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Sooiut iip fRJbifi Sfetoett 



A WHITE HERON, and Other Stories. x6mo, ^1.25. 
A MARSH ISLAND. A Novel. z6mo, ^z.25. 
A COUNTRY DOCTOR. A Novel. z6mo, I1.35. 
THE MATE OF THE DAYLIGHT, and Fribnos 

Ashore. x8mo, gilt top, $1.25* 
COUNTRY BY-WAYS. i8mo, gilt top, ^1.25. 
DEEPHAVEN. xSmo, gilt top, ^z.35. 
OLD FRIENDS AND NEW. i8mo, gilt top, ^z.35. 
PLAY DAYS. Stories for Children. Square z6mo, 

HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN & CO. 

Publishers^ 

Boston and New York. 



J 



(bV 



A WHITE HERON 



AND OTHER STORIES 



SARAH ORNE JEWETT 



BOSTON AND NEW YORK 

HOUGHTON, MIFFLIN AND COMPANY 



Copyright, 1886, 
Bt SARAH ORNE JEWETT. 

All rights reserved. 



T7u Riverside PreUf Cambridge : 
Electrotyped and Printed by H. 0. Houghton & Oo. 



To 
MY DEAR SISTEB MART. 



One of these stories, ** Fanner Finch," is reprinted 
from ** Harper's Magazine ; " two are new, and the 
rest were puhlished in the << Atlantic Monthly " and 
other periodicals. 



CONTENTS. 

♦— 

PAOB 

A Whitb: Hbrok j 

Thb Gray Man 



Fabmsb Ftnoh . 

^^>1absh) Rosemabt . 

The DuiiHAM Ladies 

A BuBunsss Man . 

Mabt and Mabtha . 

The Nbws fboh Pbtebsham 

The Two Bbownb . 



23 
36 
86 
124 
151 
180 
198 
211 



«(«jO 




A WHITE HEEOS". 



I. 

The woods were already filled with shadows 
one June evening, just before eight o'clock, 
though a bright sunset stiU glimmered faintly 
among the trunks of the trees. A little girl 
was driving home her cow, a plodding, dila- 
tory, provoking creature in her behavior, but 
a valued companion for all that. They were 
going away from whatever Kght there was, and 
striking deep into the woods, but their feet 
were familiar with the path, and it was no 
matter whether their eyes could see it or not. 

There was hardly a night the summer 
through^ when the old cow could be found 
waiting at the pasture bars ; on the contrary, it 
was her greatest pleasure to hide herself away 
among the huckleberry bushes, and though 
she wore a loud bell she had made the discov- 
ery that if one stood perfectly still it would 
not ring. So Sylvia had to hunt for her until 



Li 



2 A WHITE HERON, 

she found her, and call Co' ! Co' ! with never 
an answering Moo, nntU her chUdish patience 
was quite spent. If the creature had not given 
good milk and plenty of it, the case would 
have seemed very different to her owners. 
Besides, Sylvia had all the time there was, 
and very little use to make of it. Sometimes 
in pleasant weather it was a consolation to 
look upon the cow's pranks as an intelligent 
attempt to play hide and seek, and as the child 
had no playmates she lent herself to this 
amusement with a good deal of zest. Though 
this chase had been so long that the wary ani- 
mal herself had given an unusual signal of her 
whereabouts, Sylvia had only laughed when 
she came upon Mistress MooUy at the swamp- 
side, and iirged her affectionately homeward 
with a twig of birch leaves. The old cow was 
not inclined to wander farther, she even turned 
in the right direction for once as they left the 
pasture, and stepped along the road at a good 
pace. She was quite ready to be milked now, 
and seldom stopped to browse. Sylvia won- 
dered what her grandmother would say because 
they were so late. It was a great while since 
she had left home at half -past five o'clock, but 



II 



A WHITE HERON, 8 

evecybody knew the difficulty of making this 
errand a short one. Mrs. Tilley had chased 
the horned torment too many summer even- 
ings herself to blame any one else for linger- 
ing, and was only thankful as she waited that 
she had Sylvia, nowadays, to give such valua- 
ble assistance. The good woman suspected 
that Sylvia loitered occasionally on her own 
account ; there never was such a child for 
straying about out-of-doors since the world 
was made I Everybody said tjiat it was a 
good change for a little maid who had tried to 
grow for eight years in a crowded manufactur- 
ing town, but, as for Sylvia herself, it seemed 
as if she never had been alive at all before she 
came to live at the farm. She thought often 
with wistful compassion of a wretched gera- 
nium that belonged to a town neighbor. 

" ' Afraid of folks,' " old Mrs. Tilley said to 
herself, with a smile, after she had made the 
unlikely choice of Sylvia from her daughter's 
houseful of children, and was returning to the 
farm. " * Afraid of folks,' they said I I guess 
she won't be troubled no great with 'em up to 
the old place ! " When they reached the door 
of the lonely house and stopped to unlock it, 



4 A WHITE HERON. 

and the cat came to purr loudly, and rub 
against them, a deserted pussy, indeed, but 
fat with young robins, Sylvia whispered that 
this was a beautiful place to live in, and she 
never should wish to go home. 

The companions followed the shady woodr 
road, the cow taking slow steps and the child 
very fast ones. The cow stopped long at the 
brook to drink, as if the pasture were not half 
a swamp, and Sylvia stood still and waited, 
letting her bare feet cool themselves in the 
shoal water, while the great twilight moths 
struck softly against her. She waded on 
through the bi^ok as the cow moved away, and 
listened to the thrushes with a heart that beat 
fast with pleasure. There was a stirring in 
the great boughs overhead. They were full of 
little birds and beasts that seemed to be wide 
awake, and going about their world, or else 
saying good-night to each other in sleepy twit- 
ters. Sylvia herself felt sleepy as she walked 
along. However, it was not much farther to the 
house, and the air was soft and sweet. She was 
not often in the woods so late as this, and it 
made her feel as if she were a part of the gray 



A WHITE HERON. 5 

shadows and the moving leaves. She was just 
thinking how long it seemed since she first 
came to the farm a year ago, and wondering if 
everything went on in the noisy town just the 
same as when she was there ; the thought of 
the great red-faced boy who used to chase and 
frighten her made her hurry along the path 
to escape from the shadow of the trees. 

Suddenly this little woods-girl is horror- 
stricken to hear a clear whistle not very far 
away. Not a birdVwhistle, which would have 
a sort of friendliness, but a boy's whistle, de- 
termined, and somewhat aggressive. Sylvia 
left the cow to whatever sad fate might await 
her, and stepped discreetly aside into the 
brushes, but she was just too late. The enemy 
had discovered her, and called out in a very 
cheerful and persuasive tone, ^^ Halloa, little 
girl, how far is it to the road ? " and trem- 
bling Sylvia answered almost inaudibly, ^'A 
good ways." 

She did not dare to look boldly at the tall 
young man, who carried a gun over his shoul- 
der, but she came out of her bush and again 
followed the cow, while he walked alongside. 

^ I have been hunting for some birds," the 



6 A WHITE HERON. 

stranger said kindly, "and I have lost my 
way, and need a friend very much. Don't be 
afraid," he added gallantly. " Speak up and 
tell me what your name is, and whether you 
think I can spend the night at your house, and 
go out gunning early in the morning." 

Sylvia was more alarmed than before. 
Would not her grandmother consider her much 
to blame ? But who could have foreseen such 
an accident as this ? It did not seem to be her 
fault, and she hung her head as if the stem 
of it were broken, but managed to answer 
" Sylvy," with much effort when her compan- 
ion again asked her name. 

Mrs. Tilley was standing in the doorway 
when the trio came into view. The cow gave 
a loud moo by way of explanation. 

" Yes, you 'd better speak up for yourself, 
you old trial! Where 'd she tucked herself 
away this time, Sylvy?" But Sylvia kept 
an awed silence ; she knew by instinct that 
her grandmother did not comprehend the grav- 
ity of the situation. She must be mistaking 
the stranger for one of the farmer-lads of the 
region. 

The young man stood his gun beside the 



i 



A WHITE HERON. 7 

doori and dropped a lumpy game-bag beside 
it; then he bade Mrs. Tilley good -evening, 
and repeated his wayfarer's story, and asked 
if he could have a night's lodging. 

" Put me anywhere you like," he said. " I 
must be ofiE early in the morning, before day ; 
but I am very hungry, indeed. You can give 
me some milk at any rate, that 's plain." 

'' Dear sakes, yes," responded the hostess, 
whose long slumbering hospitality seemed to 
be easily awakened. ^^ You might fare better 
li you went out to the main road a mile or so, 
but you 're welcome to what we 've got. I '11 
milk right off, and you make yourself at home. 
You can sleep on husks or feathers," she prof- 
fered graciously. '^ I raised them all myself. 
There 's good pasturing for geese just below 
here towards the ma'sh. Now step round and 
set a plate for the gentleman, Sylvy I " And 
Sylvia promptly stepped. She was glad to have 
something to do, and she was hungry herself. 

It was a surprise to find so clean and com- 
fortable a little dwelling in this New England 
wilderness. The young man had known the 
horrors of its most primitive housekeeping, and 
the dreary squalor of that level of society 



8 A WHITE HERON. 

which does not rebel at the companionship of 
hens. This was the best thrift of an old-fash- 
ioned farmstead, though on such a small scale 
that it seemed like a hermitajge. He listened 
eagerly to the old woman's quaint talk, he 
watched Sylvia's pale face and shinins: eray 
eyes with ever ^wing entiiusiasm, ,^d in- 
sisted that this was the best supper he had 
eaten for a month, and afterward the new- 
made friends sat down in the door-way to- 
gether while the moon came up. 

Soon it would be berry-time, and Sylvia was 
a great help at picking. The cow was a good 
milker, though a plaguy thing to keep track 
of, the hostess gossiped frankly, adding pres- 
ently that she had buried four children, so 
Sylvia's mother, and a son (who might be 
dead) in California were all the children she 
had left. '^ Dan, my boy, was a great hand to 
go gunning," she explained sadly. " I never 
wanted for pa'tridges or gray squer'ls while 
he was to home. He 's been a great wand'rer, 
I expect, and he 's no hand to write letters. 
There, I don't blame him, I 'd ha' seen the 
world myself if it had been so I could." 

" Sylvy takes after him," the grandmother 



A WHITE HERON. 9 

continued affectionately, after a minute's pause. 
" Hiere ain't a foot o' ground she don't know 
her way over, and the wild creaturs counts her 
one o' themselves. Squer'ls she '11 tame to 
come an' feed right out o' her hands, and all 
sorts o' birds. Last winter she got the jay- 
birds to bangeing here, and I believe she 'd 'a' 
scanted herself of her own meals to have 
plenty to throw out amongst 'em, if I had n't 
kep' watch. Anything but crows, I tell her, 
I 'm willin' to help support — though Dan he 
had a tamed one o' them that did seem to have 
reason same as folks. It was round here a good 
spell after he went away. Dan an' his father 
they did n't hitch, — but he never held up his 
head ag'in after Dan had dared him an' gone 
off." 

The guest did not notice this hint of family 
sorrows in his eager interest in something else. 

" So Sylvy knows all about birds, does she ? " 
he exclaimed, as he looked round at the little 
girl who sat, very demure but increasingly 
sleepy, in the moonlight. ^'I am making a 
collection of birds myself. I have been at it 
ever since I was a boy." (Mrs. Tilley smiled.) 
** There are two or three very rare ones I have 



j 



10 A WHITE HERON, 

been hunting for these five years. I mean to 
get them on my own ground if they can be 
found." 

" Do you cage *em up ? " asked Mrs. Tilley 
doubtfully, in response to this enthusiastic an- 
nouncement. 

" Oh no, they *re stuffed and preserved, 
dozens and dozens of them," said the ornithol- 
ogist, " and I have shot or snared every one 
myself. I caught a glimpse of a white heron 
a few miles from here on Saturday, and I have 
followed it in this direction. They have never 
been found in this district at all. The little 
white heron, it is," and he turned again to 
look at Sylvia with the hope of discovering that 
the rare bird was one of her acquaintances. 

But Sylvia was watching a hop-toad in the 
narrow footpath. 

*' You would know the heron if you saw it," 
the stranger continued eagerly. *' A queer tall 
white bird with soft feathers and long thin 
legs. And it would have a nest perhaps in 
the top of a high tree, made of sticks, some- 
thing like a hawk's nest." 

Sylvia's heart gave a wild beat ; she knew 
that strange white bird, and had once stolen 



A WHITE HERON. 11 

softly near where it stood in some bright green 
swamp grass, away over at the other side of 
the woods. There was an open phice where 
the sunshine always seemed strangely yellow 
and hot, where tall, nodding rashes grew, and 
her grandmother had warned her that she 
might sink in the soft black mud underneath 
and never be heard of more. Not far beyond 
were the salt marshes just this side the sea 
itself, which Sylvia wondered and dreamed 
much about, but never had seen, whose great 
voice could sometimes be heard above the noise 
of the woods on stormy nights. 

'' I can't think of anything I should like so 
much as to find that heron's nest," the hand- 
some stranger was saying. '^ I would give ten 
dollars to anybody who could show it to me," 
he added desperately, ^^ and I mean to spend 
my whole vacation hunting for it if need be. 
Perhaps it was only migrating, or had been 
chased out of its own region by some bird of 
prey." 

Mrs. Tilley gave amazed attention to all this, 
but Sylvia still watched the toad, not divining, 
as she might have done at some calmer time, 
that the creature wished to get to its hole un- 



1.1 



12 A WHITE HERON. 

der the door-step, aud was much hindered by 
the unusual spectators at that hour of the even- 
ing. No amount of thought, that night, could 
decide how many wished-for treasures the ten 
dollars, so lightly spoken of, would buy. 

The next day the young sportsman hovered 
about the woods, and Sylvia kept him company, 
having lost her first fear of the friendly lad, 
who proved to be most kind and sympathetic. 
He told her many things about the birds and 
what they knew and where they lived and what 
they did with themselves. And he gave her a 
jack-knife, which she thought as great a treas- 
ure as if she were a desert-islander. All day 
long he did not once make her troubled or 
afraid except when he brought down some un- 
suspecting singing creature from its bough. 
Sylvia would have liked him vastly better with- 
out his gun ; she could not understand why 
he killed the very birds he seemed to like so 
much. But as the day waned, Sylvia still 
watched the young man with loving admiration. 
She had never seen anybody so charming and 
delightful ; the woman's heart, asleep in the 
child, was vaguely thrilled by a dream of love. 



A WHITE HERON. 13 

Some premonition of that great power stirred 
and swayed these young creatures who trav- 
ersed jthe solemn woodlands with soft-footed 
silent care. They stopped to listen to a bird's 
song; they pressed forward again eagerly, 
parting the branches — speaking to each other 
rarely and in whispers ; the young man going 
first and Sylvia following, fascinated, a few 
steps behind, with her gray eyes dark with ex- 
citement. 

She grieved because the longed-for white 
heron was elusive, but she did not lead the 
guest, she only followed, and there was no 
such thing as speaking first. The sound of 
her own unquestioned voice would have terri- 
fied her — it was hard enough to answer yes 
or no when there was need of that. At last 
evening began to fall, and they drove the cow 
home together, and Sylvia smiled with pleasure 
when they came to the place where she heard 
the whistle and was afraid only the night 
before. 



14 A WHITE HERON. 



n. 

Half a mile from home, at the farther edge 
of the woods, where the land was highest, a 
great pine-tree stood, the last of its generation. 
Whether it was left for a boundary mark, or 
for what reason, no one could say ; the wood- 
choppers who had felled its mates were dead 
and gone long ago, and a whole forest of 
sturdy trees, pines and oaks and maples, had 
grown again. But the stately head of this, old 
pine towered above them all and made a land- 
mark for sea and shore miles and miles away. 
Sylvia knew it well. She had always believed 
that whoever climbed to the top of it could see 
the ocean ; and the little girl had often laid her 
hand on the great rough trunk and looked up 
wistfully at those dark boughs that the wind 
always stirred, no matter how hot and still the 
air might be below. Now she thought of the 
tree with a new excitement, for why, if one 
climbed it at break of day could not one see all 
the world, and easily discover from whence the 
white heron flew, and mark the place, and find 
the hidden nest ? 



i 



A WHITE HERON. 16 

What a spirit of adventure^ what wild am- 
bition! What fancied triumph and delight 
and glory for the later morning when she 
cotdd make known the secret ! It was almost 
too real and too great for the childish heart 
to bear. 

All night the door of the little house stood 
open and the whippoorwills came and idang 
npon the very step. The young sportsman 
and his old hostess were sound asleep, but 
Sylvia's great design kept her broad awake 
and watching. She forgot to think of sleep. 
The short summer night seemed as long as the 
winter darkness, and at last when the whip- 
poorwills ceased, and she was afraid the morn- 
ing would after all come too soon, she stole out 
of the house and followed the pasture path 
through the woods, hastening toward the open 
ground beyond, listening with a sense of com- 
fort and companionship to the drowsy twitter 
of a half-awakened bird, whose perch she had . 
jarred in passing. Alas, if the great wave of ■ 
human interest which flooded for the first time / ^ 
this dull little life should sweep away the satis- 
factions of an existence heart to heart with 
nature and the dumb life of the forest I 



16 A WHITE HERON. 

There was the huge tree asleep yet in the 
paling moonlight, and small and silly Sylvia 
began with utmost bravery to moimt to the top 
of it, with tingling, eager blood coursing tiie 
channels of her whole frame, with her bare 
feet and fingers, that pinched and held like 
bird's claws to the monstrous ladder reaching 
up. Up, almost to the sky itself. First she must 
mount the white oak tree that grew alongside, 
where she was almost lost among the dark 
branches and the green leaves heavy afid wet 
with dew ; a bird fluttered off its nest, and a red 
squirrel ran to and fro and scolded pettishly at 
the harmless housebreaker. Sylvia felt her way 
easily. She had often climbed there, and knew 
that higher still one of the oak's upper branches 
chafed against the pine trunk, just where its 
lower boughs were set close together. There, 
when she made the dangerous pass from one 
tree to the other, the great enterprise would 
really begin. 

She crept out along the swaying oak limb 
at last, and took the daring step across into 
the old pine-tree. The way was harder than 
she thought ; she must reach far and hold fast, 
the sharp dry twigs caught and held her and 



A WRITE HERON. 17 

Bcratclied her like angry talons, the pitdh made 
her thin little fingers clumsy and stiff as she 
went ronnd and round the tree's great stem, 
Iiigher and higher upward. The sparrows .and 
robins in the woods below were beginning to 
wake and twitter to the dawn, yet it seemed 
much lighter there aloft in the pine-tree, and 
the child knew she must hurry if her project 
were to be of any use. 

The tree seemed to lengthen itself out as she 
went up, and to reach farther and farther up- 
ward. It was like a great main-mast to the 
voyaging earth; it must truly have been 
amazed that morning through all its ponder- 
ous frame as it felt this determined spark of 
human spirit wending its way from higher 
branch to branch. Who knows how steadily 
the least twigs held themselves to advantage 
this light, weak creature on her way ! The old 
pine must have loved his new dependent. More 
than all the hawks, and bats, and moths, and 
even the sweet voiced thrushes, was the brave, 
beating heart of the solitary gray-eyed child. 
And the tree stood still and frowned away the 
winds that June morning while the dawn grew 
bright in the east. 



18 A WHITE HERON 

Sylvia's face was like a pale star, if one had 
seen it from the ground, when the last thorny 
bough was past, and she stood trembling and 
tired but wholly triumphant, high in the tree- 
top. Yes, there was the sea with the dawning 
sun making a golden dazzle over it, and to- 
ward that glorious east flew two hawks with 
slow-moving pinions. How low they looked in 
the air from that height when one had only 
seen them before far up, and dark against the 
blue sky. Tji©ii?->gTay f ea tiiers w ere as 50ft as 
moth^ they seemed onlya little way from the 
tree, and Sylvia felt as if she too could go 
flying away among the clouds. Westward, the 
woodlands and farms reached miles and miles 
into the distance ; here and there were church 
steeples, and white villages, truly it was a vast 
and awesome world I 

The birds sang louder and louder. At last 
the sun came up bewilderingly bright. Sylvia 
could see the white sails of ships out at sea, 
and the clouds that were purple and rose-col- 
ored and yellow at first began to fade away. 
Where was the white heron's nest in the sea 
of green branches, and was this wonderful 
sight and pageant of the world the only re- 



A WHITE HERON. 19 

ward for having climbed to such a ^ddj 
height ? Now look down again, Sylvia, where 
the green marsh is set among the shining 
hirches and dark hemlocks ; there where you 
saw the white heron once you wiU see him 
again ; look, look I a white spot of him like a 
single floating feather comes up from the dead 
hemlock and grows larger, and rises, and comes 
close at last, and goes by the landmark pine 
with steady sweep of wing and outstretched 
slender neck and crested head. And wait! 
wait ! do not move a foot or a finger, little 
girl, do not send an arrow of light and con- 
sciousness from your two eager eyes, for the 
heron has perched on a pine bough not far be- 
yond yours, and cries back to his mate on the 
nest and plumes his feathers for the new day ! 
/ The child gives a long sigh a minute later 
when a company of shouting cat-hirds comes 
also to the tree, and vexed by their fluttering 
and lawlessness the solemn heron goes away. 
She knows his secret now, the wUd, Ught, slen- 
der bird that floats and wavers, and goes back 
like an arrow presently to his home in the 
green world beneath. Then Sylvia, well satis? 
fied, makes her perilous way down again, not 



20 A WHITE HERON. 

• 

daring to look far below the branch she stands 
on, ready to cry sometimes because her fingers 
ache and her Isuned feet slip. Wondering over 
and over again what the straager would say to 
her, and what he would think when she told 
him how to find his way straight to the heron's 
nest* 

" Sylvy, Sylvy ! " called the busy old grand- 
mother again and again, but nobody answered, 
and the small husk bed was empty and Sylvia 
had disappeared. 

The guest waked from a dream, and remem- 
bering his day's pleasure hurried to dress him- 
self that might it sooner begin. He was sure 
from the way the shy little girl looked once or 
twice yesterday that she had at least seen the 
white heron, and now she must really be mad e 
to tel l. Here she comes now, paler than ever, 
and her worn old frock is torn and tattered, 
and smeared with pine pitch. The grand- 
mother and the sportsman stand in the door 
together and question her, and the splendid 
moment has come to speak of the dead hem- 
lock-tree by the green marsh. 

But Sylvia does not speak after all, though 



A WHITE HERON. 21 

the old grandmother fretfully rebukes her, and 
the young man's kind, appealing eyes are look- 
ing straight in her own. He can make them 
rich with money; he has promised it, and they 
are poor now. He is so well worth, making 
happy, and he waits to hear the story she can 
tell. 

No, she must keep silence I What is it that 
suddenly forbids her and lyakes her dumb? 
Has she been nine years growing and now, 
when the great world for the £rst time puts out 
a hand to her, must she thrust it aside for a 
bird's sake ? The murmur of the pine's green 
branches is in her ears, she remembers how the 
white heron came flying through the golden 
air and how they watched the sea and the 
morning together, and Sylvia cannot speak ; 
she cannot tell the heron's secret and give ita^ 
life away. 

Dear loyalty, that suffered a sharp pang 
as the guest went away disappointed later 
in the day, that could have served and fol- 
lowed him and loved him as a dog loves ! 
Many a night Sylvia heard the echo of his 
whistle haunting the pasture path as she came 



22 A WHITE HERON. 

home witib the loitering cow. She forgot even 
her sorrow at tbie sharp report of his gun and 
the sight of thrashes and sparrows dropping 
silent to the ground, their songs hushed and 
their pj^tty feathers stained and wet with 
blood. Were the birds better friends than 
their hunter might have been, — who can tell ? 
Whatever treasures were lost to her, wood- 
lands and summer-time, remember I Bring 
your gifts and graces and tell your secrets to 
this lonely country child I 



THE GRAY MAN. 

High on the southern slope of Agamentieus 
there may still be seen the remnant of an old 
iaxm. Frost-shaken stone walls surround a 
fast-narrowing expanse of smooth turf which 
the forest is overgrowing on every side. The 
cellar is nearly filled up, never having been 
either wide or deep, and the fruit of a few 
mossy apple-trees drops ungathered to the 
ground. Along one side of the forsaken gar- 
den is a thicket of seedling cherry-trees to 
which the shouting robins come year after year 
in busy flights ; the caterpillars' nests are un- 
assailed and populous in this untended hedge. 
At night, perhaps, when summer twilights are 
late in drawing their brown curtain of dusk 
over the great rural scene, — at night an owl 
may sit in the hemlocks near by and hoot and 
shriek until the far echoes answer back again. 
As for the few men and women who pass this 
deserted spot, most will be repulsed by such 



24 THE GRAY MAN, 

loneliness, wiU even grow impatient with those 
mistaken fellow -beings who choose to live 
in solitude, away from neighbors and from 
schools, — yes, even from gossip and petty 
care of self or knowledge of the trivial fash- 
ions of a narrow life. 

Now and then one looks out from this eyrie, 
across the wide-spread country, who turns to 
look at the sea or toward the shining foreheads 
of the mountains that guard the inland hori- 
zon, who will remember the place long after- 
ward. A peaceful vision will come, full of 
rest and benediction into busy and troubled 
hours, to those who understand why some one 
came to live in this place so near the sky, so 
silent, so full of sweet air and woodland fra- 
grance; so beaten and buffeted by winter 
storms and garlanded with summer greenery; 
where the birds are nearest neighbors and a 
clear spring the only wine-cellar, and trees of 
the forest a choir of singers who rejoice and 
sing aloud by day and night as the winds 
sweep over. Under the cherry thicket or at 
the edge of the woods you may find a stray- 
away blossom, some half-savage, slender grand- 
child of the old flower-plots, that you gather 



THE GRAY MAN. 25 

gladly to take away, and every year in June a 
red rose blooms toward which the wild pink 
roses and the pale sweet briars turn wonder- 
ing faces as if a queen had shown her noble 
face suddenly at a peasant's festival. 

There is everywhere a token of remem- 
brance, of silence and secrecy. Some stronger 
nature once ruled these neglected trees and 
this fallow ground. They will wait the re- 
turn of their master as long as roots can creep 
through mould, and the mould make way for 
them. The stories of strange lives have been 
whispered to the earth, their thoughts have 
burned themselves into the cold rocks. As 
one looks from the lower country toward the 
long slope of the great hillside, this old abid- 
ing-place marks the dark covering of trees like 
a scar. There is nothing to hide either the 
sunrise or the sunset. The low lands reach out 
of sight into the west and the sea fills all the 
east. 

The first o^erof the farm was a seafaring 
man who had through freak or fancy come 
ashore and cast himself upon the bounty of 
nature for support in his later years, though 
tradition keeps a suspicion of buried treasure 




26 THE GRAY MAN. 

and of a dark history. He cleared his land 
and built his house, but save the fact that he 
was a Scotsman no one knew to whom he be- 
longed, and when he died the state inherited 
the unclaimed property. The only piece of 
woodland that was worth anything was sold and 
added to another farm, and the dwelling-place 
was left to the sunshine and the rain, to the 
birds that built their nests in the chimney or 
under the eaves. Sometimes a strolling com- 
pany of country boys would find themselves 
near the house on a holiday afternoon, but the 
more dilapidated the small structure became, 
the more they believed that some uncanny ex- 
istj(ence possessed the lonely place, and the path 
that led toward the clearing at last became 
almost impassable. 

Once a number of officers and men in the em- 
ploy of the Coast Survey were encamped at the 
top of the mountain, and they smoothed the 
rough track that led down to the spring that 
bubbled from under a sheltering edge. One 
day a laughing fellow, not content with peering 
in at the small windows of the house, put his 
shoulder against the rain-blackened door and 
broke the simple fastening. He hardly knew 



TBE GRAY MAN, 27 

that he was afraid as he first stood within the 
single spacious room, so complete a curiosity 
took possession of him. The place was clean 
and bare, the empty cupboard doors stood open, 
and yet the sound of his companions' voices out- 
side seemed far away, and an awful sense that 
some unseen inhabitant followed his footsteps 
made him hurry out again pale and breathless 
to the fresh air and sunshine. Was this really 
a dwelling-place of spirits, as had been already 
hinted? The story grew more fearful, and 
spread quickly like a mist of terror among the 
lowland farms. For years the tale of the coast- 
surveyor's adventure in the haunted house was 
slowly magnified and told to strangers or to 
wide-eyed children by the dim firelight. The 
former owner was supposed to linger still 
about his old home, and was held accountable 
for deep offense in choosing for the scene of his 
unsuccessful husbandry a place that escaped 
the proprieties and restraints of lifd upon 
lower levels. His grave was concealed by the 
new growth of oaks and beeches, and many a 
lad and full-grown man beside has taken to 
his heels at the flicker of light from across a 
swamp or under a decaying tree in that neigh- 



28 THE GRAY MAN. 

borhood. As the world in some respects grew 
wiser, the good people near the mountain im- 
derstood less and less the causes of these sim- 
ple effects, and as they became familiar with 
the visible world, grew more shy of the unseen 
and more sensitive to unexplained foreboding. 

One day a stranger was noticed in the town, 
as a stranger is sure to be who goes his way 
with quick, furtive steps straight through a 
small village or along a country road. This 
man was tall and had just passed middle age. 
He was well made and vigorous, but there was 
an unusual pallor in his face, a grayish look, 
as if he had been startled by bad news. His 
clothes were somewhat peculiar, as if they had 
been made in another country, yet they suited 
the chilly weather, being homespun of undyed 
wools, just the color of his hair, and only a 
little darker than his face or hands. Some one 
observed in one brief glance as he and this 
gray man met and passed each other, that his 
eyes had a strange faded look ; they might, 
however, flash and be coal-black in a moment 
of rage. Two or three persons stepped for- 
ward to watch the wayfarer as he went along 



THE GRAY MAN, 29 

the road with long, even strides, like one tak- 
ing a journey on foot, but he quickly reached 
a turn of the way and was out of sight. They 
wondered who he was ; one recalled some re- 
cent advertisement of an escaped criminal, and 
another the appearance of a native of the town 
who was supposed to be long ago lost at sea, 
but one surmiser knew as little as the next. 
If they had followed fast enough they might 
have tracked the mysterious man straight 
across the country, threading the by-ways, 
the shorter paths that led across the fields 
where the road was roundabout and hinder- 
ing. At last he disappeared in the leafless, 
trackless woods that skirted the mountain. 

That night there was for the first time in 
many years a twinkling light in the window of 
the haunted house, high on the hill's great 
shoulder ; one farmer's wife and another looked 
up curiously, while they wondered what dar- 
ing human being had chosen that awesome 
spot of all others for his home or for even a 
transient shelter. The sky was already heavy 
with snow ; he might be a fugitive from jus- 
tice, and the startled people looked to the fast- 
ening of their doors unwontedly that night, 
and waked often from a troubled sleep. 



80 THE GRAY MAN, 

An instinctiye curiosity and alarm possessed 
the country men and women for a while, but 
soon faded out and disappeared. The new- 
comer was by no means a hermit ; he tried to 
be friendly, and inclined toward a certain 
kindliness and familiarity. He bought a com- 
fortable store of winter provisions from his 
new acquaintances, giving every one his price, 
and spoke more at length, as time went on, 
of current events, of poUtics and the weather, 
and the town's own news and concerns. There 
was a sober cheerfulness about the man, as if 
he had known trouble and perplexity, and was 
fulfilling some mission that gave him pain; 
yet he saw some gain and reward beyond ; 
therefore he could be contented with his life 
and such strange surroundings. He was more 
and more eager to form brotherly relations 
with the farmers near his home. There was al- 
most a pleading look in his kind face at times, 
as if he feared the later prejudice of his asso- 
ciates. Surely this was no common or uned- 
ucated person, for in every way he left the 
stamp of his character and influence upon 
men and things. His reasonable words of ad- 
vice and warning are current as sterling coins 



THE GRAY MAN. 31 

in that region yet ; to one man he taught a 
new rotation of crops, to another he gave some 
prioeless cures for devastating diseases of cat- 
tle. The lonely women of those remote coun- 
try homes learned of him how to achieve their 
household toil with less labor and drudgery, 
and here and there he singled out promis- 
ing children and kept watch of their growth, 
giving freely a most affectionate companion- 
ship, and a fair start in the journey of life. 
He taught those who were guardians of such 
children to recognize and further the true 
directions and purposes of existence ; and the 
easily warped natures grew strong and well- 
established under his thoughtful care. No 
wonder that some people were filled with 
amazement, and thought his wisdom supernat- 
ural, from so many proofs that his horizon was 
wider lOian their own. 

