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HANNAH" THURSION: 



STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 



BY BAYAED TAYLOE. 



NEW YOKE : 
G. P. PUTNAM, 441 BEOADWAY. 

1864. 



Univ. Library, UC Santa Cruz 1994 



Encered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1S63, 
BY G.> P. PUTNAM, 

In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for the 
Southern District of New York 



O. A. ALVORD, 8TEREOTYPE11 AND PKUJTEK. 



PS 



TO GEOUGE P. PUTNAM. 



MY DEAR FRIEND: 

WHEN I decided to write a brief letter of Dedication 
for this book, and thus evade a Preface since all that 
need be said to the reader can be said just as well, if not 
better, to the friend I began to cast about in my mind 
for the particular individual willing to stand by my side in 
this new literary venture, deserving of all the fleeting com- 
pliment which possible success may give, and too secure, 
in the shelter of his own integrity, to be damaged by 
whatever condemnation may fall upon the author. While 
various cherished names arose, one after the other, the cab 
in which I rode and meditated passed down Regent Street 
into Waterloo Place, and my eyes fell upon that door, 
where, seventeen years ago, I entered for the first time 
one dreary March afternoon entered as a timid, despond- 
ing stranger, and issued thence with the cheer and encour- 
agement which I owed to your unexpected kindness. The 



4 DEDICATION. 

conditions which I sought are all fulfilled in you. From 
that day to this, in all our intercourse, I have found in you 
the faithful friend, the man of unblemished honor and un- 
selfish ambition, to whom the author's interests were never 
secondary to his own. According to the poet Campbell, 
we should be " natural enemies," but I dedicate this book 
to you as my natural friend. 

I am aware how much is required for the construction 
of a good work of fiction how much I venture in entering 
upon a field so different from those over which I have 
hitherto been ranging. It is, however, the result of ne 
sudden whim, no ambition casually provoked. The plan 
of the following story has long been familiar to my mind. 
I perceived peculiarities of development in American life 
which have escaped the notice of novelists, yet which are 
strikingly adapted to the purposes of fiction, both in the 
originality and occasional grotesqueness of their external 
manifestation, and the deeper questions which lie beneath 
the surface. I do not, therefore, rest the interest of the 
book on its slender plot, but on the fidelity with which it 
represents certain types of character and phases of society. 
That in it which most resembles caricature is oftenest the 
transcript of actual fact, and there are none of the opinions 
uttered by the various characters which may not now and 
then be heard in almost any country community of the 



DEDICATION. 

Northern and Western States. Whether those opinions 
are to be commended or condemned, the personages of the 
story are alone responsible for them. I beg leave, once 
more, to protest against the popular superstition that an 
author must necessarily represent himself in one form or 
another. I am neither Mr. Wcrodbury, Mr. Waldo, nor 
Seth Wattles. 

This is all I have to say. The intelligent reader will 
require no further explanation, and you no further assu- 
rance of how steadily and faithfully I am your friend, 

BAYARD TAYLOR. 

WOOD'S HOTEL, LONDON, 
August, 1863. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAPTER I. PAGE 

IN WHICH WE ATTEND THE GREAT SEWING-UNION AT PTOLEMY 9 

CHAPTER II. 

MR. WOODBURY'S INTRODUCTION TO LAKESIDE 26 

CHAPTER itl. 

AN EVENING OF GOSSIP, IN WHICH WE LEARN SOMETHING ABOUT THE PER- 
SONS ALREADY MENTIONED 37 

CHAPTER IY. 

AN INTERVIEW ON THE ROAD, AND A NEW HOUSEHOLD 48 

CHAPTER V. 

IN WHICH MR. WOODBURY HEARS A WOMAN SPEAK 61 

CHAPTER VI. 
IN WHICH LAKESIDE BECOMES LIVELY 7*7 

CHAPTER VH. 
WHAT HAPPENED DURING THE EVENING 90 

CHAPTER VIII. 

IN WHICH MR. "WOODBURY PAYS AN UNEXPECTED VlSIT 105 

CHAPTER IX. 

SPIRITUAL AND OTHER RAPPINGS 113 

CHAPTER. X. 

IN WHICH WE HEAR A DIVERTING STORY 129 

CHAPTER XL 
CONTAINING Two DECLARATIONS, AND THE ANSWERS THERETO 143 

CHAPTER XII. 
MOTHER AND DAUGHTER 155 

CHAPTER XIII. 
IN WHICH SPRING OPENS 167 

CHAPTER XIV. 
CONTAINING CONVERSATIONS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THEY SEEM TO BE 177 

CHAPTER XV. 
WHICH COMES NEAR BEING TRAGIC 189 

CHAPTER XVI. 
CONCERNING AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY TO TIBERIUS 205 

CHAPTER XVII. 
WHICH SOLVES THE PRECEDING ONE _ .213 



8 CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER XVIH. PAGE 

ONE OF THE SUMMER DIVERSIONS OP PTOLEMY. 232 

CHAPTER XIX. 

IN WHICH THERE IS BOTH ATTRACTION AND REPULSION 246 

CHAPTER XX. 

IN WHICH SETH WATTLES is AGAIN DISAPPOINTED 258 

CHAPTER XXI. 

WITH AN ENTIRE CHANGE OP SCENE 269 

CHAPTER XXII. 

IN WHICH TROUBLE COMES TO LAKESIDE 281 

CHAPTER XXIII. 

WHICH CONTAINS BOTH LOVE AND DEATH 293 

CHAPTER XXIY. 
VARIOUS CHANGES, BUT LITTLE PROGRESS IN THE STORY 308 

CHAPTER XXY. 
IN WHICH HANNAH THURSTON MAKES A NEW ACQUAINTANCE 319 

CHAPTER XXYI. 
IN WHICH A WEDDING TAKES PLACE 333 

CHAPTER XXVII. 
DESCRIBING CERTAIN TROUBLES OP MR. WOODBURY 344 

CHAPTER XXVIII. 
IN WHICH HANNAH THURSTON ALSO HAS HER TROUBLES 356 

CHAPTER XXIX. 

IN WHICH A CRISIS APPROACHES 368 

CHAPTER XXX. 
MR. WOODBURY'S CONFESSION 38" 

CHAPTER XXXI. 
IN WHICH THE STRONG-MINDED WOMAN BECOMES WEAK 392 

CHAPTER XXXII. 
IN WHICH ALL RETREAT is CUT OFF 407 

CHAPTER XXXIII. 
CONCERNING MARRIAGE, DEATH, GOSSIP, AND GOING HOME 419 

CHAPTER XXXIV. 
CONCERNING THE XEW HOUSEHOLD OP LAKESIDE 430 

CHAPTER XXXV. 

IN WHICH WE ATTEND ANOTHER MEETING IN FAVOR OF "WOMEN'S 

RIGHTS" 442 

CHAPTER XXXVI. 
IN WHICH THE MAN AND WOMAN COME TO AN UNDERSTANDING 455 



HANNAH THURSTON. 



CHAPTER I. 

I1ST WHICH WE ATTEND THE GKEAT SEWING-UNION AT PTOLEMY. 

NEVER before had the little society of Ptolemy known so 
animated a season. For an inland town, the place could not at 
any time be called dull, and, indeed, impressed the stranger 
with a character of exuberant life, on being compared with 
other towns in the neighborhood. Mulligansville on the east, 
Anacreon on the north, and Atauga City on the west, all fierce 
rivals of nearly equal size, groaned over the ungodly cheerful- 
ness of its population, and held up their hands whenever its 
name was mentioned. But, at the particular time whereof we 
write November, 1852 the ordinarily mild flow of life in 
Ptolemy was unusually quickened by the formation of the great 
Sewing- Union. This was a new social phenomenon, which 
many persons looked upon as a long stride in the direction of 
the Millennium. If, however, you should desire an opposite 
view, you have but to mention the subject to any Mulligans- 
villain, any Anacreontic, or any Atauga citizen. The simple 
fact. is, that the various sewing-circles of Ptolemy three in 
number, and working for very different ends had agreed to 
hold their meetings at the same time and place, and labor in 
company. It was a social arrangement which substituted one 



1 HANNAH THUKSTON I 

large gathering, all the more lively and interesting from its 
mixed constitution, in place of three small and somewhat 
monotonous circles. The plan was a very sensible one, and it 
must be said, to the credit of Ptolemy, that there are very few 
communities of equal size in the country where it could have 
been carried into effect. 

First, the number of members being taken as the test of rela- 
tive importance, there was the Ladies' Sewing-Circle, for raising 
a fund to assist in supporting a Mission at Jutnapore. It was 
drawn mainly from the congregation of the Rev. Lemuel Styles. 
Four spinsters connected with this circle had a direct interest 
in four children of the converted Telugu parents. There was 
a little brown Eliza Clancy, an Ann Parrot t, and a Sophia 
Stevenson, in that distant, Indian sheepfold ; while the remain- 
ing spinster, Miss Ruhaney Goodwin, boasted of a (spiritual) 
son, to whom she had given the name of her deceased brother, 
Elisha. These ladies were pleasantly occupied in making 
three mousseline-de-laine frocks, an embroidered jacket, and 
four half-dozens of pocket handkerchiefs for their little Telugu 
children, and their withered bosoms were penetrated with a 
secret thrill of the lost maternal instinct, which they only 
dared to indulge in connection with such pious and charitable 
labors. 

The second Circle was composed of ladies belonging to the 
Cimmerian church, who proposed getting up a village fair, 
the profits of which should go towards the repair of the Par- 
sonage, now sadly dilapidated. Mrs. Waldo, the clergyman's 
wife, was at the head of this enterprise. Her ambition was 
limited to a new roof and some repairs in the plastering, and 
there was a good prospect that the Circle would succeed in 
raising the necessary sum. This, however, was chiefly owing 
to Mrs. Waldo's personal popularity. Ptolemy was too small 
a place, and the Cimmerians too insignificant a sect, for the 
Church, out of its own resources, to accomplish much for its 
Bhepherd. 

Lastly, there was the Sewing-Circle for the Anti-Slavery 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 11 

fair, which was limited to five or six families. For the pre- 
vious ten years, this little community, strong in the faith, had 
prepared and forwarded their annual contribution, not dis- 
couraged by the fact that the circulation of their beloved 
special organ did not increase at the Ptolemy Post-Office, nor 
that their petitions to Congress were always referred, and 
never acted upon. They had outlived the early persecution, and 
could no longer consider themsehses martyrs. The epithets 
"Infidel!" "Fanatic!" and "Amalgamationist!" had been hurled 
at them until their enemies had ceased, out of sheer weariness, 
and they were a little surprised at finding that their impor- 
tance diminished in proportion as their neighbors became 
tolerant. The most earnest and enthusiastic of the little band 
were Gulielma Thurston, a Quaker widow, and her daughter 
Hannah ; Mrs. Merryfield, the wife of a neighboring former, 
and Seth Wattles, a tailor in the village. Notwithstanding 
the smallness of this circle, its members, with one exception, 
were bright, clear-minded, cheerful women, and as the suspi- 
cions of their infidelity had gradually been allayed (mainly by 
their aptness in Biblical quotation), no serious objection was 
made to their admittance into the Union. 

The proposition to unite the Circles came originally, we 
believe, from Mrs. Waldo, whose sectarian bias always gave 
way before the social instincts of her nature. The difficulty 
of carrying it into execution was much lessened by the fact 
that all the families were already acquainted, and that, fortu- 
nately, there was no important enmity existing between any 
two of them. Besides, there is a natural instinct in women 
which leads them to sew in flocks and enliven their labor by 
the discussion of patterns, stuffs, and prices. The Union, with 
from twenty-five to forty members in attendance, was found 
to be greatly more animated and attractive than either of the 
Circles, separately, had been. Whether more work was 
accomplished, is a doubtful question ; ^ but, if not, it made 
little difference in the end. The naked Telugus would not 
suffer from a scantier supply of -clothing ; the Cimmerians 



12 HANNAH THURSTON : 

would charge outrageous prices for useless articles, in any 
case : nor would The Slavery Annihilator perish for want of 
support, if fewer pen-wipers, and book-marks, inscribed with 
appropriate texts, came from Ptolemy. 

The Sewing-Union was therefore pronounced a great social 
success, and found especial favor in the eyes of the gentlemen, 
who were allowed to attend " after tea," with the understand- 
ing that they would contribute something to either of the 
three groups, according to their inclinations. Mrs. Waldo, by 
general acquiescence, exercised a matronly supervision over 
the company, putting down any rising controversy with a 
gentle pat of her full, soft hand, and preventing, with cheerful 
tyranny, the continual tendency of the gentlemen to interrupt 
the work of the unmarried ladies. She was the oleaginous 
solvent, in which the hard yelk of the Mission Fund, the vine- 
gar of the Cimmerians, and the mustard of the Abolitioniets 
lost their repellant qualities and blended into a smooth social 
compound. She had a very sweet, mellow, rounded voice, 
and a laugh as comforting to hear as the crackling of a wood- 
fire on the open hearth. Her greatest charm, however, was 
her complete unconsciousness of her true value. The people 
of Ptolemy, equally unconscious of this subduing and harmo- 
nizing quality which she possessed, and seeing their lionesses 
and lambs sewing peaceably together, congi atulated them- 
selves on their own millennial promise. Of course everybody 
was satisfied even the clergymen in Mulligansville and 
Anacreon, who attacked the Union from their pulpits, secretly 
thankful for such a near example of falling from the stiff, 
narrow, and carefully-enclosed ways of grace. 

It was the third meeting of the Union, and nearly all the 
members were present. Their session was held at the house 
of Mr. Hamilton Bue, Agent of the " Saratoga Mutual" for 
the town of Ptolemy, and one of the Directors of the Bank at 
Tiberius, the county-seat. Mrs. Hamilton Bue was interested 
in the contribution for the mission at Jutnapore, and the Rev. 
Lemuel Styles, pastor of the principal church in the village, 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 13 

had been specially invited to come " before tea,'' for the pur- 
pose of asking a blessing on the bountiful table of the hostess. 
The parlor, large as it was (for Ptolemy), had been somewhat 
overcrowded during the afternoon ; therefore, anticipating a 
large arrival of gentlemen in the evening, Mrs. Bue had the 
tables transferred from the sitting-room to the kitchen, locked 
the hall door, and thus produced a suite of three apartments, 
counting the hall itself as one. The guests were admitted at 
the side-entrance, commonly used by the family. Two or 
three additional lamps had been borrowed, and the general 
aspect of things was so bright and cheerful that Mr. Styles 
whispered to Mrs. Hamilton Bue : " Really, I am afraid this 
looks a little like levity." 

" But it's trying to the eyes to sew with a dim light," said 
she ; " and we want to do a good deal for The Fund this even- 
ing." 

" Ah ! that, indeed !" he ejaculated, smiling blandly as he 
contemplated Miss Eliza Clancy and Miss Ann Parrott, who 
were comparing the dresses for their little brown name- 
sakes. 

" I think it looks better to be gored," said the former. 

" Well I don't know but what it does, with that figure," 
remarked Miss Parrott, " but my Ann's a slim, growing girl, 
and when you've tucks and I'm making two of 'em it 
seems better to pleat" 

" How will this do, Miss Eliza ?" asked Mrs. Waldo, coining 
up at the moment with a heavy knitted snood of crimson 
wool, which she carefully adjusted over her own abundant 
black hair. The effect was good, it cannot be denied. The 
contrast of colors was so pleasing that the pattern of the 
snood became quite a subordinate affair. 

" Upon my word, very pretty !" said the lady appealed to. 

" Pity you haven't knit it for yourself, it suits you so well," 
Miss Parrott observed. 

" I'd rather take it to stop the leak in rny best bed-room," 
Mrs. Waldo gayly rejoined, stealing a furtive glance at her 



14 HANNAH THUKSTOJSI I 

head in the mirror over the mantel-piece. " Oh, Miss Thurs- 
ton, will you let us see your album-cover ?" 

Hannah Thurston had caught sight of a quiet nook in the 
hall, behind the staircase, and was on her way to secure pos- 
session of it. She had found the warmth of the sitting-room 
intolerable, and the noise of many tongues began to be dis- 
tracting to her sensitive Quaker ear. She paused at once, and 
in answer to Mrs. Waldo's request unfolded an oblong piece 
of warm brown cloth, upon which a group of fern-leaves, 
embroidered with green silk, was growing into shape. The . 
thready stems and frail, diminishing fronds were worked 
with an exquisite truth to nature. 

" It is not much more than the outline, as yet," she re- 
marked, as she displayed the embroidery before the eager 
eyes of Mrs. Waldo and the two spinsters. 

The former, who possessed a natural though uncultivated 
sense of beauty, was greatly delighted. " Why it's perfectly 
lovely !" she exclaimed : " if I was younger, I'd get you to 
teach me how you do it. You must be sure and let me see 
the book when it's finished." 

" I don't see why my Eliza couldn't make me one of the 
flowers around Jutnapore," said Miss Clancy. " I'll mention 
it in my next letter to Miss Bocrum the missionary's wife, 
you know. It would be such a nice thing for me to remem- 
ber her by." 

Meanwhile the gentlemen began to drop in. Mr. Merryfield 
arrived, in company with the Hon. Zeno Harder, member of 
the Legislature for Atauga county. Then followed the Rev. 
Mr. Waldo, a small, brisk man, with gray eyes, a short nose, 
set out from his face at a sharper angle than is usual with 
noses, and a mouth in which the Lord had placed a set of 
teeth belonging to a man of twice his size for which reason his 
lips could not entirely close over them. His face thus received 
an expression -of perpetual hunger. The air of isolation, com- 
mon to clergymen of those small and insignificant sects which 
seem to exist by sheer force of obstinacy, was not very per- 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 15 

ceptible in him. It had been neutralized, if not suppressed, 
by the force of a strong animal temperament. On that side 
of his nature, there was no isolation. 

A number of young fellows bashful hobbledehoys, or 
over-assured men of two or three and twenty, with rigorously 
fashionable shirt-collars now made their appearance and 
distributed themselves through Mrs. Hamilton Bue's rooms. 
In the rising noise of conversation the more timid ventured to 
use their tongues, and the company soon became so animated 
that all of Mrs. Waldo's authority was necessary, to prevent 
the younger ladies from neglecting their tasks. The Cimme- 
rians, as a point of etiquette, were installed in the parlor, 
which also accommodated a number of the workers for the 
Mission Fund, the remainder being gathered in the sitting- 
room, where Mr. Styles and Mr. Waldo carried on an ex- 
ceedingly guarded and decorous conversation. Hannah Thurs- 
ton had secured her coveted nook behind the staircase in the 
hall, where she was joined by Mrs. Merryfield and Miss Sophia 
Stevenson. Mrs. Waldo, also, kept a chair at the same table, 
for the purpose of watching the expanding fern-leaves in the 
intervals of her commandership. Seth Wattles tilted his chair 
in a corner, eager for an opportunity to usurp the conver- 
sation. 

Seth was an awkward, ungainly person, whose clothes were 
a continual satire on his professional skill. The first impres- 
sion which the man made, was the want of compact form. 
His clay seemed to have been modelled by a bungling ap- 
prentice, and imperfectly baked afterwards. The face was 
long and lumpy in outline, without a proper coherence be- 
tween the features the forehead being sloping and contracted 
at the temples, the skull running backwards in a high, narrow 
ridge. Thick hair, of a faded brown color, parted a little on 
one side, was brushed behind his ears, where it hung in stiff 
half-curls upon a broad, falling shirt-collar, which revealed his 
neck down to the crest of the breast-bone. His eyes were 
opaque gray, prominent, and devoid of expression. His nose 



16 HANNAH THUKSTON: 

was long and coarsely constructed, with blunt end and thick 
nostrils, and his lips, though short, of that peculiar, shapeless for- 
mation, which prevents a clear line of division between them. 
Heavy, and of a pale purplish-red color, they seemed to run 
together at the inner edges. His hands were large and hang- 
ing, and all his joints apparently knobby and loose. His skin 
had that appearance of oily clamminess which belongs to such 
an organization. Men of this character seem to be made of 
sticks and putty. There is no nerve, no elasticity, no keen, 
alert, impressible life in any part of their bodies. 

Leaving the ladies of the Fund to hear Mrs. Boerum's last 
letter describing the condition of her school at Jutnapore, and 
the Cimmerians to consult about the arrangements for their 
Fair, we will join this group in the hall. Mrs. Waldo had 
just taken her seat for the seventh time, saying: "Well, I 
never shall get any thing done, at this rate !" when her atten- 
tion was arrested by hearing Hannah Thurston say, in answer 
to some remark of Mrs. Merryfield : 

"It is too cheerful a place, not to be the home of cheer- 
ful and agreeable people." 

" Oh, you are speaking of Lakeside, are you not ?" she 
asked. 

" Yes, they say it's sold," said Mrs. Merryfield ; " have you 
heard of it?" 

" I believe Mr. Waldo mentioned it at dinner. It's a Mr. 
Woodbury, or some such name. And rich. He was related, 
in some way, to the Dennisons. He's expected immediately. 
I'm glad of it, for I want to put him under contribution. Oh, 
how beautiful ! Did you first copy the pattern from the 
leaves, Hannah, or do you keep it in your head ?" 

" Woodbury ? Related to the Dennisons ?" mused Mrs. 
Merryfield. "Bless me! It can't be little Maxwell Max. 
we always called him, that used to be there summers well, 
nigli twenty years ago, at least. But you were not here 
then, Mrs. Waldo nor you, neither, Hannah. I heard after- 
wards that he went to Calcutty. I remember him very 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 17 

well a smart, curly-headed youngster, but knowed nothing 
about farming. Him and my poor Absalom" here she 
smothered a rising sigh " used to be a good deal with 
other." 

An unusual stir in the sitting-room interrupted the con- 
versation. 

There were exclamations noises of moving chairs indis- 
tinct phrases and presently the strong voice of the Hon. 
Zeno Harder was heard : " Very 'happy to make your ac- 
quaintance,. Sir very happy !" Mrs. Waldo slipped to the 
door and peeped in, telegraphing her observations in whis- 
pers to the little party behind the stairs. "There's Mr. 
Hammond the lawyer, you know, from Tiberius, and another 
gentleman a stranger. Tall and sunburnt, with a moustache 
but I like his looks. Ah !" Here she darted back to her 
seat. " Would you believe it ? the very man we were talk- 
ing about Mr. Woodbury !" 

In accordance with the usages of Ptolemy society, the new- 
comers were taken in charge by the host, and formally intro- 
duced to every person present. In a few minutes the round 
of the sitting-room was completed and the party entered the 
hall. Miss Thurston, looking up with a natural curiosity, en- 
countered a pair of earnest brown eyes, which happened, at 
the moment, to rest mechanically upon her. Mr. Hamilton 
Bue advanced and performed his office. The stranger bowed 
with easy self-possession and a genial air, which asserted his 
determination to enjoy the society. Mrs. Waldo, who was no 
respecter of persons in fact, she often declared that she 
would not be afraid of Daniel Webster cordially gave him 
her hand, exclaiming : " We were this minute talking of you, 
Mr. Woodbury ! And I wished you were here, that I might 
levy a contribution for our Sewing-Circle. But you're go- 
ing to be a neighbor, and so I'll ask it in earnest, next 
time." 

" Why not now ?" said the gentleman, taking out his 
purse. "First thoughts are often best, and you know the 



1 8 HANNAH THTJESTON I * 

proverb about short settlements. Pray accept this, as a token 
that you do not consider me a stranger." 

" Oh, thank you !" she cried, as she took the bank-note ; 
" but" (hesitatingly) " is this a donation to our Society, or 
must I divide it with the others ?" The peculiar tone in 
which the question was put rendered but one answer possible. 
No man could have uttered it with such artful emphasis. 

The constitution of the Sewing-Union was explained, and 
Mr. Woodbury purchased a universal popularity by equal 
contributions to the three Circles. Had he been less impul- 
sive less kindly inclined to create, at once, a warm atmos- 
phere around his future home he would not have given so 
much. The consequences of his generosity were not long in 
exhibiting themselves. Two days afterwards, the Seventh- 
Day Baptists, at Atauga City, waited on him for a subscrip- 
tion towards the building of their new church ; and even the 
ladies of Mulligansville so far conquered their antipathy to 
the Ptolemy district, as to apply for aid to the Mission at 
Pulo-Bizam, in the Ladrone Islands, which was a subject of 
their especial care. 

The introduction of a new element into a society so purely 
local as that of Ptolemy, is generally felt as a constraint. 
Where the stranger is a man of evident cultivation, whose su- 
periority, in various respects, is instinctively felt, but would be 
indignantly disclaimed if any one dared to assert it, there is, 
especially, a covert fear of his judgment. His eye and ear are 
supposed to be intensely alert and critical : conversation be- 
comes subdued and formal at his approach : the romping youths 
and maidens subside into decorous and tedious common-places, 
until the first chill of his presence is overcome. Mr. Wood 
bury had tact enough to perceive and dissipate this impression. 
His habitual manners' were slightly touched with reserve, but 
no man could unbend more easily and gracefully. To the few 
who remembered him as " Little Max." among them Mrs. 
Merryfield he manifested the cordial warmth of an old 
friend, and laughed with a delight which came from the 



A STOBY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 19 

heart, at their mention of certain boyish mishaps which mark- 
ed his summers at Lakeside. The laborers for the Mission 
Fund were rejoiced to learn that, though he had never been at 
Jutnapore, yet he had once seen Mr. Boerum, on that gentle- 
man's arrival at Calcutta. (" What a pity he did'nt go to 
Jutnapore ! He might have told me about my Eliza," re- 
marked Miss Clancy, aside.) In short, the ice between Mr. 
Woodbury and the rest of the company was broken so quickly 
that even the formation of the firs*t thin crust was scarcely 
perceived. His introduction to Ptolemy society was in the 
social technology of Boston " a success." 

Again the clacking of tongues rose high and shrill, lessen- 
ing only for a few minutes after the distribution of wedges of 
molasses-cake, offered by Mrs. Hamilton Bue's black-mitted 
hands. Mr. Hamilton Bue followed in her wake with a jing- 
ling tray, covered with glasses of lemonade, which the ladies 
sipped delicately. The four spinsters, observing that Mrs. 
Lemuel Styles drank but the half of her glass, replaced theirs 
also half-filled, though it went to their hearts to do so. The 
needles now stood at ease, no longer marching, with even 
stitch, over their parade-grounds of silk, or cotton, or mous- 
seline-de-laine. One straggler after another fell out of the 
ranks, until it was finally declared that " we have done enough 
for this evening." Then came singing, commencing with 
" From Greenland's Icy Mountains," in which half the com- 
pany joined. Miss Sophia Stevenson, who had a good voice, 
with it must be admitted an occasional tendency to sharps, 
led the hymn ; but the parts were unequally distributed, 
which Mr. Woodbury perceiving, he struck in with a rich 
baritone voice. This acquisition was immediately noticed, 
and, at the conclusion of the hymn, Mrs. Waldo requested 
that he would favor them with a solo. 

" I prefer to listen," he answered. " I know none but the 
old, old songs, which you all have heard. But you are wel- 
come to one of them, if you will first let me hear something 
newer and fresher." Unconsciously, he had hit the custom 



20 HANNAH THCTKSTON : 

of Ptolemy, never to sing until somebody else has first sung, 
to encourage you. The difficulty is, to find the encourager. 

Mrs. Waldo seized upon Seth Wattles, who, nothing loth, 
commenced in a gritty bass voice: 

" "Why-ee dooz the why-eet man follah mee pawth, 

Like the ha-ound on the ty-eeger's tra-hack ? 
Dooz the flu-hush on my da-hark cheek waken his wrawth 
Dooz he co-hovet the bow a-hat mee ba-hack ?" 

" What in the world is the song about ?" whispered Mr. 
Woodbury. 

" It's the Lament of the Indian Hunter," said Mrs. Waldo : 
" he always sings it. Now comes the chorus : it's queer : 
listen!" 

Thereupon, from the cavernous throat of the singer, issued 
a series of howls in the minor key, something in this wise : 

" YO-HO yo-ho ! Yo-HO-O yo-HO-ho-Ao-ho !" 

" After this," thought Woodbury, " they can bear to hear 
an old song, though a thousand times repeated." And being 
again pressed, he gave simply, without any attempt at brilliancy 
of execution : " The Harp of Tara." 

There was profound silence, as his voice, strung with true 
masculine fibre, rang through the rooms. Generally, the least 
intellectual persons sing with the truest and most touching ex- 
pression, because voice and intellect are rarely combined : but 
Maxwell Woodbury's fine organ had not been given to him at 
the expense of his brain. It was a lucky chance of nature. His 
hearers did not really know how admirably he interpreted that 
sigh of the Irish heart, but they were pleased, and not nig- 
gardly in their expressions of delight. 

More songs were called for, and refused. There was the 
usual coaxing, and a shocking prevalence of hoarseness, com- 
bined with sudden loss of memory. One young lady com- 
menced with "Isle" (which she pronounced eye-heel) "of 
Beauty," but broke down at the end of the first verse, and all 
the cries of: "Do go on !" "It's so pretty!" could not encour- 



A STOUT OF AMEEICAN LIFE. 21 

age her to resume. Finally some one, spying Hannah Thurston, 
who had folded up her embroidery and was sitting in a shaded 
corner, cried out : 

" Oh, Miss Thurston ! Give us that song you sang the last 
time that one about the mountains, you know." 

Miss Thurston started, as if aroused out of a profound 
revery, while a flitting blush, delicate and transient as the 
shadow of a rose tossed upon marble, visited her face. She 
had felt and followed, word by word and tone by tone, the 
glorious Irish lay. The tragic pathos of the concluding lines 

" For freedom now so seldom wakes, 

The only throb she gives 
Is when some heart indignant breaks, 
To show that still she lives!" 

thrilled and shook her with its despairing solemnity. What 
a depth of betrayed trust, of baffled aspiration, it revealed ! 
Some dormant sentiment in her own heart leapt up and an- 
swered it, with that quick inner pang, which would be a cry 
were it expressed in sound. Yet was the despair which the 
melody suggested of a diviner texture than joy. It was that 
sadness of the imaginative nature which is half triumph, be- 
cause the same illumination which reveals the hopelessness of 
its desires reveals also their beauty and their divinity. 

The request addressed to her was a shock which recalled 
her to herself. It was so warmly seconded that refusal would 
have been ungracious, and a true social instinct told her that 
her revery, though involuntary, was out of place. She prof- 
ited by the little delay which ensued in order to secure silence 
for in our country communities silence always precedes the 
song to recover her full self-possession. There was no tre- 
mor in her voice, which soared, with the words, into a still, 
clear ether, in which the pictures of the song stood out 
pure, distinct, and sublime. It was one of those lyrics ow 
Mrs. Hemans, which suggest the trumpet at woman's lips 
shorn of its rough battle-snarl, its fierce notes tenderly muf- 



22 HANNAH THURSTCXff : 

fled, but a trumpet still. She sang, with the bride of tho 
Alpine hunter : 

" Thy heart is in the upper world, 

And where the chamois bound ; 
Thy heart is where the mountain-fir 

Shakes with the torrent's sound: 
And where the snow-peaks gleam like stars 

In the stillness of the air, 
And where the lawine's voice is heard, 

Hunter, thy heart is there 1" 

It was rather musical declamation, than singing. Her voice, 
pure, sweet, and strong, distinctly indicated the melody, in- 
stead of giving it positively, beyond the possibility of a mista- 
ken semitone. It was a ringing chant of that " upper world" 
of the glaciers, where every cry or call is followed by a musi- 
cal echo, where every sound betrays the thin air and the 
boundless space. Hannah Thurston sang it with a vision of 
Alpine scenery in her brain. She saw, gleaming in the paler 
sunshine, beneath the black-blue heaven, the sharp horns of 
frosted silver, the hanging ledges of short summer grass, the 
tumbled masses of gray rock, and the dust of snow from fall- 
ing avalanches. Hence, he who had once seen these things in 
their reality, saw them again while listening to her. She knew 
not, however, her own dramatic power : it was enough that 
she gave pleasure. 

Maxwell Woodbury's eyes brightened, as the bleak and. 
lofty landscapes of the Bernese Oberland rose before him. 
Over the dark fir-woods and the blue ice-caverns of the 
Rosenlaui glacier, he saw the jagged pyramid of the Wetter- 
horn, toppling in the morning sky ; and involuntarily asked 
himself what was the magic which had started that half-for- 
gotten picture from the chambers of his memory. How 
should this pale, quiet girl who, in a musical sense, was no 
Winger, and who had assuredly never seen the Alps, have 
caught the voice which haunts thejr desolate glory? But 
these were questions which came afterwards. The concluding 



A STOET OP AMEEICAK LIFE. 23 

verse, expressing only the patience and humility of love in the 
valley, blurred the sharp crystal of the first impression and 
brought him back to the Sewing-Union without a rude shock 
of transition. He cordially thanked the singer an act rather 
unusual in Ptolemy at that time, and hence a grateful surprise 
to Hannah Thurston, to whom his words conveyed a more 
earnest meaning than was demanded by mere formal cour- 
tesy. 

By this time the assembled company had become very 
genial and unconstrained. The Rev. Lemuel Styles had entirely 
forgotten the levity of Mrs. Bue's illumination, and even in- 
dulged in good-humored badinage (of a perfectly mild and 
proper character) with Mrs. Waldo. The others were gath- 
ered into little groups, cheerfully chatting the young gentle- 
men and ladies apart from the married people. Scandal was 
sugar-coated, in order to hide its true character : love put on 
a bitter and prickly outside, to avoid the observation of oth- 
ers : all the innocent disguises of Society were in as full opera- 
tion as in the ripened atmosphere of great cities. 

The nearest approach to a discord was in a somewhat heated 
discussion on the subject of Slavery, which grew up between 
Seth Wattles and the Hon. Zeno Harder. The latter was 
vehement in his denunciation of the Abolitionists, to which 
the former replied by quoting the Declaration of Indepen- 
dence. The two voices either of them alike unpleasant to a 
sensitive ear finally became loud enough to attract the atten- 
tion of Mrs. Waldo, who had a keen scent for opportunities 
for the exercise of her authority. 

"Come, come !" she cried, placing one hand on Seth's shoul- 
der, while she threatened the Honorable Zeno with the other : 
" this is forbidden ground. The Sewing-Union would never 
hold together, if we allowed such things. Besides, what's the 
use ? You two would talk together all night, I'll warrant, and 
be no nearer agreeing in the morning." fe 

"No," cried Seth, "because your party politicians ignore 
the questions of humanity!" 



24 HANNAH THUESTON 



"And your fanatical abstractionists never look at any thing 
in a practical way!" rejoined the Honorable Zeno. 

"And both are deficient in a sense of propriety I shall 
have to say, if you don't stop," was Mrs. Waldo's ready com- 
ment. 

This little episode had attracted a few spectators, who 
were so evidently on Mrs. Waldo's side, that " the Judge," 
as the Hon. Zeno was familiarly called, at once saw the politic 
course, and rising magnificently, exclaimed : " Although we 
don't advocate Women's Rights, we yield to woman's author- 
ity." Then, bowing with corpulent condescension, he passed 
away. Seth Wattles, having no longer an opponent, was con- 
demned to silence. 

In the mean time, it had been whispered among the company 
that the next meeting of the Union would be held at the 
Merryfield farm-house, a mile and a half from Ptolemy. This 
had been arranged by the prominent ladies, after a good deal 
of consultation. Mr. Merryfield still belonged to the congre- 
gation of the Rev. Lemuel Styles, although not in very good 
repute. His form-house was large and spacious, and he was 
an excellent " provider," especially for his guests. Moreover, 
he was the only one of the small clan of Abolitionists, who 
could conveniently entertain the Union, so that in him were 
discharged all the social obligations which the remaining mem- 
bers could fairly exact. The four spinsters, indeed, had ex 
changed patient glances, as much as to say : " This is a cross 
which we must needs bear." Mr. Merryfield, be it known, 
had refused to contribute to Foreign Missions, on the ground 
that we had already too many black heathen at home. The 
younger persons, nevertheless, were very well satisfied, arid 
thus the millennial advance of Ptolemy was not interrupted. 

The more staid guests had now taken leave, and there was 

presently d, general movement of departure. The ladies put 

&\\ their bonnets and shawls in the best bedroom up-stairs, and 

the gentlemen picked out their respective hats and coats from 

the miscellaneous heap on the kitchen settee. The hall-door 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 25 

was unlocked to facilitate egress, and lively groups lingered 
on the stairs, in the doorway, and on the piazza. The gen- 
tlemen dodged about to secure their coveted privilege of 
escort : now and then a happy young pair slipped away in the 
belief that they were unnoticed : there were calls of " Do 
come and see us, now!" last eager whispers of gossip, a great 
do til of superfluous female kissing, and the final remarks to 
Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton Bue : " Goo4-bye ! we've had a nice 
time!" as the company filtered away. 

. When the last guest had disappeared, Mr. Hamilton Bue 
carefully closed and locked the doors, and then remarked to 
his wife, who was engaged in putting out the extra lamps : 
" Well, Martha, I think we've done very well, though I say it 
that shouldn't. Mr. Styles liked your tea, and the cake must 
have been pretty good, judging from the way they stowed it 
out of sight." 

"Yes," said Mrs. Bue ; "I was afraid at one time, there 
wouldn't be enough to go round. It's well I made up my 
mind, at the last minute, to bake five instead of four. Mo- 
lasses is so high." 

" Oh, what's the odds of two shillings more or less," her 
husband consolingly remarked, " when you've got to make a 
regular spread ? Besides, I guess I'll clear expenses, by per- 
suading Woodbury to insure his house in our concern. Den- 
nisons always took the Etna." 
2 



26 HANNAH THUBSTON I 



CHAPTER H. 

MR. WOODBTJRY'S INTRODUCTION TO LAKESIDE. 

ON the very day when the Sewing-Union met in Ptolemy, 
there was an unusual commotion at Lakeside. Only four or 
five days had elapsed since the secluded little household had 
been startled by the news that the old place was finally sold, 
and now a short note had arrived from Mr. Hammond, of Ti- 
berius, who was the agent for the estate, stating that the new 
owner would probably make his appearance in the course of 
the day. 

The first thing that suggested itself to the distracted mind 
of Mrs. Fortitude Babb, the housekeeper, was immediately to 
summon old Melinda, a negro woman, whose specialty was 
house-cleaning. Had there been sufficient time, Mrs. Babb 
would have scoured the entire dwelling, from garret to cellar. 
A stranger, indeed, would have remarked no appearance of 
disorder, or want of proper cleanliness, anywhere : but the 
tall housekeeper, propping her hands upon her hips, exclaimed, 
in despair : " Whatever shall I do ? There 's hardly time to 
have the rooms swep', let alone washin' the wood-work. 
Then, ag'in, I dunno which o' the two bed-rooms he'd like 
best. Why couldn't Mr. Hammond hold him back, till things 
was decent ? And the libery 's been shet up, this ever so 
long ; and there's bakin' to do squinch tarts, and sich likes 
and you must kill two chickens, Arbutus, right away !" 

" Don't be worried, Mother Forty," replied Arbutus Wil- 
son, the stout young man whom Mrs. Babb addressed, " things 
a 'n't lookin' so bad, after all. Max. well, Mr. Woodbury, I 
must say now, though it'll go rather queer, at first was al- 
ways easy satisfied, when he was here afore." 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 27 

" I reckon you think people doesn't change in twenty year. 
There's no tellin' what sort of a man he's got to be. But 
here comes Melindy. I guess I'll open the libery and let it 
air, while she fixes the bedrooms." 

Mrs. Babb's nervousness had a deeper cause than the con- 
dition of the Lakeside mansion. So many years had elapsed 
since she first came to the place as housekeeper, that it seemed 
to have become her own property .as surely as that of the 
Dennison family. The death of Mrs. Dennison, eight months 
before, recalled her to the consciousness of her uncertain ten- 
ure. Now, since the estate was finally sold and the new 
owner about to arrive, a few days, in all probability, would 
determine whether her right was to be confirmed or herself 
turned adrift upon the world. Although her recollections of 
Maxwell Woodbury, whose last visit to Lakeside occurred 
during the first year of her reign, were as kindly as was con- 
sistent with her rigid nature, she awaited his arrival with a 
mixture of jealousy and dread. True, he was somewhat 
nearer to her than those relatives of Mrs. Dennison who had 
inherited the property at her death, for the latter Mrs. Babb 
had never seen, while him she had both gently scolded and 
severely petted : but she felt that the removal of Arbutus 
Wilson and herself from the place would be a shameful piece 
of injustice, and the fact that such removal was possible indi- 
cated something wrong in the world. 

Arbutus, who was a hardy, healthy, strapping fellow, of 
eight-and-twenty, was her step-step-son, if there can be such a 
relation. His father, who died shortly after his birth, was one 
of those uneducated, ignorant men, whose ears are yet quick to 
catch and retain any word of grandiloquent sound. Nothing 
delighted him so much as to hear the Biblical genealogies 
read. He had somewhere picked up the word arlutus^ the 
sound of which so pleased him that he at once conferred it 
upon his baby, utterly unconscious of its meaning. A year or 
two after his death, the widow Wilson married Jason Babb, 
an honest, meek-natured carpenter, who proved a good father 



28 HANNAH THUESTON : 

to the little Arbutus. She, however, was carried away by a 
malignant fever, in the first year of her second marriage. The 
widower, who both mourned and missed her, cherished her 
child with a conscientious fidelity, and it was quite as much 
from a sense of duty towards the boy, as from an inclination 
of the heart, that he married Miss Fortitude Winterbottom, a 
tall, staid, self-reliant creature, verging on spinsterhood. 

The Fates, however, seemed determined to interfere with 
Jason Babb's connubial plans ; but the next time it was upon 
himself, and not upon his wife, that the lot fell. Having no 
children of his own, by either wife, he besought Fortitude, 
with his latest breath, to be both father and mother to the 
doubly-orphaned little Bute Wilson. It must be admitted 
that Mrs. Babb faithfully performed her promise. The true 
feeling of parental tenderness had never been granted to her, 
and the sense of responsibility of ownership which came in 
its stead was a very mild substitute ; but it impressed the 
boy, at least, with a consciousness of care and protection, 
which satisfied his simple nature. Mrs. Dennison, with her 
kind voice, and gentle, resigned old face, seemed much more 
the mother, while Mrs. Babb, with her peremptory ways and 
strict idea of discipline, unconsciously assumed for him the 
attitude of a father. The latter had come to Lakeside at a 
time when Mr. Dennison's confirmed feebleness required his 
wife to devote herself wholly to his care. Mrs. Babb, there 
fore, took charge of the house, and Arbutus, at first a younger 
companion of Henry Dennison, afterwards an active farm-boy, 
finally developed into an excellent farmer, and had almost the 
exclusive management of the estate for some years before Mrs. 
Dennison's death. 

Thus these two persons, with an Irish field-hand, had been 
the only occupants of Lakeside, during the summer and au- 
tumn. Arbutus, or Bute, as he was universally called in the 
neighborhood, was well-pleased with the news of Mr. Wood- 
bury's purchase. He remembered him, indistinctly, as the 
" town-boy" who gave him his first top and taught him how 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 29 

to spin it, though the big fellow couldn't tell a thrush's egg 
from a robin's, and always said " tortoise" instead of " tortle." 
Bute thought they'd get along together somehow or, if they 
didn't, he could do as well somewheres else, he reckoned. 
Nevertheless, he felt anxious that the owner should receive a 
satisfactory impression on his arrival, and busied himself, with 
Patrick's assistance, in " setting every thing to rights" about 
the barn and out-houses. 

After all, there was scarcely need of such hurried prepa- 
ration. Mr. Hammond and Woodbury, detained by some 
necessary formalities of the law, did not leave Tiberius until 
the afternoon of that day. The town being situated at the 
outlet of Atauga Lake, they took the little steamer to Atauga 
City, near its head, in preference to the long road over the 
hills. The boat, with a heavy load of freight, made slow pro- 
gress, and it was dusk before they passed the point on the 
eastern shore, beyond which Lakeside is visible from the 
water. On reaching Ptolemy by the evening stage from 
Atauga City, Maxwell Woodbury found the new " Ptolemy 
House" so bright and cheerful, that he immediately proposed 
their remaining for the night, although within four miles of 
their destination. 

" I have a fancy for approaching the old place by daylight," 
said he to his companion. " Here begins my familiar ground, 
and I should be sorry to lose the smallest test of memory. 
Besides, I am not sure what kind of quarters I should be able 
to offer you, on such short notice." 

" Let us stay, then, by all means," said the lawyer. " I can 
appreciate feelings, although I am occupied entirely with 
deeds" Here he quietly chuckled, and was answered by a 
roar from the landlord, who came up in time to hear the 
remark. 

"Ha! ha! Good, Mr. Hammond!" exclaimed the latter. 
"Very happy to entertain you, gentlemen. Mr. Woodbury 
can have the Bridal Chamber, if he likes. But you should go 
to the Great Sewing-Union, gentlemen. You will find all 



30 HANNAH THURSTON: 

Ptolemy there to-night. It's at Hamilton Bue's : you know 
him, Mr. Hammond Director of the Bank." 

The results of this advice have already been described. 
After breakfast, on the following morning, the two gentlemen 
set out for Lakeside in a light open carnage. It was one of 
the last days of the Indian summer, soft and hazy, with a fore- 
boding of winter in the air. The hills, enclosing the head of 
the lake, and stretching away southwards, on opposite sides 
of the two valleys, which unite just behind Ptolemy, loomed 
through their blue veil with almost the majesty of mountain 
ranges. The green of the pine-forests on their crests, and of 
those ragged lines of the original woods which marked the 
courses of the descending ravines, was dimmed and robbed of its 
gloom. The meadows extending towards the lake were still 
fresh, and the great elms by the creek-side had not yet shed 
all of their tawny leaves. A moist, fragrant odor of decay per- 
vaded the atmosphere, and the soft southwestern wind, occasion- 
ally stealing down the further valley, seemed to blow the som- 
bre colors of the landscape into dying flickers of brightness. 

As they crossed the stream to the eastward of the village, 
and drove along the base of the hills beyond, Woodbury ex- 
clnimed : 

" You cannot possibly understand, Mr. Hammond, how 
refreshing to me are these signs of the coming winter, after 
nearly fifteen years of unbroken summer. I shall enjoy the 
change doubly here, among the scenes of the only country-life 
which I ever knew in America, where I was really happiest, 
as a boy. I suppose," he added, laughing, "now that the 
business is over, I may confess to you how much I congratu- 
late myself on having made the purchase." 

" As if I did not notice how anxious you were to buy !" re- 
joined the lawyer. " You must be strongly attached to the 
old place, to take it on the strength of former associations. I 
wish it were nearer Tiberius, that we might have more of your 
society. Did you pass much of your youth here?" 

" Only my summers, from the age of twelve to fifteen. My 



A STOET OF AMERICAN LIFE. 81 

constitution was rather delicate when I was young, and Mrs. 
Dennisou, who was a distant relative of my father, and some- 
times visited us in "New York, persuaded him to let me try 
the air of Lakeside. Henry was about my own age, and we 
soon became great friends. The place was- a second home to 
me, thenceforth, until my father's death. Even after I went 
to Calcutta, I continued to correspond with Henry, but my 
last letter from Lakeside was written'by his mother, after his 
body was brought home from Mexico." 

"Yes," said Mr. Hammond, "the old lady fairly broke 
down after that. Henry was a fine fellow and a promising 
officer, and I believe she would "have borne his loss better, had 
he fallen in battle. But he lingered a long time in the hospi- 
tal, and she was just beginning to hope for his recovery, when 
the news of his death came instead. But see ! there is Roar- 
ing Brook. Do you hear the noise of the fall ? How loud it 
is this morning !" 

The hill, curving rapidly to the eastward, rose abruptly from 
the meadows in a succession of shelving terraces, the lowest of 
which was faced with a wall of dark rock, in horizontal strata, 
but almost concealed from view by the tall forest trees which 
grew at its base. The stream, issuing from a glen which de- 
scended from the lofty upland region to the eastward of the 
lake, poured itself headlong from the brink of the rocky steep, 
a glittering silver thread in summer, a tawny banner of 
angry sound in the autumn rains. Seen through the hazy air, 
its narrow white column seemed to stand motionless between 
the pines, and its mellowed thunder to roll from some region 
beyond the hills. 

Woodbury, who had been looking steadily across the mead- 
ows to the north, cried out : " It is the same it has not yet 
run itself dry ! Now we shall see Lakeside ; but no yet I 
certainly used to see the house from this point. Ah ! twenty 
years ! I had forgotten that trees cannot stand still ; that 
ash, or whatever it is, has quite filled up the gap. I am afraid 
I shall find greater changes than this." 



32 HANNAH THURSTON: 

His eyes mechanically fell, as the wheels rumbled suddenly 
on the plank bridge over Roaring Brook. Mr. Hammond looked 
up, gave the horse a skilful dash of the whip and shot past 
the trees which lined the stream. " Look and see !" he pres- 
ently said. 

The old place, so familiar to Woodbury, and now his own 
property, lay before him. There was the heavy white house, 
with its broad verandah, looking southward from the last low 
shelf of the hills, which rose behind it on their westward 
sweep back to the lake. The high-road to Anacreon and 
thence to Tiberius, up the eastern shore, turned to the right 
and ascended to the upland, through a long winding glen. 
A small grove of evergreens still further protected the house 
on its northwestern side, so that its position was unusually 
sunny and sheltered. The head of the lake, the meadows 
around Ptolemy and the branching valleys beyond, were all 
visible from the southern windows ; and though the hills to 
the east somewhat obscured the sunrise, the evenings wore a 
double splendor in the lake and in the sky. 

"Poor Henry!" whispered Wpodbury to himself, as Mr. 
Hammond alighted to open the gate into the private lane. 
The house had again disappeared from view, behind the rise 
of the broad knoll upon which it stood, and their approach 
was not visible until they had reached the upper level, with 
its stately avenue of sugar-maples, extending to the garden 
wall. 

The place was really unchanged, to all appearance. Per- 
haps the clumps of lilac and snowball, along the northern 
wall were somewhat higher, and the apple-trees in the orchard 
behind the house more gnarled and mossy ; but the house it- 
self, the turfed space before it, the flagged walk leading to the 
door, the pyramids of yew and juniper, were the same as 
ever, and the old oaks at each corner seemed, twig for twig, 
to have stood still for twenty years. A few bunches of chrys- 
anthemum, somewhat nipped by the frost, gave their sober 
autumnal coloring and wholesome bitter-sweet odor to the 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 33 

garden-alleys. The late purple asters were shrivelled and 
drooping, and the hollyhocks stood like desolate floral towers, 
tottering over the summer's ruin. 

For the first time in twenty years, Woodbury felt the al- 
most forgotten sensation of home steal through his heart. 
Quickly and silently he recognized each familiar object, and 
the far-off days of the past swept into the nearness of yester- 
day. His ear took no note of Mr. Hammond's rattling re- 
marks: the latter was not precisely the man whose atmosphere 
lures forth the hidden fragrance of one's nature. 

As they drove along the garden-wall, a strong figure ap- 
peared, approaching with eager strides. He glanced first at 
the horse and carriage. "Fairlamb's Kvery the bay," was 
his mental remark. The next moment he stood at the gate, 
waiting for them to alight. 

"How do you do, Mr. Hammond?" he cried. "You're 
late a-comin' : we expected ye las' night. And is this really 
Mr. Maxwell, I mean Mr. Woodbury well, I'd never ha 
knowed him. I s'pose you don't know me, nuther, Mr. 
Max.?" 

" God bless me ! it must be little Bute !" exclaimed Wood- 
bury, taking the honest fellow's hand. " Yes, I see it now 
man instead of boy, but the same fellow still." 

"Yes, indeed, that I be!" asserted the delighted Arbu- 
tus. He meant much more than the words indicated. 
Fully expressed, his thoughts would have run something in 
this wise : " I guess we can git on together, as well as 
when we was boys. If you ha'n't changed > I ha'n't. I'll 
do my dooty towards ye, and you won't be disapp'inted in 
me." 

In the mean time, Mrs. Fortitude Babb had made her ap- 
pearance, clad in the black bombazine which she had pur- 
chased for Jason's funeral, and was waiting, tall and rigid, but 
with considerable internal " flusteration " (as she would have 
expressed it), on the verandah. One mental eye was directed 
towards the new owner, and the other to the fowls in the 



34 HANNAH THT7KSTON. / 

kitchen, which she had cut up the evening before, for a fric- 
assee, and which were thus rendered unfit for roasting. "Why, 
he's a perfick stranger !" " If there's only time to make a pie 
of 'em !" were the two thoughts which crossed each other in 
her brain. 

"Mrs. Babb! there's no mistaking who you are!" exclaimed 
Woodbury, as he hastened with outstretched hand up the 
nagged walk. 

The old housekeeper gave him her long, bony hand in 
return, and made an attempt at a courtesy, a thing which 
she had not done for so long that one of her knee-joints 
cracked with the effort. " Welcome, Sir !" said she, with be- 
coming gravity. Woodbury thought she did not recognize 
him. 

" Why, don't you remember Max. ?" he asked. 

" Yes, I recollex you as you was. And now I come to 
look, your eyes is jist the same. Dear, dear!" and in spite 
of herself two large tears slowly took their way down her 
lank cheeks. " If Miss Dennison and Henry could be here !" 
Then she wiped her eyes with her hand, rather than spoil the 
corner of her black silk apron. Stiffening her features the 
next moment, she turned away, exclaiming in a voice un- 
necessarily sharp : " Arbutus, why don't you put away the 
horse ?" 

The gentlemen entered the house. The hall-door had evi- 
dently not been recently used, for the lock grated with a 
sound of rust. The sitting-room on the left and the library 
beyond, were full of hazy sunshine and cheerful with the 
crackling of fires on the open hearth. Dust was nowhere to 
be seen, but the chairs stood as fixedly in their formal places as 
if screwed to the floor, and the old books seemed to be glued 
together in regular piles. None of the slight tokens of habit- 
ual occupation caught the eye no pleasant irregularity of do- 
mestic life, a newspaper tossed here, a glove there, a chair 
placed obliquely to a favorite window, or a work-stand or 
foot-stool drawn from its place. Mrs. Babb, it is true, with a 



A STOUT OF AMERICAN LIFE. 35 

desperate attempt at ornament, had gathered the most pre- 
sentable of the chrysanthemums, with some sprigs of arbor- 
vita3, and stuck them into an old glass flower-jar. Their 
pungent odor helped to conceal the faint musty smell which 
still lingered in the unused rooms. 

"I think we will sit here, Mrs. Babb," said Woodbury, 
leading the way into the library. " It was always my favorite 
room," he added, turning to the lawyer, " and it has the finest 
view of the lake." 

" I'm afeard that's all you'll have," the housekeeper grimly 
remarked. " Things is terrible upside-down : you come so 
onexpected. An empty house makes more bother than a full 
one. But you're here now, an' you'll have to take it sich as 
it is." 

Therewith she retired to the kitchen, where Bute soon 
joined her. 

"Well, Mother Forty," he asked, "how do ypu like his 
looks? He's no -more changed than I am, only on th' out- 
side. I don't s'pose he knows more than ever about farmin', 
but he's only got to let me alone and things '11 go right." 

" Looks is nothin'," the housekeeper answered. " Hand- 
some is that handsome does, I say. Don't whistle till you're 
out o' the woods, Bute. Not but what I'd ruther have him 
here than some o' them people down to Po'keepsy, that never 
took no notice o' her while she lived." 

"There's no mistake, then, about his havin' bought the 
farm?" 

" I guess not, but I'll soon see." 

She presently appeared in the library, with a pitcher of 
cider and two glasses on a tray, and a plate of her best "jum- 
bles." " There's a few bottles o' Madary in the cellar," she 
said ; " but you know I can't take nothin' without your leave, 
Mr. Hammond leastways, onless it's all fixed." 

Woodbury, however, quietly answered: "Thank you, we 
will leave the wine until dinner. You can give us a meal, I 
presume, Mrs. Babb ?" 



36 HANNAH THUESTON. 

" 'T wo'nt be what I'd like. I'd reckoned on a supper las' 
night, instid of a dinner to-day. Expect it '11 be pretty much 
pot-luck. However, I'll do what I can." 

Mrs. Babb then returned to the kitchen, satisfied, at least, 
that Mr. Maxwell Woodbury was now really the master of 
Lakeside 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 37 



CHAPTER III. 

AN EVENING OF GOSSIP, IN WHICH WE LEARN SOMETHING 
ABOUT THE PERSONS ALREADY MENTIONED. 

AFTER a long absence in India, Woodbury had come home 
to find all his former associations broken, even the familiar 
landmarks of his boyish life destroyed. His only near relative 
was an older sister, married some years before his departure, 
and now a stately matron, who was just beginning to enjoy a 
new importance in society from the beauty of her daughters. 
There was a small corner in her heart, it is true, for the exiled 
brother. The floor was swept, there; the room aired, and 
sufficient fire kept burning on the hearth, to take off the chill : 
but it was the chamber of an occasional guest rather than of 
an habitual inmate. She was glad to see him back again, es- 
pecially as his manners were thoroughly refined and his wealth 
was supposed to be large (indeed, common report greatly 
magnified it) : she would have lamented his death, and have 
worn becoming mourning for him would even have per- 
suaded her husband to assist him, had he returned penni- 
less. In short, Woodbury could not complain of his recep- 
tion, and the absence of a more intimate relation of a sweet, 
sympathetic bond, springing from kinship of heart as well as 
of blood, was all the more lightly felt because such bond had 
never previously existed. 

In the dreams of home which haunted him in lonely hours, 
on the banks of the Hoogly or the breezy heights of Darjeel- 
ing, Lakeside always first arose, and repeated itself most fre- 
quently and distinctly. " Aunt Dennison," as he was accus- 
tomed to call her, took the place, in his affectionate memory, 



38 * HANXAH THUKSTON. 

of the lost mother whose features he could trace but dimly 
far back in the faint consciousness of childhood. There 
seemed to be no other spot in the world to which he had a 
natural right to return. The friends whom he had left, in 
New York, as a young man of twenty-one, had become rest- 
less, impetuous men of business, from whose natures every 
element of calm had been shaken, while he had slowly and 
comfortably matured his manhood in the immemorial repose 
of Asia. The atmosphere of the city at first excited, then 
wearied him. The wish to visit Lakeside was increasing in 
his mind, when he was one day startled by seeing the prop- 
erty advertised for sale, and instantly, determined to become 
the purchaser. A correspondence with Mr. Hammond en- 
sued, and, as there was another competitor in the field, Wood- 
bury's anxiety to secure the old place led him to close the 
negotiations before he had found time to see it again. Now, 
however, he had made arrangements to spend the greater part 
of the winter there, as much on account of the certain repose 
and seclusion which he craved, as from the physical necessity 
of that tonic which the dry cold of the inland offered to his 
languid tropical blood. 

No disposal had yet been made of the stock and implements 
belonging to the farm, which had not been included in the 
purchase of the estate. Woodbury's object in buying the 
land had no reference to any definite plan of his future life. 
He had come back from India with a fortune which, though 
moderate, absolved him from the necessity of labor. He sim- 
ply wished to have a home of his own an ark of refuge to 
which he could at any time return a sheltered spot where 
some portion of his life might strike root. His knowledge of 
farming was next to nothing. Yet the fields could not be al- 
lowed to relapse into wilderness, the house must have a house- 
keeper, and the necessity of continuing the present occupants 
in their respective functions was too apparent to be discussed. 
For the present, at least, Mrs. Babb and Arbutus were indis- 
pensable adherents of the property. 



A STOEY OF AMERICAN LIFE. $9 

After dinner, Mr. Hammond paid them what was due from 
the estate. Bute turned the money over uneasily in his hand, 
grew red in the face, and avoided meeting the eye of the new 
owner. Mrs. Babb straightened her long spine, took out u 
buckskin purse, and, having put the money therein, began 
rubbing the steel clasp with the corner of her apron. Wood- 
bury, then, with a few friendly words, expressed his pleasure 
at having found them in charge of Lakeside, and his desire 
that each should continue to serve him in the same capacity as 
before. 

Mrs. Babb did not betray, by the twitch of a muscle, the 
relief she felt. On the contrary, she took credit to herself for 
accepting her good fortune. " There's them that would like 
to have me," said she. "Mrs. Dennison never bavin' said 
nothin' ag'in my housekeeping but the reverse ; and I a'n't 
bound to stay, for want of a good home ; but somebody must 
keep house for ye, and I'd hate to see things goin' to wrack, 
after keerin' for 'em, a matter o' twenty year. Well I'll 
stay, I guess, and do my best, as I've always done it." 

" JEt tu, Bute ?" said Mr. Hammond, whose small puns 
had gained him a reputation for wit, in Tiberius. 

Bute understood the meaning, not the words. "I'm glad 
Mr. Max. wants me," he answered, eagerly. " I'd hate to leave 
the old place, though I'm able to get my livin' most anywheres. 
But it'd be like leavin' home and jist now, with that two- 
year old colt to break, and a couple o' steers that I'm goin' to 
yoke in the spring it wouldn't seem natural, like. Mr. Max. 
and me was boys together here, and I guess we can hitch 
teams without kickin' over the traces." 

After arranging for an inventory and appraisal of the live 
stock, farming implements, and the greater part of the furni- 
ture, which Woodbury decided to retain, Mr. Hammond took 
his departure. Mrs. Babb prepared her tea at the usual early 
hour. After some little hesitation, she took her seat at the 
table, but evaded participation in the meal. Mr. Woodbury 
sat much longer than she was accustomed to see, in the people 



40 HANNAH THTJKSTON I 

of Ptolemy : he sipped his tea slowly, and actually accepted a 
fourth cup. Mrs. Babb's gratification reached its height when 
he began to praise her preserved quinces, but on his unthink- 
ingly declaring them to be " better than ginger," her grimness 
returned. 

" Better than ginger ! I should think so !" was her mental 
exclamation. 

Throwing himself into the old leather arm-chair before the 
library fire, "Woodbury enjoyed the perfect stillness of the No- 
vember evening. The wind had fallen, and the light of a half- 
moon lay upon the landscape. The vague illumination, the 
shadowy outlines of the distant hills, and that sense of isola- 
tion from the world which now returned upon him, gratefully 
brought back the half-obliterated moods of his Indian life. He 
almost expected to hear the soft whish of the punka above his 
head, and to find, suddenly, the " hookah-burdar" at his 
elbow. A cheerful hickory-fed flame replaced the one, and a 
ripe Havana cigar the other; but his repose was not des- 
tined to be left undisturbed. " The world" is not so easy to 
escape. Even there, in Ptolemy, it existed, and two of its 
special agents (self-created) already knocked at the door of 
Lakeside. 

The housekeeper ushered Mr. Hamilton Bue and the Hon. 
Zeno Harder into the library. The latter, as Member of the 
Legislature, considered that this call was due, as, in some sort, 
an official welcome to his district. Besides, his next aim was 
the State Senate, and the favor of a new resident, whose 
wealth would give him influence, could not be secured too 
soon. Mr. Bue, as the host of the previous evening, enjoyed 
an advantage over the agent of the " Etna," which he was not 
slow to use. His politeness was composed of equal parts of 
curiosity and the " Saratoga Mutual." 

" We thought, Sir," said the Hon, Zeno, entering, u that 
your first evening nere might be a little lonesome, and you'd 
be glad to have company for an hour or so." 

The Member was a coarse, obese man, with heavy chaps, 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 41 

thick, flat lips, small eyes, bald crown, and a voice which had 
been made harsh and aggressive in its tone by much vigorous 
oratory in the open air. The lines of his figure were rounded, 
it is true, but it was the lumpy roundness of a potato rather 
than the swelling, opulent curves of well-padded muscle 
Mr. Hamilton Bue, in contrast to him, seemed to be made of 
angles. His face and hands had that lean dryness which sug- 
gests a body similarly constructed, ad makes us thankful for 
the invention of clothing. He was a prim, precise business 
man, as the long thin nose and narrow lips indicated, with a 
trace of weakness in the retreating chin. Neither of these 
gentlemen possessed a particle of that grapy bloom of ripe 
manhood, which tells of generous blood in either cell of the 
double heart. In one the juice was dried up ; in the other it 
had become thick and slightly rancid. 

They were not the visitors whom Woodbury would have 
chosen, but the ostensible purpose of their call demanded 
acknowledgment. He therefore gave them a cordial welcome, 
and drew additional chairs in front of the fire. The Hon. 
Zeno, taking a cigar, elevated his feet upon the lower mould- 
ing of the wooden mantel-piece, spat in the fire, and re- 
marked : 

" You find Ptolemy changed, I dare say. Let me see 
when were you here last ? In '32 ? I must have been study- 
ing law in Tiberius at that time. Oh, it's scarcely the same 
place. So many went West after the smash in '37, and new 
people have come in new people and new idees, I may 
say." 

" We have certainly shared in the general progression of 
the country, even during my residence here," said Mr. Ham- 
ilton Bue, carefully assuming his official style. "Ten years 
ago, there were but thirty-seven names on the books of the 
Saratoga Mutual. Now we count a hundred and thirteen. 
But there is a reason for it : the Company pays its loss punc- 
tually most punctually." 

Unconscious of this dexterous advertising, Woodbury 



42 HANNAH .THURSTON: 

answered the Hon. Zeno : " Since I am to be, for a while, a 
member of your community, I am interested in learning some- 
thing more about it. What are the new ideas you mentioned, 
Mr. Harder?" 

" Well, Sir, I can't exactly say that Hunkerism is a new 
thing in politics. I'm a Barnburner, you must know, and 
since the split it seems like new parties, though we hold on to 
the old principles. Then there's the Temperance Reform 
swep' every thing before it, at first, but slacking off just now. 
The Abolitionists, it's hardly worth while to count there's so 
few of them but they make a mighty noise. Go for Non- 
Resistance, Women's Rights, and all other Isms. So, you see, 
compared to the old times, when 'twas only Whig and Demo- 
crat, the deestrict is pretty well stirred up." 

Mr. Bue, uncertain as to the views of his host upon some of 
the subjects mentioned, and keeping a sharp eye to his own 
interests, here remarked in a mild, placable tone : " I don't 
know that it does any harm. People must have their own 
opinions, and there's no law to hinder it. In fact, frequent 
discussion is a means of intellectual improvement." 

" But what's the use of discussing what's contrary to Scrip- 
tur' and Reason?" cried the Hon. Zeno, in his out-door voice. 
" Our party is for Free Soil, and you can't go further under 
the Constitution, so, what's the use in talking? Non- 
Resistance might be Christian enough, if all men was saints ; 
but we've got to take things as we find 'em. When you're 
hit, hit back, if you want to do any good in these times. As 
for Women's Rights, it's the biggest humbug of all. A 
pretty mess we should be in, if it could be carried out ! Think 
of my wife taking the stump against Mrs. Blackford, and me 
and him doing the washing and cooking !" 

" Who was the Abolitionist for such I took him to be 
with whom you were talking, last evening, at Mr. Bue's ?" 
Woodbury asked. 

" Wattles a tailor in Ptolemy one of the worst fanatics 
among 'em!" the irate Zeno replied. "Believes in, all the 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 43 

Isms, and thinks himself a great Reformer. It's disgusting to 
hear a man talk about Women's Rights, as he does, I don't 
mind it so much in Hannah Thurston ; but the fact is, she's 
more of a man than the most of 'em." 

" Hannah Thurston ! Is not that the lady who sang a 
pale, earnest-looking girl, in a gray dress ?" 

"Idid'nt notice her dress," the Member answered. "She 
sings, though not much voice, but what she has tells amaz- 
ingly. Between ourselves, I'll admit that she's a first-rate 
speaker that is, for a woman. I was tempted to have a 
round with her, at the last meeting they held ; but then, you 
know, a woman always has you at a disadvantage. You 
daren't give it back to them as sharp as you get it." 

u Do you really mean that she makes public harangues ?" 
exclaimed Woodbury, who, in his long absence from home, 
had lost sight of many new developments in American 
society. 

" Yes, and not bad ones, either, when you consider the sub- 
ject. Her mother used to preach in Quaker Meetings, so it 
doesn't seem quite so strange as it might. Besides, she isn't 
married, and one can make some allowance. But when Sarah 
Merryfield gets up and talks of the tyranny of man, it's a 
little too much for me. I'd like to know, now, exactly what 
her meek lout of a husband thinks about it." 

" Is 'Mrs. Waldo, also, an advocate of the new doctrine?" 

" She ? No indeed. She has her rights already : that is, 
ail that a woman properly knows how to use. Though I don't 
like the Cimmerian doctrine Mr. Waldo is pastor of the 
Cimmerians yet I think she's a much better Christian than 
the Merry-fields, who still hang on to our Church." 

" What are the Cimmerians ?" inquired Woodbury. " Are 
they so called from the darkness of their doctrines ?" 

The Hon. Zeno did not understand the classical allusion. 
" They're followers of the Rev. Beza Cimmer," he said. "He 
was first a Seceder, I believe, but differed with them on the 
doctrine of Grace. Besides, they think that Baptism, to be 



44 HANNAH THURS:rt>N: 

saving, must be in exact imitation of that of the Saviour. 
The preacher wears a hair garment, like John the Baptist, 
when he performs the ceremony, and the converts long, white 
robes. They pick out some creek for their Jordan, and do 
not allow outsiders to be present. They don't grow in num- 
bers, and have but a very small congregation in Ptolemy. In 
fact, Mr. Waldo is considered rather shaky by some of the 
older members, who were converted by Cimmer himself. He 
don't hold very close communion." 

A part of this explanation was incomprehensible to Wood- 
bury, who was not yet familiar with the catch-words which 
fall so glibly from the mouths of country theologians. He 
detected the Member's disposition to harangue instead of 
converse a tendency which could only be prevented by a 
frequent and dexterous change of subject. "Your church," 
he said : " I take it for granted you refer to that of Mr. 
Styles, seems to be in a flourishing condition." 

" Yes," replied Mr. Hamilton Bue, " we have prospered 
under his ministry. Some have backslidden, it is true, but we 
have had encouraging seasons of revival. Our ladies are now 
very earnest in the work of assisting the Jutnapore Mission. 
Mrs. Boerum is from Syracuse, and a particular friend of Miss 
Eliza Clancy. I think Miss Eliza herself would have gone 
if she had been called in time. You know it requires a 
double call." 

"A double call! Excuse me if I do not quite understand 
you," said the host. 

u Why, of course, they must first be called to the work" 
and then, as they can't go alone among the heathen, they 
must afterwards depend on a personal call from some un- 
married missionary. Now Miss Clancy is rather too old 
for that." 

Woodbury could not repress a smile at this na'ive statement, 
although it was made with entire gravity. " I have seen some- 
thing of your missions in India," he at last remarked, " and 
believe that they are capable of accomplishing much good. 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 45 

Still, you must not expect immediate returns. It is only the 
lowest caste that is now reached, and the Christianizing of 
India must come, eventually, from the highest." 

Rather than discuss a subject of which he was ignorant, the 
Hon. Zeno started a new topic. " By the way, the next meet- 
ing of the Sewing Union will be at Merryfield's. Shall you 
attend, Mr. Woodbury ?" 

" Yes. They are among the few persons who have kept me 
in good remembrance, though they, too, from what you have 
said, must be greatly changed since I used to play with their 
son Absalom. I am very sorry to hear of his death." 

" It is a pity," replied the Member, biting off the end of a 
fresh cigar.' " Absalom was really a fine, promising fellow, 
but they spoiled him with their Isms. They were Grahamites 
for a year or two lived on bran bread and turnips, boiled 
wheat and dried apples. Absalom took up that and the 
water-cure, and wanted to become a patent first-class reformer. 
Now, Temperance is a good thing though I can't quite go 
the Maine Law but w T ater inside of you and outside of you, 
summer- and winter alike, isn't temperance, according to my 
idee. He had a spell of pleurisy, one winter, and doctored 
himself for it. His lungs were broken up, after that, and he 
went off the very next fall. They set a great deal of store 
by him." 

" Is it possible that such delusions are held by intelligent 
persons ?" exclaimed Woodbury, shocked as well as sur- 
prised. " I hope these theories are not included in the gene- 
ral progress of which Mr. Bue spoke. But I have almost for- 
gotten my duty as a host. The nights are getting cold, gen- 
tlemen, and perhaps you will take a glass of wine."- 

The Hon. Zeno's small eyes twinkled, and his lips twitched 
liquorously. " Well I don't care if I do," said he. 

Mr. Hamilton Bue was silent, and slightly embarrassed. He 
had found it necessary to join the Temperance Society, be- 
cause the reform was a popular one. He always went with 
the current as soon as it became too strong to stem con- 



46 HANNAH THUKSTON: 

veniently. But the temptation to indulge still lurked in his 
thin blood. It was evident that the Member, for his own 
sake, would not mention the circumstance, and Mr. Wood- 
bury, in all probability, would never think of it again. 

Some of Mrs. Babb's "Madary" presently twinkled like 
smoky topaz in the light of the wood-fire. Mr. Bue at first 
sipped hesitatingly, like a bather dipping his toes, with a 
shudder, into the waters of a cold river ; but having once 
reached the bottom of the glass so quickly, indeed, that it 
excited his own surprise he made the next plunge with the 
boldness of a man accustomed to it. 

" You will attend church, I presume, Mr. Woodbury ?" 
said he. " Of course you have convictions/ 1 " 

" Certainly," Woodbury answered, without a clear idea of 
what was meant by the word "very strong ones." 

" Of course it could not be otherwise. I shall be very 
glad if you will now and then accept a seat in my pew. Mr. 
Styles is a great authority on Galatians, and I am sure you 
will derive spiritual refreshment from his sermons." 

Here the Hon. Zeno rose and commenced buttoning his 
coat, as a signal of departure. Growing confidential from his 
inner warmth, he placed one hand affectionately on Wood- 
bury's shoulder, somewhat to the latter" s disgust, and said: 
" Now you are one of us, Woodbury, you must take an active 
part in our political concerns. Great principles are at stake, 
Sir, and the country has need of men like you. Let me warn 
you against the Hunkers their game is nearly played out. 
I'll be most happy, Sir, to explain to you the condition of 
parties. Youll find me well posted up." 

Mr. Bue took occasion to make a parting hint in the interest 
of the Saratoga Mutual. " If you wish to have your house in- 
sured, Mr. Woodbury," said he, " I shall be glad to send you 
our pamphlets. The Company is so well known, fortunately, 
that its name is a sufficient recommendation." 

The owner of Lakeside stood on the verandah, watching 
his guests drive down the maple avenue. As the sound of 



A STOBY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 4? 

their wheels sank below the brow of 'the hill, the muffled 
voice of Roaring Brook came softly to him, across the dark 
meadows. A part of Atauga Lake threw back the light of 
the descending moon. " Here," thought he, " is the com- 
mencement of a new existence. It is not the old, boyish life 
of which I dreamed, but something very different. I foresee 
that I shall have to accustom myself to many features of this 
society, which are not attractive some of them even repug- 
nant and perhaps the only counterbalancing delight left to 
me will be the enjoyment of this lovely scenery, the peace of 
this secluded life. Will that be sufficient ? Or will these 
oaks and pines at last pall upon my eye, like the palms and 
banyans of the East ? No : one cannot be satisfied with ex- 
ternal resources. I must study, with a liberal human interest, 
the characteristics of this little community, however strange 
or repellant they may seem ; and certainly, after making 
friends among the fossilized Brahmins, there must be a few 
among my fellow-Christians and fellow-countrymen, whom I 
can heartily respect and love. Those long Indian years must 
be placed in a closed Past, and I must adapt myself to habits 
and associations, which have become more foreign than 
familiar to me." 



HANNAH THUESTON; 



CHAPTER IV. 

AN INTERVIEW ON THE ROAD, AND A NEW HOUSEHOLD. 

THE Indian Summer still held its ground, keeping back the 
winter's vanguard of frost and keen nor'westers. Day by 
day the smoky air became more densely blue and still, and 
the leaves, long since dead, hung upon the trees for want of a 
loosening wind. The hickory-nuts fell by their own weight, 
pattering here and there in the woods, in single smart raps, 
find giving out a vigorous balsamic odor, as their cleft rinds 
burst open. Only at night a gathering chill and a low moan- 
ing in the air gave the presage of an approaching change in 
the season. 

On one of those warm forenoons which almost reproduce 
the languor and physical yearning of the opening Spring, 
Bute Wilson, mounted on Dick, the old farm-horse, jogged 
slowly along the road to Ptolemy, whistling "The Rose that 
All are Praising," a melody which he had learned at the 
singing-school. Bute was bound for the village, on a variety 
of errands, and carried a basket on his arm. Dick's delibe- 
rate gait seemed to be in harmony with the current of his 
thoughts. The horse understood his rider, and knew very 
well when to take his ease, and when to summon up the little 
life left in his stiff old legs. Horses are better interpreters of 
one's moods than the most of one's human friends. 

Bute was a very good specimen of the American country- 
man. A little over the average height, and compacted of 
coarse, hardy fibre, he possessed, in spite of the common 
stock from which he had sprung, the air of independent self- 
respect which a laboring man can only acquire in a commu- 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 49 

nity where caste is practically ignored. His independence, 
however, had not degenerated into impudence : he knew his 
deficiencies of nature and education, and did not attempt to 
off-set them by a vulgar assertion of equality. He could sit 
at Mr. Woodbury's table (using the knife a little too freely) 
without embarrassment, and could take his dinner in the 
kitchen without being conscious of degradation. His horses, 
cattle, and crops occupied the first 'place in his mind him- 
self no, another person had the second place and his own 
personality gave him the least trouble. He was a general 
favorite in the neighborhood, and his position was, perhaps, 
more fortunate than he knew, though the knowledge of it 
would not have made him happier than he was. He was hon- 
estly respected by those below, and not looked down upon by 
those above him. This consideration was won by his thorough 
frankness, simplicity, and kindness of heart. His face was too 
broad and his nose too thick, to be called handsome ; but 
there were fewer eyes into which men looked with more satis- 
faction than the pair of large blue-gray ones, divided by the 
nose aforesaid. His forehead was rather low, but open and 
smooth, and his yellow hair, curling a little at the ends, grew 
back from the temples with a sturdy set, as if determined that 
they should not be hidden. Add to these traits a voice mel- 
low in spite of its volume the cattle understood its every in- 
flection and it is easy to perceive that Bute was in especial 
favor with the opposite sex. From head to foot, Nature had 
written upon him : This man is a male. 

Bute had climbed the rise beyond Roaring Brook, when his 
reveries, whatever they might have been, were interrupted by 
the sight of a woman, walking towards Ptolemy, a short dis- 
tance in advance of him. Although no other person was near, 
to play the spy, he felt the blood creeping up to his ears, as 
he looked keenly and questioning! y at the little figure, in its 
dark-blue merino dress, tripping forward with short, quick 
steps. Dick noticed the change in his master, and broke into 
a trot down the gentle slope. At the sound of hoofs, the figure 
3 



50 HANNAH THUESTON : 

turned, disclosing a bunch of brown ringlets and a saucy little 
nose, then drew to one side of the road and stopped. 

" Good-morning, Miss Carrie !" cried Bute, as he drew rein, 
on approaching : " I thought it was you. Goin' to Ptolemy ? 
So am I. Git up on the bank, and I'll take ye on behind me. 
Dick'll carry double he's as quiet as a lamb. Here, I'll jerk 
off my coat for you to set on." And he had his right arm out 
of the sleeve before he had finished speaking. 

"Ah!" cried the lady, affecting a mild stream; "No, in- 
deed, Mr. Wilson ! I am so afraid of horses. Besides, I don't 
think it would look right." 

It suddenly occurred to Bute's mind, that, in order to ride 
as he had proposed, she would be obliged to clasp him with 
both arms. Heaving a sigh of regret, he drew on his coat and 
jumped off the horse. 

"Well, if you won't ride with me, I'll walk with you, any 
how. How's your health, Miss Carrie ?" offering his hand. 

" Very well, I thank you, Mr. Wilson. How's Mrs. Babb ? 
And I hear that Mr. Woodbury has come to live with you." 

Miss Caroline Dil worth was too well satisfied at meeting with 
Bute, to decline his proffered company. She was on her way 
from the house of a neighboring farmer, where she had been 
spending a fortnight as seamstress, to the cottage of the widow 
Thnrston, who lived on the edge of the village. The old 
lady's health was declining, and Miss Dil worth occasionally 
rendered a friendly assistance to the daughter. They were 
both always glad to see the lively, chattering creature, in spite 
of her manifold weaknesses and affectations. She was twenty- 
five years of age, at least, but assumed all the timidity and in- 
experience of a girl of sixteen, always wearing her hair in a 
mesh of natural ringlets which hung about her neck, and talk- 
ing with a soft childish drawl, unless which rarely happen- 
ed she was so very much in earnest as to forget herself. Her 
nose was piquantly retrousse, her mouth small and cherry-red, 
and her complexion fair (for she took great care of it) ; but 
her eyes inclined to pale-green rather than blue, and she had 



A STOltr OF AMERICAN UEE. 61 

an affected habit of dropping the lids. Perhaps this was to 
conceal the unpleasant redness of their edges, for they were 
oftentimes so inflamed as to oblige her to suspend her occupa- 
tion. Her ambition was, to become a teacher a post for 
which she was not at all qualified. Hannah Thurston, how- 
ever, had kindly offered to assist her in preparing herself for 
the coveted career. 

What it was that attracted Bute Wilson to Miss Dil worth, 
he was unable to tell. Had the case been reversed, we should 
not wonder at it. Only this much was certain ; her society 
was a torment to him, her absence a pain. He would have cut 
off his little finger for the privilege of just once lifting her in 
his strong arms, and planting a kiss square upon the provok- 
ing mouth, which, as if conscious of its surplus of sweetness, 
could say so many bitter things to him. Bute had never 
spoken to her of the feeling which she inspired in him. Why 
should he? She knew just how he felt, and he knew that she 
knew it. She played with him as he had many a time played 
with a big trout at the end of his line. Over and over again 
he had been on the point of giving her up, out of sheer worri- 
ment and exhaustion of soul, when a sudden look from those 
downcast eyes, a soft word, half whispered in a voice whose 
deliberate sweetness tingled through him, from heart to finger- 
ends, bound him faster than ever. Miss Dilworth little sus- 
pected Low many rocks she had sledged to pieces, how many 
extra swaths she had mowed in June, and shocks of corn she 
had husked in October, through Bute Wilson's arm. If Mr. 
Woodbury were a cunning employer, he would take measures 
to prolong this condition of suspense. 

On the present occasion, the affected little minx was un- 
usually gracious towards her victim. She had a keen curiosity 
to gratify. " Now, Bute," said she, as they started together 
towards Ptolemy, Bute leading Dick by the bridle ; " I want 
you to tell me all about this Mr. Woodbury. W'hat kind of a 
man is he ?" 

" He's only been with us three or four days. To be sure, I 



52 HANNAH TllURSTON : 

knowed him as a boy, but that's long ago, and I may have to 
learn him over ag'in. It won't be a hard thing to do, though : 
he's a gentleman, if there ever was one. He's a man that'll 
always do what's right, if he knows how." 

"I mean, Bute, how he looks. Tall or short? Is he hand- 
some ? Isn't he burnt very black, or is it worn off?" 

"Not so many questions at once, Miss Carrie. He a'n't 
blacker 'n I'd be now, if I was complected like him. Tall, you 
might call him nigh two inches more'n I am, and a reg'lar 
pictur' of a man, though a bit thinner than he'd ought to be. 
But I dunno whether you'd call him handsome : women has 
sich queer notions. Now, there's that Seth Wattles, that you 
think sich a beauty " 

" Bute Wilson ! You know I don't think any such thing ! 
It's Seth's mind that I admire. There's such a thing as moral 
and intellectual beauty, but that you don't understand." 

" No, hang it ! nor don't want to, if Ae's got it ! I believe 
in a man's doin' what he purtends to do keepin' his mind on 
his work, whatever it is. If Seth Wattles lays out to be a 
tailor, let him be one : if he wants to be a moral and intel- 
lectual beauty, he may try that, for all I keer but he can't do 
both to once't. I wish he'd make better trowsus, or give up 
his business." 

Miss Dilworth knew her own weakness, and carefully avoid- 
ed entering into a discussion. She was vexed that one of the 
phrases she had caught from Hannah Thurston, and which she 
had frequently used with much effect, had rattled harmlessly 
against the hard mail of Bute's common sense. At another 
time she would have taken or have seemed to take offence, 
at his rough speech ; but she had not yet heard enough of Mr. 
Woodbury. 

"Well, never mind Seth," she said, " you've not finished tell- 
ing me about your new master" 

If she had intended to prick Bute with this word, she utterly 
failed. He quietly resumed the description : " Every man 
that I like is handsome to me ; but I think any woman would 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 53 

admire to see Mr, Max. He's got big brown eyes, like them 
o' the doe Master Harry used to have, and a straight nose, like 
one o' the plaster heads in the libery. He wears a beard on 
his upper lip, but no whiskers, and his hair is brown, and sort 
o' cuiiin'. He's a man that knows what he's about, and can 
make up his mind in five minutes, and looks you straight in 
the face when he talks ; and if he'd a hard thing to say (though 
he's said nothin' o' the kind to me), h'e'd say it without flinchin', 
a little worse to your face than what he'd say behind y'r back. 
But what I like best in him, is, that he knows how to mind his 
own business, without botherin' himself about other folks's. 
You wouldn't ketch him, a pitchin' into me because I chaw 
tobacco, like Seth Wattles did, with all his moral and intellec- 
tual beauty." 

" Oh, but, Bute, you know it's so unhealthy. I do wish 
you'd give it up." 

" Unhealthy ! Stuff and nonsense look at me !" And, in- 
deed Bute, stopping, straightening himself, throwing out his 
breast, and striking it with a hard fist until it rang like a muf- 
fled drum, presented a picture of lusty, virile strength, which 
few men in the neighborhood of Ptolemy could have matched. 
" Unhealthy !" he continued ; " I s'pose you'd call Seth 
healthy, with his tallow f&ce, and breast-bone caved in. Why, 
the woman that marries him can use his ribs for a wash-board, 
when she's lost her'n. Then there was Absalom Merryfield, 
you know, killed himself out and out, he was so keerful o' his 
health. I'd ruther have no health at all, a darned sight, than 
worry my life out, thinkin' on it. Not that I could'nt give 
up chawin' tobacco, or any thing else, if there was a good 
reason for it. What is it to you, Carrie, whether I chaw or 
not ?" 

Miss Dilworth very well understood Bute's meaning, but 
let it go without notice, as he knew she would. The truth is, 
she was not insensible to his many good qualities, but she was 
ambitious of higher game. She had not attended all the meet- 
ings held in Ptolemy, in favor of Temperance, Anti-Slavery 



54 HANNAH THURSTON : 

and "Women's Rights, without imbibing as much conceit as 
the basis of her small mind could support. The expressions 
which, from frequent repetition, she had caught and retained, 
were put to such constant use, that she at last fancied them 
half original, and sighed for a more important sphere than 
that of a sempstress, or even a teacher. She knew she could 
never become a speaker she was sure of that but might she 
not be selected by some orator of Reform, as a kindred soul, 
to support him with her sympathy and appreciation ? Thus 
far, however, her drooping lids had been lifted and her curls 
elaborately tangled, in vain. The eloquent disciples, not 
understanding these mute appeals, passed by on the other side. 

She drew the conversation back to Mr. Woodbury, and 
kept it to that theme until she had ascertained all that Bute 
knew, or was willing to tell ; for the latter had such a strong 
sense of propriety about matters of this kind, as might have 
inspired doubts of his being a native-born American. By this 
time they had reached the bridge over East Atauga Creek, 
whence it was but a short distance to the village. 

" There is Friend Thurston's cottage, at last," said Miss 
Dilworth. " Have you seen Miss Hannah lately ? But, of 
course, she can't visit Lakeside now." 

" I'm sorry for it," Bute remarked. " She's a fine woman, 
in spite of her notions. But why can't she ?" 

" It would not be proper." 

" Wouldn't it be proper for a man to visit us ?" 

" To be sure. How queer you talk, Bute !" 

" Well she says a \voman should be allowed to do what- 
ever a man does. If Women's Rights is worth talkin' about, 
it's worth carryin' out. But I guess Miss Hannah's more of a 
woman than she knows on. I like to hear her talk, mighty 
well, and she says a good many things that I can't answer, 
but they're ag'in nature, for all that. If she was married and 
had a family growin' up 'round her, she wouldn't want to be a 
lawyer or a preacher. Here we are, at the gate. Good-by, 
Miss Carrie !" 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 55 

" Good-by, Bute !" said Miss Dilworth, mechanically, 
pausing at the gate to see him spring into the saddle and trot 
rapidly down the street. She was confounded, and a little 
angry, at the nonchalance with which he treated her oracle. 
" I wish it had been Hannah Thurston, instead of me," she 
said to herself, with a spiteful toss of her head " she has 
an answer ready for everybody." 

The plot of ground in front of -the cottage already wore 
its winter livery. The roses were converted into little obe- 
lisks of straw, the flower-beds were warmly covered, and only 
the clumps of arbor-vitas and the solitary balsam-fir were al- 
lowed to display their hardy green. Miss Dilworth passed 
around the house to the kitchen entrance, for she knew the 
fondness of the inmates for warmth and sunshine, and the 
sitting-room which they habitually occupied looked south- 
ward, over the vegetable garden, to the meadows of the east- 
ern valley. Every thing was scrupulously neat and ordered. 
The tops of vegetables left for seed and the dead stalks of 
summer flowers had been carefully removed from the garden. 
The walks had been swept by a broom, and the wood-shed, 
elsewhere more or less chaotic in its appearance, was here 
visited by the same implement. Its scattered chips seemed 
to have arranged themselves into harmonious forms, like the 
atoms of sand under the influence of musical tones. 

In the kitchen a girl of thirteen the only servant the 
house afforded was watching the kettles and pans on the 
cooking-stove. This operation might have been carried on in 
the parlor just as well, so little appearance was there of the 
usual " slops" and litter of a kitchen. This was Friend 
Thurston's specialty as a housekeeper her maxim was, that 
there should be no part of a house where a visitor might not 
be received. Her neighbors always spoke of her kitchen with 
an admiration wherein there was a slight mixture of despair. 

The sitting-room, beyond, was made cheerful by windows 
opening to the south and east ; but more so by the homely 
simplicity and comfort of its arrangement. Every object 



56 HANNAH THTJKSTON I 

spoke of limited means, but nothing of pinched self-denial. 
The motley-colored rag carpet was clean, thick, and warm ; 
the chintz sofa was relieved by inviting cushions ; the old- 
fashioned rocking-chair was so stuffed and padded as to remedy 
its stiffness; the windows were curtained, and a few brands were 
smouldering among white ashes in the grate. A shelf inside 
the southern window held some tea-roses in pots, mignionette, 
heliotrope, and scarlet verbenas. There were but three pictures 
a head of Milton, an old wood-engraving of the cottage where 
George Fox was born, and a tolerable copy of the Madonna 
della Seggiola. On a stand in the corner were the favorite 
volumes of the old lady, very plainly bound, as was meet, in 
calf of a drab color Job Scott's Works, Woolman's Journal, 
and William Penn's " No Cross, No Crown." A swinging 
book-shelf, suspended on the wall, contained a different collec- 
tion, which evidently belonged to the daughter. Several 
volumes of Carlyle, Margaret Fuller, Shelley, Bettina von 
Arnim, De StaeTs " Corinne," the " Record of Woman," 
Milton, George Sands' " Consuelo," Mrs. Child's "Letters 
from New York," Hugh Miller, and bound numbers of the 
" Liberty Bell," were among them. Had a certain drawer 
been opened, one would have found files of The /Slavery An- 
nihilator, Mrs. Swisshelm's Saturday Visitor, and the weekly 
edition of the New-York Tribune. A rude vase of birch 
bark, on a bracket, was filled with a mass of flowering grasses, 
exquisitely arranged with regard to their forms and colors, 
from pale green and golden-gray to the loveliest browns and 
purples. This object was a work of art, in its way, and shed 
a gleam of beauty over the plainness of the apartment. 

Friend Gulielma Thurston, leaning back in the rocking-chair, 
had suffered her hands, with the knitting they held, to sink 
into her lap, and looked out upon the hazy valley. Her thin 
face, framed in the close Quaker cap, which barely allowed her 
gray hair to appear at the temples, wore a sweet, placid ex- 
pression, though the sunken eyes and set lips told of physical 
suffering. The spotless book-muslin handkerchief, many-folded, 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 57 

covered her neck and breast, and a worsted apron was tied 
over her drab gown, rather from habit than use. As she bask- 
ed in the balmy warmth of the day, her wasted fingers uncon- 
sciously clasped themselves in a manner that expressed patience 
and trust. These were the prominent qualities of her nature 
the secret of her cheerfulness and the source of her courage. 

Late married, she had.lost her first child, and shortly after 
the birth of her daughter Hannah, h'er husband also. The lat- 
ter was a stern, silent man, rigid in creed and in discipline, but 
with a concealed capacity for passion which she had not under- 
stood while she possessed him. Her mind first matured in 
the sorrow of his loss, and she became, from that natural 
need which is content with no narrower comfort, a speaker in 
the meetings of her sect. The property she inherited at her 
husband's death was very small, and she was obliged to labor 
beyond her strength, until the bequest of an unmarried brother 
relieved her from pressing want. Hannah, to whom she had 
managed to give a tolerably thorough education, obtained a 
situation as teacher, for which she proved so competent that 
a liberal offer from the Trustees of the Young Ladies' Semi- 
nary at Ptolemy induced both mother and daughter to remove 
thither. Her earnings, added to the carpfully husbanded pro- 
perty, finally became sufficient to insure them a modest sup- 
port, so that, when her mother's failing health obliged Hannah 
to give up her place, there was no serious anxiety for the 
future to interfere with her filial duty. 

The daughter was seated at the eastern window, beside a 
small table, which was covered with gorgeously tinted autumn 
leaves. She was occupied in arranging them in wreaths and 
groups, on sheets of card-board, which were designed to form 
an album, and to wear, as binding, the embroidery of fern- 
leaves, upon which we first found her engaged. Such an 
album, contributed by her to the Anti-Slavery Fair, the previ 
ous year, had enriched the treasury of the Society by the sum 
of ten dollars, and the managers had begged a second donation 
of the same kind. 
3* 



58 HANNAH THUESTON I 

Catching a glimpse of Miss Dilworth through the window, 
she rose to receive her. In stature, she was somewhat above 
the average height of women, though not noticeably tall, and 
a little too slender for beauty. Her hands were thin, but 
finely formed, and she carried them as if they were, a conscious 
portion of herself, not an awkward attachment. Her face 
would have been a perfect oval, except that the forehead, in- 
stead of being low and softly rounded, was rather squarely 
developed in the reflective region, and the cheeks, though not 
thin, lacked the proper fulness of outline. Her hair was of a rich, 
dark-brown, black in shadow, and the delicate arches of the 
eye-brows were drawn with a clear, even pencil, above the 
earnest gray eyes, dark and deep under the shadow of their 
long lashes. The nose was faultless, and the lips, although no 
longer wearing their maidenly ripeness and bloom, were so 
pure in outline, so sweetly firm in their closing junction, so 
lovely in their varying play of expression, that the life of her 
face seemed to dwell in them alone. Her smile had a rare 
benignity and beauty. The paleness of her face, being, to 
some extent, a feature of her physical temperament, did not 
convey the impression of impaired health : a ruddy tint would 
not have harmonized with the spiritual and sensitive character 
of her countenance. ISTo one would have dreamed of calling 
Hannah Thurston a beauty. In society nine men would have 
passed her without a thought ; but the tenth would have stood 
still, and said : " Here is a woman ' to sit at a king's right 
hand, in thunder-storms,' " and would have carried her face in 
his memory forever. 

The severest test of a woman is to play an exceptional part 
in the world. Her respect, her dignity, her virtue itself, be- 
come doubtful, if not mythical, in the eyes of men. In the 
small circle of Ptolemy, Hannah Thurston had subjected her- 
self to this test, and it was no slight triumph for her, had she 
known it, that, while her views were received with either hor- 
ror or contempt, while the names of her fellow priestesses or 
prophetesses were bandied about in utter disrespect, she was 



A STORY OF AMEKICAJST LIFE. 59 

f 

never personally ridiculed. No tongue dared to whisper an 
insinuation against either her sincerity or her purity. This, 
however, was partly owing to the circumstances of her life in 
the place. She had first achieved popularity as a teacher, and 
honor as a daughter. Among other things, it was generally re- 
ported and believed that she had declined an offer of marriage, 
advantageous in a worldly point of view, and the act was set 
down to her credit as wholly one o duty towards her mother. 

In her plain brown dress, with linen collar and cuffs, the 
only ornament being a knot of blue ribbon at the throat, she 
also, appeared to be a Quakeress ; yet, she had long since per- 
ceived that the external forms of the sect had become obsolete, 
and no longer considered herself bound by them. Some con- 
cession in dress, however, was still due for her mother's sake, 
beyond whose rapidly shortening span of life she could see no 
aim in her own, unless it were devoted to righting the wrongs 
of her sex. She had had her girlish dreams ; but the next 
birthday was her thirtieth, and she had already crossed, in re- 
solve, that deep gulf in a woman's life. 

Miss Caroline Dil worth, in her blue dress, came as if dipped 
in the Indian Summer, with a beryl gleam in her eyes, as she 
darted into the sitting-room. She caught Hannah Thurston 
around the waist, and kissed her twice : she was never known 
to greet her female friends with less. Then, leaning gently 
over the rocking-chair, she took the old woman's hand. 

" Take off thy bonnet, child," said the latter, " and push 
thy hair back, so that I can see thy face. I'm glad thee's 
come." 

" Oh, Friend Thurston, I was so afraid I couldn't get away 
from Parkman's. It's a lonely place, you know, over the. hill, 
and she's hard of hearing. Ah ! I'm out of breath, yet" and 
therewith heaving a sigh of relief, the little creature threw off 
her shawl and untied the strings of her bonnet. N 

Their life had so much in it that was grave and earnest 
their conversation naturally turning to the past rather than 
the future that the Thurstons always felt themselves cheered 



60 HANNAH THURSTON I 

by Miss Dilworth's visits. She dropped her affectations in 
their presence, and became, for the time, a light-hearted, ami- 
able, silly woman. She never arrived without a fresh budget 
of gossip, generally of slight importance, but made piquant by 
her rattling way of telling it. 

" How thee does run on !" Friend Thurston would some- 
times say, whereupon the sempstress would only toss her curls 
and run on all the more inveterately. 

" Oh, I must tell you all about Lakeside and the new owner !" 
she exclaimed, as she settled herself into a chair. 

Hannah Thurston could probably have told her more about 
Mr. Woodbury than she already knew ; but it would have 
been unkind to cut short the eager narrative, and so Bute's re- 
port, with many additions and variations, was served out to 
them in chapters, during the afternoon. 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 61 



CHAPTER V. 

IN WHICH MB. WOODBURY HEARS A WOMAN SPEAK. 

IN his intercourse with the society of his new home, Wood- 
bury found fewer distasteful circumstances to be overlooked, 
than he had at first feared. The novelty of the experience 
had its charm, and, as his mind recovered something of that 
active interest in men which he had almost unlearned, he was 
surprised to find how vital and absorbing his relations with 
them became. From the very earnestness of his views, how- 
ever, he was reticent in the expression of them, and could with 
difficulty accustom himself to the discussion, in mixed society, of 
subjects which are usually only broached in the confidential inti- 
macy of friends. Not merely " Fate, free-will, foreknowledge 
absolute," but the privacy of individual faiths, doubts, and as- 
pirations, became themes of discussion ; even the shrinking 
sanctity of love was invaded, and the ability to converse 
fluently was taken by the community of Ptolemy as a sign of 
capacity to feel deeply on these subjects. 

