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v^: V' ' 



J-*^ ^ 



The 
VICTORY 

OF 

EZRY 
GARDNER 



1 



BY 

IMOGEN CLARK 



"A/b/ sufferings hut faint heart ^ 
is worst of woesy 

LOWBLL 



NEW YORK: 46 East 14TH Strkbt 

THOMAS Y. CROWELL & COMPANY 
BOSTON: 100 Purchasb Strebt 



^\%% 



Oj.S*.'-^ '. . 



. ■ • ■ 






\ V^' 



COPTBIGHT, 1896, 

Bt Thomas T. Cbowbll ft Compant 



. • 
■» » 



ROC KWJ LL AJn> CHUI^CHrLX PRXSa 
BOSTON 



• * 












*fc 



5 
i 



To 

MY DEAR FRIEND 

ROBERT COLLYER 



THE VICTORY OF EZRY 
GARDNER. 



I. 



I know not any place 

So fair as this, 
Swung here between the blue 

Of sea and sky. 

James Whitcomb Riley. 

Everybody on the Island knew Gardner. 
Like those joyous, sylvan creatures who 
dwelt in the woods when Time was young, 
he was inextricably bound up with his 
surroundings. The bond between him 
and them was forged by love — love for 
the little common-place things — pebbles. 



6 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

grasses, the wave breaking on the sandy 
shore, the flower beckonmg like a star from 
the greenery. These were the delights of 
his simple heart. The barren spot, swept 
by every wind and beaten by the bitter 
brine for unknown centuries, was as fair in 
his sight as the Islands of the Blest. 

The old town, rising in amphitheatrical 
dignity above the harbor, was like some 
wonderful dream-city to his untutored eyes. 
Its narrow, rambling streets widened to mar- 
vellous thoroughfares in his fancy, and the 
large, hospitable houses seemed flt homes 
for royalty itself. He gloried in the wharves 
where the stout ships lay moored after 
their long voyages to the lands over seas, 
whence they had brought back treasures to 
beautify the sleepy place. He was proud 
of everything there, though his home was 
on the other side of the Island, in the tiny 



The Victory of E^ty Gardner. 7 

fishing-village huddled on the cliff in view 
of the vast expanse of water stretching 
between the New World and the Old. 

But far deeper than the pride he felt in 
the handiwork of the Island's sons, was his 
affection for the land itself aud for the 
great, rolling ocean that caressed and 
chafed its shores by turns. There was no 
sweeter music to his hearing than the voice 
of the sea. 

"It's comp'ny fer me," he used to de- 
clare when old age had loosened his tongue, 
"an* I ain't never tired o' hearin' it. 
'Pears ez ef it olluz hed suthin' to say. 
Sometimes it's takin' on an' lamentin' fer 
all them pore souls gone to Davy Jones' 
locker, an' sometimes it 's angry an' lashin' 
itself inter a storm; an' ag'in it's sullen, 
an' ag'in it 's sweet an' gentle like a mother 
singin' ' Sleep, my chil' ! ' It 's like a 



8 The Victory of E^ty Gardner. 

woman — it 's never quiet, an' ye can't 
mostly tell 'bout itg moods. Wut ye expee' 
an* lay out fer it to be is jes* wut it never 
is. But it 's good comp'ny all the same. I 
know ef I wuz to die, an' they laid me away 
on the mainland ware the sound o' the 
sea 'd never come, thet I could n't rest quiet 
in my grave. No, sir-ee, w'en I go I 
want ter be put on the moors, an' then I '11 
sleep sound till Jedgment Day!" 

His love for the moors that lay between 
the town and the little fishing- village, link- 
ing the one to the other, was as strong as 
his passion for the sea. It had its roots in 
his innermost being. It was part of his life. 
He had wandered over them in all seasons 
— in storm and sunshine alike — and their 
wild beauty had sunk deep into his soul. 
He could not explain the feeling; he did 
not know that the great Mother held his 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 9 

heart in her mighty hands and answered its 
needs in many ways. Nor did he under- 
stand the shibboleth of the summer people 
who invaded the Island in later years ; it 
was meaningless jargon to him. " The rest- 
fulness and the immensity of the moors," 
" the lights and shades and tender gradation 
of color," were phrases that carried no 
weight to his slow mind. He did not com- 
prehend the ecstasy that could break into 
words at the sight of some tiny, sweet- water 
pool gleaming amidst the tangle of weeds, 
like a mirror set in an emerald frame. He 
knew its whereabouts, and always glanced 
its way in passing as one seeks recognition 
from friendly eyes. The familiar object 
gladdened him vaguely, and the pagan in 
the man was stirred to some sort of worship 
by the beauty of the clear waters that held 
a bit of the heavens in their clasp. 



4 



10 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

Still the evident appreciation of the stran- 
gers pleased him in the main ; their admira- 
tion for the things he loved touched an 
answermg chord in his breast, though its 
vibrations found no outlet in speech. 
Their rapturous expressions were incompre- 
hensible, and yet he realized that they were 
prompted by some charm in the downs 
which, to his way of thinking, were "on- 
common sightly ; " but the contemptuous 
terms of "lonesome" and "barren" 
awakened a dull resentment within him. 
Lonesome — never! More times than he 
could ever number he had found consola- 
tion on those plains and the company of 
sweetest sights and sounds. 

From his earliest childhood he had leant 
on Nature's heart. Shy, dreamy, silent, 
he had lived his life apart from others. 
The sea, with its mighty voice eternally 




The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 11 

responsive to some whisper without his 
world, brought him comfort. The level 
stretch of wind-swept land revealed her 
manifold beauties to his watching eyes. 
Not love the moors? — He were ungrate- 
ful else. He had seen them in all their 
aspects — flushed with the tender light of 
dawn — beautiful under the noon sun — 
radiant with the colors of the after-glow 
streaming far across the sky. The twilight 
had shrouded their familiar outlines from 
his view and the moon's magic had trans- 
formed them into a fairness beyond the gift 
of day. The soft greens of spring, the 
deeper hues of maturity, the flaunting 
splendors of autumn and the white glories 
of winter in turn appealed to him, 
and through every phase his love for the 
plains grew stronger. 

They had no secrets from him. When 



12 The Victory of ET^y Gardner. 

the clangor of wild geese filled the air in the 
early spring he felt intuitively that the long 
season of frost was over ; he looked eagerly 
at the steady, wedge-like flight streaming 
northward across the sky, and, as the shrill 
clamors were shaken down, his heail; 
bounded with joy. Later, when the blue- 
bird flashed its keen brightness in the sun, 
sounding its plaintive cry, — " Deary, oh, 
deary ! " — he knew by some subtle sum- 
mons that the trailing arbutus was spreading 

its faint fragrance abroad and hastened 
gladly to its haunts. The soft south wind 
breathed its message to the slumbering 
flowers, and at the word of command — 
Ephphatha I — they raised their eyes and 
looked out upon the world. 

What a paradise of beauty the moors 
became then to him ! He hailed each new 
blossom with rapturous delight. In his 



The Victory of E^^ry Gardner. 13 

love for the tender, growing things he was 
one with Keats — poor Keats ! — who told 
his faithful Severn in those sad last days in 
Eome that he thought his intensest pleasure 
had been to watch the growth of the flow- 
ers. There was some faint bond of kinship 
between the richly dowered son of Genius 
and that other — timid, illiterate, voiceless 
as he was — the child of that bleak Island 
off the chill New England shore. They both 
loved Nature and waited upon her, — the 
one with words which have become the 
world's pride, the other with a mute but 
fervid worship. 

No tiniest flower that was not dear in 
Gardner's sight — he viewed them all with 
fond impartiality! The Blackberry blos- 
soms in bridal white, the little, golden stars 
of the Arnica plant gleaming in the grass- 
grown furrows, the homely Yarrow every- 



14 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

where in profusion, the feathery clusters of 
Wild-Carrot like "delicate pats of snow- 
flakes," the Dandelions, the sweet-scented 
Clover, and the scarlet Pimpernel. That 
little flower, with its wonderful wisdom, 
seemed more than human to him — he had 
known it all his life by its common name of 
" Poor-man's weather-glass." As a boy he 
had consulted it whenever there was a pros- 
pect of childish sport in store for him, 
kneeling before it to ask with bated breath, 
" Will it rain ? " The Pimpernel never failed 
him — never withheld its knowledge obtained 
by laws which we cannot question, but 
must recognize as infallible. How wise it 
was ! Often, when there was no cloud in 
the blue, it would clasp its small, red petals 
together, hiding its golden heart in safety 
from the shower that never tarried in its 
coming. 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 15 

Summer after summer he watched the 
different blooms on the moors and by the 
swamps. He saw the little Housatoiiia 
whiten the roadside at one time, and later 
the Hudsonia gild the plain. The purple 
Geradia^ the yellow Aster, and the Indian 
bean nodded famiUarly to him from their 
accustomed places, and as they drooped 
away the Golden-rod appeared in all its 
manifold variety, and the fringed Gentian 
that told him truly the year was hastening 
to its close. 

Did other people turn to their almanacs 
to learn the name of the month? He could 
tell you without the aid of the printed page. 
He knew that October was at hand when the 
Huckleberry bushes flamed crimson and the 
Life-everlasting stood amid the yellowing 
grasses as if to decorate the grave of sum- 
mer — fit emblem that seems to hold *' some- 



16 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

thing of immortality in the sad, faint sweet- 
ness lingering long in its lifeless petals." 

Gardner spoke of them all as " a passel 
o' weeds," but the phrase was one of endear- 
ment rather than of contempt. He rejoiced 
over them secretly, and his keen sight de- 
tected many beauties not always perceptible 
save to sympathetic eyes. 

Nor was he deaf to the music to be heard 
on the moors no matter what the season 
might be. The sweet sounds of multiform 
life, the hum of myriads of hurrying insects, 
the faint tinkle of the sheep-bells half- 
muffled in wool, the crop — crop of many 
little mouths, and the soft rustle in the her- 
bage; the chirping of birds, the hoot of 
an owl, or the occasional cry of a loon fly- 
ing by in the gathering dusk, — he had ears 
for them all, and for the ocean that glittered 
on the horizon by day or lay unseen in the 



The Victory of E^^ry Gardner. 17 

darkness clasping the little Island on its 
mighty breast. 

But though Nature unfolded her secrets 
to his eyes, though she spoke with many 
tongues to his heart, binding it closer to her, 
it yet remained shut to his kind. Nor were 
there any stirrings within him towards a 
better life, nor any longings for a higher 
worship than that afforded by the land and 
sea. He bent his knee to the flowers, but 
he knew nothing of the Hand that sti-ews 
the earth with their loveliness. His soul 
thrilled to the voice of the sea, but he did 
not heed its Maker, who has proscribed the 
bounds which its wildest fury cannot en- 
croach. 



18 The Victory of Eity Gardner. 



n. 



When the fight begins within himself, 
A man's worth something. God stoops o'er his 

head, 
Satan looks np between his feet — both tug — 
He 's left, himself, in the middle : the soul wakes 
And grows. Prolong that battle through his life ! 
Never leave growing till the life to come I 

BOBEBT BbOWNING. 

It was long before Gardner became 
aware that his sphere, humble though it 
was, contained some element of usefulness. 
Life brought with it no stem realization of 
its responsibilities, he was content to lead 
an existence from day to day as heedless as 
that of the lower animals. He was aroused 



The Victory of E^ty Gardner. 19 

from his dreamy speculations by an imperi- 
ous voice from the outer world which 
stunned even whUe it thriUed him with its 
momentous significance. 

The news of the attack upon Sumter 
struck sharply across his self-absorption, 
wrenching him with mighty force from his 
narrow, introspective ways. His timid 
nature experienced a shock which left him 
bruised and broken. Uncertain, appre- 
hensive, halting in speech, he knew not 
where to turn. 

The ominous signal for the beginning of 
that struggle which lasted for so long and 
dark a period, was heard throughout the 
world. It was like an alarum-bell awaken- 
ing men from the torpor of indifference. 
The little Island was in a tremulous state of 
excitement; the natives listened in sus- 
pense to the direful message, their stanch 



20 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

hearts stirred to righteous indignation. 
Each felt the insult to the country's flag as 
one offered to his own manhood. And the 
spirit of Freedom, that was as dear to the 
simple folk as the breath of their beloved 
sea, thrilled them with tenderest pity for 
thek brethren bearing the weight of chains. 
The President's call for aid came upon 
this tumult of feeling like a divine oppor- 
tunity to lend a hand. It did not appeal 
in vain at those humble homes ! A goodly 
number of volunteers responded to their 
country's demand that first time; there 
were scarcely any men left on the Island. 
Only a few whose days of active service 
were over and whose stories of dangers 
encountered upon the seas lost all interest 
in this new era of suspense. The boys, 
who had once delighted in such eloquence, 
turned impatiently away now. The past 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 21 

held no further charm for them ; the present 
alone engrossed their attention, and their 
young souls chafed at the slowness of Time 
that condemned them to inactivity and 
home life. The "walks" on the houses 
were deserted; no anxious eye strained 
seaward for a glimpse of a sail on the 
horizon. Husbands, brothers, lovers were 
gone to the mainland, and their return was 
shrouded in mists which no loving sight 
could penetrate. 

Gardner was among the handful that had 
remained behind, though he was not incapa- 
citated by either age or illness. He was in 
the forties then, his small figure bent from 
work in his dory and drudgery on shore, 
his face lined from exposure to the weather ; 
but his hair stiU showed black against his 
old, felt hat and his step retained some of 
the buoyancy of youth. 



22 The Victory of E^iy Gardner. 

Had he gone with the others, save or 
the promiscuous "fa'rwells" heard on all 
sides, no nearer voice would have trembled 
with parting words. There would have 
been no kisses and clinging arms for him, 
hindrances to going, though God knows 
how dear they are, and how blank the 
emptiness is without them. A strong hand- 
grip for the boy in blue — not for the 
old companion — a careless nod — and he 
would have slipped away and no one would 
have missed him. 

His staying was of little consequence. 
If any of his neighbors considered it 
strange that he had not leaped to help 
his country, the thought was silenced the 
next moment by the admission that such as 
he could be of little service. He was held 
in scant esteem. His bent figure with its 
shambling gait was a familiar object to 



The Victory of E7;ry Gardner. 23 

the inhabitants of town and village alike, 
but it never inspired any kindlier feeling 
than that of indifference. They knew him 
for a shy, honest man, rather a good hand 
in the cod season, bat not a true sailor. 
Perhaps that latter fact had much to do 
with their insensibility to his merits. 

In a place where all the men follow a 
seafaring life, as naturally as a duck takes 
to water, the standard of excellence is not 
far to seek. Gardner's love for the ocean, 
however, reached its full limit on the shore, 
where he could watch its varying moods. 
It was an indisputable fact that he had 
never gone "down to the sea in ships;" 
handy with his oar and small sail, the fish- 
ing-grounds near home had offered him his 
only experience of a sailor's life. 

His dreamy ways were incomprehensible 
to his companions, though some suggested. 



24 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

in kindly explanation, that he was "want- 
ing," accompanying the word with a signifi- 
cant gesture. And, indeed, that seemed to 
many the best interpretation of his char- 
acter. One, surely, could impute but little 
sense to a man who found his pleasures in 
straying alone over the moors, or in lin- 
gering on the beach for hours watching the 
rolling waves. With no women-folk in his 

r 

home, the ties of sociability did not bind 
him to other hearths, nor did he meet his 
neighbors in their religious life. He was 
not a church-going man. No one under- 
stood him. This lack of comprehension 
was not because of any complexity in his 
character; he made no demands upon 
others. He was bound in by his own shy 
nature. 