Perhaps some envious soul, or one aggrieved 
by being caught in treachery or deception, was 
the first to find fault with the stranger. The 
prejudice against his dwelling-place, and the 
superstition which had become linked to him 
in consequence, may have led back to the first 
suspicions attitude of the community. The 



32 THE GRAY MAN. 

wliisper of distrust soon started on an evil 
way. If he were not a criminal, his past was 
surely a hidden one, and shocking to his re- 
membrance, but the true f oimdation of all dis- 
like was tiie fact that the gray man who went 
to and fro, living his simple, harmless life 
among them, ne/ver was seen to smile. Per- 
sons who remember him speak of this with a 
shudder, for nothing is more evident than that 
his peculiarity became at length intolerable to 
those whose minds lent themselves readily to 
suspicion. At first, blinded by the gentle 
good f eUowship of the stranger, the change- 
less expression of his face was scarcely ob- 
served, but as the winter wore away he was 
watched with renewed disbelief and dismay. 

After the first few attempts at gayeiy no- 
body tried to teU a merry story in his pres- 
ence. The most conspicuous of a joker's au- 
dience does a deep-rankling injustice if he sits 
with unconscious, unamused face at the receipt 
of raillery. What a chiUing moment when 
the gray man softly opened the door of a 
farmhouse kitchen, and seated himself like a 
skeleton at the feast of walnuts and roasted 
apples beside the glowing fire ! The children 



THE GRAY MAN. 88 

whom he treated so lovingly, to whom he ever 
gave his best, though they were won at first 
by his gentleness, when they began to prattle 
and play with him would raise their innocent 
eyes to his face and hush their voices and 
creep away out of his sight. Once only he 
was bidden to a wedding, but never afterward, 
for a gloom was quickly spread through the 
boisterous company ; the man who never smiled 
had no place at such a festival. The wedding 
euests looked over their shoulders as^ain and 
!gain in strange foreboding, whUe hfwas in 
the house, and were burdened with a sense of 
coming woe for the newly-married pair. As 
one caught sight of his, among the faces of 
the rural folk, the gray man was like a som- 
bre mask, and at last the bridegroom flung 
open the door with a meaning gesture, and the 
stranger went out like a hunted creature, into 
the bitter coldness and silence of the winter 
night. 

Through the long days of the next summer 
the outcast of the wedding, forbidden, at 
length, all the once-proffered hospitality, was 
hardly seen from one week's end to another's. 
He cultivated his poor estate with patient 



84 THE GRAY MAN. 

oare, and tho successive crops of his small 
garden, the fruits and berries of the wilder- 
ness, were food enough. He seemed unchange- 
able, and was always ready when he even 
guessed at a chance to be of use. If he were 
repulsed, he only turned away and went back 
to his solitary home. Those persons who by 
chance visited him there tell wonderful tales 
of the wild birds which had been tamed to 
come at his call and cluster about him, of the 
orderliness and delicacy of his simple life. 
The once-neglected house was covered with 
vines that he had brought from the woods, 
and planted about the splintering, decaying 
walls. There were three or four books in 
worn bindings on a shelf above tiie fire-place ; 
one longs to know what volumes this mysteri- 
ous exile had chosen to keep him company I 

There may have been a deeper reason for 
the withdrawal of friendliness ; there are vague 
rumors of the gray man's possession of strange 
powers. Some say that he was gifted with 
amazing strength, and once when some belated 
hunters found shelter at his fireside, they told 
eager listeners afterward that he did not sleep 
but sat by the fire reading gravely while they 



THE GRAY MAN 86 

slumbered uneasily on Ids own bed of boughs. 
And in the dead of night an empty chair 
glided silently toward him across the floor as 
he softly turned. his pages in the flickering 
light. 

But such stories are too vague, and in that 
neighborhood too common to weigh against the 
true dignity and bravery of the man. At the 
beginning of the war of the rebellion he seemed 
strangely troubled and disturbed, and pres- 
ently disappeared, leaving his house key with 
a neighbor as if for a few days' absence. He 
was last seen striding rapidly through the vil- 
lage a few miles away, going bach along the 
road by which he had come a year or two be- 
fore. No, not last seen either ; for in one of 
the first battles of the war, as the smoke sud- 
denly lifted, a farmer's boy, reared in the 
shadow of the mountain, opened his languid 
pain-duUed eyes as he lay among the wounded, 
and saw the gray man riding by on a tall 
horse. At that moment the poor lad thought 
in his faintness and fear that Death himself 
rode by in the gray man's likeness ; unsmiling 
Death who tries to teach and serve mankind 
so that he may at the last win welcome as a 
faithful friend I 



FARMER FINCH. 

It was as bleak and sad a day as one could 
well imagine. The time of ye^ was early in 
December, and the daylight was already fad- 
ing, though it was only a little past the middle 
of the afternoon. John Finch was driving to- 
ward his farm, which he had left early in the 
morning to go to town ; but to judge from his 
face one might have been sure that his busi- 
ness had not been successful. He looked 
pinched and discouraged with something besides 
the cold, and he hardly noticed the faithful 
red horse which carefully made its way over 
the frozen ruts of the familiar road. 

There had lately been a few days of mild 
weather, when the ground had had time to 
thaw, but with a sudden blast of cold this deep 
mud had become like iron, rough aud ragged, 
and jarring the people and horses cruelly who 
tried to travel over it. The road lay through 
the bleak coimtry side of the salt-marshes 



FARMER FINCH. 87 

which stretclied themselves away toward the 
sea, dotted here and there with hay-cocks, and 
crossed in wavering lines by the inlets and 
ditehes, Med now U grajdsh ice. that was 
smkins: ^^^ crachinsf as the tide ran out. The 

it looked as soft and brown as fur ; the wind 
had free course over it, and it looked like a 
deserted bit of the world ; the battered and 
dinsnr flat-bottomed boats were fastened se- 
ZSy in their tiny harhors, or puUed far 
ashore as if their usefulness was over, not only 
for that season but for all time. In some late 
autumn weather one feels as if summer were 
over with forever, and as if no resurrection 
could follow such unmistakable and hopeless 
death. 

Where the land was higher it looked rocky 
and rough, and behind the marshes there were 
some low hills looking as if they were solid 
stone to their cores, and sparingly overgrown 
with black and rigid cedars. These stood erect 
from the least to the greatest, a most unbend- 
mg and heartless family, which meant to give 
neither shade in summer nor shelter in winter. 
No wind could overturn them, for their roots 



88 FARMER FINCH, 

went down like wires into the ledges, and no 
drought could dry away the inmost channels of 
vigorous though scanty sap that ran soberly 
through their tough, unfruitful branches. 

In one place the hills formed an amphithe- 
atre open on the side toward the sea, and here 
on this bleak day it seemed as if some dismal 
ceremony were going forward. As one caught 
sight of the solemn audience of black and 
gloomy cedars that seemed to have come to- 
gether to stand on the curving hillsides, one 
instinctively looked down at the level arena of 
marsh-land below, half fearing to see some 
awful sacrificial rite or silent combat. It 
might be an angry company of hamadryads 
who had taken the shape of cedar-trees on this 
day of revenge and terror. It was difficult to 
believe that one would ever see them again, 
and that the summer and winter days alike 
would find them looking down at the grave 
business which was invisible to the rest of the 
world. The little trees stood beside their 
elders in families, solemn and stem, and some 
miserable men may have heard the secret as 
they stumbled through the snow prajring for 
shelter, lost and frozen on a winter night. 



^v 



FARMER FINCH. 89 

If you Ke down along the rough grass in the 
slender shadow of a cedar and look off to sea, 
in a summer afternoon, you only hear a whis- 
per like ^' Hush I hush I " as the wind comes 
through the stiff branches. The boughs reach 
straight upward; you cannot lie underneath 
and look through them at the sky ; the tree all 
reaches away from the ground as if it had a 
horror of it, and shrank from even the breeze 
and the sunshine. 

On this December day, as the blasts of wind 
struck them, they gave one stiff, unwilling 
bend, and then stood erect again. The road 
wound along between the sea-meadows and the 
hills, and poor John Finch seemed to be the 
only traveler. He was lost in thought, and the 
horse still went plodding on. The worn buf- 
falo-robe was dragging from one side of the 
wagon, and had slipped down off the driver's 
knees. He hardly knew that he held the reins. 
He was in no hurry to get home, cold as it was, 
for he had only bad news to tell. 

Polly Finch, his only daughter, was coming 
toward home from the opposite direction, and 
with her also things had gone wrong. She was 
a bright, good-natured girl of about twenty. 



40 FARMER FINCH. 

but she looked old and care-worn that day. 
She was dressed in her best clothes, as if she 
had been away on some important affair, per- 
haps to a funeral, and she was shivering and 
wholly chilled in spite of the shawl which her 
mother had insisted upon her carrying. It had 
been a not uncomfortable morning for that 
time of year, and she had flouted the extra 
wrap at first, but now she hu^ed it close, and 
half buried her face in its folds. The sky was 
gray and heavy, except in the west, where it 
was a clear, cold shade of yellow. All the leaf- 
less bushes and fluffy brown tops of the dead 
asters and golden-rods stood out in exqui- 
sitely delicate silhouettes against the sky on 
the high road-sides, while some tattered bits of 
blackberry vine held still a dull glow of color. 
As Polly passed a barberry bush that grew 
above her she was forced to stop, for, gray and 
winterish as it had been on her approach, when 
she looked at it from the other side it seemed 
to be glowing with rubies. The sun was shin- 
ing out pleasantly now that it had sunk below 
the douds, and in these late golden rays the 
barberry bush had taken on a great splendor. 
*^It gave Folly a start, and it cheered her not a 



FARMER FINCH. 41 

little, this sudden transformation, and she even 
went back along the road a little way to see it 
again as she had at first in its look of misery. 
The berries that still clung to its thorny 
branches looked dry and spoiled, but a few 
steps forward again made them shine out, and 
take on a beauty that neither summer nor 
autumn had given them, and Polly gave her 
head a little shake. '^ There are two ways of 
looking at more things than barberry bushes," 
she said, aloud, and went off with brisker steps 
down the road. 

At home in the farm-house Mrs. Finch had 
been waiting for her husband and daughter to 
come, until she had grown tired and hungry 
and almost frightened. Perhaps the day had 
been longer and harder to her than to any one 
else. She had thought of so many cautions 
and suggestions that she might have given 
them both, and though the father's errand was 
a much more important one, still she had built 
much hope on the possibility of Polly's en- 
counter with the school committee proving suc- 
cessful. Things had been growing very dark 
in Mr. Finch's business affairs, and they had 
all looked with great eagerness toward her 



42 FARMER FINCH. 

securing a situation as teacher of one of the 
town schools. It was at no great distance, so 
that Polly could easily board at home, and 
many things seemed to depend upon it, even 
if the bank business turned out better than 
was feared. Our heroine had in her childhood 
been much praised for her good scholarship, 
and stood at the head of the district school, 
and it had been urged upon her father and 
mother by her teachers, and by other friends 
more or less wise, that she should have what 
they called an education. It had been a hard 
thing both for her father to find the money, 
and for her mother to get on without her help 
in the house-work, but they had both managed 
to get along, and Polly had acquitted herself 
nobly in the ranks of a neighboring academy, 
and for the last year had been a pupil in the 
normal school. She had been very happy in 
her school life, and very popular both with 
scholars and teachers. She was friendly and 
social by nature, and it had been very pleasant 
to her to be among so many young people. 
The routine and petty ceremony of her years 
of study did not fret her, for she was too 
strong and good-natured even to be worn upon 



FARMER FINCH. 43 

or much tired with the unwholesome life she 
lived. It was easy enough for her to get her 
lessons, and so she went through with flying 
colors, and cried a little when the last day ar- 
rived ; but she felt less regret than most of 
the girls who were turned out then upon the 
world, some of them claiming truthfully that 
they had finished their education, since they 
had not wit enough to learn anything more, 
either with school-books in their hands or 
without them. 

It came to Polly's mind as she stood in a 
row with the rest of the girls, while the old 
minister who was chief of the trustees gave 
them their diplomas, and some very good ad- 
vice besides : " I wonder why we all made up 
our minds to be teachers? I wonder if we 
are going to be good ones, and if I should n't 
have liked something else a great deal bet- 
ter?" 

Certainly she had met with a disappoint- 
ment at the beginning of her own career, for 
she had seen that it was necessary for her to 
be within reach of home, and it seemed as if 
every school of the better class had been pro- 
vided with a teacher. She had been so confi- 



44 FARMER FINCH, 

dent of her powers and mindful of her high 
standing at the normal school that it seemed 
at first that a fine position ought to be hers 
for the asking. But one after another her 
plans had fallen to the ground, until this last 
one, which had just been decided against her 
also. It had never occurred to her at first as 
a possible thing that she should apply for the 
small town school in her own district ; to tell 
the truth, it was a great downfall of pride to 
the family, but they had said to each other 
that it would be well for PoUy to have the 
winter at home, and in spring she could suit 
herself exactly. But everybody had felt the 
impossibility of her remaining idle, and no 
wonder her heart sank as she went toward 
home, knowing that she must tell them that 
another had been chosen to fill the place. 

Mrs. Finch looked at the fire, and looked 
out of the window down the road, and took up 
the stocking she wa« knitting and tried to 
work at it ; but every half -hour that went by 
doubled her uneasiness, and she looked out of 
the window altogether at last, until the fire 
was almost burned out, and the knitting lay 
untouched in her lap. She was a tall, fine- 



FARMER FINCH. 46 

looking woman, with a worn, well-featured 
face, and thinnish hair that had once been 
light brown, but was much faded and not a 
little gray in these later years. It had been 
thought a pity that she married John Finch, 
who had not half so much force as she, and 
with all her wisdom and affection and econ<^ 
omy, every year had seemed to take away 
something from them, leaving few gifts and 
gains in exchange. At first her pride and 
ambition, which were reasonable enough, al- 
ways clung to her husband's plans and pur- 
poses ; but as she saw year after year that he 
stayed exactly in the same place, making little 
headway either in farming or anything else, 
she began to live more and more in her daugh- 
ter's life, and looked eagerly to see her win 
her way and gain an honorable place, first in 
her school life, and afterward as a teacher. 
She had never dreamed beforehand of the dif- 
ficulties that had assailed Polly since she came 
home the head of her class in June. She had 
supposed that it would be an easy thing for 
her now to find a good situation in a high or 
private school, with a capital salary. She 
hated to think there was nothing for her but 



46 FARMER FINCH. 

to hold sway over the few scholars in the little 
unpainted school-house half a mile down the 
road, even though the girl, who was the very- 
delight of her heart, should be with her so 
much more than they had expected at first. 
She was a hind, simple-hearted, good woman, 
this elder Mary Finch, and she had borne her 
failing fortunes with perfect bravery ; she had 
been the sunshine and inspiration of the some- 
what melancholy house for many years. 

At last she saw her husband coming along 
the road, and even that far-away first glimpse 
of him told her that she would hear no good 
news. He pulled up the fallen buffalo-robe 
over his lap, and sat erect, and tried to look 
unconcerned as he drove into the yard, but it 
was some time before he came into the house. 
He unharnessed the horse with stiff and shak- 
ing hands, and gave him his supper, and turned 
the old wagon and backed it into its place be- 
fore he came in. Polly had come home also 
by that time, and was sitting by the window, 
and did not turn to speak to him. His wife 
looked old, and her face was grayish, and the 
lines of it were hard and drawn in strange 
angles. 



FARMER FINCH. 47 

" You had better sit right down by the fire, 
John," she told him, " and I 'U get you and 
Polly a good hot supper right away. I think, 
like 's not, you did n't get a mouthful of din- 
ner." 

"I've no need to tell you I've got bad 
news," he said. "The bank's failed, and 
they won't pay more 'n ten cents on a dollar, 
if they make out to do that. It 's worse than 
we ever thought it could be. The cashier got 
speculating, and he's made 'way with about 
everything." 

It seemed to him as if he had known this 
for years, it was such an old, sad story al- 
ready, and he almost wondered at the surprise 
and anger that his wife and Polly showed at 
once. It made him a little impatient that 
they would ask him so many eager questions. 
This was the worst piece of misfortune that 
had ever come to him. Although they had 
heard the day before that the bank would pass 
its dividend, and had been much concerned 
and troubled, and had listened incredulously 
to worse stories of the condition of the bank's 
finances, they had looked for nothing like this. 

There was little to be said, but everything 



48 FARMER FINCH. 

to be thouglit and feared. They had put en- 
tire confidence in this bank's security, and the 
money which had belonged to John Finch's 
father had always been left there to draw a 
good yearly interest. The farm was not very 
productive, and they had depended upon this 
dividend for a large part of their ready money. 
Much of their other property had dwindled 
away. If ever there had been a prospect of 
making much off the farm, something had in- 
terfered. One year a piece of woodland had 
been cleared at considerable expense, and on 
the day before its unlucky owner was to begin 
to haul the great stacks of fire-wood down to 
the little wharf in the marshes, from whence 
they could be carried away to market by 
schooners, the fire got in, and the flames of 
the fallen pines made a torch that lighted all 
that part of the country for more nights than 
one. There was no insurance and no remedy, 
and, as an old neighbor told the unhappy 
owner, " the woods would not grow again in 
his time." John Finch was a cheerful man 
naturally, and very sure .of the success of his 
plans ; it was rare to see him so entirely down- 
hearted and discouragedpbut lately he had 



FARMER FINCH, 49 

seemed to Ids wife somebody to be protected 
and looked after even more than Polly. She 
sometimes felt the weight of the years she had 
lived, and as if she must be already very old, 
but he was the same boyish person to her as 
when she had married him; it often seemed 
possible that he should have his life still be- 
fore him. She could not believe until very 
lately that it was too late for him to start out 
on any enterprise. Time had, indeed, touched 
him more lightly than it had herself, though 
he had the face and something of the manner 
and faults of an elderly and unsuccessful man. 
They sat together in the kitchen, which had 
suddenly grown dark. Mary Finch was as 
cold as either of her companions, and was an- 
gry with herself for her shivering and want of 
dburage. She was almost afraid to speak at 
last for fear of crying ; she felt strangely un- 
strung and weak. The two women had told 
John of Polly's disappointment, that the agent 
for the district had given the school to his own 
niece, a young girl from Salem, who was to 
board at his house, and help his wife as much 
as she could with the house-work out of school- 
hours. " It 's all of a piece to-day," groaned 
the farmer. " I 'm sorry for ye, Polly." 



50 FARMER FINCH. 

" She may hear of something yet," said Mrs. 
Finch, making a great effort to speak cheer- 
fully, ^' You know they have her name at the 
normal school ; people are always sending there 
for teachers, and oftentimes one fails at the last 
minute through sickness, and I should n't won- 
der if Polly found a good place yet in that way." 

" I declare I don't know how we shall get 
along," moaned Polly's father, to whom his 
daughter's trouble seemed only a small part of 
the general misfortunes. "Here 's winter com- 
ing, and I 'm likely to be laid up any day with 
my rheumatics, and I don't see how we can 
afford even to take a boy to work for his board 
and clothes. I 've got a few trees I can cut, 
and one cow I can sell; but there are the 
taxes to pay, and the minister, and money to 
lay out on fences, come spring. The farm ran 
behind last year, too." 

Polly rose impatiently and took down a 
lamp from the high chimney-shelf, knocking 
down the match-box as she did so, which was, 
after all, a good deal of relief. She put the 
light on the floor while she picked up the 
scattered matches, and her mother took a good 
look at her, and was somehow made to feel 
stronger at the sight of Polly's face. 



FARMER FINCH, 51 

" I guess we 'd all befcter have some supper," 
said the girl. " I never should feel so dis- 
couraged if I was n't hungry. And now I 'm 
going to tell you what I mean to do. I 'm 
going to put right to and go to work out-doors 
and in, and I 'm going to help father same as 
if I were a boy. I believe I should like farm- 
ing now twice as well as teaching, and make a 
good deal more money at it. I have n't a gift 
for teaching, and I know it, but I don't mean 
that what I learned shall be thrown away. 
Now we 've got hay for the stock, plenty of it, 
and we 've got potatoes and apples and turnips 
and cider in the cellar, and a good pig to kiU, 
and so there 's no danger that we shall starve. 
I 'm just as strong as I can be, and I am going 
right to work, at any rate until I get a school 
with a first-rate salary that '11 be worth more 
than my help will here." 

" I 'm sure I don't want you to throw away 
such a good education as you 've had, for us," 
said Mrs. Finch, sorrowfully. " I want you to 
be somebody, Polly, and take your right place 
in the world." 

But Polly answered stoutly that she was n't 
sure it was a good education until she saw 



t-^ 



52 FARMER FINCH. 

whether it was any use to her. There were 
too many second-rate teachers already, and she 
had n't any reason to suppose she would be a 
first-rate one. She believed that people had 
better learn to do the things they were sure to 
have to do. She would ratfier be a boy, and 
farm it, than teach any school she ever saw, 
and for this year, at any rate, she was going to 
see whether her book-learning was n't going to 
be some help at home. ^' I did the best I could 
at school," she said, ^' and it was easy enough 
to get my lessons, but now I Ve come against 
a dead-wall. I don't see but you both need 
me, and I 'm well and strong as anybody alive. 
I 'd a good deal rather work at home a while 
than be penned up with a lot of children, and 
none of us more than half know what we 're 
about. I want to think a good deal more 
about teaching school before I begin to try in 
earnest." 

" I shall be glad to have you help your 
mother," said John Finch, disconsolately, 
" and we '11 manage to get along somehow." 

" Don't be afraid, father," responded Polly, 
in really cheerful tones, as if she assumed her 
new situation formally at that moment. She 



FARMER FINCH, 58- 

went slowly down cellar with the lamp, leav- 
ing her parents in darkness ; but by this time 
the tea-kettle had begun to sing, and a great 
glow of coals showed through the front slide 
of the stove. 

Mr. Finch lifted himself out of his chair, 
and stumbled about to get the lantern and 
light it, and then went out to feed the cattle. 
He still looked chilled, and as if all happiness 
had forsaken him. It was some little time be- 
fore he returned, and the table was already set, 
and supper was nearly cooked and ready to be 
eaten. Polly had made a pot of coffee, and 
drank her first cup with great satisfaction, and 
almost without taking breath ; but her father 
tasted his and did not seem to care for it, eat- 
ing only a little food with evident effort. 

" Now I thought you would relish a good 
cup of coffee," said his wife, with much con- 
cern; but the man answered sadly that he 
could n't eat ; he felt all broken down. 

" It was a perishing day for you to take that 
long ride. It 's the bleakest road round here, 
that marsh road is, and you hardly ate a 
mouthful of breakfast. I wish you had got 
something to warm you up before you started 



•%?• 



54 FARMER FINCH, 

to come back/' said his wife, looking at him 
anxiously. " I believe I '11 get you something 
now," and she went to find a treasured bottle, 
long stored away to be used in case of chill or 
illness, for John Finch was a temperate man. 

" I declare I forgot to milk," he said, hope- 
lessly. " I don't know 's such a thing ever 
happened to me before. I thought there was 
something else when I was out to the barn, 
and I sat down on the grin'-stone frame and 
tried to think what it was, but I could n't." 

"I'll milk," said Polly; and she whisked 
up-stairs and replaced her best dress, which had 
been already turned up and well aproned, by 
a worn old frock which she had used on days 
of cleaning, or washing, or other rough work, 
when she had lent a hand to help her mother. 
It was nothing new for her, a farmer's 
daughter bom and bred, to imdertake this 
work, but she made a distinct change of di- 
rection that night, and as she sat milking in 
the cold bam by the dull light of the lantern 
a certain pleasure stole over her. She was 
not without her ambitions, but they had never 
flown with free wings up an imaginary career 
of school-teaching. " I do believe mother and 



FARMER FINCH. 66 

I can earn money enough to take care of us," 
ahe said to herself, '^ and next spring I 'm going 
to set out as much land as father will let me 
have with strawberries." Her thoughts never 
were busier than that night. The two cows 
looked round at her with surprise, and seemed 
to value her good-natured words and hurried 
pats as she left them. She disturbed a sleepy 
row of hens perched on the rail of the hay 
cart, and thought it was a pity there was not a 
better place for them, and that they should be 
straying about. '^ I 'm going to read up some 
of the old numbers of the Agriculturist^^^ she 
said, ^^and see what I can do about having 
eggs to sell." It more was evident that Polly 
was fired with a great enthusiasm, but she re- 
membered suddenly another new great interest 
which was a secret as yet even from her mother. 
This remembrance gave her a little uneasiness. 
It was still early when the supper table had 
been cleared away, and the milk strained and 
set aside in the pantiy. John Finch had 
drawn his chair close to the stove, and when 
his wife and daughter sat down also, ready 
to begin the evening which showed so little 
promise of hilarity, they saw that he was 
crying. 



56 FARMER FINCH. 

"Why, father!" Polly exclaimed, half 
frightened, for this was something she did not 
remember ever seeing since she was a child. 
And his wife said nothing, but came and stood 
beside him and watched him as if the vague 
sense of coming trouble which had haunted her 
all day was going to explain itself by some 
terrible crisis. 

" I 'm all broken down," the poor man 
sobbed. " I used to think I was going to be 
somebody, and get ahead, and nothing has 
gone as I wanted it to. I 'm in debt more 
than you think, and I don't know which way 
to look. The farm don't yield me as it used 
to, and I don't grudge what we 've done for 
the girl, but it 's been aJl we could carry, and 
here she 's failed of getting a place to teach. 
Everything seems to go against us." 

This was really most sad and death-like ; it 
truly seemed as if the wheels of existence had 
stopped ; there seemed to be nothing to fol- 
low this unhappy day but disgrace and de- 
spair. But Polly was the first to speak, and 
her cheeks grew very red : " Father, I don't 
think you have any right to speak so. If we 
can't make our living one way, we will another. 



FARMER FINCH. 57 

Losing that money in the bank is n't the worst 
thing that could have happened to us, and now 
I am going to take hold with you right here 
at home, as I said before supper. You think 
there is n't much that a woman can do, but 
we '11 see. How much do you owe ? " 

But John Finch shook his head sadly, and 
at first refused to tell. " It would have been 
nothing if I had had my bonds to help me 
out," he finally confessed, " but now I don't 
see how I ever can pay three hundred dollars." 

In a little while he rose wearily, though it 
was only a little past six, and said that he 
must go to bed, and his wife followed him to 
his room as if he were a child. This break- 
ing down was truly a most painful and fright- 
ful thing, and Polly was not surprised to be 
wakened from her uneasy sleep a few hours 
later, for she had worried and lain awake in a 
way that rarely happened, fearing that her fa- 
ther would be ill, and wondering what plans it 
would be best to make for his assistance in the 
coming year. She believed that they could do 
much better with the farm, and she made up 
her mind to be son and daughter both. 

Later Mrs. Finch called her, hurriedly com- 



58 FARMER FINCH. 

ing half-way up the staircase with a light. 
"Your father is sick," she said, anxiously. 
" I don't know whether it is more than a chill, 
but he 's in great pain, and I wish we could 
get the doctor. Can't you wrap up warm and 
go over to Minton's and see if they can't send 
somebody ? " 

" There 's nobody there," said Polly ; " the 
boys are both away. I '11 go myself, and get 
back before you begin to miss me ; " and she 
was already dressing as fast as she could. . In 
that quiet neighborhood she had no thought of 
fear ; it was not like Polly to be afraid, at any 
rate ; and after a few words to her father, and 
making a bright fire in the little fire-place of the 
bed-room, she put on her warm old hood and 
mittens, and her mother's great plaid shawl, 
and scurried away up the road. It was a mile 
and a half to the doctor's house, and with every 
step she grew more eager to reach it. The 
clouds had broken away somewhat, and the 
stars' bright rays came darting like glistening 
needles at one's eyes, so keen and piercing they 
were. The wind had gone down, and a heavy 
coldness had fallen upon the earth, as if the 
air, like water, had frozen and become denser. 



FARMER FINCH. 59 

It seemed another world altogether, and the 
old dog, that had left his snug corner behind 
the kitchen stove to follow PoUy, kept close at 
her side, as if he lacked his nsual courage. On 
the ridges the cedar-trees stood up thinner and 
blacker than ever ; the northern lights were 
making the sky white and strange with their 
mysterious light. Polly ran and walked by 
turns, feeling warmed and quickened by the 
exercise. She was not averse to the long walk 
at that time of night ; she had a comfortable 
sense of the strong young life that was hers to 
use and command. 

Suddenly she heard the sound of other* foot- 
steps besides her own on the frozen ground, 
and stopped, feeling for the first time anything 
like fear. Her jRrst impulse was to hide, but 
the road was wide and unsheltered, and there 
was nothing to do but to go on. She thought 
next that it might be somebody whom she could 
send the rest of the way, and in another min- 
ute she heard a familiar whistle, and called 
out, not without relief, " Is that you, Jerry ? " 

The figure stopped, and answered nothing, 
and Polly hurried nearer, and spoke again. 

" For Heaven's sake, what sends you out this 



60 FARMER FINCH. 

time o' night ? " asked the young man, almost 
impatiently ; and Polly in her turn became a 
little angry with him, she could not have told 
why. 

" I 'm not out for pleasure," she answered, 
with some spirit. ^^ Father is taken very sick ; 
we are afraid it is pneumonia ; and I 'm going 
for the doctor. There was nobody to send." 

" I was coming up from Portsmouth to-day," 
said the young man, ^^ and I lost the last train, 
so I came on a freight train with some fellows 
I know, and I thought I 'd foot it over from 
the depot. We were delayed a good while or 
it would n't have been so late. There was a 
car ofiP the track at Beverly." 

He had turned, and was walking beside 
Polly, who wondered that he had not sense 
enough to offer to call the doctor for her. She 
did not like his gallantry, and was in no mood 
for friendliness. She noticed that he had been 
drinking, but he seemed perfectly sober; it 
was between Jerry Minton and herself that 
something almost like love-making had showed 
itself not long before, but somehow any ten- 
derness she had suspected herself of cherishing 
for him had suddenly vanished from her heart 
and mind. 



FARMER FINCH, 61 

^^ I was all knocked of a heap in Salem this 
morning to hear that the bank had failed. Our 
folks will lose something, bat I suppose it '11 
about ruin your father. Seems to affect him a 
good deal, don't it ? " 

"It hasn't quite ruined us," said Polly, 
angrily, and walked faster and faster. 

" I 've been turning it over in my mind to- 
day a good deal," said Jerry, " I hope you 
will call on me for anything I can do, 'specially 
now your father 's going to be laid up." 

" Thank you," said Polly, stiffly ; and pres- 
ently she stopped in the road, and turned and 
looked at him in a sharp and not very admir- 
iug way. 

" You might as well go home," she told him, 
not unkindly. " I 've got to the village now, 
and I shall ride home with the doctor ; there 's 
no need for you to come back out of your 
way." And Jerry, after a feeble remonstrance, 
obeyed. 

The doctor was used to being summoned at 
such hours, and when he found it was Polly 
Finch he dressed hurriedly, and came down^ 
brimful of kindness and sympathy, to let her 
in. 



62 FARMER FINCH, 

He listened almost in silence to what Polly 
had to say of the case, and then, taking a 
bottle here and there from his stores in the lit- 
tle room that served him as his office, he fast- 
ened his great-coat, and pulled down the fur 
cap that had been a valiant helmet against the 
blows of many winter storms, and they went 
out together to the stable. The doctor was an 
elderly man and lame, and he was delighted 
with the brisk way in which his young com- 
panion stepped forward and helped him. The 
lantern that hung in the warm little stable was 
not very bright, but she quickly found her way 
about, and the horse was soon harnessed. She 
found that the harness needed tightening, the 
doctor having used it that day for another car- 
riage, and as he saw her try it and rebuckle it, 
he felt a warm glow of admiration, and said to 
himself that not one woman in a hundred 
would have done such a thing. They wrapped 
' themselves in the heavy blankets and buffalo- 
skins, and set forth, the doctor saying that 
they could not go much faster than a walk. 

He was still a little sleepy, and Polly did 
not have much to say at first, except in answer 
to one or two questions which he asked about 



FARMER FINCH. 63 

her father's condition ; but at last she told him 
of her own accord of the troubles that had 
fallen upon them that day. It already seemed 
a week to her since the morning ; she felt as if 
she had grown years older instead of hours. 

" Your father has a bad trouble about the 
heart," said the doctor, hesitatingly. "^ I think 
it is just as well you should know it, and if this 
is pneumonia, it may go very hard with him. 
And if he pulls through, as I hope he will if 
we catch him in time, you must see to it that 
he is very careful all the rest of the winter, and 
doesn't expose himself in bad weather. He 
must n't go into the woods chopping, or any- 
thing of that sort." 

