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Full text of "Under golden skies, or, In the new Eldorado : a story of southern life"

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STEPHEN Bo WEEKS 

cuss OF 1886: PH.D. THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY 

OF THE 

UMVEKSmr OF N(DM1 CMPOM 
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UNIVERSITY OF NC AT CHAPEL HILL 



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This BOOK may be kept out TWO WEEKS 
ONLY, and is subject to a fine of FIVE 
CENTS a day thereafter. It was taken out on 
the day indicated below: 



Lib. 10M-F.'35 




UNDER GOLDEN SKIES 



OR 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO 



A Story of Southern Life 

BY 

A Southern Author 



•■A child's kiss 
Set on thy sighing lips, shall make thee glad; 
A poor man served by thee, shall make thee rich; 
A sick man helped by thee, shall make thee strong. 
Thou shalt be served thyself by every sense 
Of service which thou renderest." 

— E. B. Browning. 

'•Sometimes fair truth in fiction we disguise; 
Sometimes present her naked to men's eyes." 

— Hesiod. 



^ 



RALEIGH, N. C: 
Ktjwards & Broughton, Printers and Binder.s, 

1898. 



COPYRIGHTED, 1899. 



DEDICATION 

TO 

THE BRAVE AND NOBLE HEROES OF AMERICA, 

OUR CHAMPIONS AND DEFENDERS, 

WHO BY THEIR UNSELFISH COURAGE AND 

MODEST HEROISM, 
AS WELL AS THEIR LOVE OF JUSTICE AND 

HUMANITY. 
HAVE MADE THE HISTORY OF OUR WAR A 

GLORIOUS HERITAGE, 
IS THIS BOOK DEDICATED BY THE AUTHOR 

AS A 

SLIGHT MEMORIAL OF HER ADMIRATION FOR 

THEIR GALLANT DEEDS. 



INTRODUCTORY. 



In that splendid book that barely falls short 
of inspiration — the wonder of childhood and the 
comfort of old age — the master-piece of quaint 
and saintly John Bunyan, the picture of the 
Wicker Gate, though an eventide scene and 
done in sombre colors, is always vivid in the 
mind, for it is the •'Alabaaia," '"the here we 
rest" of Pilgrim's Progress. 

Did ever absorbed, enraptured child put the 
book aside for the good-night kiss and ' ' Now I 
lay me," and the trundle-bed until tired Chris- 
tian was safe within the portals of the Wicker 
Gate ? And over it was the inscription : ''Knock 
and it shall be opeaed unto you. " The first wel- 
come to the pilgrim on his way to the Celestial 
City! 

Descending from the sacred to the secular, not 
the slightest irreverence is intended in the state- 
ment that the earnest youth, seeking a life-mis- 
sion, will find the word ''Welcome'' above the 
open portals at the entering in to the Old North 
State. The young Puritan barrister, Wait- 
still Avery, vdth a Princeton sheepskin in his 
pocket and a brace of horse-pistols at his saddle- 
horn, who rode his sturdy nag from far New 
England, through forest and swamp a hundred 



ft INTRODUCTORY. 

years ago, to pitch his tent in the hill-country of 
IS'orth Carolina, found this cordial welcome; and 
so likewise the young man of to-day who rode 
into our midst in his palace-car from the great 
metropolis to build his splendid castle in the 
sheltering circle of the everlasting hills that 
guard the good State's western border. 

" Welcome " is the word, indeed, and yet hon- 
esty requires another inscription to be posted at 
our doors: "North Carolina — the State that 
makes history but rarely writes it. ' ' So prover- 
bial has this saying become that there has been 
atlded to the State coat-of -ar ms the motto : ' '■Esse 
qua III videri/' 

In too great modesty, as a State, lies the dan- 
ger that the fortune-seeker and the home-builder 
and the man with a mission or a message for 
the world will pass us by to settle in some sister 
State that takes the better care of the worth and 
heroism of her sons. 

With some such thoughts as these in mind, 
andsDme such fears weighing upon the heart, the 
author was impelled in recent years to write this 
story of Southern life, " Under Golden Skies." 
An undying love for North Carolina and her 
brave people, with indignation over abuse some- 
times unjustly heaped upon the State, prompted 
this effort — whatever be its results — to aid in 
setting the good State aright before those who 



INTRODUCTORY. 7 

know her least. And such an effort will surely 
receive the commendation of all true North Car- 
oUnians. 

Then, too, this sketch of North Carolina life 
is intended to illustrate the actual history of the 
period covered in the narrative. The characters 
of the story are generally taken from real life. 
The purely imaginary characters introduced are 
few ; hut even these are all very real to the author. 
The writer of these introductory hues, during al- 
most a decade in which he has heen honored 
with the friendship of the author, has often noted 
the enthusiastic affection she entertained for the 
people in her book. These children of the imagi- 
nation have all become entangled in the heart- 
strings of the author. It is related of Thackery 
that, being asked the cause of a burst of tears 
one day, he rephed: "I have killed Colonel 
Newcombe I ' ' How dear to the heart of an 
author is the family of book-children I 

The story is more than founded on fact. It is 
a story of all facts. The little fiction in it is 
chiefly to link together the real episodes in the 
history of friends in the flesh and to make the 
sketch an harmonious whole. 

Supremest motive of all, the book is sent foith 
by the author in the loving hope that it may 
appeal to "the angels of our better natures;'" 
that it may stimulate to a truer, better, richer. 



8 INTRODUCTORY. 

higher, hoherhfe; that it may shed some sun- 
shine into darkened hearts, some melody in song- 
less lives; that it may encourage desponding 
souls to mount up, in hope and faith, as on 
eagles' wings, above obscuring clouds, until, 
"Under Golden Skies" indeed, they bask con- 
tinually in the flooding sunlight of God's love 
and peace and promises. 

Howard A. Banks. 

Charlotte, N. C. August 30, 1898. 



UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; 



OR. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 



CHAPTER I. 



One, two, — Dr. Leslie paused suddenly in his 
walk and bent his head in an attitude of rapt at- 
tention, and for a moment listened. 

V^aguely, from a distance, away in the direc- 
tion of the quiet Moravian town which nestled 
twin-like beside its favored sister, rang out in 
solemn chimes from the old church gable, three, 
four, five o'clock! — the mellow sound throbbing 
and receding upon the crisp morning air like a 
half-heard, elusive strain of melody as it teas- 
ingiy touched the consciousness, — then lan- 
guished and died away in the restful stillness. 

The balmy spring weather was gloriously beau- 
tiful, such as comes to the Old North State in 
the month of May, and the soft air smelt of the 
blended fragrance of roses and violets. The 
heaven was without a cloud, but a pearly white 
mist loitered in the atmosphere of the upper calm 
which the rosy radiance of the ascending sun 
began to lift as it rapidly saffused the eastern 
horizon. 

During the night a gentle rain had fallen, and 
under the first quivering sunbeams of dawn the 
waving grasses and tender foliage of the trees 
and shrubbery took on a deeper brilliancy. 



10 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

As Dr. Leslie slowly paced back and forth the 
long veranda of his handsome residence, inhal- 
ing with a sense of the keenest enjoyment the 
dewy freshness of the early morning, there was 
no sound as yet astir about the house and prem- 
ises save the echo of his own measured footfall, 
and the rapturous trill of a mocking bird that 
swayed himself to and fro on the topmost bough 
of an ancient oak on the velvety green lawi^ ; but 
low and indistinct at first, then deepening in in- 
tensity every moment, the sound of busy life in- 
creased. To the eastward the shrill whistle of 
the steam-engine, mellowed by the distance, 
shortly followed by the sudden clash and clangor 
of moving trains. Somewhere round the corner 
a drowsy cock crowed long and mournfully, then 
another and another took up the friendly chal- 
lenge, answering defiantly and vigorously, while 
the resonant notes seemed to hang tentatively in 
the clear fragrant air. Across the way a savage- 
looking dog, cropped-eared and short of tail, 
pranced and barked furiously at a stray cat he 
had nosed prowling suspiciously about his pri- 
vate domain, and when he had rebuked the 
feline tramp for its intrusion it had fled precipi- 
tately to the top of the gate post, where it sat 
curling and beating its tail in a tigerish sort of 
way and glaring angrily down upon its noisy 
tormentor. 

When the town clock sent forth another warn- 
ing the bright, busy city was fairly awake. The 
great factory whistles screamed and shrilled in 
every direction, and soon the streets were 
thronged with workmen, clerks and salesmen, 
gayly jesting and gossipping together as they 
hurried along toward the scene of their daily 
tasks. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 11 

Ere long the noisy clattering and jangle of 
grocery-, milk wagons and drays added variety 
to the medley, while above the din rose the harsh 
discordant clangor of the electric street cars, half 
filled with passengers, as they whirred and 
dashed breezily past along their level track. 

Dr. Leshe paused when he had reached the end 
of the veranda where a luxuriant rose- vine clam- 
bered over the roof, to pluck a cluster of the fra- 
grant flowers, and just then a suddenly awak- 
ened wind swayed the heavily freighted branches 
and flung a shower of golden rose petals at his 
feet, making yellow stains upon the polished 
floor. 

As he turned to resume his walk, in the full 
enjoyment of the vivid picture before him, his 
ear caught the grinding noise of brisk, heavy 
footsteps coming up the graveled walk. His 
handsome face beamed with a perfunctory smile 
as he cast a swift glance in the direction of the 
sound, and he walked alertly forward to the 
front of the veranda. 

"How are you, Leary '? Uome in, come in, 
you are out early, ' said the doctor, with the 
cordial familiarity in tone and manner of an old 
friend, at the same time extending a plump white 
hand as his visitor hesitated upon the steps. 

"No, thanks; I haven't time really. I just 
called to see if Carl has decided to go with me to 
Europe ? He told me he thought he should be 
able to get off by the time I was ready to leave.'' 

Mr. Leary took off his stiff black hat and 
leaned against one of the fluted pillars, and ner- 
vously combed his long fingers through his dark 
hair, which was beginning to show strands of 
gray. 



12 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES: OR, 

'* Well, yes; that is a matter I want to speak 
with you about. Come, let us talk it over." 

Dr. Leslie stepped quickly into the hall, laid 
the roses he held in his hand upon the table, and 
brought out two chairs. 

'' Carl ran over to the University day before 
yesterday." he resumed. '' to take part with the 
Glee Club in a concert. What I want to say is 
this : he is anxious to go abroad, and I've always 
intended he should as soon as he had finished his 
studies at the University ; and really I do not 
know any better opportunity for him to take this 
trip than now. The president of the University, 
who takes a great interest in him, has advised 
him to go by all means, spend the summer trav- 
eling w^ith you on the continent and then enter 
at Heidelberg or Leipzig. I heartily approve of 
the plan. We've talked the matter over with 
his mother and it meets her approval also." 

Mr. Leary listened with a look of pleased sat- 
isfaction, occasionally nodding his head softly, 
and otherwise manifestiog the most vivid inter- 
est. Then he said approvingly : 

"• Yes, it seems that one's education can hardly 
be called complete in this day without an Euro- 
pean excursion as a final touch to the home 
polish. As soon as my wife found out that I was 
going abroad, she insisted that I should put off 
the trip a few weeks until Kate was graduated 
from the Academy, so they could accompany 
me. I am glad now that I did sc." 

'• How soon do you expect to start, and on 
what steamer?" Dr. Leslie asked. 

" That I don't know just now. I am expect- 
ing letters this morning which will influence 
mv deci.sion. I think the Germanic sails about 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 1?> 

the first of June, and it is more than likely I 
shall go by that." 

Mr. Leary got upon his feet and hastened to 
say, as he looked at his watch: ''But 1 must 
be going. Can't you come down, say about ten 
or eleven o'clock ? and by that time I may be bet- 
ter able to give you my plans and the outlines 
0£ ray trip. ' ' 

" Yes, I'll be down sometime during-fhe morn- 
ing. Can't promise what hour. But won't you 
stay and breakfast with me? — be giad to have 
you." Dr. Leslie had risen, and stood with his 
hands clasped behind him. 

" Thanks — not this morning, I've been to 
breakfast." They still stood talking in the i-'ash- 
iim common to men when discussing a subject 
of mutual interest. Mr. Leary looked at his 
watch again ; ' ' I shall expect you dowm soon — 
in the course of an hour or two; good-bye." 

He started off at a quick, hght pace. Half 
way down the walk he stopped and called back ; 
'• By the way, have you heard anything from 
our old friends out in California lately ? I mean 
Arnold, Glen wood and Talbot ? "" 

"No, not for some time, why?" Dr. Leslie 
asked quickly while a sudden change passed over 
his face. The other hesitated a moment as if 
debating whether to answer directly. But he 
only said hurriedly — almost abruptly: -'Oh, 
never mind now. Don't let me forget to give 
you the last San Francisco papers when you 
come clown." 

Dr. Leslie watched his retreating figure until 
it had passed out of sight. He was satisfied that 
Mr. Leary had some definite motive for asking 
him that question, and he could not repress the 



14 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

impulse to wonder what he meant. He tried to 
shrug away the unaccountahle depression that 
seemed obscurely taking hold of him. From 
conjectural thoughts his mind easily slipped into 
pensive reveries, and as his revery deepened, the 
shad(nv that drifted across his face evidenced 
that he suffered. 

In this moment of retrospection, he went back 
as far as the fifties — as remotely as 1859. With- 
out conscious mental effort he recalled minute 
details that he believed he had entirely forgotten. 
He remembered reading a, book some years ago, 
giving a most glowing account of the richness, 
beauty and vastness of California, which lauded 
the country with little regard to accuracy, the 
object being to start immigration. The book had 
been the means of inducing his own parents to 
go to that beautiful Eldorado. 

Among the families who had immigrated from 
North Carolina with Dr. Leshe's parents were 
the Glenwoods, his nearest ma^.ernal kin. and 
the Arnolds, Learys and Talbots, the children of 
whom were his playfellows. ' He, himself, was 
too young to have any recollection of the dim 
fear of danger attendant on so long a journey, 
but he had often heard his parents recount their 
trials, until he felt that he too remembered it 
all and had shared in their anxieties. But he did 
recall the feeling of wonder and delight he had 
experienced on coming back to his native place 
with his widowed mother and two sisters soon 
after the civil war, and discovering what a mag- 
nificent country they had left behind to cast their 
fortunes in a strange land. 

Ignorantly, as thousands of others had done 
before them, they had left a land of splendid and 



IN THE NEW ET.DORADO. 15 

endless possibilities, embracing every variety of 
scenery, soil, climate and production — from iDlue 
mountain peaks and pasture lands, to vast plains 
and river valleys of bottomless alluvium, teem- 
ing with all the fruits and fabrics of arctic, tern - 
perate and semi-tropical realms — a land that had 
the finest deciduous trees in the world, the great- 
est variety of flowering plants, so botanists 
averred, and a larger variety of mineral wealth 
than any other State in the Union. All this they 
had left, and for what purpose ? 

That they might secure a little more filthy 
lucre, perhaps more easily and readily, but which 
fortune^ they would have realized at home had 
they been content to remain within her borders 
and seek the knowledge and skill wherewith to 
develop the boundless resources within theii^ 
reach. 

The tide had turned now — yes, was rapidly 
turning — and he felt a joyous pride in the fact; 
glad, too, that he had come back to labor and 
die among a people whose creative power, intel- 
ligent enthusiasm and iron-hearted ambition 
were working out miracles far beyond the most 
extravagant things that had ever been prophe- 
sied about the Old North State. 

Indeed, progress had gone on so quietly and 
unostentatiously in the latter years, that now 
the M'hole country was amazed at the develop- 
ment. Assuredly there was no place between 
the two oceans equal to North Carolina for in- 
vestment. Gould, Corbin and Vanderbilt had 
found it out soon, and this had promptly led the 
van of an immigration from Northern and West- 
ern States, which was now growing apace. 

Then, with an intensity of sad feeling, Dr. 



IH UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

Leslie mentally recurred to the career of his 
father. He had been a man of courage, sagacity 
and generous instincts, and at his death, which 
occurred many years ago, his family had come 
into possession of the handsome fortune which 
lie had accunmlated so rapidly, and seemingly, 
so easily. But his death had been a signal for a 
significant change in the future plans of his 
familv. 

After so many years of absence they indulged 
in some misgivings as to whether they should be 
able to repurchase the old homestead, and it was 
with pleased surprise that they had found little 
difficulty in doing so. 

Money, as we all know, is a powerful alchem- 
ist; and under its transforming touch the old 
))rick mansion of the Leslies, with its imposing- 
front, impressing one with an air of comfort and 
homely solidity, literally blossomed as the rose, 
and to the well-trained eye of the stranger even, 
it was luminous with intimations as to the real 
social status of the occupants. 

The ringing of the breakfast bell interrujjted 
Dr. Leslie's meditations, and when he entered 
the bright, pretty room the breakfast was upon 
the table, but the three occupants had been 
waiting. 

Mrs. Grayson, his widowed sister, a well-pre- 
served woman, gentle and refined in manner, 
and still wearing the garb of widowhood, though 
in a modified form, sat by an open window 
arranging a basket of freshly cut flowers, the 
sunlight falling upon her sweet, calm face while 
she talked to Nellie, her little daughter, who was 
clipping the stems of some of the choicest roses 
and dressing a tiny vase of her own which stood 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 17 

upoD the window-sill, Carl, her son, a hand- 
some young man of not quite twenty-two years, 
stood beside her, one hand easily resting upon 
the back of her chair, and in the other he held 
The Sentinel, a daily paper, from which he had 
been reading to her a spicy editorial on a mooted 
question of local interest. 

The room, which was large and lofty, had that 
air of comfort and refinement which bespoke the 
cultivated taste of the owner, as weU as the ap- 
propriateness of its purpose. Everything seemed 
specially suited to it, from the pretty etchings 
on the frescoed wall, and a few rare pieces of 
bric-a-brac scattered about to please the eye, to 
the white damasked table with its exquisite ser- 
vice of rose-tinted china and resplendent silver. 

"Oh. Uncle Ralph, you're late.' exclaimed 
Nellie whirling around as Dr. Leslie entered the 
room ; * ' Mamma rang the breakfast bell twice ; 
and why didn't you come ? " 

' ' I was talking with Mr. Leary when the first 
beU rang. I suppose, and didn't hear it," Dr. 
LesUe explained to Mrs. Grayson's glance, and 
Nellie's good-natured plaint. " I'm sorry I kept 
you waiting, but I'll try not to do it any more." 

" See here. Uncle Ralph, aren't these beauti- 
ful ? — and ugh ! " smelling them — " they are just 
as sweet as can be! '' shouted Nellie, holding up 
with triumphant glee the flowers she had been 
arranging. 

"Yes, they are as pretty and sweet as little 
Nell. ' ' he said with a specious brightness, encir- 
cling the tiny waist with one arm, and kissing 
the dimpled cheek. " But let's have breakfast 
now, and not keep mamma and Carl waiting 
any longer. ' ' 



( 



IS UNDKR GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

'' All right, sir." She set the vase upon the 
tahle between her own and her uncle's plate, and 
climbed nimbly up into her baby chair on his 
right. She scarcely waited for him to finish the 
blessing before she began again with voluble ani- 
mation. 

" Mamma's. going to take her flowers to Daisy 
Nelson, because Daisy says she loves to have 
flowers about her when she's sick — said she got 
so tired looking at the dark-papered walls : and 
the pictures of those old-timey, funny looking 
men hanging over the mant^-l looked as if they 
were making faces at her. I asked her to let me 
pull them down and burn them up, but she 
w^ouldn't do it — she said her mamma would scold 
us like anything if we did." 

" How is the child, Helen ? have you seen her 
in the last day or two ? " Dr. Leslie addressed 
himself to Mrs. Grayson, who had taken her seat 
at the head of the table. 

" I'm afraid she isn't any better. I was to see 
her on yesterday. Mrs. Nelson said she had 
taken no soHd food for several days. I don't like 
her symptoms, and wish you would call to see 
her to-day if you can." 

' ' Yes, I will, ■ ' he assented. ' ' But I must see 
Leary the first thing this morning on some busi - 
ness, and afterwards I'll call to see the child. I 
hope yet she may pull through this last attack." 

■For a moment he paused, then turned to Carl. 

" If you have no special engagement for this 
morning, I should hke you to go with me to 
Leary 's office. He and I Avere talking about — " 
But Dr. Leslie was interrupted by a tap on the 
door. 

'What is it, Virgil?" 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 19 

A servant had entered the room with the morn- 
ing's mail, which he handed to Carl, who sat 
nearest the door. The letters were all addressed 
to his uncle except one, which was for himself 
from a old schoolmate whose familiar hand- 
writing he readily recognized. He handed the 
magazines to his mother, the letters and papers 
to his uncle, and then prepared to read his own 
letter, 

'• T guess my letters can wait,-' said Dr. Leslie, 
eyeing the hudget as he laid it beside his plate 
and went on with his breakfast. 

" Uncle Ralph you do get so many letters! Do 
you read every single one of them and send an- 
swers to them ? '" asked Nellie earnestly, survey- 
ing her uncle's mail. 

"■ Why, yes, my dear, I read them all, but it is 
not always necessary to answer ever}' one I get. 
When you are older and learn how to write 
maybe you'll help me with my correspondence — 
be a sort of private secretary for me. you knoAv. 
Many charming women are making an undenia- 
ble success in such a position at present. ' ' 

" Oh, I'll never be smart enough to write for 
you, Uncle Ealph. " " Nellie paused and was silent 
for a moment, then she burst out as if a new 
idea had suddenly occurred to her — something 
she had never thought of before, but something 
luminous with possibilities for her uncle. 

" Why don't you get married, Uncle Ralph, 
and then you would have some one to help you 
to write your letters ? That would be the verv 
thing. ' ' 

A warning look and a significant shake of the 
head from her mother silenced her, while she 
wondered what she was saying so dreadful that 
her mother would want her to hush. 



20 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

Meanwhile Carl had read his letter, \^'ith a 
troubled expression on his face he resumed his 
breakfast, trying to appear as usual, but failed 
utterly. 

After making a Hglit breakfast he strolled to 
the window aud looked out, then walked back 
and stood with one arm resting on the mantel. 

" Uncle, I have a letter from Cecil Brian; you 
remember him I suppose '? ' ' 

" Brian ? Cecil Brian ? " Dr. Leslie contracted 
his eyebrows. " Yes. I think I do remember the 
name." 

Carl refreshed his memory. 

" He is my old friend and classmate, and 1 in- 
troduced him to } ou at the University Com- 
mencement last summer. He and I Avere grad- 
uated at the same time. Cecil writes me that he 
has decided to go to Europe this summer to study 
Art. He says h^ wishes t > spend one year in 
Paris and afterward spend several months visit- 
ing the most famous art galleries in other Euro- 
pean cities. He wants to join Mr. Leary's party, 
and so writes to know when he expects to go 
abroad, and all the particulars. 

" In about two weeks he will be in Philadel- 
phia, and says if Mr. Leary has decided to leave 
at about that time, he will join him in Philadel- 
phia and accompany him to New York. Now if 
I can find out from Mr. Leary to-day, what his 
plans are, I can write Cecil at once.'' 

" That was my object in asking you to go with 
me this moniing, '' said his uncle. '' It was to 
talk this matter over. But I'll run through mv 
mail now, and in about an hour and a half I'll 
meet you at Mr. Leary "s office." 

Dr. Leslie curned and began opening his let- 
ters. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 21 

Carl still lingered in the room, but he had 
moved to the window again. In the interval of 
silence that ensued a shadow had overspread 
Mrs. Grayson's usually calm face. 

Carl stood irresolute for a second's space, then 
crossed the room to his mother and stooped and 
kissed her; then suddenly left the room. 

" Dear boy; how I shall miss him when he's 
gone," Mrs. Grayson said, as if talking to herself . 

She sighed softly, took up the magazine and 
as she turned to quit the room cast a swift 
glance at her brother, and the expression on his 
face at once arrested her attention. She stopped 
abruptly. He was intensely absorbed reading a 
letter which was closely written on crisp white 
note paper, and of considerable length. 

As he eagerly read on. thrusting the loose 
sheets between the trellises of his ringers, an 
ashy pallor settled on his countenauce. He pres- 
ently looked up, and rose, apparently with an 
effort. 

" Helen, come with me into the sitting-room, " 
he said; '' I have a letter to submit to you, and 
I wish your advice." 

'' Certainly, Ralph ; I am sorry too that you've 
received news that gives you pain," she said 
very gravely ; then followed her brother to the 
sitting-room, and when she had entered he 
handed het a letter which was post- marked San 
Francisco, and directed in large but not very 
legible handwriting. ^:' 

Then he drew a chair near the centre table 
confronting her, and while waiting for her to 
read the letter, battled the ground over and over 
again with the bitter memories of the past. 



M 



22 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 



CHAPTER II. 

After Mrs. Grayson had read the letter there 
came a singular calm. In the last few minutes 
she appeared to have grown older, her face i-e- 
flecting the expession of her brother's visage, 
from which all life seemed to have gone out. 

He raised his eyes to her face and saw the ex- 
pression of expectancy upon it. 

" I have so much confidence in your judf;ineut. 
Helen," he began. '• that I wish your advice in 
a matter of such vital importance as this. Ar- 
nold's letter demands a definite and immediate 
response." 

Dr. Leslie's tone was quiet, and in a measure 
he had regained that calm superiority of manner 
which habitually characterized his bearing, but 
which a momentary weakness had shaken. 

Mrs. Grayson stopped and picked up a part of 
the letter that had shpped to the floor, and when 
she had hfted her head, her face was suddenly 
agio A with the new, noble purpose which filled 
her heart, and became almost radiant as she 
bravely addressed him. 

" Ralph, if you have forgiven Frank Arnold 
for aU the injury and sorrow that his sin and 
dupUcity brought upon you in your early years 
— forgiven him for robbing you of so much that 
made life happy and beautiful— forgiven your 
once trusted and devotedly loved friend for com- 
ing between you and the one woman to whom 
you had declared your love and hope — and the 
memory of which still brings mournful shadows 
to your face — then surely your own heart will 
dictate to you the best answer to return to a dy- 
ing man's'request, when he asks you to take his 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 23 

orphan child under your roof and guardianship, 
and be to her a counselor and a protector. ' ' 

She paused and looked into his dark gray eyes, 
which were misty with tears. She put out her 
hand and laid it on his. The soft touch of the 
warm palm seemed to soothe him. 

' ' Thank you Helen, ' ' he said. ' ' I fully com- 
prehend what duty requires of me, and your 
wise reasoning commends itself to my better na- 
ture; but for a time I was so jarred and stunned 
by Arnold's unexpected and extraordinary letter 
that I was quite powerless amidst the ebb and flow 
of conflicting emotions to determine what course 
best to pursue. I realize, too, the grave re- 
sponsibility I must assume in becoming the 
counselor and guardian of Arnold's child." 

" Ealph, my sympathies are already deeply 
enlisted in behalf of this poor child, and I believe 
that I shall love her very dearly, even if she but 
be half as lovely as her father has represented. ' ' 

" How old is she '? I do not remember wliether 
Arnold or Mr. Bently stated." 

" Singularly enough her father failed to men- 
tion her age, and so did Mr. Bently, his solicitor 
who subjoined the postscript on a separate sheet 
after Mr. Arnold's death," said Mrs. Grayson. 
'' iVs she is the youngest, and I infer from this 
letter the only surviving child of three children 
by his second marriage, presumably she is not 
more than eight or nine years of age. Mr. 
Arnold spoke of her as ' Little Ruth ' all through 
his letter. ' ' 

She paused a moment, then went on. " It is 
passing strange to me that he should have called 
this child for the wife whose fair young life he 
blighted, and whose proud sensitive heart he so 



24 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

mercilessly broke after one short year of married 
misery and neglect. ' ' 

There was a tender vibration in Mrs. Grayson's 
voice, as if she were trying to suppress unbid- 
den tears. 

*' When was Arnold's letter written ? " 

" Oq the loth, and this is the 18th. Should 
Mr. Glenwood and his family leave San Francisco 
for l\ew York the first week in June, as they 
purpose doing — so Mr. Bently writes — and if 
Ruth is to accompany them to the latter city in 
the event Mr. Bently hears from you favorably 
before they start, you would better answer his 
letter by return mail. ' ' 

The clock on the mantel struck ten. Dr. Leslie 
rose at once. " It is useless to wait dinner for 
me, Helen,'' he said. "■ I had hoped to dine with 
you ana your friends to-day, but I hardly think 
I shaQ be able to do so now. I shall go to Leary's 
office the first thing, for I suspect Carl is waiting 
for me there, then call to see several patients, 
and afterward come by Mrs. Nelson's to see 
Daisy. ' 

Mrs. Grayson made no answer, for her brother 
crossed the room while he was still talking, 
passed on to the veranda and called to Virgil to 
saddle his horse. 

It was all plain now, why Leary had asked 
him about their old friends in California. Doubt- 
less he had seen an account of Arnold's death. 
He winced as he thought- of what his interview 
with Mr. Learv must inevitablv lead to after the 
matter of Carl's trip had been discussed and 
arranged, and now he rather shrank from meet- 
ing him — his trusted friend too, so soon after 
the old wound had been probed. 

When he had gone Mrs. Grayson walked to 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 25 

the window and looked vaguely out on the sun- 
shine gold that filtered through the tender 
leaves and glinted on the rippling wavelets in 
the basin of the fountain. How lovely it all was ! 
There seemed nothing to mar the exquisiteness 
of the perfect scene ; and yet what a depth of 
anguish there was in her wearied heart. 

So vividly came to her as she stood there, the 
closing lines of " The Tapestry Weavers "—that 
beautiful poem which on one memorable occa- 
sion she had heard recited with such thrilling- 
pathos by the late Henry W, Grady, of Geor- 
gia — the Hero of his nation — one who was so 
generally admired and so much beloved that to 
hundreds of thousands throughout the sunny 
Southland his early death came as a personal be- 
reavement. 

She seemed strangely lifted up by the ever- 
lasting Arms of Love as the Angel of peace sooth- 
ingly whispered: 

" And when his task is ended, and his web is turned and 

strown 
"He shall hear the voice of the Master. It shall sav to 

him, 'Well done!' 
"And the white-winged angels of heaven, to bear him 

hence, sliall come down ; 
"And for his wage shall give him, not coin, but a golden 

crown." 

Nellie's voice broke the silence. At that mo- 
ment she came laughing and romping up the 
serpentine walk, with a skip and a bound, swing- 
ing her broad-brimmed hat, and Bruce, her large 
New Fouudland dog, racing playfully by her side. 

" Where have you been, Nellie ? " asked Mrs. 
Grayson. " Your slippers are muddy, and your 
sash all crumpled. Come here and let me ar- 
range it, and then let Julia brush your slippers. " 

3 



26 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

Mrs. Grayson gently drew Nellie towards her, 
smoothed out the creased folds of her sash and 
then fastened it. Then she brushed back some 
of the straggling strands blown from her flossy 
curls, which hung like tangled silk over her dim- 
pled shoulders. 

Nellie looked down with an apologetical ex- 
pression at her muddy shoes, then round at her 
mother. 

" I'm so sorry, Mamma; but I've been to the 
stable to see Beppo, Uncle Ralph's new horse, 
and Virgil let me ride him two or three times 
round the stable lot. Oh, Mamma, if you just 
would buy me a little saddle — a nice little side- 
saddle like Amy Finley's, you know, Mamma? 
Virgil says I may ride every day, and then I'll 
soon learn to ride as nicely as Carl or Uncle 
Ealph.'' 

Mrs. Grayson smiled. " Very well; we'll see 
about it. But you musn't attempt to ride Beppo 
alone yet, because we do not know if he is per- 
fectly safe for a little girl to ride.*' 

" Why, Mamma, Virgil says he's just as gen- 
tle as Bruce, and I think he must be too; for 
when Virgil put me on his back this morning, 
Beppo walked off just like he was used to little 
girls riding him, and I wasn't a bit afraid." 

Mrs. Grayson looked at Nellie with an amused 
smile as she quelled in herself an impulse to 
laugh at her artless tactics. But despite her 
effort to appear cheerful, the sad, melancholy 
air came back to her, and in some vague way 
Nellie had the feeling of being held in check. 
During the next few seconds many different ex- 
pressions flitted over her face, and her mother 
watching her said : 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 2T 

' ' I am going to have some friends to dine with 
me to-day, and as I shall not have time to take 
Daisy's flowers to her this morning, suppose you 
get your brother to drive you out to see her for 
me — you go and ask him and I will see about 
dinner. 

" Oh. I hope he will go. then we can drive 
Beppo!" said Nellie delightedly. 

As Mrs. Grayson turned to leave the room, 
Nellie suddenly skipped through the doorway 
ahead of her mother, and the dog who, under a 
listless attitude had been covertly regarding her 
for the last few minutes, fled sportively after her 
in full chase. 



// 



2S UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 



CHAPTER III. 

The departure of Mr. Leary and Carl had been 
delayed. The business which Mr. Leary had to 
transact involved more time than he thought, 
so it was quite three weeks until they were ready 
to leave for New York. 

Meanwhile, Dr. Leslie had promptly written 
Mr, Bently (Mr. Arnold's sohcitor), as to the 
time and place he and his sister would meet 
Mr. Glenwood and Ruth. 

Mrs. Grayson had arranged to leave Nellie 
with her maiden sister, Miss Rachel Leslie, an 
elderly lady of a rather peculiar temperament, 
))ut withal, very friendly and kind-hearted. 

Carl awoke early on the morning of his de- 
parture, and, while dressing, made many brave 
resolutions, for his mother's sake, to be calm 
and cheerful when the final hour of parting had 
arrived. 

He took from an antlered rack a slender, sil- 
ver-mounted riding- whip, the pretty gift of some 
lady friend, and crept noiselessly down-stairs in 
the gray twilight of the scarcely awakened 
household, to the stables. Saddling his horse, 
and mounting, he rode forth into the exhilarat- 
ing sweetness of the morning air. He wanted 
to enjoy one more canter on Beppo, he said to 
himself, before he left, and to get more heart 
and nerve into himself. 

He cast a swift glance at the quiet house, then 
turned and rode rapidly away toward the beau- 
tiful boulevards in the western part of the city. 

After an hour's absence he returned strength- 
ened and refreshed. The sun had risen, and as 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 29 

it threw its mantle of gold over the stirring city 
the sullen shadows retreated. 

Carl rode through a small gate opening into 
the yard or. the right of the house and stopped, 
still sitting in the saddle while he looked over 
the familiar scene as if trying to impress its 
vivid outlines and every detail upon his memory. 
Never before had the beauty of the dear old 
place struck him so keenly as now when he was 
going to leave it. Even inanimate things be- 
came dearer; but when he saw Aunt Milly, his 
old nurse, come out of the house and walk slowly 
toward him. suddenly an anticipative homesick- 
ness came over him and a gathering mistiness 
blurred his view. 

' ' Good morning, Aunt Milly — where is Vir- 
gil ? " Carl greeted and questioned her in the 
same breath, struggling to speak in a level tone 
and to subdue the emotion which almost over- 
came him. 

" He's at the stable, I b'leve. Mus' I call 
him ? " She glanced round, but went on, " You 
don't know how sorry I 'm honey you're gwine 
away, an' I feard your ole nussy won't see you 
any mo'. Spects I'll be dead and gone long 'fore 
you come back — you ever come back again, " said 
Aunt Milly with melancholy meekness, coming- 
closer and resting her right hand, in her old con- 
fidential way, upon the pommel of the saddle. 

" Oh, I hope not. Aunt Milly. I'm coming- 
back again before a great while — and you know 
Europe is not so far away now as it used to be. " 

To Aunt Milly's incredulous stare Carl has- 
tened to explain — ' ' That is, people can go there 
and return in a much shorter time than they 
used to, they have better ships now and they 



so UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

know better how to manage them, for they've 
got more knowledge about such things — that's 
what I mean, I'll not forget you while Fm 
away, Aunt Milly; and now that I've got the 
opportunity, I want to thank you for your faith- 
fulness and all your kindness to mother, Nellie 
and me. I can't begin to tell you half how much 
I appreciate it, but I assure you I shall never 
forget it. I hope j^ou and Virgil will remain 
here with Uncle Ealph, and that I shall find you 
both here on my return. I know he will always 
provide well for you, and not allow you to suffer 
or want for anything. ' ' 

'' Yes, I know that, chile", cause he's alius 
done it since I've been freed an' 'fore too. Ise 
been liviu' with white folks so long till it 'pears 
I can't get used to livin' with no other — an' then 
you-all white chillun that I nuss'd seem jes' as 
near an' dear to me as my own chillun." Aunt 
Milly was full of all kinds of the best instincts, 
and she said this with great seriousness and the 
nearest approach to tears. She meant every 
word of it. Then she took her hand from the 
saddle and fumbled down for a corner of her 
ample apron, 

Carl felt strongly moved to sympathy at the 
sight of Aunt Milly's grief, and to maintain his 
outward composure said huskily, as he made a 
gesture to move on, " I'll see you again. Aunt 
Milly, before I start. I want to see Virgil just 
nov>r. ' ' He reached down and artfully slipped a 
gold double eagle into her dusky palm, and 
turned suddenly and rode to the stables w^here 
he found Virgil putting Beppo's feed into his 
trough. Dismounting, he talked with him a few 
minutes, i3atting the horses by w^ay of a parting 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 31 

caress, then walked rapidly toward the house: 
but not until he had done something to draw 
forth an eloquent soliloquy from Virgil as soon 
as he was out of ear-shot. 

"Clever man, Mr. Carl is — nothing mean about 
him — generous as a prince, just hke the doctor — 
believes in paying a fellow well for what he 
does. ' ' He slipped his hand down into his pocket, 
took out some silver and counted it. 

'' Phew! enough to get that evening dress suit 
down at Dallinger's & Co. — just like Mr. Carl's, 
though his may be something finer. Ugh ! guess 
I'll be ' in the swim. ' " 

Breakfast was hurriedly dispatched that morn 
ing, and for once everyone seemed disposed to 
slight Aunt Milly's most temptingly prepared 
dishes, so the meal was barely more than a mere 
form. 

The morning was bright, serene and beautiful, 
not a cloud in the sapphire sky so far aloof, and 
the pure, fresh air bore the perfume of the flow- 
ers and the song of the birds. 

The metal crosses cresting the tall church 
spires emblazoned the golden radiance of the 
morning's sun, and outlined with vivid distinct- 
ness the graceful proportions of the handsome 
edifices. 

So much Carl saw at the first quick glance as 
they drove through the busy thoroughfares of 
the city on their way to the R. & D. station; 
and then he tried to catch a last photographic 
glimpse of all the familiar places about him, and 
at the same time get consolation out of the hope 
that during his studious sojourn abroad the time 
would pass rapidly, and really would not seem 
so very long after all, before he should return to 
his dear native city. 



32 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES: OR 



He felt sure that he should never love any- 
other place half so well. Then he fell into a re- 
flective train of thought about it. Undoubtedly 
it was the coming city of his State, and as a citi- 
zen and a Southerner he felt proud of it. The 
growth and development of the place in the last 
decade had been marvellous, and certainly there 
was nothing to hinder its continued rapid prog- 
ress. 

There was more genuine public spirit, more 
unity of purpose, and more organization among 
the business men than were to be found in most 
Southern cities. These were the things that in- 
sured the growth of a community, and herein 
he felt sure had been much of the city's strength 
in the past. As he looked out upon the broad, 
busy streets, lined with handsome business houses 
and elegant private residences, he exulted to 
himself, not vain-gioriously, but with a sense of 
pardonable pride, that the city had indeed a pros- 
perity that was unsurpassed and a future that 
was in the highest degree encouraging. Then, 
with an honest inspiration kindling his generous 
heart, he felt as if he should likp to extend a 
hearty invitation to the thousands of homeseek- 
ers and capitalists of the North and West to come 
and cast their fortunes in such a progressive 
city, which, with its health-giving atmosphere 
charged with ozone, and its matchless, invigorat- 
ing climate, was incomparably superior to any 
other place that he knew of. Yes, it was one 
of the brightest, breeziest, pluckiest cities in the 
State, he said to himself, and it cost him pangs 
of keenest misery to leave it even for the short 
space of two years. 

Carl, like his Uncle Ealph, had much State as 
well as local pride. He knew that good people 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 38 

were always welcome in his State, as well as in 
his town ; and the inducements in the way of 
climate and soil throughout the length and 
breadth of the State could not be surpassed. 

How infinitely happy the thousands of desira- 
ble imraigiants — who were steered every year t:» 
the prairies of the far West, where they made 
investments of capital and labor, and could not 
get away — would l)e if living in a country so im- 
mensely rich in natural resources as his own na- 
tive State with its beautiful soil — too much of it 
unproductive and uncleared simply because her 
resources had not been properly displayed to 
them. He hoped that North Carolina would 
make such a creditable exhibit of her existing 
conditions and future possibilities at the great 
World's Fair, that the thousands of sight-seers 
who went thither might get at least a faint con- 
ception of the wonderful treasures she held, and 
many of them be induced to come and see for 
themselves that she had combined advantages 
that no other State in the laud could boast. 

Arrived at the station, they found quite a coterie 
of their friends assembled to bid them good-bye. 
Mr. and Mrs. Leary and their daughter, Kate, 
were in the ladies' Avaiting-room — the latter a 
tall, graceful, pretty brunette, becomingly gowned 
in a silver-gray traveling suit of stylish cut and 
finish, and a jaunty gray hat to match. She 
stood near the open doorway, her face full of the 
glow of anticipation, talking in an animated 
way but with great ease and simplicity to Dr. 
Seaton, the handsome and popular young phy- 
sician associated with Dr. Leslie in his practice. 

She gave the Leslie party a smiling glance of 
recognition when they entered the waiting-room, 
and presently, after exchanging a few words 



34 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

with some acquaintances standing near, she and 
Dr. Seaton crossed the room to Dr. LesUe, Carl 
and Mrs. Grayson, spoke very cordially to them, 
and included themselves in their party. 

The railway journey, full of novelty and in- 
terest, as all such journeys generally are, was, 
however, a rather uneventful one. At Washing- 
ton City, Cecil Brian joined them, meeting Carl 
with the cheery salutation, ' ' Well ! here we are ; 
and I'm glad to see a familiar face! " 

As he took the seat next to Carl, Miss Leary 
noted his easy, well-bred manner, and but for 
the unusual pallor which seemed never to leave 
his face, she would have thought him handsome. 
They were about as unlike as two men could be, 
in outward appearance, at least. Carl Grayson, 
with his laughing blue eyes — or were they gray ? 
— ^fair hair, broad, high forehead, straight well- 
cut nose and firm -set, handsome mouth, showed 
him a man upon whom opportunities had been 
showered. 

Cecil Brian, with his low, musical voice, ten- 
der, dreamy eyes, dark silky hair and nervously 
expressive mouth, was just the picture her fancy 
had already evoked of this artist friend, of 
whom she had frequently heard Carl speak so 
warmly. She believed he was a man who cared 
for nothing but the idol of his life — his Art ! She 
was quite sure that she should not like him. But 
as she sat watching him, with true womanly 
perversity she found herself assuming a deeper 
interest in him, and it was while she was tacitly 
constructing episodes of interest in their coming 
sea- voyage, in which the artist was the central 
figure and played a conspicuous part, that they 
reached Jersey City, just as the twilight was 
filming the air. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 35 

Myriads of dazzling lights seemed to hang, like 
suspended stars, just out of reach, while they 
flung their broken glow over the circling, shad- 
owy waters. In the midst of the turmoil and 
crowding and pushing to and fro. they crossed 
the ferry, took cabs and were driven directly to 
the St. Denis, that popular hotel far down town, 
where Dr. Leslie had arranged to meet the Glen- 
woods and Ruth — and, too, where they could 
avail themselves of certain delightful privileges 
to be found there, such as the traveler so much 
appreciates when absent from the familiar at- 
mosphere of home. 

In fact, Mrs. Grayson declared that she didn't 
believe she could ever feel half so much at home 
anywhere else in the city; and Miss Leary's en- 
thusiastic greeting on first meeting her in the 
parlor, several hours after they had taken posses- 
sion of their comfortable quarters, was simply 
an echo of Mrs. Grayson's unexpressed verdict : 
" Isn't the charm and coziness here delightfully 
homelike ? ' ' 

Indeed, this peculiar charm of which Miss 
Leary spoke is one that a person recognizes at 
once wherever it exists, for it seems to pervade 
the very air one breathes and produces a sense 
of quiet content and restfulness. 

Dr. Leslie ascertained soon after their arrival 
that the Glenwoods had not yet come, but the 
proprietor informed him that he had been noti- 
fied to reserve rooms, and these he should hold 
subject to their order till he heard further from 
them. 

The next day Dr. Leslie and Mrs. Grayson 
went to see Carl and the Leary party off on the 
Germanic. 



36 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 



CHAPTER IV. 

When Dr. Leslie and Mrs. Grayson returned 
to the hotel, Mrs. Grayson went at once to hei- 
room. She felt that she must be alone, her heart 
ached so. 

" I shall come for you at six o'clock to go to 
dinner, and I hope you will be feeling better by 
then, ' ' said her brother. 

The dining-room was alive with bright faces 
and gay, subdued chatter when they entered, and 
from the table where the waiter had seated them 
they could observe persons coming and going, 
see many of the occupants about them, and at 
the same time note the beautiful and artistic 
effects of this changing panorama in the mag- 
nificent Colonial room. 

The soft-footed waiters seemed to move to the 
musical tinkle of the bright crystal and china, 
and when the one who served them solicitously 
handed Mrs. Grayson a menu card and she had 
made out her order, her attention was attracted 
to a group of four persons — ^an elderly lady and 
gentleman and two girls, apparently about the 
same age, sitting at a table diagonally across 
from her, with several tables intervening. 

The elderly couple had their backs to her, but 
the two girls who sat opposite them were facing 
her. From their dress and general bearing they 
were evidently people of culture and recognized 
distinction. As she observed them more closely, 
she started perceptibly, for some indefinable ex- 
pression, vague at first, in the delicate, aristo- 
cratic face of the young girl with the lovely blue 
eyes and blonde hair was strangely familiar to 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 37 

her, and she struggled with her memory to re- 
call an earlier acquaintance, if it had existed. 
But like a shadowy reminiscence, struggling to 
take definite form, it evaded her, and at last 
wearied with the torturing effort to coerce mem- 
ory to acknowledge the recognition, she tried to 
turn away from it, when suddenly like a flash — 
a revelation — it came to her wherein the famil- 
iarity was suggestive. 

" Ralph," she said in a low tone, " I wonder 
who those people are at the table across from 
us ? There is something in the features of the 
girl with fair hair and blue eyes that reminds 
me very much of Carl. Look; don't you think 
so? 

" Why, Helen, how absurd j It is simply be- 
cause you are thinking of Carl that you fancy 
you see a likeness — that is all. 

Dr. Leslie had lowered his voice in imitation 
of his sister, and followed the direction of her 
eyes as she glanced across the room. Presently 
his eyes came back to his plate, and he said with 
much earnestness: 

" I believe you are right, Helen, there is un- 
mistakably a resemblance." Then, after a mo- 
ment's pause, he added, " Perhaps they are the 
people we are expecting to meet here — oar cous- 
ins." 

' ' Who, the Glenwoods ? ' ' asked Mrs. Grayson 
in surprise, raising her eyebrows. 

"Yes, the Glenwoods," echoed Dr. Leslie, 
suddenly growing abstracted. 

Mrs. Grayson shook her head. "I hardly 
think so." 

" Well, we shall soon have an opportunity to 
find out," her brother returned. Then glancing 



38 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

at her plate, he asked: " Why don't you eat 
something ? You are merely trifling with your 
food. I was in hopes when you came down 
you would enjoy your dinner, but you've scarcely 
done more than taste one or two dishes." 

''It's no use, Ralph, I can't eat, so I'll not keep 
up a pretence of doing so," she said, pushing her 
plate away. There was a brief pause, then she 
added with a faint smile, "I'm glad to see that 
you can do justice to your dinner, even if I can't 
to mine." 

Her eyes wandered across the room again to 
the girl with the clear, rose-tinted complexion, 
who fascinated her. She was indeed very pretty, 
and as she talked to the elderly lady confronting 
her — who seemed tio listen very patiently — the 
lips wreathed in smiles and the bright eyes flash- 
ing, there was a gay grace and charm about her 
highly prepossessing, and Mrs. Grayson thought 
the resemblance to Carl became every moment 
more apparent. 

Presently she turned to her brother: " Ralph, 
I am quite convinced now that these people are 
the Glen woods; and the girl I think so much 
like Carl, is Agnes, their daughter. It must 
be," Mrs. Grayson said slowly and with deep 
emphasis. 

"' But where is the child — Ruth Arnold I 
mean ? ' ' asked Dr. Leslie curiously, at the same 
time helping himself to a dish whose delicious 
flavor was temptingly appetizing. 

"Yes, where is she, sure enough?" she re- 
peated with a puzzled look, and knitting her 
brows. The next moment her eyes widened in- 
voluntarily, and she said almost in a breathless 
whisper, " Unless — yes — I do believe it — that 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 39 

the girl in black, with the sad, sweet face must 
be she. She is beautiful, too. We've been think- 
ing of her all along as a mere child — simply our 
own supposition — and she is not at all. ' ' Mrs. 
Grayson spoke with earnest conviction, as 
though she had suddenly received a prophetic 
clue. 

Dr. Leslie did not leply, but there was a puz- 
zled look on his face as the truth began to dawn 
upon him, and yet it seemed almost impossible 
for him to believe that the fair, beautiful girl 
could be the little Ruth he had promised to be- 
friend — the little Ruth he had to come to New 
York to meet. It seemed queer to him, too, that 
he was to act the part of guardian to that girl. 

He looked across the room and covertly and 
keenly studied the fair, sweet face. She was 
very beautiful, as Mrs. Grayson had said. 

The eyes were large and luminous and appeal- 
ing; eyes that seemed to hold a mystery in their 
fathomless depths, and were calm almost to sad- 
ness even when she smiled — even " as the mist 
resembles the rain," and shaded by long sweep- 
ing lashes several shades darker than the care- 
less curls of golden brown hair which waved 
upon her high, broad forehead. The tremulous 
mouth was exquisite, and when she smiled there 
was a pathetic sadness about the rosy lips that 
enhanced their charm. The throat and neck 
were of milky whiteness, and their perfect poise 
as graceful as the swan's. 

While he was observing her the group arose 
from the table, and the elderly couple followed 
by the two girls moved toward the elevator in 
the hall. Dr. Leslie continued to regard the lit- 
tle figure in black, for he was quite satisfied now 



40 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

that the girl was Ruth, his ward, as he had rec- 
ognized the elderly gentleman and lady as Mr. 
and Mrs. Glenwood when they got up from the 
table, though both were greatly changed. 

He observed, too, that the girl was of medium 
height and very graceful, the black dress fitting 
to perfection every curve and line of her willowy 
figure, which was of faultless symmetry. He 
wondered no longer why her father spoke of her 
as ' ' Little Ruth. ' ' There was a daintiness and 
charm about her which suggested the diminutive 
phrase. 

" Of course we must send up our cards at 
once, ° ' said Mrs. Grayson, as she and her brother 
moved away from the table. " Ella Glenwood 
is so changed I scarcely recognized her, and 
George, too. looks much older than I expected to 
see him.^' 

" Certainly he looks older than when you saw 
him last. You must recollect it has been some 
years since we left them in California,'' he said, 
smiling indulgently. 

They had reached the elevator and stood wait- 
ing for it to descend. " Wait here a moment 
please, Helen,"' said Dr. Leslie, and he turned 
suddenly away and she lost sight of him in the 
circling crowd. In a few minutes he came back, 
smiling. " I've been to the office to look at the 
register and to make sure of our conjectures 
about the girl dressed in black. She is Ruth 
Arnold!" 

"Why, didn't I tell you so'?'* asked Mrs. 
Grayson with a touch of gentle reproach in her 
tone. 

"That's very true," he responded calmly, 
*' but in this instance I thought it was best to 
make assurance doubly sure. ' ' 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 41 



ii 



Yes, I suppose so, ' ' she assented absently. 

They had entered the elevator and were swiftly 
approaching the floor upon which their apart- 
ments were located. Before getting out, Dr. 
Leslie handed the elevator boy two cards, and 
instructed him what to do with them. 

Half way down the corridor to their rooms, 
Dr. Leslie chanced to meet an old acquaintance; 
and loitering a few minutes to talk with him, 
finally joined his sister, who had passed on and 
waited for him, and he walked with her to her 
room. 

While waiting for an answer to their cards, 
Mrs. Grayson filled up the interval making some 
trifling changes in her toilet, and presently a 
knock at her door made her start and turn. It 
was her brother, however, who occupied the 
room adjoining her own. 

' ' Helen, the messenger boy brought this to 
my room, but it is for you, ' ' he said, handing 
her a card. 

'•Thank you.'' She took the bit of square 
card-board, upon which was penciled in a ner- 
vous, effeminate hand these lines, which she 
read aloud : ' ' Dear Helen : We shall be pleased 
to meet you both in the hotel parlor, where we 
await your coming. Truly your cousin, Ella 
Glenwood. ' ' 

Mrs. Grayson was silent a moment, absently 
scanning the card. 

"AVell?" Dr. Leslie asked. 

" Of course we'll go down at once. It seems 
almost like meeting total strangers ; it has been 
so long since we parted with them," said Mrs. 
Grayson. She picked up her fan from the table, 
gave a hurried glance at the mirror, then turned 
4 



42 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

and accompanied him, feeling somewhat nervous 
as they descended to the parlor. 

Mrs. Glen wood, a tall, stately-looking woman, 
with black hair and eyes and a rather dull com- 
plexion, was sitting on a divan reading, apart 
from Mr. Grlenwood and the girls; she arose at 
their entrance, gave them a glance of searching- 
scrutiny, then took off her glasses and came 
rustling forward to meet them with that con- 
scious air of possession characteristic of irre- 
proachable ancestry. 

The habitual haughty expression on the face 
of the proud, ambitious woman softened, and 
her polished reserve relaxed into something like 
cordiality as she greeted them. 

' ' Ah ! this is indeed a pleasure, ' ' she said, ex- 
tending her hand, and kissing Mrs. Grayson, 
who returned her kiss and embrace; and then 
she gave a friendly hand to Dr. Leslie, who 
bowed gracefully over it. '• You are so little 
altered. Cousin Ralph, since we last met," she 
went on, looking steadily at him, " I believe I 
should have recognized yoa almost anywhere 
without a previous knowledge of your presence. 
Time has indeed been lenient with you." 

He inclined his head, smiling, in recognition 
of this civil observation. 

" When did you arrive in New York?" she 
asked, transferring her glance from one to the 
other, as she toyed with her glasses. 

" Tuesday evening, and we expected to have 
found you here, ' " said Dr. Leslie. 

Her reply was prevented by Mr. Glenwood 
and the young ladies coming forward at that 
moment, and when the former had exchanged 
very hearty greetings with Mrs. Grayson and 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 4B 

Dr. Leslie, Mrs. Glenwood turned to the girls, 
who stood waiting to be presented. She looked 
suggestively toward Ruth, and with a gentle 
wave of her hand she said, turning to Dr. Lsslie: 

•' This is Miss Arnold, your ward, Dr. Leslie; 
and I assure you it gives me very much pleasure 
to confide so dear a charge to your guardian- 
ship; and this is Mrs. Grayson," she added, pre- 
senting Ruth to her in turn. 

Dr. Leslie stepped forward and with chivalric 
grace and courtesy took the timidly outstretched 
hand, clasping it warmly in his own. 

Then Mrs. Grayson, with an air of motherly 
dignity, approached and kissed her very ten- 
derly on either cheek, warmly pressed her hand, 
and uttered in a low, sweet voice the kindest 
of greetings and welcome. 

There was a conscious feeling of relief to 
everyone present when this introduction was 
over; but Mrs. Glenwood was too thoroughly 
skilled in the strict conventionalities of polite 
society, and possessed too much tact, not to be 
able to prevent an awkward pause or an awk- 
ward speech after this embarrassing interview 
had ended. Laying her jewelled hand on Agnes' 
arm, she gently pressed her forward. 

'' Let me present to you our daughter Agnes. " 
In the prettiest and most becoming of summer 
travehng toilets, garnished with a small cluster 
of cream roses which she had fastened in her 
belt, and the bright flush and changmg hght 
coming and going over her pretty face, she ad- 
vanced gracefully first to Mrs. Grayson, and in 
a manner characteristic of herself, embraced her 
with effusion, adding as she still clasped her 
hand, " I've heard mamma speak of you so 



44 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

often, Cousin Helen, that I've never regarded 
you as a stranger, so I cannot meet you as one 
now." 

"Thank you, Agnes," responded Mrs. Grayson, 
who had returned her caresses as warmly as they 
had been given. "It is very pleasant, I assure 
you, to be so kindly remembered. Your mother 
and I were classmates when we were not quite 
so old as you are now, and I often recur to those 
happy days with a great deal of pleasure." 

To her cousin Ralph Agnes gave a different 
welcome, though none the less frank and cordial. 
Dr. Leslie met her very graciously, paying her 
some gallant, graceful compliment which sent 
the crimson tide surging in her lovely face. By 
his impulse they had moved to a group of chairs 
in a corner of the room, and now seated them- 
selves. 

Ruth sat beside Mrs. Grayson, apparently lis- 
tening to the conversation, but inwardly feeling 
no inclination to join in or even contribute to it. 
At times she stole furtive glances at her guar- 
dian as he conversed with Mrs. Glenwood, 
making various and minute inquiries concerning 
his old friends in California. She saw that he 
was handsome in face and figure, and while he 
was not young, yet he certainly was not elderly. 

She had expected to see a much older man, 
with gray hair, perhaps, and at least a sugges- 
tion of wrinkles, and she was surprised when she 
saw neither. Presently, during a brief lapse in 
the conversation, he turned and looked at her as 
if conscious of her covert glances. 

Before he spoke, he wavered a moment 
whether to address her conventionally by her 
surname, or more familiarly as "Miss Ruth." 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 45 

Evidently he thought better of the latter formula, 
for when he presently turned to her and asked : 

" Miss Ruth, have you ever visited the 
South?" it sounded easy and natural, and she 
returned with unconsious grace the answer : 

" Oh, yes; but it was when I was quite a lit- 
tle girl. I spent one winter in St. Augustine, 
Florida, with papa and mamma, but I do not 
recollect very much about the place or the peo- 
ple. I do remember, however, that it was a 
very quaint old town ; but its antiquity was re- 
spectable and dignified even in its fading glory, 
and its picturesque situation and surroundings, 
its unique history and achievements, as also its 
pure air and water, had a peculiar charm for me. 
That is about the extent of my personal knowl- 
edge and recollection of the South. ' ' 

The sweet voice was a little unsteady when 
she alluded to her parents, and it grew more 
soft and reverential as she went on : 

" Papa always spoke with such fond admira- 
tion of North Carolina that I am quite prepared 
to love his native State very much for his sake, 
if for no other reason, ' ' 

" Cousin Ealph, I think you'll find in Ruth 
an easy proselyte, and I dare say in less than 
six months after she's been in North Carolina 
she'll be as disloyal to California as though she 
had never hved there," laughed Agnes, affect- 
ing a look of rebuke at Ruth and playfully tap • 
ping her on the hand ^ith her fan. 

" Oh, no, I don't think so," returned Dr. Les- 
he quietly. ''In the first place, no influence 
will be brought to bear upon her to test her loy- 
alty in that direction ; and in the second place, 
I think that State pride as well as the love of 



46 UNDKR GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

birthplace is so deeply implanted in every true 
breast that no transplanting to an alien soil or 
atmosphere, however favoring the conditions, can 
ever uproot that virgin affection for them which 
clusters so closely about the human heart. A 
person often, and rightly, too, forms a very 
strong and deep attachment for the State of his 
adoption; but it is a sort of stepmother affec- 
tion, so to speak, and can never supersede, in 
my opinion, that genuine mother love that is 
born within him — that love which causes his 
heart to swell with pride and his pulse to thrill 
with joy whenever her praises are sounded; and. 
when abroad and asked by strangers from 
whence he came, he feels an honest pride in 
acknowledging the place of his birth^nd in pre- 
senting his State as a model for the imitation of 
others. * ' 

' ' True, very true, indeed, ' ' interposed Mr. 
Glenwood warmly. " While you were talking, 
those lines of the satirist, happily illustrating 
one's disloyalty to his own State and country, 
occurred to me. I read them when a school- 
boy, and I recollect how forcibly they struck me 
then. How do they run?'' Mr. Glenwood 
touched his fingers meditatively to his forehead, 
' ' Ah, yes, something like this : 

" ' The steady ijatriots of the world alone, 

The friends of every country but their own.' 

" Now, I will admit," he continued, ' 'while 
I love California and think she is a grand and 
magnificent country, yet deep down in my 
heart I believe I love the Old North State bet- 
ter." 

" Oh, of course you do," returned Dr. Leslie, 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 47 

with a beaming smile; " and as a North Caro- 
Hnian I am pleased to hear you say so. Now, 
my experience and observation have been," he 
went on, " that as association expands the scope 
of affection, this feeling extends to the social 
systems around us, and is gradually enlarged 
until it comprises within its devotion the entire 
government of the country we inhabit. As one 
of my distinguished countrymen has truthfully 
said, ' No Government has ever retained the alle- 
giance of its citizens where this sentiment has 
languished, and no country has flourished where 
it was not taught as a principle, cherished as a 
passion, and made subordinate only to religion, 
in the ardor with which it glowed in the bosom 
of the people. ' * ' 

' ' How about your schools and State debt ? ' ' 
Mr. Glenwood asked, after a little pause ; ' ' and 
how has the population grown, or increased from 
immigration ? * ' 

' ' Well, since the rescue of the State from the ' 
tempest of profligacy that swept over it after the 
war, taxes have steadily diminished, and the 
schools have increased until they offer education 
to every child in the Commonwealth, regardless 
of color. With regard to debt, there is less State 
and individual debt than at any time in the last 
century. 

" The State's legitimate debt is steadily re- 
duced, her treasury has a large surplus, her hu- 
mane institutions, conducted with equal care and 
outlay for both races, are monuments of credit; 
her public improvements have kept pace with 
the growing wants of her people ; her authority 
reflects the pride of the State in its stainless in- 
tegrity, and thrift and content are the common 



48 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

blessings of her people. As to immigration, 
North Carolina has fewer foreigners and a more 
completely homogeneous population than any 
other State in the Union. 

" In fact, she is now singular from the other 
reconstructed States in having attained, solely 
by the efforts of her own people, a higher degree 
of general prosperity than she ever before at- 
tained in her history; and to-day, has a more 
prosperous and thrifty people than at an}^ period 
of the past. But we are glad to have good, sub- 
stantial people come among us, and we cheer- 
fully extend to them the hand of fellowship. 
We can offer them many splendid inducements. ' ' 

Mr. Glenwood laughed and rubbed his hands 
together. ''That's right; offer your induce- 
ments, and they'll come. ' Change * is the word. 
It seems that in this day and time the majority 
seem to believe that change is the touchstone to 
success. Why this spirit of restlessness, I do not 
know, unless it is that people like to go out into 
the world, if for no other reason than to enjoy 
the surprises of antipodal existence. They 
seem eager for the rigors of chance and change, 
and sometimes make a move, I suppose for the 
fun of the thing. In this era of large things 
we live an age in a day. Such a thing as well- 
ordered leisure and permanency of residence are 
practically unknown, except in very rare in- 
stances. 

" It is a mad whirl, but it is the century — the 
Nineteenth Century — and we must live in it 
and master it if we are to move on at all. True, 
the wear and tear are frightful, but it seems in- 
evitable, " 

In the pause that followed, Agnes turned and 



IX THE NEW ELDORADO. 49 

said something to Ruth in a low tone, but Dr. 
Leshe caught the sound of his own name, and 
bowing to her asked laughingly : 

" What is it. Agnes'?" 

"Oh, I merely remarked to Ruth." she said 
laughing, ''that I verily believe that you con- 
sider it your particular duty to make }'Ourself 
as agreeable as possible to a North Carolinian 
whenever you meet one, as a part of the debt 
you owe the State. 

There was a general laugh, in which Dr. Les- 
lie joined and seemed to enjoy more than the 
others, and while he was talking to Agnes, Mrs. 
Glenwood, fearing that the conversation would 
presently drift back to the discussion of the 
same old topic, or possibly into a lively review 
of labor and social problems, which themselves, 
however popular, were extremely tiresome to 
her, now tactfully changed the conversation. 

Just then an occasion was furnished for doing 
so. It was very close and warm, but she had 
neglected to bring her fan with her when she 
came down from her room after dinner. Mrs. 
Grayson generously offered her cousin the use 
of her own. 

" Thanks; but don't let me deprive you, 
Helen;" and on Mrs. Grayson's protesting that 
she did not, Mrs. Glen wood turned to Agnes: 

" Ah, this reminds me, my dear," looking at 
the fan, " that I must look in at Denning's be- 
fore we leave the city to-morrow and get the 
fan you wanted to match one of your evening 
silks. Don't let me forget it. Do you know 
which shade it is ? " 

Agnes looked down, and for a moment vigor- 
ously tugged at something in her belt. 



50 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

" There I^Just as near the shade of this ex- 
quisite beauty as you can match it," she said 
airily, holding up a large, half-blown creamy 
rose, tinted with the bare suggestion of pink; 
and then she leaned forward and made a motion 
of fastening it on the bosom of her cousin Hel- 
en's dress. 

" No, no, dear," quickly objected Mrs. Gray- 
son, as she put up her hand to arrest x^gnes' 
purpose. " I never wear flowers— that is, such 
a showy one as this. Sometimes I wear a little 
bunch of pansies or daisies. You keep it, dear. 
There is no ornament half so pretty for young 
girls as flowers, I think." 

Agnes took the rose away with a laugh of 
affected reluctance. * ' Well, yc u may have it 
any way, Cousin Helen," she persisted, laying 
it in her lap. 

' ' Thank you, ' ' Mrs. Grayson said, smiling. 
She picked up the rose and continued to Mrs. 
Glen wood, " I should think it would be very 
difficult to match these delicately blended tints, 
and I hardly think you will be able to do it. 
However, it may be — "she broke off suddenly 
and looked up inquiringly. 

The gentlemen had risen from their seats and 
stood before them, and Dr. Leslie was saying 
to Mr. Glenwood in answer to his query; 

' ' Yes, we leave for the South quite early in 
the morning." 

" And I feel strongly tempted, Cousin Ralph, 
to forego the pleasure of my summer outing to 
Lennox and Newport, and go South with you, ' ' 
Agnes interposed archly, brilliantly smiling. 
She turned to Ruth. ' ' It will be so hard to give 
you up. darling," in recognition of their early 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 51 

separation, "and I can't tell you how much I 
shall miss you/' 

The girls rose involuntarily, and then Mrs. 
Glenwood and Mrs. Grayson, the former adjust- 
ing her glasses. 

Thereupon Dr. Leslie and Mrs. Grayson put 
in a hospitable entreat}'' for Agnes to accompany 
them South, at the same time including Mr. 
and Mrs. Glenwood, and politely urging the ac- 
ceptance of the invitation. After declining with 
regret and thanks, Mr. Glenwood said : 

" In all probability we shall not return home 
before September; but before we do, I hope we 
shall have the pleasure of seeiag you at your 
home in North Carolina. Nothing would give 
me more pleasure than to visit my old home 
place and former friends — or those who are still 
living in your city." 

" Not more pleased than we shall be to have 
you come, and your friends to see you, I assure 
you," Mrs. Grayson said as she shook him 
warmly by the hand. *' I say good-bye, now," 
she added, " for fear I shall not see you again 
before we leave. We make an early start, and 
Ruth — " Mrs. Grayson paused as she turned to 
her — it was the first time she had addressed her 
by her Christian name, " you, too, would better 
bid Mr. Glenwood good-bye now." 

When the adieux were over, and the gentle- 
men had left the room, Mrs. Glenwood and Mrs. 
Grayson resumed their seats and began discuss- 
ing various topics of interest — especially to Mrs. 
Glenwood. 

Agnes and Ruth moved to the window, Agnes 
doing most of the talking and Ruth listening, 
while her dreamy eyes followed the hundreds of 



52 UNDER GOLDEW SKIES; OR, 

pedestrians troopiDg up and down Broadway, 
though her thoughts were not upon them. 
More than once she turned and glanced at Mrs. 
Glenwood and Mrs. Grayson, as though men- 
tally comparing the tw^o women. 

Mrs. Glenwood, consummate woman of the 
world as she was, and inordinately sensible of 
hef own importance, was so engrossed with her 
social duties and the frivolous pleasures of the 
world, as to leave her small leisure' for little else 
besides her particular sphere. Cold by nature, 
self-contained and ambitious, there was a chilli- 
ness about her that made her repellant rather 
than attractive; and even her well-trained, low, 
modulated voice and laugh had an unpleasant, 
metallic ring, and when she was irritated, cut 
like a stiletto and jarred painfully upon the 
nerves. There was never any heart-warmth in 
it. Hating poverty and its concomitant sacri- 
fices, she had married rich — enormously rich — 
and now unstintedh' indulged herself in all the 
pleasures and luxuries that her husband's money 
could purchase. Her ambition Vv'as not to equal, 
but to excel others in making a display with her 
riches. Still, cold and proud and haughty as 
she was, there was one human being that Mrs. 
Glenwood devotedly loved- — one object that ten- 
dered her heart, and kept up a fountain of warmth 
in her frigid nature — and that object was Agnes, 
her only child. 

M^'S. Grayson wondered that the girl's head 
was not turned ; wondered that she, too. was not 
selfish, disdainful, cold and proud. But as yet 
she was unspoiled by the frivolities of the world, 
and was sincere, kind and true. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 53 



CHAPTER V. 

The old Moravian town, Salem, in North Car- 
olina, early became famous not only as a center 
of missionary work, but as a seat of learning; 
and the early history, traditions and heroical 
memories of her brave and peace loving people 
who wrought and suif ered amidst the struggles, 
privations and hardships which encompassed 
them, and their brave endurance, are often re- 
counted, and are invested with a peculiar interest 
and pathos that the recital of the story never 
diminishes nor lessens its fascinating charm. 

In those days of early history she was " a 
world in epitome, a civilization in little, an up- 
ward development of a single co-operative 
family," who had wrested from almost barbaric 
wastes the best treasures which make for peace, 
plenty and prosperity. 

But, in later years, when geographically linked 
to a younger city, and the very names became 
hyphened together, she bravely clung to her in- 
dividual existence — when it seemed that an 
effort was being made to cover her identity — 
and disputed inch by inch the levelling of her an- 
cient landmarks ; and while no longer, perhaps, 
the unique town described by the observers of 
the past, still under her modernized and bright- 
ened appearance she preserves certain of her first 
cnaracteristics which time nor chance has yet 
effaced ; and, notwithstanding the inevitable 
changes and revolutions in manners and customs 
which from time to time have taken place, her 
admirers cling to the hope, even as the gradual 
evolution goes on, that the old historic town 



54 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

may ever retain her personality, never break 
with the traditions of her past, and always pre- 
serve a remnant, at least, of the splendors once 
all her own. 

Rejuvenated and supported on one side by her 
active, bustling, hard-working sister city. Win- 
ston, where handsome fortunes are made by her 
energetic citizens, and which frequently frater- 
nizes with her in the most amicable manner with- 
out taking from her her individuality, she is just 
as cultured, modest, frank and hospitable lo-day 
as she has ever been in the past, knowing how to 
attract to herself the best elements of her neigh- 
bors, and give to them her own in exchange; 
and though her number of inhabitants be not so 
large, still she is great by reason of her inteUec- 
tual force and moral value. 

It was here in this quaint old town that Miss 
Rachel Leslie claimed the distinction of resi- 
dence, preferring the sweet seclusion and con- 
servatism of the old Moravian town to the bust- 
ling activity and cosmopolitanism of the "new 
town," so called. Miss RachePs home was just 
the spot for a person of her modest tastes and 
retiring nature. 

The warm day was near its close by the time 
Miss Rachel was through with the momentous 
task of overhauling and setting the Leslie house 
in order, and looking after the various details of 
domestic duties which Mrs. Grayson had asked 
her to attend to on the day she left tor New 
York. 

As she stood locking the front door, Nellie 
and Bruce romped noisily up and down the long- 
veranda, enjoying themselves immensely, and 
pa,ying no heed whatever to Miss Rachel's oft 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 55 

repeated command to keep quiet or go out ou 
the lawn to play. 

"■ Well, I'm through at last, and I beheve the 
sun will be down before I get home," said Miss 
Rachel to herself, wrenching the key out of the 
lock and dropping it into the black silk hand- 
bag which she carried upon her arm. 

They took their way through the various 
streets, turning first into one and then another ; 
the evening breeze rose, stirred the leaves, and 
bathed the city in a delicious freshness. Along 
the horizon where the sun was westering, slo5\'- 
moving clouds in purple and palest green blended 
together, then crinkled into a broad banner 
which lay for a moment outspread against a 
luminous background of crimson and gold. 

As they passed along the Court House Square, 
a row of jolly, careless negro boys, picturesque 
in their raggedness, was perched upon the ter- 
raced parapet, whistling a merry factory song- 
while they beat time to the tune with their 
bare brown legs dangling against the high brick 
wall. Nellie lingered a moment to listen, 
laughed good-naturedly at the queer antics of 
the little darkies, then ran forward to overtake 
her aunt, who had stopped abruptly in front of 
the First National Bank, and stood peering from 
right to left. Then she turned and rapidly re- 
traced her steps a quarter of a square, waving 
little Nellie back with a motion of her hand when 
she made a motion to follow her. Nellie was not 
over-burdened with shyness, so she stood on the 
pavement and watched the people as they drove 
past or walked hurriedly by, peeped delightedly 
into the handsome show-window at the big bis- 
que dolls spinning franticalh'' around on some 



56 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

ingenious contrivance arranged to display the 
fancy notions which the store contained; and at 
length glanced up admiringly at the beautiful and 
richly carven front of the building. She was 
so absorbed in her curious inspection that she 
failed to hear Miss Eachel's soft tread, and not 
until she had touched her on the shoulder and 
called her by name was she aware of her aunt's 
presence. Nellie gave one more imploring look 
at the whirling dolls as she turned and folloM-ed 
her aunt, who now quickened her pace till they 
reached Main Street, a thoroughfare which was 
ahve with the turmoil and life of the busy, ur- 
gent city. 

Here, Miss Rachel glanced toward the west. 
The sunset was slowly paling, and the length- 
ened shadows of the houses on the pavement 
were fast disappearing. Although it was not 
yet dark, here and there an electric jet flared up 
in some of the pretty stores which lined the 
streets. 

As they walked down the broad sidewalk, 
bordered on one side by tail elms, Nellie con- 
tinued to ask all sorts of questions about the 
people they met and some of the old buildings 
they passed — for they had now crossed First 
Street and were in the old Moravian town — and 
listened attentively while Miss Rachel answered 
her inquiries. 

Even a stranger readily noted the change im- 
mediately from one town to the other, for the 
variety and architecture of the residences and 
other buildings were different here, and there 
seemed to be something, too, in the quiet and 
serenity of the very atmosphere different from 
the noisy city they had left behind. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 57 

Occasionally Miss Rachel would let her eyes 
wander up and down the fronts of the houses 
they passed, for Nellie's artless questioning had 
awakened a long train of thought with many 
strong yearnings, and carried her dimly hack 
with the things and the people of the past. 
' "■ How curiously our lives are linked together, ' ' 
she presently said, half aloud. 

" What did you say. Aunt Rachel?" NeUie 
asked, looking up at her with curious eyes. 

' ' Oh, nothing, child ; T was only thinking, ' ' 
Miss Rachel answered. But there was an uncon- 
scious grievous pain expressed in her voice, and 
she smiled faintly. 

On every side the light, graceful draperies of 
vines which were so general, and the numerous 
flower boxes, little balconies and windows filled 
with pots and stone vases of flowering plants, 
made the most commonplace house look charm- 
ing. The tall white marguerites, pink and 
white geraniums, masses of blue- eyed lobelias, 
dvv'^arf nasturtiums, and other well-known flow- 
ers, filled and overran their receptacles, while 
the maderia amongst gleaming leaves showed a 
constant cascade of bloom, and managed to 
keep in a perpetually decorative condition the 
soft green fringes of creepers swaying gently in 
the breeze and adding fresh beauty to the blos- 
soms. It seemed that all the available space for 
flowers had been utilized, with the result that it 
gave to the city a cool and sylvan appearance, 
and made a beautiful picture of ease and com- 
fort. 

Presently Nellie and Bruce darted on in front, 
turning here and there, showing perfect famili- 



58 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

arity with their surroundings, and NeUie's face 
was radiant with excitement. 

When she had reached the entrance to a nar- 
row street off from the main thoroughfare, she 
stood waiting for her aunt. 

Her hat was pushed back from her flushed 
face, and a tress of her golden hair had escaped 
from the ribbon which confined it, and curled 
caressingly round her white throat. Just before 
her aunt reached her, she turned and suddenly 
called out a gay good-bye to her and then ran has- 
tily after Bruce towards the house. 

The old-fashioned residence was a wooden 
structure and stood on a little side street, a short 
distance back from the Main Street which ran 
straight as an arrow-line through the two towns, 
and was traversed its full length by the electric 
railway. 

The house was a pretty picture with its lo\r 
gabled roof, up and over which the roses clam- 
bered, flaunting their crimson banners from the 
very chimney -tops, and its small shuttered win- 
dows with their snowy draperies. A small gabled 
porch jutted out over the front door, and around 
the latticed pillars ivy and wisteria twined the n- 
selves lovingly together and gently crept up the 
gray sides of the old house. The clean-swept, 
graveled walk leading to the gate was thickly 
fringed with purple sweet-scented violets, and 
over the picket fence enclosing the yard, near 
the little front gate, an English honeysuckle 
flung its wealth of foliage and fragrance, 
amongst which the busy bees buzzed drowsily. 
The mock orange and spirea bushes disposed 
about the yard, and which had whitened in their 
springtide flowerage, had loosened their pearly 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 5^ 

petals and the frolicsome winds had sent 
them careering far and wide. On the left of 
the house stood a tall elm — paralytic on one 
side — which threw a wide circumference of 
shade, leaving the rest of the greensward sun- 
bathed on a sunny day. In the rear was the 
vegetable and flower garden, which was Miss 
EachePs special delight. It was a perfect con- 
servatory of fruits and vegetables for service, 
and flowers for sacrifice. Roses, priiaroses and 
violets were her favorites, and there were others, 
old-fashioned garden flowers which she cher- 
ished like old friends; flowers around which 
clung delightful memories and rich with the 
associations of by-gone days. 

When Miss Rachel reached the house she found 
Nellie sitting on the door-step, her head thrown 
back against one of the vine -wreathed pillars, 
looking very warm and tired, and fanning herself 
with her large straw hat. Hearing her aunt's 
slow, soft step, she looked up wearily. 

" Oh. Aunt Rachel, I'm too tired for anything, 
and I believe I was almost asleep,"' said Nellie, 
yawning, and struggling to her feet. She spoke 
lightly, but her aunt looked at her attentively, 
without appearing to study her face. She was 
very pale now and there was a peculiar tone in 
her voice, which betrayed great weariness. 

" You've been runinng too much, and the 
warm weather is very trying. Come in, and as 
soon as you get rested, Mary will give you some 
supper, and then you must go straight to bed." 

Miss Rachel led her into her pretty, homelike 
room, that had a peculiarly restful feeling, and 
seated hej' in a great, easy chair, beside an open 
window. 



60 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 



a 



Now, you sit here, child, and Til go and tell 
Mary to bring your supper right away. No need 
for your going to the dining-room if you are so 
tired." 

As Miss Rachel reached the door she stopped 
and looked back, and something in the attitude 
of the child — perhaps it was her perfect helpless- 
ness — strangely touched her. She hesitated a 
moment, with a look of perplexity on her face, 
and stood silently regarding her, then turned and 
passed noiselessly out of the room. Left alone 
in the soft, dreamy twilight, from sheer weari- 
ness, Nellie soon fell fast asleep. 

' ' Poor little thing ! ' * said Miss Rachel, a few 
minutes later, when she returned with Mary, 
bearing Nellie's supper on a small tin tray. " It 
has been a long day for her, and she seems thor- 
oughly worn-out. I'm sorry now I didn't let 
her ride down on the car; the walk was too 
much for her. Take the tray back to the dining- 
room, Mary ; then come and help me get her to 
bed." 

The evening was warm, deliciously fragrant 
with night -scented stocks, and through the open 
window the rays of a young moon, cradled in the 
tree-tops, glanced in a sidelong, shy sort of way 
over the quiet little figure and made her look 
like a vision — a part of the brightness, as she 
calmly slept in the mystical moonlight. 

The clock in the neighboring church tower 
struck three-quarters past eight. Miss Rachel 
felt a curious irritation at the slow solemn strokes 
of the old clock, which it had never made her 
feel before ; and while the expression of annoy- 
ance was still upon her face, Mary came back 
into the room and began to prepare Nellie for 
bed. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 61 

Miss Rachel and Mary talked together iu low, 
repressed voices, so as not to awaken her, but 
Nellie presently roused ap and gazed from one 
to the other with a bewildered, perplexed look, 
then closed her eyes and made a feeble effort to 
shake off Mary's hand. 

"Nellie, Nelhe, " her aunt called, in a kind 
tone, gently pulling her by the shoulder. "Let 
Mary undress you, child, and put you to bed." 
Then, with tender solicitude, Miss Rachel began 
to assist Mary disrobe the little sleeper. 

"Yes — Mamma — I kiss you — Mamma, I say 
my prayers — I am so" — she broke off the inco- 
herent speech, and like one in a dream, she got 
suddenly upon her feet and knelt down, leaning 
against Miss Rachel's knee, and repeated to the 
end her little evening prayer—" Now I lay me 
down to sleep." 

After she had whispered the " Amen," she still 
knelt, while her breathing came soft and regu- 
lar, for she was fast asleep, her head resting in 
her clasped hands upon Miss Rachel's lap. 

Mary stooped and raised the little white-robed 
figure very tenderly in her strong arms, and put 
her upon the small, low bed, which her aunt 
had prepared for her beside her own. 

Being of an eminently practical turn of mind 
herself. Miss Rachel was an early riser: and the 
next morning when she rose she tiptoed about 
the room, dressing as noiselessly as possible, so 
as not to awaken Nellie, and before she withdrew, 
she closed the shutters and drew the curtains, 
darkening the room to a sombre twilight, then 
stepped softly out into the hall. 

But just as she had closed the door behind her, 
Robbie, her canary, caught a glimpse of her in 



02 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

passing, and suddenly burst into a ripple of mel- 
ody, which resounded startiugly loud throughout 
the quiet house. In her anxiety for Nellie's 
comfort, she quickly crossed to where the cage 
hung, amongst the dewy vines on the porch, 
tapped lightly on the wire frame, and called ca- 
ressingly up, "Robbie! Robbie!'" hoping to check 
his exultant trill ; but the bird seemed over-bur- 
dened with song this morning, and responded to 
Miss Rachel's gentle reproof with a fresh out- 
])urst of rapturous melody even louder and more 
joyous than before. 

" Ah, you naughty fellow! " scolded Miss Ra- 
chel, shaking her head and cooing back as she 
left him. 

At that moment she heard Nellie's voice, and 
as she opened the door Nellie started up with a 
glad exclamation of delight, sprang out of bed, 
apparently entirely recovered from the effects of 
her over fatigue the day before, and her little 
face was aglow with happiness and animation. 

" Oh, Aunt Rachel, I heard the fairies singing 
in the rose- vines! Do please help me dress real 
quick, so I can get out to see them. I've always 
so wanted to see some real live fairies, and I 
think there must be lots of them out there." 
Nellie was all in a nervous flutter. 

Her aunt laughed. " Why, Nellie, that was 
Robbie you heard. He has been in a perfect glee 
for the last half hour, and I've been scolding 
him, and trying to make him hush, so you could 
sleep. I never saw him in such a merry mood 
as he is this morning. ' ' 

' ' — h ! ' ' gasped Nellie, in a slow, low-toned 
voice of disappointment, and the next moment 
she was very grave. Then after a little pause, 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 63 

she added, " Well, I dreamt about the fairies 
anyway ; and I guess I heard them, too. ' ' 

' ' That may be, ' ' said her aunt, carefully brush- 
ing out the long tangled curls; " but I scarcely 
think you'll find any fairies in the rose- vines, 
unless butterflies and humming-birds are fairies. " 

" Why, they are not fairies ! "" quickly re- 
sponded Nellie, in a tone of scornful derision. 
"Don't you believe in fairies, Aunt Eachel?' 
She presently asked: " Were'nt there any in 
your young days. ' ' 

" Of course not, and there are none now." 
Nellie's face fell; but she soon recovered her 
happy light-heartedness, told her aunt her dream 
about the sure-enough fairies that she knew 
nothing about ; and as soon as she had finished 
dressing ran out on the porch, threw cooing 
kisses up at Robbie, and with a clap of her lit- 
tle hands and a sudden " Scat! '' sent Tom, her 
aunt's big gray cat, that sat washing his face 
with his cushioned paws, scampering through 
the vines; raced twice around the house with 
Bruce, and finally slipped away from him into 
the dining-room, quite insolvent in the matter 
of breath, where she found Mary, the bright- 
cheeked maid of all- work, dusting the furniture 
as a preliminary to setting the breakfast table. 

Breakfast over, Nellie was on the lookout for 
some way to amuse herself, so she asked her 
aunt if she might take Bruce and go on the 
avenue — not far away — for a walk. 

