* . . * . . ^ * * J , , , ,
NY PUBLIC LIBRARY THE BRANCH L BRARIES
3 3333 08075 0769
BY LOUISA M. ALCOTT,
AUTHOR OF "LITTLE WOMEN," "AN OLD-FASHIONED GIRL," "LITTLE MEN,
" EIGHT COUSINS," " WORK," " HOSPITAL SKELCHES," ETC.
. ' ' ,
., .JI*Mi."> L,/fi \ " %,'- r **- ' ivT* J rif .
LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY,
BY LOUISA M. ALCOTT.
B3E T^HM &r-R-ALCOT-T.-
A$IQR LENOX AN0
., . .. '
UNIVERSITY PRESS: JOHN WILSON & SON,
CAMBRIDGE, U. S. A.
SILVER PITCHERS 1
ANNA'S WHIM 47
TRANSCENDENTAL WILD OATS 79
THE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAY 102
MY Rococo WATCH ^ , r >. . . 136
n f, >'.,/)!>
BY THE RIVER . 0^. .',;;,,'. V ">/.'/ V 'j . . 149
LETTY'S TRAMP . . ; \, ; .'.-,;>-. *' 177
* " ' ' " ' -* *>'
SCARLET STOCKINGS . '. 7 ,' .> <' r , :i . . . 205
,i ' . i i ' i >
O > * ' ,. 1 < ' 1
INDKPENDENCE : A CENTE;] MT A L LOVE, STORY . . 237
..' J, e ;
HOW IT BEGAN.
* J/T/'E can do nothing about it except show our
displeasure in some proper manner," said
Portia, in her most dignified tone.
" I should like to cut them all dead for a year to
come ; and I'm not sure that I won't ! " cried Pauline,
" We ought to make it impossible for such a thing
to happen again, and I think we iT&ig&tfi added Pris-
cilla, so decidedly 1-l^t th'o otaerg looli'ecl' v ;Et > her in sur-
, J 9 '
The three friends sa't : by t'ke' fir& " talking things
over," as girls love to do. Pretty cr^utirr^s, all of them,
as they nestled together on", MIS ''loVng'e in dressing-
gowns and slippers, with unbound hair, eyes still bright
with excitement, and tongues that still wagged briskly.
Usually the chat was of dresses, compliments, and
all the little adventures that befall gay girls at a merry-
making. But to-night something of uncommon inter-
est absorbed the three, and kept them talking earnestly
long after they should have been asleep.
Handsome Portia looked out from her blonde locks
with a disgusted expression, as she sipped the chocolate
2 SILVER PITCHERS.
thoughtful mamma had left inside the fender. Rosy-
faced Pauline sat staring indignantly at the fire ; while
in gentle Priscilla's soft eyes the shadow of a real sor-
row seemed to mingle with the light of a strong deter-
Yes, something had happened at this Thanksgiving
festival which much offended the three friends, and de-
manded grave consideration on their part ; for the
" Sweet P's," as Portia, Pris, and Polly were called,
were the belles of the town. One ruled by right of
beauty and position, one by the power of a character
so sweet and strong that its influence was widely felt,
and one by the wit and winsomeness of a high yet
It had been an unusually pleasant evening, for after
the quilting bee in the afternoon good Squire Allen
had given a bountiful supper, and all the young folks
of the towii- -h,a$ .joined ,in the old-fashioned games,
' . - ' ' . '**
which mad,e* tjie KQ^. ring,; with, icearty merriment.
All would have- gone well if 'gOme one had not pri-
vately introduced ." gonteii|ing; -stronger than the cider
provided by the. Squire./ -, a mysterious and potent
something, whi.tjh. (j,'a4sfed [."several of the young men to
betray that they were decidedly the worse for their
That was serious enough ; but the crowning iniquity
was the putting of brandy into the coffee, which it wag
considered decorous for the young girls to prefer instead
Who the reprobates were remained a dead secret, fo:
the young men laughed off the dreadful deed as a joke
and the Squire apologized in the handsomest manner.
HOW IT BEGAN. 3
i3ut the girls felt much aggrieved and would not be
Appeased, though the elders indulgently said, " Young
men will be young men," even while they shook their
heads over the pranks played and the nonsense spoken
under the influence of the wine that had been so slyly
Now what should be done about it ? The " Sweet
P's " knew that their mates would look to them for guid-
ance at this crisis, for they were the leaders in all things.
So they must decide on some line of conduct for all to
adopt, as the best way of showing their disapproval of
such practical jokes.
When Pris spoke, the others looked at her with sur-
prise ; for there was a new expression in her face, and
both asked woncleringly, " How ? "
" There are several ways, and we must decide which
is the best. One is to refuse invitations to the sociable
"But I've just got a lovely new dress expressly for
it ! " cried Portia, tragically.
"Then we might decline providing any supper," be-
" That wouldn't prevent the boys from providing it,
and I never could get through the night without a
morsel of something ! " exclaimed Polly, who loved to
Bee devoted beings bending before her, with offerings
of ice, or struggling manfully to steer a glass of lemon-
ade through a tumultuous sea of silk and broadcloth,
feeling well repaid by a word or smile from her when
they landed safely.
"True, and it would be rather rude and resentful;
for I am sure they will be models of deportment next
4 SILVER PITCHERS.
time," and gentle Pris showed signs of relenting, though
that foolish joke had cost her more than either of the
For a moment all sat gazing thoughtfully at the fire,
trying to devise some awful retribution for the sinners,
no part of which should fall upon themselves. Sud-
denly Polly clapped her hands, crying with a trium-
" I've got it, girls ! I've got it ! "
What ? How ? Tell us quick ! "
"We will refuse to go to the first sociable, and that
will make a tremendous impression, for half the nice
girls will follow our lead, and the boys will be in de-
spair. Every one will ask why we are not there ; and
what can those poor wretcLes say but the truth ? Won't
that be a bitter pill for my lords and gentlemen ? "
" It will certainly be one to us," said Portia, thinking
of the " heavenly blue dress " with a pang.
" Wait a bit ; our turn will come at the next sociable.
To this we can go with escorts of our own choosing, or
none at all, for they are free and easy affairs, you know.
So we need be under no obligation to any of those
sinners, and can trample upon them as much as we
" But how about the games, the walks home, and all
the pleasant little services the young men of our set
like to offer and we to receive ? " asked Portia, who had
grown up with these " boys," as Polly called them, and
found it hard to turn her back on the playmates who
had now become friends or lovers.
