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Some years ago, at a time when the rapid 
growth of the city was changing the character of 
many localities, two young men were sitting, one 
afternoon early in April, in the parlor of a house 
on one of those streets which, without having yet 
accomplished their destiny as business thorough- 
fares, were no longer the homes of the decorous 
ease that once inhabited them. The young men 
held their hats and canes in their hands, and they 
had that air of having just been admitted and of 
waiting to be received by the people of the house 
which rests gracefully only on persons of the other 
sex. One was tall and spare, and he sat stiffly ex- 
pectant; the other, who was much shorter and 
stouter, with the mature bloom which comes of 
good living and a cherished digestion, was more 
restless. As he rose from his chair, after a few 
moments, and went to examine some detail of the 
dim room, he moved with a quick, eager step, and 
with a stoop which suggested a connoisseur's habit 


of bending over and peering at things. He re- 
turned to his seat, and glanced round the parlor, as 
if to seize the whole effect more accurately. 

" So this is the home of the Pythoness, is it ? " 
he said. 

" If you like to call her a Pythoness," answered 
the other. 

" Oh, I don't know that I prefer it : I 'm quite 
willing to call her a test-medium. I thought per- 
haps Pythoness would respectfully idealize the busi- 
ness. What a queer, melancholy house, what a 
queer, melancholy street I I don't think I was ever 
in a street before where quite so many professional 
ladies, with English surnames, preferred Madam to 
Mrs. on their door-plates. And the poor old place 
has such a desperately conscious air of going to the 
deuce. Every house seems to wince as you go bj'^, 
and button itself up to the chin for fear you should 
find out it had no shirt on, — so to speak. I don't 
know what 's the reason, but these material tokens 
of a social decay afflict me terribly : a tipsj^ woman 
is n't dreadf uUer than a haggard old house, that 's 
once been a home, in a street like this." 

" The street 's going the usual way," said the 
other. " It will be all business in a few years." 

" But in the mean time it causes me inexpressi- 
ble anguish, and it will keep doing it. If I know 
where there 's a thorn, I can't help going up and 
pressing my waistcoat against it. I foresee that I 
shall keep coming. This parlor alone is jDoignant 
enough to afford me the most rapturous pain ; it 


pierces my soul. This tawdry red velvet wall- 
paper ; the faded green reps of that sofa ; those 
family photographs in their oval papier-mache 
frames ; that round table there in the corner, with 
its subscription litei'ature and its tin-type albums ; 
and this frantic tapestry carpet ! I know now why 
the ghost-seers affect this sort of street and this sort 
of parlor : the spirits can't resist the deadly fasci- 
nation ! No ghost, with any strength of character, 
could keep away. I suppose that this apartment is 
swarming, now, with disembodied ladies and gen- 
tlemen of the first distinction. Well, I like your 
going into this. I respect everybody's superstition 
— except my own ; I can't respect that, you know." 

" Do you think I believe in these people's rub- 
bish ? " 

" I did n't know. A man must believe in some- 
thing. I could n't think of anything else you be- 
lieved in. I'm not sure I don't believe in it a trifle, 
myself : my nerves do. May I ask why you come 
here, if you refuse the particular rubbish afforded 
by the establishment ? You're not a curious man." 

" Why did you come ? " 

"You asked me. Besides, I have no occasion 
for a reason. I am an emotional, not a rational 
being, as I 've often told you." 

The taller man laughed dryly. "Very well, 
then, you don't need a reason from me. You can 
wait and see wli}^ I came." 

The short man gave a shrug. " I hope I shan't 
have to wait long. An emotional being has a right 
to be unreasonably impatient." 


A light sound of hesitating steps made, itself 
heard in the next room; the two men remained 
silent, and presently one of the partition doors was 
rolled back, and a tall young girl in a somewhat 
theatrical robe of white serge, with a pale green 
scarf on her shoulders, appeared at the threshold. 
Her beautiful, serious face had a pallid quiet, bro- 
ken by what seemed the unnatural alertness of her 
blue eyes, which glanced quickly, like those of a 
child too early obliged to suspect and avert ; her 
blonde hair, which had a plastic massiveness, was 
drawn smoothly back from her temples, and lay 
heaped in a heavy coil on her neck, where its rich 
abundance showed when she turned her profile 
away, as if to make sure that some one was follow- 
ing in the room behind her. A door opened and 
closed there, and she came on towards the two men, 
who had risen. At sight of the taller of the two, she 
halted, while an elderly gentleman hurried forward, 
with a bustling graciousness, and offered him his 
small, short hand. Pie had the same fair complexion 
as the girl, but his face was bright and eager ; his 
thin, light hair was wavy and lustreless ; he looked 
hardly so tall as she. He had a mouth of delicacy 
and refinement, and a smile of infantine sweetness. 

" Ah, you 've really come," he said, shaking the 
young man's hand cordially. "So many people 
manifest an interest in our public stances, and then 
let the matter drop without going any further. I 
don't know whether I presented you to my daugh- 
ter, the other day, Mr. Ford ? " 


Ford bowed gravely to tlie girl, who slightly re- 
turned his obeisance. " Let me introduce Mr. 
Phillips, Dr. Boynton, — a friend whom I ventured 
to bring with me." 

" Very glad to see you, Mr. Phillips. I was about 
to say — Oh ! my daughter, Mr. Phillips, Miss 
Egeria Boynton. Take seats, gentlemen — I was 
about to say that one of the most curious facts con- 
nected with the phenomena is the ardor with which 
people take the matter up on first acquaintance, 
and the entire indifference with which they let it 
drop. In our line of life, Mr. Phillips, as public 
exhibitors, we often have occasion to note this. It 
seldom happens but half a dozen persons come to 
me at the close of a seance, and ask earnestly for 
the privilege of pursuing their investigations with 
the aid of my daughter's mediumship. But these 
persons rarely call ; I rarely see them at a second 
public stance, even. If I had not such abiding 
hopes of the phenomena myself, T should sometimes 
feel discouraged by the apathy and worse than 
apathy with which they are received, not the first, 
but the second time. You must excuse my expres- 
sion of surprise at first greeting you, Mr. Ford, — 
you must indeed. It was but too natural under 
the circumstances." 

" By all means," answered Ford. " I never 
thought of not coming. But I can't promise that 
you '11 find me a ready believer." 

" Precisely," returned the other. " That is the 
very mood in which I could have wished you to 


come. I am myself, as I tliink I told you, merely 
an inquirer. In fact " — Dr. Boynton leaned for- 
ward, with his small, plump hands extended, as if 
the more conveniently to round his periods, but ar- 
rested himself, in the explanation he was about to 
make, at something ]Mr. Phillips was saying to his 

" I could n't help being interested in the charac- 
ter of your parlor, before you came in, Miss Boyn- 
ton. These old Boston houses all have so much 
character. It 's surprising what good taste people 
had fifty or sixty years ago, — the taste of the Fiist 
Empire. That cornice is very pretty, — very sim- 
ple and very refined, neither glutted nor starved in 
design ; and that mantel, — how refreshing those 
sane and decent straight lines are after the squirms 
and wriggles of subsequent marble ! I don't know 
that I should have chosen urns for an ornament to 
the corners ; but we must not forget that we are 
mortal ; and there are cinerary associations with 

Miss Boynton said nothing in return for this 
speech, the full sense of which had perhaps not 
quite reached her. She stared blankly at Phillips, 
to whom her father turned with his most winning 
smile. " An artist ? " asked Dr. Boynton. 

" A sufferer in the cause of art," returned Phil- 
lips with ironical pathos. 

" Ah ! A connoisseur," said the doctor. 

" The fact is," said Phillips, " I was finding the 
modern equipment of your old-fashioned parlor in- 


tolerable, as you came in. You won't mind my 
not liking your landlady's taste, Miss Boynton?" 
he demanded with suave ingratiation. 

Miss Boynton looked about the room, as if she 
had not seen it before. " It is ugly," she answered 
quietly. " But -it does as well as any." 

"Yes," her father eagerly interposed, " better 
than any other room in any other house in any other 
quarter of the city. We are still, as I may say, gen- 
tlemen, feeling our way towards what we believe a 
sublime truth. My daughter's development is yet 
so recent, so incomplete, that we must not reject any 
furthering influences, however humble, however dis- 
agreeable. It is not by our own preference that we 
are here. I know, as well as you do, that this is a 
street inhabited by fortune-tellers and charlatans of 
low degree. For that very reason I have taken 
our lodgings here. The element, the atmosphere, of 
simple, unquestioning faith brought into this vicin- 
ity by the dupes of these people is, unknown to them, 
of the highest use, the most vital advantage, to us in 
our present attempt. At the same time, I should 
not, I could not in candor, deny to these pretenders 
themselves a beneficial, a highly — I may call it — 
evolutionary, influence upon my daughter. We 
desire no personal acquaintance with them. But 
they are of the old tradition of supernaturalism, — 
a tradition as old as nature, — and we cannot afford 
to reject the favor of the tradition which they rep- 
resent. You will understand that, gentlemen. We 
cannot say. We hold — or we trust we hold — 


communion with spirits, and yet deny that there is 
something in second-sight, divination, or whatever 
mysteries these people pretend to. In some sort, 
we must psychologically ally ourselves with them. 
They are, no doubt, for the most part and in most 
cases, shameless swindlers ; but ii, seems to be a 
condition of our success that we shall not deny — 
I don't say that we shall believe — the fact of an 
occult power in some of them. Their neighbor- 
hood was very repulsive at first, and still is meas- 
urably so ; but we accept it, and have found it of 
advantage. We are mere experimenters, as yet, 
and claim nothing except that my daughter is the 
medium, the instrument, of certain phenomena 
which tve can explain only in one way ; we do not 
dispute the different explanations of others. In 
the course of our investigations, we neglect no the- 
ory, however slight, that may assist us. Now, in 
so simple a matter as dress, even : we have found by 
repeated experiment that the manifestations have 
a greater affinity for white than any other color. 
This may point to some hidden truth — I don't 
say — in the old-fashioned ghost-stories, where the 
spectre always appears in white. At any rate, we 
think it worth while that my daughter should wear 
white, in both her public and her private s(3ances, 
for the present. And green, — just now we seem 
to find a good effect in pale green, Mr. Phillips, 
pale green." 

" If I may say it without impertinence to Miss 
Boynton's father, in my character of connoisseur," 


said Phillips, with a bow for the young girl, which 
he delivered to the doctor, " I think the effect is 
very good indeed." 

" Ah ! yes, yes ! " cried the doctor. " In that 
sense. I see. Very good. However, I meant " — 
Dr. Boynton paused, bending on either visitor an 
exquisite smile of child-like triumph. A series of 
light taps, beginning with a sound like a straining of 
the wood, and then separating into a sharper stac- 
cato, was heard at different points in the room, 
chiefly on the table, and on the valves of the sliding 
doors. Phillips gave a little nervous start. Ford 
remained indifferent, but for the slow movement of 
his eyes in the direction of the young girl, who bent 
an appealing look on her father. The doctor lifted 
a hand to invoke attention; the raps died away. 
" Giorgione, I presume. Will you ask, Egeria? " 

She hesitated. Then, in a somewhat tremulous 
voice, she demanded, " Is it you, Giorgione ? " A 
light shower of raps instantly responded. A thrill 
of strong excitement visibly passed over the girl, 
who clutched one hand with the other, and seemed 
to stay herself by a strong effort of will in her place 
on the sofa. 

" Calmly, my daughter, calmly ! " said Dr. Boyn- 
ton, making a certain restraining gesture towards 
her. " Yes, it is Giorgione. He can never keep 
away when color is mentioned. Very celebrated 
for his coloring, I am told, when alive. A Vien- 
nese painter, I believe, Mr. Phillips." 

" Venetian," answered Phillips, abstractedly. 


He recalled himself, and added -with a forced light- 
ness, " But I don't know that I can advise you to 
trust the professions of our rapping and tapping 
friend ; there are so few genuine Giorgiones." A 
brisk volley of taps discharged upon the wall di- 
rectly behind Phillips's head caused him to turn 
abruptly and stare hard at the place. 

" Oh, you can't see it, Phillips," said Ford, with 
a spare laugh of derision. 

" No," said Dr. Boynton, sweetly, " you can't 
see it. At least, not yet. But if our experiments 
progress as favorably as they have for the last six 
months, we may hope before a great while to ren- 
der the invisible agencies of these sounds as sensi- 
ble to sight as to hearing. Don't disturb yourself, 
Mr. Phillips. Mere playfulness, I assure you. 
They never inflict any real injury." While he 
spoke the raps renewed themselves here and there 
upon the woodwork, into the fibre of which they 
seemed at last to reenter, and died away in the sort 
of straining with which they began. "Egeria," 
said the doctor, turning impressively towards his 
daughter, " it seems to me the conditions are un- 
commonly propitious, this afternoon. I think we 
may look for something of a very remarkable 
chai-acter." He glanced at the clock on the mantel, 
and confronted his visitors with a smiling face of 
apology. " Gentlemen, I suppose you came for a 
stance. My interest in the matter has betrayed 
me into remarks that have taken up too much of 
your time," 


" I came with the hope of seeing some further 
proofs of your skill," said Ford ; " but if there is 
anything " — 

" Oh, no, no, no ! Not at all, not at all ! " hastily 
interrupted the doctor, with a deprecatory wave of 
his hand. "But — ah — I hardly know how to 
put it. The fact is, I am anxious for investigation 
by gentlemen of your intelligence, and I should 
very much dislike to postpone you — Our landlady, 
who is a medium of note in her way, — she has 
lately come to Boston from the West, — had ar- 
ranged this afternoon for a stance with a number 
of persons rather more grounded in the belief than 
yourselves, and " — 

The young men rose. " We won't detain you," 
said Ford. " We can come another time." 

" No, no ! Wait ! " Dr. Boynton waved them 
to their seats again, which they provisionally re- 
sumed, and turned to his daughter. " Egeria, I 
think I may venture to ask these gentlemen to join 
our friends ? " 

" There 's no reason why they should n't stay, if 
they like," said the girl, impassively. 

" We should be delighted," exclaimed Phillips, 
"if you'll let us! I'm so little used to ghosts," 
he said, glancing round at the walls and tables 
with an apprehensiveness which was perhaps not 
altogether affected, " that, for my part, I should 
rather like plenty of company, Miss Boynton, — if 
Messer Giorgione won't take it amiss." 

" Ah, very good ! " interposed her father. " Very 


good, indeed. Ha ! Why I hesitated was that the 
sort of experiment to be tried this afternoon requires 
conditions, concessions, that I thought you might 
not care to offer, gentlemen. I wish to be perfectly 
frank with you ; what you will see might be pro- 
duced by trickery, especially in a company of ten 
or a dozen persons, some of whom could be in 
collusion with the medium. I pass no judgment 
upon a certain order of phenomena in their present 
stage of development, but I make it a rule, myself, 
measurably to distrust all manifestations occurring 
in the presence of more than three persons besides 
the medium. Still, if you will do us the honor to 
remain, I can promise you something very curious 
and interesting, — something novel in the present 
phase of supernatui*alism ; nothing less than appari- 
tions, gentlemen, or, as we call them, materializa- 
tions. You have heard, perhaps, of these material- 
izations ? " 

" Yes," said Ford indifferently, " I have heard of 

" Mrs. Le Roy — our landlady — has made an 
eclectic study of the materializations of several other 
mediums, and she has succeeded, or claims to have 
succeeded, not only in reproducing them, but in 
calling about her many of the principal apparitions 
who visit the original stances. If you are not 
familiar with apparitions you may find it interest- 

" Really, Dr. Boynton," said Phillips, " do you 
mean that I shall see my friend Giorgione perform- 
ing that sort of tattoo on your wall-paper ? " 


" Not exactly," urbanely responded Dr. Boynton. 
" No, It 's a curious feature of the manifestations 
that the audible spirits are never seen, and that 
those rendered visible by the new development of 
materialization are invariably mute. But in a dark 
seance to follow the materializations, my daugh- 
ter " — 

Egeria rose from her place on the sofa and moved 
toward her father, who^ alarmed at some expression 
of her face, started to his feet to encounter her. 
She laid her arms with a beseeching gesture on his 
shoulder. " Father, father ! Give it up for to-day, 
do ! I can't go through with it. I am weak — 
sick ; I have no strength left. Everything is gone." 

" Why, Egeria ! My poor girl ! Excuse me, gen- 
tlemen : I will be with you in a moment." He cast 
a sustaining arm about her slim shape, and with the 
other hand pushed open one of the sliding doors, 
and disappeared with her from the room beyond. 

The men remained in a silence which Ford had 
apparently no intention of breaking. " Upon the 
whole," said Phillips, at last, " this is rather pain- 
ful. Miss Boynton is very much like some other 
young ladies — for a Pythoness. I should like to 
see the dark stance, — if I may express myself so 
inconsequently, — but really I hope the old gentle- 
man will give it up, as she suggested." 

" Don't flatter yourself," said Ford, gloomily. 
" The thing 's just beginning." 

" Ford, I don't see how you have the heart to 
take your attitude towards these people," returned 


the other. " It was shockmg to stand on the defen- 
sive against the girl, as if she were an impostor. 
She 's a person you might help to escalloped oysters 
or ice-cream at an evening J)arty, and not expect to 
talk half so magnificently as she looked. The man 
believes in himself, and it is your ironical attitude 
which annuls the honesty in him. That sort of 
thing kills any amount of genuineness in people." 

" Very likely," assented Ford. " He 's coming 
back presently to say that our sphere — attitude, 
you call it ; Jiis quackery has a different nomen- 
clature — has annulled his daughter's power over 
the spirits." 

Phillips went up to examine the mantel -piece 
again. " Well, why not ? " 

" Certainly, why not ? If you grant the one, 
there 's no trouble about granting the other." 

" What do you make of what we heard ? " 

" Nothing." 

" You heard it ? " 

" I hear clatter any time I wake in the night. 
But I don't attribute it to disembodied spirits on 
that account." 

" Why not ? " 

" Because there are no disembodied spirits, for 
one thing." 

" Ah, I 'm not so sure of that," said Phillips, 
with sprightly generosity. 

" Really ? You doubt everything." 

" That 's very well, — but I suppose you mean 
anything. I prefer to keep an open mind. I don't 


snub ghosts, for I think I may be one myself, some 

As he spoke the door-bell rang, and in the inter- 
val between the ringing of the bell and the slow re- 
sponse of the servant. Dr. Boynton reentered, rub- 
bing his hands and smihng. " Sorry to have been 
obliged to leave you, gentlemen," he said. " You 
have witnessed, however, one of the most interest- 
ing phases of this mystery : mystery, I call it, for 
I'm as much in the dark about it as yourselves. 
My daughter felt so deeply the dissenting, the per- 
haps incredulous, mood — sphere — of one of you 
that she quite succumbed to it. Don't be alarmed ! 
In an ordinary medium it would be an end of every- 
thing for the time being, but she will take part in 
the seance, all the same, to-day. I have been able 
to reinforce my daughter's powers by a gift — we 
will call it a gift — of my own. In former years I 
looked quite deeply into mesmerism, and I have 
never quite disused the practice of it, as a branch 
of my profession, — I am a physician. My wife, who 
has been dead my daughter's whole life," — an ex- 
pression of pain, curious with refei'ence to the eager 
brightness of the man's wonted aspect, passed over 
the speaker's face, — " was a very impressible sub- 
ject of mine, and in her childhood Egeria was so. 
Since we have discovered what seems her power as 
a medium, I have found the mesmeric force — the 
application of exterior will — of the greatest use 
in sustaining her against the exhaustion she would 
otherwise incur from the many conflicting influences 


she is subject to. I can't regret — I rejoice, in fact 
— that this phenomenon has occurred as it has oc- 
curred. It will enable me to present in her to-day 
the united action of those strange forces, equally 
occult, the mesmeric and the spiritistic. I have just 
left my daughter in a complete mesmeric trance, 
and you will see — you will see " — 

He broke off abruptly, and went forward to meet 
a gentleman and lady, apparently two of the ex- 
pected guests of Mrs. Le Roy. He greeted them 
with gay warmth as Mr. and Mrs. Merrifield, and 
was about to share their acquaintance with Ford 
and Phillips, when a tall man, with pale blue eyes 
and a thin growth of faded hair, of a like harshness 
on crown and chin, interrupted him with a solemnly 
proffered hand. " Why, Weatherby," said the doc- 
tor, shaking his hand, "I didn't hear j^ou ring." 

" I found the girl still at the door, and had no oc- 
casion to ring," said Mr. Weatherby. 

" Right, right, — quite right ! " returned Dr. Boyn- 
ton. " Glad to see you. Mr. Weatherby, Mr. Ford 
and Mr. Phillips, — inquirers. Mr. Weatherby is 
known among us, gentlemen, for powers which he 
is developing in the direction of levitation." Mr. 
Weatherby silently shook hands, regarding Phil- 
lips and Ford meantime with a remote keenness of 
glance, and then took a seat in a corner, with an 
air of established weariness, as if he had found levi- 
tation heavy work. 

Dr. Boynton continued to receive his guests, and 
next introduced to the strangers a large, watery- 


eyed man with a mottled face and reddish hair : 
" Mv. Eccles, — an inquirer like yourselves, gen- 
tlemen, but in a different spirit. Mr. Eccles has no 
doubt of the nature of the manifestations, bnt he 
is investigating the subject with a view — with a 
view " — Dr. Boynton looked for help to the 
gentleman whose position he was trying to state, 
and the latter came to his aid with a vigorous alac- 
rity which was accented by the lavish display of an 
upper and lower set of artificial teeth. 

" With a view to determine whether something 
cannot be done to protect us against the assumption 
by inferior spirits of the identity of the better class 
of essences. There are doubtless laws of the spirit- 
life, could we invoke them aright, which would hold 
these unruly masqueraders in check. I am endeav- 
oring to study the police system — if I may use the 
expression — of the other world. For I am satisfied 
that until we have learned to appeal to the proper 
authorities against these pretenders, we shall get 
nothing of value from the manifestations. At pres- 
ent it seems to me that in most cases the phenomena 
are held in contempt by all respectable spirits. This 
deplorable state of things has resulted, I have no 
doubt, in great degree from the hostile manner in 
which investigation of the phenomena has been pur- 
sued in the material world." 

" Yes," said Ford, " that 's an interesting point. 

My friend, here, was just speaking of some things 

of the sort before you came in. He mentioned the 

disadvantage to the medium of what he called the 



ironical attitude ; be contends that it makes them 

"No doubt, no doubt," replied Mr. Eccles. "But 
its effect upon the approximating spiritual sphere 
is still worse. It drives from that sphere all candid 
and sober-minded spirits, and none but frivolous 
triflers remain. Are you a believer in the phenom- 
ena, Mr. — ah — PhilHps ? " 

" I am scarcely even a witness of them yet," 
said Philhps. " But as a mere speculative observer, 
I don't see why one should n't come as worshipfully 
minded to a stance as to a church." 

"Precisely, precisel}'', sir," assented Mr. Eccles. 
" And yet I cannot say that a seance is exactly a 
religious service. No, it partakes rather of a dual 
nature. It will doubtless be elevated in character, 
as the retro- and inter-acting influences improve. 
But at present it is a sort of informal reception at 
which friends from both worlds meet and commin- 
gle in social intercourse ; in short, a kind of bi- 
mundane — bi-mundane " — 

" Kettle-drum," suggested Ford. 

"Ah!" breathed Mr. Eccles. He folded his 
arms, and set his artificial teeth to smile displeas- 
ure upon Ford's impassible face. Anything that 
he may have been going to say farther was cut 
short by the approach of a gentleman, at sight of 
whom his smile relaxed nothing of its displeasure. 

" Hello ! Hew do, Eccles ? " said the new-comer, 
gayly. He was a sliort and slight man, and he 
planted himself in front of Mr. Eccles upon his 


very small, squarely stepping feet. Whatever may 
have been the temperament of the invisible pres- 
ences, those in the flesh were, with the exception 
of this gentleman, not at all lively : they were, in 
fact, of serious countenance and low spirits ; and 
they were evidently glad of this co-religionist wlio 
could take their common beHef so cheerfully. He 
had come in the last, and he had been passing a 
light word with this one and that, before sahiting 
Mr. Eccles, who alone seemed not glad to see him. 
He was dressed in a smart business suit, whose fash- 
ionableness was as much at variance with the pre- 
vailing dress of the company as his gayety with 
its prevailing solemnity. 

" How are you ? " he said, looking up into Mr. 
Eccles's dental smile. " Going to get after those 
scamps again ? Well, I 'm glad of it. Behaved 
shamefully at Mrs. Merrifield's, the other night ; 
knocked the chairs over and flung the flowers 
about, — ridiculous ! If they can't manage better 
than that, a man might as well go to a democratic 
ward meeting when he dies. Ah, doctor ! " 

Dr. Boynton approached from the other room, 
which had been closed, and on which he again shut 
the rolling doors. " Mr. Hatch ! " said the doctor 
radiantly, while he pressed the other's hand in both 
his own, and made a rose-bud of his mouth. " You 
just complete our list. Glad to see you.'' 

" Thanks, much ! " said Mr. Hatch. " Where 's 
Miss Egeria ? " 

"In a moment," replied the doctor mysteriously. 


Then he turned to the company, and said in a for- 
mal tone, " As we are all here, now, friends, we 
won't delay any farther." He advanced and flung 
open the doors to the back parlor, discovering, in 
the middle of the room, a common extension din- 
ing-table, draped merely with so much of a striped 
turkey-red supper cloth as would fall over the edge 
and partly conceal the legs. The top of the table 
was pierced by a hole some ten or twelve inches 
square, and over this hole was set a box, open on 
one side, and lined with black velvet ; a single gas 
jet burned at a half light overhead. 

" Now, if you will take seats, ladies and gentle- 
men ! " said Dr. Boynton. " Mrs. Merrifield, will 
you sit on my right, so as to be next my daughter ? 
And Mr. Phillips on my left, here ? And you, Mr. 
Ford, on Miss Smiley's left, next to Mr. Eccles ? 
Mr. Hatch, take your place between those two la- 
dies " — 

" I 'm there, doctor, every time," said Mr. Hatch, 
promptly obeying. 

"I must protest at the outset. Dr. Boynton," 
began Mr. Eccles, " against this sort of " — 

" Beg pardon. You 're right, Eccles," said 
Hatch, "I won't do it any more. But when I get 
down at a table like this, I feel gay, and I can't 
help running over a little. But no spilling 's the 
word, now. Do we join hands, doctor, comme a 
V ordinaire ? " 

" Yes, all join hands, please," answered the doctor. 

" Well, I want these ladies to promise not to 


squeeze my hands, either of them," said Hatch. 
The ladies laughed, and Mr. Eccles, relinquishing 
the hands of the persons next him, made a move- 
ment to rise, in which he was met by an imploring 
downward wave of Dr. Boynton's hand. 

" Please, Mr. Eccles, remain. Mr. Hatch, I may 
trust your kindness ? Miss Merrill, will you sing 
— ah — something ? " 

A small, cheerful lady, on the sunny side of 
thirty, with a pair of spectacles gleaming on her 
amiable nose, responded to this last appeal. " I 
think we had better all sing, doctor." 

" I have a theory in wishing you to sing alone," 
said the doctor. 

"Oh, very well!" Miss Merrill acquiesced. 
" Have you any preference ? " 

" No. Anything devotional." 

" Maiden's' Prayer, Miss Merrill," suggested 

This overcast Mr. Eccles again, but Miss Merrill 
took the fun in good part, and laughed. 

" I don't believe you know anything about devo- 
tional music, Mr. Hatch," she said. 

" That 's so. My repertoire is out already," 
owned Hatch. 

Miss Merrill raised her spectacles thoughtfully to 
the ceiling, and after a moment began to sing Flee 
as a Bird to your Mountain, in a sweet contralto. 
As the thrilling tones filled the room all other 
sounds were quelled ; the circle at the table became 
motionlessly silent, and the long sighing breath of 


the listeners alone made itself heard in the pauses 
of the singing. Before the words died away, a 
draught of cold air struck across the room, and 
through the door at the head of the table, which 
unclosed mysteriously, as if blown open by the 
wind, a figure in white was seen in the passage 
without. It drifted nearer, and with a pale green 
scarf over her shoulders Egeria softly and waver- 
ingly entered the room. Her face was white, and 
her eyes had the still, sightless look of those who 
walk in their sleep. She advanced, and sank into 
the chair between her father and Mrs. Merrifield, 
and at the same moment that groaning and strain- 
ing sound was heard, as if in the fibres of the 
wood ; and then the sounds grew sharper and more 
distinct, and a continuous rapping seemed to cover 
the whole surface of the table, with a noise like 
that of heavy clots of snow driving against a win- 
dow pane. 

As Egeria took the chair left vacant for her, it 
could be seen that another had also found a place in 
the circle. This was a very large, dark woman of 
some fifty years, who silently saluted some of the 
company, half withdrawing from their sight as she 
sat down next to Mrs. Merrifield, behind the box. 

Egeria remained staring blankly before her for a 
moment. Then she said in a weary voice, " They 
are here." 

" Who are, my daughter?" demanded her father. 

In a long sigh, " Legion," she responded. 

" We may thank Mr. Hatch for the company we 


are in," Mr. Eccles broke oat resentfully. " I have 
protested " — 

" Patience, — a little patience, Mr. Eccles ! " im- 
plored Dr. Boynton. Then, without changing his 
polite tone, " Look again, Egeria," he said. "• Are 
they all evil?" 

" Their name is legion," wearily answered the 
girl, as before. 

" Yes, yes, Egeria. They always come at first. 
But is there no hope of help against them ? Look 
again, — look carefully." 

" The innumerable host " — 

" I knew it, — I knew it ! " exulted the doctor. 

" Disperses them," said the girl, and lapsed into 
a silence which she did not break again. 

At a sign from the large woman, who proved to 
be Mrs. Le Roy, Dr. Boynton said, " Will you sing 
again. Miss Merrill ? " 

Miss Merrill repeated the closing stanza of the 
hymn she had already sung. 

While she sang, flitting gleams of white began 
to relieve themselves against the black interior of 
the box. They seemed to gather shaj)e and sub- 
stance ; as the singing ceased, the little hand of a 
child moved slowly back and forth in the gloom. 

A moan broke from one of the women. " Oh, I 
hope it 's for me ! " she quavered. 

They began, one after another, to ask, " Is it for 
me?" the hand continuing to wave softly to and 
fro. When it came the turn of this woman, the 
hand was violently agitated ; she burst into tears. 
" It 's my Lily, my darling little Lily." 


The apparition beckoned to the speaker. 

" You can touch it," said the doctor. 

The woman bent over the table, and thrust her 
hand into the box ; the apparition melted away ; 
a single fragrant tuberose was flung upon the ta- 
ble. " Oh, oh ! " sobbed the woman. " My Lily's 
favorite flower ! She always liked snow-drops above 
everything, because they came the first thing in the 
spring. Oh, to think she can come to me, — to 
know that she is living yet, and can never die ! I 'm 
sure I felt her little hand an instant, — so smooth 
and soft, so cold ! " 

" They always seem to be cold," philosophized 
Boynton. " A more exquisite vitality coming in 
contact with our own would naturally give the sen- 
sation of cold. But you must sit down, now, Mrs. 
Blodgett," added the doctor, kindly. " Look I 
There is another hand." 

A large wrinkled hand, like that of an elderly 
woman, crept tremulously through the opening of 
the box, sank, and then creeping upward again laid 
its fingers out over the edge of the opening. No 
one recognized it, and it would have won no gen- 
eral acclaim if Mrs. Merrifield had not called at- 
tention to the lace which encircled the wrist ; she 
caught a bit of this between her thumb and finger, 
and detained it a moment while the other ladies 
bent over and examined it. There was but one 
voice ; it was rual lace. 

One hand after another now appeared in the box, 
some of them finding a difficulty in making their 


way up through the aperture, which had been 
formed by cutting across in the figure of an X the 
black cloth which had lined the bottom of the box, 
and which now hung down in triangular flaps. 
The slow and feeble effort of the apparitions to 
free themselves from these dangling pieces of cloth 
heightened their effectiveness. From time to time 
a hand violently responded to the demand from 
one of the circle, " Is it for me ? " and several per- 
sons were allowed to place their hands in the box 
and touch the materializations. These persons tes- 
tified that they felt a distinct pressure from the 
spectral hands. 

" Would you like to try, Mr. Phillips ?" politely 
asked the doctor. 

" Thanks, yes," said Phillips, after a hesitation. 
He put his hand into the box : the apparitional 
hand, apparently that of a young girl, dealt him a 
flying touch, and vanished. Phillips nervously 
withdrew his hand. 

" Did you feel it? " inquired Dr. Boynton. 

" Yes," answered Phillips. 

" Oh, what was it like ? Was n't it smooth and 
soft and cold ? " demanded the mother of the first 

" Yes," said Phillips ; " it was a sensation like 
the touch of a kid glove." 

" Oh, of course, of course ! " Mr. Eccles burst out, 
in a sort of scornful groan. " A stuffed glove ! 
If we are to approach the investigation in this 
spirit " — 


" I beg your pardon ? " said Phillips, inquiringly. 

" I 'm sure," interposed Dr. Boynton, " that Mr. 
Phillips, whom I have had the honor of introduc- 
ing to this circle, has intended nothing but a bona 
fide description of the sensation he experienced." 

" I don't understand," said Phillips. 

" You were not aware, then," pursued the doc- 
tor, " that there have been attempts to impugn the 
character of these and similar materializations, — 
in fact, to prove that these hands are merely 
stuffed gloves, mechanically operated ? " 

" Not at all ! " cried Phillips. 

" I was certain of your good feeling, your deli- 
cacy," said the doctor. " We will go on, friends." 

But the apparitions had apparently ceased, while 
the raps, which had been keeping up a sort of des- 
ultory, telegraphic tattoo throughout, when not 
actively in use as a means of conversation Math the 
disembodied presences, suddenly seemed to cover 
the whole surface of the table with their detona- 

" The materializations are over," said Mrs. Le 
Roy, speaking for the first time. Her voice, small 
and thin, oddly contrasted with her physical bulk. 

" Oh, pshaw, Mrs. Le Roy ! " protested Hatch, 
" don't give it up, that way. Come ! I want Jim. 
Ladies, join me in loud cries for Jim." 

Several of the ladies beset Mrs. Le Roy, who at 
last yielded so far as to ask if Jim were present. 
A sharp affirmative rap responded, and after an 
interval, during which the spectators peered anx- 


ionsly into the dark box, a sort of dull fumbling 
was beard, and another materialization was evi- 
dently in progress. 

" You can't see the band of a gentleman of Jim's 
complexion against that black cloth," said Hatch, 
rising. " Lend me your handkerchiefs, ladies. 
James has a salt and sullen rheum offends him." 

Several ladies made haste to offer their handker- 
chiefs, and, leaning over, Hatch draped them about 
the bottom of the box. The flaps were again agi- 
tated, and a large black hand showed itself dis- 
tinctly against the white ground formed by the 
handkerchiefs. It was hailed with a burst of ec- 
stasy from all those who seemed to be frequenters 
of these seances, and it wagged an awkward salu- 
tation to the comj^any. 

" Good for you, good for you, James ! " said 
Hatch, approvingly. " Rings ? Wish to adorn 
your person, James?" he continued. The hand 
gesticulated an imaginable assent to this proposal, 
and Hatch gravely said, " Your rings, ladies." A 
half dozen were passed to him, and he contrived, 
with some trouble, to slip them on the fingers of 
the hand, which continually moved itself, in spite 
of many caressing demands from the ladies (with 
whom Jim was apparently a favorite spectre) that 
he would hold still, and Hatch's repeated admoni- 
tion that he should moderate his transports. When 
the rings were all in place, the hand was still dis- 
satisfied, as it seemed, and beckoned toward Egeria. 
" Want Miss Boynton's ring ? " asked Hatch. 


The girl gave a start, involuntarily laying hold 
of the ring, and Dr. Boynton said instantly, " He 
cannot have it. The ring was her mother's." 
This drew general attention to Miss Boynton's 
ring : it was what is called a marchioness ring, and 
was set with a long, black stone, sharply pointed at 
either end. 

" All right; beg pardon, doctor," said Hatch, re- 
spectfull}' ; but the hand, after a moment's hesita- 
tion, sank through the aperture, as if in dudgeon, 
and was heard knocking off the rings against the 
table underneath. This seemed a climax for which 
the familiars of the house had been waiting. The 
ladies who had lent their rings to Mr. Hatch, and 
had joined their coaxing voices to his in entreating 
the black hand to be quiet, now rose with a rustle 
of drapery, and joyously cackled satisfaction in 
Jim's characteristic behavior. 

" That is the last," Mrs. Le Roy announced, and 
withdrew. Some one turned on the light, and 
Hatch began to pick up the rings under the table; 
this was the occasion of renewed delight in Jim on 
the part of the ladies to whom Hatch restored their 

" Would you like to look under the table ? " 
asked Dr. Boynton of Ford, politely lifting tlie 
cloth and throwing it back. 

" I don't care to look," said Ford, remaining 
seated, and keeping the same impassive face with 
which he had witnessed all the shows of the stance. 

Dr. Boynton directed a glance of invitation at 


Phillips, who stooped and peered curiously at the 
under side of the table, and then passed his hand 
over the carpet beneath tlie aperture. " No signs 
of a trap ? " suggested the doctor. 

" No, quite solid," said Phillips. 

"These things are evidently merely in their 
inception," remarked the doctor, candidly. " I 
would n't advise their implicit acceptation under all 
circumstances, but here the conditions strike me as 
simple and really very fair." 

" I 've been very greatly interested indeed," said 
Phillips, " and I should n't at all attempt to explain 
what I 've seen." 

" We shall now try our own experiment," said 
the doctor, looking round at the windows, through 
the blinds and curtains of which the early twilight 
was stealing. " Mr. Hatch, will you put up the 
battening ? " While Hatch made haste to darken 
the windows completely with some light wooden 
sheathings prepared for the purpose. Dr. Boynton 
included Ford also in his explanation. " What we 
are about to do requires the exclusion of all light. 
These intelligences, whatever they are, that visit 
us seem peculiarly sensitive to certain qualities of 
light ; they sometimes endure candles pretty well, 
bu.t they dislike gas even more than daylight, and 
we shall shut that off entirely. Yes, my dear," he 
said, turning lightly toward his daughter, who, ap- 
parently relieved from the spell under which she 
had sat throughout the seance, now approached 
him, and addressed him some entreaty in a low 


tone, to wliich the anxiety of her serious face gave 
its effect. Ford watched them narrowly while they 
spoke together ; she evidently beseeching, and her 
father urging with a sort of obdurate kindness, 
from which she turned at last in despair, and sat 
listlessly down again in her place. One might liave 
interpreted the substance of their difference as light 
or weighty, but there could be no doubt of its result 
in the girl's reluctant obedience. She sat with her 
long hands in her lap and her eyes downcast, while 
the young man bent his glance upon her with a 
somewhat softened curiosity. Phillips drew up a 
chair beside her, and began to address her some 
evening-party conversation, to which, after her first 
terrified start at the sound of his voice, she listened 
with a look of dull mystification, and a vague and 
monosyllabic comment. He was in the midst of 
this difficult part when Dr. Boynton announced 
that the preparations were now perfect, and invited 
the company to seat themselves in a circle around 
his daughter, from whose side Phillips was neces- 
sarily driven. Mrs. Le Roy reentered, and after a 
survey of the forming circle took her place with 
the rest. Dr. Boynton instantly shut off the gas, 
and several of the circle, led by Miss Merrill, be- 
gan to sing. It was music in a minor key, and as 
the sound of it fell the air was suddenly filled with 
noises of a heterogeneous variety. Voices whis- 
pered here and there, overhead and, as it appeared, 
underfoot ; a fan was caught up, and each person 
in the circle was swiftly and violently fanned ; a 


music-box, placed on Phillips's knee, was wound 
up, and tlien set floating, as it seemed, through the 
air; rings were snatched from some fingers and 
roughly thrust upon others, amidst the cries and 
nervous laughter of the women. 

Through all, the mystical voices continued, and 
now they began to be recognized by different per- 
sons in the circle. The mother of one briefly vis- 
ited him, and exhorted him to have faith in a life 
to come ; the little sister of another revealed that 
she could never tell the beauty of the spirit-land ; a 
lady cried out, " Oh, John, is that you kissing me ? " 
to which a hollow whisper answered, " Yes ; per- 
severe, and all will be well." Suddenly a sharp 
smack was heard, and another lady, whose chubbi- 
ness had no doubt commended her as a medium for 
this sort of communication, exclaimed, with a hys- 
terical laugh, " Oh, here 's Jim, again ! He 's slap- 
ping me on the shoulder ! " and in another instant 
this frolic ghost had passed round the circle, slap- 
ping shoulders and knees in the absolute darkness 
with amazing precision. 

Jim went as suddenly as he came, and then there 
was a lull in the demonstrations. They began 
again with the voices, amidst which was heard the 
rhythmic clapping of hands, as Egeria beat her 
palms together, to prove that she had no material 
agency in the feats performed. Then, one of the 
circle called out, " Oh, delicious ! Somebody is 
pressing a perfumed handkerchief to my face ! " 
" And mine ! " " And mine ! " came quickly from 


" Be careful," warned the small voice of Mrs. Le 
Roy, " not to break the circle now, or some one will 
get hurt." 

She had scarcely spoken, when there came a 
shriek of pain and terror, with the muffled noise 
of a struggle ; then a fainter cry, and a fall to the 

All sprang to their feet in confusion. 

" Egeria ! Egeria I " shouted Dr. Boynton. The 
girl made no answer. " Oh, light the gas, light 
the gas ! " he entreated ; and now the crowning 
wonder of the seance appeared. A hand of bluish 
flame shone in the air, and was seen to hover near 
one of the gas-burners, which it touched ; as the 
gas flashed up and the hand vanished, a groan of 
admiration burst forth, which was hardly checked 
by the spectacle that the strong light revealed. 

Egeria lay stretched along the floor in a swoon, 
the masses of her yellow hair disordered and tossed 
about her pale face. Her arms were flung outward, 
and the hand on which she wore her ring showed a 
stain of blood, oozing from a cut in a finger next 
the ring ; the hand must have been caught in a 
savage clutch, and the sharp point of the setting 
crushed into the tender flesh. 

Ford was already on his knees beside the girl, 
over whose insensible face he bowed himself to lift 
her fallen head. 

" I told you," said Mrs. Le Roy, " that some one 
would get hurt if anybody broke the circle." 

" It has been a glorious time ! " cried Dr. Boyn- 


ton, with sparkling eyes, while he went about 
shaking hands with one and another. " It has sur- 
passed my utmost hopes ! We stand upon the 
verge of a great era ! The whole history of super- 
naturalism shows nothing like it I The key to the 
mystery is found ! " 

The company thronged eagerly about him, some 
to ask what the key was, others to talk of the won- 
derful hand. Egeria was forgotten ; she might 
have been trodden under foot but for the active 
efforts of Hatch, who cleared a circle about her, and 
at last managed to withdraw the doctor from his 
auditors and secure his attention for the young girl. 

" Oh, a faint, a mere faint," he said, as he bent 
over her and touched her pulse. " The facts estab- 
lished are richly worth all they have cost. Ah ! " 
he added, "we must have air to revive her." 

" You won't get it in tJds crowd ! " said Hatch, 
looking savagely round. 

^ We had better carry her to her room," said 
Mrs. Le Roy. 

" Yes, yes ; very good, very good ! " cried the 
doctor, absently trying to gather the languid shape 
into his arms. He presently desisted, and turned 
again to the group which Hatch had forced aside, 
and began to talk of the luminous hand and its 
points of difference from the hands shown in the 

Hatch glanced round after him in despair, and 
then, with a look at Ford, said, " We must manage 
it somehow." He bent over the inanimate girl, 



and with consurainate reverence and delicacy drew 
her into his arms, and made some steps toward the 

" It won't do ; you 're too Uttle, Mr. Hatch," said 
Mrs. Le Roy, with brutal common sense. " You 
never could carry her up them stairs in the world. 
Give her to the other gentleman, and go and fetch 
Dr. Boynton, if you can ever get him away." 

Hatch hesitated a moment, and with another 
look at Ford surrendered his burden to him. Ford 
received it as reverently as the other had given it ; 
the beautiful face lay white upon his shoulder ; the 
long, bright, disheveled liah- fell over his arm ; in 
his strong clasp he lifted her as lightly as if she 
had been indeed some pale phantom. 

Phillips, standing aloof from the other group and 
intent upon this tableau, was able to describe it 
very effectively, a few evenings afterwards, to a 
lady who knew both himself and Ford well enough 
to enjoy it. 


Mr. Phillips's father had been in business on 
that obscure line which divides the wholesale mer- 
chant's social acceptability from the lost condition of 
the retail dealer. When he died, however, his son 
emerged forever from the social twilight in which 
the father had been content to remain. He took 
account of his means, and found that he had enough 
to live handsomely upon, not only without anything 
like shop-keeping, but without business of any sort, 
and he courageously resolved to be a man of lei- 
sure. He had certain tastes which qualified him for 
this life ; he had read much, and he had traveled 
abroad. He joined a club convenient to the lodg- 
ing which he kept in his paternal home, letting out 
the rest of the house to a thrifty woman whose 
interest it was that he should have nothing; to com- 
plain of. Every morning, at nine precisely, he 
breakfasted at the club, beside one of the pleasant- 
est windows ; the sun came in there in the after- 
noon, and except in the winter months he dined at 
another table. His breakfast and his dinner were 
the chief events of a day which he had the wisdom 
to keep as like every other day as he could, unless 
for some very good reason. When he had finished 


either meal, he turned over the newspapers and 
magazines, largely English, in the reading-room ; 
after dinner he often dozed a few minutes in his 
chair. For the rest, he paid visits and went about 
to the picture stores and to the studios. Now and 
then he bought a painting, which in his hands 
turned out a good investment ; but his passion was 
bricabrac, and he liked the excitement of the auc- 
tion-room, where he picked up from time to time a 
rug, a queer vase, a colonial clock, a claw-footed 
table or chest of drawers, and added them to his 

He kept up with the current literature, and dis- 
tilled from it a polite essence, with which he knew 
how to perfume his conversation in the measure 
agreeable to ladies willing to learn what it was 
distinguished to read. With many he was an 
authority in such matters, and with nearly all he 
was acceptable for a certain freshness of the sus- 
ceptibilities, which he studiously preserved, glow- 
ing them under glass, as it were, when it was past 
their natural seasons to flourish in the open air. 
Now and then one revolted against this artificial 
bloom, and declared that Mr. Phillips's emotions 
smelt of the watering-pot ; but commonly they were 
well liked by the sex with which, even if he had 
not preferred, he would have been forced mainly to 
associate. There is no society but that of women 
for an idler in our country; the other men are busy 
and tired, with little patience and little sympathy 
for men who are not busy and tired. 


Such men as Phillips consorted with were of the 
feminine temperament, like artists and musicians 
(he had a pretty taste in music) ; or else they 
were of the intensely masculine sort, like Ford, to 
whom he had attached himself. He liked to have 
their queer intimacy noted, and to talk of it with 
the ladies of his circle, finding it as much of a mys- 
tery as he could. At these times he treated his 
friend as a bit of vertu^ telling at what length his 
lovely listener would of how he had happened to 
pick Ford up. He bore much from hira in the way 
of contemptuous sarcasm ; it illustrated the strange 
fascination which such a man as Ford had for such 
a man as Phillips. He lay in wait for his friend's 
characteristics, and when he had surprised this trait 
or that in him he was fond of exhibiting his cap- 

The tie that bound Ford, on his part, to Phillips 
was not tangible ; it was hardly more than force 
of habit, or like an indifferent yielding to the ad- 
vances made by the latter. Doubtless the absence 
of any other intimacy had much to do with this 
apparent intimacy. They had as little in com- 
mon in matters of taste as in temperament. Ford 
openly scorned bricabrac ; he rarely went into so- 
ciety ; for the ladies in whose company Phillips 
liked to bask he cared as slightly as for stamped 
leather or Saracenic tiles. He was not of Bos- 
tonian origin, and had come to the city a much 
younger man than we find him. He was known to 
a few persons of like tastes for his scientific stud- 


ies, which he pursued somewhat fitfully, as his 
poverty, and that dark industry known as writing 
for the press, by which he eked out his poverty, 
permitted. He wrote a caustic style ; and this, to- 
gether with his brooding look and his taciturn and 
evasive habits, gave rise to conjecture that his past 
life concealed a disappointment in love, " Or per- 
haps," suggested a fair analyst, " in literature." 

Several mornings after the seance at Mrs. Le Roy's, 
he sat on one of the many benches which the time 
found vacant in the Public Garden. It was yet 
far too early for the nurse-maids and their charges 
and suitors ; the marble Venus of the fountain was 
surprised without her shower on ; Mr. Ball's eques- 
trian Washington drew his sword in solitude un- 
broken by a policeman upon Dr. Rimmer's Hamil- 
ton in Commonwealth Avenue ; the whole precinct 
rested in patrician insensibility to the plebeian hour 
of seven ; and Ford, if he had cared, would have 
been safe from the polite amaze of that neighbor- 
hood at finding one even of its remote acquaintance 
in those pleasure-grounds at that period of the day. 
He sat in a place which was habitual with him ; for 
he lodged in one of the boarding-houses on a street 
near by, and he made the Public Garden the resort 
of such leisure as each day afforded him, seeking 
always the same seat under the same Kilmarnock 
willow, and suffering a sense of invasion when he 
found it taken. Commonly his leisure fell much 
later in the day ; and he had now the aspect of a 
sleep-broken man, rather than the early riser who 


takes the air on principle or from choice. He sat 
and gazed absently over at the pond, where the 
swans lay still on the still water, with their white 
reflections under them as distinct and substantial to 
the eye as their own bulk. 

A few stragglers, looking as jaded as himself for 
the most part, lounged on the seats along the walks, 
or hung listless on the parapet of the bridge. The 
spiteful English sparrows scattered their sharp, ir- 
ritating notes through the air, and quarreled about 
over the grass, or made love like the nagging lovers 
out of a lady's novel. 

When Ford at last withdrew his absent eyes 
from the swans and looked up, he was aware of a 
large and flabby presence, which towered, in the 
sense that a lofty mold of jelly may be said to 
tower, on the path directly before him. In this he 
gradually recognized an acquaintance of the spirit- 
ual seance, and finally knew the mottled face of 
Mr. Eccles ; the morning was unseasonably close 
and warm ; his hat was off, and the breeze played 
with the hair that crept thinly over his crown ; 
his shirt and collar were clean, but affected the 
spectator differently. 

" A-r-r-h — good-morning ! " he said, with a slow, 
hard smoothness, staring intently at Ford, with a 
set smile and shut teeth. 

" How d' ye do I " answered Ford, without inter- 

" Nice morning," said Mr. Eccles, turning half 
about, and describing it with a wave of his limp- 
rimmed silk hat. 


" Very pleasant," assented Ford, making no mo- 
tion to rise, and neither inviting nor forbidding 
further conversation. 

" A habitual early riser ? " suggested Mr. Eccles. 

" No, I merely happen to be up." 

" I rise early myself," said Mr. Eccles. " It is 
my digestion. I sleep badly." He looked, as he 
spoke, like a man who had never slept well. 
" Your friend, I presume, is not troubled in his di- 
gestion ? " 

" If you mean Mr. Phillips," replied Ford, with a 
cold ray of amusement, " I believe not. He makes 
it a matter of conscience to digest well." 

" It is n't that, sir," said Mr. Eccles. " I have 
experimented in the matter a great deal. I have 
tried to digest well on principle, but that does not 
reach the root of the trouble. It may be allevi- 
ated by the proper influences ; but this sourness " 
— he struck his stomach softly — " seems to be the 
material response to some s^Diritual ferment wliich 
we are at present powerless to escape. I am sat- 
isfied that the large majority of our indigestion, 
sir, comes from the existing imperfections of medi- 

" Some philosophers attribute it to pie," said 
Ford, neutrally. 

" That is a very superficial way of looking at it," 
returned Mr. Eccles. " If we could once estabhsh 
the true relations with the other life, ^j)je would n't 
stand in our way." 

"I've no doubt that those who establish their 


relations in the old-fashioned way, by dying, are 
not troubled by pie," said Ford. 

" Oh, death is not necessary to a complete rap- 
port," returned Mr. Eccles, somewhat impatiently. 
" I have long been satisfied of that. It may even 
prove an obstacle. What we want is to place our- 
selves in connection with the regions of order and 
peace. Till we can do this, we must feel the ef- 
fects of the acidity, as I may call it, which charac- 
terizes the crude and unsettled spiritual existence 
reached by our present system of mediumization. 
We had an illustration of that the other night, sir, 
in the vulgar violence of the manifestations. I was 
ashamed that any person of refinement should have 
been invited to witness such a — a saturnalia. I 
should have withdrawn from the circle myself, at 
once, as soon as I perceived what the character of 
the communications was likely to be, if it had not 
been for my regard for Dr. Boynton and his daugh- 
ter. There is no doubt in my mind, sir, that if we 
had then been in communication with ladies and 
gentlemen of the other life, the circle could have 
been broken with impunity. As it was, you saw 
the brutality with which the violation of a single 
condition was resented by the savage crew Ave had 
suffered to be called about us. They dreaded to 
lose an opportunity for riot. The consequence was 
that Miss Boynton's hand was caught and crushed 
till the setting of her ring cut to the bone ; then 
she was flung to the ground. The only redeeming 
feature, the only hopeful aspect, of the affair was 


the apparition whicli terminated the disgraceful 
scene. Undoubtedly the hand which turned on the 
gas was a celestial agency of the highest and purest 

Ford let his gaze, which had been dwelling upon 
Mr. Eccles's face with cold scrutiny, drop to the 
ground. "I hope," he said, "that Miss Boynton 
has quite recovered from her — accident." 

"It was a shock," returned Mr. Eccles, candidly, 
" and her physique is delicate. She is a minghng 
of the finest elements, but the proportions are so 
adjusted that the equilibrium is very easily dis- 
turbed. Her digestion, I should say, was normally 
very good. She is evidently in rehition, for the 
most part, with settled and orderly essences." He 
again set his teeth, and shone upon Ford with a 
wide, joyless smile. He waited for a moment, and 
Ford making no sign of interest, he said " Good- 
morning," and towered tremulously away, carrying 
his hat in his hand, and letting his baldness take 
the breeze as he walked. 

When he was gone. Ford sat in a long reverie, 
from which he was roused by the clock of the Ar- 
lington Street church striking eight, which was his 
breakfast hour. He rose, and strolled down the 
path and across the street to his lodging, which he 
entered with his latch-key. The other boarders, 
with their morning freshness of toilet upon them, 
were lounging or tripping down-stairs to breakfast, 
and met him with various degrees of interest, um- 
brage, and indifference in their salutation as he 


went up. The men mostly growled at him, with 
settled dislike in theii* tones ; some of the women 
beheld him with pique, others with kindly curiosity ; 
one little lady, in a pretty morning-robe, warbled 
at him, as she swept her skirts aside to make room 
for him at the turn of the stairs, " Doing the early 
bird, Mr. Ford ? " 

"No; the early worm," he returned with as lit- 
tle effusion as he had lavished upon Mr. Eccles. 

The lady gave him the slant of a laughing face, 
turned up at him, as she tripped down the stairs. 
" Don't disagree with the bird ! " she said saucily. 
She had achieved celebrity among the otlier ladies 
by not being afraid of him. 

He seemed not to think any answer necessary, 
and passed up two more flights to his room, which 
was small and in the rear of the house. It was 
cheerlessly furnished with a tumbled bed and two 
or three chairs and a large table, on which many 
papers and books, arranged in scrupulously neat 
order, left a small vacant space at one corner for 
writing, where some sheets of fresh manuscript 
lay. On the window seat were some chemical ma- 
terials and apparatus ; on the chimney slielf some 
faded photographs ; a tobacco pouch and pipes. 
Ford's business was with the manuscript leaves, 
which he took up and tore carefully into small 
pieces. He flung these into the grate, and then, 
with a conscious aii', lifted one of the pipes, and 
fingered it a moment before he turned to leave the 
room. It was as if he had not liked the witness of 


bis wonted environment of this act of bis. He 
went on, down to breakfast, and took bis place at 
a table as yet but sparsely tenanted. Tbe lively 
lady of tbe stairs-landing was tbere ; sbe sat long 
at meat, morning, noon, and nigbt, not for tbe 
material, but for tbe mental refresbment ; for sbe 
found tbat more people could be made to give 
some account of tbemselves tbere tban anywbere 
else. Sbe was sipping ber colfee out of her spoon, 
and looking about ber between sips, witb a disen- 
gaged air, wben Ford came in, and sbe fastened 
upon bim over a good stretcb of table, at once. 

" Perbaps you went out so early in order to see 
a gbost, Mr. Ford ? " 

" Very likely," answered Ford, making a listless 
decision between tbe steak and tbe bacon. 

" And did you ? " 


" See one." 

"Tbey always cbarge people not to say." 

" Ah, not nowadays ! Tbey want jou. to go and 
tell all about it. That 's what I understand from 
Mr. Phillips." Sbe sank back a little into herself, 
with her eyes resting quietly upon Ford's inatten- 
tive face, and her elbow brought gracefully to her 
side, and softly stirred ber coffee. Sbe was not of 
tbe society in which Mr. Phillips ordinarily moved, 
but was one of tbe interesting people on its borders 
whom his leisure allowed bim to cultivate. She 
thus became in some sort of bis world, — enough 
at least to know what was going on in it, and to 


be referred to there as Mr. Phillips's bright little 
friend, by ladies who did not like her. She waited 
for Ford to speak in response to her last remark ; 
but he was not one of those men who rush like air 
into any empty place ; he had the gift of reticence, 
and the lady who had planned the vacuum beheld 
his self-control with admiration. It piqued her to 
fresh effort ; she believed that his speaking was 
only a question of time. " Mr. Phillips," she went 
on, beginning to sip her coffee again, "gave me 
quite a glowing description of the Pythoness, as 
he called her ; quite a Medea-like beauty, I should 
judge, — if it was her own hair." 

" Mr. Phillips has a very catholic taste in female 
loveliness," said Ford. 

" But really, now, Mr. Ford," said the lady, in a 
tone of alluring candor, " were n't you very much 
frightened ? " 

"I am constitutionally timid." 
The lady laughed. " Then you were ! What 
did you make of it all, Mr. Ford ? What do you 
suppose made the cut in her hand? Don't you 
think she made it herself ? You know Mr. Phillips 
likes mystery, and he would n't offer the least sug- 

" Then I don't think it would be wise in me 
to hazard a guess. I don't see Mr. Perham, this 
morning," said Ford, lifting his eyes for the first 
time, and lazily looking at the vacant places about 
the lady. 

She visibly honored him for this demonstration 


upon her weak point. She was a good - natured 
creature, and she liked skillful manoeuvring, espe- 
cially in men, where it had the piquancy of a sur- 
prise. " Oh, no ! " she smiled. " Poor Mr. Perham 
is not equal to these early breakfasts. If you were 
often down yourself, Mr. Ford, you would have 
noticed his absence before this. He lets me come 
down on condition that I bring him his modest 
chop with my own hand, when I come up. You 
have no idea what a truly amiable invalid is till 
you know Mr. Perham well." 

Ford expressed no concern for the intimate char- 
acter of Mr. Perham, and after some further toy- 
ing with her spoon Mrs. Perham slipped back to 
lier point of attack : " I don't know but I ought 
to make my excuses for trying to provoke you to 
talk of the matter." 

" I don't mind your trying. But I should have 
been vexed if you had succeeded." 

" Yes, that would have been a dead loss of ma- 
terial. I suppose you intend to write about it." 

A flush passed over Ford's face, which Mrs. Per- 
ham gleefully noted. He replied, a little off his 
balance, that he had no intention of writing of it. 

" Oh, then, you have written ! " joyed Mrs. Per- 

Ford did not answer, but put his napkin into his 
ring, and rose from his chair, quitting the room 
with a faintly visible inclination toward the end of 
the table at which Mrs. Perham sat. 

" Mrs. Perham, I don't see how you can bear to 
speak to that man," said one of the ladies. 


" His raannei-s are odious ! " cried another. 

"Oh, he has manners then — of some sort?" 
inquired a third. "• I had n't observed." 

" My dears," said Mrs. Perham, " he 's charm- 
ing ! He is as natural as the noble savage, and 
twice as handsome. I like those men who slioiv 
their contempt of you. At least, they 're not hyp- 
ocrites. And Mr. Ford's insolence has a sort of 
cold thrill about it that 's dehcious. Few men can 
retreat with dignity. He was routed, just now, 
but he went off like see the conquering hero." 

" He skulked off," said one of the unpersuaded. 

"Skulked? Did he really skulk?" demanded 
Mrs. Perham. " I wish I could believe I had made 
him skulk. Mary, have you Mr. Perham's chop 
ready ? I '11 take it up, — I said I took it." 

Mrs. Perham laughed, and disappeared with her 
little tray, like a conjugal Ohocolatiere, and the 
ladies continued for a decent space to talk about 
Ford. Then they began to talk about her. 


Ford went back to his room, and turned over 
some new books which he had on his table for re- 
view. He could not make his choice among these 
volumes, or else he found them all unworthy; for 
after an absent glance at the deep chair in which 
he usually sat to read, he looked up his hat and 
went out, taking his way toward the shabbily ad- 
venturous street where the Boyntons had their 

Dr. Boynton met him at the door of his apart- 
ment with a smile of cheerful cordiality ; but when 
Ford mentioned his encounter with Mr. Eccles, and 
expressed his hope that Miss Boynton was better, 
'' Well, no," answered the doctor, " I cannot say 
that she is. She has had a shock, — a shock from 
which she may be days and even weeks in recover- 
ing." He rubbed his small, soft hands together, 
and beamed upon Ford's cold front almost raptur- 

" I am very sorry to hear it," said the latter, with 
a glance of misgiving. 

"Yes, yes," admitted the other. "In some re- 
spects it is regrettable. But there are in this case, 
as in all others, countervailing advantages." He 


settled himself comfortably in the corner of the 
sofa as he proceeded. " Yes. The whole episode, 
on its scientific side, has been eminently satisfac- 
tory. The character of the manifestations at the 
seance, the violence with which neglect of the con- 
ditions was resented, the subsequent effects, prima- 
ry and secondary, on the nervous organism of the 
medium, and indeed of almost all persons present, 
have been singularly impressive, and indicative of 
novel and momentous developments. I don't know, 
Mr, Ford, whether you have had an opportunity of 
conversing with any of our friends, since the even- 
ing in question, but I have seen many of them, and 
they have all testified to an experience which, how- 
ever difficult of formulation, was most distinct. It 
appears to have been something analogous to the 
electrization of persons in the vicinity of a point 
struck by lightning. In the case of Mrs. Le Roy 
there has scarcely been a cessation of the effects. 
The raps in her room have been almost continuous, 
and the furniture of the whole house has been 
affected. Miss Boynton has suffered the greatest 
distress from the continuance of the manifestations, 
and her mind is oppressed by influences which she 
is apparently powerless to throw off. In a word, 
everything has worked most harmoniously to the 
best advantage, and the progress made has been all 
that we could wish. Mr. Eccles perhaps told you 
of a marked increase of the discomfort he habitu- 
ally suffers from indigestion ? " 

Ford hardly knew whether to laugh or rage at 


all this, but he merely said that Mr. Eccles had 
mentioned his dyspepsia, and remained in a bitter 
indecision, while Dr. Boynton went on. " Ah, yes ! 
yes, yes ! I think we may safely refer the aggrava- 
tion of his complaint to the influences, still active, 
of our memorable seance. But I am not sure that 
Mr. Eccles's peculiar theory is the correct one. I 
distrust his speculations in some degree. A fer- 
ment of the kind he speaks of in the world of 
spirits would be more apt to ultimate itself here in 
the mind than in the stomach." 

" Do you generally distrust speculations in re- 
gard to these matters ? " asked Ford. 

"I distrust all special speculation," said the 
doctor. " We physicians know what specialism 
leads to in medicine. I prefer to base my convic- 
tions solely upon facts." 

" Are you able to satisfy yourself as to the facts 
of the stance here, the other night ? " 

"Not absolutely, — no. Not entirely. As yet 
we are only able to approximate facts." 

" Then as yet you have only aj)proximated con- 
victions ? " asked Ford. 

"As yet I am only inquiring," said the doctor, 
with sweet acquiescence. " Startling and signifi- 
cant as those manifestations were, I feel that I am 
still only an inquirer. But I feel also that I have 
gained certain points which will almost infallibly 
lead me to a final conclusion in the matter." 