"' I 'm much obliged to you for telling me," 
said Polly, bravely. " I have made up my 
mind to stay right at home. I was in hopes to 
get a school, but I could n't do it, and now I 
can see it was meant that I shouldn't, for 
mother could n't get along without me if fa- 
ther 's going to be sick. I keep wishing I had 
been a boy," — and she gave a shaky little 
laugh that had a very sad tone in it, — " for it 
seems as if father needed my help on the farm 
more than mother does in the house, and I 



64 FARMER FINCH, 

don't see why he should n't have it," she con- 
fessed, filled with the courage of her new opin- 
ion. ^^ I believe that it is the only thing for 
me to do. I always had a great knack at mak- 
ing things grow, and I never should be so 
happy anywhere as working out-doors and 
handling a piece of land. I 'd rather work 
with a hoe than a ferule any day," and she 
gave the queer little laugh again. Nobody 
would have suspected she foimd it so hard to 
bear the doctor's bad news. 

" But what is it you mean to do ? " asked 
the doctor, in a most respectful tone, though 
he was inwardly much amused. 

Polly hesitated. " I have been thinking that 
we might raise a good many more early vegeta- 
bles, and ever so much more poultry. Some of 
our land is so sheltered that it is very early, 
you know, and it 's first-rate light loam. We 
always get peas and potatoes and beans long 
before the Mintons and the rest of the people 
down our way, and there 's no trouble about a 
market." 

" But you 'U have to hire help," the doctor 
suggested. 

And Polly answered that she had thought 



FARMER FINCH. 65 

of that, but she knew she could manage some- 
how. " It 's a new thmg, you see, doctor," she 
said, much encouraged by his evident interest, 
"but I mean to work my way through it. 
Father has sold wood and sold hay, and if we 
had too much butter or too many eggs, and 
more early potatoes than we wanted, he would 
sell those; but it seemed as if the farm was 
there only to feed us, and now I believe I can 
make it feed a good many other people be- 
sides ; and we must get money somehow. 
People let girls younger than I get married, 
an^ nobody thinks it is any risk to let them 
try housekeeping. I 'm going to try farm- 
keeping." 

The old doctor laughed. "You've got a 
wise head for such a young one," he said, 
" and now I 'U help you every way I can. I 'm 
not a rich man, but I 'm comfortably off for a 
country doctor, and I 've got more money put 
away than I am likely to use ; so, if you fall 
short at any time, you just come and tell me, 
and nobody shall know anything about it, and 
you can take your own time to pay it back. I 
know more about doctoring than I do about 
farming, or I 'd give you plenty of advice. 
But you go ahead, Polly." 



66 FARMER FINCH. 

Polly nestled down into the buffaloes, feel- 
ing already that she had become a business 
woman. The old wagon bumped and shook 
as they went along, and in the dim light Polly 
caught sight of the barberry bush — only a 
darker shadow on the high bank at the side of 
the road — and she thought of it affectionately 
as if it were a friend. Young Minton, whom 
they overtook at last, called out loudly some 
good wish that they might find Mr. Finch bet- 
ter, and the doctor asked sharply who he was, 
as they drove by. Polly told him, not without 
a feeling of embarrassment, which was very 
provoking to her. 

^^ I must say I never liked that tribe," said 
the doctor, hastily. ^^I always hate to have 
them send for me." 

When they reached the farm, Polly urged 
the doctor to go into the house at once. There 
was a bright light in the kitchen aod in the 
bedroom that opened out of it, and the girl 
was almost afraid to go in after she had led 
the horse into the bam and covered him with 
the blanket. The old sorrel was within easy 
reach of the overhanging edge of the haymow, 
and she left him munching comfortably. As 



FARMER FINCH, 67 

she opened the inner door of the kitchen she 
heard her father's voice, weak and sharp, and 
the doctor speaking in assuring tones with 
hearty strength, but the contrast of the two 
voices sounded very sad to Polly, It seemed 
to her as if she had been gone a great whUe, 
and she feared to look at her father lest he 
might have changed sadly. As she came to 
the bedroom door, the sight of her rosy-cheeked 
and eager, sorry face seemed to please him, and 
his own face brightened. 

" You 're a good girl, Polly," said he. " I 'm 
sorry you had such a bad time." He looked 
very ill already, and Polly could not say any- 
thing in answer. She rebuilt the fire, and 
then went to stand by the table, as she used 
when she was a little child, to see the doctor 
take out his doses of medicine. 

Very early in the morning Jerry Minton's 
mother came knocking at the door, which Polly 
had locked after the doctor had gone away in 
the night. She had pushed the bolt with im- 
wonted care, as if she wished to bar the en- 
trance to any further trouble that might be ly- 
ing in wait for them outside. Mrs. Minton 
was ready with her expressions of sympathy, 



68 FARMER FINCH, 

but somehow Polly wished she would go away. 
She took a look at the sick man, who was 
sleeping after the suffering and wakefulness 
of the night, and shook her head ominously, 
for which Polly could have struck her. She 
was an unpleasant, croaking sort of woman, 
and carried in her whole manner a conscious- 
ness of the altered fortunes of the Finches; 
and she even condoled with Polly on her dis- 
appointment about the schooL 

" Jerry spoke about meeting you going for 
the doctor," she said in conclusion. " I told 
him I didn't know what you would think 
about catching him out so late at night ; but 
he was to Portsmouth, and mistook the time 
of the train. I 've been joking him for some 
time past. I 've about made up my mind 
there 's some attraction to Portsmouth. He 
was terrible took with that Miss Hallett who 
was stopping to the minister's in the summer." 

This was more than Polly could bear, for it 
was only a short time since Mrs. Minton had 
been paying her great attention, and wishing 
that she and Jerry would make a match of it, 
as the farms joined, and the farm-work was 
growing too heavy for her as she became older. 



FARMER FINCH, 69 

" If you mean Mary Hallett, she was mar- 
ried in September to a young man in Boston, 
partner in a commission firm," said Polly ; and 
Mrs. Minton, for that time at any rate, was 
routed horse and foot. 

'* I hate that woman I " she said, angrily, as 
she shut the door, not very gently, after her. 

It was a long, hard illness that followed, and 
the younger and the elder Mary Finch were 
both tired and worn out before it ended in a 
slow convalescence that in its dangers and 
troubles was almost as bad as the illness itself. 
The doctor was most kind and helpful in other 
ways than with his medicines. It was a most 
cheerful and kindly presence, and more than 
once Polly di'ove back to the village with him, 
or went with her own horse to bring him to 
the farm, and they became fast friends. The 
girl knew without being told that it would be 
a long time before her father would grow 
strong again, if that time ever came at all. 
They had got on very well without help, she 
and her mother. Some of the neighbors had 
offered their services in-doors and out, but 
these latter offers were only occasionally ac- 
cepted. 



70 FARMER FINCH. 

The oxen had been hired by a man who was 
hauling salt hay to town, and Polly had taken 
care of the liorse and the two cows. She had 
split the firewood and brought it in, and had 
done what little rough work had to be attended 
to in these weeks in spite of her mother's un- 
willingness. To tell the truth, she enjoyed it 
after the heat and stillness of the house, and 
when she could take the time to run out for 
a little while, it was always to take a look at 
some part of the farm, and though many of 
her projects proved to be castles in the air, she 
found almost her only pleasure in these sad 
winter days in building them smd thinking 
them over. 

Before her father's illness she would have 
turned most naturally to Jerry Minton for 
help and sympathy, for he had made himself 
very kind and pleasant to her then. Polly had 
been thought a good match, since she was an 
only child, and it was everywhere known that 
John Finch and his wife had both inherited 
money. Besides, it gave the more dignity to 
her position that she had been so long away 
at school, and such good accounts of her stand- 
ing there had reached her native place ; and 



•»» 



\ 
\ 



FARMER FINCH. 71 

Polly was uncommonly good-looking, if tbe 
truth must be told, which Jerry Minton's eyes 
had been quick to notice. Though it was 
known at once through the town what a plight 
the Finches' affairs were in, Jerry had come 
at first, apparently unconscious of his mother's 
withdrawal of his attentions, with great show 
of sympathy and friendliness, to offer to watch 
with the sick man by night, or to be of any use 
by day, and he had been much mortified and 
surprised at Polly's unmistakable repulse. Her 
quick instinct had detected an assumption of 
condescension and patronage on his part as 
weU as his mother's, and the growing fondness 
which she had felt earlier in that season turned 
to a dislike that grew much faster in the win- 
ter days. Her mother noticed the change in 
her manner, and one night as they sat together 
in the kitchen Mrs. Finch whispered a gentle 
warning to her daughter. ^^I thought one v 
time that there might be something between 
you and Jerry," she said. " I hope you won't 
let your duty to your father and me stand in 
the way of your settling yourself comfortably. 
I should n't like to think we were going to 
leave you alone. A woman 's better to have 
a home^f her own." 



72 FARMER FINCH. 

PoUy turned so red that her mother could 
see the color even in the dim light by which 
they watched. 

** Don't you worry about me," said the girl, 
^^ This is my home, and I would n't marry 
Jerry Minton if he were the President." 

That was a black and snowless winter until 
late in January. There, near the sea, such 
seasons are not so uncommon as they are far- 
ther inland ; but the desolation of the land- 
scape struck Polly Finch all the more forcibly 
since it was anawered to by the anxiety and 
trouble that had fallen into her life. She had 
not been at home in midwinter for several 
years before, and in those earlier days she had 
never noticed the outward world as she had 
learned to do as she grew older. The farm 
was a pleasant group of fields in summer, ly- 
ing among the low hills that kept away both 
the winds from the sea and the still keener 
and bitterer northwest wind. Yet the plain, 
warm, story-and-a-half house, with its square 
front yard, with lilac and rose bushes, and the 
open side yard with its close green turf, and 
the bams and outbuildings beyond, was only a 
little way from the marshes. From Polly's 



FARMER FINCH. 73 

own upper window there was an outlook that 
way over a low slope of one of the pasture 
hills, and sometimes when she felt tired and 
dreary, and looked out there, it seemed to her 
as if the half-dozen black cedars were stand- 
ing there watching the house, and waiting for 
a still greater sorrow and evil fortune to go in 
at the door. . Our heroine*s life was not a lit- 
tle lonely, and it would have been much worse 
if she had not been so busy and so f idl of care. 
She missed the girls who had been her com- 
panions at school, and from having her duties 
marked out for her by her teachers, and noth- 
ing to do but to follow set tasks, and do certain 
things at certain hours, it was a great change 
to being her own mistress, charged with not 
only her own but other people's welfare. 

The women from the few neighboring houses 
who came in to pay friendly visits, or to help 
with the housework, said very good things 
about Polly afterward. It had been expected 
that she would put on at least a few fine airs, 
but she was so dutiful, and worked so hard and 
so sensibly, and with si^ph manifest willing- 
ness and interest, that no one could help prais- 
ing her. A very old neighbor, who was still 



74 FARMER FINCH. 

mindful of the proprieties of life, though she 
had become too feeble to be of much practical 
use in the event of a friend's illness, came one 
afternoon to pay a visit. She was terribly 
fatigued after the walk which had been so long 
for her, and Polly waited upon her kindly, and 
brought her some refreshments, all in the 
middle of one of her busiest afternoons. Poor 
old Mrs. Wall ! she made her little call upon 
the sick man, who was almost too weak to even 
show his gratitude that she had made so great 
an effort to keep up the friendly custom, and 
after saying sadly that she used to be a great 
hand to tend the sick, but her day was over, 
she returned to the kitchen, when Polly drew 
the big rocking-chair to the warmest comer, 
and entertained her to the best of her power. 
The old woman's eye fell upon a great pile of 
newspapers. 

" I suppose you are a great hand to read, 
after all your schooling ? " and Polly answered 
that she did like to read very much, and 
added : " Those are old numbers of the Agri- 
culturist Father has taken it a good many 
years, and I Ve taken to studying farming." 

Mrs. Wall noticed the little blush that f ol- 



FARMER FINCH, 75 

lowed this announcement, and did not question 
its seriousness and truthfulness. 

^' I 'm going to help father carry on the 
farm," said Polly, suddenly, fearing that her 
guest might think she meant to marry, and 
only take the in-door part of the farm's busi- 
ness. 

*'*' Well, two heads are better than one," said 
the old lady, after a minute's reflection ; ^^ only 
an old horse and a young one don't always 
pull well together. But I can see, if my eyes 
are n't what they used to be, that you are a 
good smart girl, with some snap to ye. I guess 
you 've got power enough to turn 'most any kind 
of a mill. There was my own first cousin Se- 
rena Allen, her husband was killed in the last 
war, and she was left with two children when 
she was n't a great deal older than you be, and 
she run the farm, and lived well, and laid up a 
handsome property. She was some years older 
than I, but she has n't been dead a great many 
years. She 'd plow a piece of ground as well 
as a man. They used to call her Farmer Al- 
len. She was as nice a woman as T ever knew." 

Polly laughed more heartily than she had 
for a good while, and it did her father good to 



76 FARMER FINCH. 

hear her ; but later, when the visitor had gone, 
in spite of Polly's offer to drive her home a 
little later when another neighbor returned 
the horse, our friend watched her go away with 
feeble steps, a bent, decrepit figure, almost 
worn out with spending so many years in a 
world of hard work. She might have stood 
for a picture of old age, and Polly felt it as 
she «tood at the window. It had never come 
home to her thoroughly before, the inevitable- 
ness of growing old, and of the limitation of 
this present life ; how soon the body loses its 
power, and the strength of the mind wanes 
with it. All that old Mrs. Wall could do in 
this world was done, and her account was vir- 
tually closed. ^^ Here I am just starting out," 
said unlucky John Finch's only daughter. " I 
did think I might be going to have a great 
career sometimes when I was at school, and 
here I am settling down just like everybody 
else, and only one wave, after all, instead of 
being a whole tide. And it is n't going to be 
a gi*eat while before I have as hard work to 
get up that little hill as old Mrs. Wall. But 
I 'm going to beat even her cousin Serena 
Allen. I am going to be renowned as Farmer 
Finch." 



FARMER FINCH. 77 

Polly found it very hard to wait until it 
should be time to make her garden and plant 
it, and every day made her more impatient, 
while she plied her father with questions, and 
asked his opinion so many times as to the 
merits of different crops, that he was tired of 
the subject altogether. Through many seasons 
he had tried these same experiments, with not 
very great success, and he could not imagine 
the keen interest and enthusiasm with which 
Polly's soul was fired. She had never known 
such a late spring, and the scurries of snow 
in March and early April filled her with dis- 
may, as if each had blighted aiid frost-bitten 
her whole harvest. The day the garden was 
plowed was warm and spring-like, and John 
Finch crept out slowly, with his stick held fast 
in a pale and withered-looking hand, to see the 
work go on. He groaned when he saw what a 
great piece of ground was marked out by the 
long first furrows, and felt a new sense of 
his defeated and weak condition. He began 
to protest angrily at what he believed to be his 
daughter's imprudent nonsense, but the thought 
struck him that Polly might know what she 
was about better than he did, and he fell back 



78 FARMER FINCH. 

contentedly upon bis confidence in her, and 
leaned on the fence in the sun, feeling veiy 
grateful that somebody else had taken things 
in charge, he was so dull and unequal to mak- 
ing any effort. "Polly 's got power," he told 
himself several times that day, with great 
pride and satisfaction. 

As the sumftier went on, and early potatoes 
from the Finch farm were first in the mar- 
ket, though everybody who saw them planted 
had believed they would freeze and never 
grow, and the other crops had sometimes 
failed, but for the most part flourished fa- 
mously, PoUy began to attract a good deal 
of attention, for she manifested uncommon 
shrewdness and business talent, and her enter- 
prise, held in check by her father's experience, 
wrought wonders in the garden and fields. 
Over and over John Finch said, admiringly, 
to his wife, " How PoUy does take hold of 
things I " and while he was quick to see the 
objections to her plans, and had failed in his 
own ^e affairs because he was afraid to take 
risk, he was easily persuaded into thinking it 
was worth while to do the old work in new 
ways. It was lucky that Polly had a grand 



FARMER FINCH, 79 

capital of strength to live upon, for she gave 
herself little rest all summer long ; she was up 
early every morning and hard at work, and 
only wished that the days were twice as long. 
She minded neither heat nor rain, and having 
seen her way clear to employ a strong country 
boy whom the doctor had met in his rounds and 
recommended, she took care of the great gar- 
den with Hs help ; and when she had occasion 
to do battle with the market-men who came 
foraging that way, she came off victorious in 
the matter of fair prices. 

Now that so much has been said about the 
days and the thoughts that led to the carrying 
out of so bold a scheme, it is a pity there is not 
time enough to give a history of the struggles 
and successes of that first summer. There never 
was a yoimg man just " out of his time " and re- 
joicing in his freedom, who went to work more 
diligently and eagerly than Polly Finch, and 
few have set their wits at work on a New 
England farm half so intelligently. She 
managed a great flock of poultry with admir- 
able skill. Her geese walked in a stately pro- 
cession all that summer to and from their 
pleasure-ground at the edge of the marsh, and 



80 FARMER FINCH. 

not a hen that stole her nest but was tracked 
to earth like a fox and cooped triumphantly. 
She tinkered the rickety bee-hives that stood 
in a long and unremunerative row in the gar- 
den until the bees became good housekeepers 
and excellent providers for very shame. She 
gathered more than one of the swarms herself 
without a sting, and by infinite diligence she 
waged war successfully on the currant worms, 
with the result that she had a great crop of 
currants when everybody else's came to grief. 
She wondered why the butter that she and her 
mother made brought only a third-rate price, 
and bought a pound of the very best for a 
pattern, and afterward was sparing of salt, 
and careful to chum while the cream was 
sweet and fresh. She sold the oxen, and 
bought another horse instead for the lighter 
team, which would serve her purpose better, 
and every morning, after the crops began to 
yield, a wagon-load of something or other 
went from the farm to market. 

She was as happy as a queen, and as well 
and strong as girls ought to be ; and though 
some people laughed a good deal, and thought 
she ought to be ashamed to work on the farm 



FARMER FINCH, 81 

like a man, they were forced to like her all the 
better when they saw her ; and when she came 
into chnrch on Sunday, nobody could have said 
that she had become unwomanly and rough. 
Her hands grew to need a larger pair of gloves 
than she was used to wearing, but that did not 
trouble her ; and she liked a story-book, or a 
book with more lessons in it still, better than 
ever she had. Two girls who had been her 
best friends at school came in the course of the 
summer to visit her, and were asked out into 
the garden, after the early breakfast, because 
she must weed the beets, and after sitting still 
for a while on a garden bench, they began to 
help her, and both got headaches ; but at the 
end of the week, having caught the spirit and 
something of the enjoyment of her life, they 
would have been glad to spend the rest of the 
summer with her. There is something delight- 
ful in keeping so close to growing things, and 
one gets a great sympathy with the life that is 
in nature, with the flourishing of some plants 
and the hindered life of others, with the fruit- 
fuhiess and the ripening and the gathering-in 
that may be watched an tended and counted 
on one small piece of ground. 



82 FARMER FINCH. 

Everything seemed to grow that she touched, 
and it was as if the strength of her own nature 
was like a brook that made everything green 
where it went. She had her failures and disap- 
pointments, and she reaped little in some places 
where she had looked for great harvests. The 
hay was partly spoiled by some wet weather, 
but there was still enough for their own stock, 
and they sold the poultry for double the usual 
money. The old doctor was Polly's firm friend, 
and he grew as fond of her as if she were his 
own daughter, and could hardly force himself 
to take the money she brought back in pay- 
ment of a loan she had been forced to ask of 
him, unknown even to her mother, once when 
things went hard against her enterprise late in 
the spring. 

John Finch gained strength slowly all that 
summer, but his heart grew lighter day by day, 
and he and Polly made enthusiastic plans in 
the summer evenings for increased sheep-rais- 
ing on their wide-spread pasture-land, and for 
a great poultry-yard, which was to bring them 
not a little wealth. And on Thanksgiving-day, 
when our farmer counted up her gains finally, 
she was out of debt, and more than satisfied 



FARMER FINCH. 88 

and contented. She said over and over again 
that she never should be happier than she had 
been that summer. But more than one short- 
sighted towns-woman wondered that she should 
make nothing of herself when she had had a 
good education, and many spoke as if Polly 
would have been more admirable and respect- 
able if she had succeeded in getting the little 
town school teachership. She said herself that 
she was thankful for everything she had 
learned at school that had helped her about 
her farming and gardening, but she was not 
meant for a teacher. ^^ Unless folks take a 
lesson from your example," said the doctor. 
^^ I 've seen a good deal of human nature in 
my day, and I have found that people who 
look at things as they are, and not as they 
wish them to be, are the ones who suicceed. 
And when you see that a thing ought to be 
done, dither do it yourself or be sure you get it 
done. ^ Here I 've no school to teach, and fa- 
ther has lost his money and his health. We 've 
got the farm ; but I 'm only a girl. The land 
won't support us if we let it on the halves. 
That 's what you might have said, and sat 
down and cried. But I liked the way you un- 



84 FARMER FINCH. 

dertook things. The farm was going to be 
worked and made to pay; you were going 
to do it; and you did do it. I saw you 
mending up a bit of fence here and there, and 
I saw you busy when other folks were lazy. 
You 're a good girl, Polly Finch, and I wish 
there were more like you," the doctor con- 
cluded. ^^You take hold of life in the right 
way. There 's plenty of luck for you in the 
world. And now I 'm going to let you have 
some capital this next spring, at a fair inter- 
est, or none, and you can put yourself in a 
way to make something handsome." 

This is only a story of a girl whom fate and 
fortune seemed to baffle ; a glimpse of the way 
in which she made the best of things, and con- 
quered circumstances, instead of being what 
cowards call the victim of circumstances. 
Whether she will live and die as Farmer 
Finch, nobody can say, but it is not very 
likely. One thing is certain : her own charac- 
ter had made as good a summer's growth as 
anything on her farm, and she was ashamed 
to remember that she had ever thought seri- 
ously of loving Jerry Minton. It will be a 
much better man than he whom she falls in 



FARMER FINCH. 86 

love with next. And whatever may fall to her 
lot later, she will always be glad to think that 
in that sad emergency she had been able to 
save her father and mother from anxiety and 
despair, and that she had turned so eagerly and 
readily to the work that was useful and possi- 
ble when her own plans had proved impossible, 
and her father's strength had failed. 

All that is left to be said of this chapter of 
her story is that one day when she was walking 
to the village on one of her rare and happy 
holidays she discovered that, in widening a bit 
of the highway, her friend the little barberry 
bush was to be uprooted and killed. And she 
took a spade that was lying idle, the workmen 
having gone down the road a short distance, 
and dug carefully around the roots, and put 
her treasure in a safe place by the wall. 
When she returned, later in the day, she 
shouldered it, thorns and all, and carried it 
home, and planted it in an excellent situation 
by the orchard fence ; and there it still grows 
and flourishes. I suppose she will say to her- 
self as long as she lives, when things look ugly 
and troublesome, " I 'U see if the other side is 
any better, like my barberry bush." 



k . 



MARSH ROSEMARY. 
I. 

One hot afternoon in August, a single mov- 
ing figure might have been seen following a 
straight road that crossed the salt marshes of 
Walpole. Everybody else had either stayed 
at home or crept into such shade as could be 
found near at hand. The thermometer marked 
at least ninety degrees. There was hardly 
a fishing -boat to be seen on the glistening 
sea, only far away on the hazy horizon two 
or three coasting schooners looked like ghostly 
flying Dutchmen, becalmed for once and mo- 
tionless. 

Ashore, the flaring light of the sun brought 
out the fine, clear colors of the level landscape. 
The marsh grasses were a more vivid green 
than usual, the brown tops of those that were 
beginning to go to seed looked almost red, and 
the soil at the edges of the tide inlets seemed 
to be melting into a black, pitchy substance 



MARSH ROSEMARY. 87 

like the dark pigments on a painter's palette/ 
Where the land was higher the hot air flick- 
ered above it dizzily. This was not an after- 
noon that one would naturally choose for a long 
walk, yet Mr. Jerry Lane stepped briskly for- 
ward, and appeared to have more than usual 
energy. His big boots trod down the soft car- 
pet of pussy-clover that bordered the dusty, 
whitish road. He struck at the stationary pro- 
cession of thistles with a little stick as he went 
by. Flight after flight of yellow butterflies 
fluttered up as he passed, and then settled 
down again to their thistle flowers, while on the 
shiny cambric back of Jerry's Sunday waist- 
coat basked at least eight large green-headed 
flies in complete security. 

It was difficult to decide why the Sunday 
waistcoat should have been put on that Satur- 
day afternoon. Jerry had not thought it im- 
portant to wear his best boots or best trousers, 
and had left his coat at home altogether. He 
smiled as he walked along, and once when he 
took off his hat, as a light breeze came that 
way, he waved it triumphantly before he put 
it on again. Evidently this was no common 
errand that led him due west, and made him 



88 MARSH ROSEMARY, 

forget the hot weather, and caused him to 
shade his eyes with his hand, as he looked ea- 
gerly at a clump of trees and the chimney of a 
small house a little way beyond the boundary of 
the marshes, where the higher ground began. 

Miss Ann Floyd sat by her favorite window, 
sewing, twitching her thread less decidedly 
than usual, and casting a wistful glance now 
and then down the road or at the bees in 
her gay little garden outside. There was a 
grim expression overshadowing her firmly^t, 
angular face, and the frown that always ap- 
peared on her forehead when she sewed or read 
the newspaper was deeper and straighter than 
usual. She did not look as if she were con- 
scious of the heat, though she had dressed her- 
self inim old-fashioned sldrt of sprigged lawn 
and a loose jacket of thin white dimity with 
out-of-date flowing sleeves. Her sandy hair 
was smoothly brushed; one lock betrayed a 
slight crinkle at its edg^, but it owed nothing 
to any encouragement of Nancy Floyd's. A 
hard, honest, kindly face this was, of a woman 
whom everybody trusted, who might be ex- 
pected to give of whatever she had to give, 



MARSH ROSEMARY. 89 

good measure, pressed down and running over. 
She was a lonely soul ; she had no near rela- 
tives in the world. It seemed always as if 
nature had been mistaken in not planting her 
somewhere in a large and busy household. 

The little square room, kitchen in winter 
and sitting-room in simimer, was as clean and 
bare and thrifty as one would expect the dwell- 
ing-place of such a woman to be. She sat in a 
straight-backed, splint-bottomed kitchen chair, 
and always put back her spool with a click on 
the very same spot on the window-sill. You 
would think she had done with youth and with, 
love affairs, yet you might as well expect the 
ancient cherry-tree in the corner of her yard 
to cease adventuring its white blossoms when 
the May sun shone ! No woman in Walpole 
had more bravely and patiently borne the bur- 
den of loneliness and lack of love. Even now 
her outward behavior gave no hint of the new 
excitement and delight that filled her heart. 

^' Land sakes alive I " she says to herself 
presently, " there comes Jerry Lane. I expect, 
if he sees me settin' to the winder, he '11 come 
in an' dawdle round till supper time I " But 



90 MARSH ROSEMARY. 

good Nancy Floyd smooths her hair hastily as 
she rises and drops her work, and steps back 
toward the middle of the room, watching the 
gate anxiously all the time. Now, Jerry, with 
a crestfallen look at the vacant window, makes 
believe that he is going by, and takes a loiter- 
ing step or two onward, and then stops short ; 
with a somewhat sheepish smile he leans over 
the neat picket fence and examines the blue 
and white and pink larkspur that covers most 
of the space in the little garden. He takes off 
his hat again to cool his forehead, and replaces 
it, without a grand gesture this time, and looks 
again at the window hopefully. 

There is a^ pause. The woman knows that 
the man is sure she is there ; a little blush col- 
ors her thin cheeks as she comes boldly to the 
wide-open front door. 

" What do you think of this kind of weath- 
er ? " asks Jerry Lane, complacently, as he 
leans over the fence, and surrounds himself 
with an air of self-sacrifice. 

" I call it hot," responds the Juliet from her 
balcony, with deliberate assurance, ''but the 
corn needs sun, everybody says. I should n't 
have wanted to toil up from the shore under 



MARSH ROSEMARY. 91 

such a glare, if I liad been you. Better come 
in and set a wliile, and cool off," she added, 
without any apparent enthusiasm. Jerry was 
sure to come, any way. She would rather 
make the suggestion than have him. 

Mr. Lane sauntered in, and seated himself 
opposite his hostess, beside the other small win- 
dow, and watched her admiringly as she took 
up her sewing and worked at it with great 
spirit and purpose. He clasped his hands to- 
gether and leaned forward a little. The shaded 
kitchen was very comfortable, after the glaring 
light outside, and the clean orderliness of the 
few chairs and the braided rugs and the table 
under the clock, with some larkspur and aspar- 
agus in a china vase for decoration, seemed to 
please him unexpectedly. " Now just see what 
ways you women folks have of fixing things up 
smart I " he ventured gallantly. 

Nancy's countenance did not forbid further 
compliment ; she looked at the flowers herself, 
quickly, and explained that she had gathered 
them a while ago to send to the minister's 
sister, who kept house for him. " I saw him 
going by, and expected he 'd be back this same 
road. Mis' Elton 's be'n havin' another o' her 



92 MARSH ROSEMARY. 

dyin' spells this noon, and the deacon went by 
after him hot foot. I 'd souse her well with 
stone-cold water. She never sent for me to set 
up with her; she knows better. Poor man, 
't was likely he was right into the middle of to- 
morrow's sermon. 'T ain't considerate of the 
deacon, and when he knows he 's got a fool for 
a wife, he need n't go round persuading other 
folks she 's so suffering as she makes out. 
They ain't got no larkspur this year to the 
parsonage, and I was going to let the minister 
take this over to Amandy ; but I see his wagon 
over on the other road, going towards the vil- 
lage, about an hour after he went by here." 

It seemed to be a relief to tell somebody 
all these things after such a season of forced 
repression, and Jerry listened with gratifying 
interest. " How you do see through folks I " 
he exclaimed in a mild voice. Jerry could 
be very soft spoken if he thought best. 
" Mis' Elton 's a die-away lookin' creatur'. I 
heard of her saying last Sunday, comin' out o' 
meetin', that she made an effort to git there 
once more, but she expected 't would be the 
last time. Looks as if she eat well, don't 
she ? " he concluded, in a meditative tone. 



MARSH ROSEMARY, 93 

" Eat ! " exclaimed the hostess, with snap- 
ping eyes. " There ain't no woman in town, 
sick or well, can lay aside the food that she 
does. 'T ain't to the table afore folks, but she 
goes seeking round in the cupboards half a 
dozen times a day. An' I 've heard her re- 
mark 't was the last time she ever expected to 
visit the sanctuary as much as a dozen times 
within five years." 

" Some places I 've sailed to they 'd have hit 
her over the head with a club long ago," said 
Jerry, with an utter lack of sympathy that was 
startling. "Well, I must be gettin' back 
again. Talkin' of eatin' makes us think o' 
supper time. Must be past five, ain't it? I 
thought I 'd just step up to see if there wa'n't 
anything I could lend a hand about, this hot 
day." 

Sensible Ann Floyd folded her hands over 
her . sewing, as it lay in her lap, and looked 
straight before her without seeing the pleading 
face of the guest. This moment was a great 
crisis in her life. She was conscious of it, and 
knew well enough that upon her next words 
would depend the course of future events. 
The man who waited to hear what she had 



94 MARSH ROSEMARY. 

to say was indeed many years younger than 
she, was shiftless and vacillating. He had 
drifted to Walpole from nobody knew where, 
and possessed many qualities which she had 
openly rebuked and despised in other men. 
True enough, he was good-looking, but that 
did not atone for the lacks of his character 
and reputation. Yet she knew herself to be 
the better man of the two, and since she had 
surmounted many obstacles already she was 
confident that, with a push here and a pull 
there to steady him, she could keep him in 
good trim. The winters were so long and 
lonely ; her life was in many ways hungry and 
desolate in spite of its thrift and conformity. 
She had laughed scornfully when he stopped, 
one day in the spring, and offered to help her 
weed her garden ; she had even joked with one 
of the neighbors about it. Jerry had been 
growing more and more friendly and pleasant 
ever since. His ease-loving careless nature 
was like a comfortable cushion for hers, with 
its angles, its melancholy anticipations and self- 
questionings. But Jerry liked her, and if she 
liked him and married him, and took him 
home, it was nobody's business ; and in that 



MARSH ROSEMARY. 96 

moment of surrender to Jerry's cause she ar- 
rayed herself at his right hand against the rest 
of the world, ready for warfare with any and 
all of its opinions. 

She was suddenly aware of the sunburnt 
face and light, curling hair of her undeclared 
lover, at the other end of the painted table 
with its folded leaf. She smiled at him va- 
cantly across the larkspur ; then she gave a 
little start, and was afraid that her thoughts 
had wandered longer than was seemly. The 
kitchen clock was ticking faster than usual, as 
if it were trying to attract attention. 