" Bless me ! I forgot that the feud might last more
than on<3 evening. Give me an idea, Pris," and Polly's
triumph ended suddenly.
HOW IT BEGAN. 5
" I will," answered Pris, soberly ; " for at this in-
formal sociable we can institute a new order of things.
It will make a talk, but I think we have a right to dc
it, and I'm sure it will have a good effect, if we only
hold out, and don't mind being laughed at. Let us
refuse to associate with the young men whom we know
to be what is called ' gay,' and accept as friends those
of whose good habits we are sure. If they complain,
as of course they will, we can say their own miscon-
duct made it necessary, and there we have them."
" But, Pris, who ever heard of such an idea ? People
will say all sorts of things about us!" said Portia,
rather startled at the proposition.
"Let them! I say it's a grand plan, and I'll stand
by you, Pris, through thick and thin ! " cried Polly,
who enjoyed the revolutionary spirit of the thing.
" We can but try it, and give the young men a lesson ;
for, girls, matters are coming to a pass, when it is our
duty to do something. I cannot think it is right for ua
to sit silent and see these fine fellows getting into bad
habits because no one dares or cares to speak out,
though we gossip and complain in private."
" Do you want us to begin a crusade ? " asked Portia,
" Yes, in the only way we girls can do it. We can't
preach and pray in streets and bar-rooms, but we may
at home, and in our own little world show that we want
to use our influence for good. I know that you two
can do any thing you choose with the young people in
this town, and it is just that set who most need the sort
of help you can give, if you will."
" You have more influence than both of us put to
6 SILVER PITCHERS.
gether ; so don't bo modest. Pris, but toll us what to do,
and I'll do it. even it' I'm hooted at," cried, warm-hearted
Polly, won at once.
"You must do as you think right; but / have made
up my mind to protest against wine-drinking in every
way 1 can. I know it will cost me much, tor I have
nothing to depend upon but the good opinion of my
friends; nevertheless, I shall do what seems my duty,
and I mav be able to save some other ^irl from the
heart-aches I have known."
You won't lose our good opinion, you dear little
saint ! Just tell us how to begin and we will follow our
leader," cried both Portia and Polly, tired with emula-
tion by their friend's quiet resolution.
Pris looked from ;me to the other, and, seeing real
love and confidence in their faces, was moved to deepen
the impression she had made, by telling them the sad
secret of her life. Pressing her hands tightly together,
and drooping her head, she answered in words that were
the more pathetic for their brevity.
"Pear girls, don't think me rash or sentimental, for
I know what I am trying to do, and you will under-
stand my earnestness better when I tell you that a ter-
rible experience taught me to dread this appetite more
than death. It killed my father, broke mother's heart,
and left me all alone."
As she paused, poor Pris hid her face and shrank
awav, as if bv this confession she had forfeited her place
in the respect of her mates. But the girlish hearts
only clung the closer to her, and proved the sincerity
of their atlection by sympathetic tears and tender words,
as Portia and Polly held her fast, making a prettier
HOW IT 7;/;'/,LV. 7
group than the marble nymphs on the mantelpiece;
for the Christian graces quite outdid the heathen ones.
I'olly spoke first, and spoke cheerfully, feeling, with
the in.-tirict of a fine nature, that Priscilla's grief waa
too sacred to be talked about, and that they could best
show their appreciation of her confidence by proving
themselves ready to save others from a sorrow like
" Let us be a little society of three, and do what we
can. I shall begin at home, and watch over brother
Ned ; for lately he has been growing away from me.
iomehow, and I'm afraid he is beginning to be 'gay.'
I shall get teased unmercifully ; but I won't mind if 1
keep him safe."
" I have no one at home to watch over but papa, and
he is in no danger, of course ; so I shall show Charley
Lord that I am not pleased with him," said Portia, little
dreaming where her work was to be done.
" And you will set about reforming that delightful
scapegrace, Phil Butler?" added Polly, peeping archly
into the still drooping face of Pris.
" I have lost my right to do it, for I told him to-night
that love and respect must go together in my heart,"
and Pris wiped her wet eyes with a hand that no longer
wore a ring.
Portia and Polly looked at one another in dismay,
for by this act Pris proved how thoroughly in earnest
Neither Lad any words of comfort for so great a
trouble, and sat silently caressing her, till Pris looked
up, with her own serene smile again, and said, as if to
change, the current of their thoughts,
8 SILVER PITCHERS.
* We must have a badge for the members of our new
society, so let us each wear one of these tiny silver
pitchers. I've lost the mate to mine, but Portia has a
pair just like them. You can divide, then we are all
Portia ran to her jewel-case, caught up a pair of
delicate filigree ear-rings, hastily divided a narrow velvet
ribbon into three parts, attached to each a silver pitcher,
and, as the friends smilingly put on these badges, they
pledged their loyalty to the new league by a silent
A DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
GREAT was the astonishment of their " set" when it
was known that the " Sweet P's" had refused all in-
vitations to the opening sociable.
The young men were in despair, the gossips talked
themselves hoarse discussing the affair, and the girls
exulted ; for, as Polly predicted, the effect of their first
step was " tremendous."
When the evening came, however, by one accord
they met in Portia's room, to support each other
through that trying period. They affected to be quite
firm and cheerful ; but one after the other broke down,
and sadly confessed that the sacrifice to principle was
harder than they expected. What added to thei?
A DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
anguish was the fact that the Judge's house stood just
opposite the town-hall, and every attempt to keep away
from certain windows proved a dead failure.
" It is so trying to see those girls go in with their
dresses bundled up, and not even know what they
wear," mourned Portia, watching shrouded figures trip
up the steps that led to the paradise from which she
had exiled herself.
" They must be having a capital time, for every one
seems to have gone. I wonder who Phil took," sighed
Pris, when at length the carriages ceased to roll.
" Girls ! I wish to be true to my vow, but if you don't
hold me I shall certainly rush over there and join in
the fun, for that music is too much for me," cried Polly,
desperately, as the singing began.