" Then you mean to say," pursued Ford, " that 
as a man of science you rose from Mrs. Le Roy's 


experiments in sleight of hand, the other night, 
with a degree of satisfaction. Have you the slight- 
est confidence in her powers? " 

" Why, there," replied Boynton, " you touch 
upon a strange problem. I am always aware, in 
these matters, of an obscurity of motive and of 
opinion which will not allow me to make any ex- 
plicit answer to such a question as yours." 

" You obfuscate yourself before sitting down, as 
you darken the room, that you may be in a per- 
fectly receptive condition ? " 

" Something of that nature, yes. But I should 
distinguish : I should say that the obfuscation, 
though voluntary, was very largely unconscious." 

Ford laughed. " I am afraid that I was in no 
state to judge of the exhibition, then. You are a 
man of such candor yourself that I am sure you 
will not blame my frankness in telling you that I 
thought the whole apparitional performance a piece 
of gross trickery." 

"Not at all, not at all!" cried Boynton, with 
friendly animation. " From one point your posi- 
tion is perfectly tenable, — perfectly. You will 
remember that I myself warned you of the possi- 
bility of deceit in the effects produced, and said 
that I always took part in such a seance with the 
full knowledge of this possibility. At the same 
time, I always try, for my own sake, and for the 
sake of the higher truth to be attained, to keep this 
knowledge in abeyance, — in the dark, as we were 


" I see," said Ford, dryly. He waited blankly a 
moment, while Boynton watched him with cheery 
interest. " I suppose it was my misfortune to have 
been able to expose the whole performance at any 
moment. I did n't think it worth while." 

" It was not worth while," Boynton interposed. 
" Those people would not have accepted your ex- 
pos^, — I can't say that I should have accepted it 
myself ; and in your effort to fulfill a mission, a 
mere mechanical duty, to society, you might have 
placed obstacles in the way of the most extraordi- 
nary developments. Nothing is clearer to my mind," 
he proceeded impressively, " than that it is our 
business, after the first intimations of a desire for 
converse on the part of spirits, to afford them every 
possible facility, to suggest, to arrange, to prepare, 
agencies for their use. Suppose you had detected 
Madam Le Roy in the employment of stuffed 
gloves ; at the very moment when you seized upon 
the artificial apparition, a ge7iuine spirit hand might 
have been about to manifest itself, in obedience to 
the example given. My dear sir," cried Dr. Boyn- 
ton, leaning from his perch on the sofa toward the 
place where Ford sat, " I have gone to the very 
bottom of this matter, and I find that in almost all 
cases there is a degree of solicitation on the part of 
mediums ; that where this is most daring the results 
are most valuable ; and what I wish now to estab- 
lish as the central principle of spiritistic science is 
the principle of solicitationism. If the disembodied 
spirits do not voluntarily approach, invite them ; if 


they cannot manifest their presence, show them by- 
example the ways and means of so doing. Depend 
upon it, the whole science must die out without 
some such direct and vigorous effort on our part." 

He paused, leaving Ford in a strange perplexity. 
The smoothness aiid finish with which Boynton had 
formulated the pi-eposterous ideas just expressed 
rendered it impossible for Ford to approach without 
irony a confession which he had meant to make in 
a different spirit. " Then you would not blame 
me if I had lost patience at any point of the game, 
and actively interfered in the process of solicita- 

"As a mere exterior inquirer," returned Boynton, 
blandly, " I could not have blamed you." 

" In the dark seance," said Ford, " I did inter- 
fere. It was my belief that Mrs. Le Roy was af- 
fording the agencies, as you express it, in that, too. 
It makes me sick to think that I should have hurt 
Miss Boynton, and if I could have suspected her of 
what I suspected Mrs. Le Roy I should never" — 

" You were quite right," interrupted Dr. Boyn- 
ton, courteously as before, but with a touch of pride. 
" My daughter was entirely irresponsible, for she 
was purely the passive instrument of my will ; she 
was carrying out my plan — a plan which the se- 
quel proved triumphantly successful." 

" I have said what I wished to say," remarked 
Ford, rising. " I can well believe that she did only 
as she was bidden. There were other things that 
showed that. I leave you to settle with yourself 


the little questions of honesty and decency in thrust- 
ing a helpless girl on the performance of a cheat 
like that. You seem to be well grounded in your 
great principle, and I dare say you won't be troubled 
by my opinions. But my opinion of ?/om, Dr. Boyn- 
ton, is that you are either the most unconscionable 
knave and quack I have ever seen, or " — 

Boynton sprang to his feet. " Not another word, 
sir ! I regret for the sake of human nature to find 
you a ruffian. But there my concern in you ceases. 
I defy you to do your worst ! Leave the house ! " 

" You defy me ! " said Ford, setting his teeth, 
and struggling with the rage into which he found 
himself hurried. " What do you defy me to ? Do 
you suppose I am going to mix myself up in any 
public way with your affairs ? You are perfectly 
safe to go on and gull imbeciles to the end of time, 
for all I care." 

" I am an honest man ! " retorted Dr. Boynton. 
" I have an unsullied life behind me, spent in the 
practice of an honorable profession and in earnest 
research into questions, into mysteries, on the solu- 
tion of which the dearest hopes of the race repose. 
Who are you, to attaint me of unworthy motives, 
to cry pretender and impostor at me ? I have met, 
in the course of my investigations, rude incredulity 
from the thoughtless crowds who witnessed them, 
and insolent disdain from those qualified to ques- 
tion, but too proud or too indolent to do so. Till 
now this indifference has only accused my judg- 
ment. It remained for you to asperse my mo- 


Dr. Boynton looked the resentment of an out- 
raged man ; he gained, in spite of his flowing rhet- 
oric, a dignity which he did not have before. Ford 
stared at him in momentary helplessness. He was 
at the disadvantage that every man must be whose 
habits of life and whose temperament remove him 
from personal encounter, and who meets others in 
that sort of intellectual struggle in which his an- 
tagonist is for the time necessarily passive. 

" You arraign me as a cheat," resumed Boynton, 
" and you dare to judge my principle by the im- 
perfect first steps of those who attempt to put it 
in practice, by the crudest preliminary processes. 
But even here you have no ground to stand upon. 
Even here the ultimate fact utterly defeats and 
annihilates your insolent assumptions." 

" I don't know what you mean," began Ford, 
"and" — 

" I will tell you what I mean," interrupted Boyn- 
ton, " and you shall judge your own case. If all 
our endeavors at spirit intercourse were for the 
ends of selfish deception, as you claim, how do you 
account for the final response to them ? I am will- 
ing to believe that it was your hand that inflicted 
a hurt upon a woman, — oh, whether my daughter 
or Mrs. Le Roy, it was still a woman, — and that 
invoked any possible consequence from the viola- 
tion of conditions that you were bound in honor to 
respect ; but whose hand was it that evolved itself 
from the darkness, and then dispersed that dark- 
ness ? Whose hand was that which crowned my 
wildest hopes with success ? " 


" If you mean," said Ford, and he felt that after 
all it was shocking to own it, " the hand which 
turned on the gas, it was my hand." 

" Your hand ? " gasped Dr. Boynton. 

" My hand — prepared by a trick so common and 
simple that it could have deceived no one but 
children, or men and women so eager for lies " — 

" Oh, it was the truth, the sacred, vital, saving 
truth, they longed for ! And it was this, it was 
this desire, you deluded ! " Dr. Boynton hid his 
face in his handkerchief, and sank back upon the 
sofa. " Go, now," he said. " I will not, I cannot, 
I must not, hear one word of excuse from you. 
Your action is indefensible." 

" Excuse ? " cried Ford. " Do you really think 
I want to excuse myself? Do you think" — 

" Why should you not wish to excuse yourself?" 
solemnly demanded Boynton, uncovering his face, 
which was pale, but calm. " You have dire need 
of excuse, if sacrilege is a crime." 

" Sacrilege ? " Ford was aware of forcing his 

" Yes, sacrilege. You intruded upon religious 
aspirations to turn them into ridicule. You de- 
rided the hope of immortality itself, — the evi- 
dences through which thousands cling to the belief 
in God." 

" You are such a very preposterous creature that 
I don't quite know how to take you," said Ford, 
" but I will ask you what j^ou were doing yourself 
in making those simpletons think there were spirits 
present among them." 


" I was leading tliera on to the evolution of a 
great truth, to the comfort of an assured immortal- 
itj. But you, — were you aiming at anything 
higher than the gratification of the wretched vanity 
that delights in finding all endeavor as low and hope- 
less as its own ? Oh, I know your position, young 
man ! I know the attitude of those shallow sci- 
ences which trace man backward to the brute, and 
forward to the clod. Which of them do you pro- 
fess ? They all join in a cowardly contempt of phe- 
nomena which they will not examine ; and if one 
of their followers, more just, more candid, than the 
rest, hke Crookes, of London, ventures into the field 
of investigation, and dares to own the truth, they 
unite like a pack of wolves to destroy him. His 
methods are non-scientific ! Bah ! Did you think 
you were doing a fine thing, that day, when you 
lay in wait to dash our hopes, — to prove to us by 
the success of your trick that we were as the beasts 
that perish ? " 

" I can't say that I intended to trouble myself to 
expose you to them," said Ford. 

"Then how much better were you," retorted 
Boynton, " than the worst you think of me ? You 
call me an impostor. What were you but an im- 
postor who wished to fool them to the top of their 
bent, for the sake of laughing them over in secret, 
or among others like yourself ? " 

" Here ! " cried Ford. " I am sick of this fool- 
ery, and I warn you now that I will laugh you 
over with this whole city, if I know you to give 


another stance oi- public exhibition of any sort here. 
I believe there are no laws that can reach you, but 
justice shall. I am going to put an end to your 
researches, in Boston at least." 

" You threaten me, do you ? " cried Dr. Boynton, 
following him in his retreat from the room. " You 
propose, in your small way, to play the tyrant, to 
fetter my action, to forbid me the exercise of my 
faculties in the pursuit of truth ! And you think I 
shall regard your threats ? Poh, I fling them in 
your face ! I value them no more than I care for 
the miserable trick by which you have burlesqued 
without retarding my inquiries for an instant." 

" Very well," retorted Ford, " we shall see ! " 
He crushed on his hat, and left the house, Boynton 
pursuing him to the door, with noisy defiance, and 
remaining on the outer threshold to look after him. 


De. Boynton watclied Ford out of sight, and 
tlien, hot and flushed, turned back into the house. 
He did not return to the parlor, where the stormy- 
scene had taken place between them, but went to 
his daughter's room. Egeria lay there in the twi- 
light that befriended the shabbiness of the cham- 
ber, upon a lounge wheeled away from the wall, 
and at his entrance she asked, without lifting her 
eyes to his face (for women need not look at those 
dear to them, to know their moods), "What is it, 

"Nothing, nothing," panted her father, with a 
poor show of evasion. 

" Yes, there is something," sadly persisted the 
girl. " Something has happened to worry you." 

" Yes, you are right ! " cried Dr. Boynton, with 
vehemence. "I have just met the grossest out- 
rage and contumely from a man whom — whom — 
But, Egeria," he broke off, " tell me how you knew 
I was troubled. Did you hear angry talking ? " 

" No, I did n't hear anything. Who was the 
man, father ? " 

" Did you notice anything in my manner?" 

" No, I saw nothing unusual." 


" Then how did you know ? Try to think, Ege- 
ria," said her father, eagerly. " Try to trace the 
processes of your intuition. This may be a very 
important clue, leading to the most significant re- 
sults. How could you suspect, having heard noth- 
ing, and in this darkened room, having seen noth- 
ing, strange in my manner, — how could you divine 
that sometliing had occurred to trouble me ? How 
did you know it ? " 

" Oh, I suppose I knew it because I love you so, 
father. Thei'e was nothing strange in that. Oh, 
father, you promised me that you would n't speak 
of those things again, just yet. They wear my life 
out." He had drawn his chair, in his excitement, 
close to her couch, and sat leaning intently over 
her. She put her arm round his neck, and gently 
pulled his face down on her pillow for a moment. 
" Poor father ! What was it vexed you ? " 

Boynton freed himself, instantly reverting with 
his first vehemence to the outrage he had suffered. 
" It was that young man, — that Ford, who was 
here the other night. He has gone, after heaping 
every insult upon me, — after telling me to my face 
that it was he who seized your hand in the dark 
stance, and produced by a trick the effect of the 
luminous spirit hand which turned on the gas. 
He dared to call me an impostor, to taunt me with 
forcing you to take part in my deceptions, — and 
this after the fullest and freest and frankest state- 
ment from me of the principle upon which I pro- 
ceed in these experiments. And he ended by 


threatening me — yes, by threatening me with pub- 
lic exposure if I gave another stance in this city. 
The insolent scoundrel ! If I had been a younger 
man, I should have replied in the only fitting man- 
ner. As it was, I treated his threats with contempt. 
I answered him taunt for taunt, and I defied him to 
do his worst. I a quack, — the shameless swindler ! 
To take part in a mystery whose conditions bound 
him to good faith, and to defeat all its results by 
his miserable trickery ! " Boynton started up and 
crossed the room. Suddenly he broke out, " Egeria, 
I don't believe him ! I don't believe it was he who 
hurt you ! I don't believe that he produced that 
effect of a luminous hand ! I believe that in both 
cases supernatural agencies were at work ; they must 
have been ; and a man capable of wishing to defeat 
our experiments would be quite capable of claiming 
to have done so. He is a heartless liar, and so I 
will tell him in any public place. He forbid me to 
give another stance in Boston ! He force me to 
quit this city in defeat and ignominy ! I would per- 
ish first ! " 

" Oh, I wish we could go away ! Oh, I wish we 
could go home ! " moaned the girl, when the doc- 
tor's furious tirade had ended. 

" Egeria ! " 

" Yes, father," said the girl, desperately ; " I hate 
this wandering life ; I 'm afraid of these strange 
people, with their talk and their tricks and their 
dupes, and your part with them." 

"Egeria! This to your father? Do you join 


that scoundrel in his insult to me ? Do you wish 
to add a crueler sting to the pain I have suffered, 

— you who know how unselfish my motives are ? 
Do you deny the power — the strange power — 
which you have yourself repeatedly exercised, and 
which you have not been able to analyze ? " 

"No, no, father," said the girl fondl}'-, rising 
from where she lay, and going quickly to the chair 
into which her father had sunk, " I don't deny it, 
and I don't doubt you. How could I doubt you ? " 
She sat down upon his knee, and drew his head 
against her breast. " But let's go away ! Let us go 
back to the country, and think it all over again, 
and try to see more clearly what it is, and — and 

— -pray about it ! " She had dropped to her knees 
upon the floor, and held his hands beseechingly be- 
tween her own. " Why should n't we go home ? " 

" Home ! home ! " repeated her father. " We 
have no home, Egeria ! We might go back to that 
hole where I have stifled all my life ; but we should 
starve there. My practice had dwindled to noth- 
ing, before we left ; you know that. Their miser- 
able bigotry could not tolerate my opinions. No, 
Egeria, we must make the world our home here- 
after. We must be content to associate our names 
with the establishment of — of a supreme principle, 
and find our consolation where all the benefactors 
of mankind have found it, — in the grave." Boyn- 
ton paused, as if he had too deeply wrought upon 
his own sensibilities ; but he resumed with fresh 
animation : " But why look upon the dark side of 


things, Egeria? Surely, you are better with me 
here than in that old house, where they would have 
taught ^'■ou to distrust and despise me ? You can- 
not regret having decided in my favor between your 
grandfather and me ? If you do " — 

" Oh, no, father ! Never ! You are all the world 
to me ; I know how good you are, and I shall never 
doubt your truth, whatever happens. But go — 
let us go away from here — from this town, where 
we 've had nothing but trouble, where I 'm sure 
there 's some great trouble coming to us yet." 

"Do you think so, Egeria?" asked her father 
with interest. " What makes you think so ? What 
is the character, the purport, of your prescience ? " 

" It 's no prescience ! It 's nothing. It 's only 
fear. Everything goes from me." 

" That is very curious ! " mused Boynton. " Could 
it be something in the local electric conditions ? " 

" Oh, father, father ! " moaned the girl in de- 

" Well, well, my child ! What is it, then ? " 

" You have quarreled with this — this Mr. 
Ford ? " 

" Yes, Egeria ; I told you." 

"And he has threatened you, if you stayed — 
threatened to do something — I don't know — 
against us ? " 

" I suppose he means to vilify me in the public 

" Oh, then don't provoke him, father, — don't 
provoke him. Let us go away." 


" Wliy, Egeria, are you afraid for your father ? " 

"I'm afraid for myself," answered the girl, cow- 
ering nearer to her father. " He will come to see 
us, and I shall fail, and he will ruin you ! " 

" Egeria," said Dr. Boynton, " this is very in- 
teresting. I remember that on the day he came 
here — the day of the seance — you seemed to be 
similarly affected by his sphere, his presence. Can 
you analyze your feeling sufficiently, my child, to 
tell me why he should affect you in this way? " 

" No," said Egeria. 

" Do you remember any one else who has af- 
fected you as he has ? " 

" No, no one else." 

" Very curious ! " mused Dr. Boynton, with a 
pleased air of scientific inquiry. " Very curious, 
indeed ! It opens xip a wholly new field of investi- 
gation. All these things seem to proceed by a sort 
of indirection. We may be further from the result 
we were seeking than I supposed ; but we may be 
upon the point of determining the nature of the 
chief obstacle in our way, and therefore — there- 
fore — Um ! Very strange, very strange ! Egeria, 
I have felt myself, ever since we came to Boston, 
something singularly antagonistic in the condi- 

" Oh, then j^ou '11 go away, won't you, father, — 
you '11 go away at once ? " pleaded the girl. 

" I am not sure," answered Dr. Boynton, in the 
same musing tone as before, " what our duty is in 
the premises. Suppose, Egeria," he continued with 


spirit, — " suppose that this antagonistic influence 
were confined to a single person in a population 
of two hundred and fifty thousand souls ; would it 
not be a striking proof of the vastness of the resist- 
ance already overcome by spiritistic science, and at 
the same time an — a — a — indication of responsi- 
bility in the matter which we ought not to shun ? " 

" I don't understand you, father," said Egeria, 

" I mean," replied her father, " that it may be 
our duty to sink all personal feeling in this matter, 
and bend every energy to the conviction, the con- 
version, of the person who thus antagonizes us." 

The girl stood aghast, and for a moment did not 
reply, but glanced at her father's heated face and 
shining eyes in a sort of terror. Some instinct, 
perhaps, flashed upon her a fear against which the 
liabit of her whole life rebelled, and kept her from 
directly opposing him. She subdued the tremor 
that ran through her, and answered, " You know 
that I think whatever you do, father. How — 
how " — She apparently wished to temporize, to 
catch at this thought and that ; without uttering 
any, she stopped short. 

" How should I go about it ? " radiantly de- 
manded her father. " In the openest, the simplest 
manner possible, by submitting your — your gift to 
the test of opposing wills ; by inviting this man to 
a public contest, in which, laying prejudice aside, 
he and I should enter the lists against each other in 
a fair struggle for supremacy. I am not afraid of 



the issue. In this view, he is no longer an enemy. 
He is a blind, opposing force of nature, which is 
simply to be overcome ; he can no more have in- 
sulted or wronged me than the rock against which 
I strike in the dark, than the tempest that dashes 
its drops in my face. Poor, helpless, blameless ob- 
stacle ! I am ashamed, Egeria, that I used harsh 
language to him ; I am ashamed that I retorted 
from my vantage-ground the merely mechanical 
outrage which I suffered from him. My first busi- 
ness must be to — to — apologize ; to seek him in a 
spirit of passive good feeling, and to invite him in 
a sentiment of the widest liberality to enter upon 
this rivalry ; to — to " — He bustled about the 
room, seeking his hat. " It is my duty, it is my 
right, it is my sacred privilege, to go to him with- 
out a moment's delay, and withdraw every offen- 
sive expression that I may have used in the heat 
of — of — controversy ; to solicit, upon whatever 
terms of personal humiliation he makes, his cooper- 
ation in this experiment ; to conjure him by our 
common hopes of immortality " — Boynton had 
found that his hat was not in the room ; he made 
a swift dash towards the door. Egeria flung her- 
self against it, and, holding it fast, stretched out 
both her hands towards him. 

" Wait ! " 

Her father suddenly arrested himself. " Ege- 
ria ! " 

" What — what " — the girl panted tumultuously, 
— "what — if I can't submit to the test?" 


Boynton looked at her in stupefaction, as if this 
were a point that had not occurred to him ; but she 
confronted him steadily. " You cannot refuse," he 

" You have not considered this matter yet, fa- 
ther," said the girl. " Y'ou have not taken time " — 

" Time, time ! " retorted her father, with wild 
impatience. " There is no time ! Eternity hems 
us in on all sides ! It presses and invades at every 
point ! The man may die ; a wretched casualty — 
a falling timber on the street, a frightened horse, 
an open cellar-way — may snatch him from me be- 
fore I can use him for the purpose to which Provi- 
dence has appointed his being. And you talk of 
time ! Come, my daughter, let me pass ! You are 
not you, nor I I, in such a crisis as this." 

The girl moved from the door, and cast her arms 
about his neck, as he quickly advanced. " Oh, 
father, father ! " she cried, " what is it you mean to 

"Why, I have told you, child," he answered, 
putting up his hands to unclasp her arms. 

"Yes; but if I failed?" she implored, clinging 
the closer. " Remember that I have been sick, 
that I am still very weak, and wait, — wait a lit- 

Boynton's mood changed instantly. " Ha ! " he 
breathed, and continued in his tone of scientific in- 
vestigation : " Are you sensible, Egeria, of any dis- 
tinct loss of psychic force through the diminution 
of your physical strength ? " 


" How can I tell, father ? It is you who do it. 
I see, or seem to see, whatever you tell me. I have 
always done that. It began so long ago, when I 
was so little, that I can't remember anything differ- 
ent. I want to please you ; I want to help you ; 
but I don't know if I can, father. It has always 
come from my thinking that what you wished was 
perfectly wise and right." 

"Yes, yes," said Boynton, "that is of course a 
condition of the highest clairvoyant force, though 
I don't remember to have heard it formulated be- 

" And don't you see, father," said the girl, look- 
ing tenderly into his face, as if she would fain in- 
terpose her love between him and what she must 
say, " that if I lose this perfect confidence I lose 
my power to do what you want me to do ? " 

Dr. Boynton was hurt through the shield of her 
affection. " Have I done anything to forfeit j^our 
trust in my purposes, Egeria ? If I have, it is cer- 
tainly time for me to despair." 

" Oh, no, no, father ! I trust you ; I love you 
this moment more dearly than ever I did. But are 
you sure — are you sure that it will all come out 
as you think? Are you sure that we are taking 
the right way ? We have been trying now a long 
while, and I can't see that we 've accomplished 
anything. Perhaps I 'm not a medium, but only a 
dreamer, and dream what you tell me. I 'm afraid 
sometimes it is n't right. I was thinking about it 
just before you came in. What if there should be 
nothing in it all ? " 


" How nothing in it ? " 

" What if you were deceiving yourself ? I can't 
tell how much my wanting to please you makes 
me — Oh, I 'm afraid — I 'm afraid it 's all 

" Egeria," said Dr. Boynton, severely, " I have 
often explained to you my principle in regard to 
these matters. These are the first steps. It is 
necessary that we should take them. Other steps 
will advance from the world of spirits to meet 
them. I am convinced — I knoiv — that in your 
last stance we had direct proof of this ; and I will 
yet compel, I will exto7't from that lying villain the 
confession that he had no agency in the things he 
claims to have done." Boynton had lost his com- 
passionate sense of Ford as an irresponsible moral 
force, and as he walked up and down the floor he 
broke from time to time into expressions of vivid 
injuriousness. " Listen, Egeria : I respect your con- 
scientious scruples, though they belong to a petty 
personal conscience that I hoped before this you 
had exchanged for the race-conscience that gives me 
perfect freedom to think and to act. I will set the 
matter before you, and you will see the logical se- 
quence of my course. In the development of the 
phenomena which now agitate the world, mesmer- 
ism came first, and spiritism came second. I follow 
this providential order, and I begin with mesmer- 
ism. In this, the results are unquestioned in your 
case. You have been accustomed all your life to 
my controlling influence, my magnetic force, by 


which you have seen, heard, touched, tasted, spoken, 
whatever I willed. I knew this and you knew it. 
A thousand, successful experiments attest its truth. 
Well, when we come to deal with disembodied life, 
we have to deal with it as I deal with you. We 
have to show this life how to approach us ; to sug- 
gest, to intimate, to demonstrate, the ways and 
means of communication with us. The only per- 
fectly ascertained fact of spiritistic science is the 
rap. This, with the innumerable exposures and ex- 
planations which expose and explain all the other 
phenomena, remains a mystery, insoluble, whatever 
we attribute it to. But as a method of commerce 
with the other life, it is nearly worthless, — slow, 
vague, uncertain. We must advance beyond it, or 
retire forever from the border of the invisible world. 
Now, then, you see the unbroken chain of my rea- 
soning, and as an investigator I take my stand 
boldly upon the necessity of first doing ourselves 
what we wish the spirits to do. A feeble sense of 
right and wrong may call it deceit ; a vulgar nihil- 
ism may call it trickery ; but the results will jus- 
tify us, — they have justified us. What I wish to 
do now, Egeria, is to determine whether an oppos- 
ing force of doubt, embodied in a powerful intel- 
lectual organism, such as this man's undoubtedly 
is, can annul, can annihilate, the progress we have 
made. We cannot meet this force too soon ; for if 
it is able to do this, we may have to retrace all our 
steps and begin de novo.'^ 

Egeria listened drearily to her father's harangue. 


and at the pause lie now made she looked hope- 
lessly at his eager face, and did not reply, though 
he evidently expected some answer from her. 

" After all, Egeria," he resumed impatiently, 
" you have no manner of responsibility, moral or 
otherwise, in the affair. You have simply to yield 
yourself, as heretofore, to my will, and leave me to 
take the consequences. I will meet them all. But 
I wish, my daughter, to satisfy your minutest scni- 
pie. If you were acting in that sdance upon the 
theories which you have often heard me advance ; 
if you were supplying to the invisible agencies we 
had called about us the model, the prototype, the 
example, needed for communication with us ; and 
if when that man seized your hand — granting that 
it ivas he who did so — you were yourself consciously 
doing any of the things supposed to be done by the 
spirits " — 

" I tried to bring myself to it ; but I could n't, 
father ; I could n't ! " 

" Then — then," panted her father, in a tumult 
of rising excitement, " it was not you who did those 
things ? It was not you " — 

" No, no ! " desolately answered the girl. " From 
the moment the windows were darkened till my 
hand was seized, I did nothing but sit quietly in 
the centre of the circle and strike my palms to- 
gether, as Mrs. Le Roy told me." 

" Thank God ! " shouted Dr. Boynton, in an in- 
describable exaltation. " I kneiv I could not be 
wrong ; I knew that you had no part in those 


things. This is a glorious moment ! This — this 
— is worth toihng and suffering and enduring any 
fate for ! " He caught his daughter in his arms 
and pressed her to his heart, kissing her fondly and 
caressing her hair. " Now, noiv^ everything is clear 
before me." 

" I am so glad, father," Egeria began. " I was 
afraid you exjjected — that you would be disap- 
pointed — but indeed " — 

" No, no ! You were right ! Your psychical per- 
ceptions were better than my logic. They taught 
you where to forbear. Your conscience — I am hu- 
miliated beyond expression to have undervalued it 
as a factor of our investigation — has brought us 
this splendid triumph. Egeria, we stand upon the 
threshold of the temple ; its penetralia lie ojjen be- 
fore us ; we have defeated death ! " 

The girl was perhaps too well used to the rhetor- 
ical ecstasies of her father to be either exalted or 
alarmed by them ; and she now merely looked in- 
quiringly at him. 

" Don't you see, my dear," he continued with un- 
abated transport, in reply to her look, " that if you 
did not do these things they were the results of su- 
pernatural agencies? It is this fact, ascertained 
now past all peradventure, that makes my heart 

" Oh ! " murmured Egeria, despairingly. 

" But I must not lose a moment, now. I must 
see this young man at once, and challenge him to 
the ordeal that will release you from his noxious 


influence. I hope that I sliall be able to treat liim 
in the right sph-it, and with the tenderness due an 
erring mind ; I shall do my best, and I have every 
reason to be magnanimous. But his pretense of 
having performed by trick what was unquestion- 
ably the work of spirits is a thing that he must not 
urge too far. Or, yes, let him do so ! I shall seek 
nothing of him but his consent to this contest. It 
may be for the general good that his discomfiture 
should not only be complete, but publicly com- 

"Don't go, father, — don't go!" implored Ege- 
ria, for sole answer and comment upon all this. 
" Let him alone, and let us go away." 

" Go away ? " cried her father. " Never ! I must 
overrule you in this, my child," he continued caress- 
ingly. " I respect, I revere, your power ; but it is 
out of regard for that power that I must combat 
your weaker mood. It demands of n^, as it were, 
that I should ascertain all its conditions, and re- 
move every obstacle to its exercise." 

" Ob, I don't know what you mean," replied the 
girl, and broke into hopeless tears. 

" You will know, Egeria," returned her father. 
" Not only shall I be clear to you, but you will be 
clear to yourself, as never before. I have now a 
clue that leads to final results, — the personal con- 
science in you, the race-conscience in me. I will 
be with you again in a little while, Egeria. Don't 
be troubled. Trust everything to me." 

He made haste to get himself out of the room, 


and pausing in the hall on the ground-floor long 
enough to secure the hat of a visitor of Mrs. Le 
Roy (who was then in a trance for the recovery of 
lost property belonging to this gentleman) he is- 
sued from the door to which he had lately followed 
Ford in their common rage. The owner of the hat 
had a larger head than Boynton, who, as he pushed 
his way along the street, with his face eagerly 
working from the excitement of his mind, had an 
effect at once alarming and grotesque ; the squalid 
little children of the street shrank from his ap- 
proach in terror, and followed his going with de- 


Egeeia had made a step after her father, as if to 
call him back, when he left the room, but she had 
turned again, and lain down upon her lounge with- 
out a word. It would have been useless to call him 
back ; he could only have come to renew the scene 
that had passed between them, and the result would 
still have been the same. 

From her despair there was but one refuge. She 
could appeal for help now only to the source of 
her terrors. The fact, hemming her inexorably in, 
pressed upon her excited brain with a strange, be- 
numbing stress, in which there was yet all possible 
keenness of pain. Presently, it seemed as if she 
shrieked out with a cry that rang through the 
house. In reality she had uttered a little scream 
in response to a knock at the door. 

" Oh, did I wake you ? " asked the uncouth serv- 
ant kindly, putting her head in. 

"Yes — no — I was not asleep," answered Ege- 
ria, lifting her face from the pillow. 

" There 's a gentleman in the parlor wants to see 
your father ; and I don't know — well, I told him 
the doctor was out, but you was at home. Shall 
I say you '11 see him ? He says you '11 do just as 


Egei'ia sprang from her lounge, and flinging open 
a shutter began to arrange her hair. " Yes; please 
tell him I '11 come at once." At that moment she 
had but one sense, — the consciousness that Ford 
had come, and that she should have the courage to 
speak to him, and beseech him not to consent to 
her father's proposal. She did not know how or 
why she should have this courage, but all fear had 
left her. She hastily smoothed her hair and ar- 
ranged her dress, and ran down the stairs into the 
parlor to encounter her enemy with such eager- 
ness as a girl might show in hastening to greet her 

It was Mr. Hatch who came forward to meet her, 
and who took her hand. " Did n't expect to see me 
here, INIiss Egeria ? Well, I 'm rather surprised 
myself. But I had to comeback from Philadelphia, 
before I 'd fairly got started on my grand rounds, 
and I thought I 'd make one more attempt to say 
good-by to the doctor and you." 

" I understood — I thought " — began Egeria, her 
voice shaken with her disappointment, " I thought 
it was — it was " — She stopped, and tears came 
into her eyes. 

" I 'm sorry it is n't. Miss Egeria," said Hatch 
kindly. " I would be willing to be anybody else in 
the Avorld that you wanted to see." 

" Oh, I did n't want to see them ! I was afraid 
to see them, and I hoped they had come," answered 

Hatch smiled, but he looked at her compassion- 


ately, his head set scrutinizingly on one side, while 
she pressed her handkerchief to her eyes, and re- 
covered herself in a sort of cold despair. " I want 
you to let me ask you what 's the matter, Miss 
Egeria," he said, impulsively. " You won't think 
I 'm trying to pry into your trouble ? " 

" Oh, no I " 

" Well, we all know what the doctor is : he 's as 
good as gold, and as simple as a child, but he has n't 
got the practical virtues, — or vices, whichever you 
choose to call 'em. Now, you know. Miss Egeria, 
that I respect the doctor rather more than I should 
my own father, if I had one : has the doctor run 
short of money? " 

" Oh, no, no ! Not that I know of ! It is n't that 
at all," Egeria hastened to say. 

" Well, that 's one point gained," said Hatch. 
" I 'm glad of it. You '11 excuse my asking? " 

" Yes, — oh, yes," she answered. 

" Well, then, is it something that I can help you 
about ? I don't care to know what it is, but I do 
want to help you. If I can, without knowing, you 
need n't tell me." 

" You can't help me. But there 's no reason why 
you should n't know. You can't help me against 
my father, can you ? " she asked, putting the case, 
as women do, at worse than the worst, so as to have 
the comfort of finding the truth short of the extreme. 
" How can any one help me against him ? " Then, 
as Hatch stood waiting with a somewhat hopeless 
and wholly puzzled face, " He does n't mean any 


harm," slie hnrried on distractedly, " but if he does 
it, he will kill me. He has done it, and nothing can 
save me ! He 's talking with him this moment, and 
planning it all out ; and when they are ready I shall 
have to go out before the people, and try it, and 

" Is it some test of your power ? " asked Hatch. 

" Yes," answered the girl. " That man who was 
here the other night — that Mr. Ford, — father has 
gone to him to get him to make some public ap- 
pointment, and try whether I can do the things he 
says I can't do. He has been here. Father wants 
him to come and test it himself, and that 's what 
he 's gone to him for ; and I know he will ; and I 
can't do anything when he 's by." 

She said no more, and Hatch began to walk up 
and down the room. Presently he stopped before 
her. "Well, Miss Egeria, there's only one way 
out of it. The way is to go and talk to that fellow, 
and get him not to keep his appointment with your 
father, if he 's made one." 

" For me to go ? I thought of that ; and 
then" — 

" Oh, no," said Hatch, with a smile. "/'^? do 
the going and talking. You make yourself easy 
about it. But after that, don't you think we could 
get your father to give this thing up, and go home ? " 

" Oh, if we only could ! " cried the girl. " But 
it 's no use. I have been talking to him, and beg- 
ging him to ; but he '11 never go back in the world. 
He hates my grandfather." 


" The old gentleman was rough on him ; but you 
can't much wonder at it. I 'm not sajdng anything 
against the doctor, mind ; I don't go back on him ; 
I don't forget what he did for me. But we can talk 
about all that afterwards. What we 've got to do 
now is to go and beg off from that fellow. Good-by, 
Miss Egeria; I must n't lose time." 

She stopped him. " I can't let you. It would be 
throwing blame on my father. I 'd rather let him 
kill me." 

" Oh, I '11 make it all right about the doctor," 
said Hatch. " No one shall have a right to blame 
him for anything. Don't you be troubled. I '11 fix 
it. Don't worry ! " 

Egeria faltered. " You '11 only lose your time. 
It won't do any good." 

" But you don't tell me not to go ? " 

" It won't do any good," slie said. 

" Well," said Hatch, " I 'm going to see this man, 
and then I 'm coming back to have a talk with the 
doctor. I want to go away to-morrow feeling first- 
rate, and I don't believe I shall feel just right unless 
you take the Eastern road back to Maine about the 
time I take the Boston and Albany for Omaha." 

Egeria followed him from the room, and responded 
witli a hopeless look to the bright nod with which 
he turned to her at the outer door. As it closed, 
she stood a moment in the dim entry, and then crept 
languidly up the stairs to her own room ; she cast 
herself upon the lounge again, with her face to the 
wall, and lay there in the apathy which is the ref- 


uge from overstress of feeling. The worst could 
not be worse than the worst; and whatever hap- 
pened, it could but be another form, not another 
degree, of ill. 

Hatch hurried upon his errand, and climbed, 
heated and panting, to Ford's room, and to a loud 
" Come in ! " which followed his knock, he responded 
by entering and shutting the door behind him. 

Ford stood before the fireplace, striking against 
the brick a burning paper with which he had been 
lighting his pipe. In this act, he looked round at 
Hatch over his shoulder, at first vaguely, and then 
with recognition, but not certainly with welcome. 
" Oh ! " he said. 

" Mr. Ford ? " asked Hatch. 

" Yes." 

" I met yon at Mrs. Le Roy's. I don't know 
whether you remember me." 

" Yes, I do," said Ford. He drew two or three 
whiffs at his pipe. " Will you sit down ? You 
know Mr. Phillips." He indicated with a motion 
of his head a third person, whose face, black against 
the window. Hatch had not made out. 

At the mention of his name, Phillips came for- 
ward in his brisk way, and shook hands with Hatch. 
" Oh, yes," he said. " Mr. Hatch has n't forgotten 
me. I feel myself memorable since that night. I 
was then an element of the supernatural. Have 
you seen our friends lately ? " 

" Yes," said Hatch. " I 've just come from 


" They 're well, I hope ? Miss Boynton struck 
me as a most interesting person. Does n't her life 
of excitements wear upon her? Most young ladies 
find one world as much as they can stand ; mingling 
in the society of two, as she does, must be rather 

"Miss Boynton isn't very well , or, rather, she 
has n't been." 

" Ah, I 'm sorry to hear that," said Phillips. 
" I hope it 's nothing serious." 

" Well, no," replied Hatch, uneasily. He turned 
to Ford, who from his superior stature had been 
smoking down upon Phillips and himself. " Mr. 
Ford," he added, "I came here from Dr. Boynton's 
to see you." 

" Yes ? " said Ford. 

Phillips made a polite movement in the direction 
of his hat. "I think I '11 be going, Ford," he ex- 

"Yon can go," retui'ned Ford, taking his pipe 
from his mouth, "but it isn't necessary. This 
gentleman can have nothing confidential to say to 
me. I 'd rather you 'd stay — for once." 

"You're so flattering," said Phillips, "that I 
will stay, if Mr. Hatch doesn't object. My en- 
gagement 's at one." 

" Oh, not at all," said Hatch, reluctantly. Ford 
had remained standing, with his back to the fire- 
place, and Hatch had not accepted his invitation, 
or his permission, to sit down. " As Mr. Phillips 
was at Mrs. Le Roy's that night, he might as well 



hear what I have to say. Mr. Ford," he added ab- 
ruptly, " I want you to do me a great favor." 

" Why should I do you a great favor, Mr. 
Hatch? " asked Ford, while he looked with half- 
closed eyes at the ceiling, and blew a cloud of smoke 
above Hatch's head. 

Hatch glanced sharply at him, to see whether he 
spoke in gratuitous insolence or ill-timed jest. He 
decided for the latter, apparently, for he returned 
jocosely, " Well, do yourself a great favor, then." 

" I don't feel the need of that," said Ford. 
« What is it ? " 

" Has Dr. Boynton been here this morning ? " 
asked Hatch, with the anxiety he could not hide. 

" No," said Ford, taking out his pipe, and look- 
ing at him. 

" Then that makes it a great deal easier. I want 
to ask you, when he comes, — I know he is coming, 
— to refuse the proposition he will make you," 

" What proposition is Dr. Boynton coming to 
make me ? " demanded Ford, with his pipe between 
his fingers. 

Hatch faltered, and scanned Ford's unyielding 
face. " I shall have to tell you, of course. He is 
coming to propose a public test stance with you, in 
which Miss Boynton's powers shall be put to proof. 
I ask you to refuse it." 

Ford did not change countenance, but Phillips, 
from the easy-chair into which he had cast himself, 
smiled, and studied now his friend's sad, cold vis- 
age, and now the eager, anxious face of Hatch. 


"In whose behalf do you ask this?" Ford inquired, 
beginning to smoke again. "By what right do you 
ask it ? " 

" Miss Boynton has been sick, and is still very 
much unstrung. It would be a kindness, a mercy, 
to her, if you would refuse." 

"How do you know? Do you ask it from her?" 

Hatch hesitated in an interval of silence that pro- 
longed itself painfully. 

" I don't come at her request," he said, at last. 

Ford made no comment, but continued to smoke. 
His pipe died out ; he struck a match and kindled 
it again; and tiien smoked as before. "Mr. Hatch," 
he asked finally, " are you a spiritualist ? " 

"I am a spiritualist, but I am not a fool," replied 

" Then you don't care for the effect of this se- 
ance on the fortunes of your creed ? " 

" No, I don't. I care for the effect of it on a 
young lady who dreads it, and who — and on a man 
that I owe a good deal to. Look here, Mr. Ford ; 
I don't decide on these things. I suppose spirit- 
ualism is a matter of faith, like other religions. 
These people are in earnest about it ; that is. Dr. 
Boynton is, and his daughter thinks and does what- 
ever he tells her to. I 'm sorry they 're in the 
business, and I wish they were out of it. They 're 
good people, and as innocent as babies, both of 'em. 
I don't like the way you take with me, but you can 
walk over me as much as you like, if only you '11 
grant this favor. I 'm in hopes to get them back 


to where tliey belong. I used to live in their town, 
and I know all about them. He 's a visionary, but 
he 's a good man, and their people are first-rate peo- 
ple. I would do anything I could for him. He 's 
got a heart as tender as a child." 

" Very likely," said Ford, with irony. " But I 
fail to see why I should let this child-like philan- 
thropist go about preying upon the public. I may 
have my own opinion of his innocence. What if 
I told you I had detected them in a trick the other 
night ? " 

" I should n't believe you," answered Hatch, 

Phillips half started out of his chair, but Ford 
smoked on unperturbed, and asked, as if the ques- 
tion were a pure abstraction, " Why ?" 

" Because I know that they could nH cheat." 

"But if I told you they did, should you consider 
them innocent ?" 

" I should n't doubt them in the least. And let 
me tell you " — 

Ford turned his back upon Hatch, and knocked 
the ashes of his pipe out against the corner of the 
chimney-piece. " Mr. Hatch, you said, a moment 
ago, that you were a spirituahst, but not a fool. I 
shall not say whether I will or will not refuse Dr. 
Boy n ton's proposition." 

Ford began to fill liis pipe again, and paid not 
enougli regard to Hatch's presence to seem to wish 
him away ; it was quite as if he were not there, so 
far as Ford was concerned. 


" Look here," Hatch began, " I am sorry that I 
offended you. I 'm anxious to get you to say that 
you won't accept Dr. Boynton's challenge." 

" I perceive that you are anxious," assented Ford. 

" Oh, if I only — It 's a very serious matter, — 
it is indeed ! I would do anything to get you to 
say that. Come, now ! The young lady is in del- 
icate health ; she will do whatever her father tells 
her, and if she does this I believe it will kill her." 

Ford made no reply. 

" I can see the thing from your point of view. 
I suppose you feel that you have a public duty to 
perform, and all that sort of thing. Well, now, 
I 'm going to make a strong move to get Dr. Boyn- 
ton out of this business, any way ; and I ask you 
just to hold on till I have a chance to try. Can't 
you tell him that you '11 think it over ? Can't you 
go so far as to put him off a day, or half a day ? " 

Ford took a book, and going to a chair at the 
window began to look into it. 

" Come," pleaded the other, "give me some sort 
of answer." 

Ford seemed not to have heard him. 

" Well, sir," said Hatch, " I 've done with you ! " 
He stared at Ford in even more amaze than anger, 
and after waiting a moment, as if searching his 
mind for some fitting reproach, he turned and went 
out of the room. 

Pliillips rose from his chair with a shrug. " My 
dear fellow," he said, " I hope you '11 let me know 
when this ordeal takes place." 


"What ordeal?" asked Ford, without looking 
up from his book. 

" Surely I need n't specify your public test se- 
ance with the Pythoness and her papa." 

" I am not going to meet Dr. Boynton in the 
way you mean," returned Ford, quietly. 

" No ? Why, this is magnanimity ! " 

" I 've no doubt it 's inconceivable to you." 

" Not at all ! I know you better ; you could be 
magnanimous to carry a point. But it must be in- 
conceivable to our friend who has just left us. I 
fancied he was something in leather. Should you 
say shoes, or leather generally ? " 

Ford scorned to notice the conjecture as to 
Hatch's business. " Are you fool enough to sup- 
pose that Dr. Boynton ever intended to come to 
me on such an errand ? " 

" Why, I fancied so." 

" You had better bridle your fancy, then. He 
has too much method in his madness for that. 
What he wanted was my refusal, beforehand, for 
professional use. He did n't get it. This fellow 
is part of the game. Bat I don't wonder you 
sympathize with him. He is a brother dilettante, 
it seems. He dabbles in ghosts as you dabble in 
bricabrac. He believes as much in ghosts as you 
believe in your Bonifazios. They may be genuine ; 
in the mean time, you like to talk as if they were. 
Upon the whole, I believe I prefer blind supersti- 

"Why, so do I," said Phillips. "The trouble 


is to get your blind superstition. I confess that 
when I was at Mrs. Le Roy's, — what an uncom- 
monly good factitious name for the profession ! — 
and saw the performances of the phantom-like Ege- 
ria, — that 's a good name, too ! — I experienced a 
very agreeable sensation of fear. It was really 
something to be proud of. But it would n't last. 
It haunted me for a night or two ; but I 'm no more 
afraid in the dark now than I was before. And 
the worst of it is that my interest in the affair 
is gone with my terrors. Apparitions have palled 
upon me. It is quite as the good doctor said : peo- 
ple bore themselves with stances very soon. The 
question at present is. Will you go with me to Mrs. 
Burton's to lunch ? " 

" No," said Ford. 

" You 're in the wrong, Ford," argued Phillips. 
" You would please Mrs. Burton by coming ; but 
it won't matter to her if you don't. That 's the 
attitude of society towards the individual, and upon 
the whole one can't complain of it. You had bet- 
ter come. Mrs. Burton is really making a very 
pretty fist at a salon. In the first place, she keeps 
Burton out of the way : it 's essential to a salon 
not to have the husband in it. You will meet the 
passing Englishman there, whoever he is ; you 
stand a chance of seeing the starring actor or ac- 
tress, — operatic or dramatic ; authors we have al- 
ways with us, and painters, of course. Mrs. Bur- 
ton is so far from pretty herself that she is not 
afraid to ask charming women who are also beau- 


tiful ; you 've no idea what decorative qualities 
beautiful women have. And then she introduces 
the purely American element, the visiting young 
lady. Really, she has an uncommon feeling for 
pretty girls; I never knew her to have an inhar- 
monious young person staying with her yet ; with 
her sense of values, the composition of her salon is 
delightful. Will you come ? She told me to bring 
you ; what excuse shall 1 make? " 

" Tell her that I 'm not the sort of person to be 

"Oh, there you do yourself wrong. I shall be 
more just to her ideal of you. Good-by." 

A knock Avas heard at the door, and Ford, with- 
out rising, growled, " Come in." 

The door flew open, and Boynton burst into the 
room in the face of Phillips, who was just going 
out. He caught him by the hand. 

" Why, Mr. Phillips, is it possible ! This is 
doubly fortunate. Finding you and Mr. Ford to- 
gether, — it's more than I could have hoped! I 
consider it a privilege — a privilege, in the old re- 
ligious sense — to be allowed to say in your pres- 
ence what I wish to say to our good friend here. 
Mr. Ford, I wish Mr. Phillips to hear me ask your 
pardon — humbly ask your pardon — for the vio- 
lent language I used towards you at my lodging an 
hour ago." Phillips grinned his triumph at Ford, 
but softened the derision to a smile, as he turned 
again to Boynton. 

" Will you sit down ? " said Ford, with grave 
kindness, and without any token of surprise. 


"Thanks, thanks! But not till I have taken 
you by the hand." Boynton stretched forth his 
small hand, and took the mechanically granted 
hand of Ford. " I wish to say that I have unex- 
pectedly been enabled to see the subject matter of 
our difference from your point of view, and that I 
now recognize not only the justice, but the neces- 
sity — the necessity by operation of an inflexible 
law - — of your attitude. In all these things," con- 
tinued Boynton, placing himself luxuriously in 
Ford's deep chair, and didactically pressing the 
tips of his fingers together, " there is a law which 
I had quite lost sight of, — the law of progression 
through the antagonism of opposites." 

Phillips made an ironical murmur of assent and 
admiration ; Ford remained silent. 

" We are both, outside of our mere individual 
consciousness, blind forces. I aSirm, you deny. 
We grind upon each other in the encounter of life, 
and a spark of light is evoked by the attrition. 
It was just so this morning : light was evoked by 
which I shall always see the correctness of your 
position and the error of mine. Understand me : I 
do not at all agree with you in your opinion of the 
phenomena; and I have come, so far as that is con- 
cerned, to cement our enmity, if I may so speak." 
He smiled upon Ford with caressing suavity. " But 
what I have come for first is to withdraw all of- 
fensive expressions, and to say that I approve, 
even in its extreme, of your action on the after- 
noon of the seance." He beamed upon Ford, and 


then turned his triumphantly amiable face upon 

" Ford," said the latter, " this is very hand- 
some I " 

*' Not at all, not at all ! " cried Boynton ; "sim- 
ple duty, — self-interest, even. For I have a re- 
quest to make of Mr. Ford, — a favor to ask. I 
wish Mr. Ford not only to continue steadfast in his 
opposition to my theories, but to assist me in a 
public exhibition, by antagonizing to the utmost of 
his power their application. I have learned from 
my daughter that she had no agency in the phe- 
nomena which we witnessed the other night, and 
of whose verity I am now perfectly convinced ; and 
I wish Mr. Ford to join me in testing her super- 
natural gifts, either before a popular audience, or 
such persons, in considerable number, as we may 
select in common." 

" I must refuse, Dr. Boynton," said Ford, gently. 

Boynton's face fell. " I hope," he said, " you do 
not refuse because I have been remiss in not com- 
ing to you sooner." 

" No," began Ford ; but Boynton interrupted 

'* I started almost immediately upon your de- 
parture from my lodgings, to follow you up and 
make this application. But I was delayed by an 
accident: a child was run ov^r in the street almost 
before my eyes, and was carried into the next 
apothecary's. The force of habit is strong ; I re- 
membered that I was a physician, and forgot the 


larger in the lesser duty, till other attendance covdd 
be procured." 

Ford frowned. " It has nothing to do with your 
delay. What you propose is quite out of my way. 
I could not consent to it on any conditions. I went 
to your s<5ance the other day out of an idle whim. 
I don't care anything about the matter. I don't 
care whether there is any truth in your opinions, 
or any error in mine. I refuse because I am thor- 
oughly indifferent to the whole thing." 

Boynton rose, and buttoned his threadbare coat 
across his plump chest. " And you consider, sir," 
he said, "that you have incurred no responsibility 
towards me, towards humanity, by going as far as 
you have, and then refusing to proceed ? " 

" That is my feeling," said Ford, respectfully. 

Boynton stood as if stupefied. " And — and — 
Excuse me, sir," he said, coming to himself, " if I 
remark upon the suddenness of your indifference. 
One hour ago, you threatened that if I pursued my 
inquiries in this city you would expose me, as I un- 
derstood, in the public prints. You left mo with 
that threat upon your lips." 

Phillips looked inquiringly at Ford, who said, 
" I left you in a passion that I 'm ashamed of. I 
have no idea of carrying out that threat." 

" Poll, sir ! " cried Boynton, with mounting 
scorn. " You refuse, not from indifference, but 
from the sense of your inability to cope with me 
in this test." 

" I am willing you should think that," assented 


" I call this gentleman to witness," said Boynton, 
" that you have slunk out of a contest which you 
have provoked, and that you are afraid to meet me 
upon terms even of your own clioosing. An hour 
ago I parted with you in hate ;• I now leave you in 
contempt. Good morning, Mr. Phillips." Boyn- 
ton had already turned his back upon Ford ; he 
now strutted from the room without looking at him 

" Our friend is violent," observed Phillips, when 
the door had closed upon him. Ford made no 
reply, and Phillips continued : " I fancied his ac- 
cident rather too opportune." 

"Very likelj^" said Ford. 

" And you won't go with me to Mrs. Burton's ? " 

" I don't wonder at your indifference to society, 
with such really dramatic excitements in your own 
life. The matinee has been extraordinarily brill- 
iant — for a matinde. They 're apt to be tame." 


In spite of the defiant temper in wliicli Boynton 
had quitted Ford's lodging, he reached his own in 
extreme dejection. He found Hatch with Egeria 
in the parlor. 

"Well, my friend," he said, wringing Hatch's 
hand, as he passed him on his way from the door 
to the sofa, " I have met with a great disappoint- 
ment." Neither Hatch nor Egeria questioned him, 
but after an exchange of anxious glances waited 
silently. " It is n't that I care for the frustration 
of my hopes ; I do care for that ; but that is a small 
matter compared with the loss of my faith in human 
nature, my reliance upon the willingness of man to 
make sacrifices tending to — to — solve, to unravel, 
our common riddle." He let his head fall upon his 

" Oh, father," pleaded Egeria tremulously, after 
the little dramatic pause which Boynton had let 
follow upon his period, " did you go to see him ? " 

" Yes," said her father. 

" And did he — is he going to do it ? " 

Boynton lifted his head. " No," he said, sol- 
emnly ; " he refuses." Egeria drew a long breath, 
and turned very pale. She seemed about to fall 


from her chair, which she had drawn next the cor- 
ner of the sofa on which he had thrown himself. 
Hatch made a movement toward her, but she re- 
covered herself, and sat strongly upright. 

" He refused ? " she gasped. 

" My dear friend," said her father, looking toward 
Hatch, while he took her cold hand and gently 
smoothed it, " I must explain that I have had two 
interviews with this man, and what their nature 
has been. He came here this morning to boast that 
it was he who caught Egeria's hand in the stance 
that day. I drove him from the house. After- 
wards, upon conversing with Egeria, I learnt that 
the manifestations were really genuine, and that at 
the moment he caught her hand she had no agency 
whatever in their production." 

Hatch looked at Egeria. " I could have bet my 
soul on that ! " 

" On learning this," pursued Boynton, " I at 
once determined to challenge him to a new test, 
in wliicli he should pit his influence over Egeria 
against mine, and the public should decide upon 
the result. He has just refused the challenge, per- 
emptorily and finally, and I have branded him as 
a coward in the presence of Mr. Phillips." 

Boynton flung his daughter's hand away. Hatch 
and Egeria had the effect of refraining from look- 
ing at each other. At last the young fellow said, 
recovering something of his wonted cheery audac- 
ity, " Well, of course it 's a disappointment, doctor, 
but why not look at the bright side of it ? " 


" What bright side of it ? " asked the doctor, 

" Oh, it has its bright side," said Hatch, un- 
dauntedly. "It saves Miss Egeria from a good 
deal, and I 'm glad of that, for one." 

The doctor mistook the word. " Ordeal ! There 
is no ordeal ; there could have been no question 
about the result ! " 

"Not with you or me. But there 's no use try- 
ing to deny it, — the public is against you, and 
would be glad to have her fail." 

" Oh, yes, father : you know how it has always 
been," cried Egeria. 

" The circumstances had never been propitious 
before ; but now they were all with us. We could 
not have failed ! " replied her father. 

"Well, you might," said Hatch. "What do 
you think did produce the manifestations that day, 
doctor ? " 

" Do you ask that question ? " demanded the doc- 
tor, in astonishment. " I answer, with an absolute 
certainty, such as I never reached before, the dis- 
embodied spirits of the dead ! " 

" I doubt it," said Hatch, quietly. 

" You douht it ? " shouted Boynton, in amaze. 

" Dr. Boynton, you 've told me twenty times 
that you would n't give a straw for manifestations 
that took place in the presence of a dozen persons. 
Now, what makes you pin your faith to what hap- 
pened the other day ? " Boynton was silent ; all 
his reasons, so prompt and facile, seemed to have 


forsaken hiin. " There were too many people on 
hand that day for me. You know I 'm as much 
interested in these things, doctor, as anybody, and 
I should be the last to give aid and comfort to the 
enemy ; but I could n't go those materializations, 
and the dark seance was rather too dark for me. 
I '11 tell you what, doctor, I wish you 'd go back 
home, and start new." Hatch planted himself 
directly in front of Boynton, who looked at him 
■with astonishment and rising indignation. 

" By what right do you presume to advise me ? " 
he asked, with stately emphasis. 

" Well, by no right," said Hatch easily ; " or 
else the right that I have from the good you 've 
always done me." The doctor waived away the 
sense of this with a gesture which was still stately, 
but no longer severe. " I only sjjeak from ray in- 
terest in you and Miss Egeria, here. I think it 's 
■wearing on her, — wearing on j'ou both." 

"Has my daughter complained to you?" de- 
manded Boynton, with more than his former hau- 
teur, looking round at her. She returned his look 
with a glance of tender reproach, and Hatch an- 
swered : — 

" No more than you, doctor. I 'm talking of 
■what I see. And I think you 've made a wrong 
start. I think you 've made a mistake. You 
ought n't to have ever mixed yourself up with pro- 
fessional mediums. Y''ou w^ere on the right tack 
at home. Now^, I say, you just go back there, 
and you form a disinterested circle, — people that 


have n't got money in it, — and you go on with 
your investigations there ; and when you 've got a 
sure thing of it, j^ou come out with it. But don't 
you do it till then ! Heh ? " 

" There is reason in what you urge," replied 
Boynton ; "or rather there was reason. But I 
have advanced beyond the point you indicate. I 
have got a sure thing of it, as you say. I am as 
fully persuaded of the reality of those manifesta- 
tions as I am of my own existence." 

" Which ones ? " asked Hatch. 

" Those in the dark seance, and " — 

" I 'm not ! " returned Hatch ; " but I don't 
want you to take my opinion for proof against 
them. I 'm going to headquarters for that, and all 
I ask is, Don't you interfere with my little game." 
He took the doctor by the shoulders in a friendly 
caress, as he spoke, and then he rang the bell. The 
servant-girl put in her unkempt head at the door, 
with a look of surprise, after first going to the outer 
door, to see if the ring had come from there ; evi- 
dently, she was not used to being rung for in-doors. 
" Ah, Mary— Jenny — Bridget — Susy — Polly — 
whatever it is," said Hatch ; " you just ask Mrs. 
Le Roy to step here half a second, that 's a good 
girl, and I'll dance at your wedding." The girl 
vanished, grinning. As the big woman appeared 
at the door, " Walk right in, Mrs. Le Roy," he 
called out, and she advanced questioningly, while 
he closed the door behind her. " Now it 's all 
among friends, you know, Mrs. Le Roy ; we won't 


keep you a minute. You know the doctor has 
some peculiar theories on this subject. We don't 
care about the materializations, — they Ve all right ; 
but you just tell us now how much you helped 
along in the dark stance, the other day." 

" Well," said Mrs. Le Roy, with a sly look at 
each of her listeners, and a smile that ended in a 
small, thin chuckle, " give the sjjirits a chance, — 
that was the doctor's idea, as I understood it." 

" Exactly," said Hatch, "and you did give 'em a 
chance ? " 

" Now, Mr. Hatch," said the huge sibyl, with a 
mixture of cunning and of that liking for Hatch 
which all women seemed to feel, " what are you up 

" I give you my word, Mrs. Le Roy, I 'm up to 
nothing you'd object to. I just want to know how 
much of a chance you gave 'em." 

Mrs. Le Roy hesitated a moment. 

" Well, pretty much all they wanted, I guess," 
she answered, at length. 

" Do you mean," said Boynton, " that you pro- 
duced the phenomena in the dark seance ? " 

" Well, I did give the spirits a fair chance, as 
you may say," admitted Mrs. Le Roy, with some 
awe and some apparent pity for Boynton. 

He dropped his face in his hands, and bowed his 
head against the back of the sofa. " Oh, woman, 
woman ! " he groaned. 

" The witness can now retire," said Hatch, and 
amid Mrs. Le Roy's protestations of good inten- 


tioii and regret, and her mystification as to what it 
all meant, he took her by her vast shoulders and 
pushed her out of the door. " You 're all right, 
Mrs. Le Roy," he explained. " See you again in 
half a second. Now, doctor," he continued, turn- 
ing to the desperate figure on the sofa, " you see 
how it is. It 's just as I said ; you 're on the wrong 
tack. You can't make any headway in connection 
with professional mediums. You can't have your 
theories applied in the right spirit. What you 
want to do is to back out and start new." 

Boynton controlled himself, and, turning about, 
looked up at Hatch with a candor that was full of 
immediate courage and enterprise. " My friend, 
you are right! I see my error, now; but experi- 
ence alone could have shown it to me. I have at- 
tempted to work in the public way, when I should 
have strictly confined m^'self to the social way. I 
see that my success depends upon the application 
of my theories by followers purely disinterested. It 
may be that no progress can be otherwise achieved, 
in psychological science. The experiment must be 
absolutely free from mercenary alloy." 

" Yes," said Hatch ; " if you let them see that 
there is money in it, you can't get an honest count. 
Human nature is too much for you." 

" The true method," Boynton mused aloud, 
"would be first to form some sort of society, in 
which the material basis was secured, and in which 
there would thus be leisure and disposition for the 
higher research. There are elements in our own 


neighborbood which could be as favorably operated 
with as — Yes, the result will be much slower than 
I thought ; but in the end it will be sure, beyond 
all peradventure. Egeria ! " he cried, starting up, 
" we will go home ! " 

"At once — now — to-day ? " asked the girl, her 
pale cheeks flushing. 

" This very hour. There is not a moment to be 
lost. Go and put our things together, child." 

Egeria turned towards the door ; then she came 
back towards Hatch. " We won't say good-by 
now, Miss Egeria. I shall be at the depot to see 
you off." 

" Yes, don't dela}'," said her father, impatiently. 
"We will be off by the fix'st train." She went out, 
and he mechanically carried his hand to his pocket. 
" We can't go ! " he cried, as if a sudden pang had 
caught him. " I have n't five dollars in the world ; 
we are in arrears for board. You see, my dear 
friend, there is no hope." 

" Oh, yes, there is," said Hatch, with the ease of 
a man who had suspected something of this kind. 
" This gives me a chance to pay you my old bill, 

" My dear sir, I hope you would n't offer me an 
affront," said Boynton, staying the hand Avith which 
Hatch was opening his porte-monnaie. 

" That 's what I said to you when you would n't 
let me settle with j'^ou for my sickness, — or words 
to that effect." 

" Mr. Hatch, you — move me ! " 


" How much do you owe Mrs. Le Roy ? " asked 

"■ I have n't the least idea," replied Boynton. 
" It may be three weeks, — it may be two. How 
long have we been here?" 

" We must ask Mrs. Le Roy that." Hatch rang 
again, and tliis time Mrs. Le Roy herself answered 
the bell. " The doctor 's going away, Mrs. Le Roy, 
and he wants to pay up." 

" Well, I 'm real sorry," said the woman, who 
had her bonnet on, as if about to go out, " to have 
you go, Dr. Boynton, — you and Miss Egeria both. 
But I guess you better. I thought, may be, Mr. 
Hatch was up to something of that kind. I don't 
think you 're just fit for the business. You put too 
much dependence on other folks, and you 're sure 
to get exposed in the end. I don't suppose but 
what there 's as much truth in it as there is in any- 
thing," she said, by way of reservation. 

Boynton answered nothing, and at a look from 
Hatch Mrs. Le Roy added, " Well, it 's two weeks, 
— thirty dollars in all." She took the money from 
Hatch and put it in the pocket of her dress. 
" Well, I 'm going out now, and I shall be gone 
till evening ; so if I don't see you again, I '11 say 
good-by at once, Dr. Boynton. Come and see me 
when you 're up to Boston." 

She held out her hand to Boynton, who refused 
it with a very short " No ! " and a quick sliake of 
the head. " You are a charlatan," he added, — "an 


Mrs. Le Roy stared at him, until his meaning 
dawned upon her. Then it amused her through her 
whole huge person, which shook with her enjoy- 
ment. " Why, land alive, man! what are youV 

" Something quite beyond your comprehension," 
replied Boynton, with overwhelming state. 

" Well, well ! " said Mrs. Le Roy, as she went 
contentedly out of the room, " you certainly are a 
new kind of fool." 

They heard the stairs creak under her tread, as 
she went slowly and comfortably up ; then they 
heard her voice, as she made her adieux to Egeria, 
who was probably too dimly informed as to her fa- 
ther's point of honor to be able to take her stand 
upon it. " Poor child ! " they heard Mrs. Le Roy's 
voice saying, " I hope you '11 stay at home, and get 
well rested. You look half sick, now. Good-by. 
I wish I could stay and see you off. But I can't. 
I 've got a see-aunts with a patient of mine at her 
house, and I suppose I must go." She added in a 
louder tone, for the listeners below, " Take care of 
that poor old father of yours, and don't let him ex- 
cite himself, /should be afraid he 'd go out of his 
head, — if he was mine." 

