s side, and
lain her fat, bare arm upon his shoulder, as if he had been Guy. “You
might give Maddy the doctor’s bill. I remember how mamma cried, and said
she never could pay papa’s bill when it was sent in.”

“Jessie!” said Agnes and Guy, simultaneously, while the doctor
laughingly pulled one of her long, bright curls.

“Yes, I could do that. I’d thought of it, but they might not accept it,
as they are proud as well as poor.”

“Mr. Markham has no one to care for but his wife and this Madeline, has
he?” Agnes asked, and the doctor replied:

“I did not suppose so until a few days since, when I learned from a
Mr. Green that Mrs. Markham’s youngest and now only brother has been an
inmate of a lunatic asylum for years; and that though they cannot pay
his entire expenses, of course they do all they can toward providing him
with comforts.”

“What is a lunatic asylum, mother? What does he mean?” Jessie asked, but
it was the doctor, not Agnes, who explained to the child what a lunatic
asylum was.

“Is insanity hereditary in this family?” Guy asked.

Agnes’ cheek was very white, though her face was fumed away as the
doctor answered: “I do not know; I did not ask the cause. I only heard
the fact that such a man as Joseph Mortimer exists.”

For a moment there was silence in the room, and then Guy told the doctor
of what himself and Agnes were speaking when he arrived.

“I suppose it’s of no use asking you to join us for a week or so.”

“There was not,” the doctor said. “His patients needed him and he must
stay at home.”

“Doctor, how would this Maddy Clyde do to stay here with Jessie while we
are gone, partly as companion and partly as her teacher?” was Guy’s next
question, which brought Mrs. Agnes at once from her reverie.

“Guy,” she exclaimed, “are you crazy? That child Jessie’s governess! No,
indeed! I shall have a teacher from Boston--one whose manners and style
are unexceptionable.”

Guy had a will of his own, and few could provoke it into action as
effectually as Agnes, who, in thus opposing him, was working directly
against herself. Paying her no attention, except to bow in token that he
heard, Guy asked Jessie her opinion.

“Oh, it will be splendid! Can she come to-morrow? I shan’t care how long
you are gone if I can have Maddy here, and doctor will come up every
day, will you, doctor?” and the soft eyes looked up pleadingly into the
doctor’s face.

“It is not settled yet that Maddy comes,” the doctor replied, adding as
an answer to Guy’s question: “If Agnes could be willing, I do not think
you could do better than to secure Miss Clyde’s services. Two children
will thus be made happy, for Maddy, as I have told you, thinks Aikenside
must be a little lower only than Paradise. I shall be happy to open
negotiations, if you say so.”

“I’ll ride down and let you know to-morrow,” Guy said. “These domestic
matters, where there is a difference of thinking, had better be
discussed alone,” and he turned good-humoredly toward Agnes, who knew it
was useless to oppose him then.

But oppose him she did that night, after the doctor had gone, taking
at first the high stand that sooner than have a country girl like
Maddy Clyde associated daily with her daughter, whether as teacher or
companion, she would give up Saratoga and stay at home. Guy could not
explain why it was that opposition from Agnes always aroused all his
powers of antagonism. Yet so it was, and now he was as fully determined
that Maddy Clyde should come to Aikenside as Agnes was that she should
not. He knew, too, how to attain this end without further altercation.

“Very well,” was his quiet reply, “you can remain at home if you choose,
of course. I had intended taking you myself, wherever you wished to go;
and not only that, but I was about to ask how much was needed for the
necessary additions to your wardrobe, but if you prefer remaining here
to giving up a most unfounded prejudice against a girl who never harmed
you, and whom Jessie already loves, you can do so,” and Guy walked from
the room, leaving Agnes first to cry, then to pout, then to think it all
over, and finally to decide that going to Saratoga and Newport under
the protection of Guy, was better than carrying out a whim, which, after
all, was nothing but a whim.

Accordingly next morning as Guy was in his library reading his papers,
she went tripping up to him, and folding her white hands upon his
shoulder, said, very prettily:

“I was real cross last night, and let my foolish pride get the
ascendency, but I have considered the matter, and am willing for this
Miss Clyde to come, provided you still think it best.”

Guy’s mustache hid the mischievous smile lurking about his mouth, and
he received the concession as graciously as if he did not know perfectly
the motive which impelled it. As she had commenced being amiable she
seemed determined to continue it, and offered herself to write a note
soliciting Maddy’s services,

“As I am Jessie’s mother, it will be perfectly proper for me to hire and
manage her,” she said, and as Guy acquiesced in this suggestion, she sat
down at the writing desk, and commenced a very pleasantly worded note,
in which Miss Clyde was informed that she had been recommended as a
suitable person with whom to leave Jessie during the summer and a part
of the autumn, and that she, Jessie’s mother, wrote to ask if for the
sum of one dollar per week she were at liberty to come to Aikenside as
governess, or waiting-maid.

“Or what?” Guy asked, as she read to him what she had written. “Maddy
Clyde will not be waiting-maid in this house, neither will she come for
one dollar per week as you propose. I hire her myself. I have taken
a fancy to the girl. Commence again; substitute companion for
waiting-maid, and offering her three dollars per week instead of one.”

As long as Guy paid the bill Agnes could not demur to the price,
although remembering a time when she had taught a district school
for one dollar per week and boarded around besides. She thought three
dollars far too much. But Guy had commanded, and him she generally
obeyed, so she wrote another note, which he approved, and sealing it up
sent it by a servant down to the red cottage.



CHAPTER IX. -- THE DECISION.


The reception of Agnes’ note produced quite a commotion at the red
cottage, where various opinions were expressed as to the prime mover of
the plan, grandpa thinking that as Mrs. Agnes wrote the note, and
was most interested in it, she, of course, had suggested it, grandma
insisting that it was Jessie’s doings, while Maddy, when she said
anything, agreed with her grandmother, though away down in her heart
was a tiny spot warm with the half belief that Mr. Guy himself had first
thought of having her at Aikenside, where she would rather go than to
any other spot in the wide world; to Aikenside, with its shaven lawn,
almost large enough to be called a park, with its shaded paths and
winding walks, its costly flowers and running vines, its fountains and
statuary, its fish pond and grove, its airy rooms, its marbled hall, its
winding stairs, with banisters of rosewood, its cupola at the top, from
which so many miles of hill and meadow land could be discerned, its bay
windows and long piazzas, its sweet-faced, golden-haired Jessie, and its
manly, noble Guy. Only the image of Agnes, flashing in silk and diamonds
was a flaw on the picture’s fair surface. From thoughts of her Maddy had
insensibly shrank, until she met her in the carriage, and then received
the note asking her services. These events wrought in her a change, and
dread of Mrs. Agnes passed away. She should like her, and she should be
so happy at Aikenside, for, of course, she was going, and she began to
wish the doctor would come so as to tell her how long before she would
be strong enough to perform the duties of teacher to little Jessie.

At first Grandpa Markham hesitated. It might do Maddy a deal of hurt to
go to Aikenside, he said, her humble home would look mean to her after
all that finery, while the temptations to vanity and ambition would be
greater there than at home; but Maddy put all his objections aside, and
long before the doctor came she had written to Mrs. Agnes that she would
go. The doctor could not understand why it was that in Maddy’s home
he did not think as well of her going to Aikenside as he had done the
evening previous. She looked so bright, so pure, so artless, sitting
by her grandfather’s knee, that it seemed a pity to transplant her to
another soil, while, hidden in his heart where even he did not know it
was hidden, was a fear of what might be the effect of daily intercourse
with Guy. Still he said it was the best thing for her to do, and
laughingly remarked that it was far better than teaching the district
school, and then he asked if she would ride again that day; but to
this Mrs. Markham objected. It was too soon, she said, Maddy had hardly
recovered from yesterday’s fatigue, suggesting that as the doctor was
desirous of doing good to his convalescent patients, he carry out poor
old deaf Mary Barnes, who complained that he stayed so long with the
child at “granther Markham’s” as to have but a moment to spare for her.

Instantly the eyes of Mrs. Markham and the doctor met, the latter
feeling very uncomfortable, while the former was confirmed in the
suspicion raised by what Maddy told her the day before.

It was the doctor who carried Maddy’s answer to Agnes, the doctor who
made all the succeeding arrangements, deciding that Maddy would not be
wholly strong until the very day fixed upon by Agnes for her departure
for Saratoga. For this Guy was sorry. It would have been an easy matter
for him to have ridden down to the cottage, and seen the girl in whom he
was beginning to feel so much interest that in his last letter to Lucy
he had mentioned her as about to become his sister’s governess; but he
did not care to see her there. It seemed to him that the surroundings
of that slanting-roofed house did not belong to her, and he would rather
meet her in his own more luxurious home. But the doctor’s word was law,
and so, on the first day of August he followed Agnes and her three huge
traveling trunks to the carriage, and was driven from the house to which
Maddy was coming that afternoon.



CHAPTER X. -- AT AIKENSIDE.


It was a long, tiresome ride, for grandpa, from Honedale to Aikenside,
and as he was not in his wife’s secret, he accepted thankfully the
doctor’s offer to take Maddy there himself. With this arrangement Maddy
was well pleased, as it would thus afford her the opportunity she had so
much desired, of talking with the doctor about his bill, and asking him
to wait until she had earned enough to pay it.

To the aged couple, parting for the first time with their darling, the
day was very sad, but they would not intrude their grief upon the young
girl looking so eagerly forward to the new life opening before her;
only grandpa’s voice faltered a little when, in the morning prayer,
he commended his child to God, asking that she might be kept from
temptation, and that the new sights and scenes to which she was going
might not beget in her a love of the world’s vanities, or a disgust for
her old home; but that she might come back to it the same loving, happy
child as she was then, and never be ashamed of the parents to whom
she was so dear. There was an answering sob from the chair where Maddy
knelt, and after the devotions were ended she wound her arm around
her grandfather’s neck, and parting his silvery locks, said to him,
earnestly;

“Grandpa, do you think I could ever be ashamed of you and grandma?”

“I hope not, darling; it would break our hearts; but finery and things
is mighty apt to set folks up, and after you’ve walked a spell on them
velvet carpets, you’ll no doubt think your feet make a big noise on our
bare kitchen floor.”

“That may be, but I shan’t be ashamed of you. No, not if I were Mrs. Guy
Remington herself.” And Maddy emphasized her words with a kiss, as she
thought how nice it would be provided she were a widow, to be Mrs. Guy
Remington, and have her grandparents live at Aikenside with her.

“But, pshaw! I’ll never be Mrs. anybody; and if I am, I’ll have to have
a husband, which would be such a bother!” was her next mental comment,
as, leaving her grandfather, she went to help her grandmother with the
breakfast dishes, wondering when she would wipe those blue cups again,
and how she should probably feel when she did.

Quickly the morning passed, and just as the clock struck two the
doctor’s buggy appeared over the hill. Up to this moment Maddy had only
been happy in anticipation; but when, with her shawl and bonnet on, she
stood waiting while the doctor fastened her little trunk, and when she
saw a tear on the wrinkled faces of both her grandparents, her fortitude
gave way; and ‘mid a storm of sobs, she said her good-bys and received
her grandfather’s blessing.

It was very pleasant that afternoon, for the summer breeze was blowing
cool across the fields, where the laborers were busy; and with the
elasticity of youth, Maddy’s tears stopped their flowing, but not until
the dear old home had disappeared, and they were some distance on the
road to Aikenside.

“I wonder how I shall like Mrs. Remington and Mr. Guy?” was the first
remark she made.

“You’ll not see them immediately. They left this morning for Saratoga,”
 the doctor replied.

“Left! Mr. Guy gone!” Maddy repeated in a disappointed tone.

“Are you very sorry?” the doctor asked, and Maddy replied:

“I did want to see him once; you know I never have.”

It would be such a surprise to find that Guy was no other than the
terrible inspector, that he would not undeceive her, the doctor thought;
and so he relapsed into a thoughtful mood, from which Maddy aroused him
by breaking the subject of the unpaid bill, asking if he’d please not
trouble grandpa, but wait until she could pay it.

“Perhaps it’s wrong asking it when you were so good, but if you only
will take me for payment,” and Maddy’s soft brown eyes were lifted to
his face.

“Yes, Maddy, I’ll take you for payment,” the doctor said, smiling, half
seriously, as his eyes rested fondly upon her.

Even then stupid Maddy did not understand him, but began to calculate
out loud how long it would take to earn the money. She’d heard people
say that the doctor charged a dollar a visit to Honedale, and he’d been
so many, many times, that it would take a great many weeks to pay him;
besides, there was the debt to Mr. Guy. She wanted to help pay that, but
did not see how she could, unless he waited, too. Did the doctor think
he would? It seemed terrible to the doctor that one so young as Maddy
should be harassed with the payment of debts, and he felt a most intense
desire for the right to shield her from all such care, but he must
not speak of it then; he’d rather she should remain a little longer an
artless child, confiding all her troubles to him as if he had been her
brother.

“There’s Aikenside,” he said, at last, and it was not long before they
passed through the gate, guarded by the great bronze lions, and struck
into the graveled road leading to the house.

“It’s grander, finer, than I ever dreamed. Oh! if I could some time have
just such a home! and doctor, look! What does make that water go up in
the air so? Is it what they call a fountain?”

In her excitement Maddy had risen, and with one hand resting on the
doctor’s shoulder, was looking around her eagerly. Guy Remington
would have laughed, and been gratified, too, could he have heard the
enthusiastic praises heaped upon his home by the little schoolgirl as
she drove up to his door. But Guy was away in the dusty cars, and only
Jessie stood on the piazza to receive her teacher. There were warm
words of welcome, kisses and hugs; and then Jessie led her friend to the
chamber she was to occupy.

“Mother wanted you to sleep the other side of the house, but Brother
Guy said no, you should have a pleasant room; and when Guy says a thing,
it’s so. It’s nice in here, and close to me. See, I’m right here,” and
Jessie opened a door leading directly to her own sleeping room.

“Here’s one trunk,” she continued, as a servant brought up and set down,
a little contemptuously, the small hair-cloth box containing Maddy’s
wardrobe. “Here’s one; where’s the rest?” and she was flying after Tom,
when Maddy stopped her, saying:

“I have but one--that’s all.”

“Only that little, teenty thing? How funny. Why, mamma carried three
most as big as my bed to Saratoga. You can’t have many dresses. What are
you going to wear to dinner?”

“I’ve been to dinner.” And Maddy looked up in some surprise.

“You have! We never have it till five, when Guy is at home; but now they
are gone, Mrs. Noah says we will have it at one, as folks ought to do.
To-day I coaxed her to wait till you come, and the table is all set out
so nicely for two. Can you carve, and do you like green turtle soup?”

Maddy was bewildered, but managed to reply that she could not carve,
that she never saw any green turtle soup, and that she supposed she
should wear to dinner the delaine she had on. “Why, we always change,
even Mrs. Noah,” Jessie exclaimed, bending over the open trunk and
examining its contents.

Two calicoes, a blue muslin, a gingham and another delaine, beside the
one she had on. That was the sum total of Maddy’s wardrobe, and Jessie
glanced at it a little ruefully as Maddy carefully shook out the nicely
folded dresses and laid them upon the bed. Here Mrs. Noah was heard
calling Jessie, who ran away leaving Maddy alone for a moment.

Maddy had seen the look Jessie gave her dresses, and for the first time
there dawned upon her mind the possibility that her plain apparel, and
ignorance of the ways of Aikenside might be to her the cause of much
mortification.

“And grandma said they were so nice, too--doing them up so carefully,”
 she said, her lip beginning to quiver, and her eyes filling with tears,
as thoughts of home came rushing over her.

She could not force them back, and laying her head upon the top of the
despised hair trunk, she sobbed aloud. Guy Remington’s private room was
in that hall, and as the doctor knew a book was to have been left there
for him, he took the liberty of getting it; passing Maddy’s door he
heard the low sound of weeping, and looking in, saw her where she sat or
rather knelt upon the floor.

“Homesick so soon!” he said, advancing to her side, and then amid a
torrent of tears, the whole came out.

Maddy never could do as they did there, and everybody would laugh at her
so for an awkward thing; she never knew that folks ate dinner at five
instead of twelve--she should surely starve to death--she couldn’t
carve--she could not eat mud-turtle soup, and she did not know which
dress to wear for dinner--would the doctor tell her? There they were,
and she pointed to the bed, only five, and she knew Jessie thought it so
mean.

Such was the substance of Maddy’s passionate outpouring of her griefs
to the highly perplexed doctor, who, after quieting her somewhat,
ascertained that the greatest present trouble was the deciding what
dress was suitable to the occasion. The doctor had never made dress his
study, but as it happened he liked blue, and so suggested it, as the one
most likely to be becoming.

“That!” and Maddy looked confounded. “Why, grandma never let me wear
that, except on Sunday; that’s my very best dress.”

“Poor child; I’m not sure it was right for you to come here where the
life is so different from the quiet, unpretentious one you have led,”
 the doctor thought, but he merely said: “It’s my impression they wear
their best dresses here, all the time.”

“But what will I do when that’s worn out! Oh, dear, dear, I wish I had
not come!” and another impetuous fit of weeping ensued, in the midst of
which Jessie came back, greatly disturbed on Maddy’s account, and asking
eagerly what was the matter.

Very adroitly the doctor managed to draw Jessie aside, while as well as
he was able he gave her a few hints with regard to her intercourse with
Maddy, and Jessie, who seemed intuitively to understand him, went back
to the weeping girl, soothing her much as a little mother would have
soothed her child. They would have such nice times, when Maddy got used
to their ways, which would not take long, and nobody would laugh at her,
she said, when Maddy expressed her fears on that point. “You are too
pretty even if you do make mistakes!” and then she went into ecstasies
over the blue muslin, which was becoming to Maddy, and greatly enhanced
her girlish beauty. The tear stains were all washed away, Jessie using
very freely her mother’s _eau-de-cologne_, and making Maddy’s cheeks
very red with rubbing, the nut-brown hair was brushed until it shone
like satin, a little narrow band of black velvet ribbon was pinned about
Maddy’s snowy neck, and then she was ready for that terrible ordeal, her
first dinner at Aikenside. The doctor was going to stay, and this helped
to relieve her somewhat.

“You must come to the housekeeper’s room and see her first,” Jessie
said, and with a beating heart and brain bewildered by the elegancies
which met her at every turn, Maddy followed to where the dreaded Mrs.
Noah, in rustling back silk and a thread lace collar, sat sewing and
greatly enjoying the leisure she had in her master’s absence.

Mrs. Noah knew who Maddy was, remembering the old man said that she
would not disgrace a drawing-room as fine as that at Aikenside. She had
discovered, too, that Mrs. Agnes was opposed to her coming, that only
Guy’s determined will had brought her there; and this, if nothing else,
had disposed her to feel kindly toward the little governess. She had
expected to see her rather pretty, but was not prepared to find her what
she was. Maddy’s was a singular type of beauty--a beauty untarnished by
any selfish, uncharitable, or suspicious feeling. Clear and truthful
as a mirror, her brown eyes looked into Mrs. Noah’s, while her low
courtesy--so full of deference, found its way straight to that motherly
heart.

“I am glad to see you, Miss Clyde,” she said, “very glad.”

Maddy’s lip quivered a little and her voice shook as she replied:

“Please call me Maddy. They do at home, and I shan’t be quite so--so--”

She could not say “homesick,” lest she should break out again into a
fit of crying, but Mrs. Noah understood her, and remembering her own
experience when first she went from home, she involuntarily stooped to
kiss the pure, white forehead of the girl, who henceforth was sure of
one friend at least at Aikenside.

The dinner was a success, so far as Maddy was concerned. Not a single
mistake did she perpetrate, though her cheeks burned painfully as she
felt the eyes of the polite waiters fixed so often upon her, and fancied
they might be laughing at her. But they were not, and thanks to the
kind-hearted Guy, they thought of her only with respect, as one who was
their superior and must be treated accordingly. Knowing how different
everything was at Aikenside from that to which she had been accustomed,
Guy, with the thoughtfulness natural to him, had taken the precaution
of speaking to each of the servants concerning Miss Clyde, Jessie’s
teacher. As he could not be there himself when she first came it would
devolve upon them, more or less, to make it pleasant for her by kind,
civil attentions, he said, hinting at the dire displeasure sure to fall
on any one who should be guilty of a misdemeanor in that direction. To
Paul, the coachman, he had been particular in his charges, telling him
who Maddy was, and arguing that from the insolence once given to the
grandfather the offender was bound to be more polite to the grandchild.
The carriage was to be at hers and Jessie’s command, Paul never refusing
a reasonable request to drive the young ladies when and where they
wished to go, while a pretty little black pony, recently broken to the
saddle for Agnes, was to be at Miss Clyde’s service, if she chose to
have it. As Guy’s slightest wish was always obeyed, Maddy’s chances for
happiness were not small, notwithstanding that she felt so desolate and
lonely when the doctor left her, and standing by Jessie she watched
him with a swelling heart until he was lost to view in the deepening
twilight.

Feeling that she must be homesick, Mrs. Noah suggested that she try the
fine piano in the little music-room.

“Maybe you can’t play, but you can drum ‘Days of Absence,’ as most girls
do,” and opening the lid she bade Maddy “thump as long as she liked.”

Music was a delight to Maddy, who coveted nothing so much as a knowledge
of it, and sitting down upon the stool, she touched the soft-toned
instrument, ascertaining by her far several sweet chords, and greatly
astonishing Jessie, who wondered at her skill. Twice each week a teacher
came up from Devonshire to give lessons to Jessie, but as yet she could
only play one scale and a few simple bars. These she attempted to teach
to Maddy, who caught at them so quickly and executed them so well that
Jessie was delighted. Maddy ought to take lessons, she said, and some
time during the next day she took to Mrs. Noah a letter which she had
written to Guy. After going into ecstasies over Maddy, saying she was
the nicest kind of a girl, that she prayed in the morning as well as at
night, and looked so sweet in blue, she asked if she couldn’t take music
lessons, too, advancing many reasons why she should, one of which was
that she could play now a great deal better than herself.

It was several days before an answer came to this letter, and when it
did it brought Guy’s consent for Maddy to take lessons, together with a
note for Mr. Simons, requesting him to consider Miss Clyde his pupil, on
the same terms with Jessie.

Though greatly pleased with Aikenside, and greatly attached to Jessie,
Maddy had had many hours of loneliness when her heart was back in the
humble cottage where she knew they were missing her so much, but now
a new world, a world of music, was suddenly opened before her, and the
homesickness all disappeared. It had been arranged with Mrs. Noah,
by Agnes, that Jessie should only study for two hours each day,
consequently Maddy had nearly all the time to herself, and well did
she improve it, making so rapid progress that Simons looked on amazed
declaring her case to be without a parallel, while Jessie was left far
behind. Indeed, after a short time Maddy might have been her teacher,
and was of much service to her in practicing her lessons.

Meanwhile the doctor came often to Aikenside, praising Maddy’s progress
in music, and though he did not know a single note, compelling himself
to listen while with childlike satisfaction she played him her last
lesson. She was very happy now at Aikenside, where all were so kind to
her, and half wished that the family would always remain as it was then,
that Agnes and Guy would not come home, for with their coming she felt
there would be a change. It was nearly time now to expect them. Indeed,
Guy had written on one Saturday that they should probably be home
the next, and during the ensuing week Aikenside presented that most
uncomfortable phase of a house being cleaned. Everything must be in
order for Mr. Guy, Mrs. Noah said, taking more pains with his rooms than
with the remaining portion of the building. Guy was her idol; nothing
was too good for him, few things quite good enough, and she said so much
in his praise that Maddy began to shrink from meeting him. What would
he think of her? Perhaps he might not notice her in the least, and that
would be terrible. But, no, a man as kind as he had shown himself to
her, would at least pay her some attention, and so at last she began to
anticipate his coming home, wondering what their first meeting would be,
what she should say to him, and what he would think of her.



CHAPTER XI. -- GUY AT HOME.


Saturday came at last, a balmy September day, when all nature seemed
conspiring to welcome the travelers for whom so extensive preparations
were making at Aikenside. They were expected at about six in the
afternoon, and just before that hour the doctor rode up to be in
readiness to meet them. In the dining-room the table was set as Maddy
had never seen it set before, making, with its silver, its china, and
cut-glass, a glittering display. There was Guy’s seat as carver, with
Agnes at the urn, while Maddy felt sure that the two plates between
Agnes and Guy were intended for Jessie and herself, the doctor occupying
the other side. Jessie would sit next her mother, which would leave her
near to Guy, where he could see every movement she made. Would he think
her awkward, or would he, as she hoped, be so much absorbed with the
doctor as not to notice her? Suppose she should drop her fork, or upset
one of those queer-looking goblets, more like bowls than anything else?
It would be terrible, and Maddy’s cheeks tingled at the very thought
of such a catastrophe. Were they goblets really, those funny colored
things, and if they were not, what were they? Summoning all her courage,
she asked the doctor, her prime counselor, and learned that they were
the finger-glasses, of which she had read, but which she had never seen
before.

“Oh, must I use them?” she asked, in so evident distress that the doctor
could not forbear a laugh as he told her it was not of the slightest
consequence whether she used them or not, advising her to watch Mrs.
Agnes, who was _au fait_ in all such matters.

Six o’clock came, but no travelers. Then an hour went by, and there came
a telegram that the cars had broken down and would not probably arrive
until late in the night, if indeed they did till morning. Greatly
disappointed, the doctor, after dinner, took his leave, telling the
girls they had better not sit up. Consequently, at a late hour they both
retired, sleeping so soundly as not to near the noise outside the house;
the banging of doors, the setting down of trunks, the tramp of feet,
Mrs. Noah’s words of welcome, one pleasant voice which responded, and
another more impatient one which sounded as if its owner were tired and
cross.

Agnes and Guy had come. As a whole, Agnes’ season at Saratoga had been
rather disagreeable. Guy, it is true had been exceedingly kind. She had
been flattered by brainless fops. She had heard herself called “that
beautiful Mrs. Remington,” and “that charming young widow,” but no
serious attentions had been paid, no millionaire had asked to be her
second husband. If there had, she would have said yes, for Agnes was not
averse to changing her state of widowhood. She liked the doctor, but
if he did not propose, and some other body did, she should accept that
other body, of course. This was her intention when she left Aikenside,
and when she came back, it was with the determination to raise the siege
at once, and compel the doctor to surrender. She knew he was not
wealthy as she could wish, but his family were the Holbrooks, and as she
positively liked him, she was prepared to waive the matter of money. In
this state of mind it is not surprising that the morning of the
return home she should listen with a troubled mind to Jessie’s rather
exaggerated account of the number of times the doctor had been there,
and the nice things he had said to her and Maddy.

“He had visited them ever so much, staying ever so long. I know Maddy
likes him; I do, anyway,” Jessie said, never dreaming of the passion
she was exciting, jealousy of Maddy, hatred of Maddy, and a desire to be
revenged on a girl whom Dr. Holbrook visited “ever so much.”

What was she that he should care for her? A mere nothing--a child, whom
Guy had taken up. Pity there was a Lucy Atherstone in the way of his
making her mistress of Aikenside. It would be a pretty romance, Guy
Remington and Grandpa Markham’s grandchild. Agnes was nervous and tired,
and this helped to increase her anger toward the innocent girl. She
would take immediate measures, she thought, to put the upstart down, and
the sight of Flora laying the cloth for breakfast suggested to her the
first step in teaching Maddy her place.

“Flora,” she said, “I notice you are arranging the table for four. Have
we company?”

“Why, no, ma’am; there’s Mr. Guy, yourself, Miss Jessie, and Miss
Clyde,” was Flora’s reply, while Agnes continued haughtily: “Remove Miss
Clyde’s plate. No one allows their governess to eat with them.”

“But, ma’am,” and Flora hesitated, “she’s very pretty, and ladylike, and
young; she has always eaten with Miss Jessie and Dr. Holbrook when he
was here. He treats her as if she was good as anybody.”

In her eagerness to serve Maddy and save her from insult, Flora was
growing bold, but she only hurt the cause by mentioning the doctor.
Agnes was determined now, and she replied:

“It was quite right when we were gone, but it is different now, and Mr.
Remington, I am sure, will not suffer it.”

“Might I ask him?” Flora persisted, her hand still on the plate.

“No,” Agnes would attend to that, and also see Miss Clyde. All Flora
had to do was to remove the plate, which she finally did, muttering to
herself: “Such airs! but I know Mr. Guy won’t stand it.”

Meantime Maddy had put on her prettiest delaine, tied her little dainty
black silk apron, Mrs. Noah’s gift, and with the feeling that she was
looking unusually well, started for the parlor to meet her employer,
Mrs. Agnes. Jessie had gone in quest of her brother, and thus Agnes was
alone when Maddy Clyde first presented herself before her. She had
not expected to find Maddy so pretty, and for a moment the hot blood
crimsoned her cheek, while her heart throbbed wildly beneath the rich
morning dress. Dr. Holbrook had cause for being attracted by that fresh,
bright face, she thought, and so she steeled herself against the better
impulses of her nature, impulses which pleaded that for the sake of the
past she should be kind to Maddy Clyde.

“Ah, good-morning. You are Jessie’s governess, I presume,” she said,
bowing distantly, and pretending not to notice the hand which Maddy
involuntarily extended toward her. “Jessie speaks well of you, and I am
very glad you suit her. You have had a pleasant time, I trust?”

Her voice was so cold and her manner so distant that Maddy’s eyes for
an instant filled with tears, but she answered civilly that she had been
very happy, and everybody was very kind. It was harder work to put
down Maddy Clyde than Agnes had expected, and after a little further
conversation there ensued a silence, which neither was inclined to
break. At last, summoning all her courage, Agnes began:

“Excuse me, Miss Clyde, but your own good sense, of which I am sure you
have an abundance, must tell you that now Mr. Remington and myself are
at home, your intercourse with our family must be rather limited--that
is--ahem--that is, neither Mr. Remington nor myself are accustomed to
having our governess very much with us. I suppose you have had the range
of the parlors, sitting there when you liked, and all this was perfectly
proper. Mind, I am finding no fault with you. It is all quite right,”
 she continued, as she saw the strange look of terror and surprise
visible on Maddy’s face. “The past is right, but in future it will be
a little different, I am willing to accord to a governess all the
privileges possible. They are human as well as myself, but society makes
a difference. Don’t you know it does?”

“Yes--no--I don’t know. Oh, pray tell me what I am to do!” Maddy gasped,
her face as white as ashes, and her eyes wearing as yet only a scared,
uncertain look.

With little, graceful tosses of the head, which set in motion every one
of the brown curls, Mrs. Agnes replied:

“You are not, of course, to go to Mr. Remington. It is my matter, and
does not concern him. What I wish is this: You are to come to the
parlor only when invited, and are not to intrude upon us at any time,
particularly when company is here, such as--well, such as Dr. Holbrook,
if you please. As you cannot be with Jessie all the while, you will,
when your labors as governess are over, sit in your own room, or the
schoolroom, or walk in the back yard, just as the higher servants
do--such as Mrs. Noah and the sewing girl, Sarah. Occasionally we shall
have you in to dine with us, but usually you will take your meals with
Mrs. Noah and Sarah. By following these directions you will, I think,
give entire satisfaction.”

