(navigation image)
Home American Libraries | Canadian Libraries | Universal Library | Community Texts | Project Gutenberg | Children's Library | Biodiversity Heritage Library | Additional Collections
Search: Advanced Search
Anonymous User (login or join us)
Upload
See other formats

Full text of "Candles' beams"

LANDVacO.l 

CATHOLIC 
CHURCH' 

" SUPPLIES 
IB WEST OUNnasST 
.TOROWTO.CAN. 



% 



w J- 



,.'^-?.-L..^ 



Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2011 with funding from 

University of Notre Dame Hesburgh Libraries 



http://www.archive.org/details/candlesbeamsOOfinn 



FATHER FINN'S FAMOUS STORIES 

Each volume with a FroniispieGe, 
net, $1.25, Postage 10c. 

Candles' Beams. Short Stories 

Sunshine and Fbeckles 

Lord Bountiful 

On the Run 

Bobby in Movieland 

Facing Danger 

His Luckiest Year. A Sequel to "Lucky Bob" 

Lucky Bob 

Percy Wynn; or, Making a Boy of Him 

Tom Playfair; or, Making a Start 

Harry Dee; or, Working It Out 

Claude Lightfoot; or, How the Problem Was Solved 

Ethelred Preston; or, The Adventures of a Newcomer 

That Football Game ; and What Came of It 

That Office Boy 

Cupid of Campion 

The Fairy of the Snows 

The Best Foot Forward; and Other Stories 

Mostly Boys. Short Stories 

His First and Last Appearance 

But Thy Love and Thy Grace 




"While Manuel waved the sword, Carmelita dug furiously 
with her hands." {Page 124) 



Candles' Beams 



BY 



FRANCIS J. FINN, S. J. 

Author of "Tom Play fair", "Percy Wynn", 
"That Football Game", etc. 




New York, Cincinnati, Chicago 

BENZIGER BROTHERS 

1926 



3S// 



l^lst'^ 



0^ iC/ 



Copyright, 1926, by Benziger Brothers 



Printed in the United States of America 



How jar that little candle throws his beams! 
So shines a good deed in a naughty world. 

The Merchant of Venice, Act V, Sc. 2 



CONTENTS 

PAGB 

Thb Candle's Beams 9 

Roughneck 22^ 

A Point of Honor 59 

Round Christmas Footlights 75 

Quick Action 99 

Ada Merton 147 



S Father David Rohan stepped into the waters of 
the Mississippi, ancient memories returned. It 
was here as a boy that, by his skill in swimming, he 
showed the promises afterward fulfilled in his becom- 
ing the finest athlete in Campion College. It was here, 
ancient memories reminded him, that after winning an 
exhausting swimming race of two hundred yards, he 
swam out, while still pumping for wind, into mid-' 
stream and rescued an exhausted contestant. 

This part of the upper Mississippi, some few miles 
above Dubuque, he had not seen since, seven years 
before, he had gone to the seminary. Many things 
had happened in these seven years. He had won out 
in philosophy and in theology as he had previously 
won out in athletics ; he had achieved the priesthood — 
he could still almost sense the holy oils recently placed 
upon his hands — and he had lost his health. 

Physicians had insisted that after ordination he 
should return to his native village, and, for a few 
months, resume, so far as possible, his old life on and 
in the river. 

One of them told him he would recover ; two others 
shrugged their shoulders ; and Father David clearly 
understood that they had pronounced his death war- 
rant. 

But just now as, using the Australian crawl, he made 
his way out into midstream, his whole being revolted 
against their decision. He was himself again. He 
felt that he could, if put to it, win many another medal 
in the Mississippi waters. 

9 



10 CANDLES' BEAMS 

Upon the heels of this buoyant feeling there sud- 
denly came a sense of lassitude; and he had not made 
one hundred yards — he to whom a mile or more was 
once nothing. 

"Pshaw!" he said, turning upon his back and float- 
ing. "What else could I expect ? I'm out of condition. 
The wonder is I could go this far without losing my 
wind." 

Then he turned once more, and with a gentler, 
•easier stroke made for the bank. Even as he turned, 
an apparition met his gaze. 

Coming down, with measured pace, towards the 
shore was a young miss of nine. She appeared to be 
a gypsy. Her black hair failed to show even a distant 
acquaintance with comb and brush. It was a long, 
tangled mass. She was barefooted, barelegged, clothed 
in a slip of a gown. 

The girl, as the Father scanned her, continued her 
grave walk till she reached the water's edge; and, in- 
stead of halting, walked in. Land and water seemed 
all one to her. 

Out into the water she stepped, until she was waist 
deep. Then throwing herself forward she began to 
kick and splash with enough vigor, apparently, to sup- 
ply power for a large factory. This tremendous activ- 
ity she kept up for fully five minutes, by which time 
she had swum about two feet. 

"That little gypsy," soliloquized Father David, "has 
put enough energy into her performance to carry her 
half way across the river." 

"I say, Sissie," he remarked, as with his easy stroke 
he came within reach of the panting maid, "who taught 
you how to swim?" 

"There ain't nobody taught me; and I wish they 
would. Fm crazy to be a good swimmer." 

In a few minutes Father David got it iisto the head 



THE CANDLE'S BEAMS 11 

of the impressionable child that it was not necessary, 
in order to swim, to kick all the water possible into the 
air. Swimming was not exactly a shower bath. 

"Say," said the girl after mastering this truth, "my 
name's Emily — Emily Billic; and I go to school, and 
I hate books, and what's yours?" 

"My name is David Rohan." 

"Oh ! Are you the great swimmer that they all talk 
about ?" 

"I was a pretty good swimmer in my day," returned 
the priest. 

"Oh ! I want to learn from you. Say, do you think 
I'll make a great swimmer?" 

"Judging by the progress you have made in the last 
ten minutes, I should think you would." 

"Hi ! Hi !" screamed Emily. "Teach me some more." 

And teach her more he then and there did. Emily 
was not a gypsy. In fact, her face, yielding to the 
softening influences of the water, had become almost 
fair. She had no fear of the water. Whether her 
head was above or below seemed, so long as she could 
hold her breath, all one to her. It was quite conceiv- 
able that she could drown without discovering that 
disconcerting fact up to the last minute. The invol- 
untary swallowing of the water seemed to her to be 
a part of the sport. 

The only thing that evidently did worry the child 
was her dress. Three pins held it together; and these 
pins were not always faithful to their trust. More 
than once she ceased her exertions to get one pin or 
another into a resumption of service. It was in the 
pauses of one of these difficult tasks that she suddenly 
lifted changed eyes upon the young priest. 

"O, say ! Aren't you a Fader ?" 

"I've been a priest for two weeks, Emily." 

"Say, I forgot; excuse me." 



12 CANDLES' BEAMS 

Emily, as Father David clearly understood, referred 
to certain expressions which in previous moments of 
excitement had slipped from her innocent lips. If the 
priest could believe his ears, she had once, when he 
failed to reach her in time, addressed him cold- 
bloodedly as "You devil." But he had not believed his 
ears at the moment, 

"Say, Fader, will you give me a medal?" 

"Are you a Catholic ?" 

"I was baptized ; but I don't know nothing." 

"Doesn't your mother teach you your prayers?" 

Emily shut her eyes, put her hands together and 
said: 

"Name Fader, Son, Holy Ghost — Now I lay me 
down to sleep — Haily Mary now and at the hour of 
debt, amen." Then she opened her eyes and looked 
for approval. 

"Is that all you know?" 

"I knew more. Fader; but I forgot." 

"And does your mother let you go swimming alone ?" 

"My mudder is dead. She went dead three years 
ago. And my fader, he is a fisher, and he sleep all 
day, and he fish all night. And he isn't a Catholic; 
and he don't care where I go, so I don't wake him up." 

"Good gracious! And you are your own dress- 
maker ?" 

"I've got anudder dress besides this." 

Father David removed a string from his neck. On 
it were fastened a scapular medal and what is known 
as the miraculous medal of Our Lady. This latter he 
detached and gave to the child. 

"Wear that all your life, Emily; it is the medal of 
God's own Mother." 

Emily's eyes showed the gratitude which her limited 
command of language failed to express. She hurried 
from the water, disappeared momentarily behind some 



THE CANDLE'S BEAMS 13 

bushes, and returned presently with the medal, attached 
to a very ancient shoe lace, hanging about her neck. 

"Say, Fader, when are you coming swimming 
again ?" 

"I hope to come to-morrow at this same hour — four 
o'clock." 

"Four o'clock? And will you teach me some more?** 

"Gladly." 

"Come on; let's swim again." 

"Thank you, Emily," returned the priest, whose 
lips were blue and trembling. "But I'm afraid I've 
stayed in too long. Now you run away and leave me 
to dress." 

"Good-bye, Fader." Here Emily smiled engagingly 
and held up two fingers. 

"Four o'clock? To-morrow?" 

And Emily, like some infant naiad, turned and was 
lost in the trees. 

The next morning Emily, at her humble home, re- 
ceived a package. She opened it in some fear and 
much wonder. She looked, she shrieked, she jumped 
into the air, putting, in the act, all three pins out of 
commission, and then, as she regained her feet, she 
kissed the medal, which was the only ornament that 
graced her sturdy person. 

The package contained a dainty bathing suit. It was 
the first decent thing in the way of apparel she had 
received since her mother's death. 

When Father David, accompanied by a lad of twelve, 
reached the watery trysting place next day, he found 
the young naiad in all the glory of a many colored 
swimming suit. Her tangle of hair was hidden under 
a cap red as the head of a woodpecker. Altogether 
she was in appearance a much improved girl. On see- 
ing Father David she set the woods ringing his name 
in welcome, and as she entreatingly added, "Hurry, 



14 CANDLES' BEAMS 

Fader, come on in quick!" she proceeded to swim 
according to the directions given her the day before. 
Here, too, she displayed an extraordinary change for 
the better. 

'*I declare," exclaimed Father David, as he entered 
the waters, "you have improved wonderfully. How 
did you do it?" 

"Just as soon as I got my new suit," answered the 
naiad, stepping on the bank and strutting proudly up 
and down to give her two companions an opportunity 
to see her in all her splendor of color, "I came right 
down and practised what you told me, Fader. That 
was at ten o'clock. Then I came down at eleven 
o'clock; then I came at twelve o'clock; and at one 
o'clock and at two o'clock." 

"Did you have any time for dinner?" 

"I forgot all about dinner. Say, Fader, how do I 
look?" And Emily, with mouth and eyes opened to 
their widest, gazed earnestly into Father David's face. 

"You look simply elegant. I never saw any swim- 
mer of your age look any finer ; and you have improved 
wonderfully in sv^dmming. Why, if you go on this 
way I'll be able to teach you all I know in a week." 

For the next half hour Father David had two eager 
pupils on his hands. Master Tom Reynolds had 
thought he knew much of swimming, but he changed 
his mind during that afternoon. He had much to 
learn, and he went about it with almost the eagerness 
of Emily. Both children would do anything, however 
desperate, to win Father David's slow, quiet smile and 
nod of approval. His lightest word was to them a 
command that must be obeyed. They were not only 
his pupils, but his slaves. And that slavery was made 
complete at the end of the swim, when Father David 
said to Tommie : 

"Look you, Tommie, you can dress much quicker 



THE CANDLE'S BEAMS 15 

than I" — which, inasmuch as Tommie's clothes con- 
sisted of a pair of jumpers, was manifestly true. "Now 
hurry into your things, and here's some money. Go 
and buy ten cents' worth of crackers and five cents' 
worth of cheese." 

These words were not fairly out of the Father's 
mouth before Tommie, fully robed, was off at a smart 
trot. 

The naiad, meantime, also fully dressed — if the word 
fully could apply to anything so inadequate as her 
three-pin rag affair — was content to sit quietly behind 
some trees, as Father David had ordered her, looking 
with eager expectancy out upon the river — though the 
river, it must be confessed, had nothing whatever to 
do with that look of expectancy. 

Father David was just about ready to show himself 
in public when Thomas returned. 

Then there was a feast. 

The revellers were two in number; and Thomas, 
though proud, with good reason, of his appetite, com- 
pared very poorly in efficiency with the half -starved 
naiad. 

In the course of the banquet, the priest pointed out 
with some directness that people did not consider it 
good form to bolt their food. Teeth had their uses, 
too. And Emily, thinking, no doubt, that these words 
were an integral part of her swimming lessons, meekly 
submitted, and put her teeth to a use to which they had 
previously been strangers. 

"Tell me, Fader," ventured Emily upon the complete 
disappearance of the crackers and cheese, "are you 
going to stay here all the time?" 

"O, how I wish you would !" eagerly the boy put in. 

"I'll be here only for two months at the most," re- 
turned the Father, conscious of the intent eyes fastened 
upon him. He paused for a moment, and in the pause 



16 CANDLES' BEAMS 

a dreamy expression settled upon his face. '7 shall 
pass this way only once," he added : "therefore — " He 
finished this sentence by bestowing upon his two Hs- 
teners a smile, radiant, warm, yet touched with the 
awesomeness of one who is dipping into the finalities 
of the future. ''Now, Tom, suppose we start back." 

"Won't you come to-morrow, Fader?" cried Emily. 

"I hope so." 

"At four o'clock?" 

"Yes, Emily." 

"I'll be waiting over at those trees, and I'll not go in 
the water tiU you are ready." 

"Very good. Good-bye." 

The boy and the priest had not gone far when Emily 
came rushing down upon them at top speed. 

"Say, Fader, I want to ask you something." 

"Well, child?" 

Emily motioned Thomas away. 

"Fader," she whispered, "when you go away, won't 
you take me with you?" 

Father David had had many experiences in his thirty- 
two years of life, but never one so poignant as this. 
He had seen but a few moments before into his own 
future, and now he fancied he was looking into that 
of the child ! Her upturned face was coarse, her eyes 
were bold, and, God help her, pathetic beyond words. 
There was little trace of refinement in her features and, 
judging by what he had learned of her home fife, less 
promise. The only saving grace of her countenance 
was youthful innocence, a gracious thing which, like 
the lily, is here to-day and gone to-morrow. There was 
something else in her face which somehow Father 
David failed to note; it was love, love for him. In- 
stead of answering her question, the priest, thinking at 
once of his own future and hers, laid his hand upon 
her tousled hair and said, "God bless you, my child." 



THE CANDLE'S BEAMS 17 

And Emily, kissing the medal, her only ornament, 
grinned and darted back into the woodlands. 

It was an afternoon in August, five weeks since the 
Wisconsin naiad had startled the young priest. Four 
o'clock had passed. At the river's edge stood Emily, 
waiting. The minutes went on haltingly ; they changed 
into quarters. At last Thomas Reynolds appeared, 
dressed rather elaborately. There were shoes upon his 
feet. 

"Where's the Fader?" asked the girl. 

"He — he's not coming down to-day. He's not com- 
ing no more," answered Tom. 

"Is he sick?" 

"I should say he is. Last night he had a hemi- 
lage." 

"A what?" 

"A hemilage. He spitted blood. He nearly died." 

"And — and is he better?" gasped the girl. 

"The hemilage has stopped, but he's weak as a cat. 
And he's ordered to leave this place right away, and 
g-g-g-o to an 'orspital." 

Tommie caught his breath several times as he spoke, 
while a tearful dimness obscured his eyesight. Emily, 
whose mouth throughout this disclosure had been wide 
open, let out a long and loud wail of grief. Literally 
she lifted up her voice and wept, while down her 
cheeks coursed a quick succession of tiny drops of 
tears. 

Grief is catching. Tommie boohooed. For a few 
seconds he gave a loose rein to his grief ; then re- 
membering that he was a boy he set himself to check 
it, with the result that for several moments he made 
a series of extraordinary faces. 

"Say, you baby," he at length managed to say, "stop 
that confounded squalling." 

These words were uttered, as it happened, at a 



18 CANDLES' BEAMS 

point where Emily, losing her wind, had stopped to 
take a full breath to be converted presently into an- 
other squall. So Emily caught his words. She closed 
her mouth, gulped, while her eyes seemed to spit forth 
sparks. Her face grew black. 

"You devil," she said fiercely. 

Emily was standing on the bank. Thomas, furious 
at himself for what he considered his display of weak- 
ness, and furious at the girl for her display of temper, 
gave her a push. Over she went backward into the 
river; whereupon for several seconds Master Tom- 
mie found himself alone. 

Suddenly she arose some fifteen feet from the shore, 
lying on her back and floating. 

In this attitude the young lady reiterated her state- 
ment with a wealth of adjectives flanked by some ex- 
traordinary expletives. Emily was in a towering rage, 
and she was expressing herself in the artless and pro- 
fane language which her father, in fits of anger, was 
wont to employ. 

Tommie picked up a clam shell and sent it flying at 
the bobbing, red-capped head. Emily promptly dived 
^o reappear several yards farther out. As her head 
came to the surface, another shell came whizzing to- 
ward her. She dived again. Tommie threw shells 
till he was tired, by which time Emily was forty yards 
away. At this distance it was not necessary to dive. 
Treading water, she made another speech to Tommie, 
every word of it breathing defiance, and ended by 
sticking out her tongue. 

"You cat !" exploded Tommie. "I'm going right 
back to tell him what awful language youVe been 
using." 

The young lady's tongue suddenly returned to its 
proper place. 

"O. Tommie," she implored, "don't do that! I for-. 



THE CANDLE'S BEAMS 19 

got myself. Cross my heart — " There was a short 
interruption here. Emily in crossing her heart with 
undue fervor suddenly disappeared. "Cross my heart, 
Tom, I'm sorry and I won't do it again. Excuse me, 
Tom." 

"And," resumed the boy, still surly, "he told me to 
give you a message." 

At this the girl's face lighted up. Throwing herself 
forward she made for the shore with a speed which 
caused even Tommie, acquainted as he was with her 
prowess as a swimmer, to wonder. Tommie had good 
reason to admire her speed, though it did not occur 
to him that he was just then watching the swiftest 
swimmer of her age in Wisconsin and the two neigh- 
boring states. 

"Say," she cried as she made land, "what — what did 
he say ?" 

"He said he wants you to keep on swimming every 
day." 

"Yes?" 

"And he is going by the 8:40 train to-night, and he 
wants you to come down and bid him good-bye. Say, 
Emily, he thinks a whole lot of you." 

Emily's face softened. Just then she looked beau- 
tiful. 

"Say, Tom, I hope my dad will lash the daylights 
out of me when I get home. I'm sorry for all I said. 
I'm bad — oh, say, you won't tell the Fader ?" 

"No, Emily, I won't, and — eh — Emily, you won't 
say anything about my shying those shells at you? I 
lost my temper and I'm sorry, too." 

"Not a word, Tom! And I'll be at the depot at 
eight o'clock." 

And at eight o'clock the naiad was on hand. She 
was dressed for the occasion. Shoes and stockings 



20 CANDLES' BEAMS 

were on her feet, what though one of those stockings 
was white and the other black. An absurd hat, with 
absurd artificial flowers, intended for a full-grown miss, 
concealed her tangled locks, and a white apron hid 
from view the many open spaces of her best dress. In 
one hand the naiad carried a bundle wrapped in a 
torrid looking bandanna; in the other a gorgeous bou- 
quet of wild flowers, in the gathering of which she had 
spent more than an hour. There were also some beau- 
tiful roses which, truth compels me to say, were taken 
from the garden of a neighbor without his knov/ledge 
or consent. 

''Look at the little water-devil," observed the station 
agent. *'What in the world is she up to? Never saw 
her so elaborately dressed before." 

Luckily for him the fair child failed to hear his 
remarks. 

Emily seated herself solemnly and waited. Her 
mouth, an unusual thing, was closed, and her eyes, 
oblivious of all the sights of a railroad station at train 
time, were fixed intently upon the far horizon. 

"Go away, I don't want to talk," she remarked se- 
verely to several who undertook to question her. 

Ten minutes before train time a cab drew up, and 
from it, leaning upon the arm of Tommie and another 
boy, issued Father David. His face was bloodless, his 
eyes glassy. 

"O, Fader!" bellowed the maid. 

And Father David, hearing the familiar voice, broke 
into a smile so sunny, so genial, that for the moment 
he seemed to be his aid self. 

"Why, Emily!" he said, holding out welcoming 
hands. 

"Say, Fader, I'm going with you," said Emily. "I'm 
all ready to go. I've brought my clothes and my bath- 
ing suit." 



THE CANDLE'S BEAMS 21 

"But, my dear child, you can't leave your father." 

"He won't care. He don't know, anyhow, O, 
Fader, please, please take me." 

"Emily," said the Father, "I'm going to a hospital." 

"I'll go, too." 

"No, my dear, that cannot be." 

"And when are you coming back, Fader ?" 

"I fear, Emily, I shall not pass this way again." 

"Aren't you coming back ?" 

"That is as God pleases." 

Then Emily presented the flowers. For the time 
all her roughness was gone. She showed for a moment 
what she might have been under other circumstances. 
Father David was touched; the tears came to his eyes. 

"God bless you," he said hurriedly, and turned away. 

Tommie Reynolds accompanied him into the car; 
and rage, jealous rage, entered the sorrow-stricken 
soul of the lone girl on the platform. 

She was still boiling over when the train started. 
And in that moment she saw Tommie in the vestibule 
shaking hands with "the Father." 

This was too much. Throwing herself on the plat- 
form, face up, she howled and kicked in an abandon 
of grief till the train was out of sight. 

IN THE spring of 1926, the Catholic hospital at La 
Crosse was all the brighter for the presence of a 
newly ordained priest. A slight nervous breakdown, 
occasioned by hard study and the ordeal of ordination, 
in no wise interfered with his ready smile and his 
sunny way of dealing with all who met him. In fact, 
he claimed that he had no reason at all for being in a 
hospital. He felt all right. He wanted to work. But 
his good bishop had insisted on his playing the invalid. 
No doubt the good bishop was correct. The young 
priest had entered the room assigned him three weeks 



22 CANDLES' BEAMS 

before, pale and hollow-eyed. And now his eyes we^e 
bright, twinkling, and upon his cheeks had come a pair 
of roses which put him quite in keeping with the rosy 
springtime. 

At the moment that there came a knock at his door, 
he had just finished reading, for the twentieth time, 
this paragraph from a well worn manuscript, "The 
Diary of a Hospital Chaplain :" 

Dec. 12, 1911. This morning at ten o'clock, 
died in the odor of sanctity. Father David Rohan. 
He was conscious to the last ; sweet, affable, win- 
ning in word and manner. I never knew a lovelier 
soul. He had no fear of death. His last words 
were, "If God calls me, I am perfectly willing to 
go. But when I meet Our dear Lord, I am going 
to have a sort of a quarrel with Him." When 
Father David said this, I, little knowing that his 
last moment was at hand, broke into a laugh. The 
idea! Father David would not quarrel with the 
meanest and most abandoned soul on earth. "Well, 
anyhow," he added with that smile which, in win- 
ningness and sweetness, was unchanged, "I'm 
going to remonstrate with Him, and I am going 
to say something like this : *My dear Lord and 
Saviour, You have been good to me beyond meas- 
ure. You gave me good parents, good friends, a 
good education, and no end of joy. Best of all, 
you were pleased, in your infinite goodness, to call 
me to the priesthood, and to allow me the greatest 
of all earthly privileges — to say Mass, and to say it 
eighty-seven times. But a priest ought to save 
souls. That's his business. And I have not had 
a chance to save a single one. Why didn't you 
allow me to save one soul before I died ?" Father 
David came to a pause. His voice had grown 



THE CANDLE'S BEAMS 23 

weaker and weaker. He made me a motion. I 
understood. I caug'ht up the crucifix, which he 
in his weakness could not reach, and held it before 
his dimming eyes. He repeated with me the Act 
of Love. Then as I gave him absolution and put 
the sacred image to his lips, he whispered, *'0 
Lord Jesus, give me one soul before I go." Then 
his head fell back. All was over. God rest his 
lovely soul. No doubt Our Lord knew wliat was 
best. Father David died without any chance to 
exercise the holy ministry, without any opportun- 
ity of saving a single soul. 

The young priest, I say, had just finished the read- 
ing of these paragraphs, and had taken out his hand- 
kerchief and wiped his eyes, when there came a knock 
at the door. 

"Come in," he said. 

The door opened, revealing the superioress. 

"Good morning, Father. Are you ready for your 
first confession ?" 

"This — this," he answered, "is so sudden." 

"But it's an urgent case. Father. There's a woman 
just brought in. It's a clear case of lockjaw, and, 
although she looks perfectly well, she'll be dead before 
night. She may become unconscious before long, and 
our regular chaplain has gone to visit the bishop on 
business." 

"O, in that case I'll be only too glad, Sister." 

"As this is to be your first confession, FatJier, you 
will allow an old woman, old enough to be your mother, 
to prepare you. The woman is, and has been, a 
hardened and notorious sinner. She was brought in 
here cursing and screaming, and somewhat the worse 
for liquor. Our sisters at first could do nothing with 
her; and it took three of our male nurses to get her. 



24 CANDLES' BEAMS 

kicking, biting, struggling, into the room assigned her. 
But here comes the strange part: no sooner did she 
enter the room than she at once quieted down. Her 
eyes grew soft, and she burst into a fit of weeping. 
When she could control herself, she turned to me and 
said, *Sister, I beg pardon, I am ashamed of myself. 
I know I'm going to die, and O, Sister, please get me 
a priest.' And then she fell to weeping bitterly again. 
Never did I see so sudden and so extraordinary a 
change." 

The young priest arose, procured a stole and the 
holy oils, and said : 

"I'm ready. Mother Superior; ask all the Sisters 
who can spare the time to go to the chapel and pray 
that I may handle this case right." 

On entering the woman's room they discovered her 
lying quiet and calm, though the tears upon her face 
told the tale of her recent emotion. She was young; 
but dissipation had added years to her appearance. 

^'Father, Father !" she cried, raising hands of sup- 
plication, "will you help me? IVe never been to con- 
fession in my life." 

"Certainly, my child. You need not worry at all." 

The Superior left the room and remained outside 
for nearly fifteen minutes. Then the door opened. 

"Her confession is made," said the priest gravely. 
"Now for Extreme Unction and Holy Communion." 

At these last rites there were present seven Sisters. 
Three of them wept openly. None of them had ever 
seen a dying person receive the last sacraments with 
such lively sentiments of faith, hope and love. 

"Before I die," said the penitent, "I want to ask 
pardon of all the world for my scandalous life. I've 
been bad, bad, bad. Father, will you stay with me a 
little longer ?" 



THE CANDLE'S BEAMS 25 

The Sisters left the room, all save the Superior, who 
was holding the dying woman's hand. 

"Father, do you know that you remind me of the 
dearest and best and only friend I ever had ?" 

"Indeed!" 

"Yes ; you have his nice smile and manner. It is six- 
teen years since I saw him. I knew him only for a few 
weeks." 

"Where is he now, my child?" 

"He died long ago. He was a priest — ^he taught me 
to swim." 

"Good God !" cried the young priest, jumping to his 
feet and gazing intently on the woman's face. "You 
are Emily!" 

The woman on the bed rose up, her eyes all eager- 
ness, and returned the priest's gaze. 

"And you," she said, "are Tommie Reynolds. No 
wonder you reminded me of dear, dear Father David 
Rohan." 

It was now the Superior's turn to be astonished. 

"Why — why," she exclaimed, "Father David Rohan 
died in this very room." 

"Oh! Oh! Oh!" cried Emily. "I felt him near. 
He's here now. It is he who drove the devils out of 
me when those men forced me into this room. It 
was he who filled my heart all of a sudden with love 
of Jesus and sorrow for my horrible life." 

"And it was he," resumed the superior, "whose last 
prayer and last words to the dear Lord were that he 
might not die before winning one sinner. Emily, he 
was praying for you; and his prayer was answered." 

"And it was he," added Father Reynolds, "who in 
his few weeks' dealings with me aroused in my soul — 
without his ever saying a word about it — an ardent 
desire for the priesthood. In all these years I have 
never forgotten him, and, Emily, you paid me just 



26 CANDLES' BEAMS 

now the greatest compliment I could ask. You told me 
I acted like him. Well, I've been trying to do that for 
these last fifteen years." 

"After his death," said the Superior, "his grave 
for over a year was visited daily by little children 
whom he had met during his last sickness in this 
hospital. And for the last ten years there are flowers 
laid upon his grave every week. Some grateful child 
has never forgotten him." 

"Sister," said Emily, her face flushing and growing 
girlish, "I was that child." 

" 'How far a little candle throws its beams, 
So shines a good deed in a naughty world,' " 

quoted Father Reynolds. "Whenever I meet those 
lines I always think of dear Father David. And do 
you remember, Emily, his saying, 'I shall not pass this 
way again' ?" 

"Indeed, I do. I often wondered what he meant." 
"So did I when I was a boy. But I found out 
during my studies. Here's the entire quotation. I 
repeat it to myself every day : 

" *I expect to pass through this world but once. 
If, therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or 
any good thing I can do my fellow beings, let me 
not defer or neglect it; for I shall not pass this 
way again.' " 

"I am happier now," said Emily, "than I ever was 
since I met him on the river's bank. God knows I 
have been wicked, but God knows, too, that the memory 
of his kindness to me has inspired me to save and 
protect many and many a poor, deserted little girl. 
And I know that he has saved ray soul, and he has 
made you a priest to carry on the work he would have 
done. O, Father Thomas, be kind, be kind, be kind — 



THE CANDLE'S BEAMS 27 

especially to the poor little ones. Souls are being lost 
for want of kindness/' 

"God helping me, I will, Emily." 

**And now, Sister and Father, I want to be alone. 
I want to talk to Our Lord." She paused a moment 
and then continued, "I saw his grave the other day, 
and there came back to me the only two lines of poetry 
I ever learned by heart, and I learned them because 
they fitted him : 

'Only the actions of the just 
Smell sweet and blossom in the dust.' " 

And as Father Reynolds and the Superior left the 
room, their last glimpse showed them Emily kissing 
the crucifix and the last words they heard from her 
lips were : "My Jesus, mercy." 



ROUGHNECK 



ROUGHNECK 



AMONG the fifty and odd boys of the fourth grade 
^ who faced me on the opening day of school, 
there was one who caught my attention within the 
first five minutes of class. His face was amiability 
itself. When he smiled — and I noticed that he was 
seeking every opportunity to perform that pleasing 
act— his mouth, large by nature, dilated to a striking 
degree, and his entire face radiated good nature. 

He was hardly a handsome boy, much less was he 
pretty. His nose was tip-tilted, his face was extremely 
freckled, and his hair anarchistic. His features, in 
general large and coarse, were redeemed by a pair of 
large grey eyes, and an expression — temporary, it 
might be — of effusive good nature. 

His attire puzzled me. It was not convincing. Face 
and clothes did not jump together. His collar and 
tie were immaculately clean; his clothes, spick and 
span. The face was the face of Huckleberry Fin; the 
attire was the attire of Little Lord Fauntleroy. 

I had opened the school year with a short talk on 
the importance of study, good conduct and attention. 
It was an eager audience I was addressing — an awed 
crowd of little boys who had never yet sat under a man 
teacher. But the attention of this jmrticular boy led 
all the rest. His eyes were fixed squarely upon mine; 
they twinkled if I so much as came near to a pleas- 
antry; they danced if I actually got off a joke; ^n4 

31 



32 CANDLES' BEAMS 

when there was occasion for laughter his treble rose 
high above all other sounds of glee. 

Presently, I found myself addressing him alone. 
He was an audience in himself. In an unhappy mo- 
ment, chancing to notice how his ears stood out promi- 
nently from his head and wondering whether he 
could wag them, I broke into a smile which really had 
nothing to do with what I then happened to be saying. 
My sympathetic audience of one, misled utterly, at 
once broke into a laugh of keen appreciation. One 
would think it was the best joke he had ever heard. 
As a matter of fact, I had just made the following 
original statement : "A year wasted, a year of idleness, 
is a year that is lost forever." 

The hearty laughter of my freckled-faced audience 
rang out alone. It started off buoyantly, and suddenly 
subsided as though an invisible hand at one fell grip 
had choked it into silence. 

"Ah, Roughneck, wot's the matter with you?" came 
a voice in a low whisper which somehow reached my 
ears. 

Ah! so my friend, my audience, was ''Roughneck." 

The young gentleman thus addressed went the color 
of a boiled lobster, and incontinently turned in his 
seat to eye his monitor. The amiability was all gone; 
the mouth wore a snarl, and several particular clusters 
of hair seemed to rear their angry crests upon Rough- 
neck's untamed head. 

Then all the boys laughed, not at any real or fancied 
joke of mine, but at the blushing and irate Roughneck. 

Later on, while I was passing over to the blackboard, 
I thought I saw out of the corner of my eye, a shiny 
fist — even the shininess was suspicious — shaking itself 
in the direction of Roughneck's offender; and the sus- 
picion deepened into a certainty after recess when 
Roughneck returned to class with a scratched cheek 



ROUGHNECK 33 

and a skinned knuckle, and his insulting schoolmate 
with a very suspicious eye. 

"Your name, sir," I said rather sternly when all 
had been duly seated. 

"Please, Brother, Frank Reardon," said my whilom 
audience of one. 

"And yours, sir?" I continued addressing myself to 
the youngster of impaired eyesight. 

In a hollow, deep voice, surprisingly deep for one of 
his years, the youth in question, a very fat boy with 
a very serious face, made answer. 

"Ed Stevens." His voice seemed to come from his 
boots. 

"I must say," I continued, "that you're both a nice 
pair to begin the school year with hammering each 
other." 

Upon the class there came a great awe. They all 
knew I had remained in the classroom during recess. 
How then had I seen through walls and from a height 
of three stories a little affair which had happened in 
an obscure corner of the playground on the other side 
of the building. Ed Stevens, familiarly known as 
Fatty, allowed his lower jaw to fall and gaped at me, 
breathing heavily; Roughneck, so called, as I already 
inferred, because of a certain manner of speech and 
action in keeping with his upturned nose and freckled 
face, opened his eyes to their widest, and, within a few 
seconds* time gave me, gazing into their depths, a 
moving picture of swift and varying emotion, wild 
surprise, fear of a whipping, shame at discovery, and, 
to end the play, two large tears which gathered so 
rapidly that they were each speeding their way down 
his cheek, telling their story of wounded self-love and 
repentance. In fear of a fresh discharge, I said : 

"Well, Frank, don't take it hard. As it is the first 
offence, I'm going to forget it here and now." 



34 CANDLES' BEAMS 

A timid finger went up, its owner a thin eager-faced 
boy occnpying one of the front seats. 

"Well, John, what is it?'* 

"Sister — I mean Brother — it wasn't so awful much 
of a fight" 

I learned afterwards that John Hogarth, whose name 
I had picked up, much to his and the class's astonish- 
ment, during recess, was a bosom friend of Fatty. 

Then pandemonium, so to speak, broke loose; and, 
unused as I was to such very small boys, reagned for 
almost a minute. "Fatty hit him first" — "Naw, he 
didn't" — "Roughneck had him skinned" — "Aw, Fatty 
didn't want to fight" — "Fatty went to Communion this 
morning." 

There was a strap, dread signal of authority, upon 
my desk. In a happy inspiration, I took it and brought 
it down with all my force on that unoffending article 
of furniture. The suggestive whack cut some twenty 
sentences untimely, and left their authors spellbound 
and with mouths arrested and open. 

"Silence," I said. The enjoinment was superfluous. 
Slowly each individual mouth closed — all except 
Roughneck's. His was fixed apparently for all time; 
the boy needed a dentist badly. 

"The two belligerents will please come forward." 

At the word "belligerent," Roughneck was dissolved 
in tears, and Fatty, from the depths of his interior, 
emitted an unctuous groan. 

"Reardon and Stevens," I translated, sedng that 
neither quite got my idea, "come here." 

By some alchemy peculiar to the small boy. Rear- 
don's cheeks showed lines of dirt where the teans 
multitudinous had gone their way. He rose and cartfe 
forward, digging his fists into his ey^, and then rub- 
bing his fingers upon his no longer imxnaculsle shti:^ 



ROUGHNECK aS 

waist. Stevens, with a face so preternaturally solemn 
and rueful as to defy description, also came forward; 
so promptly, indeed, that in his eagerness to obey he 
knocked his friend and admirer John Hogarth out of 
his seat. The two were presently standing before me 
with solemn inquiry upon their faces, Stevens gazing 
fixedly at me, and Reardon eyeing with an artless 
trepidation the strap still in my hand. 

"Now, boys," I said, "suppose you shake hands." 

Suddenly all the solemnity flew from the expansive 
features of Fatty. The change reminded me of the 
sun bursting away from a black cloud. Fatty was 
smiling; his whole being went into that smile. Up 
went a chubby finger: there was mirth and youthful 
jollity in the gesture. 

"Well, my boy?" 

"Please, Brother," he gurgled deep down from, let 
us say, his diaphragm, "we did shake hands. We done 
it coming up the stairs. 

Then twenty fingers were snapping from the highly 
interested class. Hogarth's face, I observed, was pre^~ 
nant with information he was almost dancing to im- 
part. 

"Well, Hogarth? What is it?" 

"Sister-er — Brother, I seen 'em shaking hands. And 
I told Fatty they ought to make up." 

It was evident from the snapping fingers on every 
side that half of the class was willing, nay bursting, to 
corroborate Master Hogarth's pleasing information. 

After laying down the law on the snapping of fin- 
gers, I gazed once more upon the culprits. Edward 
was again owDike in his solemnity; but upon the tear- 
stained face of Master Frank the light of hope was 
shining to such effect that it gave me the feeling of 
gazing upon a rainbow. 



36 CANDLES' BEAMS 

'^Now, young gentlemen," I began — and Reardon, 
addressed as gentleman, suddenly lost his rainbow and 
became clearly disconcerted — "I said a moment ago 
that I was going to forget this whole incident. But 
IVe changed my mind; I'm not going to forget it." 

A portentous frown gathered upon the brow of Ed- 
ward Stevens ; Francis Reardon absently set to wring- 
ing his hands. 

"Two boys," I continued, "who can lambast each 
other in one minute, and in the next shake each other's 
hands, are just the kind of boys I like to know. I 
want to shake hands with you." 

The class gave a gasp. I was creating a sensation. 

"Your hand, Frank." 

Roughneck looked at his hand as though he were 
bidding it a last farewell, and ruefully, gingerly, put 
it forward. I grasped it warmly, and forthwith the 
lifeless palm in mine grew warm and strong. It was, 
after all, a fine handshake. As I turned to my fat 
friend, I saw in Reardon's eyes an expression which 
told me that I was his master, his hero, his beloved. 

Edward was now sunlit; his hand came into mine 
with something more than spontaneity. It was he that 
did the shaking. 

On my giving them the sign to return to their seaf$, 
Reardon paused and looked appealingly into my eye. 

'"Yes?" 

"Please, Brother, I'd like to shake hands with Fatty 
again." 

**Yes, Brother," growled Fatty; "me and Rotighneck 
will do it better this time." 

"Go ahead," I said. 

It looked more like a wrestling match than a hand- 
Shake. Hogarth, the enthusiastic, broke into applause. 
All followed his example; eighty odd hands were clap- 



ROUGHNECK 37 

ping as one. I shook my head; at once the applause 
ceased ; and as Stevens and Reardon went back to their 
seats, I, who had never before had to do with boys 
under fourteen, realized that by a lucky series of 
events, I had entered into the heart of every little lad 
in that room. 

When I came to make my examination of con-* 
science that night it was with a heart overflowing with 
gratitude to God. To think of it! In the space of 
barely an hour I had won the hearts of, morally speak- 
ing, an entire class. There were exactly fifty-five boys 
in the fourth grade. Of these, I was sure that from 
forty-five to fifty were in bondage to my will, which 
meant that, using justice and kindness day after day, 
I could make them see things as I saw them, love the 
things I loved, aspire to the things I aspired to, do 
the things I did. There is no leadership in the world 
so tremendous as the leadership of a good teacher. No 
wonder, then, that the enemies of the Church would 
steal her followers by stealing her schools. 

I had gone into the class that morning with no fear 
as to order and discipline. Almost any man can secure 
these things by following out a few simple rules. One 
may have order and hatred; discipline and under- 
handedness. But to have order and hearts, discipline 
and candor — ^these are things that make a teacher's life 
noble and momentous. 

Gratitude, however, was not my only emotion. 
When I considered my petty vanity, my inordiimte 
ambition, my quick temper — ^in a word, when I conskl- 
ered all my petty faults and dangerous inclinations— I 
humbled myself before Christ; I begged Him to be 
with me in the classroom, so that, despite my miserable 
self, I might act and teach and think as He, the lovei: 
of little children, would have me. 



38 CANDLES' BEAMS 

II 

Etoring the month of September there was little 
or no change in Francis Reardon. His attire was 
faultless, his attention fixed, his good will constant. 
No matter what question I proposed, he was the first 
to answer. It was clear to me that I was carrying the 
boy in the hollow of my hand. 

''Yoti^d better keep your eye on Roughneck," re- 
marked Brother Ambrose, of the fifth grade one morn- 
ing at the breakfast table. 

"Why, what's the matter?" I asked. 

*'He's imitating you," Brother Ambrose made an- 
swer. "He's talcing you off. The other day, I saw 
him walking behind you as you were going along Fifth 
to Broadway, and he had that little swagger of yours 
down to a. t. He was doing it, too, with perfect 
gravity." 

I felt myself coloring. There was a swagger in my 
walk and to think that my admirer, as I had thought, 
should be making a mock of me on a public thorough- 
fare was a sharp stab to my self-love. 

Just then. Brother Mark, our Superior, chuckled. 

"Brother Ambrose," he said, "how often have I 
advised 5^011 in jowc dealings with the small boy to go 
behind the act itself and get at the motive? If you 
imitated Brother John's walk, it would be an insult to 
Brother John. Young Reardon imitates him because 
he admires him. Imitation, in his case, is the sincerest 
flattery." 

My self-love was soothed. And now I remembered 
how Frank Reardon had of late gone his various ways 
with his head in the air, as who should say, "I am 
owner of earth and sky." Could the boy be growing 
conceited, I had often asked myself? It now came 
home to me forcibly — as my novice-master had more 



ROUGHNECK 39 

than once told me — that I with my swaggering walk 
and my head in the air, was the perfect embodiment 
of conceit. Hereupon, I then and there at breakfast 
made a few good resolutions — resolutions, I am sorry 
to say, that I have not completely carried out up to 
the time of the present writing. A man who can teach 
boys can learn from them, too. 

Early in October there came a sudden change in 
Francis Rear don. He who had once been so prompt 
in attendance at Mass, now came in after the Conse- 
cration; badly written tasks took the place of the Se|>- 
tember models of neatness; the merits of a spotless 
shirt were no longer his; the shining morning face 
grew grubby; and, in a word, the Fauntleroy in him 
gave place to Huck Finn. It was easy for one to 
understand, at this stage of the year, why Frank had 
with no little justice obtained the nickname Rough- 
neck. But one thing remained unchanged — his dog- 
like devotion to me. This devotion was dog-like in 
more senses than one ; it was wordless. He could look 
his devotion; he could not express it in articulate 
language. 

In vain did I call him to account for tardiness, care- 
less tasks, poor recitations, neglected attire. Frank's 
eyes would fill, but from his mouth came no word to 
throw light on the situation. Those beautiful grey 
eyes, too, were shorn of their wonted splendor. They 
were heavy and unresponsive. The boy gave one the 
impression of indulging in late hours. 

One day I lost patience with him. He had laid his 
head upon the desk — a thing I never tolerated — ^and 
when I called him to order he readjusted himself, rub- 
bing his eyes the meanwhile as one aroused from 
sleep. 