At the dinners and evening parties of the English, an intel- 
lectual as well as a social propriety is strictly observed, and the 
man who makes a habit of producing for general inspection, 
his religious convictions or his moral experiences, is speedily 
voted a bore. Maxwell Woodbury, whose long residence in 
Calcutta had fixed his habits, in this respect, was at first more 
amused than shocked, at the abandon with which spiritual 
intimacies were exchanged, in the society of Ptolemy. He soon 
learned, however, that much of this talk was merely a superfi- 
cial sentimentalism, and that the true sanctities of the speakers' 



62 HANNAH THUESTON : 

hearts were violated more in appearance than in fact. Never- 
theless, he felt no inclination to take part in conversation of 
this^ character, and fell into the habit of assuming a mystical, 
paradoxical tone, whenever he was forcibly drawn into the 
discussion. Sometimes, indeed, he was tempted to take the 
opposite side of the views advocated, simply in order to extort 
more reckless and vehement utterances from their defenders. 
It is not surprising, therefore, that his lack of earnestness, as 
it seemed to the others was attributed by many to a stolid 
indifference to humanity. Seth Wattles even went so far as 
to say : " I should not wonder if he had made his money in 
the accursed opium traffic." 

The two topics which, for him, possessed an intrinsically re- 
pellant character, happened to be those which were at that 
time most actively discussed: Spiritualism and Women's 
Rights. He had seen the slight-of-hand of the Indian jugglers, 
far more wonderful than any feats supernaturally performed 
in the presence of mediums, and the professed communications 
from the world of spirits struck him as being more inane 
twaddle than that which fell from the lips of the living be- 
lievers. He had not lived thirty-six years without as much 
knowledge of woman as a single man may prafitably acquire ; 
and the better he knew the sex, the more tender and profound 
became his regard. To him, in his strength, however, the re- 
lation of protector was indispensable ; the rudest blows of life 
must first fall upon his shield. The idea of an independent 
strength, existing side by side with his, yet without requiring 
its support, was unnatural and repulsive. Aunt Dennison, in 
her noble self-abnegation as wife and mother, was more queenly 
in his eyes, than Mary Wollstonecraft or. Madame de Stae'l. 
It was difficult for him to believe how any truly refined and 
feminine woman could claim for her sex a share in the special 
occupations of man. 

There is always a perverse fate which attracts one into the 
very situations he wishes to avoid. On the evening when the 
Sewing-Union met at Merryfield's, Woodbury happened to be 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 63 

drawn into a group which contained Mrs. Waldo, Hannah 
Thurston, and the host. The latter was speaking of a plan 
for a Female Medical College. 

"It is the first step," said he, "and its success will over- 
throw the dynasty of ideas, under which woman has been 
crushed, as it Avere." The phrase : " dynasty of ideas," he 
had borrowed from a recent lecturer. 

" Well", said Mrs. Waldo, musingly, " if it went no further 
I should not have much to say against it, for we know that 
women are the best nurses, and they may make tolerable doc- 
tors. But I should prefer that somebody else than myself 
made the beginning." 

" You are right," remarked Woodbury ; " it is not pleasant 
to think of a woman standing at a dissecting-table, with a 
scalpel in her hand, and a quarter of a subject before her." 

Hannah Thurston shuddered inwardly, but at once took up 
the gauntlet. " Why not ?" she asked. " Are not women 
capable of this, and more than this, for the sake of knowledge 
that will enable them to do good ? Or is it because their 
minds are too weak to grapple with the mysteries of science?" 

Woodbury, to avoid a discussion to which he was so 
strongly averse, assumed a gay, bantering tone. "In the 
presence of ladies," he said, smiling, and partly directing his 
words to Mrs. Waldo, " there is only one way of answering 
the latter question." 

Hannah Thurston was of too earnest a nature to endure 
trifling for such seemed his reply. Her gray eyes kindled 
with an emotion a very little milder than contempt. " So !" 
she exclaimed, " we must still endure the degradation of 
hollow compliment. We are still children, and our noise can 
be quieted with sugar-plums !" 

" I beg your pardon, Miss Thurston !" Woodbury gravely 
answered. " My apparent disrespect was but a shift to avoid 
discussing a subject which I have never seriously considered, 
and which, I will only say, seems, to me a matter of instinct 
rather than of argument. Besides," he added, " I believe 



64 HANNAH THUESTON: 

Mrs. Waldo, as our dictatress, prohibits debate on these 
occasions." 

The lady referred to immediately came to his assistance. 
" I do prohibit it ;" said she, with a magisterial wave of the 
hand ; " and you cannot object to my authority, Hannah, 
since you have a chance to defend our sex, and cover with 
confusion all such incorrigible bachelors as Mr. Woodbury, on 
Thursday next. I'm sure he's a misanthrope, or mis what- 
ever you call it." 

" A misogynist ?" Woodbury gayly suggested. " No, no, 
Mrs. Waldo. Do not you, as a clergyman's wife, know that 
there may be a devotional feeling so profound as to find the 
pale of any one sect too narrow ?" 

Hannah Thurston looked earnestly at the speaker. What 
did he mean ? was that also jest ? she asked herself. She 
was unaccustomed to such mental self-possession. Most of 
the men she knew would have answered her with spirit, con 
sidering that to decline a challenge thrown down by a woman 
was equivalent to acknowledging the intellectual equality of 
the sexes this being the assertion which they most strenu- 
ously resisted. Mr. Woodbury, however, had withdrawn as 
a matter of taste and courtesy. She had given him the 
opportunity of doing so, a little to her own discomfiture, and 
was conscious that her self-esteem was wounded by the result. 
She could not quite forgive him for this, though his manner, 
she felt, compelled respect. At the risk of having her silence 
misinterpreted, she made no reply. 

Woodbury, who had not understood Mrs. Waldo's allusion, 
took an opportunity, later in the evening, to ask for an ex- 
planation. 

" I thought you had heard," said she. " There is to be a 
meeting in favor of Women's Rights, on Thursday afternoon, 
at the Hall, in Ptolemy. Mr. Bemis, the great advocate of 
the reform, is to be there, and I believe they expect Bessie 
Stryker." 

" Who is Bess'e Strvker ?" 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 65 

" Mr. Woodbury ! It's well you did not ask Hannah Thurs- 
ton that question. You've been out of the country I had 
forgotten that ; but I should think you must have heard of 
her in Calcutta. She has travelled all over the country, 
lecturing on the subject, and has made such a name as a 
speaker that everybody goes to hear her. She is quite pretty, 
and wears the new Bloomer dress." 

" Really, you excite my curiosity. I must attend this 
meeting, if only to show Miss Thurston that I am above the 
vulgar prejudice which I presume she imputes to ine." 

" Oh, no, Mr. Woodbury. Hannah Thurston is not unjust, 
whatever faults she may have. But you should know that she 
has a dislike morbid, it seems to me of the compliments 
which you men generally pay to us women. For my part, I 
see no harm in them." 

" Both of you, at least, are candid," replied Woodbury, 
laughing, " and that trait, with me, covers a multitude of 
weaknesses." 

Woodbury went to the meeting on the following Thursday, 
much as he would have attended a Brahminical festival in 
honor of the Goddess Unna-Purna. He felt no particular 
interest in the subject to be treated, except a curiosity to know 
how it could be rendered plausible to a semi-intelligent 
auditory. Of Ptolemy, privately and socially, he had seen 
something, but he had not yet mingled with Ptolemy in 
public. 

"The Hall," as it was called (being the only one in the 
place), was a brick building, situated on the principal street. 
Its true name was Tumblety Hall, from the builder and owner, 
Mr. Jabez Tumblety, who had generously bestowed his name 
upon it in consideration of receiving ten per cent, on his in- 
vestment, from the lease of it to phrenologists, the dancing 
schgol, Ethiopian Minstrels, exhibitors of laughing gas, lec- 
turers on anatomy (the last lecture exclusively for gentlemen), 
jugglers, temperance meetings, caucuses of the Hunkers and 
Barnburners, and, on Sundays, to the Bethesdeans in the 



66 HANNAH THUKSTON: 

morning and the Spiritualists in the evening. Its internal 
aspect was rather shabby. The roughly-plastered walls offered 
too great a temptation for the pencils and charcoal of un- 
fledged artists, when bored by a windy orator. Various 
grotesque heads, accompanied by names and dates, made up 
for the absence of frescoes, but the talent thus displayed did 
not seem to be appreciated, for under some of them was 
written, in a later hand : " he is a fool." The benches were 
of unpainted pine, with long back-rails, which, where they 
had not been split off by the weight of the leaning crowd, 
were jagged with whittled notches. Along the further end 
of the hall ran a platform, raised three feet above the floor, 
and containing a table, three arm-chairs, and two settees. The 
floor might have been swept, but had not recently been 
washed, to judge from the stains of tobacco-juice by which it 
was mottled. 

When Woodbury entered, the seats were nearly all occu- 
pied, an audience of five hundred persons being in attendance. 
Most of them were evidently from the country; some, indeed, 
who were favorably inclined to the cause, had come from Mul- 
ligansville and Atauga City. All the loafers of Ptolemy were 
there, of course, and occupied good seats. The few members 
of the respectable, conservative, moneyed class, whose curiosity 
drew them in, lingered near the door, on the edges of the 
crowd, in order that they might leave whenever so disposed, 
without attracting attention to their presence. 

Mr. Merryfield occupied the middle chair on the platform, 
with a heavy-faced, bald-templed, belligerent looking gentleman 
on his right, and a middle-aged lady in black silk, on his left. 
The settees were also occupied by persons of both sexes who 
were interested in the cause. Among them was Hannah 
Thurston. 

A whispered consultation was" carried on for some ^ime 
among the party on the platform, the belligerent gentleman 
evidently having the most to say. Finally Mr. Merryfield 
arose, thumped upon the table, and after waiting a minute 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 67 

for the " shs /" to subside, announced : " The meeting will now 
come to order !" 

The meeting being already in order, no effect was produced 
by this announcement. 

" As we have assembled together, as it were," he continued, 
" principally to listen to the noble advocates of the glorious 
cause who are to appear before us, my friends suggest that 
that there should be no that we should dispense, as it were, 
with a regular organization, and proceed to listen to their 
voices. The only I would suggest, if the meeting is willing, 
that we should appoint that is, that a committee should be 
named, as it were, to draw up resolutions expressing their 
our sense on the subject of Women's Rights. Perhaps," he 
added, turning around, " some one will make the motion." 

" I move that a committee of six be appointed !" " I second 
the motion !" were heard, almost simultaneously. 

" Those in favor of that motion will signify their assent by 
saying 'Aye!'" said Mr. Merryfield. 

" Aye !" rang through the house with startling unanimity, 
all the boys expressing their enthusiastic assent. 

" Contrary' No !' '' 

Dead silence. 

" The Ayes have it. Who shall the Committee be com- 
posed of." 

" Both sexes must be represented. Three men and three 
women," said the belligerent gentleman, suddenly, half rising 
from his seat. 

In a short time the members of the Committee were appoint- 
ed, and, there being no further business on hand, Mr. Merry- 
field said : " I have now the pleasure, as it were, of introducing 
to the audience the noble advocate of Women's Rights, Isaiah 
Bemis, who whose name is is well known to you all as the 
champion of his I mean, her persecuted sex." Mr. Merry- 
field was so disconcerted by the half-suppressed laughter which 
followed this blunder, that the termination of his eulogium be- 
came still more confused. " The name of Isaiah Bemis," he 



68 HANNAH THUKSTON: 

said, "does not need ray condern commendation. When 
Woman shall fill her true spere, it will shine will be written 
among the martyrs of Reform, as it were, for Truth, crushed 
to Earth, rises up in spite of of though the heavens fall !" 

Mr. Bemis, who was no other than the gentleman of bel- 
ligerent aspect, already mentioned, at once arose, bowing 
gravely in answer to a slight, hesitating, uncertain sound of 
applause. The Ptolemy public had not listened for years to 
speakers of all kinds, and on all subjects, without acquiring 
some ,degree of critical perception. They both enjoyed and 
prided themselves on their acumen, and a new man, whatever 
his doctrines might be, was sure that he would find a full 
house to receive him. If he possessed either eloquence or 
humor, in any appreciable degree, he had no reason to com- 
plain of his reception. The class of hearers to which we refer 
did not consider themselves committed to the speaker's views 
by their manifestations of applause. Off the platform, there 
were not twenty advocates of Women's Rights in the whole 
audience, yet all were ready to hear Mr. Bemis, and to approve 
a good thing, if he should happen to say it. 

A few minutes, however, satisfied them that he was not the 
kind of speaker they coveted. He took for his text that maxim 
of the Declaration of Independence, that " all governments de- 
rive their just powers from the consent of the governed," first 
proved the absolute justice of the theory, and then exhibited 
the flagrant violation of it in the case of w^oman. She is 
equally obliged, with man, to submit to the laws, he said, but 
has no voice in making them; even those laws which control 
her property, her earnings, her children, her person itself, are 
enacted without consultation with her. She not only loses her 
name, but her individual privileges are curtailed, as if she be- 
longed to an inferior order of beings. The character of his 
harangue was aggressive throughout. He referred as little 
as possible, to any inherent difference in the destinies of sex ; 
men and women were simply human beings, and in Society, and 
Law, and Government, there should be no distinction made 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 69 

between them. There was a certain specious display of logic 
in his address ; the faulty links were glozed over, so that his 
chain of argument appeared sound and strong, from end to 
end. Granting his premises, indeed, which he assumed with 
an air, as if they were beyond dispute all the rest readily fol- 
lowed. Those who believed with him, not perceiving the de- 
fect in his basis, were charmed with the force and clearness of 
his views. 

A crowd feels, not reasons, and the auditors, after an hour 
of this talk, began to manifest signs of weariness. Even 
Woodbury, to whom the whole scene was a study or, rather, 
a show only kept his place from a desire to hear the famous 
Bessie Stryker. 

Mr. Bemis at last sat down, and some further whispering 
ensued. There was a slight hitch in the proceedings, it was 
evident. In a few minutes, Mr. Merryfield again arose. " My 
friends," said he ; ".I regret to be able to state that we are 
disappointed, as it were, in listening in the arrival of Bessie 
Stryker. We expected her in the afternoon stage coming from 
Cephalonia, and was to have lectured there last night, but has 
arrived without her. But I hope, nevertheless, that you will 
that it will be agreeable to you, as it were, to hear a few 
words from our friend, Hannah Thurston, who requires whom 
you know already." 

Hearty signs of approbation greeted this announcement. 
Thus appealed to, Hannah Thurston, who at first made a move- 
ment of hesitation, rose, quietly removed her bonnet, and 
walked forward to the table. Her face seemed a little paler 
than usual, but her step was firm, and the hand which she 
placed upon the table did not tremble. After a pause, as if 
to collect and isolate her mind from external impressions, she 
commenced speaking, in a voice so low that only its silver 
purity of tone enabled her to be heard. Yet the slight tremu- 
lousness it betrayed indicated no faltering of courage ; it was 
simply a vibration of nerves rather tensely strung. 

"I will not repeat," she began, "the arguments by which 



70 HANNAH THUKSTON : 

the eloquent speaker has illustrated the wrongs endured by 
woman, under all governments and all systems of law, whether 
despotic or republican. These are considerations which lie 
further from us ; we are most concerned for those injuries 
which require an immediate remedy. When we have removed 
the social prejudices which keep our sex in a false position 
when we have destroyed the faith of the people in the tyran- 
nical traditions by which we are ruled the chains of the law 
will break of themselves. As a beginning to that end, woman 
must claim an equal right to education, to employment, and re- 
ward. These are the first .steps in our reform, to reach the 
sources of those evils which cause our greatest suffering. We 
can endure a little longer, to be deprived of the permission to 
vote and to rule, because the denial is chiefly an assault upon 
our intelligence ; but we need now at once and, my friends, 
I am pleading for millions who cannot speak for themselves 
we need an equal privilege with man, to work and to be justly 
paid. The distinction which is made, to our prejudice, renders 
us weak and helpless, compared with our brethren, to whom 
all fields are open, and who may claim the compensation which 
is justified by their labor, without incurring ridicule or con- 
tempt. They are even allowed to usurp branches which, if 
the popular ideas of woman's weakness, and man's chivalry 
towards her be true, should be left for us. Even admitting 
that our sphere is limited that there are only a few things 
which we may properly do is it generous, is it even just, that 
man, who has the whole range of life to choose from, should 
crowd us out from these few chances of earning our bread ? 
Or to force us to perform the same labor for a smaller remu- 
neration, because we are women ? Could we not measure a 
yard of calico as rapidly, or choose a shade of zephyr as cor- 
rectly as the elegant young men who stand behind the coun- 
ter ? With our more sensitive physical organization, might 
not all tasks requiring quickness, nicety of touch, and careful 
arrangement, be safely confided to our hands ?" 

At this point the audience, which had quite lost its air of 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 71 

weariness, broke into subdued but cordial applause. Hannah 
Thurston's voice, as she acquired possession of her subject, in- 
creased in strength, but at no time appeared to rise above a 
conversational tone. Her manner also, was simply conversa- 
tional. The left hand slightly touched the table, as if she only 
wished to feel a support at hand, not use it ; while she now 
and then, involuntarily, made a simple movement with the 
right. The impression she produced was that of a woman 
compelled by some powerful neces'sity or duty to appear 
before a public assembly, not of one who coveted and enjoyed 
the position. Woodbury was profoundly interested in the 
speaker, and in her words. Both were equally new to him. 

" What we now ask, therefore, my friends," she continued, 
"is that the simple justice be meted out to us, which we feel 
that man without adopting any of our views concerning the 
true position of woman is bound to give. We ask that his 
boasted chivalry be put into practice, not merely in escorting 
us to concerts, or giving us his seat in a railroad-car, or serv- 
ing us first at. the table or in all other ways by which the 
reputation of chivalry and gallantry towards our sex is earned 
at little cost ; but in leaving open to us those places which he 
confesses we are fitted to fill in paying us, as teachers, clerks, 
tailors, or operatives, the same wages for the same woik which 
men do !" . 

This was so simply and fairly stated, that the audience again 
heartily approved. There was nothing, in fact, of the peculiar 
doctrines of Women's Rights in what she said nothing to 
which they could not have individually assented, without com- 
promising their position in regard to the main point. Mr. 
Bemis, however, drew down his heavy brows, and whispered 
to the chairman : " Very good, so far as it goes, but timidly 
stated. We must strike the evil at its root." 

After dwelling for some time on this aspect of the question, 
and illustrating it by a number of examples, Hannah Thurston 
went a step further. 

" But we deny," she said, *' that Man has any natural right 



72 HANNAH THUBSTON : 

to prescribe the bounds within which Woman may labor and 
Jive. God alone has that right, and His laws govern both 
sexes with the same authority. Man has indeed assumed it, 
because he disbelieves in the intellectual equality of women. 
He has treated her as an older child, to whom a certain amount 
of freedom might be allowed, but whom it was not safe to 
release entirely from his guardianship.,. He has educated her 
in this belief, through all the ages that have gone by since the 
creation of the world. Now and then, women have arisen, it 
is true, to vindicate the equal authority of their sex, and have 
nobly won their places in history ; but the growth of the truth 
has been slow so slow, that to-day, in this enlightened ma- 
turity of the world, we must plead and prove all that which 
you should grant without our asking. It is humiliating that 
a woman is obliged to collect evidence to convince men of her 
equal intelligence. She, who is also included in the one word, 
Man ! Placed side by side with him in Paradise Mother of 
the Saviour who came to redeem his fallen race first and 
holiests among the martyrs and saints ! Young men ! Think 
of your own mothers, and spare us this humiliation !" 

These words, uttered with startling earnestness, produced a 
marked sensation in the audience. Perhaps it was a peculiarity 
springing from her Quaker descent, that the speaker's voice 
gradually assumed the character of a musical recitative, be- 
coming a clear, tremulous chant, almost in monotone. This 
gave it a sad, appealing expression, which touched the emo- 
tional nature of the hearer, and clouded his judgment for the 
time being. After a pause, she continued in her ordinary 
tone: 

" The pages of history do not prove the superiority of man. 
When we -consider the position which he has forced woman to 
occupy, we should rather wonder that she has so often resist- 
ed his authority, and won possession of the empire which he 
had appropriated to himself. In the earliest ages he admitted 
her capacity to govern, a power so high and important in its 
nature, that we should be justified in claiming that it embraces 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 73 

all other capacities, and in resting our defence on that alone. 
Such women as Semiramis and Zenobia, Margaret of Denmark, 
and Elizabeth of England, Maria Theresa, and Catharine of 
Russia, are not the least not second, even among great 
rulers. Jael and Judith, and the Maid of Orleans stand no 
less high among the deliverers of nations, than Leonidas and 
William Tell. The first poet who sang may have been Homer, 
but the second was Sappho.* Even^in the schools of Philoso- 
phy, the ancients had their Hypatia, and the scholars of the 
Middle Ages honored the learning of Olympia Morata. Men 
claim the field of scientific research as being exclusively their 
own ; but the names of Caroline Herschel in England, and 
Maria Mitchell in America, prove that even here women can- 
not justly be excluded. Ah, my friends! when God calls a 
human being to be the discoverer of His eternal laws, or the 
illustrator of His eternal beauty, He does not stop to consider 
the question of sex ! If you grant human intellect at all to 
Woman, you must grant the possibility of inspiration, of gen- 
ius, of a life divinely selected as the instrument of some great 
and glorious work. Admitting this, you may safely throw- 
open to us all avenues to knowledge. Hampered as Woman 
still is circumscribed in her spheres of action and thought 
(for her false education permanently distorts her habits of 
mind) she is yet, at present, far above the Saxon bondmen 
from whom the most of you are descended. You know that 
she has risen thus far, not only without injury to herself, but 
to your advantage : why check her progress, here? Nay, why 
check it any where ? If Man's dominion be thereby limited, 
would his head be less uneasy, if the crown he claims were 
shared with another ? Is not a friend better than a servant ? 
If Marriage were a partnership for Woman, instead of a clerk- 
ship, the Head of the House would feel his burthen so much 
the lighter. If the physician's wife were competent to prepare 
his medicines, or the merchant's to keep his books, or the law- 

* Miss Thurston makes these statements on her own responsibility. 
4 



74 HANNAH THTJESTON-: 

yer's to draw up a bond, the gain would be mutual. For Wo- 
man, to be a true helpmeet to Man, must know all that Man 
knows ; and, even as she is co-heir with him of Heaven re- 
ceiving, not the legal ' Third part,' but all of its infinite bles- 
sedness, so she should be co-proprietor of the Earth, equally 
armed to subdue its iniquities, and prepare it for a better 
future !" 

With these words, Hannah Thurston closed her address. 
As she quietly walked back to her seat and resumed her bon- 
net, there was a stir of satisfaction among the audience, ter- 
minating in a round of applause, which, however, she did not 
acknowledge in any way. Although, in no part of the dis- 
course, had she touched the profounder aspects of the subject, 
especially the moral distinctions of sex, she had given utter- 
ance to many absolute truths, which were too intimately con- 
nected, in her mind, with the doctrine she had adopted, for 
her to perceive their real independence of it. Thus, most of 
her hearers, while compelled to agree with her in many re- 
spects, still felt themselves unconvinced in the main particular. 
She was not aware of her own inability to discuss the question 
freely, and ascribed to indifference or prejudice that reluc- 
tance among men, which really sprang from their generous 
consideration for her sex. 

As for Woodbury, he had listened with an awakened in- 
terest in her views, which, for the time, drew his attention 
from the speaker's personality. Her first appearance had 
excited a singular feeling of compassion partly for the trial 
which, he fancied, she must undergo, and partly for the 
mental delusion which was its cause. It was some time be- 
fore he was reassured by her calmness and self-possession. 
At the close, he was surprised to discover in himself a lurking 
sensation of regret that she had not spoken at greater length. 
" I was wrong the other night," he thought. " This woman 
is in severe earnest, and would have been less offended if I 
had plumply declined her challenge, instead of evading it. I 
have yet something to learn from these people." 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 75 

The Committee of Six now made their report. Seth Wat- 
tles, who was one of the number, and had assumed to himself 
the office of Chairman, read a string of Resolutions, setting 
forth, That : Whereas, this is an Age of Progress, and no re- 
form should be overlooked in the Great Battle for the Right : 
Therefore, Resolved That we recognize in this movement 
for the Equal Rights of Woman a cause without the support 
of which no other cause can be permanently successful : and, 
Resolved, That we will in every way help forward the good 
work, by the Dissemination of Light and Information, tending 
to set forth the claims of Woman before the Community : also, 
Resolved, That we will circulate petitions to the State Legis- 
lature, for the investment of Woman with all civil and political 
rights : and, lastly, Resolved, That, we will use our best en- 
deavors to increase the circulation of The Monthly Hollyhock, 
a journal devoted to the cause of Women's Rights. 

Mr. Merryfield arose and inquired : " Shall the Report of 
the Committee be adopted ?" He fortunately checked himself 
in time not to add : " as it were." 

"I move its adoption !" "I second the motion!" were im- 
mediately heard from the platform. 

" All who are in favor of adopting the Resolutions we have 
just heard read, will signify their assent by saying 'Aye !' " 

A scattering, irregular fire of " Ayes" arose in reply. The 
boys felt that their sanction would be out of place on this occa- 
sion, with the exception of two or three, who hazarded their 
voices, in the belief that they would not be remarked, in the 
general vote. To their dismay, they launched themselves into 
an interval of silence, and their shrill pipes drew all eyes to 
their quarter of the house. 

" Contrary,' No !' " 

The opponents of the movement, considering that this was 
not their meeting, refrained from voting. 

"Before the meeting adjourns," said Mr. Merryfield, again 
rising, " I must I take the liberty to hope, as it were, that 
the truths we have heard this day may spread may sink 



76 HANNAH THTTKSTON J 

deeply into our hearts. We expect to be able to announce, 
before long, a visit from Bessie Stryker, whose failure whom 
we have missed from among our eleg eloquent champions. 
But we trust she is elsewhere, and our loss is their gain. I 
thank the audience for your attendance attention, I should 
say, and approbation of our glorious reform. As there is no 
further business before the meeting, and our friends from Mul- 
ligansville and Atauga City have some distance to return home, 
we will now adjourn in time to reach their- destination." 

At this hint the audience rose, and began to crowd out the 
narrow door-way and down the steep staircase. Woodbury, 
pushed and hustled along with the rest, was amused at the 
remarks of the crowd: "He? oh, he's a gassy old fellow!" 
u Well, there's a good deal of truth in it!" "Bessie Stryker? 
I'd rather hear Hannah Thurston any day !" " He didn't half 
like it!" "She has a better right to say such things than he 
has !" and various other exclamations, the aggregate of which 
led him to infer that the audience felt no particular interest in 
the subject of Women's Rights, but had a kindly personal feel- 
ing towards Hannah Thurston. 



A STOEY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 77 



CHAPTER VI. 

* 

IN WHICH LAKESIDE BECOMES LIVELY. 

WINTER at last set in the steady winter of Central New 
York, where the snow which falls at the beginning of Decem- 
ber usually covers the ground until March. Ptolemy, at least, 
which lies upon the northern side of the watershed between 
the Susquehanna and the rivers which flow into Lake Ontario, 
has a much less variable winter temperature than the great 
valley, lying some thirty miles to the southward. Atauga 
Lake, in common with Cayuga and Seneca, never freezes, 
except across the shallows at its southern end ; but its waters, 
so piercingly cold that they seem to cut the skin like the blade 
of a knife, have no power to soften the northern winds. The 
bottoms between Ptolemy and the lake, and also, in fact, the 
Eastern and Western Valleys, for some miles behind the vil- 
lage, are open to the North ; and those sunny winter days 
which, in more sheltered localities, breathe away the snow, 
here barely succeed in softening it a little. On the hills it is 
even too deep for pleasure. As soon as a highway has been 
broken through the drifts, the heavy wood-sleds commence 
running, and very soon wear it into a succession of abrupt 
hollows, over which the light cutters go pitching like their 
nautical namesakes in a chopping sea. 

Woodbury, in obedience to a promise exacted by his sister, 
went to New York for the holidays, and, as might have been 
anticipated, became entangled in a succession of social engage- 
ments, which detained him until the middle of January. He 
soon grew tired of acting as escort to his two pretty, but (it 



f 8 HANNAH THUESTON I 

must be confessed, in strict confidence), shallow nieces, whose 
sole esthetic taste was opera and in opera, especially Verdi. 
After a dozen nights of " darling Bosio," and " delightful Be- 
neventano," and " all the rest of them," he would have been 
glad to hear, as a change, even the "Taza be-taza" of the Hin- 
doo nautch-girls. A season of eastern rains and muddy streets 
made the city insupportable, and greatly to the wonder of 
his sister's family he declined an invitation to the grand 
Fifth Avenue ball of Mrs. Luther Leathers, in order to return 
to the wilderness of Ptolemy. 

Taking the New York and Erie express-train to the town 
of Miranda, he there chartered a two-horse cutter, with an 
Irish attachment, and set out early the next morning. He 
had never before approached Ptolemy from this side, and the 
journey had all the charm of a new region. It was a crisp, 
clear day, the blood of the horses was quickened by the frosty 
air, and the cutter slid rapidly and noiselessly over the well- 
beaten track. With a wolf-skin robe on his knees, Woodbury 
sat in luxurious warmth, and experienced a rare delight in 
breathing the keen, electric crystal of the atmosphere. It was 
many years since he had felt such an exquisite vigor of life 
within him such a nimble play of the aroused blood such 
lightness of heart, and hope, and courage ! The snow-crystals 
sparkled in the sunshine, and the pure shoulders of the hills 
before him shone like silver against the naked blue of the sky. 
He sang aloud, one after another, the long-forgotten songs, 
until his moustache turned to ice and hung upon his mouth 
like the hasp of a padlock. 

Rising out of the Southern valleys, he sped along, over the 
cold, rolling uplands of the watershed, and reached Mulligans- 
ville towards noon. Here the road turned westward, and a 
further drive of three miles brought him to the brink of the 
long descent to East Atauga Creek. At this point, a superb 
winter landscape was unfolded before him. Ptolemy, with its 
spires, its one compactly-built, ambitious street, its scattered 
houses and gardens, lay in the centre of the picture. On the 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 79 

white floor of the valley were drawn, with almost painful 
sharpness and distinctness, the outlines of farm-houses, and 
barns, fences, isolated trees, and the winding lines of elm and 
alder which marked the courses of the streams. Beyond the 
mouth of the further valley rose the long, cultivated sweep of 
the western hill, flecked with dull-purple patches of pine forest. 
Northward, across the white meadows and the fringe of trees 
along Roaring Brook, rose the sunny knoll of Lakeside, shel- 
tered by the dark woods behind, while further, stretching far 
away between the steep shores, gleamed the hard, steel-blue 
sheet of the lake. The air was so in tensely clear that the dis- 
tance was indicated only by a difference in the hue of objects, 
not by their diminished distinctness. 

" By Jove ! this is glorious !" exclaimed Woodbury, scarcely 
conscious that he spoke. 

" Shure, an' it's a fine place, SUIT !" said the Irish driver, ap- 
propriating the exclamation. 

Shortly after commencing the descent, a wreck was descried 
ahead. A remnant of aristocracy or, at least, a fondness for 
aristocratic privilege still lingers among our republican peo- 
ple, and is manifested in its most offensive form, by the drivers 
of heavy teams. No one ever knew a lime- wagon or a wood- 
sled to give an inch of the road to a lighter. vehicle. In this 
case, a sled, on its way down, had forced an ascending cutter 
to turn out into a deep drift, and in attempting to regain the 
track both shafts of the latter had been snapped off. The sled 
pursued its way, regardless of the ruin, and the occupants of 
the cutter, a gentleman, and lady, were holding a consultation 
over their misfortune, when Woodbury came in sight of them. 
As the gentleman leading his horse back into the drift to give 
room, turned his face towards the approaching cutter, Wood- 
bury recognized, projecting between ear-lappets of fur, the cu- 
riously-planted nose, the insufficient lips, and the prominent 
teeth, Vhich belonged to the Rev. Mr. Waldo. The recogni- 
tion was mutual. 

" My dear, it is Mr. Woodbury I" the latter joyfully cried, 



80 HANNAH THUESTON . 

turning to the muffled lady. She instantly stood up in tho 
cutter, threw back her veil, and hailed the approaching deliverer : 
" Help me, good Samaritan ! The Levite has wrecked me, and 
the Priest has enough to do, to take care of himself !" 

Woodbury stopped his team, sprang out, and took a survey 
of the- case. " It is not to be mended," said he ; " you must 
crowd yourselves in with me, and we will drive on slowly, lead- 
ing the horse." 

" But I have to attend a funeral at Mulligans ville the child 
of one of our members," said Mr. Waldo, " and there is no 
time to lose. My dear, you must go back with Mr. Wood- 
bury. Perhaps he can take the harness and robes. I will 
ride on to Van Horn's, where I can borrow a saddle." 

This arrangement was soon carried into effect. Mr. Waldo 
mounted the bare-backed steed, and went off up the hill, thump- 
ing his heels against the animal's sides. The broken shafts 
were placed in the cutter, which was left " to be called for," 
and Mrs. Waldo took her seat beside Woodbury. She had 
set out to attend the funeral, as a duty enjoined by her hus- 
band's office, and was not displeased to escape without damage 
to her conscience. 

" I'm glad you've got back, Mr. Woodbury," she said, as 
they descended the hill. " We like to have our friends about 
us, in the winter, and I assure you, you've been missed." 

" It' is pleasant to feel that I have already a place among 
you," he answered. *' What is the last piece of gossip ? Is 
the Great Sewing-Union still in existence ?" 

" Not quite on the old foundation. Our fair has been held 
by the bye, there I missed you. I fully depended on selling 
you a quantity of articles. The Anti-Slavery Fair is over, too ; 
but they are still working for the Jutnapore Mission, as there 
is a chance of sending the articles direct to Madras, before 
long ; and so the most of us still attend, and either assist them 
or take our own private sewing with us." 

" Where do you next meet ?" 

" Ah, that's our principal trouble. We have exhausted all 



A STOEY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 81 

the available houses, besides going twice to Bue's and Wilkin- 
son's. Our parsonage is so small a mere pigeon-house that 
it's out of the question. I wish I had some of your empty 
rooms at Lakeside. Now, there's an idea ! Capital ! Confess 
that my weak feminine brain is good at resorts !" 

" What is it-?" Woodbury asked. 

" Can't you guess ? You shall entertain the Sewing-Union 
one evening. We will meet at Lakeside : it is just the thing !" 

" Are you serious, Mrs. Waldo ? I could not, of course, be 
so ungracious as to refuse, provided there is no impropriety 
in compliance. What would Ptolemy say to the plan ?" 

" I'll take charge of that !" she cried. " Impropriety ! Are 
you not a steady, respectable Member of Society, I should like 
to know ? If there's any thing set down against you, we must 
go to Calcutta to find it. And we are sure there are no trap- 
doors at Lakeside, or walled-up skeletons, or Blue Beard cham- 
bers. Besides, this isn't Mulligansville or Anacreon, and it is 
not necessary to be so very straight-laced. Oh yes, it is the 
very thing. As for the domestic preparations, count on my 
help, if it is needed." 

" I am afraid," he replied, " that Mrs. Babb would resent 
any interference with her authority. In fact," he added, 
laughing, " I am not certain that it is safe to decide, without 
first consulting her." 

" There, now !" rejoined Mrs. Waldo. " Do you remember 
what I once told you ? Yes, you bachelors, who boast of 
your independence of woman, are the only real slaves to the 
sex. No wife is such a tyrant as a housekeeper. Not but 
what Mrs. Babb is a very honest, conscientious, proper sort of 
a person, but she don't make a home, Mr. Woodbury. You 
should get married." 

"That is easily said, Mrs. Waldo," he replied, with a laugh 
which covered, like a luxuriant summer vine, the entrance to 
a sighing cavern, " easily said, and might be easily done, if 
one were allowed to choose a wife for her domestic qualities 
valued at so much per month." 
4* 



82 HANNAH THURSTON : 

"Pshaw!" said she, with assumed contempt. "You are 
not a natural cynic, and have no right to be single, at your 
age, without a good reason." 

" Perhaps there is a good reason, Mrs. Waldo. Few per- 
sons, I imagine, remain single from choice. I have lost the 
susceptibility of my younger days, but not the ideal of a true 
wedded life. I should not dare to take the only perfect 
woman in the world, unless I could be lover as well as hus- 
band. I sincerely wish my chances were better : but would 
you have me choose one of the shallow, showy creatures I 
have just been visiting, or one of your strong-minded orators, 
here in Ptolemy ?" 

Mrs. Waldo understood both the earnest tone of the speaker, 
and the veiled bitterness of his concluding words. She read 
his heart at a glance, thorough woman as she was, and honored 
him then, and forever thenceforth. 

" You must not take my nonsense for more than it is worth, 
Mr. Woodbury," she answered softly. " Women at my age, 
when God denies them children, take to match-making, in the 
hope of fulfilling their mission by proxy. It is unselfish in us, 
at least. But, bless me ! here we are, at the village. Remem- 
ber, the Sewing-Union meets at Lakeside." 

" As soon as the Autocrat Babb has spoken," said he, as he 
handed her out at the Cimmerian Parsonage, " I will send 
word, and then the matter will rest entirely in your hands." 

" Mine ? Oh, I am a female General Jackson I take the 
responsibility !" she cried, gayly, as the cutter drove away. 

Woodbury, welcomed at the gate of Lakeside by the cheery 
face of Bute Wilson, determined to broach the subject at once 
to the housekeeper. Mrs. Fortitude Babb was glad to see 
him again, but no expression thereof manifested itself in her 
countenance and words. Wiping her bony right-hand on her 
apron she had been dusting the rooms, after sweeping she 
took the one he offered, saying : " How's your health, Sir ?" 
and then added : " I s'pose you've had a mighty fine time, 
While you was away ?" 



A STOUT OF AMERICAN LIFE. 83 

" Not so fine but that I'm glad to get home again," he 
answered. The word u home" satisfied Mrs. Babb's sense of 
justice. His sister, she was sure, was not the housekeeper 
she herself was, and it was only right that he should see and 
acknowledge the fact. 

" I want your advice, Mrs. Babb," Woodbury continued. 
" The Sewing-Union propose to meet here, one evening. 
They have gone the round of all the large houses in Ptolemy, 
and there seems to be no other place left. Since I have 
settled in Lakeside, I must be neighborly, you know. Could 
we manage to entertain them ?" 

" Well comin' so suddent, like, I don't hardly know what 
to think. Things has been quiet here for a long time :" the 
housekeeper grimly remarked, with a wheezy sigh. 

" That is true," said Woodbury ; " and of course you must 
have help." 

" No !" she exclaimed, with energy, " I don't want no help 
leastways only Melindy. The rooms must be put to rights 
not but what they're as good as Mrs. Bue's any day ; and 
there'll be supper for a matter o' twenty ; and cakes and 
things. When is it to be ?" 

" Next Friday, I presume ; but can you get along without 
more assistance?" 

" 'Taint every one that would do it," replied Mrs. Babb, 
"There's sich a settin' to rights, afterwards. But I can't have 
strange help mixin' in, and things goin' wrong, and me to have 
the credit of it. Melindy's used to my ways, and there's not 
many others that knows what housekeepin' is. Sick a, mess as 
some people makes of it !" 

Secretly, Mrs. Babb was well pleased at the opportunity of 
publicly displaying her abilities, but it was not in her nature 
to do any thing out of the regular course of her housekeeping, 
without having it understood that she was making a great 
sacrifice. She was not so unreasonable as to set herself up for 
an independent power, but she stoutly demanded and main- 
tained the rights of a belligerent. This point having once 



84 HANNAH THURSTON: 

been conceded, however, she exhibited a wonderful energy in 
making the necessary preparations. 

Thanks to Mrs. Waldo, all Ptolemy soon knew of the ar- 
rangement, and, as the invitation was general, nearly every- 
body decided to accept it. Few persons had visited Lakeside 
since Mrs. Dennison's funeral, and there was some curiosity 
to know what changes had been made by the new owner. 
Besides, the sleighing was superb, and the moon nearly full. 
The ladies connected with the Sewing-Union were delighted 
with the prospect, and even Hannah Thurston, finding that 
her absence would be the only exception and might thus seem 
intentional, was constrained to accompany them. She had 
seen Woodbury but once since their rencontre at Merryfield's, 
and his presence was both unpleasant and embarrassing to hsr. 
But the Merryfields, who took a special pride in her abilities, 
cherished the hope that she would yet convert him to the true 
faith, and went to the trouble of driving to Ptolemy in order 
to furnish her with a conveyance. 

Early in the afternoon the guests began to arrive. Bute, 
aided by his man Patrick, met them at the gate, and, after a 
hearty greeting (for he knew everybody), took the horses and 
cutters in charge. Woodbury, assuming the character of host 
according to Ptolemaic ideas, appeared at the door, with Mrs. 
Babb, rigid in black bombazine, three paces in his rear. The 
latter received the ladies with frigid courtesy, conducted them 
up-stairs to the best bedroom, and issued the command to 
each of them, in turn : " lay off your Things !" Their 
curiosity failed to detect any thing incomplete or unusual in 
the appointments of the chamber. The furniture was of the 
Dennison period, and Mrs. Fortitude had taken care that no 
fault should be found with the toilet arrangements. Miss 
Eliza Clancy had indeed whispered to Miss Ruhaney Good- 
win : " Well, I think they might have some lavender, or bay- 
water, for us," but the latter immediately responded with 
a warning "sh!" and drew from her work-bag a small 
oiled-silk package, which she unfolded, producing therefrom a 



A STOET OF AMERICAN LIFE. 85 

diminutive bit of sponge, saturated with a mild extract of 
lemon verbena. " Here, 1 ' she said, offering it to the other 
spinster, " I always take care to be pervidecl." 

The spacious parlor at Lakeside gradually filled with 
workers for the Mission Fund. Mrs. Waldo was among the 
earliest arrivals, and took command, by right of her undis- 
puted social talent. She became absolute mistress for the 
time, having, by skilful management, propitiated Mrs. Babb, 
and fastened her in her true place, at the outset, by adaman- 
tine chains of courtesy and assumed respect. She felt herself, 
therefore, in her true element, and distributed her subjects 
with such tact, picking up and giving into the right hands the 
threads of conversation, perceiving and suppressing petty 
jealousies in advance, and laughing away the awkwardness or 
timidity of others, that Woodbury could not help saying to 
himself: "What a queen of the salons this woman would 
have made!" It was, a matter of conscience with her, as he 
perhaps did not know, that the occasion should be agreeable, 
not only to the company, but also to the host. She was re- 
sponsible for its occurrence, and she felt that its success would 
open Lakeside to the use of Ptolemy society. 

There was also little in the principal parlor to attract the 
attention of the guests. The floor was still covered by the old 
Brussels carpet, with its colossal bunches of flowers of impos- 
sible color and form, the wonder of Ptolemy, when it was 
new. There were the same old-fashioned chairs, and deep 
sofas with chintz covers : and the portraits of Mrs. Dennison, 
and her son Henry, as a boy of twelve, with his hand upon the 
head of a Newfoundland dog, looked down from the walls. 
Woodbury had only added engravings of the Madonna di San 
Sisto and the Transfiguration, neither of which was greatly ad- 
mired by the visitors. Mrs. Hamilton Bue, pausing a moment 
to inspect the former, said of the Holy Child : "Why, it looks 
just like my little Addy, when she's got her clothes off!" 

In the sitting-room were Landseer's " Challenge" and Ary 
Scheffer's "Francesca da Rimini." Miss Ruhaney Goodwin 



86 HANNAH THURSTON: 

turned suddenly away from the latter, with difficulty suppres- 
sing an exclamation. "Did you ever?" said she to Miss Eliza 
Clancy; "it isn't right to have'such pictures hung up." 

" Hush !" answered Miss Eliza, "it may be from Scripture." 

Miss Ruhaney now contemplated the picture without hesita- 
tion. It was a proof before lettering. " What can it be, then?" 
she asked. 

"Well I shouldn't wonder if 'twas Jephthah and his 
daughter. They both look so sorrowful." 

The Rev. Lemuel Styles and his wife presently arrived. 
They were both amiable, honest persons, who enjoyed their 
importance in the community, without seeming to assume it. 
The former was, perhaps, a little over-cautious lest he should 
forget the strict line of conduct which had been prescribed for 
him as a theological student. He felt that his duty properly 
required him to investigate Mr. Woodbury's religious views, 
before thus appearing to endorse them by his presence at 
Lakeside ; but he had not courage to break the dignified re- 
serve which the latter maintained, and was obliged to satisfy 
his conscience with the fact that Woodbury had twice at- 
tended his church. Between Mr. Waldo and himself there 
was now a very cordial relation. They had even cautiously 
discussed the differences between them, and had in this way 
learned, at least, to respect each other's sincerity. 

The last of all the arrivals before tea was Mr. and Mrs. Mer- 
ryfield, with Hannah Thurston. The latter came, as already 
mentioned, with great reluctance. She would rather have 
faced an unfriendly audience than the courteous and self-pos- 
sessed host who came to the door to receive her. He op- 
pressed her, not only with a sense of power, but of power 
controlled and directed by some cool faculty in the brain, 
which she felt she did not possess. In herself, whatever of 
intellectual force- she recognized, was developed through the 
excitement of her feelings and sympathies. His personality, 
it seemed to her, was antagonistic to her own, and the knowl- 
edge gave her a singular sense of pain. She was woman 



A STOUT OF AMERICAN LIFE. 87 

enough not to tolerate a difference of this kind without a 
struggle. 

u Thank you for coming, Miss Thurston," said Woodbury, 
as he frankly offered his hand. " I should not like any mem- 
ber of the Union to slight my first attempt to entertain it. I 
am glad to welcome you to Lakeside." 

Hannah Thurston lifted her eyes to his with an effort that 
brought a fleeting flush to her face. But she met his gaze, 
steadily. " We owe thanks to you, Mr. Woodbury," said she, 
" that Lakeside still belongs to our Ptolemy community. I 
confess I should not like to see so pleasant a spot isolated, or 
what the people of Ptolemy would consider much worse," 
she added, smiling " attached to Anacreon." 

" Oh, no !" he answered, as he transferred her to the charge 
of Mrs. Babb. " I have become a thorough Ptolemaic, or a 
Ptolemystic, or whatever the proper term may be. I hurl defi- 
ance across the hill to Anacreon, and I turn my back on the 
south-east wind, when it blows from Mulligansville." 

" Come, come ! We won't be satirized ;" said Mrs. Waldo, 
who was passing through the hall. " Hannah, you are just in 
time. There are five of the Mission Fund sitting together, and 
I want their ranks broken. Mr. Woodbury, there will be no 
more arrivals before tea ; give me your assistance." 

" Who is the tyrant now?" he asked. 

"Woman, ahvays, in one shape or other," she answered, 
leading the way into the parlor. 

After the very substantial tea which Mrs. Babb had pre- 
pared, and to which, it must be whispered, the guests did 
ample justice, there was a pause in the labors of the Union. 
The articles intended for the Jutnapore Mission were nearly 
completed, in fact, and Mrs. Waldo's exertions had promoted 
a genial flow of conversation, which did not require the aid of 
the suggestive needle. The guests gathered in groups, chat- 
ting at the windows, looking out on the gray, twilight land- 
scape, or watching the approach of cutters from Ptolemy, as 
they emerged from the trees along Roaring Brook. Mr. 



88 HANNAH THUESTON I 

Hamilton Bute and the Hon. Zeno Harder were the first to 
make their appearance, not much in advance, however, of the 
crowd of ambitious young gentlemen. Many of the latter were 
personally unknown to Woodbury, but this was not the least 
embarrassment to them. They gave him a rapid salutation, 
since it was not to be avoided, and hurried in to secure advan- 
tageous positions among the ladies. Seth Wattles not only 
came, to enjoy a hospitality based, as he had hinted, on the 
"accursed opium traffic," but brought with him a stranger 
from Ptolemy, a Mr. Grindle, somewhat known as a lecturer 
on Temperance. 

The rooms were soon filled and Woodbury was also obliged 
to throw open his library, into which the elderly gentlemen 
withdrew, with the exception of the Rev. Mr. Styles. Mr. 
Waldo relished a good story, even if the point was somewhat 
coarse, and the Hon. Zeno had an inexhaustible fund of such. 
Mr. BUG, notwithstanding he felt bound to utter an occasional 
mild protest, always managed to be on hand, and often, in his 
great innocence, suggested the very thing which he so evi- 
dently wished to avoid. If the conversation had been for some 
timo rather serious and heavy, he would say : " Well, Mr. 
Harder, I am glad we shall have none of your wicked stories 
to-night" a provocation to which the Hon. Zeno always re- 
sponded by giving one. 

Bute Wilson, after seeing that the horses were properly 
attended to, washed his hands, brushed his hair carefully, and 
put on his Sunday frock-coat. Miss Caroline Dilworth was 
one of the company, but he had been contented with an occa- 
sional glimpse of her through the window, until the arrival of 
Seth Watties. The care of the fires in the. grates, the lamps, 
and other arrangements of the evening, gave him sufficient 
opportunity to mix with the company, and watch both his 
sweetheart and his presumed rival, without appearing to do so. 
"Darn that blue-gilled baboon !" he muttered to himself; "I 
believe his liver's whiter than the milt of a herrin', an' if you'd 
cut his yaller skin, he'd bleed whey 'stid o' blood." 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 89 

Seth Wattles, nevertheless, was really guiltless of any designs 
on the heart of the little seamstress. Like Jierself, he was am- 
bitious of high game, and, in the dreams of his colossal con- 
ceit, looked forward with much confidence to the hour when 
Hannah Thurston should take his name, or he hers : he was 
prepared for either contingency. To this end he assumed a 
tender, languishing air, and talked of Love, and A Mission, 
and The Duality of The Soul, in a manner which, in a more 
cultivated society, would have rendered him intolerable. He 
had a habit of placing his hand on the arm or shoulder of the 
person with whom he was conversing, and there were in 
Ptolemy women silly enough to be pleased by these tokens of 
familiarity. Hannah Thurston, though entirely harmonizing 
with him as a reformer, and therefore friendly and forbearing 
in her intercourse, felt a natural repugnance towards him 
which she could not understand. Indeed, the fact gave her 
some uneasiness. "He is ugly," she thought; "and I am so 
weak as to dislike ugliness it must be that :" which conclu- 
sion, acting on her sensitive principle of justice, led her to 
treat him sometimes with more than necessary kindness. Many 
persons, the Merry-fields included, actually fancied that there 
was a growing attachment between them. 

"Miss Carrie," whispered Bute, as he passed her in the hall, 
" Do you like your lemonade sweet ? We're goin' to bring it 
in directly, and I'll git Mother Forty to make a nice glass of 
it, o' purpose for you." 

" Thank you, Mr. Wilson : yes, if you please," answered the 
soft, childish drawl and the beryl-tinted eyes, that sent a thou- 
sand cork-screw tingles boring through and through him. 

Bute privately put six lumps of sugar into one glass, which 
^he marked for recognition ; and then squeezed the last bitter 
drops of a dozen lemons into another. 

The latter was for Seth Wattles. 



90 HANNAH THURSTON: 



CHAPTER VII. 

WHAT HAPPENED DURING THE EVENING. 

WOODBUKY had prudently left the preparations for the re- 
freshment of his numerous guests in the hands of Mrs. Babb, 
who, aided by the sable Melinda, had produced an immense 
supply of her most admired pastry. By borrowing freezers 
from the confectioner in Ptolemy, and employing Patrick to do 
the heavy churning, she had also succeeded in furnishing very 
tolerable ices. The entertainment was considered to be and, 
for country means, really was sumptuous. Nevertheless, the 
housekeeper was profuse in her apologies, receiving the abun- 
dant praises of her guests with outward grimness and secret 
satisfaction. 

u Try these crullers," she would say : " pVaps you'll find 
'em better 'n the jumbles, though I'm afeard they a'n't hardly 
done enough. But you'll have to put up with sich as there 
is." 

" Oh, Mrs. Babb !" exclaimed Mrs. Hamilton Bue, " don't 
say that ! Nobody bakes as nice as you do. I wish you'd 
give me the receipt for the jumbles." 

" You're welcome to it, if you like 'em, I'm sure. But it 
depends on the seasonin', and I don't never know if they're 
goin' to come out right." 

" Mrs. Babb," said Woodbury, coming up at this moment, 
" will you please get a bottle of Sherry. The gentlemen, I see, 
have nothing but lemonade." 

"I told Bute to git some for them as likes it." 

"A-hm!" Mrs. Bue ejaculated, as the housekeeper de- 
parted to look after the wine ; " I think, Mr. Woodbury, they 
don't take any thing more." 



A STORY OP AMERICAN LIFE. 91 

" Let me give them a chance, Mrs. Bue. Ah, here comes 
Bute, with the glasses. Shall I have the pleasure ?" offering 
her one of the two which he had taken. 

" Oh, dear me, no not for any thing !" she exclaimed, look- 
ing a little frightened. 

" Mr. Bue," said Woodbury, turning around to that gentle- 
man, " as Mrs. Bue refuses to take a glass of wine with me, 
you must be her substitute." 

" Thank you, I'd I'd rather not, this evening," said Mr. 
Bue, growing red in the face. 

There was an embarrassing pause. Woodbury, looking 
around, perceived that Bute had already offered his tray to the 
other gentlemen, and that none of the glasses upon it had been 
taken. He was about to replace his own without drinking, 
when the Hon. Zeno Harder said : " Allow me the pleasure, 
Sir !" and helped himself. At the same moment the Rev. Mr. 
Waldo, in obedience to a glance from his wife, followed his 
example. 

" I have not tasted wine for some years," said the latter, 
" but I have no objection to its rational use. I have always 
considered it sanctioned," he added, turning to Mr. Styles, 
" by the Miracle of Cana." 

Mr. Styles slightly nodded, but said nothing. 

" Your good health, Sir !" said the Hon. Zeno, as he emptied 
his glass. 

"Health?" somebody echoed, in a loud, contemptuous 
whisper. 

Woodbury bowed and drank. As he was replacing his 
glass, Mr. Grindle, who had been waiting for the consumma- 
tion of the iniquity, suddenly stepped forward. Mr.. Grindle 
was a thin, brown individual, with a long, twisted nose, and a 
voice which acquired additional shrillness from the fact of its 
appearing to proceed entirely from the said nose. He had oc- 
casionally lectured in Ptolemy, and was known, by sight, at 
least, to all the company. Woodbury, however, was quite 
ignorant of the man and every thing concerning him. 



92 HANNAH THTJESTON : 

"I am surprised," exclaimed Mr. Grindle, with his eyes 
fixed on vacancy, " that a man who has any regard for his 
reputation will set such a pernicious example." 

" To what do you refer ?" asked Woodbury, uncertain 
whether it was he who was addressed. 

" To that /" replied the warning prophet, pointing to the 
empty wine-glass "the source of nine-tenths of all the sin 
and suffering in the world !" 

" I think- you would have some difficulty in finding Sherry 
enough to produce such a result," Woodbury answered, 
beginning to understand the man. 

" Sherry, or Champagne, or Heidsick !" retorted Mr. Grin- 
die, raising his voice : " it's all the same all different forms 
of Rum, and different degrees of intemperance !" 

Woodbury's brown eyes flashed a little, but he answered 
coolly and sternly: "As you say, Sir, there are various forms 
of intemperance, and I have too much respect for my guests 
to allow that any of them should be exhibited here. Mrs. 
Waldo," he continued, turning his back on the lecturer, and 
suddenly changing his tone, " did you not propose that we 
should have some music ?" 

" I have both persuaded and commanded," she replied, " but 
singers, I have found, are like a flock of sheep. They huddle 
together and hesitate, until some one takes the lead, and then 
they all follow, even if it's over your head. You must be 
bell-wether, after all." 

"Anything for harmony," he answered, gay ly. "Ah! I 
have it a good old song, with which none of our friends can 
find fault." 

And he sang, in his mellow voice, with an amused air, which 
Mrs. Waldo understood and heartily enjoyed : " Drink to me 
only with thine eyes" 

Mr. Grindle, however, turned to Seth Wattles and said, 
sneeringly : " It's easy enough to shirk an argument you can't 
answer." A fortnight afterwards he exploited the incident in 
a lecture which he gave before the Sons of Temperance, at 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 93 

Ptolemy. Commencing with the cheap groggeries, he gradu- 
ally rose in his attacks until he reached the men of wealth and 
education. " There are some of these in our neighborhood," 
he said : " it is not necessary for me to mention names men 
whom perhaps we might excuse for learning the habit of runi- 
drinking on foreign shores, where our blessed reform has not 
yet penetrated, if they did not bring it here with them, to cor- 
rupt and destroy our own citizens, ^fce unto those men, say I! 
Better that an ocean of fire had rolled between those distant 
shores of delusion and debauchery and this redeemed land, so 
that they could not have returned! Better that they had per- 
ished under the maddening influence of the bowl that stingeth 
like an adder, before coming here to add fresh hecatombs to the 
Jaws of the Monster!" Of course, everybody in Ptolemy 
knew who was meant, and sympathizing friends soon carried 
the report to Lakeside. 

The unpleasant episode was soon forgotten, or, from a natural 
sense of propriety, no longer commented upon. Even the 
strongest advocates of Temperance present felt mortified by 
Mr. Grin die's vulgarity. Hannah Thurston, among others, 
was greatly pained, yet, for the first time, admired Woo<l- 
bury's coolness and self-possession, in the relief which it gave 
her. She wished for an opportunity to show him, by her man- 
ner, a respect which might in some degree counterbalance the 
recent rudeness, and such an opportunity soon occurred. 

She was standing before the picture of Francesca da Rimini, 
lost in the contemplation of the wonderful grace and pathos 
of the floating figures, when Woodbury, approaching her, said : 

"I am glad that you admire it, Miss Thurston. The .pic- 
ture is a great favorite with me." 

"The subject is from Dante, is it not?" she asked ; " that 
figure is he, I think." 

Woodbury was agreeably surprised at her perception, espe- 
cially as she did not say "Dant" which he might possibly have 
expected. He explained the engraving, and found that she 
recollected the story, having read Gary's translation. 



94 HANNAH THUKSTON I 

" Since you are so fond of pictures, Miss Thurston," said 
he, "let me show you another favorite of mine. Here, in the 
library." 

Taking a large portfolio from its rack, he opened it on .the 
table, under a swinging lamp. There were views of Indian 
scenery strange temples, rising amid plumy tufts of palm ; 
elephants and tigers grappling in jungles of gigantic grass; 
pillared banians, with gray-bearded fakirs sitting in the 
shade, and long ghauts descending to the Ganges. The glimp- 
ses she caught, as he turned the leaves, took away her breath 
with sudden delight. 

At last he found the plate he was seeking, and laid it be- 
fore her. It was a tropical brake, a tangle of mimosa-trees, 
with their feathery fronds and balls of golden down, among 
which grew passion-flowers and other strange, luxuriant vines. 
In the midst of the cool, odorous darkness, stood a young In- 
dian girl of wonderful beauty, with languishing, almond-shaped 
eyes, and some gorgeous unknown blossom drooping from 
her night-black hair. Her only garment, of plaited grass or 
rushes, was bound across the hips, leaving the lovely form bare 
in its unconscious purity. One hand, listlessly hanging among 
the mimosa leaves, which gradually folded up and bent away 
where she touched them, seemed to seek the head of a doe, 
thrust out from the foliage to meet it. At .the bottom of the 
picture a fawn forced its way through the tangled greenery. 
The girl, in her dusky beauty, seemed a dryad of the sump- 
tuous forest the child of summer, and perfume, and rank, 
magnificent bloom. 

" Oh, how beautiful !" exclaimed Hannah Thurston, at once 
impressed by the sentiment of the picture : " It is like the scent 
of the tube rose." 

"Ah, you comprehend it!" exclaimed Woodbury, surprised 
and pleased : " do you know the subject ?" 

"Not at all, but it scarcely needs an explanation." 

" Have you ever heard of Kalidasa, the Hindoo poet ?" 

" I have not, I am sorry to say," she answered; " I have 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 95 

sometimes found references to the old Sanscrit literature in 
modern authors, but that is all I know about it. 1 ' 

" My own knowledge has been derived entirely from trans- 
lations," said he, " and I confess that this picture was the cause 
of my acquaintance with Kalidasa. I never had patience to 
read their interminable epics. Shall I tell you the story of 
Sakontala, this lovely creature ?" 

" Certainly, if you will be so kind : ^it must be beautiful." 

Woodbury then gave her a brief outline of the drama, to 
which she listened with the greatest eagerness and delight. 
At the close, he said : 

" I am sorry I have not a copy of the translation to offer 
you. But, if you would like to read another work by the 
same poet, I think I have the ' Megha-DutaJ or ' Cloud-Mes- 
senger,' somewhere in my library. It is quite as beautiful a 
poem, though not in the dramatic form. There are many cha- 
racteristic allusions to Indian life, but none, I think, that you 
could not understand." 

" Thank you, Mr. Woodbury. It is not often that I am 
able to make the acquaintance of a new author, and the pleas- 
ure is all the greater. I know very little of literature outside 
of the English language, and this seems like the discovery of 
a new world in the Past. India is so far-off and unreal." 

" Not to me," he answered, with a smile. " We are crea- 
tures of habit to a greater extent than the most of us guess. 
If you could now be transplanted to India, in less than five 
years you would begin to imagine that you were born undei 
the lotus-leaf, and that this life in Ptolemy had occurred only 
in the dreams of a tropical noonday." 

" Oh, no, no !" said she, with earnestness. " We cannot so 
forget the duties imposed upon us we cannot lose sight of 
our share in the great work intrusted to our hands. Right, 
aud Justice, and Conscience, are everywhere the same !" 

44 Certainly, as absolute principles. But our individual duties 
vary with every change in our lives, and our individual action 
is affected, in spite of ourselves, by the influences of the exter- 



96 HANNAH THUESTON I 

nal world. Are you not to take the simplest evidence of this 
fact cheerful and hopeful on some days, desponding and 
irresolute on others, without conscious reason ? And can you 
not imagine moods of Nature which would permanently color 
your own ?" 

Hannah Thurston felt that there was a germ of harsh, ma- 
terial truth in his words, beside which her aspirations lost 
somewhat of their glow. Again she was conscious of a pain- 
ful, unwelcome sense of repulsion. " Is there no faith ?" she 
asked herself; " are there no lofty human impulses, under this 
ripe intelligence ?" The soft, liquid lustre faded out of her 
eyes, and the eager, animated expression of her face passed 
away like the sunshine from a cloud, leaving it cold and gray. 

Woodbury, seeing Miss Eliza- Clancy, in company with 
other ladies, entering the library, tied up the portfolio and 
replaced it in its rack. Mrs. Waldo, pressing forward at the 
same time, noticed upon the table a Chinese joss-stick, in its 
lackered boat. She was not a woman to disguise or restrain 
an ordinary curiosity. 

" What in the world is this ?" she asked, taking the boat in 
her hands. The other ladies clustered around, inspecting it 
from all sides, but unable to guess its use. 

" Now," said Woodbury, laughing, " I have half a mind to 
torment you a little. You have all read the Arabian Nights ? 
Well, this is an instrument of enchantment." 

"Enchantment! Do the Indian jugglers use it?" asked 
Mrs. Waldo. 

" ./use it," said he. "This rod, as it appears to be, is made 
of a mysterious compound. It has been burned at one end, 
you see. When lighted, it is employed to communicate fire 
to another magical substance, through which the Past is 
recalled and the Future made clear." 

Miss Clancy and the other spinsters opened their eyes wide, 
in wonderment. "Provoking! Tell us now!" cried Mrs. 
Waldo. 

" It is just as I say," he answered. " See, when I light the 



A STOEY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 97 

end thus it burns with a very slow fire. This single piece 
would burn for nearly a whole day." 

"But what is the other magical substance?" she asked. 

" Here is a specimen," said he, taking the lid from a circular 
box of carved bamboo, and disclosing to their view some cigars. 

The spinsters uttered a simultaneous exclamation. " Dread- 
ful!" cried Mrs. Waldo, in affected horror. "Hannah, can 
you imagine such depravity ?" 

"I confess, it seems to me an unnatural taste," Hannah 
Thurston gravely answered ; " but I presume Mr. Woodbury 
has some defence ready." 

" Only this," said he, with an air between jest and earnest, 
"that the habit is very agreeable, and, since it produces a 
placid, equable tone of mind, highly favorable to reflection, 
might almost be included in the list of moral agencies." 

" Would it not be more satisfactory," she asked, " if you 
could summon up the same condition of mind, from an earnest 
desire to attain the Truth, without the help of narcotic drugs ?" 

" Perhaps so," he replied ; " but we are all weak vessels, as 
you know, Mrs. Waldo. I have never yet encountered such a 
thing as perfect harmony in the relations between oody and 
mind. I doubt, even, if such harmony is possible, except at 
transient intervals. For my part, my temper is so violent and 
uncontrollable that the natural sedative qualities of my mind 
are insufficient." 

Mrs. Waldo laughed heartily at this assertion, and the 
serious tone in which it was uttered. Hannah Thurston, to 
whom every fancied violation of the laws of nature was more 
or less an enormity, scarcely knew whether to be shocked or 
amused. She had determined to carefully guard herself against 
committing such an indiscretion as Mr. Grindle, but it was 
hard to be silent, when Duty demanded that she should bear 
a stern testimony against evil habits. 

" You should be charitable, ladies," Woodbury continued, 
" towards some of our masculine habits, seeing that we do not 
interfere with yours." 



98 HANNAH THUKSTON I 

" Bless me ! what habits have we, I should like to know !" 
exclaimed Mrs. Waldo. 

"A multitude: I don't know the half of them. Crochet- 
work, and embroidery, and patterns, for instance. Tea is 
milder than tobacco, I grant, but your systems are more sensi- 
tive. Then, there are powders and perfumes ; eau de Cologne, 
lavender, verbena, heliotrope, and what not against all of 
which I have nothing to say, because their odors are nearly 
equal to that of a fine Havana cigar." 

Miss Eliza Clancy and Miss Ruhaney Goodwin exchanged 
glances of horror. They were both too much embarrassed to 
reply. 

" You understand our weaknesses," said Hannah Thurston, 
with a smile in which there was some bitterness. 

"I do not call them weaknesses," he answered. "I should 
be glad if this feminine love of color and odor were more com- 
mon among men. But there are curious differences of taste, 
in this respect. I have rarely experienced a more exquisite 
delight than in riding through the rose-fields of Ghazeepore, at 
the seasojjpfor making attar: yet some persons cannot endure 
the smell of a rose. Musk, which is a favorite perfume with 
many, is to me disagreeable. There is, however, a physical 
explanation for this habit of mine, which, perhaps, you do not 
know." 

" No," said she, still gravely, " I know nothing but that it 
seems to me unnecessary, and if you will pardon me the 
word pernicious." 

" Certainly. It is so, in many cases. But some constitutions 
possess an overplus of active nervous life, which suggests the 
use of a slight artificial sedative. The peculiar fascination of 
smoking is not in the taste of the weed, but the sight of the 
smoke. It is the ear of corn which we hold out to entice into 
harness the skittish thoughts that are running loose. In the 
Orient, men accomplish the same result by a rosary, the beads 
of which they run through their fingers." 

" Yes !" interrupted Mrs. Waldo : " My brother George, 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 99 

who was always at the head of his class, had a habit of twist- 
ing a lock of his hair while he was getting his lessons. It 
stuck out from the side of his head, like a horn. When 
mother had his hair cut, he went down to the foot, and he 
never got fairly up to head till the horn grew out again." 

" A case in point," said Woodbury. " Now, you, ladies, 
have an exactly similar habit. Sewing, I have heard, is often- 
times this soothing agent, but knitting is the great feminine 
narcotic. In fact, women are more dependent on these slight 
helps to thought these accompaniments to conversation 
than men. There are few who can sit still and talk a whole 
evening, without having their hands employed. Can you not 
see some connecting link between our habits ?" 

The spinsters were silent. The speaker had, in fact, rather 
gone beyond their depth, with the exception of Mrs. Waldo, 
whose sympathy with him was so hearty and genial that she 
would have unhesitatingly accepted whatever sentiments he 
might have chosen to declare. Hannah Thurston was not a 
little perplexed. She scarcely knew whether he was entirely 
sincere, yet his views were so novel and unexpected that she 
did not feel prepared to answer them. Before this man's ap- 
pearance in Ptolemy, her course had been chosen. She had 
taken up, weighed, and decided for herself the questions of 
life : a period of unpleasant doubt and hesitation had been 
solved by the acceptance of (to her) great and important theo- 
ries of reform. Was a new and more difficult field of doubt to 
be opened now ? more difficult, because the distinctions of the 
sexes, which had been almost bridged over in her intercourse 
with reformers of kindred views, were suddenly separated by 
a new gulf, wider than the old. 

Woodbury, noticing something of this perplexity in her coun- 
tenance, continued in a lighter tone : " At least, Miss Thurs- 
ton, I think you will agree with me that a physical habit, 
if you prefer to call it so, is not very important in comparison 
with those vices of character which are equally common and 
not so easy to eradicate. Is not the use of a ' narcotic drug* 



100 HANNAH THTJKSTON : 

less objectionable than the systematic habit of avarice, or envy, 
or hypocrisy ?" 

" Yes, indeed !" said Mrs. Waldo, recollecting his generous 
donation to the Cimmerians, " and I, for one, will not prohibit 
the use of your magical ingredients." 

" I cannot judge for you, Mr. Woodbury," said Hannah 
Thurston, feeling that some response was expected ; " but have 
you no duty towards those who may be encouraged in the 
same habit, to their certain injury, by your example?" 

"There, Miss Thurston, you touch a question rather too 
vague to enter practically into one's life. After accepting, in 
its fullest sense, the Christian obligation of duty towards our 
fellow-men, there must be a certain latitude allowed for indi- 
vidual tastes and likings. Else we should all be slaves to each 
other's idiosyncrasies, and one perverted or abnormal trait 
might suppress the healthy intellectual needs of an entire com- 
munity. Must we cease to talk, for example, because there is 
scarcely a wholesome truth which, offered in a certain way, 
might not operate as poison to some peculiarly constituted 
mind ? Would you cease to assert an earnest conviction from 
the knowledge that there were persons unfitted to receive 
it?" 

" I do not think the analogy is quite correct," she answered, 
after a moment's pause, "because you cannot escape the re- 
cognition of a truth, when it has once found access to your 
mind. A habit, which you can take up or leave off at will, is 
a very different thing." 

" Perhaps, then," said Woodbury, who perceived by the 
rising shade on Mrs. Waldo's smooth brow that it was time to 
end the discussion, " I had best plead guilty, at once, to being 
something of an Epicurean in my philosophy. I am still too 
much of an Oriental to be indifferent to slight material com- 
forts." 

"In consideration of your hospitality," interposed Mrs. 
Waldo, brightening up, " the Sewing Union will not judge 
you very severely. Is it not so, Miss Clancy ?" 



A STOBT OF AMERICAN LIFE. 101 

"Well really oh no, we are under obligations to Mr. 
Woodbury ;" said the spinster, thus unexpectedly appealed to, 
and scarcely knowing how to reply. 

"Our community have reason to congratulate themselves, 
Sir," here broke in the Hon. Zeno Harder, who had entered 
the library in time to hear the last words. 

Woodbury bowed dryly and turned away. 

Soon afterwards, the sound of ^leigh-bells in front of the 
house announced the first departures. The company became 
thinner by slow degrees, however, for the young gentlemen 
and ladies had found the large parlor of Lakeside full of con- 
venient nooks, which facilitated their habit of breaking into 
little groups, and were having such agreeable conversation that 
they would probably have remained until the small hours, but 
for the admonitions of the older folks. Among the earliest to 
leave were the Merryfields, taking with them Hannah Thurs- 
ton and Miss Dil worth, greatly to Bute's regret. The latter, 
unable to detect any signs of peculiar intimacy between Seth 
Wattles and the little seamstress, became so undisguised in his 
fondnessfor her society as to attract, at last, Mrs. Babb's at- 
tention. The grim housekeeper had a vulture's beak for 
scenting prey of this kind. While she assisted Mrs. Styles to 
find her " Things," in the bedroom up-stairs, she steadfastly 
kept one eye on the snowy front yard, down which the Merry- 
field party were moving. Bute, as she anticipated, was hover- 
ing around the last and smallest of the hooded and cloaked 
females. He put out his arm two or three times, as if to 
steady her steps. They had nearly reached the cutter, where 
Patrick was holding the impatient horses, when she saw 
another male figure hurry down the walk. There was a sud- 
den tangle among the dim forms, and one of them, she noticed, 
plunged full length into a bank of snow. 

Mrs. Babb was so agitated by this tableau, that she sud- 
denly threw up her hands, exclaiming : " Well, if that don't 
beat all !" 

Mrs. Styles, carefully muffled for the journey home, had just 



102 HANNAH THUBSTON: 

turned to say good-night to the housekeeper, and stood petri- 
fied, unable to guess whether the exclamation was one of ad- 
miration or reproach. She slightly started back before the 
energy with which it was uttered. 

" Well, to be sure, how I do forgit things !" said Mrs. Babb, 
coming to her senses. " But you know, Ma'am, when you're 
not used to havin' company for a while, y'r head gits bothered. 
Tears to me I haven't been so flustered for years. You're 
sure, Ma'am, you're right warm. I hope you won't take no 
cold, goin' home." 

The scene that transpired in front of the house was suffi- 
ciently amusing. Bute Wilson, as deputy-host, escorted Miss 
Dilworth to the cutter, and was delighted that the slippery 
path gave him at least one opportunity to catch her around the 
waist. Hearing rapid footsteps behind him, he recognized 
Seth Wattles hard upon his track, and, as the ungainly tailor 
approached, jostled him so dexterously that he was tumbled 
headlong into a pile of newly-shovelled snow. 

" Ah ! Who is it ? Is he hurt ?" exclaimed Miss Dilworth. 

A smothered sound, very much resembling "Dam !" came 
from the fallen individual. 

"Let me help you up," said Bute; "you pitched ag'in me 
like an ox. Why, Seth, is it you? You ha' n't tore your 
trowsus, nor nothin', have you ?" 

Seth, overwhelmed before the very eyes of Hannah Thurs- 
ton, whom he was hastening to assist into the cutter, grum- 
bled : " No, I'm not hurt." Meantime, Bute had said good- 
night to the party, and the cutter dashed away. 

" Well, it's one comfort that you can always mend your own 
rips," the latter remarked, consolingly. 

Finally, the last team departed, and the sound of the bells 
diminished into a faint, fairy sweetness, as if struck by the 
frosty arrows of the starlight from the crystals of the snow. 
Lakeside returned to more than its wonted silence and seclu- 
sion. Woodbury closed the door, walked into his library, 
lighted a cigar at the still burning piece of joss-stick, and 



A STOEY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 103 

threw himself into a chair before the fire. Now and then 
puffing a delicate, expanding ring of smoke from his lips, he 
watched it gradually break and dissolve, while reviewing, in 
his thoughts, the occurrences of the evening. They were not 
wholly agreeable, yet the least so Mr. Grindle's rude attack, 
was not to be dismissed from the mind like an ordinary piece 
of vulgarity. It was a type, he thought, of the manners which 
self-constituted teachers of morality must necessarily assume 
in a community where intellect is characterized by activity 
rather than development. Society, in its broader sense, is un- 
known to these people, was his reflection. In the absence of 
cultivation, they are ruled by popular ideas: Reforms are 
marshalled in, as reserve corps, behind the ranks of Religion, 
and not even the white flag of a neutral is recognized in the 
grand crusade. "Join us and establish your respectability, 
or resist us and be cut down !" is the cry. 

" Yet" he mused further " is it not something that, in a, 
remote place like this, Ideas have vitality and power ? Ad- 
mitting that the channels in which they move are contracted, 
and often lead in false directions, must they not rest on a basis 
of honest, unselfish aspiration ? The vices which spring from 
intolerance and vulgar egotism are not to be lightly pardoned, 
but, on the other hand, they do not corrupt and demoralize like 
those of the body. One must respect the source, while resist- 
ing the manifestation. How much in earnest that Quaker girl 
seemed ! It was quite a serious lecture she gave me, about 
such a trifle as this" (puffing an immense blue ring into the 
air). " But it was worth taking it, to see how she enjoyed 
the Sakontala. She certainly possesses taste, and no doubt 
thinks better than she talks. By the by, I quite forgot to 
give her the translation of the Megha-Duta" 

Springing up, Woodbury found the volume, after some 
search, and soon became absorbed, for the second time, in its 
pages. 

" Bute," said Mrs. Babb, as she wiped the dishes, and care- 
fully put away the odds and ends of the refreshments ; " 'Pears 



104 HANNAH THTJKSTON I 

to me you was gallivantiu' round that Carrline Dilwuth, more 
than's proper." 

Bute, standing with legs spread out and back to the fire, 
answered, as he turned around to face it, whereby, if he 
blushed, the evidence was covered by the glow of the flame : 
" Well, she's a gay little creetur, and 'taint no harm." 

" I dunno about that," sharply rejoined the housekeeper. 
" She's a cunnin', conceited chit, and '11 lead you by the nose. 
You're just fool enough to be captivated by a piece o' wax- 
work and curls. It makes me sick to look at 'em. Gals used 
to comb their hair when I was young. I don't want no sich 
a thing as she is, to dance at my buryin'." 

" Oh, Mother Forty, don't you go off about it !" said Bute, 
deprecatingly. " I ain't married to her, nor likely to be." 

' " Married ! I guess not ! Time enough for that when 7"'m 
dead and gone. Me that brought you up, and to have some- 
body put over my head, and spendin' all your earnins on fine 
clothes, and then hankerin' after my money. But it's locked 
up, safe and tight, I can tell you that." 

" I'm man-grown, I reckon," said Bute, stung into resistance 
by this attack, " and if I choose to git married, some day or 
other, I don't see who can hinder me. It's what everybody 
else does, and what you've done, yourself." 

Bute strode off to bed, and the housekeeper, sitting down 
before the fire, indulged in the rare luxury of shedding seve- 
ral tears. 



A STOUT OF AMERICAN LIFE. 105 



CHAPTER VIII. 

IN WHICH MR. WOODBURY PAYS AN UNEXPECTED VISIT. 

ON the following Monday, Woodbury having occasion to 
visit Ptolemy, took with him the volume of Kalidasa, intend- 
ing to leave it at the cottage of the widow Thurston. The 
day was mild and sunny, and the appearance of the plank 
sidewalk so inviting to the feet, that he sent Bute forward to 
the Ptolemy House with the cutter, on alighting at the cot- 
tage gate. 

The door of the dwelling, opening to the north, was pro- 
tected by a small outer vestibule, into which he stepped, 
designing simply to leave the book, with his compliments, and 
perhaps a visiting-card though the latter was not de rigueur 
in Ptolemy. There was no bell-pull ; he knocked, gently at 
first, and then loudly, but no one answered. Turning the knob 
of the door he found it open, and entered a narrow little hall, 
in which there was a staircase leading to the upper story, and 
two doors on the left. Knocking again at the first of these, 
an answer presently came from the further room, and the 
summons, " Come in !" was repeated, in a clear though weak 
voice. 

He no longer hesitated, but advanced into the sitting-room. 
Friend Thurston, sunning herself in her comfortable chair, 
looked around. A fleeting expression of surprise passed over 
her face, but the next moment she stretched out her hand, 
saying : " How does thee do ?" 

" My name is Woodbury," said he, as he took it respectfully, 
I 

6* 



106 HANNAH THUESTON: 

" I thought it must be thee," she interrupted. " Hannah 
described thy looks to me. Won't thee sit down ?" 

" I have only called to leave a book for your daughter, and 
will not disturb you." 

"Thee won't disturb me. I feel all the better for a little 
talk now and then, and would be glad if thee could sit and chat 
awhile. Thee's j ust about the age my little Richard would 
have been if he had lived." 

Thus kindly invited, Woodbury took a seat. His eye ap- 
preciated, at a glance, the plainness, the taste, and the cozy 
comfort of the apartment, betraying in every detail, the touches 
of a woman's hand. Friend Thurston's face attracted and 
interested him. In spite of her years, it still bore the traces 
of former beauty, and its settled calm of resignation recalled 
to his mind the expression he remembered on that of Mrs. 
Dennison. Her voice was unusually clear and sweet, and the 
deliberate evenness of her enunciation, so different from the 
sharp, irregular tones of the Ptolemy ladies, was most agree- 
able to his ear. 

"Hannah's gone out," she resumed ; " but I expect her back 
presently. It's kind of thee to bring the book for her. Thee 
bears no malice, I see, that she lectured thee a little. Thee 
must get used to that, if thee sees much of our people. We 
are called upon to bear testimony, in season and out of season, 
and especially towards men of influence, like thee, whose re- 
sponsibilities are the greater." 

" I am afraid you over-estimate my influence," Woodbury 
replied ; " but I am glad you do not suppose that I could 
bear malice on account of a frank expression of opinion 
Every man has his responsibilities, I am aware, but our ideas 
of duty sometimes differ." 

" Thee's right there," said the old lady ; " and perhaps we 
ought not to ask more than that the truth be sought for, in a 
sincere spirit. I don't think, from thy face, that there is much 
of stubborn worldly pride in thy nature, though thee belongs 
to the world, as v. e Friends say." 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 107 

" I have found that a knowledge of the world cures one of 
unreasonable pride. The more I mingle with men, the more I 
find reflections of myself, which better enable me to estimate 
my own character." 

"If thee but keeps the heart pure, the Holy Spirit may 
come to thee in the crowded places, even as The Saviour was 
caught up from the midst of His Disciples !" she exclaimed 
with fervor. Gazing on her steady, earnest eyes, Woodbury 
could not help thinking to himself: "The daughter comes 
legitimately by her traits." 

" Can thee accustom thyself to such a quiet life as thee leads 
now ?" she asked ; and then gazing at him, continued, as if 
speaking to herself: " It is not a restless face. Ah, but that is 
not always a sign of a quiet heart. There are mysteries in 
man, past finding out, or only discovered when it is too late I" 

" This life is not at all quiet," he answered, " compared with 
that which I have led for the past ten or twelve years. In a 
foreign country, and especially within the tropics, the novelty 
of the surroundings soon wears off, and one day is so exactly 
the repetition of another, that we almost lose our count of 
time. It seems to me, now, as if I were just awaking out of a 
long sleep. I have certainly thought more, and felt more, in 
these three months than in as many years abroad ; for I had 
come to believe that the world was standing still, while now I 
see that it really moves, and I must move with it." 

" I like to hear thee say that !" exclaimed the widow, turn- 
ing suddenly towards him, with a bright, friendly interest in 
her face. " Men are so apt to be satisfied with their own opin- 
ions at least, when they've reached thy age. Thee's over 
thirty, I should think ?" 

" Thirty-six," Woodbury respectfully answered, " but I hope 
I shall never be so old as to suppose, like the counsellors of 
Job, that wisdom will die with me." 

Tue widow understood his allusion, in the literal sense 
which he intended : not so another auditor. Hannah Thurs- 
ton, who heard the last words as she entered the room, at once 



108 HANXAH THTJRSTON: 

suspected a hidden sarcasm, aimed principally at herself. The 
indirect attacks to which she had been subjected, especially 
from persons of her own sex, had made her sensitive and sus- 
picious. Her surprise at Woodbury's presence vanished in the 
spirit of angry antagonism which suddenly arose within her. 
She took the hand he frankly offered, with a mechanical cold- 
ness strangely at variance with her flushed cheeks and earnest 
eyes. 

" I'm glad thee's come, Hannah," said the old lady. " Friend 
Woodbury has been kind enough to bring thee a book, and 
I've been using an old woman's privilege, to make his acquain- 
tance. He'll not take it amiss, I'm sure !" 

Woodbury replied with a frank smile, which he knew she 
would understand. His manner towards the daughter, how- 
ever, had a shade of formal deference. Something told him 
that his visit was not altogether welcome to her. " I found 
the translation of the Megha-Duta, Miss Thurston," he said, 
"jmd have called to leave it, on my way to the village. If it 
interests you, I shall make search for whatever other frag- 
ments of Indian literature I may have." 

" I am very much obliged to you," she forced herself to say, 
inwardly resolving, that, whether interesting or not, this was 
the first and last book she would receive from the library of 
Lakeside. 

" It is really kind of thee," interposed the widow ; " Hannah 
finds few books here in Ptolemy that she cares to read, and we 
cannot afford to buy many. What was the work, Hannah, 
thee spoke of the other, night?" 

Thus appealed to, the daughter, after a moment's reluctance, 
answered: "I was reading to mother Carlyle's Essay on 
Goethe, and his reference to ' Wilhelm Meister' excited my 
curiosity. I believe Carlyle himself translated it, and therefore 
the translation must be nearly equal to the original." 

" I read it some years ago, in Calcutta," said Woodbury, 
"but I only retain the general impression which it left upon 
my mind. It seemed to me, then, a singular medley of wis- 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 109 

dom and weakness, of the tenderest imagination and the 
coarsest reality. But I have no copy, at present, by which to 
test the correctness of that impression. I am not a very criti- 
cal reader, as you will soon discover, Miss Thurston. Do you 
like Carlyle ?" 

"I like his knowledge, his earnestness, and his clear insight 
into characters and events, though I cannot always adopt his 
conclusions. His thought, ho wever,is strong and vital, and it 
refreshes and stimulates at the same time. I am afraid he 
spoils me for other authors." 

" Is not that, in itself, an evidence of something false in his 
manner ? That which is absolutely greatest or truest should 
not weaken our delight in the lower forms of excellence. Pe- 
culiarities of style, when not growing naturally out of the sub- 
ject, seem to me like condiments, which disguise the natural 
flavor of the dish and unfit the palate to enjoy it. Have you 
ever put the thought, which Carlyle dresses in one of his 
solemn, involved, oracular sentences, into the Quaker garb of 
plain English ?" 

" No," said Hannah Thurston, somewhat startled. " I con- 
fess," she added, after a pause, " the idea of such an experi- 
ment is not agreeable to me. I cannot coldly dissect an au- 
thor whom I so heartily admire." 

Woodbury smiled very, very slightly, but her quick eye 
caught and retained his meaning. "Then I will not dissect 
him for yon," he said ; " though I think you would find a 
pleasure in the exercise of the critical faculty, to counter- 
balance the loss of an indiscriminate admiration. I speak for 
myself, however. I cannot be content until I ascertain the 
real value of a man and his works, though a hundred pleasant 1 
illusions are wrecked in the process. I am slow to acknowl- 
edge or worship greatness, since I have seen the stuff of which 
many idols are composed. The nearer an author seems to re- 
flect my own views, the more suspicious I am, at first, of his 
influence upon me. A man who knows how to see, to think, 
and to judge, though he may possess but an average intellect, 



110 HANNAH THTJKSTON I 

is able to get at all important truths himself, without taking 
them at second-hand." 

There was no assumption of superiority not the slightest 
trace of intellectual arrogance in Woodbury's manner. He 
spoke with the simple frankness of a man who was utterly un- 
conscious that he was dealing crushing blows on the mental 
habits of his listener not seeming to recognize, even, that 
they were different from his own. This calmness, so unlike 
the heat and zeal with which other men were accustomed to 
discuss questions with her, disconcerted and silenced Hannah 
Thurston. He never singled out any single assertion of hers 
as a subject of^dispute, but left it to be quietly overwhelmed 
in the general drift of his words. It was a species of mental 
antagonism for which she was not prepared. To her mother, 
who judged men more or less by that compound of snow and 
fire who had been her husband, Woodbury's manner was ex- 
ceedingly grateful. She perceived, as her daughter did not, 
the different mental complexion of the sexes ; and moreover, 
she now recognized, in him, a man with courage enough to 
know the world without bitterness of heart. 

"I thank thee," said she, as he rose to leave with an apology 
for the length of his stay ; '* I have enjoyed thy visit. Come 
again, some time, if thee finds it pleasant to do so. I see thee 
can take a friendly word in a friendly way, and thee may be 
sure that I won't judge thy intentions wrongly, where I am 
led to think differently." 

"Thank you, Friend Thurston: it is only in differing, that 
we learn. I hope to see you again." He took the widow's 
offered hand, bowed to Hannah, and left the room. 

" Mother !" exclaimed the latter, as she heard the outei 
door close behind him, "why did thee ask him to come 
again ?" 

" Why, Hannah ! Thee surprises me. It is right to bear 
testimony, but we are not required to carry it so far as that. 
Has thee heard any thing against his character ?" 

" No, mother : he is said to be upright and honorable, but I 



A STORY OP AMERICAN LIFE. Ill 

do not like to be obliged to him for kindnesses, when he, 
no doubt, thinks my condemnation of his habits impertinent, 
when, I know, he despises and sneers at my views!" 

u Hannah'," said the mother, gravely, "I think thee does him 
injustice. He is not the man to despise thee, or any one who 
thinks earnestly and labors faithfully, even in a cause he cannot 
appreciate. We two women, living alone here, or only seeing 
the men who are with us in sympathy, must not be too hasty 
to judge. Is thee not, in this way, committing the very fault 
of which thee accuses him ?" 

" Perhaps so," said Hannah: "I doubt whether I know what 
is true." She sank wearily into a chair. The volume Wood- 
bury left behind, caught her eye. Taking it up, she turned 
over the leaves listlessly, but soon succumbed to the tempta- 
tion and read read until the fairy pictures of the Indian 
moonlight grew around her, as the Cloud sailed on, over jun- 
gle and pagoda, and the dance of maidens on the marble ter- 
races. 

Meanwhile, Woodbury having transacted his business and 
Bute Wilson his, the two were making preparations to return 
to Lakeside, when a plump figure, crossing the beaten snow- 
track in front of the Ptolemy House, approached them. Even 
before the thick green veil was thrown back, Woodbury recog- 
nized the fat hand which withdrew itself from a worn chinchil- 
la muff, as the hand of Mrs. Waldo. Presently her round dark 
eyes shone full upon him, and he heard what everybody in 
Ptolemy liked to hear the subdued trumpet of her voice. 

" Just in time to catch you !" she laughed. " How do you 
do, Bute ? Will you call at the parsonage, Mr. Woodbury ? 
]STo ? Then I must give you my message in the open street. 
Is anybody near ? You must know it's a secret." After hav- 
ing said this in a loud tone, she lowered her. voice : " Well, I 
don't mind Bute knowing it : Bute is not a leaky .pitcher, I'm 
sure." 

" I reckon Mr. Max knows that," said Arbutus, with a broad 
laugh dancing in his blue eyes. 



112 HANNAH THURSTON I 

" What is it ? Another fair for the Cimmerians ? Or is 
Miss Eliza Clancy engaged to a missionary?" asked Woodbury. 

" Be silent, that you may hear. If it were not for my feet 
getting cold, I would be a quarter of an hour telling you. But 
I must hurry there's Mrs. Bue coming out of her yard, and 
she scents a secret a mile oif. Well it's to be at Merryfield's 
on Saturday evening. You must be sure to come." 

" What the Sewing Union ?" 

" Bless me ! I forgot. No Dyce is to be there." 

" Dyce ?" 

" Yes. They don't want it to be generally known, as so many 
would go out of mere curiosity. I must say, betAveen us, that 
is my only reason. Neither you nor I have any faith in it ; but 
Mrs. Merryfield says she w r ill be glad if you can come." 

"First tell me who Dyce is, and what is to be done," said 
Woodbury, not a little surprised. The expression thereof 
was instantly transferred to Mrs. Waldo's face. 

"Well to be. sure, you're as ignorant as a foreigner. Bute 
knows, I'll be bound. Tell him, Bute, on the way home. 
Good-by! How do you do, Mrs. Bue? I was just telling 
Mr. Woodbury that the vessel for Madras" and the remainder 
of the sentence was lost in the noise of the departing bells. 

"Dyce is what they call a Mejum," explained Bute, as they 
dashed out on the Anacreon road : " Merryfields believe in it. 
I was there once't when they made the dinner-table jump like 
a wild colt Then there's sperut-raps, as they call 'em, but 
it's not o' much account what they say. One of 'em spoke to 
me, lettin' on to be my father. ' Arbutus,' says he (they spelt 
it out), 'I'm in the third spere, along with Jane.' Ha! ha! 
and my mother's name was Margaretta! But you'd better 
see it for yourself, Mr. Max. Seein' 's believin', they say, 
but you won't believe niore'n you've a mind to, after all." 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 113 



CHAPTER IX. 

SPIRITUAL AND OTHER* RAPPINGS. 

HAD the invitation to a spiritual seance been given by any 
one but Mrs. Waldo, Woodbury would probably have felt lit- 
tle inclination to attend. The Merryfields alone, with their 
ambitious sentiment and negative intellect, were beginning to 
be tiresome acquaintances, now that the revival of old memo- 
ries was exhausted ; but the warm heart and sound brain of 
that one woman made any society tolerable. His thoughts re- 
verted to Hannah Thurston : would she be there ? Of course : 
was his mental reply yet she certainly could not share in the 
abominable delusion. Why not, after all ? Her quick, eager 
intelligence, too proud and self-reliant to be restrained by tra- 
ditional theories, too unbalanced, from the want of contact 
with equal minds, too easily moved by the mere utterance 
of attractive sentiment, was it not, rather, the soil in which 
these delusions grew strong and dangerous ? He would go 
and see. 

Nevertheless, he was conscious of a feeling of reluctance, al- 
most of shame at his own curiosity, as he left Lakeside. The 
night was overcast, with a raw, moaning wind in the tree-tops, 
and Bute was forced to drive slowly, feeling rather than seeing 
the beaten tracks. This employment, with the necessary re- 
marks to the old horse Dick, fully occupied his attention. 
Finally, however, he broke silence with: 

" I s'pose they'll have Absalom up to-night ?" 

" What ! Do they go so far as that ? Can they really be- 
lieve it ?" Woodbury asked. 

"They jest do. They want to b'lieve it, and it comes easy. 



114 HANNAH 

If brains was to be ground, between you .and me, neither of 
'em would bring much grist to the mill. I don't wonder at 
her so much, for she set a good deal of store by Absalom, and 
't seems natural, you know, for women to have notions o' that 
kind." 

"Are there many persons in Ptolemy who believe in such 
things ?" 

" Well I don't hardly think there be. Leastways, they 
don't let on. There's Seth Wattles, o' course : he's fool enough 
for any thing ; and I guess Lawyer Tanner. Ever sence Mr. 
Styles preached ag'in 'em, it a'n't considered jist respectable. 
Infidel-like, you know." 

Woodbury laughed. "Well, Bute," said he, "we shall 
hardly find Mr. Waldo there to-night, if that is the case." 

"He'll be there, Mr. Max, if she is. She'll bring him clear, 
no matter what folks says. Miss Waldo's a wife worth hav- 
in' not but what he's got considerable grit, too. He's not 
strong at revivals, but he's a good hand at holdin' together all 
he gits." 

As they drove up the lane to Merryfield's farm-house, all was 
dark and silent. The shutters were closed, and there was no 
appearance of other visitors having arrived. At the noise of 
the bells, however, the door opened, and the owner, after sum- 
moning his hired man from the kitchen, to assist Bute in tak- 
ing charge of the horse, waited until Woodbury approached, 
in order to help him oif with his overcoat. "They are all 
here that are likely to come," he announced in a whisper. 

James Merry field was a man of fifty, or a little more, in 
whom the desire to be a reformer had been excited long after 
he had reached his maturity as a simple, unpretending farmer. 
The fictitious character but imperfectly overlaid the natural 
one, giving him an uncertain, hesitating air. Indeed, with all 
his assertion and self-gratulation, he never could overcome a 
secret doubt of his ability to play the new part. But he was 
honest and sincerely conscientious, and a more prominent posi- 
tion than he would have assumed, of his own choice, was 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 115 

forced upon him by his friends. He possessed a comfortable 
property, and they were well aware of the advantage of being 
represented by men with bases. 

His frame had been soundly developed, not over-worn, by 
labor in his own fields, yet he was awkward, almost shambling, 
in his movements. His head was usually held on the left side, 
and a straight line dropped from the centre of his brow would 
not nearly have coincided with the axis of his nose. The large, 
irregular mouth expressed both the honesty and the weakness 
of the man. His voice, always nasal, rose into a shrill, decla- 
matory monotone when he became excited a key which he 
continually let drop, and again resumed, in disagreeable fluc- 
tuations. Thus Woodbury, while heartily respecting his char- 
acter, found much of his society tiresome. 

His wife, Sarah, who was six or seven years younger, was 
one of those women, who, without the power of thinking for 
themselves, have, nevertheless, a singular faculty for accepting 
the thoughts and conclusions of others. She was entirely de- 
pendent on two or three chosen leaders in the various "Re- 
forms," without the slightest suspicion of her mental serfdom. 
Every new phase of their opinions she appropriated, and 
reproduced as triumphantly as if it had been an original dis- 
covery. She had, .in fact, no intellectual quality except a tol- 
erable fluency of speech. This, alone, gave her some consider- 
ation in her special circle, and kept her hesitating husband in 
the background. Both had been touched by the Hand of Pro- 
gress, rather too late for their equilibrium. They had reached 
the transition state, it is true, but were doomed never to pass 
through it, and attain that repose which is as possible to shal- 
low as to deep waters. 

In person she was thin, but not tall, with a face expressive 
of passive amiability, slightly relieved by dyspepsia. The pale, 
unhealthy color of her skin, the dulness of her eyes, and the 
lustreless hue of her thin, reddish-brown hair, hinted at a sys- 
tem hopelessly disordered by dietetic experiments. Her chil- 
dren had all died young, with the exception of Absalom, who 



116 HANNAH THUKSTON : 

had barely reached manhood, when the care of -his health, as 
Bute said, proved too great a burden to him. 

Woodbury was ushered, not into the parlor, but into the 
room ordinarily occupied by the family. A single candle was 
burning on the table, dimly lighting the apartment. Mrs. 
Merryfield carne forward to receive her guest, followed by Mrs. 
Waldo, who said, with unusual gravity : " You are in time 
we were just about to commence." 

Seated around the table were Hannah Thurston, Mr. Waldo, 
Seth Wattles, Tanner, the lawyer, and a cadaverous stranger, 
who could be no other than Mr. Dyce. A motion of his hand 
dissuaded the company from rising, and they gravely bowed 
to Woodbury without speaking. Mr. Dyce, after a rapid 
glance at the new-comer, fixed his eyes upon the table. He 
was a middle-aged man, broad-shouldered but spare, with long, 
dark hair, sunken cheeks, and eyes in which smouldered some 
powerful, uncanny magnetic force. 

After Woodbury had taken his seat at the table, and Mr. 
Merryfield had closed .the door, the medium spoke, in a low 
but strong voice : 

"Take away the candle." 

It was placed upon a small stand, in a corner of the room. 
" Shall I put it out ?" asked the host. 

Mr. Dyce shook his head. 

Presently a succession of sharp, crackling raps was heard, as 
if made on the under surface of the table. They wandered 
about, now fainter, now stronger, for a few moments, and then 
approached Mrs. Merryfield. 

" It's Absalom !" she cried, the yearning of a mother's heart 
overleaping the course of experiment. " What has he to say 
to-night?" 

" Will the spirit communicate through the alphabet ?" asked 
the medium. 

Three raps" Yes." 

Lettered cards were laid upon the table, and the medium, 
commencing at A, touched them in succession until a rap an- 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 117 

noiiDced the correct letter. This was written, and the process 
repeated until the entire communication was obtained. 

" / have been teaching my sisters. They are waiting for 
me on the steps of the temple. Good-night, mother T was 
Absalom's message. 

" How beautiful !" exclaimed Seth Wattles. " The temple 
must mean the future life, and the steps are the successive 
spheres. Will any spirit communicate with me ?" 

The raps ceased. Mr. Dyce raised his head, looked .around 
with his glow-worm eyes, and asked : " Does any one desire 
to speak with a relative or friend ? Does any one feel im- 
pressed with the presence of a spirit?" His glance rested on 
Hannah Thurston. 

" I would like to ask," said she, as the others remained si- 
lent, u \Vhether the person whose name is in my mind, has any 
message for me." 

Alter a pause, the medium shuddered, stretched out his 
hands upon the table, with the fingers rigidly crooked, lifted 
his head, and fixed his eyes on vacancy. His lips scarcely 
seemed to move, but a faint, feminine voice came from his 
throat. 

" lam in a distant sphere" it said, " engaged in the labors 
I began while on earth. I bear a new name, for the promise 
of that which I once had is fulfilled" 

Hannah Thurston said nothing. She seemed to be ponder- 
ing the meaning of what she had heard. Mrs. Waldo turned 
to Woodbury, with a face which so distinctly said to him, 
without words: "It's awful!" that he answered her, in a 
similar way : " Don't be afraid !" 