When Mrs. Agnes had finished this, Maddy began to understand her
position, and into her white face the hot blood poured indignantly.
Wholly inexperienced, she had never dreamed that a governess was not
worthy to sit at the same table with her employer, that she must never
enter the parlors unbidden, or intrude herself in any way. No wonder
that her cheeks burned at the degradation, or that, for an instant,
she felt like defying the proud woman to her face. But the angry
words trembling on her tongue were repressed as she remembered her
grandfather’s teachings; and with a bow as haughty as any Mrs. Agnes
could have made, and a look on her face which could not easily be
forgotten, she left the room, and in a kind of stunned bewilderment
sought the garden, where she could, unseen, give way to her feelings.

Once alone, the torrent burst forth, and burying her face in the soft
grass, she wept bitterly, never hearing the step coming near, and not at
first heeding the voice which asked what was the matter. Guy Remington,
too, had come out into the garden, accidentally wandering that way, and
so stumbling upon the little figure crying in the grass. He knew it
was Maddy, and greatly surprised to find her thus, asked what was the
matter. Then, as she did not hear him, he laid his hand gently upon her
shoulder, compelling her to look up. In all her imaginings of Guy, she
had never associated him with the man who had so puzzled and confused
her, and now she did not for a time suspect the truth. She only thought
him a guest at Aikenside; some one come with Guy, and her degradation
seemed greater than before. She was not surprised when he called her
by name; of course he remembered her, just as she did him; but she did
wonder a little what Mrs. Agnes would say, could she know how kindly
he spoke to her, lifting her from the grass and leading her to a rustic
seat at no great distance from them.

“Now, tell me why you are crying so?” he said, brushing from her silk
apron the spot of dirt which had settled upon it. “Are you homesick?” he
continued, and then Maddy burst out again.

She forgot that he was a stranger, forgot everything except that he
sympathized with her.

“Oh, sir,” she sobbed, “I was so happy here till they came home,
Mrs. Remington and Mr. Guy. I never thought it was a disgrace to be
a governess; never heard it was so considered, or that I was not good
enough to eat with them till she told me this. Oh, dear, dear!” and
choked with tears Maddy stopped a moment to take breath.

She did not look up at the young man beside her, and it was well she did
not, for the dark expression of his face would have frightened her. Half
guessing the truth, and impatient to hear more, he said to her:

“Go on,” so sternly, that she started, and replied:

“I know you are angry with me and I ought not to have told you.”

“I am not angry--not at you at least--go on,” was Guy’s reply, and Maddy
continued:

“She told me that now they had come home it would be different, that
only when invited must I come to the parlor, or anywhere, but must stay
in the servants’ part, and eat with Mrs. Noah and Sarah. I’d just as
soon do that. I am no better than they, only, only--the way she told
me made me feel so mean, as if I was not anybody, when I am,” and here
Maddy’s pride began to rise. “I’m just as good as she, if grandpa is
poor, and I won’t stay here to be treated like a nigger by her and Mr.
Guy. I liked him so much too, because he was kind to grandpa and to me
when I was sick. Yes, I did like him so much.”

“And how is it now?” Guy asked, wondering who in the world she thought
he was. “How is it now?”

“I s’pose it’s wicked to feel such things on Sunday, but, somehow, what
she said keeps making me so bad that I know I hate her, and I guess I
hate Mr. Guy!”

This was Maddy’s answer, spoken deliberately, while she looked up at
the young man, who, with a comical expression about his mouth, answered
back:

“I am Mr. Guy.” “You, you! Oh, I can’t bear it! I will die!” and Maddy
sprang up as quickly as if feeling an electric shock.

But Guy’s arm was interposed to stop her, and Guy’s arm held her back,
while he asked where she was going.

“Anywhere, out of sight where you can never see me again,” Maddy sobbed
vehemently. “It is bad enough to have you think me a fool, as you must;
but now, oh what do you think of me?”

“Nothing bad, I assure you,” Guy said, still holding her wrist to keep
her there. “I supposed you knew who I was, but as you did not, I forgive
you for hating me so cordially. If you thought I sanctioned what Mrs.
Remington has said to you, you had cause to dislike me, but Miss Clyde,
I do not, and this is the first intimation I have had that you were
to be treated other than as a lady. I am master of Aikenside, not Mrs.
Agnes, who shall be made to understand it.”

“Oh, please don’t quarrel about me. Let me go home, and then all will
be well,” Maddy cried, feeling, at that moment, more averse to leaving
Aikenside than she could have thought it possible.

“We shall not quarrel, but I shall have my way; meanwhile go to your
room and stay there until told that I have sent for you.”

They went to the house together, but separated in the hall; Maddy
repairing to her room, while Guy sought Mrs. Agnes. The moment she
saw his face she knew a storm was coming, but was not prepared for the
biting sarcasm and bitter reproaches heaped upon her by one who, when
roused, was a perfect hurricane.

Maybe she had forgotten what she was when his father married her, he
said, but he had not, and he remembered well the wonder expressed by
many that his father should stoop to marry a poor school teacher. “Yes,
that’s what you were, madam, much as you despise Maddy Clyde for being a
governess; you were one once yourself, and before that time mercy knows
what you were--a hired girl, perhaps--your present airs would seem to
warrant as much!”

Guy was in a sad passion by this time, and failed to note the effect
his last words had on Agnes, who turned livid with rage and terror; but
smothering down her wrath, she said beseechingly:

“Pray, Guy, do not be so angry; I know I am foolish about some things,
and proud people who ‘come up’ as you say always are, I guess; I know
that marrying your father made me what I am, but everybody does not know
it, and it is not necessary they should. I don’t remember exactly what
I did say to this Clyde girl, but I thought it would be pleasanter for
you, pleasanter for us all, not to have her always around; it seems she
has presided at the table when Dr. Holbrook was here to tea, and even
you can’t think that quite right.”

“I don’t know why,” and at mention of Dr. Holbrook Guy’s temper burst
out again. “Agnes, you can’t deceive me; I know the secret of your
abominable treatment of Maddy Clyde is jealousy.”

“Guy--jealous, I jealous of that child;” and Agnes’ voice was expressive
of the utmost consternation.

“Yes, jealous of that child; you think that because the doctor has been
kind to her, perhaps he wants her some time for his wife. I hope he
does; I mean to help it on; I’ll tell him to have her, and if he don’t
I’ll almost marry her myself!” and Guy paced up and down the parlor,
chafing and foaming like a young lion.

Agnes was conquered, and quite as much bewildered as Maddy had been; she
heard only in part how Maddy Clyde was henceforth to be treated.

“Yes, yes,” she gasped at last, as Guy talked on, “stop now, for mercy’s
sake, and I’ll do anything, only not this morning, my head aches so I
cannot go to the breakfast table; I must be excused,” and holding her
temples, which were throbbing with pain, induced by strong excitement,
Agnes hurried to her own room and threw herself upon the bed, angry,
mortified and subdued.

The breakfast bell had rung twice while Guy was holding that interview
with Agnes, and at last Mrs. Noah came up herself to learn the cause of
the delay; standing in the hall she heard a part of what was transpiring
in the parlor. Mrs. Noah was proud and jealous of her master’s dignity,
and once or twice the thought had crossed her mind that perhaps when he
came home Maddy would be treated more as some governesses were treated
by their employers, but to have Agnes take the matter up was quite a
different thing, and Mrs. Noah smiled with grim satisfaction, as
she heard Guy issuing orders as to how Miss Clyde should be treated.
Standing back to let Agnes pass, she waited a moment, and then, as if
she had just come up, presented herself before Guy, asking if he were
ready for breakfast.

“Yes, call Miss Clyde; tell her I sent for her,” was Guy’s answer, and
forthwith Mrs. Noah repaired to Maddy’s room, finding her still sobbing
bitterly.

“I cannot go down,” she said; “my face is all stains, and it’s so
dreadful, happening on Sunday, too. What would grandpa say?”

“You can wash off the stains. Come,” Mrs. Noah said, pouring water into
the bowl, and bidding Maddy hurry, “as Mr. Guy was waiting breakfast for
her.”

“But I am not to eat with them,” Maddy began, when Mrs. Noah stopped her
by explaining how Guy ruled that house, and Agnes had been completely
routed.

This did not quiet Maddy particularly, and her heart beat painfully as
she descended to the parlor, where Guy was still walking up and down.

“Come, Miss Clyde, Jessie is nearly famished,” he said pleasantly, as
Maddy appeared, and without the slightest reference to what had passed
he drew Maddy’s arm within his own, and giving a hand to Jessie, who
had just come in, he went to the breakfast room, where Maddy was told to
preside.

Guy watched her closely without seeming to do so, mentally deciding that
she was neither vulgar nor awkward. On the contrary, he thought her very
pretty, and very graceful for one so unaccustomed to society. Nothing
was said of Agnes, who kept her room the entire day, and did not join
the family until evening, when Guy sat upon the piazza with Jessie in
his lap, while Maddy was not very far away. At first there was much
constraint between Agnes and Maddy, but with Guy to manage, it soon wore
away, and Agnes felt herself exceedingly amiable when she reflected how
gracious she had been to her rival.

But Maddy could not so soon forget. All through the day the conviction
had been settling upon her that she could not stay at Aikenside, and so
on the following morning, just after breakfast was over, she summoned
courage to ask Mr. Guy if she might talk with film. Leading the way to
his library, he bade her sit down, while he took the chair opposite, and
then waited for her to commence.

Maddy was afraid of Guy. He did not seem quite like Dr. Holbrook. He was
haughtier in his appearance, while his rather elaborate style of dress
and polished manners gave him, in her estimation, a kind of superiority
over all the men she had ever met. Besides that, she remembered how his
dark eyes had flashed when she told him what she did the previous day,
and also that she had said to his face that she hated him. She could not
bear to leave a bad impression on his mind, so the first words she said
to him were:

“Mr. Remington, I can’t stay here after all that has happened. It would
not be pleasant for me or Mrs. Agnes, so I am going home, but I want you
to forget what I said about hating you yesterday. I did not then know
who you were. I don’t hate you. I like you, and I want you to like me.”

She did not look at him, for her eyelids were cast down, and her lashes
were wet with the tears she could scarcely keep from shedding. Guy had
never known much about girls of Maddy’s age, and there was something
extremely fascinating in the artless simplicity of this half child, half
woman, sitting there before him, and asking him so demurely to like her.
She was very pretty, he thought, and with proper culture would make a
beautiful woman. Then, as he remembered his avowed intention of urging
the doctor to make her his wife some day, the idea flashed upon him that
it would be very generous, very magnanimous in him to educate that young
girl expressly for the doctor, and though he hardly seemed to wait
at all ere replying to Maddy, he had in the brief interval formed a
skeleton plan, and saw it in all its bearings and triumphal result.

“I am much obliged for your liking me,” he said, a very little
mischievously. “You surely have not much reason so to do when you recall
the incidents of our first interview. Maddy--Miss Clyde--I have come to
the conclusion that I knew less than you did, and I beg your pardon for
annoying you so terribly.”

Then briefly Guy explained to her how it all had happened, blaming
himself far more than he did the doctor, who, he said, had repented
bitterly. “Had you died, Miss Clyde, when you were so sick, I half
believe he would have felt it his duty to die also. He likes you very
much; more indeed than any patient I ever knew him to have,” and Guy’s
eyes glanced curiously at Maddy to witness the effect his words might
have upon her. But Maddy merely answered:

“Yes, I think he does like me, and I know I like him.”

Mentally chastising himself for trying to find in Maddy’s head an idea
which evidently never was there, he began to speak of her proposition
of leave, saying he should not suffer it, Jessie needed her and she must
stay. She was not to mind the disagreeable things Mrs. Remington
had said. She was tired and nervous, and so gave way to some very
preposterous notions, which she had picked up somewhere. She would treat
Maddy better hereafter, and she must stay. It was pleasanter for Jessie
to have a companion so near her own age. Then, as he saw signs of
yielding in Maddy’s face, he continued:

“How would you like to turn scholar for a short time each day, I being
your teacher? Time often hangs heavily upon my hands, and I fancy the
novelty of the thing would suit me. I have books. I will appoint your
lessons and the hour for recitation.”

Guy’s face was scarlet by the time he finished speaking, for suddenly he
remembered to have heard or read of a similar instance which resulted in
the marriage of the teacher and pupil; besides that it would subject
him to so much remark, when it was known that he, the fashionable and
fastidious Guy, was teaching a pretty, attractive girl like Maddy
Clyde, and he sincerely hoped she would decline. But Maddy had no such
intention. Always in earnest herself, she supposed every one else meant
what they said, and without ever suspecting the peculiar position in
which such a proceeding would place both herself and Guy, her heart
leaped up at the idea of knowing what was in the books she had never
dared hope she might study. With her beautiful eyes full of tears, which
shone like diamonds, as she lifted them to Guy’s face, she said:

 “Oh, I thank you so much. You could not make me happier, and I’ll try
so hard to learn. They don’t teach such things at the district school;
and when there was a high school in Honedale I could not go, for it was
three dollars a quarter, and grandpa had no three dollars for me. Uncle
Joseph needed help, and so I stayed at home. It’s dreadful to be poor,
but, perhaps, I shall some time be competent to teach in a seminary, and
won’t that be grand? When may I begin?”

Guy had never met with so much frankness and simplicity in any one,
unless it were in Lucy Atherstone, of whom Maddy reminded him somewhat,
except that the latter was more practical, more--he hardly knew
what--only there was a difference, and a thought crossed his mind that
if Maddy had had all Lucy’s advantages, and was as old, she would be
what the world calls smarter. There was no disparagement to Lucy in his
thoughts, only a compliment to Maddy, who was waiting for him to answer
her question. There was no retracting now; he had offered his services;
she had accepted; and with a mental comment: “I dread Doc’s fun the
most, so I’ll explain to him how I am educating her for the future Mrs.
Dr. Holbrook,” he replied:

“As soon as I am rested from my journey, or sooner, if you like; and now
tell me, please, who is this Uncle Joseph of whom you speak?”

He remembered what the doctor had said of a crazy uncle, but wishing to
hear Maddy’s version of it, put to her the question he did.

“Uncle Joseph is grandma’s youngest brother,” Maddy answered, “and he
has been in the lunatic asylum for years. As long as his little property
lasted, his bills were paid, but now they keep him from charity, only
grandpa helps all he can, and buys some little nice things which he
wants so badly, and sometimes cries for, they say. I picked berries all
last summer, and sold to buy him a thin coat and pants. We should have
more to spend than we do, if it were not for Uncle Joseph,” and Maddy’s
face wore a thoughtful expression as she recalled all the shifts
and turns she’d seen made at home that the poor maniac might be more
comfortable.

“What made him crazy?” Guy asked, and after a moment’s hesitancy Maddy
replied: “I don’t believe grandma would mind my telling you, though
she don’t talk about it much. I only knew it a little while ago. He was
disappointed once. He loved a girl very much, and she made him think
that she loved him. She was many years younger than Uncle Joseph--about
my age at first, and when she grew up she said she was sick of him,
because he was so much older. He wouldn’t have felt so badly, if she had
not gone straight off and married a rich man who was a great deal older
even than Uncle Joseph; that was the hardest part, and he grew crazy
at once. It has been so long that he never can be helped, and sometimes
grandma talks of bringing him home, as he is perfectly harmless. I
suppose it’s wicked, but I most hope she won’t, for it would be terrible
to live with a crazy man,” and a chill crept over Maddy, as if there had
fallen upon her a foreshadowing of what might yet be. “Mr. Remington,”
 she continued suddenly, “if you teach me, I can’t, of course, expect
three dollars a week. It would not be right.”

“Perfectly right,” he answered. “Your services to Jessie will be worth
just as much as ever, so give yourself no trouble on that score.”

He was the best man that ever lived, Maddy thought, and so she told the
doctor that afternoon when, as he rode up to Aikenside, she met him out
on the lawn before he reached the house.

It did strike the doctor a little comically that one of Guy’s habits
should offer to turn school teacher, but Maddy was so glad, that he
was glad too, and doubly glad that across the sea there was a Lucy
Atherstone. How he wished that she was there now as Mrs. Guy, and he
must tell Guy so that very day. Seated in Guy’s library, the opportunity
soon occurred, Guy approaching the subject himself by saying:

“Guess, Hal, what crazy project I have just embarked in.”

“I know without guessing; Maddy told me,” and the doctor’s eyebrows were
elevated just a little as he crossed his feet upon the window sill and
moved his chair so as to have a better view of Maddy and Jessie romping
in the grass.

“And so you don’t approve?” was Guy’s next remark, to which the doctor
replied:

“Why, yes; it’s a grand thing for her, providing you know enough to
teach her; but, Guy, this is a confounded gossiping neighborhood, and
folks will talk, I’m afraid.”

“Talk about what!” and Guy bridled up as his independent spirit began to
rise, “What harm is there in my doing a generous act to a poor girl like
Maddy Clyde? Isn’t she graceful as a kitten, though?” and Guy nodded
toward the spot where she was playing.

It annoyed the doctor to have Guy praise Maddy, but he would not show
it, and answered calmly:

“It’s all right in you, but just because the poor girl is Maddy Clyde,
folks will talk. She is too handsome, Guy, for Madam Grundy to let
alone. If Lucy were only here, it would be different. Why, in the name
of wonder, are you two not married, if you are ever going to be?”

“Jealous, as I live!” and Guy’s hand came down playfully on the doctor’s
shoulder. “I did not suppose you had got as far as that. You are afraid
of the effect it may have on me teaching a sweet-faced little girl how
to conjugate amo; and to cover up your own interest, you bring Lucy
forward as an argument. Eh, Hal, have I not probed the secret?”

The doctor was in no mood for joking, and only smiled gloomily, while
Guy continued:

“Honestly, doctor, I am doing it for you. I imagine you fancy her, as
well you may. She’ll make a splend’d woman, but she needs educating,
of course, and I am going to do it. You ought to thank me, instead of
looking so like a thundercloud,” and Guy laughed merrily.

The doctor was ashamed of his mood, and could not tell what spirit
prompted him to answer:

“I am obliged to you, Guy; but as far as I am concerned, you may spare
yourself the trouble. If my wife needs educating, I can do it myself.”

Guy was puzzled. Could it be that, after all, he was deceived, and the
doctor did not care for Maddy? It might be, and he hastened to change
the conversation to another topic than Maddy Clyde. The doctor stayed to
dinner, and as Guy watched him closely, he made up his mind that he did
care for Maddy Clyde, and this confirmed him in his plan of educating
her for him.

Magnanimous Guy! He felt himself very good, very generous, very
condescending, and very forgiving, the early portion of the afternoon;
but later in the day he began to view Guy Remington in the light of a
martyr, said martyrdom consisting in the scornful toss of the head with
which Agnes had listened to his plan, and the open opposition of Mrs.
Noah.

“Was he beside himself, or what?” this worthy asked. “She liked Maddy
Clyde, to be sure, but it wasn’t for him to demean himself by turning
her school master. Folks would talk awfully, and she couldn’t blame ‘em;
besides, what would Lucy say to his bein’ alone in a room with a girl as
pretty as Maddy? It was a duty he owed her at any rate to tell her all
about it, and if she said ‘twas right, why, go it.”

This was the drift of Mrs. Noah’s remarks, and as Guy depended much
on her judgment, he decided to write to Lucy to see if she had the
slightest objections to his teaching Maddy Clyde. Accordingly he wrote
that very night, telling her frankly all he knew concerning Maddy Clyde,
and narrating the circumstances under which he first had met her, being
careful also to repeat what he knew would have weight with an English
girl like Lucy, to wit, that though poor, Maddy’s father and grandfather
Clyde had been gentlemen, the one a clergyman, the other a sea captain.
Then he told of her desire for learning, and his plan to teach her
himself, of what the doctor and Mrs. Noah said about it, and his final
determination to consult her. Then he described Maddy herself, feeling
a strange thrill as he told how pure, how innocent, how artless and
beautiful she was, and asked if Lucy feared aught from his association
with her.

“If you do,” he wrote, “you have but to say so, and though I am
committed, I will extricate myself in some way rather than wound you in
the slightest degree.”

It would be some time ere an answer to this letter could be received,
and until such time Guy could not honorably hear Maddy’s lessons as
he had agreed to do. But Maddy was not suspicious, and accepting his
trivial excuse, waited patiently, while he, too, waited for the letter,
wondering what it would contain.



CHAPTER XII. -- A GENEROUS LETTER.


At last the answer came, and it was Maddy who brought it to Guy. She had
been home that day, and on her return had ridden by the office as Guy
had requested her to do. She saw the letter bore a foreign postmark,
also that it was in the delicate handwriting of some female, but the
sight did not affect her in the least. Maddy’s heart was far too heavy
that day to care for a trifle, and so placing the letter carefully in
her basket she kept on to Aikenside.

The letter was decidedly Lucy-ish in all that pertained to her “dearest
darling,” her “precious Guy,” but when she came to Maddy Clyde, her
true, womanly nature spoke; and Guy, while reading it, felt how good she
was. Of course he might teach Maddy Clyde all he wished to teach her,
and it made Lucy love him better to know that he was willing to do such
things. She wished she was there to help him; they would open a school
for all the poor, but she did not know when mamma would let her come.
That pain in her side was not any better, and her cough had come earlier
this season than last. The physician had advised a winter in Naples, and
they were going before very long. It would be pleasant there, no doubt,
only she should be farther away from her boy Guy, but she would think of
him, oh, so often, teaching that dear little Maddy Clyde, and she would
pray for him, too, just as she always did. Then followed a few more
lines sacred to the lover’s eye, lines which told how pure was the love
which sweet Lucy Atherstone bore for Guy Remington, who, as he read,
felt his heart beat with a throb of pain, for Lucy spoke to him now for
the first time of what might possibly be.

“I’ve dreamed about it nights,” she said. “I’ve thought about it days,
and tried so hard to be reconciled; to feel that if God will have it so,
I am willing to die before you have ever called me your little wife, or
I have ever called you husband. Heaven is better than earth, I know,
and I am sure of going there, I think, but oh, dear Guy, a life with you
looks so very sweet, that sometimes your little Lucy shrinks from the
dark grave, which would hide her forever from you. Guy, you once said
you never prayed, and it made me feel so badly, but you will, when you
get this, won’t you? You will ask God to make me well, and may be He
will hear you. Do, Guy, please do pray for your Lucy, far away over the
sea.”

Guy could not resist that touching appeal, “to pray for his little
Lucy,” and though his lips were all unused to prayer, bowing his head
upon his hands he did ask that she might live, beseeching the Father to
send upon him any calamity save this one--Lucy must be spared. Guy felt
better for having prayed, it was something to tell Lucy, something that
would please her well, and though his heart yet was very sad, a part of
the load was lifted, and he could think of Lucy now without the bitter
pain her letter first had cost him. Was there nothing that would save
her, nobody who could cure her? Her disease was not hereditary; surely
it might be made to yield; had English physicians no skill, would not an
American do better? It was possible, and if that mother of Lucy’s would
let her come where doctors knew something, she might get well; but she
wouldn’t; she was determined that no husband should be burdened with
an ailing wife, and so if the mountain would not come to Mahomet, why,
Mahomet must go to the mountain, and Guy fairly leaped from his chair as
he exclaimed: “I have it--Doc!--he’s the most skillful man I ever knew;
I’ll send him to England; send him to the Atherstones; he shall go to
Naples with them as their family physician; he can cure Lucy; I’ll speak
to him the very next time he comes here;” and with another burden lifted
from his mind, Guy began to wonder where Maddy was, and why that day had
been so long.

He knew she had returned, for Flora had said she brought the letter,
and he was about going out, in hopes of finding her and Jessie, when
he heard her in the hall, as she answered some question of Mrs. Noah’s;
stepping to the door, he asked her to come in, saying he would, if she
chose, appoint the lessons talked about so long. Ordinarily, Maddy’s
eyes would have flashed with delight, for she had anticipated so much
from these lessons; now, however, there was a sad look upon her face and
she could scarcely keep from crying as she came at Guy’s bidding, and
sat upon the sofa, near to his armchair. Somehow it rested Guy to look
at Maddy Clyde, who, having recovered from her illness, seemed the very
embodiment of perfect health, a health which glowed and sparkled all
over her bright face; showing itself as well in the luxuriance of her
glossy hair as in the brilliancy of her complexion, and the flash of
her lustrous eyes. How Guy wished that Lucy could share in what seemed
almost superfluity of health; and why shouldn’t she? Dr. Holbrook
had cured Maddy; Dr. Holbrook could cure Lucy; and so for the present
dismissing that from his mind, he turned to Maddy, and said the time
had come when he could give those promised lessons, asking if she would
commence to-morrow, after she was through with Jessie, and what she
would prefer to take up first?

“Oh, Mr. Remington,” and Maddy began to cry: “I am afraid I cannot stay
they need me at home, or maybe Grandpa said so and I don’t want to go,
though I know it’s wicked not to; oh, dear, dear!”

Here Maddy broke down entirely, sobbing so convulsively that Guy became
alarmed, and wondered what he ought to do to quiet her. As she sat the
bowed head was just within his reach, and so he very naturally laid his
hand upon it, and as if it had been Jessie’s smoothed the silken hair,
while he asked why she must go home. Had anything occurred to make her
presence more necessary than it was at Aikenside? and into the young
man’s heart there crept a feeling that Aikenside would be very lonely
without Maddy Clyde.

Controlling her voice as well as she was able, Maddy told him how the
physicians at the asylum had written that as Uncle Joseph would in all
human probability never be perfectly sane, and as a change of scene
would do him good, Mr. Markham had better try taking him a while; that
having been spoken with upon the subject, he seemed as anxious as a
little child, even crying when the night came around and he was not
at home, as he expressed it. “They have kept him so long,” Maddy said,
“that grandpa thought it his duty to relieve them, though he can’t well
afford it, and so he’s coming next week, and grandma will need some one
to help, and I must go. I know it’s wrong, but I do not want to go, try
as I will.”

It was a gloomy prospect to exchange Aikenside for the humble home where
poverty had its abode, and it was not very strange that Maddy should
shrink from it at first. She did not stop to ask what was her duty, or
think how much happiness her presence might give her grandparents, or
how much she might cheer and amuse the weak imbecile, her uncle. She was
but human, and so when Guy began to devise ways of preventing her going,
she listened, while the pain at her heart grew less as her faith in Guy
grew stronger. He would drive down with her to-morrow, he said, and see
what could be done. Meanwhile she must dry her eyes and go to Jessie,
who was calling her.

As Guy had half expected, the doctor came around that evening, and
inviting him into his private room, Guy proceeded at once to unfold his
scheme, asking him first:

“How much he probably received a year for his services as physician.”

The doctor could not tell at once, but after a little thought made an
estimate, and then inquired why Guy had asked the question.

“Because, Doc, I have a project on foot. Lucy Atherstone is dying with
what they call consumption. I don’t believe those old fogies understand
her disease, and if you will go over to England and undertake her cure,
I’ll give you just double what you’ll get by remaining here. They are
going to Naples for the winter, and, undoubtedly, will spend some time
in Paris. It will be just the thing for you. Lucy and her mother will
be glad of your services when they know I sent you, Lucy likes you now.
Will you go? You can trust Maddy to me. I’ll take good care that she is
worthy of you when you come back.”

At the mention of Maddy’s name, the doctor’s brow darkened. He was sure
that Guy meant kindly, but it grated on his feelings to be thus joked
about what he knew was a stern reality. Guy’s project appeared to him at
first a most insane one, but as he continued to enlarge upon it, and
the advantage it would be to the doctor to travel in the old world, a
feeling of enthusiasm was kindled in his own breast; a desire to visit
Naples and France, and the places he had dreamed of as a boy, but never
hoped to see, Guy’s plan began to look more feasible, and possibly he
might have yielded but for one thought, and that a thought of Maddy
Clyde. He would not leave her alone with Guy, even though Guy was true
to Lucy as steel. He would stay; he would watch; and in time he would
win the young girl waiting now for him in the hall below, waiting to
tell him ‘mid blushes of shame and tears of regret how she had meant
to pay him with her very first wages, but now, Uncle Joseph was coming
home, and he must wait a little longer.

“Would he, could he be so good?” and unmindful of Guy’s presence Maddy
laid her hand confidingly upon his arm, while her soft eyes looked
beseechingly into his.

How the doctor wished Guy was away, and kindly taking the hint, Guy left
them together in the lighted hall. Sitting down on the sofa, and making
Maddy sit beside him, the doctor began:

“Maddy, you know I mean what I say, at least to you, and when I tell you
that I never think of that bill except when you speak of it, you will
believe me. I know your grandfather’s circumstances, and I know, too,
that I did much to induce your sickness, consequently if I made one out
at all, it would be a very small one.”

He did not get any further, for Maddy hastily interrupted him, and while
her eyes flashed with pride, exclaimed:

“I will not be a charity patient! I say I will not! I’d be a hired girl
before I’d do it!”

It troubled the doctor to see Maddy so disturbed about dollars and
cents--to know that poverty was pressing its iron hand upon her young
heart; and only because she was so young did he refrain from offering
her then and there a resting place from the ills of life in his
sheltering love. But she was not prepared, and he should only defeat his
object by his rashness, so he restrained himself, though he did pass his
arm partly around her waist as he said to her:

“I tell you, Maddy, honestly, that when I want that bill liquidated
I’ll ask you. I certainly will, and I’ll let you pay it, too. Does that
satisfy you?”

Yes, Maddy was satisfied, and after a little the doctor continued:

“By the way, Maddy, I have some idea of going to Europe for a few
months, or a year or more. You know it does a physician good to study
awhile in Paris. What do you think of it? Shall I go?”

The doctor had become quite necessary to Maddy’s happiness. He it was
to whom she confided all her little troubles, and to lose him would be
a terrible loss, and so she answered that if it would be much better for
him she supposed he ought to go, though she should miss him sadly and be
so lonely without him.

“Would you, Maddy? Are you in earnest? Would you be lonelier for my
being gone?” the doctor asked, eagerly. With her usual truthfulness,
Maddy replied: “Of course I should;” and, when, after the conference was
ended, the doctor stood for a moment talking with Guy, ere bidding
him good-night, he said: “I think I shall not accept your European
proposition. Somebody else must cure Lucy.”

The next day, as Guy had proposed, he rode down to Honedale, taking
Maddy with him, and offering so many reasons why she should not be
called home, that the old people began to relent, particularly as they
saw how Maddy’s heart was set on the lessons Guy was going to give her.
She might never have a like opportunity, the young man said, and as a
good education would put her fa the way of helping them when they were
older and needed her more, it was their duty to leave her with them. He
knew they objected to her receiving three dollars a week, but he should
pay it just the same, and if they chose they might, with a part of it,
hire a little girl to do the work which Maddy would do were she at
home. All this sounded very feasible, especially as it was backed up
by Maddy’s eyes, brimful of tears, and fixed pleadingly upon her
grandfather. The sight of them, more than Guy’s arguments, influenced
the old man, who decided that if grandma were willing Maddy should stay,
unless absolutely needed at the cottage. Then the tears burst forth,
and winding her arms around her grandfather’s neck, Maddy sobbed out
her thanks, asking if it were selfish and wicked and naughty in her to
prefer learning rather than staying there.

“Not if that’s your only reason,” grandpa replied. “It’s right to want
learning, quite right; but, if my child is biased by the fine things at
Aikenside, and hates to come back to her poor home, because ‘tis poor, I
should say it was very natural, but not exactly right.”

Maddy was very happy after it was settled, and chatted gayly with her
grandmother, while Guy went out with her grandfather, who wished to
speak with him alone.