Hatch looked at his watch. " You won't be able 
to get the two o'clock train," he said. " But I '11 
tell you what," he added : " you don't want to stay 
here to-night, after what 's passed between you and 
Mrs. Le Roy, and you can take the five o'clock train 
on the Fitchburg road as far as Ayer Junction, and 
there you can connect with a train on the new road 
to Portland. You '11 have a little night travel." 


" Oh, that will make no difference," said the doc- 
tor. " I would rather travel all night than stay 
here. I feel that if I 'm to begin anew I can't be- 
gin too soon. I shall be eternally grateful to you 
for your suggestion, my dear friend. I am sure 
now that it is in the right direction." 

"Good!" said Hatch. "I shall not leave till 
nine o'clock on the Albany road, and I shall have 
plenty of time to see you off. You '11 have to bank 
with me to the extent of tickets home, and I '11 
have to come down any way and get them for you : 
I have n't the money about me for them, now." 

Hatch seemed to think that the doctor might 
take offense at this, but he merely said, " Yes, yes ; 
quite right," and gave his hand dreamily, as the 
young man went out. 

" Tell Miss Egeria I will meet you at the depot. 
Be there with you half an hour before the train 

" Thanks," said Boynton, and hardly waited for 
him to be gone before he lapsed into the easy cor- 
ner of the sofa, apparently forgetful of all that had 
vexed him ; his face was eager with the rush of his 
hopes and purposes, as he abandoned himself to a 
sort of intense reverie. At times he rose and walked 
the floor, but mostly he kept his place on the sofa. 
He took no counsel with Egeria, and he gave her 
no help in the work of packing, about which she 
went swiftly in the rooms overhead. It was not a 
great work, and it was finished before his reverie 
was ended. She looked in at the door when it was 


done, dressed for going out in a costume which was 
at once fantastic and shabby. In her viUage life it 
had once been her best dress, and it looked as if 
there had subsequently been some sketchy attempts 
to make it over into a street costume for city use ; 
her bonnet was of a former season ; her soiled gloves 
were frayed at more than one of the fingers. " I 
shall be back in a minute, father," she said, button- 
ing one of the poor gloves. " I 'm going out on an 
errand." He looked at her, but did not seem to see 
her, and she passed on out. 

At the next corner she stepped, after a hesitation 
at the door, into a little shop where they sold news- 
papers and stationery, and bought a few sheets of 
note-paper and envelopes, halting some time in her 
choice, and finally deciding on some paper of an 
outlandish color and envelopes of a rhomboid shape : 
they were not in good taste, but they were recom- 
mended to Egeria as a kind that the shopwoman 
" sold a great many of." Returning to her own 
room she wrote a letter, which, when finished, she 
tore up, hiding the fragments in her pocket ; she 
began a second, which she also destroyed ; at last 
she took the pieces of the first, and carefully putting 
them together copied them slowly in the small, pain- 
ful hand of one neither acquainted with the bold 
angularities of the fashionable female scrawl, nor 
accustomed to write any hand. 

At the letter-box in front of the Fitchburg depot 
she faltered a moment ; then, for her father was 
pushing on into the building, she caught her letter 
from her pocket, and posted it. 


Ford received Egeria's letter the next morning. 
He examined its outside, as people do that of letters 
coming to them in strange handwriting, and he be- 
stowed a derisive curiosity upon the person who 
could choose that outlandish shape for a missive. 
A dashing hand might have authorized the form, 
but Egeria's hand was timid and feeble, and only- 
heightened its absurdity. She had not quite known 
how to address him ; she had decided at last to be- 
gin without that formality. 

" I do not know why you refused what my father 
asked you to do ; but we were imposed upon as well 
as you. You had a right to suspect us ; but Ave had 
nothing to do with those things. If you knew about 
us at home you would not regret that you had re- 

" I felt grateful to you ; but perhaps it is wrong 
to write. If it is, I can only say that I meant it 
truly and rightly. 

" Egeria Boynton." 

Ford read this note many times over, and then 
mused long upon it. But he put it by, at last, and 
did a good morning's work, and at one o'clock he 
gathered up the copy he had made, and carried it 


out to the newspaper office. He found himself 
•without appetite for the lunch at his boarding- 
house, and he wandered about, the early part of 
the afternoon, j)laying in his mind with a tendency 
■which was drawing him in the direction of the 
Boyntons. The origin of all our impulses is ob- 
scure, and every motive from which we act is 
mixed. Even when it is simplest we like to feign 
that it is different from what it really is, and often 
we do not know what it is. It would be idle, then, 
to attempt to give the reason Ford alleged to him- 
self for yielding to the attraction which he felt. 
His cheek flushed and his pulse quickened, as he 
mounted the steps to Mrs. Le Roy's door ; but this 
was the mood, half shame and half thrilled expec- 
tation, of many people who rang her bell. 

The door was set ajar by the servant, who re- 
vealed a tliree-quarters view of her face and a slice 
of her person in response to Ford's summons. He 
asked if Dr. Boynton or Miss Boynton were at 
home, and she answered that they were gone, add- 
ing, " I don't know as they 're gone for good ; " and 
as he turned lingeringly away she said that Mrs. Le 
Roy was in. 

"I '11 see her," rejoined Ford, and entered. 

Mrs. Le Roy made him wait her coming some 
minutes. He must have been announced to her 
merely as a gentleman, for after greeting him first 
with " How do you do, sir ? " she added, " Ah, hoiv 
do you do ?" as if upon recognition, and offered him 
her hand. 


" I don't know that I ought to have troubled 
you," said Ford ; " but I wished to ask when you 
expected Dr. Boynton back." 

" Why, they ain't coming back ! "- exclaimed Mrs. 
Le Roy. " They 've gone home. Did n't she tell 
you so ? " 

" She ? Who ? " asked Ford. 

" The girl." 

" Miss Boynton ? " 

" Laws, no ! The girl at the door." 

" Oh ! " replied Ford, in confusion. " No ; she 
said she was n't certain." 

" Well, they have." 

Ford rose. After a moment's hesitation, he 
asked, " They live somewhere in Maine, I believe ? " 

" Yes, down there some'er's," assented Mrs. Le 
Roy, indifferently. 

" Do you know their address ? " 

" Well, no, I don't," Mrs. Le Roy admitted. She 
asked, after a questioning glance at Ford, " Did 
you want to find out anything about them ? " 

" Yes," returned Ford. 

" Well," exclaimed Mrs. Le Roy, " I could give 
you a see-aunts." 

'' Awhatf' 

" A see-aunts, — consult the spirits." 

" Oh ! " said Ford. " No, thanks. I have n't 
time now," he said, as he would put off an importu- 
nate barber who had offered him a shampoo. " I 'm 
sorry to have troubled you." 

" Not at all," said Mrs. Le Roy, following him 


out into the hall. " We have test see-aimtses the 
first Sunday evenin' of every month. Should be 
pleased to see you any time." 

" Thanks," said Ford. 

At the head of the street he met Phillips, walk- 
ing toward the Public Garden. "Ah," said Phil- 
lips, " I was thinking of you." 

" Were you ? " growled Ford. 

" Yes. I wanted to ask if you 'd heard anything 
more of the Pythoness and her papa. They 're 
as curious an outcome of this bubble-and-squeak 
that we call our civilization as anything I know of. 
How did 3'ou find them ? " 

" I did n't find them ; they 've gone away," said 
Ford, not caring to deny the imj)utation that he 
had been to look them up. 

" Gone away ? How extraordinary ! Has the 
doctor found Boston such a barren field, after all ? 
Ford, you 've deprived us of a phenomenon. You 
ouscht to have met him. It is n't often that a 
father comes and invites a young man to contest 
his control over his daughter. The contest is gen- 
erally against the old gentleman's wishes. Where 
have they gone ? " 

"They 've gone home," replied Ford. 

" And that is " — 

" I don't know. In Maine, somewhere." 

" I might have known, in Maine, — the land of 
Norembega, the mystical city. The witches settled 
Maine, when they were driven out of Salem. You 
will find all the witch names down there. Well, 


I 'm sorry they 're gone. I bad counted upon see- 
ing more of them. One doesn't often find such 
people in one's way. I 've been specuhiting about 
thera since I saw you, and I find myself of two 
minds in regard to them, — just as I was before I 
began. I suppose we must consider them parts of 
a fraud ; the question is whether they are conscious 
or unconscious parts of it. If they 're unconscious, 
it 's pathetic ; if they 're conscious, they 're fascinat- 
ing. I don't wonder you could n't keep away, — 
that you had to come and try for another interview 
with thera. As for me, I wonder that I have n't 
fluttered about them continually ever since I first 
saw them. The girl is such a deliciously abnormal 
creature. It is girlhood at odds with itself. If 
she has been her father's ' subject ' ever since child- 
hood, of course none of the ordinary young girl in- 
terests have entered into her life. She has n't 
known the delight of dress and of dancing; she 
has n't had ' attentions ; ' upon my word, that 's very 
suggestive ! It means that she 's kept a child-like 
simplicity, and that she could go on and help out 
her father's purposes, no matter how tricky they 
were, with no more sense of guilt than a child who 
makes believe talk with imaginary visitors. Yes, 
the Pythoness could be innocent in the midst of 
fraud. Come, I call that a pretty conjecture ! " 

" Why do you waste it on me ? " said Ford. 
" You could have made your fortune for the even- 
ing with that piece of quackery at the next place 
where you dine." 


" Oh, it is n't lost," said Phillips. " I was n't 
wasting it ; I was merely trying it on. Will you 
go with me to see a picture I 'm hesitating about ? " 

" No ; you know I don't understand pictures." 

"Ah, that's the reason I want you to see it. 
You are the light of the public square, the average 
ignorance, — an element of criticism not to be de- 

" If I thought I could be of use," said Ford, 
" I 'd come." 

" You can. But what is the matter? Why this 
common decency ? " 

" I owe you a debt of gratitude. You 've given 
shape to the infernal sophistry that was floating 
through my mind, and made it disgusting." 

Phillips laughed. "About the Pythoness? My 
dear fellow, I 'm proud of that conjecture. It was 
worthy of Hawthorne." 


Egeeia and her father had reached the station 
an hour before their train was to start ; and the 
time, after the first flush of their arrival, began to 
hang heavy on her father's hands. Now that he 
had set his face homeward, he was intolerant of 
delay. He looked at the waiting-room clock, and 
compared it with the clock above the tracks out- 
side ; he blamed Hatch for not being there to meet 
them, and fretted lest he should not come at all. 
It would be extremely embarrassing to be left be- 
hind, he said ; he complained that it had the effect 
of placing him in a dependent position, and that 
Hatch had taken advantage of his temporary desti- 
tution to inflict a humiliation upon him. He said 
he would go out and look about the station while 
waiting, and he impatiently permitted Egeria to 
go with him. An idle throng were hanging about 
the draw of the Charlestown bridge, watching some 
men in a barge who were supplying air to a sub- 
marine diver at the bottom of the dock. The local- 
ity of the diver was indicated by the bubbles that 
rose and broke on the surface and floated away on 
the swift tide. 

" Egeria," said her father, with instant specula- 


tion, " if it were possible to isolate a medium thus 
absolutely from all adverse influences, great results 
might be expected. A speaking-tube of rubber, 
running from the mouth of the submerged me- 
dium " — He looked at the girl, who smiled 

"I shouldn't have the courage to go under the 
water, — I should be afraid of the fish." 

" At first, no doubt," replied her father. " But 
I was not thinking of you. I should like to see 
the experiment tried with Mrs. Le Roy." 

Boynton was not jesting, and his daughter did 
not lavigh at a proposal which would doubtless have 
amused the seeress herself. " How strange," said 
Egeria, as they turned away, " the western sky is ! " 

" Yes ; the wind has changed to the east. The 
Probabilities, this morning, promised a storm." 

" And the frames of all these railroad draw- 
bridges against that strange sky " — 

" Yes, yes," said her father ; " they look like so 
many gibbets. It 's a homicidal sight, — or sui- 
cidal." He gave a little shiver, and they walked 
back into the station, where the train they were to 
take was just making up. Boynton looked about 
for Hatch, but was arrested in his impatient scru- 
tiny of the others by the presence of two men, 
whose peaceful faces no less than tlieir quaint dress 
distinguished them from the rest of the thickening 
crowd. They wore low-crowned, broad-brimmed 
hats of beaver ; one was habited in a straight- 
skirted coat of drab, and the other in a like gar- 


ment of dark blue ; their feet, in broad, flat shoes, 
protruded from pantaloons of a conscientiously un- 
fashionable pattern. Their hair hung long in their 
necks, and when one lifted his hat to wipe his fore- 
head he showed his hair cut in front like a young 
lady's hang. They seemed quite at their ease un- 
der the glance of the passers, and talked quietly 
on, even when Boynton, expressing a doubt as to 
whether they were Quakers, halted Egeria, and 
lingered near them. 

" That is so, Joseph," said one who seemed the 
younger, and was much the graver of the two. " It 
began with our people, and I think it will get its 
only true development among us. In the world out- 
side, its pi^ofessors are as bad as the hireling priest- 
hood of the churches." 

" Yee," assented he called Joseph, with that 
quaint corruption through which the people of his 
sect fail in the scriptural injunction they strive to 

" As soon as the money element touched it, it 
began to degenerate, and now it 's a trade, like any 
other. They are tempted all the while to eke it 
out with imposture." 

" Nay, Elihu, not in all cases. At least, they 
don't yield to the temptation in all cases. You 
must not let your judgment be too much swayed by 
the single case that has come to your knowledge." 

" They can't be Quakers," said Egeria, in a low 
voice ; " they say ' you,' and not ' thee ' and ' thou.' " 

Her father did not answer ; he pressed her hand 


to make her keep silence, and insensibly drew her 
a little nearer to the men. 

" Yee," replied the younger, " it is well to avoid 
a hasty judgment ; but it is foolish to blind one's 
self to the facts. And the facts are that in such 
hands as this gift has fallen into in the world out- 
side it is mere sorcery, — a spell to conjure with." 

" Nay, it is something better than that. It is 
still a proof of life hereafter to those who could re- 
ceive no other evidence." 

" Yee, that may be. But I feel that it cannot 
truly prosper except with those who are leading the 
angelic life, here and now." 

These words, these phrases, had visibly made a 
great impression upon Boynton. His daughter saw 
that he was longing to accost the speakers. But at 
that moment she caught sight of Hatch coming out 
of the ladies' room, and looking anxiously about as 
if seeking them. 

" Oh ! " she cried gladly, " there 's Mr. Hatch ! " 
and she pulled her father away with her. 

The two men turned at the sound of their going, 
and gazed after them. 

" That is a strange couple," said he called Joseph. 
" Did you notice them as they stood here ? " 

"Yee, I saw them. They seemed to be listening. 
But we were not saying anything to be ashamed of, 
and I thought they could not receive any harm from 
overhearing us. They looked like stage players to 
me : before I was gathered in, I used often to see 
such folks." 


" Do you think they are man and wife? " 

" Nay, I don't know." 

" He seemed too old to be her husband." 

" That often happens in the world." 

" Yee," said Joseph ; " but I never like to see a 
young wife with an old husband. And there is 
something pleasing in a pretty young couple : they 
seem happy." 

" Nay," returned the other, " what does it matter 
to us how they mate together ? " 

They stood looking after Egeria and her father, 
whom Hatch had now joined. "They seem to 
have found friends," said Joseph. " I don't think 
she is the elderly man's wife." 

Hatch hurried them into the waiting-room ; and 
then he went to buy their tickets, and have their 
baggage checked. 

" I 've got 3'our trunks checked, doctor," he said, 
when he returned and sab down beside them. " But 
you '11 have to change cars at Ayer Junction. You 
won't have any trouble, though : you just walk out 
of the end of the depot, and take the train standing 
across the track of the one you've come on. You 
can stop at Portland, when you get there, or you 
can make the connection, and push right through, 
and be home by morning. I 've been looking it all 
up for you in this Guide." He drew a book out of 
his pocket. 

" Oh, we shall want to push right through, 
sha'n't we, father?" asked Egeria. 

But her father had apparently lost all concern in 


the return home for which he had but now been so 
eager. He had listened with apathy to Hatch's ex- 
cuses for his delay, and he had received with in- 
difference the checks and tickets the young man 
had brought him. " We will see how we feel when 
we get to Portland," he answered testily, hand- 
ing the money he had borrowed to Egeria. " Mr. 
Hatch," he added, presently, with the mystery in 
wdiich he liked to involve simple things, " are you 
pressed for time ? " 

" I have all the time there is," replied Hatch, 

" Then oblige me by remaining here for a moment 
with Egeria, — for one moment only." 

He left them, and they looked blankly at each 

" Your father," Hatch began, " seems a little off 
the notion of going back." 

" Yes," assented Egeria, dispiritedly. 
" Well, of course ; that 's the reaction. But he '11 
be all right again wlien the train 's started. I 
know how that is. Miss Egeria," he added, looking 
down at the neat valise between his feet, " I did n't 
tell the doctor, but I hope you won't object to com- 
pany part of your journey. I 'm going on your 
train as far as Ayer Junction." He met her look 
of amaze with one of triumphant kindliness. " Yes. 
You know I can go West Hoosac Tunnel way." 
" I did n't know," said Egeria. 
"Well, I can. And I thought I might be of 
vise to you in changing cars at the Junction, and so 
I 'm soins-" 


" I don't know what to say to you," Egeria mur- 
mured, brokenly. 

" I thought you 'd be glad," said Hatch. 

" Yes ; only you do too much," returned the girl. 

" Well, I'm a little in debt to your father, yet ; 
and I would do anything for — for your father. I 
hope you '11 make him push straight through to- 
night. I don't think your father 's quite well. Miss 
Egeria. He needs rest. He ought to be home." 

" Yes, he needs rest," said Egeria sadly. " I 'm 
glad we 're going home. But you know how it is, 
there, between him and grandfather," she added, 
reluctantly. " I don't know just where we '11 go. 
We can't go to our old house ; there are people in 
it ; and father would n't go to grandfather's, after 
what 's passed." 

" Oh, you '11 find friends there," said Hatch, 
hopefully. " At any rate, you '11 be among your 
kind of folks, and that 's something. And that re- 
minds me ; here 's a little note I want you to give 
your grandfather for me. I always liked the old 
gentleman," he added, giving her a letter. " He 
and I got along first-rate together. And I guess 
you can patch it up between him and your father." 

" Mr. Hatch," said Egeria, looking at the let- 
ter — " Or no, no matter." 

" What is it ? " 

" Nothing ; merely something I was going to ask 
you, — to ask your advice. But it's done now, 
and so it would be of no use." 

Hatch laughed. " That 's the times ladies usually 


apply for advice, — after a thing 's done. And, 
as you say, it ain't of much use then, — at least, not 
for that occasion." 

Egeria smiled sadly. " I suppose I wanted you 
to think I had done right." 

" Well, I think that without your asking me." 

Eo-eria put the letter away in her handbag, and 
put that carefully behind her on the seat, before she 
asked, a little tremulously, " Mr. Hatch, what do 
you think made him change his mind about it after 
he talked with you ? " 

An angry flush passed over Hatch's face, as he 
followed her meaning, and recalled the encounter of 
the morning. " I don't know. Such a man as that 
would n't need any reason. Perhaps he did n't 
change his mind. He mightn't choose to let me 
know what he intended to do." 

Boynton returned from the outside, and inter- 
rupted their talk. 

" I went to see if I could find those two men," he 
said to Egeria. " Some remarks that they dropped 
had a peculiar interest for me. But they were 
gone. Did you notice them, Mr. Hatch ? They 
stood near us Avhen we first caught sight of you." 

" Parties in broad-brims ? Yes, I saw them. 
But I did n't notice them particularl3^ What were 
tliej' talking about ? " 

" The life hereafter," said Boynton solemnly, 
" and the angelic life on earth." 

" Well, I don't know about the last, but the first 
is a good subject for a railroad depot. Makes you 


think whether you 've bought your insurance ticket. 
Quakers, I suppose." 

" No, they were not Quakers," answered the 
doctor, with dry offense. 

" Well, they looked it," said Hatch. " Perhaps 
they belonged to some of the new religious brother- 
hoods. I 've seen fellows going round with skirts 
down to their heels ; I believe they 're pretty good 
fellows, too ; they take care of the sick and poor. 
But I don't see why they can't do it in sack coats." 

" It 's possible that these are of the brotherhood 
you mean," said the doctor. " I wish I could see 
them again." He looked vexed and disappointed. 

" Well, you may run across 'era," returned Hatch, 
easily. " Perhaps they '11 be on our train." He 
added, at the doctor's inquiring look, " I 'm going 
to Troy by the tunnel route ; I shall be with you 
as far as Ayer Junction." 

" Oh," returned the doctor, with a little surprise, 
but with as little interest. " Is n't it time to go 
on board ? " 

" Guess we might as well," said Hatch, gather- 
ing up Egeria's things and her father's, beside his 
own compact luggage, and following Boynton, as 
he went out free-handed. Hatch had taken his 
berth in the sleeping-car, and he got thera seats in 
this luxurious vehicle as far as the Junction. Boyn- 
ton stared anxiously about the car, and walked up 
and down the aisle. " Remain here wdth j\Ir. Hatch 
a moment, Egeria," he said. "I will be back, pres- 


Egeria made a little start of protest, but Hatch 
repressed her with a touch. " Let him go," he 
whispered, as the doctor pushed off. " He 's after 
those Corsica!! Brothers. They can't do hii!! a!iy 
harm, a!id they '11 occupy his !!ii!id. Who did you 
think they were ? " 

" I could n't tell," said Egeria. " I was sure they 
were Quakers ; but they did n't use tlie plain lan- 
guage. I think father thought they were talking 
about the spirits," she added, dejectedly. 

" Well, I 'm sorry for that," replied Hatch. " I 
think he 's got enough of the spirits for one while. 
But probably the}^ were i!'t, if they 're any of those 
new kind of brothers. If they are, I hope he '11 
find 'em. They can give him some talk o!! the 
other side." 

The doctor ca!!ie back, ai!d sat dow!! with an 
air of satisf actio!!. " I 've fouiid them, Egeria," he 
said. " But the seats all about thei!! were occu- 
pied, so that I could !!'t get a place near theiii. I 
overheard them say that they were going to Ayer, 
where friends are to meet the!!i." 

" Well, that 's lucky," Hatch interposed. " You 
may get a glimpse of the!!! there. You '11 have to 
wait twenty minutes for connections. It 's sui-- 
prising how n!uch you can do in twenty !!iinutes 
whei! you 're on the road. Why, twe!!ty minutes 
on the road are as long as the good old twei!ty min- 
!!tes a fellow used to have when he was a boy. 
But they wo!!'t go any further in the way of time, 
generally, tha!! twenty dollars will in the way of 


mone}', nowadays ; we seem to have got an irre- 
deemable paper currency in botb things, since I 
grew up. I wish we could get back to a gold basis. 
I should like to see half a day or half a dollar of 
the old size. Why, doctor, you must remember 
when they were both as big as the full moon ! " 

The weather had been growing colder since 
morning, and though they had run out under clearer 
skies than those of the sea-board, the sun set at 
last in a series of cloudy bars, through which his 
red face looked as through the bars of a visor, be- 
fore it dipped ont of sight, and left the west pale 
and ashen. The lengthening twilight of the season 
prevailed over the landscape, sodden from long 
snow, and showing as yet no consciousness of the 
spring. It was sad and bare, and the gii'l shrank 
from its cold melancholy after a shivering glance. 
Presently her father rose and went into the next 

" Going to make sure of his Brothers," said the 
young man. He looked at his watch. "We 're a 
little late ; but I shall have time to see you on 
board the Portland train when we get to the Junc- 
tion. We ought to have had th-e twenty minutes 
there together ; but we sha'n't ; my train leaves 
before yours does. I wish I was going on the 
whole way with yon! " 

"I wish you were," responded Egeria. "But 
yon must n't lose any time when we get to the 
Junction ; you might miss your own train." 

" I could n't afford to do that. But there '11 be 


time. Now, I '11 tell you what, Miss Egeria : I 
want you to write to me when you get home. You 
know I shall want to know you 've got there." 

" Yes, I will," answered Egeria. 

" There ! " said Hatch, tearing a leaf from his 
pocket-book, in which he had written, " that '11 
fetch me. I shall be a fortnight in Omaha before 
I push on to California. When I get back, in June, 
I 'm coming to see you ! " 

" You may be sure we shall be glad to have 
you," answered Egeria, putting the address in her 
bag. " I 'm so eager to get home, it seems as if I 
could fly. I 'd rather be in the grave-yard there 
than lead the life we have the last three months, 
I hope I shall never come away again ! " she added, 
while the tears started to her e^^es. 

" Well, I hope you won't if you don't want to," 
said Hatch. "But I guess we won't talk about 
grave-yards in that connection. I 'm coming back 
to find you strong and well, and your father in the 
good old track again." 

" Yes," murmured the girl. 

The doctor came in and resumed his seat. 

" Corsican Brothers all right ? " asked Hatch. 

" They are still there," replied the doctor, gravely 
accepting the designation. 

" Well, you '11 have to cut it shorter than I 
thought for at Ayer," said Hatch. " We 're a 
little behind time. But I guess you can transact 
all the buiness you have with them in fifteen min- 


" In fifteen minutes ? " Boynton looked doubt- 
ful and unhappy. 

" Why," said Hatch, with a laugh, " I '11 see that 
5^ou get the whole time. I '11 find your train with 
Miss Egeria, and put her into it. You ought to 
have some supper, though. I '11 ask the Brothers 
to hold on till you 've had a cup of tea." 

" I shall want nothing to eat," replied the doc- 
tor, excitedly. " If you will take charge of Egeria, 
I shall be obliged to you. I must speak to them." 

" All right," said Hatch. "Don't be anxious," 
he whispered to Egeria, as they emerged into the 
crowd and clamor at the Junction. Locomotives 
were fuming and fretting under cover of the sta- 
tion ; without, their bells were bleating everywhere ; 
people ran to and fro, and were pushed about by 
men with long trucks ; the baggage men hurled 
the trunks from one train to another, and called 
out the check numbers in metallic nasals. Hatch 
made his way with Egeria to the train standing 
across the Fitchburg track, and piled up her things 
in a seat. " Remember the train and car," he said, 
making her look round, when they came out again. 
" Now come get something to eat." He hurried 
her into the eating-room, and ordering supper he 
left her and went to find the doctor. It was some 
minutes before he returned with him, crest-fallen 
and disappointed. 

" Did you see them ? " asked Egeria, interpreting 
his gloom aright. 

" No," said her father, " I have missed them." 


" Good-by, doctor; good-by, Miss Egeria," said 
Hatch, who had been paying for the supper. " That 's 
my train," he added, at the sound of a bell. " Good 
luck to you ! " 

Egeria clung to his hand. " But your supper ! " 

" That 's the doctor's supper. I shall snatch a 
bite at Fitchburg." 

" Oh ! " moaned Egeria. But he was gone, and 
she turned to urge her father to eat. 

" Oh, I want nothing, — I want nothing," he said, 
impatiently ; but the girl pressed him, and after 
she had made him drink a cup of tea, she followed 
him out of the eating-room. At the door, he gave 
a joyful start. There, not ten paces away, were 
the men whom he had seen at the depot in Boston, 
and whom he had been so anxiously seeking. A 
third, dressed like them, and of a like placidity of 
countenance, was talking with them. Nothing now 
could prevent Boynton from accosting them. He 
launched himself towards them with an excitement 
strangely contrasting with their own calm. 

" Gentlemen," he said, " I must beg your pardon 
for addressing you. But I saw you in the depot at 
Boston " — 

" Yee," interrupted he called Elihu, tranquilly, 
" we saw you there." 

" And — and — I chanced to overhear something 
in your conversation " — 

" Yee," said the other, as before, " we saw you 

" Well, well ! I confess it, — I confess it ! " cried 


Boynton, even more impatient than disconcerted. 
" I felt constrained to listen : your words seemed 
to me a message, a prophecy, a revelation. May I 
ask, gentlemen, if you were talking about spiritual- 
ism ? " 

" Yee, we were." 

"Father, — father, we shall lose our train!" 
pleaded Egeria. 

The three strange men, from studying Boynton 
intently, turned and looked kindly at her, while he 
continued, " And were you — you were — Gentle- 
men, this is a subject that interests me greatly, — 
vitally, I may say. Pardon me if I seem too bold. 
You Avere saying that this science, this dispensation, 
— this — this — call it what you will, — originated 
with some society of which you are members ? " 

" Yee." 

The bell was ringing for their train to start ; 
Egeria essayed another meek appeal of " Father, 
our train is going ! " and was hushed with a harsh 
" Silence ! " from Boynton, who eagerly pursued, 
" And this society — this — Gentlemen, what are 
you ? " 

" We are of the people called Shakers," replied 

" Exactly ! Exactly ! I see it, — I understand it 
all ! I understand now how you can make the only 
just claim to the development of these phenomena. 
In your community alone is the unselfish, the self- 
devoted, basis to be found, witliout which we can 
rear no superstructure to the skies. I have wasted 


my life ! " he cried, — " wasted my life ! Does your 
community live near here ? " 

" Yee," answered the eldest Shaker, cautiously, 
" some miles back. This brother has driven over 
from home." 

" I wish to be one of you ! " said the doctor. 

" Nay," answered the Shaker, " that needs reflec- 

A train began to cross the front of the station. 
Egeria's long-sufferiug broke in tears. At sight of 
her distress, the Shaker added, " Friend, there goes 
your train." 

"Well, Avell!" exclaimed Boynton, distractedly, 
" you shall hear from me ! " He turned with Egeria, 
and ran towards the cars, the Shakers followiug, 
and making signals to the engineer. The train 
moved slowly, and Egeria and her father scrambled 
aboard. She led the way to the rear car, in which 
her things were left ; but on going to the seat mid- 
way of it which Hatch had chosen for her, she could 
not find them. She sank down, stupefied. Her 
father noticed neither her loss nor her distress. She 
waited hopelessly for the conductor's coming, and 
when he appeared she asked him timidly if he had 
seen her things. He said he would ask the brake- 
man about them, and added in the tone of formal 
demand, " Tickets ! " The doctor surrendered them 
without looking at the conductor. " These tickets 
are for Portland," said the conductor. " You 're on 
the wrong train, — this is the down train." 

" Oh, put us o£E, then, please," implored Egeria, 
"• and we '11 walk back." 


" Up train left before this did," said the man, 
" and you could n't get it any way." 

"Oh, what shall we do!" lamented the girl. 
" How shall we ever get home ? " 

" I can take you on to Egerton ; train does n't 
stop till we get there. You can go up on the morn- 
ing express." 

"Bat we can't pay!" gasped Egeria. "Our 
money was all in one of my bags ! " 

The conductor looked as if this might or might 
not be true. He glanced at Egeria's shabby dress, 
and his face hardened as he said, " I can take you 
to Egerton," and passed on. 

Boynton had sliown little concern in the matter, 
as if it were no affair of his. Egeria did not appeal 
to him for counsel or comfort, but sank back into 
her seat, and wept silently. In the twilight her 
tears could not be seen ; when it grew darker, and 
the lamps were turned up, she averted her face, and 
stared out of the black window with streaming eyes. 

When the train stopped, and the brakeman called 
"Egerton," she led her father from the car, and 
began to walk with him from the station up into 
the village. 


Egerton is a village that presents a winning as- 
pect to the summer visitor when he goes thither in 
June, and finds it at peace with all the world, in 
the shadow of immemorial, uncanker-wormed elms. 
Its chief street wanders quaintly, with a pleasant 
rise and fall, and on either hand are the large square 
mansions of a former day, and the trim, well-kept 
French-roof villas of ours. Hammocks, with girls 
reading novels in them, are swung between door- 
yard trees ; swift buggies go by on the wide, dust- 
less street ; the children of summer visitors, a little 
too well dressed, play in the cool paths ; all day long 
there is lounging and light literature and smoking 
and flirtation on the piazzas of the big summer hotel. 
But the place is far from being a mere summer re- 
sort ; it is a village, with its own life, expressed in 
comfortable homes, in a post-office, an apothecary's, 
a local bank, and various stores, all elm-embowered. 
A lovely country lies about it, dipping to a fertile 
valley on one side, and stretching on the other level 
and far, with an outlook to yet farther hills. 

On the chilly April eve when Egeria and her 
father walked aimlessly away from the station up 
into the village, it did not wear the welcome it gives 


the summer visitor. Here and there a lamp pierced 
the gathering night, and about the stores and post- 
office there was a languid stir ; but the houses 
darkled away into the gloom of the country. A 
wind was rising ; it took the elms over the street, 
and swung their long, pendulous boughs about under 
the sky, dully luminous with the coming storm. 

The doctor had seemed carelessly indifferent 
about all that had happened ; indeed, scarcely cog- 
nizant of it. He looked vaguely round as they 
passed through the space in front of the hotel. 
" Where are you going, Egeria ? " he asked. 
" I don't know. We have no money." 
" No money ? " 

" You gave me the money, and I put it into my 
bag that was carried off on the train to Portland." 

" Ah, true, true," responded her father, as if he 
granted the trivial point for argument's sake. He 
added, with a sort of philosophical interest in the 
fact, " Well, we are beggars now, — houseless beg- 
gars, who don't know how to beg ! Yet I have no 
doubt there are doors enough on this street that 
would fly open at our touch, if it were known that 
we were without shelter and in need. Where shall 
we apply, my dear ? " 

" Oh, I don't know, — I don't know." 
"All the houses seem dark," mused Boynton 
aloud. " If we rang, and made them the trouble 
of lighting hall and parlor lamps in the belief we 
were visitors, it would have a bad effect. We will 
stop at the first house where we seie a light at the 



front windows." But when tliey came to such a 
house, it seemed too brightly lighted, and they 
walked wearily by. At last, they paused before a 
door where the illumination was neither too brill- 
iant nor too faint ; and while they stood question- 
ing themselves as to the form of their petition, 
the lamp at the window was suddenly blown out. 
They did not speak, but turned and kept on their 
way. They had passed through the denser part of 
the village, and the houses began to straggle at 
wider and wider intervals along the road. Pres- 
ently they found themselves in the open country, 
between meadows and fields, with what seemed a 
long stretch of forest in front of them. But before 
they reached it they came to a wayside country 
store, in front of which they halted. 

" I have an idea, Egeria," said her father. " 1 
will step into this store and pledge your ring for a 
night's lodging." 

" Well," said Egeria, yielding it with dull indif- 
ference. She went with him to the door, and lin- 
gered there while he addressed the man behind the" 
counter with his airy flourish. It required time for 
the situation to make itself intelligible. Then the 
man took the ring extended to him, and looked 
coldly, not at it, but at Boynton. When the rus- 
tic leisure of the establishment had gathered itself 
about the transaction, he returned it. " I ain't no 
goldsmith," he said. 

" I beg your pardon ? " queried Boynton. 

The man lifted his voice : " May be it 's gold, 
and may be it 's brass." 



" Well, you 'd ought to know. Anyhow, I guess 
■we can't trade." The spectators admired a fellow 
citizen's cool ability to deal with a confidence man. 
Boynton turned away with dignity, and addressed 
a young fellow in the group. "Can you tell me," 
he said politely, " my shortest way to Ayer Junc- 
tion ? I was brought here by mistaking the down- 
ward for the upward train, at that point." The 
listeners grinned at the shallow imposture, but the 
young man answered civilly that if he was going 
to walk he had better take the road to Vardley, 
keeping due northward on that street. He came 
to the door to be more explicit, and, throwing it 
open, discovered Egeria to the others. 

" Funny pair of tramps," said one of them, loud 
enough for the wanderers to hear. 

" I guess they ain't any tramps,^'' said the store- 
keeper, darkly. 

" Why ? " asked the other. 

" Well, I guess they ain't tramps," repeated the 
man in authority. His success in coping with 
Boynton made the rest feel that he had a meaning 
withheld for the present from regard for the pub- 
lic good ; they kept silent ; his interlocutor spread 
out his hands as in an act of submission above the 
stove. He did not speak again, but after a while 
another took up the word. 

" They say them Shakers at Vardley keeps a 
house a puppose for lodgin' tramps," he said, hold- 
ing his knee between his clasped hands, as he sat, 


and striking the heel of his boot against the side of 
the stove. 

Another silence followed, while a lounger on the 
other side of the stove worked his lips for expec- 
toration against the iron ; but it was too lukewarm 
to hiss. 

" The old gentleman can put up with 'em, and 
heep his ring, if he steps along pretty spry. 'T ain't 
more 'n about five mile, is it, Parker?" 

After a decent pause, " Well, I don't know what 
the country 's comin' to," sighed a local pessimist. 

" Oh, I guess it '11 all come out right in the end," 
returned a local optimist. This put the pessimist 
down ; the talk had wandered from horses, at Boyn- 
ton's appearance, and now it reverted to horses. 

The young fellow who had gone to the door with 
Dr. Boynton did not return within ; he walked a 
little way up the street with him and Egeria, and 
recollected to warn them about a turning to the 
right which they were not to take. When he 
parted with them at a corner, he stood and gazed 
after them, with perhaps a kindly impulse in his 
heart fainting through bashfulness and doubt, while 
they held their way till they drew near the edge of 
the forest. It looked black and dreadful under the 
darkened sky ; they stopped before reaching it at a 
little house which stood upon its borders. 

" We must ask here," said Egeria desperately. 
" Well, you ask, then, my dear," said her father. 
" They won't deny a woman." 

Egeria knocked, and after a long interval the 


light from the rear of the house disappeared, and, 
the door being opened, was held scarily aloft above 
the head of an elderly woman who surveyed them 
with an excited face. 

Egeria briefly told her story, and ended with a 
prayer for a night's shelter. " Just let us sit by 
your fire. We won't trouble you, and in the morn- 
ing we will go on." 

The woman did not change countenance. " You 
hain't any of them that 's escaped from the re- 
form school?" she demanded, in a high, frightened 

Egeria again explained their case. " I don't 
know where the reform school is. This is my fa- 
ther, and we are honest people I " she added indig- 

" Well," said the woman, in the same key as be- 
fore, and clinging to her preconception, " I guess 
you better go back. The off'cers is sure to catch 


" Oh, and won't you let us in ? " 

" Why, I could n't, you know, — I could n't. You 
just keep right along. It 's early yet, and there 's 
a tavern up this road, — well, it ain't more 'n four 
mile, if it 's that ; you can put up there." 

" Is this the road to Vardley ? " asked Boynton. 

"Yes, yes, — straight along," said the woman, 
who had been making the aperture between them 
smaller and smaller: she now finally closed the door 
with a quick bang, and bolted it. 

"What shall we do ? " whispered Egeria. 


" I don't know," her father faltered, in reply. 

" Let us go back to the station," said the girl. 
" They will let us stay there, and then in the morn- 
ing we can take the train — Oh, but we have n't 
any money to pay our way back ! " She broke out 
into a wild sobbing. 

" Don't cry, don't cry," said her fathei*, sooth- 
ingly. " "We will walk on. Some one must receive 
us. Or, if not, we can't starve in a single night, 
and at this season we can't perish of cold." As 
they resumed their way, something struck lightly 
in their faces. " Rain ? " said Boynton, stretching 
out his hand. 

" No," answered Egeria, " snow." 

Neither spoke as they entered the deep shadow 
of the forest, which in this part of Massachusetts 
covers miles of country, where the farmer has ceased 
to coax his wizened crops from the sterile soil and 
has abandoned it in despair to the wilderness from 
which his ancestors conquered it. 

The road before the wanderers began to whiten. 
" Oh, when shall we come to a house ? " moaned 
the girl, shrinking closer to her father, and clinging 
more heavily to his arm. 

She started at the sound of voices and the red 
glare that came from a sheltered hollow of the 
woods beside the valley into which the road de- 
scended. Around a large fire crouched a party of 
tramps : one held a tilted bottle to his mouth, and 
another clutched at it ; the rest were shouting and 
singing. As Egeria and her father came into the 


range of the firelight, the men saw them. They 
yelled to them to stop and have a drink. The one 
who had the bottle snatched up a brand from the 
fire with his left hand and ran towards them. His 
foot must have caught in some root or vine ; he 
fell, rolling over his bottle and torch, and while he 
screamed out that he was burning up, and the rest 
rushed upon him with laughter for his mishap and 
curses for the loss of his bottle, Egeria and her 
father fled into the shadows beyond the light. 

Terror gave her force, but when she felt herself 
safe her strength began to fail. 

" I can't go any farther," she said, releasing her 
hand from her father's arm, and sinking upon the 
wayside bank. " We will wait here till morning." 

He made her no answer, but stood looking uj) 
and down the road. " Egeria," he said at last, " I 
fancy that it 's lighter ahead of us than it is behind, 
and that we 're near the edge of the woods. Try 
to come a few steps farther." He lifted her to her 
feet, and they moved painfully forward. It was as 
he said : in a little whilet he woods broke away on 
either hand, and they stood in the middle of cross- 
roads ; on one corner was a house. But as they 
drew near the verge of the open, the sound of 
voices stayed them ; they were the voices of young 
men and young girls laughing and calling to one 
another, as they issued from this house on the 
corner. " It 's a school-house," said her father ; 
"they 've had some sort of frolic there." 

" Well, you won't get the Unabridged for spell- 


ing merry^ Jim ! " shouted one of the youths to an- 

"Oh, how does he spell it?" cried one of the 

" He spells it M-a-r-y ! " 

The laugh that followed repeated itself in the 

" That 's a good joke for hoot-owls ! " retorted 
some one who might be Jim. 

" A spelling match," Boynton interpreted. 

A noise of joyous screaming and scuffling came 
from within the house as a light was quenched 
there, with cries of " I should think you 'd be 
ashamed ! " and " Now, you stop ! " and the like ; 
and a bevy of young people came scurrying from 
the door. 

" Hello ! " shouted one of the young men, " what 
about the books ? " 

"I don't know," answered another. " Guess no- 
body '11 hurt the books before morning." 

" I wish they 'd steal mine ! " said the gay voice 
of a girl. 

" But the fire, — we 've left a roaring fire." 

" Well, let it burn the old thing down." 

" All right ! " 

They hurried forward, shouting to the party 
ahead, who answered with a medley of derisive 

When they were all gone, and their voices had 
died away, the wanderers crept to the door of the 
school-house, which they tried anxiously. It opened, 


and they entered. A gush of mellow light from 
the stove door, left open to let the fire die soon, 
softly illumined the interior. They drew some 
benches close to the stove, and sank away from the 
sense of all their misery. 


The last thing of which Egeria had been aware 
before she fell asleep was her own shadow thrown 
by the firelight against the school-house door. She 
thought it was this when she looked again. But 
the door melted away from around the shadow, and 
the shadow took feature and expression. Rousing 
herself with a start, she saw that it was a young 
girl, cloaked and hooded, standing in the open door- 
way. The pale, bluish light of a snowy morning 
filled the school-room. The girl stood still, and 
looked at Egeria with a stony gaze of fear. The 
past came back to her; the situation realized itself. 
Her father, a shabby, disreputable heap of crumpled 
clothing and tumbled hair, was still asleep ; her 
own beautiful hair had fallen down her shoulder. 

" We will go, — we will go," she whispered to 
the girl in the door-way, with a face as frightened 
as her own. " It 's my father. We were walking 
to Vardley ; we did n't know where we were, and 
we found the school-house door unlocked, and we 
came in." She caught at the wandering coils of 
her hair, and twisted them into place, and tied on 
her bonnet. 

The girl in the door-way looked as if she would 


like to run away, but she came in, gasping, and 
shut the door behind her. " You 're not tramps ? " 
she made out to ask. 

" Oh, no, no, no ! " replied Egeria, and she inco- 
herently poured out the story of their misadvent- 

The other girl drew a long breath. " And you 
were going to Vardley Station ? " 

" Yes." 

" That 's more than three miles from here." 
Egeria did not say anything, but she turned to wake 
her father. " Oh, don't wake him ! " cried the 
other girl, with a new start of terror, and a partial 
flight towards the door. " I mean," she added, 
coming back with a blush, " let him sleep. I — 
I 'm the teacher ; and I 've come to build the fire. 
You can warm by it before you go. The scholars 
won't be here yet for an hour." Every word was 
visibly a conquest from fear, a fulfillment of duty. 

The teacher took off her water-proof, the hood of 
which she had drawn up over her head, and showed 
herself a short, plain girl, with a homely face full of 
sense and goodness. Her hair, cut short, clung 
about her large head in tight rings. She looked at 
Egeria's ethereal beauty and the masses of her hair, 
not enviously, but with a kind of compassionate ad- 

The fire had gone down in the stove, and there 
was still imbedded in the ashes a line of live embers 
keeping the shape of the original maple stick. She 
raked the coals forward, laid on some splinters and 


bark, and then logs, and closed the door ; the fire 
shouted and roared witlnn. 

The teacher sat down on a bench across the stove 
from Egeria, took into her lap the tin pail she had 
brought with her, and raised the lid, discovering 
a smaller pail within, packed round with pieces of 
mince-pie, doughnuts, and biscuit with slices of cold 
meat between the buttered halves. She lifted this 
out, and set it on the stove ; she tore some leaves 
out of a copy-book, and laying them on the iron put 
the slices of pie on them. She did not say anything 
to Egeria, who had no authority to interfere with 
her proceedings. " I 'm sorry it is n't coffee," she 
said, looking into the pail on the stove ; " but I 
can't drink coffee; so it 's only cracked cocoa. Now 
wake him." 

But the stir of garments, the low voices, and the 
fragrant smell of the cocoa and mince-pie had al- 
ready roused Boynton. He lifted himself, looked 
at Egeria, and stared at the teacher, to whom 
presently he made a courteous bow. She replied 
by pouring some of the cocoa into a saucer, which 
she took from the bottom of the larger pail, and 
handing it to him. 

" I beg your pardon ? " he said sweetly. 

" There 's another saucer," said the teacher eva- 
sively ; " but you '11 have to eat your pie out of 
them afterwards." 

Her father saw Egeria supplied with cocoa, and 
tlien drank with the simple greed of a cliild. 

"This — this lady is the teacher, father," said 


Egeria. Boynton, brightened by his draught, bowed 
again, and the teacher gravely acknowledged his 
salutation. " I 've told her how we came here." 

" Yes, yes," said Boynton ; " most disagreeable 
coincidence. I can assure you that in a somewhat 
checljered career I have never met with a more 
painful experience. At times, really I have hardly 
been able to recognize my own indentit3\ But it 's 
well for once, no doubt, to find ourselves in the 
position in which we have often contemplated 

The teacher took the pie from the smoking paper 
and slid a piece into each saucer. " I presume it 
isn't very wholesome," she said, "but I 've heard 
that Mr. Emerson says, if you will eat it, you 'd 
best eat it for breakfast, so that you can have the 
whole day to digest it in." 

" Emerson," said the doctor, receiving his saucer 
with one hand, while he opened his handkerchief 
and spread it on his knees with the other, " is a 
very receptive mind. I fancy that there is a social 
principle in these matters which is n't clearly as- 
certained yet. Where whole communities eat pie, 
as ours do, there must be an unconscious coopera- 
tive force in its digestion." 

The teacher looked at him, but answered nothing. 

" I 'm afraid," said Egeria ruefully, " that it 's 
your dinner." 

" The children always want me to eat part of 
theirs," the teacher explained. " I could n't think 
of your asking at a house for your breakfast. The 


country is overrun with tramps, and they might 
suppose " — She stopped and blushed, and then 
she added with rigid self-justice, " Well, I don't 
know as it was so strange I should." 

" No," said Egeria, " you could n't have thought 
anything else. That 's what they took us for every- 
Avhere." She spoke with patience and without 
bitterness, but she did not eat her breakfast with 
the hungry relish of the outcast she had been mis- 
taken for. 

The teacher sat looking at them, and a new sense 
of their forlornness seemed to flash upon her. 
" Why, you have no outside things !" 

" No," said Egeria ; " they all went off on the 
train we lost." 

The teacher said, like one thinking aloud, " If 
you are not telling me the truth about yourselves, 
it will be your loss, and not mine." Then she 
added, " I don't want you should try to walk to 
Ayer ; it would kill you, in this snow. You must 
take the cars at Vardley Station." She drew out 
her purse. " There," she said, handing Egeria some 
bits of scrip, " it 's ten cents apiece to the Junction ; 
and here," she continued, thriftily putting the bis- 
cuit together in a scrap of paper, " is something 
for your lunch on the cars." 

Egeria made no reply. From time to time she 
had lapsed from all apparent sense of what was go- 
ing on. She now looked blankly at the teacher. 

Her father was not so helpless. " JNIy dear young 
lady," he exclaimed, "you are perfectly right in 


your estimate of the consequences and penalties ! 
If we were deceiving you, we sliould be the suf- 
ferers, and not you. There is a law in these things 
which no individual will can abrogate. In the end, 
truth and good always triumph." He had finished 
his pie, and he now took a draught of cocoa. 
" Have you many pupils ? " he asked. 

"No," replied the teacher, " not many. The old 
people say there used to be forty or fifty, but now 
there are only sixteen." 

Boynton shook his head. " Yes, it is this uni- 
versal tendency to the cities and the large towns 
which is ruining us. Well, Egeria, shall we be 
going? " He had eaten and drunken to his appar- 
ent refreshment, and he was now ready to push on. 

Egeria cast a look out of the window, and rose 

" I 'd ask you to stay," said the teacher, taking 
note of her weariness, " but the children will be 
coming very soon, and " — 

" Oh, no, no ! we could n't stay. We must go." 

The teacher took down her water-proof from the 
peg on which she had hung it, and, eying it a mo- 
ment thoughtfully, handed it to Egeria. " I want 
you should wear this. You '11 take your death if 
you go out that way. You can give it to the de- 
pot man at Vardley Station, and tell him it 's Miss 
Thorn's. He '11 send it back by the stage this af- 
ternoon, and I '11 get it in plenty of time." Egeria 
did not reply, but stood looking at the teacher with 
a jaded and wondering regard. 


"I will take it for her, Miss Thorn," said the 
doctor, advancing with a sprightly air, and receiv- 
ing the cloak. " I will see that it is duly returned. 
And let me thank you," he added, " for your kind- 
ness at a time when, really, we should have been 
embarrassed without it. My name is Boynton, — 
Dr. Boynton. Though you can scarcely have heard 
of it." 

" No," said the teacher, reluctantly, but firmly. 

" Ah ! " returned the doctor. But he did not 
attempt to enlighten her ignorance. He said, 
" Come, Egeria," and led the w^ay to the door. 
The girl turned and looked vaguely at the teacher ; 
but no words of farewell or of thanks passed be- 
tween them. 

The doctor issued cheerfully, even gayly, from 
the school-house door. The wind had changed, 
and was blowing from the south. Whiffs of white 
cloud were sailing far overhead in the vast expanse 
of blue, from which poured a mellow sunshine. 
The snow, translucent in the light, and dark blue 
in the shadow, clung lazily to the trees and the 
eaves, from which at times the breeze detached it, 
and tossed it away in soft, large clots. Some un- 
seen crows made themselves heard in the distance ; 
near by, on the fence, a little bird stooped and 

" A bluebird ! " cried Boynton. 

" Yes," answered the teacher ; " there were a 
good many yesterday, before the weather changed. 
Robins, too." 


He made her an airy bow, and Egeria looked 
back at her over her shoulder as they walked out 
into the road. " Why, the snow-plow has gone 
by ! " he exclaimed, with simple delight in the 
effect, and the teacher saw him stop and point out 
to Egeria the drift, massively broken, and flung 
on either side in moist blocks by the plow. She 
watched them from the school-house door- way till a 
turn of the road hid them from sight. Then she 
went within, and cast a doubtful glance at the peg 
where her water-proof had hung. But her face 
changed as her eye fell to the staunch and capacious 
rubber-boots standing in order below the peg. " I 
don't believe that girl had the sign of a rubber ! " 
she mused aloud, in the excess of her compassion. 



The adventure of the day before and the exer- 
cise of their night-walk, with the good breakfast he 
had eaten, seemed to have brightened Boynton past 
recollection of all the soxtows he had known. He 
went forward, discoursing hopefully, and develop- 
ing a plan he had for leaving Egeria with her grand- 
father, and returning to this region in order to look 
up the Shaker community, with which he intended 
to unite for the purpose of spiritual investigation 
on the true basis. For some time he did not ob- 
serve that she responded more languidly and indif- 
ferently than her wont ; then he asked abruptly, 
" What is the matter, Egeria ? " 

" I don't know. Nothing. I am not very well." 

" You ought to be, in such air as this. Let me 
see." He caught up her wrist. " Rather a quick 
pulse ; it may be the walking. Are you hot? " 

" My feet are cold, — they 're wet." 

He looked down at her shoes, and shook his head 
in a perplexed fashion. " We must stop somewhere 
and dry your feet." 

"• They would n't let us," said Egeria, in a dull 

" We will stop at that tavern. Perhaps we can 


get a lift there with some one going to tlie station." 
He took her hand under his arm, and helped her 
on. She did not complain, nor did she show any- 
increasing weariness. 

They had been passing through a long reach of 
woodland that stretched away on either side of the 
road, when they came to a wide, open plateau, high 
and bare. It looked old, and like a place where 
there had once been houses, though none were now 
in sight ; from time to time, in fact, the ruinous 
traces of former habitations showed themselves by 
the wayside. A black fringe of pines and hem- 
locks bordered the plain where it softly rounded 
away to the eastward ; a vast forest of oak and 
chestnut formed its w'estern boundary. At its 
highest point they came in sight of a house on its 
northern slope, a large, square mansion of brick ; 
an enormous elm almost swept the ground with its 
boughs, on its eastern side ; before it stood an old- 
fashioned sign-post, and westward, almost in the 
edge of the forest, lay its stabling. 

" That must be the tavern," said Boynton, in- 
stinctively making haste towards it. As they drew 
near, they saw a light buggy standing at the door, 
and a man who seemed to unite the offices of host 
and ostler holding the horse by the head. ■ He 
turned from smoothing the animal's nose, and 
called to some one within, " Come, hurry up, in 
there ! " A red-faced man, in the faded and mis- 
shapen clothes which American manufacture and 
the clothing store supply to our poor country-folks, 


issued from the door, wiping his mouth on the back 
of his hand, and slouched a^Yay down the road. 
Then a girl, dressed in extreme fashion, of the sort 
that never convinces of elegance, nor ever mistakes 
itself for it, with her large hands cased in white 
gloves, came out and waited to be helped into the 
buggy. The thick, hard bloom on her somewhat 
sunken cheeks was incomparably artificial, till the 
dyed mustache of the man following her showed 
itself ; this was of a purple so bold that if his hair 
had been purple too, and not of a light sandy color, 
it could not have looked falser. They had a little 
squabble, half jocose, which the man at the horse's 
head admired, before he lifted her to the seat. The 
landlord handed him the reins. 

" Well, give us another call, Bob," he said. 

The other looked at him over his dyed mustache 
without answering, while the girl stared round with 
her wild black eyes, as if startled at finding herself 
perched so high up in the light of day. Both at the 
same time caught sight of Boynton and Egeria, who 
fell behind her father as he approached the door- 
way. The man leaned toward the girl and whis- 
pered something to her, at which she gave him a 
push and bade him stop his fooling. 

" Can I get a conveyance here to carr}'" us to 
Vardley Village ? " asked Boynton, accosting the 

" I don't know," answered the man, looking 
doubtfully at the doctor and Egeria. He turned 
his back on them in the manner of some rustics 


who wish to show a sovereign indifference, and 
made a pace or two towards the door, before he 
half faced them again. 

" Well, good-by, Tommy ! " said the man in the 
buggy, drawing his reins, and then checking his 
horse. " Look here, will you ? " 

The landloi'd went back, and the man leaned 
over the side of the buggy and said something in 
a low tone. 

" No ! " cried the landlord. 

" Bet you anything on it ! " said the man. " Get 
up ! " He drove awa3\ 

" Come in," said the landlord to the doctor, "and 
I '11 see." 

Egeria shrunk from following her father, who 
was mechanically obeying, and murmured some- 
thing about walking. 

" Oh, come in, come in ! " said the landlord, more 
eagerly. " I guess I can manage for you. Come 
in and rest ye, any way." 

" Come, Egeria," said her father. 

The landlord was a short, stout man, with a 
shock of iron-gray hair and a face of dusky red, 
coarse and harsh ; his blood-shot eyes wandered 
curiously over Egeria's figure. He led the way 
into the parlor of the tavern, which within had an 
air of former dignity, as if it had not been built for 
its present uses. The hall was wide and the stair- 
case fine ; the chimney-piece and wooden cornice 
of the parlor showed the nice and patient carpentry 
of seventy-five years ago. There was a fire in the 


slieet-iron stove on tlie hearth, and the lady who 
had just driven off in the buggy had left proof of a 
decided taste in perfumes. If Egeria had liked she 
might have dressed her hair at the glass in which 
this person had surveyed the effect of her paint, 
with the public comb and brush on the table be- 
fore it. There were some claret-colored sporting 
prints on the wall, and some tattered, thumb-worn 
illustrated papers on the centre-table. 

" I '11 tell ye what," said the landlord, who had 
briefly disappeared after showing them into this 
room, and had now returned, " I hain't got any 
boss in now, but I '11 have one in in about an hour, 
and then I '11 set ye over to Vardley." 

" What will you charge? " asked the doctor. 

" It ain't a-goin' to cost ye much. I d' know as 
I '11 ask ye anything. I 'ra goin' there, any way ; 
and I guess we can ride three on a seat." 

Boynton expressed a flowery sense of this good- 
ness, but said that they should insist npon paying 
him for his trouble. Egeria had dropped into the 
rocking-chair beside the window, and, propping her 
arm on the window-sill, supported her averted face 
on her hand. Her head throbbed, and the thick, 
foul sweetness of the air made her faint ; the glare 
of the sun from the snow and gathering pools beat 
into her heavy eyes. 

" Does your head ache ? " asked her father. 

" Yes," she gasped. 

" I '11 send in some tea," said the landlord. 

A black man brought it ; there seemed to be no 
women about the house. 


The landlord went and came often ; through her 
pain and lethargy, the ghl had a dull sense of his 
vigilance. Her father found her feverish, and no 
better for the tea she drank. He fretted and re- 
pined at her condition, and then he grew tired of 
looking at her pale face fallen against the chair 
back, and her closed eyes, that trembled under their 
lids, and now and then sent out a gush of hot tears. 
He went into the other room, where the landlord 
sat with his boots on the low, cast-iron stove, and 
a white-nosed bull-dog slept suspiciously in a corner. 
As the time passed, different people appeared within 
and without the tavern. A man in a blood-stained 
over-shirt drove a butcher's wagon to the door ; a 
tall man, in a silk hat, came with a fish cart painted 
black and varnished. With a blithe jingle of bells, 
a young fellow rattled up with a cracker wagon, 
and having come in for the landlord's order — the 
landlord did not find it necessary to take down his 
feet from the stove, or to disturb the angle at which, 
his hat rested on his head, during the transaction — - 
lie danced a figure on the painted floor, and caressed 
the bull-dog with the toe of his boot. " Next time 
you put up Pete," he said, " I want to bring my 
brother's brindle. I want him to wear the belt a 
spell. Pete must be gittin' tired of it. Well, I 
would n't ever said a dog-fight could be such fun," 
he added, with an expression of agreeable reminis- 
cence. " And the old ball-room 's just the place for 
it." He spat on the stove, and taking under his 
arm the empty cracker box, which he had just re- 


jjlaced on its shelf with a full one, he went out as 
he had come in, without saluting the landlord. He 
stopped at the open door of the parlor, and catching 
sight of Egeria made her a bow of burlesque devo- 
tion, and turned to include the landlord in the fun 
with a parting wink. 

Egeria had not seen him ; her eyes were closed ; 
and her father, where he sat in the office, was look- 
ing impatiently out of the window. The sky had 
begun to thicken again. 

" Do you think it 's going to rain ? " he asked, 
when the cracker wagon had jingled away. 
" Should n't wonder," said the landlord. 
" I hope yovu- conveyance will be here soon," pur- 
sued the doctor. " I 'm anxious, on my daughter's 
account, not to miss the train from Vardley that 
connects with the Portland express." 

" Daughter, eh ? " said the landlord, with a cer- 
tain intonation ; but Dr. Boynton observed nothing 
strange in it. 

" How soon do you think your horse will be 
here ? " he asked. 

"I can't tell ye," said the landlord doggedly. 
" You did tell me," retorted Boynton, " that it 
would be here in less than an hour. You have de- 
tained us that time already, and now you say you 
don't know how much longer I must wait." 

" Now, look here," began the other, taking down 
his feet from the stove. 

" I wish to pay you for what accommodation we 
have had. I wish to go," said the doctor, angrily. 


" I don't want ye should go ! " replied the other, 
"with a stupid air of secrecy. 

" I 've nothing to do with that," said the doctor. 
" I am going. Here is the money for your tea." 
He flung upon the counter the pieces of scrip which 
the school-teacher had given him. 

The landlord rose to his feet. " Ye can't go. I 
might as well have it out first as last. Ye can't go." 

" Can't go ? You 're ridiculous ! " Boynton ex- 
claimed. " What 's the reason I can't go ? " 

" Well, you can go, but the girl can't, — not till 
the off'cers comes. I mean to say," he added, at 
Dr. Boynton's look of amaze, " that she 's no more 
your daughter than she is mine. I d' know where 
you picked her up, but she 's one of the girls that 's 
escaped from the reform school, and she 's goin' 
back there as soon as the off'cers gets here. That 's 
what 's the matter." 

" And do you mean to say that you are going to 
detain us here against our will ? " 

" I don't know what you call it. I 'm going to 
keep you here." He had planted his burly bulk in 
the door- way leading into the hall. 

" Stand aside," said Boynton, " or I '11 take you 
by the throat." 

" I guess not," returned the landlord coolly. 
" Pete ! " The brute in the corner had opened his 
whitish, cruel eyes at the sound of angry voices. 
" Watch him ! " The dog came and lay down at 
his master's feet, with his face turned toward Boyn- 
ton. " There ! I guess you won't take anybody by 


the throat much I " The man resumed his chair, 
•which he tilted back against the counter at its 
former comfortable angle. 

Boynton quivered with helpless indignation. " Is 
it possible," he exclaimed, *' that an outrage like this 
can be perpetrated at high noon in the heart of 
Massachusetts ? " 

" That 's about the size of it," returned the land- 
lord, with a grin of brutal exultation. 

" I must submit," said the doctor. " But you 
shall answer for this." The man was silent, and 
the doctor fancied tliat he might perhaps be relent- 
ing. He poured out a recital of the whole misad- 
venture that had ended in their coming to his door, 
and appealed to him not to detain them. " My 
daughter has been sick, and she is now far from 
well. I am most anxious to pursue our journey. 
We have no friends in this region, and we are out 
of money. Let us go, now, and I will consent to 
overlook this outrageous attempt upon our liberty. 
If we lose the train this afternoon, she may suffer 
very seriously from the delay and the disappoint- 

" She '11 be all right when she gets back to the 
reform school," answered the landlord, as if bored 
by the long story. 

Boynton's self-command failed him. He burst 
into tears. " My God ! " he sobbed, " have I fallen 
so low as this ? — impostor, and tramp, and beggar, 
and now the captive, the slave, of this ruffian ! It 's 
too much ! What have I done, — what have I 


done ! " He hid his face in his hands, and bowed 
himself abjectly forward in the chair into which he 
had sunk. 

Some one drove up to the door, and shouted 
from the outside, " Hello ! " 

The landlord rose, and saying to his dog, " Stay 
there," went out to the door, and after a ba*ief 
parley came in again with two other men. Their 
steps sounded as if they went to the door of the 
parlor and looked in, while their voices sank to 
rapid whispers. In his agony of anxiety, Boynton 
made an involuntary movement forwards ; the dog 
growled and crept nearer. He was helpless ; but 
the steps returned to the outer door, and there a 
voice said, " No, I don't want to see A^m, as long 
as 't ain't the girl. Somebody 's made a dumn fool 
of ?/0M, Harris, and you 've made dumn fools of us. 
Guess 3^ou better wait a while, next time." 

The landlord came sulkily back, and sat down in 
his chair, which he tilted against the counter as be- 
fore. Boynton suffered some time to elapse before 
he asked, " Well, sir, do you mean to let us go? " 

"Who 's henderin' you? " sullenly demanded the 
landlord, without moving. 

" Then call away your dog." 