" I guess I '11 be getting home," repeated 
the visitor ruefully, and rose from his chair, 
but hesitated again at an unfamiliar expres- 
sion upon his companion's face. 

" I don't know as I 've got anything extra 
for supper, but you stop," she said, " an' take 
what there is. I would n't go back across 
them marshes right in this heat." 

Jerry Lane had a lively sense of humor, 
and a queer feeling of merriment stole over 
him now, as he watched the mistress of the 
house. She had risen, too ; she looked so 
simple and so frankly sentimental, there was 



96 MARSH ROSEMARY. 

such an incongruous coyness added to her 
usually straightforward, angular appearance, 
that his instinctive laughter nearly got the 
better of him, and might have lost him the 
prize for which he had been waiting these 
many months. But Jerry behaved like a man : 
he stepped forward and kissed Ann Floyd ; he 
held her fast with one arm as he stood beside 
her, and kissed her agam and again. She was 
a dear good woman. She had a fresh young 
heart, in spite of the straight wrinkle in her 
forehead and her work-worn hands. She had 
waited all her days for this joy of having a 
lover. 

II. 

Even Mrs. Elton revived for a day or two 
under the tonic of such a piece of news. That 
was what Jerry Lane had hung round for all 
summer, everybody knew at last. Now he 
would strike work and live at his ease, the 
men grumbled to each other ; but all the 
women of Walpole deplored most the weak- 
ness and foolishness of die elderly bride. Ann 
Floyd was comfortably off, and had something 



MARSH ROSEMARY. 97 

laid by for a rainy day ; she would have done 
vastly better to deny herself such an expen- 
sive and utterly worthless luxury as the kind 
of husband Jerry Lane would make. He had 
idled away his life. He earned a little money 
now and then in seafaring pursuits, but was 
too lazy, in the shore parlance, to tend lobster- 
pots. What was energetic Ann Floyd going 
to do with him? She was always at work, 
always equal to emergencies, and entirely op- 
posed to dullness and idleness and even pla- 
cidity. She Uked people who had some snap 
to them, she often avowed scornfully, and now 
she had chosen for a husband the laziest man 
in Walpole. *'*' Dear sakes," one woman said 
to another, as they heard the news, ** there's 
no fool like an old fool ! " 

The days went quickly by, while Miss Ann 
made her plain wedding clothes. If people 
expected her to put on airs of youth they were 
disappointed. Her wedding bonnet was the 
same sort of bonnet she had. worn for a dozen 
years, and one disappointed critic deplored the 
fact that she had spruced up so little, and kept 
on dressing old enough to look like Jerry 
Lane's mother. As her acquaintances met 



98 MARSH ROSEMARY. 

her they looked at her with close scrutiny, 
expecting to see some outward trace of such 
a silly, uncharacteristic departure from good 
sense and discretion. But Miss Floyd, while 
she was still Miss Floyd, displayed no silliness 
and behaved with dignity, while on the Sun- 
day after a quiet marriage at the parsonage 
she and Jerry Lane walked up the side aisle to 
their pew, the picture of middle-aged sobriety 
and respectability. Their fellow parishoners, 
having recovered from their first astonishment 
and amusement, settled down to the belief that 
the newly married pair understood their own 
business best, and that if anybody could make 
the best of Jerry and get any work out of him, 
it was his capable wife. 

"And if she undertakes to drive him too 
hard he can slip off to sea, and they '11 be rid 
of each other," conunented one of Jerry's 
'longshore companions, as if it were only rea- 
sonable that some refuge should be afforded 
to those who make mistakes in matrimony. 

There did not seem to be any mistake at 
first, or for a good many months afterward. 
The husband liked the comfort that came from 



MARSH ROSEMARY, 99 

such good housekeeping, and enjoyed a deep 
sense of having made a good anchorage in a 
well-sheltered harbor, after many years of 
thriftless improvidence and drifting to and 
fro. There were some hindrances to perfect 
happiness: he had to forego long seasons of 
gossip with his particular friends, and the out- 
door work which was expected of him, though 
by no means heavy for a person of his strength, 
fettered his freedom not a little. To chop 
wood, and take care of a cow, and bring a paU 
of water now and then, did not weary him so 
much as it made him practically understand 
the truth of weakly Sister Elton's remark that 
life was a constant chore. And when poor 
Jerry, for lack of other interest, fancied that 
his health was giving way mysteriously, and 
brought home a bottle of strong liquor to be 
used in case of sickness, and placed it conve- 
niently in the shed, Mrs. Lane locked it up in 
the small chimney cupboard where she kept 
her camphor bottle and her opodeldoc and the 
other family medicines. She was not harsh 
with her husband. She cherished him ten- 
derly, and worked diligently at her trade of 
tailoress, singing her hymns gayly in summer 



100 MARSH ROSEMARY. 

weather ; for -she never had been so happy as 
now, when there was somebody to please be- 
side herself, to cook for and sew for, and to 
live with and love. But Jerry complained 
more and more in his inmost heart that his 
wife expected too much of him. Presently he 
resumed an old habit of resorting to the least 
respected of the two country stores of that 
neighborhood, and sat in the row of loafers on 
the outer steps. ^^ Sakes aUve," said a shrewd 
observer one day, ^' the fools set there and talk 
and talk about what they went through when 
they foUered the sea, till when the women- 
folks comes tradin' they are obleeged to dimb 
right over 'em." 

But things grew worse and worse, until one 
day Jerry Lane came home a little late to din- 
ner, and found hia wife unusuaJly grim-faced 
and impatient. He took his seat with an ami- 
able smile, and showed in every way his de- 
termination not to lose his temper because 
somebody else had. It was one of the days 
when he looked almost boyish and entirely ir- 
responsible. His hair was handsome and curly 
f«>m the dampness of the east wind, and his 
wife was forced to remember how, in the days 



MARSH ROSEMARY. 101 

of their courtship, she used to wish that she 
could pull one of the curling locks straight, for 
the pleasure of seeing it fly back. She felt 
old and tired, and was hurt in her very soul by 
the contrast between herself and her husband. 
" No wonder I am aging, having to lug every- 
thing on my shoulders," she thought. Jerry 
had forgotten to do whatever she had asked 
him for a day or two. He had started out 
that morning to go lobstering, but he had re- 
turned from the direction of the village. 

^^ Nancy," he said pleasantly, after he had 
begun his dinner, a silent and solitary meal, 
while his wife stitched busily by the window, 
and refused to look at him, — " Nancy, I 've 
been thinking a good deal about a project." 

'^ I hope it ain't going to cost so much and 
bring in so little as your other notions have, 
then," she responded, quickly; though some- 
how a memory of the hot day when Jerry came 
and stood outside the fence, and kissed her 
when it was settled he should stay to supper, 
— a memory of that day would keep fading 
and brightening in her mind. 

" Yes," said Jerry, humbly, " I ain't done 
right, Nancy. I ain't done my part for our 



102 MARSH ROSEMARY. 

Kvin'. I 've let it sag right on to you, most 
ever since we was married. There was that 
spell when I was kind of weakly, and had a 
pain- acrost me. I tell you what it is : I never 
was good for nothin' ashore, but now I 've got 
my strength up I 'm going to show ye what I 
can do. I 'm promised to ship with Cap'n 
Low's brother. Skipper Nathan, that sails 
out o' Eastport in the coasting trade, lumber 
and so on. I shall get good wages, and you 
shall keep the whole on 't 'cept what I need 
for clothes." 

" You need n't be so plaintive," said Ann, 
in a sharp voice. " You can go if you want 
to. I have always been able to take care of 
myself, but when it comes to maintainin' two, 
't ain't so easy. When be you goin' ? " 

" I expected you would be sorry," mourned 
Jerry, his face falling at this outbreak. 
" Nancy, you need n't be so quick. 'T ain't as 
if I had n't always set everything by ye, if I 
be wuthless." 

Nancy's eyes flashed fire as she turned hastily 
away. Hardly knowing where she went, she 
passed through the open doorway, and crossed 
the clean green turf of the narrow side yard. 



MARSH ROSEMARY. 108 

and leaned over the garden fence. The yoimg 
cabbages and cucumbers were nearly buried 
in weeds, and the currant bushes were fast be- 
ing turned into skeletons by the ravaging 
worms. Jerry had forgotten to sprinkle them 
with hellebore, after all, though she had put 
the watering-pot into his very hand the even- 
ing before. She did not like to have the whole 
town laugh at her for hiring a man to do his 
work ; she was busy from early morning until 
late night, but she could not do everything 
herself. She had been a fool to marry this 
man, she told herself at last, and a sullen dis- 
content and rage that had been of slow but 
certain growth made her long to free herself 
from this unprofitable hindrance for a time, at 
any rate. Go to sea ? Yes, that was the best 
thing that could happen. Perhaps when he 
had worked hard a while on schooner fare, he 
would come home and be good for something I 
Jerry finished his dinner in the course of 
time, and then sought his wife. It was not 
like her to go away in this silent fashion. Of 
late her gift of speech had been proved suffi- 
ciently formidable, and yet she had never 
looked so resolutely angry as to-day. 



104 MARSH ROSEMARY. 

" Nancy," he began, — " Nancy, girl ! I 
ain't goin' off to leave you, if your heart 's set 
against it. I '11 spudge up and take right 
holt." 

But the wife turned slowly from the fence 
and faced him. Her eyes looked as if she had 
been crying. " You need n't stay on my ac- 
count," she said. ^' I '11 go right to work an' 
fit ye out. I 'm sick of your meechin' talk, 
and I don't want to hear no more of it. Ef / 
was a man " — 

Jerry Lane looked crestfallen for a minute 
or twoT but when his stem partner in life had 
disappeared within the house, he slunk away 
among the apple-trees of the little orchard, and 
sat down on the grass in a shady spot. It was 
getting to be warm weather, but he would go 
round and hoe the old girl's garden stuff by ' 
and by. There would be something goin' on 
aboard the schooner, and with delicious antici- 
pation of future pleasure this delinquent Jerry 
struck his knee with his hand, as if he werb 
clapping: a crony on the shoulder. He also 
wi^ed several iLes at the same fancied com- 
panion. Then, with a comfortable chuckle, he 
laid himself down, and pulled his old hat over 



n 



MARSH ROSEMARY. 106 



his eyes, and went to sleep, while the weeds 
grew at their own sweet will, and the currant 
worms went looping and devourmg from twig 
to twig. 



in. 

Summer went by, and winter began, and 
Mr. Jerry Lane did not reappear. He had 
promised to return in September, when he 
parted from his wife early in June, for Nancy 
had relented a little at the last, and sorrowed 
at the prospect of so long a separation. She 
had already learned the vacillations and un- 
certainties of her husband's character ; but 
though she accepted the truth that her mar- 
riage had been in every way a piece of foolish- 
ness, she still clung affectionately to his as- 
sumed fondness for her. She could not believe 
that his marriage was only one of his make- 
shifte, andTtrs soon as he grew tired of the 
constraint he was ready to throw the benefits 
of respectable home life to the four winds. A 
Uttle sentimental speech-making and a few 
kisses the morning he went away, and the 
gratitude he might weU hare shown for her 



106 MARSH ROSEMARY. 

generous care-taking and provision for his voy- 
age won her soft heart back again, and made 
poor, elderly, simple-hearted Nancy watch him 
cross the marshes with tears and foreboding. 
If she could have called him back that day, she 
would have done so and been thankful. And 
all summer and winter, whenever the wind 
blew and thrashed the drooping elm boughs 
against the low roof over her head, she was as 
full of fears and anxieties as if Jerry were her 
only son and making his first voyage at sea. 
The neighbors pitied her for her disappoint- 
ment. They liked Nancy ; but they could not 
help saying, " I told you so." It would have 
been impossible not to respect the brave way 
in which she met the world's eye, and carried 
herself with innocent unconsciousness of hav- 
ing committed so laughable and unrewarding 
a folly. The loafers on the store steps had 
been unwontedly diverted one day, when Jerry, 
who was their chief wit and spokesman, rose 
slowly from his place, and said in pious tones, 
^^ Boys, I must go this minute. Grandma will 
keep dinner waiting." Mrs. Aun Lane did 
not show in her aging face how young her 
heart was, and after the schooner Susan Barnes 



MARSH ROSEMARY. 107 

had departed she seemed to pass swiftly from 
middle life and an almost youthful vigor to 
early age and a look of spent strength and dis- 
satisfaction. ^' I suppose he did find it dull," 
she assured herself, with wistful yearning for 
his rough words of praise, when she sat down 
alone to her dinner, ^or looked up sadly from 
her work, and missed the amusing though un- 
edifying conversation he was wont to offer occa- 
sionally on stormy winter nights. How much 
of his adventuring was true she never cared to 
ask. He had come and gone, and she forgave 
him his shortcomings, and longed for his so- 
ciety wiih a heavy h!aU. 

One spring day there was news in the Bos- 
ton paper of the loss of the schooner Susan 
Barnes with all on board, and Nancy Lane's 
best friends shook their sage heads, and de- 
clared that as far as regarded Jerry Lane, that 
idle vagabond, it was all for the best. Nobody 
was interested in any other member of the 
crew, so the misfortune of the Susan Barnes 
seemed of but slight consequence in Walpole, 
she having passed out of her former owners' 
hands the autiunn before. Jerry had stuck by 
the ship ; at least, so he had sent word then to 



108 MARSH ROSEMARY. 

bis wife by Skipper Natban Low. Tbe Susan 
Barnes was to sail regularly between Sbediac 
and Newfoundland, and Jerry sent five dollars 
to Nancy, and promised to pay ber a visit soon. 
" Tell ber I 'm layin' up sometbin' bandsome," 
be told tbe skipper witb a grin, " and I 've got 
some folks in Newfoundland I '11 visit witb on 
tbis voyage, and tben I '11 come asbore for good 
and farm it." 

Mrs. Lane took tbe five dollars from tbe 
skipper as proudly as if Jerry bad done tbe 
same tbing so many times before tbat sbe 
bardly noticed it. Tbe skipper gave tbe mes- 
sages from Jerry, and felt tbat be bad done 
tbe proper tbing. Wben tbe news came long 
afterward tbat tbe scbooner was lost, tbat was 
tbe next tbing tbat Nancy knew about ber 
wandering mate ; and after tbe minister bad 
come solemnly to inform ber of ber bereave- 
ment, and bad gone away again, and sbe sat 
down and looked ber widowbood in tbe face, 
tbere was not a sadder nor a lonelier woman 
in tbe town of Walpole. 

All tbe neigbbors came to condole witb our 
beroine, and, tbougb nobody was aware of it, 
from tbat time sbe was really bappier and bet- 



MARSH ROSEMARY, 109 

ter satisfied with life than she had ever been 
before. Now she had an ideal Jerry Lane to 
mourn over and think about, to eherish and 
admire ; she was day by day slowly forgetting 
the trouble he had been and the bitter shame 
of him, and exalting his menfory to something 
near saintliness. ^^ He meant well," she told 
herself again and again. She thought nobody 
could tell so good a story ; she felt that with 
her own bustling, capable ways he had no 
chance to do much that he might have done. 
She had been too quick with him, and alas, 
alas I how much better she would know how 
to treat him if she only could see him again I 
A sense of relief at his absence made her con- 
tinually assure herself of her great loss, and, 
false even to herself, she mourned her some- 
time lover diligently, and tried to think her- 
self a broken-hearted woman. It was thought 
among those who knew Nancy Lane best that 
she would recover her spirits in time, but 
Jerry's wildest anticipations of a proper re- 
spect to his memory were more than realized 
in the first two years after the schooner Susan 
Barnes went to the bottom of the sea. She 
mourned for the man he ought to have been, 



110 MARSH ROSEMARY. 

not for the real Jerry, but she had loved him 
in the beginning enough to make her own love 
a precious possession for all time to come. It 
did not matter much, after all, what manner of 
/man he was ; she had found in him something 
yon which to spend her hoarded affection. 






IV. 

Nancy Lane was a peaceable woman and a 
good neighbor, but she never had been able to 
get on with one fellow townswoman, and thalt 
was Mrs. Deacon Elton. They managed to 
keep each other provoked and teased from one 
year's end to the other, and each good soul felt 
herself under a moral microscope, and under- 
stood that she was judged by a not very lenient 
criticism and discussion. Mrs. Lane clad her- 
self in simple black after the news came of her 
husband's timely death, and Mrs. Elton made 
one of her farewell pilgrimages to church to 
see the new-made widow walk up the aisle. 

'' She need n't tell me she lays that affliction 
so much to heart," the deacon's wife sniffed 
faintly, after her exhaustion had been met by 



MARSH ROSEMARY. Ill 

proper treatment of camplior and a glass of 
currant wine, at the parsonage, where she 
rested a while after service. " Nancy Floyd 
knows she 's well over with such a piece of 
nonsense. If I had had my health, I should 
have spoken with her and urged her not to 
take the step in the first place. She has n't 
spoken six beholden words to me since that 
vagabond come to Walpole. I dare say she 
may have heard something I said at the time 
she married. I declare for 't, I never was so 
outdone as I was when the deacon came home 
and told me Nancy Floyd was going to be mar- 
ried. She let herself d^wn too low to ever 
hold the place again that she used to have in 
folks' minds.* And it 's my opinion," said the 
sharp-eyed little woman, "she ain't got through 
with her pay yet." 

But Mrs. Elton did not know with what un- 
conscious prophecy her words were freighted. 

The months passed by : summer and winter 
came and went, and even those few persons 
who were misled by Nancy Lane's stern visage 
and forbidding exterior into forgetting her 
kind heart were at last won over to friendli- 



112 MARSH ROSEMARY. 

ness by her renewed devotion to the sick and 
old people of the rural community. She was 
so tender to little children that they all loved 
her dearly. She was ready to go to any house- 
hold that needed help, and in spite of her 
ceaseless industry with her needle she found 
many a chance to do good, and help her neigh- 
bors to lift and carry the burdens of their lives. 
She blossomed out suddenly into a lovely, 
painstaking eagerness to be of use ; it seemed 
as if her affectionate heart, once made gener- 
ous, must go on spending its wealth wherever 
it could find an excuse. Even Mrs. Elton her- 
self was touched by her old enemy's evident 
wish to be friends, and said nothing more about 
poor Nancy's looking as savage as a hawk. 
The only thing to admit was the truth that her 
affliction had proved a blessing to her. And 
it was in a truly kind and compassionate spirit 
that, after hearing an awful piece of news, the 
deacon's hysterical wife forbore to spread it far 
and wide through the town first, and went 
down to the Widow Lane's one September 
afternoon. Nancy was stitching busily upon 
the deacon's new coat, and looked up with a 
friendly smile as her guest came in, in spite of 



MARSH ROSEMARY, 113 

an instinctive shrug as she had seen her com- 
ing up the yard. The dislike of the poor souls 
for each other was deeper than their philoso- 
phy could reach. 

Mrs. f^lton spent some minutes in the un- 
necessary endeavor to regain her breath, and 
to her surprise found she must make a real 
effort before she could tell her unwelcome 
news. She had been so full of it all the way 
from home that she had rehearsed the whole 
interview ; now she hardly knew how to begm. 
Nancy looked serener than usual, but there 
was something wistful about her face as she 
glanced across the room, presently, as if to 
understand the reason of the long pause. The 
clock ticked loudly; the kitten clattered a 
spool against the table-leg, and had begun to 
snarl the thread around her busy paws, and 
Nancy looked down and saw her ; then the in- 
stant consciousness of there being some un- 
happy reason for Mrs. Elton's call made her 
forget the creature's mischief, and anxiously 
lay down her work to listen. 

" Skipper Nathan Low was to our house to 
dinner," the guest began. " He 's bargaining 
with the deacon about some hay. He 's got a 



114 MARSH ROSEMARY. 

new schooner, Skipper Nathan has, and is go- 
ing to build up a regular business of freight- 
ing hay to Boston by sea. There 's no market 
to speak of about here, unless you haul it way 
over to Downer, and you can't make but one 
turn a day." 

" 'T would be a good thing," replied Nancy, 
trying to think that this was all, and perhaps 
the deacon wanted to hire her own field an- 
other year. He had underpaid her once, and 
they had not been on particularly good terms 
ever since. She would make her own bargains 
with Skipper Nathan, she thanked him and his 
wife! 

" He 's been down to the provinces these 
two or three years back, you know," the whin- 
ing voice went on, and straightforward Ann 
Lane felt the old animosity rising within her. 
" At dinner time I was n't able to eat much 
of anything, and so I was talking with Cap'n 
Nathan, and asking him some questions about 
them parts ; and I spoke something about the 
mercy 't was his life should ha' been spared 
when that schooner, the Susan Barnes, was lost 
so quick after he sold out his part of her. And 
I put in a word, bein' 's we were neighbors, 



MARSH ROSEMARY, 116 

about how edifyin' your course had be'n under 
afiBiction. I noticed then he 'd looked sort 
o' queer whilst I was talkin', but there was all 
the folks to the table, and you know he«'s a 
very cautious man, so he spoke of somethin' 
else. 'Twa'n't half an hour after dinner, I 
was comin' in with some plates and cups, try- 
in' to help what my stren'th would let me, and 
says he, ' Step out a little ways into the piece 
with me, Mis' Elton. I want to have a word 
with ye.' I went, too, spite o' my neuralgy, 
for I saw he'd got somethin' on his mind. 
*Look here,' says he, 'I gathered from the 
way you spoke that Jerry Lane's wife expects 
he 's dead.' Certain, says I, his name was in 
the list o' the Susan Barnes's crew, and we 
read it in the paper. * No,' says he to me, * he 
ran away the day they sailed; he wasn't 
aboard, id he's W with an;ther woman 
down to Shediac' Them was his very words." 
Nancy Lane sank back in her chair, and 
covered her horror-stricken eyes with her 
hands. ^^ 'T ain't pleasant news to have to 
tell," Sister Elton went on mildly, yet with ev- 
ident relish and full command of the occasion. 
^' He said he seen Jerry the morning he came 



116 MARSH ROSEMARY. 

away. I thought you ought to kuow it. I 'U 
tell you one thing, Nancy : I told the skipper 
to keep still about it, and now I 've told you, 
I wen't spread it no further to set folks a-talk- 
ing. I 'U keep it secret till you say the word. 
There ain't much trafficking betwixt here and 
there, and he 's dead to you, certain, as much 
as if he laid up hew in the burying-ground." 

Nancy had bowed her head upon the table : 
the iJ sandy hair wa« st^S with gray. 
She did not answer one word; this was the 
hardest blow of alL 

"I'm much obliged to you for being so 
friendly," she said after a few minutes, look- 
ing stright before her now in a da«d sort of 
way, and lifting the new coat from the floor, 
where it had fallen. " Yes, he 's dead to me, 
— worse than dead, a good deal," and her lip 
quivered. " I can't seem to bring my thoughts 
to bear. I 've got so used to thinkin' — No, 
don't you say nothin' to the folks, yet. I 'd do 
as much for you." And Mrs. Elton knew that 
the smitten fellow-creature before her spoke 
the truth, and f orebore. 

Two or three days came and went, and with 






MARSH ROSEMARY, 117 

every hour the quiet, simple - hearted woman 
felt more grieved and unsteady in^ mind and 
body. Such a shattering thunderbolt of news 
rarely falls into a human life. She could not 
sleep ; she wandered to and fro in the little 
house, and cried until she could cry no longer. 
Then a great rage spurred and excited her. 
She would go to Shediac, and call Jerry Lane 
to account. She would accuse him face to 
face ; and the woman whom he was deceiving, 
as perhaps he had deceived her, should know 
the baseness and cowardice of this miserable 
man. So, dressed in her respectable Sunday 
clothes, in the gray bonnet and shawl that 
never had known any journeys except to meet- 
ing, or to a country funeral or quiet holiday- 
making, Nancy Lane trusted herself for the 
first time to the bewildering railway, to the 
temptations and dangers of the wide world 
outside the bounds of Walpole. 

Two or three days later still, the quaint, thin 
figure familiar in Walpole highways flitted 
down the street of a provincial town. In the 
most primitive region of China this woman 
could hardly have felt a greater sense of for- 
eign life and strangeness^ At another time 



118 MARSH ROSEMARY. 

her native good sense and shrewd observation 
would hav^ delighted in the experiences of thfs 
first week of travel, but she was too sternly 
angry and aggrieved, too deeply plunged in a 
survey of her own calamity, to take much no- 
tice of what was going on about her. Later 
she condemned the unworthy folly of the whole 
errand, but in these days the impulse to seek 
the culprit and confront him was ijresistible. 

The innkeeper's wife, a kindly creature, had 
urged this puLiBg guest to wit and rest and 
eat some supper, but Nancy refused, and with- 
out asking her way left the brightly lighted, 
flaring little public room, where curious eyes 
already offended her, and went out into the 
damp twilight. The voices of the street boys 
sounded outlandish, and she felt more and 
more lonely. She longed for Jerry to appear 
for protection's sake ; she forgot why she sought 
him, and was eager to shelter herself behind 
the flimsy bulwark of his manhood. She re- 
buked herself presently with terrible bitterness 
for a womanish wonder whether he would say, 
" Why, Nancy, girl ! " and be glad to see her. 
Poor woman, it was a work-laden, serious girl- 
hood that had been hers, at any rate. The 



MARSH ROSEMARY, 119 

power of giving her whole self in unselfish, en- 
thusiastic, patient devotion had not belonged to 
her youth only ; it had sprung fresh and blos- 
soming in her heart as every new year came 
and went. 

One might have seen her stealing through the 
shadows, skirting the edge of a lumber-yard, 
stepping among the refuse of the harbor side, 
asking a question timidly now and then of 
some passer-by. Yes, they knew Jerry Lane, 
— his house was only a little way off ; and one 
curious and compassionate Scotchman, divin- 
ing by some inner sense the exciting nature of 
the errand, turned back, and offered fruitlessly 
to go with the stranger. "You know the 
man ? " he asked. " He is his own enemy, 
but doing better now that he is married. He 
minds his work, I know that well ; but he 's 
taken a good wife." Nancy's heart beat faster 
with honest pride for a moment, until the 
shadow of the ugly truth and reality made it 
sink back to heaviness, and the fire of her 
smouldering rage wa^ again kindled. She 
would speak to Jerry face to face before she 
slept, and a horrible contempt and scorn were 
leady for him, as with a glance either way 



120 MARSH ROSEMARY. 

along the road she entered the narrow yard, 
and went noiselessly toward the window of a 
low, poor-looking house, from whence a bright 
light was shining out into the night. 

Yes, there was Jerry, and it seemed as if 
she must faint and fall at the sight of him. 
How young he looked still! The thought 
smote her like a blow. They never were 
mates for each other, Jerry and she. Her 
own life was waning ; she was an old woman. 

He never had been so thrifty and respect- 
able before ; the other woman ought to know 
the savage truth about him, for all that I But 
at that moment the other woman stooped be- 
side the supper table, and lifted a baby from 
its cradle, and put the dear, live little thing 
into its father's arms. The baby ..as wide 
awake, and laughed at Jerry, who laughed 
back again, and it reached up to catch at a 
handful of the curly hair which had been poor 
Nancy's delight. 

The other woman stood there looking at 
them, f idl of pride and love. She was young, 
and trig, and neat. She looked a brisk, effi- 
cient little creature. Perhaps Jerry would 
make something of himself now; he always 



MARSH ROSEMARY. 121 

had it in him. The tears were running down 
Nancy's cheeks ; the rain, too, had begun to 
f alL She stood there watching the little house- 
hold sit down to supper, and noticed with 
eager envy how well cooked the food was, and 
how hungrily the master of the house ate what 
was put before him. All thoughts of ending 
the new wife's sin and folly vanished away. 
She could not enter in and break another 
heart ; hers was broken already, and it would 
not matter. And Nancy Lane, a widow in- 
deed, crept away again, as silently as she had 
come, to think what v;ras best to be done, to 
find alternate woe and comfort in the memory 
of the sight she had seen. 

The little house at the edge of the Walpole 
marshes seemed full of blessed shelter and 
comfort the evening that its forsaken mistress 
came back to it. Her strength was spent ; she 
felt much more desolate now that she had seen 
with her own eyes that Jerry Lane was alive 
than when he was counted among the dead. 
An uncharacteristic disregard of the laws of 
the land filled this good woman's mind. Jerry 
had his life to live, and she wished him no 



122 MARSH ROSEMARY. 

harm. She wondered often how the baby 
grew. She fancied sometimes the changes 
and conditions of the far - away household. 
Alas I she knew only too well the weakness 
of the man, and once, in a grim outburst of 
impatience, she exclaimed, ''■ I 'd rather she 
should have to cope with him than me I " 

But that evening, when she came back from 
Shediac, and sat in the dark for a long time, 
lest Mrs. Elton should see the light and risk 
her life in the evening air to bring unwelcome 
sympathy, — that evening, I say, came the 
hardest moment of all, when the Ann Floyd, 
tailoress, of so many virtuous, self-respecting 
years, whose idol had turned to clay, who was 
shamed, disgraced, and wronged, sat down 
alone to supper in the little kitchen. 

She had put one cup and saucer on the ta- 
ble ; she looked at them through bitter tears. 
Somehow a consciousness of her solitary age, 
her xmcompanioned future, rushed through her 
mind; this failure of her best earthly hope 
was enough to break a stronger woman's 
heart. 

Who can laugh at my Marsh Sosemary, or \ 
who can cry, for that matter ? The gray prim- 



MARSH ROSEMARY. 123 

ness of the plant is made up of a hundred col- 
ors, if you look close enough to find them. 
This same Marsh Rosemary stands in her own 
place, and holds her dry leaves and tiny blos- 
soms steadily toward the same sun that the 
pink lotus blooms for, and the white rose. 



THE DULHAM LADIES. 

To be leaders of society in the town of Dul- 
liam was as satisfactory to Miss Dobin and 
Miss Lucinda Dobin as if Dulham were Lon- 
don itself. Of late years, though they would 
not allow themselves to suspect such treason, 
the most ill-bred of the younger people in the 
village made fun of them behind their backs, 
and laughed at their treasured summer man- 
tillas, their mincing steps, and the shape of 
their parasols. 

They were always conscious of the fact that 
they were the daughters of a once eminent 
Dulham minister ; but beside this unanswer- 
able claim to the respect of the First Parish, 
they were aware that their mother's social po- 
sition was one of superior altitude. Madam 
Dobin's grandmother was a Greenaple, of Bos- 
ton. In her younger days she had often vis- 
ited her relatives, the Greenaples and High- 
trees, and in seasons of festivity she could 



THE DULHAM LADIES, 125 

relate to a select and properly excited audience 
Her delightful experiences of town life. Noth- 
ing could be finer than her account of having 
taken tea at Governor Clovenfoot's on Beacon 
Street in company with an English lord, who 
was indulging himself in a brief vacation from 
his arduous duties at the Court of St. James. 

^^ He exclaimed that he had seldom seen in 
England so beautiful and intelligent a com- 
pany of ladies," Madam Dobin would always 
say in conclusion. "He was decorated with 
the blue ribbon of the IGiights of the Garter." 
Miss Dobin and Miss Lucinda thought foir^ 
many years that this famous blue ribbon was 1 
tied about the noble gentleman's leg. One 
day they even discussed the question openly ; 
Miss Dobin placing the decoration at his knee, 
and Miss Lucinda locating it much lower 
down, according to the length of the short 
gray socks with which she was familiar. 

" You have no imagination, Lucinda," the 
elder sister replied impatiently. " Of course, 
those were the days of small-clothes and long 
silk stockings ! " — whereat Miss Lucinda was 
rebuked, but not persuaded. 

" I wish that my dear girls could have the 



126 THE DULHAM LADIES. 

outlook upon society which fell to my por- 
tion," Madam Dobin sighed, after she had set 
these ignorant minds to rights, and enriched 
them by communicating the final truth about 
the blue ribbon. " I must not chide you for 
the absence of opportunities, but if our cousin 
Harriet Greenaple were only living you would 
not lack enjoyment or social education." 

Madam Dobin had now been dead a great 
many years. She seemed an elderly woman 
to her daughters some time before she left 
them ; later they thought that she had really 
died comparatively young, since their own 
years had come to equal the record of hers. 
When they visited her tall white tombstone in 
the orderly Dulham burying-ground, it was a 
strange thought to both the daughters that 
they were older women than their mother had 
been when she died. To be sure, it was the 
fashion to appear older in her day, — they 
could remember the sober effect of really 
youthful married persons in cap and frisette ; 
but, whether they owed it to the changed times 
or to their own qualities, they felt no older 
themselves than ever they had. Beside up- 



THE DULHAM LADIES, 127 

holding the ministerial dignity of their father, 
they were obliged to give a lenient sanction to 
the ways of the world for their mother's sake ; 
and they combined the two duties with rever- 
ence and impartiaUty. 