“Young man,” he said, “you have taken a deep interest in me and mine
since I first came to know you, and I thank you for it all. I’ve nothing
to give in return except my prayers, and those you have every day; you
and that doctor. I pray for you two just as I do for Maddy. Somehow you
three come in together. You’re uncommon good to Maddy. ‘Tain’t every one
like you who would offer and insist on learning her. I don’t know what
you do it for. You seem honest. You can’t, of course, ever dream of
making her your wife, and, if I thought--yes, if I supposed”--here
grandpa’s voice trembled, and his face became a livid hue with the
horror of the idea--“if I supposed that in your heart there was the
shadow of an intention to deceive my child, to ruin my Maddy, I’d
throttle you here on the spot, old as I am, and bitterly as I should
repent the rashness.”

Guy attempted to speak, but grandpa motioned him to be silent, while he
went on:

“I do not suspect you, and that’s why I trust her with you. My old
eyes are dim, but I can see enough to know that Maddy is beautiful. Her
mother was so before her, and the Clydes were a handsome race. My Alice
was elevated, folks thought, by marrying Captain Clyde, but I don’t
think so. She was pure and good as the angels, and Maddy is much like
her, only she has the ambition of the Clydes: has their taste for
everything a little above her. She wouldn’t make nobody blush if she was
mistress of Aikenside.”

Grandpa felt relieved when he had said all this to Guy, who listened
politely, smiling at the idea of his deceiving Maddy, and fully
concurring with grandpa in all he said of her rare beauty and natural
gracefulness. On their return to the house grandpa showed Guy the
bedroom intended for Uncle Joseph, and Guy, as he glanced at the
furniture, though within himself how he would send down from Aikenside
some of the unused articles piled away on the garret when he refurnished
his house. He was becoming greatly interested in the Markhams, caring
nothing for the remarks his interest might excite among the neighbors,
some of whom watched Maddy half curiously as in the stylish carriage,
beside its stylish owner, she rode back to Aikenside in the quiet,
autumnal afternoon.



CHAPTER XIII. -- UNCLE JOSEPH.


In course of time Uncle Joseph came as was arranged, and on the day
following Maddy and Guy rode down to see him, finding him a tall,
powerfully built man, retaining many vestiges of manly beauty, and fully
warranting all Mrs. Markham had said in his praise. He seemed perfectly
gentle and harmless, though when Guy was announced as Mr. Remington,
Maddy noticed that in his keen black eyes there was for an instant a
fiery gleam, but it quickly passed away, as he muttered:

“Much too young; he was older than I, and I am over forty. It’s all
right.”

And the fiery eye grew soft and almost sleepy in its expression, as
the poor lunatic turned next to Maddy, telling her how pretty she was,
asking if she were engaged, and bidding her be careful that her _fiance_
was not more than a dozen years older than herself.

Uncle Joseph seemed to take to her from the very first, following her
from room to room, touching her fair, soft cheeks, smoothing her silken
hair, telling her Sarah’s used to curl, asking if she knew where Sarah
was, and finally crying for her as a child cries for its mother, when at
last she went away. Much of this Maddy had repeated to Jessie, as in the
twilight they sat together in the parlor at Aikenside; and Jessie was
not the only listener, for, with her face resting on her hand, and her
head bent eagerly forward, Agnes sat, so as not to lose a word of what
Maddy was saying of Uncle Joseph. The intelligence that he was coming to
the red cottage had been followed with a series of headaches, so severe
and protracted that Dr. Holbrook had pronounced her really sick, and
had been unusually attentive. Anxiously she had waited for the result of
Maddy’s visit to the poor lunatic, and her face was colorless as marble
as she heard him described, while a faint sigh escaped her when Maddy
told what he had said of Sarah.

Agnes was changed somewhat of late. She had grown more thoughtful and
quiet, while her manner toward Maddy was not as haughty as formerly.
Guy thought her improved, and thus was not so delighted as he would
otherwise have been, when, one day, about two weeks after Uncle Joseph’s
arrival at Honedale, she startled him by saying she thought it nearly
time for her to return to Boston, if she meant to spend the winter
there, and asked what she should do with Jessie.

Guy was not quite willing for Agnes to leave him there alone, but when
he saw that she was determined, he consented to her going, with the
understanding that Jessie was to remain--a plan which Agnes did not
oppose, as a child so large as Jessie might stand in the way of her
being as gay as she meant to be in Boston. Jessie, too, when consulted,
said she would far rather stay at Aikenside; and so one November
morning, Agnes, wrapped in velvet and furs, kissed her little daughter,
and bidding good-by to Maddy and the servants, left a neighborhood
which, since Uncle Joseph was so near, had become so intolerable that
not even the hope of winning the doctor could avail to keep her in it.

Guy accompanied her to the city, wondering why, when he used to like
it so much, it now seemed dull and tiresome, or why the society he
had formerly enjoyed failed to bring back the olden pleasure he had
experienced when a resident of Boston. Guy was very popular there, and
much esteemed by his friends of both sexes, and great were the efforts
made to entertain and keep him as long as possible. But Guy could not be
prevailed upon to stay there long, and after seeing Agnes settled in one
of the most fashionable boarding houses, he started for Aikenside.

It was dark when he reached home, and as the evening had closed in
with a heavy rain, the house presented rather a cheerless appearance,
particularly as, in consequence of Mrs. Noah’s not expecting him that
day, no fires had been kindled in the parlors, or in any room except the
library. There a bright coal fire was blazing in the grate, and thither
Guy repaired, finding, as he had expected, Jessie and her teacher. Not
liking to intrude on Mr. Guy, of whom she still stood somewhat in awe,
Maddy soon arose to leave, but Guy bade her stay; he should be lonely
without her, he said, and so bringing her work she sat down to sew,
while Jessie looked over a book of prints, and Guy upon the lounge
studied the face which, it seemed to him, grew each day more and more
beautiful. Then he talked with her of books, and the lessons which were
to be resumed on the morrow, watching Maddy as her bright face sparkled
and glowed with excitement. Then he questioned her of her father’s
family, feeling a strange sense of satisfaction in knowing that the
Clydes were not a race of whose blood any one need be ashamed; and Maddy
was more like them he was sure than like the Markhams, and Guy shivered
a little as he recalled the peculiar dialect of Mr. and Mrs. Markham,
and remembered that they were Maddy’s grandparents. Not that it was
anything to him. Oh, no, only as an inmate of his family he felt
interested in her, more so perhaps than young men were apt to be
interested in their sister’s governess.

Had Guy then been asked the question, he would, in all probability, have
acknowledged that in his heart there was a feeling of superiority to
Maddy Clyde; that she was not quite the equal of Aikenside’s heir, nor
yet of Lucy Atherstone. It was natural; he had been educated to feel the
difference, but any haughty arrogance of which he might have been guilty
was kept down by his extreme good sense and generous, impulsive nature.
He liked Maddy; he liked to look at her as, in the becoming crimson
merino which he really and Jessie nominally had given her, she sat
before him, with the firelight falling on her beautiful hair, and making
shadows on her sunny face.

Guy was luxurious in his tastes, and it seemed to him that Maddy was
just the picture to set off that room, or in fact all the rooms at
Aikenside. She would disgrace none of them, and he found himself wishing
that Providence had made her something to him--sister or cousin, or
anything that would make her one of the Remington line.

And now, my reader, do not fall to abusing Guy, or accuse him of
forgetting Lucy Atherstone, for he did not. He thought of her many times
that evening, and in his dreams that night Lucy and Maddy shared pretty
equally, but the latter was associated with the lessons of the morrow,
while Lucy was the bright daystar for which he lived and hoped.

It did not take long for the people of Sommerville to hear that Guy
Remington had actually turned schoolmaster, having in his library for
two hours or more each day Jessie’s little girl-governess, about whose
brilliant beauty there was so much said--people wondering, as people
will, where it would end, and if it could be possible that the haughty
Guy had forgotten his English Lucy and gone to educating a wife.

The doctor, to whom these remarks were sometimes made, silently gnashed
his teeth, then said savagely that “if Guy chose to teach Maddy Clyde,
he did not see whose business it was,” and then rode over to Aikenside
to see the teacher and pupil, half hoping that Guy would soom tire of
his project and give it up. But Guy grew more and more pleased with his
employment, until, at last, from giving Maddy two hours of his time,
he came to give her four, esteeming them the pleasantest of the whole
twenty-four. Guy was proud of Maddy’s improvement, praising her often to
the doctor, who also marveled at the rapid development of her mind and
the progress she made, grasping a knotty point almost before it was
explained, and retaining with wonderful tenacity what she learned.

It mattered nothing to Guy that neighbors gossiped there were none
familiar enough to tell him what was said, except the doctor or Mrs.
Noah; and so he heard few of the remarks made so frequently, As
in Honedale, so in Sommerville Maddy was a favorite, and those who
interested themselves most in the matter never said anything worse of
her and Mr. Guy than that he might perhaps be educating his own wife,
and insinuating that it would be a great “come up” for Grandfather
Markham’s child. But Maddy never dreamed of such a thing, and kept on
her pleasant way, reciting every day to Guy and going every Wednesday
to the red cottage, whither, after the first visit to Uncle Joseph, Guy
never accompanied her. Jessie, on the contrary, went often to Honedale,
where one at least always greeted her coming, stealing up closely to
her, and whispering softly: “My Daisy is come again.”

From the first Uncle Joseph had taken to Jessie, calling her Sarah for
a while, and then changing the name to “Daisy”--“Daisy Mortimer, his
little girl,” he persisted in calling her, watching from his window for
her coming, and crying whenever Maddy appeared without her. At first
Agnes, from her city home, forbade Jessie’s going so often to see a
lunatic; but when Jessie described the poor, crazy man’s delight at
sight of her, telling how quiet and happy he seemed if he could but lay
his hand on her head, or touch her hair, she withdrew her restrictions,
and, as if moved to an unwonted burst of tenderness, wrote to her
daughter: “Comfort that crazy man all you can; he needs it so much.”

A few weeks after there came another letter from Agnes, but this time it
was to Guy, and its contents darkened his handsome face with anger and
vexation. Incidentally Agnes had heard the gossip, and written it to
Guy, adding in conclusion: “Of course I know it is not true, for ever if
there were no Lucy Atherstone, you, of all men, would not stoop to Maddy
Clyde. I do not presume to advise, but I will say this, that now she is
growing a young lady, folks will keep on talking so long as you keep her
there in the house; and it’s hardly fair toward Lucy.”

This was what knotted up Guy’s forehead and made him, as Jessie said,
“real cross for once.” Somehow, he fancied, latterly, that the doctor
did not like Maddy’s being there, while even Mrs. Noah managed to keep
her out of his way as soon as the lessons were ended. What did they
mean? what were they afraid of, and why did they presume to interfere
with him? he’d know, at all events; and summoning Mrs. Noah to his
presence, he read that part of Agnes’ letter, pertaining to Maddy, and
then asked what it meant.

“It means this, that folks are in a constant worry, for fear you’ll fall
in love with Maddy Clyde.”

“I fall in love with that child!” Guy repeated, laughing at the idea,
and forgetting that he had long since, accused the doctor of doing that
very thing.

“Yes, you,” returned Mrs. Noah, “and ‘taint strange they do; Maddy is
not a child: she’s nearer sixteen than fifteen, is almost a young lady;
and if you’ll excuse my boldness, I must say, I ain’t any too well
pleased with the goin’s on myself; not that I don’t like the girl, for I
do, and I don’t blame her an atom. She’s as innocent as a new-born babe,
and I hope she’ll always stay so; but you, Mr. Guy, you--now tell me
honest--do you think as much of Lucy Atherstone, as you used to, before
you took up school-keepin’?”

Guy did not like to be interfered with, and naturally high-spirited,
he at first flew into a passion, declaring that he would not have folks
meddling with him, that he thought of Lucy Atherstone all the time, and
he did not know what more he could do; that ‘twas a pity if a man could
not enjoy himself in his own way, provided that way were harmless,
that he’d never, in all his life, spent so happy a winter as the last;
that---

Here Mrs. Noah interrupted him with: “That’s it, the very _it_; you want
nothing better than to have that girl sit close to you when she recites,
as she does; and once when she was workin’ out some of them plusses and
minuses, and things, her slate rested on your knee; it did, I saw it
with my own eyes; and then, let me ask, when Jessie is drummin’ on the
piano, why don’t you bend over her, and turn the leaves, and count the
time, as you do when Maddy plays; and how does it happen that lately
Jessie is one too many, when you hear Maddy’s lessons. She has no
suspicions, but I know she ain’t sent off for nothin’; I know you’d
rather be alone with Maddy Clyde than to have anybody present, isn’t it
so?”

Guy began to wince. There was much truth in what Mrs. Noah had said. He
did devise various methods of getting rid of Jessie, when Maddy was in
his library, but it had never looked to him in just the light it did
when presented by Mrs. Noah, and he doggedly asked what Mrs. Noah would
have him do.

“First and foremost, then, I’d have you tell Maddy yourself that you are
engaged to Lucy Atherstone; second, I’d have you write to Lucy all about
it, and if you honestly can, tell her that you only care for Maddy as a
friend; third, I’d have you send the girl---”

“Not away from Aikenside! I never will!” and Guy sprang to his feet.

The mine had exploded, and for an instant the young man reeled, as he
caught a glimpse of where he stood; still he would not believe it, or
confess to himself how strong a place in his affections was held by the
beautiful girl now no longer a child. It was almost a year since that
April afternoon when he first met Maddy Clyde, and from a timid, bashful
child, of fourteen and a half, she had grown to the rather tall, and
rather self-possessed maiden of fifteen and a half, almost sixteen, as
Mrs. Noah said, “almost a woman;” and as if to verify the latter fact,
she herself appeared at that very moment, asking permission to come in
and find a book, which had been mislaid, and which she needed in hearing
Jessie’s lessons.

“Certainly, come in,” Guy said, and folding his arms he leaned against
the mantel, watching her as she hunted for the missing book.

There was no pretense about Maddy Clyde, nothing put on for effect, and
yet in every movement she showed marks of great improvement, both
in manner and style. Of one hundred people who might glance at her,
ninety-nine would look a second time, asking who she was. Naturally
graceful and utterly forgetful of herself, she always appeared to good
advantage, and never to better than now, when two pairs of eyes were
watching her, as standing on tiptoe, or kneeling upon the floor to look
under the secretary, she hunted for the book. Not the remotest suspicion
had Maddy of what was occupying the thoughts of her companions, though
as she left the room and glanced brightly up at Guy, it struck her that
his face was dark and moody, and a painful sensation flitted through her
mind that in some way she had intruded.

“Well,” was Mrs. Noah’s first comment, as the door closed on Maddy, but
as Guy made no response to that, she continued: “She is pretty. That you
won’t deny.”

“Yes, more than pretty. She’ll make a most beautiful woman.”

Guy seemed to talk more to himself than to Mrs. Noah, while his foot
kicked the fender, and he mentally compared Lucy and Maddy with each
other, and tried to think that it was not the result of that comparison,
but rather Mrs. Noah’s next remark, which affected him unpleasantly. The
remark or remarks were as follows:

“Of course she’ll make a splendid woman. Everybody notices her now for
her beauty, and that’s why you’ve no business to keep her here where you
see her every day. It’s a wrong to her, lettin’ yourself alone.”

Guy looked up inquiringly, and Mrs. Noah continued:

“I’ve been a girl myself, and I know that Maddy can’t be treated as you
treat her without its having an effect. I’ve no idea that it’s entered
her head yet, but it will by-and-by, and then good-by to her happiness.”

“For pity’s sake, what do you mean? Do explain, and not talk to me in
riddles. What have I done to Maddy, or what am I going to do?”

Gay spoke savagely, and his boots were in great danger of being burned
as he kicked vigorously against the fender. Coming nearer to him, and
lowering her voice, Mrs. Noah replied:

“You are going to teach her to love you, Guy Remington, just as sure as
my name is Noah.”

“And is that anything so very bad, I’d like to know. Most girls do not
find love distasteful,” and Guy walked hastily to the window, where
he stood for a moment gazing out upon the soft April snow, which was
falling, and feeling anything but satisfied either with the weather or
himself; then walking back, and taking a seat before the fire, he said:
“I understand you now. You would save Maddy Clyde from sorrow, and
you are right. You know more of girls than I do. She might in time get
to--to--think of me as she ought not. I never looked upon it in this
light before. I’ve been so happy with her;” here Guy’s voice faltered
a little, but he recovered himself and went on: “I will tell her about
Lucy tonight, but the sending her away, I can’t do that. Neither will
she be happy to go back where I took her from, for though the best of
people, they are not like Maddy, and you know it.”

Yes, Mrs. Noah did know it, and pleased that her boy, as she called Guy,
had shown some signs of penitence and amendment, she said she did not
think it necessary to send Maddy home; she did not advise it either.
She liked the girl, and what she advised was this, that Guy should send
Maddy and Jessie both to boarding school. Agnes, she knew, would be
willing, and it was the best thing he could do. Maddy would thus learn
what was expected of a teacher, and as soon as she graduated, she could
procure some eligible situation, or if Lucy were there, and desired it,
she could come and stay forever for all what she cared.

“And during the vacations, where must she go then?” Guy asked.

“Go where she pleases, of course. As Jessie is so fond of her, and they
are much like sisters, it will not be improper for her to come here,
as I see, provided Agnes is here. Her presence, of course, would make a
difference,” Mrs. Noah replied, while Guy continued:

“I know you are right; that is, I do not wish to do Maddy a harm by
placing temptation in her way, neither will I have everybody meddling
with my business. I tell you I won’t. I don’t mean you, for you have a
right to say what no one else has,” and he glanced half angrily at
Mrs. Noah. “Pity if I can’t take an interest in a girl, because I once
wronged her, without every old woman in Christendom thinking she needs
to fall in love with me, and so be ruined for life. Maddy Clyde has too
good sense for that, or will have when I tell her about Lucy.”

“And you will do so?” Mrs. Noah said coaxingly.

“Of course I will, and write to Lucy, too, telling her how you talked,
and how I care no more for Maddy than I do for Jessie.”

“And will that be true?” Mrs. Noah asked.

Guy could not look her fully in the face then, so he kicked the grate
until the concussion sent the red-hot coals out upon the carpet as he
replied:

“True? Yes, every word of it.”

Mrs. Noah noted all this, and thinking within herself:

“I orto have took him in hand long ago,” she came up to him and said
kindly, soothingly: “We shall all miss Maddy; I as much as any one,
but I do think it best for her to go to school; and so, after tea, I’ll
manage to keep Jessie with me, and send Maddy to you, while you tell her
about Lucy and the plan.”

Guy nodded a little jerking kind of a nod, in token of his assent, and
then with that perversity which prompts women particularly to press a
subject after enough has been said upon it, Mrs. Noah, as she turned to
leave the room, gave vent to the following:

“You know, Guy, as well as I, that pretty and smart as she is, Maddy is
really beneath you, and no kind of a match, even if you wan’t as good
as married, which you be;” and the good lady left the room in time to
escape seeing the sparks fly up the chimney, as Guy now made a most
vigorous use of the poker, and so did not finish the scorching process
commenced on the end of his boot.

Mrs. Noah’s last remark awakened in Guy a Singular train of thought.
Yes, Maddy was his inferior as the world saw matters, and settling
himself in the chair he tried to fancy what that same world would say
if he should make Maddy his wife. Of course he had no such intention, he
was just imagining something which never could possibly happen, because
in the first place he wouldn’t marry Maddy Clyde if he could, and
he couldn’t if he would! Still, it was not an unpleasant occupation
fancying what folks, and especially Agnes, would say if he did, and so
he sat dreaming about it until the bell rang for supper, when with a
nervous start he woke from the reverie, and wishing the whole was over,
started for the supper.



CHAPTER XIV. -- MADDY AND LUCY.


Supper was over, and Guy was back again in his library. He had not
stopped as he usually did, to romp with Jessie or talk to Maddy Clyde,
until it was so dark that he could not see her sparkling face, but had
come directly back, dropping the heavy curtains and piling fresh coal
upon the fire. Mrs. Noah had lighted the lamps and then gone after
Maddy, explaining to Jessie how she must stay with her while Maddy went
to Mr. Guy, who wanted to talk with her.

“Is he angry with me, Mrs. Noah?” and remembering his moody looks when
she went in quest of the book, Maddy felt her heart misgive her as to
what might be the result of an interview with Guy.

Mrs. Noah, however, reassured her, and Maddy stole for a moment to her
own room to see how she was looking. The crimson dress, with its soft
edge of lace about the slender throat, became her well, and smoothing
the folds of her black silk apron, whose jaunty shoulder pieces gave her
a very girlish appearance, she went down to where Guy was waiting for
her. He heard her coming, and involuntarily drew nearer to him the chair
where he intended she should sit. But Maddy took instead a stool,
and leaning her elbow on the chair, turned her face fully toward him,
waiting for him to speak.

“Maddy,” he began, “are you happy here at Aikenside?”

“Oh, yes, very, very happy,” and Maddy’s soft eyes shone with the
happiness she tried to express.

It was at least a minute before he spoke again, and when he did, it came
out how he had concluded it best to send her and Jessie to school, for
a year or two at least; not that he was tired of teaching her, but it
would be better for her, he thought, to mingle with other girls and
learn the ways of the world. Aikenside would still be her home, still
the place where her vacations would be spent with Jessie if she chose,
and then he spoke of New York as the place he had in view, and asked her
what she thought of it.

Maddy was too much stunned to think of anything at first. That the
good she had coveted most should be placed within her grasp, and by
Guy Remington too, was almost too much to credit. She was happy at
Aikenside, but she had never expected her life there to continue very
long, and had often wished that when it ended she might devise some
means of entering a seminary as other young ladies did. But she had
never dreamed of being sent to school by Guy, nor could she conceive of
his motive. He hardly knew himself, only he liked her, and wished to do
something for her. This was his reply to her tearful question:

“Oh, Mr. Remington, you are so good to me; what makes you?”

He liked her, and all over Maddy’s face there spread a beautiful flush
as the words rang in her ears. And then she told Guy how much she wished
to be a teacher, and so take care of her grandparents and her poor Uncle
Joseph. It seemed almost cruel for that young creature to be burdened
with the care of those three half-helpless people, and Guy shuddered
just as he usually did when he associated Maddy with them, but when he
listened while she told him of all the castles she had built, and in
every one of which there was a place for “our folks,” as she termed
them, it was more in the form of a blessing than a caress that his hand
rested on her shining hair.

“You are a good girl, Maddy,” he said, “and I am glad now that I have
concluded to send you where you can be better fitted for the office you
mean to fill than you could be here, but I shall miss you sadly. I like
little girls, and though you can hardly be classed there now, you seem
to me much like Jessie, and I take pleasure in doing for you as I would
for her. Maddy---”

Guy stopped, uncertain what to say next, while Maddy’s eyes again looked
up inquiringly.

He was going now to tell “the little girl much like Jessie” of Lucy
Atherstone, and the words would not come at first.

“Maddy,” he said, again blushing guiltily, “I have said I liked you, and
so I hope will some one else. I have written of you to her.”

Up to this point Maddy had a vague idea that he meant the doctor, but
the “her” dispelled that thought, and a most inexplicable feeling of
numbness crept over her as she asked faintly:

“Written to whom?”

Guy did not look at Maddy. He only knew that her head moved out from
beneath his hand as he replied:

“To Miss Atherstone--Miss Lucy Atherstone. Have you never heard of her?”

No, Maddy never had, and with that same numbness she could not
understand, she listened while Guy told her who Lucy Atherstone was, and
why she was not at that moment the mistress of Aikenside. There was
no reason why Guy should be excited, but he was, and he talked very
rapidly, never once glancing at Maddy until he had finished speaking.
She was looking at him intently, wondering if he could hear as she did
the beatings of her heart. Had her life depended upon it, she could
not at first have spoken, for the numbness which, like bands of steel,
seemed to press all the feeling out of it. She did not know why it was
that hearing of Lucy Atherstone should affect her so. Surely she ought
to be glad for Guy that he possessed the love of so sweet a creature
as he described her to be. He was glad, she knew, he talked so
energetically--so much as if it were a pleasure to talk; and she was
glad, too, only it had taken her so by surprise to know that Mr. Guy,
whom she had rather considered as exclusively her own and Jessie’s was
engaged, and that some time, before long it might be, Aikenside would
really have a mistress. She did not quite understand Guy’s last words,
although she was looking at him, and he asked her twice if she would
like to see Lucy’s picture ere she comprehended what he meant.

“Yes,” came faintly from the parted lips, about which there was a slight
quiver as she put up her hand to take the case Guy drew from his bosom.

Turning it to the light she gazed silently upon the sweet young face,
which seemed to return her gaze with a look as earnest and lifelike as
her own.

“What do you think of her--of my Lucy? Is she not pretty?” Guy asked,
bending down so that his dark hair swept against Maddy’s, while his warm
breath touched her burning cheeks.

“Yes, she’s beautiful, oh! so beautiful, and happy, too. I wish I had
been like her. I wish--” and Maddy burst into a most uncontrollable fit
of weeping, her tears dropping like rain upon the inanimate features of
Lucy Atherstone.

Guy looked at her amazed, his own heart throbbing with a keen pang of
something undefinable as he listened to her stormy weeping. What did
ail her? he wondered. Could it be that the evil against which he was
providing had really come upon her? Was Maddy more interested in him
than he supposed? He hoped not, though with a man’s vanity he felt a
slight thrill of satisfaction in thinking that it might be so. Guy knew
this feeling was not worthy of him, and he struggled to cast it off,
while he asked Maddy why she cried.

Child as she was, the real cause of her tears never entered her brain,
and she answered:

“I can’t tell why, unless I was thinking how different Miss Atherstone
is from me. She’s rich and handsome. I am poor and homely, and--”

“No, Maddy, you are not;” and Guy interrupted her.

Gently lifting up her head, he smoothed back her hair, and keeping a
hand on each side of her face, said, pleasantly:

“You are not homely. I think you quite as pretty as Lucy; I do, really,”
 he continued, as her eyes kindled at the compliment. “I am going to
write to her to-night, and shall tell her more about you. I want you to
like each other very much when she comes, so that you may live with us.
Aikenside would not be Aikenside without you, Maddy.”

In all his wooings of Lucy Atherstone, Guy’s voice had never been
tenderer in its tone than when he said this to Maddy, whose lip quivered
again, and who involuntarily laid her head now upon his knee as she
cried a second time, not noisily, but quietly, softly, as if this crying
did her good. For several minutes they sat there thus, the nature of
their thoughts known only to each other, for neither spoke, until Maddy,
half ashamed of her emotions, lifted up her head, and said:

“I do not know what made me cry, only I’d been so happy here that I
guess I’d come to think that you only liked Jessie and me. Of course I
knew that some time you would see and think all the world of somebody
else, but I did not expect it so soon. I am afraid Miss Atherstone will
not fancy me, and I know most I shall not feel as free here, after
she comes, as I do now. Then your being so good, sending me to school,
helped me to cry more, and so I was very foolish. Don’t tell Miss
Atherstone that I cried. Tell her, though, how beautiful she is, and how
glad I am that she loves you, and is going to be your wife.”

Maddy’s voice was very steady in its tone. She evidently meant what she
said, but Guy, the bad man, did not feel as graciously as he ought to
have felt in knowing that Maddy Clyde was glad “Lucy loved him, and was
to be his wife.”

Guy was rather uncomfortable, and as Maddy was in some way associated
with his discomfort, he did not oppose her when she arose to leave him.

Had Maddy been more a woman, or less a child, she would have seen that
it was well for her to know of Lucy Atherstone before her feelings for
Guy Remington had assumed a definite form. As it was, she never dreamed
how near she was to loving Aikenside’s young heir; and while talking
with Jessie of the grand times they should have at school, she marveled
at that little round spot of pain which was burning at her heart, or why
she should wish that Guy would not speak of her in his letter to Lucy
Atherstone.

But Guy did speak of her, frankly confessing the interest he felt in
her, telling just how people were beginning to talk, and asking Lucy if
she cared, declaring that if she did, he would not see Maddy Clyde any
more than was necessary. In a little less than four weeks there came an
answer from Lucy, who, with health somewhat improved, had returned to
England, and wrote to Guy from Brighton, where she expected to spend the
summer, half hoping Guy might join her there, though she could not urge
it, as mamma still insisted that she was not able to take upon herself
the duties of a wife. Then she spoke of Maddy Clyde, saying “She was not
one bit jealous of her dear Guy, Of course ignorant, meddling people, of
whom she feared there were a great many in America, would gossip, but
he was not to mind them.” Then she said that if Maddy were willing, she
would so much like her picture, as she had a curiosity to know just how
she looked, and if Maddy pleased, “would she write a few lines, so as
not to seem so much a stranger?”

Lucy Atherstone had been educated to think a great deal of birth, and
blood, and family, and Guy never did a wiser thing than when he told her
that according to English views, Maddy was a lady. It went far toward
reconciling Lucy to his interest in one whom her haughtier and more
sanguine mother called a rival, advising her mother to ignore her
altogether. But Lucy’s was a different nature, and though it cost her
pride a pang, she asked for a line from Maddy, partly to mortify that
pride, and partly to prove to Guy how free she was from jealousy.

“Darling little Lucy, I do love her very dearly,” was Guy’s comment, as
he finished reading her letter, feeling somewhat as if her mother were a
kind of cruel ogress, bent on preventing him from being happy. Then, as
he remembered Lucy’s hope that he might join her, and thought how much
easier of access New York was than Brighton, he said, half petulantly:

“I’ve been to England for nothing times enough. When that mother of hers
says I may have Lucy, I’ll go again, but not before. It don’t pay.”

And crushing the letter into his pocket, he went out upon the piazza
where were assembled Maddy, Jessie and Mrs. Agnes, the latter of whom
had come to Aikenside the day before.

At first she had objected to the boarding-school arrangement, saying
Jessie was too young, but Guy as usual had overruled her objections,
as he had those of Grandpa Markham, and it was now a settled thing that
Maddy and Jessie both should go to New York, Mrs. Agnes to accompany
them if she chose, and having a general supervision of her child. This
was Guy’s plan, the one which had prevailed with the fashionable woman,
who, tired of Boston, was well pleased with the prospect of a life in
New York. Guy’s interest in Maddy was wholly inexplicable to her, unless
she explained it on the principal that in the Remington nature there was
a fondness for governesses, as had been exemplified in her own history.
That Guy would ever marry Maddy she doubted, but the mere possibility
of it made her set her teeth firmly together as she thought how
embarrassing it would be to acknowledge as the mistress of Aikenside
the little girl whom she had sought to banish from her table. Since her
return she had had no opportunity of judging for herself how matters
stood, and was consequently much relieved when, as Guy joined them, he
began at once to speak of Lucy, telling of the letter, and her request
for Maddy’s picture.

“Me? Mine? You cannot mean that?” Maddy exclaimed, her eyes opening
wide with wonder, but Guy did mean it, and began to plan a drive on
the morrow to Devonshire, where there was at that time a tolerably fair
artist.