When his comrades, with their faces 
glowing with patriotism, had gone forth 



The Victory of ET^y Gardner. 25 

to give their lives if need be, their strength 
surely, for the great cause, he crept back to 
his little, low house by the sea, shutting the 
door upon himself and his misery. There, 
with no other voice near him but the 
mighty one he loved, he confessed to him- 
self his reason for staying. 

He was afraid ! Afraid ! Afraid of what? 
— Of charging men, of flying bullets, of 
the cannon's deadly roar, and all the 
sights and sounds of warfare. His fancy 
pictured distorted, monstrous shapes that 
haunted hun waking and sleeping; his 
heart was full of dread which his igno- 
rance could not surmount. The sense 
of danger which nerved the others to 
do their utmost left him powerless. He 
had no knowledge to act as an antidote 
to fear, no courage to meet the demand 
his country made upon him, no pity to 



■i 



26 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 



\ 

J spare from his own self-concentration 

for the cause of the oppressed. But safe 
in his own home fear still held him, — the 
fear that his neighbors would discover 
his cowardice. All through the days and 
months and years he hugged his shameful 
secret close. Shut away as he was from his 
kind, self-centred and diflfident, one of the 
dominant feelings of his life was that he 
should not lose caste in his little village. 
From time to time news from the 
outside world came to the waiting ones on 
the Island — news of the dead and dying, 
of the living, and the grim struggle still 
going on. Gardner listened to the differ- 
ent accounts with a pathetic look on his 
deep-lined face; he spelled out the rec- 
ords in the newspapers and tried to 
give his fainting heart courage. Night 
after night he lay awake planning to join 



.7 
■1 

■k 



The Victory of E^ry Gardmr. 21 

his countrymen, and when the daylight 
crept back it found him still irresolute. 

" Pr'aps to-morrer," he would say with 
white lips. But the morrow would come 
and slip away, bringing no deeper sense of 
bravery, and putting off his decision to an 
indefinite future. 

The mere struggle within himself — could 
he have known it — was in a measure a proof 
that somewhere within his being the spark 
of valor was lighted, though it flickered but 
feebly. After all, our truest worth is not 
so much in the success we achieve, as in 
the endeavors we make towards its achieve- 
ment. The man of indomitable courage 
who can say with the youthful Nelson, 
*'Who is Fear? I never met him," — 
though he gain the cross for bravery, is not 
so deserving of praise as the poor wretch 
palpitating with dread, who longs, with all 



28 The Victory of Eiry Gardner. 

his soul, to flee from danger and yet stands 
true to his post. Somewhere, though not 
in this world, that struggle is seen and 
estimated aright. 

But Gardner, — fighting single-handed 
with his fears, — weak, vacillating, conscious 
of his own shortcomings, was a miserable 
creature. Those months of self-torture aged 
him perceptibly. He frequented the old town 
daily, seeking information in the tavern or 
the street from old and young alike. When 
the boat came in from the Mainland he was 
the first on the wharf to greet her arrival. 
And when the Town-crier, bristling with 
importance, started up the street with his 
bell slipped under his arm and both 
trembling hands holding the paper near his 
eyes, Gardner pressed close at his side 
listening to the words as they tumbled out 
in quick, disjointed tone§; *' Victory!" — 



The Victory of ET^y Gardner. 29 

*' Defeat ! " — '' Terrible loss of life ! " — 
while the women and children crowded 
close in suffocating eagerness, their white 
faces quivering with fear and hope. The 
news once learned, Gardner would turn 
aside and trudge back over the lonely moors 
thinking — thinking — 

At last there came a night when he hesi- 
tated no longer. Suddenly, decisively, the 
little spark of valor flamed up into a mighty 
blaze and swept his fears away with its 
consuming breath. He was like one bom 
anew. His small figure seemed alive with 
courage. It had taken him a long time to 
reach a decision — weeks, months, years — 
but he would not hold back now. He would 
serve his country ! And with that determi- 
nation stirring within him, he opened his 
door, guiltless of lock or bolt, and let 
himself out into the waking world. 



30 The Victory of E:(ry Gardner. 

It was almost morning. He hurried 
through the quiet lane where the houses 
were ranged like the lads and lasses in a 
contra-dance, the regularity of the lines 
broken here and there by the nearer ap- 
proach of several of them to the opposite 
side as if they were more eager than the 
others for the sport to begin. The little 
street was unconscious of the new creature 
stumbling along its grass-grown centre. 
The quaint, squat houses with their roofs 
sloping almost to the ground had seen him 
often before. Outwardly he was not 
changed, though it seemed to his excited 
fancy that the difference in his feelings 
must make some corresponding difference in 
his appearance. He left the sleeping homes 
behind him and hastened down the bluff, 
never pausing until the beach was reached, 
then he stood still and looked about. 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 31 

It was early summer, and the air, despite 
its keen saltness, was very mild ; it might 
even be hot by noon. The sky was still 
dark, but away off on the eastern horizon 
there was a soft band of light that seemed 
to hold the heavens in its clasp like a 
girdle. The ocean was a black, quiver- 
ing mass creeping up the beach, receding, 
creeping up again — restless and tossing 
like some great creature in agony. 

Gardner ploughed his way through the 
deep sand, looking down half reverently. 
A gull flew past him with a shrill cry out 
over the lonely stretch of water, straight 
to the silvery sheen of the dawning day. 
Gardner followed its flight with his eyes, 
and, as he looked, the delicate gray trembled 
and palpitated with the breath of a new 
life ; it grew warmer, mellower, and melted 
slowly into a tender glow of gold with faint 



32 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

tremulous touches of- rose. The far-off 
waters flashed white, though near at hand 
they were still dark. 

It all seemed so wonderful to the silent, 
untutored man. He had watched the 
morning's coming often before, but it had 
never affected him as it did at this moment. 
He could not take his eyes off the beautiful 
strip of light that grew momentarily wider 
and brighter and deeper — that stretched 
out mighty fingers athwart the whole sky 
and grasped the darkness, dispelling it with 
a touch. It was as if the Voice that had 
given the command at the birth of the 
world had said again, " Let there be 
light ! " and His messengers were spread- 
ing the good tidings throughout the land. 

Then, on a sudden, the sun rose, illumin- 
ing the whole scene — and it was day ! It 
was day also in that man's soul. The 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 33 

mists of selfishness and worthlessness rolled 
aside, as the mists were scattered about 
him, and the words that had thrilled the 
world at its beginning found an echo 
within him. And it was light! 

He stood there for some time, heedless of 
everything, until he was recalled to every- 
day life by the approach of several fisher- 
men. He returned their greetings half- 
shamefacedly. In that moment of spiritual 
awakening, which he barely comprehended, 
he wanted to be by himself — alone — and 
not alone. The companionship of his fel- 
lows jarred upon him. He went slowly back 
to his home and made his simple prepara- 
tions for departure. 

That day's steamer bearing a few recruits 
to the Mainland numbered Gardner amongst 
them. He stood apart from his comrades, 
in the stern, watching the Island recede 



34 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

from sight — silent as usual — his face still 
aglow with the strange, exalted look that 
had come to it in the early dawn and his 
heart beating high with the elation of self- 
conquest. 



■> 



The Victory of E^^ry Gardner. 36 



ni. 

The brave makes danger opportunity; 

The waverer, paltering with the chance sublime, 

Dwarfs it to peril. 

James Russell Lowell. 

It is a sad thought that we never keep true 
to the pitch of our highest endeavors — 
somewhere the tension slackens — some- 
where the note strikes false — and jarring 
discords creep in, drowning the sweeter 
sounds. We can only linger for a little time 
upon the heights ; the fine air is too difficult 
to breathe long, and slowly, — reluctantly 
we descend to the plains and the mists and 
take up our round of duties again. We 



36 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

come back with faces shining from our 
interview with the Presence revealed in the 
burning bush, but it is seldom that we 
retain that brightness to glorify the com- 
moner moments and struggles of our lot. 
The splendor vanishes, but who shall say 
that we are not the better for having seen 
its radiance, even if it never touches us 
again? Our living, poor as it is, yet 
thrills often to the nobler strain, though 
we are unconscious of it as we settle 
down to *'the C-major of this life" — 
the prosaic key-note to which most of our 
lives are set. 

Gardner's exaltation was but a passing 
phase. Each revolution of the steamer's 
wheels filled him with apprehension. His 
soul was sick with dread. He had never 
been away from the Island save on short 
fishing expeditions, and knew nothing of the 



The Victory of E^^y Gardner. 37 

world at large. It seemed a fearful thing 
to him to go out into it now to join those 
fighting men. He was steeped in bitter- 
ness. 

But the strength which he had gained in 
those months of self-examination did not 
wholly desert him. He would not go back, 
he told himself grimly ; he would fight for 
his country, die for her if need be. The 
words seemed like bravado to his tortured 
soul, but he said them again and again, as 
if the mere repetition could give him cour- 
age. Perhaps the late flower of his patriot- 
ism had only blossomed under the light of 
envy, for it was true that he longed to 
prove himself as brave as his neighbors ; he 
had no higher standard and no conscious- 
ness of love or duty that could furnish him 
with one. Faint and timorous he joined 
the regiment with the other recruits and 



1 



38 The yictory of E^ry Gardner. 

accustomed himself awkwardly to the work 
required of him. 

He was in service three months before 
he saw the real horrors of war, and every 
day, in the dread of a possible battle, 
he felt his purpose grow weaker until he 
dared not trust himself alone. His waking 
nights were haunted with fear, and shadows 
struck terror to his very soul. His igno- 
rance pictured — he knew not what. Truly, 
" the danger of dangers is illusion I " He 
sought the companionship of other men 
constantly now, and lingered by the camp- 
fire listening drearily to their stories and 
songs. He watched their stem faces grow 
tender as they bent over home-letters and 
noticed — he who had always been so blind 
— the tears that glistened in their eyes 
when the mail brought some loving scrap of 
news. Once, he told himself bitterly, that 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 39 

if he could receive some such message his 
courage would be the better, his manhood 
the nobler. But none ever came. The 
hand of love had never touched his lonely 
life ; he had not felt any need for it before ; 
now, he longed wearily for some one to 
understand him ! 

When the orders came to push on, he 
stood ready in line, inwardly trembling 
though he bore a bold front. His glance 
read the intense excitement on the faces of 
the other men, alert and eager for action, 
and he tried to simulate their feelings. He 
was swept on in the charge sick at heart. 
His fear of the rattling shot about him was 
not so keen as the fear he had of himself. 
He felt the impulse strong within him to 
turn and flee — anywhere, anywhere. His 
brain whirled with the thought. But the 
dread of the disapproval of others struck 



40 The Victory of En^ry Gardner. 

him sharp like a blow and kept him at his 
post, wavering, inefficient, but still where 
Duty bade him stay. 

What would they say to see him flee, 
those men who had known him all his 
life, and with whom he marched shoulder 
to shoulder? Macy there, with whom he 
had strayed over the distant moors in the 
far-away time of his childhood, or Cole- 
man, who had been his partner on many 
fishing expeditions? He had taken his 
life in his hands often when they were 
at the mercy of wind and wave, and had 
felt no particular dismay. He could not 
express even to himself, that the man 
with the blood of sailor ancestors in his 
veins has no dread of the sea and its 
moods, though he knows — none better — 
of the disasters that have befallen the many 
who have mtrusfjed tbeir L^ves on its waters. 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 41 

The ocean was like a second mother to him, 
one whom he loved with his whole being so 
deeply and truly that all fear was cast 
aside. 

But this unknown land was different. 
The strangeness of his surroundings 
frightened him, the ghastliness of the strife 
appalled him. Not even the excitement of 
the onslaught could buoy up his treacher- 
ous courage. He was jostled here and 
there like a man of straw, his musket 
swayed helplessly in his nerveless grasp, 
but he was spared the ignominy of deser- 
tion. He came back unharmed from that 
storm of shot and shell. 

After that experience he was in three 
other battles, and in each he felt the same 
benumbing terror, though no one discov- 
ered his pitiful secret. In the midst of 
battle men do not stop to question the feel- 



42 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

ings of their companions. Their whole 
attention is centred on the duty before 
them, and their eyes are only caught and 
held by some splendid show of valor that 
stirs them to emulation. The excitement 
that dominates the scene sweeps aside all 
other considerations. Home-thoughts rush 
into then: minds for a moment, and then the 
strong love of overcoming and the intensity 
of the struggle leap up within them and 
they press forward to do their best. 

Gardner was thankful that his "best" 
consisted in keeping at his post. He was 
far from giving himself even the credit of 
being " faithful in little things." It did not 
seem to him, in his self-abasement, that the 
little thing was a great one for him, since it 
held him true to his higher nature. He 
recognized his failures vdth uncompromis- 
ing exactness. Soldiers such as he were 



The Victory of E^ty Gardner. 43 

of no more worth than a child's tin toy! 
Nor did the small service which he ren- 
dered a comrade when the battle was over, 
fill him with any new sense of osefolness. 

They told him Macy was dying and 
wanted to see some one from home ; he did 
not hesitate a moment, but hastened to his 
companion and bent to receive the last 
messages for the wife and children far away. 
The simple words pained him inexpressibly. 
He tried to give some encouragement, but 
the man dying for his country seemed a 
different being from the friend of the old 
Island days. Gardner was strangely awed 
in his presence — Macy was a hero ! — he 
bowed his head and great sobs shook his 
frame. 

The wounded man stretched out his hand 
to comfort, while a little touch of pleasure 
that some one really cared about his going 



44 The Victory of ET^y Gardner. 

thrilled him unspeakably. At home they 
all would have cared — Phoebe and the 
children — but away from them, hundreds 
and hundreds of miles, who would have 
thought that any one would shed a 
tear? It made the going easier! He had 
known Ezry Gardner all his life. They 
had trudged together to the old dame*s 
school in Step lane as small children, and 
had hunted for roots and berries on the 
moors in play-time. When the scanty 
education was finished, they had often 
shared many an odd job on sea and shore, 
both as boys and men. They had always 
been good comrades, but there was no 
strong bond of affection between them ; he 
had been more intimate with a dozen 
others. 

The sight of Gardner's tears filled him 
now with compunction. He felt that he 



The Victory of E^^y Gardner. 45 

had failed to respond to the demands a 
simple heart had made upon his own; he 
had amused others many times at Gardner's 
expense. Memory touched him at every 
turn. How often he must have misunder- 
stood this companion I It all came to him 
in that one quick flash — childhood, youth, 
manhood, and home — the home he should 
never see again — the rolling downs — the 
glorious ocean. A sob choked in his throat, 
a great wave of regret swept over him as he 
realized that he could never atone to this 
man who was a tie between him and that 
old life. 

*' Never mind, mate," he gasped, " don't 
take it to heart. I'm sorry to go, 
'count o' Phoebe an' the little uns, but I 'd 
do it ag'in — God knows I would — I 'm not 
grudgin' it. Tell 'em at hum I said so — 
teU 'em " — But what further message he 



46 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

would send was silenced by the Great 
Mystery that placed a seal upon his lips. 

Gardner stood, unconscious of time, 
looking down with misty eyes at the quiet 
face, his mind assailed with questions. 
Why had such a man been taken and he — 
the useless one — spared? There was no 
wife to mourn for him — there were no chil- 
dren to look for his coming and weep because 
that never could be, and then forget, as is 
the way of childhood — no one would miss 
him, were he lying in Macy's place ! But 
the hero had fallen, and the other, whose 
only claim to heroism lay in his brother- 
hood to the dead man, or, so he told him- 
self, remained unscathed. 

Macy had left the world not comprehend- 
ing the mood of the man who sobbed at 
his side; he had thought that sorrow had 
broken down the cold reserve with which so 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 47 

many of his kind were hedged about. But 
it was not grief at the loss of his friend, 
nor sympathy for the desolation over- 
shadowing the little home in Cliff street, 
that touched Gardner so deeply. He was 
quivering with excitement and haunted by 
nervous dread; the consciousness of his 
own shortcomings and his failure to do 
aught else but keep his secret struck him 
afresh. He wept for that as well as for the 
loneliness that debarred him from sympathy, 
Macy the hero would not have understood 
the shrinking, uncertain heart, any more 
than Macy the comrade would have com- 
prehended any show of tenderness back 
there on the Island. 