It was an endless evening to the three pretty pioneers,
though they went early to bed, and heroically tried to
sleep with that distracting music in their ears. Slumber
came at last, but as the clocks were striking twelve a
little ghost emerged from Portia's room, and gliding
to the hall window vanished among the heavy damask
Presently another little ghost appeared from the same
quarter, and stealing softly to the same window was
about to vanish in the same capacious draperies, when
a stifled cry was heard, and Portia, the second sprite,
exclaimed in an astonished whisper,
" Why, Pris, are you here, too ? I saw Poljy creep
away from me, and came to take her back. How dare
you go wandering about and startling me out of my
wits in this way ? "
"I was only looking to see if it was all over,' 1
10 SILVER PITCHERS.
quavered Pris, meekly, emerging from the right-hand
" So was I ! ; laughed Polly, bouncing out from the
There was a sound of soft merriment in that shadowy
hall for a moment, and then the spirits took a look at
the world outside, for the moon was shining brightly.
Yes, the fun was evidently over, for the lamps were
being extinguished, and several young men stood on
the steps exchanging last words. One wore a cloak
theatrically thrown over the shoulder, and Polly knew
him at once.
" That's Ned ! I must hear what they are saying.
Keep quiet and I'll listen," she whispered, rolling her-
self in the dark folds of the curtain and opening the
window a crack, so that a frosty breeze could blow
freely into her left ear.
" You'll get your death," murmured Portia, shivering
in her quilted wrapper.
" O, never mind!' : cried Pris, who recognized the
tallest man in the group, and was wild to catch a word
from " poor Phil."
" They think they've done a fine thing ; but, bless
their little hearts, we'll show that we can do without
them by not asking them to the next sociable, or taking
notice of them if they go. That will bring them round
without fail," said one masculine voice, with a jolly
" Many thanks for letting us know your plots, Mr.
Lord. Now we can arrange a nice little surprise for
you" and Portia made a scornful courtesy in the dark.
" Faith ! I don't blame the girls much, for that was
A DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. 11
a confoundedly ungentlemanly trick of yours, and I'll
thank you not to lay any of the blame of it on me ; I've
got as much as I can carry without that," said the tall
figure, stalking away alone.
" I'm so glad to know that Phil had nothing to do
with it ! " breathed Pris, gratefully.
" Come on, Charley ! I must get home as soon a
possible, or Polly will be down on me, for she has
taken a new tack lately, and holds forth on the error
of my ways like a granny."
" Won't 1 give Ned an extra lecture fbr that speech,
the rascal ! " and Polly shook a small fist at him as her
brother passed under the window, blissfully unconscious
of the avenging angels up aloft.
"'Tis well; let us away and take sweet counsel how
we may annihilate them," added Polly, melodramati-
cally, as the three ghosts vanished from the glimpses of
Every one turned out to the sociables, for they were
town affairs, and early hours, simple suppers, and games
of all sorts, made it possible for old and young to enjoy
On the night of the second one there was a goodly
gathering, for the public rebuke administered to the
young men had made a stir, and everybody was cuiioua
to see what the consequences would be when the
There was a sensation, therefore, when a whisper
went round that the " Sweet P's " had come, and a
general smile of wonder and amusement appeared when
the girls entered, Portia on the arm of her father, Polly
gallantly escorted by her twelve-year-old brother "Will,
12 SILVER PITCHERS.
and Pris beside Belinda Chamberlain, whose five feel
seven made her a capital cavalier.
" Outwitted ! " laughed Charley Lord, taking the
joke at once as he saw Portia's gray-headed squire.
" I knew Polly was plotting mischief, she has been
so quiet lately," muttered Ned, eying his little brother
with lofty scorn.
Phil said nothing, but he gave a sigh of relief on
seeing that Pris had chosen an escort of whom it was
impossible to be jealous.
The Judge seldom honored these gatherings, but
Portia ruled papa, and when she explained the peculiar
state of things, he had heroically left his easy chair to
cast himself into the breach.
Master Will was in high feather at his sudden pro-
motion, and bore himself gallantly, though almost as
much absorbed by his wristbands as Mr. Toots ; for
Polly had got him up regardless of expense, with a
gay tie, new gloves, and, O, crowning splendor ! a red
carnation in his button-hole.
Buxom Belinda was delighted with the chance to
play cavalier, and so get her fair share of all the fun
going, for usually she stood in a corner smiling at an
unappreciative world, like a patient sunflower.
The faces of the young men were a study as the
games began, and the three girls joined in them with
the partners they had chosen.
" The Judge is evidently on his mettle, but he can't
stand that sort of thing long, even to please Portia;
and then hei Majesty will have to give in, or condescend
to some one out of our set," thought Charley Lord, long
ing already to be taken into favor again.
A DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. 13
" Polly will have to come and ask me to lead, if she
wants to sing her favorite songs ; for I'll be hanged if I
do it till she has humbled herself by asking," said Ned,
feelinp- sure that his sister would soon relent.
" If it was any one but Belinda, I don't think I
could stand it," exclaimed Phil, as he watched his
lost sweetheart with wistful eyes ; for, though he sub-
mitted to the sentence which he knew he deserved, he
could not relinquish so much excellence without deep
But the young men underrated the spirit of the girls,
and overrated their own strength. The " Sweet P's"
went on enjoying themselves, apparently quite indiffer-
ent to the neglect of their once devoted friends. But
to the outcasts it was perfectly maddening to see
stately Portia promenading with stout Major Quacken-
boss, who put his best foot foremost with the air of a
conquering hero ; also to behold sweet Pris playing
games with her little pupils in a way that filled their
small souls with rapture. But the most aggravating
spectacle of all was captivating Polly, chatting gayly
with young Farmer Brown, who was evidently losing
both head and heart in the light of her smiles.
" It's no use, boys ; I must have one turn with Portia,
and you may hang me for a traitor immediately after-
ward," cried Charley at last, recklessly casting both
pride and promise to the winds.
" (), very well ; if you are going to give in, we may
as well all eat humble pie * together,' " and Ned imitated
his weak-minded friend, glad of an excuse to claim the
leadership of the little choir wto led off the weekly
t; si ng."
14 SILVER PITCHERS.
Phil dared not follow their example as far as Pria
was concerned, but made his most elegant bow to
Belinda, and begged to have the honor of seeing her
home. His chagrin may be imagined when the lofty
wall-flower replied, with a significant emphasis that
made his face burn,
" No, thank you. I need a very steady escort, for I
shouldn't take a fall into a snow-bank as lightly as Pria
did not longr ago."