Accordingly the next day the four went down to Devonshire, calling first
upon the doctor, whose face brightened when he heard why they had come.
During the weeks that had passed, the doctor had not been blind to at
that was passing at Aikenside, and the fear that Guy was more interested
in Maddy than he ought to be, had grown almost to a certainty. Now,
however, he was not so sure. Indeed, the fact that Guy had told her of
Lucy Atherstone would indicate that his suspicions were groundless, and
he entered heartily into the picture plan, saying laughingly that if he
supposed Miss Lucy would like his face he’d sit himself, and bidding
Guy be sure to ask her. The doctor’s gay spirits helped raise those of
Maddy, and as that little burning spot in her heart was fast wearing
away, she was in just the mood for a most admirable likeness. Indeed,
the artist’s delight at his achievement was unbounded, as he declared
it the very best picture he had ever taken. It was beautiful, even Agnes
acknowledged to herself, while Jessie wait into raptures, and Maddy
blushed to hear her own praises. Guy said nothing, except to ask that
Maddy should sit again; this was good, but a second might be better.
So Maddy sat again, succeeding quite as well as at first, but as the
artist’s preference was for the former, it was left to be finished up,
with the understanding that Guy would call for it. As the ladies passed
down the stairs, Guy lingered behind, and when sure they were out of
hearing, said in a low voice:

“You may as well finish both; they are too good to be lost.”

The artist bowed, and Guy, with a half guilty blush, hurried down into
the street, where Agues was waiting for him. Two hours later, Guy, in
Mrs. Conner’s parlor, was exhibiting the finished picture, which in
its handsome casing, was more beautiful than ever, and more natural, if
possible.

“I think I might have one of Maddy’s,” Jessie said, half poutingly;
then, as she remembered the second sitting, she begged of Guy to get it
for her, “that was a dear brother.”

But the “dear brother” did not seem inclined to comply with her request,
putting her off, until, despairing of success, Jessie, when alone with
the doctor, tried her powers of persuasion on him, coaxing until in
self-defense he crossed the street, and entering the daguerrean gallery
asked for the remaining picture of Miss Clyde, saying that he wished it
for little Miss Remington.

“Mr. Remington took them both,” the artist replied, commencing a
dissertation on the style and beauty of the young girl, all of which
was lost upon the doctor, who, in a kind of maze, quitted the room, and
returning to Jessie, said to her carelessly: “He hasn’t it. You know
they rub out those they do not use. So you’ll have to do without; and,
Jessie, I wouldn’t tell Guy I tried to get it for you.”

Jessie wondered why she must not tell Guy, but the fact that the doctor
requested her not was sufficient. Consequently Guy little guessed that
the doctor knew what it was he carried so carefully in his coat pocket,
looking at it earnestly when at home and alone in his own room, admiring
its soft, girlish beauty, half shrinking from the lifelike expression
of the large, bright eyes, and trying to convince himself that his sole
object in getting it was to give it to the doctor after Maddy was gone!
It would be such a surprise, and the doctor would be so glad, that Guy
finally made himself believe that he had done a most generous thing!

“I am going to send Lucy your picture to-day, and as she asked that you
should write her a few lines, suppose you do it now,” Guy said to Maddy
next morning, as they were leaving the breakfast table.

It was a sore trial to Maddy to write to Lucy Atherstone, but she
offered no remonstrance, and so accompanying the picture was a little
note, filled mostly with praises of Mr. Guy, and which would be very
gratifying to the unsuspecting Lucy.

Now that it was fully decided for Jessie to go with Maddy, her lessons
were suspended, and Aikenside for the time being was turned into a vast
dressmaking and millinery establishment. With his usual generosity,
Guy had given Agnes permission to draw upon his purse for whatever was
needed, either for herself or Jessie, with the definite understanding
that Maddy should have an equal share of dress and attention.

“It will not be necessary,” he said, “for you to enlighten the citizens
of New York with regard to Maddy’s position. She goes there as Jessie’s
equal, and as such her wardrobe must be suitable.”

No one could live long with Maddy Clyde without becoming interested
in her, and in spite of herself Agnes’ dislike was wearing away,
particularly as of late she had seen no signs of special attention on
the doctor’s part. He had gotten over his weakness, she thought, and so
was very gracious toward Maddy, who, naturally forgiving, began to like
her better than she had ever dreamed it possible for her to like so
proud and haughty a woman. Down at the cottage in Honedale there were
many consultations held and many fears expressed by the aged couple
as to what would be the result of all Guy was doing for their child.
Womanlike, Grandma Markham felt a flutter of pride in thinking that
Maddy was going to school in a big city like New York. It gave her
something to talk about with her less fortunate neighbors, who wondered,
and gossiped, and envied, but could not bring themselves to feel
unkindly toward the girl Maddy, who had grown up in their midst, and
who as yet was wholly unchanged by prosperity. Grandpa Markham, on the
contrary, though pleased that Maddy should have every opportunity
for acquiring the education she so much desired, was fearful of the
result--fearful that there might come a time when his darling would
shrink from the relations to whom she was as sunshine to the flowers. He
knew that the difference between Aikenside and the cottage must strike
her unpleasantly every time she came home, and he did not blame her for
her always apparent readiness to go back. That was natural, he thought,
but a life in New York, that great city which to the simple-hearted old
man seemed a very Babylon of iniquity, was different, and for a time he
demurred to sending her there. But Guy persuaded him, and when he heard
that Agnes was going, too, he consented, for he had faith in Agnes as
a protector. Maddy had never told him of the scene which followed that
lady’s return from Saratoga. Indeed, Maddy never told anything but good
of Aikenside or its inmates, and so Mrs. Agnes came in for a share of
the old people’s gratitude, while even Uncle Joseph, hearing daily a
prayer for the “young madam,” as grandpa termed her, learned to pray
for her himself, coupling her name with that of Sarah, and asking in
his crazy way that God would “forgive Sarah” first, and then “bless the
madam--the madam--the madam.”

A few days before Maddy’s departure, grandpa went up to see “the madam;”
 anxious to know something more than hearsay about a person to whose care
his child was to be partially intrusted. Agnes was in her room when told
who wanted to see her. Starting quickly, she turned so deadly white that
Maddy, who brought the message, flew to her side, asking in much alarm,
what was the matter.

“Only a little faint. It will soon pass off,” Agnes said, and then,
dismissing Maddy, she tried to compose herself sufficiently to pass the
ordeal she so much dreaded, and from which there was no possible escape.

Thirteen years! Had they changed her past recognition? She hoped, she
believed so, and yet, never in her life had Agnes Remington’s heart
beaten with so much terror and apprehension as when she entered the
reception room where Guy sat talking with the infirm old man she
remembered so well. He had grown older, thinner, poorer looking, than
when she saw him last, but in his wrinkled face there was the same
benignant, heavenly expression which, when she was better than she was
now, used to remind her of the angels. His snowy hair was parted just
the same as ever, but the mild blue eye was dimmer, and it rested on her
with no suspicious glance as, partially reassured, she glided across the
threshold, and bowed civilly when Guy presented her.

A little anxious as to how her grandfather would acquit herself,
Maddy sat by, wondering why Agnes appeared so ill at ease, and why
her grandsire started sometimes at the sound of her voice, and looked
earnestly at her.

“We’ve never met before to my knowledge, young woman,” he said once to
Agnes, “but you are mighty like somebody, and your voice when you talk
low keeps makin’ me jump as if I’d heard it summers or other.”

After that Agnes spoke in elevated tones, as if she thought him deaf,
and the mystified look of wonder did not return to his face. Numerous
were the charges he gave to Agnes concerning Maddy, bidding her be
watchful of his child, and see that she did not “get too much drinked
in with the wicked things on Broadway!” then, as he arose to go, he laid
his trembling hand on her head and said solemnly: “You are young yet,
lady, and there may be a long life before you. God bless you, then, and
prosper you in proportion as you are kind to Maddy. I’ve nothing to give
you nor Mr. Guy for your goodness only my prayers, and them you have
every day. We all pray for you, lady, Joseph and all, though I doubt
me he knows much the meaning of what he says.” “Who, sir? What did you
say?” and Agnes’ face was scarlet, as grandpa replied: “Joseph, our
unfortunate boy; Maddy must have told you, the one who’s taken such a
shine to Jessie. He’s crazy-like, and from the corner where he sits so
much, I can hear him whispering by the hour, sometimes of folks he used
to know, and then of you, who we call madam. He says for ten minutes on
the stretch: “God bless the madam--the madam--the madam!” You’re
sick, lady; talkin’ about crazy folks makes you faint,” grandpa added,
hastily, as Agnes turned white, like the dress she wore. “No--oh, no,
I’m better now,” Agnes gasped, bowing him to the door with a feeling
that she could not breathe a moment longer in his presence. He did not
hear her faint cry of bitter, bitter remorse, as he walked through the
hall, nor know she watched him as he went slowly down the walk, stopping
often to admire the fair blossoms which Maddy did not feel at liberty
to pick. “He loved flowers,” Agnes whispered, as her better nature
prevailed over every other feeling, and, starting eagerly forward, she
ran after the old man, who, surprised at her evident haste, waited a
little anxiously for her to speak. It was rather difficult to do so with
Maddy’s inquiring eyes upon her, but Agnes managed at last to say: “Does
that crazy man like flowers--the one who prays for the madam?” “Yes, he
used to years ago,” grandpa replied; and, bending down, Agnes began to
pick and arrange into a most tasteful bouquet the blossoms and buds of
May, growing so profusely within the borders.

“Take them to him, will you?” and her hand shook as she passed to
Grandpa Markham the gift which would thrill poor crazy Joseph with
a strange delight, making him hold converse a while with the unseen
presence which he called “she,” and then whisper blessings on the
madam’s head. Three days after this, a party of four left Aikenside,
which presented a most forlorn and cheerless appearance to the
passers-by, who were glad almost as the servants when, at the expiration
of a week, Guy came back and took up his olden life of solitude and
loneliness, with nothing in particular to interest him, except his books
the letters he wrote to Lucy; unless, indeed, it were those he was
going to write to Maddy, who, with Jessie, had promised to become
his correspondents. Nothing but these and the picture--the doctor’s
picture--the one designed expressly for him, and which troubled him
greatly. Believing that he had fully intended it for the doctor, Guy
felt as if it were, in a measure, stolen property, and this made him
prize it all the more.

Now that Maddy was away, Guy missed her terribly, wondering how he had
ever lived without her, and sometimes working himself into a violent
passion against the meddlesome neighbors who would not let her remain
with him in peace, and who, now that she was gone, did not stop their
talking one whit. Of this last, however, he was ignorant, as there was
no one to tell him how people marveled more than ever, feeling confident
now that he was educating his own wife, and making sundry hateful
remarks as to what he intended doing with her relations. Guy only knew
that he was very lonely, that Lucy’s letters seemed insipid, that even
the doctor failed to interest him, as of old, and that his greatest
comfort was in looking at the bright young face which seemed to smile so
trustfully upon him from the tiny casing, just as Maddy had smiled upon
him when, in Madam -----‘s parlor, he bade her good-by. The doctor could
not have that picture, he finally decided. Hal ought to be satisfied
with getting Maddy, as of course he would, for wasn’t he educating her
for that very purpose? Certainly he was, and, as a kind of atonement for
what he deemed treachery to his friend, he talked with him often of her,
always taking it for granted that when she was old enough, the doctor
would woo and win the little girl who had come to him in his capacity of
inspector, as candidate number one.

At first, the doctor suspected him of acting a part in order to cover
up some design of his own with regard to Maddy, and affected an
indifference he did not feel; but, as time passed on, Guy, who really
believed himself sincere, managed to make the doctor believe so, too.
Consequently, the latter abandoned his suspicions, and gave himself
up to blissful dreams of what might possibly be when Maddy should have
become the brilliant woman she was sure one day to be. Alas! for the
doctor’s dreams.



CHAPTER XV. -- THE HOLIDAYS.


The summer vacation had been spent by the Remington’s and Maddy at the
seaside, the latter coming to the cottage for a week before returning to
her school in New York, and as the doctor was then absent from home, she
did not meet him at all. Consequently he had not seen her since she
left Aikenside for New York. But she was at home now for the Christmas
holidays--was down at the cottage, too; and unusually nervous for him,
the doctor stood before the little square glass in his back office,
trying to make himself look as well as possible, for he was going that
very afternoon to call upon Miss Clyde. He was glad she was not at
Aikenside; he would rather meet her where Guy was not, and he hoped he
might be fortunate enough to find her alone.

The doctor was seriously in love. He acknowledged that now to himself,
confessing, too, that with his love was mingled a spice of jealousy,
lest Guy Remington should be expending more thought on Maddy Clyde than
was consistent with the promised husband of Lucy Atherstone. He wished
so much to talk with Guy about her, and yet he dreaded it; for if the
talk should confirm his suspicious there would be no hope for him. No
girl in her right mind would prefer him to Guy Remington, and with a
little sigh the doctor was turning away from the glass, when, as if
to verify a familiar proverb, Guy himself drove up in a most dashing
equipage, the silver-tipped harness of his high-mettled steed flashing
in the wintry sunlight, and the bright-hued lining of his fanciful robes
presenting a very gay appearance.

Guy was in the best of spirits. For an entire half day he had tried to
devise some means to getting Maddy up to Aikenside. It was quite too bad
for her to spend the whole vacation at the cottage, as she seemed likely
to do. He knew she was lonely there; that the bare floor and low, dark
walls affected her unpleasantly. He had seen that in her face when he
bade her good-by, for he had carried her down to the cottage himself,
and now he was going after her. There was to be a party at Aikenside;
the very first since Guy was its master. The neighbors had said he was
too proud to invite them, but they should say so no more. The house was
to be thrown open in honor of Guy’s twenty-sixth birthday, and all who
were at all desirable as guests were to be bidden to the festival. First
on the list was the doctor, who, remembering how averse Guy was to large
parties, wondered at the proceedings. But Guy was all engaged in
the matter, and after telling who were to be invited, added rather
indifferently: “I’m going now down to Honedale after Maddy. It’s better
for her to be with us a day or two beforehand. You’ve seen her, of
course.”

No, the doctor had not; he was just going there, he said, in a tone so
full of sad disappointment, that Guy detected it at once, and asked if
anything was the matter.

“Guy,” the doctor continued, sitting down by his friend, “I remember
once your making me your confidant about Lucy. You remember it, too?”

“Yes, why? well?” Guy replied, beginning to feel strangely uncomfortable
as he half divined what was coming next.

Latterly Guy had stopped telling the doctor that he was educating Maddy
for him. Indeed, he did not talk of her at all, and the doctor might
have fancied her out of his mind but for the frequent visits to New
York, which Guy found it absolutely necessary to make. Guy did not
himself understand the state of his own feelings with regard to Maddy,
but if compelled to explain them they would have been something as
follows: He fully expected to marry Lucy Atherstone; the possibility
that he should not had never occurred to him, but that was no reason
why Maddy Clyde need be married for these many years. She was very young
yet; there was time enough for her to think of marrying when she was
twenty-five, and in the meanwhile it would be splendid to have her at
Aikenside as Lucy’s and his friend. Nothing could be nicer, and Guy did
not care to have this little arrangement spoiled. But that the doctor
had an idea of spoiling it, he had not a doubt, particularly after the
doctor’s next remark.

“I have not seen Maddy since last spring, you know. Is she very much
improved?”

“Yes, very much. There is no more stylish-looking girl to be seen on
Broadway than Maddy Clyde,” and Guy shook down his pantaloons a little
awkwardly.

“Well, is she as handsome as she used to be, and as childish in her
manner?” the doctor asked; and Guy replied:

“I took her to the opera once, last month, and the many admiring glances
cast at our box proved pretty positively that Maddy’s beauty was not of
the ordinary kind.”

“The opera!” the doctor exclaimed; “Maddy Clyde at the opera! What would
her grandfather say? He is very puritanical, you know.”

“Yes, I know; and so is Maddy, too. She wrote and obtained his consent
before she’d go with me. He won’t let her go to a theatre anyhow.”

Here an interval of silence ensued, and then the doctor began again,

“Guy, you told me once you were educating Maddy Clyde for me, and I
tried then to make you think I didn’t care; but I did, oh, so much. Guy,
laugh at me, if you please. I cannot blame you if you do; but the fact
is, I believe I’ve loved Maddy Clyde ever since that time she was so
sick. At all events, I love her now, and I was going down there this
very afternoon to tell her so. She’s old enough. She was sixteen last
October, the--the----”

“Tenth day,” Guy responded, thus showing that he, too, was keeping
Maddy’s age, even to a day.

“Yes, the tenth day,” resumed the doctor. “There’s ‘most eleven years’
difference between us, but if she feels at all as I do, she will not
care, Guy;” and the doctor began to talk earnestly: “I’ll be candid with
you, and say that you have sometimes made my heart ache a little.”

“Me!” and Guy’s face was crimson, while the doctor continued:

“Yes, and I beg your pardon for it; but let me ask you one question, and
upon its answer will depend my future course with regard to Maddy: You
are true to Lucy?”

Guy felt the blood trickling at the roots of his hair, but he answered
truthfully as he believed:

“Yes, true as steel;” while the generous thought came over him that he
would further the doctor’s plans all he possibly could.

“Then I am satisfied,” the doctor rejoined; “and as you have rather
assumed the position of her guardian or brother, I ask your permission
to offer her the love which whether she accepts it or not, is hers.”

Guy had never felt a sharper pang than that which now thrilled through
every nerve, but he would not prove false to the friend confiding in
him, and he answered calmly:

“You have my consent; but, Doc, better put it off till you see her
at Aikenside. There’s no chance at the cottage, with those three old
people. I wonder she don’t go wild. I’m sure I should.”

Guy was growing rather savage about something, but the doctor did not
mind; and grasping his arm as he arose, he said:

“And you’ll manage it for me, Guy? You know how. I don’t. You’ll
contrive for me to see her alone, and maybe say a word beforehand in my
favor.”

“Yes, yes, I’ll manage it. I’ll fix it right. Don’t forget, day after
to-morrow night. The Cutlers’ will be there, and, by the way, Marcia has
got to be a splendid girl. She fancied you once, you know. Old Cutler is
worth half a million.” And Guy tore himself away from the doctor, who,
now that the ice was broken, would like to have talked of Maddy forever.

But Guy was not thus inclined, and in a mood not extremely amiable, he
threw himself into his sleigh and went dashing down toward Honedale.
For some unaccountable reason he was not now one bit interested in the
party, and, were it not that a few of the invitations were issued, he
would have been tempted to give it up. Guy did not know what ailed him.
He only felt as if somebody had been meddling with his plans, and had he
been in the habit of swearing, he would probably have sworn; but as he
was not, he contented himself with driving like a second Jehu he reached
Honedale, where a pair of soft, brown eyes smiled up into his face, and
a little, fat, warm hand was clasped in his, as Maddy came even to the
gate to meet him.

She was very glad to see him. The cottage with its humble adornings did
seem lonely, almost dreary, after the life and bustle of New York, and
Maddy had cried more than once to think how hard and wicked she must be
growing when her home had ceased to be the dear old home she once loved
so well. She had been there five days now, and notwithstanding the
efforts of her grandparents to entertain her, each day had seemed a
week in its duration. Neither the doctor nor Guy had been near her, and
capricious little Maddy had made herself believe that the former was
sadly remiss in his duty, inasmuch as he had not seen her for so long.
He had been in the habit of calling every week, her grandmother said,
and this did not tend to increase her amiability. Why didn’t he come now
when he knew she was at home? Didn’t he want to see her? Well, she could
be indifferent, too, and when they did meet, she’d show how little she
cared!

Maddy was getting to be a woman with womanly freaks, as the reader will
readily see. At Guy she was not particularly piqued. She did not take
his attentions, as a matter of course; still she thought more of him, if
possible, than of the doctor, during those five days, saying to herself
each morning: “He’ll surely come to-day,” and to herself each night: “He
will be here to-morrow.” She had something to show him at last--a
letter from Lucy Atherstone, who had gradually come to be her regular
correspondent, and whom Maddy had learned to love with all the intensity
of her girlhood. To her ardent imagination Lucy Atherstone was but a
little lower than the angels, and the pure, sweet thoughts contained in
every letter were doing almost as much toward molding her character as
Grandpa Markham’s prayers and constant teachings. Maddy did not know
it, but it was these letters from Lucy which kept her from loving Guy
Remington. She could not for a moment associate him with herself when
she so constantly thought of him as the husband of another, and that
other Lucy Atherstone. Not for worlds would Maddy have wronged the
gentle creature who wrote to her so confidingly of Guy, envying her
in that she could so often see his face and hear his voice, while his
betrothed was separated from him by many thousand miles. Little by
little it had come out that Lucy’s mother was averse to the match, that
she had in her mind the case of an English lord, who would make her
daughter “My Lady;” and this was the secret of her deferring so long
her daughter’s marriage. In her last letter to Maddy, however, Lucy
had written with more than her usual spirit that she would come in
possession of her property on her twenty-fifth birthday. She should then
feel at liberty to act for herself, and she launched out into joyful
anticipations of the time when she should come to Aikenside and meet her
dear Maddy Clyde. Feeling that Guy, if he did not already know it, would
be glad to hear it, Maddy had all the morning been wishing he would
come; and when she saw him at the gate she ran out to meet him, her eyes
and face sparkling with eager joy as she suffered him to retain her
hand while she said: “I am so glad to see you, Mr. Remington. I almost
thought you had forgotten me at Aikenside, Jessie and all.”

Guy began to exclaim against any one’s forgetting her, and also to
express his pleasure at finding her so glad to see him, when Maddy
interrupted him with, “Oh, it’s not that; I’ve something to show
you--something which will make you very happy. I had a letter from Lucy
last night. When she is twenty-five she will be her own mistress, you
know, and she means to be married in spite of her mother--she says--let
me see--” and drawing from her bosom Lucy’s letter, Maddy read, “‘I
do not intend to fail in filial obedience, but I have tired dear Guy’s
patience long enough, and as soon as I can I shall marry him.’ Isn’t it
nice?” and returning the letter to its hiding place, Maddy scooped up in
her hand and ate a quantity of the snow beside the path.

“Yes, it was very nice,” Guy admitted, but there was a shadow on his
brow as he followed Maddy into the cottage, where the lunatic, who had
been watching them from the window, shook his head doubtfully and said,
“Too young, too young for you, young man. You can’t have our Sunshine if
you want her.”

“Hush, Uncle Joseph,” Maddy whispered, softly, taking his arm and laying
it around her neck. “Mr. Remington don’t want me. He is engaged to a
beautiful English girl across the sea.”

Low as Maddy’s words were, Guy heard them, as well as the crazy man’s
reply, “Engagements have been broken.”

That was the first time the possibility had ever entered Guy’s brain
that his engagement might be broken, provided he wished it, which he did
not, he said to himself positively. Lucy loved him, he loved Lucy, and
that was enough, so in a kind of abstracted manner arising from the
fact that he was calculating how long it would be before Lucy was
twenty-five, he began to talk with Maddy, asking how she had spent her
time, and so forth. This reminded Maddy of the doctor, who, she said,
had not been to see her at all.

“He was coming this morning,” Guy rejoined, “but I persuaded him to
defer his call until you were at Aikenside. I have come to take you back
with me, as we are to have a party day after to-morrow evening, and I
wish you to be present.”

A party, a big party, such as Maddy had never in her life attended! How
her eyes sparkled from mere anticipation as she looked appealingly
to her grandfather, who, though classing parties with the pomps and
vanities from which he would shield his child, still remembered that he
once was young, that fifty years ago he, too, like Maddy, wanted “to
see the folly of it,” and not take the mere word of older people that
in every festive scene there was a pitfall, strewn over so thickly with
roses that it was ofttimes hard to tell just where its boundary line
commenced. Besides that, grandpa had faith in Guy, and so his consent
was granted, and Maddy was soon on her way to Aikenside, which presented
a gayer, busier appearance than she had ever known before. Jessie was
wild with delight, dragging forth at once the pink dress which she was
to wear, and whispering to Maddy that Guy had bought a dark blue silk
for her, and that Sarah Jones was at that moment fashioning it after a
dress left there by Maddy the previous summer.

“Mother said plain white muslin was more appropriate for a young girl,
but Brother Guy said no; fee blue would be useful after the party;
it was what you needed, and so he bought it and paid a dollar and
three-quarters a yard, but it’s a secret until you are called to try it
on. Isn’t Guy splendid?”

He was indeed splendid, Maddy thought, wondering why he was so kind to
her, and if it would be so when Lucy came. The dress fitted admirably,
only Maddy thought grandpa would say it was too low in the neck, but
Sarah overruled her objections, assisted by Guy, who, when the dress was
completed and tried on for the last time, was called in by Jessie to
see if “Maddy’s neck didn’t look just like cheese curd,” and if “she
shouldn’t have a piece sewed on as she suggested.” The neck was _au
fait_, Guy said, laughing as Maddy for blushing so, and saying when
he saw how really distressed she seemed that he would provide her with
something to relieve the bareness of which she complained. “Oh, I know,
I saw, I peeked in the box,” Jessie began, but Guy put his hand over the
little tattler’s mouth, bidding her keep the result of her peeking to
herself.

And for once Jessie succeeded in doing so, although she several times
set Maddy to guessing what it was Guy had for her in a box! As the size
of the box was not mentioned, Maddy had fully made up her mind to a
shawl or scarf, and was proportionately disappointed when, as she was
dressing for the party, there was sent up to her room a small round box,
scarcely large enough to hold an apple, much less a small scarf. The
present proved to be a pair of plain but heavy bracelets, and a most
exquisitely wrought chain of gold, to which was appended a beautiful
pearl cross, the whole accompanied with the words, “From Guy.” Jessie
was in ecstasies again. Clasping the ornaments on Maddy’s neck and
arms, she danced around her, declaring there never was anything more
beautiful, or anybody as pretty as Maddy was in her rich party dress.
Maddy was fond of jewelry--as what young girl is not?--and felt a flush
of gratified pride, or vanity, or satisfaction, whichever one chooses to
call it, as she glanced at herself in the mirror and remembered the
time when, riding with the doctor, she had met Mrs. Agnes, with golden
bracelets flashing on her arms, and wished she might one day wear
something like them. The day had come sooner than she then anticipated,
but Maddy was not as happy in possession of the coveted ornaments as she
had thought she should be. Somehow, it seemed to her that Guy ought not
to have given them to her, that it was improper for her to keep them,
and that both Mrs. Noah and Agnes thought so, too. She wished she knew
exactly what was right, and then, remembering that Guy had said the
doctor was expected early, she decided to ask his opinion on the subject
and abide by it.

At first Agnes had cared but little about the party, affecting to
despise the people in their immediate neighborhood; but when Guy
gave her permission to invite from the adjoining towns, and even from
Worcester if she liked, her spirits arose; and when her toilet was
completed, she shone resplendent in lace and diamonds and curls,
managing to retain through all a certain simplicity of dress appropriate
to the hostess. But beautiful as Agnes was, she felt in her jealous
heart that there was about Maddy Clyde an attraction she did
not possess. Guy saw it, too, and while complimenting his pretty
mother-in-law, kept his eyes fixed admiringly on Maddy, who started him
into certain unpleasant remembrances by asking if the doctor had come
yet.

“No--yes--there he was now,” and Guy looked into the hall, where the
doctor’s voice was heard inquiring for him.

“I want to see him a minute, alone, please. There’s something I want
to ask him.” And, unmindful of Agnes’ darkening frown, or Guy’s look
of wonder, Maddy darted from the room, and ran hastily down the hall to
where the doctor stood, waiting for Guy, not for her.

He had not expected to meet her thus, or to see her thus, and the sight
of her, grown so tall, so womanly, so stylish and so beautiful, almost
took his breath away. And yet, as he stood with her soft hand in his,
and surveyed her from head to foot, he felt that he would rather have
had her as she was when a dainty frill shaded her pale, wasted face,
when the snowy ruffle was fastened high about her throat, and the cotton
bands were buttoned about her wrists, where gold ones now were
shining. The doctor had never forgotten Maddy as she was then, the very
embodiment, he thought, of helpless purity. The little sick girl, so
dear to him then, was growing away from him now; and these adornings,
which marked the budding woman, seemed to remove her from him and place
her nearer to Guy, whose bride should wear silk and jewels, just as
Maddy did.

She was very glad to see him, she said, asking in the same breath why
he had not been to the cottage, if she had not grown tall, and if he
thought her one bit improved with living in a city?

“One question at a time, if you please,” he said, drawing her a little
more into the shadow of the door where they would be less observed by
any one passing through.

Maddy did not wait for him to answer, so eager was she to unburden her
mind and know if she ought to keep the costly presents, at which she
knew he was looking.

“If he remembers his unpaid bill, he must consider me mighty mean,”
 she thought: and then, with her usual frankness, she told him of the
perplexity and asked his opinion.

“It would displease Mr. Guy very much if I were to give them back,” she
said: “but it hardly is right for me to accept them, is it?”

The doctor did not say she ought not to wear the ornaments, though he
longed to tear them from her arms and neck and throw them anywhere, he
cared not where, so they freed her wholly from Guy.

They were very becoming, he said. She would not look as well without
them; so she had better wear them to-night, and to-morrow, if she would
grant him an interview, he would talk with her further.

Dissembling doctor! He said all this to gain the desired interview with
Maddy, the interview for which Guy was to prepare her. That he had not
done so he felt assured, but he could not be angry with him, as he came
smilingly toward them, asking if they had talked privacy long enough,
and glancing rather curiously at Maddy’s face. There was nothing in its
expression to disturb him, and, offering her his arm, he led her back to
the drawing-rooms where Agnes was smoothing down the folds of her dress,
preparatory to receiving the guests just descending the stairs. It was
a brilliant scene which Aikenside presented that night, and amid it all
Agnes bore herself like a queen, while Jessie, with her sunny face and
golden hair, came in for a full share of attention. But amid the gay
throng there was none so fair or so beautiful as Maddy, who deported
herself with as much ease and grace as if she had all her life long
been accustomed to just such occasions as this. At a distance the doctor
watched her, telling several who she was, and once resenting by both
look and manner a remark made by Maria Cutler to the effect that she was
nobody but Mrs. Remington’s governess, a poor girl whom Guy had taken a
fancy to educate out of charity.

“He seems very fond of his charity pupil, upon my word. He scarcely
leaves her neighborhood at all,” whispered old Mrs. Cutler, the mother
of Maria, who, Guy said, once fancied Dr. Holbrook, and who had
no particular objections to fancying him now, provided it could be
reciprocal.

But the doctor was only intent on Maddy, knowing always just where she
was standing, just who was talking to her; and just how far from her Guy
was. He knew, too, when the latter was urging her to sing; and, managing
to get nearer, heard her object that no one cared to hear her.

“But I do; I wish it,” Guy replied in that tone which people generally
obeyed; and casting a half-frightened look at the sea of faces around
her, Maddy suffered him to lead her to the piano, sitting quite still
while he found what he wished her to play.

It was his favorite song, and one which brought out Maddy’s voice in its
various modulations.

“Oh, please, Mr. Remington, anything but a song. I cannot sing,” Maddy
whispered pleadingly; but Guy answered resolutely, “You can.”

There was no appeal after this, but a resigned, obedient look, which
made the doctor gnash his teeth as he leaned upon the instrument. What
right had Guy to command Maddy Clyde, and why should she obey? and yet,
as the doctor glanced at Guy, he felt that were he in Maddy’s place, he
should do the same.

“No girl can resist Guy Remington,” he thought. “I’m glad there’s a Lucy
Atherstone over the sea.” And with a smile of encouragement for Maddy,
who was pale with nervous timidity, he listened while her sweet,
birdlike voice trembled for a moment with fear; and then, gaining from
its own sound, filled the room with melody, and made those who had
wandered off to other parts of the building hasten back to see who was
singing.