Friendship, with those simple people, 
found no expression in soft phrases of 
endearment, or in little loving ways. A 
gruff voice, a willing hand, and few words 



48 The Victory of E^^ry Gardner. 

formed the currency of their daily inter- 
course ; demonstrativeness was entirely for- 
eign to their natures. Even with their 
women — once the days of courtship were 
over, at which time affectionate terms were 
infrequent — the men were taciturn and 
grim. 

Gardner came away from the burial of 
his friend strangely uplifted; some one, 
whom he had known intimately, had met 
death with unflinching spirit. The thought 
strengthened him like wine. His heart 
was filled with a courage which might have 
been transmitted to it by Macy, as the 
only thing he could give to requite his 
companion's tears. At that moment Gard- 
ner felt that he could go into action 
unshrinkingly and hold his own against 
the enemy, free from any warring doubts 
of his instability. He was not called upon, 



The Victory of Eiry Gardner. 49 

however, to put these new-bom feelings to 
the test. The battle where Macy fell was 
the last one in which Gardner's division 
took part. Shortly afterwards the news 
came that the war was at an end. 

It was early spring, and the little town 
where the regiment was quartered was 
wrapped in the soft darkness of night. 
The air was sweet with the perfume of 
blossoms bursting into life in the gardens 
and on the hillsides. A mass of eager, 
excited men crowded around the telegraph- 
oflSce trying to catch the sounds as they 
came over the wires, as if their untutored 
sense might grasp some meaning before the 
words were taken off by the trembling 
operator. When the message was complete 
it flashed out like fire and ran from mouth 
to mouth : " Richmond has fallen — the war 
is over ! " 



60 The Victory of E^iy Gardner. 

For the moment there was a tumult of 
noise, an indistinct murmur of excitement 

— undisturbed by any shout of elation 

— and then a great silence pressed down 
upon them all standing there, white-faced, 
wild-eyed, freed at last from the long 
strain of anxiety. Each one was filled 
with conflicting thoughts — thoughts of 
home, thoughts of dead comrades who 
must know the great result somewhere, 
somehow, and gladness and thankfulness 
on every side. In those first minutes of 
deep feeling, however, there were no 

words to express what would come tor- 
rent-like by and by from every lip. 

Suddenly, from the outskirts of the 
crowd, there rose a tenor voice flinging 
out its sweetness on the night air with a 
reckless prodigality of force that would 
not spare even an iota of its beauty: 



^ 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 61 

** Praise God from whom all blessings flow.** 

There was a slight — almost imperceptible 
— pause, then every heart responded, every 
head was bared, and every voice took 
up the words: 

** Praise Him all creatures here below ; 
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host; 
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.** 

That hymn of thankfulness pierced to 
the listening stars. It rose triumphantly 
and swept to its grand climax until it 
seemed to be the very embodiment of 
gratitude. All the suffering, all the sor- 
row, the fears, the tears of those 
months and years of warfare found their 
way into those simple words. They 
quivered with feeling. And when the 
mighty "Amen" died away the air was 



62 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

full of sobs. Strong men fell upon 
one another's necks and wrung one 
another's hands, unashamed of their 
emotion. 

Some one seized Gardner's hand, a 
stranger, whose eyes had never caught 
a glimpse of the sea, but as truly his 
brother in that moment as if they both had 
been nourished at the same breast. 

"Thank God, comrade!" he cried. 

Gardner's fingers gripped the unknown 
hand firmly, and as the man turned away 
he echoed the words with an intensity 
of expression bom of a feeling too deep 
for analysis. Then he crept apart with 
lowered head. He felt that he was in a 
holy place, that that Being to whom 
they had sung their praises was in 

ft 

their midst. He did not know that God 
is never very far from the heart to whom 



I 



The Victory of E^^ry Gardner. 63 

mankind is dear. He knew nothing of 
God ! And yet there were some faint stir- 
rings within him of His omniscience and 
omnipresence — some gratitude that found 
utterance in his soul, though his lips only 
framed the trite phrase, "Thank God!" 



64 The Victory of Es;ty Gardner. 



IV. 

' Sometimes, just to have one's mood s 
, Comprehended, is relief; t 
Simply to be understood 
In one's sorrow, is a good 
That avails to soften grief. 

Mary E. Bradley. 

Gardner found no change in the Island 
on his return; it might almost have lain 
under the spell of some enchantment, so 
exactly did it coiTespond with the picture in 
his faithful memory. It had seemed to him 
that there would be a great difference. But 
Time had stood still in the little street ; the 
houses were just the same and the people 
had not altered outwardly, though many of 



The Victory of En^y Gardner. 55 

them carried a bitter ache in their hearts 
that would only leave them at Death's bid- 
ding. The moors were the same and the 
ocean — the grand, changing ocean — was 
the unchanging friend of his life. He was 
glad to be back — glad he told himself, and 
he set about his old way of living, taking 
up the thread as if it never had been 
dropped. 

His own experience had made a signal 
difference in his appearance. He came 
home an old man, though he bore no scars 
to account for the change. The constant 
battling with his feelings had worn upon 
him more than any hardships he had en- 
dured ; insufficient fare, inclement weather, 
the fatigue of the march, were of no moment 
in comparison with the daily feuds he had 
waged with his fears. It was only natural 
that he should carry some evidence of those 



56 The Victory of E:(iry Gardner. 

straggles in his deep-lined face which was 
indescribably pathetic. His neighbors were 
justified in their verdict that "Ezry wuz 
gittin' on." They were not quick to recog- 
nize the waking soul in his glance; their 
keenness of comprehension was only suffi- 
cient for the outer man. 

Gardner, however, was dimly conscious 
of some alteration within him, some long- 
ing which never grew into words, nor could 
ever grow, he thought. Contact with the 
world had widened his outlook and had 
made him more considerate of the feelings 
of those about him. The sight of the 
haunting horrors of the battlefield had filled 
him with a deeper wish to save pain where 
he could, and his own incompetency had 
humbled him into something better than 
the old Gardner had ever dreamed of being. 
But he was no analyzer of self ; he felt the 



% 



The Victory of E7;ry Gardner. 57 

change, and tried to exalt his simple living 
in some fashion. He was like one groping 
in the dark. 

Shortly after his return he sought out 
Phoebe Macy and told her the few details of 
her husband's death. His halting descrip- 
tion of the little scene was very unsatisfac- 
tory to him, but he was powerless to make 
it more vivid. With a painful diffidence he 
repeated the message which had burned it- 
self indelibly upon his memory ; the words 
were so real to him that he almost hesitated 
to give them utterance. It was like un- 
veiling something holy. Then, the duty 
accomplished, he went his way. He never 
thought again of mentioning his dead com- 
rade to the lonely wife ; the loving depths 
of a woman's heart were unfathomed by 
him. He did not know how sweet it is to 
hear the daily mention of one who has 



58 The Victory of En^y Gardner. 

slipped out of the ranks of life, to keep in 
mind the little earthly likings for a flower, 
it may be, or for some trivial, homely 
matter — " So-and-so was fond of this ! " — 
and love springs back over the lapse of 
days and years and the dear one's presence 
is felt anew. There is no darkness so im- 
penetrable as that of forgetfulness. Let 
our dead be wrapped about with remem- 
brance and they are not far removed from 
us, but once cover them with oblivion and 
they are lost forever. 

If Gardner had only known how the sad- 
eyed woman longed for a constant repeti- 
tion of those words which had become part 
of his life, he would not have passed her 
so quickly whenever they chanced to meet. 
Or if he could have guessed the pleasure 
it would give her to listen to the many little 
happenings of those months when he was 




The Victory of Eiry Gardner. 59 

her husband's companion he would have 
willingly spent much time in their narration. 
And there was a great deal that he might 
have told, but he did not know — he did 
not understand. 

As far as his other neighbors were con- 
cerned he had scarcely anything to say to 
them; never a talkative man, his late 
experience, instead of opening the flood- 
gates of speech, seemed to impose silence 
on his part. He was not the only one of 
the Island volunteers to return. A mere 
sprinkling of those who had sailed away so 
confidently had come back, the most of 
them bearing gallant scars, a leg lost here, 
an arm lost there, but each poor stump 
glorified as with the insignia of rank ; each 
wreck of manhood a martyr in a noble 
cause, sharing greatness with the great 
heroes of the world. Local fame, in this 



60 The Victory of E7;ry Gardner. 

instance, was the brightest jewel in their 
crowns. 

What thrilling stories they would tell, 
sitting out the long days in the low-ceiled 
room of Buck's Tavern! How vivid the 
descriptions were! The little group of 
eager listeners bent forward breathlessly. 
Hark ! the shrill note of the bugle fills the 
air, the steady beat of the drums, the angry 
roar of the cannon. The gray walls fade 
away into the dim smoke of the battlefield 
with its thronging, zealous men, strong and 
stem in their determination, gallant on both 
sides with the firmness of their convictions, 
heroes — heroes — every one, whether in a 
winning or a lost cause. The last shot trails 
slowly into silence, and the piteous desola- 
tion of the field deserted by all save the dead 
and dying and the few tender minktrants 
Stretches before the hearer's misty eyes. 




The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 61 

No more old "fishing yams" were spun 
in that room which had so often echoed 
with the blood-curdling encounters with sea 
monsters, no more reminiscences of terrible 
storms, weathered, thank God I — All that 
was changed. The heroes who had served 
their country on land or sea had their turn 
now. It was *' the war " everywhere. 

Gardner used to listen to the narratives 
in silence. He had no word to add to the 
mass of testimony, no scars to speak 
" trumpet-tongued " of his valor. He might 
just as well have stayed at home. In go- 
ing he had not been missed, his staying 
behind would not have been heeded. He 
was of such little importance that his ex- 
periences were not worth the telling. Not 
even the children were curious about them ; 
they treated him with contemptuous indif- 
ference, jeering at his sad face and white 



62 The Victory of ET^y Gardner. 

hair. There was no sport, however, that 
could keep them faithful to its rules when 
there was a prospect of listening to a real 
hero's story. They would crowd about 
Browne, who had gone through the entire 
war and had left his right arm at Gettys- 
burg, and listen to him for hours, their 
young blood thrilled by his graphic words, 
their eyes luminous with excitement. And 
Hammatt, who had been in Libby three 
months and had come home as gaunt as a 
spectre, was no less a favorite, but they 
were unanimous in declaring that " ol' Ezry 
Gardner hed nothin' to say for hisself." 

His humility did not serve to advance 
him far in the opinion of his fellows. The 
estimate we take of ourselves is too oft^n 
the value our acquaintances afford us. A 
man's belief in his own powers comprises 
the belief of those around him, and self- 



The Victory of E^ty Gardner. 63 

depreciation is not often gainsaid. If a 
man has a tendency to efface himself, it is 
not long before the world willingly assists 
him in his efforts. 

Gardner, with his sad, silent demeanor, 
was disregarded, save on infrequent occa- 
sions when some comrade, pausing for 
breath in his recital, would sweep past him 
with the query, " WaVt thet so, mate?" 
barely leaving him time to ejaculate an 
unheeded assent. When he slipped away 
altogether, no one noticed his going. He 
felt that instinctively. 



64 The Victory of E^^ry Gardner. 



V. 

" I wandered where a curious crowd 
Thronged in an open square, 
To see an auction held." 

In the autumn of that year, long before 
interest had flagged in the oft-repeated 
reminiseeneeB, public attention was for a 
time diverted from the soldiers by the re- 
assertion of the Town-crier's importance. 
With the cessation of the war he had known 
a sad f alling-off in his reputation, which had 
been, in his thought at least, unquestionably 
that of the best-informed man on the 
Island. But in a time when there is noth- 
ing happening, one who makes his livelihood 



The Victory of E^y Gardner. 65 

by purveying news, must necessarily feel 
his occupation gone. 

The jingle of the Crier's bell at the 
approach of the steamer from the Mainland 
and his eager shouts heralding her coming 
were not heeded by the lazy loiterers who 
knew full well when the boat was expected ; 
nor did his voice, crying the night hours, 
carry much meaning to ears so accustomed 
to its shrillness that it failed to penetrate 
their hearing. His other duties consisted 
in notifying the public whenever any of the 
less circumspect lost their personal prop- 
erty, on which occasions he called upon the 
inhabitants to assist in the search and 
restitution. Articles, in that primitive 
spot, were lost, or mislaid, but never 
*' appropriated," and they always had a 
happy faculty of turning up, to the delight 
of the whole community. With the excep- 



66 The Victory of E^ty Gardner. 

tion, however, of the habitual misplacing of 
Mrs. Clisby's spectacles, in which even her 
most tolerant neighbors were beginning to 
feel their interest wane, the Crier had not 
served in this branch of his official capacity 
for months. 

He forgot his dignity and sank to the 
level of a mere listener, but his pride in the 
heroes drowned any regret he might have 
felt for his deposed state. He was fast 
becoming used to a life of idleness when 
that dream was dispelled and he was re- 
stored to his former consequence. Sud- 
denly, without any warning, there sounded 
the clanging of his bell. The group of men 
and boys in Buck's Tavern hardly noticed 
the noisy summons at first; they were 
deeply absorbed in the details of a story 
which had thriUed them for the hundredth 
time it may be. 



The Victory of Eii^y Gardner. 67 

*'Itwuz this way," Hammatt was say- 
ing, "me an' — Ain't thet the Crier?" he 
interrupted his recital to ask. No answer 
was necessary, for the insistent, clamorous 
voice filled the street without. 

"Like ez not Comfort Clisby's lost her 
specs ag'in," drawled a man from the re- 
mote corner, " she 's so old she ca-ant keep 
a tormented thing. Go 'long, mate, let the 
wimmen folks take keer o' theirselves." 

His counsel fell upon empty air, for the 
little audience melted away like snow before 
^n April sun, the orator himself pressing 
out with the rest. The man who had 
spoken last, sat irresolute for a moment, 
then he got up sheepishly and hastened 
after his friends. 

Outside, the Crier reigned supreme ; age 
elbowed youth, and men and women alike 
stood eager to do him homage by their 



68 The Victory of E^ty Gardner. 

undisguised interest. They repeated his 
sentences to one another as if they were 
words of wisdom, and greeted, with unmis- 
takable signs of enthusiasm, the informa- 
tion that an auction of superior horses 
would be held on the morrow in Bamet's 
field. It was an event which promised 
much enjoyment to the Islanders, whose 
amusements were remarkable chiefly for 
their rarity. The small boys tossed their 
caps in mid-air and gave vent to shrieks 
of delight, while their elders expressed 
their feelings in the sedater syllables of 
age. 

The weather the next day was ideal; 
Nature seemed to realize the importance of 
the occasion, and, in obedience to her com- 
mand, the September sky put on the blue 
and gold of June. At an early hour the 
inhabitants of the town and the little ham- 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 69 

lets scattered about the Island repaired to 
the scene of action; to their minds the 
commonplace, sordid auction assumed the 
proportions of some grand festival which 
demanded not only punctuality but unflag- 
ging zeal as well. The women, to do it 
further honor, had arrayed themselves in 
their " meetin' gowns ; " what flowers were 
denied them at their feet nodded in pro- 
fusion from their bonnets amid multi-col- 
ored bows and feathers. The small girls, 
too, were awkwardly conscious in their best 
attire and tightly braided locks. But the 
boys revelled in the untrammelled bliss of 
every-day clothes and bare feet, and most of 
the men slouched about in their old gar- 
ments, unashamed of the contrast they 
offered to the few who had been induced 
by their wives into wearing their Sunday 
splendor, and whose looks of complacency 



70 The Victory of Eiry Gardner. 

but ill-disguised their envy of their less 
hampered brothers. 