Charley met with a like fate at Portia's hands, foi
she outraged established etiquette by coldly declin-
ing his meek invitation to promenade, and two minutes
later graciously accepting that of an unfashionable
young man, who was known to belong to a temperance
But Ned's repulse was the most crushing of all, tor
in reply to his condescending hint,
" I suppose people won't be satisfied unless we give
them our favorites, hey, Polly?" he received a verbal
box on the ear in the sharp answer,
" We don't want yow, for I intend to lead myself,
and introduce a new set of songs which won't be at all
to your taste."
Then, to his utter amazement and confusion, Miss
Polly began to sing one of the good old temperance
songs, the burden whereof was,
"0, that will be joyful, joyful, joyful,
O, that will be joyful,
When young men drink no more ! "
It was taken up all over the hall, and the chorus
rang out with an energy that caused sundry youn
A DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. 15
men to turn red and dodge behind any capacious back
they could find", for every one understood Polly's motive,
and looked approvingly upon her as she stood singing,
with an occasional quiver in the voice that usually was
as clear and sweet as a blackbird's.
This unexpected manoeuvre on the part of the fair
enemy produced direful perplexity and dismay in the
opposing camp, whither the discomfited trio fled with
tidings of their defeat. None of them dared try again
in that quarter, but endeavored to console themselves
by flirting wildly with such girls as still remained avail-
able, for, sad to relate, many of the most eligible took
courage and followed the example of the " Sweet P's."
This fact cast added gloom over the hapless gentlemen
of the offending set, and caused them to fear that a
social revolution would follow what they had con-
sidered merely a girlish freak.
" Shouldn't wonder if they got up a praying-band
after this," groaned Ned, preparing himself for the
" Portia had better lead off", then, for the first time
I indulged too freely in the ' rosy ' was at her father's
house," added Charley, laying all the blame of his ex-
pulsion from Eden upon Eve, like a true Adam.
"Look here, boys, we ought to thank, not blame
them, for they want to help us, I'm sure, and some of
us need help, God knows ! " sighed Phil, with a look
and tone that made his comrades forget their pique in
sudden self-reproach; for not one of them could deny
his words, or help feeling that the prayers of such inno*
rent souls would avail much.
16 SILVER PITCHERS.
WHAT PORTIA DID.
" I KNOW your head aches, mamma, so lie here and
rest while I sit in my little chair and amuse you till
papa comes in."
As Portia bent to arrange the sofa-cushions com-
fort ably, the tiny silver pitcher hanging at her neck
swung forward and caught her mother's eye.
"Is it the latest fashion to wear odd ear-rings instead
of lockets ? " she asked, touching the delicate trinket
with an amused smile.
" No, mamma, it is something better than a fashion ;
it is the badge of a temperance league that Pris, Polly,
and I have lately made," answered Portia, wondering
how her mother would take it.
" Dear little girls ! God bless and help you in your
good work ! " was the quick reply, that both surprised
and touched her by its fervency.
" Then you don't mind, or think us silly to try and
do even a very little towards curing this great evil ? "
she asked, with a sweet seriousness that was new and
most becoming to her.
" My child, I feel as if it was a special providence,*
began her mother, then checked herself and added
more quietly, " Tell me all about this league, dear,
unless it is a secret."
" I have no secrets from you, mother," and nestling
into her low chair Portia told her story, ending with
WHAT PORTIA DID. 17
an earnestness that showed how much she had the new
plan at heart.
" So you see Polly is trying to keep Ned safe, and
Pris prays for Phil ; not in vain, I think, for he has
Leen very good lately, they tell me. But I have
neither brother nor lover to help, and I cannot go out
to find any one, because I am only a girl. Now what
can I do, mamma, for I truly want to do my share ? "
The mother lay silent for a moment, then, as if yield-
ing to an irresistible impulse, drew her daughter
nearer, and whispered with lips that trembled as they
" You can help your father, dear."
" Mamma, what can you mean ? " cried Portia, in a
tone of indignant surprise.
" Listen patiently, child, or I shall regret that your
confidence inspired me with courage to give you mine.
Never think for one moment that I accuse my husband
of any thing like drunkenness. He has always taken
his wine like a gentleman, and never more than was
good for him till of late. For this there are many
excuses ; he is growing old, his life is less active than
it was, many of the pleasures he once enjoyed fail now,
and he has fallen into ways that harm his health."
"I know, mamma; he doesn't care for company as
he used to, or business, either, but seems quite con-
tented to sit among his papers half the morning, and
doze over the fire half the evening. I've wondered at
it, for he is not really old, and looks as hale and hand-
some as ever," said Portia, feeling that something hov-
ered on her mother's lips which she found it hard tc
18 SILVER PITCHERS.
"You are right; it is not age alone that makes him
BO unlike his once cheerful, active self; it is bend
lower, dear, and never breathe to any one what I tell you
now, only that you may help me save your father's life,
Startled by the almost solemn earnestness of these
words, Portia laid her head upon the pillow, and twi-
light wrapt the room in its soft gloom, as if to shut out
all the world, while the mother told the daughter the
ianger that threatened him whom they both so loved
'Papa has fallen into the way of taking more wine
after dinner than is good for him. He does not know
how the habit is growing upon him, and is hurt if 1
hint at such a thing. But Dr. Hall warned me of the
danger after papa's last ill turn, saying that at his age
and with his temperament apoplexy would be sure to
follow over-indulo;ence of this sort."
" O mamma, what can I do ? " whispered Portia,
with a thrill, as the words of Pris returned to her with
sudden force, "It killed my father, broke mother's
heart, and left me all alone."
" Watch over him, dear, amuse him as you only can,
and wean him from this unsuspected harm by all the
innocent arts your daughterly love can devise. I have
kept this to myself, because it is hard for a wife to sec
any fault in her husband ; still harder for her to speak
of it even to so good a child as mine. But my anxiety
unfits me to do all I might, so I need help ; and oi
whom can I ask it but of you ? My darling, make a
little league with mother, and let us watch and pray
in secret for this dear man whc is all in all to us."
WHAT PORTIA DID. 19
What Portia answered, what comfort she gave, and
what further confidences she received, may not be told,
for this household covenant was too sacred for report.
No visible badge was assumed, no audible vow taken,
but in the wife's face, as it smiled on her husband that
night, there was a tenderer light than ever, and the
kiss that welcomed papa was the seal upon a purpose
as strong; as the daughter's love.