TTien before the hstening class I told Frank what 
I fhooght of him. My indignation presently got the 



0) CANDLES' BEAMS 

better of my judgment, and — God forgive me — I said 
cruel things and unkind things. It was only after- 
wards I recalled how the poor fellow had gone pale, 
how the torture of his agonized soul had shot into his 
eyes. It pains me now to recall the scene. The boy 
was hurt beyond power of words to express — ^hurt, 
but not angry. That night at examination of con- 
science I felt like a murderer. Also, I realized that 
I had put in jeopardy, if I had not to some extent lost, 
the hold I held upon the pupils of the fourth grade. 

The weeks that followed brought but little improve- 
ment in Francis Rear don. One day, having consulted 
with the head Brother, I gave him a whipping. I do 
not think that the blows hurt Frank appreciably; but 
I know, looking back, that my heartless manner did. 
I thought I was cruel only to be kind. I concealed 
my liking for him; I veiled my heart. 

When the whipping was over and Frank left the 
room, I had lost an adoring friend. 

My heart sank many a time during that day. Frank 
was obedient, but sullenness was written large upon his 
face. Evidently, I had blundered again; blundered 
irretrievably I often thought, as the days went on and 
Frank's demeanor grew, if anything, worse. 

iir 

During the last week of October, a distressing thing 
came to pass. Penholders, pencils, pennies and what 
not could no longer with safety be left in the classroom. 
A thief had arisen amongst us. 

In vain did I, in the catechism class and at other 
opportune moments, dilate on the terrible effects of 
thieving; the one person I was trying to reach was 
unaffected. 

,Young Hogarth, a daily Communicant, suggested a 



ROUGHNECK 41 

novena; Edward Stevens offered, in private, to act as 
a detective. He seemed to have the idea that a false 
moustache and a wig would ensure him success. 

I became downhearted. Somehow, it seemed to me 
my hold upon the fourth grade was slipping. The 
discipline was all I could desire; but the boys were no 
longer responsive to my suggestions. At night, my 
sleep was broken. Brother Mark, our kind Superior, 
noticed my distress, and asked the cause. 

"I'm afraid. Brother, I've put my foot in it. I've 
given one scolding in which I went too far, and since 
that time there's some sort of a veil between me and 
the boys. They like me yet, I think; but they are a 
little more distant." 

"To know your fault is by way of atoning for it. 
Brother John. Keep up your courage ; you'll get your 
power back before you know it. Just see how long 
you can get on without scolding — you know God has 
given you an over sharp tongue — ^and you'll have them 
running to your whistle as before." 

"But that's not all. Perhaps I should have told you 
before, but I found it hard to bring myself to it — 
there's a thief in the class — one, if not more." 

"Have you no clue ?" 

"Absolutely none." 

"And you suspect no one?" 

"I dare not. There's not a boy in the class who on 
the face of it would seem to be capable of such a 
thing.'* 

Brother Mark pressed his hands to his forehead, and 
remained thus for almost a minute. 

"One thing is sure," he presently said. "It is quite 
possible to have a young thief in a class where a 
teacher is doing the very best sort of work. You have 
no reason, therefore, to feel discouraged. Keep your 
eyes open, and you'll get the culprit ; and when you do, 



42 CANDLES' BEAMS 

act as you think proper. You have my permission to 
give him a whipping he will remember to the last day 
of his life." 

The days passed ; the thieving continued. One after- 
noon, on m}^ way home from the classroom, I remem- 
bered that I had left a set of tasks in my desk. Re- 
turning and reaching the classroom door, I recalled 
that I had lent Brother Ambrose my keys. Young 
and athletic as I am, the solution was easy. Reach- 
ing to the lower frame work of the transom, I drew 
myself up. And — 

Francis, the boy who a month ago was my imitator 
— Francis was going from desk to desk, appropriating 
papers, pencils, and ail manner of small objects. Drop- 
ping from my awkward position, I threw myself 
against the door, bursting the lock at the first attack. 
Francis jumped violently, and seeing who I was fell 
into the nearest seat, throwing his face downward on 
the desk. And there I stood looking at him, amazed, 
frightened. What was I to do? What could I do? 

"God help me!" I cried internally. And I needed 
God's help in the face of this tragedy of youth. 

"Francis," I said at length, and my voice, I ob- 
served, sounded strange and unnatural, "empty your 
pockets." 

Without raising his head, the unhappy boy, using 
only his right hand, threw out upon the desk an as- 
sortment of odds and ends — amongst them fifteen pen- 
nies, a nickel and a dime. 

I glanced from these things to the boy ; his breathing 
was labored. I glanced at the ill-gotten goods again, 
and hardened my heart. That is, I tried to. It had 
Leen borne in upon me from reading and practical 
experience that there is an almost infallible means of 
curing a thief caught young — a sound, almost merciless 



ROUGHNECK 43 

wiiippiiig. My mind was made up. I wauld thrash 
that boy as I had never thrashed any boy, I would 
thrash him as he had never been thrashed before, and 
in all likdihood would never be thrashed again. 

"Francis, hold up your head." 

The boy obeyed, and I was gazing upon a face 
which was to me absolutely unreadable. The eyes were 
cast down, the mouth closed tightly, the face set in 
hard lines ; and yet it was quivering with some emotion 
which might be sorrow or anger or hatred ; which was 
it? 

As I looked down, my intended method of reforming 
a thief ceased to appear so simple. 

"Frands,*' I continued after a period of dark doubt 
— a period during which I earnestly prayed for light — 
*'go through that pile of stuff and take out what is 
honestly yours.** 

Quidkly the small fingers played among the pile of 
articles; so quickly, so deftly, that I was asking myself 
whether I was gazing upon fingers which in after 
years would exercise their deftness in the picking of 
locks and the opening of safes. 

It was a cool day, but I felt the perspiration breaking 
out upon my face. I could see the fear upon the 
features of Francis, I could feel the panic writ upon 
my own. Nevertheless, I felt I must go on to my 
horrible, self-imposed task. 

"Have you stolen much more besides this ?" 

The boy bowed his head in assent. 

"Can't you speak ?" 

"Yes, Brother." The words were low; but oh, the 
infinite sadness in the tones! 

"Francis, my boy, you would not have thought of 
doing such a thing as stealing last September." 

The boy raised his eyes and looked me full in the 
face. 



44 CANDLES' BEAMS 

"I should say not/' he exclaimed fervently. 

A sudden light shot through my soul, and then a 
sudden bewilderment. The light was illuminating. 
Francis Reardon would not have turned to stealing had 
it not been for that ill-timed and worse-worded scolding 
of mine. The bewilderment was: Am I too a sharer 
in the guilt of this young thief? 

Here was a heart, once mine, to be won again. 

"Now, my boy," I said, *T had made up my mind 
when I caught you, to give you a trouncing you would 
never forget. But I'm not going to do it." 

Francis turned eyes of wonder and of frank in- 
credulity upon me. 

"And more than that: no one else — no Brother, no 
boy, no relation even — ^will ever learn from me that 
Francis Reardon was a thief. The only one else who 
will ever know it will be your confessor, and him you 
will tell yourself." 

All of a sudden, the tears came dashing from the 
boy's eyes; with equal suddenness he began to cry, in 
the literal sense of that word. 

"Keep quiet, Francis; you will be heard." 

The boy moderated the expression of his grief, but 
his sobs, suppressed though they were, were heart- 
rending. I waited in silence and in fear. Oh, how 
I dreaded making a false step! 

"The reason I am not going to whip you, Frands,*' 
I resumed at length, "is that somehow I feel that I'm 
just as much of a thief as you. I don't think you 
understand what I mean just at present, but you will 
understand some day." 

Whether he understood or not is be3'^ond me ; but in 
answer to this, he arose, grasped my ^ight hand, and 
fell upon his knees. 

"O, Brother, I'm sorry! Forgive me! and 111 do 
an)rthing you say." 



ROUGHNECK 45 

"Stand up, Francis. Indeed, I forgive you from 
my heart, and I want you to forget that awful scold- 
ing I gave you/' 

"Brother, I'll try to be what you want me to be." 

And then I told Francis to make out an exact inven- 
tory of every thing he had stolen, and, as quickly as 
possible, to bring the articles back to me. From senti- 
ment we had come down to business; and in a few 
minutes everything was fairly arranged. The only 
difficulty was in the matter of the money. Francis 
had spent it. 

"I'll advance the eighty-three cents myself/' I said, 
"and you can pay me in instalments." 

Next day, accordingly, I was able to announce to the 
class, — 

"There is no thief in this room ; and those boys who 
have lost pens, paper, pennies, or anything else, will 
kindly see me at recess, and get what belongs to them." 

IV 

On a Monday morning of November I missed Fran- 
cis Reardon from his accustomed place. Was the 
boy ill? For the past few weeks I had noticed a 
pallor upon his face — the pasty complexion seen only 
too often among the children of St. Xavier School; 
a complexion hinting at wretched nourishment, and 
indicating slow, slow starvation. Apparently, since 
the clearing up of the petty thefts, I had recaptured 
his heart ; but his head was no longer mine. His mind 
was not on his studies, his attention was lackadaisical, 
and the written tasks he handed in were far from 
satisfactory. And yet the boy, it was clear, was mak- 
ing heroic efforts; but the efforts were as those of an 
oarsman against an overmastering current. 

Frank was one of the few unanswered problems of 



46 CANDLES' BEAMS 

my class. Everything, indeed, was going well. Every 
lad in the room went to Communion at least once a 
week; many of them daily. Master John Hogarth, 
following a little talk of mine on daily Communion, 
had constituted himself a committee of one to get the 
boys together on the matter. John, thin, clear-cut, 
frank, outspoken, earnest, reminded me often of St. 
Peter ; he always wanted to do something. His friend, 
Edward Stevens, was ever his faithful lieutenant. To- 
gether they got up a "pledge" which read as follows: 
*Tl solemnly promise to Almighty God, His blessed 
Mother and Brother John, to go to Holy Communion 
at least once a week, if not oftener." 

They were rather hurt when I eliminated my name, 
both insisting that the change might affect the number 
of signers; but I carried my point, and they secured 
all the signatures. Hogarth, delighted with the success 
of this measure, then submitted to me another docu- 
ment, the composition of which, if I could judge by 
his ink-stained face and hands, must have cost him 
considerable thought and labor. It was entitled, "A 
Solemn Vow to go to Communion every day, meaning 
at least five days in the week." 

This document got no farther than my desk, and 
Hogarth went away, disappointed but not dispirited, 
to meditate new devices. 

Francis Reardon was committed to go weekly; but 
it was doubtful whether he carried out his promise. 

At recess of this particular Monday morning when 
Reardon was absent, Hogarth, when the others had 
left the room, thus addressed me : 

"Say, Brother John, I think Roughneck didn't go 
to Communion yesterday. Nobody saw him anyhow." 

"How do you know? He wasn't at the children's 
Mass?" 

"No; and he wasn't at six. Fatty served six, and 



ROUGHNECK 47 

is sure he wasn't there. And he wasn't at the 8:30, 
because I went to it to look for him. Do you think 
he's sick ?" 

''That's just exactly what I do think, John." 

"Weil, then, I'm going to get the kids to club in and 
buy him some flowers," and John made for the door. 

"Hey there! hold on, John! Suppose you wait till 
we know something definite." 

At noontime I spoke to Brother Mark, a man who 
looked like Cassius and thought like St. Francis de 
Sales. 

"Brother Mark, Rear don, who has looked quite ba<\ 
for the last month or so, is absent today for the first 
time. I know it is not your custom to visit the homes 
of our students without special reasons; but I think 
we have them in this case. There are some things 
about the boy that I can't make out at all. Perhaps 
one visit to his home may make everything clear." 

"You are right, Brother John ; there seems to be spe- 
cial reasons. Immediately after class, we shall go 
together." 

However, we did not carry out our program to the 
letter. Brother Mark had some business with the 
Father in general charge of the schools, which detained 
him almost an hour, and when we finally started off it 
was already growing dark. 

As we neared the gate fronting the school, our 
attention was drawn to a very little girl of seven and 
a tiny youth of six, who were holding each other's 
hands and sobbing with abandon. 

"What's the matter, little girl ?" asked Brother Mark, 
kindly. 

At this question, the diminutive youth opened his 
mouth, threw his head back, and roared. 

"There now, little boy, don't cry," I exclaimed, in 



48 CANDLES' BEAMS 

answer to which advice the youth took a fresh breath 
and broke into a still more swelling theme. Thereupon, 
the little girl, in sympathy, raised her shrill pipe. Hand 
in hand, with heads tilted towards the sky and mouths 
opened to their widest, the two little ones, evidently 
brother and sister, gave voice to their distress in a 
duet that would not have done discredit to an opera 
after the extremest manner of Strauss. 

Putting aside the cacophony, the picture was a pretty 
one — ^two little figures in all the innocence of youth, 
with linked hands, with flaxen heads thrown back, eyes 
closed, mouths open, and braced against the southern 
gatepost. 

The situation would have puzzled me, but Brother 
Mark was equal to it. I saw his right hand dive into 
the capacious pocket of his coat and reappear with two 
pieces of candy. Into each open mouth the stern- faced 
philanthropist slipped a piece, with startling and in- 
stantaneous results. The mouths closed automatically, 
the heads were lowered, and the eyes opened with a 
new interest in things sublunary. Then there was 
heard instead of the late yells, the grinding of teeth. 

*T've got more of the same stuff in the same pocket," 
said Brother Mark, speaking, as I could see by the 
interest he aroused, very much to the point. "Now, 
children, tell us what is the matter." 

"I want to do home," cried the very little boy, re- 
lapsing into sobs. 

"We're lotht," supplemented the girl. "Our big 
thithter Annie mus' have forgotten all about us." 

Sister Annie, it would appear, was in the habit of 
taking them home; they lived on Gilbert Avenue, the 
street on which resided Francis Reardon. 

"Come along, children," said Brother Mark; "we're 
going that way ourselves. Here, give us your hand." 



ROUGHNECK 49 

There ensued a little confusion: both wanted to 
walk with the head Brother — the little boy coming out 
quite strong on the subject. Finally, with Brother 
Mark hand in hand with Master Eddie and myself 
holding the confiding, innocent hand of Edna, the pro- 
cession moved forward. 

There was an immediate freemasonry established 
between the head Brother and Eddie ; I think a second 
piece of candy had much to do with it. Little Exlna, 
however, for some time was silent. My questions 
failed to arouse her enthusiasm. 

"Do you know many people on Gilbert Avenue?" I 
presently asked. 

Then the flood-gates of her knowledge were let loose. 
She seemed to know everybody and everything in the 
section of that popular thoroughfare within the con- 
fines of St. Xavier parish. Much of her artless prattle 
I did not understand ; but on she went from person to 
place, from babies to provisions, in all the sweet and 
lovely innocence of childhood. We had turned over 
on Broadway and then to Gilbert Avenue; and still 
she chattered. It was now twilight; the electric lights 
were flaring and spluttering; men and women of all 
sorts and conditions were rubbing elbows with us. We 
were in the grimiest part of a grimy city. And yet, 
as I walked on holding that confiding hand in mine 
and listening to that innocent voice, there came upon me 
a solemn sense of the presence of angels — the angels 
of these little children. The ground we trod upon, the 
air we breathed — sordid and smoke-stained both — were 
sacred. The prattle of a little child in the busy marts 
of men brought the angels of God closer to me than 
silent meditation in perfect solitude. 

We left them presently at their door, smiling and 
waving their hands to us so long as they could get our 



50 CANDLES' BEAMS 

eye. As we went on, I mentioned my feelings to 
Brother Mark. 

"Strange/* he commented. "I had precisely the same 
sensation. And now, the angels are gone." 



In a few minutes, we were standing at the door of 
Reardon's home. It was a ramshackle frame structure 
of three stories. Of course, we knew very well that 
the Reardon family did not occupy the entire building. 
Things are not done that way — with a few notable 
exceptions — in St. Xavier parish in the twentieth cen- 
tur3r. In such a building as the one before U3, there is 
the following classic division: lirst-story front, first 
story back; second-story front, second-story back; 
third-story front, third-story back ; and there is a f am- 
il)^ for each division. People who want a v/hole floor 
to themselves should move out of St. Xavier 's into 
Holy Cross; and if they desire an entire house should 
seek the classic sequestration of Walnut Hills. 

We took our chance at the first-floor front and pulled 
the bell. Already, with a swiftness that astonished me, 
a crowd of children had gathered on the pavement, 
watching our movements with unconcealed interest, 

"Say, Mister," said a very dirty little boy in a very 
long overcoat and a very large hat, "that there door 
bell don't ring." 

"The best way to get them," said a slightly older 
youth, "is to bang on the door with a brick. They's 
both of 'em deef ." 

"Does Frank Reardon live here?" asked the head 
Brother. 

"No!" came the chorus. 

Then there emerged from the motley group a giri 
of nine. She evidently belonged, as her speech and 



ROUGHNECK 51 

manner declared, to the girl's department of St. Xavier 
School. 

"Please, Brother," she said, "I'll show you the way." 

And show us she did — half-way back through a nar- 
row passage, up an outer stairway to the second floor. 

"Is this the place?" asked Brother Mark, pointing 
to a door that evidently belonged to the second floor 
back. 

"Yes, Brother." 

Brother Mark was about to knock, when the little 
miss, in the artless and unstudied way peculiar to 
many of her class, threw the door open and called 
out, 

"Frank Reardon! Here's the Brothers coming 
after you." 

It was really very awkward for us; but what could 
we do? The room that met our eyes was the living 
room — by day at least — though in the far corner a sus- 
picious looking article of furniture, not exactly "a 
chest of drawers by day," was evidently destined to be 
converted into a bed by night. 

In the center of the room was a rude table; upon 
the table was a pitcher, the contents of which was 
indicated by four glasses in various stages of deple- 
tion about the corners of the table. Seated around 
it were four young women. But they did not remain 
seated. Seeing us standing without, they scrambled 
to their feet, and while inviting us to "come in" and 
calling loudly for Frank, they edged by. us, and dis- 
appeared down the stairway. Where they went, I do 
not know ; but I have an idea that they first sought out 
the little Miss who threw open the door for us, and 
told her in plain and unvarnished terms what they 
thought of her present standing and future prospects. 

Also, by some legerdemain, the pitcher and the 



52 CANDLES' BEAMS 

four glasses, as we entered, were no longer on the 
table; and what became of them I know not to the 
present day. I learned later that two of the young 
women were Frank's sisters — who did piece-work in 
a factory — ^and that the other two were "lady-friends." 

The quartet was hardly well on the stairway when 
from the back room emerged Frank, his shirt sleeves 
rolled up to his elbows, and a large blue apron, tell- 
ing its tale of many a washed dish, encircling his entire 
body. 

"I was washing the dishes," he said ; then, raising his 
voice, "say, ma, here's my teacher and the head 
Brother come to see us — come on in here; ma's sick 
in bed." 

I was by this time somewhat bewildered. There 
was an abruptness and unconventionality about all the 
proceedings, beginning with the little girl's throwing 
open the door, for which I was not prepared. Through- 
out it all, Brother Mark remained cool and smiling. 
He had visited in such neighborhoods before. 

As Master Francis led the way, there was nothing 
for us but to follow him into the adjoining room; and 
a very small room it was. It led directly by another 
door into the kitchen. One window afforded a close 
and intimate view of a porch and stairway belonging to 
the next house — so close, so intimate that one could 
almost reach across by leaning out and stretching one's 
arm. The room was clean, and save for a chair, a 
washstand, a lamp on the mantle, and over the lamp 
a picture of the Sacred Heart, almost bare. On the 
bed lay a white-haired woman, her knotted hands upon 
the coverlet telling the story of chronic rheumatism. 
Pain and hardship had prematurely aged her face — 
a face gentle and long-suffering. She endeavored to 
raise herself up as we entered but Brother Mark pro- 
tested. 



ieOUGHNECK U 

**Just stay as you are,"* he said. 

Mrs. Reardon was plainly glad to see us. 

"Which of you is the teacher of my boy?" she 
asked. 

''There he is," answered my Superior, pointing his 
hand at me. 

"Oh, how glad I am to see you," she cried. You 
don't know all youVe done for my little boy. He was 
rough and wild till you got hold of him, and now he's 
always talking of you. I suppose you know he's had 
very hard times the last few months?" 

"I suspected," I replied, "that there was some sick- 
ness in the family." 

"Sickness! It's been nothing else. Do you know 
that in October, besides myself being down, both my; 
girls were sick, and my other boy who is working — 
he's a little wild you know — disappeared and hasn't 
been heard of till today. Poor Httle Francis here was 
cook and nurse and everything else." 

Francis was standing beside the bed, his arms 
akimbo, and looking alternately at his mother and the 
head Brother. 

"What, Francis !" I cried, "can you cook ?" 

I can cook and wash dishes and scrub and dean and 
go a-marketing," answered Francis with simplicity, 

"Can you cook a beefsteak?" I pursued. 

"We never had none to cook. But I know how to 
do ^usages. We had them twicet." 

"I am astonished," I went on addressing the mother, 
"In October I noticed that Francis was f alHng back in 
his studies, but I had no idea that at his age he was 
acting as head of the family, trained nurse, general 
housekeeper, up-stairs girl and man-of-all-work. I — 
I'm astounded 1" 

"Y^, and for weeks we hadn't a cent in the hotf^. 



54 CANDLES' BEAMS 

The boy couldn't buy pencil or paper ; we had no money 
even for bread. Somehow, Frank managed to do 
something or other after class, and if he hadn't we'd 
have been thrown upon the Vincent de Paul." 

"Wonderful!" I cried out, and Brother Mark re- 
echoed my exclamation. "But why didn't Frank let 
me know all about the conditions at home." 

"Indeed, I told him to tell you many a time; but 
he just couldn't. He's the dearest and best boy in the 
world, and a sick mother's prayers will always go to the 
man who changed him — not that he didn't always love 
his mother. Oh, he did — indeed, he did! But this 
year he has stayed up late and got up early to help 
me — God bless him and all his friends." 

"Shake hands, Frank," said Brother Mark, "and 
after this, always tell your teacher about any sickness 
in your home." 

"Yes, Brotlier, I will," said Frank, quite radiant. 
He was proud of his mother. 

"And how are things with you now, Mrs. Reardon ?" 
Brother Mark went on. 

"I've just got good news. Harry, my oldest boy, 
has just written me. The poor fellow got restless 
and skipped to Detroit. He's coming lack tomorrow 
with a promise of a position at thirty-five dollars a 
mcHith. Then, I can take my youngest girl out of the 
factory and keep her home, and little Francis will go 
to bed early and get his lessons and eat better meals 
with the money coming in. You'll find, Brother John, 
that he'n be the same little Francis that I started to 
school in September. I have been praying hard, and 
God has heard me; and my boy, my big boy, is com- 
ing home again to his old mother." 

The tears stole down her face — tears of present 
joy, reminiscent, too> of past sufferiag. 



ROUGHNECK 55 

"He's a good boy," she continued, "only a little 
wild/' 

We remained a few minutes longer. I had entered 
the second floor back with a sneer in ray heart; I left 
it a wiser, and, I trust, humbler man. It was my first 
direct dealing with abject poverty. No wonder St. 
Francis almost apotheosizes "my lady poverty," that 
St. Ignatius tells his followers to love it as a mother. 
Best of all, Francis Reardon, in his most degraded 
moments, as I had considered them, had been a hero, 
and he doesn't know it to this day. 

But I couldn't even then gtt over the matter of that 
pitcher of beer and the four disappearing glasses. I 
mentioned my difficulty on the way home to Brother 
Mark. 

"Beer is cheap," he said. "It is the cheapest thing 
in the market. You don't expect those girls to go 
automobiling, do you?" 

"Brother, you are ironical." 

"I'm not. Perhaps, you expect them after eight or 
nine hours in the factory to go out and play lawm 
tennis ; or spend the evening like their wealthier Qiris- 
tian sisters, in doing the Turkey Trot and dancing tte 
Tango. A pitcher of beer is an amusement; and I 
dare say, bad though it be at times, it's not so danger- 
ous as automobiling to the body and not near so dan- 
gerous as turkey-trotting to the soul. Brother John, 
it's the only amusement some poor people know of ; 
and it's your business and mine as teachers to edu- 
cate them up to something healthier and higher. 
There's less mischief in a pitcher of beer — one pitcher, 
mind you — ^than in most of the dances and novels and 
mag"azines now most popular." 

My education was progressing too rapidly. The 
thought of beer as an amusement reduced me to 
sile^ace. 



56 CANDLES' BEAMS 

vr 

Two days later, I knew that the prodigal son had 
returned and that Master Francis had had his share 
of the fatted calf. He came to early Mass and with 
Fatty on one side and Hogarth on the other approached 
the Holy Table. It was the beginning for him of daily 
Communion. 

I found on my desk that morning a somewhat 
withered apple, under it a note which read as follows: 

"Dear Brother: 

I thank you for your visit. I thank you for seeing 
my Ma and she likes you the same as I do. Here 
is my pledge. I solumny promis never to steal again, 
and I'm going to have no secrets. Ma says to tell 
you, and I will. 

"Your friend, 

Francis Reardon.'''' 

December was a sort of golden age in the fourth 
grade. Harmony, friendliness, good order, hard study, 
true piety — a piety built largely upon the purity of 
heart that comes from daily Communion. 

Francis was fast coming to the leadership of the 
class; within calling distance of Hogarth — who was 
constantly devising new societies — and a trifle ahead 
of Edward Stevens. Yet, the boy was at times nerv- 
ous in his dealings with me. Gradually it dawned on 
me that he felt some doubt as to my trust in him. I 
had known him as a thief ; could I look upon him as 
in the days of our early acquaintance? 

I was puzzling for some time as to the best way to 
reassure him, when, unwittingly. Master John Ho- 
garth gave me the proper key. 

"Brother John," he said one afternoon, toward the 



ROUGHNECK 57 

close of class, "the kids want to get up a ball team 
in the spring, and we're going to get ready now. Will 
you be our president?" 

"With pleasure." 

"And we're all going to put in a penny a week, so's 
to be ready to get suits and bats and balls. I guess 
I'm to be vice-president and secretary myself, and 
we'd like you to appoint a treasurer, some fellow 
who'll be sure to take good care of the money. 

Quick as a flash, I saw my chance. 

"I appoint Francis Rear don." 

There was applause, but I let it go on unchecked, 
for I was looking at Francis. He knew now that I 
trusted him and I knew at last my moral victory was 
complete. 



A POINT OF HONOR 



A POINT OF HONOR 



ON commencement night, Harry Liscombe went 
forth from his home with a gay boutonniere 
in the lapel of his coat. His face was in keeping with 
the flowers. There was a bloom in his cheek, a bright- 
ness in his laughing eyes; and if he ever had experi- 
enced a care, time, like an absent minded bookkeeper, 
had failed to enter it on his sunny features. 

There was just the least suspicion of a trip in 
Harry's buoyant step as he hastened along the street, 
whistling choice fragments from "Sweet Marie," 
"After the Ball," and another unspeakable melody of 
the day. Evidently Harry was happy. To him the 
commencement exercises presented no terrors. He 
was quite sure of the prize in Latin, and looked for- 
ward with confidence to obtaining premiums in two or 
three other branches. Moreover he was now, and for 
the first time, arrayed in all the splendor of long pants. 
The time was well chosen. On the one hand, his 
smaller playmates would admire and envy him; on the 
other, as there was to be no class till September, his 
college friends would have no opportunity of teasing 
him on his changed appearance. No wonder, then, that 
he did not actually trip ; a sense of dignity comes with 
long pants, which, though intense, is not lasting. 

Harry had gone some four squares when he turned 
into a quiet by-street, and going up the steps of a 
humble house, the third from the corner, rapped at the 
door. 

61 ?.; 



62 CANDLES' BEAMS 

"Come in, Harry," cried a voice. 

"How did you know it was I?" asked Harry, as 
he opened the door, smiling exi>ansively. 

"I could tell your step in a procession — it's quick 
and light," answered the first speaker, a lad at least 
two years older than Harry, but slighter, paler and 
far more serious looking. 

"Good evening, Mrs. Stuart," continued Harry, 
bowing to the mother of his friend, who was seated 
close to a table lamp with a basket of needlework in 
her lap. 

Mrs. Stuart nodded pleasantly and, after a few 
words, resumed her sewing. 

"Where's your button-hole bouquet?" continued 
Harry. 

Dick Stuart shrugged his shoulders, and asked: 

"Don't I look brilliant enough?" 

"You'll pass in a crowd ; but as you and I are going 
to walk together, we'd better correspond." 

Harry, as he spoke, took from his pocket a little 
paper package, which he carefully unfolded. It con- 
tained a boutonniere like his own, and a fragrant red 
rose. 

"The rose is for you, Mrs. Stuart. I plucked it off 
father's nicest rose bush while the gardener was chas- 
ing a dc^ off our lot. I say, Mrs. Stuart," he added, 
while he presented her the flower, "you oughtn't to 
sew at night; you'll hurt your eyes. My mother 
doesn't sew at night." 

"My eyes are quite good, thank you, Harry," said 
Mrs. Stuart with a smile. She did not think it worth 
while intuiiating that a doubtful income of six hundred 
dollars compared with a certain one of ten thousand 
dollars made a considerable difference in the economy 
of a household. 

"Harry's right, mother," put in Dick. "Your eyes 



A POINT OF HONOR 63 

aren't near so good as you make them out to be. 
Sometimes you hold your sewing machines — fixings, 
I mean — within four inches of your face. You oughtn't 
to sew much at night anyhow. And then, suppose, 
mother, I get that scientific medal." 

Dick stopped short. Harry, he noticed, had given 
a sudden start. 

"But I musn't count my chickens before they are 
hatched," he added, with an apologetic look directed 
to Harry. 

From that moment till they got out into the open 
air Harry v/as unmistakably ill at ease. 

"Dick," he began, as arm in arm they stepped brisk- 
ly forward, "do you think that your chances are good 
for that scientific medal ?" 

"Well, if hard work counts for anything, I ought 
to stand a fair chance. I never worked for an5rthing 
as I worked for that. Why, Harry, I read eight dif- 
ferent books on the subject through, and took notes 
from all of them — in fact, I analyzed one of them 
from cover to cover. It cost me a month. I went over 
another of the books three times. Then I vn'ote out 
my essay five times, and I tell you I was dead tired 
when I got through." 

"I should think you were! Good gracious, Dick, 
what put it into your head to work so hard?" 

Dick hesitated for a moment. 

"Well, I don't mind telling it to you, Harry, but 
you mustn't publish it. Last March I wemt to see a 
doctor, and he told me I was in danger of going into 
an incurable disease. He put me under treatment and 
a diet — especially a diet," — Dick uttered his last words 
with fervent disgust, "and said that if I could manage 
to go to Waukesha this summer and put myself under 
the charge of some doctor or other there — I can't re- 
member his name — I might be permanently cured* 



64 CANDLES' BEAMS 

Now just two days before the doctor punched and 
pounded me, I got a letter from my uncle in Cincin- 
nati, who's a very wealthy man, in which he offered 
to give me a full summer trip if I should win the 
scientific medal. My mother, you know, is very poor. 
Since father's death, two years ago, we've been trying 
to straighten our affairs, and haven't managed to do 
so yet. Now, Harry, do you understand?" 

Did Harry understand? The light had gone from 
his eyes, the elasticity from his step, the flush from 
his cheek. He drew his handkerchief from his pocket 
to wipe the moisture from his hands. 

"Oh, how I hope you'll get it, Dick," he cried in a 
burst of fervor, more intense than the occasion and 
even his great friendship might seem to warrant. 

Dick looked at Harry in surprise. 

"I believe you, Harry," he said. "But you needn't 
get so excited about it. You seem to be more anxious 
for my success than I am. And I've gone too far 
myself. The fact is, I'm getting selfish in this mat- 
ter. I've got to be so anxious that I feel ashamed of 
myself ; and of late I've been praying hard not to be 
too eager. But eager as I am, Harry, just the same 
if I don't get it, I hope you may. In fact, I wouldn't 
worry a bit, if you " 

"Don't you talk any more of that nonsense; don't 
you hope anything of the sort," bawled Harry fiercely. 

"Why, old fellow, what in the world's the matter 
with you?" 

When this question was put, they were passing Holy 
Trinity Church. 

"Suppose we walk in here for a moment," said 
Harry, "and say a little prayer, first, that you may 
get the medal, second, that I may not, in any case," 

"I'll not agree to that," cried Dick warmly. "What 



A POINT OF HONOR 65 

do you take me for? Fll pray that either you or I 
may get it." 

''Look here, Dick Stuart," said Harry, catching his 
companion's arm in a grip that was painful, and lower- 
ing his voice to a whisper, "you and I have been 
partners for the last four or five weeks, haven't we?" 

*'Yes," assented Dick, struggling not to wince under 
Harry's grip. 

"And I like you better than any fellow I have ever 
met, and I believe you like me " 

"Better than any fellow I've ever met," broke in 
Dick. 

"Well now, if you want to do me a favor, pray that 
I may not get the medal." 

"All right, Harry — ^that is, I won't pray that you 
may get it." 

"But you must pray that I don't." 

"Very well; but I fear I won't want to be heard. 
Anyhow, I don't understand." 

"I don't want you to understand," returned Harry, 
"but pray for all you're worth." 

The two then entered the church. 



II 



The moment had come for which Dick had been so 
eagerly and Harry so anxiously waiting. They were 
seated next each other, Dick's right hand clasped in 
Harry's left — "that's nearest my heart," Harry had 
said. 

"The gold medal for the scientific essay, subject 
'Oxygen,' is awarded to Henry Liscombe; honorably 
mentioned, Richard Stuart." 

Harry uttered a gasp which deepened into a groan; 
his face flushed scarlet, Dick's was ashen. 

"I'm glad you've got it, Harry," he whispered. "It 



66 CANDLES^ BEAMS 

might have come hard on me, but our visit at Holy 
Trinity settled that. Why don't you go up?" 

"I can't," gasped Harry. 

Even then the Vice-President was running his eyes 
over the students to discover the whereabouts of the 
prize-winner. 

"Go on — you'll create a scene," urged Dick. 

"Is Harry Liscombe present?" the Vice-President 
inquired, so modulating his voice that it might reach 
only the students directly in front of the stage. 

Then Harry arose and, amid generous applause, re- 
ceived the medal. 

But instead of returning to his seat he made his 
way down the haJl and, once outside the door, dashed 
down the stairs and into the street, on reaching which 
his first act was to tear the medal from his coat. 

"Oh, what shall I do ?" he cried out. 'Tm a thief, 
and not only a thief, but I've robbed my be^ friend !" 

Ill 

Three months before commencement, Harry had 
gone to his room in a very bad humor. His father 
and he had had a slight misunderstanding; or, to 
put it better, they had come to an understanding. 
Harry, on that particular day, was for going to a 
show. 

"Have you finished your scientific essay?" Mr. Lis- 
combe asked. 

"No, father; I haven't begun it. The fact is, I 
don't care about competing." 

"Indeed! Why not?" 

"Oh, I don't care about it. I'm all right in my other 
studies but I'm not up in science. Besides, I'm the 
youngest boy in the chemistry class, and I don't stand 
the least chance." 



A POINT OF HONOR 67 

"I'm sorry you don't care, Harry; but at the same 
time I do care very much. You are hardly a little boy 
now, and your not caring about this or that is only 
a pleasant way of saying that you are lazy. Now, 
my boy, I told you some months ago that I wanted 
you to compete for that gold medal, and I thought 
my wish would be enough." 

"I intended to go in for it, father." 

"You always mean well, Harry, I'm sure; but you 
must do well, too. Now, put the show out of your 
head, go to your room and begin your essay. The 
show is to be here for a week yet. When you've 
finished your essay, come to me." 

Harry obeyed, but smarted under the obedience. 

Sitting down at his study table, he ran his fingers 
through his hair, took up a lead pencil, which he 
sharpened with elaborate care, and finally began his 
uncongenial task with such glittering generalities on 
oxygen as might be expected of a tolerably well-read 
lad of fifteen. Within ten minutes he had composed 
quite a fair introduction, which, after the manner of 
youthful writers, was general, sweeping and vague. 
Then Harry came to a pause. To go further, accurate 
knowledge must be brought into play; to get this ac- 
curate knowledge meant hours of study. Harry had 
come to an intellectual deadlock. He sighed, threw 
his pencil savagely upon the table and began pacing 
the floor. His brow was furrowed, his hair stood 
up in a variety of directions — he looked like a student 
on the eve of some great discovery. As a matter of 
fact, his mind was a blank. 

"May I come in?" said a light voice without. 

"Yes; do please, Mary. I'm in the depths." 

His sister, a girl of seventeen, entered. 

"Why, Harry, what has happened? Is it an in- 
spiration? Has an idea come to you?" 



68 CANDLES' BEAMS 

"No, Mary, it's the other way. All my ideas have 
left me." 

''Oh, it's much the same. What's the trouble?" 

"Father says I've got to write that old scientific 
essay about oxygen. I've scribbled off an introduc- 
tion; but I don't see how I can go a single sentence 
further." 

"Oh, is it about oxygen, Harry?" 

"Yes, it is; and I wish I'd never heard of the old 
stuff." 

"I've got just what you want. There's an odd num- 
ber of a scientific magazine in my room with a fine 
article on 'The Air.' Most of it is about oxygen." 

"You have ! That will save me hours of running 
through text-books. Mary, you're the right kind of 
a sister — " 

"Which means that you want me to run off and gei 
you the magazine." 

Harry grinned. 

"I didn't intend to put it so — so — " 

"Brutally," suggested Mary. 

"Exactly. But if you bring it to me, I'll fix up that 
essay in a jiffy, and then I'll take you to the show." 

Curiously enough, this young lady was not insensible 
to the charms of a show. She hastened away and re- 
turned promptly with the coveted magazine, and then 
left her brother to his solitude. 

Harry read the article carefully, slapped his thigh 
at the end, and cried out: 

"Just the thing to a dot ; it's short and clear." 

Having given the article a second reading, he com- 
posed himself to his work, and, not without labor, 
wrote a few sentences. But the words failed to come 
readily, and, in a fit of impatience, he began to copy 
word for word from the printed page. To do Harry 
justice, he was not thinking of securing the gold 



A POINT OF HONOR 69 

medal. His one point was to get the disagreeable task 
off his hands, and so go to the show. Copying he 
found to be quite an easy matter. In a few hours he 
had, with some judicious and time-saving omissions, 
transferred the portion bearing upon oxygen from the 
magazine to his paper. Then he threw in a few cheap 
flourishes by way of conclusion, and signed his 
pseudonym. Strangely enough, his conscience, mean- 
time, was practically asleep. It never once occurred 
to him that his essay might gain the medal. 

In due time he handed it in; in due time he went 
with his sister to the show; of the latter he retained 
vivid recollections, but his essay slipped from his 
memory almost as though it had not been. 

Some five or six weeks before commencement, his 
intimacy with Dick Stuart began. Morally, Dick was 
a character strong and sweet. He was studious, con- 
scientious, kind, just. In his company Harry's dor- 
mant cdnscience soon began to show signs of an 
awakening. Dick's sense of honor communicated it- 
self to Harry; and, as the days went by, the voice 
of conscience became imperative. Finally, two weeks 
before the ending of the school year, Harry went to the 
Vice-President. 

"Father," he said, "I should be obliged to you, if 
you were to allow me to withdraw my scientific essay." 

The Vice-President was unusually busy at the time; 
he failed to observe the distress in the boy's face. 

"Too late, Harry," he said, checking off the names 
of late-comers as he spoke. "Ever)rthing has been 
settled already." 

Harry withdrew with a lighter heart; he had done 
something, at any rate, and as to getting the medal, 
the thought had not as yet entered his head. 

But when on commencement night Dick Stuart gave 
word to his hopes and fears, it flashed upon Harry that 



70 CANDLES' BEAMS 

his own borrowed essay would in all likelihood be con- 
sidered the better of the two. It was a sickening mo- 
ment. When the prize was awarded him his feeUngs 
were agonizing. A thief! robbing his best friend of 
an honor so well earned, and, in consequence, of a 
trip upon which depended, in all probability, the use- 
fulness of a promising and beautiful life. 

Harry hurried home from the hall, locked himself 
in his room, and gazed about him wildly. His eye 
rested, at last, upon his little brother sleeping peace- 
fully, his slender hands clasped above the white cover- 
let, the beads of the Blessed Virgin about his neck. 
Long and intently Harry gazed. There was not a line, 
nor a wrinkle, nor shade of trouble upon the sleeper's 
face. Peace and purity and love seemed to have set 
their gracious signet upon every feature. He looked 
as an angel might look, were it to take a human form. 
Truth and simplicity and innocence lent a spiritual 
beauty to the sleeping child. Three years ago the gazer 
had been just such a one as his little brother — and 
now Harry burst into tears. The first passionate out- 
break of grief was very soon over, but it left him upon 
his knees; and there he knelt far into the night. 

IV 

On the next morning Harry took his father aside. 

"Father, you intended to give me a trip East didn't 
you?" 

"Yes, Harry; your mother and sister and uncle are 
to start for New York on July 6, and you are to go 
with them. You deserve a trip, my boy," he added 
kindly and with a beaming smile. 

"No, father; I do not. I want you to let me off 
that trip." 



A POINT OF HONOR 71 

Mr. Liscombe looked sharply at his boy and saw 
that there was a great trouble upon him. 

"What's the matter, Harry?" 

"I've done something that I'm ashamed of, father. 
Don't ask me about it now. I'll tell you some day. 
First of all, I want to make reparation. I need money 
for that." 

There was a dimness in Harry's eyes, and, as he 
spoke, a sigh broke from him which he could not re- 
press. Mr. Liscombe had fine tact. He respected the 
soul of his boy. He knew that there were recesses 
there into which God alone might penetrate uninvited. 

*T trust you fully, Harry. You can tell me or not — 
as you please, and when you please." 

Harry never so loved his father as he loved him at 
this moment. He said nothing; but his silence was 
eloquent. 

"How much money do you want, Harry?" 

"It's a big sum, father." 

"First of all, I make you a present of the money 
your Eastern trip would have required — say, one hun- 
dred and twenty dollars." 

"Thank you, father; but I need about eighty dol- 
lars more." 

"Very good; call down at my office today, and it 
shall be paid you in any way you want it." 

"But, father, if you please, I should like to earn 
that eighty dollars. I've done wrong, and I'd like to 
do a little penance. Let me go to work." 

Mr. Liscombe paused before replying. 

"Well, I'd like to think over that. I want my boy 
to have a rest. I'll turn the matter over in my min(4, 
and let you know my conclusion later. Call for thi 
money this afternoon, and then perhaps I may be ready 
to decide as to whether you shouk- go to work or not." 



n CANDLES' BEAMS 

In the course of the hour the President of St. 
Dunstan's college heard a knock at his door. 

"Come in," he cried, carefully slipping a sheet of 
paper over the open pages of a magazine which he 
had been reading with knitted brows. 

"Ah, Harry," he exclaimed, "I was just thinking 
of you." 

"Father," said Harry, panting and blushing, "let me 
get it out at once. Here's that gold medal. I stole 
it. It isn't mine." 

"Sit down, Harry, and tell me all about it." 

The American boy is delightfully frank. Harry, in 
truth, delivered a plain unvarnished tale. 

"One question, Harry," said the President gently, 
on Harry's coming to a pause. "When you copied 
from this — " here the President slipped away the paper 
and revealed the magazine open at one of the pages 
from which Harry had copied — "did you do so with 
the intention of winning the medal?" 

"No, sir," cried Harry. 

"But didn^t it occur to you that you might win it?" 

"No, Father ; the only thing I had on my mind was 
to get that essay off and go to the show." 