The people wandered slowly up and 
down the field, their roving glances noting 
everything. Scraps of conversation floated 
upon the air ; accounts of family matters, 
the last morsel of town gossip, and remarks 
about the coming sale were inextricably 
mingled. A number of the horses had 
been in the late war, and that fact sur- 
rounded them on the instant with a halo of 
glory. The auctioneer was not slow to 
press this advantage home, and before the 
day's work began, extolled their merits 
with an eloquence that held his audience 
spellbound. 

Gardner paused for a moment on the 
outskirts of the crowd, then he turned half- 
sadly and made his way past the staked 
horses. As he walked along with his 



The Vkiory of E^^y Gardner. 71 

hands in his pockets his steps were 
arrested, without any volition on his part, 
in front of a small white pony at the farther 
end of the line. He looked up carelessly 
and encountered the glance of a pair of 
trusting eyes. A deUcious tremor of 
astonishment ran through him. In all his 
life he never had met just such a glance ; 
it was so full of affection and confidence. 
It might have been his fancy, and perhaps 
his sensitive soul seeking sympathy, would 
have read the same meaning in the notice 
of the other horses, but he had not felt 
called upon to pause by any of them. He 
looked around stealthily at the gay, little 
groups of people dotted about the field, 
then he gazed deep into the beautiful eyes 
and put his hand shyly on the arched neck. 
The pony gave a low whinny of content — 
she was an amiable beast — and rubbed 



fl 



72 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

her head against his arm, as though peti- 
tioning for further petting. ' 

*'Ef I could on'y buy ye," the man 
whispered, " we 'd be friends, sure, but I 
can't, an' thet 's all there is to say." 

The next moment his solitude was in- 
vaded by the approach of five or six 
women, and at the sound of their voices he 
fled precipitately, hardly heeding the greet- 
ing which, in their holiday humor, they 
vouchsafed him. Several times during the 
morning he returned to the spot, drawn 
by some irresistible magic, and it seemed 
to his quick-beating heart that the brown 
eyes always greeted him affectionately. 
He felt sure that the horse recognized him. 

At last he retreated to the end of the 
field and seated himself on the fence, pulling 
his soft hat down about his eyes and ears to 
shut out the sights and sounds of his little 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 73 

world. Though he thus cut himself off 
from his surroundings his mind was haunted 
by that trusting glance, and in his hearing 
there still lingered that cry of delight. 

" Ef it wuz on'y mine," he said half- 
aloud, rocking backwards and forwards in 
the warm September sunshine, — " ef it 
wuz on'y mine, but it ain't, an' it can't 
be, an' thet 's all there is to say." 

He tried to view the matter philosophi- 
cally, and then on a sudden a question pre- 
sented itself to his mind : 

" Why should n't the horse be yours? " 

The audacity of the suggestion startled 
him; he pushed his hat back and looked 
around. It almost seemed as if the words 
had come from without, but his companions 
were as usual oblivious of his presence. 
Then the voice within him went on: 

*'Why should n*t the horse be yours? 



74 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

Why don't you buy it ? You 've more 
than enough money stowed away. What 
are you saving it for? You 'U never be ' on 
the town'" — 

" Jehosaphat ! " Gardner interrupted his 
counsellor. "I'll do it, I swon I will." 

He struck the rail at his side with a force 
that sent the splinters flying; the next 
moment he sprang to the ground and 
walked hastily towards the dealer. Half- 
way across the field he paused, a shrewd 
precaution sharpening his thoughts — his 
neighbors must not suspect his intentions. 
He stood still, uncertain how to act. He 
could not return to his home for the little 
hoard put by for the rainy day, and he had 
no money with him. The auction was 
down for twelve sharp. He threw back his 
head and gazed unflinchingly up into the 
blue — the true countryman's unfailing dial. 



The Victory of E:(ry Gardner. 75 

It was near mid-day. He looked down 
distractedly. What should he do ? — to 
whom should he turn? 

"HeUo, Ezry!" 

He started at the sound of a familiar 
voice and found himself confronted by a 
fellow-villager. 

" How d'y, Starr?" he returned, with an 
unusual show of cordiality. 

"Fine lot o' hosses there," Starr went 
on with a backward sweep of his thumb. 
"Thet bay beats 'em all; he's got the 
p'ints! Guess I know 'thout any dealer 
to tell 'em to me. Now, I would n't look 
twicet at thet roan, though he 's be'n praisin' 
her sky-high. She 's got four w'ite feet ! 
I drawed his attention to thet, but he sez 
nobody goes by thet po'try nowadays; 
't ain't true. I tol' him 't wuz gospil true, 
an' I hain't never knowed it to fail." 



76 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

'*But ef the boss is all w'ite, wut 
then?" Gardner interposed famtly. 

"H-m! I hain't never thought o' thet, 
though in my 'pinion a w'ite hoss is no 
good. He hain't got the stayin' powers of 
a bay, or a black." 

'' Is thet so ? I never made a pertiekler 
study o' bosses." 

Gardner's voice was full of wavering, 
but he could not help feeling a trifle elated 
at the idea that Starr was not in competi- 
tion for the mild-eyed pony. 

"Be ye goin' to buy?" he asked 
quickly, to cover his delight. 

"Wal, I bed some thoughts o' it. Ef 
iny figger '11 fetch the bay I won't hoi' 
back." 

" Hev ye bning your money 'long?" 

Starr glanced disapprovingly at the 
lowered face at his side. 




The Victory of Ei^ry Gardner. 77 

*' Wal, no ! I cal'late I ain't sech a 
precious fool ez to be kerryin' money 'bout. 
I might lose it. I '11 fetch it to-morrer fast 
enough ef I get the boss, my word 's good 
fer suthin', I guess." 

The sound of the bell rung by the 
Crier's energetic hand drowned Gardner's 
low reply. Both men started apart and 
ran with the rest of the crowd to the 
rough wooden seats that had been erected 
temporarily in front of a rude platform. 
The auctioneer took his place with much 
dignity. The fact that his rostrum was 
a barrel, the approach to which was 
reached by a box set up on end, did 
not disturb his equanimity in the least ; 
his comprehensive glance was full of 
tranquil enjoyment. The impatience writ- 
ten upon the faces before him was a 
tribute to his personality and the impor- 



78 The Vktory of E^ry Gardner. 

tance of the undertaking in hand. He 
cleared his throat mightily. 

"They say it's late enough to begin," 
he said, " and I reckon they 're about 
right. Bring up Bay ' Charley,' boys." 

As he finished speaking the pride of 
the collection was brought on the platform 
before him. 

" Looks ez ef he 'd taken to eatin' 
barr'l hoops an' his skin could n't holt 
'em," some detractor suggested from the 
benches. 

"He is thin, Major, but he'll flesh up 
mighty quick. He 's the hero I was telling 
you about — went all through the war, was 
in thirty battles. What's that, Tom? — 
Thirty-five? Oh! in thirty-five battles. 
Gover'ment ought to plaster him thick 
with medals, but they 're a little slow at 
Washmgton, so I 'm givm' hun honorable 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 79 

mention, as the least I can do. Now then, 
who'll bid first? He's pufl5ckly sound. 
The man who gets him 'U get a good 
servant. Did you say anything, sir? " 

A sudden timidity seemed to have 
settled upon the people — a bashf ulness 
which the cheery, insinuating voice of 
the auctioneer could not make responsive. 
Some of the women giggled nervously, a 
few boys laughed aloud, but the men sat 
dumbly gazing at the horse, which was 
restlessly pawing the platform. 

" Walk him about, Tom," the auctioneer 
went on good-naturedly, " let the ladies and 
gentlemen see his paces. Now then, won't 
some one start the ball rollin' ? There 's a 
round dozen to come on after him. If it 
was n't for that I 'd wait a hundred years 
to oblige you. What did you say, sir? Fif- 
teen dollars? Oh ! come now, you 're 



80 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

jokin'. Why, his blinders are worth that. 
Twenty-five? H-m ! now you 're talkin' I '* 

"Thirty." 

''Forty." 

The words snapped out like the prelimi- 
nary shots in a skirmish ; the men threw off 
their indifference and entered the contest 
with evident relish. They glowered at one 
another angrily as the bidding went on. 

"Fifty." 

Starr leaned forward and looked at his op- 
ponent. It was Coleman, who was reputed 
to know a good thing when he saw it. The 
merits of Bay Charley were considerably 
augmented by this monetary appreciation. 
Starr drew in his under lip nervously. 

" Fifty dollars ! " ejaculated the auction- 
eer in the pause. " I 'd drown that horse off 
the South shore first. No, sir-ee, I won't 
let him go at that price." 



The Victory of Et^ Gardner. 81 



99 



"Sixty.' 

" Sixty-five; 

" Seventy," Starr gasped out the word 
with difficulty. 

"Seventy-five," Coleman was perfectly 
unmoved. He returned the vindictive 
glance which Starr flashed at him with one 
of complacency, and then looked at Bay 
Charley with proprietary interest. The 
horse was standing quite still, his thin nos- 
trils dilated, his proud neck arched. He 
was a beautiful creature; his dark coat 
gleamed like satin in the sun. Starr fol- 
lowed the glance and then his eyes went 
back to his adversary's face; its air of 
prospective ownership irritated him beyond 
expression. He noted again the beauty 
of the horse, the one slender leg bearing 
the white stocking which, to his mind, 
had said conclusively, "Buy him!" He 



82 The Victory of E;(ty Gardner. 

squared his shoulders as he rose to his 
feet. 

"Eighty dollars!" He fairly hurled the 
words at his antagonist. 

" Eighty-five." 

Starr almost foamed at the mouth. A 
restraining hand was placed upon his coat 
and, in the breathless silence that followed, 
a woman's anxious voice was heard : 

" Set down, David, do set down. 
*T would be a sin to go more 'n thet." 

Starr twitched his coat away from his 
wife's grasp. 

" Ninety," he said firmly. 

A murmur of voices, some approving, 
some dissenting, filled in the little pause. 
The auctioneer raised his hammer. 

" Ninety-five," called Coleman calmly. 

Starr shook his fist in anger. He strug- 
gled with some words, but his wife's dis- 
tressed voice drowned their utterance. 



The Victory of E:(ty Gardner. 83 

" Going," cried the auctioneer, " going at 
ninety-five dollars. Did you say anything, 
sir? Did you raise it? Going at ninety- 
five dollars. Gone ! Bay Charley 's yours, 
sir, at a dirt cheap figger." 

Coleman turned to receive the congratula- 
tions of his friends, and Starr resumed his 
place, venting his wrath upon the woman at 
his side, whose plump face was trembling 
with excitement. The sale held no interest 
after that for him, though it proceeded 
briskly enough. It was as if the sun had 
been blotted out of the firmament. 

From time to time his wife ventured 
some gentle suggestion, its meaning em- 
phasized by a reassuring dig of her elbow ; 
but her overtures of peace were of no avaU. 
She relapsed finally into silence, and sat 
watching the horses as they were brought 
forward and disposed of to her more f ortu- 



84 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

nate neighbors, with envy swelling in her 
breast. 

Her face lost its good-humored expres- 
sion and grew despondent. It brightened 
visibly, however, as the white pony stepped 
on the platform. Mrs. Starr gave a low 
ejaculation of delight. 

"There, David, there!" she cried ex- 
citedly, " now 's your chanst. Thet 's jes' 
wut I want." 

Starr shook himself away from the 
importunate elbow. 

"Ye don' know no thin' 'bout bosses, 
Hester," he growled, "thet's on'y a play- 
thing. Guess I ain't a chil' to bid fer a 
thing like thet." 

His companions seemed to share the 
same opinion, for the little animal stood 
some minutes gazing about beseechingly, 
while the auctioneer waited patiently for 
the silence to be broken. 



The Victory of E:(iy Gardner. 86 

Gardner sat at the end of the last row of 
seats watching the proceedings in trembling 
dismay. The whole sale had been full of 
absorbing interest to him, though he had 
witnessed the purchase of the other horses 
with no envious feelings on his part. He 
had been terrified at the eager bandying of 
words ; the display of recklessness reached 
in the bidding for Bay Charley had seemed 
the climax of extravagance. That a horse 
should bripg ninety-five dollars was an 
unheard-of and a terrible thing to his 
frugal mind. He felt his own poverty 
keenly, and sat quite still, his mouth grow- 
ing dry and his whole being filled with 
apprehension. To complete his discom- 
fiture the pony, whose approach he had 
alternately dreaded and longed for, sud- 
denly became the centre of attraction. His 
heart beat tumultuously. It seemed to 



86 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

him that her glance smgled him out from 
all the crowd ; her eyes read his very soul. 
Would she understand the real reason if he 
failed to buy her, and not set it down to 
avarice? He put his hand through his 
suspender and twitched it convulsively — it 
lay so tight over his heart. 

"Well," the auctioneer drawled, "the 
sun '11 be goin' down soon and you can't 
jedge much of horse-flesh by starlight." 

His attempt at playfulness tickled the 
rustic sense of humor and several of his 
hearers laughed outright. One of the men 
started the bidding good-naturedly. 

" Five," he shouted. 

"Dollars or cents?" some one called 
from the rear. 

" Oh ! come now," interposed the auc- 
tioneer; "dollars, of course." 

"Ten dollars! " 



'^ 



The Victory of ET^y Gardner. 87 

Every one's attention was diverted by 
the new voice. Some of the women craned 
their necks around to see the speaker. 

"I declar* to goodness ef 'taint Ezry 
Gardner !" Mrs. Starr exclaimed. "Wut 
ever doos he want of a hoss ? I wish ye 'd 
raise the figger fer me, David." 

Starr followed his wife's glance and saw 
his old neighbor leaning forward excitedly, 
his burning gaze fixed on the auctioneer's 
face; his whole fate seemed to be trem- 
bling in the balance. Starr brought his 
great fist down on his knee with a powerful 
thump, as the determination to punish 
Gardner for his secretiveness struck his 
fancy. He was angry with everybody; 
his feelings were still smarting from his 
disappointment of the earlier morning, and 
he meant that some one should suffer for it. 
He raised the price and chuckled grimly at 



88 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

the little man's visible dismay, as he met 
his opponent's glance. 

Gardner caught his suspender again in 
his nervous fingers and held it away from 
his brown flannel shirt. His tongue clove 
to the roof of his mouth, but he managed 
to articulate, "Twenty." 

The pony looked toward him — oh, yes, 
he was certain of that ; but there was much 
that he did not understand. The jeering 
laughter from his mates and the cries of 
" Thet 's right ! " " Go it, Ezry ! " stunned 
him ; nor could he comprehend why Starr, 
who had spoken so contemptuously of 
white horses, should now be his only ad- 
versary. He threw back the challenge, and 
his tormentor increased his perplexity by 
bidding higher. 

He paused irresolute. He was not con- 
scious how long his indecision lasted. 



The Victory of Eiry Gardner. 89 

Everything was in a mist about him. The 
little horse with her trusting glance faded 
from his sight, and the man who held the 
disposition of her fate in his hands seemed 
to have disappeared altogether. Gardner 
made an effort to regain his composure and 
looked around piteously. Something dark 
flashed before him in the sunlight. It 
flashed once, and, as it fell, the word 
* ' going " reached his ears. It flashed 
a second time, and again there came that 
ominous sound. It hovered a third time in 
mid-air — paused — trembled — 

"Forty — forty," he cried, leaning for- 
ward breathlessly. 

The auctioneer turned in his direction. 

"Forty," he repeated, and then with 
much urbanity, " has the other gentleman 
anythmgtosay?" 