The landlord refused, out of mere brutish wan- 
tonness, to comply at once ; but he presently did so, 
and followed Boynton to the parlor. Then, accord- 
ing to Boynton's report, ensued a series of those 
events of wdiich the believers in such mysteries 
fiercely assert the reality, and of which others as 


strenuously deny the occurrence. The sky dark- 
ened ; there was a noise like the straining of the 
brandies of the elms beside the house ; but there 
was no wind, and the boughs were motionless. 
Presently this straining sound, as if the fibres were 
twisting and writhing together, was heard in the 
wood- work of the room. 

"What the hell is that?" cried the landlord. 
The room was full of it, whatever it was; every 
part of the wood-work — doors, window casings, 
cornice, Avainscot — was now voluble with a muf- 
fled detonation. 

" Wait ! " Boynton answered. The sound beat 
like rain-drops on the floor, at which the landlord 
stared, with the dog whimpering at his heels. Ege- 
ria lay white and still in the rocking-chair by the 
window. At the sound of their voices she stirred 
and moaned ; then, as Boynton asserted, they saw 
the marble top of the centre-table lifted three thnes 
from its place ; a picture swung out from the wall, 
as if blown by a strong gust; and the brush from 
the table was flung across the room, flying close to 
the dog's head ; with a howl, he fled out-of-doors. 

" For God's sake, man, what is it ? " gasped the 
landlord, seizing Boynton's arm, and cowering close 
to him. 

" I forgive you, I bless you ! " cried the other, 
rapturously. " It was from your evil that this 
good came. It 's a miracle ; it 's — it 's the pres- 
ence of the dead." 

"No, no!" protested the landlord. "I've kept 


a hard place ; there 's been drinkin' and fancy folks ; 
but there hain't been no murder, — not in my time. 
I can't answer for it before that ; they always tell 
about killin' peddlers in these old houses. Oh ! 
Lord have mercy ! " A flash of red light filled the 
world, and a rending burst of thunder made the 
house shake. The electricity appeared to rise from 
the ground, and not to come from the clouds ; it 
was, as sometimes happens, a sole discharge. The 
landlord turned, and followed his dog out-of-doors. 
The negro was already there, looking up at the 

Egeria started from her chair. " Did you will 
it, father, — did you will it?" she implored, at 
sight of Dr. Boynton's wild face. 

" No ; it has come without motion of mine," he 
answered with a solemn joy. " I have never seen 
or heard anything like it." He looked round the 
room, in which an absolute silence now prevailed. 

The girl shuddered. " I have had a horrible 
dream. The house seemed full of drunken men — 
and women — like that girl in the buggy ; and we 
could n't get away, and you could n't get to me, 
and — oh ! " She shook violently, and hurried on 
her hat and water-proof. " Come ! I can't breathe 

As they passed out the landlord made no motion 
to detain them ; he even shrank a few paces aside. 
When Boynton looked back from the next turn of 
the road, he saw him walking to and fro before the 
tavern, looking up now and then at its front, and 


taking unconsciously tlie cold rain that laslied his 
own face as he turned eastward again. He was in 
a frame of high exultation ; he shouted in talk with 
Egeria, who scarcely answered, as she pressed for- 
ward with her head down. 

The snow dissolved under the ram and flooded 
the road, in which they waded, plunging on and on. 
They came presently to a lonely country grave- 
yard, where the soaked pines and spruces dripped 
upon the stones, standing white and stiffly upright 
where they were of recent date, and where dark- 
ened with the storms of many seasons slanting in 
various degrees of obliquity to a fall. Here was 
one of those terrible little houses in which the 
hearse, the bier, and the sexton's tools are kept ; 
Boynton tried the door, and when it yielded to his 
battering he called to his daughter to take shelter 
with him there. 

" No ! " she shouted back to him, " I would 
rather die ! " She pushed, she knew not whither, 
down the road that wound into a stretch of pine 
forest, and he must needs follow her. At last they 
came to a hollow through which a brook, swollen 
by the snow and rain, rolled a yellow torrent. 
They stopped at the brink in despair; there was 
no house in sight, but on a knoll near by the trees 
stood so thick that the rain-fall was broken by the 
densely interwoven boughs. 

The doctor led Egeria to this shelter, and placed 
her in the dryest spot ; he felt her shiver, and heard 
her teeth chatter, as the waves of cold swept over 


her. He left her fallen on the brown needles, and 
went and tried the depth of the stream with a stick; 
the rain dripped from him everywhere, — from his 
elbows, from the rim of his silk hat, and from the 
point of his nose ; he looked at once weird and 

" Heh ! " cried a loud Yoice behind him. In a 
covered wagon crouched the figure of a young man 
in manifold caj)es and wraps of drab and blue, un- 
der the sweep of a very wide-brimmed hat. He 
had almost driven over Boynton. " Tryin' for 
w^ater, with a hazel-rod ? Guess you '11 find it most 
anywheres to-day." 

The voice was pleasant, and Boynton, looking 
up, confronted a cheery face in the wagon. " I was 
seeing if it was too deep to cross." 

" 'T ain't for the horses," said their driver. " Get 
in." He moved hospitably to one side. " You 
can't make me any wetter." 

" Thank you," said Boynton. " I have my daugh- 
ter here under the pines." 

" Your daughter ? " The young man in the 
wagon looked at first puzzled, and then, as he 
craned his neck round the side of the curtain and 
saw the little cowering heap which was Egeria, 
he looked daunted, but he only said, " Bring her, 

Boynton gathered her into his arms, and placed 
her on the seat between him and the driver. " We 
were going to Vardley Station," he explained. " Is 
this the way? " 


" It 's one way," said the other, driving through 
the torrent. " But I guess you better stop with 
us till the rain 's over. We '11 be home in half a 

" You are very good," said Boynton, looking at 
him. " We must push on. We must get back to 
the Junction in time for the Portland express." He 
once more gave the facts of their mischance. 

When he had ended, " Oh, yee," said the other ; 
" you are the friend that was speakin' to some of 
our folks at the Junction." 

The doctor started. " Your folks ? What are 
you ? " 

" Shakers." 

"Egeria! Egeria ! " shouted her father. "I 
have found them ! This gentleman is a Shaker ! 
He is taking us to the community ! I accept, sir, 
with great pleasure. I shall be glad to stop and 
see more of your people. Egeria ! " She made no 
answer. Her limp and sunken figure rested heav- 
ily against tlie young Shaker ; her head had fallen 
on his shoulder. 

" / guess she 's fainted," he said. 


Egeria had not fainted, but she had lapsed into 
a torpor from which she could not rouse herself. 
She could not speak or make any sign when her 
father drew her head away from the young man's 
shoulder and laid it on his own. The Shaker 
chirped his reeking horses into a livelier pace, and 
when he reached the office in the village he sprang 
from the wagon with more alertness than could 
liave been imagined of him, and ran in-doors to an- 
nounce his guests. 

Bi'other Humphrey and the three office sisters,^ 
very clean and very dry, with the warm smell of 
a stove fire exhaling from their comfortable gar- 
ments, received him with countenances in which 
resifrnation blended with the natural reluctance of 
people within to have anything to do with people 
without, in such weather. 

" Oh, better put them in the tramps' house," 
said Brother Humphrey, — " there 's a fire there." 

1 In placing pome passages of his story among the Shakers of 
an easily recognizable locality, the author has avoided the stndy of 
personal traits, and he wishes explicitly to state that his Shnkers 
are imaginary in ever3-thing but their truth, charity, and pnrity of 
life, and that scarcely less lovable quaintuess to which no realism 
could do perfect justice. 


"Yee," consented one of the sisters, "they will 
do very well there." 

" They would slop everything up here," said an- 
other, "and we've just been over our floors, La- 

The third was silent, but she wrung her hands 
in nervous anxiety, like one who would not be 
selfish, and yet would like whatever advantage 
may come of selfishness. 

" Nay," said Laban, " they 're not tramps. 
They 're the folks that Joseph and Elihu told 
about meetin' yesterday. I don't know as 3'ou'd 
ought to put them with the tramps. I guess the 
young woman 's in a faint." 

" Oh, why did n't you say so, to begin with, 
Laban ? " lamented that one of the sisters who had 
not yet spoken. " Of course she 's sick, and here 
we 've been standin' and troublin' about our clean 
floors, and lettin' her suffer. I don't see how I can 
bear it." 

" Oh, you '11 be over it by fall, Frances," an- 
swered Laban, jocosely. Humphrey caught up a 
cotton umbrella, vast enough for community use, 
and weather-worn to a Shaker drab, and sallied 
out to the gate. The doctor and Laban got their 
benumbed burden from the wagon between them, 
and carried Egeria into the house, where they were 
met with remorseful welcome by the sisters. They 
dispatched Brother Humphrey to kindle a fire in 
the stove of the upper chamber, reserved for guests, 
and into its sweet, fresh cleanliness Frances pres- 


ently helped Egeria, and then helped her into bed, 
while the others went to make her a cup of tea. 

Her father, meanwhile, had taken off his wet 
clothes, and arrayed himself in a suit belonging to 
one of the brethren, a much taller and a thinner 
man than Boynton, who made a Shaker of novel and 
striking pattern in his dress. But he beheld his 
appearance in the glass, which meagrely ministered 
to the vanity of the office guests, with uncommon 
content, as a token that he had already entered 
upon a new and final stage of investigation ; and 
when his tongue had been loosed by the cup of 
tea brought to him in the office parlor, he regarded 
liis surroundings with as great satisfaction. This 
room was carpeted, but it was like the rest of the 
house in its simple white walls and its plain finish 
of wood painted a warm brown ; there were braided 
rugs scattered about before the stove and the large 
chairs, as there were at the foot of the stair-ways, 
and at the bedsides in the chambers above. Dr. 
Boynton, stirring his tea, walked out into the low, 
long hall, bare but not cheerless, and traversed it 
to look into the room on the other side ; then he 
returned to the parlor, and glanced at the books 
and pamphlets on the table, — historical and doc- 
trinal works relating to Shakerism, periodicals de- 
voted to various social and hygienic reforms, and 
controversial tracts upon points in dispute between 
the community and the world ; there were several 
weekly newspapers, and Boynton was turning over 
one of them with the hand that had momentarily 


relinquished his teaspoon when Brother Humphrey 
rejoined him. 

" If we could have at all helped ourselves," he 
began promptly, '• I should consider our intrusion 
npon you most unwarrantable ; but we had no will 
in the matter." 

" Nay," replied the Shaker, " it 's no intrusion. 
This is not a family house. We call it the Office, 
for we do our business and receive friends from the 
world outside here." 

" Do you mean that you keep a house of enter- 
tainment ? " 

" Our rule forbids us to turn any one away. Of 
late years, the wayfaring poor have increased so 
much that we have appointed a small house espe- 
cially for them ; but we cannot put everybody 

" I thank you," said Boynton. 

" It is not a hotel," continued Humphrey, " for 
we make out no bills. All are welcome to what we 
can do ; those who can pay may pay." 

" I shall wish to pay, as soon as we can recover 
our effects," Boynton interposed. 

" Nayj I did not mean that," quietly rejoined the 
Shaker. " You are welcome, whether you pay or 

Boynton turned from these civilities. "I am 
glad to find myself here. I met two of your num- 
ber yesterday, and had some conversatitm w^ith 
them on a subject that vitally interests me." 

"Yee, I heard," said the Shaker. "You are 
spiritualists. Are you the medium ? " 


" M}' daughter is a medium, — a medium of ex- 
traordinary powers, which I dare not say I have 
developed, but to which I have humbly ministered ; 
powers that within the last hour have received tes- 
timony of the most impressive and final nature." 
Brother Humphrey made no outward sign of any 
inward movement that Boynton's words might have 
produced, and the latter suddenly demanded, " Are 
you a spiritualist ? " 

" Yee," answered the Shaker, " we are all spirit- 

"Then you will be interested — you will all be 
interested intensely — in the communication which 
I shall have to make to your community. I wish 
you to call a meeting of your people, before whom 
I desire to lay some facts of the most astounding 
character, and to whom I wish to propose myself 
for admission to your community, in order to the 
pursuance of investigations profoundly interesting 
to the race." 

He paused, full of repressed excitement ; but 
Brother Humphrey was not moved. " There will 
be a family meeting to-morrow night," he began. 

" To-morrow night ! " cried Boynton. " Is it 
possible that j^ou are so indifferent to phenomena 
that ought to be instantly telegraphed from Maine 
to California? That" — 

" We have heard a good deal of the doings with 
the spirits in the world outside," interrupted the 
Shaker, in his turn, " and we know how often 
folks are deceived in them and in themselves. If 


something new and important has happened to you, 
I guess it '11 keep for twenty-four hours." Brother 
Humphrey smiled quaintly, and seemed to expect 
his guest to take this common-sense view of the 

" Oh, it will keep ! " exclaimed the doctor. 
" But so would the thunder from Sinai have kept ! " 
He plunged into a vivid and rapid narration of the 
events of his captivity and release at the tavern. 

When he paused, the Shaker replied with un- 
perturbed calm: "These are things to be judged 
of by the family. I cannot say anything about 

" Is it possible ? " demanded Boynton, in a tone 
of indescribable disappointment. He seemed hurt 
and puzzled. After a while he said, " I submit. 
Could you let me have writing materials to take 
to my room ? I wish to make some notes." 

" Yee," said Humphrey. 

Boynton went to his room, which was across a 
passage-way from that where one of the sisters was 
still busy with Egeria, and he did not reappear till 
dinner, which Avas served him in the basement of 
the office, in a dining-room made snug with a stove- 
fire. As Boynton unfolded his napkin, " What 
are your tenets ? " he abruptly demanded of the 
sister who came to wait upon him. 

" Tenets ? " faltered Rebecca. 

" Your doctrine, your religious creed." 

" We have no creed," replied the sister. 

" Well, then, you have a life. What is your 
life ? " 


" We try to live the angelic life," said Rebecca, 
with some embarrassment : " to do as we would be 
done by ; to return good for evil ; to put down self- 
ishness in our hearts." 

" Good, very good ! There could be no better 
basis. But as a society, a community, what is 
your central idea ? " 

" I don't know. We neither marry nor give in 

" Yes, yes ! That is what I thought. That was 
my impression. I fully approve of your system. 
It is the only foundation on which a community 
can rest. And to keep up your numbers you de- 
pend upon converts from the world ? " 

" Yee." 

"But you bring up children whom you adopt ?" 

« Yee." 

" Do they remain with you ? " 

" We have better luck with those who are gath- 
ered in after middle life. The young folks — we 
are apt to lose them," said the Shakeress, a little 

" I see, I see ! " returned Boynton. " You can- 
not fight nature unassisted by experience. Life 
must teach them something first. They fall in 
love with each other ? " 

" They are apt to get foolish," the sister assented. 
" An'd then they run off together. That is what 
hurts us. They no need to. If they would come 
and tell us " — 

Boynton shook his head. "Impossible! But 


you have the true principle. Cehbacy is the only 
hope of communism, — of advanced truth." He 
ceased to question her as abruptly as he began ; but 
after he had dispatched his dinner, he asked leave 
to borrovi^ from the parlor a work on Shakerism 
•which he had noticed there, and he again shut him- 
self up in his room. That evening they heard him 
restlessly walking the floor. 

The sister who visited Egeria last had stood 
a moment, shading her lamp with her hand and 
looking down on the girl's beauty. Her yellow 
hair strayed loosely out over the pillow ; her lips 
were red and her cheeks flushed. The sister's 
tresses had been shorn away as for the grave thirty 
years before, and her face had that unearthly pallor 
which the Shaker sisters share with nuns of all or- 
ders. She stooped and kissed Egeria's hot cheek, 
and then went down to the office sitting-room to 
report her impressions to the other sisters before 
they slept. 

" It appears as if her father did n't want to go 
to bed," said Sister Diantha, after a moment's quiet, 
in which the doctor's regular tread on the floor over- 
head made itself audible. 

" If he 's got anything on his mind," said Sister 
Rebecca, " it ain't his daughter." 

" Yee, Rebecca," said Sister Frances, " you 're 
right, there. I told him I thought she was going 
to have a fit of sickness, but he said it wa'n't au}^- 
thine: but exhaustion, and 't he 'd see after her ; 't 
he was a doctor himself. To my knowledge he 


hain't been near ber since. J think she's goin' to 
have a fit of sickness." 

Brother Humphrey came in from the next room 
and stood by the stove. " How did you leave her, 
Frances ? " he asked. 

" Well, J think she 's goin' to have a fit of sick- 
ness," repeated Frances. 

" Well, I don't know 's you 'd have much to say 
agin that, would you?" returned the brother, after 
a general pause. " You hain't had a good fit of 
sickness on hand for quite a spell." 

The other sisters laughed. " Set down, Hum- 
phrey," said Diantha, putting him a chair. The 
maimer of these elderly women with Humphrey 
was of a truly affectionate and sisterly simplicity, 
to which he responded with brotherly frankness. 

" 1 guess she ain't goin' to be very sick," re- 
sumed Humphrey, making himself easy in his chair. 
"Any way, we've got a doctor to prescribe for 

" What do you think of him, Humphrey ? " 
a^ked Rebecca. 

"Pretty glib," said Humphrey. 

" I don't know as I ever heard better language," 
suggested Frances. 

" Oh, his language is good enough," said Hum- 

" It 's quite a convert Laban 's brought us," ob- 
served Diantha. " Talk of winter Shakers ! " she 
continued, referring to that frequent sort of convert 
whose Shakerism begins and ends with cold weather. 


" I hain't seen any one so ready to be gathered m 
for a long time." 

"Yee, too ready," said Humphrey, soberly. 
" That kind ain't apt to stay gathered in ; and I 'ra 
about tired havin' the family fill mouths for a 
month or two, and afterwards revilin's proceed out 
of 'era." 

" We must receive all, and try all," interposed 
Frances, gently. 

" Yee," sighed Humphrey. 

"What do you say to his story? " asked Dian- 

" I don't judge it," said the brother. " We know 
that spirits do communicate with men, and miracles 
happen every day. As to the doin's at the Elm 
Tahvern, Harris might tell a different story." 

" I should n't believe any story Harris told," said 

Humphrey smiled. " Well, I don't know as I 
should, come to look at it," he admitted. 

" I wish that nest could be broken up," said Re- 
becca. " Tt 's a cross." 

" Yee, it 's a cross," answered Humphrey. " I 
most drove over a man, dead drunk, in the road 
yesterday, comin' down into the Avoods, after I 
passed the tahvern ; and nearly all the tramps that 
come now smell of rum. The off'cers don't seem 
to do anything." 

" Oh, the off 'cers ! " cried Diantha. 

The walking had continued regularly overhead ; 
but now, after some hesitation, the steps approached 


the door, which was heard to open, and they crossed 
the hall to Egeria's room. From thence, after a 
brief interval, they descended the stairs, and Dr. 
Boynton, lamp in hand, entered the room. Tiie 
sisters rose in expectation. 

" I find my daughter in a fever," said Boynton, 
with an absent air. " What medicines have you in 
the house ? " 

" We have our herbs," answered Sister Frances. 

" They may be the best thing," said Boynton, 
with the same abstraction, as if he were thinking 
of something else at the same time. lie stood and 
waited amid a general silence, till Sister Frances, 
who' had gone out, reappeared with some neat pack- 
ages of the medicinal herbs which the Sliakers put 
up. He chose one, and asked for some water in a 
tin dish in which to steep it on the stove. 

" Let me do it for you," pleaded Sister Frances. 
The other sisters joined in an entreaty to be allowed 
to sit up with the sick girl. 

" No," said Boynton. " I have always taken 
care of her, and to-night at least I will watch with 
her. I could n't sleep if I went to bed, but I shall 
make myself easy in an arm-chair, if you '11 give me 
one." Humphrey went to fetch the chair, and as 
he passed the door, on his way up-stairs with it, 
Boynton called out to him, " Thanks ! If her fever 
increases," he continued to the sisters, " she will 
wake at eleven, and then I shall give her this. I 
shall need nothino; more. Good-nicht." 

He went out, and Sister Frances said, with per- 


Laps some sense of penalty in this loss of oppor- 
tunity for nursing the girl through the night, " I 
feel to say that I was hasty in judgin' on him." 

" Yee," said the others. " We judged him 

" We were too swift to blame," said Humphrey, 
who now returned. '• Let us remember it the next 

"But," added Sister Frances, "I hieiv aha was 
goin' to have a fit of sickness." 

The sisters took each a kerosene hand-lamp, and 
passed up the bare, clean halls to their chambers. 
The brother went about trying the fastenings of 
the windows and the locks of the outer doors. The 
time had been, before the time of tramps, when he 
never turned a key at night. 

In the morning Sister Frances made an early visit 
to Egeria's room, and found the girl and her father 
both awake. She was without fever now, but she 
lay white and still in her bed, and her father stood 
looking at her unhopefuUy. 

Sister Frances went down to the kitchen, where 
the other sisters were already busy getting Boyn- 
ton's breakfast. " It 's goin' to be a fit of sickness," 
she said. 

" Then she had best go to the sick-house," said 

" Yee," added Rebecca, at a look of protest from 
Frances, "that's what it's for, and she can be bet- 
ter done for there. It 's noisy here." 

She urged that it was noisy when they spoke, 


later, of Egeria's removal to Boynton, who owned 
that he could not now say she would not be sick : 
it was the belief of the office sisters that they lived 
in the midst of excitement. 

The day had broken clear, and the New Eng- 
land spring was showing herself in one of her 
moods of conscientious adherence to duty : she 
Avould perform her part with sunshine and birds, 
but she breathed cold across the brilliant landscape, 
and she warned vegetation that it started at its 
own risk. The Shaker village had awakened to its 
round of labors and self-denials as quietly as if it 
had not awakened at all. Some of the elderly, men, 
with the boys and the hired hands, were at work 
with the cattle in the great barns ; some were rak- 
ing together the last year's decay in the garden 
into heaps for burning ; some were busy in the 
workshops. The women went about their wonted 
cares in-doors, and there was no sign of interest in 
the arrival of guests at the office. Perhaps their 
presence had not been generally talked over in the 
family, but had been held in reserve for formal dis- 
cussion at the meeting in the evening. The office 
sisters consulted with the eldress in the family house 
opposite in reference to Egeria's removal, and the 
infirmary was made ready for her. It was aired, 
the damp was driven out by a hot fire in the stove, 
and Sister Frances strove to set its order still more 
in order ; a little fluff under the bed or a spot upon 
the floor would have been a comfort to her ; but 
everything was blamelessly, hopelessly neat. It 


was not quite regular for her to take an interest in 
things outside of the office, but she had been suf- 
fered to do so much in consideration of her afflic- 
tion at having a fit of sickness snatched from her 
care, as it were, and she was allowed a controlling 
voice in deciding upon the doctor's request to have 
a bed put up for him in the infirmary. Such a 
thing was hitherto unknown ; it was an invasion of 
family bounds by the world outside ; but it stood to 
reason that the girl's father had a double claim to 
be as near to her as possible, and after some con- 
scientious difficulty his request was granted. 

While they were making ready for her, Brother 
Elihu came to see him at the office, and gave him 
a sort of conditional welcome. He seemed to be a 
person of weight in the communit}', and after his 
brief visit Boynton perceived that his standing was 
more strictly probationary than before. There was 
no want of kindness in Elihu's manner ; he made 
several thoughtful suffijestions for the welfare and 
convenience of the Boyntons ; but he had shown 
no eagerness for the statement which the doctor 
wished to make to the community, nor for his ideas 
upon the development of spiritistic science. The 
statement, he said, could be made that evening, 
or at the next family meeting ; it did not matter ; 
there was no haste. " Spiritualism' arose among 
us ; our faith is based upon tlie fact of an uninter- 
rupted revelation ; the ver}'^ songs we sing in our 
meetings were communicated to us, words and 
music, from the other world. We have seen much 


perversion of spiritualism in tlie world outside, -- 
much error, much folly, much filth. If you have 
new light, it will not suddenly be quenched. Rest 
here a while. Our first care must be for the young 

" Yes, yes ! " assented Boynton restively. 

The office brothers and sisters had listened to 
Elihu with evident abeyance ; only Sister Frances, 
by looks and tones, expressed herself unchanged to 
Boynton. As the time drew on toward evening, 
and Egeria seemed to need constant watchfulness, 
she offered to take his place at the infirmary, and 
to let him know if he was needed at any time dur- 
ing the meeting. This made it easy for him to go, 
and Sister Frances established herself in attendance 
upon the sick girl. She was not afterwards dis- 
lodged from her place in the infirmary. There 
were nurses whose duty it was to care for the sick, 
but Frances clung to her patient, not in defiance, 
but in a soft, elastic tenderness which served her as 

Dr. Boynton went to the family meeting, and re- 
mained profoundly attentive to the services with 
which the speaking was preceded. He saw the 
sisters seated on one side of the large meeting-room, 
and the brothers on the other, with broad napkins 
lialf unfolded across their knees, on which they 
softly beat time, with rising and falling palms, as 
they sang. The sisters, young and old, all looked 
of the same age, with their throats strictly hid by 
the collars that came to their chins, and their close- 


cropped hair covered by stiff wire-framed caps of 
white gauze ; there was greater visible disparity 
among the brothers, but Mieir heads were mostly 
gray, though a few were still dark with youth or 
middle life ; on either side there was a bench full 
of sedate children. 

When the singing was ended, the minister read 
a chapter of the Bible, and one of the elders 
prayed. Tiien a sister began a hymn, in which all 
the family joined. At its close, a young girl rose 
and described a vision which she had seen the night 
before in a dream. When she sat down, the elders 
and eldresses came out into the vacant space be- 
tween the rows of men and women, and, forming 
themselves into an ellipse, waved their hands up 
and down with a slow, rhythmic motion, and rocked 
back and forth on their feet. Then the others, 
who had risen with them, followed in a line round 
this group, with a quick, springing tread, and a 
like motion of the hands and arms, while they sang 
together the thrilling march which the others had 
struck up. They halted at the end of the hymn, 
and let their arms sink slowly to their sides; a 
number of them took the places of those in the 
midst, and the circling dance was resumed, ceasing, 
and then beginning again, till all had taken part in 
both centre and periphery ; the lamps quivering on 
the walls, and the elastic floor, laid like that of a 
ball-room, responding to the tread of the dancers. 
When they went back to their seats, one woman re- 
mained standing, and began to prophesy in tongues. 


A solemn silence followed upon her ceasing, and 
then Brother Elibu rose, and said briefly that a 
friend from the world outside had a statement to 
make to the family, in the belief that he had ar- 
rived at central truths relating to spiritualism. He 
claimed to have been operating in a certain direc- 
tion, "with results as striking as they were un- 
expected. Elihu reminded them that as Shakers 
they had not been able to maintain a cordial sympa- 
thy with spiritualists in the woidd outside, who had 
too often abused to love of gain and the gratifica- 
tion of their pride and vanity the principle of spir- 
itual communion originally revealed to Shakers. 
Yet they could not in reason refuse to hear the 
statement of this friend, who kad, as it were, been 
providentially cast in their way, and who was ap- 
parently not moved by considerations of personal 
glory and profit, but who, from all he said, had 
the wish to remand the science into the keeping of 
Shakers, and to pursue his own investigations un- 
der tlieir auspices. Elihu spoke with neatness and 
point; he added some cautionary phrases against too 
hasty judgment of the facts about to be offered 
them, and warned them to beware of self-deception 
and the illusions arising from love of the marvelous, 
Avhether in their own hearts or the hearts of others. 
Boynton could scarcely wait for him to have 
done. " I thank the brother," he said, in rising, 
"for admonishing us to beware of self-deception; 
it is an evil which in an inquiry like this would 
prove fatal, — wliich does prove fatal wherever it 

178 thp: undiscovered country. 

mingles with religious impulse ; it poisons, it pal- 
sies, religious impulse. I have always guarded 
against it with anxious care, and, though some- 
times abused by the deceit of others, I have at least 
no cause to accuse myself of want of vigilance con- 
cerning my own impressions. I regarded with 
skeptical scrutiny the first developments o£ spirit- 
ualism. I had been bred in the strictest sect of the 
Calvinists, from which I had revolted to the op- 
posite extreme of infidelity ; I was a materialist, 
believing in nothing that I could not see, hear, 
touch, or taste. I rejected the notion of a Supreme 
Being ; I derided the hypothesis of immortality. 
The interest which I had taken in mesmerism only 
intensified my contempt for the whole order of mir- 
acles, in all ages. I saw the effect of mind upon 
mind, of mind upon matter ; but I saw that it was 
always the effect of earthly intellect upon earthly 
substance. I accounted even for the wonders pei'- 
formed by Christ and the Apostles by mesmerism, 
acting now upon tlie subjects of their cures and re- 
suscitations, and now upon the imaginations of the 

"When the new phenomena were forced upon 
my attention by their prevalence in so man}'- widely 
separated places, under so many widely differing 
conditions, I began to study them as the effect of 
mind upon inanimate matter. I did not suffer my- 
self to suppose a spiritual origin for these phenom- 
ena, for I would not suppose spirits. I imported 
into this fresh field of research tlie strict and hard 
methods with which I had wroug^ht in the old. 


*' My wife died during the infancy of the dangh- 
tei- who is here with me now, the involuntary guest 
of your hospitality, and her death was attended by 
occurrences of a nature so intangible, so mysteri- 
ous, so sacred, that I do not know how to shape 
them in words, but regarding which I may safely 
appeal to your own spiritual experience. In the 
moment of her passing I was aware of something, 
as of an incorporeal presence, a disembodied life, 
and in that moment I believed ! I accepted the 
heritage which she had bequeathed me with her 
breath, and 1 dedicated the child to the study of 
truth under the new light I had received. 

" That child has been my mesmeric subject al- 
most from her birth, and all my endeavors have 
latterly been to her development as a medium of 
communication with the other world. She was nat- 
urally a child of gay and sunny temperament, lov- 
ing the sports of children, and fond of simple, 
earthly pleasures. She showed great aptness for 
study, — she liked books and school ; and the ordi- 
nai'y observer would have pronounced her a hope- 
less subject for psychological experiment. But I 
argued that if spirit was truly immortal it was im- 
mutable, and that a nature like hers, warm, happy, 
and loving, would have the same attraction for per- 
sons in one world as in another. The event proved 
that I was not mistaken ; from the first, disem- 
bodied spirits showed a remarkable affinity for hers, 
and the demonstrations, though inarticulate and in- 
definite, were of the most unusual order. They 


frightened and disturbed her, and she did all that 
she could to escape from them. At different times, 
indeed, she effectually rebelled against my influ- 
ence ; and she was abetted in these periods of re- 
volt by those who, after myself, were nearest and 
dearest to her. But in the end my influence al- 
ways triumphed, for she loved me with the tender 
affection which her mother seemed to impart to her 
with the gift of her own life. I never appealed to 
this affection in vain, and I have seen her change 
from a creature of robust, terrestrial tendencies to 
a being of moods almost as ethereal as those of the 
spirits with which it has been my struggle to asso- 
ciate her. 

" Her health has not always borne the strain 
well, and but for my own sustaining strength it 
must have given way completely. The conditions 
amidst which we lived were all unfavorable. I will 
not enter upon the long story of my own misfort- 
unes. By the insidious operation of the prevailing 
bigotry, public confidence in me was undermined ; 
I lost my practice ; I was reduced to dependence 
upon her kindred, who were the bitterest of my an- 
tagonists, and who resisted by every means in their 
power my purpose of taking her away from them, 
and attempting her development in other circum- 
stances. But I prevailed, as I always prevailed 
when I made a final appeal to her affection. AVe 
came away, and entered upon the career, distaste- 
ful to us both, of j^ublic exhibitors. At first we 
met with great success in the small places which 


we visited, and I was induced to try our experi- 
ment in Boston. Here, too, we made a good im- 
pression ; but almost at the outset, Ave encountered 
an influence, an enmity, embodied in a certain in- 
dividual, against which we were ahiiost powerless. 
To this antagonism was added the paralyzing effect 
of fraud on the part of a medium who assisted at 
our principal seance. 

" I saw, upon reflection, that we could not hope 
to succeed in the atmosphere of a mercenary, pro- 
fessional mediumism ; and I determined to retire 
again to our village, and lay once more, however 
painfully and slowly, the foundations of our experi- 
ment. I dreamed of forming about me a commu- 
nity of kindred spirits, in which our work should 
be done unhindered by the selfish hope of gain, and 
I armed myself with patience for years of trial and 

" Brother Elihu will tell you how chance brought 
us together in the depot at Boston, and again at 
Ayer Junction ; and I will not detain you with tlie 
history of the seeming disasters which have ended 
in our presence among the only people who have 
conceived of spiritism as a science, and practiced it 
as a religion. The mistake of a train going south- 
ward for a train going northward made us house- 
less and penniless wanderers ; the cruel rapacity of 
a ruffian crowned our sufferings with a triumph 
surpassing my wildest hopes." 

Dr. Boynton entered upon a circumstantial ac- 
count of the strange occurrences at the Elm Tav- 


em, and painted every detail with a vividness 
■which had its effect upon his hearers. At the 
close, one of the sisters struck into a rapturous 
hymn, in which the others joined. He remained 
standing while they sang, and when their voices died 
away he continued in a low and grave tone : — 

" What I wish now is simply to be received 
among you without prejudice, and to be allowed to 
carry out my plan with the powerful help of your 
sympathetic and intelligent sphere. I do not ask 
to be received out of charity : I am a physician, 
and I offer you my professional services at need ; 
I have strong arms, and I am willing to work in 
your shops and your fields. But I feel mj^self here 
in presence of the right conditions, and I would 
make any sacrifice, short of the sacrifice of self- 
respect, to continue here. I am intensely disap- 
pointed that neither my investigations nor my use- 
fulness to you can begin at once. My daughter, as 
you know, lies sick in j^our infirmary, and my first, 
my Avhole duty is to her. As soon as she is well 
again, you sliall have my labor, and the world shall 
have my truth." 

He sat down. One of the elders rose, and, com- 
ing forward, said, " The thanks of the family are 
due to the friend for what he has spoken. The 
meeting is dismissed." 

The brothers and sisters dispersed to their dwell- 
ing-houses, and Boynton walked alone to the in- 
fiimary. He found Sister Frances with his daugh- 
ter, who was wakeful and in a high fever. 


Her father watched over Egeria in her sickness 
■with the mechanical skillfidness and the mental 
abstraction which the office sisters had seen in his 
treatment of her case from the first. He was at 
her bedside night and day while the danger lasted ; 
he prepared the medicines himself and administered 
them with his own hand, and he waited their effect 
from hour to hour, almost from moment to moment, 
with anxious scrutiny. At the same time a second 
and more inward self in him remained at immeas- 
urable remoteness. " I never see such doctorin' or 
such nnrsin'," said Sister Frances, in her daily re- 
port at the office ; " but it don't seem, somehow, as 
if he did it for her. I should say — and perhaps 
I should say more 'n I ought if I did say it — 't he 
wanted her to get well, but 't he did n't want her 
to get well on her own account ; well, not in the 
first place. And still he 's just as kind and good ! 
Well, it 's perplexin'." 

" I can't see," said Rebecca, carefully, " as we 've 
got any call to judge him, as long as he does his 
duty by her." 

"That's just where it is, Rebecca," answered 
Frances. " It does seem as if there was somethin' 


better than duty in this world. I d' know as there 
is, nor what it is ; but it does seem as if there might 

Boynton's efforts were bent not only to Ege- 
ria's escape fi'om danger, but to her immunity 
from suffering, so far as lie could avert it ; and to 
this end he often used his mesmeric power with 
what appeared good effect. The rending headache 
yielded to the mystical passes made above her 
throbbing temples, or over her eyes that trembled 
with the liot pain ; or perhaps it was only the 
touch of the physician's wise fingers that soothed 
them, and brought her the deep, strange sleep. 
But after the crisis of the fever, and when the con- 
valescence began, the influence, whatever it was, 
ceased to relieve. It fretted instead of strength- 
ening the girl in her climb up toward health, as her 
father was quick to perceive. He desisted, and he 
did not talk with her of the schemes and hopes 
that pi-eoccupied him. He scarcely talked of them 
at all, though now and then, when he met Elihu, 
it was clear that he had not relinquished them in 
the slishtest measure. The Shaker wondered at 
the self-control with which he cast them into such 
complete abeyance, and could not forbear suggest- 
ing at one of their encounters, " Your daughter's 
sickness is quite a little cross to your patience, 
Friend Boynton." 

" Yes, yes," returned the other, intensely ; " but 
it is not the first time I have had to use patience. 
The end is worth waiting for, and, as Humphrey 


said when we first talked of it, the end can wait 
for us ; the trutli will keep. I am sure of the re- 
sult. But nothing can be done till she is perfectly 
well again." 

" Yee," said Elihu ; " the young woman's wel- 
fare is more precious than any proof she could give 
us of the existence of spirits. We know that they 
exist already." 

They did not speak of Boynton's union with the 
family ; that question shared the suspense in which 
the great problem, to the solution of which Shaker- 
ism had been only a means in his mind, was left. 
But he had taken his place in the community like 
one of them. There were reasons in the condition 
of the only suit of clothing which he brought from 
the world outside why he should continue to dress 
in the Shaker garb ; but it is probable that he 
would have preferred to wear it, even if the skill of 
the family tailoress could have rehabilitated the 
wreck of his secular raiment ; and he was faithful 
in his attendance at all the religious meetings, both 
those held in the family-house and those opened to 
the public, with the advancing spring, in the meet- 
ing-house. He did not take an active part in the 
worship. Once, when asked to speak, he said briefly 
that for the present he had nothing to add to his 
first statement ; and during the marching and sing- 
ing he sat quietly in a corner, opposite a sister on 
the women's side, whose extreme stoutness had 
long excused her from dancing before the Lord. 
In the mean time he had treated several slight 


cases of sickness which occurred in the family ; 
and he had drawn all the teeth in the head of a 
young sister much tormented with toothache, and 
long emulous of the immunity enjoyed by most of 
the other sisters through their full sets of artificial 
teeth. He had also, in his moments of disoccupa- 
tion, and during his watches beside Egeria, made 
a profound study of the history and doctrine of 
Shakerism ; and he grew into general liking with 
the family at large, whose knowledge of his devo- 
tion to his daughter did not search motive so jeal- 
ously or fantastically as that of Sister Frances, and 
who thought him a marvel of vigilance and skill. 

April had passed, and May had worn awa}^ to 
its last weeks before the girl could sit up in an 
easy-chair, and with pillowed head look out on the 
landscape. Sometimes, after the favorable change 
in her fever began, she had asked, in the melloAv- 
ing afternoons, to have her window opened to let 
in the rich, pungent odors of the burning refuse of 
the gardens, — the last year's withered vines and 
stalks, which the boys had raked into large piles, 
and fired in the field below the infirmary. She 
could hear, from where she lay, the snap and crackle 
of the flames; and once, when Sister Frances re- 
turned after a moment in whieli she had left the 
sick girl alone, she found that Egeria had dragged 
herself across the bed to where she could see the 
fire, upon which she was gloating with rapture. 
Frances spoke to her; she replaced her pillow, and 
after a loni: look at the Shakeress she broke iuto 


tears. The watchers with her in these early clays 
of her convalescence always found her awake at 
dawn, when the robins and orioles and sparrows 
were weaving that fabric of song which seems to 
rise everywhere from the earth to the low-hovering 

" It 's like the singin' of spirits, ain't it ? " said 
one of the sisters who saw the transport with which 
she silently listened, her large eyes wdde and her 
lips open. 

" No ! " cried the girl, almost fiercely. " It 's 
like the sinq-jno- of the birds at home." 

" Seemed as if she hated the spirits, as you might 
say," the Shakeress commented to the office sisters. 
It was the first time that any of them had heard 
Egeria mention her former home, for even in the 
fever her ravings had been of experiences in Bos- 
ton unintelligible to them. But they had all noted 
the passion with which, when her recovery began, 
she turned to the natural world. She asked for the 
wild flowers, and day by day demanded if it were 
not yet time for the a,nemones, the columbines, the 
dog-tooth violets. If the spring lingered, or at 
times turned backward, nothing could rouse her 
from the dejection into which she fell, till the sun 
began to shine and the birds began to sing again. 
It was felt in the family to be foolish, or worse, but 
none of the Shakers could come home through field 
or wood without staying to pluck some token of the 
season's advance for the sick girl, who was longing 
so restlessly to go out and find the summer for her- 


self. Her bed was decked with bono-lis of wildinsf 
bloom ; on the shelves and window-sills the sylvan 
and campestral flowers gave their delicate colors 
and faint fragrances in whatever prim jug or sober 
vase the community could spare from its service. 
Something, surely, must be wrong about all this 
ministering to a love that might be said to savor of 
earthly vanities, but the most anxious of the nun- 
like sisters could not determine upon the sin ; and 
while they wondered in just what sort they should 
deal with the elusive evil, a visiting brother from 
another community arrived to pronounce it no evil, 
but an instinct, wholesome as the harmless things 
themselves. Upon this, one of them brought and 
laid at Egeria's bedside a rug which she had worked 
with the pattern of a grape-vine, and which for five 
years she had kept fearfully hidden away in her 
closet, from compunction for its likeness to a graven 

Egeria first went out on the 20th of May, that 
signal date when the spring, whatever her previ- 
ous reluctances, brings up all arrears with the ap- 
ple-blossoms. The season is then no longer late 
or early, but is the consummate spring ; and all 
weather-wise hopes and fears are lost in the rich- 
ness with which she keeps the promise of her name. 
It might well have seemed to the girl's impatience 
as she watched the orchard trees, sometimes from 
her closed window and sometimes from her open 
door, as the day was chill or soft, that the blossoms 
would never come ; and even when every tip of the 


mossed and twisted bouglis was lit with tlie pink 
glimmer of a bud, and the trees' whole round was 
suffused with a tender flush of color, that the deli- 
cate petals of rose and snow would never unfold. 
The orioles and the bobolinks sang from the airy- 
tops, and from the clover in the grassy alleys be- 
tween the trees ; in a neighboring field the oats 
were already high enough to brighten and darken 
in the wind. The canes of the blackberries and 
raspberries in the garden were tufted with dark 
green, and beyond the broad leaves of the pie-plant 
and the neat lines of sprouting peas, the grape- 
vines on Elder Joseph's trellis were set thick with 
short, velvety leaves of pinkish-olive, when sud- 
denly, in a warm night, the delaying buds unfolded, 
and in the morning tlie apple-blossoms had come. 

" I am going out under them," the girl said, 
when she saw them, and she set a resolute face 
against the fond anxieties of Sister Frances. Her 
father came and approved her wish. 

" It won't hurt her ; it will do her good," he said, 
with that somewhat propitiatory acquiescence with 
which he now indulged his daughter's whims. So, . 
when the morning was well warmed through, as 
Sister Frances said, they spread some sad-colored 
wraps on the grass in the orchard, where the min- 
gled wind and sun could reach her through the 
screen of blossoms. She walked a little tremu- 
lously, clinging to her father's arm, but a light of 
perfect happiness played over her faintly flushing 
face as she sank upon the couch. From where she 


lounged she could look across the gardened inter- 
vale, declining from the street on which the hamlet 
was built, to the elms and sycamores that fringed 
the river-course, and beyond to other uplands, 
where the gray farmsteads dimly showed among 
the fields, and the white houses of villages clustered 
and sparkled in the sun. An unspeakable serenity 
filled the scene ; and round her the little Shaker 
town was a part of the wide peace. There was 
seldom a passer on the sandy thoroughfare, now 
printed with the delicate shadows of the new maple 
leaves, and the stillness was unbroken by any sound 
of human life. The Shakers and their hired men 
were at woi-k in the gardens and the fields, but 
they worked quietly ; and the shops in which there 
was once the clinking of hammers on lap-stone and 
anvil had been hushed long ago by the cheaper in- 
dustries of the world outside. 

At the doors of the great family houses of brick 
a Shaker sister in strict drab and deep bonnet from 
time to time issued or entered silently. Nothing 
but the cat-bird twanging in the elder-bushes, and 
the bobolinks climbing in the sunlit air, to reel and 
slide down, gurgling and laughing, to the clover 
tufts from which they rose, broke upon the mellow 
diapason of the bees in the apple-blossoms over- 
head. Where she lay, propped on her arm, with 
her father seated beside her, some of the brothers 
and sisters came out of their way from time to 
time, to welcome her out-doors, and to warn her not 
to stay too long. Some rumor of her longing to 


be in the weather, and of her passion for the blos- 
soms and the birds amongst wliich she was blessed 
at last, had penetrated the whole conimunit}^ and 
many who did not come to speak to her looked out 
unseen from their windows upon her happiness, 
which they might have found somewhat too earth- 
ly, in spite of the ideas lately promulgated by the 
visiting brother. With her blue eyes dreamily un- 
troubled, she looked like some sylvan creature, a 
part of the young terrestrial life that shone and 
sang and bloomed around her ; while flashes of light 
and color momently repaired the waste that sick- 
ness had made in her beauty. A sense of her ex- 
quisite harmony with the great natural frame of 
things may have penetrated the well-defended con- 
sciousness of Elder Joseph, as he paused near her, 
on his way home to dinner ; but if it did, it failed 
to grieve him. He looked indulgently down at her ; 
by an obscure impulse he gathered some of the rich- 
est sprays from the branches at hand, and dropped 
them into her lap. 

" It seems right," he said, " to be getting well in 
the spring, when everything is taking a fresh start. 
I like to see the young woman looking so happy." 

He addressed the doctor as well as Egeria, but it 
was she who answered. 

" Yes ; it would n't seem the same thing if it 
were fall. If it had been fall, I should not have 
got well ; I should not have cared to get Avell." 

" Nay," replied the Shaker ; " if it is for us to 
choose, we are to choose to get well at all times." 


" I mean," said the girl, " that I could not have 

" You can't tell," observed her father. " Most 
fevers are autumnal, and convalescents are braced 
up by the approach of cold weather." 

" Yes," she rejoined, " but now I seem to be 
stronger because my getting well is part of the 

" Our sympathetic relations with nature are 
subtle and strong," consented Boynton. " No one 
can tell just how much influence they have over 
our physical condition." 

Egeria silently gazed upon the prospect. " It '3 
sightly, is n't it ? " asked the Shaker. " I have 
looked at it, now, for fifty spring-times, and it is as 
pretty as when it was 'first revealed to me." 

Boynton started, and repeated, " Revealed ? " 

" Oh, yee," returned the elder, "I first saw this 
place in a vision. It was when I was a young man, 
and several years before I was gathered in from the 
world outside. When I came here, I remembered 
the place and the persons I had seen in my vision, 
and I knew them all. Then I knew that it was 
meant, and I stayed." 

" Is it possible ! " cried Boynton. " That was 
very extraordinary. Have you had other psycho- 
logical experiences ? " 

" Nay," said Brother Joseph, briefly. 

" But they are common among you?" pursued 

" Oh, yee, we have all had some such intimations. 


Have you never read Elder Evans's account of his 
dealings with the supernatural ? " 

" No, never ! " cried Boynton, with intensifying 

" I will lend you the book. He tells some 
strange things. But we do not follow up such ex- 
periences. They serve their purpose, and that is 
enough. We try to live the angelic life. That 
will bring what is good in the supernatural to us, 
and we need not go to it." 

" I think you make a mistake ! " said Boynton, 
promptly. " These intimations are given express- 
ly to invite pursuit. That is what miracles are 

" Nay," returned the Shaker. " They are no 
miracles, if you follow them up to see them a sec- 
ond time. We must beware how we make the 
supernatural a commonplace. None of the disciples 
knew exactly who Christ was till he was taken 
from them ; and he has only appeared since to one 
Doubter out of all the millions that have longed to 
believe on him. There is something in that. The 
other world cannot come twice to prove itself. Once 
is enough in miracles." 

" Then you disapprove of spiritistic research ? " 
demanded Boynton. " You condemn the desire to 
develop the dim hints of immortality which we all 
think we have received into certain and absolute 
demonstration? " 

" Nay, I do not condemn any earnest striving for 
the truth, under proper conditions." 



" I hope to find those conditions among you," 
Boynton hastened to say. 

" We shall be happy to afford them," said the 
Shaker, smoothly, " if we can agree upon what they 
are. But it is right to say that we consider Shak- 
erisra the end and not the means of spiritualism." 
He passed on down the orchard aisle, the sunlight 
falling upon his quaint figure through the apple- 

Boynton's eyes followed him, but it was some 
time before he spoke. " After all," he said, as if 
musing aloud, "he is not one of the controlling 
forces of the community." He spoke with a cer- 
tain effect of arming himself against opposition. 
" You had better come in, now, Egeria. It won't 
do for you to take cold." 

" Yes, pretty soon. I don't wonder that they 
think they 're living the angelic life." 

" Why ? " asked her father, sharply. 

" It 's like a heaven upon earth, hei'e." 

This vexed her father. " Yes, like heaven now, 
with the apples in bloom and the birds singing. 
But how much like heaven would it be with three 
feet of snow where you are lying ? " 

" Yes, let us go in. I had better not stay too 
long." She rose as if saddened by his words, and 
suffered herself to be helped back to the infirmary. 

" The Swedenborgians," said her father, in rep- 
aration, " believe that in the other world winter 
is absorbed into the other seasons, and that the 
whole year is a sort of spring-time." 


" Ah ! " breathed the girl. "But I did n't mean 
spring. I should want the whole year to be sum- 
mer, and I should want it to be in this world. I 
should like a hesiven upon earth." 

Her father looked closely at her. " This mate- 
rialistic tendency is a trait of your convalescence. 
People are never so earthly as when they are re- 
covering from a dangerous sickness. There is a 
kind of revolt from the world whose borders they 
have touched, — a rebound. The senses are riotous 
to try their strength again." He said these things 
as if accounting to himself for a fact, rather than 
explaining her condition to Egeria. 

" Well, we have a right to our life here ! " she 
cried, passionately. " Let the other world keep to 
itself ! " 

He did not answer her directly, and at other 
times he avoided encounter with anything like op- 
position in her. She would not stay in-doors after 
she once liberated herself. The spring came on 
rapidly and brought the hot weather before its 
time ; but she throve in the heat. Before she was 
strong enough to w^alk much the Shakers appointed 
for her use an open buggy, garrulous and plaintive 
w^ith age, and an old horse past his usefulness at 
the plow, but very fit for lounging along by-roads, 
and skilled in cropping wayside foliage as he went. 
With her father beside her in his Shaker dress, 
•while she wore a worldlier garb, which she had be- 
guiled her convalescence in fashioning from mate- 
rials supplied by the family dress- maker, she took 


the passers on the quiet roads with question and 
wonder. But they met few people, for they drove 
mostly over the grass-grown lanes that entered the 
forest, and the track of tener died away in the thick- 
ening vegetation than led any whither. Sometimes 
it arrived at a clearing deep in the woods, and ac- 
counted for itself as the way over which the teams 
had hauled wood in the winter, or got out logs. In 
other places it was a fading reminiscence of former 
population and led through the trees and thick un- 
dergrowth to the site of a vanished dwelling ; a few 
apple-ti-ees emerged from the ranks of their sylvan 
brethren ; a rose or currant bush stood revealed 
among the blueberries or the sweet-fern ; then the 
raw red and white of ruined masonry showed in the 
grass, and suddenly a cellar yawned before their 
feet, or they stepped over a well-curb choked with 
stones. Now and then they met lurking and evasive 
people on the lonesome roads, who were sometimes 
black, and who seldom seemed part of the ordinary 
New England life. If they followed up the track 
on which these men had shambled towards them, 
they might come upon a poverty-stricken dwelling 
of unpainted wood, which seemed never to have 
liad heart to be a home. If they spoke to the 
slattern woman in the doorway, she was nasal 
enough, but otherwise the effect was as if some fam- 
ily of poor whites from the South had been dropped 
down in those Northern woods, with all its native 
environment ot lounging dogs, half-starved colts, 
and frightened poultry. 


Boyiiton philosopliizecl the strange conditions as 
well as he could in the absence of any but obvious 
facts concerning them. When he stopped for a 
dipper of water at the well, from which he drew 
it with the old-fashioned sweep, and fell into talk 
with the women, they were voluble, but not very 
intelligible. They commonly took him for a Shaker, 
but Egeria gave them pause in their conjectures ; 
and when he explained that he and his daughter 
were merely staying with the Shakers they said, 
Well, the Shakers were good folks, any way. There 
was sickness in some of these forlorn places, and 
once it happened to the doctor to be able to afford 
relief in the case of a suffering child. He was very 
tender with it, and gentle with the parents, who 
looked as if they would still be young if they had 
any encouragement, and on a second visit they asked 
him what he charged. When he said, " Nothing," 
they followed him and Egeria out to their buggy in 
a sort of helpless gratitude. 

" Well, you 've done our little girl good, doctor," 
the woman said on the doorstep, " and we sha'n't 
forget it. The trouble is we don't seem to get no 
ways forehanded." 

Boynton looked about him, as he took the reins 
in his hand, upon two or three other weather-beaten 
houses. " What place is this? " he asked. 

" Well," said the woman, with sober apology, 
while her man grinned, " I d' know 's you may say 
it has any name. Skunk's Misery, they call it." 
She showed her sense of degradation in the brutal 


grotesquely. " Well, call again," she said, as the 
doctor lifted his reins and chirruped to the old 
horse. " And you, too, lady," she added, nodding 
to Egeria. 

" She kej)t her house in good order, for such a 
poor place," said the girl, when they had been 
watched out of sight by the man and his wife, 
" and the little girl's bed was sweet and clean. I 
should think they might be happy, there." 

" In Skunk's Misery ? " asked her father. 

" If the house is their own," answered Egeria, 
simply. " They seemed good to each other." 

" Oh, you will change your mind wlien you 're 
quite well again. You will want to see more of the 

" I wish we had a house of our own, somewhere," 
said Egeria. " I should n't care where. I was 
thinking of that. I should like to keep house. I 
am going to get Frances to teach me everything." 

" That will all come in good time," answered her 
father, soothmgly. " And it will come with higher 
things. Only now get well." 

" What higher things ? " demanded the girl. 

Boynton looked at her, and answered, evasively, 
" Things we could n't very well find in Skunk's 
Misery. Perhaps we shall go abroad. Would you 
like to go to Europe ? " 

" I would rather go home." 

Boynton frowned, but did not answer ; and they 
had escaped encounter for that time, at least. 

As Egeria grew stronger they gave up their 


drives soraewlifft, and took walks in the nearer 
•woods. Oftenest their errand was to gather laurel, 
which was now coming richly into bloom. It filled 
the open spaces of the small clearings and wherever 
the woods were thin ; it hid the stumps and con- 
soled the poor, sterile soil with the starry profu- 
sion of its flower. One afternoon, when they had 
climbed to the hill-top where the Shakers of earlier 
times lay in their nameless graves, they looked out 
over the masses of the laurel, and it was like a sec- 
ond blossoming of the orchards. Egeria sat down 
on one of the fallen stones, without knowing that 
it covered a grave, and began putting her boughs of 
laurel into shape, choosing this and rejecting that, 
while her father went about among the forgetful 

" I am glad we came here," he said, returning to 
her, " for I should not have liked to miss seeing 
their grave-yard." 

*' Their grave-yard ? " she repeated. 

" Yes ; this is the old Shaker burial-ground." 

She looked round. " I did n't know it," she 
sighed like one following out some tacit thought. ' 
" Well, what difference would it make if they had 
put their names on ? They rest as well without 
it. And if they had put their names, who could 
remember who they were in fifty years from 

" They know one another in the other world just 
as well, without the record here," consented her fa- 
ther. "And it is n't here that we are to be remem- 
bered, at any rate." 


" I wish it were ! " said the giri, with passion, 
dropping her flowers into her hip. " I hke this 
world, and I hke to be in it. I wish we didn't 
have to die." 

" Death is the condition of our advancement," 
said her father. 

" But I would rather not advance," said Egeria. 
" I almost wish I had been born an animah I 
should have had to die, but I should not have 
known it, and there would have been nothing of 
me to come back ! " She went on putting together 
her boughs of laurel, and she wore that look of 
being remote within her defenses which a woman 
knows how to assume no less with her father than 
with her lover. She then adventurously throws 
out thoughts and opinions, as if they had just casu- 
ally occurred to her, which she has perhaps reached 
after long, secret cogitation or sensation, or which 
are perhaps really what they seem. 

" Why should n't you wish to come back, ages 
hence, and see what advance the world has made ? " 
rejoined her father, after a pause. 

" I should be afraid that I had n't kept up with 
it," answered Egeria. " The spirits that come back 
say such silly things." 

" That is a childish way of looking at it," said 
her father with severity. " We have no more right 
to accuse them of silliness than we have to laugh 
at the foreigner who can express only the simplest 
things in English. The medium of thought must 
be so different in the two conditions of being that 


the wonder is that returning spirits can understand 
and use our dialects at all." 

" I don't see why they should forget their own 
language, if they 're the same persons there that 
they were here," Egeria returned, stubbornly. 
" Yes," she cried, " I would rather be here under 
the ground forever than be like some of the spirits ! 
Oh, I should like to live always, too ; but I don't 
call that living. I should like to live here in this 
world, — on the earth." 

" Would you like to live always among the Shak- 
ers ? " asked her father, willing to turn the current 
of her thoughts. 

" They try all the time to make the other world 
of this world ! " 

" Perhaps that 's the only condition on which 
they find happiness in this world." 

" Perhaps. But I don't believe so. We were 
not born into the other world. The Shakers are 
very good, and they have been kind to us. Yes, I 
could be contented among them. Are you going to 
stay with them, father? " 

" I don't know," replied Boynton. " The time 
has n't come to decide, yet. I have been waiting. 
There is no hurry. I don't feel that we are here 
on charity, quite. I am able to render some equiv- 

" Yes," said Egeria, " and I am going to work as 
soon as they will let me. I know they would like 
to have us stay and join them." 


" That was oiiginally my idea. I still propose 
to do so, if I find them useful. Everything de- 
pends " — He stopped uneasily, and glanced at 
Egeria, but she showed no uneasiness. 


While their place in the community was thus 
indefinite, they dwelt with the brothers and sisters 
who had first received them in the oflice. Egeria 
helped the sisters in their work there, and they all 
liked to have her about them, though it was tacitly 
agreed that she belonged chiefly to Sister Frances, 
with whom she served, making the beds, wiping 
the dishes, and putting the rooms in order, while 
Diantha and Rebecca devoted themselves to the 
more public duties of the place. As she grew 
stronger she would not be kept from taking her 
share in the family work. Frances forbade her 
helping in the laundry, where one of the brothers, 
vague through wreaths of steam from the deep boil- 
ers, presided over a company of sisters and boys, 
and afterwards marshaled them in hanging out the 
community wash ; this, she held, involved dangers 
of rheumatism and relapse ; but she allowed her to 
find a place in the herb-house, where a score of the 
young Shakeresses, seated on the floor of the wide, 
low room, before fragrant heaps of catnip, boneset, 
and lobelia, sorted and cleaned these simples for the 
brothers in the packing-room below. " That is sort 
of being out-doors," said Sister Frances, with a sly 


allusion to the girl's well-known passion. Indeed, 
Egeria's chief usefulness appeared when the first 
Avild berries came. Her father no longer accom- 
panied her, for he found the heat too great a bur- 
den. The women went, five or six in a wagon, 
with one of the brothers, who drove, to the berry 
pasture a mile or two away, and they sang their 
shrill hymns while passing through the pine woods, 
that gave out a balsamic sweetness in the sun. At 
the verge of a westward-sloping valley was a stretch 
of many hundred acres, swept by a forest fire a few 
years before, and now rank with the vegetation 
which the havoc had enriched. Bkieberries and 
huckleberries, raspberries and blackberries, bat- 
tened upon the ashes of the pine and oak and 
chestnut, and flourished round the charred stumps ; 
the strawberry matted the blackened ground, and 
ran to the border of the woods, where, among the 
thin grass, it lifted its fruit on taller stems, and 
swung its clusters in the airs that drew through 
the alleys of the forest. Here and there were the 
shanties of Canadian wood-cutters, whom the Shak- 
ers had sent to save what fuel they might from the 
general loss, and whom, at noonday, the pickers 
came upon, as they sat in pairs at their doors, with 
a can of milk betAveen them, dusky, furtive, and in- 
tent as animals. From the first of the strawberries 
to the last of the blackbei'ries, the birds and chip- 
mucks feasted, and only stirred in short flights when 
the young Shakeresses, shy as themselves, invaded 
their banquet. 


" Why, Egery,'' said one of them, the first clay, 
*' you empty your basket faster than any of us, and 
you said you never picked before. How do you al- 
ways find such full vines? I do believe it's because 
they know you love to pick 'em so, and they just 
give you a little wink." 

" Yes," she answered absently, like one entranced 
by the rich influences of the time and scene. She 
drank of the strong vitality of the earth and air and 
sun, and day by day the potion showed its effect in 
the serenity of her established health. 

" Oh, nothing in the weather hurts Aer," said the 
girl who had surprised her secret understanding 
with the berries. " Slie keeps on with the birds 
and squirrels when the heat drives us off, and if it 
comes on to rain it runs off her as if she was a 
chipmuck or a robin ; and next morning, when 1 'ni 
as full of aches and pains as I can hold, she 's all 
ready to begin again." 

" Yee, that 's so, Elizabeth," said the others, who 
laughed at this. 

In their way they mingled what jolHty they could 
in their work, and were sometimes demurely freak- 
ish in the depths of their poke-bonnets and under 
the wide brims of their hats. Certain of the elder 
brethren and sisters had their repute for humor, 
and made their quaint jokes without a bad con- 
science ; while the younger played little pranks 
upon one another, with those gigglings and thrusts 
and pushes which accompany the expression of rus- 
tic drollery, and were not severely rebuked. Ege- 


ria did not take part in their jocularities ; but it 
was another joke of the young Shakers and Shaker- 
esses, kept children beyond their time and apt to 
allege children's excuses when called to account, to 
say, " She made us do it — she looked so ! " 

They all liked her, and in spite of the secular 
fashion of her dress, to which she still clung, they 
treated her as if she were one of themselves, and 
were always to stay with them. Whatever may 
have been in their hearts, nothing in their manner 
betrayed surprise at the complete abeyance into 
which her supposed supernatural gifts had fallen. 
Perhaps, as people used to supernaturalism, to the 
caprice with which the other world uses this, they 
could be surprised at no lapse or access of divi- 
nation, in any given case. At any rate, they all 
seemed content with her robust return to life and 
health, and if they were impatient for proof of the 
great things that her father had claimed for her, 
none of them showed impatience. 

There were certain other faculties as dormant 
in her as her psychological powers. Once, as she 
passed through the pine woods where Laban had 
first found her and her father, he leaned across Sis- 
ter Frances, who sat between them on the wagon- 
seat, and asked, " Do you know this road ? " And 
when they came to that knoll beside the brook 
he asked again, '' Do you mind this place ? " He 
laughed when she said no. *' Well, I don't much 
wonder. You did n't seem to be quite in your right 
senses. This is the place where I come across you 
and your father that day." 


At another time, when a different course brought 
them home by the Elm Tavern, she dimly recalled 
the aspect of the house and asked what it was. " It 
seems as if I had seen it in a dream," she said. 

" Must ha' had the nightmare pretty bad," re- 
turned Laban. " It 's a dreadful place." 

" Dreadful," repeated Sister Frances. " But it 's 
just so when you 're comin' down with a fit of sick- 
ness, especially fevers. Everything seems in a 
dream, like." 

Sister Frances rejoiced like a mother in the girl's 
health, which came back to her in no ethereal qual- 
ity, but in solid evidence, in color and in elasticity 
of step and touch. She had known her before the 
fever only in that brief interval in which all her 
faculties were invested by the disease ; and both 
the spiritual and material change wrought in her 
by convalescence might well have appeared greater 
than they were. She had seen her lie down a frail 
and fearful girl, deeply shadowed, as she fancied, 
by the memories of a troubled past ; and she had 
seen her rise up and grow, in sympathy with the 
reviving year, into a broad, tranquil summer of 
womanly ripeness and strength. To the homely 
mind of Sister Frances she was like the young ma- 
ple which Brother Joseph had found in a sombre 
thicket of the woods, and had set out in the abun- 
dant sunshine of the village street before the office 
gate, where it had thriven in a single year out of 
all likeness to itself. She admired this tree, and in 
telling Egeria of her fancy she gave her a pin-cush- 


ion she had shaped in its image on the stem of a 
broken kerosene lamp : it was faithful, even to the 
emery bag in a red peak, like the first color which 
the maple showed at top in the autumn. 

When tlie garden berries began to ripen, the two 
often talked long together as they sat in the cool 
basement of the office, sorting them with Shaker 
conscientiousness, and packing for market only 
boxes of honest fruit. Then the elder woman tried 
with maternal tenderness to draw nearer the life of 
this daughter of her care, in the fond hope that she 
might always keep her, and not lose her again to 
the world from which she had wandered. 