Maria Cutler had presided at the piano earlier in the evening, as had
one or two other young ladies, but to none of these had Guy paid half
the attention he did to Maddy, staying constantly by her, holding her
fan, turning the leaves of music, and dictating what she should play.

“There’s devotion,” tittered a miss in long ringlets; “but she really
does play well,” and she appealed to Maria Cutler, who answered, “Yes,
she keeps good time, and I should think might play for a dance. I
mean to ask her,” and going up to Guy she said, “I wish to speak
to--to--well, Jessie’s governess. Introduce me, please.”

Guy waited till Maddy was through, and then gave the desired
introduction. In a tone not wholly free from superciliousness, Miss
Cutler said:

“Can you play a waltz or polka, Miss Clyde? We are aching to exercise
our feet.”

Maddy bowed and struck into a spirited waltz, which set many of the
people present to whirling in circles, and produced the result which
Maria so much desired, viz: it drove Guy away from the piano, for he
could not mistake her evident wish to have him as a partner, and with
his arm around her waist he was soon moving rapidly from that part of
the room, leaving only the doctor to watch Maddy’s fingers as they
flew over the keys. Maddy never thought of being tired. She enjoyed
the excitement, and was glad she could do something toward entertaining
Guy’s guests. But Guy did not forget her for an instant. Through all
the mazes of the giddy dance, he had her before his eye, seeing not the
clouds of lace and muslin encircled by his arm, but the little figure in
blue sitting so patiently at the piano until he knew she must be tired,
and determined to release her. As it chanced, Maria was again his
partner, and drawing her nearer to Maddy, he said, “Your fingers ache by
this time, I am sure. It is wrong to trouble you longer. Agnes will take
your place while you try a quadrille with me.”

“Oh, thank you,” Maddy answered. “I am not tired in the least. I had as
lief play till morning, provided they are satisfied with my time and my
stock of music holds out.”

“But it is not fair for one to do all the playing; besides, I want you
to dance with me--so consider yourself invited in due form to be my next
partner.”

Maddy’s face crimsoned for an instant, and then in a low voice she said,
“I thank you, but I must decline.”

“Maddy!” Guy exclaimed, in tones more indicative of reproach than
expostulation.

There were tears in Maddy’s eyes, and Maria Cutler, watching her,
was vexed to see how beautiful was the expression of her face as she
answered frankly, “I have never told you that grandpa objected to my
taking dancing lessons when I wrote to him about it. He does not like me
to dance.”

“A saint!” Maria uttered under her breath, smiling contemptuously as she
made a movement to leave the piano, hoping Guy would follow her.

But he did not at once. Standing for a moment irresolute, while he
looked curiously at Maddy, he said at last:

“Of course I interfere with no one’s scruples of that kind, but I cannot
allow you to wear yourself out for our amusement.”

“I like to play--please let me,” was Maddy’s reply; and, as the set upon
the floor were waiting for her, she turned to the instrument, while Guy
mechanically offered his arm to Maria, and sauntered toward the green
room.

“What a blue old ignoramus that grandfather must be, to object to
dancing, don’t you think so?”

Maria laughed a little spitefully, secretly glad that Maddy had refused,
and secretly angry at Guy for seeming to care so much.

“Say,” she continued, as Guy did not answer her, “don’t you think it
a sign that something is lacking in brains or education, when a person
sets up that dancing is wicked?”

Guy would have taken Maddy’s side then, whatever he might have thought,
and he replied:

“No lack of brains, certainly; though education and circumstances have
much to do with one’s views upon that subject. For my part, I like to
see people consistent. Now, that old ignoramus, as you call him, lays
great stress on pomp and vanities, and when I asked him once what he
meant by them, he mentioned dancing in particular as one of the things
which you, church people, promise to renounce;” and Guy bowed toward
Maria, who, knowing that she was one of the church people referred to,
winced perceptibly.

“But this girl--this Maddy. There’s no reason why she should decline,”
 she said; and Guy replied: “Respect for her grandfather, in her case,
seems to be stronger than respect for a higher power in some other
cases.”

“It’s just as wicked to play for dancing as ‘tis to dance,” Maria
remarked impatiently, while Guy rejoined:

“That is very possible; but I presume Maddy has never seen it in that
light, which makes a difference;” and the two retraced their steps to
the rooms where the gay revelers were still tripping to Maddy’s stirring
music.

After several ineffectual efforts Agnes had succeeded in enticing the
doctor away from the piano, and thus there was no one near to see how at
last the bright color began to fade from her cheeks as the notes before
her ran together, and the keys assumed the form of one huge key which
Maddy could not manage. There was a blur before her eyes, a buzzing in
her ears, and just as the dancers were entering heart and soul into
the merits of a popular polka, there was a sudden pause in the music,
a crash among the keys, and a faint cry, which to those nearest to her
sounded very much like “Mr. Guy,” as Maddy fell forward with her face
upon the piano. It was hard telling which carried her from the room, the
doctor or Guy, or which face of the three was the whitest. Guy’s was the
most frightened, for the doctor knew she had only fainted, while Guy,
struck with the marble rigidity of the face so recently flushed with
excitement, said at first, “She’s dead,” while over him there flashed
a feeling that life with Maddy dead would be desolate indeed. But Maddy
was not dead, and Guy, when he went back to his guests carried the news
that she had recovered from her faint, which she kindly ascribed to the
heat of the rooms, instead of fatigue from playing so long. The doctor
was with her and she was doing as well as could be expected, he said,
thinking within himself how he wished they would go home, and wondering
what attraction there was there, now that Maddy’s place was vacant. Guy
was a vastly miserable man by the time the last guest had bidden him
good-night, and he had heard for the hundred-and-fiftieth time what a
delightful evening it had been. Politeness required that he should look
to the very last as pleasant and unconcerned as if upstairs there were
no little sick girl, all alone undoubtedly with Dr. Holbrook, whom he
mentally styled a “lucky dog,” in that he was not obliged to appear
again in the parlors unless he chose.

The doctor knew Maddy did not require his presence after the first
half hour, but he insisted upon her being sent to bed, and then went
frequently to her door until assured by Mrs. Noah that she was sleeping
soundly, and would, if let alone, be well as ever on the morrow, a
prediction which proved true, for when at a late hour next morning the
family met at the breakfast table, Maddy’s was the brightest, freshest
face of the whole, not even excepting Jessie’s. Maddy, too, was
delighted with the party, declaring that nothing but pleasurable
excitement and heat had made her faint, and then with all the interest
which young girls usually attach to fainting fits, she asked how she
looked, how she acted, if she didn’t appear very ridiculous, and how she
got out of the room, saying the only thing she remembered after falling
was a sensation as if she were being torn in two.

“That’s it,” cried Jessie, who readily volunteered the desired
information, “Brother Guy was ‘way off with Maria Cutler, and doctor was
with mamma, but both ran, oh, so fast, and both tried to take you up. I
think Miss Cutler real hateful, for she said, so meanlike, ‘Do you see
them pull her, as if ‘twas of the slightest consequence which carried
her out?’”

“Jessie,” Guy interposed sternly, while the doctor looked disapprovingly
at the little girl, who subsided into silence after saying, in an
undertone, “I do think she’s hateful, and that isn’t all she said either
about Maddy.”

It was rather uncomfortable at the table after that, and rather quiet,
too, as Maddy did not care to ask anything more concerning her faint,
while the others were not disposed to talk.

Breakfast over, the two young men repaired to the library, where Guy
indulged in his cigar, while the doctor fidgeted for a time, and then
broke out abruptly:

“I say, Guy, have you said anything to her about--well, about me, you
know?”

“Why, no, I’ve hardly had a chance; and then, again, I concluded it
better for each one to speak for himself;” and carelessly knocking the
ashes from his half-smoked cigar, Guy leaned back in his chair, with his
eyes, and, to all appearance, thoughts, wholly intent upon the curls of
smoke rising above his head.

“Guy, if you were not engaged, I should be tempted to think you wanted
Maddy Clyde yourself,” the doctor suddenly exclaimed, confronting Guy,
who, still watching the rings of smoke, answered with the most provoking
coolness, “You should?”

“Yes, I should; and I am not certain but you do as it is, Guy,” and the
doctor grew very earnest in his manner, “if you do care for Maddy Clyde,
and she for you, pray tell me so before I make a fool of myself.”

“Doctor,” returned Guy, throwing the remains of his cigar into the grate
and folding his hands on his head, “you desire that I be frank, and I
will. I like Maddy Clyde very much--more indeed than any girl I ever
met--except Lucy. Had I never seen her--Lucy, I mean--I cannot tell how
I should feel toward Maddy. The chances are, however, that much as I
admire her, I should not make her my wife, even if she were willing.
But I have seen Lucy. I am engaged to be married. I shall keep that
engagement, and if you have feared me at all as a rival, you may fear me
no longer. I do not stand between you and Maddy Clyde.”

Guy believed that he was saying the truth, notwithstanding that his
heart beat faster than its wont and his voice was a little thick. It was
doubtful whether he would marry Maddy Clyde, if he could. By nature and
education he was very proud, and the inmates of the red cottage would
have been an obstacle to be surmounted by his pride. He knew they were
good, far, far better than himself; but, from his earliest
remembrance, he had been taught that blood and family and position were
all-important; that by virtue of them Remington was a name of which to
be proud; that his father’s foolish marriage with a pretty governess
was the first misalliance ever known in the family, and that he was not
likely to follow that example was a point fully established in his own
mind. He might admire Maddy very much, and, perhaps, build castles of
what might possibly have been, had she been in his sphere of life; but,
should he verily think of making her his wife, the olden pride would
certainly come up a barrier between them. Guy could not explain all this
to the doctor, who would have been tempted to knock him down, if he
had; but he succeeded in quieting his fears, and even suggested bringing
Maddy in there, if the doctor wished to know his fate that morning.

“I hear her now--I’ll call her,” he said; and, opening the door, he
spoke to Maddy, just passing through the hall. “Dr. Holbrook wishes to
see you,” he said, as Maddy came up to him; and, holding the door
for her to enter, he saw her take the seat he had just vacated. Then,
closing it upon them, he walked away, thinking that last night’s party,
or something, had produced a bad effect on him, making him blue and
wretched, just as he should suppose a criminal would feel when about to
be executed.



CHAPTER XVI. -- THE DOCTOR AND MADDY.


Now that they were alone, the doctor’s courage forsook him, and he could
only stammer out some commonplace remarks about the party, asking how
Maddy Lad enjoyed it, and if she was sure she had entirely recovered
from the effects of her fainting fit. He was not getting on at all, and
it was impossible for him to say anything as he had meant to say it. Why
couldn’t she help him, instead of looking so unsuspiciously at him with
those large, bright eyes? Didn’t she know how dear she was to him? He
should think she might. She might have divined it ere this; and if so,
why didn’t she blush, or something?

At last she came to his aid by saying, “You promised to tell me about
the bracelets and necklace, whether I ought to keep them.”

“Yes, oh yes, he believed he did.” And getting up from his chair, the
doctor began to walk the floor, the better to hide his confusion. “Yes,
the bracelets. You looked very pretty in them, Maddy, very; but you are
always pretty--ahem--yes. If you were engaged to Guy, I should say it
was proper; but if not, why, I don’t know; the fact is, Maddy, I am not
quite certain what I am saying, so you must excuse me. I almost hated
you that day you sent the note, telling me you were coming to be
examined; but I had not seen you then. I did not know how, after a
while--a very little while--I should in all probability--well, I did; I
changed my mind, and I--I guess you have not the slightest idea what I
mean.” And stopping suddenly, he confronted the astonished Maddy, who
replied:

“Not the slightest, unless you are going crazy.”

She could in no other way account for his strange conduct, and she sat
staring at him while he continued: “I told you once that when I wanted
my bill I’d let you know. I’d ask for pay. I want it now. I present my
bill.”

With a scared, miserable feeling, Maddy listened to him, wondering where
she should get the money, if it were possible for her grandfather to
raise it, and how much her entire wardrobe would bring, suppose she
should sell it! The bill had not troubled her latterly, for she had
fallen into a way of believing that the doctor would wait until she
was graduated and could earn it by teaching. Nothing could be more
inopportune than for him to present it now; and with a half-stifled sob
she began to speak, but he stopped her by a gesture, and sitting down
beside her, said, in a voice more natural than the one with which he had
at first addressed her:

“Maddy, I know you have no money. It is not that I want, Maddy; I
want--I want--you.”

He bent down over her now, for her face was hidden in her hands, all
sense of sight shut out, all sense of hearing, too, save the words he
was pouring into her ear--words which burned their way into her heart,
making It throb for a single moment with gratified pride, and then
growing heavy as lead as she knew how impossible it was for her to pay
the debt in the way which he desired.

“I can’t, doctor; oh, I can’t!” she sobbed. “I never dreamed of this;
never supposed you could want me for your wife. I’m only a little
girl--only sixteen last October--but I’m so sorry for you, who have been
so kind. If I only could love you as you deserve! I do love you, too;
but not the way you mean. I cannot be Maddy Holbrook; no; doctor, I
cannot.”

She was sobbing piteously, and in his concern for her the doctor forgot
somewhat the stunning blow he had received.

“Don’t, Maddy darling!” he said, drawing her trembling form closely to
him, “Don’t be so distressed. I did not much think you’d tell me yes,
and I was a fool to ask you. I am too old; but, Maddy, Guy is as old as
I am.”

The doctor did not know why he said this, unless in the first keenness
of his disappointment there was a satisfaction in telling her that the
objection to his age would apply also to Guy. But it did not affect
Maddy one whit, or give her the slightest inkling of his meaning. He
saw it did not, and the pain was less to bear. Still, he would know
certainly if he had a rival, and so he said to her:

“Do you love some one else, Maddy? Is another preferred before me, and
is that the reason why you cannot love me?”

“No,” Maddy answered, through her tears. “There is no one else. Whom
should I love, unless it were you? I know nobody but Guy.”

That name touched a sore, aching chord in the doctor’s heart, but he
gave no sign of the jealousy which had troubled him, and for a moment
there was silence in the room; then, as the doctor began faintly to
realize that Maddy had refused him, there awoke within him a more
intense desire to win her than he had ever felt before. He would not
give her up without another effort, and laying her unresisting head upon
his bosom, he pleaded again for her love, going over all the past, and
telling of the interest awakened when first she came to him that April
afternoon, almost two years ago; then of the little sick girl who had
grown so into the heart never before affected in the least by womankind,
and lastly of the beautiful woman, as he called her, sitting beside
him now in all the freshness of her young womanhood. And Maddy, as she
listened, felt for him a strange kind of pity, a wish to do his bidding
if she only could, and why shouldn’t she? Girls had married those whom
they did not love, and been tolerably happy with them, too. Perhaps she
could be so with the doctor. There was everything about him to respect,
and much which she could love. Should she try? There was a great lump in
Maddy’s throat as she tried to speak, but it cleared away and she said
very sadly, but very earnestly, too:

“Dr. Holbrook, would you like me to say yes with my lips, when all the
time there was something at my heart tugging to answer no?”

This was not at all what Maddy meant to say, but the words were born of
her extreme truthfulness, and the doctor thus learned the nature of the
struggle which he saw plainly was going on.

“No, Maddy, I would not have you say yes unless your heart was in it,”
 he answered, while he tried to smile upon the tearful face looking up so
sorrowfully at him.

But the smile was a forlorn one, and there came instead a tear as he
thought how dear was the fair creature who never would be his. Maddy saw
the tear, and as if she were a child wiped it from his cheek; then, in
tones which never faltered, she told him it might be in time she’d learn
to love him. She would try so hard, she’d think of him always as her
promised husband, and by that means should learn at last not to shrink
from taking him for such. It might be ever so long, and perhaps she
should be twenty or more, but some time in the future she should feel
differently. Was he satisfied, and would he wait?

Her little hand was resting on his shoulder, but he did not mind its
soft pressure or know that it was there, so strong was the temptation
to accept that half-made promise. But the doctor was too noble, to
unselfish to bind Maddy to himself unless she were wholly willing,
and he said to her that if she did not love him now she probably never
would. She could not make a love. She need not try, as it would only
result in her own unhappiness. They would be friends just as they always
had been, and none need know of what had passed between them, none but
Guy. “I must tell him” the doctor said, “because he knows that I was
going to ask you.”

Maddy could not explain why it was that she felt glad the doctor would
tell Guy. She did not analyze any of her feelings, or stop to ask why
she should care to have Guy Remington know the answer she had given Dr.
Holbrook. He was going to him now, she was sure, for he arose to leave
her, saying he might not see her again before she returned to New York.
She did not mention his bill. That was among the bygones, a thing never
again to be talked about, and offering him her hand, she looked for an
instant earnestly into his face, then without a word, hurried from the
room, while the doctor, with a sad, heavy heart, went in quest of Guy.

“Refused you, did you say?” and Guy’s face certainly looked brighter
than it had before since he left the doctor with Maddy Clyde.

“Yes, refused me, as I might have known she would,” was the doctor’s
reply, spoken so naturally that Guy looked up quickly to see if he
really did not care.

But the expression of the face belied the calmness of the voice;
and, touched with genuine pity, Guy asked the cause of the
refusal--“preference for any one else, or what?”

“No, there was no one whom she preferred. She merely did not like me
well enough to be my wife, that was all,” the doctor said, and then he
tried to talk of something else; but it would not do. The wound was yet
too fresh and sore to be covered up, and in spite of himself the bearded
chin quivered and the manly voice shook as he bade good-by to Guy, and
then went galloping down the avenue.

Great was the consternation among the doctor’s patients when it was
known that their pet physician--the one in whose skill they had so much
confidence--was going to Europe, where in Paris he could perfect himself
in his profession. Some cried, and among them Agnes; some said he
knew enough already; some tried to dissuade him from his purpose; some
wondered at the sudden start, while only two knew exactly why he was
going--Guy and Maddy; the former approving his decision and lending
his influence to make his tour abroad as pleasant as possible; and the
latter weeping bitterly as she thought how she had sent him away, and
that if aught befell him on the sea or in that distant land, she would
be held amenable. Once there came over her the wild impulse to bid him
stay, to say that she would be his wife; but, ere the rash act was done,
Guy came down to the cottage, and Maddy’s resolution gave way at once.

It would be difficult to tell the exact nature of Maddy’s liking for
Guy at that time. Had he offered himself to her she would probably have
refused him even more promptly than she did the doctor; for, to all
intents and purposes, he was, in her estimation, the husband of Lucy
Atherstone. As such, there was no harm in making him her paragon of all
male excellence; and Guy would have felt flattered, could he have known
how much he was in that young girl’s thoughts. But now for a few days he
had a rival, for Maddy’s thoughts were all given to the doctor, who came
down to see her once before starting for Europe. She did not cry while
he was there, but her voice was strange and hoarse as she gave him
messages for Lucy Atherstone; and all that day her face was white and
sad, as are the faces of those who come back from burying their dead.

Only once after the party did she go up to Aikenside, and then,
summoning all her fortitude, she gave back to Guy the bracelets and the
necklace, telling him she ought not to wear them; that ornaments as rich
as these were not for her; that her grandmother did not wish her to keep
them, and he must take them back. Guy saw she was in earnest, and much
against his will he received again the ornaments he had been so happy in
purchasing.

“They would do for Jessie when she was older,” Maddy said; but Guy
thought it very doubtful whether Jessie would ever have them. They were
something he had bought for Maddy, something she had worn, and as such
they were too sacred to be given to another. So he laid them away beside
the picture guarded so carefully from every one.

Two weeks afterward Aikenside presented again a desolate, shut-up
appearance, for Agnes, Maddy and Jessie had returned to New York; Agnes
to continue the siege which, in despair of winning the doctor, she
had commenced against a rich old bachelor, who had a house on Madison
Square; and Maddy to her books, which ere long obliterated, in a
measure, the bitter memory of all that had transpired during her winter
vacation.



CHAPTER XVII. -- WOMANHOOD.


Two years pass quickly, particularly at school, and to Maddy Clyde,
talking with her companions of the coming holidays, it seemed hardly
possible that two whole years were gone since the eventful vacation when
Dr. Holbrook had so startled her by offering her his hand. He was in
Europe still, and another name than his was on the little office in
Mrs. Conner’s yard. To Maddy he now wrote frequently; friendly, familiar
letters, such as a brother might write, never referring to the past,
but telling her whatever he thought would interest and please her.
Occasionally at first, and more frequently afterward, he spoke of
Margaret Atherstone, Lucy’s younger sister, a brilliant, beautiful girl
who reminded him, he said, of Maddy, only she was saucier, and more of
a tease; not at all like Lucy, whom he described as something perfectly
angelic. Her twenty-fifth birthday found her on a sickbed, with Dr.
Holbrook in attendance, and this was the reason given why the marriage
between herself and Guy was again deferred. There had been many weeks
of pain, succeeded by long, weary months of languor, and during all
this time the doctor had been with her as the family physician, while
Margaret also had been constantly in attendance. But Lucy was much
better now. She could sit up all day, and even walk a little distance,
assisted by the doctor and Margaret, whose name had become to be almost
as familiar to Maddy as was that of Lucy. And Maddy, in thinking of
Margaret, sometimes wondered “if----” but never went any farther than
that. Neither did she ask Guy a word about her, though she knew he must
have seen her. She not say much to him of Lucy, but she wondered why he
did not go for her, and wanted to talk with him about it but he was so
changed that she dared not. He was not sociable, as of old, and Agnes
did not hesitate to call him cross, while Jessie complained that he
never walked or played with her now, but sat all day long in a deep
reverie of some kind.

On this account Maddy did not look forward to the coming vacation as
joyfully as she would otherwise have done. Still it was, always pleasant
going home, and she sat talking with her young friends of all they
expected to do, when a servant entered the room and glancing over the
group of girls, singled Maddy out saying, as he placed an unsealed
envelope in her hand. “A telegram for Miss Clyde.”

There was a blur before Maddy’s eyes, so that at first she could not see
clearly, and Jessie, climbing on the bench beside her, read aloud:

“Your grandmother is dying. Come at once. Agnes and Jessie will stay
till next week.

                           “Guy Remington”

It was impossible to go that afternoon but with the earliest dawn she
was up, and unmindful of the snow falling so rapidly, started on the
sad journey home. It was the first genuine storm of the season, and it
seemed resolved on making amends for past neglect, sweeping in furious
gusts against the windows sifting down in thick masses from the leaden
sky, and so impeding the progress of the train that the chill wintery
night had closed gloomily in ere the Sommerville station was reached,
and Maddy, weary and dispirited, stepped out upon the platform, glancing
anxiously around for the usual omnibus, which she had little hope would
be there on such a night. If not, what should she do? This had been the
burden of her thoughts for the last few hours, for she could not expect
Guy to send out his horses in this fearful storm, much less to be there
himself. But Guy was there, and it was his voice which first greeted her
as she stood half blinded by the snow, uncertain what she must do next.

“Ah, Mr. Remington, I didn’t expect this. I am so glad, and how kind
it was of you to wait for me!” she exclaimed, her voice expressing her
delight, and amply repaying the young man, who had not been very patient
or happy through the six long hours of waiting he had endured.

But he was both happy and patient now with Maddy’s hand in his, and
pressing it very gently he led her into the ladies’ room; then making
her sit down before the fire he brushed her snowy garments himself,
and dashing a few flakes from her disordered hair, told her what she so
eagerly asked to know. Her grandmother had had a paralytic stroke, and
the only word she had uttered since was “Maddy.” Guy had not been down
himself, but had sent Mrs. Noah as soon as Farmer Green had brought the
news. She was there yet, he said, the storm having prevented her return.

“And grandma?” Maddy gasped, fixing her eyes wistfully upon him. “You do
not think her dead?”

No, Guy did not, and stooping he asked if he should not remove from the
dainty little feet resting on the stove hearth the overshoes, so full
of melting snow. Maddy cared little for her shoes, or herself just then.
She hardly knew that Guy was taking them off, much less that, as he bent
beside her, her hand lay lightly upon his shoulder as she continued her
questionings.

“She is not dead, you say; but do you think-does any-body think she’ll
die? Your telegram said ‘dying.’”

Maddy was not to be deceived, and thinking it best to be frank with her,
Guy told her that the physician, whom he had taken pains to see on his
way to the depot, had said there was no hope. Old age and an impaired
constitution precluded the possibility of recovery, but he trusted she
might live till the young lady came.

“She must--she will! Oh, grandma, why did I ever leave her?” and burying
her face in her hands. Maddy cried passionately, while the last three
years of her Life passed in rapid review before her mind--years which
she had spent in luxurious ease, leaving her grandmother to toil in the
humble cottage, and die at the last, it might be, without one parting
word for her.

The feeling that perhaps she had been guilty of neglect, was the
bitterest of all, and Maddy wept on, unmindful of Guy’s attempts to
soothe and quiet her. At last, as she heard a clock in the adjoining
room strike eight, she started up exclaiming “I have stayed too long. I
must go now. Is there any conveyance here?”

“But, Maddy,” Guy rejoined, “you cannot go to-night. The roads between
here and Honedale are one unbroken snow bank. It would take hours to
break through; besides you are too tired. You need rest, and must come
with me to Aikenside, where you are expected, for when I found how
late the train would be, I sent back word to have your room and parlors
warmed, and a nice hot supper to be ready for us. You’ll surely go with
me, if I think best.”

Guy’s manner was more like a lover than a friend, but Maddy was in no
state to remark it. She only felt an intense desire to go home, and
turning a deaf ear to all he could urge, replied: “You don’t know how
dear grandma is to me, or you would not ask me to stay. She’s all the
mother I ever knew, and I must go. Think, would you stay if the one you
loved best was dying?”

“But the one I love best is not dying, so I can reason clearly, Maddy.”

Here Guy checked himself, and listened while Maddy asked again if there
was no conveyance there as usual.

“None but mine,” said Guy, while Maddy continued faintly:

“And you are afraid it will kill your horses?”

“No, it would only fatigue them greatly; it’s for you I fear. You’ve
borne enough to-day.”

“Then, Mr. Remington, oh, please send me. I shall die at Aikenside. John
will drive me, I know. He used to like me. I’ll ask him,” and Maddy was
going in quest of the Aikenside coachman, when Guy held her back, and
said:

“John will go if I bid him. But you, Maddy, if I thought it was safe.”

“It is. Oh, let me go,” and Maddy grasped both his hands beseechingly.

If there was a man who could resist the eloquent appeal of Maddy’s eyes
at that moment, the man was not Guy Remington, and leaving her alone,
he sought out John, asking if it would be possible to get through to
Homedale that night.

John shook his head decidedly, but when Guy explained Maddy’s distress
and anxiety, the negro began to relent, particularly as he saw his young
master, too, was interested.

“It’ll kill them horses,” he said, “but mabby that’s nothin’ to please
the girl.”

“If we only had runners now, instead of wheels, John,” Guy said, after
a moment’s reflection. “Drive back to Aikenside as fast as possible, and
change the carriage for a covered sleigh. Leave the grays at home and
drive a pair of farm horses. They can endure more. Tell Flora to send
my traveling shawl. Miss Clyde may need it, and an extra buffalo, and a
bottle of wine, and my buckskin gloves, and take Tom on with you, and a
snow shovel; we may have to dig.”

“Yes, yes, I know,” and tying his muffler about his throat, John started
off through the storm, his mind a confused medley of ideas, the main
points of which were, bottles of wine, snow shovels, and the fact that
his master was either crazy or in love.

Meanwhile, with the prospect of going home, Maddy had grown quiet, and
did not refuse the temporary supper of buttered toast, muffins, steak
and hot coffee, which Guy ordered from the small hotel just in the
rear of the depot. Tired, nervous, and almost helpless, she allowed Guy
himself to prepare her coffee, taking it from his hand and drinking
it at his bidding as obediently as a child. There was a feeling of
delicious rest in being cared for thus, and but for the dying one at
Honedale she would have enjoyed it vastly. As it was, though, she never
for a moment forgot her grandmother. She did forget, in a measure, her
anxiety, and was able to think how kind, how exceedingly kind Guy was.
He was like what he used to be, she thought, only kinder, and thinking
it was because she was in trouble, she accepted all his little
attentions willingly, feeling how pleasant it was to have him there,
and thinking once with a half shudder of the long, cold ride before her,
when Guy would no longer be present, and also of the dreary home where
death might possibly be a guest ere she could reach it.

It was after nine ere John appeared, his crisp wool powdered with snow
which clung to his outer garments, and literally covered his dark, cloth
cap.

“‘Twas mighty deep,” he said, bowing to Maddy, “and the wind was getting
colder. ‘Twas a hard time Miss Clyde would have, and hadn’t she better
wait?”

No, Maddy could not wait, and standing up she suffered Guy to wrap her
cloak about her, and fasten more securely the long, warm scarf she wore
around her neck.

“Drive close to the platform,” he said to John, and the covered sleigh
was soon brought to the point designated. “Now then, Maddy, I won’t
let you run the risk of covering your feet with snow. I shall carry you
myself,” Guy said, and ere Maddy was fully aware of his intentions, he
had her in his arms, and was bearing her to the sleigh.

Very carefully he drew the soft, warm robe about her, shielding her as
well as he could from the cold; then pulling his own fur collar about
his ears, he sprang in beside her, and, closing the door behind him,
bade John drive on.

“But, Mr. Remington,” Maddy exclaimed in much surprise, “surely you are
not going too? You must not. It is asking too much. It is more than I
expected. Please don’t go.” “Would you rather I should not--that is,
aside from any inconvenience it may be to me--would you rather go
alone?” Guy asked, and Maddy replied:

“Oh, no. I was dreading the long ride, but did not dream of your going.
You will shorten it so much.” “Then I shall be paid for going,” was
Guy’s response, as he drew still more closely around her the fancy
buffalo robe.

The roads, though badly drifted in some places, were not as bad as Guy
had feared, and the strong horses kept steadily on; while Maddy, growing
more and more fatigued, at last fell away to sleep, and ceased to answer
Guy, For a time he watched her drooping head, and then carefully drawing
it to him, made it rest upon his shoulder, while he wound his arm
around her slight figure, and so supported her. He knew she was sleeping
quietly, by her gentle breathings; and once or twice he involuntarily
passed his hand caressingly over her soft, round cheek, feeling the
blood tingle to his finger tips as he thought of his position there,
with Maddy Clyde sleeping in his arms. What would Lucy say, could she
see him? And the doctor, with his strict ideas of right and wrong, would
he object? Guy did not know, and, with his usual independence, he
did not care. At least, he said to himself he did not care; and so,
banishing both the doctor and Lucy from his mind, he abandoned himself
to the happiness of the moment--a singular land of happiness, inasmuch
as it merely consisted in the fact that Maddy Clyde’s young head was
pillowed on his bosom, and that, by bending down, he could feel her
sweet breath on his face. Occasionally there flitted across Guy’s mind
a vague, uneasy consciousness that though the act was, under the
circumstances, well enough, the feelings which prompted it were not such
as either the doctor or Lucy would approve. But they were far away; they
would never know unless he told them, as he probably should, of this
ride on that wintry night; this ride, which seemed to him so short
that he scarcely believed his senses when, without once having been
overturned or called upon to use the shovels so thoughtfully provided,
the carriage suddenly came to a halt, and he knew by the dim light
shining through the low window that the red cottage was reached.