" Will you ask a question, Mr. Woodbury ?" said the 
host. 

"I have no objection," he said, in a serious tone, "to select 
a name, as Miss Thurston has done, and let the answer test 
from what spirit it conies." 

After a rapid glance at the speaker, the medium pushed 
pencil and paper across the table, saying : " Write the name, 



118 HANNAH THTTKSTON: 

fold the paper so that no one can see it, and hold it in your 
hand." He then placed one elbow on the table, and covered 
his face with his hand, the fingers slightly separated. 

Woodbury wrote a long name, it seemed to be and 
folded the paper as directed. Some wandering, uncertain 
raps followed. Communication by means of the alphabet 
was proposed to the spirit, without a response. After a 
sufficient pause to denote refusal, the raps commenced 
again. 

Mr. Dyce shuddered several times, but no sound 'proceeded 
from his mouth. Suddenly turning towards Woodbury with 
set eyes, and pointing his finger, he exclaimed : " He is stand 
ing behind you !" 

The others, startled, looked towards the point indicated, and 
even Woodbury involuntarily turned his head. 

" I see him," continued the medium " a dark man, not of 
our race. He wears a splendid head-dress, and ornaments of 
gold. His eyes are sad and his lips are closed : he is permit- 
ted to show his presence, but not to speak to you. Now he 
raises both hands to his forehead, and disappears." 

" Who was it ?" asked Mrs. Waldo, eagerly. 

Woodbury silently unfolded the paper, and handed it to her. 
Even Mr. Dyce could not entirely conceal his curiosity to hear 
the name. 

" What is this !" said she. "I can scarcely read it : Bab 
Baboo Rugbutty Churn Chuckerbutty ! It is certainly no- 
body's name!" 

" It is the actual name of an acquaintance of mine, in Cal- 
cutta," Woodbury answered. 

" A Hindoo !" exclaimed Mr. Dyce, with a triumphant air - 
" that accounts for his inability to use the alphabet." 

" I do not see. why it should," rejoined Woodbury, "unless 
he has forgotten his English since I left India." 

" He did speak English, then ?" several asked. 

" Did, and still does, I presume. At least, he was not dead, 
three months ago," he answered, so quietly and gravely that 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 119 

none of the company (except, perhaps, the medium) supposed 
that a trick had been intended. 

" Not dead !" some one exclaimed, in great amazement. 
" Why did you summon him ?" 

"Because I did not wish to evoke any friend or relative 
whom I have lost, and I had a curiosity to ascertain whether 
the spirits of the living could be summoned, as well as those 
of the dead." 

There was a blank silence for a few moments. Only Bute, 
who had stolen into the room and taken a quiet seat in one 
corner, with his eyes wide open, gave an audible chuckle. 

Mr. Dyce, who had concealed a malignant expression under 
his hand, now lifted a serene face, and said, in a solemn voice : 
"The living, as we call them, cannot usurp the powers and 
privileges of those who have entered on the spiritual life. The 
spirit, whose name was written, has either left the earth, or 
that of another, unconsciously present in the gentleman's mind, 
has presented itself." 

The believers brightened up. How simple was the explana- 
tion ! The mere act of writing the name of one Hindoo had 
recalled others to Mr. Woodbury's memory, and his thoughts 
must have dwelt, en passant, probably without his being in 
the least aware of it, so rapid is mental action, on some other 
Hindoo friend, long since engaged in climbing the successive 
spheres. In vain did he protest against having received even 
a flying visit from the recollection of any such person. Seth 
Wattles triumphantly asked: "Are you always aware of 
every thing that passes through your mind ?" 

Mrs. Merryfield repeated a question she had heard the week 
before : " Can you always pick up the links by which you pass 
from one thought to another ?" 

Her husband modestly thrust in a suggestion: "Perhaps 
your friend Chuckerchurn is now among the spirits, as it 
were." 

Mr. Dyce, who had been leaning forward, with his arms un- 
der the table, during these remarks, suddenly lifted his head, 



120 HANNAH THURSTOX : 

exclaiming : " He has come back !" which produced a momen- 
tary silence. "Yes I cannot refuse you!" he added, as if 
addressing the spirit, and then started violently from his seat, 
twisting his left arm as if it had received a severe blow. He 
drew up his coat-sleeve, which was broad and loose, then the 
sleeve of his shirt, and displayed a sallow arm, upon the skin 
of which were some red marks, somewhat resembling the let- 
ters "R. R." In a few moments, however, the marks faded 
away. 

" His initials ! Who can it be ?" said Seth. 

"Rammohun Roy!" said Hannah Thurston, betrayed, as it 
almost seemed, into a temporary belief in the reality of the 
visitation. 

" I assure you," Woodbury answered, " that nothing was 
further from my thoughts than the name of Rammohun Roy, 
a person whom I never saw. If I wished to be convinced 
that these phenomena proceed from spirits, I should select some 
one who could give me satisfactory evidence of his identity." 

" The skeptical will not believe, though one came from 
heaven to convince them," remarked the medium, in a hollow 
tone. 

There was an awkward silence. 

" My friends, do not disturb the atmosphere !" cried Mr. 
Merryfield ; " I hope we shall have further manifestations." 

A loud rap on the table near him seemed to be intended as a 
reply. 

Mr. Dyce's hand, after a few nervous jerks, seized the pen- 
cil, and wrote rapidly on a sheet of paper. After completing 
the message and appending the signature to the bottom^ ho 
heaved a deep sigh and fell back in his chair. 

Mr. Merryfield eagerly grasped the paper. "Ah !" said he, 
" it is my friend !" and read the following : 

" Be ye not weak of vision to perceive the coming triumph 
of TruiJi. Even though she creep like a tortoise in the race, 
while Error leaps like a hare, yet shall she first reach the goal. 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 121 

The light from the spirit-ioorld is only beginning to dawn up- 
on the night of Earth. When the sun shall rise, only the owls 
and bats among men will be blind to its rays. Then the per- 
fect day of Liberty shall Jill the sky, and even the spheres of 
spirits be gladdened by reflections from the realm of mortals ! 

" BENJAMIN LUNDY." 

In spite of certain inaccuracies in the spelling of this mes- 
sage, the reader's face brightened with satisfaction. " There !" 
he exclaimed " there is a genuine test ! No one but the 
spirit of Lundy, as it were, could have written those words." 

" Why not ?" asked Woodbury. 

" Why why the foot of Hercules sticks out !" said Mr. 
Merryfield, falling, in his confusion, from the lofty strain. 
" You never knowed the sainted Lundy, the purest and most 
beautiful spirit of this age. Those are his very yes, he would 
make the same expressions, as it were, if his voice could, if 
he were still in the flesh." 

Woodbury's eyes, mechanically, wandered to Mrs. Waldo 
and Hannah Thurston. The former preserved a grave face, 
but a smile, perceptible to him alone, lurked at the bottom of 
her eyes. The latter, too earnest in all things to disguise the 
expression of her most fleeting emotions, looked annoyed and 
uneasy. Woodbury determined to take no further part in the 
proceedings a mental conclusion which Mr. Dyce was suffi- 
ciently clairvoyant to feel, and which relieved while it discon- 
certed him. 

Various other spirits announced their presence, but their 
communications became somewhat incoherent, and the semi- 
believers present were not strengthened by the evening's ex- 
periments. Mr. Waldo, in answer to a mental question, re- 
ceived the following message : 

" I will not say that my mind dwelt too strongly on the 
symbols by which Faith is expressed, for through symbols the 
Truth was made clear to me. There are many paths, but then 
all have the same ending" 



122 HANNAH THUESTON : 

" There can be no doubt of that. Are you not satisfied ?" 
asked Seth Wattles. 

" Not quite. I had expected a different message from the 
spirit I selected," said Mr. Waldo. 

" Was it not Beza Cimmer ?" 

" No !" was the astonished reply : " I was thinking of a 
school-mate and friend, who took passage for the West Indies 
in a vessel that was never heard of afterwards." 

"We must not forget," said Mr. Dyce, "that our friends in 
the spirit-world still retain their independence. You may send 
for a neighbor to come and see you, and while you are waiting 
for him, another may unexpectedly step in. It is just so in our 
intercourse with spirits : we cannot control them. We cannot 
say to one : 'come!' and to another: 'go!' We must abide 
their pleasure, in faith and humility." 

Mr. Waldo said nothing, and made no further attempt at 
conversation with his lost school-mate. Seth Wattles summon- 
ed, in succession, the spirits of Socrates, Touissant L'Ouver- 
ture, and Mrs. Hemans, but neither of them was inclined to 
communicate with him. 

After a while, some one remarked: "Will they not more 
palpably manifest themselves ?" 

" We can try," said Mr. Dyce. 

Mr. Merryfield thereupon took the solitary candle into an ad- 
joining room. As the shutters were closed, the apartment was 
thus left in complete darkness. The guests kept their seats 
around the table, and it was specially enjoined upon them not 
to move. At the end of a few minutes rustling noises were 
heard, loud raps resounded on the table, which was several 
times violently lifted and let down, and blows were dealt at 
random by invisible hands. Those who were so fortunate as 
to be struck, communicated the news in a whisper to their 
neighbors. Presently, also, the little old-fashioned piano, 
standing on one side of the room, began to stir its rusty 
keys. After a few discordant attempts at chords, a sin- 
le hand appeared to be endeavoring to play "Days of 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. * 123 

Absence" the untuned keys making the melody still more 
dismal. 

It was enough to set one's teeth on edge, but Mrs. Merry- 
fie'd burst into tears. "Oh!" she cried, "it's Angelina her- 
self! She was taking lessons, and had just got that far when 
she died." 

The sounds ceased, and light was restored to the room. Mr. 
Dyce was leaning on the table, with his face in his hands. As 
he lifted his head, a large dark stain appeared under his right 
eye. 

" Why, what has happened to you ?" cried Merryfield. 
"Your eye is quite black!'' 

The medium, whose glance happened to fall upon his right 
hand, closed it so suddenly that the gesture would have at- 
tracted luotice, if he had not skilfully merged it into one of his 
convulsive shudders. A rapid flush came to his face, and pass- 
ed away, leaving it yellower than before. 

"The unfriendly spirits are unusually active to-night," he 
finally answered: "They are perhaps encouraged by the pres- 
ence of doubters or scoffers. I name no names. I received 
several severe blows while the light was removed, and feel ex- 
hausted by the struggles I have undergone. But it is noth- 
ing,! The spirit of Paracelsus will visit me to-night, and re- 
niove the traces of this attack. Had the atmosphere been 
pure, it could not have occurred. But some who are here 
present are yet incapable of receiving the Truth, and their 
presence clouds the divine light through which the highest 
manifestations are made." 

Woodbury was too much disgusted to answer. His eye fell 
upon Bute, who sat in the corner, with his large hand cover- 
ing his mouth, and his face scarlet. 

a I confess," said Mr. Waldo, turning to the medium, " that I 
am not convinced of the spiritual character of these phenomena. 
I do not profess to explain them, but neither can I explain 
much that I see in Nature, daily; and I do not perceive the 
necessity of referring them at once to supernatural causes. 



124 HANNAH THTJKSTON : 

By such an assumption, the spiritual world is degraded in our 
eyes, without, in ray opinion, any increase of positive truth, 
even if the assumption were correct. A man who is really so 
blind as to disbelieve in the future life, would not be converted 
by any thing we have seen here to-night ; while for us, who be- 
lieve, the phenomena are unnecessary." 

" What !" exclaimed Mr. Dyce. " You do not appreciate 
the divine utterances from the world of spirits ! You do not 
recognize the new and glorious Truths, the germs of a moro 
perfect Creed!" 

"I would prefer," the parson mildly answered, "not to hear 
the word 4 divine' so applied. No : to be entirely frank, I see 
nothing new, or even true, in comparison with the old, Eternal 
Truth." 

" But," interrupted Merryfield, desperately, seeing the bright 
assent on Hannah Thurston's face ; " do you not believe in 
Progress ? Have we, as it were, exhausted are we at the 
end of truth ?" 

" Most certainly I believe in the forward march of our race. 
We are still children in wisdom, and have much to learn. But 
let me ask, my friend, do you not believe that the future life is 
an immeasurable advance upon this ?" 

" Yes," said Merryfield. 

" Then," Mr. Waldo continued, " why is it that the profess- 
ed communications from great minds, such as Socrates, Luther, 
or the Apostles themselves, are below the expressions of even 
average human intellect ?" 

The believers stared at each other in dumb amazement. 
The coolness with which the parson took hold of and trampled 
upon their gems of superhuman wisdom, was like that of St. 
Boniface, when he laid the axe to the sacred Hessian oak. 
His hearers, like the Druids on that occasion, were passive, 
from the sheer impossibility of comprehending the sacrilege. 
Mr. Dyce shook his head and heaved a sigh of commiseration. 
Seth Wattles clasped his. hands, lifted his eyes, and muttered 
in a hoarse voice: "The* time will come." Mrs. Merryfield 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. ] 25 

was unable to recall any phrase that applied to the case, but 
wiped her eyes for the third time since the mysterious perfor- 
mance on the piano. 

Mrs. Waldo, however, looked at her husband with a smile 
which said to him : " I knew you could silence them whenever 
you choose to show your strength." Then, rising, she added, 
aloud : " Now the atmosphere is certainly disturbed. Let us 
come back to our present existence, which, after all, is very 
good, when one has health, friends, and a contented spirit." 

Mr. Merryfield whispered to his wife, who disappeared in 
the kitchen. " Don't go yet," he said to his guests, who 
had risen from the table ; " we must warm you, before you 
start." 

" Is it possible ? whiskey-punch ?" asked Woodbury, aside, 
of Mrs.^ Waldo. 

" Hush ! The very suggestion of. such a thing would ruin 
you, if it were known," she replied. 

At the end of 'a few minutes, Mrs. Merryfield reappeared, 
followed by a negro girl, who bore several steaming plates on 
a japanned tray. They proved to contain slices of mince-pie, 
rechauffe^, and rather palatable, although heavy, in the absence 
of brandy. Mrs. Merryfield, during the day, had seriously 
thought of entertaining her guests with coifee ; but as she was 
thoroughly convinced of the deleterious nature of the bever- 
age, she decided that it would be no less criminal to furnish it 
to others than if she drank it herself. Consequently they re- 
ceived, instead, glasses of hot lemonade, which, by an associa- 
tion of ideas, almost convinced Woodbury, in spite of himself, 
that he was suffering under an attack of influenza. 

Mr. Dyce, who adroitly managed to keep the left side of 
his face towards the candle, ate his portion with great relish. 
His spiritual office being ended for the day, he returned with 
avidity to the things of this world, and entered into a defence 
of animal food, addressed to Seth Wattles, who was inclined 
to be a Vegetarian. Indeed, the medium dropped hints unfa- 
vorable to the Temperance reform, which would have shocked 



126 HANNAH THUKSTON : 

some of his hearers, if he had not based them, like the most of 
his opinions, on spiritual communications. 

As the guests were putting on their coats and cloaks in the 
hall, Woodbury overheard Mrs. Waldo, furtively saying to her 
spouse : " I am so glad you spoke your mind." 

" I must thank you, also, Mr. Waldo," said Hannah Thurs- 
ton. " One should not too willingly accept any thing so new 
and strange. For the sake of the truth we already possess, 
it is right to be cautious " 

" And now it is my turn to thank you, Miss Thurston," re- 
joined Woodbury, gayly, as they went out into the cool night- 
air. 

She understood him. For one instant her habitual antago- 
nism asserted itself, but she conquered it by a strong effort. 
The night hid her face, and her voice was even-toned and 
sweet as ever, as she answered : " I am glad there is one point 
on which we can agree." 

" Oh, there are a great many, I assure you," he exclaimed, 
with a lightness which, she knew not why, struck her unpleas- 
antly: " If we could take away from your surplus of earnest 
ness, to complete my lack of it, we should get on very well 
together." 

" Can one be too much in earnest ?" she asked. 

" Decidedly. There are relative values in ethics, as in every 
thing else. You would not pull a pink with the same serious 
application of strength which you would use, to wind a bucket 
out of a well. But Mrs. Waldo waits: good-night!" 

He lifted her into the cutter, the horses started, and she was 
off before she had fairly time to consider what he meant. But 
the words were too singular to be forgotten. 

Bute now made his appearance, and Woodbury took his seat 
in the cutter beside him. Dick was another horse when his 
head was pointed towards home, and the bells danced to a 
lively measure as they passed up the valley in the face of the 
wind. The rising moon struggled through clouds, and but two 
or three stars were visible overhead. The night was weird 



A STOET OF AMERICAN LIFE. 127 

and sad, and in its presence the trials and the indulgencies of 
daylight became indistinct dreams. Woodbury recalled, with 
a feeling of intense repugnance, the occurrences of the even- 
ing. " Better," he said to himself, " a home for the soul with- 
in the volcanic rings of yonder barren moon, with no more than 
the privacy it may command in this life, than to be placed on 
the fairest star of the universe, and be held at the beck and 
call of every mean mind that darjes to juggle with sanc- 
tities." 

Plunged in these meditations, he did not at first notice the 
short, half-suppressed spirts of laughter into which Bute occa- 
sionally broke. The latter, at last, unable to enjoy his fun 
alone, said : 

"When you looked at me, Mr. Max., I thought I'd ha j 
bust. I never was so nigh givin' way in my life." 

"What was it ?" asked Woodbury. 

" Well, you musn't say nothin'. I done it." 

"You!" 

" Yes, ha ! ha ! But he's no idee who it was." 

" Did you strike him in the face, Bute ?" 

" Lord, no ! He done all the strikin' there was done to-night. 
I fixed it better 'n that. You see I suspicioned they'd git Ange- 
liny's spirut to playin' on the pyanna, like th' other time I was 
there. Thinks I, I've a notion how it's done, and if I'm right, 
it's easy to show it. So, afore comin' into the settin'-room, I 
jist went through the kitchen, and stood awhile on the hearth, 
to warm my feet, like. I run one arm up the chimbley, when 
nobody was lookin', and rubbed my hand full o' soft sut. 
Then I set in the corner, and held my arm behind me over the 
back o' the cheer, till the candle was took out. Now's the 
time, thinks I, and quick as wink I slips up to the pyanna I 
knowed if they'd heerd me they'd think it was a spirut and 
rubbed my sutty hand very quietly over the black keys. I 
didn't dare to bear on, but, thinks I, some '11 come oiF, and he '11 
be sure to git it on his hands. Do you see it, Mr. Max. ? 
When the light come back, there he was, solemn enough, with 



128 HANNAH THUESTON: 

a black eye, ha ! ha ! I couldn't git a sight of his hand, 
though ; he shet his fist and kep' it under the table." 

Woodbury at first laughed heartily, but his amusement soon 
gave place to indignation at the swindle. " Why did you not 
expose the fellow ?" he asked Bute. 

" Oh, what's the use ! Them that believes wouldn't believe 
any the less, if they'd seen him play the pyanna with their own 
eyes. I've no notion o' runnin' my head into a hornet's nest, 
and gittin' well stung, and no honey to show for my pains." 

With which sage observation Bute drove up to the door of 
Lakeside. 



A STOBY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 129 



CHAPTER X. 

IN WHICH WE HEAR A DIVERTING STOET. 

THE winter wore away, slowly to the inhabitants of Ptol- 
emy, rapidly and agreeably to the owner of Lakeside, who 
drank life, activity, and cheerfulness from the steady cold. 
Every clay, while the snow lasted, his cutter was to be seen on 
the roads. Dick proved entirely inadequate to his needs and 
was turned over to Bute's use, while the fastest horse out of 
Fairlamb's livery-stable in Ptolemy took his place. Wood- 
bury 1 s drives extended not only to Anacreon and the neighbor- 
ing village of Nero Corners a queer little place, stuck out of 
sight in a hollow of the upland, but frequently as far as Tibe- 
rius, which, being situated on a branch of the New York Cen- 
tral, considered itself quite metropolitan. The inhabitants took 
especial delight in its two principal streets, wherein the houses 
were jammed together as compactly as possible, and huge 
brick blocks, with cornices and window-caps of cast-iron, star- 
ted up pompously between one-story buildings of wood, saying 
to the country people, on market days : " Behold, a city !" 

The farmers around Ptolemy, who believe that every man 
born in a large town, and ignorant of either farming or some 
mechanical employment, must necessarily be soft, weak, and 
effeminate in his nature " spoiled," so far as true masculine 
grit is concerned were not a little astonished at Woodbr.ry's 
activity and powers of endurance. More than once some of 
them had met him, sheeted with snow and driving in the teeth 
of a furious north-eastern storm, yet singing merrily to himself 
as if na liked it all ! It was noticed, too, that a vigorous red 
was. driving away the tan of Indian summers from his cheeks, 
6* *" 



130 HANNAH THUKSTON: 

that a listless, indifferent expression, which at first made them 
say " he has sleepy eyes," had vanished from those organs, as 
if a veil had been withdrawn, leaving them clear and keen, 
with a cheerful, wide-awake nature looking out. Thus, 
although his habitual repose of manner remained, it no longer 
impressed the people as something foreign and uncomfortable ; 
and the general feeling towards him, in spite of the attacks of 
Mr. Grindle and the insinuations of Seth Wattles, was respect- 
ful and friendly. Bute, who was a confirmed favorite among 
the people, would suffer no word to be said against his master, 
and went so far as to take a respectable man by the throat, in 
the oyster-cellar under the Ptolemy House, for speaking of 
him as a " stuck-up aristocrat." 

That part of a man's life which springs from his physical 
temperament seemed, in Woodbury's case, to have stood still 
during his sojourn abroad. After the tropical torpidity of his 
system had been shaken off, he went back ten years in the 
sudden refreshment of his sensations. The delicate cuticle of 
youth, penetrated with the finer nerves which acknowledge 
every touch of maturing existence as a pleasure, was partially 
restored. The sadness engendered by hard experience, the 
scorn which the encounter with human meanness and selfish- 
ness left behind, the half contemptuous pity which the pride 
of shallow brains provoked these were features of his nature, 
which, impressed while it was yet plastic, were now too firmly 
set to be erased ; but they were overlaid for the time by the 
joyous rush of physical sensation. His manner lost that first 
gravity which suggested itself even in his most relaxed and 
playful moods ; he became gay, brilliant, and bantering, and 
was the life of the circles in which he moved. As the owner 
of Lakeside, all circles, of course, were open to him ; but he 
soon discovered the most congenial society and selected it, 
without regard to the distinctions which prevailed in Ptolemy. 
As no standard of merely social value was recognized, the 
little community was divided according to the wealth, or the 
religious views of its members ; whence arose those jealousies 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 131 

and rivalries which the Great Sewing-Union had for a time 
suppressed. Woodbury SOOQ perceived this fact, and deter- 
mined, at the start, to preserve his social independence. 
Neither of the circles could complain of being neglected, yet 
neither could claim exclusive possession of him. He took tea 
twice in one week with the Rev. Lemuel Styles, and the heart 
of Miss Legrand, the clergyman's sister-in-law, began to be 
agitated by a vague hope ; but, in a few days afterwards, he 
accompanied the Misses Smith (Seventh-day Baptists) on a 
sleighing party to Atauga City, and was seen, on the follow- 
ing Sunday, to enter the Cimmerian church. 

Between the Waldos and himself, a sincere friendship had 
grown up. The parson and his wife, possessed, in common 
with Woodbury, a basis of healthy common sense, which, in 
spite of the stubborn isolation of their sect, made them tole- 
rant. They had no idea of turning life into a debating-school, 
and could hear adverse opinions incidentally dropped, in the 
course of conversation, without considering that each word 
was thrown down as a gage of combat. Hence, Woodbury 
found no pleasanter house than theirs, in all his rounds, and the 
frank way in which he occasionally claimed their scanty hospi- 
tality was so much like that of a brother, that the parson de- 
clared to his wife, it expressed his idea of Christian society. I 
am afraid I shall injure Mr. Waldo's reputation, but I am 
bound to state that Woodbury was the last man whom he 
would have attempted to secure, as a proselyte. 

One evening in March, after the winter had begun to melt 
away on the long hill sweeping from the eastern valley around 
to Lakeside, a little party accidentally assembled in Mrs. 
Waldo's parlor. Since the proceeds of the Fair had enabled 
her to cover its walls with a cheap green paper, and to substitute 
a coarse carpet of the same color for the tattered thing which 
she had transferred to her bed-room, the apartment was vastly 
improved. The horse-hair sofa and chairs, it is true, had per- 
formed a great deal of service, but they were able to do it ; 
the sheet-iron stove gave out a comfortable warmth ; and the 



132 HANNAH THUKSTON I 

one treasure of the parsonage, a melodeon, which did the 
duty of an organ on Sundays, was in tolerable tune. Hannah 
Thurston contributed a vase of grasses, exquisitely arranged, 
which obliged Mrs. Waldo to buy a plaster bracket from an 
itinerant Italian. She could ill afford to spare the half-dollar 
which it cost and, indeed, most of the women in her 
husband's congregation shook their heads and murmured : 
" Vanity, vanity !" when they saw it but a little self-denial in 
her housekeeping, which no one else than herself ever knew, 
reconciled the deed to her conscience. Woodbury brought to 
her from New York an engraving of Ary Scheffer's " Christus 
Consolator," which not only gave her great delight, but was 
of service in a way she did not suspect. It hung opposite to 
the grasses, and thus thoroughly counterbalanced their pre- 
sumed " vanity," in the eyes of Cimmerian visitors. Indeed, 
they were not sure but a moral effect was intended, and this 
uncertainty stopped the remarks which might otherwise have 
spread far and wide. 

The party in Mrs. Waldo's parlor was assembled by acci- 
dent, we have said; but not entirely so. -Hannah Thurston 
had been invited to tea by the hostess, and Woodbury by Mr. 
Waldo, who had met him in the streets of Ptolemy. This 
coincidence was unintentional, although not unwelcome to the 
hosts, who, liking both their guests heartily, could not account 
for the evident prejudice of the one and the indifference of 
the other. Mrs. Waldo had long since given up, as insane, 
her first hope of seeing the two drawn together by mutual 
magnetism ; all she now desired was to establish an entente 
cordiale, since the entente $ amour could never be. On this 
occasion, the parties behaved towards each other with such 
thorough courtesy and propriety, that, had Hannah Thurston 
been any other woman, Mrs. Waldo would have suspected the 
existence of an undying enmity. 

After tea Mr. and Mrs. Merryfield made their appearance. 
They had come to Ptolemy to attend a lecture on Temperajace 
by Abiram Stokes, a noted orator of the cause, who, however, 



A STORY OP AMERICAN LIFE. 133 

failed to arrive. Seth Wattles presently followed, apparently 
by accident, but really by design. He had ascertained where 
Hannah intended to pass the evening, from the widow Tburs- 
ton's little servant-maid, whom he waylaid as she was coming 
out of the grocery-store, and did not scruple to thrust himself 
upon the company. His self-complacency was a little dis- 
turbed by the sight of Woodbury, whose discomfiture, during 
the evening, he mentally resolved to accomplish. 

His victim, however, was in an unusually cheerful mood, and 
every arrow which the indignant Seth shot, though feathered 
to the barb with insinuation, flew wide of the mark. Wood- 
bury joined in denunciation of the opium traffic ; he trampled 
on the vices of pride, hypocrisy, and selfishness ; he abhorred 
intemperance, hated oppression, and glorified liberty. But he 
continually brought the conversation back to its key-note of 
playful humor, cordially seconded by Mrs. Waldo, whose only 
fault, in the eyes of her reforming friends, was that she had 
no taste for serious discussion. Seth, finally, having exhausted 
his quiver, began to declaim against the corrupting influence 
of cities. 

" It is time that hackneyed superstition were given up," said 
Woodbury. " Everybody repeats, after poor old Cowper, 
' God made the country and man made the town ;' therefore, 
one is divine, and the other the opposite. As if God had no 
part in that human brain and those human affections, out of 
which spring Art, and Discovery, and the A'aried fabric of 
Society ! As if man had no part in making Nature attractive 
and enjoyable to us !" 

" Cities are created by the selfishness of man," cried Seth, a 
liUle pompously. 

"And farms, I suppose, are created entirely by benevo- 
lence!" retorted Woodbury, laughing. "You Reformer's 
have the least cause to complain of cities. You got your 
Temperance from Baltimore, and your Abolition from Bos- 
ton," 

"That proves nothing: there was one just man even in 



134 HANNAH THTJKSTON: 

Sodom !" exclaimed Seth, determined not to be put down 
" But, of course, people who think fashion more important 
than principle, will always admire a city life." 

" Yes, it is Fashion," added Mrs. Merryfield, who was un- 
usually dyspeptic that evening "it is Fashion that has im- 
peded the cause of woman. Fashion is the fetters which 
chains her down as the slave of man. How can she know her 
rights, when she is educated, as a child, to believe that Dress 
is her Doom ?" 

" If you were familiar with cities, Mrs. Merryfield," said 
Woodbury, " you would find that they admit of the nearest 
approach to social independence. Fashion is just as rigid in 
Ptolemy as it is in New York ; among the Hottentots or Dig- 
ger Indians, far more so. Not only that, but Fashion is 
actually necessary to keep us from falling into chaos. Suppose 
there were no such thing, and you and Mr. Merryfield lived in 
tents, dressed in oriental costume, while Mr. Waldo preached 
in feathers and war-paint, to Miss Thurston, in a complete suit 
of steel armor, Mr. Wattles with Chinese pig-tail and fan, and 
myself in bag- wig, powder, and ruffles !" 

The hearty laughter which followed this suggestion did not 
silence Seth. " It is not a subject for frivolity," he exclaimed ; 
" you cannot deny that Fashion corrupts the heart and de- 
stroys all the better impulses of human nature." 

" I do deny it," replied Woodbury, whose unusual patience 
was nearly exhausted. " All sweeping, undiscriminating asser- 
tions contain much that is both false and absurd, and yours is 
no exception. The foundation of character lies deeper than 
external customs. The honor of man, the virtue of woman, 
the pure humanity of both, is not affected by the cut or colors 
of their dress. If the race is so easily corrupted as one might 
infer from your assertions, how can you ever expect to suc- 
ceed with your plans of reform ?" 

"I should not expect it," interposed Mrs. Merryfield, "if I 
had to depend on the women that worships the Moloch of 
fashion. Why, if I was the noblest and wisest of my sex, 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 135 

they'd turn up their noses at me, unless I lived in Fifth 
Avenue." 

A sweet, serious smile, betraying that breath of dried roses 
which greets us as we open some forgotten volume of the 
past, stole over Woodbury's face. His voice, also, when 
he spoke, betrayed the change. Some memory, suddenly 
awakened, had banished the present controversy from his 
mind. -.-4. . 

" It is strange," said he, slowly, addressing Mrs. Waldo, 
rather than the speaker, " how a new life, like mine in India, 
can make one forget what has gone before it. In this mo- 
ment, a curious episode of my youth suddenly comes back to 
me, distinct as life, and I wonder how it could ever have been 
forgotten. Shall I give you a story in place of an argument, 
Mrs. Merryfield ? Perhaps it may answer for both. But if 
you can't accept it in that light, you may have the last word." 

" Pray tell us, by all means !" exclaimed Mrs. Waldo. 

Woodbury looked around. Hannah Thurston, meeting his 
questioning glance, silently nodded. Seth was sullen and gave 
no sign. Mrs. Merryfield answered, " I'd like to hear it, well 
enough, I'm sure," whereto her husband added : " So would 
I, as as it were." Thus encouraged, Woodbury began : 

" It happened after my father's death, and before I left New 
York for Calcutta. I was not quite twenty when he died, and 
his bankruptcy left me penniless, just at the time of life when 
such a condition is most painfully felt. In my case it was 
worse than usual, because so utterly unexpected, and my 
education had in no way prepared me to meet it. Every thing 
went : house, furniture, library, and even those domestic trifles 
which are hardest to part with. A few souvenirs of my 
mother were saved, and a friend of the family purchased and 
gave to me my father's watch. My brother-in-law was unable 
to help me, because he was greatly involved in the ruin. He 
sent my sister and their children to live in a cheap New Jer- 
sey village, while he undertook a journey to New Orleans, in 
the hope of retrieving his position by a lucky stroke of 



136 HA2TOAH THTJRSTCXN" I 

business. Thus, within a month after the funeral of ray 
father, I found myself alone, poor, and homeless. It was in 
1837, and the great financial crash was just beginning to 
thunder in men's ears. My father's friends were too much 
concerned about their own interests to care especially for 
mine. It, was no single case of misfortune : there were ex- 
amples equally hard, on all sides, very soon. 

" Nevertheless, I was not suffered to become a vagabond. 
A subordinate clerkship was procured for me, at a salary of 
two hundred and fifty dollars a year I was ignorant of 
business, for my father had intended that I should study Law, 
after completing my collegiate course, and the character of 
my mind was not well adapted for commercial life. The 
salary, small as it was, fully equalled the value of my services, 
and I should have made it suffice to meet my wants, if I had 
received it punctually. But my employer so narrowly escaped 
ruin during the crisis that he was often unable to pay me, or 
my fellow-clerks, our monthly wages, and I, who had no little 
hoard to draw upon, like the others, sometimes suffered the 
most painful embarrassment. I have frequently, this winter, 
heard the praises of a vegetable diet. I have some right to 
give my opinion on the subject, as I tried the experiment for 
two months at a time, and must say that it totally failed. 

" I was too proud to borrow money, at such times, and was, 
moreover, exceedingly sensitive lest my situation should become 
known. The boarding-house, where I first made my home, be- 
came uncomfortable, because I was not always ready with iny 
money on Saturday morning. Besides, it was a cheap place, kept 
by an old woman with two sentimental daughters, who wore 
their hair in curls and always smelt of sassafras soap. There were 
various reasons which you will understand, without my telling 
you, why my residence there grew at last to be insufferable. I 
accidentally discovered that the owner of a corner grocery in 
the Bowery had a vacant room over his store, with a separate 
entrance from the cross-street, and that he could supply me, at 
a cheap rent, with the most necessary furniture. The bargain 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 137 

was soon made. The room and furniture cost me a dollar a week, 
and my food could be regulated according to my means. The 
common eating-houses supplied me, now and then, with a meal, 
but I oftenest bought my bread at the baker's, and filled my 
pitcher from the hydrant in the back-yard. I was also so far 
independent that I could choose my associates, and regulate 
my personal habits. I assure you that I never washed my 
face with sassafras soap." 9 , 

Mrs. Waldo laughed heartily at this declaration, and Mrs. 
Merryfield innocently exclaimed: "Why, I'm sure it's very 
good for the skin." 

" Meanwhile," Woodbury continued, " I still kept up inter- 
course with the circle in which my father moved, and which, 
at that time, would have been called ' fashionable.' Some 
families, it is true, felt a restraint towards me which I was too 
sensitive not to discover. The daughters had evidently been 
warned against too great a display of sympathy. On the other 
hand, I made new and delightful acquaintances, of equal social 
standing, by whom I was treated with a delicacy and a gener- 
ous consideration which I shall never forget. In fact, what- 
ever Christian respect I may exhibit, in my intercourse with 
others, I learned from those families. You may know what 
they were, Mr. Waldo, by imagining how you would treat rne, 
now, if I should suddenly lose my property. 

" I had been living in this manner for a year, or thereabouts, 
when the main incident of my story occurred. In the circle 
where I was most intimate, there* were two or three wealthy 
bachelors, who had handsome residences in the neighborhood 
of Bleecker street (there was no Fifth Avenue then). These 
gentlemen had, in turn, given entertainments during the win- 
ter, arid had taken such pains to make them agreeable to the 
young ladies, that they constituted a feature of the season. 
The company was small and select, on these occasions, two or 
three married pairs being present for the- sake of propriety, 
but no society was ever more genial, joyous, and unconstrained 
in tone. At the last entertainment, our host finished by giving 



138 HANNAH THURSTON: 

us a choice supper, to which we sat down in order to enjoy it 
thoroughly. I have had a prejudice against all ambulatory 
suppers since. There were songs and toasts, and fun of the 
purest and most sparkling quality. At last, one of the young 
ladies said, with a mock despair: ' So, this is the end of our 
bachelor evenings. What a pity ! I am ready to wish that 
you other gentlemen had remained single, for our sakes. You 
know you cannot give us such delightful parties as this.' 

" ' Are there really no more bachelors ?' exclaimed Miss 
Remington, a tall, beautiful girl, who sat opposite to me^. 
' Must we sing : Lochaber no more ? But that will never do : 
some married man must retract his vow, for our sakes.' 

" One of the latter, looking around the table, answered : 
4 Let us be certain, first, that we are at the end of the list. 
Belknap, Moulton, Parks yes but stop ! there's Woodbury ! 
too modest to speak for himself.' 

" ' Woodbury ! Woodbury !' they all shouted, the young 
ladies insisting that I should and must entertain them in my 
turn. My heart came into my throat. I attempted to laugh 
off the idea as a jest, but they were too joyously excited to 
heed me. It was a cruel embarrassment, for none of the com- 
pany even knew where I lived. My letters were always sent 
to the office of my employer. Moreover, I had but five dol- 
lars, and had made a resolution never to live in advance of my 
wages. What was I to do ? The other guests, ignorant of 
my confusion, or not heeding it, were already talking of the 
entertainment as settled, and began to suggest the evening 
when it should take place. I was meditating, in a sort of des- 
peration, whether I should not spring up and rush out of the 
house, when I caught Miss Remington's eye. I saw that she 
understood my embarrassment, and wanted to help me. Her 
look said 'Accept!' a singular fancy darted through my 
mind, and I instantly regained my self-possession. I informed 
the company that I should be very happy to receive them, and 
that my entertainment should bear the same proportion to my 
means as that of our host. The invitations were given and 



A STOEY OP AMERICAN LIFE. 139 

accepted on the spot, and an evening selected from the follow- 
ing week. 

" 4 But where is it to be ?' asked one of the young ladies. 

" ' Oh, he will let you know in time,' said Miss Remington, 
who took occasion to whisper to me, before the company sepa- 
rated : ' Come to me first, and talk the matter over.' 

" I called upon her the next evening, and frankly confided 
to her my situation and means. She w#s three or four years 
older than myself, and possessed so much natural judgment 
and good sense, in addition to her social experience, that I had 
the utmost confidence in her advice. A woman of less tact 
would have offered to assist me, and that would have been an 
end of the matter. She saw at once what was best to be done, 
and we very soon agreed upon the preparations. Every thing 
was to be kept secret from the rest of the company, whom she 
determined to mystify to her heart's content. She informed 
them that the entertainment would be unlike any thing they 
had ever seen ; that the place was not to be divulged, but the 
guests were to assemble at her father's house on the appointed 
evening; and that they must so dress as to do the highest 
honor to my hospitality. The cariosity of all was greatly ex- 
cited ; the affair was whispered about, and others endeavored 
to join the party, but it was strictly confined to the original 
company. 

" On my part I was not idle. Adjoining my chamber was 
a large room, in which the grocer kept some of his stores. 
This room I thoroughly cleaned, removing some of the articles, 
but retaining all the kegs and boxes. The grocer, an honest, 
amiable man, supposed that I was preparing a little festival 
for some of my relatives, and gave me the free use of his ma- 
terial. I arranged the kegs and boxes around the walls, 
and covered them with coarse wrapping-paper, to serve as 
seats. The largest box was stationed in a corner, with a keg 
on the top, as a post for the single musician I had engaged 
an old Irish fiddler, whom I picked up in the street I went 
out towards Yorkville and brought home a bundle of cedar 



140 HANNAH THUESTON: 

boughs, with which I decorated the walls, constructing a large 
green word WELCOME above the fireplace. I borrowed 
twelve empty bottles in which I placed as many tallow candles, 
and disposed them about the room, on extemporized brackets. 
For my own chamber, which was designed to answer as a dres- 
sing-room for the ladies, I made candlesticks out of the largest 
turnips I could find in the market. In fact, I purposely remov- 
ed some little conveniences I possessed, and invented substi- 
tutes of the most grotesque kind. I became so much inte- 
rested in my preparations, and in speculating upon the effect 
they would produce, that I finally grew as impatient as my 
guests for the evening to arrive. 

" Nine o'clock was the hour appointed, and, punctually to the 
minute, five carriages turned out of the Bowery and drew up, 
one after another, at the side-door. I was at the entrance, in 
complete evening dress, with white gloves (washed), to receive 
my guests. I held a tray, upon which there were as many 
candles fixed in large turnips, as there were gentlemen in .the 
party, and begged each one to take a light and follow me. 
The ladies, magnificently dressed in silks and laces, rustled 
up the narrow staircase, too much amazed to speak. As I 
threw open the door of my saloon, the fiddler, perched near 
the ceiling, struck up ' Hail to the Chief.' The effect, I as- 
sure you, was imposing. Miss Remington shook hands with 
me, heartily, exclaiming : ' Admirable ! You could not have 
done better.' To be sure, there were some exclamations of 
surprise, and perhaps one or two blank faces but only for a 
moment. The fun was seen immediately, and the evening 
commenced with that delightful social abandon in which othei 
evenings generally end. The fiddler played a Scotch reel, and 
the couples took their places on the floor. Two of the older 
gentlemen were familiar with both the Scotch and Irish dances, 
and the younger ladies set about learning them with a spirit 
which charmed the old musician's heart. The superb silks 
floated about the room to the jolliest tunes, or rested, in the 
intervals, on the grocer's kegs, and once a string of pearls 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 141 

broke and rolled into the fireplace. After a while, the gro- 
cer's boy, in his shirt-sleeves, made his appearance with a large 
market-basket on his arm, containing a mixture of cakes, 
raisins, and almonds. He was in great demand, especially 
as I furnished no plates. It was then agreed to put the 
basket on a keg, as a permanent refreshment-table, and the boy 
brought in lemonade, in all kinds of drinking-vessels. I had 
taken some pains to have them all of different patterns. There 
were tin-cups, stoneware mugs, tea-cups, bowls, and even a 
cologne bottle. By this time all had fully entered into the 
spirit of the affair: I was not only at ease but jubilant. The 
old fiddler played incessantly. Miss Remington sang 'The 
Exile of Erin' to his accompaniment, and the old* man cried : 
we had speeches, toasts, recitations : we revived old games : 
we told fortunes with cards (borrowed from the porter-house 
across the way) : in short, there was no bound to the extent of 
our merriment, and no break in its flow. 

"It occurred to some one, at last, to look at his watch. 
* God bless me ! it's three o'clock !' he cried. Three ! and six 
hours had already passed away ! The ladies tore up my green 
word ' WELCOME,' to get sprigs of cedar as souvenirs of the 
evening : some even carried off the turnip-candlesticks. Miss 
Remington laughed in her sleeve at the latter. ' I know bet- 
ter than to do that,' she said to me ; ' turnips have a habit of 
rotting.' It was unanimously voted that I had given them 
the best entertainment of the season ; and I am sure, for my 
own part, that none had been so heartily enjoyed. 

" The story, as you may suppose, soon became known ; and 
it was only by sheer resolution that I escaped a social popu- 
larity which might have turned my head at that age. I was 
even asked to repeat the entertainment, so that others might 
have a chance to participate in it ; but I knew that its whole 
success lay in the spontaneous inspiration w r hich prompted, 
and the surprise which accompanied it. The incident, how- 
ever, proved to be one of the influences to which I must attri- 
bute my subsequent good fortune." 



142 HANNAH THUESTON: 

" Pray, how was that ?" asked Mr. Waldo. 

"My employer heard, in some way or other, that I had 
given a splendid entertainment. Knowing my means, and 
fearing that I had fallen into reckless habits, he called me into 
his private office and very seriously asked for an explana- 
tion of my conduct. I related the circumstances, precisely as 
they had occurred. He easily ascertained that my story was 
true, and from that day forward took an increased interest in 
me, to which I must attribute, in part, my rapid advancement. 
Now, if there is any moral in all this, I think you can easily 
find it. If there is not, perhaps you have been diverted 
enough to pardon me for talking so much about myself." 

" Why, it's delightful ! I never heard any thing better !" 
cried Mrs. Waldo. 

" It shows, though," interposed Mrs. Merryfield, " how in- 
consistent those fashionable women are. They can be coura- 
geous and independent for the sake of pleasure, but they'd be 
horrified at venturing so far for the sake of principle." 

"You are hardly just," said Hannah Thurston, addressing 
the last speaker ; " Mr. Woodbury's story has a moral, and I 
am very glad he has given it to us." 

Seth Wattles had been interested and amused, in spite of 
himself, but he was not the man to acknowledge it. He was 
endeavoring to find some point at which he might carp, with 
a show of reason, when Miss Carrie Dilworth entered the room, 
and presently Bute Wilson, who had driven from Lakeside to 
take Woodbury home. 

"Mr. Max.!" cried the latter, whose face had a flushed, 
strange expression, "Diamond won't stand alone, and I muse 
go out and hold him till you're ready." 

" I'll come at once, then," said Woodbury, and took leave 
of the company. 



A STOUT OF AMERICAN LIFE. 143 



CHAPTER XL 

CONTAINING TWO DECLARATIONS, AND THE ANSWERS THERETO. 

As Bute, on entering the village, passed the Widow Thurs- 
ton's cottage, he noticed a dim little figure emerging from the 
gate. Although the night was dark, and the figure was s^? 
muffled as to present no distinct outline, Bute's eyes were 
particularly sharp. Like the sculptor, he saw the statue in 
the shapeless block. Whether it was owing to a short jerk- 
ing swing in the gait, or an occasional sideward toss of what 
seemed to be the head, he probably did not reflect ; but he 
immediately drew the rein on Diamond, and called out " Miss 
Carrie !" 

" Ah !" proceeded from the figure, as it stopped, with a 
start ; " who is it ?" 

Bute cautiously drove near the plank sidewalk, before 
answering. Then he said : " It's me." 

" Oh, Bute," exclaimed Miss Dilworth, " how you fright- 
ened me ! Where did you come from ?" 

" From home. I'm a-goin' to fetch Mr. Max., but there's no 
hurry. I say, Miss Carrie, wouldn't you like to take a little 
sleigh-ride ? Where are you goin' to ?" 

" To Waldo's." 

" Why, so am I ! Jump in, and I'll take you along." 

Miss Dilworth, nothing loath, stepped from the edge of the 
sidewalk into the cutter, and took her seat. Bute experienced 
a singular feeling of comfort, at having the soft little body 
wedged so closely beside him, with the same wolf-skin spread 
over their mutual knees. His heart being on the side next 



144 HANNAH THURSTON: 

her, it presently sent a tingling warmth over his whole frame; 
the sense of her presence impressed him with a vague physical 
delight, and he regretted that the cutter was not so narrow as 
to oblige him to take her upon his knees. It was less than 
half a mile to the parsonage about two minutes, as Diamond 
trotted and then the doors of heaven would close upon him. 

" No I by Jimminy !" he suddenly exclaimed, turning 
around in the track, at the imminent risk of upsetting the 
cutter. 

" What's the matter ?" cried Miss Dilworth, a little alarmed 
at this unexpected manosuvre. 

" It isn't half a drive for you, Carrie," Bute replied. " The 
sleddin's prime, and I'll jist take a circuit up the creek, and 
across into the South Road. We'll go it in half an hour, and 
there's plenty of time." 

Miss Dilworth knew, better even than if he had tried to tell 
her, that Bute was proud and happy at having her beside 
him. Her vanity was agreeably ministered to ; she enjoyed 
sleighing ; and, moreover, where was the harm ? She would 
not have objected, on a pinch, to be driven through Ptolemy 
by Arbutus Wilson, in broad daylight ; and now it was too 
dark for either of them to be recognized. So she quietly 
submitted to what was, after all, not a hard fate. 

As they sped along merrily over the bottoms of East 
Atauga Creek, past the lonely, whispering elms, and the 
lines of ghostly alders fringing the stream, where the air 
struck their faces with a damp cold, the young lady shud- 
dered. She pressed a little more closely against Bute, as if 
to make sure of his presence, and said, in a low tone : " I 
should not like to be alone, here, at this hour." 

Poor Bute felt that the suspense of his heart was no longer 
to be borne. She had played with him, and he had allowed 
himself to be played with, long enough. He would ask a 
serious question and demand a serious answer. His resolution 
was fixed, yet. now that the moment had arrived, his tongue . 
seamed to become paralyzed. The words were in his mind, 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 145 

every one of them he had said them over to himself, a hun- 
dred times but there was a muzzle on his mouth which pre- 
vented their being put into sound. He looked at the panels 
of fence as they sped past, and thought, " so much more of 
the road has gone, and I have said nothing." 

Miss Dilworth's voice was like a palpable hand stretched 
out to draw him from that quagmire of silence. "Oh, 
Carrie!" he exclaimed, "you needn't be alone, anywheres 
leastways where there's any thing to skeer or hurt you." 

She understood him, and resumed her usual tactics, half- 
accepting, half-defensive. " We can't help being alone some- 
times, Bute," she answered, " and some are born to be alone 
always. Alone in spirit, you know; where there is no con- 
genial nature." 

" You're not one o' them, Carrie," said Bute, desperately. 
" You know you're not a genus. If you was, I shouldn't keer 
whether I had your good-will or not. But I want that, and 
more'n that, because I like you better than any thing in this 
world. I've hinted the same many a time, and you know it, 
and I don't want you to turn it off no longer." 

The earnestness of his voice caused Miss Dilworth to trem- 
ble. There was a power in the man which she feared she 
could not withstand. Still he had made no definite proposal, 
and she was not bound to answer more than his words literally 
indicated. 

" Why, of course I like you, Bute," said she ; " everybody 
does. And you've always been so kind and obliging towards 
me. 1 ' 

" Like ! I'd ruther you'd say hate than like. There's two 
kinds o' likin', and one of 'em's the kind that doesn't fit any- 
body that comes along. Every man, Carrie, that's wuth his 
salt, must find a woman to work for, and when he's nigh onto 
thirty, as I am, he wants to see a youngster growin' up, to 
take his place when he gits old. Otherways, no matter how 
lucky he is, there's not much comfort to him in livin'. Now, 
I'm. awful seiious about this. I don't care whether we're con* 
1 



146 HANNAH THTJRSTON : 

genial spirits, or not, but I want you, Carrie, for my wife. 
You may hunt far and wide, but you'll find nobody that'll 
keer for you as I will. Perhaps I don't talk quite as fine as 
some, but talkin's like the froth on the creek ; maybe it's 
shallow, and maybe it's deep, you can't tell. The heart's the 
main thing, and, thank God, I'm right there. Carrie, this 
once, jist this once, don't trifle with me." 

Bute's voice became soft and pleading, as he closed. Miss 
Dilworth was moved at last ; he had struck through her affec- 
ted sentimentalism, and touched the small bit of true womanly 
nature beneath it. But the impression was too sudden. She 
had not relinquished her ambitious yearnings ; she knew and 
valued Bute's fidelity, and, precisely for that reason, she felt 
secure in seeming to decline it. She would have it in reserve, 
in any case, and meanwhile, he was too cheerful and light- 
hearted to suffer much pain from the delay. Had he taken 
her in his arms, had he stormed her with endearing words, 
had he uttered even one sentence of the hackneyed sentiment 
in which she delighted, it would have been impossible to re- 
sist. But he sat silently waiting for her answer, while the 
horse slowly climbed the hill over which they must pass to 
reach the South Road ; and in that silence her vanity regained 
its strength. 

" Carrie?" he said, at last. 

"Bute?" 

" You don't answer me." 

" Oh, Bute !" said she, with a curious mixture of tenderness 
and coquetry, "I don't know how. I never thought you 
were more than half in earnest. And I'm not sure, after all, 
that we were meant for each other. I like you as well as I 
like anybody, but " 

Here she paused. 

" But you won't have me, I s'pose ?" said Bute, in a tone 
that was both bitter and sad. 

"I don't quite mean that," she answered. " But a woman 
has so much at stake, you know. She must love more than a 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 14? 

man, IVe been told, before she can give up her name and her 
life to him. I don't know, Bute, whether I should do right to 
promise myself to you. I've never thought of it seriously. 
Besides, you come upon me so sudden you frightened me a 
little, and I really don't exactly know what my own mind is." 

" Yes, I see," said Bute, in a stern voice. 

They had reached the top of the hill, and the long descent 
to Ptolemy lay before them. Bute drew the reins and held 
the horse to his best speed. Some inner prop of his strong 
brtast seemed to give way all at once. He took the thick 
end of his woollen scarf between his teeth and stifled the con- 
vulsive movements of his throat. Then a sensation of heat 
rushed through his brain, and the tears began to roll rapidly 
down his cheeks. He was grateful for the darkness which hid 
his face, for the bells which drowned his labored breathing, 
and for the descent which shortened the rest of the drive. He 
said nothing more, and Miss Dil worth, in spite of herself, was 
awed by his silence. By the time they had reached the par- 
sonage he was tolerably calm, and the traces of his passion 
had disappeared from his face. 

Miss Dilworth lingered while he was fastening the horse. 
She felt, it must be confessed, very uneasy, and not guiltless of 
what had happened. She knew not how to interpret Bute's 
sudden silence. .It was probably anger, she thought, and 
she would therefore lay the first stone of a temple of recon- 
ciliation. She liked him too well to lose him wholly. 

" Good-night, Bute !" she said, holding out her hand : " you 
are not angry with me, are you ?'' 

" No," was his only answer, as he took her hand. There 
was no eager, tender pressure, as before, and the tone of his 
voice, to her ear, betrayed indifference, which was worse than 
anger. 

After Woodbury had taken leave, there was a general move- 
ment of departure. The sempstress had come to spend a few 
days with Mrs. Waldo, and did not intend returning; it was 
rather late, and the Merryfields took the nearest road home, so 



148 HANNAH THTJESTON : 

that Hannah Thurston must have walked back, alone, to her 
mother's cottage, had not Seth Wattles been there to escort her. 
Seth foresaw this duty, and inwardly rejoiced thereat. The 
absence of Woodbury restored his equanimity of temper, and 
he was as amiably disposed as was possible to his incoherent 
nature. He was not keen enough to perceive the strong relief 
into which his shapeless mind was thrown by the symmetry 
and balance of the man whom he hated that he lost ground, 
even in his own circle, not merely from the discomfiture of the 
moment, but far more from that unconscious comparison of the 
two which arose from permanent impressions. He was not 
aware of the powerful magnetism which social culture exer- 
cises, especially upon minds fitted, by their honest yearning 
after something better, to receive it themselves. 

Seth was therefore, without reason, satisfied with himself as 
he left the house. He had dared, at least, to face this self- 
constituted lion, and had found the animal more disposed to 
gambol than to bite. He flattered himself that his earnestness 
contrasted favorably with the levity whereby Woodbury had 
parried questions so important to the human race. Drawing 
a long breath, as of great relief, he exclaimed : 

" Life is real, life is earnest ! We feel it, under this sky : 
here the frivolous chatter of Society is hushed." 

Hannah Thurston took his proffered arm, conscious, as she 
did so, of a shudder of something very like repugnance. For 
the first time it struck her that she would rather hear the 
sparkling nothings of gay conversation than Sethis serious 
platitudes. She did not particularly desire his society, just 
now, and attempted to hasten her pace, under the pretext that 
the night was cold. 

Seth, however, hung back. " We do not enjoy the night as 
we ought," said he. " It elevates and expands the soul. It is 
the time for kindred souls to hold communion." 

" Scarcely out of doors, in winter, unless they are disembod- 
ied," remarked Miss Thurston. 

Seth was somewhat taken aback. He had not expected so 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 149 

light a tone from so grave and earnest a nature. It was un- 
usual with her, and reminded him, unpleasantly, of Wood- 
bury's frivolity. But he summoned new courage, and con- 
tinued : 

" We can say things at night for which we have no courage 
in daylight. We are more sincere, somehow less selfish, you 
know, and more affectionate." 

" There ought to be no such difference," said she, mechani- 
cally, and again hastening her steps. 

" I know there oughtn't. And I didn't mean that I wasn't 
as true as ever ; but but there are chosen times when our 
souls are uplifted and approach each other. This is such a 
time, Hannah. We seem to be nearer, and and " 

He could get no farther. The other word in his mind was 
too bold to be used at the outset. Besides, having taken one 
step, he must allow her to take the next : it would make the 
crisis easier "for both. But she only drew her cloak more 
closely around her, and said nothing. 

"The influences of night and other things," he resumed, 
"render us insensible to time and temperature. There is 
one thing, at least, which defies the elements. Is there not ?" 

"What is it?" she asked. 

"Can't you guess?" 

" Benevolence, no doubt, or a duty so stern and sacred that 
life itself is subordinate to its performance." 

"Yes, that's true but I mean something else!" Seth ex- 
claimed. " Something I feel, now, deep in my buzzum. Shall 
I unveil it to your gaze ?" 

"I have no right to ask or accept your confidence," she 
replied. 

"Yes, you have. One kindred soul has the right to demand 
every thing of the other. I might have -told you, long ago, 
but I waited so that you might find it out for yourself, with- 
out the necessity of words. Surely you must have seen it in my 
eyes, and heard it in my voice, because every thing powerful 
in us expresses itself somehow in spite of us. The deepest 



150 HAN1STAH THUESTON I 

emotions, you know, are silent; but you understand my silence 
now, don't you ?" 

Hannah Thurston was more annoyed than surprised by this 
declaration. She saw that a clear understanding could not be 
avoided, and nerved herself to meet it. Her feeling of repug- 
nance to the speaker increased with every word he uttered ; 
yet, if his passion were genuine (and she had no right to doubt 
that it was so), he was entitled at least to her respect and her 
pity. Still, he had spoken only in vague terms, and she could 
not answer the real question. Why? Did she not fully un- 
derstand him ? Was the shrinking sense of delicacy in her 
heart, which she was unable to overcome, a characteristic of 
sex, separating her nature, by an impassable gulf, from that of 
man ? 

" Please explain yourself clearly, Seth," she said, at last. 

" Oh, don't your own heart explain it for you ? Love don't 
want to be explained : it comes to us of itself. See here 
we've been laboring together ever so long in the Path of Pro- 
gress, and our souls are united in aspirations for the good of our 
fellow-men. All I want is, that we should now unite our lives 
in the great work. You know I believe in the equal rights of 
Woman, and would never think of subjecting you to the 
tyranny your sisters groan under. I have no objection to 
taking your name, if you want to make that sort of a protest 
against legal slavery. We'll both keep our independence, and 
show to the world the example of a true marriage. Somebody 
must begin, you know, as Charles Macky, the glorious poet of 
our cause, says in his Good Time Coming." 

" Seth," said Hannah Thurston, with a sad, deliberate sweet- 
ness in her voice, " there is one thing, without which there 
should be no union between man and woman." 

" What is that ?" he asked. 

"Love." 

" How ? I don't understand you. That is the very reason 
why " 

" You forget," she interrupted, " that love must be recipro- 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 151 

cal. You have taken it for granted that I returned, in equal 
measure, the feelings you have expressed towards me. Where 
the fortune of a life is concerned, it is best to be frank, though 
frankness give pain. Seth, I do not, I never can, give you 
love. A coincidence of opinions, of hopes and aspirations, is 
not love. I believe that you have made this mistake in your 
own mind, and that you will, sooner or later, thank me for 
having revealed it to you. I hav^e never suspected, in you, 
the existence of love in its holiest and profoundest meaning, 
nor have I given you reason to suppose that my sentiments 
towards you were other than those of friendly sympathy and 
good-will. I deeply regret it, if you have imagined otherwise. 
I cannot atone to you for the ruin of whatever hopes you may 
Iftlve cherished, but I can at least save you from disappoint- 
ment in the future. I tell you now, therefore, once and for- 
ever, that, whatever may happen, however our fates may 
change, you and I can never, never be husband and wife." 

Sweet and lo*v as was her voice, an inexorable fate spoke in 
it. Seth felt, word by word, its fatal significance, as the con- 
demned culprit feels the terrible phrases of his final sentence. 
He knew, instinctively, that it was vain to plead or expostulate. 
He must, perforce, accept his doom ; but, in doing so, his in- 
jured self-esteem made a violent protest. It was the fretful 
anger of disappointment, rather than the unselfish sorrow of 
love. He could only account for the fact of his refusal by the 
supposition that her affections were elsewhere bestowed. 

" I see how it is," said he, petulantly ; " somebody else is in 
the way." 

" Do not misunderstand me," she answered. " I, only, am 
responsible for your disappointment. You have no right to 
question me, and I might well allow your insinuation to pass 
without notice ; but my silence may possibly mislead you, as 
it seems my ordinary friendly regard has done. I will, there- 
fore, for my own sake no less than yours for I desire, in so 
solemn a matter, to leave no ground for self-reproach volun- 
tarily say to you, that I know no man to whom I could surren- 



152 HANNAH THURSTON : 

der my life in the unquestioning sacrifice of love. I have long 
since renounced the idea of marriage. My habits of thought 
the duties I have assumed my lack of youth and beauty, 
perhaps" (and here the measured sweetness of her voice was 
interrupted for a moment), " will never attract to me the man, 
unselfish enough to be just to my. sex, equally pure in his as- 
pirations, equally tender in his affections, and wiser in the 
richness of his experience, whom my heart would demand, if 
it dared still longer to cherish a hopeless dream. I have not 
even enough of an ideal love remaining, to justify your jeal- 
ousy. In my association with you for the advancement of 
mutual aims, as well as in our social intercourse, I have treated 
you with the kindly respect which was your due as a fellow- 
being, but I can never recognize in you that holy kinship TO 
the heart, without which Love is a mockery and Marriage is 
worse than death !" 

Seth felt it impossible to reply, although his self-esteem was 
cruelly wounded. She thought herself too good for him, then : 
that was it ! Why, the very man she had described, as the 
ideal husband she would never meet it was exactly himself! 
It was of no use, however, for him to say so. She had reject- 
ed him with a solemn decision, from which there was no ap- 
peal. He must, also, needs believe her other declaration, that 
she loved no one else. Her inordinate mental pride was the 
true explanation. 

They had stopped, during the foregoing conversation. Han- 
nah Thurston had dropped her hold on his arm, and stood, 
facing him, on the narrow sidewalk. The night was so dark 
that neither could distinctly see the other's face. A melan- 
choly wind hummed in the leafless twigs of the elms above 
them, and went off to sough among a neighboring group of 
pines. Finding that Seth made no answer, Miss Thurston 
slowly resumed Jier homeward walk. He mechanically ac- 
companied her. As they approached the widow's cottage, he 
heaved a long, hoarse sigh, and muttered : 

"Well, there's another aspiration deceived. It seems 



A STOEY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 153 

there's no quality of human nature which we can depend 
upon." 

" Do not let this disappointment make you unjust, Seth," 
she said, pausing, with her hand upon the gate. " You have 
deceived yourself, and it is far better to become reconciled to 
the truth at once. If I have ignorantly, in any way, assisted 
in the deception, I beg you to pardon me." 

'She turned to enter the cottage, but Seth still hesitated. 
" Hannah," he said at last, awkwardly : " You you won't say 
any thing about this ?" 

She moved away from him with an instant revulsion of feel- 
ing. " What do you take me for ?" she exclaimed. "Repeat 
that question to yourself, and perhaps it may explain to you 
why your nature and mine can never approach !" Without 
saying good-night, she entered the house, leaving Seth to wan- 
der back to his lodgings in a very uncomfortable frame of 
mind. 

Hannah Thurston found the lighted lamp waiting for her in 
the warm sitting-room ; her mother was already in bed. She 
took off her bonnet and cloak, and seated herself in the widow's 
rocking-chair. Tears of humiliation stood in her eyes. " He 
does not deserve," she said to herself, " that I should have 
opened my heart before him. I wanted to be just, for I thought 
that love, however imperfect or mistaken, was always at least 
delicate and reverent. I thought the advocacy of moral truth 
presupposed some nobility of soul that a nature which ac- 
cepted such truth could not be entirely low and mean. I have 
allowed a profane eye to look upon sanctities, and the very 
effort I made to be true and just impresses me with a sense of 
self-degradation. What must I do, to reconcile my instincts 
with the convictions of my mind ? Had I not suppressed the 
exhibition of my natural repugnance to that man, I should have 
been spared the pain of this evening spared the shrinking 
shudder which I must feel whenever the memory of it re- 
turns." 

Gradually her self-examination went deeper, and she con- 



154 HANNAH THUBSTON I 

fessed to herself that Seth's declaration of love was in itself her 
greatest humiliation. She had not told him the whole truth, 
though it had seemed to be so, when she spoke. She had not 
renounced the dream of her younger years. True, she had 
forcibly stifled it, trodden upon it with the feet of a stern 
resolution, hidden its ruins from sight in the remotest 
chamber of her heart but now it arose again, strong in its 
immortal life. Oh, to think who should have wooed her under 
the stars, in far other words and with far other answers the 
man whom every pulse of her being claimed and called upon, 
the man who never came ! In his stead this creature, whose 
love seemed to leave a stain behind it whose approach to 
her soul was that of an unclean footstep. Had it come to this ? 
Was he the only man whom the withheld treasures of her 
heart attracted towards her ? Did he, alone, suspect the 
splendor of passion which shone beneath the calmness and 
reserve of the presence she showed to the world ? 

It was a most bitter, most humiliating thought. With her 
head drooping wearily towards her breast, and her hands 
clasped in her lap, with unheeded tears streaming from her 
eyes, she sought refuge from this pain in that other pain of the 
imagined love that once seemed so near and lovely lovelier 
now, as she saw it through the mist of a gathering despair. 
Thus she sat, once more the helpless captive of her dreams, 
while the lamp burned low and the room grew cold. 



A STORY OP AMERICAN UFE. 155 



CHAPTER ^ XII. 

MOTHER AND DAUGHTER. 

THE morning came, late and dark, with a dreary March 
rain, the commencement of that revolutionary anarchy in the 
weather, through which the despotism of Winter is over- 
thrown, and the sweet republic of Spring established on the 
Earth. Even Woodbury, as he looked out on the writhing 
trees, the dripping roofs, and the fields of soggy, soaked snow., 
could not suppress a sigh of loneliness and yearning. Bute, 
whose disappointment, bitter though it was, failed to counter- 
act the lulling warmth of the blankets after his ride home 
against the wind, and who had therefore slept soundly all 
night, awoke to a sense of hollowness and wretchedness which 
he had never experienced before. His duties about the barn 
attended to, and breakfast over, he returned to his bedroom 
to make his usual Sunday toilet. Mr. Woodbury had decided 
not to go to church, and Bute, therefore, had nothing but his 
own thoughts, or the newspapers, to entertain him through the 
day. Having washed his neck and breast, put on the clean 
shirt which Mrs. Babb took care to have ready for him, and 
combed his yellow locks, he took a good look at himself in the 
little mirror. 

" I a'n't handsome, that's a fact," he thought to himself, 
"butnuther is she, for that matter. I've got good healthy 
blood in me, though, and if my face is sunburnt, it don't look 
like taller. I don't see why all the slab-sided, lantern-jawed, 
holler-breasted fellows should have no trouble o' gittin' wives, 
and me, of a darned sight better breed, though I do say it, to 



158 HANNAH THUESTON: 

have sich bad luck ! I can't stand it. I've got every thing 
here that a man could want, but 'ta'n't enough. O Lord ! to 
think her children should have somebody else than me for a 
father !" 

Bute groaned and threw himself on the bed, where he 
thrust both hands through his carefully combed hair. His 
strong masculine nature felt itself wronged, and the struggle 
was none the less severe, because it included no finer spiritual 
disappointment. He possessed only a true, honest, tender 
heart, as the guide to his instincts, and these, when baffled, 
suggested no revenge, such as might occur to a more reckless 
or more imaginative nature. His life had been blameless, 
heretofore, from the simple force of habit, and the pure atmos- 
phere in which he lived. To confess the truth, he was not 
particularly shocked by the grosser experiences of some of his 
friends, but to adopt them himself involved a change so vio- 
lent that he knew not where it might carry him. If the 
thought crossed his mind at all, it was dismissed without a 
moment's hospitality. He did not see, because he did not 
seek, any escape from the sore, weary, thirsty sensation which 
his disappointment left behind. The fibres of his nature, which 
were accustomed to give out a sharp, ringing, lusty twang to 
every touch of Life, were now muffled and deadened in tone : 
that was all. 

It might have been some consolation to Bute, if he could 
have known that his presumed rival was equally unfortunate. 
In the case of the latter, however, there was less of the p.ang 
of blighted hopes than of the spiteful bitterness of wounded 
vanity. Seth Wattles was accustomed to look upon himself, 
and not without grounds of self-justification, as an unusual 
man. The son of a poor laborer, orphaned at an early age, 
and taken in charge by a tailor of Ptolemy, who brought him 
up to his own business, he owed his education mostly to n 
quick ear and a ready tongue. His brain, though shallow, 
was active, its propelling power being his personal conceit ; but 
he was destitute of imagination, and hence his attempted 



A STOEY OP AMERICAN LIFE. 157 

flights of eloquence were often hopelessly confused and illogi- 
cal. The pioneer orators of Abolition and Temperance, ^ho 
visited Ptolemy, found in him a willing convert, and he was 
quick enough to see and to secure the social consideration 
which he had gained in the small community of " Reformers" 
an advantage which the conservative society of the village de- 
nied to him. Indeed, the abuse to which he was occasionally 
subjected, was in itself flattering ; for only men of importance, 
he thought, are thus persecuted. Among his associates, it was 
customary to judge men by no other standard than their views 
on the chosen reforms, and he, of course, stood among the 
highest. His cant, his presumption, his want of delicacy, 
were all overlooked, out of regard to an advocacy of " high 
moral truths," which was considered to be, and doubtless was, 
sincere. 

Let us not, therefore, judge the disappointed tailor too 
harshly. His weaknesses, indeed, were a part of his mental 
constitution, and could, under no circumstances, have been 
wholly cured ; but it was his own fault that they had so 
thoroughly usurped his nature. 

Whatever spiritual disturbance he might have experienced, 
on awaking next morning to the realities of the world, the 
woman who rejected him was much more deeply and painfully 
troubled. Years had passed since her heart had known so 
profound an agitation. She felt that the repose which she had 
only won after many struggles, had deceived herself. It was 
a false calm. The smooth mirror, wherein the sunshine and 
the stars saw themselves by turns, was only smooth so long 
as the south-wind failed to blow. One warm breath, coming 
over the hills from some far-off, unknown region, broke into 
fragments the steady images of her life. With a strange conflict 
of feeling, in which there was some joy and much humiliation, 
she said to herself: " I am not yet the mistress of my fate." 

She rose late, unrefreshed by her short, broken sleep, and 
uncheered by the dark, cold, and wet picture of the valley. It 
was one of those days when only a heart filled to the brim 



158 HANNAH THURSTON: 

with unmingled happiness can take delight in life when the 
simplest daily duties present themselves as weary tasks when 
every string we touch is out of tune, and every work at- 
tempted is one discord the more. Descending to the sitting- 
room, she found her mother in the rocking-chair, before a 
brisk fire, while the little servant-girl was busy, preparing 
the table for breakfast a work which Hannah herself usually 
performed. 

" Thee's rather late, Hannah," said the widow. " I thought 
thee might be tired, and might as well sleep, while Jane set 
the table. She must learn it some time, thee knows." 

" Pm obliged to thee, mother," the daughter replied. " I 
have not slept well, and have a little headache this morning. 
It is the weather, I think." 

" Now thee mentions it, I see that thee's quite pale. Jane, 
put two spoonfuls of tea in the pot ; or, stay, thee'd better 
bring it here and let me make it." 

Hannah had yielded to the dietetic ideas of her friends, so 
far as to give up the use of tea and coffee a step in which 
the widow was not able to follow her. A few months before, 
the former would have declined the proposal to break her 
habit of living, even on the plea of indisposition ; she would 
have resisted the natural craving for a stimulant or a sed- 
ative as something morbid; but now she was too listless, 
too careless of such minor questions, to refuse. The unac- 
customed beverage warmed and cheered her, and she rose 
from the table strengthened to resume her usual manner. 

" I thought it would do thee good," said the widow, noting 
the effect, slight as it was, with the quick eye of a mother. 
" I'm afraid, Hannah, thee carries thy notions about diet a 
little too far." 

" Perhaps thee's right, mother," was the answer. She had 
no inclination to commence a new discussion of one of the few 
subjects on which the two could not agree. 

After the house had been put in order for the day, prepa- 
rations made for the frugal dinner, and the servant-girl de- 




A STOJRY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 159 

spatched to tlie Cimmerian Church, Hannah took her usual 
seat by the window, saying : " Shall I read to thee, mother?" 

" If thee pleases." 

There was no Quaker Meeting nearer than Tiberius, and 
hence it had been the widow's custom, on "First-Days," 
to read, or hear her daughter read, from the classics of the 
sect. To Hannah, also, in spite of her partial emancipation, 
there was a great charm in the sweet simplicity and sincerity 
of the early Friends, and she read the writings of Fox, Bar- 
clay, Elwood, and William Penn, with a sense of refreshment 
and peace. To these were added some other works of a similar 
character, which the more cultivated Quakers have indorsed 
as being inspired by the true spirit Thomas A, Kempis, 
Jeremy Taylor, Madame Guyon, and Pascal. She now took 
the oft-read " No Cross, No Crown," of William Penn, the 
tone of which was always consoling to her ; but this time its 
sweet, serious utterances seemed to have lost their effect. 
She gave the words in her pure, distinct voice, and strove to 
take them into her mind and make them her own : in vain ! 
something interposed itself between .her and the familiar 
meaning, and made the task mechanical. The widow felt, by 
a sympathetic presentiment, rather than from any external 
evidence which she could detect, that her daughter's mind 
was in some way disturbed ; yet that respectful reserve which 
was habitual in this, as in most Quaker families, prevented 
her from prying into the nature of the trouble. If it was a 
serious concern, she thought to herself, Hannah would men- 
tion it voluntarily. There are spiritual anxieties and strug- 
gles, she knew, which must be solved in solitude. No one, 
not even a mother, should knock at the door of that chamber 
where the heart keeps its privacies, but patiently and silently 
wait until bidden to approach and enter. 

Nevertheless, after dinner, when the household order was 
again restored, and Hannah, looking from the window upon 
the drenched landscape, unconsciously breathed a long, weary 
sigh, Friend Thurston felt moved to speak. 



160 HANNAH THTTKSTON: 

" Hannah," she said, gravely and softly, " *,hee seems to 
have something on thy mind to-day." 

For a minute the daughter made no reply. Turning away 
from the window, she- looked upon her mother's worn, pale 
face, almost spectral in the cloudy light, and then took her 
accustomed seat. 

" Yes, mother," she answered, in a low voice, " and I ought 
to tell thee." 

" If thee feels so, tell me then. It may lighten thy own 
burden, without making mine heavier." 

"It is scarcely a burden, mother," said Hannah. "I know 
that I have done what is right, but I fear that I may have un- 
consciously brought it upon myself, when it might have been 
avoided." She then repeated the conversation which had 
taken place between Seth Wattles and herself, omitting only 
that secret, impassioned dream of her heart, a glimpse of 
which she had permitted to escape her. She did not dare to 
betray it a second time, and thus her own sense of humiliation 
was but half explained. 

Friend Thurston waited quietly until the story was finished. 
" Thee did right, Hannah," she said, after a pause, " and I do 
not think thee can justly reproach thyself for having given 
him encouragement. He is a very vain and ignorant man, 
though well-meaning. It is not right to hold prejudice 
against any one, but I don't mind telling thee that my feeling 
towards him comes very near being that. Thee never could 
be happy, Hannah, with a husband whom thee did not re- 
spect : nay, I mean something more whom thee did not feel 
was wiser and stronger than thyself." 

A transient flush passed over the daughter's face, but she 
made no reply. 

" Thee has a gift, I know," the widow continued, " and thee 
has learned much. There is a knowledge, though, that comes 
with experience of life, and though I feel my ignorance in 
many ways, compared to thy learning, there are some things 
which I am able to see more clearly than thee. It requires no 



A STOET OF AMERICAN LIFE. 161 

book-learning to read the heart, and there is less difference in 
the hearts of women than thee may suppose. We cannot be 
wholly independent of the men : we need their help and com- 
panionship : we acknowledge their power even while we 
resist it. There are defects in us which we find supplied in 
them, as we supply theirs where marriage is perfect and holy. 
But we cannot know this, except through our own experience. 
1 have agreed with thee in most of thy views about the rights 
of our sex, but thee never can be entirely wise on this subject 
so long as thee remains single. No, Hannah, thee won't 
think hard of me for saying it, but thee does not yet truly 
know either woman or man. I have often quietly wished that 
thee had not set thy heart against marriage. The Lord 
seems to have intended a mate for every one, so that none of 
His children should be left alone, and thee should not shut 
thy eyes against the signs He gives. 

"Mother!" 

Even while uttering this exclamation, into which she was 
startled by the unexpected words of her mother, Hannah 
Thurston felt that she was betraying herself. 

" Child ! child ! thy father's eyes thee has his very look ! 
I am concerned on thy account, Hannah. Perhaps I have been 
mistaken in thee, as I was mistaken in him. Oh, if I could have 
known him in time ! I shall not be much longer with thee, 
my daughter, and if I tell thee how I failed in my duty it may 
help thee to perform thine, if if my prayers for thy sake 
should be fulfilled." 

The widow paused, agitated by the recollections which her 
own words evoked. The tears trickled down her pale cheeks, 
but she quietly wiped them away. Her countenance thus 
changed from its usual placid repose, Hannah was shocked to 
see how weak and wasted it had grown during the winter. 
The parting, which she did not dare to contemplate, might be 
nearer than she had anticipated. 

"Do not say any thing that might give thee pain," she 
said. 



162 HANNAH THUESTON I 

" Give thyself no concern, child. It will bring me relief. 
I have often felt moved to tell thee, but there seemed to be 
no fitting time before now." 

" Is it about my father ?" Hannah asked. 

" Yes, Hannah. I wish he could have lived long enough to 
leave his face in thy memory, but it was not to be. Thee often 
reminds me of him, especially when I feel that there is some- 
thing in thy nature beyond my reach. I was past thy age 
when we were married, and he was no longer a young 
man. We had known each other for some years, but 
nothing passed between us that younger persons would 
have called love. I was sincerely drawn towards him, and 
it- seemed right that my life should become a part of his. 
It came to me as a natural change. Richard was not a man 
of many words ; he was considered grave and stern ; and 
when he first looked upon me with only a gentle smile on his 
face, I knew that his heart had made choice of me. From 
that time, although it was long before he spoke his mind, I ac- 
customed myself to think of him as my husband. This may 
seem strange to thee, and, indeed, I never confessed it to him. 
When we came to live together, and I found, from every cir- 
cumstance of our daily life, how good and just he was, how 
strong and upright and rigid in the ways that seemed right to 
him, I leaned upon him as a helper and looked up to him as a 
guide. There was in my heart quite as much reverence as 
love. An unkind word never passed between us. When I 
happened to be wrong in any thing, he knew liow to turn 
my mind so gently and kindly that I was set right without 
knowing how. He was never wrong. Our married life was 
a season of perfect peace yes, to me, because my own con- 
tentment made me careless, blind. 

" I sometimes noticed that his eyes rested on me with a sin- 
gular expression, and I wondered what was in his mind. There 
was something unsatisfied in his face, a look that asked for I 
knew not what, but more than the world contains. Once, 
when I said : ' Is any thing the matter, Richard ?' he turned 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 163 

quickly away and answered sharply. After that, I said noth- 
ing, and I finally got accustomed to the look. I recollect 
when thy brother was born, he seemed like another man, 
though there was no outward change. When he spoke to me 
his voice was trembly, and sounded strange to my ears ; but 
my own weakness, I thought, might account for that. He 
would take the babe to the window, before its eyes could bear 
the light ; would pick it up when asleep, and hold it so tightly 
as to make the poor thing cry ; then he would put it down 
quickly and walk out of the room without saying a word. I 
noticed all this, as I lay, but it gave me no concern : I knew 
not but that all men found their first children so strange and 
curious. To a woman, her first babe seems more like some- 
thing familiar that is brought back to her, than something en- 
tirely new that is added to her life. 

"I scarcely know how to make clear to thy mind another 
change that came over thy father while our little Richard still 
lived. I never could be entirely certain, indeed, when it com- 
menced, because I fancied these things were passing moods 
connected with his serious thoughts he was a man much 
given to reflection and did not dream that they concerned 
myself. Therein, our quiet, ordered life was a misfortune. 
One day was like another, and we both, I think, took things 
as they were, without inquiring whether our knowledge of 
each other's hearts might not be imperfect. Oh, a storm would 
have been better, Hannah a storm which would have shown 
us the wall that had grown up between us, by shaking it down ! 
But thee will see that from the end thee will see it, without 
my telling thee. Richard seemed graver and sterner, I thought, 
but he was much occupied with business matters at that time. 
After our child was taken from us, I began to see that he was 
growing thinner and paler, and often felt very uneasy about 
him. His manner towards me made me shy and a little afraid, 
though I could pick out no word or act that was not kind and 
tender. When I ventured to ask him what was the matter, he 
only answered : ' Nothing that can be helped.' I knew, after 



164 HANNAH THUBSTON : 

that, that all was not right, but my eyes were not opened to 
the trtffch." 

Here Friend Thurston paused, as if- to summon strength to 
continue her narrative. Her withered hands were trembling, 
and she clasped them together in her lap with a nervous ener- 
gy which did not escape her daughter's eye. The latter had 
listened with breathless attention, waiting with mingled eager- 
ness and dread for the denouement, which she felt must be 
more or less tragic. Although her mother's agitation touched 
her own heart with sympathetic pain, she knew that the story 
had now gone too far to be left unfinished. She rose, brought 
a glass of water, and silently placed it on the little table beside 
her mother's chair. When she had resumed her seat, the latter 
continued : 

" Within a year after our boy's death, thee was born. It 
was a great consolation to me then, although it has been a much 
greater one since. I hoped, too, that it would have made 
Richard a little more cheerful, but he was, if any thing, quiet- 
er than ever. I sometimes thought him indifferent both to 
me and the babe. I longed, in my weakness. and my comfort, 
to lay my head upon his breast and rest a while there. It 
seemed a womanly fancy of mine, but oh, Hannah, if I had had 
the courage to say that much ! Once he picked thee up, 
stood at the window for a long while, with thee in his arms, 
then gave thee back to me and went out of the room without 
saying a word. The bosom of thy little frock was damp, and 
I know now that he must have cried over thee. 

" I had not recovered my full strength when I saw that he 
was really ailing. I began to be anxious and uneasy, though 
I scarcely knew why, for he still went about his business as 
usual. JBut one morning it was the nineteenth of the Fifth 
month, I remember, and on Seventh-day he started to go to 
the village, and came back to the house in half an hour, look- 
ing fearfully changed. His voice, though, was as steady as 
ever. ' I believe I am not well, Gulielma,' he said to me ; 
'perhaps I'd better lie down a while. Don't-trouble thyself 



A STOET OF AMERICAN LIFE. 165 

it will soon be over.' I made him undress and go to 'bed, for 
my anxiety gave me strength. Then I sent for the doctor, 
without telling Richard what I had done. It was evening 
when the doctor came ; thee was rather fretful that day, and 
I had taken thee into another room, for fear Richard might be 
disturbed. I only noticed that the doctor stayed a long time, 
but they were old friends, I thought, and might like to talk. 
By the time I had put thee to sleep, he had left and Richard was 
alone. I went directly to him., ' What is thee to take ?' I asked. 
4 Nothing,' he said, so quietly that I ought to have been relieved, 
but I do not know how it was I turned to him trembling 
like a leaf, and cried out : ' Richard, thee has not told me all f 

" ' Yes, all, Gulielma,' said he, ' nothing will help : I must 
leave thee,' I stared at him a while, trying to stand still, 
while every thing in the room went spinning around me, until 
I saw nothing more. I was lying beside him on the bed 
when I came to myself. My hair was wet : he had picked me 
up, poured water on his handkerchief and bathed my face. 
When I opened my eyes, he was leaning over me, looking 
into my eyes with a look I cannot describe. He breathed 
hard and painfully, and his voice was husky. c I have fright- 
ened thee, Gulielma,' said he ; ' but but can thee not resign 
thyself to lose me ?' His look seemed to draw my very soul 
from me ; I cried, with a loud and bitter cry, ' Richard, 
Richard, take me with thee !' and threw my arms around his 
neck. Oh, my child, how can I tell thee the rest ? He put 
away my arms, he held me back, and gasped, as he looked at 
me with burning eyes : ' Take care what thee says, Gulielma ; 
I am dying, and thee dare not deceive me ; does thee love me 
as I love thee more than life, more, the Lord pardon me, 
more than heaven ?' For the first time, I knew that I did. If it 
was a sin, it has been expiated. I cannot remember what was 
said, after that. It was all clear between us, and he would 
allow no blame to rest on me ; but he could not speak, except 
at intervals. He held my hand all night, pressing it faintly in 
his sleep. The next day he died. 



166 HANNAH THTJESTON: 

"He had loved me thus all the time, Hannah, and it was the 
pride and the strength of his love which deceived me. He 
would not ask for a caress or a tender word, because he 
thought that a woman who loved would freely give it nor 
would he offer one, so long as he suspected that the sacred ex- 
pression of his heart might be only passively received. Ah, it 
was a sad doubt of me on his part, a sad blindness towards 
him on mine. When he began to suffer from disease of the 
heart, and knew that his life was measured, his self-torture in- 
creased. He purposely tried to subdue the mild, tempered 
affection which he supposed I felt for him, in order that his 
death might be a lighter grief to me. And I lived with him ? 
day after day, never guessing that his stern, set manner was 
not his real &elf ! I do not dare to think on the cross he must 
have borne : my own seems heavy, and my spirit sometimes 
grows weary under it, and is moved to complain. Then I re- 
member that by bearing it cheerfully I am brought nearer to 
him, and the burden becomes light." 

Hannah Thurston listened to the last words with her face 
buried in her hands, and her heart full of pity and self-reproach. 
What was the pang of her own fruitless dream, her baffled 
ideal, beside the sharp, inconsolable sorrow which consumed 
her mother's years ? What availed her studies, her intellec- 
tual triumphs, her fancied comprehension of life, in comparison 
with that knowledge of the heart of man thus fearfully won ? 
Humble, as when, a child, she listened to her mother's words 
as the accents of infallible wisdom, she now bowed down 
before the sanctity of that mother's experience. 

The widow leaned back in her chair, with closed eyes, but 
with a happy serenity on her weary face. Hannah took her 
hand, and whispered, with a broken voice: "Thank thee, 
mother !" The weak old arms drew her gently down, and 
the pale lips kissed her own. 

" Bless thee, my daughter. Now take thy book and Jet me 
rest a while." 

Hannah took the book, but not to read. 



A STOP.Y OF AMERICAN LIFE. 167 



CHAPTER XIII. 

IN WHICH SPRING OPENS. 

THE rainy Sunday was the precursor of a thaw, which lasted 
for a fortnight, and stripped the landscapes of Ptolemy of 
every particle of snow, except such as found a lodgment in 
fence-corners, behind walls, or in shaded ravines. The wands 
of the willow clumps along the streams brightened to a vivid 
yellow, and the myriad twigs of low-lying thickets blushed 
purple with returning sap. Frozen nights and muddy days 
enough were yet in store ; but with every week the sun gained 
confidence in his own alchemy, and the edge of the north-wind 
was blunted. Very slowly, indeed, a green shimmer crept 
up through the brown, dead grass ; the fir-woods breathed a 
resinous breath of awaking ; pale green eyes peeped from the 
buds of the garden-lilacs, and, finally, like a tender child, igno- 
rant of danger, the crocus came forth full blown and shamed 
the cowardly hesitation of the great oaks and elms. 

During this season, Woodbury's intercourse with the soci- 
ety of the village was mostly suspended. After the termina- 
tion of the Great Sewing-Union, families fell back into their 
narrower circles, and rested for a time both from their social 
and their charitable labors. Even the itinerant prophets and 
philanthropists ceased their visits, leaving Ptolemy in its nor- 
mal darkness. Only Mr. Dyce, it was whispered, had again 
made his appearance at the Merryfields', where his spiritual 
sessions were attended by a select circle of the initiated. 
Neither Woodbury nor Mr. Waldo had been again invited to 
attend. 

All minor gossip, however, was lost sight of, in the interest 



163 HANNAH THUKSTON: 

occasioned by an event which occurred about this time. Miss 
Eliza Clancy, to the surprise of everybody, had at last re- 
ceived " a call." During a visit to Syracuse, she had made the 
acquaintance of the Rev. Jehiel Preeks, a widower who, hav- 
ing been driven away from Tristan d'Acunha after losing his 
wife there, had been commissioned by the A. B. C. F. M. to a 
new field of labor in the Telugu country. His station was to 
be Cuddapah, only a day's journey from Jutnapore. Miss 
Eliza displayed such an intimate knowledge of the latter mis- 
sion, derived from Mrs. Boerum's letters, and such a vital con- 
cern in the spiritual welfare of the Telugus, that the Rev. 
Jehiel, at their third interview, asked her to share his labors. 
There were persons in Ptolemy so malicious as to declare that 
the proposal really came from Miss Eliza herself; but this is 
not for a moment to be believed. The missionary made a bet- 
ter choice than such persons were willing to admit. Although 
verging on forty, and ominously thin, Miss Clancy was sincere, 
active, and patient, and thought more of the heathen souls 
whom she might enlighten than of the honors of her new posi- 
tion. When she returned to Ptolemy as Mrs. Preeks, with 
her passage engaged to Madras in the very vessel which was 
to carry out the contributions of the Mission Fund, she was 
too thoroughly happy to be disturbed by the village gossip. 
The other ladies of the Fund foremost among them her 
sister spinsters, Miss Ann Parrott and Miss Sophia Stevenson 
immediately resumed work, in order to provide her with a 
generous outfit for the voyage. Early in April the parting 
took place, with mutual tears, and thenceforth the pious pat- 
ronage of Ptolemy was transferred from Jutnapore and Mrs. 
Boerum to Cuddapah and Mrs. Preeks. 

The Hon. Zeno Harder occupied his seat in the Legislature, 
through the winter. Several times during the session Wood- 
bury received the compliment of documents, one of them enti- 
tled : " Remarks of the Hon. Zeno Harder, of Atauga County, 
on the Mohawk and Adirondac Railroad Bill." Occasionally, 
also, the Albany Cerberus was sent to him with one of the 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 169 

leading editorials marked, by way of directing his attention 
to it. The Hon. Zeno looked upon Woodbury, who had been 
BO long absent from the country as to have lost " the run" of 
politics, as fair prey. By securing him before the hostile party 
had a chance, he would gain two votes (one of them Bute's), 
and possibly more, besides a President of character and sub- 
stance, for mass-meetings. Woodbury, however, was too 
shrewd, and the Member too clumsy in his diplomacy, for the 
success of this plan. The former, although foreseeing that he 
would be inevitably drawn to take sides, sooner or later, 
determined to preserve his independence as long as possible. 

The churches in the village undertook their periodical " re- 
vivals," which absorbed the interest of the community while 
they lasted. It was not the usual season in Ptolemy for such 
agitations of the religious atmosphere, but the Methodist cler- 
gyman, a very zealous and impassioned speaker, having initia- 
ted the movement with great success, the other sects became 
alarmed lest he should sweep all the repentant sinners of the 
place into his own fold. As soon as they could obtain help 
from Tiberius, the Baptists followed, and the Rev. Lemuel 
Styles was constrained to do likewise. For a few days, the 
latter regained the ground he had lost, and seemed about to 
distance his competitors. Luckily for him, the Rev. Jehiel 
Preeks accompanied his wife on her farewell visit, and was 
immediately impressed into the service. His account of his 
sufferings at Tristan d'Acunha, embracing a description of the 
sickness and triumphant death of his first wife, melted the audi- 
tors to tears, and the exhortation which followed was like seed 
planted in well-ploughed ground. The material for conversion, 
drarwn upon from so many different quarters, was soon exhaust- 
ed, but the rival churches stoutly held out, until convinced that 
neither had any further advantage to gain over the other. 

Mr. Waldo, of course, was not exempt from the general 

necessity, although conscious of the disadvantage under which 

he labored in representing so unimportant a sect. Its founder 

had been a man of marked character, whose strong, peculiar 

8 



1 70 HANNAH THURSTON I 

intellect, combined with his earnestness of heart, wrought 
powerfully upon those with whom he came in personal contact, 
but his views were not broad enough to meet the wants of a 
large class. After his death, many of his disciples, released 
from the influence of his personality, saw how slight a difference 
separated them from their brethren, and yearned to be includ- 
ed in a more extensive fold. Among these was Mr. Waldo, 
whose native good sense taught him that minor differences in 
interpretation and observances do not justify Christians in di- 
viding their strength by a multitude of separate organizations. 
His congregation, however, was very slowly brought to view 
the matter in the same light, and he was too sincerely at- 
tached to its members to give up his charge of them while any 
prospect of success remained. 

On this occasion, nevertheless thanks to the zeal of some 
of his flock, rather than his own power of wielding the thun- 
derbolts of Terror Mr. Waldo gained three or four solitary 
fish out of the threescore who were hauled up from the deeps 
by the various nets. The Cimmerian rite of baptism had this 
advantage, that it was not performed in public, and its solem- 
nity was not therefore disturbed by the presence of a crowd 
of curious spectators, such as are especially wont to be on 
hand when the water is cold. Mr. Waldo even disregarded 
the peculiar form of initiation which characterized his sect, 
affirming that it added no sanctity to the rite. 

During the period of the revivals, there was a temporary 
suspension of the social life of Ptolemy. Even kindred fami- 
lies rarely assembled at tea except to discuss the absorbing 
topic and compare the results obtained by the various churches. 
There was a great demand for Baxters " Saint's Rest, 1 ' 
Alleine's "Alarm," Young's "Night Thoughts," and Follows 
" Course of Time," at the little bookstore. Two feathers dis- 
appeared from the Sunday bonnet of Mrs. Hamilton Bue, and 
the Misses Smith exchanged their red ribbons for slate-colored. 
Still, it was not the habit of the little place to be sombre j its 
gnyety was never excessive, and hence its serious moods 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 171 

never assumed a penitential character, and soon wore off. In 
this respect it presented a strong contrast to Mulligansville 
and Anacreon, both of which communities retained a severe 
and mournful expression for a long time after thir revivals 
had closed. 

By this time the meadows were covered with young grass, 
the willows hung in folds of misty color, and a double row of 
daffodils bloomed in every garden. ^ The spring ploughing and 
all the other various forms of farm labor commenced in the 
valleys, and on the warm, frostless hillsides. The roads were 
again dry and hard ; the little steamer resumed its trips on the 
lake ; and a new life not only stirred within the twin valleys, 
but poured into them from without. 

As the uniformity of winter life at Lakeside gave way to 
the changes exacted by the season, Woodbury became dimly 
sensible that Mrs. Fortitude Babb, with 11 her virtues as a 
housekeeper, stood too prominently in the foreground of his 
home. Her raw, angular nature came so near him, day by day, 
as to be felt as a disturbing element. She looked upon her 
dominion as reassured to her, and serenely continued the exer- 
cise of her old privileges. While entertaining the profoundest 
respect, not unmixed with a moderate degree of affection, for 
her master, she resisted any attempt to interfere with the 
regular course of household procedure which she had long 
since established. He was still too ignorant, indeed, to dis- 
pute her authority with any success, in-doors ; but when the 
gardening weather arrived, and she transferred her rule to the 
open air, his patience was sometimes severely tried. 

He knew, from his boyish days, every square foot in the 
sunny plot of ground the broad alley down the centre, with 
flower-beds on either side, producing pinks, sweet-williams, 
larkspurs, mangolds, and prince's-feathers, in their succession ; 
the clumps of roses at regular intervals ; the low trellis, to be 
overrun with nasturtiums and sweet-peas; the broad vegeta- 
ble beds, divided by rows of currant and gooseberry bushes, 
and the crooked old quince-trees against the northern wall. 



172 HANNAH THUESTON: 

There were they all, apparently unchanged ; but, reverently 
as he looked upon them for the sake of the Past, he felt that 
if Lakeside was to be truly M's home, its features must, to 
some extent, be moulded by his own taste. The old arrange- 
ments could not be retained, simply for the sake of the old 
associations ; the place must breathe an atmosphere of life, 
not of death. In spite of the admirable situation of the house, 
its surroundings had been much neglected, and the trained 
eye of its master daily detected new capacities for beauty. 

Nothing of all this, however, suggested itself to the ossified 
brain of the housekeeper. In her eyes, Woodbury was but a 
tenant of Mrs. Dennison, and that lady would cry down from 
Paradise to forbid the position of her favorite plants and her 
trees from being changed. Hence, Mrs. Babb was almost 
petrified with astonishment, one warm morning, on Woodbury 
saying to her, as they stood in the garden : 

" I shall extend the garden, so as to take in another half- 
acre. The ground must be first prepared, so it can scarcely 
be done this spring ; but, at least, this first row of currants 
can be taken up and set beyond the second. The vegetables 
will then be partly hidden from sight, and these beds can be 
planted with flowers." 

" O, the land !" exclaimed the housekeeper. " Did a body 
ever hear o' sich a thing ! Where'll you get your currans for 
pies, I'd like to know ? They won't bear a mite if you take 
'em up now. Besides, where am I to plant peas and early 
beans, if you put flowers here ?" 

" There," said Woodbury, pointing to the other end of the 
garden. 

" Why, I had 'em there last summer. Here, where these 
cabbages was, is the right placer To my thinkin', there's 
flowers enough, as it is. Not that I'd take any of 'em up : 
she was always fond of 'em, and she was satisfied with my 
fixin' of the garden. But there's them that thinks they knows 
better. 'T'an't-any too big as it was, and if you take off all 
this here ground, we'll run out o' vegetables afore the sum- 



A STOUT OF AMERICAN LIFE. 173 

mer's over. Then, I'll git the blame, all over the neighbor- 
hood. People knows I 'tend to it." 

" Mrs. Babb," said Woodbury, a little sternly, " I shall take* 
care that your reputation does not suffer. It is my intention 
to engage an experienced gardener, who will take all this 
work off your hands, for the future. -But the improvements I 
intend to make cannot be carried out immediately, and I must 
ask you to superintend the planting, this spring. You shall 
have sufficient ground for all the vegetables we need, and it 
can make little difference to you where they grow." 

The housekeeper did not venture upon any further remon- 
strance, but her heart was filled with gall and bitterness. She 
could not deny to herself Woodbury's right to do what he 
pleased with his own, but such innovations struck her as be- 
ing almost criminal. They opened the door to endless con- 
fusions, which it distressed her to contemplate, and the end 
whereof she could not foresee. 

That evening, as Bute was shelling his seed-corn in the 
kitchen, he noticed that her thin lips were a little more- tightly 
compressed than usual, while she plied her knitting-needles 
with an energy that betrayed a serious disturbance of mind. 
Bute gave himself no concern, however, well knowing that, 
whatever it was, he should hear it in good time. 

Mrs. Babb sighed in her usual wheezy manner, drawing up 
and letting down her shoulders at the same time, and knit a 
few minutes longer, with her eyes fixed on the kitchen clock. 
At last she said : " Ah, yes, it's well she's gone." 

Bute looked np, but as she was still inspecting the clock, he 
said nothing. 

" I was afeard things couldn't stay as they was," she again 
remarked. 

Bute picked up a fresh ear, and began grinding the butt- 
end with a cob, to loosen the grains. 

" It's hard to see sich things a-comin' on, in a body's old 
days," groaned the housekeeper. This time her gaze was re- 
moved from the clock, and fell grimly upon her adopted son. 



174 HANKAH THFESTON : 

" What's the matter, Mother Forty ?" he asked. 

" Matter, Bute ? I should think you'd ha' seen it, if you 
was in the habit o' seem' furder than your nose. Things is 
goin' to wrack, fast enough. He will have his way, no matter 
how onreasonable it is." 

" Well, why shouldn't he ? But as for bein' unreasonable, 
I don't see it. He's gettin' the hang of farmin' matters ama- 
zin'ly, and is goin' to let me do what I've been wantin' to, 
these five year. Wait till we get the gewano, and phosphate, 
and drainin' and deep ploughing and you won't see such 
another farm in the hull county." 