"Not this momin'," Starr answered with 



90 The Victory of E^ty Gardner. 

exaggerated politeness, while his wife 
tried to shake his resolution, — " not this 
momin', thank ye. Forty dollars is a good 
deal to pay fer " four white feet an' a w'ite 
nose," but ye can't say I did n't warn ye, 
Ezry Gardner. " 

Gardner fell back on the seat in a help- 
less heap, hardly realizing his good for- 
tune. He felt suddenly very weak, but 
after a few moments the earth grew steadier 
and he climbed down and walked away to 
enjoy his triumph alone. He could not 
even trust himself in the pony's presence. 

When the auction was over and the 
people were again thronging the field, he 
went back to where his horse was waiting 
for him. He put his hand on her neck and 
met her tranquil gaze. 

"My beauty — my beauty!" he cried 
ecstatically, " ye 're my very own now." 



The Victory of E^^ry Gardner. 91 

He could hardly tear himself away. The 
long walk across the moors had never 
seemed so interminable, and the hours of 
the night spent in his home were almost 
endless. With the first stirrings of day he 
was up, and, with the largest portion of the 
little hoard in the old caddy transferred 
to his pocket, he traversed the moors again. 
He stumbled many times in his excitement, 
fearful that some hindrance might cause a 
delay which would imperil his possession of 
the horse. He did not know any approach 
to peace until the sum was safely placed in 
the dealer's hands and the receipt duly ac- 
knowledged, then he stumbled out of the 
man's presence with all the signs of drunken 
joy and hurried to claim his property. 

Seen through the glasses of ownership the 
pony was doubly valuable, and her master 
felt no regret for what he secretly termed 



92 The Victory of ET^y Gardner. 

*' a vast amount o' money," which his 
natural parsimoniousness at other tunes 
would have treasured. He was quite will- 
ing to part with more in exchange for some 
bits of old harness, and he loitered about 
discussing the proper care of horses with 
whomsoever he could get to talk with him. 

It was late in the day when he started 
for home, leading the animal by an old 
halter, a bag of feed and a bundle of straw 
slung across her back and his own arms 
filled with parcels. They moved slowly, 
sedately along, man and beast, full of pride. 
Once out of the town, with the sweet expanse 
of the moors about them, Gardner, walking 
by his horse's head, grew suddenly talk- 
ative and poured out his fancies in ecstatic 
whispers. He pointed out different spots 
across the level land, he called her atten- 
tion to the changing glory of the bushes, 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 93 

the bright golden-rod, and the nodding 
asters. He paused delightedly while she 
slaked her thirst at the little pond no 
larger than a village door-yard, and through 
everything he was conscious of her sym- 
pathy. His simple, child-like heart was 
aglow with love. All the feelings that had 
lain dormant within him from his birth 
surged up and found an outlet at last. 
The after-glow was flooding the sky 
with a wonderful radiance when they en- 
tered the village by the old main road. 
As they passed the first house that stood 
like a sentinel facing the moors, a tiny 
child toddled gleefully through the open 
door out into the little strip of garden 
in front. Gardner paused and glanced in 
at the simple interior, and as he lingered 
the young mother ran out and caught 
the small runaway in her arms. 



94 The Victory of E^ty Gardner. 

"Baby, oh, baby!" she cried. 

Gardner passed on. His heart was 
unspeakably touched. His life had known 
no such experience ; no woman's love, no 
child's love, had ever cheered his lonely 
lot. He had been denied the little 
priceless demonstrations which glorify so 
many lives. But the word uttered in 
the tender mother-voice was surcharged 
with an affection that thrilled some re- 
sponsive chord in his being. He straight- 
ened his bent shoulders proudly, grateful 
for the new companionship that had been 
given to him. He was no longer alone. 
He turned to his horse. 

'* I didn't ax 'em ef ye hed a name," 
he said simply. "I did n't think o' thet. 
But o' course ye must hev suthin' to 
go by, an' so I'll call ye 'Baby.' It 
doos sound well." 




The Victory of E^ty Gardner. 96 



VI. 

. . . LoTe greatens and glorifies 
Till God *8 aglow to the loving eyes 
In what was mere earth before. 

BOBEBT BbOWNINQ. 

As the years passed Starr was forced to 
modify his opinion of the " stayin' powers " 
of white horses in general and of Baby in 
particular. His pet theories crumbled to 
the earth. Bay Charley, despite the alluring 
promise of his "one white foot," had only 
lived a matter of six weeks or so. Starr 
would have been more than human if he 
had not felt some thrill of rejoicing at Cole- 
man's ill-luck. The truth voiced by the 



96 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

clever Frenchman, that there is always 
something in the misfortunes of our friends 
not entirely displeasing to us, is one which, 
try as we will, we cannot wholly deny. 
It was especially true in Starr's case. The 
envy with which he had regarded Bay 
Charley's owner ended in a chuckle at his 
expense. He could even afford to be gen- 
erous after a fashion, though Coleman, 
smarting with the idea of having been 
tricked, resented all amicable overtures. 
He was ready to vent his spleen on Starr 
now that the dealer was out of the way, and 
blamed his former friend for the untimely 
decease of the horse. 

Whatever elation Starr might have felt 
at his own lucky escape was considerably 
lessened by his wife's conduct. She per- 
ceived with praiseworthy feminine astute- 
ness that it was her mission to point a 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 97 

moral, and she was not a woman to neglect 
her opportunities. She never tired of tell- 
ing her husband that she had saved him 
more than ninety-five dollars, and when, in 
heated moments he reproached her with 
any extravagance on her part, she generally 
tui-ned the tables in the domestic discussion. 
Nor was she slow to press home the clear- 
ness of her views where Baby was con- 
cerned. She felt it a subject of regret, as 
did many of the neighbors, that the little 
pony should develop attributes with which 
no one had credited her. 

Horses came and horses went the way of 
all flesh, but Baby still bore an undaunted 
front. The most familiar actors on the 
whole Island were Gardner and his horse. 
They were always together. Was Baby to 
be seen plodding across the moors, or wait- 
ing in the town streets, or standing fetlock- 



98 The Victory of E^^ry Gardner. 

deep in the sand while the rough cart of 
domestic make was being filled with drift- 
wood, then her master was never very far 
away, his face, in its frame of white beard 
and hair, beaming with shy friendliness. By 
that strange power of association which 
shapes our features into some likeness of 
what is uppermost in our thoughts, master 
and horse had grown to look singularly 
alike. The soft mildness in Baby's glance 
found its reflection in Gardner's too. 
The hard lines of his face seemed to relax 
into unwonted gentleness as old age settled 
down upon him. 

His neighbors noted this new phase in 
his character half -grudgingly ; they re- 
garded his timid offers of help with suspi- 
cion, seeking amongst themselves for some 
base motive on his part to account for his 
actions. Here and there some of the 



The Victory of E:{ry Gardner. 99 

women, mindful of certain little kindnesses 
received at his hands, spoke loudly in his 
praise. Phoebe Macy was one of these, 
though it was long before she knew what 
friendly hand had kept her wood-pile 
stacked all through the hard winters. She 
had surprised Gardner one night at his 
self-appointed task, and the little man had 
cowered under her thanks as a school- 
boy trembles under a deserved punishment. 
He had fled at the first opportunity. 
*''T wa'n't nothin' to make sech a fuss 
'bout," he muttered in response to her volu- 
bility. 

With the passing of the years the 
Island, which may have been the abiding- 
place at one time of the old Vikings, — 
if the Norse legend be true, — gained some- 
thing in celebrity as a summer resort. 
Fashion never really invaded the wind- 



^o89 4 



100 The Victory of Eiry Gardner. 

swept stretch of land; it was too primi- 
tive and remote to be a potent magnet 
to many merry-makers, but for those 
longing for the charm of a simple life 
it was full of irresistible attractions. 
The long, golden days, sweet with the 
manifold perfumes of the moors and 
the invigorating breath of the sea, brought 
health and strength in their train to 
jaded nerves and tired bodies. 

The town heartily welcomed the influx 
of strangers, and, as evidence of good- 
will, produced a number of hotels of un- 
picturesqne proportions, while the natives 
developed a shrewd eye for business by 
taking boarders. Nor was the little fishing- 
village on the opposite side of the Island 
unmindful of this commendable example. 
In its turn it opened its doors wide to the 
alien with a show of hospitable intent. 



^ 



The Victory of E:(iy Gardner. 101 

Gardner had his share in the windfall 
of good fortune, though his narrow 
home did not afford shelter to any 
transient guest. A larger sphere of use- 
fulness was disclosed to him and his 
horse. With numerous errands to do for 
the summer visitors, it was almost a 
daily occurrence for the two to plod 
townwards in the early morning, re- 
turning by nightfall. It never ruffled 
the old man's peace of mind to hear his 
primitive, little cart and aging pony 
designated as the " Lightning Express." 
That witticism had originated with some 
college boy, but it was immediately 
snapped up by the natives, whose new- 
born derision did not wholly veil their 
envy of former times. Gardner took 
what business came his way thankfully 
enough, not competing with his neighbors 



102 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

who rattled contemptuously past him. 
He would not have exchanged Baby for 
any of their fleeter horses, whose merits 
did not appeal to him. To his mind 
Baby possessed all the virtues. Could 
he not say that from a deep knowledge 
after those long years of service? And 
were there not many who could attest to 
her faithfulness and worth during that 
time? 

Ask them all — those men and women with 
whitening hair and slower step, and the 
young married people who had been the 
jeering children back in the days when 
Baby first came to the Island. Had they 
no testimony to give? And if words in 
praise of her gentleness were wanting, ask 
the little ones — ask the little ones. How 
odd it seemed that the old man should turn 
to the children now! There was a time 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 103 

when he fled from them as from a pestilence, 
pursued by their mocking cries. And then, 
suddenly, as he grew to love his horse, his 
warmer nature unfolded by degrees. It 
almost seemed as if some unseen hand had 
set the door of his heart ajar. 

"It's all 'count o' Baby," he would say 
to himself, as the little ones ran to meet 
him — the poor folk's children and the small 
summer visitors. They would crowd 
around the old pony and offer her grass, or 
a bit of an apple, or a lump of sugar — not 
one too timid to proffer some gift. And 
they would linger by the man's side and talk 
to him about his horse, about the sea, about 
the moors, about anything that came into 
their tiny minds. His halting tongue and 
slow fancy made simple stories for them. 

Baby was his constant theme. Never a 
touch of that far-away time full of the 



104 The Victory of ET^y Gardner. 

sounds of war. None of the children knew 
of that experience, they only knew about the 
artless Island life, the recurring seasons of 
the year and the gifts in their bestowal. 
They appreciated with delight that Baby 
liked the gentle sununer shower and the 
soft, damp mist that felt so good on their 
faces too. Did Baby tremble at the light- 
ning? Why, so did they; and the thunder 
always made them crowd thek fingers into 
their ears — how did she shut out the 
dreadful sound? It did not surprise them 
to hear that Baby sniffed the keen, salt air 
with eager nostrils, nor that she loved to 
stand on the shore watching the waves 
trying to catch one another as they rolled in 
on the beach in their never-ending game. 
It all seemed true to them, because it was 
true to the old man who told his stories so 
lovingly. 



The Victory of E^ty Gardner. 105 

While he left those darker times un- 
mentioned, he had not forgotten them. 
He knew full well that children listen with 
bated breath to tales of bravery, that their 
tiny pulses beat faster at the recital of 
deeds of courage. He could have told of 
the valor of others, though he could boast 
of none of his own. But that past was a 
sealed book to him. He never spoke of it 
save to his one confidante, Baby, and sel- 
dom to her ; he felt she understood so well. 

It had been long before he had taken her 
fuUy into his confidence and had disclosed 
the haunting secret of his life. She had 
been in his possession for years, and had 
been his dearest care always ; he had won 
her trust and love, and had given in return 
an unstinted affection ; but he still hid what 
he felt might shake her faith in him, — the 
secret of his own pitiful cowardice. He 



106 The Victory of E^^ry Gardner. 

talked to her frankly on every subject, ex- 
cept the one which thrilled him with shame. 
He used to tell himself that some day he 
would make a clean breast of it all, and 
if she turned from him, if she shivered at 
his approach, it would be only what he 
deserved. But he would wait until she 
loved him better before he told. Love is 
so willing to forgive — he would wait. 

To us, with our wider knowledge and 
companionship, there is something half- 
pathetic, half -ludicrous, in the idea the old 
man had of his horse, but to him she was 
the one friend of his life — the only creature 
that had ever cared for him. His mother 
had been a stern, taciturn woman who had 
won no love from him because she 
bestowed no affection, nor had ever felt its 
need. But his horse seemed human — was 
human! She required no speech such as 




The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 107 

ours to tell him of her confidence, and he 
could not afford to lose it; he was not 
brave enough to show himself in his true 
colors. 

" Some day, some day, on'y not now," 
he would say to his conscience, " I '11 tell 
some day." 

And, as in those other years, he silenced 
the voice within his breast. 



108 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 



vn. 

Their names 
Graven on memorial columns, are a song 
Heard in the future . . . 
. . . their examples reach a hand 
Far thro' all years, and everywhere they meet 
And kindle generous purpose, and the strength 
To mould it into action pure as theirs. 

Tennyson. 

About this time the old town, proud of 
her heroes, sought to honor those sons of 
hers who had fallen in the war. It was 
her wish to raise a monument to their 
memory in the street they had loved so 
dearly — a monument inscribed with their 
names, which should stand through the 



The yktory of f;n' GarJwr. Irtit 

years beuriDg the noble reconi nnd tt'stify- 

ing of their valor when those who hmi known 

them best were dust. It shoiilil loll tmliom 

generations of the courage that hml sprung 

forth at their country's need, and leikoh tho 

grand It^sacn of the love — no great^'r lovo 

. can there be — that lays down its life for 

i another I The granite shaft, lifting its 

I slender point towards the heavens, slionlil 

I forever the joint truth of Freedom 

^ty. 

ne which found a home in 

I oa the Island, and the inliubi- 

ellieach other in their ea^^erncnH 

i lo the fund. Gardner oainis 

dly with his offering, but he Ml 

f self -satisfaction at the amoun! , 

. large one for a luun in IjL^ 

give. It was made in a Uiwlmi'. 

land ttiougb it was speedily tnjinvj 



110 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

about, as everything is in a small place, he 
took no pleasure in the thought that his 
neighbors were commenting upon his 
unexpected generosity. He guessed, rather 
than heard, the general interpretation that 
he had given so lavishly, because he had 
come out of the struggle with a whole skin. 
It was looked upon as a species of thank- 
offering. He alone knew that he willingly 
deprived himself as a compensation for the 
cowardice which had kept him unresponsive 
for so long, and, in the end, had made such 
a half-hearted soldier of him. 

The day of the unveiling was the proud- 
est one in the annals of the Island. Illus- 
trious strangers from the "Continent" 
honored it with their presence, and the 
inhabitants of the town and the fishing- 
villages assembled in a spirit of sober re- 
joicing to assist at the ceremonies. They 



\ 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. Ill 

thronged the quaint street, elbowing one 
another with good-humored force for the best 
places, their weather-beaten faces glowing 
with pride and enthusiasm. The solemnity 
of the occasion was swallowed up by a 
great wave of excitement which threatened 
to submerge them all. 

Gardner was not with the crowd in the 
square; he was in an important place, 
though it was not one of his own seeking. 
The few men who had returned from the 
war were seated on the platfoim, their 
faded uniforms, which they wore at the 
committee's suggestion, forming a pathetic 
bit of color which stirred all hearts 
strangely. They looked sheepish and awk- 
ward, despite the pride that gleamed every 
now and then from their lowered eyes; 
still their exaltation was not wholly dis- 
pleasing to them. On the morrow they 



\ 



112 The Victory of E7;ry Gardner. 

would think it the greatest moment of their 
lives. Gardner was the only one to be 
thoroughly uncomfortable in his surround- 
ings. He had never felt so aware of the 
little claim he had on the tolerance of those 
about him. He had no right to the high 
place of honor. He longed to creep away 
and hide himself. What would they all 
say if he were to interrupt the Judge in his 
lengthy oration, and tell them the truth? 
Would they understand his waverings? 
Would they be merciful? If they knew, 
would they not tear him from his place and 
brand him with shame ? 