Madam Dobin was, in her prime, a walking 
example of refinements and courtesies. If she 
erred in any way, it was by keeping too strict 
watch and rule over her small kingdom. She 
acted with great dignity in all matters of so- 
cial administration and etiqu^te, but, while it 
must be owned that the parishioners felt a 
sense of freedom for a time after her death, 
in their later years they praised and valued 
her more and more, and often lamented her 
generously and sincerely. 

Several of her distinguished relatives at- 
tended Madam Dobin's funeral, which was 
long considered the most dignified and elegant 
pageant of that sort which had ever taken 
place in Dulham. It seemed to mark the 
close of a famous epoch in Dulham history, 
and it was increasingly difficult forever after- 
ward to keep the tone of society up to the old 
standard. Somehow, the distinguished relar 
tives had one by one disappeared, though they 



128 THE DULHAM LADIES. 

all bad excellent reasons for tHe discontinu- 
ance of their visits. A few had left this world 
altogether, and the family circle of the Green- 
aples and Hightrees was greatly reduced in 
circumference. Sometimes, in sunmier, a stray 
connection drifted Dulham-ward, and was dis- 
played to the townspeople (not to say pa- 
raded) by the gratified hostesses. It was a 
disappointment if the guest could not be per- 
suaded to remain over Sunday and appear at 
church. When household antiquities became 
fashionable, the ladies remarked a surprising 
interest in their comer cupboard and best 
chairs, and some distant relatives revived their 
almost forgotten custom of paying a summer 
visit to Dulham. They were Aot long in find- 
ing out with what desperate affection Miss 
Dobin and Miss Lucinda clung to their moth- 
er's wedding china and other inheritances, and 
were allowed to depart without a single tea- 
cup. One graceless descendant of the High- 
trees prowled from garret to cellar, and ad- 
mired the household belongings diligently, but 
she was not asked to accept even the dislo- 
cated cheny-wood footstool that she had dis- 
covered in the far comer of the parsonage 
pew. 



THE DULHAM LADIES. 129 

Some of the Dulham friends had long sus- 
pected that Madam Dobin made a social mis- 
step when she chose the Reverend Edward 
Dobin for her husband. She was no longer 
young when she married, and though she had 
gone through the wood and picked up a 
crooked stick at last, it made a great differ- 
ence that her stick possessed an ecclesiastical 
bark. The Reverend Edward was, moreover, 
a respectable graduate of Harvard College, 
and to a woman of her standards a clergyman 
was by no means insignificant. It was impos- 
sible not to respect his office, at any rate, and 
she must have treated him with proper vener- 
ation for the sake of that, if for no other rea- 
son, though his early advantages had been in- 
sufficient, and he was quite insensible to the 
claims of the Greenaple pedigree, and pre- 
ferred an Indian pudding to pie crust that 
was, without exaggeration, half a quarter high. 
The delicacy of Madam Dobin's touch and 
preference in everything, from hymns to cook- 
ery, was quite lost upon this respected 
preacher, yet he was not without pride or 
complete confidence in his own decisions. 

Tlie Reverend Mr. Dobin was never very 



130 THE DULHAM LADIES. 

enliglitening in his discourses, and was proT- 
identially stopped short by a stroke of paraly- 
sis in the middle of his clerical career. He 
lived on and on through many dreary years, 
but his children never accepted the fact that 
he was a tyrant, and served him humbly and 
patiently. He fell at last into a condition of 
great incapacity and chronic trembling, but 
was able for nearly a quarter of a century to 
be carried to the meeting-house from time to 
time to pronounce farewell discourses. On 
high days of the church he was jalways placed 
in the pulpit, and held up his shaking hands 
when the benediction was pronounced, as if 
the divine gift were exclusively his own, and 
the other minister did but say empty words. 
Afterward, he was usually tired and displeased 
and hard to cope with, but there was always a 
proper notice taken of these too often recur- 
ring events. For old times' and for pity's 
sake and from natural goodness of heart, the 
elder parishioners rallied manfully about the 
Keverend Mr. Dobin ; and whoever his suc- 
cessor or colleague might be, the Dobins were 
always called the minister's folks, while the 
active laborer in that vineyard was only Mr. 



THE DULHAM LADIES. 131 

Smith or Mr. Jones, as the case might be. At 
last the poor old man died, to everybody's re- 
lief and astonishment ; and after he was prop- 
erly preached about and lamented, his daugh- 
ters, Miss Dobin and Miss Lucinda, took a 
good look at life from a new standpoint, and 
decided that now they were no longer con- 
strained by home duties they must make them- 
selves a great deal more used to the town. 

Sometimes there is such a household as this 
(which has been perhaps too minutely de- 
scribed), where the parents linger until their 
children are far past middle age, and always 
keep them in a too childish and unworthy state 
of subjection. The Misses Dobin's characters 
were much influenced by such an unnatural 
prolongation of the filial relationship, and they 
were amazingly slow to suspect that they were 
not so young as they used to be. There was 
nothing to measure themselves by but Dulham 
people and things. The elm-trees were grow- 
ing yet, and many of the ladies of the First 
Parish were older than they, and called them, 
with pleasant familiarity, the Dobin girls. 
These elderly persons seemed really to be 
growing old, and Miss Lucinda frequently la- 



132 THE DULHAM LADIES. 

mented the change in society ; she thought it 
a freak of nature and too sudden blighting of 
earthly hopes that several charming old friends 
of her mother's were no longer living. They 
were advanced in age when Miss Lucinda was 
a young girl, though time and space are but 
relative, after all. 

Their influence upon society would have 
made a great difference in many ways. Cer- 
tainly, the new parishioners, who had often 
enough been instructed to pronounce their 
pastor's name as if it were spelled with one 
" b," would not have boldly returned again 
and again to their obnoxious habit of saying 
Dobbin. Miss Lucinda might carefully speak 
to the neighbor and new-comers of " my sister, 
Miss Do-bin ; " only the select company of in- 
timates followed her lead, and at last there was 
something humiliating about it, even though 
many persons spoke of them only as ^^the 
ladies." 

" The name was originally D'Aubigne^ we 
think," Miss Lucinda would say coldly and 
patiently, as if she had already explained this 
foolish mistake a thousand times too often. 
It was like the sorrows in many a provincial 



THE DULHAM LADIES, 188 

cliS.teau in the Keign of Terror. The ladies 
looked on with increasing dismay at the retro- 
gression in society. They felt as if they were 
a feeble garrison, to whose lot it had fallen to 
repulse a noisy, irreverent mob, an increasing 
band of marauders who would overthrow all 
land-marks of the past, all etiquette and social 
rank. The new minister himself was a round- 
faced, unspiritual-looking young man, whom 
they would have instinctively ignored if he had 
not been a minister. The new people who 
came to Dulham were not like the older resi- 
dents, and they had no desire to be taught bet- 
ter. Little they cared about the Greenaples 
or the Hightrees ; and once, when Miss Dobin 
essayed to speak of some detail of her mother's 
brilliant opportunities in Boston high life, she 
was interrupted, and the new-comer who sat 
next her at the parish sewing society began to 
talk about something else. We cannot believe 
that it could have been the tearparty at Gov- 
ernor Clovenfoot's which the rude creature so 
disrespectfully ignored, but some persons are 
capable of showing any lack of good taste. 
. The ladies had an unusual and most painful 
sense of failure, as they went home together 



134 THE DULHAM LADIES. 

that evening. '^ I have always made it my ob- 
ject to improve and interest the people at such 
times ; it would seem so possible to ~ elevate 
their thoughts and direct them into higher 
channels," said Miss Dobin sadly. '^ But as 
'or that Woolden woman, there is no use in 
casting peark before swine ! » 

Miss Lucinda murmured an indignant as- 
sent. She had a secret suspicion that the 
Woolden woman had heard the story in ques- 
tion oftener than had pleased her. She was 
but an ignorant creature ; though she had lived 
in Dulham twelve or thirteen years, she was no 
better than when she came. The mistake was 
in treating sister Harriet as if she were on a 
level with the rest of the company. Miss Lu- 
cinda had observed more than once, lately, that 
her sister sometimes repeated herself, uncon- 
sciously, a little oftener than was agreeable. 
Perhaps they were getting a trifle dull ; toward 
spring it might be well to pass a few days with 
some of their friends, and have a change. 

" If I have tried to do anything," said Miss 
Dobin in an icy tone, ^^ it has been to stand 
firm in my lot and place, and to hold the stan- 
dard of cultivated mind and elegant manners 



THE DULHAM LADIES. 185 

as high as possible. You would think it had 
been a hundred years since our mother's death, 
so completely has the effect of her good breed- 
ing and exquisite hospitality been lost sight of, 
here in Dulham. I could wish that our father 
had chosen to settle in a larger and more ap- 
preciative place. They would like to put us 
on the shelf, too. I can see that plainly." 

*'*' I am sure we have our friends," said Miss 
Lucinda anxiously, but with a choking voice. 
^^ We must not let them think we do not mean 
to keep up with the times, as we always have. 
I do feel as if perhaps — our hair " — 

And the sad secret was out at last. Each 
of the sisters drew a long breath of relief at 
this beginning of a confession. 

It was certain that they must take some steps 
to retrieve their lost ascendency. Public at- 
tention had that evening been called to their 
fast-disappearing locks, poor ladies ; and Miss 
Lucinda felt the discomfort most, for she had 
been the inheritor of the Hightree hair, long 
and curly, and chestnut in color. There used 
to be a waviness about it, and sometimes pretty 
escaping curls, but these were gone long ago. 
Miss Dobin resembled her father, and her hair 



136 THE DULHAM LADIES. 

had not been luxuriant, so that she was less 
changed by its absence than one might sup- 
pose. The straightness and thinness had in- 
creased so gradually that neither sister had 
quite accepted the thought that other persons 
would particularly notice their altered appear- 
ance. 

They had shrunk, with the reticence bom of 
close family association, from speaking of the 
cause even to each other, when they made 
themselves pretty little lace and dotted muslin 
caps. Breakfast caps, they called them, and 
explained that these were universally worn in 
town ; the young Princess of Wales originated 
them, or at any rate adopted them. The ladies 
offered no apology for keeping the breakfast 
caps on until bedtime, and in spite of them a 
forward child had just spoken, loud and shrill, 
an untimely question in the ears of the for 
once silent sewing society. "Do Miss Dob- 
bmses wear them great caps because their bare 
heads is cold ? " the little beast had said ; and 
everybody was startled and dismayed. 

Miss Dobin had never shown better her good 
breeding and valor, the younger sister thought. 

" No, little girl," replied the stately Harriet, 



THE DULHAM LADIES, 187 

with a chilly smile. ^^ I believe that our head- 
dresses are quite in the fashion for ladies of 
all ages. And you must remember that it is 
never polite to make such personal remarks." 
It was after this that Miss Dobin had been re- 
minded of Madam Somebody's unusual head- 
gear at the evening entertainment in Boston. 
Nobody but the Woolden woman could have 
interrupted her under such trying circum- 
stances. 

Miss Lucinda, however, was certain that the 
time had come for making some effort to re- 
place her lost adornment. The child had told 
an unwelcome truth, but had paved the way 
for further action, and now was the time to 
suggest something that had slowly been taking 
shape in Miss Lucinda's mind. A young 
grand-nephew of their mother and his bride 
had passed a few days with them, two or three 
Biunmers before, and the sisters had been quite 
shocked to find that the pretty young woman 
wore a row of frizzes, not originally her own, 
over her smooth forehead. At the time, Miss 
Dobin and Miss Lucinda had spoken severely 
with each other of such bad taste, but now it 
made a great difference that the wearer of the 



188 THE DULHAM LADIES, 

frizzes was not only a relative by marriage and 
used to good society, but also that she came 
from town, and might be supposed to know 
what was proper in the way of toilet. 

'^ I really think, sister, that we had better 
see about having some — arrangements, next 
time we go anywhere," Mig(s Dobin said unex- 
pectedly, with a slight tremble in her voice, 
just as they reached their own door. " There 
seems to be quite a fashion for them nowadays. 
For the parish's sake we ought to recognize " 
— and Miss Lucinda responded with instant 
satisfaction. She did not like to complain, 
but she had been troubled with neuralgic pains 
in her forehead on suddenly meeting the cold 
air. The sisters felt a new bond of sympathy 
in keeping this secret with and for each other ; 
they took pains to say to several acquaintances 
that they were thinking of going to the next 
large town to do a few errands for Christmas. 

A bright, sunny morning seemed to wish the 
ladies good-fortune. Old Hetty Downs, their 
faithful maid-servant and protector, looked 
after them in affectionate foreboding. ^^ Dear 
sakes, what devil's wiles may be played on 
them blessed innocents afore they 're safe 



;. 



> 



THE DULHAM LADIES. 189 

home again ! " she murmured, as they van- 
ished round the comer of the street that led to 
the railway station. 

Miss Dobin and Miss Lueinda paced dis- 
creetly side by side down the main street of 
Westbury. It was nothing like Boston, of 
course, but the noise was slightly confusing, 
and the passers-by sometimes roughly pushed 
against them. Westbury was a consequential 
mjanuf acturing town, but a great convenience 
at times like this. The trifling Christmas 
gifts for their old neighbors and Sunday-school 
scholars were purchased and stowed away in 
their neat Fayal basket before the serious com- 
mission of the day was attended to. Here and 
there, in the shops, disreputable frizzes were 
displayed in unblushing effrontery, but no such 
vulgar shopkeeper merited the patronage of 
the Misses Dobin. They pretended not to 
observe the unattractive goods, and went their 
way to a low, one-storied building on a side 
street, where an old tradesman lived. He had 
been useful to the minister while he still re- 
mained upon the earth and had need of a wig, 
sandy in hue and increasingly sprinkled with 
gray, as if it kept pace with other changes of 



( 



140 THE DULHAM LADIES. 

existence. But old Paley's shutters were up, 
and a bar of rough wood was nailed firmly 
across the one that had lost its fastening and 
would rack its feeble hinges in the wind. Old 
Paley had always been polite and bland ; they 
really had looked forward to a little chat with 
him ; they had heard a year or two before of 
his wife's death, and meant to offer sympathy. 
His business of hair-dressing had been carried 
on with that of parasol and umbrella mending, 
and the condemned umbrella which was his 
sign cracked and swung in the rising wind, a 
tattered skeleton before the closed door. The 
ladies sighed and turned away ; they were be- 
ginning to feel tired; the day wa« long, and 
they had not met with any pleasures yet. '^ We 
might walk up the street a little farther," sug- 
gested Miss Lucinda ; '^ that is, if you are not 
tired," as they stood hesitating on the comer 
after they had finished a short discussion of 
Mr. Paley's disappearance. Happily it was 
only a few minutes before they came to a stop 
together in front of a new, shining shop, where 
smirking waxen heads all in a row were decked 
with the latest fashions of wigs and frizzes. 
One smiling fragment of a gentleman stared 



THE DULHAM LADIES. 141 

so straight at Miss Lucinda with his black eyes 
that she felt quite coy and embarrassed, and 
was obliged to feign not to be conscious of his 
admiration. But Miss Dobin, after a brief 
delay, boldly opened the door and entered ; it 
was better to be sheltered in the shop than ex- 
posed to public remark as they gazed in at the 
windows. Miss Lucinda felt her heart beat 
and her courage give out; she, coward like, 
left the transaction of their business to her 
sister, and turned to contemplate the back of 
the handsome model. It was a slight shock to 
find that he was not so attractive from this 
point of view. The wig he wore was well 
made all round, but his shoulders were roughly 
finished in a substance that looked like plain 
plaster of Paris. 

" What can I have ze pleasure of showing 
you, young ladeed ? " asked a person who ad- 
vanced ; and Miss Lucinda faced about to dis- 
cover a smiling, middle-aged Frenchman, who 
rubbed his hands together and looked at his 
customers, first one and then the other, with 
delightful deference. He seemed a very civil, 
nice person, the young ladies thought. 

^ My sister and I were thinking of buying 



142 THE DULHAM LADIES. 

some little arrangements to wear above the 
forehead." Miss Dobin explained, with par 
thetic dignity ; but the Frenchman spared her 
any farther words. He looked with eager in- 
terest at the bonnets, as if no lack had attracted 
his notice before. " Ah, yes. Je comprends ; 
ze high foreheads are not now ze mode. Je 
prefer them, moi, yes, yes, but ze ladies must 
accept ze fashion ; zay must now cover ze fore- 
head with ze frizzes, ze bangs, you say. As 
you wis', as you wis' I " and the tactful little 
man, with many shrugs and merry gestures at 
such girlish fancies, pulled down one box af- 
ter another. 

It was a great relief to find that this was no 
worse, to say the least, than any other shop- 
ping, though the solemnity and secrecy of 
the occasion were infringed upon by the great 
supply of ** arrangements " and the loud dis- 
cussion of the color of some crimps a noisy girl 
was buying from a young saleswoman the other 
side of the shop. 

Miss Dobin waved aside the wares which 
were being displayed for her approvaL 
"Something — more simple, if you please," 
— she did not like to say " older." 



THE DULHAM LADIES, 148 



"But these are tr^s simple^'* protested the 
Frenchman. " We have nothing younger ; " 
and Miss Dobin and Miss Lueinda blushed, 
and said no more. The Frenchman had his 
own way ; he persuaded them that nothing was 
so suitable as some conspicuous forelocks that 
matched their hair as it used to be. They 
would have given anything rather than leave 
their breakfast caps at home, if they had 
known that their proper winter bonnets must 
come off. They hardly listened to the wig 
merchant's glib voice as Miss Dobin stood re- 
vealed before the merciless mirror at the back 
of the shop. 

He made everything as easy as possible, the 
friendly creature, and the ladies were grateful 
to him. Beside, now that the bonnet was on 
again there was a great improvement in Miss 
Dobin's appearance. She turned to Miss 
Lueinda, and saw a gleam of delight in her 
eager countenance. " It really is very becom- 
ing. I like the way it parts over your fore- 
head," said the younger sister, " but if it were 
long enough to go behind the ears " — " Non^ 
non^'* entreated the Frenchman. " To make 
her the old woman at once would be cruelty ! " 



144 THE DULHAM LADIES. 

And Lucinda who was wondering how well 
she would look in her turn, succumbed 
promptly to such protestations. Yes, there 
was no use in being old before their time. 
Dulham was not quite keeping pace with the 
rest of the world in these days, but they need 
not drag behind everybody else, just because 
they lived there. 

The price of the little arrangements was 
much less than the sisters expected, and the 
imcomfortable expense of their reverend fa- 
ther's wigs had been, it was proved, a thing 
of the past. Miss Dobin treated her polite 
Frenchman with great courtesy ; indeed, Miss 
Lucinda had more than once whispered to her 
to talk French, and as they were bowed out of 
the shop the gracious Bong-8ure of the elder 
lady seemed to act like the string of a shower- 
bath, and bring down an awesome torrent of 
foreign words upon the two guileless heads. 
It was impossible to reply ; the ladies bowed 
again, however, and Miss Lucinda caught a 
last smile from the handsome wax countenance 
in the window. He appeared to regard her 
with fresh approval, and she departed down 
the street with mincing steps. 



THE DULHAM LADIES. 145 

** I feel as if anybody might look at me now, 
sister," said gentle Miss Lucinda. ^^ I confess, 
I baye really suffered sometimes, since I knew 
I looked so distressed." 

*' Yours is lighter than I thought it was in 
the shop," remarked Miss Dobin, doubtfully, 
but she quickly added that perhaps it would 
change a little. She was so perfectly satisfied 
with her own appearance that she could not 
bear to dim the pleasure of any one else. The 
truth remained that she never would have let 
Lucinda choose that particular arrangement if 
she had seen it first in a good light. And 
Lucinda was thinking exactly the same of her 
companion. 

'' I am sure we shall have no more neural- 
gia," said Miss Dobin. " I am sorry we waited 
so long, dear," and they tripped down the main 
street of Westbury, confident that nobody 
would suspect them of being over thirty. In- 
deed, they felt quite girlish, and unconsciously, 
looked sideways as they went along, to see their 
satisfying reflections in the windows. The 
great panes made excellent mirrors, with not 
too clear or lasting pictures of these comforted 
passers-by. 



146 THE DULHAM LADIES. 

The Frenchman in the shop was making 
merry with his assistants. The two great fris- 
ettes had long been out of fashion ; he had been 
lying in wait with them for two unsuspecting 
coimtry ladies, who could be cajoled into such 
a purchase. 

*^ Sister," Miss Lucinda was saying, ''you 
know there is still an hour to wait before our 
train goes. Suppose we take a little longer 
walk down the other side of the way ; " and 
they strolled slowly back again. In fact, 
they nearly miased the train, naughty girls I 
Hetty would have been so worried, they as- 
sured each other, but they reached the station 
just in time. 

"Lutie," said Miss Dobin, "put up your 
hand and part it from your forehead ; it seems 
to be getting out of place a little ; " and Miss 
Lucinda, who had just got breath enough to 
speak, returned the information that Miss 
Dobin's was almost covering her eyebrows. 
They might have to trim them a little shorter; 
of course it could be done. The darkness was 
falling ; they had taken an early dinner before 
they started, and now they were tired and hun- 
gry after the exertion of the afternoon, but the 



THE DULHAM LADIES, 147 

spirit of youth flamed afresh in their hearts, 
and they were very happy. If one's heart re- 
mains yotmg, it is a sore trial to have the out- 
ward appearance entirely at variance. It was 
the ladies' nature to be girlish, and they found 
it impossible not to be grateful to the flimsy, 
ineffectual disguise which seemed to set them 
right with the world. The old conductor, who 
had known them for many years, looked hard 
at them as he took their tickets, and, being a 
man of humor and compassion, affected not to 
notice anything remarkable in their appear- 
ance. " You ladies never mean t© grow old, 
like the rest of us," he said gallantly, and the 
sisters fairly quaked with joy. 

" Bless us ! " the obnoxious Mrs. Woolden 
was saying, at the other end of the car. 
" There 's the old maid Dobbinses, and they 
've bought 'em some bangs. I expect they 
wanted to get thatched in a little before real 
cold weather ; but don't they look just like a 
pair o' poodle dogs." 

The little ladies descended wearily from the 
train. Somehow they did not enjoy a day's 
shopping as much as they used. They were 
certainly much obliged to Hetty for sending 



148 THE DULHAM LADIES. 

her niece's boy to meet them, with a lantern ; 
also for having a good warm supper ready 
when they came in. Hetty took a quick look 
at her mistresses, and returned to the kitchen. 
" I knew somebody would be foolin* of 'em," 
she assured herself angrily, but she had to 
laugh. Their dear, kind faces were wrinkled 
and pale, and the great frizzes had lost their 
pretty curliness, and were hanging down, al- 
most straight and very ugly, into the ladies' 
eyes. They could not tuck them up under their 
caps, as they were sure might be done. 

Then came a succession of rainy days, and 
nobody visited the rejuvenated household. The 
frisettes looked very bright chestnut by the 
light of day, and it must be confessed that 
Miss Dobin took the scissors and shortened 
Miss Lucinda's half an inch, and Miss Lucinda 
returned the compliment quite secretly, be- 
cause each thought her sister's forehead lower 
than her own. Their dear gray eyebrows were 
honestly displayed, as if it were the fashion 
not to have them match with wigs. Hetty at 
last spoke out, and begged her mistresses, as 
they sat at breakfast, to let her take the frizzes 
back and change them. Her sister's daugh- 



THE DULHAM LADIES. 149 

ter worked in that very shop, and, though in 
the work-room, would be able to oblige them, 
Hetty was sure. 

But the ladies looked at each other in pleased 
assurance, and then turned together to look at 
Hetty, who stood already a little apprehensive 
near the table, where she had just put down 
a plateful of smoking drop-cakes. The good 
creature really began to look old. 

" They are worn very much in town," said 
Miss Dobin. " We think it was quite fortu- 
nate that the fashion came in just as our hair 
was growing a trifle thin. I dare say we may 
choose those that are a shade duller in color 
when these are a little past. Oh, we shall not 
want tea this evening, you remember, Hetty. 
I am glad there is likely to be such a good 
night for the sewing circle." And Miss Dobin 
and Miss Lucinda nodded and smiled. 

" Oh, my sakes alive I " the troubled hand- 
maiden groaned. " Going to the circle, be 
they, to be snickered at ! Well, the Dobbin 
girls they was born, and the Dobbin girls they 
will remain till they die ; but if they ain't in- 
nocent Christian babes to those that knows 'em 
well, mark me down for an idjit myself I They 



160 THE DULHAM LADIES, 

, believe them front-pieces has set the clock back 
forty year or more, but if they 're pleased to 
think so, let 'em ! " 

Away paced the Dolham ladies, late in the 
afternoon, to grace the parish occasion, and 
face the amused scrutiny of their neighbors. 
^^ I think we owe it to society to observe the 
fashions of the day," said Miss Lucinda. ^^A_ 
lady cannot a«fford to be unattractive. I feel / 
now as if we were prepared for anything ! " / 




A BUSINESS MAN. 
I. 

If a man chooses a profession it is, or ought 
to be, with other desires than that of growing 
rich. He may wish to be skillful and learned 
as a means of self-development and helping 
his fellow-men, and if he is successful nobody 
has a right to sneer at him because he does not 
make a fortune. But when most men enter 
a mercantile life it is with the acknowledged 
purpose of making money. The world has a 
right, too, to look on with interest to find 
what they do with tiieir money afterward. 
Dollars are of primary consideration to the 
standing of a business man, and are only sec- 
ondary to a clergyman or a doctor — that is, 
when one judges by pubKc rather than private 
conditions and indications of success. Yet the 
money-getter may win great wealth, and fail 
completely of reaching his highest value, and 
reward, and satisfaction as a human being. 



.\ 






I 



162 A BUSINESS MAN. 



i y , y People often said that there was something 
y ^ ^ /^ ^^ blood of the Cravens (their true name 
^ ^ i \ /shall be a secret) which hungered for posse^- 
^ « ' sion and was always seeking to gratify its love 

of acquisition. John Craven, the proud inher- 
itor of a name already well known in business 
circles, certainly loved the thought of his 
thousands and hundred thousands. He felt a 
vast pleasure in letting his eyes glance down 
the columns of figures in his private account- 
book — a gratified sense of security and abun- 
dance which none of the fruits of his wealth 
had power to bestow. The fine house in which 
he lived, his handsome young children, all 
failed to be so completely rewarding to his eye 
and heart as the special page or two where 
the chief items of his property were repre- 
sented by straight-stenmied fours and ones 
and delicately-curved threes and sixes and 
nines. He was a man who never directly 
wronged any one, but who was determined to 
succeed and to make money. He thought lit- 
tle of his personal relation to society, and still 
less of his relation to the next world. All his 
mind was bent upon making a splendid finan- 
cial success, and though early in life this end 



A BUSINESS MAN. 153 

was gained, he still went on planning great 
gains and glories, and looked upon himself as 
one of the younger business men of his city, 
until long after he was a grandfather. 

Then the tide of satisfaction seemed at last 
to turn. One thing after another forced him 
to waver and to hesitate in these great manip- 
ulations of his capitaL Mr. Craven was keen 
and quick to grasp his business opportunities, 
but little things annoyed him, and he became 
sensitive where once he had been indifferent. 
He was just transferring his chief office and 
warehouse to a noble nfw building, when for 
the first time in his life he became seriously 
ill, and from necessity his eldest son was pro- 
moted temporarily to the head of the business. 

It was a strange surprise when the family 
physician told him that he could no longer bear 
what he could once ; that a man of his years 
must favor himself ; and finally advised that 
a few months in Europe would do him the 
much needed good. John Craven was start- 
led and angry at first ; he had always looked 
forward to such a holiday, and had already 
enjoyed foreign sights by proxy, since his fam- 
ily had crossed the ocean repeatedly, like other 



154 A BUSINESS MAN. 

families of their social station. But this 
seemed to mean only that the girls wished to 
go again, and at first he emphatically refused 
to be made the victim of such a conspiracy. 

When he visited his place of business, how- 
ever, after his illness, he was made somewhat 
low spirited. The new warehouse was occu-'' 
pied now, and it was fatiguingly large and 
noisy. Young John was getting on very well ; 
he mis^ht be all the more use by and by if he 
had the chance of trying hi« hLd now. He 
could not do much mischief, the elder man 
thought, as he sank into his great cushioned 
chair with a little sigh. He had meant to 
give orders that his familiar desk and wooden 
armchair should be brought from the old 
counting-room, but it was too late now, and to 
be sure they would be quite out of place in all 
this magnificence of plate glass and mahogany. 
Yes,XS was right ; thif new office wTin 
keeping with the position of the firm, and the 
senior partner looked into his new safe with 
pride and approval, and complimented his son 
upon the way he had managed things. The 
old grandfather who had trained him used to 
sit on a high stool, and wear a green baize 



A BUSINESS MAN, 165 

jacket, in the first dingy counting-room. " He 
started us — he started us," said John Craven 
to himself ; then he felt a little shaky and sat 
down again, saying that he would not go 
through the house until next day, perhaps. 
He had hardly got back his strength, but Jack 
might bring the statements. There were a 
number of new clerks even in the inner ofiKce, 
and one had a crafty, small face. ^' I don't 
like that fellow's looks," he muttered. ^^ Who 
got him here, I should like to know I " But 
Jack responded, with wounded pride, that this 
was the smartest book-keeper in New York ; 
he had been trying to get him into their em- 
ploy for a year. 

Somehow, for the first time John Craven 
was conscious that he was getting to be old. 
He grumbled something about the boys pull- 
ing and hauling him and his affairs, and wish, 
ing him out of their way. The pomp of the 
new counting-room, the self-sufficiency of Jack, 
dazzled and angered him not a little. He had 
thought it indispensable to the welfare of this 
great business that he should not miss a day 
at his desk, all through the busiest times of 
the year. But here was the establishment 



156 A BUSINESS MAN. 

running along on its manifold and ponderous 
track, just as well as if he had been at the 
post of guidance. Well, not every man had 
given his affairs such a good momentum ; he 
had only followed out the founder's principles, 
too, and he thought again of the sturdy grand- 
father in the baize jacket. After all, it was 
good for the son and successor; he would 
stand well in the row of John Cravens. Jack 
was married and settled. He had as hand- 
some a house as his father's, a block higher up 
the avenue. The rascal had even grown a 
little patronizing of late, but John Craven, 
the elder, had no intention of being called an 
old man yet. 

There were some questions to ask about the 
real estate investments that day, but Jack 
could not answer for these. Walter had been 
looking after that part of the property, and 
Walter was out of town. " So they had di- 
vided the responsibility between them, had 
they ? " the father grumbled ; but Jack brought 
a great handftd of cheques and papers to be 
signed, and the two men lunched and joked 
together. The firm was already larger than 
the senior partner approved. It was no use 



A business' MAN, 167 

to talk about adding another member. But 
Jack took advantage of his father's smiles to 
suggest the admission of a brother-in-law, the 
husband of the youngest daughter. " I '11 
think it over," replied the chief, turning to 
look for his penholder. "No, his capital is 
no inducement. We 're carrying sail enough 
for the present, unless times change for the 
better." 

Jack went back to his own desk a little an- 
noyed. He did not like to give up his author- 
ity. Was it only a month since the old gentle- 
man had been away ? It seemed like a year. 



II. 

John Graven took the doctor's advice, after 
all, and went to Europe. He had felt strangely 
weak and unequal to much effort ever since his 
illness, and he grasped at the promised re- 
newal of his health. There was great satisfac- 
tion at meeting some of his old correspondents 
on the other side ; he wholly enjoyed his jour- 
neyings, and was satisfied with the careful re- 
ports from home. He was proud, too, of some 



(. 



158 A BUSINESS MAN, 

new outlooks and connections which he suc- 
ceeded in forming. " In a business way," he 
was fond of saying to his wife, '^ the time had 
been well spent." But Mrs. Craven lost no 
chance of urging her husband to give up the 
business to the boys. He had overworked him- 
self, she pleaded over and over again, it was 
no use to break down his health altogether. He 
knew very well now that he could not bear what 
he could once. The truth was, the ways of do- 
ing business were changing — these submarine 
telegraphs were doing as much harm as good, 
llie time had gone by when a man could get 
private advices of a rise in values, and quickly 
increase his stock to control the market. Now, 
what one knew the rest knew, and it was simply 
a question of who could sell cheapest. John 
Craven talked it^OTer agaiH and again with 
idling merchants like himself. 

Not long after their return the great sorrow 
of his life came to him in his wife's death. It 
was harder to bear the loss then than it ever 
could have been before. They had loved each 
other with a sober, undemonstrative affection, 
which was as permanent and unquestioned as 
the air they breathed. In the earlier years. 