" Yes, and the garden all tore to pieces," rejoined the house- 
keeper ; " if' she could come out of her grave next year, she 
won't know it ag'in. And me, that's tended to it this ever so 
long, to have a strange man, that nobody knows, stuck over 
my head !" 

Bute bent his face over the ear of corn, to conceal a 
"malicious smile. He knew that all the housekeeper wanted, 
was to " speak out her mind" after which she would resign 
herself to the inevitable. He accordingly made no further 
reply, and commenced whistling, very softly, "-Barbara 
Allen," a tune which of late seemed to harmonize with his 
mood. 

Woodbury, on his part, was conscious of a restless stirring 
of the blood, for which his contact with the housekeeper was 
in the least degree responsible. Her figure, nevertheless, 
formed a hard, sharp, rocky background, against which was 
projected, in double sweetness from the contrast, the soft out- 
lines of a younger form, glimmering indistinctly through a 
mist which concealed the face. 

He did not deceive himself. He saw that his apparent in- 
dependence w r as a belligerent condition, in which he could 
never find adequate peace ; but not for this reason not from 
any cool calculations of prudence did he long to see the 
household of Lakeside governed by its legitimate mistress. 
If the long years of summer had made his heart apathetic or 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 175 

indifferent, it had not deadened his nature to the subtle magic 
of spring. A more delicate languor than that of the tropics 
crept over him in the balmy mornings ; all sounds and odors 
of the season fostered it, and new images began to obtrude 
upon his sleeping as well as his waking dreams. He knew 
the symptoms, and rejoiced over the reappearance of the old 
disease. It was not now the fever of youth, ignorantly given 
up to its own illusions. He could count the accelerated pulsa- 
tions, hold the visions steadily fast as they arose in his brain, 
and analyze while he enjoyed them. Love and Experience 
must now go hand in hand, and if an object presented itself, 
the latter must approve while the former embraced. 

Reviewing, in his mind, the women whom he knew, there 
was not one, he confessed to himself, whom he would ever, 
probably, be able to love. His acquaintances in New York 
were bright, lively girls the associates of his nieces in some 
of whom, no doubt, there was a firm basis of noble feminine 
character. It could not be otherwise ; yet the woman who 
must share his seclusion, finding in him, principally, her 
society, in his home her recreation, in his happiness her own, 
could scarcely be found in that circle. Coming back to Ptole- 
my, his survey was equally discouraging. He could never 
overlook a lack of intellectual culture in his wife. Who pos- 
sessed that, unless, indeed, Hannah Thuvston ? She, he ad- 
mitted, had both exquisite taste and a degree of culture re- 
markable for the opportunities she enjoyed ; but a union with 
her would be a perpetual torment. She, with her morbid 
notions of right, seeing an unpardonable sin in every innocent 
personal habit ! What little she had observed of his external 
life had evidently inspired her with a strong dislike of him ; 
how could she bear to know him as he was to look over the 
pages of his past life ? His wife, he felt, must be allowed no 
illusions. If she could not find enough of truth and manliness 
in his heart to counterbalance past errors and present defects, 
she should find no admittance there. 

In spite of these unavailing reviews, one important result 



176 HAISTNAH THUESTON": 

was attained. He would no longer, as heretofore, shrink from 
the approach of love. From whatever quarter the guest 
might come, the door should be found open, and the word 
" Welcome," woven of the evergreen leaves of immortal 
longing, should greet the arrival. 



A STOUT OF AMERICAN LIFE. 177 



CHAPTER XIV. 

CONTAINING CONVERSATIONS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THEY 
SEEM TO BE. 

ONE balmy afternoon, when the dandelions- were beginning to 
show their golden disks among the grass, Woodbury started on 
foot for Ptolemy, intending to take tea with the Waldos, whom 
he had not seen for a fortnight. Sauntering along the road, 
at the foot of the eastern hill, with the dark, pine-fringed rocks 
and the sparkling cascade on one hand, and the fresh, breath- 
ing meadows on the other, he found himself, at last, at the 
end of the lane leading to the Merryfield farm-house, and 
paused, attracted by the roseate Iblush of a Judas-tree in the 
garden. The comfortable building, with its barn and out- 
houses, seemed to bask in happy warmth and peace, half-hid- 
den in a nest of fruit-trees just bursting into bloom. The 
fences around them had been newly whitewashed, and gleamed 
like snow against the leafing shrubbery. An invigorating 
smell of earth came from the freshly-ploughed field to the south. 
Every feature of the scene spoke of order, competence, and 
pastoral contentment and repose. 

In such a mood, he forgot the occasional tedium of the 
farmer's talk, and the weak pretensions of his wife, and only 
remembered that he had not seen them for some time. Turning 
into the lane, he w r alked up to the house, where he was cordi- 
ally received by Mr. Merryfield. " Come in," said the latter : 
" Sarah's looking over seeds, or something of the kind, with 
Miss Thurston, but she'll be down presently. You recollect 
Mr. Dyce ?" The last words were spoken as they entered the 

R* 



1V8 HANNAH TIIUKSTON: 

room, where the medium, with his sallow, unwholesome face, 
sat at an open window, absorbed in the perusal of a thick 
pamphlet. He rose and saluted Woodbuiy, though by no 
means with cordiality. 

" How delightful a home you have here, Mr. Merryfield," 
Woodbury said. " You need not wish to change places with 
any one. An independent American farmer, with his affairs 
in such complete order that the work almost goes on of it- 
self, from year to year, seems to me the most fortunate of 
men." 

"Well yes 1 ought to be satisfied," answered the host : 
" I sometimes wish for a wider spere, but I suppose it's best 
as it is." 

" Oh, be sure of that !" exclaimed Woodbury : " neither is 
your sphere a narrow one, if it is rightly filled." 

" Nothing is best as it is," growled Mr. Dyce, from the win- 
dow, at the same time ; " private property, family, isolated 
labor, are all wrong." 

Woodbury turned to the speaker, with a % sudden doubt of 
his sanity, but Mr. Merryfield was not in the least surprised. 

"You know, Mr. Dyce,"" said he, "that I can't go that far. 
The human race may come to that in the course of time, as it 
were, but I'm too old to begin." 

"Nobody is too old for the Truth," rejoined the medium, so 
insolently that Woodbury felt an itching desire to slap him in 
the face, " especially, when it's already demonstrated. Here's 
the whole thing," he continued, giving the pamphlet a whack 
on the window-sill : " read it, and you'll find how much better 
off we are without those selfish institutions, marriage and the 
right to property." 

" What is it ?" asked Woodbury. 

" It's the annual report of the Perfectionists. They have a 
community near Aqueanda, where theft principles are put in 
practice. Every thing is in common : labor is so divided that 
no one feels the burden, yet all live comfortably. The children 
are brought up all together, and so the drudgery of a family is 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 179 

avoided. Besides, love is not slavery, but freedom, and the 
affections are true because they do not wear legal chains." 

" Good God ! Is this true ?" exclaimed Woodbury, turning 
to Mr. Merryfield. 

"I believe it is," he answered. "I've read part of the re- 
port, and there are queer things in it. Even if the doctrine is 
right, I don't think mankind is fit for it yet. I shouldn't like, 
even, to let everybody read that -book : though, to be sure, 
we might be much more outspoken than we are." 

"Read it," said Mr. Dyce, thrusting the pamphlet into 
Woodbury's hand. "It's unanswerable. If you are not 
blinde4 by the lies and hypocrisies of Society, you will see 
what the true life of Man should be. Society is the Fall, sir, 
and we. can restore the original paradise of Adam whenever 
we choose to free ourselves from its tyranny." 

" No doubt, provided we are naturally sinless, like Adam," 
Woodbury could not help saying, as he took the pamphlet. 
He had no scruples in receiving and reading it, for he was not 
one of those delicate, effeminate minds, who are afraid to look 
on error lest they may be infected. His principles were so 
Avell-based that every shock only settled them the more firmly. 
He had never preferred ignorance to unpleasant knowledge, 
and all of the latter which he had gained had not touched the 
sound manliness of his nature. 

" We are !" cried Mr. Dyce, in answer to his remark. 
" The doctrine of original sin is the basis of all the wrongs of 
society. It is false. Human nature is pure in all its instincts, 
and we distort it by our selfish laws. Our life is artificial and 
unnatural. If we had no rights of property we should have 
no theft : if we had no law of marriage we should have no li- 
centiousness : if we had no Governments, we should have no 
war." 

Mr. Merryfield did not seem able to answer these declara- 
tions, absurd as they were, and Woodbury kept silent, from 
self-respect. The former, however, was stronger in his instincts 
than in his powers of argument, and shrank, with a sense o^ 



180 HANNAH THUESTON : 

painful repugnance, from a theory which he was unable to com- 
bat. Mr. Dyce's prolonged visit was beginning to be disa- 
greeable to him. His ambition to be considered a prominent 
reformer was his weak side, and his freely-offered hospitality 
to the various apostles had given him a consideration which 
misled him. His kindness had thus frequently been imposed 
upon, but the secret fear of losing his place had prevented him, 
hitherto, from defending himself. 

* Mr. Dyce, on the other hand, was one of those men who are 
not easily shaken off. He led a desultory life, here and there, 
through New York and the New England States, presiding at 
spiritual sessions in the houses of the believers, among whom 
he had acquired a certain amount of reputation as a medium. 
Sometimes his performances were held in public (admittance 
ten cents), in the smaller towns, and he earned enough in this 
way to pay his necessary expenses. When he discovered a be- 
lieving family, in good circumstances, especially where the 
table was well supplied, he would pitch his tent, for days, or 
weeks, as circumstances favored. Such an oasis in the desert 
of existence he had found at Mr. Merryfield's, and the discom- 
fort of the meek host at his prolonged stay, which would have 
been sufficiently palpable to a man of the least delicacy of feel- 
ing, was either unnoticed by him, or contemptuously ignored. 

Woodbury read the man at a glance, and received, also, a 
faint suspicion of Mr. Merryfield's impatience at -his stay; but 
he, himself, had little patience with the latter's absurdities, and 
was quite content that he should endure the punishment he 
had invoked. 

Putting the pamphlet in his pocket, and turning to Mr. Dyce, 
he said : " I shall read this, if only to find out the point at 
which Progress becomes Reaction where Moral Reform 
shakes hands with Depravity." 

The medium's sallow face grew livid, at the firm coolness 
with which these words were spoken. Pie half-started from his 
seat, but sank back again, and turning his head to the window, 
gave a contemptuous snort from his thin nostrils. 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 181 

" There is mischief in that man," thought Woodbury. 
Mr. Merryfield, in spite of his trepidation for he was a 
thorough physical coward, and the moral courage on which he 
plumed himself was a sham article, principally composed of 
vanity nevertheless felt a sense of relief from Woodbury's 
composed, indifferent air. Here, at least, was one man who 
could meet the vampire unconcernedly, and drive, if need be, 
a stake through his gorged carcass. For once, he regretted 
that he did not possess a similar quality. It was almost resist- 
ance, he was aware, and the man capable of it might probably 
be guilty of the crime (as he considered it) of using physical 
force ; but he dimly recognized it in a refreshing element of 
strength. He did not feel quite so helpless as usual in Wood- 
bury's presence, after that. 

Still, he dreaded a continuance of the conversation. "Will 
you come, as it were" said he ; " that is, would you like" 

Woodbury, who had turned his back upon Mr. Dyce, after 
speaking, suddenly interrupted him with : " How do you do, 
Mrs. Merryfield ?" 

The mistress of the house, passing through the hall, had 
paused at the ope'n door. Behind her came Hannah Thurston, 
in her bonnet, with a satchel on her arm. 

After the greetings were over, Mrs. Merryfield said : " We 
were going into the garden." 

" Pray, allow me to accompany you," said Woodbury. 

" Oh, yes, if you care about flowers and things." 

The garden was kid out on the usual plan : a central alley, 
bordered with flower-beds, vegetables beyond, and currants 
planted along the fence. It lay open to the sun, sheltered by 
n, spur of the eastern ridge, and by the orchard to the left of the 
house. In one corner stood a Judas-tree, every spray thickly 
hung with the vivid rose-colored blossoms. The flowers were 
farther advanced than at Lakeside, for the situation was much 
lower and warmer, and there had been no late frosts. The 
hyacinths reared their blue and pink pagodas, filling the walk 
with their opulent breath ; the thick green buds of the tulips 



182 HANNAH THUESTOX I 

began to show points of crimson, and the cushiony masses of 
mountain-pink fell over the boarded edges of the beds. 

Mrs. Merryfield had but small knowledge of floriculture. Her 
beds were well kept, however, but from habit, rather than taste. 
"'My pineys won't do well, this year, I don't think," said she : 
" this joon-dispray rose is too near them. Here's plenty of 
larkspurs and coreopsisses coming up, Hannah ; don't you want 
some ?" 

" Thank you, my garden is wild with them," Miss Thurston 
answered, "but I will take a few plants of the flame-colored 
marigold, if you have them to spare." 

" Oh, that's trash ; take them all, if you like." 

" Miss Thurston," said Woodbury, suddenly, " would you 
like to have some bulbs of gladeolus and tiger-lily ? I have just 
received a quantity from Rochester." 

" Very much indeed : you are very kind," she said. " How 
magnificent they are, in color !" The next moment, she was 
vexed at herself for having accepted the offer, and said no 
more. 

Mrs. Merryfield', having found the marigolds, took up a 
number and placed them in a basket, adding various other 
plants of whiclTshe had a superfluity. As they left the gar- 
den, Woodbury quietly took the basket, saying : " I am walk- 
ing to Ptolemy also, Miss Thurston." 

It was impossible to decline his company, though the 
undefinable sense of unrest with which his presence always 
affected her, made the prospect of the wal far from agreeable. 
Side by side they passed down the lane, and had nearly gained 
the highway, when Woodbury broke the silence by saying : 

"What do you think of Mr. Dyce?" 

Hannah Thurston was a little startled by the unexpected 
question. "I have scarcely formed an opinion," she answered : 
" it may not be just to decide from impressions only. If I did 
so, the decision would- not be favorable to him." 

" You are right !" he exclaimed, with energy. " Do not 
speak to him again ! I beg pardon," he added, apologetically, 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 183 

" I did not mean to be dictatorial ; but the man is thoroughly 
false and bad." 

" Do you know any thing of him ?" she asked. 

" Only what I have myself observed. I have learned to 
trust my instincts, because I find that what we call instinct is 
only a rapid and subtle faculty of observation. A man can 
never completely disguise himself, and we therefore see him 
most truly at the first glance, before his powers of deception 
can be exercised upon us." 

"It -may be true," she said, as if speaking to herself, "but 
one's prejudices are so arbitrary. How can we know that we 
are right, in yielding to them?" 

For a moment, a sharp retort hovered on Woodbury's 
tongue. How can we know, he might have said, that we are 
right in accepting views, the extreme character of which is 
self-evident? How can we, occupying an exceptional place, 
dare to pronounce rigid, unmitigated judgment on all the rest 
of mankind ? But the balmy spring day toned him to gentle- 
ness. The old enchantment of female presence stole over him, 
as when it surrounded each fair face with a nimbus, to the nar- 
cotized vision of youth. One glance at his companion swept 
away the harsh words. A tender gleam of color flushed her 
cheeks, and the lines of her perfect lips were touched with a 
pensive softness. Her eyes, fixed at the moment on the hill 
beyond the farther valley, were almost as soft as a violet in hue. 
He had never before seen her in the strong test of sunshine, 
and remarked that ijpr a face like hers it was no disenchant- 
ment. She might be narrow and bigoted, he felt, but she was 
nevertheless true, earnest, and pure. 

" We are not required to exhibit our prejudices," he said. 
"In Society, disagreeable persons are still individuals, and 
have certain claims upon us. But, after all the latitude we are 
required to grant, a basis of character must be exacted. Do 
you think a man consciously false and depraved should be tol- 
erated on account of a coincidence in opinions ?" 

" Certainly not," she replied. 



184 HANNAH THUKSTON: 

Woodbury then related the incident of the piano. He be- 
gan to feel a friendly pity for the girl walking beside him. 
Her intense earnestness, he saw, and her ignorance of the true 
nature of men, were likely to betra^y her, as in the present case, 
into associations, the thought of which made him shudder. He 
would at least save her from this, and therefore told the story, 
with an uncomfortable sense, all the while, of the pamphlet in 
his pocket. 

Hannah Thurston was unfeignedly shocked at the deception 
of Mr. Dyce. " I am glad you have told me this," said she, 
"for I wanted a 'justification for avoiding him. Have you 
mentioned it to the Merryfields ?" 

" No." 

"Why not?" 

" In the first place, you know that they are too infatuated 
with the spiritual delusion to believe it. He would have an 
explanation ready, as he had that night. Moreover, it would 
cost Bute, who gave me the details in confidence, the loss of 
two friends. For his sake let it still be confidential." 

She met his deep brown eyes, and bowed in reply. He 
plucked the stalk of a dandelion, as they went along, pinched 
off the flower, split the lower end, and putting it into his 
mouth, blew a tiny note, as from a fairy trumpet. His man- 
ner was so serious that Hannah Thurston looked away lest he 
should see her smile. 

" You are laughing, I know," said he, taking the stalk from 
his mouth, " and no wonder. I suddenly recollected having 
blown these horns, as a boy. It is enough to make one boy- 
ish, to see spring again, for the first time in fifteen years. I 
wonder if the willow switches are too dry. Henry Denison 
and I used to make very tolerable flutes of them, but we never 
could get more than four or five notes." 

"Then you value your early associations?" she asked. 

" Beyond all others of my life, I think. Is it not pleasant, 
to look back to a period when every thing was good, when all 
men and women were infinitely wise and benevolent, when life 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 185 

took care of itself and the future was whatever you chose to 
make it? Now, when I know the world know it, Miss 
Thurston" and his voice was grave and .sad " to be far 
worse than you, or any other pure woman suspects, and still 
keep my faith in the Good that shall one day be triumphant, 
I can smile at my young ignorance, but there is still a glory 
around it. Do you know Wordsworth's Ode ?" 

" Yes ' the light that never was. on sea or land.' " 

" Never until after it has -gone by. We look back and see 
it. Why, do you know that I looked on Mrs. Merryfield as a 
Greek must have looked on the Delphian Pythoness ?" 

Hannah Thurston laughed, and then suddenly checked her- 
seif. She could not see one of her co-workers in the Great 
Cause ridiculed, even by intimation. The chord he had 
touched ceased to vibrate. The ease with which he recov- 
ered from a deeper tone and established conversation again in 
mental shallows, annoyed her all the more, that it gratified 
some latent instinct of her own mind. She distrusted the 
influence which, in spite of herself, Woodbury exercised upon 
her. 

" I see your eyes wander off to the hills," he said, after an 
interval of silence. " They are very lovely to-day. In this 
spring haze the West Ridge appears to be as high as the 
Jura. How it melts into the air, far up the valley ! The 
effect of mountains, I think, depends more on atmosphere 
tha^i on their actual height. You could imagine this valley to 
be one of the lower entrances to the Alps. By the way, Miss 
Thurston, this must have given you a suggestion of them. 
How did you manage to get such a correct picture in your 
mind ?" 

She turned her surprised face full towards him. The 
dreamy expression which softened its outline, and hovered 
in the luminous depth of her eyes, did not escape him. 

"Oh, I know it," he added, laughing. "What was the 
song you sang at Mr. Bue's ? Something about an Alpine 
hunter : it made me think I was standing on the Schei- 



1 86 HANNAH THUKSTON : 

deck, watching the avalanches tumbling down from the Jung- 
frau." 

"You have been in -Switzerland, Mr. Woodbury!" she 
exclaimed, with animation. 

" Yes, on my way from England to India." 

He described to her his Swiss tour, inspired to prolong the 
narrative by the eager interest she exhibited. The landscapes 
of the higher Alps stood clear in his memory, and he had the 
faculty of translating them distinctly into words. Commenc- 
ing with the valley of the Reuss, he took her with him over 
the passes of the Furca and the Grimsel, and had only reached 
the falls of the Aar, when the gate of the Widow Thurston's 
cottage shut down upon the Alpine trail. 

" We will finish the trip another time," said Woodbury, as 
he opened the gate for her. 

" How much I thank you ! I seem to have been in Switzer- 
land, myself. I think I shall be able to sing the song better, 
from knowing its scenery." 

She offered him her hand, which he pressed cordially. "I 
should like to call upon your mother again," he said. 

" She will be very glad to see you." 

As he walked down the street towards the Cimmerian par- 
sonage, his thoughts ran somewhat in this wise : " How much 
natural poetry and enthusiasm that girl has in her nature ! It 
is refreshing to describe any thing to her, she is so absorbed in 
receiving it. What a splendid creature she might have be- 
come, under other circumstances ! But here she is hopelessly 
warped and distorted. Nature intended her for a woman and 
a wife, and the role of a man and an apostle is a monstrous per- 
version. I do not know whether she most attracts me through 
what she might have been, or repels me through what she is. 
She suggests the woman I am seeking, only to show me how 
vain the search must be. I am afraid I shall have to give it up." 

Pursuing these reflections, he was about passing the parson- 
age without recognizing it, when a cheery voice rang out to 
him from the open door : 



A STOKY OP AMERICAN LIFE. 187 

" Have you lost the way, Mr. Woodbury ?" 

'"Not lost, but gone before,' " said he, as he turned back 
to the gate. 

"What profanity!" exclaimed Mrs. Waldo, though sho 
laughed at the same time. "Come in: our serious season is 
over. I suppose I ought to keep a melancholy face, for two 
weeks longer, to encourage the new converts, but what is one 
to do, when one's nature is dead against it?" 

" Ah, Mrs. Waldo," replied Woodbury, " if you suffered 
under your faith, instead of rejoicing in it, I should doubt your 
Christianity. I look upon myself as one of your converts." 

" I am afraid you are given to backsliding." 

" Only for the pleasure of being reconverted," said he ; " but 
come be my mother-confessoress. I am in great doubt and 
perplexity." 

" And you come to a woman for help ? Delightful !" 

" Even so. Do you remember what you said to me, when 
I picked you up out of the wreck, last winter ? But I see you 
do not. Mrs. Fortitude Babb is a tyrant." 

Mrs. Waldo was not deceived by this mock lamentation. 
He would not first have felt the tyranny now, she knew, unless 
a stronger feeling made it irksome. 

" Ah ha ! you have found it out," she said. " Well you 
know the remedy." 

" Yes, I know it ; but what I do not know is the woman 
who should take her place." 

"Don't you?" said Mrs. Waldo, with a sigh, "then, of 
course, I do not." 

" I walked from Merryfield's, this afternoon, with Hannah 
Thurston," he presently remarked. 

" Well ?" she asked eagerly. 

"What a perversion of a fine woman! I lose my tem- 
per when I think of it. I came very near being rude to her." 

" You rude ?" exclaimed Mrs. Waldo, " then she must have 
provoked you beyond endurance." 

" Not by any .thing she said, but simply by what she is." 



188 HANNAH THUKSTON: 

" What, pray ?" 

' A ' stroDg-minded woman.' Heaven keep me from all 
such ! I have will enough for two, and my household shall 
never have more than one head." 

" That's sound doctrine," said Mr. Waldo, hearing the last 
words as he entered the room. 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 189 



CHAPTER XV. 

WHICH COMES NEAR BEING TRAGIC. 

IN the beginning of June, the Merryfields received ad- 
ditional guests. Among their acquaintances in New York 
city were Mr. and Mrs. Whitlow, whom they had met during 
the Annual Convention of the Anti-Slavery Society. Mr. 
Whitlow was a prosperous grocer, who had profited by selling 
" free sugar" at two cents a pound more than the product of 
slave labor, although the former was an inferior article. He 
was very bitter in his condemnation of the Manchester manu 
facturers, on account of their consumption of cotton. The 
Merryfields had been present at a tea-party given by him to 
Mr. Wendell Phillips, and the circumstance was not forgotten 
by their hosts. When the latter shut up their house in the 
respectable upper part of Mercer street, in order to make a 
summer trip to Lake Superior by way of Niagara, they de- 
termined to claim a return for their hospitality. Tea in Mercer 
street was equivalent, in their eyes, to a week's entertainment 
at Ptolemy. If not, they could invite the Merryfields again, 
at the next Convention, which would certainly balance the 
account. 

Accordingly, one fine evening, the stage from- Atauga City 
brought to Ptolemy, and a carriage from Fairlamb's livery- 
stable forwarded to the Merryfield farm, Mr. and Mrs. Whit- 
low, and their two daughters, Mary Wollstonecraft Whitlow, 
aged thirteen, and Phillis Wheatley Whitlow, aged nine 
together with four trunks. The good-natured host was 
overwhelmed with this large arid unexpected visit, and feebly 
endeavored to obtain a signal from his wife as to whether they 



1 90 HANNAH THUESTO-N I 

could be conveniently accommodated, during the bustle of 
arrival. 

" If I had knowed, as it were, that you were coming," 
said he. 

" Oh, we thought we would take you by surprise : it's so 
much pleasanter," exclaimed Mrs. Whitlow, a tall, gaunt 
woman, who displayed a pair of large feet as she clambered 
down from the carriage. She thereupon saluted Mrs. Merry- 
field with a kiss which sounded like the splitting of a 
dry chip. 

'Mary Wollstonecraft and Phillis Wheatley scampered off 
around the house and into the garden as soon as they touched 
ground. They amused themselves at first by pulling up the 
early radishes, to see how long their roots were, but after a 
while were attracted by the tulips, and returned to the house 
with hnndfuls of the finest. 

" Where did you get those ?" said their mother ; " I am 
afraid they have taken too many," she added, turning towards 
Mrs. Merryfield, u but the dear children are so fond of flowers. 
I think it elevates them and helps to form their character. 
The Beautiful and the Good, you know, are one and the same." 

" Yes, but it ought to be directed," replied Mrs. Merryfield, 
without exactly knowing what she was saying. She saw, in 
imagination, her garden stripped bare, and was meditating 
how she could prevent it. Her husband put a padlock on the 
gate next morning, and in the course of the forenoon Phillis 
Wheatley was discovered hanging by her frock from the 
paling. 

There was no help for it. The Whitlows had come to stay, 
and they stayed. Mr. Dyce was obliged to give up his oc- 
cupancy of the best bedroom, and take a small chamber under 
the roof. Merryfield hoped, but in vain, that this new dis- 
comfort would drive him away. The new-comers were ac- 
quaintances of his, and although not spiritualists, yet they were 
very free to discuss the peculiar doctrines of the Aqueanda 
community. 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 191 

Day by day, Mrs. Merry field saw her choice hams and her 
cherished fowls disappearing before the onslaught of her 
guests. Her reserve of jams and marmalades was so drawn 
upon that she foresaw its exhaustion before the summer's fruit 
could enable her to replenish it. Mary Wollstonecraft and 
Phillis Wheatley were especially destructive, in this respect, 
and very frankly raised a clamor for " preserves," when there 
happened to be none on the table. Their mother mildly tol- 
erated this infraction of good behavior on their part. 

" They make themselves at home," she would remark, turn- 
ing to the hostess with an amiable smile. " I think we should 
allow some liberty to the dietetic instincts of children. Alcott 
says, you know, that ' like feeds like the unclean spirit licks 
carnage and blood from his trencher.' " 

" Gracious me !" exclaimed Mrs. Merryfield, shuddering. 

"Yes: and in the scale of Correspondences saccharine sub- 
stances are connected with gentleness of heart. I rejoice to 
see this development in the dear children. Do you preserve 
with free sugar ?" 

" No," replied the hostess, with a faint salmon-colored blush, 
" we can't get it in Ptolemy. I should like to bear testimony 
in this way, if it was possible, but there are so few in this 
neighborhood who are interested in the cause of Humanity, 
that we cannot do as much as we desire." 

"Why don't you apply to me?" said Mr. Whitlow. "No- 
thing easier than to buy two or three barrels at a time, and 
have it sent by rail. It will cost you no more than this" 
putting a spoonful of quince jelly into his mouth " which is 
stained with the blood of the slave." He saicl nothing, how- 
ever, about the quality of the sugar, which was a very coarse, 
brown article, purporting to come from Port-au-Prince. 

Fortunately, Mr. Merryfield's corn had been planted before 
the arrival of his guests. Otherwise, there would have been a 
serious interference with his farming operations. Every 
pleasant afternoon, the Whitlows laid claim to his carriage and 
horses, and, accepting the services of' Mr. Dyce as coachman, 



192 HANNAH THUESTON: 

drove up and down the valleys, and even to the summits of 
the hills, to obtain the best views. The very freedom with 
which they appropriated to their use and comfort all the ap- 
pliances which the farm furnished, imposed upon their kind- 
hearted hosts. In the eyes of the latter, claims so openly- 
made involved the existence of a right of some kind, though 
precisely what the right was, they could not clearly under- 
stand. 

When Mrs. Whitlow, therefore, whose devotion to "Na- 
ture" was one of her expressed characteristics, proposed a 
pic-nic for the following Saturday afternoon, it was accepted 
without demur, as one of the ordinances of Destiny. The 
weather had suddenly grown warm, and the deciduous trees 
burst into splendid foliage, the luxuriant leaves of summer still 
wearing the fresh green of spring-time. All the lower portion 
of the valley, and its cleft branches beyond Ptolemy, from 
rim to jim of the enclosing hills, hummed and stirred with 
an overplus of life. The woods were loud with birds ; a tiny 
overture of insect horns and drums, in the meadows, preluded 
the drama of their ephemeral life ; the canes of maize shot the 
brown fields w T ith points of shining green, and the wheat be- 
gan to roll in shallow ripples under the winds of the lake. 
Mrs. Whitlow's proposal was well-timed, in a land where the 
beautiful festival of Pentecost is unknown, and it did the 
Merryfields no harm that they were forced, against their habit, 
to celebrate the opening season. 

Not more than a mile from the farm-house there was a spot 
admirably adapted for the purpose. It was a favorite resort, 
during the summer, of the young gentlemen and ladies of 
Ptolemy, and sometimes, even, had been honored by the visit 
of a party from Tiberius. Roaring Brook, which had its rise 
some miles distant, among the hollows of the upland, issued 
from a long glen which cleft East Atauga Hill at the point 
where it bent away from the head of the lake, to make its 
wider sweep around to the cape beyond Lakeside. At this 
point there was a slightly shelving terrace, a quarter of a mile 



A STOEY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 193 

in breadth, thrust out like the corner of a pedestal upon which 
the hill had formerly rested. The stream, after lending a part 
of its strength, to drive a saw-mill at the mouth of the glen, 
passed swiftly across the terrace, twisting its way through 
broken, rocky ground, to the farther edge, whence it tumbled 
in a cataract to the valley. The wall of rock was crowned 
with a thick growth of pine, cedar, maple, and aspen trees, and 
the stream, for the last hundred .yards of its course, slid 
through deep, cool shadows, to flash all the more dazzlingly 
into the sunshine of its fall. From the brink there were lovely 
views of the valley and lake ; and even within the grove, as 
far as a flat rock, which served as a table for the gay parties, 
penetrated glimpses of the airy distance. 

The other members of the little band of " Reformers " in 
Ptolemy were invited to take part in the pic-nic. The Whit- 
lows desired and expected this, and would have considered 
themselves slighted, had the invitations been omitted. Mrs. 
Waldo was included, at the request of Hannah Thurston, who 
knew her need of recreation and her enjoyment of it. Be- 
sides, she was sure that Mr. Dyce would be there, and sus- 
pected the presence of Seth Wattles, and she felt the advan- 
tage of being accompanied by a brave and sensible friend. 
Mr. Waldo was obliged to attend a meeting of the Trustees 
of the Cimmerian Church, and so the two women, taking pos- 
session of his phlegmatic horse and superannuated gig, started 
early in the afternoon for the appointed spot. Before reaching 
the gate to the farm-house, they overtook Seth Wattles and 
Mr. Tanner, on foot, the latter carrying his flute in his hand, 
lie was celebrated throughout the neighborhood for his per- 
formance of ''Love Not" and " The Pirate 's Serenade" on 
that instrument. 

The spot was reached by following the highway, past the 
foot of Roaring Brook cataract, and then taking a side-road 
which led across the embaying curve of the valley and, ascen- 
ded to the saw-mill at the mouth of the glen. Some of the 
party had gone directly across the fields from the Merryfield 



194 HANKAH THUBSTON: 



farm-house, as there was one point in the rocky front of the 
terrace where an ascent was practicable without danger. Thus 
they nearly all met in the grove at the same time. 

The day was warm and still, oppressively sultry in the sun- 
shine, but there, under the trees and beside the mossy rocks, 
the swift brook seemed to bring a fresh atmosphere with it, 
out of the heart of the hills. A light wind, imperceptible else- 
where, softly rustled among the aspen-leaves, and sighed oif 
from the outer - pine-boughs into the silence of the air. The 
stream, swollen by late rains, yet cleansed of their stain, ran 
deep and strong, curving like bent glass over the worn rocks 
in itSrbed, with a suppressed noise, as if hoarding its shout for 
the leap from the cliff. The shade was sprinkled with patches 
of intense golden light, where the sun leaked through, and the 
spirit of the place seemed to say, in every feature, " I wait 
for color and life." Both were soon given. The Whitlow 
children, in pink frocks, scampered here and there ; Mrs. 
Waldo's knot of crimson ribbon took its place, like a fiery trop- 
ical blossom, among the green ; Mrs. Merryfield hung her 
orange-colored crape shawl on a bough ; and even Seth's un- 
gainly figure derived some consistency from a cravat of sky- 
blue satin, the ends of which hung over his breast. Mr. Tan- 
ner screwed together the pieces of his flute, wet his lips several 
times with his tongue, and played, loud and shrill, the " Mac- 
gregor's Gathering." 

" The moon's on the lake and the mist's on the brae," 

sang Hannah Thurston to herself, as she stood on the edge of 
the stream, a little distance from the others. The smell of the 
moss, and of the woolly tufts of unrolling ferns, powerfully ex- 
cited and warmed her imagination. She was never heard to 
say, in such a spot, like many young ladies, "How romantic !" 
but her eyes seemed to grow larger and darker, her pale cheek 
glowed without an increase of color, and her voice was thrilled 
with an indescribable mixture of firmness and sweetness. This 
was her first true enjoyment of the summer. The anxiety oc- 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 195 

casioned by her mother's failing health, the reawakening of 
dreams she had once conquered, the painful sense of incom- 
pleteness in her own aspirations, and the growing knowledge 
of u n worthiness in others, which revealed more clearly her 
spiritual isolation, were all forgotten. She bathed her soul in 
the splendor of summer, and whatever pain remained was not 
distinguishable from that which always dwells in the heart of 

jy- 
As she reached the line : 

" O'er the peak of Ben Lomond the galley shall steer," 

a coarse bass voice behind her joined in the song. She turned 
and beheld Seth Wattles and Dyce, seated on a rock. They 
had been listening, and might have heard her to the end, had 
not the former b^en too anxious to display his accomplish- 
ments. Her repugnance to both the men had unconsciously 
increased, and she could no longer resist the impulse which 
prompted her to avoid them. Mary Wollstonecraft was fortu- 
nately at hand, in the act of chewing fern-stems, and Hannah 
Thurston, unacquainted with the young lady's " dietetic in- 
stincts," seized her arm in some alarm and conducted her to 
her mother. 

"Let go!" cried the girl; "mamma lets me eat what I 
please." 

"But, my dear," mildly expostulated the mother, "these 
are strange plants, and they might not agree with you." 

" I don't care ; they're good," was the amiable reply. 

" Would you not rather have a cake ?" said Mrs. Waldo, 
coming to the rescue. " I have some in my basket, and will 
bring you one, if you will not put those stems in your mouth." 

" I was playing cow, but I'll stop if you'll bring me two." 

Mrs. Waldo took her way towards the old gig, which was 
left, with the other vehicles, at the edge of the grove. As she 
emerged from the shade, and looked up towards the saw-mill, 
where the sawyer, in his shirt-sleeves, was tilting about over 
a pile of scantling, she saw a horseman coming down the glen 



196 HANNAH THUKSTON: 

road. Something in his appearance caused her to stop and 
scan him more closely. At the same instant he perceived her, 
turned his horse out of the road, and cantered lightly up to 
the grove. 
"" You here !" he exclaimed ; " is it a camp-meeting ?" 

" You there, Mr. Woodbury ! Where have you been ? 
Are you to monopolize all the secular enjoyments ? No ; it is 
a pic-nic, small, but select, though I say it." 

" Ah ! who are here ?" he asked, leaning forward on his 
horse and peering into the shade " My God !" 

Mrs. Waldo, watching his countenance with merry eyes, saw 
a flush of horror, quick as lightning, pass over it. With one 
bound he was off the horse, which sprang away startled, and 
trotted back towards the road. The, next instant she saw him 
plunge- headlong into the stream. 

Phillis Wheatley, in whom the climbing propensity was at 
its height, had caught sight of a bunch of wild scarlet cohim- 
bine, near the top of a rock, around which the stream turned. 
Scrambling up the sloping side, she reached down for the 
flowers, which were still inaccessible, yet so near as to be tan- 
talizing. She then lay down on her face, and. stretching her 
arm, seized the bunch, at which she jerked with all her force. 
The roots, grappling fast in the crevices of the rock, did not 
give way as she expected. On the contrary, the resistance of 
the plant destroyed her own balance, and she whirled over 
into the water. 

Woodbury saw her dangerous position on the rock, at the 
very moment the catastrophe occurred. With an instant intu- 
ition, he perceived that the nearest point of the stream was a 
bend a little below ; a few bounds brought him to the bank, 
in time to plunge in and catch the pink frock as it was swept 
down the swift current. He had no time to think or calculate 
chances. The stream, although not more than four or five 
feet deep and twenty in breadth, bore him along with such 
force that he found it impossible to gain his feet. At the last 
turn where the current sheered toward the opposite bank, a 



A STORY OF AMEIUCAN LIFE. 197 

shrub hung over the water. His eye caught it, and, half 
springing up as he dashed along, he seized it with q^e hand. 
The momentary support enabled him to resist the current suf- 
ficiently to get his feet on the bottom, but they could gain nc 
hold on the slippery rock. As he slipped and caught alter- 
nately, in a desperate struggle, Phillis, struggling blindly with 
him, managed to get her arms around his neck. Thin as they 
were, they seemed to have the muscular power of snakes, and, 
in his hampered condition, he found it impossible to loosen 
her hold. The branch of the shrub gave way, and the resist- 
less current once more bore them down. 

Mrs. Waldo's fearful shriek rang through the grove, and 
startled the light-hearted company from their discussion of the 
evils of Society. Every one felt that something dreadful had 
happened, and rushed towards the sound in helpless and un- 
certain terror. She was already on the bank of the stream, 
her hair torn by the branches through which she had plunged, 
and her face deadly pale, as she pointed to the water, gasping, 
" Help !" One glance told the whole story. Mrs. Whitlow 
covered her face and dropped on the ground. Merryfield 
and the father ran down the bank, stretching out their 
hands with a faint hope of catching the two as the current 
brought them along. Hannah Thurston looked around in a 
desperate search for some means of help, and caught sight of a 
board which had been placed across two low rocks, for a seaj^ 
"The board quick !" she cried, to Seth and Dyce, who stood 
as if paralyzed " at the head of the fall !" Mechanically, but 
as rapidly as possible, they obeyed her. 

Woodbury, after letting go his hold of the shrub, turned 
his face with the stream, to spy, in advance, some new point 
of escape. He saw, a hundred feet ahead, the sharp edge of 
silver where the sun played on the top of the fall : the sudden 
turns of the stream were all behind him, and it now curved 
gradually to the right, slightly widening as it approached the 
brink. His perceptions, acting with the rapidity of lightning, 
told him that he must either gain the left bank before making 



198 HANNAH THUKSTON: 

half the remaining distance, or keep in the middle of the cur- 
rent, arti trust to the chance of grasping a rock which rose a 
little above the water, a few feet in advance of the fall. He 
was an experienced swimmer, but a few strokes convinced 
him that the first plan would not succeed. Before reaching 
the rock the water grew deeper, and the current whirled in 
strong eddies, which would give him some little power to di- 
rect his course. In a second they seethed around him, and, 
though the bottom fell away from under his feet, he felt a sud- 
den support from the back water from the rock. One tremen- 
dous effort and he reached it. 

To the agonized spectators on the bank, the scene was terri- 
ble. Unable to avert their eyes from the two lives sweeping 
like a flash to destruction feeling, instinctively, that there 
was no instantaneous power of action which could save they 
uttered low, incoherent cries, too benumbed to speak or think. 
Only Seth and Dyce, who had conveyed the board to the head 
of the fall, were hurriedly endeavoring to thrust it out over 
the water. In their excitement they had placed it too low to 
reach the rock. 

a Bring it further up !" shouted Mr. Whitlow. 

Seth, nervously attempting to slide it up the bank, allowed 
the outer end to drop into the current. It was instantly twist- 
ed out of his hands and whirled over the fall. 

Woodbury had gained a firm hold of the rock, but the 
water was up to his shoulders, the conflicting currents tugged 
him this way and that, and he was unable to clasp his charge 
securely. Her arms were still tight about his neck, but if her 
strength should give way, their situation would become criti- 
cal. He saw the effort made for their rescue, and its failure. 

"Another board !" he shouted. 

Seth and Dyce darted through the grove in search of one, 
while Merryfield, more practical, made off with his utmost 
speed for the saw-mill. Hannah Thurston, in spite of her re- 
lief at the escape, recognized the danger which still impended. 
A single glance showed her the difficulty under which Wood 



A STOEY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 199 

bury labored, and a sickening anxiety again overcame her. 
To stand still was impossible ; but what could she do ? On a 
stump near her lay a fragment of board about four feet in 
length. The distance from the bank to the rock was at least 
twelve. Another glance at the rapid current, and an idea, 
which, it seemed to her afterwards, some passing angel must 
lhave let fall, flashed through her brain. Snatching her silk 
'summer-shawl from the bough where it hung, she tied one end 
of it tightly around the middle of the board, drawing it to a 
firm knot on the edge. Mrs. Waldo was no less quick in com- 
prehending what she intended. By the time the knot was tied, 
her own and Mrs. Merryfield's shawls were brought and quickly 
fastened, one to another. By this means a length considerably 
greater than the breadth of the stream was obtained. 

" One thing more," said Hannah Thurston, breathlessly, as 
she took the scarf from her neck. Knotting one end and 
drawing the other through, so as to form a running noose, she 
fastened it to her shawl, near the board. Her plan came to 
her in a complete form, and hence there was no delay in put- 
ting it into execution. Taking her stand on a point of the 
bank, some feet above the rock where Woodbury clung, she 
gathered the shawls in loose links and held the 'board ready to 
throw. Woodbury, whose position was such that he could 
see her movements without risking his hold, now called to her : 

" As far as you can throw !" 

Mrs. Waldo had followed to the bank, and stood behind 
Hannah Thurston, grasping a handful of her dress, lest she, 
too, should lose her balance. But excitement gave Hannah 
firmness of nerve, when other women trembled. She flung the 
board with a steady hand, throwing the weight of the shawls, 
as much as possible, with it. It fell beyond the centre of the 
current, whirled around once or twice upon an eddy, and was 
sheering back towards the bank again, when Woodbury, 
whispering to Phillis, " Hold fast, darling !" put out one hand 
and caught it. With some difficulty, and with more risk to 
himself than the two anxious women on the bank were aware 



200 HANNAH THURSTON: 

of, he drevr the wet, sticky slip- noose of the scarf over Phillis's 
head and one arm, bringing it under her elbow before he could 
loosen her hold upon his neck. Thrusting the board under this 
arm, it was an easier task to disengage the other. 

" Wind the end of the shawl around that sapling beside 
you !" he called to Hannah Thurston. " One of you go below 
to meet her." 

Mrs. Waldo was on the spot before his words were finished. 

" Now, hold fast, my little girl, and you will be safe in a 
minute. Ready !" he cried. 

Phillis obeyed, rather through blind trust in him, than from 
her consciousness of what was going on. The poor creature 
was chilled and exhausted, half strangled by the water she had 
swallowed, and wild with terror. Her arms having once been 
loosened, she clasped them again around the board in a last 
convulsive effort of strength. Woodbury let go the frail raft, 
which, impelled by the dragging weight of the shawls, darted 
at once half-way across the stream. Then it began to move 
more slowly, and the force of the current seemed to ingulf it. 
For a moment the water rushed over the child's head, but her 
dress was already within reach of Mrs. Waldo's hand, and she 
was drawn upon the bank, gasping and nearly insensible. Mrs. 
Merryfield picked her up and carried her to the mother, who 
still lay upon the ground, with her face in her hands. 

Woodbury, relieved of his burden, now held his position 
with less difficulty. The coldness of the water, not yet tem- 
pered by the few days of summer, nevertheless, began to be 
numb him, and he was obliged to struggle against a growing 
exhaustion. Hannah Thurston, as soon as the child was 
rescued, drew in the board, examined the knots of the shawls, 
and gathered them together for another throw ; but at the 
same instant Mr. Merryfield, out of breath and unable to speak, 
appeared with a plank on his shoulder. With the aid of the 
others, the end was secured between two trees, and it was 
then run out above the water, a little below the rock, where 
the stream was shallower. Woodbury cautiously slid down. 



A STOKY OP AMERICAN LIFE. 201 

gained a firm foothold, and slowly crossed, walking sidewise, 
supported by the plank. As he neared the bank, he stretched 
out his left hand, which was grasped by Merryfield, who drew 
so tremendously that he almost lost his footing at the last 
moment. As he felt the dry earth under him, a singular 
numbness fell upon him. He saw, as in a dream, Mrs. Waldo 
and Hannah Thurston ; the former streaming with grateful 
tears, the latter pale and glad, with a moist light in her eyes. 
He sat down upon the nearest rock, chilled to the bone ; his 
lips were blue and his teeth chattered. 

" It is cold bathing," said he : " have you any wine ?" 

" We do not use intoxicating beverages," said Mr. Whitlow, 
who could not forget, even in his gratitude for his daughter's 
rescue, the necessity of bearing testimony against popular vices. 

Mrs. Waldo, however, hastily left the company. Mr. 
Merryfield took off his coat, and having removed Woodbury' s 
with some little trouble, substituted it. The dry warmth be- 
gan to revive him. " Where is my new acquaintance ?" he asked. 

Mrs. Whitlow, after an hysterical outburst of alternate 
laughter and tears, had wrapped Phillis Wheatley in the 
only remaining dry shawl and given her a saucer of mar- 
malade; but the child was still too much frightened to eat. 
Her father brought her in his arms and set her down before 
Woodbury. " There, Phillis," said he, and his voice trembled 
a little, " you must thank the gentleman for saving your life." 

" Thank you for saving my life !" said Phillis, in a rueful 
voice. 

" Not me," said Woodbury, rising slowly and wearily, and 
turning towards Hannah, " but Miss Thurston. Your cool- 
ness and presence of mind saved both of us." 

He took her hand. His fingers were as cold as ice, yet a 
warmth she never before felt streamed from them through her 
whole frame. 

Mrs. Waldo suddenly made her appearance, as breathless as 
before Mr. Merryfield had been, with the plank on his shoulder. 
She carried in her hand a tumbler full of a yellowish liquid. 
9* 



202 HANNAH THUKSTON: 



" There," she panted, " drink it. Thankful am I that there 
are still sinners in the world. The sawyer had a black jug. 
It's poisonous stuff, I know leads to the gates of death, and 
all that but I thanked God when I saw it." 

" Good Samaritan !" exclaimed Woodbury fervently, as he 
drank. It was, in truth, the vilest form of whiskey, but it 
steadied his teeth and thawed his frozen blood. 

" Now for my horse and a gallop home !" he said. 

" Where is the horse ?" they asked. 

" I'll get him," exclaimed Seth, with alacrity. 

"Hadn't you better go up to Jones's, as it were," said 
Merryfield " He's stopped the saw-mill, and run to the house 
to get a fire kindled. You can dry yourself first, and Sarah 
can make you some tea or coffee." 

Jones made his appearance at almost the same instant. 
" I ketched y'r horse, Mr. Maxwood," said he, running the 
names together in his excitement. " He's all light. Come up 
t' th' house : Mary Jane's made a rousin' fire, and you kin 
dry y'rself." 

" Thank you, my friends," Woodbury answered. " Your 
whiskey has done me great service, Mr. Jones, and what I now 
want more than any thing else is a little lively motion. Will 
you please lend Mr. Merryfield one of your coats, since he has 
kindly given me his ? I shall ride over and see you to- 
morrow ; but now let me get to my horse as soon as possible." 

He put his hand on the sawyer's shoulder, to steady him- 
self, for his steps were still tottering, and was turning away, 
when he perceived his wet coat, spread out on a rock. Pick- 
ing it up, he took a note-book and some pulpy letters from the 
breast-pocket. After examining the latter, he crushed them 
in his hand, and tossed them into the stream. He then felt 
the deep side-pockets : in one there was a wet handkerchief, 
but on reaching the other he dropped the coat. 

" There, Mr, Dyce," said he, " you will find your pamphlet. 
I had it in my pocket, intending to leave it with Mr. Merry- 
field this afternoon. It is pretty thoroughly soaked by this 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 203 

time, but all the waters of Roaring Brook could not wash it 
clean." 

Nodding a cheerful good-by to Mrs. Waldo, a respectful 
one to Hannah Thurston, and giving Phillis a kiss which left 
her staring at him in open-mouthed astonishment, he left the 
company. The sawyer, with a rough tenderness, insisted on 
keeping his arm around Woodbury's waist, and on reaching 
the mill produced the black jug, from which it was impossible 
to escape without a mild libation. Woodbury repaid it the 
next day with a bottle of smoky " Islay," the remembrance of 
which made Jones's mouth water for years afterwards. 

The pic-nic, of course, was at an end. Without unpacking 
the refreshments, the party made immediate preparations to 
return. The fire Mrs. Jones had kindled was employed to dry 
Phillis and the shawls, while the gentlemen harnessed the 
horses. Mr. Merryfield went about in the sawyer's Sunday 
coat, which had been first made for his wedding, sixteen years 
before. It was blue$ with brass buttons, a high rolling collar, 
very short waist, and tails of extraordinary length. No one 
laughed, however, except Mary Wollstonecraft. 

In spite of the accident, which left an awed and subdued 
impression upon all minds, the ride home was very animated. 
Each was anxious to describe his or her feelings, but Mrs. 
Whitlow was tacitly allowed to play the chief part. 

" You were all running here and there," said she, u and the 
movement was some relief. What I suffered, no tongue can 
describe. But I am reconciled to it now. I see in it a 
mysterious sign that Phillis Wheatley is to have an im- 
portant mission in the world, and my duty is to prepare her 
for it." 

Fortunately, no injury resulted to the girl thus mysteriously 
commissioned, from the manner in which it was done. She 
was obliged, very much against her will, to lie down for the 
rest of the day ; but the next morning she was discovered in 
the stable, pulling the tail-feathers out of an old cock she had 
caught. 



204 HANNAH THUESTON: 

On Monday, the Wintlows took their departure for Niagara, 
greatly to the relief of their hosts. As they do not appear 
again in the course of this history, we may hope that the re- 
mainder of their journey was agreeable. 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 205 



CHAPTER XVI. 

<0 

CONCERNING AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY TO TIBERIUS. 

Two days after the departure of the Whitlows, Mr. Dyce, 
during breakfast, announced his intention of leaving Ptolemy. 
"I have promised to visit the Community," said he, " and it is 
now a pleasant time to be there. Could you lend me your 
horse and carriage as far as Tiberius, Merryfield ?" 

" Not to-day, I guess," said the farmer ; " I must go to 
Mulligan sville this afternoon, to see about buying another cow, 
and Henry has the hill-field to hoe. You could take Jinny and 
the carriage, but how would I get them back again?" 

" I will go," said his wife, with an unusual eagerness. " I 
must go there soon, any way. I've things to buy, you know, 
James, and there's Mrs. Kevins that I've been owing a visit 
to, this ever so long." 

"Well, if you want to, Sarah," he answered, "I've nothing 
against it. Are you sure it won't be too much for you ? You 
know you've been having extra work, and you're not strong." 

Mrs. Merryfield drew up the corners of her mouth, and gave 
a spasmodic sob. " Yes, I know I am the weaker vessel," she 
wailed, " and my own judgment don't pass for any thing." 

"Sarah, Sarah, don't be foolish!" said- her husband; " you 
know I never interfere unreasonably with your ways. You 
can do as you please. I spoke for your own good, and you 
needn't cry about it." 

He rose with an impatient air, and left the table. He could 
not but admit to himself, sometimes, that the happiness of his 
married life had not increased in proportion to his progress in 



206 HANNAH THUKSTON: 

the knowledge of Reform. When he looked back and recalled 
the lively, rosy young woman, with her first nuptial bashful- 
ness and air of dependence on her husband fresh about her, 
whom he had brought to the farm-house twenty-five years 
before, when they lived in utter ignorance of dietetic laws and 
solemn duties towards the Human Race, he could not repress 
a feeling of pain. The sallow, fretful woman, who now con- 
sidered her years of confiding love as a period of servitude, 
which she strove to balance by claiming more than an equal 
share in the direction of the household, was another (and less 
agreeable) creature, in comparison with her former self. Of 
late, she had grown more than usually irritable and unsatisfied, 
and, although he had kindly ascribed the fact to housekeeping 
perplexities, his patience was sorely tried. There was no 
remedy but endurance, so far as he could see. It was impos- 
sible, now, to change his convictions in regard to woman's 
rights, and he was too sincere to allow the practice of his life 
to be inconsistent with them. 

When he returned at noon from a distant field, where he had 
been engaged all the morning, he was surprised to find the 
carriage still at home, although his man Henry was engaged 
in greasing the hubs of the wheels. " Why, Sarah," said he, 
as he sat down to dinner, "I thought you would have been 
off." 

" I couldn't get ready," she answered, rather sullenly. " But 
I need not come back to-night. It will be better for Jinny, 
anyhow." 

Mr. Dyce was unusually talkative on the subject of the Com- 
munity, the charms of which he painted in the liveliest colors. 
His host was tired of the subject, but listened with an air of 
tolerance, as he was so soon to get rid of the speaker. 

Bidding the latter good-by, immediately after dinner, he 
saddled his horse and rode to Mulligansville. The new cow 
met his requirements, and a bargain was soon concluded. She 
was to be brought to the farm next day, when th.e price agreed 
upon would be paid. Mr. Merryfield had adopted the sensible 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 207 

rule of defraying all such expenses as they arose. Hence his 
crops were never mortgaged in advance, and by waiting until 
they could be sold to the best advantage, he prospered from 
year to year. 

When he reached home again, it was nearly four o'clock. 
Putting up his horse, he entered the house and went directly 
to the old-fashioned mixture of book-case, writing-desk, and 
chest of drawers, which stood in a corner of the sitting-room. 
He must make a note of the purchase, and, since he was alone, 
might as well spend an hour, he thought, in looking over his 
papers and making his calculations for the summer. 

He was very methodical in his business arrangements, and 
the desk was in such perfect order that he always knew the 
exact place of each particular paper. This was one of the 
points of controversy with his wife, which he never yielded : 
he insisted that she should not open the desk in his absence. 
This time, however, as he seated himself, drew out the sup- 
ports for the lid, and let it down upon them, his exact eye 
showed him that something had been disturbed. The papers 
in one of the pigeon-holes projected a little further than usual, 
and the corners were not square as they should be. Besides, 
the pile appeared to be diminished in height. He knew every 
paper the pigeon-hole contained, took them out and ran rapid- 
ly through them. One was missing ! an envelope, containing 
bonds of the New York Central Railroad, to the amount of 
three thousand dollars, the private property of his wife. It 
was the investment of a sum which she had inherited at her 
father's death, made in her own name, and the interest of 
which she had always received for her separate use. 

He leaned back in his chair, thunderstruck at the discovery. 
Could one of the servants have taken the envelope ? Impossi- 
ble. Dyce ? how should he know where to find it ? Evi- 
dently, nothing else had been touched. Had his wife, perhaps, 
taken it with her, to dravy the semi-annual interest at Tiberius? 
It was not yet due. Mechanically, hardly conscious of what he 
suspected or feared, he arose and went up-stairs. In the bed- 



208 HANNAH THUESTON '. 

room which Dyce had last occupied, every thing was in order. 
He passed into his own, opening closets and wardrobes, ex- 
pecting either to find or miss something which might enlight- 
en him. In his wife's wardrobe three pegs, upon which dresses 
had hung, were empty. He jerked open, in haste, the draw- 
ers of her bureau : many things had apparently been removed. 
Closing them again, he raised his head, and a little note, stick- 
ing among the bristles of the hair-brush, which lay on its back 
in front of the looking-glass, caught his eye. He seized it, un- 
folded it with shaking hands, put on his spectacles and read. 
There were but two lines : 

"Send to -Tiberius for the carriage. lam going to the 
Community." 

It was a hard blow for the poor man. The idea of conjugal 
infidelity on the part of his wife was simply incredible, and no 
suspicion of that nature entered his mind. It was a deliberate 
case of desertion, and the abstraction of the bonds indicated 
that it was meant to be final. What her motives were, he 
could only guess at in a confused way ; but he knew that she 
would never, of her own accord, have determined upon a course 
so mad and ruinous. Many things were suddenly clear to him. 
The evil influence of Dyce, strengthened by his assumed pow- 
er, as a medium, of bringing her children near to her ; the mag- 
netic strength, morbid though it was, of the man's words and 
presence ; the daily opportunities of establishing some intan- 
gible authority over the wife, during her husband's absence, 
until she became, finally, the ignorant slave of his will all tLis, 
or the possibility of it, presented itself to Merryfield's mind in 
a rush of dim and tangled impressions. He had neither the 
time nor the power to unravel them, but he felt that there was 
truth at the core. Following this conviction came the deter- 
mination to save her yes ! save her at once. There was no 
time to be lost. Tiberius was eighteen miles distant, and they 
could not yet have arrived there. He must follow instantly, 
and overtake them, if possible, before the departure of the train 
from the west. 



A STOBY OP AMERICAN LIFE. 209 

Why was he delaying there ? The ten minutes that he had 
been standing, motionless, in the centre of the room, with the 
note in his hand, his eyes mechanically reading the two lines 
over and over, until the first terrible chaos of his feelings sub- 
sided, had lengthened themselves into hours. Breaking the 
spell at last, he drew a long breath, which resolved itself into 
a groan, and lifted his head. The little looking-glass on the 
bureau was before him: moving a step nearer, he examined hi 
own face with a pitiful curiosity. It looked old and haggard ; 
the corners of his mouth were rigidly drawn and tightened, and 
the pinched nostrils twitched in spite of himself, but his eyes 
were hard and dry. 

" It don't make much difference in my looks, after all," he 
said to himself, with a melancholy laugh ; and the next instant 
the eyes overflowed. 

After this brief outbreak, he recovered some strength and 
steadiness, and rapidly arranged in his mind what was first to 
be done. Taking oif his work-day clothes, he put on a better 
suit, and descended the stairs. Calling to the servant-girl in 
the kitchen, he informed her, in a voice which he strove to 
make natural and unconcerned, that he was suddenly obliged 
to visit Tiberius on business, but would return the next day, 
with his wife. He left directions with her for Henry, the 
field-hand, regarding the morrow's work, then resaddled his 
horse and rode rapidly to Ptolemy. 

On the way, his thoughts involuntarily went in advance, and 
he endeavored to prefigure the meeting with his wife. It was 
impossible for him, however, to decide what course he should 
pursue in case she should persist in her determination. It was 
not enough to overtake her ; he must be armed at all points 
to subdue and reclaim her. She had a stubborn power of re- 
sistance with which he was well acquainted ; and, moreover, 
Dyce would be ready enough to assist her. He foreboded his 
own helplessness in such a case, though the right was on his 
side and the flagrant wrong on hers. 

"It's my own fault," he groaned, bitterly; "I've given 



210 HANNAH THURSTOJT : 

way to her so long that I've lost my rightful influence over 
her." 

One means of help suggested itself to his mind, and was 
immediately accepted. Leaving his horse at the livery stable, 
and ordering a fast, fresh animal and a light buggy to be sent 
to the Cimmerian Parsonage, he proceeded thither on foot. 

Mr. Waldo was in his " study," which was one corner of 
his wife's sitting-room. He was engaged in an epistolary con- 
troversy with a clergyman of the Free-will Baptists, occasion- 
ally reading aloud a paragraph as he wrote. His wife, busily 
at work in remaking an old dress, listened and commended. 
They were both startled by the entrance of Mr. Merryfield, 
whose agitation was apparent in his face, and still more so in 
his voice, us he greeted them. 

" What has happened ?" exclaimed Mrs. Waldo. 

" I dcn't hardly know, as yet," he stammered. " I want 
your help, Mr. Waldo. Come with me I'm going to Tiberius. 

My wife" Here he paused, blushing with utter shame 

for her. 

" Would you rather speak to my husband alone ?" said Mrs. 
Waldo, rising from her seat. 

" Xo, you must hear the rest, now," he answered. " You're 
a good woman, Mrs. Waldo good and true, and perhaps you, 
too, can help. Sarah wants to leave me, and I must bring her 
back I must, this night." 

He then told them, briefly and brokenly, his painful story. 
Amazement and pity filled the hearts of the two good people, 
who felt his misfortune almost as keenly as if it were their 
own. Mrs. Waldo commenced making the few preparations 
necessary for her husband's departure, even before his consent 
was uttered. When the team was announced as ready, she 
took Mr. Merryfield's hand and bade him God-speed, with tears 
in her eyes. The poor man was too much moved to reply. 
Then, catching her husband's arm, as he was issuing from the 
room, she whispered earnestly, "No harshness I know her: 
she must be coaxed and persuaded." 



A STOEY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 211 

" I wish it were you who were going, my good wife," said 
Mr. Waldo, kissing her ; ''you would make no mistake. But 
be sure that I will act tenderly and carefully." 

They drove away. She watched them turn the next corner, 
and went into the house powerfully excited by such a sudden 
and singular catastrophe. Her quick, intuitive mind, and her 
knowledge of Mrs. Merryfield's weak points, enabled her to 
comprehend the action more correctly than the husband him- 
self. This very knowledge was the source of her greatest 
anxiety ; for she saw that the success of the journey hung by 
a hair. Having already committed herself, Mrs. Merryfield, 
she foresaw, would not give up her plan from the discovery 
of it, merely. She was not the woman to fall at her husband's 
feet, repentant, at the first sight of him, and meekly return to 
her forsaken home. The utmost tact would be required tact 
of a kind, of which, with all her respect for the sex, she felt 
that a man was not capable. 

The more she pondered on the matter, the more restless 
and anxious she grew. Her husband's last words remained 
in her ears : " You would make no mistake." That was not 
certain, but she would make none, she knew, which could not 
at once be rectified. An inner voice continually said to her, 
" Go !" Her unrest became at last insupportable ; she went 
to the stable, and harnessed their horse to the old gig with her 
own hands. Then taking her shawl, and thrusting some re- 
freshments into a basket for she would not delay even long 
enough to make a cup of tea she clambered into the creaking 
vehicle, and drove off. 

Mrs. Waldo, however, like many good women whose moral 
courage is equal to any emergency, was in some respects a 
ridiculous coward. Even in company with her husband, she 
never passed along the country roads, at night, without an in- 
cessant sensation of fear, which had no positive shape, and 
therefore could not be battled against. It was now six o'clock, 
and the darkness would be upon her long before she could 
reach Tiberius. The thought of making the journey alone, 



212 HANNAH THUKSTON : 

was dreadful ; if the suspended fate of the Merryfields was to 
be decided by her alone, she would have been almost ready 
to hesitate. There was but one person in Ptolemy to whom 
she dared tell the story, and who was equally authorized with 
herself, to go that person was Hannah Tlmrston. 

All these thoughts passed through her mind, and her reso- 
lution was taken, while she was harnessing the horse. She 
drove at once to the Widow Thurston's cottage, and was for- 
tunate enough to find her and her daughter at their early tea. 
Summoning them into the next room, out of ear-shot of the 
little. servant, she communicated the story and her request in 
the fewest possible words. She left them no time to recover 
from the news. " Don't stop to consider, Hannah," she said, 
" we can talk on the way. There is not a moment to lose." 

Miss Thurston hesitated, overcome by a painful perplexity. 
The matter had been confided to her, without the knowledge 
of the principal actors, and she was not sure that her unex- 
pected appearance before them would lead to good. Besides, 
Mrs. Merryfield's act was utterly abhorrent to all her womanly 
instincts, and her virgin nature shrank from an approach to it, 
even in the way of help. She stood irresolute. 

The widow saw what was passing in her mind. " I know 
how thee feels, Hannah," said she, " and I would not advise 
thee, if thy way were not clear to my mind. I feel that it is 
right for thee to go. The Saviour took the hand of the fallen 
woman, and thee may surely take Sarah's hand to save her, 
maybe, from falling. Now, when thy gift may be of service 
now is the time to use it freely. Something tells me that 
thy help will not be altogether in vain." 

" I will go, mother," the daughter replied. " Thy judg- 
ment is safer than mine." 

In five minutes more the two women were on their way. 
The loveliest evening sunshine streamed across the valley, 
brightening the meadows and meadow-trees, and the long, 
curving sweep of the eastern hill. The vernal grass, which, in 
its flowering season, has a sweeter breath than the roses of Gu- 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 213 

listan, was cut in many places, and lay in balmy windrows. The 
air was still and warm, and dragon-flies, .emitting blue and 
emerald gleams from their long wings, hovered in zigzag lines 
along the brooksides. . Now and then a thrush fluted from 
the alder-thickets, or an oriole flashed like a lighted brand 
through the shadows of the elms. The broad valley basked 
in the lazy enjoyment of its opulent summer hues ; and what- 
ever sounds arose from its bosom, they all possessed a tone of 
passive content or active joy. But the travellers felt nothing 
of all this beauty : that repose of the spiritual nature, in which 
the features of the external world are truly recognized, had 
been rudely disturbed. 

They passed the Merryfield farm-house. How sadly at vari- 
ance with its sunny air of peace was the tragic secret of its 
owners, which the two women carried with them ! The huge 
weeping willow trailed its hanging masses of twigs against the 
gable, and here and there a rose-tree thrust its arm through 
the white garden paling and waved a bunch of crimson, as if 
to say : " Come in and see how we are blooming !" Towards 
the barn, the field-hand was letting down bars for the waiting 
cows, and the servant-girl issued from the kitchen-door with 
her tin milk-kettle, as they gazed. What a mockery it all 
seemed ! 

A little further, and the cataract thundered on their right. 
All below the rocky wall lay in shadow, but the trees on its 
crest were still touched by the sun, and thin wreaths of spray, 
whirling upward, were suddenly converted into dust of gold. 
Hannah Thurston looked up at the silent grove, and shuddered 
as she recalled the picture she had last seen there. The brook 
could never again wear to her its former aspect of wayward, 
impetuous jubilation. Under its green crystal and glassy 
slides lurked an element of terror, of pitiless cruelty. Yet 
even the minutes of agonizing suspense she had there endured 
were already softened in her memory, and seemed less terrible 
than the similar trial which awaited her. 

Near the entrance to Lakeside they met Bute Wilson, with 



214 HANNAH THTJJRSTON: 

a yoke of oxen. He recognized the old gig, and with a loud 
" Haw, Buck, come hither !" drew his team off the road." 
. " Takin' a drive, are ye ? How d'you do, Mrs. Waldo 
Miss Hannah ?" 

" Good-evening, Bute !" said Mrs. Waldo. " How is Mr. 
Woodbury ? I hope he has not suffered from being so long- 
in the water." 

"Bless you, no ! Mr. Max. is as sound as a roach. He rid 
over to Tiberius this afternoon. I say, wasn't it lucky that 
jist. he should ha' come along at the right time ?" Bute's face 
glowed with pride and delight. 

" It was Providential : good-by !" 

Slowly climbing the long ravine, through dark woods, it 
was after sunset when they reached the level of the upland. 
The village of Anacreon soon came in sight, and they drove 
rapidly through, not wishing to be recognized. Beyond this 
point the road was broad, straight, and firm, and they could 
make better progress. A low arch of orange light lingered 
in the west, but overhead the larger stars came out, one after 
another. Belts of warm air enveloped them on the heights, 
but the dusky hollows were steeped in grateful coolness, and 
every tree by the roadside gave out its own peculiar odor. 
The ripe, antique breath of the oak, the honeyed bitter of the 
tulip-tree, and the perfect balsam of the hickory, were breathed 
upon them in turn. A few insects still chirped among the 
clover, and the unmated frogs serenaded, by fits, their reluctant 
sweethearts. At one of the farm-houses they passed, a girl, 
seated in the porch, was singing : 

" "We have lived and loved together, 
Through many changing years." 

Every circumstance seemed to conspire, by involuntary con- 
trast, to force the difficult and painful task they had under- 
taken more distinctly upon their minds. After Mrs. Waldo 
had imparted all she knew, with her own conjectures of the 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 215 

causes of the desertion, both women were silent for a long 
time, feeling, perhaps, that it was impossible to arrange, in 
advance, any plan of action. They must trust to the sugges- 
tions which the coming interview would supply. 

" I cannot understand it," said Hannah Thurston, at last. 
" After so many years of married life after having children 
born to them, and lost, uniting them by the more sacred bond 
of sorrow how is it possible? TJiey certainly loved each 
other : what has become of her love ?" 

" She has it somewhere, yet, you may be sure," said Mrs. 
Waldo. " She is weak and foolish, but she does not mean to 
be criminal. Dyce is a dangerous man, and he has led her to 
the step. No other man she knows could have done it." 

" Can she love him ?" 

"Probably not. But a strong, unscrupulous man who 
knows our sex, Hannah, has a vast power which most women 
do not understand. He picks up a hundred little threads of 
weakness, each of which is apparently insignificant, and 
twists them into a chain. He surprises us at times when our 
judgment is clouded, his superior reason runs in advance of 
our thoughts and we don't think very hard, you know and 
will surely bind us hand and foot, unless some new personality 
comes in to interrupt him. We women are governed by per- 
sonal influences there is no use in denying the fact. And 
men, of course, have the strongest." 

" I have sometimes feared as much," said Hannah Thurston, 
sadly, " but is it not owing to a false education ? Are not 
women trained to consider themselves inferior, and thus de- 
pendent? Do not the daughters learn the lesson of their 
mothers, and the fathers impress the opposite lesson on their 
sons ?" 

" I know what you mean, and you are partly right. But 
that is not all. There are superior women whom we look up 
to I look up to you, Hannah, who are, intellectually, so far 
above me but they never impress us with the same sense of 
power, of protecting capacity, that we feel in the presence of 



210 HAXNAH THURSTON: 



almost any man. It is something I cannot explain a sort of 
physical magnetism, I suppose. I respect men : I like them 
because they are men, I am not ashamed to confess : and I am 
not humiliated as a woman, by acknowledging the difference." 

" Habit and tradition !" Hannah Thurston exclaimed. 

" I know you will think so, Hannah, and I am not able to an- 
swer you. When I hear you speak, sometimes, every word you 
say seems just and true, but my instincts, as a woman, remain 
the same. Your life has been very different from mine, and 
perhaps you have taken, without knowing it, a sort of warlike 
position towards men, and have wilfully resisted their natural 
influence over you. For your sake, I have often longed and 
you must pardon me, if I ought not to say such a thing that 
some man, in every respect worthy of you, should come to 
know you as you are, and love you, and make you his wife." 

" Don't don't speak of that," she whispered. 

" I couldn't help it, to-night, dear," Mrs. Waldo soothingly 
replied. " I have been thinking as I came along, what cause 
I have to thank God for having given me a good and faithful 
husband. I should never have been happy as a single woman, 
and for that reason, no doubt, your life seems imperfect to 
me. But we cannot always judge the hearts of others by our 
own." 

By this time the glimmering arch of summer twilight had 
settled behind the hills, and only the stars lighted them on 
their way. The road stretched before them like a dusky 
band, between the shapeless darkness of woods and fields, on 
either side. Indistinct murmurs of leaves and rustlings among 
the grass began to be heard, and at every sound Mrs. Waldo 
started nervously. 

" Was there ever such a coward as I am !" she exclaimed, 
in a low voice. "If you were not. with me, I should go wild 
with fear. Do you suppose any man in the world is so 
timid V" 

''There, again, I cannot judge," Miss Thurston answered. 

I only know that I arn never alarmed at night, and that this 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 217 

journey would be a perfect enjoyment, if we were not going 
on such an unfortunate errand." 

"I always knew you were an exception among women. 
Your nerves are like a man's, but mine are altogether feminine, 
and I can't help myself." 

The horse stopped at a toll-gate. They were only two 
miles from Tiberius, and the road descended the greater part 
of the way. Mrs. Waldo recovered her courage, for the 
houses were now more thickly scattered, and the drive would 
soon be at an end. The old horse, too, had by this time recog- 
nized the extent of his task, and determined to get through 
with it. They rattled rapidly onwards, and from the next rise 
saw the lights of the town, twinkling around the foot of 
Atauga Lake. 

As they reached the suburban belt, where every square, 
flat-roofed, chocolate-colored villa stood proudly in the centre 
of its own square plot of ground, Hannah Thurston asked: 

" Where shall we go ?" 

" Bless me, I never thought of that. But I think my hus- 
band generally stops at ' The Eagle,' and we can at least leave 
the horse there. Then we must try to find him and the 
others. I think our best plan would be to go to the railroad 
station." 

The gardens and villas gradually merged into the irregular, 
crowded buildings which lined the principal street. Many 
stores were open, the side-walks were lively with people, 
transparencies gleamed before ice-cream saloons, and gas- 
lamps burned brilliantly at the corners. 

" What time is it ?" asked Mrs. Waldo. 

Hannah Thurston looked at her watch. "A quarter past 
nine." 

" We have made good time," said her companion ; " Heaven 
grant that we are not too late !" 
10 



218 HANNAH THUKSTON: 



CHAPTER XVII. 

WHICH SOLVES THE PRECEDING ONE. 

MRS. MERRYFIELD, on forsaking her home, had not anticipated 
the possibility of an immediate pursuit. She supposed, of 
course, that her husband would first discover her intention the 
next morning, when he would have occasion to use the hair- 
brush. He would then, sooner or later, she believed, follow 
her to the Community, where the sight of a Perfect Society, 
of an Eden replanted on the Earth, would not only convince 
him of the wisdom of her act, but compel him to imitate it. 
If their convictions had been reversed, and he had desired to 
try the new social arrangement, could he not have done so 
with impunity, regardless of her opposition? Then, their 
rights being equal, why should she consult his pleasure ? 

Thus she reasoned, or, rather, Dyce reasoned for her. She 
was a very weak and foolish woman, afflicted with that worst 
of temperaments which is at the same time peevish and stub- 
born, and did not at all appreciate the gravity of the step she 
had taken. An inner voice, indeed, told her that its secrecy 
was unjustifiable that she should openly and boldly declare 
her intention to her husband ; but her base friend easily per- 
suaded her that it was better to draw him after her when she 
had reached the Community, and settle the difference there. 
His own eyes would then convince him of her wisdom : oppo- 
sition would be impossible, with the evidence before him. She 
would thus spare herself a long and perhaps fruitless encounter 
of opinions, which, owing to the finer organization of her 
spiritual nature, she ought to avoid. Such differences, he 
said, disturbed the atmosphere in which spirits most readily 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 219 

approached and communicated with her. In the pure and 
harmonious life of the Community, she might perhaps attain to 
the condition of a medium, and be always surrounded by an- 
gelic company. 

The afternoon was hot and they drove slowly, so that even 
before they reached Tiberius, the two parties of pursuers were 
on the way. Just as they entered the town, Mr. Woodbury 
passed the carriage on horseback^ Glancing at its occupants, 
he recognized Mrs. Merryfield, bowed, and reined in his horse 
as if to speak, but seeing Dyce, his cordial expression became 
suddenly grave, and he rode on. This encounter troubled 
Mrs. Merryfield. A secret uneasiness had been growing upon 
her during the latter part of the way, and Woodbury's look 
inspired her with a vague fear. She involuntarily hoped that 
she might not meet him again, or any one she knew, before 
leaving Tiberius. She would not even visit Mrs. Nevins, as 
she had proposed. Moreover, Woodbury would probably put 
up at the hotel which she and her husband usually visited. 
Another must be selected, and she accordingly directed Dyce 
to drive through the town to a tavern on its northern side, not 
far from the railroad station. 

At half-past eight in the evening her husband and Mr. 
Waldo alighted in front of " The Eagle." As the former was 
giving orders about the horse to the attendant ostler, Wood- 
bury came down the steps and immediately recognized the 
new arrivals. 

" What !" he exclaimed, " is all Ptolemy coming to Tiberius 
to-day ? Your wife has the start of you, Mr. Merryfield : I 
passed her this evening" 

A violent grasp on his arm interrupted him. " Where is 
she ? Have they left ?" the husband hoarsely asked. 

The light from the corner-lamp fell full upon his face. Its 
expression of pain and anxiety was unmistakable, and a pre- 
sentiment of the incredible truth shot through Woodbury's 
rnind. 

" Hush, my friend !" said Mr. Waldo. " Control yourself 



220 HANNAH THUE.STON : 

while we register our names, and then we will go to work. 
It is fortunate that you have betrayed yourself to Mr. Wood- 
bury instead of some one else. Come with us!" he added, 
turning to the latter ; " you must now know the rest. We 
can trust every thing to your honor." 

They entered the office of the hotel. Merryfield, after 
drinking a large tumbler of ice-water, recovered some degree 
of composure. Mr. Waldo ascertained from the landlord that 
the next train for the east would leave at midnight, the pre- 
vious train having left at five o'clock. Woodbury, seeing the 
necessity of a private understanding, invited them both to his 
room, where the whole affair was explained to him, and he 
was able to assure them, by recalling the hour of his own ar- 
rival, that Dyce and Mrs. Merryfield must be still in the town. 

" We have three hours," said he, " and they must be found 
in half the time. There must not be a meeting at the station. 
Have you no idea, Mr. Merryfield, where your wife would go ?" . 

" She spoke of visiting Mrs. Nevins, as it were," he replied. 

" Then it is quite unlikely that she is there," said Woodbury. 
" But we must first settle the point. Let us go at once : where 
is the house ?" 

Merryfield led the way, much supported and encouraged by 
Woodbury's prompt, energetic manner. He had now less 
dread of the inevitable encounter with Dyce. 

A walk of ten minutes brought them to the Nevins mansion. 
It was a small villa, with a Grecian portico, seated in a diminu- 
tive garden. There was a light in the front room. Mr. 
Waldo was unacquainted with the inmates, and afraid to 
allow Merryfield to enter the house alone. There was a 
moment of perplexity. 

" I have it," said Woodbury, suddenly. " Move on a little, 
and wait for me." He boldly entered the garden and stepped 
upon the Grecian portico. The windows had muslin curtains 
across their lower half, but he easily looked over them into 
the room. A middle-aged woman, in a rocking-chair, was 
knitting some worsted stuff with a pair of wooden needles. 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 221 

On the other side of the lamp, with his back to her, sat a man, 
absorbed in a newspaper. A boy of ten years old lay asleep 
on the carpet. Noting all this at a glance, Woodbury knocked 
at the door. A rustling of the newspaper followed, footsteps 
entered the hall, and the outer door was opened. 

Woodbury assumed a natural air of embarrassed disappoint- 
ment. " I am afraid," said he, " that I have made a mistake. 
Does Mr. Israel Thompson live here?" 

" Israel Thompson ? I don't know any such person. There's 
James Thompson, lives further down the street, on the other 
side." 

u Thank you. I will inquire of him. I am a stranger here," 
and he rejoined his friends. " Now," said he, " to save time, 
Mr. Waldo, you and I must visit the other hotels, dividing 
them between us. Mr. Merryfield had better not take any part 
in the search. Let him wait for us on the corner opposite 
' The Eagle.' We can make our separate rounds in twenty 
minutes, and I am sure we shall have discovered them by that 
time." 

An enumeration of the hotels was made, and the two gen- 
tlemen divided them in such a manner as to economize time 
in making their rounds. They then set out in different direc- 
tions, leaving Merryfield to walk back alone to the rendezvous. 
Hitherto, the motion and excitement of the pursuit had kept 
him up, but now he began to feel exhausted and desponding. 
He had not eaten since noon, and experienced all the weakness 
without the sensation of hunger. A powerful desire for an 
artificial stimulant came over him, and, for a moment, he halted 
before the red light of a drinking-saloon, wondering whether 
there was any one inside who could recognize him. The door 
opened, and an atmosphere of rank smoke, tobacco-soaked saw- 
dust, and pungent whiskey gushed out ; oaths and fragments 
of obscene talk met his ears, a,nd he hurried away in disgust. 
At " The Eagle " he fortified himself again with ice-water, 
and then took his stand on the opposite corner, screened from 
the lamp-light by an awning-post. 



222 HANNAH THUKSTON: 



The late storekeepers up and down the street were putting 
up their shutters, but the ice-cream transparencies still shone 
brightly, and the number of visitors rather increased than di- 
minished. From a neighboring house came the sound of a 
piano, and presently a loud, girlish voice which sang : " I dreamt 
that I dwe-helt in ma-harble halls." What business, he 
thought, had people to be eating ice-cream and singing songs ? 
It was an insulting levity. How long a time his friends had 
been absent ! A terrible fear came over him what if he 
should not find his wife ? At night no, he dared not think 
of it. He looked down the crossing streets, in all four direc- 
tions, as far as his eye could pierce, and inspected the approach- 
ing figures. Now he was sure he recognized Woodbury's 
commanding form; now the brisk gait of the short clergy- 
man. But they came nearer and resolved themselves into 
strangers. Then he commenced again, striving to keep an 
equal watch on all the streets. The appointed time was past, 
and they did not come ! A cold sweat began to gather on 
his forehead, and he was ready to despair. All at once, Mr. 
Waldo appeared, close at hand, and hurried up to him, breath- 
less. 

" I have finished my list," said he. 

" Have you found them ?" 

"No, but - what does this mean!" cried the clergyman, 
starting. " That is my horse, certainly and the old gig ! 
Can my wife" - 

He did not finish, the sentence, but sprang into the street 
and called. The horse turned his head from a sudden jerk of 
the lines, and in a moment was drawn up beside the pave- 
ment. 

" How glad I am we have met you ! I could not stay at 
home, indeed. You will let us help, will you not ? Are we 
in time ?" cried Mrs. Waldo, apology, entreaty, and anxiety 
all mingling in her voice. 

" With God's favor, we are still in time," her husband an- 
swered. 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 223 

"I thank you for coming you and Hannah, both," Merry- 
field sadly added, " but I'm afraid it's no use." 

" Cheer up," said the clergyman, " Mr. Woodbury will be 
here in a moment." 

"He is here already," said Woodbury, joining them at the 

instant. " I have " He paused, recognizing the gig and 

its occupants, and looked inquiringly at Mr. Waldo. 

" They know it," answered the latter, " and for that reason 
they have come." 

"Brave women! We may need their help. I have found 
the persons we are looking for at the Beaver House, in the 
second-story parlor, waiting for the midnight train." 

" Then drive on, wife," said Mr. Waldo ; " you can put up the 
horse there. You are known at the Eagle, and we had better 
avoid curiosity. Follow us : Mr. Woodbury will lead the way." 

They passed up the street, attracting no notice, as the con- 
nection between the movements of the women in the gig, and 
the three men on the sidewalk, was not apparent. In a short 
time they reached the Beaver House, a second-rate hotel, with 
a deserted air, on a quiet street, and near the middle of the 
block. Two or three loafers were in the office, half sliding 
out of the short arm-chairs as they lounged, and lazily talk- 
ing. Woodbury called the landlord to the door, gave the 
horse into his charge, and engaged a private room until mid- 
night. There was one, he had already ascertained, adjoining 
the parlor on the second story. He offered liberal pay, pro- 
vided no later visitors were thrust upon them, and the landlord 
was very willing to make the arrangement. It was not often 
that he received so much patronage in one evening. 

After a hurried consultation, in whispers, they entered the v 
house. The landlord preceded them up-stairs with a lamp, 
and ushered them into the appointed room. It was a small 
oblong chamber, the floor decorated with a coarse but very 
gaudy carpet, and the furniture covered with shiny hair-cloth, 
very cold, and stiff, and slippery. There was a circular table 
of mahogany, upon which lay a Bible, and the Odd-Fellow's 



224 HANNAH THUKSTON : 

Annual, bound in red. Beside it was a huge spittoon of brown 
stone- ware. Folding-doors connected with the adjoining par- 
lor, and the wood-work, originally of unseasoned pine, gotten 
up without expense but regardless of durability, was so 
warped and sprung that these doors would not properly close. 
Privacy, so far as conversation was concerned, was impossible. 
In fact, no sooner had the landlord departed, and the noise of 
entrance subsided a little, than Dyce's voice was distinctly 
heard : 

" You should overcome your restlessness. All pioneers in 
great works have their moments of doubt, but they are caused 
by the attacks of evil spirits." 

Merryfield arose in great agitation. Perhaps he would have 
spoken, but Mr. Waldo lifted his hand to command silence, 
beckoned to his wife, and the three left the room. At the 
door the clergyman turned and whispered to Woodbury and 
Hannah Thurston : " You may not be needed : wait until I 
summon yon." 

The next instant he knocked on the door of the parlor. 
Dyce's voice replied : " Come in." He entered first, followed 
by his wife, and, last of all, the injured husband. Dyce and 
Mrs. Merryfield were seated side by side, on a sofa. Both, as 
by an involuntary impulse, rose to their feet. The latter 
turned very pale ; her knees trembled under her, and she sank 
down again upon her seat. Dyce, however, remained stand- 
ing, and, after the first surprise was over, regained his brazen 
effrontery. 

Merryfield was the first to speak, "Sarah," he cried, 
" What does this mean ?" 

She turned her head towards the window, and made no 
answer. 

" Mrs. Merryfield," said Mr. Waldo, gravely, yet with no 
harshness in his tone, "we have come, as your friends, be- 
lieving that you have taken this step hastily, and Avithout con- 
sidering what its consequences would be. We do not think 
you appreciate its solemn importance, both for time and foi 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 225 

eternity. It is not yet too late to undo what you have done, 
and we are ready to help you, in all kindness and tenderness." 

" I want nothing more than my rights," said Mrs. Merry- 
field, in a hard, stubborn voice, without turning her head. 

" I will never interfere with your just rights, as a woman, a 
wife, and an immortal soul," the clergyman replied. " Brit 
you- have not alone rights to receive : you have duties to per- 
form. You have bound yourself to your husband in holy 
marriage ; you cannot desert him, whose faith to you has never 
been broken, who now stands ready to pardon your present 
fault, as he has pardoned all your past ones, without incurring 
a greater sin than infidelity to him. Your married relation 
includes both the moral laws by which society is bound, and 
the Divine laws by which we are saved." 

" The usual cant of theologians !" interrupted Dyce, with a 
sneer. u Mrs. Merryfield owes nothing to the selfish and arti- 
ficial machinery which is called Society. Marriage is a part 
of the machinery, and just as selfish as the rest. She claims 
equal rights with her husband, and is doing no more than he 
would do, if he possessed all of her convictions." 

" I would never do it !" cried Merryfield, " not for all tho 
Communities in the world ! Sarah, I've been faithful to you, 
in every thought, since you first agreed to be my wife. If I've 
done you wrong in any way, tell me!" 

" I only want my rights," she repeated, still looking away. 

" If you really think you are deprived of them," said Mr. 
Waldo, *' come home with us, and you shall be fairly heard 
and fairly judged. I promise you, as an impartial friend, that 
no advantage shall be taken of your mistake : you shall be 
treated as if it had not occurred. Have you reflected how 
this act will be interpreted, in the eyes of the world ? Can 
you bear, no matter how innocent you may be, to be followed, 
through all the rest of your life, by the silent suspicion, if not 
the open reproach, of the worst shame that can happen to 
woman? Suppose you reach your Community. These ex- 
periments have often been tried, and they have always failed. 
10* 



226 HANNAH THUESTON I 

You might hide yourself for a while from the judgment of the 
world, but if the association should break to pieces what 
then ? Does the possession of some right which you fancy is 
withheld, compensate you for incurring this fearful risk nay, 
for enduring this fearful certainty ?" 

" What do you know about it ?" Dyce roughly exclaimed. 
" You, a petrified fossil of the false Society ! What right have 
you to judge for her ? She acts from motives which your 
narrow mind cannot comprehend. She is a disciple of the 
Truth, and is not afraid to show it in her life. If she lived 
only for the sake of appearances, like the rest of you, she 
might still be a Vegetable !" 

Mrs. Merryfield, who had colored suddenly and violently, as 
the clergyman spoke, and had turned her face towards him, for 
a moment, with an agitation which she could not conceal, now 
lifted her head a little, and mechanically rocked on her lap a 
travelling-satchel, which she had grasped with both hands. 
She felt her own inability to defend herself, and recovered a 
little courage at hearing it done so fiercely by her com- 
panion. 

Mr. Waldo, without noticing the latter, turned to her again. 
" I will not even condemn the motives which lead you to this 
step," said he, "but I must show you its inevitable conse- 
quences. Only the rarest natures, the most gifted intellects, 
may seem to disregard the ruling habits and ideas of man- 
kind, because God has specially appointed them to some great 
work. You know, Mrs. Merryfield, as well as I do, that you 
are not one of such. The world will make no exception in 
your favor. It cannot put our kindly and tolerant construc- 
tion upon your motives : it will be pitiless and inflexible, and 
its verdict will crush you to the dust." 

" Sarah," said her husband, more in pity than in reproach, 
" do stop and think what you are doing ! What Mr. Waldo 
says is true : you will bring upon yourself more than you can 
bear, or I can bear for you. I don't charge you with any 
thing wrong; I don't believe you would be guilty of of I 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 227 

can't say it but I couldn't hold up my head, as as it were, 
and defend you by a single word." 

" Oh, no ! of course you couldn't !" Dyce broke in again, 
with an insufferable impudence. " You know, as well as I do, 
or Mr. Waldo, for that matter, what men are. Don't brag 
to me about your morality, and purity, and all that sort of 
humbug: what's fit for one sex is fit for the other. Men, you 
know, have a natural monopoly iji the indulgence of passion : 
it's allowed to them, but woman is damned by the very sus- 
picion. You know, both of you, that any man would as lief 
be thought wicked as chaste that women are poor, ignorant 
fools" 

One of the folding-doors which CQmmunicated with the ad- 
joining room was suddenly torn open, and Woodbury ap- 
peared. His brown eyes, flashing indignant fire, were fixed 
upon Dyce. The sallow face of the latter grew livid with 
mingled emotions of rage and fear. With three strides, 
Woodbury was before him. 

" Stop !" he cried, " you have been allowed to say too much 
already. If you" he added, turning to the others, " have 
patience with this beast, I have not." 

" Ah ! he thinks he's among his Sepoys," Dyce began, but 
was arrested by a strong hand upon his collar. Woodbury's 
face was pale, but calm, and his lips parted in a smile, the 
expression of which struck terror to the heart of the medium. 
" Now, leave !" said he, in a low, stern voice, "leave, or I 
hurl you through that window !" Relinquishing his grasp on 
the collar, he opened the door leading to the staircase, and 
waited. For a moment, the eyes of the two men met, and in 
that moment each took the measure of the other. Dyce's 
figure seemed to contract ; his breast narrowed, his shoulders 
fell, and his knees approached each other. He walked slowly 
and awkwardly to the end of the sofa, picked up his valise, 
and shumed out of the room without saying a word. Wood- 
bury followed him to the door, and said, before he closed it: 
" Recollect, you leave here by the midnight train." Nona 



228 HANNAH THUKSTON I 

of those who heard it had any doubt that the command would 
be obeyed. 

Mr. Merryfield experienced an unbounded sensation of relief 
on Dyce's departure ; but his wife was only frightened, not 
conquered. Although pale and trembling, she stubbornly held 
out, her attitude expressing her collective defiance of the com- 
pany. She avoided directly addressing or meeting the eyes 
of any one in particular. For a few moments there was silence 
in the room, and she took advantage of it to forestall the 
appeals which she knew would be made, by saying : 

" Well, now you've got me all to yourselves, I suppose you'll 
try to bully me out of my rights." 

" We have no intention to meddle with any of your rights, 
as a wife," Mr. Waldo answered. "You must settle that 
question with your husband. But does not your heart tell 
you that he has rights, as well ? And what has he done to 
justify you in deserting him ?" 

"He needn't be deserted," she said ; "he can come after me." 

"Never !" exclaimed her husband. " If you leave me now, 
and in this way, Sarah, you will not see me again until you 
voluntarily come back to me. And think, if you go to that 
place, what you must then seem to me ! I've defended you, 
Sarah, and will defend you against all the world ; but if you 
go on, you'll take the power of doing it away from me. 
Whether you deserve shame, or not, it'll come to you and 
it'll come to me, just the same." 

The deluded wife could make no reply. The consequences 
of her step, if persisted in, were beginning to dawn upon her 
mind, but, having defended it on the ground of her equal 
rights as a woman, a pitiful vanity prevented her from yield- 
ing. It was necessary, therefore, to attack her from another 
quarter. Hannah Thurston felt that the moment had arrived 
when she might venture to speak, and went gently forward to 
the sofa. 

" Sarah," she said, " I think you feel that I am your friend. 
Will you not believe me, then, when I say to you that we 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 229 

have all followed you, prompted only by the pity and distress 
which we feel for your sake and your husband's ? We beg 
you not to leave us, your true friends, and go among strangers. 
Listen to us calmly, and if we convince you that you are mis- 
taken, the admission should not be difficult." 

" You, too, Hannah !" cried Mrs. Merryfield. " You, that 
taught me what my rights were ! Will you confess, first, that 
you are mistaken ?" 

An expression of pain passed over Hannah Thurston's face. 
" I never meant to claim more than natural justice for woman," 
said she, " but I may have been unhappy in my advocacy of it. 
I may even," turning towards Mrs. Waldo, "have seemed to 
assume a hostile position towards man. If so, it was a mis- 
take. If what I have said has prompted you to this step, I 
will take my share of humiliation. But we will not talk of 
that now. Blame me, Sarah, if you like, so you do not forget 
the tenderness you cannot wholly have lost, for him whose life 
is a part of yours, here and hereafter. Think of the children 
who are waiting for you in the other life waiting for both 
parents, Sarah." 

The stubborn resistance of the wife began to give way. 
Tears came to her eyes, and she shook as if a mighty struggle 
had commenced in her heart. " It was for them," she mur- 
mured, in a broken voice, " that I was going. He said they 
would be nearer to me." 

" Can they be nearer to you when you are parted from their 
father? Was it only your heart that was wrung at their loss? 
If all other bonds were broken between you, the equal share 
in the beings of those Immortals should bind you in life and 
death ! Pardon me for renewing your sorrow, but I must 
invoke the purer spirit that is born of trial. If your mutual 
watches over their cradles cannot bring back the memory of 
your married love, I must ask you to remember who held 
your hand beside their coffins, whose arm supported you in- 
the lonely nights I" 
, The husband could endure no more. Lifting his face from 



230 . HANNAH THUBSTON I 

his hands, he cried : " It was me, Sarah. And now, if you 
leave me, there will be no one to talk with me about Absalom, 
and Angelina, and our dear little Robert, Don't you mind 
how I used to dance him on my knee, as as it were, and tell 
him he should have a horse when he was big ? He had such 
pretty hair ; you always said he'd make a handsome man, 
Sarah : but now they're all gone. There's only us two, now, 
as it were, and we can't no, we daren't part. We won't 
part, will we ?" 

Mrs. Waldo made a quiet sign, and they stole gently from 
the room. As he closed the door, Woodbury saw the con- 
quered and penitent wife look up with streaming eyes, sobbing 
convulsively, and stretch out her arms. The next instant, Mrs. 
Waldo had half embraced him, in the rush of her pent-up 
gratitude. 

" Oh !" she exclaimed, striving to subdue her voice, " how 
grand it was that you put down that that man. I never 
believed in non-resistance, and now I know that I am right." 

Hannah Thurston said nothing, but her face was radiant 
with a tranquil light. She could not allow the doubts which 
had arisen in her mind the disturbing influences which had, of 
late, beset her, to cloud the happy ending of such a painful 
day. A whispered conversation was carried on between 
Woodbury and the Waldos, so as not to disturb the low voices 
in the next room ; but at the end of ten minutes the door 
opened and Merry field appeared. 

" We will go home to-night, as it were," said he. " The 
moon rises about this time, and the night is warm." 

" Then we will all go !" was Mrs. Waldo's decision. " The 
carriages will keep together husband, you must drive one of 
them, alone and I shall not be so much alarmed. It is better 
so : curious folks will not see that we have been absent, and 
need not know." 

Woodbury whispered to her : " I shall wait until the train 
leaves." 

" Will yon follow, afterwards ?" 



A STOUT OF AMERICAN LIFE. 231 

" Yes but no : my intention to stay all night is known, and 
I ought properly to remain, unless you need my escort." 

" Stay," said Hannah Thurston. 

The vehicles left the two hotels with the same persons who 
had arrived in them Dyce excepted. Outside of Tiberius 
they halted, and Merryfield joined his wife. The two women 
followed, and Mr. Waldo, alone, acted as rear-guard. Thus, in 
the silent night, over the moonlit lulls, and through the rust- 
ling darkness of the woods, they went homewards. 

Vague suspicions of something haunted the community of 
Ptolemy for a while, but nothing was ever discovered or be- 
trayed which could give them a definite form. And yet, of 
the five persons to whom the truth was known, three were 
women. 



232 HANNAH THURSTON 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

ONE OF THE SUMMER DIVERSIONS OP PTOLEMY. 

TEN days after the journey to Tiberius, the highways in 
both valleys, and those descending from the hills on either 
side, were unusually thronged. Country carriages, buggies 
of all fashions, and light open carts, rapidly succeeded each 
other, all directing their course towards the village. They 
did not halt there, however, but passed through, and, climbing 
the gentle acclivity of the southern hill, halted at a grove, 
nearly a mile distant. Here the Annual Temperance Conven- 
tion of Atanga County was to be held. The cause had been 
languishing for the past }|ear or two ; many young men had 
become careless of their pledges, and the local societies were 
beginning to fall to pieces, because the members had heard all 
that was to be said on the subject, and had done all that could 
conveniently be done. The plan of procuring State legislation 
in their favor rendered it necessary to rekindle, in some meas- 
ure, the fires of zeal if so warm an expression can be applied 
to so sober a cause and one of the most prominent speakers 
on Temperance, Mr. Abiram Stokes, was called upon to brush 
up his well-used images and illustrations for a new campaign. 

It was announced, by means of large placards, posted 
in all the village stores, post-offices, and blacksmiths' shops, 
far and wide, that not only he, but Mr. Grindle and several 
other well-known speakers were to address the Convention. 
Strange as it may seem, the same placard was conspicuously 
displayed in the bar-room of the Ptolemy House, the landlord 
candidly declaring that he would be glad if such a convention 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 233 

were held every week, as it brought him a great deal of cus- 
tom. The friends of the cause were called upon for a special 
effort ; the day was carefully arranged to come at the end of 
haying, yet before the wheat -harvest had fairly commenced ; 
moreover, it was Saturday, and the moon was nearly full. 
The weather favored the undertaking, and by noon the line of 
the roads could be distinguished, at some distance, by the 
dust which arose from the strings of vehicles. 

The principal members of the local societies especially 
those of Atauga City, Anacreon, Nero Corners, Mulligansville, 
and New Pekin came in heavy lumber-wagons, decorated 
with boughs of spruce and cedar, carrying with them their 
banners, whenever they had any. With some difficulty, a 
sufficient sum was raised to pay for the services of the Ptolemy 
Cornet Band, in performing, as the placard stated, " melodies 
appropriate to the occasion." What those melodies were, it 
was not very easy to determine, and the managing committee of 
the Ptolemy Society had a special meeting on the subject, the 
night before. A wag suggested " The Meeting of the Waters," 
which was at once accepted with delight. " Bonny Doon" 
found favor, as it " minded" the hearers of a Scottish brook. 
" The Campbells are Comin' " was also on the list, until some 
one remembered that the landlord of the Ptolemy House bore 
the name of that clan. " A wet sheet and a flowing sea" hinted 
too strongly at " half-seas over," and all the familiar Irish airs 
were unfortunately associated with ideas of wakes and Donny- 
brook Fairs. After much painful cogitation, the " Old Oaken 
Bucket," "Allan Water," "Zurich's Waters," and "The 
Haunted Spring" were discovered ; but the band was not able 
to play more than half of them. Its most successful perform- 
ance, we are bound to confess, was the air of " Landlord, fill 
the flowing bowl," which the leader could not resist giving 
once or twice during the day, to the great scandal of those 
votaries of the cause who had once been accustomed to sing it 
in character. 