Nellie remembered the avenue as a most de- 
lightful rendezvous, with nurses and children on 
pleasant days, and wh re throngs of people, both 
old and young, resorted generally on Sabbath 
afternoons to enjoy the beautiful walk, and get 



64 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

a breath of fresh ah' if the day were uncomfor- 
tably warm; for here the atmosphere seemed 
always clear and cool, and then the delicious 
sanctuary quiet of the place was soothing and 
restful even to the most tired and jaded spirit. 

Indeed, this lovely avenue looks like a stray 
bit from some old Cathedral town, with its long 
sweep of exquisite verdure and undulating white 
sanded walk, bordered on either side by venerable 
cedars, whose plumy foliage seems shadowy 
with solemn thoughts, as the wind-rocked boughs 
give out gentle murmurs and low, tremulous 
sighs. 

Here Nellie played and romped for hours with 
the neighbors' children, attended by her faithful 
dog; and she was unfeignedly happy, while she 
forgot how time was passing. Just as she reached 
home the dinner-bell was ringing, and she found 
her aunt in the dining-room, waiting her return. 

After she was dressed and they had dined, she 
went into the garden, picked some flowers and 
made a wreath ; w^hen this amusement ceased to 
divert her, she played with her dolls ; but soon 
got tired of them, and flung them aside, and at 
length fell asleep on the linen-covered lounge, in 
Miss Rachel's neat little sitting-room. When 
Mary woke her at half past four o'clock, to go 
for a promised walk, she bounced up quickly, as 
bright and fresh as though she had never known 
a tired moment in her life. 

" Oh, I am so glad you've come at last! " she 
said, delightedly. '' I'm all ready — all but my 
hat; just let me get it." She ran out in the hall 
for it, and Mary, having her's on already, fol- 
lowed her. 

It was a lovely afternoon and the air was per- 



TN THE NEW ELDORADO. 65 

vaded by the fragi-ance of the flowers in the yard 
and garden. They sauntered out, straight on to 
Main Street, turning down this thoroughfare, on 
which Miss SaUie Bergen hved, the lady Mary 
had promised her they would visit. 

Nellie walked on silently for awhile, hstening 
to the gentle rustle and murmur of the leaves of 
the beautiful old elms which shaded the side- 
pavement, enjoying with perfect content the in- 
finite beauty and sweetness of nature, which 
seemed to tone her spirit in unison with its own, 
and giving herelf up to the enjoyment of it un- 
reservedly. 

' ' Do you think Miss Sallie will let us see her 
birds ? " Nelhe asked, dubiously, when they were 
quite near that lady's house, which they could 
now see from where they were. 

" Oh, certainly; I know Miss Salhe very well; 
and she's just as kind-hearted as she can be. A 
good many people go to see her birds, because 
they are so pretty and rare, and no one else here 
has any like them.'' 

" Where did she get them ? " 

"■Oh, from almost everywhere," Mary an- 
swered, laconically, trying hard to remember 
some of the places that Miss feallie had told her. 
" But she'll tell you anything you want to know 
about them, " ' she added ; "but don't ask too many 
questions." 

The door was opened by a pleasant and at- 
tractive-looking lady of medium height, with 
brownish, silvered hair, and blue-gray eyes, 
given to glow with kindly feeling and sympathy, 
which made them at once very winning in ex- 
pression. The mouth showed decision of charac- 
ter and an energetic temperament. 



e>^ UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

"We've come to see your pretty birds, Miss 
Sallie," Nellie began, with her usual impetu- 
osity, as soon as she and Mary had greeted her ; 
' ' and I do hope you will let us, ' ' she added, as 
if she doubted that she would. 

" Oh, certainly you may see them. Come 
right in here,"' Miss SaUie said, kindly, turning 
to the left of the hall and entering a large and 
pleasant room with a bay-window filled with 
trailing vines and plants, amongst which hung 
several wire cages. " Here are my pets, Nellie/' 
Miss Sallie said; " and come closer, so you can 
see them all.'' 

"Oh, they are just beautiful," Nellie said, 
clapping her hands, ' ' and I never saw any like 
them before, except the canaries and niocking- 
birds and parrots. Yes, I've seen paroquets be- 
fore. And, oh, there's a pure white bird, Mary! 
I reckon he is a new-fashioned snow-bird.*' 

"No, that is the white Java sparrow," Miss 
SaUie said, smihng ; ^ ' and this is a gray Java 
sparrow." 

She pointed out the different birds to Nellie, 
and told her their names, while the httle fellows 
hopped about from perch to perch and kept up 
a continual chirping and twittering. 

" This is a chaffinch," she said, touching the 
bird on the wing, ' ' and this the purple finch ; 
and this one here in the corner is the indigo 
finch. There are two other finches, but I don't 
see them. Oh, here they are— the rainbow finch 
and orange-cheek finch — pretty, aren't they?" 
looking around at NeUie. Then she tapped the 
large cage. 

' ' I want to show you the gray linnet, and he 
belongs to the finch family too. This is he, and 
the bird on his left is a red- head. 



?•> 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 67 

" What is the name of that sweet httle bird 
with a cap on his head y ' ' NelHe asked enthusi- 
astically, pointing to the bird indicated. 

"The hooded Nun," answered Miss Sallie, 
' ' and this one is the Napoleon weaver. ' ' 

" I should think they are lots of trouble," said 
Mary. " I don't think I could have the patience 
to work with tliem." 

' ' Yes, they r'^quire a good deal of attention ; 
but I think the pleasure they give me and my 
friends amply repays me for the trouble I have 
with them." Then turning to Nellie, " I think 
you've enjoyed seeing my birds, haven't you, 
Nellie?" 

"Oh, yes, Miss Sallie; I certainly have; and 
I thank you so much for letting me see them 
and telling me their names. May I come again 
real soon and look at them — when you are not 
busy, you know ? I can see them in the window 
outside, but not half so well as I can in here. ' ' 

' ' Yes, certainly ; come as often as you like, 
and your aunt will allow you. I'm glad they 
have given you so much pleasure." Just then 
the town clock began to strike, and Mary counted 
aloud the six clear, resonant strokes. 

" Dear me, six o'clock! " she said; " I didn't 
know it was so late as that. How the time 
slipped away ! Nellie, we must be going. Miss 
Rachel told me to get back by half past six, any- 
way. You won't have time to hear the parrot 
talk any this time. You can come again, you 
know. " Whereupon poll parrot, who had a cage 
all to herself, seeing them making ready to start, 
began, ' ' Good-bye ! ' ' and kept up her parting 
salutation until they were out of the room. 

Mary had supper ready shortly after they 



68 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

reached home, as she had nothing to do but 
make the tea ; and when Nelhe was through she 
had a race around the yard with Bruce, took a 
turn or two with her hoop, and then went out 
on the porch where Miss Rachel sat with Tom 
contentedly purring upon her lap, while she 
stroked his furry coat and slowly rocked herself 
back and forth. 

Nellie ran back into the house, brought out a 
low stool upon which she liked to sit, and placed 
it near her aunt's, brightening at the remem 
brance of the promise made to her that morning 
to tell her a nice, true story some evening after 
supper, when she had nothing special to do. 
Nellie thought she might just as well claim the 
fulfillment of that promise now. 

The sky was still rosy with the sunset glow, 
and in the corners and shaded recesses of the 
yard, where the dusky shadows were deepening, 
an occasional firefly starred the gloom. In a lit- 
tle while myriads of them would be flashing like 
tiny sparks in the soft gloaming. 

The sound of busy life had ceased in the quiet 
town, the lights in the houses began to twinkle, 
and the young moon hung in the pale gold of 
heaven, from which the rose tint was now fading. 

" Well, Aunt Rachel, I'm ready for that pi-etty 
story you promised to tell me, ' ' said Nellie, slid- 
ing her stool closer to her aunt's chair, and rais- 
ing her innocent questioning eyes to hers. An 
ecstacy of hope lighted up her fascinating baby 
face. 

Miss Rachel smiled, settled herself back in her 
chair, musingly continued to stroke Tom's head, 
and said: 

" The story I promised to tell you is a true 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. Q9 

one, and the event happened many years ago, at 
the first Moravian settlement in North Carohna, 
which is about five or six miles from here ; the 
old village is now almost in ruins. The little col- 
ony of Moravians who settled it were a brave, 
hardy people, and were from Germany and Penn- 
sylvania; and having been accustomed to the 
cold winters of the North, they were dehghted 
with the mild climate of the South, which as late 
as December, you know, is often as balmy as the 
early autumn. The village they built they called 
Bethabara, and as the country around them was 
wild and unsettled at that time, they surrounded 
the little town with a stout stockade, to prevent 
a surprise from the Indians and for general se- 
curity in the wilderness. Every improvement 
bore the marks of their German taste. 

" Well, Bethabara was known far and near by 
the Indians as the Dutch fort, where there were 
good people and much bread. It is said that dur- 
ing 1757 and '58 moi'e than five hundred Indians 
passed through the settlement at various times. 
Because of the war there was a famine in all the 
surrounding country, extending into the districts 
of Virginia, and the people came to Bethabara, 
more than a hundred miles, to buy flour and 
corn. The brethren had plenty to sell, as they 
had cleared and planted much land and had raised 
abundant crops. 

' ' But I must tell you what was inside of the 
fortifications. There were grouped the queerest 
cottages, with steep roofs, sometimes jutting far 
over the door, making a kind of porch, and all 
built of the strongest material. The doors were 
cut in half and swung on separate hinges, hav- 
ing the upper half open for ventilation, while 



70 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

the closed lower half was a kind of protection 
from sudden intrusion. ' ' 

" Why, Aunt Rachel, there are houses in this 
town that have doors cut in two," eagerly inter- 
rupted Nellie, ''and Julia says the people made 
them that way to keep the little children from 
getting out and running away. ' ' 

Her aunt smiled. ' ' Yes, there are a few very 
old houses here with doors cut in half; but Julia 
is mistaken about its having been done to im- 
prison the children. But we'll go on with our 
story," said Miss Rachel, gently pushing Tom 
from her lap to the floor. ' ' Outside the fort 
were tiie farms, and all the owners lived in the 
village. One bright, pleasant day in December, 
just before the Christmas holidays, a group of 
happy children were playing on the outside of 
the palisades, while their mothers were busily 
engaged in spinning and weaving, and others 
were gossiping with their neighbors as they 
leaned over the half-opened doors. After awhile 
the children got tired of their play, and one of 
them suggested that they get permission to go 
to the hillside to gather ferns and evergreens, 
with which to decorate the houses and church 
for the Christmas holidays. Everyone eagerly 
agreed to this proposition, so they rushed into 
the village, and, having obtained the consent of 
their parents, were soon racing across the mead- 
ows to the beautiful moss-clad hills in the dis- 
tance. The men were at work in the fields, their 
guns near by, for in the forest beyond lay the 
war path of the Cherokee Indians, along which 
they passed to attack the Indians in Virginia. 

' ' The day was very beautiful ; the birds were 
singing in the trees and hedgerows, and coveys 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 71 

of partridges whirred up in their flight from 
amongst the stubble. The older boys scampered 
up the hills and gathered evergreens, for every 
cottage had its Christmas tree, and the church 
was always decorated for the season. The girls 
gathered ferns, mosses and berries, while they 
sang gay songs. 

" Toward evening the boys came from the 
hills loaded with cedar boughs, others had laurels 
gathered from distant hills, which were heaped 
upon rude sheds, and joining the girls, they all 
started for home, quite tired out but very happy, 
and singing as merrily as larks. I said all started 
for home. No, there was one left behind, but 
the merry party, all unconscious of their loss, 
hurried homeward. The one left behind was a 
sweet little girl, who was the pride of the village 
and the pet of her household. She was gay 
and full of life, and had wandered alone farther 
round the hill, attracted by stray creepers of 
trailing evergreen pine and the lovely ferns 
which seemed to grow larger and greener as she 
crept along the slope. 

" She wandered on further and further away 
from her companions, until the deepening shad- 
ows caused her to turn and try to retrace her 
steps and join her little friends; but she soon 
found that they were out of hearing, and all was 
silent in the dark, damp wood. She was a long- 
way from the path, still she wauilered on in the 
direction of home, as she thought; but she saw 
no familiar landmark, and just as she was about 
to call, she felt a slight touch on her shoulder 
that startled her; but thinking it was a cedar 
twig, she did not cry out. Although she was 
restless and uneasy, and anxious to reach home, 
she did not feel the least fear. 



72 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

" She went on, and again a sharper touch 
nearly turned her round, and, as before, she 
thought it was a cedar bough that had been the 
cause. It was now getting quite dark, and the 
undergrowth was almost impassable, but, hoping 
soon to reach the meadow and see the hght of 
the town, she hurried on as best she could. She 
knew she was lost, yet she felt strangely calm 
and fearless. Every now and then she thought 
she was touched, and once so strongly that she 
sat down upon a log, buried her face in her hands 
and prayed silently. Presently, the moon rose 
and the gloomy forest was quite bright with the 
moonlight. 

" All at once a strangely human cry aroused 
her, and getting upon her feet, she was about to 
answer, when a sudden touch almost sent her 
prone to the ground." 

'' Oh, Aunt Eachel, what was it ? " asked Nel- 
lie, with a stifled exclamation of dismay, half 
rising and dragging her stool closer to her aunt. 
She glanced furtively round and all about her, 
and then sat down with a blank stare. 

' ' Pshaw ! Nellie, if you are going to get 
frightened at my story, I'll not tell any more of 
it," said Miss Rachel, softly stroking the little 
nervous hand, which had instinctively crept into 
her lap. ' ' It is such a pretty story, I think, be- 
sides it is a true one, and ends nicely, just like 
those in your little story book. Shall I go on 
with it?" 

' ' Oh, yes , I want to hear it all. You may go 
on. Aunt Rachel, I'm not afraid now," Nelhe 
said with something between a smile and a long- 
drawn sigh. 

"All right, then, I'll go on," returned her 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 73 

aant. " Well, the little giii qLiickly rose to her 
feet, and a lowering cedar limo swayed to and 
fro — she thought again that she had been struck 
by it. She was almost ready to give up now, 
and she was very tired, yet that strange confi- 
dence kept her silent. She sat down, and then 
she thought she heard the patter of little feet, 
and, as she sprung up again, she was rudely 
forced, as she thought, into a circular cedar 
brake, like an arbor in a well-kept park. Then 
she heard the cry again, but the mysterious touch 
kept her quiet ; and at last, completely overcome 
by fatigue, she went to sleep. Again a shrill cry 
awoke her; and as she was about to ansv er, a 
bright light surrounded her and a gentle touch 
silenced her. This time she was very much 
startled, but the moonlight caused her to think 
she might have been mistaken both in the halo 
and touch. She again fell asleep. 

' ' In the village all was confusion and distress 
when the loss of the child was discovered. Wild 
with grief, the children told their story. They 
thought the httle girl had returned with the 
boys who brought the laurels ; among them was 
her brother; but not being found, the men of 
the settlement started out, headed by her father, 
and they scattered through the forest with 
lighted torches. 

" The father and three other men went to the 
mill, thinking perhaps she had gone there, as 
she had friends living near by. Not finding her 
there, the father, almost frantic with grief, went 
to the hill amongst the cedar brakes. The men 
had gone but a little way before a fearful cry 
rang out on the night air. They knew but too 
well what it meant, and the poor father was so 
6 



74 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

overcome that he staggered and fell across a fal- 
len log. 

" But he soon recovered himself, and felt a 
strange comfort ; hut the others expected to find 
the child dead. When they had reached an open- 
ing in the forest, they saw^ a treacherous pan- 
ther stealing along the edge of the wood, and 
presently it leaped out in the bright moonlight. 
The men carried their rifles and fired, and the 
next moment the animal dropped dead in his 
tracks. 

" After they had made sure that the panther 
was dead, led by a guiding hand, they came to 
a clump of cedars. The father noticed the sin- 
gular shape, then he pulled the boughs apart, 
and there upon the ground he found his darling- 
child asleep. He was so overcome with joy that 
he caught the startled child in his arms, pressed 
her to his heart, carried her out to his compan- 
ions, and they all sank on their knees and thanked 
God for His merciful care of the little one. 

" The faith of the brethren was strong, and 
the first thing they did ^vas to remember their 
Lord and Master, who had wrought this miracle. 
The little girl told her story as her happy father 
carried her home. It was a long distance, and 
before they were quite out of the forest, day had 
begun to break. Her father told her it was her 
Guardian Angel who had touched and kept her 
quiet, and gave her the strength to go on until 
the cedar grove was found, and she was allowed 
to sleep in peace. 

" The good brethren broke forth in songs and 
thanksgivings as they approached the hillside, 
and the villagers knew by the hymn-tune that 
the child had been found unharmed and well. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 75 



ii 



The mother was out in the meadow first, fol- 
lowed by the good pastor and the people ; and 
there in the open meadow, in the early morning, 
the mother clasped her child to her breast, the 
whole congregation knelt, while the pastor re- 
turned thanks to God for His goodness. As they 
returned home they all sang a hymn of praise. 

'' The next day was Christmas, and the people 
gathered in the church and enjoyed a heartfelt 
love-feast, strengthened in their faith as the pas- 
tor repeated the story of the lost child, as told 
him by the little girl. 

'• Every one was deeply affected, and when 
the little tapers were given the children, as is 
the Moravian custom, all was joy and brightness. 
The beautiful Christmas anthem was sung with 
unusual fervor, and it really seemed as if the 
Christ-child had indeed hovered over the village. 

" Now my story, which is called ' The Guar- 
dian Angel, ' is finished. What do you think of 
it, Nellie ? " Miss Rachel asked, looking down in 
the little earnest, upturned face, bathed in the 
soft radiance of the lamplight which shone 
through the open window. The moon had set 
by this time and millions of diamond stars 
throbbed from horizon to zenith in the high, 
clear vault above. 

Nellie uttered a deep sigh when her aunt had 
finished. ' ' Oh, I like it very much. And what- 
ever became of the little girl — I mean the one 
that was lost in the woods and found ? ' ' 

" I do not know. I've told you all I ever heard 
of her history. But even had she have lived to 
a very old age, she would have been dead many 
years ago." 

Nellie shivered as with cold, and just then the 
town clock began to strike. 



76 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

They both Hstened, and when it had sounded, 
Miss Rachel rose and took up her chair. "Come, 
let us go in. The air seems too cool tor you out 
here, and, besides, it is time you were in bed." 

Nellie picked up her stool aud followed her 
aunt into the brightly lighted room. Mary was 
folding the pillow-shams, w^hich she had taken 
from Miss Rachel's bed. She had already put 
Nellie's little bed in order, ready for her to retire. 

Mary was so intent with what she was doing 
that she did not hear Miss Rachel and Nellie en- 
ter, and apparently was unconscious of their 
presence in the room, until Nellie crept up be- 
hind her and flung her arms around her waist, 
holding her tightly. 

Mary turned round, smiling, and Nellie burst 
into a merry peal of laughter. 

" Did I frighteu you, Mary ?" she asked. 

" No, you little witch; I knew who you were. 
Now I'm going to put you to bed to pay you 
back." Mary took hold of her, and began to un- 
dress her. 

" All right, I'm awfully tired and sleepy, any 
way," and she yawned elaborately. Half an 
hour later Nellie was in bed and sound asleep, 
while Miss Rachel sat reading by the shaded 
lamp-light. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 77 



CHAPTER VL 

It was late one warm afternoon, the fourth 
day after Dr. LesKe's and Mrs. Grayson's de- 
parture for New York. Miss Rachel had just 
gone out to the milk-cart, which stopped regu- 
larly before her gate to deliver her daily supply 
of milk ; and while she stood waiting for the 
milkman to fill her pitcher, she heard steps be- 
hind her. 

''Mary, is that you'?" she called. The girl 
advanced and stood framed in the doorway. 

" Where is Nellie?'' 

" I think she is in the garden. I'll go and see. ' ' 

" No, no; wait, Mary! " hastily interrupted 
Miss Rachel, with a peremptory wave of her 
hand. 

Mary stopped abruptly. 

" I received a telegram from Dr. Leslie half an 
hour ago," Miss Rachel began, " and Mrs. Gray- 
son and the little girl they've adopted will be 
home to-night. Get Nellie's things together and 
put them in her valise, and as soon as we've had 
supper, Nellie and I will go up on the car, so I 
can open and light the house and have every- 
thing in readiness.'" 

Just then a noise of joyous laughing and scuf- 
fling came from the porch, and Nellie and Bruce 
came dashing into the room. 

' ' Get down, Bruce ! get down, I say ! See 
how you've torn and soiled my dress with your 
big, dirty paws! " shouted Nellie, playfully beat- 
ing him with her hat, but laying on the strokes 
with all her strength, while with the revival of 
every blow lie continued his frolic, till Mary 



78 Ur{DER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

came to her rescue, and in a voice of authority 
ordered him out of the room. 

NeUie dropped, panting, into a seat. " I'm all 
out of breath, ' ' she said, then leaned back against 
the chair and brushed the encroaching hair out 
of her eyes with the back of her hand, drawing 
a long, quivering breath as she did so. 

Her aunt laughed. " Of course you have some 
breath left or vou couldn't talk.'' 

"Well, I didn't mean that, exactly; I mean I 
haven't got much.' 

"After supper Maiy will change your soiled 
dress for a fresh one," Miss Rachel said. 

"Why, Aunt Rachel?" exclaimed Nellie, 
roused at once. ' ' What am I going to put on a 
clean dress to-night for ? Are you going to have 
company ? ' ' She looked with curious eagerness 
up into her aunt's face. 

" Come and get your supper first, then I'll tell 
you why." Miss Rachel crossed the room, re- 
sumed her seat and began to pour the tea. " I 
have some good news for you — that's suffi- 
cient for the present. ' ' Miss Rachel smiled with 
an air of grim satisfaction. 

' ' Do please tell me now. Aunt Rachel. I want 
to know so much," pleaded Nellie; and in the 
swift revulsion of feeling she was alert with life 
and animation. 

"No, not until you have had your supper. " 
Her aunt smiled again and shook her head. 

Nellie's face fell instantly, but she sat down 
to the table very demurely, unfolding her nap- 
kin and carefully spread it over her lap. 

After she had hurriedly dispatched her supper, 
she looked inquiringly at her aunt. 

" Are you through already ? " asked Miss Ra- 



I 

t 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 79 

chel, glancing at her plate. " Why, you haven't 
eaten any honey and sweet buns ; I thought you 
were so fond of them.'' 

" I am. but I don't care about them just now. " 
Nellie folded her napkin and slipped it into the 
ring, and when Miss Rachel i)resently rose from 
the table, she watched her with intensifying in- 
terest. 

" I had a telegram from your uncle this after- 
noon, and your mother will be home to-night; 
so we are to get ready and go to the car right 
away." Miss Rachel was busy putting away the 
tea things, and she did not see Nellie's face. 

''Really, Aunt Rachel"? Oh, oh; I am so 
glad," she almost screamed. She was athrill 
with delight, and for a moment could not say 
another thing — words absolutely failed her. She 
sprang from her seat and flew into the kitchen. 

" Oh, Mary, mamma's coming home — is com- 
ing this very night, and is almost here! Do 
come and help me get on another frock right 
now. Aunt Rachel savs I must, and we are to 
go right away. Aren't you glad, Mary, that 
mamma's coming home '? " 

Nellie walked demurely beside Miss Rachel, 
with little short, tripping steps, till they had 
reached Main Street, where they were to await 
the coming of the West End car, then she flut- 
tered off across the street where several persons 
had gathered, evidently for the same purpose. 
Just as Miss Rachel and Mary joined the goup, 
she heard some one say, " Now, we'll have to 
wait fifteen minutes longer, for the West End 
car has just gone ap. " 

" Well, there's nothing to do but be patient 
and wait," mused Miss Rachel, half aloud, as 



80 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

she resolutely took up her position, with that 
sombre dignity peculiar to her, among the chat- 
tering group. 

The whitest of summer mists delicately veiled 
the moon, but the invading rays, which pierced 
it and silvered the quaint old town, made a pic- 
ture of matchless beauty and witchery. x\long 
the elm-embowered street pleasant songs and 
laughter floated out on the delicious air, and 
melted away into a languid stir further down, 
where the street darkled away in the gloom. 
Presently, a gentle wind rose and swayed the 
pendulous boughs of the tall elms hither and 
thither, printing tremulous shadows on the dusty 
pavement beneath. 

At that moment Nellie caught sight of a famil- 
iar figure that came round the corner and joined 
the waiting group, then stepped into the range 
of the moonhghted street and looked anxiously 
about, as if seeking some one. 

' ' Oh ! ' ' cried Nellie, in a sudden glow of pleas- 
ure and enthusiasm, " There's Dr. Seaton! '' and 
before her aunt could repress her, she ran up to 
him and caught him by the hand. Dr. Seaton 
started, with a look of astonishment. 

" Why, heigh, Nellie. Where did you come 
from ? ' ' 

His tone was kind and gay. 

She laughed but did not heed his question. 
" Mamma's coming home to-night. Dr. Seaton, 
and going to bring a little girl with her named 
Euth, and I'll have some one to play with me — 
Aunt Rachel and I are going home to meet 
them, ai'd we are waiting for the car now." 

Nellie made a lovely jMcture as she stood there, 
clearly defined in the moonlight, her embroidered 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 81 

white dress belted with a broad bkie sash, care- 
lessly knotted in the back and the long golden 
curls tied back with a ribbon of the same hue. 
Mary had fastened a bunch of large purple vio- 
lets on the bosom of her dress among the fleecy 
lace, and a teasing wind blew their fragrance ail 
about her, 

"•Where is your Aunt Eachel?" asked Dr. 
Seaton, still holding her hand and looking in the 
direction of the spectral figures a little apart 
from them. " Have you been a real good girl 
since mamma left, and had a pleasant visit to 
your aunt ? ' ' he added, as they moved off to find 
her. 

She looked up at him ruefully, and seemed 
not to like his implied inference about her good 
behavior. 

" Of course I've been a good girl. You can 
ask Aunt Rachel if you don't believe me." 

A gleam of amusement shone in his eyes. 
'" Certainly, I believe you, Nellie. But we are 
not going to fall out and quarrel like naughty 
children, are we ? ' ' 

" Quarrel! '■ she repeated, with her old eager 
persistence, " I should think not." She flashed 
a radiant look at him, and her little heart soft- 
ened more and more toward him. '' I think you 
are ever so nice." Dr. Seaton laughed at the 
admission. 

" Oh, here's Aunt Rachel now," she said. 

" I'm going to sit by you in the car," mur- 
niured Nellie, clinging fast to her friend's hand. 

'' Where are you going to get off ? " 

''Nellie! Nellie! "Miss Rachel called to her 
in a tone of reproach and correction, " don't be 
troublesome. * ' 



82 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

"Oh, that's all right," Dr. Seaton answered, 
following her gesture with a smiling glance. 
' ' Nellie and I are the best of friends. ' ' 

They had reached the car, and he extended his 
hand to her as he spoke and helped her up the 
step, then lifted Nellie lightly after her; and as 
he turned to take the valise from Mary, Bruce 
sprang past him onto the platform, almost up- 
setting a small boy who stood in his way, and 
naturally followed Nellie into the car. The con- 
ductor frowned savagely and muttered something 
about dogs being such a nuisance. 

Presently the car stopped before the brightly 
lighted double-galleried hotel and Dr. Seaton 
got directly up. "Here's my stopping place," 
he said. "Good-bye, Nellie," holding out his 
hand; "I hope we shall meet again before long." 
Then hastily bidding Miss Rachel good-night, he 
got down the steps. 

Nellie sprang suddenly upon her knees again, 
and threw kisses from her finger tips out the 
window to him, until Miss Rachel pulled hei 
almost forcibly down into the seat. She found 
that some of her own obstinacy confronted her 
occasionally through Nelhe, but in a milder form. 
" What does make you behave so, Nellie ? ' she 
said testily, putting on her hat and making in- 
effectual attempts to get it on straight. 

" Oh. I wasn't doing anything. Aunt Rachel, 
just throwing kisses to Dr. Seaton," she said 
plaintively; " I think he's ever so nice, and real 
pretty, too; don't you, Aunt Rachel?" 

The moon had quite gone down by the time 
they reached home, but the myriads of twink- 
ling stars shone with a clear, white brilUancy 
and sparkled on the dewy green of the lawn 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 83 

and the foliage of the well-kept shrubbery, every 
leaf of which looked as if it were set in a rim of 
silver. 

Miss Eachel and Nellie walked around to the 
rear of the house. A light burned in the servants' 
room, but they came upon Aunt Milly and Julia 
sitting outside the doorway, the lamplight cast- 
ing grotesque shadows of them on the white- 
sanded space before the door. They got up di- 
rectly they saw Miss Rachel. 

" There ain't nothin' th' matter, is there Miss 
Eachel?" Aimt Milly asked quickly. 

Although Miss .Rachel had locked the doors 
and taken the keys with her, the day she had 
given the house a thorough overhauling, she left 
Aunt Milly in charge with a duplicate key. and 
gave her access to the rooms in the rear which 
interiorly communicated with those in front of 
the house and the left "wing, by heavy sliding 
doors, which were rarely closed as they were 
hung with silk and damask portieres. 

When Miss Rachel entereed the house — which 
she did by the back entrance, as Aunt Milly had 
already opened the door — she made her way 
straight to the front hall, lighted the chandelier 
both here and in the sittiug-room, then took a 
hand-lamp and made desultory excursions 
through each room to ascertain that everything 
was just as she had left it. Quite an hour later 
she went into the nursery. Aunt Milly had put 
Nellie to bed, and herself had fallen asleep in a 
capacious rocking-chair beside the low couch, 
with her hands clasped upon her lap, her head 
thrown back, and from her wide-opened mouth 
came heavy respiration which from time to time 
deepened into a hoarse snore, but which even in 



84 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

her sleep she made visible efforts to suppress. 
For a moment Miss Rachel paused and stood re- 
garding her with an uncertain air. She seemed 
to be resting so comfortably that she dishked to 
disturb her, but let her sleep on till she'd had her 
nap out. 

'' No, I won't awaken her," she mused, in the 
excess of her indulgence ; but as she turned to 
leave the room her hand came in contact with 
some dainty trifle upon the table beside which 
she was standing, and before she could arrest it, 
it fell with a jingling crash to the floor and shiv- 
ered into a thousand atoms. 

Aunt Milly sprang suddenly to her feet with a 
startled look in her wild-staring eyes. ' ' Lord- 
a- massy ! What was that ? ' ' She rubbed her eyes 
and glanced about her. 

Miss Rachel laughed. *• Aunt Milly I'm sorry 
I frightened you. It was nothing but a little 
vase I knocked off the table, and it struck against 
a chair and broke before I could catch it. I'm 
afraid it was the one Carl gave NeUie for a 
Christmas present, and one she thought so much 
of," said Miss Rachel, stooping to gather up the 
sparkhng fragments. She lowered the lamp and 
examined them. " Yes, it is the identical vase, 
and I nmst get her another one like it." 

" You jes' let 'em be, Miss Rachel, an' I'll get 
the duster an' pan an' brush 'em up rale clean,'' 
said Aunt Milly. She left the room, but came 
back in a few minutes, and soon had the wrecked 
vase in a shining heap upon her pan ; then she 
rose to her feet. 

" There is no need of your sitting up till Helen 
comes, Aunt Milly. I'm not going to bed; and 
if I should want anything, Julia will be in this 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 85 

room and I can call her. Helen generally wishes 
a cup of tea after she has been traveling at night, 
and it will be no trouble to prepare it for her 
when she comes. I see you have the bed ready 
for the child that Helen is to bring home with 
her. That's all right; I think it is best that she 
and Nellie should have separate beds— children 
rest better, too, when they sleep alone." 

While Miss Rachel was talking Aunt Milly re- 
mained standing, loatiDg up against the door- 
way, carefully holding the pan and duster in her 
hand; and when she paused, Aunt Milly gave 
one of her customary grunts, and slowly left the 
room. 

The moment Aunt Milly had gone, Miss Rachel 
took up her lamp and went into the library to 
get something to read. She went up to the 
shelves, and holding the light high above her 
head began scanning the backs of the books up 
and down with knitted brows and a mouth primly 
set. After some little time she found the book 
she wanted, and returned with it to the sitting- 
room. 

As the light from the chandelier gleamed with 
an uncomfortable, steely glare, she turned it 
down quite low and lit one of the tall l)anquet 
lamps, whose radiance she subdued with its 
fluted satin shade, and then sat down to read. 
She was pleasantly conscious of the sweet scent 
of the flowers that drifted in through the half- 
shuttered window a ad filled the peaceful room ; 
but despite all her efforts to keep awake, a drow- 
siness gradually began to steal over her, her 
hold on the book relaxed, it slipped to the floor, 
and soon she was sleeping soundly. 

How long she slept she did not know, but she 



8() UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

was aroused by the sound of wheels, and before 
she was fully awake there was a murmur of 
voices in the hall without. 

She rose hastily, picked up her book and laid 
it upon the table, then went out to meet her sis- 
ter. When she had greeted her she glanced 
around as if she were in quest of some one else 
she had expected, then paused and suddenly 
looked blank. Mrs. Grayson had quite lost sight 
of the fact that Miss Rachel was still ignorant 
with regard to Ruth's womanhood — that she 
was a young lady instead of a child, as they had 
at first surmised ; and for a moment both she 
and Ruth were puzzled at Miss Rachel's strange 
action. Then the consciousness of the true situa- 
tion flashed upon her. 

' ' Do excuse me, Rachel ! I had forgotten that 
you did not know," said Mrs. Grayson hurri- 
edly. ''This is Ruth Arnold — Ralph's ward. 
You know w^e all expected to find her quite a 
small girl, but instead — '" she looked at Ruth, 
smiling affectionately — ' ' she is a most charming 
young lady. Ruth, this is my sister, Rachel; 
and I am sure she must love you when she 
knows you, as warmly as I do already. ' ' 

Miss Rachel seemed so taken by surprise that 
she fell back a step or two, and during the brief 
interval of silence the three exchanged glances. 
And then she did something that took Mrs. Gray- 
son entirely by surj^rise. 

She went up to Ruth, took her by the hand, 
kissed her and cordially welcomed her to her 
brother's home. Rarely demonstrative even to 
those whom she knew most intimately, and never 
to strangers, Mrs. Grayson sincerely appreciated 
this unusual manifestation of her sister's gra- 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 87 

ciousness, and when she had an opportunity, she 
frankly toid her so. Without further delay they 
passed on into the sitting-room, where Juha had 
suddenly flared up a broad glow of light. 

Mrs. Grayson assisted Ruth to remove her 
things, while Miss Eachel and Juha went to pre- 
pare the tea. Ruth sank into the luxurious chair 
which Mrs. Grayson wheeled forward for her, 
inwardly glad to be beyond the noisy clangor of 
the cars, and thankful, too, that they were 
safely at their journey's end at last. 

'' if you will excuse me, my dear," said Mrs. 
Grayson, after seeing that Ruth was as comfor- 
table as she could make her, •' I will go into the 
nursery to see Nellie, though I am sure she has 
been asleep hours ago.'" 

"Oh, yes; please go, Mrs. Grayson. Do not 
mind me. I should not like to think that I had 
kept you," said Ruth hurriedly. " I hope she 
has been perfectly well. ' ' 

Mrs. Grayson presently came back smiling, 
" Yes, she is sleeping soundly and sweetly, and 
seems as well as when I left her." 

For several minutes Ruth did not stir nor 
speak. She never complained, but just now her 
attitude expressed great weariness, and Mrs. 
Grayson went up to her and laid her hand caress- 
ingly upon her shoulder. 

"I'm sure that you are very tired, child; and 
as soon as you've had a cup of tea and some re- 
freshments you must retire. You ate no supper, 
and very little dinner, and I do not like to have 
you go to bed feeling famished." 

After Ruth had protested that she did not feel 
hungry, Mrs. Grayson added: '• There is no need 
of your coming down to breakfast in the morn- 



88 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

ing if you should prefer to stay in bed aud sleep 
— or even till you are thoroughly rested. It will 
be no trouble to send your breakfast to you, and 
will in no wise interfere with any of my arrange- 
ments. ' ' 

Mrs. Grayson looked tenderly down into the 
uplifted, tired eyes, as she spoke. 

" Thank you, Mrs. Grayson. You are very 
kind. But I think after a night's rest and quiet 
I shall be all right again." 

Just then Miss Rachel and Julia came in, the 
latter bearing the silver tea-tray with dainty 
cups and saucers, and Miss Rachel had the tea- 
urn and some light refeshments. In a little while 
she brought Ruth a cup of fragrant tea. which 
she drank more to gratify Miss Rachel than be- 
cause she really wanted it, but declined any other 
refreshment. 

When the things had been removed, Mrs. 
Grayson rose, spoke a few words aside to her 
sister, and then turned to Ruth. 

" Now, my dear, I will show you to your 
room. Rachel will occupy to-night the one ad- 
joining yours, and as the light will burn in the 
hall, you need not feel nervous or the least 
afraid. To-morrow I shall make some other ar- 
rangement, and give you a room near my own, 
if you prefer it." 

" You see we thought yon were a httle girl," 
interposed Miss Rachel, pleasantly, "and so made 
arrangements for you to sleep in the nursery 
with Nellie." 

"Then that is my proper place, ' ' laughed Ruth, 
good-humoredly, "and why not let me sleep 
there to-night?" 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 89 



(( 



I'm afraid Nellie would have you up before 
day," Mrs. Grayson said, smiling. " She is such 
a restless little body, and generally gets up with 
the birds. Julia, bring Euth's hat and bag," she 
added, as she moved away to show Kuth to her 
room. 



90 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 



CHAPTER VII. 

When Ruth awoke the next morning she lay- 
still for a few moments, surveying her strange 
surroundings with puzzled surprise. Then she 
remembered where she was. As she looked about 
her she could not help noticing the exquisite 
sense of harmony in the beautiful and luxurious 
appointments of the room. 

The furniture was white mahogany, exqui- 
sitely carved in roses in relief, and ornamented 
in cream and gold. The walls were hung with 
well chosen pictures. The roof of a bay window 
made an alcove, which was draped across the 
front with curtains of silk bolting-cloth, thin as 
a fairy web. and embroidered with roses, pink 
and yellow, drooping their delicate petals from 
fold to fold. Inside the alcove was a dressing- 
table of white mahogany, fitted up with swing- 
ing brass mirrors and draperies, the latter being 
of the same design and material as the curtains. 
The white mantel was also carved in roses in re- 
lief, while the tiled hearth was surrounded with 
a brass fender of artistic design and workman- 
ship. In the centre of the inlaid floor was a car- 
pet of thickly piled Wilton, pearly in ground and 
over-strewn with pink roses. 

Overhanging all this was a ceihng of pale blue, 
with radiating circles and sections, and these 
were garlanded with pink roses. One trailing 
branch wandered out across the blue, and around 
the roses on its stem a swarm of butterflies flut- 
tered, making the central ornamentation of the 
ceiling. Opening off the bedroom was a dainty 
toilet-room, fitted up with every luxury. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 91 

With that feehng of homesickness and strange- 
ness, mingled with her surroundings, and with 
an aching sense of desolation because of her re- 
cent bereavement, Ruth rose and dressed herself 
and went to the window, upon which the sun 
was shining full and filling the room with its 
golden effulgence. 

A wandering odor of delicious sweetness stole 
up from the rose-garden upon which she looked, 
and which was filled with the rarest flowers, 
bathed in dew and flashing like silver in the sun- 
light. The sky was cloudless, and among the 
mantling leaves of the trees many sweet warbles 
were heard ; but loud and clear above them all 
rose the notes of a mocking-bird, that seemed to 
fairly gurgle with ecstatic gushes, then suddenly 
changed, and began to pour forth defiant mena- 
ces at the very top of his ^ oice. For a moment 
Ruth forgot her trouble, and stood like one en- 
tranced by the sweet influence of the time and 
scene. Then she let her eyes wander off in the 
distance, which was mysterious with silvery 
haze, out of which rose a purple mass, towering 
upward, and that at first view was hardly dis- 
cernible; but as the morning sun lifted itself 
over the lovely landscape and the guazy mist 
melted, the purple mass assumed a well-defined, 
stately size, with its cloud-capped summit, and 
now stood out in serene beauty and grandeur. 

From the midst of the plain it traveled up till 
its castellated crest seemed to be lost in the clouds. 
Ruth suddenly recollected Mrs. Grayson's telling 
her of the lovely view to be had from this bay 
window, which, from its peculiar structure and 
situation, commanded an eastern, northern and 
western view, and that one of the greatest curi- 



92 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

osities in the world was distinctly visible from 
this point — that stupendous work of Nature, the 
Pilot Mountain. 

The natural castle which stands on its summit 
is sheer rock, while the mountain itself is so reg- 
ularly rounded and so surprisingly similar in the 
curves of its outlines, as it slopes gracefully up- 
ward, that the beholder will persist in beheving 
that the whole is some gigantic work of art. But 
on a near approach the most curious and skep- 
tical are satisfied that Deity only could have 
reared this magnificent pile. Mrs. Grayson told 
Ruth that the summer before she had visited the 
Pilot with a party of excursionists, and was one 
among half a dozen who had scaled the almost 
perpendicular rock shaft which stood statue-like 
upon the mountain crest. But she had been 
more than repaid for the weary struggle she had 
experienced in climbing the mighty steep, by the 
sublime prospect which she had enjoyed after 
reaching the top of the pinnacle. 

Ruth felt a sense of awe and reverence creep- 
ing over her as she continued to gaze at this 
wonderful temple, rising up seemingly so near 
across the sunny expanse of splendor, but which 
was, in reality, many miles away. 

Toward the right a long line of blue moun- 
tain peaks rose in bold but not lofty heights, and 
the warm sun seemed to deepen their mystery 
as it touched them with a sunny caress. 

These were the Spurs of the Brushy and Saura 
Town Mountains. 

Ruth was aroused from her revery by a gentle 
knock on her door, which made her start ner- 
vously, and a conscious color came mto her face. 
To her low " come in, " Mrs. Grayson opened the 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 93 

door, glanced searchingly around the room and 
paused, hesitatingly, upon the threshold. 

"Ah, here you are,"" she said, stepping for- 
ward. '" How are you, my dear; and how did 
you rest last night ? I had no idea that you were 
up so early, but expected to find you in bed, and 
I hoped asleep. I would not send Julia, because 
I was afraid that she would awaken you. ' ' 

' ' Thank you, Mrs. Grayson ; I rested very 
well, so am feeling much better this morning 
than I had dared to hope. I haven't kept break- 
fast waiting, I trust," she added, as the bell rang 
at that moment. 

" Oh, no, it is just ready; and if you wish we 
will go down now. Nellie is quite impatient to 
meet you, and seems really disappointed that you 
are not a little girl like herself. ' ' 

Ruth noticed that the same exquisite taste and 
harmony pervaded the arrangement of the hall 
and the rooms by which they had passed on their 
way to the dining-room, where they found that 
Miss Rachel and Nellie had preceded them. 

Nellie, who had been receiving a short lecture 
from Miss Rachel on good behavior during her 
motJier's absence from the room, shrank back 
and shyly watched Ruth's sweet, questioning 
face; but when the latter smiled and held out 
her hand, Nellie yielded at once, ran forward 
and threw her arms around Ruth's neck. 

With an effort Ruth restrained the tears that 
Nellie's spontaneous greeting had evoked, and as 
she took the seat Mrs. Grayson assigned to her 
on her right at the table, she felt an eager de- 
termination, despite the strong sense of strange- 
ness which held her, to be interested in and ap- 
preciative of all that she knew was being done 



94: UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

for her comfort and happiness. The meal over, 
Mrs. Grayson, Ruth and NelUe went into the 
sitting-room. 

Ruth's first impression of this charming room, 
of which she took a rapid survey, was most 
pleasing. Never were comfort and opulence 
more gracefully and effectively put into practice 
than here. 

Half an hour later, when Miss Rachel came 
in, it was to bid them good-bye, and Mrs. Gray- 
son rose to follow her to the door; but before 
she left the room she turned to Nellie and said : 
" If Ruth is not too tired, perhaps she would Hke 
to go into the rose-garden, and over the house 
and grounds and get acquainted with her new 
home. Can't you show them to her, Nellie ? '' 

Nellie sprang up almost before her mother had 
finished speaking, and fluttered up to Ruth, 
catching hold of her hand. 

"Shall we?" she eagerly asked, looking up 
into the lovely face bent toward her. 

' ' Yes, I shall be very glad to go, ' ' said Ruth ; 
' ' but I must get my hat ; and if you will wait 
here I'll be back in a few minutes." 

" Oh, mamma has two or three garden hats 
in the hall, and if you don't mind wearing one, 
I'll go and get them, and you can select the one 
you like." Without waiting for Ruth to refuse 
or acquiesce, she ran into the haU, and presently 
came back with her own hat on, and two of her 
mother's — one in either hand. 

" Take your choice, " she said, holding the hats 
towards Ruth, " This is the nicest one, I think, " 
holding up a walking hat of black straw trimmed 
in black ribbon and a raven's wing. The broad- 
brim garden hat she had cunningly slipped be- 
hind hh)r. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 95 

Ruth laughed. " You've left me no choice but 
to submit to your selection." She held out her 
hand foi' the hat, and when she had put it on, 
Nellie asked. 

' ' Now, where shall we go first ? ' ' 

" Well. I'll let you decide that, too." 

" Then we'll go into the rose-garden first and 
see the flowers while the dew is on them. Mam- 
ma says they are prettier then. The walks are 
wide and clean, so you'll not get wet from the 
dew. I'll get mamma's flower shears and cut 
you some roses for your vases. I know just 
where to get them. I heard mamma tell x\uut 
Rachel this morning that if you're not afraid to 
stay up-stairs, she would let you have the room 
up over hers for your room — ^where you stayed 
last night, you know. Before you came we all 
thought you were a little girl like me, so Aunt 
Rachel had a bed put in the nursery for you. I 
was awfully sorry when mamma told me this 
morning that you were grown up, but I'm not 
now — that was before I saw you, you know. 
Please wait here — Miss — -Ruth — " Nellie hesi- 
tated and looked puzzled — " I don't know what 
I must call you V ' ' 

"Cousin Ruth." quickly suggested Ruth, 
smiling. 

" Well, Cousin Ruth, please you wait here till 
I put away this hat and get mamma's shears, so 
I can cut you some flowers— I'll be back real 
quick. ' ' 

She vanished like a fairy, but presently came 
back with the flower shears, which she was snap- 
ping in such a way as to threaten a dissolution 
of their fastenings. " Come on, I'll show you 
the way," she said gayly. her little heart ex- 



96 UNDER C40LDEN SKIES; OR, 

panding with all kinds of generous designs for 
Ruth's enjoyment as they started out on their 
tour of inspection. 

Ruth hngered admiringly over each detail of 
lavish loveliness, and when Nellie finally paused 
in the midst of her pratthng and asked Ruth 
what she thought of her new home, she said, 
" Oh, it is beautiful, wonderfully beautiful, and 
I never fancied that I was coming to such a 
lovely place as this. ' ' 

'' Shall we go and have a swing in the ham- 
mock now, or shall we go in ? It's awfully nice 
down yonder under that big oak. " Nellie glanced 
in the direction of the tree, and then looked ea- 
gerly up at Ruth. 

" Thank you, Nellie. But let us go indoors 
now before the sun wilts our flowers, and put 
them in water ; it would be a pity for them to 
die so soon. See, they are beginning to droop 
already." 

The next moment she held them out under the 
spray of the fountain. Nellie imitated her ac- 
tion, but when she withdrew them from the 
feathery mist she gave them a sudden flirt, which 
sent a shower of rose-petals and crystal drops 
flying in every direction. 

" Oh, do excuse me, Cousin Ruth; I beheve I 
threw some water on your dress. I am so sorry 

" Never mind that; there is no harm done 

" Come on now," said Nellie, " Mamma said 
I must show you the house, too ; but you'll be 
too tired to go all over it to-day — I'll just show 
you Uncle Ralph's rooms — his office and study — 
and the parlors, which are sort of off from the 
other rooms. Uncle Ralph says he is going to 
have the back parlor made into a conservatory. 



55 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 97 

to open into the front parlor and the old conser- 
vatory. I heard him telhng mamma how he was 
going to have it done, but I hope he won't spoil 
the parlors. These are Uncle Ralph's rooms," 
she added, as they reached the left of the en- 
trance where were Dr. Leslie's private office and 
study, which communicated with a paved walk 
by a door in the side of the gable. After inspect- 
ing these beautiful rooms, they passed on to the 
elegant parlors. 

Ruth uttered an exclamation of admiration 
and delight as they crossed the threshold and 
stood within the luxurious rooms. 

Everywhere there were many gems of art, 
rare pictures, statuary, rich tajiestries, lacquered 
metals, elegant books, and everything that taste 
could suggest and money purchase — and all most 
exquisitely arranged about the luxurious rooms, 
indicating the presence of a mistress of unerring 
taste. 

" I just know you are tired, Cousin Ruth; so 
I'm going to take you to mamma's room now, 
where you can rest, ' ' said Nellie, running on a 
little ahead of her ; and as soon as they were in 
the room, she wheeled a low rocker beside the 
open window, and motioned to Ruth to take it, 
adding : 

" This is for you. Cousin Rath, and here is a 
fan, too. Give me your hat and flowers, and I'll 
go and get you some ice-water. Mamma will be 
in presently, but you musn't get lonely while 
you are waiting for her. " ' 

"No, I'll not, Nellie," said Ruth, smiling; 
" you are very kind, but please don't trouble to 
wait on me, or you'll be spoiling nie. I don't 
care about the water just now, but if you will 



98 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

tell me where to find what I may need, I'm sure 
I shall manage very well. ' ' 

Rath glanced curiously around the delightful 
room as she spoke. Surely the mistress must 
possess a certain witchery to he able to give this 
room, as she did to all the others, that glamour 
so exceedingly fascinating. She knew that it was 
not money alone that produced the result she 
saw. 

" Oh! it's no trouble at all,'' said Nellie, " and 
I like — , I want to do something for you. Mam- 
ma told me before you came that I must be very 
kind to you and love you as a sister. I have two 
sisters in heaven — sister Maud and little Annie, 
but I don't recollect anything about them. Mam- 
ma tells me about them often, and sometimes it 
makes her sad. and she cries. I have a little 
brother in heaven, too; and then I have a big 
brother, Carl, who has gone to Europe, and will 
be away two years. That is his picture hanging 
over there near mamma's bed. Don't you think 
he is very good looking'? " Nellie asked in the 
most matter-of-fact tone, looking toward the pic- 
ture. But before Ruth could reply, Mrs. Gray- 
son called to Nellie from the dining-room; and 
with a — "I'm coming. Mamma," she hurried 
off, leaving Ruth alone. 

Thus forsaken she arose, and went and stood 
before the picture to get a better view of it. 

It was a life-size portrait done in oil, and was 
cased in a richly carved gilt frame. Ruth was 
by no means an art-critic, but she had had op- 
portunities of seeing many excellent pictures by 
some of the best masters, and she believed this 
was a perfectly faithful likeness of the original. 
For several minutes she stood steadily regarding 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 99 

the handsome face on the canvas, until the 
shadow seemed to grow into a hving reahty. 

'' What do you think of Carl's likeness ? '' She 
started and turned, to meet the smiling eyes of 
Mrs. Grayson, who stood behind her. 

Ruth glanced quickly back at the picture, 
more to cover her confusion than because she 
did not have a ready answer. 

" Now, don't compliment it, dear, unless you 
can do so conscientiously," continued Mrs. Gray- 
son, with that soft light in her eyes w^hich always 
came to them when she spoke to Ruth, or when 
she talked of Carl. 

" No, I shall not. I think the picture is very 
handsome indeed ; and if this is a faithful copy 
of Carl — I mean your son, and evidently it is — I 
do not wonder that you feel very proud of him." 
She answ^ered with perfect candor and sincerity. 

" Thank you. child. The picture was painted 
by one of the best artists in New York last win- 
ter, and I do not think he could have obtained a 
better likeness. It seems to me that the artist 
caught the true conception of his character — that 
subtle suggestion of individuality — as well as the 
physical beauty of the face," she said, with all a 
mother's love and pride. She looked intently at 
the picture a few minutes, sighed softly, and 
turned to say something to Ruth, when at that 
moment the door bell rang, and a httle later Vir- 
gil entered and handed her three cards on a sil- 
ver salver. 

" Ladies to see Mrs. Grayson, " he said, bowed, 
and withdrew. 

" Mrs. Wellington, Mrs. Biddle and Mrs. Ray- 
nor, '' Mrs. Grayson read aloud, and dropped the 
cards into a receiver on the table. 



100 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

" I shall have to ask you to excuse me, my 
dear ; and after my visitors leave, I wish to have 
a talk with you. Make arrangements about your 
room and some other little matters. ' ' 

As she turned to leave the room she paused in 
the doorway, looked back and said : 

'* You will find several late magazines and pa- 
pers on the table; and if there are any you 
should like to take to your room, you need feel 
no hesitancy in doing so.'" 

When Mrs. Grayson had gone Ruth looked over 
the magazines and papers, selected a Century 
and Scribner, and went to her room. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 101 



CHAPTER VIII. 

As soon as the visitors had gone, Euth came 
down-stairs and went to the hbrary ; and finding 
the door open and Mrs. Grayson sitting at her 
writing desk, she did not knock but simply 
asked, " May I come in ? " 

" Certainly, my dear; I am glad you came. I 
was just thinkng about you. (Jome in and have 
this seat here near me. I want to talk with you. ' ' 

Ruth complied, then clasping her hands to- 
gether in her lap, sat quietly waiting. Her 
mourning draperies seemed to accentuate the 
pearly freshness and delicacy of her fair face, 
which now wore an expression of sweet, pathetic 
earnestness. 

Mrs. Grayson hesitated a moment before she 
began to speak, then she went on very gently 
and lovingly. 

She had a wonderful way of saying even un- 
pleasant things pleasantly, and now as she talked 
something in her tone and manner broke the 
spell of vague uneasiness which had begun to 
settle in a sort of formless, depressing sensation 
about Ruth's heart. 

This was the first time she had spoken to her 
on the subject of her father's death; and when 
she saw the expression of pain and sadness in 
her face which her words had stirred, a broad, 
deep sympathy surged up afresh in her heart for 
this dear orphan girl. But she did not pause, 
because she knew that the sooner this ordeal was 
over the better it would be for her. 

' ' I dare say, my dear, ' ' she went on, ' ' that 
before his death your father acquainted you with 



102 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

something of his early history — at least, that 
part of it pertaining to the pecuhar relationship 
which once existed between himself and your 
guardian — a kind of David and Jonathan friend- 
ship, that nothing ever should have disturbed ; 
so all this I shall not go over now." She paused 
a moment, then continued. "In a letter to my 
brother, written a few days before your father's 
death, and mailed immediately after, he outlined 
plans for your future, which he suggested that 
we should carry out if we thought best to do so. 
You may know what these plans are?" Mrs. 
Grayson looked at Ruth interrogatively. 

'• Yes, he told me, '" she said, making an affirm- 
ative movement of the head, at the same time. 

" They are more especially connected with 
your musical education,*' pursued Mrs. Grayson, 
'' which, of course, we are perfectly willing that 
you should coatinue; but instead of teaching 
after you are graduated in music, as your father 
suggested, we desire that you should remain with 
us, making this your permanent home. I should 
be glad if you could regard my brother as an un- 
cle, and myself, not as an aunt — but as a mother ; 
that is, I mean look upon us in the sense of that 
relationship toward you, for, indeed, I really 
love you as a daughter, and I'm sure you'll find 
my brother a most genial and warm-hearted un- 
cle. My oldest daughter, Maud, died several 
years ago, and had she lived she would have been 
very nearly your age now. I would have you 
take dear Maud's place in my heart and home." 

Ruth had listened so far in silence, her hands 
tightly clasped, while tears, which she could not 
restrain, rushed to her eyes. The magnanimity 
of Mrs. Grayson's offer, her disinterested love 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 103 

and friendship, and her generous words of trust 
and faith in herself, all these awoke a strange 
thrill in her heart, and for a minute she could 
not speak. When she did it was in a low voice 
of one struggling to get the mastery of herself, 
so that she might say something to relieve her- 
self of the burden of gratitude that overwhelmed 
her. 

" Oh, my dear Mrs. Grayson, I cannot tell you 
how much I thank you; and, indeed, you do not 
know how unworthy I feel for all your goodness. 
When papa died I fear —yes, I was very rebel- 
lious, for it seemed that God had taken from me 
not only my best and dearest friend, but the last 
link that bound me to my earthly home; and 
now, in a short time, and in such an unexpected 
way. He has given me such dear, kind friends, 
a beautiful home, and everything that I could 
ask or wish to make me happy in this life — oh ! 
I do not deserve it I I do not deserve these bless- 
ings, but I shall pray continually that I may not 
abuse them, nor be forgetful ever again of His 
loving-kindness to me." 

'"■ Yes. with His help. Pm sure you will not 
abuse them, dear child; and, I believe, too, that 
we shall get on very happily together, " said Mrs. 
Grayson. '• The money which your father left 
in trust with my brother for you, he will invest 
in some safe securities, and make over the use of 
the interest to you, which you will be privileged 
to spend in such a way as you may think best." 

Ruth looked up with an eager gleam in her 
eyes that made her face shine in spite of its sad- 
ness. 

" Then I would like by all means to expend a 
part, outside of the amount required to supply 



104 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

me with necessary clothing, to complete my mu- 
sical education, and at the same time resume the 
studies I laid down when I was suddenly called 
from school in San Francisco by papa's illness. 
Have you a good school here where I might do 
this?" 

Mrs. Grayson looked at Euth as though she 
were surprised at her question. 

' ' Yes, my dear ; the Moravian Academy. Why, 
child, have you never heard of this famous old 
school ? It is the pride of the two cities, and one 
of the very oldest seats of learning in the South. 
It has a peculiarly interesting history, which 
would make profitable reading, and I hope some 
one may yet write it out and give it to the pub- 
lic in book form. Since its foundation, in 1802, 
it has maintained itself without a single endow- 
ment from any source. 

" A wealthy gentleman, of the Moravian 
church, bestowed a gift of one thousand dollars 
to the Art Department in memory of his infant 
daughter who died some years ago — known as 
the Louise Memorial; and his brother and an- 
other generous-hearted gentleman made valua- 
ble donations to the library. Then there was a 
gentleman from Tennessee who made a similar 
gift, but no special chair has been endowed. 
Recently, however, steps have been taken for 
the establishment of an endowment fund for the 
Academy, an appropriation of several thousand 
dollars being made by the Moravian Synod for 
that purpose ; and this has been supplemented 
by over a thousand dollars from the Academy's 
Alumna3, and about two thousand donated by 
one of the brothers I have mentioned. The.-ie 
amounts, with many donations and legacies that 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 105 

will, very probably, be received, will cause this 
endowment to accumulate rapidly, and the Acad- 
emy doubtless at no distant day will be able to 
boast of being the best endowed institution in 
the South. 

" Now, with regard to the home-life of the 
school, it is made as delightful as possible for the 
pupils, while at the same time strict discipline, 
thorough teaching and practical instruction are 
the rules rigidly adhered to and enforced." 

' ' When does the next term begin ? ' ' asked 
Ruth, ' ' I suppose the school is closed now for the 
summer vacation. ' ' 

" Yes, so it is. The term generally begins 
early in September, and sometimes on the open- 
ing day as many as two hundred or two hundred 
and fifty pupils answer the roll-call. A great 
many years ago the people of the South sent 
their daughters from distant portions of the 
country in carriages, by stages, and even in ox- 
wagons ; but that was before there was a rail- 
road anywhere in the United States." 

Rath looked much surprised. " Oh, how times 
have changed and everything progressed since 
then,'' she said. " It seems hard to realize that 
so much that is really wonderful has been ac- 
complished during the time. I think it would 
be very interesting to know how many pupils 
have been graduated from the Academy since it 
was first established." 

" Oh, that is an easy enough matter to find 
out, for upon the records of the school all the 
names of the pupils who graduate, and those 
who do not, are preserved; and, besides, there 
are many interesting facts relating both to the 
history of the church and school to be found 

8 



l(H\ UNDER GOLDEN SK[ES: OR, 

upon this record. Sometime since the statement 
was given to the pubhc through the press — which 
statement was copied from the correctly-kept 
school record — that more than ten thousand 
Alumna? claim the Academy as their Alma Ma- 
ter, including some of the most distinguished 
ladies of the South, who have gone forth to shed 
an influence upon society, second to none in the 
nation. Amongst them two have been called 
upon to do the honors of the White House — Mrs. 
President Polk and Mrs. Patterson, daughter of 
President Johnson. Mrs. Stonewall Jackson and 
Mrs. Gen. D. H. Hill were also educated there. 

'* >Jany of the old Alumnae occasionally send 
letters to the Academy paper, and to the Alura- 
Uce meeting, which takes place annually during 
commencement week : and this meeting is always 
one of the most charming features of that de- 
lightful occasion. These letters are full of love 
and loyalty and veneration for the school of their 
youth, with messages of encouragement to the 
teachers who have succeeded those of their day 
aud generation." 

" I have read somewhere, that very many of 
the schools and colleges in the South were closed 
during the civil war. Was the Moravian Acad- 
emy closed too ? " asked Ruth. 

" No, the school flourished all through the war. 
Parents sent their daughters there for a safe re- 
treat, knowing that evil was less likely to befall 
them there than elsewhere. When Stoneman's 
raiding party entered the town, the Mayor im- 
mediately surrendered, and together with the 
President of the Academy, asked that a Federal 
guard be stationed around the building for pro- 
tection. This was readily granted, and the teach- 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 107 

eis and scholars continued their duties unmo- 
lested." Mrs. Grayson paused reflectively, then 
said: 

" There is another historical fact connected 
with this old Moravian town which may interest 
you. Daring the Revolutionary War, it seems 
that that was a time of great trouble for the Mo- 
ravians. Having been allowed to hold their own 
views about not bearing arms and taking oaths, 
they were sometimes subjected to many disa- 
greeable indignities. Sometimes the Continen- 
tals, sometimes the British traveled through the 
settlement, entailing many losses upon the peo- 
ple. After Cornwallis surrendered and peace was 
declared, his whole army passed through the 
town en route to Virginia. ' ' 

''Certainly they had some unhappy experi- 
ences — I mean the Moravians — but it seems they 
have come safely out of them all," said Ruth, 
thoughtfully. 

' ' Yes, I believe they have, ' ' said Mrs. Gray- 
son. " One afternoon next week we will drive 
past the Academy, so you can see the buildings ; 
but I don't think you will have an opportanity 
to go over the grounds and park in the rear till 
the school opens in the fall. The new Academy 
was erected on the site of the old congregation 
house, joining the Academy building on one side 
and connected with the church by a covered pas- 
sage-way on the other, built during the year 
1854. The main building alone presents a front 
of one hundred feet — opening directly on the 
street from the broad portico, built in the Doric 
style of architecture — four stories in height, a 
massive pile constructed of pressed red brick. 
There are north and south wings, broad halls and 



108 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

well-ventilated rooms, by means of trunk venti- 
lators, four of which run up from the lower floors, 
extending above the roof. From these trunks, 
the different rooms are connected by branches. 
The buildings are supphed with gas and water 
throughout, and heated by large wood stoves, 
providing an even temperature during severe 
weather. 

' ' The broad front doors of the Academy are 
seldom opened except on grand occasions, as 
visitors are received at the President's house, in 
the rear of which is one of the most beautiful 
parks to be found anywhere. The Principars 
house is a gray brick building on the left of the 
square, and opposite the Moravian church.'' 
:/^ Just then the wind swayed out the lace cur- 
tain from its fastening, and while Mrs. Grayson 
was putting it back, Ruth asked ; 

' ' Do you think I can secure as good a musical 
education at the Academy as if I went abroad ? 
Papa was anxious that I should go to the Paris 
Conservatory, and I suppose I should have gone 
there had he lived." 

" Yes," said Mrs. Grayson. " So far as actual 
education in music goes, I don't believe there is 
the least necessity to go away from here to get 
it, in any branch of the art. You know that a 
great many first-rate teachers from Europe have 
come and settled in this country, helping to 
maintain and raise the standard. Where for- 
merly there was one good teacher, there are now 
ten, and indeed the number of pupils has in- 
creased to even greater extent. I am sure you 
will find at the Academy here teachers of great 
skill and distinction, who are thorough masters 
of their instruments and of musical composition. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 109 

The orchestral coDcerts, which are given at the 
Academy from time to time, cannot be surpassed, 
and their choruses can hold their own with the 
best in the country," 

" But don't you think that when one has fin- 
ished his or her musical studies in this country, 
it is an advantage to spend some time abroad, 
especially in Germany, where the devotion to 
art for the art's sake is more intense and general 
than in this new country, and where the musical 
traditions and environments are so strong? " 

Ruth asked the question with much serious 
earnestness, somehow hoping that Mrs. Grayson 
would verify her opinion on the subject. 

" Well, yes; I suppose so," answered Mrs. 
Grayson, candidly. " The prestige which Eu- 
ropean travel and study afford, by reason of the 
prejudice in favor of everything foreign, must 
not be overlooked. Unquestionably, there is a 
certain prestige we all acknowledge for the stu- 
dent and professor of music, in the fact that he 
has studied abroad." 

Ruth did not give a direct answer to Mrs. 
Grayson, but said a little abruptly, " I should 
like to study Italian, too, because I believe it is 
the most appropriate and helpful language in the 
study of vocal art; and French, German and 
elocution also, I should like to take up again. ' ' 

" Thorough instruction in all these branches 
can be had at the Academy; but I'm afraid the 
hne of arduous study that you have marked out 
for yourself will heavily tax both your time and 
strength ; so I warn you in the outset, that as 
soon as I detect any evil effects from overwork, 
I shall put in a vigorous protest, and enforce it, 
too," laughed Mrs. Grayson, softly. 



110 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

She rose from her seat, and went up to Ruth 
and put her hand on her shoulder. 

*' Would you mind playing one or two pieces 
for me, dear ? I am very anxious to hear you 
play and sing, too; but I shall not ask you to 
sing ; you may do so if you will, ' ' Mrs. Grayson 
added, with delicate consideration for her late 
sorrow. 

" Of course I will play and sing for you, too, 
if you desire it, " ' she returned, with a sweet, sad 
smile, always forgetful of herself or her own 
feelings when it was in her power to give others 
pleasure, or when she thought she could be use- 
ful to those around her. 

Ruth sat down upon the stool and raised her 
hands to the key-board. All at once the recol- 
lection of her recent bereavement was borne in. 
upon her in such an overwhelming degree as to 
make her almost lose her self-control. She 
clasped her hands together, and somethmg like 
a sob escaped her. 

The sight of the open instrument recalled to 
her so vividly the last time she had touched a 
piano. 

With a masterful effort she recovered herself, 
and again raising her hands to the board, grace- 
fully swept her fingers over the ivory keys. The 
touch was exquisite. Mrs. G-rayson suddenly 
looked up. 

" Is there any special piece you wish me to 
play?" Ruth asked, quietly turning to her, 
while a shadow as of some painful memory still 
hovered over her sweet face. 

" No — well, yes — there was a piece; I have 
been looking for it, but I cannot find it. I must 
have lent it to some one, and it has not been re- 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. Ill 

turned. But play anything you like, child," said 
Mrs. Grayson, sitting down near the piano. 

Euth turned to the instrument again, and for 
a moment absently let her fingers wander over 
the keys. Then, as if utterly unconscious of 
time and place, a sudden inspiration seemed to 
come to her, and she played as she had rarely 
played before. 

" You have taken me completely by surprise, 
child,'' said Mrs. Grayson, w^hen Ruth had ceased 
playing, and let her hands slip from the keys to 
her lap. " I do not know when I have enjoyed 
such a musical treat. What more is there for 
you to learn about music,'' she added, enthusi- 
astically. 

'* Oh, so much that I do not yet know. I am 
by no means satisfied with my present attain- 
ment, and am so eager to learn more. But I fear 
I shall never reach that point, even after years 
of unremitting study, where I can safely cease 
the battle, and cry — victory! for there yet re- 
mains a great deal for me to learn. Now shall 
I sing something, too ? '' 

" I shall be pleased to hear you, if you are not 
too tired." 

"Oh, no,'' she returned, brightening, "I'm 
not tired at all. I am so devoted to music that 
I quite forget myself when I am playing. ' ' 

She turned to the piano, played a few chords, 
and the next moment began to sing. She sang 
superbly. Every note was true and clear, every 
phrase full of expression. As one delicious mel- 
ody after another filled the room, each marked 
by a depth of earnestness and noble enthusiasm, 
Mrs. Grayson's bewilderment deepened into the 
sincerest admiration and enjoyment. 



112 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

The full, sweet cadence had floated out through 
the open window, and when she finished and 
looked round at some unusual stir in the room, 
she found herself in the centre of an entranced 
circle of hearers whom she had drawn to her, 
fascinated and held spell-bound by her matchless 
voice. 

Mrs. Grayson was the first to speak. 

" Dear child, you sing divinely. God has in- 
deed given you a marvelous gift, and every day 
you should thank Him for it ; and, too, for that 
depth of religious feeling which He has deeply 
implanted in your heart, without which com- 
plete success in your art would have been unat- 
tainable, however admirable the musical skill is 
present in your voice. I believe the truth of the 
fact can be easily proved by many a one's indi- 
vidual experience of singers. ' 

'• Thank you, Mrs. Grayson; it is very kind of 
you to say these things ; and I am very glad, 
too, that I have been the means of giving you 
pleasure; and my other hearers, one of whom I 
have not seen before, ' ' she said, as she got up 
and moved across the room where Aunt Milly 
sat, just within the doorway, swaying her body 
back and forth in the abandon of her ecstacy, 
while the tears coursed down her dusky cheeks. 
Julia stood leaning up against the doorway, with 
Virgil on the opposite side, while Nellie, who had 
been standing immediately behind Ruth, in her 
eager, impulsive way, clasped her about her 
waist, telling her that she sang ' ' perfectly beau- 
tiful — just like Dot, her pet canary." 

"This -is Aunt Milly, I believe. I am glad to 
see you. I hope you are well." 

" God bless you, honey, an' the Lord be prais'd. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 113 

I been listen' to your beautiful sing;in\ an', 
for shure, I never 'spected to hear the like of 
such beyan' the Golden Gates of Heben. Oh, 
chile — " Aunt Milly broke off abruptly, she 
was so overcome with her emotion that she could 
not speak for a little while, but she rose to her 
feet and presently said in a choked voice, "some- 
time, chile, I'll talk to you; now I can't; I jes' 
can't." She wiped her eyes with the back of 
her hand, gave Ruth a grateful look and left the 
room. 

Very soon the dinner bell rang and Nellie ran 
in to pilot Ruth to the dining-room. 

Late that afternoon Ruth came down-stairs. 
After taking a few turns up and down the long, 
cool veranda, which was dimmed by the shade 
of the trelliscd rose-vine, she sat down to enjoy 
the beauty of the scene before her. Every now 
and then, far down the street, a sound reached 
her ear. which at first she did not comprehend, 
but as it drew near, she heard more distinctly 
the repeated cry, "Daily! Daily!" then for a 
few moments it seemed to have ceased altogether. 
" Daily ! '' suddenly the voice screamed in a shrill 
tone, startlingly near, and Ruth started from her 
seat and looked around. Seeing the little bare- 
foot carrier patiently holding out a paper toward 
her, which he had pulled from the compact bun- 
dle he carried under his arm, and staring hard 
at her, she rose at once and came to the edge 
of the veranda. 

' ' Must you leave one here ? ' ' she asked, tak- 
ing the paper from his begrimed hands. 

" Oh, yes; the doctor takes it. He couldn't 
do without The Sentinel. I was late getting 
round this evening. The press got out of fix. " 



114 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

After volunteering this j^iece of iuforraatioii. 
he turned briskly away, muttering something to 
himself, which Ruth overheard, and which made 
her smile. 

" By golly, she's pretty as a pink/' Then with 
careless, swinging strides he went down the 
walk whistling '' Annie Eoony," which he in- 
terluded at regulai- intervals with "Daily ! Daily ! ' ' 
as he delivered his papers from door to door. 
Gradually the sound grew fainter and fainter, 
and finally faded away altogether. 

As Ruth turned and walked back to her seat 
she glanced down wi^h quiet indifference at the 
paper she held in her hand; but as she was in 
the act of folding it up, her own name in the list 
of " Personals, " caught her eye, and the next 
moment she was alert with curiosity and inter- 
est. She read : ' ' Mrs. Helen Grayson, who went 
to New York with her son, who has sailed for 
Europe, returned home last night accompanied 
by Miss Ruth Arnold, of California, Dr. Leslie's 
beautiful ward.'' 

As a rule people like best the papers they are 
accustomed to read, and sometimes find it rather 
tedious to read any other. But The Sentinel all 
at once became imbued with a new interest to 
Ruth, and she read it quite through before she 
folded it, and returned to the sitting-room. 



IN THE XEW ELDORADO. 115 



CHAPTER IX. 

One morning, three days later, as Ruth was 
coming dovvn-staiis in answer to the late break- 
fast bell, Nellie waylaid her. 

' * How sweet you do look this morning. Cousin 
Ruth," she cried. " Now, just guess who came 
last night. I shan't tell you." 

Ruth laughed; ''I'm not clever at guessing, 
Nellie: but 1*11 make a venture. Was it vour 
Uncle Ralph •? " 

' ' Oh, who told you "? ' ' 

" No one: but I knew your mother had been 
expecting him home, and of course supposed 
that it was he." 

" Now come right on in tlie dining-room and 
see him," Nellie said, catching her by the hand. 
" You know Uncle Ralph is the best and grand- 
est man in all the world, and I want you to see 
him. Breakfast is ready, too." 

Dr. Leslie was standi ug beside the window 
deeply absorbed in his paper, but looked up just 
then, as he caught the rustling sound of a wo- 
man's garment. 

" I beg your pardon," he said, " I did not see 
you when you first entered the room. It seems 
quite needless to ask how you are this morning, 
since you are looking so well." 

He took her hand in his as he spoke, and there 
was something in his elegant, easy bearing which 
set her entirely at her ease at once. 

" Thank you. I am quite well, and really feel 
better than any day since my arrival. You seem 
to have a nice climate, and it is much more 
pleasant here than I had hoped to find it at this 
season of the year. ' ' 



116 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

" Yes, as pleasant here as you'll find it almost 
anywhere. Has Mrs. Grayson taken you out 
driving yet, so you might see something of our 
pretty town ? ' ' 

' ' No, there have been visitors to call constantly 
since we came, except one afternoon, when she 
went to see a little sick child, so she has not had 
an opportunity to do so." Ruth spoke with that 
unconventional and winsome frankness which 
was one of her greatest charms, and which her 
guardian so much admired. 

" Then if you have no engagement with Mrs. 
Grayson this afternoon. I shall be glad to take 
you out in some of the pleasant parts of our city, 
and in the suburbs, too, where we have some 
specially fine drives." 

" No, I have no engagement to go out with 
Mrs. Grayson this afternoon, and shall be pleased 
to go with you. ' ' she said, simply. 

After recounting the experiences of his pleas- 
ant sojourn in Philadelphia for the last few days, 
he turned to Mrs. Grayson and asked, " Well, 
have you decided where you'll go this summer — 
to the mountains or seashore ? ' ' 

Mrs. Grayson looked quickly up at her brother, 
then glanced toward Ruth. 

" Really, I haven't thought much about it 
since my return; but I believe I'm rather in- 
clined to favor the mountains this summer. We 
might spend two or three weeks at Asheville, 
take in the Warm Springs. Roan Mountains, 
Blowing Rock and Waynes ville White Sulphur 
Springs. The latter place is such a delightful 
summer resort, and we can be so quiet and re- 
tired there, that we might spend most of the 
time at the White Sulphur." 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. IIT 

"'■ I think your- program is a very pleasant and 
enticing one, ' ' said Dr. Leslie ; ' ' but what does 
Miss Euth say ? " 

" Oh, I shall be happy to accede to any plan 
that Mrs. Grayson may suggest. I should like 
to see your mountain scenery. Since I've read 
Christian Reid's book, 'The Land of the Sky,' 
I am more curious than ever to see the places 
which she depicts in such glowing terms. But 
has she not greatly exaggerated them, in her de- 
scriptions ? ' ' 

" Not at all," emphatically responded Dr. Les- 
lie. " I don't think it possible for any one to do 
our mountain scenery justice in a pen-sketch. 
No picture is like it, and the richest delineations 
of glowing fancy in prose and verse, have fallen 
far behind it. You know that the mountain 
scenery of North Carolina, because of its gran- 
deur and sublimity, has been called the Switzer- 
land of America, Undoubtedly, for splendor, 
beauty and variety our mountains will compare 
with any in the United States." 

Nellie handed him her glass just then, and he 
paused to pour her some milk, then resumed : 

" It is a well-known fact that North Carolina 
has more popular seaside and mountain resorts 
than any other individual State, as well as a 
greater variety of gems and precious stones. Yes, 
I'm sure you'll find at any of the places that 
Mrs. Grayson has mentioned, picturesque scen- 
ery, good society and delightful climate at this 
time of year; and most of them are easily acces- 
sible, too," 

There was no surer way of arousing Dr. Leslie's 
enthusiasm than by speaking of his native State, 
or whatever concerned her. 



118 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

" After that emphatic endorsement, Ruth, I 
fancy we have nothing more to say, but that 
we'll go," laughed Mrs. Grayson. 

"lam ready at any time," answered Ruth, 
smiling. 

' ' How soon do you think you can get off ? " 
he asked ; ' ' best not to put it off too long. ' ' 

" In about a week or two, I suppose. We'll 
begin to feel the heat uncomfortably here by 
that time, and then we'll better appreciate the 
mountain breezes, as well as the scenery," re- 
turned Mrs. Grayson. 

" I think we've had some right uncomfortable 
days already, ' ' said Dr. Leslie, making a move- 
ment to leave the table. 

" Well, one thing is very certain, Mamma," 
broke in Nellie at last, with a rueful pout ; " I 
don't intend to stay behind with Aunt Rachel 
this time. Now, aren't you going to let me go 
with you ? Please do. Mamma!" she wailed, one 
moment rebellious, the next supjDlicating. She 
had made repeated attempts before this to get in 
a word edgewise, but her mother had managed 
to silence her by a look and a reproving shake of 
the head, and thus had kept her in the back- 
ground. 

" Why, certainly, pet," laughed Dr. LesHe; 
" all that has been settled, and I'm the one to 
stay behind this time." 

" Oh, no. Uncle Ralph; you've got to go too," 
exclaimed Nellie, quickly. " I tell you, you'll 
have an awful time if you stay with Aunt Ra- 
chel. You see when I stayed with her, Carl 
promised me — " 

She stopped short — looked up — then medita- 
tively down at her plate a moment, and looking 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 119 

eagerly up again, her shining blue eyes flashing 
with a new light. 

' ' Oh, Mamma, Carl has forgotten his promise. 
He told me before he went away, if I would be 
a good little girl and stay with Aunt Rachel till 
you came back from New York, he would send 
me something real nice by Uncle Ralph ; some- 
thing that I wanted ever so much, and now he 
has forgotten — " 

' ' Where shall I take the box that the express 
wagon has just delivered, sir ? " interrupted Vir- 
gil, appearing in the doorway, and addressing 
Dr. Leslie. 

" To whom is the box addressed, Virgil ? " 

" To Miss Nellie Grayson, sir." 

" Wooden box, is it ? " 

'' Yes, sir." 

" You may take it round to the rear veranda," 
said Dr. Leslie, and he glanced at Nellie, smiling. 

Virgil hesitated a moment, made a low salute, 
then noiselessly vanished. 

Meanwhile Nellie's eyelashes had crej^t up, 
and with an incredulous stare, she looked from 
her uncle to her mother in utter dismay. Then 
with a prolonged gasp of " — h,"' she drew in 
her breath with a nervous start, sprang from her 
seat, and fled from the room, upsetting her chair 
with a loud crash in her hurried flight. 

With a hammer and chisel and ringing blows, 
Virgil was making vigorous efforts to remove 
the securely fastened lid, while Nellie impa- 
tiently pranced and tiptoed all around the box, 
every now and again urging Virgil to hurry. 

" bh, see, Mamma: a dear little saddle. Isn't 
it perfectly lovely. Uncle Ralph ? I've been 
wanting one so long, and just like this one. 



120 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

Cousin Ruth, you may ride on it, too : Carl said 
he would send nie something I wanted, and I'm 
so glad he sent me this little saddle — the dear, 
cute little thing." 

" What must I do with these. Miss Nellie? " 
said Virgil, holding up a blue-ribboned, silver- 
mounted bridle, and the daintiest riding-whip, 
with a blue silk tassel dangling from the pearl 
horse-head handle. 

In her eagerness to get at the saddle she had 
overlooked these. 

' ' Oh, they go with the saddle, of course, " ' she 
said, hastily taking them in her arms. '' Look, 
Mamma, the blue reins and tassel match the 
blue plush seat on the saddle. Don't you think 
they are just lovely, Aunt Milly?'' she cried, 
struggling across the porch with the saddle in 
her arms, the stirrup clinking against the floor 
at every step, and then piled the whole in Aunt 
Milly's lap, where she sat on the door-step. 

Meanwhile Mrs. Grayson and Ruth had re- 
turned to the sitting-room, and ten minutes later 
Dr. Leslie had ordered his horse and rode away 
in another part of the city to visit his patients, 
some of whom had recovered during his absence, 
and others were convalescent. 

He had an extensive practice, and a large part 
of it was among the laboring class, whose confi- 
dence he heid. and whose lives it was his chief 
aim to brighten. Here, he had a broad scope for 
his work. One needed not a long acquaintance 
with him before perceiving that profound senti- 
ment of manly honor, that reverence for all 
truth, loftiness and purity, which made him es- 
sentially the warm-hearted, generous and sym.- 
pathetic man that he was. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 121 

It was half-past five o'clock that afternoon 
when Julia tapped at Ruth's door with a mes- 
sage from the ' ' Master of the Manor. ' ' 

Euth was sitting heside the window writing 
when she came in, but she glanced quickly up 
with a look of pleased expectation in her face. 
She had not forgotten her engagement to go 
driving with her guardian, and she was just 
wondering if a long round of visits to his patients 
had not forced him to cancel it; now it 
seemed that Julia had come in answer to her 
silent thoughts. She could not help smiling into 
the girl's face as she hesitated to make known 
her errand. 

" Miss Ruth, Dr. Leslie wants to know if you 
will be ready to go driving with him at six 
o'clock':'" she said, briefly, evidently relieved 
that she had got it out at last. 

' ' Oh, certainly. It will take me but a little 
while to get ready. ' ' 

Ruth carefuUy arranged her beautiful hair, 
exchanged the soft, silky dress she had on for a 
little heavier one, and putting on her hat and 
gloves descended to the sitting-room. She glanced 
expectantly around as she entered, but it was 
empty. Then she walked to the window and 
just" then saw her guardian coming up the walk, 
fanning himself with his hat. A slight rain had 
faUen an hour before, but now the sun had come 
out brightly, sparkling the emerald lawn and 
trees and making that iridescent beauty of dis- 
tance and atmosphere which was enchanting. 

" We shall have a pleasant afternoon for our 
drive," said Dr. Leslie, as he entered the room 
through the open window. " I was afraid this 
morning that we should find the dust as well as 

9 



122 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

the heat uncomfortably disagreeable; but since 
the rain there is nothing more to be desired. ' ' 

" Yes, it seems delightful since the shower." 
Then after a pause, she said, ' ' Dr. Leslie, I hope 
I'm not interfering with any of your professional 
arrangements, by accepting your kind offer to 
take me driving this afternoon. ' ' 

""Oh. no, child; I have no special calls for the 
rest of the day, and this is a recreation which I 
hope we shall boch enjoy." 

Ruth smiled at his fatherly way of addressing 
her, and which he did apparently with perfect 
unconsciousness. 

She walked up to him directly, and in her 
naive, confiding way, held out her hands to him. 
with a gesture which no one could have resisted. 
He enclosed them in a cordial clasp. 

" Dr. Leslie, I have a favor to ask of you." 
she said, with that beautiful sjnile peculiar to 
her, while her srweet lips trembled. " WiU you 
grant it ? " 

For the moment he seemed to forget every- 
thing, save the extraordinary spell of her peer- 
less beauty; yet instinctively he felt that she 
would make no request that was indiscreet or 
unreasonable, and so he might safely promise. 
" Yes, certainly I will; I am altogether at your 
service," he answered, smiling down into the 
lovely eyes, while his own softened and grew 
very tender, and a deep, yearning passion, which 
he was powerless to master, suffused every fea- 
ture. Every word she spoke was like an electric 
touch upon his heart. 

" Well. I want you to call me Ruth, and treat 
me in many respects as you do Nellie. Papa used 
to call me Little Ruth — he rarely called me any- 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 123 

thing else ; and, somehow, I do not know why, 
but I cannot bear for you to call me Miss Ruth." 

She withdrew her hands from his and glanced 
up shyly at him from under her long, dark lashes. 
All at once it occurred to her that perhaps she 
had acted too boldly and presumptuously in tak- 
ing this step; but the bright smile that over- 
spread her guardian's face reassured her. 

" Well, Ruth, it shall be just as you wish; and 
now if I reprove and scold you sometimes as I do 
Nelhe, you promise that you'll not feel that I'm 
assuming undue authority, and I shall not be 
called upon to make amends?" He had pur- 
posely adopted a humorous tone, though it was 
full of sweetness and affection. 

'' Yes, indeed, I'll promise; but I shall try to 
be very patient and obedient, so you'll have no 
cause to scold me." Then she asked, glancing 
toward the clock, '' But isn't it time we were 
going?" 