" You seem happy here, Egeria," she would say, 
timorously feeling her way toward what had al- 
ready been talked of in the family ; and then, when 
the girl answered that she had never been so haj)py 
before, the sister's conscience gave her a check. It 
did not seem right to take advantage of Egeria's 
happiness among them to urge her to any step to 
which she was not moved by conviction. " You 
know," she resumed, " that we would n't like any- 
thing better than to have you stay among us, — 
you and your father both. All the family 's agreed 
about that. But it is n't for us to prevail Avithout 
you feel a call to our life. What does your father 

" We have never talked much about it," said 
Egeria. " May be he is waiting for me to get well 
before he makes up his mind." 

" Why, you look a great deal better than he does, 


now ! " cried Sister Frances, bluntly. " I want you 
should both stay with us till he gets strong again. 
I don't think your father 's over and above strong 
when he 's well." 

" Well ? " echoed the girl. " Don't you think 
he 's well ? " 

" Yee," answered Sister Frances, " but nervous, 
worried, like. I suppose he has n't had a chance 
yet to wear off the excitement of the world outside. 
You know you 've had a good fit of sickness. We 
all say that whatever happened before you came 
here, it 's dropped from you like a garment." 

" Yes, like a garment," responded Egeria vaguely, 
letting her busy hands fall into her lap. 

Frances took her by the arm. " Don't you go 
and be anxious, now, at what I said about your fa- 

" Oh, no ! " said Egeria, recalling herself, and 
settling to work again. 

" He 's as well as anybody need be. Only 
you 're so very well that anybody, to see you, would 
suppose you were the well one." 

" I was wondering," mused the girl aloud, " if he 
had anything to perplex him. Sister Frances," she 
asked presently, " did any letter come for me while 
I was sick ? " 

" Nay. Did you expect a letter ? " 

" No," said Egeria, " there could n't have been 
any answer." She blushed, and fell into a rev- 
erie so profound that Frances, working alone at the 
berries, knew not how to bring back the talk to 


the point from which it had strayed. Slie was 
not a person of much native tact, and the commu- 
nity Ufe did not cherish tact among tlie virtues, 
counting trutli much better ; but now Sister Frances 
attempted a strategic approach. 

" Sometimes," she said, " the young people wlio 
are gathered in have hopes in the world outside 
that make it hard for them to conform to the true 
life. And we women, we all know what such hopes 
are. I was young, and the world looked very bright 
to me when I was gathered in." 

" You, Sister Frances ? You gathered in ? I 
thought you were brought up in the family from a 

"Nay, I was gathered in — when I was twenty." 
" When you were twenty ? And I am nineteen." 
" I came to the neighborliood on a visit, and one 
Sunday I went to a Shaker meeting, and I heard 
something said that made me think it was the true 
life. I used to be troubled about religion ; but I 've 
had peace for many years. At first it was consid- 
erable of a cross, wondering whether I 'd acted for 
the best. He'd never said anything to me, and 
I d' know as he ever would. But he might have. 
That was what kept preying on my mind, when- 
ever I got lonesome or doubtful about my choice. 
But I was helped to put it away. He 's been here, 
since — with her. That was the most of a cross 
of anything. At first, he did n't know me, so I 
don't suppose he ever did care, much." 

" Had you ever," said Egeria, in a sort of scare, 


" done anything that could have made him think 
you cared ? " 

" Nay. I was too proud for that." 

" But even if you had done such a thing — by 
a mistake, or by doing something you thought was 
right, and then you had been afraid he might take 
it differently — you would have felt safe here." 

" Yee, I should have felt safe." Frances waited 
for Egeria to speak, but the girl was again silent. 
" I did hope," resumed the sister, " in those young 
and foolish days, that he might be gathered in too. 
Then we could lived in sight of each other. But 
it wa'n't to be, and I don't know as 't would been 
for the best. Any rate, he got married. I 've 
heard they live out in Illinoy, and 't he 's made out 
real well. And I 'm at rest, here." 

" Sister Frances," said Egeria, " do you think 
my father looks sick ? " 

" Well, I declare, if you ain't thinkin' of that 
silly talk of mine, yet ! Anybody 'd look sick 
alongside of you. I only meant that he was a 
little more peaked." 

" Yes," responded the girl, with a sigh, " he 
doesn't look well." 

She watched him at dinner, that day, and saw 
that he had a small and fastidious appetite, though 
the abundance of a Shaker garden was there to 
tempt him. "Are you feeling well, father? "she 
asked, when they went out after tea for a little 
stroll. " You ate hardly anything at dinner, and 
this evening you did n't touch your tea." 


" Yes," he answered quickly, with a touch of ir- 
ritation, " I am well ; very well ; perfectly well. 
But the hot weather is trying, and — and " — 

"And what?" coaxed the girl. "Have you 
been thinking about something that worries you ? 
Is there anything on your mind ? " 

" No, no. Nothing. Have you ever noticed it 
before ? What has made you notice it ? " 

" I don't know. Sister Frances said she thoujjht 
you didn't look as well as I do. That seemed 

" You are looking very well, Egeria. I am glad 
to see you looking so well. This fund of physical 
strength ought to contribute — There is nothing 
that is necessarily alien in it to — I am truly glad 
for your sake, my dear, that you are so well." 

They were walking down the sloping roadside 
from the office gate toward the clump of old wil- 
lows in whose midst stood the spacious stone bowl, 
scooped out of the solid granite by some forgotten 
brother in former years, and now tenderly, darkly 
green inside and out, with a tint of cool mold. 
When they reached the bank beside the trough, 
he dropped wearily on the grass, but she remained 
standing, with her arms sunken before her and her 
fingers intertwined, watching the soft ebullition of 
the spring in the centre of the bowl. Either she 
had not been aware of his approach to the matter 
of their tacit avoidance or she was indifferent to it. 
A smile played upon her face as the bubl)le con- 
tinually rounded itself without breaking upon the 


surface of the water ; and in the mellow light of 
the waning day she looked strong and very beauti- 
ful. Her hair was darker than before her fever ; 
her eyes had lost their look of vigilance and appre- 
hension, and softly burned in their gaze; the sun 
and wind had enriched her fair Northern complex- 
ion with a tinge of the South. An artist or a poet 
of those who dream backward from fable might 
have figured her in his fancy as the Young Ceres: 
she looked so sweet and pure an essence of the har- 
vest landscape, so earthly fair and good. 

Her father glanced at her uneasily. " I don't 
like my environment, here," he broke out. " I am 
conscious of adverse influences." 

She slowly lifted her eyes from the fountain, and 
looked at him with gravely smiling question, as if 
she had not quite understood. 

" You asked me just now," he resumed, " wheth- 
er I had been thinking about any vexatious mattei\ 
Have you seen nothing here of late to vex me ? " 

" No," she answered, with the same question, but 
without the smile. 

"Nothing in the attitude of these people? " 

" Their attitude ? " 

" I have tried to believe," he said vehemently, 
" that it was my fancy ; but I can't be mistaken. 
They regard me with distrust ; they have with- 
drawal from me the sympathy upon which I was 
placing all my hopes of success. No, no," he added, 
seeing her about to speak in refutation, " I am right. 
I feel it, I know it." 


" They seem kinder to me than ever," Egeria 

" They are kinder to you," returned her father. 
" They are distinguishing between us. They wish 
to keep you and to cast me out." 

Egeria looked incredulous. " But how could 
they do that ? Nothing could separate us ! " 

" I am glad to hear you say that," said her 
father, huskily. " There have been times of late 
when I thought — when I was afraid — You have 
seemed indifferent " — 

" Father ! " 

"I know that I wronged you." He turned his 
face, and they were both silent, till Egeria spoke. 

" If what you think is true, we must go away. 
Where will we go ? Shall we go home ? " 

" No, I can't go there. It 's impossible." 

Egeria did not reply directly, but after a while 
she said, " Father, do you ever think of Mr. 
Hatch ? " 

" No. Why should I think of him ? " 

" Pie lent us money, and he expected to find us 
at home when he got back." 

" His loan could scarcely have paid the debt he 
was under to me. I regarded it in that light, and 
so did he. We had no obligation to be where he 
expected to find us." 

" No ; but if he went there, and did n't find us, 
it would make grandfather very anxious." 

" I 'm not obliged to preserve your grandfather 
from anxiety. He has n't known our movements 


since we left home. But T do care for Mr. Hatch. 
I will write him, and tell him where we are. 
Where was he going ? " 

Egeria tm-ned a little white. "I — I don't 
know," she faltered. " I can't remember. Wait ! 
Yes — he gave me his address, and I — I can't 
think what I did with it." 

" Perhaps you put it in your bag with the 

" Yes — T did. I put it in my bag. It 's gone. 
Everything about that time seems so dim, so " — 

" It 's no matter ; not the least," said her father. 
" He probably has n't returned to the East. When 
he does, he can readily find us out." Egeria looked 
grieved and troubled, but he hurried on to say, 
" The great question is how to bring about the re- 
sults — the important results — for which I came 
here. I will not be driven from conditions wliicli 
I thought so favorable, without an effort. Their 
leading men may turn against me if they choose ; 
it is their peril and their loss ; but the great mass 
of the community will be with me in any collision." 

" Why, what makes you think there is a feeling 
against you, father, in any of them ? " 

" Do you remember that day in the orchard when 
you first went out ? Joseph and I had some words, 
in which he showed plainly what had been ferment- 
ing in his mind, when he intimated the subordi- 
nation of spiritualism to Shakerism. I understood 
his drift, though at the time I said nothing. After- 
ward the matter dropped ; but within a few days I 


have been made to feel very distinctly a sphere of 
opposition. They think, the leading men, that my 
utiHzation of their conditions will undermine their 
whole system. And so it will. Their system is 
nnnaturally and ridiculously mistaken ; next after 
their spiritualism, their communism is the only 
thing about them that is fit to survive. Their an- 
gelic life, as they call it, is an absurd delusion, the 
di'eam of a sick woman." 

" Oh, I hope you won't do anything to break up 
their life ! " cried the girl, in simple trust of his 
power. " They have been so good to us." 

" Their system may remain, for all me," returned 
her father. " Even in riding down the opposition 
to me I shall be careful of their rights. Egeria," 
he said, " you must have observed that during your 
long convalescence I have spared you all discussion 
of this matter ? " 

" Yes," she admitted, apprehensively. 
" I noticed that it seemed to irritate you, — to 
cost you an effort of mind and of will, which I was 
unw^illing to tax you with till you had regained 
your full strength. The delay has been very irk- 
some to me. I felt that we were losing precious 
time — that we were being placed in a false posi- 
tion ; the waiting has worn upon me, as you see." 
He looked even haggard in the coming twilight. 
He had lost flesh, and two loose cords hung w^here 
his double chin had been. " The question now is 
whether you will be i-eady when I call upon you 
for the test which I am impatient to make." 

thp: undiscovered country. 217 

Egeria sank clown upon the bank not far from 
him, and pulled weakly at a tuft of grass. " I was 
in hopes," she said sadly, " that you had given it 
up, father." 

"" Given it up ! " he cried in amaze. 

" Why could n't we wait ? " she asked. 

" Wait ? Till when ? " 

" Till we are dead. Then we shall know whether 
there is any truth in it all. It will be only a little 
while at the longest." 

" A little while ! " exclaimed the doctor in- 
dignantly. " We may live to be a hundi'ed I There 
are people in those houses yonder," — he indicated 
the dormitories with a wave of his hand, — " who 
have had everything to kill them in their prime ; 
Avlio came here with the women who were to be 
their wives, or who left husband and children and 
home to embrace this asceticism ; who for scores of 
years have had the memories of these to brood 
upon in their withered hearts. We can't wait for 
death. We have a right to know the truth from 

They had so often talked of this deep concern as 
knowledge to be acquired that probably neither of 
tliem found anything grotesque or terrible in this 
pliase of the discussion. Egeria now only uro-ed 
vaguely, " We have the Bible." 

" Yes," rejoined her father, bitterly, "the Bible ! 
the book with which they try to crush our hopes ! 
the record, permeated and saturated with spiritual- 
ism from Genesis to Revelation, by which they 


pretend to disprove and forbid spiritualism ! Shall 
one revelation suffice for all time ? Shall we know 
nothing of the grand and hopeful changes which 
must have taken place in the world of spirits, as in 
this world, during the last eighteen hundred years ? 
Are we less worthy of communion with supernal 
essences than those semi-barbarous Jews ? Let us 
beware how we refuse the light of our day, be- 
cause the light of the past still shines. Shines ? 
Flickers ! In many it is extinct. How shall faith 
and hope be rekindled ? Egeria, you must not try 
to argue with me on this point. You must submit 
yourself and your power implicitly to me. Will 
you do so ? " 

" I don't know what you mean by my power. I 
have no power." 

" You have power, if you think you have. What 
I ask is that you will not oppose your will to 

" I will not oppose you," she answered in a low 
voice. A gush of tears blinded her, and dimmed 
the beautiful world. " Y^ou know how I have 
always hated this, father, — ever since I was old 
enough to think about it. A thing that seemed to 
be and seemed not to be, — it scared me ! And 
when it all stopped I thought you would n't want 
to begin it again. But I will try to do whatever 
you ask me." 

" I can't understand your repugnance," said her 
father. " If this power of yours should bring you 
face to face with your mother " — 


"I never saw her, — I should not know her; 
and she would not know me for the little baby she 
left ! " cried the girl desperately. " Besides, I can 
wait to go to her. And she can wait, too. I don't 
believe she would ever come. What good does it 
all do ? Oh, it 's dreadful to me ! " 

" The time has been, Egeria," rejoined her fa- 
ther, " when your attitude would have discouraged 
me. Now, it only gives me pain. I am convinced 
that your own opinions and ideas of the matter are 
of no consequence to the agencies operating through 
you. All that I ask of you is that you yield your- 
self passively to my influence. Will you do this ? " 

" Oh, yes, I will do all that I can. Oh, I wish 
I had died in the fever ! " 

" You talk childishly," said her father. " How 
do you know that death would have released you 
from your obligation to this cause ? It may be 
your office in the next world, as it is in this, to be 
the medium of communication between embodied 
and disembodied spirits." 

" Then T hope there won't be any other world." 

Her father looked angrily at her as she rose and 
stood beside the rustic fountain. One of the 
Shaker boys, uncouth in his wide straw hat and 
misshapen trowsers, came by with some cows from 
pasture, and they stopped to drink from the great 
stone bowl. The voices of bathers in the river 
half a mile away floated sad across the intervening 
space of meadow land. The air was so heavy with 
dew that the rumble of a distant railroad train was 


as clear as if near at hand in the valley which the 
sound even of the steam whistle seldom visited. 
As Egeria and her father walked back to the office 
the crickets trilled along the path. The smell of 
the prosperous gardens beyond the wall came to 
them, and mingled with the thick, sweet scent of 
the milkweed by the wayside. 

There was a little group before the office door. 
At the foot of the steps stood Humphrey, and with 
him Joseph and Elihu ; Diantha and Rachel were 
seen "unthin the door-way, and Frances sat on the 
threshold. They were talking earnestly ; at sight 
of the doctor and Egeria they lowered their voices, 
and as they drew near they ceased speaking alto- 
gether, with the consciousness of sincere people 
interrupted by those of whom they have been 
speaking. At the same time Sister Frances made 
room upon the step, and beckoned to Egeria with 
more than her usual fondness, — with a sort of 
tender reparation and defiance. The girl took the 
place, and her father remained standing with the 
other men. 

It plainly cost Elihu an effort to break the 
silence, but he said, after a moment, '•• Have you 
seen the account of the exposure of that materializa- 
tion medium out in St. Louis? " 

"No," said the doctor; "but nothing of that sort 
surprises me. It is too soon yet for successful ma- 
terializations, and all attempts at it are mixed 
with imposture." 

" There 's quite a long account," rejoined Elihu, 
" in yesterday's Tribune." 


He made a movement to take the paper out of 
his breast pocket. " I don't care to see it," said the 
doctor abruptly ; " I can very well imagine it. Those 
things are sickening. Some wretched creature — a 
woman, I suppose — trying to eke out her gift by 
cheating, to get her bread. It rests with you 
Shakers to rescue this precious opportunity from 
infamy. But you must take hold of it in no half- 
hearted way." 

" What do you mean ? " asked Elihu. 

" You have the conditions here of perfect suc- 
cess, as I heard you boast when I first saw you in 
the Fitchburg depot at Boston. You are released, 
from all thought of the morrow ; the spectre of 
want that pursues other men does not dog your 
steps ; your have neither wife nor husband nor 
child to cling about your hearts and weaken j'our 
will to serve the truth with absolute fidelity. Your 
discipline has rescued you from the vanity of mak- 
ing men wonder. There is nothing to prevent you 
from developing a perfect mediumship amongst 

"You imply," rejoined Elihu, with warmth, 
" that we have failed of our duty in this respect. 
You don't seem to realize that our very existence 
is a witness to the tnitli of an open relation be- 
tween the spii-itual and the material worlds. As a 
people we had birth in the inspired visions of Ann ; 
the very hvmn we sang yesterday was breathed 
througli our lips by angelic authority ; the tradi- 
tion of piophocy has never been broken with us. 
We gave spiritualism to the world." 


" Yes, you gave spintualisni to the world," re- 
torted Boynton, " to mock its hopes and baffle its 
aspirations and corrupt its life. You flung it out 
a flaming brand, to be blown upon by cupidity 
and lust and ambition, till its heavenly light turned 
to an infernal fire, while you remained lapped in 
your secure prosperity, counting your gains ; adding 
acre to acre, beef to beef, sheep to sheep ; living 
the lives of clowns and peasants on week days, and 
on the Sabbath dancing before the Lord, for the 
amusement of the idlers who come to your church 
as they go to a circus." 

" Friend," interrupted Elihu warningly, " j^ou 
are abusing our patience ! " The other Shakers 
looked shocked and alarmed, and Egeria rose to 
her feet. 

" I mean to abuse your patience. I mean to 
sting you into life. I mean to make you think of 
your heavenly origin, and realize how unworthy 
you have grown. You have subordinated your 
spiritualism to your Shakerism " — 

" Spiritualism was never anj'thing but a means 
to Shakerism," angrily retorted Elihu. 

" I would make it the e7id of Shakerism. How 
has it profited you as a means ? " demanded Boyn- 

" It has made us what we are. It gave us a 
discipline and a rule of life, because it descended, 
unasked, from heaven. But your secular spiritual- 
ism which 3^ou want to have us take up, and which 
has continued through solicitation and entreaty, 


has given you no code of morality. It lias been 
a vain show, making men worse and not better, 
and tempting them to all manner of lies. And 
you wish us to take it up at the point to which 
the world has brought it ? Nay ! You wish us to 
subordinate the angelic life, and the good that has 
crowned it, to the mere dead means ? Nay ! To 
value the staff by which we have climbed, and not 
the height we have reached ? Nay ! Prove first 
that in your hands it has not become a stock to 
conjure with, — to be cast on the ground and 
turned into a serpent for a wonder before Pharaoh 
and a confusion of true prophecy, — and then we 
will take it up again." 

The men's faces had grown red, and they ap- 
proached each other angrily. 

" You have deceived me ! " cried Boynton. " You 
led me to believe that among you I should find the 
sympathy and support which are essential to suc- 

" We led you to believe nothing," retoi'ted Elihu. 
" An accident threw you among us, after we had 
fully and fairly warned you that we should not re- 
ceive you or anyone without deliberation. We wel- 
comed you kindly, and you have had our best." 

" Elilm, Elihu ! " softly pleaded Sister Frances, 
" it is n't for us to boast of our good deeds." The 
others silently looked from him to her. 

" Thei-e is no vainglory in the truth, Frances," 
answered Elihu, severely. " We have been assailed 
with unjust tauntings." 


" And I," said Boynton, " have been provoked 
to a harsher frankness than I meant to use, by your 
indifference to an interest infinitely more vital than 
any rule of life ; by a gradually increasing enmity 
here which I have now felt for some time, and have 
struggled against in vain. There has been a with- 
drawal of confidence from me." 

" You have no right to say that," Elihu promptly 
retorted. " The conditions remain precisely the 
same as when you first unfolded your plans to us in 
family meeting. We dealt plainly with you then, 
and we know nothing more of you now than we 
knew within two days after your arrival here. You 
made certain pretensions then, and you have ful- 
filled none of them. Instead of that, j^ou come 
after nearly three months' time, and require us to 
lay aside our industries, and join you in a pursuit 
which has proved the vainest and idlest that has 
ever wasted the human mind." 

" You have twice upbraided me, now," said Dr. 
Boynton, "with my failure to make good my claim 
to your confidence. You shall not upbraid me a 
third time. You knew why I was waiting. You 
knew that it was at a cost almost like life itself that 
I waited, and that I counted every hour of delay 
as a drop of blood wrung from my heart. But I 
will delay no longer. You shall have the proof now 
— at once — this very night. Call your family to- 
gether. We won't lose another moment. Egeria ! " 

Egeria started : the quarrel — for it had assumed 
this character — had begun so suddenly, and proba- 


bly without intention or expectation on either side, 
thougli this is by no means certain ; but she must 
liave known whither it tended. 

" You are right ! " cried Elihu, with equal heat. 
" There is no time Hke the present. Matters have 
come to such a pass that something must be done." 

" Call your family together ! " repeated Boynton, 

" There is no need ; this is the evening for family 
meeting," the Shaker rejoined. 

In fact, while the}^ had been disputing, a group 
of the younger Shakers and Shakeresses had formed 
about the door of the family house in which the 
meeting was to be held, and their voices, unheeded 
by the angry disputants and their listeners, had 
risen on the cool twilight air. At that distance the 
white dresses of the young girls, freshly put on for 
the evening worship, showed pale through the gath- 
ering dusk, and their singing, robbed of its shrill- 
ness, was the voice of that disembodied devotion 
which haunts dim cathedral arches, and in our bright 
New World sometimes drifts out of open church 
windows to the ear of the passer, taking his heart 
with an indefinite religious passion and yearning. 



The office sisters went in-doors to make some 
change in their dress for the meeting ; Elihu and 
Joseph walked away together ; Egeria had shrunk 
from the tearful embrace of Sister Frances, and 
she now slowly followed with her father, who con- 
tinued in strenuous appeal to her, till they reached 
the door of the family house, and entered with the 
group awaiting them there. A dull look was in her 
eyes when they came into the hall, and she sank 
absent-mindedly into her usual place in one of the 
back rows of sisters, away from the light of the 
kerosene lamps burning in brackets against the 
wall. Her father, for reasons of his oAvn, chose to 
sit apart from the men, and he now retired to one 
of the corners, where he remained with his head 
drojiped on his hand during the greater part of the 

Brother Humphrey did not join the rest till the 
meeting was nearly over. He had stayed to close 
up the office for the night, and to wait for the re- 
turn of Brother Laban, who was away on business, 
and he was about to lock one of the front doors, 
when he found himself confronted at the threshold 
by two men, one of whom asked if he could oblige 
them with a night's lodging. 


" We do not keep a house of entertainment," said 
Hunipluvy, willing to evade, but vin willing to deny. 

" Oh, I 'ni perfectly aware of that," said the 
stranger, " but I suppose you don't turn people 
away. I was given to understand at the village, 
back here, that you sometimes took pity on way- 

" Yee, we do," said Humphrey, still holding the 
door ajar. 

" Then take pity on us, my dear friend, and on 
our horse," said. the stranger, not otherwise indi- 
cating the vehicle he had left at the gate, " and we 
will pay you what you like for your compassion." 
He pushed in, and Humphrey mechanically setting 
the door wider his companion followed. " We can 
sleep in a double-bedded room, if you can't give us 
two single ones." 

" Nay," said Humphrey, " you can have two sin- 
gle rooms. Sit down," he added, showing them 
into the office parlor. 

" Ah, you double nothing, I suppose," said the 
stranger. " Thanks ! " He dropped into a rock- 
ing-chair, but when Humphrey went out, to see 
that the rooms were quite ready, he sprang actively 
to his feet again and went peering about the room 
with the lamp which Humphrey had left on the 
table. He stooped down and examined the legs 
of this piece of furniture. " No I Evidently the 
Shaker conscience is against the claw-foot. Prob- 
ably they regard it as but one remove from the 
cloven-foot. And I don't suppose there 's such a 


thing as a brass-mounting of any sort in the build- 
ing. But really, this bare wall with the flat finish 
is n't so bad ; it 's expressive of the bare walls and 
flat finish of Shakerism ; an instance of what the 
Swedenborgians call correspondence. Look here, 
my dear fellow ! Here is something very original 
— a5-original — in rugs. That 's a good bit of 
color." He seized upon one of the braided rugs 
on the floor and partly lifted it. " Look at this ! " 

" Oh, let it alone," said the other, with a yawn. 
He looked not very well, and he glanced at his feet 
with the weariness that despairs of ever getting to 
bed with such an obstacle as boots in the way. 

" But you don't understand," persisted the first, 
clinging to the rug. " This must be home-dyed. 
These yellows and reds — I was admiring your 
rug," he explained to Humphrey, who now reap- 
peared. " It 's something uncommon in color." 

" Yee," said the Shaker; "we don't generally 
like our things so gay. Your rooms are ready." 

" Ah, then we won't detain you," said the 
stranger ; but he caught sight of the long clock at 
the lower end of the hall, into which they issued, 
and turned from going up-stairs to look closer at it, 
with his hand lamp, " This is good ! Very good ! 
A genuine Marm Storrs. A family heir-loom, I 
fancy ? " 

" Nay, I don't know," said the Shaker, stopping 
half-way up the stairs ; " it came here before I did. 
I don't know who brought it." 

" You don't care for colonial bricabrac ? But 


you should. It 's the only thing we can justly 
aspire to, this side of the water. You could pick 
up some nice things in the country. Have you a 
spinning-wheel ? " 

" Yee. But we don't use it. It 's cheaper to 
buy our linen." 

"Of course. But you 've no idea how much char- 
acter it would give that pleasant pai'lor of yours." 

Humphrey answered neither yea nor nay. The 
other stranger, who had stalked up-stairs past him, 
asked from the upper hall, "Which room is mine?" 
And when Humphrey pointed it out he entered and 
shut the door behind him. 

"What singing is that?" asked his companion, 
as he paused again at the open window near the 
top of the stairs. 

"It is our family meeting," answered Humphrey. 

"Family meeting I " repeated the stranger brisk- 
ly. " Would it be possible — could you allow a 
secular person like myself to look in a moment ? " 

" Nay," said the Shaker, composedly, without 
vouchsafing any explanation. 

The stranger looked at him as if puzzled. " I 
couldn't go?" 

" Nay," repeated Humphrey, as before. 

" But really, I 've heard of people attending your 
meetings, haven't I?" 

" Yee." 

" Then why can't I go ? " 

" This is a family meeting." 

" Oh ! Is this my room ? " 


" Yee. Good-night," he said, while the stranger 
was still hesitating at his door-way, and turned 
away ; the latter then answered his good-night, and 
went in, and Humphi'ey descended to his room be- 
low, where, after he had put np the strangers' horse, 
he busied himself restlessly in working at his ac- 
counts, till Laban raised the latch of the door. 

" Laban," said Humphrey, " there are two stran- 
gers — young men — in the house, that I've just 
give rooms to. One of us has got to stay away 
from the meetin', I presume. It won't do to have 
'em alone here, these times." 

" Nay," said Laban, taking off his hat, and hang- 
ing it on its appointed peg before he sat down. " I 
will stay." 

" I d' know 's I 'd ought to let ye," rejoined 
Humphrey. " It 's a meetin' of uncommon inter- 
est ; quite excitin', as you may say." 

" Why, what 's the matter? " 

" Well, Friend Boynton and Egery are goin' to 
give what they call a test see-aunts, I suppose. 
Mahters have come to a head, all at once, — I don't 
rightly know how. But Elihu and Friend Boyn- 
ton, they got into consid'able of a dispute, just 
now ; and Friend Boynton was tol'ble bitter, and 
spoke revilin's that seemed to kind o' edge Elihu 
on, and first we know they 'd cooked it up between 
'em that the' wa'n't any time like the present to 
prove whether spiritualism was better than Shaker- 
ism. I don't believe 't she more 'n half liked it, 
the way she looked." 


" I don't seem to care anything about goin'," said 
Laban. "I '11 stay." 

"• Why, thank ye, Laban ! " cried Humphrey, ris- 
ing with an eagerness which betrayed itself, now 
that he had satisfied the scruples of conscience by 
setting forth the meeting in the most attractive 
colors, and giving Laban a free choice whether to 
go or stay. 

When he came into the ineeting Brother Elihu 
was on his feet, speaking. Humphrey softly crept 
to the place left vacant for him, beside Elihu, and 
sat down. 

" I want," Elihu was saying, " that all the breth- 
ren and sisters here present should wish well to 
Friend Boynton in his experiment. He claims that 
it is necessary to his success that there should be 
no feeling of enmity or suspicion towards him, and 
if any of us have such feelings I hope they will try 
to put them aside. I shall try to do so, for my 
part, with all my heart. Hard words have just 
passed between Friend Boynton and me, and I am 
willing to own that I was hasty and wrong in much 
that I said. I shall truly rejoice in all the success 
that he hopes for to-night." 

He sat down, and a little stir passed through the 
rows of listeners. One of them began a hymn, and 
they sang it through, while Dr. Boynton waited 
with a face of haughty offense. When the singing 
ceased, he came forward from his corner, and stood 
between the rows of brothers and sisters. 

" I thank Elihu," he said, without looking at 


him, " for his good intentions towards myself, and 
I freely acqnit him for what he has said. I have 
myself nothing to withdraw and nothing to regret. 
Nor do I ask, in what I shall do to-night, any mood 
of especial assent or sympathy in you, or even of 
neutrality. I am not here to try an experiment. 
I am here to exhibit certain facts of psychological 
science, as thoroughly ascertained as the transmis- 
sion of the electric current that bears your mes- 
sages from Maine to California." He seemed to 
gather defiance from his rotund phraseology ; he 
rang the syllables of the last word through the hall 
with a clarion hardness. " When I last stood here," 
he continued, " and addressed you upon this sub- 
ject, I had to ask your patience. My daughter liad 
fallen sick with a fever, of which no one could fore- 
cast the event. She lived, and made a recovery 
which, though painfully slow, is complete ; and she 
is once more fully en rapport with my purposes 
and wishes. We shall begin with some simple ex- 
periments in biology, or, as it was originally called, 
mesmerism ; and we shall gradually proceed to a 
combination of this science with spiritism, in a 
union which it has been the end and aim of all 
my inquiries to effect, — which I have foreseen 
fiom the beginning as the only true development 
of perfect mediumship. All that I shall ask of 
?/0M," said Dr. Boynton, with a certain emphasis 
on the last word, turning on his heel, so as to in- 
clude all present in his glance of somewhat con- 
temptuous demand, "is your strict attention and 


your perfect silence. Stay ! I shall ask one of 
you to oblige me by setting a cbair here, where 
all can see, and by lending me a handkerchief." 
His voice had fallen to the colloquial tone, and it 
touched something of its old suavity. But when 
Humphrey had set the chair, and Diantha had 
given him a folded handkerchief, he shook out the 
linen with a flirt, and called, with a sternness that 
startled all, " Come forward, Egeria ! " 

The girl rose from her place beside Sister Fran- 
ces, and slowly advanced, with the Shakeress be- 
side her. 

" Come forward alone ! " commanded her father, 
and Frances shrank back into her seat again, while 
Egeria continued to advance, and took her place in 
the chair as he directed with a wave of his hand. 
Those who were nearest saw that she was veiy 
pale, and they spoke afterwards of a peculiar look 
in her face, " as if," they said, " the life had gone 
out of it." She was also thought to tremble, and 
she let her arms fall into her lap, with a long pa- 
tient sigh that was heard all over the room, and 
that brought tears to the eyes of some. 

Her father stood drawing the handkerchief 
through his hand. " We will begin, as I said, with 
some of the most elementary phases of mesmerism, 
and we will work up through these to its ultimation 
in clairvoyance, at which point of junction we will 
invoke the aid of spiritism, the science into which 
it merges, and we will then continue our inquiries 
in a dark sdance. For the present the lights can 
remain as they are." 



He came round in front of his daughter, and 
steadily regarded her. " Fix your eyes on mine," 
lie said, as if addressing a stranger. 

She obeyed, lifting her eyes with an effect of 
mute appeal, while the corners of her mouth 

" When I count three," continued her father, 
" your eyes will close. One, two, three." 

Her eyelids fell, and she remained as if in 
quiet sleep. Her father approached, and with a 
series of downward passes assumed to deepen the 

" Now," he said, turning to the intent spectators, 
" we will exhibit some well-known phenomena of 
this condition. The subject is in a complete mes- 
meric trance, and is entirely under my control. I 
can will her to remain in that chair, and she will 
have no power to rise. If I were simply in my 
own mind, without the utterance of a word, to will 
her to go to the house-top and fling herself down, 
she would instantly do so. If I willed her to put 
her hand in the flame of that lamp, she could not 
refuse ; neither would she feel any pain, if I for- 
bade her to feel pain. She sees, hears, tastes, feels, 
whatever I will. She has no being except in my 
volition, and I have not a doubt that, terrible as 
it may seem, if I were to will her death, she would 
cease to breathe." 

His hearers had listened with interest that deep- 
ened at each successive assertion ; at the last a sort 
of nin:in ran tlirongh the ranks of the sisters. The 
brothers remained hardly less impressively silent. 


" You can now easily understand," resumed 
Boynton, " what a tremendous engine, what a su- 
perhuman agency, such a power as that I exert 
must be in the development of a spirit medium. 
It is to this end that I have chiefly exerted it in 
the case of my daughter. My theory has been that 
the medium's obsession by spirits is often so 
thorough that mind and body alike succumb to 
their influence, and that the medium is thus so 
obscured as to be able to transmit no intelligible 
result. It is at this point that the mesmeric power, 
sterile in itself, and hitherto useless, comes to her 
rescue. It stays and supports her ; it enables an- 
other to reinforce her will, and she receives a distinct 
and ineffaceable impression from the other world. 
I ask you to consider but for a moment the vast 
consequences to flow from such a development. I 
ask you to do this, not in your behalf or mine ; for 
we knotv, by our converse with spirits, that we 
shall live hereafter, — that another world lies be- 
yond this, in which we shall abide forever. But 
you who dwell here, in the security, the sunshine, 
of this faith, have little conception of the doubt 
and darkness in which the whole Christian world 
is now involved. In and out of the church, it is 
honey-combed with skepticism. Priests in the pul- 
pit and before tlie altar proclaim a creed which 
they hope it will be good for their hearers to be- 
lieve, and the peoj^le envy the faith that can so 
confidently preach that creed; but neither priests 
nor people believe. As yet, this devastating doubt 


has not made itself felt in morals ; for those who 
doubt were bred in the morality of those who be- 
lieved. But how shall it be with the new genera- 
tion, with the children of those who feel that it 
may be better to eat, drink, and make merry, for 
to-morrow they die forever ? Will they be re- 
strained by the morality which, ceasing to be a 
guest of the mind in us, remains master of the 
nerves ? Will they not eat, drink, and make merry 
at their pleasure, set free as they are, or outlawed 
as they are, by the spirit of inquiry, by the spirit 
of science, which has beaten down the defenses and 
razed the citadel of the old faith? I shudder to 
contemplate the picture. In view of this calamitous 
future, I, as a spiritualist, cannot refrain from 
doing; and I appeal to you, as spiritualists, to 
shake off this drowse of prosperity, this poppied 
slumber of love and peace, and buckle on the ar- 
mor of action. What right have you, I ask, — 
what right have you Shakers to remain simply a 
refuge for the world's lame and halt and blind? 
This dream of perfect purity, of affectionate union, 
of heavenly life on earth, is very sweet ; and I 
too have been fascinated by it. I too have asked 
myself why there should not be some provision in 
Protestantism, as there is in Romanism, for those 
who would retire from the world and dedicate 
themselves to humble industry, to meek communion 
with the skies, Lo brotherly love. But I tell you 
that this is all a delusion and a snare. On your 
purity rests the guilt of the world's foulness ; on 


your union the blame of the world's discord ; on 
your heavenly peace the responsibility of the world's 
hellish unrest. To you was first given, in this lat- 
ter time, the renewed gospel of immortality, the 
evidence of spiritual life, the truth that matter and 
spirit may converse for the salvation of mankind. 
What have you done with this priceless gift? Have 
you cherished it, kept alight the precious jewel, 
to shine before the eyes of men ; or have you flung 
it into the world to be trampled under foot by the 
swinish herd of sorcerers, who will yet turn tigain 
and rend you, unless you fulfill your duty ? Every 
one of you here should become a messenger of the 
truth, and devote himself and herself to its promul- 
gation. Go forth into the world, though it leave 
your home desolate, and serve the truth ! Or, 
better still, break up this outworn brotherhood, 
this barren union in which you dwell, a company 
of aging men and women, childless, hopeless, with 
whom their heritage must perish, and form with 
me on its ruins a new Shakerism, — a Shakerism 
which shall be devoted to the development of spir- 
itistic science ; which shall — which shall " — 

He paused for the word, and Brother Eliliu sud- 
denly rose. " I would remind Friend Boynton," 
he said, " that we are waiting to witness the mes- 
meric phenomena which he has promised us." 

The brethren and sisters, who had been unawares 
drawn upward and forward by Boynton's eloquence, 
sank back into their seats, but some of the latter 
turned a reproachful glance at Elihu, in wonder 


that he could have the heart to interrupt the heroic 
strain. Then all eyes reverted to Egeria, who in 
the general forgetfulness had sat with her head 
drooping and her person dejected in a weary lassi- 

The doctor stopped, stared at Elihu, and caught 
his breath. He could not collect his thoughts at 
once, or master his overstrung nerves ; but when 
he regained his voice he said dryly, " If you will 
do nie the favor to look at your Avatch, I will show 
you the least of these phenomena." 

Brother Elihu promptly took out his watch and 
held it in his hand. 

" Egeria," said the doctor, " tell me the time by 
Elihu's watch." 

The girl lifted herself like one peering forward, 
but her eyes were still closed. " The case is shut^" 
she answered. 

" That is true," Elihu declared. " I had shut 
it." He opened it. 

" Look now, Egeria." 

She remained in the same posture for some time. 
" I can't tell," she said at last. " I can't see." 

The doctor smiled triumphantly. " Oh, I had 
forgotten to bandage your eyes. You can't see, of 
course, unless your eyes are bandaged." He bound 
the handkerchief, which he had continued to draw 
through liis hand, over her eyes. " Now look." 

" I can't see," repeated the girl. 

Boynton laughed. " Really," he said, " I must 
apologize for having forgotten some essential condi- 


tions of these simpler plienomena. We had ad- 
vanced so far beyond them that I did n't recur to 
them at once in all their details. I can't, of course, 
will the subject to know what I don't know myself. 
If I were to guess at the time, she must necessarily 
repeat my guess." He went quickly to Elihu, and 
glanced at the watch ; then returning to his place 
beside Egeria's chair, he looked off at a distant 
point and said, with a tone of easy indifference, 
" Well, Egeria, what time is it? " 

The girl fell back into her chair, and putting up 
her hands took the bandage from her eyes, whicli 
she fixed upon her father's face in a passion of pity 
and despair. 

" Let it go. Friend Boynton," said Elihu kindly. 
" There is no haste. Another time will do as well. 
Perhaps Egeria has not quite recovered." 

" Yee," repeated one and another of the breth- 
ren and sisters, "another time will do as well." 

"No," said Boynton, "another time will not do 
as well." He was strongly moved, but he made 
a successful effort to command his voice. " JNIy 
daughter has been so habitually under my influ- 
ence that I had not thought it worth while to go 
through the preliminaries we use with a fresh sub- 
ject. But as a great interruption has taken place 
during her fever, perhaps this has become neces- 
sary." While he spoke, he was searching in his 
different pockets. He continued bitterly: "I was 
once the possessor of a silver piece which I used in 
produchig the mesmeric trance, but it would not be 


strange if I had parted with it in the distress which 
threw me uj^on your charity. If any of you hap- 
pens to have a silver coin of any sort" — 

Few of these simple communists often had money 
about them ; and in those days of paper currency 
even the business men of the family knew very well 
that there was no silver in their pockets. If a sil- 
ver coin was the indispensable condition of the mes- 
meric slumber, apparently Boynton stood on safe 

But with a quick " Ah ! " he came upon the piece 
he was seeking in his pocket-book. He pressed it 
between his palms, keeping his eyes fixed upon his 
daughter's. Then he put it in her open hand, and 
bade her look at it without winking, till her eyelids 
fell. As they closed he softly removed the piece, 
and made a number of downward passes over her 
face. There was a pause, during which Boynton 
w^as about to say something to his audience, when 
Egeria opened her eyes and rose from her chair. 

" I can't, I can't ! " she cried, pitifully. " I 've 
tried, but indeed, indeed, I can't." She stood be- 
fore him, wringing her hands, and longing to cast 
her anns about his neck ; but the sternness of his 
reproachful face forbade her. He opened his lips 
to speak, but no sound came from them. One of 
the brothers nearest him thought that he tottered, 
and half rose, with outstretched hands, to support 
him. Sister Frances was already at Egeria's side ; 
she drew her head down upon her shoulder with 
a motherly instinct, while a murmur of sympathy 
went through the house. 


Bojmton repelled the friendly hand extended to- 
wards him. " Let me alone," he said ; " I can take 
care of myself." He turned about, and lifting his 
voice bravely addressed the meeting : " We have 
failed, — totally and completely failed, upon as fair 
a trial as I could have wished. I do not attempt 
to account for the result, and I cannot dispute any 
conclusions which you may draw from it in regard 
to ourselves." 

Elihu stood up. " Friend Boynton, we believe 
you are an honest man." 

" Yee, we do ! " was repeated from bench to 

"I thank you," replied Boynton, in a breaking 
voice. " Then I can ask you to let me say that our 
failure is a profound mystery to me, and belies all 
our past experience. I do ask you to believe this ; 
I ask you to let me say it, and to let it remain with 
you as my last word. For myself, I cannot lose 
faith in the past and keep my sanity. But some- 
how I see that the power has passed from us. In 
any case our destiny is accomplished among you. 
We must go out from you self-condemned. Before 
we go, I wish to acknowledge all your kindness, 
and to ask your forgiveness for such words of mine 
as have wronged you. Come, Egeria." 

The girl came forward to where her father stood, 
and he took her hand and passed it through his 

" You must n't leave us, Friend Boynton," said 
Elihu. " We wish you to stay. We wish you to 



stay," lie repeated, at a dazed look of inquiry from 
the doctor, " and take all the time that you want 
for your investigations." 

" Yee, that is so," assented all the voices in the 
room successively. Brother Humphrey alone con- 
tinued silent, and he was ordinarily so undemon- 
strative that his tacit dissent would harldly have 
been noticed, but for his saying, before Boynton 
could collect himself for reply, "There ain't noth- 
in' agin Friend Boynton but what he can clear up 
with a word to the elders, and I jine with ye all in 
askin' of him to stay." 

" What do you mean ? " demanded Boynton, 
turning fiercely upon him. " If you know any- 
thing against me, I wish you to speak out." 

Brother Humphrey, who could scarcely have 
meant to intimate any mental reservation, has- 
tened to answer in alarm, " I ha'n't got any doubts 
of ye, Friend Boynton. I think just as the rest do. 
We 'd believe you^ 

" Believe me about what ? I insist that you 
speak out." 

Humphrey looked at the faces near him for help, 
but there was only pity and surprise in them. " It 
ain't no time or place," he began. 

" It is the very time and the very place," retorted 
Boynton. " There can be no other like it. I wish 
you to say wliat you mean before the whole family. 
There is nothing in my life which I wish secretly 
examined into. I absolve you from all your scru- 
ples, and I wish, I demand, I require, that you 
speak out." 


Humphrey rose with a sort of groan. " I think," 
he said, " as much as any on ye that there ought to 
be forgivin' and forgettin', and I ain't one to bear 
resentment for revilin's that 's been passed on Shak- 
erism here to-night. But what I thought, if Friend 
Boy n ton was goin' to stay amongst us, he'd ought 
to have a chance to clear himself. We all know 
what 's been flyin' about the neighborhood here, 
and it ain't fair to us, and it ain't fair to him, to let 
it go without a word. I don't want he should feel 
that we 're tryin' on him, but I want him to know 
what 's said, for all I don't believe in breakin' a 
bruised reed." 

" As I said before, if you have heard anything to 
my disadvantage, I wish you to speak out, — I de- 
mand that you shall speak out," said Boynton. 

" I 'm goin' to speak out, now," returned Hum- 
phrey more steadily, " and it ain't for anything 
that Friend Harris said, although I think ye 'd 
ought to know what he did say." 

" Who is Harris ? " asked Boynton. 

" He 's the landlord of the Elm Tahvern." 

"What does he say?" 

" Well," said Humphrey, with reluctance, " I 
think ye 'd ought to know. He says you wa'n't 
sober that mornin' at his house, and he could n't 
hardly git ye out." Humphrey turned very red, 
as if ashamed, and wiped his forehead with his nap- 
kin ; Elihu and the brothers near him looked down, 
and a painful hush prevailed. 

Boynton did not deign to notice this accusation. 


" And what does your friend Harris say of the oc- 
currences attending our departure ? " he demanded, 

" He ain'fe no friend of our'n, except in the script- 
ural sense," replied Humphrey, doggedly. " But 
he says the' wa'n't no occurrences. Just a flash of 
tol'ble sharp lightnin' and that 's all. The' wa'n't 
no raps, nor no liftin' o' table-tops, accordin' to his 

" I am glad to have you so explicit," said the 
doctor, " and I think now I begin to understand 
the value of your family's generosity towards my- 
self. Did your friend Harris say anything in as- 
persion of my daughter ? " 

" Nay," replied Humphrey. 

" Then she probably remains as before in your 
estimation, and you would take her word against 
Harris's, highly as you value his testimony ? " 

" Nay, we don't value his testimony," interposed 
Elihu. " Your word is better than his. We be- 
lieve you against him." 

Boynton waved scornful rejection with his hand. 
" Oh, spare your flatteries, sir. / know what you 
think of me. But you would believe my daugh- 
ter ? " 

" Yee, we would," answered the whole audience. 

The doctor regarded them with a curling lip. 
" Egeria," he said quietly, " state to these people 
what occurred. Tell the truth." The girl was 
silent. " Speak ! " 

" Father ! " she gasped, " I don't know. I have 


heard you say. But I was asleep and dreaming till 
that clap of thunder came." 

" Then you remember nothing? " 

" Oh, I can just remember our going into that 
house, and our coming out of it. I forgot every- 
thing, — I was beginning to be crazy with the fever. 
But don't mind, — oh, don't mind, father ! They 
beheve you, — they said they did. Oh, you do be- 
lieve him, don't you ? " she implored of all those 
faces that swam on her tears. 

Boynton reeled, and again the compassionate 
brother started up to save him from a fall. " Don't 
touch me ! " he cried harshly. " Is there anything 
else?" he demanded, turning to Humphrey. 

Elihu rose with an air of authority. " This must 
stop now. It has been a painful season ; but no 
one here thinks that these fiiends have done any- 
thing wrong, or said anything false. We believe 
them, and we welcome them, if they choose, to stay 
with us." 

" Yee, we do ! " The assenting voices included 

" You welcome us to stay amongst you ! " cried 
the doctor, with intense disdain. " Do you think 
that after what has just passed here any earthly 
consideration could induce me to remain another 
day, another hour, under your roof ? " He had his 
daughter's hand in his arm, and he proudly pressed 
it as he spoke, drawing himself to his full height. 
" So much for ourselves ! As for the experiments 
in which we have so ignominiously failed, I have 


no personal regrets. It would have been a pitiful 
triumph at best, if we had succeeded before you, 
and I cannot believe that the principle, the truth, 
involved can suffer by our defeat. We are simply 
proved unfit means for its develoj)ment, — nothing 
more. Were it otherwise, were I persuaded that 
our humiliation was destined to arrest, or more than 
shghtly retard, the progress of this science in men's 
minds, then I should indeed regard this night as 
the blackest of my life, and should be ready to lay 
down that life in despair. But, no ! It is not given 
to any one weak instrument, mysteriously breaking 
in the presence of a few obscure and sordid intelli- 
gences, to obstruct the divine intention. In this 
ineradicable conviction, I bid you a final farewell." 
He strode toward the door with his daughter on 
his arm. One of the elders said, meekly and sadly, 
" The meeting is dismissed," and the brethren and 
sisters dispersed to their different houses. Those 
of the office found themselves following Dr. Bojmton 
thither. They apprehensively entered after him, 
dreading some fresh explosion, or some show of 
preparation for instant departure. But the rhetoric 
of his spectacular adieu had sufficed him for the 
present. He merely said, " Egeria, go to bed. 
You must be quite worn out. As for me, I can't 
sleep, yet. I will go out for a walk. Would you 
oblige me with a glass of water ? " he asked po- 
litely, turning to Sister Frances. When she brought 
it, " Thanks," he said, and handed back the empty 
goblet with a bow. 


" Do you think jon 'd better walk far ? " tremu- 
lously asked Egeria. 

The touch of opposition restored him to his sense 
of wrong and resentment. 

" Go to bed, Egeria," he said severely, " and 
don't any one sit up for me. I can let myself in 
at the side door when I wish to return." 

He started away, but the girl put herself in his 
path to the door. " Oh, father ! You won't go to 
see that man at the tavern, will you ? Tell me you 
won't, or I can't let you go." 

" Don't be ridiculous ! " cried her father. " I have 
no idea of going to meet that ruffian. In due time 
I shall call him to account." 

" Don't ye think. Friend Boynton," said Hum- 
phrey, with awkward kindliness, " that you 'd bet- 
ter try to get some rest? " 

In the swift evanescence and recurrence of his 
moods under the strong excitement, Boynton was 
hke a drunken man. After publishing his reso- 
lution not to accept the hospitality of the Shakers 
for an hour more, he had walked passively to the 
office with them, and had bidden Egeria go to 
bed there, as if nothing had happened. At Hum- 
phrey's words, all his indignation was rekindled. 

" Rest ! No, sir ! I will not try to get some 
rest. After what has passed, every offer of kind- 
ness from you is a fresh offense. You, Egeria, if 
you can close your eyes here, you are welcome. 
Doubtless you can. Your apathy, your total want 
of sympathetic response to my feelings and my will, 


may enable you to do so. But till some other roof 
shall cover us, I want no shelter." 

No one sought to detam him, now, and going 
quickly from the door he left them huddled in a 
blank and purposeless group together. 

" Poor thing ! " said Sister Frances, first break- 
ing the silence, as she turned to Egeria. " Oh, 
poor child ! " She tried to take the girl in her 
arms ; but with a pathetic " Don't ! " Egeria pre- 
vented her, and averted her quivering face. She 
went out of the room and up-stairs without a word 
or sound ; but Frances creeping softly after, to 
listen at her door, heard her sobbing within the 


The hot weather, with here and there a blazing 
day in June, flamed into whole weeks of unbroken 
heat before the middle of July. The business 
streets were observably quieter, and the fashiona- 
ble quarters were solitudes. At the club windows 
a few elderly men sat in arm-chairs, with glasses of 
iced Apollinaris w^ater at their elbows, and stared 
out on the Common ; some young men, with their 
hats on (if they perished for it), stalked spectrally 
from room to room behind them. The imported 
honnes with their charges no longer frequented the 
Public Garden ; it was thronged with the children 
and the superannuated of the poor, and with groups 
of tourists from the South and West, who were 
finding Boston what so many natives boast it in 
winter, the most comfortable summer resort on the 

It was not Ford's habit to go out of town at all ; 
for in his hatred of the narrow and importunate 
conditions of the village life which he had left be- 
hind him with his earlier youth, he had become an 
impassioned cockney. 

" If you are so bitter against the country," said 
Phillips, who was urging an invitation to the sea- 


side upon him, " why don't you try really to be of 
the town as well as in it? Why don't you try to 
be one of us ? Why don't you make an effort to 
fit in ? " 

" I don't like fitting in ; I like elbow-room," an- 
swered Ford. " Do you suppose I should be fond 
of the town if I were of it ? I should have to be 
one of a set, and a set is a village. If I am in the 
town, but not of it, I have freedom and seclusion. 
Besides, no man of simple social traditions like 
mine fits into a complex society without a loss of 
self-respect. He must hold aloof, or commit insin- 
cerities, — be a snob. I prefer to hold aloof. It 
is n't hard." 

" And you don't think you do it to make yourself 
interesting? " inquired Phillips. 

" I think not," said Ford. 

" People would as lief be pleasant to you as not. 
But it ends there. They 're not anxious about 
you," suggested the other. 

" I believe I understand that." Ford was sitting 
at his window in his deep easy-chair ; and he had 
his coat off. " That 's what galls my peasant-pride. 
Suppose I went with you to this lady's house " — he 
touched with the stem of his pipe a letter which lay 
open on the table pulled near him — " and visited 
among your friends, the nobility and gentry ; I 
should be reminded by a thousand things every day 
that I was a sham and a pretender. That kind of 
people always take it for granted that you feel and 
think with them ; and I don't. You can't keep 


telling tliem so, however. And suppose I tried to 
conform : I should be an amateur among profes- 
sionals. They have the habit of breeding and of 
elegance, as they understand it ; I may have a lof- 
tier ideal, but I have n't discipline ; I can't realize 
my ideal ; and they do realize theirs, — poor souls ! 
That makes me their inferior ; that makes me hate 

" Oh," said Phillips, " you can put an ironical 
face on it, but I suspect what you say is really your 

" Of course it is. At heart I am a prince in dis- 
guise ; but your friends won't know it if I sit with 
my coat off. That would vex me." He took up the 
letter from the table, and holding it at arm's length 
admired it. " Such a hand alone is enough ; the 
smallest letters half an inch high, and all of them 
shrugging their shoulders. I can't come up to that. 
If I went to this lady's house, to be like her other 
friends and acquaintance I should have to be just 
arrived from Europe, or just going ; my talk should 
be of London and Paris and Rome, of the Saturday 
Review and the Revue des Deux Mondes, of Eng- 
lish politics and society ; my own country should 
exist for me on sufferance through a compassionate 
curiosity, half repulsion ; I ought to have recently 
dined at Newport with poor Lord and Lady Scam- 
perton, who are finding the climate so terrible ; and 
I should be expected to speak of persons of the 
highest social distinction by their first names, or 
the first syllables of their first names. You see, 


that 's quite beyond me. 'And do bring your friend, 
Mr. Ford,' " he read from the letter raincingly, and 
laughed. " I leave it to your fertile invention to 
excuse me, Phillips." 

He kindled his pipe, and Phillips presently went 
away. It was part of his routine not to fix himself 
in any summer resort, but to keep accessible to the 
invitations which did not fail him. He found his 
account in this socially, and it did not remain un- 
said that he also gratified a passion for economy in 
it ; but the people who said this continued among 
his hosts. Late in the summer, or almost when the 
leaves began to turn, he went away to the hills for 
a fortnight or three weeks, providing himself with 
quarters in some small hotel, and making a point 
of returning to the simplicity of nature. In the 
performance of this rite he wore a straw hat and a 
flannel shirt, and he took walks in the woods with 
the youngest young ladies among the boarders. 

The intervals between his visits he spent in town, 
where he was very comfortable. When he went to 
the places that desired him, he explained that he 
had been in Boston trying to get Ford away. " Oh, 
yes ! Your odd friend," said the ladies driving him 
home from the station in their phaetons. Phillips 
must have known that they did not care either for 
his odd friend or for his own oddity in having him, 
and yet he rather prized this eccentricity in him- 

The people in Ford's boarding-house went their 
different ways. Mrs. Perham remained latest, for 


Mr. Perham's health had not yet allowed his re- 
moval. He had had two great passions in life : 
making money and driving horses. By the time 
he had made his money he had a touch of paralysis, 
and could no longer drive horses. This separated 
him much from his wife, who liked almost as well 
as he to ride after a good horse (as it is expressed 
by people who like it), and wdiom, since she had 
been forced so much to books for amusement, he 
could not join. She read the newspapers to him, 
and she went with him to the theatres ; but there 
they ceased to sympathize in their tastes, for she 
was not fond of swearing, and it was this resource 
which remained to Mr. Perham after the papers 
and the play. 

The house filled up for the summer with those 
people from the West and South who found the 
summer in Boston so pleasant, and with other tran- 
sients; but many of the rooms and many of the 
places at the table remained vacant, and Mrs. Per- 
ham and Ford looked at each other across long dis- 
tances, empty, or populated only by strange faces. 
At last Mr. Perham was able to bear removal ; his 
wife seized the occasion and hurried him away to 
the country. That left Ford alone with the stran- 
gers, and he rather missed the woman's hungry 
curiosity, her cheerfulness, and her indomitable 
patience under what a more sympathetic witness 
miffht have felt to be the hard conditions of her 
life. He clung to the town throughout July and 
far into August, with a growing restlessness. He 


did not care for the heat, and he amused himself 
well enough when he found time to be amused. 
He made a point of studying the different excur- 
sions in the harbor and beyond it ; he studied also 
the entertainments offered at the theatres, where 
the variety combinations inculcated in small audi- 
ences a morality as relaxed as their systems. 

One Sunday he went to the spiritualist meeting 
in the grove by Walden Pond. Most of the spirit- 
ualists were at a camp-meeting of their sect further 
up the road, and the people whom he met seemed, 
like himself, vaguely curious. They were nearly 
all country-folk: the young men had come with 
their sweethearts for pleasure ; there were middle- 
aged husbands and wives who had brought their 
children for a day in the woods beside the pretty 
lake. Their horses were tied to the young pines 
and oaks ; they sat in their buggies and carryalls, 
which were pushed into cool and breezy spots. The 
scene broua:ht back to Ford the Sunday-school pic- 
nics of his childhood, but here was a profaner fla- 
vor: scraps of newspaper that had wrapped lunches 
blew about the grounds ; at one place a man had 
swung a hammock, and lay in it reading, in his 
shirt-sleeves ; on the pond was a fleet of gay row- 
boats, which, however, the railroad company would 
not allow to be hired on Sunday. Ford found the 
keeper of the floating bath-houses and got a bath. 
When he came out the man, with American splen- 
dor, refused to take any money ; he said that they 
did not let the baths on Sunday, but when he saw 


a gentleman he liked to treat hira as one. " I hope 
you 're not mistaken in my case," said Ford sadly ; 
and the bath-man laughed, and said be would chance 
it. Another of the people in charge complained of 
the dullness of the place. " What you want is a 
band. You want a dance-hall in the middle of the 
pond, here ; and you want a band." They pointed 
out the auditorium in a hollow of the hills beyond 
the railroad track, where at the hour fixed for serv- 
ice he found the sparse company assembled. A 
score of listeners were scattered over the seats in 
the middle of the pavilion ; outside, two young fel- 
lows who had come by the train leaned against the 
columns and smoked, with their hats on; a young 
girl in blue, with her lover, conspicuously occupied 
one of the seats under the trees that scaled the am- 
phitheatre, worn grassless and brown by drought 
and the feet of many picnics ; there were certain 
ladies in artificial teeth and long linen dusters whom 
Ford fixed upon as spiritualists, though he had no 
reason to do so. A trance-speaker was announced 
for the Invocation; he came forward, where the 
fiddlers sat when there was dancing, and, support- 
ing himself by one hand on the music-stand, closed 
his eyes and passed into a trance of wandering 
rhetoric, returning to himself in a dribble of verse 
which bade the hearer, at the close of each stanza, 
" Come, then, come to Spirit-Land." 
The address was given by another speaker, who 
declaimed against the injustice of the world towards 
spiritualism and boasted of the importance of its 


Unfoldments. He sketched its rise and progress, 
and found an analogy between the " first lisping of 
the tinny rap at Rochester" and the advent of 
Christ, whom he described as the " infant Reformer 
in the man-ger," and again as our '' humble elder 
brother." The people listened decently, and but 
for the young fellows with their cigars were as re- 
spectful as most country congregations to what was 
much duller than most country preaching. Ford 
came away before the end, and climbing the side 
of the amphitheatre encountered Mr. Eccles, who 
was also about to go. He shook hands with Ford, 
and on his present inquiry said that nothing had 
been heard of the Boyntons since the spring. He 
expressed a faded interest in them. He asked Ford 
if he had seen the experiments in self-expansion 
and compression of the new medium, Mrs. Sims. 
He viewed these experiments as the ultimation of 
certain moral fluctuations in the spiritual world, 
for if there was a steady movement either outward 
or inward in that world, Mrs. Sims might expand 
or might condense herself, but it stood to reason 
that she could not do both. 

Ford came home with a headache ; when he 
woke, the next morning, the long window danced 
round the room before it settled to its proper place. 
He was not in the habit of being sick, and he suf- 
fered some days with this dizziness before he saw a 
doctor. Then he asked advice, because the sick- 
ness interfered with his work. 

" Go away somewhere," said the doctor. " It 's 
indigestion. Get a change of air." 


"Do you mean the sea-side? " asked Ford. 

" I don't call tliat a change of air from Boston. 
Go to the hills." 

Ford reflected a moment in disgust. He could 
have endured the sea-side. " Any particular direc- 
tion ? " 

" No. Go anywhere. Go to the White Mount- 
ains. Take a tramp through them." 

" I 'd rather take medicine," said Ford. " Give 
me some medicine." 

" Oh, I '11 give you all the medicine you want," 
said the doctor; and he wrote him a prescription. 

Ford went home, and took his medicine with the 
same skepticism, and tried to keep about his work. 
The lectures which he had been attending were 
over long ago ; but he had found a chance to do 
some study with a practical chemist which he was 
loath to forego ; and he had his pot-boiling for the 
press. But his mind feebly relaxed from the de- 
mands upon it, and at last it refused to respond at 
all. He lingered a week longer in town before he 
would suffer himself to act upon the doctor's ad- 
vice, and when at last he forced himself to submis- 
sion it was the end of the month. As regarded 
such matters he was a man of small invention, and 
he was at a loss how to go, when he had made up 
his mind to it. He would have been glad of Phil- 
lips's determining counsel, but the time had now 
come for Phillips's annual return to nature, and he 
would be far from Boston and the North Shore. 
On his way to buy a Guide, Ford saw in the win- 


dow of a railroad agency the advertisement of a 
route to the White Mountains, and he advised with 
the ticket-agent, who took no more interest in the 
matter than Ford himself, about getting a ticket 
over his line. It led first to Portland, and then, 
as the agent indifferently pointed out on the map, 
went straight to the mountains, with a bold, broad 
sweep, while rival routes, in spidery crooks, zig- 
zagged thither with a preposterous, almost wanton, 
indirectness. Foi'd stood sadly amusing himself, 
first with the immense advantage of this line over 
all competitors, and then with the names of the 
towns near Gorhara in New Hampshire, and in the 
adjoining region of Maine : Milan, Berlin, Success, 
Byron, Madrid, Avon, New Vineyard, Peru, Nor- 
way, Sweden, Industry, Paris, Carthage, — names 
conjecturably given at hap-hazard, or in despair, or 
out of humorous recklessness, as names are given 
to dogs and horses. He wondered whether Dr. 
Boynton came from Byron or Carthage, or perhaps 
a little farther off, from Cornville or Solon. He 
stood so long before the map that the agent lost 
his patience, and turned to his books ; and Ford 
came away at last without buying a ticket. 

At home he found a visitor whom his sick and 
dazzled eyes identified after a while as Phillips. 
" Hallo ! " he said. " I thought you were some- 
where in the country." 

" Theoretically I am in the country," Phillips 
admitted, " but practically ' I am here,' — as Ruy 
Bias says," He neatly imitated the accent of the 


late Charles Fecbter in pronouncing the words. 
" It occurred to me, before committing myself to 
the country irretrievably, that I would stop in Bos- 
ton and try to commit you with me." 

" Who told you I was sick ? " asked Ford, with 

" Nobody. If I knew it, I divined it. If you 
are sick, so much the better. My plan is just the 
thing for you. I am going to drive in a buggy to 
Brattleboro', where I underwent the water cure — 
for my first passion. It was a great while ago. I 
want you to coine, too." 

Ford shook his head stupidly. " The doctor said 
the White jNIountains." 