The grove was a beautiful piece of oak and hickory timber, 



234 HANNAH THURSTON : 

sloping towards the north, and entirely clear of underbrush. 
It covered about four acres of ground, and was neither so 
dense nor fell so rapidly as to shut out a lovely glimpse of 
the valley and the distant, dark-blue sheet of the lake, between 
the boles. It was pervaded with a grateful smell, from the 
trampled grass and breathing leaves ; and wherever a beam of 
sunshine pierced the boughs, it seemed to single out some bit 
of gay color, in shawl, or ribbon, or parasol, to play upon and 
utilize its brightness. At the bottom of the grove, against 
two of the largest trees, a rough platform was erected, in 
front of which, rising and radiating amphitheatrically, were 
plank benches, capable of seating a thousand persons. Those 
who came from a distance were first on hand, and took their 
places long before the proceedings commenced. Near the 
main entrance, venders of refreshments had erected their 
stands, and displayed to the thronging visitors a tempting 
variety of indigestible substances. There was weak lemonade, 
in tin buckets, with huge lumps of ice glittering defiantly at 
the sun ; scores of wired bottles, filled with a sarsaparilla mix- 
ture, which popped out in a rush of brown suds ; ice-cream, 
the cream being eggs beaten up with water, and flavored with 
lemon sirup ; piles of dark, leathery ginger-cakes, and rows 
of glass jars full of candy-sticks ; while the more enterprising 
dealers exhibited pies cut into squares, hard-boiled eggs, and 
even what they called coffee. 

Far down the sides of the. main road to Ptolemy the vehicles 
were ranged, and. even inside the adjoining fields the owner 
of which, being a friend to the cause, had opened his bars to 
the multitude. Many of the farmers from a distance brought 
their own oats with them, and unharnessed and fed their horses 
in the fence-corners, before joining the crowd in the grove. 
Then, accompanied by their tidy wives, who, meanwhile, ex- 
amined the contents of the dinner-baskets and saw that every 
thing was in order, they approached the meeting with satisfied 
and mildly exhilarated spirits, occasionally stopping to greet 
an acquaintance or a relative. The daughters had already pre- 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 235 

ceded them, with their usual independence, well knowing the 
impatience of the young men, and hoping that the most agree- 
able of the latter would discover them before the meeting was 
called to order. This was the real charm of the occasion, to 
old as well as young. The American needs a serious pretext 
for his recreation. He does not, in fact, recognize its ne- 
cessity, and would have none at all, did not Nature, with 
benevolent cunning, occasionally furnish him with diversion 
under the disguise of duty. 

As the banners of the local societies arrived, they were set 
up in conspicuous positions, on and around the speaker's plat- 
form. That of Tiberius was placed in the centre. It was of 
bHie silk, with a gold fringe, and an immense geyser-like foun- 
tain in its field, under which were the words : " Ho ! every one 
that thirsteth !" On the right was the banner of Ptolemy a 
brilliant rainbow, on a white ground, with the warning : " Look 
not upon the Wine when it is Red." What connection there 
was between this sentence and the rainbow was not apparent, 
unless the latter was meant to represent a watery deluge. The 
banner of Anacreon, on the left, held forth a dancing female, 
in a crimson dress. One foot was thrown far out behind her, 
and she was violently pitching forward; yet, in this un- 
comfortable position, she succeeded in pouring a thick 
stream of water from a ewer of blue china into the open 
mouth of a fat child, who wore a very scanty dress. The 
inscription was : " The Fountain of Youth." The most inge- 
nious device, however, was that from Nero Corners. This lit- 
tle community, too poor or too economical to own a temper- 
ance banner, took a political one, which they had used in the 
campaign of the previous year. Upon it were the names of 
the candidates for President and Vice-President: " PIERCE 
and KING." A very little alteration turned the word " Pierce"' 
into "Prince," and the word " WATER" being prefixed, the 
inscription became: "Water, Prince and King." Those 
from other neighborhoods, who were not in the secret, greatly 
admired the simplicity and force of the expression. 



236 HANNAH THUBSTON: 

Woodbury, who was early upon the ground, was much in- 
terested in the scene. Between two and three thousand per- 
sons were present, but an order and decorum prevailed, which 
would be miraculous in lands where the individual is not per- 
mitted to grow up self-ruled, or swayed only by the example 
of his fellows, and self-reliant. No servant of the law was pres- 
ent to guard against disorder, because each man was his own 
policeman. Even some tipsy rowdies, who came out from 
Ptolemy towards the close of the afternoon, were sobered 
by the atmosphere of the place, and had no courage to make 
their intended interruptions. The effect of such meetings, 
Woodbury confessed to himself, could not be otherwise 
than good; the reform was necessary among a people whose 
excitable temperament naturally led them to excesses, and 
perhaps it was only one extreme which could counteract 
the other. There was still too little repose, too little mental 
balance among them, to halt upon the golden middle-ground 
of truth. 

The band occupied the platform for some time after he ar- 
rived, and its performances gave intense satisfaction to the 
people. The clear tones of the horns and clarionets pealed 
triumphantly through the shade, and an occasional slip in an 
instrument was unnoticed in the hum of voices. Gradually, 
the hearers were lifted a little out of the material sphere in 
which they habitually moved, and were refreshed accordingly. 
They were made capable, at least, of appreciating some senti- 
ment and imagination in the speakers, and words were now 
heard with delight, which, in their common moods, would have 
been vacant sound. They touched, in spite of themselves, that 
upper atmosphere of poetry which hangs over all human life 
where the cold marsh-fogs in which we walk become the rosy 
cloud-islands of the dawn ! 

At two o'clock, the band vacated the platform, and the Con- 
vention was called to order. After an appropriate prayer by 
the Rev. Lemuel Styles, a temperance song was sung by a large 
chorus of the younger members. It was a parody on Hoff- 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 237 

man's charming anacreontic : " Sparkling and Bright," the 
words of which were singularly transformed. Instead of: 

a As the bubbles that swim on the beaker's brim, 
And break on the lips at meeting," 

the refrain terminated with : 

" There's nothing so good for the youthful blood, 
Or so sweet as the sparkling water !" 

in the style of a medicinal prescription. Poor Hoffman! 
Koble heart and fine mind, untimely darkened ! He was at 
least spared this desecration ; or perhaps, with the gay humor 
with which even that darkness is still cheered, he would have 
parodied the parody to death. 

The Annual Report was then read. It was of great length, 
being mainly a furious appeal to voters. The trick of basing 
a political issue upon a personal habit was an innovation in the 
science of government, which the natural instincts of the peo- 
ple were too enlightened to accept without question. The 
County Committee, foreseeing this difficulty, adopted the usual 
tactics of party, and strove to create a headlong tide of sym- 
pathy which would overbear all hesitancy as to the wisdom of 
the movement, or the dangerous precedent which it introduced 
into popular legislation. "Vote for the Temperance Candi- 
dates," they cried, in the Report, " and you vote for morality, 
and virtue, and religion ! Vote against them, and you vote for 
disease, and misery, and crime ! Vote for them, and you vote 
reason to the frantic brain, clearness to the bleared eye, steadi- 
*ness to the trembling hand, joy to the heart of the forsaken 
wife, and bread to the mouths of the famishing children ! Vote 
against them, and you vote to fill our poor-houses and peniten- 
tiaries to tighten the diabolical hold of the rumseller on his 
struggling victim to lead our young men into temptation, and 
bring ruin on our beloved land ! Yes, you would vote to fill 
the drunkard's bottle ; you would vote oaths and obscenity into 
his speech ; you would vote curses to his wife, blows to his 
children, the. shoes off their feet, the shirts off their backs, 
the beds from under them, and the roofs from over their heads." 



238 HANNAH THUKSTON I 

The Report was adopted with tremendous unanimity, and 
the faces of the members of the Committee beamed with sat- 
isfaction. The political movement might be considered as 
successfully inaugurated. This was the main object of the 
Convention, and the waiting orators now saw that they had a 
clear and pleasant field- before them. Woodbury, who was 
leaning against a tree, near the end of a plank upon which his 
friends the Waldos were seated, listened with an involuntary 
sensation of pain and regret. The very character of the Report 
strengthened him in the CCR / tf < ,ii that the vice to be cured 
had its origin in a radical defect of the national temperament, 
which no legislation could reach. 

Mrs. Waldo looked up at him, inquiringly. He shook his 
head. " It is a false movement," said he ; " good works are 
not accomplished by violence." 

" But sometimes by threatening it," she answered, with a 
meaning smile. 

He was about to reply, when the President announced that 
Byron Baxter, of the Anacreon Seminary, would recite a poem, 
after which the meeting would be addressed by Mr. Abiram 
Stokes. 

Byron Baxter, who was an overgrown, knock-kneed youth 
of nineteen, with long hair, parted in the middle, advanced to 
the front of the platform, bowed, and then suddenly started 
back, with both hands extended before him, in an attitude of 
horror. In a loud voice, he commenced to recite : 

" Oh, take the maddening bowl away 1 

Remove the poisonous cup ! 
My soul is sick ; its burning ray 
Hath drunk my spirit up. 

" Take, take it from my loathing lip 

Ere madness fires my brain : 
Oh, take it hence, nor let me sip 
Its liquid death again I" 

As the young man had evidently never tasted any thing 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 239 

stronger than molasses-and-water, the expression of his abhor- 
rence was somewhat artificial. Nevertheless, a shudder ran 
through the audience at the vehemence of his declamation, 
and he was greeted with a round of applause, at the close. 

The orator of the day, Mr. Abiram Stokes, then made his 
appearance. He was a man of forty-five, with a large, hand- 
some head, and an imposing presence. His hair and. eyes were 
dark, and his complexion slightly tinted with olive. This trait, 
with his small hands and showy teeth, seemed to indicate a 
mixture of Spanish blood. He had a way of throwing his 
head forward, so as to let a large lock of his hair fall over his 
forehead with a picturesque effect, and then tossing it back to 
its place with a reverse motion. His voice was full and sono- 
rous ; although, to a practised ear, its pathos, in passages in- 
tended for effect, was more dramatic than real. Few of his 
present auditors, however, were able to discriminate in this 
respect; the young ladies, especially, were in raptures. It 
was rumored that his early life had been very wild and dissi- 
pated, and he was looked upon as one of the most conspicuous 
brands which had been snatched from the burning. This ru- 
mor preceded him wherever he went, created a personal inte- 
rest for him, in advance, and added to the effect of his oratory. 

His style of speaking, nevertheless, was showy and specious. 
He took no wide range, touched but slightly on the practical 
features of the subject, and indulged sparingly in anecdotes 
and illustrations. None of the latter professed to be drawn 
from his personal experience : his hearers might make what- 
ever inference they pleased, he knew the value of mystery too 
well, to enlighten them further. He was greatest in apostro- 
phes to Water, to Reform, to Woman, to anything that per- 
mitted him, according to his own expression, " to soar." This 
feature of his orations was usually very effective, the first time 
he was heard. He was in the habit of introducing some of 
his favorite passages on every occasion. Woodbury, who was 
not aware of this trick, was agreeably surprised at the natural 
warmth and eloquence of the speaker's language. 



240 HANNAH THURSTON I 

His peroratioti ran something in this wise : " This, the purest 
and most beneficent of the Virtues, comes not to achieve her 
victory in battles and convulsions. Soft as the dews of heaven, 
her white feet are beautiful upon the mountains, bringing glad 
tidings of great joy! Blessed are we that she has chosen her 
abode among us, and that she has selected us to do her work ! 
No other part of the world was fitted to receive her. She 
never could have been produced by the mouldering despotisms 
of Europe, where the instincts of Freedom are stifled by wine 
and debauchery ; the Old World is too benighted to behold 
her face. Here only here on the virgin bosom of a new Con- 
tinent here, in the glorious effulgence of the setting sun 
here only could she be born ! She is the child of the West 
Temperance and before her face the demon Alcohol flees 
to his caverns and hides himself among the bones of his vic- 
tims, while Peace sits at her right hand and Plenty at her left!" 

"Beautiful!" "splendid!" was whispered through the au- 
dience, as the speaker took his seat. Miss Carrie Dil worth 
wiped her eyes with a very small batiste handkerchief, and 
sighed as she reflected that this man, her beau-ideal (which 
she understood to mean an ideal beau), would never know what 
an appreciative helpmeet she would have made him. 

" Oh, Hannah !" she whispered, leaning forward, to Miss 
Thurston, who was seated on the next plank, " did you ever 
hear any thing so beautiful ?" 

"I thought it fine, the first time I heard it," Hannah re- 
plied, with a lack of enthusiasm which quite astounded the 
little sempstress. She began to fear she had made a mistake, 
when the sight of Miss Ruhaney Goodwin, equally in tears, 
(and no wonder, for her brother Elisha had been a miserable 
drunkard), somewhat revived her confidence. 

" Flashy, but not bad of its kind," said Woodbury, in re- 
ply to Mrs. Waldo's question. 

" Are you not ashamed ? It's magnificent. And he's such 
a handsome man !" she exclaimed. " But I see, you are de- 
termined not to admire any of them ; you've not forgotten 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 241 

Griudle's attack. Or else you're a pess what's the name of 
it ? Mr. Waldo explained the word to me yesterday pess " 

44 Oh, a pessimist? Not at all, Mrs. Waldo. -On the con- 
trary, I am almost an optimist." 

" Well, that's just as bad though I am not sure I know 
what it is. Oh, there's Grindle going to speak. Now you'll 
catch it !" 

She shook her hand menacingly, and Woodbury, much 
amused and not a little curious to hear the speaker, resumed 
his position against the tree. 

Mr. Grindle, who carried on a moderate lumber business in 
Atauga City, neglected no opportunity of making himself heard 
in public. He was a man of shallow faculties, but profound 
conceit of himself, and would have preferred, at any time, to 
be abused rather than ignored. His naturally fluent speech 
had been cultivated by the practice of years, but as he was 
neither an earnest thinker nor a close reasoner, and, moreover, 
known to be unscrupulous in the statement of facts, the consider- 
ation which he enjoyed as a speaker would soon have become 
exhausted, but for the boldness and indecency of his personal 
attacks, whereby he replenished that element of hot water in 
which he rejoiced. Mr. Campbell, the landlord of the Ptolemy 
House, had several times threatened him with personal chas- 
tisement, and he only escaped by avoiding an encounter until 
the landlord's wrath had a little cooled. He was so accus- 
tomed to insulting epithets that they never produced the slight- 
est impression upon him. 

He had spoken nearly half an hour, airing a quantity of sta- 
tistics, which he had mostly committed to memory where 
that failed, he supplied the figures from his imagination 
when he perceived that the audience, after having tasted the 
spiced meats of Mr. Abiram Stokes, seemed to find the plain 
food he offered them rather insipid. But he had still the re- 
source of personality, which he knew, from, long experience, is 
always entertaining, whether or not the hearers approve of it. 
The transition was easily made. "Looking at this terrible 
11 



242 HAXNAH THUKSTON: 

array of facts," said he, " how can any man, who is worthy the 
name of a human being, dare to oppose the doctrines of Tem- 
perance ? Hew dare any man suppose that his own miserable 
personal indulgences are of more consequence than the moral 
salvation of his fellow-creatures ? Yet there are such men 
not poor, ignorant, deluded creatures, who know no better, 
and are entitled to some allowances but men who are rich, 
who appear to be educated, and who claim to be highly moral 
and respectable. What are we to think of those men ?" 

Mrs. Waldo glanced up at Woodbury with a look which 
said : " Now it's coming !" 

" Let it come !" his look replied. 

" They think, perhaps," the speaker continued, " that there 
are different laws of morality for different climates that they 
can bring here among us the detestable practices of heathen 
races, which we are trying to root out ! I tell such, they had 
better go back, and let their unhappy slaves hand them the 
hookah, filled with its intoxicating draught, or steady their 
tottering steps when the fumes of sherbet have mounted to 
their brains !" 

Many persons in the assembly knew who was meant, and 
as Woodbury's position made him easily distinguished, they 
watched him with curiosity as the speaker proceeded. He 
leaned against the tree, with his arms folded, and an amused 
half-smile on his face, until the foregoing climax was reached, 
when, to the astonishment of the spectators, he burst into an 
uncontrollable fit of laughter. 

Mr. Grindle, too, had discovered his victim, and occasionally 
darted a side look at him, calculating how far he might carry 
the attack with safety to himself. Woodbury's sudden and 
violent merriment encouraged while it disconcerted him : there 
was, at least, nothing to be feared, and he might go on. 

"Yes, I repeat it," he continued; "whatever name may be 
given to the beverage, we are not to be cheated. Such men 
may drink their sherbet, or their Heidsick ; they may call their 
drinks by respectable names, and the demon of Alcohol laughs 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 243 

as he claims them for his own. St. Paul says ' the Prince of 
Darkness is a gentleman :' beware, beware, my friends, lest the 
accursed poison, which is harmless to you under its vulgar 
names, should beguile you with an aristocratic title !" 

*' Will the speaker allow me to make a remark ?" 

Woodbury, controlling his laughter with some difficulty, 
straightened himself from his leaning position against the tree, 
and, yielding to the impulse of the moment, spoke. His voice, 
not loud, but very clear, was distinctly heard all over the 
crowd, and there was a general rustling sound, as hundreds of 
heads turned towards him. Mr. Grindle involuntarily paused 
in his speech, but made no reply. 

"I will only interrupt the proceedings for a moment," Wood- 
bury resumed, in a cool, steady tone, amidst the perfect silence 
of the multitude " in order to make an explanation. I will 
not wrong the speaker by supposing that his words have a 
personal application to myself; because that would be charging 
him with advocating truth by means of falsehood, and defend- 
ing morality by the weapons of ignorance and insult. But 
I know the lands of which he speaks and the habits of their 
people. So far from drunkenness being a ' detestable heathen 
habit' of theirs, it is really we who should go to them to learn 
temperance. I must confess, also, my great surprise at hearing 
the speaker's violent denunciation of the use of sherbet, after 
seeing that it is openly sold, to-day, in this grove after hav- 
ing, with my own eyes, observed the speaker, himself, drink 
a large glass of it with evident satisfaction." 

There was a sudden movement, mixed here and there with 
laughter, among the audience. Mr. Grindle cried out, in a 
hoarse, excited voice: "The charge is false! I never use in- 
toxicating beverages !" 

"I made no such charge," said Woodbury, calmly, "but it 
may interest the audience to know that sherbet is simply the 
Arabic name for lemonade." 

The laughter was universal, Mr. Grindle excepted. 

"The speaker, also," he continued, "mentioned the intoxi- 



244 HANNAH THTJKSTON: 

eating beverage of the hookah. As the hookah is a pipe, in 
which the smoke of the tobacco passes through water before 
reaching the mouth, it may be considered a less dangerous 
beverage than the clay-pipe of the Irish laborer. I beg pardon 
of the meeting for my interruption." 

The laughter was renewed, more heartily than before, and 
for a minute after Woodbury ceased the tumult was so great 
that Mr. Grindle could not be heard. To add to the confusion, 
the leader of the Ptolemy band, taking the noise as a sign that 
the Convention had adjourned, struck up " Malbrook," which 
air, unfortunately, was known in the neighborhood by the less 
classical title of u We won't go home till morning." 

The other members of the Committee, on the platform, pri- 
vately begged Mr. Grindle to take his seat and allow them to 
introduce a new orator ; but he persisted in speaking for an- 
other quarter of an hour, to show that he was not discomfited. 
The greater portion of the audience, nevertheless, secretly re- 
joiced at the lesson he had received, and the remainder of his 
speech was not heard with much attention. Woodbury, to 
escape the curious gaze of the multitude, took a narrow and 
uncomfortable seat on the end of the plank, beside Mrs. Waldo. 
He was thenceforth, very much against his will, an object of 
great respect to the rowdies of Ptolemy, who identified him 
with the opposite cause. 

There was another song, commencing : 

" The wine that all are praising 
Is not the drink for me, 
But there's a spring in yonder glen, 
Whose waters flow for Temperance men," etc., 

which was likewise sung in chorus. Then succeeded other 
speakers, of less note, to a gradually diminishing circle of hear- 
ers. The farmers and their wives strayed off to gossip with 
acquaintances on the edges of the grove ; baskets of provisions 
were opened and the contents shared, and the stalls of cake 
and sarsaparilla suds experienced a reflux of custom. As the 



A STORY OP AMERICAN LIFE. 245 

young men were not Lord Byrons, the young ladies did not 
scruple to eat in their presence, and flirtations were carried on 
with a chicken-bone in one hand and a piece of bread in the 
other. The sun threw softer and slanter lights over the beau- 
tiful picture of the valley, and, gradually creeping below the 
boughs, shot into the faces of those who were still seated in 
front of the platform. It was time to close the performances 
of the day, and they were accordingly terminated with a third 
song, the refrain of which was : 

11 Oh, for the cause is rolling on, rolling on, rolling on, 
Over the darkened land." 

Woodbury and the Waldos, to avoid the dust of the road, 
walked back to Ptolemy by a pleasant path across the fields. 
Ere long they overtook Hannah Thurston and Miss Dilworth. 
Mr. Grindle was, of course, the theme of conversation. 

"Wasn't he rightly served, Hannah?" Mrs. Waldo ex- 
claimed, with enthusiasm. Woodbury was fast assuming 
heroic proportions, in her mind. 

" I think Mr. Woodbury was entirely justifiable in his inter- 
ruption," Miss Thurston answered, " and yet I almost wish 
that it had not occurred." 

" So do I !" Woodbury exclaimed. 

"Well you two are queer people!" was Mrs. Waldo'a 
imazed remark. 



246 HANNAH THURSTON: 



CHAPTER XIX. 

IK WHICH THERE IS BOTH ATTRACTION AND REPULSION. 

HANNAH THURSTON'S remark remained in Woodbury's ears 
long after it was uttered. His momentary triumph over, he 
began to regret having obeyed the impulse of the moment. 
Mr. Grindle's discomfiture had been too cheaply purchased ; 
he was game of a sort too small and mean for a man of refined 
instincts to notice even by a look. His own interruption, cool 
and careless as he felt it to have been, nevertheless betrayed 
an acknowledgment that he had understood the speaker's in- 
sinuation ; and, by a natural inference, that he was sufficiently 
sensitive to repel it. Mr. Grindle was acute enough to make 
this inference, and it was a great consolation to him, in his 
own overthrow, to think that he had stung his adversary. 

Woodbury, however, forgot his self-blame in the grateful 
surprise of hearing its echo from Miss Thurston's lips. Her 
remark betrayed a delicacy of perception which he had not 
expected more than this, indeed, it betrayed a consideration 
for his character as a gentleman, which she could not have felt, 
had she not, in imagination, placed herself in his stead. He 
knew that a refined nature must be born so ; it can only be 
partially imitated by assiduous social study ; and his previous 
intercourse with Miss Thurston had not prepared him to find 
her instincts so true. He looked at her, as she walked beside 
him, with a renewed feeling of interest. Her slender figure 
moved along the grassy path with a free, elastic step. She 
wore a dress of plain white muslin, with wide sleeves, and a 
knot of pearl-colored ribbon at the throat. Her parasol, and 
the trimming of her hat, were of the same quiet color; the 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 247 

only ornament she wore was a cluster of little pink flowers in 
the latter. The excitement of the occasion, or the act of 
walking, had brought a soft tinge to her usually pale cheek, 
and as her eyes dropped to avoid the level light of the sun, 
Woodbury noticed how long and dark were the lashes that 
fringed her lids. " At eighteen she must have been lovely," 
he said to himself, "but, even then, her expression could 
scarcely have been more virginly pure and sweet, than new." 

He turned away, repressing a* sigh. How one delusion 
could spoil a noble woman ! 

Before descending the last slope to the village, they paused, 
involuntarily, to contemplate the evening landscape. The sun 
was just dipping behind the western hill, and a portion oi 
Ptolemy lay in shadow, while the light, streaming through th 
gap made by a lateral glen, poured its dusty gold over the 
distant elms of Roaring Brook, and caused the mansion of 
Lakeside to sparkle like a star against its background of firs 
Far down the lake flashed the sail of a pleasure-boat, and the 
sinking western shore melted into a vapory purple along the 
dim horizon. The strains of the band still reached them from 
the grove, but softened to the airy, fluctuating sweetness of 
an JEolian harp. 

" Our lines are cast in pleasant places," said Mr. Waldo, 
looking from hill to hill with a cheerful content on his face. 

"Every part of the earth has its moments of beauty, I 
think," Woodbury replied : " but Ptolemy is certainly a 
favored spot. If the people only knew it. I wonder whether 
happiness is not a faculty, or a peculiarity of temperament, 
quite independent of the conditions of one's life ?" 

" That depends on what you call happiness," Mrs. Waldo 
rejoined. " Come, now, let us each define it, and see how we 
shall agree. My idea is, it's in making the best of every 
thing." 

"ISTo, it's finding a congenial spirit!" cried Miss Carrie. 

" You forget the assurance of Grace," said the clergyman. 

"Fairly caught, Mrs. Waldo! You are no better than I: 



248 HANNAH THURSTON: 

you confess yourself an optimist!" Woodbury merrily ex- 
claimed. "So far, you are right but, unfortunately, there 
are some things we cannot make the best of." 

" We can always do our duty, for it is proportioned to our 
power," said Hannah Thurston. 

" If we know exactly what it is." 

" Why should we not know ?" she asked, turning quickly 
towards him. 

" Because the simple desire to know is not enough, although 
I trust God gives us some credit for it. How much of Truth 
is there, that we imperfectly grasp ! How much is there, also, 
that we shrink from knowing !" 

"Shrink from Truth!" 

" Yes, since we are human, and our nearest likeness to God 
is a compassionate tenderness for our fellow-men. Does not 
the knowledge of a vice in a dear friend give us pain ? Do 
we not cling, most desperately, to our own cherished opinions, 
at the moment when we begin to suspect they are untenable ? 
No : we are not strong enough, nor stony-hearted enough, to 
do without illusions." 

" Yet you would convince me of mine !" Hannah Thurston 
exclaimed, with a shade of bitterness in the tone of her voice. 
The next moment she felt a pang of self-rebuke at having 
spoken, and the color rose to her face. The application she 
had made of his words, was uncalled-for. He must not thus be 
met. He was so impregnable in his calmness, and in the con- 
clusions drawn from his ripe experience of life ! Her own 
faith tottered whenever their minds came in contact, yet if she 
gave up it, how could she be certain, any longer, what was 
Truth ? He was not a hard materialist ; he possessed fancy, 
and feeling, and innate reverence; but his approach seemed to 
chill her enthusiasm and benumb the free action of her mind. 

" Oh, no !" he answered, with kindly seriousness, " I would 
not consciously destroy a single innocent illusion. There are 
even forms of Error which are only rendered worse by antag- 
onism. I have no idea of assailing all views that do not bar- 



A STORY OP AMERICAN LIFE. 249 

monize with my own. I am but one among many millions, 
and my aim is to understand Life, not forcibly change its 
character." 

Walking a little in advance of the others, as they spoke, the 
conversation was interrupted by their arrival in Ptolemy. 
Woodbury declined an invitation to take tea with the Waldos, 
and drove home with Bute, in the 'splendor of sunset. The 
latter took advantage of the first opportunity to describe to 
Mrs. Fortitude Babb the confusion which his master had 
inflicted on Mr. Grindle. 

" And sarved him right, too," said she, with a grim satisfac- 
tion. " To think o' him turnin' up his nose at her best Sherry, 
and callin' it pizon !" 

She could not refrain from expressing her approbation to 
Woodbury, as she prepared his tea. Her manner, however, 
made it seem very much like a reproof. " I've heerd, Sir," 
she remarked, with a rigid face, " that you've been speakin'. I 
s'pose you'll be goin' to the Legislatur', next." 

Woodbury smiled. " 111 news travels fast," he said. 

" 'T'a'n't ill, as I can see. She wouldn't ha' thought so, 
nuther. Though, to be sure, sich fellers didn't come here, in 
her time." 

" He will not come again, Mrs. Babb." 

"I'd like to see him try it!" With which words Mrs. 
Babb slapped down the lid of the teapot, into which she had 
been looking, with a sound like the discharge of a pocket-pistol. 

Woodbury went into the library, wheeled his arm-chair to 
the open window, lighted a cigar, and watched the risen moon 
brighten against the yielding twilight. The figure of Hannah 
Thurston, in her white dress, with the pearl-colored ribbon at 
her throat, with the long lashes falling over her dark-gray eyes, 
the flush on her cheek, and the earnest sweetness of her lips, 
rose before him through the rings of smoke, in the luminous 
dusk of the evening. A persistent fate seemed to throw them 
together, only to show him how near they might have been, 
how far apart they really were. When he recalled her cour- 
11* 



250 HAIO^AH THUKSTON: 



age and self-possession during the scene in the grove above the 
cataract, and the still greater courage which led her to Tiberius, 
daring reproach in order to rescue a deluded creature from im- 
pending ruin, he confessed to himself that for no other living 
woman did he feel equal respect. He bowed down in rever- 
ence before that highest purity which is unconscious of what 
it ventures, and an anxious interest arose in his heart as he re- 
cognized the dangers into which it might lead her. He felt 
that she was capable of understanding him ; that she possessed 
the finer instincts which constituted what was best in his own 
nature ; that she yielded him, also, a certain respect : but it 
was equally evident that her mind was unnecessarily alert and 
suspicious in his presence. She assumed a constant attitude 
of defence, when no attack was intended. He seemed to ex- 
ercise an unconscious repellant force towards her, the secret of 
which he suspected must be found in herself in the tenacity 
with which she held to her peculiar views, and a feminine im- 
patience of contrary opinions. 

But, as he mused, his fancies still came back to that one pic- 
ture the pure Madonna face, with its downcast eyes, touched 
with the mellow glory of the sunset. A noiseless breath of 
the night brought to his window the creamy odor of the locust 
blossoms, and lured forth the Persian dreams of the roses. 
The moonlight silver on the leaves the pearly obscurity of 
the sky the uncertain murmurs of the air combined to steep 
his senses in a sweet, semi-voluptuous trance. He was too 
truly and completely man not to know what was lacking to 
his life. He was accustomed to control passion because he 
had learned its symptoms, but this return of the fever of youth 
was now welcome, with all its pain. 

Towards midnight, he started suddenly and closed the win- 
dow. " My God !" he exclaimed, aloud ; " she in my arms ! 
her lips on mine ! What was I thinking of? Pshaw a strong- 
minded woman! Well the very strongest-minded of them 
all is still very far from being a man." With which consoling 
excuse for the absurdity of his thoughts, he went to bed. 



A STORY OP AMERICAN LIFE. 251 



The next morning he spent an hour in a careful inspe ^ti 
of the library, and, after hesitating between a ponderous trans- 
lation of the " Maha-bharata" and Lane's " Arabian Nights," 
finally replaced them both, and took down Jean Paul's " Sie- 
benkas " and " Walt and Vult." After the early Sunday din- 
ner, he put the volumes into his pockets, and, mounting L's 
horse, rode to Ptolemy. 

Hannah Thurston had brought chair into the open air, and 
seated herself on the shady side of the cottage. The afternoon 
was semi-clouded and mildly breezy, and she evidently found 
the shifting play of sun and shade upon the eastern hill better 
reading than the book in her hand, for the latter was closed. 
She recognized Woodbury as he came into the street a little 
distance below, and watched the motion of his horse's legs 
under the boughs of the balsam-firs, which hid the rider from 
sight. To her surprise, the horse stopped, opposite the cot- 
tage-door : she rose, laid down her book, and went forward to 
meet her visitor, who, by this time, had entered -the gate. 

After a frank and unembarrassed greeting, she said : " My 
mother is asleep, and her health is so frail that I am very care- 
ful not to disturb her rest. Will you take a seat, here, in the 
shade ?" 

She then withdrew for a moment, in order to bring a second 
chair. In the mean time, Woodbury had picked up her book : 
it was Bettine's Correspondence with Gilnderode. " I am glad," 
said he, looking up at her approach, "that I was not wrong in 
my selection." 

She answered his look with an expression of surprise. 

" I am going away, in a few days, for a summer excursion," 
he added, by way of explanation, taking the books from his 
pockets, " and in looking over my library this morning I found 
two works, which, it occurred to me, you might like to read. 
The sight of this volume convinces me that I have judged 
correctly : they are also translations from the German." 

Hannah Thurston's eyes brightened as she took the books, 
and looked at their title-pages. " Oh !" she exclaimed, " I 



252 HANNAH THUESTON: 

thank you very much ! I have long wished to see these works : 
Lydia Maria Child speaks yery highly of them." 

44 Who is Lydia Maria Child ?" 

She looked at him, almost in dismay. " Have you never 
read her ' Letters from New York ?' " she asked. " I do not 
suppose you are a subscriber to the Slavery Annihilator, 
which she edits, but these letters have been collected and pub- 
lished." 

" Are they doctrinal ?" 

" Perhaps you would call them so. She has a generous sym- 
pathy with all Progress ; yet her letters are mostly descriptive. 
I would offer them to you, if I were sure that you would read 
them willingly not as a task thrust upon you." 

" You would oblige me," said Woodbury, cordially. " I 
am not unwilling to hear new views, especially when they are 
eloquently presented. Anna Maria Child, I presume, is an 
advocate of Woman's Rights ?" 

" You will, at least, find very little of such advocacy in her 
letters." 

" And if I should ?" he asked. " Do not confound me, Miss 
Thurston, with the multitude who stand in hostile opposition 
to your theory. I am very willing that it should be freely dis- 
cussed, because attention may thereby be. drawn to many real 
wrongs. Besides, in the long run, the practice of the human 
race is sensible and just, and nothing can be permanently 
adopted which is not very near the truth." 

"'JReal wrongs !'" she repeated ; " yes, I suppose our wrongs 
are generally considered imaginary. It is a convenient way 
of disposing of them." 

" Is that charge entirely fair ?" 

She colored slightly. Is the man's nature flint or iron, she 
thought, that his mind is so equably clear and cold ? Would 
not antagonism rouse him into warmth, imparting an answer- 
ing warmth to her thoughts, which his unimpassioned manner 
chilled to death ? Then she remembered his contagious gay- 
ety during the walk to Ptolemy, his terrible indignation in the 
inn at Tiberius, and felt that she had done hiua wrong. 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 258 

" I ask your pardon," she answered, presently. " I did not 
mean to apply the charge to you, Mr. Woodbury. I was 
thinking of the prejudices we are obliged to encounter. We 
present what we feel to be serious truths in relation to our sex, 
and they are thrown aside with a contemptuous indifference, 
which wounds us more than the harshest opposition, because 
it implies a disbelief in our capacity to think for ourselves. You 
must know that the word ' feminine,' applied to a man, is the 
greatest reproach that the phrase ' a woman's idea' is never 
uttered but as a condemnation." 

" I have not looked at the subject from your point of view," 
said Woodbury, with an expressed respect in his manner, 
"but I am willing to believe that you have reason to feel 
aggrieved. You must remember, however, that the reproach 
is not all on one side. You women are just as ready to con- 
demn masculine habits and ideas in your own sex. Among 
children a molly-coddle is no worse than a tomboy. The fact, 
after all, does not originate in any natural hostility or contempt, 
on either side, but simply from an instinctive knowledge of 
the distinctions of sex, in temperament, in habits, and in 
mind." 

" In mind ?" Hannah Thurston asked, with unusual calmness. 
" Then you think that minds, too, are male and female ?" 

" That there are general distinctions, certainly. The exact 
boundaries between them, however, are not so easily to be 
defined. But there is a radical difference in the texture, and 
hence in the action of the two. Do you not always instinctive- 
ly feel, in reading a book, whether the author is a man or a 
woman ? Can you name any important work which might 
have been written, indifferently, by either?" 

Miss Thurston reflected a while, and then suggested : " Mrs. 
Somerville's * Physical Geography ?' " 

" Fairly answered," said Woodbury, smiling. " I will not 
reject the instance. I will even admit that a woman might 
write a treatise on algebraic equations, in which there should 
be no sign of her sex. Still, this would not affect the main 



254 HANNAH THUKSTON .* 

fact, which I think you will recognize upon reflection. T admit 
the greatness of the immortal women of History. Nay, more : 
I claim that men are not only willing, without the least touch 
of jealousy, to acknowledge genius in Woman, but are always 
the first to recognize and respect it. What female poet has 
selected for her subject that ' whitest lily on the shield of 
France,' the Maid of Orleans ? But Schiller and Southey have 
not forgotten her. How rare it is, to see one of these famous 
women eulogized by a woman ! The principal advocate of 
your cause what is her name? Bessie Stryker, would be 
treated with more fairness and consideration by men than by 
those of her own sex who are opposed to her views." 

"Yes, that is it," she answered, sadly ; "we are dependent 
on men, and fear to offend them/' 

"This much, at least, seems to be true," said he, " that a sense 
of reliance on the one hand and protection on the other consti- 
tutes a firmer and tenderer form of union than if the natures 
were evenly balanced. It is not a question of superiority, 
but of radical and necessary difference of nature. Woman 
is too finely organized for the hard, coarse business of the 
world, and it is for her own sake that man desires to save her 
from it. He stands between her and human nature in the 
rough." 

" But could she not refine it by her presence ?" 

" Never never !" exclaimed Woodbury. " On the con- 
trary, it would drag her down to unutterable depths. If 
woman had the right of suffrage there would be less swearing 
among the rowdies at the polls, the first time they voted, but 
at the end of five years both sexes would swear together. 
That is" he added, seeing the shocked expression of Hannal 
Thurston's face, "supposing them to be equally implicated in 
the present machinery of politics. The first time a female 
candidate went into a bar-room to canvass for votes, she would 
see the inmates on their best behavior ; but this could not last 
long. She would soon either be driven from the field, or 
brought down to the same level. Nay, she would go below 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 255 

it, for the rudest woman would be injured by associations 
through which the most refined man might pass unharmed." 

The tone of grave conviction in his words produced a strong 
though painful impression upon his hearer. She had heard 
very nearly the same things said, in debate, but they were 
always met and apparently overcome by the millennial assuran- 
ces of her friends by their firm belief in the possible perfec- 
tion of human nature, an illusion which she was too ready to 
accept. A share in all the special avocations of Man, she had 
believed, would result in his elevation, not in the debasement 
of Woman. 

" I should not expect a sudden change," she said, at last, 
" but might not men be gradually redeemed from their low 
tastes and habits ? Might not each sex learn from the other 
only what is best and noblest in it ? It would be very sad if 
all hope for the future must be taken away from us." 

" All hope ? No !" said Woodbury, rising from his seat. 
"The human race is improving, and will continue to improve. 
Better hope too much than not at all. But between the na- 
tures of the sexes there is a gulf as wide as all time. The laws 
by which each is governed are not altogether arbitrary ; they 
have grown, age after age, out of that difference in mental and 
moral development of which I spoke, and which pardon me 
you seem to overlook. Whatever is, is not always right, but 
you may be sure there is no permanent and universal rela- 
tion founded on error. You would banish profanity, excesses, 
brute force from among men, would you not ? Have you -ever 
reflected that these things are distorted forms of that energy 
which has conquered the world? Mountains are not torn 
down, rivers bridged, wildernesses subdued, cities built, states 
founded, and eternal dikes raised against barbarism, by the 
eaters of vegetables and the drinkers of water ! Every man who 
is worth the name possesses something of the coarse, original 
fibre of the race: he lacks, by a wise provision of Providence, 
that finer protecting instinct which holds woman back from 
the rude, material aspects of human nature. He knows and 



256 HANNAH THUKSTON: 

recognizes as inevitable facts, many things, of which she does 
not even suspect the existence. Therefore, Miss Thurston, 
when you apply to men the aspirations of progress which you 
have formed as a woman, you must expect to be disappointed. 
Pardon me for speaking so plainly, in opposition to views 
which I know you must cherish with some tenderness. I 
have, at least, not been guilty of the offence which you 
charged upon'my sex." 

"No," she answered, "you have been frank, Mr. Wood- 
bury, and I know that you are sincere. But may not your 
views be still somewhat colored by the old prejudice ?" 

She blushed, the moment after she spoke. She had endeav- 
ored to moderate her expressions, yet her words sounded 
harsh and offensive. 

But Woodbury smiled as he answered : " If it be so, why 
should old prejudices be worse than new ones 2 A prejudice 
is a weed that shoots up over night. It don't take two years 
to blossom, like this foxglove." 

He broke off one of the long purple bells, and stuck it in the 
button-hole of his coat. 

" I like what slowly matures, and lasts long," said he. 

Hannah Thurston repeated some words of thanks for the 
books, as he gave her his hand. From vb.e shade of the fir she 
w r atched him mount and ride into the r jllage. "He will prob- 
ably take tea with the Waldos," she (.nought : " I shall stay at 
home." 

She resumed her seat, mechanically taking up the volumes 
he had left, but did not open them. His words still lingered 
in her mind, with a strange, disturbing effect. She felt that 
he exercised an influence over her which she was not able sat- 
isfactorily to analyze. The calmness of his utterance, the ripe- 
ness of his opinions, the fairness of his judgment, attracted 
her : she knew no man who compelled an equal respect : yet 
there seemed to be very little in common between them. She 
never met him without a painful doubt of herself being awa- 
kened, which lasted long after his departure. She determined, 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 257 

again and again, to avoid these mental encounters, but some 
secret force irresistibly led her to speak. She felt, in her in- 
most soul, the first lifting of a current, which, if it rose, would 
carry her, she knew not where. A weird, dangerous power 
in his nature seemed to strike at the very props on which her 
life rested. With a sensation, almost of despair, she whis- 
pered to herself: "I will see him no more." 

Woodbary, riding down the street, shook his head, and 
thought, as he unnecessarily pricked his horse with the spur ; 
" I fear she is incorrigible." 



258 HANNAH THURSTON: 



CHAPTER XX. 

IN WHICH SETH WATTLES IS AGAIN DISAPPOINTED. 

AFTER their return from Tiberius the life of the Merryfields 
was unusually quiet and subdued. The imprudent wife, re- 
leased from the fatal influence which had enthralled her, grad- 
ually came to see her action in its proper light, and to under- 
stand the consequences she had so happily escaped. She 
comprehended, also, that there was a point beyond which her 
husband could not be forced, but within which she was secure 
of his indulgent love. Something of the tenderness of their 
early married life returned to her in those days ; she forgot 
her habit of complaint; suspended, out of very shame, her 
jealous demand for her " rights ;" and was almost the busy, 
contented, motherly creature she had been to James Merry- 
field before either of them learned that they were invested 
with important spiritual missions. 

He, also, reflected much upon what had happened. He per- 
ceived the manner in which his wife's perverted views had 
grown out of the belief they had mutually accepted. The 
possible abuses of this belief became evident to him, yet his 
mind was unable to detect its inherent error. It rested on a 
few broad, specious propositions, which, having accepted, he 
was obliged to retain, withall their consequences. He had 
neither sufficient intellectual culture nor experience of life to 
understand that the discrepancy between the ideal reform and 
its practical realization arose, not so much from the truths 
asserted as from the truths omitted or concealed. Thus, tho 
former serenity of his views became painfully clouded and dis- 
turbed, and there were times when he felt that he doubted 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 259 

what he knew must be true. It was better, he said to himself, 
that he should cease, for a while, to speculate on the subject ; 
but his thoughts continually returned to it in spite of himself. 
He greatly felt the need of help in this extremity, yet an un- 
conquerable shyness prevented him from applying to either of 
the two persons Woodbury or Mr. Waldo who were capa- 
ble of giving it. Towards his wife he was entirely kind and 
considerate. After the first day or two, the subject of the 
journey to Tiberius was tacitly dropped, and even the question 
of Woman's Rights was avoided as much as possible. 

While he read aloud the " Anniliilator" in the evening, and 
Mrs. Merryfield knit or sewed as she listened, the servant-girl 
and the field-hand exchanged their opinions in the kitchen. 
They had detected, the first day, the change in the demeanor 
of the husband and wife. "They've been havin' a row, and 
no mistake," said Henry, " and I guess he's got the best of it." 

" No sich a thing," replied Ann, indignantly. " Him, in- 
deed ! It's as plain as my hand that he's awfully cut up, and 
she's took pity on him." 

" Why, she's as cowed as can be !" 

" And he's like a dog with his tail between his legs." 

There was a half earnest courtship going on between the 
two, and each, of course, was interested in maintaining the 
honor of the sex. It was a prolonged battle, renewed from 
day to day with re-enforcements drawn from observations made 
at meal-times, or in the field or kitchen. Most persons who 
attempt to conceal any strong emotion are like ostriches with 
their heads in the sand : the dullest and stupidest of mankind 
will feel, if not see, that something is the matter. If, to a man 
who knows the world, the most finished result of hypocrisy 
often fails of its effect, the natural insight of those who do not 
think at all is scarcely less sure and true. The highest art 
that ever a Jesuit attained could not blind a ship's crew or a 
company of soldiers. 

It was fortunate for the Merryfields, that, while their de- 
pendents felt the change, the truth was beyond their suspicions. 



260 HANNAH THUESTON I 

Towards the few who knew it, there was of course no necessity 
for disguise, and hence, after a solitude of ten days upon the 
farm, Mr. Merryfield experienced a sense of relief and satisfac- 
tion, as, gleaning the scattered wheat with a hay-rake in a field 
adjoining the road, he perceived Hannah Thurston approach- 
ing from Ptolemy. Hitching his horse to the fence, he climbed 
over into the road to meet her. It was a warm afternoon, and 
he was in his shirt-sleeves, with unbuttoned waistcoat ; but,* 
in the country, conventionalities have not .reached the point of 
the ridiculous, and neither he nor his visitor was aware of the 
least impropriety. The farmers, in fact, would rather show 
their own brawny arms and bare breasts than see the bosoms 
of their daughters exposed to the public gaze by a fashionable 
ball-dress. 

" I'm glad you've come, Hannah," said he, as he gave her 
his hard hand. " It seems a long time since I seen you before. 
We've been quite alone ever since then." 

" I should have come to see you sooner, but for mother's ill- 
ness," she replied. " I hope you are both well and happy." 

Her look asked more than her words. 

" Yes," said he, understanding the question in her mind, 
" Sarah's got over her delusion, I guess. Not a hard word 
has passed between us. We don't talk of it any more. But, 
Hannah, I'm in trouble about the principle of the thing. I 
can't make it square in my mind, as it were. There seems to 
be a contradiction, somewhere, between principles and work- 
ing them out. You've thought more about the matter than I 
have : can you make things straight ?" 

The struggle in Hannah Thurston's own mind enabled her 
to comprehend his incoherent questions. She scarcely knew 
how to answer him, yet would fain say something to soothe 
and comfort him in his perplexity. After a pause, she an- 
swered : 

" I fear, James, that I have over-estimated my own wisdom 
that we have all been too hasty in drawing conclusions from 
abstract reasoning. We have, perhaps, been presumptuous in 



A STORY OF AMERICA^ LIFE. 261 

taking it for granted that we, alone, possessed a truth which 
the world at large is too blind to see or, admitting that all is 
true which we believe, that we are too hasty in endeavoring 
to fulfil it in our lives, before the needful preparation is made. 
You know that the field must be properly ploughed and har- 
rowed, before you sow the grain. It may be that we are so 
impatient as to commence sowing before we have ploughed." 

This illustration, drawn from his own business, gave Merry- 
field great comfort. " That must be it !" he exclaimed. " 1 
don't quite understand how, but I feel that what you say must 
be true, nevertheless." 

"Then," she continued, encouraged by the effect of her 
words ; " I have sometimes thought that we may be too strict 
in applying what we know to be absolute, eternal truths, to a 
life which is finite, probationary, and liable to be affected by a 
thousand influences over which we have no control. For in- 
stance, you may analyze your soil, and the stimulants you 
apply to it measure your grain, and estimate the exact yield 
you ought to receive but you cannot measure the heat and 
moisture, the wind and hail, and the destructive insects which 
the summer may bring ; and, therefore, you who sow accord- 
ing to agricultural laws may lose your crop, while another, 
who disregards them, shall reap an abundant harvest. Yet 
the truth of the laws you observed remains the same." 

" What would you do, then, to be sure that you are right ?" 
the farmer asked, as he opened the gate leading into his lane. 

" To continue the comparison, I should say, act as a prudent 
husbandman. Believe in the laws which govern the growth 
and increase of the seed, yet regulate your tillage according 
to the season. The crop is the main thing, and, though it 
sounds like heresy, the farmer may be right who prefers a 
good harvest secured in defiance of rules to a scanty one with 
the observance of them. But I had better drop the figure 
before I make a blunder." 

" Not a bit of it !" he cried. " You've cheered me up 
mightily. There's sense in what you say; queer that it didnt 



262 HAXNAH THUKSTOX : 

come into my mind before. I'm not sure that I can work my 
own case so's to square with it but I'll hold on to the idee." 

As they reached the garden, Hannah Thurston plucked a 
white rosebud which had thrust itself through the paling, and 
fastened it to the bosom of her dress. Mr. Merryfield imme- 
diately gathered six of the largest and reddest cabbage-roses, 
and presented them with a friendly air. 

" There," said he, " stick them on ! That white thing don't 
show at all. It's a pity the pineys are all gone." 

Mrs. Merryfield, sitting on the shaded portico, rose and met 
her visitor at the gate. The women kissed each other, as 
usual, though with a shade of constraint on the part of the for- 
mer. The farmer, judging it best to leave them alone for a 
little while, went back to finish his gleaning. 

After they were comfortably seated on the portico, and 
Hannah Thurston had laid aside her bonnet, there was an awk- 
ward pause. Mrs. Merryfield anticipated an attack, than which 
nothing was further from her visitor's thought. 

" How quiet and pleasant it is here !" the latter finally said. 
" It is quite a relief to me to get away from the village." 

" People are differently constituted," answered Mrs. Merry- 
field, with a slight defiance in her manner : a I like society, and 
there's not much life on a farm." 

"You have enjoyed it so long, perhaps, that you now 
scarcely appreciate it properly. A few weeks in our little cot- 
tage would satisfy you which is best." - 

" I must be satisfied, as it is ;" Mrs. Merryfield replied. 
" We women have limited missions, I suppose." 

She intended herewith to indicate that, although she had de- 
sisted from her purpose, she did not confess that it had been 
wrong. She had sacrificed her own desires, and the fact should 
be set down to her credit. With Mr. Waldo she Avould have 
been candidly penitent more so, perhaps, than she had yet 
allowed her husband to perceive but towards one of her own 
sex, especially a champion of social reform, her only feeling was 
a stubborn determination to vindicate her action as far as pos- 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 263 

sible. Hannah Thurston detected the under-current of her 
thought, and strove to avoid an encounter with it. 

" Yes," said she ; " I suspect there are few persons of aver- 
age ambition who find a sphere broad enough to content them. 
But our merits, you know, are not measured by that. You 
may be able to accomplish more good, here, in your quiet cir- 
cle of neighbors, than in some more conspicuous place." 

"/should be the judge of that," rejoined Mrs. Merryfield, 
tartly. Then, feeling that she had been a little too quick, she 
added, with mournful meekness : " But I suppose some lights 
are meant to be hid, otherways there wouldn't be bushels." 

As she spoke, a light which did not mean to be hid, what- 
ever the accumulation of bushels, approached from the lane. 
It was Seth Wattles, gracefully attired in a baggy blouse of 
gray linen, over which, in front, hung the ends of a huge pur- 
ple silk cravat. He carried a roll of paper in one hand, and 
his head was elevated with a sense of more than usual impor- 
tance. The expression of his shapeless mouth became almost 
triumphant as he perceived Hannah Thurston. She returned 
his greeting with a calmness and self-possession which he mis- 
took for a returning interest in himself. 

By the time the usual common-places had been exchanged, 
Merryfield had returned to the house. Seth, therefore, hastened 
to communicate the nature of his errand. " I have been work- 
ing out an idea," said he, ' which, I think, meets the wants of 
the world. It can be improved, no doubt, I don't say that 
it's perfect but the fundamental basis is right, I'm sure." 

" What is it?" asked Merryfield, not very eagerly. 

" A Plan for the Reorganization of Society, by which we can 
lighten the burden of labor, and avoid the necessity of Govern- 
ments, with all their abuses. It is something like Fourier's plan 
of Phalansteries, only that don't seem adapted to this country. 
And it's too great a change, all at once. My plan can be applied 
immediately, because it begins on a smaller scale. I'm sure 
it will work, if I can only get it started. A dozen persons are 
enough to begin with." 



264 HANNAH THUESTON I 

" Well, how would you begin ?" asked the farmer. 

" Take any farm of ordinary size yours for instance and 
make of it a small community, who shall represent all the neces- 
sary branches of labor. With the aid of machinery, it will be 
entirely independent of outside help. You want a small steam- 
engine, or even a horse-power, to thresh, grind, saw, churn, 
turn, and hammer. Then, one of the men must be a black- 
smith and wheelwright, one a tailor, and another a shoe and 
harness maker. Flax and sheep will furnish the material for 
clothing, maple and Chinese cane will give sugar, and there 
will really be little or nothing to buy. I assume, of course, 
that we all discard an artificial diet, and live on the simplest 
substances. Any little illness can be cured by hydropathy, 
but that would only be necessary in the beginning, for diseases 
would soon vanish from such a community. The labor of the 
women must also be divided : one will have charge of the gar- 
den, another of the dairy, another of the kitchen, and so on. 
When any branch of work becomes monotonous, there can be 
changes made, so that, in the end, each one will understand all 
the different departments. Don't you see ?" 

" Yes, I see," said MerryfieJd. 

"I was sure you would. Just consider what an advantage 
over the present system ! There need not be a dollar of out- 
lay : you can take the houses as they are. Nothing would be 
bought, and all the produce of the farm, beyond what the 
community required for its support, would be clear gain. In 
a few years, this would amount to a fund large enough to hire 
all the necessary labor, and the members could then devote the 
rest of their lives to intellectual cultivation. My plan is diplo- 
matic that's the word. It will reform men, in spite of them- 
selves, by appealing to two of their strongest passions 
acquisitiveness and love of ease. They would get into a 
higher moral atmosphere before they knew it." 

"I dare say," Merryfield remarked, as he crossed one leg 
over the other, and then put it down again, restlessly. " And 
who is to have the general direction of affairs ?" 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 265 

" Oh, there I apply the republican principle !" Seth exclaimed. 
"It will be decided by vote, after discussion, in which all take 
part, women as well as men. Here is my plan for the day. 
Each takes his or her turn, week about, to rise before sunrise, 
make the fires, arid ring a bell to rouse the others. After a 
cold plunge-bath, one hour's labor, and then breakfast, accom- 
panied by cheerful conversation. Then work until noon, when 
dinner is prepared. An hour's rest?, and labor again, when 
necessary. I calculate, however, that six hours a day will 
generally be sufficient. Supper at sunset, followed by discus- 
sion and settlement of plans for the next day. Singing in 
chorus, half an hour ; dancing, one hour, and conversation on 
moral subjects until eleven o'clock, when the bell rings for rest. 
You see, the plan combines every thing ; labor, recreation, 
society, and mental improvement. As soon as we have estab- 
lished a few communities, we can send messengers between 
them, and will not be obliged to support the Government 
through the Post-Office. IsTow, I want you to begin the reform." 

" Me !" exclaimed Merryfield, with a start. 

" Yes, it's the very thing. You have two hundred acres, 
and a house big enough for a dozen. I think we can raise the 
community in a little while. We can call it ' Merryfield,' or, 
if you choose, in Latin Tanner says it's Campus Gaudius, or 
something of the kind. It will soon be known, far and wide, 
and we must have a name to distinguish it. I have no doubt 
the Whitlows would be willing to join us ; Mrs. Whitlow 
could take the dairy, and Miss^Thurston the garden. He's 
been in the grocery-line : he could make sugar, until he got 
acquainted with other kinds of work." 

" Dairy, indeed !" interrupted Mrs. Merryfield. " Yes, she'd 
like to skim cream and drink it by the tumbler-full, no doubt. 
A delightful community it would be, with the cows in her 
charge, somebody else in the bedrooms, and me seeing to the 
kitchen !" 

" Before I'd agree to it, I'd see all the communities " 

Mr. Merryfield' s exclamation terminated with a stronger 
12 



266 HANNAH THTJKSTON: 

word than his wife had heard him utter for years. He jumped 
from his seat, as he spoke, and strode up and down the portico. 
Hannah Thurston, in spite of a temporary shock at the unex- 
pected profanity, felt that her respect for James Merryfield 
had undergone a slight increase. She was a little surprised at 
herself, that it should be so. As for Seth Wattles, he was 
completely taken aback. He had surmised that his plan might 
meet with some technical objections, but he was certain that 
it would be received with sympathy, and that he should finally 
persuade the farmer to accept it. Had the latter offered him 
a glass of whiskey, or drawn a bowie-knife from his sleeve, he 
could not have been more astounded. He sat, with open 
mouth and staring eyes, not knowing what to say. 

" Look here, Seth," said Merryfield, pausing in his walk ; 
" neither you nor me a'n't a-going to reform the world. A 
good many things a'n't right, I know, and as far as talking 
goes, we can speak our mind about 'em. But when it comes 
to fixing them yourself, I reckon you want a little longer ap- 
prenticeship first. I sha'n't try it at my age. Make as pretty 
a machine as you like, on paper, but don't think you'll set it 
up in my house. There's no inside works to it, and it won't go." 

" Why why," Seth stammered, " I always thought you 
were in favor of Social Reform." 

" So I am but I want, first, to see how it's to be done. 
I'll tell you what to do. Neither you nor Tanner are married, 
and have no risk to run. Take a couple more with you, and 
set up a household : do your cooking, washing, sweeping, and 
bed-making, by turns, and if you hold together six months, 
and say you're satisfied, I'll have some faith in your plan." 

" And get Mrs. Whitlow to be one of your Community," 
added Mrs. Merryfield, "or the experiment won't be worth 
much. Let her take care of your dairy, and Mary Wollstone- 
craft and Phillis Wheatley tend to your garden. Send me 
word when you're ready, and I'll come and see how you get 
on!" 

" I don't need to work, as it is, more than's healthy for nie," 



A STORY OP AMERICAN LIFE. 267 

her husband continued, " and I don't want Sarah to, neither. 
I can manage my farm without any trouble, and I've no notion 
of taking ten green hands to bother me, and then have to di- 
vide my profits with them. Show me a plan that'll give me 
something more than I have, instead of taking away the most 
of it." 

" Why, the society, the intellectual cultivation," Seth re- 
marked, but in a hopeless voice. ^ ..- 

"I don't know as I've much to learn from either you or Tan- 
ner. As for Whitlows, all I can say is, I've tried 'em. But 
what do you think of it, Hannah ?" 

" Very much as you do. I, for one, am certainly not ready 
to try any such experiment," Miss Thurston replied. "I still 
think that the family relation is natural, true, and necessary, 
yet I do not wonder that those who have never known it should 
desire something better than the life of a boarding-house. I 
know what that is." 

" Seth " said Merryfield, recovering from his excitement, 
Which he now saw, was quite incomprehensible to the disap- 
pointed tailor, " there's one conclusion I've come to, and I'd 
advise you to turn it over in your own mind. You and me may 
be right in our idees of what's wrong and what ought to be 
changed, but we're not the men to set things right. I'm not 
Garrison, nor yet Wendell Phillips, nor you a what's his 
name ? that Frenchman ? oh, Furrier, and neither of them's 
done any thing yet but talk and write. We're only firemen on 
the train, as it were, and if we try to drive the engine, we may 
just run every thing to smash." 

The trying experience through which Merryfield had passed, 
was not without its good results. There was a shade more of 
firmness in his manner, of directness in his speech. The mere 
sentiment of the reform, which had always hung about him 
awkwardly, and sometimes even ludicrously, seemed to have 
quite disappeared ; and though his views had not changed at 
least, not consciously so they passed through a layer of re- 
awakened practical sense somewhere between the organs of 



268 HANNAH THURSTON : 

thought and speech, and thus assumed a different coloring. 
He was evidently recovering from that very prevalent disor- 
der an actual paralysis of the reasoning faculties, which the 
victim persists in considering as their highest state of activity. 

Seth had no spirit to press any further advocacy of his sub- 
lime scheme. He merely heaved a sigh of coarse texture, and 
remarked, in a desponding tone : " There's not much satisfac- 
tion in seeing the Right, unless you can help to fulfil it. I may 
not have more than one talent, but I did not expect you to 
offer me a napkin to tie it up in." 

This was the best thing Seth ever said. It surprised him- 
self, and he repeated it so often afterwards, that the figure be- 
came as inevitable a part of his speeches, as the famous two 
horsemen, in a certain author's novels. 

Merryfield, seeing how completely he was vanquished, be- 
came the kind host again and invited him to stay for tea. 
Then, harnessing one of his farm-horses, he drove into Ptolemy 
for his semi-weekly mail, taking Hannah Thurston with him. 
As they were about leaving, Mrs. Merryfield suddenly ap- 
peared at the gate, with a huge bunch of her garden flowers, 
and a basket of raspberries, for the Widow Thurston. She was, 
in reality, very grateful for the visit. It had dissipated a secret 
anxiety which had begun to trouble her during the previous 
two or three days. 

"Who knows" she said to herself, sitting on the portico in 
the twilight, while a breeze from the lake shook the woodbines 
on the lattice, and bathed her in their soothing balm " who 
knows but there are Mrs. Whitlows, or worse, there, too I" 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 269 



CHAPTER XXI. 

WITH AN ENTIRE CHANGE OF SCENE. 

AFTER leaving Lakeside, Maxwell Woodbury first directed 
his course to Niagara, to refresh himself with its inexhaustible 
beauty, before proceeding to the great lakes of the North- 
west. His intention was, to spend six or eight weeks amid 
the bracing atmosphere and inspiring scenery of the Northern 
frontier, both as a necessary change from his quiet life on the 
farm, and in order to avoid the occasional intense heat of the 
Atauga Valley. From Niagara he proceeded to Detroit and 
Mackinaw, where, enchanted by the bold shores, the wild 
woods, and the marvellous crystal of the water, he remained 
for ten days. A change of the weather to rain and cold obli- 
ged him to turn his back on the attractions of Lake Superior 
and retrace his steps to Niagara. Thence, loitering down the 
northern shore of Ontario, shooting the rapids of the Thousand 
Isles, or delaying at the picturesque French settlements on the 
Lower St. Lawrence, he reached Quebec in time to take one 
of the steamboats to the Saguenay. 

At first, the superb panorama over which the queenly city is 
enthroned the broad, undulating shores, dotted with the cot- 
tages of the liabitans the green and golden fields of the Isle 
d'Orleans, basking in the sun the tremulous silver veil of the 
cataract of Montmorency, fluttering down the dark rocks, and 
the blue ranges of the distant Laurentian mountains absorbed 
all the new keenness of his faculties. Standing on the prow of 
the hurricane-deck, he inhaled the life of a breeze at once 
resinous from interminable forests of larch and fir, and sharp 



27C HANNAH THUESTON: 

with the salt of the ocean, as he watched the grander sweep 
of the slowly separating shores. Except a flock of Quebeckers 
on their way to Murray Bay and Riviere du Loup, there were 
but few passengers on board. A professor from a college in 
New Hampshire, rigid in his severe propriety, looked through 
his gold-rimmed spectacles, and meditated on the probable 
geology of the headland of Les Eboulemens ; two Georgians, 
who smoked incessantly, and betrayed in their accent that of 
the negro children with whom they had played, commented, 
with unnecessary loudness, on the miserable appearance of the 
Canadian "peasants;" a newly-married pair from Cincinnati 
sat apart from the rest, dissolved in tender sentiment ; and 
a tall, stately lady, of middle age, at the stern of the boat, 
acted at the same time as mother, guide, and companion to two 
very pretty children a girl of fourteen and a boy of twelve. 

As the steamboat halted at Murray Bay to land a number of 
passengers, Woodbury found time to bestow some notice on 
his fellow-travellers. His attention was at once drawn to the 
lady and children. The plain, practical manner in which they 
were dressed for the journey denoted refinement and cultiva- 
tion. The Cincinnati bride swept the deck with a gorgeous 
purple silk; but this lady wore a coarse, serviceable gray 
cloak over her travelling-dress of brown linen, and a hat of 
gray straw, without ornament. Her head was turned towards 
the shore, and Woodbury could not see her face; but the 
sound of her voice, as she spoke to the children, took familiar 
hold of his ear. He had certainly heard that voice before ; 
but where, and when ? The boat at last backed away from 
the pier, and she turned her head. Her face was a long oval, 
with regular and noble features, the brow still smooth and 
serene, the dark eyes soft and bright, but the hair prematurely 
gray on the temples. Her look had that cheerful calmness 
which is the maturity of a gay, sparkling temperament of 
youth, and which simply reserves, not loses, its fire. 

Woodbury involuntarily struck his hand upon his forehead, 
with a sudden effort of memory. Perhaps noticing this action, 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 271 

the lady looked towards him and their eyes met. Hers, too, 
betrayed surprise and semi-recognition. He stepped instantly 
forward. 

" I beg pardon," said he, " if I am mistaken, but I feel sure 
that I have once known you as Miss Julia Remington. Am I 
not right ?" 

"That was my name fifteen years ago," she answered, slowly. 
" Why cannot I recall yours ? I remember your face." 

" Do you not remember having cfone me the honor to attend 

a soiree which I gave, at the corner of Bowery and 

street?" 

" Mr. Woodbury !" she exclaimed, holding out both her 
hands : " how glad I am to see you again ! Who could have 
dreamed that two old friends should come from Calcutta and 
St. Louis to meet at the mouth of the Saguenay ?" 

" St. Louis !" 

" Yes, St. Louis has been my home for the last ten years. 
But you must know my present name Blake : wife of An- 
drew Blake, and mother of Josephine and George, besides 
two younger ones, waiting for me at Saratoga. Come here, 
Josey ; come, George this is Mr. Woodbury, whom I used to 
know many, many years ago in New York. You must be 
good friends with him, and perhaps he will tell you of the 
wonderful ball he once gave." 

Woodbury laughed, and cordially greeted the children, who 
came to him with modest respect, but without embarrassment. 
Long before the boat had reached Riviere du Loup, the old 
friendship was sweetly re-established, and two new members 
introduced into its circle. 

Mrs. Blake had been spending some weeks at Saratoga, 
partly with her husband and partly alone, while he attended to 
some necessary business in New York and Philadelphia. This 
business had obliged him to give up his projected trip to the 
Saguenay, and it was arranged that his wife should make it in 
company with the two oldest children, the youngest being 
left, meanwhile, in the care of a faithful servant. 



272 HANNAH THUKSTOK 

Woodbury had always held Miss Remington in grateful 
remembrance, and it was a great pleasure to him to meet her 
thus unexpectedly. He found her changed in outward appear- 
ance, but soon perceived that her admirable common sense, her 
faithful, sturdily independent womanhood, were still, as for- 
merly, the basis of her nature. She was one of those rare 
women who are at the same time as clear and correct as pos- 
sible in their perceptions, penetrating all the disguises and 
illusions of life, yet unerringly pure and true in instinct and 
feeling. Such are almost the only women with whom thor- 
oughly developed and cultivated men can form those intimate 
and permanent friendships, in which both heart and brain 
find the sweetest repose, without the necessity of posting a 
single guard on any of the avenues which lead to danger. 
Few women, and still fewer men, understand a friendship of 
this kind, and those who possess it must brave suspicion and 
misunderstanding at every turn. 

The relation between Woodbury and Miss Remington had 
never, of course, attained this intimacy, but they now instinc- 
tively recognized its possibility. Both had drunk of the cup 
of knowledge since their parting, and they met again on a 
more frank and confidential footing than they had previously 
known. Mrs. Blake was so unconsciously correct in her im-. 
pulses that she never weighed and doubted, before obeying 
them. The wand of her spirit never bent except where the 
hidden stream was both pure and strong. 

That evening, as the boat halted at Riviere du Loup for the 
night, they walked the hurricane-deck in the long Northern 
twilight, and talked of the Past. Many characters had faded 
away from the sight of both ; others had either fallen from 
their early promise, or soared surprisingly far above it ; but 
all, with their attendant loves, and jealousies, and hates, stood 
out sharp and clear in the memory of the speakers. Mrs. 
Blake, then, in answer to Woodbury's inquiries, gave him a 
rapid sketch of her own life. 

" I am quite satisfied," she said at the close. " My husband 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 273 

is not exactly the preux chevalier I used to imagine, as a girl, 
but he is a true gentleman" 

"You never could have married him, if he were not," 
Woodbury interrupted. 

" a true gentleman, and an excellent man of business, 
which is as necessary in this age as knighthood was in those 
famous Middle ones. Our married life has been entirely happy 
from the start, because we mutuajly put aside our illusions, 
and made charitable allowances for each other. We did not 
attempt to cushion the sharp angles, but courageously clashed 
them together until they were beaten into roundness." 

She broke into a pleasant, quiet laugh, and then went on : 
" I want you to know my husband. You are very different, 
but there are points of contact which, I think, would attract both. 
You have in common, at least, a clear, intelligent faculty of 
judgment, which is a pretty sure sign of freemasonry be- 
tween man and man. I don't like Carlyle as an author, yet I 
indorse, heart and soul, his denunciation of shams. But here 
I am at the end of my history : now tell me yours." 

She listened with earnest, sympathetic interest to Wood- 
bury's narrative, and the closing portion, which related to his 
life at Lakeside, evidently aroused her attention more than all 
the lazy, uneventful tropical years he had spent in Calcutta. 
When he had finished the outlines, she turned suddenly to- 
wards him and asked : " Is there nothing more ?" 

" What should there be ?" he asked in return, with a smile 
which showed that he understood her question. 

"What should be, is not, I know," said she; "I saw that 
much, at once. You will allow me to take a liberty which 
I am sure cannot now give pain : she is not the cause of 
it, I hope ?" 

She looked him full in the face, and felt relieved as she de- 
tected no trace of a pang which her words might have called 
up. The expression of his lips softened rather to pity as he 
answered : " She has long ceased to have any part in my life, 
and she has now very little in my thoughts. When T saw her 
12* 



274 HANNAH THUESTON : 

again, last winter, there was not a single fibre of my heart dis- 
turbed. I will confess this much, however another face, a 
more hopeless memory, long ago displaced hers. Both are 
gone, and I am now trying to find a third." 

His tone was apparently light and indifferent, but to Mrs. 
Blake's true ear it betrayed both weariness and longing. 
" You cannot be deceived the third time," she said, con- 
solingly. 

" I was not deceived the second time," he answered, " but I 
will not tell you the story, just now. It is as completely at an 
end as if it had never happened. Can you help me to another 
trial?" 

She shook her heaci. "It is strange that so few of the best 
men and women discover each other. Nature must be op- 
posed to the concentration of qualities, and continually striving 
to reconcile the extremes ; I cannot account for it in any other 
way. You are still young ; but do not carelessly depend on 
your youth ; you are not aware how rapidly a man's habits 
become ossified, at your age. Marriage involves certain mu- 
tual sacrifices, under the most favorable circumstances. Don't 
trust too long to your own strength." 

" Ah, but where is the girl with your clear sense, Mrs. Blake ?" 
asked Woodbury, pausing in his walk. " My wife must be 
strong enough to know her husband as he was and is. The de- 
ceits which so many men habitually practise, disgust me. Who 
would hear my confession, and then absolve me by love ?" 

" Who ? Almost every woman that loves ! No : I will 
make no exceptions, because the woman who would not do so, 
does not really love. Men are cowards, because they fancy 
that women are, and so each sex cheats itself through want of 
faith in the other. Is that a recent misgiving of yours ?" 

" You are a dangerous friend, Mrs. Blake. Your husband, 
I suspect, is forced to be candid, out of sheer despair at the 
possibility of concealing any thing from you. Yes, you have 
interpreted my thought correctly. I spoke with reference to 
one particular person, whom I am very far from loving, or even 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 275 

desiring to love, but whose individuality somewhat interests 
me. A woman's ideal of man, I am afraid, rises in proportion 
to her intellectual culture. From the same cause, she is not so 
dependent on her emotions, and therefore more calculating and 
exacting. Is it not so ?" 

" No, it is not so !" replied Mrs. Blake, with energy. " Re- 
collect, we are not speaking of the sham women." 

" She does not belong to that class," said Woodbury. "She 
is, in many respects, a rare and noble character ; she possesses 
natural qualities of mind which place her far above the average 
of women ; she is pure as a saint, bold and brave, and yet 
thoroughly feminine in all respects save one but that one 
exceptional feature neutralizes all the others." 

" What is it ?" 

44 She is strong-minded." 

" What !" exclaimed Mrs. Blake, " do you mean a second 
Bessie Stryker ?" 

" Something of the kind so far as I know. She is one of 
the two or three really intelligent women in Ptolemy but 
with the most singularly exaggerated sense of duty. Some 
persons would have censured me more considerately for for- 
gery or murder than she did for smoking a cigar. I discussed 
the subject of Women's Rights with her, the last thing before 
leaving home, and found her as intolerant as the rankest Con- 
servative. What a life such a woman would lead one ! Yet, 
I confess she provokes me, because, but for that one fault, she 
would be worth winning. It is vexatious to see a fine creature 
so spoiled." 

" With all her fanaticism, she seems to have made a strong 
impression on you." 

" Yes, I do not deny it," Woodbury candidly replied. 
" How could it be otherwise ? In the first place, she is still 
something of a phenomenon to me, and therefore stimulates 
my curiosity. Secondly, she is far above all the other girls of 
Ptolemy, both in intellect and in natural refinement. She 
makes the others so tame that, while I could not possibly love 



276 HANNAH THUESTON: 



her, she prevents me from loving any of them. What am I 
to do?" 

" A difficult case, upon my word. If I knew the characters, 
I might assist you to a solution. The only random suggestion 
I can make is this : if the strong-minded woman should come 
to love you, in spite of her strength, it will make short worft 
of her theories of women's rights. Our instincts are stronger 
than our ideas, and the brains of some of us run wild only 
because our hearts are unsatisfied. I should probably have 
been making speeches through the country, in a Bloomer 
dress, by this time, if I had not met with my good Andrew. 
You need not laugh : I am quite serious. And I can give you 
one drop of comfort, before- you leave the confessional : I see 
that your feelings are fresh and healthy, without a shade of 
cynicism: as we say in the West, the latch-string of your 
heart has not been pulled in, and I predict that somebody will 
yet open the door. Good-night !" 

Giving his hand a hearty- honest pressure of sympathy, 
Mrs. Blake went to her state-room. Woodbury leaned over 
the stern-railing, and gazed upon the sprinkles of reflected 
starlight in the bosom of the St. Lawrence. The waves 
lapped on the stones of the wharf with a low, liquid murmur, 
and a boatman, floating upwards with the tide, sang at a dis- 
tance : " Jamais je ne tf oublierai" Woodbury mechanically 
caught the melody and sang the words after him, till boat and 
voice faded together out of sight and hearing. It refreshed 
rather than disturbed him that the eye of a true woman had 
looked upon his heart. " Whatever may be the end," he said 
to himself, " she shall know the whole truth, one day. When 
we suspect that a seed of passion may have been dropped in 
our natures, we must quietly wait until we feel that it has put 
forth roots. I did not tell her the whole truth. I am not 
sure but that I may love that girl, with all her mistaken views. 
Her face follows me,' and calls me back. If each of us could 
but find the other's real self, then why, then" - 

He did not follow the thought further. The old pang arose, 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 277 

the old hunger of the heart came over him, and brought with 
it those sacred yearnings for the tenderer ties which follow 
marriage, and which man, scarcely less than woman, craves. 
The red lights of two cigars came down the long pier, side by 
side : it was the Georgians, returning from a visit to the vil- 
lage. The New Hampshire Professor approached him, and 
politely remarked : " It is singular that the Old Red Sandstone 
reappears in this locality." 

"Very singular," answered Wotfdbury. " Good-night, Sir 1" 
and went to bed. 

The next morning the steamer crossed to Tadoussac, and 
entered the pitch-brown waters of the savage, the sublime, the 
mysterious Saguenay. The wonderful scenery of this river, 
or rather fiord, made the deepest impression on the new-made 
friends. It completely banished from their minds the conver- 
sation of the previous evening. Who could speak or even 
think of love, or the tender sorrow that accompanies the 
memory of betrayed hopes, in the presence of this stern and 
tremendous reality. Out of water which seemed thick and 
sullen as the stagnant Styx, but broke into a myriad beads of 
dusky amber behind the steamer's paddles, leaped now and 
then a white porpoise, weird and solitary as the ghost of a 
murdered fish. On either side rose the headlands of naked 
granite, walls a thousand feet in height, cold, inaccessible, 
terrible ; and even where, split apart by some fore-world con- 
vulsion, they revealed glimpses up into the wilderness behind, 
no cheating vapor, no haze of dreams, softened the distant 
picture, but the gloomy green of the fir-forests darkened into 
indigo blue, arid stood hard and cold against the gray sky. 
After leaving L'Anse a 1'Eau, all signs .of human life ceased. 
]STo boat floated on the black glass ; no fisher's hut crouched in 
the sheltered coves ; no settler's axe had cut away a single 
feather from the ragged plumage of the hills. 

But as they reached the awful cliffs of Trinity and Eternity, 
rising straight as plummet falls from their bases, a thousand 
feet below the surface, to their crests, fifteen hundred feet in 



278 HANNAH THUKSTON I 

the air, a wind blew out of the north, tearing and rolling 
away the gray covering of the sky, and allowing sudden floods 
of sunshine to rush down through the blue gaps. The hearts 
of the travellers were lifted, as by the sound of trumpets. 
Far back from between the two colossal portals of rock, like 
the double propyloe of some Theban temple, ran a long, deep 
gorge of the wilderness, down which the coming sunshine 
rolled like a dazzling inundation, drowning the forests in 
splendor, pouring in silent cataracts over the granite walls, 
and painting the black bosom of the Saguenay with the blue 
of heaven. It was a sudden opening of the Gates of the 
North, and a greeting from the strong Genius who sat en- 
throned beyond the hills, not in slumber and dreams, like his 
languid sister of the South, cooling her dusky nakedness in the 
deepest shade, but with the sun smiting his unflinching eyes, 
with his broad, hairy breast open to the wind, with the best 
blood of the world beating loud and strong in his heart, and 
the seed of empires in his virile loins ! 

Woodbury was not one of your " gushing" characters, who 
cry out " Splendid !" " Glorious !" on the slightest provocation. 
When most deeply moved by the grander aspects of Nature, 
he rarely spoke ; but he had an involuntary habit of singing 
softly to himself, at such times. So he did now, quite uncon- 
sciously, and had got as far as : 

" Thy heart is in the upper world, 

And where the chamois bound ; 

Thy heart is where the mountain fir 

Shakes to the torrent's sound ;" 

when he suddenly checked himself and turned away with 
a laugh and a light blush of self-embarrassment. He had been 
picturing to himself the intense delight which Hannah Thurs 
ton would have felt in the scene before him. 

Meanwhile the boat sped on, and soon reached the end of 
the voyage at Ha-ha Bay. Mrs. Blake and her children were 
delighted with their journey, to which the meeting with 



A STOEY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 279 

Woodbury had given such an additional charm. As they 
descended the Saguenay in the afternoon, their eyes grew ac- 
customed to the vast scale of the scenery; loftier and grander 
arose the walls of granite, and more wild and awful yawned 
the gorges behind them. The St. Lawrence now opened in 
front with the freedom of the sea, and in the crimson light of 
a superb sunset they returned to Riviere du Loup. 

The companionship was not dropped after they had reached 
Quebec. Woodbury accompanied them to the Falls of the 
Montmorency and the Chaudiere ; to the Plains of Abraham 
and the quaint French villages on the shores ; and their even- 
ings were invariably spent on Durham Terrace, to enjoy, 
over and over again, the matchless view. It was arranged 
that they should return to Saratoga together, by way of Cham- 
plain and Lake George ; and a few more days found them 
there, awaiting the arrival of Mr. Blake. 

He came at last ; and his wife had not incorrectly judged, 
in supposing that there were some points of mutual attraction 
between the two men. The Western merchant, though a 
shrewd and prudent man of business, was well educated, had 
a natural taste for art (he had just purchased two pictures by 
Church and Kensett), and was familiar with the literature of 
the day. He was one of those fortunate men who are capable 
of heartily enjoying such things, without the slightest ambition 
to produce them. He neither complained of his own vocation, 
nor did he lightly esteem it. He was not made for idle 
indulgence, and was sufficiently prosperous to allow himself 
proper recreation. His temperament, therefore, was healthy, 
cheerful, and stimulating to those with whom he came in con- 
tact. He was by no means handsome, and had a short, 
abrupt manner of speaking, which Woodbury's repose of 
manner threw into greater distinctness. His wife, however, 
knew his true value, as he knew hers, and their mutual con- 
fidence was absolute. 

Woodbury strongly urged them to spend a few days with 
him at Lakeside, on their return journey to St. Louis. In ad* 



280 HANNAH THUESTON: 

dition to the pleasure he derived from their society, he had a 
secret desire that Mrs. Blake should see Hannah Thurston a 
curiosity to know the impression which the two women would 
make on each other. What deeper motive lurked behind this, 
he did not question. 

The discussion of the proposal reminded him that he had 
not heard from Lakeside since his departure. He immediately 
wrote to Arbutus Wilson, announcing his speedy return, and 
asking for news of the farming operations. Six days after- 
wards an answer carne, not from Arbutus, but from Mr. 
Waldo an answer of a nature so unexpected, that he left 
Saratoga the same night. 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 281 



CHAPTER XXII. 

IN WHICH TROUBLE COMES TO LAKESIDE. 

AFTER Woodbury had left Lakeside for his summer tour, 
Mrs. Fortitude Babb resumed her ancient authority. " Now," 
she said to Bute, as they sat down to supper on the day of 
his departure, "now we'll have a quiet time of it. Abody'll 
know what to do without waitin' to be told whether it's jist 
to other people's likin's." 

" Why, Mother Forty," said Bute, " Mr. Max. is as quiet a 
man as you'll find anywhere." 

"Much you know about him, Bute. He lets you go on 
farmin' in y'r own way, pretty much ; but look at my gard'n 
tore all to pieces ! The curran' bushes away at t'other end 
half a mile off, if you want to git a few pies and the kersan- 
thums stuck into the yard in big bunches, among the grass ! 
What would she say, if she could see it? And the little 
room for bed-clo'es, all cleaned out, and a big bathin' tub in 
the corner, and to be filled up every night. Thank the Lord, 
he can't find nothin' to say ag'in my cookin'. If he was to 
come pokin' his nose into the kitchen every day, I dunno what 
I'd do !" 

"It's his own garden," said Bute, sturdily. "He's paid for 
it, and he's got a right to do what he pleases with it. 1 
would, if 't'was mine." 

" Oh yes, you! You're gittin' mighty independent, seems 
to me. I 'xpect nothin' else but you'll go off some day with 
that reedic'lous thing with the curls." 

"Mother Forty!" said Bute, rising suddenly from the 



282 HANNAH THTJESTON I 

table, " don't you mention her name ag'in. I don't want to 
see her any more, nor I don't want to hear of her !" 

He strode out of the house with a fiery face. Mrs. Babb 
sat, as if thunderstruck. Little by little, however, a presenti- 
ment of the truth crept through her stiff brain : she drew her 
thin lips firmly together and nodded her head. The sense of 
relief which she first felt, on Bute's account, was soon lost, 
nevertheless, in an angry feeling toward Miss Carrie Dilworth. 
Utterly unaware of her own inconsistency, she asked herself 
what the little fool meant by turning up her nose at such a 
fine young fellow as Arbutus the very pick of the farmers 
about Ptolemy, though she, Fortitude Babb, said it ! Where 
would she find a man so well-built and sound, so honest and 
good-hearted? Everybody liked him; there were plenty of 
girls that would jump at the chance of having him for a hus- 
band but no, he was not good enough for her. Ugh ! the 
nasty, pert, stuck-up little hussy ! That comes o' wearin' your 
hair like an Injun ! But Arbutus mustn't mind ; there's as good 
fish in the sea as ever was ketched, and better too. 'Twas 
reasonable, after all, that he should marry some time ; a man's 
a man, though you brought him up yourself; and the best 
way is to take hold and help, when you can't hinder it. 

Thereupon, she set her wits to work to discover the right 
kind of a wife for her step-step-son. It was a perplexing sub- 
ject : one girl was slatternly, another was unhealthy, a third 
was too old, a fourth had disagreeable relatives, a fifth was as 
poor as Job's turkey. Where was the compound of youth, 
health, tidiness, thrift, and, most important of all, the proper 
respect for Mrs. Babb's faculties ? " I'll find her yet !" she said 
to herself, as she sat at her knitting, in the drowsy summer after- 
noons. f Meanwhile, her manner towards Bute grew kinder 
and more considerate a change for which he was not in the 
least grateful. He interpreted it as the expression of her 
satisfaction Avith the disappointment under which he still 
smarted. He became moody and silent, and before many days 
had elapsed Mrs. Babb was forced to confess to herself that 



A STOEY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 283 

Lakeside was lonely and uncomfortable without the presence 
of Mr. Woodbury. 

As for Bute, though he felt that he was irritable and heavy, 
compared with his usual cheerful mood, there was more the 
matter with him than he supposed. The experience through 
which he had passed disturbed the quiet course of his blood. 
Like a mechanism, the action of which is even and perfectly 
balanced at a certain rate of speed, but tends to inevitable con- 
fusion when the speed is increased, his physical balance was 
sadly disarranged by the excitement of his emotional nature 
and the sudden shock which followed it. Days of feverish 
activity, during which he did the work of two men without 
finding the comfort of healthy fatigue, were followed by days 
of weariness and apathy, when the strength seemed to be gone 
from his arm, and the good-will to labor from his heart. His 
sleep was either restless and broken, or so unnaturally pro- 
found that he arose from it with a stunned, heavy head. 

Among the summer's work which Mr. Woodbury had or- 
dered, after wheat-harvest, was the draining of a swampy field 
which sloped towards Roaring Brook. An Irish ditcher had 
been engaged to work upon it, but Bute, finding that much 
more must be done than had been estimated, and restless 
almost to nervousness, assisted with his own hands. Day 
after day, with his legs bare to the thighs, he stood in the oozy 
muck, plying pick and shovel under the burning sun. Night 
after night, he went to bed with a curiously numb and dead- 
ened feeling, varied only by nervous starts and thrills, as if the 
bed were suddenly sinking under him. 

One morning, he did not get up at the usual hour. Mrs. 
Babb went on with her labors for breakfast, expecting every 
moment to see him come down and wash his face at the pump 
outside the kitchen-door. The bacon was fried, the coffee was 
boiled, and still he did not appear. She opened the door of 
the kitchen staircase, and called in her shrillest tones, one, 
two, three times, until finally an answer reached her from 
the bedroom. Five minutes afterwards, Bute blundered 



284 HANNAH THTJESTON: 



down the steps, and, seeing the table ready, took his accus- 
tomed seafi. 

" Well, Arbutus, you have slep', sure enough. I s'pose you 
was tired from yisterday, though," said Mrs. Babb, as she 
transferred the bacon from the frying-pan to a queensware 
dish. Hearing no answer, she turned around. " Gracious 
alive !" she exclaimed, " are you a-goin' to set down to break- 
fast without washin' or combin' your hair ? I do believe 
you're asleep yit." 

Bute said nothing, but looked at her with a silly smile which 
seemed to confirm her words. 

"Arbutus!" she cried out, "wake up! Tou don't know 
what you're about. Dash some water on your face, child ; if 
I ever saw the like !" and she took hold of his shoulder with 
one of her bony hands. 

He twisted it petulantly out of her grasp. " I'm tired, 
Mike," he said : " if the swamp wasn't so wet, I'd like to lay 
down and sleep a spell." 

The rigid joints of Mrs. Babb's knees seemed to give way 
suddenly. She dropped into the chair beside him, lifted his 
face in both her trembling hands, and looked into his eyes. 
There was no recognition in. them, and their wild, wandering 
glance froze her blood. His cheeks burned like fire, and his 
head dropped heavily, the next moment, on his shoulder. " This 
tussock'll do," he murmured, and relapsed into unconsciousness. 

Mrs. Babb shoved her chair nearer, and allowed his head to 
rest on her shoulder, while she recovered her strength. There 
was no one else in the house. Patrick, the field-hand, was at 
the barn, and was accustomed to be called to his breakfast. 
Once she attempted to do this, hoping that her voice might 
reach him, but it was such an unnatural, dismal croak, that she 
gave up in despair. Bute started and flung one arm around 
her neck with a convulsive strength which almost strangled her. 
After that, she did not dare to move or speak. The coffee-pot 
boiled over, and the scent of the scorched liquid filled the 
kitchen ; the fat in the frying-pan, which she had thought- 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 285 

lessly set on the stove again, on seeing Bute, slowly dried to 
a crisp, and she knew that the bottom of the pan would be 
ruined. These minor troubles strangely thrust themselves 
athwart the one great, overwhelming trouble of her heart, and 
confused her thoughts. Bute was deathly sick, and stark, 
staring mad, was the only fact which she could realize ; and 
with her left hand, which was free, she gradually and stealth- 
ily removed, his knife, fork, and plate, and pushed back the 
table-cloth as far as she could reach. Then she sat rigidly as 
before, listening to the heavy, irregular breathing of the inva- 
lid, and scorched by his burning head. 

Half an hour passed before Patrick's craving stomach 
obliged him to disregard the usual call. Perhaps, he finally 
thought, he had not heard it, and he then betook himself at 
once to the house. The noise he made in opening the kitchen- 
door, startled Bute, who clinched his right fist and brought it 
down on the table. 

" Holy mother !" exclaimed Patrick, as he saw the' singular 
group. 

Mrs. Babb turned her head with difficulty, and shook it as 
a sign of caution, looking at him with wide, suffering eyes, 
from which the tears now first flowed, when she saw that help 
and sympathy had come to her at last. 

"God preserve us! och, an' he isn't dead?" whispered 
Patrick, advancing a step nearer, and ready to burst into a 
loud wail. 

" He's sick ! he's crazy !" Mrs. Babb breathed hoarsely, in 
reply : "help me to git him to bed !" 

The Irishman supported Bute by the shoulders, while Mrs. 
Babb gently and cautiously relieved herself from his choking 
arm. Without Pat's help it is difficult to say what she would 
have done. Tender as a woman, and gifted with all the whimsi- 
cal cunning of his race, he humored Bute's delirious fancies to 
the utmost, soothing instead of resisting or irritating him, and 
with infinite patience and difficulty succeeded in getting him 
back into his bedroom. Here Mrs. Babb remade his bed, put- 



286 HANNAH THUKSTOX: 

ting on fresh sheets and pillows, and the two undressed and laid 
nim in it. The first thing she then did was to cut off his long 
yellow locks close to the head, and apply a wet cloth ; beyond 
that, which she had heard was always used in such cases, she 
did not dare to go. 

The next thing was, to procure medical assistance. There 
were no other persons about the house, and both of them 
together, it seemed probable, would scarcely be able to man- 
age the patient, if a violent paroxysm should come on. Mrs. 
Babb insisted on remaining by him ; but Patrick, who had 
seen similar attacks of fever, would not consent to this. He 
swore by all the saints that she would find Bute safely in bed 
on her return. She need not go farther than black Melinda's 
cabin, he said ; it was not over three-quarters of a mile. She 
could send Melinda for the doctor, and for Misther Merryfield 
too that 'ud be better ; and then come directly back, herself. 

Mrs. Babb gave way to these representations, and hurried 
forth on 'her errand. Her stiff old joints cracked with the 
violence of her motion ; she was agitated by remorse as well 
as anxiety. She had been a little hard on the lad ; what if he 
should die without forgiving her, and should go straight to 
heaven (as of course he would) and tell his own mother and 
Jason Babb, who was so fond of him ? In that case, Jason 
would certainly be angry with her, and perhaps would not 
allow her to sit beside him on the steps of the Golden City, 
when her time came. Fortunately, she found old Melinda 
at home, and despatched her with the injunction to "go down 
to MeVryfield's as hard as you can scoot, and tell him to ride for 
the doctor, and then you come directly back to the house." 
Melinda at once strode away, with her eyes fixed before her, 
muttering fragments of camp-meeting hymns. 

When Mrs. Babb returned, she found Bute still in bed, pant- 
ing from evident exhaustion. The wet cloth was on his head 
and the bed-clothes were straight. Patrick turned away his 
face from the light, and said : " Sure, an' he's been as quiet as 
a lamb" an assertion which was disproved the next day by 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 287 

the multitude of indigo blotches, the marks of terrible blows, 
which appeared on his own face, breast, and arms. What hap- 
pened while they were alone, Patrick always avoided telling, 
except to the priest. To his mind, there was a sanctity about 
delirium, the secrets of which it would be criminal to betray. 

In two or three hours more the physician arrived, accom- 
panied by Merryfield. The former pronounced Bute to be 
laboring under a very dangerous attack of congestive fever, of 
a typhoid character. He bled him sufficiently to reduce the 
excitement of the brain, prescribed the usual medicines, a little 
increased in quantity, and recommended great care and exact- 
ness in administering them. When he descended the stairs, 
the housekeeper stole after him, and grasped his arm as he 
entered the hall. 

" Doctor," she asked, in her stern manner, " I jist want to 
know the truth. Is he goin' to git over it, or isn't he ?" 

" The chances are about even, Mrs. Babb," the physician re- 
plied. " I will not disguise from you the fact that it's a very 
serious case. If his constitution were not so fine, I should feel 
almost like giving him up. I will only say this : if we can 
keep him for a week, without growing much worse, we shall 
get the upper hand of the fever. It depends on his nurses, 
even more than on me." 

''Til nuss him!" Mrs. Babb exclaimed, defiantly. "A week, 
did you say ? A week a'n't a life-time, and I can stand it. I 
stood more'n that, when Jason was sick. Don't be concerned 
about your orders, Sir : I'VE TOOK 'EM TO HEART, and that's 
enough said." r 

The housekeeper went back to the kitchen, clinching her 
fists and nodding her head the meaning of which was, that 
there was to be a fair stand-up fight between Death and her 
self, for the possession of Arbutus Wilson, and that Death was 
not going to be the victor, no, not if he took herself instead, 
out of spite. Then and there she commenced her plan of de- 
fence. Those precautions which the physician had recommend- 
ed were taken with a Draconian severity : what he had forbid- 



288 HANNAH THFKSTO^I 

den ceased to have a possibility of existence. Quiet, of course, 
was included in his orders, and never was a household con- 
ducted with so little noise. The sable Melinda, having let a 
pot-lid fall on the kitchen-floor, found her arm instantly grasp- 
ed in a bony vice, while an awful voice whispered in her ear 
(Mrs. Babb had ceased to speak otherwise, even when she 
went to the garden) " Don't you dare to do that ag'in !" She 
prepared and applied the blisters and poultices with her 
own hands ; administered the medicines punctually to the 
second, whether by day or by night ; and the invalid could not 
turn in his bed but she seemed to know it, by some sort of 
clairvoyance, in whatever part of the house she might be at 
the time. At night, although Patrick and Mr. Merry field vol- 
unteered to watch by turns, and tried to induce her to sleep, 
she never undressed, but lay down on her bed in an adjoining 
chamber, and made her appearance in the sick-room, tall, dark, 
and rigid, every half-hour. She would listen with a fearful 
interest to Bute's ravings, whether profane or passionate, 
dreading to hear some accusation of herself, which, if he died, 
he would bear straight to Jason Babb. Her words, however, 
had made but the slightest surface- wounds on Bute's sturdy 
nature. No accusation or reproach directed towards her 
passed his lips ; Miss Dilworth's name, it is true, was some- 
times mentioned, but more in anger than in love ; but his mind 
ran principally on farming matters, mixed with much incohe- 
rent talk, to which Patrick only appeared to have the clue. 
The latter, at least, was generally able to exercise a guidance 
over his hallucinations, and to lead them from the more violent 
to the gentler phases. 

Half the week was gone, and no change could be detected 
in the invalid's condition. The powerful assault of disease 
had met as powerful a resisting nature, and the struggle con- 
tinued, with no marked signs of weariness on either side. 
Much sympathy was felt by the neighbors, when the news 
became known, and there were kind offers of assistance. The 
physician, however, judged that the attendance was already 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 289 

sufficient, and as the fever was contagious in many cases, he 
recommended that there should be as few nurses as possible. 
The sympathy then took the for.ii of recipes (every one of 
which was infallible), dried herbs, jellies, oranges, and the like. 
Mr. Jones, the miller, even sent a pair of trout, which he had 
caught in Roaring Brook. The housekeeper received all these 
articles with stern thanks, and then locked them up in her 
cupboard, saying to herself, "'Ta'n't time for sich messes yet: 
Zcan git all he wants, jist now." 

Slowly the week drew to a close, and Mrs. Babb grew more 
anxious and excited. The unusual strain upon her old frame 
began to tell; she felt her strength going, and yet the ago- 
nizing suspense in regard to Bute's fate must be quieted be- 
fore she could allow it to give way altogether. Her back kept 
its straightness from long habit, but her knees tottered under 
her every time she mounted the stairs, and the muscles around 
her mouth began to twitch and relax, in spite of herself. She 
no longer questioned the physician, but silently watched his 
face as he came from Bute's room, and waited for him to 
speak. 

On the seventh day, what little information he voluntarily 
gave afforded no relief to her mind, and for the first time the 
iron will which had upheld her thus far began to waver. A 
weariness which, it seemed to her, no amount of sleep could 
ever heal, assailed her during the night. Slowly she struggled 
on until morning, and through the eighth day until late in the 
efternoon, when the physician came. This time, as he left the 
sick-room, she detected a slight change in his expression. 
Walking slowly towards him, striving to conceal her weakness 
and emotion, she said, brokenly : 

"Can you tell me now?" 

" I don't like to promise." he answered, " but there is a 
chance now that the fever will exhaust itself, before quite all 
the power of rallying afterwards has been spent. He. is not 
out of danger, but the prospects of his recovery are better 
than they were, two to one. If he gets well, your nursing, 
a 



290 HAISHSTAH THITESTON I 

Mrs. Babb, will have saved him. I wish all ray patients could 
have you." 

The housekeeper dropped into the nearest chair, and gave 
vent to her feelings in a single hoarse, dry sob. When the 
doctor had gone, Melinda put the teapot on the table, arranged 
the cups and saucers, and said : " Come, now, Miss Forty, 
you take a cup. I sure you needs ura ; you jiss' killin' you'self, 
honey." 

Mrs. Babb attempted to comply : she lifted the saucer to 
her lips, and then set it down again. She felt, suddenly, very 
faint and sick, and the next moment an icy chill seized her, 
and shook her from head to foot : her lips were blue, and her 
seven remaining teeth rattled violently together. Meliuda, 
alarmed, flew to her assistance ; but she pushed her back with 
her long, thin arm, saying, " I knowed it must come so. One 
of us had got to go. He'll git well, now." 

" Oh, Missus !" cried Melinda, and threw her apron over her 
head. 

" Where's the use, Melindy ?" said the housekeeper, sternly. 
tw I guess sAe'll be glad of it : she'd kind o' got used to havin' 
me with her." 

Even yet, she did not wholly succumb to the attack. De- 
liberately forcing herself to drink two cups of hot tea, in order 
to break the violence of the chill, she slowly crept up stairs to 
Bute's room, where Patrick was in attendance. Him she de- 
spatched at once to Ptolemy, with a message to the Rev. Mr. 
Waldo, whom she requested to come at as early an hour as 
possible. She sent no word to the physician, but the old Me- 
linda had shrewdness enough to discover this omission and 
supply it. 