Usually the ladies left the Judge to read his paper
and take his wine in the old-fashioned way, while they
had coffee in the drawing-room. As they rose, Portia
saw the shadow fall upon her mother's face, which she
had often seen before, but never understood till now ;
for this was the dangerous hour, this the moment when
the child must stand between temptation and her
father, if she could.
That evening, very soon after the servant had
cleared the table of all but the decanters, a fresh young
voice singing blithely in the parlor made the Judge
put down his glass to listen in pleased surprise.
Presently he stepped across the hall to set both
doors open, saying, in a half reproachful tone,
" Sing away, my lark, and let papa hear you, for lie
seldom gets a chance now-a-days."
"Then he must stay and applaud me, else I shall
think that speech only an empty compliment," answered
Portia, as she beckoned with her most winsome smile.
The Judge never dreamed that his good angel spoke ;
but lie saw his handsome girl beaming at him from the
music stool, and strolled in, meaning to go back when
the song ended.
But the blue charmer in the parlor proved more
20 SILVER PITCHERS.
potent than the red one in the dining-room, ami he
sat on, placidly sipping the excellent coffee, artfully
supplied by his wife, quite unconscious of the little plot
to rob him of the harmful indulgence which too often
made his evenings a blank, and his mornings a vain
attempt to revive the spirits that once kept increasiDg
years from seeming burdensome.
That was the beginning of Portia's home mission ;
and from that hour she devoted herself to it, thinking
of no reward, for such " secret service " could receive
neither public sympathy nor praise.
It was not an easy task, as she soon found, in spite
of the stanch and skilful ally who planned the attacks
she dutifully made upon the enemy threatening their
When music ceased to have charms, and the Judge
declared he must get his " forty winks " after dinner,
Portia boldly declared that she would stay and see that
he had them comfortably. So papa laughed and sub-
mitted, took a brief nap, and woke in such good-humor
that he made no complaint on finding the daughter
replacing the decanter.
This answered for a while ; and when its effacacy
seemed about to fail, unexpected help appeared ; for
mamma's eyes began to trouble her, and Portia pro-
posed that her father should entertain the invalid in
the evening, while she served her through the day.
This plan worked capitally, for the Judge loved hia
good wife almost as much as she deserved, and devoted
himself to her so faithfully that the effort proved a bet-
ter stimulant than any his well-stocked cellar coul 1
WHAT PORTIA DID. 21
Dr. Hall prescribed exercise and cheerful society foi
his new patient, and in seeing that these instructions
were obeyed the Judge got the benefit of them, and
found no time for solitary wine-bibbing.
" I do believe I 'm growing young again, for the old
dulness is quite gone, and all this work and play does
not seem to tire me a bit," he said, after an unusually
lively evening with the congenial guests Portia took
care to bring about him.
" But it must be very stupid for you, my dear, as we
old folks have all the fun. Why don't you invite the
young people here oftener?" he added, as his eye fell
on Portia, gazing thoughtfully into the fire.
" I wish I dared tell you why," she answered wist-
" Afraid of your old papa ? r and he looked both
burprised and grieved.
" I won't be, for you are the kindest father that ever
a girl had, and I know you'll help me, as you always
do, papa. I don't dare ask my young friends here
because I'm not willing to expose some of them to
temptation," began Portia, bravely.
" What temptation ? This ? " asked her father, turn-
ing her half-averted face to the light, with a smile full
of paternal pride.
" No, sir ; a far more dangerous one than ever I
"Then I should like to see it!" and the old gentle-
man looked about him for this rival of his lovely
" It is these," she said, pointing to the bottles and
glasses on the sideboard.
22 SILVER PITCHERS.
The Judge understood her then, and knit his brows
but before he could reply Portia went steadily
though her cheeks burned, and her eyes were bent
upon the fire again.
"Father, I belong to a society of three, and we h^ve
promised to do all we can for temperance. As yet I
can only show bravely the faith that is in me ; there-
fore I can never offer any friend of mine a drop of wine,
and so I do not ask them here, where it would seem
most uncourteous to refuse."
" I trust no gentleman ever had cause to reproach
me for the hospitality I was taught to show my guests,"
began the Judge, in his most stately manner.
But he got no further, for a soft hand touched his
lips, and Portia answered sorrowfully,
" One man has, sir ; Charley Lord says the first time
he took too much was in this house, and it has grieved
me to the heart, for it is true. O papa, never let any
one have the right to say that again of us ! Forgive
me if I seem undutiful, but I must speak out, for I
want my dear father to stand on my side, and set an
example which will make me even fonder and prouder
of him than I am now."
As Portia paused, half frightened at her own frank-
ness, she put her arms about his neck, and hid her face
on his breast, still pleading her cause with the silent
eloquence so hard to resist.
The Judge made no reply for several minutes, and
in that pause many thoughts passed through his mind,
and a vague suspicion that had haunted him of late
became a firm conviction. For suddenly he seemed to
see his own weakness in its true light, to understand
WHAT POLLY DID.
the meaning of the watchful love, the patient care that
had so silently and helpfully surrounded him ; and in
Portia's appeal for younger men, he read a tender
warning to himself.
He was a proud man, but a very just one; and
though a flush of anger swept across his face at first, he
acknowledged the truth of the words that were so hard
With his hand laid fondly on the head that was half-
hidden, lest a look should seem to reproach him, this
brave old gentleman proved that he loved his neighbor
better than himself, and honestly confessed his own
" No man shall ever say again that I tempted him."
Then as Portia lifted up a happy face, he looked
straight into the grateful eyes that dimmed with sud-
den tears, and added tenderly,
" My daughter, I am not too proud to own a fault,
ror, please God, too old to mend it."
WHAT POLLY DID.
SINCE their mother's death, Polly had tried to fill
her place, and take good care of the boys. But the
poor little damsel had a hard time of it sometimes ; for
Ned, being a year or two older, thought it his duty tc
emancipate himself from petticoat government as rapidly
24 SILVER PITCHERS.
as possible, and do as he pleased, regardless of het
warnings or advice.
Yet at. heart he was very fond of his pretty sister
At times he felt strongly tempted to confide his troubles
and perplexities to her, for since the loss of his mother
he often longed for a tender, helpful creature to cheer
and strengthen him.
Unfortunately he had reached the age when boys
consider it " the thing " to repress every sign of regard
for their own women-folk, sisters especially ; so Ned
barricaded himself behind the manly superiority of his
twenty years, and snubbed Polly.