A BUSINESS MAN, 159 

while he was immersed, as he often said, in 
business cares, and the good woman was careful 
and troubled about many things, — her grow- 
ing children, her household, and her social rela- 
tions, — they had gone their separate ways 
without much reference to each other, satisfied 
with a mutual confidence and inspiration. For 
the first time in these later months they had 
sometimes spent all the hours of the days to- 
gether, and had been more lover-like and affec- 
tionate than ever before. They sometimes 
talked in the long twilights of the English 
lakes or the soft sunshine of Italy about what 
they would do together when they reached 
home ; and John Craven felt less annoyance at 
the thought of his boys' business capacity. He 
would have more time at home than ever be- 
fore; he even grew interested in his wife's 
small charitable enterprises, and lent a willing 
ear to her confidences, and knew at last what 
good his generous cheques had done in pub- 
lic and private needs. He had never found 
time to think much of these things. But alas, 
good Mrs. Craven died after a short illness, 
within a week or two of their arrival home, 
and the great house with its unpacked treas- 



160 ' A BUSINESS MAN. 

^r^ which they had chosen together, was left 

(desolate. 

It was harder than ever for this business 
man to assure himself that a man need not be 
old at his age ; but somehow he had let go his 
active oversight of affairs, while he could sum- 
mon no interest to fill the place of that to which 
he had given all his time and thought. He 
cared nothing for books or for art, or, saddest 
of all, his fashionable daughter thought, for 
society* He had given away much money be- 
cause others ,£isi2£U2tad. it,- JbaJLbe .had., never 
pivenvhims elf with his dol lars. He was some- 
times angry with the boys, and sometimes 
thankful to give up his responsibility, but he 
wished such relinquishment to be voluntary ; 
it should not be taken for granted. His daugh- 
ters were eager to have their share of his favor ; 
they came to him with stories of the boys' as- 
sumption of authority and precedence. They 
were all dependent upon him in one way or an- 
other, and John Craven told himself more than 
once that he should like to see one of the crowd 
who had made his own way in the world. They 
were all respectful and affectionate. The girls 
told him again and again that they were so 



A BUSINESS MAN. J61 

glad that their husbands were able to relieve 
him of care, and were men he could trust. Yes, 
he surely had a great deal to be thankful for ; 
it seemed to be nobody's fault that he was laid 
on the shelf. Jack w^s sometimes overbearing 
and self-confident about the business. It was 
amazing that he himself, who had been counted 
one of the most daring, far-sighted, and enter- 
prising men of his day, shoidd be constantly 
made to feel that he was an old fogy and fast 
drifting astern of the times. Who should un- 
derstand the times if not a man of his experi- 
ence ? As the long months went by, the days 
when he did not go to his ofiKce were of more 
and more frequent occurrence. The chief value 
of his presence seemed to be for the subscrip- 
tion Usts, which by no means passed him by, 
and one day there was a vehement outbreak of 
anger against young Jack, who had ventured 
to suggest the propriety of a smaller sum than 
his father had seen fit to bestow. ^^ You may 
be making money, but whose money are you 
making it with," the old man demanded, while 
Jack spoke soothingly and glanced round at 
the other desks. He did not look as if he 
would like to knock his father down, as he 



16? A BUSINESS MAN. 

used in case of differences when they both were 
younger, and the senior partner was injured by 
this slighting of their present equality. ^^ You 
treat me as if I were an old woman," he said, 
and went away. Jack was such an insufferable 
prig, and there was Jack's boy, who ought to 
be at a desk, already parading about the park 
with his dog cart and saddle-horses — a good- 
f or-nothing dandy. Times had changed in- 
deed! 



m. 

When Mr. Craven did not go down town in 
the morning he sometimes took his stick and 
walked eastward along the street that made a 
right angle with the avenue nearest his house. 
He did not like to meet his acquaintances, 
even ladies, in business hours, but he found it 
amusing to^watch the progress of some build- 
ings not a great distance away. The contrast 
between this district and the region of his ovm 
home was very striking, though he found him- 
self by no means in the most squalid portion 
of his native city. On the contrary, there was 
even a sort of thrif tiness. John Craven had 



A BUSINESS MAN. 163 

more than once complimented the good land- 
lord, whoever he might be, of one long row of 
small brick houses. The occupants were evi- 
dently people of small means, but most re- 
spectable and orderly, and at the end of the 
block was a shop or two — a druggist's, and a 
gay little place which held out inducements to 
womankind, of thread and needles, neckties, 
and even letter-paper amd calico prints. ^^ Good 
thing, good thing," the rich ex-merchant would 
say approvingly, " if only the women don't 
waste their time, and travel way down to Stew- 
art's for every spool of cotton," 

It happened that John Craven walked slowly 
by one morning just as the owner of this place 
of business was opening his shutters. He was 
a bright-faced young man of two or three and 
twenty, and the elderly gentleman hesitated, 
then stopped and said good-morning. 

The young man looked around cheerfully. 
" Good-day, sir," he answered ; " can I do any- 
thing for you in my line ? " And Mr. Craven 
smiled benignantly, without committing him- 
self to any definite reply. " You are on time, 
I see," he said presently, tapping the pave- 
ment with his cane as the proprietor fastened 



164 A BUSINESS MAN. 

the shutter back with a sufficient snap. Theie 
was only one window to the little store, but its 
contents were most alluringly arranged. " Yes, 
sir, time 's money," answered the admiring 
owner of the trifling wares. " I should be glad 
to have you step inside," and with a glance 
along the street toward the avenue, Mr. Craven 
accepted the invitation. It was still early in 
the morning, he had not been sleeping well of 
late, and his luxurious household was hardly 
astir. His eldest daughter had come home 
with her family to keep the house for him after 
her mother*s death. Her husband was the least 
prosperous of the sons or sons-in-law, and to 
tell the truth John Craven was not at all fond 
of him, and never had been. 

There was something delightfully cordial 
and sincere in the younger merchant's hospi- 
tality. At any rate it was stronger than his 
guest's reasons for not accepting it, and Mr. 
Craven bowed gravely and went in at the door. 
He took no notice of anything in particular. 
The cheap goods did not invite his attention 
in detail, but he seated himself on one of the 
two light stools which were provided for the 
comfort of possible customers, and asked, look- 



A BUSINESS MAN. 165 

ing about Urn in an interested way, how long 
the business had been established. 

" Only a month or two," answered the young 
man, and a boyish color spread quickly over 
his face. " I hope there 's a good chance here 1 
I don't see why I shouldn't do well. I seem 
to have the good-will of the neighborhood, so 
far. There are some dressmakers near by 
who do a pile of work: one of them does 
stitching and finishing for Madame Blanc, and 
has all she can carry. I ^ any orders, you 
know, for goods I don't carry in stock. I hope 
I shall do well here, and I don't mind saying 
I shall sell out the business when it gets to be 
worth anything, and strike for something bet- 
ter. I wish I was a little nearer the avenue. 
I know a fellow who keeps a first-rate class of 
goods up in Thirtieth Street that 's getting 
rich. You see the seamstresses m some of the 
big houses give Hm all their trade, and about 
keep him going." 

Mr. Craven returned the hopeful smile of 
his entertainer, and slowly unfastened his over- 
coat. He felt a little tired and lonely that 
morning, and did not wear the look of a pros- 
perous man. The coat itself was a comfort- 



166 A BUSINESS MAN. 

able old one he bad insisted upon keeping 
wben bis daughter had suggested the presenta- 
tion of it to a deserving German mother to 
make over for her children. Somehow Mr. 
Craven liked to wear it in these morning walks 
away from the avenue. The buttons were 
loose, and one of them actually came off at this 
moment and rolled behind some boxes that 
were piled at the end of the counter. William 
Chellis the shopkeeper looked after it, but 
some instinct that he could hardly explain led 
him to ignore the trivial accident. The old 
gentleman looked as if he had seen better days. 
The button-holes of the coat were frayed, and 
a bit of the lining was hanging. Chellis had 
often seen the old fellow go by about this time 
in the morning, stopping once in a whUe to 
speak to some children, or to exchange greet- 
ings with the bricklayers who were tending 
the great mortar-box in front of the new block. 
They talked together for a few minutes in a 
friendly way. Chellis was arranging his wares, 
and when the visitor rose to go he darted for- 
ward to open the door for him. " I should be 
pleased to have you drop in any time, sir," he 
said, with pleasant deference. '' I hope you '11 



A BUSINESS MAN. 167 

remember to mention the store if you have 
any ladies at home. My goods are mostly in 
their line." 

" Do you keep pins? " asked Mr. Craven, 
turning back with evident pleasure, to make 
an investment in four papei*s. He could find 
somebody to give them to, and there was a 
satisfaction in putting the little package in his 
pocket. He was used to writing cheques for 
his purchases, and was a little uncertain, as he 
took some change from his waistcoat pocket, 
about the state of his present finances. 

*' There never is much doing this time in the 
morning," explained the proprietor. " My cus- 
tomers either come toward night, or run over 
here at noon time. I ought to have somebody 
to help me, for I shut up now when I go down 
town to fill my orders. I want to get on as 
cheap as I can, though, for the present. All 
great things must have a beginning," he added 
as he opened the door the second time. There 
was something delightfully fresh and energetic 
about the young man. John Craven sighed to 
remember that there was a time when his own 
future lay all before him. The winter wind 
had risen and was whirling the dust and bits 



168 A BUSINESS MAN, 

of paper along the bare payement, and as he 
went away toward the avenue, he had to stop 
more than once and turn his back to the un- 
wholesome gale. He happened to be just op- 
posite a window at one time, where a sweet- 
faced young girl sat sewing busily. There were 
some half-finished garments on the table beside 
her ; a very pretty girl she was, and she looked 
frankly up at the elderly man, and even gave 
him a bright smile of unconscious sympathy 
and friendliness. 

The whole day afterward, while the wind 
blew and the weather was cold, and a few flakes 
of snow clicked against the windows, John 
Craven sat by the library fire trying to read 
newspapers and dozing and meditating by 
turns. He tried once or twice to allure his 
younger grandchildren down to keep him com- 
pany, but they were needed up-stairs to prac- 
tice for a famous fancy baU in aid of some chil- 
dren's hospital. They were to have fine cos- 
tumes and be prominent in the dances, and 
could only chatter to him of these things if 
they stayed* Their mother had rebuked him 
for staying out of doors so long on a chilly 
morning. He was late to breakfast, and she 



A BUSINESS MAN. 169 

reproached him for making her uneasy. He 
might have a fall any day, or be knocked over 
by the passing carts. 

" I should like to have my liberty," the old 
man answered, with more severity than was 
usual with him. He did not feel so old as 
other people seemed to consider him — life was 
not very amusing of late. But certainly he 
was much interested in his new acquaintance 
of the side street. '^ I '11 watch that lad," Mr. 
Craven assured himseK, ''and by and by, if 
he does well, I '11 let him have some capital." 
While, with rare sentiment, he also wondered 
if the nice girl who sewed by the window and 
the brisk young merchant were aware of each 
other's existence. 

The question was answered no later than 
the next morning but one. Between the two 
interviews a serious trial came to our hero. 
He had been vastly punctual at the fortnightly 
meetings of a certain notable company, of 
which he had been chief originator, and had 
clung more and more of late to this one of the 
last of his active business duties. He felt un- 
usually clear and capable as he entered the 
directors' room, but being early he was adroit- . 



170 A BUSINESS MAN, 

ly tendered a suggestion that he should resign 
his place on the board in favor of his son Jack. 
He could find no fault with the delicate man- 
ner in which this suggestion was made. There 
was a troublesome, decrepit old fellow, who 
had been in the way for half a dozen years, 
and it was proposed that the two senior direc- 
tors should be put on a sort of retired list. The 
friend who spoke alluded to the annoyance 
Mr. Craven must receive from his feeling of 
obligation to attend the meetings now that he 
had shaken off so entirely the cares of business. 
He held so large an interest in the property 
that it would not have done to remove him 
from a part in its active control, except 
through his own agency, and John Craven, 
who was a proud man, told himself with a flash 
of anger that this was some of Jack's doings, 
and quietly acquiesced. '^ They knock the old 
folks on the head in the South Sea Islands," 
he grumbled next day, when he saw a too 
prompt series of resolutions on his retirement 
included in the financial report of his com- 
pany. He wondered if his wife knew how 
lonely he was, and counted up with surprise 
the months since she had been taken away 
from him. 



A BUSINESS MAN, 171 

The morning afterward was clear and spring, 
like, and lie went out earlier than usual. The 
pleasant weather was in itself a comfort, and 
he found himself taking quicker steps than 
usual toward the little store. It was already 
open, and there was a customer who turned a 
not unfamiliar face toward the door as Mr. 
Craven opened it. The two young people 
were talking eagerly, and both blushed a little 
in a pretty, conscious way, and said good- 
morning, as if the new-comer were an old 
friend. *' This is a pleasanter day than when 
I had to come to a halt next your window," 
said the old gentleman, gallantly. He had 
bfcen hurrjring, and was glad to accept the seat 
which the younger man pushed toward him. 

" There were a few little things I thought 
they could make use of at the house," said Mr. 
Craven presently, to explain his appearance — 
but he did not look about for the necessary 
goods. " How are you getting on ? " he asked, 
in a benevolent and paternal fashion, and they 
turned to acquaint this friendly stranger with 
an assurance of their excellent prospects. 
Evidently the young people had a very partic- 
ular interest in each other, and Mr. Craven 



172 A BUSINESS MAN, 

became sure that their marriage depended 
upon youDg Chellis's future income. There 
was a debt of a few hundred dollars on the 
stock ; it had been a tremendous venture for 
the feUow, and the wise old business man 
shook his head, as he was made to understand 
the position of affairs. '* If you could only- 
pay off those accounts now/' he said soberly, 
'^ so that you could be handling for yourself 
the money that is coming in." And young 
Chellis looked wistful and determined as he 
nodded his head in assent. 

There was a painful silence of a moment or 
two which Chellis himself broke. ^^ You lost 
a button off your coat when you were in da^ 
before yesterday morning, sir. I found it after- 
ward and laid it by. Miss Brooks has got a 
needle with her now, I dare say, and she 'U 
sew it on for you if you will let her ; " and 
John Craven looked from one face to the other 
with pleased surprise. He would have been 
amused if he had known that they had talked 
about him several times, and had made up 
their minds that he was a bachelor who boarded 
somewhere in that region — a man who had 
seen better days, and was now poor and friend- 



A BUSINESS MAN. 178 

less. Miss Brooks had ventured to wish that 
he might have a little money which he would 
like to put into such a thriving and rising busi- 
ness venture as her lover's. But the lover had 
replied with deeper wisdom that the elderly 
stranger did not wear the look of a prosper- 
ous man. Poor John Craven, with his houses 
and lands, his blocks of buildings, and his in- 
terest in a line of steamers, his manufactories, 
and his mortgages, and bank stocks, and rail- 
road stocks, and his luxurious children, whom 
he had housed in palaces! He felt poorer, 
after all, than these young creatures, who still 
had their fortunes to make, and whose best 
capital was their love for each other. 

But in the last few dragging years nothing 
had given him such a hearty pleasure as his 
new interest in this little enterprise of the fancy 
goods store on East Number Street. His cau- 
tious business instinct made him very careful 
to know his ground. Then one day, to young 
Chellis's great delight, when he was beginning 
to fear his creditors and look older and more 
troubled than usual, the kindly guest counted 
out a sum of money as if it were all he had in 
the world, and begged to go into partnership, 



174 A BUSINESS MAN. 

waiving all formalities. The two men sat 
down together as if they were alike twenly-two, 
and embarked upon courageous plans for future 
gains. Sometimes of late, Mr. Craven — who 
let himself be called Mr. Brown, though his 
honest heart revolted from the deception — 
postponed his visit until after the late break- 
fast and spent as much of the day as he chose 
with his new friend. What sagacity of advice 
the old merchant imparted to the new one time 
would fail for describing. Chellis had long 
ago made up his mind that his benefactor 
must have had an unusual business career and 
been wrecked in some great financial crisis. 

The situation was not without its dangers. 
Even the walk along East Number Street was 
beset with fears, and John Craven varied his 
line of approach from day to day. Once he 
beheld with dismay the entrance of one of his 
own housemaids upon his new place of busi- 
ness, as he stood behind the high desk casting 
up a column of figures. Luckily there was an 
inner room, to which he stealthily retreated 
with beating heart, and listened there to the 
loud, unmannerly tones of the woman who was 
at home a most soft-spoken and servile crea- 
ture. But this accident did not happen again. 



A BUSINESS MAN. 175 

and he felt more and more secure in the com- 
panionship of his young partner. It was sur- 
prising how his youtMul zest and ambition 
seemed, for a time, to return ; how pleased he 
was when an uncommonly good day's trade 
was reported. He shook his head when the 
young folks asked him to come to their wed- 
ding, but he slipped as large a biU as he dared 
into the bride's work-roughened little hand 
and stole away toward his own house. It had 
made him desolate to see the rooms the lov- 
ers were to live in. They had asked their ben- 
efactor to visit their new home in such a way 
that he could not refuse, and they told him 
they never could have got on so well without 
his help. Little Miss Brooks was not going 
to give up her sewing at present. She would 
take care of their tiny housekeeping and earn 
all she could in the spare time, just as she had 
always done. They did not seem like city 
people at all; they had the simple ways of 
country folks. And John Craven thought of 
them with deep affection as he sat at the head 
of his glittering dinner-table that night, and 
lifted a glass of his best wine in a shaking 
hand to drink secretly Mr. and Mrs. William 
Chellis's health and prosperity. 



176 A BUSINESS MAN. 

At last there came a time, late one spring, 
when the old business man seemed much fee- 
bler than he had ever before. He hardly ever 
w^nt down to the great office now, and was 
even glad when the rare expedition was safely 
over with. Once or twice he took his seat at 
some assembly, but he was an inefficient figure- 
head, and was more annoyed than otherwise 
with the empty show of deference from his in- 
feriors in office. Every day when it was pos- 
sible, however, he paid an early visit to his 
young friends in East Number Street, and on 
many a morning when there were few custom- 
ers coming in, he gave the ambitious proprie- 
tor warnings and suggestions. There was a 
young boy added to the force of this mercan- 
tile experiment, a lad from Vermont, whose 
bright face seemed to please the old gentle- 
man, and on one of the last visits Chellis sent 
him home with Mr. Craven. It caused a good 
deal of curiosity and interest when the adven- 
ture was recounted, for he had helped the infirm 
guest up the high steps of one of the best ave- 
nue houses. But the morning calls were nearly 
done. Mr. Craven only appeared once more, 
and then when the owner of the little shop had 



■»-r" 



A BUSINESS MAN. 177 

gone down town. He and liis young wife 
talked a great deal that night about their ben- 
efactor. ** He 's been the making of me," said 
Chellis to himself, sadly, as the days went by 
after that and his friend did not come again. 

For a long time Mr. Craven's daughter had 
said proudly that her father was able to take 
an hour or two's walk early every morning ; in 
these late spring days she had compkined frei. 
fully that he used up all his strength in doing 
so much, and that he was fit for nothing all the 
rest of the day. At length John Craven was 
taken away to his country place, and before the 
summer was over he died. The poor rich man 
had almost ceased to care anything for even 
the dolls' shopkeeping, as he had often fondly 
called it, though he was still grateful for the 
pleasure that came to him as he dreamed of 
and planned for the future fortune of the hap- 
py young people in East Number Street. 

His wi/1 was made some months before, and 
was as just to his own family and to public needs 
as all his dealings had been. There was one 
codicil which surprised his family entirely, — he 
left five thousand dollars to one William Chel- 
lis, in East Number Street, and among the 



\ 



178 A BUSINESS MAN. 

latest of his private papers was a note to this 
legatee written in a trembling hand, which con* 
trasted strangely with his former clear signa- 
tures. 

^ I have left something for you as a remem- 
brance," Mr. Craven said. ^* I have no doubt 
that you will make your way in the world by 
its help and your own exertions, and I owe you 
something for your kindness and respect to an 
old man. Remember that getting money may 
make you poor as it has me, and can leave you 
at last a beggar for a little friendliness, and 
sympathy, and occupation. There are other 
things which a man needs beside wealth to 
. make him happy. I am your grateful friend, 

"John Craven." 

The young man's eyes were strangely dimmed 
as he read. " Grood heavens ! " he said, awed 
and astonished. " I used to think Ipmetimes 
that he was n't the broken-down old fellow we 
took him for at first ; but there he was all the 
time, one of the richest men in the city ! How 
pleased he used to be some days to help be- 
hind the counter when two or three customers 



A BUSINESS MAN. 179 

came in together. So that was old John 
Craven ! " 

'^ Perhaps our place made him think of old 
times, when he was just beginning, himself," 
hopefully answered the little wife. " I remem- 
ber the first time I saw him, one windy morn- 
ing when the dust blew in his face and he turned 
round and looked right in at the window. He 
made me feel real bad, he looked so lonesome 
and wishful. I never thought he was going to 
give us such a lot of money." 

^^ He 's given me something better than that, 
too," said young Chellis, solemnly ; and when 
the woman beside him looked up to ask what 
he meant, he only kissed her and went away. 
There were truly many gains to be had in the 
/ world beside money, even if one's heart was 
(_ set upon being, first of all, A Business Man. 



MAEY AND MAETHA. 

The two sisters — the old Miss Deans, as 
people had begun to call them — had always 
lived together, and what had happened to one 
happened to the other. They often said that 
what one knew the other knew ; and since they 
had spent their years very quietly, the things 
that each sister thought best worth saying had 
been said many times over. For all this, they 
were as different as they could be. Mary 
was MaryJike — a little too easy and loving- 
hearted ; and Martha was Martharlike — a lit- 
tle too impatient with foolish folks, and for- 
getting to be affectionate while she tried to be 
what she called just. Sometimes she thought 
her younger sister visionary and sentimental ; 
for Martha was, before all things, practical 
and straightforward, and there lurked a little 
pride in her heart because she did not see how 
Mary could get on without her own forethought 
and provision for their needs. 



MARY AND MARTHA. 181 

The two sisters were very much respected in 
the village where they lived. They sewed for 
their living; they were tailoresses by trade, 
and though they did not make so many suits 
of clothes since their neighbors found the 
ready-made clothing shops so cheap and con- 
venient, they made little boys' first suits and 
stray jackets and trousers whenever they could. 
They mended them, too, for one or two busy 
neighbors who could afford to pay them. You 
might hear it said twenty times a year, '' How 
should we ever get along without Mary and 
Martha Dean I " And more than once it had 
been questioned who could take their places if 
anything happened to the good women. Mar- 
tha was usually strong and vigorous, short and 
thick-set in appearance, and a little given to 
bustling if anything particular were going on. 
She was an excellent hand to make over a 
carpet ; she was an extremely judicious and 
seqpible person. It was Martha who had been 
called upon to go and keep house for her 
townspeople when they went away. But more 
than one neighbor had dearly liked to have 
Mary Dean in the sick-room, she was so gentle 
and quiet, and did not insist upon doing some- 



182 MARY AND MARTHA. 

thing when there was nothing to do, as her 
good, anxious, willing sister did once in a while. 
Yet everybody called Martha a splendid nurse ; 
she was so capable, they said ; and most people 
liked to hear her talk to the sick, and tell them 
they were nervous and notional, and there 
was n't anything great the matter with them, 
and she had seen folks twice as bad off. There 
was no gainsaying the fact that this treatment 
occasionally did good; for one thing, many 
friends had as much confidence in Martha Dean 
as in the doctor, and it was good for them that 
she rallied their hopes ; ^^ where there 's a will 
there 's a way " being as often true about get- 
ting well as it is about getting rich. But when 
taU, thin Mary, with her pleased, absentr 
minded look, stole into a bedroom on a dreary 
day and said nothing but " How do you do ? " 
or " I thought perhaps you 'd like to have com- 
pany," and laid on the coimterpane a very 
small tea-rose which was known to ^ve 
bloomed on a little bush that had been tended 
like a baby, and brought through the winter 
only by the greatest care — when Mary Dean 
did this, it might be thought that she was too 
wistful and unreviving for a sick-room. Yet 



MARY AND MARTHA. 183 

many a patient wished more than ever to get 
weU again, if only to do something for this 
kind nurse in return. They were both useful 
in their way. It must be confessed that Mar- 
tha made a great deal the best gruel ; but some- 
times you wanted one and sometimes the other, 
and meant no disrespect to the slighted sister. 
They lived together on a hilltop just outside 
the village. The faded yellow story-and-a-half 
house looked as if it had strayed away a little 
to be by itself. Perhaps somebody was in- 
fluenced to build it there so that it would be 
all ready for Mary Dean, who loved quiet more 
and more as she grew older. Martha often 
fretted, and wished that she were in the vil- 
lage. She thought the half a mile a longish 
walk in bad weatiier, and was sure they would 
get more to do if they were right among folks. 
You would do twenty-five cents' worth your- 
self many a time rather than rig all up in a 
rau^torm to lug it up a long hill ! If there 
haabeen more land with the little house, Mar- 
tha was sure they could sell it to advantage ; 
but whenever she talked about that, as she 
would sometimes, in a most fierce way, her sis- 
ter provoked her a little by not consenting to 



184 MARY AND MARTHA. 

see the advantage. Mary would only say, 
" Perliaps you know best," or, " Do you think 
we oould find just the right house ? " but she 
always looked utterly miserable, and bright- 
ened up when, after a season of gloomy silence, 
her more energetic sister would speak about 
something else. Mary loved every blade of 
grass on their fifth part of an acre ; she loved 
even the great ledge that took up part of their 
small domain, and made the rest scorched and 
dry in midsummer. It seemed to her, if she 
had to leave the house, that she must give up, 
not only seeing the sunsets, but the memory of 
all the sunsets she could remember. The good 
women were growing old. Martha was rheu- 
matic in cold weather, and it was Martha who 
went oftenest to the village and upon whom 
most of the inconvenience came. '^ I expect to 
live and die here," she said, one day, to a new 
customer, who asked them if they had always 
lived in the old house ; ^^ that is, provi)^|d I 
don't die on the road goin' and oomin'." ^ 

One day, about the middle of November, the 
sisters were both at home, and sat each by her 
chosen window, stitching busUy. Sometimes 
Mary would stop for a minute or two, and look 



MARY AND 'MARTHA. 185 

out across the country, as if she really took 
pleasure in seeing the leafless trees against the 
gray sky, and the band of pale yellow in the 
southwest, the soft pale brown of the fields 
and pastures, and a bronzed oak here and 
there against the blackish-green pine woods. 
Martha thought it a very bleak, miserable sort 
of day; her window overlooked the road to 
the village, and hardly anybody had gone by 
all the afternoon. 

" I believe the only thing that would make 
it worth while to live 'way out here," she said, 
energetically, " would be a sewing-machine. I 
could take regular work then from Torby's 
shop, as some of the folks are goin' to do, and 
then we could have something to depend upon. 
You ain't able to go out all weathers, and never 
was, and 't was all I could do to get through 
last winter. One time — don't you rec'lect ? — 
we was shut up here four days, and could n't 
h^pf got to the village, to save us, in that big 
storm. It makes a great difference about the 
passing since they cut that new cross-road. 
And I should like to live where I could be rea- 
sonably certain of meetin' privileges ; it did 
seem good to go to Friday evenin' meetin' last 



186 MARY AND MARTHA. 

week when I was to the Ellis's. I caa't feel 
right to go away and leave you alone, and folks 
ain't likely to want us both to once, as they 
used to a good deaL" 

Mary sighed a little. She knew all these 

arguments well; she knew that what they 

wanted was steady work at home in winter. 

They had only a little money in the bank, for, 

thrifty as they were, they were unfortunate 

too, and had lost by a nulroad failure a few 

years ago almost all .their lifetime's savings. 

They could not go out to work much longer, 

Mary knew that well. Martha need not say it 

over so many times ; and she looked up at 

Martha, and was surprised, as if it were the 

first time she had ever noticed it, to see that 

she was almost an old woman. Never quite 

that I The brisk, red • cheeked girl who had 

been her childish pride and admiration could 

< ^ jiever be anything else, in spite of the disguises 

'^ and changes with which time had masked ^er 

^•vy faded countenance. Martha had a lover, too, 

.N- A ' in the days of the red cheeks; sometimes 

' Mary wondered at her bravery in being so 

cheerful and happy ; for the elder sister had 

taken her life as it came, vrith sUch resigna- 



MARY AND MARTHA. 187 

tion and uncomplainingness. Perhaps Mary 
felt the loss of the lover more than Martha 
herself, who had suffered at first, but the grief 
had grown vague years ago. They had not 
been engaged very long, and she had hardly 
grown used to her new relationship before his 
sudden death came. She had often told herself 
that it was all for the best, and in spite of that 
liked to have people know that she was not ex- 
actly like other unmarried women who never 
had been urged to change their situation. But 
when Martha had been sitting in silence, lost 
in thought, and Mary's tender sympathies had 
woven many happy dreams for her, she was 
apt to shatter the dreams at last by some very 
unsentimental remark about the jacket they 
w«re making, or the price of tea. No doubt 
she often had her own sad thoughts, for all 
that. 

There was just such a silence in this No^ 
ve^iber afternoon, and Mary, as usual, humbly 
wondered if her sister were lonely and troubled, 
and if she herself were half so good and ten- 
der as she ought to be to one so dear and kind. 
At last Martha said, in a business-like way : 
^' Next week we shall be getting ready for 



188 MARY AND MARTHA. 

Thanksgiving. I don't expect we shall do so 
much as usual ; I don't see where the money 's 
eomin' from. We had better get along with- 
out a chicken, anyways ; they 're goin' to bring 
a high price, and ours must pay for the wood 
as far as they '11 go." 

^^ I 'm thankful as I can be every day," said 
Mary, softly. ^^ I don't know what I should 
do without you, sister. I hope the Lord 
won't part us ; " and her lip quivered as she 
spoke. ^^ You thought we never should pull 
through this year," she resumed, in a more 
commonplace tone ; ^^ but here we are, after 
all, and we 've done well, and been fed, and 
kept warm." 

^^The next year we ought to shingle the 
house and set the fences into some kind^of 
shape. I wish we could sew up things out- 
doors well 's we can in ; " and Martha smiled 
grimly. 

" We do, don't we ? " and the younger sis- 
ter laughed outright. ^^ I wish we did have a 
sewing-machine. I dare say by and by they '11 
get cheaper. I declare it does n't seem five 
years since the war was over." 

" There 's John Whitefield," said Martha, 



MARY AND MARTHA. 189 

angrily; and Mary looked frightened. She 
was always so sorry when this topic was 
started. " He never gives a thought to what 
our folks did for him. I should n't know him 
if I was to see him, and we are all the own 
cousins he 's got on his father's side. It does 
seem as if he might take some interest in us 
now we ?re all growing old together. He must 
have read our names in the list of those that 
lost in the railroad, and have known 't was all 
we 'd got." 

" Perhaps he thinks we don't take any in- 
terest in him," ventured Mary, timidly. " I 
have sometimes thought about him, and won- 
dered if he supposed we were set against him. 
There was so much hard feelin' between the 
families when we were all young, and we would 
n't speak to him when we were girls. A yotmg 
man would be cut by that as much as any- 
thing"— 

" I would n't speak to him now, either," and 
Martha's voice and her linen thread snapped 
together. " Everybody said they treated our 
folks outrageously. You needn't expect me 
to go meechin' after such thankless and un- 
principled creaturs." 



190 MARY AND MARTHA. 

Mary hardly knew what gave her such oonr- 
age. " I don't want to vex you, I 'm sure," 
she said, simply. ^^ If he did n't answer or 
did n't treat us well any way, I should think aa 
you do ; but I shouldiike to ask him to come 
and spend Thanksgiving Day with us, and 
show him a forgivin' spirit. He ain't so well 
off that he need think we 've got low motives ; 
and " — taking courage — " you know this 'U 
be the first Thanksgiving since his wife died 
— if 't was his wife we saw mentioned in the 
paper." 

^^I must say you are consistent with our 
havin' nothin' for dinner," smUed Miss Mar- 
tha, grimly, elicketing together her big needle 
and her steel thimble without any top. ^*I 
won't lend myself to any such notions, and 
there 's an end to it." 

She rose and disappeared angrily into the 
pantry, and began to assail the pots and pans 
as if she had to begin the preparations for 
ThanksgiAring at that very moment. But Miss 
Mary Dean, whom everybody thought a little 
flighty and unpractical, went on sewing as long 
as the pale daylight lasted. She did not know 
why she was so disappointed about not inviting 



MARY AND MARTHA. 191 

their unknown cousin. She had not thought 
of him very often ; but she had always been 
a little ashamed and sorry about the family 
quarrel that had made everybody so bitter and 
unforgiving when she w^^ a girl. Her father 
thought that this cousin's father cheated him 
of his rights in the old home farm. 