Wrapped in a blanket, Mrs. Babb took her seat in the old- 
fashioned rocking-chair at Bute's bedside, and looked long 
and earnestly on his worn face, in the last light of day. What 
had become of the warm, red blood which had once painted 
his round cheeks, showing itself defiantly through the tan 
of all the suns of summer ? Blood and tan seemed to have 



A STOEY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 291 

buddenly vanished together, leaving a waxen paleness and a 
sunken, pinched expression, so much like death, that his rest- 
less movements and mutterings comforted her, because they 
denoted life. " Yes, there's life in him still !" she whispered 
to herself. Presently he opened his eyes, and looked at her. 
The fierceness of his delirium had been .broken, but his expres- 
sion was still strange and troubled. 

" I guess we'll begin the oats to-day, Pat," he said, in a weak 
voice. 

"Arbutus!" she cried, "look at me! Don't you know 
Mother Forty no more ?" 

" Mother Forty's gittin' breakfast," said he, staring at her. 

" Oh, Arbutus," she groaned, desperately ; " do try to know 
me this once't ! I'm mortal sick : I'm a-goin' to die. If there's 
anything on y'r mind ag'in me, can't you say you forgive me?" 
And the poor old creature began to cry in a noiseless way. 

" I forgive you, Miss Carrie," answered Bute, catching at 
the word " forgive." " 'Ta'n't worth mindin'. You're a little 
fool, and I'm a big one, that's all." 

Mrs. Babb did not try again. She leaned back in the rock- 
ing-chair, folding the blanket more closely around her, to keep 
off the constantly recurring chills, and husbanding her failing 
strength to perform the slight occasional offices which the in- 
valid required. Thus she sat until Patrick's return, when the 
negress helped her to bed. 

In the morning the physician found her in a pitiable 
state of debility, but with a mind as clear and determined as 
ever. Her physical energies were completely broken, and the 
prospect of supporting them artificially until the fever should 
subside, seemed very slight. She understood the grave con- 
cern upon his face. " You needn't tell me, doctor," she said ; 
" I know all about it. I'll take the medicines, to make your 
mind easy ; but it's no use." 

Mr. Waldo arriving about the same time, she begged the 
physician to wait until she had had an interview with the 
former. He had been summoned for no other purpose than to 



292 HANNAH THTJESTON : 

draw up her will, the signing of which she wished both gentle- 
men to witness. The document was soon prepared. She be- 
queathed all she possessed to Arbutus Wilson, her adopted son, 
after deducting the expenses of her funeral, and a tombstone 
similar to that which she had erected to the memory of Jason 
Babb. 

Propped up in bed, she carefully went over the various 
sums, obliging Mr. Waldo to repeat them after her and read 
them aloud as he wrote them, in order that there might be no 
mistake. " There's the four hundred dollars Jason left me," 
said she, " out at interest with David Van Horn ; then the mor- 
gidge for a thousand dollars on Wilmot's store ; then the three 
hundred she willed to me, two hundred lent to Backus, and 
two hundred and fifty to Dan'el Stevens ; let alone the int'rest 
what I've saved. You'll find there'd ought to be twenty-seven 
hundred and four dollars and six shillin's, altogether. The notes 
is all in my tin box, and the int'rest tied up in my weddiii' 
stockins in the big trunk. I got it turned into gold: the banks is 
breakin' all the time. It's enough to give Arbutus a good start 
in the world a heap better'n either me or Jason had. Put it 
into the will that he's to be savin' and keerful, for 'twas got by 
hard work. I know he won't spend it for hisself, but he's to 
keep it out drawin' int'rest, and if he gits married, he mustn't 
let his wife put it onto her back. And you may put down my 
blessin', and that I've tried to bring him up in the right way 
and hope he won't depart from it." 

The will was finally completed. With a strong effort, she 
signed it with a cramped, but steady hand. The physician 
and clergyman affixed their signatures as witnesses. " Now 
I'm ready," whispered Mrs. Babb, sinking down on the pil- 
lows, and almost instantly fell asleep. 

As the two gentlemen issued from the house, the physician 
said : " We must get somebody to take care of her." 

" Of course," answered Mr. Waldo. " She cannot bo in- 
trusted to old Melinda, Leave it to me : I will see that there 
is a good nurse in the house before night." 



A STOBT OF AMERICAN LIFE. 293 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

WHICH CONTAINS BOTH I^VE AND DEATH. 

GOOD Mr. Waldo drove back to Ptolemy seriously trou- 
bled by the calamity which had come upon the household 
of Lakeside. Its helpless condition, now that the housekeeper 
was struck down, rendered immediate assistance necessary ; 
but whence was the help to come ? He could think of no 
woman at the same time willing and competent to render it 
except his wife and on her rested the entire care of his own 
house, as they were unable to afford a servant. The benevo- 
lent clergyman actually deliberated whether he should not let 
her go, and ask the hospitality of one of his parishioners during 
her absence, in case no other nurse could be found. 

As he turned into the short private lane leading to his 
stable, a rapid little figure, in pink muslin, entered the front 
yara. It was Miss Caroline Dilworth, who had just returned 
from a farm-house on the road to Mulligan sville, where she 
had been sewing for a fortnight past. She entered the plain 
little sitting-room at the same moment with Mr. Waldo. The 
clergyman's wife greeted her w^ith astonishing brevity, and 
turned immediately to her husband. 

" What was the matter ?" she asked ; " is Bute so much 
worse ?" 

" Bute worse !" ejaculated Miss Dilworth, opening her eyes 
in amazement. 

"No," said Mr. Waldo, answering his wife, "the doctor 
thinks his chance is a little better, though he is still out of his 
head ; but she has the fever now, and her case seems worse 
than his. I am distressed about them : there is nobody there 



294 HANNAH THTJKSTON : 

except the old negro woman, and Mrs. Babb needs a careful 
nurse immediately." 

" What is it ? Do tell me what it is ?" cried Miss Dilworth, 
catching hold of the clergyman's arm with both hands. 

He explained the case to her in a few words. To the aston- 
ishment of both, the little sempstress burst into a violent flood 
of tears. For a minute or two the agitation was so great that 
she was unable to speak. 

" It's d-dreadful !" she sobbed at last. " Why why didn't 
you send w-word to me ? But I'll g-go now : don't put out 
your horse : take take me there !" 

" Carrie ! do you really mean it ?" said Mrs. Waldo. 

Miss Caroline Dilworth actually stamped her foot. " Do 
you think I'd make fun about it ?" she cried. " Yes, I mean 
to go, if I must go a-foot. He they must have somebody, and 
there's nobody can go so well as I can." 

" I think she is right, wife," said the clergyman. 

Mrs. Waldo hesitated a moment. "I know you would 
be kind and careful, Carrie," she said at length, " and I could 
come every day, and relieve you for a while. But are you sure 
you are strong enough for the task ?" 

Miss Dilworth dried her eyes with her handkerchief and 
answered : " If I'm not, you'll soon find it out. I'm going 
over to Friend Thurston's to get some of my things to take 
along." 

" I'll call for you in a quarter of an hour, with the buggy," 
said Mr. Waldo. 

The little sempstress was off without saying good-by. As 
she went down the plank walk towards the Widow Thurston's 
cottage, she pushed her tangled curls behind her ears> and then 
held her hands clenched at her side, too much in earnest to 
give her head a single toss or allow her feet a single mincing 
step. All the latent firmness in her lithe figure was suddenly 
developed. It spoke in her rapid, elastic gait, in the com- 
pression of the short red lips, and the earnest forward glance 
of her eyes, under their uplifted lids. During the spring and 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 295 

summer she had been gradually coming to the conviction that 
she had treated Bute Wilson shamefully. The failure of the 
little arts which she had formerly employed with so much suc- 
cess had hastened this conviction. The softest drooping of her 
eyes, the gentlest drawl of her voice, ceased to move him from 
his cold, grave indifference. She began to feel that these 
charms only acquired their potency through the sentiments of 
those upon whom they were exercised. Had she not again 
and again cast them forth as nets, only to haul them in at last 
without having entrapped the smallest fish ? 

Besides, in another way, her ambition had suffered a severe 
check. The mistress of the school at Mulligansville having 
fallen sick, Miss Dil worth took her place for a fortnight. Her 
first sense of triumph in having attained what she considered 
to be her true mission, even as the proxy of another, did not 
last long. For a day or two, the novelty of her appearance 
kept the school quiet ; but, one by one, the rude country chil- 
dren became familiar with her curls, with her soft green eyes, 
and her unauthoritative voice. They grinned in answer to her 
smile and met her frown with unconcealed derision ; they ate 
green apples before her very face ; pulled each other's hair or 
tickled each other under the arms ; drew pictures on their 
slates and upset the inkstands over their copy-books. The 
bigger boys and girls threw saucy notes at each other across 
the whole breadth of the school-room. They came to her with 
" sums" which she found herself unable to solve ; they read 
with loud, shrill voices and shocking pronunciation ; and when 
the hour for dismissal came, instead of retiring quietly, they 
sprang from their benches with frightful whooping and rushed 
tumultuously out of the house. The " beautiful humanity" of 
the occupation, which she had heard so extolled, burst like a 
painted bubble, leaving no trace ; the " moral suasion," on 
which she relied for maintaining discipline, failed her utterly ; 
the " reciprocal love" between teacher and pupil, which she 
fancied she would develop in the highest degree, resolved it- 
self into hideous contempt on the one side and repugnance on 



296 HANNAH THUESTOlSr: 

the other. She was finally indebted to one of the biggest and 
coarsest of the boys a fellow who almost made her tremble 
every time he came near her for sufficient help to prevent 
the school from falling into chaos before the fortnight came to 
an end. This boy, who was the bully of the school, and whose 
voice had a cracked hoarseness denoting the phase of develop- 
ment through which he was passing, was impressed with a 
vague respect for her curls and her complexion, and chivalrous- 
ly threw his influence, including his fists, on her side. It was 
not pleasant, however, to hear the older girls giggle and whis- 
per when he came : " There's the mistress's beau !" 

Bute, also, increased in value in proportion as he became 
inaccessible. She confessed to herself that no masculine eyes 
had ever looked at her with such honest tenderness as his : and 
they were handsome eyes, whatever his nose might be. She 
had always liked to hear his voice, too, in the old time: now 
it was no longer the same. It was changed to her, and she 
had not imagined that the change could make her so restless 
and unhappy. . Still, she did not admit to herself that she really 
loved him : their intercourse had had none of that sentimental 
poetic coloring that atmosphere of sighs, murmurs, thrills, and 
silent raptures which she fancied should accompany Love. 
He was even coarsely material enough to sneer at the idea of 
"kindred spirits !" Yet he loved her, for all that ; she felt it 
in his altered manner, as she had never felt it before. 

The unexpected shock of the news which Mr. Waldo com- 
municated to her was a sudden betrayal of herself. Had she 
possessed the least power of introversion, she would have been 
amazed at it. But her nature was not broad enough to em- 
brace more than a single sensation. The burst of tears and 
the impulse to offer her services came together, and all that 
she felt was: "If Bute dies, I shall be wretched." She con- 
tinued to repeat this to herself, on her way to the Widow 
Thurston's, adding : " I'll do my best to save him and his 
stepmother, and I don't care who knows it, and I don't care 
what they say." 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 29*7 

" "Why, what's the matter, child ?" exclaimed the widow, as 
Miss Dilworth walked into the sitting-room, erect, determined, 
and with a real expression on her usually vapid face. 

The latter explained her purpose, not without additional 
tears. " Nobody else would be likely to go," she said : " they 
would be afraid of catching the fever. But I'm not afraid : 
I've seen the like before : I may be of use, and I ought to be 
there now." 

The widow looked at her with a gentle scrutiny in her eyes, 
which made Miss Dilworth drop her lids for the first time and 
bring forward her curls from behind her ears. The glance 
changed to one of tender sympathy, and, checking a sigh which 
would have brought a memory with it, the old woman said : 

" I think thee's right." 

Thus encouraged, the necessary preparations were soon 
made, and in an hour from that time Miss Carrie Dilworth was 
at Lakeside. 

The negress, who knew her, received her with a mixture of 
rejoicing and grief: "Bress de Lord, honey!" she exclaimed; 
" things is goin' bad. I'se mighty glad you come. Somebody's 
got to see to 'um, all de time, an' de cookin' mus 1 be 'tended 
to, ye knows." 

Mrs. Babb, after a long sleep, was again awake, but in a 
state of physical prostration which prevented her from leaving 
her bed. Her anxiety lest Arbutus should not receive the 
proper care, aggravated her condition. She kept his medicines 
on a chair by her bedside, and demanded constant reports of 
him, which neither Patrick nor Melinda could give with suf- 
ficient exactness to satisfy her. 

Miss Dilworth, somewhat nervously, ascended the kitchen 
stairs and entered the housekeeper's room. But the sight of 
the haggard, bony face, the wild restlessness in the sunken 
eyes, and the thin gray hair streaming loosely from the queer, 
old-fashioned night-cap, restored her courage through the in- 
spiration of pity. She went forward with a quick, light step, 
and stooped down beside the bed. 
13* 



298 HANNAH THTJBSTON: 

" I have come to help, Mrs Babb," she said. 

" Help, eh ?" answered the housekeeper, in a weak, husky 
voice ; " well I've got to take any help that comes. Hard 
pushed, it seems. Thought you didn't keer about none of us. 
What are you good for, anyhow ?" 

"I've helped nurse before, Mrs. Babb. I'll 'do my best, if 
you'll let me try. Which medicine do you take ?" 

The housekeeper lay silent for a while, with her eyes on the 
sempstress's face. She was so weak that neither her first 
feeling of astonishment nor her second feeling of repugnance 
possessed a tithe of their usual force ; the sense of her own 
helplessness overpowered them both. " That bottle with the 
red stuff," she said at last. " A tea-spoonful every two hours. 
Three o'clock, next. Take keer !" she gasped, as Miss Dil- 
worth moved to the chair, " you'll knock every thing down 
with that hair o' yourn !" 

The medicines were at last carefully arranged on a small 
table, the tea-spoonful administered, the pillows shaken up and 
smoothed, and, the invalid having declared herself comfortable, 
Miss Dilworth slipped out of the room. When she returned, 
ten minutes afterwards, her hair was drawn over her temples 
in masses as smooth as its former condition would allow, and 
fastened in a knot behind. The change was nevertheless an 
advantageous one ; it gave her an air of sober womanhood 
which she had never before exhibited. The old woman 
noticed it at once, but said nothing. Her eyes continually 
wandered to the door, and she was growing restless. 

" Shall I go and see how he is ?" whispered Miss Carrie. 

A strong expression of dislike passed over the housekeeper's 
face. For a few minutes she did not speak ; then, as no one 
came, she finally groaned : " I can't go myself." 

Miss Carrie opened the door of Bute's room with a beating 
heart. The curtains were down, to keep out the afternoon 
sun, and a dim yellow light filled the chamber. The air was 
close, and impregnated with a pungent etherous smell. In an 
old arm-chair, near the bed, sat Patrick, dozing. But that 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 299 

shorn head, that pale, thin face,, and lean, hanging arm, did 
they really belong to Bute? jShe approached on tiptoe, 
holding her breath, and stood beside him. A rush of tender- 
ness, such as she had never felt towards any man, came over 
her. She longed to lay the wasted head on her bosom, and 
bring back color into the cheeks from the warmth of her own 
heart. He turned and muttered, with half-closed eyes, as if 
neither asleep nor awake, and even when she gently took the 
hand that lay on the coverlet, the listless fingers did not ac.- 
knowledge her touch. Once he looked full in her face, but 
vacantly, as if not even seeing her. 

A horrible fear came over her. " Is he worse ?" she whis- 
pered to the Irishman. 

"No, he's no wurrse, Miss maybe a bit better than he 
wur." 

" When must he have his medicine ?" 

" I've jist guv' it to him. He'll be quieter now. Could ye 
stay here and laive me go to the barrn for an hour, jist ?" 

Miss Carrie reported to the housekeeper, and then relieved 
Patrick. She noiselessly moved the arm-chair nearer the bed, 
seated herself, and took Bute's feverish hand in her own. 
From time to time she moistened his parched lips and cooled 
his throbbing temples. His restless movements ceased and he 
lay still, though in a state of torpor, apparently, rather than 
sleep. It was pitiful to see him thus, stripped of his lusty 
strength, his red blood faded, the strong fibres of his frame 
weak and lax, and the light of human intelligence gone from 
his eye. His helplessness and unconsciousness now, brought 
into strong relief the sturdy, homely qualities of his mind and 
heart: the solemn gulf between the two conditions disclosed 
his real value. Miss Dilworth felt this without thinking it, 
as she sat beside him, yearning, with all the power of her 
li mited nature, for one look of recognition, though it expressed 
no kindness for her ; one rational word, though it might not 
belong to the dialect of love. 

No such look, no such word, came. The hour slowly 



300 HANNAH THURSTON : 

dragged out its length ; Patrick came back and she returned 
to the housekeeper's room. The physician paid a second visit in 
the evening, expressed his satisfaction with her nursing, thus 
far, and intrusted her with the entire care of administering 
the medicines. He advised her, however, not to be wasteful 
of her strength at the outset, as the patients would not soon 
be able to dispense with careful watching. It was arranged 
that the old negress should occasionally relieve her at night. 
In regard to the invalids, he confessed that he had some hope 
o*f Bute's recovery; in a day or two the crisis of the fever 
would be over ; but Mrs. Babb, though her attack was much 
less violent, inspired him with solicitude. The apathetic con- 
dition of her system continued, in spite of all his efforts, and 
the strong will which might have upheld her, seemed to be 
suddenly broken. 

Miss piiworth fulfilled her duties with an astonishing 
patience and gentleness. Even the old housekeeper, no longer 
seeing the curls and drooping eyelids, or hearing the childish 
affectation of the voice, appeared to regard her as a different 
creature, and finally trusted the medicines implicitly to her 
care. On the day after her arrival, Bute, whose wan face and 
vacant eyes haunted her with a strange attraction, fell into 
a profound sleep. All that night he lay, apparently lifeless, 
but for the faint, noiseless breath that came from his parted 
lips. He could not be aroused to take his medicines. When 
this was reported to Mrs. Babb, she said, as sternly as her 
weakness would permit : " Let him alone ! It's the turnin' 
p'int; he'll either die or git well, now." 

This remark only increased Miss Dil worth's anxiety. Fifty 
cimes during the night she stole into his room, only to find 
him motionless, senseless as before. Patrick took advantage 
of the quiet to sleep, and snored loud and hard in his arm- 
chair. Once, moved by an impulse which she could not 
resist, she stooped down and kissed the sick man's forehead. 
The touch of her lips was light as a breath, but she rose, 
trembling and blushing at herself, and slipped out of the room. 



A STORY OP AMERICAN LIFE. 301 

44 Quiet nothing but quiet as long as he sleeps !" said the 
physician, next morning. Patrick was excluded from the 
room, because, although he pulled off his boots, there were 
two or three planks in the floor which creaked under his 
weight. Miss Dilworth silently laid a row of bed-room rugs 
from the door to the bedside, and went and came as if on 
down, over the enormous tufted roses. No sound entered the 
room but that of the summer wind in the boughs of the 
nearest elm. Hour after hour of the clouded August day 
went by, and still no change in the sleeper, unless an 
increased softness in his listless hand, as she cautiously 
touched it. 

Towards sunset, after a restless day, Mrs. Babb fell asleep, 
and Miss Dilworth went into Bute's room and seated herself 
in the chair. The prolonged slumber frightened her. "Oh," 
she said to herself, " what would I do if he was to die. I've 
treated him badly, and he would never know that I'm sorry 
for it never know that that I love him ! Yes, I know it 
now when it's too late. If he were well, he's done loving me 
as he used to but he won't get well : he'll die and leave me 
wretched !" 

As these words passed through her mind, while she leaned 
forward, with her face close to that of the invalid, she sud- 
denly noticed a change in his breathing. Its faint, regular 
character was interrupted : it ceased a moment, and then his 
breast heaved with a deeper inspiration. " Oh, he's dying !" 
she whispered to herself in despair. Stooping down, she 
kissed his forehead passionately, while her tears dropped fast 
upon it. His arm moved ; she rose, and met the glance of his 
open eyes clear, tender, happy, wondering, but not with the 
blank wonder of delirium. It was Bute's self that looked at her 
it was Bute's first, faithful love that first came to the surface 
from the very depth of his heart, before any later memory 
could thrust itself between. He had felt the kiss on his fore- 
head : his eyes drew her, she knew not how, to his lips. His 
right arm lifted itself to her neck and held the kiss a moment 



302 HANNAH THUKSTON: 

fast: then it slid back again, and she sank into the chair, 
covering her face with her hands, and weeping. 

After a while Bute's voice came to her weak and gentle, 
but with its natural tone. " Carrie," said he, " what is it ? 
What's happened?" 

"Oh, Bute," she answered, "you've been very sick: you've 
been out of your head. A.IK! Mrs. Babb's sick too, and I've 
come to take care of y a both. I thought you were going to 
die, Bute, and now you're going to get well, and I'm so glad 
so happy !" 

" Why are you glad, Carrie ? Why did you come ?" he 
asked, with ai\ echo of the old reproach in his voice. The 
memory of his disappointment had already returned. 

Nothing was further from Miss Dilworth's mind than a re- 
sort to her former arts. She was too profoundly and solemnly 
moved: she would tell the truth, as if it were her own dying 
hour. She took her hands from her face, lifted her head, and 
looked at him. " Because I have treated you badly, Bute," 
she said : " because I trifled with you wickedly. I wanted 
to make some atonement, and to hear you say you forgive 
me." 

She paused. His eyes were fixed on hers, but he did not 
answer. 

" Can you forgive me, Bute ?" she faltered. " Try to do it, 
because I love you, though I don't expect you to love me any 
more." 

"Carrie!" he cried. A new tint came to his face, a new 
light to his eye. His hand wandered towards her on the 
coverlet. 

" Carrie," he repeated, feebly grasping her hand with his 
fingers and drawing her towards him, " once't more, now /" In 
the kiss that followed there was forgiveness, answering love, 
and a mutual compact for the future. 

"You've brought me back ag'in to life," he murmured, 
closing his eyes, while two bright tears crept out from under 
the lids. She sat beside him, holding his hand. He seemed 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 303 

too weak to -say more, and thus ten minutes silently passed 
away. 

" Tell me how it happened," said Bute, finally. " Where's 
Mother Forty?" 

" I must go to her at once !" cried Miss Dilworth, starting 
up. "She's worrying herself to death on your account. And 
the doctor said if you got awake you were to keep quiet, and 
not talk. I must go, Bute : do lie still and try to sleep till 
I come back. Oh, we oughtn't to have said any thing !" 

" What we've said won't do me no harm," he murmured, 
with a patient, happy sigh. " Go, then, Carrie : I'll keep 
quiet." 

Miss Dilworth went into the housekeeper's room so much 
more swiftly than usual that the latter was awakened by the 
rustling of her dress. She started and turned her head with 
a look of terror in her eyes. 

"Oh, Mrs. Babb!" cried the sempstress: "Bute's awake 
at last. And his mind's come back to him ! And he says he'll 
get well !" 

The old woman trembled visibly. Her bony hands were 
clasped under the bed-clothes and- her lips moved, but no 
audible words came from them. Then, fixing her eyes on the 
face of the kneeling girl, she asked : " What have you been 
a-sayin' to him ?" 

Miss Dilworth involuntarily drooped her lids and a deep 
color came into her face. " I asked him," she answered, " to 
forgive me for my bad behavior towards him." 

"Nothin'else?" 

" Yes, Mrs. Babb, I said he could do it now, because I love 
him." 

" You do, do ye ?" 

" Yes, and he has forgiven me." 

"Hnh!" 

With this, her customary snort, when she was not prepared 
to express a decided opinion, the housekeeper closed her eyes 
and seemed to meditate. Presently, however, she turned her 



304 HANNAH THUESTON: 

head, and said, rather sternly, though without any signs of 
bitterness : 

" Go 'way now, gal ! I want to be alone a spell." 

Miss Dilworth obeyed. When she. returned, at the time 
appointed for administering the medicine, Mrs. Babb had re- 
sumed her state of passive patience. She made no further 
inquiries about the conversation which had taken place, nor 
about any which took place afterwards. A change had come 
over her whole nature. She lay for hours, with her eyes open, 
without speaking, evidently without suffering, yet keenly 
alive to every thing that took place. She took her medicines 
mechanically, with an air of listless obedience to the orders of 
the physician, and without any apparent result. Stimulants 
and sedatives alike failed to produce their customary effect. 
From day to day she grew weaker, and the physician finally 
declared that, unless she could be roused and stirred in some 
way, to arrest the increasing prostration, he could do nothing 
for her. As the knowledge of the favorable change in Bute's 
case had left her as before, there was little hope that any 
further source of excitement remained. 

As for Bute, he rallied with a rapidity which amazed the 
physician, who ascribed to an unusual vitality of his own the 
life which the invalid had really drawn from another. The 
only difficulty now was, to retard his impatient convalescence, 
and Miss Dilworth was obliged to anticipate her conjugal au- 
thority and enjoin silence when he had still a thousand happy 
questions left unasked and unanswered. When that authority 
failed, she was forced to absent herself from the room, on the 
plea of watching Mrs. Babb. His impatience, in such case, 
was almost as detrimental as his loquacity, and the little 
sempstress was never .at ease except when he slept. 

After passing a certain stage in the fever, the housekeeper 
began to sink rapidly. Her mind, nevertheless, made feeble 
efforts to retain its ascendency efforts which reacted on her 
body and completed the ruin of its faculties. One day she as- 
tonished Miss Dilworth by rising in her bed with a violent effort. 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 305 

"I must go and see him!" she said: "help me into his? 



room !" 

" Oh, you cannot !" cried Miss Dilworth, supporting her 
with one arm around her waist. "Lie down: you are not 
strong enough. He will be able to come to you in a day or 
two." 

" ]STo, no ! to-day!" gasped the housekeeper. "la'n't cer- 
tain o' knowin' him to-morrow, or o' bein' able to say to 
him what I've got to say." Thereupon her temporary 
strength gave way, and she sank down on the bed in a faint- 
ing state. 

After she had somewhat revived, Miss Dilworth took coun- 
sel with herself, and soon came to a decision. She went down 
stairs and summoned Patrick, who carefully wrapped up Bute 
and placed him in the arm-chair. She herself then assisted in 
carrying him into the housekeeper's room, and placing him by 
the bedside. A look of unspeakable fondness came over Mrs. 
Babb's haggard face ; the tears silently flowed from her eyes 
and rolled down the wrinkles in her hollow cheeks. 

" Cheer up, Mother Forty," said Bute, who was the first to 
speak. " I'm gittin' on famous' and '11 soon be round again." 

"It's as it should be, Arbutus," she whispered, hoarsely, 
catching her breath between the words; "the old 'un '11 go 
and the young 'un '11 stay. 'T had to be one of us." 

" Don't say that ; we'll take care of you Carrie and me. 
Won't we, Carrie ?" 

" Yes, Bute," said Carrie, with her handkerchief to her 
eyes. 

Mrs. Babb looked from one to another, but without any 
sign of reproof. She feebly shook her head. " What must be 
must," said she; "my time's come. P'raps I sha'n't see you 
no more, Arbutus. Maybe I ha'n't done my duty by you 
always ; maybe I've seemed hard, once't and a while, but I 
meant it for your good, and I don't want you to have any hard 
thoughts ag'in me when I'm gone." 

" Mother Forty !" cried Bute, his eyes filling and overflow- 



306 HANNAH THUESTON: 

ing, " God knows I ha'n't nothin' ag'in you ! You've been 
as good to me as you knowed how ; it's me that's been rough, 
and forgitful o' how you took care o' me when I was a little 
boy. Don't talk that a-way now, don't !" 

" Do you really mean it, Arbutus ? Do you forgive me my 
trespasses, as I forgive them that trespass agi'n me ? Can I go 
to Jason and say I've done my duty by you ?" 

Bute could not answer : he was crying like a child. He 
slid forward in the chair. Miss Dilworth put her arm around 
his waist to steady him, and they sank down together on their 
knees beside the bed. Bute's head fell forward on the coverlet. 
The housekeeper placed both her hands upon it. 

" Take my blessin', child !" she said, in a feebler voice. 
" You've been a good boy, Arbutus. I'll tell her, and I'll tell 
your mother. Maybe I'll have a seat betwixt her and Jason. 
All I have'll be yourn. But you mustn't stay here : say good- 
by to me and go." 

" Will you bless me, with him ?" faltered Miss Carrie. 

The left hand slowly moved to her head, and rested there. 
" Be a good wife to him when the time comes, and I'll bless 
you always. There a'n't many like him, and I hope you 
know it." 

" I do know it," she sobbed ; " there's nobody like him." 

" I want you to leave the money where it is," said the 
housekeeper, " and only draw* the interest. You'll have an 
easier time of it in your old days than what I've had ; but I 
don't begrudge it to you. It's time you were goin' say 
good-by, child!" 

The sempstress, small as she was, lifted Bute until his foster- 
mother could catch and hold his head to her bosom. Then, 
for the first time in his remembrance, she kissed him, once, 
twice, not with any violent outburst of feeling, but with a 
tender gravity as if it were a necessary duty, the omission of 
which would not be agreeable to Jason Babb. Then she 
turned over on the pillow, saying " Amen !" and was silent. 
Patrick was summoned and Bute was speedily replaced in his 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 307 

own bed, where Miss Dilworth left him to resume her place 
by the housekeeper's side. 

But that same night, about midnight, Mrs. Babb died. 
She scarcely spoke again after her interview with Bute, except 
to ask, two hours later, whether he seemed to be any the 
worse on account of it. On being told that he was sleeping 
quietly, she nodded her head, straightened her gaunt form as 
well as she was able, and clasped her fingers together over her 
breast. Thus she lay, as if already dead, her strong eyebrows, 
her hooked nose, and her sharp chin marking themselves with 
ghastly distinctness as the cheeks grew more hollow and the 
closed eyes sank deeper in their sockets. Towards midnight a 
change in her breathing alarmed Miss Dilworth. She hastily 
called the old negress, who was sleeping on the kitchen settee. 

" Honey," said the latter, in an awe-struck whisper, as she 
stood by the bedside, " she's a-goin' fast. She soon see de 
glory. Don't you wish fur her to stay, 'case dat'll interfere 
wid her goin'." 

Her breath grew fainter, and came at longer intervals, but 
the moment when it ceased passed unnoticed by either of the 
watchers. Melinda first recognized the presence of Death. 
" You go an' lay down," she said to Miss Carrie. " You can't 
do no good now. I'll stay wid her till mornin'." 

The sempstress obeyed, for she was, in truth, wretchedly 
weary. For the remainder of the night Melinda sat on a low 
chair beside the corpse, swinging her body backwards and 
forwards as she crooned, in a low voice : 

" De streets is paved wid gold, 
Ober on de udder shore." 



308 HANiYAH THURSTOX: 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

VAKIOTTS CHANGES, BUT LITTLE PROGRESS IN THE STOUT. 

As soon as the news of Mrs. Babb's death became known, 
the neighbors hastened to Lakeside to offer their help. The 
necessary arrangements for the funeral were quietly and 
speedily made, and, on the second day afterwards, the body of 
the housekeeper was laid beside that of Jason Babb, in the 
Presbyterian churchyard at Ptolemy, where he had been 
slumbering for the last twenty-three years. The attendance 
was very large, for all the farmers' wives in the valley had 
known Mrs. Babb, and still held her receipts for cakes, pre- 
serves, and pickles in high esteem. The Reverends Styles 
and Waldo made appropriate remarks and prayers at the 
grave, so that no token of respect was wanting. All the 
neighbors said, as they drove homewards, " The funeral was a 
credit to her." Her spirit must have smiled in stern satisfac- 
tion, even from its place by Jason's side, and at the feet of 
Mrs. Dennison, as it looked down and saw that her last un- 
conscious appearance among mortals was a success. 

Miss Dilworth took counsel of her friends, Hannah Thurston 
and Mrs. Waldo, on the day of the funeral. She confessed to 
them, with returning misgivings, what had taken place be- 
tween Bute Wilson and herself, and was a little surprised at 
the hearty gratification which they both expressed. 

"How glad I am!" cried Mrs. Waldo; "it is the very 
thing !" 

" Yes," said Hannah Thurston, in her grave, deliberate man- 
ner, " I think you have made a good choice, Carrie." 



A STOEY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 309 

If any spark of Miss Caroline Dilworth's old ambition still 
burned among the ashes of her dreams, it was extinguished at 
that moment. The prophets of reform were thenceforth dead 
to her. She even took a consolation in thinking that if her 
wish had been fulfilled, her future position might have had its 
embarrassments. She might have been expected to sympa- 
thize with ideas which she did not comprehend to make use 
of new shibboleths before she had learned to pronounce them 
to counterfeit an intelligent appreciation when most con- 
scious of her own incompetency. Now, she would be at ease. 
Bu{f would never discover any deficiency in her. She spoke 
better English and used finer words than he 'did, and if she 
made a mistake now and then, he wouldn't even notice it. 
With the disappearance of her curls her whole manner had 
become more simple and natural. Her little affectations broke 
out now and then, it is true, but they had already ceased to be 
used as baits to secure a sentimental interest. There was even 
hope that her attachment to Bute would be the means of de- 
veloping her somewhat slender stock of common-sense. 

" Bute says we must be married as soon as he gets well," 
she said : " he won't wait any longer. Is there any harm in 
my staying here and taking care of him until he's entirely out 
of danger ?" 

Mrs. Waldo reflected a moment. "Certainly none until 
Mr. Woodbury returns," she said. "Mr. Waldo has answered 
his letter to Bute, which came this morning. If he leaves 
Saratoga at once, he will be here in three or four days. The 
doctor says you are an admirable nurse, and that is reason 
enough why you should not leave at present." 

"The other reason ought to be enough," said Hannah 
Thurston. "She owes a wife's duty towards him now, when 
he needs help which she can give. I am sure Mr. Woodbury 
will see it in the same light. He is noble and honorable." 

"Why, Hannah!" cried Mrs. Waldo, "I thought you and 
he were as far apart as the opposite poles !" 

" Perhaps we are, in our views of certain subjects," was the 



310 HANNAH THUKSTON : 

quiet reply. " I can, nevertheless, properly estimate his char 
acter as a man." 

Mrs. Waldo suppressed a sigh. " If you could only esti- 
mate your own true character as a woman !" she thought. 

Miss Dilworth's duties were now materially lightened. The 
danger of further contagion had passed, and some one of the 
neighbors came every day to assist her. Bute only required 
stimulating medicines, and the usual care to prevent a relapse, 
of which there seemed to be no danger. He began to recover 
his healthful sleep at night, and his nurse was thus enabled to 
keep up her strength by regular periods of rest. Once or 
twice a day she allowed him to talk, so long as there was no 
appearance of excitement or fatigue. These half hours were 
the happiest Bute had ever known. To the delicious languor 
and peace of convalescence, was added the active, ever-renewed 
bliss of his restored love, and the promises which it whispered. 
He delighted to call Miss Carrie, in anticipation, " Little 
wife !" pausing, each time he did so, to look for the blush 
which was sure to come, and the smile on the short red lips, 
which was the sweetest that ever visited a woman's face. Of 
course it Avas. 

One day, nevertheless, as he lay looking at her, and think- 
ing how much more steady and sensible she seemed since her 
curls were gathered up how much more beautiful the ripples 
of light brown hair upon her temples a cloud came over his 
face. "Carrie," he said, "there's one thought worries me, and 
I want you to put it straight, if you can. S'pose I hadn't got 
sick, s'pose I hadn't lost my senses, would you ever ha' come 
to your'n ?" 

She was visibly embarrassed, but presently a flitting roguish 
expression passed over her face, and she answered: "Would 
you have given me a chance to do it, Bute?" 

" Likely not," said he. " You spoke plain enough last win- 
ter, and 't wasn't for me to say the first word, after that. 
When a man's burnt his fingers once't, he keeps away from 
the fire. But I want to know why you come to take keer o' 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 311 

mo and Mother Forty. Was it only because you were sorry, 
and wanted to pay me for my disapp'intment in that way? 
Can you lay your hand on your heart and say there was any 
thing more ?" 

Miss Carrie immediately laid her hand on her heart. " Yes, 
Bute," she said, " there was something more. I was begin- 
ning to find it out, before, but when I heard you were so bad, 
it came all at once." 

"Look here, Carrie," said Bute, still very earnestly, although 
the cloud was beginning to pass away, "some men have hearts 
like shuttlecocks, banged back and forth from one gal to an- 
other, and none the wuss of it. But I a'n't one of 'em. When- 
ever I talk serious, I 'xpect to be answered serious. I believe 
what you say to me. I believed it a'ready, but I wanted to be 
double sure. You and me have got to live together as man 
and wife. 'T won't be all skylarkin' : we've got to work, and 
help one another, and take keer o' others besides, if things goes 
right. What'll pass in a gal, won't pass in a married woman : 
you must get shut o' your coquettin' ways. I see you've took 
the trap out o' your hair, and now you must take it out o' your 
eyes. 'Ta'n't that it'll mean any thing any more if I thought 
it did, I'd feel like Jdllin' you but it won't look right." 

"You mustn't mind my foolishness, Bute," she answered, 
penitently, " and you mustn't think of Seth Wattles !" 

"Seth be con-sarrid /" Bute exclaimed. "When I see you 
pickin' up dead frogs, I'll believe you like to shake hands with 
Seth ! I've got agreeabler thoughts than to have him in ray 
head. Well I don't bear no grudge ag'in him now ; but I 
can't like him." 

"I don't like him either. Fancy such a fellow as he think- 
ing himself good enough for Hannah Thurston ! There's no 
man good enough for her !" 

" Like enough she thinks herself too good for any man,' 
Bute remarked. " But them a'n't the women, Carrie, that a 
man wants to marry. It'll be a lucky woman that gits Mr. 
Max/' 



312 HANNAH THUKSTON : 

"Oh, I must go and see to Mr. Woodbury' s room!" cried 
Miss Dilworth, starting up. " Perhaps he'll come this very 
day. Then I suppose I must go away, Bute." 

"I hope not, Carrie. I wouldn't mind bein' a bit sicker for 
a day or two, o' purpose to keep you here. What! are you 
goin' away in that fashion, Little Wife ?" 

Miss Dilworth darted back to the bedside, stooped down, 
like a humming-bird presenting its bill to a rather large flow- 
er, and was about to shoot off again, when Bute caught her by 
the neck and substituted a broad, firm kiss, full of consistency 
and flavor, for the little sip she had given him. 

" That's comfortin'," said he. " I thank the Lord my mouth 
a'n't as little as your'n." 

Before night, Mr. Woodbury arrived, having taken a carriage 
at Tiberi us and driven rapidly over the hills. Mr. Waldo's letter, 
announcing Bute's dangerous condition and Mrs. Babb's death, 
had greatly startled and shocked him. His summer tour was 
nearly at an end, and he at once determined to return to Lake- 
side for the autumn and winter. He was not surprised to. find 
his household in charge of Miss Dilworth, for the news had 
already been communicated to him. She met him at the door, 
blushing and slightly embarrassed, for she scarcely felt herself 
entitled to be ranked among his acquaintances, and the calm 
reserve of his usual manner had always overawed her. 

" I am very glad to find you still here, Miss Dilworth," he 
said, pressing her hand warmly; "how can I repay you for 
your courage and kindness? Bute ?" 

" He is much better, Sir. He is expecting you : will you 
walk up and see him ?" 

" Immediately. I suppose I ought not to carry all this dust 
with me. I will go to my room first." 

" It is ready, Sir," said Miss Dilworth. " Let me have your 
coat." 

Before Woodbury had finished washing his face and hands, 
and brushing the white dust of the highway out of his hair, 
there was a light tap on the door. He opened it and beheld 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 813 

his coat, neatly dusted and folded, confronting him on the back 
of a chair. Bute's room he found in the most perfect order. 
The weather had been warm, dry, and still, and the window 
furthest from the bed was open. The invalid lay, propped up 
with two extra pillows, awaiting him. Woodbury was at first 
shocked by his pale, wasted face, to which the close-cut hair 
gave a strange, ascetic character. His eyes were sunken, but 
still bright and cheerful, and two pale-blue sparks danced in 
them as he turned his head to wards *the door. 

" Bute, my poor fellow, how are you ? I did not dream this 
would have happened," said Woodbury, taking the large, 
spare hand stretched towards him. 

u Oh, I'm doin' well now, Mr. Max. 'Twas queer how it 
come all 't once't, without any warnin'. I knowed nothin' 
about it till I was past the danger." 

*'And Mrs. Babb was she sick long? Did she suffer 
much ?" 

" I don't think she suffered at all : she was never out of her 
head. She seemed to give up at the start, I'm. told, and all 
the medicines she took was no use. She jist made up her mind 
to die, and she always had a strong will, you know, Mr. Max." 
Bute said this quietly and seriously, without the least thought 
of treating the memory of his foster-mother lightly. 

" She had a good nurse, at least," said Woodbury, " and you 
seem to be equally fortunate." 

"Well, I guess I am," answered Bute, his face on a broad 
grin, and with more color in it than he had shown for many 
days. "I've had the best o' nussin', Mr. Max. Not but 
what Pat and Mr. MerrySeld was as kind as they could be 
'twasn't the same thing. And I may as well out with it 
plump : there's no nuss quite ek'l to a man's own wife." 

"Wife!" exclaimed Woodbury, in amazement. 

" Well no not jist yit," stammered Bute ; "but she will 
be as soon as I git well enough to marry. I'd been hankerin' 
after her for these two years, Mr. Max., but it mightri't ha* 
come to nothin' if I hadn't got sick." 
14 



314 HANNAH THTJBSTON: 

" You mean Miss Dil worth, of course ?" 

Bute nodded his head. 

" You astonish me, Bute. I scarcely know her at all, but I 
think you have too much good sense to make a mistake. I 
wish you joy, with all my heart ; and yet" he continued in a 
graver tone, taking Bute's hand, " I shall be almost sorry for 
it, if this marriage should deprive me of your services on the 
farm." 

" How ?" cried Bute, instantly recovering his former pale- 
ness, " do you mean, Mr. Max., that you wouldn't want me 
afterwards ?" 

" No, no, Bute ! On the contrary, I should be glad to see 
you settled and contented. But it is natural, now, that you 
should wish to have a farm of your own, and as Mrs. Babb's 
legacy will enable you to buy a small one, I thought " 

"Bless you, Mr. Max.!" interrnpted Bute, "it would be a 
small one. What's a few hundred dollars ? I've no notion o' 
goin' into farmin' on a ten-acre lot." 

" Mr. Waldo tells me that her property amounts to about 
twenty-seven hundred dollars." 

" Twenty seven hundred!" and Bute feebly tried to 
whistle. " Well Mother Forty always was a cute 'un who'd 
ha' thought it ? And she's left it all to me she keered a 
mighty sight more for me than she let on." Here something 
rose in his throat and stopped his voice for a moment. " I'll 
do her biddin' by it, that I will !" he resumed. " I shall leave 
it out at interest, and not touch a cent of the capital. Time 
enough for my children to draw that. Oh, Mr. Max., now the 
Lord may jist send as many youngsters to me and Carrie, as 
He pleases !" 

A dim sensation, like the memory of a conquered sorrow, 
weighed upon Woodbury's heart for an instant, and passed 
away. 

" I know when I'm well off," Bute went on. " I'm content- 
ed to stay as I am: every thing on the farm the horses, th' 
oxen, the pigs, the fences, the apple-trees, the timber-land 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 315 

seems to me as much mine as it is your'n. If I had a farm o' 
my own, it'd seem strange like, as if it belonged to somebody 
else. I've got the hang of every field here, and know jist what 
it'll bring. I want to make a good livin' : I don't deny that ; 
but if I hold on to what I've got now, and don't run no resks, 
and put out th' interest ag'in every year, it'll roll up jist about 
as fast and a darned sight surer, than if I was to set up for my- 
self. If you're willin', Mr. Max., we can fix it somehow. If 
the tenant-house on the 'j^acreon road was patched up a little, 
it'd do for the beginnin'." 

" We can arrange it together, Bute," said Woodbury, rising. 
"Now you have talked long enough, and must rest. I will 
see you again before I go to bed." 

As Miss Dilworth, at his request, took her seat at the table 
and poured out the tea, Woodbury looked at her with a new 
interest. He had scarcely noticed her on previous occasions, and 
hence there was no first impression to be removed. It seemed 
to him, indeed, as if he saw her for the first time now. The 
ripples in her hair caught the light ; her complexion was un- 
usually fair and fresh ; the soft green of her eyes became 
almost brown under the long lashes, and the mouth was infan- 
tine in shape and color. A trifle of affectation in her manner 
did not disharmonize with such a face ; it was natural to her, 
and would have been all the same, had she beer,: eighty years 
old instead of twenty-six. With this affectation, however, 
were combined two very useful qualities a most scrupulous 
neatness and an active sense of order. " Upon my soul, it is 
Lisette herself," said Woodbury to himself, as he furtively 
watched her airs and movements. Who would have expected 
to fiiid so many characteristics of the Parisian grisette in one 
of our staid American communities ? And how astonishing, 
could he have known it, her ambitious assumption of Hannah 
Thurston's views ! It was a helmet of Pallas, which not only 
covered her brow, but fell forward over her saucy retrousse 
nose, and weighed her slender body half-way to the earth. 

She felt his scrutiny, and performed her tea-table duties with 



316 HANNAH THURSTOX I 

two spots of bright coior in her cheeks. Woodbury knew 
that she suspected what Bute's principal communication to 
him had been, and, with his usual straightforward way of 
meeting a delicate subject, decided to speak to her at once. 
She gave a little start of confusion not entirely natural as 
he commenced, but his manner was so serious, frank, and re- 
spectful, that she soon felt ashamed of herself and was drawn, 
to her own surprise, to answer him candidly and naturally. 

"Bute has told me, Miss Dilworth," said he, "of your 
mutual understanding. I am very glad of it, for his sake. 
He is an honest and faithful fellow, and deserves to be happy. 
I think he is right, also, in not unnecessarily postponing the 
time, though perhaps I. should not think so, if his marriage 
were to deprive me of his services. But he prefers to con- 
tinue to take charge of Lakeside, rather than buy or lease a 
farm for himself. I hope you are satisfied with his decision ?" 

" Yes, Mr. Woodbury," she answered : " I should not like 
to leave this neighborhood. I have no relatives in the country, 
except an aunt in Tiberius. My brother went to Iowa five 
years ago." 

" Bute must have a home," Woodbury continued. " He 
spoke of my tenant-house, but besides being old and ruinous, 
it is not well situated, either for its inmates, or for the needs 
of the farm. I had already thought of tearing it down, and 
building a cottage on the knoll, near the end of the lane. 
But that would take time, and 

" Oh, we can wait, Mr. Woodbury !" 

He smiled. " I doubt whether Bute would be as ready to 
wait as you, Miss Dilworth. I am afraid if I were to propose 
it, he would leave me at once. No, we must make some 
other arrangement in the mean time. I have been turning the 
matter over in my mind and have a proposition to make to 
you." 

" To me !" 

" Yes. Mrs. Babb's death leaves me without a housekeeper. 
My habits are very simple, the household is small, and I see 



A STOEY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 317 

already that you are capable of doing all that will be required. 
Of course you will have whatever help you need ; I ask no- 
thing more than a general superintendence of my domestic 
affairs until your new home is ready. If you have no ob- 
jection of your own to make, will you please mention it to 
Bute?" 

" Bute will be so pleased !" she cried. " Only, Mr. Wood- 
bury, if it isn't more than I am capable of doing ? If I'm 
able to give you satisfaction !" 

" I shall be sure of your wish to do so, Miss Dilworth," 
said Woodbury, rising from the table ; " and I have the far- 
ther guarantee that you will have Bute to please, as well as 
myself." 

He went into the library and lighted a cigar. "Lucky 
fellow !" he said to himself, with a sigh. " He makes no in- 
tellectual requirements from his wife, and he has no trouble in 
picking up a nice little creature who is no doubt perfection in 
his eyes, and who will be faithful to him all his days. If she 
doesn't know major from minor ; if she confuses tenses and 
doubles negatives; if she eats peas with her knife, and trims 
her bonnet with colors at open war with each other ; if she 
nevnr heard of Shakespeare, and takes Petrarch to be the name 
of a mineral what does he care ? She makes him a tidy 
home ; she understands and soothes his simple troubles ; she 
warms his lonely bed, and suckles the vigorous infants that 
spring from his loins ; she gives an object to his labor, a con- 
tented basis to his life, and a prospect of familiar society in 
the world beyond the grave. Simple as this relation of the 
sexes is for him, he feels its sanctity no less than I. His es- 
pousals are no less chaste ; his wedded honor is as dear, his 
paternal joys as pure. My nature claims all this from woman, 
but, alas ! it claims more. The cultivated intelligence comes 
in to question and criticize the movements of the heart. Here, 
on one side, is goodness, tenderness, fidelity ; on the other, 
grace, beauty, refinement, intellect both needs must be ful- 
filled. How shall I ever reach this double marriage, except 



318 HANNAH THUKSTON : 

through a blind chance ? Yet here is one woman in whom it 
wVild be nearly fulfilled, and a strange delusion into which 
she has fallen warns me to think of her no more !" 

The conscious thread of his thoughts broke off, and they 
loosened themselves into formless reverie. As he rose to re- 
visit Bute's chamber, he paused a moment, thinking : " That 
I can analyze her nature thus deliberately, is a proof that I do 
not love her." 

Bute was delighted with the new arrangement which Wood- 
bury had proposed to Miss Dilworth. The latter would leave 
in a few days, he said, and spend the subsequent two or three 
weeks before the wedding could take place, at the Widow 
Thurston's. 

"After 'it's all over, Mr. Max.," said Bute, "she shall stay 
here and tend to the house jist as long as you want ; but 
you won't mind my savin' it, will you? there's only one 
right kind of a housekeeper for you, and I hope you won't be 
too long a-findin' her." 



A STOKT OF AMEBICAN LIFE. 319 



CHAPTER XXV. 

IN WHICH HANNAH THTJRSTON MAKES A NEW ACQUAINTANCE. 

IN another week, Bute was able to dispense with the grate- 
ful nursing which had more than reconciled him to the con- 
finement of his sick-room. He required no attendance at 
night, and was able to sit, comfortably pillowed, for a great 
part of the day. He consumed enormous quantities of chicken- 
broth, and drank immoderately of Old Port and Albany Ale. 
Miss Dil worth, therefore, made preparations to leave : she was 
now obliged to sew for herself, and a proper obedience to cus- 
tom required that she should not remain at Lakeside during 
the last fortnight of her betrothal. 

On the morning of her departure, Woodbury called her 
into the library. " You have done me a great service, Miss 
Dilworth," said he, " and I hope you will allow me to acknowl- 
edge it by furnishing you with one article which I know will 
have to be provided." With these words he opened a paper 
parcel and displayed a folded silk, of the most charming tint 
of silver-gray. 

The little sempstress looked at it in speechless ecstasy. 
"It's heavenly !" she at last cried, clasping her hands. " I'm 
obliged to you a thousand times, Mr. Woodbury. It's too 
much, indeed it is !" 

" Bute won't think so," he suggested. 

She snatched the parcel, and darted up-stairs in three 
bounds. " Oh, Bute !" she cried, bursting into his room, " only 
look at this ! It's my wedding-dress ! And he's just given it 
to me I" 



820 HANNAH THURSTON .* 

" It's the prettiest thing I ever laid my eyes on," said Bute, 
looking at the silk reverently but not daring to touch it 
"That's jist like Mr. Max. what did I always tell you about 
him ?" 

After Miss Dilworth's departure, the housekeeping was 
conducted, somewhat indifferently, by the old negress. She 
had, however, the one merit of being an admirable cook, and 
Woodbury might have managed to live with her assistance, 
for a fortnight, but for one awkward circumstance. He re- 
ceived a letter from Mrs. Blake, saying that her husband had 
completed his business in the East and they were preparing 
to leave Saratoga. Would it be still convenient for him to 
entertain them for a few days at Lakeside, on their return to 
St. Louis? If the illness in his household, which had called 
him home so suddenly, still continued, they would, of course, 
forego the expected pleasure ; but if not, they would be the 
more delighted to visit him, as it was probable they would 
not come to the East the following summer. Would he 
answer the letter at once, as they were nearly ready to leave ? 

Woodbury was uncertain what to' do in this emergency. 
There was no longer the slightest fear of contagion, and he 
particularly desired the offered visit ; but how could he enter- 
tain his friends without a housekeeper ? He finally decided 
that it must be arranged, somehow ; wrote an affirmative an- 
swer, and rode into Ptolemy to post it without delay, first 
calling at the Cimmerian Parsonage to ask the advice of a 
sensible female friend. 

" You see," said he, after stating the dilemma to Mrs. Wal- 
do, " now that my tyrant has gone, I wish her back again. A 
despotism is better than no government at all." 

" Ah, but a republic is better than a despotism !" she replied. 
" Do you take my meaning ? I'm not certain, after all, that 
the figure is quite correct, But the thing is to find a tempo- 
rary housekeeper. I know of no single disengaged woman in 
Ptolemy, unless it is Miss Ruhaney Goodwin, and her mourn- 
ful countenance and habit of sighing, would be very discour- 



A STOEY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 321 

aging to your guests, even if she were willing to go. Mrs. Bue 
is a complete intelligence office for Ptolemy servants. Your 
only chance is to see her." 

" And if that fails ?" 

" Then there is no hope. I shall be vexed, for I want to see 
this Mrs. Blake. If it were not for taking care of my good 
husband, I should myself be willing to act as mistress of Lake- 
side for a few days." 

" I knew you would be able to kelp me !" cried Woodbury, 
joyfully. "Let me add Mr. Waldo to the number of my 
guests. I shall be delighted to have him, and the change may 
be refreshing to him. Besides, you will have us all at the 
Cimmerian Church, if the Blakes remain over a Sunday." 

" You are mistaken, if you supposed that any thing of the 
kind was in my thoughts," said Mrs. Waldo. " But the pro- 
posal sounds very pleasantly. I am sure we both should enjoy 
it very much, but I cannot accept, you know, before consulting 
with my husband." 

" Leave Mr. Waldo to me." 

The matter was very easily arranged. The clergyman, faith- 
ful to the promise of his teeth, appreciated a generous diet. 
His own table was oftentimes sparely supplied, and he was 
conscious of a gastric craving which gave him discouraging 
views of life. There was no likelihood of any immediate birth 
or death in his congregation, and it was not the season of the 
year when members were usually assailed by doubts and given 
to backsliding. More fortunate clergymen went to the water- 
ing places, or even to Europe, to rest their exhausted lungs ; 
why should he not go to Lakeside for a week ? They had no 
servant, and could shut up the parsonage during their absence : 
but the old horse ? 

" Wife, we must get somebody to look after Dobbin," he 
said, thoughtfully. 

" Bring Dobbin along," Woodbury laughed, " my old Dick 
will be glad to see him." 

Although neither he nor the Waldos were aware that they 
4* 



322 HANNAH THUESTON : 

had spoken to any one on the subject, the arrangement that 
had been made was whispered to everybody in Ptolemy be- 
fore twenty-four hours were over. Nothing was known of 
the Blakes, except that they were "fashionable," and those 
who would have been delighted to be in the place of the poor 
clergyman and his wife, expressed their astonishment at the 
conduct of the latter. 

" It's what I call very open communion," said the Rev. Mr. 
Pinchman, of the Campbellite Church. 

Miss Ruhaney Goodwin heaved three of her most mournful 
sighs, in succession, but said nothing. 

" Merry-makings so soon after a death in the house," re- 
marked Mrs. Hamilton Bue : " it's quite shocking to think of." 

" Our friend is getting very select," said the Hon. Zeno 
Harder, in his most pompous manner, thereby implying that 
he should not have been overlooked. 

Mr. Grindle, of course, improved the opportunity on every 
possible occasion, and before the Blakes had been two days 
at Lakeside, it was reported, in temperance circles, that they 
had already consumed one hundred dollars' worth of wine. 

Had these rumors been known to the pleasant little com- 
munity of Lakeside, they would have added an additional 
hilarity to the genial atmosphere which pervaded the house. 
But it was quite removed from the clatter of the village gos- 
sip, and by the time such news had gone its rounds, and been 
conveyed to the victim by sympathizing friends, the occasion 
which gave rise to it had entirely passed away. In our small 
country communities, nothing is so much resented as* an indi- 
rect assumption of social independence. A deviation from the 
prevailing habits of domestic life a disregard for prevailing 
prejudices, however temporary and absurd they may be a 
visit from strangers who excite curiosity and are not made com- 
mon social property : each of these circumstances is felt as an 
act of injustice, and constitutes a legitimate excuse for assault. 
Since the railroad had reached Tiberius, and the steamer on 
Atauga Lake began to bring summer visitors to Ptolemy, 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 323 

this species of despotism had somewhat relaxed, but it now 
and then flamed up with the old intensity, and Woodbury 
was too cosmopolitan in his nature not to provoke its ex- 
ercise. 

Mr. and Mrs. Waldo reached Lakeside the day before the 
arrival of the Blakes, and the latter took immediate and easy 
possession of her temporary authority. In addition to Me- 
linda, than whom no better cook, in a limited sphere of dishes, 
could have been desired, Woodbury had hit upon the singular 
expedient of borrowing a chamber-maid from the Ptolemy 
House. Mrs. Waldo's task was thus rendered light and 
agreeable no more, in fact, than she would have voluntarily 
assumed in any household rather than be idle. It was more 
than a capacity it was almost a necessity of her nature, to 
manage something or direct somebody. In the minor details 
her sense of order may have been deficient ; but in regulating 
departments and in general duties she was never at fault. 
Her subordinates instantly felt the bounds she had drawn for 
them, and moved instinctively therein. 

The Blakes were charmed with Lakeside and the scenery 
of the Atauga Valley. Between the boy George and Bute, 
who was now able to sit on the shaded veranda on still, dry 
days, there grew up an immediate friendship. Miss Josephine 
was beginning to develop an interest in poetry and romances, 
and took almost exclusive possession of the library. Mr. 
Blake walked over the farm with Woodbury in the forenoons, 
each developing theories of agriculture equally original and 
impracticable, while the Mesdames Waldo and Blake improved 
their acquaintance in house and garden. The two ladies un- 
derstood each other from the start, and while there were some 
points, in regard to which as between any two women that 
maybe selected each commiserated the other's mistaken views, 
they soon discovered many reasons lor mutual sympathy and 
mutual appreciation. Mrs. Blake had the greater courage, 
Mrs. Waldo the greater tact. The latter had more natural 
grace and pliancy, the former more acquired refinement of 



324 HANNAH THURSTON: 

manner. They were alike in the correctness of their instincts, 
but in Mrs. Blake the faculty had been more exquisitely de- 
veloped, through her greater social experience. It was the 
same air, in the same key, but played an octave higher. Mrs. 
Waldo was more inclined to receive her enjoyment of life 
through impulse and immediate sensation ; Mrs. Blake through 
a philosophic discrimination. Both, perhaps, would have 
borne misfortune with like calmness ; but the resignation of 
one would have sprung from her temperament, and of the 
other from her reason. The fact that the resemblances in their 
matured womanhood were developed from different bases of 
character, increased the interest and respect which they 
mutually felt. 

On one point, at least, they were heartily in accord ; namely, 
their friendship for Woodbury. Mrs. Blake was familiar, 
as we have already described, with his early manhood in New 
York, and furnished Mrs. Waldo many interesting particulars 
in return for the description which the latter gave of his life 
at Lakeside. They were also agreed that there was too much 
masculine sweetness in him to be wasted on the desert air, and 
that the place, beautiful as it was, could never be an actual 
home until he had brought a mistress to it. 

" He was already chafing under Mrs. Babb's rule," said Mrs. 
Waldo, as they walked up and down the broad garden-alley, 
"and he will be less satisfied with the new housekeeper. 
Bute's wife as she will be is a much more agreeable per- 
son, and will no doubt try to do her best, but he will get very 
tired of her face and her silly talk. It will be all the worse 
because she has not a single characteristic strong enough for 
him to seize upon and say : This offends me ! You know what 
I mean ?" 

" Perfectly ; and your remark is quite correct. Mr. Wood- 
bury is one of those men who demand positive character, of 
some kind, in the persons with whom they associate. He likes 
fast colors, and this new housekeeper, from your description, 
must be a piece that will fade the longer it is used. In that 



A STOEY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 325 

case, she will become intolerable to him, though she may not 
possess one serious fault." 

" That characteristic of his," said Mrs. Waldo, "is the very 
reason, I think, why it will be difficult for him to find a wife." 

" By the by," asked Mrs. Blake, pausing in her walk, " he 
spoke to me, when we met on the Saguenay, of one woman, 
here, in your neighborhood, who seems to have made a strong 
impression upon his mind." 

" It was certainly Hannah Thurston !" 

" He did not give me her name. He seemed to admire her 
sincerely, except in one fatal particular she is strong-minded." 

" Yes, it is Hannah !" exclaimed Mrs. Waldo. "She is a 
noble girl, and every way worthy of such a man as he that is, 
if she were not prejudiced against all men." 

" You quite interest me about her. I heard Bessie Stryker 
once, when she lectured in St. Louis, and must confess that, 
while she did not convince me, I could see very well how 
she had convinced herself. Since then, I have been rather tole- 
rant towards the strong-minded class. The principal mistakes 
they make arise from the fact of their not being married, or of 
having moral and intellectual milksops for husbands. In either 
case, no woman can understand our sex, or the opposite." 

" I have said almost the same thing to Hannah Thurston," 
Mrs. Waldo- remarked. " If she would only take one step, 
the true knowledge would come. But she won't." 

"I suspect she has not yet found her Fate," said Mrs. Blake. 
" Was she ever in love, do you think ?" 

" No, I am sure of it. She has refused two good offers 
of marriage to my knowledge, and one of them was from a 
man who believed in the doctrine of Women's Rights. I can't 
understand her, though I love her dearly, and we have been 
intimate for years." 

"Can you not contrive a way for me to make her acquaint- 
ance ?" 

" Whenever you please. I have no doubt she remembers 
the story Mr. Woodbury told us last winter. I am hostess, 



326 HANNAH THURSTON: 

now, you know, and I can invite her to dinner to-morrow, only 
I must ask somebody else. I have it! Mr. Woodbury must 
invite Mr. and Mrs. Styles. It will not do for him to show too 
much partiality to our little sect, and that will keep up the bal- 
ance of civility." 

Woodbury accepted the proposition with more satisfaction 
than he judged proper to express. It was the very object he 
desired to accomplish, yet which he could not himself mention 
without exciting suspicions in the minds of both the ladies. 
He had not seen Hannah Thurston since his return, and felt a 
strange curiosity to test his own sensations when they should 
meet again. Under the circumstances, the invitation could be 
given and accepted without in the least violating the social 
propriety of Ptolemy. 

The disturbing emotion which had followed her last inter- 
view with Woodbury had entirely passed away from Hannah 
Thurston's mind. Her momentary resolution to avoid seeing 
him again, presented itself to her as a confession of weakness. 
A studied avoidance of his society would be interpreted as 
springing from a hostility which she did not feel. On the con- 
trary, his culture attracted her : his bearing towards her was 
gratefully kind and respectful, and she acknowledged a certain 
intellectual pleasure in his conversation, even when it assailed 
her dearest convictions. Her mother's health, always fluctu- 
ating with the season and the weather, had somewhat improved 
in the last calm, warm days of August, and she could safely 
leave her for a few hours in Miss Dil worth's charge. The lat- 
ter, indeed, begged her to go, that she might bring back a 
minute account of Bute's grade of convalescence. In short, 
there was no plausible excuse for declining the invitation, had 
she been disposed to seek one. 

It was a quiet but very agreeable dinner-party. Mr. and Mrs. 
Styles were both amiable and pleasantly receptive persons, and 
Mrs. Waldo took care that they should not be overlooked in 
the lively flow of talk. Hannah Thurston, who was seated beside 
Mr. Blake and opposite his wife, soon overcame her first timid- 



A STORY OF AMEBICAN LIFE. 327 

ity, and conversed freely and naturally with her new acquaint- 
ances. Woodbury's reception of her had been frank and kind, 
but he had said less to her than on former occasions. Never- 
theless, she occasionally had a presentiment that his eyes were 
upon her that he listened to her, aside, when he was engaged 
in conversing with his other guests. It was an absurd fancy, of 
course, but it constantly returned. 

After dinner, the company passed out upon the veranda, or 
seated themselves under the old oaks^ to enjoy the last mellow 
sunshine of the afternoon. Mrs. Blake and Hannah Thurston 
found themselves a little apart from the others an opportunity 
which the former had sought. Each was attracted towards 
the other by an interest which directed their thoughts to the 
same person, and at the same time restrained their tongues 
from uttering his name. Hannah Thurston had immediately 
recognized in her new acquaintance the same mental poise and 
self-possession, which, in Woodbury, had extorted her unwil- 
ling respect, while it so often disconcerted her. She knew 
that the two were natives of the same social climate, and was 
curious to ascertain whether they shared the same views of 
life whether, in fact, those views were part of a conventional 
creed adopted by the class to which they belonged, or, in each 
case, the mature conclusions of an honest and truth-seeking 
nature. With one of her own sex she felt stronger and better 
armed to defend herself. Mrs. Blake was not a woman of un- 
usual intellect, but what she did possess was awake and active, 
to its smallest fibre. What she lacked in depth, she made up 
in quickness and clearness of vision. She did not attempt to fol- 
low abstract theories, or combat them, but would let fall, as if 
by accident, one of the sharp, positive truths, with which both 
instinct and experience had stored her mind, and which never 
failed to prick and let the wind out of every bubble blown to- 
wards her. This faculty, added to the advantage of sex, made 
her the most dangerous antagonist Hannah Thurston could 
have met. But the latter, unsuspecting, courted her fate. 
The conversation, commencing with the beauties of the 



328 HANSTAH THFKSTON: 

landscape, branching thence to Ptolemy and its inhabitants, to 
their character, their degree of literary cultivation, and the 
means of enlightenment which they enjoyed, rapidly and 
naturally approached the one important topic. Hannah Thurs- 
ton mentioned, among other things, the meetings which were 
held in the interest of Temperance, Anti-Slavery, Non-Resist- 
ance, and Women's Rights ; Mrs. Blake gave her impressions 
of Bessie Stryker's lecture : Hannah Thurston grasped the 
whole gauntlet where only the tip of a finger had been pre- 
sented, and both women were soon in the very centre of the 
debatable ground. 

" What I most object to," said Mrs. Blake, " is that women 
should demand a sphere of action for which they are incapaci- 
tated understand me, not by want of intellect, but by sex." 

"Do you overlook all the examples which History fur- 
nishes ?" cried Hannah Thurston. " What is there that Wo- 
man has not done ?" 

" Commanded an army." 

"Zenobia!" 

" And was brought in chains to Rome. Founded an em- 
pire ?" 

" She has ruled empires !" 

"After they were already made, and with the help of men. 
Established a religion ? Originated a system of philosophy ? 
Created an order of architecture ? Developed a science ? In- 
vented a machine ?" 

"I am sure I could find examples of her having distin- 
guished herself in all these departments of intellect," Hannah 
Thurston persisted. 

"Distinguished herself! Ah! yes, I grant it. After the 
raw material of knowledge has been dug up and quarried out, 
and smelted, and hewn into blocks, she steps in with her fine 
hand and her delicate tools, and assists man in elaborating the 
nicer details. But she has never yet done the rough work, 
and I don't believe she ever will." 

" But with the same education the same preparation the 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 329 

same advantages, from birth, which man possesses ? She is 
taught to anticipate a contracted sphere she is told that these 
pursuits were not meant for her sex, and the determination to 
devote herself to them comes late, when it comes at all. Those 
intellectual muscles which might have had the same vigor as 
man's, receive no early training. She is thus, cheated out of 
the very basis of her natural strength : if she has done so 
much, fettered, what might she not do if her limbs were free?'* 
Hannah Thurston's face glowed : her eyes kindled, and her 
voice came sweet and strong with the intensity of a faith that 
would not allow itself to be shaken. She was wholly lost in 
her subject. 

After a pause, Mrs. Blake quietly said : " Yes, if we had 
broad shoulders, and narrow hips, we could no doubt wield 
sledge-hammers, and quarry stone, and reef sails in a storm." 

Again the same chill as Woodbury's conversation had some- 
times invoked, came over Hannah Thurston's feelings. Here 
was the same dogged adherence to existing facts, she thought, 
the same lack of aspiration for a better order of things ! The 
assertion, which she would have felt inclined to resent in a 
man, saddened her in a woman. The light faded from her 
face, and she said, mournfully: "Yes, the physical superiority 
of man gives him an advantage, by which our sex is overawed 
and held in subjection. But the rule of force cannot last for- 
ever. If woman would but assert her equality of intellect, 
and claim her share of the rights belonging to human intelli- 
gence, she would soon transform the world." 

Mrs. Blake instantly interpreted the change in countenance 
and tone ; it went far towards giving her the key to Hannah 
Thurston's nature. Dropping the particular question which 
had been started, she commenced anew. " When I lived in ' 
New York," said she, "I had many acquaintances among the 
artists, and what I learned of them and their lives taught me 
this lesson that there can be no sadder mistake than to mis- 
calculate one's powers. There is very little of the ideal and 
imaginative element in me, as you see, but I have learned its 



330 HAISTISTAH THUESTON I 

nature from observation. I have never met any man who in- 
spired me with so much pity as a painter whom I knew, who 
might have produced admirable tavern-signs, but who per- 
sisted in giving to the world large historical pictures, which 
were shocking to behold. No recognition came to the man, 
for there was nothing to be recognized. If he had moderated 
his ambition, he might at least have gained a living, but he 
was ruined before he could be brought to perceive the truth, 
and then died, I am sure, of a broken heart." 

"And you mean," said Miss Thurston, slowly, "that I 
that we who advocate the just claims of our sex, are making 
the same mistake." 

" I mean," Mrs. Blake answered, " that you should be very 
careful not to over-estimate the capacity of our sex by your 
own, as an individual woman. You may be capable under 
certain conditions of performing any of the special intel- 
lectual employments of Man, but to do so you must sacrifice 
your destiny as a woman you must seal up the wells from 
which a woman draws her purest happiness." 

" Why ?" 

" Ah, my dear," said Mrs. Blake, tenderly, " if your hair 
were as gray as mine, and you had two such creatures about 
you as Josey and George yonder, you would not ask. There 
are times when a woman has no independent life of her own 
when her judgment is wavering and obscured when her 
impulses are beyond her control. The business of the world 
must go on, in its fixed order, whether she has her share in it 
or not. Congresses cannot be adjourned nor trials postponed, 
nor suffering patients neglected, to await her necessities. The 
prime of a man's activity is the period of her subjection. She 
must then begin her political career in the decline of her 
faculties, when she will never be able to compete successfully 
with man, in any occupation which he has followed from 
youth." 

Hannah Thurston felt that there must be truth in these 
words. At least it was not for her, in her maiden ignorance, 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 331 

to contradict them. But she was sure, nevertheless, that Mrs. 
Blake's statement was not sufficient to overthrow her theory 
of woman's equality. She reflected a moment before she 
spoke again, and her tone was less earnest and confident than 
usual. 

" The statesmen and jurists, the clergymen, physicians, and 
men of science," she said, " comprise but a small number of 
the men. Could not our sex spare an equal number ? Would 
not some of us sacrifice a part of our lives, if it were 
necessary" ?" 

"And lose the peace and repose of domestic life, which 
consoles and supports the public life of man !" exclaimed Mrs. 
Blake. " It is not in Ms nature to make this sacrifice still 
less is it in ours. You do not think what you are saying. 
There is no true woman but feels at her bosom the yearning 
for a baby's lips. The milk that is never sucked dries into a 
crust around her heart. There is no true woman but longs, 
in her secret soul, for a man's breast to lay her head on, a 
man's eyes to give her the one look which he gives to no- 
body else in the world !" 

Hannah Thurston's eyes fell before those of Mrs. Blake. 
She painfully felt the warm flush that crept over neck, and 
cheek, and brow, betraying her secret, but betraying it, for- 
tunately, to a noble and earnest-hearted woman. A silence 
ensued, which neither knew how to break. 

" What are you plotting so seriously ?" broke in Wood- 
bury' s voice, close behind them. " I must interrupt this tete- 
cl-tete, Mrs. Blake. See what you are losing ?" 

They both rose and turned, in obedience to the movement 
of his hand. The sun had sunk so low that the shade of the 
western hill filled all the bed of the valley, and began to creep 
up the eastern side. A light blue film was gathering over the 
marsh at the head of the lake, where it divided into two lines, 
pointing up the creeks. But the patches of woodland on the 
East Atauga hill, the steep fields of tawny oat-stubble, and the 
fronts of white farm-houses and barns in the distance, were 



332 HANNAH THTJESTOK : 

drowned in a bath of airy gold, slowly deepening into flame- 
color as its tide-mark rose higher on the hills. Over Ptolemy 
a mountain of fire divided the forking valleys, which receded 
on either hand,* southward, into dim depths of amethyst. 
Higher and higher crept the splendor, until it blazed like a 
fringe on the topmost forests and fields : then it suddenly went 
out and was transferred to a rack of broken cloud, overhead. 

Mrs. Styles presently made her appearance, bonneted for 
the return to Ptolemy. Hannah ThurSton was to accompany 
her. But as they drove homewards through the cool evening 
air, through the ripe odors of late-flowering grasses, and the 
golden-rods on the road-banks and the eupatoriums in the 
meadows, it was the passionate yearning of the woman, not 
the ambition of the man, which had entire possession of her 



A STOEY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 333 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

IN WHICH A WEDDING TAKES PLACE. 

" Do you know, Mr. Woodbury," s'aid Mrs. Blake, the same 
evening, as they were all gathered together in the library, 
" that I have taken an immense liking to your strong-minded 
woman?" 

" Indeed !" he remarked, with assumed indifference. 

" Yes. I had a serious talk with her. I employed a moral 
probe, and what do you think I found ?" 

"What ?'' he repeated, turning towards her with an expres- 
sion of keen interest. 

"No, it would not be fair," tantalizingly answered Mrs. Blake, 
in her most deliberate tones. " I shall not betray any discoveries 
I have accidentally made. She is too earnest and genuine a 
nature to be disposed of with a pleasantry. I will only say 
this as far as she is wrong which, of course, is admitting 
that she is partly right, I, woman as I am, would undertake 
to convince her of it. A man, therefore, ought to be able to 
restore her to the true faith more easily. Yet you have been 
living at Lakeside nearly a year and have not succeeded." 

" I have never tried, my friend," said Woodbuiy. 

" Really?" 

" Of course not. Why should I ? She is relentless in her 
prejudices, even in those which spring from her limited knowl- 
edge of life. The only cure for such is in a wider experience. 
She cannot understand that a humane and liberal tolerance of 
all varieties of habit and opinion is compatible with sincerity 
of character. She would make every stream turn some kind 
of a mill, while I am willing to see one now and then dash 



334 HANNAH THUKSTON: 

itself to pieces over the rocks, for the sake of the spray and 
the rainbows. I confess, though, that I do not think this 
moral rigidity is entirely natural to her ; but the very fact that 
she has slowly reasoned herself into it, and so intrenched and 
defended herself against attack from all quarters, makes it so 
much the more difficult for her to strike her flag. If you 
were to approach her position disarmed and propose a truce, 
she would look upon it as the stratagem of an enemy." 

" No, no !" cried Mrs. Blake, shaking her head, with a mis- 
chievous sparkle in her eyes; "that is not the way at all! 
Don't you know that a strong woman can only be overcome 
by superior strength? No white flags no proposals of 
truce but go, armed to the teeth, and fire a train to the 
mine which shall blow her fortress to atoms in a moment !" 

" Bravo ! What a commander is lost to the world in you ! 
But suppose I don't see any train to the mine ?" 

" Pshaw !" exclaimed Mrs. Blake, turning away in mock 
contempt. " You know very well that there is but one kind 
of moral gunpowder to be used in such cases. I am going to 
drive into Ptolemy this afternoon with Mrs. Waldo, and I 
shall make a call at the Thurston cottage. Will you go with 
us?" 

" Thank you, not to-day. Mr. Blake and I have arranged 
to take a boat on the Lake and fish for pickerel. It is better 
sport than firing trains of moral gunpowder." 

The two ladies drove into Ptolemy as they had proposed. 
Mrs. Blake made herself quite at home at the Cimmerian 
Parsonage, where she recognized the Christus Consolator as 
an old friend out of her own bedroom, and went into raptures 
over Hannah Thurston's bouquet of grasses. She mentally 
determined to procure from the donor a similar ornament for 
her boudoir in St. Louis, and managed the matter, indeed, 
with such skill that Miss Thurston innocently supposed the 
ofier to make and forward the bouquet came spontaneously 
from herself. 

To the Widow Thurston's cottage Mrs. Blake came like a 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 335 

strong, refreshing breeze. In other households, her sharp, 
clear, detective nature might have uncomfortably blown 
away the drapery from many concealed infirmities, but here it 
encountered only naked truthfulness, and was welcome. She 
bowed down at once before the expression of past trials in 
the old woman's face, and her manner assumed a tenderness all 
the sweeter and more fascinating that it rarely came to the 
surface. She took Miss Dilworth's measure at a single glance, 
and the result, as she afterwards expressed it to Mrs. Waldo, 
was much more favorable than that lady had anticipated. 

" He could not have a better housekeeper than she, just at 
present." 

" Wh, you astonish me !" Mrs. Waldo exclaimed; "why 
do you think so ?" 

" I have no particular reason for thinking so," Mrs. Blake 
answered ; " it's a presentiment." 

Mrs. Waldo turned away her eyes from Dobbin's ears 
(which she always watched with some anxiety, although the 
poor old beast had long since forgotten how to shy them back), 
and inspected her companion's face. It was entirely grave 
and serious. " Oh," she said at last, in a puzzled tone, "that's 
all?" 

"Yes, and therefore you won't think it worth much. 
But my presentiments are generally correct : wait and see." 

The Blakes remained over a Sunday, and went, as it was 
generally surmised they would, to the Cimmerian Church. 
The attendance was unusually large on that day, embracing, 
to the surprise of Mrs. Waldo, the Hamilton Bues and Miss 
Ruhaney Goodwin. On the entrance of the strangers into 
the church, a subdued rustling sound ran along the benches 
(pews were not allowed by the Cimmerians), and most of the 
heads turned stealthily towards the door. The imme- 
diate silence that followed had something of disappointment 
in it. There was nothing remarkable in the tall, keen-eyed 
lady in plain black silk, or the stout, shrewd-faced, gray- 
whiskered man who followed her. Miss Josephine's flat straw 



336 HANNAH THUKSTOU: 

hat and blue silk mantilla attracted much more attention 
among the younger members of the congregation. After the 
hymn had been given out, however, and the first bars of the 
triumphant choral of " Wilmot" (according to the music- 
books, but Carl Maria von Weber in the world of Art) were 
heard, a new voice gradually took its place in. the midst of 
the accustomed and imperfectly according sounds, and very 
soon assumed the right of a ruler, forcing the others to keep 
step with it in the majestic movement of the choral. Not 
remarkably sweet, but of astonishing strength and metal- 
lic sonority, it pealed like a trumpet at the head of the ill- 
disciplined four battalions of singers, and elevated them to a 
new confidence in themselves. 

The voice was Mrs. Blake's- She professed to be no singer, 
for she knew her own deficiencies so well, that she never at- 
tempted to conceal them; but her voice had the one rare 
element, in a woman, of power, and was therefore admirably 
effective in a certain range of subjects. In society she rarely 
sang any except Scotch songs, and of these especially such as 
dated from the rebellion of 1745 those gloriously defiant 
lays, breathing of the Highlands and the heather and bonnie 
Prince Charlie, which cast an immortal poetic gleam over the 
impotent attempt to restore a superannuated dynasty. Had 
she lived in those days Mrs. Blake might have sung the slogan 
to the gathering clans : as it was, these songs were the only 
expression of the fine heroic capacity which was latent in her 
nature. She enjoyed the singing fully as much as her auditors 
the hearing, and, if the truth could be distinctly known, it is 
quite probable that she had prompted Mr. Waldo in his se- 
lection of the hymn. Her participation in it threw the whole 
Cimmerian congregation on her side, and the Hamilton Bues 
privately expressed their belief that the clergyman had taken 
an undue advantage of his opportunities as a guest at Lake- 
side, to instil his heretical ideas of baptism into the minds of 
Mr. and Mrs. Blake. It transpired afterwards, however, that 
the latter were Episcopalian, both by faith and inheritance. 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 337 

The day at last arrived for the breaking up of the new 
household, to the great regret of all its members. Miss Jose- 
phine tore herself with difficulty from the library, only par- 
tially consoled by the present of " Undine" and " Sintraim." 
George wanted to stay with Bute and learn to trap musk-rats 
and snare rabbits. Mr. Waldo half sheathed his teeth with 
his insufficient lips and went back to his plain fare with a sigh 
of resignation. The ladies kissed each other, and Woodbury 
would assuredly have kissed them bpth if he had known how 
charitably they would have received the transgression. Bute 
was embarrassed beyond all his previous experience by the 
present of half a dozen silver tea-spoons which Mrs. Blake 
had bought in Ptolemy and presented to him through her boy 
George. 

"You are going to begin housekeeping, I hear," said she, 
" and you must let George help you with the outfit." 

Bute colored like a young girl. " They're wuth more'n the 
silver, comin' to us that-a-way," he said at last. " I'll tell 
Carrie, and we sha'n't never use 'em, without thinkin' o' you 
and George." 

The farewells were said, and Lakeside relapsed into its ac- 
customed quiet. The borrowed chambermaid was returned to 
the Ptolemy House, and the old Melinda alone remained in 
the kitchen, to prepare her incomparable corn-cake and broiled 
chicken. Bute was now able, with proper precautions, to 
walk about the farm and direct the necessary labor, without 
taking part in it. Woodbury resumed his former habit of 
horseback exercise, and visited some of his acquaintances in 
Ptolemy and the neighborhood, but the departure of his 
pleasant guests left a very perceptible void in his life. He 
had sufficient resources within himself to endure solitude, 
but he was made, like every healthily-constituted man, for 
society. 

Thus a few days passed away, and Bute's convalescence 
began to take the hue of absolute health. He now visited 
Ptolemy every day or two, to watch the progress made in a 
15 



338 HANNAH THURSTON: 

certain silver-gray dress, and to enjoy the exquisite novelty of 
consulting Miss Dilworth about their future household ar 
rangements. The latter sometimes, from long habit, reassumed 
her former air of coquetry, but it was no longer tantalizing 
and an earnest word or look sufficed to check her. A charm- 
ing humility took the place of her affected superiority, and 
became her vastly better, as she had sense enough to discern. 
Her ringlets had disappeared forever, and her eyelids grad- 
ually recovered strength for an open and steady glance. In 
fact, her eyes were prettier than she had supposed. Their 
pale beryl-tint deepened into -brown at the edges, and when 
the pupil expanded in a subdued light, they might almost have 
been called hazel. * In Spain they would have been sung as 
" ojos verdes" by the poets. On the whole, Bute had chosen 
more sensibly than we supposed, when we first made Miss 
Dilworth's acquaintance. 

The arrangements for the wedding were necessarily few and 
simple. Woodbury first proposed that it should be solemnized 
at Lakeside, but Mrs. Waldo urged, that, since her husband 
was to officiate on the occasion, it would be better for many 
reasons one of which was Mrs. Babb's recent death that it 
should take place at the parsonage. Miss Dilworth was se- 
cretly bent on having a bridesmaid, who should, of course, be 
Hannah Thurston, but was obliged to relinquish her project, 
through the unexpected resistance which it encountered on 
the part of Bute. "None of the fellows that I could ask to 
stand up with me would do for Aer," said he. 

" Why not Mr. Woodbury ?" suggested Miss Carrie. 

" He ! Well he'd do it in a minute if I was to ask him, but 
I won't. Between you and me, Carrie, they can't bear each 
other ; they're like cats and dogs." 

" Bute ! a'n't you ashamed ?" 

" What ? O' tellin' the truth ? No, nor a'n't likely to be. 
See here, Carrie, why can't we let it alone ? Mr. Waldo'll tie 
us jist as tight, all the same, and when it's over you won't 
know the difference." 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. ". 339 

" But Bute," Miss Carrie persisted, " I think she expects 
it of me." 

" She ha' n't set her heart on it, I'll be bound. I'll ask her. 
Miss Hannah !" 

The two were in the open air, at the corner of the cottage 
nearest the garden. The window of the little sitting-room 
was open, and Bute's call brought Miss Thurstori to it. 

" Oh, Bute, don't !" pleaded Miss Dilworth, ready to cry, 
but he had already gone too far to stop. "Miss Hannah," 
said he, " we're talkin' about the weddin'. I'm thinkin' it'll 
be jist as well without waiters. Carrie'd like to have you for 
bridesmaid, and I'm sure I'd be glad of it, only, you know, 
you'd have to stand up with somebody on my side, and there's 
nobody I could ask but Mr. Max, and and I'm afraid that 
wouldn't be agreeable, like, for either o' you." 

" Bute !" cried Carrie, in real distress. 

Bute, however, was too sure of the truth of what he had 
said to suspect that he could possibly give pain by uttering it. 
The first rude shock of his words over-, Hannah Thurston felt 
greatly relieved. " You were right to tell me, Arbutus," said 
she ; " for, although I should be quite willing, at another time, 
to do as Carrie wishes, no matter whom you might choose as 
your nearest friend, I think it best, 'at present, that there 
should be as little ceremony as possible. I will talk with you 
about it afterwards, Carrie." And she moved away from the 
window. 

At length the important day arrived. Bute woke when the 
cocks crowed three o'clock, and found it impossible to get to 
sleep again. His new clothes (not made by Seth Wattles) 
were in the top drawer of the old bureau, and Melinda had 
laid some sprigs of lavender among them. He tried to 
imagine how he would look in them, how he would feel during 
the ceremony and afterwards, how curious it must be to have 
a wife of your own, and everybody know it. He pictured to 
himself his friends on the neighboring farms, saying : " How's 
your wife, Bute ?" when they met, and then he thought of 



340 HANNAH THTJESTON : 

Mother Forty, and what a pity that she had not lived long 
enough to know Carrie Wilson who, of course, would be a 
very different creature from Carrie Dilworth ; but he always 
came back to the new clothes in the top bureau-drawer, and 
the duty of the day that was beginning to dawn. Then, he 
heard Pat.'s voice among the cattle at the barn ; then, a stir- 
ring in the kitchen under him, and presently the noise of the 
coffee-mill and stilt it was not light enough to shave ! More 
slowly than ever before the sun rose ; his toilet, which usually 
lasted five minutes, took half an hour ; he combed his hair in 
three different ways, none of which was successful ; and finally 
went down to breakfast, feeling more awkward and uncom- 
fortable than ever before in his life. 

Woodbury shook hands with him and complimented him on 
his appearance, after which he felt more composed. The 
preparations for the ride to Ptolemy, nevertheless, impressed 
him with a certain solemnity, as if he were a culprit awaiting 
execution or a corpse awaiting bnrial. A feeling of helpless- 
ness came over him : the occasion seemed to have been 
brought about, not so much by his own will as by an omnipo- 
tent fate which had taken him at his word. Presently Pat. 
came up grinning, dressed in his Sunday suit, and announced: 
" The hosses is ready, Misther Bute, and it'll be time we're 
off." After the ceremony Pat. was to drive the happy pair to 
Tiberius, where they proposed spending a honeymoon of two 
days with the bride's old aunt. He wore a bright blue coat 
with brass buttons, and Melinda had insisted on pinning a 
piece of white ribbon on the left Lippel, " Kase," as she re- 
marked, " down Souf ole Missus always had 'urn so." 

Woodbury mounted his horse and rode off, in advance, 
through the soft September morning. At the parsonage he 
found every thing in readiness. Mrs. Waldo, sparkling with 
satisfaction, rustled about in a dark-green silk (turned, and 
with the spots carefully erased by camphene), vibrating inces- 
santly between the little parlor where the ceremony was to 
take place, and the bedroom up-stairs, where the bride was 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 341 

being arrayed under the direction of Hannah Thurston. 
Nothing, as she candidly confessed, enlisted her sympathies so 
completely as a wedding, and it was the great inconvenience 
of a small congregation that her husband had so few occasions 
to officiate. 

u Promise me, Mr. Woodbury," she said, as she finally 
paused in her movements, from the impossibility of finding 
any thing else to do, " that you will be married by nobody but 
Mr. Waldo." ; +1; 

"I can safely promise that," he answered : " but pray don't 
ask me to fix the time when it shall take place." 

" If it depended on me, I would say to-morrow. Ah, there 
is Bute ! How nicely he looks !" With these words she went 
to the door and admitted him. 

Bute's illness had bleached the tan and subdued the defiant 
ruddiness of his skin. In black broadcloth and the white silk 
gloves (white kids, of the proper number, were not to be 
found in Ptolemy) into which he had been unwillingly persuaded 
to force his large hands, an air of semi-refinement overspread 
the strong masculine expression of his face and body. His 
hair, thinned by fever and closely cut, revealed the shape 
of his well-balanced head, and the tender blue gleam in his 
honest eyes made them positively beautiful. Mrs. Waldo 
expressed her approval of his appearance, without the least 
reserve. 

Soon afterwards, a rustling was heard on the stairs ; the 
door opened, and Miss Carrie Dilworth entered the parlor with 
blushing cheeks and downcast fyes, followed by Hannah 
ThurstOD, in the white muslin dress and pearl-colored ribbons 
which Woodbury so well remembered. The bride was really 
charming in her gray, silvery silk, and a light-green wreath 
crowning her rippled hair. Orange-blossoms were not to be 
had in Ptolemy, and there were no white garden-flowers in 
bloom except larkspurs, which of course were not to be 
thought of. Hannah Thurston, therefore, persuaded her to 
content herself with a wreath of the myrtle- leaved box, as the 



342 HANNAH THUBSTON: 

nearest approach to the conventional bridal diadem, and the 
effect was simple and becoming. 

Each of the parties was agreeably surprised at the other's 
appearance. Bute, not a little embarrassed as to how he 
should act, took Miss Dil worth's hand, and held it in his own, 
deliberating whether or not it was expected that he should 
kiss her then and there. Miss Dilworth, finding that he did 
not let it go, boldly answered the pressure and clung to him 
with a natural and touching air of dependence and reliance. 
Nothing could have been more charming than the appearance 
of the two, as they stood together in the centre of the little 
room, he all man, she all woman, in the most sacred moment 
of life. They expressed the sweetest relation of the sexes, he 
yielding in his tenderness, she confiding in her trust. No 
declaration of mutual rights, no suspicious measurement of 
the words of the compact, no comparison of. powers granted 
with powers received, but a blind, unthinking, blissful, recipro- 
cal self-bestowal. This expression in their attitude and their 
faces did not escape Hannah Thurston's eye. It forced upon 
her mind doubts which she would willingly have avoided, but 
which she was only strong enough to postpone. 

Pat. had already slipped into the room, and stood awkwardly 
in a corner, holding his hat in both hands. The only other 
stranger present was Miss Sophia Stevenson, who had kindly 
assisted the bride in the preparation of her wardrobe, and who 
differed from her sister spinster, Miss Ruhaney Goodwin, in 
the fact that she was always more ready to smile than sigh. 
All being assembled, Mr. Waldo came forward and performed 
the simple but impressive ceremony, following it with an 
earnest prayer. Miss Carrie lifted up her head and pronounced 
the " I will" with courage, but during the prayer she bent it 
again so that it partly rested against Bute's shoulder. When 
the final " Amen !" was said, Bute very gently and solemnly 
kissed his wife, and both were then heartily congratulated by 
the clergyman, who succeeded in closing his lips sufficiently 
to achieve the salute which an old friend might take without 



A STOEY OP AMERICAN LIFE. 343 

blame. Then there were hearty greetings all round : the cer- 
tificate of marriage was signed and given to the wife for safe- 
keeping, as if its existence were more important to her than 
to the husband; and finally Mrs. Waldo prepared what the 
Hon. Zeno Harder would have called a " coe-lation." Wood- 
bury had been thoughtful enough to send to the parsonage a 
bottle or two of the old Dennison Madeira, rightly judging 
that if Mrs. Babb had been alive, she would have desired it 
for the reason that " she" would have done the same thing. 
On this occasion all partook of the 'pernicious beverage except 
Hannah Thurston, and even she was surprised to find but a 
very mild condemnation in her feelings. The newly-wedded 
couple beamed with a mixture of relief and contentment ; 
Carrie was delighted at hearing herself addressed as "Mrs. 
Wilson," and even Bute found the words " your wife," after 
the first ten minutes, not the least strange or embarrassing. 

Presently, however, the wife slipped away to reappear in a 
pink gingham and a plaid shawl. The horses were ready at the 
door, and Pat. was grinning, whip in hand, as he stowed away 
a small carpet-bag, containing mingled male and female articles, 
under the seat. A few curious spectators waited on the plank 
side-walk, opposite, but Bute, having gone through the grand 
ordeal, now felt courage to face the world. As they took 
their seats, and Pat. gave a preliminary flourish of his whip, 
Mrs. Waldo produced an ancient slipper of her own, ready to 
hurl it at the right moment. The" horses started ; the slipper 
flew, whizzed between their heads and dropped into the bot- 
tom of the carriage. 

" Don't look back !" she cried ; but there was no danger of 
that. The road must have been very rough, for Bute was 
obliged to put his arm around his wife's waist, and the dust 
must have been very dense, for she had raised her handker- 
chief to her eyes. 

" Will you take care of me to-day ?" said Woodbury to the 
Waldos. " I shall not go back to Lakeside until evening." 



344 HANNAH THURSTON: 



CHAPTER XXVTI. 

DESCRIBING CERTAIN TROUBLES OF MR. WOODBURY. 

WHEN they returned to Mrs. Waldo's parlor, the conversa- 
tion naturally ran upon the ceremony which had just been sol- 
emnized and the two chief actors in it. There was but one 
judgment in regard to Bute, and his wife, also, had gained 
steadily in the good opinion of all ever since her betrothal 
beside the sick-bed. 

" I had scarcely noticed her at all, before it happened," said 
Woodbury, " for she impressed me as a shallow, ridiculous, 
little creature one of those unimportant persons who seem 
to have no other use than to fill up the cracks of society. But 
one little spark of affection gives light and color to the most 
insipid character. Who could have suspected the courage and 
earnestness of purpose which took her to Lakeside, when the 
fever had possession of the house ? Since then I have heartily 
respected her. I have almost come to the conclusion that no 
amount of triumphant intellect is worth so much reverence as 
we spontaneously pay to any simple and genuine emotion, 
common to all human beings." 

" I am glad to hear you say so !" exclaimed Mrs. Waldo. 
" Because then you will never fail in a proper respect to our 
sex. Hannah, do you remember, when you lent me Long- 
fellow's Poems, how much I liked that line about ' affection ?' 
I don't often quote, Mr. Woodbury, because I'm never sure of 
getting it exactly right ; but it's this : 

" ' "What I esteem in woman 
Is her affection, not her intellect,' 

" And I believe all men of sense do." 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 345 

" I cannot indorse the sentiment, precisely in those words," 
Woodbury answered. " I esteem both affection and intellect 
in woman, but the first quality must be predominant. Its ab- 
sence in man may now and then be tolerated, but to woman it 
is indispensable." 

" Might not woman make the same requirement of man ?" 
Hannah Thurston suddenly asked. 

" Certainly," he answered, " and with full justice. That is 
one point wherein no one can dispute the equal rights of the 
sexes. But the capacity to love is a natural quality, and there 
is no true aifection where the parties are continually measuring 
their feelings to see which loves the most. Bute and his wife 
will be perfectly happy so long as they are satisfied with the 
simple knowledge of giving and receiving." 

" That's exactly my idea !" cried Mrs. Waldo, in great 
delight. " Husband, do you recollect the promises we made 
to each other on our wedding-day ? There's never a wedding 
happens but I live it all over again. "We wore Navarino bon- 
nets then, and sleeves puffed out with bags of down, and you 
would lay your head on one of'them, as we t drove along, just 
like Bute and Carrie to-day, on our way to Father Waldo's. 
I said then that I'd never doubt you, never take back an atom 
of my trust in you and I've kept my word from that day to 
this, and I'll keep it in this world and the next !" 

Here Mrs. Waldo actually burst into tears, but smiled 
through them, like the sudden rush of a stream from which 
spray and rainbow are born at the same instant. " I am a 
silly old creature," she said : " don't mind me. Half of my 
heart has been in Carrie's breast all morning, and I knew I 
should make a fool of myself before the day was out." 

" You're a good wife," said Mr. Waldo, patting her on the 
head as if she had been a little girl. 

Hannah Thurston rose, with a wild, desperate feeling in her 

heart. A pitiless hand seemed to clutch and crush it in her 

bosom. So, she thought, some half-drowned sailor, floating 

on the plank of a wreck, must feel when the sail that promised 

15* 



346 HANNAH THTJKSTON .* 

him deliverance, tacks with the wind and slides out of his 
horizon. The waves of life, which had hitherto only stirred 
for her with the grand tidal pulse which moves in their depths, 
now heaved threateningly and dashed their bitter salt in her 
face at every turn. Whence came these ominous disturb- 
ances? What was there in the happy marriage of two 
ignorant and contented souls, to impress her with such vague, 
intolerable foreboding ? With the consciousness of her in- 
ability to suppress it came a feeling of angry shame at the 
deceitfulness of her own strength. But perhaps and this 
was a gleam of hope what she experienced was the dis- 
appointed protest of an instinct common to every human be- 
ing, and which must therefore be felt and conquered by others 
as well. 

She stole a glance at Woodbury. His face was abstracted 
but it expressed no signs of a struggle akin to her own. The 
large brown eyes were veiled with the softness of a tender, 
subdued longing ; the full, regular lips, usually closed with all 
the firmness and decision of his character in their line of 
junction, were slightly parted, and the corners drooped with 
an expression unutterably sad. Even over cheeks and brow, 
a soft, warm breath seemed to have blown. He appeared to 
her, suddenly, under a new aspect. She saw the misty shadow 
which the passion of a man's heart casts before it, and turned 
away her eyes in dread of a deeper revelation. 

As she took leave of the Waldos, he also rose and gave her 
his hand. The tender cloud of sadness had not entirely passed 
from his face, and she avoided meeting his gaze. Whether it 
was the memory of a lost, or the yearning for an absent love, 
which had thus betrayed itself, she felt that it gave him the 
temporary power to discern something of the emotion which 
had mastered her. Had he done so, she never could have 
met him again. To this man, of all men, she would continue 
to assert her equality. Whatever weaknesses others might 
discover, he at least should only know. her in her strength. 

The rest of the day passed rather tamely to Woodbury, and 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 847 

as he rode down the valley during the sweet and solemn 
coming-on of the twilight, he was conscious of a sensation 
which he had not experienced since the days of his early trials 
in New York. He well remembered the melancholy Sabbath 
evenings, when he walked along the deserted North River 
piers, watching the purple hills of Staten Island deepen into 
gray as the sunset faded when all that he saw, the quiet 
vessels, the cold bosom of the bay, the dull red houses on the 
shores and even the dusky heaven ^overhead, was hollow and 
unreal when there was no joy in the Present and no promise 
in the Future. The same hopeless chill came over him now. 
All the life had gone out of the landscape ; its colors were 
cold and raw, the balmy tonic odor of the golden-rods and 
meadow marigolds seemed only designed to conceal some 
rank odor of decay, and the white front of Lakeside greeted 
him with the threat of a prison rather than the welcome of a 
home. 