Will had not yet developed this unpleasant trait, but
his sister expected it, and often exclaimed, despairingly,
to her bosom friends,
"When he follows Ned's example, and begins to
rampage, what will become of me? "
The father a learned and busy man was so oc-
cupied by the duties of his large parish, or so absorbed
in the abstruse studies to which his brief leisure was
devoted, that he had no time left for his children.
Polly took good care of him and the house, and the
boys seemed to be doing well, so he went his way in
peace, quite unconscious that his eldest son needed all
a father's care to keep him from the temptations to
which a social nature, not evil propensities, exposed
Polly saw the danger, and spoke of it ; but Mr. Snow
only answered absently,
" Tut, tut, my dear ; you are over-anxious, and forget
that young men all have a few wild oats to sow."
While Ned silenced her with that other familiar and
WHAT POLLY DID. 25
harmful phrase, " I'm only seeing life a bit, so don't
you fret, child," little dreaming that such " seeing life "
too often ends in seeing death.
So Polly labored in vain, till something happened
which taught them all a lesson. Ned went on a sleigh-
O * >
ing frolic with the comrades whom of all others hia
sister dreaded most.
" Do be careful and not come home as you did last
time, for father will be in, and it would shock him
dreadfully if I shouldn't be able to keep you quiet,"
she said anxiously.
" You little granny, I wasn't tipsy, only cheerful,
and that scared you out of your wits. I've got my key,
so don't sit up. I hate to have a woman glowering at
me when I come in," was Ned's ungracious reply ; for
the memory of that occasion was not a pleasant one.
" If a woman had not been sitting up, you'd have
frozen on the door-mat, you ungrateful boy," cried
Ned began to whistle, and was going off without a
word, when Polly's loving heart got the better of her
quick temper, and, catching up a splendid tippet she
had made for him, she ran after her brother. She
caught him just as he opened the front door, and, throw-
ing both her arms and her gift about his neck, said,
with a kiss that produced a sensation in the sleigh-full
of gentlemen at the gate,
"Ah, do be friends, for I can't bear to part so."
Now if no one nad been by, Ned would have found
that pleasant mingling of soft arms and worsted a
genuine comforter ; but masculine pride wouid not per-
mit him to relent before witnesses, and the fear of being
2G SILVER PITCHERS.
laughed at by " those fellows " made him put both
sister and gift roughly aside, with a stern,
" I won't be molly-coddled ! Let me alone and shut
the door ! "
Polly did let him alone, with a look that haunted
him, and shut the door with a spirited bang, that much
amused the gentlemen.
" I'll never try to do any thing for Ned again ! It' a
no use, and he may go to the bad for all I care ! " said
Polly to herself, after a good cry.
But she bitterly repented that speech a few hours
later, when her brother was brought back, apparently
dead, by such of the " cheerful " party as escaped un-
hurt from a dangerous upset.
There was no concealing this sad home-coming from
her father, though poor Ned was quiet enough now,
being stunned by the fall, which had wounded his head
and broken his right arm.
It was a shock, both to the man and the minister ; and,
when the worst was over, he left Polly to watch her
brother, with eyes full of penitential tears, and went
away, to reproach himself in private for devoting to
ancient Fathers the time and thought he should have
given to modern sons.
Ned was very ill, and when, at last, he began to mend,
his helplessness taught him to see and love the sweetest
side of Polly's character ; for she was in truth his right
hand, and waited on him with a zeal that touched his
Not one reproach did she utter, not even by a look
did she recall past warnings, or exult in the present
humiliation, which proved how needful they had been.
WHAT POLLY DID, 27
Every thing was forgotten except the fact that she had
the happy privilege of caring for him almost as tenderly
as a mother.
Not quite, though, and the memory of her whose
place it was impossible to fill seemed to draw them
closer together ; as if the silent voice repeated its last
injunctions to both son and daughter, "Take care of
the boys, dear ; " " Be good to your sister, Ned."
" I've been a regular brute to her, and the dear little
soul is heaping coals of fire on my head by slaving over
me like an angel," thought the remorseful invalid, one
O ' d?
day, as he lay on the sofa, with a black patch adorning
his brow, and his arm neatly clone up in splints.
Polly thought he was asleep, and sat quietly rolling
bandages till a head popped in at the door, and Will
asked, in a sepulchral whisper,
"I've got the book Ned wanted. Can I come and
give it to you ? "
Polly nodded, and he tiptoed in to her side, with a
face so full of good-will and spirits that it was as re-
freshing as a breath of fresh air in that sick room.
" Nice boy ! he never forgets to do a kindness and be
a comfort to his Polly," she said, leaning her tired head
on his buttony jacket, as he stood beside her.
Will wasn't ashamed to show affection for " his
Polly," so he patted the pale cheeks with a hand as red
as his mittens, and smiled down at her with his honest
blue eyes full of the protecting affection it was so
pleasant to receive.
" Yes, Pin going to be a tiptop boy, and never make
you and father ashamed of me, as you were once of
somebody we know. Now don't you laugh, and I'll
28 SILVER PITCHERS.
show you something; it's the best I could do, and I
wanted to prove that I mean what I say ; truly, truly,
wish I may die if I don't."
As he spoke, Will pulled out of his vest-pocket a
little pewter cream-pot, tied to a shoe-string, and hold-
ing it up said, with a funny mixture of boyish dignity
" I bought it of Nelly Hunt, because her tea-set was
half-smashed up. Folks may laugh at my badge, but I
don't care ; and if you won't have me in your society I'll
set up all alone, for I'm going into the temperance busi-
ness, any way ! "
Polly hugged him on the spot, and made his youth-
ful countenance glow with honest pride by saying
" William G. Snow, I consider our league honored by
the addition of so valuable a member ; for a boy who
can bear to be laughed at, and yet stick to his princi-
ples, is a treasure."
" The fellows do laugh at me, and call me ' Little
Pitcher ; ' but I'd rather be that than ' Champagne
Charlie,' as Ned called Mr. Lord," said Will, stoutly.
" Bless the little pitchers ! " cried Polly, enthusiasti-
cally surveying both the pewter pot and its wearer.
A great tear was lying on her cheek, checked in its
fall by the dimple that came as she looked at her
orother's droll badge. Will caught it dexterously in
the tiny cup, saying, with a stifled laugh,
" Now you've baptized it, Polly, and it's as good
as silver; for your tear shines in there like a great
big diamond. Wonder how many it would take to
WHAT POLLY DID. 29
" You'll never make me cry enough to find out.