At least three days afterward Sister Martha 
was discovered to be very silent and unreason- 
able; and, in spite of previous experiences, 
Miss Mary was entirely surprised to be told 
late in the evening, just as they were going to 
bed, that a letter had been sent that day to 
Cousin John asking him to come to spend 
Thanksgiving with them on the hilltop. 
*' You 'd never have been satisfied without it, 
I suppose," the good woman said, grudgingly, 
as she went hurrying about the room ; and 
gentle Mary was filled with fear. She knew 
that it would be a trouble to her sister, and an 
unwelcome one ; but at last she felt very glad, 
and was aggravatingly grateful as she thanked 
the head of the family for this generous deed. 
" I don't know why my heart was so set on it," 
she announced later, with great humility, and 



192 MARY AND MARTHA. 

m 

Martha sniffed unmistakably from under the 
patchwork coimterpane. ^'I hope he won't 
stop long," she observed, quite cheerfully. 
And so peace was restored, and Miss Martha 
Dean thought about the dinner and talked over 
her frugal plans, while Mary listened with 
pleased content, and looked out through the 
little bedroom window from her pillow to see 
the white, twinkling, winter-like stars. 

^^ Goodness me! " exclaimed Martha on 
Thanksgiving morning ; ^^ there he comes, and 
he looks as old as Methusaleh I " The sisters 
stood together and watched their guest climb- 
ing the long hill, and made characteristic com- 
ments. ^' H& does look real lonesome," said 
Mary, but Martha bustled off to look at the 
chicken which had just been put into the oven. 
" He looks as if he were hungry," she growled 
on the way, and took a complacent look into 
the kettles after she had seen that the oven 
continued to be in a proper state of warmth. 
There was enough for her to do to look after 
the dinner. Mary could attend to the com- 
pany ; but, after all, it was good to have com- 
pany, especially some one who seemed to be 
glad to be with them. He had grown to look 



MARY AND MARTHA. 193 

like her own dear, honest-hearted father ix\ 
these latter years ; he could not be a bad man, 
and it seemed a great while since they had seen 
one of their own folks at the table. 

So Martha put her whole heart into making 
her little dinner just as good as it could be. 
She sat down in the front room once or twice 
and tried to talk over old times, but she was 
not very successful ; they were constantly run- 
ning against unpleasant subjects; it seemed 
as if the mistaken household that had been 
divided against itself had no traditions of any- 
thing but warfare. 

But the guest was pathetically glad to come ; 
he could talk to his cousin Mary about the 
pleasure Martha's note had given him. He 
did not say that it was not very affectionate, 
but he told the truth about having often 
wished since he had grown older that they 
could talk over the old times and have a kinder 
feeling toward each other. ^' And I was so 
broken up this year," he added, plaintively. 
" I miss my wife worse and worse. She was 
some years younger than I, and always seemed 
BO pleasant and sprightly — well, if one of you 
girls is left without the other, you 'II know 



194 MARY AND MARTHA. 

someihing about it, that 's all I can say,*' and 
a sudden pang shot through the listener's heart. 
And Mary Dean looked so sorry and so kind 
that she had to listen to a great many things 
about the wife who had died. Cousin John 
Whitefield moved her sympathy more and 
more, and by the time dinner was ready they 
were warm friends. Then there was the din- 
ner, and the two elderly women and their guest 
enjoyed it very much. Miss Martha had put 
on the best table-cloth and the best dishes. 
She had done all she could to make the little 
festival a success, and presently even she was 
filled with the spirit of the day, and did not let 
the least shadow of disapproval show itself in 
her face when Mary said : " Sister, I 'm sure we 
ought to be very thankful to-day for all these 
good things and fot Cousin John's company. 
I don't feel as if we ever should make out to be 
enemies again ; " and the cousin shook his head 
more than once, while something like a jear 
glistened in the eyes that were turned toward 
Mary Dean. They talked of old times ; tiiey 
said to each other that they would let bygones 
be bygones. Some of the sisters' friends had 
been very kind ; one had given them a present 



MARY AND MARTHA. 195 

of cranberries, which Martha liked very much, 
but had denied herself, since they were so dear 
tibat year. 

Cousin John had evidently dressed himself 
with great care, but he looked untended, and 
the sisters' shrewd eyes saw where a stitch or 
two was needed and a button had been lost. 
It seemed more friendly than ever when he 
stood before Martha to have his coat mended ; 
it only took a minute. And her eyes were the 
best, Mary said, proudly. 

" Girls," said the old man, suddenly ; " girls, 
I want to know if, with all your sewing trade, 
you have n't got any sewing-machine ? " And 
the girls looked at each other wistfully, and 
answered No. 

" Now, I know what I '11 do for you," and 
the withered face brightened. ^' I 'm going 
to send you over Maria's. She set everything 
by it ; 't was one her brother gave her — Jo- 
siah, that's so well off in New York. She 
says 't was one of the best ; and there it has 
stood. I 've been thinking I should have to 
sell it. I '11 send it over right away." And 
he looked from one delighted face to the 
other. ^^ You won't refuse, now ? " he asked ; 



196 . MARY AND MARTHA. 

as if there bad been any danger of tbat ! And 
the sisters confessed how puzzled they had 
been about their winter's work ; they had not 
acknowledged so fully even to each other that 
some of their old customers had died, that it 
hardly paid to do hand-sewing, and hardly any- 
body needed tailors' work, somehow ; and they 
were not able to be out in all weather, or to be 
of as much service to their neighbors as they 
used. But they were sure to do well now if 
they h9d a machine. Mr. Torby, at the shop, 
paid excellent prices for the best work. 

Cousin John stayed until the next day, and 
they watched him go down the hill with many 
feelings of gratitude and respect. '' It takes 
two to make a quarrel, but only one to end 
it," said Martha, turning suddenly to Mary. 
They both felt younger than they had for a 
great while, and they pitied their cousin's aged 
looks and slow steps. "'Twas all owing to 
you," she went on, in a tone that was not 
usual with her. "Mary, I believe you've 
chosen the better part, and you 've listened to 
the Lord's words while I've been cumbered 
with much serving.'* But Mary would have 
it that only Martha could have made Cousin 



MARY AND MARTHA. 197 

John so comfortable, and got him the good 
Thanksgiving dinner. 

" The dinner 's the least part of it," said 
Martha, this time in her every-day, short fash- 
ion of speech. " There ! it 's beginning to 
snow. I wish, if there 's a good fall of it, we 
could just put this house on runners and slide 
down hill ! " But she looked very good-na- 
tured, and Mary laughed softly. 

" You say that every year, don't you, Mar- 
tha ? " said she. " Just think how long we Ve 
been wishing for a sewing-machine, and now 
we're really going to have one. I suppose 
you '11 know just how to use it before it has 
been here a day." 



THE NEWS FROM PETERSHAM, 

Mrs. Peak had been to Petersham herself, 
to spend Thanksgiving with her niece, and 
brought the first account of old Mr. Johnson's 
illness. Mrs. Jesse Johnson, his daughter-in- 
law, had come in for a few minutes Thursday 
afternoon, and had said it was the first time 
since she could remember that the old gentle- 
man had not been in his seat in church on 
Thanksgiving Day. And they all felt as if it 
were a great break. 

'^ He would insist upon setting at the ta- 
ble," said Mrs. Jesse, " but he looked too fee- 
ble to be out of his bed. These bad colds take 
hold of a man of his years." 

After the visitor had gone Mrs. Peak and 
her niece Martha talked a good deal about the 
changes in the family which would be sure to 
come when Mr. Johnson died. 

^^I know that Jesse's folks are depending 
upon getting a lift," said Martha. ^^Mis' 



THE NEWS FROM PETERSHAM. 199 

Jesse has hinted as much to me more than 
once, for she says Jesse's got more than he 
can carry in his business, and everything 
would be easy if he only had a little more cap- 
ital. Truth is, I have an idea that he 's teased 
a good share away from his father now, and 
the old gentleman is n't so ready as he used to 
be to further his projects. And there 's Wil- 
liam, his other son, I know it to be a fact that 
he is intending to go out West when his fa- 
ther 's taken away. He has had a notion of it 
for a good while ; his wife's sister's folks are 
all out there and doing well." 

" They '11 be very much missed as a family," 
said Mrs. Peak ; '^ how Petersham has changed 
from what it was when I was a girl ! " 

When she went home the next day she was 
quite downhearted, and told Asa Fales, who 
happened to be at the depot when the t^ain 
came in and offered to carry her home, that 
old Mr. Daniel Johnson was breaking up — 
at least, so his family seemed to think. Asa 
Fales was deeply concerned ; the two villages 
were only a few miles apart, and he had been 
a Petersham boy. It was old Mr. Johnson to 
whom he owed his rise in the world, and he 



200 THE NEWS FROM PETERSHAM. 

remembered that he mi&:ht never have owned 
his flourishing country%tore if it had not 
been for this kind friend's assistance. Be- 
sides, he had been confident of Mr. Johnson's 
support if he should make up his mind to 
buy a large tract of woodland which would 
pay well for being cleared that very next win- 
ter. He was abeady indebted to him, how- 
ever, and it would be a very different thing if 
he were the debtor of the eager heirs. So 
with all this in his mind he questioned Mrs. 
Peak anxiously, and they concluded that Mr. 
Johnson's end was not far distant. 

^^ Of course he made a great effort to get to 
the table on account of its being Thanksgiv- 
ing," said Asa, sorrowfully, ^^ but I 'm afraid 
he '11 give right up now. I 'd ride right over 
to see him to-morrow, but I can't get away. 
It 's right in my busy time ; I 'm buying up a 
great deal of wood this f aU, and some of 'em 
aie bringing it in now on wheels instead of 
waiting for snow." 

^^The snow does keep off late. this year," 
said Mrs. Peak. ^^ Here it 's the first o' De- 
cember, and there 's only been one flurry that 
was hardly more than a hoar-frost." 



THE NEWS FROM PETERSHAM, 201 

They reached the little gray house behind 
the lilac-bushes, where Mrs. Peak lived alone, 
and as she unlocked its side-door and went in, 
it seemed strangely cold and lonely. ^^ I must 
look about for a likely kitten," she said to her- 
self ; ^^ they 're a sight of company, and what 
trouble it gave would be no harm. I declare 
it makes me feel lonesome; all the folks I 
have always been used to knowing are Brdying 
off. I always set a good deal by Daniel 
Johnson." 

Two neighbors looked up the road a little 
later than this from their kitchen windows, 
and seeing a light in Mrs. Peak's kitchen also, 
said to themselves that she might be lonely 
that evening without anybody to speak to, and 
they would step over and hear the news. They 
met at the door, each with a shawl over her 
head and her knitting-work in her hands,— 
and were welcomed most heartily. Mrs. West, 
who was very fond of talking, began at once to 
describe her experiences Thanksgiving mom- 
ing, when she found that the cats had stolen 
into the pantry during the night, and mangled 
the turkey so that it was only fit to be thrown 
away. It was too late to get another, except a 



202 THE NEWS FROM PETERSHAM. 

rack of bones fit only for a lantern, that had 
been left at Fales's store. 

^^I did n't know what in the world I should 
do. There was all the folks coming ; his sis- 
ter and all the child'n, and my brother and 
his wife, and we three at home are middlin' 
hearty — but there; we made out with the 
ohicken-pie and a spare-rib I put right in. It 
so happened I had one that was thawed. An' 
I took those cats and soused 'em well in a tub 
o' water, after I 'd give 'em as good a beating 
as I knew how. And after a while they stole 
in half froze, and set by the stove meek as 
^ Moses with their paws tucked underneath 'em, 
and when I 'd look at 'em they 'd mew at me 
both together 'thout making a soimd. For all 
I was so worked up, I had to laugh." 

They all laughed again at the cats, while 
Mrs. Peak acknowledged that she had just 
been thinking of getting a kitten, but such ac- 
counts as this were discouraging, — and Mrs. 
West promptly offered her own virtuous pus- 
sies, which amused the Utile company very 
much. 

" You have n't told us yet whether you 
heard anything over at Petersham," said Mrs. 



THE NEWS FROM PETERSHAM. 208 

Bogers, the other guest, at which Mrs. Peak's 
face grew long. 

*^ I had a beautiful visit with Martha," she 
answered, "but I 've been feeling anxious to 
hear again from old Mr. Daniel Johnson. 
Jesse's wife came in and said he seemed very 
feeble. He did n't make no effort to get out 
to meetin' Thanksgivin' Day, and Martha said 
she 'd noticed he looked pale and kind o' wiz- 
ened up two or three weeks ago." 

" I suppose the cold weather pinched him," I 
suggested Mrs. West " Well, he 'U be a great ' 
loss." » 

"I heard from him direct this morning," * 
continued Mrs. Peak, mournfully. ^^ I called 
to Jesse's oldest boy as he went by, and he 
said his grand'ther was n't any better. I 
asked if he was abed, and he said, ^No.' He 's 
got a sight o' resolution ; I should n't wonder 
if he did n't take his bed at all." 

" I don't see how they '11 pay their minis- 
ter the salary they give him now, when they 
lose Mr. Johnson," said Mrs. Rogers. " He 's 
always ready to give, and he does what he 
can for his folks. I should n't wonder if he 
had n't but a little property left, after all he 's 



204 THE NEWS FROM PETERSHAM. 

had to do, and being out o' business for some 
years now." 

" He 's kept his money a-movin," observed 
Mrs. West. " There ain't no such business 
man about here, but there's been plenty o' 
hands reached out to take what they could get. 
Well, 't is all over now ; he won't last a great 
while if he 's as feeble as you say. His father 
went just the same way, only kept the house a 
week, and his bed the last day." 

" I should have gone right over to see him 
myself yesterday," said the hostess, ^^but it 
kept raining steady all day, same as it did here, 
I suppose." 

" They '11 be likely to have his funeral from 
the meeting-house, won't they?" asked Mrs. 
Rogers, solemnly; but nobody could answer 
her question. 

Next day being Sunday, and most of the 
congregation coming from the scattered farms, 
there was the usual exchange of greetings and 
inquiries for news. And in this way the sad 
story of Mr. Johnson's last illness was spread 
far and wide before night. And in passing 
from one to another, the report became every 
hour more serious. At last some one ventured 



THE NEWS FROM PETERSHAM, 206 

to say that, judging from what she had just 
heard, the poor man could not now be living. 
And the listener felt justified in announcing 
that Mrs. Smith thought there was no doubt 
that he was dead. 

Late on Sunday night Mrs. West brought 
the news to Mrs. Peak. 

^^ He heard it from some one who stopped at 
Asa Fales's, but there was n't no particulars ; " 
and Mrs. Peak said nobody had any idea Mr. 
Johnson would go so soon. It was a great 
shock to her; as much as if she had not known 
of his illness. 

*^ Death is always sudden at the last/' said 
Mrs. West. " I suppose you will go over to 
the funeral ? — it seems a pity you diould have 
come home Saturday, don't it ? " 

" I shall get ready to go by the first train," 
answered the old lady, crying a little. " I de- 
clare I wish I 'd gone to the house before I 
come away. It ain't that I think of the ex- 
pense of going to Petersham twice, for that 's 
nothing at such a time as this, but I can't feel 
reconciled to not seeing him again. He was 
a most amiable Christian man, — • there won't 
be many dry eyes in Petersham the day he 's 



206 THE NEWS FROM PETERSHAM, 

buried. I Ve known him ever since I Ve 
known anybody." 

So by the earliest train next day Mrs. Peak 
went back to Petersham. Her countenance 
wore a solemn expression. She felt herself to 
be one of the chief mourners, though her place 
in the procession would probably be not far 
from the least afflicted end. As she stepped 
down from the car, she pulled a very long face, 
and was surprised to see no signs of Uie ca- 
lamity which had befallen the village. She 
meditated upon the way the world moves on 
though its best men die, and took her way, 
to save time, through the back streets to her 
niece Martha's. 

" Well, Martha," she said, sadly, " I 'm sure 
I did n't think I should be back again so soon 
when I left you. When do they bury ? " 

^^ Who ? " asked Martha, much amazed. 
She was busy washing, and was not in the 
least prepared for her aunt's appearance. She 
was used to making careful arrangements 
when she expected guests — being, as her 
friends said, very set in her ways — and if 
there was anything she disliked it was a lack 
of ceremony, even from her nearest relatives. 



THE NEWS FROM PETERSHAM, 207 

^^I haven't heard of any death," she as- 
sured her aunt, who was apparently much per- 
plexed. 

^^ Somebody told the Wests last night that 
Mr. Dau'el Johnson had passed away, and 
Mis' West came right out to tell me," Mrs, 
Peak explained at last. 

Martha began to laugh. ^^He was out to 
meeting last night as sure as the world," she 
said. "He's had a bad cold, — you know 
he 's always been subject to fall colds, — but 
he 's about again. I heard Jesse's wife f ussin' 
at him about doin' up his throat when we were 
comin' out o' the meetin'-house last night." 

" She was dreadful down-hearted about him, 
I 'm sure, when she come in Thanksgivmg 
night," ventured Mrs. Peak in self^efense. 

" Now, Aunt Peak," said Martha, " have n't 
you seen enough of Lydia Johnson by this 
time to know that she always thinks every- 
thmg and everybody is going to rack aad 
ruin ? She was cheerful about the old gentle- 
man to what she is sometimes. To be sure 
we all know he 's getting along in years." 

" Seems to me I do reelect she is apt to 
look on the dark side," reflected Mrs. Peak. 



208 THE NEWS FROM PETERSHAM 

^^ But now, Marthy, don't speak to any one of 
what my errand was in coming over. I've 
got a little shopping any way that I forgot 
last week, and folks \nll think we 're dreadful 
hungry for news over our way." 

^^It does look like it," chuckled Martha. 
^'But do stop to dinner, aunt, now you're 
over ; it 's coming winter and you may not get 
started again. 'Tis a pity there ain't some- 
thing else for you to go to. I s'pose you 've 
heard that story about the old ladies that set 
out for a funeral and found they 'd missed the 
day, and asked the folks if they did n't know 
of a funeral they covld go to ? " 

^* Marthy," said her Aunt Peak, ^^ I should 
think you had no feelin's. It was n't my faidt 
as I know of that the story got about. I did 
speak of it to one or two that his son's wife 
appeared concerned, and when word come that 
he was gone I only thought she had good rea- 
son to be anxious ; and he was an old friend, 
and a leader in church interests, and I thought, 
natural enough, I 'd come right over.'' 

*^ Don't take it hard of me, joking with 
you," said Martha, '^ but it is kind of amusing 
when you come to look at it and see how sto- 



THE NEWS FROM PETERSHAM. 209 

ries get made up and set going out of nothing. 
Every one of 'em thinks they tell the truth, 
and first thing you know there 's a lie travel- 
ing about fast as lightning," and she turned to 
her neglected washing, as if no time must be 
lost. 

" I can't get back before two. I 'm sorry I 
happened to trouble you on an inconvenient 
day, I'm sure," said Mrs. Peak, humbly. 
^^ I '11 step down the street for a while and do 
a few errands, and you must n't let me put you 
out. Just a cup of tea and a taste of bread 
and butter '11 be all I ask for," and Martha 
nodded and told her aunt not to worry, and to 
have as good a time as she could. 

The old lady's pride had met with a sad 
downfall — she did not know how to face the 
people at home. But luckily she was saved 
the first acknowledgment, as Asa Fales had 
reached Petersham before her and had found 
Mr. Daniel Johnson briskly at work by the 
garden trellis covering his grape-vines. 

He had prudently avoided any reference to 
the next world, and, indeed, had learned the 
falseness of the story from a Petersham man 
whom he had met on the road. So he entered 



210 THE NEWS FROM PETERSHAM. 

at once upon the project of buying the pine 
woods between Gaytown and Hollis, and found 
to bis great satisfaction that his old friend 
would be glad to join him if the affair could 
be well arranged. 

Mrs. Peak herself met Mr. Johnson, and 
could hardly look him in the face when she 
asked for his health. And when the neigh- 
bors came in one after another that evening 
after she was again comfortably established at 
home, she said, " You may laugh at me all 
you have a mind to, but I don't mean to 
need another lesson like this. I think it 's a 
good deal better to mind what we 've got to do 
instead of livin' on what folks have got to say ; 
but it 's hard to teach an old dog new tricks, 
and I suppose I shall always like to hear what 
news there is a-goin'." 



V 



THE TWO BEOWNS. 

I. 

Brown left his chair by the fire somewhat 
impatiently, and dropped his newspaper on the 
rug; he crossed the dining-room to the bay- 
window, and stood with his back to his wife, 
looking out at the weather. Women were such 
persiTEent geese ! He had a vague idea that 
she might take some notice of the disagreeable 
sleet and wind, and relent a little about hint- 
ing that he had better be at his office. She 
had already asked him to renew her subscrip- 
tion to the church newspaper (he would have 
to leave the stage and walk a block and a 
half), and had said that he must look in at her 
brother Bob's counting-room some time during 
the day to ask for his wife's health. She had 
furthermore given him two letters to post, and 
had reminded him three times that he must not 
forget them. 



212 THE TWO BROWNS. 

" I believe that I will not go to the office 
to-day," Brown announced presently, with con- 
siderable dignity and even sternness, as if he 
would not brook the idea of being contradicted 
in any shape. His wife said nothing to this, 
which was a great disappointment ; and after 
growing more and more disturbed for a minute 
or two he turned and offered his explanations. 
Mrs. Brown was devoting herself to the baby, 
while the nursery-maid was busy up-stairs in 
the baby's luxurious quarters. Brown was 
usually neither too proud nor too much occu- 
pied to devote himself to his daughter, also, 
but now he walked stiffly back to the big 
chair by the fire, and took no notice of the 
little hands that were put out to him. The 
baby's mother flushed suddenly with some- 
thing like anger, very unusual in her gentle 
face. 

^^ It is such an abominable day," said Brown. 
" I don't feel very energetic. There won't be a 
soul inside the office door, unless it 's a book 
agent. I am going to make myself comfort- 
able at home, and see something of you and — 
yes, you little pink ! " 

He had come so near to neglecting the baby 



THE TWO BROWNS. 218 

that his better nature could submit no longer, 
and he caught the smiling child, and went 
prancing round the breakfast table until she 
shrieked* with delight, and family harmony 
was restored. Mrs. Brown smiled, too, — they 
were a happy household ; but she looked seri- 
ous again directly, and returned to the charge. 

" Ben, dear," she said, " I don't like to have 
you neglect your profession." 

Brown stopped his capering, and the cups 
and plates gave a final jingle. "When you 
know perfectly well how it neglects me ! " he 
responded solemnly, with a twinkling eye. 

Even in the presence of the baby Mrs. Brown 
did not like to have such confessions made, and 
she looked up reproachfully. She kept up with 
great care the fiction of her husband's having 
already a fair law practice for a young man of 
his age, and a very promising outlook. Brown 
had no imagination ; he made no complaint ; 
he knew plenty of fellows in the same box, 
and was not going to shoulder the whole shame 
of paying rent for a clientless office. He had 
begun to get tired of spending his days there 
altogether, even with the resource of taking 
all the time he liked for an elaborate and social 



214 THE TWO BROWNS. 

luneheon. His wife had been growing a trifle 
anxious lately because it was so difficult to 
tempt his appetite at dinner-time, and Gales, 
the wit of the luncheon club, had said in his 
affected little drawling voice only the day be- 
fore, ^^ Shall have to cut this sort of thing, 
you know ; getting too stout, and always hated 
eating my dinner in the middle of the day. 
Could do it with one client, but to-morrow I 'm 
expecting another." Brown suddenly remem- 
bered this, and smiled, because he had a quick, 
amusing fear lest the bad weather might keep 
Gales's client at home. Then he gave a sigh, 
and gently deposited the baby in her mother's 
lap. " I will go, you hard-hearted monsters," 
he said, kissing them both, *' but why I ever 
let myself be coaxed into studying law is the 
puzzle of my life. If I had something to do 
I would work like a beaver. I 've got^ it in 
me, fast enough, but I hate this make-believe 
business. So would you." 

" I do feel sorry about it ; you know I do," 
answered Lucy, with great tenderness and sym- 
pathy. " I should be perfectly unhappy. But 
you have your studies, Ben, dear." 

" I begin to hate those old yellow books," 



THE TWO BROWNS. 215 

said Ben. ^^Now, if my father had let me 
study engineering, as I wished, I should have 
been in the middle of things by this time." 

" You never would have broken the chain ? " 
asked Lucy, with unfeigned anxiety roused 
by such treason. She had been so proud of 
Brown's being the fourth lawyer of his line 
and of his precocious scholarship. He was 
only twenty-eight years and two months old at 
that moment, beside, and it was much too soon 
to lose all hope about his future. 

Brown went manfully out into the sleet a 
few minutes later, and his wife and the baby 
watehed him from flxe window. He was a 
handsome, good-natured young man, and it was 
impossible not to be proud of him, or to feel 
sorry at his temporary discomfort as he slipped 
and plodded along the incumbered sidewalk. 
When he had paused for a moment at the 
comer to throw a last kiss to the baby and 
wave his hand, old Mr. Grandison, who stood 
at his own window opposite, nodded his head 
in sage approval. " Good fellow," he grum- 
bled, with his cHn plunged deep in his old- 
fashioned black silk stock. ^^ Comes of a good 
family, and is sharp after his business." The 



216 THE TWO BROWNS. 

damp air blew in at the window, and the spec 
tator of Brown's departure was obliged to 
turn away and seek his fireside again. He 
would have been perfectly thankful to change 
places with the young man, and go down town 
to do a stiff day's work, as he used twenty 
years ago. 

Lucy Brown had turned aside from her 
window, aJso, and begun an eager morning's 
work. She had been dreadfully afraid that 
Ben would insist upon staying at home, and 
she felt hard-hearted in very truth. But when 
she had waked up that morning to find it 
snowing, she had resolved to have the books 
in the library thoroughly cleaned. Nobody 
would come in, and she would muster the 
household force, and of course attend to Ben's 
private desk and papers herself. She was still 
excited by her narrow escape from complete 
disappointment, but she hoped she had not 
seemed anything but kind and affectionate in 
urging her husband that day of aU others to 
go to his office. 

Mr. John Benedict Brown had an uneventful 
journey to his place of business. He liked the 



THE TWO BROWNS. 217 

bad weather, on the whole, — he had so few 
things ordinarily to match his youthful energy 
against, — and he met two or three companions 
in misery, if one had any right to call these 
briefless barristers by such a hard name. Each 
carried his green bag, but Brown's friend Gales 
unconsciously held his in such a way that the 
shape of a box of cigars was displayed un- 
mistakably as its only contents. Grales's office 
was farther down the street, and Brown re- 
membered his promise about the subscription 
just in time not to pass the office of the paper. 
He would have sent a note to the publisher, 
to do his errand, but Lucy was very strenuous 
upon his settling the matter in person. She 
had paid for a year in advance, and the bill 
had been rendered again. She was most de- 
pendent upon this particular publication, and 
seemed absurdly anxious to stand well in the 
publisher's estimation. There was only one 
other man in the office beside the clerk, when 
Brown entered. This other man stood with 
his back to the door, looking over a file of 
newspapers, and until the small matter was set- 
tled, in a general and impersonal fashion that 
would have wounded Mrs. Brown, he gave no 
sign of consciousness of Brown's presence. 



218 THE TWO BROWNS. 

Then he laid down the newspapers and ap- 
proached our friend. ^^ Snooks, old boy, how 
are you ? " he inquired affectionately, and a 
little timidly, too, as if not quite certain of his 
reception. 

The very name of Snooks was sufficient ; it 
had been Brown's nickname at the school 
where he had fitted for college. Anybody who 
called him Snooks had a right to favor after 
the space of at least a dozen years since those 
happy days when he had heard it often. This 
schoolmate had not followed the class to college, 
but he had been a good crony in his day, and a 
lad of some cleverness and an erratic habit of 
mind. Only a few days before. Gales, who had 
also been at the school, had asked our hero what 
had become of Checkley. Old Shekels they 
used to call him, for the inconsequent reason 
that he never had two cents in his pocket. He 
was kept at his studies by some kind and char- 
itable Mend, who forgot to an aggravating 
extent to supply the minor comforts of life. 
Checkley had developed an amazing gift for 
maintaining himself by an ingenious system of 
barter, like those savages who have not got so 
far in civilization as any sort of exchequer or 
strictly financial arrangements. 



THE TWO BROWNS. 219 

' The old brotherliness of the past quickly 
filled Brown's heart. Checkley looked hirngry, 
as usual, but he would take him to the office 
and make him a welcome companion that dull 
morning, and by and by they would have a 
bit of luncheon together. After all, the day 
promised weU; he had feared a very special 
lack of entertainment. 

" Come round to my office," said Brown, 
warmly. *'I've nothing in the world to do 
this morning. Tell me what you have been 
about all this time. I '11 send for Gales pres- 
ently ; he was asking for you a day or two ago. 
We 're both in the law ; lots of time to call 
our own, too," he added, with a cheerful hon- 
esty which his wife would have inwardly la- 
mented and tried to explain. 

Checkley was out that day protected by a 
melancholy fall overcoat and no mnbrella, but 
he took Brown's umbrella, and carried it over 
both their heads with careful impartiality, as 
if it were his own. He looked as if he were 
growing old, which seemed premature in a 
man of thirty. Brown could not help a sus- 
picion that Checkley had made himself up for 
some secret purpose. He always used to say 



220 THE TWO BROWNS. 

that he meant to be a detective, and had been 
considered immensely clever in some boyish 
plays and pantomimes. However, another 
stolen glance made Brown feel certain that this 
appearance was Checkley as Himself, An Un- 
successful ^an, and that the gray hairs which 
sprinkled his thin, straight, brownish hair were 
quite genuine. The thinness and lankness of 
his boyhood had never fulfilled their promise 
of a robust frame, but appeared to have suf- 
fered from exposure and neglect, like,, an un- 
finished building which has had time to let its 
timbers get rain-blackened and look poor. 

But the same spirit and shrewd determina- 
tion twinkled from Checkley^s eyes, and he 
kept step manfully with his well-clothed and 
well-fed acquaintance. This was a most for- 
tunate meeting. Nothing had ever played 
better into his hands. Snooks Brown was al- 
ways a good fellow, and luck was sure to turn. 

*' You are n't in the ' Parishioner's War-Cry ' 
office as a permanent thing, I imagine ? " asked 
Brown, with friendly desire to keep up the con- 
versation, just as they stepped into the eleva- 
tor. " Odd that we should have happened to 
find each other there. I never was inside that 
^place^ b^fQre." 



THE TWO BROWNS. 221 

« « No," said Checkley. " Truth is, it looked 
quiet and secluded, and I put into harbor there 
to dry off a little and get my wits together. 
Temporary asylum. I was paying that clerk 
the compliment of looking over his newspa- 
pers, but I think he was just begimfing to sus- 
pect that I held them upside down. I had a 
kind of revenge on him when you came in. It 
looked as if we had an appointment, you know, 
and you were always so thundering respecta- 
ble." 

Brown laughed with unaffected pleasure. 
He was not so far from boyhood as a stranger 
might imagine. There was something delight- 
ful about Checkley's turning up that wet Feb- 
ruary morning, and teUing the most mortify- 
ing facts about himself with honest sincerity. 
He took the wet, thin overcoat and put it away 
with his own, and would have insisted upon his 
guest's occupying the best chair in the office, if 
he had not promptly taken it without any in- 
vitation. There was an open wood fire, and 
Checkley stretched out a pair of very shabby 
shoes to dry with an air of comfort and satis- 
faction. He was a schemer, a dreamer, a curi- 
ous plotter of insignificant things, but he never 



222 THE TWO BROWNS. 

had been a toady or a beggar, and there was i^ 
golden thread of good humor and unselfishness 
through his unprofitable character. 

Brown had taken up a not very ponderous 
mail that la^ on his desk, — two or three bills, 
as manyffllnilars, and an invitation to make 
further subscription to the Art Club. He 
gravely looked these over, and put them in an 
orderly heap at the further edge of the blotter. 
Old Shekels's shoes were beginning to steam at 
the toes, and his host noticed that they looked 
about the size of his own shoes. At any rate, 
there was an extra pair of arctics in the office 
closet that could be offered before they went 
out to luncheon. Brown felt a glow of kind- 
heartedness spread itself over him, as he re- 
solved to dress Checkley in comfortable fash- 
ion before they parted again. ^' You look just 
as you did when we used to stay up after hours, 
and sit before the fire and tell stories," he said, 
jovially, to his guest. " I dare say you could 
spin as good a midnight yam as ever." 