Grandma Markham was dying, but she knew Maddy, and the palsied lips
worked painfully as they attempted to utter the loved name; while her
wasted face lighted up with eager joy as Maddy’s arms were twined about
her neck, and she felt Maddy’s kisses on her cheek and brow. Could she
not speak? Would she never speak again, Maddy asked despairingly, and
her grandfather replied: “Never, most likely. The only thing she’s said
since the shock was to call your name; She’s missed you despatly this
winter back, more than ever before, I think. So have we all, but we
would not send for you--Mr. Guy said you was learning so fast.” “Oh,
grandpa, why didn’t you? I would have come so willingly,” and for
an instant Maddy’s eyes flashed reproachfully upon the recreant Guy,
standing aloof from the little group gathered about the bed, his arms
folded together, and a moody look upon his face.

He was thinking of what had not yet entered Maddy’s mind, thinking of
the future--Maddy’s future, when the aged form upon the bed should be
gone, and the two comparatively helpless men be left alone.

“But it shall not be. The sacrifice is far too great. I can prevent it,
and I will,” he muttered to himself, as he turned to watch the gray dawn
breaking in the east. Guy was a puzzle to himself. He would not admit
that during the past year his liking for Maddy Clyde had grown to be
something stronger than mere friendship, nor yet that his feelings
toward Lucy had undergone a change, prompting him not to go to her when
she was sick, and not to be as sorry as he ought that the marriage was
again deferred. Lucy had no suspicion of the change and her childlike
trust in him was the anchor which held him still true to her in
intentions at least, if not in reality. He knew from her letters how
much she had learned to like Maddy Clyde, and so, he argued, there was
no harm in his liking her too. She was a splendid girl, and it seemed a
pity that her lot should have been so humbly cast. This was usually the
drift of his thoughts in connection with her; and now, as he stood
there its that cottage, Maddy’s home, they recurred to him with tenfold
intensity, for well he foresaw that a struggle was before him if he
rescued Maddy as he meant to do from her approaching fate.

No such thoughts, however, intruded themselves on Maddy’s mind. She did
not look away from the present, except it were at the past, in which she
feared she had erred by leaving her grandmother too much alone. But to
her passionate appeals for forgiveness, if she ever had neglected the
dying one, there came back only loving looks and mute caresses, the aged
hand smoothing lovingly the bowed head, or pressing fondly the girlish
cheeks where Guy’s hand had been. With the coming of daylight, however,
there was a change; and Maddy, listening intently, heard what sounded
like her name. The tied tongue was loosed for a little, and in tones
scarcely articulate, the disciple who for long years had served her
Heavenly Father faithfully, bore testimony to the blessed truth that
God’s promises to those who love Him are not mere promises--that He will
go with them through the river of death, disarming the fainting soul
of every fear, and making the dying bed the very gate of heaven. This
tribute to the Savior was her first thought, while the second was a
blessing for her darling, a charge to seek the narrow way now in life’s
early morning. Disjointed sentences they were, but Maddy understood them
all, treasuring up every word even to the last, the words the farther
apart and most painfully uttered, “You--will--care--and--comfort----”
 She did not say whom, but Maddy knew whom she meant; and without then
realizing the magnitude of the act, virtually accepted the burden from
which Guy was so anxious to save her.



CHAPTER XVIII. -- THE BURDEN.


Grandma Markham was dead, and the covered sleigh, which late in the
afternoon plowed its way heavily back to Aikenside, carried only Mrs.
Noah, who, with her forehead tied up in knots, sat back among the
cushions, thinking not of the peaceful dead, gone forever to the rest
which remains for the people of God, but of the wayward Guy, who had
resisted all her efforts to persuade him to return with her, instead of
staying where he was, not needed, and where his presence was a restraint
to all save one, and that one Maddy, for whose sake he stayed.

“She’d be vummed,” the indignant old lady said, “if she would not write
to Lucy herself if Guy did not quit such doin’s,” and thus resolving
she kept on her way, while the subject of her wrath was, it may be, more
than half repenting of his decision to stay, inasmuch as he began to
have an unpleasant consciousness of himself being in everybody’s way.

In the first hour of Maddy’s bereavement he had not spoken with her,
but had kept himself aloof from the room where, with her grandfather and
Uncle Joseph, she sat, holding the poor aching head of the latter in her
lap and trying to speak a word of consolation to the old, broken-hearted
man, whose hand was grasped in hers. But Maddy knew he was there. She
could hear his voice each time he spoke to Mrs. Noah, and that made the
desolation easier to bear. She did not look forward to the time when he
would be gone; and when at last he told her he was going, she started
quickly, and with a gush of tears, exclaimed: “No, no! oh, no!”

“Maddy,” Guy whispered, bending over the strange trio, “would you rather
I should stay? Will it be pleasanter for you, if I do?”

“Yes--I don’t know. I guess it would not be so lonely. Oh, it’s terrible
to have grandmother dead!” was Maddy’s response; after which Guy would
have stayed if a whole regiment of Mrs. Noah’s had confronted him
instead of one.

Maddy wished it; that was reason enough for him; and giving a few
directions to John, he stayed, thereby disconcerting the neighboring
women who came in to perform the last offices for the dead, and who
wished the young man from Aikenside was anywhere but there, watching
them in all their movements, as they vainly fancied he did. But Guy
thought only of Maddy, watching her so carefully that more than one
meaning glance was exchanged between the women, who, even over the
inanimate form of the dead, spoke together of what might possibly occur,
wondering what would be the effect on Grandpa Markham and Uncle Joseph.
Who would take care of them? And then, in case Maddy should feel it her
duty to stay there, as they half hoped she would, they fell to pitying
the young girl, who seemed now so wholly unfitted for the burden.

To Maddy there came no definite idea of the future during the two days
that white, rigid form lay in the darkened cottage; but when, at last,
the deep grave made for Grandma Markham was occupied, and the lounge in
the little front room was empty--when the Aikenside carriage, which had
been sent down for the use of the mourners, had been driven away, taking
both Guy and Mrs. Noah--when the neighbors, too, had gone, leaving only
herself and the little hired girl sitting by the evening fire, with the
grandfather and the imbecile Uncle Joseph--then it was that she first
began to fed the pressure of the burden--began to ask herself if she
could live thus always, or at least for many years--as long as either of
the two helpless men were spared. Maddy was young, and the world as
she had seen it was very bright and fair, brighter far than a life of
laborious toil, and for a while the idea that the latter alternative
must be accepted made her dizzy and faint.

As if divining her thoughts, poor old grandpa, in his prayers that
night, asked in trembling tones, which showed how much he felt what he
was saying, that God would guide his darling in all she did, and give
her wisdom to make the proper decision; that if it were best she might
be happy there with them, but if not, “Oh, Father, Father!” he sobbed,
“help me and Joseph to bear it.” He could pray no more aloud, and the
gray head remained bowed down upon his chair, while Uncle Joseph, in his
peculiar way, took up the theme, begging like a very child that Maddy
might be inclined to stay--that no young men with curling hair, a
diamond cross, and smell of musk, might be permitted to come near her
with enticing looks, but that she might stay as she was and die an old
maid forever! This was the subject of Uncle Joseph’s prayer, a prayer
which set the little hired girl to tittering, and would have wrung
a smile from Maddy herself had she not felt all the strange petition
implied.

With waywardness natural to people in his condition, Uncle Joseph that
night turned to Maddy for the little services his sister had formerly
rendered, and which, since her illness, Grandpa Markham had done, and
would willingly do still. But Joseph refused to let him. Maddy must
untie his cravat, unbutton his vest, and take off his shoes, while,
after he was in bed, Maddy must sit by his side, holding his hand until
he fell away to sleep. And Maddy did it cheerfully, soothing him
into quiet, and keeping back her own choking sorrow for the sake
of comforting him. Then, when this task was done she sought her
grandfather, still sitting before the kitchen fire and evidently waiting
for her. The little hired girl had retired, and thus there was no
barrier to free conversation between them.

“Maddy,” the old man said, “come sit close by me, where I can look into
your face, while we talk over what must be done.”

With a half shudder, Maddy drew a stool to her grandfather’s feet, and
resting her head upon his knee, listened while he talked to her of
the future; told her all her grandmother had done; told of his own
helplessness; of the trial it was to care for Uncle Joseph, and then in
faltering tones asked who was going to look after them now. “We can’t
live here alone, Maddy. We can’t. We’re old and weak, and want some one
to lean on. Oh, why didn’t God take us with her, Joseph and me, and that
would leave you free, to go back to the school and the life which I know
is pleasanter than to stay here with us. Oh, Maddy! it comforts me to
look at you--to hear your voice, to know that though I don’t see you
every minute, you are somewhere, and by and by you’ll come in. I shan’t
live long, and maybe Joseph won’t. God’s promise is to them who honor
father and mother. It’ll be hard for you to stay, harder than it was
once; but, Maddy, oh, Maddy! stay with me, stay with me!--stay with your
old grandpa!”

In his earnestness he grasped her arm, as if he thus would hold her,
while the tears rained over his wrinkled face. For a moment Maddy made
no response. She had no intention of leaving him, but the burden was
pressing heavily and her tongue refused to move. Maddy was then a
stranger to the religion which was sustaining her grandfather in his
great trouble, but the teachings of her childhood had not been in vain.
She was God’s covenant child. His protecting presence was over and
around her, moving her to the right. New York, with its gay sights,
her school, where in another year she was to graduate, the trip to
the Catskills which Guy had promised Mrs. Agnes, Jessie and herself,
Aikenside with its luxurious ease--all these must be given up, while,
worse than all the rest, Guy, too, must be given up. He would not come
there often; the place was not to his taste, and in time he would cease
to care for her as he cared for her now. “Oh, that would be dreadful!”
 she groaned aloud, while here thoughts went backward to that night ride
in the snowstorm, and the numberless attentions he had paid her then.
She would never ride with him again--never; and Maddy moaned bitterly,
as she began to realize for the first time how much she liked Guy
Remington, and how the giving him up and his society was the hardest
part of all. But Maddy had a brave young heart, and at last, winding
her arms around her grandfather’s neck, she whispered: “I will not leave
you, grandpa. I’ll stay in grandmother’s place.”

Surely Heaven would answer the blessings whispered over Maddy by the
delighted old man, and the young girl taking so cheerfully the burden
from which many would have shrunk, should be blessed by God.

With her grandfather’s hand upon her head, Maddy could almost feel that
the blessing was descending; but when, in her own room, the one where
she had lain sick for so many weary weeks, her courage began to give
way, and the burden, magnified tenfold by her nervous weakness, looked
heavier than she could bear. How could she stay there, going through
each day with the same routine of literal drudgery--drudgery which would
not end until the two for whom she made the sacrifice were dead.

“Oh, is there no way of escape, no help?” she moaned, as she tossed from
side to side, “Must my life be wasted here. Surely---”

Maddy did not finish the sentence, for something checked the words of
repining, and she seemed to hear again her grandfather’s voice as it
repeated the promise to those who keep with their whole souls the fifth
commandment.

“I will, I will,” she cried, while into her heart there crept an intense
longing for the love of him who alone could make her task a light one.
“If I were good like grandma, I could bear everything,” she thought, and
turning upon her pillow, Maddy prayed an earnest, childlike prayer,
that God would help her do night, that He would take from her the proud
spirit which rebelled against her lot because of its loneliness, that
pride and love of her own ease and advancement in preference to others’
good might all be subdued; in short that she might be God’s child,
walking where He appointed her to walk without a murmur, and doing
cheerfully His will.

Aikenside, and school, and the Catskill Mountains were easier to abandon
after that contrite prayer; but when she thought of Guy, the fiercest,
sharpest pang she had ever felt shot through her heart, making her cry
out so quickly that the little hired girl who shared her bed moved as if
about to waken, but Maddy lay very quiet until all was still again, when
turning a second time to God she tried to pray, tried to give up what to
her was the dearest idol, but she could not say the words, and ere she
knew what she was doing she found herself asking that Guy should not
forsake her. “Let him come,” she sobbed, “let Guy come some time to see
me”.

Once the tempter whispered to her, that had she accepted Dr. Holbrook
she would have been spared all this, but Maddy turned a deaf ear to that
suggestion. Dr. Holbrook was too noble a man to have an unloving wife,
and not for a moment did she repent of her decision with regard to him.
She almost knew he would say now that she was right in refusing him, and
right in staying there, as she must. Thoughts of the doctor quieted her,
she believed, not knowing that Heaven was already owning its submissive
child, and breathing upon it a soothing benediction. The moan of the
winter wind and the sound of the snow beating against her little window
ceased to annoy her. Heaven, happiness, Aikenside and Guy, all seem
blended into one great good just within her reach, and when the long
clock below the stairs struck three, she did not hear it, but with the
tear stains upon her face she lay nestled among her pillows, dreaming
that her grandmother had come back from the bright world of glory to
bless her darling child.

It was broad noon ere Maddy awoke, and starting up she looked about her
in bewilderment, wondering where she was and what agency had been at
work in her room, transforming it from the cold, comfortless apartment
she had entered the previous night into the cheery-looking chamber, with
a warm fire blazing in the tiny fireplace, a rug spread down upon the
hearth, a rocking-chair drawn up before it, and all traces of the little
hired girl as completely obliterated as if she had never been. In her
grief Maddy seemed to have forgotten how to make things cozy, and as,
during her grandmother’s illness, her own room had been left to the care
of the hired girl, Nettie, it wore a neglected, rude aspect, which had
grated on Maddy’s finer feelings, and made everything so uninviting.
But this morning all was changed. Some skillful hand had been busy there
while she slept, and Maddy was wondering who it could be, when the door
opened cautiously and Flora’s good-humored face looked in--Flora from
Aikenside. Maddy knew now to whom she was indebted for all this comfort,
and with a cry of joy she welcomed the girl, whose very presence brought
back something of the life with which she had parted forever.

“Flora,” she exclaimed, “how came you here, and did you make this fire
and fix the room for me?”

“Yes, I made the fire,” Flora replied, “and fixed up the things a
little, hustlin’ that young one’s goods out of here; because it was not
fittin’ for you to be sleepin’ with her. Mr. Guy was mad enough when he
found it out.”

“Mr. Guy, Flora? How should he know of our sleeping ‘rrangements?” Maddy
asked, but Flora evaded a direct reply, saying, “there was enough ways
for things to get to Aikenside;” then continuing, “How tired you must
be, Miss Maddy, to sleep so sound as never to hear me at all, though to
be sure I tried to be still as a mouse. But let me help you dress.
It’s all but noon, and you must be hungry. I’ve got your breakfast all
ready.”

“Thank you, Flora, I can dress myself,” Maddy said, stepping out upon
the floor, and feeling that the world was not as dark as it had seemed
to her when last night she came up to her chamber.

God was comforting her already, and as she made her simple toilet, she
tried to thank Him for His goodness, and ask for grace to make her what
she ought to be.

“You have not yet told me why you came here,” she said to Flora, who was
busy making her bed, and who replied: “It’s Mr. Guy’s work. He thought
I’d better come, as you would need help to get things set to rights, to
could go back to school.”

Maddy felt her heart coming up in her throat, but she answered calmly,
“Mr. Guy is very kind--so are you all; but, Flora, I am not going back
to school.” “Not going back!” and Flora stopped her bed-making, while
she stared blankly at Maddy. “What be you going to do?” “Stay here and
take care of grandpa,” Maddy said, bathing her face and neck in the cold
water, which could not cool the feverish heat she felt spreading all
over them. “Stay here! You are crazy, Miss Maddy! ‘Tain’t no place for
a girl like you, and Mr. Guy never will suffer it, I know,” Flora
rejoined, as she resumed her work, thinking she “should die to be moped
up in that nutshell of a house.” With a little sigh as she foresaw the
opposition she should probably meet with from Guy, Maddy went on with
her toilet, which was soon completed, as it did not take long to arrange
the dark calico dress and plain linen collar which she wore. She was not
as fresh-looking as usual that morning, for excitement and fatigue had
lent a paleness to her cheek, and a languor to her whole appearance,
but Flora, who glanced anxiously after her as she went out, muttered to
herself, “She was never more beautiful, and I don’t wonder an atom that
Mr. Guy thinks so much of her.” The kitchen was in perfect order, for
Flora had been busy there as elsewhere. The kettle was boiling on the
stove, while two or three little covered dishes were ranged upon the
hearth, as if waiting for some one. Grandpa Markham had gone out, but
Uncle Joseph sat in his accustomed corner, rubbing his hands when he saw
Maddy, and nodding mysteriously toward the front room, the door of which
was open, so that Maddy could hear the fire crackling on the hearth.

“Go in, go in,” Uncle Joseph said, waving his hand in that direction.
“My Lord Governor is in there waiting for you. He won’t let me spit on
the floor any more as Martha did, and I’ve swallowed so much that I’m
almost choked.”

Continual spitting was one of Uncle Joseph’s worst habits, and as his
sister had indulged him in it, it had become a source of great annoyance
both to Maddy, and to some one else of whose proximity Maddy did not
dream. Thinking that Uncle Joseph referred to her grandfather, and
feeling glad that the latter had attempted a reform, she entered the
room known at the cottage as the parlor, the one where the rag carpet
was, the six cane-seated chairs and the Boston rocker, and where now the
little round table was nicely laid for two, while cozily seated in the
rocking-chair, reading last night’s paper, and looking very handsome and
happy, was Guy!

When Maddy prayed that he might come and see her she did not expect an
answer so soon, and she started back in much surprise, while Guy came
easily forward to greet her, asking how she was, once telling her she
looked tired and thin, then making her take the chair he had vacated, he
stood over her, smoothing her hair, while he continued:

“I have taken some liberties, you see, and have made myself quite at
home. I knew how unaccustomed you were to the duties of a house, and
as I saw that girl was wholly incompetent, I denied myself at least two
hours’ sleep this morning for the sake of getting here early, bringing
Flora with me and a few things which I thought would be for your
comfort. You must excuse me, but Flora looked so cold when she came down
from your chamber, where I sent her to see how you were, that with your
grandfather’s permission I ordered a fire to be kindled there. I hope
you found it comfortable. This house is very cold.”

He kept talking on, and Maddy in a delicious kind of bewilderment
listened to him, wondering if ever before there was a person so kind
and good as Guy. And really Guy was doing great violence to his pride by
being there as he was, but he could do anything for Maddy, and so he
had forced down his pride, trying for her sake to make the cottage as
pleasant as possible. With Flora to assist he had succeeded wonderfully,
and was really enjoying it himself. At first Maddy could not thank him,
her heart was so full, but Guy was satisfied with the expression of her
face, and calling Flora he bade her serve the breakfast.

“You know my habits,” he said, smilingly, as he took a seat at the
table, “and breakfasting at daylight, as I did, has given me an
appetite; so, with your permission, I’ll carve this nice bit of steak
for you, while you pour me a cup of coffee, some of Mrs. Noah’s
best. She”--Guy was going to say, “sent it,” but as no stretch of the
imagination could construe her “calling him a fool” into sending Maddy
coffee, he added instead, “I brought it from Aikenside, together with
this strawberry jelly, of which I remember you were fond;” and he helped
Maddy lavishly from the fanciful jelly jar which yesterday was adorning
the sweetmeat closet at Aikenside.

How chatty and social he was, trying to cheer Maddy up and make her
forget that such a thing as death had so lately found entrance there;
talking of Jessie, of Aikenside, of the pleasant little time they would
have during the vacation, and of the next term at school, when Maddy,
as one of the graduating class, would not be kept in as strictly as
heretofore, but allowed to see more of the city. Maddy felt as if she
should die for the pain tugging at her heart, while she listened to him
and knew that the pictures he was drawing were not for her. Her place
was there; and after the breakfast was over and Flora had cleared the
dishes away, she shut the door, so that they might be alone, and then
standing before Guy, she told him of her resolution, begging of him to
help her and not make it harder to bear by devising means for her
to escape what she felt to be an imperative duty. Guy had expected
something like this and was prepared, as he thought, to combat all her
arguments; so when she had finished, he replied that of course he did
not wish to interfere with her duty, but there might be a question as
to what really was her duty, and it seemed to him he was better able
to judge of that than herself. It was not right for her to bury herself
there while her education was unfinished, when another could do as well.
Her superior talents were given to her to improve, and how could she
improve them in Honedale; besides her grandfather did not expect her to
stay. Guy had talked with him while she was asleep, and the matter was
all arranged; a competent woman was to be hired to take charge of
the domestic arrangements, and if it seemed desirable, two should be
procured; anything to leave Maddy free.

“And grandpa consented to this willingly?” Maddy said, feeling a throb
of pleasure at thoughts of release. But Guy could not answer that the
grandfather consented willingly.

“He thinks it best. When he comes back you can ask him yourself,” he
said, just as Uncle Joseph, opening the door, brought their interview to
a close by asking very meekly, “if it would please the Lord Governor to
let him spit!”

The blood rushed at once to Maddy’s face, and she not repress a smile,
white Guy laughed aloud, saying to her softly: “For your sake, I tried
my skill to stop what I knew must annoy you. Pardon me if I did wrong;”
 then turning to Uncle Joseph, he gave the desired permission, together
with the promise of a handsome spittoon, which should be sent down on
the morrow. With a bow Uncle Joseph turned away, muttering to himself,
“High doings now Martha’s gone; but new lords, new laws. I trust he’s
not going to live here;” and slyly he asked Flora if the Lord Governor
had brought his things!

At this point Grandpa Markham came in, and to him Guy appealed at once
to know if he were not willing for Maddy to return to school.

“I said she might if she thought best,” was the reply, spoken so sadly
that Maddy’s arms were at once twined around the old man’s neck, while
she said to him:

“Tell me honestly which you prefer. I’d like so much to go to school,
but I am not sure I should be happy there, knowing how lonely you were
here at home. Say, grandpa, which would you rather now, honor bright?”
 and Maddy tried to speak playfully, though her heart-beats were almost
audible as she waited for the answer.

Grandpa could not deceive. He wanted his darling sorely, and he wanted
her to be happy, he said. Perhaps they would get on just as well without
her. When Mr. Guy was talking it looked as if they might, he made it all
so plain, but the sight of Maddy was a comfort. She was all he had left.
Maybe he shouldn’t live long to pester her, and if he didn’t wouldn’t
she always feel better for having stayed with her old grandpa to the
last?

He looked very pale and thin, and his hair was white as snow. He could
not live many years, and turning resolutely from Guy, who, so long as he
held her eye, controlled her, Maddy said:

“I’ve chosen once for all. I’ll stay with grandpa till he dies,” and
with a convulsive sob she clung tightly to his neck, as if fearful that
without such told on him her resolution would give way.

It was in vain that Guy strove to change Maddy’s resolution. She was
wholly decided, and late in the afternoon he rode back to Aikenside, a
disappointed man, with, however, the feeling that Maddy had done right,
and that he respected her all the more for withstanding the temptation.



CHAPTER XIX. -- LIFE AT THE COTTAGE.


It was arranged that Flora should for the present at least remain at the
cottage, and Maddy accepted the kindness gratefully. She had become so
much accustomed to being cared for by Guy that she almost looked upon it
as a matter of course, and did not think of what others might possibly
say, but when, in as delicate a manner as possible Guy suggested
furnishing the cottage in better style, even proposing to modernize
it entirely in the spring, Maddy objected at once. “They were already
indebted to him for more than they could ever pay,” she said, and she
would not suffer it. So Guy submitted, though it grated upon his sense
of the beautiful and refined terribly, to see Maddy amid so humble
surroundings. Twice a week, and sometimes oftener, he rode down to
Honedale, and Maddy felt that without these visits life would hardly
have been endurable.

During the vacation Jessie spent a part of the time with her, but Agnes
resolutely resisted all Guy’s entreaties that she would at least call
once on Maddy, who had expressed a wish to see her, and who, on account
of her grandfather’s health, and the childishness with which Uncle
Joseph clung to her, could not well come up to Aikenside. Agnes would
not go down, neither would she give other reason for her obstinacy than
the apparently foolish one that she did not wish to see the crazy man.
Still she did not object to Jessie’s going as often as she liked, and
she sent by her many little delicacies from the larder at Aikenside,
some for grandpa, but most for Uncle Joseph, who prized highly
everything coming from “the madam,” and sent back to her more than one
strangely worded message which made the proud woman’s eyes overflow when
sure that no one could see her. But this kind of intercourse came to an
end at last. The vacation was over, Jessie had gone back to school, and
Maddy began in sober earnest the new life before her. Flora, it is
true, relieved her of all household drudgery, but no one could share the
burden of care and anxiety pressing so heavily upon her, anxiety for her
grandfather, whose health seemed failing so fast, and who always looked
so disturbed if a shadow were resting on her bright face, or her voice
were less cheerful in its tone, and care for the imbecile Joseph, who
clung to her as a puny child clings to its mother, refusing to be cared
for by any one else, and often requiring of her more than her strength
could endure for a great length of time. She it was who gave him his
breakfast in the morning, amused him through the day, and then, after he
was in bed at night, often sat by his side till a late hour, singing
to him old songs, or telling Bible stories until he fell away to sleep.
Then if he awoke, as he frequently did, there was a cry for Maddy, and
the soothing process had to be repeated, until the tired, pale watcher
ceased to wonder that her grandmother had died so suddenly, wondering
rather that she had lived so long and borne so much.

Those were dark, wearisome days to Maddy, and the long, cold winter
was gone from the New England hills, and the early buds of spring were
coming up by the cottage door, the neighbors began to talk of the change
which had come over the young girl, once so full of life and health,
but now so languid and pale. Still Maddy was not unhappy, nor was the
discipline too severe, for by it she learned at last the great object of
life; learned to take her troubles and cares to One who helped her bear
them so cheerfully, that those who pitied her most never dreamed how
heavy was her burden, so patiently and sweetly she bore it. Occasionally
there came to her letters from the doctor, but latterly they gave
her less pleasure than pain, for as sure as she read one of his kind,
friendly messages of sympathy and remembrance, the tempter whispered to
her that though she did not love him as she ought to love her husband,
yet a life with him was far preferable to the life she was living, and
a receipt of his letters always gave her a pang which lasted until Guy
came down to see her, when it usually disappeared. Agnes was now at
Aikenside, and thus Maddy frequently had Jessie at the cottage, but
Agnes never came, and Maddy little guessed how often the proud woman
cried herself to sleep after listening to Jessie’s recital of all Maddy
had to do for the crazy man, and how patiently she did it. He had taken
a fancy that Maddy must tell him stories of Sarah, describing her as she
was now, not as she used to be when he knew her, but now. “What is she
now? How does she look? What does she wear? Tell me, tell me!” he would
plead, until Maddy, forced to tell him something, and having distinctly
in her mind but one fashionable woman such as she fancied Sarah might
be, told him of Agnes Remington, describing her as she was in her mature
beauty, with her heavy flowing curls, her brilliant color, her flashing
diamonds and costly laces, and Uncle Joseph, listening to her with
parted lips and hushed breath, would whisper softly, “Yes, that’s Sarah,
beautiful Sarah; but tell me--does she ever think of me, or of that time
in Hie orchard when I wove the apple blossoms in her hair, where the
diamonds are now? She loved me then; she told me so. Does she know how
sick, and sorry, and foolish I am?--how the aching in my poor, simple
brain is all for her, and how you, Maddy, are doing for me what it is
her place to do? Had I a voice,” and the crazy man now grew excited, as,
raising himself in bed, he gesticulated wildly, “had I a voice to reach
her, I’d cry shame on her, to let you do her work, let you-wear your
young life and fresh, bright beauty all away for me, whom she ruined.”

The voice he craved, or the echo of it, did reach her, for Jessie had
been present when the fancy first seized him to hear of Sarah, and in
the shadowy twilight she told her mother all, dwelling most upon the
touching sadness of his face when he said, “Does she know how sick and
sorry I am?”

The pillow which Agnes pressed that night was wet with tears, while in
her heart was planted a germ of gratitude and respect for the young girl
doing her work for her. All that she could do for Maddy without going
directly to her, she did, devising many articles of comfort, sending her
fruit and flowers, the last new book, or whatever else she thought
might please her, and always finding a willing messenger in Guy. He was
miserable, and managed when at home to make others so around him. The
sight of Maddy bearing her burden so uncomplainingly almost maddened
him. Had she fretted or complained could bear it better, he said, but he
did not see the necessity for her to lose all her spirit or interest in
everything and everybody. Once when he hinted as much to Maddy, he had
been awed into silence by the subdued expression of her face as she
told him in part what it was which helped her to bear and made the
rough places so smooth. He had seen something like this in Lucy, when
paroxysms of pain were racking her delicate frame, but he could
not understand it; he only knew it was something he could not
touch--something against which his arguments beat helplessly, and so,
with an added respect for Maddy Clyde, he smothered his impatience, and
determining to help her all he could, rode down to Honedale every day,
instead of twice a week, as he had done before.

Attentions so marked could not fail to be commented upon; and while
poor, unsuspecting Maddy was deriving so much comfort from his daily
visits, deeming that day very long which did not bring him to her, the
Honedale gossips, of which there were many, were busy with her affairs,
talking them over at their numerous tea-drinkings, discussing them
in the streets, and finally at a quilting, where they met in solemn
conclave, deciding, that, “for a girl like Maddy Clyde it did not look
well to have so much to do with that young Remington, who, everybody
knew, was engaged to a somebody in England.”

“Yes, and would have been married long ago, if it wasn’t for this
foolin’ with Maddy,” chimed in Mrs. Joel Spike, throwing the chalk
across the quilt to her sister, Tripheny Marvel, who wondered if Maddy
thought he’d ever have her.

“Of course he wouldn’t. He knew what he was about. He was not green
enough to marry Grandpa Markham’s daughter; and if she didn’t look out,
she’d get herself into a pretty scrape. It didn’t look well, anyhow, for
her to be putting on airs, as she had done ever since big folks took her
up, and she guessed she wouldn’t be beholden to nobody for her larnin’.”

All this and much more was discussed, and by the time the patchwork
thing was done, there remained but little to be said either for or
against Guy Remington and Maddy Clyde which had not been said by either
friend or foe.

Among the invited guests at that quilting was the wife of Farmer Green,
Maddy’s warmest friend in Honedale, and the one who did her best to
defend her against the attacks of those whose remarks she well knew were
caused more by envy than any personal dislike to Maddy, who used to
be so much of a pet until her superior advantages separated her in a
measure from them. Good Mrs. Green was sorely tried. Without in the
least blaming Maddy, she, too, had been troubled at the frequency of
Guy’s Visits to the cottage. It was not friendship alone which took him
there, she was sure; and knowing that he was engaged, she feared for
Maddy’s happiness at first, and afterward, when people began to talk,
she feared for her good name. Something must be done, and though she
dreaded it greatly, she was the one to do it. Accordingly, next day
she started for the cottage, which Guy had just left, and this, in her
opinion, accounted for the bright color in Maddy’s cheek and the
sparkle in her eye. Guy had been there, bringing and leaving a world of
sunshine, but, alas, his chances for coming ever again as he had done
were fearfully small, when, at the close of Mrs. Green’s well-meant
visit, Maddy lay on her bed, her white, frightened face buried in the
pillows, and herself half wishing she had died before the last hour had
come, with the terrible awakening it had brought; awakening to the
fact that of all living beings, Guy Remington was the one she loved
the best--the one without whose presence it seemed to her she could not
live, but without which she now knew she must.