Dr. Leslie took out his watch, compared its 
time with the clock. "Six o'clock, " he said, 
with apparent surprise ; ' ' yes, we would better 
go."' 

On the veranda, as they came out, they en- 
countered Mrs. Grayson, holding in her hand a 
shallow tray-like basket of freshly cut roses, 
with which she was going to dress the vases. 

'' Wouldn't you better take a light wrap, dear ? 
It may be cooler when you return," she said. 

" I do not think I shall need it. My dress is 
sufficiently warm, as I put on a thick one." 

Mrs. Grayson selected several of her choicest 
rose-buds, and shaking the rain-drops off of them, 
handed them to Ruth. 

" Take these, dear. They hava a delicious odor. 



124 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

Now, I'll not detain you any longer. I hope you 
will enjoy your ride — good-bye."' 

The pony phaeton w^as already at the door. Dr. 
Leslie helped Ruth in; and when she had taken 
her seat, he leaned over and tucked the pretty 
afghan, embroidered in yellow daisies, and then 
getting in himself, turned the vehicle skilfully 
around the narrow curve, and drove briskly off 
down the broad, shaded street in the direction of 
the famous old Moravian town. 

For a few seconds Mrs. Grayson stood gazing 
reflectively after the departing carriage, and the 
next moment her mental vision took the form of 
a vivid reminiscence, and strangely conflicting- 
things. If Ralph had been other than he were, 
she might have taken this occasion to exalt her 
own superior foresight in prophesying a tenderer 
relationship, at some future day, than mere 
friendly regard, between her generous, noble- 
hearted brother and his beautiful ward with all 
her unaffected, delightfully womanly ways. 

But Mrs. Grayson was one who did not jump 
at conclusions, and declined to read between the 
lines, especially in this instance. She was con- 
tent to w^ait whatever the future might unfold. 
Then her eyes suddenly became infinitely soft 
and tender in response to some emotions that 
moved her soul, and she turned and walked 
slowly into the house. 



T\ THE NEAV ELDORADO. 1:^5 



CH.4PTER X. 

Two or three squares were rapidly passed, and 
then Dr. Leslie checked his horse to a slower 
pace. " If we travel at this rate," he said, " I 
shall Dot be able to point out to you some of the 
places of interest I wish to show you. There are 
quite a number of things worth your while to 
see. and which I think will interest you. ' ' 

A short distance brought them opposite a 
handsome brick church, with a tall metal-crested 
steeple and stained Gothic windo\\s. The space 
in front was trimly laid off in closely shaven 
grass plats and circling walks, reached from the 
smoothly paved street by a short flight of granite 
steps on either side and in the centre of the 
square space. 

" That is the First Presbyterian church, not 
long ago completed, and the second one ever 
built in this county. The old one that was re 
moved to make place for this was the first one." 
His eyes were traveling over the building, when 
Ruth asked, because she wished to say some- 
thing, ' ' Who is its present pastor '? ' ' 

" Mr. Darcy. But it is said that he expects to 
resign this charge before very long to accept an- 
other further south. He has done very much 
toward building up the church since he has been 
here, and his congregation, and in fact everyone 
who knows him, will part from him with sincere 
regret. He and his family occupy the little 
manse on the left of the church — just there." 
He inclined his head in the direction of the 
house. Ruth glanced at the two-storied brown 
cottage, scanning it steadily as they drove past, 



126 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES ; OR, 

then looked down the street along which they 
were leisurely diiving. 

The houses on either side were mostly modern 
structures, with an occasional old landmark sand- 
wiched between them, and many were very 
handsome. Those on the right side of the street 
especially had spacious, well-kept lawns in front, 
tastily arranged in pretty shrubbery ai-d flowers, 
while over a number of the dooways and front- 
ages ran graceful vines, the foliage of which 
jealously screened from the summer sun rich 
clusters of fragrant blossoms. 

A little further down they passed into the old 
Moravian town, where the street began to slope 
gently downward, and at the foot of which stood 
a large brick building that in the perspective 
seemed to bar their further progress. 

The sidewalks were notably clean, and here 
and there Vv^ell shaded, and now the charm of 
the ancient street began to appear. 

At the end of it, on the left, was a pretty two- 
storied stuccoed residence with hooded windows 
and cornices of brown pilasters. Dr. Leslie was 
driving past it very slowly, so that Ruth might 
see the beauty of the grounds. A beautiful 
lawn fell gently downward, through which ran 
a winding graveled driveway, exquisitely shaded 
by low-branched elms, white pine and spruce, 
while two magnificent oaks on either side of the 
house in front cast their dense shade over a vast 
breadth of the dark green space. Rustic seats 
of metal braced their high backs against the 
lichened trunks of the trees, and large white 
urns, filled with growing plants, stood near the 
steeply terraced entrance in front, while half 
way down the green expanse a gracefully posed 



IX THE NEW ELDORADO. 127 

marble figure, life-size and representing " Si- 
lence, ' ' lent additional and suggestive grace to 
the scene. 

A low fence, sectioning off the lawn from a 
disused play-ground now given over to beautiful 
decay, and running parallel with it, was en- 
tirely tapestried with English honeysuckle in 
the most picturesque profusion. 

Presently Ruth caught a glimpse of some- 
thing white and silvery moving about on the 
green lawn. It was a pair of snow-white pig- 
eons, that strutted cooing in the pensive silence, 
but suddenly at some disturbing noise flew up 
and alighted on the shoulder of the silent figure, 
about which a shaft of sunlight fell, bringing it 
into bold relief amidst the dreamy twilight 
which invaded the beautiful place even at this 
hour. 

As they turned into another street and came 
opposite some large brick buildings which had 
about them the air and sound of busy life, Dr. 
Leslie said: 

"Here are the Arista Cotton Mill and the Wa- 
chovia Flouring Mills, and from the high grade 
of goods which is made at these places the firm 
and mills have such a reputation that it is almost 
impossible to fill the numerous orders which 
they receive from all sections of the country. 
The Arista Cotton Mill is one of the largest in 
the State, and contains about five thousand one 
hundred and eighty-four spindles and one hun- 
dred and eighty looms, and turns out ginghams, 
plaid, white and colored shirting of the very 
best grade." 

At that moment a whiff of wind bore to them 
a pungent odor, which though familiar, Ruth 
did not at first recognize. 



128 ■ UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

"It is gas, ' ' said Dr. Leslie, in answer to 
Ruth's puzzled look; ''and here are the gas 
works to the left, which belong to the owners 
of the Mills — and besides they have their owm 
fire-pump and waterworks. The Mills are 
thickly covered with water-pipes and automatic 
sprinklers. In fact, their Mills and Woollen 
Factory are suppUed with all kinds of modern 
machinery and conveniences; with ample capi- 
tal to carry on their business, of course there is 
no telling what results they will yet achieve. 
And over there, beyond the gasworks,"' Dr. 
Leslie went on, " are the Woollen Mills that 
turn out a certain high grade of jeans that is 
almost world renowned for its durability and 
excellent finish. ' ' Ruth looked at him, perhaps 
a little increduously, to which Dr. Leslie said, 
smiling ; 

"Yes, it may seem a little strange to you that 
such things should exist right here, but these 
good people never make any ' blow ' — if I may 
colloquially express it — about anything they 
have or undertake: one has to find out their 
good works from others. The firm ship many 
of their goods to China, Japan and other foreign 
countries — though they are hardly able to suj)ply 
the immense home consumption." 

This idea was amazing to Ruth, as Dr. 
Leslie could see from her countenance, and pres- 
ently she acknowledged as much. 

" This firm was the first to introduce electric 
lights into their mills," he continued; "and 
you should see the cotton factory especially 
when lighted up at night. It makes a very 
brilliant sight." 

I can imagine so, ' ' said Ruth. "It is so 



a 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 1"2!> 

large and has so many windows. I think it 
must be very trying to work all day amidst the 
incessant whirl of the machinery and breathe the 
lint and oil-tainted atmosphere, as those factory 
girls do." 

" Yes. as a rule, I believe the condition of the 
factory girl is a pitiful one,'' said Dr. Leslie; 
' ' but here, I have reason to believe, is an excep- 
tion to the general rule. The best and wisest 
efforts are put forth by the employers to brighten 
and make cheerful the busy lives of these girls. 
Now, over there." he added, pointing his 
whip to a row of brick cottages, " are the houses 
occupied by those who work in these factories. 
They pay a small rent for them, and the land- 
lords keep them in good repair. There are 
others, on another street, which you cannot see 
from here, but they are equally as neat and com- 
fortable. " 

Ruth turned and looked at him, just then, 
with a curious little smile which he could not 
interpret. " Excuse me, but isn't it somewhere 
in this neighborhood that you promised to show 
me the first building which was erected in this 
old town — or have we passed it ? " 

" No, we have not. i am glad you reminded 
me of it, since I had quite forgotten to point it 
out to you. It is over there, to the right, and 
quite hidden under those clumps of trees," he 
said, indicating the place with his whip. 

" It was built by Gottfried Aust in 1772, and 
many years used for a pottery. All kinds of 
articles for domestic use, tiles for covering- 
houses, tile stoves, and many ornamental ar- 
ticles were once manufactured there. Clay pipes 
are still made there. As many as fifteen hun- 



130 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

dred are made a day, and shipped North as far 
as Baltimore and Philadelphia, and as far South 
as Mobile, Alabama." 

"From its general appearance, I am sure no 
one would be inclined to dispute the statement 
that it is the oldest house in the place, ' ' said 
Ruth, looking curiously at the quaint old build- 
ing. 

Seeing that Ruth was interested in this an- 
cient landmark, he said : 

" There is an old house on Buffalo Creek, in 
this county, which is probably the oldest in the 
State. It was built before the Revolutionary 
War, but the exact year of its building is not 
known. It is a log house, about eighteen by 
twenty feet in size, and is still in a good state 
of preservation. It was built by a man who 
had a narrow escape from the Indians. It seems 
that his father's house was attacked one night 
by the Indians, but by some strategem he man- 
aged to escape with his wife and three children 
to the woods. Here he concealed one of the 
boys in a hollow log, while he and his wife and 
other two children fled to a fort which then 
stood on or near what is the site of Old Town. 
The boy left concealed in the log was rescued, 
and is said to have been the one who built the 
house. He owned an immense area of land, 
and tradition has it that he once gave six hun- 
dred acres of land near Walnut Cove for a sin- 
gle-barreled shot-gun. In those times it seems 
that guns were more valuable than land," he 
said, smiling. 

" Is the old fort you alluded to at Old Town 
still standing V" asked Ruth. "• If it is, I should 
like very much to visit it some day. ' ' 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 131 

' ' No, it was torn down about eighteen years 
ago, and some of the best timbers brought here 
and used in erecting the residence of a gentle- 
man in another part of the city. The beams 
used for this purpose are sweetgum and oak and 
are of different sizes. There are a quantity of 
large, rude hand- wrought nails in the frames 
used in the construction of this residence—nails 
made by the early Moravian settlers, about one 
hundred and thirty-five years ago. Now, as there 
is no chance of your seeing the old fort as it 
stood, the next best thing, I would suggest, is 
for you to see some of its historic timbers in 
Mr Worth's residence. I know Mr. Worth well. 
He is a prosperous tobacconist in our city, and 
is a high-toned, pubhc-spirited, Christian gentle- 
man. I am sure he will take great pleasure in 
showing you these relics or timbers from the old 
Indian fort." 

' ' I shall be glad to avail myself of your sug- 
gestion," said Ruth. 

Dr. Leshe touched up Hector, and presently 
they turned into the main thoroughfare and 
drove down the long street, shaded by stately 
ancient elms. Here all was so perfectly peace- 
ful and quiet, that Ruth was penetrated by the 
spell of this quaint and beautiful place. It was 
such a pretty illusion of hers to think that they 
were driving into a veritable land of rest. 
Every sense seemed in perfect harmony with 
her archaic surroundings, and somehow a sweet 
peace stole into her heart, and her face melted 
in an unconscious smile. She wondered if her 
guardian shared her peculiar feelings. At that 
moment he glanced at her flushed face, and was 
pleased to see the dream-like look of happiness 



132 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

that had come into her grave, sad eyes, but he 
felt no inclination to interrupt her sweet revery. 

As they reached the Square, which was sur- 
rounded by a cordon of rugged elms, intermin- 
gled with magniticent, silvery sycamores, the 
sun was faUing aslant to the west, but through 
the interweaving boughs spears of sunlight fil- 
tered down, making exquisite lace-work of shade 
on the soft green turf. In the center was a 
fountain, which was idle now, but the bronze 
storks with drooping heads seemed to keep per- 
petual vigil within the circular basin of tranquil 
water, and suggestively hold themselves in read- 
iness for duty at a moment's notice. The radi- 
ating aisles intersecting the Square were filled 
with a gleaming whiteness, dappled here and 
there with little flickering shadows. 

On the right, facing the Square, was the 
Widows' House, the first substantial brick build- 
ing erected in the town, and afterwards enlarged 
with the addition of a wooden structure. It had 
been formerly used as a Brothers' House. These 
facts Dr. Leslie briefly rceounted to Euth as 
they drove slowly down the street. 

''It is said that the Widows' House had its 
ghostly visitant. " he continued with a smile, 
"as most old houses are said to have, but of 
course none of the present inhabitants have ever 
seen his ghostship, and even refuse to believe 
the superstition; but still they like to teU the 
story to the curious who are fond of turning 
over the dust of years and peeping into past 
mysteries. ' ' 

' ' I think I am curious enough to want to hear 
it. too," said Ruth, and she raised her sweet 
questioning eyes to his face. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 133 



" Then I will tell you, " he said. " That is, as 
much as I know of it. The legend of ' The Lit- 
tle Red Man, ' as it is called, was written up for 
the Century several years ago, and the author's 
mother then occupied rooms at the Widows' 
Hoase. The story goes that a workman, while 
excavating for its cellar, was killed by a rock 
crushing out his life. At the time he was at- 
tired in a red shirt and skull cap, and one of the 
inmates of the building long years afterwards 
declared she met him on the staircase, sure.*' 

'* Sure '? " repeated Ruth, so earnestly that Dr. 
Leslie laughed. 

" So says the legend,"" he said. " But we'll 
drive further down to the old hotel, or ' tavern,' 
as it was familiarly termed long years ago ; and 
where, too, a veritable ghost is said to have 
made its appearance more than half a century 
past; and besides, it is a place of great interest 
to strangers by virtue of the tragedies that have 
occurred beneath its roof; and the fact that 
there is a room held sacred in the old building 
where George Washington slept during his visit 
here in May, 1791. It was the social center of 
the town then, and the customary resort of the 
burghers, who regularly congregated about the 
large fireplace of the public room in winter, or 
on the long veranda in summer, to discuss the 
affairs of the place, and general news, as they 
smoked. The first inn, which occupied the same 
site, was burned in 1784; and the present hotel 
was built the same year. It was leased to parties 
who were required to sign a written document 
pledging themselves ' to be agreeable and poUte 
to all strangers, to keep an entirely clean and in- 
viting house of entertainment, to watch the 



134 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

domestics carefully that they may be polite and 
obliging and not demand an extra gratuity, and 
in case they were found guilty of asking for 
money, to dismiss them without ceremony.' 
They were also required ' not to allow gamb- 
ling, fighting, swearing, immoral conduct or the 
assembling of minors on Sunday, or to permit the 
use of spirituous liquors to persons intoxicated 
or any excess of drinking on the premises.' 
After the Academy became a success, examina- 
tion day was the great event of the year. As 
there were no railway facilities, the wealthy 
Southern planters came in elegant coaches with 
a train of colored servants and fine horses — the 
like 01 which has never been seen since the Civil 
War. The large hotel yard would be literally 
packed with carriages. Indeed, it would be 
difficult to describe those times when Southern 
aristocracy was at its zenith, and nowhere else 
at that time could be found so great a collection 
of wealth, beauty, all the courtly graces and 
chivalric bearing which characterized South- 
erners in ante bellum days. ' ' 

" It seems a pity that the glory of those old 
days has departed, "' said Euth. "I imagine it 
would be delightful to recall them. But really 
it sounds more like some pretty fairy story or 
romance than a reality. 

" No, it is all true," said Dr. Leslie; and just 
then they drew up in front of the old tavern, 
which, v^ith its four quaint buildings, presented 
a patch of warm coloi* in the fading sunshine. 
Dr. Leslie and Ruth dismounted, and after ob- 
taining permission from one of the tenants, 
who occupied the George Washington room, they 
began to explore the rambling halls and cham- 
bers. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 135 

Dr. Leslie called Ruth's attention particularly 
to the red bricks of immense size; the walls as 
thick as a feudal castle; the queer, saddle roof 
with dormer windows ; the chimneys with their 
tall mantel shelves, and the immense fireplaces 
and the quaint kitchen paved with blocks of 
stone. 

The voluble tenant who conducted them over 
the biiilding seemed to take great pride in ex- 
hibiting the celebrated apartment which he oc- 
cupied — the George Washington room — and giv- 
ing bits of its history, as he did to the hundreds 
of curious visitors. It was in the main building, 
on the second floor, and opened on a large square 
hall which led out to the long veranda in front. 
It was about eighteen feet square, ^^'ith low 
pitched ceiling and the floor made of thick oak 
planks, twenty inches wide, hewn from the 
forest trees and shck with the tread of many 
feet. The walls in the room were plastered and 
kept clean by whitewash. The small windows, 
four in number, were deep embrasures, and 
about four feet from the floor. The large fire- 
place across the corner of the room had been re- 
duced in size, but the tall mantel shelf remained 
as it was originally fashioned. The two doors, 
many-panelled, both opened on the same hall, 
one of which, however, was temporarily closed 
with curtains. 

Ruth lingered here, quite reluctant to leave, 
asking the readily responsive tenant many ques- 
tions about the room which had been occupied 
one hundred years ago by the first President of 
the United States. She was curious, too, to see 
the quaint, old-fashioned spinnet or piano, the 
first one ever brought to town and the one 



136 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

which furnished music at the President's recep- 
tion given iiim here. But the man informed 
her that it was in the Museum near by, with 
some other fragmentary but treasured rehcs 
associated with that memorable event, and by 
applying to the person in charge she would have 
no difficulty in gaining admittance. 

"There is a movement on foot," said Dr. 
Leslie to Ruth, ' ' looking to the purchase of this 
old hotel, tear away the present hotel building 
with the exception of the original structure, pre- 
serve the Washington apartment intact, fit up 
other portions for the use of relics, and make a 
local museum of it. I think it is a good idea, 
and I hope to see it carried out.'' 

' ' Yes, I am sure it is, ' ' said Ruth, as they 
passed out on the veranda. " But somehow I 
can't help wishing that this old tavern with all 
its antiquity and associations could be restored 
to its former grandeur. Why can't it be, I won- 
der ? ' ' persisted Ruth, half sadly. 

"Oh, that wouldn't do at all," laughed Dr. 
Leslie. ' ' If we were to spend all our time re- 
storing the crumbling ruins of ^ur ancestors, 
why, I fear, we should never make any progress 
whatever; and besides all lovers of antiquity 
and relic hunters would be fettered and man- 
acled, so to speak, and be deprived of an oppor- 
tunity to make investigations. Upon the whole, 
I believe that I prefer that things should remain 
as they are. But let us walk to the other end 
of the veranda," he went on in the same light 
tone, " and I vdll tell you some other interest- 
ing facts connected with this old tavern, but you 
must not allow it to affect you morbidly," he 
said looking at her, smiling. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 137 



a 



Oh, no; but — " she hesitated; "yes, I will 
be glad to hear it," she returned, recovering 
something of her cheerfulness. " I should like 
to hear all about it." They sauntered leisurely 
the length of the long veranda. 

' ' It was in this hotel that Peter Ney, supposed 
by many to have been Napoleon's Marshal Ney 
of Prance, used to come, while he resided in 
Davie County in 1 840 or '41, and attracted crowds 
who stared in open-mouthed wonder at his 
thrilling feats of sword play and other martial 
exercises. Then there was an European chemist 
who drifted here and took up his abode at this 
bote], bought property, planted an orchard and 
vineyard, and made himself at home among the 
people — though reticent about his former his- 
tory. One evening, in 1857^ — I do not remem- 
ber the month — while making some chemical 
experiments, a terrific explosion occurred in his 
room, which tore through the walls, shattered 
the windows, flung the piano in the adjoining- 
parlor across the room, and killed the experi- 
menteT-, mangling him terribly. Tradition says 
that his burial in the dusk of the evening, 
coupled with the circumstances, was very im- 
pressive." 

Ruth glanced meditatively round. 

" Shall I go on ? " Dr. Leslie asked, laughing. 

"Oh, yes, certainly," she said eagerly. "I 
am not at all nervous." 

" Half a century ago, so tradition runs on, a 
gentleman came to this hotel and registered un- 
der an assumed name. The proprietor was kind 
and pleasant. The gentleman was sick, and in 
a day or so was found to be afflicted with small- 
pox, and so was removed to a house on the edge 

10 



138 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

of town and a nurse provided. He grew rapidly 
worse, and when he found he must die, he sent 
for the proprietor of the hotel, who, unfortu- 
nately, did not reach him before he died. The 
old man was greatly troubled, and wondered for 
days who his strange guest was aad whence he 
came. Sometime afterward one of the female 
servants complained that while cleaning the 
room the sick man had occupied at the hotel, his 
face had appeared to her. The proprietor 
scolded her for such superstition : but after re- 
peated shrieks of fear and declarations that he 
was really present, the proprietor decided to in- 
vestigate for himself. The result was that the 
uncanny visitor met him upon the threshold of 
the room, told his real name and place of resi- 
dence and desired that his wife should be ap- 
prised of his death, then disappeared and has 
never been seen since. The grave old Moravian, 
pale and collected, would not tell his strange ex- 
perience, but wrote to the address named, re- 
ceived a reply from the wife and sent all his 
effects home. It is said that the old gentleman 
never liked to talk about the incident, which he 
declared to be literally true. ' ' 

"How ghostly!" said Euth. "But I hope 
you will not blame my frankness in telling you 
that I believe the whole thing was a piece of 
gross fabrication of the servant ; or perhaps she 
dreamed it, and it seemed so realistic that she 
believed it herself, and so told it for a fact," 
Ruth added, with such demonstration of earnest- 
ness that Dr. Leslie laughed heartily. 

" Oh, no, I shall not quarrel with you for your 
candor," he said. " Undoubtedly the real facts 
have been vividly colored, as such things gen- 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 139 

erally are after the lapse of so long a time and 
with repeated repetition, too. Now, I will tell 
you one other little incident, and then we'll go." 
He took out his watch. " Ah, it is time we are 
going now. However, I can tell you as we go 
out. But come with me. please, to this part of 
the veranda, and I will show you the window 
in the room where, it is said, a man from a dis- 
tance, while sick and suffering from some tem- 
porary mania, or by design, during the absence 
of his attendant, threw himself from and was 
instantly killed. You see it is some distance to 
the ground," pointing toward the place. 

Ruth cast a doubtful glance up at the win- 
dow, and then at the ground. 

As they turned away and descended the steps. 
Dr. Leslie said, *' Well, that's ail, and winds, up 
the pitiful list of tragedies that tell of the 
strange complications of human lives. ' ' 

Driving back in the direction they had come, 
he rounded the lower side of the Square, past a 
row of quaint red brick houses, with tiled roofs 
mellowed with age, and their gabled fronts 
bathed in the rosy glow of the waning sun; past 
the Sisters' House, another old-fashioned brick 
edifice, covered with tiles, some of which were 
curled up in brittle decay, while here and there 
others had fallen away altogether; on past the 
stately silent Academy, over one side of which 
a Virginia creeper ran rampant in riotous pro- 
fusion and then reached out to embrace the 
church adjoining — the church whose foundation 
dates back to 1765 — and with a town clock in 
its gable. A little further on they came to the 
head of the avenue, and Dr. Leslie stopped his 
horse. The iron railing across the entrance way 
prevented vehicles from driving through. 



140 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

" I am sorry that we'll not have tmie to dis- 
mount and go through the Avenue and grave- 
yard too," he said, glancing toward the sun. 
" You can see but a small part of it from this 
point. Some day you and Mrs. GTrayson can 
come down together and spend an hour or two 
here, and at the same time include Woodland 
Cemetery, which occupies that elevation across 
the ravine to the right." He indicated the direc- 
tion with a sweep of his whip. 

They lingered a few minutes longer to enjoy 
the magical effect of the setting sun upon the 
cedar arched walK of such dazzling whiteness, 
and where the dusky shadows were creeping 
and fast blotting out the translucent gold. The 
effect was indescribable. 

" There seems to be something in the atmos- 
phere and cloistered stillness of this place that 
helps me," said Dr. Leslie, quietly, as he turned 
his horse's head toward home. 

Ruth made no direct reply. At that moment 
she was looking up at a large square mansion of 
brick, built more than a century ago, but appar- 
ently as substantial as of old. It was rigidly 
outlined against the dark-blue summer sky, 
across which lazily floated white billowy clouds, 
ever shifting into various forms as they ad- 
vanced towards the misty horizon. 

"The first Moravian Bishop's house," ex- 
plained Dr. Leslie, as he musingly followed her 
upward gaze. " and it still retains much of its 
local celebrity and interest for strangers. It has 
been modernized a httle, interiorly, yet contains 
a few remnants of its departing glory. In the 
low-ceiled dining-room there is an immense fire- 
place with a queer chimney-piece, and an old 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 141 

fashioned crane that still swings in its capacious 
jamhs. I don't suppose you ever saw one," he 
said, turning to her smiling, " for it is more of 
a novelty than our grandmother's flax-wheels, 
which is such a fashionable fad now-a-days. '' 

" No, I've never seen a crane — the machine 
you refer to," said Ruth, " but I've seen one or 
two old-time flax - wheels. " Then she glanced 
about her, was silent, and for the next few mo- 
ments surrendered herself to the charm of her 
surroundings. 

On the left of the short street down whicli 
they drove, they passed the ruinous traces of a 
greenhouse, with its wrecked machinery and 
rank growth of weeds, flowers and vines densely 
interwoven, and the original designs of the flower 
beds hopelessly blotted out. From out the tan- 
gled, fragrant mass came the pensive chirp of 
innumerable crickets and other insect life. 

Adjoining the ruins of the once beautiful 
greenhouse and on the corner, past which they 
now turned again into the thoroughfare, rose 
the tall, somber-looking dwelling where the 
owner of the ruined gardens formerly lived. He 
was long since dead, and the ancient mansion 
wore an air of gloom and disoccupation. How- 
ever, upon the stone parapet of the terraced 
steps which led up from the street to the narrow 
courtyard in front, the couchant bronze lion, 
mastiff and greyhound still kept silent guard. 

On that side of the building running along 
Main Street, the lower rooms, which were for- 
merly used as stores and shops, were now 
securely closed and shuttered, except the upper 
end, where job printing was being done. 

Over the doorway leading to a hall between 



142 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

these shuttered rooms, was the name of the late 
proprietor in large, raised gilt letters. 

Dr. Leslie pointed out other places of historic 
interest to Ruth along the way, all of which 
bore the solemn impress of antiquity, and had 
an air of indescribable serenity. 

Many of the houses on this street had little 
balconies and porticos extending out over the 
narrow sidewalk, and all had their usual en- 
vironments of beautiful flowers and graceful 
drapery of vines. 

Presently Dr. Leslie turned suddenly into a 
little side street, and driving a short distance 
drew up in front of a pretty but old-fashioned 
house, with the most picturesque surroundings. 
As he did so, Ruth glanced at him as if she were 
surprised, but said nothing. 

"This is where my sister Rachel lives," he 
said with one of his humorous smiles, and an- 
swering Ruth's questioning eyes. Mrs. Gray- 
son charged me with a package for her, and ac- 
cording to promise I must deliver it before I re- 
turn home." 

While they awaited at the gate without alight- 
ing, Miss Rachel emerged from the front porch 
as neat and prim as if she had made special prep- 
aration for their coming, and shaking out her 
skirts, hurried down to the gate to greet them. 

"How are you both? Get right down and 
come in, ' ' she said in an unusually cordial voice, 
extending a hand to each. "I've not been to 
supper yet, but Mary is getting it ready, and 
will have it on the table in a few moments. It 
will be no trouble at all," she went on, as if the 
matter admitted of a doubt. ' ' and I shall be glad 
to have you." 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 143 

"Thank you, Rachel; not this afternoon. 
Helen is expecting us back to tea, and I've no 
doubt is wondei'iag now what has detained us 
beyond her regular supper hour. She asked me 
to call by and hand you this package— said the 
note enclosed would explain about it." 

Miss Rachel took the little flat, square pack- 
age and carefully pressed it between her fingers, 
as if to ascertain its contents. It yielded softly 
to the touch as she fingered it. 

"Oh, yes," she said mystically. "Much 
obliged — all right — tell Helen I'll let her hear 
from me to-morrow," she added, following out 
her own thoughts. 

Dr. Leslie and Ruth smiled, and. as they 
turned to go. Miss Rachel pressed effusive invi- 
tations, upon Ruth especially, to come to see her 
very soon. 

They had left the delightfully quiet Moravian 
town behind them and crossed First Street, 
when they came upon quite a festive scene upon 
their right. 

"A lawn party, I suppose," said Dr. Leslie, 
and Ruth followed the slight gesture of Ms whip 
with a glance. 

Groups of ladies and children were gathered 
and flitting about upon a beautiful, spacious lawn 
that rolled slightly downward on either side of 
the handsome two-storied dwelling with its double 
porticos, whilst the lawn itself was shaded 
with magnificent trees and surrounded by a 
wealth of flowering shrubs, now in the glory of 
their blossoming beauty. The whole place had 
a charmingly festal air, for amidst the showers 
of light and blossom and perfume, the sound of 
rippling laughter and gay girls' voices mingled, 



144 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

as they tended their snow-white tables and grace- 
fully served their dainty wares to the stream of 
visitors continually coming and going. 

" One rarely sees a prettier sight than tliat, " 
said Dr. Leslie, as they passed on. '' 'It is like 
some pretty day-dream, some melody that is 
sweetly played in time.' '' 

" Whose home is it. where the entertainment 
is being held ? ' ' asked Ruth, her eyes softly 
alight with the enjoyment she felt in the pretty 
scene, 

" Mr. Sallade, a popular young lawyer in this 
city, and a very clever gentleman he is, too, affa- 
ble and courteous to everyone. There he is 
now, on the right sidewalk, going home from 
his office." 

Ruth followed the direction of his glance and 
saw a rather tall, slender young man, with- a 
clean-shaven face, save a slight moustache, and 
his eyes, which met Dr. LesUe's fully and 
frankly for an instant as he returned his friendly 
greeting, were quite dark and very bright. 

' ' How do, Mr. Sallade ? ' ' Dr. Leshe greeted 
him. " Hope you are well, sir." 

" Quite so, thank you. Glad to see you home 
again, doctor." 

The gentlemen raised their hats simultane- 
ously and bowed. 

" Thank you, thank you, " repeated Dr. Leslie. 
"It's always pleasant to get back again, too, 
even after a short absence. ' ' Dr. Leslie sent his 
voice after him, for they had passed one another 
during the brief salutation, and Mr. Sallade was 
walking at his usual brisk gait. 

When they reached the Court House Square, 
the strains from the air of some familiar old 



TN THE NEW ELDORADO. 145 

song, full of tender pathos, came to them on the 
evening breeze. It touched Ruth like an awak- 
ened echo from the silent land. It was faulty 
in rhyme and meter, but the lay was indescri- 
bably sweet because of its association with 
memories of days that were past. When they 
drew near they saw a group of negro musicians 
who, with banjo, guitar and harmonicon had 
set the warm air astir with the sad, weird strains 
they evoked from their instruments, and drawn 
a crowd of rapt listeners around them. For the 
moment the plaintive cadence saddened Ruth, 
and her lovely eyes were full of the silent sym- 
pathetic passion that stirred her soul. 

" Negroes are born musical geniuses, and if 
their latent talent were developed, they ^"^ould 
make the finest musicians in the world," said 
Dr. Leshe, looking toward the motley group 
congregated on the corner. " Many of them 
have splendid voices, too, and no Southerner 
can listen even to the broken chant of an old 
darkey crooning a weird song of the plantation 
times without his heart being softened. They 
can suit music to any mood and purpose. And 
Dixie — why no one can sing Dixie with such 
passion and pathos as the darkey. I hke to hear 
him sing it. Ah, that dear old song will never 
die, for it was, as some one has so beautifully 
put it, ' the lullaby and the requiem of the 
proudest nation of the earth that ever died so 
young.' " 

Ruth was silent the next few minutes, and 
the vehicle roUed smoothly on its way through 
the gay, bustling streets, and when they finally 
stopped and Dr. Leslie helped her out, he said : 

" I dare say Mrs. Grayson is wondering what 
has become of us. ' ' 



146 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

Then to Virgil: "Groom and feed Hector well, 
Virgil." He handed the reins to that ever 
watchful functionary, then joined Ruth, who 
stood waiting for him on the steps. 

'' I don't know how to thank you enough. Dr. 
Leslie, for the pleasure you have given me this 
afternoon," she said, smiling and brightening; 
" but I want to assure you that I haven't en- 
joyed anything so much since — " she stopped 
suddenly, and her voice half choked with tears. 

" Don't speak of it, child," he said hurriedly, 
in his frank winning way. "lb was a great 
pleasure to me to take you, and I shall be most 
happy to do so again." 

Ruth felt the singular fascination of her guar- 
dian's power, which instantly soothed and 
quieted her, but she did not understand it. 

He took her hand, and moved by common con- 
sent, they slowly asceaded the steps together 
and in silence entered the house. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 147 



CHAPTER IX. 

Nellie was on the watch for her uncle's ap- 
proach. 

'' Oh, Uncle Ralph, I am so glad that you and 
Cousin Ruth have come. Just guess who's here. 
Of course Cousin Ruth can't, because she 
doesn't know him." 

''The visitor is a gentleman, then. Well, I 
suppose it is my friend. Dr. Seaton." he said 
amusedly, as he turned to the sitting-room. 

" Oh, don't go in there, Uncle Ralph; mamma 
and Dr. Seaton are waiting for you in the dining- 
room," she said hastily, "so you and Cousin 
Ruth come right on." 

Ruth noticed that there was a most cordial 
greeting between the two men, and as Mrs. 
Grayson mentioned Dr. Seaton's name he came 
forward and she presented him. 

Now and then Ruth's soft glance swept over 
the face of their visitor as he listened with atten- 
tive interest to Dr. Leslie, and she saw that his 
manner was quiet, easy and full of unfailing 
dignity and self-confident grace. 

The conversation drifted from one familiar 
topic to another, Ruth listening with interest, 
but almost in silence, and when they finally rose 
from the table and returned to the sitting-room, 
the long twilight had ended, and the rooms were 
brightly lighted. From the first Dr. Seaton was 
charmed with Ruth, and they were soon talking 
as if they were old acquaintances. 

Near where they were sitting stood a pretty 
metal table, upon which was a superb gold-lined 
bowl filled with exquisite pond and lotus lilies. 



148 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

Ruth reached over and took out one of the 
half-blown pink flowers, and holding it up by 
its smooth, rubber-like stem, said: 

"■ Isn't it lovely ? I do not kuow^ any flower 
so beautiful as the lily, unless it is the rose. 
Those exquisitely delicate Caroline Test out roses 
in the vase on the mantel quite rival these lilies 
if any flower can. Where do these lilies grow V " 
she asked. 

" These, I suppose, came from Dr. Balbec's 
pond, near the city. He has acquired much 
local reputation by his success in rearing mag- 
nificent lilies, lotuses and other rare water 
plants. ' ' 

" Is he the gentleman who has Victoria Regia 
growing in the open air ? I heard Mrs. Grayson 
talking with some lady visitors of this wonder- 
ful flower, and I intended to ask her about it 
afterw^ards, but neglected to do so.'' 

She restored the lily to the bowl, then with 
the most charming naivete turned to him and 
asked, '' Won't you tell me about it, please? " 

" Certainly, I will take pleasure in giving you 
what information I have upon the subject, " he 
said, smiling. " But I dare say you know quite 
as much about it as I do. You have no doubt 
read the story of the immense trouble and ex- 
pense at which a living plant of the Victoria 
Regia was transferred to the Royal Gardens at 
Kew; and how for a long time this royal plant 
was studied, and a special aquarium prepared 
for it. '' He paused and looked at her as if wait- 
ing for her to affirm his assertion. 

" I may have read it, but I should not object 
to hearing it repeated," she said smiling. 

" Well, after the aquarium was prepared the 



IN THE NEW ELDOllADO. 149 

gardener was able to keep up a temperature of 
98 degrees F. ; then at last, to the great joy of 
the botanical and horticultural world, the plant 
bloomed. This success made way for another 
at the Exposition in Philadelphia, in 1876, and 
since then the ambition of many lovers of beau- 
tiful acquatJc plants has been directed to the ac- 
complishment of the grand feat elsewhere. The 
magnificent leaves, five in number, are sur- 
rounded by a modest flower of pure white. One 
of the largest of the leaves grown in Dr. Balbec's 
pond measured sixty inches in diameter, and 
bore the weight of a little girl weighing 65 
pounds, and in this attitude the whole plant was 
photographed." 

Ruth rose, crossed the room, and taking a 
cabinet size photograph from among quite a 
number of others which lay upon the table, 
came back and handed it to him. " Is that the 
picture you have reference to '? " 

''Yes; the same," he said, looking down at it. 
"It is Captain Gilbert's little daughter." 
Then he handed it back to her and went on : 
"The flower has a very short life, measured 
only by two days. On the second day one was 
plucked and placed in a parlor, where, side by 
side with magnificent red, blue and white lilies, 
eichorinos or water hyacinths and water pop- 
pies, it reigned supreme and went through a re- 
markable transformation. The outer white 
petals gently opened, getting wider and wider 
as each layer separated, then assumed a delicate 
pink." 

" And do these lilies grow here in the open 
air?" Euth asked, wonderingly. her soft eyes 
glowing. 



150 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

" Yes, Id open ponds, right in this place." he 
said, laughing. '"Marvelous, isn't it?" 

" Indeed, I think it is. Do you remember 
where the plant was first discovered?" she' 
asked, still interested in the discussion. 

" In the upper Amazon, and named in honor 
of Qaeen Victoria." Then, after a short silencp 
he turned to her and said, " Won't you play 
and sing something, Miss Arnold ? Before you 
returned from your drive this afternoon, Mrs. 
Grayson told me about your wonderful musical 
gift, and I shall be most happy to hear you." 

Ruth took her seat at the instrument, and, as 
was her habit when playing without notes, rap- 
idly swept her agile fingers up and down the 
keys, then suddenly dashed into one of Ruben- 
stein's most popular compositions. She played 
pieces from the great masters of the past as well 
as the modern ones. 

Dr. Leslie, who had been sitting just without 
the window of the veranda talking to Mrs. Gray- 
son when Ruth began to play, now involuntarily 
entered the room, strangely attracted by her 
music, and seating himself near the piano lis- 
tened as one entranced. 

Ruth's whole personality seemed completely 
absorbed in the eloquent tide of melody which 
rose and fell and vibrated in rippling waves and 
floated far out on the evening breeze. When she 
presently ceased playing and looked round, Dr. 
Leslie stood beside her. his handsome face 
glowing. 

" I have not words to express my sincere ad- 
miration and enjoyment, Ruth,'' he said. " I 
was not prepared for this. You have indeed re- 
markable musical powers." 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 151 

Dr. Seaton, though outwardly not so demon- 
strative as her guardian, showered praises upon 
her that made her smile gratefully up into his 
face. 

" Thank you both," she said: " I am always 
glad when one really appreciates my music." 

"Don't you sing, too, Ruth?" Dr. Leslie 
asked, steadily regarding the bewitching face. 

She turned to the piano again, and with a sort 
of rhythmic motion ghded her fingers over the 
keys. 

"What shall I sing?" she asked, glancing 
round. As neither Dr. Seaton nor Mrs. Gray- 
son suggested anything, Dr. Leslie said : 

" Some pretty old Scottish ballad. I have 
always had a tender and sincere regard for 
them." 

" How would you like me sing ' The Lass o' 
Gowrie, ' or ' The Dowie Dens of Yarrow ' ?" she 
asked. 

" Oh, by all means — either one or both of 
them, if you will. They are great favorites of 
mine," said Dr. Leslie. 

When her rich voice burst upon them her glo- 
rious notes rang out with melody beyond all 
praise. Her listeners sat hushed and breathless, 
as she sang piece after piece, and the music rip- 
pled lightly, merrily and joyfully through the 
room. 

Her sweet voice dropped into the rhythm of 
the music, and she sang with all the abandon of 
one who loses herself and forgets everything in 
his glowing inspiration. 

When she rose. Dr. Leslie went up to her and 
with admiring, wondering eyes looking down 



152 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

into hers, said: " Euth, thank you. We have 
enjoyed a double treat this evening. Such a 
voice you have ! It is hke the tones of the finest 
Stradivarius. It is incomparable." 

He was passionately fond of music, and he 
could not help giving vent to his admiration of 
her superb and wonderful gift. 

The evening had passed delightfully and rap- 
idly by, and when Dr. Seaton rose to go he said 
to Mrs. Grayson, ' ' I am greatly indebted fco you 
for affording me this opportunity of spending a 
most charming evening," at the same time ex- 
tending her his hand while his glance rested on 
Ruth. 

Dr. Leslie followed his guest into the hall, 
and a few minutes later when he came back 
into the sitting-room, Ruth had vanished to her 
own room. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 153 



CHAPTER XII. 

The cheerful peals of the church bells were 
ringing throughout the city, bidding the people 
to turn aside from the busy cares, sordid 
thoughts and perplexing anxieties of their every- 
day lives, and, in remembrance of the love and 
sacrifice revealed to the human race, attend 
upon the sanctuary of God this lovely Sabbath 
morning, so full of glad repose and suggestive- 
ness of spiritual sweetness. 

" Do you think you are feeling strong enough 
to attend church this morning?" said a voice 
behind Rath. She looked quickly round and 
saw the smiling face of her guardian. 

■■• Oh — excuse me — how you startled me, Dr. 
Leslie. Yes, thank you," she replied in her 
soft, silvery voice, smiling, " I've only a head- 
ache. Just a slight one. " 

" Only a headache," he repeated; " this hot 
weather is trying on you, and you need a tonic 
in the way of cooler breezes. I think I shall 
have you and Mrs. Grayson off to the mountains 
without further delay. How soon do you think 
you can be ready ? ' ' 

Ruth laughed. " Oh, I'm ready now, only I 
shouldn't like to start on the Sabbath, you know, 
I believe, however, that Mrs. Grayson intends 
leaving next week." 

'' Well, which church do you wish to attend 
to-day, or have you a preference V Mr. Darcy 
has gone to fill an appointment at one of his 
churches in a village near by, but there will be 
services in several other churches whose pastors 
are not absent on their vacation, aad at any one 

11 



154 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

of them you will be likely to hear au excellent 
discourse. We are singularly blessed in our city 
clergymen, for they are divines of unusual in- 
tellectual power and spirituality, and wield a 
vast moral influence in the community. It 
gives me no little gratification to say that our 
city churches, as a rule, have, in a rare degree, 
more broad-hearted sympathy, more unity of 
purpose, and more genuine brotherly love for 
one another, than, so far as I have an op^jortu- 
nity of observing and fiading out, churches of 
different denominations in other communities."' 

' ' That must be a very pleasant state of things, 
both for the pastor and the people, I imagine," 
returned Euth with sweet gravity. Just then 
her eyes fell upon the paper which Dr. Leslie 
had been reading when he entered the room, 
and she took it up and mechanically read the 
name on the title page— The Sunday School 
Times. Then smoothing it out in a half absent 
sort of way, she slowly and carefully folded and 
handed it to him. 

" No, you keep it and read it if you like. It 
contains some very admirable articles which may 
interest you. There is one especially, which, 
though short, is both suggestive and interesting 
to me. Let me find it for you, and you can 
read it when you wish.'' 

He took the paper and ran his eyes rapidly 
over its pages. " Ah, here it is." he said, and 
held the paper towards her, pointing to the ar- 
ticle in question. 

' ' Suppose you read it to me, " " she said pret- 
tily. 

"Certainly, I will gladly do so.' Dr. Leslie 
resumed the paper and read aloud the title of the 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 155 

article: "Which is the most profitable to tiie 
Christian worker — failure or success '? ' ' he read 
slowly, looked up, then went on: "No doubt 
both are useful; and in such proportion as God 
adjusts they are exactly suited to our need. All 
failures would so discourage us, that we should 
turn back from the work ; whereas, if we never 
had anything but success, we should become 
proud and self-sufficient. Discouragements are 
useful in keeping us humbled, and low^ before 
God in a spirit of dependence and prayer ; while 
successes inspire and stimulate us in the work, 
and give us boldness to go forward in new and 
more difficult enterprises." 

Ruth sat still, listening very attentively to the 
cadence of his rich, musical voice. When he 
had finished reading, he said, *' Now let me illus- 
trate a case in point. I recently met a lady of 
this city — a lady who belongs to one of the 
many circles of King's Daughters here, and who, 
with quite a number of other members of the 
same Circle, has been doing a great deal to build 
a home for working-women — and she told me of 
their trials in getting their work started. At 
first they felt quite equal to it, and so sure were 
they that others would see it in the same light 
they did, that when they went to solicit money 
from some of the wealthy business men of the 
city with which to build their Home, they had 
no doubt of an immediate response. But they 
felt greatly staggered and discouraged when 
they found that their expected patrons kindly 
and politely held themselves excused. This dis- 
couragement drove them to seek guidance of 
God, and there they found strength. Most un- 
expectedly, a part of the money came to them 



156 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

from other directions than they had anticipated, 
one benevolent gentleman giving them a hand- 
some donation as a memorial to his sainted wife, 
in whose honor the Home is to be called — ' The 
Delphine Home for Working Women ' — Del- 
phine being his wife's Christian name. Now 
this money is really of more use to them, coming 
in this way, than if they had obtained it in their 
own way." 

" Surely money never seems so golden as 
when it is used in some such way as this, ' ' Ruth 
said, taking the paper her guardian handed her 
and refolding it. 

"Cousin Ruth, you are a King's Daughter, 
too, aren't you ?" asked Nellie, w^ho had entered 
the room while her uncle was talking and went 
and stood beside Ruth, resting her arm affec- 
tionately upon her shoulder. As she spoke, she 
bent down and touched the little silver cross 
pinned on the bosom of Ruth's dress. " I just 
came to tell you, ' ' she went on, apologetically, 
"■ that mamma says that it is very nearly time 
to get ready for church; but Uncle Ralph was 
talking when I came in, so I waited for him to 
get through. We are going to the Centenary 
Church, where Mr. Norwood preaches, and the 
first bell has already rung.'' 

Ruth rose at once and took up The Times. 

'' Where have you been all the morning, Nel- 
lie ? " she asked, moving toward the door with 
Nellie still clinging caressingly about her as if 
reluctant to let her go. 

" Why, to Sunday School; didn't you know? 
I go every Sunday, if I'm not sick. I am in 
Mrs. Weslev's class in the infant room, where 
there are ever so manv children, but when I 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 15.7 

am older she will put me in the big room — the 
church, you kuow, where Major Brice. our Su- 
perintendent, stays. Mrs. Wesley tells us so 
many beautiful Bible stories every Sunday, from 
a big picture which she puts on the easpl ; then 
we have music and singing, and lessons and 
books — story-books, you know, and Sunday 
School papers, too. Oh, it's ever so nice to go 
to Sunday School, and next Sunday I want you 
to go and take a class in our room. I heard Mrs. 
Wesley tell Major Brice this niorning that she 
wanted some more teachers, and I just know 
she'll let you teach in her room. Now. won't 
you go, Cousin Ruth?" she asked, looking ap- 
pealingly into her face. " Promise, or I shan't 
let you go," holding her fast and trying to bar 
the way. 

" Yes, thank you, I will be delighted to go," 
said Euth, laughing. '' Not as a teacher, how- 
ever, but as a pupil myself.'" 

Though a breeze was stirring, it was languor- 
ously warm, and the blue of the far-away un- 
fathomable sky paled in the unbroken splendor 
of the fervid sun. 

There were a few people in carriages and many 
on foot in the broad street where the sun shone 
with such glittering glare, wending their way 
to church, and Dr. Leslie and Mrs. Grayson con- 
stantly acknowledged the salutations of their 
acquaintances as they passed, who looked with 
inquiring eyes at Ruth. She seemed totally 
unconscious of their inquisitive glances and went 
on talking composedly to her guardian. Groups 
of prettily attired, bright-faced children on their 
way from Sunday School flitted past them. Here 
and there they met neatly-dressed, white-capped 



158 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

nurse maids loitering homeward, or sitting upon 
some shady door-step, flirting promiscuously 
with their beaux, while their little charges in 
their pretty carriages, when not asleep amused 
themselves as best they could, unheeded and 
quite forgotten. 

As they reached the next intersecting street, 
a small pony -cart, draw^n by a beautiful black 
Shetland pony and driven by a small boy with a 
bright, handsome face, drove past them. 

At sight of Ruth, the little fellow, trimly at- 
tired in a white -flannel sailor suit and blue tie, 
raised his straw liat, bowed and smiled in a 
charmingly naive manner. 

" Cousin Ruth, isn't that just tlie cutest little 
pony you ever saw?"' asked Nellie. " Jerold's 
uncle gave it to him on his birthday, because he 
thinks so much of him. I think it was ever so 
nice in his uncle, don't you?'' glancing signifi- 
cantly at her Uncle Ralph. " I want mamma to 
give me one just like it. Jerold's pony is named 
Bob, but if I had one I should name him — let 
me see — weU, what would you name him, Cousin 
Ruth?" 

" Really I don't know; but I beheve I'd wait 
until I got one, and then try to find a suitable 
name for him. What is the little bov's name ? 
He has such a sweet face. ' ' 

" Jerold Berkley," answered Nellie, promptly. 
" I thought you knew. He is sach a good little 
boy. too. Cousin Ruth, for he goes to church and 
Sunday School every Sunday. ' ' 

' ' If that is the limit of your standard for guag- 
ing one's excellence, Nellie, I'm afraid you fall 
sadly short of the requirement, " said her mother, 
smiling. " But Jerold Berkley is indeed an un- 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 159 

usually good child, aud his whole nature seems 
to have been chastened and purified through his 
long suffering." 

Just then a short, thick- set gentleman, appa- 
rently about thirty-eight or forty years, with a 
kind, strong face, came opposite them across the 
street. His dark hair, mustache and chin whis- 
kers were sprinkled with gray, and the gaze of 
the blue eyes from under the slightly drooping 
evelids was firm and clear, while from his whole 
personality eminated an aroma of goodness and 
kindness of heart, which were characteristic of 
him. 

•' Oh, there's Cousin Joe ! " exclaimed Nellie, 
in a perfect fever of enthusiasm as soon as she 
saw him. and she would have darted off and 
joined him, but her mother laid her hand upon 
her arm to restrain her. " Mr. Joe Mosby, " said 
Dr. Leslie, in a low tone to Ruth. " One of the 
cleverest and best of men." Just as he called 
the name the owner looked quickly in their direc- 
tion, as if he had been addressed, and at the 
same time the twc men smiled, touched their 
hats and bowed. 

The crowd perceptibly increased as they drew 
near the church, and Nellie chatted on until they 
had reached the steps of the facade with its or- 
namental terra-cotta railing, which gave the 
building a very imposing look. Here she ceased 
talking, involuntarily, and despite her eagerness 
to stop and speak with her Cousin Joe, she 
quietly followed the usher up the long aisles of 
the spacious church to one of the front pews, 
tvhere he seated them. When the slight com- 
motion which their entrance had ocasioned sub- 
sided, Ruth glanced about her, making mental 
notes of one kind and another. 



160 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

Never would she forget that Sunday morning. 
The peaceful church with its long galleries filled. 
as were the auditorium and the annex in rear of 
the chancel, with unfamiliar faces ; the rapid flut- 
tering of fans ; the light, cool toilets of the ladies, 
pleasantly mingled with the sombre garb of the 
gentlemen; the bright flowers upon the altar; 
the crimson and purple light streaming in through 
the richly stained, half -opened windows; the 
calm dignity and reverential bearing of the min- 
ister, whose sweet benevolent face was a liv- 
ing sermon in itself — a sermon more eloquent 
than was ever any sermon spoken from a pulpit. 
It was all very impressive and sympathetic and 
resting to her mind. Gradually her thoughts 
were diverted from her surroundings and her 
heart seemed lifted as into a realm of ineffable 
peace and serenity, while she was conscious of a 
Presence that calmed and strengthened her. 

At that moment from the great organ in the 
gallery over the entrance way, came a low. 
moaning sound as of mighty waters afar off. 
whose hoarse roar was harmonized and softened 
by the distance ; but coming near, the deep thun- 
der tones gained in volume and power and swelled 
grandly and triumphant!}' upon the air. Ruth 
sat motionless, breathless, for the time uncon- 
scious of all things save the magic tones of the 
great organ, which seemed as a voice appealing 
to her out of the unfathomable Beyond and she 
was powerless to respond. 

The minister began his discourse, and it was 
one calculated to do much good. The text was 
contained in the warning given by the Great 
Teacher to His disciples when upon earth, but 
which still rings down the corridor of ages, and 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 1<>1 

warns as earnestly and solemnly to-day as when 
in old Judea, He said, "Take ye heed, watch and 
pray: for ye know not when the time is." With 
unflagging interest Ruth closely followed him all 
through his sermon, which was remarkably 
forceful, yet plain and practical. His theo- 
logical views were sternly orthodox and were 
illuminating and convincing. Then followed an 
earnest, impressive prayer by the Presiding El- 
der, Rev. Mr. Carrollton, who was sitting near 
the altar. He was a tall man of fine physique, 
white hair, and a saint-like intellectual face — a 
face purified through suffering — and a gentle 
humility of demeanor. As the full tones of the 
good man arose in a passionate pleading, in ac- 
cent soulful and fervent, it seemed to bring to 
each bowed head a sense of relief. 

When the doxology was concluded, the large 
congregation began to file orderly out of the 
church amidst the brilliant strains of music, 
which swept down from the gilded pipes, keep- 
ing time as it were to the soft rustle and tread 
of the dispersing throng. 

A number of friends pressed forward to give 
Mrs. Grayson a hand-clasp, and those who could 
not get near enough to do this, nodded and 
smiled their salutation and passed on. " LoveJ 
Serve ! ' ' this beautiful motto of the late Lord 
Shaftesbury, one of England's noblemen, oc- 
curred to Ruth, and she thought how applicable 
it was to Mrs. Grayson as she saw how the rich 
and poor vied in doing her h^uor. At this mo- 
ment she was talking with a very handsome lady, 
rather large, with a sweet, happy face, and 
Ruth was regarding her with interest when Mrs. 
Grayson turned and said, " Mrs. Norwood, this 
is Miss Arnold, my brother's ward." 



162 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

"I am pleased to meet you, Miss Arnold," she 
said, cordially extending her hand. " I saw 
from The Sentinel that you had arrived in our 
city, and I hope this may prove the first of many 
pleasant meetings with you." Then, adding a 
few more gracious words of welcome to her, 
Mrs. Norwood turned away to greet others in her 
husband's large congregation. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 163 



CHAPTEE XIII. 

It was not Dr. Leslie's habit to go out of 
town more than a week or two at a time during 
the summer season, but he generally managed 
to hurry Mrs. Grayson and Nellie off for at least 
six weeks. 

On the morning they were to leave, Mrs. 
Grayson glanced hurriedh^ over the letters which 
had arrived by the morning's mail. Among the 
several letters for her there was one from Carl, 
which received her first attention, and after sat- 
isfying herself that he was well and happy, she 
thrust it along with others in her traveling 
satchel to read leisurely on the way. 

Nellie ran to the hall table, and the next few 
seconds applied herself diligently to gathering 
up her things. 

'' Oh, Uncle Ralph, we'll be sure to miss the 
train. Do come along. Mamma, and Cousin 
Ruth; let us hurry. '' 

Ruth looked wonderfully bright and pretty as 
she came down the steps smiling and talking. 
She wore a plain but handsome black traveling 
dress and hat, and the roses in her cheeks bore 
well the challenge of those she carried in her 
hand. When they had reached the phaeton, she 
turned a smiling face to her guardian and asked 
in a rather playful spirit, 

" How long are we to be banished ? " 

" Well, if you will submit the length of your 
banishment to my approval, I shall say stay 
until I give you a permit to return — six, or 
maybe eight, weeks," he answered in the same 
light spirit. 



164 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

Virgil smiled blandly, touched up the spirited 
horses and started at quite a reckless speed for 
the station. 

Duj-ing the pauses at the different stations, 
Ruth watched with intense interest the moving- 
scene, which was an endless source of entertain- 
ment to her — the miscellaneous collection of 
people which invariably gathered about the 
train, staring, gossipping. and exchanging a 
word or two with any passengers who hap- 
pened to come out on the platform or were lean- 
ing from the car window to take in a general 
survey of the surroundings. There was a blend- 
ing of light and movement and color in the shift- 
ing scenes, with vivid suggestions of the indi- 
vidual history of the people and their belongings, 
which strangers rarely read amiss. 

It was while Ruth was taking a sort of men- 
tal inventory of the personal characteristics of 
her fellow-passengers that she became suddenly 
conscious of a pair of soft black eyes fixed upon 
her with quiet scrutiny. The owner was a 
young man who sat just in the rear of Mrs. 
Grayson. He was scrupulously attired in a 
black suit and immaculate linen, with close-cut 
black hair, and dark but clear complexion, and, as 
soon as Ruth turned and surprised his gaze, he 
quickly looked in another direction, but his 
face still wore the same expression, and the lips 
the same melancholy smile she had first noted. 
His was a face refined by earnest, serious 
thought, but over which, when he spoke, a 
warm light trembled and broke, kindling a soft 
gleam in the dark depths of the thoughtful eyes. 

Ruth found herself watching with a kind of , 
fascination this new face among her fellow- 



IX THE NEW ELDORADO. 165 

travelers, and one that she became more and more 
interested in studying, till Nellie got restless and 
with her trivial talk appropriated her attention. 
Then she climbed up on her knees upon the 
seat, and before Ruth was made aware of her 
intention, leaned with her hthe sinuosity peril- 
ously far out of the car window. 

The next moment the dark-eyed stranger bent 
over, quietly took hold of a fold of her skirt and 
attempted to draw her gently in. 

In a second, Nellie sprang back, looked 
around in calm wonder, and then asked in child- 
ish petulance, " What am I doing. Mamma ? " 

But Mrs. Grayson who had been absorbed in 
her book had not noticed Nellie's dangerous pos- 
turing, and when she uttered this exclamation, 
looked up, let her book fall in her lap, and turned 
an inquiring glance tow^ard the stranger, who 
still held Nellie's dress and was saying to her in 
a kind tone — 

"You are all right, now. I hope I didn't 
startle you." In an instant Mrs. Grayson per- 
ceived what had happened. 

*' Oh, thank you, sir," she said, "you are 
very kind. I should have paid more attention 
to my little girl, but was reading, and for the 
moment failed to observe her movements. I 
am sorry that my seeming neglect should have 
givfin you this trouble. Indeed, I am under great 
obligations to you, sir." 

In her burst of gratitude for the thoughtful 
chivalry of the stranger her kind eyes meant 
much more than she said. She saw at a glance 
that he was a gentleman, for he had that subtle 
, stamp in his look and bearing which is unmis- 
takable. 



166 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

" Please do not mention it, Madam. I am 
very happy to have rendered the service. Your 
little girl, I am sure, did not realize her danger." 

While he talked he had been casting furtive 
glances at Ruth, who at that moment was trying 
with graceful futility to lower the latticed shade 
of the window, in order to shut out the hot sun- 
shine which now streamed in and almost blinded 
her with its dazzle. 

With that nameless refinement innate in the 
Southern gentleman of birth and breeding, the 
stranger bowed and said, '' Permit me to assist 
you." Then walking round to the back of the 
seat which Ruth occupied, bent over, pressed the 
stubborn spring and without any superfluity of 
effort it yielded readily to his manipulations. 

''Thank you," she said, simply and politely, 
but in a tone which conveyed a hint that she did 
not wish to say anything further, and a little 
color stole into her cheek ; and, as he bowed his 
acknowledgment of her thanks, and turned to 
resume his seat, Nellie touched him on the sleeve 
and burst out as if all her energies were concen- 
trated upon the one aim. 

" Won't you take a seat with us, sir? You 
have been so good to me; I should like to talk to 
you. See, you can sit by my mamma, and I will 
sit by Cousin Ruth." She jumped suddenly 
down as she spoke, and got in the reversed seat. 

" Now, you can sit there," she added, point- 
ing to the vacant seat by the window. 

The stranger thanked her and hesitated, with 
his hand still upon the back of the seat ; but at 
that moment, Mrs. Grayson, smiling cordially, 
repeated Nellie's invitation, and at the same time 
made room for him beside hei"self, drawing her 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. H)7 

skirts aside so as to leave the end of the seat 
clear, and adding, " It seems that we are quite 
helpless without you, and I shall be very glad 
to have you/' 

When he had taken the seat Mrs. Grayson 
offered him. he took a card from his breast 
pocket and quietly handed it to her. She looked 
at it, smiled, then offered him her hand. 

"I am pleased to meet you, Mr. Hawleigh." 
Then looking at Ruth, she added, " Let me in- 
troduce you to Miss Arnold, Mr. Hawleigh ; and 
this is Nellie Grayson, my little daughter; and 
of course lam Mrs. Grayson;" she laughed, as 
if suddenly remembering that she should have 
introduced herself first. 



168 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR. 



CHAPTER XIV. 

So it came to pass quite naturally that Mr. 
Hawleigh should get acquainted with these peo- 
ple whom he had been observing with more than 
passing interest, and wondering who they were 
ever since he had boarded the train several hours 
previous at the beautiful little city, Statesville, 
en route for Asheville. 

As Mr. Hawleigh was thoroughly acquainted 

with the line over which they were traveling, 

. he gave them bits of interesting information and 

history about the towns and villages through 

^\hich they passed. 

After leaving Morganton they began \o get 
visions of long stretches of blue mountain peaks, 
rising range after range into illimitable distance, 
and as they went up. the great Appalachian 
Chain seemed to climb dauntlessly high till it 
reached the far blue sky. 

There was a shimmering of sunlight and shadow 
— that twinkling of golden sunbeams entangled 
in the meshes of silvery mist, over hill and val- 
ley — that was simply enchanting. 

Under the stimulus of her environments, so 
new^ to her, Nellie was enthused with delight, 
and on more than one occasion did her mother 
gently remonstrate with her for her garrulity, 
but she would soon forget and prattle on as 
thoughtlessly as ever. Once in a burst of confi- 
dence, she leaned towards Mr. Hawleigh and said, 

'' We are going to Asheville to spend a week; 
and I'm so glad, for I heard you tell Cousin 
Ruth that you are going there too. And then 
we are going to Warm Springs, and from there 



IN THE NEAV ELDORADO. 169 

to the White Sulphur Spriugs; and — and — oh, 
well, I don't know where else; but Uncle Kalph 
told mamma he wanted Cousin Euth to see our 
beautiful mountains ; so I reckon we are going 
everywhere till w^e see them." 

She stopped a moment, and seeing that he was 
about to speak, asked quickly, " Is your home in 
Asheville, Mr. Hawleigh, or are you just going- 
there on a visit, as we are ? ' ' 

Mr. Hawleigh smiled, and his eyes wandered 
to Ruth, who was just then looking absently out 
the opposite window. 

" Yes, my home was in Asheville, but I'm not 
living thera now. I'm only going there to visit 
some very dear friends and relations, and trust 
I shall see you quite often while you are there. ' ' 

' ' Oh, I hope so. too, for I like you very much, ' ' 
she said, in her direct, impulsive way, speaking 
the thoughts that were in her mind. 

'' Well, I assure you, Nellie, the liking is ma- 
tual, '' he laughed, then i-eached over and took 
her doll which lay upon her lap. 

" What place is this, Mr. Hawleigh,'' she 
asked, with a glance round at her new friend. 
'' Oh, Mamma, do look at that jet of water fly- 
ing way up in the air." Nellie hung half way 
out the Aviudow again, watching the spray. 

'' This is Round Knob, and that fountain is 
something of a wonder, ' ' he answered, enlighten- 
ing her ignorance. " It throws a jet about two 
hundred and sixty-eight feet high, and it is said 
to be the second highest fountain in the world. 
The water is brought from a spring on the top 
of one of those high mountains you see over 
there." 

Through the liquid meshes of silvery spray 

12 



170 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

thousands of golden sunbeams shimmered and 
twirled in prismatic radiance, as bright and beau- 
tiful as foam bells on the deep, and fell noise- 
lessly in the brick environed basin beneath, 
where the water twinkled in glancing brightness. 

" We are crossing the mountain now, and if 
you ladies care to see one of the grandest pieces 
of railroad engineering in the South you will 
have an opportunity to doso, '' said Mr. Haw- 
leigh ten minutes later. 

As the engine with its long train of cars labored 
slowly up and around the mountain, once or 
twice it seemed to stand perfectly still, and when 
midway over the dizzy, circling trestle work, 
suspended as it were between heaven and earth, 
Mr. Hawleigh made an expressive gesture with 
his hand, without speaking, to another train of 
cars, far beneath them, bearing its precious liv- 
ing freight of humanity up over the perilous 
railway they had just traversed. It was a thi-ill- 
ing sight, and one never to be forgotten. 

As they glided on to a region of still greater 
elevation, the air became purer and more elastic, 
they exulted with new life and vigor, and it 
seemed that ten thousand glories and beauties 
never seen or dreamt of before, delighted and 
dazzled the eye at every turn ; giant crags, steep 
precipices rising sheer and bold, fern-clad gor- 
ges, deep and wild, rushing torrents and foam- 
ing cascades, all glistening resplendent in the 
sunlight, while out from the emerald twilight of 
the wood, spicy fragrance flung off from hidden 
flowers was borne to them on the delicious 
mountain breeze. 

Mr. Hawleigh turned to Mrs. Grayson and 
said, " I suppose you have visited the mountains 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 171 

before, but Miss Arnold, this is your first visit, 
is it not ? ' ' 

" Yes, to the mountains of North Carolina—" 
she hesitated as if she intended to say something 
more, but suddenly seemed to change her mind, 
and instead, began brushing off with her hand- 
kerchief the gray cinders which powdered her 
black dress. Then she looked up with a briglit 
smile, and said, '' Here are men's wonderful 
achiev^ements side by side with the wonderful 
works of the Creator, but the Creator's works 
rank far above those of man. Surely we shall 
see nothing finer or more beautiful than this.'" 

"■ I think you will change your opinion, my 
dear, when you have seen more of our mountain 
scenery," said Mrs. Grayson, ''and will, per 
haps, wonder like thousands of others who, after 
so long a time, visit tliis palace of Nature, why 
it is not the favorite resort of all the world. ' ' 

While they sat talking, the light of the day 
was suddenly blotted out, and they were left in 
what at first appeared utter darkness. Nellie 
was taken completely by surprise at the transi- 
tion, and with a little scream she threw herself 
forward and buried her face in her mother's lap. 
Mrs. Grayson bent over her and explained the 
cause of the sudden darkness. 

" ^Ye are passing a tunnel, Nellie, going- 
through the mountain, and we'll be out pres- 
ently. Hold up your head and see, my dear, that 
it is not so dark after all. Tiie porter lighted the 
lamps while you were looking out the window. ' ' 

Nellie timidly lifted her head and glanced fur- 
tively through her fingers, which she still held 
over her eyes, and, becoming used to the dim 
light, with a sigh of relief let her hands drop 



172 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

upon her lap. Then she leaned her head back 
against the seat in a languid attitude and stared 
up at the pale light flickering through the dim 
globes, and w^as perfectly still until they were 
well out of the tunnel. 

She had been but a few minutes, however, in 
a comfortable position, when her attention was 
attracted by the tumultuous shouting and cheer- 
ing of many voices outside. 

In an instant every window and shutter which 
had been lowered as a protection against the dust 
and glare was hajriedly thrown up. and every 
head nearest the windows thrust out. 

"' What is it? What is the matter?'" were ques- 
tions eagerly asked on all sides. As they drew 
near the station the cheering became stronger 
and more vociferous. Ruth turned and looked 
inquiringly at Mr. Hawleigh, who at that mo- 
ment had withdrawn his head from the open 
window. 

'' What is it ?"" she asked, in a disquieted tone. 

Just then another shout, almost deafening. 
went up. " Three cheers for Zeb. Vance! Our 
Zeb!" The effect on Mr. Hawleigh, as well as 
the crowd and everyone in the coach, was magi- 
cal. They seemed suddenly galvanized. 

Mr. Hawleigh rose quickly, a bright light of 
pleasure flashed into his face; and at the same 
moment Mrs. Grayson and Ruth got up also. 

' ' Let us go out on the platform and see North 
Carolina's greatest hero — the 'Sage of Gom- 
broon ■ — the uncrowned king of a noble people, " 
he said, carefully piloting them through the 
good-natured crowd to a position where they 
could see what was going on. 

Upon the long platform of the station-house, 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 17'^ 

atid in its immediate vicinity a large crowd had 
gathered — appai'ently every person in the little 
village — men. women and children and thrii'ty 
farmers from the country who happened to be 
present witli their market i)rodnce: and in their 
midst towered a man, a splendid specimen of 
physical manhood, with iron-gray hair and mus- 
tache, and a face remarkable for its expressive- 
ness, and for its manifold changefulness from 
grave to gay. 

His whole bearing, like his speech, was abso- 
lutely free from any hint of affectation and self- 
consciousness, and Ruth noticed that in his brief 
intercourse with these people, the so-called com- 
mon people, who in their excitement and enthu- 
siasm seemed as though they could not get near 
enough to him, he was genial, frank and bub- 
bling over with good humor, perfectly at home 
amongst the very humblest of them all. 

Right here near his own mountain home, Gom- 
broon, he was as popular, eagerly sought, and as 
heartily cheered as in the council chamber of the 
Nation, where he had won world-wide fame as 
an orator, a politician and a statesman. 

" How they seem to love him,'" said Ruth, as 
they stood watching the people crowd around 
him, pressing him close on every side, and all 
eager to shake hands with him. 

" Love him,"" repeated Mr. Hawleigh, •' they — 
we idolize him. No man was ever loved more 
devoutly, followed so implicitly, and none ever 
swayed the masses so completely. Yes, he is the 
idol of North Carolinians. He loves them and 
they love him. He is distinctively a man of the 
people, and is a colossal figure in State affairs. 
Devotion to principle is the dominant trait of his 



174 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

character, aud he dares to do right, regardless of 
the consequences. I do not suppose there is a 
home within the borders of the State, from the 
cabin of the poor to the mansion of the rich, that 
does not know of and love that man." 

At that moment a shout of laughter rang out. 
" Vance is a true humorist, too," Mr. Hawleigh 
said, smiling ; " ' and his w4t is genuinely origi- 
nal ; but still, however sportive he may be, he is 
never cynical, neither does he try to hurt any 
one by his volatile and irrepressible humor. He 
is one of the very few men who live constantly 
before the public, whose popularity has never 
waned. In my opinion it is simply because of 
that human-heartedness in him which appeals 
to the elementary feelings and instincts, and 
which do not age with the world. A great man 
like Zeb. Vance grows greater with each pro- 
ceeding year, and the people's love for such a 
man is stronger than their admiration. Like; a 
halo there shines round him 'the glory of distinc- 
tion obtained — of brave deeds done!' " 

Ruth looked steadily at him and Hstened with 
a deepening interest — there was such a fine sin- 
cerity in his tone. 

' ' You are indeed a most chivalrous champion 
of the virtues and graces of your countryman, 
Mr. Hawleigh," she said smiling, ''but I'm 
sure Senator Vance is worthy of all the res]3ect 
and adoration the people bestow upon him." 

"There is no question about that," he an- 
swered, with decision and dignity. 

On the present occasion Senator Vance was 
going to Asheville, aud as he moved toward the 
car the people litei^ally hedged him in, so reluc- 
tant were they to part with him, and as the 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 175 

train slowly pulled out of the station, round 
after round of hearty cheers went up, the de- 
monstration lasting till the train was entirely 
out of sight. 

" I am sorry that Senator Vance did not come 
into this car, so you could have seen more of 
him," said Mr. Hawleigh, when they had re- 
turned to their seats. 

" Do such crowds generally greet him wher- 
ever he goes ? ' ' Euth asked wonderingly. 

" Yes, he draws people like a magnet. It is 
only necessary for them to hear his name — to 
know that he is present — and in a little while he 
is surrounded, and then it is an ovation. He is 
certainly a very wonderful man." 

" I am not surprised that he should be the 
most conspicuous rigure in the State, to-day," 
said Euth. " I have read that amusing little 
incident which occurred some years ago — during 
that famous interview between himself when 
he was Governor of North Carolina, and the 
Clover Qor of South Carolina, and now that T have 
seen Senator Vance, I can better appreciate it." 

Mr. Hawleigh laughed. " You allude to the 
incident about ' a long time between drinks!' 
Senator Vance tells that joke on himself with 
inimitable humor, and it has passed into tradi- 
tion, I dare say to be handed down to genera- 
tions to come." 

There was a moment's silence, and then Mrs. 
Grayson said with quiet emphasis — 

'' If there is any one thing which North Caro- 
lina should feel justly proud of, it is her brilliant 
array of distinguished people who were born and 
reared upon her soil. Their name is legion, and 
it would take volumes to recount their achieve- 



176 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR. 

nieuts. While many of them have won a na- 
tional reputation, some are known and honored 
throughout the world, and their lustre will re- 
main undimmed for many long ages in the fu- 
ture. 

She looked at Mr. Hawleigh as she spoke, wiro 
gave her a responsive look and smile. 

" Yes, and quite a number of our young men 
in the present day. too, are coming to the front 
and may become celebrities," he said. " Every 
year some of our North Carolina boys carry off 
the highest honors in the foremost universities 
at the North, and who knows but that some one 
of these may perhaps in time write the history 
of the dear old Commonwealth, vindicate her 
honor, and place her amongst the galaxy of 
States where she rightly belongs?'' 

" Why, have you no written history of your 
State ? ' ' Ruth asked, with a look of interested 
surprise, while a flush of color warmed her deli- 
cate cheek. 

" Oh, yes. several well- written histories, or 
parts of histories,'' Mr. Hawleigh responded. 
'' We have an excellent book written by Dr. Ly- 
man Draper, a gentleman born and reared at 
the North. ' Heroes of King's Mountain,' is the 
title of it, and it is a work of great interest as 
well as merit, and represents, I am told, twenty 
years' careful research." 

" We still have ample material for other val- 
uable histories," said Mrs. Grayson, ''and into 
each should be recorded the fact that the brave 
people of North Carolina were the first to assert 
American independence — a fact that has been 
too well established now to be doubted save by 
those who are reluctant to accredit any glory 
and honor to the Old North State." 



IX THE NEW ELDORADO. ITT 

This last remark rpmindod Kiith of a question 
she intended asking Mr. Hawleigh when they 
were discussing the Mecklenburg Declaration of 
Independence a few moments before, and she 
now turned to him with the query she had in- 
tended putting to him. It was about Charlotte. 
She had met a Miss Dinsmore from that city, 
at Major Yeamons — a beautiful and charming 
young lady, with whom she was much pleased. 

"Yes, Charlotte is a very delightful place," 
he said '' and the liearts of her refined and culti- 
vated people are as warm and genial as their 
climate." 

"I should imagine so, if Miss Dinsmore is a 
fair representative," Ruth answered, then 
blushed a little as Mr. Hawleigh 's dark eyes 
rested on her with a look which, though he was 
unconscious of it, spoke his honest admiration 
of her own beautiful face. Turning to Mrs. 
Grayson, he said, " We shall soon be in Ashe- 
ville, now, Mrs. Grayson, but before we part I 
must thank you and Miss Arnold for the social 
kindliness you have shown me, and assure you 
of my happiness in knowing you both. During 
your stay in Asheviile. if I can be of service to 
you in any way, please command me. You will 
find the number of my address on the card I 
gave you." 

Thei^e was a look of genuine pleasure on his 
frank, open face, and a geniality in his demeanor 
which convinced them of his sincerity. They 
knew that his words were not mere expression 
of cold conventionality, uttered because he was 
expected to say something civil and appropriate 
on such an occasion, but frank, honest words of 
gratification. 



178 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

"It is we who have cause to be grateful," 
said Mrs. Grayson, " and I hope we shall meet 
you again." 

Just then the whistle blew and the porter 
yelled " Asheville ! ' • and Mrs. Grayson rose, 
drawing on her gloves, with a courteous, gentle 
smile. 

" I will give myself the pleasure of calling on 
you to-morrow morning, if I may. Nellie tells 
me that you will be staying at Kenilworth about 
a week ? ' " said Mr. Hawleigh. 

' ' Yes, and we shall be happy to have you call 
on us there — and to-morrow morning will be 
perfectly agreeable to us, ' ' she returned cordially. 

Meanwhile Julia had come forward and gath- 
ered up their things a ad followed in their wake 
as they slowly elbowed their way to the door. 

"This way, if you please," said Mr. Hawleigh, 
taking the initiative and glancing back as they 
got off the car in the midst of the jostling crowd 
and the yelling of the aggressive hackmen. 
' ' Here is one of the Kenilworth carriages, and 
the porter will look after your baggage. ' ' 

After he had assisted them in, and the carriage 
started off, Nellie looked back and with a gra- 
cious smile called out, ' ' Be sure not to forget 
your promise, Mr. Hawleigh." 

Then the driver touched up the horses again 
and they soon disappeared in the midst of other 
carriages and a whirlwind of dust. 

On the following morning after his meeting 
with Mrs. Grayson and Euth, Mr. Hawleigh, 
agreeable to his promise, found him in the Hotel 
Kenilworth, awaiting an answer to his card. 

The soft rustle of Mrs. Grayson's dress, as she 



DT THE NEW ELDORADO. 179 

entered the room at that moment, accompanied 
by Ruth, caused Mr. Hawleigh to turn, and he 
rose at once and aj^proached them. 

" We were expecting you, Mr. Hawleigh, and 
it is so kind of you to come," said Mrs. Grayson. 
' ' We have just been arranging for a drive about 
the city, and I shall be pleased to have you go 
with us, if it is not taking up too much of your 
time." 

"I shall be most happy. I am only sorry 
that you forestalled my purpose and supplied the 
entertainment. I had — " 

" The carriage is waiting your pleasure, 
Madam," the colored servant announced from 
the doorway at this moment, interrupting him. 

" You must come to see us again," Nellie said 
a few hours later to Mr. Hawleigh, as he was 
bidding them good-bye. Mrs. Grayson stood- 
holding her guest's hand, while Ruth stood by 
unconsciously taking off her gloves. " I do not 
know just how long we will be in your city, Mr. 
Hawleigh, but I hope we shall see more of you 
before we go," said Mrs. Grayson. "I hope 
the day has been a very pleasant one for us all. " 

'' Now we'll go to our room," she continued, 
turning to Ruth and Nellie after Mr. Hawleigh 
had left. " Nellie must take a nap before dili- 
ner, and meanwhile I will write to Ralph and 
Carl, and let them know that we are safe and 
well in ' The T.and of the Sky. ' 



55 



180 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 



CHAPTER XV. 

It was one warm afternoon about the middle 
of August, and the monotonous buzzing of in- 
sects filled the air with their never-ceasing mu- 
sic, that Mrs. Gi-ayson and her little party 
reached the Haywood White Sulphur Springs in 
time for a late dinner. 

They had been spending several weeks visit- 
ing some of the most popular summer resorts in 
the mountains. 

As they drove through the beautiful grounds, 
up the broad carriage way, and stopped in front 
of the commodious hotel, their appearance 
excited the usual complement of remarks, and 
they received the usual amount of well-bred 
staring bestowed upon all new comers from the 
gay, laughing group assembled on the long ver- 
andas and upon the shady lawn. 

One quickly slips into the purposeless routine 
of watering-place life, with its charming air of 
do-nothing gayety, movement, languid stir, and 
ease which pervades such places. 

That afternoon Mrs. Grayson, Ruth and Nellie 
went out on the law^n and sat under one of the 
large shade trees, near where an animated 
game of lawn tennis was in progress. 

About the prettily shaded springs lively groups 
of young people were gathered, and detachments 
of children strolled hither and thither in un- 
molested freedom, while in the shady retreats all 
about the grounds, bright colored hammocks 
were slung, and their occupants read, or idly 
lounged, tilting in the delicious breeze. 

"Surely this must be the real Arcadia, "said 
Ruth. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 181 

''I ani glad you are not disappointed in the 
place,-' said Mrs. Grayson. Then added thought- 
fully, " I think now we will remain here until 
the last of the month, and then return home. 
That will give you ample time to get ready for 
school — that is, if you do not mind." 

"I am sure it is very good of you, Mrs. Gray- 
son, to consider my pleasure and convenience. 
Certainly, I shall not mind staying at all. I 
fancy there is more danger of my wishing to pro- 
long these delightful days indefinitely when we 
get ready to leave," said Ruth brightly. 

Ruth noticed among the gay figures flashing 
here and there over the lawn a group of persons — 
two ladies and two gentlemen — who seemed en- 
gaged in animated discussion about the game in 
which they had participated. One of the ladies 
was laughing and talking with elaborate vivac- 
ity, and as they drifted near, Ruth thought she 
half recognized one of the gentlemen, the smal- 
ler of the two, when almost immediatelv a burst 
of feminine laughter caused Nellie to turn sud- 
denly round, give a start, and eagerly exclaim on 
the spur of the moment as she ran forward: 
''Well, 1*11 declare! There^s Mr. Hawleigh! 
Wheie did you come from ? and how long have 
you been here? I'm so glad to see you," she 
said, all in one hurried breath, as she grasped his 
hand, and not giving him time to answer. He 
greeted her cordially, then taking off his hat, 
approached Mrs. Grayson, his manner eager and 
animated. 

" Mrs. Grayson, this is indeed an unexpected 
pleasure. Miss Arnold, " * he said, turning to her 
with the same deferential ease and grace, prof- 
fering his hand " I am very glad to meet you 
again." 



182 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

He glanced toward the fiiends from whom lie 
had quite suddenly detached himself, conscious 
of the courtesy due them, but unavoidably with- 
held — then said, looking at Mrs. Grayson, '' I 
should be pleased to introduce them, if you will 
allow me.'' 

" I shall be pleased to know them,'' she said. 
They stepped a few paces near the group, and 
Mr. Hawleigh said, " Miss Rivers, permit me to 
introduce you to Mrs. Grayson and Miss Arnold. '' 
The other lady was standing a little apart, talk- 
ing to Nellie, but looked up just at that moment 
and he added, " Miss Exum — Mrs. Grayson and 
Miss Arnold. ' ' Then turning to the gentleman 
who had been watching the introductions vvith 
that air of polite interest that one involuntarily 
assumes on a like occasion, Mr. Hawleigh con- 
tinued, ' ' My friend, Mr. Rivers. ' ' As soon as 
the exchange of civilities had been disposed of, 
Mrs. Grayson led the way to the seats which she 
and Ruth had just vacated, and they all sat 
down. 

They had not been talking a great while be- 
fore Ruth discovered that Miss Rivers and Miss 
Exum were thorough-going society young ladies, 
and had whiled away the greater part of the sum- 
mer season down by the waves of several fashion- 
able seaside resorts, and were now bidding adieu 
to the fascinations of this mountain watering- 
place, preparatory to their return home — Miss 
Rivers to Charleston, South Carolina, and Miss 
Exum to Atlanta. Georgia. These personal 
facts, and others, had been involuntarily con- 
veyed in the course of the general small talk 
which followed. 

As the conversation progessed from one topic 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 183 

to another, Euth had been taking mental photo- 
graphs of her new acquaintances. Just then 
she furled her fan and laid it upon her lap, 

' ' It has been oppressively warm all day, ' ' she 
observed to Mr. Hawleigh, sitting near her. 

"Yes, it has indeed; quite tropical. By the 
way, I am reminded to ask you, Miss Arnold, if 
you are one of the ' sunrise worshipers, ' " he 
said, smiling. 

Euth opened her eyes wide and looked up to 
see what he meant, and then smiled too. 

" Oh, you mean, have I witnessed a sunrise 
since I've been in the mountains ? I am sorry to 
say that I have not, but the opportunity and not 
the inclination has been lacking. Invariably, 
something has happened every time that we 
have planned to see one. ' ' 

" 0, then you must by all means join our 
party and go with us to Hiawatha's Heights. It 
is said that the sunrise from that point is per- 
fectly grand and bewildering," said Miss Exum. 
She turned to Mr. Elvers. ' ' Has it been decided 
that we go to-morrow morning? You know 
we've delegated you master of ceremonies of the 
' Sunrise Expedition.' " 

" I don't think it has been quite settled yet. 
whether we go to-morrow morning or the one 
following. If I can succeed in getting the don- 
keys, and the weather is favorable, I know of 
nothing else to the contrary. Mrs. Grayson, we 
shall be pleased to have you and Miss Arnold go 
with us, should I be fortunate enough to per- 
fect our plans for the trip.'" 

"How kind! We shall be pleased to join 
you." 

At that instant a slender, handsome gentle- 



KS4 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

maa with blonde hair and mustache approached 
them. He was smoking a cigar, and sauntered 
along with a bright, careless air. Miss Rivers 
gave a quick glance at Maud Exum, who pre- 
tended not to see this addition to their party. 