The President smiled. 

"Harry, you've taken a great weight off my mind. 
Just a moment ago I was tempted to judge you 
harshly. It shocked me to think that one whose name 
for honor stood so high should deliberately cheat for 
a prize. But your explanation takes away the worst 
feature, and your confession makes up for much. If 
you had copied with the intention of getting the medal, 
then you would indeed be a thief. But you had not 
even in a confused and obscure way such an inten- 
tion." 

"That's true, Father, but all the same I've done a 
great wrong. As a matter of fact, I have the honor 



A POINT OF HONOR 73 

which belongs to Dick Stuart. I can't make up for 
that." 

*'No; you can never make up for that," said the 
President gravely, "and it is well that you should 
realize it. I think, Harry, that God has been watching 
over you in a special way. Had you not gained that 
medal, 3^our sense of honor would have been blunted; 
had you gained it, but not over one who happens to 
be your best friend and to need it very much, you 
might have stifled your conscience and gone on in a 
path which certainly would not be the one which your 
father, a man of stainless honor, has followed. But 
now, on the very threshold of dishonor, you are driven 
back. Harry, you have reason to thank God. Show 
your thankfulness by resolving, from now on, never 
to do the least thing tainted with even the suspicion 
of dishonor." 

"I do resolve, sir," said Harry, very erect and very 
earnest. "I see it all. God has been very good to 
me. And now I'm going down to my father. I'll 
give him the whole story straight." 

"Do, my boy; and I doubt not that out of this evil 
God will draw great good." 

Harry went away happy. His father took the mat- 
ter as the President had taken it. He congratulated 
his son on his courage in confessing. 

"Now in regard to your working, Harry," con- 
tinued Mr. Liscombe, "I've come to the conclusion 
that you are right. You should make reparation. I 
already know all about Dick Stuart, and I happen to 
have the address of his rich uncle, who does business 
with me. And now I want you to write the uncle 
a confidential letter, confessing your fault and en- 
closing the two hundred dollars." 

"Oh, I see!" cried Harry in delight. "I am to get 
the uncle to give Dick the trip, just as if he had 



74 CANDLES' BEAMS 

gained the medal, so that Dick won't know Fve any- 
thing to do with it." 

''Exactly, and " 

But Mr. Liscombe paused. Harry had flown to a 
desk, seized paper and pen and begun writing furious- 

ly- 

"Oh, I say, father, what about that job?" cried 
Harry, stopping in the middle of the letter. 

''It's secret service." 

"What's that, sir?" 

"You're to go to Waukesha too. Your work is to 
make Dick Stuart happy for two months." 

As Harry here spilled a bottle of ink over the desk 
the conversation was interrupted. 

"If you wish to express your happiness, go out- 
side," continued Mr. Liscombe. "Well, it's a good 
work for you. You are a cheerful young man, and 
you have a knack for keeping young Stuart on the 
go, which no one else has. Your services will be as 
good as the doctor's, and since you have wronged 
your friend in one way, you must right him in an- 
other." 

Dick and Harry had a jolly time. Harry was as 
successful a nurse, I dare say, as ever accompanied a 
patient to Waukesha. 

Dick returned the picture of health; Harry returned 
the soul of honor. Dick is healthy and strong to this 
day ; and Harry is — and, I trust, ever will be — a knight 
without fear and without reproach. 



ROUND CHRISTMAS 

FOOTLIGHTS 



ROUND CHRISTMAS 
FOOTLIGHTS 

I. THE STORY OF DAVID 

^^/^H, Mr. Murdock, the angel told me to tell you 
V>/ that he can't come to rehearsal today, because 
he's got a black eye." 

"Go and get him anyhow," said Mr. Murdock, in 
decided tones; "an angel with a black eye can an- 
nounce the good tidings just as well as not. Tell him 
that the author of the play is here and is anxious to 
see the whole rehearsal." 

Harry Verdin, who had just delivered the angel's 
health bulletin, glanced curiously at the stranger, who, 
it appeared, was the playwright, and then sped away 
skippingly in quest of the recalcitrant angel, while the 
four remaining young gentlemen stared hard and art- 
lessly at the blushing author. 

It was three days before Christmas. For several 
weeks Mr. Murdock had been training six little lads 
of his class to perform a simple drama, called "The 
Meeting at Bethlehem." To understand the events 
which I propose to relate, some idea of the plot must 
be given. 

This is the argument as it appeared on the pro- 
gram : 

The play supposes that on the night of the Nativity 
the Babe of Bethlehem calls to His side not only the 
shepherds, but also some innocent children. 

A Jewish lad and his lame brother, led by the 

77 



7d> CANDLES' BEAMS 

mysterious influence of a star, have reached a spot 
near the stable of Bethlehem. The charmed stillness 
of the night, the songs of angels in the midnight air, 
the apparition of Uriel — all combine to impress upon 
their minds that something divine has happened, or 
is about to happen. This surmise is confirmed by two 
lads, one a Greek, the other a Roman, who have come 
directly from the crib of Bethlehem, and who declare 
that they have just seen God in the form of an In- 
fant. Despite the incredulity of his two companions, 
Ariel, the young cripple, believes, makes an act of 
faith in the divinity of the Child, and straightway 
leaps up cured. 

Presently the hatred which the Jewish youths had 
thus far shown the Gentiles is dissipated, and urged 
on by the persuasions of the little Ariel, who seems 
to have caught at once the spirit of peace and good 
will which Christ newly born had brought to earth, 
]the children effect a reconciliation and depart, at the 
message of the angel Uriel, to adore the Word In- 
carnate. 

DRAMATIS PERSONS 

Benoni, ) Master Harry Verdin. 
Ariel, > Jews *' Clarence Collingwood. 

Manahan,) " George Ring. 

Uriel^ an angel " David Reade. 

Faustinus I Qentiles " Thomas Farrar. 

Aristos ) " John Steele. 

Mr. Murdock, the young scholastic who had under- 
taken the production of this play, was a character 
worthy of study. His influence over boys, whether 
large or small, was extraordinary. The secret of this 
influence it was hard to find. He was reticent, quiet, 
and, it would seem, most unobservant. He appeared 



ROUND CHRISTMAS FOOTLIGHTS 79 

to know little or nothing about his boys. And yet he 
frequently brought things to rights without seeming 
to know that anything had been wrong. 

To give an instance. Early in the school year Mr. 
Murdock was explaining the formation of the Latin 
verb. 

"There are four conjunctions in Latin," he was 
saying. "The first is determined by the fact that the 
present infinive ends in are, as ainare, to love; the 
second has the infinitive in ere long, as delere, to de- 
stroy ; the third has the infinitive in ere short — " 

Just then a "Giant" fire-cracker exploded. There 
was a promise of great confusion, as a dozen youths 
started from their seats. Mr. Murdock's hand went 
out with a gesture which settled them all back again. 

"As," he continued, still holding the gesture, 
'^explodere, to explode." 

And then the boys could not make up their minds 
as to whether the teacher had borrowed his example 
from the event or not. With their sharp, eager, young 
eyes, they scanned his face to see whether a laugh 
would be in order. But Mr. Murdock's face could 
express anything or nothing, as he pleased ; and on 
this occasion it expressed nothing. Before they could 
resolve their doubts, the teacher went on with his re- 
marks ; and for three days after it was held by certain 
of the class that Mr. Murdock had not noticed the 
explosion at all. 

Mr. Murdock was a man of power. 

The young gentleman who had set off the fire- 
cracker, though mystified, was not crushed. He had 
been sent to college against his will, and he had made 
up his mind to make it unpleasant for his teacher. 
After the fire-cracker episode he stuck the nib of a 
pen in his desk, and, at convenient, and, in his judg- 



80 CANDLES' BEAMS 

ment, safe intervals, extracted archaic music from it 
by flipping it with his thumb-nail. 

The sound was clear and distinct, yet everyone was 
certain that Mr. Murdock failed to hear it. 

Presently the musician gave up in disgust. Then 
he took from his pocket a tiny pill-box filled with the 
heads of matches, and, with the circumspection char- 
acteristic of such youths, scattered them along the 
aisle between the rows of benches. And so, when 
recess time came, most of the boys went off with a 
report. 

During the hour after recess, this disorderly lad 
hummed, at first like a blue-bottle fly, but, meeting 
with no attention, finally with a view to harmonic ef- 
fects. His rendition of "Annie Laurie," though de- 
fective in the matter of time, was, upon the whole, 
melodious. 

Everybody, apparently, save Mr. Murdock, lis- 
tened with wonder. 

By dinner-time it was held, as a probable opinion, 
that Mr. Murdock was losing his hearing. 

At noon the young scapegrace, instead of going 
directly to the lunch-room, sauntered alone into the 
yard. His movements lacked the vivacity which should 
distinguish his tender age. There were two reasons 
for this lack of vivacity: First, he was debating 
whether Mr. Murdock was preternaturally foolish or 
supernaturally wise. 

Secondly — • 

"David," came a voice from a window looking out 
upon the yard, "why aren't you at lunch?" 

"Because, sir, I forgot to bring my lunch-basket." 
Which was the second reason for his lack of vivacity. 

"Come in here, David, I want to see you," con- 
tinued Mr. Murdock, with a smile. With vivacity re- 
duced to nil, David obeyed. 



ROUND CHRISTMAS FOOTLIGHTS 81 

"He's found me out," David soliloquized with a 
gloomy brow, *'and now Fm going to catch it." 

**Come in, David; it's a lucky thing that I have 
some cakes and fruit to-day. I found them in my room 
when I came from class. Some friend left them here, 
but forgot to leave his name. Sit down and eat what 
you can; then take a rest and eat some more." 

David put himself on the defensive at once. 

"I don't want anything, sir, thank you." 

"I hear, David," continued the professor, not seem- 
ing to notice the answer, "that your mamma is sick." 

"Yes, sir," said David softening — what lad will not 
soften when he thinks of his mother? — "she's down 
with fever." 

"I'm so sorry. Tell her that I'm coming to see 
her as soon as I can make time. I met your mother 
at the beginning of the year, and I liked her. You 
see, David, she was so fond of you." 

"Thank you, sir," said David, softening still more, 
and becoming polite in spite of himself. "She often 
talks of you, sir." 

"And how is your little sister?" continued Mr. 
Murdock. 

"First rate, sir; she sings all day." 

"Does she sing Annie Laurie?" 

Dave shot a look at Mr. Murdock. There was noth- 
ing in the teacher's face but an expression of kindli- 
est interest. 

"Yes, sir; she's always singing Scotch airs." 

"They are my favorites, too," said Mr. Murdock, 
as he rummaged in his desk. "Here," he continued, 
"is a picture of St. Cecilia for Ella. Tell her that St. 
Cecilia is the patron of music." 

"Thank you, sir," said Dave with a bow. 

"And now, Dave, sit down and eat." 

Dave yielded this point. 



82 CANDLES' BEAMS 

"How do you like going to school here?" continued 
Mr. Murdock, as Dave began with a huge orange. 

"I don't like it at all," answered Dave, determined 
to make another struggle against being carried away 
by this stream of kindness. 

"Don't you? Where did you go to school before 
you came here?" 

"To a public school — the Stoddard — I went there 
for three years and I liked it, and I want to go back 
again." 

Dave finished his orange with a look of disgust, and 
taking up another, peeled it, with tragic gloom upon 
his countenance. 

"I don't wonder that you want to go back," con- 
tinued Mr. Murdock. "If I were in your place, I sup- 
pose I should feel just the same way myself." 

Dave forgot to scowl as he stared at his teacher. 

"There are nice boys going to the Stoddard," Mr. 
Murdock added. 

"You bet there are!" said Dave emphatically. 

"Precisely ; and you've come to like them very much, 
and you don't care about being separated from your 
old playfellows." 

"That's just it," cried Dave with enthusiasm; "all 
my chums go to that school." 

"I don't blame you a bit for feeling bad, Dave. It's 
a sign that you have a good heart. If you were a cruel 
and selfish boy, you wouldn't mind. But, if you wait 
for a while, you will find that there are some good 
boys going here. After a few months you will have 
many friends, and then you won't mind, and you will 
be happy; and, best of all, you'll please your mother, 
who is so anxious for you to attend school here." 

"I didn't think of it that way," said Dave, attack- 
ing a third orange, and smiling radiantly. 

"Try to think of it. And another thing, Dave; 



ROUND CHRISTMAS FOOTLIGHTS 83 

don't complain about school while your mother is ill. 
If she thinks that you are unhappy she will be un- 
happy too. You see she is such a fond mother." 

'Til not say another word till she's well. Say, 
these oranges are immense." 

"Take another." 

"I think I will." 

And he did. Then he turned to the apples, and 
finally consented to regale himself with a huge slice 
of fruit cake. 

"And now, Dave," said Mr. Murdock, laying a hand 
on the lad's shoulders and walking with him to the 
door, "next time you go to the chapel say a 'Hail 
Mary' for me, please. That will more than pay me 
for this lunch." 

Dave went straight to the chapel, said the "Hail 
Mary" and many other prayers. It was the first time 
since coming to college that he had paid such a visit. 
He prayed well, for he was softened and humbled. 
Dave was not a bad boy; but, if he had been, I dare 
say he would have come away justified. Dave was 
conquered. 

He was also a very sick boy that night ; but that has 
nothing to do with this story. 

Now Dave was the angel with the black eye. 

II. THE UNDRESS REHEARSAL 

The angel, holding a hand over his right eye, came 
clattering in with: "Where's the man who wrote this 
play?" 

The playwright almost blushed as several tiny fingers 
were pointed at him. 

"Why didn't you give me more to say?" demanded 
the angel with a conciliatory smile. 

"All you've got to do," remarked Cecil Colling- 



84 CANDLES' BEAMS 

wood, the cripple of the play, *'is to try and look pretty ; 
and it will be hard enough for you to do that/' 

"What's the matter with your eye?'^ queried the 
author. 

"It's blacked; I got it in a foot-ball rush; but I 
made five yards on that eye, and the fellow who gave 
it to me didn't have any wind in him when I got off 
him." 

In his tones there were sorrow for the eye, triumph 
for the windlessness of its giver. 

The angel here took Cecil Collingwood aside, and 
said, pointing with his crescent thumb at the author : — 

"Gee; he doesn't look like a man that writes plays." 

"How do men look that write plays?" asked Cecil 
with interest. 

"Oh, they look— they look different. Say, Mr. Mur- 
dock, how do you expect a fellow to talk with a black 
eye?" 

"It's not impossible," said the trainer. "Some 
people use their eyes too much when they talk." 

"Say, Dave," whispered Cecil, reverting to the 
author, "he looks amiable." 

"I'll bet our teacher could write a better play if 
he wanted to," returned the angel. "What's the sense 
of one angel? Our teacher would have turned out 
fifty." 

The playwright, meantime, was watching the boys. 
He noticed that they divided into two groups. These 
groups changed constantly, and yet Harry Verdin and 
Tommy Farrar were never seen together. They were 
all lively youngsters, and rattled away boy-fashion, 
with an occasional interchange of pokes and digs, and 
the throwing about of hats and caps. They were 
quite natural. 

At length the rehearsal was begun. Verdin, as 
Benoni, helped his crippled brother Ariel to a seat 



ROUND CHRISTMAS FOOTLIGHTS 85 

upon what was supposed to be a stone, and the two 
fell to talking of the strange and beautiful night. 

They had not gone far in the dialogue when Tommy 
Farrar seated himself beside the one spectator. 

"Say, mister," he began with a friendly smile, "are 
you going to write any more plays?" 

"Perhaps," was the modest answer. 

"Well, if you do, bring in a lot of Indians." 

"How are you getting along with this play?" 

"Pretty well; I'm the Roman youth, and Fve got 
to come on and tell Verdin, the fellow that plays 
Benoni, that I have seen the Infant Saviour born in a 
stable, and that He has come to bring peace. I tell 
him the Babe is the Messiah. Verdin's an old Jew, 
you know, and won't believe. He hates me because 
I'm a Roman, and when I offer to shake hands he 
refuses, the old Sheeny! After a while his little 
brother, Ariel, who is a pious little Jew, gets cured 
by a miracle, and then Benoni apologizes to me for 
having been so rude, and we become friends. I don't 
like to act with Verdin." 

"Why?" 

"Oh, nothing." 

The angel now seated himself next to Tommy, and 
hinted that the play would not be "near so dead" if 
the writer had introduced a foot-ball game. 

"Where's that angel ?" called out Mr. Murdock from 
behind the scenes. "Come on here, angel, and do your 
part." 

The angel hopped upon the stage, and with heavy 
and long strides advanced to the middle. Benoni, 
Ariel and Manahan fell upon their knees. 

"Oh, Mr. Angel," cried kneeling Cecil Collingwood, 
clasping his hands, and turning his blue eyes first upon 
the angel, and then seraphically towards heaven, "What 
a beautiful black eye you've got." 



86 CANDLES' BEAMS 

"Behold," bellowed the angel, glaring savagely at 
Cecil, ''I bring you tidings of great joy — stop your 
monkeying, will you, Cecil Collingwood, or it will 
be the worse for you — say, Mr. Murdock, I can't act 
with a black eye." 

*'If there were angels like you in heaven," observed 
the unruffled trainer, "I shouldn't care about going 
there. Try that scene over. Take shorter and slower 
steps, and don't announce the joyful tidings as though 
you were preaching a sermon on hell." 

After five painful efforts, the angel succeeded in 
satisfying the patient Mr. Murdock. 

The play now proceeded briskly, the quarrel scene 
between Verdin and Farrar being really good. 

But when the time of reconciliation arrived, the 
action became at once unsatisfactory. Manahan, it 
is true, and Aristos clasped hands cordially, and with 
great naturalness. But Benoni and Faustinus did not 
shake hands at all. They made a feint; their hands 
drew close together, but there was no clasp. Their 
cordiality was congealed. 

"Mr. Murdock," said the author, "this thing won't 
do at all. Farrar and Verdin haven't the least idea 
of their parts. They've missed the spirit of it alto- 
gether." 

"Have they?" 

"Of course ; didn't you notice that they did not shake 
hands?" 

"Didn't they?" 

"You must have noticed it. The reconciliation was 
the iciest thing I ever witnessed." 

Mr. Murdock paused for a moment. 

"Let it go for the present," he said: "I think it 
will be all right." 

The author went away vexed. 

"I'm going to get a mill-stone," he muttered, "and 



ROUND CHRISTMAS FOOTLIGHTS 87 

I shall try to find out whether Mr. Murdock can dis- 
cover the hole." 

For he had seen at a glance that Verdin and Farrar 
were not on speaking terms. 

As a matter of fact, these two young gentlemen had 
not spoken in many months. 

"Isn't it queer that Mr. Murdock has never noticed 
the way those two fellows look at each other in differ- 
ent directions ?" the angel had commented. "There are 
some things Mr. Murdock doesn't notice at all." 

But two rehearsals were remaining before the pubHc 
performance, and yet Mr. Murdock, despite the bad 
showing, went his way quite contentedly. 

How much did he know? 

There was no man who could have answered that 
question. 

III. THE QUARREL 

Sing, O my Muse, the wrath of Tommy Farrar 
against Harry, son of John Verdin, wholesale hard- 
ware merchant, which impeded the progress of the 
Christmas play, and promised to set so many things 
awry. 

Pius X. had a great deal to Ho with this quarrel. 

Shortly after Tommy Farrar was newly breeched, 
he was sent to the boys' department of St. Vincent's 
Academy, and seated next to his intimate friend, 
Harry Verdin. They got on together nicely for some 
time. One day, however, in a burst of youthful 
vanity, Verdin said to Farrar : — 

"Oh, you ought to go out West ; then you'd be brave. 
I've been out West, and I've seen real Indians with 
their paint on." 

"Did they have tomahawks?" 

"Of course, and pipes of peace. And one of them 
shook hands with me. You never shook hands with 



88 CANDLES' BEAMS 

an Indian. If you were to see a real live Indian, you'd 
run for your life." 

As Verdin was speaking Farrar's face had lighted 
up. 

"Pshaw/' he said, "Talk about shaking hands with 
an Indian! I've done better than that — I've kissed the 
Pope !" 

"What!" cried Verdin. 

"That's just what. When I was about four years 
old, mamma and papa took me to Europe. We went 
to see the Pope, who lives there, and he was all in 
white, and was smiling. Mamma and papa knelt down, 
and kissed his slipper. Then mamma told me to kneel 
down too. I was only a baby, you know, and didn't 
have any sense ; and so I began to pout. Then mamma 
got red in the face, and looked awful scared, especially 
when I said: T won't kiss the Pope's toe.' Then 
the Pope laughed and caught me in his arms, and 
raised me to his face, and kissed me; and then / 
kissed him back, and don't you forget it, Harry Verdin, 
/ kissed the Pope back. And he looked so kind and 
good, that when he set me down I got on my knees 
on my own account and kissed both his toes. And 
mamma says that when I got up the Pope blessed me 
with tears in his eyes. Talk about shaking hands 
with an Indian — pshaw!" 

Verdin mastered his astonishment, and said: — 

"Maybe it's as much to shake hands with an Indian 
as to kiss the Pope." 

"What!" bawled Farrar, "Harry Verdin, you're a 
heathen and a republican !" 

"I'm as good a Catholic as you are." 

"You're not; a boy who talks about an Indian as if 
he were Pope, ought to be fired out of the Church. 
I'm going to ask Sister about it." And Farrar rushed 
over to Sister Mary in great excitement. 



ROUND CHRISTMAS FOOTLIGHTS 89 

"Sister, Harry Verdin says he'd rather shake hands 
with an Indian than kiss the Pope." 

*T didn't say any such thing," sputtered Harry, "I 
said maybe." 

"Sister, which is right?" pursued Farrar. 

"It's a greater privilege even to see the Pope than 
to shake hands with the greatest Indian chief on the 
plains." 

For the remainder of that year Harry felt that there 
was something wanting in his life. O, for a chance 
to kiss the Pope. Alas, his baby days were over. 

In the summer following Harry went to Europe. He 
was gone for two months. On reaching home he 
hastened at once to Tommy's house, and burst into 
his friend's room in a glow of excitement. 

"How are you Tommy?" he bawled, as he caught 
Farrar's hand. "I'm even with you now; I've been to 
Europe, and kissed the Blarney Stone. Yah! Talk 
about kissing the Pope. Kissing the Blarney Stone is 
out of sight." 

Tommy was so rejoiced to see his chum after their 
long separation, that he allowed the question to pass 
for the present. 

But it came up again — in season and out of season. 
Tom and Harry gave some thought and much voice 
to their varying views, and, as commonly happens, the 
more they discussed the matter the more each became 
fixed in his own opinion. 

Ojne day they fell upon the vexed question in the 
presence of some of their school-mates. Their audi- 
tors seemed to exercise an irritating influence. From 
words they came to blows, and when they were at 
length separated, Tom had a swollen lip and Harry a 
bleeding nose. 

From that day they went no more together, and 
when they chanced to meet they passed on with averted 



90 CANDLES' BEAMS 

faces. Many months had gone by; together they 
went from school to college, and yet the breach was 
wide as ever. 

Then they found themselves obliged to face each 
other day after day in preparation for the Christmas 
performance. 

IV. DETECTED IN KINDNESS 

At six o'clock on Christmas eve, Harry Verdin was 
seated at the supper table. Contrary to his custom he 
ate with much deliberation. He gave a sigh of relief 
as his brother Louie left the table; another, as his 
little sister followed suit. Then he looked wistfully 
at Alice, his senior by two years. She was dawdling, 
according to her amiable wont, and evidently in no 
hurry. 

*T say, Alice," he at length remarked in a burst of 
inspiration; "did you see my costume for the play to- 
morrow night ?" 

"No; has it come?" asked Alice breathlessly. 

"It's a bird/' said Harry solemnly. "I've spread 
it on my bed; but as soon as I'm through my sup- 
per, I'm going to take it down to the college, to put 
it—" 

There was no need of finishing the sentence ; Alice 
had disappeared, and the sounds of a very hasty up- 
stairs going were unmistakable. 

"Pa and ma," began Harry impressively, "I'm going 
to confession right after supper." 

As his parents were prepared for this step, they 
evinced no surprise. 

"And I'm going to turn over a new leaf," he 
added. 

"That's good, my dear," his mother observed. 

"I've been going wrong for a lon^ time," 



ROUND CHRISTMAS FOOTLIGHTS 91 

Mr. and Mrs. Verdin looked at their son with 
awakening interest. 

*The reason I'm telling you all this is because I want 
your help. I'm in a box. You see it's this way: 
Tommy Farrar and I had a fight ever so long ago." 

"I remember the fact distinctly/' said Mr. Verdin. 

^'I can see your face now, as it looked after that 
quarrel, my dear/' added the mother. 

"Yes ; but there's something that you don't know. 
Ever since that fight Tommy and I have not been on 
speaking terms." 

Mrs. Verdin looked meaningly at Mr. Verdin; his 
eyes were fixed upon the table-cloth. 

*'That was wrong, Harry," said Mr. Verdin, in a 
constrained voice. 

"I guess so, sir.; but I managed some way or other 
to keep my conscience a-going all the same till lately. 
You see Tommy and I act together in this Christmas 
play, where all the talk is about peace and good-will 
and brotherly love. It says that Christ was born to 
draw us all together, and make us all brothers. Then 
there's a part where Tom and I have to shake hands 
and change from enemies to friends. We can't do that 
part a little bit. At first I didn't mind the play. But 
the more I practiced the more I felt that if Christ 
came to bring peace and love, I was a pretty poor 
sort of a Christian. The last few days I haven't felt 
as though I could go to Communion, unless I made 
up with Tommy. So I've got to do it, and I want 
you to help me." 

Mrs. Verdin rose from her place, and kissed her 
boy; there was a suspicious film in her eyes, 

"Harry," said the father in tones at once soft and 
strange, *T shall be glad to help you in any way I 
can. It is wrong and sad for little boys to cherish 
spites." 



92 CANDLES' BEAMS 

"It isn't spite, exactly, I think, papa. I still like 
Tom first rate; but I don't care about trying to make 
up. I'm ashamed to. Now here's the way I'm going 
to get out of it. I want to make Tom a Christmas 
present; a silver watch would be just the thing. Most 
of the fellows in our class have watches. I know 
from some of the other fellows that Tom is awful 
anxious to get one. He was expecting one all along 
this Christmas ; the angel — '* 

"I beg your pardon?" put in Mr. Verdin. 

"I mean Dave Reade, you know. He plays an 
angel, and we call him by that nickname because he's 
so unlike an angel. Well, Dave told me that Tom 
was blue because his mother told him he couldn't get 
his watch just yet." 

Mr. Verdin took a roll of bills from his pocket, 
and counted out a sum that made Harry's eyes dance. 

Harry took the money, and disappeared. He should 
have made a speech of thanks; but the fact is he did 
not. And yet neither father nor mother noticed the 
omission. 

*'My dear," said Mrs. Verdin, "Harry has unwit- 
tingly read you a sermon." 

"I don't see that; with Harry and Tom the whole 
cause of their quarrel was a bit of foolishness. But 
with Tommy's father and myself it is a serious case — 
a matter of justice. I'm not going to pay that man's 
bills. According to my view, the debt is wholly his. 
He called me a swindler — I can't forget that." 

"But, dear, he has arguments on his side; he thinks 
you're in the wrong, and so do some of your best 
friends. Besides, even if he did call you a swindler, 
he was very much excited ; and you hinted that he, your 
life-long friend, was a thief." 

"So he is — pretty near it, at least, according to my 
way of looking at it. At any rate the thing has gone 



ROUND CHRISTMAS FOOTLIGHTS 93 

too far ; I can't come down with any self-respect from 
the position I took; and I know that he won't give in. 
So there's an end of it." 

"Your case is much the same as Harry's then. Harry 
admitted that he couldn't bring himself to try to make 
up. It's a question of pride. You told me the other 
day that Mr. Farrar is now in financial difficulties. It 
will be a sad Christmas for him. His money is going, 
and he has lost his life-long friend." 

"It was his own fault," said Mr. Verdin in harsh 
tones. "If it were not for our quarrel, I would help 
him in a minute." 

"And yet, dear," said Mrs. Verdin, in her most per- 
suasive accents, "you and he were such good friends, 
and you break up your friendship all because of a 
beggarly three hundred dollars. He is in distress 
now, John; it would be so magnanimous of you to 
make the first advances." 

Mr. Verdin took up the evening paper. 

"You don't understand business," he remarked. 

"Perhaps not ; but I do understand that in most 
quarrels both parties are in the wrong, and I also know 
that when our Saviour came upon earth. He came to 
bring peace and love to business men too." 

Mr. Verdin was now deeply engrossed in his even- 
ing paper. The wife sighed; there was no more to 
be said. 

One hour later Harry Verdin, wrapped in an ulster 
which reached far below his knickerbockers, his head 
down in protection against biting wind and stinging 
sleet, and holding in his gloved right hand a tiny pack- 
age, was making his way bravely and cheerfully toward 
Tommy Farrar's house. It was his intention to de- 
liver to the servant at the door the package, carefully 
addressed to "Tommy Farrar, with love from Harry," 
and then hurry away. As yet he dared not face 



94 CANDLES' BEAMS 

Tom. But he could easily imagine Tommy *s joy, and 
he reveled in the imagining thereof. 

"Fll bet Tom and I will be friends for life," he 
soliloquized, and absorbed in this pleasant reflection 
he sank his head lower, and went forward at a still 
livelier gait. 

He was now upon the square at the further end of 
which stood Mr. Farrar's house. The bracing walk 
had set his blood a-tingle; the prospect of Tommy's 
delight at the gift had put him into a moral glow ; in 
short, despite settling darkness, and bitter weather, 
Harry was walking in the golden sunshine of imagin- 
ation. He was also walking upon a very slippery 
sidewalk. This thought occurred to him only when 
his feet went sliding in different directions. He tried 
to recover his balance unavailingly, lurched forward 
heavily, and then would have fallen, had he not plunged 
into the arms of another youth. 

"I beg your pardon," cried Harry, readjusting him- 
self, and anxiously putting the package to his ear, *'if 
you hadn't saved me — good ! it's tickling — I might 
have — " 

Here Harry, having removed the package from his 
ear, and taken a more accurate look at his preserver, 
started back dramatically. 

In front of him, his face mantled with blushes, stood 
Tommy Farrar, apparently dreadfully ashamed of 
himself. He was hugging a large envelope to his 
bosom in a way that made him look like a disconcerted 
chicken-thief. Harry's ease of manner, too, it must 
be confessed, left much to be desired. As he stepped 
back he swept the package into the pocket of his coat, 
while rosy signals manifested themselves on a face 
already aglow from the lively tramp. 

There was a moment of silence. 

"I — er was a-going to leave something at your house," 



ROUND CHRISTMAS FOOTLIGHTS 95 

<5aid Harry at length, getting out each word as though 
it were a bucket in a well; *'but I didn't want you to 
see me/* 

"And I was going to post a card — a Christmas 
card to you," stuttered Tommy; "but I didn't mean 
you should know. Here it is; it isn't much; but it's 
the best I could do." 

"And here's the package, Tommy, and — and — we're 
friends, aren't we?" 

"Oh, Harry!" 

Then the two lads shook hands, and said some words 
which would be unintelligible on paper. 

"And now we'll be able to do our parts well, won't 
we ?" said Harry. 

"You can just bet," answered Tom. "For the last 
week I've been worrying about our quarrel. That play 
set me thinking; it seemed to be preaching at me all 
the time.'* 

"Same way with me," said Harry. 

"And then yesterday, when Mr. Murdock told us 
that the best preparation that we could make for bring- 
ing out the play well would be to get the real spirit of 
love and peace which belongs to Christmas, I made 
up my mind that Fd have to go and ask your pardon." 

"Same way with me," put in Harry, "and now I'm 
ready to go and make a stunning confession." 

"So am I, Harry; let's go off at once." 

Then arm in arm they went off to confession; and 
I doubt not that the angels rejoiced. 

V. "the play's the thing" 

Was it a bit of chance that Mr. Murdock put Mr. 
Verdin on the corner seat to the right of the main 
aisle, and Mr. Farrar on the corner to the left, and 
both in the front row? At all events it was awkward 



96 CANDLES' BEAMS 

for these gentlemen, who, when their faces were not 
buried in their programmes, stared straight ahead. 

Behind the scenes great good humor prevailed. The 
actors now knew that Tom and Harry were reconciled, 
and having something of the angelic in them on this 
angelic day, they rejoiced exceedingly. Confidence 
was restored ; each felt that the play was sure to suc- 
ceed. All, then, went merry as a marriage bell, till 
the angel produced a diversion by declaring that he 
would not be painted. 

"You think I'm going out before all those people 
wearing a gown, and looking like a girl? Don't you 
believe it !" he exclaimed indignantly. 

''All angels wear gowns," said Clarence. 

"Well, this angel wears a gown too ; but he doesn't 
paint his cheeks, no more than any other angel." 

When Mr. Murdock came upon the group, the cos- 
tumer was in a state of despair. At a word from his 
teacher, however, Dave consented to be painted. 

*Tf you say so, I'll stand it," he growled; "though 
I don't want to look any prettier than I am." 

"Aw ! exclaimed Clarence disdainfully, "You 
needn't pretend you don't want to look pretty; it's 
looking like a girl that's bothering you." 

Then Clarence just succeeded in dodging the angel's 
shoe. 

The play opened well; each little actor, full of the 
Christmas spirit, was unconsciously communicating it 
to the audience. Every word, every gesture, was meas- 
ured; but there was no measure to their play of feeling. 

The charm was unbroken till the angel appeared. 
Here, however, there seemed to be a collapse. The 
angel was to have glided out majestically, to have raised 
one graceful arm towards heaven, and in slow, solemn, 
silvery accents, announced the glad tidings of our 
Saviour's birth. He departed considerably from his 



ROUND CHRISTMAS FOOTLIGHTS 97 

training. Coming out with a hurried step, he cast a 
wild glance at the audience, shriveled up, as it were; 
and, forgetting to raise his hand, in one breath which 
was also breathless made his little speech, and disap- 
peared before the audience could fairly take in the situ- 
ation. Mr. Murdock, who was prompter, seemed to 
have foreseen the turn of events. Before the angel 
had finished his announcement he sent out a special 
messenger to twelve trusty youths whom he had sta- 
tioned within easy reach. His message was simply, 
"Give the angel an encore." So when David, in an 
agony of stage-fright, had rushed off the stage, the 
ai^lause was prolonged. In the midst of it Mr. Mur- 
dock obtained the angelic ear. 

"David," he said, "they want you back. Go out 
slowly, say yotu" part deliberately, and you'll bring 
down the house." 

David flushed with pleasure. While the red lights 
were still glowing he came back with solemn step upon 
the stage, lifted his arm, and delivered the glad tidings 
in so measured a tone that the whole house followed 
the speech with bated breath. His second appearance 
was entirely satisfactory, and, as he made a not un- 
graceful exit, the applause was sustained. Thus the 
threatened danger was averted; defeat was changed 
into victory. From that moment the dialogue pro- 
ceeded as though each speaker were inspired. 

The quarrel scene between Verdin as Benoni, and 
Farrar as Faustinus, was animated. At length the 
moment of reconciliation came — the moment so much 
dreaded by the author of the play. 

According to prearrangement, the two were to have 
clasped hands. This they did, and the author's sigh 
of relief was drowned in the murmer of satisfaction 
breathed by the audience. 

Of a sudden Harry Verdin introduced a new fea- 



98 CANDLES' BEAMS 

ture; he threw his arms about Farrar. Tommy re- 
sponded, and there they stood, actually hugging each 
other. 

Tom almost blubbered ; the tears stood in Harry's 
eyes. It was a reconciliation such as is seldom wit- 
nessed upon any stage. No wonder the audience was 
carried away. 

Mr. Farrar, gazing rapt at the tableau, felt the 
tears rising to his eyes. He took out his handkerchief, 
and was about to pass it over his face when a touch on 
his shoulder caused him to turn his head. Mr. Verdin 
was standing beside him, and his eyes looked watery 
too. 

"James," said Mr. Verdin, ''our boys up there are 
teaching us a lesson, and I've learned it; old friend, 
let's shake hands." 

And while every man, woman and child gazed in 
rapture and with applause upon the stage-scene, these 
two hard men of business clasped hands with a warmth 
which gave promise that their enmity was gone for- 
ever. 



QUICK ACTION 



QUICK ACTION 

THE sun from on high was looking straight down 
upon a small sailboat two hours out from Belize, 
British Honduras, an eighth of a mile from the man- 
grove-fringed mainland and, on the other side, one 
league away from a long, slender cay. The boat was 
not more than thirty-five feet long; sprawled upon its 
one deck lay some forty people. Seven or eight of 
these passengers were protected by the shade of the 
mainsail ; the rest were contentedly baking away under 
the blistering sun. 

Only two were erect — ^the captain, who stood at the 
tiller, and, beside him, a slim young lad, oval-faced 
and of old-ivory complexion. The captain, thick of 
lip, large of foot, kinky-haired, flat of nose, good- 
natured, black faced and ugly was clearly a Carib. The 
lad beside him might have been the scion of some 
Spanish grandee. As a matter of fact he was not. 
There was Indian as well as Spanish blood in him, and 
he was one of those lucky creatures of mixed strain 
who come off with the best in each. 

'T am of the sentiment,'' observed the Carib captain 
of the good ship Honey Dew, "that there is coming 
upon us a squall. My sick finger on my right foot 
always feels bad before a change, and now it makes me 
a great pain." 

"I have no sick finger," said the lad, his head high 
in the air. "But I have eyes and I see a little cloud 
over there in the east, and it's growing, and it's coming 
toward us." 

There was a copper-faced girl of fifteen lying almost 

101 



102 CANDLES' BEAMS 

at the feet of the captain and the lad. Her eyes were 
fastened on the latter in artless admiration. 

"Why you not take down sail?" she said, speaking 
to the captain and looking at the boy. 

"Pretty soon, pretty soon," drawled the Carib, his 
white teeth revealed in a slow, languid smile. 

"We're never in a hurry in these parts, Mary Ann," 
observed the lad, gazing at her in some disdain. 

"My name is honorable,"' she said darkly. "It is 
Carmelita." 

"Is that," asked the youth, gazing at her intently, 
"your name of baptism?" 

"Yes." 

"But you are not Spanish." 

"I was baptized three months since at a convent in 
New Orleans." 

"Oh!" said the boy. "I thought it was funny. You 
see, Carmel, anybody can tell you're an Indian. My 
name is Manuel. I'm pure Spanish." 

"Do not make foolish with us," said a man sprawling 
under the mainsail. "Where did you get that straight 
hair ? You're part Indian, and you know it. My boy, 
it is not distinguished to be a liar down heij^e." 

"Oh, well," said Manuel. "I guess I have some 
Indian in me; but during the two years I was in the 
States working as a grocer boy I said I was Spanish, 
and everybody dropped for it." 

"Oh!" exclaimed the man, "so you are Manuel 
Alvarez." 

"How did you know that ?" 

"I read about you in the paper. Six months ago an 
uncle of yours in Spanish Honduras died and left you 
four hundred dollars, to be spent in giving you some 
education. And you were sent to St. John's College, 
Belize. Why aren't you there now?" 

"I was expelled early this morning." 



QUICK ACTION 103 

'^Oh!" cried Carmelita, sitting upright and catching 
«fcr breath. 

At the same moment a huge wave slapped against 
and over the side of the boat, wetting half of the pas- 
sengers, most of whom were Caribs. For a few sec- 
onds there were signs of life and emotion, with many 
voices raised. Above all sounded the clear call of a 
rooster imprisoned in a crated box which a Carib 
woman was hugging to her bosom. She, too, read- 
justed herself, sitting erect and placing the box on 
top of her shawled head. The boat was rocking, but 
that made no difference to her and her new headpiece. 

Turning to the captain she addressed him at some 
length. Once or twice she became so animated that it 
looked as though box and rooster would be plunged 
into the waters of Honduras Bay. She spoke in the 
purest Carib. To her the captain made affable answer 
in the same remarkable tongue. Removing the box 
from her head and passing it into the hands of the 
woman next to her, she spoke again. Her language 
was more impassioned than before. She grew elo- 
quent. Her large hands went out in sweeping ges- 
tures, each and every finger doing its part. Her eyes 
glowed. 

Once more the captain made answer meet, and smiled 
a revelation of perfect teeth. 

The woman returned with a few short sentences, 
each one sounding like a stab. Even those aboard who 
knew no Carib understood that she was calling him 
names, making odious references to his ancestors, and 
prophesying dire things about the future of himself 
and his posterity. To all of which the captain made 
no reply. 

"What's it all about?" asked Manuel. 

"It's about that he-chicken," answered the grinning 
Carib, as the offended woman with a grunt of indig- 



104 CANDLES' BEAMS 

nation replaced the box upon her head. "She says it's 
worth more than my whole damn boat and passengers. 
She says it is a bloody rooster." 

"A what?" cried the boy. 

"A bloody rooster — a play rooster." 

"Play rooster? Do you mean game?" 

"Yes, that's it. She says her he-chicken is game. 
And she says that if I allow any more waves to come 
in this boat she will get damages out of me. She paid 
ten dollars for it." 

"Do you know," observed Manuel, "I think III take 
a look at that rooster after a while. If it looks good 
to me m buy it. Perhaps I could make something out 
of it." 

The gust of wind meanwhile had passed. The boat 
was hardly moving. The sails now and then flapped. 
One woman, a Yucatecan, opened a lunch box and 
began to eat. Another followed her example, and then 
another and another. It was high noon; dinner was 
served. There was calm on the waves and in the boat. 

Upon the silence came the voice of Carmelita. 

"You were expelled ?" 

^'Yes," returned Manuel, addressing the feeding mul- 
titude. ^'You see, I had never been to school before, 
and I did not like books. I got into several fights, too ; 
and if it had not been for the prefect, Professor Stan- 
ton, I would have been long before expelled. He was 
a kind man, and he tried hard to save me. I love him, 
and ril stick anybody in the ribs who does not." 

Manuel paused and let baleful eyes fall upon each 
and every one of the feeding multitude. If there was 
any one present who failed to bear in his heart a 
personal love for Professor Stanton, that particular 
person was too absorbed in the immediate business of 
eating to give it voice. 

"Last night," Manuel continued, "I slipped out of 



QUICK ACTION 105 

the dormitory and went to see a friend of mine, who 
lent me five shillings; and then I found a crowd to 
play cards with. I was winning all right, until one of 
those fellows, a coolie, began to cheat. We had a 
light. I was arrested. They took me back to the 
college, and the rector gave me a bed for the night. 
This morning Professor Stanton brought me down to 
this boat. I am on my way to Stann Creek, where my 
father and mother are visiting." 

"And I am going to San Pedro, on Ambergris Bay," 
said the girl. "IVe been expelled, too." 

"From where ?" 

"From the convent school in New Orleans. I wasn't 
there long. It was a rich cousin of mine in Belize 
who sent me there. I would not do what I was told. 
They wanted me to study. A week ago I losted my 
anger and tore up all my books and made foolish in 
many ways. And when I get home my father will beat 
me much." 

"You two," said the skipper, "would make a very 
fine pair." 

Carmelita glared at the Carib. Manuel, who ap- 
parently had not heard the remark, holding up his 
forefinger breasthigh, vi^ved it impressively and re- 
marked : 

"I wish your dirty old boat would sink." 

"So do I," added the charming girl. 

"Maybe it will," returned the skipper. "This dead 
sea means something. That cloud over there is grow- 
ing. And what for you wish to gtt drowned ?" 