Instead of that he sat there in the sun- 
shine, unmindful of the smooth phrases, 
with his eyes fixed on the flag-draped 
shaft before him. He did not notice 
the allusion to " the brave boys who 
had come back," though he felt Cole- 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 113 

man's hasty nudge and heard his whispered 
words : 

" Take off yer hat, mate, they *re cheerin' 
us." 

Mechanically he bared his head and 
lowered it in response to the tremendous 
applause from the crowd, but his heart 
was sick within his breast and he kept re- 
peating to himself: 

"Ef they on'y knowed — ef they on'y 
knowed." 

He shrank back on the bench in his 
efforts to efface himself from the scene, 
while no conscious triumph of accomplished 
duty smoothed out the tense lines of suffer- 
ing on his face. He did not heed the 
Judge droning on; he was oblivious to 
everything until a mighty shout rose as 
from one throat. He raised his eyes as the 
flag fell and disclosed the granite shaft that 



114 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

was to stand for all time in memory of 
those other " brave boys " who had laid 
down their lives in the service of their 
country. 

Gardner waved his cap about his head 
with a shrill cheer. He could appreciate 
valor and patriotism, though he had been a 
coward. Ah ! who better ? Our ineflSciency 
does not blind us to the eflScient work of 
others. He added his voice to the enthu- 
siasm around him, glad to evince his pride in 
those deserving ones whose names they had 
met to commemorate. When the crowd 
dispersed he climbed down from the plat- 
form and walked about the monument, 
scrutinizing it from every point of view. 
He spelled the simple Latin inscription 
wonderingly. 

" I did n't know there wuz sech a person 
here," he murmured, " an' I can't seem to 




The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 116 

make out who 't is. I thought I knowed 
all the boys that fit." 

A shadow fell athwart the stone, it was 
caused by the approach of a stranger, a 
kindly-faced man, who, for the moment, was 
unconscious of Gardner's proximity. He 
read the little sentence half aloud as if try- 
ing to fix its meaning deep in his memory, 
then he turned to go. 

" Axin' yer pard'n, sir," Gardner said in 
a voice made husky by timidity, " but 
would ye be so perlite ez to read thet ag'in ? 
I can't seem to make it clear. Tears to 
me it ain't the name. Christian or surname, 
of anybody hereabouts." 

The stranger paused and complied with 
the request. 

" It 's Latin," he explained, with a smile 
that warmed the old heart near him, " and 
it means ' for the love and honor of their 



116 The Victory of Et^ Gardner. 

country.'" He raised his eyes and his 
keen glance took in every detail of the 
bent figure in the faded blue uniform. 

" You know the meaning of those words, 
surely? " he went on. " You brave fellows 
proved that to us back there. Won't you 
give me your hand, friend ? " 

Gardner put his hand shyly into the 
extended palm. He could say nothing, he 
was quivering with emotion. 

" Were you wounded? " 

Gardner shook his head. 

" Were you in many battles ? " 

"Four." 

The old man's voice trembled with sup- 
pressed excitement, his secret was so near 
disclosure. In another minute it would be 
laid bare, he thought, and then those kindly 
eyes would be averted in contempt. But 
he was spared that. The Judge called to 



\ 



The Victory of E^^ry Gardner. 117 

the stranger to join him on the platform, 
and, with a parting smile, he hastened away, 
carrying with him the consciousness that he 
had almost seen into a fellow-creature's 
soul. 

Gardner stood irresolute, studying the 
Latin words and repeating them, as he 
spelled them out laboriously, with a pro- 
nunciation which it is safe to say will never 
be adopted by any university ;♦ then he 
walked about the monument and looked 
at the other inscriptions. He had no 
difficulty in deciphering them; they were 
familiar household words everywhere on 
the Island — the names of the heroes who 
had given their lives "for the love and 
honor of their country." A little glow of 
personal pride flushed his features as he 
came to Joshua Macy's name. 

"Wall Josh desarves to hev his name 



118 The Victory of Eiry Gardner. 

down," the old man muttered. "Joshwuz 
a true hero ; he did n't grudge the goin', the 
givin' up; he would hev done it ag'in. 
Doos he know this?" 

Gardner broke off in his soliloquy and 
looked at the letters before him for an 
answer. Wherever Macy was, was he con- 
scious that, as long as the stone should 
last, his name would stand there on the 
honor roll? Where was he? What had 
become of him? Was there any "after- 
wards " ? 

Gardner stirred nervously. There was a 
time when he had never troubled himself 
about such thoughts, but of late they had 
assailed him with a persistency which he 
could not evade. He had no answer to 
give. But if there were no " afterwards " 
the splendor of Macy*s deed was still 
worth the domg a thousand times to win 



I 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 119 

the same result. Even if a man died, 
never to rise again, goodness and love 
and honor would live on through the ages. 
They were imperishable. Some such 
thought crept into the slow mind groping 
towards the light. And if those qualities 
lived to help men on, who should say that 
this little span of troubled years was all 
there was of life ? Who should deny that 
somewhere, somehow, man lived again? 

The placid bearing of Phoebe Macy came 
to Gardner's remembrance on the instant. 
Forgetfulness had never given that deeper 
beauty to her face, nor the tenderer tones 
to her voice. Surely she must believe in an 
" afterwards " that she could bear her sor- 
rows so nobly. And throughout the land, 
where so many fields were fields of battle, 
where the shadow of sadness lay on so 
many hearths, but where trust in Something 



120 The Victory of E^iy Gardner. 

higher was dommant, who could doubt the 
hope of Immortality? 

Gardner lingered by the Monument all 
through the afternoon, full of vague 
thoughts, unanswerable questions, and 
impotent longings. In the stirrings of his 
heart there was cleansing for his whole 
moral nature, had he but known it, and 
relief also for his tortured mind. Some 
angel's touch had disturbed the waters 
and a spring of healing had leaped up, 
but the poor, stunted soul, distorted by 
ignorance, was powerless to turn the divine 
opportunity to its best account. He could 
find no help within himself. He stayed 
there hoping dumbly for — he knew not 
what. People passed to and fro, old neigh- 
bors who had a word and a nod for him, 
and strangers who cast curious, amused 
glances at the unsoldierly proportions of 




The Victory of E^ty Gardner. 121 

the small, bowed figure in the dingy uni- 
form. 

Down in the lower part of the town, at 
Buck's Tavern, the other boys in blue 
were celebrating the day with ginger ale, 
root-beer, and home-brewed punch in un- 
limited quantities. They filled the low 
room with song and story, and, as the 
hours wore on, they extolled the virtues 
of the comrades who had not come back 
with an eloquence more remarkable for 
its iteration than for its lucidity. There 
was no place in their remembrance for 
Gardner. He might have been dead, 
save, perhaps, had that been the case, 
they then might have recalled his eccen- 
tricities by some passing mention; but 
living, and a familiar figure in their daily 
sight, they did not think of him. 

He did not care. He was wondering 



122 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

to himself what it would seem like to be 
a hero. Suppose they had cut the name 
of Ezry Gardner in Joshua Macy's stead. 
He almost wished that it were on the 
record, not that 'he was tired of living, 
but because he would fain be valiant too. 
He longed to be worthy of the commen- 
dation which now he dared not take; he 
was thirsting for the draught of praise 
which was near his lips and of which he 
was unfit to taste. 

Ezry Gardner remembered as a hero, 
one who had died for the honor of his 
country, who had given his life willingly 
for the sake of another. The idea was 
an ecstatic one. But following close 
upon it there came a bitter thought. If 
he had fallen down there on some South- 
em battlefield he never would have 
known the sweet delights of Baby's com- 



> 



The Victory of E^ty Gardner. 123 

panionship. The tears came quickly to 
his eyes ; he put up a hand that trembled 
nervously and brushed them aside. No, 
he could not give that up ! He was 
glad to be alive. Not even for the love 
and honor of his country, not at the de- 
mands of pity and brotherhood, would he 
relinquish his ownership of the little horse. 

''I ain't no hero," he murmured as he 
stumbled away; "I ain't o' the pattern 
o' heroes." 

Something of the ignominy lurking in 
the avowal still lingered with him, as he 
unhitched Baby and turned her head 
homewards. He climbed into the little 
cart and took the rope reins in his 
hand. 

" G' 'long. Baby ! " he said softly. 

The pony ambled slowly down the street 
and out to the open country. Several 



124 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

times she paused and turned her mild eyes 
reproachfully on the inert figure on the 
seat; she could not understand why he 
should keep his place there so persistently. 
It was his custom to walk by her side, and 
as the twilight fell, wrapping them in its 
soft shadows, his arm would lie across her 
neck and his voice would pour the account 
of the day's happenings in her attentive 
ears. But this night the primitive reins lay 
idly in his listless grasp, and Baby picked 
her way on alone. 

He could not go to her and tell his secret, 
and yet he knew that he could no longer 
accept her trust and withhold it from her 
keeping. If they were to be true friends, 
he must make a clean breast and begin 
afresh. He did not get down until they 
reached the little home in Cliff street, then 
he went to the horse's head and led her 



^ 



The Victory of E^^ry Gardner. 125 

gently into the small out-house by its side 
which served as a stable. He unharnessed 
her in silence and rubbed her down with 
loving care. She kept thrusting her face 
against his, and finally he took it in his 
hands and kissed it tenderly between the 
eyes. 

" I 've got to tell ye," he said huskily, 
" an* like ez not ye '11 despise me, but it's 
fair ye should know. I ain't no hero — 
I ain't never be'n no hero — I 'm a coward I 
I wuz a coward w'en I held off from goin' 
to the war, an' even w'en I went I never 
give over bein' one. I wuz oUuz afeard 
— afeard o' the firin', an' the men, an' the 
fightin'; an' too dog-gone afeard to run 
away an' be honust. I wuz jes' a shamblin', 
mean coward through it all. There I thet 's 
all there is to say — ye kin despise me ef 
ye wantter." 



126 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

The gentle, brown eyes did not turn away 
in the least from the white, anxious face, 
they looked straight back into the misty 
blue ones with the old confidence and love. 

" Wut, Baby ! " Gardner whispered trem- 
ulously, "ye don't mind, ye 're sartin sure 
ye don't mind — an* ye understand ? " 

The horse rubbed her head affectionately 
against his arm. 

"Ye 're sure ye won't mind w'en we 
driye by the Moniment thet my name never 
could hev be'n there all along o' my bein' a 
coward? O' course ye 're glad — ez I be — 
thet it ain't there, cos ef it wuz t could n't 
be here a-lovin' ye. But, oh ! I can't help 
wishin' fer a cleaner record to show ye, my 
pooty one." 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 127 



vin. 

There needs not a great soul to be a hero, there 

needs a God-created soul which will be true to its 

origin. 

Thomas Cabltle. 

Confession may not always be remission, 
but it is at all times relief. To Gardner, 
with the weight of his secret shared by his 
friend, there came a tranquillity of mind 
that was almost incredible. He was like a 
man returning from a long imprisonment, 
free at last from the shackles that had 
bound him physically and morally. The 
world seemed a different place, the familiar 
scenes were more beautiful to his chastened 
glance, and he longed for strength and 



128 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

opportunity to redeem the failures of the 
past. 

He was conscious that his companions 
would not have pardoned him as readily 
and entirely as Baby had done. They 
would have taken his confession at its true 
valuation and would have held it contin- 
ually against him. Our fellows are apt to 
judge us by^the letter of the law, unwilling 
to make allowances for the weaker natures 
which are the heritage of most of us. And 
yet he felt intuitively that if at the time of 
Macy's death he had had the courage to 
tell his story, some sense of relief would 
have come to him then, even had he read 
contempt in the glazing eyes. His secret 
at least would have been shared. But now 
it was understood. He recognized that 
with a thrill of joy. He could not have 
told how, or why, but Love works won- 



The Victory of ET^y Gardner. 129 

ders, and Baby, his little horse, his one 
friend, knew all, and was still stanch in her 
affections. 

He moved with a more alert step, he 
raised his head with some promptings of 
self-respect at his restoration to what he 
had been before the war had searched out 
the infirmity of his nature. He was infi- 
nitely better and braver, however, than in 
that old time, though he did not suspect it. 
With the wish to give his new self a more 
crucial test, on the day after his confession 
he drove to the Monument and stopped 
there. His heart beat tumultuously as he 
left the cart and went to the pony's head. 
He was silent a minute, then in a husky 
whisper he read the record of the heroes, 
lingering tenderly over Joshua Macy's 
name. He murmured again his admission 
of the previous night in the attentive ears. 



130 The Victory of E^ty Gardner. 

Even if he had died in battle by Bome 
stray shot and the home-people had hon- 
ored his memory, he would not have been a 
hero, — he was nothing but a coward. 

And Baby did not fail him! Was it 
only dumb instinct, after all, that kept her 
eyes fastened on his face? If they had 
turned aside ever so slightly, what would not 
that have implied to the sensitive, anxious 
man who had nerved himself to this task as 
a soldier nerves himself to go into battle? 
But Baby loved him despite everything — 
loved him even better, if that could be. 
His faith in her was supreme. Would a 
man have felt his affection grow stronger 
for so weak a brother ? Would a woman, 
or child, have known a deeper, more pity- 
ing love ? Who shall say ? Irresolution 
and timidity so often inspire nothing more 
kindly than toleration. 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 131 

Gardner met the pony's earnest gaze 
with a feeling of content on his part; he 
was more than satisfied with the sympathy 
that had fallen to his share. He climbed 
back into his cart and drove away. There 
was a joyful smile on his worn face, and, as 
he went, he whistled the old Doxology 
softly. 

From that time man and horse were more 
to each other than heretofore. The rolling 
years cemented their affections more firmly ; 
they grew old together, slower of step and 
vision, but they seemed to keep pace. 
There was no visible indication of break- 
ing-up in either. * ' The Lightning Express " 
still plied its way between the fishing- village 
and the town as regularly as usual ; not so 
fast perhaps as in the earlier time, but 
" jes' ez sure," Gardner was wont to main- 
tain. He had a few patrons, and there was 



132 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

always something to do. Only nowadays 
he never rode across the moors. He would 
drive through the village, and through the 
town streets, seated in the old cart, in order 
that Baby's dignity might not be hurt, but 
as soon as the open country was reached 
he took his place by her head and tramped 
resolutely along in the grassy furrows. 

.''Wal! fer a good many reasons," he 
acknowledged; "fust fer comp'ny, an' 
Baby 's the best I 've ever knowed, an' 
then, ye see, she ain't so spry ez oncet upon 
a time. Not failin' — oh, no ! bless ye, no I 
but jes' gittin' on. So I like to ease the 
weight o' the cart — wut with the passels 
an' sech, it 's heavy enough fer her to draw 
'thout my heft thro wed in." 

He was never able, however, to refuse a 
child's request to be allowed to ride. That 
weight could make no difference. The 



The Victory of Ei^ry Gardner. 133 

noisy companionship was a delight to Baby, 
too, she used to flap her ears back as 
though to listen the better to the prattling 
voice. No, Gardner could never refuse a 
child's pleading. He would lift the little 
one tenderly on the seat and give the old, 
frayed reins into the chubby hand, at the 
same time cautioning the small driver to 
let them fall gently on Baby's back " so ez 
not to hurt her." 