" Yes, White Mountains, Green Mountains ; it 's 
all one. It 's air that you 're after. All you want 
is change of air. This journey will make another 
man of you. It 's to be a journey for the sake of 
going and coming ; and we will loiter or hurry on 
the way, just as we like. Come ! I 've planned it 
all out. It 's to be an affair of weeks. I propose 
to make it an exploration, — a voyage of discovery. 
I wish to form the acquaintance of my native State, 
and of those men and brethren, her children, who 
have never left the domestic hearth. You had bet- 
ter come. It will be literary material to you, and 
money in your pocket. I thought of striking for 
Egerton, and looking in on the Perhams there, 
first ; but we ought to stop on our way at Sudbury 
to see the Wayside Inn ; and I must deflect a little 
to show you Concord, and the local history and 


philosophy ; there are Shakers and all sorts of nov- 
elties at Vardley and Harshire ; beyond Egerton is 
Princeton, with its Wachusett jNIountain ; and after 
that there is anything northwestwardly that you 
like ; I have n't the map by me. My mare is pin- 
ing on the second floor of her stable, and would ask 
nothing better than to form a third in our party." 
" Oh, I '11 go with you," said Ford listlessly. 
"Good!" cried Phillips. "This is the fire of 
youth. If we get sick of it, we can send the mare 
back from any given point, and take to the rails. 
That is one of the advantages of having rails. It 
makes travel by the country roads a luxury, and 
not a necessary. I fancy we shall feel almost 
wicked in the pursuit of our journey, — it will be 
such unalloyed pleasure." 

Phillips's mare was the remains of an establish- 
ment which he had set up some years before. It 
had included a man and a coupd, and he had relin' 
quished these because of their expensiveness. The 
man, especially, had been unable to combine the 
advantages of outside man and inside man ; he 
made Phillips's lodgings smell of the mare, and he 
made the stable smell of Phillips's wine. The man 
was paid off and sent away, and the coup^ was sold 
at auction ; but with a conservative unthrift that 
curiously combined with his frugal instincts, Phil- 
lips had suffered the mare to linger on his hands. 
Sometimes he took her out for exercise from the 
club stable, where he had lodged her ; but he had 
intervals of forgetfulness, in which the club-groom 


found it his duty to warn him that the mare's legs 
were swelling. She was consequently boarded out 
of town a good deal, and Phillips awoke to her pos- 
session only when the farmers' bills came in. At 
these times he said he should sell that mare. 

Like men who are rarely out of sorts, Ford was 
eager to be well at once, and he chafed under Phil- 
lips's delays in getting off. But the latter, having 
secured Ford's company, began to arrange the de- 
tails of their journey with minuteness, and it was 
several days before they started. Their progress 
had then even more than the promised slowness. 
Phillips was intent not only upon the pleasure of 
the journey, but also upon the search for colonial 
bricabrac, and this began as soon as they struck the 
real country beyond the suburban villages. All 
that was colonial was to his purpose, from tall 
standing clocks to the coarsest cracked blue delft : 
spinning-wheels, andirons, shovels and tongs, claw- 
footed furniture, battered pewter plates, door-latches 
and door-knockers, tin lanterns, fiddle-back chairs — 
his craze generously embraced them all. He did 
not buy much, but he talked as long over what he 
left as what he took. He was not the first connois- 
seur who had visited these farm-houses ; the peoj^le 
sometimes knew the worth of their wares ; in cer- 
tain cases, he traced the earlier presence of rival 
collectors whom he knew. Ford had nothing to do 
but to note the growth of the bargaining passion in 
the wary farm-wives. There were some who would 
sell nothing, and some had nothing they would not 


sell, and they asked too much or too little with the 
same simj^licity. What most struck him was the 
entire rusticity of their thought and life. Off the 
lines of railroad, and out of the localities frequented 
by summer boarders, the people were as rural, 
within fifteen or twenty miles of Boston, as they 
would have been among the Vermont or New 
Hampshire hills. But the country was itself occa- 
sionally very wild, especially as they got southward 
in Sudbury, among overflowed meadows and long 
stretches of solitary pine woods. The sparse farm- 
houses and the lonesome villages afflicted him with 
the remembrance of his own youth ; whatever his 
life had been since, it had not been embittered with 
the sense of hopeless endeavor, with the galled 
pride, with the angry ambition, which had once 
made it a torment in such places. But when they 
chanced upon some bit of absolute wilderness his 
heart relented towards the country ; his jealous 
spirit found no more intrusion there than in the 
town ; and he liked the wild odors, the tangle of 
vegetation, the life of the sylvan things. A hawk 
winging to covert under the avenging pursuit of 
small birds, a woodchuck lumpishly skuri-ying across 
an open field, the chase of chipmucks and squirrels 
along the walls, were sights that touched a remote 
and deep tenderness in his breast. As they drew 
near the old inn, which was the first monument 
Phillips had proposed to inspect, it was late in 
the afternoon, and the landscape grew more consol- 
ingly savage. No other house was near enough to 


be seen, and they approached the stoned mansion 
through a long stretch of pine and sand, by a road 
which must be lonelier now than it was a hundred 
years ago. They dismounted under the elm before 
the vast yellow hostelry, and explored its rambling 
chambers : they saw Lafayette's room and Wash- 
ington's room ; the attic for the slaves and common 
folk ; the quaint ball-room ; the bar ; the parlor 
where Longfellow and his friends used to sit before 
the fire that forever warms the rhyme celebrating 
the Wayside Inn. They found it not an inn any 
more, though it appeared from the assent of the 
tenant that they might command an elusive hospi- 
tality for the night. The back-door opened upon 
the fading memories of a garden, and the damp of 
late rains struck from it into the sad old house. 

"It would be delightful," Phillips said, " to stay, 
but I think we must push on to Sudbury for the 
night." He lingered over an old chest of drawers 
in the dining-room ; not claw-footed, certainly, but 
with a bulging front, and with some fragmentary 
relics of its former brasses. But, " It has carried 
antiquity to the point where it ceases to be a vir- 
tue," he sighed at last. " It might be re-created ; 
it could n't be restored." 

At Sudbury Village they found that there was 
no inn ; though provision was occasionally made 
for wayfarers at the outlying farm-houses. They 
could be lodged in that way, or they could return 
for the night to the tavern at Wayland where they 
had dined. It was now twilight. " I think it will 


give an agreeable flavor of hardship to our adventure 
if we push on to Concord," said Phillips, and Ford 
willingly consented. They were no better assorted 
than ever in their strange companionship ; but they 
had a good deal of talk. Phillips was volubly phil- 
osophical; and Ford, under the stimulus of the 
novelty, was more than commonly responsive, and 
pointed his comment, as was very unusual in him, 
with bits of his own history and observation. But 
the next day, after looking over Concord together, 
and making their start upon an early dinner, they 
had almost as little to say to each other as the 
tramps they met on the road, who had the air of 
not wishing to be disturbed in their meditations 
upon burglary and arson. They gave up their 
plan of stopping over night with the Harshire 
Shakers, and pushed on as far as Vardley instead, 
where they trus1?ed to finding shelter in the com- 
munity. They could spend the next morning there, 
Phillips said, and dine at Egerton ; and Ford as- 
sented to anything. 


BoYNTOK had passed the night wandering up 
and down the roads, and trying to puzzle out the 
causes of his discomfiture. Towards morning he 
had gone as far as the Ehn Tavern and walked to 
and fro before it a long time, debating whether he 
should go in and confront the landlord with his 
lie. The house was brilliantly lighted upon one 
side, where there seemed to be a hall running its 
whole length, and a sound of clattering feet and 
laughing voices, mingled with the half-suppressed 
squeak of a fiddle, came out of the open windows. 
It was the landlord who was fiddling ; Boynton 
recognized his tones in the harsh voice that called 
out the figures of the dance. From time to time a 
panting couple came to the door for breath. Sev- 
eral women came together, presently, and catching 
sight of Boynton, as he lurked in the shadow of the 
elms, one of them called out, " Lord, girls, there 's 
a ghost ! " and they all fled in-doors again with 
hysterical cries and laughter. The word thrilled 
him with hope : what he had declared in regard to 
the phenomena there must be matter of general 
belief in the neighbarhood. He stole away, borne 
forward as if on air by the tumult of cogitation that 


inflated his brain. He found himself, he knew not 
how, again on the long street of the Shaker village. 
The day was breaking, when he sat down near the 
granite bowl, still struggling hopefully for a clue 
to the mystery of his failure. His waking dreams 
began to mix with those of sleep, and an hour later 
Ford and Phillips, roused by a common foreboding 
of early breakfast, and strolling down the road a 
little for a glimpse of the village and a breath of 
the fresh morning air, halted at sight of this strange 
figure, clothed in Shaker habiliments, and with the 
broad-briramed Shaker hat on the grass at its feet ; 
the eyes were closed, and the head rested against 
the trunk of one of the willows. A chilly horror 
crept over Ford, who whispered, " Is he dead ? " 
but Phillips had no emotion save utter astonish- 

" Great heavens ! " he cried. " It 's Dr. Boyn- 
ton ! " 

At the sound of his name, Boynton opened his 
eyes with a start, and sprang to his feet. He rec- 
ognized them instantly, but he took no heed of 
Phillips as he launched himself upon Ford. 

" You here ! You here ! You here ! " he 
screamed. " Now I understand ! Now I see ! 
Where were you last night ? Were you in this 
place, this neighborhood, this region ? I see it ! 
I know why we failed, — why we were put to 
shame, destroyed, annihilated, in the very hour of 
our triumph ! I might have thought of it ! I 
might have known you were here ! Did you hunt 


US up ? Did you follow us ? You have ruined 
me ! You have blasted my life ! " 

With whatever wild impulse, he caught at Ford's 
throat, and clung to his collar, while the young 
man's iron clutch tightened upon either of his 

" Let go, you maniac ! If you don't let go, 
I '11 " — 

Boynton flung up his hands, and reeling several 
steps backward, fell. He struck heavily against 
the sharp rim of the stone bowl, and seemed about 
to fall into the water, but dropped at the base, mo- 

" My God, you 've killed him ! " shouted Phillips, 
as he stepped out from behind one of the trees. 

" Go and get help ! " Ford fell on his knees be- 
side Boynton, and searched his breast with a trem- 
bling hand for the beating of his heart ; he put his 
ear to his mouth, and heard him breathe before he 
dipped his hand in the bowl, and dashed Boynton's 
face with the water. He was kneeling beside him, 
and lifting his head upon his arm, when he looked 
up and saw the anxious visages of those whom Phil- 
lips's clamors had summoned about them. Then 
Egeria had made her way through the circle. She 
pushed Ford away with an awful look and stooping 
over her father caught up his head in her arms, 
and now swiftly scanned his face, and now swiftly 
pressed it against her breast, in those shuddering 
impulses with which a mother will see and will not 
see if her child be hurt. 


The Shakers pushed a wagon down to the place 
where Boynton lay, and Ford afterward remem- 
bered helping to lift him into it. 

" I 'm glad you did n't strike him ; I thought at 
first you had," said Phillips, as they followed the 
wagon back to the village. 

" So did I," said Ford, mentally struggling to 
realize what had happened. 

" What are they going to do, I wonder ? " re- 
sumed Phillips, looking about him. " They ought 
to send for a doctor." 

" Yee," said a Shaker at his elbow, whom neither 
of them had noticed, " we have sent." 

The doctor came quickly ; and Boynton, whom 
they had got into the infirmary upon the bed where 
Egeria had lain sick, began to show signs of con- 
sciousness. From time to time, scraps of hopeful 
report were passed through the group outside to 
Ford and Phillips on its skirts. When the doctor 
reappeared at last from within the infirmary, the 
brothers and sisters by twos and threes waylaid 
him in the yard and the street with anxious de- 
mand. The young men walking apart ambushed 
him farther down the road. 

" It 's a faint — I can't tell what it 's complicated 
with. He received some contusions in his fall — 
about the head. He 's an elderly man. He 's 

"Do you mean that he's in danger?" Ford asked. 

" Well, these apoplectic seizures are serious things 
for any one after thirty. Still it 's a slight attack 


— comparatively. The contusions — I 'm obliged 
to leave him for another patient just now. I shall 
be back again directly. Which of you is Mr. 
Ford ? " 

"My name is Ford." 

" He wanted to know where you were. You a 
friend of his ? " 

" No. I met him in Boston this spring." 

" Know his friends ? " 

"I don't." 

" Get up ! " said the doctor to his horse. 

" If we knew any of his people," said Phillips, 
" I suppose we ought to telegraph." 

"Yes," assented Ford. 

" But, as we don't know them," continued Phil- 
lips, " what are we going to do ? " 

"I can't say." When they reached the office on 
their walk back. Ford went in, and left Phillips to 
get their horse put to. In a little while he came 
out again, and said abruptly, " I 'm going to stay 
here. I can't say that I am responsible for the mis- 
fortunes of this man, but somehow I am entangled 
with him, and I can't break away without playing 
the brute. I 've been talking with these people 
about Boynton. He 's been trying some of his 
experiments here, and has failed. The thing hap- 
pened last night, and I suppose that when he saw 
me, this morning, his mind recurred to his old delu- 
sion that I had something to do with his failure." 

"I imagined as much," said Phillips, "from a re- 
mark that he made." 


Ford frowned at the levity, and then continued. 
"That's all. I've explained to their head men, 
here, as well as I could, what relation he fancied I 
had to him, and they understood it better than I 
could have expected ; they 've seen enough of him 
to understand that his superstition about me would 
account for the assault. I 'm not bound to respect 
his mania, but I don't see how I can leave till I 
know how it goes with him." Phillips shrugged 
his shoulders, but said nothing. " The Shakers tell 
me that I can be lodged at a house of theirs down 
the road here. I must stay, and be of what use I 
can, though I don't knoiv what. I '11 come away 
when I can do so decently." 

" Oh, if you 're going in for decency," said Phil- 
lips, "I 've nothing to say. But that sort of thing 
can be carried too far, you know. Do you really 
mean it?" 

" Yes." 

" Then there 's nothing for me to say. But what 
do you expect me to do?" he asked, glancing at the 
iiorse, which was now brought up. 

" I expect you to go on. There 's no reason why 
you should stay." 

" No, I can't see how I 'm involved. And it 's a 
brisk drive to Egerton, — and breakfast. There's 
no prospect of breakfast here, I suppose," he said, 
looking wistfully at the office windows. " Well ; if 
you 've made up your mind, I shall be off at once. 
I 'm sorry for our excursion." 

" Yes, it 's a pity for that," said Ford. 


" It promised everj'thing. Perhaps you could 
join me at Egerton, to-morrow ? " 

"Yes; if I can." 

" I '11 give you a day's grace. Then I shall push 
on to Brattleboro', and perhaps drop down this way 
with the falling leaf. I wish you 'd write to me 
at Brattleboro', and let me know how the doctor 
gets on." 

They shook hands. Ford pulled his bag out of 
the back of his wagon ; and as Phillips drove off, 
he set out under the guidance of one of the broth- 
ers, to find his quarters in the house of which he 
had spoken. It had been the dwelling of a family 
of Shakers, which in the decay of their numbers 
was absorbed into the other branches of the com- 
munity, and it stood half a mile away from the 
office, quite empty, but kept in perfect neatness 
and repair. He was given his choice of its many 
dormitories, but he preferred to have his bed set up 
in the meeting-room, which opened by folding-doors 
into an ante-room as large, and thus extended the 
wliole length of the building. It was low ceiled, 
but cool currents of air swept through it from the 
windows at either end, and it was a still haven of 
refuge from the heat by night and by day. Hardly 
a fly sang in its expanse, dimmed by the shade of 
the elms before it ; and it was indescribably remote 
fi'om noise. The passing even of an ox-cart on the 
street before it was hushed by the thick bed of 
sand that silenced the road- way ; and the heavy 
voice of the driver in hawing and geeing came like 


some lulling sound of animal life. A tenant of the 
Shakers lived in a farm-house across the way, and 
his wife had agreed to give Ford his meals and be- 
stow what care his room needed ; but these people 
were childless, and except for the plaintive lament 
of their broods of young turkeys pursuing the grass- 
hoppers through the ranks of sweet-corn, their pres- 
ence involved hardly an interruption of the quiet. 

Ford hung up some clothes in a closet, and after 
a hurried breakfast went again to the office. He 
found Boynton's doctor there with Humphrey and 
the sisters, and presently Egeria came in from an- 
other room with a slip of paper in her hand ; her 
eyes were swollen with weeping, but she said in a 
low, steady voice, "• This is grandfather's address." 

" I don't want you to feel," said the doctor, 
"that the case is immediately alarming. There is 
no necessity for your grandfather's coming " — 

" Oh, no ! But I know that he would like to 
be told." She gave the slip of paper to Humphrey, 
and without looking at Ford went out at the door, 
and he saw her cross the street to the infirmary. 
There was some talk as to how this dispatch should 
be sent, and Ford said he was going over to the 
village, and would carry it to the operator at the 
station. Outside, the doctor beckoned to him from 
his buggy, and said, " He has asked again if you 
were here. If he wishes to see you, you had bet- 
ter let him. Humphrey has told me what you 
explained to him. You can humor a sick man's 
whim, I suppose." 


Ford really had another errand at Vardley ; he 
wanted some ink and paper ; for if he were to 
remain he must set to work as soon as possible. 
It was noon before he returned. With the lapse 
of time, that working mind, of which the opera- 
tions are so obscure and incalculable, had uncon- 
sciously arranged its material in him, and when 
he sat down in his strange lodging he was able to 
put it all on paper, in spite of the remote, dull ache 
of anxiety which accompanied his writing. 

His tea was ready by the time the work was 
done, but with the revival of his restlessness, upon 
the conclusion of his task and the release of the 
faculties devoted to it, he slighted the meal, and 
hastily started with his copy to the post-ofhce. 

He was met there by the telegraph operator, 
who asked him to carry back to the Shakers the 
reply to the telegram he had sent. He saw that 
he must be already identified with the Boyntons 
in the village gossip ; but he did not observe the 
kindly interest expressed in some words dropped 
by the operator, as he put the dispatch into his 
pocket, and walked away with it. 

There was a light in Humphrey's room at the 
office when he returned, and he carried the tele- 
gram in to him, and waited while the Shaker 
brought his lamp to bear upon the sheet. Hum- 
phrey remained reading it as if it were a long, 
closel5'--written letter. 

" You don't know what it says ? " he asked at 
last, looking up over his spectacles. 



"Why, no," said Ford. "I had no authority to 
open it." 

"1 thought may be the telegrapher might told 
ye. It appears as if Friend Boynton's father-in- 
law had been dead two months." 

The dispatch, which Humphrey handed to Ford, 
was signed by " Rev. Frederick Armstrong," who 
promised that he " would write." 

" I suppose," said Humphrey, " it 's the minis- 

" I suppose so," Ford admitted absently. He 
came to himself to ask, " What 's to be done? " 

Humphrey scratched his head. " I d' know as 
I 'm rightly prepared to say. You don't know 
nothin' about Friend Boynton's other folks, do 

" No," said Ford. 

Another silence followed. " Seems to come kind 
o' hard, right on top of the other Pi'ovidence," 
mused Humphrey, aloud. " Would it be your judg- 
ment to tell 'em ? " 

" Really, I don't know," said Ford, quite unable 
to shake off his sterile dismay. 

"You don't feel," suggested Humphrej'", "as if 
you 'd like to break the news to 'em ? " 

" I doubt," answered Ford, glad to be able to 
lay hold of any idea, " whether Dr. Boynton is in 
a condition to know even that we 've telegraphed, 
much less what the answer is." 

" Yee," assented Humphrey, " that is so. Then 
it comes to tellin' Egery. If you was an old friend 
of the family " — 


" I 'm not," said Ford. " I told you that I saw 
tliem for the first time in Boston, this spring. 
Why need you say anything at all ? " 

" Why," returned Humphrey, with a gleam of 
hope, " I s'pose, if she asks, we '11 have to." 

" She may not ask at once. Don't speak till she 

" That 's so," mused Humphrey. " It could be 
done that way. I d' know as anybody could say 
they was deceived, either." 

" Certainly not." 

Humjihrey put the telegram into a drawer and 
turned the key upon it. " She can have it when 
she asks for it," he said doggedly, like a man who 
has made up his mind to accept the consequences 
of his transgression. 

Ford drew a long breath ; a little time had been 
gained, at any rate. " Can I be of any use over 
there to-night?" he asked, nodding his head in 
the direction of the infirmary. " Have you watch- 

" Yee : Laban 's settin' up with him, to-night ; 
and Frances is there with Egery." 

" If he asks for me," said Ford, " I should like 
you to call me at any hour." 

He went out, and walked down the dark, silent 
road to his strange domicile. Hearing him ap- 
proach, the farmer came across the road, and 
opened the door for him, and gave him matches to 
light his lamp. He found his way to his vast 
chamber ; but after he had blown out his light, it 
was long before he slept. 


The next morning, while Ford sat, after break- 
fast, at his writing-table, trying to put his mind 
upon his work, one of the little Shaker boys came 
to say that Friend Boynton wished to see him. He 
obeyed the summons with a stricture at the heart. 
The boy could not say whether Boynton was better 
or worse, but Ford conceived that he was called in 
a final moment. He had never seen any one die, 
and all through his childhood and his earlier youth 
the thought of death had been agony to him, prob- 
ably because it was related to fears of the life after 
death, which survived in his blood after they ceased 
to be part of his belief. The confirmed health of 
his adolescence, as well as his accepted theories of 
existence, had now for years quieted these fears. 
The sleep and the forgetting which the future had 
been reasoned so clearly to be could not be terrible 
to any man of good health, and in the rare moments 
in which he lifted his mind from the claims of duty 
here it reposed tranquilly enough in the logical ref- 
uge of nullity provided for it. Annihilation was 
not dreadful, but the instant preceding it, the last 
breath of consciousness, in which his personality 
should be called to cease, to release its strong clutch 


upon reiility, might contain a spiritual anguish, to 
which an eternity of theologically fancied pangs 
were nothing. He did not shrink from the con- 
sequences of his own mental position ; there could 
be no consequences of belief or disbelief ; but he 
was cold with the thought of confronting the image 
of his own dissolution in another. Life was not a 
good, he knew that ; but he felt now that it was 
something, and beyond it there was not even evil. 
He touched first the swelling muscle of one arm, 
and then of the other ; he laid his hand upon the 
trunk of a large maple as he passed ; he swept the 
sky with a glance ; he smiled to find himself be- 
having like a man on his way to execution ; if he 
had himself been about to die, he could not have 
realized more intensely the preciousness of the ex- 
istence which was slipping into shadow from the 
grasp of yonder stricken man. 

If his face expressed anything of this dark sym- 
pathy when he entered the room where Boynton 
lay, the sick man did not see it. His doctor was 
there, seated at the bedside, and Boynton lifted one 
of the limp hands that lay upon the coverlet and 
gave it to Ford, saying, with his blandness diluted 
by physical debility, " You '11 excuse my sending 
for you, Mr. Ford, but I fancied that you would 
like to see that I was not in such bad case as I 
might be." 

" You are very good," said Ford, touching his 
hand, and then taking the chair which the country 
doctor set for him. The exchange of civilities re- 


lieved tlie tension of his feelings, and he found it 
no longer possible to regard Boynton with the so- 
lemnity with which he had approached him. 

" Dr. Wilson and I," Boynton continued, " are 
treating my case together. By that means we draw 
the sting of the old proverb about having a fool for 
one's patient, and we get the benefit of our com- 
bined experience. The doctor is inclined to take 
an optimistic view of my condition, which I don't 
find myself able to share. I have spent a summer 
— I may almost say a year — of intense excite- 
ments, and I am sure that an obscure affection of 
the heart with which I was once troubled has made 
progress." He spoke of it with a courteous light- 
ness and haste, as if not to annoy his listener, while 
Ford gazed at him dumbly. " I have been anxious 
to say that I regretted the expressions — the exas- 
peration — into which I was betrayed on first meet- 
ing you, the other morning." Dr. Wilson rose. 
" Ah ! Going, doctor ? " asked Boynton. " Don't 
let me send you away. Mr. Ford and I have no con- 
fidences to make each other. I am only offering 
him the reparation which is due between gentle- 
men where there has been a misunderstanding." 

" Thank you," said Dr. Wilson, " I must go, now. 
I will see you again to-morrow." 

" And in the mean time we will continue the 
same treatment? Good-morning, doctor. Dr. Wil- 
son," he added, when the latter had withdrawn, 
" is a man of uncommon qualifications for his pi'o- 
fession. I have been much pleased with the man- 


ner in which he has taken hold of my case, though 
Ave could not agree in all points of our diagnosis." 
Boynton's voice was feeble, and from time to time 
he paused from weakness ; but he was careful as 
ever to round his sentences and polish his diction. 
" As I was saying," he continued, " I used certain 
expressions for which I wish to apologize." 

" There is no occasion for that," Ford began. 

" Oh, I beg your pardon, but there is ! " retorted 
the other. " My language, even in view of your 
possible intention of antagonizing me, was ridicu- 
lous and unjustifiable ; for I ought to have been 
only too glad of the solution of a painful mystery 
which your presence afforded me. The fact is," he 
explained, " I met you yesterday after the entire 
failure of an experiment in psychology which I had 
been making here under conditions more favorable 
than I could expect to recur if I should live a thou- 
sand years. The experiment was by no means of 
an advanced character ; it was of the simplest char- 
acter, — the exhibition of a few of the most ordi- 
nary phenomena of animal magnetism, in which 
mere tyros succeed. The failure dumfounded me. 
At sight of you, my theory of your opposite control, 
of the necessary antagonism of your sphere, rushed 
into my mind, and I yielded to an impulse to resent 
my failure, when I ought, logically, to have hailed 
your presence as relief, as rescue from an annihilat- 
ing despair." 

" I am very sorry," Ford began again. 

" Not at all, not at all I " cried Boynton. "Was 


I right in supposing that you had spent the pre- 
■vious evening in this vicinity ? " 

" Mr. Phillips and I had slept at the office — you 
call it?" 

"Is it possible ! " Boynton lay quiet for a mo- 
ment, before he added, musingly, " Yes, that might 
account for it, if my premises were correct. But," 
he continued sadly, " it is impossible to verify them 
now. Some one else must take up my work at the 
very point — You here, and under conditions fa- 
vorable to the most complete and thorough investi- 
gation ! This question of antagonization could be 
settled in a manner absolutely final ; and here I lie, 
fettered and manacled ! " He heaved a passionate 
sigh, and Ford, in spite of the fact that he knew 
himself regarded for the moment as a mere instru- 
mentality, an impersonal force, felt a sharp regret 
for the overthrow of this absurd dreamer. 

"Is there — is there any way in which I can 
be of use to you. Dr. Boynton ? " he asked pres- 

Boynton did not reply at once. He moved his 
head uneasily on the pillow, and weakly knotted his 
fingers together. Then he said, " Yes, there is. 
I would rather you transacted the business than 
any of our good friends here, for I am afraid that 
it might get from them to my daughter. In fact, 
I should not know how to communicate Avith them 
without alarming her." 

He looked beseechingly at Ford, who said, 
" Well ? " 


" What are your religious beliefs ? " 
" I have none," said Ford. 

" At your age I had none," rejoined Boynton. 
" Afterward, in circumstances of great sorrow, I 
embraced the philosophy of spiritualism, because it 
promised immediate communion and reunion with 
the wife I had lost. Neither before nor since that 
time has my theory admitted the necessity of cer- 
tain — certain — formalities to which the Christian 
world attaches importance. But the influence of 
early teachings is very strong, and I cannot resist 
an inclination — It is entirely illogical, upon either 
hypothesis, I know ! If there is no life hereafter, 
then it is of no consequence whatever whether any 
reconciliation takes place. If there is a life here- 
after, and it is a mere continuation of this, a prog- 
ress, a development, under certain new conditions, 
then the reconciliation can take place there as well 
as here. This is what my reason tells me, and yet I 
am not at rest. My dear friend, if you were about 
to die," — the hand which Boynton unexpectedly 
laid upon Ford's sent a thrill to his heart, — " and 
you had parted with some one upon terms of mut- 
ual injury, what should you wish?" 

" I should wish to see him before I died," an- 
swered Ford, gravely. 

"And make peace with him, — ask and offer for- 
giveness. Precisely. There is no doubt an ele- 
ment of superstition in the impulse ; it seems child- 
ish and unreasonable ; and jet I cannot help it. 
What is it? First, be reconciled to thy brother, 


. . . agree with thine adversary quickly — I don't 
remember. My adversary is the father of my 
child's mother. We quarreled ver}'^ bitterly, about 
this — philosophy of mine. I think he used me 
harshly ; but he is an old man, and doubtless I 
grieved and thwarted him more than I understood. 
I don't justify myself. I would like to see him 
again, and ask him to forgive. I wish you would 
be so good, Mr. Ford, as to telegraph him — there 's 
an office at Vardley Station — that I am seriously 
sick, and would like to see him." Ford could not 
reply, and Boynton took his silence for reluctance. 
" I hope I have n't asked too much of you ? " 

" Oh, no ! No. What," he contrived to ask, " is 
your father-in-law's name ? " Boynton gave the 
name and that of the village in which he lived, and 
Ford mechanically took them down in his note- 
book. He remained with this in his hand, seated 
beside the bed, and not knowing what to do ; but 
he rose at last, and murmured something about not 
losing time, when Egeria entered. He would have 
passed her with a bow, but the cheery voice of 
Boynton turned him motionless. 

"Egeria," he said, as the girl went up to his bed- 
side, " I have been asking a favor of Mr. Ford, — 
something that I intended for a surprise and pleas- 
ure to you. But I think that the surprise might be 
too much, — might alarm you, — and I had better 
not let it be a surprise. Don't you think that if 
your grandfather knew that I was so disposed he 
would like to make up our little quarrel ? Mr. 


Ford is going to telegraph him to come here ! There 
is no occasion for anxiety " — 

Egeria tui-ned upon Ford, with swift self -betrayal. 
" They telegraphed yesterday. Have n't they 
heard ? " Ford glanced at her father in despair, 
and bent on her a look of compassion that he was 
conscious became an appeal for her pity. " Oh, 
what is it ? " she cried, quivering under his implor- 
ing scrutiny. " Won't he come ? Oh, he is harder 
than I ever believed ! Yes, yes ! You were right, 
father ; I will never forgive him ! " 

" I think I had better tell you the truth," Ford 
said. " Some one must do it. Your grandfather is 

A hght of relief, almost of joy, shone in her face. 
*' Oh ! I was afraid — I was afraid — Oh, poor 
grandfather ! How could I think it ! " She put up 
her hands to her face, like a child, and wept with 
sobs that shook the young man's heart. 

" When did he die ?" she asked at last. 

" Two months ago. The telegram was from the 
minister. He promised to write." 

" Do you hear? " cried Egeria. " He would have 
come, but — he is dead ! " 

" Oh ! " breathed her father, speaking for the 
first time, " I am very sorry ! " 

" And now, now do you forgive him ? " demanded 
the girl. " Now " — 

'' Oh, poor soul ! I wanted him to forgive wig," 
said Boynton. " Well, well ! I must wait." 

His daughter dropped on her knees beside his 


bed, and hid her face in the coverlet. " Poor grand- 
father ! Poor grandfather ! " she moaned. " How 
could you think he would n't come ? " she said, lift- 
ing her face. " Do you think now that he was 

" We quarreled," answered her father. " I was 
to blame." 

" No, you were not to blame," she retorted, with 
swift revulsion. " You believed you did right, and 
you never pretended that you did n't. Oh, if you 
could only have seen each other again ! " 

" Yes," answered the sick man ; " the wish to see 
him has been heavy on my soul ever since I came 
to myself." 

The word recalled her, and she looked fondly into 
her father's face. " Oh, father, have I made you 
feel badly ? I am so sorry for grandfather " — 

" No, my poor girl ! I can sj^mpathize with 
your feeling about him ; I can understand it." 
He smoothed her hair with his gentle, weak, small 
hand. " I can understand, and I can approve of 
your feeling. But don't be troubled. Your grand- 
father and I will be friends when we meet. It will 
make little difference there what theories or creeds 
we hold. They cannot separate us." 

" Why, father ! " exclaimed the girl. " What 
do you mean ? You are not goins: to die ! The 
doctor said " — 

Boynton smiled in recovering himself. " We are 
all mortal. Dr. Wilson is very hopeful about me. 
I am not going to die at once." 


He took one of her hands while she bent over 
him, " I had mentioned to our good friend here," 
he said, indicating Ford, " in requesting him to no- 
tify your grandfather, my special reasons for wish- 
ing to see him, and some little statement — expla- 
nation — was necessary in regard to the terms of 
our separation. I was saying that I wished they 
had been different. But in the light of this new 
fact, does my part really appear worse to you than 
it did befoi-e ? You can speak freely ; I can bear 
— I ought even to court — the truth." 

The girl threw her arms about his neck. " Fa- 
ther ! You never had one selfish thought in it. I 
know that, and I always knew it. I did n't mean 
to blame you ; I only wanted you to excuse him. 
Oh, nobody needs excusing but me ! I stood up 
before them all, and denied you. I am the one to 
blame ! " 

" No, no," protested her father, " you were true 
to yourself. In the long run we could have suc- 
ceeded upon no other conditions. You did right." 

" Oh, I did long so to please you ! You can't 
think how hard I tried! But something kept 
me " — She rose and looked at Ford, the obstruc- 
tion of whose involuntary presence no effort of his 
had sufficed to remove, and panted, as if about to 
make some appeal to him. But her lips could not 
shape it ; a piteous, formless, low cry broke from 
them, and she ran from the room, leaving him in a 
frowning daze. 

" I hope, my dear sir," said Boynton, " that you 


will be able to make allowance for the excitement 
under which we have been laboring. My daugh- 
ter's distress on my account, and her affection for 
her grandfather — But we don't intend to make 
you the victim of our unhappiness." 

" Oh, not at all," said Ford, not knowing what 
else to say. 

" You were very considerate, with regard to me," 
said Boynton gratefully. " I thank you for your 
good feeling relative to the telegram. But it is well 
that I should know the worst at once. In asking 
your patience for what has just occurred, I am sure 
that I am only anticipating my daughter's wish. 
I am by no means as confident as I have been," he 
added, " that I was correct in my theory of your 
influence. But you have somehow been strangely 
involved in our destiny. It is something that I 
hardly know how to apologize for." 

" There is no necessity," said Ford. 

" Thanks." The doctor lifted his hand in grati- 
tude, and Ford took it. " Are you comfortable in 
your quarters ? It was a place that I had sometimes 
thought, under happier auspices, of devoting to my 
investigations ; but now — My dear sir, I appre- 
ciate your kindness, your delicacy, in staying ! " 

Ford made a murmur of civility, and Sister 
Frances came in. Then, with a parting pressure of 
the hand which Boynton had kept in his, he went 
out. He half dreaded to encounter Egeria again, 
at the outer threshold ; but she was not there. 


They came to those last fervid days to which 
August often reverts after the shiver that passes 
over her at the beginning of her second fortnight. 
The noons were cloudless, and the nights were lit 
with a moon that hung lightly, like an airy ball, in 
the sky, whose unfathomable blue the vision must 
search for the faint stars. The unbroken splendor 
of these days and nights would be intolerably si- 
lent but for the hissing of the grasshoppers in the 
sun, and the hollow din in which the notes of the 
crickets sum themselves under the moon. While 
Ford was busy in the morning he could resist cer- 
tain influences at work upon him, but at other times 
he was the prey of a wild restlessness, which he 
could not charge to his shaken health, for he had 
begun to grow strong again. He said to himself, 
as he lay under the sun-smitten pines, or when he 
walked beneath the maples that broke the glare of 
the moon on the village street, that he was waiting 
here for a man to die, and he tried to quell his rest- 
lessness with that cold fact. But he was not able 
to keep Boynton's danger in his thoughts. There 
was, indeed, a suspense in Boynton's condition for 
which neither he nor his fellow physician could ac- 


count. His mind even grew more vivid under such 
peril as tlireatened bis body, and in bis immunity 
from pain be was more cheerfully speculative than 
ever. As the days passed, a curious sort of affec- 
tionate confidence grew up between Ford and the 
fantastic theorist, and the young man listened to 
bis talk with a kindliness which he did not trouble 
himself to reason. He submitted patiently to the 
analysis which Boynton made of him and of his 
metaphysical condition, and heard without a smile 
certain analogies which be discovered. " Yes," 
Boynton said, one day, " I find a great similarity 
of mind and temperament in us. At your age, I 
thought and felt as you do. There is a fascination, 
which I can still recognize, in the clean surface 
which complete negation gives. The refusal of sci- 
ence to believe what it cannot subject to its chemic 
tests has its sublime side. It is at least absolute 
devotion to the truth, and it involves martyrdom, 
like tbe devotion to any other religion. For it is a 
religion, and you cannot get away from rebgion. 
Whether you say, I believe, or whether you say, I 
do not believe, still you formulate a creed. The 
question whether we came from the Clam or the 
Ancient of Days, whether we shall live forever, or 
rot forever, remains ; you cannot put it aside by 
saying there is no such question. From this van- 
tage-ground of mine — a sick-bed is a vantage- 
ground — I can see that when I stood where you are 
I occupied a position not essentially different from 
that which I assumed afterwards. Light shone on 


me from one side, and I cast a shadow in this di- 
rection ; liglit shone on me from the other side, and 
I cast a shadow in that dii-ection. My mistake was 
to fancy at both times that the shadow was I." 

Ford evaded tlie issue as to the identity of their 
opinions. He admitted that faith in a second Hfe 
might nerve a man to greater enterprises here ; and 
that one might not so often flag in the pursuit of 
truth if the horizon did not shut down so close all 
round. But he said that we had the comfort of 
knowing that the work of each was delegated to the 
whole race, and that whoever failed his work could 
not fail. 

" Ah, don't delude yourself ! " cried Boynton. 
" There is 7io comfort in that. What is the race to 
you or me ? You are the race ; I am the race ; and 
no one else of all the myriad atoms of humanity 
could take up our work and keep it the same work." 

" You said, just now," said Ford, with a smile, 
" that you and I were the same." 

" I was wrong," promptly admitted Boynton. 
" We are not the same, and could not be, to all 
eternity. But if you accept the hypothesis of a 
second life, in which the objects of this shall re- 
main dear to us, you establish an infrangible, a 
perpetual, continuity of endeavor. The man with 
whom a great idea has its inception becomes a dis- 
embodied spirit. By influx from the spirit world to 
which he goes, he becomes the partner of the man 
to whom his work falls here ; and that man dying 
enlarges the partnership in his turn, and so on ad 



infinitum. It must be in this way that civilization 
is advanced, that the "world-reforms are aocoin- 

Boynton's eyes shone, and Ford listened witli 
kindly neuti'ality. On some sides he was com- 
pelled to respect Bojaiton's extraordinary alertness, 
lu many things he was grotesquely ignorant ; he 
was a man of very small literature, and he had the 
limitations of a country-bred person in his concep- 
tions of the world ; but his mind, in the specula- 
tions on which it habitually dwelt, had a vast and 
bold sweep, and his theories sprang up fully formed, 
under his breath, like those plants which the Japa- 
nese conjurer fans to flower in the moment after he 
has put the seed in the ground. 

He tossed his head upon the pillow impatiently. 
" When I think of those things," he said, " I can 
hardly wait for the slow process of decay to unfold 
the truth to me. Perhaps I approached the unseen 
world with too arrogant a confidence," he con- 
tinued. "At any rate, I have been found un- 
worthy, and my progress on earth has been ar- 
rested forever." 

Ford could not withhold the expression of the 
senseless self-accusal in his heart. " I should be 
very sorry," he said, "if I had been the means of 
crossing your purposes." 

" You never were willfully so," said Boynton. 
" Besides, as I told you, I have begun to have ray 
misgivings as to my theory of you. I susj)ect that 
I may have exaggerated my daughter's powers ; 


that they were of a limited nature, terminable by 
the lapse of time. What do you think," he asked, 
after a silence, as if willing to break away from 
these thoughts, "of our Shaker friends? Does 
their life strike you as the solution of the great 

" No," said Ford ; " it strikes me as begging the 

" Yes, so it is," assented Boynton ; " so it is, in 
some views. It is a life for women rather than 

An indefinable pang seized Ford, "I don't quite 
understand you. Do you think it is a happy life for 
a woman? " 

" There is no happy life for a woman — except 
as she is happy in suffering for those she loves, and 
in sacrificing herself to their pleasure, their pride 
and ambition. The advantage that the world offers 
her — and it does not always offer that — is her 
choice in self-sacrifice ; the Shakers prescribe it for 

Ford said nothing for a time, while the pain still 
rankled. Then he asked, " Don't you think the 
possible power of choosing is a great advantage ? 
I don't know that as a man I expect to be 
^^PPy ; but I like to make my ventures in unhap- 
pinoss. It saves me from the folly of accusing fate. 
If I surrendered myself to Shakerism, I should feel 
myself a prisoner; I should not run the risk of 
wounds, but I should have no chance of escape." 

" A woman does n't like to fight," replied Boyn- 


ton. " Besides, there are no irrevocable vows in 
Shakerism. When you do not like it you leave it. 
It is no bad fate for a woman. For most women it 
would be a beneficent fate." 

An image of Egeria in the Shaker garb, with her 
soft young throat hidden to the chin, and the tight 
gauze cap imprisoning her beautiful hair, rose in 
the young man's thought, and would not pass at his 
willing. It was with something like the relief of 
waking from an odious dream that he saw the girl 
enter the room in her usual dress. He involuntarily 

She had a spray of sumac in her hand, and she 
put it lightly beside her father on the bed. The 
leaves were already deeply tinged with crimson. 
" Ah, yes," he said, taking it up and holding it be- 
fore him, " I am glad you found it. I thought I saw 
it the last time I walked that way ; but it was only 
partly red, then. I had intended to get it for you. 
After my daughter was sick here, this spring," he 
added, turning his eyes upon Ford, " she showed a 
singular predilection during her convalescence for 
wild flowers. They would n't come fast enough for 
her ; all the family were set to looking for them. 
Do you remember, Egeria, the day when we got 
you out under the apple-blossoms ? What is the 
apple-tree like, now ? Some yellow leaves on it, 
here and there ? " 

" Yes, but the red apples burn like live coals 
among them," said Egeria. 

" Fruition, fruition," murmured her father dream- 


ily. " Not so sweet as hope. But autumn was 
always my favorite season, — my favorite season. 
I suppose the long grass is limp and the clover- 
heads are black in the alleys of the orchard. All 
those aspects of nature — The sumac is first to feel 
the fall. Have you seen any other red leaves, Ege- 

" I saw a young maple in the swamp that was 
almost as red in places as this," said Egeria. " But 
they were too high to reach." 

" Ah," returned her father, " they will soon be 
red enough everywhere." 

"Could n't Miss Boynton tell me where her 
maple is ? " Ford interposed. " I could get you 
the leaves." 

"Oh, no, — no," began the doctor. 

" I do a certain amount of walking every day. 
If Miss Boynton will tell me where 'the maple is, 
and begin with the swamp " — 

" The swamp," said Egeria, " is just back of the 
south pasture ; but I should have to look for the 
tree myself." 

" Take me with you then," said the young man, 
with what he thought a great boldness. 

"I could do that," returned Egeria, simply. " If 
Frances were here, I could go with you now. It is 
n't far." 

" I don't need any one, now, my dear," said her 
father. " You can put the bell here by my pillow, 
and I can ring." 

" Well," said Egeria to Ford. " We will stop 


at the office, and tell them, father," she added. 
Frances promised to listen for the bell, and stood 
at the office door watching them as they walked 
away together. 

" I think you can easily bend the tree," Egeria 
said. "It's very slim, and I thought at first I 
could bend it myself. I should hate to have you 
break it." 

" I will try not to break it," answered Ford. 

They crossed the meadow in desultory talk, but 
before they reached the edge of the swamp she 
abruptly halted him, and said with a sort of fearful 
resolution, " Did you know that my father was 
here when j^ou came ? " She searched his face with 
a piercing intensity of gaze, her lips apart with 
eagerness and her breathing fluttered. 

" No," said Ford, " my coming here was purely 
accidental." ' Her eyes studied his a moment 
longer : then she dropped them, and hurried on 
again as abruptly as she had stopped. " But I 
always hoped I might see you again," he continued, 
" and tell you — I went to tell your father in Bos- 
ton — that I never dreamt it was you I hurt there, 
that night. I wanted to tell him that nothing in 
the world — But we quarreled " — ^ 

" I know, I know," interrupted the girl. "There 
is the tree," she said, hastily, pointing out a young 
maple with reddened boughs, that stood some yards 
beyond the wall. " Do you think you can get to 
it ? Do you think you can bend it down ? " 

Every nerve in him thrilled with the wrench of 


leaving half said what had been so long in his 
heart ; but he must obey her will. " I think so," 
he replied, and he got over the wall. He stepped 
from one quaking bed of mossy decay to another, 
till he reached the tree. He caught it about the 
slender stem well up towards the limbs, and, bend- 
ing it over, began to break them away and fling 
them on the ground. 

" Oh, no ! " cried Egeria from where she stood. 

" Don't what ? " asked Ford, turning half round, 
without releasing the tree. 

" You seemed to tear it so. You have enough. 
That branch at the top " — 

" Shall I break it oft" ? " 

" No — no. Let it stay." 

" Would you hke it ? " 


Ford took out his knife, and slitted the branch 
from the tree with a downward stroke, and drove 
the blade into the thick of the hand with which he 
held the tree. He gathered up the branches, and 
putting them into the wounded hand gripped it 
with the other, and returned to Egeria. 

She started at sight of the blood. " I made you 
cut yourself." 

" I don't see how that is," answered Ford. " But 
I cut myself." He stood holding his hand, while 
the blood dropped to the ground. 

" I will tie it up for you," said Egeria, quelling 
a shudder. " You ought to have something wet 
next to it. That will keep it from inflaming." 


"Yes?" said Ford. 

She made search for her handkerchief, and drew 
forth the stout square of linen which the kindness 
of the community had provided for her. She shook 
out its tough expanse. " That is a Shaker handker- 
chief," she said. 

" It looks rather grandiose for the purpose," 
Ford remarked. " If you will take mine " — He 
touched as nearly as he could the breast pocket of 
his coat with his elbow. She soberly obeyed his 
gesture, and pulled it out. " Can 3'oa tear it? " 

" I need n't tear it," she answered, folding it 
into a narrow strip. " I can wet this end in the 
water, here, and wrap the rest round it." 

She stooped to a little pool near the wall, and 
dipped the handkerchief into it ; then she laid the 
wet corner over the cut, which he had washed in 
the same pool, and folded the dry part firmly 
around it. Her finger-tips, soft and warm, left the 
sensation of their touch upon his hand. 

They walked rapidly away. " Better hold it 
up," she said, seeing that he let his arm hang at 
his side. 

" Oh," he answered stupidly, and obeyed for a 
moment, and then dropped his hand again. 

" You 're forgetting," she said. 

" Yes, I was," replied Ford, recollecting himself. 
" I was thinking that it must have seemed as if 
some savage beast had torn you." 

He looked at the hand on which she wore her 
ring, and she hid the hand in the folds of her dress, 


and turned her head away. Then she glanced at 
him, as if about to answer, but she only said, 
" When you get home, you must wet the cloth 

"Thanks," said Ford; "it will have to look 
after itself when it stops stinging." 

She looked troubled. " Does it hurt you very 

" I suppose it 's going through the usual formal- 

" You had better show it to father — Oh ! " she 
cried, blushing, " I have forgotten the leaves for 
him." She almost ran in retracing her steps. 

Ford pursued her. " Miss Boynton, let me go 
and get them." 

" No, no, I can get them. You must n't come. 
I don't wish you to come." She looked over her 
shoulder, and saw him standing irresolute. " Don't 
wait for me ; I can take them home." 

He lingered a moment, looking after her, and 
then turned and walked away. He did not go 
back to the infirmary, but kept on towards his 
own house, and arrived with a vague smile on his 
lips, which had shaped them ever since he left her. 
He scarcely realized then that she had been quick 
to avail herself of a chance to be alone with him, 
and that when once with him she had been willing 
to delay their parting. A jarring sensation of al- 
ternate abandon and reserve was what finally re- 
mained of the interview in his nerves. 


In the morning, when he walked up into the 
village, he found her coming out of the office gate. 
She faltered at sight of him, and glanced anxiously 
toward him. He had meant to stop at the office, 
but now he had a senseless impulse to keep on his 
way. He hesitated, and then crossed to where she 
stood. She had a small basket in her hand, and 
she said that Elder Joseph had given her leave to 
look over his vines, and see if there were any 
grapes ripe enough yet for her father to eat. There 
was an indefinable intention in her manner to de- 
tain him, which he felt as inarticulately, and there 
was something more intangible still, — something 
between fearful question and utter trust of him ; 
something that chiefly intimated itself in the ap- 
peal with which her ej^es rested on his when she 
first looked up. He dropped his own eyes before 
the gaze which he knew to be unconscious on her 
part, and she said suddenly, as if recollecting her- 
self, " Oh ! Will you show your hand to father ? 
How is it ? " 

" That 's all right," answered Ford, putting it 
into his pocket. She began to walk towards the 
garden, and he walked with her. " It is n't my 
work hand." 


" Work ? " she asked. 

" I keep up my scribbling. I write for the pa- 
pers," he explained further, at a glance of inquiry 
from her. 

" Some of the brothers and sisters write, too," 
she said. " The Shakers have a paper." 

" Yes, I have seen it," said Ford. " They write 
for pleasure and from duty. I am sorry to say 
that my work is mostly for the pay it brhigs. I 'm 
hoping to do something in another way by and by. 
In the mean time I write and sell my work. It 's 
what they call pot-boiling." 

" I did n't know they paid for writing ! " 

" They do, — a little. You can starve very de- 
cently on it." 

" Father used to write for the paper at home, 
but they never paid him anything. He is slow 
getting well," she added, with a sad inconsequence, 
" and I suppose he will never be quite so strong 
again. But it must be a good sign when he has 
these cravings. It seems as if he could n't wait till 
the grapes are ripe ; the doctor says he can have all 
the fruit he wants. Have you ever been in this 
garden before ? " she asked, as they entered the 
bounds of Brother Joseph's peculiar province. 

" No," replied Foixl, looking round him with a 
pleasure for which he could not account. " But I 
feel as if I might have been here always." 

" Yes. I suppose it looks like everybody's gar- 
den. It 's like our garden at home." He glanced 
about it with her, as they stood in the planked path 


together. At one side of the beds of pot-herbs, and 
apart from the ranks of sweet-corn, the melons, the 
beans, the faded peas, and the long rows of beets 
and carrots, was a space allotted to flowers, the 
simple annuals that have long been driven from our 
prim parterres. " Our garden ran back of the 
house down to the river ; but it was all neglected 
and run wild. There was a summer-house on the 
edge of the terrace, and the floor was rotten; the 
trellises for the grapes were slanting every which 

She seemed to be recalling these aspects in a 
fond reverie, rather than addressing him ; but they 
gave him a vivid sense of her past. He saw her in 
this old garden by the river-side, before any blight 
had fallen upon her life. He imagined her a very 
happy young girl, there ; not romantic, but simple 
and good, and even gay. " I know that sort of a 
garden," he said. 

" Yes," she continued, looking dreamily at 
Brother Joseph's flower-beds, " here is prince's 
feather, and coxcomb, that I hated to touch when 
I was little, because it seemed like flesh and blood. 
And here is bachelor's button, and mourning bride, 
and marigolds, and touch-me-not." 

"I had forgotten them," said Ford. "I suppose 
I used to see them when I was a boy. But it 's a 
long time since I was in the country." 

" You must be glad to get back." 

" No," i-eplied Ford. " I can't honestly say that 
I am. I wanted to get away from it too badly for 


that. The country is for the pleasure of people 
born in town." 

" I don't know what you mean." 

" Nothing very definite. When I began to grow 
up, I found the country in my way. I dare say I 
should have been uncomfortable anywhere. I was 
very uncomfortable in the country." 

"I have never been much in the city," she said. 
" But I did n't like it." 

He remembered that he had helped to make the 
city hateful to her, though she seemed to have for- 
gotten it, and he said, in evasion of this recollec- 
tion, " It 's different with a man. I had my way 
to make, and the city was my chance." 

" And did n't you ever feel homesick ? " she 

" I used to dream about the place after I came 
away. I used to dream that T had gone back there 
to live. That was my nightmare. It always woke 
me up." 

" And did j^ou never go back ? " 

" No. I have never looked on those hills since 
I left them, and I never will if I can help it. I 
suppose it 's a matter of association," he continued. 
" My associations of not getting on are with the 
country ; my associations of getting on in some 
sort are with the city. That is enough to account 
for my hating the one and liking the other." 

" Yes," said Egeria, " that is true." She added 
after a moment, " Have they ever told you what 
Joseph's associations with this region are? " 


" No, I should like to know." 

" He saw it in a dream, years before he came 
here. When he first visited the Vardley Shakers 
he recognized it, and took it for a sign that he was 
to stay." 

" That was remarkable," said Ford. Egeria Avas 
silent. " Do you believe in such things, Miss 
Boynton ? " he asked. 

She turned away as if she had not heard him, 
and began to search the vines for ripe grapes. She 
went down one side of the long trellis, and he fol- 
lowed down the other. Between the leaves and 
twisting stems he caught glimpses of her yellow 
hair and her blue eyes. 

" Do you find any ? " she asked. 

" Any what ? " 

" Grapes." 

" I had n't looked." 

She sighed. " It 's about as well. There don't 
seem to be any." After a wliile she stopped, and 
he saw her glance at him through the leaves. " I 
don't know whether I believe in those things or 
not. Do you ? " 


" The Shakers do. They all think they have 
had some sign. But I should n't like to know 
things beforehand. It would n't help you to bear 
the bad. Besides, it does n't seem to leave you 
free, somehow. I think the great thing is to be 

" It 's the first thing." 


" Yes ; that is what I always felt. It was 
slaveiy, even if it was true." He knew what she 
meant ; but he said nothing, though she waited for 
]nm to speak. " It was what I tried to say some- 
times ; but I couldn't express it. And I couldn't 
llave made him understand." With that screen of 
vines between them, and each other's faces imper- 
fectly seen through the leaves and tendrils, it was 
easier to be frank. " It cut us off from evei'ybody 
in the world. It was what made the quarrel with 

She waited again, and now Ford said, " Yes, 
your father said it was that." 

"It made everybody suspect us. I didn't care 
so much for myself after I got away from home, 
where they did n't know us ; but I cared for father. 
He suffered so from the things he had to bear. 
You can't think what they were." 

" I 'm ashamed to think what some of them 
were," said Ford. 

She paused a moment. " You mean what you 
said to him in Boston ? " 


" Yes, that hurt him," she said, simply. " He 
had been very proud of the interest you took the 
first time you came. He said you were the only 
man of science that had taken any notice of him. 
Afterwards — he could n't make it out." 

" I don't wonder ! " cried Ford. " It was in- 
credible. But I never came to threaten him." 

"He was more puzzled when you wouldn't meet 
him in that public stance. Why would n't you ? " 


" Why ? " demanded Ford, in dismay. 

" Yes, why ? " 

" I don't know that I can say." 

" But you had some reason. Was it because you 
thouglit you would fail ? " 

Ford did not answer directly. " Can you believe 
that I Avanted to consider him in the matter?" he 
asked, in turn. 

" Yes, that is what I did believe." She drew a 
long breath, and hid herself wholly behind a thick 
mass of the vine. " Did you — did you get a letter 
from me ? " 

" Yes," said Ford. 

" I thought that I ought to write it ; I did n't 
know whether to do it. But I could n"t help it. 
I was glad you refused." 

" I was glad you wrote the letter. It was n't al- 
ways a comfort to me, though. I had no right to 
any thanks from you. I felt as if I had extorted 

"Extorted it!" she repeated, with the same 
eager persistence wnth wdiich she had pressed him 
for his reason in refusing to meet her father. " Do 
you mean — do you mean that you tried to make 
me write the letter ? " 

" How could I try to make you write me a let- 
ter? " demanded the young man, stupefied. 

"I don't know. I was not sure that I under- 
stood. I can't tell you — now. Did you destroy 

" Destroy what ? " 


" The letter." 

" No : I kept it." 

" Oil — will you give it back to me ? " 

" Certainly." Ford unfolded a pocket-book, and 
took out a worn-looking scrap of paper, which he 
passed through an open space in the trellis. Her 
hand appeared at the aperture and received it. A 
hesitation made itself felt through the vines. "Will 
you give it back to me, Miss Boynton ? " 

" There 's nothing to be ashamed of in it," she 
said, and her hand reappeared at the open space 
with the letter. 

" Thanks," said Ford. 

" They will think I am a long time looking for a 
few grapes," said Egeria. 

" They 've no idea how few there ai-e, and how 
long it takes to find them," answered Ford. 

She laughed. " Are they scarce on your side, 
too ? " 

" There are no ripe bunches at all. Shall I jDick 
single ones ? " 

" Oh, yes ; any that you can get. It 's rather 
early for them yet." 

" Is it ? I thought it was about the right time." 

" That shows you haven't lived in the country 
for a good while. You 've forgotten." 

" Yes," assented Ford. " I have n't seen grapes 
on the vines for ten years." 

" Have n't you been out of the city in that 
time ? " 

" Not if I could help it." 



" And why can't you help it now ? " 

" They told me I was n't well, and I 'd better go 
to the mountains." He sketched in a few words 
his course in coming to Vardley. 

"I thought you looked pale, when you first 
came," she said. After a little while she added, 
" You can bear it if you 're getting better, I sup- 

He laughed. " Oh, it is n't so disagreeable here. 
I 'm interested in your Shaker friends." 

" They think they are living the true life," said 
the girl. 

" Do you ? " asked Ford. 

" They are very good ; but I have seen good peo- 
ple in the world outside," she answered. " I think 
they are the kind that would be good anywhere. 
I should n't like having things in common with 
others. I should like a house of my own. And I 
should like a world of my own." 

" Yes," said Ford, laughing. " I should like the 
private house, too. But I don't think I could man- 
age a whole world." 

" I mean a world that is for the people that live 
in it. When they die, they have their own world, 
and they oughtn't to try to come back into ours." 

" Oh, decidedly, I agree with you there ! " cried 
the young man. 

She seemed not to like his light tone. " I know 
that I don't express it well." 

" It could n't be expressed better." 

" 1 meant that I hoped any friend of mine would 
be too well off to be willinsj to come back." 


" Yes." 

They found themselves at the end of the trelhs, 
and face to face. He dropped his grapes into the 
basket, where some loose berries rolled about. She 
looked ruefully at the result of their joint labors. 

" Well I " she said, and they walked out of the 
garden together. 

At the gate Ford took out his watch, and stopped 
with a guilty abruptness. " Miss Boynton, I am 
going away, — I am going to Boston, this after- 
noon. I " — 

" Going away ? " 

" Yes, I have business in Boston. Can I do any- 
thing for your father or — for you — there ? " 

" No," she said, looking at him in bewilderment. 
" Will you come and say good-by to him ? Or per- 
haps you had better not," she faltered. 

" I 'm coming back this evening ! " he cried in 
astonishment. " Will you lend me this basket ? " 
he asked. 

" Why, yes. It belongs to Rebecca." 

" Don't tell her I borrowed it. I must go now. 
Good-by ! " 

" Good-by." She stood looking after him till a 
turn of the road to Vardley Village hid him. 

When he reached Boston he found that the year 
had turned from summer to autumn with a dis- 
tinctness which he had not noted in the country. 
The streets, whei-e his nerves expected the fierce 
heat in which he had left them, were swept by cool 
inland airs. The crowds upon the pavement had 


perceptibly increased ; a tide of women, fresh from 
their sojourn at the sea-side and in the country, 
was pouring down Winter Street, reanimated for 
sliopping, and with their thoughts set upon ribbons 
with a vividness that shone in their faces. The 
third week of the fall season was placarded at the 
Museum; and in the Public Garden, which he 
crossed upon an errand to his lodging, there was a 
blaze of autumnal flowers in place of the summer 
bloom which he had left. He met here and there 
groups of public-school children loitering homeward 
with their books. The great, toiling majority who 
never go out of town were there, of course ; the 
many whose vacations and purses are short had all 
returned ; it would be some weeks yet before the 
few who can indulge the luxury of the colored 
leaves and the peculiar charm of still September 
days out of town would come home. It was the 
moment in which Ford had ordinarily the most 
content in his city. He liked to renew his tacit 
companionship with all these returning exiles ; the 
promise of winter snugness brought him almost a 
domestic joy ; the keen sparkle of the early-lighted 
gas in the street lamps and the shop-windows was 
a pleasure as distinct as it was inarticulate. But 
now he felt estranged amid the cheerful spectacle 
of the September afternoon. The country quiet, 
wliicli he used to hate, tenderly appealed to him ; 
the quaint life of the Shaker village, of which he 
had, without knowing it, become a part, reclaimed 
him ; the cry of a jay that strutted down an over- 



hanging branch to defy him as he walked along the 
road, after parting with Egeria, was still in his 
ears ; his vision was full of the sunny glisten of 
meadows where the Shakers' hired men were cut- 
ting the rowan, and of roadsides fringed with gold- 
en-rod and asters. He was impatient till he could 
be off again, and he made haste back to the fruiter- 
er's where he had left his basket with an order to 
fill it with grapes. He was vexed to find it stand- 
ing empty in a corner. 

" You did n't say what kind you wanted," ex- 
plained the fruiterer. 

"Put in what you like, — the best kind," said 
Ford. "You can judge; they're for a sick per- 

" All right." The man filled the basket, and 
Ford went to another counter and took up a bou- 
quet, which he added to his purchase. 

He bought two or three newspapers, in the cars, 
and read them on the way back, throwing those he 
was not reading over the flowers on the seat be- 
side him, so as to hide them. 

He got out of the train at Vardley Station with 
the sense of having committed a public action. He 
was rescued from this embarrassment, and curiously 
restored to his self-possession at sight of Egeria, 
who came driving the old Shaker horse over from 
the post-office, as the train halted. He was not 
alarmed to see her, but he asked formall}^, " Noth- 
ing the matter, I hope, Miss Boynton ? " 

" Oh, no. I came to get the letters ; and I 


thought I would wait for you, if you were on this 

" Thanks," said Ford, putting the basket into 
the open buggy, and mounting to a phice beside 
her. She looked down at it, but said nothing. He 
took the reins from her, and drove out of the vil- 
lage before he spoke again. " I have got some 
grapes for your father." 

She laughed, and lifted the basket at once into 
her lap. " I tliovglit you were going for some- 
thing," she said, " after you were gone ; and I 
guessed with Sister Frances. I guessed it was 
grapes, and she guessed it was peaches. You 
thought he would be disappointed at Elder Joseph's 
vines." She raised the lid of the basket and after 
a glance pushed it to again with a quick gesture, 
and looked gravely at him. " That is too much," 
she said. 

" I hope you don't think so ! " he pleaded. " I 
counted on your being pleased." 

" So I am pleased," she returned. She opened 
the basket again, and looked within. 

" You must have hated to come back to the coun- 
try," she said, after a silence, " if you like the city 
so much." 

" No. For once I was willing to come back. If 
the country had n't threatened to keep me, I 
shoukl n't have hated it. I never hated the country 
about here. What have you been doing this after- 
noon ? It seems a great while." 

" Does it ? Yes, it does ! I suppose there 's such 


a sameness here that anything that breaks it up 
makes the time longer. Sister Frances says that 
it 's so when any of them are gone. After you 
went I came in and stayed with father. He did n't 
know that I had been trying to get him some grapes. 
Your going away seemed to fret him, and that made 
me a little anxious to — to — see if you had come.^^ 

" I never thought of not coming back." 

" Yes, I know. Silas went down to the post-of- 
fice with me : but Humphrey came along in his 
buggy, and Silas went back with him. He could n't 
wait for you, and I said I would." 

" Thanks. But you took too much trouble. I 
expected to walk up from the station." 

" I did n't believe you 'd want to carry the bas- 

" Yes, I should. But what would you have done 
if you had had to drive home alone in the dusk ? " 

" Oh, I knew you would be there." 

The lamps were lit in the office, and the window 
was red with cheerful light where the doctor lay in 
the infirmary, when they drew up before the gate, 
and Ford helped Egeria down. Then he took the 
paper in which the bouquet was wrapped, and 
handed it to her. " There are a few flowers, too." 

" I thought it must be flowers," she said. " I '11 
put them round the grapes." 

" The flowers are for you," said Ford, with 
dogged resolution. 

Laban came across the street from the office, and 
took the horse by the bridle. " The sisters want 


you should take your tea at the office, to-night. 
They 've got it ready for you, and they 've sent 
word to Friend Williams not to be expectin' you." 