" Just in time to help us out of a difficulty, 
Charlie,'' said Mr. Rivers, as the person ad- 
dressed as ' ' Charlie ' ' came up. 

"■ Pardon my intrusion," he said hastily, hft- 
ing his hat and addressing the little company. 
" I was not aware there were strangers with 
you." This to Mr. Rivers, and he glanced at 
Mrs. Grayson and Ruth. Thereupon Mr. Rivers 
presented him to the latter two ladies, and soon 
he glided into place and the conversation with 
that ease and aptitude that people in society 
naturally fall into in making new acquaintances. 

As they leisurely wended their way back to 
the hotel, cool, playful winds swept from the 
mountain peaks, now bathed in the radiance of 
the setting sun, and frolicked across the lawn 
powdered with tiny gold blossoms and dappled 
with shadows, then drifted lazily away over 
darkling plains and valleys in remote distances. 

On the long veranda, handsomely dressed peo- 
ple in the coolest and freshest of toilets chatted 
and promenaded while the band played a bril- 
liant waltz, and from within came the sound of 
merry lite and laughter. 

" Oh, here you are," a voice exclaimed jaun- 
tily from the upper veranda, at the same mo- 
ment pelting Mr. Rivers with a bouquet of wild 
flowers, as he and Ruth Arnold ascended the 
steps. He threw back his head and looked up 
smiling, hoping to catch a glimpse of the fair 
madcap, but she had vanished. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 185 

" Well, unfortunately, I'm not seer enough to 
know if the floral pelting was intended as a com- 
pliment or as a drubbing," he laughed, examin- 
ing the flowers. 

''Looking for a card, Rivers?" a masculine 
voice facetiously called out across the veranda 
from among the loungers. " Better accept them 
on good faith, and ask no questions," said the 
same voice. 

There was a general laugh at Mr. Rivers' ex- 
pense, in which he joined. 

"Don't be jealous, Frank," he returned 
blithely, shaking the flowers at him and rather 
touched out of his habitual haugthy reserve. 
'• I've got an exquisite bouquet, at any rate." 

At this time Miss Exum and Mr. Hawkins 
came up in time to enjoy the joke about the 
flowers, there was more talking and bantering 
among themselves, and then the ladies separated 
to go to their respective apartments to make a 
hurried toilet for supper. 

'• Don't forget, Miss x\rnold! early to-morrow 
morning!" caUed back Miss Exum, wishing to 
say something to Ruth — then she threw her a 
kiss and a gay ' ' au revoir, ' ' and ran lightly up 
stairs, humming as she went snatches from that 
pretty, sentimental song, ' * I promise thee. ' ' 



13 



186 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 



CHAPTER XVI. 

At a wonderfully early hour the next morn- 
ing the little party was astir. An air of bustle 
and preparation pervaded the hotel, or that part 
of it where the excursionists were gathered mak- 
ing arrangements to depart. 

They arrived at the summit of the mountain 
in due season and without misadventure, and 
while waiting for the sunrise hour the gentle- 
men busied themselves in improvising a camp 
and lighting the camp fire. 

They were still gathered about this, chatting 
and laughing, when Mrs. Grayson, who had 
been intently watching the east for the first sign 
of sunrise, now directed their attention to the 
pale streak of light which lay along the edge of 
the horizon. With an apparent simultaneity of 
action, each one turned his face toward the east. 

" I believe we shall have a fine sunrise, after 
all," she said ; "and just such a one as we hoped 
to witness. How fortunate we are to have come 
to-day." 

' ' But just look at the fog. Mamma ! ' ' cried 
Nellie in a tone of disappointment. " We can't 
see a thing for that. ' ' 

' ' That mist is cloud, Nellie, ' ' said Mr. Haw- 
leigh, drawing Nellie in front of him and laying 
his hands lightly upon her shoulders; "and 
when the sun comes up it will pass away and 
you will see one of the loveliest sights in all the 
State — rugged mountains, limpid lakes, soft 
sylvan scenery and wooded island. ' ' 

" Oh, do look!" exclaimed Miss Exum enthu- 
siastically, pointing in the direction of the flash- 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 187 

ing radiance and appealing to the little company. 
" Yonder comes the laz}^ old king at last, and 
he's coming in gorgeous pomp and splendor, too. 
How grand!" 

They all stood gazing in wonder and admira- 
tion at the sunrise glow which was widening 
and growing brighter and brighter every mo- 
ment. Now and then some one of them would 
burst forth into ecstacies and then sink into 
silence. As they gazed entranced, the sunrise 
came — the most gorgeous sunrise their eyes had 
ever beheld, and one whose pageant no future 
glory on earth could ever efface from memory. 
A common awe seemed to pervade every heart, 

A long, hesitating, quivering ray of light shot 
forward until it touched the star that burned in 
the zenith. The stai- paled in splendor, and the 
lesser ones faded one by one. Then wave after 
wave of light, tinted with prismatic radiance, 
surged up from the crimson glories of the east, 
filling the enchanting prospect with its luminous 
glory. As a mighty monarch returns from vic- 
tory with his glittering cohort of warriors, so 
the sun was now followed and surrounded, but 
unobscured by clouds of every shape and tinted 
with every hue. Massive rays of light pierced 
them like flaming swords of cherubim, and 
glowed beyond and above them in the sky with 
blinding splendor. 

"I believe I could watch that scene of enchant- 
ment forever," said Miss Exum with delight, 
her eyes dilating wide. " It is more stupendous 
and beautiful than my most vivid fancy ever 
pictured the works of eastern genii, even."' 

" I am forcibly reminded of the vision of the 
Christians triumph, and the Celestial City," 



188 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

said Mrs. Grayson. "It seems to me that I 
never before enjoyed such glorious thoughts of 
the happy dawning of the last day. ' ' 

"Are we really above the clouds, Mr. Haw- 
leigh ? "" asked Nellie, with some misgiving in 
her tone. 

" Indeed, we are. But you needn't be afraid, 
Nellie. Now, look yonder where the mist is 
moving, just like great billows of distant water 
rolling in the sunshine. Isn't it lovely ? Let us 
suppose that the ' Maid of the Mist ' is cruising 
there in her phantom ship — " 

" Or that the ghost of some Indian warrior 
whose savage war-cry has drowned the murmur 
of. the bright waters, cleft b}^ the keel of his 
birch -bark canoe, is cruising alongside of her," 
laughed Miss Exum. " I'd like to think so, 
wouldn't you, httle Nell ? " 

" Yes, but I shouldn't like to be down there 
with them." said Nellie, looking out over the 
mist which was curling away in golden wreaths. 

" Miss Arnold, did you ever see anything so 
gloriously grand and beautiful as that?" Mr. 
Hawleigh turned to Ruth with a sudden motion, 
and her beautiful eyes were solemn and full of 
thought, and showed that her whole soul was 
absorbed in the sublimity of the scene. 

'' I find myself at a loss to express my delight, 
so I keep silent. I only wish that I might re- 
tain an impression of this picture, as I now see 
it, as long as I live. It is as my guardian. Dr. 
Leslie, told me — no pen can describe, nor any 
artist paint it — the indefinable charm of the ex- 
altation would be left out." She spoke with a 
dreamy remoteness of tone, and there was a 
soft, sad dreaminess in her lovely eyes. Mr. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. Isy 

Hawleigh could not help gazing admiringly into 
the bright. insi)ired, upturned face — a face 
which charmed him irresistibly, though it 
roused no softer feeling than that of admiration 
of its beauty. 

Miss Exum interrupted his glowing reverie 
with a bright face and a winning appeal. 

" Oh, Mr. Hawleigh, doesn't your muse feel 
the inspiration of the moment, and won't you 
recite something appropriate to the occasion? " 

" I'm not a poet. Miss Maud," he answered, 
with a laugh of evasion. '" I was just thinking 
how like this is to human existence," waving 
his hand toward the scene before him. 

"Well, I am thinking about the poetry of it," 
she said flippantly. Haven't I read some verses 
that you've published — I'm quite sure I have 
somewhere. Let me think — where did I see 
them ? 0, pshaw, I can't recall just now ; but 
never mind, I saw them," she said. '' But if 
you are too modest to give us something origi- 
nal, suppose you recite something from your fa- 
vorite poet, ' ' she persisted. 

" I have several," he admitted, calmly smil- 
ing. 

'' Oh, dear, you are incorrigible. Well, let 
me suggest Wordsworth, or Bryant, or Longfel- 
low — the last two are among my favorites." 

" Next to possessing ' the faculty divine, to 
scatter flowers along one's path, and lift one's 
gaze to the stars, ' as did your gifted favorites, I 
should be most happy to oblige you. Miss Maud, 
but frankly, I must confess, I'm unequal to com- 
plying with your request. It seems to me that 
when we have the vividness and splendor of the 
reality before us, we do not need the dazzling 



190 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

gloAV of the imagination to light it up, as it 
were. ' ' 

' ' Perhaps not, ' ' she sighed, with reserved re- 
grets as she turned away to take a last look at 
the prospect at which the others were still 
gazing. Just at that moment a hunter's horn 
sounded with a resonant note over the Alpine- 
like hills, followed by the baying of several deer 
'hounds, giving tongue lustily, drawing nearer 
and yet nearer, and running as though straining 
themselves with game in sight. Suddenly the 
music of the dogs and horn seemed to stop, but 
presently rose again on a distant plateau — the 
next moment it was lost in the valley below. 

Miss Exum began to hum softly to herself, 
' ' Kathleen Mavourneen. ' ' 

' ' Do you know, I never hear the sound of a 
hunter's horn or the bay of a dog in the early 
morning that that song doesn't flash into my 
mind ? '' sh asid, a quick color coming into her 
face. " I think it is one of the very sweetest 
little ballads I ever heard, and it should never 
get too old-fashioned to be sung, though one 
rarely hears it now-a-days. Somehow its pathos 
touches me. and makes me strangely sad." 

' ' Yes, I like it, too, ' ' he said, ' ' but I do not 
ko5vn that it affects me in that way. When we 
return to the hotel I should be glad if you will 
play and sing it for me.'' 

"Piano or guitar — which shall it be," she 
asked quickly, with a conscious blush. 

'' Either." Then added, '"I'm glad we didn't 
prolong our slumbers as did the indolent Kath- 
leen, or we should have missed the dazzling 
glories of this enchanted hour. See yonder ! Do 
you want sublimer poetry, or a more magnifi- 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 191 

cent picture than that ? It ahnost takes one's 
breath away, and I do feel inpsired at this mo- 
ment to repeat these hnes of Bryant : 

•' My heart is awed within me when I think 
Of the great miracle that still goes on. 
In silence, round me — the perpetual work 
Of thy creation, finished, yet renewed 
Forever. Written on thy works I read 
The lesson of thy own eternity." 

" Those lines are from Bryant's ' Forest 
Hymn, ' are they not '? ' ' she asked. 

* ' Yes. I wish I could remember all of it, ' ' 
he said, and then they relapsed into silence. 

Faintly mingling with the far-off skies, the 
blue of the mountains outlined the panorama 
like a halo of encircling sublimity ; the valleys 
of distant rivers bordered with trees seemed like 
threads of silken green leading the eye toward 
the sea, till they vanished from view; town after 
town dotted the vast landscape; hundreds of 
plantations blended their various lights and 
shades; mighty forests, whose shadowy haunts 
only the footsteps of the Indian braves had pen- 
etrated, as they roamed in quest of game, while 
gorgeous masses of golden vapor towered above 
the remote mountain crests until the abyss of 
heaven had swallowed up their forms. 

" There is something peculiarly inspiring in 
those vast depths of air," said Mr. Rivers, "and 
I cannot help wondering if people living in this 
' Land of the Sky' can be actuated by any sordid 
motive." 

'* I don't know about that, but I do know I 
feel actuated by a yearning toward the source 
of supply, ' ' laughed Miss Exum ; ' ' for I am 
ravenously hungry. This atmosphere is just 
like a tonic, and if it has affected the rest of you 



192 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OJt, 

as it has me, I. have my doubts if we'll have 
enough lunch to go round. ' ' 

" If you will all come now, we will go to the 
carriage and have lunch," Mrs. Grayson said, 
" and afterwards, I think we'll be quite ready 
to return home. ' ' 

" Mrs. Grayson, it is most fortunate that we 
have you with us. You have consideration to 
the last degree, and we are certainly indebted to 
you for your forethought," said Mr. Hawkins. 
" I had forgotten all about the lunch." 

The party at the table had broken up inta 
laughing, chattering groups, and were strolling 
about the ground enjoying themselves in their 
several different ways. 

The fragments of the repast had been gathered 
together, packed in the hamper and returned to 
the carriage. 

Suddenly, on the stillness, there broke a low, 
rumbling sound, resembling the distant roar of 
artillery, drawing nearer in subdued force, then 
gradually retreating, while upon Nature there fell 
a strange, still calm which awed creation into 
instinctive silence, and then she seemed to hold 
her breath and listen. Involuntarily, everyone 
paused and looked upward at the cloudless sky, 
unchanged, serene and beautiful. 

" Do you think we are going to have a 
storm ? ' ' Miss Rivers asked, with a grave face, 
looking at Mr. Hawleigh; "I can't see even a 
floating cloud." 

' ' Yes, I think we are, ' ' he replied, ' ' and the 
best thing for us to do is to get down the moun- 
tain as soon as possible. I can tell you these 
mountain showers mean business, and we might 
as well stand under a waterfall as to have their 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 193 

contents emptied upon our heads. We'd better 
go back to the carriage. I see the driver has 
put to the horses, and there, Mrs. Grayson is 
beckoning to us. Miss Maud. I will suggest 
that you take my seat in the carriage and I will 
ride your horse, and Miss Arnold — '' he stopped 
— " could you both manage one seat, and I 
would lead the horse ? '' 

"Dear me. no,"' Miss Exam said, laughing 
merrily. " I couldn't think of doing such a 
thing. Why, it will be glorious fun to get a 
good drenching, and since I've already ruined 
my dress it doesn't matter in the least." 

" But your health, Maud — that is much more 
important than your dress. You should take 
care of your health, if nothing else. Now, do 
be sensible and listen to reason," catechised Miss 
Eivers, with an earnestness Maud had never 
known her to manifest in another's interest be- 
fore. But nothing she could say moved Maud 
from her purpose. She looked up again, scan- 
ning the heavens and shading her eyes with her 
hand from the dazzling sun. 

" Indeed, I have no sort of faith in the ex- 
pected storm. We'll be at the Springs long be- 
fore it comes; at any rate, I am willing to risk 
it, for it would be too bad that I should lose my 
horseback ride. Here comes Mr. Hawkins now 
with my horse, and Mr. Eivers and Miss Ar- 
nold are ready mounted and waiting for us." 

" So we'll leave you to the tender mercies of 
the elements, and shall expect you to report to 
us later on. Best wishes," said Mr. Hawleigh, 
and with a smiling nod, he and Miss Rivers hur- 
ried off to the carriage. 

" I came back as soon as I could," Mr. Haw- 



194: UNDKR GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

kins said, after he had dismounted, and looking 
down at Maud with handsome, dancing eyes; 
then, quickly tossing the bridles over the 
horses' necks, he left them to their own devices 
and came up to her. 

'•What if it should rain, Maud?'' he said, 
glancing up at the sky. " I was about to sug- 
gest that you go in the carriage, for I would not 
have you get a ducking and then get sick as a 
reason of it. I should never forgive myself." 

"No. I'm not going in the carriage unless you 
wish to get rid of me, and are not willing to ac- 
cept the responsibility of — " she hesitated with a 
pretty pout, then looked up at him with smiling 
innocence. 

Charlie Haw^kins laughed. " Ah, you know 
better, Maud, ^ou couldn't say it — and — 
don't — try to think it." 

A few moments they stood facing the radiant, 
sun-filled east, while its refulgent glory fell 
around them, and turned to rings of gold Maud's 
sunny forehead curls. 

••' See, they have left us, and we are all alone 
in the sublime solitude of the mountains." She 
smiled, and pointed to the spot where the retreat- 
ing party had lately been. 

Without a word he brought the horses forward, 
stooped and lifted her to the saddle, and, as they 
were leaving the majestic scene behind, he said — 

" Look back, Maud, and let us never forget 
this lovely spot. I have found my Minnehaha 
and you your Hiawatha. " 

' ' There is no danger I shall ever forget, ' ' she 
said, smiling. And then he slowly repeated, as 
they descended the mountain slope — 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 195 

" As unto the bow the cord is, 
So unto the man is woman ; 
Though she bends him she obeys him, 
Tliough she draws him, yet she follows 
Useless each without the other." 

The sun was shining gloriously in the valley 
below. 



196 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 



CHAPTER XVII. 

That evening a brilliant reception, the last of 
the season, was given by a number of young 
men in honor of the lady visitors at the Springs. 
The spacious dining-room, which had been tem- 
porarily converted into a reception-room, was 
beautifully and elaborately decorated for the 
occasion with exquisite floral designs and ever- 
greens, while great palms in ornamental pots 
were artistically arranged about the music stand. 

It was at a rather late hour, when Miss Exum. 
attired in gauzy silvery draperies of white and 
blue artfully combined, and which left her white 
throat and arms bare, knocked at Miss Rivers" 
door, waited, then knocked again, but receiving- 
no answer, and presuming that the maid was 
still busying herself with her mistress' toilet,, 
turned and descended the broad stairs. In the 
brightly lighted hall below she found Mr. Haw- 
kins eagerly awaiting her appearance. The 
sound of gay laughter and throbbing music 
floated out on the warm fragrant air, penetrat- 
ing her with its sweet pathos and kindling a 
keener appetite for present pleasures and enjoy- 
ment, and unconsciously she nodded her pretty 
head with an air of profound appreciation. 

' ' Welcome at last ! ' ' Mr. Hawkins said, his 
eyes all aglow with youthful gladness, and his 
lips curled with a gay smile at the sight of the 
nymphlike vision w^hich floated down before 
him. 

" I reproach myself for having exhausted 
your patience," she said gaily, greeting him. 
" Do forgive me." 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 197 

'' Oh, that is all right now that you've 
come,"' he said brightly. " Now we'll finish the 
day so auspiciously begun, with music, moon- 
light and merry-making." He drew her gloved 
hand through his arm, holding the fragile fin- 
gers close in his, and turned toward the veranda, 
which was already invaded ^ith scores of young 
people promenading and chatting and flitting in 
and out through the open windows. She stopped 
suddenly, and with a brilliant smile, held up h<^r 
disengaged hand, and made a sign of negation. 

" No, not now. Let us go into the reception- 
room and indulge in its ' foibles and follies and 
frailties.' " 

Never before did Maud's joyous spirit have 
freer reins — never before did she so completely 
surrender herself to the fleeting pleasures of the 
hour; never before had she been so intoxicated 
and held in delightful subjection by music and 
motion, and when, an hour later, after dancing 
set after set with different partners, Mr. Haw- 
kins returned to claim another waltz, she laugh- 
ingly declared that she could not take another 
step — that she was satiated at last, even with 
the charm of the waltz, the melody of music, 
the fragrance of the flowers ; but she gladly took 
his arm and strolled on the moonlit veranda, 
leaving the subdued hum and murmur of voices 
and the empty pleasures of the reception-room 
behind them. Once out in the fresh cool air, 
she instantly felt revived and refreshed, and 
after half an hour's promenade, she was quite 
herself again. 

They did not return to the reception-room 
again during the evening, but went into the 
dimly-lighted parlor, which was very quiet now 



198 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

and seemed entirely deserted, but as they en- 
tered some one rose at the farther end of the 
room and came toward them. 

In the uncertain twihght they did not recog- 
nize friend or stranger, till they drew closer to 
him. 

" Why, Hawleigh, old fellow, what are you 
doing in here — all alone, too. Haven't seen you 
the whole evening. Completely shelved your- 
self, have you ? ' ' said Mr. Hawkins, slapping 
him on the shoulder. " What have you been 
doing with yourself ? Let us sit down here by 
the window, and I want that you should render 
an account. ' ' 

" And how we've missed you!'' Maud impul- 
sively broke forth, and she offered him her hand. 
'* And your friends, Mrs. Hrayson and Miss Ar- 
nold ? " she asked; "where are they? What 
charming people they are — but Miss Arnold, 
v/ell she's just the loveliest creature I ever saw. 
I am never tired of looking at her, By the way, 
why are they not present this evening ? ' ' 

Mr. Hawleigh looked at her in well-bred sur- 
prise. ' ' Mrs. Grayson ^nd Miss Arnold are both 
in mourning, you are aware; Miss Arnold re- 
cently, and would not be expected to partici- 
pate in an occasion of this kind. In fact, I 
don't believe they care for such things at any 
time." 

"Why, to be sure I knew they were in mourn- 
ing. How thoughtless of me to ask such an ab- 
surd question, " she said, with a provoked laugh. 
" I'm glaa, however, I didn't ask them, or 
they'd had a right to bracket me with the un- 
pardonably ignorant. ' ' 

Suddenly she felt her face flush as she sank 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 109 

back in her seat, and opeuiug her fan with a 
clash, began to use it vigorously for a moment 
with a rueful air. 

"There's no harm done, Miss Maud, at all 
events," said Mr. Hawleigh in a consolatory 
tone, smiling; " and your mistake, which was a 
very natural one, is by no means reprehensible. 
Charlie, you asked me how I spent the evening. 
Mrs. Grayson and Miss Arnold were in here an 
hour or more ; then we had a promenade on the 
veranda, and, in a quiet ivay, I've been most 
dehghtf uUy entertained. ' ' 

"I am glad you have," Mr. Hawkins said, 
cordially. 

" Are they here until the close of the season ? 
I mean Mrs. Grayson and Miss Arnold, of 
course," asked Maud, whose look of annoyance 
had relaxed into a brighter expression. 

" I think that was Mrs. Grayson's intention, 
but she tells me that she received letters this 
afternoon containing news which makes it im- 
perative for her to return home next week. 
When do you go. Miss Maud ? ' ' 

" Day after to-morrow. Mamma says posi- 
tively she can't stay a day longer, as we've been 
from home since June, and she's dreadfully 
wearied out rather than rested from her outing. 
She declares it has been no recreation to her at 
all, but I tell her I've enjoyed everything 
enough for us both. Vida goes then, too — day 
after to-morrow; and — oh, I want to ask you, 
Mr. Hawleigh, while I think of it. Do you 
know anything about Mr. Henrique, that mys- 
terious looking stranger who has been with Vida 
like her shadow all the evening ? I don't think 
he danced with any other lady present, and 



200 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, ' 

when Vida happened to have another partner, 
he would stand with folded arms and gaze 
superciliously on with a look of derision levelled 
at everyone in the room. He may be very nice 
and all that, but somehow he affects me pecu- 
liarly whenever I look at him ! ' ' Maud shrugged 
her pretty shoulders and made a shivering 
sound through her teeth. 

'' I'm sorry I can give you no information 
with regard- to Mr. Henrique,"' said Mr. Haw- 
leigh. "• I saw him this afternoon in the office 
soon after his arrival, and afterwards on his 
way to the reception-room with Miss Rivers, but 
I have no acquaintance with him whatever." 

Maud fancied she detected a note of disappro- 
val in his tone which implied " neither did he 
care to have any acquaintance with him." 

" Weil, I just can't make him out at all," she 
said slowly, looking out before her into the 
moonlight, with a reflective light in her soft 
blue eyes. 

" You don't suppose he'd hypnotize any one, 
do you, pet ? ' ' laughed Charlie Hawkins, taking 
Maud's hand and holding it up caressingly, the 
magnificent diamond solitaire flashing in the 
moonlight. 

She stared at him for a moment in dismay, 
then struggled to free her hand, while she looked 
daggers of protestation at him for this bold 
action in the presence of another. 

" Don't, Maud; please don't; I've told Harry 
everything. You said I might, and he's almost 
as happy as I am. " He drew her hand which 
he still held firmly to his lips and kissed it. 

"Miss Maud," Mr. Hawleigh said earnestly, 
' ' I am very glad this opportunity has been given 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 201 

me to offer my sincere congratulations. You 
must know that, as Charlie's lifelong friend, I 
feel that I am entitled to share his confidence 
in a matter of such vital importance to him — 
and to you. Indeed, I assure you, I heartily re- 
joice with him in his supreme happiness and 
good fortune in winning so fair a i)rize. My 
heart's best wishes for the perfect and continued 
happiness of you both, could I but put them into 
words, while true and sincere, might sound like 
fulsome flattery to you — and perhaps to him, 
my most esteemed friend who has known me so 
long. 

Like a frightened bird. Maud's first impulse 
had been to take refuge in flight. A hundred 
vague |)ur] >oses crowded upon one another faster 
than she could form them, but she sat silent and 
shy in an anguish of indecision, with averted 
face, yet not shrinking from him while he 
talked. Her silence made him apprehensive of 
having wounded her in some way, but when he 
bent toward her to get a better view of her face 
she smiled and gave him her hand in the old 
frank way, while his friend placed the one he 
held in his cordial clasp, saying; 

"There, thank him, darhng; my friends are 
your friends, too, and Harry Hawleigh is one of 
the best and truest friends I ever had.'' 

" Of course, I thank you, Mr. Hawleigh, for 
your kind wishes and congratulations; I am 
very grateful to you, and I hope — you know 
that — " she faltered with a broken voice, then 
looked wistfully at her betrothed. " What shall 
I say, Charlie ? " she whispered softly. 

"Oh, you dear little one; you pretty shy bird I 
.How lovely you are!" he said involuntarily, 
14- 



202 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

catching her hands with rajDture and covering 
them with kisses. " So you don't know what 
to say, pet ? Well, I suppose I'll have to under- 
take to make it all right with him. Keep your 
seat, Harry — don't be going, yet" — this to his 
friend. " Hold on a little! " 

"Thanks; it is late, and I must say good- 
night to you both." Mr. Hawleigh rose as 
though he had suddenly thought of the lateness 
of the hour. He started toward the door, and 
his friend intercepted him. 

" By-the by, Harry, you are not in earnest 
about leaving to-morrow, are you ?. Can't you 
stay over till the day after ? I will be glad to 
have you as my guest — our guest "' — he looked 
mischievously at Maud. 

'' More than obliged, Charlie, but it is out of 
the question. I must go to-morrow — my vaca- 
tion is over then. You'll stop in Asheville a 
day or two, I suppose ? ' " 

"Can't do it, thanks. Am obliged to be in 
Richmond by Monday." He glanced at Maud — 
' ' I wanted to go viith this little girl home — all 
the way to Atlanta — but she just wouldn't hear 
to it. ' Business before pleasure, * and all that 
sort of thing, she urged upon me, so I've got to 
submit to authority and obey orders now." 

Harry Hawleigh laughed. " Well, it is the 
very wisest thing you can do, Charlie. But I 
really must be going. " " He held out his hand 
to Maud; " (:iood-bye, Miss Maudl my best 
wishes for your happiness, and I trust we shall 
meet again before a great while. Charlie, I'll 
see you in the morning, before I get off. Good- 
night. " 

" Good-night. Harry," and the next moment 
he was gone. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 208 



CHAPTER XVIII. 

The next day passed pretty much Uke many 
days which had gone before, but all too rapidly 
for at least two of the happy guests who were 
to take their departure in a few short hours 
from this charming Arcadia. 

The ladies had spent the morning on the lawn, 
some idling over their fancy work and sketch- 
ing, others reading or playing tennis or ten-pins, 
while the gentlemen, or those who did not par- 
ticipate in these too active pastimes — having due 
regard to the state of the weather — lounged and 
lingered over their cigars in some shady spot, 
seemingly indifferent to all mankind and dis- 
tracting cares, but keenly enjoying that sense of 
tranquil charm and content, that state of acqui- 
escent repose, soon enough to be disturbed when 
they had returned to the excitement and busy 
routine of their every-day life. 

Mr. Hawleigh had made his adieux and de- 
parted hours ago, and a sense of his absence im- 
parted a tinge of sadness to the feelings of his 
many friends left behind. Amongst the group 
gathered on the lawn that day, the conversation 
turned upon the changes each would soon make, 
and as Maud had said, '• The very atmosphere 
breathed of vague farewells too painful to be 
spoken. ' ' 

" To me there is nothing more painful," said 
Charlie Hawkins, "than this breaking up of 
new and pleasant associations, a severing of 
friendl}^ ties that we make in our summer jour- 
neyings hither and thither. I cannot help wish- 
ing that I shall meet again all the charming 



2<»4 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

j)eople I come across iu my holiday wanderings; 
and yet, it rarely happens that a good wind 
blows any of the same summer friends together 
again." 

''By the way, Hawkins," said Mr. Rivers, 
turnitig to him for a change of subject, '' what- 
ever became of that young fellow we met up in 
the mountains of Virginia last summer ? A sort 
of protege of yours, wasn't he '? Somehow he 
came into my head just now. He was a cour- 
ageous, talented young felloAv. and had un- 
doubtedly artistic ability.'' 

' ' Whom do you mean V That young fellow 
who was sketching some scenes around the 
White Sulphur Springs?" asked Mr, Hawkins, 
absently. '' There were several of them, if I 
rememlDer correctly, but I suppose you have ref- 
erence to Cecil Brian." 

" Yes, I think that was his name. Don't see 
how you could forget him. My recollection is 
that you took quite a fancy to him and he to 
you." 

Mr. Hawkins looked at Mr. Rivers a moment 
in silence as if he were thinking, and then said: 

" He went to Europe this summer to com- 
plete his studies, or to take lessons in painting, 
and, I've no doubt will do first-rate. Yes. he 
has decided talent, and I believe will make 
a name for himself some day." 

' ' Pardon me. but are you speaking of Cecil 
Brian, the artist?" Mrs. Grayson asked, paus- 
ing in the midst of her low side talk with Miss 
Rivers and Ruth, and turning suddenly round. 

" The same. Madam," returned Mr. Hawkins, 
puzzled to know why she asked. 

'' Well, if you are a particular friend of his. 



IX THE NEW ELDORADO. 205 

I'm quite sure it will give you i)leasure to hear 
very recently from him. I had a letter from mj 
son yesterday, who is now in Germany, and he 
writes me that he had just received a long letter 
from Mr. Brian — a letter that was extremely 
touching. He spoke very feelingly of some 
kind friend who had helped him to pursue his 
studies abroad, and said he could never feel suffi- 
ciently grateful for his goodness, but hoped that 
at a futin-e day he might be able to help some 
young man as he had been helped himself, when 
he got ahead and had money to spare. He is 
very much encouraged in his work. At present 
Mr. Brian is in Paris." 

Mr. Hawkins' cheek reddened slightly, invol- 
untai'ily. " I am indeed glad to hear such en- 
couraging news from Mr. Brian." 

He stopped a moment, and resumed as though 
apologizing or explaining away something: 

" Mr. Brian's father, through illness in his 
family, and other misfortunes, became abso- 
lutely unable to assist his son in the completion 
of his studies, although he knew he had unusual 
talent, which, if developed, would be to him a 
means of earning a living, and also helping the 
family. Knowing that aid at this particular 
crisis meant so much to him, I — " he hesitated 
again, being perturbed by the effort he was 
making to conceal his own generosity, when 
Miss Rivers, who had been regarding him with 
judicial eyes, interposed quickly. 

'•■ And so you were the generous benefactor, 
to hold out the helping hand of which he was in 
such sore need ? " 

'' Oh, what I did was such a little thing, and 
not worth speaking of, " he said hurriedly. "I 



20H UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

think it is a pity that there are so many true 
stories of line talents, cramped opportunities and 
courageous efforts lost to the world, simply be- 
cause in this busy life of many calls upon time 
and purse, the ever generous public cannot be 
made acquainted with the special features of 
such cases. I often wish that I were able to 
help many a deserving bread-winner, struggling 
on the journey of life trying to make his way — 
even though it were but a little, * ' he said frankly 
and enthusiastically. " You were Speaking of 
your son a few moments ago, Mrs. Grayson; 
may I ask his name ^ ' ' 

■• Carl — Carl Grayson.'" 

* ■ Is it possible V ' ' he said eagerly. * ' How 
delighted I am that I have met you — Mrs. Gray- 
son — Carl's mother — and to think I shouldn't 
know* until now ! He and I were at Chapel Hill 
together, and a nobler heart never beat, and a 
better friend I never had. Why the fellows at 
the University fairly lionzied him : he held his 
own in the good graces of all the Professors, too, 
and if he were not just what he is, he would be 
unworthy such a mother." 

Mrs. Grayson laughed. '' Thank you, Mr. 
Hawkins. You must know that it is very pleas- 
ant to me — his mother — to hear you speak so 
cordially of my son. When I write Carl I shall 
tell him that I met you, and how kindly you 
remembered him. I've no doubt he'll be pleased 
to hear from 3^ou. *' 

' ' You are very kind, and I could burden you 
with messages for him. but if you will be good 
enough to give me his address I will write to 
him." 

As he looked up, Nellie motioned to him not 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 20T 

to give warning. She was coming stealthily up 
behind Ruth, and presently she laid her little 
hand over her eyes, drew her head back and im- 
printed a hearty kiss upon her cheek. 

"Nellie! you little rogue! you little hypocrite! 
I know who you are/' said Ruth, pinioning her 
hands and playfully disengaging herself. ''Now 
what shall I do with you ? ' ' 

*• Come and go with me to dinner, that's just 
what you can do, Cousin Ruth. There, listen ! 
the band's playing now, and that means for us 
to hurry. Are you all ready to go ? " 

' ' Yes, we are ready, ' ' said Miss Rivers, and 
they all rose at once. '' The band is playing 
• Home, Sweet Home. ' It is said that the man 
who wrote that song never had a home, but I 
don't beheve it. He certainly must have expe- 
rienced the delights of one. else he could never 
have expressed so perfectly the charm that one 
feels in reaching his own particular haven of 
rest." 

A voice at her elbow made her start and turn 
round. '' Miss Rivers, will you grant me the 
honor of seeing you to dinner ? " It was Mr. 
Henrique who had brought her speech to a 
rather abrupt termination. After addressing 
himself exclusively to her, and bowing to the 
others, he turned with an air of haughty reserve 
to Miss Rivers again, and together they led the 
way across the lawn to the hotel, the others 
sauntering after them. 

' ' Dear me ! ' ' said Maud to Mr. Hawkins, as 
though she were recovering from a sudden 
shock. " How strangely the sight of that man 
affects me. I can almost feel my heart con- 
tracting whenever I look at him." 



208 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

These two had dropped behind, and were out 
of ear-shot of the others. 

^' Why. don't look at him," Mr. Hawkins 
said, laughing; "don't think of him. even. 
Let us think of something else."' 

The following day was a dreary one indeed. 
The whole landscape was transformed as if bj 
magic, and wrapped in a rainy fog. 

The mountains were completely blotted out, 
and wreaths of vaporous mist invaded verandas 
and even halls, and the atmosphere was such as 
only natives could breathe with equanimity. 
The gloom was indescribable, and everyone 
seemed to feel its depressing elfect. 

Ruth was standing beside the window looking 
cut en the wavering mist w^hich enveloped 
everything under its gray veil — wrapping trees, 
and cottages, and lawn in the same misty, 
cheerless drizzle. Under the outward i^all. the 
rolling rain clouds had massed themselves to- 
gether and presently descended in good earnest. 
From the eaves of the hotel and cottages, she 
could hear the water steadily dripping, and 
somewhere through the gray mist seemed to 
come an eddying, gurgling sound as of impetu- 
ous water leaping downward from rugged crags. 

Nellie ran to her and caught her by the arm. 
" Oh. Cousin Ruth, did you hear what mamma 
said? We are going home — going to-morrow! 
Aren't you glad? Mamma is writing the tele- 
gram now to send to Uncle Ralph, and I'm 
going for Julia now to come and pack the trunks. 
I don't believe you care at all — and. oh! me, I 
am so glad I Kiss me. Cousin Ruth, and let me 

go." 

Ruth took her in her arms and kissed her 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 209 

with more tlian her usual warmth, tor she was 
aware that Nelhe had been the direct cause of 
lifting the burden from her own sorely depressed 
heart. She roused herself and became eager all 
at once — quite as eager as Nellie to return home 
without delay. 

' ' I had been thinking, my dear, ' ' said Mrs. 
Grayson to Ruth as soon as Nellie had left the 
room, '' since I received Ralph's letter on yester- 
day, that it would be best for me to return im- 
mediately, although he rather insisted that we 
should remain here until next week. But, now 
that the rain has set in, and may continue in- 
definitely, for several days perhaps, I have 
changed my plans and decided to return home 
to-morrow. I am going to the office now to 
send this telegram to Ralph," she continued, 
rising and moving toward the door with the slip 
of paper in her hand, " and if Julia comes in my 
absence, will you mind superintending the pack- 
ing until I return '? I shall not be gone long. ' ' 

" Certainly not, Mrs. Grayson," she answered 
promptly. '' I shall be very glad to assist her, 
I have nothing else to do." Mrs. Grayson 
stood lost in thought a moment, came back and 
kissed her, then went out closing the door softly 
behind her. 

" flome! " Ruth said aloud when she was left 
alone. " Home!" she repeated, the sweet word 
rolling goldenly out, making music in her heart 
and effacing every other thought. She was 
glad that the wandeiings for a time were over, 
and the new life in which so much lay hidden, 
and with which she must henceforth courage- 
ously wrestle, was already begun. 



210 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 



CHAPTER XIX. 

A week had passed sioce Mrs. Grayson, Ruth 
and NelUe had returned from the mountains, 
and during that time Mrs. Grayson had been 
almost constantly engaged with the countless 
duties and demands on her time which seemed 
awaiting her. 

Ruth had received a long letter from Agnes. 
With eager fingers she broke the seal, never 
once dreaming that it would contain aught but 
the most pleasant news. But, after reading the 
first few lines, she found it was tilled with many 
tearful regrets, urging her friend to resign her- 
self to disappointment and no longer cherish 
any expectation of seeing her soon. " On 
account of important business matters," she 
wrote, her father had been suddenly summoned 
home, and doubtless before this letter reached 
her they would be on their long journey to the 
far West. Ruth read this letter hurriedly, 
almost breathlessly, to the end, with only a 
vague, half-heedful sense of its meaning — then 
she began at the first and read more leisurely 
with a sort of passive calm as the undoubted 
facts dawned clearly upon her; yet so sharp was 
the pang of disappointment which held her, that, 
in spite of all the efforts to repress her feelings 
she broke down in a burst of burning tears. 

The sun was near its setting, and all the earth 
was bathed in the brilliant and imperial glories 
that attend the gorgeous closing of a summer 
day. Blending rays of delicate pink and lumin- 
ous waves of gold stretched across the sky, steep- 
ing in light the fine network of pearl-white 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 211 

clouds that rose upon the horizon, all glowing 
in silvery radiance and making soft harmonies 
in earth and sky. The balmy south wind stirred 
amongst the creamy roses twining up the trelUs, 
and shook their rich fragrance out upon the air ; 
and while the mellow amber hght grew deeper 
and clearer, the bees had ceased their monoto- 
nous hum and gone to sleep in the heart of the 
dewy flowers. As the day stole onward to its 
close, softly from the far distance swung the 
resonant chime of an evening bell. One by one 
the silvery strokes rang out on the evening air, 
but so absorbed was Ruth in retrospection that 
she seemed to heed it not — neither was she aware 
that Mrs. Grayson had approached her until she 
laid her hand upon her bowed head and her 
ge-ntle voice roused her from her reverie. 

"' Ruth, child, I have just finished reading 
Agnes' letter, and have given it to Ralph to 
read. I know that you are disappointed that 
Agnes is not coming to visit you now; it is nat- 
ural that you should be; but when she does 
come — which, let us hope, will be before a great 
while — the enjoyment of her visit will be none 
the less keen because you are deprived of it at 
this time. I have often found more real joy in 
the anticipation of some promised pleasure than 
in the realization of the pleasure itself. But, 
after all. my dear, this is one of the little trials 
which one can learn to bear patiently. Strength, 
we know, is shown in our ability not to meet 
the great trials of life, but in the petty annoy- 
ances that make up each day's experience. 
Don't you believe this, my dear? " She drew a 
chair near Ruth and sat down. 

" Yes, I believe it. Mrs. Grayson; I know you 



21'2 UNDER UOLDEN SKIES; OK, 

are right, as you always are, but when I read 
Agnes' letter and found that she was not com- 
ing, but going home — back to my old home 
without seeing her again, somehow the recollec- 
tion of the past, papa's death, and all the old 
associations which I left l)ehind, came up before 
me, and then such a sick pain, such a sense of 
utter desolation seemed to crush me dow^n that 
I could not help sliedding tears." Euth smiled 
faintly, though tears glistened in her eyes, and 
they had that quivering droop which made them 
at times so pathetic. 

' ' I know, dear, I know, ' ' said Mrs. Grayson 
quickly, but tenderly: "I'm not blaming you. 
On the contrary. I sympathize with you most 
deeply."" She took Ruth's hand which rested 
on the arm of the chair, and began stroking- it 
in her gentle way. " I know from experience 
that human sympathy is very sweet, and helps 
to soften our griefs, and encoui'ages us. too, to 
bear them with calmer resignation. God does 
indeed try us severely sometimes, but never 
beyond what we are able to bear; and we must 
try to listen patiently to the lesson He would 
teach us in sending one trial, even though a small 
one, or He may visit us twice with perhaps a 
greater one. 

"• Mrs. Grayson, I wish I had your sweet, 
humble faith and patient resignation. I have 
too much cause for thankfulness to ever mur- 
mur or repine, and I"m ashamed that I semeed 
to do so now; but believe me, I did not mean to 
be ungrateful, for my heart is full of gratitude 
to God for giving me such a lovely Christian 
home, and such a dear sweet friend as you. " ' 

As she spoke the last word. Dr. Leslie crossed 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 213 

the veranda and joined them. Rath could not 
long resist the subtle charm of his strong, bright, 
sunny presence. There was something in the 
firm moral rectitude of his nature, that which 
her nature demanded, and without taking coun- 
sel of her own heart, or perhaps it was uncon- 
sciously, she yielded assent and allegiance to this 
warm and potent personality whose influence 
over her grew stronger day by day. 

She rose and offered him her chair. 

''No, thank you, Ruth; keep your seat. I 
do not care to sit down. It is such a splendid 
afternoon I was about to propose a short drive 
for you. or is it too late y "' he asked, turning to 
Mrs. Grayson. " Nellie is through with her 
riding lesson, and Virgil can have the pony 
phaeton round in a few^ minutes."' Seeing that 
Ruth hesitated, he" said, '' Well, if it is too late 
to go this afternoon, and I"m at leisure, don't 
you think you would like to go in the morn- 
ing?"" He looked at Ruth again. 

"■ I thank you very much. Dr. Leslie. I 
should have been glad to have gone this after- 
noon; but as it is, Fm afraid I cannot. I am 
not feeling very well, and had just thought of 
asking Mrs. Grayson's permission to retire. And 
to-morrow morning Mrs. Grayson has promised 
to take me to the Academy to make arrange- 
ments about entering me as a pupil, and as the 
opening exercises begin then, I should like to go 
■very early, though I shall not enter as a board- 
ing pupil until next Monday." 

" Well, in that case, I suppose I must be con- 
tent to wait indefinitely.'" he returued with a 
pleasant laugh. 

" A very admirable thing about this school," 



214 UNDER C40LDEN SKIES; OR, 

Dr. Leslie supplemented, '' and one which elicits 
true applause from all practical, common-sense 
people, is that the physical development of the 
pupils is not neglected. Principal Cordell recog- 
nized the fact that good health outweighs all other 
considerations— that upon it everything depends 
— and so the pupils are taught practically the 
value of outdoor exercise. The physical train- 
ing is as much a part of their education as the 
mental, and one is not sacrificed at the expense 
of the other. " ' 

'' The pupils certainly have most delightful 
grounds in which to exercise, too." said Mrs. 
GraysoQ. " A stranger passing the Academy 
does not dream that it conceals one of the most 
charming enclosures to be found anywhere in 
the State. If we will make an early start in the 
morning, perhaps ws shall have an opportunity 
to go through it. It is very picturesque and 
romantic, and is kept in the most perfect order 
the year round. ' ' 

' ' How far is it from the Academy ? ' " Ruth 
asked, turning to Mrs. Grayson. 

" Oh, just in the rear of the Academy build- 
ings, and covers quite a large area — some thirty 
five acres." 

'' Yes, I can tell you the playgrounds are just 
lovely. Cousin Ruth," said Nellie, who had come 
up unobserved; "but you can't go in there 
without a teacher. There are fountains and 
flowers and great tall trees, and shady walks 
and tennis courts and a real live deer. Now, 
Mamma, you must let me go with you and 
Cousin Ruth to-morrow. I do so want to play 
with that deer."' NeUie clapped her hands as 
the prospective enjoyment floated before her. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 215 

" Is Cousin Ruth going to scliool at the Acad- 
emy ? ' ' she asked, with an expression of sur- 
prised interest, tinged with doubt. 

'* Yes, and we'll miss her very much, won't 
we?'' 

'' I should think we would; but she's not go- 
ing to board in the Academy, is she? No, sir: 
we just can't give Cousin Kuth up. I won't let 
her go — will you, Uncle Ralph ? " 

Ruth gave her guardian a shy, upward glance 
as Nellie asked the question. 

"Yes," he said, ''she is to board in the school. 
Principal Cordell thinks this plan is best, even 
for pupils residing in town, and then your 
Cousin Ruth prefers it. ' ' 

The next morning when Ruth woke a fugitive 
sunbeam was peeping in through the half shut- 
tered window. She rose quickly, threw the 
shutter wide open to let in the perfumed air, 
and to fill the room with the warm, bright sun- 
light. 

There was not even one white cloud in the 
blue sky, and as she stood for a moment admir- 
ing the lovely view from her window, her eyes 
wandered off to the blue peak of the old Pilot, 
which always seemed to fill her soul with a calm 
and solemn awe. There it stood, ever unchange- 
able; whether touched by the fleecy wings of 
the morning clouds, or piercing the skies at 
noon, or reposing in the mellow tints of even- 
ing; whether bathed in the pale light of the 
moon, or enveloped in the surges of the tempest, 
with the lightning flashing around its brow, it 
stood ever the same. 

Immediately breakfast was over, Virgil had 
the phaeton at the door, and Mrs. Grayson, Ruth 



2 Hi UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

and Nellie were soon on their way to the Acad- 
emy. They had scarcely stopped in front of the 
Principal's residence than Nellie jumped down 
and leaving Mrs. Grayson and Ruth to follow, 
ran quickly up the narrow stone steps and 
sounded the knocker. Just then there was one 
emphatic stroke from the old town clock, and at 
the same instant Principal Cordell opened the 
door preparatory to going out. 

"• The hour for the preliminary exercises at 
the opening of our school," he explained to Mrs. 
Grayson after greeting her and Ruth, * ' and if 
you and Miss Arnold care to go over to the 
chapel, we shall be pleased to have you with us 
on this occasion." 

His manner was very courteous, and even cor- 
dial, but without the least trace of effusion. 

"Thank you; not this morning," said Mrs. 
Grayson, smiling and extending her hand to bid 
him good-bye. "I know your rules about being- 
prompt, so I'll not detain you. Ruth and Nellie 
wish to see the park and playgrounds in the 
rear of the Academy, and if they are open to 
visitors this morning, we wish your permission 
to go through them." 

" Certainly, and if you wiU come with me to 
the Academy, I will have Miss Brodie, one of 
our teachers, to conduct you over the grounds, 
and afterwards through the buildings, if you 
wish." 

When Miss Brodie came, and Principal Cordell 
had excused himself, Mrs. Grayson turned to 
Miss Brodie and said ; 

" It is a great kindness in you to go with us, 
and one, I assure you, we appreciate very niuch; 
but I hope we have not imposed a troublesome 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 217 

duty upon you in making this request of Princi- 
pal Cordell. ' ' 

"Oh, not at all. We are always glad to show 
visitors and strangers that which we appreciate 
so much ourselves, and custom has made it com- 
mon with us to do so, ' ' she said, with graceful 
courtesy. " Come this way, if you please." 

They passed through a narrow hallway, which 
opened out upon a long veranda, and this upon a 
quadrangle or square court, exquisitely kept, 
and in the center of which played a beautiful 
fountain, surrounded by feathery ferns and moss- 
encrusted rocks, most picturesquely grouped. 
Near by a magnificent weeping willow swayed 
its long, graceful branches, while underneath its 
delicate shade, with broad sun-shafts falling 
through, rustic seats and swings were conven- 
iently arranged for the pleasure of the pupils. 
The morning glory of an early autumn day was 
over the scene, which was a most enchanting 
and peaceful one. 

Then they crossed the quadrangle and passed 
down a graveled path, bordered with iron chairs 
set in line, and thence on through an open gate- 
way in a high^ ivy-covered wall, which divided 
the beautiful court square from the playgrounds 
])ro])er. 

Here and there the inellow brick work shone 
through the dark glossy leaves of ivy and peri- 
winkle which trailed over it and hung in grace- 
ful festoons from its sides. 

Passing down the flight of moss-grown steps, 
they followed one of the clean pebbled walks 
winding around the turfed terrace, and this soon 
brought them to a trellised summer-house 



15 



^18 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

perched high upon a hill-side and with a long 
flight of wooden steps leading up to it. 
. With an exclamation of delight. Nellie ran 
quickly up to the top steps, then stood breath- 
ing quick and trying to get her breath again. 
But finding that she was alone, she suddenly 
changed her mind and came bounding down the 
stairs, making frantic gestures to her mother 
and Ruth not to leave her. She soon joined 
them, however, where they stood watching the 
gleaming spray of a pretty fountain that shot 
high up in the golden sunlight, then fell like 
powdered silver dust over the ferns and grasses 
beneath. 

Through the dew-dripping trees and shrub- 
beries they could see another fountain sending 
up its silvery jet in which the brilliant sunbeams 
twirled and trembled. 

Turning to the right, they strolled past a high, 
velvety green bluff, known as Lovers' Leap, and 
upon which rose in somber majesty a trio of 
grand old poplars, above those of ordinary 
growth, like giants among pigmies, and the sun- 
lit sward beneath their lower branches was made 
still more beautiful by the intangible softness of 
draperies of vines festooned and swaying from 
limb to limb; and, here and there, hundreds of 
milk-white gauzy hammocks which the cunning- 
spiders had contrived to suspend in the humid 
air. Then on they passed up a gentle slope and 
through a grove of splendid trees, fresh and cool, 
and almost as shadowy as twilight even at mid- 
day —past the tennis courts and croquet grounds, 
•and, reaching a little knoll in a clear space, they 
stopped, turned and looked back across the lovely 
landscape over which lingered a soft, magical 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 210 

haze, changing the whole into a scene of mys- 
tery and enchantment. 

The great serenity of the place, the softly 
changing green which covered its entire extent, 
the undulating, exquisite line of little hills, the 
lovely vistas, the tall grasses and ferns making- 
obeisance to the glinting waters of the rippling 
brook as a languid wind swept over them, was 
something unspeakably beautiful and won- 
drously enchanting. If no more loveliness than 
this charming view could give were added to 
one's inner life, surely a pilgrimage to the old 
Moravian town would be fully requited. This 
union of taste and elegance was like a dream — a 
vision of fairyland. 

Just visible through the thick foliage of trees 
on the left, with a halt obliterated pathway lead- 
ing up to it, stood a large wooden pavilion in 
detached solitude, and grown dilapidated perhaps 
from long disuse, for upon the warped shingle 
roof and once stately pillars supporting it, mosses 
had crepi and lichens gathered. Some weather- 
stained benches which ran along three sides of 
the platform, and which were still upright and 
firm, were powdered with gray dust and strewn 
with pieces of dead twigs blown thither from 
the overshadowing branches of the encircling- 
trees. 

A long wooden table, standing in the center 
of the floor, was elaborately covered with curi- 
ous carving and mysterious hieroglyphics, traced 
years ago by the delicate hand of some fair 
young girl, who, perhaps, had long since passed 
away into the eternal silence. 

As Ruth bent and studied in vain to decipher 
the cabalistic liues^ which had doubtless passed 



220 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

through so many changing crucibles of thought, 
she sighed half unconsciously and turned away. 
Somehow a curious charm brooded over this 
quiet spot where Nature had overcome the prun- 
ing knife of the keeper, but it seemed sad and 
dreary. Beyond was the wide-rolling stretch of 
the park-like woods with its stately trees, ana 
here, too, Nature seemed to have her own wav 
still. 

Again they sauntered on, passing many ro- 
mantic spots about which clustered countless old 
sweet memories — Mrs. Grayson and Miss Brodie 
talking all the while, and Mrs. Grayson, appar- 
ently inspired by the reality of the present scene, 
recalled with delight various pleasing incidents 
of her old school-days when she had spent so 
many happy hours beneath the shade of these 
great oaks, affording glimpses of numerous vistas 
through their green foliage, and which, to her, 
had all the glamour of the past still surrounding 
them. 

After descending the gentle slope, they re- 
turned by a different way, and bearing to the 
right, in front of them, across a low fence sunk 
in coarse grass and tangled undergrowth, and 
lying warm and sheltered on a southeasterly 
exposure, was Dr. Balbec's lily pond, where the 
first Victoria Regia, that rarest of aquatic 
plants, was known to prosper and bloom in the 
open air. 

Wafts of cool breezes, laden with the rich, 
sweet scent of flowers, drifted across to them. To 
Mrs. Grayson there was something in the subtle 
fragrance which seemed to touch with electric 
force some slumbering sense of memory, and lo I 
what a host of vague and tender recollections 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 1^21 

stole back upon her, invisible images which she 
had thought forever effaced from memory for 
a brief moment revived and stood out clear and 
vivid before her, and while she tried to grasp 
the picture — to hold it in view yet longer and 
enjoy it — it suddenly vanished out of sight. 

When they turned to leave the dear old play- 
ground, somewhere from amongst the shining- 
leafage of a tall tree came the pure liquid notes 
— each one clear and detached — of a Baltimore 
Oriole, that shy, pretty bird which loves best to 
pour out its sweetest song in seclusion, or in the 
deejD solitude of the wood. It was as sweet a 
sound as the plashing noise of cool raindrops on 
the shimmering surface of rippling waters. Kuth 
stopped and listened. 

"How beautiful," she said. "That is the 
sweetest singer yet. ' ' 

Miss Brodie led the way back to the main 
building of the Academy, explaining to Ruth 
everything as they passed on through the broad 
corridors with their exquisitely clean rubber- 
muffied floors, visited the bright, cheerful study- 
rooms, passed on through the large libraries 
with their well-filled shelves, then up through 
the white-curtained dormitories with their spot- 
less single beds, and here, as in all other por- 
tions of the large, airy building, everything was 
scrupulously clean and in the most perfect order. 

A few minutes later, when they returned to 
the hall below, it was nearly twelve o'clock. 

" Miss Arnold, I suppose you will be with us 
on Monday?" said Miss Brodie, on bidding her 
good-bye. 

"Yes, that is my intention now," she an- 
swered. 



222 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

Nellie babbled on all the way home, filling up 
the intervals where there would have been 
silence, and as soon as the carriage stopped she 
lost no time making her exit therefrom, to greet 
her Uncle Ralj^h, who was standing on the steps 
of the veranda ready to receive them. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. '223 



CHAPTER XX. 

In her deep sympathy for the poor, Mrs. Gray- 
son had often tried to formulate some effective 
way of helping them without the help rendered 
taking the form of chailty and patronage. Her 
mind teemed with half-formed plans and pur- 
poses, which, the longer she dwelt upon them, 
began to assume visible and tangible shape. 
The difficulties vanished the more her enthusi- 
asm increased. " If we only had a Woman's 
Exchange, or some such organization," she 
mused, ' ' the problem of relief for them might 
be partially solved, at least." 

She had a growing belief in the success of just 
such a benevolent enterprise in her own city. 
Indeed, she believed it was a necessity in the 
community, and would prove a great benefit to 
women obliged by adverse circumstances to 
make their accomplishments or practical knowl- 
edge remunerative. 

An Exchange such as she had in her mind 
would mean burdens lightened that are other- 
wise almost unbearable; it would mean healthy 
independence instead of support hard to receive 
and often unwillingly given; it would mean 
comfort in many homes where actual want or 
dreary dissatisfaction now existed. 

With the conviction momentarily growing 
stronger, that the time had come when such a 
delicate and beautiful charity was a positive ne- 
cessity in the city, she determined she would 
make the attempt at whatever pecuniary cost to 
herself to undertake the project, and with the 
aid of several well-known philanthropic ladies 



'224 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

whom she kuew to be interested in this work, 
they would begin in a modest way and with per- 
severance as a helper what might, they not ac- 
complish ? There were numbers of ladies all 
over the city who excelled in every variety of 
dainty handicraft, uesful as well as ornamental, 
and the articles received at the Exchange would 
include decorative work of all kinds in painting 
and embroidery, fine needlework, german and din- 
ner favors, and, in fact, they would be prepared to 
fill orders for anything that a woman can make. 
The value should be put upon all goods by the 
consignors themselves, ten per cent of the price 
received being retained by the Society, and the 
work all done by the women in their homes. 
The payment of a fee of five dollars would entitle 
a person to send the work of three ladies for one 
year. She determined, too, that the enterprise 
should be of such a high character that it would 
bear the scrutiny of the most enlightened criti- 
cism, even at this time when people have 
learned to distinguish so accurately between the 
charity which helps and that which only harms 
its recipients. 

Then she began to look about for a desirable 
locality, and a suitable room to begin operations 
in — a room where their handiwork might be ex- 
hibited and sold. She finally decided upon a 
salesroom down town in a good neighborhood, 
in which she thought they could make a begin- 
ning. It wasn't exactly the thing she wanted, 
but she concluded to take it, unless something- 
better was provided. The room she had in mind 
was a rather long, narrow one, not as light, per- 
haps, as it should be; neither was it remarkable 
for its height. Yet it was cheerful looking, and 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 225 

with all its limitations it possessed certain pos- 
sibilities whicli could be dev^eloped and utilized 
very nicely. She resolved to talk with her 
brother about it as soon as she reached home, 
or immediately after supper when they were less 
likely to be interrupted; and, as Dr. Leslie was 
in thorough sympathy with every movement 
that tended toward the betterment and pro- 
motion of woman's work, she was sure of his 
l)ractical aid and cooperation iu this enterprise. 

Dr. Leslie was in the sitting-room when Mrs. 
Gravson returned from a drive she had taken 
with this matter in view. 

"What kept you so, Helen?" he asked a little 
anxiously, knowing, however, that she had some 
good reason. 

" Mrs. Nelson and myself were talking, and 
I did not dream it was so late. Then I drove to 
South Side to see old Mrs. Donaldson, as I prom- 
ised, and to find out what she needed. She is 
able to get about again. But Mrs. Nelson/' she 
said, going back to her again, " I do feel so 
sorry for her. The poor woman is so troubled 
and depressed, and can't seem to brighten up 
any more. I want so much to do something to 
help her — to try to lighten her burdens,'' re- 
plied Mrs. Grayson, taking off her hat. 

" Did she say anything about Mr. Nelson, 
how he likes his place, and how he is getting 
on V " " 

"Oh, yes; and she asked me to chank you, 
too, for your kindness in getting him the place, 
and I'm sure she appreciates it very much. I'm 
afraid, however, from something she said, that 
she hasn't nmch confidence in his retaining the 
position long." 



22fi UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

Dr. Leslie looked up with a sudden access of 
interest, but as Mrs. Grayson did not seem dis- 
posed to explain, he said quietly: 

'* I believe Mr. Nelson is good and kindly at 
heart, but unfortunately he seems to lack will- 
power and firmness to stand up bravely and 
fight against the obstacles that loom up before 
him. I don't believe he can really help it, or 
that he even suspects the truth, that he has not 
the courage to face adversity and try to meet 
the most sacred obligations which his family 
ties impose upon him. I am sure he wants to 
do, he wants to succeed, but somehow it seems 
all his efforts are futile. I do hope he may be 
able to keep his present situation," Dr. Leslie 
concluded, earnestly. 

"•' Yes, so do I. But come, we'll go to supper 
now, and afterwards I have something to talk 
with you about of great imj^ortance'' — she looked 
at him, smiling — "something I've been think- 
ing about so seriously this afternoon that it has 
quite crowded everything else out of my mind, 
and I must get rid of it." 

Dr. Leslie went to the sitting-room as soon as 
he had finished his supper. 

Mrs. Grayson sat down on one of the low easy 
chairs near him, and resting her arm upon the 
table, regarded him half seriously, half hesita- 
tingly, as though she were studying his mood 
and trying to divine how her scheme would im- 
press him. 

" Now for business," she said; " and I'll try 
not to bore you. but will outliae my pet project 
as briefly as I can. ' ' Her words were low and 
deliberate, and her voice recalled him. He 
raised his head and nodded slightly. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 227 

" Well, let us hear the ' important matter.' " 
I am here to listen, to suggest and to help if I 
can," he said, smiling and placing himself in a 
responsive attitude, "If it is about some new 
benevolent scheme you have on hand — and I 
more than half suspect it is — you know before- 
hand my unconditional loyalty to what is good 
and helpful, and you may count upon my co- 
operation and support. I shall not fail you,"" 
he said encouragingly. 

" Thank you. I knew you would help. Yes, 
this is an enormously important matter to me, 
and to hundreds of others whom I would reach. " 
And with new courage she went on to explain 
her plans in detail. 

"Upon my word, Helen,'" he said, smiling, 
' ' you are a very proper person to plead in be- 
half of b'enevoient work. But there is one 
thing," he went on in his quiet, business-like 
way when the tide of Mrs. Grayson's enthusiasm 
had ebbed for a moment, "that you seem not 
to have thought of yet, and that is a suitable 
and properly equipped building for your busi- 



ness. " 



" Ah, yes I have," she said quickly; " and I 
was coming to that, and that is just where I 
want your help. You know that one can't, at 
a single bound, and especially in an enterprise of 
this kind, reach the goal at once. It is the 
steady climb upward, with hearty cooperation 
among men and women in philanthropic work 
that will insure success in this scheme. Once 
started, and as the work increases, we hope to 
add new interests and new departments, and fill 
several rooms with beautiful and salable articles 
both useful and decorative. I have taken a gen- 



228 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR. 

eral survey of the field, and then thoroughly 
coDsidered all the details of the work. It is 
feasible, it is practical, it is common-sense. Now 
tell me, why shouldn't it have a fair trial, at 
least?'" 

" By the way of suggestion I would say, 
what you want first is to interest several other 
leaders who will join you in this work — men 
and women who have means as well as social 
position and iufluence, and if you can infect 
them with your hope, energy and enthusiasm, 
why I beheve you will succeed in making this 
thing an actual fact ; and once started, I think 
— yes, I am pretty certain — it will become a 
gratifying success, an incalculably potent factor, 
and a moral and financial support, which shall 
enable manv an excellent woman to maintain 
her self-respect by supporting herself and per- 
haps others dependent upon her when adversity 
makes it necessary. 

Mrs. Grayson looked at him with beaming- 
eyes. " How kind of you Ralph — that is just 
like yourself to say so. I thought you would 
agree with me, and I am so glad you can see our 
needs and sympathize with us." 

Then she rose and went to the escritoire in 
the room, and returned with a pencil and sheet 
of note paper. 

" Yes, you may put me down for five hundred 
dollars for the first two years, and more if 
needed," Dr. Leslie said, smiling, and answer- 
ing this movement of his sister. " I shall show 
my faith by my works, or gifts. * ' 

"• Oh, I am not going to canvass for subscrip- 
tions or contributions this evening, * ' she laughed, 
sitting down very deliberately ; ' • but to give 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 229 

you some idea on paper what my plans are. 
However, I'll accept your contribution with 
many thanks, as a nucleus, and which I must 
say is a most generous one. ' * She looked up at 
him and said in an impressive tone. *' How very 
practical you are, Ralph ; and if I could find a 
few others equally so. I should have no fears for 
the success of my project. But I'll not discuss 
the subject further this evening, but wait until I 
see others and make them understand what we 
want — what we need. " ' 

She sat down again, after putting aAvay the 
paper and pencil, took up a Bible which lay upon 
the table and handed it to him. He took it rev- 
erently from her hands, and after turning a few 
pages, began to read a short Psalm. 

After these devotional exercises were over, 
Mrs. Grayson rose to leave the room, but j)aused, 
looking down at the pile of books near her 
brother. '' I suppose you are going to read 
awhile,'' she said. 

" Yes, these are some new medical works I 
ordered, and they came to-day. I wish to glance 
over one or two of them before retiring. ' ' He 
took out his watch and looked at the time. 
" Ten o'clock already; but I can give them an 
hour's time at least." 

"■ Do you think you'll restrict yourself to 
that V ' ' said Mrs. Grayson, smiling, and her 
smile had in it a touch of friendly reproach. 

"You physicians talk to us about need of rest, 
and caution us against physical exhaustion and 
overwork; but when it comes to practice for 
yourselves, you take refuge forthwith in plaus- 
ible excuses. I'm sure you must be tired after 
to-day's work, so I would prescribe rest for you, 



230 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

as you so often do for me, and quite as often 
when I do not need it," she said, smihng. " But 
I am going now, and leave you to the enjoy- 
ment of your task, and not take any more 
of your time. Good-night.'' She thought she 
heard him sigh deeply as she turned away and 
left him alone. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 231 



CHAPTER XXI. 

The crisp, delicious days of autumn, with 
their pervading Indian summer haze and glint- 
ing sunshine playing mistily over the sleeping- 
wood, and effacing the dividing line of earth and 
sky, had come, burdened with all their tender 
memories of the fading season that pleaded 
almost pathetically for sweet indulgence in list- 
less reverie or dreamy idleness. 

Carl and Agnes wrote promptly and regularly. 
The latter to Ruth, who always sent her letters 
to Mrs. Grayson to read. In her last long and 
expansive communication Agnes had vaguely 
hinted of a foreign tour and of a probability of 
meeting (Jarl the ensuing summer, but it was in 
her pleasant gossipy way, with nothing defi- 
nitely outlined, simply an underlying sugges- 
tion of a hope that she might some day realize. 

Mrs. Grayson had received a letter from Maud 
Exum, too — her acquaintance of the summer — 
and soon after handsome invitations to her mar- 
]iage with Mr. Hawkins had followed for her- 
self and Ruth. 

Ruth had been home but once since she en- 
tered the Academy. It was in November, the 
occasion being Nellie'<^ birthday party, at which 
event she had promised Nelhe some weeks previ- 
ous to be present. 

The winter and spring passed rapidly away, 
filled with the thousand subtle forces of an ever 
changing world, but bringing no notable changes 
or events in the lives of those concerned. 

It was in June, soon after the commencement 
at the Academy, that Ruth received a letter 



282 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

from Agnes, dated St. Denis Hotel, New York. 
The first few sentences told of their arrival in 
the city, and then ran on in the usual style of 
rhapsody that school-girls affect. " Don't 
think, my darling, I am trying to test your 
powers of endurance and long suffering, as well 
as your faith in my love and devotion for you, 
for I am sure there must be hmitations even to 
your generous nature, unless you are more than 
mortal. I have been promising you a visit so 
long, and looking forward with so much pleasure 
to our meeting, that it seems almost heartless 
and inconsistent — yes, even paradoxical — for me 
to write you from this proximity that, instead 
of hurrying to you, as I so long to do, I am 
fleeing further away from you, and for an in- 
definite time. It is settled at last that we — that 
is, papa, mamma and myself — are going abroad, 
and we sail to-morrow. I think you will rejoice 
with me that I am about to realize actually the 
dream which has haunted me so long. I can 
hardly believe yet that it is really true. We 
liope to have Carl with us during his vacation, 
and you know I am quite wild to see this hand- 
some cousin of mine, to whom I am said to bear 
so striking a resemblance. How I wish that you 
were going with us. What lovely times and 
experiences we should have together. I don't 
like to think of going and leaving you behind. 
You must let me hear from you soon through 
one of your nice, long letters, and remember that 
I shall not see anything in my travels that I will 
enjoy more. With a great deal of love for your- 
self, Cousin Helen and Cousin Ralph, your lov- 
ing friend, Agnes." 

Ruth read this over several times, and then 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 233 

with mingled emotions took it to Mrs. Grayson. 
As she read the last page of it, Ruth was watch- 
ing her. and she did not fail to interpret aright 
the look that came to her face. Presently a tear 
stole down her cheek and dropped upon the letter. 
Then she slowly folded it, handed it back to 
Ruth, and without saying a word rose, kissed 
her and quietly left the room. That silent kiss 
expressed much more than words to Ruth. 

She knew it was the allusion in Agnes' letter 
to Carl that had caused her tears to start, and 
she would have hked to say something gentle 
and comforting to Mrs. Grayson at that moment, 
but a feeling of diffidence held her back. 

Gradually the days grew more chilly and win- 
try, and when the first gray dawn broke on 
Christmas Eve, the ground showed a light pow- 
dering of snow that had fallen during the night. 
But as the morning advanced a rosy light crept 
along the east and gave promise of a sunlit day. 
By ten o'clock the prophetic promise was ful- 
filled. The sun was shining with a cold white 
glittering brightness, while a sharp wind drove 
the fleecy clouds in an aerial race across the pale 
blue sky. 

Ruth had come home to spend the Christmas 
holidays, and half an hour after breakfast that 
morning, when she went to the sitting-room, 
her guardian was standing on the rug in front 
of the grate with his hands folded behind him, 
his favorite attitude, which Ruth knew so well. 

" Come in, Ruth. Don't run away because I 
am in here, or I shall be tempted to vacate right 
away. I don't believe I've seen you but twice 
since you came home." 

" That's because I only came yesterday," she 
16 



234 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

said laughingly, as she entered the room, ' ' and 
then I've been assisting Mrs. Grayson with the 
Christmas decorations. We are quite through, 
I believe." 

How wonderfully beautiful she looked, Dr. 
Leslie thought. 

As he stood watching her, suddenly the whole 
fjassionate^ flood of his love which had been 
subdued so long, surged up from the very depths 
of his soul, loosened and swept way the old, pe- 
culiar bondship of guardian and ward, and m 
that supreme moment he forgot the fact — forgot 
everything save the intense consciousness of his 
overwhelming love for this incomparably beau- 
tiful woman before him, the strength of which 
love he had never before had the least conception. 

Life could hold no greater bliss for him than 
this. " Ruth, my darling, my darling! " he was 
silently whispering, to soothe his heart's wild 
pleadings, while his eyes were still fixed upon 
her lovely face. 

Instinctively, drawn by the magnetism of his 
gaze, she slowly raised her beautiful eyes to him. 
and he, looking at her with tenderly bright and 
penetrating eyes, saw an expression flash across 
her face — an expression of half conscious wonder 
and revelation, and suddenly a strange and glo- 
rious light broke over his own handsome face, as 
though it had taken its radiance from the bright- 
ness of hers, and his heart leaped with an ecstatic 
thrill. He saw, too, with a lightning glance, the 
futile struggle she was making to conceal her 
sweet, momentous secret, which until this mo- 
ment she had guarded so well, and which for 
months he had been longing so miserably to 
know. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 235 

Id an instant each seemed to comprehend; in 
the full sweet meaning of the next few minutes' 
silence, which seemed to last an eternity, the 
old life for each had suddenly changed — the old 
life for each had suddenly ended forever. And 
now that the inexorable change had come — now 
that each knew the feelings of the other so well 
— Dr. Leslie was too frank and honest in his na- 
ture, too proud and noble, to seek any subter- 
fuge or concealment ; and now, since he possessed 
the sweet secret of the one woman in all the 
world to him — involuntarily given up on her 
part, it is true — there was but one line of wis- 
dom and duty before him, but one right and 
honorable thing for him to do, and that was to 
ask her to be his wife, and by the love and beauty 
and rich graces of her pure life, make his own 
fuller, brighter and nobler for all time to come. 

But why did he linger now, even for a mo- 
ment, his mind flashing back over the past and 
rapidly recalling those scenes and impressions 
associated with the unaccountable demeanor of 
his ward — but which unaccountable things he 
now understood, and was done with forever ? 

While Dr. Leslie stood a few minutes silently 
watching her, he saw that the critical moment 
had come when he must make the supreme de- 
cision for weal or woe, involving the destinies of 
two human lives, and he wanted a higher wis- 
dom than his own to guide and direct him, how- 
ever dominant rose his love — however urgently 
it pleaded to be heard. 

The rosy flush had deepened in Ruth's cheek 
as her eyes met the tender appealing passion in 
her guardian's face — and somehow she had a 
sudden consciousness of having come out of a 



2P>H UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

severe coDfiict^of an unutterable sense of relief 
as of some burden lifted — some tension relaxed 
that had been too tautly drawn — and then of 
an acquiescent and unconditional surrender of 
her whole being to a stronger power which had 
compelled her by that mysterious, approximating 
influence, uniting two souls and making them one 
by their mutual love. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. '^'A7 



CHAPTER XXII. 

During the next interval of silence that fol- 
lowed, the cathedral clock on the mantel chimed 
out low, sweet and ti'iumphant. like a promise 
of joy, the passing hour. 

For a moment longei- Dr. Leslie's mesmeric 
eyes, irresistibly appealing, held her, evoking a 
torturing, passionate thrill almost akin to pain 
in her own soul, which had ceased its tired, 
strange wrestling, because it had no more force 
with which to wrestle: then with a low, uncon- 
scious sigh she turned to the window and looked 
out. 

A few minutes Dr. Leslie wavered. He was 
striving to control the tumult of passion, thrill- 
ing through every fiber of his inmost being, and 
which settled in a tender, yearning love on every 
feature. Without speaking he crossed the room 
and stood beside her. One soft, white hand which 
was holding the curtain aside he gently took with- 
in his own and held it. The little hand fluttered 
an instant, then yielded to his magnetic touch, 
the lovely lips trembled with an almost childish 
quiver, but she did not turn and look at him. 

" Ruth, my darling —may I not call you this '? 
— yes, you are my darling — will you not listen 
to me, listen to a story, so old and yet so new, 
and one that I have been waiting and longing so 
eagerly to tell you ? I shall not force the recital 
of my love upon you, though an inexorable some- 
thing tells me that I may break the voiceless 
trance which some fairy charm has woven about 
my heart, while star-eyed Hope bids it awake 
and breathe and live anew. Ruth, will you 



238 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

not bid me hope — oh, will you not bid me guard 
the fountain of my heart with ceaseless care to 
keep its waters pure and bright for you ? ' ' 

She turned as though moved by some extraor- 
dinary power which she could not resist, her face 
glowing with an exquisite smile, the reflex of her 
loving heart, the long dark lashes half conceal- 
ing the new divine shyness in her lovely eyes, 
her form trembling, and for a few seconds she 
was conscious of nothing save the soft, warm 
clasp in which her hand was held by the man to 
whom her whole heart and soul went out help- 
lessly, willingly, and yielded up all she had to 
give — utterly lost in the weakness of her pure, 
holy love. 

Dr. Leslie dropped her hand. His face softened 
and radiated with a glorious light, and drawing 
her to him, he enfolded her tenderly in his arms. 

' ' Ruth. ' ' he said, "when first I looked into your 
lovely face, hope rekindled in my breast and 
stirred a strange emotion down in my heart so 
full of its clouded memories. In that moment, 
too, the memory of the silent, mournful past 
came back to me, and I thought of another face 
still and white, yet once so perfect in color and 
form and feature, with its wondrous shining 
hair, dreamlessly sleeping in a lonely daisy-grown 
grave far away in a distant State. Ruth, that 
early love, that fair young being whom I loved 
with all the first passionate warmth of my ardent 
boyish nature, and who professed to return my 
love, was cruelly won from me by my best and 
dearest friend — a friend whom I loved and trusted 
above all other friends I ever had." 

He paused and looked sadly down in her beau- 
tiful face : when he spoke again, his voice seemed 
curiously changed. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 239 



(( 



Do you know, can you guess at all who that 
friend of my boyhood was who betrayed my con- 
fidence, wrecked my bright hopes, and caused 
me to mistrust all human nature, and almost 
lose my faith in things divine ? Must I tell you, 
darling ? ' ' 

She turned to him with a quick, startled look, 
the flush faded out of her cheek, and she whis- 
pered: " Yes; go on, go on, and tell me all." 

He drew her closer to him, and tightened his 
clasp, as though no eai'thly power should rend 
her from his side, then he bent and kissed her 
on the forehead, the first kiss he ever imprinted 
on her sweet, lovely face. 

' ' Darling, I have startled and pained you, and 
perhaps I should not be speaking to you like this, 
resurrecting the charred ruins of my buried past 
so fraught with painful memories I would for- 
get : but I think it is best that you, my pure, 
my noble Ruth, you whom I love as I never 
loved any other human being, and who has be- 
come all the world to me, should know at least 
that part of my past life, the knowledge of which, 
should it come to you in after years, and from 
other lips than mine, might cause you to censure 
me perhaps, for not revealing it to you now. 
And yet, it is unspeakably hard for me to tell 
you — to reveal — " he paused again. 

"To reveal the name of the friend who be- 
trayed you ? " Ruth asked, with an effort finish- 
ing the sentence for him, which it seemed so 
hard for him to do, and looking up in his face 
with breathless interest. 

" Yes, because that friend whom I loved and 
trusted as never one man loved and trusted an- 
other — that friend who came so near wrecking 



240 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

my whole life for all time to come, but whom I 
have long ago forgiven — was none other than 
Frank Arnold, your father, whom you revere 
and love so well ; and you, my beautiful, precious 
one, a mysterious providence has sent to me. 
after the lapse of all these years as the sweet 
atonement of that father's wrong." 

Ruth gazed at him. her eyes wide open with 
misery and pain, and with a face suddenly grown 
deadly white. Then a shiver ran through her 
frame, she uttered a low cry as of oue who had 
received a fatal blow, and burying her face in her 
hands moaned, ' ' Oh, no, no, it cannot be ! and 
all these months I did not know — all these months 
that I, Frank Arnold's child, have been under 
your roof and protecting care you have been so 
good, so gentle, so noble, so kind to me. You 
had it in your power to revenge my father's 
wrong — you — " Ruth stopped, then went on 
hurriedly: " But I know that my father loved 
and honored you. Dr. Leslie; for whenever he 
spoke of you it was to praise and bless you, and 
say over and over again that you were one of the 
noblest of men. I can understand now why all 
his life that I can remember him, he was so sad 
and sorrowful, so patiently enduring, and though 
he wronged you in his early years by his reck- 
less course, and weak and erring as he may have 
been, yet God forgave him, and I believe that he 
found peace and comfort if not happiness during 
the remaining years of his life on earth. Oh, 
if I could have known his sad history sooner — 
known it before he left me for his better home — 
how I should have strived to have made life 
brighter and happier for him here. Why could 
I not have known till he was dead ? Poor father, 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 241 

how hard must have been his burden to bear, 
because it was one that none could share. And 
you, my best friend, how can I ever thank you 
for all that you have ever done for me ? You 
have been to me father, brother, friend — ■' she 
stopped abruptl3\ pressing her burning cheeks 
against her palms. 

Dr. Leslie raised her head, took down her 
hands, and clasping one in his, turned the flushed 
face confronting his own. 

" Let the sad past forgotten be, my dear Ruth. 
We have no power to recall it if we would. It 
is irrevocable. Let me be more than all else, in 
all the world, to you — more than father, brother 
and friend included." 

In that moment she knew that he was indeed 
everything in all the world to her, and her love 
for him had been the secret touchstone which 
filled her life with hope and delight. He was her 
king, and with all the loyalty of a devotee before 
his shrine, her heart bowed helplessly and ac- 
knowledged his power — his right to rule. 

He raised her face, while a sudden shadow fell 
over his own. 

" What is it, Ruth ? Is there a conflict between 
love and duty ? Have I been too unfair, too un- 
generous, too exacting ? ' ' 

" How could I think this of you ? " she said 
sweetly, as her eyes fell. 

"Oh, Ruth, don't evade me," he entreated. 
" Will my love atone for all ? Will it make you 
supremely happy ? Will it make you content ? 
Ruth — darling — will you be my wife ? ' " 

He spoke with force and pathos out of the 
depths of a loving heart, and aU the passion 
within him seemed to reach its climax in those 



242 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

tender, pleading words. He bent his head low- 
to hers, both voice and face eagerly questioning. 
Ruth's eyes darkened rapturously. Every 
feature softened. She looked at him in silence, 
but Dr. Leslie had his answer. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 243 



CHAPTER XXIII. 

The next morning, while Ruth was standing 
before the mirror arranging her hair, pleasantly 
reviewing the events of the previous day, she 
heard a light, quick step come bounding down 
the corridor, pause at the door, knock hastily, 
and before she could answer it, Nellie, bright 
and fresh as a sunbeam, burst into the room, 
carrying a basket of exquisite cut flowers. 

" I'll bet you can't guess who sent you these. 
Cousin Ruth," she said, smiling and holding up 
the basket before her. ' ' Look, did you ever see 
anything so pretty ? " 

"Oh, how lovely! The most beautiful flow- 
ers I ever saw. Those roses are superb. Where 
did they come from — and are they really for me, 
Nellie ? " she asked, eagerly offering to take the 
basket. " Who sent them '? " 

Nellie suddenly skipped backwards, holding 
the basket beyond her reach. 

" No, siree; you've got to guess," she laughed 
gayly. ' ' You may have three guesses, and 
then if you miss, I'll — I'll — well I don't believe 
I'll give them to you at all," 

" Oh, Nellie, you are such a tease. Was it 
Mrs. Grayson?" she said, after a moment's 
pause. 

" No, it wasn't Mrs. Grayson," returned Nel- 
lie, mimetically, shaking her curly head. "Guess 
again. ' ' 

"Miss Leary?" 

" No, it wasn't Miss Kate, neither. Now you 
haven't got but one more guess, and if yoa miss 
this time you lose the flowers. Try again," 



24^4 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

Nellie stepped back a tew paces nearer the 
door. 

"That's hardly fair. Nellie," returned Ruth, 
laughing, " and I can't believe you'll be so un- 
gracious. Tell me. was it any one from the 
Academy "? Now remembei' that doesn't count 
for a guess." 

" Oh, yes it does, yes it does, and you've lost 
the flowers," cried Nellie triumphantly, and she 
laughed outright. " It wasn't any one from the 
Academy, or anywhere else. It was Uncle 
Ralph who sent them; that's who it was. See, 
here's his card with his name on it, and a 
' Merry Christmas ' to you. I can't read, but he 
told me what was on it when he gave me the 
basket to bring you." 

Ruth started. A quick flush of rosy color 
spread over her face and neck and deepened into 
scarlet. 

" Why, Cousin Ruth, what makes you blush 
so ? You are perfectly beautiful. I just wish 
Uncle Ralph could see you now; he'd think you 
are prettier than these flowers. Yes, you may 
have 'em," she went on, " but you've got to let 
me put my arms around your neck and squeeze 
you real tight, because I love you so. Cousin 
Ruth," she said, handing her the basket, 

"Now let me kiss you just one time for Uncle 
Ralph," she added; " for I know he thinks the 
world of you, Cousin Ruth. He can't help it. I 
heard him talking to mamma about you this 
morning. I don't know what he said, but I heard 
mamma sa}", 'oh, I am so glad!' Come, let's go 
down now. Breakfast is almost ready, and you 
are ready, too. You've finished fixing your hair 
and it looks ever so nice." 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 245 

" Oh, you must let me change my dress first. 
I can't go down with my dressing gown on, 
you know." 

"No, no; don't take off that dress, Cousin 
Euth, you look so pretty in it. You know you 
are just beautiful all the time, but you do look 
perfectly lovely this morning. I heard Aunt 
Milly tell Cousin Joe's cook the other day that 
she didn't believe the angels in heaven were a 
bit prettier than you are, and she knew they 
wern't any sweeter, and she meant it, too." 

Nellie stood beside the bureau, resting her elbow 
on the slab, supporting her dimpled chin in her 
little pink palms, while she gazed up at Ruth 
with a world of admiration i]i her pretty face. 

"flush, Nellie," laughed Euth, with such a 
low, happy laugh. " I believe you and Aunt 
Milly are my most enthusiastic admirers. But 
it is very kind of Aunt Milly to even think such 
pleasant things about me, and I'm very much 
obliged to her, I'm sure. Now tell me, Nellie, 
what did Santa Claus bring you last night?" 
she said, changing the subject from herself. 

Euth had quite finished dressing, and stood 
before the mirror fastening in the bosom of her 
dress a cluster of sweet violets which she had 
taken from the basket that Nellie brought her. 

She had changed the white cashmere dressing 
gown which Nellie thought had made her look 
so beautiful, for an electric blue velvet, severely 
plain, yet very becoming, and which simply 
heightened a beauty that no art could adorn. 
She wore no ornament except a small diamond 
brooch which Mrs. Grayson had given her on her 
last birthday, and the tiny cluster of white vio- 
lets she had taken from the basket. 



246 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

Why did she hnger over her toilet this morn- 
ing with such critical eyes ? Why so fastidious 
about every httle detail of her dress ? 

For one brief moment she stood and scanned 
herself from head to foot, then smiled, a smile 
entirely apart from vanity, but of perfect hap- 
piness, which was echoing and reechoing to the 
sweetest music in her joyous heart. 

As Ruth reached the dining-room, Virgil was 
just leaving the room to execute some order for 
Mrs. Grayson, but as soon as he saw Ruth he 
stepped back, opened the door for her, saw her 
in, bowed and passed on. These little courtesies 
which Virgil was always so ready to show her 
were done with an air of perfect good breeding, 
and which Ruth accepted not as a matter of 
course, but always with a smile and a sweet 
" thank you.'" 

Beside the window, looking out on the rose 
garden, but which at this season of the year was 
innocent of bloom, stood Dr. Leslie and Mrs. 
Grayson deep in conversation, the warm sun- 
shine streaming in aslant the cheerful room, 
making a glow of picturesque radiance, and 
flooding the spot where they stood. She saw 
the glow upon her guardian's face, a glow not 
made by sunlight. The next moment he came 
forward to meet her, the light of his great love 
in his eyes, and a smile on his lips. 