During the five and twenty years of 
Gardner's ownership of the cart, the whip- 
socket had stood empty of any means of 
castigation. In the children's reign it was 
often filled with bunches of gay flowers, 
and then, one day, a small toy flag graced 
the yawning aperture. If the village-folk 
noticed the unusual adornment they con- 
cluded that their old comrade had picked it 
up on the moors where it had been dropped 



134 The Victory of E^ry Gardner, 

by some passing child. And Gardner kept 
his own counsel — he knew, none better, how 
the pretty silken thing had come into his 
possession. He would always remember 
with a grateful heart the little, city-bred 
boy who had come gravely one autumn 
morning to bid him and Baby good-by, and 
had left, as a parting gift, his most pre- 
cious treasure. It was the first token of 
love that had ever fallen to the old man's lot, 
and he prized it more highly than he could 
ever say. Never a day passed that it did 
not stand there at the head of his cart 
where the small hand had placed it. Its crim- 
son bars had faded beneath the influences of 
sun and rain, and the blue field that held 
the stars had somehow swallowed them 
entirely, unless one obser\^ed closely — but 
it was beautiful still in its owner's sight. 
On the days when there was no occasion 




The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 135 

for the *' Lightning Express " to run town- 
wards, Baby stood in her stall in placid 
enjoyment of the rest she had earned so 
well, and her master was constantly in the 
low shed. 

He found many excuses to be there — 
the harness always needed mending, and 
one could tinker forever on the cart and 
still find some work to do. It was pleasant, 
too, as a lounging-place where he could 
smoke his pipe and dream of the little 
horse and the beautiful world of which the 
Island was a part. At other times, when 
duty called him on some short fishing- 
excursion, he lamented the hours spent in 
his dory because they deprived him of her 
society. 

What he liked to do best was to take 
Baby and the cart (since he must make 
some pretence of employment, else '' the 



136 The Vktory of E^^ty Gardner. 

neighbors an' the summer folks would think 
him queer ") , and go down on the beach, 
ostensibly to pick up driftwood to be sold 
later at the cottages along the bluff. How 
good it was to spend the long hours there 
with the voice of the sea in his ears and the 
companionship of his tried friend near by ! 
How grand it was to watch the great waves 
roll in and comb over, with the sunlight 
gilding the green concave of their glorious 
curve, breaking the next moment with a 
thunderous roar almost at his feet! He 
was a familiar figure there in those later 
years, trudging patiently back and forth, 
his arms laden with the sea's spoils in order 
to save Baby the hard pull through the 
sand ; or sitting by her side with his eyes 
fixed on the restless waters. 

One day, while he was engaged in the 
former manner, he came upon a man lying 



^ 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 137 

on the beach gazing seaward with the rapt 
face of a lover. Gardner understood that 
look. Did he not love the sea himself, and 
could he not comprehend the longing that 
would thrill other men? He stopped 
silently by the stranger, for the moment 
unperceived. He, too, looked out upon 
the lonely expanse of water on which there 
was no glimmer of sail to be seen. Near 
at hand the surf came sliding up the shore 
in a sullen, brooding fashion as if meditat- 
ing a storm, its sad moan answering dully 
to the call of the rising wind. The whole 
sea beyond was white with the tossing 
manes of the war-horses, and out on ** The 
Rips " the spray leaped up angrily and fell 
again in a shower of mist which every now 
and then the sun, gleaming fitfully, touched 
with prismatic colors. The sky was full of 
dark, low-hanging clouds. 



138 The Victory of E^^ry Gardner. 

*' There 's goin' to be a storm bimeby." 

" Yes." The stranger moved a trifle im- 
patiently at the voicing of such an appar- 
ent fact ; it required no great penetration to 
read the signs of Nature aright. 

" It 's a gran' thing to watch the sea," 
Gardner went on dreamily; "wut's so 
strong ez its strength?" 

The stranger murmured something half 
to himself ; the words just reached his com- 
panion : 

*' ' The Lord on high is mightier than the 
noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty 
waves of the sea.' " 

"Doyeb'Uevethet?" 

« Yes." 

*' Hev ye b'lieved it long? " 

Something in the anxious voice touched 
the stranger and roused him from his ab- 
straction. He glanced up at the eager face 



I 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 139 

above him, reading there the slow torture 
that was going on within the man. A rec- 
ollection struck his fancy sharply ; the years 
rolled back, and a little scene, at the unveil- 
ing of the Soldiers' Monument in the quaint 
town on the other side of the moors, came 
quickly to his mind. He had seen that 
pathetic face with its mute longings 
before — he had almost had a glimpse of 
the man's soul. 

" Hev ye b'lieved it olluz ? " 

The question was the veriest whisper, but 
it quivered with anxiety, and struck the 
deepest chord in the listener's breast with a 
sharpness of insistence not to be put one 
side. 

" No, not always — for a long time ; yes." 

*' But before thet, w'en ye did n't b'lieve 
— wut then ? " 

^' It was dark, darker than night, and I 



140 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

struggled as a man would struggle out there 
in that hell of waters, and then, still strug- 
gling, I made the shore. And it has been 
light since." 

"But how?" 

" I was full of doubt, I could n't believe 
anything, I was almost wrecked on the 
rocks, and then, suddenly, I felt that Grod is 
too great to be circumscribed by any forms 
that man can make. If He were not, He 
could not be God. He is greater than 
our deepest imaginings, mightier than the 
mighty waves out yonder, more tender and 
loving than any thought of ours can frame. 
That's what I believe." 

Gardner sat down shyly. 

''Fer me," he said half -wearily, ''I 
ain't never b'lieved — nor wanted ter — nor 
thought much 'bout it — but I hain't let on. 
There 's suthin's I don't understand, an' 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 141 

they 've worrited me, I '11 allow, an' one of 
'em is — is there any arterwards? When 
Josh Macy died back in war-time — shot, ye 
know — it seemed to me then thet there 
must be suthin' more, thet it all could n't be 
over an' done with. An' senee, w'en I 've 
watched PhcBbe — his wife I mean — so 
hopeful-like, w'y, it seems ez ef it must 
be true. But I don't know." 

"We have to fight that question out for 
ourselves, each one of us. No man can 
say from the certainty of vision, but we 
cannot help feeling that there must be 
something else — something beyond. To 
me, the ' afterwards ' is a deep, sure truth, 
as unfailing as that day will follow night 
and the spring winter. If we believe in the 
perpetual going on of Nature, why should 
we deny the same power to the soul? We 
must believe that " — 



142 The Victory of ETjy Gardner. 

"An' then?" 

*' Trust in the Love that understands, 
and helps, and pardons." 

*'UsaU?" 

*' Every one of us." 

The sun, which had been shining faintly, 
had disappeared behind the angry clouds 
and the sharp, sea air struck keenly in their 
faces. Gardner turned and scrutinized his 
companion intently ; he met the man's eyes 
for a moment, then his own fell as. a bitter 
experience in his past touched his remem- 
brance. 

"I've seed ye afore," he said hesitat- 
ingly, " over there w'en they unveiled the 
Moniment. Do ye rickerlect?" 
The stranger nodded. 

" Ye shook my hand an' called me a 
brave fellow, but thet wa'n't true. I 'd 
oughter hev tol' ye thet then, on'y somehow 




The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 143 

I could n't. It wuz like this : Wen they 
went to the war I stayed hum an' per- 
tended I could n't do no good, an' then I 
went — suthin' give me strength, I don't 
know wut — p'r'aps it wuz God, though I 
hain't never thought o' thet afore. But I 
went, an' I wuz in four battles, ez I said. 
Thet sounds brave, I '11 allow, but I did n't 
do nothin'. I wuz afeard, though I tried hard 
not to let on. Ye see I hain't be'n strickly 
honust, cos I 've lived in pertence an' taken 
credit w'ich wa'n't rightfully my doo. I 
hain't ever let on to anybody 'ceptin' Baby 
— thet 's my boss — an' I held back a long 
spell 'fore I up an' tol' her. But it made 
no diffunce. Wy, sir, I even think she 
loved me the better fer it. It would n't 
hev be'n easy, though, to tell the folks. I 
could n't hev stud the daily p'intin' at me, 
an' knowin' thet w'en I went by they 'd say, 



144 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

' There goes a coward ! ' Do ye think I 
hed oughter told?" 

"There was no need for any to know, 
least of all those who would not under- 
stand. But other men, many men, in the 
thick of battle, have felt at first the same 
waverings of will with you, the same numb- 
ing sense of fear. You were not the cow- 
ard you think, since you remained true 
to your duty." 

'*But I wuz afeard to run — ye don't 
understand — fear kep' me still." 

"And how about the times when you 
waited for action, could you not have 
found some release then?" 

"I wuz afeard o' desartin', if ye mean 
thet — afeard o' the penalty, an' even ef I 
hed n't be'n ketched I was afeard o' the 
shame an' o' myself." 

The stranger looked into the worn face 



The Victory of ET^y Gardner. 145 

with a sympathetic glance. " I think you 
do yourself an injustice," he said after a 
moment; "but let the past rest; surely your 
life since then has been the better for your 
struggles." 

" I don't know — I hain't thought — it 's 
be'n jes' the same eVry day. I Ve looked 
to do the best I knowed how, an' things hev 
be'n easier sence Baby came, folks kinder, 
an' the children more soshable. Thet's all 
there is to say. Be ye a-goin' to stay here 
long ? " 

*' I go to-morrow." 

A little shade of regret crept into Gard- 
ner's face. 

" H-m I " he murmured ; " I 'm sorry fer 
thet. I 'd like to know ye better, seein' ez 
ye don't tu'n from me. It 's strange I 
should hev met ye ag'in. I 've thought 
often o' ye." 



146 The Victory of Ei^ry Gardner. 

" I shall be coming back next summer." 

" Nex' summer? I'll look to see ye 
then, mebbe. Ef ye 're passin* Cliff street 
anytime ye might ax fer Ezry Gardner — 
they all know Baby an' me round here." 

" Don't go yet ; stay a little longer and 
tell me about Baby." 

Gardner paused joyfully ; he was scram- 
bling to his feet, but at the stranger's invita- 
tion he sank down again. This gleam of 
sympathy was very welcome. 

"Wy, it happened this way," he be- 
gan. He broke off and looked intently at 
a figure advancing along the beach. It 
was a man in his bathing-suit. 

" The derned fool ! " Gardner exclaimed ; 
" he ain't never goin' in swimmin' ! " 
Then, as the man neared them, he sprang 
up. 

*' Say, Perfesser,'* he called; "hallo 



The Victory of Eiry Gardner. 147 

there ! Ye 'd better not go in, the sea 's 
monstrous high." 

The man waved his hand in a friendly 
fashion, he was one of the guests at the 
little hotel in the village. 

*' That 's all right," he shouted good- 
naturedly. " I 'm only going for a dip. 
I'll stay close to shore." He advanced 
nearer the water as he spoke and the surf, 
climbing up the beach, struck against his 
bare feet and ran higher along the sand. 
The force of the wave made him totter for 
an instant, then he plunged in boldly. 

Gardner resumed his place. 

"The derned fool!" he repeated con- 
temptuously. "I know the man — he 's a 
perfesser at some collige, an' I guess he 's 
edicated all the sense out o' his brains. 
Wy, sir, ye could n't git a native to 
go in to-day fer anything short o' life 



148 The Victory of E{ry Gardner. 

an' death — an' then they 'd think twicet 
'bout it. But he kin swim — look how 
he rides them waves ! Wut wuz ye axin' 
me? — Oh! 'bout Baby. Wal, ye see it 
wuz like this " — 

The stranger interrupted him with a 
hasty cry. 

"The man out there! " he gasped with 
quivering lips. 

Gardner's eyes followed the shaking 
index-finger. The swimmer had thrown 
out his arms convulsively, his white, de- 
spairing face set towards the shore ; the 
next moment it had disappeared and a 
huge wave came roaring in. 

"Merciful God! — and I can't swim." 

The stranger's admission of incompe- 
tency was dragged from him with a moan 
of anguish. He stood half-paralyzed, 
gazing helplessly around. He did not 



The Victory of E:^ry Gardner. 149 

notice that the old man had left his 
side and was running down the beach, 
not away from danger this time, 
but into the very heart of it, — a small^ 
pitiably pathetic figure with thin, white 
hair that was tossed about his weather- 
beaten face. 

" Git help an' a rope," Gardner shouted 
over his shoulder as he paused jilst long 
enough to kick off his shoes. The next 
moment he plunged into the sea and fought 
his way through the angry waters, a mere 
speck on the mighty, turbulent mass. 

The stranger stood still gazing dis- 
tractedly around. Back of him Baby was 
waiting patiently for her master, the old 
cart half full of driftwood; but otherwise 
the beach was deserted — there was not a 
sign of life stirring. The tent poles 
stretched their gaunt arms towards the sky 



150 The Victory of E^ty Gardner. 

as if mutely imploring assistance, their 
bright, striped awnings wrapped tightly 
about them, and tied fast — their cheeriness 
clothed in desolation. He dared not leave 
the spot — dared not lose sight of that little 
figure going to the rescue of a fellow-being ; 
he felt himself powerless to aid in any way. 

He called with all the force of his lungs, 
he ran backwards and forwards through the 
heavy sand, he waved his arms frantically 
to attract attention, and the noisy waters 
boomed disdainfully at his feet, the wind 
carried his cries back into the deep. 
Some passers-by on the cliff above him saw 
his gestures and shouted in response, run- 
ning on the instant to give the alarm. 

He turned from the land and gazed out 
on the ocean. It seemed an eternity to 
him since Gardner had left his side. He 
could see nothing but the great waves with 



\ 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 151 

their white crests, hear nothing but their 
dreadful moan as they broke on the shore. 
He strained his eyes for a glimpse of life 
on the seething waters. In vain ! — In vain ! 

Suddenly he caught a glimpse of a small 
dark object — Gardner, his heart told him. 
As he looked he saw him clutch a shape- 
less mass — there were two heads where a 
moment before there had been only one. 
Rescuer and rescued closed in a quick 
embrace. Then a mighty wall of water 
shut out the view from the watcher's eyes, 
but the next instant as the wave receded 
he saw that the men were turned shore- 
wards, the smaller battling single-armed 
with the huge billows. The stranger held 
his breath in suspense. Would they? — 
could they? — The question trembled in his 
heart. He closed his eyes in dread. 

And Gardner, as he turned, saw the 



152 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

beach and the little, white spot that he 
knew was Baby — the little, white spot, 
gleaming out from the darkness of the sky, 
that meant home, and love, and friend. 
He grasped the drowning man tighter with 
a strength like iron. Would they ? — could 
they ? — The question trembled in his heart. 
And then, as the water filled his ears and 
raised a barrier between him and the land, 
shutting out all that was dearest, a prayer, 
for the first time in his life, surged through 
his whole being, sweeping away all past 
misgivings : 

"God, O God! help me save this 
man I " 



I 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 153 



IX. 

Nor deem the irrevocable Past 
As wholly wasted, wholly yain, 

If rising on its wrecks, at last, 
To something nobler we attain. 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. 

To haye done your duty, there is no nobler 

crown to a life. 

De la Kam£e. 

The stranger, bending over Gardner, 
uttered a sigh of relief as he saw the pale 
blue eyes open. 

''My brave fellow I " he said earnestly. 

The old man shook his head feebly, but 
a smile of satisfaction lighted up his white 
face. 



154 The Victory of E:(ry Gardner. 

" Ware 's the perfesser? " he asked. " Is 
he all right?" 

"All right, thank God! They worked 
over him for a while on the beach, and 
when life came back they carried him to the 
hotel. His wife is with him now." 

"Wal, I guess this day's Tamt him a 
lesson thet he won't fergit in a hurry. He 
won't go prodjickin' any more with the sea 
w'en she 's in a tantrum. Who brung me 
hum?" 

*' Some of your old mates and I." 

"An' Baby, did ye leave her on the 
beach? I must go fetch her." 

" Baby is in her stall." 