With the best of intentions Mrs. Green had made a bungle of the whole
affair, but had succeeded in giving Maddy a general impression that
folks were talking awfully about Guy’s coming there, and doing for her
so much like an accepted lover, when everybody knew he was engaged, and
wouldn’t be likely to marry a poor girl if he wasn’t; that unless she
wanted to be ruined teetotally, and lose all her friends, she must
contrive to stop his visits, and not see him so much.

“Yes, I’ll do anything, only please leave me now,” Maddy gasped, her
face as white as ashes and her eyes fixed pleadingly upon Mrs. Green,
who, having been young herself, guessed the truth, and, as she arose to
go, laid her motherly hand on Maddy’s head, saving kindly:

“Poor child, it’s hard to bear now, but you’ll get over it in time.”

“Get over it,” Maddy moaned, as she shut and bolted the door after Mrs.
Green, and then threw herself upon the bed, “I never shall till I die.”

She almost felt that she was dying then, so desolate and so dreary the
future looked to her. What was life worth without Guy, and why had she
been thrown so much in his way; why permitted to love him as she knew
she did, if she must lose him now? Maddy could not cry; there was a
tightness about her eyes, and a keen, cutting pain about her heart as
she tried to pray for strength to do what was right--strength to cast
Guy Remington from her heart where it was a sin for him to be; and then
she asked to be forgiven for the wrong she had unwittingly done to Lucy
Atherstone, who trusted implicitly, and who, in her last letter, had
said:

“If I had not so much faith in Guy I should be jealous of one who has
so many opportunities for stealing his heart from me. But I trust you,
Maddy Clyde. You would not do a thing to harm me, I am sure, and to lose
Guy now, after these years of cruel waiting, would kill me.”

Sweet Lucy, there was in her heart a faint stirring of fear lest Maddy
Clyde might be a shadow in her pathway, else she had never written
that to her. But Lucy’s cause was safe in Maddy’s hands. Always too
high-souled to do a treacherous act, she was now sustained by another
and holier principle, which of itself would have kept her from the
wrong. But for a few moments Maddy abandoned herself to the bliss of
fancying what it would be to be loved by Guy Remington, even as she
loved him. And as she thought, there crept into her heart the certainty
that in some degree he did love her; that his friendship was more than a
mere liking for the girl to whom he had been so kind. In Lucy’s absence
she was essential to his happiness, and that was why he sought her
society so much. Remembering everything that had passed, but more
particularly the incidents of that memorable night ride to Honedale
with all that had followed since, she could not doubt it, and softly to
herself she whispered, “He loves me, he loves me,” while little throbs
of joy beat all over her heart; but only for an instant, and then the
note of joy was changed to sorrow as she thought how she must henceforth
seek to kill that love, both for her own sake and Lucy’s. Guy must not
come there any more. She could not bear it now, even if the neighbors
had never meddled with her. She could not see him as she had done, and
not betray her real feelings toward him. He had been there that day; he
would come again tomorrow. She could see him now just as he would look
coming up the walk, easy and self-possessed, confident of his reception,
his handsome face beaming all over with kind thoughtfulness for her, and
his voice full of tender concern as he asked how she was, and bade Flora
see that she did not overtax herself, and all this must cease. She
had seen it, heard it for the last time. No wonder that Maddy’s heart
fainted within her, as she thought how desolate, how dreary would be the
days when Guy no longer came. But the victory was gained at last, and
strength imparted for the task she had to do.

Going to the table she opened her portfolio, the gift of Guy, and
with her gold pen, also his gift, wrote to him what the neighbors were
saying, and that he must come there no more; at least, only once in a
great while, because if he did, she could not see him. Then, when this
was written, she went down to Uncle Joseph, beginning to call for her,
and sat by him as usual, singing to him the songs he loved so well, and
which this night pleased him especially, because the voice which sang
them was so plaintive, so full of woe. Would he never go to sleep, or
the hand which held hers so firmly relax its hold? Never, it seemed
to Maddy, who sat and sang, while the night-bird on a distant tree,
awakened by the low song, uttered a responsive note, and the hours crept
on to midnight. Human nature could endure no more, and when the crazy
man said to her, “Now sing of Him who died on Calvary,” Maddy’s answer
was a gaping cry as she fell fainting on the pillow.

“It was only a nervous headache,” she said to the frightened Flora, who
came at Uncle Joseph’s call, and helped her young mistress up to bed.
“She should be better in the morning, and she would rather be alone.”

So Flora left her there, but went often to her door, until assured by
the low breathing sound that Maddy was sleeping at last. It was a heavy
sleep, and when Maddy awakened from it the pain in her temples was there
still; she could not rise, and half glad that she could not, inasmuch as
her illness would be a reason why she could not see Guy if he came. She
did not know he was here already, until she heard his voice speaking to
her grandfather. It was later than she imagined, and he had ridden down
early because he could not stay away.

“I can’t see him, Flora,” Maddy said, when the latter came up with the
message that Mr. Remington was there with his buggy, and asked if a
little ride would not do her good. “I can’t see him, but give him this,”
 and she placed in Flora’s hand the note, baptized with so many tears and
prayers, and the contents of which made Guy furious; not at her, but at
the neighbors, the inquisitive, envious, ignorant, meddlesome neighbors,
who had dared to talk of him, or to breathe a suspicious word against
Maddy Clyde. He would see; he would make them sorry for it; they should
take back every word; and they should beg Maddy’s forgiveness for the
pain they had caused her.

All this, and much more, Guy thought, as with Maddy’s note in his hand
he walked up and down the sitting-room, raging like a young lion, and
threatening vengeance upon everybody. This was not the first intimation
Guy had received of the people’s gossip, for only that morning Mrs. Noah
had hinted that his course was not at all calculated to do Maddy any
good, while Agnes had repeated to him some things which she had heard
touching the frequency of his visits to Honedale; but these were nothing
to the calmly worded message which banished him effectually from Maddy’s
presence. He knew Maddy, and he knew, she meant what she wrote, but he
could not have it so. He must see her; he would see her; and so for
the next half hour Flora was the bearer of written messages to and from
Maddy’s room; messages of earnest entreaty on the one hand, and of firm
denial on the other. At last Maddy wrote:

“If you care for me in the least, or for my respect, leave me, and
do not come again until I send for you. I am not insensible to your
kindness. I feel it all; but the world is nearer right than you suppose.
It does not look well for you to come here so much, and I prefer that
you should not. Justice to Lucy requires that you stay away.”

That ended it! That roused up Guy’s pride, and writing back:

“You shall be obeyed. Good-by.” He sprang into his buggy, and Maddy,
listening, with head and heart throbbing alike, heard him as he drove
furiously away.

Those were long, dreary days which followed, and but for her
grandfather’s increasing feebleness Maddy would almost have died.
Anxiety for him, however, kept her from dwelling too much upon herself,
but the excitement sad the care wore upon her sadly, robbing her eye of
its luster and her cheek of its remaining bloom, making even Mrs. Noah
cry when she came one day with Jessie to see how they were getting on.
She had heard from Guy of his banishment, and now that he stayed away,
she was ready to step in; so she came, laden with sympathy and other
more substantial comforts brought from the Aikenside larder.

Maddy was glad to see her, and for a time cried softly on her bosom,
while Mrs. Noah’s tears kept company with hers. Not a word was said of
Guy, except when Jessie told her he was gone to Boston, and it was so
stupid at home without him.

With more than her ordinary discretion, Flora kept to herself what had
passed when Guy was last there, so Mrs. Noah knew nothing except what he
had told her, and what she read in Maddy’s white, suffering face. This
last was enough to excite all her pity, and she treated the young girl
with the most motherly kindness saying all night, and herself taking
care of grandpa, who was now too ill to sit up. There seemed to be no
disease preying upon him, nothing save old age, and the loss of one who
for more than forty years had shared all his joy and sorrow. He could
not live without her, and one night, three weeks after Guy’s dismissal,
he said to Maddy, as she was about to leave him:

“Sit with me, darling, for a little while, if you are not too tired.
Your grandmother seems near me to-night, and so does Alice, your mother.
Maybe I’ll be with them before another day. I hope I may if God is
willing, and there’s much I would say to you.”

He was very pale, and the great sweat drops stood on his forehead and
under his white hair, but Maddy wiped them away and listened with a
breaking heart while the aged disciple almost home told her of the
peace, the joy, that shone around his pathway to the tomb, and of the
everlasting arm bearing him so gently over Jordan. Then he talked of
herself, blessing her for all she had been to him, telling her how happy
she had made his life since she came home to stay, and how for a time he
had ached so with fear lest she should choose to go back and leave him
to a stranger. “But my darling stayed with her old grandpa. She’ll never
be sorry for it, never. I’ve tried you sometimes, I know, for old folks
ain’t like young; but I’m sorry, Maddy, and you’ll forget it when I’m
gone, darling Maddy, precious child;” and the trembling hand rested
caressingly on her bowed head as grandpa went on to speak of his
affairs, his little property which was hers after the mortgage to Mr.
Guy was paid. “I’ve kept up the interest,” he said, “but I could never
get him to take any of the principal. I don’t know why he is so good to
me. Tell him, Maddy, how I thanked and blessed him just before I died;
tell him how I used to pray for him every day that he might choose the
better part. And he will--I’m sure he will, some day. He hasn’t been
here of late, and though my old eyes are dim, I can see that your step
has got slow, and your face whiter by many shades, since he stayed away.
Maddy, child, the dead tell no secrets, and I shall soon be dead. Tell
me, then, what it is between you two. Does my girl love Mr. Guy?”

“Oh, grandpa! grandpa!” Maddy moaned, laying her head beside his own on
the pillow.

It would be a relief to talk with some one of that terrible pain, which
grew worse every day; of that intense longing just for one sight of the
beloved one; of Guy, still absent from Aikenside, wandering nobody knew
where; and so Maddy told the whole story, while the dying man listened
to her, and smoothing her silken hair, tried to comfort her.

“The worst is not over yet,” he said. “Guy will offer to make you his
wife, sacrificing Lucy for you, and if he does, what will my darling
do?”

Maddy’s heart leaped up into her throat, and for a moment prevented her
from answering, for the thought of Guy’s really offering to make her his
wife, to shield her from evil, to enfold her in his tender love, made
her giddy with joy. But it could not be, and she answered through her
tears:

“I shall tell him no.”

“God bless my Maddy! She will tell him no for Lucy’s sake, and God will
bring it right at last,” the old man whispered, his voice growing very
faint and tremulous. “She will tell him no,” he kept repeating, until,
rousing up to greater consciousness, he spoke of Uncle Joseph, and asked
what Maddy would do with him; would she send him back to the asylum,
or care for him there? “He will be happier here,” he said, “but it is
asking too much of a young girl like you. He may live for years.”

“I do not know, grandpa. I hope I may do right. I think I shall keep
Uncle Joseph with me,” Maddy replied, a shudder creeping over her as
she thought of living out all her youth and possibly middle age with a
lunatic.

But her grandfather’s whispered blessings brought comfort with them, and
a calm quiet fell upon her as she sat there listening to the words of
prayer, and catching now and then her own name and that of Guy’s.

“I am drowsy, Maddy. Watch while I sleep. Perhaps I’ll never wake
again,” grandpa said, and clasping Maddy’s hands he fell away to sleep,
while Maddy kept her watch beside him, herself falling into a troubled
sleep, from which she was aroused by a clammy hand pressing on her
forehead, and Uncle Joseph’s voice, which said: “Wake, my child. There’s
been a guest here while you slumbered,” and he pointed to the rigid
features of the newly dead.



CHAPTER XX. -- THE BURDEN GROWS HEAVIER.


Of the days which followed, Maddy had no distinct consciousness. She
only knew that other hands than hers cared for the dead, that in the
little parlor a stiff, white figure lay, that neighboring women stole
in, treading on tiptoe, and speaking in hushed voices as they consulted,
not her, but Mrs. Noah, who had come at once, and cared for her and hers
so kindly. That she lay all day in her own room, where the summer breeze
blew softly through the window, bringing the perfume of summer flowers,
the sound of a tolling bell, of grinding wheels, the notes of a low, sad
hymn, sung in faltering tones, and of many feet moving from the door.
Then friendly faces looked in upon her, asking how she felt, and
whispering ominously to each other as she answered:

“Very well; is grandpa getting better?”

Then Mrs. Noah sat with her for a time, fanning her with a palm-leaf
fan and brushing the flies away. Then Flora came up with a man whom
they called “Doctor,” and who gave his sundry little pills and powders
dissolved in water, after which they all went out and left her there
with Jessie who had been crying, and whose soft little hands felt so
cool on her hot head, and whose kisses on her lips made the tears
start, and brought a thought of Guy, making her ask, “if he was at the
funeral.” She did not know whose funeral, or why she used that word,
only it seemed to her that Jessie just came back from somebody’s grave,
and she asked if Guy was there. “No,” Jessie said; “mother wanted to
write and tell him, but we don’t know where he is.”

And this was all Maddy could recall of the days succeeding the night
of her last watch at her grandfather’s side, until one balmy August
afternoon, when on the Honedale hills there lay that smoky haze so like
the autumn time hurrying on apace, and when through her open window
stole the fragrance of the later summer flowers. Then, as if waking from
an ordinary sleep, she woke suddenly to consciousness, and staring about
the room, wondered if it were as late as the western sun would indicate,
and how she came to sleep so long. For a while she lay thinking, and as
she thought, a sad scene came back to her, a night when her hot hands
had been enfolded in those of the dead, and that dead her grandfather.
Was it true, or was she laboring under some hallucination of the brain?
If true, was that white, placid face still to be seen in the room
below, or had they burial him from her sight? She would know, and with a
strange kind of nervous strength she arose, and throwing on the wrapper
and slippers which lay near, descended the stairs, wondering to find
herself so weak, and half shuddering at the deep stillness of the house;
stillness broken only by the ticking of the clock and the purring of the
house cat, which at sight of Maddy arose from its position near the door
and came forward, rubbing its sides against her dress, and trying in
various ways to evince its joy at seeing one whose caresses it had
missed so long. The little bedroom off the kitchen where grandpa slept
and died was vacant; the old fashioned coat was put away, as was every
vestige of the old man save the broad-rimmed hat which hung upon the
wall just where his hands had hung it, and which looked so much like
its owner that with a gush of tears Maddy sank upon the bed, moaning to
herself, “Yes, grandpa is dead. I remember now. But Uncle Joseph, where
is he? Can he too have died without my knowledge? and she looked round
in vain for the lunatic, not a trace of whom was to be found. His room
was in perfect order, as was everything about the house, showing that
Flora was still the domestic goddess, while Maddy detected also various
things which she recognized as having come from Aikenside. Who sent
them? Did Guy, and had he been there too while she was sick? The thought
brought a throb of joy to Maddy’s heart, but it soon passed away as she
began again to wonder if Uncle Joseph too had died, and where Flora
was. It was not far to the Honedale burying ground. Maddy could see
the headstones from where she sat gleaming through the August sunlight;
could discern her mother’s, and knew that two fresh mounds at least
were made beside it. But were there three? Was Uncle Joseph there? By
stealing across the meadow in the rear of the house the distance to the
graveyard was shortened more than half, and could not be more than the
eighth part of a mile, She could walk so far, she knew. The fresh air
would do her good, and hunting up her long unused flat, the impatient
girl started, stopping once or twice to rest as a dizzy faintness came
over her, and then continuing on until the spot she sought was reached,
Three graves, one old and sunken, one made when the last winter’s snow
was on the hills, the other fresh and new. That was all, Uncle Joseph
was not there, and vague terror entered Maddy’s heart lest he had been
taken back to the asylum.

“I will get him out,” she said; “I will take care of him. I should die
with nothing to do; and I promised grandpa----”

She could get no farther, for the rush of memories which came over her,
and seating herself upon the ground close to the new grave, she laid her
face upon it, and sobbed piteously:

“Oh, grandpa. I’m so lonely without you all; I almost wish I was lying
here in the quiet yard.”

Then a storm of tears ensued, after which Maddy grew calm, and with her
head still bent low, did not hear the rapid step approaching, the mans
step coming down the grassy road, coming past the marble tombstones,
on to where that wasted figure was crouching upon the ground. There it
stopped, and in a half whisper called, “Maddy! Maddy!” Then indeed she
started, and lifting up her head saw before her Guy Remington. For a
moment she regarded him intently while he said to her, oh so kindly, so
pityingly.

“Poor child, you have suffered so much, and I never knew of it till a
few days ago.”

At the sound of that loved voice speaking thus to her, everything else
was forgotten, and with a cry of joy Maddy stretched her hands toward
him, moaning out:

“Oh, Guy, Guy, where have you been, when I wanted you so much?”

Maddy did not know what she was saying, or half comprehend the effect it
had on Guy, who forgot everything save that she wanted him, had missed
him, had turned to him in her trouble, and it was not in his nature to
resist her appeal. With a spring he was at her side, and lifting her
in his arms seated himself upon her mother’s grave; then straining
her tightly to his bosom, he kissed her again and again. Hot, burning,
passionate kisses they were, which took from Maddy all power of
resistance, even had she wished it, which she did not. Too weak to
reason, or see the harm, if harm there were, in being loved by Guy, she
abandoned herself for a brief interval to the bliss of knowing that she
was beloved, and of hearing him tell her so.

“Darling Maddy,” he said, “I went away because you sent me, but now I
have come back, and nothing shall part us again. You are mine; I claim
you here at your mother’s grave. Precious Maddy, I did not know of all
this till three days ago, when Agnes’ letter found me almost at the
Rocky Mountains. I traveled day and night, reaching Aikenside this
morning, and coming straight to Honedale. I wish I had come before, now
that I know you wanted me. Say that again, Maddy. Tell me again that you
missed and wanted me.”

He was smoothing her hair now, as her head still lay pillowed upon
his breast, so he could not see the spasm of pain which contorted her
features as he thus appealed to her. Half bewildered, Maddy could not at
first make out whether it were a blissful dream or a reality, her lying
there in Guy’s arms with his kisses on her forehead, lips and cheek, his
words of devotion in her ear, and the soft summer sky smiling down upon
her. Alas, it was a dream from which she was awakened by the thought of
one across the sea, whose place she had usurped, and this it was which
brought the grieved expression to her face as she answered mournfully:

“I did want you, Guy, when I forgot; but now--oh, Guy--Lucy Atherstone!”

With a gesture of impatience Guy was about to answer, when something
in the heavy fall of the little hand from his shoulder alarmed him, and
lifting up the drooping head he saw that Maddy had fainted. Then
back across the meadow Guy bore her to the cottage, where Flora, just
returned from a neighbor’s, whither she had gone upon an errand, was
looking for her in much affright, and wondering who had come from
Aikenside with that wet, tired horse, showing so plainly how hard it had
been driven.

Up again into her little chamber Maddy was carried and laid upon the
bed, which she never left until the golden harvest sheaves were gathered
in, and the hot September sun was ripening the fruits of autumn. But
now she had a new nurse, a constant attendant, who during the day seldom
left her except to talk with and amuse Uncle Joseph, mourning below
because no one sang to him or noticed him as Maddy used to do. He had
not been sent to the asylum, as Maddy feared, but by way of relieving
Flora had been taken to Farmer Green’s, where he was so homesick and
discontented that at Guy’s instigation he was suffered to return to
the cottage, crying like a little child when the old familiar spot was
reached, kissing his armchair, the cook-stove, the tongs, Mrs. Noah and
Flora, and timidly offering to kiss the Lord Governor himself, as he
persisted in calling Guy, who declined the honor, but listened quietly
to the crazy man’s promise “not to spit the smallest kind of a spit on
the floor, or anywhere, except in its proper place.”

Guy had passed through several states of mind during the interval in
which we have seen so little of him. Furious at one time, and reckless
as to consequences, he had determined to break with Lucy and marry
Maddy, in spite of everybody; then, as a sense of honor came over him,
he resolved to forget Maddy, if possible, and marry Lucy at once. It was
in this last mood, and while roaming over the Western country, whither
after his banishment he had gone, that he wrote to Lucy a strange kind
of letter, saying he had waited for her long enough, and sick or well
he should claim her the coming autumn. To this letter Lucy had responded
quickly, sweetly reproving Guy for his impatience, softly hinting that
latterly he had been quite as culpable as herself in the matter
of deferring their union and appointing the bridal day for the--of
December. After this was settled Guy felt better, though the old sore
spot in his heart, where Maddy Clyde had been, was very sore still,
and sometimes it required all his powers of self-control to keep from
writing to Lucy and asking to be released from an engagement so irksome
as his had become. Neglecting to answer Agnes’ letters when he first
left home, she did not know where he was until a short time before, when
she wrote apprising him of grandpa’s death and Maddy’s severe illness.
This brought him, while Maddy’s involuntary outburst when she met him
in the graveyard, changed the whole current of his intentions. Let what
would come, Maddy Clyde should be his wife and as such he watched over
her, nursing her back to life, and by his manner effectually silencing
all remark, so that the neighbors whispered among themselves what
Maddy’s prospects were, and, as was quite natural, were a very little
more attentive to the future lady of Aikenside. Poor Maddy! it was
a terrible trial which awaited her, but it must be met, and so with
prayers and tears she fortified herself to meet it, while Guy, the
devoted lover, hung over her, never guessing of all that was passing in
her mind, or how, when he was out of sight, the lips he had longed so
much to kiss, but never had since that day in the graveyard, quivered
with anguish as they asked for strength to do right. Oh, how Maddy did
love the man she must give up, and how often went up the wailing cry,
“Help me, Father, to do my duty, and give me, too, a greater inclination
to do it than I now possess.”

Maddy’s heart did fail her sometimes, and she might have yielded to the
temptation but for Lucy’s letter, full of eager anticipations of the
time when she should see Guy never to part again.

“Sometimes,” she wrote, “there comes over me a dark foreboding of
evil--a fear that I shall miss the cup now within my reach; but I pray
the bad feelings away. I am sure there is no living being who will come
between us to break my heart, and as I know God doeth all things well, I
trust Him wholly, and cease to doubt.”

It was well the letter came when it did, as it helped Maddy to meet the
hour she so much dreaded, and which came at last on an afternoon when
Mrs. Noah had gone to Aikenside, and Flora had gone on an errand to a
neighbor’s, two miles away, thus leaving Guy free to tell the story,
the old, old story, yet always new to him who tells it and her who
listens--story which, as Guy told it, sitting by Maddy’s side, with her
hands in his, thrilled her through and through, making the sweat drops
start out around her lips and underneath her hair--story which made Guy
himself pant nervously and tremble like a leaf, so earnestly he told it;
told how long he had loved her, of the picture withheld, the jealousy he
felt each time the doctor named her, the selfish joy he experienced when
he heard the doctor was refused; told of his growing dissatisfaction
with his engagement, his frequent resolves to break it, his final
decision, which that scene in the graveyard had reversed, and then asked
if she would not be his--not doubtfully, but confidently, eagerly, as if
sure of her answer.

Alas for Guy! he could not believe he heard aright when, turning her
head away for a moment while she prayed for strength, Maddy’s answer
came, “I cannot, Guy, I cannot. I acknowledge the love which has stolen
upon me, I know not how, but I cannot do this wrong to Lucy. Away from
me you will love her again. You must. Read this, Guy, then say if you
can desert her.”

She placed Lucy’s letter in his hand, and Guy read it with a heart which
ached to its very core. It was cruel to deceive that gentle, trusting
girl writing so lovingly of him, but to lose Maddy was to his
undisciplined nature more dreadful still, and casting the letter aside
he pleaded again, this time with the energy of despair, for he read
his fate in Maddy’s face, and when her lips a second time confirmed her
first reply, while she appealed to his sense of honor, of justice, of
right, and told him he could and must forget her, he knew there was no
hope, and man though he was, bowed his head upon Maddy’s hands and wept
stormily, mighty, choking sobs, which shook his frame, and seemed to
break up the very fountains of his life. Then to Maddy there came a
terrible temptation. Was it right for two who loved as they did to live
their lives apart?--right in her to force on Guy the fulfillment of vows
he could not literally keep? As mental struggles are always the more
severe, so Maddy’s took all her strength away, and for many minutes she
lay so white and still that Guy roused himself to care for her, thinking
of nothing then except to make her better.

It was a long time ere that interview ended, but when it did there was
on Maddy’s face a peaceful expression, which only the sense of having
done right at the cost of a fearful sacrifice could give, while Guy’s
bore traces of a great and crushing sorrow, as he went out from Maddy’s
presence and felt that to him she was lost forever. He had promised her
he would do right; had said he would marry Lucy, being to her what a
husband should be; had listened while she talked of another world, where
they neither marry nor are given in marriage, and where it would not be
sinful for them to love each other, and as she talked her face had shone
like the face of an angel. He had held one of her hands at parting,
bending low his head, while she laid the other on it as she blessed
him, letting her snowy fingers thread his soft brown hair and linger
caressingly among his curly locks. But that was over now. They had
parted forever. She was lying where he left her, cold, and white, and
faint with dizzy pain. He was riding swiftly toward Aikenside, his heart
beats keeping time to the swift tread of his horse’s feet, and his mind
a confused medley of distracted thoughts, amid which two facts stood
out prominent and clear-he had lost Maddy Clyde, and had promised her to
marry Lucy Atherstone.

For many days after that Guy kept his room, saying he was sick, and
refusing to see any one save Jessie and Mrs. Noah, the latter of whom
guessed in part what had happened, and imputing to him far more credit
than he deserved, petted and pitied and cared for him until he grew
weary of it, and said to her savagely: “You needn’t think me so good,
for I am not. I wanted Maddy Clyde, and told her so, but she refused
me and made me promise to marry Lucy; so I’m going to do that very
thing--going to England in a few weeks, or as soon as Maddy is better,
and before the sun of this year sets I shall be a married man.”

After this all Mrs. Noah’s sympathy was in favor of Maddy, the good lady
making more than one pilgrimage to Honedale, where she expended all her
arguments trying to make Maddy revoke her decision; but Maddy was firm
in what she deemed right, and as her health began slowly to improve,
and there was no longer an excuse for Guy to tarry, he gave out to the
neighborhood that he was at last to be married, and started for England
the latter part of October, as unhappy and unwilling a bridegroom, it
may be, as ever wait after a bride.



CHAPTER XXI. -- THE INTERVAL BEFORE THE MARRIAGE.


Maddy never knew how she lived through those bright, autumnal days, when
the gorgeous beauty of decaying nature seemed so cruelly to mock her
anguish. As long as Guy was there, breathing the same air with herself,
she kept up, vaguely conscious of a shadowy hope that something would
happen without her instrumentality, something to ease the weight
pressing so hard upon her. But when she heard that he had really
gone, that a line had been received from him after he was on board the
steamer, all hope died out of her heart, and had it been right she would
have prayed that she might die and forget how utterly miserable she was.

At last there came to her three letters, one from Lucy, one from the
doctor, and one from Guy himself. Lucy’s she opened first, reading of
the sweet girl’s great happiness in seeing her darling boy again, of
her sorrow to find him so thin, and pale, and changed, in all save his
extreme kindness to her, his careful study of her wants, and evident
anxiety to please her in every respect. On this Lucy dwelt, until
Maddy’s heart seemed to leap up and almost turn over in its casing, so
fiercely it throbbed and ached with anguish. She was out in the beechen
woods when she read the letter, and laying her face in the grass she
sobbed as she had never sobbed before.

The doctor’s next was opened, and Maddy read with blinding tears that
which for a moment increased her pain and sent to her bleeding heart an
added pang of disappointment, or a sense of wrong done to her, she could
not tell which. Dr. Holbrook was to be married the same day with Lucy,
and to Lucy’s sister, Margaret.

“Maggie, I call her,” he wrote, “because that name is so much like my
first love, Maddy, the little girl who though I was too old to be her
husband, and so made me very wretched for a time, until I met and knew
Margaret Atherstone. I have told her of you, Maddy; I would not marry
her without, and she seems willing to take me as I am. We shall come
home with Guy, who is the mere wreck of what he was when I last saw him.
He has told me, Maddy, all about it, and though I doubly respect you
now, I cannot say that I think you did quite right. Better that one
should suffer than two, and Lucy’s is a nature which will forget far
sooner than yours or Guy’s. I pity you all.”

This almost killed Maddy; she did not love the doctor, but the knowledge
that he was to marry another added to her misery, while what he said
of her decision was the climax of the whole. Had her sacrifice been for
nothing? Would it have been better if she had not sent Guy away? It was
anguish unspeakable to believe so, and the shadowy woods never echoed
to so bitter a cry of pain as that with which she laid her head on the
ground, and for a brief moment wished that she might die. God pitied
His child then, and for the next half hour she hardly knew what she
suffered.

There was Guy’s letter yet to read, and with a listless indifference
she opened it, starting as there dropped into her lap a small _carte
de viste_, a perfect likeness of Guy, who sent it, he said, because he
wished her to have so much of himself. It would make him happier to know
she could sometimes look at him just as he should gaze upon her dear
picture after it was a sin to love the original. And this was all the
direct reference he made to the past except where he spoke of Lucy,
telling how happy she was, and how if anything could reconcile him to
his fate, it was the knowing how pure and good and loving was the
wife he was getting. Then he wrote of the doctor and Margaret, whom he
described as a dashing, brilliant girl, the veriest tease and madcap in
the world, and the exact opposite of Maddy.

“It is strange to me why he chose her after loving you,” he wrote; “but
as they seem fond of each other, their chances of happiness are not
inconsiderable.”

This letter, so calm, so cheerful in its tone, had a quieting effect on
Maddy, who read it twice, and then placing it in her bosom, started for
the cottage, meeting on the way with Flora who was seeking for her in
great alarm. Uncle Joseph had had a fit, she said, and fallen upon the
floor, cutting his forehead badly against the sharp point of the stove.
Hurrying on Maddy found that what Flora had said was true, and sent
immediately for the physician, who came at once, but shook his head
doubtfully as he examined his patient. There were all the symptoms of a
fever, he said, bidding Maddy prepare for the worst. Nothing in the
form of trouble could particularly affect Maddy now, and perhaps it was
wisely ordered that Uncle Joseph’s illness should take her thoughts from
herself. Prom the very first he refused to take his medicines from
any one save her or Jessie, who with her mother’s permission stayed
altogether at the cottage, and who, as Guy’s sister, was a great comfort
to Maddy.

As the fever increased, and Uncle Joseph grew more and more delirious
his cries for Sarah were heartrending, making Jessie weep bitterly as
she said to Maddy:

“If I knew where this Sarah was I’d go miles on foot to find her and
bring her to him.”

Something like this Jessie said to her mother when she went for a day to
Aikenside, asking her in conclusion if she thought Sarah would go.

“Perhaps,” and Agnes brushed abstractedly her long, flowing hair,
winding it around her jeweled fingers, and then letting the soft curls
fall across her snowy arms.

“Where do you suppose she is?” was Jessie’s next question, but if Agnes
knew, she did not answer, except by reminding her little daughter that
it was past her bedtime.

The next morning Agnes’ eyes were very red, as if she had been wakeful
the entire night, while her white face fully warranted the headache she
professed to have.

“Jessie,” she said, as they sat together at their breakfast, “I am going
to Honedale to-day, going to see Maddy, and shall leave you here, as I
do not care to have us both absent.”