" My dear Ruth! Good-morning and a Happy 
Christmas!" 

"• Thank you," was all she could say, blushing 
violently despite herself, and she was almost 
grateful that Mrs. Grayson gave her no time to 
reply, for just then she approached and kissed 
her, and Ruth felt instinctively, even in that 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 2J:T 

moment — and she was glad, too — that Dr. Leshe 
had ah'eady shared his confidence with his sister. 

" If you are not going anywhere particularly, 
dear," said Mrs. Grayson, as they sat at break- 
fast, " I shall be glad to have you accompany me 
to Calvary Chapel. There is to be a very beau- 
tiful and impressive service held there by the 
Sunday School of that church this afternoon, 
and as it is to be a love-feast, and you've never 
attended one, I think you will enjoy it. I have 
invitations for both of us, and Nellie, too." 

" Certainly I will go. I remember I was very 
anxious to attend the Christmas service there 
last winter, but for some cause was disappointed. 
Do they have the little wax tapers on this occa- 
sion ?" Ruth asked. " I should like to see that, 
too, and I imagine that the whole service must 
be exceedingly interesting and beautiful." 

" So it is. Yes, after the love-feast of sweet 
buns and coffee, which you know are handed on 
trays by six ladies and six gentlemen — then 
comes the service of the light bearers." 

' ' But how is the love-feast served ? I mean, 
does the congregation sit or stand, at this par- 
ticular service ? ' ' 

" Oh, they are seated, my dear. I thought 
you knew. The coffee is served in China mugs 
with milk and sugar already prepared — the same 
as their other love-feasts — and the buns served 
upon the lap. While partaking of this, the choir 
renders some fine anthems, alternating with 
hymns by the congregation. Toward the close 
of the service, little wax candles about four 
inches in length are distributed to all present, 
then lighted and permitted to burn until the 
close of the service. As the congregation passes 



248 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR. 

from the church with these twinkUng hghts, it 
looks like a sort of mystic procession, and the 
scene is very pretty and attractive indeed." 

' ' But what is it intended to symbolize ? * ' 
Euth asked, with the eagerness of a child. " I 
know you'll think I am uupardonably ignorant 
about this beautiful custom of the Moravians, 
after being here as long as I have, but it is not 
too late to learn, I hope." 

' ' No. I dare say there are very many persons 
who have been here much longer than you have, 
who know no more, and even less, than you do 
about it. It is symbolical of the light which 
Christ brought into the world, and like all the 
religious services and customs of our Moravian 
brethren, who by precept and example preach the 
true • unity of the brethren of Christ. ^ makes life 
great to the thought and experiences of others. 
Certainly there is no greater achievement and 
service," said Mrs. Grayson, gently. 

" Ruth, won't you oblige me with a few min- 
utes conversation in the library ? " said Dr. Les- 
lie as they left the table. ' ' I shall not detain 
you long. ' ' 

She paused, gave him a quick, questioning 
glance and asked: 

" Do you wish to see me this morning ? " 

"" Yes. now, if you can spare the time, and it 
will not interfere w^ith any other arrangement. ' ' 

" No, not in the least," she answered. 

'' Then wait for me in the library, please, and 
I'll join you in a few minutes." 

He turned away at once and went toward his 
study, and Ruth went to the library, where she 
waited, listening, not to the sound of revelry 
and gay laughter which filled the merry world 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 249 

outside, but for the sound of a footstep which 
she not only knew so well, but had learned so 
eagerly to listen for. The next moment she 
caught the sound of his step in the hall, then 
through the open doorway, and Dr. Leslie, smil- 
ing and looking handsomer, she thought, than 
she had ever seen him, came toward her. 

'' Come with me to the window, Ruth. I have 
something to show you.'" She rose and went 
over to the window, pushing aside the heavy 
curtain to broaden the light. He handed her a 
handsome mother-of-pearl jewelry case, and 
while she held it, he touched the spring and the 
Ud flew back, disclosing another open, velvet- 
lined case containing an exquisitely chased gold 
ring, set with a magnificent emerald encircled 
with small pearls. 

' ' Oh, how perfectly beautiful ! ' ' said Ruth, 
her radiant face expressive of her pleasure and 
admiration. '' An emerald, isn't it ? " 

'' Yes, a North Carolina emerald, or a green 
diamond. ' ' 

"What, the Hiddenite, which is found in Alex- 
ander County and called for Mr. W. E. Hidden, 
of New Jersey, who identified the mineral ? '' 

" Yes, the same. But the specimens of the 
native crystals were, however, in the possession 
of a Mr. Stevenson, of Statesville, for several 
years prior to this time (1881). To the energy 
of Mr. Hidden, however, is due its introduction 
as a gem of commercial value. 

" Is it found in no other State ? " asked Ruth, 
and she held the ring up to the light again so 
that the sun's rays would flash through it. turn- 
ing it from side to side. 

" No, only in North Carolina. It has been 

17 



250 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

said that every gem known to the lapidary has 
been found in the United States, but by far the 
largest variety are found in North Carolina. 
We have one of the richest gold producing States, 
too. in the Union. It is recorded that Sultan 
Mahniond selfishly exhausted the famous mines 
of Golconda to enrich his own treasury; but it 
will be many years before the wealth of the 
mines of North Carolina, the Golconda of the 
South, will be appreciably lessened, and then 
not a single individual, but the whole country 
will profit by their despoilment."" 

Ruth replaced the ring in its tiny velvet box, 
shut the case and handed it back to her guardian. 
■' It IS indeed very beautiful — in fact, the most 
beautiful ring of the kind I have ever seen, and 
I thank vou for allowing me the privilege to see 
it.'^ 

" I am glad you like it,'' he said, and opening 
the box he took the ring out again. 

"•Ruth, I had this ring made at Tiffany's in 
New York purposely for you, and intendtd to 
ask you to accept it on your last birthday. This 
emerald was first surrounded by small opals, 
also native gems and very elegant. But a few 
days before I received the ring from New York 
I heard you say to Miss Leary, whether in 
earnest or jest I do not know, though I think it 
was in a jesting way, that nothing could induce 
you to wear a brooch or ring set with an un- 
lucky opal or opals. Knowing that many per- 
sons are superstitious about that gem — though I 
have rather a weakness for them myself — I re- 
turned the ring to Tiffany's, had the opals 
removed, and the ring reset with these pearls, 
and when I received it a second time, the first 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 251 

day of December had passed, so I decided to 
keep it and ask your acceptance of it as a Christ- 
mas gift from your guardian. ' ' 

He could not avoid smihng, and he bent his 
head and looked into the flushed dimpling face. 
'' What are you looking so puzzled about ? " he 
asked, noting, as he was so quick to do, any 
change that came over her lovely features. " I 
haven't forgotten our compact, Euth, " he went 
on more seriously. " Remember, I bind you by 
no contract or promise. You are as free as the 
air you breathe, my dear. This little circlet is no 
liadge of bondage, but simply a token of my 
esteem and love for you, and such a token as I 
would have asked your acceptance of before the 
old relationship between us had ceased to exist," 

She held out both hands to him with a frank, 
sweet smile. ' ' You are very good, Dr. Leslie ; 
pray forgive me and do not think I am unappre- 
ciative. I do thank you for your beautiful gift, 
which I will accept and wear. But, believe me, 
I did not hesitate because I thought you in- 
tended this as an engagement ring — but — but — I 
was thinking — " whatever she intended to say 
was never said. 

Dr. Leslie clasped the soft white hands, and 
with a sudden impulse bent his head and kissed 
them. Then he slipped the glittering circlet 
upon her slender finger, still retaining her hand 
in his. " I only hope it may prove a link in our 
future destiny," he said earnestly; " a link that 
will be as endless and beautiful as the ring itself. 
Did you read the inscription on the inside, 
Ruth ? " he asked, somewhat doubtfully. 

" No, I didn't know there was one," she said, 
and then she let him take off the ring and show 



252 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

it to her. " Semper Fidelis,'" she read, with a 
trembhng note in her sweet voice and a deepen- 
ing of the clear rose-pink of her cheek. 

" Did you count the pearls ? " 

" No, why ? " Ruth looked up at him again, 
wondering and puzzled. 

He took his pencil, and while he held her hand 
with the ring on it, counted slowly each little 
pearl. " Nineteen,"" he said aloud, then looked 
up. 

" Oh, laughed Ruth comprehendingly, the 
puzzled expression giving place to a bewitching- 
smile. " Indeed, I scarcely realize that I am so 
old." 

" There is no need to try, " he said lightly, 
and he looked at her with a laugh. 

There was a light rap outside of the door, and 
Virgil, noisily rattling the portiere over the 
arched doorway, put in his head. Dr. Leslie 
looked up expectantly. 

" T beg pardon, sir; but your horse is ready. 
You told me to let you know.'' 

"x4.ll right, Virgil, I'll be out in a few miuutes. ' ' 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 253 



CHAPTER XXIV. 

It was toward the close of January that the 
winter had set in with a severity almost un- 
known in this beautiful Southern city. The 
suffering was unprecedented. The relief socie- 
ties were quite at their wits' end. Numbers of 
ladies were kept busy all over the city, dispen- 
sing the aid extended by the good and benevolent. 

It was late one rainy, dreary afternoon that 
Mrs. Grayson returned home from one of these 
benevolent expeditions, complaining of a sensi- 
ble chilliness and a severe headache. Dr. Leslie, 
watching her closely, was struck by her ex- 
treme pallor. When supper was over, and they 
had left the table, he said to her: 

" Helen, I see that you are not well this even- 
ing, and in justice to yourself, you must give 
up your benevolent work for a day or two and 
keep perfectly quiet. You've over tired your- 
self. '^ 

" I hope I am not going to be ill, Ralph ? " 

" Oh, I hope not — but do be more careful," he 
said, encouragingly. 

" I'm so anxious to keep up just now. No, I 
hope I am not going to be ill. But if I should, ' ' 
she hesitated — " if I should, Ralph, promise me 
that vou'll send for Carl." 

" Now don't be conjuring up fancies to worry 
over, Helen,"' said Dr. Leslie brightly. "A 
good night's rest and a day or two's quiet may 
bring you round all right again. ' ' 

'' But Carl ? '' she gently persisted. 

'*• Yes, Helen, certainly, if you wish it he shall 
come home. But I hope there will be no need 
for his coming. When did you hear from him ?" 



254 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

' ' On Monday I had a long letter from him. ' ' 

She made a motion to rise. There was a sud- 
den shrinking and hesitation — then a spasmodic 
effort to get up again. A change came over her 
— her face turned ghastly white and she said 
huskily : 

' ' I can not — I can not, ' ' reaching out her hands 
in a kind of protest against her own helplessness. 

" You must not even try," said her brother, 
bending over her. " Be perfectly quiet. Helen. 
I'll put you on the sofa and then go for Julia." 

In the hall he met Julia and Nellie on their 
way to Mrs. Grayson's room. 

" Julia, Mrs. Grayson is not very well; she is 
lying down in her room. Get her ready for bed 
at once; I'm going to my office for some medi- 
cine, so stay with her until I return. 

When he presently returned to Mrs. Gray- 
son's room he found her in bed, the shaded lamp 
turned low, and Julia sitting by the bedside. 
Dr. Leslie bent over his sister as she lay back 
with closed eyes, among her pillows, and in the 
dim light she seemed scarcely breathing. 

" Helen," he called softly, "let me give you 
your medicine now." 

She opened her eyes and looked up at him in 
silence. Then she tried to raise her head, but 
dropped back, her weakness asserting itself. He 
passed his arm tenderly under her head, lifted 
her, and taking the glass which Julia held gave 
her the draught. 

A few minutes later he crossed to the seat 
which Juha had vacated by Mrs. Grayson's bed- 
side, sat down and leaning forward, watched the 
significant signs of change in her face and lis- 
tened to her respiration. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 255 

The opiate had taken effect, and her breatliiug 
was hghter and less painful. 

In the silence that followed, the door opened 
slowly and Aunt Milly came in noiselessly. 

'* Doctor, you go to bed when you get sleepy." 
she said, " and I'll sit up with Miss Helen. I've 
nussed her too many times not to know how to 
take care of her now. Suppose you let me sit 
up the first hours before midnight, and I can 
wake you at 12 o'clock, an' then you can sit up 
the rest of the night, " Aunt Milly persisted trem- 
ulously. ''I don't like to leave Miss Helen now. " 

'' I know — but not to-night, Aunt Milly. I 
think it is best for me to stay by her, though I 
thank you for offering. ' ' 

" Then I'll be in Nellie's room all night. If 
you need me, call me, ' ' and with a deep sobbing 
breath which seemed to shake her from head to 
foot she turned away. 

Hour after hour crept slowly by, and still he 
sat there all through the night, keeping his 
lonely vigil. 

In spite of his tenderness and devotion, in 
spite of all his medical skill and experience, he 
knew that he could not avert her threatened 
danger. 

About five o'clock in the morning Mrs. Gray- 
son awoke with a low moan and a little shiver, 
and Dr. Leslie saw at once that a feverish weak- 
ness had set in which seemed to exhaust all the 
strength she had left. She lay awake for 
a little while, her eyes wandering restlessly 
around the room, then they stopped and rested 
wearily on her brother. 

' ' Helen, do you wish anything ? How do you 
feel?" he asked quietly, anxiously watching her 



;25(i UNDER GOLDEN SKIES : OR, 

face, which looked almost as white as the pillow 
on which she lay. 

She did not answer him, but tried to give him 
her hand, which fell back upon the cover, but 
he raised it and held it in his, stroking it in a 
gentle, soothing way. 

She closed her eyes without speaking, and 
soon dropped into a feverish sleep. 

' ' How was it that she came to be so ill ? " he 
asked himself. Her illness had rapidly taken a 
dangerous turn. During the long hours of the 
night that he had watched by her bedside, he 
had formed his plans resolutely, and as he always 
made these with careful thoughts, he carried 
them out promptly. 

When the clock struck six, he went into the 
nursery and summoned Aunt Miliy. and when 
she came he cautioned her what to do while he 
was absent from the room. He was going for 
a walk in the open air. He knew a brisk walk 
out in the crisp, cold air, with its wonderful 
purity and freshness would prove a perfect tonic 
to him ; and so it did, for by the time he re- 
turned he felt strengthened and quite ready for 
the difficult fight which he knew inevitably 
faced him. 

Nellie was sincerely miserable when she saw 
the sad, anxious look on her uncle's face, and it 
was with a very heavy heart that she prepared 
her lessons for the first time without her mother's 
assistance. 

After breakfast Dr. Leslie wrote a note to 
I^Iiss Rachel and dispatched Virgil with it. tell- 
ing her of Mrs. Grayson's condition and asking 
her to come to her at once. He wrote to Ruth 
at the same time, but he said nothing about her 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 257 

retuniing home. An hour later Miss Eachel 
arrived. 

Late that afternoon, as he sat at the desk in 
the hbrary, his back turned to the door, writing 
and apparently absorbed in his occupation, he 
became suddenly conscious of a faint, familiar 
odor of violets, and the next moment was roused 
by a soft touch on his shoulder and a low musi- 
cal voice saying: 

'' Forgive me. Dr. Leslie, for troubling you — " 
and looking up quickly an expression of astonish- 
ment mingled vith joy came into his face, and 
the next instant he rose smiling, with a tender 
exclamation of delight, and took his visitor by 
the hand. '' Ruth, my darling! How is it that 
you are here so soon ? Oome to the fire and 
warm these little hands. It is bitter cold out." 
He wheeled a large chair before the glowing 
grate, and when she was seated, he looked down 
into the flushed face inquiringly and searchingly. 
He thought he detected tiaces of tears on her 
cheeks. She raised her head and their eyes met 
for one brief moment, but she saw in them a 
meaning which she had often seen before, but 
which now no longer baffled analysis. 

Then he drew a chair near her and sat down, 
with a sort of gentle authority as though she be- 
longed to him, but in a most winning and con- 
siderate way, took her hand, saying, "Allow me 
to take these off for you — " and began undoing 
her gloves as carefully and easily as she would 
have done it herself, and then put them on her 
lap. 

There was not a word of tenderness spoken; 
he merely raised the little hand and pressed it, 
and touched it to his lips. She could not restrain 



258 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR. 

a smile while he busied himself removing her 
gloves, though her heart was very sad ; but she 
was so susceptible to the gentle and soothing- 
influences of those around her — and above all 
those of her guardian, for he seemed to lay aside 
so entirely all thought of self, and somehow con- 
trived to infuse others with a strengthening and 
tranquilizing sense of his loving sympathy. She 
saw that his look and manner were tenderly 
grave — more so than she had ever seen them 
before; but he was gentleness itself, and she 
could not help thinking as she watched him, 
that his face even in its gravity was the hand- 
somest and noblest she had ever seen. 

'' You see, I couldn't wait,*" she began, hold- 
ing a hand up to shield her face from the bright 
heat. '■' I felt so anxious about Mrs. Grayson 
that I asked Principal Cordell to let me come. 
I came to help nurse Mrs. Grayson, and you 
really must allow me to do this for her."' 

" Have you ever been much in a sick room ? "■ 

She glanced up at him quickly : a sudden 
change came over her face and her voice fal- 
tered: "No. not a great deal; I nursed papa 
through his last illness. He seemed not to want 
any one else near him — " she paused, rose and 
turned away to hide the tears in her eyes. Dr. 
Leslie rose, too, a tender gleam in his dark gray 
eyes, and he strecthed out his arms longingly as 
if to enfold her in them, but checked himself 
and let them fall to his side. Euth did not ob- 
serve the yearning movement. 

" I'll go to my room now, and lay my things 
aside,"" she said. " Shall I find you here when 
[ return ? ' ' 

" Yes, I will wait for you here." 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 259 

When she came down-stairs he was standing 
at the foot of the steps talking to Miss Rachel, 
whose back was turned toward her. As soon as 
she caught the grave look on his face, and the 
intense depression of his manner, her heart sank 
with a strange dread. In an instant he tried to 
rally when he saw the sweet questioning eyes 
brilliant with tears looking down at him. Be- 
fore he had time to speak, Miss Rachel glanced 
over her shoulder, with a look of surprise, then 
turned quickly round and kissed the troubled 
face bending toward her. 

" I am glad to see you, child. I did not know 
you had come," she said. "You had a cold ride. 
It is raw outside." She stood still a moment, 
listening to a sound of voices which came from 
or beyond Mrs. Grayson's room, and without 
waiting to say another word she turned and 
walked swiftly away. For a moment after Miss 
Rachel had left them, Dr. Leslie stood silent, 
watching Ruth compassionately. 

"What is it?" she said, "what is the mat- 
ter ? ' ' and she held her hands out to him as 
though to keep herself from falling. " How is 
Mrs. Grayson ? Do let me go to her; and don't 
keep anything from me. for I can stand any- 
thing better than this awful suspense." 

He took the soft trembling hands and held 
them as tenderly as if they had been a little 
child's. 

" Ruth, try to calm yourself, my dear. I am 
going to take you in to see Mrs. Grayson, but 
after to-day I shall exclude everyone from her 
sick-room except those in immediate attendance 
upon her. ' ' 



260 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 



CHAPTER XXV. 

The time wore slowly on, and all through the 
dreary days that followed Ruth seemed to have 
forgotten how to reckon their coming and going. 

After fever had set in Mrs. Grayson was for 
days unconscious to everything around her, but 
throughout all her delirium the one link which 
seemed to hind her to life and reason— the one 
name which she ever called was Carl — Carl. 

It was as Dr. Leslie had said, " a shadow as 
of death brooded over the house;'' and despite 
the fact that the doctor who regularly came and 
went had almost given up his patient, still Ruth 
refused to allow the terrible suspense and dread 
which hung over them to cause her to give way 
to despair, but with an effort of will such as she 
had never been called upon to exercise before, 
she restrained her emotions, hoped on against 
liope, and though it cost her a hard struggle to 
appear always brave and hopeful and calm in 
the presence of others even while her own 
heart was torn with unutterable anguish, yet 
she rose superior not only to her own sorrow and 
suffering, but to those around her; and the 
stress of circumstances, and the sweet influence 
of her strength and serenity — her brave endur- 
ance amidst these trials, cheered and comforted 
the stricken ones as nothing else did, or ever 
could have done. With a love that was beauti- 
ful, heroic and sublime, she gave her whole time 
and strength in a thousand little loving ways to 
lighten the burden of care and sadness of those 
passing through this painful conflict, otherwise 
its very intensity would have made it seem to 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 261 

them a ceaseless eternity of torture almost un- 
bearable. 

Added to the sweet consciousness of doing 
her duty in sympathizing with and helping others 
to bear their pain, came the precious and oft 
repeated approbations of her guardian, which 
ev^er rang in her ear. " Clod bless you, Ruth, my 
angel of mercy — my sweet spirit of light. This 
is your mission, darling, to heal the wounded 
and broken-hearted — to teach others what the 
love of Christ is like. 

One morning as Ruth came down-stairs rather 
earlier than usual she met her guardian in the 
hall with his hat and overcoat on, ready to go 
out. His face was white and sternly set, and 
traces of deep and strong emotion were on it, 
but when he spoke his voice had the same gentle 
ring to it, yet she thought there was a deeper 
melancholy, too, than she had ever heard before. 
Even after he had closed the door and passed out 
into the bright morning light, she recalled his 
look and tone, and somehow a keen pain seemed 
to strike her from her very heart's depths. 

Mrs. Grayson's friends called often to make 
inquiries, to offer sympathy, and share the re- 
sponsibility of serving if need be, but everything 
that skillful physicians and a thoroughly trained 
and disciplined nurse could do was being done to 
the utmost for her, so there was nothing more 
that could be done to soothe and soften her suf- 
fering. 

When at length the crisis came a,nd the doc- 
tors bid the family hope, the relief from dread 
and suspense was indeed great. Heavy hearts 
gre^^ light, and grave faces bright once more — 
and in spite of all caution Nellie would burst 
into song from time to time. 



262 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

A few days after the doctor had pronounced 
Mrs. Grayson out of danger, Ruth went into the 
hbrary one morning where her guardian sat 
writing some letters — letters which had been 
waiting for answers during Mrs. Grayson's long- 
illness. As the portiere was drawn aside, she 
entered without knocking. With a beaming 
face she crossed the room and stood beside him, 
her heart beating quickly, and for a minute he 
wrote on, heedless of her presence. She waited 
without speaking. Presently he laid down his 
pen and swung round in his chair. The happiest 
smile broke over his handsome face when he saw 
who it was, and he rose at once and placed a 
chair for her to sit down. He still held his hand 
on the back of the chair, motioning to her to be 
seated, while he kept his eyes fixed upon her 
mar.vellously beautiful face, every lineament lit 
with the reflex happiness of her soul. Ah, 
when the heart is full of love and gladness— 
when the future looks bright to us — how brightly 
glows all the world about us, how beautiful and 
radiant is life. 

' ' No, thank you. I should not dare to now 
unless you will allow me to help you," she 
laughed, glancing at his unfinished letter; " for 
I see I have interrupted your correspondence. ' ' 

" But sit down, please, Ruth, a few minutes; 
I have something I wish to tell you — something 
I have kept from you, little brave heart, because 
I thought it was best not to tell you while Mrs. 
Grayson was so ill. ' ' 

Suddenly Ruth started and a shiver crept over 
her, while her face paled perceptibly, as though 
his words foreshaowed some new trouble, some 
fresh sorrow. She took the vacant seat he rolled 
toward her. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 263 

" I'm SO sorry to have alarmed you, my dear," 
he said hastily, with great solicitude, ' ' I cer- 
tainly did not mean to. I should have remem- 
bered that the strain on your physical powers 
the past few weeks has been severely trying, 
and so shown more discretion. What I have to 
tell you, however, is something I'm sure will 
give you pleasure— "' he hesitated. 

" Please go on. Don't be afraid to tell me. 
I'm sure I can bear to hear a great deal of good 
news. Is it anything connected with Agnes ? " 

"Yes, and Mr. and Mrs. Glenwood and Carl ?" 

She looked at him eagerly. " Do you know I 
have wondered more than once what has kept 
them. Should they not have been here some- 
time ago V ' ' 

"■Yes, two weeks ago." As he spoke he 
turned to the desk and picked up a yellowy en- 
velope containing a telegram and handed it to 
her. ' ' Read that, ' ' he said quietly, ' ' and I will 
tell you afterwards why they have been de- 
tained. ' ' 

She obeyed a little nervously. AVhile she read 
the brief message Dr. Leslie watched the bright 
color rise and glow in her cheeks. Suddenly her 
hands dropped in her lap. 

" And to think they will be here to-morrow!" 
she exclaimed joyfully, looking at him with sur- 
prise. "Oh, I am so glad! Really the news 
seems too good to be true, and I cannot realize 
it. Have you told Mrs. Grayson — and Nellie ? 
How glad they will be to know. ' ' 

'' No, I only received the telegram a few min- 
utes before you came in. I shall have to prepare 
Mrs. Grayson for the good news without unduly 
exciting her. That would never do ; but I said 



2H4 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

I would tel] you why Carl and the Glen woods 
were delayed in reaching here sooner. I shall 
not detain you long. While Mrs. Grayson was 
so very low, and we though there was but little 
hope, a letter came to me one day from my 
friend Woodson, in New York, stating that the 
steamer on which Carl and the Glenwoods had 
sailed from Liverpool for New York had been 
wrecked in a terrible storm when three days out 
at sea. and all on board except the captain and 
three of the crew had perished. Woodson had 
waited, he said, several days before writing me 
to ascertain beyond a doubt if the horrible news 
were true — waited to gather all the details of 
the disaster as far as it were possible to secure 
them, and then a day or two later he forwarded 
me some New York papers with a confirmation 
of th.e reports he had written me. Ruth, I could 
not tell you or any one, and no one living knows 
or can ever know the wretchedness and anguish 
of soul which I suffered after the first shock of 
this news came, which made my heart sicken 
and my senses reel ; and all that I suffered in the 
miserable days that followed. I did not make 
you the recipient of my confidence because I 
knew, under the circumstances, you could not 
have borne up against it. I felt that had the 
agony crowded in those few days lasted much 
longer, I should have gone down myself under 
it, though one can endure many a cruel blow and 
live and be sane. Fortunately, our city pa- 
pers contained only a brief telegraphic report of 
the vessel and did not mention the names of 
any of the passengers on board. On the after- 
noon of the day when I received Woodson's first 
letter telling me of the wrecked vessel, I went in 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 265 

to see Helen, and while sitting by her bedside she 
turned to me and suddenly and deliberately 
asked, ' Where is Carl '? ' Of course she asked 
the question in the fever of delirium and knew 
not what she was saying, but for the moment 
I was so completely thrown off my guard be- 
cause of the strangeness of the question, that I 
felt a sick and deathly faiutness come over me, 
and it was with a desperate effort I could recover 
my self-control. I think my look and manner 
must have terrified Miss Dupont. her nurse, 
but her admirable training bore her bravely up. 
I think she must have half suspected the truth, 
too, that some trouble had befallen Carl. A 
few days later there came another letter from 
Woodson, and if joy could kill I think I should 
have been its victim after I read it. Carl and 
the Glenwoods had engaged passage on the 
fated steamer and had made every preparation 
to come over in it, but the day on which they 
were to sail, some unfortunate accident had 
occurred which had detained them beyond the 
time set for the vessel's leaving, and so they 
vT-ere forced to postpone their return and come 
by the next steamer. Possibly you can faintly 
imagine how I felt. Even though Mrs. Grayson 
lay at death's door — even though the hope of 
her recovery had grown so dim, yet the knowl- 
edge of the safety of those dear ones whom I 
believed had met such a terrible fate, thrilled 
me with a joy so strauge, so profound, that I 
am sure I shall not forget it to my dying day." 



18 



266 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 



CHAPTER XXVI. 

The next morning Ruth woke with a start. 
The merry sound of Nellie's voice as she romped 
with Bruce on the back veranda had roused her. 
She lay still a few moments trying to collect her 
dreamy, wandering thoughts and gain full con- 
sciousness. That something unxepected, if not 
unusual, had occurred she was quite certain. 

She slipped out of bed and was soon in her 
dressing gown and slippers; then she went to 
the window and drew up the blinds. 

The scene which met her view astonished her. 
The ground, the tops of houses, the leafless 
branches of the trees, everything without was 
covered with a glittering coating of snow, and 
the great white flakes were still falling and 
seemed to increase in size and rapidity until they 
had the appearance of a dense white cloud. The 
streets were almost deserted, and the few per- 
sons who were seen upon them hurried to and 
fro as if eager to be beyond the severity of the 
cold. 

As she stood there looking out, there came a 
low knock at her dooi", and on opening it she 
found Julia. 

" Miss Ruth, Dr. Leslie told me to give you 
this telegram to read. ' ' The telegram was from 
Carl to his uncle, dated from Washington, and 
stated that he and the G-lenwoods were en route 
for home and would be in on the 11.30 train that 
day. 

Two hours later, while Ruth was in Mrs. Gray- 
son's room, a light quick step came bounding 
down the hall, and the next moment the door 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 267 

opened suddenly and Nellie's curly head was 
thrust in. 

'" Oh, they're coming — Carl's coming — I saw 
the carriage. Do corae, Cousin Ruth, and let 
us go out on the veranda to meet them. Come 
now. Cousin Ruth," she urged, and without 
waiting for her Nellie ran out of the room clap- 
ping her hands in a perfect glee. 

Throwing a heavy shawl around her shoulders, 
Ruth went out on the veranda, where Miss 
Rachel, Nellie and Julia had preceded her, and 
stood shivering with excitement as vvell as cold, 
whilst the carriage drew up and stopped, and 
Virgil descended quickly and opened the door. 
There was only one vehicle, and Ruth was just 
wondering how so many people had managed to 
be stowed away in that, when Dr. Leslie 
alighted, then Mr. Glenwood, Mrs. Glenwood 
next, and finally Mrs. Glenwood 's French maid, 
whom Nellie took for Agnes. In the midst of 
the joyous hubbub of welcome and greetings 
going on around her, Nellie was almost ready to 
burst out crying from disappointment as soon as 
she saw that Carl was not among the arrivals, 
and the others had no manner of interest for her 
at that moment — not until her uncle explained 
that Carl and Agnes were on the way and would 
arrive in a few minutes. He said that Carl had 
met an old friend at the station, who kindly 
offered him the use of his sleigh and horses, and 
notwithstanding the bitter cold Agnes declared 
that this was a temptation which she could not 
resist, to say nothing of the novelty of enjoying 
a sleigh-ride in the Sunny South — " And they 
are coming with all possible speed that the horses 
can bring them," he said, turning to Nellie with 
a laugh, and her face brightened immediately. 



2«8 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

" Well, this seems like rather cold hospital- 
ity, ' ' he continued to his guests, ' ' standing here 
in the snow. Suppose we go indoors and find 
more warmth and comfort. Eachel, if vou will 
show George and Cousin Ella to their rooms, 
and they'll excuse me, I will have iheir trunks 
and hoxes sent up at once. I see the dray has 
arrived with them." Then he turned back 
while Miss Eachel, with more than her ordinary 
cordial manner of a welcoming hostess, carried 
them away to their rooms — Adele, Mrs. Glen- 
wood's maid, following with her mistress' trav- 
eling bag and extra wraps. 

The beautiful and elegant rooms which had 
been set apart for them opened out into each 
other and were on the second floor. ' ' Much 
more comfortable and elegant than I had im- 
agined, '' was Mrs. Glen wood's mental criticism 
as they passed through the spacious hall and up 
the wide stairs, where her foot sank into the 
soft carpot, and then into the handsome apart- 
ments which bore the unmistakable impress of 
quiet elegance and refinement in all their rich 
appointments. These things — comfort and ele- 
gance — Mrs. Glenwood regarded as absolute 
requirements necessary to one's peace of mind 
and happiness — at least they were to her. 

' ' Now I shall leave you, ' ' Miss Rachel said, 
in her direct, brusque way as soon as she had 
ushered her guests into their rooms. " We dine 
at 2 o'clock, but I shall send you up some tea 
right away, and should you need anything 
meanwhile, I shall be glad if you will let me 
know. ' ' 

' ' Thank you. Cousin Rachel, ' ' assented Mrs. 
Glenwood, as she sank on a low lounge, resting 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 261> 

herself luxuriously among the silken cushions, 
and allowing Adele to remove her heavy fur 
wraps. " This is delightful, I assure you, after 
the heat of the cars, then the sudden change to 
a cold draught. We certainly owe you a thous- 
and thanks for making everything so j)leasaut 
and comfortable for us. ' * 

' ' Oh, not at all, ' ' said Miss Rachel candidly ; 
I am glad it suits you.'' Then she closed the 
door and went down-stairs, wondering a little if 
Mrs. Glen wood were so pleased as she had said. 
Ruth had told her of Mrs. Glenwood's palatial 
home in San Francisco, one among the most ele- 
gant and superb in that city of magnificent pri- 
vate homes, and that she lived and entertained 
in almost regal splendor; and while her brother's 
home was beautiful and elegant, and one among 
the most sumptuous in his own city, ' ' but of 
course was not to be compared to their cousin's 
in the far West," Miss Rachel said conclusively 
to herself. 

Ruth and Nellie had ventured back to the 
veranda with Dr. Leslie, for they had heard the 
merry sound of sleigh bells, and the next mo- 
ment they saw the light vehicle drawn by a pair 
of superb bays with two persons sitting in the 
front snugly ensconced and almost invisible in 
fur robes, come dashing up the driveway, if not 
according to the driver's idea of safety — who 
was sitting on the seat behind — apparently to 
the entn-e satisfaction of the two occupants of 
the front seat. Carl threw the reins to the groom 
and sprang out, and then assisted a slight, grace- 
ful girl to the flag-stone. Dr. Leslie received 
Carl with open arms, while Nellie, between tears 
and laughter, threw her arras around his neck 



270 • UNDER C40LDEN SKIES; OR, 

and clung to him as if she never meant to let 
him go. 

'' Well, Uncle Ralph, ifs worth going away if 
for no other reason than the pleasure of return- 
ing to recieve such a welcome as this, ' ' Carl said 
as soon as he could free himself from Nellie's 
warm embrace, and find his voice. '" It's some- 
thing like the prodigal's return, sure enough." 

"Now see here, Cousin Ralph, I don't propose 
to be ignored any longer," said Agnes, pouting 
deliciously, and coming forward with her accus- 
tomed grace of manner. '' I don't believe in ex- 
tending all the welcome to the prodigal." She 
held out her little hand with a smile to her 
Cousin Ralph, and with all the warmth of a 
brother he bent and kissed her, while tears of 
genuine joy stood in his kind eyes. " This is 
indeed a great pleasure, Agnes, and I cordially 
welcome you and Carl both home." 

"• A thousand thanks. Cousin Ralph. So good 
of you — '' but she got no further — an exclama- 
tion of surprise escaped her, for just then Ruth 
stepped from behind one of the pillars which 
had partially concealed her, and then came to- 
ward them with that lovely movement of wel- 
come which was so fascinating in her. " Well, 
here you are at last," cried Agnes, her face 
glowing with happiness as she caught Ruth in 
her arms and kissed her repeatedly ; then throw- 
ing back her head and holding her a little way 
off, she went on in a rapture of admiration : ' ' I 
do believe you are lovelier than ever, darling; 
oh, you radiant creature ! How I have so longed 
to see you. Can it be true that I am acturally 
with you, or am I dreaming ? But pardon me, 
and allow me to introduce you to my cousin and 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. ^'' 271 

your foster brother, Carl Grayson— Mr. Gray- 
son, I suppose I should say. I am sure you 
must feel as if you tw^o already knew one 
another — you have heard of each other so often — 
I generally do when I hear people talked of so 
much — I mean those whom I have never seen.'' 

Carl's eyes had been fixed steadily on Ruth's 
face while Agnes held her, and was raving ovei- 
her in such a burst of enthusiastic admiration, 
and when she turned to acknowledge the intro- 
duction, she gracefully held out her hand and 
ii'ave him the loveliest smile of welcome. Carl's 
gay handsome face kindled into smiles and he 
felt drawn to her at once, and Ruth in turn was 
quite won by his gentle, chivalrous bearing, and 
she found he was pretty much the knightly per- 
son her fancy had depicted. If anything, he 
was even handsomer than the portrait of him- 
self which hung in his mother's room, and his 
uncle had remarked on meeting him that he had 
grown stouter and more manly. 

" Mother has written me so often about you, 
Miss Arnold, that now I've met you it seems 
quite as if I have been knowing you always," 
he was saying to her as he walked beside her, 
with Nellie clinging to his hand, while Dr. Leslie 
and Agnes led the way in; and very soon he and 
Ruth were talking to one another as frankly as 
though they had known one another for years. 

" And so this is the Sunny South, Cousin 
Ralph, of which Ruth has been writing me such 
glowing accounts," said Agnes, glancing over 
her shoulder at Ruth with a quick flash of her 
mischievous eyes. " But I dare say this partic- 
ular snow storm was imported from the North 
Arctic, or some unexplored region, in honor of 
our visit, eh. Carl '? ' ' 



272 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

' ' It seems more likely that we brought it with 
us from the North," he laughed, "for it was 
snowing like fury when we left New York yes- 
terday. " 

" Oh, you are judging our Southland too 
hastily, " interposed Ruth, "and I'm sure you 
will change your opinion before a great while. ' ' 

" Yes, for you may probably find next week 
as warm, bright and smiling as if there never 
had been any such things as snowstorms or even 
cold weather," said Carl warmly. 

" Oh, I like this weather — don't apologize for 
it, I pray you. It is perfectly delicious to me," 
laughed Agnes. "■ It is a wonder you don't tell 
me, Carl, that the very next sunshine will tempt 
the crocuses and dandelions out of their winter 
sleep till all the lawns are looking as beautiful 
and springlike as country fields." 

' ' In spite of your incredulity, I do make the 
statement now, and I shouldn't be surprised if 
you see it verified in less than a week. ' ' 

They had entered the hall, and as Carl took 
off his overcoat and hat and hung them on the 
rack he said, "Well, Uncle Ralph, this does seem 
homelike, and it is delightful to be with you all 
once again." 

' ' And it is equally pleasant to have you home 
again, my boy," his uncle said heartily, respond- 
ing to his compliment. 

' ' Dr. Leslie, if you think Agnes can be spared, 
I will take her to her room, and when she is 
rested we will come down to the sitting-room," 
said Ruth, laying her hands on Agnes' arm. 
Juha had already preceded them with Agnes' 
traveling bag and wraps, and as the girls ran 
hghtly up the steps together, Agnes began again 
in her bright, eager way : 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 273 



u 



What have you been doing with yourself all 
this long time, darling ? I have so much to tell 
you I hardly know where to begin, and I know 
I shall never end. It has been such a ceaseless 
whirl of parties and receptions and amusements 
of every kind since we parted, that I am heartily 
sick of it all. I positively envy you your restful 
time here. ' ' 

Ruth smiled and pressed her hand, and a^ 
they had reached her room she opened the door 
and led Agnes in. and for the next two hours 
the girls were left uninterruptedly alone to re- 
new their sweet girl friendship — a friendship 
easily made and oftentimes too easily broken. 

Nellie had followed them a few steps, but see- 
ing that they were so much engrossed in their 
own talk and paid so little heed to her, she 
turned back and joined her uncle and Carl in the 
hall. 

"When may I see mother, Uncle Ralph?'' 
Carl asked eagerly, as soon as the two girls had 
left them; "I am sure she is waiting for me, 
and I am so anxious to go to her. ' ' Even as he 
spoke he glanced anxiously in the direction of his 
mother's room. 

"You dear boy." said Dr. Leslie warmly. 
' ' I am glad to know that with all you have seen 
and learned during your eighteen months' so- 
journ abroad, you have not forgo^,ten your 
mother — that you think as much of her as ever. 
While your absence has been a sore trial to her, 
yet she has borne up bravely, and I am sure can 
never regret the sacrifice which she has made, 
when she sees how manly and improved you 
are " — a look of pride and happiness came into 
his uncle's face. " AVell, here we are at your 



274- UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

mother's door, and here I will leave you. 
Come, Nellie, we'll go to the sitting-room and 
have a quiet time to ourselves until the others 
come to join us." 

Nelhe still held her brother by the hand. 
" But I must kiss Carl, first," she said resolutely. 
' ' You know I love you, Carl, with my whole 
heart, and oh, I am so glad you've come home 
again. ' ' 

' ' You are a dear little sister, Nellie, ' ' he said, 
' ' and certainly this is one of the brightest and 
happiest days of my life." Then he stooped and 
kissed the little beaming face upturned to his 
with such a sweet glad smile. 

" Good-bye, till I see you in the sitting- 
room," he continued in a broken voice and 
tears of joy in his eyes, and Nellie waved a kiss 
to him as she skipped down the hall beside her 
uncle. Carl knocked gently on his mother's 
door, and hardly waiting for "the familiar ' ' come 
in ' ' which he remembered still, he entered and 
closed the door behind him. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 275 



CHAPTER XXVII. 

" And were there no other children ? I mean 
hving ones?'' The question was asked with 
eager, almost breathless interest. 

"Oh, yes, a little girl by his first marriage; 
but as the mother died a day or two after her 
birth, and there was no one to take charge of her, 
a wealthy relative in New York agreed to take 
the infant — though she was very delicate — rear 
and educate her as his own daughter and finally 
adopt her, provided her father would renounce 
all claims to her in the future." 

" And did he accede to such an arrangement ?" 
The question w^as asked in a tone of surprised 
amazement. 

' ' Yes, and I suppose wath an easy conscience, 
feeling that it would be for the best; but it 
seems that as soon as the child w^as taken to 
New York it sickened and died — at least it was 
so reported — and — " 

Ruth had unavoidablv heard this much of 
what she inferred, from the earnest tone and 
serious manner of Mrs. Glenwood and Miss 
Rachel — for it was they who w^ere the speakers 
— to be a private conversation not intended for 
her ears, so she came out at once from behind 
the deep curtained recess in the sitting-room. 

It was in the afternoon of the day of the visi- 
tors' arrival, and, notwithstanding the gray snow 
clouds and the bitter cold without, there was a 
general sense of brightness and cheerfulness 
throughout the whole house within. 

Carl had remained with his mother until din- 
ner was announced, and immediately that meai 



276 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

was over he took himself off to see Aunt Milly, 
his old nurse, greatly rejoicing her heart, while 
she declared over and over to him that she never 
expected to set eyes on him again in this world. 

It was not very long before Carl came in and 
Agnes made room for him on the divan beside 
her, and when Euth appeared Agnes insisted 
that she too should occupy the seat with them. 
Rath settled the question, however, by drawing 
up a chair within conversational distance, and 
after exchanging a few merry words with Agnes, 
rather withflrew herself and let her monopolize 
the conversation. 

From time to time as Ruth's eyes rested upon 
Carl's handsome, laughing face, and watched 
his easy, graceful manners and pleasant little 
ways with Agnes, she did not wonder that any 
one could help liking him. There was, besides 
a striking resemblance to his Cousin Agnes in 
features, an equally marked similarity in their 
natures — the same vivacity, the same perfect 
freedom from all affectation. True, he had all 
his uncle's chiselling of features, with some of 
his intellectual breadth of brow and gentleness 
of mouth ; but withal he looked a much nearer 
kinsman to his beautiful cousin with her grace- 
fully acquired society ways, and Old World 
graces, than his handsome uncle whom Carl still 
regarded with as much admiration and almost 
adoration as in the days of his boyhood. 

Agnes looked up at him with a radiant glance 
as he took the proffered seat beside her. 

" I was just thinking about you, and wonder- 
ing what had deprived us of your charming so- 
ciety so long. Not that I haven't been most 
delightfully entertained. " she said quickly, "but 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 277 

I am going to ask Ruth to favor us with some 
music, and I so much want that you should hear 
her play and sing. I asked Cousin Helen when 
I was in to see her, if music would disturh her, 
and she assured me to the contrary. She says 
that it always has the most soothing and calm- 
ing influence upon her even when she is sick, 
and she would be glad to hear Ruth's sweet 
strains echoing through the old house again — or 
something to that effect. Now you see, darling, 
you are expected to respond promptly and grace- 
fully to my request, as well as Cousin Helen's 
expressed wish. Carl, I depute you to open the 
piano and escort this fair musician to her seat." 

He instantly rose, went to the piano and 
opened it, and then came back for Ruth, bowing 
low before her. 

" Miss Arnold, it will give me great — " 

" Miss Arnold indeed," Agnes laughed gayly, 
"when are you two going to get acquainted ? 
Do be sensible and call one another by your 
Christian names." 

Ruth's candid eyes met Carl's frankly. His 
own, with something in their inscrutable expres- 
sion just then reminding her so much of his 
uncle's, beamed with good humor, and involun- 
tarily they both laughed as their eyes met. Still 
studying her face, he said : 

' ' Shall we do as Agnes suggests ? - ' 

' ' I suppose I may allow you t o take advan- 
tage of our relationship and call me Ruth, ' ' she 
said, smiling and flushing. 

' ' Thank you, ' ' he said, pretending not to see 
her suddenly changed color, and Ruth and 
Agnes both rose and all three moved to the 
piano. 



278 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

The hours of that day sped rapidly and hap- 
pily by, and at its close, when the household 
were gathered around the family altar, it was 
with a heart overflowing with gratitude that 
Dr. Leslie had offered up praise and thanksgiv- 
ing to the Almighty for the safe arrival of the 
travelers, the promised recovery of his sister, 
commended them all to the Father's favor, and 
then consecrated himself anew to His service. 
His earnest and simple devotion affected more 
than one of his listeners to tears. As soon as 
the prayer was finisned, Agnes and Ruth bade 
the family good-night and retired immediately 
to their room. 

" Oh, I have so longed for this hour ever since 
I came," said Agnes, as she sank down on a 
comfortable couch before the glowing grate, and 
taking Ruth's hand gently drew her down beside 
her. " I am so glad, too, to have you all to my- 
self again, darling, for I have a thousand things 
to talk to you about. But wait a moment." 
She rose suddenly and turned down the light, 
and the rosy glow made by the burning coal fire 
in the grate made a light most suited to their 
feelings. Then she came back, sat down, and 
fixing her eyes steadily on Ruth's expectant 
face, said very deliberately : 

"• Well, in the first place, I'm going to tell you 
frankly that I don't intend to occupy that pretty 
room next door which is done up in such ex- 
quisite luxury and taste, and which has been 
assigned to my especial use, but I'm going to 
share your room with you. What have you to 
say for or against it ? ' ' 

Rath gave her a sweet reassuring smile. 
" Why certainly. I shall be too glad to have 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 27^ 

you with me, and even after I go back to the 
Academy, I want you still to occupy my room. 
Before you came, I thought probably you might 
wish a room all to yourself, and in the event 
you didn't, I knew it would be very easy to make 
a change. Yes, I assure you that I'm really 
very glad you do not like the other arrangement, 
and so will stay with me.'' 

Ruth was standing dressed by her bedside when 
Agnes awoke next morning. Agnes rubbed her 
eyes and stared curiously at her for a moment, 
half unconscious, half asleep. 

" Who is that ? Where am I '? " she asked. 

Ruth laughed. " Get up and come to the win- 
dow^ and see what lovely sights you are missing. 
Nature has transformed the world into a veri- 
table Crystal Palace since we closed our eyes upon 
it last night, and I was so afraid the sun would 
play havoc with it before you saw it." 

' ' Oh, you darling. ' ' said Agnes, throwing her 
arms around her neck. " Nothing in this world 
is half so lovely as you are. But let me see this 
beautiful world of transient wonders." Ruth 
handed her her dressing gown and slippers, and 
hastily slipping them on, the girls were soon 
standing arm in arm beside the window. 

" Oh, darling, it is lovely — beautiful — grand," 
said Agnes enthusiastically. " I can't find the 
words I want to express myself." 

The scene which nearly deprived them of the 
powei- of vision was indescribably brilliant and 
beautiful. During the night a cold fine rain had 
fallen and immediately frozen into ice of the 
purest crystal. Everything was sheathed in a 
heavy coating of this transparent incrustation, 
and under the dazzling rays of the morning sun 



280 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

radiated and glistened like burnished silver. The 
limbs of the largest trees were bent almost to 
the ground under their heavy burden, forming 
graceful arches, and glistened as if wreathed 
in diamond sprays. Nothing could equal the 
glory and splendor of the landscape. Myriads of 
icicles hung from the eaves of the house and 
pendant boughs, amongst which the sunbeams 
danced with an irridescent light, changing them 
into an infinite variety of beauty and splendor. 

'' Well, it is a pretty picture," Agnes said, 
turning away from the window at last. " But 
then one can't even look at a beautiful thing 
forever. The bright light has made me as blind 
as the proverbial bat. ' ' She clapped her hands 
over her eyes, until the momentary blindness 
had passed, and then she began to arrange her 
wealth of shimmering hair. When she and 
Ruth descended to the breakfast-room, a little 
later, the church bells were ringing out their 
pleasant call over the dazzling morning scene. 
They hurried through the meal so as to be ready 
in time for the opening service, and on their 
way out to the carriage found Carl leaning 
against one of the pillars of the veranda quietly 
smoking, and as oblivous of the cold as if it were 
the mildest day in May. Agnes walked up to 
him, dimpling with smiles, and slipped one of 
her hands through his arm, holding her prayer 
book in the other. 

' ' Oh, for shame, Carl Grayson ! Where have 
you been all the morning ? Is this the conduct 
of a host — the manner in which he should dis- 
pense good-will and hospitality to his guests ? I 
had hoped to find a different reception from you. 
Aren't you going with us to church this morn- 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 281 

ing ? My conscience will mercilessly lash me if 
I betake myself off to worship and leave you 
here to your own wayward devices. ' ' 

Before he answered her he tossed his cigar 
away and raised his hat to Ruth. Mrs. Glen- 
wood he had met at breakfast. 

" Not if you will excuse me, pretty cousin. 
I'll see you safely off on your perilous journey 
and then I'm going to spend the hour of your 
absence with mother. You can do penance for 
both of us. Allow me to take you and Euth to 
the carriage ; I see Uncle Ralph and Cousin Ella 
are waiting, and there goes your last church 
bell. Look out ! be careful. A thin coating of 
ice has formed over the floor since it was cleared 
off this morning, and you might go down un- 
awares." He gave a swift glance at her and 
went on: '' You look splendidly, little coz — quite 
as well as I e^'er saw you." 

' • Do you think so '? Thanks. I love frank- 
ness above all things, ' ' she laughed, ' ' and I cer- 
tainly don't think any one will ever have cause 
to reproach you for a lack of that virtue. ' ' 

' ' Yes, I am frank — or matter-of-fact — which V 
But unfortunately the fin de siecle public don't, 
as a rule, appreciate the most matter-of-fact peo- 
ple, it matters not how much solid excellence 
they possess. I am glad, however, that you 
do.'' 

" Well, I've nothing more to say," she laugh- 
ed, as he handed her and Ruth to their seats, 
and then Virgil closed the door. 

" A safe and pleasant journey." Carl smiled 

and raised his hat, and after the carriage drove 

off stood listening for a moment to the grating 

sound which the wheels made on the crisp, hard 

19 



282 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

snow as it yielded to the pressure of the vehicle, 
and listening to tinkling sleigh-bells sounding 
far into the distance, he whistled softly to 
himself, turned and went into the house and 
directly to his mother's room. 

The following Tuesday Ruth returned to the 
Academy. 

Mr. and Mrs. Glenwood were to spend only a 
month with their relatives and then return to 
their home in California, but Dr. Leslie and 
Mrs. Grayson had prevailed upon them to let 
Agnes remain on a visit to them, and the invita- 
tion so cordially extended had been accepted for 
a perfectly indefinite time. 

Ruth had promised Agnes when she left to 
return and spend the Easter holidays with her, 
at the same time assuring her that it would be 
the last holiday she intended to take until she 
was graduated in May. 

Now that Carl had returned home, Mrs. Gray- 
son daily grew stronger and better, and began 
to recover rapidly. Dr. Leslie laughingly told 
her that Carl's presence was better medicine for 
her than all the doctor's physic, good nursing 
and the tender and loving sympathy of her 
friends combined. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 283 



CHAPTER XXVIII. 

" Oh, I'm so glad you've come — so glad to 
have you back again, darling, ' ' cried Agnes, in 
a gay voice of w^elcome, laughing and running 
down the steps to meet Ruth as she came up 
the walk, and so silently that she was quite to 
the house before Agnes saw her. Then throw- 
ing back Ruth's Oxford gown, she slipped her 
arm in hers, and they sauntered along to the 
house. Agnes rambling on in her bright eager 
fashion. 

" Everybody has gone driving except Cousin 
Helen and myself, and I stayed to receive you. 
Now that was kind of me. wasn't it ? Carl and 
ISellie are going by the Academy for you, and 
will be dreadfully disappointed that they've 
missed you. But I'm glad you didn't wait. 
We'll have time to have a little talk before we 
go out this evening. 

" Go out this evening?" echoed Ruth, in a 
surprised tone. " Where ? " 

" Oh, yes, I'd forgotten you didn't receive my 
note I sent by Nellie this afternoon. Mrs. Brice 
has asked us to a musicale this evening. Well, 
not a musicale exactly, but the Misses Vandoren 
are to be there, and some other friends, and 
there's to be music — ^just a quiet affair, and I 
knew you wouldn't mind going." 

" And you accepted for me ? " 

" Of course I did, you little nun." said Agnes, 
laughing. " And now don't look so alarmed as 
if I'd done something dreadful. You are not 
expected to play or sing a single piece." 

" But Agnes, you know I've not been to a so- 



284 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

cial gathering of any kind since papa's death, 
and I do not feel that I care to go." 

The color rose in Euth's face and her voice 
trembled, for the old wound was still tender. 
Agnes knew that she should win Ruth over to 
her side, for with all her gay, careless ways she 
was irresistible when she cared to be, and this 
was a time when she cared. 

" I know, darling," she said, " but this is to 
be just a quiet gathering of a few friends, all of 
whom you know, and I can't see any possible 
reason why you shouldn't go. Indeed, I think 
it will be almost ungracious to refuse, and then 
after you've once relaxed your rule of making a 
recluse of yourself, it will not be half so hard 
afterwards. You beautiful darling, you know 
you can't always bury yourself from the admir- 
ing gaze of the world.'' 

" Hush. Agnes. You're talking nonsense 
now, and I'll not listen to you," said Ruth. 

" Indeed. I'm not. I never uttered a sounder 
truth. But come in ; Cousin Helen is waiting 
in the sitting-room to see you, and afterwards 
you can go up to your room and take off your 
toggery. By the way. your cap and gown are 
wonderfully becoming to you — or rather you are 
becoming to your cap and gown — I know I 
should look a perfect fright in them." 

They went up the steps arm in arm and passed 
through the open window into the sitting-room. 
Mrs. Grayson was laying down on a low couch, 
and Bruce was stretched out on the rug near 
her, as if keeping guard ; and as soon as the dog 
saw Ruth, he expressed his delight by a pleased 
grin and began pounding the floor with his tail. 
Ruth stooped and patted him on the head as she 
passed him to speak to Mrs. Grayson. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 2S5 

A stream of light was flowing through the 
room, and a soft wind blew a sweet rush of scent 
from the white blossomed cherry trees in the 
garden and drove the delicate white flakes drift- 
ing through the golden air. 

Mrs. Grayson looked up with a bright glad- 
ness on her gentle face when the girls entered, 
and then sat up to greet them. Her welcome, 
as it always was to Ruth, was tender kindness 
itself, and while she talked to her, Agnes stood 
by with her hand resting on Ruth's shoulder, 
watching the varying expression of Mrs. Gray- 
son's face, knowing how tenderly she must love 
her. 

"How much better Mrs. Grayson is. " said 
Ruth, as the girls were on their way up-stairs. ' ' I 
had not expected to see her so much improved." 

"Yes, she looks better," Agnes said; "but 
she doesn't gain strength very fast. Cousin 
Ralph says she is to go away somewhere for a 
change, in a week or two, if she doesn't gft 
stronger — " she stopped suddenly. 

" There's the carriage now. and mamma and 
papa and Cousin Ralph have come back. I 
don't suppose Carl and Nell have come. They've 
gone by the Academy for you. But if you don't 
hurry, darling, we'll hardly have time to dress 
for tea. It was quite ready when you came. 
Let me help you carry your bundles, so you can 
manage your long black tog better. ' ' 

" Of course not." Ruth demurred laughingly, 
but the next moment Agnes had pulled them 
out of her reluctant arms, held them with a 
firm grasp, and with a triumphant look went on 
talking as unconcernedly as possible. 

Ruth came down-stairs early the next morn- 



286 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

ing before breakfast, and went into the library, 
which was still uninvaded, to answer a letter 
that she had received the day before. She raised 
the window and flung open the blinds to let in 
the light and allow the fresh, sweet air to fill the 
room. 

A morning sight of dewy flowers, white and 
gold and violet, on a sparkling lawn, and sing- 
ing birds flitting here and there, was spread out 
before her, while some far-away bells were ring- 
ing their slow chimes, the sound peculiarly in- 
tensified in the clear, moist atmosphere. A 
scent of roses flowering on the treUis floated in, 
while out there on the lawn in sheltered nooks 
the sunlight had scarcely touched the gloom — 
but all was bright and sweet and beautiful, a 
glowing melody without, answering to the happy 
melody within her own heart — a strange sweet 
happiness and bewildering hope which she could 
not realize. 

' ' I am wondering why you are up so early, ' ' 
said a voice close beside her, which made her 
turn suddenly to meet the adoring glance of her 
guardian. 

' ' You came in so quietly I never heard you, ' ' 
she said, 'smiling and flushing. " I came down 
to answer Mrs. Hawkins' letter which I received 
yesterday. I was afraid I should disturb Agnes 
if I wrote in the room while she was sleeping. 
But when I opened the window to let in the air 
and light, I could not resist the temptation to 
linger here just a little while and enjoy the deli- 
cious freshness and beauty of the morning scene. 
Isn't it lovely?" While she was talking she 
had put the letter in his hands. 

He glanced at the superscription, which was 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 287 

not familiar to him, then looked up into her face 
with a half-furtive scrutiny as if to observe the 
effect of his words, and handed the letter back 
to her. 

''In that case," he said, not answering her 
question, '' I'm afraid I am intruding then, and 
would better leave you so as to give you an op- 
portunity to answer your letter." Returned 
reluctantly as if he would go away, though he 
felt that he could not part from her now. 

The color deepened in her fair, sweet face, a 
faint smile crept to her lips, and she shook her 
head. 

' 'Oh, I can answer it some other time — this 
afternoon, perhaps, which will do just as well. 
I should like to see Mrs. Grayson, anyway, be- 
fore I finished writing it, as Mrs. Hawkins not 
only writes to know how she is, but wishes to 
know if she will meet her at Morehead this sum- 
mer, where she and Mr. Hawkins expect to 
spend several weeks. I suppose she writes this 
early so as to give Mrs. Grayson time to consider 
her proposition before she makes arrangements 
to go elsewhere to spend the summer. Perhaps 
you can tell me ? " then smiling — " Indeed you 
are not disturbing me." 

He turned back. " Then I will stay, since 
you do not forbid it. for I came here purposely 
to see and to talk with you. I have seen so 
little of you since our good friends came, even 
when you are at home — and your school duties, 
too, have made such a drain upon your time, and 
I fear to the utter disregard of your health." 
He looked at her keenly and tenderly for a mo- 
ment. 

He seemed to couie to a sudden resolve about 



288 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

what he had to say, and went on. smiHng; 
" Yes, I intend to order the last one of you off 
to the seashore in June, so you may write and 
say as much to Mrs. Hawkins. I beheve you 
need the change quite as much as Helen does. 
I shall not compromise or even argue the question 
with her as I did last summer, as to whether or 
not she go or reuiain I see it is best for you 
both to have the change, so opposition to my 
plans will amount to nothing.'" There was a 
flash of merrimeut in his handsome eyes. 

' ' I did not speak of this before, because I had 
not quite decided upon the exact location for the 
season, but Mrs, Hawkins' letter has turned the 
scale in favor of Morehead, and makes it sure 
that you go there. Besides the physical benefit 
which you will be sure to derive from the trip, 
and this can not be overestimated, there is the 
charming social and intellectual enjoyment in 
meeting with many of the most brilliant intel- 
lects of both sexes in the State ; and you will 
have an opportunity to attend the meetings of 
the Teachers' Assembly, that great body of edu- 
cators which is one of the largest in the United 
States, and which hold their annual meetings in 
their own handsome builiding down by the sea. 
The ability and influence of this vast educational 
organization is so comprehensive in its scope, 
and so deeply impressed upon current affairs, 
that these meetings have become an event of 
much more than ordinary or mere local impor- 
tance. Then there are other attractions to be 
found at Morehead — the fishing and sailing, the 
pure salt air, surf -bathing and the many places 
of historical interest near by to visit. Yes, I've 
quite decided upon Morehead as the place infi- 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 289 

nitely preferable to any other for this summer's 
outing. I shall take care to write to the propri- 
etor of the Atlantic Hotel in good time to have 
him reserve several of his most desirable rooms 
in advance for me, and I'm sure you'll find there 
every possible accommodation and comfort. 
Agnes, of course, will accompany you and Mrs. 
Grayson, and I believe she will enjoy the recrea- 
tions and amusements provided. Now tell me 
what do you think of my arrangement ? Will 
it be pleasant — is it agreeable to you ?" he asked 
in a kind tone. 

" Perfectly so, to me, and I think I may speak 
affirmatively for Agnes, too. I believe she will 
be delighted.'' 

He meditated for a little, then said: "Now 
there is something else I wish to talk to you 
about — something I came here specially to say 
to you." He hesitated again, and seemed to be 
bracing himself for some unpleasant ordeal, 
while Ruth's quick sympathy with him made 
her turn and look at him with an anxious 
searching glance. 

The sudden serious gravity of his face caused 
her own to grow slightly paler than before, 
though his voice was peculiarly kind and gentle. 
He took her hand in his and held it, uncon- 
sciously crushing it in his strong clasp. Her heart 
began to throb with a quick sense of pain, and 
she turned her troubled face again to the win- 
dow and gazed out on the wide-stretching lawn, 
but scarcely seeing the sunny landscape which 
a moment before had never seemed to glow more 
brightly, more beautifully. 

" Ruth, look at me and listen to what I have 
to say, ' ' he pleaded, gently turning her face to 



290 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

him, "and don't look so grieved. What I am 
going to say to you need not give you a moment's 
pain. There, let me see the old sweet smile play- 
ing again about your lips — that inimitable smile 
of yours, which will yet, in spite of yourself, 
pardon what I am about to say — make wiUing 
slaves of men. I was beginning to reproach my- 
self that I had driven it away from your sweet 
face." Then, after a little pause, he went on: 
" Euth. you remember the compact made be- 
tween us several months ago?" The question 
seemed to take her aback for a moment, but she 
looked up, her eyes wide open with wonder, and 
she said quickly: 

' ' Yes, certainly I remember. I could not for- 
get it so soon." 

" Well, for certain reasons, some things I said 
to you on that occasion, I wish to repeat again, 
because the time has come, or will come very 
soon, when you must leave the quiet and shel- 
tered seclusion of a student's life which you have 
led so long, and take your place in the world — 
that social world which will claim you, and in 
which your brilliant genius, your transcendent 
beauty, and attractive qualities of mind and 
heart, will ..asily make you a bright and shining 
leader. Ruth, you will be, as you know, the 
acknowledged queen in the charmed circle in 
which you will move, and you will justly win, 
too, the distinction accorded to you. Your com- 
pany will be eagerly sought by the distinguished, 
the worthy, and the brave, who will come to 
you, perhaps full of honors, bow themselves and 
lay their all at your feet. Do you know, there 
seems to be a sort of penalty for being surpass- 
ingly beautiful, and it has often been asserted 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 291 

that very few women who have become famous 
by their beauty have lived to a mature age of 
reasonable content and happiness. However this 
may be, I think we need beauty just as truly as 
we need truth, for it is as much a part of our 
lives, and as much a quality of divinity as right- 
eousness. " He remained silent a moment, and 
gave her another keen glance before he said: 
" Ruth, remember I do not bind you by promise 
or outward token to be my wife. But God grant, 
darling, that you may not make the fatal mis- 
take of marrying a man you do not love, or your 
loving heart will soon be broken and you will 
wilt away like a tender flower plucked by rude 
hands."' 

Another moment he bent his head, and made 
a motion to turn away. Something so like a 
moan escaped him and shook his strong frame 
that it wrung her heart. 

Raising her hand she laid it lightly, and it 
seemed unconsciously, upon his arm. This first 
shy caress of hers, the first which she had ever 
given him, was one of the deepest love and sym- 
pathy, and he so understood it. 



292 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 



CHAPTER XXIX. 

One bright morning Carl, Ruth and Agnes, 
with Virgil as coachman, made a tour about the 
town, with the special view of visiting the Mu- 
seum, which was always an object of interest to 
strangers. 

The carriage stopped before a plain, brick build- 
ing, with a tiled roof — a building whose antiq- 
uity and association made it specially interest- 
ing to visitors. 

They dismounted and went in and found many 
things of great interest and value — things which 
represented the life and times of the first colo- 
nists of the old Moravian town ; and there were 
other relics of equal interest and value from for- 
eign shores, donated by foreign missionaries. 
Here were large show-cases filled with minerals 
of the country, petrifications and precious stones ; 
and many from all over the world, were arranged 
along the walls. Here, cases of shells of every 
known variety; large collections of butterflies; 
reptiles in alcohol; stuffed birds; anaconda; alli- 
gator and crocodile ; sea turtle ; musk-deer. Here 
varieties of woods; varieties of birds' eggs, in- 
cluding ostrich; specimens of coral; sea -weed; 
Indian relics; military weapons of Revolutionary 
and Confederate times were found also. Then 
there were a large number of old books — among 
them a German Bible, leather back and brass 
bound, printed in 1569. A cream-colored glazed 
tile stove, decorated with leaves, six feet high, 
with claw legs, stood on one side of the princi- 
pal room — there were two apartments in the 
building. The first piano brought to the Mora- 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 293 

vian town occupied a prominent position ; once 
belonging to the old Moravian tavern, and used 
during General VV' ashington's visit, for his enter- 
taininent. Here was an odd old instrument for 
taking profiles, before the days of Daguerre; 
a wooden foot stove, with heater, used in travel- 
ing ; a small loom for weaving tape for domestic 
use by the ladies ; reels of different kinds ; flax 
wheels where was spun the beautiful linen kept 
as heirlooms in the Moravian families ; German 
traveling baskets, used by the first settlers ; old 
clock from the Sisters' House; leather buckets 
of the first fire engine ; stamps for printing cal- 
ico : bottles and pitchers of china and glassware ; 
ship trunks ; first street lamp used in the Mora- 
vian town in 1789: a parchment covered Bible; 
high-backed chairs, similar to the one donated 
by the Brethren to the North Carolina room at 
Mt. Vernon ; and many other things were in the 
general collection. Here was an Esquimo case ; 
a Chinese corner, with idol, lacquered ware, tea 
chests and all kinds of their work ; a large col- 
lection of valuable coins from all countries, and 
a beautiful exhibit of Colonial and Continental 
State and United States currency. One of these 
was curious: 

" Two Pence. 
" We, or either of us, promise to pay Two Pence 
on demand. 

" Oct. 22, 1803. 
' ' Conrad Kaiser. ' ' 

This was a check for change in a store. One 
collection was of special interest — the traveling 
outfit of the Moravians who came from Penn- 
sylvania and settled in Bethabara, consisting of 



294 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

a small iron pot, pewter plates and cups, tea- 
pot, coffee-pot, gallon, quart, pint and gill meas- 
ures, lard- oil lamp, all made of the same metal, 
and occupied one corner alone. 

Above were arranged specimens of the early 
pottery — the large dish which was the old pot- 
tery sign, decorated in colors, brown, green and 
yellow — 1773 being most prominent. Here, too, 
were specimens of tableware, ornaments for 
mantels, moulds for pewter plates, as everything 
practical and ornamental was made at the pot- 
tery that could be made in clay. Around the 
room were framed certificates of the skill of their 
early workmen brought from Europe, as, accord- 
ing to the old custom, no man was allowed to 
ply his trade without such a certificate. Oil 
paintings, donated by citizens, brought over with 
their household treasures ; some of them said to 
have been done by some of the old masters — at 
any rate they were very fine. 

Here was a steel print of Count Zinzendorf and 
his wife Erdmuth Dorathea ; steel engravings of 
Amos Comenius, done before his death in 167o; 
Christian David, and others, whose names have 
been mentioned in a sketch of the Moravians ; 
noted Bishops and Brethren, amongst them Peter 
Boehler, the devoted Moravian in whose com- 
pany John Wesley, founder of the Methodists, 
crossed the ocean during his voyage to America, 
and to whom he declared he owed his conversion. 
The high pulpit, with sounding-board above, 
brass candlesticks and chandeliers used in the 
Moravian Church when first built in 1800, were 
preserved here intact ; and many things too nu- 
merous to mention. 

When they had taken their seats in the car- 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 295 

riage and were driving up Main Street, through 
the almost silent city — for the roar and bustle of 
Winston scarcely reached the old Moravian 
town — Carl turned to Agnes and asked, 

" Well, have you been repaid for your time 
and trouble ? Are you much disappointed in the 
Museum ? ' " 

"Not in the least. I have been most dehght- 
fully entertained looking at those old relics. I 
had no dream you had such things here — and 
dear me, just to think what a place for relic 
hunters. I think they must nearly go wild to get 
hold of many of those things there. Do many 
people know about them, outside of the city ? '' 

"• A poi'tion of those things was taken to the 
State Exposition at Raleigh, in 1884,'' said Ruth, 
'' with the exhibit of fancy work and art from 
the Academy during the eighty years of its 
establishmeut, at that time, together with the 
county exhibit carefully collected, and this county 
gained the one hundred dollar premium offered 
for the finest county exhibit in North Carolina. 
I have visited the Museum several times; and I 
always find something interesting each time- 
something I had not seen before. 

" I'd like to have those eggs and butterflies," 
said Nellie, "and some of those stuffed birds; 
but those snakes^ — ^ugh ! I don't want to see them 
any more. I'm afraid I'll dream about them to- 
night." 

' ' Where to now, please, Mr. Carl ? " " Virgil 
asked, glancing sidewise over his shoulder, and 
keeping an eye on the gamesome horses. He 
slackened their pace just a little. 

Carl took out his watch. '' Where do you and 
Ruth wish to go now?" he asked, looking at 
Agnes, then at Ruth. 



296 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 



a 



Wherever Agnes proposes, ' ■ said Euth. "I'm 
out for her special pleasure to-day, so have no 
preference, or any suggestions to make or offer." 

" Will we have time to visit one of the facto- 
ries — one of those large plug factories — before 
noon?" 

' ' Yes, ample time. ' ' 

' ' Then let us go to one of these first, and after- 
guards we can go to one of the warehouses where 
the tobacco is sold. I have the greatest curiosity 
to see both." 

" Virgil, drive to Mr, Raynor's factory. R. J." 
Then he turned to Agnes again. " Our tobacco 
factories are no doll houses, I assure you. The 
one we are going to now is one of the largest 
plug factories south of Baltimore, and does an 
extensive business. The sales, I am told, extend 
all over the South, and as far north as Pennsyl- 
vania, and west as far as St. Louis. The build- 
ing, too, you will see when we get there, is a 
splendid structure, has all the modern improve- 
ments, and is built almost entirely fireproof. ' ' 

' ' I should like to know, as a matter of abstract 
curiosity, you know," Agnes said, but with evi- 
dently genuine interest, ' ' how many workmen 
these factories employ, and if they are all col- 
ored — I mean the majorityof them." 

" They generally employ from two to eight 
hundred hands each — the greater number being 
negroes, who prefer to work in crowds, " said 
Carl, in an instructive tone. " Now is there any- 
thing else you wish to know ? I'll do my Level 
Best " (emphasizing Level Best) " to give you any 
information you may desire. I am glad to see 
vou so interested in some of our great enter- 
prises, and- 



j) 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 297 

'' No, no, that will do," she interrupted, with 
a characteristic wave of her hand. " What's the 
use ? We'll soon be there now, and I can see for 
myself. ' ' 

" We must try to gain a little time and get a 
bird's-eye-view of the city from the observa- 
tory,'' said Ruth. '' I think we may do this if 
we'll not spend too much time inspecting the 
different departments. ' ' She looked at Carl for 
a suggestion. 

"I don't know," he answered reflectively, 
" but I dare say we'll take the time anyway." 

" Of course we will," said Agnes, decisively. 
" We must see all there's to be seen, good, bad 
and indifferent." 

" That settles it," laughed Carl; " you know 
when a 'woman will,' and so on — but here we 
are." 

A brisk drive had soon brought them to their 
destination, and when the carriage halted and 
Carl helped them out, he stopped to tell Virgil 
to call for them at the expiration of an hour, 
and then led the way into the factory. They 
entered a large, square hall- way, on the left of 
which was the office and private receiving-room 
of the proprietor, where Carl went at once to as- 
certain if they could be admitted into the various 
departments and shown over the building. 

In a few minutes he returned, accompanied by 
a tall, fair-haired man, about thirty-five, with a 
blonde moustache, and whom Carl introduced as 
Mr. Kyle. In tne absence of the proprietor, Mr. 
Kyle had courteously offered to show them 
through the factory. 

" I don't suppose we'll have time to see every- 
thing," said Agnes, "but merely get a glimpse." 

20 



298 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

' ' Hardly more than that on so short a visit, ' ' 
returned Mr. Kyle. '' But you can form some 
general idea how the work is carried on.'' 

Then he opened a large double door, behind 
which the sound of singing and the monotonous 
thumps of blows from the workmen's mallets 
which had sounded so distant in the hall, now 
came nearer and nearer. In the center of the im- 
mense room some men were talking and examin- 
ing a peculiar kind of machine, the like of which 
Euth and Agnes had never seen before, but 
w^hich Mr. Kyle explained to them was a casing 
machine, telling them how and for what pur- 
pose it was to be used when put in place. 

Colored men and women sat in chairs along 
the sides of this room, and opened leaves of 
tobacco carefully, examined it closely, and then 
put each kind in piles (between stakes) of like 
variety. 

' ' This is called classing tobacco, * ' Mr. Kyle 
explained, as they sauntered along, pausing oc- 
casionally to watch the busy workers ; ' ' and 
those who work at this must be expert enough 
to distinguish the difference in each leaf, and be 
able to place it in its proper position. From here 
it is taken to the casing room, where it is spread 
upon a large platform and sprinkled with a solu- 
tion of licorice and granulated sugar, with a 
flavoring of dried peaches, or other preferred fla- 
vor, then tossed about and shaken together until 
perfectly distributed among the mass. After 
being thoroughly cased, it is thrown through 
trap-doors into the rolling-room below. The 
heat in the casing-room is very great, as the huge 
kettles, holding as much as fifty gallons of the 
mixture, have to be kept boiling by steam all the 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 299 

time, and it must go on the tobacco while it is 
warm enough to spread.'' 

They stood silent a moment, watching the 
workers, who kept their tongues wagging to the 
plying of their nimble fingers as they spread out 
the golden leaves. The largest leaves were re- 
served for wrappers for the plug tobacco. As 
they passed on to the rolling- room, Carl bowed 
right and left to those among the workmen 
whom he recognized, and stopped every now and 
then to make some friendly remark, as v.^as his 
custom. 

The rolling- room presented a scene not easily 
forgotten. Work benches eight and ten feet in 
length, and two and a half or three feet wide, 
were placed in rows throughout the apartment. 
These benches had two sides, generally two for 
each roller, who worked on the opposite side of 
the bench. The stemmers deftly stripped the leaf 
from the stem and passed it over to the roller, 
who spread out three or four leaves together, and 
by a dexterous movement shaped it in form of 
a plug, cut off the ragged end by a tobacco cut- 
ter — a small knife worked by lever — put on the 
wrapper, weighed it on a small scale which stood 
to the right of his bench, and then it was taken 
to the receiver, who stood at a table on the side 
of the same room, where it was again weighed 
that each lump might be uniformly perfect. 

Mr. Kyle carefully explained everything which 
they did not understand. Ruth was silent and 
listened, but Agnes was bright and responding, 
and laughed and chatted, asking the most absurd 
questions, and enjoying everything with the en- 
ergy and enthusiasm of a child. 

"Don't you remember. Agnes, '" Carl said. 



300 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

turning to her, " when you first came, NeUie's 
showing you several large cardboards with bits 
of tin in different shapes and colors pasted or 
clamped upon them, and a box of bright colored 
paper pictures — such names as ' Maud MuUer, ' 
'Wild Turkey,' ' First Fruit, ' 'Spanker,' 'Ada 
Bryan, ' ' Old Rabbit Gum, ' ' Old Rover, ' ' Big 
Auger,' 'Elegant,' 'Lucille,' 'Ben Hur, ' 'Golden 
Shpper,' 'Old Bob,' ' Ellen Fisher,' 'B. B. Best,' 
' Old Oaken Bucket, ' ' Waverly, ' ' Top, ' ' Level 
Best,' ' R. J. R.,' ' Rich and Waxy,' ' Stars and 
Bars,' ' Red Eye,' ' Red Seal,' ' Blue Stocking,' 
' Clear Stone,' ' Henry Grady,' and — " 

Agnes playfully threw her hands up and held 
them over her ears. " Do spare us, and don't, for 
my sake, go through the whole catalogue now.' 

The carriage next stopped in the midst of a 
tangle of drays, carriages and covered wagons, 
standing before an immense brick building, 
one portion of which was occupied by at least 
eighty-five covered wagons and teams, and the 
other i^ortion, which was cleanly swept, by long 
rovv^s of tobacco, placed in piles with tags stuck 
on the end of a small stick, like so many little 
flags — these bearing the number of pounds in 
each pile and the farmer's name. 

This much iVgnes and Ruth could see through 
the broad open doorway, and when they got 
down and went in, they had a good view of the 
scene upon the floor, which was interesting and 
exciting beyond description. 

It was as novel a sight to Ruth as to Agnes, 
for, notwithstanding she had been in the city so 
long, and it was not an unusual thing for ladies 
to visit the great warehouses to witness a 
" break," yet Ruth, for no particular reason, had 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 301 

ever availed herself of the opportunity, and so 
this was a new phase of the city's life to her 
altogether — a phase of busy life she had never 
conceived of, and she found it a very exciting one. 

The stentorian voice of the auctioneer rose 
above every other sound as he passed from pile 
to pile of tobacco, bidding it off to the manufac- 
turers and dealers who followed him in crowds, 
while the farmers, with anxious faces, watched 
eagerly the progress of the sale, and groups of 
disinterested people looked on. 

" Do you know what the auctioneer is saying. 
Cousin Agnes?" asked Nellie, raising her voice 
so as to make herself heard. '' Can you under- 
stand a single word ? ' ' 

" No, it is all Sanscrit to me," she said, shak- 
ing her head. Agnes stood a moment in silence, 
then turned to Carl and asked : 

" When the tobacco is sold and taken from the 
warehouse where is it carried '? ' ' 

He pointed to a number of drays standing be- 
fore the open door, upon which were stacked a 
pile of oak split baskets of peculiar shape, about 
four feet square and four inches deep. 

' ' The tobacco is taken to the factories on those 
baskets. Sometimes as much as five to eight 
hundred pounds are piled on a basket and hauled 
on the drays, one basket above another until the 
load is complete. When received in the factory, 
it is hung separately on racks, sometimes five 
deep, reaching from floor to ceiling, where it is 
allowed to dry thoroughly. ^Tou saw how it is 
managed at Mr. Eaynor's factory '? " 

' ' Yes, I remember, ' ' returned Agnes — then 
hurriedly, ' ' Come, let us be going ; the odor of 
the tobacco sickens me." 



302 UNDER GOLDEN RKIES : OR. 



CHAPTER XXX. 

" nood-morning. True to time," said Carl, 
greeting Agnes and Ruth as they entered the 
breakfast -room very early the next morning, 
both prepared to attend the sunrise Easter ser- 
vice at the Moravian church. He drew two chairs 
out from the table, on either side of him. for 
them to sit down. 

" Nell and I have breakfasted, but we'll wait 
for you two. Are you quite sure, little coz, that 
you feel equal to going? '' he asked, turning to 
Agnes. " Nerves all right, I suppose ? '' 

" Oh, yes, quite sure. I never felt better. Do 
I look like an invalid?" she laughed, turning 
her face glowing with life, sparkle and happi- 
ness full upon him. 

"Not a bit of it— on the contrary, you look 
unusuallv bright and radiant; positively beau- 
tiful." 

" Thanks. I wasn't angling for a compliment. 
I think when you visited Blarney Castle in the 
Emerald Isle, you must have kissed the Blarney 
Stone," she said, and gayly repeated: 



" There is a stone there 
That whoever kisses 
Oh, he never misses 
To grow eloquent—" 

Carl laughed. Yes, I did, indeed, kiss the iden- 
tical stone, the one Sir Walter Scott saluted, on 
the northeast angle of the tower, and which 
bears the date 1703. Since which time I've been 
' a clever spouter,' or ' an out and outer.' " 

"To be left alone, ' Agnes hastily concluded 
for him; " so I'U leav^e you alone." 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 303 

Then Nellie diverted her attention. 

" YoQ Uttle wretch, Nell. How in the world 
did yon manage to get up so early ? I thought 
you were in bed and sound asleep. ' ' 

" Oh, Julia woke me when she woke you and 
Cousin Rath. I wanted to hear the horns, but 
I didn't." 

'" What horns ? What are you talking about '?" 

" Why don't you know the horns the Mora- 
vians blow at the corners of the streets every 
Easter morning, about three o'clock ? But they 
only blow them in Salem, and I don't think we 
are near enough to hear them." 

Carl explained the Moravian custom which 
Nellie alluded to, and Agnes said: 

" Well, I am really sorry I didn't hear them. 
Why didn't you have me up in time, and I could 
have gone somewhere where I could have heard. ' ' 

' ' I think it was raining a little about that 
hour," said Carl. 

''Raining! Well, is it now?" she asked in 
dismay. 

" No, but it's real cloudy. Cousin Agnes, and 
looks as if it were going to pour down rain every 
minute," said Nellie. 

" Surely not. That's too provoking! " Agnes 
rose, went to the window and looked out, then 
came back, frowning a little. 

"• I do ])elieve it is going to rain. " What shall 
we do — go now, or wait and see if the weather 
means to settle the question for us ? " 

" We'll go now. I don't think it is going to 
rain.'' said Carl, " and even if it does there'll be 
service in the church, which is waterproof, and 
no danger of our getting a drenching." 

Ruth had risen from the table and was draw- 
ing on her gloves. 



304 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 



a 



If we are ready to go, ' ' she said, ' ' we would 
better be starting. I believe we are late already. ' " 

VA^hen they reached the Square in the old his- 
torical town, an air of disoccupatiou yet per- 
vaded it, and it was as still as death. The weird 
moonUght seemed to bring out more vividly and 
picturesquely the antiquity of the low gabled 
houses by which it was flanked on the right and 
left. 

They drove to the upper part on the left of 
the Square, and got out in front of the Mora- 
vian church, facing a short narrow street, where 
the impressive services were to be held. As 
yet but few persons had gathered, but a blue- 
coated policeman moved mechanically up and 
down the space before the church, through the 
many paned windows of which struggled a dim, 
wavering light. Some children very quietly sat 
upon the stone steps of the little arch-covered 
stoop jutting out from the broad portal of the 
edifice, and from which arch swung a large globe 
lantern brightly lighted. 

As the clock in the church gable struck five 
and the bell in the steeple emphasized the hour, 
the people began to gather, not by twos or threes 
or even by dozens at a time, but by hundreds, 
until all available standing room in front and on 
either side of the church was a dense mass of 
breathing humanity. But there was no impa- 
tient jostling, no disturbing sound, and even 
low-whispered talking for the time was hushed; 
but over all there was a holy expectancy — that 
kind of restraint which the remembrance of the 
occasion had put upon every worshipper present, 
and which seemed to uplift the soul into that 
many-toned peace which one finds in the spiritual 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 305 

atmosphere where one breathes naught but 
drauglits of pure love. 

When, half an hoar later, the door of the 
church opened and the musicians with their 
brass instruments came silently down the steps 
and took their positions in front, near the en- 
trance way, there was a momentary hum and 
stir, and then amid the solemn hush which fol- 
lowed, that grand and consecrated man of God, 
the revered pastor of the church, came out and 
stood on the little stoop beneath the glowing 
lamp, facing the vast audience. 

Then he read in a voice of pathetic cadence the 
joyous message, " Christ is risen from the dead," 
and a thrill of ecstacy, mingled with gratitude 
and love, struck through the fragrant air, and 
seemed to find a responsive echo of thankgsiving 
in every gladsome heart. With rapt attention 
thousands of souls listened with reverent, up- 
turned faces to catch every word of the sweet, 
glad tidings of Him who gave His life as a ran- 
som for al), as, with the holy passion vibrant in 
his voice, it fell from the lips of the beloved 
pastor. 

After the choir had sung, with a delicious 
strain of harmony, the beautiful anthem that 
had been chosen to fittingly commemorate the 
most significant day of the Christian year, a mo - 
ment's quiet again fell over the expectant mul- 
titude. 

Then the vast assembly noiselessly and rapidly 
formed in line, and headed by the band of mu- 
sicians rendering sweet music, marched four 
abreast to the Moravian graveyard, two blocks 
beyond the church. 