** You rich fellows see the world from a dif- 
ferent angle," responded Checkley, who grew 
more luxurious every moment. ** Now it really 
makes no difference how long you have to wait 



THE TWO BROWNS. 223 

for practice ; it 's sure to come, if only when 
you begin to settle up the family estates, 
there are half a dozen good round ones ; and 
they never would like to choose any one else, 
aU those good old aunties of yours. If you 
had been out of school when your father died, 
you would have gone on with at least a third 
of his business, and that was enough for you 
to handle. It is only a question of time, and 
you 're rich any way. I don't like to see all 
your first-rate abilities rusting out, neverthe- 
less. I always said there was more good stuff 
in you tlian in any of the fellows, — more hold 
on and push too, if you had anything to push, 
and got your energy well roused. I should 
just like to see you in a Western railroad of- 
fice, making things spin. Now a poor dog like 
me, thrown out neck and heels into the water 
to get to land as best I can by myself, — why, 
it 's a good thing to meet a floating plank to 
rest a paw on now and then ; " and he turned 
to look Brown full in the eyes with a plaintive, 
doglike appeal, as if he unconsciously identi- 
fied himself with his figure of speech. 

" What have you been doing, old boy ? 
Can't I lend you a hand, somehow ? " asked 



224 THE TWO BROWNS, 

the sympathetic host. He began to feel that 
the minus Shekels was driving at something 
definite, and he did not believe that he should 
make a fool of himself ; but this was the first 
time that one of his boyhood friends had turned 
up looking as if the world had used him badly. 
There ought to be something done about it. 

^^ Look here," said Checkley, with an air of 
secrecy; and he held out a sheaf of papers, 
which were produced from his breast-pocket 
as if the hand well knew its way to them. ^'I 
dare say," the owner remarked proudly, ^^ that 
you wouldn't believe that there is an enor- 
mous fortune in that small space ? " 

Brown tried to look interested, but his 
doubtfulness showed through. 

^^ It is the surest thing alive," continued 
Checkley. ^^ Have you got ten thousand dol- 
lars you could put your hand on ? " 

The listener nodded slowly; to tell the 
truth, he had a little more than that lying idle 
in the bank, because he really did not know 
how to reinvest it. The bulk of his property 
was in the hands of trustees to whom his 
father had consigned it, but this was some 
money that had been left him by an old rela- 



THE TWO BROWNS. 226 

tive, long ago, in his own right. He had a 
vague idea of putting it into a country-place, 
some day or other. He had a sentiment 
about keeping it by itself, and he wanted a 
nice old-fashioned farm by and by. For the 
present he and his wife spent their summers 
with Lucy's mother, who would else have been 
alone in her gi*eat house at Newport. He 
could say neither yes nor no to such a ques- 
tion, or rather such a questioner, as this ; yet 
a curiosity took possession of him to hear 
more, and Checkley saw his advantage. 

"Now, my boy," he said, pulling his big 
chair close to Brown's side at the desk, " I 
helped work this out, and I twisted things 
round so that I have the right in my own 
hands. I simply have n't a cent, and I don't 
know where I can get it, unless you give it to 
me, to carry out the thing one step more. I 
need capital," he ended persuasively, and gave 
another doglike look at Brown. 

The situation was growing commonplace. 
Brown felt for the first time a little bored, 
and began to wonder how he should get out 
of it. He also noticed that Old Shekels had 
singed those confounded old shoes of his. It 



226 THE TWO BROWNS. 

was becoming doubtful if the arctic overshoes 
and the luncheon even would be considered 
a handsome conclusion to their renewed ac- 
quaintance. 

^'Now look here," said Shekels, with a 
cheerful smile. ^' You are thinking how you 
can ever get rid of me, and that you have 
heard this sort of story before. I 'U tell you 
the rest of it in fifteen minutes, and then you 
can say that your business claims your time, 
and I '11 disappear like the juggler's rabbit in 
the hat." 

^' In the shoes," Brown mentally corrected 
him, and tried to look resigned, and even 
pleased; but he played impatiently witti his 
paper-knife. He felt provokingly young and 
helpless in Checkley's hands. 

Brown's legal ancestry and the traditions of 
his education had not prevented the love of 
his profession from being largely an acquired 
taste. He was equal to being a good lawyer 
by and by, but his head was naturally fitted 
for affairs ; and if there was one thing that he 
understood more easily than another, it was 
mechanical intricacies. Checkley did not use 
his whole fifteen minutes in making sure of 
this ally. 



THE TWO BROWNS, 227 

^* I do see it. Do you take me for a blind 
man ? " exclaimed the listener, springing to his 
feet, and marching across to the window, where 
he stood with his back to Checkley, just as he 
had looked out at the storm once before that 
day. ^'It is a great temptation, but I can't 
throw up my law prospects. My career is cut 
out for me already. But I 'U give you a lift. 
Old Shekels, — hang me if I don't ! " 

Checkley grew calm as his friend became 
excited. " Nonsense," said he. " I don't want 
much of your time ; it 's your money I 'm after. 
You can keep your law business going, — all 
the better for you. We are likely to have 
suits, but nobody can touch us. I don't ask 
you to decide now. Think it over, and think 
me over. I 've no security to give you but my 
plan itself." 

" Do you smoke ? " inquired Brown, amica- 
bly, and Checkley answered that he did. 

As the story of this day cannot be suffered 
to grow any longer, the reader must be content 
to know that these former schoolmates passed 
a most agreeable morning, that they had a cap- 
ital luncheon together, — early, lest Checkley 
might not have breakfasted well, — and that 



228 THE TWO BROWNS, 

Checkley accepted the overshoes and all other 
favors with generous lack of protest or false 
shame. 

II. 

A year from the time when he met his old 
playfellow, Brown was inclined to repent his 
whole indulgence in affectionate civilities to a 
roving schemer. He assured himself that it 
had been an expensive lesson, but one that he 
probably needed. A year later Brown was 
triumphant, and began to flatter himself that 
he knew a man and likewise a promising en- 
terprise when he saw them. He was doing 
very well in his law business. The family rep- 
utation for clearness of legal vision and sue- 
cessful pleading was gaming new laurels, and 
young J. Benedict Brown was everywhere 
spoken of as the most promising man of his 
age at the New York bar. Detractors hinted 
that there were dozens of brighter men, but 
that nobody could help picking up some 
crumbs of business with such a father and 
grandfathers behind him. IVIrs. Brown led 
the company of her husband's admirers, and 
already indulged in dreams of his appearance 



THE TWO BROWNS. 229 

in the gloomy but noble garb of a chief jus- 
tice. He was very busy in these days ; long 
ago he had been obliged to take his breakfast 
at eight o'clock instead of half-past nine, and 
he was rarely at home until after six o'clock at 
night, while it was not uncommon that their 
seven o'clock dinner was considerably delayed. 
Lucy watched him with increasing anxiety, for 
fear that he would break himself down with 
overwork, but he never had seemed in such 
good health and spirits. The year before he 
had been so gloomy and despondent for a few 
weeks that she was always fearing a return, 
but at present there was no sign of any. To 
outward view the Benedict Browns were the 
most prosperous young people in the city. 
Fortune, position, everything that the social 
heart desired, seemed to be heaped upon them. 
A few croaking voices had begun to figure 
Brown's probable expenses, and to insinuate 
that he must be living a good way beyond his 
income. Brown did not look like a debtor, 
however; he had an older and more deter- 
mined appearance, as if he had weighty afiEairs 
on his mind and a high principle of conduct in 
regard to them. 



230 THE TWO BROWNS. 

One morning early in March the hero of 
this tale hurried away from his breakfast ta- 
ble, with a quick kiss on the top of his three- 
year-old daughter's curly warm little head. 
They had been breakfasting alone together in 
a delightfully social way, and before Brown 
put on his overcoat he ran up-stairs, two steps 
at a time, to give another kiss to his wife and 
a young son some three weeks of age. Mrs. 
Brown already spoke of the unconscious mor- 
sel of humanity with proud respect as Bene- 
dict, but Brown himself was provokingly fond 
of calling him Johnny. He appeared to have 
a secret satisfaction and deep sense of pride 
and amusement in denying his son the family 
name. Who knew whether this might not be 
the most illustrious of all the five Benedict 
Browns ? At present he was a very impor- 
tant and welcome person indeed in his own 
family. 

^' I am in an uncommon hurry this morn- 
ing," said the father, turning back for one 
word more as he went out. " I have a busi- 
ness meeting to go to at nine." 

Lucy was one of those delightful women 
who rarely demand particular explanations 



THE TWO BROWNS. 231 

and are contented with general assurances, 
and she kindly advised Brown not to get too 
tired, and to be sure to come home by half- 
past five if he could ; she missed him so much 
more now that she was not busy herself and 
had to spend the whole day up-stairs. She 
had a vague desire to know about her hus- 
band's business, — it seemed to interest him 
so much ; but she did not like to expose her 
total ignorance of affairs, and had a theory, 
besides, that it was better for Ben to shake off 
his cares when he was at home. 

As Ben went down-stairs again, he was at- 
tacked by a sense of guilt more uncomfortable 
than usual, and said to himself that he must 
really teU Lucy all about the Planter Com- 
pany. There was no fear of any catastrophe, 
it was far beyond the realm of experiments, 
and she was sure to hear of it from somebody 
else, and to feel hurt at his silence. The won- 
der was that he had hidden his head in the 
sand of his first name so long. 

The ofGice of J. Benedict Brown, counselor 
at law, was unvisited, except by its faithful 
derk and copyist, until some three hours later 



282 THE TWO BROWNS, 

in the day. When the yonng lawyer reached 
a certain point on Broadway, he turned 
quickly to the right and went down a side 
street, as if he were well accustomed to such a 
course, and knew the shortest cut toward a 
dingy brick building which bore a clamorous 
sort of sign, '* The Farmer's Bight - Hand 
Man: The Electric Automatic Potato Planter. 
Brown & Checkley, Manufacturers." The 
doorway was blockaded with large packing- 
cases, and, early as it still was for the busi- 
ness world, there were several men in the 
counting-room, toward which Brown went at 
once. The workmen near by gave our friend 
a cheerful morning greeting, and Mr. Check- 
ley, who sat behind his desk, rose soberly, and 
presented the new-comer to the counting-room 
audience as '' Our head of the firm, gentlemen, 
Mr. John B. Brown ; and now we will proceed 
to business at once." Brown established him- 
self at another desk, well stocked with papers, 
and began to hunt for something in a lower 
drawer, the key of which he had taken from 
his own pocket. This was evidently not an 
occasional thing, this business interview; he 
took on, even to the most indifferent observer's 
eye, an air of relationship to the place. 



THE TWO BROWNS. 238 

*• The only thing that seems to be imperative 
this morning, Mr. Brown," said Checkley, plac- 
idly, in a voice directed to the other listeners, 
" is a decision on our part in regard to the in- 
crease of our circular, almanac, and agent de- 
partments. We came to no conclusion yester- 
day. You have the figures before you on that 
sheet of blue paper. I think the least increase 
that we can manage is to quadruple the num- 
ber of circulars and almanacs over that of last 
year." 

Checkley was in the habit of trying to give 
casual strangers as large an idea as possible 
of the magnitude of the Planter Company's 
business, so Brown listened respectfully, and 
waited for further information. 

" These gentlemen," continued Mr. Check- 
ley, " are ready with an offer to make an ex- 
tensive additional contract for the wood-work 
of the machines, and we will listen to them. 
In our liability to meet extraordinary orders 
at short notice, we are of course obliged to 
defend ourselves against any possible inability 
of theirs to furnish supplies. We find that 
the business grows with such rapidity that it 
is most difficult to make provision against sur- 



284 THE TWO BROWNS. 

prise. You can easily understand " (address- 
ing the small audience) ^' that an article like 
ours is invaluable to every man who cultivates 
over three acres of land. Indispensable, I 
11^7 ^7) since it saves the hiring of labor, 
saves time, and saves strength. Such an ar- 
ticle is one no farmer will be without when he 
once sees it work.'' 

Checkley was unusually fluent of speech this 
morning, and the interview went on prosper- 
ously. Somehow, the familiar place and fa- 
miliar arguments struck Brown with a fresh 
vividness and air of realiiy. His thoughts 
wandered away to his law business for a few 
minutes, and then he found himself sgain lis- 
tening to another account of the electric auto- 
matic potato planter which Checkley was giv- 
ing to a new-comer, a Western man, who was 
evidently a large dealer in agricultural sup- 
plies. There was a row of clerks behind a 
screen, and their pens were scratching dili- 
gently. Brown could see the high stacks of 
almanacs through the dusty glass walls that 
fenced the counting-room, — bright red al- 
manacs, which combined a good selection of 
family reading with meteorological statistics 



THE TWO BROWNS, 235 

and the praises of the potato planter judi« 
ciously arranged on every page. It looked as 
if there were almanacs enough already for 
every man, woman, and child in America, but 
Checkley knew what he was about. Brown 
had thought that almanacs were a step too 
low ; he was conscious of a shameful wish now 
and then that he had embarked on any sort 
of business rather than a patent potato planter. 
The pride of the J. Benedict Browns, judges 
and famous pleaders at the bar, had revolted 
more than once in the beginning against such a 
sordid enterprise. But as for John B. Brown, 
this enterprising manufacturer and distributer 
of an article that no farmer could do with- 
out, he felt an increasing pride in his success. 
He had merely made use of a little capital 
that was lying idle, and his own superfluous 
and unemployed energy. He believed that 
his legal affairs had been helped rather than 
hindered by this side issue of his, and he and 
Checkley had fought some amazing fights with 
the world in the course of their short but suc- 
cessful alliance. Brown lazily opened a di- 
rectory near at hand, and looked among the 
B's, It was a new copy, and he nearly laughed 



286 THE TWO BROWNS. 

aloud at the discovery that he figured twice 
on the page : Brown, J. Benedict lawyer, 
Broadway ; h. 88th St., and Brown, John B., 
B. & Checkley machinists, 9th Ave ; h. Jersey 
City. Here was a general masquerade ! Check- 
ley lived in Jersey City, and one of the clerks 
must have given wrong information, or else 
the directory agent had confused what was 
told him. Nobody knew where he lived, very 
likely. They called him The Boss, in the es- 
tablishment, because he dressed well and had 
a less brotherly and companionable manner 
than Checkley. It was surprising, the way a 
man could hide himself in such a huge city as 
this. Yes, he must certainly tell Lucy that 
very night. They would have a capital laugh 
over it, and he could tease her about making 
Johnny a partner instead of the fifth at the 
bar. Lucy was very fond of a joke, and she 
had no idea how rich they were going to be if 
affairs went on at this pace. Brown had felt 
very dishonest for a long time whenever he 
saw their advertisements in the papers, and 
had been nearly ready to confess and be for- 
given once the summer before, when he and 
Lucy took a little journey together up the Con- 



THE TWO BROWNS. 287 

necticut River, and Lucy had writhed in con- 
temptuous agony over Checkley's desecration 
of natural scenery. "Use Brown & Check- 
ley's Electric Automatic Potato Planter, and 
Save Ten Years of Life," was displayed on 
rocks and fences everywhere. Checkley him- 
self had used his short summer holiday in 
leading a gang of letterers into the rural dis- 
tricts, and this was the result. Could a man 
of ordinary courage confess at such a moment 
that the name of Brown was in reality her 
own property, and that she was unconsciously 
responsible for such vandalism ? 

Checkley was rushing things this morning ; 
he eagerly assured his guest that they had 
made the planter pay her own bills after the 
first six months, and had advertised only as 
fast as they gained the means. It was the 
first application of electricity to farming. 
" Brown and I had little capital to start with, 
but we knew we had hold of a sure thing. I 
am not sure that there is anything that cor- 
responds to it in the world of inventions," 
Checkley continued proudly. "I have been 
an inventor all my life. Here you have a 
light-wheeled vehicle that one horse can drag 



288 THE TWO BROWNS. 

all day and an intelligent child can controL 
You only need to plow and harrow and ma- 
nure your ground : then the planter is driven 
to and fro ; it stops itself at proper distances, 
a revolving harrow loosens the ground within 
a space twelve inches in diameter, this har- 
row is drawn up, the shovel throws the earth 
out at one side, the hopper lets fall sufficient 
seed, a second shovel arrangement covers it in, 
and a weight falls twice and banks it down, 
the horse steps on between the furrows. My 
dear sir, in the time I have consumed in tell- 
ing you, four hills of potatoes are planted as 
well as if you had done each one separately 
with your own hoe ; the average time is only 
three fifths of a minute. A horse soon learns 
the trick, for the brake is self-acting and stops 
him in the proper place. The only thing that 
troubled us in the beginning was the complaint 
of patrons that the horses gave trouble, and 
the hills went zigzagging all over the field. 
This new improvement makes a field as reg- 
ular as a checker-board. With the brake that 
stops the planter instantly, the horse learns to 
anticipate, and makes his four steps forward 
and stops of his own accord. It is less fatigu- 



THE TWO BROWNS. 289 

ing for the horse than a plow or harrow, and a 
treadmill is barbarous beside it. Then think 
of the heat of planting time and the waste of 
human energy 1 We are now perfecting a re- 
hoer and digger, but our present enterprise is 
more than we can handle with ease. You have, 
no doubt, read our testimonials. Hear this : a 
ten-acre field planted in half a day, with some 
help from a neighbor, — read for yourself, sir I 
" You need to be very careful of the gauges 
and setting your brakes properly," Checkley 
confided honestly. "Electricity is a terrible 
force ; there has been one bad accident through 
such carelessness. The shovel arrangement 
was not set as it should be, and the machine 
went on digging straight down, and would 
have carried the horse with it, if the harness 
had n't been so old that he freed himself, and 
scrambled out of the pit. My dear sir, this 
will show you the power of that machine ; it 
went down forty feet, right through gravel, 
rotten rock, and everything, until it struck a 
solid ledge, and that stopped it at last. The 
whole neighborhood collected, and they got 
alarmed, — thought she might be boring for 
a volcano or something ; and they rolled a big 



240 THE TWO BROWNS. 

bowlder out of a pasture near by, and let it 
drop right down on the planter ; but that only 
damag^ the wood-work and partly disabled 
the running-work, for she kept tossing up 
splinters for a day or two. The man had n't 
a word to say, for it was a springy field, and 
the planter had struck water somewhere and 
made him a first-rate welL He had been in- 
tending to dig one thereabouts for a good 
while." 

" I want to know ! " exclaimed the wide- 
eyed listener. Brown heard this flow of Check- 
ley's eloquence, and was amused at the re- 
sponse. It seemed that the listener, a worthy, 
well-to-do Connecticut farmer, had an idea of 
introducing the automatic potato planter to 
his neighborhood, and was trying to obtain one 
on trial at reduced price, with a promise of 
wide influence in its behalf and cordial recom- 
mendation. Checkley believed in favoring the 
farmers, and the affair was presently con- 
cluded. Brown was amazed to hear his com- 
panion say that he. Brown, had beeu thinking 
that he should like to pay a visit to that neigh- 
borhood at county-fair time, and speak to the 
folks on agricultural topics. Checkley liked 



THE TWO BROWNS. 241 

his jokes, and Brown smiled, but he turned a 
little cold, and wondered if they were not 
going a trifle too fast. There might not be 
enough of him for two Browns, at this rate I 
But it was something to find himself a busy, 
prosperous man instead of an idle, overgrown 
boy, and among the new firms of its class 
none stood better than Brown & Checkley. 

There was little time left for serious busi- 
ness conference, but Checkley had great ex- 
ecutive ability, and so had Mr. John B. Brown 
of Jersey City, for that matter. Checkley 
was thin yet and not very well dressed, but he 
had a buoyant, confident air. ^^ How well he 
knows human nature, and what a good fel- 
low he is I " thought Brown as they parted. 
^^ Snooks is more of a man than the dandy I 
met in that newspaper office," reflected Check- 
ley. " I never have lost a cent for him, either, 
but hang me if we have n't had some narrow 
escapes. I got him in pretty deep once, when 
he had the worst doubts of me he ever had. 
Snooks looked solemn, but he never flung at 
me, or did anything but shoulder half the 
blame and the worry, like a man." 

In the neighborhood of the company's office 



242 THE TWO BROWNS. 

Brown met several business acquaintances, who 
gave him a friendly good-morning. He had 
gathered a whole new circle of associates, in 
his character of senior partner of Brown & 
Checldey. He had indulged in bad lunches 
with these friends, and already figured largely 
in the agricultural-implement world ; he would 
have been deeply gratified if he had heard 
somebody say, as he went by, " That 's Brown, 
of the Planter Company. Those fellows are 
sweeping everyfliing before tiiem tiiis spring. 
They 've got hold of as big a thing as the Mc- 
Cormick reaper." 

It was ten or fifteen minutes* walk between 
the two offices, and when J. Benedict Brown, 
Esq., seated himself at his desk he* was still 
thinking about his other business, which he 
usually insisted upon putting out of his mind. 
He never had looked at it so entirely from the 
outside. He was at heart a most conservative 
person. He was more fettered than he knew 
by his family pride and traditions, and he had 
become persuaded of his ability to follow the 
law in a way that he never used to expect. 
He felt it in him to make his influence rec- 
ognized at the bar, and to handle heavy pieces 



THE TWO BROWNS, 243 

of business. Now that Checkley was so well 
established he could slip out, and hold only a 
silent partnership, if he pleased. Yet an op- 
posing judgment in his own mind at the mo- 
ment prevented Hm from cordially axjcepting 
such an idea. There were some things, and 
he knew it, that Checkley could not have 
planned nor have carried without him, and the 
concern might easily fall to pieces even now. 
There was his own boy, however, who must 
inherit as fair a name from him as he had 
from his father. There had never yet been a 
dishonored man of his name. Checkley had 
counted upon the value of the family repu- 
tation at first; he insisted that they were 
throwing away a great advantage by not add- 
ing the prefix of J. Benedict to the plain 
Brown & Checkley. J. Benedict Brown was a 
name of historical renown. Checkley did not 
begin to understand yet that John B. Brown 
was as utterly unknown to the friends of the 
J. Benedict Browns as if he and his potato 
planter had never existed. He simply knew 
that Snooks was old-maidishly easier to keep 
his two occupations apart, and thft only f ro^ 
half-past eight to ten and from three o'clock 



244 THE TWO BROWNS, 

until dinner-time he was the steady shaft-horse 
of Brown & Checkley. 

Brown sat in the Broadway office, busy at 
his work, having finished his reflections with- 
out coming to any new decisions. He was 
working up a law case that he took great 
pride in. All his inherited cleverness and a 
new love for such a puzzle delighted him ; he 
never had felt a keener sense of his own power, 
and the planter was utterly forgotten. 

Some one entered the office, and gave a 
chair one aggressive pull across the polished 
wood floor. It sounded as if the caster had left 
a damaging scratch, and Brown looked round 
with not a little annoyance. He felt a strange 
suspicion that one of his Planter Company as- 
sociates had at last hunted him down. There 
was an inner room for purposes of private con- 
sultation, and Brown signified, after a proper 
interval, that the stranger might go there. It 
was a darkish place, where he had once tried 
to have his own desk ; but it was much too 
gloomy, especially in the days when there was 
nothing to do. Except when he was at court, 
or at his other business, he was very faithful to 
his post, and the stranger need not have been so 
unreasonably glad to find him at his office. 



THE TWO BROWNS. 245 

"I see that you 're your father's own son," 
the client began, in an asthmatic voice. He 
looked like a cross old fellow, and Brown had 
an instant sense of relief because the first 
words had not been suggestive of the other 
place of business. " I knew your father and 
grandfather before you," said Mr. Grandison, 
" and I 've been out of lawyers' hands these 
twenty years, more or less ; but I 've got some 
fight left, and when I got my blood up yester- 
day about some infringements, I thought over 
to whom I could give the case, and I decided 
that I would come round and look you over, 
to see if I could trust you with such a piece 
of work. I don't know whether you're not 
too young now, but it 'U be a feather for you 
if you can handle it. I 'm ready to pay what 
the work 's worth, — I '11 tell you that to begin 
with." 

The word " infringements " had an un- 
pleasant sound, but Brown waited patiently. 
He had some knowledge of thij man, for whom 
his father had gained a famous case. Grandi- 
son was an inventor. On the whole, he could 
recall the case perfectly ; he had tried to make 
himself familiar with it, for future use ; but 



246 THE TWO BROWNS. 

there was no possibility of those questions be- 
ing reopened. 

"My factories go on like clock-work, 
and have these thirty years," said the old 
man. Brown began to feel a personal disUke. 
" I thought I had disposed of all opponents 
and rivals long ago. Jenks and Rowley are 
our regular lawyers, but now they 're getting 
old, and they don't own me, any way. You 
see there are a couple of jackasses, over on 
Ninth Avenue, who have started up an electric 
potato planter, — a capital good thing it is, 
too, — that runs so close to that cog-wheel ar- 
rangement in the steam harrow we make that 
I 'm going to stop them short, if I can ; or, if 
I can't do that, I '11 buy 'em out, if it costs a 
million to do it. You can't afford to let such 
a business as mine scatter itself, and I mean 
to hold it together as long as I am here to 
do it." 

Brown felt a dampness gather on his fore- 
head ; then his manhood arose triumphant, and 
his courage declared itself equal to this emer- 
gency. He was not caught stealing, neither 
had he done anything dishonorable. There 
was no real incongruity in a Benedict Brown's 



THE TWO BROWNS. 2A1 

being interested in a potato planter; it had 
all been a fair, above-board business. He was 
ready to stand up for it. 

" I Ve been living in Thirty-Eighth Street," 
said the client, ^^ and I have often watched you 
come and go. I like to see a lad diligent and 
right after his business, as you are, and ready 
to go down town an hour or two earlier in the 
morning than the fashion is. I 've had my eye 
on you for a year or two. I started in life a 
poor boy, and never had the backing up that 
was ready for you ; but I keep the run of my 
affairs, I can tell you. I don't get down town 
every day, by any means, but a thing like this 
that I want to consult you about fires me aU 
up." 

" Will you give me an idea of the case, Mr. 
Grandison ? " asked Brown, politely. He was 
afraid he might be taking an unfair advantage, 
but the words were out, and the old manufac- 
turer, with much detail, laid the grievance be- 
fore him. 

" They 're smart young men," he ended. *' I 
don't know their match. I hear they had a 
small capital, and laid it out mostly in adver- 
tising. One of them got hold of a half-worked- 



248 THE TWO DROWNS. 

out notion and completed it, and bought out 
the owner's right ; and there was a small man- 
ufactory over in Jersey that had been swamped, 
and they got that for a song, too ; and the min- 
ute the machine was on the market it went 
like wildfire. In spite of constant extensions, 
they have been able to meet their obligations 
right along. I don't want to harm 'em if 
they 'U treat me fairly. I 'U give 'em a hand- 
some sum down to sell out quietly, or I '11 fight 
*em all to pieces." 

*'*' Perhaps they can stand a fight, and can 
prove that their machine is no infringement 
on anybody's," suggested the lawyer, with a 
good deal of spirit. 

Mr. Grandison gave him a shrewd glance. 
" This Brown is no relation to you, I hope ? " 
he said, doubtfully; but Brown flushed 
quickly, and made a little joke about the 
name's not being at all uncommon. The cli- 
ent thought he was not pleased at being as- 
sociated with a firm of machinists, and was 
sorry he had spoken. The boy felt older than 
he looked, no doubt. 

When the interview was ended. Brown, who 
had been very inexpressive of his opinions all 



THE TWO BROWNS. 249 

the way through, assured his visitor that there 
were some reasons why he would not give any 
answer then about undertaking the case, and 
would ask his leave to defer a direct reply 
until the next day. " I shall be very glad to 
stop as I go up town in the afternoon," said 
our friend. The elder man thanked him, and 
said he should count it a great favor, if the 
weather were no better than at present, and 
went limping away. Poor old soul! it was 
late for him to be taking pleasure in quarrels 
with his fellow-men. 

Checkley was going over to the works that 
afternoon, and there was no hope of seeing 
him until the next morning, so Brown gave 
all his mind that he possibly could to being J. 
Benedict, the rising lawyer. He had some per- 
plexing business upon which he tried hard to 
fix his attention, but the affairs of John B. 
Brown and the potato planter kept rising be- 
fore him in an uneasy, ghostlike way that was 
most disagreeable. He had put more of his 
thoughts into those side interests than he had 
been aware. The two years had gone by like 
a dreaoi, but they had left a good many per- 
manent evidences of their presence. There 



260 THE TWO BROWNS. 

was one of the teamsters, who had broken his 
leg early in the winter, and whom Brown had 
visited in the hospital, besides looking after 
the patient's family. He had built up his own 
business reputation, and had grown ambitious 
about the success of the firm. He had deter- 
mined at first to say nothing, even to his wife, 
until he knew whether he had made a fool of 
himself or not, but he was perfectly aware now 
that he had not made a fool of himself. He 
was evolving plans for giving all their work- 
men some share in the business, and was in- 
creasingly glad that he had a chance to work 
out some experiments in the puzzling social 
questions of the day. He was ready now to 
be something of a statesman. He was willing 
to believe that he had got hold of the right 
thread of the snarled skein that linked labor 
with capitaL His wife knew that he had some 
business interests apart from his law reports 
and his practice, and none of his friends would 
be surprised that he had been speculating a 
little. Grales would have got at the whole 
story, and told it, too ; but he had gone 
abroad months before, and reMnquisbed his 
profession altogether, for the time being. Per- 



THE TWO BROWNS. 251 

haps the time had come to choose between 
the two Browns ; it would be hard to play 
both characters, if the cares of either should 
double, for instance, and he was, perhaps, 
fated to be J. Benedict, after all. This was 
a melancholy thought, and the old wish re- 
turned that his other enterprise had concerned 
anything but an automatic potato planter. It 
might give him a nickname, and he never 
would be able to live the silly story down. 
Checkley was sure to project something new, 
and yet he was truly proud of the firm of 
Brown & Checkley, and would not see it 
cheated. 

Next day, Checkley happened to be alone in 
the office, and his partner beckoned him out 
into an empty comer of their place of busi- 
ness, where they were well removed from the 
clerks and their scratching pens. Checkley 
laughed and shouted, and was at first unable 
to give any answer. " Wants you to bring a 
suit of infringement against yourself, does 
he ? " he gasped at length. " Go ahead, my 
boy ; nobody '11 know the difference. It will 
advertise us enormously. I have told you a 
dozen times that nothing would do us so much 



i 



262 THE TWO BROWNS. 

good as a rousing lawsuit. Now don't put on 
your best J. Benedict manners, but listen to 
me. I' m not going to work myself to death. 
We have laid by something handsome already ; 
if the old fellow will add to it, I am perfectly 
willing to sell out, if you are, just to make his 
last days happy. I Ve got my head full of new 
electric notions, and I want to go to France 
and experiment. You tell him the whole 
story ; he will be glad to get hold of the 
planter, and I shall be glad to let it go. I 
meant to go roving tiiis summer. I 'U let it 
all drop. We have had a run of luck, and 
luck is apt to turn. We 're young yet, you 
know, J. Benedict Brown, so I put this busi- 
ness into your hands. You 're lawyer for the 
firm." 

Brown turned away mournfully ; he was 
convinced more entirely than ever before of 
the erratic nature of his partner: yesterday 
with his whole soul bent on furthering the 
success of the planter ; to-day ready to throw 
it aside, and to wander away and spend all 
the money he had earned. Brown mentally 
resolved that it really was not safe to risk his 
good name any longer in such keeping, but 



THE TWO BROWNS. 253 

that he should insist upon being made trustee 
of a share of his partner's funds, so that Check- 
ley might never come to the ground again. 

Checkley called him back in great excite- 
ment, when he was leaving the office, a little 
later. " Look here," said he. " I was going 
to put this picture into our next almanac as 
your portrait. I was in the patent-medicine 
business once, and this was old Dr. Parkins, 
who made the Spring Bitters. I was going to 
start him again as John B. Brown, the Penn- 
sylvania farmer and inventor." 

" I think it would have been beneath our 
dignity," responded Brown, severely. " What 
became of your patent-medicine business? I 
never heard of that." 

" Because it fell through," said Old Shekels, 
cheerfully. "This was the only thing that 
never did. You 're spoiling a first-class busi- 
ness man for a doubtful lawyer." But Brown 
laughed, and straightened himself proudly as 
he went toward Broadway and his other office, 
which bore the shining brass door-plate with 
his honored name of J. Benedict Brown. 

That evening he confessed all to his wife. 
It was a great shock, but she bore it bravely. 



264 THE TWO BROWNS. 

She knew little about business, but she believed 
with all her heart in respecting the traditions 
of one's family. Though, after all, one Brown 
had kindly made money for the other. 



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