Now go and get my little silver chain, for that dear
pewter pot deserves a better one than an old shoe-
string," said Polly, looking after him with a happy face,
as the small youth gave one ecstatic skip and was off.
"I'm afraid we've waked you up," she added, as Ned
" I was only day-dreaming ; but I mean this one shall
come true," and Ned rose straight up, with an energy
that surprised his sister.
" Come and have your lunch, for it's time. Which
will you take, Mrs. Neal's wine-jelly or my custard?"
asked Polly, settling him in his big chair.
To her astonishment, Ned pitched the little mould
Df amber jelly into the tire, and tried to eat the custard
with his left hand.
"My dear boy, have you lost your senses?" she
"No; I've just found them," he answered, with a
flash of the eye, that seemed to enlighten Polly with-
out more words.
Taking her usual seat on the arm of the chair, she
fed her big nursling in silence, till a sigh made her ask
" Isn't it right ? I put in lots of sugar because you
like it sweet."
" All the sugar in the world won't sweeten it to me,
I'olly ; for there's a bitter drop at the bottom of all my
cups. Will said your tear shone like a diamond in his
little pitcher, and well it might. But you can't cry
happy tears over me, though I've made you shed
enough sad ones to fill the big punch-bowl."
SO SILVER PITCHERS.
Ned tried to laugh, but somehow the custard choked
him; and Polly laid the poor, cropped head on her
shoulder for a minute, saying softly,
"Never mind, dear, I wouldn't think about the old
She got no farther, for with a left-handed thump that
made all the cups dance wildly on the table, Ned cried
" But I will think about the old troubles, for I don't
intend to have any new ones of that sort! Do you
suppose I'll see that snip of a boy standing up for what
is right, and not have the pluck to do the same ? Do
you suppose I'll make my own father ashamed of me
more than once ? Or let the dearest little girl in the
world wear herself out over me, and I not try to thank
her in the way she likes best? Polly, my dear, you
can't be as proud of your elder brother as you are of
the younger, but you shall never have cause to blush
for him again ; never, sir, never ! "
Ned lifted his hand for another emphatic thump, but
changed his mind, and embraced his sister as closely as
one arm could do it.
" I ought to have a badge if I'm going to belong to
your select society ; but I don't know any lady whc
will give me an ear-ring or a cream-pot," said Ned,
when the conversation got round again to the cheerful
side of the question.
"I'll give you something better than either," an-
swered Polly, as she transferred a plain locket from her
Watch-guard to the one lying on the table.
Ned knew that a beloved face and a lock of gray
WHAT PRIS DID. 31
hair were inside; and when his sister added, with a
look full of sweet significance, u For her sake, dear,'
he answered manfully,
I'll try, Polly!" '
WHAT PRIS DID.
PBISCILLA, meantime, was racking her brain to dis-
cover how she could help Philip; for since she had
broken off her engagement no one spoke of him to her,
and she could only judge of how things were going
with him by what she saw and heard as she went about
her daily task.
Pris kept school, and the road which she must take
twice a day led directly by the office where Phil was
studying medicine with old Dr. Buffum. Formerly
she always smiled and nodded as she passed, or stopped
to chat a moment with the student, who usually
chanced to be taking a whiff of fresh air at that in-
stant. Little notes flew in and out, and often her
homeward walk was cheered by a companion, who
taught the pretty teacher lessons she found it very
easy to learn.
A happy time ! But it was all over now, and brief
glimpses of a brown head bent above a desk near that
window was the only solace poor Pris had. The head
never turned as she went by, but she felt sure that
32 SILVER PITCHERS .
Phil knew her step, and found that moment, as she did,
the hardest of the day.
She longed to relent, but dared not yet. He longed
to show that he repented, but found it difficult without
a sign of encouragement. So they went their separate
ways, seldom meeting, for Phil stuck to his books with
dogged resolution, and Pris had no heart for society.
Of course the affair was discussed with all the exas-
perating freedom of a country town, some blaming
Pris for undue severity, some praising her spirit, and
some, friends, not gossips, predicting that both
would be the better for the trial, which would not
separate them long. Of this latter class were Portia
and Polly, who felt it their duty to lend a hand when
matters reached a certain point.
" Pris, dear, may I tell you something that I think
you'd be glad to know?" began Polly, joining her
friend one afternoon, as she went home weary and
" You may tell me any thing," and Pris took her
arm as if she felt the need of sympathy.
"You know Dr. Buffum let Phil help with Ned, so
wo have seen a good deal of him, and that is how I
found out what I've got to tell you."
" He spoke of me, then ? " whispered Pris, eagerly.
" Not a word till Ned made him. My boy is fond of
your boy, and they had confidences which seem to
have done them both good. Of course Ned didn't tell
me all about it, as we tell things (men never do, they
are so proud and queer), but he said this,
" ' Look here, Polly, you must be very kind to Phil,
and stand by him all you can, or he will go down. He
WHAT PEIS DID. 33
is doing his best, and will hold on as long as he can,
but a fellow must have comfort and encouragement of
some sort, and if he don't get the right kind he'll try
the wrong.' "
" Polly ! you will stand by him ? "
"I have ; for I just took Phil in a weakish moment,
and found out all I wanted to know. Ned is right and
you are wrong, Pris, not in giving back the ring, but
in seeming to cast him off entirely. He does not
deserve that, for he was not to blame half so much as
you think. But he won't excuse himself, for he feels
that you are unjust ; yet he loves you dearly, and you
could do any thing with him, if you chose."
" I do choose, Polly ; but how can I marry a man
whom I cannot trust ? " began Pris, sadly.
" Now, my child, I'm going to talk to you like a
mother, for I've had experience with boys, and I know
how to manage them," interrupted Polly, with such a
charmingly maternal air that Pris laughed in spite of
her trouble. " Be quiet and listen to the words of
wisdom," continued her friend, seriously.
" Since I 've taken care of Ned, I've learned a great
deal, for the poor lad was so sick and sorry he couldn't
shut his heart against me any more. So now I under-
stand how to help and comfort him, for hearts are very
much alike, Pris, and all need lots of love and patience
to keep them good and happy. Ned told me his
troubles, and I made up my mind that as we don't
have so many temptations as boys, we should do all we
can to help them, and make them the sort of men we
can both love and trust."