Conspicuous among the great crowd were over 



306 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

two hundred cadets and officers in full uniform, 
from the Military School, whose graceful bearing 
and regular tramp, tramp, tramp on the hard 
pavement lent a nameless charm to the immense 
procession. 

Down the lovely cedar-bordered avenue the 
orderly throng passed and entered the large gate- 
way, iDearing over its white arched entrance in 
gilt letters the inscription, ' ' I Am the Eesurrec- 
tion and the Life." 

Without noise or confusion the multitude filed 
in and congregated along the broad sanded walk, 
that gleamed snow-white amongst the green 
graves lying side by side, each with its little 
white marble tablet resting prone upon the head 
of the grave, and eac?h with its exquisite floral 
design placed there the previous day by gentle, 
loving hands. 

There could scarcely be imagined a more beau- 
tiful and impressive ceremony in the early morn- 
ing than this Easter service, with its sweet, 
sacred music from a band of many instruments 
accompanying the singing of beautiful anthems 
in tones of subdued passionate expression. 

The deep silence, the vivid ideality of the place 
and hour, the waiting audience and the solemn 
service, drew the thoughts away from earth and 
all the natural longings and aspirations of this 
life to the divine, in spirit waves that seemed to 
break fresh out of the crystal sea of life, and roll 
onward and upward till they struck upon the 
foot-stool of the listening Lord. 

The morning was balmy and hazy, and pure 
white clouds, like soft filmy veils, trailed them- 
selves across the violet blue sky, now hiding, 
now revealing the blue canopy, and at last grow- 



IK THE NEW ELDORADO. 307 

ing dim and fading out altogether into ethereal 
nothingness. Ruth turned to Agnes and whis- 
pered : 

"Isn't it all so beautiful and grand ? and it 
brings so vividly to my mind the last great day 
when ' a great multitude, which no man can 
number, and all nations and kindreds, and peo- 
ple and tongues, will stand before the throne and 
before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and 
palms in their hands.' Oh, how 1 wish that 
everyone could witness this scene. I am sure 
they would never forget it. ' " 

Agnes did not move or answer, but stood like 
one dreaming a beautiful dream — listening and 
yet not hstening. Presently she turned and 
looked at Ruth, as if to speak to her, but she 
simply smiled and touched Carl on the sleeve 
and his eyes followed the direction of hers. 

Ruth's face was radiant, her whole soul seemed 
to be shining in her trembling eyes, for, as she 
stood there amidst that dense throng in the soft, 
lush morn, the melodious, far-reaching voice of 
the pastor falling upon her attentive ear, the 
strange scene awed and thrilled her and she 
seemed lifted up above herself, and then, some- 
how, she felt that deep longing — that quenchless 
curiosity, that dauntless inquiry to look into the 
unseen world beyond — a world of eternal light 
peopled with beautiful and radiant beings. The 
serene repose of her lovely face and the abstrac- 
tion of her look told that, for the moment, 
she was lost in blissful unconsciousness, and that 
the solemnity of the scene had strangely wrought 
upon her feelings. To her — as she had said to 
Agnes — in sunny vividness appeared the vision 
of another day^ — glorious, grand, triumphant — 



308 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; QR, 

the Final Judgment, when the silent graves must 
give up their long-sleeping dead, and in newness 
of life come forth to appear before the awful tri- 
bunal of the Great Judge, who proclaimed to all 
the world nearly two thousand years ago, " I am 
the resurrection and the life." 

Suddenly the blended sound of many voices 
singing the Gloria Excelsis recalled her wander- 
ing thoughts to the scene about her. 

Day was dawning, and in the eastern sky a 
soft, amber glow was spreading itself above a 
long dark bank of purple clouds, which soon 
paled and faded out, leaving only a rosy glow. 
Just then the flashing sunbeams sparkled 
through the budding, dew-laden branches of 
the distant forest. Every tree, to the tips of 
the slender twigs, stood out in a blaze of glory. 

Overhead the cedar branches, giving out that 
mysterious rustling sound peculiar to them, bent 
in long graceful curves, and when the soft per- 
fumed breeze swayed their green plumage, myr- 
iads of crystal drops fell from them and jew- 
elled the vine-covered graves beneath. Flashing 
and glittering in the resplendent glory, the King 
of day, slowly but triumphantly, rose above the 
distant tree-tops just as the beautiful and im- 
pressive service came to an end. All the fair, 
shimmering world seemd brightening into greater 
and greater loveliness, Ruth was thinking, when 
at that moment, as quietly and orderly as the 
vast multitude had gathered, the long procession 
rapidly marshalled into line, and as silently and 
solemnly wended its way out of ' " the sacred city 
of the dead ' ' and dispersed, each carrying with 
him, one could but hope, a grateful melody of 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 309 

joy and love in his heart and the blessed assur- 
ance, '• I know that my Redeemer liveth." 

Carl, Agnes and Ruth made no motion to join 
or follow the silent procession as it passed out- 
side the enclosure, but lingered behind as many 
others had done to admire the floral decorations 
and enjoy a little longer the cool restfulness and 
the stillness and beauty of the place. 

Relieved of the deep sense of awe and solem- 
nity which had held them for the last hour, they 
sauntered up and do\vn the white-sanded aisles 
amongst the graves, admiring the beautiful flow^- 
ers — for gentle hands had brought the fairest 
and the best — and reading the epitaphs on the 
slabs — everyone alike — at the head of the graves. 
Many of the little square tablets, those immedi- 
ately underneath the venerable cedars, were 
hoary with age, and so weather-stained that the 
dates and names of the silent tenants were almost 
entirely effaced. 

As the rosy flush of morn deepened, there 
was imparted to this sacred spot of rare loveli- 
ness, a beauty indescribable, and the golden 
gleam of light which filtered dow^n through the 
lofty dome of cedars seemed to come from the 
very gates of Paradise, revealing glimpses far 
inward. 

In their walk they passed an elderly lady 
dressed in heavy mourning, kneeling beside a 
freshly turfed mound tenderly arranging some 
flowers in a stone vase. Ruth watched her a 
moment, her eyes filling with sympathetic tears, 
and when .they had gone a little way she turned 
to Agnes and said: 

" Oh, how my heart goes out to that poor, 
grief-stricken woman. I feel as if I want to go 



310 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

to her, and try to comfort her; and yet, I know 
there is but One that can do that in an hour hke 
this. ' ' Then, after a httle pause, ' ' Do you 
know, I have sometimes thought if our human 
ears were not so deaf, or perhaps, if we could 
hush the loud death-knell tolling in our hearts, 
over the new-made grave of the loved one, we 
might hear the joy-bells of heaven ringing down- 
ward paens of victory as angel fingers held the 
pearly gates ajar for a ransomed soul to enter." 

Agnes did not answer, but she strolled on 
silently until they had reached the eastern boun- 
dary of the graveyard and then paused, and, 
while they stood talking they saw Nellie com- 
ing toward them, holding by the hand a tall 
bright-eyed, sweet-faced lady who seemed to fol- 
low her protestingly. 

"Cousin Ruth I Cousin Ruth!" cried Nellie, 
with an air of triumph as she came up, " here is 
Miss Lula. I heard you say yesterday you wanted 
to see her about something — I don't know what 
— but I saw her out there." she turned round 
describing the place with a wave of her hand. 
" and so I brought her to see you. Now you can 
tell her what you want." 

Ruth laughed quietly, and after greeting the 
lady cordially and making some excuses for Nel- 
lie's impetuosity, she turned and introduced her 
to Agnes and Carl as Miss Lula Hastings. 

" I have met Miss Hastings before,'" said Carl, 
" but it was several years ago and I suppose she 
has forgotten me. I am very happy to renew 
my acquaintance with you. Miss Hastings," he 
added gallantly, still holding his hat in his hand. 

" Thank you. " Then they talked of their for- 
mer acquaintance a little, finding they had many 
friends in common, and then Carl said: 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 31 1 

" We were just debating, when you came up, 
Miss Hastings, whether or not we should go over 
to Woodland Cemetery or return home. ' ' 

" If you are going to see the decorations," she 
said, '• I think you will see them at their best 
this morning — before the sun has spoiled them. 
They are handsomer this Easter than I have ever 
seen them." 

'' Shall we go, or are you all too tired?" he 
asked, looking significantly at Agnes. 

'' No, no, we are not a bit tired. Do let's go, 
Carl," implored Nellie, speaking for herself and 
the others, " I am just crazy to go." 

Ruth looked inclined to demur, but Agnes 
said, " I think we may go for a little while. It 
is early yet, and I should like to see the decora- 
tions, too. What time is it ? " 

Carl took out his watch, sprung back the 
jewelled hd, and bent the crystal face to her 
gaze. 

"Just seven o'clock," she said, with a ques- 
tioning glance at Ruth. 

" Oh, yes, we'll have plenty of time," she 
said, '' if you care to go. But we mustn't stay 
too long. We must get back in time to attend 
service. I think you said 3^ou wished to go some- 
where to-day. ■ ' 

" Well, it is entirely as you two shall decide 
about going to the Cemetery, ' ' said Carl, replac- 
ing his hat. 

' ' Go, go, ' ' cried Nellie, clutching him by the 
hand. '' Do please let's go. Carl." 

"Miss Hastings, will 3''ou come with us?" 
Agnes asked, turning to her, having decided 
within herself that they would go. " We shall 
be pleased to have you. ' ' 



312 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 



a 



Yes, won't you come ?" Ruth and Carl both 
added, the former pleadingly. 

" Thank you. It is very kind of you, but I 
can't go this morning; I'm afraid I've detained 
you already, but Nellie said you wished to ask 
me something special " — looking at Ruth — " and 
she would not allow me to escape until I had 
seen you." 

Nellie gave her a shy look, smiling. 

' ' It is nothing so very important, Miss Lula, ' ' 
said Ruth pleasantly, " and I will speak with you 
about it when I return to the Academy on 
Tuesday." 

" Very well. Now I will wish you good- 
morning. ' ' She bowed to them and turned to 
leave, when Carl said : 

' ' Please allow me to accompany you. Miss 
Hastings, as far as our way leads together. I 
shall have to see our driver, who is waiting near 
the Square, and tell him to come for us at the 
Cemetery. If you will excuse me" — to Agnes 
and Ruth — ''I'll not keep you waiting long." 
As soon as they were out of sight Agnes turned 
to Ruth and asked : 

" Who is your friend Miss Hastings " 

' ' She is a very charming and admirable young 
lady who was formerly a pupil at the Academy, 
but now teaches there, and also lives in this city. 
She is a most practicable, sensible girl, and I be- 
lieve everybody loves her." 

" I thought as much," said Agnes. " She has 
agreeable manners, and a very sweet and attrac- 
tive face — and one's face, as a rule, I believe, is 
quite a correct index to one's character. We 
generally judge by what we see— don't you ? " 

" Yes, oftener than I should," she said hesita- 
tingly, ' ' for outward appearances are sometimes 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 313 

deceptive, misleading, and the rule of judging 
people and things by just what we see is by no 
means infallible. But come, let us get out of 
this sunshine. We can wait for Carl under those 
trees yonder. I think it would have been wise 
in us if we had brought our parasols. ' ' 

When they had reached the group of trees in- 
dicated, they stood silent a moment looking 
about them. 

''This place is exquisitely beautiful," said 
Agnes, " and I wonder some poet doesn't cele- 
brate it in verse. ' ' 

"■ So one poet has — Mr. John Henry Boner, a 
native of this town, but now a well-known poet 
and literary writer of New York City. He has 
written some beautiful lines entitled, ' How oft 
I've trod that shadowy way, ' and I will show 
them to you sometime. I have them in my scrap- 
book. I know several of the verses and will re- 
peat them to you if you wish me. You may 
appreciate them more by hearing them on or 
near the spot about which they were written." 

" Please do, and I will follow you as you recite 
them." 

Then Ruth repeated, very low and sweetly, 
several of the verses of that little gem from Mr. 
Boner's gifted pen, which are as follows: 

. "Full many a peaceful place I've seen, 
But the most restful spot I know 
Is one where thick dark cedars grow 
In an old graveyard cool and green. 

The way to the sequestered f>lace 
Is arched with boughs of that sad tree. 
And there the trivial steps of glee 

Must sober to a pensive pace. 

How oft I've trod that shadowy Avay 
In bygone years — sometimes while yet 
The grass with morning dew was wet 
21 And sometimes at the close of day." 



314 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 



CHAPTER XXXI. 

Just then Carl returned, walking briskly, his 
face flushed. 

" Well, I'm back again,'' he said, taking off 
his hat and running his fingers through his hair. 

'' I sent Virgil round with the carriage, and 
he'll wait for us at the upper gate of the ceme- 
tery. I think we'll need fans and parasols be- 
fore we get back." 

" And the idea of mamma insisting on my 
bringing a wrap," said Agnes; "I knew I 
shouldn't need it." 

They turned to the left, leaving the beautiful 
Moravian graveyard behijid them, and went 
along a lonely winding walk which swerved 
downward and then swept gracefully upward 
around a deep ravine, filled with tangled vine, 
primeval undergrowth and tall trees whose uq- 
pruned branches had begun to thrill and expand 
under the renewal of the forces of nature. And 
down in the sheltered depths of the ravine where 
the wind of centuries had held their tryst, 
amongst the beautiful and sweet freshness, the 
gurgling of a hidden stream made a musical stir 
which was borne out on the budding fragrance 
of the spring air. There was a rustle, and sud- 
denly a gray squirrel raced over the brown leaves, 
ran up a tall tree, and disappeared. To the left 
a narrow pathway, seemingly but little used, led 
up the hillside to a clump of stunted cedars, 
where a few white slabs were sharply defined 
against their evergreen foliage. 

"There is the strangers' burying-ground, " 
said Carl, making a quick gesture with his hand 
as they passed it. " It is a lonely spot." 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 315 

"Yes, it looks neglected and ghost-like 
enough," returned Ruth. " Indeed, one of the 
most painful things to me is to think how soon 
we are forgotten after we are dead. Compara- 
tively so few live in the hearts or memory of the 
world and sometimes of their friends, after they 
have passed off the stage of life. Only those — 
the few it seems that have found the way to 
peace and rest and fullness of being along the 
path of service. But if we can truthfully echo 
the sentiment of Paracelsus, who as he dies ex- 
claims, 

' I press God's lamp close to my breast; its splendor soon 
or late, 
Will pierce the gloom: I shall emerge one day,' 

perhaps we should be willing to die, content to 
be forgotten even by those we love best." 

"I doa't know," said Carl skeptically; "I 
think I should like to be remembered always — 
as long as the great laws of life and death and 
fate are not suspended. Somehow, I can't help 
wishing to perpteuate my name — my memory, 
' adown the centuries of coming years.' " 

' ' Then you would better be up and doing, 
young man," laughed Agnes, laying her hand 
playfully on his arm, " and with your spotless 
reputation and good name to start with, carve 
for youself an enduring name in the Temple of 
Fame, and though ' Fame is smoke,' ' Its fumes 
are frankincense to human thoughts,' so says 
Byron. Nothing is impossible to him who wills, 
you know. One's desires are often the precur- 
sors of the things which one is capable of per- 
forming, and an intense anticipation cf them 
transforms possibility into reality. Don't you 
think so ? You may have to wait, perhaps, for 



316 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

half a century before winning the admiring 
plaudits of mankind, but then just think of the 
numbers of great men who toiled and struggled 
on in obscurity for years, full five, i^erhaps six, 
decades before the world ever heard of them. 
Yes, your time, too, may come, and before your 
hair is silvered with age. Just consider yourself 
amply sufficient for the deed you undertake, and 
you will certainly succeed." 

Carl stopped and looked at her, his face aglow 
with the emotion which Agnes' enthusiasm had 
kindled in him. 

" That was sweet and brave of you, little Cous- 
in, ' ' he said, smiling dovv^n into her bright eyes. 
••' I really didn't know you had such a good opin- 
ion of me — that you cared so much. You have 
made me think better of myself already, and — " 
he paused, then added with vindicative empha- 
sis — " and others shall think better of me, too. 
You are aware that mother was anxious that I 
should enter the ministry ; but feeling I wasn't 
called to ' hammer the sacred desk, ' and was not 
that way inclined, she left it to me to consult 
my own individual bent and choose for myself, 
and of the ' three black graces ' — Law, Medicine 
and Ministry — I have chosen medicine, and since 
the pursuit is voluntary and I have a distinctive 
taste for that profession, I feel that I shall suc- 
ceed." 

"And what does Cousin Ralph say to the career 
you have chosen ? '' she asked, reflectively. 

" Oh, he is perfectly satisfied. Before I went 
abroad, I asked him one day what profession he 
thought best for me to follow — for I was anxious 
to please him, too, in this— and his reply was, 
' whatever you have a taste and capacity for; if 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 317 

it's making brick, why make brick. I prefer that 
you should be entirely uninfluenced by even a 
suggestion from me, and I believe you will be 
more apt to choose unerringly. ' Those were his 
words, and I haven't forgotten them. Of course, 
he doesn't claim that free choice and purpose are 
proof infallible against failure, but he says 
that failure is less likely to occur if one selects a 
calling that is not distasteful to him." 

" Well, I earnestly hope you have chosen for 
the best, and I do believe you have. I can't help 
thinking that some people are a failure incarnate 
from first to last, but you don't happen to be 
one of them. Now, I don't say this to flatter, or 
please you. but simply because I believe it." 

"I assure you, Agnes," he said, "from this 
time forth I sliall try h arder than ever to deserve 
your good opinion, and do my best to make, 
if not a brilliant, at least an honorable career. ' " 

" All right; I'll remember this, and it is a 
promise from which I shall not release you, and 
when you have reached the goal, I will see that 
you have your totem pole, lofty and elaborate, 
to commemorate your noble deeds, " she laughed. 
" But honestly, Carl, I think there is something 
grand and noble in one's carving his own for- 
tune, and rising higher and higher in the scales 
of usefulness and human knowledge, in defiance 
of every obstacle. I am perfectly in sympathy 
with this pretty sentiment of the poet : 

" Whoever with an earnest soul 

Strives for some end, from this low world afar 
Still upward travels though he miss the goal 
And strays — but travels toward a star!" 

But you, Carl — why you have nothing to hin- 
der you, for surely the gods and good fortune 



818 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

have made the way wide oj)en to you, so there 
is no reason why you should fail. ' ' 

' ' Yes, but I must climb, step by step like any 
other plodder if I would win," he said. 

" True; but you will not have to contend with 
that curse — the most barren of all to a struggling 
soul — the curse of want of money to smooth 
your way. Think of the thousands of bright in- 
tellects so fettered, thousands filled with noble 
and lofty aspirations, longing so eagerly to reach 
a higher level, and yet the stern necessity of 
earning a brief existence keeps them too busy to 
devote to the beloved aspiration of their lives. I 
think what heights that sweet poet, Sydney 
Lanier, whose life was so full of promise, might 
have reached, even with ill health, had he not 
been hedged in for the lack of gold to smooth 
his way. Oh, cruel, cruel fortune, why curse 
some — often the worthy and brave — and heap 
high favors upon others w^ho squander them in 
the whirlpool of idle pleasures?" She sighed a 
little, then walked on in silence. 

They had leisurely ascended the hill by the 
winding driveway which led up to the cemetery, 
and now came to a double vault in a steep hill- 
side. The vault had a frontage of stone and 
granite, and the heavy iron doors were securely 
fastened. An ornamental iron raihng ran along 
three sides of the flat brick roof, and some cone- 
shaped cedars had sprung up betw^een clefts in 
the roof. Between two of these, and immedi- 
ately over the door of the stone vault, stood a 
life-sized marble figaire, representing Hope, one 
baud pointing heavenward, the other resting on 
an anchor at her side. There was a sweet look 
of mute appeal in the calm uplifted face as if it 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 319 

held the connecting Hnk between the mysterious 
Beyond and the crumbhng framework of human- 
ity engulfed in the awful silence of the tomb be- 
neath. Luxuriant ivy clung about the sombre 
looking front, and a few tendrils strayed down- 
ward and mixed its dark green foliage with the 
tender green of the periwinkle sparely sprinkled 
Avith pale blue blossoms. 

It was such a quaint looking place that the 
little party stopped and stood impressively silent 
a moment, regarding it. 

Agnes pressed her hand to her heart and shiv- 
ered, "Oh, if we could escape all this," she said. 
' ' Death, I mean. Why must we die ? It seems 
so hard!" 

' ' Let me remind you of a quotation from that 
marvellous production of Browning's Paracelsus 
from which Ruth quoted just now — where Fes- 
tus trys to console his friend — perhaps it may 
console or comfort you," said Carl, with an in- 
voluntary softening of his voice. 

" What is it? " she asked, almost plaintively. 

•" He says, ' No man man must hope for ex- 
emption from trial ; that to be mortal is to be plied 
with trials manifold. It is our trust, ' he goes 
on to say, ' that there is yet another world to 
mend all error and mischance, but here it seems 
that everyone needs trials to keep his soul from 
going to sleep, as a traveler in the snow needs 
shaking lest he fall and die.' " 

Agnes did not attempt to answer him, but after 
a moment's silence, Ruth said : 

" It is a great comfort, I think, to know that 
the infancy only of the soul is spent on earth. 
Drummond says that earth is the rehearsal for 
heaven. That the eternal beyond is the eternal 



320 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

here: and the street hfe, the home hfe, the busi- 
ness hfe, the city hfe, in aU the varied range of 
its activity, are an apprenticeship for the city of 
God. There is no other apprenticeship. To 
know how to serve Christ in these is to practice 
dying. So this hfe is merely proving what sort 
of souls we have. To me this is a most comfort- 
ing belief. ' ' Then, looking at Carl, she asked : 
' ' Was it not Paracelsus who said, ' I go to prove 
my soul ? ' And that's what we are doing now.'" 

' ' Yes ; but Paracelsus believed that the hu- 
man heart was formed to hate rather than to 
love, until God taught him in the very throes of 
death that power without love would be hell. 
His friend, Festus, who was willing to sacrifice 
so much for him — even to waive all future re- 
ward — saw some things more clearly than did 
Paracelsus." His tone was deeply reverential, 
as was always the case when he spoke of sacred 
things and the dead. 

"• I am afraid there are too many of us, even as 
was Paracelsus before God taught him his error — 
pride of soul, longing for power, despising 
the common run of men and thus unconsciously 
separating ourselves from God," replied Ruth, 
her tone touched with sadness. " God is teach- 
ing us all — poor, slow-paced scholars as w^e are- 
like He taught Paracelsus, not in the way we 
are seeking, but as His j^rovidence sees fitting; 
and it is a pity that we cannot see the hand of 
God all along the present, trust the future to 
Him and thus find peace. " " A softer Ught came 
into her eyes as she went on, and her voice was 
suddenly tremulous with a pathos she could not 
repress. 

At that moment she happened to look up at 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 321 

Carl, and something in his face — she knew not 
what it was; some inward struggle, she fancied, 
to conquer a strange agitation which for the mo- 
ment seemed to absorb his very soul — made her 
withdraw her eyes from his searching gaze, but 
in spite of herself a soft glow stole into her cheek, 
though she showed not the least sign of embar- 
rassment. The next moment he came closer to 
her, and stood for a moment as if trying to for- 
mulate his thoughts into speech, then, with the 
courteous, winning manner so natural to him, 
he took her hand and drew it through his arm. 
and with a sudden change of tone said, '' Come, 
let us follow Agnes and Nellie up to the ceme- 
ter}^, and allow^ me to assist you up that hill, '^ 
nodding in the direction. 

Ruth glanced hurriedly around. 

" Oh, I didn't know they had left as. How 
long ago ? " 

''About five minutes.'' 

" Yes, let us follow them. But, thank you, I 
can clinib that little hill without the least assis- 
tance, " she said, disengaging her hand from his 
arm. 

And then they walked on in silence, side by 
side, up the winding ascent. 

They had no sooner reached the cemetery 
grounds proper, than they perceived Agnes stand- 
ing tiptoed beside a small square enclosure, 
peering over the low picket fence and trying to 
read the accentuated letters on a discolored 
gravestone within. Careful hands had recently 
removed the infringing grass and weeds, and pro- 
fusely scattered sweet spring flowers over the 
smooth green turf. The sound of footsteps be- 
hind her made her turn and look round. 



322 UNDER C40LDEN SKIES; OR, 



li 



Oh, is that you two?" she laughed rogu- 
ishly. '' I've just been singing, ' Come ye dis- 
consolate.' " 

" Why did you and Nellie slip off and leave 
us ? " Ruth asked, with smiling reproach, ''You 
vanished like ghosts, and I didn't know you had 
gone until Carl told me. But where is Nellie ?" 
she asked, glancing uneasily about. " Mrs. Gray- 
son particularly charged me not to lose sight of 
her, or to let her get away from me, ' ' 

■'And now you've done both," laughed Agnes. 
' ' But the idea of any one trying to keep up with 
Nell — " Agnes continued, still peering over the 
enclosure and trying to make out the inscription 
on the weather-stained slab. " She was here a 
minute ago picking some of those wild dasies and 
violets over there, '" pointing to the spot, "and 
said she was gathering them to put on her little 
sisters' grave, and I suppose there is where she 



IS now." 



"Nell's all right," said Carl readily, as they 
moved a few paces further on, and with one im- 
pulse all three stopped to look at a tall, massive 
monument of gray granite, and Carl read aloud 
the names, ' ' Louise and Mary, ' ' carved on the 
beautiful polished surface of the shaft, 

' ' Handsome and imposing, ' ' said Agnes ; " I 
like it," 

" Yes, that is one of the handsomest monu- 
ments in the cemetery," he said. "There is 
another, very beautiful and elegant, further on, 
and we'll come to it presently. It is the hand- 
somest one in the grounds. It was cut in Massa 
Carrasa, Italy, by Professor Pietro Barsanti. ' ' 
. "Is that really true ?" she asked dubiously. 
" Dear, sweet Italv. how I am carried back to 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 323 

beautiful Sarrento — that perfect paradise of 
beauty where we had such a lovely time last 
summer. Come and show me, and let me look 
upon something that is from the sunny land for 
which I cherish sucli a fondness. Whereabout 
is it?" 

' ' Have a little more patience, Agnes, ' ' said 
Ruth, smiling, and taking her by the arm, drew 
her back as she started off. " We'll come to it 
in due time. There is another place — in fact, 
two of them — I Avant you to see, and they are on 
our way to the Barsanti monument." 

" Pray, why so particular about my seeing the 
two you mention, darling?" she asked, turning 
round, her face assuming an interested look. 

" Because there is such a pathetic story con- 
nected with the hves of the two young girls 
whose graves I want you to visit with me. 
Although I did not know them personally, yet I 
never come here that I do not go to their graves. 
Sometimes I take flowers, and I'm sorry I haven't 
any with me this morning; but I know they 
have been generously remembered by their 
friends. ' ' 

" But what is the story ? Go on and tell me.'' 

' ' It is a very sad one, ' ' said Ruth, ' ' and the 
singular coincident of their deaths makes the 
story peculiarly pathetic and impressive. ' ' 

When Ruth had finished the recital she looked 
at Agnes, whose face was full of a strange sol- 
emn light — but all she said was : 

"Oh, how sad I" She could not say more, 
for her eyes had melted and her mouth quivered, 
then a look of peculiar tenderness came into her 
sympathetic face. 

They walked on silently, listening to the birds 



324 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

singing their Easter anthems in softened tones 
from the tall trees now greening with life, in- 
haling the sweet scent of the flowers, pausing 
now and again to read an inscription on a stately 
shaft, or some modest slab, and quietly enjoying 
the sunny glisten and unspeakable serenity 
which fdled the beautiful scene. It was one of 
Spring's loveliest days. 

In the silence that followed, they had reached 
a velvety green square, on the slightly-sloping 
crest of the hill, and in one corner of which was 
a solitary grave, marked by a simple but pretty 
shaft delicately carven on the four sides in 
crowns and palm leaves, while there was a grace- 
ful wreath of ivy leaves running around the 
capstone. 

"This is Miss Farions' grave," said Ruth; 
" and Miss Marsden's is a little further on to the 
left. Both the shafts are exactly alike, the only 
difference being in the inscription; and both 
were placed in position about the same time.'" 

Noticing that one of the Easter lilies had fal- 
len from the little marble urn at the foot of the 
grave, she stooped and replaced it, then tenderly 
rearranged some of the thirsty flowers and placed 
them so the stems might reach the water in the 
ha:f -filled vase. She looked very beautiful kneel- 
ing there, i^gnes and Carl both thought — in the 
midst of the wide peace and sylvan beauty all 
about them. When she got up and stood beside 
Agnes, she said in a low, wavering voice : 

"It is such a blessed hope we have, such a 
comforting privilege to know that those who 
live in the Lord do not see each other for the 
last time." 

They passed on, meeting several groups of 
people strolling about the grounds. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 325 

' ' There is the Barsanti monument, Agnes, ' ' 
said Carl, for they had reached it while they 
were talking. "What do you think of it?" 
She held up her gray-gloved hand to shade her 
eyes, looked critically up at the exquisite female 
figure gracefully poised upon the three-cornered 
pedestal, then walked slowly around it. 

" It is very beautiful, indeed, ' ' she said, after 
a few seconds' pause. "The folds of the drapery 
are simply perfect — and the face, isn't it lovely! 
So suggestive of inward peace and contentment 
— and repose — yes, that's the word, repose. One 
can easily fancy, too, that the rose she is holding 
has life and fragrance, it is so natural. 

They lingered here a few minutes longer; then 
strolled on to the spot where Carl's father and 
sisters were interred — a quiet, lovely place and 
just now full of silent rays of golden light, fall- 
ing through the overcresting branches of the 
trees and checkering the white marble slabs be- 
neath. 

' ' I wonder where Nellie has gone, ' ' said Ruth ; 
' ' I see she has been here, ' ' looking down at the 
flowers. " She is like a bird — just goes here and 
there wherever her fancy takes her. I don't 
believe she knows the meaning of such a thing 
as fear. ' ' 

" I will walk with you and Agnes to the car- 
riage," said Carl, "then I'll look for her. I 
don't think she can be very far." 

"No need to do that," said Agnes. "There 
she is now." As she spoke, Nellie came running 
toward them, holding up both hands, as if she 
meant to embrace them. " Where have you 
been, you little sinner?" Agnes continued. 
" Your Cousin Ruth has been in a perfect ache 
about you." 



326 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

" Where have you all been, you'd better say," 
Nellie pouted, quite out of breath. " I've been 
all over the cemetery, and I never saw any of you 
once, I believe everybody has gone home but 
us, and I'm ready to go now, for I'm awfully 
hungry. ' ' 

" Very likely," said Carl dryly. " Come, we 
are going home now. You don't mind you'll be 
late for Sunday School again." 

'' Can't help it," she returned, and then she 
broke away from them, and when they reached 
the carriage NeUie had got in, taken off her 
hat and was fanning herself vigorously. She 
smiled and yawned drowsily in reply to some 
bantering remark Agnes addressed to her, and 
during the drive homeward sat so mute and still 
they thought she had gone to sleep. 

Mr. and Mrs. Glenwood attended pretty St. 
Paul's that morning, but Agnes accompanied 
the other members of the family to the First 
Presbyterian Church, which they reached just 
as the last reverberation of the church bells in 
the vicinity died upon the air. 

A moment later, as they walked slowly down 
the soft carpeted aisle of the church, the deep 
trembling notes of the organ broke the stillness 
and the choir began singing the joyous message, 
the key-note of all. *' Christ is risen from the 
dead; " and the peahng anthem, as it burst from 
the swelling organ tone, interwoven with the 
pure rich notes of the human voice, ascended 
with the perfume of the flowers, filling the beau- 
tiful room with a flood of sweet melody. 

Through the rich hues of amber, violet, ruby 
and gold of the stained gothic windows, the sun 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 327 

shone, and flung radiant colors over the quiet 
subdued-toned sanctuary. 

Nellie had remained after the Sunday School 
exercises were over to attend the morning ser- 
vice, and was already in her uncle's pew when 
he, with the other members of the family, en- 
tered. 

She rose at once, smiled, and moved to the 
f urtherest end of the semicii'cular seats and took 
the remaining unoccupied chair, after the others 
were seated. All through the service she sat verv 
demure and silent, now and then exchanging 
cautious glances with some of her little Sunday 
School companions who occupied the seats im- 
modiately in front of her, each one wearing a 
certain sober church-going air which the older 
people about them affected. 

Occasionally an aureole of violet light played 
over Nellie's golden curly head and fac«', and 
made her look like some beautiful apparition 
that might vanish at any moment. 

Everyone present seemed to follow with a 
hushed and solemn expectancy the words of the 
eloquent preacher from text unto conclusion 
with the most rapt and absorbing devotion. 

When he had resumed his seat, there was an 
audible stir, a movement, a rustle in each pew, 
as if the occupant wished to convey through his 
eyes and manner his approval and delight to as 
many of the people about him as possible. There 
were moist eyes and tremulous lips, too; and 
after the doxology was sung and the benediction 
which came after was over, the congregation 
quietly dispersed to the sound of triumphant mu- 
sic, while the spirit of sweet peace which had 
stolen into the hearts of every listener as he sat 



328 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

in the sacred sanctuary, beneath the exquisite 
harmony of the music, and the matchless elo- 
quence of the minister, lingered many a day 
with him; and, then in soft sweet echoes, it 
seemed to melt and sink down into his very soul, 
enriching it, and chiming continually the hope 
of a more perfect day. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 329 



CHAPTER XXXII. 



About two weeks after Easter, Mr. and Mrs. 
Gordon gave a magnificent reception in honor of 
Mr. and Mrs. Glenwood and their daughter 
Agnes; and while it was one of the many bril- 
liant fetes which they had attended, and which 
had been given by their former friends in their 
honor, yet no social event had happened in the 
city for quite a long time that caused such a stir 
and ripple of excitement, and that was looked 
forward to with such pleasurable anxiety. 

It was late in the afternoon of the day of Mrs. 
Gordon "s reception — a day that had dawned 
bright and beautiful — and Agnes and Carl were 
in the sitting-room, the latter reclining upon a 
low, luxurious divan with all the ease and 
abandon of an Indian Rajah or Persian Lord, 
while Agnes read to him with apparently absorb- 
iug interest. But presently, with a sudden im- 
[)ulse, she closed the book and laid it down. 

"There I I'll not read another line, " she said. 
" I've read long enough, and besides I don't be- 
lieve you are listening, anyway." Then, eyeing 
him with a mocking smile, she added : 

'' What a voluptuary you are, Carl. I wonder 
some good magician don't transport you to the 
Oriental realms and transform you into a verita- 
ble prince, and while you lounge under silken 
canopies listening to delicious music and watching 
the graceful movements of your dancing slaves, 
study to your heart's content the incomparable 
pleasures of an ideal idleness. ' ' 

He half raised himself from the couch, and 



22 



330 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

supporting his handsome head upon one out- 
spread pahn, turned his smihng face toward her. 

" When the gracious gods, or your good magi- 
cian, accord to me such a happy fate, I shah 
choose you, my pretty cousin, as one of the hon- 
ored maids to hold the silken canopy above my 
royal head, or wave the cooling palm to refresh 
me,'' he laughed. " You know the old saying 
that goes, ' Best ease is free ease ■ — and that's 
what I am enjoying now." 

" I'm afraid you'd find your labor and pains 
thrown away," she laughed back, her own atti- 
tude full of light grace and ease. '' Besides, you 
should remember vivre ce vie' est pas respirer, 
c''est agir.''^ 

" Oh, never fear. I have already betaken my- 
self to w^orks of serious reflection," he said, 
rising. 

Before she could reply the door ojjened, and 
Mrs. Glenwood, with stately dignity and a smile 
on her cold, proud face, entered the room, and 
glancing around to assure herself there were no 
visitors present, said, turning to Agnes: 

" I came, my dear, to consult with you about 
your dress for Mrs. Gordon's reception this even- 
ing. Have you decided what you shall wear ? ' ' 

" Not yet, Mamma. Adele has taken several 
evening dresses to my room for me to select from, 
but I left it with her to decide which it shall be. * ' 

" Suppose you let me decide the momentous 
question for you. Cousin," said Carl, laughing. 
While I'm not an authoiity in such matters, since 
1 do not keep myself informed as to the latest 
ukases of feminine attire, but I'm said to have 
at least first-rate taste with regard to a woman's 
get up — that is. the general effect her presence 



IN THE XEW ELDOKADO. 831 

produces, whether or not it is pleasing and ar- 
tistic." 

As Agnes listened to him, her bright eyes 
sparkled. " Well, I do believe I will allow you 
to set the seal of your aristocratic approval upon 
my toilet this evening, by selecting it yourself. 
I think I'll have Adele to display for your inspec- 
tion some of my choicest evening dresses, so that 
you can choose fairly what will enhance my per- 
sonal charms, and show them to the best advan- 
tage. ' ' 

'' Pshaw! you are amusing yourself at my ex- 
pense," he said quietly, his color rising; "but 
seriously, I mean what I say. I don't think the 
secret of good dressing lies in many toilets, but 
in suitable and immaculate ones." 

' ' Well, you know mine are many, suitable and 
immaculate," she said, adjusting her bracelet. 
and still smiling. ' ' But you shall decide. ' ' 

' ' Well, whatever you wear, my dear, ' ' said 
Mrs. Glen wood, turning to Agnes, " I particu- 
larly wish that you shall look well this evening 
— in fact, surpass yourself. I have my reasons 
for desiring this. ' ' 

Agnes looked at her mother with a bright smile. 

" Why, Mamma, I never knew you to be so 
particular about my dress before. Of course 111 
wear what you wish and try to look my best. 
But why is the matter so very important on this 
occasion, if I may ask ? " 

" You are aware, my dear, that it is the sense 
of sight which is first appealed to, and as this is 
the avenue that leads directly to the heart, the 
chances are always in favor of the person who 
cultivates an attractive exterior," she said eva- 
sively. '' Any woman who dares to hold herself 



332 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

superior to dress, is a very singular creature, I 
think; and I must assuredly concur with the 
lady who said not long since that it matters not 
how many personal charms a woman may have, 
or how many gifts she may possess, if she is 
careless or indifferent about her dress it obscures 
her every charm and gift and leaves her defence- 
less; and while a perfectly costumed woman is 
in a certain sense a recognized power, and doubt- 
less is given a wider sphere for usefulness and a 
greater influence for good than her more shab- 
bily attired neighbor, yet it is essential at the 
same time that she must carry with her choicest 
apparel an air of refinement if she would hope to 
gain attention. It is not so much the lack of 
funds as the lack of artistic appreciation that 
places a woman at a decided disadvantage. I 
don't believe that a gentleuian, or any one. ever 
grows too old to appreciate the charms of a well- 
dressed woman. ' ' 

"Do you, Carl?" Agnes asked, glancing at 
him with a bewitching laugh. 

'' Never," he said. 

"Well, Mamma, I am quite ready to acquiesce 
in your decision in the matter of my toilet on 
this special occasion, but please permit me to 
stipulate just one thing." Agnes sank back in 
her chair and began fanning herself. 

"What is it?" her mother asked, smiling 
down at her as one humoring the caprice of a 
spoiled child. 

" That I shall wear no jewels of any kind," 
she said with a light laugh. 

" I do not quite understand you, ' ' returned 
Mrs. Glenwood. ' ' I know of no diamonds so fine 
as yours, and these I wish you to wear this eveu- 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 333 

ing, " she added in a tone of decision. Then, 
after discussing the subject in all its bearing, 
she finally settled that Agnes' dress was to be a 
pale blue satin with tiny thistles woven in silver 
threads, and trimmed in lace. The magnificent 
parure of diamonds, the gift of her father two 
years before, would be sufficient, she said, with- 
out the aid of other ornaments of any kind. 

Mrs. Glenwood gave a sigh of relief, as if she 
had got rid of a most intolerable burden and 
she was glad the ordeal was well over with. 
Then she turned to leave the room, but paused 
and looked back. 

" Agnes, I think you would better go and lie 
down now and rest until tea, so you will feel re- 
fi'eshed for the evening. Carl will excuse you, 
I am sure. ' ' 

" Certainly I will, little Cousin, for I want you 
to be radiant and irresistible this evening, ' ' he 
said gaily ; ' ' and make a conquest of a certain 
fellow I know, if no one else. I'm sure he ad- 
mires you immensely, and you've nothing to do 
but to bring him to your feet. He is one of the 
best fellows I know, and a decided catch." 

' ' AVell, that's a new role for you to appear in, ' ' 
said Agnes, laughing with a little sigh of resig- 
nation as she rose to follow her mother ; " I 
never knew you to play the part of a matchmaker 
before. I confess I haven't the most remote idea 
to whom you allude, and neither am I going to 
ask you. But I'll leave you now to the blissful 
enjoyment of your own reflections. Bye-bye," 
she gave him one of her brightest smiles and left 
him alone. 

As soon as Mrs. Glenwood and Agnes quitted 
the room Carl took up the book, Howell's "April 



334 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

Hopes," which Agnes had been reading aloud, 
and taking the seat she had just vacated near 
the window began to read where she had left 
off. He was soon so interested in its pages that 
he did not hear the soft step that crossed the 
room, and not until he felt the weight of a Ught 
hand upon his shoulder did he suddenly look up. 

'' Little Mother! is it you ? " he said, looking 
at her fondly, while he rose and placed an easy 
lounging chair for her near his own. 

" Where is Agnes ?" she asked, looking round. 
' ' I thought she was in here with you ? " 

" So she was until a few minutes ago, when 
Cousin Ella came to consult her about her dress 
for this evening, and after the all important 
question was arranged, she went off to her room 
for a nap. ' ' 

" Who is going with her to Mrs. Gordon's this 
evening ? " 

" Mr. Bland. It seems that she had half a 
dozen offers, but Mr. Bland being the first, he is 
the successful aspirant for that honor. ' ' 

' ' And you ? ' ' his mother looked at him with 
a gentle smile. 

" T am going with Miss Nina Ashton. She is 
visiting at Col. Glover's, and will be in the city 
several weeks. I'm sorry you are not going. 
Mother, ' ' he said tenderly. 

' ' Yes, but I do not feel strong enough, and 
one is not expected to sacrifice health to social 
duties. I had a note from Euth this afternoon," 
she went on, " and she wished me to look in the 
library for a book — I don't remember the name 
— that she left on the table. I wish you would 
get it for me, dear. Here is Ruth's note, and 
you can see the name of the book and bring it to 



me." 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 335 

He took the note and read it, and left the 
room at once to do her bidding. In a few min- 
utes he returned with the book she wanted. 

Mrs. Grayson was standing by the table bend- 
ing over a rose- jar which held a large bouquet of 
lovely flowers. 

"Where did these come from, Carl? They 
are very beautiful. Some of them I do not rec- 
ognize." 

' ' Mr. Bland sent those to Agnes, Mother dear. 
Yes, they are very fine. Here is ' The Window 
in Thrums,' and Euth's note,'' he said, handing 
them to her. " So unnatural in a girl like Ruth, ' ' 
he said, " with her rare beauty and accomplish- 
ments not to care for society and such things. 
Of all beautiful, graceful and attractive women 
I know, she hasn't a peer. I regret that she is 
not going to Mrs. Gordon's this evening." 

Mrs. Grayson looked keenly and anxiously at 
his handsome face for a moment, and a low sigh 
escaped her. 

"• After Ruth is graduated," she said calmly, 
" she will, of course, go more into society. Just 
now she hasn't the time if she had the inclina- 
tion. Heretofore, during her vacations, she has 
declined to attend social gatherings on account 
of being in mourning, but now since she has laid 
it aside, and when she has finished her studies 
at the Academy, it will be different — though I 
believe she will always be a student and care 
very little for a gay and fashionable life." 

Then she turned to him and laid her hand 
affectionately upon his arm, and looked up ten- 
derly into his face. She hesitated, because what 
she had to say must be said though it cost her 
a great effort to say it, and she shrank so from 
wounding him. 



336 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

" Carl, my dear, brave boy,'' she said, gently, 
"be as affectionate and kind to Euth as you 
will — regard her as a dear friend, a cousin, even 
as a sister if you may ; but do not, let me ask 
you, fall in love with her. You know what I 
mean — you know why I ask you this — you know 
it is because I would spare you future disap- 
pointment and pain. While Euth is the one wo- 
man I should have wished most to see your wife, 
and I love her as a daughter, yet she has no 
heart to give you — no such love as you would 
ask to make you happy. I know that you are 
too honorable and too noble to think of trying to 
win her love under the circumstances, but I sim- 
ply ask you to repress in the outset all feelings 
of a warmer nature than mere friendship, if you 
would hope to retain your present peace and 
tranquility of mind. I have taken this oppor- 
tunity to talk to you, Carl, because your happi- 
ness and welfare are very dear to me, and so are 
Euth's — and your uncle's too," and then her 
voice grew softer; " I should like you to know 
— to have the assurance of my ready sympathy 
and confidence, now, as much as if you were still 
a boy, and feel that you may talk with me at all 
times freely and unreservedly, and as your heart 
prompts you." 

Carl's face flushed, but he smiled and said ear- 
nestly, " Depend upon it. Mother, I shall love 
Euth wisely, but not too well for my own peace 
of mind ; and instead of loving her as you sug- 
gest, it seems I must learn to love her as an aunt. 
No, so far as I can see and know my own heart, 
little Mother, there is no need for your appre- 
hension. " 
^Mrs. Grayson smiled at his bright, boyish 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 337 

words, which she knew came from the depths of 
an honest heart. He bent down and kissed her. 
and then, without another word, she left the 
room : while he, still thinking of what she had 
said to him, resumed his book and tried to fix his 
attention upon its pages. 

Ignorance is sometimes happiness, and Cai-1 
was really ignorant of the depth of his attach- 
ment for Ruth, and so was sincere in what he 
had said in the interview with his mother. 

But, with her quick womanly perception, she 
had read something more than he knew himself 
— ^something beneath the surface of his warm, 
impulsive nature which she feared would kindle 
into a passion which would cost him dear. 

She knew his character well — every strong 
and weak point of it; and she knew, too, how 
best to appeal to his high and noble feelings. 
However, she had simply sounded a warning — 
she hoped there would be no need to do more. 



338 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 



CHAPTER XXXIII. 

Late one afternoon, some days after Mr. and 
Mrs. Glenwood had left for their home in Cali- 
fornia, Agnes sat alone on the veranda, reading. 

It had been a lovely day, filled with the sweet 
sensuous influences of the season, and now it 
was dying beautifully. 

Masses of purple clouds, silver-rimmed, floated 
across the western horizon, changing magic-hke 
into rosy pink and pearly gray banners, shot 
with bars of sun-flushed gold, then trailing them- 
selves slowly along, gradually paled and were 
lost in the radiant glow of the crimson sea toss- 
ing its bright waves above the leafy tree-tops, 
where the sun went down and slept. 

In the sweet, mysterious silence of the linger- 
ing twilight, the big Ulies in the marble vase 
near the fountain began to look like flower- 
ghosts, as the soft wind swayed their pure white 
chalices to and fro in the gloaming. 

The chirp of a cricket came from the shrub- 
bery, which was already silvered with the star- 
light and the pale gleam of a young moon, which 
hung like a severed ring on the edge of the starry 
vault. 

Bruce was lying on the floor at Agnes' feet, 
his head resting on his outstretched forepaws — 
not asleep, but in an attitude instinct with the 
sense of watchfulness — expectant. 

At that moment Agnes detected the faint, 
fragrant odor of cigar smoke, then voices and 
footsteps approaching. 

Instantly Bruce raised his head, gave a low 
friendly whine, and the next moment bounded 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 339 

down the steps to meet Carl and Nellie coming 
up the walk. 

Nellie and Bruce came back with a rush, as 
was their habit, and Nellie, in passing, flung her 
arms around Agnes' neck, embraced her fer- 
vently, then bounded away again. 

Meanwhile Car] had quickened his pace: a 
flush of pleasure lit up his countenance as he 
approached his cousin, and she held out her hand 
to him. 

"I was just thinking about you," she said, 
drawing a chair forward for him near her own. 
"Sit down." 

With a quick, decided gesture he threw the 
cigar away he had been smoking, stooped and 
playfully kissed the tips of her fingers, then sat 
down beside her. 

"Well, I feel flattered, " he said, " even though 
you may have been thinking something dreadful 
about me. But when did you get back ? I 
thought you and mother were at Mrs. Grace's 
for tea? I had no idea of seeing you until 10 
o'clock this evening." 

He took up her plumed fan as he spoke, opened 
it and began fanuing himself. 

" So we were, to luncheon," she said; "but 
we returned half an hour ago; you didn't expect 
us to spend the night, did you ? ' ' 

"No, not exactly," he laughed, "and I'm 
very glad you didn't, for I — " 

' ' The luncheon was from t wo to seven o ' clock, ' ' 
she interrupted him. " W^e went at four, spent 
an hour, and afterwards drove to the W. and S. 
Art League Exhibit, and then came home." 

" I hope you enjoyed it," he said. 

" Which — the luncheon or exhibit ? " 

' ' Both, of course. ' ' 



340 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

'' So I did very much. The League's exhibit 
was decidedly creditable. It was large and varied, 
and there was some exquisite work — all done by 
the local members, I was told. I met Miss Du- 
val, one of the leading spirits of the organization, 
and she seems to manifest an enthusiastic inter- 
est in its success. She had some lovely things 
of her own, and some etching on linen I was 
particularly struck Tvith — it was exquisitely done. 
How gifted she is in many ways, and charming, 
too, I think. Then I saw a painting there, done 
in oil — a landscape scene — and it reminded me 
very much of a similar one I saw in your friend's 
studio in Paris last fall. ' ' 

" That lake scene Cecil painted when he was 
with us in Florence?" Carl asked sympathet- 
ically. " Yes. that was a good thing," he added. 

"By the way," she asked, "when did you 
hear from Mr. Brian last "? 1 don't know when 
I've thought of him before until to-day. But 
that picture recalled him. I did like the poor 
fellow notwithstanding his dreamy, peculiar 
ways. But I suppose all artists are peculiar in 
some way. Still, I liked him, you know," she 
stopped short and looked at him thoughtfully, 
while a warm color came into her face. " Yes, 
I do believe there is something great in him, and 
he'll yet be a high celebrity some day; but I 
can't help feeling a sort of strange pity for him, " 

Carl shook his head, smiling gravely. 

■' Hush, you mustn't say anything against my 
friend Cecil. He's a splendid fellow, and he has 
his own troubles. It wasn't your fa alt, I hon- 
estly believe, nor his either, that he fell in love 
with you; neither was it your fault that you 
couldn't return his love. But that little episode, 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 341 

which drove everything else for the time out of 
his head, I know has made a great difference in 
his Hfe, for he was desperately in earnest, little 
Cousin. He declares he will never marry, but 
settle down in Paris and bury himself in his art. 
I had a letter from him two weeks since. He 
was well in body, sick in mind, and hard at 
work." 

At the end of his story Agnes sighed, and with 
a touch of her old impulsiveness said: 

" Oh, I dare say he'll soon get well over that 
little affair, marry and settle down and resign 
himself gracefully to connubial joys and respon- 
sibilities. They all do. Why, I never knew a 
man to pine away and die of a broken heart; 
men are not so sensitively organized. They 
couldn't do it. See how sensibly your friend 
acted by going to work. There's one comfort 
that his disappointment didn't make him do any- 
thing rash. Yes, he's decidedly sensible, and I 
like him the better for it. Now tell me, " she 
said, " what you've been up to all the afternoon ? 
I'm all attention."' 

He looked at her expectant of surprise. "After 
dinner I drove with Uncle Ralph to Skiland, Mr. 
Raynor's stock farm, a mile from the city, to 
look at a span of thoroughbreds, and Uncle Ralph 
— a capital judge of horse flesh he is — was so 
pleased with them that he straightway bought 
them upon sight. The best part of it is, they are 
thoroughly broken in, and Mr. Raynor says that 
any lady can drive them with perfect safety." 

'• Delightful I " exclaimed x\gnes, her eyes 
alight with excitement and pleasure. " I do hope 
I shall be permitted to enjoy the first ride behind 
them, for above all things that moves, breathes 



342 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

and has its being in the animal kingdom, I do 
adore a beautiful horse. Do you know, I've been 
so struck with the large number of fine horses 
I've seen since I've been here — the horses I see 
daily, not only driving upon the boulevards, but 
even the dray horses — many of them are superb 
animals and so well groomed.'' 

' ' Yes, we can boast of some as fine horse-flesh 
here as you'll find almost anywhere. On any 
private or public occasion which necessitates a 
demonstration, the number of fine horses seen in 
such a procession always provokes high compli- 
ments from the onlookei-s, and especially from 
strangers. ' ' 

" What is the color of Cousin Ralph's new 
horses ? I'm almost as impatient to get a peep 
at them as I'm sure Nellie will be; and when 
will they be home ? '' 

" They are black, and glossy as satin, and 
they'll be here this evening. I'm expecting Vir- 
gil with them any time now. They are perfect 
beauties, I can tell you." 

' ' Well, you surely didn't spend the whole after- 
noon looking at a pair of horses ? " said Agnes 
dubiously, " even if they are beauties." 

" Oh, no. After the purchase, Uncle Ealph 
and I returned home, and Nell put after me at 
once to take her out to the base- ball grounds to 
see the games; that over, we took ia a game of 
lawn tennis; and afterwards, not allowing me 
the responsibility of choice, she dragged me to 
the ice-cream restaurant, and that disposed of, 
she was easily enough induced to come home — 
so here I am. ' ' 

Agnes laughed merrily. " You had an inter- 
esting experience, certainly ; but no doubt Nellie 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 343 

enjoyed it, if you didn't — especially the visit to 
the ice-cream restaurant." 

The next morning Agnes and Carl drove to the 
West End Graded School ; but they did not drive 
the mettlesome black, but Beppo, to the pony 
phaeton. 

On one side of the beautiful campus a crowd 
of boys were playing foot-ball, and every now 
and again a merry shout went up at each bril- 
liant point in the game. The girls were on the 
opposite side, engaged in various kinds of amuse- 
ments. 

The bell rang just as Carl and Agnes mounted 
the steps, announcing that recess was over. 

" What a pity to spoil their sport, " said Agnes. 
" I wish we'd come a little sooner. Now we'll 
not see Nell. ' ' 

" Yes, we can see her in the hall when the 
pupils march in, ' ' said Carl, the shouts of the 
victorious team almost drowning his voice. 
' ' There goes the drum, ' beating them in, ' as 
Nell says. Let us hurry so as to get a good po- 
sition and be out of the way. I see there are 
several other visitors. ' ' 

"Lead on,'' she said, and they entered to- 
gether and joined the group of visitors standing 
in the broad hall and waiting for the pupils to 
file in. Agnes delightedly enjoyed the next few 
minutes. 

The different grades, with their respective 
teachers, filed in as beautifully and orderl}-^ as a 
troop of well-trained soldiers, keeping perfect 
time to the drum beat, the very lowest grade lead- 
ing, then going up in the regular order of their 
grading, turning right and left to their respec- 
tive departments, the lower grades on the first 



344 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

floor, and the higher ones ascending the stairway 
on either side, to their rooms on the second floor. 

Nellie threw Agnes and Carl a meaning glance 
and smile as she passed, then marched on, bear- 
ing her little self proudly. Agnes and Carl ex- 
changed glances, and Carl said to her: 

" Nell thinks she's about the most important 
factor in the school, and no running it without 
her." 

After the last pupil had disappeared, and all 
noises ceased, Agnes and Carl turned to leave 
the hall, when Professor Blake, who had been 
standing on the opposite side, approached them. 
He had recognized them when they entered and 
bowed to them. 

"Are you enjoying yourself. Miss Glen wood ?" 
stopping in front of her, and offering his hand. 

" Very much. Your pupils did beautifully — 
and such perfect order. How many are there ? ' ' 

"About five hundred in this school, and three 
hundred in the other white graded school in the 
northern part of the city. There is also a -^erj 
prosperous colored graded school in the same sec- 
tion, and if you are taking in some of our city 
schools to-day, I should be pleased for you to 
visit this one, too. They have a good building, 
a corps of excellent teachers, and Professor 
Adams will take great pleasure in having you 
shown through the different departments. One 
very entertaining feature of that school is the 
music, and the singing of the pupils is a treat. 
Now, in the white graded school in that section, 
where there is also an able corps of instructors, 
you will find the same work in all the depart- 
ments as there is in this, and in each grade there 
is daily some attractive feature to arouse the in- 
terest of the pupils." 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 345 



i i 



I shall be glad to visit them both, and shall 
do so some time ; but to-day we are making a 
special visit to your school — " she paused and 
looked up at him questioningly ; ' ' but I suppose 
all the graded schools in the city are under your 
charge — in other words, you are Superintendent 
of them?" 

"Yes. Now, are there any special grades in 
this school you wish to visit, or will you see 
them air?" 

" Which room is Nellie in. Professor Blake ? " 
asked Carl ; then turning to Agnes — ' ' You know 
you promised Nell you'd call on her to-day." 

' ' She is in the primary department, ' ' he said, 
'' here to the left. I will walk with you to the 
door, and Mrs. Langdon will show you what her 
' little men and women ' can do. I think you 
will find much to interest you in here, also in 
the other rooms. " He opened the door just then, 
and as soon as Mrs. Langdon invited Carl and 
Agn^s to seats, near the rostrum. Professor 
Blake turned away. 

More than an hour afterwards they were re- 
turning through the hall, and just then Profes- 
sor Blake stepped out of his office a little ahead 
of them. 

" Well, we've taken in everything," said Ag- 
nes, in her bright, ardent way ; ' ' up-stairs and 
down-stairs, and I assure you I think the pupils 
not only reflect great credit upon their own capa- 
bilities, but the ability of their instructors. I've 
been most pleasantly entertained. Carl declares 
that I am infected with some of the enthusiasm 
of your teachers, aad he shouldn't wonder if I 
were to make application to you for a position 
of duty. We are going now, and I'm glad I saw 

23 



346 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

you before leaving to express my thanks and 
pleasure. ' ' She held out her hand. 

Professor Blake's face beamed. " Thank you, 
Miss Glenwood. You must know that it is in- 
finitely gratifying to me to hear you speak so 
favorably of our work. Have you been in the 
library ? " he asked, stepping back a pace or two 
and placing his hand on the lock of the office 
door. " You can come through this way, and I 
shall be pleased to show you." 

She looked at Carl. " Shall we go ? " 

"Oh, certainly; I am entirely yours to com- 
mand to-dav. " 

" We have a class in stenography and type- 
writing taught here in the afternoons," said 
Professor Blake, as they entered the library, and 
Agnes walked at once to the shelves and began 
looking up and down and reading the titles on 
the backs of some of the books ; ' ' but in the 
mornings the room is opened to visitors." 

" So you teach your pupils something outside 
their regular text-books — trades and profes- 
sions," she said, turning round with a volume 
of Ruskin's "Modern Painters" in her hand, 
which she had drawn out from amongst a num- 
ber of that author's works. 

" We endeavor to give all a good practical edu- 
cation, ' ' he said ; ' ' but those who wish to study 
any particular profession or trade, then of course 
they are required to study, first, all about it — 
that is, the subjects which lead up to and are 
fundamental to it. You know the day when pro- 
fessions or employments of any kind were just 
taken up by mere observation, or say desultory 
application, has long since passed away. In these 
modern days, business, education, the arts and 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 347 

trades of every kind, have grown so broad, com- 
prehensive and complicated, that all these things 
now demand careful, scientific study on the part 
of those who adopt them. If one knew every- 
thing even helpful for him to know in his calling 
nowadays, his range of information would in- 
clude a very wide circumference of knowledge 
indeed. But it is quite impossible for a student 
of a profession to grasp and assimilate every- 
thing; so he is obliged to omit that which is 
least essential, and concentrate his attention 
upon things most directly suited to his purpose. 
To do this, he must pursue a selective course, 
and not waste valuable time on studies that have 
become antiquated, and that this progressive age 
has outgrown. There is so much merely spec- 
ulative and theoretical writing, too, which has 
to be avoided, aad here again the best judgment 
is required to have the student employ good ma- 
terial, and that best suited to his individual need. ' ' 

Agnes had stood hstening to him with bright 
eyes, and an expression which said jDlainly 
enough that she fully acquiesced in all he was 
saying. When he stopped she turned to Carl 
with a touch of her old enthusiasm. 

" More's the pity, Carl, that you didn't know 
for sare, way back, when you were a mere boy, 
that you intended to become a physician, so you 
might have taken into consideration the scien- 
tific character of the preparation which would 
be necessary for you to make a success. ' ' 

" Well, I have studied, as Professor Blake says, 
some of the essential things that lead up to it — 
such sciences as physics, physiology, chemistry, 
botany, mathematics, mineralogy and the lan- 
guages, ' ' he said. ' ' so I think I am familiar with 



348 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

a little more tliau the merely technique of my 
intended profession; and later on at the Medical 
College which I shall attend, of course I shall 
apply myself to those sciences which are related 
to medicine, and which contribute to it." 

" Yes, physical culture, hygiene, psychology, 
economics, pharmacy, and other great subjects 
to which medicine is tributary," suggested Pro- 
fessor Blake, reflectively. 

' ' Dear knows what a wide range of study one 
has to travel over and master nowadays before 
he can hope to make a success of anything, " said 
Agnes, returning ' ' Modern Painters ' ' to its place 
OQ the shelf. " It seems that one knows but ht- 
tle now, even if his knowledge be encyclopedic. 
Indeed, when I look around me, and see how 
much there is yet to learn, I feel that I know 
absolutely nothing at all. ' ' 

" When one has reached that stage. Miss Glen- 
wood," said Professor Blake, smiling, "he is 
not only in a fair way to enlarge his present 
range of information, but perhaps add something 
new to the fund- of knowledge he already posses- 
ses, by cultivating a habit of thorough and orig- 
inal investigation. But if one hopes to keep 
abreast in this day he must necessarily accustom 
himself to grasp — and do it readily, that which 
will cause his mental faculties to grow and ex- 
pand, that which is progressive and of chief im- 
portance to the world in which he moves — and 
to which world he is expected to contribute 
something, if not for its betterment, then for 
its enjoyment, otherwise he wiU be left far be- 
hind in the race as a ' nullity, ' and over- 
shadowed." 

A changed look instantly swept over Agnes' 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 349 

sensitive, impressionable face, and seeing which 
Carl said, laughingly: 

" Well, the world — your friendly world — will 
never leave you behind as a 'nullity,' Agnes, 
even though you add nothing more to your pres- 
ent store of knowledge; for your contribution, 
in the way of bright sunshine, amply compen- 
sates for any lack of mental equipment over 
which you may grieve." 

"Ah, well, never mind," she said, brighten- 
ing; " we'll not argue the matter;" then turning 
to Professor Blake, she diverged immediately 
into other topics, talking joyously and brightly, 
till the noon bell rang and the drum began to 
beat. 

Agnes started, and a second time held out her 
liand to Professor Blake with a charming manner. 

" I beg your pardon for encroaching so upon 
your time. Can it be so late as that ? How 
pleasantly and rapidly the time has slipped by. 
Do let me thank you again for the pleasure you 
have given me. I have enjoyed everything im- 
mensely. It was very good of you ; good-bye. ' ' 



350 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 



CHAPTER XXXIV. 

One afternoon, Mrs. Grayson, entering the sit- 
ting-room, came upon Agnes sitting at the piano, 
absently running her fingers over the keys, and 
dreamingly gazing out before her. 

Mrs. Grayson walked up to her and stood be- 
side her, resting her hand upon her shoulder. 

' ' All alone, I see ; but I hope you are not 
lonely. I'm so glad that Ruth will be with you 
soon, my dear. I saw her only a few minutes 
this afternoon at the Academy. She was very 
busy preparing for the concert this evening. I 
took Nellie with me, and it was almost as much 
as I could do to get her home. I believe Ruth 
is almost sorry that this is her last term there, 
and would invent some excuse to return if she 
could. She asked many questions about you, 
sent a great deal of love, and said you must 
allow nothing to prevent you attending the con- 
cert this evening. ' ' 

Agnes turned round, took Mrs. Grayson's hand 
and held it, caressing it softly. 

" Oh, indeed I'm going, and you don't know 
how glad I am. Cousin Helen, that Ruth's com- 
ing home. Not that I'm lonely at all; oh, no, 
no — how could I get lonely here with you ? ' ' she 
asked with a bright smile, and a faint touch of 
reproach in her tone. 

At the Moravian church adjoining the Acad- 
emy, where the commencement exercises were 
held, as soon as the doors were thrown open a 
tide of humanity began to pour in through the 
front, back and side entrance ways, and at 7.45 
o'clock, the hour for the opening of the exer- 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 351 

cises, there was standing room only ; but all of 
this that was available was soon occupied, and 
many took advantage of the open windows. 

Hundreds of white-robed, happy girls looked 
down from the tiers of seats on the temporary 
platform, which extended very nearly to the 
centre of the church, leaving a space which 
seemed pitifully small for the immense audience 
so eager to be accommodated. 

The Grayson party were in time to secure the 
seats reserved for them near the platform, and 
as soon as they were seated Agnes glanced round 
on the brilliant scene. The auditorium was 
packed from main floor to galleries, with an au- 
dience representing the culture and fashion of 
the two cities on this opening night of the com- 
mencement ; and it was an assemblage of people 
who were discriminating in their applause, as 
well as keen to recognize the good points of the 
performance. 

Under the glow of the electric light, the wav- 
ing fans, the beautiful costumes of the ladies, 
the flashing jewels, the exquisite decorations, all 
made up a scene at once dazzling and beautiful. 
Although the room was uncomfortably crowded, 
the best of order prevailed. 

Agnes was a passionate lover of music, yet 
to-night her thoughts were so much occupied 
with Ruth, that for once in her life she was 
almost deaf to the sweet strains of melody which 
floated over the packed house. Somehow she had 
a feeling of mingled hope and anxiety, a sort of 
vague dread for Ruth, which feeling, however, 
Mrs. Grayson did not share. 

" What if Ruth should fail?" Agnes said to 
herself over and over again. " Oh, it would be 



352 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

terrible." She looked toward her and began 
studying every feature of the sweet face. She 
seemed perfectly calm and self-possessed, and 
Agnes thought she had never seen her more beau- 
tiful. She turned to say something to Mrs. Gray- 
son, and, at that moment there was a surging 
movement and ripple of excitement all over the 
house, and when she looked quickly back to the 
stage, Ruth was standing in full view of the au- 
dience, near the footlights, and as still as a 
statue. The sheet of music she held in her hand 
scarcely moved. " How lovely! How beauti- 
ful! " were the whispered compliments which 
Mrs. Grayson and Agnes heard on all sides. But 
Ruth seemed perfectly unconscious of the admir- 
ing, wondering glances bent upon her by that 
sea of upturned, eager faces. 

She wore no jewels, nor did she need any, for 
her peerless beauty needed no enhancement. Her 
dress was an exquisite combination of some fleecy 
white and heliotrope material, trimmed in gleam- 
ing lace and ribbon, which set off to perfection 
her marvelous beauty and graceful figure. 

Amidst the enthusiastic stir and rustle which 
her appearance excited. Miss Trenton, her 
teacher, took her seat at the piano, and struck 
the first chords of the accompaniment — then 
paused. 

Ruth still looked on in silence ; the glittering- 
throng before her seemed to fade into nothing- 
ness, and for one brief moment she swayed like 
a tender flower shaken in a stormy blast. The 
next few minutes the stillness was almost pain- 
ful. Agnes laid her hand impulsively upon Mrs. 
Grayson's, pressing it hard, and w^hispered un- 
der her breath, " Oh, Cousin Helen, I almost 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 353 

knew she'd fail. I'd give anything to save her 
the humihation I know she must suffer. ' ' 

Mrs. Grayson did not answer, nor take her eyes 
from the lovely face upon which the gaze of 
hundreds were riveted. She had never thought 
that Ruth would fail, and she would not suffer 
herself to think so no\^. 

At that moment Ruth raised her beautiful, 
wistful eyes, as though by some mysterious power, 
and looked out over the vast audience — then 
seemed to hold her breath; but the next mo- 
ment, as if by magic, a rosy bloom flushed into 
her lovely face, her eyes sparkled, her face 
beamed, and everything else was forgotten. 

Suddenly a rich voice burst upon them — a 
melody so sweet, so exquisite that it rose and 
fell like sunlit waves upon a summer sea, thrill- 
ing every fiber of one's being with a sense of 
tenderest, sweetest harmony, and holding them 
in a spell of rapture. Indeed, the magnificent, 
soul-stirring strains rippled through the house 
with an effect that was almost sublime, and for 
the moment the singer was lost sight of in the 
glorious melody of her matchless voice. 

Her interpretation was a revelation to her en- 
raptured listeners, for she seemed to appeal to 
them through an inner sense — that indescribable 
something which every artist must have if he 
would compel others to feel what he himself feels, 
and draw them to him. It was no wonder that 
the audience appreciated her wonderful artistic 
triumph; no wonder they accorded her the 
greatest possible demonstration of their unquali- 
fied approval. Never was the meed of praise 
laid at one's feet more graciously and willingly, 
never was it more heartfelt and sincere, even in 
this critical city. 



354r UNDKR GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

When the last delicious note of the ' ' Nightin- 
gale 's Trill " had ceased and Ruth took her seat, 
the audience seemed in an ecstacy of delight, 
and the applause was deafening. Again, and 
still again she was called for— called to come 
back before the footlights ; and, when at last she 
rose with a grace born of her own charming na- 
ture, and once more faced the audience, the 
house became hushed and breathless, and all 
seemed suddenly imbued with a spirit of expec- 
tancy. But, looking pleased and happy as a 
child, she simply made a graceful salutation, 
then smiling and bowing her thanks right and 
left, resumed her seat, while another storm of 
applause, even more deafening than the first, 
burst forth, and did not cease until Principal 
Cordell rose, and at her request asked to be ex- 
cused. But the capture was complete. 

It was evident that Euth was deeply affected 
by this demonstration of the audience — this trib- 
ute paid to her splendid genius, and in this hour 
of her triumph, while the plaudits of the people 
were ringing in her ears, she could not still her 
heart, beating its tumultuous song of joy. Ah, 
there are so few who can withstand the pressure 
of public applause — that incentive, whose force 
can be judged only by those who have experi- 
enced it. But there was little danger that Ruth 
would be spoiled by this generous tribute paid to 
her genius, a genius which she appreciated as a 
heaven-born gift, to be used for a noble purpose, 
and consecrated to the service of the Great 
Giver who bestowed it. 

Before the echo of applause had quite died 
away, Agnes turned to Carl, her sweet face 
glowing. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 355 



u 



Oh, isn't she superb, glorious. I could not 
have wished her to have done better ; and who 
would have thought it of sensitive, shrinking 
Ruth Arnold. I long to get to her and congrat- 
ulate her — embrace her. Cousin Helen, don't 
you feel proud of Ruth to-night ? " she went on, 
enthusiastically, turning to Mrs. Grayson. 

But Mrs. Grayson could only smile and bow ; 
she could not trust her voice, for her emotion 
almost overpowered her. Then Agnes' eyes trav- 
eled back to Ruth, and she saw that the beautiful 
singer was looking — not at them, but beyond 
them, across the sea of faces, as though some 
strange, subtle force claimed and compelled her 
gaze. For a full minute her eyes were fixed upon 
one spot, in a remote part of the room, while her 
face shone with a beautiful light; and, all of a 
sudden it came to Agnes, why, and for whose sake 
Ruth had sung her very soul out, as it were, in 
a tide of melody beyond all praise, and thrown 
the spell of her wonderful power over that vast 
audience. She knew now why that sudden start 
and inspiration when she had made sure she 
would fail — knew now why she had sung so 
divinely, and as she had never heard her sing 
before. She turned and looked at Carl, and as 
their eyes met, involuntarily they both smiled, 
and he plainly read in her expressive face what 
her lips would have uttered but for the time and 
l^lace. 

The commencement week was a succession of 
bright days, each one more beautiful and fuller 
of attraction than the last. There was, however, 
a feeling of genuine disappointment among the 
large audience Saturday evening when it became 
known that Miss Shelburne would not appear in 



356 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

one of her artistic impersonations; but^the gen- 
eral excellence of her class, and the announce- 
ment that she would appear on several other oc- 
casions during the commenceaient exercises, 
somewhat reconciled the audience to their dis- 
appointment that evening. 

On Sunday morning the preliminary services 
were conducted by the pastor and Bishop of the 
Moravian church, and the music was unusually 

fine. 

The Orchestra and part of the Philharmonic 
Society, assisted the regular church choir, and 
w-as directed by Professor Schumann. "The 
Haydn's are Telling,'' a chorus from Haydn's 
Oratoria, "The Creation," was rendered with 
beautiful effect. Then Miss Maitland, the teacher 
of vocal music in the Academy, sang at this 
morning service, " Forever with the Lord," and 
her strong voice, rich in melody, filled the beau- 
tiful auditorium. 

After the opening service. Principal Cordell 

rose and introduced Rev. Dr. M , of Virginia, 

who preached the Baccalaurate Sermon from 
Proverbs xxxi. 30, " Favor is deceitful and beauty 
is vain, but a woman that f eareth the Lord shall 
be praised." 

The minister was yet a young man. of hand- 
some appearance and gentle and persuasive in 
his manner. His sermon was more in the style 
of confidential advice to the young ladies, but 
was rich in thought and exquisitely clothed in 
classic language. He was eloquent without at- 
tempting oratory, and a more beautiful and ap- 
propriate baccalaureate sermon was never heard 
within the walls of that ancient Moravian church. 
His impressive words crystallized themselves in 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 357 

the memory of his hearers, and from the begin- 
ning of the sermon until his closing sentence, 
the large audience was held spell-bound. 

Agnes and Carl sat in the gallery that morn- 
ing; and as they listened to the minister's impres- 
sive discourse, and looked down on the sweet 
girl graduates in their pretty costumes, on the 
platform, they could not help thinking how ap- 
propriate and well-chosen were the speaker's 
words; and Agnes knew that much he said was 
especially applicable to Ruth, for, in addition to 
being young and beautiful, she had the sweet 
dignity and grace of a pure and lovely Christian 
character. 

That evening Agnes returned with the Gray- 
sons to the evening service, which was a very 
beautiful one, and she particularly enjoyed the 
excellent music, and exquisite rendering by the 
choir of ' ' Unfold ye Portals Everlasting, ' ' from 
Gounod's Redemption. The service was con- 
ducted by the beloved Moravian Bishop. 

When the doxology and benediction were con- 
cluded, and the congregation turned to quit the 
church, the Gray sons vv^aited a few minutes to 
speak with Ruth, who, as soon as she saw them 
approaching, came to the front of the platform 
to meet them. There was an indefinable expres- 
sion of peace and calm repose on her lovely face, 
and her splendid eyes shone with a radiance that 
was almost unearthly. 

After Dr. Leslie and Mrs. Grayson had greeted 
her, Agnes said, smiling up into her face, "We'll 
not detain you long, darling; for I'm sure you 
are tired, but we merely want to speak to your 
just for the pleasure of it; and then I wanted to 
tell you," lowering her voice, " that I'm entirely 



358 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

disabused of some erroneous impressions with 
regard to your commencement. I had fancied 
that I should be bored to death ; you know com- 
mencements, as a rule, are so wearisome; but, 
so far, I'm most agreeably surprised — delighted 
with all I've seen and heard. I assure you I'm 
not coming through any sense of duty, or affect- 
ing an interest I do not feel, but simply because 
it is a genuine refreshment to come, and I enjoy 
it. Now, I'm going to say good-night; don't 
talk; save your voice — " she put up her hand 
with a protesting gesture, then throwing her a 
kiss from the tips of her fingers with a charming 
grace, she sHpped her hand through CarPs arm 
as he came up at that moment, and moved away, 
compelling him to accompany her, while Dr. 
Leslie and Mrs. Grayson waited to bid Ruth 
good -night, and then turned and followed Agnes 
and Carl down the aisle and out of the church. 

The center of attraction on Tuesday afternoon 
was the art and industrial exhibit in the Acad- 
emy chapel. The doors were thrown open at 
two o'clock, and from then until five the chapel 
was thronged with friends of the institution. 
Reunion of old friends, young ladies breathing 
the air of freedom once more, meeting of old as- 
sociates, fathers, mothers and other relatives, 
were some of the scenes and events that made 
the afternoon memorable to many who assem- 
bled there, and all meeting together with that 
delightful informality which made the occasion 
such an enjoyable one. The exhibit was really 
an attraction worth making an effort to see. 
Painting pictures in water-colors and oil, crayon - 
work, dainty bits of embroidery, elegant house 
decorative work, specimens of bookkeeping and 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 359 

stenography; and on a table, apart from other 
exhibits, were tempting morsels of food prepared 
by the school-girls; on another the exhibit 
from the sewing and dressmaking department, 
showing that the value of practical education 
was appreciated, and in this, as all other re- 
spects, the famous old institution was bravely 
keeping abreast with the progressive era. 

Indeed, the specimens of work from every de- 
partment, including specimens of statuary and 
sculpture as well, were all most artistically ar- 
ranged about the room, amid a profusion of 
flowers, palms and evergreens, and the beautiful 
display evidenced the fact that the more elegant 
accomplishments were not taught to the neglect 
of the practical side of the institution, which 
was as finely displayed, and elicited much favor- 
able comment from the visitors. 

There was also a class reunion on this day. 
When the class of '89, composed of twenty-four 
young ladies, parted company at the Academy, 
there was an understanding that they should 
meet in reunion at this present commencement. 
Of the twenty-four, thirteen of the number as- 
sembled in one of the class rooms and held their 
happy meeting. Six of the Southern States were 
represented at this reunion — from the Lone Star 
State on the Gulf, to the Old Dominion touching 
the bright waters of the Chesapeake. 

The president appointed at this meeting, de- 
cided to hold their next reunion during the com- 
mencement of '99. After the business meeting. 

Bishop R and Principal Cordell and two 

press representatives joined the class in partak- 
ing of refreshments. Then, in a few appropriate 
remarks. Principal Cordell congratulated the class 



360 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

upon their happy reunion, and said he beheved 
it would mark a new era in the history of the 
Alumnae work. 

Bishop R. followed and expressed his pleasure 
at the interest the young ladies were taking in 
the school, and hoped that they would all return 
to the next meeting. 

After this, the president declared the reunion 
at an end, thus closing one of the pleasantest 
events of commencements, at least to a small 
circle. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 361 



CHAPTER XXXV. 



The evening was charming and the wind fresh, 
just breeze enough to make it dehghtful. 

Mrs. Grayson and Carl were standing on the 
veranda waiting for Agnes, who for some reason 
had put off making her toilet until the last mo- 
ment. Presently Dr. Leslie made his opportune 
appearance, and the next moment Agnes' merry 
voice sounded down the broad stairway, asking 
Julia for her Cousin Helen. 

As she came out on the veranda, Carl turned 
round to make some playful remark as usual 
about detaining them, but as soon as he caught 
sight of her, he paused, whistled softly to him- 
self, then went forward to meet her, holding out 
his hand. 

• ' Pray tell me, fair Cousin mine, where you 
intend holding court this evening ? " he asked 
gayly, surveying her from head to foot. ' ' You 
are positively radiant in that bewitching cos- 
tume — a picture fit for an artist. If I were 
heart whole and fancy free, I do not know but I 
should bow a willing captive at your shrine my- 
self." 

'' Keep your compliments and declarations of 
love for some silly miss, who has more faith in 
their sincerity than I have," she said, laughing. 
" However, I'll allow you to admire my costume 
as you take us to the carriage." 

The dress she wore was a perfectly delicious 
shell-pink — a color to make one dream of the 
ethereal clouds and the dawn — of rich, sheeny 
satin, made severely plain in the front, with a 
baby bodice and wide sash of the same material 

24- 



362 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

as the dress, and trimmed in filmy lace. Her 
opera cloak, which was thrown carelessly half 
around her snowy shoulders, was of rich white 
silk, exquisitely embroidered on the border in 
dainty sea-shell designs, and trimmed in long- 
fringe and had a jewelled clasp. 

"And so you've changed your mind again and 
decided to go to Mrs. Hilton's after the concert," 
said Dr. Leslie, smiling and glancing at the even- 
ing dress. 

" Oh, I intended going all along." she an- 
swered, as he handed her into the carriage. " I 
dare say it will be a very pleasant affair," then, 
laughing pleasantly, she said: 

" I verily believe, Cousin Ralph, you think 
I'm as tickle as the wind." 

"No, indeed; I entertain no such opinion of 
you, my dear," he said; " neither do I endorse 
the saying as applied to your sex in general. 
But, it is not what people think we are, whether 
good, bad or indifferent, but what we really are 
that is all-important. They may misunderstand 
and criticise, they may flatter and overrate us ; 
but opinion is one thing and truth is another, 
you know." 

' ' Yes, yes ; I see the force of your reasoning ; 
but never mind, let others say what they will 
and act as they will, I'm sure you'll always be 
courteous and loyal to us," she said, placing her 
hand over his and giving him a look which meant 
more than words. 

" ' Because most of their faults women owe to 
men; and for most of your virtues we men are 
indebted to women, ' so said a noted divine re- 
cently," he answered, smiling. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 363 

Agnes was about to reply, when Carl turned 
quickly and repeated to her with a teasing smile, 

" To thine own self be true. 
And it must follow as the night the day, 
Thou canst not then be false to any man." 

Agnes shrugged her shoulders. 

' ' Hush ! Cousin Helen, I wish you would 
please call Carl to order. It will be a great kind- 
ness to me. I believe he takes a secret pleasure 
in victimizing me. " 

Mrs. Grayson smiled indulgently, and Agnes, 
with a reproachful glance at Carl, but the next 
instant, unable longer to restrain herself, burst 
into a merry peal of laughter, musical as the 
tinkle of a silver bell. 

After that she was as full of prattle as a child, 
which she kept up almost uninterruptedly — for 
Nellie, of her own accord, had remained at home — 
until they disembarked before the Moravian 
church, and where, upon being ushered into the 
brilliantly-lighted auditorium, they found it was 
already filling rapidly. 

" I think I should like to occupy a seat over 
there to the left, with the representatives of the 
press, " said Agnes, flashing a glance in the direc- 
tion, as they took their seats in front of the plat- 
form. "I fancy it is the best point of view to 
watch the people as they come in." 

' ' I'll try to get you a seat up there with them, ' ' 
returned Carl, laughing, '* if you'll agree to per- 
form the work they do, and as well. But it is 
not all sight-seeing with them, and they are not 
having such an easy time of it as you might sup- 
pose. It's work — work. Now, do you think you'd 
like to undertake the job to get a little experi- 
ence ? ' ' 



364 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 



a 



Yes, certainly ; and I should expect my re- 
ward, too," she answered, with a bright smile. 
" I believe in conceding to every man, and wo- 
man, too, that which you ask for yourself — fair 
remuneration for his or her labor. ' ' 

" Then it would be a selfish motive, or self- 
interest after all that prompted you. like the rest 
of us ? " he said, still laughing. 

She lifted her eyebrows, interrogatively. 

" Why, of course. I don't fancy any one works 
just for the amusement of the thing; and I 
shouldn't do it either, not if I had the reputed 
riches of Croesus. If the laborer is worthy of his 
hire, then by all means let him be paid, and to 
the very last farthing," 

" What are you and Carl disputing about, my 
dearV" 

"Nothing much, Cousin Helen," she said; 
" nothing but nonsense." 

But she repeated, in substance, their conversa- 
tion, then began talking about Ruth — the all- 
important subject of her graduating. At the 
same time they became conscious that some one 
else was discussing her, too — strangers no doubt, 
at least to them, for they gossiped with more 
freedom than discretion; and though the Gray- 
sons tried not to hear, it was impossible to avoid 
it without changing their seats. On account of 
their position they could not see the speakers 
without turning directly around, and this Agnes 
felt strongly tempted to do several times, even 
at the risk of sacrificing conventional restraint 
and propriety to gratify a pardonable curiosity. 

The speakers went on with their gossip. 

'*• She's a beauty, no question about that; and 
might marry a lord or prince, if the lord or 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 305 

prince were only available, but, as it seems they 
are not, it is said slie'U be tolerably sure to marry 
young Grayson, who is recently back from Eu- 
rope, and a nephew of Dr. Leslie. Very natural 
to suppose so. Young Grayson is rich, has ex- 
pectations, and brains enough to take care of 
her in the event his bank account fails or is 
cut short; and 'tis said he's not at all bad look- 
ing. The girls seems to like him.'" 

" Did you ever see him ? '' a lisping voice — a 
woman's voice asked. 

" Guess I never did,'' came the answer from 
the first speaker, in a man's voice, " or perhaps 
1 should know whether his good looks were 
overrated." 

There was a suppressed titter, and then a 
second female voice asked in a sneering tone, 
" But what about her bank account and her ex- 
pectations ? I imagine it's a rather one-sided 
affair from a financial point of view, and, per- 
haps, a social one, too; who knows?" 

'' Oh, of course the Graysons' approval and 
patronage will give her prestige if she's as poor 
as a church mouse. But her beauty and genius 
more than counterbalance all that young Gray- 
son's money, with his good looks, and expecta- 
tions and accomplishments thrown in, ' ' said the 
lisping voice, laughing softly. 

" I don't know about that.'' replied the first 
speaker. " Beauty and genius, and all that sort 
of thing, are well enough in their way, but the 
glitter of gold has the strongest glamour. The 
world over, there is a reverence paid to the owner 
who shows the gleam of the yellow coin that is 
not shown to your ' poor church mouse.' " 

Hush, I don't believe it; I won't believe it," 



a 



366 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

returned the lisping voice, "everybody is not 
mean and mercenary, because — " 

" Oh, no; I didn't say they were," interrupted 
the first speaker, "' and I wouldn't have you be- 
lieve it — good and evil run along aside in this 
world. But take my word for it, when you've 
had a little more of this old world's experience, 
and learned a little more about human nature, 
you'll be pretty sure to acknowledge the truth of 
the assertion I've just made. I can only hope 
that you maybe disappointed, " concluded the 
speaker, with a slightly sarcastic emphasis. 