Jessie demurred a little at first, but finally yielded, wondering what
had prompted this visit to the cottage. Maddy wondered so, too, as from
the window she saw Agnes instead of Jessie alighting from the carriage,
and was conscious of a thrill of gratification that Agnes would have
come to see her. But Agnes’ business concerned the sick man, poor Uncle
Joseph, who was sleeping when she came, and so did not hear her voice as
in the tidy kitchen she talked to Maddy, appearing extremely agitated,
and flashing her eyes rapidly from one part of the room to another,
resting now upon the tinware hung upon the wall and now upon the gourd
swimming in the water pail standing in the old-fashioned sink, with the
wooden spout, directly over the pile of stones covering the drain. These
things were familiar to the proud woman; she had seen them before, and
the sight of them now brought to her a most remorseful regret for the
past, while her heart ached cruelly as she wished she had never crossed
that threshold, or crossing it had never brought ruin to one of its
inmates. Agnes was not the same woman whom we first knew. All hope of
the doctor had long since been given up, and as Jessie grew older the
mother nature was stronger within her, subduing her selfishness, and
making her far more gentle and considerate for others than she had been
before. To Maddy she was exceedingly kind, and never more so in manner
than now, when they sat talking together in the humble kitchen at the
cottage.

“You look tired and sick,” she said. “Your cares have been too much for
one not yet strong. Let me sit by him till he wakes, and you go up to
bed.”

Very gladly Maddy accepted the offered relief, and utterly worn out
with her constant vigils, she was soon sleeping soundly in her own room,
while Flora, in the little shed, or back room of the house, was busy
with her ironing. Thus there was none to follow Agnes as she went slowly
into the sick-room where Uncle Joseph lay, his thin face upturned to
the light, and his lips occasionally moving as he muttered in his sleep.
There was a strange contrast between that wasted imbecile and that
proud, queenly woman, but she could remember a time when the superiority
was all upon his side, a time when in her childish estimation he was the
embodiment of every manly beauty, and the knowledge that he loved her,
his sister’s little hired girl, filled her with pride and vanity. A
great change had come to them both since those days, and Agnes, watching
him and smothering back the cry of pain which arose to her lips at sight
of him, felt that for the fearful change in him she was answerable.
Intellectual, talented, admired and sought by all he had been once; he
was a mere wreck now, and Agnes’ breath came in short, quick gasps, as
glancing furtively around to see that no one was near, she laid her hand
upon his forehead, and parting his thin hair, said, pityingly: “Poor
Joseph.”

The touch awoke him, and starting up he stared wildly at her, while some
memory of the past seemed to be struggling through the misty clouds,
obscuring his mental vision.

“Who are you, lady? Who, with eyes and hair like hers?”

“I’m the `madam’ from Aikenside,” Agnes said, quite loudly, as Flora
passed the door. Then when she was gone she added, softly: “I’m Sarah.
Don’t you know me? Sarah Agnes Morris.”

It seemed for a moment to burst upon him in its full reality, and to her
dying day Agnes would never forget the look upon his face, the smile
of perfect happiness breaking through the rain of tears, the love,
the tenderness mingled with distrust, which that look betokened as he
continued gazing at her, but said to her not a word. Again her hand
rested on his forehead, and taking it now in his he held it to the
light, laughing insanely at its soft whiteness; then touching the costly
diamonds which flashed upon him the rainbow hues, he said: “Where’s that
little bit of a ring I bought for you?”

She had anticipated this, and took from her pocket a plain gold ring,
kept until that day where no one could find it, and holding it up to
him, said: “Here it is. Do you remember it?”

“Yes, yes,” and his lips began to quiver with a grieved, injured
expression. “He could give you diamonds, and I couldn’t. That’s why you
left me, wasn’t it, Sarah--why you wrote that letter which made my head
into two? It’s ached so ever since, and I’ve missed you so much, Sarah!
They put me in a cell where crazy people were--oh! so many--and they
said that I was mad, when I was only wanting you. I’m not mad now, am I,
darling?”

His arm was around her neck, and he drew her down until his lips touched
hers. And Agnes suffered it. She could not return the kiss, but she did
not turn away from his, and she let him caress her hair, and wind it
around his fingers, whispering: “This is like Sarah’s, and you are
Sarah, are you not?”

“Yes, I am Sarah,” she would answer, while the smile so painful to see
would again break over his face as he told how much he had missed her,
and asked if she had not come to stay till he died.

“There’s something wrong,” he said; “somebody dead, and seems as if
somebody else wanted to die--as if Maddy died ever since the Lord
Governor went away. Do you know Governor Guy?”

“I am his stepmother,” Agnes replied, whereupon Uncle Joseph laughed so
long and loud that Maddy awoke, and, alarmed by the noise, came down to
see what was the matter.

Agnes did not hear her, and as she reached the doorway, she started at
the strange position of the parties--Uncle Joseph still smoothing the
curls which drooped over him, and Agnes saying to him: “You heard his
name was Remington, did you not--James Remington?”

Like a sudden revelation it came upon Maddy, and she turned to leave,
when Agnes, lifting her head, called her to come in. She did so, and
standing upon the opposite side of the bed, she said, questioningly:
“You are Sarah Morris?”

For a moment the eyelids quivered, then the neck arched proudly, as if
it were a thing of which she was not ashamed, and Agnes answered: “Yes,
I was Sarah Agnes Morris; once for three months your grandmother’s
hired girl, and afterward adopted by a lady who gave me what education
I possess, together with that taste for high life which prompted me to
jilt your Uncle Joseph when a richer man than he offered himself to me.”

That was all she said--all that Maddy ever knew of her history, as it
was never referred to again, except that evening, when Agnes said to
her, pleadingly: “Neither Guy nor Jessie, nor any one, need know what I
have told you.”

“They shall not,” was Maddy’s reply; and from that moment the past, so
far as Agnes was concerned, was a sealed page to both. With this bond
of confidence between them, Agnes felt herself strangely drawn toward
Maddy, while, if it were possible, something of her olden love was
renewed for the helpless man who clung to her now instead of Maddy,
refusing to let her go; neither had Agnes any disposition to leave him.
She should stay to the last, so she said; and she did, taking Maddy’s
place, and by her faithfulness and care winning golden laurels in the
opinion of the neighbors, who marveled at first to see so gay a lady at
Uncle Joseph’s bedside, attributing it all to her friendship for Maddy,
just as they attributed his calling her Sarah to a crazy freak. She did
resemble Sarah Morris a very little, they said; and in Maddy’s presence
they sometimes wondered where Sarah was, repeating strange things which
they had heard of her; but Maddy kept the secret from every one, so that
even Jessie never suspected why her mother stayed day after day at the
cottage; watching and waiting until the last day of Joseph’s life.

She was alone with him then, so that Maddy never knew what passed
between them. She had left them together for an hour, while she did some
errands; and when she returned, Agnes met her at the door, and with a
blanched cheek whispered: “He is dead; he died in my arms, blessing you
and me; do you hear, blessing me! Surely; my sin is now forgiven?”



CHAPTER XXII. -- BEFORE THE BRIDAL.


There was a fresh grave made in the churchyard, and another chair vacant
at the cottage, when Maddy was at last alone. Unfettered by care and
anxiety for sick ones, her aching heart was free to go out after the
loved ones over the sea, go to the elm-shaded mansion she had heard
described so often, and where now two brides were busy with their
preparations for the bridal hurrying on so fast. Since the letter read
in the smoky, October woods, Maddy had not heard from Guy directly,
though Lucy had written since, a few brief lines, telling how happy
she was, how strong she was growing, and how much like himself Guy was
becoming. Maddy had been less than a woman if the last intelligence had
failed to affect her unpleasantly. She did not wish Guy to regret his
decision; but to be forgotten so soon after so strong protestations of
affection, was a little mortifying, and Maddy’s heart throbbed painfully
as she read the letter, half hoping it might prove the last she should
receive from Lucy Atherstone. Guy had left no orders for any changes to
be made at Aikenside; but Agnes, who was largely imbued with a love
of bustle and repair, had insisted that at least the suite of rooms
intended for the bride should be thoroughly renovated with new paper
and paint, carpets and furniture. This plan Mrs. Noah opposed, for
she guessed how little Guy would care for the change; but Agnes was
resolved, and as she had great faith in Maddy’s taste, she insisted that
she should go to Aikenside, and pass her judgment upon the improvements.
It would do her good, she said--little dreaming how much it cost Maddy
to comply with her wishes, or how fearfully the poor, crushed heart
ached, as Maddy went through the handsome rooms fitted up for Guy’s
young bride; but Mrs. Noah guessed it all, pitying so much the
white-faced girl, whose deep mourning robes told the loss of dear ones
by death; but gave no token of that great loss, tenfold worse than
death.

“It was wicked in her to fetch you here,” she said to Maddy, one day
when in Lucy’s room she found her sitting upon the floor, with her head
bowed down upon the window sill. “But law, she’s a triflin’ thing, and
didn’t know ‘twould kill you, poor child, poor Maddy!” and Mrs. Noah
laid her hand kindly on Maddy’s hair. “Maybe you’d better go home,” she
continued, as Maddy made no reply; “it must be hard, to be here in the
rooms, and among the things which by good rights should be yours.”

“No, Mrs. Noah,” and Maddy’s voice was strangely unnatural, as she
lifted up her head, revealing a face so haggard and white that Mrs. Noah
was frightened, and asked in much alarm if anything new had happened.

“No, nothing; I was going to say that I’d rather stay a little longer
where there are signs and sounds of life. I should die to be alone
at Honedale to-morrow. I may die here, I don’t know. Do you know that
to-morrow will be the bridal?”

Yes, Mrs. Noah knew it; but she hoped it might have escaped Maddy’s
mind.

“Poor child,” she said again, “poor child, I mistrust you did wrong to
tell him no!”

“Oh, Mrs. Noah, don’t tell me that; don’t make it harder for me to bear.
The tempter has been telling me so, all day, and my heart is so hard and
wicked, I cannot pray as I would. Oh, you don’t know how wretched I am!”
 and Maddy hid her face in the broad, motherly lap, sobbing so wildly
that Mrs. Noah was greatly perplexed, how to act, or what to say.

Years ago, she would have spurned the thought that the grandchild of
the old man who had bowed to his own picture should be mistress of
Aikenside; but she had changed since then, and could she have had her
way, she would have stopped the marriage, and, bringing her boy home,
have given him to the young girl weeping so convulsively in her lap.
But Mrs. Noah could not have her way. The bridal guests were, even then,
assembling in that home beyond the sea. She could not call Guy back, and
so she pitied and caressed the wretched Maddy, saying to her at last:

“I’ll tell you what is impressed on my mind; this Lucy’s got the
consumption, without any kind of doubt, and if you’ve no objections to a
widower, you may----”

She did not finish the sentence, for Maddy started in horror. To her
there was something murderous in the very idea, and she thrust it
quickly aside. Guy Remington was not for her, she said, and her wish
was to forget him. If she could get through the dreaded to-morrow,
she should do better. There had been a load upon her the whole day, a
nightmare she could not shake off, and she had come to Lucy’s room, in
the hope of leaving her burden there, of praying her pain away. Would
Mrs. Noah leave her a while, and see that no one came?

The good woman could not refuse, and going out, she left Maddy by the
window, watching the sun as it went down, and then watching; the wintry
twilight deepen over the landscape, until all things were blended
together in one great darkness, and Jessie, seeking for her found her at
last, fainting upon the floor.

Maddy was glad of the racking headache, which kept her in her bed the
whole of the next day, glad of any excuse to stay away from the family,
talking--all but Mrs. Noah--of Guy, and what was transpiring in England.
They had failed to remember the difference in the longitude of the two
places; but Maddy forgot nothing, and when the clock struck four, she
called Mrs. Noah to her and whispered, faintly:

“They were to be married at eight in the evening. Allowing for possible
delays, it’s over before this and Guy is lost forever!”

Mrs. Noah had no consolation to offer, and only pressed the hot,
feverish hands, while Maddy turned her face to the wall, and did not
speak again, except to whisper, incoherently, as she half slumbered,
half woke:

“Did Guy think of me when he promised to love her, and does he, can he,
see how miserable I am?” Maddy was indeed passing through deep waters,
and that night, the fourth of December, the longest, dreariest she ever
knew, could never be forgotten. Once past, the worst was over, and as
the rarest metal is purified by fire, so Maddy came from the dreadful
ordeal strengthened for what was before her. Both Agnes and Mrs. Noah
noticed the strangely beautiful expression of her face, when she came
down to the breakfast-room, while Jessie, as she kissed her pale cheek,
whispered:

“You look as if you had been with the angels.” Guy was not expected with
his bride for two weeks, or more, and as the days dragged on, Maddy felt
that the waiting for him was more intolerable than the seeing him with
Lucy would be. Restless and impatient, she could not remain quietly at
the cottage--while at Aikenside, she longed to return again to her own
home, and in this way the time wore on, until the anniversary of that
day when she had come from New York, and found Guy waiting for her the
station. To stay that day in the house so rife with memories of the dead
was impossible, and Flora was surprised and delighted to hear that both
were going up to Aikenside in the vehicle hired of Farmer Green,
whose officiated as driver. It was nearly noon when they reached their
destination, meeting at the gate with Flora’s brother Tom, who said to
them:

“We’ve heard from Mr. Guy; the ship is in; they’ll be here sure
to-night, and Mrs. Noah is turnin’ things upside down with the dinner.”

Leaning back in the buggy, Maddy felt for a moment as if she were dying.
Never until then had she realized how, all the while, she had been
clinging to an indefinable hope, a presentiment that something might yet
occur to spare her from a long lifetime of pain, such as lay before her
if Guy were really lost; but the bubble had burst, leaving her nothing
to hope, nothing to cling to, nothing but black despair; and half
bewildered, she received the noisy greeting of Jessie, who met her at
the door, and dragged her into the drawing-room, decorated with flowers
from the hothouse, told her to guess who was coming.

“I know; Tom told me; Guy is coming with Lucy,” Maddy answered, and
relieving herself from Jessie, she turned to Agnes, asking where Mrs.
Noah was, and if she might go to her for a moment.

“Oh, Maddy, child, I’m sorry you’ve come to-day,” Mrs. Noah said, as
she chafed Maddy’s cold hands, and leading her to the fire, made her sit
down, while she untied her hood, and removed her cloak and furs.

“I did not know it, or I should have stayed away,” Maddy replied; “I
shall not stay, as it is. I cannot see them to-day. Charlie will drive
me back before the train is due; but what did he say? And how is Lucy?”
 “He did not mention her. There’s the dispatch” and Mrs. Noah handed
to Maddy the telegram, received that morning, and which was simply as
follows:

“The steamer is here. Shall be at the station at five o’clock P. M. GUY
REMINGTON.”

Twice Maddy read it over, experiencing much the same feeling she would
have experienced had it been her death warrant she was reading.

“At five o’clock. I must go before that,” she said, sighing as she
remembered how, one year ago that day, she was traveling over the very
route where Guy was now traveling with his bride. Did he think of it?
think of his long waiting at the depot, or of that memorable ride, the
events of which grew more and more distinct in her memory, making her
cheeks burn even now, as she recalled his many acts of tenderness and
care.

Laying the telegram on the table, she went with Mrs. Noah through the
rooms, warmed and made ready for the bride, lingering longest in Lucy’s,
which the bridal decorations, and the bright fire blazing in the grate
made singularly inviting. As yet, there were no flowers there, and Maddy
claimed the privilege of arranging them for this room herself. Agnes had
almost stripped the conservatory; but Maddy found enough to form a most
tasteful bouquet, which she placed upon a marble dressing table; then
within a slip of paper which she folded across the top, she wrote:
“Welcome to the bride.”

“They both will recognize my handwriting; they’ll know I’ve been here,”
 she thought, as with one long, last, sad look at the room, she walked
away.

They were laying the table for dinner now, and with a kind of dizzy,
uncertain feeling, Maddy watched the servants hurrying to and fro,
bringing out the choicest china, and the glittering silver, in honor of
the bride. Comparatively, it was not long since a little, frightened,
homesick girl, she first sat down with Guy at that table, from which
the proud Agnes would have banished her; but it seemed to her an age, so
much of happiness and pain had come to her since then. There was a place
for her there now, a place near Guy; but she should not fill it. She
could not stay; and she astonished Agnes and Jessie, just as they were
going to make their dinner toilet, by announcing her intention of going
home. She was not dressed to meet Mrs. Remington, she said, shuddering
as for the first time she pronounced a name which the servants had
frequently used, and which jarred on her ear, every time she heard it.
She was not dressed appropriately to meet an English lady. Flora of
course would stay, she said, as it was natural she should, to greet her
new mistress; but she must go, and finding Charlie Green she bade him
bring around the buggy.

Agnes was not particularly surprised, for a vague suspicion of something
like the truth had gradually been creeping into her brain, as she noted
Maddy’s pallid face, and the changes which passed over it whenever Guy
was mentioned. Agnes pitied Maddy, for in her own heart there was
a little burning spot, when she remembered who was to accompany Dr.
Holbrook. So she did not urge her to remain, and she tried to hush
Jessie’s lamentations when she heard Maddy was going.

One long, sad, wistful look at Guy’s and Lucy’s home, and Maddy followed
Charlie to the buggy waiting for her, bidding him drive rapidly, as
there was every indication of a coming storm.

The gray, wintry afternoon was drawing to a close, and the December
night was shutting down upon the Honedale hills in sleety rain, when the
cottage was reached, and Maddy, passing up the narrow, slippery walk,
entered the cold, dreary room, where there was neither fire nor light,
nor friendly voice to greet her. No sound save the ticking of the clock;
no welcome save the purring of the house cat, who came crawling at her
feet as she knelt before the stove and tried to kindle the fire. Charlie
Green had offered to go in and do this for her, as indeed he had offered
to return and stay all night, but she had declined, preferring to be
alone, and with stiffened fingers she laid the kindlings Flora had
prepared, and then applying the match, watched the blue flame as it
gradually licked up the smoke and burst into a cheerful blaze.

“I shall feel better when it’s warm,” she said, crouching over the fire,
and shivering with more than bodily cold.

There was a kind of nameless terror stealing over her as she at thinking
of the year ago when the inmates of three graves across the meadow were
there beneath that very roof where she now sat alone.

“I’ll strike a light,” she said, rising to her feet, and trying not to
glance at the shadowy corners filling her with fear.

The lamp was found, and its friendly beams soon dispersed the darkness
from the corners and the fear from Maddy’s heart, but it could not drive
from her mind thoughts of what might at that moment be transpiring at
Aikenside. If the bride and groom came at all that night, she knew
they must have been there for an hour or more, and in fancy she saw the
tired, but happy, Lucy, as up in her pleasant room she made her toilet
for dinner, with Guy standing by and looking on. Just as he had a right
to do. Did he smile approvingly upon his young wife? Did his eye, when
it rested on her, light up with the same expression she had seen so
often when it looked at her? Did he commend her taste and say his little
wife was beautiful, as he kissed her fair, white cheek, or was there a
cloud upon his handsome face, a shadow on his heart, heavy with thoughts
of her, and would he rather it were Maddy there in the bridal room? If
so, his burden was hard indeed, but not so hard as hers, and kneeling
on the floor, poor Maddy laid her head in the chair, and, ‘mid piteous
moans, asked God, her Father, to help them both to bear--help her and
Guy--making the latter love as he ought the gentle girl who had left
home and friends to live with him in a far-distant land; asked, too,
that she might tear from her heart every sinful thought, loving Guy only
as she might love the husband of another.

The prayer ended, Maddy still sat upon the floor, while over her pale
face the lamplight faintly flickered, showing the dark lines beneath
her eyes and the tear stains on her cheek. Without, the storm still was
raging, and the wintry rain, mingled with sleet and snow, beat piteously
against the curtained windows, while the wind howled mournfully as it
shook the door and sweeping past the cottage went screaming over the
hill. But Maddy heard nothing of the tumult. She had brought a pillow
from the bedroom, and placing it upon the chair, sat down again upon the
floor and rested her head upon it. She did not even know that her
pet cat had crept up beside her, purring contentedly and occasionally
licking her hair, much less did she hear above the storm the swift
tread of horses’ feet as some one came dashing down the road, the rider
pausing an instant as he caught a glimpse of the cottage lamp and
then hurrying on to the public house beyond, where the hostler frowned
moodily at being called out to care for a stranger’s horse, the stranger
meanwhile turning back a foot to where the cottage lamp shone a beacon
light through the inky darkness. The stranger reached the little gate
and, undoing the fastening, went hurrying up the walk, his step upon the
crackling snow catching Maddy’s ear at last and making her wonder who
could be coming there on such a night as this. It was probably Charlie
Green, she said, and with a feeling of impatience at being intruded upon
she arose to her feet just as the door turned upon its hinges, letting
in a powerful draught of wind, which extinguished the lamp and left her
in total darkness.

But it did not matter. Maddy had caught a sound, a peculiar cough, which
froze the blood in her veins and made her quake with terror quite as
much as if the footsteps hurrying toward her had been the footsteps
of the dead, instead of belonging, as she knew they did, to Guy
Remington--Guy, who, with garments saturated with rain, felt for her
in the darkness, found her where from faintness she had crouched again
beside the chair, drew her closely to him, in a passionate, almost
painful, hug, and said, oh! so tenderly, so lovingly:

“Maddy, my darling, my own! We will never be parted again.”



CHAPTER XXIII. -- LUCY.


Hours had gone by, and the clock hands pointed to twelve, ere Maddy
compelled herself to hear the story Guy had come to tell. She had thrust
him from her at first, speaking to him of Lucy, his wife, and Guy had
answered her back: “I have no wife--I never had one. Lucy is in heaven,”
 and that was all Maddy knew until the great shock had spent itself in
tears and sobs, which became almost convulsions as she tried to realize
the fact that Lucy Atherstone was dead; that the bridal robe about which
she had written, with girlish frankness, proved to be her shroud, and
that her head that night was not pillowed on Guy’s arm, but was resting
under English turf and beneath an English sky. She could listen at last,
but her breath came in panting gasps; while Guy told her how, on the
very morning of the bridal, Lucy had greeted him with her usual bright
smile, appearing and looking better than he had before seen her look
since he reached her mother’s home; how for an hour they sat together
alone in a little room sacred to her, because years before it was there
he confessed his love.

Seated on a low ottoman, with her golden head lying on his lap, she had
this morning told him, in her artless way, how much she loved him, and
how hard it sometimes was to make her love for the creature second to
her love for the Creator; told him she was not faultless, and asked
that when he found how erring and weak she was, he would bear with her
frailties as she would bear with his; talked with him, too, of Maddy
Clyde, confessing in a soft, low tone, how once or twice a pang of
jealousy had wrung her heart when she read his praises of his pupil. But
she had conquered that; she had prayed it all away, and now, next to her
own sister, she loved Maddy Clyde. Other words, too, were spoken--words
of guileless, pure affection, too sacred even for Guy to breathe to
Maddy; and then Lucy had left him, her hart-bounding step echoing
through the hall and up the winding stairs, down which she never came
again alive, for when Guy next looked upon her she was lying white as a
water lily, her neck and dress and golden hair stained with the pale
red life current oozing from her livid lips. A blood vessel had been
suddenly ruptured, the physician said, and for her, the fair, young
bride, there was no hope. They told her she must die, for the mother
would have them tell her. Once, for a few moments, there rested on her
face a fearfully frightened look, such as a harmless bird might wear
when suddenly caught in a snare. But that soon passed away as from
beneath the closed eyelids the great tears came gushing, and the stained
lips whispered faintly: “God knows best what’s right. Poor Guy!--break
it gently to him.”

At this point in the story Guy broke down entirely, sobbing as only
strong men can sob.

“Maddy,” he said, “I felt like a heartless wretch--a most consummate
hypocrite--as, standing by Lucy’s side, I met the fond, pitying glance
of her blue eyes, and suffered her poor little hand to part my hair
as she tried to comfort me, even though every word she uttered was
shortening her life; tried to comfort me, the wretch who was there so
unwillingly, and who at this prospect of release hardly knew at first
whether he was more sorry than pleased. You may well start from he in
horror, Maddy. I was just the wretch I describe: but I overcame it,
Maddy, and Heaven is my witness that no thought of you intruded itself
upon me afterward is I stood by my dying Lucy--gentle, patient, loving
to the last. I saw how good, how sweet she was, and something of the old
love, the boy love, came back to me, as I held her in my arms, where she
wished to be. I would have saved her if I could; and when I called her
‘my darling Lucy,’ they were not idle words. I kissed her many times for
myself, and once, Maddy, for you. She told me to. She whispered: ‘Kiss
me, Guy, for Maddy Clyde. Tell her I’d rather she should take my place
than anybody else--rather my Guy should call her wife--for I know she
will not be jealous if you sometimes talked of your dead Lucy, and I
know she will help lead my boy to that blessed home where sorrow never
comes.’ That was the last she ever spoke, and when the sun went down
death had claimed my bride. She died in my arms, Maddy. I felt the last
fluttering of her pulse, the last beat of her heart. I laid her back
upon her pillows. I wiped the blood from her lips and from her golden
curls. I followed her to her early grave. I saw her buried from my
sight, and then, Maddy, I started home; thoughts of you and thoughts of
Lucy blended equally together until Aikenside was reached. I talked with
Mrs. Noah; I heard all of you there was to tell, and then I talked with
Agnes, who was not greatly surprised, and did not oppose my coming here
tonight. I could not remain there, knowing you were alone. In the bridal
chamber I found your bouquet, with its ‘Welcome to the bride.’ Maddy,
you must be that bride. Lucy sanctioned it, and the doctor, too, for I
told him all. His own wedding was, of course, deferred, and he did not
come home with me, but he said: ‘Tell Maddy not to wait. Life is too
short to waste any happiness. She has my blessing.’ And, Maddy, it must
be so. Aikenside needs a mistress; you are all alone. You are mine--mine
forever.”

The storm had died away, and the moonbeams stealing through the window
told that morning was breaking, but neither Guy nor Maddy heeded
the lapse of time. Theirs was a sad kind of happiness as they talked
together, and could Lucy have listened to them she would have felt
satisfied that she was not forgotten. One long, bright curl, cut from
her head by his own hand, was all there was left of her to Guy, save the
hallowed memories of her purity and goodness--memories which would yet
mold the proud, impulsive Guy into the earnest, consistent Christian
which Lucy in her life had desired that he should be, and which Maddy
rejoiced to see him.



CHAPTER XXIV. -- FINALE.


The close of a calm September afternoon, and the autumnal sunlight falls
softly upon Aikenside, where a gay party is now assembled. For four
years Maddy Clyde has been mistress there, and in looking back upon them
she wonders how so much happiness as she has known could be experienced
in so short a time. Never but once has the slightest ripple of sorrow
shadowed her heart, and that was when her noble husband, Guy, said to
her, in a voice she knew was earnest and determined that he could no
longer remain deaf to his country’s call--that where the battle storm
was raging he was needed, and like a second Sardanapalus he must not
stay at home. Then for a brief season her bright face was overcast,
and her brown eyes dim with weeping. Giving him to the war seemed like
giving him up to death. But women can be as true heroes as men. Indeed,
it oftentimes costs more courage for a weak, confiding woman to bid her
loved ones leave her for the field of carnage than it costs them to
face the cannon’s mouth. Maddy found it so, but Christian patriotism
triumphed over all, and stifling her own grief, she sent him away
with smiles, and prayers, and cheering words of encouragement, turning
herself for consolation to the source from which she never sued for
peace in vain. Save that she missed her husband terribly, she was not
lonely, for her beautiful dark-eyed boy, whom they called Guy, Jr., kept
her busy, while not very many weeks afterward, Guy, Sr., sitting in his
tent, read with moistened eyes of a little golden-haired daughter, whom
Maddy named Lucy Atherstone, and gazed upon a curl of hair she inclosed
to the soldier father, asking if it were not like some other hair now
moldering back to dust within an English churchyard. “Maggie” said it
was, Aunt Maggie, as Guy, Jr., called the wife of Dr. Holbrook, who had
come to Aikenside to stay, while her husband did his duty as surgeon in
the army. That little daughter is a year-old baby now, and in her short
white dress and coral bracelets she sits neglected on the nursery floor,
while mother and Jessie, Maggie and everybody hasten out into the yard
to welcome the returning soldier, Major Guy, whose arm is in a sling,
and whose face is very pale from the effects of wounds received at
Gettysburg, where his daring courage had well-nigh won for Maddy a
widow’s heritage. For the present the arm is disabled, and so he has
been discharged, and comes back to the home where warm words of welcome
greet him, from the lowest servant up to his darling wife, who can only
look her joy as he folds her in his well arm, and kisses her beautiful
face. Only Margaret Holbrook seems a little sad, she had so wanted her
husband to come with Guy, but his humanity would not permit him to leave
the suffering beings who needed his care. Loving messages he sent to
her, and her tears were dried when she heard from Guy how greatly he was
beloved by the pale occupants of the beds of pain, and how much he was
doing to relieve their anguish.

Jessie, grown to be a most beautiful girl of nearly sixteen, is still
a child in actions, and wild with delight at seeing her brother again,
throws her arms around his neck, telling, in almost the same breath, how
proud she is of him, how much she wished to go to him when she heard
he was wounded, how she wishes she was a boy, so she could enlist, how
nicely Flora is married and settled down at the cottage in Honedale, and
then asks if he knows aught of the rebel colonel to whom just before the
war broke out her mother was married, and whose home was in Richmond.

Guy knows nothing of him, except that he is still doing what he deems
his duty in fighting for the Confederacy, but from exchanged prisoners,
who had come up from Richmond, he has heard of a beautiful lady, an
officer’s wife, and as rumor said, a Northern woman, who visited them in
prison, speaking kind words of sympathy, and once binding up a drummer
boy’s aching head with a handkerchief, which he still retained, and on
whose corner could be faintly traced the name of “Agnes Remington.”

Jessie’s eyes are full of tears as she says:

“Poor mamma, how glad I am I did not go to Virginia with her. It’s
months since I heard from her direct. Of course it was she who was so
good to the drummer boy. She cannot be much of a rebel,” and Jessie
glances triumphantly at Mrs. Noah, who, never having quite overcome her
dislike of Agnes, had sorely tried Jessie by declaring that her mother
“had found her level at last, and was just where she wanted to be.”

Good Mrs. Noah, the ancient man whose name she bore would as soon have
thought of leaving the Ark as she of turning a traitor to her country,
and when she heard of the riotous mob raised against the draft, she
talked seriously of going in person to New York “to give ‘em a piece of
her mind,” and for one whole day refused to speak to Flora’s husband,
because he was a “dum dimocrat,” and she presumed was opposed to
Lincoln. With the exception of Maddy, no one was more please to see Guy
than herself. He was her boy, the one she brought up, and with all a
mother’s fervor she kissed his bronzed cheek, and told him how glad she
was to have him back.

With his boy on his sound arm, Guy disengaged himself from the noisy
group and went with Maddy to where the little lady, the child he had
never seen, was just beginning to show signs of resentment at being left
so long alone.

“Lulu, sissy, papa’s come; this is papa,” the little boy cried, assuming
the honor of the introduction.

Lulu, as they called her, was not afraid of the tall soldier, and
stretching out her fat, white hands, went to him readily. Blue-eyed
and golden haired, she bore but little resemblance to either father or
mother, but there was a sweet, beautiful face, of which Maddy had often
dreamed, but never seen, and whether it were in the infantile features
of his little girl. Parting lovingly her yellow curls and kissing her
fair cheek, he said to Maddy, softly, just as he always spoke of that
dead one:

“Maddy, darling, Margaret Holbrook is right--our baby daughter is very
much like our dear lost Lucy Atherstone.”





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