While Ford waited a few moments in the office 
parlor, Egeria came, and he heard her talking with 
Rebecca and Diantha in the sitting-room. When 
the latter came to tell him that tea was ready, he 
perceived that his gift was already a matter of fam- 
ily approval. He sat down at the table, and Egeria 
came out of the kitchen adjoining with the pol- 
ished tin tea-pot in her hand. Then he saw that 
the table was set for two. Her face \vas flushed, 
as if she had been near the heat ; but she sat down 
quietly, saying, " He was asleep, and Frances was 
with him. I must run back in a minute, for I want 
him to have them as soon as he wakes." He knew 
that she meant the grapes. When she was handing 
him his cup, she half drew it back. " I did n't ask 
you whether you like cream and sugar both, and 
I 've put them in." 

" I like it so," said Ford. 

She ate with more appetite than he, and was 
gayer than he had seen her before. A happy light 
was in her eyes, and when they met his this light 
seemed to suffuse her face. She talked, and he 
listened dreamily. It was very strange to a man of 
his solitary life. He did not remember to have seen 
any one pour'tea. At the boarding-house they came 
and asked if you would have tea or coffee, and 
brought it to you in a cup ; at the restaurant they 
set it before you in a pot, and you helped yourself, 


or the waiter reached over your shoulder and poured 
it out. Ford looked round the sincerely bare din- 
ing-room ; the windows were shut to keep out 
the evening chill, and the curtains were snugly 
drawn. The door to the kitchen was open, and he 
could hear Diantha moving about there ; now and 
then she made a little rattling at the stove ; once 
she came in with a plate of rice-cakes, and offered 
to wait upon them ; but Egeria passed the plate to 
Ford herself, and then gave him the butter and 
syrup. He tried to make her one with the fright- 
ened and joyless creature whom he had first seen 
in Boston ; then he perceived that she had fallen 
silent under his silent scrutiny. 

" I beg your pardon," he said, " is anything the 
matter ? " 

" Oh, no ! " she answered. " But I must go back 
to father. Will you come over and see him ? " 

" Yes." 

He walked across the road with her under tlie 
stars, keen as points of steel in the moonless sky ; 
but at the gate he said, " No, I won't go in to- 
night. I will come to see your father to-morrow." 

She said " Well," as if she understood that he 
wished to delay being thanked. 

As he lingered, she faltered too, and they stood 
confronted without speaking. Then he said, " Good- 
night," and made an offer of offering his hand. 
She saw it, and stretched hers towards him ; but 
by this time he had let his hand fall, thinking it 
unnoticed. The manosuvre was reciprocally re- 


peated ; by a common impulse they both broke 
into a low, nervous laugh, and their hands met in 
a quick clasp. 

" Thank you for the flowers," she said, when he 
had got a few paces away. 

A little farther off, he glanced back. She seemed 
to be standing yet at the door ; but the light was 
uncertain, and it might have been a shadow. He 
delayed a little, and then went back ; but she was 
now gone, and he saw her head reflected against the 
curtain within. 


FoED expected that they would meet next in the 
mood of their parting ; but she received him with a 
sort of defensive scrutiny that puzzled him and es- 
tranged her from him. He fancied that she avoided 
being alone with him, and made haste to shelter 
herself from him in her father's presence, where she 
sat and knitted while they talked. If he glanced 
at her, he found her eye leaving him with a look 
of anxious quest. He went away feeling that she 
was capricious. Other days followed when she was 
different, and met him with eager welcome ; but 
then he did not think her capricious, and he forgot 
from time to time the inquisition that vexed him 
and that seemed to weary and distress her. 

He commonly wrote in the morning and came in 
the afternoon. She sat on the threshold of the in- 
firmary, and if her father was awake she invited him 
in-doors ; if her father was asleep, she drew Ford 
off a little way into the orchard. There had been 
a change in Boynton. He never spoke hopefully of 
his condition to Ford ; but although he still showed 
a great feebleness, there were often days when be 
left his bed and sat up in a rocking-chair to receive 
his visitor. He did not remain long afoot, and he 


never showed any wish to go out-of-doors. Some- 
times Egeria and Frances, in their zeal for his con- 
valescence, urged him in the mild fall weather to go 
out for the air ; but after a glance at the landscape 
he said, " Yes, yes, to-morrow, if it 's fair. I 'm 
hardly equal to it to-day." When Ford was not 
with him, or some of the more metaphysical of the 
Shakers, he read or mused in his chair. At first he 
had wished to talk of the questions that perplexed 
him with Egeria, but she had fondly evaded them ; 
later, when she showed herself willing to afford 
him this resource, he had no longer the wish for it, 
and did not respond to her promptings. 

His mind must have been dwelling upon this 
change in himself and her, one afternoon, when 
Ford came in and sat down with him. " You see," 
he said, " how they have tricked out ray room for 
me ? " and he indicated the boughs of colored 
leaves, varied with bunches of wild asters and tops 
of golden-rod, in which the Shakers had carried 
him the autumn. " There is n't healing in ray 
leaves, as there was in the flowers which they 
brought Egeria this spring," he added, with a 
slight sigh, " but there is sympathy — sympathy." 
Ford left him to the pleasure he evidently found in 
the analogy and contrast, and Boynton presently 
resumed : " There is an experiment which I should 
have liked to try, if she had continued the same. 
I should have liked to see if we could not change 
places, and she exert upon me that influence which 
I once had over her. There is no telling how san- 


ative it might be in a case like mine, in which 
there is a certain obscurity of origin and character. 
But I am convinced that it would be useless to at- 
tempt the experiment. I see now that the psychic 
force must have left her entirely during her sick- 
ness. Not a trace of it remains. The fact is a 
very interesting one, which I should hope to inves- 
tigate with important results, if I could live to do 
so. It may be that we approach the other world 
only through some abnormal condition here. You 
have observed this remarkable change in my daugh- 
ter ? " 

" You know I only saw Miss Boynton two or 
three times before I came here," said Ford. " She 
seems very much better." 

" That is the change. Her power has escaped in 
this return to health. I saw it, — I almost noted 
its flight. Day by day, after the crisis of her fever, 
when convalescence began, I perceived that she 
grew more and more rebellious to my influence, 
without knowing it. If I had obeyed my intui- 
tions, I should never have put her powers to the 
final test. I see now that you had nothing to do 
with our failure here, whatever the effect of your 
sphere was in Boston. Her gift, rare and wonder- 
ful as it was, was the perishable efflorescence of a 
nervous morbidity. I might have known this be- 
fore, — perhaps I did know it, and refused to ac- 
cept it as a fact. It was hard, it was impossible, 
to relinquish my belief in her continued j)owers 
just when I had brought them to the most favora- 


ble conditions for tlieir exercise. But I don't give 
up my belief in what has been. I know that she 
once possessed the power that has been withdrawn, 
if ever it existed on earth. You will get out of 
the matter very easily by saying that it never did 
exist," added Boynton bitterly. "J should once 
have said so ; but now I say, whoever keeps it or 
loses it, this power has never ceased to exist. Has 
my daughter ever spoken to you of this matter? " 
he demanded abruptly. 

" Yes," said Ford. 

" It would be intolerable if she knew how great 
her loss was. But she never realized the precious- 
ness of her gift while she possessed it." 

The color of superiority, of censure, which tinged 
these words irritated the young man. "As far as 
I could understand, she seemed to dislike ghosts." 

" Yes, I know that. I had that to contend with 
in her." 

" It seemed to me that she had a terror of them, 
and that your researches had cost her " — Ford 

" What ? " asked Boynton. 

" She has never complained," answered the other. 
" I could only conjecture " — 

" Oh, I can believe that she never complained ! " 
cried Boynton ; and now he lay a long space silent. 
At last, " Yes," he groaned, with an indescribable 
intensity of contrition in his tone, " I see what you 
mean ! I seized upon a simple, loving nature, good 
and sweet in its earthliness, and sacred in it, and 


alienated it from all its possible happiness to the 
uses of my ambition. I have played the vampire ! " 

Ford rose in alarm at the eifect of his words, 
and essayed what reparation he could. " No," he 
protested. " The harm is less than you think. I 
don't believe that any one but ourselves can do us 
essential injury here. We may make others un- 
happy, but we can't destroy the possibility of hap- 
piness in them ; we can only do that in ourselves. 
Your conscience has to do with your motives ; it 
judges you by them, and God — if we suppose Him 
— will not judge you by anything else. The ef- 
fect of misguided actions belongs to the great mass 
of impersonal evil." 

It was the second time that he had presumed to 
distinguish between Boynton and Egeria, and he 
had again committed a cruel impertinence. He 
continued with a sort of remorseful rage to launch 
upon Boynton such fragments of consolation as 
came into his head ; and he hurried from him with- 
out knowing that his phrases about impersonal evil 
had already floated that buoyant spirit beyond the 
regrets in which he had plunged it. 

Still heated and ashamed, he issued from the in- 
firmary, and, as if it were strange that she should 
be there, he started at sight of Egeria under one of 
the orchard trees. But in that fascination which 
makes us hover about the victim of some wrong or 
the witness of some folly of ours, he pressed to- 
wards her. She was leaning against the trunk of 
the tree, with some knitting in her hand, and he 


flung himself on the grass at her feet. He thought 
that he meant to confess to her what had just 
passed, but he made no attempt to do so. "Are 
you so very tired ? " she asked, smiling down at 

" Not very," he answered, " but I know no rea- 
son why I should n't sit down, — except one." 

" What 's that ? " 

" That you 're standing." 

It was pretty, and she was a girl, and she softly 
laughed as she began to knit. " That 's work in 
real earnest," he said, looking at the substantial 
gray sock mounted on her needles. 

"Yes; the Shakers sell them," she explained. 
" I suppose you have got through your work for 
the day." 

" I 've got through my writing, if you call that 
work. It's so dull it can't be play." Again he 
thought he would speak of what had passed be- 
tween him and her father, but he did not. 

" Do you write stories?" she asked, with her 
eyes on her knitting. 

" Oh, not so bad as that ! I do what they call 
social topics, — perhaps because I never go into so- 
ciety ; and I do them with difficulty, as I deserve, 
for I 'm only making literature a means. I under- 
stand that if you want to be treated well by it you 
jnust make it an end, and be very serious and re- 
spectful with it." 

" Oh, yes," said the girl, as if she did not under- 


" I 'm serious enough," he continued, " but I 
don't respect my writing as it goes on. It 's as 
good as most; but it ought to be as good as the 

" What are social topics?" she asked presently. 

" I suppose I 'm treating a social topic now. I 'm 
writing about some traits of New England country 
life. I began it — do you care to hear ? " 

" Yes, I should like to hear about it if you will 
tell me." 

" It 's nothing. I was telling you the other day 
of our start from Boston. I could n't help noticing 
some things on the way ; my ten years in town had 
made me a sort of foreigner in the country, and I 
noticed the people and their way of living ; and 
after I got here I sent a letter to a newspaper 
about it. You might think that would end it ; but 
you don't know the economies of a hack-writer. 
I've taken my letter for a text, and I 'm working it 
over into an article for a magazine. If I were a 
real literary man I should turn it into a lecture 
afterwards, and then expand it into a little book." 
Egeria knitted on in silence, as if her mind were 
away, or had not strength to deal with these ab- 
stractions. "Who is that?" asked Ford, as a 
young Shakeress with a gentle face looked out of a 
window of the nearest family house, and nodded in 
pleasant salutation to Egeria. 

" That is the school-teacher." 

"They all look alike to me, — the sisters. I 
don't see how you tell them apart, so far off." 



" Yes, they all have the same expression, — the 
Shaker look. But they 're very different." 

" Why, of course. And the Shaker look is a 
very good look. It 's peaceful. I suppose they 
have their bickerings, though." 

" Not often. They 're what they seem. That 's 
their great ambition." 

"It 's an immense comfort. You must be quite 
at home among them." 

" Yes," said the girl. 

" Do you mean no ? " 

" They do everything they can to make me ; but 
they have their own world, and I don't belong to it. 
They feel that as well as I do ; but they can't help 

" Of course not. That 's the nature of worlds, 
big and little. You can't be at home near them ; 
you have to be in them to be comfortable. I have 
a world in my own neighborhood that I don't be- 
long to. I like to abuse it ; but it 's quite as good 
a neighbor as I deserve, and it would be civil if I 
made an effort to fit into it. But I suppose I was 
a sort of born outcast." 

" Does Mr. Phillips write, too ? " asked the girl. 

The abruptness of the transition was a little be- 
wildering ; but Ford answered, " My Phillips ? 
No ; he talks." 

" But has n't he any business ? " 

" None of his own. Did he amuse you ? " 

" I don't think I understood him," said Egeria. 

" He w^ould be charmed with vour further ac- 


quaintance. He would tell you that he could meet 
3'ou on common ground, — that he did n't under- 
stand himself." 

She left Phillips by another zigzag. " I sup- 
pose," said she, " you like the influence that a 
writer has. It must be a pleasure to feel your 
power over people." 

"No," said Ford, "I don't care anything about 
the influence. It shocks me to think of people be- 
ing turned this way or that by my stuff." 

" Then you believe," she said, with that recur- 
rent intensity, " that we can have power over oth- 
ers without knowing it, and even without wishing 

" Oh," he answered carelessly, " we all control 
one another in the absurdest way." 

" Yes." She turned quite pale, and looked away, 
passing her hand over her forehead as if she were 
giddy. Then she rose quickly, and hurried down 
the path to the infirmary. The young man fol- 

" Did you think you heard your father's bell ? " 

*' I 'd better see if he rang." She went into the 
little house, but came out directly. " No ; he 's try- 
ing to sleep." 

" Then we must go back, so as not to disturb 

" Yes," she said, but with an accent of interroga- 
tion and reluctance. " I don't believe I ought to 
leave him." 

" We shall be near enough," he rejoined with a 


kind of willfulness, " Here comes Sister Frances ; 
she will stay with him." 

" I might speak to her," murmured Egeria, hes- 
itating, as Frances came across the road. 

" It is n't worth while. She will find him alone, 
and will naturally stay till you come in." Ford 
glanced about him. " Which is the apple-tree they 
call yours ? " 

" The one they brought me out under the first 
day I was well enough ? " 

" Yes ; I have heard a great deal of that tree. It 
is famous in the community annals." 

" Oh, it does n't look the least now as it did 
then." She led the way far up the orchard slope. 
But when they came to the tree, and she said, put- 
ting her hand on the trunk, " This is it," neither of 
them spoke of it. She glanced at the hill on the 
brow of which some chestnut-trees stood. 

" We could get a better view from that place," 
he suggested. 

" Do you think so ? " She climbed half up the 
wall that divided the oi'chard from a meagre past- 
ure above, and looked back. He passed her and 
helped her over the wall. " I forgot that this 
meadow was so wet," she said, hesitating near the 

"But nature never does things by halves," said 
Ford. " Where she makes a sopping meadow, she 
jDuts plenty of stones to step on ; and where j^ou are 
doubtful of your footing, she puts me to lend you a 
helping hand." He extended his hand to her as he 


spoke, and drew her lightly to the sloping bowlder 
on which he stood, and on which she must cling to 
him for support. 

" Oh, I could get on well enough alone," she 
said, laughing nervously. 

" You can get on better with help." 

" Yes." 

She followed him, springing from stone to stone, 
staying herself now by his hand and now by his 
arm, till they reached the hard, dry top, where the 
tangled low blackberry vines overran the bowlder 
heads thickly crusted with lichens. 

" I did n't suppose it was so bad," she said, shak- 
ing out her skirts. 

" I don't think it so very bad," he returned. " It 
was n't a great way across." 

" No. There are some chestnuts. It must be 
too soon for them." 

" Let us see," said Ford. He advanced leisurely, 
and with a club knocked off some burs. Returning 
with them to the rock, where she had stood watch- 
ing him, he hammered the nuts from their cells. 
They were scarcely in the milk yet. " These trees 
are too old," he said. " The nuts ripen first on 
the young trees that stand apart in the meadows. 
There are some in the rye-field just beyond these 
pine woods, here," he said, pointing to the growth 
on their left. 

" That would be too far," she answered, follow- 
ing his gesture with a glance. " We had better go 


" We can go back that way. It 's good walking." 

She did not answer, but he led on again, and she 
followed. " How still and warm it is ! " she cried, 
with a luxurious surrender to the charm of the 
place. The slanting sun struck through the slender 
boles of the trees, and burnished the golden needles 
under their feet. There was no sound of life save 
their steps, and their voices, which took a lower 
key ; the air was rich with the balsam of the trees. 
She deeply inhaled it. " Yes, yes," she murmured. 
" It all comes back. I was afi-aid," she said, in an- 
swer to the look with which he turned upon her, 
" that I had lost the feeling which I had when I 
first got well. But I have n't." 

" What was it ? " 

" I don't know if I can tell. Something as if I 
belonged in such places — as if they missed me 
when I came away — I don't know. It was some- 
thing very silly " — She stopped. 

" Don't grieve the woodland by hurrying through 
it, then," said Ford, with a playfulness which, now 
that he indulged it, seemed natural to him. " Wait 
a moment. Tliis rock is a new feature, — I don't 
remember this." A vast bowlder rose at the side 
of their path, and he walked round it and clambered 
to the top, from which he bent over to spea,k to her 
again. " Would you like to come up ? It 's quite 
easy on this side." 

" What can 3'ou see ? " 

" Nearly the whole earth." 

She found the opposite side of the rock a slope, 


broken by some natural steps. He came half- 
way down, and, reaching her his hand, pulled her 
strongly up. 

The top was scantly wide enough for them both ; 
and while he stood she sat at his feet and looked 
out at the landscape which a break in the woods 
revealed at that height. It was the valley in which 
the village and farms of the Shakers lay ; but it 
stretched wider than they had ever seen it, and on 
the other side, beyond the river, the hills rose 
steeper. The red sunset bathed it in a misty light, 
through which shone the scarlet of the maples, the 
gold of the elms by the river, the tender crimson of 
the young growths in the swamp lands. -. On the 
hill-side some of the farm windows had caught 
the sun, and blazed and flickered with mimic fire. 
Along a lower slope ran a silent train, marking its 
course with puffs of white steam. 

" I can confess, now," said Ford, " that if I 
had n't climbed this rock I should n't have known 
just where we were. But here are all the land- 
marks." He pointed to the familiar barns and fam- 
ily houses below. 

" How near we are ! " she cried, looking down. 
" I felt as if we were miles away. These woods 
are not large enough to get lost in, are they ? " 

" Not now. They were, a minute ago." He sat 
down beside her, and they looked at the landscape 
together. " It 's rather sightly, as Joseph says." 

" We had better go down," she murmured. But 
neither of them made a movement to go. They 


sat looking at the valley. " Now the fire has caught 
the windows higher up," she said. They watched 
the glittering panes as they dai'kened and kindled. 
The windows of the highest farm-house flashed in- 
tensely, and then slowly blackened. A light blue 
haze hovered over the valley. 

" The curtain is down," said Ford. 

She started to her feet, and looked round. " Why, 
the sun has set ! " 

" Did n't you know that ? " he asked. 

" No," she said, sadly. "It seemed as if it would 
last longer. But nothing lasts." 

" No, nothing lasts," he repeated. " But gener- 
ally things last long enough. I could have stood 
another hour or two of sunset, however. And some- 
times I 've known days that I would have been 
willing to have last forever, if I could have had out 
my eternity in this world." 

" Is that — is that the way you feel, too ? " she 
asked, turning swiftly upon him that strange, 
searching glance. 

" Why, not always. What is the matter? " 

" Nothing — nothing. Let us go down." She 
took his hand, and clung to it, in descending, as if 
eager to escape to him from some fear of him. 

They went on in the direction they had first 
taken. She walked at his side, and when his pace 
fell to a slow saunter she did not attempt to hasten 
it. A red squirrel took shape and motion out of 
the russet needles, and raced up one of the pines, 
whose feathery tops he bent in his long leaps from 


tree to tree ; a partridge suddenly whirred up from 
the path before them ; the life was like shadow, the 
shadow was like life, as the twilight thickened round 
them. " Are you tired ? " he asked. " Am I mak- 
ing you walk too far ? " 

" I am not tired," she answered, but stopping as 
he stopped. 

" I am. I 'm out of breath," he said. " Do you 
know this place ? " 

She glanced round. " I believe I should know it 
if I were here alone. It looks familiar. It looks 
like the place where Laban found us that morning 
when we were trying to walk to Vardley Station. 
The brook ought to be running along in the hollow, 
here. Once he asked me if I knew the place ; but 
I did n't. Do you think it 's the place ? " 

" How should I know ? You never told me of it 

" Then the fever must have begun," she mused 
aloud. "I thought — I must have thought you — 
were there ! I ought n't " — 

" Oh," laughed Ford, " we put people in all sorts 
of places in dreams, feverish or otherwise. But I 
think the place you mean is lower down. I was 
in hopes you knew better where we were. I don't 

Egeria laughed also. " Then we are lost ! " 

" Yes. Are you frightened ? " 

"I should hate to be lost here alone." 

"I shall go presently and look up our where- 
abouts. Shall I go now ? " 


" If "we keep walking we shall get through the 
woods in a few minutes. Which way are your 
chestnuts ? " 

" I don't know that, now, either. Do you care 
to look them up ? '' 

" No. I thought you wanted them." 

" I think it 's better to stay here. No," he added, 
capriciously, "it 's better to go home." 

" Well," she responded with the same trusting 
content in which she had let all his impulses sway 

A thrill, very wild and sweet, played through his 
nerves. "I — I " — he began ; then suddenly, 
" Wait here ! " he cried, and ran down to the brow 
of the hill along which the woodland stretched. 
" It 's all right ! " he called back, and he turned to 
retrace his steps. But she was no longer where he 
had left her. He disliked to call out to her ; they 
were very near the house in which he lodged, and 
he did not wish to make an alarm. He pushed 
hither and thither through the gathering dusk, but 
he could not find her; and he blamed himself for 
having brought her into this embarrassment. He 
had once seen tramps in those woods ; and now it 
would be almost dark when they reached home. 
All at once he came upon her at the foot of a tree, 
against which she quietly leaned. " What are you 
doing here ? " he demanded, impatiently. " Why 
did you go away ? " He thought he had spoken 
harshly ; but she only seemed amused. 

" I have n't moved. This is where you left me," 


They both hiughed at that. " I have been run- 
ning everywhere, round and round, as lost people 
do in the Adirondacks, when they ai'e going to 
write about it after\yards. It 's absurd to be lost 
here. It 's like being drowned in a saucer. Were 
you afraid ? " 

" No. What should I be afraid of ? " 

" Certainly not bears, — till I came up. Will 
you take my arm ? I must n't lose you again. 
Will they be uneasy about you ? " 

" Oh, they will know that I went away with 
you, and some of them will see us coming back to- 

" Yes," said the young man. 

" Besides, I can tell them that we missed the 

" I 'm afraid if you do that they won't let you 
come with me again." 

" I 'm afraid they won't believe me if I tell them 
ivhere w^e got lost," she said. When they came to 
open ground, it was much lighter. " It is n't so 
late as I thought." 

"No," he answered; "we were actually lost in 
that boundless forest by daylight. But it is n't so 
remarkable in my case as it is in yours. Miss Boyn- 
ton. I don't know what mysterious influence you 
are going to say bewildered you." 

" Influence ? " she repeated, with a start. 

" What is the matter ? " he asked. 

" Nothing ! " She withdrew her hand from his 


He looked round, and saw that they had reached 
the great stone bowl of the waj-side fountain. A 
sense of hideous anomaly possessed him. " Did I 
become intolerable just here?" he demanded, bit- 
terly. " Why do you endure me ? You and your 
father ought to hate me. I have done you noth- 
ing but harm. Why do you ever speak to me? I 
ought to be abominable to you ! " 

" I don't know," she answered vaguely. " Do 
you think it is " — 

He laughed harshly. " Inexplicable ! You don't 
forget anything ? " 

" No," she reluctantly admitted. " I don't for- 

" I can understand your father's position. He 
suffers me upon some theory of his. But you, — 
you are a woman, and women don't forgive very 
easily. Come, Miss Boynton," he cried, mixing his 
self-banter with his pain, " confess that I am some 
malignant enchanter, and that I have the power of 
casting an ugly spell over you, that deprives you of 
the wholesome satisfaction of telling me that I 'm 

" A spell," she began ; but her voice died weakly 
away, and she stood looking into his face with puz- 
zled entreaty. 

" If you would tell me once for all that I am 
the greatest ruffian in the world, with neither pity 
nor decency, it might break the charm, and then 
I could go away to-morrow morning. I 've been 
waiting for that. Will you try ? " 


" I can't say that," she murmured. 

" But you believe it ? " 

"No" — 

" That 's part of the sorcery. You must have 
often tried to believe it." 

She was silent, and he felt that her silence was 
full of distress. She turned away with a sort of 
helplessness ; he followed her, trying to retrieve 
himself. But he could not find anything to say, 
and they scarcely spoke as they walked back 
through the village. At the gate of the office her 
parting with him was almost a flight. 


The next day Ford came, and found Egeria on 
the threshold, where she often met liim. At first 
glance he thought he read in her face something 
like an impulse to run from him ; but she quelled 
the impulse, if she had it, and greeted him with a 
resolute coldness, which he Avould not recognize. 
He had a broad yellow hickory leaf in one hand, 
and on this lay a little heap of blackberries ; they 
were long and narrow like mulberries, and they had 
hung on the canes, hoarding the last sweetness of 
the year. " Perhaps your father will like these," 
he said ; and he told her of the hollow beside the 
road in which he had found them. " They 've got 
all that was left of the summer in them," he added. 
"Will you have them?" 

" I don't believe they would be good for him," 
she began stiffly. 

Ford tossed them away. " How is the doctor 
to-day ? " he asked. 

" He 's better. Will you come in ? " 

" No, thank you. I am going to the post-office. 

" Good-by," she said, and they exchanged a look 
of mutual dismay, which hardened into pride be- 
fore their eyes dropped. 


At the post-office Ford found a letter for Egeria, 
and carried it to Humphrey, who put it away in 
his desk, and said he would give it to her when she 
came in. 

" It don't seem the same handwritin' as the 
other. I don't know," he said, shutting his desk- 
lid, "as you heard that they got a letter this 
mornin' from a lawyer down t' their place. As I 
understood from Frances, — Egery read it to her, 
— the gran'father 's left Egery what prop'ty there 
was. The' wa' n't no great, I guess." 

The fact jarred upon Ford. Against all sense he 
connected it with her changed manner, for which, 
till then, he had found reason enough in the terms 
of their parting the day before. This legacy 
seemed the world thrusting in between them ; it 
was as if it crossed some purpose, broke some hope, 
of his. 

He stopped mechanically, on his way home, in 
the hollow of the roadside where he had found the 
blackberries, and looked idly at the canes. Pres- 
ently he saw that there were no berries left on 
them. He was turning away, when a sound like 
suppressed laughter caught his ear. There was a 
rustle in a thicket near, and Egeria and one of the 
youngest Shakeresses came out. 

" We have got them all," said the former ; she 
blushed appealingly, while the latter still giggled. 
"I didn't suppose you would come again. When 
we saw you looking so, Susan couldn't help laugh- 
ing." Ford reddened with embarrassment. "It 


seems greedy to take them. I did n't suppose — I 
never thought of your wanting them. Will j'ou — 
will you — take some ? " She offered him her bas- 

" Thanks," he said, awkwardly refusing, " I don't 
care for them. I 'ra glad you 've found them." 

He turned and walked off, leaving her where 
slie stood, with her basket still extended towai'ds 
him. She watched him out of sight, and then 
made a few paces after him. On a sudden she 
dropped her basket, and sinking down hid her face 
on her knees. The Shakeress picked up the bas- 
ket and the berries which were jostled out of it, 
and stood passively near, looking at Egeria for 
what seemed a long time. 

There came a sound of wheels. " Is that you, 
Susan ? " called Elihu from the road. 

" Yee," promptly answered the Shakeress. 

Egeria sprang to her feet, and seized the basket 
from her. " Come ! come ! " she whispered, and 
fled farther into the woods. 

But the girl did not follow her. She went out 
into the road, where Elihu sat in his buggy, and 
stood demurely waiting his question. 

" Was that Egeria ? " 

" Yee." 

" Why did she run away ? " 

" She was crying." 

" What made her cry ? " 

The girl was silent. 

" What made her cry ? " repeated Elihu. 


" Slie had got all the berries, when Friend Ford 
came, and he seemed kind of put out." 

" Get in with me," said Eliliu. " You should 
not be here alone." 

In the evening Elihu went to the office, and 
joined the office sisters in their sitting-room. One 
of them took his hat and cane, and the other pulled 
a rocking-chair towards the air-tight stove, in which 
a new fire was softly roaring. 

" The evenings begin to be chilly, now," he 

" Yee," answered Rebecca, " the days are short- 
ening. Did you find the folks all well at Har- 
shire ? " 

" Yee," he said ; and then he sat rocking himself 
absently and somewhat sadly to and fro, while the 
sisters, with their hands in their laps, passively 
waited for him to speak farther. Humphrey, hear- 
ing his voice, came in from his room, and Laban 
followed. Sister Frances, with her pale cheeks a 
little brightened by her walk across from the in- 
firmary, entered the other door; Elihu lifted his 
voice. " But I did n't find all the folks here so 

" Wh}^, what do you mean, Elihu?" cried 
Diantha. " Is anybody sick with you ? " 

" Is Friend Boynton worse ? " Humphrey asked, 
turning his head up towards Frances, who was still 
on foot, while he was seated. 

" Na}'^," answered Frances, fluttered with anxiety 



and curiosity ; " he is uncommon bright and well, 

" It is no sickness of the body that I mean, and 
yet it is a disease of this life only. I hardly know 
how to say what I suspect, — or rather feel sure 
of." His listeners did not interrupt him, but 
waited in resignation for his next word. He 
looked round at their faces. " Egeria is getting 
foolish about Friend Ford." 

" For shame, Elihu ! " exclaimed Frances, with 
an indignant impulse. The rest stirred uneasily 
in their chairs, but did not speak. 

Elihu looked kindly at Frances, but he did not 
address her directly in adding, " As I was coming 
home this afternoon, I met Friend Ford down at 
the turn of the road, looking strange and excited. 
He did n't seem to see me, and he went on without 
speaking. I thought I saw Susan among the 
bushes, and I called to her." 

"I sent her I" Frances broke in. "I sent her 
in my place, because I could n't leave Friend Boyn- 
ton and Egery wanted to go and get some late 
blackberries for him that Friend Edward had told 
her about." Frances, by right of her special ten- 
derness for the Boyntons, always spoke of Ford by 
his first name. 

" Yee," replied Elihu gently, " so Susan told 
me, — she is a good child. She told me that Friend 
Ford had found them there, and because he had 
seemed vexed Egeria had shed tears." 

" It was because they had got all the berries, and 


she tliouglit it would look selfisli and greedy to 
liim," Fi'iuices interposed a second time. 

"Yee," Elihu again consented, "so Susan told 
me. It is not the only time that I feared she had 
got to feeling foolish abovit him." 

" Foolish about him ! " Frances could not con- 
tain herself. " She would never feel foolish about 
a young man ! And if she felt foolish about him 
he would feel foolish about her, too ! " 

" Yee," said Ehhu. " They have been driving 
and walking together, — picking leaves and grapes 
and berries. He stops in the orchard in the after- 
noon, and talks with her by the hour." 

" It 's while her father 's asleep," explained 
Frances. " Whenever Friend Boynton 's awake, 
Edward talks with him. You would n't want him 
waked up out of his sleep to talk, would you ?" 

" Nay," said Elihu, while the faintest smile 
moved his lips, in kindly derision of the inefficiency 
of Frances' defense. " Friend Ford writes in the 
morning, and Friend Boynton sleeps in the after- 

" Elihu ! " cried Frances, angrily. 

" Frances," returned Elihu, with reestablished 
gravity, " will you tell me yourself that you have 
never thought they were foolish about each other, 
— what they call being in love ? " 

Frances wiped the tears from her eyes with her 
stout handkerchief, which she had knotted into a 
ball. " You are too bad, Elihu. You have no 
right to ask such a question. You had n't ought 
to put me on trial." 


" You put yourself on trial, Frances," said Elihu, 
affectionately. " You began to talk while I was 
speaking. But I withdraw the question. I never 
meant to hurt your feelings. I know you have 
always done for tlie best." 

" I have often heard you say," Frances quavered 
reproachfully, " that the worst thing about our 
young people, when they get to foolin', is that they 
run away. You said that if they would only tell 
us honestly how they felt we would let them go 
and be married, and we would be friends with 
them afterwards. Now, when there are two young 
folks here that don't think of runnin' away, or 
hidin' anything, you 're not satisfied. Do you 
want Egery and Edward to run away ? " 

" Nay," replied Elihu ; " do you want them to 
be courting each other here, right under our 
noses ? " 

" It is nt under our noses ! " cried Frances, re- 
senting the phrase. 

" Well, our eyes, then," said Elihu, patiently. 
" Do you think it is a good example to the rest of 
our young folks ? " 

" They 're not of our family ! They 've never 
been gathered in ! " 

" Nay, I know that," admitted Elihu. " But 
does that help the matter, as far as the example 
goes? We all know by bitter experience how hard 
it is for the young to tread the path that leads to 
the angelic life ; how cruelly it is beset with flints 
and shards, and how the flesh bleeds with the sting 


of its brambles. Do you want them mocked with 
the sight of flowers that tempt them to the earthly 
pastures ? Egeria is a good girl " — 

" Oh, she is, she is ! " sobbed Frances. 

" And I don't believe she understands herself 
that she 's foolish about him " — 

" I know she does n't ! It would kill her ! " 

" Nay, I 'm not sure of that," said Elihu, with 
another flicker of a smile. " But that makes the 
case easier to deal with. We need not speak to 
her at all. We can speak to the young man." 

" Speak to the young man ! " cried Frances. 
" Tell him that Egery is in love with him before 
he has ever asked her " — She stopped in horror. 

" We do not gloss this thing among ourselves," 
said Elihu coldly, " and we need not care for the 
feints and pretenses used in the world outside. 
But we can tell him that he 's foolish about her. 
I have talked the matter over with Joseph and the 
ministers, and we have agreed that Friend Ford 
should be spoken to." Frances went out of the 
room, turning her back upon the meditated out- 
rage. " The only question now is," continued 
Elihu, without regarding her withdrawal, " who 
shall speak to him." 

A perceptible sensation passed through the oth- 
ers, but no one answered. After a moment, La- 
ban said from the corner where he sat, " Some 
like bellin' the cat." The sisters relieved the ten- 
sion of their nerves in a low titter, but Elihu and 
Humphrey remained grave ; and it is doubtful if 


Laban really intended a joke, though his face re- 
laxed at the merriment of the sisters. 

" The ministers," resumed Elihu, " were not 
sure whether it was the province of the elders or 
the trustees, and I came to consider that point with 
you, Humphrey." 

Humphrey rose, with his face twisted by an ex- 
pression as of severe bodily pain. He moved his 
arms haplessly about, and took off and then put on 
his spectacles. He tried in vain to smile. " I d' 
know," he said, "as I'm a very good hand at 
speakin' to folks. I don't seem to have any com- 
mand o' language. I should think myself, it was 
for the elders, some on 'em, to speak." 

" You have transacted all the business with the 
young man," said Elihu. " You have had frequent 
interviews with him, and you go a good deal into 
the world, on business. We thought, perhaps, that 
you would best know how to approach him." 

" I ain't one to get acquainted easy," replied 
Humphrey, " and I never felt no ways at home 
with Friend Ford. He seems to be of a kind of 
offish disposition." He sat down again, and hang- 
inc: his head began to tilt the chair in front of 
liim on its hind legs. " I should n't want to in- 
trude no ways into the province of the elders. I 
don't seem to feel that it 's so much of a business 
question as what it is a question of family disci- 

" You may be right," admitted Elihu. 

" If I could see it as my duty, I should n't be one 


to shirk it. But it 's like this." He paused unsuc- 
cessfully for a comparison, and then added, "It's a 
question of family discipline. I should ha' thought 
it was for the ministers to speak." 

" We should only have recourse to the ministers 
in extreme cases, " said Elihu. " Besides, you 
thought just now it was for the elders to speak." 

" Well, the elders or the ministers," returned 
Plumphrey, without looking up. 

Elihu compassionated his futility with a moment's 
silence. Then he sighed slightly, and said, " I 
agree with you, Humphrey. But I thought that I 
ought to give j^ou the opportunity, and if you saw 
your duty in it I ought to yield to you. I did not 
want to have the appearance of forth-putting, in 
such a case, and I certainly don't covet the task of 
speaking to Friend Ford. He appears to me a per- 
son subject to sudden gusts of anger, and there is 
no telling how he may take the interference." 

" That is so," admitted one of the sisters. 

" There ain't no question about forth-puttin', 
Elihu," said Humphrey, with the cordiality of a 
great relief. " Every one 'd know 't you did n't 
seek such a duty. But Friend Ford '11 take it all 
right; you'll see. He'll look at it in the same 
light you do." 

Elihu rose, and took his hat and stick. " I shall 
pi'obably find him in his room, now, I suppose." 

Humphrey stood as much aghast as it was in his 
power to do. " Was you — you wa' n't goin' to 
speak to him right away ? " 


" Yee. Why should I put it off? He cannot 
take it any bettei* to-morrow or next week tlian he 
woukl to-night. And the trouble would n't grow 
less if we waited till doomsday." Elihu went out ; 
the closing of the hall door upon him was like an 
earthquake to those within. 

" I declare for it," said Laban, " I 'most feel like 
goin' along down to Friend Ford's and waitin' out- 

" Well," observed Rebecca, slighting the bold 
proposition, " Elihu never was one to be afraid." 

" That is so, Rebecca," said Diantha. 

Humphrey said nothing. The accumulation and 
complication of evils brought upon the family by 
the Boyntons had long passed his control. 


Elihu walked rapidly down tLe moon-lighted 
street. When he reached the old family house, he 
groped his way up from the outer door to that of 
the meeting-room, in which Ford lodged, and tapped 
upon it with his stick. There was the sort of hes- 
itation within which follows upon surprise and 
doubt ; then the sound of a chair pushed back was 
heard, and Ford came to the door with a lamp in 
his hand ; he looked like one startled out of a deep 
reverie. " Anything the matter with Dr. Boyn- 
ton ? " he asked, after a gradual recognition of 

" Nay," replied the Shaker. " Friend Boynton 
is better than usual, I believe. I wish to have a 
little talk with you, Friend Ford. Shall I come 

Ford found that he was holding the door ajar, 
and blocking the entrance. " Why, certainly," he 
said. He led the way, and setting the lamp on the 
table pushed up another chair to the corner fire- 
place, where some logs were burning, and where 
he had evidently been sitting. " Sit down." 

The Shaker obeyed, and with his palms resting 
on his knees craned his neck round and peered at 


tlie different corners of the room and up at the 
ceiling before he spoke. " Are you comfortable 
here, Friend Ford ? " 

" Yes," answered the young man. "I am a sort 
of stray cat, and any garret is home to me. I can't 
say, though, that I 've ever occupied the dwelling 
of a whole community before." 

" Yee, this building once housed a good many 
people. It was a cross to leave it ; but our num- 
bers have fallen away, and we crowd together for 
comfort and encouragement. It 's an instinct, I 
suppose. Well, what do you think of the Shakers, 
so far, Friend Ford?" Elihu had an astute glim- 
mer in his eye as he asked the question. 

" Really, I hardly know what to say," answered 

" Say what you think. We may not like the 
truth, but we always desire to hear it." 

" I should probably say nothing offensive to you, 
if I said all that 's in my mind. I believe I think 
very well of you. I don't see why j'ou don't suc- 
ceed. I don't see why jou don't supply to Prot- 
estantism the very refuge from the world that we 
talk of envying in Catholicism." 

" That is much the position that Friend Bo3aiton 

" I don't understand why you are a failing body. 
The world has tired and hopeless people enough to 
throng ten thousand such villages as yours." 

" We should hardly be satisfied with the weary 
and discouraged," said Elihu, without resentment. 


" And our system offers few attractions. Folks are 
not so anxious for the angelic life in heaven that 
they want to begin it on earth." 

Ford smiled. " You offer shelter, you offer a 
home and perfect immunity from care and aux- 

" But we require great sacrijfices," rejoined the 
Shaker gravely. " We put husband and wife 
asunder ; we bid the young renounce the dream of 
youth; we say to the young man, Forego; to the 
young girl, Forget. We exact celibacy, the su- 
preme self-offering to a higher life. Even if we 
did not consider celibacy essential to the angelic 
life, we should feel it to be essential to communism. 
We must exact it, as the one inviolable condition." 

Ford sat a moment thinking. " I dare say you 
are right." He looked interested in what Elihu 
was saying, and he added, as if to prompt him to 
further talk, " I have been thinking about it a good 
deal since I 've been here, and I don't see how you 
can have commu^nism on any other terms. But 
then your communism perishes, because nature is 
the stronger, and because you can't recruit your 
numbers from the children of your adherents. You 
must look for accessions from the enemy." 

" Yee, that is one of our difficulties. And we 
have to fight the enemy within our gates perpetu- 
ally. Even such of us as have peace in our own 
hearts must battle in behalf of the weaker brethren. 
We must especially guard the young against the 
snares of their own fancies." 


" I dare say it keeps you busy," said Ford. 

" It does. We must guard them from both the 
knowledge and the sight of love." The word 
brought a flush to the young man's face, wdiich 
Elihu did not fail to note. " Friend Ford, I have 
understood you to wish us well?" He rose, and 
resting his arm on the chimney-piece looked down 
with gentle earnestness into the face of the young 
man, as he sat leaning back in his chair with his 
hands clasped behind his head. 

" Yes, certainly." 

" You would not wittingly betray us ? " 

" Really " — 

" I don't mean that. You would n't knowingly 
put any obstacle in our way, — any stumbling-block 
before the feet of those whom we are trying to lead 
towards what we think the true life ? " 

" Elihu," said Ford, " I thoroughlj^ respect you 
all, and I should be grieved to interfere with you. 
Why do you ask me these questions ? Have you 
any reason to be dissatisfied with my behavior 

" Nothing," continued Elihu, " is so hard to com- 
bat in the minds of our young folks as the pres- 
ence of that feeling in others who consider it holy 
and heavenly, while we teach that it is of the earth, 


" The more right and fit it appears, the more 
complex and subtle is the effect of such an exam- 
ple. It is impossible that we should tolerate it a 


moment among us after we become convinced of its 
existence. Self-defense is the law of life." 

" Well, well ! " cried Ford, getting up in his 
turn, and confronting Elihu on more equal terms, 
" what has all this to do with me ? " His face was 
red, and his voice impatient. 

Elihu was not disturbed. He asked calmly, 
" Don't you know that Egeria is in love with 

Ford stood breathless a moment. " Good 
heavens, man ! " he shouted. " Her father is at 
death's door ! " 

Elihu stood with his wide-brimmed hat resting on 
one hand ; he turned it slowly round with the 
other. "Friend Boynton is very strangely sick. 
The doctor says he does n't know how long he may 
last. Young people soon lose the sense of danger 
which is not immediate. The kind of love I speak 
of is the master-feeling of the human heart ; it 
flourishes in the very presence of death ; it grows 
upon sorrow that seems to kill. It knows how to 
hide itself from itself. It takes many shapes, and 
calls itself by many other names. We have seen 
much to make us think we are right about Egeria. 
Have you seen nothing ? " 

• Ford did not reply. His thoughts ran back over 
all the times that he had seen and spoken with 
Egeria, and his heart slowly and deeply beat, like 
some alien thing intent upon the result ; and then 
it leaped forward with a bound. 

" Perhaps," said the Shaker, " I am wrong to 


put the question in the way I do. We deal so 
plainly with ourselves and with one another in such 
cases that I might well forget the sophistication 
that the world outside requires in the matter. I do 
not wish to do you injustice, and I shall be glad if 
I have opened my mind for nothing. I will merely 
ask whether you have not done anything or said 
anything to make her like you." 

" This is preposterous," said Ford. " Do you 
think these are the circumstances for love-making ? 
I am here very much against my will, because I 
can't decently abandon a friendless man " — 

" Friend Boynton has plenty of friends here," in- 
terrupted Elihu. 

" I beg your pardon ; I know that. Then I am 
here because I can't leave a dying man who seems 
to find comfort in my presence. And whatever 
may be the security which Miss Boynton has fallen 
into, I have had her father to remind me of his 
danger by constant allusions to it, as if his death 
were near at hand." 

" Do you believe it is ? " 

" That is n't the question. The question is 
whether a man, being trusted with a knowledge of 
dangers which she does n't know, could have any 
such feeling towards her as you imagine." Ford 
bent a look of angry demand upon the Shaker. 

" Yee," the latter answered, " I think he could, 
if he meant the best that love means. If he knew 
that they were poor, and that after her father's 
death she would be left alone in the world, he might 


very well look on her with affection even across a 
dying pillow, and desire to be the protector and the 
stay of her helplessness. I don't wish to pry into 
your concerns, and if there is nothing between you 
and Egeria it will be enough for you to say so." 

"Between us!" cried Ford, bitterly. "I will 
tell you how I first met these people, and then you 
shall judge how much reason there is for love be- 
tween her and me." 

" Nay," interjected Elihu, " there is no need of 
a reason for love. I learned that before I was 
gathered in." 

Ford did not regard the interruption. "I saw 
them first at a public exhibition, and I made up my 
mind that Dr. Boynton was an impostor ; and then 
I went to their house with this belief. I never be- 
lieved his daughter was anything but his tool, the 
victim of himself and the woman of the house who 
did the tricking. I suspected tricking in the dark, 
but when I attempted to seize her hand it was Miss 
Boynton's hand that I caught, and I hurt her — 
like the ruffian I was. Afterwards the old man 
tried to face me down, and we had a quarrel; and 
I saw him next that morning here, when he flew 
at my throat. It 's been his craze to suppose that 
I thwarted his control over his daughter, and he 
has regarded me as his deadliest enemy. Now you 
can tell how much love is lost between us." Ford 
turned scornfully away and walked the length of 
the room. 

The Shaker remained in his place. " Egeria is 


of a very affectionate and believing disposition. 
She would take a pleasure in forgiving any unkind- 
ness, and she would forgive it so that it would never 
have been. I don't see any cause in what you say 
to change my mind. If you told me that you did 
not care for her, it would be far more to the point 
than all you could say to show ivhy you don't." 

Ford stopped, and glared at the serene figure and 
placid countenance. " This is too much," he began, 
and then he paused, and they regarded each other. 

" You don't pretend now," resumed Elihu, " that 
you suspect either of them of wrong." 


" Then, whatever the mystery is about them, j^ou 
know that they are good folks. We have had much 
more cause than 3'ou to suspect them, but I don't 
doubt them any more than I doubt myself." 

"I would stake my life on her truth ! " exclaimed 
Ford. The Shaker could not repress the glimmer 
of a smile. " I " — Ford paused. Then he burst 
out, " I have been a hypocrite, — the w'orst kind ; 
a hypocrite to my own deceit ! I do love her ! 
She is dearer to me than — You talk of your an- 
gelic life ! Can you dream of anything nearer the 
bliss of heaven than union with such tenderness 
and mercy as hers ? " 

" We say nothing against marriage in its place. 
A true marriage is the best thing in the earthly 
order. But it is of the earthly order. The angels 
neither marry nor are given in marriage. We seek 
to be perfect, as we are divinely bidden. If you 
choose to be less than perfect " — 


" There can be no higher choice than love like 
hers. Do you assume" — 

" Nay," said the Shaker, " I assume nothing. 
The time has been when we hoped that Egeria 
might be gathered in. But that time is past. She 
could now never be one of us without suffering that 
we could not ask her to undergo. She must follow 
the leadings of her own heart, now." 

" Why, man, you have no right to say that she 
cares anything for me. It 's atrocious ; it 's " — 

"• We pass no censure upon the feeling between 
you," said Elihu quietly, looking into his hat, as if 
he were about to put it on. " All we ask is that 
you will not let the sight of your affection be a 
snare to those whose faces should be set against 
such things." 

Ford regarded him with a stormy look ; but he 
controlled himself, and asked coldly, " What do you 
wish me to do ?" 

" Nay ; that is for you to decide." 

" Well, I must go away ! " Ford irefully stared 
at the Shaker again. " But how can I go away ? 
If there was ever any reason why I should remain, 
the reason is now stronger than ever." 

" Yee," said Elihu. 

" What shall I do ? If I have not been strong 
enough and honest enough with myself to keep from 
drifting into this — this affair, it is not likely that 
I can get out of it, — I don't want to get out of it! 
Do you suppose that now I have the hope of her I 
wish ta leave her ? Whatever her father's state is, 


and whatever my duty to him is, I am bound to 
stay here for her sake till she sends me away. It 's 
my dut}^ it's my privilege." 

Elihu was not visibly swept from his feet by this 
lover's-logic. He said gravely, " Now you consult 
your inclination rather than your sense of duty. 
Friend Boynton and his daughter are here by vir- 
tue of the charity we use towards all " — 

" You shall be paid every cent ! " cried Ford im- 

" Nay, I did n't boast," said the Shaker, with a 
gentle reproof in his tone, which put the young man 
to shame, " and I did n't merit this return from you. 
I merely stated a fact. You are yourself here by 
our concession as their friend. I have opened our 
mind to you upon this matter, and you know just 
how we feel. Farewell." 


In his preoccupation Ford let Elihu find Lis way 
out, and heard him stumbling and groping about 
for the outer door in the dark. All night the 
words and circumstances of the interview burned in 
his heart, and his face was hot with a transport 
half shameful and half sweet. Once he tried to 
think when his old misgivings had vanished, but he 
could not ; he only remembered them to spurn 
them. In the morning he went out for a long walk, 
and visited the places where he had been with her. 
He had a formless fear and hope that he might meet 
her; these conflicting emotions resolved themselves 
into the resignation with which he went to the shop 
where Elihu was at work. 

" I am going away. I have no right to stay 
here ; it 's a violation of your rights, and it 's a prof- 
anation of her. I shall go away, but I shall never 
give up the hope of speaking to her at the right 
time and place, and asking her to be my wife." 

Seeing that he expected an answer, Elihu said, 
" You cannot do less." 

Ford did not quite like the answer. "You don't 
understand. I hope for nothing, — I have no rea- 
son to hope for anything." 


" Nay," said the Sliaker, " I don't understand 
that. Slie is fond of you." 

Ford reddened, but he did not resent the words. 
" What I propose to do now — to-day — is to go 
away, and to come back from time to time, with 
your leave, and see how Dr. Boynton is doing. I 
should like some of you to write to me, — I should 
like to write to her. Would you have any objec- 
tion to that ? You don't object to the fact, but to 
the appearance in this — affair, as I understand. 
The letters could come under cover to Sister Fran- 
ces," he submissively suggested. 

" Nay," answered the Shaker, after deliberation, 
" I don't see how we could object to that." 

" Thanks," said Ford, with a nervous sigh. " I 
hope you will feel it riglit that I should see Dr. 
Wilson, and ask his opinion of Dr. Boynton's con- 
dition, before I go ? " 

"Yee. There is Dr. Wilson, now." Elihu 
leaned out and beckoned to him, and the doctor, 
who was turning away from the office gate, stopped 
his horse in the middle of the street. " You can 
ask him now ; he has just seen Friend Boynton." 
Elihu delicately refrained from joining Ford in go- 
ing to speak with the doctor. 

"I have to go away for a while," said the young 
man, abruptly, " and I wanted to ask you whether 
there is any immediate danger in Dr. Boynton's 
case to prevent my going. I shouldn't like to 
leave him at a critical moment." 

" No," said the doctor, with the slowness of his 


thought. " It 's one of tliose obscure cases. I find 
him very well, — very well, indeed, considering. 
It 's the nature of his disease to make this sort of 
pause. It 's often a very long pause." 

Ford went back to Elihu, whom he found quietly 
at work again. " He says there 's no reason why I 
should n't go," he reported, with the excitement of 
a new purpose in his face. He waited a moment 
before he added, "I must go and tell Dr. Boynton, 
now. I confess I don't know exactly how to do it." 

" Yee, it will be quite a little cross," Elihu ad- 

" Do you think," asked Ford, after a moment's 
abstraction, " that there would be anything wrong 
in speaking to him about — what we have spoken 

" Nay," said Elihu. " I was thinking that per- 
haps you might like to do that. It would set his 
mind at rest, perhaps." 

"Thank you," said Ford, but he bit his nail in 
perplexit}^ and hesitation. 

" I presume that will be quite a cross, too," 
added Elihu, quaintly. 

Ford stared at him without perceiving his jest. 
" I suppose you don't know what you 've done in 
giving me the sort of hope you have I If you have 
mocked a drowning man with a straw " — 

Rapt as he was in his own thoughts, when he 
entered the sick man's room he could not but be 
aware of some great change in Boynton. When 
they had last seen each other, Boynton had sat up 


in an arm-chair to receive his visitor. No^ lie was 
stretched upon the bed, and he looked very old and 

" Why, the doctor said you were better ! " cried 
the young man. 

" So I am, — or so I was, half an hour ago," re- 
plied Boynton. " I am glad you have come earlj^ 
to-day. I missed you yesterday ; and there is 
something now on which I want the light of your 
clearest judgment. Sit down," he said politely, 
seeing that Ford had remained on foot. 

The young man mechanically drew up a chair, 
and sat facing him. 

" I have heard a story of Agassiz," Boynton said, 
" to the effect that Avlien he had read some book 
wdiolly upsetting a theory he had labored many 
years to establish, he was so glad of the truth that 
his personal defeat was nothing to him. He ex- 
ulted in his loss, because it was the gain of science. 
I have not the magnanimity of Agassiz, I find, 
though I have tried to pursue my inquiries in the 
same spirit of scientific devotion. Perhaps I had a 
great deal more at stake : there is a difference be- 
tween seeking to ascertain some fact of natural sci- 
ence and endeavoring to place beyond question the 
truth of a future existence." 

He plainly expected some sort of acquiescence, 
and Ford cleared his throat to assent to the prepos- 
terous vanity of his speech : " Certainly." 

" You will bear me witness," said Boj-nton, 
" that I have readily, even cheerfully, relinquished 


positions wliich I bad carefully taken and painfully 
built upon, so long as their loss did not lead to 
doubt of this great truth, — did not weaken the cit- 
adel, so to speak." 

" Yes," said Ford, with blank expectancy. 

" You know I have rested my hopes upon a 
power, which I believed my daughter to possess, of 
communicating with the world of spirits ? " 

" Yes." 

" You remember that I abandoned without a 
murmur the hypothesis of your adverse control 
when that was no longer tenable ? " 

He was so anxious for Ford's explicit assent that 
the young man again answered, " Yes." 

" And when I was forced to accept the conclu- 
sion that her power was limited by a certain nerv- 
ous condition, and had forever passed away with 
her restoration to complete health, did you find 
any childish disposition in me to shrink from the 

" No," said Ford, " I did not." 

" I thank you I " cried Boynton. " These succes- 
sive strokes, hard as they were to bear, had nothing 
mortal to my hopes in them. Now, I have had my 
death-blow." Ford began a kindly dissent; but 
Boynton waved him to silence. " Unless your 
trained eye can see some way out of the conclusions 
to which I am now brought, I must give up the 
whole hypothesis of communion with disembodied 
life, and with that hypothesis my belief in that life 
itself. In other words, I have received my death- 


No doubt Boynton^still enjoyed his own rhetoric, 
and had a measurable consolation in his powers of 
gi'iiphic statement; but there was a real passion in 
his words, and the young man was moved by the 
presence of a veritable despair. " What facts, or 
reasons, have brought you to your conclusions ? " 
he asked. 

Boynton pushed his hand up under his pillow, 
and drew out an old copy of a magazine. " Here 
is what might have saved me years of research and 
of hopes as futile as those of the seekers for the 
philosopher's stone, if I had seen it in time." 
Though he laid the book on the coverlet, he kept 
his hand on it, and had evidently no intention that 
Ford should look at it for himself. "There is a 
paper in this magazine giving an account of a girl, 
in this very region, possessing powers so identical 
in all essentials with those of my daughter that 
there can be no doubt of their common origin. 
Wherever this unhappy creature appeared the 
most extraordinary phenomena attended her : raps 
were evoked ; tables were moved ; bells were rung ; 
flashes of light were seen ; and violent explosions 
were heard. The writer was not blinded by the 
fool's faith that lured me on. He sought a natural 
cause for these unnatural effects, and he found that 
by insulating the posts of the girl's bedstead — for 
these things mostly occurred during her sleep — he 
controlled them perfectly. She was simply sur- 
charged with electricity. After a while she fell 
into a long sickness, from which she imperfectly re- 


covered, and she died in a mad-house." Boynton 
removed his hand from the magazine, as if to let 
Ford now see for himself, and impressively waited 
his movement. 

" Excuse me," said the young man, who found 
the parallel extremely distasteful, " but I don't 
see the identity of the cases. Miss Boynton seems 
the perfection of health, and " — 

" Yes," interrupted Boynton, " there is that 
merciful difference. But I cannot base my self- 
forgiveness upon that. So far as my recklessness 
is concerned, her health and her sanity might 
have been sacrificed where her childhood has been 
wasted and her happiness destroyed. Poor girl ! 
Poor girl ! " 

" I think you exaggerate," Ford began, but 
Boynton interrupted him : — 

" Oh, you don't know, you don't know ! I 
could n't exaggerate the sum of her sufferings at 
my hands. To be wrenched from a home in which 
she was simply happy, and from love that was im- 
measurably wiser and more unselfish than mine ; to 
be thrust on to the public exhibition of abnormal 
conditions that puzzled and terrified her ; to be 
made the partner of my defeat and shame ; to be 
forced to share my aimless vagabondage and abject 
poverty, houseless, friendless, exposed to suspicion 
and insult and danger, — that is the fate to which 
I brought her ; and for what ? For a delusion that 
ends in chaos 1 Oh, my God ! And here I lie at 
last, a sick beggar, sheltered by the charity of these 


Shakers, whose kindness I have insulted, and a sor- 
row and shame to the child whose young life I have 
blighted, — here I lie, stripped to the last shred of 
hope in anything, here or hereafter. Oh, 3'oung 
man ! I once thought that you were hard upon me, 
and I resented the blame you spoke as outrage ; but 
now I confess it merciful justice. You have your 
triumph ! " 

" Don't say that ! " cried Ford. " I never was 
more ashamed of what I said to you there in Boston 
than I am at this moment, and I never felt the need 
of your kindness so much. I believe that if Miss 
Bojniton were here, and understood it all, she would 
feel nothing but pity " — 

" Oh, does that make it different ? Does that 
right the wrong which has been done? " 

" Yes," cried the young man, with a fervor that 
came he knew not how or whence, " forgiveness 
does somehow right a wrong ! It must be so, or 
else this world is not a world of possibilities and re- 
coveries, but a hopeless hell. Why, look ! " He 
spoke as if Egeria were before them. " Have you 
ever seen her stronger, younger, more " — The 
image he had conjured up seemed to shine upon him 
with a smile that reflected itself upon his lips, and 
a thrill of tenderness passed through him. " No 
one could do her harm that her own goodness 
could n't repair." 

Boynton was not one to refuse the comfort of 
such rapture. " Yes, you are right. She is un- 
harmed by all that she has suffered. I have at 


least that comfort." Then he underwent a quick 
relapse. " But whether I have harmed her or not, 
the fact remains that she had never any supernat- 
ural power, and I return through all my years of 
experiment and research to the old ground, — the 
ground which I once occupied, and which you have 
never left, — the ground of materialism. It is 
doubtless well to have something under the foot, if 
it is only a lump of lifeless adamant." 

" I find it hard not to imagine something better 
than this life when I think of Miss Boynton ! " ex- 
claimed Ford impetuously. 

" Very true," said the doctor, accepting the tribute 
without perceiving the passion in it ; " there has al- 
ways been that suggestion of diviner goodness in her 
loving, self-devoted nature. But she had no more 
supernatui'al power than you or I, and the whole 
system of belief which I had built upon the hypoth- 
esis of its existence in her lies a heap of rubbish. 
And here at death's door I am without a sense of 
anything but darkness and the void beyond." A si- 
lence ensued, which Boynton broke with a startling 
appeal : " In the name of God, — in the name of 
whatever is better and greater than ourselves, — 
give me some hope ! Speak ! Say something from 
your vantage-ground of health and strength ! Let 
me have some hope. I am not a coward. I am 
not afraid of torment. I should not be afraid of 
it if I had ever willed wrong to any living creat- 
ure, and I know that I have not. But this dark- 
ness rushing back upon me, after years of faith 


and surety — it 's unendurable I Give me some hope ! 
A word comes from you at times that does not 
seem of your own authority : speak ! Say it ! " 

" You have the hope that the world has had for 
eighteen hundred years," answered Ford, deeply 

" Was that first in j^our thoughts ? " Boynton 
swiftly rejoined. " Was it all you could think of ? " 

" It was first in my thoughts, it was all I could 
think of," repeated Ford. 

" But you have rejected that hope." 

" It left me. It seemed to have left me. I don't 
realize it now as a faith, but I realize that it was 
always present somewhere in me. It may be dif- 
ferent with those who come after us, to whom it 
will never have been imparted ; but we who were 
born in it, — how can we help it, how can we es- 
cape it?" 

" Is that really true ? " mused Boynton aloud. 
" Do we come back only to that at last ? Have you 
ever spoken with a clergyman about it ? " 

" Oh, no ! " cried Ford. 

" I should like to talk with a clergyman — I 
should like to talk with the church about it ! There 
must be something in organization — But it is of 
no use, now ! Theories, theories, theories ! A thou- 
sand formulas repeat themselves to me ; the air is 
full of them ; I can read and hear them." He put 
his hands under his head and clasped them there. 
" And there is absolutely nothing else but that ? 
Nothing in science ? " 


" No." 

" Nothing of hope in the new metaphysics ? " 

" No, nothing." 

" Nothing in the philosophy that applies the 
theories of science to the moral world ? " 

" Nothing but death." 

" Then that is the only hope, —that old story of 
a credulous and fabulous time, resting upon hearsay 
and the witness of the ignorant, the pedantic wis- 
dom of the learned, the interest of a church lustful 
of power ; and that allegory of the highest serving 
the lowest, the best suffering for the worst, — that 
is still the world's only hope I " He paused; and 
then he recurred to the thought which he had 
dropped: "A clergyman, — a priest! — I should 
like to know the feelings of such a man. He fulfills 
an office with which his order has been clothed for 
two thousand years; he bears the tradition of au- 
thority which is as old as the human race ; he 
claims to derive from Christ himself the touch of 
blessing and of healing for the broken spirit. I 
have of t^n thought of that, — what a sacred and 
awful commission it must be, if we admit its divine 
origin ! Yes, I should like to know the feelings of 
such a man. I wonder if he feels his authority per- 
petually reconsecrated by the anguish, the fears, 
the prayers, the trembling hopes, of all those who 
have lain upon beds of death, or wept over them ! 
Poor human soul, it should make him superhuman ! 
What a vast cumulative power of consolation must 
come to a priest in our time ! He is the church in- 


carnate, the vicar of Christ, the helpful brother 
of the helpless human race, — it 's a tremendous 
thought. I should like to talk with such a man." 

" Would you really like to see a minister ? " 
asked Ford. " Because " — 

" No, — no," said BojTiton. " At least, not now, 
not yet ; not till I have clearly formulated my ideas. 
But there are certainly some points that I should 
like to discuss — Oh, words, words ! Phrases, 
phrases, — this glibness tires me to death ! I can't 
get any foot-hold on it — I slip on it as if it were 
ice." He lay in a silence which Ford did not in- 
terrupt, and which he broke himself at last in a 
mood of something like philosophical cheerfulness : 
" I can find reason, if not consolation, for my fail- 
ure, — reason in the physical world. I shall take 
the first opportunity of committing my ideas to 
paper. Has it never struck you as very extraordi- 
nary that all the vast mass of evidence which has 
been accumulating in favor of spiritualism for the 
last twenty years, until now it is literally immense, 
should have no convincing power whatever with 
those who have not been convinced by their own 
senses ? Why should I, as soon as personal proof 
failed me, instantly lapse from faith in it ? " 

" I am afraid," Ford said, " that I have not 
thought sufficiently about the matter." 

" I believe I can explain why," Bojmton contin- 
ued. " It is because it is not spiritualism at all, 
but materialism, — a grosser materialism than that 
which denies ; a materialism that asserts and af- 


firms, and appeals for proof to purely physical 
phenomena. All other systems of belief, all other 
revelations of the unseen world, have supplied a 
rule of life, have been given for our use here. But 
this offers nothing but the barren fact that we live 
again. If it has had any effect upon morals, it has 
been to corrupt them. I cannot see how it is bet- 
ter in its effect upon this woi'ld than sheer atheism. 
It is as thoroughly godless as atlieism itself, and no 
man can accept it upon any other man's word, be- 
cause it has not yet shown its truth in the amelio- 
rated life of men. It leaves them where it found 
them, or else a little worse for the conceit with which 
it fills them. Yes, yes ; I see now. I see it all." 