Agnes glanced at Mrs. Grayson and Dr. Leshe, 
to see if they had heard; but they were talking 
in a low tone to one another, and seemed deter- 
mined not to hear the gossip going on behind 
them. Then she looked at Carl whose face had 
reddened from annoyance and disgust she knew, 
though with inimitable good nature, he pre- 
served, at all events, a surface calm and com- 
posure. 

He took out his note-book and pencil and 
handed it to her. " Now is your opportunity to 
do some reportorial work if you like, ' ' he said, 
smiling. "Items and incidents are not lacking." 

' ' Noblesse oblige, ' ' she said, with a low, sil- 
very laugh, her whole face twinkling with fun, 
as she accepted the book and pencil, then wrote 
a few hurried lines in French, and handed it 
back to him. He smiled as he read the penciled 
lines, which he translated thus : 

' ' Who are those people in our rear ? Their 
criticisms, if not very flattering, are certainly 
eminently amusing. I wonder if it would make 
them very uncomfortable if they knew their poor 
victims were so near by a ad had unavoidably 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 367 

overheard what was not intended for their ears. 
I have a fancy of letting them know of our prox- 
imity. It would serve them right, and, perhaps, 
teach them to be a little more careful in the fu- 
ture when and where to discuss their neighbor 
and his belongings. ' ' 

After he had read it, he closed the book and 
returned it to his pocket, then with a smiling 
glance sidewise over his shoulder, said, " I'm 
quite sure I have not the honor of their acquaint- 
ance. ' ' 

Almost at the same time Priacipal Cordell rose 
to make some remark ; they turned to listen, and 
no one in the Gray sons' seat was sorry that the 
evening entertainment was about to begin. 

Ten days after this event Dr. Leslie, Carl and 
Agnes went to the State University to attend the 
commencement, and soon after their return, Mrs. 
Grayson announced her intention of going to 
Morehead. Dr. Leslie had professional engage- 
ments that detained him at home, but when these 
were discharged he would follow them for a two 
weeks' holiday down by the seashore. 



3(58 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 



CHAPTEE XXXVI. 

It was a brilliant morning in June, full of 
warmth and sunshine, the birds singing, the air 
sweet with the mingled scents of flowers, and 
the trees in their full summer foliage. 

The Gray sons were going to the seashore, and 
while the little party waited at the station for 
the train which was to convey them away, Ag- 
nes especially was as happy as the days were 
long, bubbling over with fun and high spirits, 
and chatted gayly with first one and then another 
of the friends who had come to bid them good- 
bye and wish them ^^ bon voyage.''^ Nellie, as 
usual, was flitting about everywhere in a restless 
and impatient fashion, and every few minutes 
asking how long before the train would be in ; 
while at the further end of the waiting-room 
Ruth stood talking to Mrs. Grayson and Dr. 
Leslie, and apparently so engrossed as to take no 
notice of what was passing around her. Pres- 
ently, however, she was attracted by a voice 
near her, a voice which sounded strangely famil- 
iar, and which she thought she recognized ; but 
at that moment she could not for her life recall 
when and where she had heard it ; and turning 
suddenly round, from some impulse she could 
not repress, she found herself face to face with 
the last person in the world she expected to see 
just then— Harry Hawleigh. 

With a flush of pleasure upon her face and the 
light of a great surprise in her eyes, she greeted 
him cordially; and while he was speaking to 
Mrs. Grayson and being introduced to her guard- 
ian, her mind traveled quickly back over the 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 369 

scenes and incidents associated with their first 
meeting in the ' ' Land of the Sky, ' ' two years 
before. 

''I hope my intrusion will be forgiven/' he 
was saying to Mrs. Grayson, "• but I only came 
in last night and intended giving myself the 
pleasure of calling to-day, but casually learned 
through some of your friends that you are leav- 
ing the city for a holiday; yet I'm very glad to 
have met you even for a few minutes." 

" It is certainly a very pleasant surprise, I as- 
sure you, ' ' said Mrs. Grayson, with a genial smile, 
" for we didn't know but that you were hun- 
dreds of miles away.'' She hesitated a moment, 
then said quietly, " I hope we will find you in 
the city on our return, Mr. Hawleigh. ' ' 

" I should enjoy nothing better, and I think it 
likely, for I hope to effect an arrangement soon 
that will result in a fulfilment of my wishes 
in this direction." 

" We will be glad to welcome you among us, 
Mr. Hawleigh,'' said Dr. Leslie, looking frankly 
into the face so bright with hope and purpose. 
Then turning to Euth, Mr. Hawleigh said : 

" Well, I don't fancy. Miss Arnold, that you 
are going to the seashore health seeking ; if so, 
outward appearances are very deceptive." 

' ' No, not exactly, ' ' she returned, looking up 
into his face with that wonderful smile he had 
not forgotten, "■ but Mrs. Grayson's health needs 
recuperating, and we hope very much the salt 
air will do her good. ' ' 

" We shall expect you down very soon," were 
Mrs. Grayson's parting words to her brother, as 
he bade them good-bye. " I'm afraid you'll find 
it very lonely without us, and all by yourself. 



370 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

too," she added, and Dr. Leslie thought the 
same, as he stood upon the platform at the sta- 
tion a minute later and watched the train glide 
past him; and, catching a glimpse of a sweet 
face at the car window — a face fairer and dearer 
to him than all others — he raised his hat above 
the heads of the moving throng and bowed 
gracefully. 

Meanwhile, as the train on which the Gray sons 
had departed swiftly sped on its way over the 
short railway line dividing the city they were 
leaving behind and the one to which they were 
hastening, Ruth scarcely spoke, but Agnes and 
Carl had kept up such an incessant bantering 
and fusilading one another, that Ruth's silence 
was not commented upon. 

" Well here we are for au hour or more," said 
Carl, as the}^ descended from the platform of the 
car at Greensboro, where they were to be de- 
tained for one hour, and made their way to the 
waiting-room, 

'' An hour! " ejaculated Agnes. "• If there is 
one thing more than another that bores me to 
death, it is stopping over at a strange place, and 
waiting for a next train. ' ' 

" Not if you have pleasant company ? " said 
Carl, laughing. 

' ' Oh, it makes no difference ; the fact remains 
the same. We have to wait. ' ' 

' ' But suppose we could find something to do 
to kill time? " he asked, smiling in a way that 
implied a suggestion. 

Agnes looked up quickly, her eyes questioning. 

" I have an idea. I was going to suggest — " ; 
he paused and looked at his mother, smiling, and 
Agnes asked hurriedly: 

'' What ? Why don't you tell me ? " 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 371 



i k 



I was going to suggest that we get a con- 
veyance and drive out to see the Guilford Battle 
Ground. It is about four or five miles north of 
the city, is reached by a first-rate road, and with 
a good team I think we can easily make the dis- 
tance and return while we are waiting for the 
next train." 

' ' Surely you are not in earnest, Carl ? ' ' inter- 
posed Mrs. Grayson. " Don't think of such a 
thing. I'm sure you'll not have time to go and 
return before the train comes in. Of course I 
shouldn't think of going on without you two; 
and to stay over until to-morrow, in the event 
you were left, would rather upset our present 
arrangements. ' ' 

" Oh, I'm going, too, Mamma," cried Nellie, 
" if Carl and Cousin Agnes go. Where are they 
going ? ' ' 

"• That's what we didn't intend for you to 
know, Nell." Carl said, quietly. 

'' Certainly, we won't think about going, 
Cousin Helen, if you think best for us not to," 
returned Agnes, with a graceful good -nature. 
' ' Yes, it would be decidedly awkward to get left, 
I think myself." 

' ' You know you can go some other time, my 
dear," said Mrs. Grayson, encouragingly. " You 
wouldn't have time to do more than drive there 
and back were you to go now; and if yoa'll wait 
and make a special visit to the place and spend 
several hours, I think you will enjoy it much 
more and feel repaid for doing so. Now, don't 
you think that is the best plan V " 

"I do. indeed. Cousin Helen," said Agnes, 
warmly. •• ' But tell me, ' ' she went on in an ap- 
pealing tone, " what is there so attractive about 



372 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

the place outside of its historic interest ? Of 
course I know as a fact of history that this bat- 
tle-ground was the site of the memorable 'Battle 
of Guilford Court House,' fought between the 
American forces under General Green and those 
of the British under Lord Corawallis — on — on, 
oh, fiel I don't remember when. I never could 
remember dates." 

" It was on the 15th of March, 17S1, httle 
Cousin,"' interrupted Carl. " I do believe you 
would forget the date of your wedding day. 

"Yes, unquestionably,'" she said, shrugging 
her shoulders. " But that is a matter of supreme 
indifference to me at this moment. I am more 
interested in this battle-ground just now. Do 
keep quiet and let Cousin Helen tell me about it. 
If you don't wish to hear, I'll excuse you." 

" Thanks, I'll accept your dismissal and go 
out and have a smoke," he said, rising and mov- 
ing away. Nellie sprang up and followed him. 
Agnes looked after his retreating figure with a 
little amusement in her bright eyes ; then turn- 
ing to Mrs. Grayson, said : 

" Please go on. Cousin Helen. Ruth and I are 
ready to listen." 

" Well, I can't do more than briefly outline 
some of the facts,'" said Mrs. Grayson. ''As you 
know, or rather as Ruth knows, since she is of 
course better acquainted with recent North Car- 
olina history than you are, my dear, some years 
ago a stock company was formed, styled the 
Guilford Battle Ground Company— and this stock 
company is composed of some of the most prom- 
inent North Carolina gentlemen — for the benev- 
olent purpose of preserving and adorning the 
grounds on and over which the Battle of Guil- 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 373 

ford Court House was fought, and erect thereon 
monuments, tombstones and other memorials to 
commemorate the heroic deeds of the American 
patriots who participated in this battle for liberty 
and independence. The purchase of the land was 
attended with great difficulty, for some of the 
heirs were so scattered that it was difficult to ob- 
tain deeds from them all. Well, the company 
has erected a handsome cottage, in a beautiful 
white-ash grove, about two hundred feet from 
the railway and highway. The house is taste- 
fully painted and presents a very attractive ap- 
pearance. There is a keeper always present to 
wait on visitors and give them information. 

" Somewhere on the grounds there is a beau- 
tiful polished blue marble block two feet square, 
with a circular basin in the centre, which forms 
a spring. The adornment of this spring was the 
generous work of Mr. W. P. Clye, of New Yoi'k 
City, whose name it bears. 

' ' The Leonidas Springs are close by, with their 
twin bowls of gushing freestone water, and so 
called for Mr. W. Leonidas, a retired merchant 
of Philadelphia, 

" The quaint old sandstone monument, after 
the fashion of 1820, which was placed over the 
remains of Brigadier- General John Sumner, of 
Warren County, has been removed by the State 
to the battlefield, and under it now lies all that is 
left of the brave and skilled officer, who led the 
North Carolinians in the bloody charge at Euta w 
Springs. The monument is quite attractive and 
easily seen from all parts of the field. 

' ' Then there are other handsome monuments, 
a large paviMon and band-stand; a museum con- 
taining relics of the Revolutionary War; and 



374 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

many improvements about the beautiful grounds. 
Of course it will have a celebrity while the his- 
tory of the Revolution is remembered; but one 
seeing it to-day would never imagine that it was 
once the scene of carnage. During the summer 
season, it is a great resort for picnic parties 
and — " 

" Is this the only place of note in or near the 
city ? ' ' interrupted Agnes, with an impatience 
she could not quell betraying itself through 
her interest. 

" By no means/' returned Mrs. Grayson, with 
emphasis. ' ' In the first place, I would say that 
it is specially noted for the intelligence and cul- 
ture of its people, and its many churches and 
fine schools. One of the oldest of these is the 
G-refensboro Female College, a most excellent in- 
stitution of learning ; several fine graded schools 
for both white and colored; two colored high 
schools; and last, but by no means least, the 
State Normal and Industrial College, recently 
established, but which, by reason of its superior 
management in the beginning and up to the 
present time, has already come to the front as 
one of the very finest schools in the South. It 
has accomlishepd in results all that has been ex- 
pected of it, and because of its wide-awake and 
progressive spirit, will reflect still greater honor 
upon the State. And again, Greensboro being 
the greatest railway centre in the State, is no 
doubt, destined to be one of the largest, if not 
the largest city in the State. It certainly con- 
tains the best elements for a great city— it has 
a good deal of capital, a great amount of enter- 
prise, and even now is a very thriving, hand- 
some place. The Southern Finishing Mills near 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 375 

by and the great cotton mills at Proximity, 
which, by the way, is quite a little village, fur- 
nish remunerative employment for a very large 
number of deserving people. 

" Greensboro has long been known, too, far and 
near, as the ' City of Flowers,' because the yards 
and gardens of the citizens, in the summer sea- 
son, manifest a very refined and elegant taste in 
this respect. 

"Ah, there's our train," she added, rising; 
" we'll have to hurry. This train only stops a 
few minutes, and we must get seats together if 
we can." 

They managed to effect this arrangement by 
reaching the vestibule car before it was invaded 
by the rush of passengers from the incoming 
Northern train ; and as soon as they were seated — 
Agnes beside Mrs. Grayson, with Ruth and Carl 
fronting them, and Nellie and Julia just in their 
rear — Agnes began chatting in her usual happy, 
gleeful way, about one of Mrs. Grayson's friends 
whom they had met at the station. 

"How I do like Miss Goldsmith; she is so 
pleasant and jolly. I can't think of her as being 
an old maid. The very idea! What a pity she's 
deprived some estimable man of a good wife." 

Carl threw his head back and laughed. 

" Look here, Agnes, that won't begin to do. A 
few minutes before, to Miss Goldsmith's face, you 
were endorsing her for wearing the easy yoke of 
maidenhood, and now, presto! as soon as she's 
vanished, you are ready to put upon her the 
shackles of matrimony; oh, consistency, consis- 
tency! thou art — " 

"Hush! cynic," she said, giving her head a 
little toss. " I wasn't talking to you, but to 
Cousin Helen." 



376 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 



( ( 



All right : but from the bottom of my heart 
I declare I'm not a cynic, for I assure you, my 
dear Cousin, I entertain no morose and contempt- 
uous views and tenets on human nature. Your 
real cynic has the qualities of a surly dog; he 
snarles and is captious, but, positively, I"m not*" ; 
and with that he turned to Ruth and began an 
animated conversation with her. 

The deference he always paid to Ruth was very 
different from that which he paid to his gay and 
pretty cousin. 

On the verv first dav of his arrival home, and 
he had looked into the marvelously beautiful 
face of Ruth Arnold, a strange, sharp thrill shot 
through his heart — a thrill of mingled bhss and 
pain — bliss because he felt that she was his ideal 
conception of a perfect woman, just the woman 
he could love with the whole wealth of his ar- 
dent, generous natui'e; pain because he knew 
that she could be nothing to him, yea, less than 
nothing in the way he would have desired. Stay- 
ing under the same roof with her, of course he 
was compelled to meet her constantly and at 
every turn; and yet, knowing his weakness, he 
never sought to evade any meeting with her 
when it came. 

He laughed and talked with her, he enjoyed 
listening to her sweet voice, sometimes walked 
with her. and more than once when he looked 
into the wonderful depths of her dark, wistful 
eyes, that peculiar haunting sadness made his 
heart throb quicker, while it threatened to en- 
slave him. Yet, whenever his heart beat the 
faster under the spell of her presence, he sub- 
dued it with a will so strong and masterful 
that no one — and least of all, Ruth herself — 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 377 

guessed his momentary weakness. He knew 
what was due his uncle, due Ruth, and due him- 
self. He would as soon Have thought of hand- 
ling a viper as to try to win a love which was 
pledged to another, and which, so far as he was 
concerned, he knew would only end in failure, 
and bring to him humiliation and the bitterness 
of unavailing remorse. But after all he had a 
human heart — a heart so human that its pas- 
sionate impulses would not always yield to the 
dictates of his stern will. 

His safest course would have been, under the 
circumstances, to fly from the fascinating dan- 
ger while there was yet time. But he tacitly 
resented the bare suspicion that there was dan- 
ger for him, and over and over again he would 
dismiss all apprehension and assure himself that 
in spite of everything he would wear an armor 
so strong that he would be proof against the 
wonderful charms and fascinations of even Ruth 
Arnold. 

But as he talked to her now in his usual grace- 
ful nonchalance of tone and manner, which sug- 
gested nothing more than a sincere friendship, 
and looked down into her perfect face, and listened 
to her perfect voice, her very words seemed to set 
themselves to the tender vibrations of his heart. 
And for a moment "what might have been" 
was brilliantly before his yearning gaze. Oh, it 
is so hard for joyous youth to draw the circum- 
ference of its loves and bouyant hopes, and give 
up the beautiful love-dreams of Ufe. But then — 

" Love is ever busy with his shuttle; 
Is ever weaving into life's dull warp 
Bright, gorgeous flowers, and scenes Arcadian." 



25 



378 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

Yes, it was to be renunciation, he said to him- 
self ; that renunciation with which our hves are 
said to begin ; and he would be strong. 

At Durham, Agnes turned from the car win- 
dow, out of which she was gazing and asked, 
" Is this Raleigh, the State capital ? " 

" No." answered Carl. " By-the-way. I'll let 
you make a guess what place it is — but before 
you make the attempt I'll give you a clue if 
you'll come with me out on the rear platform of 
the car; won't you and mother come too, Ruth ?" 
he asked, rising, and glancing from one to the 
other. " Perhaps you would like to see some- 
thing I wish to show Agnes ? " 

"Yes, all come,"' said Ruth; but Mrs. Gray- 
son excused herself, and as the three went out 
on the platform, Carl pointed to a large picture 
on a splendid brick structure which they had 
just passed, near the railway, and asked: 

" Have you any recollection of ever seeing 
anything like that before, Agnes ? ' " She looked 
quickly in the direction indicated, and instantly 
her eyes kindled with a surprise that was amus- 
ing to see. 

"Why, of course — over in Europe — we saw that 
flaming advertisement everywhere. Can it be ? 
And so this is Durham! Don't 3^ou remember 
that Englishman tauntingly asking you one day 
on the train, on your calling his attention to a 
similar sign," nodding her head toward it, " if 
Durham were so large as London ? I do, aud I 
remember the anwser you gave him, too — an 
answer that made me feel proud that we were 
Americans. And I suppose those other build- 
ings over there are factories, too?" she said, 
waving her fan toward a number of handsome 
brick buildings. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 379 

"Most of them — yes." Then added, "Dur- 
ham is one of the best advertised towns in the 
State. It is a city of great wealth and enterprise, 
too." 

A httle later, when they reached Raleigh, the 
conversation changed into another channel and 
became general. 

"This is the 'City of Oaks,' Agnes," said 
Ruth, just as the train came to a standstill. 

"And what is it famous for ? " she asked, with 
a humorous twinkle in her eyes, glancing at 
Carl. " You seem to have your State's history 
in detail at your finger's ends. " Then she turned 
to the window and tried to see out, but a freight 
car stood on the track and obstructed the view. 

" For its exceedingly beautiful and lovely wo- 
men, gallant men, and charming climate," Carl 
answered promptly, before Ruth had time to 
respond. 

" And you should have added, its culture, and 
its refined hospitality," said Mrs. (rrayson, " to 
say nothing of its conservative business enter- 
prises. You know, my dear," she continund to 
Agnes, " that the city is named in honor of the 
most ao^fjomplished scholar and soldier of Queen 
Elizabeth's time. Sir Walter Raleigh, who was 
first to send an English Colouy to the New 
World. The streets of the city are regularly laid 
out, and are shaded with such magnificent na- 
tive oaks, that it is vei-y appropriately called the 
' City of Oaks. ' Besides many handsome resi- 
dences here, there are a number of magnifi.cent 
public buildings and institutions of noble chari- 
ties in full operation." 

At Goldsboro, that pretty city so noted for its 
important industry of truck farming, there was 



380 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

another change of cars. Hov^ever, they were 
not detained here very long. 

The train sped swiftly on its way, leaving the 
beautiful hills and valleys further and further 
behind, past pretty towns and villages, thun- 
dered through dark covered bridges, flew across 
freshly cut wheat-fields, where the yellow shocks 
were taking on a deeper gold in the hot rays of 
the meridian sun. 

Agnes, who was sitting beside the window 
looking out, turned suddenly round as the train 
stopped, at that moment, and said, " Well, this 
must be Wilmington, isn't it ? '" 

A curious amused look came over Carl's face. 
" If I didn't think you were jesting, I might be 
surprised," he answered, teasingly, " Wilming- 
ton, you know, or ought to know, is down on 
the coast, and one of the largest and most im- 
portant cities in North Carolina. " This is New- 
bern, one of the oldest towns in the United 
States. It was here the seat of government was 
first located, and Governor Tryon built his pal- 
ace, then the finest edifice of the kind on the 
American continent." 

"No? Really?" Agnes asked, appealing to 
Ruth. " Remember, I can't forget that Carl is 
a genuine North Carolinian, and likes to mag- 
nify his State." 

'•Yes, indeed, it is true, '' Ruth answered, 
laughing. " You should know this much as a 
J natter of history. ' ' 

" Well, I didn't,'' Agnes confessed candidly. 
" I'm not up in your State's history as you and 
Carl are. And on what river is this city ? " she 
continued, turning to the window again. 

"There are two," he said, " the Neuse and the 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 381 

Trent. That is the Neuse over there forming the 
eastern boundary, and the Trent, the southern 
boundary. You can see very httle of the city from 
hjre. It is beautifully laid off. handsomely built 
and well shaded ; and I can tell you something 
else about it. Some of tlie most prominent and 
leading men in the State can trace their origin 
from this city. Then, there are the great truck 
farms, the most famous in the South, and — '" 

Agnes iuterrupted him with a wave of her 
hand. 

' ' Delightful Newbern 1 Happy Ne vvbernians ! ' ' 
she said, gayly. '' Mind you don't make me so 
much in love with the place I'll not want to re- 
turn to the beautiful Piedmont, the home cf my 
forefathers. ' ' 

"See, there comes a steamer," said Ruth, 
looking in the direction of a large vessel, which 
was yet some distance off, puffing clouds of 
smoke up against the sky. ''I wonder where 
she is from '? ' " 

" Can't tell at this distance," said Carl. "Ah, 
the time's up — the train is moving. I wish we 
could have seen that steamer come up to her 
dock." 

" Yes, so do I," returned Agnes, then relapsed 
into silence. 

xlfter a time the train slowly slackened up in 
front of the Atlantic Hotel at Morehead. For 
some cause it was three-quarters of an hour be- 
hind the regular schedule time, and the long hot 
day was very near its close when they descended 
from the car and made their way toward the 
hotel. 

The last level rays of the sun left a line of 
quivering gold as it fell upon the still expanse of 



382 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES: OR, 

water which quite surrouucled the hotel building, 
and far away upon the shadowy margin of the 
sound, where a shaft of sunlight struck upon 
the wind-heaped sand hills, gleaming among the 
green marshes, the undulations of drifted mounds 
looked like miniature mountain ranges capped 
with snow. 

"And this is Moreheadl " said Agnes, as she 
and Ruth and Nellie followed Carl and Mrs. 
Grayson to the hotel, Julia bringing up the rear. 
"Well, I'm glad we're here at last. I do hope 
we shall have supper right away, for I am 
tired and hungry ; and as soon as I've done 
ample justice to the Atlantic's cuisine. I shall 
desert you all and go to bed. I should not think 
of making my initial debut here on the first 
ev^ening," she said, laughing, "and not feeling 
thoroughly rested either. What shall you do, 
darling ?' 'she asked, turning to Ruth, as they 
mounted the low steps leading upon the veranda. 

But her answer was lost amidst the gay chat- 
ter and pleasant laughter of the guests who 
thronged the double veranda of the hotel, many 
of whom had found friends and acquaintances 
amongst the new arrivals, and were greeting 
them with gracious words of w^elcome. The 
scene presented was a most animated and pic- 
turesque one, and had the effect of frankness 
and cordiality and good companionship. Some- 
where indoors an excellent band was playing, 
and the girls suddenly felt their whole musical 
natures respond to the well-remembered strains. 

The hotel, as usual at this season of the year, 
was filled with guests — health, as well as pleas- 
ure seekers, hundreds of teachers from all parts 
of the State, and many distinguished visitors 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 383 

from a distance in attendance upon the Teach- 
ers' Assembly, that splendid organization now 
holding its great annual convention here. 

While the Grayson party waited in the large 
hall-way, surrounded by a merry, bustling throng 
constantly coming and going with jest and laugh- 
ter, Carl was gone to the hotel office to get the 
keys to their rooms. When he returned he told 
them there was no need to remove their hats 
vintil after supper, but to come immediately to 
the dining-room where that meal was being 
served. 

" What, just as we are ? " Agnes exclaimed in 
amazement, throwing up her dainty hands with 
a slight gesture of impatience. "You don't 
mean it ? ' ' 

' ' Yes, of course, ' ' he said, smiling. ' ' If you're 
afraid some one will see a speck of dust on your 
face, then keep your veil down. ' ' 

" How absurd ! " she returned, pouting. "How 
many women have you ever seen eating with 
their veils drawn ? All men are just alike ; they 
can't see — . " Just then a cherry voice at Carl's 
elbow spoke to him, and turning quickly round 
he fronted a medium -sized gentleman, with 
bright eyes and genial smile, who, after Carl had 
greeted, he introduced to his mother, Ruth and 
Agnes as Colonel Howard. 

"I'm very glad to meet you, Mrs. Grayson, 
and hope you and the young ladies will be here 
during the convention. I believe you will find 
it exceedingly pleasant, for the house is full of 
very elegant and charming people." 

The large ball-room, through which they passed 
on their way to the dining-room, was artistically 
decorated, the galleries were filled with hand- 



384 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

somely dressed ladies, the band was playing a 
gay polka, while half a dozen couples, in full 
evening dress, whirled radiantly past them, 

To Nellie, who had never witnessed anything 
like this before, the scene was like a great, won- 
derful fairy-land. It was all so lovely, so incon- 
ceivably beautiful and delightful, she thought, 
that she was nearly overpowered with delight. 
She turned and looked on for an instant, and 
then clung to Carl's protecting arm, her little 
eyes twinkling and her whole face beaming witli 
happiness. 

When the meal was over, the ladies promptly 
withdrew and went to their rooms, and, not- 
withstanding Nellie's repeated entreaties to be 
allowed to spend "just a little while" in the 
parlors, under Julia's chaperonage, Mrs. Gray- 
son's firmness gently overruled her, she soon fell 
asleep, and the Graysous did not make their ap- 
pearance again until the next morning. 



TN THE NEW ELDORADO. 385 



CHAPTER XXXVII. 

Before the end of the first week of their so- 
journ at the seashore, the Graysons had become 
pretty well known. 

A rumor had been industriously circulated, 
first quietly and as confidential information — 
though why confidential one was totally at a loss 
to conjecture — that they M^ere enormously rich ; 
and, as the rumor was repeated with zest from 
mouth to mouth, it not only gained credence, 
but the bulk of the Graysons' fortune also gained 
proportionally with each repetition of the story. 

Certainly it could not be other than gratifying 
to the Graysons' what an amount of interest 
and attention they received, and all this, too, 
without arousing the least jealousy among the 
other guests. 

Thev soon found themselves overwhelmed with 
honors in the shape of invitations to almost every 
variety of seaside pastimes, but chiefly for ex- 
cursions to the many places of interest near by, 
that naturally commanded the attention of visit- 
ors. A week after their arrival at the seashore, 
quite a large party, made up of the guests at the 
Atlantic, proposed and planned an excursion to 
Fort Macon — that quaint old fort, now more or 
less ruinous, on a wave- encircled island about 
three miles distant from the hotel. 

The boats which had been provided for the 
voyage, had been made snug and comfortable 
generally, and now waited to receive their pre- 
cious freight of humanity. When it came to the 
question of sorting and pairing the guests for 
each boat, Ruth found herself allotted to Carl, 



386 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

while Agnes was paired off with Mr. Darrell, one 
of the guests at the Atlantic, and who had been 
in devoted attendance upon her ever since her 
arrival. 

" I have just been indulging in curious specu- 
lations as to whom we were to have for escorts 
and to which boat we are assigned," said Agnes, 
brightly, as Carl and Mr. Darrell come up at that 
moment to take them to the boat. 

"We are going in the Jessie Arthur,'''' said 
Carl, "■ about thirty of us, and mother is to chap- 
eron our party. The rest have akeady gone 
aboard the North State and Rattlesnake, with 
their respective chaperons, Mrs. Andrews and 
Mrs. McDaniel." 

' ' Well, that is delightful, that we are going in 
the Jessie Arthur,''^ said Agnes, with a glad look 
of surprise. "I thought the Barrington party 
went over to the beach in her this afternoon. 
Somehow I've taken a fancy to the Jessie Ar- 
th ur. ' ' 

" Well, I'm glad that question has been set- 
tled to your satisfaction, Miss Glenwood," said 
Mr. Darrell, and then added something in a dis- 
creet undertone to Agnes as they walked briskly 
away, some gaUant compliment, no doubt, for it 
?<ent a rosy flush and bright smile to her pretty 
face. 

" I thought you were to go with Miss Rose 
Spencer," said Ruth, turning to Carl. " Now, 
I'm afraid the whole afternoon's pleasure has 
been spoiled for you." 

" How ? Why so ? " he asked quickly. 

" Because I fancied you preferred to go with 
her," she answered, candidly. 

" By no means," he returned, with more em- 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 387 

Dhasis than he intended. " I would not have had 
a different arrangement, I assure you. I'm sorry, 
however, if you are disappointed? " 

Ruth looked up at him with such a lovely light 
in her dark, wistful eyes, that, for the moment, 
he felt the restraint under which he held his feel- 
ings beginning to melt away, but he struggled 
bravely with himself. Perhaps, after all, he was 
not so strong as he had thought he was. 

"Oh, not at all," she said, simply, and as they 
reached the boat, she gave him her hand, and 
with a light, graceful spring, jumped upon the 
prow of the little craft. 

Instantly half a dozen seats were offered her 
from members of the merry party, all laughing 
and talking at once in such gay confusion that she 
stood for several moments undecided what to do. 

"It's quite certain. Miss Arnold, that you 
can't accept all the seats offered you," said Mr. 
Meredith, one of the gentlemen in the far end of 
the boat, ' ' so allow me to dissuade you from ac- 
cepting any of them, and compromise the matter 
by joining us." 

"Oh, yes do —pray do ! " Came a chorus of 
voices from the same direction. 

"I suspect the truth is, Meredith, you want 
to exchange seats with some one else," said a 
voice on the opposite side of the boat. 

" Not if Miss Arnold accepts my proposition, 
he returned promptly. 

" Look here, Meredith, I should just like to 
know how it happens that you are not provided 
for, anyway, " said the same gay masculine voice. 
" Was it a matter of choice, or an oversight 
on the part of the committee of arrangements, 
that you're left out in the cold ? " 



55 



388 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

" Neither.'' he laughed. " But, unfortunately 
for me, there wasn't enough fair ixiaiclens to go 
round." Then waving his hand to Carl and 
Ruth — " A couple of seats waiting — be glad to 
have you" 

"All right, Meredith; thanks; we'll come.'" 
said Carl, answering for Ruth and himseJf, and 
he carefully guided her across the rocking boat. 

Just as it swung round in a graceful curve, 
and drifted out into the current, there came a 
slant of wind and suddenly lifted one of the gen- 
tlemen's hats from his head and bore it away, 
bobbing over the water. A chorus of feminine 
shrieks burst forth at once, while the owner ut- 
tered an expression of disgust, and despairingly 
watched , his straw chapeau set sail over the 
shimmering waves, perhaps for a foreign shore. 

"Well, I'U— " 

' ' Surrender, ' ' finished Miss Spencer, with a 
mischievous glance at the hapless owner. " You 
see, Mr Vernon, I'm a mind reader, and I know 
just what you were going to say," she said 
laughingly. 

The boat, which had been gliding swiftly over 
the foam-crested waves, with sails full set, and 
the blue waters swirling past her bows, now 
rapidly neared the coast, and in a few minutes 
the merry party disembarked upon the island, 
over which brooded a sense of loneliness and 
desolation. 

Near by was a row of small cottages, the most 
pretentious of which was occupied by the col- 
ored keeper. As the visitors approached this 
house, he came forward and received thejh cour- 
teously ; and after telling him what they wished, 
he accompanied them to the old fort. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 389 

Unlocking the heavy nail-studded door and 
passing through the broad archway, they found 
themselves in a wide passage whose walls and 
vaulted ceiling were dark with soot and coverc-d 
with cobwebs. Then the keeper turned to the 
left and led them through numerous dimly- 
lighted apartments, in many of which the brick 
and mortar had fallen away, and all were elab- 
orately draped with spider-webs. He had a bit 
of history to tell connected with every room 
through which they passed. But what most in- 
terested the visitors was the story he told about 
several distinguished Southern officers who were 
imprisoned for many months in the last tv/o 
rooms which they visited, and which were situ- 
ated in the rear of the fort. " These rooms had 
been handsomely carpeted and furnished," he 
said, " during their occupancy by these officers, 
and they were allowed to have not only the best 
of everything that could be procured for their 
physical comfort and pleasure, but were granted 
permission by the Federal officer in command to 
retain their valets to attend their wants, and 
while the sentinel restlessly paced his solitary 
beat, these favored captives ate, drank and held 
high carnival. " This story, however, lacks con- 
firmation, and the possibility of fiction about it 
is too overpowering to be literally received as an 
historical fact on mere hearsay, though the visi- 
tors received it from the intelligent keeper with 
ail the show of credulity and enthusiasm he 
could have hoped for. 

Once more out in the open air, they cautiously 
climbed up a steep stone stairs to the rampart, 
underneath which were duiigeons so dark and 
noisome that no one seemed inquisitive enough 
to explore. 



390 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

The golden glory of the afternoon sunshine 
flooded the waters. Out across the broad sea 
the snowy waves came rolling in, tossing the 
white spray high in air as they broke upon the 
outer reefs of the promontory. 

" Isn't it grand and beautiful?" said Ruth. 
She had been standing perfectly silent for the 
last five minutes, looking out over the heaving 
waters to where the sea and sky lay in a level line, 
and where rose the tower of a lighthouse, soli- 
tary and gray. 

"Yes, beautiful — very beautiful,'" Carl re- 
turned, without removing his eyes from the 
sweet face before him. and upon which he had 
been gazing with a look of intense admiration, 
instead of upon the sea. 

Euth turned to him, her face glowing with 
the glad sense of abounding life, but chei-ked 
herself abruptly, for she saw something in CarPs 
face she had never seen before, something of 
whose meaning there could be no doubt; and in- 
voluntarily she put out her hand as if to ward 
off a blow. No words could have silenced so 
well whatever lie might have longed to say as 
this gesture of protest from her; but his lace 
was smiling and his voice steady as he said: 

" I see the others have left us. What do you 
say to our exploring the old Confederate hos- 
pital ? " 

Ruth's eyes followed the direction of his ges- 
turing hand. 

" I don't see how we clearly can, through that 
tall grass." 

" Oh, easy enough. There is a sheep path 
which you cannot see from here, and we can fol- 
low that and it will bring us directly to the okl 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 391 

building. It is worth your while, I think. Do 
you care to go ? " 

"Yes, I believe I do," she said, giving him 
her hand for him to assist her down the steps. 
' ' How dreary and desolate it looks, ' ' she con- 
tinued as they wandered first through a bit of 
waist-high grass, then turned into a narrow 
sheep path which brought them to the old ruins, 
which, on a nearer approach, showed all the 
desolation of decay. 

An upper and lower veranda ran around the 
entire building, but the dilapidated condition of 
the stairway prevented their ascending to the 
upper one, where they would have had a mag- 
nificent view of the sea. As they sauntered 
round the ancient edifice and peered curiously 
through the window frames, for many years 
guiltless of glass, into the low-ceiled rooms, it 
was easy to dream one's self back a quarter of a 
century and figure the sick soldier in his narrow 
bunk filling the room with his groans, while the 
silent nurse patiently administered to his needs. 
The very sight of these crumbling chambers im- 
parted to the visitor the keenest sense of loss 
and desolation. 

Ruth sighed and turned away, when suddenly, 
from some hidden corner ol the building, came 
a peculiar noise which made her pause in a puz- 
zled silence. 

"What do you suppose it is?" she asked, 
turning to Carl 

"Ghosts," he said, a twinkle of fun in his 
eyes, which reminded her so much of a pair of 
handsome eyes she was already impatient to see, 

Ruth smiled. "The idea; but really I am 
very much perplexed." While they stood wait- 



392 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

ing three — five minutes, speculating about the 
strange noise, suddenly there came a loud crash 
in the rear of the building, and the next moment 
a flock of startled sheep rushed helter-skelter past 
them down the narrow pathway which they had 
come, and disappeared. 

Ruth gave a perceptible start, but said, smil- 
ing, " What a pity those sheep have come upon 
the scene and spoiled what might have been a 
very harmless ghost story. How Agnes would 
have enjoyed it." 

"I don't fancy so," he returned carelessly. 
*' Agnes frankly admits that she is an arrant 
coward. ' ' 

They now turned and retraced their steps, and 
as they were passing the fort Ruth stopped a 
moment and with thoughtful eyes glanced about 
her. She was paler than usual, yet it was a pal- 
lor that enhanced the delicate purity of her com- 
plexion. 

" How lovely this must be at night when the 
soft rays of the moon fall peacefully over these 
ruins — or, to put it poetically, ' when the full 
moon is threading this deserted court with sil- 
ver sandals.' I almost regret that we cannot 
remain and see the place under the enchantment 
of moonlight." 

" Have no hesitancy, I beg you, to command 
my services for a moonlight sail. Let me be 
your gondolier, Ruth," he said ardently, turn- 
ing his face to her, kindling with hope, eager- 
ness, and that something which had flashed out 
once before from under the genial brightness of 
his nature. Something in his tone, too, soft 
and tender and thrilling, made her turn sud- 
denly and look at him, and again she saw that 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 393 

look iu his eyes which, uatil to-day, she had 
heen so blind to see, so busy had her mind and 
heart been with a more engrossing subject. The 
revelation came to her with a thrill of pain in- 
stead of ecstatic joy, and for one brief moment 
she felt powerless to appeal against that silent, 
suppressed passion, which, despite all Carl's 
efforts, had leaped into his eyes, his tone and 
manner, and betrayed him. 

The smile faded from her face, and a look of 
pained regret flitted across it. 

Carl, regarding her intensely, read the 
thoughts that were passing in her mind as easily 
as those of an open book, and the next instant 
her sense of gravity appeared likewise to have 
fallen upon him. From her inner consciousness 
she tried to frame an answer— to sav somethins: 
that would not carry her seemingly beyond the 
bounds of kindness, but she remained silent and 
the speech died upon her trembling lips. 

She made a movement to withdraw her cap- 
tiv^e hand from his arm. but the next moment 
his fingers closed upon it, and almost reverently 
he carried it to his lips. Then, looking into her 
flushed face, with a sort of protecting tender- 
ness he bent toward her, still holding her throb- 
bing palm, and while inwardly struggling for 
self-mastery, said gently: 

" Ruth Arnold — Ruth, don't be afraid — trust 
me — I am indeed your friend — do not doubt it. 
It matters not hov/ deep and strong the emotion 
you have awakened in my heart — and heaven 
knows it has been a delight amounting almost 
to agony — how sensibly that emotion has in- 
creased from day to day, beyond my power of 
control, or how vividly that flame of honest, 

26 



394 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR. 

unequivocal admiration may burn, yet, I assure 
you, I would sooner perish than ask you to give 
me something warmer and better than your 
friendship- — than ask you, even in the ardor of my 
impetuosity, to be disloyal to one of the noblest 
and best of men. I do not — cannot believe that 
I wrong him or you in making this avowal 
of my hopeless love; a love which, because I 
know it is hopeless, and have knov/n from the 
very first that the end must be a requiem to me, 
I shall in time conquer. I believe there was 
sufficient occasion to call forth this confession, 
and I believe, too, that now I've made clear my 
feelings toward you, I shall be better able to re- 
sign myself to the fate which lies before me— a 
fate which will separate you from me, while I 
go out into the wide world and try to win a place 
for myself among men. Even if I had a right 
to love you, Ruth, and you did not return my 
love, I should not blame you ; and, I had almost 
said, neither would I ask you to try. Do not 
misinterpret my meaning. It is simply because 
I believe that true love makes no demands and 
is divine. I would not marry a woman unless 
she loved me, and certainly I should have to be 
swayed by the same dominant emotion, or I'm 
sure I should be miserable^ — wretched, indeed.'" 

He was silent a while, and in those few min- 
utes he had formed a decision which was fixed 
and immutable. Ruth did not answer, but 
turned and looked at him, and their eyes met. 
The cloud had cleared from his brow, and there 
were indications of strength, firmness and power 
undeiiying the almost womanly sweetness of his 
smile which she had hardly noticed before. 

" Lfisten to me, Ruth," he resumed warmly; 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 395 

" I am by uo iiieaiis a self-sacrificing saint, you 
know, but, if it please heaven, whatever the 
conflict in my breast or however much I may 
suffer, I will prove myself worthy to sustain my 
family name and honor, and always be your con- 
stant and loyal friend."' 

Ruth felt that he v/ould do as he had said, and 
she looked up at him with a smile that might 
have comforted the most disconsolate, while her 
sympathetic eyes broke through her habitual 
self-restraint. 

'• Ho^' glad I am to see you so brave and 
strong, Carl. Believe me, you will ever have 
my absolute trust and friendship, and I can't 
help believing that some day you will win a far 
better wife, who will love you and make your 
life happier than I ever could have done.'' 

As they strolled on to the boat, a ])]easant 
breeze was blowing off the shore, the waves 
washed with a musical hiss against the boat, the 
sea gleamed with snow-white flashes, and the 
smell of the salt air was delicious. 

As the boat glided merrily over the salt water, 
a quartette of gentlemen began to sing in rich 
melodious voices a livelv boat-song. In the in- 
terest of the song the ladies ceased talking and 
sat listening. Miss Raymond, a gay, fascinating 
blonde, with pretty, doll like features, leaned 
forward, gracefully posing, while the baby blue 
eyes sparkled in responsive sympathy. 

" \Yhere did you learn that V " she asked, look- 
ing straight at Carl, as the gentlemen finished 
the song. 

'' In Venice,"' he said. '' Do you like it ? "' 

" Oh, very much. It recalls many pleasant 
memories.'" 



396 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

' ' ' Love teacheth music, ' so says Plato, ' ' re- 
turned Carl significantly, smiling. 

" Yes, and 'song brings of itself a cheerfulness 
that wakes the heart to joy.' " she quoted, felic- 
itously, blushing slightly, for she thought that 
Carl's meaning involved a personal application. 

The sun was going down in a pomp of daz- 
zling glory, but by the time the}^ landed on the 
pier at Morehead the darkened bay reflected the 
radiance of a full moon, making a pathway of 
light across the dusky waters. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. L^9T 



CHAPTER XXXA'III. 



On the day following the excursion to Fort 
Macon, in the afternoon, Mis. Grayson being- 
otherwise engaged, Carl proposed that Ruth, 
Agnes and himself should go for a sail together. 

'' Yes, just we three,'' Agnes agreed, eagerly. 
" I shall be glad to vary the monotony of frivo- 
lous festivities and the crowd of faces. I find Fn) 
living at too rapid a pace ; too much activity, 
too much excitement — one's physical endurance 
must give out sometime, and mine will, I know, 
even before pleasures begin to grow stale, if I go 
on at this rate. There's Ruth, a darling, why 
she's always as bright and fresh as a morning- 
rose, and positively, I don't believe she ever has 
an uncomfortable moment — while poor me — , " 
sighing. 

'' While ' poor me ' is nothing but a butterfly, 
with nothing to do but be happy and make others 
happy. ' ' Carl laughed and finished for her. • ' I 
suspect the truth is, little Cousin, ' ' he pursued, 
" that somebody's heart has slipped away from 
her keeping — most natural thing in the world, 
you know, and that same somebody is conceal- 
ing the secret from me. Wherefore, Cousin ? 
AVhy nottellme?*' 

They were standing on the pier together wait- 
ing for Ruth, and involuntarily Carl glanced in 
the direction she was to come. 

'' You remember your promise,'' he went on, 
" to tell me all, everything, when you'd found 
your hero. Pray, who is the happy knight who 
has wooed and won my pretty cousin from me ? 
Won't you tell me — won't you trust me with his 



398 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

name? If 'muni's' the word, honestly. I'll not 
tell a living soul." 

Agnes did not answer, but looked him in the 
eyes — a look that bathed her whole face in a rose 
flush of happiness. He went toward her and 
took her hand with the familiar cousinly kind- 
ness he had growai into with her. and looked 
closer at her. 

"And, sure enough, I am right; I thought 
so," he said, dropping his bantering tone. " You 
will tell me all about it — sometime, won't you ? 
I am glad, little Cousin, if you have chosen 
wisely; and if he who has brought this new 
sweet meaning into your life is worthy of your 
love and is brave and true, I congratulate you. 
But if he is not what he should be, and should 
ever cause you a needless heartache. I would — , " 
he stopped abruptly, and a quick look of pain 
flashed across his face — "No, I won't say it; 
there are things best left unsaid. " 

His expression became very grave and reso- 
lute, but he did not know that his words pained 
her inexpressibly, and made her suddenly feel 
that her whole future was a dreary blank. 

She looked so lovely as she stood there in her 
dainty prettiness and easy grace, with the sun- 
shine touching her golden hair, that he could not 
help saying: 

'• I did not know how much I loved you until 
now, pretty Cousin; but remember, it matters 
not who claims this little hand, I shall always 
be your friend ; and should trouble ever come to 
mar your young and beautiful life, don't forget 
I'll do anything in the world I can to help you. 
I pledge you my w^ord — . ' ' 

He left the sentence unfinished, for just then 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 391) 

Ruth came up, and though Carl had been watch- 
ing his cousin closely, he neither saw nor sus- 
pected her real feelings. Not even Ruth had a 
hint of the truth. 

She and Carl imputed Agnes' unusually gay 
spirits to a very different cause altogether, than 
the real one. 

On the way to the boat, her talk was bright 
and witty and her spirit of fun so inspiring that 
it readily communicated its contagion to them. 

When they got into the boat, Agnes suggested 
that they row across to Beaufort. 

" Mr. Darrell says it's such a quaint old place, ' ' 
she said; " that on account of the dampness of 
the air, the houses are covered with lichen and 
moss, which gives the town a very venerable ap- 
pearance, and the streets are grass-grown and 
singularly silent." 

' • Whew ! ' ' whistled Carl, slowly, tossing the 
end of his cigar into the water and lighting a fresh 
one. ' " Have you never been there ? You sur- 
prise me. It's a real romantic place.'' 

" So IVe heard," she answered, " but, never- 
theless, I've never visited the city, even in the 
light of that knowledge." 

" Ruth has, I know," he said, turning to her. 

" Yes. several times; and I wonder, too, why 
it is that a town having so many charming nat- 
ural advantages, has not grown into a great city. 
I have been told that before the war the people 
were very wealthy ; but the loss of their property 
seems to be a matter of small consequence in one 
way at least, for the people still enjoy the amen- 
ities of refined and cultivated society." 

" Yes, it is an interesting old place in many 
particulars," said Carl, tentatively, holding his 



400 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

cigar between his fingers, and watching the daz- 
zUng white foam churn up about the prow of 
the boat. 

As soon as they landed they walked leisurely 
along the street on and near the water-edge, 
where many departments of the market were to 
be seen. 

Cui'ious carts loaded with market stuff and 
drawn by small ponies were standing in front of 
the shops, while the women deftly arranged 
their wares of fruits, flowers, fisl^ and vegetables. 

The houses they passed had gabled roofs aud 
dormer windows, and many had ivy and gay 
flowering vines trained up their fronts. 

Presently they reached the cemetery, which 
was between and in the rear of two Protestant 
churches — a wild, picturesque spot with beauti- 
ful flowers, and gnarled trees of water-oaks, cov- 
ered in luxuriant ivy often hanging in swaying 
festoons quite to the ground, and which gave an 
air of quaintness and romantic beauty to the 
place. 

Here, too, nature and ai't were pleasantly 
mingled, and one could spend some quiet hours 
very entertainingly wandering through this an- 
cient ' city of the dead, ' reading the fading 
epitaphs on the monuments of those long since 
departed, while on others the ruthless finger- 
prints of time had almost obliterated the archaic 
inscriptions, many of which they tried in vain 
to decipher. 

" Now, here is the monument we are looking- 
for, the one that marks the grave of Captain 
Wulff, " said Carl, stopping near a square, rough 
slab of white marble, engravened around with a 
trailing wreath of ivy leaves, and surmounted 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. -tO] 

by a plain, white marble rross two feet in height. 
On the face of the smooth tablet sunk in the 
slab, Agnes read aloud Ihe following inscription: 

"To 
The Blessed Memory 

of 
Christian Wulff' 

Captain 
In the Royal Danish Navy. 

Born 
In Copenhagen in Denmark, 
July 31st, 1810; 

Died 
In Beaufort ,Iune 7, 1856. 
' He is not here but risen.' " 

The cemented red brick wall, which enclosed 
the mound, was fast crumbling away, the short 
marble foot-slab was tilted to one side and the 
monument was weather-stained and thickly cov- 
ered with gray lichen. 

Ruth stooped anH plucked some of the lichen 
from the slab and gathered a few wild grasses, 
which grew tall and rank about the neglected 
spot. 

'' Certainly I should not like to come here 
alone," said Agnes, breaking the silence, "and 
I think we would better be going now; we've 
seen all there's to be seen here." 

That evening a grand reception, complimentary 
to its guests, was given at the Atlantic Hotel. 

Nellie was everywhere, and it seemed that 
she was in many places at once, and as many 
moods as places. Mrs. Grayson had several times 
put forth a restraining hand to detain her by 
her side, but the next moment she would flit 
away through the crowd, good-naturedly jost- 
ling some one aside, and the next instant expend- 
ing a good deal of enthusiasm on an acquaint- 
ance whom she chanced unexpectedly to meet. 



402 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

Ruth, v^atching her with amused eyes from 
the central gallery, presently saw her rush sud- 
denly forward, throw her dimpled arms with an 
enthusiastic embrace around somebody's neck 
and exclaim: 

" Oh, Uncle Ralph, I'm so glad to see you. I 
thought you were never coming. It seems such 
an awfully long time since I saw you. Why 
didn't you come sooner ? " 

Suddenly Ruth's pulse seemed to stand still, 
and the next moment she was struggling to 
crush dovvn the surging emotions which almost 
overcame her. She saw the tall, broad-shoul- 
dered ' somebody' stoop and kiss Nellie twice on 
the cheek, say something to her in a caressing 
tone which she could not catch, and, when he 
lifted his head she looked upon the handsome 
face of her guardian. He was smihng — his usual, 
genial, courteous smile. Mrs. Grayson went for- 
ward and greeted him, and then Carl, who with 
affectionate deference laid one hand upon his 
shoulder and with the other shook his uncle's 
warmly. 

"Uncle Ralph! How are you? There's no 
need for us to say how glad we are to see you." 
Dr. Leslie stood talking some moments to the 
group gathered around him, while his eyes 
glanced eagerly through the room. 

It was either Ruth's fixed gaze, or Dr. Leslie's 
natural curiosity — for be it understood that this 
Eveish propensity is as strongly inherent in the 
mind masculine as the mind feminine— that 
compelled him to look up — at any rate he did, 
and some weight seemed to fall suddenly from 
him, and a softer look crept into his eyes, and 
for one brief moment Ruth held his tender gaze 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 403 

with the lustrous shining of her own. Agnes 
caught the magnetic flash that passed between 
them, and smiled involuntarily. Then, watching 
the dark eyes beside her, her own still following 
him, as he withdrew his own gaze slowly, she 
mentally decided that if Ruth Arnold were not 
one of the happiest women in existence, it would 
not be the fault of Ralph Leslie. 

Carl had told his uncle that Ruth and Agnes 
would meet him in the vestibule adjoining. Dr. 
Leslie was already there, standing at the foot of 
the stairway, one arm resting on the balustrade. 
Agnes was the first to reach him, and without 
speaking, bent forward from the step and kissed 
him. 

" I can't tell you how glad I am to see you," 
she said, her face beaming with smiles. 

" Thank you. I'll believe it from your wel- 
come,"' he said, with a pleasant laugh, extend- 
ing his hand. " You are looking remarkably 
well this evening, Agnes. Is it the sea air that 
has — , " but what he intended to say, Agnes 
was left to conjecture, for Ruth had put out her 
hand, which Dr. Leslie took in a fervent clasp, 
and now she was listening to his warm greeting 
with that pretty air of shyness which lent such 
a charm and fascination to her whole manner, 
and which her guardian thought so bewitching. 

Outwardly perfectly composed, yet she felt as 
if the very floor heaved beneath her, and she 
would have given anything to have escaped the 
ordeal of greeting her guardian in a crowd and 
with so many eyes fixed upon her. 

"Cousin Ruth," exclaimed Nellie, suddenly, 
her roving eyes taking in everything, " why 
didn't you kiss Uncle Ralph, too ? All the rest 



404: UNDER GOLDEN SKIES', OR, 

of US did. Now, I don't believe you are a bit glad 
to see him."" Kuta flushed criiuson. while Carl, 
as if to cover Nellie's embarrassing question, 
hastily interposed : 

" Mrs. Hawkins, allow me to introduce you to 
my cousin. Miss Glenwood — and Mr. Hawkins, 
Miss Glenwood. I think you've met Mr. Haw- 
leigh, oh, where is he'" — then turning to Ruth, 
added, "Mrs. Hawkins has been telling me about 
her meeting you two years ago." 

Dr. Leslie and Agnes led tlie way to the din- 
ing-room, Carl followed next with Mrs. Haw- 
kins — Mrs. Grayson with Mr. Hawkins, and Ruth 
and Mr. Hawleigh walked last of the party. No 
one was disposed to resent this seemingly chance 
pairing off, and Agnes began to chatter away in 
her usual gay fashion, dividing her conversation 
amongst first one and then another of her' 
friends. 

The scene in the dining-room, under the glow 
of innumerable lights, was a bright gala picture 
of animation and enjoyment. The haughty 
head-waiter, rubbing his hands and bowing, ap- 
peared in the doorway and silently conducted 
them to a reserved table, at the far end of the 
room. 

The band played entrancingly all through sup- 
per, and when the meal was over and they were 
on their way back, they stopped a few minutes 
in the ball-room to arrange the time and place 
of their meeting to attend the Glee Concert to- 
gether. Ii was the most natural thing in the 
world that Mr. and Mrs. Hawkins and Mr. Haw- 
leigh should be included in what was popularly 
known at the Atlantic as the Grayson-party, and 
from this evening on these three new arrivals 



IN THE NEW ELPORADO. 405 

were spoken of and identified as belonging to 
that particular set. While they were occupied 
with the arrangements for the concert, the band 
struck up a gay waltz. Carl gave Agnes a quick, 
inquiring glance, the meaning of which she 
seemed to comprehend at once, for she nodded 
and smiled responsively, and the next moment 
he approached her and iDent before her, laughing. 

'' The temptation is too great, little Cousin. I 
know vou can't resist it. Let me see vour card. 
You have me down for the third waltz, but this 
will be an 'extra,' and won't count." Then 
bending lower, he went on sotto voice, " By the 
way, what have you done to yourself; you are 
looking splendid — positively dazzling this even- 
ing: I never saw you look so charming." 

Agues turned to him with glowing cheeks and 
sparkling eyes, 

'' I flatter myself that I always look well ; am I 
really looking better than usual this evening '? " 

" To me you are — decidedly.'" 

" Perhaps it is the effect of my toilet ? " 

'' Hardly. I've never seen you when I didn't 
think vou were faultlesslv dressed — and never at 
any special occasion — when not superbly.'" 

" Thanks. If you pay me many such compli- 
ments you'll make me insufferably vain. But — 
but I can't imagine why there should be such a 
marked difference in my appearnce this evening. ' ' 

"Don't you, really, petite?" he laughed. 
" Well, my impression is, that it is an overflow of 
the elixir of the heart — joy, peace and happiness. ' ' 

A yachting party had been planned for this 
same evening, and a quarter of an hour later 
Mrs. Grayson and Ruth were descending the 
stairs on their way to the entrance hall, where 



406 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR. 

Mrs. Grayson had asked her brother to meet 
them. At that moment the office clock struck 
half -past ten. 

The rest of the party had already preceded 
them to the parlors, now beginning to fill rapidly 
with guests. But it was some ten minutes or 
more after Dr. Leslie and Mrs. Grayson and Ruth 
had gone in quest of their party before all of 
them could be brought together and reminded 
that it was time for them to be off. Mr. Haw- 
kins good-naturedly proffered to use his powers of 
influence in getting the scattered party together. 

Meanwhile, Ruth, in spite of her most sincere 
wish to avoid being marked out and made a cen- 
tral figure, as was so often the case when she 
appeared in any large gathering, soon found her- 
self holding a sort of informal court — for almost 
immediately after her entry into the room, she 
had been surrounded by a crowd of enthusiastic 
admirers, and many new-comers petitioning to 
be introduced. 

Ruth was not aware that Mrs. Grayson had 
approached and stood beside her until she touched 
her on the shoulder. 

'' Come, my dear, you and Mr. Hauleigh— the 
others are ready and waiting for us on the pier. 
Ah, Major Lamont, you have come back for us y " " 
Mrs. Grayson added, as that gentleman came 
up. "We were just going.*" 

Major Lamont acknowledged the information 
with a bend of his head, apologized for inter- 
rupting them, and then offering Mrs. G^-ayson 
his arm, proposed they join the waiting party 
on the pier at once. He moved off as he spoke, 
leaving Mr. Hawleigh and Ruth to follow. 

'• How lovely! " cried Ruth, enthusiastically. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 407 

as they passed out on to the pier — beyond the 
brilhant rooms — beyond the sound of the gay, 
idle life and pleasant laughter, and paused for one 
moment to look out over the moonlit bay and 
enjoy the hushed glories of the summer night. 
A gentle breeze rippled the waters, and shi\^ered 
the shining images of those jewel-like, throbbing 
worlds reflected on its glittering surface. 

From across the bay where Beaufort lay, here 
and there weird lights flashed and vanished — 
again, they would leap into vision, gleam with 
a tremulous motion, dancing like will-o'-the- 
wisps, and then disappear. 

At the far end of the pier, where the party 
were going aboard the Aurora, came the twang, 
twang of a guitar, the discordant notes mingling 
with the gay chatter and laughter from happy 
hearts. "Mr. Darrell is taking his guitar along, " 
Mr. Hawleigh said, as they hurried down the 
pier, " and I hope you will favor us with some 
music. Miss Arnold,'' 

" I will, with pleasure. But how did you know 
I played the guitar ? " 

" Did you not tell me so, two years ago ? " 

' ' Perhaps I did, ' ' she laughed. ' 'You certainly 
have a retentive memory." 

The night w^as full of glory, and the throbl)ing 
stars paled beneath the matchless radiance of 
the silver orb of night, while a soft wind, pla}^- 
ing upon the shining surface of the bay. reflected 
from its rippling waves a glancing glory that 
gleamed and flashed like burnished metal. 

It did not take the little party long to disem- 
bark on their return, and once upon the pier, by 
the same involuntary impulse. Dr. Leslie and 
Ruth paused to gaze on the calm, haunting 



408 . UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

beauty of the full moon, now in all her pomp of 
light, mid-heaven; and this action caused them 
to fall in the rear of the retreating party. Pres- 
ently Ruth turned as if she would move on, 
when Dr. Leslie touched her hand. " Stay one 
moment, Ruth — there is something I wish to say 
to you." These last words were spoken low, 
but, without questioning him by word or look, 
she confidingly laid her hand in his, then they 
moved on silently and slowly in the rear of the 
party, which soon quitted the pier and passed 
into the hotel. 

Pausing beside the low parapet wall on the bay 
side. Dr. Leslie turned to Ruth, and stood for 
some moments gazing at her so intently that her 
cheek flushed, and she wondered at his firm and 
collected bearing. 

Suddenly his whole countenance changed, and 
he began to speak to her in soft and caressing 
tones. 

They talked on and on while the night deep- 
ened and brightened, and as they turned to quit 
the pier, suddenly there came from across the 
bay the sweet sound of music, and then a fleet 
of boats, their sails gleamiag in the limpid moon- 
light, steering swiftly in an exciting race toward 
the wharf. 

' ' The rest of the excursionists just returning. ' ' 
said Dr. Leslie, glancing in the direction of the 
boats. • ' I dare say Carl and Agnes are with the 
party. Shall we wait for them, or do you prefer 
to go in?^' 

There was a short pause before she answered. 

"Let us go in. Somehow I shrink from the 
jar of merry companions to-uight." So saying 
she laid her hand upon his arm and he dre w her 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO, 409 

gently away, and walked with her through the 
deserted, dimly lighted ball-room, through the 
silent corridors, up the broad winding stairway, 
then halted at her door, where, when she had 
withdrawn her hand from his support, he took 
both of them, and pressing them palm to palm, 
held them tightly, and said, " Oh, Euth, would 
to heav^en I were more worthy of your love," 

Perhaps the next few days were to Ruth Ar- 
nold the most supremely h^ppy that she had 
ever experienced. Her face was radiant with 
that rare gleam of secret happiness which at 
times made her look almost angelic, and there 
was something so arch, so vivacious and so alto- 
gether charming in her flow of gayety that her 
guardian thought he had never seen any one 
half so irresistible. 



27 



410 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 



CHAPTER XXXIX. 

The day which had been set for a party of the 
Atlantic's guests to visit the hghthonse, off the 
coast of Cape Lookout, dawned grey and threat- 
ening: but this fact did not deter more than half 
a dozen of the number risking the trip, which 
the Captain now decided to make by the bay 
route instead of the lumpy sea. This change of 
the original program brought forth a vigorous 
protest from some of the more venturesome ones, 
but an hour later, when a heavy squall struck 
the staunch little craft with great force, causing 
her to bound and reel under the blow, they 
readily acknowledged the wisdom of the brave 
Captain, who now seemed fairly endowed with 
instinct in finding his way out of danger. For- 
tunately the storm swept over as suddenly as it 
had come; the lurching, rolling, diving motion 
of the boat ceased and became more steady, and 
the Jessie Arthur, in perfect trim, went plow- 
ing proudly across the bay, and half an hour after 
the squall, landed her passengers in safety upon 
the low sandy beach, for which she had been mak- 
ing. Immediately the party formed into squads 
and couples and started for the lighthouse, a mile 
away, arriving at the keeper's house in strag- 
gling detachments, footsore and weary. 

After resting sufficiently to make the ascent 
of the tower, the party now quitted the room, 
leaving Carl and Agnes its only occupants. Find- 
ing that Carl had remained behind to keep her 
company, Agnes turned to him, smiling: 

" Let me insist, Carl, that you'll not stay on 
my account and miss the pleasure of seeing the 



'J 



m THE NEW ELDORADO. 411 



interior of the tower. I know how much you 
have looked forward to this, and, really, it will 
distress me very much to know that I am the 
cause of your being disappointed. '- 

"Indeed you are not/' he answered, with a 
smile of satisfaction, seating himself beside her. 
" I'd much rather stay here and talk to you, and 
try to console you for the loss of your trip, ' ' he 
added, with a little laugh. ''But I suspect, little 
Cousin, that after all there is something else- 
some other trouble than mere physical weari- 
ness and pain annoying you. isn't there 
Be frank, and tell me. Indeed. I do wish you 
would allow me to share the old-time confidence, 
the confidence you used to repose in me, and tell 
me what it is that is depressing or troubling you. 
It might be that I can lielp you ; be of service to 
yon in some way."' 

'• Oh, it is nothing at all; that is, nothing of 
any consequence," she answered, carelessly, rest 
ing her head with a weary sigh against the frame 
of the window, and looking out. 

"And you are reaUy not unhappy then, little 
Cousin?" he persisted, gazing steadilv at her. 

'• Why should I be '? " 

" That's just what I want to find put." 

'* What a strange idea you've taken into your 
head. Am I not always happy "? ' she asked, 
with a forced laugh. 

" Dear Cousin, your answer doesn't satisfy 
me. I wish you would confide in me and let me 
help you if I can." 

Agnes turned her face farther from him and 
looked absently out the window. In spite of her 
affected calmness, something in her whole man- 
ner revealed her inward struggle. 



4:12 UNDER GOLDEX SKIES; OR, 

" Agnes, you can't deceive me; there is some- 
thing unusual the matter with you, something 
you do not wish me to know ; I see it ; I feel it, 
and I beg that you will — " 

" Oh, don't, don't," she pleaded, without turn 
ing her head; and then she trembled, a mist 
came before her eyes, her pulses quickened and 
her brain seemed in a whirl. 

"I do not comprehend you at all, Agnes," he 
said, in a voice subdued and very soft. " I wish 
I did. If it is some lover's quarrel — if you and 
Darrell have had some misunderstanding, or 
something of the kind and I can — " 

Suddenly Agnes waved her hand with a ges- 
ture to stop — blushing, confused, palpitating. 
The long drooping lashes which shaded her glow- 
ing cheeks were raised, and he saw that her eyes 
were filled with tears. 

" No — no — we've had no quarrel — he's noth- 
ing to me — never was — and never can be; you 
are mistaken in supposing so — " a sob stopped 
her voice. 

For a moment Carl w^as too much astonished 
to speak. He passed his hand across his fore- 
head. It was a gesture habitual with him, 

" My dear little Cousin, you surprise me more 
and more. Don't you remember — or have you 
forgotten what you told me that afternoon we 
went over to Beaufort together — you, Euth and 
myself ? Or, rather, what you led me to infer, 
that you and Darrell were betrothed ? At least 
I suspected that it was Darrell, because of his 
marked devotion to you, and your seeming pref- 
erence for his society. ' ' 

Agnes changed countenance, she was silent a 
moment, then answered frankly: 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 413 



a 



Yes, I see now; but I hope you will believe 
me, nevertheless, when I tell you that I have 
never had an opportunity to accept or refuse an 
offer of marriage from Mr. Darrell until to-day — 
within the last hour — and that offer I have most 
emphatically declined. While I like and esteem 
Mr. Darrell as a friend— and told him so — yet I 
cannot reward his love as he deserves ; therefore, 
for his sake, as well as my own, I rejected his 
proposal. ' ■ 

Carl's face had assumed a mingled expression 
of surprise, hope, tenderness and concern while 
Agnes was speaking, and when she had finished, 
he looked at her a moment in silence, and then 
said more gently, stroking the jewelled hand 
which rested upon the arm of the chair: 

" But is it not as I surmised; is it that some 
other more fortunate than Darrell has won the 
heart of my little cousin ? Is it true ? " 

Agnes did not speak, but shook her head, then 
holding one hand over her bowed face the tears 
dropped fast from her hidden eyes. Carl was 
quite overcome at the sight of his cousin's emo- 
tion — for, like all brave, manly men, his heart 
was as tender and sympathetic as a woman's. 

"Sweet Cousin — Agnes — , " he said in a gentle 
and low whisper, and something in the tone of 
his voice made her heart thrill with a sudden 
joy — " let me ask you again — won't you confide 
in me ; won't you look up and listen to me ? 
What I am going to say to you, I have no doubt 
will surprise you, and, perhaps, may cause you 
to think that I am departing from proper discre- 
tion — or, perhaps, that I am strangely inconsis- 
tent; but let me ask that should such a thought 
occur to you, please banish it from your mind at 



414 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

once, and believe me that what I do or say, I'm 
prompted by none other feeling than the purest 
and fondest love for you. I have not dared to 
even hint to you what I am going to tell you now. 
I have not dared to confess that a mysterious 
influence — if I may define it — has strangely 
drawn me to you of late. I would not pause to 
analyze this strange feeling awakening in my 
heart toward you, because, believing you hap- 
pily plighted to another, there was no need that 
I should solve what is now so plain to me. But, 
with the assurance that your heart is free from 
allegiance to another — that this little hand is 
free to give to whom you please, I feel that some 
great barrier which had painfully divided us has 
been suddenly leveled and removed, and the 
knowledge of this fact proclaims to me a hope 
as dear as life itself —it is a hope that you will 
approve me worthy of the liand and heart that 
you have just refused another.*' 

He paused, took her hand, and looked steadily 
at her. But sh made no answer, and he went 
on in the same fervent, gentle tones ; ' ' Agnes, 
you are dearer to me than a cousin ; and now, if 
you can fearlessly lay this little hand in mine, 
and with it the dower of your priceless love, and 
give me the right to guide, protect and love you 
as my wife, I pledge you that your happiness 
shall ever be my fondest care. Will you give me 
this right — may I dare to hope — will you console 
me with your love, Agnes ? " 

He paused again, and waited for her to answer. 

" Speak, dearest Cousin, and tell me if my 
love awakes no echo in your own heart ? " Mis- 
taking her silence, he resumed sadly : 

"If you must bid me cease to hope; if you 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 415 

must baoish me from your presence, let me ask 
that you will do it gently, tenderly, Cousin mine, 
for remember that it is a human heart — a heart 
that loves you fondly you are crushing." 

The next instant Agnes lifted her face, over 
which the varying and fitful color came and went, 
and the exquisite tenderness of its expression 
enhanced its delicate beauty. 

Then with that strange mixture of pride and 
timidity, she smiled, and said in a voice low, 
clear and sweet, while she placed both hands in 
his: 

" Carl, this is my answer — my love — my self, 
my all I trust to your keeping, and let the issue 
be what it may, I am — I shall be happy, for I 
have loved you long, more than any one in the 
wide, wide world. 

" Surely that is all that I could ask, my prec- 
ious Cousin,"' he said, "and rest assured that 
you shall never regret the decision of this mo- 
ment — never regret the choice you have made." 

"And Cousin Helen — your mother — oh, Carl 
what will she say ? " she asked timidly, looking 
up into his happy face. 

" Ah, my sweet and gentle mother — she loves 
you already. Agnes ; and when I tell her all — 
tell her that you will be my wife and her daugh- 
ter, she will take you to her" heart and love and 
cherish you as tenderly as I do now. Never fear 
— you will be spared all anxiety on that score." 

"But Cousin Ralph? I know he has other 
plans for you — at least business plans — and then 
he may have prejudices, you know, against — , " 
she did not finish the sentence, but said, ' ' Do 
you think he will object to our union ? " 

" Why. no, little Cousin. Why should he ob- 



416 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

ject ? He admires you, he loves you, and he is 
ambitious most for my happiness and honor. 
There is no need that I should give up any am- 
bitious plan that he may have mapped out for 
my future career. No, on the conrtary, it seems 
to me there is all the more need now that I 
should carry out those plans. Don't you think 
so?" 

Before she could answer they heard steps ap- 
proaching, and Agnes' name was called by a 
feminine voice, which she at once recognized, 
Carl rose and crossed the room, then came back 
and stood beside his cousin's chair. 

The next instant Miss Blount entered the room 
and dropped wearily down on the chair that Carl 
had just vacated. 

" I'm down from the tower at last, and oh, so 
tired," she said, with a little pant, and fanning 
herself languidly with her hat. 

' ' Yes, I think that is decidedly patent, ' ' Carl 
said, laughing. " Pity's there's not an elevator. 
Allow me to get a fan arid aid you to recover 
yourself. Oh, here's one — just the thing — a 
gull's wing." Then he sat down beside her, and 
began fanning her furiously. 

" Oh, you'll take my breath, Mr. Grayson," 
she protested, throwing up her hands. " Do 
moderate the breeze. There — -thanks; how kind 
and considerate you are ; now let me tell you 
where I've been and what I've seen." 

" To the top of the tower, of course, and seen 
the ocean as a matter of fact, ' ' said Agnes, seu- 
tentiously. 

" Yes, that is just what I've done," she re- 
turned, emphatically, " and while I don't regret 
undertaking such a feat, I assure you I'll never 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 417 

attempt it again. But, really, yoa should have 
gone," she went on, looking from one to the 
other — " both of vou. The keeper was just as 
nice and courteous as possible, and gave us all 
the information about the lighthouse we desired. 
I'm afraid he thought we were an awfully igno- 
rant set, for we — that is, some of us, asked him 
such silly questions. 

''After we'd inspected the big lamp to our sat- 
isfaction, we went out on a circular balcony, 
which has a high railing, and from there we had 
a magnificent view of the ocean. Oh, I wish you 
could have seen it. I'll not even attempt to de- 
scribe it, because I can't; but perhaps Miss Ar- 
nold may be able to do the subject justice. I 
left her with Mrs. Hawkins, absorbed in silent 
admiration of its grandeur, and pleading to 
be allowed just a few minutes longer to enjoy 
the view." 

Then Miss Blount stopped and listened. 

' ' Yes, here they come now. and perhaps they 
can tell you more about this wonderful tower 
than I have done. But I am really sorry that 
you didn't see the interior of it yourselves." 

Turning to Agnes, she asked : 

" By the way, how is your foot ? Mr. DarreU 
told me you met with an accident on the way- — 
stepped upon a piece of shell or something sharp 
and lamed yourself. I hope it is not paining you 
any more ? " 

At the mention of Mr. Darrell's name, Agnes" 
face flushed all over. "Thank you, it is better. 
It was nothing serious. See, I'm able to use it 
quite well again," she said, with a little laugh, 
which she tried to make natural, as she rose from 
her seat and walked slowly but firmly several 



418 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

times up and down the room. Carl and Miss 
Blount watched her intently while she made the 
test, and the latter ran on in her fluent way, 
all unconscious that she was discussing a most 
embarrassing theme — to Agnes at least. 

'' Isn't it too bad that Mr. Darrell leaves us in 
the morning ? It must be a very sudden decis- 
ion, for he told me not longer than yesterday 
that he expected to spend two weeks longer at 
the sea-coast. I can't imagine what possessed 
him to change his mind so soon." 

'' I don't tliink I shall have any further trouble 
with my foot," Agnes interrupted, as she re- 
sumed her seat. ' ' It doesn't pain me at all now. ' ' 

Miss Blount was too deeply interested in what 
she was saying to notice how Agnes winced, and 
the color flamed up into her cheek at the men- 
tion of Mr. Darrell's name; but before she had 
time to resume the unwelcome subject, the party 
from the lighthouse, accompanied by the keeper, 
entered the room, and then the conversation be- 
came general and animated. A merry group 
surrounded the keeper, and kept him busy an- 
swering the questions they put to him. Amidst 
the twitter of gay voices and rippling laughter, 
to one looking on from a little distance, it 
seemed that everyone was talking at once, and 
no one listening. 

Mrs. Hawkins had tried several times to speak 
to the party, to make known an important mes- 
sage from the Captain of the boat — but without 
success. At length, when she managed to make 
herself heard above the gay din, in a few words 
she explained the situation. 

The Captain had told her that he apprehended 
another storm during the afternoon; that the 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 419 

squall that morning had simply been a herald of 
a terrible storm pending, but if they would re- 
turn to the boat at once he thought he might 
get them back to the city before it came on. 

Immediately all were ready and eager to suit 
the suggestion to action with all possible speed, 
so taking leave of the courteous keeper, with 
profuse thanks for the many favors he had ex- 
tended them, they hurriedly quitted the precincts 
of the lighthouse and made their way back to 
the boat. 

Barely more than half of the party had been 
conveyed across the water to the boat, when it 
was discovered that several couples were missing 
and no one could tell whether they had left the 
lighthouse with the main party, or had started 
and were lagging on the way. This news in- 
creased the consternation of the others, while 
the grave expression on the Captain's face indi- 
cated great anxiety as he stood looking in the 
direction the delayed party must come. 

" Now, isn't it too provoking for anything ? " 
said Miss Blount, contracting her brows. " I feel 
just like crying.'' 

"Oh, don't do that. Miss Maggie," said Mr. 
Vernon, sympathetically, ''or we'll set sail and 
leave the laggards to their fate." 

' ' Serve them right if we did, ' ' returned Mr. 
Fulton, rummaging in the locker under the seat 
and drawing forth a couple of sou' -westers and 
oil-cloth coats, one of which he handed to Miss 
Blount and the other to Miss Spencer. " Better 
put them on,'' he observed. " The squall's cer- 
tainly coming, and we are going to catch it like 
fury this time. I wish there were enough of 
these things to go round — , '' dragging out an- 



420 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

other sou '-wester — ■' but this is all. Miss Glen- 
wood, won't you take this one ? " 

"No, thanks. I'd rather take a pelting on my 
devoted head than wear that ridiculous thing. 
Why, I should look like a scarecrow in it. ' ' 

' ' Not any more so than the rest of us, ' ' inter- 
posed Miss Spencer, laughing, and tying hers on. 

" Hand it over this way, Mr. Fulton, and I'll 
wear it," said Mrs. Markham, holding out her 
hand for it. "I am not particular whether it's 
becoming or not, so it protects my head." 

" That's right, Mrs. Markhm." said Mr. Ful- 
ton, passing the sou '-wester to her. "I fancy Miss 
Glenwood will wish she had accepted it before 
the storm is half over. ' ' 

"Hush!" said Mr. Hawleigh, turning his head 
and assuming a listening attitude. '' I thought 
I heard some one call.'' 

' ' Vain fancy. You heard nothing but the mur- 
mur of the surf on the distant beach, ' ' responded 
Carl, with an incredulous smile. 

Miss Spencer clasped her hands in mute sub- 
mission. 

" Well, we have no choice but to wait." 

The Captain still stood with anxious brows, 
watching the clouds which every moment grew 
more threatening. The sun was now obscured. 
the air heavy, and an unnatural light pervaded 
it on every side. A great change had indeed 
taken place in the sky during the last half hour 
— a change often observed previous to a tremen- 
dous elemental conflict. 

" Do you think we can possibly reach the city 
before the storm breaks ? ' ' asked Mrs. Hawkins, 
nervously, eyeing the stern, calm face of the 
Captain. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 421 

" Hardly, I fear. Every moment is precious — 
every inch a mile, ' ' he replied briefly, and then 
turned and began to scan again with a strained, 
frowning look the darkening sky. 

" Thank heaven, here they come at last," ex- 
claimed Miss Spencer, as the loitering party came 
in sight. Instantly every eye was turned in the 
direction of the bare, wind- swept dune. 

Mr. Vernon placed a hand on either side of his 
mouth and shouted: 

" Push on — hurry — we are waiting — we must 
be off — a storm — a storm." 

They must have heard, though the wind 
seemed to toss and muffie his voice, for the next 
moment the gentlemen took the ladies by the 
hand, and almost dragging them along, soon 
reached the boat quite out of breath. 

"Aren't you ashamed of yourselves for detain- 
ing us as you Ve done ? " cried Miss Blount, wav- 
ing her hand to the belated party. "Here we've 
been waiting for you over a half hour, at the 
risk of our lives, too. Indeed, I shouldn't be sur- 
prised if you hadn't entered into a conspiracy of 
some kind to get us shipwrecked out in the 
bay while you four contrive some means to escape 
yourselves. I'll declare it is perfectly exaspera- 
ting thQ way you've treated us." 

" Hold, hold. Miss Maggie; don't club a fellow 
when he's down," shouted back Mr. Meredith 
from the shore. " We're struggling for breath 
just now, and can't fight." 

" Darrell, we intend to sue you and Meredith 
for damages, should anything happen to us be- 
fore we reach the city, ' ' called out Mr. Vernon, 
in a bantering tone. " What in the world were 
you all doing that you didn't come on with the 
rest of us ? " 



422 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

Mr. Meredith, who was. standing beside Mr. 
Darrell, waiting his turn to be conveyed to the 
boat, thrust his hands into his coat pockets and 
drew them out filled with shells. Then holding 
them up, said very humbly: 

" Let us have your sympathy and your tears 
— we've been shelled.'' 

" Upon my word! well, I'll be — silenced, after 
that," returned Mr. Vernon, hanging his head 
in feigned humility. 

' ' Honestly, I beheve you all have gone daft, ' ' 
said Carl. " Picking up shells for amusement 
in the very teeth of a storm, and thirty-two pre- 
cious human lives at stake ! Say, good people, 
what did you mean ? " 

" Oh, Mr. Grayson, don't scold and abuse us 
any more, if you please,'' pleaded Miss Carter, 
one of the ladies who had loitered on the way. 
" Miss King and I will bear all the blame. It 
was our fault. Mi'. Darrell and Mr. Meredith 
tried to hurry us, but we would have some of 
those lovely shells on the beach. Indeed, it is 
not their fault at all, and you must not visit our 
sins upon their innocent heads.'' 

"•Bravo! bravo! Miss Carter," shouted Mr. 
Fulton, in his rolicking way; "I'll get you to 
plead for me the next time I get into a scrape." 

'^ No, no. Miss Carter — Darrell and I are able 
and willing to shoulder all the blame. We'll 
shirk nothing — not a bit of it — no, not we, ' ' said 
Mr. Meredith, who had just come aboard, and 
was taking a seat by Miss King, who looked for 
all the world as if she were ready to burst into 
tears. Seeing her clouded face, he went on in a 
compassionate tone : 

" Oh, pshaw, don't you mind about it. Miss 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 423 

King. I think they g,re just trying to frighten 
us with the storm." But looking round and 
seeing the ominous signs on every side, he was 
not quite so sure they were shamming. 

When the last passenger had been brought 
aboard the boat, the Captain hurriedly weighed 
anchor, and once more the brave little craft was 
scudding along at a rapid speed before the wind, 
the great waves hurling themselves against the 
bow with a tremendous splash, then whirling 
away with a hissing splash, leaving a long line 
of foaming eddies in its wake. 

It was very evident that the threatening storm 
would overtake them before they could reach 
the city, or make more than two-thirds of the 
distance; but not one of them realized their 
danger. 

However, the distance between them and the 
city seemed to diminish with a tediousness that, 
to their excited impatience, Avas simply agoniz- 
ing. Conversation had gradually ceased and in 
feverish excitement they sat watching the rapidly 
approaching storm, to the exclusion of every- 
thing else. The wind veered more to the north- 
east and the broad, black track of the storm was 
extending over the water, which was fast rising. 

The next moment the bow of the boat rolled 
heavily, lifted by a passing wave, hung for an in- 
stant poised upon its summit, and then plunged 
ahead with renewed speed, like a courser an- 
swering the touch of the rowel, urging him on 
to the goal. 

The water swashed and seathed underneath the 
boat, and as the gale increased in power, the 
long boom and bulging sail made close acquaint- 
ance with the foam-crested waves, spurting 



424 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

showers of salt spray over the gunwale, and then 
shooting it down the crouching backs of the 
shrieking crew. 

Another anxious moment passed. 
The continuous pealing of the thunder, mingled 
with the hideous roar of the wind, was deafen- 
ing, while the heaven was almost an incessant 
blaze of lightning. Suddenly the storm that had 
been sweeping down upon them burst in all its 
wildest fury, and while it lasted it seemed that 
earth aud heaven were crushing together in one 
wild, inextricable confusion. The rain poured 
down in torrents, and the sea hissed like a caul- 
dron. Amidst the appalling uproar, the terrified 
passengers clung to one another, listening with 
bated breath to the awful dirge which seemed 
hurrying them on to destruction. 

The mighty fury of the wind and wave threat- 
ened every moment to tear the very timbers of 
the little boat asunder, but bravely she yet stood 
the terrific convulsion of the elements and gal- 
lantly rode the waves. Not a sign of fear or 
flinching showed itself through the stern com- 
posure, or in the masterful glance of the Cap- 
tain, and he stood at his post as calmly as though 
his little craft were sailing smoothly over sunlit 
waves. 

Presently, when the storm began to moderate, 
far ahead through the slanting rain they could 
discern the gray roof of the hotel. The very 
sight of it revived their stunned senses and 
brought fresh hope; but in their eagerness to 
reach the shore, it seemed that the boat was 
merely bounding in one spot upon the waves. 

As soon as the rain had ceased, the Captain, 
with the assistance of the male portion of the 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 425 

crew, began bailing the water from the inside 
bottom of the boat, while the mate took the til- 
ler, and with a steady eye and skilful hand 
steered through the tumbling billows of water. 
With every lurch and careen of the boat star- 
board, a tremendous wave would shoot over the 
gunwale and drench the helpless crew in a fresh 
shower-bath. But now that the worst was over, 
the danger passed, there came to each of them a 
delightful sense of relief that was positively ex- 
hilarating, and suddenly everyone seemed to 
find his tongue. 

Having finished bailing, the Captain returned 
to his seat at the tiller, and relieved the mate. 

Agnes, who was sitting in that end of the boat, 
looked up at him with a smile of undisguised 
admiration, and said: 

'' Oh, how shall we ever thank you. Captain; 
and you — ," nodding to the mate; "but for 
your skill and resolution, I'm sure we all would 
have been lost. The very sight of your face in 
the midst of that terrible storm inspired us with 
hope and confidence, and somehow I could not 
help feeling that you would bring us safely 
through it all. When the storm was at its worst, " 
she went on, " I looked at Ruth — my friend. 
Miss Arnold — and there she sat as calm and se- 
rene as if we were at home in the parlor. I do 
believe she really enjoyed it. " 

In answer to the first part of this outburst, 
the Captain bowed and smiled, then said in a 
kindly tone: 

"I only did my duty ; but I must say I shouldn't 
like to be called upon again to go through a sim- 
ilar experience, especially with such a precious 
cargo aboard." 