"Who said I wanted to get drowned ?" said the boy. 
"I promised Professor Stanton that I'd not get off tlus 
boat until we got to Stann Creek, unless something hap- 
pened. And I must keep my word to him. Why he 
was awful fond of me. He was all to pieces because 
I was expelled. He almost cried. He gave me this." 



106 CANDLES' BEAMS 

Here Manuel flung back his shirt, exposing to view a 
scapular medal and an Agnus Dei upon his youthful 
breast. "And I promised him to be a good Catholic 
all my life. xA.nd I will." 

The diners, having nothing more to eat, were nearly 
all paying attention to the eloquent youth. His last 
declaration aroused much interest. Nearly every one 
aboard followed his example and proudly exposed to 
public gaze crucifixes, scapulars and medals. One of 
them, an old man with unshaven face, exhibited proudly 
a confessional counter which, he explained, he had 
stolen and held in special veneration. The old sinner, 
to do him justice, had not darkened a church door 
since he made away with the counter. 

Manuel was pleased ; he had won an audience. 

"Ladies and gentlemen," he went on, "why work? 
Why go into the bush day after day? Why gather 
chicle? Why cut the mahogany? Do you not know 
that this is the richest country in the world ?" 

Judging from the expression on their faces, nobody 
seemed to know. 

"Well, it is so. I tell you, it is so. This is the Span- 
ish Main. This is the place where the pirates, the 
buccaneers, brought all their treasures. They would 
come here into this bay of Honduras because they knew 
the way, and the big ships could not come in because 
it is shallow. And all around us are buried the treas- 
ures of Morgan and Kidd and no end of pirates." 

"I been here all my life — forty years," observed the 
skipper, "and I ain't seen no buried treasures." 

"Bah !" cried Manuel. "How can you see a treasure 
if it is buried? Did you ever dig?" 

"No, Manuel; I live on the water. I have fished.*' 

"That's just it. You people here don't believe there 
are buried treasures, because you haven't seen them. 
I'm going to dig." 



QUICK ACTION 107 

Just then a low moaning sound, instinct with threat, 
reached their ears. The skipper gazed towards the 
east. The cloud, grown big, was advancing fast upon 
the waters. To the east there was a long swell which 
was moving rapidly towards the voyagers. 

"Here, Manuel," cried the skipper, ''catch hold of 
this tiller. There's a big squall coming. Hey there, 
you fellow," he continued, speaking to a brother Carib, 
"come quick, help me take in sail. Then we cast anchor 
— maybe." 

The captain, picking his way over the prostrate bod- 
ies, was about to furl a sail when the Carib woman, 
still wearing as headpiece the crated rooster, arose and 
put herself in his path. 

"Here," she said in her own tongue, "you buy this 
he-hen for ten dollar." 

"Oh, go Vay. Fm busy." 

But she was not to be turned aside. 

"Take it for nine." 

The skipper laid his hand on her roughly but, after 
all, in the way of kindness. Lives might depend upon 
his furling those sails. Up the mast he sprang, and, as 
the woman reeled under the sweep of his arms, over 
into the waters went the precious box. High above the 
growing whine of the winds rose her voice. For a few 
moments the contest between wind and voice went on, 
while the skipper and his friend used fingers and toes 
in a wild effort to furl all sail. 

There was some excitement meantime among the 
passengers. Two men had seized the indignant Carib 
woman, who was minded to jump into the raging 
waters after her game rooster. 

"Look, Carmelita," cried Manuel, who seemed to 
take little interest in the storm, "see that small Carib 
boy?" 

Following the direction indicated by Manuel's ges- 



108 CANDLES' BEAMS 

ture, Carmelita gazed upon a sight which, ordinary 
enough on that coast, would have aroused the most 
intense excitement almost anywhere else in the world. 

Coming around a point danced a tiny dugout not 
more than four feet long. Standing in it was a lad of 
ten — a Carib boy — wielding with extraordinary dili- 
gence a small stick, which, by some unusual stretch of 
the imagination, might be called a paddle. The dugout 
was dancing frantically. How the boy managed to 
keep his balance was beyond Caucasian accounting. 
The boy's paddle was flying from side to side. If he 
missed a stroke, Manuel observed, the dugout would 
capsize. Suddenly his hat, a straw affair, blew off. 
Luckily a wave caught it before it could get far. Out 
of the boat jumped the little lad after the hat. 

"Oh, Carmelita!" exclaimed the chuckling Manuel, 
"now for some fun. Ten to one he can't get into the 
boat again." 

Manuel's surmise seemed to be based on good 
grounds. When the Carib tot tried to get into the boat 
it capsized. For a few seconds the boy was not to be 
seen. Then up he rose and straddled the tiny dugout. 
He seemed to be wrestling with it. Over it turned and 
under went the boy. Up he came again, and again the 
boat capsized. Then he had to swim off after the 
paddle. He was such a busy little boy; and not for 
one moment did his face, at such short intervals as it 
showed itself, reveal that he reahzed there was a howl- 
ing tempest above him and a host of hungry sharks 
below. He was simply but pleasantly busy ; and when 
he did succeed in getting back with the hat and the oar 
into his precious dugout he threw a gracious smile at 
Manuel and Carmelita, the only two passengers on the 
Honey Dew who seemed at all interested in his per- 
formance. 

But his smile suddenly ceased, his features grew 



QUICK ACTION 109 

rigid, his eyes shone with excitement and he set to 
pohng vigorously towards the larger vessel. 

For there had come a sudden gust of wind which 
caught the partially furled sail with such violence that 
the Honey Dew careened violently, and every soul 
aboard slipped into the waters of the raging Caribbean. 



II 



Of course, there was some degree of excitement. 
One man, a commercial traveler from the States, bawl- 
ing loudly for help, threw up his hands and went under, 
while the more practical Carib women simply caught 
hold of the submerged side of the Honey Dew. Most 
of the Carib men swam around easily, with a view to 
rescuing any foolish person who might not know how 
to swim. The skipper himself, looking almost uncon- 
cerned, perched himself far out on the lowered mast 
stnd gazed around intently to see that all his passengers 
were provided for. Luckily for the frightened Amer- 
icano, the skipper happened to be near him as he sank. 
As captain, he felt that he should be the last to leave 
the ship; as responsible for each and every passenger, 
he knew that he must save the man from the States. 
There was for him a way of doing both. Entwining 
the "fingers" of his feet — there is a reason among the 
bare-footed Caribs for calling them fingers — about 
some cordage, he gently but quickly let himself down 
into the water, his hands searching here and there for 
the disconcerted passenger. The search came to a 
quick success; and, his feet still planted on the Honey 
Dew, the agile skipper, with squirming toes, brought 
the half-drowned man to his side. 

"Jes, this way. Spit out that water. No danger at 
all," cried the owner of the wondrous toes. "I have 



110 CANDLES' BEAMS 

been in twenty wrecks, and I was never drowned 
once." 

The American, puffing and spluttering, was quickly 
made safe ; and, seated beside the great Carib, earnestly 
proffered the statement that this was an infernal coun- 
try. Of course, he couched this remark in stronger, 
and more idiomatic phraseology. 

Paying no attention to this comment, the skipper de- 
tailed various men to swim off to the mainland and 
secure themselves nice resting places in the mangrove 
bushes; all of which they cheerfully did. 

"The boat," he observed, "in its present embarrass- 
ment, is not in a way to take care of everybody in first- 
class style." 

"Are we going to sink here?" cried the American. 

"Not any more than we are," returned the skipper. 
"It's not so deep. If we can get it upright again, so 
much the better. If we cannot, some boat will come 
along in ten, twelve, fifteen hours — " 

"Twelve or fifteen hours!" cried the horrified 
American. 

"Oh, yes. Very short time. Maybe sooner." 

And the skipper turned smiling to the Carib woman, 
so recently widowed of her he-hen, and listened with 
patience to that remarkable creature, who wanted him 
to swim out in search of her lost treasure. 

But the impatient reader must be wondering what 
has become of the tiny boy in the tiny dugout. As 
the Honey Dew keeled over he paddled vigorously to 
the rescue. His fine intentions were, a few seconds 
later, almost brought to naught when his boat swung 
over so violently to one side that it was only by dint of 
using every one of his twenty fingers and all his prac- 
ticed and well-developed art of equilibrium that he did 
not plunge headforemost into the angry waters. H© 
glanced down, once his foothold was assured, and dis* 



QUICK ACTION 111 

covered the cause of this disturbance. It was the 
strong hand of Manuel holding to the side of the 
dugout. 

''What for you want spill me?" cried the boy, with 
a trace of annoyance in his tones. 

"I don't want to spill you," returned Manuel with 
some heat, *'I just want — " 

Here Manuel paused to cough. He had swallowed 
some water without due consideration. 

While the very small Carib, carefully poised to make 
allowance for the badly balanced position of his boat, 
waited to hear what excuse Manuel had to offer, he 
was again put to it to keep himself in equilibrium ; for 
the boat suddenly careened quickly and decidedly to- 
wards the other side. 

The tiny navigator muttered some phrases in his 
own dear mother tongue which did not sound even 
remotely prayerful, and turned his large eyes toward 
the new cause of disturbance. Another hand tightly 
clinging to the gunwale awarded his gaze, a smaller, 
mofe delicate hand with a ring on each finger. 

"By Jove," cried Manuel, "if it isn't Carmelita!" 

Carmelita, having got through with the business of 
clearing out her lungs, said: 

"I don't want to go back to the Honey Dew," 

"For that matter," returned Manuel, "neither do I. 
I've kept my promise to Professor Stanton, and now 
I'm through. Say, you and I balance this baby boat 
very nice." 

"If I go home," Carmelita went on, "I'll get a beat- 
ing. I do not like beatings." 

"And," returned Manuel, "my father will spank me 
■ — me who am seventeen. It makes me foolish." 

"What's a spanking?" said the infant Carib, with 
disdain. "My father he do it often and my mother 
oftener. I care not." 



112 CANDLES' BEAMS 

"Oiild," said Manuel, "you have no dignity." 

"No," returned the child. "I have nothing but this 
boat and my hat. I very poor." 

"Where do you live?" 

"On that cay over there." 

"How far is it?" 

"Two mile." 

"Say, will you take us over?" 

"How much?" asked the boy. 

"Eh?" 

"What you give me ?" 

"Oh! What's the price of your boat? Majrbe I 
may buy it." 

"Ten dollar." 

"You mean five." 

"Santa Maria ! No, take it for nine." 

"I'll give you five and a half." 

Eventually the boat became Manuel's property for 
six dollars, the money to be paid when they reached 
land. 

As a compliment to her sex Carmelita was invited 
to do the paddling. After all, there were many sharks. 

Carmelita answered in her own way that she had 
never taken sharks seriously, that she knew little of 
paddling, but was an expert swimmer. So it came 
to pass that while the captain of the Honey Dew was 
disposing all things as sweetly as might be, so as to 
make the best uses of adversity, the wondrous three, 
Carmelita and Manuel swimming, and the small boy 
paddling rapidly, moved out upon the Spanish Main, 
already as calm and tranquil as though it knew not the 
thing called squall. 

Ill 

An hour or so later, Manuel observed: 

"Qaudio, I notice there are two cays together, the 



QUICK ACTION 113 

big one where you live and, right below it, a little bit of 
an island. Who owns that baby island?" 

Qaudio stopped paddling. At the same moment 
Manuel, letting himself down and discovering that he 
was in shallow water, stood erect, his face and armpits 
rising above the vasty deep. Carmelita proceeded to 
do likewise, and presented the interesting spectacle of 
a young miss struggling to stand and at the same time 
to keep her mouth and nose above the water. 

"Americano — he once own it," explained Claudio. 

"He came here after big war in American States. 
He buy island. He stay here. He alone. One day 
he go out for swim — ^ten, eleven years he go out. And 
he come back not at all. The shark W love Ameri- 
cano." 

"Who told you all that?" asked Manuel. 

"My godfather. He great man. He know every* 
thing. My godfather he own the cay." 

"Is it for sale?" 

"©h, yes. My godfather he try to sell it once, two, 
six times." 

"How much?" 

"Once he wanted Don Pedro Munoz to take it in 
a trade for boat. And Don Muiioz he say no. And 
my godfather he say he give Don Munoz ten dollars." 

"And what is the worth of Don Muiioz's boat ?" 

"He sold it last week for fifteen dollars." 

Manuel looked appraisingly at the tiny island. Its 
area apparently was about four acres, one-half of it 
abounding in an orchard of young cocoanut trees, pop- 
ularly called a cocal. Manuel knew something about 
the cocoanut industry. These trees would not begin 
to bear for a year or two. At the further end of the 
cay was a dilapidated hut with three royal palms front- 
ing it Beyond the hut was an unusual thing — a bit of 



114 CANDLES' BEAMS 

elevated land resembling in many ways an Indian 
mound. 

"How long ago was it that your godfather wanted 
to make that trade with Don Munoz ?" 

"Two year ago — more than two year." 

"Oh, I see. And that cocal was a baby cocal then. 
Say Claudio, we're going to examine that island. Come 
on, Carmelita, take my hand." 

The little cay was a pretty spot. Thanks to Claudio's 
godfather, it was in fine condition. The cocal, Manuel 
reflected, would by itself yield him enough to live on. 
Besides, there was more than an acre left for further 
cultivation. Above all, that mound! If pirates in the 
days of gentlemen adventurers ever did hide their treas- 
ures in the cays, would they not select just such a 
place? It stood to reason that they would. As every- 
body knew, it was impossible to dig two feet below 
the surface on the flat lands without reaching salt 
water. But such an elevation as the one before him 
would hold treasures safely. 

Manuel took a glance at the upper cay; it was not 
more than a mile distant. 

"How many people live on that cay of yours, 
Claudio?" 

"One hundred — maybe more. My godfather, he 
own it." 

"Your godfather must be a great man." 

"He is — very great." 

"Carmelita, what do you think of this place?" 

"Very nice. It is better than going to the convent 
school." 

Manuel regarded her severely. 

"Look here," he said, "you're not going to live here. 
Do you know, I'm thinking of buying this place." 

At this announcement, made calmly and casually, 
Ckudio gazed with awe upon the daring youth. 



QUICK ACTION 115 

"You much rich!" he exclaimed, removing his liat. 

"No, I'm not rich at all. But I've got twenty-four 
dollars in my pocket, and Professor Stanton has one 
hundred dollars of mine, which he is keeping till I 
need it." 

Here Carmelita showed that it was possible for her 
to look at him with deeper respect and reverence. She 
gave a gasp of admiration. 

"This island will be worth twenty-four dollars to 
me. I'm willing to pay that." 

"You want boy work for you?" cried Claudio, still 
holding his hat in his hand. 

"What can you do ?" 

"I run message. I fix your lines. I cook. I do 
what you say." 

"How much do you want?" 

"Gi'me five cent a day." 

"Claudio, you're hired." 

Claudio showed teeth white as the driven foam, and 
rolled his eyes in a great joy. 

"And Carmelita," Manuel continued, "you're fired." 

"Fired? Fired? What is that, Manuel?" 

"I mean," explained Manuel, coldly and severely, 
^'that it is time for you to go. Over there!" He 
pointed dramatically to the cay above. 

"It is proper," the girl observed, lowering her eyes. 

Carmelita was a typical Mexican of Indian blood — 
quick, lithe, graceful, dark, and with a face which, 
when she was in good humor, was pleasing to the eye. 
She was very poor indeed, and ignorant. About the 
only thing of value which she possessed, aside from her 
youthful comeliness, was the Catholic faith. 

"Boy," continued Manuel, "you will bring this young 
person to your cay. And see who'll take care of her." 

"My godfather," said Qaudio, "he do that." 

"Your godfather," remarked Manuel, "is a wonder. 



116 CANDLES* BEAMS 

I didn't think of him. And then, Claudio, you will tdl 
your godfather that I want to buy this island." 
**I do that. How much you give ?'* 
"Not a cent more than twenty-four dollars." 
Claudio darted down at top speed for the dugout, 
and sprang into it with such abandon that the tiny 
boat turned over and over, accompanied in each turn 
by the clinging Carib. 

"You should have more respect for ladies," said 
Manuel. "Let the lady get into that boat and you stay 
outside." 

"Ver' good. It is not deep most the way." 

Carmelita, plunged in thought, suffered herself to 

be placed in the boat and, at Manuel's suggestion, 

seated herself ; whereupon, chattering and singing, 

Claudio pushed his cargo briskly toward the larger cay. 

IV 

One hour later Manuel, eating mangoes plucked 
from one of his prospective trees, saw with no little 
interest a small sailboat bearing down upon his pros- 
pective island. He looked more intently and picked 
out its three passengers — Carmelita ("What! that girl 
again?" he muttered), Claudio, and a wiry bronzed 
man beyond middle age, immaculately clothed in what 
looked like a suit of pajamas. He was barefooted, too. 
His attire was faultless and useful. Thus dressed, he 
could with perfect propriety enter a church or the briny 
deep. 

"That chap," soliloquized Manuel, "must be the god- 
father." 

The boat came to anchor within twenty yards of the 
shore; whereupon, without any ado, the wiry old gen- 
tleman stepped into the water, as an American in these 
United States would step from an automobile to the 



QUICK ACTION 117 

pavement, followed by the Carib youth and Carmelita. 
All three were smiling upon Manuel. The godfather, 
having no hat, removed an imaginary one from his 
grizzled head, bowed like a Spanish cavalier, with the 
water up to his waist, while, as he went through this 
performance, Carmelita, continuing to wade, gained 
the lead. She was in a hurry. It is a striking thing 
in the lands about the Spanish Main to see any one 
in a hurry. It is undignified, it is unusual ; and, unless 
for most serious reasons, it is never done. 

Manuel became interested. What wondrous or dire 
thing could it be that stirred the young lady into such 
activity ? 

While he still stood wondering, Carmelita, gaining 
the land, came running up to him. She was breathing 
heavily. 

"Oh, Manuel," she gasped, "Fve saved you six dol- 
lars. I got the godfather to let you have it all for 
eighteen dollars. Don't let him know you've got 
twenty-four; say nothing." 

"Carmelita, you are wise, you are prudent." Say- 
ing this, Manuel smiled graciously, and Carmelita 
blushed prettily and looked happy. 

"Good day, Senor Manuel," said the old gendeman, 
as he came within hailing distance. "Permit me to 
make myself introduced to you. I am Don Enrico 
Stefano, at your service." 

"Glad to meet you, Don Enrico. How about this 
island?" 

"It is yours at your own price. Of course, there 
are some papers to be arranged; but I will myself at- 
tend to that. It will be brought to a termination in 
two, three, five days. The price, eighteen dollars, you 
will pay when the papers are arranged; but as a sign 
of your good faith five dollars of that sum in advance.'^ 



118 CANDLES' BEAMS 

"Here's your money," broke in Manuel. 

**Thank you ; how quick you are ! The island is now 
yours." 

"And its name," declared Manuel, "is Stanton Cay." 

On the old gentleman's declaration that the island 
was Manuel's, Carmelita, flown with joy, clapped her 
hands. 

"And this young lady," continued Don Enrico. "Is 
she your intended?" 

Manuel, looking with upturned nose at the joyous 
girl, replied : 

**I should say not!" Then he added, "I don't mind 
saying right now that I'm not a marrying man." 

"You would make a fine pair," observed the old 
gentleman, kindly. 

AH Carmelita's signs of joy meantime had disap- 
peared ; her eyes were blazing, her bosom heaving, her 
hands clenched. 

"Boy!" she hissed. "Little boy! Marry! You 
need a mother's care and a spanking every day before 
breakfast. And I — I am not a marrying woman." 

Having jerked out these words, the fair maiden 
turned her back upon all and made her way at a brisk 
run into the cocal, where she was soon lost to view. 
But Manuel was too interested in his new property to 
pay any attention to her. 

"Look, Don Enrico, I've been over this place and 
it looks good to me. Now I want a few things, and 
I want them in a hurry." 

"Santa Maria Sacratissima!" exclaimed Don Enrico, 
throwing out his arms in a gesture that comprehended 
the two poles. "But how quick you are! And you 
do it all without the stopping to think." 

"I've been two years in the United States," Manuel 
observed, as though that were sufficient explanation. 

"And you want sugar, bread, tea, coffee — " 

"Hold on," broke in the new proprietor. "I wasn't 



QUICK ACTION 119 

thinking of those things at all. What I want right 
off is a spade or a shovel and a pick." 

Don Enrico clasped his hands, raised his eyes to 
heaven, and invoked every saint whose name at the 
moment he could recall. 

"Such industry !" he went on. You are most remark- 
able boy. Such energy, such — " 

Here Don Enrico paused. During his impromptu 
litany Claudio, the tiny Carib, had darted into the 
bushes behind the abandoned hut, and after the 
briefest of disappearances had reappeared carrying in 
one hand a shovel, in the other a pick. 

"Been here a long time," he exclaimed, with a grin 
that lit up his face. "I hide them myself. Sometime 
I come here and dig bait." 

"Claudio," said Manuel, smiling benignly, "you have 
more than earned your first day's salary. You're a 
very good boy." 

Claudio beamed. 

"Now, Don Enrico," continued Manuel, addressing 
the dazed old man, "you said something about buying 
me some provisions." 

"Yes, Don Manuel, I did — oh, how quick you are! 
How much?" 

"Here are five dollars," said the youth, becoming 
each moment more and more of a Spanish grandee. 
"Buy me pepper and salt and sugar and things like 
that—" 

"With so much pleasure," interrupted Don Enrico. 
**I bring 'em, maybe to-morrow, maybe in a day or 
two. 

"And am I to starve while I wait?" cried the landed 
proprietor. "No, no, I want them promptly. I want 
them by return trip." 

"Santa Maria!" ejaculated the elder, rubbing his 
eyes. 



120 CANDLES' BEAMS 

'*Yes; and two chickens and fish and cassava. Say, 
Don, and I want you to take supper with me/' 

Don Enrico, catching his breath, held up his hand 
before his breast, the forefinger extended. This lat- 
ter he waved impressively from side to side for several 
seconds. 

"Go on and talk,'' prompted Manuel, his eyes in- 
voluntarily wandering toward the Carib lad, who, hav- 
ing heard the bill of fare, was rolling upon the earth 
in sheer delight. 

The elder, hastily informing the nine choirs of angels 
that the young man in his presence was the quickest 
young man he had ever met, said to Manuel : 

"Don Manuel, just before I heard you wanted to 
buy this island — " 

"Stanton Cay," put in Manuel sternly. 

"Thank you — Stanton Cay — I was out catching 
crabs. I got five splendid ones, and may I present you 
two for your feast?" 

"Thank you very much. And get the other things, 
and — oh, yes, Claudio, you go along with him, and 
help him; and if you're not back in two hours I'll throw 
you to the sharks." 

And then Manuel, somehow or other, bundled the 
two into the vessel and saw them weigh anchor before 
Don Enrico had any chance to call upon heaven to 
witness these remarkable doings. 

The vessel had not gone far, when Mannel, stand- 
ing on the shore, suddenly clapped his hands together. 

"Ai! Ai!" he exclaimed. "Carmelita! I forgot all 
about her. Hey!" he yelled, "Hey, you Don Enrico! 
Hey, hey!" As he spoke he gesticulated violently and 
stamped fiercely upon the ground. "Come back ! Come 
back!" 

Don Enrico heard his voice with alarm and viewed 
his gestures with dismay. Did the boy want him to 



QUICK ACTION 121 

sail faster? Never in all his days had he met so fiery, 
so impetuous, a youth. It was blowing hard; more 
sail would be dangerous. Nevertheless the old man, in- 
voking all heaven as he did so, put on all sail and then 
prayed in right good earnest. 

As the vessel flew through the water Manuel 
danced and shouted and, I regret to say, swore. 

*'Oh, well," he said when it was borne in upon him 
that he was wasting his energy, and picking up pick 
and shovel, he ran, literally ran, toward the mound. 

When, one hour and fifty-five minutes later, Don 
Enrico's vessel came to anchor in the same place, 
Manuel and Carmelita hand in hand dashed into the 
water and hastened toward him. 

"Look!" cried Manuel when within easy speaking 
distance. "When does Father Horn from St. John's 
college come to visit your cay?" 

"He's here now," answered Don Enrico. "He goes 
to-morrow noon. He comes every month." 

"Hufrah!" cried Manuel. "Up with your anchor, 
Don. We're going back with you. Carmelita and I 
are going to be married!" 



There is a strong expression sometimes employed 
in the United States to indicate that a man loses his 
composure to an extraordinary degree and is, as it 
were, beside himself. They say that "he is throw- 
ing fits." Well, I know of no way to give an idea 
of Don Enrico's conduct on receiving this astounding 
news than to say that he began to throw fits. While 
he is engaged in this process and being brought back 
to realities by the united efforts of Claudio, Manuel, 
and Carmelita, the reader, too gentle to contemplate 
unmoved the good old man's dire straits, is asked to 



122 CANDLES' BEAMS 

turn back to that point of our story where we left 
Manuel, pick and shovel in hand, on his way to the 
mound. 

He walked up its slight declivity as one who knew 
just where he was going and what he intended to do. 
There was at one end of the mound a species of palm 
tree, and right beneath it a space nearly four feet 
square, marked out to the observant eye by twelve 
small stakes. Nine hundred and ninety-nine Ameri- 
cans out of a thousand would not have perceived these 
stakes. But Manuel, whose early training had been 
conducted in the open, whose eyes had been in no wise 
impaired by his two years' employment in the United 
States, and who moreover had spent half an hour, be- 
fore buying the property, in going over every foot of 
the mound's surface, espied one stake without the least 
difficulty. Bending down to his task and pushing aside 
the weeds, he had quickly made out the other marks. 
No wonder he had been anxious for pick and shovel. 
In his mind there could be no doubt. That famous 
pirate, Peter the Great, might have visited there, or 
Wallace, or Portuguez, or Kidd, or Roc. At any 
rate, some pirate had left his treasure for Manuel to 
inherit. 

"Ah!'^ exclaimed Manuel, laying down shovel and 
pick, *Tt can't be hidden very deep. I'll have the treas- 
ure in half an hour." 

Throwing off his collar and tie — for Manuel was 
dressed like a student of St. John's — rolling up his 
sleeves, and spitting upon his hands, he seized the 
pick and raised it high in air. The regular thing 
for that pick to do was to come down forcefully upon 
the grass-grown spot. But the pick remained in air, 
Manuel's jaw dropped, wonder come into his eyes, dis- 
gust wrinkled his nose. 



QUICK ACTION 123 

"What, you again!" he growled, without changing 
position. 

"Yes, I'm here," answered the dark Indian maid. 

"You squaw!" roared Manuel, throwing down his 
pick. 

The young lady thus gallantly addressed was 
standing with one arm about the palm tree. She 
looked at the moment, like the naiad of that particular 
palm. Her hair newly braided, around her brow a 
garland of red flowers flanked by green leaves, it re- 
quired little stretch of the imagination to conceive her 
as the soul of that sentinel palm, given a body in order 
to warn away any sacrilegious hand that durst touch 
those hidden treasures. 

But if anyone, howsoever imaginative had heard her 
next remark, he would have been disillusioned out of 
hand. 

"You ugly beast!" she returned, her face blacken- 
ing in wrath. 

"You ^o on away," returned Manuel. "Get off my 
island." 

"How can I get off?" she countered. 

"Can't you swim?" 

"I have better manners," she returned, "than to go 
swimming into a strange place. I'm going to help you 

dig." 

Without waiting to see the effect of this announce- 
ment upon Manuel, Carmelita picked up the shovel. 

"You have your nerve!" gasped the almost petri- 
fied youth. "People who know me and Professor 
Stanton say that I have much nerve. Professor Stan- 
ton, he says I got more nerve than anybody he ever 
saw even in the States. But Professor Stanton never 
saw you." Grunting to express his mingled feelings 
of astonishment and disgust, Manuel struck his pick 
into the earth. 



124 CANDLES' BEAMS I 

In a few minutes the two were hard at it. A quarter 
of an hour passed in serious work and unbroken 
silence. They had made an excavation more than two 
feet. Then— — 

"Ai! Ai!" screamed Carmelita as her shovel came 
upon some metallic obstruction. Throwing the tool 
aside, she bent down and began clawing savagely. 
Manuel dropped his pick and followed suit. 

"It's a weapon!" he gasped as finally, using all his 
strength, he pulled forth a rusty scabbard in which had 
reposed for a century or more, so he supposed — -a. 
splendid sword. 

"Hurrah!" he cried, drawing it and waving it aloft. 
"A pirate captain owned this once." 

While Manuel waved the sword wildly, felt its edge, 
and bent it now this way now that, Carmelita, forget- 
ting pick and shovel, dug furiously with her hands, for 
all the world like a dog after a mole. 

"Ai I Ai ! O Manuel, look !" Carmelita's face was 
aglow with excitement and wild dreams. 

Manuel obeyed her injunction. Her nimble fingers 
had laid bare the top of a cedar chest! 

"The treasure! The treasure!" yelled Manuel, jump- 
ing down and scratching and tearing with bare fingers. 

Had an American seen these two, just then, he would 
have revised his ideas of the customs and manners of 
the tropics. They were working furiously. 

"Hold," commanded Manuel at length, waving an 
impressive forefinger. 

Then, while the young lady sank back upon her 
knees in the attitude of a Turk, Manuel with much 
and mighty tugging brought up out of the hole a cedar 
chest two feet long, about one foot wide and one foot 
deep. 

"Now," said Manuel, "the next question is, how 
are we going to get it open?" | 



QUICK ACTION 125 

Manuel raised his hands to his brows. ^ 

Carmelita leaned over, caught the lid and raised it. 

"This way," she said simply. 

Manuel had no comment for this remark. His eyes 
were glued upon the contents of the box. 

Before him, in ordered rows, six in all, lay paper 
money bills — crisp, clear-cut, fresh! 

Manuel caught up one packet and ran his eyes over, 
the bills. 

"These are each five dollars," he said. "Here, 
count them." 

"These," remarked Manuel, as Carmelita ran with 
nimble fingers through the bills in the first package, 
"are ten-dollar bills. And here is another package of 
tens, and three more of twenties." 

"There are two hundred bills here," said Carmelita 
presently. 

"That will be one thousand dollars," commented 
Manuel, ^using all his fingers in making the count. 
"Ah! there are two hundred in this package of tens — 
that will be two thousand." 

"Look, Manuel," cried the girl, "these packages are 
all the same size. There must be two hundred in each. 
Oh, but you are a rich man!" 

"Wait," commanded the boy. "Let me count." 

Using his pick as a pencil and a bit of sandy soil 
as paper, the boy, after severe mental labor lasting 
nearly half an hour, finally announced : 

"Carmelita, here's the answer: Two hundred fives 
are one thousand dollars; four hundred tens are four 
thousand dollars, and six hundred twenties are twelve 
thousand dollars. In all I have seventeen thousand 
dollars!" 

"Maybe you are the richest man in the world!" 
exclaimed the girl, eyeing the youth in artless admira- 
tion, strongly dashed with reverence. 



126 CANDLES' BEAMS 

"No, Carmelita, I am not. John D. Rockefeller, the 
American, is richer, I believe. But his money, they 
say, is tainted. I would not have tainted money." 

"Yours," said the young lady, "is nice and clean." 

"Carmelita — " began the youth. 

"Oh!" interrupted the girl, who had just removed 
the last package of twenties, "Look what's here !" 

Lying side by side under these bills were twelve 
shining pieces of gold, all of one size. 

Manuel took up one and scanned it. 

"It's a ten-dollar gold piece," he said, "and twelve 
of them make — how much is ten times twelve?" 

"One hundred," answered Carmelita. 

"One hundred and twenty, you goose. You are poor 
at counting, Carmelita," he said, sweeping as he spoke 
the gold pieces into his pocket. 

"Does that make you as rich as Rocker — ^Rocker 

"Not quite, I think. Rockefeller is very rich; but 
I am the richest man in the colony." 

"It was very smart of you to buy this island," com- 
mented the admiring girl. 

"You see, Carmelita, that cocal in two years will 
yield me a good deal, and if I plant the other two acres 
and go fishing two or three times a week, I won't have 
to touch my fortune at all." 

While Manuel was speaking a sudden change came 
over the girl's face. The artless admiration disap* 
peared. 

"Why don't you say our fortune, Manuel?" 

"What's that?" cried the boy sharply. 

"I said our fortune; we both earned it." 

"The nerve!" exclaimed the boy. 

"And I saw it first," continued the girl. 

"It's my ground; it's my hill. And it was I who 
found the place. Confound it! you would butt in. 



QUICK ACTION 127 

Who wanted you around anyhow? I did not ask you 
to dig. I did not want you to help. You can go now 
if you want to." 

"I will go," said the girl stoutly. "And I will walk 
or wade or swim over to that cay, and I will buy this 
island myself. I will pay more than you offered." 

Manuel, though he gave no outward sign was dis- 
turbed. He felt that he should give the gii^ some- 
thing. In fact, it had been his intention, while he was 
counting his treasure, to reward her handsomely. But 
the spirit of contradiction, the imp of perversity, had 
been aroused in him. Moreover, what if she should 
make good her threat, outbid him, and buy the island, 
which he already considered his own, over his head? 
For a moment he stood undecided. But the spirit of 
bravado was still stout in him. After all the girl had 
no money on hand. She was possibly making idle 
threats. ^ 

"Go on and wade," he said, folding his arms. "You 
may buy the island, but that won't make the treasure 
yours. I found the treasure before you thought of 
buying the island." 

He paused and considered. 

"Oh, yes! Go on and wade," he added. "If you 
buy the island, the treasure will be gone and hidden 
again, and no man shall have power to find it but my- 
self. And — Oh, I never thought of that — if you offer 
thirty dollars I will offer fifty. Go on and wade, and I 
hope every shark in these waters will take a bite at you." 

Carmelita, standing erect, looked him full in the 
face. She read no signs of weakening — imperious dis- 
dain was stamped upon his features. 

"All right, I go. And I hope the sharks will bite 
me to death. I care not. I am hurt." 

Lowering her head, clasping her hands and turning 



128 CANDLES' BEAMS " 

slowly, Carmelita walked with measured steps toward 
the water. 

She did not see the change that had come over 
Manuel. He, too, lowered his head, and blushed. He 
felt that he had done a mean and stingy thing. No 
one had ever called him mean and stingy. What was 
he to do? 

While he was thus meditating, Carmelita threw her- 
self upon the ground and burst into a fit of weeping. 

"Oh, pardon, pardon, Carmehta,'* cried the boy, 
running to her side. "I was only in fun. I did not 
intend for to give you nothing. I am a Spanish gentle- 
man. Stop to weep." 

Carmelita dug her fists into her eyes, endeavoring 
vainly to staunch the copious flow of tears, and con- 
tinued to make moan. 

"Look you, Carmelita, I will reward you richly. 
Only stop to weep." 

The girl made an effort; the tears still streamed, 
but she grew quiet. 

"I tell you, I give you two gold pieces, and twenty 
five dollar bills. What think you of that, Carmelita? 
Is it enough?" 

You are very good, Manuel," she said rising. 
You are kind. Perhaps you need the money." 

What if I do? But I don't. Say, Carmelita, I 
think I give you twenty-five five-dollar bills." 

"You are too good — much, oh, much too good. I 
ought to have nothing, I had not ought to be here. 
The treasure is all yours." 

"I will give you three pieces of gold besides." 

"No, no, I will take nothing. Oh, Manuel, you 
are kind, you are brave." 

"But you must take something. It is right." 

"No, no. I thanks. I take nothing." 

"Carmelita, I insist. I think I give you half.** 






QUICK ACTION 129 

Then Carmelita blushed exquisitely, and, becoming 
perceptibly confused, put her finger to her mouth. 

"Manuel, I have a good thought." 

"What is it?" 

"Are you sure you must give me something?** 

"I insist now on giving you half." 

"But, Manuel, we — we — I — you — why, Manuel, 
there would not be need to give me anything — if — 
if—" 

"If what, Carmie?" 

"If — if — we were — married!" On uttering this 
last word Carmelita covered her face with her hands. 

"By all the pirates !" cried Manuel. "Do you know, 
I never thought of that?" 

Manuel strode up and down. The girl kept her 
hands before her eyes. 

"That plan," meditated the youth aloud, "would keep 
the treasure together." 

He still strode up and down; CarmeHta still kept 
her face covered. However, though Manuel knew it 
not, she extemporized v/indows between the fingers 
of each hand. If anything escaped the bashful child's 
observation it was very negligible. 

"My father married at seventeen," Manuel went 
on. 

"And my mother married at fourteen," volunteered 
the girl, removing her hands just long enough to make 
the remark. 

"And this morning," continued the richest man in 
the colony, "when I told Professor Stanton that I 
wanted to be a Jesuit — " 

"What !" cried the girl, removing her hands. 

"Yes; I thought I could get back to St. John's col- 
lege that way. Besides, I wanted to be with him. 
When I told him that he laughed. I do not mind 
when Professor Stanton laughs at me. It is different 



130 CANDLES' BEAMS 

with others. And he said that God did not want me 
to be a Jesuit." 

"Professor Stanton is a very wise man," inter- 
polated CarmeHta; and once more she covered her 
face. 

"And do you know what he said, Carmelita? Why, 
he told me to save up and buy some property and to 
keep on praying for a good wife." 

"Ah! Ah!" cried Carmelita. 

"And I do not have to save up. I am rich. And 
I have bought property. And — and — Carmelita, if I 
marry you, I will have not to spend so much time to 
pray." 

"It is so," said the girl. 

"Yes, Carmelita, I have thought it over, and I will 
take Professor Stanton's advice and I will marry you." 

"All right," said the girl. "When?" 

"When?" repeated the boy. "Carmelita, I tell you 
one other thing. Professor Stanton he always tells 
me that I must do things quick. He told me that 
the Americanos do things while we people of Central 
America are thinking about them. He says, * Never put 
off till tomorrow what you can do today.' When Don 
Enrico comes back with that boat we'll get aboard and 
go right over and get married right away." 

"I think," said the blissful maiden, "that we can 
afford to give Professor Stanton all of our treasure." 

"Carmelita," returned Manuel, beaming, "I begin 
to like you." 

"But it is just that we have good Catholic marriage," 
the girl continued. "A priest, the ringing of many 
bells at least three times, two flower girls asd the Holy 
Mass." 

"Carmie, you are right," admitted the groom-elect 
with a sigh. "And it is clear to me that we caimot 
have Mass to-day. It shall be to-morrow.' 



» 



QUICK ACTION 131 

**But perhaps there is no priest at the cay." 

"Maybe not, Carmie, but the luck is running our 
way. And if there is no priest I will charter a boat, 
and we will set out to-night and get married to- 
morrow." 

"And I want a veil to fall down to my heels." 

"You shall have a veil." 

"And what are you going to give Professor Stan- 
ton ? We need no money. I will take care of the cocal 
and sow the rest of the ground with good things to 
eat and to sell. And you will fish and sell what we 
do not eat. We are provided for. We need nothing. 
What will you give him ?" 

"I will give him all the bills except one bill from 
each of the six bunches. That will be eighty-five 
dollars far us. And we will keep also the twelve 
pieces of gold." 

"It is good," cried the girl, clapping her hands. 
"And now, Manuel, if you will rest I will go and 
gather mangoes and some other things so that you 
may eat." 

"How thinkful you are! I forgot. We'll have to 
call that supper off, and we'll both be hungry. While 
you're gone, Carmie, I will pack this box with the 
money and have it ready, and we'll bring it to Profes- 
sor Stanton on our wedding journey." 

"Oh, Manuel!" cried Carmelita, coloring, and look- 
ing really beautiful. The light of love was in her eyes 
as she skipped away in search of provisions. 

By the time Manuel had packed the box and hidden 
it away in a corner of the ancient shack destined to be 
his future home, Carmelita returned with mangoes and 
other tropical food. 

Then the two sat down and discussed their future 
placidly. They would receive Holy Communion at the 
nuptial Mass even if they had to fast till noon. And 



132 CANDLES* BEAMS 

they would make a general confession of their whole 
lives. 

"After marriage," commented Manuel, "I will no 
longer make foolish. Professor Stanton said that the 
best time for a man to reform his life is when he 
gets married." 

"Don't you think we could spare him two or three 
of those gold coins also?" suggested the girl. 

"Maybe, I like it to be so. If we have any gold left 
after our marriage and our wedding trip we give it 
to him. He is my best friend." 

"I like him better than you," said Carmelita. 

For five minutes following this remark it looked 
as though the engagement would be broken off. The 
dispute came to an end in sullen silence on both sides. 
Gazing out upon the water^ Manuel absently began to 
hum the words of a litany. It was the litany of the 
Blessed Virgin that the St. John's college boys sang 
once every week. 

Carmelita brightened. She knew that air, too. And 
the girl had a sweet alto. Quietly she began to sing. 
Manuel's voice, a promising tenor, grew louder. Very 
soon the two were caroling as sweet a duet as ever 
fell upon the ears of Caribbean sharks. From the 
litany they went on to other hymns ; and on they sang 
till peace had returned to their hearts and tranquility 
to their faces. 

"Carmie," said Manuel, "I have, too, a good thought. 
After this, whenever we get furious at each other, we 
sing the litany." 

"It is a good thought. I am sorry." 

"And so am I. And look! Here comes ^e boat." 

"Say, Manuel," said the girl, as they started for the 
shore, "I tell you something. I confess. It wa« make- 
believe when I asked you to divide the treastare with 
me, 1 did not want anything." 



QUICK ACTION 133 

"What! And why did you make such a trick with 
me?" 

"Because, Manuel, I thought it would put it into your 
head to marry me." 

"And was it make-believe when you cried?" 

"Manuel," answered the blushing girl, who, by the 
way, has never answered that question, "just as soon 
as I saw you I — I — loved you much." 

"Come on, let's hurry down," said Manuel, who be- 
gan to find the conversation somewhat dull. 



VI 



The voyage to the cay nearly drove the old man out 
of his senses. Before they were fairly started he found 
that he had sold his sailing boat to Manuel for twenty 
dollars, ten dollars in cash and the other half to be 
paid after the wedding journey. Five minutes after- 
ward he was wondering how he had allowed himself 
to part^with his valued chest of tools for ten dollars 
down. Before he could realize that the tools were 
no longer his he was agreeing to surrender his fishing 
net for the same price and on the same basis of pay- 
ment. During all these transactions the old man gave 
the saints of heaven no rest. He called upon them all 
in general and by name to a really remarkable number. 
His soul was stirred to its depths. 

It was Manuel who inaugurated all these deals, but it 
was the glad-eyed and eager Carmelita who put them 
through. The girl had a genius for bargaining. Sev- 
eral times Don Enrico gave over praying in order to 
wrestle with himself against a temptation to stab her 
and throw her out of the boat. Even when the bar- 
gaining stopped Don's troubles did not come to an end. 
Boy and girl loaded him with commissions to be at- 
tended to out of hand. Among these was the im-^ 



134 CANDLES' BEAMS 

mediate purchase of a veil — a bridal veil — which was 
to trail one yard at least behind the bride. 

"And," added Manuel, "Claudio will carry the 
train." 

On learning this, Claudio, using principally his toes, 
climbed up into the rigging and performed feats of 
agility which should by rights have ended in his being 
cut off prematurely in his youthful innocence. 

It was also borne in upon Don Enrico that the happy 
pair were "wealthy beyond the dreams of avarice." 
They had, this most astonishing boy and girl, discov- 
ered a treasure. Money to them was no considera- 
tion. Their intended marriage was to be brought to a 
successful issue on the morrow even if every vessel on 
the cay had to be chartered, and every man, woman 
and child living thereon had to be pressed into service. 