The vigor of his speculative power buoyed him 
triumphantly above the abyss into which other men 
would have sunk. Ford listened with the fascina- 
tion which the peculiar workings of Boynton's mind 
had always had for him, and lie felt his heart warm 
towards him with sympathy that was at once re- 
spectful and amused, as he thus constructed a new 
theory out of the ruin of all his old theories. 

" All the research in that direction," Boynton 
presently continued, " has been upon a false basis, 
and if anything has been granted it has been in 
mockery of an unworthy hope. I wonder that I 
was never struck before by that element of derision 
in it. The Calvinist gets Calvinism, the Unitarian 
Unitarianism ; each carries away from communion 
with spirits the things that he brought. If men 
live again, it has been found that they live only in 


a frivolous tradition of their life in this world. Poor 
creatures ! they seem lamed of half themselves, — 
the better half that aspires and advances ; they 
hover in a dull stagnation, just above this ball of 
mire ; they have nothing to tell us ; they bring us 
no comfort and no wisdom. Annihilation is better 
than such an immortality ! " 

Ford saw that Boynton did not expect any com- 
ment from him, and he did not interrupt his mono- 
logue. " What I ought to have asked was not 
whether there was a life hereafter, but whether 
there was a life hereafter worth living. I stopped 
short of the vital question. 1 fancied that it was 
essential to men to know surely that they should 
live again ; but now I recognize that it is not es- 
sential in itself." He lay musing a while, and then 
resumed, " I had got them to bring me a Bible be- 
fore you came in. I wanted to consult it upon a 
point raised by Elihu, yesterday. There are a 
great many new ideas in the Bible," he added, 
simply ; " a great many new ideas in Job, and Da- 
vid, and Ecclesiastes, and Paul, — a great many in 
Paul. Would you mind handing it to me from the 
table ? Oh, thanks ! " he said, as he took the vol- 
ume which Ford rose to give him. " This old record, 
which keeps the veil drawn so close, and lets the 
light I wanted glimmer out so sparely in a few 
promises and warnings, against the agonized pas- 
sion of the Cross, or flings the curtain wide lapon 
the sublime darkness of the Apocalypse, is very 
clear upon this point. It tells us that we shall live 


hereafter in the blessing of our good will and the 
curse of our evil will ; the question whether we 
shall live at all is left in abeyance, as if it were too 
trivial for affirmation. What a force it has, as it 
all comes back ! I seem to have thonacht of it for 
the first time. And what a proof of its truth there 
is in our experience here ! We shall reap as we 
have sown, and so much is sown which we cannot 
reap here — And if I should be doomed to spend 
eternity in asking whether I be really alive ! No, 
no; God doesn't make a jest of us." He turned 
to Ford. " I am curious," he said, " to know how 
this strikes you, as you sit here in the full possession 
of your powers. I know very well, and you know, 
how men in their extremity are apt to turn back to 
the faith taught them at their mother's knees ; and 
pei-haps the common experience is repeating itself 
in my case. But you are in no such extremity. 
Does there seem to be any truth here ? " He laid 
his hand on the book, and looked intently at Ford. 

" It seems to be all the truth of the sort that 
there is." 

" What do you mean by that ? " asked Boynton. 

"I express myself badly. But it's hard to ex- 
press yourself well on this matter. I mean to say 
that whatever truth there was in that record has not 
been surpassed or superseded." 

" And is that all you have to say ? " 

" That 's all I could say till I had looked into 
the question. It seems to me that it is all any one 

could say." 



" No doubt," said Boynton, with disappointment, 
" from your stand-point, — from the scientific stand- 
point. You say that there is nothing else, but you 
imply that this is not much." 

" No," said Ford, " I think it 's a great deal. I 
think it ought to be enough, if one cares " — 

" That 's the scientific attitude ! " cried Boynton ; 
" that 's the curse of the scientific attitude ! You 
do not deny, but you ask, ' What difference ?' " 

" At least," said Ford, with a smile, " you can let 
even such a poor representative of the scientific side 
as 1 am be glad that you see the fallacy of spiritual- 

" Oh, I don't pronounce it a fallacy," returned 
Boynton. " I only say that it has proved fallacious 
in my hands, and that as long as it is used merely 
to establish the fact of a future life it will remain 
sterile. It will continue to be doubted, like a con- 
jurer's trick, by all who have not seen it ; and those 
who see it will afterwards come to discredit their 
own senses. The world has been mocked with 
something of the kind from the beginning ; it 's no 
new thing. Perhaps the hope of absolute assurance 
is given us only to be broken for our rebuke. Life 
is not so long at the longest that we need be impa- 
tient. If we wake, we shall know ; if we do not 
wake, we shall not even know that we have not 
awakened." He added, " It is very curious, very 
strange, indeed, but the only thing that I have got 
by all this research is the one great thing which it 
never included, — which all research of the kind 


Ford perceived that he wished him to ask what 
this was, and he said, " What is that ? " 

"God," replied Boynton. "It may be through 
an instinctive piety that we forbear to inquire con- 
cerning him of those earth-bound spirits. What 
could the}^ know of him ? Many pure and simple 
souls in this world must be infinitely nearer him. 
But out of all that chaos I have reached him. No, 
I am not where I started : I have come in sight of 
him. I was anxious to know whether we should 
live hereafter ; but whether we live or not, now I 
know that he lives, and he will take care. We 
need not be troubled. As for the dead, perhaps 
we shall go to them, but surely they shall not re- 
turn to us. That seems true, does n't it ? " 

" It 's all the truth there is," said Ford. 

Boynton smiled. " You are an honest man. 
You won't say more than you think. I like you 
for that. I have a great wish to ask your forgive- 

" My forgiveness ? I have nothing to forgive ! " 

" Oh, yes. I involved you in the destiny of a 
mistaken and willful man ; I afflicted you with the 
superstitious manias of a lunatic who fancied that 
he was seeking the truth when he w^as only seek- 
ing himself. I have burdened you with a sense of 
my wish that you should stay here, because I still 
hoped to work out something to my own glor}^ and 
advantage " — 

" I never knew it ; I can't think it," interrupted 
Ford. "It was my privilege to stay. These have 


been the best days of my life, — the happiest." 
He stopped ; he believed that Boynton must know 
the meaning that rushed from his heart into the 
words ; but the old man evidently found only a 
conventional kindliness in them. 

" Thank you," he said. " It is very strange to 
find 3'ou my friend after all, and to meet you on 
common ground, — I who have wandered so far 
round, and you who have continued forward with 
none of my aims. It would be interesting if a 
third could stand with us. I should like to see how 
far a minister of the gospel could come towards 
us. I should like to talk with a minister : not 
a theologian, but an ecclesiastic, — some one who 
embodied and represented the idea of a church." 

" Do you mean a Catholic priest ? " asked Ford. 

"No, not that, — not just that; but still some 
one in whom the priestly character prevailed." 

" I will be glad to gratify any wish you have in 
the matter, Dr. Boynton," said Ford. " I imagine 
it would be easy to get a clergyman to visit you 
from the village, and I '11 go to any one you want 
to see." 

" Well, not now, — not now. Not to-day. Per- 
haps to-morrow. I should like to think it over 
first. I may have some new light by that time. 
I should like to look up some other points, here. 
There is a text somewhere in Paul — it is a long 
time since I read it — Wait ! ' We are saved by 
hope. But hope that is seen ' — that is seen — ' is 
not hope; for what a man seeth' — Very signifi- 
cant, very significant ! " he added, more to himself 


than to Ford. " Saved! Really, there seems to have 
been no question with them about tlie mere exist- 
ence ! " He lay quiet for a long time, with his 
hands folded behind his head, and a dreamy light 
was in his eyes. Ford heard the ticking of an insect 
in the wainscot. " Who is it," Boynton asked sud- 
denly, " that speaks of the undiscovered country ? " 

" Hamlet," replied Ford. 

" It might have been Job, — it might have been 
Ecclesiastes, — or David. ' The undiscovered coun- 
try from whose bourn no traveler returns.' Is that 

" Yes. They commonly misquote it," added 
Ford mechanically. 

" I know ; they leave out bourn. They say, the 
undiscovered country whence no traveler returns. 
But it 's the same thing. Yes ; and Hamlet says 
no traveler returns, when he believes that he has 
just seen his father's spirit ! The ghost that comes 
back to prove itself can't hold him to a belief in its 
presence after the heated moment of vision is past ! 
We vmst doubt it ; we are better with no proof. 
Yes ; yes ! The undiscovered country — thank God, 
it can be what those babblers say ! TJie undiscov- 
ered country — what a weight of doom is in the 
words — and hope ! " 

One of the sisters came in, and he seemed to for- 
get Ford, who presently went away with an absent- 
minded salutation from hira. Boynton had taken 
up the book, and while the sister propped his head 
with the pillows, he fluttered the leaves with impa- 
tient hands. 


At the gate Ford turned towards Elihu's shop, 
intending to explain why he had not been able to 
speak of Egeria to her father. In his liberation 
from Boynton's appeals for sympathy, his thoughts 
thronged back to her; he framed a thousand 
happy phrases, in which he opened his heart, and 
she always answered as he wished. His face 
burned with the joyful shame of these thoughts, 
and he did not hear his name the first time it was 
called from a buggy standing at the office gate. 
The gay voices had hailed him a third time when 
he looked round, and slowly recognized Phillips 
and Mrs. Perham making frantic signs to him 
from the vehicle. They laughed at his stupefac- 
tion, and his sense of their intrusion mounted as he 
dragged himself across the street. Mrs. Perham 
leant out of the buggy and gave him her hand. 

" Well, Mr. Ford ! Is this the way you receive 
your friends ? We have been chasing all over this 
outlandish place for jou ; we have spent an hour 
with the sisters here, and have questioned them 
down to the quick, so that we know all about you ; 
and we were just going to drive away in despair 
without seeing you." 


" I 'm very unfortunate," said Ford. 

" To be caught at the last moment? Hovr good 
you always are ! You don't know how I 've pined 
for your little speeches ; they 're tonic. Yes, Mr.. 
Ford ! " she cried, with a daring laugh, " Mr. Per- 
hani is veri/ well, for him, — I knew you were 
going to ask ! — or I should n't be philandering 
about the countiy in this way." Ford glanced at 
Phillips, who trifled with the reins and looked 

" You should have gone over to Egerton before 
this, my dear fellow," he said. " There have been 
some charming people over there." 

" Have been ! His modesty," cried Mrs. Perham, 
" and my humility ! We are at Egerton yet, Mr, 

" Oh, certainly. But Foi'd has us in Boston." 

" Ah, very true," said Mrs. Perham. " There 
was quite a little buzz of excitement for a while, 
when Mr. Phillips first explained the romantic cir- 
cumstances. The young ladies drove over the next 
Sunday to Shaker meeting, on purpose to interview 
you, but they had n't the courage. It was one of 
Mr. Perham's bad days, or I should have come, 
too ; and we should have sent Mr. Phillips over 
long ago, if there had been any Mr. Phillips to 
send. But he 's only just got back to Egerton." 

" Yes, my dear fellow, I carried out our little 
programme to the letter, — I wish I could say to 
the spirit ; but your defection prevented. I found 
Butler at Egerton, and he jumjjed at the chance of 


driving on with me, in a manner that made your 
flattering consent seem nothing. We drove to 
Greenfield, and then followed up the valley of the 
Connecticut. It was indescribable, my dear friend. 
You have lost no end of material. I must really 
try to reproduce it for you some time. I thought 
of you often. I was always saying, ' Now, if Ford 
were here ! ' Two or three times I was actually on 
the point of writing to you. But you know how 
that is ; you never wrote to me. I 'm ver}^ glad to 
hear from our sisters, here, that the old gentleman 
is better. Is he still in his craze ? " Phillips spoke 
with anxious rapidity, and with a certain propitia- 
tion of manner ; bat Ford did not relax the dis- 
pleasure of the looks with which he had heard of 
his explanation of the romantic circumstances. 

" You ought to get something out of him ; you 
ought to write him up ; he 'd make a capital paper," 
said Mrs. Perham. " I shall be on the lookout for 
him in your articles. And your Shaker experi- 
ences ! The young ladies were sure you had turned 
Shaker, Mr. Ford, and they picked you out in the 
dance. We had such fun over it ! " She continued, 
pulling down the corners of her mouth, " Oh, but 
we were all very respectful^ Mr. Ford. We admired 
your self-devotion in staying here ; especially, as 
you could n't esteem them." 

" I don't know what you mean," began Ford, 
with a sternness that would have silenced a less 
frivolous spirit. 

" Why, have n't you heard ? " cried Mrs. Perham, 


leaning forward, and dropping her tone confiden- 
tially, while Phillips made some inarticulate at- 
tempts to hinder her speaking. " The poor old 
gentleman was quite tipsy that morning when they 
stopped up there at that country hotel, and they 
had to be turned out-of-doors. Is it possible you 
have n't heard that ? " 

" Yes, I 've heard that," said Ford. 

"I always said," continued Mrs. Perham, "it 
was cruel to the girl; for she was n't responsible for 
her father's habits, poor thing. Then of course you 
don't believe it ? " 

" No ! " 

" And you believe that all those manifestations 
took place there?" 

" No ! " 

" An armed neutrality ! Well, it 's the only ten- 
able position, and I shall take it myself in regard 
to the otlier affair. I never thought how conven- 
ient it must be." 

Phillips found his voice : " Mrs. Perham, it 's de- 
lightful chatting here ; but I have to remind you 
that we shall be late for dinner if we stay any 

" Oh, that 's true," admitted Mrs. Perham. 
" Good-by, Mr. Ford. Do come over and see us, if 
you can tear yourself away from your protdges for 
a few hours. It 's very strange, his lingering along 
so ! Good-by ! " 

" Good-by, my dear friend ! " said Phillips, try- 
ing to throw some exculpation into his aflflicted face. 


" I am going back to Boston at the end of the week. 
Can I do anything for you there ? " He did not 
wait for an answer, but lifted the reins and chir- 
ruped to his horse. 

Ford caught tlie wheel in his hand, and stopped 
it. " Hold on ! " he said, quite white in the face. 
" What other affair, j\Irs. Perham ? " 

" Other affair ? " she repeated. " Oh ! about the 
water-proof, you know." 

" No, I dan't know about the water-proof. What 
do you mean ? " 

" Is it possible the Shakers have n't told you ? 
Perhaps they didn't think it worth mentioning. 
You know your friends — I forget the name ; 
Boyntons ? — had passed the night before they 
reached the Elm Tavern in a school-house up here ; 
and the teacher found them there in the morning, 
and lent the young lady her water-proof. They were 
to send it back from Vardley Station ; but as they 
never went to Vardley Station they naturally never 
sent it back." 

" I don't believe it ! " cried Ford. 

"Mr. Phillips always told me you were a terrible 
skeptic ! " said Mrs. Perham. " I merelj'- had the 
story from the mother of the school-teacher, her- 
self ! We happened to stop at .her house to ask 
the way, and when we inquired if the Bojaitons 
were still here she came out with this story. She 's 
a very voluble old lady. I dare say she tells it to 
every one. What is your theory about it? " 

Ford released the wheel which he had been grip- 


ping, and, giving it a contemptuous push, turned 
away without a word. 

Mrs. Perham craned her head round to look back 
after him. " What a natural man ! " she said, with 
sincere admiration. " He 's perfectly fascinating." 
She burst into a laugh. " Poor Mr. Phillips ! He 
looked as if he wished you had been my authority." 

Phillips shrugged his shoulders, and said dryly, 
" I hope you are satisfied, Mrs. Perham." 

" Why, no, I am not," she candidly owned, with 
a touch of real regret in her voice. " I only meant 
to tease him ; but if he 's in love with her, I sup- 
pose he '11 take it to heart." 

" In love with whom ? " asked Phillips. 

" Sister Diantha." 

Phillips stared at her. 

"Well, with this medium, then, — this Medea, 
Ashtaroth, Egeria, — / don't know what her name 
is." As Phillips continued to stare at her, Mrs. 
Perham gave a shriller laugh. " Really, you are 
a man, too. I shall never dare take on such easy 
terms with you again, Mr. Phillips, — never ! I 
don't wonder men can't understand women : they 
don't understand their own simple sex. Of course 
he 's in love with her, and must have been from 
the first." 

i' Well, then, allow me to say, INIrs. Perliam, that 
if you think he 's in love with Miss Boynton I don't 
quite see what your object was. I felt that it was 
an intrusion to come over here, at the best." 

" Oh, thanks, Mr. Phillips ! " 


" And it appears to me that it was extraneous to 
repeat those stories to him." 

" Extraneous is good ! And you have an ally in 
my own conscience, Mr. Phillips. I wanted to 
see a natural man under the influence of a strong 
emotion, and I don't like it, I think. I did n't sup- 
pose he was so serious about her. But I don't be- 
lieve any harm 's done. He won't give her up on 
account of what I 've said ; and if he does perhaps 
she ought to be given up." Phillips dealt the horse 
a cut of the whip, and left the talk to Mrs. Perham, 
as they drove away. 

In the dull first half -hour after dinner, while she 
sat absently feeling on the porcelain-toned piano in 
the hotel parlor for the music of the past, two ladies 
who wished to see her were announced. One of 
these visitors proved to be a Shaker sister, whom 
Mrs. Perham recognized, and who introduced her 
companion, a short, squarely built young woman, as 
Miss Thorn. 

They took seats, though Mrs. Perham had risen 
and remained standing, and Miss Thorn said with- 
out preamble, " I teach in the school-house in Vard- 
ley, where Dr. Boynton stopped this spring. I 
heard from my mother this noon that a lady and 
gentleman had been asking the way to the Shaker 
Village, who seemed to know Dr. Boynton." 

"No, I don't know him," said Mrs. Perham. 

Phillips came forward, from a corner of the par- 
lor. " I know Dr. Boynton ; at least I saw him 
and Miss Boynton in Boston once." 


" I thought," said Miss Thorn, " that I ought to 
come and tell you that my mother did n't under- 
stand about that — that water-proof." 

" Oh, yes," said Mrs. Perham ; "we thought it 
so curious." 

" I was sure," said Phillips, with an attempted 
severity, " that there was some mistake." The se- 
verity had no apparent effect upon Mrs. Perham, 
but Miss Thorn, who had been talking in some sort 
to both, now addressed herself wholly to him : — 

" I was away from home when you stopped to- 
day. I thought you would like to know there was 
a misunderstanding. The water-proof was as much 
a gift as anything ; though that would n't have ex- 
cused them if they had thought I wanted it again. 
But anybody could see that Miss Boynton was 
stupid then with the fever, and did n't half know 
where she was or what she was doing. She had 
been walking late the night before through the 
snow, and they had slept on the benches before the 
stove." Phillips bowed, and looked at Miss Thorn, 
who resumed with increasing stiffness : "I never 
wondered at his not remembering it ; he seemed too 
flighty for anything. I knew they were here all 
summer at the Shakers'. I don't," said Miss Thorn, 
" pass any judgment on my mother for the way she 
looked at it ; but I 'd have given anything if she 
hadn't spoken." The tears started to her eyes, 
and she bit her lip as she rose. 

" It did n't make any difference to us," said Di- 
antha, who had hitherto sat a silent and inscrutable 


glimmer of spectacles in the depths of her Shaker 
bonnet. " It got hung up among our things while 
she was sick, and when she got well she could n't 
seem to remember about it. She thought she must 
have brought it from the cars with her for her 

Miss Thorn waited, and then resumed stiffly, "I 
never suspected or blamed them the least bit. As 
soon as I could, I went over to the Shakers' to see 
about it, and told them the way I felt, and that 
I wanted to come to you. Diantha felt as if she 
would like to come with me, and I brought her. 
That's all." Miss Thorn rose with a personal prim- 
ness that by contrast almost softened the Shaker 
primness of Diantha into ceremony. 

Phillips experienced the rush of an emotion which, 
upon subsequent analysis, he knew to be of unques- 
tionable genuineness. " My dear young ladj^" he 
said, "I ask you to do me the justice to believe 
that I never had an injui'ious suspicion of Miss 
Boyntdn. Her father had attempted a line of life 
that naturally subjected himself and her to ques- 
tion, but I never doubted them. I have a positive 
pleasure in disbelieving anything to their disadvan- 
tage in connection with — with — your generous 
behavior to them. Did — did Mr. Ford speak of 
the matter to you ? Did he wish any expression 
from me in their behalf ? Because " — 

" He no need to ask anything as far as ive 're 
concerned," interposed Diantha. 

" No," said Phillips. " I can only repeat that J 


was sure there was a misunderstanding, and that 
you 've done us a favor in coming. Is there any- 
way in which I could be of use to Dr. Boynton ? 
I should be most happy if I thought there was." 

Miss Thorn left the reply to Diantha, who said 
as they went out, " There ain't anything as I know 

" Really," commented Mrs. Perham, "this is ed- 
ifying. I have n't felt so put down for a long while. 
I don't see what more we could do, unless we joined 
with Miss Thorn and Sister Diantha in presenting 
Miss Boynton with a piece of plate, as a slight 
token of gratitude for her noble example in borrow- 
ing a water-proof and keeping it. She has classed 
the water-proof with the umbrella, as a thing not 
to be returned. Is that the principle? Well, if 
Mr. Ford is going to many her " — 

" Going to marry her ! " cried Phillips. 

"Why, of course. Did you think anything else ? 
Is marriage such an nnnatural thing ? " 

" No. But Ford's marrying is." 

" That remains to be seen. If he 's going to 
marry her, he can't believe in her too thoroughly. 
I 've an idea that the Pythoness is insipid ; but if 
Mr. Ford likes insipidity, I want him to have it. I 
think we ought to drive over to the Shakers', and 
assure him in person that we did n't believe any- 
thing, and we did n't mean anything. You shall 
do all the talking, this time ; you talk so well." 

" Thanks," said Phillips, " I suspect I 've done 
my last talking to Ford." 


" And you won't go ? " demanded Mrs. Perham, 
with a laugh. " Then I must go alone, some day. 
Meantime, I know how to keep a secret. I hope 
Miss Thorn may be able to teach her mother." 


Ford stood still, looking at the ground, while 
Phillips and Mrs. Perham drove away. His im- 
pulse to pluck Phillips from his place, and make 
him pay in person for that woman's malice, was 
still so vividly present in his nerves that he seemed 
to have done it ; but when the misery of Phillips's 
face, intensifying as Mrs. Perham went on from 
bad to worse, recurred to him, he broke into a 

Sister Frances came out of the ojSice. " Friend 
Edward," she said, " was that wicked woman speak- 
in' to you about Egery ? " 

" Yes." 

" Don't you believe her ! Don't you believe a 
word she said!" cried the Shakeress, with hot looks 
of indignation. " I know just how it all hap- 
pened " — 

" I don't wish to know. T should feel disgraced 
if I let you tell me. Whatever happened, this 
woman lied. Where is Egeria ? " 

" Oh ! " cried Frances. " She has gone to Har- 
shire with Rebecca. She won't be back till morn- 
in'." She bent on the young man a look of wistful 



" Well ! " he cried, throwing up his hands des- 
perately, as if the morrow were a time so remote 
that it never would come, " I must wait." 

" She 'd been plannin' to go a long while," 
Frances apologized, " and. her father seemed so well 
this mornin' she thought she might " — 

" Oh, yes, yes ! " ansAvered Ford dejectedly. He 
knew that lie somehow had driven her away by his 
behavior of the day before, and that he had him- 
self to blame for this delay in which he stifled. He 
turned about, with some wild purpose of following 
her to Harshire, and speaking to her there, when 
he heard Frances calling him again : — 

" Friend Edward, I don't know as you know that 
Egery 's expectin' friends to-morrow." 

" Friends ? No, what friends? " asked Ford. " Has 
she gone to meet them at Harshire ? " he added 

" Well, no ; she only got the letter yesterday. I 
suppose her father did n't think to tell you of it. 
I don't know as you ever heard her speak of the 
young man that come with 'em as far as the Junc- 
tion that day they missed their train. He was with 
'em a while in Boston, and he come from the same 
place they did, Down East. He 's been twice to 
find 'em there in Maine, this summer ; but he could 
n't hear any word of 'em till just now. They was 
children together, Egery and. Friend — Well, I 
never could remember names." 

" Oh, never mind ! " exclaimed Ford, with a 
deathly pallor. " I know the name, — I know the 


man ! " And now lie turned again, and huri-ied 
bej'ond a second recall from the trouble in which 
Frances saw him groping down the road, like one 
in the dark. When he had got out of her sight, he 
walked a little into the wayside woods, and stum- 
bling to the ground gave himself to the despair which 
had blackened round him. His first feeling was a 
generous regret that now he could not let his love 
speak the contempt in which he held the wrong he 
had heard done her ; this feeling came even before 
the sense of hopeless loss to which he abandoned 
himself with a lover's rashness. He meekly owned 
that the man whom he marveled now that he could 
ever have forgotten as a rival was one of those in 
whom women confided, and were not disappointed, 
— who made constant friends and good husbands ; 
and questioning himself he could not be sure that 
her happiness would be as safe in his own keeping. 
He remembered with abject humiliation the last 
time he had met this man, and the savagery with 
which he had wreaked upon him the jealousy which 
he would not then admit to himself, and in which 
he had refused to consider even her at his prayer. 
The turmoil went on for hours, but always to this 
effect. The most that he could hope, when he crept 
homeward at dusk, sore as if bruised in body by the 
conflict in his mind, was that he might steal away 
before he saw them together. With this intent, to 
which he had worked with difficulty in the chaos of 
his dreams, he set about putting his books and 
other belongings together, but he gave up tremu- 


lous and exhausted before the work was half done. 
He fell to thinking again, and this time with a 
sort of sullen resentment, in which he said to him- 
self that his love had its own I'ights, and that he 
would not betray them. It had a right to be heard, 
at any cost ; and he began to despise his purpose 
of hurrying away as mock-heroic. It was like a 
character in a lady's novel to leave the field to a 
rival whom he did not yet know to be preferred ; 
the high humility, in which he had thought to yield 
Egeria without her explicit authority to a man 
whom he judged his better, sickened him. He saw 
that it was for her to choose between them, and it 
was the part of a coward and a fool to go before she 
had chosen. As matters stood, he had no right to 
go ; she had a preeminent right to know from him 
that he loved her. 

He hungrily dispatched the supper he had left 
standing on his table, and then kindled a brush- 
wood fire on his hearth ; he sat down before it in 
his easy-chair, and stayed by the clearer mind at 
which he had arrived he experienced a sensual com- 
fort in the blaze. Presently he was aware of drows- 
ing ; and then suddenly he awoke. The dawn came 
in at the windows ; he perceived that he had passed 
the night in his chair. A loud knocking continued 
at his dooi', while he gathered his scattered wits to- 
gether. At length he cried, " Come in ! " and the 
farmer from over the way entered, 

" I don't suppose ye know what 's happened ? " 
he said. 


"No," said Ford, " I don't, if it's anything in 

" No. Well. I thought may be ye 'd like to 
know. The old man 's dead. Died sudden this 
morn in'." 

" What ? Who ? What old man ? " 

The farmer nodded his head in the direction of 
the village. " Dr. Boynton. I thought ye 'd like 
to know it." 

" Thank you," said Ford. He rose and stood 
at one corner of the hearth ; the farmer, from the 
other, stiffly stretched his hard, knotted hand to- 
wards the ashes of the dead fire. 

Ford went out and walked up through the vil- 
lage, whose familiar aspect was all estranged, as if 
he himself had died, and were looking upon it from 
another world. At the office he found a group of 
Shakers listening to Boynton's physician, who, on 
his appearance, addressed more directly to him what 
he was saying of the painless death Boynton must 
have died in his sleep. " The first part of the night 
he was very restless, and several times he said that 
he would like to see you and talk with you ; but 
he would not let them send ; said he had n't for- 
mulated his ideas yet." The doctor involuntarily 
smiled in recalling a turn of the phraseology so 
newly silent forever. " I wonder if he has formu- 
lated them now to his satisfaction." Ford made no 
response, and the doctor asked, " Did he speak to 
you yesterday of the case of an electrical girl ? " 

" Yes." 


" I inferred as mach from something he said, 
when I saw him in the afternoon. I had lent him 
the magazine containing the account. He found 
an analogy between that case and Miss Boynton's 
that I had not anticipated. It seems to have put a 
quietus to his belief in her supernatural gifts." 

" Yes," Ford assented, as before. 

" He told me that it had depressed him to the 
lowest point. But when I saw him he had quite 
recovered his spirits." He added thoughtfully, 
" You can't say that a man dies because he wishes 
to die ; though it sometimes seems as if people 
could live if they would. When I parted with 
Dr. Boynton he had what I might call an enthu- 
siasm for death. It might be described in other 
words as a desire, amounting almost to frenz}^, to 
know whether we live again, and a willingness to 
gratify that desire at the cost of not living at all." 

" He dwelt habitually on that question," said 
Ford, with difficulty. " But when I talked with 
him yesterday, he seemed at rest on the main 

" Yes, I don't know but he was. Perhaps I had 
better say that he was impatient to verify it. He 
talked of nothing else during the evening, Sister 
Frances tells me ; though he fell off quietly to 
sleep at last." 

" Well," said Ford drearily, " he has verified it 

"Yes, and in the old way, — the way appointed 
for all living. He knows now. Did it ever occur 


to you, sir," added the doctor, philosophically, 
" what ignorance all our wisdom is compared with 
the knowledge of a child that has just died ? " 

" If it knows anything at all." 

" Oh, certainly, — if it does know." 

" We are swre it knows," said Elihu. 

They walked out together, and before the doctor 
mounted his buggy to drive away they stood a mo- 
ment looking at the closed windows of the infirm- 
ary. " It 's useless, now, to talk of causes," said 
the doctor. " The heart had been affected a long 
time" — 

" He is dead, all the same," said Ford. 

" Oil, yes, he is dead,'^ assented the doctor. 
" What I meant to say was tiiat while no human 
foresight could have prevented the result I confess 
its suddenness surprised me. One moment he was 
with us, and the next " — 

" He was n't," interrupted Ford, restively. 
" That 's all we can know : and neither he nor all 
the myriads that have gone that way can tell us 
anything more." 

" If we suppose him to be somewhere in a state 
of conscious being," observed the doctor, " we can 
suppose that reflection to be a trial to him, after a 
life so much devoted to the effort of working out 
proof of something different." 

" He had been a spiritualist ; and not a selfish or 
ignoble one," answered Ford, oppressed by the doc- 
tor's speculative mood, and letting his impatience 
appear. A voice was in his ears, repeating the 


things that Boynton had said. In the pauses of it, 
he brooded npon the chances that had thrown upon 
him for sympathy and comfort in his hist days the 
man for whom he had once felt and sliown such 
contempt. The dark irony, the broken meaning, 
afflicted him, and he hirked about, stunned and 
helpless, waiting till Egeria should come, and 
dreading to see the grief in which he had no rights. 
He thought of her trouble, not of his own ; it blot- 
ted even his jealousy from his mind, and left him 
acquiescent in whatever fate befell. The time for 
what he had intended to do was swept away : he 
could now only wait passively for events to shape 

Hatch did not come that day, and Ford took such 
part as Elihu assigned him in the sad business of 
fulfilling Boynton's wishes. These had been casu- 
ally expressed from time to time to Frances, and 
referred to his removal to his old home, where he 
desired to be laid by the side of his wife. When 
Hatch arrived, the second morning, he assumed 
charge of the affair, as a family friend ; and Ford, 
lapsing from all active concern in it, shut himself 
in his own room, and waited for he knew not what. 
In the evening. Hatch came to see him. They had 
already met in the presence of the Shakers, but 
doubtless neither felt that they had met till now, 
since their parting in Boston. Hatch received awk- 
wardly tlie civility which Ford awkwardl}^ showed. 
He would not sit down, and he said abruptly tliat 
he had come to say that Miss Boynton was going 


back in the morning to her home in Maine, where 
the funeral was to be. He added that Frances and 
Ehhu were going with her, on the part of the fam- 
ily ; and after a hesitation he said, " Wouldn't you 
like to attend the funeral, too ? " 

" Has she authorized you to invite me ? " asked 

" Well, no," said Hatch. " I don't suppose she 
Avanted to put that much of a burden on you. It 's 
a long ways." 

Ford reflected a long time. " You are going, I 
suppose ? " 

"• Why, of course," said Hatch. 

Ford pondered again. '^ Under the circum- 
stances," he said, " I believe that I ought n't to let 
my own preference have any weight. Miss Boyn- 
ton is going with friends to her own home, and I 
could n't be of any use. I propose to do what I 
think would be least afflicting to her b}^ not go- 
ing." He hesitated, and presently added, tenta- 
tively, " I believe she would prefer it." 

" You ought to know best," said Hatch. 

" Well, I believe that I am right. Tell her that 
I will not try to see her before she goes ; but — but 
— some other time." He said this tentatively, also, 
and with an odd sort of faltering, as if somehow 
Hatch might advise him better. " I thank you for 

" Well, sir," said the young fellow, standing 
witli his feet squarely apart in the way that Ford 
had hated him for in Mrs. Le Roy's parlor, " you 


must do whiit you think is best. I want to thank 
you^ too. Dr. Boynton was a good friend to me, 
and from all I hear you were a good friend to him, 
— at last. You 've behaved like a man. They all 
say here that the doctor could n't have got along 
without you." 

" They overpraise me," said Ford, helped to a 
melancholy irony by Hatch's simple patronage. 

" No, sir," replied Hatch, " I don't think so. 
And you must have found it pretty tough, feeling 
the way you did about hira." 

" No," said Ford, " it was not so tough as it 
might seem. I liked him. It is n't a logical posi- 
tion ; he never squared with my ideas ; but I know 
now that he was a singularly upright and truthful 

" That 's so, every time," said Hatch. 

" I don't care for my consistency in the thing ; 
I 'd rather do him justice. I 've come to his own 
ground, and yours : I want to say that when I in- 
terfered with him there in Boston lie had a noble 
motive, and I had an ignoble one." 

"If you 're not firing over my head," said Hatch, 
" and if I catch your meaning rightly, I 'm bound 
to confess that the doctor had got mixed up with a 
pretty queer lot in the course of his researches. 
But he was all right himself. I pinned my faith to 
him, right along. But if you mean that you 're 
going in for anything like spiritualism, I advise you 
to hush it up among yourself. As far as I 'm con- 
cerned, I 've about come to that conclusion. And 
I think Miss Egeria 's had enough of it." 


His mention of her name in tliis connection was at 
first puzzling, and at last so offensive to Ford that 
he found it harder than he had thought to say what 
he now said. After a dry assent to Hatch's propo- 
sition, he added, " I dare say you 're right. Mr. 
Hatch, I treated you shabbily when we met last. 
I am sorry for that, and ashamed of it. I should 
have behaved better, if I had understood better" — 

" Oh, I knew how it was, myself," Hatch inter- 
rupted. " Or I did when I came to tliink of it." 
Ford looked at him as if he did not comprehend his 
drift ; and Hatch continued, " It was pretty rough 
at the time, but I suppose I should have acted just 
so, in your place. Well, sir ! I hope we part better 
friends, now," he said, offering his hand. " I think 
that 's what the old doctor would have liked. Some 
of his ideas were most too large a fit for this world, 
but he was pretty practical about others." 

Ford took the proffered hand, and followed 
Hatch to his door, wholly baffled and unsettled. 
He longed to have it all out with him, but this was 
not possible, and he submitted as he best could. 
He had thought himself right in resolving not to 
follow Egeria home, or vex her with his presence 
before she went ; but he was not sure of this now ; 
and he spent the time intervening before her de- 
parture in an anguish of indecision. But he let 
her go without seeing her, and in the afternoon he 
went away, too. 


He did not go back to his old lodging in Boston, 
but spent a day at a hotel till he could find other 
quarters. It was intolerable to think of meeting 
any one he knew, and he had such a horror of Mrs. 
Perham's possible return that he asked at the door 
whether she had come back before he went in to 
make ready for removal. 

When the change was effected, all change seemed 
forever at an end. The days went by without 
event ; he could not write, but he took up again 
his study with the practical chemist, and pushed 
on with that through an unstoried month which 
brought him through the bluster and chill of Sep- 
tember to the mellow heart of October. 

A chasm divided him from all that he had been, 
and he tried to keep from thinking across it. But 
his mind was full of broken glimpses of the past ; 
of doubts of what he had done ; of vague wonder if 
he should ever hear from her again, and how ; of 
crazy purposes, broken as fast as formed, of going 
where he might look on her, if it might be only 
that, and know that she was still in life. There 
were terrible moments in which his heart was 
wrung with the possibility that his conjecture had 


been all wrong, and that she might be lingering in 
cruel amaze that he had never made any sign to 
her, and puzzling over the problem which his re- 
fusal to see her, or to stand with her at her father's 
grave, had left her. 

One evening when he came home, he found a 
flat, square package, which had arrived through 
the mail after going first to his old address. It was 
directed in an old-fashioned, round hand, and it 
yielded softly to the touch with which he fingered 
it before he tore it open. It proved to hold a hand- 
kerchief, which he recognized as his own, fragrantly 
Avashed and ironed ; and he found a little note 
pinned to it, and signed F. Plumb, explaining that 
the handkerchief had been found in his room. 
While he stood scowling at it, and trying to make 
out who F. Plumb was, and where he had left the 
handkerchief, he turned the scrap of paper over, 
and saw written in pencil on the back, as if tlie 
writer had wished to whisper it there, " I do not 
know as you heard that Egeria is back with us. 

Now he knew, now he understood. All the 
hoj)es that had seemed dead sprang to life again. 

He caught up a paper, and looked at the time- 
tables. The last train passing Vardley would leave 
in fifteen minutes. He turned the key in his door, 
and two hours later he was rounding the dark point 
of the wooded hill that intervenes between the 
station and the Shaker village, where a light sparely 
twinkled in the window of Elihu's shop. He had 


walked, as he supposed, but his pace was more like 
a run from the ti-ain; and his heart thundered in 
his ears as he sat and panted on Elihu's door-step, 
trying to gather courage to go in. At last he went 
in without the courage. 

Elihu was amazed, certainly, but hardly dis- 
quieted. He shut upon his thumb the book that 
he was reading, and pushed his spectacles above 
his forehead. " Friend Ford ! " he said. 

" Yes ! " answered the young man, still striving 
for breath, as he pressed the Shaker's hand. " I 
have come — I have come " — 

" Yee," Elihu assented ; " sit down. We did not 
expect you, but the family will be glad to see you. 
Have you kept your health ? " 

" Is she well ? Is she going to stay with 
you ? When did she come back ? " The questions 
thronged upon one another faster than he could 
utter them, and he stopped perforce again. 

" I suppose you mean Egeria. Yee, she is well. 
She came back last week. I — I — wrote to you 
from her place that she was coming back." Elihu 
colored with a guilty conscience. 

" I never got your letter. I only heard two 
hours ago that she was with you." 

" She only stayed to settle up things there. I 
don't know as Humphrey ever told you that her 
grandfather left his property to her ? " 

" I don't know — Yes, yes, — he did." 

" There were n't any of her folks left there, and 
her father had brought her up in such a way, late 


years, that she was pretty much a stranger outside 
of her grandfather's house. When she got back 
there, she found that it was more like home to her 
here than anywhere else. Friend Hatch stayed a 
spell, to help her settle up the property, and then 
he had to go West again. As soon as she could 
she came to us." 

" Elihu," said Ford, who had listened with but 
half a sense, " I have come here to speak to her. 
Shall I do it ? I want you to advise me. I want 
you to tell me " — 

" Nay, I must not meddle or make in this busi- 
ness," said the Shaker. 

" You did meddle and make in it once," retorted 
Ford, unresentfuUy but inflexibly, " and I recog- 
nized your right to do so, from your point of view ; 
I submitted to you. We can't withdraw from each 
other's confidence now. I have a claim upon your 
advice. Besides, in all worldly knowledge that 
comes through acquaintance with women, I am as 
much a Shaker as you are. I only know that I 
must speak with her. If she cares anything for me, 
as you said she did, I must speak. But when ? 
Shall I go away again, and come back after a while ? 
Since we last talked together have you learned any- 
thing that makes you think she would be willing to 
spend her life among you ? If you have, I will 
leave her alone. She could be at peace here ; and 
I, — I have only brought her trouble and sorrow so 
far. Even if she cared for me, I would leave her 
to you — No, I zvouldnH! I couldn't do that! 


By all that a man can be to a woman, I ought n't 
to do it ! But what do you say ? " 

Elihu had tilted his chair upon its hind-legs, and 
he rocked back and forth without bringing its fore- 
legs to the ground. " I have n't seen anything 
in her that would make me think she would like 
to stay with us. And I liave heard that she intends 
to leave us as soon as she can find something to do 
in the world outside. Frances wants she should 
go to friends of hers in Boston that would help 
her find something. The}^ 've been talking about it 
this afternoon, and Egeria's mind seems quite made 
up about going." 

" Well," repeated Ford, " may I speak with 

" I can't answer you. I felt it a cross laid upon 
me to interfere against your showing your feeling 
for her here ; but to interfere in behalf of it is a 
cross which I don't have any call to take up — 

" Can I stay here to-night ? " asked Ford. 

" Yee. They can give you a room at the office." 

" Do you suppose Mrs. Williams could put me 
up some sort of bed in my old place? I would 
rather sleep there." 

" Oh, yee, I guess so. I will step down with 
you and see." 

" No, I '11 go alone. If she can't, I '11 come back 
to the office. Good-night." 

" Good-night," said Elihu, with his flicker of a 


Ford's bed had not been taken down, and while 
the farmer's wife made it ready for him witli fresh 
sheets, he kindled a roaring fire on his hearth. 
He sat a long time before it, turning over and over 
in his mind the same doubt which had tormented 
him when he last sat there. But he could not be- 
lieve that Frances and Elihu would have let him 
come back if there had been any grounds for this 
fear. It had burnt in his heart to ask Elihu, and 
solve it ; but that seemed a sort of cowardice, and 
he had withheld the question. He would not know 
the truth now till he had put his own fate to the 
test, and spoken in defiance of whatever the answer 
might be. 

The next morning he perceived an undercurrent 
of deeply subdued excitement in such of the fam- 
ily as he met at the office, and a sympathy which 
he afterwards remembered with compassion. The 
brothers and sisters all shook hands with him, and, 
refraining from recognition of the suddenness of 
his return, said they were glad to see him back. 
" And that 's more than we can say to some of the 
friends from the world outside ! " exclaimed Di- 
antha, when her turn came. Ford was touched 
by this friendliness ; a man so little used to being 
liked might overvalue it ; but he looked impatiently 
about for Frances, and the sisters knew how to in- 
terpret his glance. 

" She 's gone over to put the infirmary to rights 
a little," Rebecca explained. She added casually, 



" Egery 's over there with her, I guess. She wanted 
to go." 

The sisters decently turned from the door, but 
they stood a Httle way back from the window, and 
looked at him there as he crossed the street. 

The door of the little house stood open, and Ford 
saw Frances within, dusting where there was no 
dust, and vainly rubbing the neat chairs with a 
cloth. The bed where Boynton had lain was dis- 
mantled: it seemed as if he might have risen to 
have it made for him. Ford expected to hear his 
voice, and a lump hung in his throat. When his 
sad eyes met those of Frances, he saw that hers 
were red with weeping. She gave her hand and 
said, " Good-morning, Friend Edward. I 'm real 
glad to see you back again. We 've all missed you. 
I was just thinkin' how you and Friend Boynton 
seemed to have been with us always. He went to 
a, better place ; but where did you go ? Do you 
think the world outside is better ? I wish you 
could feel to stay with us, Edward ! " 

" It is n't possible," said Ford, smiling sadly. 
" The only point on which I should agree with you 
is that the world outside is not so good a place." 

" Well, that 's a great deal." 

" It is n't enough." 

" Really," said Frances, " it 's discouragin' to 
hear you and Egery go on. You say everything 
that's good of the Shakers, but you won't be 
gathered in." 

" I thinh everything that 's good of you. I honor 


and reverence you ; I do everything but envy you. 
It 's another world that calls me." 

" Yee," sighed the Shakeress, "that's just the 
way with Egery. I suppose I have been here so 
long that I don't see anything strange in Shakers. 
The other people ai'e the ones that are strange to 
me. But I can see 't it 's different with Egery. 
She's had so much queerness in her life already 't 
I guess she don't want to have much more. Was 
you surprised to hear 't she 'd got back ? " 

" I was very glad ; and I 'm very grateful to you, 
Frances " — 

" I s' posed the handkerchief must be yours," 
Frances interrupted, with artful evasion. She went 
on to give some particulars of Boyn ton's funeral and 
of their sojourn in Egeria's old home and of her af- 
fairs. " It was real kind and good of Friend Hatch 
to stay as long as he did, and help her, especially as 
they do say he 's engaged to be mai'ried out West, 
there." Something like a luminous concussion 
seemed to take place in Ford's brain. The burden 
suddenly thrown from his soul left him light and 
giddy, and he clung for support to the door-post, 
while Frances prattled on : " Well, Humphrey says 
he 's a master-hand for business, and he 's sure to 
get along. He 's been a good friend to Egery, all 
through, and her father before her. I guess if 
Friend Boynton had taken Ms advice, there 
would n't been so much sufferin' for her. Well, 
she 's back with us again. But it 's only till she 
can find something for herself in the world outside. 


I suppose it 's natural for her to want to be like 
folks. That 's the way I look at it." 

Ford's heart throbbed. " Do you think I 'm like 
folks, Frances ? " 

" Not much," replied Frances. 

" Do you think I could be, — for her sake ? " 

A flash of joy, succeeded by a red blush, went 
over the pale face of the Shakeress. " You 'd 
ought n't to talk to me of such things, Edward. 
You know it ain't right." 

"I know — I know," pleaded the young man. 
" I know it 's all wrong. But — but I knew you 
knew about it, and I thought — I thought " — 

" She 's up in the orghard, by her apple-tree ! " 
cried Frances, with hysterical abruptness. "Don't 
you say another word to me ! " But after Ford left 
the room, she ran to tlie door, and watched him go- 
ing up the orchard aisle. 

Egeria stood leaning against the tree, and looking 
another way, and she might well have been igno- 
rant of his approach through the fallen grass, till 
she heard his husky voice : — 

"I — I have come back — I would have come 
before, but I did n't know you were here " — He 
had some intention of excusing himself, because in 
his cogitations it had occurred to him that she must 
have wondered why he had not come. But she 
only turned on him that face of intense resistance, 
changing to question, and then to wild appeal. 
" For Heaven's sake," he exclaimed, " don't look 
at me in that way ! What is the matter ? " 


" Oh, ivhj did you come back ? " she cried. 
" Why could n't you have stayed away, and left 
me in peace ? " 

He stood motionless, while his hopes seemed to 
fall in a tangible ruin round him. He saw now how 
eagerly he had built them on the fears of those fan- 
tastic communists, and how fondly he had hidden 
from himself all the reasons against them. He 
could have laughed at the ghastly wreck, but that 
he was too sick at heart. He moved his feet heav- 
ily, as if the long grass were fetters about them, 
and he tried to go ; but without some other word he 
could not. " Well," he said, at last, " if you ask 
me, I can't tell you. I can go away again, and not 
molest you any more. Only, before I go, tell me 
— you 've not told me yet — that you forgive me, 
Egeria." Her whispered name had been so often 
on his lips that he now spoke it aloud for the first 
time without knowing it. " Since your father is 
gone, I must be more hateful to you than ever. 
But I am going out of your way now ; try to for- 
give me and to tell me so ! Let me have your par- 
don to take with me." She broke into a low sound 
of weeping, while he waited for her response. 
" Well, I will go. It 's best for me to know finally 
that, although you have tolerated me here, at the 
bottom of your heart you have always abhorred 

" No, no ! I did n't say that." 

" Not in words, — no." 

" But if you made me say that I forgave you " — 


" Make you say it ? Notliiiig under heaven 
could make you say it ! What is it you mean ? " 

She looked up, and ran her eye in piteous search 
over his face. 

" When you first came there, in Boston, and when 
you hurt me ; when we went after the leaves, and I 
forgot him ; when I talked with you in the garden, 
and blamed him ; when I went with you into the 
woods, and neglected him, almost the last day he 
lived — Oh, even if I could n't, I ought to hate 
you ! Did you expect — Yes, I luill, — I will never 
let you go, now, till you tell me whether it was true. 
He is gone, and I have no one to help me. I shall 
have to do for myself ; but whatever my life is to 
be, I am going to have it my own ; and it is n't 
mine if that is true." 

" If that is true ? " repeated Ford, in stupefac- 
tion. " If what is true?" 

But the impulse Avhioh had carried her to this 
point failed her, apparently, and left her terrified 
at her own daring. She cowered at the involun- 
tary step he made toward her, as a bird stoops for 
flight. " If what is true ? " he reiterated. " Tell 
me what you mean ! " 

He wondered if perhaps some rumor of his talk 
with Elihu had come to her, and she had wished to 
punish his presumption in trusting the Shaker's 
conjecture regarding her ; if she were resolved to 
wreak upon him her maidenly indignation at the 
community's meddling. It seemed out of keeping 
with her and all the circumstances : but he could 


think of nothing else, and he darkly approached it : 
" If you have heard anything here that makes you 
think that I have come to you in anything but the 
humblest, the most reverent, spirit, I beseech you 
not to believe it ! Has Elihu — or Frances — Is it 
something they have said ? " 

" No," she said, and still shrunk away, as if he 
might be able to force the truth from her. 

" Then, what is it ? Surely you won't leave me 
in this perplexity ? If there is anything that I can 
do or undo " — 

" No ! Oh, go, for pity's sake ! " 

"I can't go now," said the young man. "I 
won't go till you have told me what you mean. 
You must tell me." 

She cast a strange glance at him. " If you make 
me tell yon, that would show that it was true ; and 
he was right when he used to say — I don't want 
to believe it ! Go, and let me try to think that you 
came here by chance, and that you stayed for his 
sake. Indeed, indeed, I can get to thinking again 
that you never tried to influence me in that way ! " 

" In what way? " he asked, but now a gleam of 
light, lurid enough, began to steal upon his confu- 
sion. Her alternate eagerness and reluctance to be 
with him ; her broken questions, the gestures, the 
looks, the tones, that had crossed with mystery 
the happiness he had known with her in the last 
weeks before her father's death, and made it at its 
sweetest fearful and insecure, i-ecurred to him Avitli 
new meaning, and a profound compassion qualified 


his despah', and made liim gentle and patient. " Is 
it possible," he asked, " that you mean that old 
delusion of your father's about me? And could 
you believe that I would try to control you against 
your will — to use some unnatural power over you ? 
Ah ! " he cried, " I could n't take even your for- 
giveness, now ; for you might think that I had ex- 
torted it ! " He looked sadly at her, but she did 
not speak, and he had a struggle to keep his pity 
of her from turning to execration of the unhappy 
man whose error could thus rise from his grave to 
cloud her soul ; but he ruled himself, — not without 
an ominous remembrance of his former attempts to 
separate her cause from her father's, — and brok- 
enly continued : " Well, I have deserved that, too. 
But I know that before he died your father came 
to a clearer mind about those things, and I believe 
that now, wherever he is, nothing could grieve him 
more than to know that he had left you in that 
hideous superstition." He looked with grave ten- 
derness at her hidden face. " How could you 
think " — and now his tone expressed his wounded 
self-respect as well as his sorrow for her — " that I 
could be so false to both of us ? " 

" I did n't always think," she whispered. "I — 
I was afraid " — 

" But what made you afraid that such a thing 
could be ? I am a brute, — I know that ; I gave 
you early proof of that, — but I hoped there was 
nothing covert in me." 

" You said once that people influenced others 


witliout knowing it ; and once — that night when 
we came from the woods — you said it was a spell 
that made me lose the way, and would n't let me 
blame you " — 

" And you really had those black doubts of me in 
your heart ? I thought you were suffering me here 
because you were good and merciful, and you 
were always watching me to find out whether I was 
not using some vile magic against you." 

" No, no ! Not always," she protested, lifting 
her face. " Did I say that ? " 

" No, you did n't say it ! Well, you had the right 
to hurt me in any way you could ; and I give you 
the satisfaction of knowing that nothing could hurt 
me worse than this." 

"Oh, I didn't mean to wound you! Don't 
think that ! And I forgave you ; yes, I did forgive 
you ! I never hated you — not even that morning 
there by the fountain when I thought you had hurt 
him. And when you said I ought, it made me won- 
der if what he used to say — And then I could n't 
get it out of my mind ! But I never meant to tell 
you by a single word or look, if it killed me." 

" I believe you. It was something not to be 
spoken. I think now I can go without your par- 
don. It seems to me that we are quits." 

Once more he turned to go, but she implored, all 
her face red with generous remorse, " Oh, not till 
you 've forgiven me ! I never thought how it 
would seem to you. Indeed I never did ! " 

He smiled sadly. " Forgive you ? Oh, that 's 


easy. But even if it were very hard, I could do it. 
I can see how it has been with you from the first, 
and how, with what you had been taught to think 
of me by your father, — I don't blame him for it ; 
he was as helpless as you were, — you perverted 
my careless words and gave them a sinister meaning 
that I never dreamt of. But what can I do, or 
say, to leave you with better thoughts of me ? " 

" I could see that you were kind and good even 
when I was the most afraid," she murmured. " But 
after the way we had begun together, and all that 
you had done to us, — and said to him, — some- 
times I could n't understand why you were here, 
or wliy you stayed, and then " — 

"I don't wonder! I had n't given you cause to 
expect any good of me ; and if I were to tell you 
why I stayed, as I once hoped I might, I could n't 
make it appear an unselfish reason. Oh, ni}^ dear- 
est ! " he cried, " I loved you so that I could n't 
have taken your love itself against your will ! Ever 
since I first saw you, and all the time that I had lost 
you, my whole life was for you ; and when I found 
you again how could I help staying till you drove 
me from you ? Good-by, and if any thought of 
yours has injured me, let me set it against my tell- 
ing you this now." She had slowly averted her 
face ; slie did not shrink from him, but she did not 
return liis good-by, and he waited in vain for her 
to speak. Then, " Shall I go ? " he asked in foolish 

" No " — 


The blood rioted in his heart. " And do you 
still believe that of me ? " 

" I believe — what you say," she whispered. 

" But why do you believe me ? Do I make you 

" I don't know — yes, something makes me." 

" Against your will? " 

" I can't tell." 

" Do you think it is a spell, now ? " 

" I don't know." 

"And are you afraid of it ? " 

" No " — 

" What is it, Egeria ? " he cried, and in the be- 
seeching look which she lifted to his, their eyes 
tenderly met. " Oh, my darling ! Was this the 
spell" — 

The rapture choked him ; he caught her hand and 
drew lier towards him. 

But at this bold action, Sister Frances, who had 
not ceased to watch them, threw her apron over Ler 


The powers of the family wei'e heavily taxed by 
the consideration of a case without precedent in its 
annals. On the report of Sister Frances and the 
subsequent knowledge of Elihu, it became neces- 
sary to act at once. Probably no affair of such 
delicate importance had ever presented itself to a 
society vowed to celibacy as the fact of a courtship 
and proposal of marriage which had taken place 
with their privity, and with circumstances so pe- 
culiar that they could not wholly feel that they 
had withheld their approval. 

" What I look at, Elihu," said Frances, " is this : 
that we can't any of us say but what it 's the best 
thing that can happen to Eger}^ so long as she 
ain't going to be gathered in. And what I want to 
know is whether we 've got to turn our backs on 
her because she 's doin' the best she can, or whether 
we're goin' to show out that we feel to rejoice with 

"Nay, we can't do that," replied Elihu, in sore 
embarrassment. " There are no two ways about it 
but what our natural feelings do go with her, — to 
some extent. I 'm free to confess that when Friend 
Ford came and told me just now I felt " — Elihu 


apparently found himself not so free to confess after 
all. He stopped abruptly, and added, " But that 's 
neither here nor there. What we 've got to do now 
is not to withhold our sympathy from these young 
people who are doing right in their order, and at 
the same time not to relax our opposition to the 

" Love the sinner and condemn the sin," sug- 
gested Laban. 

" Nay," replied Elihu, rejecting the phraseology 
rather than the idea, " not exactly that." 

" I can't understand," interposed Rebecca, with 
her sex's abhorrence of an abstraction, " where and 
how they 're goin' to get married. There ain't 
any Shaker way of marryin', and I don't know 
what we sJioidd do with our young folks, if they 
got maiTied here. I don't suppose we should have 
one of 'em left by spring." 

" Nay," said Elihu, " we might as well give up at 
once." He rocked himself vigorously to and fro ; 
but his hardening face did not lose its anxious ex- 

" Where will they get married ? " asked Rebecca. 
" She has n't got anywheres to go. Her own folks 
are all dead, at home, and she has n't got any 

" I don't know. They can't get married here," 
returned Elihu. 

" They can't go right off to a minister and get 
married now, so soon after her father's death. And 
besides, she ain't ready. She has n't got anything 
made up." 


The question of clotlies agitated even these un- 
worldly women, and they debated and deplored 
Egeria's unprepared condition, urging that she 
must have this, and could not do without that, till 
Elihu could bear it no longer. " I feel," he cried, 
" that it is unseeml}'^ for us to consider these things ! 
It identifies us practically with a state which we 
only tolerate as part of the earthly order. We must 
not have anything to do with it from this time 

" Well, Elihu, what shall we do ? " demanded 
Diantha. " We might send him away, but we can't 
turn her out-of-doors. Do you want he should go 
on courtin' her here ? " Elihu opened his lij^s to 
speak, but only emitted a groan. " We have got 
to bear our part. I guess the rule against marriage 
ain't any stronger than the rule of love and charity, 
— so long as we don't any of us marry, ourselves.^^ 

" Well, well ! " cried Elihu, " settle it amongst you. 
Only remember, they can't marry here." He took 
his hat, and went into Humphrey's room, where the 
latter had remained, discreetly absorbed in his ac- 
counts ; and Laban, finding himself alone with the 
sisters, hastened to follow Elihu. Their withdrawal 
was inspiration to Frances : — 

" I guess I can go down to Boston with Egery, 
and fix it with my sister so 't she can stay and be 
married from her house whenever she gets ready." 
When the sensation following her solution of the 
problem allowed her to speak she added, " The 
question is how much it '11 be right for us to do for 
her. She has n't got a thing." 


The sisters justly understood this to mean their 
degree of complicity in decking Egeria for the un- 
holy rite, and they entered into the question with 
the seriousness it merited. They began by agree- 
ing with Elihu that the only way was to have noth- 
ing to do with the matter ; and having appeased 
their consciences, they each made such concessions 
and sacrifices to the exigency as they must. Be- 
fore spring, when the wedding took place, the sis- 
ters had found it consistent with an enlarged sense 
of duty to present the bride with a great number 
of little gifts, of an exemplary usefulness, for the 
most part, but not wholly inexpressive of a desire, 
if not a sense, of beauty. Their conceptions of the 
world's fashions were too vague to allow of their 
contributing to the trousseau, and such small at- 
tempts as they made in that direction were over- 
ruled by Frances's sister, a decisive and notable 
lady, who, however, ordained that certain of the 
decorative objects, as hooked rugs and embroidered 
tidies, were as worthy a place in Mrs. Ford's simple 
house as most of the old-fashioned things that peo- 
ple like nowadays. With Frances, the question 
whether she should or should not be present at the 
wedding remained a cross which she bore all winter, 
and which grew sorer as the day approached. When 
it actually came, she meekly bowed her spirit and 
remained away. But she found compensation in 
the visit which she paid her sisteV directly after- 
wards, and which she spent chiefly in helping Egeria 
set in order the cottage Ford had taken in one of 


the suburbs. He had worked hard at bis writuig 
all winter, and they had no misgivings in beginning 
life on his earnings, and on the small sum Egeria 
had inherited from her grandfather. 

It is now several years since their marriage, and 
they have never regretted their courage. They had 
their day of carefulness and of small things — that 
happy day, which all who have known it remember 
so fondly — but this is already past. One of those 
ignoble discoveries which chemists sometimes make 
in their more ambitious experiments has turned it- 
self to profit, almost without his agency, and chiefly 
at the suggestion of his wife, whose more practical 
sense perceived its general acceptability; and the 
sale of an ingenious combination known to all 
housekeepers now makes life easy to the Fords. He 
has given up his newspaper work, and lias built 
himself a laboratory at the end of his garden, where 
the income from his invention enables him to pur- 
sue the higher chemistry, without as yet any dis- 
tinct advantage to the world, but to his own con- 
tent. It is observed by those who formerly knew 
him that marriage has greatly softened him, and 
Phillips professes that, robbed of his former rough- 
ness, he is no longer so fascinating. Their ac- 
quaintance can scarcely be said to have been re- 
newed since their parting in Vardley. Ford was 
able to see Phillips's innocence in what occurred ; 
but they could never have been easy in each other's 
presence after that scene, though they have met on 
civil terms. Phillips accounts in his own way for 


not seeing his former friend any more. " As brica- 
brac," he explains, when ladies inquire after their 
extinct acquaintance, " Ford was perpetually at- 
tractive; but as part of the world's ordinary furni- 
ture he can't interest me. When he married the 
Pythoness, I was afraid there was too much brica- 
brac ; but really, so far as I can hear, they have 
neutralized each other into the vulgarest common- 
place. Do you use the Ford Fire Kindler ? He 
does n't put his name to it, and that is n't exactly 
the discovery that is making his fortune. He has 
come to that, — making money. And imagine a 
Pythoness with a prayer-book, who goes to the 
Episcopal church, and hopes to get her husband 
to go, too ! No, I don't find my Bohemia in tlieir 
suburb." From time to time Phillips proposes to 
seek that realm in what he calls his native Europe ; 
but he does not go. Perhaps because Mrs. Perham 
is there, widowed by Mr. Perham's third stroke of 
paralysis, and emancipated to the career of travel 
and culture, which she has illustrated in the capitals 
of several Latin countries. To do her justice, she 
never turned the water-proof affair to malicious ac- 
count, nor failed to speak well of Ford, for whom 
she always claimed to feel an unrequited respect. 

As to Hatch, one of the first of those deep and 
full confidences between Ford and Egeria which 
follow engagement related to the man in whom 
Ford had feared a rival. Egeria knew merely that 
Hatch had repaid with constant services some fa- 
vors that her father had been able to do him in 


their old home, and that he had continued faithful 
to Boynton when all others had dropped away from 

" T wish I had understood how it was when he 
came to me there in Boston," said Ford. He added 
simply, " I treated him very badly, because I 
thought he was in love with you." 

" Was that any reason why you should treat him 
badly ? " asked Egeria. 

Ford reflected. " Yes, I suppose it was. I was 
in love with you, too. But he 's had his turn. 
He 's left me with the feeling that "perhaps " — 

" Perhaps what ? " 

" Perhaps — nothing ! " 

Egeria divined what he did not say. " He has n't 
left me with that feeling," she said reproachfully. 

Since that time Hatch is no longer on the road, 
as he would phrase it, but has gone into business 
for himself at Denver, where he married last year, 
with duly interviewed pomp and circumstance, tlie 
daughter of one of the early settlers, a hoary patri- 
arch of forty-three, who went to Denver as remotely 
as 1870. He called upon the Fords when he came 
East on his wedding journey, and he and .Ford 
found themselves friends. The Western lady 
thought Egeria a little stiff, but real kind-hearted, 
and one of the most stylish-appearing persons she 
ever saw. In fact, Egeria shows a decided fondness 
for dress, and after the long hunger of her solitary 
girlhood she enters, with a zest which Ford cannot 
always share, into all the innocent pleasures of life. 


She likes parties and dinners and tiieatres ; since 
their return from Europe she has given several pic- 
nic breakfasts, where her morning costume has been 
the marvel of her guests. The tradition of her life 
before marriage is locally very dim ; it is supposed 
that she left the stage to marry. This is not alto- 
gether reconcilable with the appearance of quaint 
people in broad-brims, or in gauze caps and tight- 
sleeved straight drab gowns, with whom she is 
sometimes seen in her suburb ; but as the Fords are 
known to go every summer to pass a month in an 
old house belonging to the Vardley Shakers, their 
visitors are easily accounted for. 

The grass has already grown long over Boynton's 
grave. They who keep his memory think compas- 
sionately of his illusions, if they were wholly illu- 
sions, but they shrink with one impulse from the 
dusky twilight through which he hoped to surprise 
immortality, and Ford feels it a sacred charge to 
keep Egeria's life in the full sunshine of our com- 
mon day. If Boynton has found the undiscovered 
country, he has sent no message back to them, and 
they do not question his silence. They wait, and 
we must all wait. 


^^m§^&0^¥'^M^'-^^'^ :;■:;■ ; 


cop. 3 

Howells, William Dean 

The undivS covered country