28 



426 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 



a 



I should think not," she rejoined, thought- 
fully — then asked, looking out over the water — 
"You don't think there is any danger of another 
squall before we reach home, do you ? " 

"Oh, no; we'll soon make it now— soon be 
safe in port." 

' ' Miss Glen wood, Mr. Eoyal wants to know if 
you can reef a sail ? " Mr. Vernon asked, raising 
his voice, at the same time wringing the water 
from his cap, and then fixing it on his head 
wrong-side-out. 

" Why, what is the matter with Mr. Royal, 
he can't ask me himself ? " she laughed back, her 
voice seeming to float away on the wind. 

" He's caught cold and got the croup," he re- 
turned, with mock seriousness. " But I want to 
know myself — do you know how to reef a sail, 
tack, handle the tiller or — " 

" No, I have no nautical knowledge at all,'" 
she interrupted him, brightly. ' ' I am a land- 
lubber, bred and born, and after this afternoon's 
experience, I think I am sufficiently satisfied, 
and hereafter shall forever detest the sea. But 
why do yon ask ? " she questioned, with smiling 
wonder. 

' ' Well, I was going to suggest that you would 
allow me to teach you; but I don't suppose 
there'll be any use for me to make that proposi- 
tion now *? ' ' 

" No, none in the world; and even if I were 
to consent to receive instruction in such things, 
I think I should prefer to get my nautical train- 
ing from a more experienced seaman than your- 
self," she concluded, with a meaning smile. 

At that moment the Captain called out, "Look 
out there ! Heads down ! ' ' and scarcely had they 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 427 

time to duck their heads, before the long boom 
with a flap and a creaking groan swept over 
them, the boat phmged forward, and in a trice 
a cloud of feathery spray dashed into their faces. 
Then with a skilful tack the Captain ran the boat 
up to the dock, where they found a large crowd 
of anxious friends waiting with open arms to re- 
ceive them, and without a moment's delay hur- 
ried them off to the hotel, each one giving his 
own account of the terrible experience through 
which he had just passed, not forgetting, how- 
ever, to give the Captain and mate full credit 
for the heroism they had displayed. 

Discussing the event again that evening at the 
supper table, Mrs. Hawkins said, " I'll be frank 
to admit that I never expected to reach home 
alive or see any of you again. I thought every 
moment that the boat would be dashed to 
pieces and the last one of as drowned, and if I 
ever prayed earnestly in my life, I certainly 
prayed thf n. ' ' 

"I just thought Uncle Ralph would go craz}", " 
burst in Nellie, " and I believe he would if you 
all hadn't come when you did. He and Mr. Haw- 
kins got their spy-glasses and watched and 
watched: and everybody got so frightened and 
said they believed the boat was lost. Why. Uncle 
Ralph wanted some men to take him out in a 
boat, so he could go and look for you all; but 
they said no, there was no use to try, for the 
boat would be upset, and then all of them get 
drowned, so there it was. Mamma cried, and I 
cried, and so did ever so many ladies — but Miss 
Werner just walked around and kept saying she 
told you all not to go, and she knew you were 
sorry you didn't take her advice." 



428 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

' ' How did you manage about dinner ? ' ' asked 
Mrs. Grayson. " We didn't know until the boat 
left that you had forgotten your lunch basket. 
Didn't you get very hungry '? " 

" Hungry?" repeated Carl. "I should think 
we did; but when the storm broke, I don't 
think we thought any more about our appetites ; 
I'm sure I didn't." Then turning to Mr. Haw- 
kins, he added, " We missed you, Charhe; but I 
guess you are glad now you didn't go v/ith us." 

" No, I can't say that I am,'' he returned, "I 
fully intended going, and made my arrange- 
ments to do so, but at the the last moment I 
found that some friends I wanted to see had 
arrived on the train the evening before, and as 
they expected to spend but one day here, I stayed 
behind to be with them." 

" From Chapel Hill, were thej ? " asked Mr. 
Hawleigh from the foot of the table. 

" Yes. one of them, and the other from Rich- 
mond — Ed. Carrington, Maud;" he said, turning 
to his wife, "he inquired kindly after you." 

"xVh 1 I shall be pleased to meet him this even- 
ing. I suppose he is stopping here — at the At- 
lantic ? " 

" Yes, certainly." 

" Who is that, Mrs. Hawkins ? " Agnes quickly 
asked, stopping in the midst of a gay conversa- 
tion with Mr. Hawleigh, and flashing round. 

"' Mr. Carrington, from Richmond, a friend of 
Mr. Hawkins, but — " 

" Oh, please pardon me, my dear Mrs. Haw- 
kins, ' ' she returned hastily, the color deepening 
in her cheek. " I was mistaken in the name, I 
thought — I understood Mr. Hawkins to say Bar- 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 429 

riogton, " and then with a playful gesture of her 
hand, she turned again and renewed her talk 
with Mr. Hawleigh, now and again ap])ealing to 
Dr. Leslie to settle some disputed point in the 
subject under discussion. Involuntarily the at- 
tention of the others was drawn to them, and at 
that moment they heard Dr. Leslie say : 

"Agnes, I think you'll either have to retreat 
or cry for quarters — better, while you can do so 
gracefully." 

'• No, indeed, I'll do nothiug of the kind. That 
would be submitting to a suspicion of cowardice, 
and I can never be guilty of that, yon know." 

''Secure a truce, then," he suggested, in a 
soothing tone, smiling. 

" No, sir; on the contrary, I reaffirm the state- 
ment I've just made, and shall retract nothing;" 
then shrugging her shoulders and glancing at 
Mr. Hawleigh, added gayly, " I'm aware that I 
have a very formidable antagonist, too, but I'll 
not surrender. 

" What's the contested question ?" asked Carl, 
looking directly at Agnes, who met his gaze with 
downcast eyes. " Now, I don't propose to come 
in and help you fight, but may I hope you'll 
allow me to share some of the glory of your vic- 
torv?" 

Agnes laughed, and bowed to him with ironi- 
cal deference. " That's cool, to say the least; 
but I hardly think— " 

She stopped suddenly and looked round. Some 
one standing at the back of her chair had touched 
her on the shoulder, and was bending to speak 
to her. 

" Oh, Miss Waldorf, I'm so glad to see you. 
Won't you join us V We are just through sup- 



430 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

per and were chatting — that is, Mr. Hawleigh 
and I were doing most of the talking. ' ' 

Miss Waldorf glanced toward him with a win- 
ning smile, while he and Carl rose at the same 
time and offered her a seat, 

'' Oh, no, no — thank you; pray don't let me 
disturb you. 1 came to see Miss Glenwood. I 
should be glad of a word with you, ' ' tapping her 
on the shoulder, ' ' if you can spare a minute or 
two." 

''Why, certainly; as many as you like, and 
I'm ready to go with you now. Ruth, I depute 
you to finish my contest with Mr. Hawleigh, and 
be sure not to yield him one iota of the ground 
I've gained. Cousin Helen, I take it for granted 
that you all will excuse me," and with that she 
rose and accompanied Miss Waldorf from the 
room 

A few minutes later the others withdrew from 
the table, and in passing through the ball-room, 
Carl saw Agnes in the far end of the room, sur- 
rounded by a group of admirers, among whom 
was a tall, handsome stranger, with a blase, in- 
souciant air, the most devoted of them all. In 
spite of himself a thrill of jealousy stirred his 
heart as he watched the heightened color in his 
cousin's cheeks and the bright sparkle of her 
eyes; but, detaching himself from his mother 
and her party, who were on their way to the pier, 
in his easy, graceful fashion he sauntered to- 
ward his cousin, stopping to talk with first one 
friend and then another, who accosted him as he 
passed along. 

The band was playing a waltz, and there were 
numerous couples gliding over the smoothly pol- 
ished floor ; but to-night, somehow, he was not 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 431 

in the mood for dancing — in fact, his favorite 
amusement seemed suddenly to have lost all its 
charm for him ; and as he moved along, he v^as 
just wondering why the voluptuous strains of mu- 
sic did not quicken his pulse and make him thrill 
as formerly, when a friend stopped him and drew 
him aside for a social chat. 

Very near where they stood was a group of 
ladies talking merrily, and suddenly catching the 
name of Grayson, he turned to see who it was 
that was speaking to him. 

Just then one of them was saying, ' ' Oh, no, 
I do not know her at all, but of course one can 
form some sort of an opinion, and generally a 
pretty correct one, of the people one meets from 
observation. 1 fancy she is very haughty, ex- 
clusive, and if not purse-proud, she certainly 
has the air of one who enjoys her money." 

The voice that responded to this uakind re- 
mark was Miss Spencer's, and it was full of po- 
lite reproach, and a dignity that rebuked the 
speaker. 

" Indeed, you mistake her entirely, for she is 
not really so at all. She is genial, kind and gen- 
erous to a fault, and one of the loveliest Christian 
characters I ever knew. I never met a lady 
whom I esteem and admire more. As for en- 
joying her money — yes, why not ? Doesn't every- 
one who has it, have that privilege ? and besides 
enjoying it herself, she does a world of good 
with it. I heard a few days since, through a 
friend of the Graysons — a lady who is in a posi- 
tion to know — that there are three young ladies 
— deserving girls, without means, spending sev- 
eral weeks here, and all through Mrs. Grayson's 
generosity. I am confident that she does not 



432 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

care to have this fact made pubUc, or even talked 
of in private, and I merely mention it now out 
of simple justice to her. I have no idea who the 
girls are that have been so fortunate as to fall into 
such good hands, but I'm sure it is true, for one 
of them told the lady who told me about it. ' ' 

'' Ah! I only wish one could come across more 
such magnanimous people nowadays," was the 
sneering answer from the first speaker. 

Carl bit his lip and flashed an indignant look 
at the woman who had said such cruel things 
about his sweet, gentle mother. Miss Spencer was 
about to answer her when she chanced to turn 
round, and at that moment saw him, and though 
he was not looking in her direction, she knew by 
the peculiar dull-red that burned in his cheek 
and the quick flash of his handsome eyes, that 
he had overheard their conversation. Sne turned 
again to the lady with whom she had been talk- 
ing and said something to her in an undertone, 
and he was satisfied that she had warned her of 
his presence, for instantly she cast a hurried and 
surprised glance toward him, regarding him 
keenly for a moment, then said in an impatient 
tone, still sneering: 

" Why didn't you tell me that he was listen- 
ing ? Perhaps 1 might have been a little more 
guarded in my remarks. However, what's said 
can't be unsaid, and there's no need to worry 
over a trifle. ' ' But it was obvious that she was 
not a little annoyed that she had not been more 
discreet. 

Carl had heard enough. He excused himself 
to his friend and made his way at once to Agnes, 
who, when she saw him approaching, smiled so 
brightly that he soon forgot his bitter thoughts, 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 433 

and the prospect of spending a happy evening 
with her restored him to a sense of well-being, 
and his usual gay and high spirits. 

Smiling and making a courtly obeisance to 
her, he ottered her his arm, on which she lightly 
placed her white gloved hand, and glancing round 
with a smile upon the circle of friends whom she 
had been entertaining, she gracefully excused 
herself and quitted the room with her cousin. 

It was quite late that night, not very long- 
after Ruth and Agnes had retired and ceased 
their interchange of sweet confidences, that the 
communicating door between their own and Mrs. 
Grayson's room was noiselessly opened, and some 
one entered, softly approached their bedside, and 
for a moment stood perfectly still. Ruth had 
fallen asleep as soon as Agnes quit talking — 
while she, ^ith half-closed eyes, mused and 
smiled to herself, dreaming sweet dreams, which 
thrilled her heart with a joy so great it was 
almost akin to pain. 

A gentle touch on her hand aroused her from 
her reverie, and opening wide her eyes, she met 
in the dim light the frank eyes of CarFs mother 
looking down upon her, and instinctively she 
raised her soft arms and let them steal around 
her neck, whispering half aloud the sweet word 
' ' mother. ' ' 



434 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 



CHAPTER XL. 

The Graysons were at home again. They had 
left the seashore before the gay season was well 
over, accompanied by Mrs. Hawkins and her 
baby son, Philip, who had accepted Mrs. Gray- 
son's invitation to make her a visit — a visit which 
Mrs. Grayson assured her she had been looking 
forward to with pleasurable anticipation ever 
since her promise made to her two years previ- 
ous, when they had first met at the White Sul- 
phur Springs in the mountains — that this was a 
most favorable opportunity to fulfil that prom- 
ise ; and now, while Mr. Hawkins was absent in 
New York on business in the interest of his firm 
in Richmond, there was no reason why she 
should hurry home until his return. 

Without much difficulty, Mrs. Hawkins had 
been overcome by Mrs. Grayson's reasoning, 
and much to the dehght of them all, accompa- 
nied them home. Nellie was quite beside herself 
at the prospect of entertaining Philip at her own 
home, and immediately began devising a hun- 
dred ways for his babyship's amusement. 

Mrs. Grayson, ever the same charming woman 
at home, as well as abroad, had spared no pains 
to make Mrs. Hawkins' visit as enjoyable and 
delightful as posssible, and during her stay had 
given a maguificent dinner party specially in her 
honor; and this was followed afterwards by 
others, not only dinner parties, but teas and lun- 
cheons, given in the circle of Mrs. Grayson's 
friends who had returned from their summer 
wanderings, and to all of these pleasant social 
gatherings Mrs. Hawkins had been cordially in- 
vited. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 435 

On leaving for home at the end of her three 
weeks' visit, she declared in all earnestness, that 
she had never enjoyed a visit anywhere half so 
much in her life, and if Mr. Hawkins were with 
her, she believed that she'd be quite content to 
stay for good and all just where she was. 

" But as that cannot be," she continued, with 
a pleasant little laugh to Mrs. Grayson, as they 
rolled along in the carriage to the station, " you 
must give me the privilege and pleasure, before 
a great while, of welcoming you to my own 
home, in the beautiful 'city on the James'. In- 
deed, I shall be so glad to have you come, all of 
you — and Mr. Hawkins and I will do all we can 
to give you a pleasant time, ' ' she said, warmly, 
in her frank, winning way. 

It was not until their return from the seashore, 
that Carl had written to Mr. Glenwood, asking 
his consent, or the honor, as he had laughingly 
told Agnes, of becoming his son-in-law and apol- 
ogizing for his seeming to take advantage of him 
by wooing his Cousin Agnes without first asking 
his sanction to pay his formal addresses to her. 
Agnes had written to her mother at the same 
time, telling her unreservedly, as a dutiful 
daughter should, all about their love affairs; and 
though she was pretty certain what her mother's 
decision would be, she had closed her letter by 
saying, a little hypocritically it must be acknowl- 
edged, " Now, I hope you'll not scold me very 
much, dear Mamma, if I have disappointed you, 
but you know I have always been devotedly at- 
tached to Carl, and to tell the honest truth, I 
believe now I have always loved him from the 
first more than I ever dared to acknowledge even 
to myself." 



436 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

The answers to these letters — CarFs and Ag- 
nes' — came hi due tune; and when Carl recog- 
nized Mr. Grlenwood's handwriting on the letter 
which his uncle handed to hira wdth a meaning 
smile, w^ith a throhbing heart he hurriedly broke 
the seal, eager to learn how far or in what way 
his answer was to affect his engagement with 
his cousin. 

Mr, Glenwood, after stating that Carl's and 
Agnes' engagement was, to him, an unexpected 
development of things, as he termed it ; that he 
had carefully considered and reviewed his propo- 
sal, and that he hoped to hve to see his daugh- 
ter well and happily married to a man whom he 
thoroughly liked and respected — in a formal and 
dignified manner gave his consent for Carl to 
marry her, imposing, however, a certain condi- 
tion, which Carl could not help thinking was 
somewhat hard and unreasonable, yet he had no 
choice left but accede to unless he should be able 
to prevail upoQ him to alter it; but, from the 
tone of his letter he had but Uttle hope of ac- 
complishing that. 

Mr. r41enwood went on to say that for personal 
reasons, which it was unnecessary to state, he 
desired their marriage be postponed for at least 
one year ; that Agnes had been absent from them 
so long, now she was to leave them, he believed 
that Carl w^ould agree with him and Mrs. Glen- 
wood that they w^ere right in wishing to have 
her with them a few months before parting from 
her finally. They desired, too, that Agnes should 
return home the following December, and mean- 
while they hoped there would be no opposition 
or obstacle thrown in the way to prevent her 
obeying their wishes in this matter, and so on. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 437 

Disappointment and pique showed visibly on 
his face as he read Mr. Glenwood's letter, but 
mastering his feelings, he took it at once to Ag- 
nes to read, while she handed him the letter she 
had received from her mother. There was silence 
until they had read and exchanged letters again, 
then she looked up and asked simply : 

" What do you think of it ? What can we do ? 
Papa's decision will compel us to change our 
present plans." 

He looked at her a moment with a curious ex- 
pression on his face a,nd sighed. 

' ' Sore as the trial is to me to wait as your 
father suggests, yet 1 fear we can do nothing 
else at present. If I were to advise you as my 
heart prompts me at this moment," he went on, 
in the eager tone of a lover, " I must confess it 
would be to tempt you to swerve from your first 
duty to them — your parents — and persuade you 
to marry me without delay; but an equally pow- 
erful motive to do that which is right and honor- 
able will make me regard their wishes, knowing, 
too, that I owe them at least so much." He 
was silent a moment, then resumed : 

" Though your father seems so terribly in ear- 
nest. I shall write to him and try to prevail upon 
him to retract or change the condition which he 
has imposed ; and tlien, if he refuses, ' ' he came 
closer to her and took both her hands in his, 
" the only thing left for me to do is to submit to 
his demand, and I beg you, dear Cousin, to be as 
true to me through the trying probation as I 
shall be true to you — or unless — , ' " there was a 
change in his voice — , "" unless you wish me to 
release you from an engagement which — " 

Hush, hush, you shall not say it," she said 



i i 



438 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

quickly, with playful imperiousness, laying her 
hand upon his hps. " I will not hear you. You 
know well enough you are going to say some- 
thing to wound me. and I repeat, you shall not 
say it.'' 

"I won't, then," he said, taking her hand and 
holding it fast in his; " but let me say this, Ag- 
nes, I must do what is right, whether'! like it or 
not, or I believe the result would eventually 
bring grief to us both." 

Agnes drew a long breath, and her eyes glis- 
tened — then with glowing cheeks she looked tear- 
fully up into his face and said, warmly. '' Carl, 
you are a dear, noble fellow. I shall make no 
protest against your determiration, because I 
know- you are right ; and here let me say, too, 
that you will find it no easy matter to coax papa 
to change his mind now that it is made up. No ! 
I know him too well. He never decides hastily 
about anything, and I am sure about this par- 
ticular matter he has sent you his answer after 
calmly, thoughtfully and deliberately considering 
it. I believe it is best to let matters take their 
course, and though my heart break for it I say, 
let us wait. ' ' 

Looking at her just then — the fair, sweet face 
he loved clouded by a momentary sadness, it 
was hard to find it in his heart to take her at 
her word and wait — it seemed as if he must 
brush aside all, everything that hindered their 
early union, decide the question for themselves, 
let the consequences be what they would. 

Suddenly a strange look flitted across his face 
— a look as though he were struggling to conquer 
some inward emotion fighting hard to get the 
mastery of him. Then he took her hand, and 
said in a tender voice : 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 439 

" How I'm tempted, Agnes. But for all that 
I must do right. I will go now and leave you, 
and not prolong the pain to both by discussing 
what is inevitable. I love yon, dear Cousin, too 
well for this, and so saying, with a look of 
pain in his eyes, he gently put her from him, 
then went out and left her alone. 

The days wore on faster than ever it seemed 
to Agnes, bringing consciously near the time 
when she must leave the new and strong friend- 
ships which she had found in the Old North 
State, and return to her home in the far West — 
a home from which she had been absent so long, 
that already she was beginning to feel that it 
was no longer hers; and now especially was this 
true, since a new, absorbing interest had come 
into her life. 



440 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 



CHAPTER XLI. 

Summer had gradually lost her identity under 
the gorgeous canopy of autumn, and for the next 
few weeks all Nature was masquerading in bril- 
liant attire. 

Two weeks before Carl, inspired with high 
hopes and aspirations, had left for Baltimore to 
enter upon the study of medicine, and to prepare 
himself for that profession for which he had a 
natural and genuine liking, and which profes- 
sion he had often declared was to be the one to 
lead him into a career of usefulness and renown, 
and certainly after events proved that it was the 
very one for which he had been destined. 

It was early one lovely morning, and Ruth had 
just finished her toilet, and stood beside the win- 
dow in her room, looking far away, where a de- 
licious blueness misted the tree-tops. 

She had already roused Agnes out of her 
peaceful slumbers, and reminded her of her 
j^romise to go driving with her before the sun 
was fairly up. Agnes protested at first, and 
vowed she would rather have slept; but now she 
was standing before the mirror bestowing a last 
finishing touch to her hair, and sleepily studying 
the effect of a novel arrangement of her fluffy, 
short curls, which every now and then she 
touched up with a quick gesture from her rosy 
finger tips. 

Presently she turned and cast a hurried glance 
toward the window where Ruth still stood, mo- 
tionless, and making a pretty picture. 

" You darling, " cried Agnes, in her impetu- 
ous way. How sweet and patient you are, and 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 441 

I've certainly been enough to try you. Never 
mind, I'll be ready now, real soon. I'll tell you, 
no one in the world but you could have coaxed me 
to forego my morning's nap and go for a drive be- 
fore sunrise; but you know I'd do anything for 
you. ' And thus she rambled on for the next 
ten minutes, till she was dressed, and then play- 
fully slipping her hand through Ruth's arm, hur- 
ried her down-stairs. 

In the hall they encountered Dr. Leslie, who 
had just emerged from the library, and had sev- 
eral letters in his hand ready to post. He looked 
up with a sudden glance, and stopped instantly. 

' ' Where are you two going ? " he asked, smil- 
ing, and looked puzzled. " I fancy this is a new 
departure for you, Agnes," he continued, turn- 
ing to her. "A walk before breakfast, and even 
sunrise. ' ' 

' ' Oh, we are not going to walk, I assure you, ' ' 
she returned, laughing gayly. ' ' No, indeed ; 
I'm too lazy for that. But there's Ruth — Avell. 
that sort of a 'constitutional' may suit her, but 
I prefer one more agreeable. Cousin Helen has 
ordered the carriage for us, and we are going to 
the boulevards. Just now everyone is raving 
over the richness and beauty of the autumn foli- 
age, and we are going to see it for ourselves 'un- 
der the glory of the morning sun,' as Rtith says. 
Miss Duval told us yesterday that the boulevards 
were never so beautiful, and if we wished to see 
them at their best, we should see them now. 
You might come, too, if you liked," she added, 
smiling archly up into his face, " We shall be 
so glad to have you. ' ' 

" I wish I could, but you'll have to excuse me 
this morning, " he replied, with a glance at Ruth, 
29 



442 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES ; OR, 

upon whose cheek a conscious flush came deep- 
ening. "But, surely, you are not going without 
breakfast, are you ? " he asked, taking his hat 
from the rack preparatory to going out. 

" No. Juha has gone now to prepare a most 
inviting feast for us,'* said Ruth, looking in the 
direction of the dining-room. " Ah, here she 
comes now with a basket of fruit, which we 
shall take with us; and, there is the carriage 
waiting. We would better go." 

It was one of the loveliest of October mornings, 
with ail its glowing colors upon the full-foliaged 
woods, and the broad, bright fields belting the 
city. The crisp, autumnal air was pervaded with 
that soft Indian summer haze, which made the 
landscape picture so mystically beautiful that 
one could not help fancying that Titian would 
have rejoiced to revel in it. 

It was still early when Ruth and Agues reached 
the boulevard, but now the sun was slow! 5' 
climbing up above the tree-tops, and as the 
shafts of sunlight struck the mica-dust glitter- 
ing like crushed silver in the white graveled 
roadway, then flashed over the iris-colored 
woods wreathed in feathery mist, they both ex- 
claimed simultaneously : 

' ' Oh, how beautiful I How entrancing ! ' ' 

As they drove further and further on into the 
cool, enchanted parkland, leaving the busy hum 
of life behind them, the sylvan vistas glowed, 
heroically rejoicing, as though unmindful that 
their Gethsemane agony was so near at hand. 

Each spear of grass was helmed in crystal foil. 

Ruth turned her radiant face to Agnes and 
said, enthusiastically, " Isn't it gorgeous ? Isn't 
it lovely ? Do stop the ponies, Agnes, and let 
me get out here." 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 443 

"What for?" Agnes asked in a surprised 
tone. 

" I want to get a view of this from that bluff 
on the left, ' ' nodding in the direction of the 
point. " I'm sure the view must be magnificent 
from there." Agues drew the ribbons on the 
pretty travelers, and they came to an impatient 
halt. 

"But don't you wish to see it, too?" Ruth 
asked, turning to Agnes, as she was about to 
get out. " Suppose you let me hold the ponies, 
and you go first ? I can see it afterwards." 

" You unselfish creature," laughed Agnes, "I 
guess I can see it afterwards, too. You go on. 
I suspect it will keep till I have a chance to see 
it," she added, nudging Ruth from her with her 
elbow, and with the long whip she flicked a fly 
off Nabob's back. The pony gave a wicked 
prance. 

" Do hold them fast, Agnes," Ruth urged, as 
she sprang lightly to the ground ; then turning 
a little way back to where the bluff started and 
gradually sloped upward, she ran easily to the 
top. 

With one small, white hand uplifted to shade 
her face from the g;laring rays of the sun which 
smote through a rift in the gorgeous canopy, she 
stood, her body swaying with rhythmic motion 
as she turned from right to left, drinking in the 
beauty and freshness of the brilliant scene around 
her. 

Overhead the sky was a clear, pale blue, and 
not a cloud was visible upon the bell-shaped 
dome. 

Across the roadway, and almost at her feet, 
lay a quiet glade, sun-barred, but cool and flower- 



444 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

scented. A little cabin stood a short way back, 
rudel}^ breaking the charm of perfect harmony 
in the glowing landscape. 

A few scattered houses of grayish hue dotted 
a distant hillside, and from the chimney of one 
rose a blue film of smoke that floated lazily 
across the light, tender blue of the heavens, hov- 
ered a moment above the tree-tops, like wings of 
birds, and then resumed its way. 

" The prospect is glorious from up there, and I 
want you to see it," said Euth, as she took her 
seat beside Agnes, and then put out her hand to 
take the reins and whip. 

" No, not now. The ponies are restless, and 
I don't believe they'll stand another minute. I 
can get just as pretty view from some other 
point, for there seems to be new beauties and 
surprises all along the way,"" 

" Yes, I think so, too, answered Kath, "I don't 
think I ever saw autumn tints half so lovely 
as they are now. ' ' Then glancing over the woods, 
added with a gleam of spirit : " If these beauti- 
ful woodland acres were mine, not another tree 
should be felled upon them. It is an act of per- 
fect vandalism to cut these magnificent oaks. 
Why, to me, some trees possess so much indi- 
viduality, that they seem almost human. What 
grand monuments, too, they are, reminding us 
of the days without a history. Oh, I do wish 
these could be spared." 

'' Whoa! " Agnes suddenly tightened the reins 
and the ponies came to a halt. " Which way 
shall we go, to the right or left ? " she asked, 
turning to Ruth. 

They had reached a slight elevation, where 
two roadways swerved gracefully away on either 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 445 

side, and Ruth cast an undecided, anticipatory 
glance down each glowing inlet. 

On the right, the curving roadway, smooth 
and shining, wound through crimson bushes 
and golden leaves crowning the tall trees, which 
flung tremulous shadows across tlie way, then 
suddenly, slipped out of sight behind a flower- 
starred blufi". 

To the left, the sunlit drive sloped gently 
downward, and where the shadows darkly lurked, 
a gurgling stream leapevd across, spanned by a 
rustic bridge, and then the road rose smooth and 
white on the other side. 

Ruth drew a long breath and filled her lungs 
with the delicious aroma with which the. air was 
charged through and through. It seemed she 
had never realized before how inconceivable the 
joy of living in such a splendid luminous day as 
this. To exist was exultation. 

" Well, I-Qi waiting,'' said Agnes. " Decide 
which way." 

Suddenly and almost simultaneously the re- 
port of three rifle shots broke the sylvan quiet, 
and the surrounding hills beat back the obtrud- 
ing echoes. 

Quick as a flash the mettlesome ponies gave 
a startled leap and plunged forward, but Agnes 
held them with a firm, strong grip, while she 
coaxed them back into their former submissive- 
ness. Somehow, this morning, they seemed bent 
on tragic mischief, but she held them with the 
zest and vigor of conscious mastery. 

At that moment two negro boys scantily clad, 
and with brown bare feet and legs, emerged from 
the dewy depths of a ruddy thicket near the 
bridge, each with a gun and accompanied by sev- 



446 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

eral mongrel hounds, which scampered here and 
there, with tails up and noses lifted, as if ques- 
tioning the woodland fastnesses for a fresh scent 
of game. Then a large tan hound, w^ho seemed 
to lead the pack, whined softly, sniffed the air, 
and with tail erect, started off, hythmically bay- 
ing, up the winding road. 

The boys crossed the bridge and strolled slowly 
on in the direction the dogs had taken. 

'' Suppose we follow them," suggested Ruth, 
meaning the boys, " and then w^e can drive 
beyond the bridge and return by the road on the 
left, unless you wish to go another route. ' ' 

''Just as you say." Agnes gave the ponies 
an admonitory tap with the tasseled end of the 
whip, and they fell quietly into their easy mov- 
ing gait down the sanded drive. 

Just as they crossed the bridge, a freshened 
breeze whisked a shower of yellow leaves across 
the freckled roadway, then trundled them long 
with a sibilant timbre down a darkling nook 
against the buttress of the bridge. 

'' That's a pretty view of the Military School, " 
said Agnes, flirting her whip in the direction of 
the martial quarters, whose handsome buildings 
and well-kept grounds were upon a commanding- 
eminence to the right; " I've a notion to drive 
over there, ' ' she went on, with twinkling eyes, 
'' if somebody wouldn't suspect me of entertain- 
ing sentimental designs upon one or more of thi 
cadets." 

Ruth turned and looked at her with unex- 
pected seriousness, as though she wondered what 
Agnes meant by such a capricious speech. 

" You, dearie," Agnes burst out laughing. "I 
knew I would startle you. I have no idea of 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 447 

doing anything of the kind. But here we are at 
the bluff from which I'm to have my view of 
the promised land, and if you'll hold these little 
wicked blacks, I'll jump out right here, and you 
can drive on past that clump of willows to the 
right and wait for me a little beyond where the 
roads fork," 

Ruth took the russet reins, and then placed 
the slender whip in its rack. Agnes had got out. 
and the n^xt moment began to scale the tall 
bluff fronting the Military School, while Ruth 
drove to the point she had indicated ; but on ac- 
count of the sun-glare, turned and drove back 
under the protecting shadow of the hill, whose 
side rose almost perpendicular to quite a height. 
She glanced upward as soon as she had stopped 
the ponies, and saw Agnes standing right above 
her, smiling and gesturing to her. 

" Can't you find some one to hold the ponies, 
and come up, too?" she called down. "You 
have Qo idea how beautiful it is. ' ' 

' ' I should like to come. ' ' said Ruth, looking 
ruefully up at Agnes, " but the trouble is to find 
'the some one' to hold the ponies." 

Just then two horsemen in bucolic garb ap- 
peared around a sudden curve, stared stolidly, 
and passed on. Scarcely had they gone out of 
sight before a half-grown boy, wearing a slouched 
hat that nearly hid his face, came trudging 
along, whistling softly to himself. 

"Ruth, there's your opportunity," said Ag- 
nes, looking down with an amused smile and 
speaking under breath. "There's 'the some 
one ' to hold the ponies. " She glanced at the boy 
now passing neai' the carriage, 

Ruth accosted him at once. 



448 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

" Good-morning, sir. Won't you do a favor 
for me ? Won't you hold these ponies till I go 
up on that hill to look at those buildings over 
there?" waving her hand toward the Military 
School. " I'll not keep you long, and I'll be very 
much obliged. ' ' Her tone was kind and per- 
suasive. 

The boy stopped, hesitated, and then looked at 
the ponies apprehensively. 

' ' Be thay uns gentul ? " he asked, pointing to 
the ponies with an awkward v\^ave of his hand. 

"Oh, yes, if you'll manage them right; but 
I don't want you to drive, but just hold them. 
I don't believe they much like the locomotive 
whistle, but I hardly think a train is due this 
way in several hours — unless — yes, there may 
be a freight train. ' ' 

The boy still wavered. Ruth gave him a look 
full of entreaty, and supposing his hesitancy re- 
sulted from another cause than embarrassment, 
said in a half-apologetic tone, as if she were 
afraid of giving offence : 

" Of course I shall pay you for your time and 
trouble." She took out her purse, and held it 
in her hand. 

The next moment he moved mechanically 
across the road, walked to the heads of the po- 
nies and with a cautious hand took hold of the 
check rein. Suddenly Nabob threw up his head 
with a resentful toss, flared his nostrils, and eyed 
the boy inquisitoriaUy, w^hile Prince stood un- 
concernedly quiet as if disdaining any notice of 
the wary interference, further than a furtive 
glance. 

The boy let go the rein and stepped back. 

" Oh, Nabob often does that way to stran- 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 449 

gers, ' ' said Ruth, getting out of the carriage and 
going up to the unruly horse. " I think he just 
does it to see if they are afraid of him. But he's 
a real nice fellow for all that, aren't you, Naboh, 
and are you going to behave nicely ? " she asked, 
playfully patting his glossy neck. Then turn- 
ing to the boy again : 

' ' You can sit in the carriage if you like, per- 
haps you can manage them better. ' ' 

"• Nor, marm; I'd ruther stan" rite harye, an' 
hold 'em. I Weave thet thar Nabog, as you uns 
call 'em, has got ther very tarnul debil in 'em. I 
nuver seed a horse show ther white uv his eyes 
thet wern't mean. Jest see 'em backen his 
years, too." 

Ruth laughed good-naturedly. 

" Aren't you coming, Ruth ? " Agnes called to 
her in a far-off voice, which came to her faintly 
down the blaff, for she was going up toward the 
crest. 

' ' Yes, in a minute, ' ' Ruth answered. The boy 
glanced up perplexedly, in the direction the voice 
had come. 

" Now, you hold the horses till I come back. 
There's something for your trouble," said Ruth, 
slipping a half dollar into his sun-browned hand. 
The boy eyed it incredulously, then put it into 
his pocket. 

Ruth started off, then turned back. A new 
impulse came to her. 

'' I forgot to ask you — what is your name ? " 

" Joe — Joe Simpson," he said, dimly wonder- 
ing why she should wish to know. 

" Do you live in the country, and anywhere 
near here ? ' ' 

" Yes, I liv jest back uv them houses over 
thayre, " nodding his head. 



450 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

Ruth glanced the way he nodded. 

" Oh, not far away, then ? " she said. 

" Nor, sum three miles ur more, ' ' he answered, 
in a sort of resentful tone, as if he objected to 
being questioned further. 

" Very well, Joe. I'm going now. I think 
the ponies will be good, and not give you any 
trouble. But should a train come along, be sure 
to be careful and keep a tight hold of the reins. 
You musn't let them think you are afraid of 
them." 

She went to the slant whence Agnes had be- 
gun the ascent, and followed her with leisurely 
steps up to the summit. 

"What kept you, darling?" Agnes asked, 
when Ruth had reached her. " I saw the boy 
take hold of the ponies, and thought the matter 
was settled, so I came on thinking you would 
overtake me." 

" Yes, but I had to coax him," she explained. 
" He was afraid of the horses at first, yet I don't 
think they'll give him any trouble." 

Agnes interrupted her. " Now, isn't that 
grand over there — and there — and there," point- 
ing toward the various points. " And this air! 
Isn't it delicious, sweet, fresh and cool ? I don't 
wonder you have so many hoary heads here- 
abouts. People can't die in an atmosphere like 
this. Why, I feel as if I could live always, here. " 

She threw up her hands with a pretty chal- 
lenge and laughed for very joy in the rich ful- 
ness of perfect health. 

Ruth did not answer her, but stood silent, her 
face glowing. She rarely spoke when strong 
emotions held her. Her attitude was more ex- 
pressive and eloquent than anything she could 
have uttered. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 451 

With her hands tighth^ clasped before her, as 
one in the act of passioaate adoration, she seemed 
to see in actual existence what Israel's leader 
saw by faith in the vista of futurity. 

At last Ruth withdrew^ her gaze, sighed softly, 
and turning to Agnes, said simply. 

" Come. Let's go. I fear the boy has grown 
impatient." 

" But don't you feel repaid for coming ?" asked 
Agnes, gathering a cluster of waxlike leaves and 
crimson berries, and then fastened them in the 
bosom of her dress. 

'"Yes, indeed, more than repaid," she an- 
swered. 

They had been descending the bluff mean- 
while, and now returned to the carriage where 
the boy, with an impatient air, still held the 
fidgety horses. 

" Well, I didn't intend to keep you waiting so 
long, ' ' Ruth began, apologetically, ' ' but I hope 
you didn't mind." 

" Nor, not mutch," he answered candidly. 

"Oh, no, I'm sure you didn't mind,'' inter- 
posed Agnes brightly, smiling at him. " Now, 
I'm going to give you some of our grapes and 
pears, for keeping you so long. W"e brought them 
along for our breakfast, but we can't eat them 
all. Do you like fruit ? " She took the basket 
from the seat of the carriage as she spoke and 
approached him. 

•* Here, tell me," she went on, in a friendly 
way, ' ' did you ever see any grapes and pears as 
fine as these ? I don't believe you can raise such 
fruit as this here, or in North Carolina anvwhere, 
though you have almost everything that one 
wants or can even think of. See, aren't these 
pears beauties ? ' ' She held up two of the finest. 



452 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OK. 

The boy merely glanced at them with a sort of 
contemptuous smile, and looked away. " Yes, 
thay uns air rite nice.'' he said, carelessly, '"but 
we uns ken rase jest as good uns an' jest as big 
uns in Norf Caroliner. An' them thayre green 
grapes — ugh! thay ain't mutch. We uns got 
plenty rite bout harye ur grate site bettar. " 

' ' Why, John, ' ' Agnes laughed merrily — ' ' Joe. ' ' 
suggested Ruth, smiling. '' Well Joe, then," 
Agnes corrected, and continued laugriing. "These 
splendid pears came all the way from my home 
in California, and these Malaga grapes came 
from that State, too ; but not where I live. Sup- 
pose you taste one and see how you like it; and 
if you think they are nice, I'll give you this 
whole bunch. Here, just try one." 

He looked toward Ruth questioningiy. " Yes, 
Joe, try one." she said, '' I believe you will like 
it; I think they are excellent." 

Agnes plucked one from the bunch and handed 
it to him. " Now, if you don't say that is nice, 
I'll think you don't know a good thing when 
you see it." 

The boy took it doubtfully, and slowly put it 
into his mouth, while Ruth and Agnes, smilingly 
watched him. 

" Well, how do vou like it?" Agnes asked. 
"Nice, isn't it'?" 

" Ther thing's so tarnul tuff I can't bite it, " 
he said, holdiag the grape between his teeth. 

" Well, I'll promise you it'll not melt in your 
mouth," Agnes said. "Now bite it." He let 
his teeth come suddenly down upon it, and then 
swallowed it with a gulp, holding his hand to 
his throat. 

" Why, Joe, what made you do that ? What's 
the matter ? Don't you Kke it ? " 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 453 



a 



Stuff I I bleave I'm pisined, " he answered, 
with rising indignation. 

Agnes burst out into a merry laugh. " What 
an idea! Of course you are not. See here. I'm 
going to eat some of the these grapes from the 
same bunch, and if you are poisoned — then I'm 
poisoned." She ate three or four, and passed the 
bunch to Ruth. ' ' You may try them, too. ' ' 

Ruth smiled, took the grapes and began to eat 
them. 

'• Wei], I see very plainly, Joe, that you don't 
like Malaga grapes," Agnes said, " and I can't 
teach you to like them. But here are the pears — 
you may have these two if you like. " . ' 

" Yes, I'll take 'em. I don't eat 'em myself; 
but I ken sell 'em." 

" Very well. I don't care what you do with 
them. You are welcome to them." 

She turned to Ruth and said something to her 
in a low tone, and the next moment Ruth took 
out her purse and opened it. 

" How much '? " she asked, holding the purse 
toward Agnes. 

" Oh, anything you like. I'll make you my 
almoner. A dollar or so — five dollars, if you 
haven't less. You are in the habit of dispen 
sing '' — she was about to say alms, but instead, 
said — '"good deeds. Hereafter I shall always 
take my purse with me, so as to be prepared— 
as you are, you know. ' ' 

Ruth handed the boy the money, a gold piece; 
he took it, examined it, and then stared first at 
Ruth and then Agnes. 

" I spect you uns didn't mean to gim me so 
mutch?" 

"Oh, yes; that's all right," said Agnes, 



454 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

quickly—" you keep it, and when you do us an- 
other favor, well give you some more/' Then 
turning to Ruth—" Come, darling; we must be 
going. Cousin Helen will be wondering what 
has become of us, and I just know Cousin Ralph 
will think the ponies have run away, or some- 
thing terrible has happened/' 

The girls got into the carriage, while the boy 
stood beside the horses and made a show of hold- 
ing them. " Now, that will do, Joe. You may 
give me the reins, ' ' Agnes said, cheerily. "Thank 
you. See, they are in a hurry to be going. 
" Good-bye, Joe," they both called out, and the 
horses were off. 

By the time they reached home breakfast was 
ready, which fact Nellie announced from the 
front veranda, where she and her mother were 
apparently watching for them. Agnes ran up 
the steps declaring that she felt as if she had 
taken a tonic, which had set her all a-tingling. 

" Then I suppose you are quite ready for your 
breakfast,*' said Mrs. Grayson. 

"Indeed I am, and I hope Aunt Milly has 
some of those nice corn-muffins, that no one can 
make half as good as she. But where is Cousin 
Ralph?" she asked, breaking abruptly off and 
glancing round, " I wanted to see him before he 
went out. ' ' 

" Very well, I shall be most happy to accom- 
modate you," Dr. Leshe said, stepping through 
the open window upon the veranda. " " Do you 
wish to see me now, or will after breakfast do 
as well?" he added, with an amused laugh. 

" Oh, Cousin Ralph ! " she cried, turning sud- 
denly round, much taken by surprise. " I didn't 
know you were anywhere near; but I am so 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 455 

glad. We had a perfectly glorious time this 
morning, and you should have gone with us. 
You don't know how much you missed." 

" I don't doubt it. But is that what you 
wanted to see me about ? " he asked. He could 
not help smiling at her tone. 

" No, no; you know it is not — but, something- 
else — quite another matter altogether. I will tell 
you " — she paused. 

" Well ? " he inquired. 

She shook her head and listened. A silver 
bell was ringing, and Mrs. Grayson was saying, 
" Come, let us go to breakfast." 



456 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 



CHAPTER XLII. 

Through the bright, hapjDy weeks which fol- 
lowed, weeks of almost unbroken gaiety for Ruth 
and Agnes, the flying shuttle of Time was silently 
linking together and weaving in its ever busy 
loom, the tangled broken thrums, as well as the 
smooth silver threads, of certain human Uves in 
our story, and fashioning them into a strangely 
checkered web. 

It only lacked a week of the day fixed for 
Agnes' departure for home. It was Thanksgiv- 
ing day, clear, bright and breezy. As was the 
custom on this day, divine service was being 
held in a number of the city churches, and at one 
of these, the First BajDtist church, Mrs, Gray- 
son, Agnes and Ruth were in attendance. 

The able sermon, by Mr. Burns, the pastor, 
had been concluded with a touching appeal for 
aid in behalf of a most worthy cause — the Ma- 
sonic Orphan Asylum, at Oxford, and which ap- 
peal was being liberally responded to, when sud- 
denly the large congregation was startled by the 
sharp ringing of the fire-bells. 

The bells rang faster and louder. In a few 
moments the church was rapidly but quietly 
emptying. Men, women and children, ran breath- 
lessly past, and to the oft repeated queries, 
' ' Where is it ?" " What is it ?' ' no one seemed to 
know or stopped to make sure. All went rush- 
ing in the direction of the dense cloud of smoke, 
rolling up fierce and lurid in the western part 
of the city. Presently a man cried out as he went 
running by : 

" Yes, it must go. Nothing can save it. It 
is beyond the water-main." 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 457 

" What ? What ? " called out a dozen voices at 
once. 

' ' The Hotel Zinzendorf — the grand, new 
hotel, ' ' was the almost pathetic reply. 

It was, indeed, the beautiful Zinzendorf that 
was on fire, and the flames had made such head- 
way before discovered that nothing short of a 
miracle could possibly save it from total destruc- 
tion. 

Mrs. Grayson drove with Ruth and Agnes from 
the church directly to the burning building ; and 
as soon as they caught sight of it, they knew 
that it was doomed, and in a Httle while all 
would be over. 

It was a terrible, but grand and splendid sight, 
and thousands of spectators looked on from a lit- 
tle distance, awed and fascinated. 

When at last the building was consumed, leav- 
ing nothing but the tall chimneys, the broken 
machinery and some portions of the walls stand- 
ing, which seemed but a cruel mockery, the 
crowd turned away and began slowly to dis- 
perse. The wreck had been complete, and now 
the desolation was already felt. 

It was on the evening after Euth and Agnes 
had returned home from their last drive together, 
that Dr. Leslie met them in the hall with an 
open letter in his hand, and a peculiarly bright 
smile upon his handsome face. He had just come 
from Mrs. Grayson's room. 

"• Now, I just know you have some good news 
for us. Cousin Ralph," was Agnes' merry greet- 
ing, and looking him straight in the face, " I 
can always tell. What is it ? Do let us know. 
We are eager to hear. ' ' 

Dr. Leslie glanced toward Ruth, and let his 
30 



458 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

eyes rest full upon her for a moment before he 
answered, a rosy color flushing her face mean- 
while : 

' ' The letter is addressed to me, but it contains 
news — something which I feel quite sure will 
make Ruth very happy. Let us go into the 
library, and she can read it there without inter- 
ruption. " 

" News for me '?'" Ruth asked in a tone of sur- 
prise, while Agnes drew back hesitatingly, and 
said in the same breath, " Oh, some personal 
matter, perhaps I had better not come if — "" 

She looked from Ruth to her cousin, holding 
her hands behind her. 

' ' Oh, yes you will, ' ' Dr. Leslie said, coax- 
ingly, and he held out his hand to her. "It is 
something you nuist know, too — something I 
beileve will give you almost as much pleasure as 
Ruth. But. as I said, it more directly concerns 
Ruth. Come, both of you." 

As soon as they entered the library Dr. Leslie 
handed Ruth the open letter, saying, '' Read 
that, if you please," and he and Agnes walked to 
the window and sat down, with their backs to 
her, and Agnes began at once to entertain him 
with details of their drive. 

At first Ruth could hardly hold the letter, her 
hand was shaking so. The characters seemed to 
swim before her, and it was several moments 
before she could make out that the writer was 
" William H. Dupont." She waited a moment, 
struggling for composure, then began the letter 
and read it absorbingly through. 

When she had finished a low, convulsive sigh 
escaped her, and Dr. Leshe and Agnes, turning 
quickly round, saw that she had bowed her head 



IX THE NEW ELDORADO. 459 

upon the table before her, and was weeping 
silently. 

Dr. Leslie rose at once and approached her, 
and bending over her, said softly : 

" Why, Ruth, I thought you would be glad. 
Surely you cannot be sorry to knovr that you 
have found a sister. ' ' 

But there was no need to soothe her with 
words of compassion. 

For an instant she was silent — but OQly for an 
instant. In the next she raised her face, radiant 
with triumphant joy. her eyes shining through 
teai's, which she hastily brushed away. 

" 0. I am, I am,'' she said. " Oh, I cannot 
tell you how happy I am. Indeed, I'm crying 
from sheer excess of joy — , " she could say no 
more. 

Agnes had risen in her eagerness, wondering 
what it all meant; and came and knelt beside 
her, slipping one arm around her waist. 

"Have patience with me a little while, Agnes, ' ' 
she said, pushing the letter toward her; " I will 
tell you all about it as soon as I can accustom 
myself to this unexpected happiness. I hardly 
know what I'm doing or what I'm saying — Miss 
Dupont — Eloise Dupont, who nursed Mrs. Gray- 
son through her long illness— do you remember 
her? But, yes, of course you do; why, Agnes, 
she is my sister. ' ' 

"Your sister? You are dreaming! Why, 
Cousin Ralph, what does she mean ? ' " Agnes 
faltered, looking up with astonished eyes into 
her cousin's smiling face. '' Is it true ? I do not 
understand at all."" 

"Yes, it is even so,'' answered Dr. Leslie. 
"And if you will allow me to read you Mr. Du- 



460 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

pont's letter, you will readily understand why, 
or how naturally this is true." 

He took the letter from her hand, and while 
she still knelt beside Ruth, Dr. Leslie read the 
letter aloud, she, meanwhile, listening to every 
word with glowing cheeks and kindling eyes. 
When he was done, Agnes caught Ruth's hands 
between her own, and in her eager, joyous way, 
cried : 

"Oh, darling! darling! Isn't it delightful? 
Let me congratulate you. To think that Miss 
Dupont should turn out to be your half-sister — 
and — and so rich and beautiful and accomplished, 
and now going to be man ied, after such a charm- 
ing romance in her own life. Indeed, it seems 
like some pretty fairy tale, and I'm not quite 
sure that I believe it yet. ' ' 

' ' I can scarcely believe it myself, " ' said Dr. 
Leslie, " but there's no mistaking the plain facts 
in Mr. Dupont s letter." 

' ' Please give me the letter, Cousin Ralph, and 
let me run over some j^arts of it myself. Oh, I 
do wonder what mamma will say when I tell 
her," she added, as Dr. Leslie handed her the 
letter. 

" Now, just listen to this," reading from the 
second page, after skipping the introductory part 
of the document, as though they had not read it 
themselves : ' ' When we agreed to adopt the 
child, for reasons not necessary to state here, we 
exacted from Mr. Arnold a promise that he would 
renounce all claims to her, we, on the other 
hand, agreeing to give her our name and part of 
our fortune, and do by her just as though she 
were our own daughter. Eloise was quite sixteen 
years of age before she knew that we were not 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 461 

her parents; but more than this, Mrs. Dupont 
dedined to divulge. And not even Howard, our 
only son, three years Eloise's senior, w^as aware 
of the true relationship between her and himself 
until he had been one year at Harvard." 

Agnes stopped reading and looked up, laugh- 
ing. 

'' Now, that is what I call a first-class ro- 
mance. Was there ever anything in fiction half 
so fascinating ? Why, I almost wish it w^ere my- 
self. I tell you I'd give a good deal to be the 
heroine of such a pretty story." 

She read on silently a moment, then said, im- 
pulsively, as though this was the first time Dr. 
Leslie and Ruth had heard the contents of the 
letter. " Now listen again — isn't this too good 
to be true ? ' ' 

" Eloise will write her sister. Miss Arnold, to- 
day ; and by the same post you will receive in- 
vitations to attend her and Howard's marriage, 
which will take place on the 12 th of December 
at Grace church, and the reception at my resi- 
dence on Fifth Avenue, the same evening. 

'' Mrs. Dupont joins me in a cordial invitation 
that your entire family — that is, your sister's, or 
any friend or relative that may be visiting you, 
be with us on this happy occasion.' ' 

Agnes could read no more, she dropped the 
letter in Ruth's lap, and looked up, her face 
beaming. 

" So you see that includes your cousin. Miss 
Agnes Grlenwood. Of course we'll go; and I'll 
tell you what else we'll do. You know papa has 
written for us to meet him in New York on the 
6th of December. Well, we can leave here on 
the 5th. Cousin Helen, Ruth and you. Cousin 



462 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

Ealph — remain in New York until after the wed- 
ding, and then Ruth will go home with me and 
stay until you come tor her. Now. isn't that a 
perfectly lovely program ? '' she asked, brightly, 
looking from one to the other. " Indeed, it is 
the only thing that can reconcile rae to leaving 
North Carolina just now." 

Dr. Leslie became grave at once, and with a 
quiet, gentle manner looked down at Ruth and 
asked : 

"Do you approve Agnes' plan, Ruth? Do 
you — would you like to go with her home ? " 

" Yes, I should like to go very much." 

"You sweet darling I " cried Agnes, turning 
and kissing her again and again. ' ' I knew you 
would. Well, I shall consider that point settled; 
and now I'm going to write mamma and tell her 
you are coming. I know she'll be delighted." 

When she reached the door, she stopped, looked 
back, and asked in a faltering tone: 

" Oh, Carl — Cousin Ralph — did you write him 
this morning, as you said you would ?" 

' ' Yes, and I suppose he will get my letter to- 
morrow. By-the-way, that reminds me, I had 
a letter from him to-day. He is going to New 
York with us to tell you good-bye, he says." 
He took a letter from his pocket, meanwhile 
looking at Agnes with twinkling eyes. ' ' Here 
is his letter," he added. " You may read it if 
you like. ' ' 

' ' Very well, ' ' she returned, with a little friendly 
nod, and she tried to look him straight in the 
eyes; but with a low " thank you," she blushed, 
laughed, and then hurriedly left the room. 

In the next two hours interview together, Dr. 
Leslie and Ruth arranged their future plans, and 



TN THE NEW ELDORADO. 4H3 

when she rose to go, it was with a serenely happy 
face she held out her hands to him to say good- 
night. Not less than ten mimites he kept the 
soft palms in his light clasp, while he was speak- 
ing; and when she at last withdrew her hands, 
upon the third finger of the left hand the glitter 
and sparkle of a magnificent diamond ring had 
replaced the brilliant gleam of the emerald and 
pearls. 

Agnes was still sitting up writing when Ruth 
went to her room, but she glaaced up archly 
from her desk and gave a httle yawn, and, the 
next moment catching sight of the splendid jewel 
flashing upon Ruth's hand, with a low, soft 
laugh, she said : 

" Ah, you cunning rogue," then bent her head 
and resumed her letter- writing to — Carl — smil- 
ing softly. 

A few days later Dr. Leslie, Mrs. Grayson and 
Nellie accompanied Agnes and Ruth to New 
York, where Mr. Glen wood met them. Carl 
had joined them at Baltimore, and, though look- 
ing a trifle thinner than when he left home in the 
fall, otherwise he was the same bright, hopeful 
spirit — the same handsome Carl. 

To Mrs. Grayson's anxious inquiries about his 
health, Carl laughingly replied that it was hard 
work that was reducing his avoirdupois, when 
Nellie burst in with — 

''Why, Carl; you know you haven't done a 
thing but write long letters to Cousin Agnes ever 
since you left home. She gets letters from you 
this long "' — holding out both arms full length — 
" every day." 

Carl playfully laid his hand over her mouth, 
and drew her down beside him. 



464 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

" Hush, Nell; you don't know what you are 
talking about; and, besides, little folks shouldn't 
tell tales out of school/' 

" Nor big ones either, " was the pert rejoinder. 

Mr. and Mrs. Dupont and Eloise called the 
next day at the hotel where the Graysons were 
staying, to invite them to their home as their 
guests; but the Graysons were out when they 
called, so the Duponts left their cards, and a note 
of friendly respects, asking them to waive all 
ceremony and dine with them that evening at 
7 o'clock, extending their hospitality to Mr. 
Glenwood and Agnes. 

Punctually at the hour appointed, they drove 
to the palatial Dupont residence oq Fifth Ave- 
nue, not far from Central Park, where they 
were received by the host and hostess — both 
handsome and distinguished-looking people — 
with marked courtesy, and even cordiality, and 
shown every attention. 

The meeting between Ruth and Eloise was 
tenderly affectionate and touching; and Eloise'g 
beautiful face lighted with pleasure when she has- 
tened to Mrs. Grayson, Dr. Leslie and Agnes, 
took them by the hands, and expressed the most 
heart-felt delight at seeiag them again. 

Soon after their arrival, dinner was announced. 
Mrs. Dupont gave the signal, and in due order 
the little party entered the spacious and loftj 
dining-room, where superb plate glittered on the 
board, and beautiful flowers seemed to bloom 
everywhere. The elegant repast, so faultlessly 
served, passed off delightfully. 

When they had adjourned to the drawing- 
room, Eloise, unobserved, managed to draw Ruth 
and Agnes apart from the rest of the company 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 465 

and took them away to her own luxurious apart- 
ments, where for an hour or more they were 
busied in the sweet mysteries which exercise so 
pervading a power over the mind and heart of 
the bride-elect, generally. 

As the Grayson's were leaving, Mrs. Dupont 
held Mrs. Grayson's hand in a warm pressure 
for a few moments, while she said with her most 
gracious smile : 

" I regret that you have denied us both the 
privilege and happiness of having you as our 
guest during your stay in the city, but if you 
are here any length of time, I hope we shall see 
a good deal of you," glancing around the circle. 

While this conversation was going on, Ruth 
drew aside Eloise, and said, caressingly, " When 
shall we be again so happy ? It seems hard to 
give you up so soon after I have found you ; but 
out in the crowded world where your destiny 
must call you, let me beg that you'll not cease 
to love and think of me, my beautiful — my 
peerless sister." 

Eloise slipped her arms gently around her 
and whispered, " Fear not, my sweet sister, 
nothing can ever lessen my love for you, and in 
my heart, side by side with another image, 
yours shall ever live, then how can I forget you, 
little one ? ' ' she added in a playful tone, kissing 
her good-bye. 

Eloise and Howard Dupont 's wedding day 
dawned without a cloud. 

Never did bride look more radiant and beau- 
tiful, never groom hadsomer and happier, than 
did the distinguished couple who, in the full tide 
of their youth and hope, stood before the white 
flower-docked altar in Grace church on a Tues- 



4:6f) UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

day evening, and then and there, in the presence 
of a brilliant throng, and under the flashing ra- 
diance of electric lights and the thrilling strains 
of sweet music, mingled with the grave, low 
tones of the minister's voice, solemnly joined 
their destinies for better or for worse. 

Immediately following the beautiful and im- 
pressive marriage service, the reception held at 
the magnificent mansion of the Duponts was an 
event so sumptuous and brilliant that it was 
unusually notable, even among the elite of the 
fashionable world who were present. 

Two days later the sad partings — too sad to 
dwell upon, were over. Mr. Glenwood, Agnes 
and Euth had departed for California, and Dr. 
Leslie, Mrs. Grayson and Nellie had gone to their 
home in the South, while Carl returned to Balti- 
more to resume the medical course he was pur- 
suing. 

Howard Dupont took his bride abroad for a 
year's travel, and w^ould spend the winter in 
Egypt. 

The months which followed sped swiftly by, 
and very active, busy months they were, too, 
for Dr. Leslie. 

The winter snows fell and melted, and the 
winter winds changed so swiftly, yet naturally, 
into mild spring breezes, and these as rapidly 
softened into fragrant summer zephyrs, that ere 
one fully realized the charm of the fading season, 
suggestions of autumn tints were beginning to 
show^ themselves amongst the foliage of the trees. 

One evening, toward the close of September, 
when the local evening paper announced, as it 
generally did from time to time, the names of 
its citizens coming and going to the World's 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 467 

Great Exposition at Chicago, it was without sur- 
prise or comment that one read among the hst, 
the names of Dr. Leshe and the Graysons. To 
be sure they would go. It would have seemed 
a little singular for them not — people with am- 
ple means, cultivated tastes, and who went almost 
everywhere. 

But, three weeks later, when the same local 
paper contained an extracted communication 
from a San Francisco paper of an event which 
had recently occurred in that city, an event in 
which Dr. Leslie and the Graysons figured prom- 
inently, it caused a ripple of excitement which 
rose ^vave high, and so improbable did it seem 
to the majority, that some even smiled with a 
self-complacent sneer, to think that a ay one 
should be found credulous enough to take the 
matter seriously. 

'* Nothing but a fake — a newspaper sensation. 
Bah! don't believe a word of it," sneered these 
wise skeptics. The communication alluded to 
and which had set the town agog, read as fol- 
lows: 

" Leslie- Arnold. A pretty wedding occurred 
this morning about 8 o'clock at the magnificent 

home of Mr. and Mrs. George Glenwood, on 

Street, the lovely bride being Miss Ruth Arnold, 
formerly of this city, now of North Carolina; 
and the groom. Dr. Ralph Leslie, an eminent 
physician from the same State. 

" Amongst the immediate friends and rela- 
tives of the bride and groom who witnessed the 
ceremony, and afterwards attended the elegant 
reception, were the groom's sister, Mrs. Helen 
Grayson and her daughter, Miss Nellie, who ac- 
companied him from North Carolina. 



468 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES: OR, 

" Dr. and Mrs. Leslie will leave at noon to-day 
for New York, and from thence sail for an ex- 
tended tour abroad. ' ■ 

Previous to this event, the Glenwoods and 
Ruth had spent a month at the World's Exposi- 
tion, and here Carl had joined them, but he did 
not attend his uncle's marriage. 

There had been some talk of a double wedding, 
but Carl and Agnes had made other arrange- 
ments, and he had to serve another year. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 469 



CHAPTER XLIII. 

It was a lovely Judg afternoon, golden with 
sunshine and redolent with the perfume of roses. 
It was the day after Dr. Leslie and Ruth had re- 
turned from their bridal journey. 

A carriage with visitors, who had come to call 
and to offer their congratulations and friendly 
respects, had just departed when Dr. Leslie's 
own handsome pha:^ton drove up to the side en- 
trance a ad stopped, the driver stepped quickly 
down, and then stood waiting. 

Only a few minutes, however, he had to wait, 
for presently Dr. Leslie and Ruth appeared in 
the doorway. She was dressed in the daintiest 
of white mull, exquisitely trimmed in lace, and 
wore a richly plumed white hat. 

As she paused to fasten her gloves, she did not 
see that her husband, who was looking at least 
ten years younger, was watching her with ad- 
miring eyes and a smile of perfect content, while 
he was thinking that in all her life, with all her 
grace and puiity and sweetness, she had never 
looked so beautiful as she did now. 

Just then a little figure, clad in airy robes of 
white, with bright eyes and shining hair, glided 
softly up behind her, and suddenly a pair of tiny 
arms clasped her tightly around the waist. 

'' Oh, Cousin Ruth, do let me kiss you good- 
bye before you go. Pshaw ! There it is again, 
I will call you Cousin Ruth, and Carl said I 
musn't — but you know that you are not my aunt 
at all. Let me put my arms around your neck 
just once, and give you one little squeeze. I 
shan't crumple your laces one bit. You know I 



470 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

love you so much, Cousin Ruth, and I'm so 
sorry — " 

NelHe checked herself suddenly, and looked 
confused, then added: 

" Yes, I love you next to Carl, Uncle Ralph 
and mamma,'' 

At the mention of her mother's name, Mrs. 
Grayson came out on the veranda, and going 
quickly up to Ruth, laid her hand caressingly 
upon her shoulder, and kissed her two or three 
times, saying, " I hope you will have a pleasant 
drive, my dear. The weather is fine for such 
recreation this afternoon. Grod bless you, dar- 
ling, ' ' she could not help adding, fervently, when 
Rnth had responded to her remark, and then 
turned and preceded Dr. Leslie down the steps, 
at the same moment, overhearing Nellie say to 
her mother : 

" Oh, Mamma; I did so want to tell her." 

" What did she mean ? " Ruth asked herself. 
" Tell me what '? " But the next instant she put 
the wondering thought away. She would not 
suffer any cloud of conjecture to shadow the gol- 
den sunshine of the happy present. 

Before taking her seat in the phaeton she went 
up to Nabob and Prince and patted each on his 
glossy neck by way of a friendly greeting. 

"They are just as beautiful as ever," she 
said, with almost childish delight; "and I do 
believe they know me. See how they toss their 
pretty heads. If possible they are handsomer 
than they were when I saw them last." 

' ' Yes, I think they are myself, ' ' said Dr. Les- 
lie, and with an indulgent smile he went up to 
her, and in the most delicately considerate way 
took out his pocket handkerchief and wiped her 
daintily gloved hands. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 471 

The caress — 'for it seemed nothing more than 
a gentle caress, was so eloquent with self -deny- 
ing fondness, that she looked up at him with a 
radiant smile — a smile so radiant that it made 
him feel how pleasant a thing it was to have the 
constant care of this lovely girl committed to his 
charge as his precious wife. It seemed to him 
as though his eyes had been suddenly opened, 
for he looked upon her now with such a new 
and tender interest, such a sweet and protecting 
devotion. Yes, all these emotions though familiar, 
had a new significance to him now, while blend- 
ing and absorbing another's life history with his 
own. 

" To the boulevard, John," said Dr. Leslie to 
the driver, when he had mounted to his seat, and 
Dr. Leslie turned smilingly, waved his hand to 
Mrs. Grayson and Nellie, who stood watching 
them from the veranda, and soon the vehicle 
whirled rapidly out of sight. 

That was a wonderfully delightful drive to 
Ruth, aod the delicious memories which clung 
about that afternoon she never foi-got through 
all the changing scenes of her life. She was so 
supremely happy and content, and even Nabob 
and Prince seemed to know that this was a spe- 
cial occasion, for they flew along the hard, level 
roads as if girded with new life and energy, 
proudly arching and tossing their heads, their 
silver-tipped harness flashing in the sunlight, 
and soon they were far beyond the environments 
of the city. 

Overhead the sky was one glorious vault of 
blue, while the air was harmonious with the song 
of birds and permeated with the sweet scent of 
wild flowers. 



472 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

When the driver at last turned the horses' 
heads homeward, there was a luminous fading 
sun-glow over the quiet landscape, and the shad- 
ows vv^ere slowly lengthening toward the west. 

As they passed the Military School, perched 
high upon the crest of a beautiful wooded hill- 
side with its terraced lawn and barrack square 
spreading away in front, a squad of cadets in 
blue-gray uniforms, drawn up in line, were pre- 
paring to go through with some military ma- 
noeuver, while their bright bayonets gUnted and 
flashed as they caught the rays of the departing 
sun. 

Instead of returning by the way they had come, 
they turned to the right, and the driver gradu- 
ally slackened the pace of the well-trained horses 
to a leisurely gait ; and, as Ruth leant back in 
her seat, watching the rhythmical roll of the glint- 
ing wheels and listening to the low, pleasant 
tones of her husband's voice, some of the joy 
which filled her heart was reflected in the sweet 
smile on her lovely face. 

Now they were driving slowly past a spot, 
where not many months ago no sign of a habi- 
tation stood — simply a vacant lot, smooth and 
green, with picturesque stretches all about it. 

Ruth, looking in the direction, gave a sudden 
start, and under the shock of a great surprise, 
turned and stared at Dr. Leslie with a perfectly 
amazed countenance. 

" Arcadia Villa," he said, with an enigmatical 
smile, answering her astouished look. ' ' The place, 
since you saw it last, has been converted into a 
private home — one of beauty and loveliness. The 
magical transformation took place during your 
absence from the city. ' ' 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 473 

' ' It is indeed very lovely, ' ' she said, earnestly, 
then sat silent and thoughtful, while her eyes 
roved admiringly from object to object on the 
beautiful place. 

In the midst of the exquisite park-like lawn, 
which was adorned with statuary, fountains, 
and grass plats with evergreen shrubs, stood an 
imposing mansion, surmounted by a red-tile 
roof. The walls were built o: pressed brick, with 
trimmings of light stone highly carved, and from 
base to finale, its proportions were symmetrical 
and its ornamentation artistic. 

Sloping away to the right of the lawn, a flight 
of stone steps, son]e two hundred feet or more 
in length, led gradually down to an artificial lake, 
whose pebbly margin was fringed with ferns, 
grasses and lilies. 

On either end of the steps were tall, white 
marble vases filled with gorgeous foliage and 
tropical plants. 

To the left of the lake, a pretty gondola, gayly 
painted, lay motionless at its anchorage, while 
two snow-white swans gracefully breasted the 
sunht ripples of the crystal waters. 

Directly in front of the splendid portico of the 
residence, which stood out from the facade in 
perfect symmetry, was a fountain of exquisite 
design, and beneath, sparkling water played 
amid gold a,nd silver fish and rare water plants. 

The winding walks were paved in imitation of 
Roman Mosaic, and a circular carriage-way led 
up through the porte-cochere to the left of the 
mansion. 

The beautiful and luxuriant woodland in the 
rear, which was artificially embellished, made an 
appropriate background to this sumptuous home, 
31 



474 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

fit for the habitation of a fairy queen or an im- 
perial princess. 

An ornamental iron fence seven feet high and 
painted black surrounded the handsome grounds, 
and protected them from curious intruders. 

When the carriage had reached the upper part 
of the grounds, along the public driveway. Ruth 
turned to Dr. Leslie and said, " I recall when 
Agnes and I drove past here the last time to- 
gether, we spoke of this situation as being a most 
charming site for a private residence. I'ni so 
glad that some one with cultivated and artistic 
tastes has converted it into this ideal home — a 
home that excels outwardly at least, anything 
that my most vivid fancy had ever pictured. 

"Would you cctve to go in and see the grounds?"" 
Dr. Leslie asked, taking out his watch and glanc- 
ing at it. " There is a large conservatory on the 
other side which cannot be seen from here, " ' he 
resumed, " and which leads out from the dining- 
room, and this, in turn, leads into an admirably 
arranged winter garden, vv^hich I think is one of 
the most attractive features of the grounds 

" This winter garden is entirely covered with 
glass, and contains running fountains, graveled 
walks, palms and rustic seats. Then adjoining 
this are the hothouses, where flowers, grapes 
and other small fruits, also vegetables, are culti- 
vated."" 

Ruth turned quickly, with a surprised look, 
and for a second or two regarded him intently. 

" Are you in earnest about going in ? Do you 
know these people ? Are they friends of yours ?'" 

With that soft pleasant laugh, which she loved 
so dearly to hear, he took the ]iains to answer 
each one of her questions. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 475 

" Yes, Fm in earnest about seeing the grounds. 
I know ' these people, ' and they are friends of 
mine, and yours, too, my dear, as for that 
matter. 

Meanwhile John had pulled up the horses, and 
sat patiently waiting for orders. 

" Well, shall we go '? " Dr. Leslie asked, with 
an amused twinkle in his eyes. 

" Oh, certainly, I shall be glad to do so; and 
anywhere else you go, I'll cheerfully follow," 
lowering her voice at the last sentence, to the 
exclusion of the driver. 

Dr. Leslie gave the order, and when the car- 
riage drew up beside the porch, and he had helped 
her out, he suggested that they would better go 
into the house first before making a tour of the 
grounds, playfully remarking that it was not 
always wisest to take too many liberties even 
with one's friends. 

" But our cards,"" said Ruth, with all a wo- 
man's punctiliousness about such formalities. 
" You know I haven't any with me; fori didn't 
expect to go calling." 

" Oh. never mind about the (;ards. I'll un- 
dertake to make it all right with our friends if 
need be." he said, good-humoredly. 

In response to their ring, it was i>romptly an- 
swered — not by a footman dressed in livery, as 
Ruth had expected to see — but a good-looking, 
neatly dressed maid, in the whitest of lace- 
trimmed cap and apron, whom Dr. Leslie ad- 
dressed as Corinne. and who conducted them 
through the grand hall, with its tunneled-shaped 
ceiling and mosaic marble floor, in the centre of 
whicli a small fountain tossed a high jet of 
sparkling, perfumed spray, and then fell with a 



47(i UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

melodious bubble upon a bed of rare ferns and 
exotics growing around its base — a hall, where 
here and there beautiful palms and flowers were 
arranged in exquisite taste — then on to the splen- 
did drawing-room which was unrivalled in 
beauty and elegance, and held objects of great 
rarity and value. 

Without waiting for them to explain the ab- 
sence of cards, or even asking whom they wished 
to see, with a significant smile the maid quietly 
turned and left the room. 

Ruth glanced inquisitively around, and then 
with a puzzled look turned to Dr. Leslie for an 
explanation of what to her was beginning to as- 
sume an air of mystery. 

Keenly enjoying her perplexity, and with a 
bright smile beaming on his handsome face, he 
rose at once and approached her, and taking her 
hand in his, said : 

" I have not had much experience, darling, in 
playing the part I've just been enacting, but you 
will, I know, forgive me for not sharing with you 
this once my little secret, and allow me now to 
cordially welcome you to your home — our home. 

With a mingled joy and surprise unspeakable 
of happy wifehood gleaming from her lovely, 
wistful eyes — eyes still wistful, but with such a 
happy wistfulness, she repeated: 

" My home '? Our home ? " raising her brov.s. 

"Yes, darling, our home," he said gently, 
drawing her to him. 

" It was a pet whim of mine to plan and ex- 
ecute this surprise for you while you were absent 
from the city. I employed skilled architects and 
artisans to faithfully carry out my designs, 
binding them to secrecy until such a time as I 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 477 

should give them permission to speak, in order 
that my surprise might be complete. 

" Mrs. Grayson, Carl and Nellie also cooper- 
ated with me in my scheme, but more than once, 
Nellie came very near betraying me, and no 
longer than tliis afternoon, when we were leav- 
ing, I heard her say to her mother: ' Oh, 
mamma. I did so want to tell her.' Though 
you gave no sign of having heard, I felt quite 
sure that you did, and, perhaps, wondered 
what she meant; and I suspect, had you asked 
me then and there for an explanation, I would 
have told you the v/hole truth, rather than the 
least suspicion of something unpleasant, and 
which you did not understand, should have given 
you a moment's pain. I knew you would sus- 
pect nothing by Mrs. Grayson and Nellie bidding 
you good-bye, since this was not an ususual 
thing for them to do whenever you went out ; 
and then Mrs. Grayson did it in such a natural 
matter-of-course way this afternoon, that no one 
not in the secret would have thought that she 
was carrying out her part of a carefully arranged 
program. 

" But come," he went on, " don't you want to 
see something of the home that I've prepared for 
you ? Let us go over the house now, or some parts 
of it, and to-morrow you can inspect the grounds, 
conservatory and winter garden at your leisure. 
I cannot tell you what a labor of love all this has 
been to me, and the sequel proves — " 

" That it has not been in vain," Ruth said 
quickly, finishing the sentence for him. Then 
she looked up in his face and asked in a tremb- 
hng, pleading voice and through a mist of tears : 

" Oh. how shall I ever repay you; how shall 
I ever thank you ? ' ' 



47 S UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

" By always loving and trusting me as you do 
now," he answ^ered fervently. 

Ruth's implicit faith and confidence in him 
had always touched him deeply, and he had often 
told her it had heen a strong stimulus, which 
helped to uplift and inspire him to become more 
and more worthy of her confidence and love. 

As they went out into the grand hall, whose 
splendid uplook could not be surpassed in deli- 
cacy, beauty and magnificence, and passed from 
room to room, Dr. Leslie gave her a succinct ac- 
count of everything pertaining thereto, and of 
other things which he thought would interest 
her. 

The picture gallery, which opened on the main 
hall, Ruth decided to inspect another time, wiien 
she should have ample leisure to enjoy and ad- 
mire its rare treasures ; so, after a hurried sur- 
vey of one or two paintings, they crossed the 
main hall and entered the music rooai, which 
was presided over by the Muses. 

Ruth must have been talking of Agnes' and 
Carl's approaching marriage elsewhere, for she 
now said: 

' ' It seems I can scarcely wait until December, 
w^hen Agnes is to come," then she paused and 
added quickly, '• Not that I need or want another 
thing "to add to my happiness. Oh, no; for 
there's nothing lacking — not one thing— but it 
will be so hard to keep all this from her, just to 
enjoy her surprise as you did uiine — and yet, I 
so long that she should know." 

Dr. Leslie smiled indulgently, walked to the 
piano and opened it, then turning to her. asked : 

" Won't you play something, dear ? Anything, 
so it be a song. ' ' 



IN THE NEAV ELDORADO. 47 !i 

" With pleasure." she said, seating herself at 
the splendid instrument, and taking off her 
gloves, began to glide her lingers over the keys 
like a professional, to test its melody and sweet- 
ness. 

' ' Home, Sweet Home, ' " was the song she 
sang, and as the delicious harmony filled the 
room her entrancing voice gained in enchanting, 
seductive sweetness, which beguiled the very 
soul of her listener, as though he were listening 
to some holy chime from the spirit world, and 
gradually he seemed lifted up into a purer and 
liolier atmosphere, far above the bitter tears, the 
cruel sorrows, and the restless passions of a sin- 
sick world. Ruth's singing always moved him 
thus; and when she rose from the seat, she 
looked gratefully up into his face with the sweet- 
est smile, in answer to his words of honest praise. 

All of the rooms opening on the main hall had 
sliding doors, hung on noiseless tracks, and so 
arranged that on any special occasion or fete 
night, the beautiful rooms could be thrown into 
one grand salon, which, when lighted by two 
large crystal chandeliers, made a spectacle so 
brilliant and beautiful, that nothing short of 
fairy-land could equal it. 

From the pretty breakfast room, with its 
graceful and artistic ornamentation, they went 
into the spacious and lofty dining-room, with its 
splendid carvings, symbolic emblems and music 
gallery, and Ruth laughingly said that they 
should never have any use for this magnificent 
room except on ' ' state occasions. ' ' 

" What about the reception you intend to give 
Carl and Agnes?"" Dr. Leslie asked, smiling — 
" and Eloise and Howard a little later ? "" 



480 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 



(( 



Oh, they will be 'state occasions, " of course, " 
she answered, laughing " But I mean to have 
them all here together; and then there's some- 
thing else,'' she said. "Oh, such a charming 
little entertainment that occurs to me I should 
like to give — won't 3^011 let me do it — may I do 
j ust as I please about it '? ' ' 

She went up to him and laid her hand on his 
arm, smiling pleadingly, up into his face. 

'' Why, certainly, darling; anything you like," 
he said, responding to her sweet coaxing. •' But 
you've made me inquisitive. Am I to know now, 
or you'll tell me later on ? " 

" I have no perfected plan yet; the idea just 
came to me. But it is something in connection 
with my mission school. And you are very sure 
you'll not object ? " she persisted, gazing at him 
earnestly. 

"Most emphatically I shall not object," he 
returned, with a laugh. 

Upon the superb buffet in this room, were the 
most beautiful cut-glass, exquisite china and 
solid silver, many of these pieces being bridal 
gifts from personal friends. 

In the centre of a long table, which was cov- 
ered with a cloth of green plush, richly embroid- 
ered, stood an elegant silver epergne, one of 
Mrs. Grayson's gifts. 

From this room they passed on to the library, 
where Ruth found in the low, open bookcases 
all her favorite volumes and many more besides, 
in handsome and costly bindings. 

Taking Ruth's hand and placing it upon his 
arm. Dr. Leslie said, " Now, come with me, there 
is one other place I want to show you — some- 
thing I've reserved to show you last — a sort of 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 4S1 

shrine or private sanctum IVe set apart for your 
own special use, where no one, no, not even I 
shall dai-e to intrude without first obtaining per- 
mission from your royal highness.'' 

As he was speaking he led her up the marble 
stairway, capped by a classic balustrade, and 
passed through her bedroom and dressing- 
room, with their delicate rose-colored and silver 
hangings, and paused in front of a closed door, 
over which hung a blue velvet portiere, stamped 
with a Venetian pattern of gold, and sweeping 
the curtain aside, he gently slided the door on 
its track. 

In the deepening twilight Ruth could not see 
clearly the interior of the handsome apartment; 
but the next moment, when Dr. Leslie crossed 
the floor and shuttered the large plate-glass win- 
dow, which had been thrown open that morning 
to admit the pure air and warm sunshine, then 
touched an electric button, instantly a hundred 
gas jets, it seemed to her, sprang into flame, and 
involuntarily she uttered a cry of surprise and 
delight. 

Never was the truly poetical theory more 
gracefully and effectively put into practice than 
in this restful, fascinating retreat. It was a 
dream of beauty and magnificence. 

The velvet panels of the walls were embroid- 
ered in gold, silver and chenille, with a border of 
velvet in contrasting color, embroiderd in the 
same way, while the ceiling was painted in grace- 
ful designs of wreaths and ribbons, encircling a 
centre piece significant of rosy sleep. The rugs 
were of exquisite designs and texture, and 
seemed almost too dainty to be trodden upon. 

The framework of the furniture was gold aud 



482 UNDER GOLDEN SKIES; OR, 

white upholstered with satin brocade of pale 
pink. 

There were a small sofa and chairs, and a satin- 
wood desk, beautifully finished. Upon this lay 
a paper knife of tortoise shell and gold, with ru- 
bies and diamonds in the handle, and which Dr. 
Leslie told her was a gift from Carl. Near it 
was a beautiful white velvet covered Bible, with 
clasp and binding of gold, and upon opening the 
lid, Ruth read on the blank leaf, in Mrs. Gray- 
son's large, familiar^iand : 

" To dear Cousin Ruth 
From her loving little friend, 
Nellie Leslie Grayson." 

On the little table, near the window, was a 
photograph of Agnes, in a delicately carved oxi- 
dized silver frame ; and as soon as Ruth saw this, 
with a throbbing heart she took it up, looked at 
the sweet face long and steadily, then replacing 
it upon the table, she went up to her husband, 
holding out both hands to him, her eyes still 
shining through a dew of tears, though the smile 
upon her lips was full of happiness, and said in 
a voice low and sweet — sweeter in intonation 
than he had ever heard : 

" Oh, Dr. Leslie — Ralph, Qiy generous and no- 
ble husband, if I could but thank you as I feel! 
But— . ' ' she hesitated a moment, looking fondly 
into his splendid eyes — " but, as much as I ap- 
preciate and admire the beautiful things in life — 
m Nature as well as in Art — God's creations and 
man's inventions, as much as I shall love and 
thank you for this grand and luxurious home, 
with ah its rich a ad costly surroundings, which, 
even in its influence is uplifting and ennobling, 
yet, to me, it would be but a dreary place in- 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 483 

deed, a mere gilded cage, if the light and hope 
of your dear presence were withdrawn, and I 
knew that I had not that richest blessing of a 
wedded woman's life — her husband's love: and 
which, with the crowning glory of the love of 
Christ, is more to me than all the world beside."' 

His hand, which had softly held hers as she 
spoke, now closed tightly over them, he led her 
to a seat and sat down, and then putting his arm 
around her. drew her head to his bosom. It 
seemed to him in that one short hour she had 
become tenfold more attractive and dearer to 
him than ever before. 

' ' Ruth, my darling, I cannot tell you how in- 
expressibly ha})pyyou have made me; and never 
before have I realized so sensibly, that God ever 
plans for us a better w^ay. Years ago. at the very 
beginning of my career, when there fell a blight 
upon my hopes, affections and aspirations, when 
all my most carefully laid plans were thwarted 
and arrested, and for a time all the possibilities 
of life seemed like a failure, in my feeling of 
despair and sense of helplessness I was quite 
ready to give up, and say, there is nothing in 
human existence worth while. I could not see 
with my blinded eyes that those bitter experien- 
ces were a part of the divine plan — the divine 
discipline, and that an unerring Hand was guid- 
ing my faltering feet — not in the pleasant paths 
I would have chosen, but over a rugged and per- 
ilous [tathway. which was to bring me up to that 
height whence I could have a broader, deeper 
and higher view of life, and where the Infinite 
One — the Author of Christianity — was to teach 
me my duty to and bring me in closer touch 
with my fellow-men; teach me the lesson that 



4S+ UNDKR GOLDEN SKIES; OR. 

SO many of us are so slow to learii, that living 
works, rather than cold, dead formalities, are 
required by Him who went about doing good. 

' ' I feel and know now as I never did before 
that the Christianity that Christ taught when 
upon earth, and the Christianity that He is teach- 
ing us to-day, is not limited by any narrow boun- 
daries which our puny, finite mind can com- 
pass, but is broad and grand, and as unfathoma- 
l3le and measureless as the great sea of space 
itself. 

'' Then let us, my darling, as His stewards, 
whom we are, and whom He has so richly bles- 
sed, thank Him daily for the honor and privilege 
which He has given us to feed the hungry, 
clothe the naked, give consolation to the broken- 
hearted and carry the gospel of peace and good- 
wiJl to men. 

' ' Yes, our work lies all around us. The present 
is ours, and we must make the most of it. ' ' 

Dr. Leslie paused, reached out his hand and 
took the little Bible from the table, and opening 
it at the one hundred and forty-fifth Psalm, laid 
the book uj^on his knee, and resumed : 

" Let us take fresh courage and heart of hope, 
my dear, as we set out on our life's journey to- 
gether, first consecrating our home which He 
has ODly lent us for a little while, and all that we 
have and are, to His service and His glory. If 
He has given us more of the temporal blessings 
of life than some others, it is not that we may 
selfishly use and enjoy them, but that we may 
more largely benefit humanity and alleviate its 
sufferings — that all these beautiful things by 
which He has surrounded us may be a stimulus 
and an inspiration to better and higher things, 
imperishable. 



IN THE NEW ELDORADO. 485 

'' Let us, as we struggle up through conflict 
to that high destiny which the God of love, and 
the Father of mercy would have His children 
reach, and which destiny Christ the Son of God 
has made possible, bravely take up the duties of 
life, bear patiently its burdens, be true to our- 
selves and to the Kingdom of God. We must 
follow Jesus — the Christ — if we would wrest 
from life and the world the victories that are 
possible for all. 

' ' His cross must be our cross — His will our 
will, and then when we are done with the things 
of this world, and if we have come out of the 
battle pure and strong, we can with hope and 
certainty look forward to a home in that bright 
and beautiful Beyond, ^^lere you and I, and all 
the blood-washed that are near and dear to us 
here, shall be there forever united, yea, under 
golden skies, and with the blessed Christ, in 
whose footsteps we have ever tried obediently 
to follow all the wav. ' ' 

THE END. 



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