The incessantly grinning Carib youth was, in that 
short trip of twenty-five minutes, created commander 
of the newly bought boat, with strict injunctions to 
have it rechristened The Indian Maid. The name was 
to be painted on the bow by the morrow, everything 
that Manuel had bought was to be packed aboard, and 
after the wedding ceremony the youthful commander 
was to have it ready to set sail on their wedding 
journey at a moment's notice. 

The boat was scarcely anchored when the happy 
pair in unconventional fashion made for the shore. 
Wading in water four feet deep gave them no thought. 
Before they were well on shore a group of men and 
women had gathered to see them. The natives were 
mostly of Spanish-Indian blood. Among them, clad in 
khaki, tall, slender, and with a genuinely white face, 
stood the missionary priest, Father Horn. 

"Hey, Father," cried Manuel so soon as he had 
touched land, "do you not remember me ? I was going 
to your college till this morning. I was expelled this 



QUICK ACTION 135 

morning and wrecked at noon, and bought my prop- 
erty this afternoon — and now I want to get married." 

Presently Father Horn was engaged in a strictly 
private conversation with the youthful pair. He went 
into the matter of their parentage, their ages, their 
family history, the circumstances which led to their 
espousals — to all of which three-fourths of the natives 
eagerly gave ear. 

Father Horn pointed out several difficulties. They 
were too young. Not at all, was the answer. Here it 
was that each and every member of the self -constituted 
advisory council came in with his testimony, and 
Father Horn learned with some amazement of any 
number of couples here and there throughout the col- 
ony who had married early. 

There were certain legal difficulties. To their res- 
cue came Don Enrico, on whose swarthy features great 
amazement still lingered. He could smooth these out. 

Finally, Father Horn declared that in view of their 
tender ages he could not, he would not, marry them 
without the consent of their parents. 

Manuel's jaw dropped. He was checkmated. Then 
to him came the fair Carmelita and whispered in his 
ear. 

*'Of course. We'll get their permission," he said 
before Carmelita had quite finished. "Don Enrico, 
are there two men here with good sailboats?" 

"What! Do you want to buy more boats? Santa 
Maria, what next!" 

"No, but they've got to start right off, one to see ray 
father and one to see Carmelita's. And they've got 
to be back to-morrow morning and we'll be married 
just as soon as the boats come back." 

Every man possessing a vessel of any sort sprang 
forward. None of them wanted pay. The noble Don 
picked out the best two sailors, who in turn chose their 



136 CANDLES' BEAMS 

own mates, and having instructed them, with Manuel's 
assistance, as to the whereabouts of the respective 
parents and carefully prepared them in the manner of 
speech they were to make, he bade them Godspeed, 
and as they put on sail promised them a special dinner 
out of his own pocket if they came back by the mor- 
row's dawn. 

With the exception of children of the tenderest age, no 
one slept that night. Father Horn devoted one hour to 
instructing the two on religion in general and another on 
marriage in particular, a shorter period to hearing their 
sins, and the rest of the night in adorning the chapel. 
The tiny commander of The Indian Maid tried out his 
boat. Tying two ropes attached to the rudder to his 
magnificently developed big toes, he thus steered the 
boat, while with his hands he managed the sail. He 
had often seen it done, and was filled with joy and 
pride when he succeeded in doing it himself. Claudio 
was born to be a great skipper. Almost every woman 
in town was busy helping to make tortillas and other 
tropical dishes. The men went out, some of them 
after crabs, others into Don Enrico's cocal to secure a 
plentiful supply of cocoanuts. The best hands at the 
needle gave their hours and their skill to making Car- 
melita's veil and wedding dress. All the night long the 
promised couple conversed, sang hymns, said their 
beads — given them after confession by Father Horn — 
and in the intervals between came down upon the dress- 
makers and the cooks and urged them to top speed. 

At early dawn there stood upon the shore a young 
man clothed like a Spanish grandee and a young lady 
all in white, wearing a veil, the end of it being held up 
sturdily by the youthful Carib, Claudio, clad for the 
occasion in an immaculate nightgown which reached 
to his ebony heels. Behind Carmelita he stood motion- 
less for one hour, a splendid study in black and white. 



QUICK ACTION 137 

Standing back of this picturesque group was the entire 
population of the cay, from the gray-headed mona- 
genarian to the mother bearing in her arms the baby 
of one week. 

It was a striking tableau. 

An hour passed ; the sun rose ; a quarter passed and 
then — 

"A sail! A sail!" cried Don Enrico. 

Screams and yells broke the long silence. The party 
was just quieting down when the train-bearer, losing 
his statuesque pose, piped out: 

"Another sail!" and, forgetting his dignity in his 
joy, he essayed to turn a Caribbean handspring. 

Pandemonium ensued, during which the chimes in 
the hands of an expert bell ringer broke into melodious 
sound, and all fell into line for the marriage proces- 
sion. 

VII 

No jDne doubted that the parents of the youthful 
couple would give their consent ; and the event showed 
that their judgment was good. Manuel's father sent 
word that the boy really needed a keeper, but a wife 
might do just as well. CarmeHta's mother sent the 
girl her heartiest congratulations ; to the young man 
her sincerest condolences. Both messages were re- 
ceived by all concerned with perfect joy and un- 
broken gravity. 

The procession was a thing of beauty. The happy 
pair led, followed immediately by the youthful Carib, 
Claudio, and two flower girls arrayed in shifts as white 
as their teeth, and bearing, both of them, a chain of 
flowers. Qaudio was the observed of all. With his 
head thrown back, his eyes, revealing only their whites, 
turned to the skies, and his chest out, he moved along 



138 CANDLES' BEAMS 

with a strut which without much exaggeration might 
be styled the mihtary goose-step. The child was simply 
bursting with pride. Several of the men in the proces- 
sion blessed with a sense of humor sent up secretly 
fervent ejaculations to heaven that the train bearer 
might get tangled up in his spotless gown and fall. But 
there was no such luck. 

Once more the chimes pealed forth. If you want 
to know what possibilities there are in the way of bell 
ringing, you must go to British Honduras. No service 
may start in that blessed country without three separate 
announcements in the way of chiming; and each time 
the chiming is different. It is mingled sweetness long 
drawn out, and every variation has a meaning of its 
own. 

Before the bell ringer's second performance was 
quite finished the two flower girls, pretty little Span- 
ish brunettes of tender years, contrived to catch the 
stride and strut and ways of the young train bearer ; 
and they achieved this success with perfect gravity. 

Within forty yards of the church the procession 
was halted for the purpose of giving the bell ringer an 
opportunity of rendering the third performance on the 
bells ; and the soul of that sweet, silver tintinnabulation 
ringing out on the fresh morning air seemed to enter 
into the blood of the vast marriage party. 

When Father Horn, coming during this last musical 
performance to the church door to meet the couple, 
raised his eyes, he started, stared, and then buried his 
face and his smiles in the ritual. 

They were all, save the happily unconscious bride 
and groom, doing the goose-step. The youthful Carib 
had won the day. 

At the door Father Horn married them ; and upon a 
nobler groom and a sweeter looking bride the sun of 
the Spanish Main never shown. The marriage cere- 



QUICK ACTION 139 

mony completed, Father Horn, taking each by the 
hand, led them to the altar. There they knelt while 
the flower girls yoked them together with the chain 
of flowers. 

Many of the men present were, it must be confessed, 
poor churchgoers. But a morning wedding was a nov- 
elty. So they came to grin, and remained to be edified. 
Manuel and Carmelita had been wild and wayward; 
but their faith was alive. And that faith they showed 
in every action, particularly in their reception of Holy 
Communion. 

From the church the assembly moved processionally 
to the largest house on the cay, Don Enrico's. This 
good but sorely amazed man had placed it at the dis- 
posal of the wedding party. Thither they marched like 
Prussians on parade. The house was of the preva- 
lent fashion; in fact, one might say, of the only fash- 
ion, differing from the others simply in its size and 
height. Large uprights and a double row of stakes 
bound together by withes formed the frame work; the 
rest was caked mud, with a roof made of the branches 
of co^une palm. These roofs are water-tight and 
much affected by scorpions. Back of Don Enrico's 
spacious house was a smiling garden ; and here it was 
that the guests were served to a wedding breakfast, the 
menwry of which is still spoken of on that cay with 
lively memories. 

Manuel was hungry. He ate with more than his 
usual appetite. His fair spouse nestling at his side was 
content to feast her eyes upon his youthful beauty. 
She was blushing meekness in human form. It would 
be hard to imagine that any human being could pos- 
sibly be as gentle as she looked. The happy pair pos- 
sessed between them appetite and love enough for two, 
but the division was distressfully unequal. Manuel had 
all the appetite, Carmdita all the love. Apparently the 



140 CANDLES' BEAMS 

young groom had forgotten all about her existence. 
After all, he was a boy and nothing more. He had 
been too active that day to have time for sentiment. 

The first course was still being served when the best 
man of the wedding came up and whispered in Man- 
uel's ear. 

"Senor Manuel," he said, "there are in our com- 
pany on this day a flock of young men who are come 
in from gathering chicle. They sing most beautiful, 
one of them plays the guitar, and their songs are slow 
and tender. Maybe, it is said, if they were given some 
rum, which they very much like, it would encourage 
them to sing. And they dance the Spanish dances 
like fairies." 

'Well, go on and give them rum," said Manuel. 

"Ai, Ai! But we poor; we have it not. You are 
much rich. You can get it for twenty-five cents the 
bottle." 

"Of course, I'll pay. Where do you buy it?" 

Manuel as he spoke took from his pocket Iiis six 
crisp bills which he had reserved toward paying the 
expenses of his wedding journey. 

"Oh, Manuel," pleaded Carmelita, "do not so. We 
can spend the money better." 

"Now, look here," cried the grand youth sternly, 
"I'd like to know right now who's the head of this 
family ?" 

"Oh, pardon, pardon, Manuel! You are the head. 
I — I forgot myself. Do what you think good." 

Manuel, gazing at her for a few moments with 
strong disfavor, turned to the best man. "Who sells 
the stuff?" 

"Oh, Don Enrico, of course. He is at the store 
now, sending supplies over here." 

"Good. Here, take this five-dollar bill and go over 



QUICK ACTION 141 

and buy up all the rum he'll give you." And Manuel 
turned his entire attention to a dish of tortillas. 

It was just then that Claudio, the young Carib, 
entered the garden and wormed his way, not without 
observation, to his employer's side. The nightshirt, 
long, immaculate, had been discarded ; and the lad was 
now clothed with a taste that was almost severe. Upon 
his head was a blue cap with the word "Captain" 
printed boldly above the peak. For the rest, he wore 
a pair of trousers with enough material in them to 
make possibly a handkerchief of ordinary size. 

"Senor Manuel," he said, "all is ready. The net 
and the tools and the provisions are all packed away, 
and I am ready to sail quick — very quick. Also my 
dugout, the one you bought, is ready to bring you out." 

"Manuel, I think I will raise your wages. Hallo! 
what's the excitement?" 

This question was provoked by the sudden reap- 
pearance of the best man, whose face was flushed with 
excitement. In his hand he still held the five-dollar 
bill. 

"Well, what's the matter?" 

"Don Enrico says he will come in a minute and ex- 
plain. He says for you to wait. He will come soon." 

"But where's the rum?" 

"He will not sell you the rum." 

"Oh, he won't ! Well the nerve of him ! Why not ?" 

"Because this money is Confederate money." 



VIII 



The breakfast came to a sudden pause; men and 
women looked questioningly into each other's faces. 
Manuel blanched. 

"I do not understand," he said after a pause. 



142 CANDLES' BEAMS 

"But Don Enrico — a. very wise man — he does under- 
stand. He say that years ago there came here a 
Southern soldier before the end of the war. That 
soldier he buy the cay you bought yesterday. He 
live there. He brought with him a lot of Confederate 
money, and said he would keep it till the South States 
beat the North States. But they did not do it, and that 
money of the South States is not better than counter- 
feit money." 

At the word counterfeit intelligence showed itself on 
all sides. Now they understood. Manuel was a fraud ; 
he had imposed upon all of them. 

The boy himself unconsciously helped in confirming 
their dark suspicions. He grew ashen pale, his lips 
quivered, his head, buried in his hands, sank upon the 
table. 

"Robber!'* muttered an old woman. 

"Swindler !" said a second one in a louder voice. 

"Thief r cried a third. 

"And who," said the leading needlewcMnan, "is to 
pay us for our sewing?" 

Manuel raised his head ; his eyes were filled with 
terror. All his self-possession had deserted him. 

The sight of his terror-stricken face added fuel to 
the flame. 

"Thief ! Robber !" These and terms even more 
opprobrious were hurled at him from every side. 

Manuel opened his mouth to speak, but the words 
failed to come. 

One of the chicle gatherers inquired for a rope; 
and several of his fellows, with flashing knives and 
threatening gestures, started toward the hapless boy. 

"Stop !" cried a clear, vibrant alto voice. That one 
word had the effect of a pistol shot. 

Beside her husband, her head high in the air, her 



QUICK ACTION 143 

eyes scintillating, deep wrath upon her brow, towered 
Carmelita. 

**You beasts !" she said. "You fools ! You scum ! 
How dare you think so of my husband?" As she 
uttered this last word, she turned and gazed with in- 
finite pride and boundless love upon the cowering boy. 
Manuel's head rose a trifle. 

**He is worth more than all of you put together. 
He is honest, he is true. Yesterday we found this 
money. We thought it was good. We do not read 
much. But he is no thief; he is no robber. He is my 
man !" 

As her voice mounted to a note of triumph in claim- 
ing Manuel for her own she threw her proud and 
ardent gaze upon him once more. 

Manuel's head was now erect. He returned her 
look, and at that moment it came home to him that 
the girl at his side was worth all the buried treasures 
in the world. 

Then Manuel rose, a changed boy. 

"Listen," he said impressively. "You are everything 
my wife said — and more. I am done with you. Let 
not one of 3^ou ever put his foot upon my cay — Stan- 
ton Cay — without her permission. That treasure is 
all counterfeit ; I care not. There is my treasure." 

Here Manuel put his arm about his wife; and she, 
trembling, blushing, hid her head upon his bosom. 
They had changed places again. 

"As for the dress and the veil and the breakfast, I 
pay for them now. See !" 

Manuel drew out of his pocket a handful of golden 
eagles. 

"Pay yourselves !" he thundered, dashing them upon 
the earth. 

Then he picked his wife up in his arms and, flashing 



144 CANDLES' BEAMS 

upon them eyes that no one present dared to meet, 
walked proudly through them and made his way to 
the water. 

Claudio, the young captain, was not slow to perceive 
the new program. Making his way after them, he 
broke into a run, jumped into his dugout, and paddled 
with all speed for The Indian Maid; so that when the 
proud groom and the trembling bride reached their 
vessel the anchor was at once weighed, and a few 
seconds later the vessel made ready to sail. 

Meanwhile the wedding party, looking extremely 
puzzled and fooHsh, had come to the shore. 

"You fool!" cried Don Enrico, hot from his shop. 

"You've insulted the most wonderful young man. 
lYou have no sense." 

"What are we to do?" asked several. 

"What's the trouble?" asked Father Horn, who had 
been reciting his little hours in the church. 

"They've insulted the two young people," explained 
Don Enrico. 

Father Horn turned his eyes on The Indian Maid. 
Standing erect, his eyes fastened with a great love 
upon her, Manuel was holding his trembling wife to 
his bosom. High up aloft, a little black cherub, divided 
into two sections by a band of white, was making 
great play with toes and fingers. It was a sight which 
embraced much of the comedy and much of the beauty 
of life. 

"Bid them farewell," cried Father Horn to the 
dumbfounded populace. 

There was a revival of intelligence. The women 
took off their variously colored shawls and waved 
them; the men threw out their hands. 

The stern face of Manuel melted. He whispered 
something to his wife, whereupon she raised her head 
and turned her blushing cheeks toward the shore. 



QUICK ACTION 145 

Carmelita smiled, whereat the men thus encouraged 
broke into cheers. 

Then CarmeHta whispered into her husband's ear. 
He, nodding approval, addressed the crowd. 

*'My dear wife," he called out, "invites all of you to 
come to Stanton Cay any time at all." 

The crowd became sunny and uproarious. 

"Father Horn!" came the clear alto voice. 

"Yes, my children." 

"Will your blessing reach this far?" 

"We can try it," answered the smiling priest, taking, 
as he spoke, a white stole from his pocket, and putting 
it about his neck. 

Upon the deck of The Indian Maid knelt Manuel 
and Carmelita, their heads bowed, their hands clasped. 
Almost as quickly the people on the shore went to 
their knees. The Carib captain, perched high aloft, 
was puzzled for a moment. He could not well kneel; 
so he did the next best thing, as it seemed to him, and 
hung by both knees from the yard-arm. 

Then in clear, sweet tones, tones vibrant with love 
for souls? the priest, making the sign of the cross, said : 

"May the blessing of God, the Father, the Son, and 
the Holy Ghost, descend upon you and remain with 
you forever." 

Then up rose Manuel and caught his wife in his 
arms, and, for the first time, kissed her; up rose the 
people and shouted for joy; down dropped the Carib 
captain, alighting, by a miracle, on his feet, and with 
him the sail, which at that moment took the very breeze 
that played in Eden when the first couple pledged 
mutual love and faithfulness to the end. 

"And now, my children," cried Don Enrico, that 
amazed expression still on his mahogany face, "go 
back. They are gone. But the wedding breakfast re- 
mains, and it is paid for." 



146 CANDLES' BEAMS 

With laugh and shout these children of nature has- 
tened back to Don Enrico's garden; while sailir^ into 
the golden west, with one black cherub gazing on with 
rounded eyes, went the happy pair, rich beyond count 
in each other's youthful love. 



ADA MERTON 



ADA MERTON 

CHAPTER I 

And now what are we? unbelievers both, 
Calm and complete, determinately fixed 
To-day, to-morrow and for ever. 

— Robert Browning. 

ABOUT three o'clock of a spring afternoon, in one 
- of the mansions which many years ago made 
Grand Avenue the finest residence street of St. Louis, 
a lady was seated in a luxuriously furnished boudoir. 
She was a queenly woman. Her forehead, low and 
broad, and her deep dark eyes wore an expression 
which denoted thought and study. Her face and clear 
complexion would lead the casual observer to judge 
her younger than she really was. This youthfulness 
of feature, however, was not at its best on the present 
occasion; for the nervous play of her fingers as she 
sat reading, and, now and then a sharp turn of the 
head indicated that she was disturbed and ill at ease. 
At every unwonted sound from without, she would 
rise quickly, and gaze eagerly out of the open window. 
But each time her look of disappointment deepened, 
and with the suspicion of a sigh she would resume 
her volume. She had been reading for some time 
without interruption, when the sound of the bells from 
the Redemptorist church hard by broke upon the still- 
ness of the afternoon. 

"O, those bells, those bells, those meaningless bells !" 
she exclaimed. 
Were they meaningless? The wish is often fallier 

149 



150 CANDLES' BEAMS 

to the thought. At all events, there was a time when 
to her those bells were full of meaning ; a time when 
at their call she hastened away cheerily in rain or 
shine, through mist or snow, to worship a God whose 
existence she now denied. She was wiser to-day; so 
was Eve after partaking of the forbidden fruit. She 
was unhappier, too, for her added knowledge; so was 
Eve for hers. And yet why should she be unhappy? 
Her husband was as loving and attentive as heart could 
desire, and her only child — her little daughter Ada! 
Surely, nature herself was divine that she could pro- 
duce a being so lovely, so complete. With such a hus- 
band and such a daughter, there should be a heaven 
upon earth. And yet — 

The opening of the gate below distracted her from 
her reverie, and, as she hastened to the window, her 
face lighted up with joy at sight of Mr. John Merton, 
her husband. Quickly descending the stairs, she met 
him in the vestibule, kissed him with affectionate wel- 
come, and helped him off with his overcoat. 

"It is Spring outside, and it is Spring within too, 
Mary. Your welcome is as bright as the flowers. It 
is such a relief from the busy, gruff, money-making 
people on ^Change.' But where is my little Ada ?" 

"She has not come home yet, John. Indeed, I feel 
somewhat worried about her; for school should have 
let out over half an hour ago." 

"You know what care killed, Mary," said Mr. Mer- 
ton, as they went up the stairs; "leave her alone, and 
she'll come home, like little Bo Peep who lost her 
sheep, you know." 

"Of course, it is foolish for me to worry, John ; but 
when either you or Ada do not come back when I am 
expecting you, I can't help getting alarmed. I suffer 
frofn a sort of waking nightmare, and cannot keep 
myself from imagining all manner of dreadful things." 



ADA MERTON 151 

"When you feel that way, my dear, you should read 
some humorous book, or go down stairs and tell the 
cook your honest opinion of the last meal, or fatigue 
your mind by reading, let us say, the 'Duchess/ " 

These suggestions delivered in an offhand, careless 
manner brought a smile upon Mrs. Merton's face, and 
the husband, satisfied with the cheering effect of his 
remarks, took an easy chair, and composed himself to 
look over the evening paper. 

He was nearing forty years of age. His face while 
masculine was singularly regular, and his well-trimmed 
moustache, his fashionable apparel and his studied yet 
easy carriage made it clear that he was by no means 
indifferent to his personal appearance. 

*'Mary," he resumed after a hasty survey of the 
paper's headlines, "I've been thinking seriously about 
Ada all day. Now really, my dear, is it not about time 
for us to take her in hand ourselves, and open her eyes 
to the truth? She is now going on eleven, and, I 
believe, quite intelligent enough to understand our posi- 
tion, if it only be put before her in the proper light." 

Although Mrs. Merton continued to smile, a slight 
shade of sadness clouded her face, as she replied, "I, 
too, John, have been thinking on this very point for 
some time past ; and still I do not see my way to taking 
your view of the case. Ada is young, and apt to be 
led rather by authority than by reason, as is proper in 
all innocent little children. And besides, let us practice 
what we preach. We both believe in liberty of 
thought; now why not let the child follow her own 
honest convictions? Suppose she continue going to 
the sisters' school for a year or two more. Even then 
she will not be over thirteen, and at that time we can 
easily appeal to her reason, and show her that not 
everything taught by the good sisters is to be blindly- 
believed." 



152 CANDLES' BEAMS 

"But why not send her to a non-Catholic, or better 
a sectarian school?'' urged Mr. Merton. "I should 
prefer that she learn Protestant doctrine." 

"That remark is scarcely worthy of you, my dear," 
answered Mrs. Merton with a slight touch of scorn 
in her tones. "Learn Protestant doctrine! I fear 
she would become gray before learning what Protestant 
doctrine really is — or isn't. As you have often said, 
everything that the sects believe is to be referred back 
to our — to the Catholic Church, as to the fountain- 
head. You may smile, John, but if I did believe in 
God, as was the case one year ago, I would live as 
a Catholic ; for it is the only religion that seems to be 
at all consistent." 

"See here, Mary," said Mr. Merton, straightening 
himself in his chair, and gazing fixedly into her eyes, 
"please do not talk in that fashion. One would think 
you were falling back." 

"No: I burnt my ships long ago. I had what they 
call 'faith' once, and I thought then that I should never 
lose it. But now even in the face of death, I would 
never think of appealing to a God, or returning to a 
religion which I put aside under your guidance and 
teaching. Not only do I no longer believe, but I no 
longer even wish to believe." 

Mr. Merton arose with a smile of triumph, and 
drew his wife to him. 

"Bravely said, my dear one," he exclaimed. "What 
you have said rings true; and your looks were in ac- 
cord with your words. When I married you, Mary, 
I resolved at first, and kept my resolve for some time, 
not to interfere with your faith. I went on the good 
old-fashioned principle of letting well enough alone. 
But as I came to love you more and more, I felt 
jealous that you should have any reserves in your love 
for me, giving half to me, and half to an imaginary 



ADA MERTON 153 

God. After the birth of our little Ada, this feeling 
bothered me more and more. You cannot imagine, 
I sincerely believe, how it vexed and annoyed me when 
you would leave my side of a morning to go and 
attend early Mass: and so, after five or six years of 
silent objection, I resolved that it was about time to 
open your eyes. But it wasn't quite so easy a task." 

"No, indeed," assented Mrs. Merton. 

"I thought you would see the truth just as soon as 
I put it to you, whereas for a long time you fought 
against me with all the subtlety of a Jesuit: And I 
was very glad at the end of three long years that at 
last my words and arguments were beginning to make 
an impression on you. But now that you have de- 
clared you no longer even wish to believe, I think that 
my victory is crowned. Henceforth, I shall never 
doubt you." 

Mrs. Merton's face flushed with pleasure. Words 
of praise are ever welcome ; but when they come from 
those who are highest and dearest in our estimation, 
they receive an added value in the love of the giver. 
Mr. Merton was not slow to observe the effect of his 
words, and, resolved on gaining his point, continued : — 

"And by the way, Mary, there's one thing yet I 
think you ought to attend to without further delay. 
Why not let Ada know that you are no longer a 
Catholic?" 

Mrs. Merton was about to reply but checked her- 
self, as the patter of a light footstep was heard upon 
the stairs. 



CHAPTER II 

Blue were her eyes as the fairy flax; 
Her cheek as the dawn of day; 
Her bosom ivhite as the hawthorn huds 
That ope in the month of May, 

— Longfeilow. 

ADA MERTON — for she it was — resembled her 
^ mother as the rose-bud resembles the rose. She 
was prettily attired, in a fashion which manifested a 
fond mother's care and taste at once. Ada's beautiful 
face was made more winning by her blue eyes. These 
windows of the soul revealed to all who gazed into their 
innocent depths the lovely history of a short, but pure, 
holy, and joyful life; of a shining soul beautiful still 
with the unsuUied robe of baptism, and enriched by the 
precious graces which come at the call and prayer of 
Christ's well-beloved little ones. In every feature 
dwelt that look of happiness which springs from inno- 
cence that has no dark memories in the past, and that 
sees no black shadows in the future. It was a look 
of happiness which slipped so easily into the radiant 
smile, that it were difficult to distinguish the point of 
transition. No one could come into contact with Ada 
without loving the child ; no one could love her without 
loving at the same time the sweet innocence which 
made and kept her what she was. 

On entering the room, she kissed her father with 
eager affection, then turned to her mother, who folded 
her to her bosom in the good old-fashioned way which 
all fond mothers, I doubt not, have kept up by a 
natural tradition since the days of mother Eve. 

"You are late, my little pet," cried Mrs. Merton. 

154 



ADA MERTON 155 

"Yes, mamma; but Sister Felicitas asked me to stay 
after school, and I've got such good news. — O ! I am 
sure you will hardly believe it." 

"What is it, darling?" asked the mother with much 
sympathetic interest in her voice, as she drew Ada to 
her side, and gently stroked the child's fair tresses. 

Ada smiled, shook her head with an air of mys- 
tery, and pointed to Mr. Merton who, apparently un- 
conscious of this bit of by-play, was again reading the 
paper. 

"Fm afraid papa won't like to hear it," she said in 
a whisper. 

"Just imagine that I'm down town," broke in the 
father, who had not been so engrossed with the paper 
as Ada had supposed. "Count me out for this time, 
Ada, and tell mamma what you please. Even if I do 
happen to overhear it, I promise not to have it pub- 
lished." 

"Now, papa, there you are making fun of me, as if 
anyone would care about publishing anything I have 
to say. But,rpapa, I shall tell you too, only I hope you 
won't be angry." 

"If you wish it, Ada, I will count a hundred before 
I say a word. Go on now, with your news. Shall I 
count ?" 

Ada with a puzzled expression cast an enquiring 
eye upon her father, who met her gaze with a face 
of the utmost gravity; but judging from her mother's 
laugh that he was quizzing her, went on: 

"Well, first of all, after class this afternoon Sister 
Felicitas examined me in my catechism; and I didn't 
miss but less than half of a question in half an hour." 

"O, that's your news is it ?" cried the father. "Well, 
I congratulate my little girl most heartily. To have 
a fine memory is a great advantage, and the learning 
of the catechism word for word, while it is an excellent 



156 CANDLES' BEAMS 

test of the memory, is also one of the best exerciser 
for developing it/' 

Mrs. Merton, as her husband spoke, was watching 
Ada's countenance. 

"That is not your news, Ada," she said, "though it 
is very good news too. What else, dear?" 

"Well, mamma. Sister Felicitas was very much 
pleased, and told me that I might join the class that 
is preparing for the first Communion." 

"The deuce !" muttered Mr. Merton, throwing aside 
his paper with a start and a frown; "this is news." 
And he bit his lip, and began pulling at his mustache. 

"But, Ada," said the mother, whose face to the 
eager eyes of the child seemed disappointingly cold, 
"you are much too young: you must wait till you are 
twelve. *Birdie, wait a little longer, till the little wings 
are stronger/ " She added the quotation from the 
poet in a playful tone; for she saw how pained was 
the child at her first words. But Ada was not to be 
diverted into playfulness on this subject. 

"O mamma !" she said with voice so appealing and 
face so pitiful, that Mrs. Merton could not withstand 
her silent eloquence. 

"Well, darling, I can't disappoint you: have your 
own way." 

Ada's face glowed with pleasure. 

"Stuff — ^nonsense — superstition — humbug/' muttered 
in an almost inaudible growl the husband from the 
sofa. 

"See here, papa," said Ada with her beautiful smile 
and with her little fore-finger raised in an admonitory 
manner, "you just keep quiet for a while, and I'll pray 
and pray till you believe just exactly the same as 
mamma and I. Won't he, mamma?" 

"Yes, dearest: I hope we shall all believe the same 
thing soon/' 



ADA MERTON 157 

The conversation was interrupted by a knock at the 
door, followed by the entrance of the negro porter, 
who in addition to his other duties had the proud 
charge of escorting Ada to and from school. He was 
an old servant in the family, as was indeed very evident. 

With a gesture of greeting to his master and mis- 
tress which was a compromise between a nod and a 
bow, Bob straightened up, put on a very serious look 
which lasted for but a moment, and then burst into the 
happiest of smiles. 

^'What's the matter, Bob?" asked Mr. Merton. "Have 
you good news, too?" 

"She's done tole you," chuckled Bob, rubbing his 
hands. "Mebbe she ain't a smart little one. O no! 
Now, Massah, ain' she done tole you bof ?" 

"Told us what ?" asked the master of the house, who, 
brought up in the slave days under Bob's personal 
care, allowed the old negro many liberties. 

"Why, dat she's a~gwine fur to make her fust Com- 
munion. She done tole me all about it, comin' heah 
from school. An' she's de happies' little gal in de 
whole city ol St. Louis. Bless her heart, I'se willin 
f er to bet dat ef she had a nice par o' wings on her, 
she'd make just as lubly an angel as you can cotch 
flyin' 'roun' de golden street." 

Ada laughed, and Bob gazed at her with serio-comi- 
cal indignation. Mr. Merton was amused. 

"So," queried Mr. Merton quizzingly, "you believe 
that angels have wings, do you?" 

"Cose I does," answered the negro with energy and 
respectful indignation. "I'se no cognostic like some 
people I knows, who don' blieve in nuffin 'cept what 
dey sees. I'se got religion ; an' I tell you what, Massa 
Mutton, you'se gwine to git lef ' some o' dese fine days, 
sho's de Lawd made little apples. As de good book 
says, *you mus' be a lubber ob de Lawd, or you nebber 



158 CANDLES' BEAMS 

git to hebben when yo' die.' " Bob emphasized the 
quotation by setting it to a peculiar nasal but musical 
monotone, and rolling the whites of his eyes in a man- 
ner peculiar to gentlemen of his color when unusually 
devout. 

"Quite a respectable hormily, Bob," returned his 
master. "But is this all you came to see me about?" 

"Da's a f ac' ; 1 kem mighty neah f ergitten to ax yo' 
ef you want de bay bosses or de oder par hitched up." 

"Take the bays. Bob." 

"En I clean forgot about de new ha'ness. It has 
jist come. Yo' like to see it?" 

"Ah! has it? You bring your real news last, as a 
woman puts the point of her letter into the postscript. 
— Well, my dears, if you excuse me for a minute or 
two, I shall go to see what sort of taste Bob has in the 
choice of harness." And Mr. Merton followed by his 
sable spiritual admonitor left the room. No sooner 
was the door closed upon them, then Ada turned to her 
mother with a look of wistfulness and trouble. 

"I wonder, mamma, whether it is not my sins that 
keep papa from knowing and loving God ?" 

"Not yours, dearest," answered Mrs. Merton, draw- 
ing the child close, and fondling her with hungry 
tenderness. 

"I hope not," pursued Ada; "for I am trying my 
very best to do nothing wrong. I say a pair of beads 
every day for poor papa, and during the consecration 
at Mass, I always think of him." 

"That is so like my little girl," said the mother still 
fondling the child, and struggling hard against an un- 
easy feeling, which often came upon her during such 
colloquies with Ada ; — a feeling all the more distress- 
ing that she was unable to analyse it. "Your father 
and I are always very happy when we see bow much 
you love us. But tell me, my little darling, do you 



ADA MERTON 159 

think you would love me and papa still more, if you 
did not know that there was a God?" 

Ada's smile left her, and a look of dismay came upon 
her mobile countenance. 

"Why, mama, that is nonsense, isn't it? It sounds 
so strange ! And just a while ago when I told you 
about my being allowed to make my first Communion, 
you almost scared me, mamma ; and I felt like shiver- 
ing." 

*'I scare you, Ada !" 

"Yes, mamma: I expected you to be so glad, and 
instead there was a sort of a look on your face — I 
don't know what it was, — but it was not glad; and 
I felt so surprised and sorry. I could not help think- 
ing that you were angry with me." 

"With you, my pet? No, indeed, Ada; I was not, 
I could not be angry with you." 

"Well, then, mamma, you were vexed that I was 
going to make my first Communion this year." 

"Oh, but that is quite another thing, dear. You 
are right, Ada. I don't like it. You see, I think that 
if you waited ,^nother year, you would be older, — and 
often it is better to wait a year or two than go to Com- 
munion without knowing well and clearly what you are 
doing." 

"But, mamma, do you think that I am too young to 
know what I am doing?" 

Mrs. Merton paused before replying. She tried to 
be truthful with her child, and, with the single excep- 
tion of her change of faith, she was wont to answer 
every question frankly. 

"Well, my dear, many people hold that it is not good 
for most children to go to Holy Communion till they 
are over twelve. Then they are more developed, and 
more in earnest." 

"And was that your only reason for not being glad. 



160 CANDLES* BEAMS 

mamma; just because you wanted me to be better 
prepared ?" 

"N — ^no. But I do not care to tell my little girl the 
other reason: she is too young to understand it. But 
you mustn't try to be a saint all at once." Mrs. 
Merton uttered this last remark in such a way that 
it was hard to say whether she spoke in jest or earnest. 
It was meant to be tentative. 

"Of course, I'm going to try to be a saint! we all 
must try to be that. Sister Felicitas said in class the 
other day that Our Lord wants every one of us to be 
saints." 

"Nonsense!" — Here Mrs. Merton checked herself 
and added more mildly, "I suppose Sister Felicitas 
doesn't mean everything that she says." 

In spite of herself, Ada could not hide the chilling 
effect which these words had upon her. The mother 
saw that she had scandalized her child, and involun- 
tarily the terrible words of Christ denouncing those 
who scandalize His little ones recurred to her. 

"I am sure, mamma," answered Ada recovering 
herself partially, "that you would not speak so of 
Sister Felicitas if you knew her. All the girls in our 
class love her, and think she is a real saint. I pray 
that I may become like her." 

"Now, now, Ada, you are not thinking of becoming 
a nun, are you ?" 

"O, I don't think so far off as that," answered Ada 
dreamily. "But all I mean is that I'm trying to be 
good and gentle like Sister Felicitas. She often tells 
us to act always as if we saw our guardian angel 
beside us. Don't you often think of your guardian 
angel, mamma?" 

"Why, child, what strange questions you ask: of 
course, I think of him — sometimes." Mrs. Merton was 



ADA MERTON 161 

treading on dangerous ground. As she answered, her 
face flushed, and she turned away her eyes. 

"Do you ?" cried Ada with a look of gladness. "So 
do I often, mamma : and, do you know, sometimes it 
seems to me that, if I keep myself free from sin and 
from all wilful faults, God may let me see my angel 
before I die." 

"I see my angel every day," rejoined Mrs. Merton, 
playfully yet in full earnest. "For you, my little one, 
are my dear angel; and you, my little one, are always 
showing me the way to heaven." 

Ada was puzzled. She would have been pained had 
she known what her mother meant by the word 
"heaven." That word on Mrs. Merton's lips bore no 
reference to the land beyond. 

"But come, my dear," added Mrs. Merton. "I see 
the carriage is waiting: let us not delay your father." 



CHAPTER III 

For even as ruin is wrought by rain. 
Beating hard on the mellowing crops, 
Making the labor of farmers vain, 
Smiting and blighting the barley tops, 
So is wrack in the souls of men 
Wrought by passion, desire and sin. 

C. /. C. 

WHILE the Mertons are driving along the fine 
boulevards of Forest Park, then, as now, the 
chosen driving resort of St. Louisans, it will be well 
for the reader to learn something of Mr. and Mrs. 
Merton's antecedents. 

John Merton was the son of wealthy Catholic par- 
ents. As far as they were Catholic, it was good for 
John ; as far as they were wealthy, it was bad. While 
not prepared to assert absolutely that wealthy parents, 
because they are wealthy, are a misfortune to a boy, 
the present writer humbly submits that in the general- 
ity of cases they are. In one of his stories for boys — 
Maurice Francis Egan makes the following remark, 
which it is well for those having care of the young to 
bear in mind : — "When a boy has a comfortable home 
and everybody is kind to him, and clothes and food and 
warmth and books seem to come as a matter of course, 
he will probably become selfish without knowing it." 
John Merton was, at the age of fourteen, light-hearted, 
gay, witty, perfectly good-natured and perfectly selfish. 
His good traits were recognized by everyone, but I 
doubt whether any true friend, brushing aside the 
exterior qualities which make many a boy lovely to 
eyes that see not beneath the surface, ever endeavored 

162 



ADA MERTON 163 

tA> reveal to the boy his inner self ; to show him how he 
rtcver turned his hand, took one thought, formulated 
d single wish, which in some way or other was not to 
turn to his immediate account. On the other hand, 
!iis parents, as I have said, were Catholic, and, accord- 
ing to the usual standard, good Catholics at that. The 
mother was really devout ; she trained her boy care- 
fully in his religion and in his duties ; and, if she were 
blind to his defective character, let us pardon this 
iault of blindness which loses much of its reproach 
sand even takes on a certain sweetness in the holy light 
of a mother's tender love. She died when John was 
fifteen, and one year later her husband followed her. 
John's father was a business man first, and a Catholic 
second. Accordingly, he left his son in the charge 
of a person who was noted for his qualities as a finan- 
cier. True, the guardian had no religion at all; but, 
to the man who puts business first, religion second, 
such a consideration, to use his own figure, "does not 
cut much of a figure." Shortly after the death of his 
father, John was^ sent to a boarding school. It was 
fashionable: the rest is not written. If along with his 
religious training young Merton had had a little man- 
liness, he might have practiced his religion even in 
these unhealthy surroundings. But he had just that 
amount of manliness, which we expect to find in people 
who are thoroughly selfish, and thoroughly good-na- 
tured. He called himself a Catholic, when there was 
no escaping the admission — that was the extent of his 
religion. Allowed a liberal supply of pocket-money, 
he spent lavishly ; so that, very soon, he was quite 
barnacled with friends. In a short time, Merton's 
freedom extended itself even to his conversation. Then, 
it went to his reading. The French novel, the infidel 
pamphlet, books free in tone, independent of all canons, 
whether of taste or of thought or of logic, — such had 



164 CANDLES' BEAMS 

now become his mental food. We may pass over in 
silence the next two or three years. John was per- 
fectly respectable — which, being interpreted, means 
that he dressed well, had a good manner, and, as to 
the rest, was not found out. Now a sinful life such 
as he was leading is bound to cloud the mind. It is 
no wonder, then, that he soon ceased to entertain any 
belief in a place of eternal torments; no wonder that 
he soon lost, to all intents and purposes, the faith which 
he had received in baptism, and strengthened through 
the sacraments of his church. If there is anything that 
clouds the intellect, dulls it to all that is highest and 
noblest, and crushes into silence and insensibility the 
conscience which once was quiveringly delicate, it is 
the deadly enervating, baneful fume of impure 
thoughts. To men thus poisoned, however aesthetic 
they may be in regard to sensuous beauty, to sight, to 
sound, to color, to taste, to fragrance, yet they cannot 
rise with their wingless thoughts tO' the super-sensible. 
They remind one of flies in a jar of honey — ^in a sweet- 
ness which cannot last, from which they cannot rise, 
which is to be their destruction. To men of this kind 
the high and holy doctrine of the Incarnation and the 
Redemption seem as some childish fairy tale. How 
far John Merton's excesses would have led him, it is 
impossible to say, had he not, fortunately, conceived a 
strong love for Miss Arden, at that time one of the 
leading debutantes in St. Louis society.^ It was not 
generally known that he was an infidel. Miss Arden 
had not the least suspicion. Hence, after a short 
period of wooing, he succeeded with but small difficulty 
in gaining his suit ; and Miss Arden, without knowing 
aught of the inner life of him to whom she was to 
cleave in sorrow and in joy, in life and until death, 
surrendered herself blindly to be his helpmate for 
better or for worse. These things are done every day. 



ADA MERTON 165 

Mrs. Merton, at this time, united in herself a strong 
love for religion, and a strong love for the world. 
They were seemingly parallel lines in her character. 
On the face of it, one would think that two such loves 
could not co-exist. But we cannot argue against facts, 
Worldliness and religion sometimes go together — ^they 
are dangerous neighbors, and however parallel they 
seem to be they are likely in the long run to cross each 
other. Then one or the other must give. 

She had always been a devout girl; but like many 
of her class she had compromised with her conscience 
on the one question of worldliness. After the first years 
of marriage, her husband undertook to inform her of 
his religious views. She was shocked, and the revul- 
sion of feeling made her, for a time, more devout than 
ever before. She eagerly essayed to convince her hus- 
band of his errors; but the young infidel, or agnostic, 
as he called himself, was, to do him justice, far better 
armed on his side of the controversy than she on hers, 
and soon silenced her strongest arguments. 

Years passed on, and the vantage-ground of battle 
had changed. Merton plied his wife with infidel books ; 
he assembled about his table men of culture, but of no 
belief; he enkindled in his wife, by subtle means, the 
desire of becoming a queen in society. His tempta- 
tions succeeded but too well. Mary Merton began to 
neglect the sacraments ; — the theatre on Saturday night 
and Communion on Sunday morning do not appear to 
have a very natural connection. Nor was it long be- 
fore she arrived at the conclusion that, to retain her 
hold in fashionable circles. Lent could hardly be kept 
as a season of penance. Following this, her Easter 
duties were neglected; and so the miserable, worldly 
woman found herself in the same situation as her 
husband has been years before — ^anxious to believe 
there was no hell. 



166 CANDLES' BEAMS 

Bravely did John Merton come to the rescue; and, 
at the time that our story opens, she had been one year 
an unbehever. In the meantime, Httle Ada happily 
ignorant of her mother's defection was attending a 
convent school, and growing more and more saint-like 
every day. 

Husband and wife were devotedly attached to each 
other. They had but one life (so they believed) and 
they would make the most of it: they had the actual 
''acre of Middlesex," and laughed at the "principality 
of Utopia." In loving each other and seeking each 
other's comfort, they had staked their happiness. The 
progress of Ada in mind and body was the one other 
grand object of their lives. So far they had been 
happy. Their heaven upon earth seemed to be flaw- 
less. But since the days that men wandered from God 
and walked in their own ways, since the days that the 
peoples of the earth boldly raised the proud head of 
Babel up into the very face of the heavens, thousands 
and millions of erring mortals have attempted to build 
their heaven upon this earth, only to hear in the hey- 
day of their joy; 

"The house was builded of the earth, 
And shall fall again to ground." 