On the evening of the second day Bute returned, as de- 
lighted to get back as if he had made a long journey. The 
light of his new life still lay upon him and gave its human 
transfiguration to his face. Woodbury studied the change, un- 
consciously to its subject, with a curiosity which he had never 
before acknowledged in similar cases. He saw the man's su- 
preme content in the healthy clearness of his eye, in the light, 
elastic movement of his limbs, and in the lively satisfaction with 
which he projected plans of labor, in which he was to perform 
the principal part. He had taken a fresh interest in life, and 
was all courage and activity. In Carrie, on the other hand, 
the trustful reliance she had exhibited appeared now to have 
assumed the form of a willing and happy submission. She 
recognized the ascendency of sex, in her husband, without 
being able to discern its nature. Thus Bute's plain common- 
sense suddenly took the form of rough native intellect in her 
eyes, and confessing (to herself, only) her own deficiency, 
her affection was supported by the pride of her respect. Her 
old aunt had whispered to her, before they left Tiberius : 



348 HANNAH THTJESTON: 

" <7arrline, you're a lucky gal. Y'r husband's a proper nice 
man as ever I see, and so well set-up, too. You'll both be 
well to do, afore you die, if you take keer o' what you've got, 
and lay up what it brings in. I shouldn't wonder if you wab 
able to send your boys to Collidge." 

This suggestion opened a new field for her ambition. The 
thought seemed still a scarcely permitted liberty, and she did 
not dare to look at her face in the glass when it passed 
through her mind ; but the mother's instinct, which Inrks, un- 
suspected, in every maiden's breast, boldly asserted its ex- 
istence to the young wife, and she began to dream of the 
future reformers or legislators whom it might be her for- 
tunate lot to cradle. Her nature, as we have already more 
than once explained, was so shallow that it could not contain 
more than one set of ideas at a time. The acquired affec- 
tations by which she had hitherto been swayed, being driven 
from the field, her new faith in Bute possessed her wholly, 
and she became natural by the easiest transition in the world. 
Characters like hers rarely have justice done to them. Gen- 
erally, they are passed over as too trivial for serious inspec- 
tion : their follies and vanities are so evident and transparent, 
that the petit verre is supposed to be empty, when at tho 
bottom may lie as potent a drop of the honey of human love, 
as one can find in a whole huge ox-horn of mead. 

Now began for Woodbury a life very different from what 
he had anticipated. Bute took possession of his old steward- 
ship with the joyous alacrity of a man doubly restored to the 
world, and Mrs. Carrie Wilson fidgeted about from morning 
until night, fearful lest some neglected duty in her department 
might be seen. The careful respect which Woodbury ex- 
ercised towards her gave her both courage and content in her 
new position, while it preserved a certain distance between 
them. She soon learned, not only to understand but to share 
Bute's exalted opinion of his master. In this respect, Wood- 
bury's natural tact was unerring. Without their knowledge, 
he guided those who lived about him to the exact places, 



A STOKY OP AMERICAN LIFE. 349 

which he desired them to fill. In any European household 
such matters would have settled themselves without trouble ; 
but in America, where the vote of the hired neutralizes that 
of the hirer, and both have an equal chance of reaching the 
Presidential chair where the cook and chambermaid may 
happen to wear more costly bonnets than their mistress, and 
to have a livelier interest in the current fashions, it requires 
no little skill to harmonize the opposite features of absolute 
equality and actual subjection. Too great a familiarity, ac- 
cording to the old proverb, breeds contempt ; too strict an 
assertion of the relative positions, breeds rebellion. 

The man of true cultivation, who may fraternize at will 
with the humblest and rudest of the human race, reserves, 
nevertheless, the liberty of selecting his domestic associates. 
Woodbury insisted on retaining his independence to this ex- 
tent, not from an assumption of superiority, but from a resist- 
ance to the dictation of the uncultivated in every thing that 
concerned his habits of life. He would not have hesitated to 
partake of a meal in old Melinda's cottage, but it was always 
a repugnant sensation to him, on visiting the Merryfields, 
when an Irish laborer from the field came in his shirt-sleeves, 
or a strapping mulatto woman, sweating from the kitchen fire, 
to take their places at the tea-table. Bute's position was 
above that of a common laborer, and Woodbury, whose long 
Indian life had not accustomed him to prefer lonely to social 
meals, was glad to have the company of his wedded assistants 
at breakfast and dinner, and this became the ordinary habit ; 
but he was careful to preserve a margin sufficient for his own 
freedom and convenience. Carrie, though making occasional 
mistakes, brought so much good-will to the work, that the 
housekeeping went on smoothly enough to a bachelor's eyes. 
If Mrs. Blake's favorable judgment had reference to this aspect 
of the case, she was sufficiently near the truth, but in another 
respect she certainly made a great mistake. 

It was some days before Woodbury would confess to him- 
self the disturbance which the new household, though so con- 



850 HANNAH THTJESTON: 

veniently regulated, occasioned him. The sight of Bute's 
clear morning face, the stealthy glance of delight with which 
he followed the movements of his beaming little wife, as she 
prepared the breakfast-table, the eager and absurd manoeuvres 
which she perpetrated to meet him for just one second (long 
enough for the purpose), outside the kitchen-door as he re- 
turned from the field all these things singularly annoyed 
Woodbury. The, two were not openly demonstrative in their 
nuptial content, but it was constantly around them like an 
atmosphere. A thousand tokens, so minute that alone they 
meant nothing, combined to express the eternal joy which 
man possesses in woman, and woman in man. It pervaded 
the mansion of Lakeside from top to bottom, like one of those 
powerful scents which cling to the very walls and cannot be 
washed out. When he endeavored to avoid seeing it or sur- 
mising its existence, in one way, it presented itself to him in 
another. When, as it sometimes happened, either of the 
parties became conscious that he or she had betrayed a little 
too much tenderness, the simulated indifference, the unnatural 
gravity which followed, made the bright features of their new 
world all the more painfully distinct by the visible wall which 
it built up, temporarily, between him and them. He was 
isolated in a way which left him no power of protest. They 
were happy, and his human sympathy forbade him to resent it; 
they were ignorant and uncultivated, in comparison to himself, 
and his pride could give him no support ; they were sincere, 
and his own sincerity of character was called upon to recog- 
nize' it ; their bond was sacred, and demanded his reverence. 
Why, then, should he be disturbed by that which enlisted all 
his better qualities, and peremptorily checked the exercise of 
the opposite ? Why, against all common-sense, all gentle in- 
stincts, all recognition of the loftiest human duty, should he 
in this new Paradise of Love, be the envious serpent rather 
than the protecting angel ? 

The feeling was clearly there, whatever might be its expla- 
nation. There were times when he sought to reason it away 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 351 

as the imaginary jealousy of a new landed proprietor, who 
presents to himself the idea of ownership in every pos- 
sible form in order to enjoy it the more thoroughly. Lake- 
side was his, to the smallest stone inside his boundary fence, 
and the mossiest shingle on the barn-roof; but the old house 
the vital heart of the property now belonged more to 
others than to himself. The dead had signed away their in- 
terest in its warmth and shelter, but it was haunted in every 
chamber by the ghosts of the living ; The new-made husband 
and wife filled it with a feeling of home, in which he had no 
part. They had usurped his right, and stolen the comfort 
which ought to belong to him alone. It was their house, and 
he the tenant. As he rode down the valley, in the evenings, 
and from the bridge over Roaring Brook glanced across the 
meadows to the sunny knoll, the love, which was not his own, 
looked at him from the windows glimmering in the sunset and 
seemed to say : "You would not ask me to be your guest, but 
I am here in spite of you !" 

Woodbury, however, though his nature was softened by the 
charm of a healthy sentiment, was not usually imaginative. He 
was not the man to endure, for any length of time, a mental or 
moral unrest, without attempting to solve it. His natural pow- 
ers of perception, his correct instincts, his calm judgment, and 
his acquired knowledge of life, enabled him to interpret him- 
self as well as others. He never shrank from any revelation 
which his own heart might make to him. If a wound smarted, 
he thrust the probe to the bottom with a steady hand. The 
pain was none the less, afterwards, perhaps, but he could esti- 
mate when it would heal. He possessed, moreover, the virtue, 
so often mistaken for egotism, of revering in himself the aspi- 
rations, the sacrifices, and the sanctities which he revered in 
other men. Understanding, correctly, his nature as a man, 
his perceptions were not easily confused. There are persons 
whose moral nature is permanently unhinged by the least 
license : there are others who may be led, by circumstance, 
into far graver aberrations, and then swing back, without 



352 HANNAH THUESTON: 

effort, to their former integrity. He belonged tc the latter 
class. 

It was not long, therefore, before he had surveyed the whole 
ground of his disturbance. Sitting, late into the night, in his 
library, he would lay down his book beside the joss-stick, 
which smouldered away into a rod of white ashes in its boat, 
and quietly deliberate upon his position. He recalled every 
sensation of annoyance or impatience, not disguising its injus- 
tice or concealing from himself its inherent selfishness, while 
on the other hand he admitted the powerful source from which 
it sprang. He laid no particular blame to his nature, from the 
fact that it obeyed a universal law, and deceived himself by no 
promise of resistance. Half the distress of the race is caused 
by their fighting battles which can never be decided. Wood- 
bury's knowledge simply taught him how to conceal his trouble, 
and that was all he desired. He knew that the ghost which 
had entered Lakeside must stay there until he should bring 
another ghost to dislodge it. 

Where was the sweet phantom to be found ? If, in some 
impatient moment, he almost envied Bute the possession of the 
attached, confiding, insipid creature, in whom the former was 
so unspeakably content, his good sense told him, the next, 
that the mere capacity to love was not enough for the needs 
of a life. That which is the consecration of marriage does not 
alone constitute marriage. Of all the women whom he knew, 
but one could offer him the true reciprocal gifts. Towards 
her, he acknowledged himself to be drawn by an interest much 
stronger than that of intellect an interest which might grow, 
if he allowed it, into love, The more he saw or learned of 
this woman, the more admirably pure and noble his heart 
acknowledged her to be. He had come to look upon her errors 
with a gentle pity, which taught him to avoid assailing them, 
whenever the assault might give her pain. Was the hard, 
exacting manner in which she claimed delusive rights not 
indeed, specially for herself, but for ah 1 her sex the result of 
her position as a champion of those rights, or was it an inte- 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 853 

gral part of herself? This was the one important question 
which it behooved him to solve. To what extent was the false 
nature superimposed upon the true woman beneath it ? 

Supposing, even, that he should come to love her, and, im- 
probable as it might seem, should awaken an answering love 
in her heart, would she unite her fate, unconditionally, to his ? 
Would she not demand, in advance, security for some unheard- 
of domestic liberty, as a partial compensation for the legal 
rights which were still withheld ? )ne of her fellow-champi- 
onesses had recently married, and had insisted on retaining her 
maiden name. He had read, in the newspapers, a contract 
drawn up and signed by the two, which had disgusted him by 
its cold business character. He shuddered as the idea of 
Hannah Thurston presenting a similar contract for his signa- 
ture, crossed his mind. " No !" he cried, starting up : " it is 
incredible !" Nothing in all his intercourse with her sug- 
gested such a suspicion. Even in the grave dignity of her 
manner she was entirely woman. The occasional harshness 
of judgment or strength of prejudice which repelled him, were 
faults, indeed, but faults that would melt away in the light of 
a better knowledge of herself. She was at present in a posi- 
tion of fancied antagonism, perhaps not wholly by her own 
action. The few men who agreed with her gave her false ideas 
of their own sex : the others whom she knew misunderstood 
and misrepresented her. She thus stood alone, bearing the 
burden of aspirations, which, however extravagant, were splen- 
didly earnest and unselfish. 

Mrs. Blake's words came back to Woodbury's memory and 
awakened a vague confidence in his own hopes. She was too 
clear-eyed a woman to be easily mistaken in regard to one of 
her sex. Her bantering proposition might have been intended 
to convey a serious counsel. " A strong woman can only be 
overcome by superior strength." But how should this strength 
(supposing he possessed it) be exercised ? Should *he crush 
her masculine claims under a weight of argument ? Impossi- 
ble: if she were to be convinced at all, it must be by the 



354 HANNAH THUESTON: 

knowledge that comes through love. There was another form 
of strength, he thought a conquering magnetism of presence, 
a force of longing which supplants will, a warmth of passion 
which disarms resistance but such strength, again, is simply 
Love, and lie must love before he could exercise it. The ques- 
tion, therefore, was at last narrowed to this : should he cherish 
the interest he already felt until it grew to the passion he pre- 
figured, and leave to fate its return, free as became a woman 
or fettered with suspicious provisions ? 

This, however, was a question not so easy to decide. Were 
he sure of exciting a reciprocal interest, the venture, he felt, 
would be justified to his own heart; but nothing in her man- 
ner led him to suspect that she more than tolerated him in 
distinction to her former hostile attitude and there is no man 
of gentle nature but shrinks from the possibility of a failure. 
" Ah," said he, " I am not so young as I thought. A young 
man would not stop to consider, and doubt, and weigh proba- 
bilities. If I fail, my secret is in sacred keeping ; if I win, I 
must win every thing. Am I not trying to keep up a youthful 
faculty of self-illusion which is lost forever, by demanding an 
ideal perfection in woman ? No, no ! I must cease to cheat 
myself: I must not demand a warmer flame than I can give." 

Sometimes he attempted to thrust the subject from his 
mind. The deliberations in which he had indulged seemed to 
him cold, material, and unworthy the sanction of love. They 
had the effect, however, of making Hannah Thurston's image 
an abiding guest in his thoughts, and the very familiarity with 
his own doubts rendered them less formidable than at first. A 
life crowned with the bliss he passionately desired, might re- 
ward the trial. If it failed, his future could not be more bar- 
ren and lonely than it now loomed before him : how barren, 
how lonely, every sight of Bute's face constantly resuggested. 

The end of it all was a determination to seek Hannah 
Thurston's society to court a friendly intimacy, in which he 
should not allow his heart to be compromised. So far he 
might go with safety to himself, and in no case, according to 






A STORY OP AMERICAN LIFE. 355 

his views, could there be danger to her. His acquaintance 
with the widow, which had been kept up by an occasional 
brief visit, and the present condition of the latter' s health, gave 
him all the opportunity he needed. The Catawba grapes were 
already ripening on the trellises at Lakeside, and he would 
take the earliest bunches to the widow's cottage. 

The impression, in Ptolemy society, of a strong antagonism 
between himself and Hannah Thurston, was very general. 
Even Mrs. Waldo, whose opportunities of seeing both were 
best of all, fancied that their more cordial demeanor towards 
each other, in their later interviews, was only a tacitly under- 
stood armistice. Wood bury Avas aware of this impression, and 
determined not to contradict it for the present. 

Thus, tormented from without and within, impelled by an 
outcry of his nature that would not be silenced, without con- 
sciousness of love, he took the first step, knowing that it might 
lead him to love a woman whose ideas were repugnant to all 
his dreams of marriage and of domestic peace. 



356 HANNAH THURSTON: 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 

IN WHICH HANNAH THURSTON, ALSO, HAS HER TROUBLES. 

WHEN Woodbury made his first appearance at the cottage, 
the Widow Thurston, who had not seen him since his return 
from the Lakes, frankly expressed her pleasure in his society. 
It was one of her favorable days, and she was sitting in her 
well-cushioned rocking-chair, with her feet upon a stool. She 
had grown frightfully thin and pale during the summer, but 
the lines of physical pain had almost entirely passed away 
from her face. Her expression denoted great weakness and 
languor. The calm, resigned spirit which reigned in her eyes 
was only troubled, at times, when they rested on her daughter. 
She had concealed from the latter, as much as possible, the 
swiftness with which her vital force was diminishing, lest she 
should increase the care and anxiety which was beginning to 
tell upon her health. She knew that the end was not far off: 
she could measure its approach, and she acknowledged in her 
heart how welcome it would be, but for her daughter's sake. 

" It's very kind of thee to come, Friend Woodbury," said 
she. " I've been expecting thee before." 

" I ought to have come sooner," said he, " but there have 
been changes at Lakeside." 

" Yes, I know. The two guests that will not be kept out 
have come to thy home, as they come to the homes of others. 
We must be ready for either. The Lord sends them both." 

" Yes," said Woodbury, with a sigh, " but one of them is 
long in coming to me." The sweet serenity and truth of the 
old woman's words evoked a true reply. All that she said 
came from a heart too sincere for disguise, and spoke to his 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 357 

undisguised self. There would have been something approach- 
in g to sacrilege in an equivocal answer. 

She looked at him with a sad, serious inquiry in her glance. 
" I see thee's not hasty to open thy doors," she said, at 
last, " and it's well. There's always a blessing in store for 
them that wait. I pray that it may come to thee in the Lord's 
good time." 

" Amen !" he exclaimed, earnestly. An irresistible impulse? 
the next moment, led him to look a Hannah Thurston. She 
was setting in order the plants on the little flower-stand before 
the window, and her face was turned away from him, but there 
was an indefinable intentness in her attitude which told him 
that no word had escaped her ears. 

Presently she seated herself, and took part in the conversa- 
tion, which turned mainly upon Bute and his wife. The light 
from the south window fell upon her face, and Woodbury 
noticed that it had grown somewhat thinner and wore a weary ^ 
anxious expression. A pale violet shade had settled under the 
dark-gray eyes and the long lashes drooped their fringes. No 
latent defiance lurked in her features : her manner was grave, 
almost to sadness, and in her voice there was a gentle languor, 
like that which follows mental exhaustion. 

In all their previous interviews, Woodbury had never been 
able entirely to banish from his mind the consciousness of her 
exceptional position, as a woman. It had tinged, without his 
having suspected the fact, his demeanor towards her. Some- 
thing of the asserted independence of man to man had modi- 
fied the deferential gentleness of man to woman. She had, 
perhaps, felt this without being able to define it, for, though 
he had extorted her profound respect he had awakened in her 
a disposition scarcely warmer than she gave to abstract quali- 
ties. Now, however, she presented herself to him under a 
different aspect. He forgot her masculine aspirations, seeing 
in her only the faithful, anxious daughter, over whom the 
shadow of her approaching loss deepened from day to day. 
The former chill of his presence did not return, but in its place 



858 HANNAH THURSTON : 

a subtle warmth seemed to radiate from him. Before, his 
words had excited her intellect : now, they addressed them- 
selves to her feelings. As the conversation advanced, she re- 
covered her usual animation, yet still preserved the purely 
feminine character which he had addressed in her. The posi- 
tions which they had previously occupied were temporarily 
forgotten, and at parting each vaguely felt the existence of 
unsuspected qualities in the other. 

During this first visit, Hannah Thurston indulged without 
reserve, in the satisfaction which it gave to her. She always 
found it far more agreeable to like than to dislike. Wood- 
bury's lack of that enthusiasm which in her soul was an ever 
burning and mounting fire his cold, dispassionate power of 
judgment his tolerance of what she considered perverted 
habits of the most reprehensible character, and his indifference 
to those wants and wrongs of the race which continually appeal- 
ed to the Reformer's aid, had at first given her the impression 
that the basis of his character was hard and selfish. She had 
since modified this view, granting him the high attributes of 
truth and charity ; she had witnessed the manifestation of his 
physical and moral courage ; but his individuality still pre- 
served a cold, statuesque beauty. His mastery over himself, 
she supposed, extended to his intellectual passions and his 
affections. He would only be swayed by them so far as 
seemed to him rational and convenient. 

His words to her mother recalled to hei mind, she knew 
not why, the description of her own father's death. It was 
possible that an equal capacity for passion might here again be 
hidden under a cold, immovable manner. She had sounded, 
tolerably well, the natures of the men of whom she had seen 
most, during the past six or eight years, ard had found that 
their own unreserved protestations of feeling were the measure 
of their capacity to feel. There was no necessity, indeed, to 
throw a plummet into their streams, for they had egotistically 
set up their own Nilometers, and the depth of the current 
was indicated at the surface. She began to suspect, now, that 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 359 

she had been mistaken in judging Wood bury hy the same test. 
The thought, welcome as it was from a broad, humane point 
of view, nevertheless almost involved a personal humiliation. 
Her strong sense of justice commanded her to rectify the mis- 
take, while her recognition of it weakened her faith in her- 
self. 

In a few days Woodbury came again, and as before, on an 
errand of kindness to her mother. She saw that his visits gave 
pleasure to the latter, and for that reason alone it was her duty 
to desire them, but on this occasion she detected an independ- 
ent pleasure of her own at his appearance. A certain friendly 
familiarity seemed to be already established between them. 
She had been drawn into it, she scarcely knew how, and could 
not now withdraw, yet the consciousness of it began to agitate 
her in a singular way. A new power came from Woodbury's 
presence, surrounded and assailed her. It was not the chill of 
his unexcitable intellect, stinging her into a half-indignant re- 
sistance. It was a warm, seductive, indefinable magnetism, 
which inspired her with a feeling very much like terror. Its 
weight lay upon her for hours after he had gone. Whatever 
it was, its source, she feared, must lie in herself; he seemed 
utterly unconscious of any design to produce a particular im 
pression upon her. His manner was as frank and natural as 
ever : he conversed about the books which he or she had re- 
cently read, or on subjects of general interest, addressing much 
of his discourse to her mother rather than herself. She no- 
ticed, indeed, that he made no reference to the one question 
on which they differed so radically ; but a little reflection 
showed her that he had in no former case commenced the dis- 
cussion, nor had he ever been inclined to prolong it when 
started. 

Their talk turned for a while on the poets. Hannah Thurs- 
ton had but slight acquaintance with Tennyson, who was 
Woodbury's favorite among living English authors, and he 
promised to bring her the book. He repeated the stanzas de- 
scriptive of Jephtha's Daughter, in the "Dream of Fair 



360 HANNAH THUESTON: 

Women," the majestic rhythm and superb Hebrew spirit of 
which not only charmed her, but her mother also. The old 
woman had a natural, though very uncultivated taste for 
poetry. She enjoyed nothing which was purely imaginative : 
verse, for her, must have a devotional, or at least an ethical 
character. In rhythm, also her appreciation was limited. She 
delighted most in the stately march of the heroic measure, and 
next to that, in the impetuous rush of the dactylic. In youth 
her favorite poems had been the " Davidis" of Thomas Elwood, 
Pope's " Essay on Man," and the lamenting sing-song of Re- 
fine Weeks, a Nantucket poet, whom history has forgotten. 
The greater part of these works she knew by heart, and would 
often repeat in a monotonous chant, resembling that in which 
she had formerly preached. Hannah, however, had of late 
years somewhat improved her mother's taste by the careful 
selection of poetry of a better character, especially Milton's 
" Christmas Hymn," and the works of Thomson and Cow- 
per. 

Woodbury returned the very next day, bringing the prom- 
ised volumes. He was about to leave immediately, but the 
widow insisted on his remaining. 

" Do sit down a while, won't thee ?" said she. " I wish thee 
would read me something else : I like to hear thy voice." 

Woodbury could not refuse to comply. He sat down, 
turned over the leaves of the first volume, and finally selected 
the lovely idyll of " Dora," which he read with a pure, dis- 
tinct enunciation. Hannah Thurston, busy with her sewing at 
a little stand near the eastern window, listened intently. At 
the close she turned towards him with softened eyes, and ex- 
claimed : " How simple ! how beautiful !" 

" I'm greatly obliged to thee, Maxwell," said the widow, 
addressing Woodbury for the first time by his familiar name. 
"It is always pleasant," she added, smiling, "to an old 
woman, to receive a kindness from a young man." 

" But it ought to be the young man's pleasure, as it is his 
duty, to give it," he answered. " I am glad that you like my 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 361 

favorite author. I have brought along ' The Princess,' also, 
Miss Thurston : you have certainly heard of it ?" 

" Oh yes," said she, " I saw several critical notices of it 
when it was first published, and have always wished to 
tread it." 

" It gives a poetical view of a subject we have sometimes 
discussed," he added playfully, " and I am not quite sure that 
you will be satisfied with the close. It should not be read, 
however, as a serious argument on either side. Tennyson, I 
suspect, chose the subject for its picturesque effects, rather 
than from any intentional moral purpose. I confess I think he 
is right. We may find sermons in poems as we find them in 
stones, but one should be as unconscious of the fact as the 
other. It seems to me that all poetry which the author de- 
signs, in advance, to be excessively moral or pious, is more or 
less a failure." 

" Mr. Woodbury ! Do you really think so ?" exclaimed 
Hannah Thurston, in surprise. 

"Yes ; but the idea is not original with me. I picked it up 
somewhere, and finding it true, adopted it as my own. There 
was a fanciful illustration, if I recollect rightly that poetry is 
the blossom of Literature, not the fruit ; therefore that while 
it suggests the fruit while its very odor foretells the future 
flavor it must be content to be a blossom and nothing more. 
The meaning was this : that a moral may breathe through a 
poem from beginning to end, but must not be pi amply ex- 
pressed. I don't know the laws which govern the minds of 
poets, but I know when they give me most pleasure. Apply 
the test to yourself: I shall be interested to know the result. 
Here, for instance, is ' The Princess,' which, if it has a par- 
ticular moral, has one which you may possibly reject, but I am 
sure your enjoyment of pure poetry will not thereby be 
lessened." 

" I shall certainly read the book with all the more interest 
from what you have said," she frankly replied. " You have 
very much more literary cultivation than I, and perhaps it is 
16 



362 HANNAH THTJRSTON: 

presumptuous in me to dispute your opinion ; but my nature 
leads me to honor an earnest feeling for truth and humanity, 
even when its expression is not in accordance with literary 
laws." 

" I honor such a feeling also, whenever it is genuine, how- 
ever expressed," Woodbury- answered, "but I make a dis- 
tinction between the feeling and the expression. In other 
words, the cook may have an admirable character, and yet the 
roast may be spoiled. Pollok is considered orthodox and 
Byron heretical, but I am sure you prefer the ' Hebrew Melo- 
dies' to the " Course of Time.' " 

" Hannah, I guess thee'd better read the book first," said 
the widow, who did not perceive how the conversation had 
drifted away from its subject. " It is all the better, perhaps, 
if our friend differs a little from thee. When we agree in 
every thing, we don't learn much from one another." 

" You are quite right, Friend Thurston," said Woodbury, 
rising. " I should be mistaken in your daughter if she ac- 
cepted any opinion of mine, without first satisfying her own 
mind of its truth. Good-by !" 

He took the widow's hand with a courteous respect, and 
then extended his own to Hannah. Hers he held gently for a mo- 
ment while he said : *' Remember, I shall want to know what 
impression the poem makes on your mind. Will you tell me ?" 

" Thank you. I will tell you," she said. 

Strange to' say, the boldest eulogiums which had ever reached 
Hannah Thur-ston's ears, never came to them with so sweet a 
welcome as Woodbury's parting compliment. Nay, it was 
scarcely a compliment at all ; it was a simple recognition of 
that earnest seeking for truth which she never hesitated to 
claim for herself. Perhaps it was his supposed hostile attitude 
which gave the words their value, for our enemies always have 
us at a disadvantage when they begin to praise us. Politicians 
go into obscurity, and statesmen fall from their high places, 
ruined, not by the assaults but by the flatteries of the opposite 
party. 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 363 

She could no longer consider Woodbury in the light of an 
enemy. His presence, his words, his self-possessed manner 
failed to excite the old antagonism, which always marred het 
intellectual pleasure in his society. One by one the discord- 
ant elements in her own nature seemed to be withdrawn, or 
rather, she feared, were 'benumbed by some new power which 
he was beginning to manifest. She found, with dismay, that 
instead of seeking, as formerly, for weapons to combat his 
views, her mind rather inclined to the discovery of reasons for 
agreeing with them. It mattered fittle, perhaps, which course 
she adopted, so long as the result was Truth ; but the fact that 
she recognized the change as agreeable gave her uneasiness. 
It might be the commencement of a process of mental sub- 
jection the first meshes of a net of crafty reasoning, designed 
to ensnare her judgment and lead her away from the high aims 
she prized. Then, on the other hand, she reflected that such 
a process presupposed intention on Woodbury's part, and 
how could she reconcile it with his manly honesty, his open 
integrity of character ? Thus, the more enjoyment his visits 
gave her while they lasted, the greater the disturbance which 
they left behind. 

That new and indescribable effluence which his presence gave 
forth not only continued, but seemed to increase in power. 
Sometimes it affected her with a singular mixture of fascination 
and terror, creating a physical restlessness which it was almost 
impossible to subdue. An oppressive weight -lay upon her 
breast; her hands burned, and the nerves in every limb trem- 
bled with. a strange impulse to start up and fly. When, at night, 
in the seclusion of her chamber, she recalled this condition, her 
cheeks grew hot with angry shame of herself, and she clenched 
her hands with the determination to resist the return of such 
weakness. But even as she did so, she felt that her power of 
will had undergone a change. An insidious, corrosive doubt 
seemed to Tiave crept over the foundations of her mental life : 
the forms of faith, once firm and fair as Ionic pillars under the 
cloudless heaven, rocked and tottered as if with the first me 



364 HANNAH THTTRSTON : 

nacing throes of an earthquake. When she recalled her past 
labors for the sacred cause of Woman, a mocking demon now 
and then whispered to her that even in good there were the 
seeds of harm, and that she had estimated, in vanity, the fruits 
of her ministry. " God give me strength !" she whispered 
" strength to conquer doubt, strength to keep the truth for 
which I have lived and which must soon be my only life, 
strength to rise out of a shameful weakness which I cannot 
understand !" 

Then, ere she slept, a hope to which she desperately clung, 
came to smooth her uneasy pillow. Her own future life must 
differ from her present. The hour was not far off, she knew, 
when her quiet years in the cottage must come to an end. 
She could not shut her eyes to the fact that her mother's time 
on earth was short ; and short as it was, she would not cloud 
it by anxiety for the lonely existence beyond it. She resolute- 
ly thrust her own future from her mind, but it was nevertheless 
always present in a vague, hovering form. The uncertainty of 
her fate, she now thought, the dread anticipation of coming 
sorrow had shaken and unnerved her. No doubt her old, 
steadfast self-reliance and self-confidence would assert them- 
selves, after the period of trial had been passed. She must only 
have patience, for the doubts which she could not now answer 
would then surely be solved. With this consolation at her 
heart with a determination to possess patience, which she 
found much more easy than the attempt to possess herself of 
will, she would close her aching eyes and court the refreshing 
oblivion of sleep. 

But sleep did not always come at her call. That idea of 
the sad, solitary future, so near at hand, would not be exor- 
cised. If she repelled it, it came back again in company with 
a still more terrible ghost of the Past her early but now 
hopeless dream of love. When she tried to call that dream a 
delusion, all the forces of her nature gave her the lie all the 
fibres of her heart, trembling in divinest harmony under the 
ouch of the tormenting angel, betrayed her, despairingly, to 



A STOKT OF AMERICAN LIFE. 365 

her own self. The crown of independence which she had won 
bruised her brows ; the throne which she claimed was carved 
of ice ; the hands of her sister women, toiling in the same 
path, were grateful in their help, but no positive pulse of 
strength throbbed from them to her heart. The arm which 
alone could stay her must have firmer muscle than a woman's ; 
it must uphold as well as clasp. Why did Heaven give her 
the dream when it must be forever vain ? Where was the 
man at the same time tender enough to love, strong enough to 
protect and assist, and just enough to acknowledge the equal 
rights of woman ? Alas ! nowhere in the world. She could, 
not figure to _herself his features ; he was a far-off unattaina- 
ble idea, only ; but a secret whisper, deep in the sacredest 
shrine of her soul, told her that if he indeed existed, if he 
should find his way to her, if the pillow under her cheek were 
his breast, if his arms held her fast in the happy subjection 
of love but no, the picture was not to be endured. It was 
a bliss, more terrible in its hopelessness, than the most awful 
grief in its certainty. She shuddered and clasped her hands 
crushingly together, as with the strength of desperation, she 
drove it from her bosom. 

Had her life been less secluded, the traces of her internal 
struggles must have been detected by others. Her mother, 
indeed, noticed an unusual restlessness in her manner, but at- 
tributed it to care for her own condition. With the ex- 
ception of Mrs. Waldo, they saw but few persons habitually. 
Miss Sophia Stevenson or even Mrs. Lemuel Styles occasionally 
called, and the widow always made use of these occasions to 
persuade Hannah to restore herself by a walk in the open air. 
When the former found that their visits were thus put to good 
service, they benevolently agreed to come regularly. The 
relief she thus obtained, in a double sense, cheered and invig- 
orated Hannah Thurston. Her favorite walk, out the Mulli- 
gansville road, to the meadows of East Atauga Creek, took 
her in a quarter of an hour from the primly fenced lots and 
stiff houses of the village to the blossoming banks of the 



366 HANNAH THURSTON : 

winding stream, to the sweet breath of the scented grass, and 
the tangled thickets of alder, over which bittersweet and 
clematis ran riot and strove for the monopoly of support. 
Here, all her vague mental troubles died away like the memory 
of an oppressive dream ; she drew resignation from every as- 
pect of Nature, and confidence in herself from the crowding 
associations of the Past which the landscape inspired. 

Mrs. Waldo, of course, soon became aware of Woodbury's fre- 
quent visits. He had made no secret of them, as he always called 
at the Parsonage at the same time, and she had shared equally 
in the ripening vintage of Lakeside. But he had spoken much 
more of the Widow Thurston than of her daughter, and the 
former had been equally free in expressing her pleasure at his 
visits, so that Mrs. Waldo never doubted the continuance of 
the old antagonism between Hannah and Woodbury. Their 
reciprocal silence in relation to each other confirmed her in 
this supposition. She was sincerely vexed at a dislike which 
seemed not only unreasonable, but unnatural, and grew so im- 
patient at the delayed conciliation that she finally spoke her 
mind on the subject. 

"Well, Hannah," she said, one day, when Woodbury's 
name had been incidentally mentioned, " I really think it is time 
that you and he should practise a little charity towards each 
other. I've been waiting, and waiting, to see your prejudices 
begin to wear away, now that you know him better. You 
can't think how it worries me that two of my best friends, 
who are so right and sensible in all other acts of their lives, 
should be so stubbornly set against each other." 

" Prejudices ? Does lie think I am stubbornly set against 
him ?" Hannah Thurston crie'd, the warm color mounting into 
her face. 

"Not he ! He says nothing about you, and that's the worst 
of it. You say nothing about him, either. But anybody can 
see it. There, I've vexed you, and I suppose I ought not to 
have opened my mouth, but I love you so dearly, Hannah I 
love him, too, as a dear friend and I can't for the life of me 



A STOET OP AMERICAN LIFE. 867 

see v^hy you are blind to the truth and goodness in each other 
thai I see in both of you." 

Hore Mrs. Waldo bent over her and kissed her cheek as a 
mother might have done. The color faded from Hannah 
Thurston's face, as she answered: "I know you are a dear, 
good friend, and as such you cannot vex me. I do not know 
whether you have mistaken Mr. Woodbury's feelings : you 
certainly have mistaken mine. I did his character, at first, in- 
justice, I will confess. Perhaps I may have had a prejudice 
against him, but I am not aware ^that I have ojie now. I 
honor him as a noble-minded, just, and unselfish man. We 
have different views of life, but in this respect he has taught 
me, by his tolerance towards me, to be at least equally tolerant 
towards him." 

"You make me happy!" cried Mrs. Waldo, in unfeigned 
delight ; but the next instant she added, with a sigh: "But, in 
spite of all, you don't seem to me like friends." 

This explanation added another trouble to Hannah Thurs- 
ton's mind. It was very possible that Woodbury suspected 
her of cherishing an unfriendly prejudice against him. She 
had assuredly given him cause for such a suspicion, and if the 
one woman in Ptolemy, who, after her mother, knew her best, 
had received this impression, it would not be strange if he 
shared it. In such case, what gentle consideration, what for- 
giving kindness had he not exhibited towards her ? What 
other man of her acquaintance would have acted with the same 
magnanimity? Was it not her duty to undeceive him not 
by words, but by meeting him frankly and gratefully by ex- 
hibiting to him, in some indirect way, her confidence in his 
nobility of character ? 

Thus, every thing conspired to make him the centre of her 
thoughts, and the more she struggled to regain her freedom, 
the more helplessly she entangled herself in the web which his 
presence had spun around her. 



368 HANNAH THTJRSTON: 



CHAPTER XXIX. 

IN WHICH A CRISIS APPROACHES. 

ONE cannot play with fire without burning one's fingers. 
Woodbury supposed that he was pursuing an experiment, 
which might at any moment be relinquished, long after a deep 
and irresistible interest in its object had taken full possession 
of him. Seeing Hannah Thurston only as a daughter con- 
versing with her only as a woman her other character ceased 
to be habitually present to his mind. After a few visits, the 
question which he asked himself was not : " Will I be able to 
love her ?" but : " Will I be able to make her love me ?" Of 
his own' ability to answer the former question he was entirely 
satisfied, though he steadily denied to himself the present ex- 
istence of passion. He acknowledged that her attraction for 
him had greatly strengthened that he detected a new pleasure 
in her society that she was not unfemininely cold and hard, 
as he had feared, but at least gentle and tender : yet, with all 
this knowledge, there came no passionate, perturbing thrill to 
his heart, such as once had heralded the approach of love. She 
had now a permanent place in his thoughts, it is true : he 
c ould scarcely have shut her out, if he had wished : and all 
the new knowledge which he had acquired prompted him to 
stake his rising hopes upon one courageous throw, and trust 
the future, if he gained it, to the deeper and truer develop- 
ment of her nature which would follow. 

At the next visit which he paid to the cottage after Mrs. 
Waldo's half-reproachful complaint, the friendly warmth with 
which Hannah Thurston received him sent a delicious throb 
of sweetness to his heart. Poor Hannah ! In her anxiety to 



A STOEY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 369 

be just, she had totally forgotten what her treatment of Seth 
Wattles, from a similar impulse, had brought upon her. She 
only saw, in WoodlWy's face, the grateful recognition of her 
manner towards him, and her conscience became quiet at once. 
The key-note struck at greeting gave its character to the inter- 
view, which Woodbury prolonged much beyond his usual 
habit. He had never been so attractive, but at the same time, 
his presence had never before caused her such vague alarm. 
All the cold indifference, which she had once imagined to be 
his predominant characteristic, had. melted like a snow-wreath 
in the sunshine : a soft, warm, pliant grace diffused itself over 
his features and form, and a happy under-current of feeling 
made itself heard in his lightest words. He drew her genuine 
self to the light, before she suspected how much she had 
allowed him to see : she, who had resolved that he should only 
know her in her strength, had made a voluntary confession of 
her weakness ! 

Hannah Thurston was proud as she was pure, and this weird 
and dangerous power in the man, wounded as well as dis- 
turbed her. She felt sure that he exercised it unconsciously, 
and therefore he was not to be blamed ; but it assailed her in- 
dividual freedom her coveted independence of other minds 
none the less. It was weakness to shrink from the encounter: 
it was humiliation to acknowledge, as she must, that her 
powers of resistance diminished with each attack. 

Woodbury rode home that evening very slowly. For the 
first time since Bute's marriage, as he looked across the mead- 
ows to a dusky white speck that glimmered from the knoll in 
the darkening twilight, there was no pang at his heart. " I 
foresee," he said to himself, " that if I do not take care, I shall 
love this girl madly and passionately. I know her now in her 
true tenderness and purity ; I see what a wealth of woman 
hood is hidden under her mistaken aims. But is she not too 
loftily pure too ideal in her aspirations for my winning ? 
Can she bear the knowledge of my life ? I cannot spare her 
the test. If she comes to me at last, it must be with eveey 
16* 



370 HANNAH THUBSTON : 

veil of the Past lifted. There dare be no mystery between 
us no skeleton in our cupboard. If she were less true, less 
noble but no, there can be no real sacrament of marriage, 
without previous confession. I am laying the basis of relations 
that stretch beyond this life. It would be a greater wrong to 
shrink, for her sake, than for my own. It must come to this, 
and God give her strength of heart equal to her strength of 
mind!" 

Woodbury felt that her relation to him had changed, and 
he could estimate, very nearly, the character which it had now 
assumed. Of her struggles with herself of the painful im- 
pression which his visits left behind he had, of course, not 
the slightest presentiment. He knew, however, that no sus- 
picion of his feelings had entered her breast, and he had 
reasons of his own for desiring that she should remain inno- 
cent of their existence, for the present. His plans, here, came 
to an end, for the change in himself interposed an anxiety 
which obscured his thoughts. He had reached the point where 
all calculation fails, and where the strongest man, if his pas- 
sion be genuine, must place his destiny in the hands of 
Chance. 

But there is, fortunately, a special chance provided for cases 
of this kind. All the moods of Nature, all the little accidents 
of life, become the allies of love. When the lover, looking 
back from his post of assured fortune over the steps by which 
he attained it, thinks : " Had it not been for such or such a 
circumstance, I might have wholly missed my happiness," he 
does not recognize that all the powers of the earth and air 
were really in league with him that his success was not the 
miracle he supposed, but that his failure would have been. It 
is well, however, that this delusion should come to silence the 
voice of pride, and temper his heart with a grateful humility : 
for him it is necessary that " fear and sorrow fan the fire of 

joy." 

Woodbury had no sooner intrusted to Chance the further 
development of his fat?, than Chance generously requited the 



A STOEY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 371 

trust. It was certainly a wonderful coincidence that, as he 
walked into Ptolemy on a golden afternoon in late September, 
quite uncertain whether he should this time call at the widow's 
cottage, he should meet Hannah Thurs.ton on foot, just at the 
junction of the Anacreon and Mulligansville highways. It 
was Miss Sophia Stevenson's day for relieving her, and she had 
gone out for her accustomed walk up the banks of the stream. 

As Woodbury lifted his hat to greet her, his face brightened 
with a pleasure which he did not now care to conceal. There 
was a hearty, confiding warmth in .the grasp of his hand, as he 
stood face to face, looking into her clear, dark-gray eyes with 
an expression as frank and. unembarrassed as a boy's. It was 
this transparent warmth and frankness which swept away her 
cautious resolves at a touch. In spite of herself, she felt that 
an intimate friendship was fast growing up between them, and 
she knew not why the consciousness of it should make her so 
uneasy. There was surely no reproach to her in the fact that 
their ideas and habits were so different ; there was none of 
her friends with whom she did not differ on points more or 
^ss important. The current setting towards her was pure 
and crystal-clear, yet she drew back from it as from the rush 
of a dark and turbid torrent. 

" Well-met !" cried Woodbury, with a familiar playfulness. 
" We are both of one mind to-day, and what a day for out-of- 
doors ! I am glad you are able to possess a part of it ; your 
mother is better, I hope ?" * 

" She is much as usual, and I should not have left her, but 
for the kindness of a friend who comes regularly on this day 
of the week to take my place for an hour or two." 

" Have you this relief but once in seven days ?" 

" Oh, no. Mrs. Styles comes on Tuesdays, and those two 
days, I find, are sufficient for my needs. Mrs. Waldo would 
relieve me every afternoon if I would allow her." 

" If you are half as little inclined for lonely walks as I am," 
said Woodbury, " you will not refuse my companionship to- 
day. I see you are going out the eastern road." 



372 HANNAH THUKSTON . 

"My favorite walk," she answered, "is in the meadows 
yonder. It is the wildest and most secluded spot in the neigh- 
borhood of the village." 

" Ah, I have noticed, from the road, in passing, the beauty 
of those elms and clumps of alder, and the picturesque curves 
of the creek. I should like to make a nearer acquaintance 
with them. Do you feel sufficient confidence in my apprecia- 
tion of Nature to perform the introduction?" 

" Nature is not exclusive," said she, adopting his gay tone, 
" and if she were, I think she could not exclude you, who have 
known her in her royal moods, from so simple and unpretend- 
ing a landscape as this." 

" The comparison is good," he answered, walking onward 
by her side, " but you have drawn the wrong inference. I 
find that every landscape has an individual character. The 
royal moods, as you rightly term them, may impose upon us, 
like human royalty; but the fact that you have been presented 
at Court does not necessarily cause the humblest man to open 
his heart to you. What is it to yonder alder thickets that I 
have looked on the Himalayas ? What does East Atauga Creek 
care for the fact that I have floated on the Ganges ? If the 
scene has a soul at all, it will recognize every one of your foot- 
steps, and turn a cold shoulder to me, if I come with any such 
pretensions." 

Hannah Thurston laughed at the easy adroitness with which 
he had taken up and appliefl her words. It was a light, grace- 
ful play of intellect to which she was unaccustomed which, 
indeed, a year previous, would have struck her as trivial and 
unworthy an earnest mind. But she had learned something 
in that time. Her own mind was no longer content to move 
in its former rigid channels; she acknowledged the cheerful 
brightness which a sunbeam of fancy can diffuse over the sober 
coloring of thought. 

He let down the movable rails from the panel of fence 
which gave admittance into the meadow, and put them up 
again after they had entered. The turf was thick and dry, 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 373 

with a delightful elasticity which lifted the feet where they 
pressed it. A few paces brought them to the edge of the belt 
of thickets, or rather islands of lofty shrubbery, between which 
the cattle had worn paths, and which here and there enclosed 
little peninsulas of grass and mint, embraced by the swift 
.stream. The tall autumnal flowers, yellow and dusky pur- 
ple, bloomed on all sides, and bunches of the lovely fringed 
gentian, blue as a wave of the Mediterranean, were set among 
the ripe grass like sapphires in gold. The elms which at in- 
tervals towered over this picturesque jungle, had grown up 
since the valley-bottom was cleared, and no neighboring trees 
had marred the superb symmetry of their limbs. 

Threading the winding paths to the brink of the stream, or 
back again to the open meadow, as the glimpses through the 
labyrinth enticed them, they slowly wandered away from the 
road. Woodbury was not ashamed to show his delight in 
every new fragment of landscape which their exploration dis- 
closed, and Miss Thurston was thus led to make him acquainted 
with her own selected gallery of pictures, although her exclu- 
sive right of possession to them thereby passed away forever. 

Across one of the bare, grassy peninsulas between the thicket 
and the stream lay a huge log which the spring freshet had stolen 
from some saw-mill far up the valley. Beyond it, the watery 
windings ceased for a hundred yards or more, opening a space 
for the hazy hills in the distance to show their purple crests. 
Otherwise, the spot was wholly secluded : there was not a 
dwelling in sight, nor even a fence, to recall the vicinity of 
human life. This was the enticing limit of Hannah Thurston's 
walks. She had not intended to go so far to-day, but "a 
spirit in her feet" brought her to the place before she was 
a wave. 

" Ah !" cried Woodbury, as they emerged from the tangled 
paths, " I see that you are recognized here. Nature has inten- 
tionally placed this seat for you at the very spot where you 
'have at once the sight of the hills and the sound of the water. 
How musical it is, just at this point ! I know you sing here, 



374 HANNAH THUKSTON: 



sometimes : you cannot help it, with such an accompani- 
ment," 

She did not answer, but a flitting smile betrayed her assent, 
They took their seats on the log, as if by a silent understand- 
ing. The liquid gossip of the stream, in which many voices 
seemed to mingle in shades of tone so delicate that the ear 
lost, as soon as it caught them, sounded lullingly at their feet. 
Now and then a golden leaf dropped from the overhanging 
elm, and quivered slantwise to the ground. 

" Ah, that reminds me," said Woodbury, finally breaking 
the peaceful, entrancing silence "one of those exquisite songs 
in ' The Princess' came into my head. Have you read the 
book? You promised to tell me what impression it made 
upon you." 

" Your judgment is correct, so far," she answered, " that it 
is poetry, not argument. But it could never have been writ- 
ten by one who believes in the just rights of woman. In the 
first place, the Princess has a very faulty view of those rights, 
and in the second place she adopts apian to secure them which 
is entirely impracticable. If the book had been written for a 
serious purpose, I should have been disappointed ; but, taking 
it for what it is, it has given me very great pleasure." 

'' You say the Princess's plan of educating her sex to inde- 
pendence is impracticable; yet pardon me if I have misunder- 
stood you you seem to attribute your subjection to the influ- 
ence of man an influence which must continue to exercise the 
same power it ever has. What plan would you substitute for 
hers?" 

"I do not know," she answered, hesitatingly; "I can only 
hope and believe that the Truth must finally vindicate itself. 
I have never aimed at any thing more than to assert it." . 

"Then you do not place yourself in an attitude hostile to 
man?" he asked. 

Hannah Thurston was embarrassed for a moment, but her 
frankness conquered. " I fear, indeed, that I have done so," 
she said. " There have been times when a cruel attack has 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 3^5 

I 

driven me to resistance. You can scarcely appreciate our 
position, Mr. Woodbury. We could bear open and honorable 
hostility, but the conventionalities which protect us against 
that offer us no defence from sneers and ridicule. The very 
term applied to us * strong-minded' implies that weak minds 
are our natural and appropriate inheritance. It is in human 
nature, I think, to forgive honest enmity sooner than covert 
contempt." 

" Would it satisfy you that the sincerity and unselfishness 
of your aims are honored, though 4he aims themselves are 
accounted mistaken." 

" It is all we could ask now !" she exclaimed, her eyes grow- 
ing darker and brighter, and her voice thrilling with its earnest 
sweetness. " But who would give us that much ?" 

"/would," said Woodbury, quietly. "Will you pardon 
:ne for saying that it has seemed to me, until recently, as if 
you suspected me of an active hostility which I have really 
never felt. My opinions are the result of my experience of 
men, and you cannot wonder if they differ from yours. I 
should be very wrong to arrogate to myself any natural supe- 
riority over you. I think there never can be any difficulty in 
determining the relative rights of the sexes, when they truly 
understand and respect each other. I can unite with you in 
desiring reciprocal knowledge and reciprocal honor. If that 
shall be attained, will you trust to the result ?" 

" Forgive me : I did misunderstand you," she said, not 
answering his last question. 

A pause ensued. The stream gurgled on, and the purple 
hills smiled through the gaps in the autumnal foliage. " Do 
you believe that Ida was happier with the Prince, supposing 
he were faithful to the picture he drew, than if she had re- 
mained at the head of her college ?" he suddenly asked. 

" You will acquit me of hostility to your sex when I say 'Yes.' 
The Prince promised her equality, not subjection. It is sad 
that the noble and eloquent close of the poem should be its 
most imaginative part." 



376 HANNAH THTJESTON: 

-. 

The tone of mournful unbelief in her voice fired Woodbury's 
blood. His heart protested against her words and demanded 
to be heard. The deepening intimacy of their talk had brought 
him to that verge of frankness where the sanctities of feeling, 
which hide themselves from the gaze of the world, steal up to 
the light and boldly reveal their features. "No," he said, warm- 
ly and earnestly, " the picture is not imaginative. Its counter- 
part exists in the heart of every true man. There can be no 
ideal perfection in marriage because there is none in life ; but 
it can, and should, embody the tenderest affection, the deepest 
trust, the divinest charity, and the purest faith which human 
mature is capable of manifesting. I, for one man, found my own 
dream in the words of the Prince. I have not remained un- 
married from a selfish idea of independence or from a want of 
reverence for woman. Because I hold her so high, because I 
Beek to set her side by side with me in love and duty and con- 
fidence, I cannot profane her and myself by an imperfect union. 
I do not understand love without the most absolute mutual 
knowledge, and a trust so complete that there can be no ques- 
tion of rights on either side. Where that is given, man will 
never withhold, nor will woman demand, what she should or 
should not possess. That is my dream of marriage, and it is 
not a dream too high for attainment in this life !" 

The sight of Hannah Thurston's face compelled him to 
pause. She was deadly pale, and trembled visibly. The mo- 
ment he ceased speaking, she rose from her seat, and, after 
mechanically plucking some twigs of the berried bittersweet, 
said : " It is time for me to return." 

Woodbury had not intended to say so much, and was fear- 
ful, at first, that his impassioned manner had suggested the 
secret he still determined to hide. In that case, she evidently 
desired to escape its utterance, but .he had a presentiment that 
her agitation was owing to a different cause. Could it be 
that he had awakened the memory of some experience of love 
through which she had passed ? After the first jealous doubt 
which this thought inspired, it presented itself to his mind as 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 377 

a relief. THe duty which pressed upon him would be more 
lightly performed ; the test to which he must first subject 
her would be surer of success. 

As they threaded the embowered paths on their homeward 
way, he said to her, gravely, but cheerfully : " You see, Miss 
Thurston, your doubt of my sex has forced me to show myself 
to you as I am, in one respect. But I will not regret the con- 
fession, unless you should think it intrusive." 

" Believe'me," she answered, " I know how to value it. 
You have made me ashamed of my unbelief." 

" And you have confirmed me in my belief. This is a sub- 
ject which neither man nor woman can rightly interpret, 
alone. Why should we never speak of that which is most 
vital in our lives ? Here, indeed, we are governed by con- 
ventional ideas, springing from a want of truth and purity. 
But a man is always ennobled by allowing a noble woman to 
look into his heart. Do you recollect my story about the 
help Mrs. Blake gave me, under awkward circumstances, 
before her marriage ?" 

"Perfectly. It was that story which made me wish to 
know her. What an admirable woman she is !" 

" Admirable, indeed !" Woodbury exclaimed. " That was 
not the only, nor the best help she gave me. I learned from 
her that women, when they are capable of friendship don't 
misunderstand me, I should say the same thing of men are 
the most devoted friends in the world. She is the only con- 
soling figure in an episode of my life which had a great influ- 
ence upon my fate. The story is long since at an end, but I 
should like to tell it to you, -some time." 

" If you are willing to do so, I shall be glad to hear another 
instance of Mrs. Blake's kindness." 

" Not only that," Woodbury continued, " but still another 
portion of my history. I will not press my confidence upon 
you, but I shall be glad, very glad, if you will kindly consent 
to receive it. Some things in my life suggest questions which 
I have tried to answer, and cannot. I must have a woman's 



378 HANNAH THTTBSTON: 

help. I know you are all truth and candor, and' I am willing 
to place my doubts in your hands." 

He spoke earnestly and eagerly, walking by her side, but 
with eyes fixed upon the ground. His words produced in 
her a feeling of interest and curiosity, under which lurked a 
singular reluctance. She was still unnerved by her former 
agitation. " Why should you place such confidence in me?" 
she at length faltered. " You have other friends who deserve 
it better." * - 

" We cannot always explain our instincts," he answered. 
" I must tell you, and you alone. If I am to have help in 
these doubts, it is you who can give it." 

His words seized her and held her powerless. Her Quaker 
blood still acknowledged the authority of those mysterious 
impulses which are truer than reason, because they come from 
a deeper source. He spoke with a conviction from which 
there was no appeal, and the words of refusal vanished from 
her lips and from her heart. 

" Tell me, then," she said. " I will do my best. I hope I 
may be able to help you." 

He took her hand and held it a moment, with a warm pres- 
sure. " God bless you !" was all he said. 

They silently returned up the road. On reaching the gate 
of the cottage, he took leave of her, saying : " You will have 
my story to-morrow." His face was earnest and troubled ; 
it denoted the presence of a mystery, the character of which 
she could not surmise. 

On entering the cottage, she first went up-stairs to her own 
room. She had a sensation of some strange expression having 
come over her face, which must be banished from it before she 
could meet her mother. She must have five minutes alone to 
think upon what had passed, before she could temporarily put 
it away from her mind. But her thoughts were an indistinct 
chaos, through which only two palpable sensations crossed each 
other as they moved to and fro one of unreasoning joy, one 
of equally unreasoning terror. What either of them portend- 



A STOBY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 379 

ed she could not guess. She only felt that there was no stable 
point to which she could cling, but the very base of her being 
seemed to shift as her thoughts pierced down to it. 

Her eyes fell upon the volume of " The Princess," which lay 
upon the little table beside her bed. She took it up with a 
sudden desire to read again the closing scene, where the 
heroine lays her masculine ambition in the hands of love. The 
book opened of itself, at another page : the first words ar- 
rested her eye and she read, involuntarily : 

" Ask me no more : the moon may draw the sea, 

The cloud may stoop from heaven and take the shape, 
With fold on fold, of mountain and of cape, 
But oh, too fond, when have I answered thee ? 

Ask me no more 

"Ask me no more: what answer could I give? 
I love not hollow cheek and fading eye, 
Yet oh, my friend, I would not -have thee die : 
Ask me no more, lest I should bid thee live ; 

Ask me no more. 

" Ask me no more : thy fate and mine are sealed. 
I strove against the stream, and strove in vain : 
Let the great river bear me to the main ! 
No more, dear love, for at a touch I yield 

Ask me no more." 

The weird, uncontrollable power which had taken possession 
of her reached its climax. She threw down the book and 
burst into tears. 



THUKSTON: 



CHAPTER XXX. 

MR. WOODBURY'S CONFESSION. 

TOWARDS evening, on Saturday, Bute called at the cottage, 
and after inquiring concerning the widow's condition, and 
giving, in return, a most enthusiastic report of Carrie's ac- 
complishments, he produced a package, with the remark : 

" Here, Miss Hannah, 's a book that Mr. Max. give me for 
you. He says you needn't be in a hurry to send any of 'em 
back. He got a new lot from New York yisterday." 

She laid it aside until night. It was late before her mother 
slept and she could be certain of an hour, alone, and secure 
from interruption. When at last all was quiet and the fire 
was burning low on the hearth, and the little clock ticked like 
a strong pulse of health, in mockery of the fading life in the 
bosom of the dear invalid in the next room, she took the book 
in her hands. She turned it over first and examined the paper 
wrapping, as if that might suggest the nature of the unknown 
contents; then slowly untied the string and unfolded the 
paper. When the book appeared, she first looked at the back ; 
it was Ware's " Zenobia", a work she had long desired to 
possess. A thick letter slipped out from between the blank 
] eaves and fell on her lap. On the envelope was her name 
only " Hannah Thurston" in a clear, firm, masculine hand. 
She laid the volume aside, broke the seal and read the letter 
through from beginning to end : 

"DEAR Miss THURSTON: I know how much I have asked 
of you in begging permission to write, for your eye, the story 
which follows. Therefore I have not allowed myself to stand 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 381 

shivering on the brink of a plunge which I have determined 
to make, or to postpone it, from the fear that the venture of 
confidence which I now send out will come to shipwreck. 
Since I have learned to appreciate the truth and nobleness of 
your nature since I have dared to hope that you honor me 
with a friendly regard most of all, since I find that the feel- 
ings which I recognize as the most intimate and sacred portion 
of myself seek expression in your presence, I am forced to 
make you a participant in the knowledge of my life. Whether 
it be that melancholy knowledge which a tender human charity 
takes under its protecting wing and which thenceforward 
sleeps calmly in some shadowy corner of memory, or that evil 
knowledge which torments because it cannot be forgotten, I 
am not able to foresee. I will say nothing, in advance, to 
secure a single feeling of sympathy or consideration which 
your own nature would not spontaneously prompt you to give. 
I know that in this step I may not be acting the part of a 
friend ; but, whatever consequences may follow it, I entreat 
you to believe that there is no trouble which I would not 
voluntarily take upon myself, rather than inflict upon you a 
moment's unnecessary pain. 

" Have you ever, in some impartial scrutiny of self, dis- 
covered to what extent your views of Woman, and your aspi- 
rations in her behalf, were drawn from your own nature ? Are 
you not inclined to listen to your own voice as if it were the 
collective voice of your sex ? If so, you may to some extent, 
accept me as an interpretation of Man. I am neither better 
nor worse than the general average of men. My principal ad- 
vantages are, that I was most carefully and judiciously 
educated, and that my opportunities of knowing mankind have 
been greater than is usual. A conscientious study of human 
nature ought to be the basis of all theories of reform. I think 
you will agree with me, thus far ; and therefore, however my 
present confession may change your future relations towards 
me, I shall have, at least, the partial consolation of knowing 
that I have added something to your knowledge. 



382 HAKNAH THUKSTON: 



"Let me add only this, before I commence my narrative 
that it treats entirely of the occurrences of my life, which have 
brought me near to woman through my emotions. It is my 
experience of the sex, so far as that experience has taken a 
deeper hold on my heart. You are not so cold and unsympa- 
thetic as to repel the subject. The instinct which has led me 
to choose you as the recipient of my confidence cannot be 
false. That same instinct tells me that I shall neither withhold 
nor seek to extenuate whatever directly concerns myself. I 
dare not do either. 

" My nature was once not so calm and self-subdued as it 
may seem to you now. As a youth I was ardent, impetuous, 
and easily controlled by my feelings. In the heart of almost 
any boy, from seventeen to twenty, there is a train laid, and 
waiting for the match. As I approached the latter age, mine 
was kindled by a, girl two years younger than myself, the 
daughter of a friend of my father. I suppose all early passions 
have very much the same character : they are intense, absorb- 
ing, unreasoning, but generally shallow, not from want of sin- 
cerity but from want of development. The mutual attachment 
necessarily showed itself, and was tacitly permitted, but with- 
out any express engagement. I had never surprised her with 
any sudden declaration of love : our relation had gradually 
grown into existence, and we were both so happy therein that 
we did not need to question and discuss our feelings. In fact, 
we were rarely sufficiently alone to have allowed of such con- 
fidences; but we sought each other in society or in our re- 
spective family circles and created for ourselves a half-privacy 
in the presence of others. Nothing seemed more certain to 
either of us than that our fates were already united, for we 
accepted the tolerance of our attachment as a sanction of its 
future seal upon our lives. 

"After my father's failure and death, however, I discovered, 
with bitterness of heart, that it was not alone my pecuniary 
prospects which had changed, Her father, a shrewd, hard 
man of business, was one of the very few who prospered in a 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 383 

season of general ruin who perhaps foresaw the crash and 
prepared himself to take advantage of the splendid opportuni- 
ties which it offered. His wealth was doubled, probably 
trebled, in a year : he won advantages which compelled the 
most exclusive circles to receive him, and his family dropped 
their old associations as fast as they familiarized themselves 
with the new. I saw this change, at first, without the slightest 
misgiving : my faith in human nature was warm and fresh, 
and the satisfied bliss of my affections disposed me to judge 
all men kindly. I only refrained from asking the father's as- 
sistance in my straits, from a feeling of delicacy, not because 
I had any suspicion that it would not be given. Little by 
little, however, the conviction forced itself upon my mind that 
I was no longer a welcome visitor at the house : I was dropped 
from the list of guests invited to dinners and entertainments, 
and my reception became cold and constrained. From the 
sadness and uneasiness on the face of my beloved, I saw that 
she was suffering for my sake, and on questioning her she did 
not deny that she had been urged to give me up. She assured 
me, nevertheless, of her own constancy, and exhorted me to 
have patience until my prospects should improve. 

" It was at this juncture that Miss Remington (Mrs. Blake, 
you will remember) became a comforting angel to both of us. 
She had remarked our attachment from its first stage, and with 
her profound scorn of the pretensions of wealth, she deter- 
mined to assist the course of true love. We met, as if by 
accident, at her father's house, and she generally contrived that 
we should have a few minutes alone. Thus, several months 
passed away. My position had not advanced, because I had 
every thing to learn when I first took it, but I began to have 
more confidence in myself, and remained cheerful and hopeful. 
I was not disturbed by the fact that my beloved sometimes 
failed to keep her appointments, but I could not help remark- 
ing, now, that when she did appear, she seemed ill at ease and 
strove to make the interviews as short as possible. 

" There was something in Miss Remington's manner, also, 



384 HANNAH THURSTON: 

which I could not understand. I missed the frank, hearty 
sympathy with faithful and persecuted love, which she had 
given me. A restless anxiety, pointing to one thing or 
another, but never towards the truth, took possession of me. 
One day on making my pre-arranged call, I found Miss Rem- 
ington alone. Her face was grave and sad. She saw my look 
of disappointment : she allowed me to walk impatiently up and 
down the room three or four times, then she arose and seized 
me by both hands. ' Am I mistaken in you ?' she asked : 
'Are you yet a man?' 'I am trying to prove it,' I answered. 
'Then,' she said, 'prove it to me. If you were to have a 
tooth drawn, would you turn back a dozen times from 
the dentist's door and bear the ache a day longer, or would 
you go in at once and have it out?' I sat down, chilled to 
the heart, and said, desperately : ' I am ready for the opera- 
tion!' She smiled, but there were tears of pity in her eyes. 
She told me as kindly and tenderly as possible, all she had 
learned : that the girl who possessed my unquestioning faith 
was unworthy of the gift: that the splendors of the new circle 
into which she had ascended had become indispensable to her : 
that her attachment to me was now a simple embarrassment : 
that her beauty had attracted wealthy admirers, one of whom, 
a shallow-brained egotist, was reported to be especially favored 
by her, and that any hope I might have of her constancy 
to me must be uprooted as a delusion. 

" I tried to reject this revelation, but the evidence was 
too clear to be discredited. Nevertheless, I insisted on seeing 
the girl once more, and Miss Remington brought about the 
interview. I was too deeply disappointed to be indignant : 
she showed a restless impatience to be gone, as if some rem- 
nant of conscience still spoke in her heart. I told her, sadly, 
that I saw she was changed. If her attachment for me had 
faded, as I feared, I would not despotically press mine upon 
her, but would release her from the mockery of a duty which 
her heart no longer acknowledged. I expected a penitent 
confession of the truth, in return, and was therefore wholly 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LITE. 385 

unprepared for the angry reproaches she heaped upon me. 
* Very fine !' she cried ; ' 1 always thought there was no sus- 
picion where there was love! I am to be accused of false- 
hood, from a jealous whim. It's very easy for you to give up an 
attachment that died out long ago !' But I will not repeat 
her expressions further. I should never have comprehended 
them without Miss Remington's assistance. She was vexed 
that I should have discovered her want of faith and given her 
back her freedom : she should have been the first to break the 
bonds. I laughed, in bitterness of 'heart, at her words; I 
could give her no other answer. 

" The shock my affections received was deeper than I cared 
to show. It was renewed, when, three months afterwards, 
the faithless girl married the rich fool whom she had preferred 
to me. I should have become moody and cynical but for the 
admirable tact with which Miss Remington, in her perfect 
friendship, softened the blow. Many persons suppose that a 
pure and exalted relation of this kind cannot exist between 
man and woman, without growing into love in other words, 
that friendship seeks its fulfilment in the same sex and love 
in the opposite. I do not agree with this view. The thought 
of loving Julia Remington never entered my mind, and she 
would have considered me as wanting in sanity if I had inti- 
mated such a thing, but there was a happy and perfect confi- 
dence between us, which was my chief support in those days 
of misery. 

u I accepted, eagerly, the proposition to become the Calcutta 
agent of the mercantile house in which I was employed. The 
shadow of my disappointment still hung over me, and there 
were now but few associations of my life in New York to 
make the parting difficult. I went, and in the excitement of 
new scenes, in the absorbing duties of my new situation, in 
the more masculine strength that came with maturity, I grad- 
ually forgot the blow which had been struck or, if I did not 
forget, the sight of the scar no longer recalled the pain of the 
wound. Nevertheless, it had made me suspicious and fearful. 
17 



386 HANNAH THUBSTON: 

I questioned every rising inclination of my heart, and sup- 
pressed the whispers of incipient affection, determined that 
no woman should ever again deceive me as the first had done. 
The years glided away, one by one ; I had slowly acquired the 
habit of self-control, on which I relied as a natural and suffi- 
cient guard for my heart, and the longing for woman's partner- 
ship in life, which no man can ever wholly suppress, again began 
to make itself heard. I did not expect a recurrence of the 
passion of youth. I knew that I had changed, and that love, 
therefore, must come to me in a different form. I remembered 
what I heard at home, as a boy, that when the original forest 
is cleared away, a new forest of different trees is developed 
from the naked soil. But I still suspected that there must be 
a family likeness in the growth, and that I should recognize its 
sprouting germs. 

" Between five and six years ago, it was necessary that I 
should visit Europe, in the interest of the house. I was ab- 
sent from India nearly a year, and during that time made my 
first acquaintance with Switzerland, the memory of which is 
now indissolubly connected, in my mind, with that song which 
I have heard you sing. But it is not of this that I would 
speak. I find myself shrinking from the new revelation which 
must be made. The story is not one of guilt not even of 
serious blame, in the eyes of the world. If it were necessary, 
I could tell it to any man, without reluctance for my own sake. 
Men, in certain respects, have broader and truer views of life 
than women ; they are more tender in their judgment, more 
guarded in their condemnation. I am not justifying myself, 
in advance, for I can acquit myself of any intentional wrong. 
I only feel that the venture, embodied in my confession, is about 
to be sent forth either to pitying gales that shall waft it safely 
back to me, or to storms in which it shall go down. Recollect, 
dear Miss Thurston, that whatever of strength I may possess 
you have seen. I am now about to show you, voluntarily, my 
weakness. 

" Among the passengers on board the steamer by which I 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 387 

returned to India, there was a lady who had been recom- 
mended to my care by some mutual acquaintance in England. 
She was the wife of a physician in the Company's Service who 
was stationed at Benares, and who had sent her home with 
her children a year and a half before. The latter were left in 
England, while she returned to share the exile of her husband 
until he should be entitled to a pension. She was a thoroughly 
Tefined and cultivated woman, of almost my own age, and 
shrank from contact with the young cubs of cadets and the os- 
tentatious indigo-planters, with their'beer-drinking wives, who 
were almost the only other passengers. We were thus thrown 
continually together, and the isolation of ocean-life contributed 
to hasten our intimacy. Little by little that intimacy grew 
deep, tendeV, and powerful. I told her the humiliating story 
of my early love which you have just read, and she described 
to me, with tearful reluctance, the unhappiness of her married 
life. Her husband had gone to England eight years before, on 
leave of absence, on purpose to marry. She had been found 
to answer his requirements, and ignorant of life as she was at 
that time, ignorant of her own heart, had been hurried into 
the marriage by her own family. Her father was in moderate 
circumstances, and he had many daughters to provide with 
husbands ; this was too good a chance to let slip, and, as it 
was known that she had no other attachment, her hesitation 
was peremptorily overruled. She discovered, too late, that 
there was not only no point of sympathy between her husband 
and herself, but an absolute repulsion. He was bold and 
steady-handed as a surgeon, and had performed some daring 
operations which had distinguished him in his profession ; but 
he was hard, selfish, and tyrannical in his domestic relations, 
and his unfortunate wife could only look forward with dread 
to the continual companionship which was her doom. 

" I had been sure of recognizing any symptom of returning 
love in my heart but 1 was mistaken. It took the form of 
pity, and so lulled my suspicions to sleep that my power of 
will was drugged before I knew it. Her own heart was not 



388 HANNAH THTTESTON: 

more merciful towards her. Poor woman ! if she had ever 
dreamed of love the dream had been forgotten. She was ig- 
norant of the fatal spell which had come upon us, and I did 
not detect my own passion until its reflection was thrown 
back to me from her innocent face. When I had discovered 
the truth, it was too late too late, I mean, for her happiness, 
not too late for the honor of both our lives. I could not ex- 
plain to her a danger which she did not suspect, nor could 1% 
embitter, by an enforced coldness, her few remaining happy 
days of our voyage. With a horrible fascination, I saw her 
drawing nearer and nearer the brink of knowledge, and my 
lips were sealed, that only could have uttered the warning cry. 

" Again I was called upon to suffer, but in a way I had 
never anticipated. The grief of betrayed love is tame, beside 
the despair of forbidden love. This new experience showed 
me how light was the load which I had already borne. On 
the one side, two hearts that recognized each other and would 
have been faithful to the end of time ; on the other, a mon- 
strous bond, which had only the sanction of human laws. I 
rebelled, in my very soul, against the mockery of that legal 
marriage, which is the basis of social virtue, forgetting that 
Good must voluntarily bind itself in order that Evil may not 
go free. The boundless tenderness towards her which had 
suddenly revealed itself must be stifled. I could not even 
press her hand warmly, lest some unguarded pulse should be- 
tray the secret ; I scarcely dared look in her eyes, lest mine 
might stab her with the sharpness of my love and my sorrow 
in the same glance. 

" It was all in vain. Some glance, some word, or touch of 
hand, on either side, did come, and the thin disguise was 
torn away forever. Then we spoke, for the consolation of 
speech seemed less guilty than the agony of silence. In the 
moonless nights of the Indian Ocean we walked the deck with 
hands secretly clasped, with silent tears on our cheeks, with 
a pang in our souls only softened by the knowledge that it 
was mutual. Neither of us, I think, then thought of disputing 



A STORY OP AMERICAN LIFE. 389 

our fate. But as the voyage drew near its end, I was haunt- 
ed by wild fancies of escape. I could not subdue my nature 
to forego a fulfilment that seemed possible. We might find 
a refuge, I thought, in Java, or Celebes, or some of the Indian 
Isles, and once beyond the reach of pursuit what was the rest 
of the world to us ? What was wealth, or name, or station ? 
they were hollow sounds to us now, they were selfish cheats, 
always. In the perverted logic of passion all was clear and 
fair. 

" This idea so grew upon me that I was base enough to 
propose it to her I who should have given reverence to that 
ignorance of the heart which made her love doubly sacred, 
strove to turn it into the instrument of her ruin ! She heard 
me, in fear, not in indignation. ' Do not tempt me !' she 
cried, with a pitiful supplication ; ' think of my children, and 
help me to stand up against my own heart !' Thank God I 
was not deaf to that cry of weakness ; I was armed to meet 
resistance, but I was powerless against her own despairing 
fear of surrender. Thank God, I overcame the relentless selfish- 
ness of my sex ! She took from my lips, that night, the only 
kiss I ever gave her the kiss of repentance, not of triumph. 
It left no stain on the purity of her marriage vow. That was 
our true parting from each other. There were still two days 
of our voyage left, but we looked at each other as if through 
the bars of opposite prisons, with a double wall between. Our 
renunciation was complete, and any further words would have 
been an unnecessary pang. We had a melancholy pleasure in 
still being near each other, in walking side by side, in the 
formal touch of hands that dared not clasp and be clasped. 
This poor consolation soon ceased. The husband was waiting 
for her at Calcutta, and I purposely kept my state-room when 
we arrived, in order that I might not see him. I was not yet 
sure of myself. 

"She went to Benares, and afterwanla to Meerut, and I 
never saw her again. In a little more thai? a year I heard she 
was dead : ' the fever of the country,* they sai^ I was glad 



390 HANNAH THUKSTON: 

of it death was better for her than her life had been now, 
at least, when that life had become a perpetual infidelity to her 
heart. Death purified the memory of my passion, and gave 
me, perhaps, a sweeter resignation than if she had first yielded 
to my madness. Sad and hopeless as was this episode of my 
life, it contained an element of comfort, and restored the 
balance which my first disappointment had destroyed. My 
grief for her was gentle, tender and consoling, and I never 
turned aside from its approaches. It has now withdrawn into 
the past, but its influence still remains, in this that the desire 
for that fulfilment of passion, of which life has thus far cheated 
me, has not grown cold in my heart. 

" There are some natures which resemble those plants that 
die after a single blossoming natures in which one passion 
seems to exhaust the capacities for affection. I am not one of 
them, yet I know that I possess the virtue of fidelity. I know 
that I still wait for the fortune that shall enable me to manifest 
it. Do you, as a woman, judge me unworthy to expect that for- 
tune ? You are now acquainted with my history ; try me by 
the sacred instincts of your own nature, and according to them, 
pardon or condemn me. I have revealed to you my dream of 
the true marriage that is possible a dream that prevents me 
from stooping to a union not hallowed by perfect love and 
faith. Have I forfeited the right to indulge this dream longer ? 
Would I be guilty of treason towards the virgin confidence of 
some noble woman whom God may yet send me, in offering 
her a heart which is not fresh in its knowledge, though fresh 
in its immortal desires ? I pray you to answer me these ques- 
tions ? Do not blame your own truth and nobility of nature, 
which have brought you this task. Blame, if you please, my 
selfishness in taking advantage of them. 

" I have now told you all I meant to confess, and might here 
close. But one thought occurs to me, suggested by the sud- 
den recollection of the reform to which you have devoted 
yourself. I fear that all reformers are too much disposed to 
measure the actions and outward habits of the human race, 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 091 

without examining the hidden causes of those actions. There 
is some basis in our nature for all general customs, both of 
body and mind. The mutual relation of man and woman, in 
Society, is determined not by a conscious exercise of tyranny 
on the one side, or subjection on the other. Each sex has its 
peculiar mental and moral laws, the differences between which 
are perhaps too subtle and indefinable to be distinctly drawn, 
but they are as palpable in life as the white and red which 
neighboring roses draw from the self-same soil. When we 
have differed in regard to Woman, I have meant to speak sin- 
cerely and earnestly, out of the knowledge gained by an un- 
fortunate experience, which, nevertheless, has not touched the 
honor and reverence in which I hold the sex. I ask you to 
remember this, in case the confidence I have forced upon you 
should hereafter set a gulf between us. 

" I have deprived myself of the right to make any request, 
but whatever your judgment may be, will you let me hear it 
from your own lips ? Will you allow me to see you once 
more ? I write to you now, not because I should shrink from 
speaking the same words, but because a history like mine is 
not always easily or clearly told, and I wish your mind to be 
uninfluenced by the sympathy which a living voice might 
inspire. 

" On Tuesday next you will be free to take your accustomed 
walk. May I be your companion again, beside the stream ? 
But, no : do not write : you will find me there if you consent 
to see me. If you do not come, I shall expect the written evi- 
dence, if not of your continued respect, at least of your forgive- 
ness. But, in any case, think of me always as one man who, 
having known you, will never cease to honor Woman. 

" Your friend, 

" MAXWELL WOODBUKY." 



392 HANNAH THURSTON: 



CHAPTER XXXI. 

IN WHICH THE STRONG-MINDED WOMAN BECOMES WEAK. 

IT did not require the sound of a living voice to inspire 
Hannah Thurston with sympathy for the story which she had 
just read. Never before had any man so freely revealed to 
her the sanctities of his experience of women. Completely 
absorbed in the recital, she gave herself up to the first strong 
impressions of alternate indignation and pity, without reflect- 
ing upon the deeper significance of the letter. Woodbury's 
second episode of passion at first conflicted harshly with the 
pure ideal in her own mind ; the shock was perhaps greater 
to her than the confession of actual guilt would have been to 
a woman better acquainted with the world. Having grown 
up in the chaste atmosphere of her sect, and that subdued life 
of the emotions which the seclusion of the country creates, it 
startled her to contemplate a love forbidden by the world, yet 
justifying itself to the heart. Nevertheless, the profound pity 
which came upon her as she read took away from her the 
power of condemnation. The wrong, she felt, was not so much 
in the love which had unsuspectedly mastered both, as in the 
impulse to indulge rather than suppress it ; but having been 
suppressed passion having been purified by self-abnegation 
and by death, she could not withhold a tender human charity 
even for this feature of the confession. 

Woodbury's questions, however, referred to the future, no 
less than to the past. They hinted at the possibility of a new 
love visiting his heart. The desire for it, he confessed, had not 
grown cold. Deceit and fate had not mastered, in him, the 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 093 

immortal yearning : was he unworthy to receive it ? " Try 
me," he had written, " by the sacred instincts of your own 
nature, and according to them pardon or condemn me." She 
had already pardoned. Perhaps, had she read the same words 
coming from a stranger, or as an incident of a romance, she 
would have paused and deliberated ; her natural severity 
would have been slow to relax ; but knowing Woodbury as 
she had latterly learned to know him, in his frankness, his 
manly firmness and justice, his noble consideration for herself 
her heart did not delay the answer, to his questions. He had 
put her to shame by voluntarily revealing his weakness, while 
she had determined that she would never allow him to dis- 
cover her own. 

Little by little, however, after it became clear that her sym- 
pathy and her charity were justifiable, the deeper questions 
which lay hidden beneath the ostensible purpose of his letter 
crept to the surface. In her ignorance of the coming confes- 
sion, she had not asked herself, in advance, why it should have 
been made; she supposed it would be its own explanation. 
The reason he had given was not in itself suflicient, but pre- 
supposed something more important which he had not ex- 
pressed. No man makes such a confidence from a mere feeling 
of curiosity. Simultaneously with this question came another 
why should he fancy that his act might possibly set a gulf 
between them ? Was it simply the sensitiveness of a nature 
which would feel itself profaned by having its secrets misun- 
derstood ? No ; a heart thus sensitive would prefer the secu- 
rity of silence. Was he conscious of a dawning love, and, 
doubtful of himself, did he ask for a woman's truer interpre- 
tation of his capacity to give and keep faith ? " It is cruel in 
him to ask me," she said to herself; " does he think my heart 
is insensible as marble, that I should probe it with thoughts, 
every one of which inflicts a wound ? Why does he not 
send his confession at once to her ? It is she who should hear 
it, not I ! He is already guilty of treason to her, in asking 
the question of rue /" 
17* 



394 HANNAH THUESTON I 

She put the letter suddenly on the "table, and half rose 
from her chair, in the excitement of the thought. Then, as if 
struck by a stunning blow, she dropped back again. Her face 
grew cold and deadly pale, and her arms fell nerveless at her 
sides. Her eyes closed, and her breath came in long, labored 
sighs. After a few minutes she sat up, placed her elbow on 
the table and rested her forehead on her hand. " I am grow- 
ing idiotic," she whispered, with an attempt to smile ; " my 
brain is giving way it is only a woman's brain." 

The fire had long been extinct. The room was cold, and a 
chill crept over her. She rose, secured the letter and the 
book, and went to bed. As the balmy warmth stole over her 
frame, it seemed to soften and thaw the painful constriction 
of her heart, and she wept herself into a sad quiet. " Oh, if 
it should be so," she said, "I must henceforth be doubly 
wretched ! What shall I do ? I cannot give up the truths 
to which I have devoted my life, and they now stand between 
my heart and the heart of the noblest man I have ever known. 
Yes : my pride is broken at last, and I will confess to myself 
how much I honor and esteem him not love but even there 
I am no longer secure. We were so far apart how could I 
dream of danger ? But I recognize it now, too late for him 
almost too late for me !" 

Then, again, she doubted every thing. The knowledge had 
come too swiftly and suddenly to be accepted at once. He 
could not love her ; it was preposterous. Until a few days 
ago he had thought her cold and severe : now, he acknowl- 
edged her to be true, and his letter simply appealed to that 
truth, unsuspicious of the secret slumbering in her heart. He 
had spoken of the possibility of a pure and exalted friendship 
between the sexes, such as already existed between himself 
and Mrs. Blake : perhaps he aimed at nothing more, in this 
instance. Somehow, the thought was not so consoling as it 
ought properly to have been, and the next moment the skilful 
explanation which she had built up tumbled into ruins. 

She slept but little, that night, and all the next day went 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 895 

about her duties as if in a dream. She knew that her mother's 
eye sometimes rested uneasily on her pale face, and the con- 
fession of her trouble more than once rose to her tongue, but 
she resolutely determined to postpone it until the dreaded 
crisis was past. She would not agitate the invalid with her 
confused apprehensions, all of which, moreover, might prove 
themselves to have been needless. With every fresh conflict 
in her mind her judgment seemed to become more unsteady. 
The thought of Woodbury's love, having once revealed itself 
to her, would not be banished, and -every time it returned, it 
seemed to bring a gentler and tenderer feeling for him into her 
heart. On the other hand her dreams of a career devoted to 
the cause of Woman ranged themselves before her mental 
vision, in an attitude of desperate resistance. " Now is the 
test 1" they seemed to say : " vindicate your sex, or yield to 
the weakness of your heart, and add to its reproach !" 

When Monday came, it brought no cessation of the struggle, 
but she had recovered something of her usual self-control. She 
had put aside, temporarily, the consideration of her doubts ; 
the deeper she penetrated into the labyrinth, the more she 
became entangled, and she made up her mind to wait, with as 
much calmness as she could command, for the approaching 
solution. The forms of terror, of longing, of defence and of 
submission continually made their presence felt by turns, or 
chaotically together, but the only distinct sensation she per- 
mitted herself to acknowledge was this : that if her forebodings 
were true, the severest trial of her life awaited her. Her 
pride forbade her to shrink from the trial, yet every hour 
that brought her nearer to it increased her dread of the meet- 
ing. 

Her mother's strength was failing rapidly, and on this day 
she required Hannah's constant attendance. When, at last, 
the latter was relieved for the night, her fatigue, combined 
with the wakeful torment of the two preceding nights, com- 
pletely overpowered her and she slumbered fast and heavily 
until morning. Her first waking thought was " The day is 



396 HANNAH THUKSTON: 

come, and I am not prepared to meet him." The morning 
was dull and windless, and as she looked upon the valley from 
her window, a thick blue film enveloped the distant woods, the 
dark pines and brown oaks mingling with it indistinctly, while 
the golden and orange tints of the maples shone through. Her 
physical mood corresponded with the day. The forces of her 
spirit were sluggish and apathetic, and she felt that the resist- 
ance which, in the contingency she dreaded, must be made, 
would be obstinately passive, rather than active and self-con- 
tained. A sense of inexpressible weariness stole over her. 
Oh, she thought, if. she only could be spared the trial ! Yet, 
how easily it might be avoided ! She needed only to omit her 
accustomed walk : she could write to him, afterwards, and 
honor his confidence as it deserved. But an instinct told her 
that this would only postpone the avowal, not avert it. If she 
was wrong, she had nothing to fear ; if she was right, it would 
be cowardly, and unjust to him, to delay the answer she must 
give. 

Her mother had slightly rallied, and when Mrs. Styles 
arrived, as usual, early in the afternoon, the invalid could be 
safely left in her charge. Nevertheless, Hannah, after having 
put on her bonnet and shawl, lingered in the room, with a last, 
anxious hope that something might happen which would give 
her a pretext to remain. 

" Child, isn't thee going ?" the widow finally asked. 

a Mother, perhaps I had better stay with thee this after- 
noon ?" was the hesitating answer. 

" Indeed, thee shall not do any such thing ! Thee's not been 
thyself for the last two days, and I know thee always comes 
back from thy walks fresher and better. Bring me a handful 
of gentians, won't thee ?" 

"Yes, mother." She stooped and kissed the old woman's 
forehead, and then left the house. 

The sky was still heavy and gray, and there was an oppres- 
sive warmth in the air. Crickets chirped loud among the dying 
weeds along the garden-palings, and crows cawed hoarsely 



A STOET OF AMEEICAN LIFE. 397 

from the tops of the elms. The road was deserted, as far as 
she could see, but the sound of farmers calling to their oxen 
came distinctly across the valley from the fields on the eastern 
hill. Nature seemed to lie benumbed, in drowsy half-con- 
sciousness of her being, as if under some narcotic influence. 

She walked slowly forward, striving to subdue the anxious 
beating of her heart. At the junction of the highways, she 
stole a glance down the Anacreon road : nobody was to be 
seen. Down the other : a farm-wagon was on its way home 
from Ptolemy that was all. To the first throb of relief suc- 
ceeded a feeling of disappointment. The walk through the 
meadow-thickets would be more lonely than ever, remember- 
ing the last time she had seen them. As she looked towards 
their dark-green mounds, drifted over with the downy tufts 
of the seeded clematis, a figure suddenly emerged from the 
nearest path and hastened towards her across the meadow ! 

He let down the bars for her entrance and stood waiting 
for her. His brown eyes shone with a still, happy light, and 
his face brightened as if struck by a wandering sunbeam. He 
looked so frank and kind so cheered by her coming so un- 
embarrassed by the knowledge of the confession he had made, 
that the wild beating of her heart was partially soothed, and 
she grew calmer in his presence. 

" Thank you !" he said, as he took her hand, both in greeting 
and to assist her over the fallen rails. When he had put them 
up, and regained her side, he spoke againj " Shall we not go 
on to that lovely nook of yours beside the creek ? I have 
taken a great fancy to the spot ; I have recalled it to my 
memory a thousand times since then." 
"Yes, if you wish it," she answered. 

As they threaded the tangled paths, he spoke cheerfully 
and pleasantly, drawing her into talk of the autumnal plants, 
of the wayward rapids and eddies of the stream, of all sights 
and sounds around them. A balmy quiet, vrhich she mistook 
for strength, took possession of her heart. She reached the 
secluded nook, with a feeling of timid expectancy, it is true, 



398 HANNAH THUESTON: 

but with scarcely a trace of her former overpowering dread. 
There lay the log, as if awaiting them, and the stream gurgled 
contentedly around the point, and the hills closed loftily 
through blue vapor, up the valley, like the entrance to an 
Alpine gorge. 

As soon as they were seated, Woodbury spoke. " Can you 
answer my questions ?" 

" You have made that easy for me," she replied, in a low 
voice. " It seems to me rather a question of character than 
of experience. A man naturally false and inconstant might 
have the same history to relate, but I am sure you are true. 
You should ask those questions of your own heart ; where 
you are sure of giving fidelity, you would commit no treason 
in bestowing attachment." 

She dared not utter the other word in her mind. 

" I was not mistaken in you !" he exclaimed. " You have 
the one quality which I demand of every man or woman in 
whom I confide ; you distinguish between what is true in 
human nature and what is conventionally true. I must show 
myself to you as I am, though the knowledge should give you 
pain. The absolution of the sinner," he added, smiling, " is 
already half-pronounced in his confession." 

"Why should I be your confessor?" she asked. "The 
knowledge of yourself which you have confided to me, thus 
far, does not give me pain. It has not lowered you in my 
esteem, but I feel, nevertheless, that your confidence is a gift 
which I have done nothing to deserve, and which I ought not 
to accept unless unless I were able to make some return. If 
I had answered your questions otherwise, I do not think it 
would have convinced you, against your own feelings. With 
your integrity of heart, you do not need the aid of a woman 
whose experience of life is so much more limited than yours." 

She spoke very slowly and deliberately, and the sentences 
eeemed to come with an effort. Woodbury saw that her 
clear vision had pierced through his flimsy stratagem, and 
guessed that she must necessarily suspect the truth. Still, he 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 399 

drew back from the final venture upon which so much de- 
pended. He would first sound the depth of her suspicions. 

" No man," he said, gently, " can be independent of woman's 
judgment, without loss to himself. Her purer nature is a 
better guide to him than his own clouded instincts. I should 
not have attributed a different answer to your true self, but to 
the severe ideas of duty which I imagined you to possess. 
You were right to suppose that I had already answered for 
myself, but can you not understand the joy of hearing it thus 
confirmed ? Can you not appreciate, the happy knowledge 
that one's heart has not been opened in vain ?" 

" I can understand it, though I have had little experience of 
such knowledge. But I had not supposed that you needed it, 
Mr. Woodbury least of all from me. We seem to have had 

so little in common " 

" Not so !" he interrupted. " Opinions, no matter how 
powerfully they may operate to shape our lives, are external 
circumstances, compared with the deep, original springs of 
character. You and I have only differed on the outside, and 
hence we first clashed when we came in contact ; but now I 
recognize in you a nature for which I have sought long and 
wearily. I seek some answering recognition, and in my haste 
have scarcely given you time to examine whether any features 
in myself have grown familiar to you. I see now that I was 
hasty : I should have waited until the first false impression 
was removed." 

The memory of Mrs. Waldo's reproach arose in Hannah 
Thurston's mind. " Oh no, you mistake me !" she cried. " I 
am no longer unjust to you. But you surpass me in magna- 
nimity as you have already done in justice. You surprised 
me by a sacred confidence which is generally accorded only to 
a tried friend. I had- given you no reason to suppose that I 
was a friend : I had almost made myself an enemy." 

"Let the Past be past: I know you now. My confidence 
was not entirely magnanimous. It was a test." 
" And I have stood it ?" she faltered. 



400 HANNAH THUKSTON: 

" Not yet," he answered, and his voice trembled into a 
sweet and solemn strain, to which . every nerve in her body 
seemed to listen. " Not yet ! You must hear it now. I 
questioned you, after you knew the history of my heart, in 
order tbat you might decide for yourself as well as me. Love 
purifies itself at each return. My unfortunate experience has 
not prevented me from loving again, and with a purity and in- 
tensity deeper than that of my early days, because the passion 
was doubted and resisted instead of being received in my 
heart as a coveted guest. I am beyond the delusions of youth, 
but not beyond the wants of manhood. I described to ypu, 
the other day, on this spot, my dream of marriage. It was 
not an ideal picture. Hannah Thurston, I thought of you /" 

The crisis had come, and she was not prepared to meet it. 
As he paused, she pressed one hand upon her heart, as if it 
might be controlled by physical means, and moved her lips, 
but no sound came from them. 

" I knew you could not have anticipated this," he continued ; 
"I should have allowed you time to test me, in return, but 
when the knowledge of your womanly purity and gentleness 
penetrated me, to the overthrow of all antagonism based on 
shallow impressions, I parted with judgment and will. A 
power stronger than myself drove me onward to the point I 
have now reached the moment of time which must decide 
your fate and mine." 

She turned upon him with a wild, desperate energy in her 
face and words. " Why did you come," she cried, " to drive 
me to madness ? Was it not enough to undermine the foun- 
dations of my faith, to crush me with the cold, destroying 
knowledge you have gained in the world? My life was fixed, 
before I knew you; I was sure of myself and satisfied with 
the work that was before me : but now I am sure of nothing. 
You have assailed me until you have discovered my weakness, 
and you cruelly tear down every prop on which I try to lean ! 
If I could hate you I should regain my strength, but I cannot 
do that you know I cannot !" 



A STOEY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 401 

He did not misinterpret her excitement, which yielded more 
than it assailed. " N"o, Hannah !" he said tenderly, " I would 
give you strength, not take it from you the strength of my 
love, and sympathy, and encouragement. I know how these 
aims have taken hold upon you : they are built upon a basis 
of earnest truth which I recognize, and though I differ 
with you as to the ends to be attained, we may both enlighten 
each other, and mutual tenderness nd mutual respect govern 
our relations in this as in all else. Do not think that I would 
make my love a fetter. I can trust to your nature working 
itself into harmony with mine. If I find, through the dearer 
knowledge of you, that I have misunderstood Woman, I will 
atone for the error ; and I will ask nothing of you but that 
which I know you will give the acknowledgment of the 
deeper truth that is developed with the progress of life." 

She trembled from head to foot. " Say no more," she mur- 
mured, in a faint, hollow voice, " I cannot bear it. Oh, what 
will become of me ? You are noble and generous I was 
learning to look up to you and to accept your help, and now 
you torture me !" 

He was pitiless. He read her more truly than she read 
herself, and he saw that the struggle must now be fought out 
to its end. Her agitation gave him hope it was the surge 
and swell of a rising tide of passion which she resisted with the 
last exercise of a false strength. He must seem more cruel still, 
though the conflict in her heart moved him to infinite pity. 
His voice assumed a new power as he spoke again : 

" Hannah," he said, " I must speak. Remember that I am 
pleading for all the remaining years of my life and, it may 
be, for yours. Here is no question of subjection ; I offer you 
the love that believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth 
all things. It is not for me to look irreverently into your 
maiden heart : but, judging you, as woman, by myself, as man, 
you must have dreamed of a moment like this. You must 
have tried to imagine the face of the unknown beloved ; you 
must have prefigured the holy confidence of love which would 



402 HANNAH 

force you to give your fate into his hands ; you must have 
drawn the blessed life, united with his, the community of in- 
terest, of feeling, and of faith, the protecting support on his 
side, the consoling tenderness on yours " 

She seized his arm with the hand nearest him, and grasped 
it convulsively. Her head dropped towards her breast and 
her face was hidden from his view. He gently disengaged the 
hand and held it in his oWn. But he would not be silent, in 
obedience to her dumb signal : he steeled his heart against her 
pain, and went on : 

" You have tried to banish this dream from your heart, but 
you have tried in vain. You have turned away from the con- 
templation of the lonely future, and cried aloud for its fulfil- 
ment in the silence of your soul. By day and by night it has 
clung to you, a torment, but too dear and beautiful to be re- 
nounced " 

He paused. She did not withdraw her hand from his, 
but she was sobbing passionately. Still, her head was turned 
away from him. Her strength was only broken, not sub- 
dued. 

" Remember," he said, " that nothing in our lives resembles 
the picture which anticipates its coming. I am not the man 
of your dreams. Such as I fancy them to be, no man on the 
earth would be worthy to represent him. But I can give you 
the tenderness, the faith, the support you have claimed from 
him, in your heart. Do not reject them while a single voice 
of your nature tells you that some portion of your ideal union 
may be possible in us. The fate of two lives depends on your 
answer : in this hour trust every thing to the true voice of your 
heart. You say you cannot hate me ?" 

She shook her head, without speaking. She was still sob- 
bing violently. 

"I do not ask you, in this moment, if you love me. I can- 
not stake my future on a venture which I feel to be perilous. 
But I will ask you this : could you love me ?" 

She made no sign : her hand lay in his, and her face was 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 403 

bent towards her bosom. He took her other hand, and hold- 
ing them both, whispered : " Hannah, look at me." 

She turned her head slowly, with a helpless submission, and 
lifted her face. Her cheeks were wet with tears, and her 
lovely dark-gray eyes, dimmed by the floods that had gushed 
from them in spite of herself, met his gaze imploringly. The 
strong soul of manhood met and conquered the woman in that 
glance. He read his triumph, but veiled his own consciousness 
of it curbed his triumphant happiness, lest she should take 
alarm. Softly and gently, he stole one arm around her waist 
and drew her to his breast. The violence of her agitation 
gradually ceased ; then, lifting her head, she withdrew from 
his clasp, and spoke, very softly and falteringly, with her eyes 
fixed on the ground : 

" Yes, Maxwell, it is as I have feared. I will not say that I 
love you now, for my heart is disturbed. It is powerless to 
act for me, in your presence. I have felt and struggled against 
your power, but you have conquered me. If you love me, pity 
me also, and make a gentle use of your triumph. Do not 
bind me by any promise at present. Be satisfied with the 
knowledge that has come to me that I have been afraid to 
love you, because I foresaw how easy it would be. Do not 
ask any thing more of me now. I can bear no more to-day. 
My strength is gone, and I am weak as a child. Be mag- 
nanimous." 

He drew her once more softly to his breast and kissed her 
lips. There was no resistance, but a timid answering pressure. 
He kissed her again, with the passionate clinging sweetness of 
a heart that seals an eternal claim. She tore herself loose from 
him and cried with a fiery vehemence : " God will curse you 
if you deceive me now ! You have bound me to think of you, 
day and night, to recall your looks and words, to oh, Max- 
well, to what have you not bound my heart !" 

" I would bind you to no more than I give," he answered. 
" I ask no promise. Let us simply be free to find our way to 
the full knowledge of each other. When you can trust your 



404 HANNAH THUKSTON: 



life to me, I will take it in tender and reverent keeping. I 
trust mine to you now." 

She did not venture to meet his eyes again, but she took his 
outstretched hand. He led her to the edge of the peninsula, 
and they stood thus, side by side, while the liquid, tinkling 
semitones of the water made a contented accompaniment to 
the holy silence. In that silence the hearts of both were busy. 
He felt that though his nature had proved the stronger, she 
was not yet completely won : she was like a bird bewildered 
by capture, that sits tamely for a moment, afraid to try its 
wings. He must complete by gentleness what he had begun 
by power. She, at the moment, did not think of escape. She 
only felt how hopeless would be the attempt, either to advance 
or recede. She had lost the strong position in which she had 
so long been intrenched, yet could not subdue her mind to the 
inevitable surrender. 

lt I know that you are troubled," he said at last, and the 
considerate tenderness of his voice fell like a balm upon her 
heart, " but do not think that you alone have yielded to a 
power which mocks human will. I spoke truly, when I said 
that the approach of love, this time, had been met with doubt 
and resistance in myself. I have first yielded, and thus knowl- 
edge came to me while you were yet ignorant. From that 
ignorance the consciousness of love cannot, perhaps, be born 
at once. But I feel that the instinct which led me to seek 
you, has not been false. I can now appreciate something of 
your struggle, which is so much the more powerful than my 
own as woman's stake in marriage is greater than man's. Let 
us grant to each other an equally boundless trust, and in that 
pure air all remaining doubt, or jealousy, or fear of compro- 
mised rights, will die. Can you grant me this much, Hannah f t 
It is all I ask now." 

She had no strength to refuse. She trusted his manhood 
already with her whole heart, though foreseeing what such 
trust implied. "It is myself only, that I doubt," she an- 
swered. 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 405 

" Be kind to me," she added, after a pause, releasing her 
hand from his clasp and half turning away : " Consider how I 
have failed how I have been deceived in myself. Another 
woman would have been justly proud and happy in my place, 
for she would not have had the hopes of years to uproot, nor 
have had to answer to her heart the accusation of disloyalty to 
humanity." 

" We will let that accusation rest," he soothed her. " Do 
not think that you have failed : you never seemed so strong to 
me as now. There can be no question of conflicting power 
between two equal hearts whom love unites in the same des- 
tiny. The time will come when this apparent discord will ap- 
pear to you as a ' harmony not understood.' But, until then, 
I shall never say a word to you which shall not be meant to 
solve doubt, and allay fear, and strengthen confidence." 