" Wal, now, thet wuz oncommon good — 
in ye, pertickerly ; we others often lend a 
hand ; it 's kinder neighborly, ye see. Ware 
be the rest?" 

' ' They've gone to their homes ; they 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 155 

begged to stay, but I wanted to watch by 
you for a time. They will come later." 

*'It's kind o' ye, a stranger, to take the 
trouble. I won't never fergit it." 

*' I am proud to do what I can for so 
brave a hero." 

'' Sho-h now ! ye 're jokin'. An' yet," the 
old voice grew very anxious, "do ye 
reely think I 'm thet? Back in war-time 
I wuz afeard, ye know, but w'en thet 
demed — w'en thet perf esser wuz drownin' 
a v'ice jes' sez to me : ' Ezry Gardner, save 
thet man.' An' I went. There wa'n't no 
two ways 'bout it, I could n't argefy with 
thet vice. Ye could n't say thet I wuz 
afeard o' the sea thet I 'd loved all my life, 
not in the same way, thet is, ez I wuz afeard 
in battle. O' course, I seed the danger, an* 
thet I stud on'y a slim chanst to git back ; 
but I went, an' I 'd do the same ag'in an' 



156 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

glad to. Wy, thet wuz jes' 'bout wut 
Josh said, an' here I 'm sayin' the same 
thing with an out-an'-out hero. Thet 's wut 
Josh wuz, ye know; his name stands writ 
on the Moniment. But I ain't no hero. 
Shell I tell ye suthin', stranger? Wen my 
arm closed on the perfesser an' I tu'ned to 
bring him hum, I felt so done fer thet I 
thought we 'd never reach shore tergether. 
An' suthin' inside o' me sez : ' Let him go ; 
ye can't make it with him, any one would 
see thet, an' ye 've tried honust, thet 
oughter count ! Let him go, life is sweet 
to ye yit ; there 's the moors an' the sea to 
love, an' there 's Baby.' An' then I seed 
Baby, jes' a w'ite speck on the beach, 
waitin' fer me, an' — an' I gripped the per- 
fesser harder. I prayed to God to help 
me save him; I meant to reely save him, 
to die savin' him ef thet wuz the on'y way. 



% 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 157 

PYaps God knowed wut wuz in my mind 
— I did n't say much — I jes' thought o' 
Baby an' the moors an' ev'rythin' all in a 
flash, an' I meant I 'd be willln' to give 'em 
all up to save the perfesser. An' then I 
struck out an* swum with all my might an' 
main, an' the fust I knowed the beach wuz 
unner my feet, an' then I did n't know 
nuthin' cl'ar till jes' now." 

*'My brave old friend!" 

"Wut I ye 're sayin' thet still, arter wut 
I 've tol' ye ? I say, sir, do ye think thet 
mebbe the water washed out the stain 
in my soul? Would savin' the perfesser 
kinder cl'ar up thet ol' score o' bein' a 
coward ? " 

" I am sure it would — I am sure it has." 

'* An* I need n't think o' it no more, nor 
never let on 'bout it to any o' the folks ? " 

" Never — never — forget it all." 



158 The Victory of Eiry Gardner. 

"Wal, now! I'm oncommon glad, an' 
it doos seem ez ef a heft hed drapped off o' 
me. I feel ez spry ez a boy ! I must go 
an' tell Baby — oh ! she '11 understand fast 
enough." 

" Wait a little longer first." 

" Wal — p'r'aps — I 'm kinder bruised 
from wrastlin' with them breakers, an' this 
f eelin' will stay by me till Jedgmint Day — 
I know thet ! I say, stranger — friend, I 
mean — wuz thet wut ye meant 'bout the 
Lord bein' mightier than many waters? 
He must be thet — not on 'count o' savin' 
life, but fer savin' souls an' makin' 'em 
clean ag'in." 

It was late in the afternoon when Gard- 
ner crawled from his house into the little 
stable at its side. He was aching in every 
bone of his body, and motion of any kind 



\ 



The Victory of En^y Gardner. 159 

gave him pain, but he could remain no 
longer away from his best friend. At the 
sound of his footsteps Baby turned her 
head and greeted him with a low cry of 
welcome. 

" I 'm a-comin' — I 'm a-comin'," the old 
man grumbled fondly; "don't ye be so 
impatient. Ye can't expec' a man to fly 
w'en he 's jes' hed a nip an' tuck fight with 
breakers mount'in high. Oh! ye seed 
'em, did ye ? An' ye seed me too ? Wuz 
ye s'prised ? Did ye think I 'd let the per- 
fesser die out there an' not try to save him? 
Ye knowed better 'n thet, did n't ye ? Ye 
knowed better 'n even 1 did myself. An' 
well ye might, cos it wuz ye thet I'amt 
me to think o' others. Oh, my beauty ! — 
my beauty ! — wuz ye fearful I would n't 
come back ? " 

He put his arms about the pony's neck 



160 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

and laid his head against hers, sobbing like 
a child. He was weak and spent, but 
through his physical exhaustion he felt the 
peace that had come at last to crown his 
many struggles, and the tears that fell from 
his eyes were tears of gratitude. He stood 
for some time leaning against the quiet 
animal. It was lonely in the house, now 
that the kind-faced stranger had gone 
away, and the silence there was unbearable ; 
but here where Baby understood it was 
almost like heaven, he thought. He would 
stay a little longer and rest ; it was good 
for both of them to be together. 

Baby started suddenly as the door was 
flung open and the keen, damp air filled the 
low room. Gardner raised his head. At 
first he could see nothing distinctly, every- 
thing was in a blur. It seemed to his 
dazed fancy as he stared helplessly around 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 161 

that there was a great crowd of people 
blocking up the doorway and stretchmg 
indefinitely away through the little street. 
What did it mean? Had anything hap- 
pened? He took a step forward nervously, 
but as he half stumbled he threw his arm 
across Baby's neck again and clung to her 
for support. 

*' Wut — wut is it? " he stanunered. 

" We Ve come to tell ye thet we set a 
heap by ye," Starr said huskily as he ad- 
vanced with outstretched hands. " Ye done 
a thing to-day thet there ain't many would 
do — I 'm a- jedgin' from myself — I would 
n't do it, an' I 'm twicet ez big ez ye be. 
See here, Ezry Gardner, I 've led the laugh 
ag'in ye hunderds o' times, an' like ez not 
I will ag'in, there 's no tellin' — ye can't 
Tarn an old dorg noo tricks; but wut I 
want ye to olluz rickerlect is jes' this : thet 



162 The Victory of E^ty Gardner. 

I 'm proud o' ye, thet we 're all proud o' ye, 
an' we 're dowuright glad thet ye 're standin' 
here ware we kin tell ye so. Ain't thet the 
truth, mates? Ain't I jes' Vicin' the gennle 
f eelin's ? " 

A little murmur of assent filled in the 
pause. Gardner looked shyly at the 
others as he wrung Starr's hand. He felt 
his cup full to overflowing — they were all 
so kind, but he had no words with which 
to thank them. He struggled with his 
bashfulness. 

" Yes, we 're powerful proud o* ye, an' no 
mistake," another neighbor cried, pressing 
forward eagerly. * * Ye 're wut I call a hero . " 

Gardner shrank closer against Baby's 
shoulder, a quick flush crimsoning his face. 
At last the time had come when he must 
stand revealed in his true colors to the 
home-people. His better nature bade him 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 163 

speak without delay, A choking sensation 
rose in his throat, his hand trembled in 
Baby's mane as he tried to articulate some 
sound. And yet what was it the stranger 
had said? The words came to his mind in 
a sudden flash — *' There is no need for any 
to know " — and again — *' Forget it all." 

Forget it all! How could he? How 
dared he? Had he any right to forget? 
It was not true, then, that the victory he had 
won out there in the waters had washed the 
stain of former cowardice from his soul. 
It was still there — so dark and hideous 
that it would dim forever the bright bit of 
genuine courage that had carried him to the 
professor's rescue. That ought to count 
for something, the old man told himself; 
the stranger had said it was brave, his 
neighbors thought it was brave. Ah! it 
was too cruel, when they had met to honor 



164 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

him, that he must turn aside their friendly 
overtures, converting them into scorn. It 
was so sweet to have them crowding 
around with words of praise. Surely he 
deserved them a little — just a little ; those 
dark times were over and gone years and 
years ago. He raised his head slowly, all 
the color had faded out of his face, even 
his Hps were ashy. 

*' Ye're wrong, mates," he faltered. *'I 
ain't no hero. I wuz a coward in war- 
time. I wuz afeard o' goin' at fust, an* 
w'en I went I wuz jes' choked up with 
fear through ev'rythin*. Thet's all there 
is to say. I saved the perfesser's life — 
willin'ly ye know — willin'ly — but I — 
ain't — no — hero." 

The little room was very still after the 
tremulous voice ceased speaking — so still 
that it seemed to Gardner that every one 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 165 

present must hear his rapid heart-beats 
and the bounding pulse hammering for 
egress at his wrists and temples. He kept 
his eyes fixed on the floor. He could not 
watch the contempt grow on the faces 
about him ; he could not bear to see how 
the neighbors would file away one by one 
— Starr, Coleman, Greene, and the others. 

It was very still. Baby moved rest- 
lessly, but aside from that there was no 
sound. The silence seemed interminable 
to Gardner — he could bear it no longer. 
He raised his eyes and saw the group of 
men and women still standing there look- 
ing at him, not contemptuously, not 
pityingly — but kindly, proudly. 

"I don't keer 'bout them ol' times," 
Starr cried with vehemence. " Ye say ye 
wuz a coward then, but I don't agree 
with ye. A coward would n't ever think 



166 The Victory of E^ry Gardmr. 

o' his self ez sech, an' wut 's more, ef 
he did he would n't let on. Human 
nater is weak an' onsartin ez a rool, 
but it's full o' pride, an' it keeps some 
truths precious close. I'm olluz observin' 
an* thet *s be'n the outcome o' wut I 've 
seed. S'pose ye did feel trembly w'en 
the cannons wuz roarin' ? I felt the same 
myself — it jes' sent col* shivers the hull 
length o' my backbone. Ye 're a he-ro, 
Ezry Gardner, an' I don't b'lieve George 
Washington hisself wuz a gre'ter one." 

"They're talkin' 'bout ye all over the 
Island," Mrs. Starr interrupted delight- 
edly. "They telephoned into town 'bout 
the rescue, an* fer all it looks ez ef it 
would pour down ev'ry minute, lots o' 
folks have driven over, an* all this arter- 
noon they've be'n goin' through the street 
jes' to see ware ye live. An' Mis' 




The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 167 

Lovicy Bascom sez ye 've inspired her to 
write some po'try ; she 's gone to work 
at it now. Like ez not she'll git it 
finished by bedtime; her idees come ez 
quick ez chain-lightin'. I shouldn't won- 
der ef she writ twenty varses 'bout ye 
savin* the perfesser. She writ fourteen 
on Zechariah Clisby's conversion. An* 
she sez herself this is a gre't occasion. 
The po'try'll be in the *Evenin' Star,* 
sure, an' ye must n't fergit to cut it out, 
an' paste it in yer Bible. I '11 make ye 
some flour paste." 

" Up to the hotel the folks air keen 
to see ye," another woman chimed in as 
Mrs. Starr paused for lack of breath. 
" There 's a noospaper man there an' 
he wants yer picter. Hain't ye ever hed 
one taken? Deary me, how sing'ler! 
Ye '11 hev to set right away. Dawes *11 



168 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

take a fust-rate one ; he olluz makes folks 
look so agreeable an' smilin'; he tells 
a heap o' funny stories to kinder keep their 
courage up. The noospaper man is 
goin' to write a story 'bout ye an* send 
it to Borston an' Noo York. I should n't 
wonder ef he said 'please copy,' so 
the other papers all over the world would 
print it. An' I do b'lieve the Queen of 
England will read it on her throne." 

"I 've brung ye some opodeldoc lotion 
fer yer j'ints, Ezry," Phoebe Macy said 
softly as she elbowed her way up to 
Gardner with her offering. " It '11 limber 
ye up pretty smart." 

"An' I thought mebbe ye wouldn't 
feel like gittin' a meal fer yerself to- 
night," cried Mrs. Starr again, " so I jes* 
left a pie an* some b'iled beans in the 
kitchin — yell be sure to like 'em." 




The Victory of E{ry Gardner. 169 

Gardner gazed at the friendly faces 
in dumb amazement, he hardly compre- 
hended the words of kindness on every 
side. Only one thing was clear — they, 
knowing all, did not shun him. Never 
any more would that old, pitiful secret 
torment him with a multitude of vague 
fears. He had no secret. He had taken 
his little world into his confidence and 
his neighbors were his friends. They 
had met beneath his roof to honor him. 
What were queens on their thrones to 
this sovereignty of love near at hand? 
What were the praises from unknown 
lips, even though they were numbered 
by the thousands in those places where 
his story should be read, compared to 
this little measure of approval and good- 
will from those who knew him best? 

He had never experienced such hap- 




170 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

piness. He was full of self-abasement 
and mindful of his shortcomings, but 
he was strangely exalted at the same 
time by the applause his neighbors be- 
stowed. No touch of ignoble pride, 
however, marred the peace that filled 
his being; the pride he felt was full of 
gratitude for the strength that had been 
given him to meet the occasion. His 
humility was his safeguard. He did not 
move from his place, but leant closer 
against his faithful friend He was 
trembling with excitement and he felt 
stronger by her side; she seemed to 
share his honors, too, by her proximity. 
The hum of conversation went on; the 
room was full of laughter that even in 
its heartiness had an undercurrent of 
sadness, as though the people, in the 
midst of their rejoicing, realized continu- 



V 



The Victory of ET^y Gardner. 171 

ally the danger which had threatened their 
comrade. There was something tremu- 
lous and hysterical in the little meeting; 
the pent-up feelings could not find a 
ready outlet, and trivialities crept to the 
surface, while the deeper emotions lay unex- 
pressed. Suddenly, from without, there 
came the sound of a child's voice raised 
in entreaty. 

' ' Let me in — I want to see Gardner — 
let me in, I say, he saved my father's 
life." 

The crowd at the door parted to allow 
the boy to enter. He was a sturdy little 
fellow — about eight years of age — with a 
frank, fearless face which still bore traces 
of recent tears. He ran up to the old man 
and held out his hand. 

'' I guess you and Baby know me," he 
said confidently. " We 're not what any one 




172 The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 

would call strangers, and I Ve always 
thought you a tip-top man, but now I think 
you 're far and away the nicest person I 
ever met — and the bravest. My father 
says " — he interrupted himself with a shiver 
and drew the back of his hand across his 
eyes ; for a few moments he was silent, 
then he went on eagerly — ''I can't ever 
thank you, and mother can't, and father 
can't, but you '11 be sure we do deep down in 
our hearts, even if we don't find the words 
to say it. I 'm glad to know you, sir, and 
Baby, too, — she 's the dearest horse in the 
whole world — I '11 — I '11 — never forget 
you. I never knew a real hero before." 

The tears brimmed over Gardner's eyes 
and ran down his cheeks, but he made no 
effort to brush them away. He took the 
child's hands in both of his. 

"Tell yer father I wnz glad to do it," 



The Victory of E^ry Gardner. 173 

he whispered. *'I'm powerful glad an' 
thankful to hev brung him back." 

The next moment the boy threw his arms 
around the old, bowed figure and pressed 
his cheek against the worn, white face, then, 
half-ashamed of his demonstrativeness, he 
darted away through the open door. Once 
outside, he turned and shouted in a voice 
that could be heard the length and breadth 
of Cliff street : 

" Hurrah for Ezry Gardner 1 Let 's give 
him three cheers and a tiger." 



THE NEW YORK PUBUC LIBRARY 
RBFBRBNGB DBPARTMBNT 



This book is under no oironmttanoes to be 
taken from the Buildintf 



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