CHAPTER IV 

"/ ha^e at home a flawless diamond ring" 
"And I a jezvel that would grace a king." 
"Better than both," there came a third voice mdd, 
"I h<me at home a sinless little child" 

— Anon.. 

More things are wrought by prayer than this 
world dreams of. — Tennyson. 

AS Ada alighted from the carriage, on their return 
^ from Forest Park, there was a pensive, bewil- 
dered, half-frightened air about the little child. She 
could not bring herself to dwell upon it, and yet the 
thought would come that her father had shocked her. 
He had spoken more plainly than was his wont; he 
had openly derided practices and beliefs which were 
most sacred to her; and twist it and turn it as she 
might, she could not interpret favorably her father's 
conduct. Hei;: mother, too, though not siding with Mr. 
Merton, had protested so faintly as almost to counte- 
nance his remarks. 

The poor child loved her parents intensely; and it 
is the words of those we love which inflict the deepest 
pain. Some writers tell us that the heart given to 
God is selfish and narrow, cares nothing for relatives 
and friends, and offers all that is nearest and dearest 
on the shrine of eternal love. They go on to instance 
what they are pleased to call the proverbial "coldness" 
of monks and nuns ; and assert that by rule a religious 
is obliged to "hate father and mother." These asser- 
tions are about as close to the truth as that of another 
class of writers who insist that as a rule the monk or 
the nun is in religion on account of blighted affection. 

167 



168 CANDLES' BEAMS 

As a matter of fact, when we love God as He desires 
us, we love all things else in Him and for Him. The 
most affectionate hearts, the truest souls, the noblest 
lives are to be found under the veil of the nun or the 
habit of the religious. "As radiancy," says Cardinal 
Manning, "is a part of light, so the love of mankind 
flows in a direct stream from the love of God. In the 
measure in which we love God, in that measure we 
shall have more heart-felt love to all that are about us. 
A father will be a better father, and a mother a better 
mother ; son and daughter will be better children ; they 
will love each other more, and friends will love one 
another more in the measure in which they love God 
more." 

So Ada in loving her Creator clung all the closer 
to her parents, and the one sorrow of her young and 
gracious life was now beginning, inasmuch as she could 
no longer disguise from herself the fact that while her 
father openly flouted her most sacred and cherished 
beliefs, her mother repelled the child's confidences with 
a coldness which could not be misunderstood. 

After supper that evening, Mr. and Mrs. Merton 
went out to attend an evening reception, leaving Ada 
to the solitude of her little room. It was on the same 
floor as were the apartments of her parents, but look- 
ing towards the west so as to command an extensive 
view of the beautiful suburbs of the city, and away 
beyond them the green fields, the early corn, and shady 
forests of the country, with here and there a cosy little 
farmhouse. The room was beautifully fitted up. 
About the walls hung pictures of our thorn-crowned 
Saviour, his sorrowful Mother, and the sweet, virgin- 
wreathed St. Agnes. Next to a book-case filled with 
choice volumes, many of them written expressly for 
the young, was Ada's study desk; above which was 



ADA MERTON 169 

a shrine, blooming and fragrant with flowers, in honor 
of the Sacred Heart. 

Beside the desk was a dainty pria-dieu, upon which 
lay a silver crucifix — the child's dearest treasure. 
Kneeling down, and kissing the crucifix with tender 
reverence, Ada remained for a few moments in earnest 
prayer. Then rising, she seated herself at her desk, 
and began her studies for the following day's class. 
The little girl possessed fine talent, and (a thing which 
does not always accompany that gift) she loved her 
books. She had been working for over an hour, when 
she was interrupted by a knock at the door. 

"O, is it you, Maggie?" she exclaimed, as her maid 
entered, "I'm glad you have come; for I was wishing 
to tell you the good news. Sit down." 

"The good news, is it ?" said Maggie her ruddy kind 
face breaking into a perfect sun-burst of smiles. "Now, 
what is it, my dear girl ?" 

"I am going to make my first Communion next 
Easter, Maggie." 

"Are you, now? Well, sure, I'm delighted to hear 
it, and I'd just like to see any one deny it." Here 
Maggie, who without prejudice to her honest, kindly 
nature, might be described as a good-natured maid of 
a staccato temperament, looked around with momentary 
asperity to catch the inaudible protest of some imagi- 
nary opponent. "And, darling," she continued, break- 
ing into a smile again, "how did your father like it?" 

The smile died away from Ada's face. "O Mag- 
gie," she cried, "he was so vexed, and looked dis- 
pleased all the time we were out driving. And I had 
thought mamma would be so glad; and instead she 
seemed to be put out almost as much as papa." 

"Now, was she, alannah?" said Maggie soothingly, 
her honest cherry complexion glowing like a cloud of 
evening in the western sky; "she's been reading more 



170 CANDLES' BEAMS 

of that grinning monkey of a French philosopher, Vul^ 
ture — or some such carrion, heathenish name — I sup- 
pose. May the divil fly away with those infernal books 
against faith — God forgive me for saying of the same, 
and for bringing such an ugly subject into this here 
little room, where there's a sweeter, holier, lovelier 
little heart, than those heathenish writers ever dreamt 
of, since the days they were weaned which was a great 
pity all around, seeing as they should never have grown* 
up at all. There now, Miss Ada," she concluded, 
having equally expended her breath and her indigna- 
tion, "I've said my say out, and I'd like to see any- 
body unsay it." This peroration, begun with swelling 
veins and snapping eyes, was no sooner ended than 
Maggie lapsed into her wonted state of unindignant 
benevolence. 

"Do you think mamma reads many books against 
faith, Maggie?" and the poor girl's face quivered with 
pain in fear of the answer. 

"Do she," answered Maggie, who, in an unusual 
state of warmth, was wont to become more and more 
rudimentary in her language, "she does be reading 
them agnostuck writers all the time; and that grand 
Turk your father — Lord forgive me for saying so, 
but, as far as faith goes, he might as well be a Turk 
as not, and nobody any the wiser — ^he buy^ her them 
books faster than she can read 'em. But why are you 
crying, Ada ?" 

The child leaned her head upon her old nurse's 
bosom, and for a few moments sobbed. 

"Poor, dear, little Ada," said Maggie in softened 
tones, "it's a shame for me to be talking the way I do. 
Instead of cheering and consoling the darling little 
girl I learned to walk and used to carry about in my 
arms, here I come like a tattooed Hottentot with my 
cock and bull stories, a-making things ten times worse 



ADA MERTON 171 

than they are — cheer up, alannah, now do — you're 
father isn't half as much a Turk as I am." 

"Ah, Maggie, it makes me so sad, thinking that my 
father doesn't love nor care for the dear Saviour who 
died for him; and mamma, too, though she believes, 
doesn't seem to love God at all." 

"That's all true, my darling, all the truth, and noth- 
ing else hut the truth," Maggie returned, with some 
dim memory of an oath she had once heard adminis- 
tered in court. "But we can pray for them, and if we 
pray enough we're bound to be heard." 

"Yes, Maggie; but I have prayed so long; day and 
night I have prayed to the Heart that is so full of 
graces, and yet my prayers seem not to be heard." 

"Wait a little, darling. Patience and perseverance 
will bring a snail to Jerusalem. And I'll pray with 
you, and we will keep on praying till both your pa and 
your ma believe in God, and all His holy truths — which 
they will of course sooner or later — and I'd like to see 
anybody say they wouldn't, now !" 

"Well, Maggie, we will pray as hard as we can. 
And don't forget to ask the Infant Jesus to keep me 
from all sin so that when He comes to me in Holy Com- 
munion, He may feel perfectly at home. Good night, 
Maggie." 

Upon Maggie's departure, Ada having extinguished 
her light, walked to her window and stood gazing upon 
the calm and clear night. The moon was just appear- 
ing in the heavens, and a thousand stars were perform- 
ing the magnificent course, from which they had never 
departed, since their Creator had said, "Let there be 
light." A few dark clouds, like wandering spirits, were 
moving along obscuring, here and there, the jewelled 
bosom of the firmament; scarce a sound invaded the 
stillness of nature's repose. And as Ada surveyed the 
heavens, thoughts born of the tranquil beauty of the 



172 CANDLES^ BEAMS 

night passed through her mind. She wondered whether 
it was not at such a time as this that the fertile plain 
of Judea shone in the light of glory, and the bright 
angels of the heavenly band brought tidings of joy to 
all the nations ; whether it is not at such a time as this 
that the same glad spirits still continue, though veiled 
from our eyes, to carry messages of love from the 
throne of Divine peace to the troubled hearts of men ; 
whether even now among these myriad envoys of 
heaven there might not be one who bore some power- 
ful grace to her hapless parents. Nature to her was 
an endless book of beauty. Every creature of the 
great God raised her soul to Him and His imperishable 
home. Breathing a sigh, she turned, after a few mo- 
ments, to her prie-dieu, and earnestly prayed for father 
and mother, who little dreaming of their Ada's vigil, 
were following their round of pleasure. She told her 
beads ; then recited the Litany of the Blessed Virgin — 
all for her parents. Finally, with arms outstretched 
and unsupported, she continued her prayers, thinking 
at the same time of Him who for three long weary 
hours prayed in the same position upon the Cross. 
And as she persevered in prayer, the moon rose slowly 
higher in the sky, and flecked the room with silver 
bars, and threw a bright mantle of glory around the 
fragile form of the praying child. 



CHAPTER V 

Kind gifts to sor^e, kind words to more. 
Kind looks to each and all she gave, 

Which on with them through life they bore, 
And down into their grave. 

— Aubrey De Vere. 

"/'^OOD by, my dear, and be sure not to be late 
VJ coming home." 

"Good by, mamma," answered Ada as, kissing her 
mother, she set off, satchel in hand, to school, under 
the charge of master Bob. 

"Missy Ada," said Bob when they had gained the 
street, "how does it come dat some folks is drefful 
pooah, while odders is just a rollin' in de lap of 
luggery ?" 

"Why, Bob, would you like to see one person just 
as rich as another?" 

"Dat's jist de way to put it. Missy Ada. I'se jist 
as good as de pos' white trash wot I knows of." 

"Never mind. Bob, if you be a good man, you'll be 
better off in the next world than a good many of the 
'white trash.' " 

"Well, I is drefful good. I s'pect I habn't done 
nuffin bad, sence I'se been a-working for your pa who 
am a fuss class massa, 'cep' he don't blieve nufifin he 
can't see. Why, if you go in a rest — rest." — Here Bob 
paused and made that head-gesture usually indicative 
of jogging the memory. Suddenly the forgotten word 
sprang from the recesses of his hidden lore like a 
verbal Minerva. — "Ah, into a resturent, ef you go into 
a resturent, you ain't a gwine to see nuffin on de table 
'cep' de castors — 'cos de dinnah am in de ketchin. 

173 



174 CANDLES' BEAMS 

Now it ud jest be like your pa to walk out o' dat res- 
turent, as chockfuU o' emptiness as he kem in, 'cos 
he don't blieve in no dinner dat he can't see — Dat," 
added Bob in a low, mysterious tone, as though he 
were imparting a secret of no common value, — "dat, 
Missy Ada, is all de doctrine of de cognostics.'* 

"What is?" asked Ada. 

"Why, dat dey don't blieve nuffin dat dey don't see. 
But dese matters is too perfound fo' you. Missy Ada, 
darefore, let's drop him. I'se kine o' sorry. Missy, we 
wont go to school togedder in de nex' world nor eber 
see each udder." 

"Why, Bob," Ada enquired, her eyes brightening 
with merriment, "don't you think I have a chance for 
heaven ?" 

"Cose ; but you goes to de white tr , white folks' 

hebben; an' de Lawd will send ole Bob among de 
cullud pussons." 

"You're talking nonsense now, Bob. How can you 
believe such things as that?" 

"Well, you see. Missy Ada, I'se a shoutin Meffodis', 
an* hab de right to blieve what I like. Now from wot 
I hab seen, I'se 'eluded dat de Lawd ain't a gwine to 
mix people in de new Jooslem. You 'member Massa 
Stanley, de grain spekeltater? He done your pa out 
o' a heap o' money, an' robbed lots o' pooah folk. Wen 
he committed suicide, he was wuflf a million dollahs, 
an' all de big folk went to his funral. I was dar, an 
when de preacher said dat we was all jussified by faith, 
an' dat massa Stanley was a singin' Glory Yallow 
looyer wid de angels, I says to myself, I says ; — 'de 
Lawd ain't goin' to make pooah 'spectable niggah man 
'sociate with sech bad men as dat.' So I'se excluded, 
Missy Ada, dat cullud pussons is gwine to hab an- 
nuder hebben." 

"I'm afraid, Bob, that your religion is not the right 



ADA MERTON ITS 

one ; but some day, please God, you will become a good 
Catholic." 

"I dunno', Missy Ada, but what I will. I 'clar* 
'fore hebben. Missy, when I sees you so good an' kine 
to pooah black niggah like me, an' sees you so good 
an' lubbin' to all pooah folks, I jest feels all ober dat 
your 'ligion's de mos' 'spectable a-goin'." 

'*Very good, Bob, next Sunday I'm going to seaid 
you to a priest." 

"I'se a willin', Missy." 

Up to this point of their talk they had been ad- 
vancing in the direction of the convent; but now, they 
turned aside, and proceeded towards a dilapidated 
hovel, standing lone on a large, open lot. 

"Poor Mrs. Reardon !" said Ada, as they drew near 
the dwelling, **God sends her many trials." 

**Dat's a fac'," answered Bob, *'I wonder ef her old 
man is home. Ef he is, I reckon I'll tech him up a 
little." 

"Now Bob," said Ada shaking her finger at him, 
"you mustn't do a thing unless I tell you." 

They had reached the threshold, as they spoke, and 
it was impossible for them not to hear the sound of an 
angry, scolding voice within. As Ada knocked, the 
voice ceased, and a dead silence ensued. Not waiting 
for permission to come in, the child entered followed 
by Bob. A sad scene met their eyes. Mrs. Reardon 
a woman barely of middle age, whose hair had been 
already silvered by care and distress, stood by the door 
weeping: on a bed, in one corner of the room lay an 
emaciated boy of eight, his flushed cheeks and bright 
eyes betokening fever; and, supporting himself by 
clinging to a table, stood the master of the family, his 
beard and hair unkempt, his dress disordered and his 
eyes burning with a light common equally to drunken- 
ness and to insanity. As the new-comers entered tihe 



176 CANDLES' BEAMS 

room, the little child smiled with pleasure, the woman 
dried her eyes, while the man turned away his bloated 
face for very shame. 

''Good day, good day," said Ada with a pleasant 
smile of greeting; "you have trouble this morning," 
she added in a lower tone to Mrs. Reardon. "Poor 
woman, what a pity Mr. Reardon can't keep from 
drinking." 

"God help me, Ada, but he was once as kind a hus- 
band as ever drew the breath of life. And now if you 
look at his miserable face you can see no sign of the 
manly, merry fellow he once was." 

"Ada!" cried the child from his bed, "I'm so glad 
to see you; come here, Ada, and tell me another of 
those beautiful stories." 

"And so, Geordie, you are still alive enough to care 
about my stories are you? Well, now, what shall 
it be?" 

"Tell me something more about the angels, Ada." 

The girl thought for a moment, and then in a quiet, 
simple manner repeated to him, as she remembered it, 
one of Father Faber's exquisite "Tales of the Angels." 
The mother stood by listening with no less interest 
than her child; the miserable father, still balancing 
himself by means of the table, heard with growing 
shame of those blessed spirits than whom he had been 
created a little less; while master Bob divided his 
attention between bestowing a look of compassion upon 
the boy, lavishing frowns upon the master of the 
house, and lending an occasional ear to the story 
itself. 

"Now, Geordie," said Ada after the tale had been 
told, "it is time for me to go to school. But I have 
something nice for you — just the thing for a fever, 
mamma says." 

Ada took from her satchel two large oranges and 



ADA MERTON 177 

a slice of cake. The grateful boy little knew, though 
he had been receiving such presents daily, that Ada was 
giving him — sacrificing to him — ^all the palatable dain- 
ties which Mrs. Merton had fondly destined for her 
daughter's luncheon. 

''Thank you, Ada, thank you a thousand times; I 
do so love oranges," and the child's eyes, even as he 
spoke, filled with happy tears. 

"God bless you for a good angel," said the mother : 
"and if my prayers can do such as you any good, you 
shall have them, and welcome." 

"Indeed, they will do me good: good morning, 
Geordie ; good morning Mrs. Reardon." 

"Hold on, Missy Ada," broke in Bob at this junc- 
ture, who felt that he had a duty to acquit himself of 
before society. " 'Fore you go, I want to impress my 
'pinion on this heah man. Isn't yo' ashamed of yousef, 
sah ? What do you mean, by comin' home to de family 
in sech a condition? You'se a bad man, and wants a 
soberin' up, an' dis chile's de man who knows how to 
tend to dat part of de business." And Mr. Bob picked 
up a convenient bucket of water, with the intention of 
giving its rightful owner the full benefit of the con- 
tents. But Reardon would not tamely submit to this; 
he made a rush at master Bob, and what would have 
ensued, it is impossible to say, had not Ada inter- 
posed her tiny person between the two. 

"Now, Bob," she said, "what did I tell you before 
you came in? It's a shame for men to fight before 
women." 

"Berry well. Missy, it ain't de right cose to fight 
afore women ; an' I'se drefful shamed o* myself. Look 
heah, you one," he continued addressing his remarks 
to Reardon, "ef you'se a gwine to git cantankerous 
agin, while I'se around; I'll — I'll — ^spifHcate you; and 
don't forgit it." 



178 CANDLES^ BEAMS 

Reardon, ordinarily bold and fearless, was meek as 
a lamb before the amiable child visitor ; and taking no 
notice of Bob's vituperative eloquence, at length sum- 
moned courage to speak to the girl. 

"God forgive me. Miss Ada, for being the brute I 
am, with my child lying sick in bed, and my wife 
wasting her very life at work. I am worse than a 
brute. But pardon me this time. Miss Ada." 

"Mr. Reardon,*' Ada answered, "I hope that you 
and I may become great friends yet; good morning, 
now ; and Geordie, I hope you'll be better to-morrow." 
With these words, Ada left the house: master Bob 
stalked after her, muttering between his teeth, and 
shaking his head fiercely; after some time, however, 
he recovered his usual serenity, and his face became 
about as sunshiny as a gentlemen of color's can well 
become. 

"Dat's a berry good woman, Missy Ada." 

"Indeed she is. Bob; she has many hard things to 
bear in this world ; but the good God will make up for 
her troubles in the next." 

"De fac' is. Missy Ada, I'se no disjections to bein' 
in de same hebben as her," Bob continued after a 
moment's meditation. They had now reached the con- 
vent gate, and Bob took his departure. 



CHAPTER VI 

Hide not the clouds among. 
Brightest star and fairest, 
Until her song those heavens along 
Between thy wings thou hear est. 

— Aubrey De Vere. 

I sit to-night by the fire-light. 
And I look at the glowing flame. 
And I see in the bright red flashes 
A Heart, a Face and a Nam^. 

— Abram J. Ryan. 

JOHN MERTON, the course of whose financial 
affairs had thus far run smooth, happened abotit 
this period to become entangled in an unlucky specula- 
tion. Often of an evening would his wife wait for 
hours beyond his ordinary time of returning before 
he came home, jaded and taciturn. Instead of accom- 
panying her to the various gay assemblages of society, 
at which they were both so welcome, he would plead 
business engagements, and absent himself till late in 
the night. On several of these occasions, Mrs. Merton 
noticed with distress, that he had sought solace in 
stimulants. Never had she spoken a reproachful word 
to him; and so she trembled in silent horror, fearing 
that this perhaps was but the shadow of the dark days 
to come. Was John, the cultured society man, the 
noble, high-souled gentleman, the loving husband — was 
he to court the demon of the glass ? The thought was 
dreadful; and, as she sat by the fireside alone, and 
gazed into the crackling coals, dreadful pictures of 
broken household idols, blighted hopes, and life-tong 

179 



180 CANDLES' BEAMS 

sorrows would project themselves in weird, elfin shapes 
among the glowing embers, or dance ghastly, vague, 
and fantastical upon the walls. Her infidel authors 
were thrown aside; and to divert her attention from 
saddening thoughts, she would talk for hours to Ada; 
but the pure girl's holy aspirations were beyond the 
ken of one who had made a heaven of baser and 
earthier materials. 

She was sitting, one evening, with Ada beside her, 
when the child, after looking for some time in silence 
at the fire, suddenly said : 

"Mamma, do you see any pictures in the fire?" 

"Yes, darling," answered the mother, with a little 
shiver, "dreadful, horrible pictures." 

"Horrible!" repeated Ada, with a look so dreamy 
and withal so quaint and old-fashioned, as to cause 
Mrs. Merton to start. "Now that's queer," she went 
on in a musing tone, and with an expression strange 
in one of her years; "I see nothing but beautiful pic- 
tures. There now, IVe been looking for five minutes 
at the Sacred Heart of Jesus. And it's so real, I can 
see the Heart just as plain ! and the flames of His great 
love coming from it, and burning O, ever so brightly; 
and I was thinking, mamma, how happy that good 
Nun must have felt who used to see Our Lord's real 
Heart. Tell me, now, mamma, do you love the Sacred 
Heart?" 

The miserable lady of fashion hardly knew what 
answer to make. She, who could with dexterity turn 
off the polished compliments of the most polished, who 
could converse with learned men on learned matters, 
was time and again, as at the present moment, abashed 
and perplexed by the innocence and simplicity of her 
daughter's radiant spirit. 

"My love is not so great as yours, Ada." 

"Well, mamma, I'm going to put my picture of the 



ADA MERTON 181 

Sacred Heart in your room. And when you see it so 
often in the day, Fm sure you will come to love that 
Heart which has loved us so much." And, in pursuance 
of this design, Ada tripped out of the room, returning 
in a. few moments with the picture from her dear 
shrine. Her mother, in the meantime, sat gazing 
gloomily at the coals, wondering where John was now 
passing the hours; fearing for the condition in which 
he should come home; imagining a thousand frightful 
accidents. 

Poor woman! yours is no uncommon misery. 
Throughout the length and breadth of our fair land 
there are thousands of wives, who daily wait in fear 
for him whose returning step was once a song of joy 
to their hearts. Their husbands, once good and true, 
have taken to drinking. Little do they know, miser- 
able men, what hidden tears, what agonizing watches, 
what pitiful prayers their recklessness entails; little do 
they know with what care the mother keeps her chil- 
dren aloof so as not to see the shame of him who 
should be ^heir pride and proudest boast. God pardon 
you. Christian husbands, you who come home to a once 
happy family with muddled brains ; who cause the boy 
to blush and the girl to weep for their father ; and who 
make the tender hearts of God's noble women bleed 
with a bitterness all the more inconsolable, that they 
are powerless to stay the evil. 

Ada, while placing the picture upon the mantlepiece, 
could not but notice the sadness of her mother. 

"What is the matter, dear mamma? Don't you love 
me at all any more ? You look so sad, and seem to be 
so sorry about something. Do I tire you, mamma?" 

*'You tire me, darling !" cried Mrs. Merton drawing 
the child to her, and embracing her as though fearful 
of losing her only treasure; "I love you more than 
everything in the world, and could not live without 



182 CANDLES' BEAMS 

you. Indeed I am not sad on your account. You are 
the one sure happiness that I can count upon. It is 
thinking of others that saddens me." 

"Well, mamma, just to keep you from thinking of 
sad things, I'll sing you a song." 

"A song! Why, Ada, I didn't know you could 
sing." 

"And I didn't want you to know it,'* cried Ada, 
clapping her hands with delight at the pleasant sur- 
prise she had created. "It is my first song, mamma, 
and I learned it just to please you." And Ada seating 
herself at the piano, struck a few chords, and, with 
a voice so sweet and touching, that the poet whose 
words she used would have declared the singing quite 
in keeping with his own beautiful verses, sang the 
loUowing stanzas : — 

St. Agnes' Eve. 

Deep on the convent-roof the snows 

Are sparkling to the moon; 
My breath to heaven like vapor goes; 

May my soul follow soon ! 
The shadows of the convent-towers 

Slant down the snowy sward. 
Still creeping with the creeping hours 

That lead me to my Lord ; 
Make Thou my spirit pure and clear 

As are the frosty skies, 
Or this first snow-drop of the year 

That in my bosom lies. 

As these white robes are soiled and dark, 

To yonder shining ground; 
As this pale taper's earthly spark, 

To yonder argent round ; 
So shows my soul before the Lamb, 

My spirit before Thee; 



ADA MERTON 1S3 

So in my earthly house I am, 

To that I hope to be, 
Break up the heavens, O Lord ! and far, 

Thro' all yon starlight keen, 
Draw me, Thy bride, a glittering star, 

In raiment white and clean. 

He lifts me to the golden doors; 

The flashes come and go; 
All heaven bursts her starry floors, 

And strews her lights below. 
And deepens on and up ! the gates 

Roll back, and far within 
For me the Heavenly Bridegroom waits, 

To make me pure of sin, 
The sabbaths of Eternity, 

One sabbath deep and wide — 
A light upon the shining sea — 

The Bridegroom with His bride. 

— Tennyson. 

Had there existed a little child in the golden days 
of primitive innocence, she would have sung in some 
such mariner. There was something more than de- 
lightful music in the clear, sweet voice of the singer; 
there breathed through every note, as though it were 
its complement, the sacred love of a spotless heart, 
a heart burning to be united with the Spouse. As 
Ada ceased singing, the mother bent down and kissed 
her. 

"Darling,'* she said, while tears moistened her eyes, 
"your voice recalls the happy, happy time of long ago, 
the time when I was young and simple like yourself. 
But now I know so much more — and I'm sorry I know 
it. And yet what have I gained by my knowledge? 
Even now I would part with it all for but one sweet 
hour of old times. — But what nonsense I am talking," 
and Mrs. Merton gave forth the dismal, dead echo of 
merriiifient — a forced laugh. "It is old feelings re- 



184 CANDLES' BEAMS 

turning in spite of surer knowledge. Ada, when you 
were " 

A slight noise at the hall-door arrested her attention ; 
and divining, with the quick instinct of a woman, who 
was entering and how he was entering, she turned 
crimson. "Ada," she whispered, "steal quietly to bed: 
it is your father, who is annoyed about business mat- 
ters, and he may be vexed at seeing you up so late." 

Something in her mother's manner, rather than the 
words, caused Ada to depart without requesting the 
customary good-night kiss ; and scarcely had she left 
the room, when Mr. Merton came up the stairs tramp- 
ing heavily. The worst fears of his wife were real- 
ized. His eyes were inflamed; his face discolored; 
blood was on his shirt, and his clothes were torn, as 
though he had been engaged in a violent struggle. 

Mrs. Merton could scarcely repress a cry of terror. 

"Don't be afraid, Mary," he said, in a tone intended 
to be reassuring, although in truth, it had a stern, hard 
ring, as if it came from a breast that enclosed a chaos 
of violent passions. "Don't be afraid, I — I'm all right. 
But what's thatf' and as his eye caught the picture 
of the Sacred Heart, all the passions within seemed 
to awake for action. 

"Ada's picture of the Sacred Heart," faltered Mrs. 
Merton. 

With a dreadful oath, the man seized it, crushed it 
in his hands, threw it on the ground, spat on it, stamped 
on it; then burst into a paroxysm of invective against 
all that is sacred. And as he went from one blas- 
phemy to another, an account of his long absence was 
supplied in snatches. He had lost fifteen thousand 
dollars that day; he had been basely swindled out of 
it by a smooth-tongued, oily-faced swindler. But he 
had settled the fellow with his good arms; swindlers 
would now know what it was to cheat a gentleman. He 



ADA MERTON 185 

finished with another fearful outburst of profanity, 
while his horrified wife, checking not without effort 
an impulse to give way to tears, stood by in silence, 
asking herself was this the beginning of the end. 

Meanwhile, Ada, happily unconscious of the dread- 
ful scene, was praying for the drunken father and the 
weeping mother. Doubtless, glorious angels hovered 
about her. There was blasphemy in the next room; 
but in this world sanctity and sin are next door neigh- 
bors, though morally they are worlds apart. 



CHAPTER VII 

The gladsome singing birds of spring, 
The buds upon the tree. 
The sunbeams gay and brightning. 
No more bring joy to me. 

— Anon. 

I will a round unvarnished tale deliver. 

'^ Shakespeare. 

IT was Palm Sunday, and the sun, seemingly im- 
pressed with the idea that Spring, who had long 
been at odds with Winter, had at length obtained her 
brief sceptre over the year, shone down bright and 
genial into the sitting-room of Mr. Merton's dwell- 
ing, lingering about the lady of the house, as if im- 
portuning her to awaken to all the newborn life and 
beauty of nature. But although the gay sunbeams 
danced their quickest measure in and out among the 
furniture, and upon the walls, where they seemed to 
play a lively game of peek-a-boo with the pictures; 
although an innocent little bird outside, yielding to 
appearances, carolled out loud and bold, defying, with 
bird-like gentleness, hoary winter with all his frost 
and snow; although five or six tiny buds on a bush in 
full view of the sitting-room nodded complacently in 
answer to the vernal breeze; although, in short, all 
things that spoke to the eye and ear were preaching the 
same joyous text to the lonely Mrs. Merton, her spirit 
was unconscious of them all. Her mind was agitated 
by a thousand fears. Truly, her sun of happiness 
seemed to be upon the downward slope. For the first 
time since the day of her marriage, Mr. Merton had 
left her side on Sunday, the day of ^tst. On rising 

186 



ADA MERTON 187 

in the morning he had shown signs of impatience, 
peevishness, almost of anger. More of his money, 
he said, was in jeopardy: and even on that day he must 
give all his attention to business. 

It is a strange thing — ^and how often do facts show 
its truth — that men, when, after a long career of pros- 
perity, they come to face serious, trouble, will almost 
invariably take to drink; unless, indeed, they are ac- 
customed to lay all their burdens before the loving 
King of Sorrows, who had Himself become a man of 
sorrows for their sake. 

Ada, too, was absent, attending High Mass at the 
Rock Church; and Mrs. Merton in her loneliness felt 
a twinge of jealousy against that God who could draw 
her child, even for an hour, from her bosom. 

"In times long since gone," she thought, "my heart 
in its petty trials and miseries could find a sweet, 
consoling refuge in prayer. But alas ! where shall I 
now turn? Who shall sweeten my yoke, and lighten 
my burden? Ah, if there only were a living God 
beyond nfan ! If there only were some great, glorious 
spirit who loved me, and had power to help me. But 
no ; my husband, Ada — ^these are the loves in which 
my heart must ever endure. And yet, John is giving 
me so much anxiety. He who once was so devoted, 
so kind, so affectionate, so cheering, is now changing 

to a " Her mind refused to dwell longer on the 

prospect, and with a sigh she resumed the reading of 
a novel that lay upon the table. 

She was not a little surprised, when, of a sudden, 
Maggie stalked into the room, her round, red, good- 
natured face looking for the nonce very stern. Time 
was when Maggie could count upon being the sympa- 
thetic hearer and confidante of all Mrs. Merton's 
troubles; but the last year had slowly, almost imper- 
ceptibly separated them by a wide barrier. As she 



188 CANDLES' BEAMS 

entered the room, it was evident from her compressed 
lips, and from the general awkwardness of her move- 
ments that she had come upon some matter of im- 
portance. Mrs. Merton laid aside the book, and 
glanced inquiringly at Maggie, who, instead of an- 
nouncing her errand, coughed, put one foot forward, 
then the other ; finally, with a second cough, she wiped 
her face on her apron, and with a quick, jerky move- 
ment readjusted her whole position. 

"Well, Maggie," said Mrs. Merton with a smile of 
encouragement — how sad a smile to what it once was ! 
"You seem to be in trouble." 

These words offered an outlet for the torrent of 
Maggie's eloquence. 

"Lord forgive you, Mary Merton; but I am in 
trouble, and all to your account. Mary Merton, I've 
been with you since you was a little girl — and a sweet, 
cheerful angel you was — ^being the pride and joy of 
your father and mother, who were such fools (may 
they rest in peace! amen) as to send you off to a 
gallivantin' academy, where they taught you to use 
your feet much better than your catechism. I've been 
with you as a poor servant girl — and nobody dasen't 
deny it, — and I have loved you to that, that I would 
do anything for you and yours. There was a time, 
too — ^tut ! tut ! tut ! — when you would speak to me from 
your heart, as you once did w-he-when I was your 
darhng n-n-nurse, and you used to cry on my bosom." 
Maggie almost broke down at this point, but by a 
strong effort she forced back her feelings, and went on 
more severely than before. "There was a time, Mary 
Merton, when you went to the same dear, old church 
with myself, and partook of the same bread of life 
as myself — and now what are you?" Here Maggie 
folded her arms, and looked her mistress boldly in the 
face. 



ADA MERTON 189 

The miserable lady, at any other time, might have 
responded to this harangue with decision ; now she was 
so dispirited that, burying her face in her hands, she 
answered in a voice of entreaty rather than of com- 
mand : — 

"Maggie, Maggie, I am unhappy and wretched to- 
day. Leave me to myself ; go, now, leave the room." 

"God forgive me Ma'am, if I'm' saying wrong," an- 
swered Maggie without changing her position in the 
least, "but leave this room I shall not, unless you take 
me by the neck, and shove me out — and I'd like to see 
anybody try that. Yes, Mary Merton, you may dis- 
charge me — Lord knows it would break my heart to 
be parted from you and Ada — but have my say out 
here and now I will, though it rains pitch-forks and 
cats and dogs all the time." 

Throughout this fugue of rhetoric there was ap- 
parent, like a harmonizing chord, deep, honest, homely 
love. The mistress, too dispirited for petty anger, 
and yet half pleased at the affection displayed, told 
Maggie to go on. 

"Iii'deed, Ma'am, I will do that same, though the 
dead should raise. You are unhappy, Mrs. Merton, 
and you know it; and, what is more, you have given 
up our holy mother, the Church — " 

"Who told you that?" cried Mrs. Merton, springing 
to her feet, her eyes glowing with excitement. Her 
apostasy she had held to be a secret between herself 
and her husband. 

"Nobody told me, Mary Merton; but I know it, and 
have known that same for weeks." 

"Does Ada know it?" broke in the lady almost 
fiercely. 

"Thank God, Mary Merton, her pure, suffering little 
heart has not that grief. But I tell you, Mary Merton," 
• — ^here Maggie took a step forward, and as she spoke, 



190 CANDLES' BEAMS 

her voice grew in dignity and earnestness — "But I tell 
you, Mary Merton, you may scold me, you may dis- 
charge me, if you will; but I tell you, Mary Merton, 
that God will not wait long. The very holiness of your 
saintly child calls out to God against this wretched 
family ; and the day will come, and not very far off too, 
for it takes no prophet to see that, when Ada will find 
out your unbelief. O Mary Merton! Mary Merton! 
come back before it is too late." 

Was this a warning from heaven? Were the pas- 
sionate words of an unlettered servant-maid the voice 
of God? Often, indeed, the Creator makes use of the 
simple ones of this earth to confound the strong. But 
as these thoughts rose in Mrs. Merton's mind, she 
quickly banished them as so many evidences of weak 
nerves ; blinded by worldliness, her mind would allow 
no idea of a God beyond that of the God of pleasures. 
Maggie's words had fallen upon stony ground, and in 
thorny places. The mental conflict lasted but for a 
few moments ; and still Maggie, with an intuition 
strengthened by love, perceived that her words met 
with no response, and yielding to the warmth of her 
affectionate disappointment she began sobbing bitterly. 

"Maggie, Maggie!" cried the lady, with a look of 
agony that Maggie never forgot, "don't, — don't cry 
before me; I have trouble enough already." 

"Y-y-you have, Ma'am," answered Maggie in a 
burst of sobs, "and p-p-p-pray G-God you-you may 
not have more." With this invocation the maid has- 
tened from the room to give full vent to her grief in 
private, leaving the unhappy lady to shake off the 
painful feelings thus awakened by burying her thoughts 
in the intricate plot of the tale at hand. But even as 
she read, that one sentence seemed to ring in her ears 
like the voice of a troubled spirit ; — "O Mary Merton, 
Mary Merton! come back, come back, before it is too 
late." 



CHAPTER VIII 

O thou invisible spirit of zvine! if thou 
hast no name to he known by, let us 
call thee devil ! 

— Shakespeare. 

SLOWLY did the hours of that dreary Palm Sunday- 
pass away, bringing in their train nothing but 
bitter thoughts, and depressing qualms to the lonesome 
lady. At noon, Ada returned, and her presence in 
some degree dissipated the gloom; but the quarters 
even then moved slowly on for one foreboding heart, 
and when two o'clock, the appointed dinner hour, had 
come, the head of the family was still expected. 

There are a thousand natural charms, which have 
a hallowing influence upon Sunday. On that day, home 
is more home, and life is more a thing of love, and 
less a matter of business : on that day, worldly cares 
are laid aside, and loved ones draw nearer one another, 
endeavoring to show by the genial smile and the fond 
word, that the money-buzz of traffic is stilled for the 
time being, and that the high and the holy chords of 
the heart respond to the same gentle influences as hal^ 
low the dawn of life. Mrs. Merton had known these 
charms for many years; but at last they all seemed 
to be rudely dispelled. Every footstep without, drew 
her to the window; but each time, she returned with 
deepened disappointment. Ada's eyes filled with tears 
of sympathy as she noticed her mother's growing de- 
pression. 

"Come, mamma," she said, "you're getting so 
troubled : let us not think of papa ; and just as soon 

191 



192 CANDLES' BEAMS 

as we forgot all about expecting him, he'll be sure to 
come. Suppose I sing to you, mamma." 

"Yes, Ada, sing about Agnes again." 

As if to confirm her words, Ada had not fairly 
begun the tender monologue, when the hall door moved 
upon its hinges. Mrs. Merton's anxious ear caught 
the sound immediately, and, without interrupting Ada, 
she hastened to greet her husband. One glance suf- 
ficed to show her that he was irritated, that he had 
been drinking. 

He was far from being drunk: the convenient, gen- 
tlemanly, varnishing title "tipsy" could, perhaps, be 
applied to him. As the wife's smile of greeting died 
away, the look of pain which superseded it was not 
unperceived by her husband. His faculties, though 
not in their normal condition, were not so dulled but 
that he could discern her suspicion. It galled him to 
think that his wife feared he was in no condition to be 
seen by Ada; and he resolved on the spot that, by 
force of will-power, he would not only refrain from 
doing or saying anything foolish, but comport himself 
with such dignity and severity as would show to what 
an extent he had been misjudged. 

"Well, Mary," he said as he placed his hat on the 
rack, and took a furtive view of himself in the glass 
attached thereto, "is the dinner ready?" 

"Yes, John : it has been long waiting for you. Come, 
let us go to the dining room." 

Just then Ada appeared, kissed her father, and the 
three proceeded to dinner. As Mrs. Merton entered 
the dining hall, she made Maggie a hasty sign to re- 
move the claret from the table. But her husband, 
whose feelings of vexation had made him unusually 
vigilant, noticed the gesture ; and as Maggie bore away 
the wine, his brow darkened, and he determined to 
show Mrs. Merton that he was not to be dealt with 



ADA MERTON 193 

as a child. Therefore, appearing not to notice what 
had taken place, he seated himself at the table, and 
for some time kept silence. Then raising his eyes, he 
let them wander around, as if in search of something, 
till finally they rested on the face of his wife. 

"Mary," he said, "is there no wine in the house?" 

"Yes, dear," she faltered, "but you look so worn, 
John, and so jaded that I thought you might prefer, 
a good cup of tea." 

"I want a bottle of claret." 

"Very good, John," answered his wife in her most 
winning manner, "but you'll wait till after dinner — ^to 
oblige me. And then I'll take a little myself with you." 

"Maggie," he said, totally ignoring his wife's appeal, 
"bring the wine." 

On the bottle's being brought, he filled and emptied 
a glass, and, seeing the visible annoyance of his wife, 
he deliberately drank down another. For some time 
after this there was a dead silence. At length Ada, 
wondering what could make her father so dull, took 
upon herself to start a subject. 

"Papa," she said with a smile that seemed to have 
grown in loveliness as had its owner in sanctity, "it's 
only one week." 

"What's only one week?" 

"Before my first Communion, papa." 

The guileless child little knew the storm she was 
creating. Even in his soberest moments, Mr. Merton 
found it difficult to refrain from scoffing at her spirit- 
ual views; but now, in his half maudlin condition, he 
felt very clearly that it was his bounden duty to give 
Ada a few practical instructions in modern ethics. 

"Only one week before your first Communion, eh?" 
and as Mr. Merton spoke these words in a husky 
tone, he laid down his knife and fork and, in endeavor- 



194 CANDLES' BEAMS 

ing to preserve a clear-headed appearance, cast a look 
of great severity upon his daughter. 

*'Yes, papa," said Ada timidly, abashed by her 
father's demeanor. 

"'Ada," he continued in a solemn tone, ''look me 
in the face." The poor child in her turn laid down 
her knife and fork, and in some astonishment obeyed 
his injunction; while the miserable wife, who had 
vainly been making him signs to discontinue, now al- 
most wished that the earth would open beneath her 
feet. 

"What's the matter, papa?" asked Ada, for the first 
time in her life affrighted by her father's look. 

"Matter!" he returned with a scowl worthy of 
Hepzibah Pyncheon; "do you see anything the matter 
with me?" 

Ada was too astonished to reply. 
I "Now, Ada," he continued, "I want you to listen 
to me. Haven't I always given you lots of pretty 
things — dresses and money and — and what not ?" 

"Yes, papa." 

"And haven't I always been a good, kind papa to 
you?" 

"Indeed, you have, papa," 

"And yet, you are always hurting my feelings — 
your own papa's feelings. You are always speaking 
of things I don't like. Why down on Change men do 
everything to please your papa, because they know he 
is rich, and powerful and — and — " 

"John!" interrupted his wife in a whisper full of 
piteous appeal. 

"And honorable," he continued without noticing the 
interruption. ''They never say anything to hurt his 
feelings." 

"Why, papa, I hope you don't think that I try 
to hurt your feelings. I wouldn't do so for anything." 



ADA MERTON 195 

"But you have. Why do you speak of first Com- 
munion to me. Can't you talk about — eh — more re~ 
fined things than that. In fact, I think, Mary, we had 
better take her away from that convent: she is being 
trained there to hate her father and mother." 

Ada's eyes filled with tears at this imputation; Mrs. 
Merton fixed an imploring look upon her husband. 

''John," she said "this is Sunday. Let us leave all 
this till to-morrow." 

"I tell you, Mary," answered the maudlin father, 
bringing his fist down so forcibly on the table that his 
wine glass was upset, "I tell you, Mary, there's no 
time like the present. Ada, my child, to-morrow I 
will take you with me to find some better school." 

The poor girl was now sobbing bitterly. Was this 
the father who heretofore had never spoken to her 
but with love and kindness? And her mamma was 
hurt too, for she was crying, silently indeed, but with 
no less bitterness for all that. 

With an effort, Mrs. Merton suppressed her feelings, 
and, in a tone intended to divert her husband, again 
addressed him. 

"Now, dear John, you know I will not consent to 
that. You must remember that I too am a Catholic, 
though not near so good a one as my darling, and I 
must insist upon Ada's being educated in a Catholic 
school." 