" Let me go back, now, to my mother," she said. " Heaven 
pardon me, I had almost forgotten her. She wanted me to 
bring her some gentians. It is very late and she will be 
alarmed." 

He led her back through the tangled, briery paths. She 
took his offered hand with a mechanical submission, but the 
touch thrilled her through and through with a sweetness so 
new and piercing, that she reproached herself at each return, 
as if the sensation were forbidden. Woodbury gathered for 
her a bunch of the lovely fringed gentian, with the short au- 
tumn ferns, and the downy, fragrant silver of the life-everlast- 
ing. They walked side by side, silently, down the meadow, 
and slowly up the road to the widow's cottage. 

" I will deliver the flowers myself," said he, as they reached 
the gate, " Besides, is it not best that your mother should 
know of what has passed ?" 

She could not deny him. In the next moment they were in 
the little sitting-room. Mrs. Styles expected company to tea, 
and took her leave as soon as they appeared. 

"Mother, will thee see Mr. Woodbury?" said Hannah, 



406 HAisrNAH THTJRSTON: 



opening the door into the adjoining room, where the invalid 
sat, comfortably propped up in her bed. 

"Thee knows I am always glad to see him," came the 
answer, in a faint voice. 

They entered together, and Woodbury laid the flowers on 
her bed. The old woman looked from one to another with a 
glance which, by a sudden clairvoyance, saw the truth. A 
new light came over her face. " Maxwell I" she cried ; 
Hannah !" 

" Mother !" answered the daughter, sinking on her knees 
and burying her face in the bed-clothes. 

Tears gushed from the widow's eyes and rolled down her 
hollow cheeks. " I see how it is," she said ; " I prayed that 
it might happen. The Lord blesses me once more before I 
die. Come here, Maxwell, and take a mother's blessing. I 
give my dear daughter freely into thy hands." 

Hannah heard the words. She felt that the bond, thus 
consecrated by the blessing of her dying mother, dared not be 
broken. 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 407 



CHAPTER XXXII. 

TN WHICH ALL KETREAT IS CUT OFF. 

" COME back to-morrow, Maxwell,", the Widow Thurston 
had said, as he took an affectionate leave of her ; " come back, 
and let me hear what thee and Hannah have to say. I am too 
weak now to talk any more. My life has been so little ac- 
quainted with sudden visitations of joy, that this knowledge 
takes hold of my strength. Thee may leave me too, Hannah; 
I think I could sleep a little." 

The latter carefully smoothed and arranged the pillows, and 
left the invalid to repose. Woodbury was waiting for her, in 
the door leading from the sitting-room to the hall. " I am 
going home now," he said ; " can you give me a word of hope 
and comfort on the way ? tell me that you trust me !" 

" Oh, I do, I do !" she exclaimed ; " Do not mistake either 
my agitation or my silence. I believe that if I could once be 
in harmony with myself, what I have heard from your lips to- 
day would make me happy. I am like my mother," she 
added, with a melancholy smile, " I am more accustomed to 
contempt than honor." 

He led her into the hall and closed the door behind 'them. 
He put one arm protectingly around her, and she felt herself 
supported against the world. " Hereafter, Hannah," he whis- 
pered, " no one can strike at you except through me. Good- 
by until to-morrow !" He bent his head towards her face, 
and their eyes met. His beamed with a softened fire, a dewy 
tenderness and sweetness, before which her soul shivered and 
tingled in warm throbs of bliss, so quick and sharp as to touch 
the verge of pain. A wonderful, unknown fascination drew 



408 HANNAH THTJESTON: 

her lips to his. She felt the passionate pressure ; her frame 
trembled ; she heard the door open and close as in a dream, 
and blindly felt her way to the staircase, where she sank upon 
the lower step and buried her face in her hands. 

She neither thought, nor strove to think. The kiss burned 
on and on, and every throb of her pulses seemed to break in 
starry radiations of light along her nerves. Dissolving rings 
of color and splendor formed and faded under her closed lids, 
and the blood of a new life rustled in her ears, as if the spirits 
of newly-opened flowers were whispering in the summer wind. 
She was lapped in a spell too delicious to break an exquisite 
drunkenness of her being, beside which all narcotics would 
have been gross. External sounds appealed no more to her 
senses ; the present, with its unfinished struggles, its torturing 
doubts, its prophecies of coming sorrow, faded far away, and 
Her soul lay helpless and unresisting in the arms of a single 
sensation. 

All at once, a keen, excited voice, close at hand, called her 
name. It summoned her to herself with a start which took 
away her breath. 

"My dear girl! Good gracious, what's the matter!" ex- 
claimed Mrs. Waldo, who stood before her. " I saw your 
mother was asleep, and I've been hunting you all over the 
house. You were not asleep, too ?" 

" I believe I was trying to think." 

" Bless me, haven't you thought enough yet ? I should say, 
from the look of your face, that you had seen a ghost no, it 
must have been an angel ! Don't look so, my dear, or I shall 
be afraid that you are going to die." 

" If I were to die, it would make all things clear," Hannah 
Thurston answered, with a strong effort of self-control ; " but 
I must first learn to live. Do not be alarmed on my account. 
I am troubled and anxious : I am not my old self." 

"I don't wonder at it," rejoined Mrs. Waldo, tenderly. 
" You must see the loss that is coming, as well as the rest 
of us." 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN UFE. 409 

" Yes, I know that my mother can never recover, and I begin, 
already, to shrink from the parting, as if it were close at hand." 

" Oh, my dear," cried Mrs. Waldo, melting into tears, " don't 
you see the truth yet? Don't you see that the parting is 
close at hand ? I was afraid you did not know ; your mother, 
I was sure, would not tell you ; but, putting myself in your 
place, I did not think it right that you should be kept in igno- 
rance. She is failing very fast." 

Hannah Thurston grew very pale. Her friend led her 
through the door, and out into the little garden in the rear of 
the cottage. Some wind, far away to the west, had lifted 
into a low arch the gray concave of cloud, and through this 
arch the sinking sun poured an intense, angry, brassy light 
over the tree-tops and along the hillside fields. They leaned 
against the paling at the bottom of the garden, and looked 
silently on the fiery landscape. Hannah was the first to speak. 

" You are a good friend to me," she said ; " I thank you for 
the knowledge. I knew the blow must come, but I hoped 
it might be delayed a little longer. I must bear it with what 
strength I may." 

" God will help you, Hannah," said Mrs. Waldo, wiping 
away her tears. " He measures the burden for the back that 
is to bear it." 

Woodbury walked home alone, without waiting, as usual, 
for Bute and the buggy. He threw back his shoulders and in- 
haled long draughts of the fresher evening air, with the relief 
of a man who has performed a trying task. He had full confi- 
dence in the completeness of his victory, yet he saw how na* 
rowly he had escaped defeat. Had his mind not been piv 
viously occupied with this woman had he not penetrated to 
the secret of her nature had he not been bold enough to stake 
his fortune on the inherent power of his manhood, he must 
have failed to break down those ramparts of false pride which 
she had built up around her 1 heart. A man of shallower knowl- 
edge would have endeavored to conquer by resistance would 
have been stung by her fierce assertion of independence, 
18 



410 HANNAH THFRSTON: 

utterly mistaking the source from whence it sprang. In him 
it simply aroused a glorious sense of power, which he knew 
how to curb to the needs of the moment. It thrilled him 
with admiration, like the magnificent resistance of some wild 
mare of the steppes, caught in the hunter's lasso. It betrayed 
an unsuspected capacity for passion which could satisfy the 
cravings of his heart. This is no tame, insipid, feminine crea- 
ture, he thought ; but a full-blown woman, splendid in her 
powers, splendid in her faults, and unapproachable in that 
truth and tenderness which would yet bring her nature into 
harmony with his own. 

A part of the power he had drawn from her seemed to be 
absorbed into his own being. The rapid flow of his blood 
lifted his feet and bore him with winged steps down the valley. 
His heart overleaped the uncertainties yet to be solved, and 
stood already, deep in the domestic future. After crossing 
Roaring Brook, he left the road and struck across his own 
meadows and fields in order to select a site, at once convenient 
and picturesque, for the cottage which he must build for Bute. 
Of course there could not be two households at Lakeside. 

The next day made good the threat of the brassy sunset 
It rained in wild and driving gusts, and the sky was filled with 
the rifled gold of the forests. Woodbury paced his library 
impatiently, unable to read or write, and finally became so 
restless that he ordered dinner an hour before his accustomed 
time, to Mrs. Carrie Wilson's great dismay. Bute was no less 
astonished when Diamond and the buggy were demanded. 
" Why, Mr. Max. !" he exclaimed ; " you're not goin' out such 
a day as this ? Can't I go for you ?" 

" I have pressing business, Bute, that nobody can attend to 
but myself. Don't let your tea wait for me, Mrs. Wilson : I 
may be late." 

Leaving the happy pair--happy in the rain which kept 
them all day to each other to their wonder and their anxious 
surmises, Woodbury drove through the wind, and rain, and 
splashing mud, to the Widow Thur.ston's cottage. Hannah 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 411 

met him with an air of touching frankness and reliance, clasp- 
ing his hand with a tender firmness which atoned for the 
silence of her lips. She looked pale and exhausted, but 
a soft, rosy flush passed over her face and faded away. 

"I will tell mother you have come," she said. The next 
moment she reappeared at the door of the sick-room, and 
beckoned him to enter. 

The widow was still in bed, and it was plainly to be seen 
that she would never leave it again. The bouquet of gentian 
and life-everlasting stood on a little. table near her head. Her 
prim Quaker cap was uncrumpled by the pillow, and a light 
fawn-colored shawl enveloped her shoulders. She might have 
been placed in the gallery of the meeting-house, among her 
sister Friends, without a single fold being changed. Her thin 
hands rested weakly on the coverlet, and her voice was 
scarcely above a whisper, but the strong soul which had sus- 
tained her life was yet clear in her eye. 

The daughter placed a chair for Woodbury by the bedside. 
He sat down and took the old woman's hand in both his own. 
She looked at him with a gentle, affectionate, motherly benig- 
nity, which made his eyes dim with the thought of his own 
scarcely-remembered mother. 

"Maxwell," she said at last, "thee sees my days on the 
earth are not many. Thee will be honest with me, therefore, 
and answer me out of thy heart. I have not had many oppor- 
tunities of seeing thee, but thee had my confidence from the 
first. Thee has had thy struggles with the world ; thee is old 
enough to know thyself, and I will believe that thee hast 
learned to know Hannah, truly. She is not like other girls : 
she was always inclined to go her own way, but she has never 
failed in her duty to me, and I am sure she will not fail in her 
duty as thy wife." 

Hannah, sitting at the foot of the bed, started at these 
words. She looked imploringly at her mother, but did not 
speak. 

" Yes, Hannah," continued the old woman, " I have no 



412 HANNAH THUKSTON I 

fears for thee, when thee once comes to understand thy true 
place as a woman. Thee was always more like thy father than 
like me. I see that it has not been easy for thee to give up 
thy ideas of independence, but I am sure that thy husband 
will be gentle and forbearing, so that thee will hardly feel the 
yoke. Will thee not, Maxwell ?" 

"I will," Woodbury replied. "I have told your daughter 
that I impose no conditions upon our union. It was the 
purity and truth of her nature which drew me almost against 
my will, to love her. I have such entire faith in that truth, 
that I believe we shall gradually come into complete harmony, 
not only in our feelings and aspirations, but even in our 
external views of life. I am ready to sacrifice whatever 
individual convictions may stand in the way of our mutual ap- 
proach, and I only ask of Hannah that she will allow, not 
resist, the natural progress of her heart in the knowledge of 
itself." 

" Thee hears what he says ?" said the old woman, turning 
her eyes on her daughter. " Maxwell has answered the ques- 
tion I intended to ask: he loves thee, Hannah, as thee 
deserves to be loved. The thought of leaving thee alone in 
the world was a cross which I could not bring my mind to 
bear. The Lord has been merciful. He has led to thee the 
only man into whose hands I can deliver thee, with the cer- 
tainty that he will be thy stay and thy happiness when I am 
gone. Tell me, my daughter, does thee answer his affection 
in the same spirit ?" 

"Mother," sobbed Hannah, "thee knows I would show 
thee my heart if I could. Maxwell deserves all the honor and 
gratitude I am capable of giving : he has been most noble and 
just and tender towards me: I cannot reject him it is not in 
my nature and yet don't think hard of me, mother it has 
all come so suddenly, it is so new and strange " 

Here she paused and covered her face, unable to speak 
further. 

"It seems that I know thee better than I thought," said 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 413 

the widow, and something like a smile flitted over her wasted 
features. " Thee needn't say any thing more : my mind is 
at rest. Come nearer to me, here, and seat thyself at Max- 
well's side. I have a serious concern upon me, and you must 
both bear with me while I tell it." 

The daughter came and seated herself at the head of the 
bed, beside Woodbury. The mother's right hand seemed to 
feel for hers, and she gave it. The other found its way, she 
knew not how, into his. The old woman looked at them both, 
and the expression of peace and resignation left her eyes. 
They were filled with a tender longing which she hesitated to 
put into words. In place of the latter came tears, and then 
her tongue was loosed. 

"My children," she whispered, "it is best to be plain with 
you. From day to day I expect to hear the Master's call. I 
have done with the things of this life ; my work is over, and 
now the night cometh, when I shall rest. The thought came 
to me in the silent watches, when I lifted up my soul to the 
Lord and thanked Him that He had heard my prayer. I 
thought, then, that nothing more was wanting ; and, indeed, 
it may be unreasonable of me to ask more. But what I ask 
seems to be included in what has already happened. I know 
the instability of earthly things, and I should like to see with 
these eyes, the security of my daughter's fate. Maxwell, I 
lost the little son who would have been so near thy age had he 
lived. Will thee give me the right to call thee c son' in his 
place ? Is thee so sure of thy heart that thee could give Han- 
nah thy name now ? It is a foolish wish of mine, I know ; but 
if you love each other, children, you may be glad, in the 
coining time, that the poor old mother lived to see and to 
bless your union !" 

Woodbury was profoundly moved. He tenderly kissed the 
wasted hand he held, and said, in a hushed, reverential voice : 
" I am sure of my own heart. With your daughter's consent, 
it shall be as you say." 

" Mother, mother !" cried Hannah : " I cannot leave thee !" 



414 HANNAH THUESTON: 

" Thee shall not, child. I would not ask it of thee. Max- 
well knows what I mean : nothing shall be changed while 
I live, but you will not be parted for long. Nay, perhaps, 
I am selfish in this thing. Tell me, honestly, my children, 
would it make your wedding sad, when it should be joy- 
ful ?" 

" It will make it sacred," Woodbury answered. 

" I will not ask too much of thee, Hannah," the widow con- 
tinued. " What I wish would give me a feeling of comfort 
and security ; but I know I ought to be satisfied without it. I 
have had my own concerns on thy account ; I saw a thorny 
path before thee if thee were obliged to walk through life 
alone, and I feared thee would never willingly bend thy neck 
to wear the pleasant yoke of a wife. If I knew that thy lot 
was fixed, in truth ; if I could hear thee speak the words 
which tell me that I have not lost a daughter but gained a 
son, the last remaining bitterness would be taken from death, 
and I would gladly arise and go to my Father !" 

All remaining power of resistance was taken away from 
Hannah Thurston. She had yielded so far that she could no 
longer retreat with honor. Woodbury had taken, almost even 
before he claimed it, the first place in her thoughts, and though 
she still scarcely confessed to herself that she loved him as 
her husband should be loved, yet her whole being was pene- 
trated with the presentiment of coming love. If she still 
feebly strove to beat back the rising tide, it was not from fear 
of her inability to return the trust he gave, but rather a me- 
chanical effort to retain the independence which she felt to be 
gradually slipping from her grasp. Her mother's words 
showed her that she, also, foreboded this struggle and doubted 
its solution ; she had, alas ! given her cause to mistrust the 
unexpected emotion. Towards men towards Woodbury, 
especially she had showed herself hard and unjust in that 
mother's eyes. Could she refuse to remove the unspoken 
doubt by postponing a union, which, she acknowledged to her- 
self, was destined to come ? Could she longer hold back her 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 415 

entire faith from Woodbury, with his parting kiss of yesterday 
still warm upon her lips ? 

She leaned forward, and bent her head upon the old wo- 
man's breast. " Mother," she said, in a scarcely audible voice, 
" it shall be as thee wishes." 

The widow tenderly stroked her dark-brown hair. " If I 
were not sure it was right, Hannah," she said, " I would give 
thee back thy consent. Let it be soon, pray, for I see that 
my sojourn with you is well-nigh its end." 

"Let it be to-morrow, Hannah*," Woodbury then said. 
" Every thing shall be afterwards as it was before. I will not 
take you from your mother's bedside, but you will simply give 
me the right to offer, and her the right to receive, a son's help 
and comfort." 

It was so arranged. Only the persons most intimately con- 
nected with both Waldos, Merryfields, Bute and Carrie 
were to be informed of the circumstances and invited to be 
present. Mr. Waldo, of course, was to solemnize the union, 
though the widow asked that the Quaker form of marriage 
should first be repeated in her presence. She was exhausted 
by the interview, and Woodbury soon took his leave, to give 
the necessary announcements. 

' Hannah accompanied him to the door, and when it closed 
behind him, murmured to herself: 

" I strove against the stream, and strove in vain 
Let the great river bear me to the main!" 

The Waldos were alone in their little parlor alone, but 
not lonely ; for they were one of those fortunate wedded pairs 
who never tire of their own society. The appearance of 
Woodbury, out of the wind and rain, was a welcome surprise, 
and they both greeted him with hearty delight. 

" Husband," cried Mrs. Waldo, " do put the poor horse into 
our stable, beside Dobbin. Mr. Woodbury will not think of 
going home until after tea." 

The clergyman was half-way through the door before the- 



416 HANNAH THTJKSTON: 

guest could grasp his arm. " Stay, if you please," he said ; " I 
have something to say, at once, to both of you." 

His voice was so grave and earnest, that they turned 
towards him with a sudden alarm. Something in his face 
tranquilized while it perplexed them. 

"I once promised you, Mrs. Waldo," he continued, "that 
your husband should perform the marriage ceremony for me. 
The time has come when I can fulfil my promise. I am to be 
married to-morrow !" 

The clergyman's lips receded so as to exhibit, not only all 
of bis teeth, but also a considerable portion of the gums. His 
wife's dark eyes expanded, her hands involuntarily came 
together in a violent clasp, and her breath was suspended. 

"I am to be married to-morrow," Woodbury repeated, 
" to Hannah Thurston." 

Mrs. Waldo dropped into the nearest chair. " It's a poor 
joke," she said, at last, with a feeble attempt to laugh ; " and 
I shouldn't have believed you could make it." 

In a very few words he told them the truth. The next 
moment, Mrs. Waldo sprang upon her feet, threw both arms 
around him, and kissed him tempestuously. " I can't help it, 
husband !" she cried, giving way to a mild hysterical fit of 
laughter and tears : " It's so rarely things happen as they 
ought, in this world ! What a fool I've been, to think you 
hated each other ! I shall never trust my eyes again, no, nor 
my ears, nor my stupid brains. I'll warrant Mrs. Blake was 
a deal sharper than I have been ; see if she is surprised when 
you send her word ! Oh, you dear people, how happy you 
have made me I'd rather it should come so than that hus- 
band should get a thousand converts, and build the biggest 
church in Ptolemy !" 

Mr. Waldo also was moved, in his peculiar fashion. He 
cleared his throat as if about to commence a prayer, walked 
three times to the door and back, squeezing Woodbury's 
hand afresh at each return, and finally went to the window 
and remarked : " It is very stormy to-day." 



A STOBY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 41 7 

In proportion as the good people recovered from their 
happy amazement, Woodbury found it difficult to tear himself 
away. They stormed him with questions about the rise and 
progress of his attachment, which his sense of delicacy for- 
bade him to answer. " It is enough," he said, " that we love 
each other, and that we are to be married to-morrow." 
As he turned his horse's head towards Ptolemy, a figure 
wrapped in an old cloak and with a shapeless quilted hood 
upon the head, appeared on the plank sidewalk hastening 
in the direction of the widow's cottage. It was Mrs. 
Waldo. 

The Merryfields were also at home when he called. Their 
life had, of late, been much more quiet, and subdued than former- 
ly, and hence they have almost vanished out of this history ; 
but, from the friendly relation which they bore to Hannah 
Thurston, they could not well be omitted from the morrow's 
occasion. The news was unexpected, but did not seem to 
astonish them greatly, as they were both persons of slow per- 
ceptions, and had not particularly busied their minds about 
either of the parties. 

"I'm sure I'm very glad, as it were," said Mr. Merryfield. 
" There are not many girls like Hannah Thurston, and she 
deserves to be well provided for." 

" Yes, it's a good thing for her," remarked his wife, with 
a little touch of malice, which, however, was all upon the 
surface; "but Women's Rights will be what they always 
was, if their advocates give them up." 

Darkness was setting down, and the rain fell in torrents, as 
Woodbury reached Lakeside. Bute, who had been coming 
to the door every five minutes for the last hour, had heard the 
rattling of wheels through the storm, and the Irishman 
was already summoned to take charge of the horse. In the 
sitting-room it was snug, and bright, and cheerful. A wood- 
fire blazed on the hearth, and Mrs. Carrie, with a silk handker- 
chief tied under her chin, was dodging about the tea-table. 
By the kindly glow in his heart towards these two happy 
18* 



418 HANNAH THUKSTON : 

creatures, Woodbury felt that his cure was complete ; their 
bliss no longer had power to disturb him. 

"How pleasant it is here !" he said. "You really make the 
house home-like, Mrs. Wilson." 

Carrie's eyes sparkled and her cheeks reddened with de- 
light. Bute thought : " He's had no unlucky business, after 
all." But he was discreet enough to ask no questions. 

After tea, Woodbury did not go into the library, as usual. 
He drew a chair towards the fire, and for a while watched Mrs. 
Wilson's fingers, as they rapidly plied the needles upon a pair 
of winter socks for Bute. The latter sat on the other side of 
the fire, reading Dana's " Two Years before the Mast." 

" Bute," said Woodbury, suddenly, " do you think we have 
room for another, in the house ?" 

To his surprise, Bute blushed up to the temples, and seemed 
embarrassed how to answer. He looked stealthily at Carrie. 

Woodbury smiled, and hastened to release him from his 
error. " Because," said he, " you brought something to Lake- 
side more contagious than your fever. I have caught it, and 
now I am going to marry." 

" Oh, Mr. Max., you don't mean it ! It's not Miss Amelia 
Smith?" 

Woodbury burst into a laugh. 

" How can you think of such a thing, Bute ?" exclaimed his 
wife. "There's only one woman in all Ptolemy worthy of 
Mr. Woodbury, and yet I'm afraid it isn't her." 

" Who, Mrs. Wilson ?" 

" You won't be offended, Sir, will you ? I mean Hannah 
Thurston." 

" You have guessed it !" 

Carrie gave a little scream and dropped her knitting. Bute 
tried to laugh, but something caught in his throat, and in his 
efforts to swallow it the water came into his eyes. 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 419 



CHAPTER XXXHI. 

CONCERNING MARRIAGE, DEATH, GOSSIP, AND GOING HOME. 

THE occasion which called the few friends together at the 
cottage, the next morning, was sad and touching, as well as 
joyful. At least, each one felt that the usual cheerful sympa- 
thy with consummated love would be out of place, in circum- 
stances so unusual and solemn. The widow felt that she was 
robbing her daughter's marriage of that sunshine which of 
right belonged to it, but in this, as in all other important de- 
cisions of life, she was guided by " the spirit." She perceived, 
indeed, that Hannah had not yet reached the full consciousness 
of her love that the fixed characteristics of her mind fought 
continually against her heart, and would so fight while any 
apparent freedom of will remained ; and, precisely for this rea- 
son, the last exercise of maternal authority was justified to her 
own soul. In the clairvoyance of approaching death she 
looked far enough into the future to know that, without this 
bond, her daughter's happiness was uncertain : with it, she 
saw the struggling elements resolve themselves into harmony. 

Wbodbury suspected the mother's doubt, though he did not 
share it to the same extent. He believed that the fierce- 
ness of the struggle was over. The chain was forged, and by 
careful forbearance and tenderness it might be imperceptibly 
clasped. There were still questions to be settled, but he had 
already abdicated the right of control ; he had intrusted their 
solution to the natural operation of time and love. He would 
neither offer nor accept any express stipulations of rights, for 
this one promise embraced them all. Her nature could only 
be soothed to content in its new destiny by the deeper knowl- 



420 HANNAH THUKSTON: 



edge which that destiny would bring, and therefore, the 
mother's request was perhaps best for both. It only imposed 
upon him a more guarded duty, a more watchful self-control, 
in the newness of their relation to each other. 

Mrs. Waldo, unable to sleep all night from the excitement 
of her honest heart, was with Hannah Thurston early in the 
morning. It was as well, no doubt, that the latter was allowed 
no time for solitary reflection, as the hour approached. By 
ten o'clock the other friends, who had first driven to the Cim- 
merian Parsonage, made their appearance in the little sitting- 
room. Woodbury came in company with Mr. Waldo, followed 
by Bute and Carrie. He was simply dressed in black, without 
the elaborate waistcoat and cravat of a bridegroom. But for 
the cut of his coat collar, the Friends themselves would not 
have found fault with his apparel. His face was calm and 
serene : whatever emotion he felt did not appear on the 
surface. 

Mrs. Merryfield, in a lavender-colored silk, which made her 
sallow complexion appear worse than ever, occasionally raised 
her handkerchief to her eyes, although there were no signs of 
unusual moisture in them. 

The door to the invalid's room was open, and the bed had 
been moved near it, so that she could both see and converse 
with the company in the sitting-room. Her spotless book- 
muslin handkerchief and shawl of white crape-silk were 
scarcely whiter than her face, but a deep and quiet content 
dwelt in her eyes and gave its sweetness to her feeble voice. 
She greeted them all with a grateful and kindly cheerfulness. 
The solemnity of the hour was scarcely above the earnest 
level of her life ; it was an atmosphere in which her soul 
moved light and free. 

Presently Hannah Thurston came into the room. She was 
dressed in white muslin, with a very plain lace collar and knot 
of white satin ribbon. Her soft dark hair, unadorned by a 
single flower, was brought a little further forward on the tem- 
ples, giving a gentler feminine outline to her brow. Her face 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 421 

was composed and pale, but for a spot of red on each cheek, 
and a singularly vague, weary expression in her eyes. When 
Woodbury took her hand it was icy cold. She received the 
greetings of the others quietly, and then went forward to the 
bedside, at the beckon of her mother. The latter had been 
allowed to direct the ceremony according to her wish, and 
the time had now arrived. 

The bridal pair took their seats in the sitting-room, side by 
side, and facing the open door where the invalid lay. The 
guests, on either side of them, formed a half-circle, so arranged 
that she could see them all. She, indeed, seemed to be the 
officiating priestess, on whom depended the solemnization of 
the rite. After a few moments of silence, such as is taken for 
worship in Quaker meetings, she began to speak. Her voice 
gathered strength as she proceeded, and assumed the clear, 
chanting tone with which, in former years, she had been wont 
to preach from the gallery where she sat among the women- 
elders of the sect. 

" My friends," she said, " I feel moved to say a few words 
to you all. I feel that you have not come here without a 
realizing sense of the occasion which has called you together, 
and that your hearts are prepared to sympathize with those 
which are now to be joined in the sight of the Lord. I have 
asked of them that they allow mine eyes, in the short time 
that is left to me for the things of earth, to look upon their 
union. When I have seen that, I can make my peace with 
the world, and, although I have not been in all things a faith- 
ful servant, I can hope that the joy of the Lord will not be 
shut out from my soul. I feel the approach of the peace that 
passeth understanding, and would not wish that, for my 
sake, the house of gladness be made the house of mourning. 
Let your hearts be not disturbed by the thought of me. Re- 
joice, rather, that the son I lost so long ago is found at the 
eleventh hour, and that the prop for which I sought, for 
strength to walk through the Valley of the Shadow, is merci- 
fully placed in my hands. For I say unto you all, the pure 



422 HANNAH TIIUESTON . 

affection of the human heart is likest the love of the Heavenly 
Father, and they who bestow most of the one shall deserve 
most of the other !" 

She ceased speaking, and made a sign with her hand. The 
hearts of the hearers were thrilled with a solemn, reverential 
awe, as if something more than a human presence overshadowed 
them. Woodbury and Hannah arose, in obedience to her 
signal, and moved a step towards her. The former had learned 
the simple formula of the Friends, and was ready to perform 
his part. Taking Hannah's right hand in his own, he spoke 
in a clear, low, earnest voice : " In the presence of the Lord, 
and these, our friends, I take Hannah Thurston by the hand, 
promising, through Divine assistance, to be unto her a loving 
and faithful husband, until Death shall separate us." 

It was now the woman's turn. Perhaps Woodbury may 
have felt a pulse fluttering in the hand he held, but no one saw 
a tremor of weakness in her frame or heard it in the firm, 
perfect sweetness of her voice. She looked in his eyes as she 
pronounced the words, as if her look should carry to his heart 
the significance of the vow. When she had spoken, Mr. Waldo 
rose, and performed the scarcely less simple ceremonial of the 
Cimmerian Church. After he had pronounced them man and 
wife, with his hands resting on theirs linked in each other, he 
made a benedictory prayer. He spoke manfully to the end, 
though his eyes overflowed, and his practised voice threatened 
at every moment to break. His hearers had melted long be- 
fore : only the Widow Thurston and the newly-wedded pair 
preserved their composure. They were beyond the reach of 
sentiment, no matter how tender. None 'of the others sus- 
pected what a battle had been fought, nor what deeper issues 
were involved in the victory. 

The two then moved to the bedside, and the old woman 
kissed them both. " Mother," said Woodbury, " let me be a 
son to you in truth as in name." 

" Richard !" she cried, " my dear boy ! Thee is welcomer 
than Richard, for Hannah's sake. Children, have faith in each 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 423 

other bear each other's burdens. Hannah, is there peace in 
thy heart now ?" 

"Mother, I have promised," she answered ; "I have given 
my life into Maxwell's hands : peace will come to me." 

" The Lord give it to thee, as He hath given it to me !" 
She closed her eyes, utterly exhausted, but happy. 

The marriage certificate was then produced and signed by 
those present, after which they took their leave. Woodbury 
remained until evening, assisting his wife in her attendance on 
the invalid, or keeping her company ki the sitting-room, when 
the latter slept. He said nothing of his love, or his new claim 
upon her. Rightly judging that her nature needed rest, after 
the severe tension of the past week, he sought to engage her 
in talk that would call her thoughts away from herself. He 
was so successful in this that the hours fled fast, and when he 
left with the falling night, to return to Lakeside, she felt as if 
a stay had been withdrawn from her. 

The next morning he was back again at an early hour, taking 
his place as one of the household, as quietly and unobtrusively 
as if he had long been accustomed to it. Another atmosphere 
came into the cottage with him a sense of strength and reli- 
ance, and tender, protecting care, which was exceedingly 
grateful to Hannah. The chaos of her emotions was already 
beginning to subside, or, rather, to set towards her husband in 
a current that grew swifter day after day. The knowledge 
that her fate was already determined silenced at once what 
would otherwise have been her severest conflict; her chief 
remaining task was to reconcile the cherished aims of her 
mind with the new sphere of duties which encompassed her 
life. At present, however, even this task must be postponed. 
She dared think of nothing but her mother, and Wood- 
bury's share in the cares and duties of the moment became 
more and more welcome and grateful. It thrilled her with a 
sweet sense of the kinship of their hearts, when she heard him 
address the old woman as " mother" when his arm, as ten- 
der as strong, lifted that mother from the bed to the rocking- 



424 HANNAH THURSTON: 



chair, and back again when she saw the wasted face brighten 
at his coming, and heard the voice of wandering memory call 
him, in the wakeful watches of the night. She, too, counted 
the minutes of the morning until he appeared, and felt the 
twilight drop more darkly before the cottage- windows after 
he had gone. 

But, as the widow had promised, she did not part them 
long. On the fifth day after the marriage she sank peacefully 
to rest, towards sunset, with a gradual, painless fading out of 
life, which touched the hearts of the watchers only with the 
solemn beauty and mystery of death, not with its terror. 
Her external consciousness had ceased, some hours before, but 
she foresaw the coming of the inevitable hour, and there was 
a glad resignation in her farewell to her daughter and her 
newly-found sou. " Love one another !" were her last, faintly- 
whispered words, as her eyes closed on both. 

Hannah shrank from leaving the cottage before the last 
rites had been performed, and Miss Sophia Stevenson, as 
well as Mrs. Waldo, offered to remain with her. Woodbury 
took charge of the arrangements for the funeral, which were 
simple and unostentatious, as became the habit of her sect. 

A vague impression of what had happened was floating 
through Ptolemy, but was generally received with an incredu- 
lity far from consistent with the avidity of village gossip. 
The death of the Widow Thurston had been anticipated, but 
the previous marriage of her daughter was an event so as- 
tounding so completely unheralded by the usual prognostica- 
tions, and so far beyond the reach of any supposable cause 
that the mind of Ptolemy was slow to receive it as truth. By 
the day of the funeral, however, the evidences had accumulated 
to an extent that challenged further doubt. But doubters and 
believers alike determined to profit by the occasion to gratify 
their curiosity under the Christian pretext of showing respect 
to the departed. The rumor had even reached Atauga City 
by the evening stage, and the Misses Smith, having recently 
supplied them elves with lilac dresses, which, as a half-mourn- 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 425 

ing color, would not be inappropriate, resolved also to attend 
the funeral services. 

As the hour drew nigh, the road in front of the little cot- 
tage was crowded with vehicles. It was a mild, sunny Oc- 
tober afternoon, and as the room in which the corpse lay would 
not contain a tenth part of the guests, they filled the yard and 
garden and even the side- walk in front, entering the house as 
they arrived, to take that silent look at the dead which is sug- 
gested, let us believe, more by human sympathy than by hu- 
man curiosity. And, indeed, a solemn loveliness of repose 
rested on the thin, composed features of the corpse. All 
shadow of pain had passed away, and an aspect of ineffable 
peace and comfort had settled in its place. Her hands were 
laid, one over the other, upon her breast not with the stony 
pressure of death, but as if in the light unconsciousness of 
sleep. Upon the coffin-lid lay a wreath of life-everlasting, its 
gray, silvery leaves and rich, enduring odor, harmonizing well 
with the subdued tastes and the quiet integrity of the sect to 
which the old widow had belonged. Even the Rev. Lemuel 
Styles, to whom the term " Quaker" implied a milder form 
of infidelity, stood for a long time beside the coffin, absorbed 
in the beauty of the calm, dead face, and murmured as he 
turned'away : " She hath found Peace." 

Two old Friends from Tiberius, with their wives, were also 
in attendance, and the latter devoted themselves to Hannah, 
as if it were a special duty imposed upon them. Before the 
coffin-lid was screwed down, they sat for some time beside the 
corpse, with their handkerchiefs pressed tightly over their 
mouths. Their husbands, with Mr. Waldo and Merryfield, 
bore the coffin to the hearse. The guests gathered around 
and in front of the house now began to open their eyes and 
prick their ears. The daughter must presently appear, as first 
of the mourners, and in company with her husband, if she 
were really married. They had not long to wait. Hannah, 
leaning on Woodbury's arm, issued from the front door of 
the cottage, and slowly passed down the gravel walk to the 



426 HANNAH THTJKSTON I 

carriage in waiting. Her unveiled face was pale and pro- 
foundly sad ; her eyes were cast down, and none of the com- 
pany caught their full glance. Woodbury's countenance in- 
dicated the grave and tender sympathy which filled his heart. 
He saw the spectators, without seeming to notice them, 
and the keenest curiosity was baffled by his thorough self- 
possession. Both were surrounded by an atmosphere of sor- 
row and resignation, in which all expression of their new 
nuptial relation was lost. They might have been married for 
years, so far as any thing could be guessed from their manner. 

The other carriages gradually received their occupants and 
followed, in the order of their nearness to the deceased, 
whether in the bonds of sect or those of friendship. Among 
these the Waldos claimed a prominent place and the Merry- 
fields were close behind them. The procession was unusually 
large ; it seemed, indeed, as if all Ptolemy were present. On 
reaching the Cimmerian churchyard, Bute and the farmers 
whose lands adjoined Lakeside were on hand to assist the 
mourners and their friends in alighting from the carriages, and 
to take care of the horses. The grave was dug at a little dis- 
tance from those of the Cimmerians, in a plot of soft, un- 
broken turf. Supports were laid across its open mouth, and 
when the coffin had been deposited thereon, preparatory to being 
lowered, and the crowd had gathered in a silent ring, enclosing 
the mourners and their immediate friends, one of the Friends 
took off his broad-brimmed hat and in simple, eloquent words, 
bore testimony to the truth and uprightness, to the Christian 
trust and Christian patience of the departed. The two women 
again pressed their handkerchiefs violently upon their mouths, 
while he spoke. Woodbury took off his hat and reverently 
bent his head, though the other Friend stood bolt upright and 
remained covered. 

Mr. Waldo then followed, with an earnest, heart-felt prayer. 
He was scarcely aware how much he risked in thus conse- 
crating the burial of a Quaker woman, and it was fortunate 
that no laxity of doctrine could be discovered in the brief sen- 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 427 

tences lie uttered. It was not Doctrine, but Religion, which 
inspired his words, and the most intolerant of his hearers felt 
their power while secretly censuring the act. He, too, refer- 
red to the widow's life as an example of pious resignation, ana 
prayed that the same Christian virtue might come to dwell in 
the hearts of all present. 

When the coffin had been lowered, and the first spadeful 
of earth, though softly let down into the grave, dropped upon 
the lid with a muffled, hollow roll, Hannah started as if in pain, 
and clung with both hands to her husband's arm. He bent 
his head to her face and whispered a word ; what it was, no 
other ear than hers succeeded in hearing. The dull, rumbling 
sounds continued, until the crumbling whisper of the particles 
of earth denoted that the coffin was forever covered from 
sight. Then they turned away, leaving the mild Autumn 
sun to shine on the new mound, and the thrush to pipe his 
broken song over the silence of the dead. 

The moment the churchyard gate was passed, Ptolemy re- 
turned to its gossip. The incredulous fact was admitted, but 
the mystery surrounding it was not yet explained. In the few 
families who considered themselves "the upper circle," and 
were blessed with many daughters, to none of whom the rich 
owner of Lakeside had been indifferent, there was great and 
natural exasperation. 

u I consider it flying in the face of Providence," said Mrs. 
Hamilton Bue to her husband, as they drove homewards ; 
" for a man like him, who knows what society is, and ought 
to help to purtect it from fanaticism, to marry a strong-minded 
woman like she is. .And after all he said against their doc- 
trines ! I should call it hypocritical, I should !" 

" Martha," her husband answered, " If I were you, I 
wouldn't say much about it, for a while yet. He's only in- 
sured in the Saratoga Mutual for a year, to try it." 

Mrs. Styles consoled her sister, Miss Legrand, who at one 
time allowed herself dim hopes of interesting Woodbury in 
her behalf. *' I always feared that he was not entirely firm in 



428 HANNAH THTJKSTON: 



the faith ; he never seemed inclined to talk with Mr. Styles 
about it She, you know, is quite an Infidel, and, of course, 
he could not have been ignorant of it. It's very sad to see a 
man so misled 'the lust of the eye,' Harriet." 

" I should say it was witchcraft," Harriet remarked, with a 
snappish tone ; " she's a very plain-looking girl like an owl 
with her big gray eyes and straight hair." Miss Legrand 
wore iers in ropy ringlets of great length. 

" 1 shouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it with my 
own eyes !" exclaimed Miss Celia Smith to her sister, Miss 
Amelia. " I always thought they were dead set against each 
other." Miss Celia was more inclined to be emphatic than 
choice in her expressions. 

"They made believe they were," her sister replied. " She must 
have been afraid he'd back out, after all, or they wouldn't have 
been married so, right off the reel. It was her last chance : 
she's on the wrong side of thirty-five, I should say." Miss 
Amelia was thirty-three, herself, although she only confessed 
f /^ twenty-five. The memory of a certain sleigh-ride the 
winter before, during which her incessant fears of an overturn 
^bliged Woodbury to steady her with his arm, was fresh in 
her mind, with all its mingled sweet and bitter. Several 
virgin hearts shared the same thought, as the carriages went 
homeward that it was a shame, so it was, that this strong- 
minded woman, whom nobody imagined ever could be a rival, 
should sneak into the fold by night and carry off the pick of 
the masculine flock ! 

Meanwhile, the objects of all this gossip returned to the 
desolate cottage. When they entered the little sitting-room, 
Hannah's composure gave way, under the overwhelming sense 
of her loss which rushed upon her, as she saw that every thing 
was restored to its usual place, and the new life, without her 
mother, had commenced. Her tears flowed without restraint, 
and her husband allowed the emotion to exhaust itself before 
he attempted consolation. But at last he took her, still sob- 
bing, to his breast, and silently upheld her. 



A STOKT OF AMERICAN LIFE. 

" Hannah," he said, " my dear wife, how can I leave you here 
alone, to these sad associations ? This can no longer be your 
home. Come to me with your burden, and let me help you 
to bear it." 

" Oh, Maxwell," she answered, " you are my help and my 
comfort. No one else has the same right to share my sorrow. 
My place is beside you : I will try to fill it as I ought : but 
Maxwell can I, dare I enter your home as a bride, coming 
thus directly from the grave of my mother ?" 

"You will bring her blessing in the* freshness of its sanc- 
tity," he said. " Understand me, Hannah. In the reverence 
for your sorrow, my love is patient. Enter my home, now, as 
the guest of my heart, giving me only the right to soothe and 
comfort, until you can hear, without reproach, the voice of 
love." 

His noble consideration for her grief and her loneliness 
melted Hannah's heart. Through all the dreary sense of her 
loss penetrated the gratitude of love. She lifted her arms 
and clasped them about his neck. " Take me, my dear hus- 
band," she whispered, " take me, rebellious as I have been, 
unworthy as I am, and teach me to deserve your magnanimity." 

He took her home that evening, under the light of the rising 
moon, down the silence of the valley, through the gathering 
mists of the meadows, and under the falling of the golden 
leaves. The light of Lakeside twinkled, a ruddy star, to greet 
them, and with its brightening ray stole into her heart the 
first presentiment of Woman's Home. 



480 HANNAH THUKSTON: 



CHAPTER XXXIV. 

CONCERNING THE NEW HOUSEHOLD OF LAKESIDE. 

IN a day or two all the familiar articles of furniture which 
Hannah desired to retain, were transferred to Lakeside with her 
personal effects, and the cottage was closed until a new ten- 
ant could be found. In the first combined shock of grief and 
change, the secluded beauty of her new home was especially 
grateful. The influences of Nature, no less than the tender at- 
tentions of her husband, and the quiet, reverent respect of Bute 
and Carrie, gradually soothed and consoled her. Day after 
day the balmy southwest wind blew, hardly stirring the 
smoky purple of the air, through which glimmered the float- 
ing drifts of gossamer or the star-like tufts of wandering 
down. The dead flowers saw their future resurrection in 
these winged, emigrating seeds; the trees let fall the loosened 
splendor of their foliage, knowing that other summers were 
sheathed in the buds left behind ; even the sweet grass of the 
meadows bowed its dry crest submissively over the green 
heart of its perennial life. Every object expressed the infinite 
patience of Nature with her yearly recurring doom. The 
sun himself seemed to veil his beams in noonday haze, lest he 
should smite with too severe a lustre the nakedness of the 
landscape, as it slowly put off its garment of Itfe. 

For years past, she had been deprived of the opportunity 
so to breathe the enchantment of the heavenly season. As 
soon as the chill of the morning dew had left the earth, she 
went forth to the garden and orchard, and along the sunny 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 431 

margin of the whispering pine-wood behind the house, striving 
to comprehend the change that had come over her, and fit her 
views of life to harmony with it. In the afternoons she went, 
at Woodbury's side, to a knoll overhanging the lake, whence 
the landscape was broader and grander, opening northward 
beyond the point, where now and then a sail flashed dimly 
along the blue water. Here, sitting on the grassy brink, he 
told her of the wonderful life of the tropics, of his early hopes 
and struggles, of the cheating illusions he had cherished, the 
sadder knowledge he had wrested from experience, and that 
immortal philosophy of the heart in which all things are recon- 
ciled. He did* not directly advert to his passion for herself, 
but she felt it continually as the basis from which his confi- 
dences grew. He was a tender, trustful friend, presenting to 
her, leaf by leaf, the book of his life. She, too, gave him 
much of hers in return. She found a melancholy pleasure in 
speaking of the Past to one who had a right to know it, and 
to whom its most trifling feature was not indifferent. Her 
childhood, her opening girlhood, her education, her desire for 
all possible forms of cultivation, her undeveloped artistic sym- 
pathies and their conflict with the associations which surround- 
ed her all these returned, little by little, and her husband re- 
joiced to find in them fresh confirmations of the instinctive 
judgment, on the strength of which he had ventured his 
love. 

In the evenings they generally sat in the library, where he 
read to her from his choice stores of literature, and from the 
reading grew earnest mutual talk which calmed and refreshed 
her mind. The leisure of his long years in India had not been 
thrown away : he had developed and matured his natural 
taste for literature by the careful study of the English and 
French classics, and was familiar with the principal German 
and Italian authors, so far as they could be known through 
translations. He had also revived, to some extent, his musty 
knowledge of the Greek and Latin poets, and his taste had thus 
become pure and healthy in proportion to the variety of his 



432 HANNAH THURSTON: 

acquirements. Hannah had, now and then, perhaps (though 
this is doubtful, in the circumscribed community of Ptolemy), 
encountered men of equal culture, but none who had spoken 
to her as an equal, from the recognition of like capacities in 
her own mind. She saw, in this intercourse with her husband, 
the commencement of a new and inexhaustible intellectual 
enjoyment. That clamor of her nature for the supposed rights 
denied to her sex was, in part, the result of a baffled mental 
passion, which now saw the coveted satisfaction secured to 
it ; and thus the voice of her torment grew weaker day by 
day. 

Day by day, also, with scarce a spoken word of love, the 
relations between the two became more fond and intimate. 
Woodbury's admirable judgment taught him patience. He 
saw the color gradually coming back to the pale leaves of the 
flower, and foresaw the day when he might wear it on his 
bosom. The wind-tossed lake smoothed its surface more and 
more, and gleams of his own image were reflected back to him 
from the subsiding waves. The bride glided into the wife by 
a gentle, natural transition. She assumed her place as head 
of the household, and Carrie, who was always nervously 
anxious under the weight of the responsibility, transferred it 
gladly to her hands. The sense of her ownership in the treas- 
ures of Lakeside, which had at first seemed incredible, grew 
real by degrees, as she came to exercise her proper authority, 
and as her husband consulted with her in regard to the pro- 
posed changes in the garden and grounds. All these things 
inspired her with a new and delightful interest. The sky of 
her life brightened as the horizon grew wider. Her individ- 
ual sphere of action had formerly been limited on every side ; 
her tastes had been necessarily suppressed ; and the hard, 
utilitarian spirit, from which she shrank, in the associations of 
her sect, seemed to meet her equally wherever she turned. 
Her instinct of beauty was now liberated ; for Woodbury, 
possessing it himself, not only appreciated, but encouraged its 
vitality in her nature. The rooms took the impression of her 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 4X3 

taste, at first in minor details and then in general arrange- 
ments, and this external reflection of herself in the features of 
her home reacted upon her feelings, separating her by a con- 
stantly widening gulf from her maiden life. 

The gold of the forests corroded, the misty violet bloom of 
the Indian Summer was washed away by sharp winds and 
cold rains, and when winter set in, the fire on the domestic 
hearth burned with a warm, steady flame. Immediately after 
the marriage, Woodbury had not only picked out a very 
pretty site for the cottage which he must now build in earnest 
for Bute's occupancy, but had immediately engaged masons 
and carpenters to commence the work. It was on a low knob 
or spur of the elevation upon which stood his own house, but 
nearer the Anacreon road. Bute and Carrie were in ecstasies 
with the design, which was selected from " Downing's Land- 
scape Gardening." It was a story and a half high, with over- 
hanging balconies, in the Swiss 1 style, and promised to be a 
picturesque object in the view from Lakeside, especially as it 
would just hide the only ragged and unlovely spot in the 
landscape, to the left of Roaring Brook. By great exertion 
on Bute's part, it was gotten under roof, and then left for a 
winter's seasoning, before completion in the spring. This 
house and every thing connected with it took entire possession 
of the mind of Mrs. Carrie Wilson, and not a day passed with- 
out her consulting Hannah in regard to some internal or 
external arrangement. She would have flowered chintz cur- 
tains to the windows of the " best room" blue, with small 
pink roses : the stuff would be cheap and of course she would 
make them herself: would it be better to have them ruffled 
with the same, or an edging of the coarse cotton lace which 
she had learned to knit ? Bute had promised her a carpet, 
and they could furnish the room little by little, so that the 
expense would not be felt. " We must economize," she inva- 
riably added, at the close : " we are going to lay something 
by every year, and I want to show Bute that I can manage to 
have every thing nice and tasty, without spending much." 
19 



434 HANXAH THURSTON: 

The little woman still retained her admiration for Hannah, 
perhaps in an increased degree, now that Woodbury (for whom 
Carrie had conceived such a profound respect) had chosen 
her to be his wife. She confided to the latter all her wonder- 
ful plans for the future, utterly forgetful how they differed 
from the confidences which she had been accustomed to be- 
stow. Hannah could not help remarking her present uncon- 
sciousness of that ambition which she had once pitied as 
mistaken, though she had not the heart to check it. A similar 
change seemed to be taking place in herself. " Is it always 
so V" she reflected. "Is the fulfilment of our special destiny 
as women really the end of that lofty part which we resolved 
to take in the forward struggle of the race ? Was my desire 
to vindicate the just claims of my sex only the blind result of 
the relinquishment of earlier dreams 2, It cannot be : but this 
much is true that the restless mind is easily cradled to sleep 
on the beatings of a happy heart." 

The strict seclusion of her life was rarely broken. The 
Waldos and Merryfields came once or twice for a brief call, but 
Woodbury, though he went occasionally to Ptolemy, did not 
urge her to accompany him. Sometimes, on mild days, he 
drove with her over the hills, re-exploring for her the pic- 
turesque little nooks of the upland which he had discovered. 
Hannah was contented with this ; she knew that Society 
awaited her, after a time, but it could not now deny her that 
grateful repose, in which she gathered strength, and hope, and 
harmony with herself. Indeed, the life of Ptolemy flowed 
more quietly than usual, this season. The Great Sewing-Union 
was not reorganized, because the Cimmerians had decided on 
a " Donation Party" for Mr. Waldo's benefit, instead of a Fair ; 
the Abolitionists had not sufficient cohesive power without 
the assistance of Hannah and Mrs. Merryfieid, and prepared 
their contributions separately at home; and thus only ilio 
Mission Fund remained. The latter, however, was stimulated 
to fresh activity by the arrival of a package of letters, early 
in December, from Mrs. Jehiel Preeks (formerly Miss Eliza 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 435 

Clancy), dated from Cuddapah, in the Telugu Country. She had 
passed a week at Jutnapore, and was shocked to find that her 
brown namesake, for whom she had made the mousseline-de- 
Jaine frock with tucks, had been married a year, although not 
yet fourteen, and exhibited to her a spiritual grand-baby, on 
her arrival. She forwarded to Miss Ruhaney Goodwin a letter 
in the Telugu language from her son Elisha, which the spinster 
had framed and hung up beside her looking-glass. " It's 
more like bird tracks than any thing else," she whispered, con- 
fidentially, " but the sight of it gives nte a deal of comfort." 

Thus, the labors for the Mission Fund were resumed, but 
the young men who attended looked back to the days of 
the Great Sewing-Union with regret. The mixed composition 
of the latter had been its great charm, and even the ladies of 
the Fund missed the extended comparison of stuffs and pat- 
terns, and the wider range of mantua-making gossip which 
they had enjoyed during the previous winter. The curiosity 
in regard to the Wood bury s still continued to be rife; but 
Mrs. Waldo, who was continually appealed to, as their nearest 
friend, for an explanation of the mystery, knew no more than 
any of the others what had passed between the two before their 
marriage. The first sharpness of public comment on the oc- 
currence soon gave place to a more just and reasonable feeling. 
Both were popular, in a different way, in Ptolemy. A mod- 
erate amount of good-luck would not have been grudged to 
either, but that they should find it in each other was the 
thought which astounded the community. The strangest 
things, however, soon grow common-place, and all that had 
been said or thought, in the first period of \vonderment, was 
gradually forgotten. Both Mrs. Styles and Mrs. Hamilton 
Bue called at Lakeside, and went home well pleased with the 
kindly courtesy and hospitality which they received. They 
saw that the husband and wife evidently understood each other 
and were happy in the knowledge : any thing further than 
this the keenest scrutiny failed to discover. Woodbury had 
the coolness of a thorough man of the world in turning aside 



436 HANNAH TIITTRSTON I 

impertinent questions, such as many good persons, with their 4 
unformed American ideas of propriety, see no harm in asking. 
It is true that he sometimes gave offence in this way, but his 
apparent unconsciousness of the fact healed the wound, while 
it prevented a repetition of the impertinence. 

Hannah admired the self-possession of her husband, as a 
power, the attainment of which was beyond her own reach. 
The characteristic which had most repelled her, on their first 
acquaintance, was now that which threw around her a comfort- 
ing sense of protection and defence. It was not a callous con- 
dition of his finer sensibilities, she saw ; it was a part of his 
matured balance and repose of character, yet the latter still 
sometimes impressed her almost like coldness, in comparison 
Avith her own warmth of sentiment. For this reason, perhaps, 
as her love to him deepened and strengthened as his being 
became more and more a blissful necessity his composed, un- 
changing tenderness often failed to satisfy, in full measure, 
the yearnings of her heart. While she was growing in the 
richness of her affections, he seemed to be standing still. 

With all Woodbury's experience of woman, he had yet 
much to learn. No course could have been better chosen than 
the delicate and generous consideration which he exhibited 
towards his wife, up to a certain point. His mistake was, that 
he continued it long after the necessity had ceased, and when, 
to hei' changed nature, it suggested a conscientious sense of 
justice rather than the watchfulness of love. He was waiting 
for her heart to reach the knowledge which already filled it to 
overflowing, betraying itself daily by a subtle language which 
he did not understand. The experiences through which he 
had passed had familiarized him with the presence of passion 
in himself: his heart did not throb less powerfully, but it 
throbbed beneath a mask of calmness which had been sternly 
enforced upon him. He did not reflect that his wife, with all 
the pervading passion of the ripened woman, still possessed, 
in this her first love, the timidity of a girl, and could not ask 
for that independent speech of the heart which he withheld. 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 437 

Even with regard to the questions which had so nearly "kept 
them asunder, she would have preferred frank discussion to 
silence. Here, however, he had promised her full liberty of 
action, and she could not refer to them without a seeming 
doubt of his word. Once or twice, indeed she timidly ap- 
proached the subject, but he had avoided it with a gentleness 
and kindness which she could not resist. She suffered no re- 
proach to rest upon him, in her inmost thought ; she reproached 
herself for having invoked the promise for having obliged 
him to raise the thin, impalpable screen which still interposed 
itself between their hearts. Mrs. Styles, in reporting her 
visit, had said : " they look as if they had already been mar- 
ried ten years," and she had said truly. That calm, which 
was so grateful in the first tumult of the wife's feelings, which 
enabled her to pass through the transition of her nature in. 
peace, now sometimes became oppressive in the rush of 
happy emotions that sought but knew not how to find expres- 
sion. 

The knowledge that Woodbury had modified his personal 
habits so as to avoid offending her prejudices, also gave her 
pain. She learned, from Carrie, that he had been in the habit 
of drinking a glass or two of claret at dinner, and of smoking 
in the library after meals, or as he read in the evenings. Now, 
the wine had disappeared from the table, and he took his cigar 
in the garden, or in the veranda. Both the habits were still 
repugnant to her sense of right, but love was beginning to 
teach her tolerance. He was, perhaps, partly weaned from 
them, she thought, and in that case it would be wrong in her 
to lead him back to his old subjection; yet, on the other hand, 
what sacrifice had he not made for her? and what had she 
made for him? 

Towards the end of winter, she found that her mind was 
becoming singularly confused and uncertain. The recon- 
ciliation with her destiny, the harmony of heart and brain, 
which si ie seemed to be on the point of attaining, slid back 
again into something which appeared to be a disturbance of 



438 HANNAH THUESTON : 

temperament rather than of intellect. Things, trifling in 
themselves, exalted or depressed her without any apparent 
reason; unreasonable desires presented themselves to her 
mind, and in this perpetual wavering of 'the balance of her 
nature, nothing seemed steady except her love for her hus- 
band. She longed, at times, to throw herself upon his breast 
and weep the confession she did not dare to speak; but her 
moments of strength perversely carne when he was absent, and 
her moments of cowardice when he was present. Through 
all the uncertain, shifting range of her sensations, ran, never- 
theless, a dazzling thread of some vague, foreboded bliss, the 
features of which she could not distinguish. She often re- 
peated to herself the song of Cliirchen, in Goethe's " Egmont," 
which was among the works her husband had read with her : 



Depressed, 

Pensively brooding amain ; 

Trembling, 

Dissembling, 

Hovering in fear and in pain : 

Sorrowing to death, or exulting the angels above, 

Blessed alone is the heart in its love!" 

One afternoon she was seized with such an intense longing 
for the smell of tobacco-smoke, that she could scarcely wait 
until Woodbury, who had ridden into Ptolemy, returned 
home. As soon as he had taken off his great-coat and 
kissed her, as was his wont, she drew him into the library. 
"Maxwell," she said, " I have a favor to ask of you." 
" Have you ? I shall be delighted to grant it." 
"You will think it strange," she continued, blushing: 
" I wish you would light a cigar ; I think I should find the 
smoke agreeable." 

" That is not asking a favor, Hannah ; it is granting one to 

me. I'll take one of my best, and you shall have a fair trial." 

He laughed pleasantly at what he considered a benevolent 

effort on her part to endure his favorite indulgence. He 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 439 

placed easy-chairs for them, on opposite sides of the fire, lest 
her experiment might fail from being overdone, and lighted 
one of his choicest Cabanas. The rich, delicate, sedative 
odor soon pervaded the air, but she held her ground. He took 
down Sir Thomas Browne, one of his favorites, and read aloud 
the pleasant passages. The snowy ashes lengthened in the 
cigar, the flavor of the book grew more choice and ripe, and 
after an hour he tossed the diminutive remaining end into the 
grate, saying: 

" Well, what is the result ?" 

"I quite forgot the cigar, Maxwell,** she answered, "in my 
enjoyment of Sir Thomas. But the odor at first you will 
laugh at me was delightful. I am so sorry that you have 
been so long deprived of what must be to you an agreeable 
habit, on my account." 

"I have only been acting up to my principles," he said, 
" that we have a right to exercise our individual freedom in 
such matters, when they do not interfere directly with the 
comfort of others. But here, 1 am afraid, Sir Thomas helped 
to neutralize your repugnance. Shall we go on with him, a 
chapter and a cigar at a time? Afterwards I can take 
Burton and Montaigne, if you are not fully acclimated." 

He spoke gayly, with a dancing light in his eyes, but the 
plan was seriously carried out. Hannah was surprised to find 
in Montaigne a reference to the modern doctrine (as she sup- 
posed it to be) of " Women's Rights." It was not a pleasant 
reflection that the cause had made so little progress in three 
centuries. The reading of this passage brought up the subject 
in a natural way, and she could not help remarking : 

"Discussions on the subject will never come to an end, 
until we have some practical application of the theory, which 
will be an actual and satisfactory test of its truth." 

"I, for one, would not object to that," Woodbury answered, 
"provided it could be tried without disturbing too much the 
established order of Society. If a large class of women 
should at any time demand these rights, a refusal to let the 



440 HANNAH TIIUESTON : 

experiment be tested would imply a fear of its success. N"ow, 
I do not believe that any system can be successful which does 
not contain a large proportion of absolute truth, and while I 
cannot think, as you know, that woman is fitted for the same 
career as man, I am not afraid to see her make the trial. I 
will pledge myself to abide by the result." 

" If all men were as just, Maxwell, we should have no cause 
to complain* After all, it is the right to try, rather than the 
right to be, which we ask. The refusal to grant us that does 
not seem either like the magnanimity of the stronger, or even 
an assured faith in his strength." 

"Men do not seriously consider the subject," said he. 
"The simple instinct of sex dictates their opposition. They 
attribute to a distorted, unfeminine ambition, what is often 
in' you, Hannah, I know it a pure and unselfish aspiration. 
The basis of instinct is generally correct, but it does not ab- 
solve us from respect for the sincerity of that which assails it." 

" I will try to be as just to you, in return !" she exclaimed. 
" I feel that my knowledge has been limited that I have been 
self-boastful of the light granted to my mind, when it was 
only groping in twilight, towards the dawn. My heart drew 
back from you, because it feared a clashing of opinions which 
could never harmonize. 

She was on the verge of a tenderer confession, but he did 
not perceive it. His words, unwittingly, interrupted the cur- 
rent of her feelings. IJis voice was unintentionally grave and 
his brow earnest, as he said: "I trust, more than ever, to the 
true woman's nature in you, Hannah. Let me say one thing 
to set your mind at rest forever. It was my profound appre- 
ciation of those very elements in your character which led you 
to take up these claims of Woman and make them your own, 
that opened the way for you to my heart. I reverence the 
qualities without accepting all the conclusions born of them. 
I thank God that I was superior to shallow prejudice, which 
would have hindered me from approaching you, and thus have 
lost me the blessing of mv life !" 



A STOEY OF AMEEICAN LIFE. 441 

He rose and laid away the book. Every word he had said 
was just and noble, but it was not the fervid, impassioned 
utterance which her heart craved to hear. There were tears 
in her eyes, but he misinterpreted them. 

Ah, the " true woman's nature !" Did he x trust to it ? Did 
he know it, in its timidity, in its exacting fondness, in its pride 
of devotion and its joy of sacrifice ? 

Not yet. 
19* 



442 HANNAH THURSTON: 



CHAPTER XXXV. 

IN WHICH WE ATTEND ANOTHER MEETING IN FAVOR OP 

" WOMEN'S RIGHTS." 

EARLY in April, Mr. Isaiah Bemis again made his appearance 
in Ptolemy. He had adopted REFORM as his profession, and 
in the course of fifteen years' practice had become a Jack-of- 
all-trades in philanthropy and morals. He was ready, at the 
shortest notice, to give an address on Total Abstinence, Vege- 
tarianism (or " Vegetality," as he termed it, with a desire to 
be original), Slavery, Women's Rights, or Non-Resistance, ac- 
cording to the particular need of the community he visited. 

He also preached, occasionally, before those independent 
religious bodies which spring up now and then in a spasmodic 
protest against church organization, and which are the natural 
complement of the Perfectionists in Government and Society, 
who believe that the race is better off without either. In 
regard to Spiritualism he was still undecided : it was not yet 
ingrafted upon the trunk of the other Reforms as an accepted 
branch of the same mighty tree, and a premature adherence 
to it might loosen his hold on those boughs from which he 
sucked sustenance, fame, and authority. 

By slender contributions from the Executive Committees of 
the various Societies, and the free hospitality of the proselytes 
of one or the other, all through the country, Mr. Bemis was 
in the possession of a tolerable income, which came to him 
through the simple gratification of his natural tendencies. To 
harangue the public was a necessity rather than a fatigue. 
He was well stored with superficial logic wherewith to over- 
whelm ordinary disputants, while with his hosts, from whom 
no opposition was to be expected, he assumed an air of arro- 



A STORY OP AMERICAN LIFE. 443 

gant superiority. This was principally their own fault. A 
man who hears himself habitually called an Apostle and a 
Martyr, very soon learns to put on his robes of saintship. 
None of his subjects was bold enough to dispute the intel- 
lectual and moral autocracy which he assumed. Thus, for fif- 
teen years, a Moral Gypsy, he had led a roving life through the 
country, from Maine to Indiana, interrupted only by a trip to 
England, in 1841, as a "delegate at large" to the "World's 
Anti-Slavery Convention." During all this time his wife had 
supported herself by keeping a boarding-house in a small town 
in New Jersey. He was accustomed to visit her once a year, 
and at such times scrupulously paid his board during the few 
weeks of his stay which circumstance was exploited as an 
illustration of his strict sense of justice and his constancy to 
the doctrine of Women's Rights. 

Central New York was a favorite field for Mr. Bemis, and 
he ranged its productive surface annually. His meetings being 
announced in advance in the Annihilator, his friends were 
accustomed to have all the arrangements made on his arrival. 
On reaching Ptolemy, however, two or three days still inter- 
vened before the meeting could be held, on account of Tuna 
blety Hall having been previously engaged by the " Mozart 
Ethiopian Opera," and the " ApalachicoLm Singers," Mr. 
Bemis, as a matter of course, claimed the hospitality of the 
Merryfields in the interval. He was not received with the 
expected empressement, nor were his Orphic utterances listened 
to with the reverence to which he was used. The other 
friends of the cause foremost among them Seth Wattles 
nevertheless paid their court as soon as his arrival became 
known, and (spiritually) on bended knees kissed the hand of 
the master. 

The arrangements for the coming meeting were first to be 
discussed. Attention had been drawn away from the reform 
during the previous summer by the renewed agitation ia favor 
of Temperance, and it was desirable to renovate th j faded 
impression. The Rev. Amelia Parkes had been invited, 



44 1 HANNAH THUKSTON : 

but was unable to leave her congregation ; and Bessie Stryker 
was more profitably engaged in lecturing before various 
literary associations, at one hundred dollars a night (pnyable 
only iii gold). Mr. Chubbuck, of Miranda, could be depended 
upon, but lie was only a star of the second magnitude, and 
something more was absolutely required. 

" We must get Miss Thurston I mean Mrs. Woodbury 
again. There is nothing else to be done," remarked Mr. 
Bemis, drawing down his brows. He had not forgotten that 
the people of Ptolemy had freely given to her the applause 
which they had withheld from his more vigorous oratory. 

" I rather doubt, as it were," said Mr. Merryfield, " whether 
Hannah will be willing to speak." 

"Why not?" thundered Bemis. 

"She's lived very quietly since her marriage, and I 
shouldn't wonder if she'd changed her notions somewhat." 

"jT shouldn't wonder," said Seth, drawing up his thick 
nostrils, "if her husband had forbidden her ever to speak 
again. If he could bully her into marrying him, he could do 
that, too." 

" You're mistaken, Seth," exclaimed Mr. Merryfield, color- 
ing with a mild indignation, " there's nothing of the bully 
about Woodbury. And if they two don't love each other 
sincerely, why, Sarah and me don't !" 

" We can easily find out all about it," said Mr. Bemis, 
rising and buttoning his coat over his broad chest. "Mr. 
Wattles, will you come with me ? We will constitute our- 
selves a Committee of Invitation." 

Seth, nothing loath, put on his hat, and the two started on 
their errand. It was but a short walk to Lakeside, which 
they reached soon after Woodbury had taken his customary 
place in the library, with a cigar in his mouth and a volume 
of Pepys' Diary in his hand. Hannah sat near him, quiet and 
happy : she was not only reconciled to her husband's habit, 
but enjoyed the book and talk which accompanied it more 
than any other part of the day. On this occasion they were 



A STOEY OP AMERICAN LIFE. 445 

interrupted by Bute, who announced the visitors in the fol- 
lowing style : 

"Miss' Woodbury, here's Seth Wattles and another man 
has come to see you." 

Hannah rose with a look of disappointment, and turned 
towards her husband, hesitatingly. 

" Shall I go, also ?" he asked. 

"I would prefer it, Maxwell; I have no private business 
with any one." 

Bute had ushered the visitors into the tea-room. The door 
to the library was closed, but a faint Cuban perfume was per- 
ceptible. Seth turned towards Mr. Bemis with elevated eye- 
brows, and gave a loud sniff, as much as to say : " Do you 
notice that ?" The latter gentleman scowled and shook his 
head, but said nothing. 

Presently the door opened and Hannah made her appearance, 
followed by her husband. She concealed whatever embarrass- 
ment she may have felt at the sight of Mr. Bemis, frankly 
gave him her hand, and introduced him to her husband. 

"Be seated, gentlemen," said the latter, courteously. "I 
would ask you into the library, but I have been smoking there, 
and the room may not be agreeable to you." 

"Hem! we are not exactly accustomed to such an at- 
mosphere," said Mr. Bemis, taking a chair. 

Woodbury began talking upon general topics, to allow his 
guests time to recover from a slight awkwardness which was 
evident in their manner. It was not long, however, before 
Mr. Bemis broached the purpose of his visit. " Mrs. Wood- 
bury," said he, " you have heard that we are to have a meet- 
ing on Wednesday evening?" 

"Yes." 

*' We have been disappointed in getting the Rev. Amelia 
Parkes, and the advocacy of The Cause is incomplete unless a 
woman takes part in it. I have therefore come to ask your 
assistance. We wish, this time, to create an impression." 

It was not a welcome message. She knew that such a test 



446 HANNAH THUKSTON : 

must come, some time ; but of late she had been unable to 
apply her mind steadily to any subject, and had postponed, 
by an agreement with herself, the consideration of all disturb- 
ing questions. She looked at her husband, but his calm face 
expressed no counsel. He was determined that she should 
act independently, and he would allow no word or glance to 
influence her decision. 

" It is long since I have spoken," she said at last ; " I am 
not sure that I should be of service." She wished to gain 
time by an undecided answer, still hoping that Woodbury 
would come to her assistance. 

" We are the best judges of that," said Mr. Bemis, with 
something of his old dictatorial tone. " I trust you will not 
fail us, now when we have such need. The interest in The 
Cause has very much fallen off, in this neighborhood, and if 
you desert us, to whom shall we look for help?" 

"Yes, Hannah," chimed in Seth, "you know we have 
always looked upon you as one of the Pillars of Progress." 

It grated rather harshly upon Woodbury's feelings to hear 
his wife addressed so familiarly by the ambitious tailor ; but 
she was accustomed to it, from the practice of her sect to 
bear testimony against what they call " compliments." 

" I have not lost my interest in the cause," Hannah answered, 
after another vain attempt to read Woodbury's face ; " but I 
have freely uttered my thoughts on the subject, and I could 
say nothing that has not been already heard." 

"Nothing else is wanted," said Mr. Bemis, eagerly. "The 
Truth only gains by repetition ; it still remains eternally new. 
How many thousand times have the same Bible texts been 
preached from, and yet their meaning is not exhausted it is 
not even fully comprehended. How much of the speaker's 
discourse do you suppose the hearers carry home with them ? 
Not a tenth part and even that tenth part must be repeated 
ten times before it penetrates beneath the surface of their 
natures. Truth is a nail that you cannot drive into ordinary 
comprehensions with one blow of the hammer : you must pile 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 447 

stroke upon stroke, before it enters far enough to be clinched 
fast. It is not the time for you to draw back now, in a season 
of faint-heartedness and disc9uragement. If you fail, it will 
be said that your views have changed with the change in 
your life, and you will thus neutralize all your labors hereto- 
fore." 

" That cannot be said of me !" exclaimed Hannah, thor- 
oughly aroused and indignant. " My husband has been too 
just too generous, differing with me as he does to impose 
any restrictions upon my action !" She turned towards him. 
He answered her glance with a frank, kindly smile, which 
thanked her for her words, but said no more. " Well, then !" 
she continued; "I will come, if only to save him from an 
unjust suspicion. I will not promise to say much. You over- 
estimate my value as an advocate of the reform." 

" It is not for me," said Mr. Bemis, with affected humility, 
" to speak of what I have done; but I consider myself com- 
petent to judge of the services of others. Your influence will 
be vastly increased when your consistency to The Cause shall 
be known and appreciated. I now have great hopes that we 
shall inaugurate an earnest moral awakening." 

Little more was said upon the subject, and in a short time 
the two reformers took their leave. After Woodbury had 
returned from the door, whither he had politely accompanied 
them, he said, in his usual cheerful tone: "Well, Hannah, 
shall we return to Old Pepys ?" 

Her momentary excitement had already died away. She 
appeared perplexed and restless, but she mechanically rose and 
followed him into the library. As he took up the book, she 
interrupted him : " Tell me, Maxwell, have I done right ?" 

"You should know, Hannah," he answered. "I wish you 
to act entirely as your own nature shall prompt, without 
reference to me. I saw that you had not much desire to 
accept the invitation, but, having accepted it, I suppose you 
must fulfil your promise." 

" Yes, I suppose so," she said ; but her tone was weary and 



448 HANNAH THUKSTON I 

disappointed. How gladly would she have yielded to his 
slightest wish, if he would only speak it! What a sweet 
comfort it would have been to her heart, to know that she 
had sacrificed something belonging to herself, even were it 
that higher duty which had almost become a portion of her 
conscience, for his sake ! The independence which he, with 
an over-considerate love, had assured to her, seemed to isolate 
her nature when it should draw nearer to his. His perfect 
justice crushed her with a cold, unyielding weight of not 
obligation, for that cannot coexist with love but something 
almost as oppressive. She had secured her freedom from 
man's dictation that freedom which once had seemed so rare 
and so beautiful and now her heart cried aloud for one word 
of authority. It would be so easy to yield, so blissful to 
be able to say: "Maxwell, I do this willingly, for your 
sake !" but he cruelly hid the very shadow of his wish from 
her sight and denied her the sacrifice! He forced her in- 
dependence back upon her when she would have laid it down, 
trusting all she was and all she might be to the proved nobility 
of his nature ! Self-abnegation, she now felt, is the heart of 
love ; but the rising flood of her being was stayed by the 
barriers which she had herself raised. 

All the next day her uneasiness increased. It was not only 
her instinctive fear of thwarting her husband's hidden desire 
which tormented her, but a singular dread of again making 
her appearance before the public. She was not conscious of 
any change in her views on the question of Woman, but they 
failed to give her strength and courage. A terrible sinking 
of the heart assailed her as often as she tried to collect her 
thoughts and arrange the expected discourse in her mind. 
Every thing seemed to shift and slide before the phantasm of 
her inexplicable fear. Woodbury could not help noticing her 
agitation, but he understood neither its origin nor its nature. 
He was tender as ever, and strove to soothe her without ad- 
verting to the coming task. It was the only unhappy day .she 
had known since she had come to Lakeside. 



A STOEY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 449 

The next morning dawned the morning of Wednesday 
and noon came swiftly as a flash, since she dreaded its ap- 
proach.* The dinner had been ordered earlier than usual, foi 
the meeting was to commence at two o'clock; and as soon as 
it was over, Woodbury said to her : " It is time you were 
ready, Hannah. I will take you to Ptolemy, of course, and 
will attend the meeting, or not, as you desire." 

She drew him into the library. " Oh, Maxwell !" she cried ; 
" will you not tell me what you wish me to do ?" 

" My dear wife," he said, " do not torment yourself on 
my account. I have tried to fulfil to the utmost my promise 
to you : have I said or done any thing to make you suspect 
my sincerity ?" 

" Oh, nothing, nothing ! You have kept it only too well. 
But, Maxwell, my heart fails me : I cannot go ! the very 
thought of standing where I once stood makes me grow faint. 
I have no courage, to do it again." 

" Then do not," he answered ; " T will make a suitable 
apology for your failure. Or, if that is not enough, shall I 
take your place? I will not promise," he added, smiling, 
" to go quite so far as you might have done, but I will at least 
say a few earnest words which can do no harm. Who has so 
good a right to be your substitute as your husband ?" 

"Maxwell," she sobbed, "how you put me to shame!" It 
was all she could say. He took her in his arms, kissed her 
tenderly, and then drove into Ptolemy. 

Tumblety Hall was crowded. The few advocates of the 
cause had taken good care to spread the news that Mrs. 
Woodbury was to be one of the speakers, and there was a 
general, though indefinite curiosity to hear her again, now that 
she was married. Mr. Bemis rubbed his hands as he saw how 
rnpidly the benches were filling, and observed to Seth Wat- 
tles: "The iron is hot, and we have only to strike hard." After 
the audience had assembled, the latter was chosen Chairman of 
the meeting, Mr. Merryfield declining, on account of his having 
so frequently filled that office, "as it were." 



450 HANNAH THUKSTON: 

Seth called the meeting to order with a pompous, satisfied 
air. His phrases were especially grandiloquent ; for, like 
many semi-intelligent persons, he supposed that the r5>wer of 
oratory depended on the sound of the words. If the latter 
were not always exactly in the right place, it made little dif- 
ference. " Be ye convinced, my brethren," he concluded, 
" that absoloot Right will conquer, in spite of the concatena- 
tions and the hostile discrepancies of Urrur (Error) ! Our 
opponents have attempted to shut up every door, every vein 
and artery, and every ramification of our reform, but the angel* 
of Progress bursts the prison-doors of Paul and Silas, and 
when the morning dawns, the volcano is extinct !" 

Mr. Bemis followed, in what he called his " sledge-hammer 
style," which really suggested a large hammer, so far as voice 
and gesture were concerned, but the blows did not seem to 
make much impression. He had, however, procured a few 
new anecdotes, both of the wrongs and the capacities of wo- 
man, and these prevented his harangue from being tedious to 
the audience. They were stepping-stones, upon which the 
latter could wade through the rushing and turbid flood of his 
discourse. 

It had been arranged that Hannah should follow him, and 
M.r. Chubbuck, of Miranda, close the performance. When, 
therefore, Mr. Bemis sat down, he looked around for his suc- 
cessor, and the, audience began to stir and buzz, in eager 
expectation. She was not upon the platform, but Woodbury 
was seen, pressing down the crowded side-aisle, apparently 
endeavoring to make his way to the steps. He finally. reached 
them and mounted upon the platform, where a whispered 
consultation took place between himself and Mr. Bemis. The 
countenance of the latter gentleman grew dark, and he in turn 
whispered to Seth, who, after some hesitation, arose and 
addressed the meeting : 

"We have again an illustration," he said, " of the vanity of 
human wishes. We expected to present to you the illustrious 
prototype of her sex, to whose cerulean accents you have often 



A STORY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 451 

listened and applauded, but disappointment has chilled the 
genial current of our souls. She has sent a subsidy in her 
place, and he is prepared to await your pleasure, if you will 
hear the spontaneous vindication." 

A movement of surprise ran through the audience, but 
their disappointment at once gave place to a new curiosity, 
and a noise of stamping arose, in token of satisfaction. Wood- 
bury, whose demeanor was perfectly serious and collected, in 
spite of a strong tendency to laugh at Seth, stepped forward 
to the front of the platform, and, as soon as silence returned, 
began to speak. His manner was fcasy and natural, and his 
voice unusually clear and distinct, though the correctness 6f 
his pronunciation struck his hearers, at first, like aifectation. 

" I appear voluntarily before you, my friends," he said, " as 
a substitute for one whom you know. She had promised to 
speak to you on a subject to which she has given much earn- 
est thought, not so much for her own sake as for that of her 
sex. Being unable to fulfil that promise, I have offered to 
take her place, not as the representative of her views, or of 
the views of any particular association of persons, but as a 
man who reveres woman, and who owes her respect in all 
cases, though he may not always agree with her assertion of 
right. ('Good!' cried some one in the audience*.} I stand 
between both parties ; between you who denounce the tyranny 
of man (turning to Mr. Bemis), and you who meet with con- 
tempt and abuse (turning back towards the audience) all earn- 
est appeals of woman for a freer exercise of her natural facul- 
ties. No true reform grows out of reciprocal denunciation. 
When your angry thunders have been launched, and the 
opposing clouds dissolve from the exhaustion of their supply, 
the sunshine of tolerance and charity shines between, and the 
lowering fragments fuse gently together in the golden gleam 
of the twilight. Let me speak to you from the neutral ground 
of universal humanity ; let me tell you of some wrongs of 
woman which none of you need go far to see some rights 
which each man of you, to whom God has given a help-meet, 



452 HANNAH THURSTON : 

may grant beside his own hearth-stone and the cradle of his 
children ! We Americans boast of our superior civilization ; 
we look down with a superb commiseration not only upon the 
political, but the social and domestic, life of other lands. 
Let us not forget that the position which woman holds in the 
State always supposing that it does not transcend the des- 
tiny of her sex is the unerring index on the dial of civiliza- 
tion. It behooves us, therefore, in order to make good our 
boast, to examine her condition among us. We are famed, 
and perhaps justly, for the chivalrous respect which we ex- 
hibit towards her in public ; do we grant her an equal con- 
sideration in our domestic life ? Do we seek to understand her 
finer nature, her more delicate sensibilities, her self-sacrificing 
desire to share our burdens by being permitted to understand 
them?" 

The attention of the audience was profoundly enlisted by 
these words. The calm, dispassionate, yet earnest tone of the 
speaker was something new. It was an agreeable variation 
from the anathemas with which they not only did not sympa- 
thize, but which they were too indifferent to resent. Mr. Bemis, 
it is true, fidgeted uneasily in his arm-chair, but he was now 
quite a secondary person. Woodbury went on to advocate a 
private as well as public respect for woman ; he painted, in 
strong colors, those moral qualities in which she is superior to 
man ; urged her claim to a completer trust, a more genero.us 
confidence on his part ; and, while pronouncing no word that 
could indicate an actual sympathy with the peculiar rights 
which were the object of the meeting, demanded that they 
should receive, at least, a respectful consideration. He 
repeated the same manly views which we have already heard 
in his conversations with his wife, expressing his faith in the 
impossibility of any permanent development not in accordance 
with nature, and his confidence that the sex, under whatever 
conditions of liberty, would, instinctively fiud its true place. 

His address, which lasted nearly an hour, was received with 
hearty satisfaction by his auditors. To the advocates of the 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 453 

reform it was a mixture of honey and gall. He had started, 
apparently, from nearly the same point; his path, for a while, 
had run parallel with theirs, and then, without any sensible 
divergence, had reached a widely different goal. Somehow, 
he had taken, in advance, all the strength out of Mr. Chub- 
buck's oration ; for, although the latter commenced with an 
attack on Woodbury's neutral attitude, declaring that "we 
cannot serve two masters," the effort was too sophistical to 
deceive anybody. His speech, at least, had the effect to 
restore Mr. Bemis to good humor. Miss Silsbee, a maiden 
lady from Atauga City, was then persuaded to say a few 
words. She recommended the audience to "preserve their 
individuality : when that is gone, all is gone," said she. " Be 
not like the foolish virgins, that left their lamps untrimmed. 
O trim your wicks before the eleventh hour comes, and the 
Master finds you sleeping !" 

There seemed to be but a very remote connection between 
these expressions and the doctrine of Women's Rights, and 
the audience, much enlivened by the fact, dispersed, after 
adopting the customary resolutions by an overwhelming major- 
ity. " We have sowed the field afresh," cried Mr. Bemis, 
rubbing his hands, as he turned to his friends on the platform, 
"in spite of the tares of the Enemy." This was a figurative 
allusion to Woodbury. 

The latter resisted an invitation to take ten, with the Wal- 
dos, in order to hurry home to his wife. Mrs. Waldo had 
been one of his most delighted hearers, and her parting words 
were : " Remember, if you don't tell Hannah every thing you 
said, I shall do it, myself!" 

On reaching Lakeside, Hannah came to the door to meet 
him. Her troubled expression had passed away, and a deep, 
wonderful light of happiness was on her face. Her eyes trem- 
bled in their soft splendor, like stars through the veil of falling 
dew, and some new, inexpressible grace clung around her 
form. She caught his hands eagerly, and her voice came low 
and vibrant with its own sweetness. 



454 HANNAH THURSTON : 

" Did you take my place, Maxwell ?" she asked. 

He laughed cheerfully. " Of course I did. I made the 
longest speech of my life. It did not satisfy Beinis, I am sure, 
but the audience took it kindly, and you, Hannah, if you had 
been there, would have accepted the most of it." 

" I know I should !" she exclaimed. " You must tell me all 
but not now. Now you must have your reward oh, Max- 
well, I think I can reward you !" 

" Give me another kiss, then." 

He stooped and took it. She laid her arms around his neck, 
and drew his ear to her lips. Then she whispered a few flut- 
tering words. When he lifted his face she saw upon it the 
light and beauty of unspeakable joy. 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 455 



.CHAPTER XXXVI. 

IN WHICH THE MAN AND WOMAN COME TO AN UNDERSTANDING, 

WOODBURY, without having intended it, very much increased 
his popularity in Ptolemy by the part he had taken in the 
meeting. His address was marked by a delicate tact which 
enabled him to speak for Woman, on behalf of his wife, while 
preserving his own independence of her peculiar views. The 
men suspected that her opinions had been modified by his 
stronger mind, and that this was the secret of her non-appear- 
ance : they were proud that he had conquered the championess. 
The women, without exception, were delighted with his 
defence of their domestic rights ; most of them had had more 
or less experience of that misapprehension of their nature 
which he portrayed, and the kindness, the considerate justice 
which dictated his words came very gratefully to their ears. 
Even Mrs. Hamilton Bue remarked to a neighbor, at the close 
of his speech : " Well, if he's learned all that from her, she's 
done some good, after all !" 

Thus it happened that the marriage came to be regarded 
with favor. Ptolemy not only submitted with a good grace 
to what was irrevocable, but readily invented a sufficient justi- 
fication for it. Hannah found a friendly disposition towards 
her, as she began to mingle a little more with the society of 
the place : the women, now that they recognized her as one of 
themselves, approached her more genially and naturally than 
hitherto, and the men treated her with a respect, under which 
no reserved hostility was concealed. The phenomenon was 
adopted, as is always the case, into the ordinary processes of 
nature. 



456 HANNAH THUKSTON : 

But a new life had commenced at Lakeside, and this and all 
other changes in the temper of the community passed unno- 
ticed. The spring advanced with a lovelier mystery in every 
sprouting germ, in every unfolding bud.. In those long, sunny 
days when the trodden leaves, of the last year stir and rustle 
under the upward pressure of the shooting grass, when new 
/lolets and buttercups open from hour to hour, and the shim- 
mering, gauzy tints of the woodlands deepen visibly between 
dawn and sunset, the husband and wife saw but the external 
expression of the rich ripening of their own lives. The season 
could not impart its wonted tender yearnings, for they slept 
in the bliss of the possession they had only prefigured before, 
but it brought, in place of them, a holier and more wonderful 
promise. Here, the wife's nature at last found a point of 
repose : around this secret, shining consciousness, the strug- 
gling elements ranged themselves in harmonious forms. A 
power not her own, yet inseparable from both, and as welcome 
as it was unforeboded, had usurped her life, and the remem- 
brance of the most hardly- won triumphs which her mind had 
ever achieved grew colorless and vain. 

By the end of May the cottage for Bute was completed. It 
was all that Downing had promised from the design, except in 
regard to the expense, which was nearly double his estimate. 
However, it formed a very picturesque feature in the fore- 
ground of the landscape from Lakeside, and was conveniently 
situated for the needs of the farm. It was a day of jubilee for 
Bute and Carrie when they took possession of it. Mrs. Waldo 
must needs be present at the migration, and assist with her 
advice in the arrangement of the furniture. Fortunately, the 
little "best room" had but two windows, and Mrs. Wilson's 
dream of the chintz curtains was realized. Bute had bought 
a brownish ingrain carpet, somewhat worn, at an auction sale 
in Ptolemy, for a very trifling sum ; and in addition to the por- 
traits of General and Lady Washington, which Mrs. Babb had 
inherited from Jason, and bequeathed to him in turn, Wood- 
bury had given him a splendidly-colored lithograph of an 



A STOEY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 457 

"American Homestead," with any quantity of cattle and 
poultry. It is impossible to describe the pride of Mrs. Wilson 
in this room. One window commanded a cheerful view of the 
valley towards Ptolemy, while the white front of Lakeside 
looked in at the other. Bute had surrounded the looking-glass 
and picture-frames with wreaths of winter-green, which 
reminded Woodbury of his impromptu ball-room in the Bow- 
ery, and in the fireplace stood a huge pitcher filled with 
asparagus, blossoming lilacs, and snow-balls. It was Mrs. 
Wilson's ambition to consecrate the house by inviting them all 
to tea, and a very pleasant party they were. 

When the guests had left, and the happy tenants found 
themselves alone, the little wife exclaimed : " Oh, Bute, to 
think that we should have a house of our own !" 

"Yes," said he, "'t is our'n, jist as much as though we 
owned it, as long as we think so. Property's pretty much in 
thinkin\ onless you've got to raise money on it. I know 
when I'm well off, and if you'll hitch teams with me in savin', 
Carrie, we can leastways put back all the interest, and it'll roll 
up as fast as we want it." 

" You'll see, Bute," his wife answered, with a cheerful de- 
termination ; " it's a life that will suit me so much better than 
sewing around from house to house. I'll raise chickens and 
turkeys, and we can sell what we don't want ; and then there's 
the garden ; and the cow ; and we won't spend much for 
clothes. I wish you'd let me make yours, Bute ; I'm sure I 
could do it as well as Seth Wattles." 

The grin on Bute's face broadened, as he listened to the 
lively little creature, and when she stopped speaking, he took 
her around the waist by both arms and lifted her into the air. 
She was not alarmed at this proceeding, for she knew she 
would come down gently, getting a square, downright kiss 
on the way. Never were two persons better satisfied with 
each other. 

At Lakeside there were also changes and improvements. 
The garden was remodelled, the grounds were extended, and 
20 



458 HANNAH THTJRSTON: 



fresh consignments of trees and plants continually arrived from 
the Rochester nurseries. Both Woodbury and his wife 
delighted in the out-door occupation which these changes gave, 
and the spring deepened into summer before they were aware. 
To a thoroughly cultivated man, there is no life compared to 
that of the country, with its independence, its healthy enjoy- 
ments, its grateful repose provided that he is so situated that 
his intellectual needs can be satisfied. Woodbury' s life in 
Calcutta had accustomed him to seek this satisfaction in him- 
self, or, at best, to be content with few friends. In Hannah, 
he had now the eager, sympathetic companion of his mind, no 
less than the partner of his affections. The newest literature 
came to him regularly from New York and Boston, and there 
was no delight greater than to perceive how rapidly her tastes 
and her intellectual perceptions matured with the increase of 
her opportunities of culture. 

The tender secret which bound them so closely soothed her 
heart for the time, without relieving its need of the expression 
and the answer which still failed. His watchful fondness was 
always around her, folding her more closely and warmly, day 
by day ; but he still seemed to assert, in her name, that free- 
dom which her love no longer demanded nay, which stood 
between her and the fulfilment of her ideal union with him. 
She craved that uncalculating passion which is as ready to 
ask as to give the joy of mutual demand and mutual surren- 
der. The calm, deep, and untroubled trust which filled his 
nature was not enough. Perhaps love, she thought, in the 
self-poised, self-controlled being of man, takes this form ; per- 
haps it lies secure and steadfast below the tender agitations, 
the passionate impulses, the voiceful yearnings which stir the 
soul of woman. If so, she must be content ; but one thing 
she must yet do, to satisfy the conscience of love. She must 
disabuse his mind of the necessity of granting her that inde- 
pendence which she had ignorantly claimed ; she must confess 
to him the truer consciousness of her woman's nature ; and 
if her timid heart would allow she must once, though only 



A STOBY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 459 

once, put in words all the passionate devotion of her heart 
for him. 

-The days went by, the fresh splendor of the foliage 
darkened, the chasing billows of golden grain drifted away 
and left a strand of tawny stubble behind, and the emerald 
bunches on the trellises at Lakeside began to gather an 
amethystine bloom. And the joy, and the fear, and the 
mystery increased, and the shadow of a coming fate, bright 
with the freshest radiance of Heaven, or dark with unimagiued 
desolation but which, no one oould guess lay upon the 
household. Woodbury had picked up in the county paper, 
published at Tiberius, a little poem by Stoddard, of which 
these lines clung to his memory and would not be banished : 

" The laden summer will give me 

What it never gave before, 
Or take from me what a thousand 
Summers can give no morel" 

Thus, as the approach of Death is not an unmingled sorrow, 
the approach of Life is not an unmingled joy. But, as we 
rarely breathe, even to those we best love, the fear that at 
such times haunts our hearts, chased away as soon as recog- 
nized, so to her he was always calm and joyfully confident. 

September came, and fiery touches of change were seen on 
the woods. The tuberoses she had planted in the spring 
poured from their creamy cups an intoxicating dream of the 
isles of nutmeg-orchards and cinnamon-groves ; the strong, 
ripe blooms of autumn lined the garden walks, and the breath 
of the imprisoned wine dimmed the purple crystal of the 
grapes. Then, one morning, there was a hushed gliding to 
and fro in the mansion of Lakeside ; there was anxious wait- 
ing in the shaded rooms ; there were heart-wrung prayers, 
as the shadows of the different fates sank lower upon the 
house, and fitfully shifted, like the rapid, alternate variations 
of cloud and sunshine in a broken sky. Death stood by to 
dispute the consummation of life ; but, as the evening drew 



460 HANNAH THUBSTON: 

on, a faint, wailing cry of victory was heard, and Life had 
triumphed. 

Woodbury's strong nature was shaken to its centre, both 
by the horrible weight of the fears which had been growing 
upon him throughout the day, and the lightning-flash of over- 
whelming gladness which dispersed them. As he took the 
helpless, scarcely human creature in his arms, and bent his 
face over it, his tears fell fast. He knelt beside the- bed, and 
held it before the half-closed eyes of the mother, who lay 
silent, pale, as if flung back, broken, from the deeps of Death. 
The unfeeling authority which reigned in the chamber drove 
him away. The utmost caution, the most profound repose, 
was indispensable, the physician said. All night long he 
watched in the next room, slowly gathering hope from the 
whispered bulletins of the nurse. In the morning, he left his 
post for a little while, but soon returned to it. But a single 
interview was granted that day, and he was forbidden to 
speak. He could only take his wife's hand, and look upon 
the white, saintly beauty of her face. She smiled faintly, with 
a look of ineffable love, which he could not bear unmoved, and 
he was forbidden to agitate her. 

Gradually the severity of the orders was relaxed, and he 
was allowed to enter the room occasionally, in a quiet way, 
and look upon the unformed features of his son. The mother 
was slowly gaining strength, and the mere sight of her hus- 
band was so evident a comfort to her that it could not now 
be denied. In the silent looks they interchanged there was a 
profounder language than they had yet spoken. In him, the 
strong agitation of the man's heart made itself felt through the 
mask of his habitual calm ; in her, the woman's all-yielding love 
confessed its existence, and pleaded for recognition. Wood- 
bury, too grateful for the fact that the crisis of imminent 
danger was slowly passing away, contented himself with these 
voiceless interviews, and forcibly shut for a while within his 
heart the words of blessing and of cheer which he longed to 
utter. 



A STOEY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 461 

On the fifth day the physician said to him : " She is now 
safe, with the ordinary precautions. I have perhaps been a 
little over-despotic, because I know the value of the life at 
stake. You have been patient and obedient, and you shall 
have your reward. You may see her as often as you like, and 
I will allow you to talk, on condition that you break off on 
the least appearance of fatigue." 

After his departure, Woodbury, glad at heart, hastened to 
his wife's chamber. She lay perfectly still, and the curtains 
were drawn to shield her face from the light. " She is asleep," 
said the nurse. 

" Leave me a while here, if you please," said he, " I will 
watch until she wakes." 

The nurse left the room. He knelt beside the cradle, and 
bent over the sleeping babe, giving way, undisturbed by a 
watching eye, to the blissful pride of a father's heart. Pres- 
ently his eyes overflowed with happy tears, and he whis- 
pered to the unconscious child : " Richard ! my son, my dar- 
ling!" 

The babe stirred and gave out a broken wail of waking. 
He moved the cradle gently, still murmuring : " Richard, my 
darling ! God make me worthy to possess thee !" 

But he was not unseen ; he was not unheard. Hannah's 
light slumber had been dissolved by the magnetism of his 
presence, but so gently that her consciousness of things, re- 
turning before the awaking of the will, impressed her like a 
more distinct dream. As in a dream, through her partially- 
closed lids, she saw her husband kneel beside the cradle. She 
saw the dim sparkle of his tears, as they fell upon the child ; 
she heard his soliloquy of love and gratitude heard him call 
that child by her father's name ! Her mother's words flashed 
across her mind with a meaning which she had never thought 
of applying to her own case. Her father, too, had wept over 
his first-born ; in his heart passion had smouldered with in- 
tensest heat under a deceitful calm ; and her mother had only 
learned to know him when the knowledge came too late. To 



462 HANNAH THTJESTON : 

herself, that knowledge had come now : she had caught one 
glimpse of her husband's heart, when he supposed that only 
God's ear had heard him. In return for that sacred, though 
involuntary confession, she would voluntarily make one as 
sacred. The duty of a woman gave her strength ; the dignity 
of a mother gave her courage. 

When the babe was again lulled into quiet, she gently 
called: "Maxwell!" 

He rose, came to the bed, softly put his arms around her, 
and laid his lips to hers. " My dear wife," he said. 

" Maxwell, I have seen your heart," she whispered; " would 
you see mine ? Do you recollect what you asked me that 
afternoon, in the meadows not whether I loved, but whether 
I could love ? You have never repeated the other question 
since." 

" There was no need to ask," said he ; "I saw it answered." 

"My dear husband, do you not know that feeling, in a 
woman, must be born through speech, and become a living 
joy, instead of lying as a happy, yet anxious weight beneath 
the heart? Maxwell, the truth has been on my tongue a 
thousand times, waiting for some sign of encouragement from 
you ; but you have been so careful to keep the promise which 
I accepted nay, almost exacted, I fear that you could not 
see what a burden it had become to me. You have been too 
just to me ; your motive was generous and noble : I complain 
of myself only in having made it necessary. You did right to 
trust to the natural development of my nature through my 
better knowledge of life; but, oh, can you not see that the 
development is reached? Can you not feel that you are 
released from a duty towards me which is inconsistent with 
love ?" 

"Do you release me willingly, my wife?" he cried, an eager 
light coming into his eyes. " I have always felt that you were 
carried to me by a current against which you struggled. I 
could not resist the last wish of your mother, though I should 
never, alone, have dared to hasten our union. I would have 



A STOKY OF AMERICAN LIFE. 463 

waited would have given you time to know your heart time 
to feel that the only true freedom for man or woman is reach- 
ed through the willing submission of love." 

" Ignorant as I was," she answered, " I might never have 
come to that knowledge. I should have misunderstood the 
submission, and fought against it to the last. Mother was 
right. She knew me better than 1 knew myself. Maxwell, 
will you take back your promise of independence ? Will you 
cease to allow that cold spectre of justice to come between 
our hearts?" 

" Tell me why you ask it ?" said he. 

u Because I love you ! Because the dream whose hopeless- 
ness made my heart sick has taken your features, and is no more 
a dream, but a blessed, blessed truth ! Ask yourself what that 
means, and you will understand me. If you but knew how I 
have pined to discover your wish, in order that I might follow 
it! You have denied me the holiest joy of love the joy of 
sacrifice. As you have done it for my sake, so for my sake 
abandon the unfair obligation. Think what you would most 
desire to receive from the woman you love, and demand that 
of me !" 

" My darling, I have waited for this hour, but I could not 
seem to prematurely hasten it. I have held back my arms 
when they would have clasped you ; I have turned away my 
eyes, lest they might confuse you by some involuntary attrac- 
tion ; I have been content with silence, lest the voice of my love 
might have seemed to urge the surrender which your heart 
must first suggest. Do you forgive me, now, for the pitiless 
passion with which I stormed you ?" 

" There is your forgiveness," she murmured, through her 
tears, pointing to the cradle. 

He tenderly lifted the sleeping babe, and laid it upon her 
bosom. Then he knelt down at the bed, and bent his face 
upon the pillow, beside her own. " Darling," he whispered, " I 
accept all that you give : I take the full measure of your love, 
in its sacred integrity. If any question of our mutual rights 



464 HANNAH THURSTON. 

remain, I lay it in these precious little hands, warm with the 
new life in which our beings have become one." 

" And they will forever lead me back to the true path, if I 
should sometimes wander from it," was her answer. 



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* # * This work is not a bald biographical account of an individual, but chiefly consists 
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and distinguished statesmen and literary men, whose names are "familiar in our mouths 
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