"Mary," he answered, "it's no use deceiving Ada 
any longer. To us there is nothing higher, nothing 
more sacred than truth, plain and unvarnished. The 
cat will out of the bag; and I feel it my duty to tell 
A—" 

"John, John," almost shrieked his wife, "for the 
sake of all you love say no more — you are not your- 
self." 

"I will say more," he answered doggedly; "Mary, 



196 CANDLES* BEAMS 

out with the truth and tell the child that this twelve- 
month you have given up all belief in God, and 
that " 

He never finished his words. A low, sad moan 
(such a moan as comes from the depths of blighting 
disappointment) froze his very soul, and as he started 
in horror from his seat, he saw Ada lying senseless 
in her mother's arms. 

Could Mr. Merton believe his eyes? The terrible 
fruits of his folly sobered him instantly; he rushed 
forward towards his fainting child; but the face of an 
angry woman stayed his progress. She was loosening 
Ada's dress, while Maggie bathed her face. Mr. Mer- 
ton standing mid-way in the room tore his hair. 

"Oh, what have I done! what have I done!" he 
cried. 

His words in his wife's ears were as fuel to the 
flame. She gave Ada over to Maggie, and turning 
on him drew herself up like a queen passing sentence 
on a low traitor. 

"What have you done 1" she repeated with blazing 
eyes, "you have taken the notion of God from your 
wife ; you have tried to take it from her daughter ; and 
into the place that God once held in this house, you 
have introduced the demon of drink." 

Turning from him as though he were unworthy the 
look of bitter scorn which rested upon her counten- 
ance, she addressed herself to the child with all a 
tender mother's love. "Speak to me, Ada; darling; 
darling child, speak to me." 

"Mrs. Merton, dear, be calm," said Maggie, "Ada 
will be all right in a moment. There, now, she opens 
her eyes." 

"Do you know me, darling?" cried the mother lay- 
ing her cheek beside that of her child. 

"Yes, mamma," said Ada faintly. 



ADA MERTON 197 

The shame- faced father advancing caught her hand. 
'*Ada," he cried, "forgive me." 

But the child again relapsed; and as Mrs. Merton 
gazed upon her pallid face that one supplication re- 
turned to her mind, like the burden of a song ; 

"Oh, Mary Merton, Mary Merton come back, come 
back, before it is too late." 



CHAPTER IX 

Lo as a dove when up she springs 

To bear thro' Heaven a tale of woe, 

Some dolorous message knit below 

The wild pulsation of her wings; 

Like her I go. Tennyson. 

THE day that had brought so much sorrow to Ada 
was at its close. She was alone in her room 
thinking sadly of her parents' condition; and as she 
knelt at the foot of the cross her heart put itself into 
the words she breathed for father and mother; pray- 
ing that they might come to the knowledge of the one, 
true God, "and of Jesus Christ, whom He had sent." 

Ada Vt^as by no means of a despondent disposition. 
She was thrice happy; happy by nature, happy by 
grace, happy by innocence. But happiness is not op- 
posed to zeal, and in one matter was concentrated all 
the earnestness of her soul ; and that one matter was 
the honor of Jesus. She not only had faith, but it 
was a strong, earnest, wholesome faith; a faith that 
would endure wind and storm. Nor is it at all strange 
to find this virtue in one so young; for, to use the 
words of Cardinal Manning, "The mind of a little child 
is larger and more expanded for the conception of 
revealed truth, than the minds of philosophers and 
sceptics, who narrow their understandings with un- 
reasonable and pertinacious doubt." 

Ada, in her present depressed state, naturally thought 
of the many saints, who had been compelled to suffef 
so much for God; and as St. Agnes, St. Catharine, 
St. Cecilia, and those other heroic virgins of old sug- 
gested themselves to her mind her heart grew brave, 

198 



ADA MERTON 199 

and she thanked her Saviour that she too was suffer- 
ing something for His sake. And yet the bitter tears 
would crowd her eyes, to think that her mother was in 
danger of never seeing the good God. 

"What can I do?" she thought; ''what ought I to 
do?" 

Her eyes wandered about the room, till their gaze 
was fixed upon the picture of the Blessed Virgin. And 
the loving face of that heavenly mother seemed so 
compassionate, so consoling, that she dwelt upon it for 
many moments. Suddenly her tearful face brightened. 
Why might she not write to her dear mother? St. 
Stanislaus had done so, and he was a great saint. 

"Yes," she thought, "the Blessed Virgin is the 
Consoler of the Afflicted, the Mother of Sorrows ; and 
I know that she loves me very much." The child was 
not long in deciding; then going to her desk, she 
wrote, in all the love and confidence which only an 
innocent child can possess, the following letter : 
Dear Mother Mary: 

I am one of your httle girls in St. Louis. I am just 
about ten, dear mother Mary, and I am trying as well 
as I can to be very good, and never offend your Son. 
I am in the first Communion class and I am so anxious 
to make a very good one. I am not at all afraid ; for 
I know that our dear Saviour used to love children 
when He was on earth; and then He was so kind. 
And then He put His hands on them and caressed them, 
too ; so I am not at all afraid. 

I want to tell you in this letter, dear mother Mary, 
how much I love you. But I want to ask a present, 
too ; at least I want you to ask your dear Son to grant 
me this present; for I know He will not say no to 
such a good mother as you. My heart is very sad to- 
night, dear mother Mary; I have often cried because 
that my father does not believe in God, and I have 



200 CANDLES' BEAMS 

cried over and over again on that account. When 
papa said at dinner to-day that mamma did not believe 
in God, I felt such a sharp pain, and then I didn't 
know anything, till I woke up and was lying on my 
bed, and dear mamma, whom I love ever so much, cry- 
ing over me, and asking me to speak to her. And when 
I looked at her, she seemed so glad, and came and 
kissed me over and over, as if she had not seen me for 
a long time. And then, dear mother Mary, when I 
asked her if she believed in God, she cried and only 
kissed me. Maggie was in the room, and she was 
crying too. Then mamma went out of the room, and 
in a few minutes came back with papa, who looked so 
sad, and told me I could go to the convent as long as 
I like, and he said he would get me the nicest white 
dress in the city for first Communion. I am glad of all 
that ; but I love mamma so, and yet, dear mother Mary, 
she doesn't believe in you, nor in God, nor in the 
beautiful angels, that I often see in my dreams, and 
hear talk to me. O, won't you please pray for her? 
and for my father? Tell your dear Son that I love 
them ever so much and that I would die for them. I 
am only a little girl, and I am not of much use in this 
big world ; and if I knew papa and mamma would 
become Catholics, I would be glad to die, and see your 
blessed face, and live with angels and saints. 

So, dear Mother Mary, if you convert my parents, 
I will be so happy. And I am willing to die. I hope 
you will like what I say in this letter, and I hope you 
will not mind the mistakes of a little girl. 

Your loving child, 

Ada Merton". 

Carefully folding the letter, Ada placed it in her 
bosom, so that it might be with her night and day, 
until her petition was heard. She was about to re- 



ADA MERTON 201 

sume her position at her prie-dieu, when Maggie's voice 
was heard outside; 

**May I come in, my darling." 

"Certainly, Maggie, I am glad you are come." 

Maggie entered the room, and seeing at a glance 
that Ada had been weeping, she took the child in her 
lap and for some time stroked the little face in silence. 

"Well, Maggie, I feel better now." 

"Are you, alannah? Well, Fm glad to hear it this 
blessed night." 

"Don't you think we can bring mamma back to be- 
lieve in God, Maggie?" continued the child. 

"Of course, we can," Maggie repHed loudly and 
boldly; though she added under her breath, "It's a 
dreadful lie: — Why, Our Lord says that if two meet 
together in His name and agree on asking Him some- 
thing. He will grant it; and now, Ada, you and me 
will pray for the Grand Mogul — your father, God 
forgive me that I should be losing my patience — and 
your mamma to get common sense, and to believe in 
God ; and we'll be heard ; and who'll say that we 
won't?" 

"Very well, Maggie; and I'll get Sister Felicitas to 
pray with us, too." 

"Do, honey. It's just the thing. That Sister is a 
jewel, she's so modest and gentle that I get bashful- 
like before her, which very seldom happens to me, 
seeing, as I don't come of a bashful family, having 
two brothers as were the bravest in Ireland; God save 
her and keep her green forever !" 

"Indeed, I know you are brave, Maggie," said Ada 
smiling. 

"Well I'll not say no, though it isn't me as should 
say it," answered Maggie with a pleased air, "but if 
the Turk — if your father doesn't be improving, I'll 
talk to him like — like a Dutch uncle; and now, my 



202 CANDLES' BEAMS 

dear, it is time for you to go to bed; but don't be 
down-hearted ; never say die ; there's as many fish 
in the sea as ever came out of it. Good-night." And 
with these first principles on her lips Maggie made 
her adieu. 

Putting out the light, Ada again knelt beside the 
crucifix, praying in all earnestness for her parents. 
Long did the weak child hold her arms extended in 
the form of a cross ; so long, that from sheer exhaus- 
tion they fell at her side. What a power is prayer 
coming from a pure heart; it constrains, as it were, 
the very will of the all-powerful God. And was Ada's 
supplication to be unheeded? 

She heard not the opening of the door so absorbed 
was she in prayer; she saw not Mrs. Merton gazing 
on her in amazement. The mother advanced, unper- 
ceived, and caught the child to her bosom. 

"Darling, why are you up so late? I thought you 
were in bed." 

"I was praying for you, mamma," was Ada's simple 
answer. 

"But you are too weak, my child, to stay up so late, 
and besides, little girls need more rest. Come, dar- 
ling, let me help you to bed." 

Even after Ada had been snugly wrapped up, the 
mother hung over the slight form, her arms around 
the child's neck. 

"Ada," she asked, with some hesitation and after 
a long pause, "do you still love me as much as before ?" 

"More, mamma, and I'll never stop praying for you, 
till you believe in God." 

"That will never — " here Mrs. Merton checked her- 
self, "I fear it will be a long time, but it may come. 
Now, my child, go to sleep." 

The mother with one arm still about her daughter, 
sang a cradle song which Ada well knew and soon the 



ADA MERTON 203 

child was sleeping peacefully. But for hours after- 
wards Mrs. Merton gazed upon that pure lovely face. 
Frequently would she kiss the pale cheek; and at 
times a look of pain (the outward expression of an 
indefinable presentiment) would cross her features. 
Did the fond, foolish, uphappy mother see the veil of 
futurity rent asunder ? Did she discern even a shadow 
of wrath to come? 



CHAPTER X 

Glory to God, who so the world hath framed. 
That in all places children more abound 
Than they by whom humanity is shamed. 

— Aubrey De Vere, 

He saddens; all the magic light 
Dies off at once from bower and hall. 
And all the place is dark, and all 
The chambers emptied of delight. 

— Tennyson. 

THE nearer the longed-for day of her first Com- 
munion approached, the more eager grew Ada's 
desire for the coming of her only Love. 

The hallowing mantle of some saint appeared to 
have fallen upon her ; and, as she threaded the streets 
on her way to school, many a hardened man would turn 
to look upon her pure face, and would feel instinc- 
tively a vague, newly awakened regret for the days, 
when his heart was less grovelling, less of the earth, 
and knev/ something of that peace which the proud, 
rich world has never given. 

The dark shadow of infidelity which came between 
her father and mother did not utterly take away her 
joy; true, her earthly love lay bleeding; but she was 
one of those **thrice-blessed, whose loves in higher 
loves endure." And she felt so confident too that her 
Divine Visitor would surely grant her parents' con- 
version. 

None of her schoolmates, when they saw the tastily- 
dressed, smiling, gentle girl, reckoned for a moment 
that she bore within her bosom a weight of care, which 

204 



v.. 



ADA MERTON 205 

few Catholic children — thank God — ever have to ex- 
perience. 

It was the last Thursday that preceded the great 
morning. Ada was standing in the school-ground 
among a knot of little girls. 

"Only three days more!" said one. *'My! doesn't it 
seem awful strange?" 

"Strange !" cried another ; "I am so anxious for the 
day to come; and mamma has made me — O! just the 
love-li-est white dress !" The little miss invested her 
whole stock of vigor in that one adjective. 

"I'm going to have something more nicer than that," 
broke in the smallest of the group. "My ma is going 
to get me the sweetest crown of roses for my head. 
What are you going to have, Ada?" 

"Papa and mamma are getting me a very nice dress," 
Ada answered. 

"And your mamma prays for you all the time? and 
says the beads with you every night, doesn't she?" pur- 
sued the interrogator. 

No one that looked on Ada's tranquil countenance 
could have had the faintest suspicion of the heart-sick- 
ness she felt at these questions. 

"Does your mother pray for you?" she asked, thus 
turning off the question. 

"Does she!" answered the other, "why that's just 
no name for it, as my brother Tom says — brother Tom 
does use such horrid slang — she seems so anxious for 
me to be a good girl, and make a very good Commun- 
ion. And then she tells the sweetest stories about first 
Communion, they'd make you cry to hear them.'* The 
child had scarcely entered fairly upon her narration, 
when all the little girls began speaking simultaneously, 
except Ada, who being the only listener became at once 
the victim of six different accounts, interesting, no 
doubt, of "mamma's" great interest in the great day. 



206 CANDLES' BEAMS 

Their babble created a sense of void in poor Ada's 
heart; much as she loved her mother, she could never 
receive that sympathy which only a devout mother can 
give. 

When the bell rang for the ending of recess, all the 
children hurried away in a great flutter to the room 
where they were being prepared. It was the day ap- 
pointed for distributing the prizes to those in the Com- 
munion classs who had been distinguished for exemp- 
lary conduct. No one doubted who was to be the win- 
ner of the first prize ; and when Ada Merton was read 
out for it, fifty little hands and as many joyous eyes 
were unanimous in testifying their owners' approba- 
tion. Ada's countenance flushed with pleasure, as 
with a smile and a bow she received from the hands 
of Sister Felicitas a beautifully bound volume. She 
knew that her mother was always proud when her lit- 
tle girl excelled in anything — even in religion. 

As Bob met her at the school door in the afternoon, 
he noted her pleased expression. 

"Well, missy Ada," he began, "you does look happy 
dis afternoon; what is you glad about?" 

Ada told him of her prize, showing the book. 

"You'se a great book-bible-maniac," here Bob 
coughed to hide his conscious triumph. "Bible- 
maniac" was the proudest word graven on the tablets 
of his memory, and it was seldom he had an oppor- 
tunity of astonishing his auditors by its ponderous 
sound. "Yes, missy Ada," he repeated, "you'se a great 
book bible-maniac." 

"What is a book bible-maniac, Bob?" asked his 
amused charge. 

"The tahm book bible-maniac," answered Bob with 
dignity, "am a Greek suppression, and means some 
one what's ^fone on books. But," he continued laying 



ADA MERTON 207 

aside his dignity, and beaming with smiles, "Fse happy 
too, missy Ada, dis hyar day." 

"I thought something nice had happened to you. 
Has papa raised your wages ?" 

"Lor' bress you, missy, I doesn't caeh fo' wages. 
*De wages ob sin am deff.' " Bob stopped to chuckle 
over the apt quotation, and added, "Missy, I'se jes' 
done had a glorious time." 

"Why what have you been doing? Are you ready 
soon to be baptized?" 

"You'se red hot, missy ; almos' guessed it. I'se done 
made my fust 'fession." 

"Did you !" cried Ada with brightening eyes ; "I'm 
so very, very glad. And don't you feel happy?" 

"As, as a big sun flowah," was the genial reply. 

"That's good; and when you are baptized you will 
be fit to go straight to heaven, if you were to die." 

"I 'spose I would. I nebbeh yet felt so light an' 
gay; an' I made de pries' laugh, too." 

"You did ! How was that. Bob?" 

"You see, he says to me when he opened dem chinks 
in de 'fession box, *My chile, how long since you last 
'fession?' an' he didn't look at me at all. So as I 
didn't want decebe him, I says *ef you look through 
these heah chinks, father, you'll see dat I'se no chile; 
I'se neah forty-five yeahs ole, an I'se nebbeh been to 
'fession befoah. I'se a new controvert, / is,' an den 
he smile, an' tole me a lot o' nice sayins, an' I tole him 
all about mysef, an' nex' Sunday when you makes 
youah fust Communion, I'se to be baptized." 

"It will be a very happy day for both of us," said 
Ada in high delight at Bob's good sentiments. "But 
here we are home already, and there is mamma wait- 
ing for me on the steps." 

Mrs. Merton's face relaxed from the expression of 



208 CANDLES' BEAMS 

sadness that of late had been becoming habitual to it, 
as Ada showed her the prize. 

"So it's for virtue, Ada," she said, as they pro- 
ceeded towards the sitting-room. "Well, I think you 
deserve it. You remind me of those child-saints I 
used to read of, when I was a girl like yourself." 

"Ah, mamma," said Ada sadly, "you never read 
such books now." 

"No, my child ; I have no time for such trifles." 

"Trifles !" cried the child, her face glowing with 
earnestness, "how can you say that? O mamma, 
mamma, dearest ! Every morning when I look from 
the window, at the sun, and smell the sweet flowers, in 
my garden, and hear the little birds singing so, I can't 
help feeling that there's a good, great God, who made 
all these pretty things for us, mamma." 

"And so you count me out, do you?'* chimed in 
Mr. Merton, who had just entered the room unper- 
ceived; "why Ada, you're an out and out little poet — ■ 
only you have all the beauty of the present style of 
poets, without their eternal leaven of mysticism and 
nonsense. I think," he added taking pencil and paper 
from his coat, "I'll make a note of what you said, and 
send it on to the Century Magazine. The editors 
would like it I'm sure." 

"O don't papa: but I know you're only joking." 

"Am I though?" said the imperturbable father, "we'll 
see. How was that you said it? — Ah, yes (here he 
began writing) : *Every morning when I look out of 
my window — ' " 

"O papa, please don't," begged Ada with so much 
earnestness that the impromptu reporter threw aside 
his tablets, and indulged with his wife in a hearty 
laugh. 

The room seemed to brighten for the moment (it 



ADA MERTON 209 

had long been dull enough), and Mr. Merton began 
to talk in his former happy, jocose manner. Ada was 
overjoyed at the change; and Mrs. Merton actually lost 
all her gloom. But a calm often precedes the storm. 
While the moments were still gliding merrily along, 
the bell was heard ringing, and presently Maggie 
entered ihe room with a telegram, which she handed 
her mastet. He tore open the envelope nervously and 
read its contents with gathering brows. Tearing it to 
pieces, aiwl muttering a suppressed oath, he strode 
from the room. The astonished lady gathered up the 
fragments of the telegram, and, while throwing them 
in the fire, saw, without intending it, on one of the 
scraps, ^'Bender's Bank fa — .''■' She could readily sur- 
mise his trouble; for if the Bender's Bank had closed 
its doors, he would be a loser of more than one-half of 
his fortune. 

It was eleven o'clock before he returned that night, 
and his bkwDdshot eyes and flushed face told their 
story. 



CHAPTER XI 

Then out came his lady fair, 

A tear into her ee; 
Says "stay at home, my own good lord, 

O stay at home with me!" 

— Old Ballad. 

THERE was great excitement in the city the next 
morning. Men who had retired the previous 
night in fancied security awoke to find themselves 
ruined. The Bender's Bank had always enjoyed high 
favor with the poorer classes; and the industrious 
servant girl, who had been happy in a growing bank 
account, the clerk who had deprived himself of count- 
less luxuries with a view to beginning business for 
himself, and the simple laboring man who had faid 
by something for a rainy day, were at once reduced to 
the lowly state whence they had begun. It was a 
pitiful sight to see the crowd thronging the narrow 
street facing the bank; pale, angry creditors beating 
at the closed doors, some shouting madly, others pro- 
claiming their losses to entire strangers; others too 
miserable to speak: more pitiful still to note among 
them poor, pinched working girls, many of them 
weeping bitterly. Mr. Merton was a heavy loser; 
nearly all his cash was on deposit there; and were it 
not for the large amount he had invested in real 
estate, he would have been utterly ruined. Looking 
to nothing beyond this world, money was to him of 
supreme importance; and the loss drove him almost 
frantic. The first pallor of dawn had scarcely thrown 
its dim, gray veil over the city, when he started from 
his bed, as though awakening from a troubled dream, 

210 



ADA MERTON 211 

"Mary," he said, turning upon her his wild swollen 
eyes, ''where is the paper?" 

She procured it for him; and he eagerly ran his 
eyes over the columns, moaning, and muttering to 
himself in a manner that made his wife tremble. 

''John,'* she faltered, "don't make yourself so miser- 
able: remember, my dear, that you have your wife 
and daughter, whom all the banks in the world couldn't 
take from you. Beside you have your real estate to 
fall back upon. We are far, very far from being 
poor." 

But Merton heeded not her remarks, so absorbed 
was he in the account of the bank's liabilities. Sud- 
denly, he started up in bed, clenched his hands, threw 
them wildly about, and uttered a blood-curdling im- 
precation on the heads of those who had in charge the 
business management. 

"Look at that," he shouted, when the tempest of 
his wrath had moderated; and he pointed to a certain 
paragraph. 

She read: — "The affairs of the bank have been so 
poorly, so recklessly managed, that it seems doubtful 
whether its creditors will ever be able to make good 
two per cent, of their money. It is rumored that the 
cashier, who is in large part responsible, will 'lie 
shady' for some time to come." 

In the meantime, Mr. Merton was dressing; but 
so wild were his actions that his wife trembled with 
alarm. 

"Where are you going so early, my dear?" she in- 
quired in her most winning manner. "Surely you 
do not intend leaving us so long before business 
hours." 

He made no answer, but hastened to complete his 
toilet. Still silent, he went to the bureau; pulled out 
one drawer after another, throwing drawer and coa- 



212 i CANDLES' BEAMS 

tents on the floor, in search evidently of some par- 
ticular article. 

His wife stood by in trepidation: never before had 
she seen him in so furious a mood. 

"Mary," he broke out suddenly, "where are my 
pistols ?" 

"O John, my love," she moaned while clasping her 
hands together, "what are you about to do? There 
is murder in your eye, dear John. No, no; you 
mustn't ask for them; you shall not have them." 

"Very well, then: this will do," and he advanced 
towards the mantlepiece, whereon lay a rkhly-hilted 
dagger. 

But his wife was before him, and hid it in the bosom 
of her dress. "No, dear John," she said turning to 
her baffled husband, who, furious as he was, still re- 
spected his wife, "you are carried away by passion, 
and may do in a moment what may occasion Kfe-long 
regret." 

"Let me see the dagger," he persisted. 

"Not now, dearest: you shall see it some other 
time." 

The words, "you shall see it some other time," 
were uttered at random. But later on he did see it, 
and the wildness of her features now was as nothing 
in comparison to the dreadful memories that were to 
cluster about that other time, when in an agony she 
made good the unwitting promise she had given, little 
knowing, poor woman, of its dreadful fulfillment. 

"Well, Mary, I must go," and he made to leave the 
room. 

But she threw her arms around him, and begged 
with tears to know what he was about. He softened 
a little, and a film came over his eyes. 

"Mary, my life, it is all my love for you and for 
Ada. I have been swindled: basely, outrageously 



ADA MERTON 213 

swindled. The money that was to afford you and — 
and my only child all the pleasures of life, has been 
taken by a set of rascals. Yesterday at three o'clock, 
just before the bank closed I deposited in addition to 
what I had already there, eight thousand five hundred 
dollars, the proceeds of a sale of land, I had made 
that day ; and the black-hearted scoundrel of a cashier, 
who knew that the bank was to close forever three 
minutes later — ^the — ^dastard" — here he ground his 
teeth, and for a moment failed of words, so great was 
his wrath — ''this cashier smiled pleasantly, took my 
money and invited me with his glib tongue to call 
again! 1 tell you, Mary, before this day is out, I'll 
have his blood 1" 

But she held him fast, and hung sobbing on his 
bosom. 

**No John, promise me not to seek for him — ^to- 
day at least. Wait till to-morrow." 

"But I will seek him to-day, Mary ; and either he or 
I will close our accounts for good." 

He struggled to get away, but his wife clung to 
him, speechless and sobbing. For a moment he stood 
infuriated, still with enough of the human in him not 
to offer the least violence to the woman of his love. 
But as his wrongs chased through his memory all 
gentle feelings began to leave him. He caught his 
wife with his strong arms, and held her as though 
about to throw her from him. While they were thus 
standing, Ada entered the room. The horrible anger 
on her father's face filled her with terror; the miser- 
able, frightened countenance of her sobbing mother 
inspired her with pitying love. She drew back for 
a moment in amazement, not knowing what course to 
take; then raising her loving eyes in supplication, she 
said : — 

"Kiss me, dear papa." 



214 CANDLES^ BEAMS 

And the strong, furious man raised his little dau^- 
ter in his arms, embraced her, and burst into tears. 
The innocence and love of Ada had conquered him for 
the time. 

Before he departed for town that morning, he 
promised his wife on his honor that nothing should 
tempt him to make search after the swindler. 

How long and dreary was that day to Mrs. Merton. 
There was a time — quite recently, indeed — when her 
husband's word was to her a motive of supreme con- 
fidence. But now, should he drown his sorrows with 
wine, what reliance could be placed on his most 
sacred promises ? Evening came, and with it a terrific 
storm. The sky had been gloomy throughout the 
day; from early morning, the clouds, like a hostile 
army, had been massing themselves together in the 
heavens. Clad in their blackest, they lowered upon 
the world, and seemed preparing to make a descent 
upon it, as upon their most hated enemy. Towards 
noon, low mutterings of thunder had been heard, 
which grew in distinctness as the day declined. About 
four of the afternoon, the wind which had been sob- 
bing and sighing all day, arose violently, and gave 
forth the whistling battle-cry of the storm king ; down 
came the rain, fiercely and pitilessly; streak after 
streak of lightning cast a mocking, momentary flash 
of light over the unnatural darkness : and the thunder 
almost unintermittently rattled and crashed along the 
heavens. 

Ada was safe at home; Mr. Merton had not yet 
returned. His wife stood at the window with the 
child, and the dark, lowering, massed clouds seemed 
to sink into her very soul ; the heavy peals of thunder 
reached her foreboding heart Hke the moan of calam» 
ity; and the forked lightning shone before her like 
gtems of hatred from hostile eyes. 



ADA MERTON 215 

"Why do you shiver, mamma? are you afraid?" 
asked Ada noticing her mother's affright. 

"I am very nervous, darling; I feel as though the 
dark shadow of death were hovering above our house." 

"Death isn't a dark shadow; for after it we shall 
see the glorious God and His saints." 

"If it were only so," sighed the poor woman. "But 
why is your father so late? and in such weather, too. 
I have been expecting him this hour." 

At that moment a terrific clap of thunder broke 
upon the air. Mrs. Merton had become so nervous, 
that at the sound she sank into a chair, and covered 
her face with her hands. She was called to herself 
by Ada's voice. 

"O look, mamma, we're going to have visitors." 

Mrs. Merton arose, and looking out of the window, 
saw a carriage in front of the house. Fearing that 
the unknown evil was near, she rushed from the room, 
and down the stairs, where she was met at the door 
by a gentleman. 

"My husband! where is he?" she gasped, for her 
voice was choked by agitation. 

"Be calm, madam, he is not seriously injured: he 
is only stunned." 

With a low, sad cry of pain, she hastened past him 
to the street. Already four men were lifting his help- 
less form out of the carriage. He was senseless, and 
there was a wound on his head, from which the blood 
had issued and clotted upon his hair. It was a 
gloomy sight, the carriage black and bespattered with 
mud ; the driver on the seat so wrapped that he looked 
like the shadow of death ; the pelting rain falling upon 
the helpless body and its bearers, and the wild but 
beautiful lady catching the irresponsive hand of l^r 
husband. But, they hastened to tell her, he was not 



216 CANDLES' BEAMS 

seriously injured. A good night's rest they assurecS 
her, would enable him to be about on the morrow. 

The wretched man, as we have seen, had left the 
house early in the morning, and faithful to his promise 
had at first taken no measures to meet with the cashier. 
All would have gone well, had he restrained himself 
from liquor. But in his rage he had imbibed freely; 
and in a state bordering on frenzy, chance had brought 
him face to face with the cashier. Words were ex- 
changed; blows followed. So furious was the attack 
of the liquor-crazed man, that his opponent, through 
fear of losing his life, seized a cane and struck Merton 
a severe blow upon the head. 

The wound was not at all serious, but the tippling! 
This it was that weighed most heavily upon Mary 
Merton's heart. She began to realize that one source 
of her happiness was gone; that the formerly kind, 
and sober husband could be no longer depended on 
with the same, confiding, loving reliance. She sat 
beside her husband's bed, long after he had fallen 
into a heavy slumber; and her thoughts were bitter. 
She looked upon the pain-contracted face of Mr. Mer- 
ton, and shuddered, as her consciousness told her that 
the old love was ebbing away surely but slowly, and 
rounding into the narrower forms of fear and anxiety. 

Ada had long been slumbering quietly, when she 
was awakened by her mother's warm kisses. 

"O Ada, my child," cried the mother, clasping the 
little girl tightly to her bosom, "yo^? ^J darling, and 
only you, are my happiness, my heaven, my all." 



CHAPTER XII 

Fve been abused, insulted, and betrayed; 
My injured honor cries aloud for vengeance 
Her wounds will never close! 

— Shakespeare. 

THE next day brought back the sun bright as 
ever; it reawakened the stilled voices of the 
birds, and the light touch of the vernal breeze; it 
restored peace, calm and joy, to all nature — and con- 
sciousness, though not peace, to the injured man. His 
heart was envenomed with hatred, and his mind re- 
volved a thousand projects for meting out punishment 
to his enemy adequate to the insult. But no word 
escaped his lips indicative of the thoughts of ven- 
geance he was nursing. He spoke but little, and every 
answer that he tendered his wife's anxious inquiries 
fell upon her ear like the harsh sounds of some shat- 
tered musical instrument. 

His proud spirit chafed at the treatment he had re- 
ceived. And why should he pass over an insult, why 
should he turn the other cheek, since long years ago he 
had rejected the Prince of Peace, since he had sneered 
at the sublime commands of Him who tells us to "love 
our enemies, to pray for those who persecute and 
calumniate us?" But bound to his bed by the cruel 
bonds of pain, he was powerless for the day: and at 
times he would gnash his teeth and groan, not for 
physical suffering, but for his impotency to wreak in- 
stant vengeance upon his cowardly assailant. 

At length he determined upon his course of action. 
Dismissing his wife from the room on some shallow 

217 



218 CANDLES' BEAMS 

pretext, he hastily penned the following note to the 
cashier : 

"Sir, 

If you are a gentleman (which I have many reasons 
for doubting) you will meet me at two o'clock p. m. 
to-morrow (Sunday) in Barker's saloon west of the 
Fair Grounds. Bring any friend of yours along that 
you please. I will await you there till night, and if you 
fail to appear (as seems to be very probable) I will 
brand you as a coward, and horsewhip you on the first 
occasion. 

John Merton." 

Secretly summoning Bob, he despatched him with 
the missive to the cashier's residence. When Mrs. 
Merton returned, she felt instinctively that her husband 
was cherishing some new secret; but so dispirited was 
the humbled lady, that she dared not question him. Mr. 
Merton, now that he had relieved his mind on the one 
subject which was rankling there, suddenly became 
lively and gay; and to his wife's no little joy spoke 
cheerfully of his losses, and with consummate art, 
diverted all the suspicions which she previously might 
have formed. 

It was an utterly different day to Ada; for it v/as 
the one of her final preparation for the happiest event 
of her life. Long after her confession, she remained 
before the tabernacle, praying for those of her own 
household, who were sitting in the shadow of death ; 
praying that the good God might open their eyes to 
the brightness of eternal light; praying that in union 
with her they might come to recognize one God, one 
Faith, one Lord and Master of all. She returned home 
filled with beautiful thoughts of the next morning. 

"Papa," she said, "are you better this evening?" 



ADA MERTON 219 

"Why, of course. Can't you see I'm better? I 
expect to go out in the yard to-morrow, and stand on 
my head to show you how hard it is." 

"Well, papa," here Ada hesitated, "won't — won't you 
come along with mamma to-morrow morning, and see 
me make my first Communion ?" 

He turned uneasily in his bed. 

"All the other little girls are going to have their 
papas, and mammas along," Ada suggested. 

"That's a pretty strong argument," answered the 
father, "but it's so chilly in the morning. That hole 
in my head has created quite a draught up there." 

"Do come, John," urged his wife, seeing that he 
was inclining to assent. 

"Well, I'll go ; seeing that the whole family is stand- 
ing out against me. But you needn't ask me to come 
to church again, till I build one myself." 

Ada clapped her hands, and, bending down, kissed 
him tenderly. 

"That's a good, dear papa," she said, "and I'm going 
to pray so hard for you and mamma to-morrow morn- 
ing, that I'm sure our Saviour will hear me." 

Mr. Merton smiled incredulously. 

"I've heard of *care killing a cat,' " he said, "but no 
one ever heard of prayer even making one blink, 
so you may pray away Ada: it will do neither you 
nor us any harm." 

"But it will do you good : won't it mamma ?" 

"Fm afraid not, Ada, your papa and I are too old 
to change our opinions so easily; even to please the 
darling little daughter we love so much." 

"Too old !" answered Ada with an artlessness which 
transcended the highest art; "why you're not old, 
niamma. Sister Felicitas told me once, the day after 
she met you and me walking together, that you look so 
young, and more like my elder sister than my mother," 



220 CANDLES' BEAMS 

"Did she?" said Mrs. Merton, not a little pleased. 
From that moment she felt a friendly regard for Ada's 
teacher. 

"Yes, mamma, and she wants to know you, and is 
always asking me why you don't come and pay her a 
visit." 

"Well, well, I must go and see Sister Felicitas soon: 
she must be very nice, since my little girl can love her 
so much." 

"O, indeed, she is very nice: and I'm sure you'll 
love her very much; and she'll be able to tell you ever 
so many things about God, that will make you believe." 

Ada was now happy : she felt that a victory had 
been gained ; that her parents were coming closer to 
the true faith. Resolving to push her advantages, she 
added, after a pause : — 

"Sister Felicitas said something beautiful to us to- 
day." 

"What was it, Ada?" asked Mrs. Merton. 

"She told us that our loving Jesus enters our souls 
in holy Communion as into a tabernacle; and that He 
loves to find this tabernacle adorned with the flowers of 
virtue. And then she said that the flowers dearest to 
Jesus were the roses of love, the lilies of purity and 
the violets of modesty ; and that as the dew brings out 
more perfectly the loveliness of an earthly flower, so 
the dew of prayer makes these heavenly flowers most 
grateful to His loving Heart. And so now, dear 
mamma, and papa, I'm going to my room for a while 
to pray for this heavenly dew. Good-bye, dear mamma, 
good-bye, dear papa," and she kissed them with a lov- 
ing tenderness all the greater that it seemed to be spirit- 
ualized into the highest and holiest love which poor 
human nature can attain. 

"Ah, John," sighed the mother when Ada had left 
the room, "I felt just then as though, in spite of all my 



ADA MERTON 221 

experience and knowledge, I was in the presence of 
some superior being." 

"Hum," muttered John trying to resist the same 
conviction, "natural sensation — ^animal magnetism, elec- 
tricity, et cetera. But," he continued with more earnest- 
ness, "she really is a wonderful child. There are 
preachers abounding, who could never attempt to speak 
in the beautiful simple way, in which she just now 
spoke to us. Her subject was nonsensical of course; 
but one could see that she really believed what she 
said, which is much more than can be allowed of our 
high salaried ministers of the day. Yes, Mary; we 
must take good care of her. In a few years, she will be 
as beautiful a young lady as this country can boast — 
if she live." 

"Live!" echoed his wife, "my goodness, John, you 
can't imagine that she will be taken from us !" 

"I don't know, Mary; but when she kissed me just 
now with that strange spirituelle look shining about 
her, I felt as if she were going away for a long time. 
— But that's nonsense — superstition." 

"Of course," she assented, "if a person is a little 
careful, death need never be considered. It is a morbid 
thought. Life becomes intolerable under its shadow. 
But, John, let us love Ada more and more, for, to adapt 
the beautiful comparison of Sister Felicitas, she is, 
indeed a rose of love." 

"Yes; but we had better tend our blossoming little 
flower very carefully, lest those ogres of the black veil, 
of which Sister Felicitas is a member, steal our rose 
away and leave us nothing but the thorns." 

"Have no fear, John: Ada may persist in her reli- 
gion—for though it be false, I really am coming to 
think that it is a blessing to those who believe — ^but, 
mind me, she shall never be a nun.'* 



CHAPTER XIII 

The priest comes down to the railing, 
Where brows are bowed in prayer; 

In the tender clasp of his fingers 
A Host lies pure and fair, 

And the hearts of Christ and the Christian 
Meet there — and only there. 

— Abram J. Ryan. 

THE happy morning was come. Long before the 
ruby-tinted messengers of the sun had set his 
royal signet in the East, Ada was up and dressed. 
Never did she look more like a bright stranger from 
the unknown land than at the dawn of this Easter 
morning, as robed in spotless white she knelt before her 
crucifix, her very eyes, nay her whole being, the ''homes 
of silent prayer." Shining with "the light that never 
yet was seen on land or sea," her face seemed to reflect 
the happiness of the blessed. A graceful and fragrant 
chaplet of roses, lilies and violets (suggested to her 
mother by the conversation of the preceding afternoon), 
rested like a glory on her fair hair; and, to borrow 
from a great author, ''she looked like a creature fresh 
from the hands of God." 

Not a word did she utter on her way to church ; and 
her parents respecting, if not appreciating, her feelings, 
allowed her to walk before them. 

"John," whispered Mrs. Merton, as they neared the 
vestibule of the church, "look at the beauty of our 
child. Isn't it something unearthly?" 

"It is remarkable," he conceded; "never saw any- 
thing like it. If there were anything in our reach 

222 



ADA MERTON 223 

that wasn't part and parcel of the earth, I would assent 
to your qualifying epithet." 

And now for the first time in sixteen years, Mr. 
Merton, accompanied by his wife who was fast be- 
coming a stranger too, found himself seated in a 
Catholic church, and looking again upon the great sac- 
rifice of the Mass. But their carnal eyes had no sym- 
pathy for the grand mystery presented to them: Ada, 
and Ada alone absorbed their attention. 

As the child «was returning from the communion 
table, Mrs. Merton could hardly believe her eyes. 

"John, John, look at her face," she whispered. "Do 
my eyes deceive me, or isn't her countenance aglow 
with light ?" 

"Bosh !" answered the husband, "she does look like 
the angels they talk of, but don't you know what tender 
sensibilities, and what a lively imagination Ada has? 
She thinks she's united to an impossible First Cause — 
that's all. Why if that man at the altar were a bogus 
priest, and the bread she just now received hadn't been 
consecrated or whatever you call it, she would have 
looked just the same." 

It was a strange thing; and yet as Ada had turned 
from the railing, Mr. Merton had by a sort of instinct 
thrown himself upon his knees ; but on remembering 
himself, had slipped into his seat, as though ashamed 
of himself. Mrs. Merton did not kneel for a moment. 

On the way home the husband was in bad humor; 
And he went so far as to aver that he would never enter 
a Catholic church again — he would die first. And yet 
the unhappy man knew in the depths of his heart that 
his spleen arose from the gnawings of conscience, that 
his bitterness was caused by the memory of his own 
happy first communion. 

Mrs. Merton, too, was sad; for she could not but 
confess to herself, that notwithstanding her denial of 



224 CANDLES' BEAMS 

the existence of God, she might have been much hap- 
pier, she should now be much more hopeful, if her 
faith, baseless though it were, had never been shaken. 

So, when they reached their dwelling, they were in 
no mood for conversation ; and they awaited Ada, each 
one busied with thoughts, better, perhaps, for each 
other's sakes, left unsaid. And when the child arrived, 
it was like the sunbeam penetrating the gloomy cell of 
a prison. She gaily told them all about herself and her 
fellow-communicants; how happy each was, and what 
beautiful pictures the kind Sister had given them. 

"Look at mine!" she went on taking a number of 
pictures from her prayer-book. "Some of them are 
the prettiest I have ever seen. Here's Blessed Mar- 
garet Mary, and there's St. Agnes ; but look at this one 
— all in bright colors — it's the dear child Jesus in a 
manger. Now, mamma, you must kiss it." 

Ada bent an eager pair of eyes upon her mother, who 
with a crimson face kissed the picture. 

"You must do the same, papa," continued Ada pre- 
senting it to her father. 

"Why, how well that white dress becomes you," said 
Mr. Merton evading the point as usual. "You look like 
a miniature Venus rising out of the sea-foam: never 
did I see you looking so pleasing." 

"I'm glad you like it, papa; but why don't you kiss 
the picture?" 

"Well, it is a lovely dress, in an aesthetic point of 
view. Dear me, the sweetness and light are all there. 
You ought to live in such a dress as that always." 

"I'd like to die in it, papa." 

"Ada, my darling," broke in the mother, her voice 
quivering as she spoke, "don't think of death. Never 
use that word. You so young, so lovely, so innocent, 
so talented; with all the gay pleasures of life before 
you ! No, no darling, such subjects do not become you." 



ADA MERTON 225 

^'There's not a girl in our class, mamma," answered 
Ada with heightening color, "who would not gladly die 
to-day. This morning I begged my dear Saviour to 
take my life, if that would bring you and papa to the 
true faith." 

''I'm glad you love us so much as that," said Mr. 
Merton; "but" — and he smiled scornfully — "so long 
as you offer your life to God only, there's not any 
extraordinary danger of your being heard. However 
Ada, I want you to be more careful of your health, you 
are beginning to grow pale and tl^in. By the way, Ada, 
don't you fast?" 

He fixed his sharp eyes upon her. She hung her 
head, blushed, but made no answer. 

"Answer me," he commanded, with his eyes still 
upon her. "You are very pale, Ada. Didn't you fast 
yesterday ?" 

"Yes, papa ; but it was for you and mamma. Nobody 
except God knew of it, till now." 

Upon this admission, Mr. Merton plied question 
after question ; and though his face grew very grave, 
and his wife was moved to tears, when they learned 
some of the austerities which Ada had been imposing 
on herself for their sakes, they failed to discover one 
tithe of the bodily sufferings that Ada had voluntarily 
undergone for their sins. Ever since the day that her 
mother's unbelief had come to light, Ada not sufficiently 
versed in asceticism to consult her confessor in such 
matters, had embraced austerities above her strength. 

Even over what they learned, her father and mother 
were very serious; and at breakfast they watched her 
closely. But Ada had already perceived her mistake. 

"You needn't watch me, papa; up to this, I didn't 
know any better," she said. "After this I will never 
fast or do anything of that sort without letting you 
know it." 



226 CANDLES' BEAMS 

"Had I been a fervent Catholic," thought the mother, 
'*she would not have done such things without consult- 
ing me. Poor child! I fear that I am not all to her 
that a perfect mother should be." 

A little after mid-day, Mr. Merton, who had been 
growing moodier as the time drew near to the hour 
appointed for meeting the cashier, called for his coat 
and cane. 

"What! going out to-day, John?" cried his wife, a 
feeling of vague uneasiness creeping over her. 

"Yes, Mary," with as much lightness as he could 
assume, "I have a — eh — eh — a business engagement to 
attend to." 

With a heavy heart, she accompanied him to the 
hall door. She longed to give him one caution; but 
she feared his anger. Oh, if she could but muster up 
courage for those few words ! She looked up to his 
face wistfully, as he turned to go; and her hopes rose 
as she noticed how pleasantly he smiled on her. He 
remarked her wistful look, and paused on the 
threshold. 

"Well, Mary, what is it you wish to say?" 

"John, dear, don't, — O, do not drink anything." 

She never forgot the look of fury that transformed 
his countenance : without answering a word, he turned 
on his heel ; but she caught his arm and clung to it. 

"Don't leave me in this fashion, John," she cried 
pleadingly. The proud man with an effort restrained 
himself, and in that moment of hesitation, it flashed 
through his mind that possibly he might never return 
to his family. 

"You are right, Mary," he answered, "we have never 
yet parted in anger, nor shall we to-day. Where is 
Ada?" 

Ada was just descending the stairs. 



ADA MERTON ^7 

"Why, papa, to-day is Sunday; and Easter Sunday 
too," she said. "You mustn't leave us to-day." 

"But I must, though, so good-bye, Ada," and to the 
astonishment of his wife, he raised the child in his 
arms, and embracing her with unusual tenderness, held 
her to his breast for several minutes. 

"Perhaps," he was thinking, "I shall never see her 
again." Then with a gesture of adieu, he closed the 
door, and with it he closed out all love and peace ; for 
his mind now turned to thoughts of revenge. With 
a darkening brow, he made his way to the Fair 
Grounds, but the thought, "perhaps, I shall never see 
her again," rang in his heart like a prophetic dirge. 
Once he was prompted to turn back; but he crushed 
the impulse and went on. 



CHAPTER XIV 

Like one, that on a lonesome road, 

Doth walk in fear and dread. 
And having once turned round, walks on 

And turns no more his head. 
Because he knozus a frightful fiend 

Doth close behind him tread. 

— Coleridge. 

TWO o'clock of that eventful Sunday afternoon 
arrived; but there was one opponent only at the 
designated meeting place. An hour passed, then an- 
other, and still no new arrival. Mr. Merton grew 
impatient, and strode up and down a path beside a 
shady grove, furious at the delay. 

At length despairing of a meeting, he repaired, to 
relieve the monotony, to the wayside inn, and ordering 
a bottle of wine, seated himself at a table. Standing 
at the counter, were a few well-to-do looking men en- 
gaged, if one could judge by their looks, in an exciting 
conversation. At the entrance of the new-comer, they 
paused for a moment in their talk, but after surveying 
him, continued the interesting theme. At first, Mr. 
Merton was so buried in his own thoughts, that their 
words fell idly upon his ear. Suddenly his face changed, 
and he was all attention. 

"They say he's hidden at Florissant," said one. 
These were the words that brought Mr. Merton into 
a listening attitude. 

"That's strange," chimed in another; "for he told 
me the very day after the break, that he'd stay and face 
the music." 

"Yes," answered the first speaker, "but it appears 

228 



ADA MERTON 229 

that some one sent him a threatening message yesterday 
— blood, knives, pistols, and that sort of thing — ^and 
being uncommonly weak in the nerves, he's run away." 

Merton concluded that they were speaking of the 
cashier, and so great was his excitement while listening 
that he unconsciously drained glass after glass. The 
speakers were branching off to some other subject, 
when he arose, walked up to them, and fixing eyes, that 
bespoke intense passion, upon one of the informants 
gasped out : — 

"Sir, pardon me ; did you allude to the cashier of the 
Bender's Bank?" 

"The same, sir," answered the man after a moment's 
pause. 

Without noticing the significant glances which the 
men exchanged, Merton abruptly left the tavern. There 
was no going back now. He must set out for Floris- 
sant, immediately; but it would not do to return home 
for his things; for his wife was already sufficiently 
alarmed. Walking rapidly to Easton Avenue, he took 
a street car, stepping off at the first livery stable it 
passed. 

"A horse and buggy, till to-morrow morning — the 
fastest horse you've got," he said handing his card to 
the hostler, who upon reading it, touched his hat re- 
spectfully and bustled off to execute the commission. 

After a delay which seemed interminable, the hostler 
delivered the reins into his hands. Springing into the 
buggy impatiently, Merton gave the horse a sharp cut, 
and started at break-neck speed. 

The astonished hostler strained his eyes after the 
fast receding vehicle, scratched his head, shook it, and 
then remarked : — 

"Well, if that 'ere boss comes back right side up, I'm 
another, / am. But Mr. Merton's able to foot the 
damages — ^that's one consolation." 



230 CANDLES' BEAMS 

Long before he had concluded his soHloquy, the ob- 
ject of it was out of sight. On he drove spinning over 
the road till city houses were succeeded by suburban 
residences, and glimpses of woods flashed before him ; 
on he drove till cottage, garden, and field passed like 
spectres before his eyes ; on he drove, madly overtaking 
and passing other equipages, the occupants of which 
would often rein in their horses, and gaze wonderingly 
at the fine-looking gentleman, with the demon's glare 
in his wild eyes. The sun was low before he gained 
Florissant ; but he thought not of this. Stopping at the 
first house on the outskirts of the village, he made 
enquiries for the cashier ; but the inmates knew nothing 
of the man. At every house in the vicinity, he repeated 
his question only to obtain the same answer. Finally, 
he gained the village tavern. Its keeper, a stout man 
of about forty, looked at the questioner suspiciously. 

"Never heern of him, before," was his answer. 
There were several men in the room, listeners to the 
conversation. One of them stole out with Mr. Merton, 
and whispered to him : — 

"Drive away from the inn a little, an' I reckon I 
ken tell you somethin'." 

Mr. Merton drove further on, and awaited the man, 
a shabby looking fellow, whose countenance was by no 
means of a kind to inspire confidence. 

"Stranger, if you want to know whar' that man is, it 
must be wuth your knowin," 

"Certainly it is," answered Merton unconscious of 
the other's drift. "Tell me quick." 

"I don't know but what it may be wuth five dollars 
to you." 

"Oh!" answered Merton, fumbling in his pocket, 
and producing a bill: "There now, for heaven's sake 
be quick." 

"Well, that 'ere cashier, is expected to be back to 



ADA MERTON 231 

that house to-morrow mornin', but he's bribed the 
fellur as runs the place not to let it out." 

Not waiting to thank his informant, Merton returned 
to the inn. 

"See here," he said to the landlord, "step aside one 
moment, I want to see you about something important." 
The landlord's eye kindled with speculation, and, rub- 
bing his hands briskly, he retired with his man to a 
corner remote from the crowd. 

"My friend," said Merton, "I want to stay here all 
night, but very privately. You won't mention my being 
here to any one, will you?" And to add emphasis to 
his request, he pressed an eagle into the landlord's 
palm. 

**A11 k'rect, sir. An' now I come to think of it, the 
man you enquired for is to be here before to-morrow 
noon." What a wondrous quickener of the memory 
is money. 

The night passed quietly, and next morning found 
Mr. Merton up fresh and early awaiting his enemy. 
As it neared noon his anxiety increased, and he began 
drinking heavily. Noon arrived, but no cashier. Mr. 
Merton still continued to ply his glass, and one hour 
later, he was buried in a heavy sleep. 

How long he slept he knew not; but he was awak- 
ened suddenly by some one shaking him violently. 

Starting to his feet, and leaning on the table for 
support, he found himself facing the shabby man who 
had first volunteered his evidence. "Stranger," he 
said, "you'd better git around lively. The chap you are 
after's ben here, and has seed you, and is now making 
tracks for Ferguson." 

"Go and get my buggy, quick," said Mr. Merton 
hoarsely. His head was dizzy, and there was a strange 
ringing in his ears ; but he was sufficiently conscious to 
follow the bent of his revenge. 



232 CANDLES' BEAMS 

A minute later, he was climbing into the buggy ; but 
so unsteady was he, that it required the help of his 
disinterested informant. 

"Be keerful stranger, keep your hand steady. That 
hoss is a leetle too lively for you." 

He had scarcely spoken, when Merton, turning the 
horse towards Ferguson, raised his whip, and brought 
it down with all his strength upon the poor animal's 
back. The horse reared violently, and so sudden was 
the jerk, that the reins slipped from the driver's hands. 
Affrighted still more by the dragging reins, the horse 
lost all control, and started off at full speed. Mr. 
Merton caught hold of the dashboard and held on 
mechanically. About a hundred yards down the road 
was a small railed bridge, crossing a stream. Quicker 
than words can tell it, they had arrived there, and as 
the runaway swerved to one side, one of the buggy'? 
wheels was caught by the railing, and the sudden shock 
threw Mr. Merton violently from the vehicle. Before 
the horse could extricate himself, several men had 
caught his bridle, and were calming him by patting him 
gently. But Mr. Merton moved not from the place 
where he had fallen. The partially-healed wound upon 
his head had again been opened, and he was senseless. 
They carried him to the inn, where it required many 
hours to revive him. 

The next day he was too weak and dizzy to leave the 
inn. He was prompted more than once to send word 
to his wife, but pride restrained him; he would keep 
the shameful accident forever as a secret. 

Wednesday afternoon had come, and he was much 
better. But it would not do to start for home till all 
the marks of his bruises had disappeared. About three 
o'clock he fell into a troubled slumber. Dreams 
crowded upon him. He was again in quest of the 
cashier; and had pursued him through a wild country. 



ADA MERTON 233 

Suddenly his enemy could flee no further, for he had 
come to the brow of a precipice. "I've got you, now, 
you villain," cried the pursuer. But what was his 
horror and dismay, when the cashier suddenly lifted 
Ada from the ground, raised her in his arms, and held 
her over the precipice. He could see the calm, sweet 
look of his daughter, as she stretched out her hands, 
entreating him to come and save her. Suddenly the 
dream changed. Ada was lost in a trackless desert. 
He wandered about through the blinding sand in quest 
of her ; and at times would catch a glimpse of her 
white garments. But ere he reached her, a great moun- 
tain of sand rose between them, and he would again be 
baffled. Worn out, finally, by the search, he threw 
himself upon the sand, and fell into a sort of doze. 
He was aroused by the voice he so well knew. "I am 
not lost, papa: it is you who are lost. Come home, 
papa." 

The loving, little face, sorrowful, but bright with 
tears then bent down to his, and imprinted a soft kiss 
upon his cheek. 

Then he awoke. He started up in bed, and as his 
eyes opened, he seemed to see Ada thinning into the 
darkness of the evening, and he still felt the warm 
kiss upon his cheek. 

"My God," he cried involuntarily, "was Ada really 
beside me ? Did she say, 'Papa, come home ?' " 

"John Merton," said a man who was sitting beside 
his bed, and whom he had not noticed before, "no one 
has been here but myself. Do you know me, John?" 

"Why, Clarke, how came you here?" 

"I chanced to hear that you were in this inn," an- 
swered Mr. Clarke, who was an old friend, "and I 
considered it my business to see you at once. John, 
John, my dear fellow, is it possible that you have left 



234 CANDLES' BEAMS 

your wife and child, alone and unprotected, living, as 
you do, upon the very outskirts of the city?" 

John pressed his hand to his forehead ; the voice of 
his child was still ringing in his ears. 

"Yes, it is possible; and I am a brute, Clarke, as 
sure as we are in this room ; I know that I am needed 
at home. Ada has called me, my hand is unsteady, my 
brain is whirling; for the sake of our old friendship 
drive me home; and hurry, hurry, for my brain is 
burning with anxiety." 

Mr. Clarke, as he listened to these earnest words, 
grew still more grave. A few moments later, he 
helped the anxious father into a buggy, and then jump- 
ing in himself gave free rein to the horse. And the 
animal gathering all its energy bounded away into the 
night, as though he too were affected by some dread 
presentiment. 



CHAPTER XV 

Then like tired breezes didst thou' sink to rest, 
Nor one, one pang the awful change confessed. 
Death stole in silence o'er that lovely face, 
And touched each feature with a new-born grace; 
On cheek and brow unearthly beauty lay, 
And told that life's poor cares had passed away! 
In my last hour, be Heaven so kind to me! 
I ask no more but this — to die like thee. 

— S Prague. 

THE afternoon when Mr. Merton left his home 
was most melancholy to his wife. It was becom- 
ing plainer to her every day that one prop of her 
happiness had been removed — perhaps forever. No 
longer could her mind dwell with delight on the kindest 
of husbands; no longer could she count upon his 
prompt return at the conclusion of his business en- 
gagements ; no longer could she listen with pleasure to 
his droll remarks; for his gaiety was departing with 
his sober habits. In proportion as her love for her 
husband weakened, did her affection for Ada 
strengthen. 

The hours had worn slowly on, till the clock marked 
eight of the evening; and they were still waiting for 
the familiar footstep. Ada, noticing her mother's dis- 
tress, did all in her power to make the time pass 
pleasantly. She played her liveliest melodies upon the 
piano, and sang over and over the "Eve of St. Agnes ;'* 
and as her mother listened, and thought of the child's 
generous efforts, she felt her whole heart going out to 
her daughter. 

235 



236 CANDLES' BEAMS 

"Ada, come here, my child." 

When Ada, leaving the piano, had nestled in her 
mother's bosom, the mother pressed her warmly to 
her heart, as though some one were seeking to wrest 
the child away. 

"Ada, Ada, my child, you are my only love, now. 
Without you this earth would be a hell." 

"Oh, mamma !" cried the child deprecatingly. 

"I tell you, my child," pursued the madly doting 
mother, "I would rather suffer all the hideous torments 
I have ever read or heard of, than be separated from 
you for a day. O Ada, you are my whole joy, my 
whole happiness." 

The child was astonished at her mother's almost 
incoherent passionateness ; she knew not that the human 
heart must ever have some God; that nothing but the 
Infinite can satisfy its cravings; and that if the heart 
recklessly spurn the Infinite, it must turn with an un- 
appeasable and ever unsatisfied hunger to the finite. 

"Mamma," she said "I know that you love me very 
much : why can't you love God too ?" 

"It is out of the question, my child. If you could 
but read my mind you would readily understand me. 
It may be, my darling, that, as you once said, I am 
blind and cannot see the light; but certain it is, my 
dearest, that I cannot, even for a moment, firmly 
believe that there is a God. But to tell you the truth, 
Ada, since the occurrences of the last few days, I 
almost wish I could believe." 

"O, I'm so glad you say that," said Ada ; "for if you 
wish to believe, God will surely in His great, great love 
open your eyes." 

"It is dreadful to live this way," continued the 
mother. "Your poor papa is becoming so unhappy, 
darling." 



ADA MERTON 237 

"Poor papa," sighed Ada. "God doesn't seem to 
grant my prayers quickly ; but I am sure that you and 
papa will soon see things in the true way." 

For some time they sat in silence, and motionless 
save only for the passionate caresses of the mother. 
Finally, Mrs. Merton said: 

"Ada, your voice sounded strange this evening ; you 
seem to be weak and tired." 

"Yes, mamma, I have felt a little weak for the past 
three days, and there's a pain in my side. I feel very 
tired to-night." 

"Yes, my dearest, and I noticed you coughing a little. 
Let me take you to bed, this instant; your health is 
much too precious to be wasted in nightwatches for 
your father/^ There was a tone of bitterness in the 
last two words. 

Ada begged to stay up, so fearful was she that her 
mother would be overwhelmed by sadness, if left alone. 
But the mother was firm. She helped the child to bed 
and, kissing her with even more passionateness than 
she had before evinced, left the child for the night. 
No sooner was Ada alone, than rising to her knees in 
bed she commenced her night prayers. 

Her very heart seemed to speak in behalf of father 
and mother. She passed almost an hour in this posi- 
tion, and lay down, not that she had finished her 
prayer, but from very weakness. The pain in her side 
continued to increase, and she experienced a sense of 
weakness growing upon her. But her mind seemed to 
become more acute. The slightest sound arrested her 
attention, for she could not turn her thoughts from 
her father out in the chilly night. Then flashed 
through her imagination, the vision of her mother, sit- 
ting tearless, alone, sorrowful by the hearth. 

"Poor mamma," she thought, "how unhappy ^e 



238 CANDLES' BEAMS 

must now be. If she believed in God, she would have 
some one to whom she might now speak her sorrows." 

The thought of her mother's loneliness seemed to 
haunt her brain : she could not dismiss it : the image of 
her mother alone and weeping without one heart near 
by to sympathize so clung to her, that at last she 
resolved to arise, and bear her company. Putting on 
the beautiful garments of the morning, she stole gently 
towards her mother's room. The night had grown 
quite chill, and, as she walked along the damp hall, 
U shiver passed through her frame, and the feeling of 
Weakness increased. 

The door reached, she stood for a moment with her 
hand upon the knob, doubting whether she should 
enter. Suddenly she felt a difficulty in respiration, the 
pain in the side became violent, and her head grew 
dizzy. Throwing open the door, she staggered into 
the room. 

"Mamma, help me — I am ill." This was all she could 
say. 

"O Ada !" cried the agonized mother, catching the 
child in her arms, "tell me quick, darling, what is the 
matter ?" and she laid the child tenderly on her bed. 

"I find it hard to breathe, mamma, and the pain at 
my side, and Fm dizzy." Ada's voice had a strange 
ring in it, and this symptom frightened Mrs. Merton 
most of all. 

"Maggie, Maggie," she called out, going to the hall- 
way. In a short time, the maid appeared. 

"Go, Maggie, quick, call Bob, and tell him to run for 
life, and get the nearest doctor — O my darling, my 
child," she cried hastening back to Ada, "my child — 
you must not, you shall not be ill." 

"Poor mamma," Ada murmured, and tears of pity 
were on her cheek. "Get me my crucifix, mamma,** 



ADA MERTON 239 

"No dearest, I cannot leave you. Do you breathe 
easier yet, my child?" 

"I — I think not, mamma." 

Maggie just then entered the room with the patient's 
crucifix. Ada clutched it tightly, and kissed it with 
love beaming upon her face. 

"Mamma," she whispered, "I am very happy; but 
I believe I am going to die. Send for a priest." 

The words were scarcely spoken, when Maggie has- 
tened from the room; the poor mother grew ashen 
pale, and threw herself upon her knees, beside the 
fair child. 

"Come, my darling, don't think of death, — O God, 
O God! when will the doctor come?" In solemn mo- 
ments the name of God will rise to the unbeliever's 
Up. 

Ten minutes later, a doctor arrived post haste. After 
a brief examination, he shook his head. 

"O doctor, what is it? tell me, quick." Mrs. Mer- 
ton entreated, as she caught his arm, and fixed her 
eyes upon him as though to read his thoughts. 

"Be calm, madam. — God help you; is she an only 
child? — But she may recover. It is a case of aggra- 
vated pneumonia. She has been suffering from it 
slightly for some days back, very probably; for her 
case is more advanced than I generally find at the first 
visit." 

May none of us ever see such a look of despair as 
settled upon Mrs. Merton's face. Pneumonia! it was 
a disease terrible in its ravages that year ! 

The doctor assisted by Maggie did all that could be 
done, while the mother with that look of despair which 
never changed stood like a marble statue, her eyes bent 
upon the fragile child. 

Presently a priest entered the room. 



240 CANDLES' BEAMS 

"Mamma/' whispered Ada, "this Communion will 
be for you and papa." 

At sight of the priest, Mrs. Merton moved towards 
him with an angry gesture; but the appealing glance 
of Ada changed her purpose, and with a moan she 
allowed him to do his work alone. 

It was already nearing the dawn, and, for the first 
time since the child's sickness, she thought of her 
husband. 

"Bob," she said, "go and scour the town, and bring 
that man to his daughter." 

When Mrs. Merton entered the room again she saw 
upon Ada's face the perfect repose of tranquil happi- 
ness. 

Monday and Tuesday passed slowly ; but the mother 
never for a moment left the side of the suffering child ; 
never for a moment relaxed her watchfulness. Often 
Maggie begged her to rest for a short time, but to 
no avail. Sister Felicitas shared the poor lady's vigil, 
and, despite their many disparities, a silent love grew 
Up between them. 

It was about seven o'clock on Wednesday evening. 
Ada was lying in a sort of slumber. Beside her were 
Maggie, Sister Felicitas, and the mother, all three 
watching the child's slightest movement. Of a sudden, 
Ada's face began to change; first it looked sad, and 
then affectionate, and finally she opened her eyes, and 
gazed about her. 

"Is papa here?" she said. 

"Ada, my darling, are you suffering pain?" asked 
the heart-broken mother, resting her cheek against the 
face of her child. 

"Very little, mamma. I thought papa was near me, 
and in trying to touch him I awoke. But I will see 
him some day, please God — but not here mamma. 
Are you Hstening ? — are you near me ?" 



ADA MERTON 2M. 

"Speak, my angel; I am here." 

"Then tell poor papa that I leave him my — dearest 
love." She spoke with difficulty; but the light of a 
happiness rarely experienced in this world shone upon 
her like a glory. 

At times, Sister Felicitas would raise the crucifix 
to the dying child's lips, and with a look of gratitude, 
she would kiss it with inexpressible tenderness. The 
mother was speechless with agony ; but not a tear 
started from her eyes. She stood statue-like, gazing 
as one who looks upon all that is precious for the last 
time. Suddenly a brightness not of this world came 
over the child's features; she rose half-way in bed, 
looking with eager eyes as upon some vision. Then 
turning towards her mother, she smiled sweetly, and 
said ; — 

"Mamma, I'm going home. — Jesus ! Mary !" 

At that moment a hasty step was heard upon the 
stairs ; but when Mr. Merton stepped breathless into 
the room, he saw a nun upon her knees, Maggie crying 
bitterly, and his wife gazing fixedly upon the body of 
his darling Ada ! 



CHAPTER XVI 

The thorns which I have reaped are of the tree 
I planted; they have torn me, and I bleed; 
I should have known what fruit would spring from 
such a seed. — Byron, 

FOR a moment Mr. Merton stood like one bereft of 
his senses. The room seemed to turn round and 
round; lights gleamed before his eyes; and his very 
heart stood still. Then there flashed through his brain 
the remembrance of the God whom he had so often 
mocked ; whom he had so bitterly denied ; who now 
turned upon him with the power of His right arm. 

"My God! my God!" he moaned, striking his fore- 
head with his hands. 

For the first time the statue-like woman turned 
from the dead child, and fixing her large, tearless eyes 
upon him, broke into a loud, harsh, grating laugh. 

"My God, my God," she repeated with disdain; 
"you, you, you come here with talk of God ; you come 
to mock me with your lying tongue. Look there ;" she 
went on pointing to the body; "do you see that lovely 
form ; that fair brow, never yet ruffled by an impure, 
an unholy thought ; those lips that smiled with a beauty 
I never, never more shall see ? Where now is the little 
life that was worth a million such as yours? Gone, 
gone, and gone forever. All that beauty is but clay, 
earth, and the worms shall devour it. Never more 
shall Ada's loving heart beat against mine ; never more 
shall her happy voice bring joy to my bosom; never 
more shall her dear smile, her warm kiss bear joy and 
sweetness to my bereaved heart — for she is gone, gone ! 
O, it is too cruel ; it cannot be. Such a noble nature 

242 



ADA MERTON 243 

was not made for a few brief years. She is not dead 
— ^Ada, my darling, my love, my child, my only child, 
speak to me. Let your voice but whisper, so that I 
know you live. — O, it is too cruel — Ada, my child, my 
child speak to me.'' And she threw herself beside the 
lifeless form, and covered the serene brow with kisses. 

"O Mary, my wife, I deserve it all ; it is my fault," 
cried the agonized, humiliated husband. "But be calm, 
dear Mary: the child is dead." 

"Ah," she answered turning upon him in a phrensy 
of rage, ''you talk of being calm! you, who have 
taught me that death is an eternal separation! Away 
from me, you fiend. She is not dead; and you who 
have taken away from me my God, would now take 
away the loveliest heart that ever beat. — Speak to me, 
Ada! Ada, my child speak to me." 

Sister Felicitas now came forward, and laying her 
hand upon Mrs. Merton's brow, led the poor mother 
to a chair; and the husband, fearing that his presence 
might excite his wife to madness, bent one longing 
lingering look upon the child's angelic features, and 
repaired to his own room — but not to rest. 

Up and down he walked, "reaping the whirlwind he 
had so carefully sown." In his ears rang a text of 
scripture that had impressed him in his early years, 
"Have pity on me, have pity on me, at least you, my 
friends, for the hand of the Lord hath touched me." 
His pride was shattered, and in the supreme bitterness 
of the moment, his eyes were fully opened to the light. 

"Yes," he bitterly acknowledged, "I have fought 
against God ; I have tried to despise Him ; I have cast 
Him from my heart, and endeavored to root Him from 
my mind ; I have shattered the faith of a wife ; and now 
I find that His arm is not shortened. — My God, my 
God, have pity on me; I am not worthy to breathe 
Thy hallowed name. — O sainted Ada, pray for your 



244 CANDLES' BEAMS 

traitorous father." And he sank upon his knees, and 
bent his head, and prayed, with the blinding tears run- 
ning" down his cheek, for forgiveness, for peace, for 
resignation. 

He was aroused by the entrance of Maggie, whose 
face was marked by an expression worse even than 
grief. 

"O, Mr. Merton," she cried, "for God's sake come 
to your wife; she laughs, and smiles, and insists on 
sending for more doctors, and says that Ada is sleeping 
too long." 

His darkest foreboding was realized. His wife, too, 
was in danger of being taken from him; but by a still 
more horrid monster than death. Entering the solemn 
apartment, he saw the mother still gazing fondly on 
the corpse, and saying ; — 

"You are sleeping too long, Ada. Ada, my child, 
my child, speak to me." 

At the noise of his footfall, she turned and fronted 
him, without, it would seem, recognizing that it was 
her husband. 

"Kind sir," she said, "if you have pity for me, go 
and get the best doctors of the city. She may still be 
cured." 

"Mary, my dear wife," answered the hapless man, 
"can you not see that our child is dead?" 

" 'Tis a lie — a black, black lie. Leave me, sir, leave 
me, and get the best physicians. — ^Ada, my child, my 
child, speak to me." 

Mr. Merton, thinking that the testimony of the best 
medical experts might gain her belief, resolved on ful- 
filling her behest. It was early dawn, when he left 
the house; and as the morning sun covered the earth 
with beauty, it shone upon a tearless mother^ still 
crying : — 

"Ada, my child, my child, speak to me." 



CHAPTER XVII 

Lay her i' the earth, 

And from her pure and unpolluted flesh 

May violets spring. — Shakespeare. 

THE physicians held their useless consultation, and 
assured Mrs. Merton that the child was dead. But 
not a tear dimmed the mother's eye. She threw her- 
self beside her child, and from time to time moaned in 
a manner that would touch the most callous heart. 
She was insensible to all about her, one person only 
excepted, and that was her husband. 

if he entered the room she would kindle with fury, 
denouncing him as the destroyer of her happiness. 

Dressed in her first communion clothes, and with a 
fresh chaplet of roses, lilies and violets about her brow, 
Ada lay in her coffin, the serene, youthful, tranquil face 
still seeming to triumph over the destroying hand of 
death. 

Beside the coffin was Sister Felicitas looking with 
tearful love upon "the angel of the convent." One by 
one, during the day, her little school-mates, robed for 
the occasion in their white communion dresses, entered 
the room to take one last, regretful look at the face of 
her whom in life they had so revered. 

The unhappy father stood without, for he feared 
to madden his wife by appearing before her. The 
previous night of suffering had marked his features 
with an unsparing hand. As each little girl stepped 
from the apartment of the dead into the hall, he would 
stay her^ and ask humbly to be remembered in her 
prayers. 

Sister F^lkitas was greatly alarmed at the condition 

245 



246 CANDLES' BEAMS 

of Mrs. Merton, who, since the preceding Sunday, had 
neither eaten anything nor taken a moment's repose. 

"My dear Madam," she whispered, when the chil- 
dren had gone, ''come, l^t me take you to your room 
for a whik. Rest for an hour or so. It will refresh 
you wonderfully ; and then, no doubt, you will be able 
to weep." 

The mother ceased moaning for the moment, and 
turning her burning eyes upon the nun, she said ; — 

"Tell me; is Ada dead?" 

"Yes, Mrs. Merton, she is." 

"Then I shall never rest again," and moaning as 
before, she again addressed herself to the dead child. 
For another hour, she was motionless, and were it not 
for her moaning one would have been unable to dis- 
cern in her any trace of life. Then raising her eyes to 
the nun, she again spoke; — 

"Is my child dead forever?" 

"No, dear madam," Sister Felicitas made answer; 
"she is in the glory of God even now, I trust, and at 
the last day, her body will again be joined fair and 
incorruptible to the pure spirit that made it be so 
beloved by us all in this poor life." 

"And do you believe in God?" 

"Assuredly, madam." 

Mrs. Merton peered around the room' with suspicious 
eyes, as if fearing that she were watched, and whis- 
pered ; — 

"Where is God?" 

"Everywhere, dear Madam. In Him we live, move 
and have our being." 

The poor lady moaned, as she again sought Ada's 
face, and muttered, "If it were only so ; but I know it 
is false." 

Saturday was the last sad day that was to see Ada's 
mortal remains upon the face of the earth, and in 



ADA MERTON 247 

the morning accompanied by friends, and all the chil- 
dren of the convent, the bereaved parents set out for 
Calvary Cemetery. Mrs. Merton still evinced a loath- 
ing for her husband, and clung to Sister Felicitas. 

It was a beautiful morning of spring; one of na- 
ture's halcyon days ; a day that would warm the blood 
of an old man till he felt young again; a day that ran 
riot in the early wealth of nature's gifts. And the 
birds sang with such a sweet sense of new life. The 
very flowers seemed alive to the smiles of the sun. 
"But all things are dark to sorrow," and the childless 
mother, heeding neither flower nor bird, nor tree, nor 
field, strained her eyes eagerly after the white-plumed 
hearse and moaned; — 

"Ada, my child, my child !" 

And now they stand around Ada's last resting place ; 
the mother leaning upon Sister Felicitas; the father 
looking prematurely old, standing opposite his wife, 
and beside the priest in attendance. While the rites of 
the dead are being performed, a little bird on a tree bC" 
side the grave is making the place vocal with his 
music. 

Already the last prayers have been recited, the coffin 
has been lowered, and the saddest sound that mortal 
ear knows, the dull thud of the dirt falling upon the 
coffin, is heard. But one handful had fallen, when 
the mother releasing herself from the hold of Sister 
Felicitas, and drawing a dagger (Mr. Merton remem- 
bered her promise now) said, in a voice unnaturally 
calm and clear ; — 

"My child shall not be taken from me so ; stop your 
work, men, for I swear that I will stab the first man 
that covers my child from me forever." 

As she stood there with her large wildly-flashing 
eyes, her form drawn up to its full height, her deter- 
mined face, and the jewelled hand clasping the dagger. 



248 CANDLES' BEAMS 

a thrill of silent horror went through the a&semblage 
Some of the little children hid their faces. A dead 
silence, broken only by the singing of that one little 
bird, came over all. John Merton was the first to 
speak. 

"Mary, my dear," he cried in imploring accents, 
"forgive me for having so long and so cruelly deceived 
you. Ada is not gone forever; but is at rest in God. 
Put away that dagger, Mary; you are unreasonably 
excited. We shall soon meet our darling" — his strong 
voice faltered as he spoke — "in a brighter world." 

"Liar, fiend!'* screamed the wife; ''you dare to talk 
of God ; you dare to speak of Ada in a brighter land ; 
you who plucked the idea of God from my soul. You 
have taken my God from me, so that I shall never find 
Him again." There was a pitiful sadness, the sadness 
of a broken heart, in these last words. 

"Yes," she continued in the midst of a painful si- 
lence, "you have taught me knowledge of good and 
evil — and may the day I first met you be accursed. 
Hypocrite, liar, may no happiness ever again find 
place in your blackened heart. — ^And you tell me there 
is a God ! Where is he ? tell me that ! O God, O God, 
if I could but find You!" 

"I tell you, Mary," answered the stricken husband, 
**I acknowledge it before the world, I have cruelly, 
bitterly deceived you. I was a madman, a fool; and 
like the fool I said in my heart there is no God. But 
never did my mind fully consent to what I taught. 
Trust me, Mary, never, never for one moment did 
I fully believe what '^ taught you to believe but too 
well." 

Mrs. Merton made him no answer; Sister Felicitas 
was whispering to her gently ; and Mr. Merton signed 
to the grave diggers, who were staring with amazement 
at the unwonted scene, to continue with their work. But 



ADA MERTON 249 

they had not fairly begun, when the mother sprang 
forward dagger in hand. With incredible quickness, 
Mr. Merton was beside her, and stayed her hand in 
the very act of striking the nearest grave-digger. 

She struggled violently Vv^ith her husband, and be- 
fore he had wrested the dagger from her grasp, she 
had inflicted upon him several slight wounds. Then, as 
if inspired by a new idea, she attempted to jump into 
the open grave. But they stayed her. 

"Let me alone," she shrieked, "I cannot find God 
here ; I will go with Ada, and perhaps in her company 
I may meet Him." 

She became more violent ; strong but kind hands 
were laid upon her, and she was held fast till the 
grave was filled. But it was evident to all that she 
was, for the time, insane — nay, a maniac. In the in- 
tervals of her mad strugglings, she would stare around 
wildly, and cry out; 

"God ! Where is He ? They have taken Him away 
from me, and I shall never find Him more !" 



CHAPTER XVIII 

The lopped tree in time may grozv again, 
Most naked plants renew both fruit and flower, 
The sorriest wight may find release from pain, 
The driest soil suck in some moistening shower. 

— Southwell. 

O there is never sorrow of heart 

That shall lack a timely end. 
If but to God we turn, and ask 

Of Him to be our friend. 

Wordsworth. 

ITTER thoughts, useless regrets, gnawing remorse 
and "dreadful fears tortured the sleepless brain of 
John Merton on the night succeeding the scene at 
Calvary Cemetery. Mary Merton had lost her reason, 
and was now under the kindly charge of Sister Felici- 
tas, who seemed to exercise a most soothing influence 
over the unhappy woman. Her last oft-repeated cry 
still rang in his ears ; — 

"Tell me, tell me, where is my God. They have 
hidden Him from me, and I shall never see Him more.'* 
And now without even the presence of his wife, the 
wretched man felt with stinging consciousness that 
he was alone in the world. But could he not turn to 
God? This was the thought he had been debating 
since Ada's death. With the dreadful effects of his 
unbelief coming home to him in the very present, his 
sins seemed to his troubled imagination too heinous 
for pardon. The enemy of God, fearing to lose his 
soul in one way, was resolved to gain it in another. 
"Yes," cried. the evil voice, "your happiness is gone; 
you would be foolish to ask God for help ; for you have 

250 



ADA MERTON 251 

treated Him too badly. Make away with yourself, and 
do not wait for more troubles." The man trembled at 
the thought; still it had a sort of fascination for him. 
The most dangerous hour in Mr. Merton's life had 
now come. But a new saint was praying for him, 
doubtless. How long his dangerous reverie would have 
continued it is impossible to say, had not Maggie en- 
tered the room. Maggie noticed his despondency im- 
mediately; and she felt that her master might now 
begin a new life, if she but conducted her part suc- 
cessfully. The kind woman's eyes were red and 
swollen with constant weeping; in her hand she held 
a book. 

"Mr. Merton, my dear master," she began with a 
countenance in which smiles and tears were holding 
a doubtful contest for supremacy; "Mr. Merton, my 
dear master, God forgive me for all the hard things, 
I have been sayin' against you, such as callin' you a 
grand Turk, the great Mogul and such like. There 
was a time when I really did be hoping that the hand 
of God would fall heavy on you — but I never thought 
that you'd be made so miserable. You've been a good 
master to me, Mr. Merton, and I would do anything 
to serve you; and you may be thinking it bold, God 
love you, but I've come to ask you to read this little 
chapter, which I have left open." And she laid the 
book on the table at his elbow. *T know how you 
feel, sir, but I know too that if you wait a little, you'll 
see your way clear — which I'd like to see anybody say 
anything against it." 

Maggie was shrewd enough to perceive that her 
visit was not wholly unwelcome, and acting on the 
principle of letting well-enough alone, curtsied out of 
the room. Merton, with no little curiosity, picked up 
the book from the table, and read. It was the chapter 
on the prodigal son ; and as his eye ran along the lines. 



252 CANDLES' BEAMS 

streams of softening grace poured into his soul. Tears 
came to his eyes at the thought of so merciful a God. 
Over and over again, he read the sublime chapter ; and 
at each reading he gained fresh courage and strength. 
At length he put the book down, resolving that he too 
would arise and go to his Father's house; and forth- 
with like a suddenly remembered dream, there came 
back to him, glowing in the rosy light of hope, the 
memories of his boyhood's faith and innocence. Bright 
visions of old faces, old friends, old scenes returned 
with the vividness of yesterday. He remembered, too, 
how previous to departing for the non-sectarian school, 
he had paid a last visit to his teacher and father- 
confessor at the St. Louis University; how the good 
father had earnestly warned him to guard his faith; 
how in shaking hands at parting, the priest had said, 
"John, my boy, the day may come when you will be 
in dee j> sorrow; sdrl-oW of a kind that no earthly con- 
solation can assuage ; but remember, as long as I live, 
you shall find a friend who will do all that can be 
done to be of service to you." 

This priest still lived; now indeed, an old man; but 
hale, active and with the same warm heart. Many 
years ago, he had called on Mr. Merton ; but the fallen 
Catholic had shown him such marked coldness as to 
imply that further intercourse would be disagreeable. 
Now, however, the humbled man was resolved to open 
himself entirely to the good father. Before Mr. Mer- 
ton had concluded his reverie, day was shining into his 
apartment. Rising to leave he called Maggie to him. 

"Maggie," he said, "you have done me a great — a 
very great service. One thing more I ask of you — that 
you pray fervently for me to obtain the grace of mak- 
ing a good confession." And as Mr. Merton turned 
from her, Maggie cried for very joy. 

Half an hour later, a haggard, care-worn man pre- 



ADA MERTON 253 

sented himself at the St. Louis University, and called 
for Father Elliott. After a short delay, there entered 
the parlor an aged but tall and stately gentleman, with 
a venerable benevolent face. He recognized Mr. Mer- 
ton, and with a smile so genial that his visitor felt in 
better cheer, he grasped his hand in both of his own. 

"Why John, John ! How delighted I am to see you, 
old fellow. I have been awaiting you for years, my 
dear boy. So you're in trouble? But come right up 
to my room, John. I know part of your story already. 
But ril warrant before you leave me, that you'll look 
much happier than you do now." 

"I am sure. Father,'* answered John, "that you will 
be able to lighten my load. Indeed, I now feel the 
same confidence in you, as when I was your little 
scholar." 

In great troubles, there is nothing that so lightens the 
heart, as to have a sympathetic friend: and as John 
Merton told his sad tale to his genial confessor, every 
word seemed to roll a burden from his bosom. Sev- 
eral hours had flown by before he had come to an end, 
and received absolution. 

"My dear sir," said the Father, "be patient for a 
week, say till next Sunday, and I am sure, by that time 
I will be able to give you a good account of your wife. 
In the meantime, don't go near her; but leave all to 
me. Soon, you will perceive in these apparent calami- 
ties the finger of our good Father, who in His mercy 
by taking your child pure and untainted from this 
world, will have led you and your wife to the true 
Church. Here now is a book, which I wish you to 
read carefully. And next Wednesday afternoon, mind, 
you are to come here and stop with us till Sunday — a, 
retreat you know, in preparation for a new life. Then 
on Sunday, you will be well prepared, please God, for 
receiving into your heart the divine Saviour who has 



254 CANDLES' BEAMS 

shown you so much mercy. Now, John, I will see to 
Mrs. Merton immediately. Good bye, my dear fellow, 
— you know where my room is now; and I expect to 
see you often." 

True to his promise. Father Elliott set out imme- 
diately for the convent. He had formed a theory to 
the effect that as Mrs. Merton's seeming insanity had 
been caused by the idea that Ada had fallen back into 
the nothingness whence she came, so she could be 
restored to reason, by being led gradually to believe in 
the immortality of the soul, the existence of God, and 
the life of the blessed. Once that she might hope to 
meet Ada again, her mind would become tranquilized. 

Admitted into her presence, he found the poor lady 
pacing restlessly up and down her narrow apartment. 

"O, sir," she cried upon seeing him, "can you tell 
me where God has hidden Himself ? I have lost Him, 
and I fear He is gone forever." 

The zealous priest answered her gently, and, by his 
kind but earnest manner, soon won her confidence. 
After a long conversation, he left her calmer, but still 
unconvinced. 

Day after day, he repeated his visits ; and insensibly 
preparing her mind, he finally brought her on to assent 
by reason to the existence of God, and then to the 
immortality of the soul. She listened intently; sud- 
denly the whole truth appeared to flash upon her ; and 
as she realized the happy change, tears, the first she 
had shed since Ada's death, flooded her eyes. From 
that hour, she quickly recovered. 

In the meantime, Mr. Merton entered upon his 
retreat with a will, and the three days spent in retire- 
ment were to him the most precious of his life. On 
Sunday morning, he received with tender love and in 
all humility our blessed Lord. Long after the Mass 
was over, he still was praying, when a light touch upon 



ADA MERTON 255 

the shoulder called him back to the world. It was 
Father Elliott, who motioned him to come outside. 
Following the priest, who was dressed in secular 
clothes, to the door, he saw a carriage with no — yes — 
it was old Bob himself for the driver. 

"Why Bob," he gasped. 

"Lor* lub you, massa." — 

*'Jump in, my dear fellow — not a word now to man, 
woman or child,'* said the father, whose smiling face 
spoke volumes. "Let the horses fly. Bob. And mind 
you, John, don't ask me a single question." 

Off rattled the coach; Father Eliott threw himself 
back in his seat and smiled at Merton, who scrupu- 
lously mindful of his companion's monition asked no 
questions, but resigned himself to the broad field of 
conjecture. In as short a time, almost, as it takes to 
narrate it, they pulled up before the convent, gained 
admittance, and seated themselves in the parlor. Mr. 
Merton was just beginning to collect his thoughts, when 
a lady entered the room, and with a cry of joy threw 
herself upon his bosom. It was his wife, needless to 
say; her face still bearing lines of sorrow, but sorrow 
that had been chastened and refined. 

"My dear, John ; thanks to God, that our eyes have 
at length been opened." 

"Thank God," echoed the husband with no less fer- 
vor. "Ada has indeed gained her prayers." 

"Yes, John, and though my heart is still mourning 
her loss; yet if I had the power to call her back now^ 
I would not do so." 

"Nor I, my dear. A few years more, and, please 
God, we shall meet her in Heaven." 

Six years have passed ; and Mr. and Mrs. Merton, 
still young, still active, are happier than ever we knew 
them to be in the past. God has blessed them witfe 



256 CANDLES' BEAMS 

another child, master Robin Merton, who, as Bob 
declares, "am a marble ob engine-annuity." Although 
a good boy, Robin is something of a contrast to Ada: 
he has a remarkable facility for creating minor dis- 
turbances, and after he has "worrited" the cook to 
death by stealing her preserves and pastries, and set 
Maggie running after him on vengeance intent for 
"mussing up everything," he makes his mamma's lap 
a harbor of refuge, and asks, 

"I say, mamma, Robin's like sisser Ada, ain't he?" 
This question being generally unequivocally negatived, 
Robin (toddles off in great disgust, to effect new con- 
quests. 

When, occasionally of a fine day, they take him out 
to Calvary Cemetery, and show him a little grave blos- 
soming with roses, lilies and violets ; and tell him what 
Ada had said of these flowers, he looks very serious, 
and says. 

"Poor sisser Ada ! Bobby's doin to be dood too ; 
so's he can do to heaven turn day, an* see his little 
sisser." 



"Pkwsed by Bbnzigbr Brothers, New York 



0<^V fto^'^ 



University Libraries of Notre Dame 




0000 029 327 277