" You are right, Polly. I Ve often thought how
34 SILVER PITCHERS.
wrong it is for us to sit safe and silent while we kno-vf
things are going wrong, just because it isn't considered
proper for us to speak out. Then when the harm is
done we are expected to turn virtuously away from
the poor soul we might perhaps have saved if we had
dared. God does not do so to us, and we ought not
to do so to those over whom we have so much
power," said Pris, with a heart full of sad and tender
" We won't ! " cried Polly, firmly. " We began in
play, but we will go on in earnest, and use our youth,
our beauty, our influence for something nobler than
merely pleasing men's eyes, or playing with their
hearts. We'll help them to be good, and brave, and
true, and in doing this we shall become better women,
and worthier to be loved, I know."
"Why, Polly, you are quite inspired!" and Pris
stopped in the snowy road to look at her.
" It isn't all my wisdom. I 've talked with father as
well as Ned and Phil, and they have done me good.
I 've discovered that confidence is better than compli-
ments, and friendship much nicer than flirting ; so I 'm
going to turn over a new leaf, and use my good gifts
for higher ends."
" Dear thing, what a comfort you are ! " said Pris,
pressing Polly's hands, and looking into her bright face
with grateful eyes. " You have given me courage to
do my duty, and I'll follow your example as fast as 1
can. Don't come any farther, please: I'd better be
alone when I pass Phil's window, for I'm going to nod
and smile, as I used to in the happy time. Then he
will see that I don't cast him off and leave him. to * go
WHAT PEIS DID. 85
down ' for want of help, but am still his friend until I
dare be more."
" Now, Pris, that's just lovely of you, and I know it
will work wonders. Smile and nod away, dear, and
try to do your part, as I'm trying to do mine."
For an instant the little gray hat and the jaunty one
with the scarlet feather were bent close together ; but
what went on under the brims, who can say ? Then
Polly trotted off as fast as she could go, and Pris
turned into a certain street with a quicker step and a
brighter color than she had known for weeks.
She was late, for she had lingered with Polly, and
she feared that patient watcher at the window would
be gone. No ; the brown head was there, but it lay
wearily on the arms folded over a big book, and the
eyes that stared out at the wintry sky had something
tragic in them.
Poor Phil did need encouragement, and was in the
mood to take the worst sort if the best failed him, for
life looked very dark just then, and solitude was grow-
Suddenly, between him and the ruddy sunset a face
appeared, the dearest and the loveliest in the world
to him. Not half averted now, nor set straightforward,
cold and quiet as a marble countenance, but bent
towards him, with a smile on the lips, and a wistful
look in the tender eyes that made his heart leap up
with sudden hope. Then it vanished; and when he
sprung to the window nothing could be seen but the
la&t wave of a well-known cloak, fluttering round the
lut PrisciJla's first effort was a great success; for
36 SILVER PITCHERS.
the magic of a kind look glorified the dingy office, and
every bottle on the shelves might have been filled with
the elixir of life, so radiant did Phil's face become.
The almost uncontrollable desire to rush away and
recklessly forget his loneliness in the first companion-
ship that offered was gone now, for a happy hope
peopled his solitude with helpful thoughts and resolu-
tions ; the tragic look left the eyes, that still saw a
good angel instead of a tempting demon between them
and the evening sky ; and when Phil shut up the big
book he had been vainly trying to study, he felt that
he had discovered a new cure for one of the sharpest
pains the heart can suffer.
Next morning Pris unconsciously started for school
too soon, so when she passed that window the room
was empty. Resolved that Phil should not share her
disappointment, she lifted the sash and dropped a white
azalea on his desk. She smiled as she did it, and then
whisked away as if she had taken instead of left a treas-
ure. But the smile remained with the flower, I think,
and Phil found it there when he hurried in to discover
this sweet good-morning waiting for him.
He put it in the wine-glass which he had sworn never
should be filled again with any thing but water, and
sitting down before it listened to the little sermon the
flower preached ; for the delicate white azalea was Pris
to him, and the eloquence of a pure and tender heart
flowed from it, working miracles. One of them was
that when sunset came it shone on two faces at the
window, and the little snow-birds heard two voices
breaking a long silence.
" God bless you, Pris "
WHAT PETS DID. 37
"God help you, Phil!"
That was all, but from that hour the girl felt her
power for good, and used it faithfully; and from that
hour the young man worked bravely to earn the re-
spect and confidence without which no love is safe ar.d
"We are friends now," they said, when they were
seen together again; and friends they remained, in
spite of shrugs and smiles, ill-natured speeches, and
more than one attempt to sow discord between them,
for people did not understand the new order of things.
" I trust him," was the only answer Pris gave to all
warnings and criticisms.
" I will be worthy of her," the vow that kept Phil
steady in spite of the ridicule that is so hard to bear,
and gave him courage to flee from the temptation he
was not yet strong enough to meet face to face.
Portia and Polly stood by them stanchly ; for having
made her father's house a safe refuge, Portia offered
Phil all the helpful influences of a happy home. Polly,
with Ned to lend a hand, gave his comrade many a
friendly lift; and when it was understood that the
Judge, the minister, and the "Sweet P's" indorsed the
young M. D., no one dared cast a stone at him.
All this took time, of course, but Phil got his reward
at last, for one night a little thing happened which
showed him his own progress, and made Pris feel that
she might venture to wear the ring again.
At a party Phil was graciously invited to take wine
with a lady, and refused. It was a very hard thing to
do, for the lady was his hostess, a handsome woman,
and the mother of a flock of little children, who all pre-
58 SILVER PITCHERS.
ferred the young doctor to the old one ; and, greatest
trial of all, several of his most dreaded comrades stood
by to laugh at him, if he dared to let principle out-
But he did it, though he grew pale with the effort to
" Will Mrs. Ward pardon me if I decline the honor?
I am "
There he stopped and turned scarlet, for a lie was on
his lips, a lie so much easier to tell than the honest
truth that many would have forgiven its utterance at
His hostess naturally thought ill health was his ex-
cuse, and, pitying his embarrassment, said, smiling,
" Ah ! you doctors don't prescribe wine for your own
ailments as readily as for those of your patients."
But Phil, angry at his own weakness, spoke out
frankly, with a look that said more than his words,
" I cannot even accept the kind excuse you offer me,
for I am not ill. It may be my duty to order wine
sometimes for my patients, but it is also my duty to
prescribe water for myself."
A dreadful little pause followed that speech; but
Mrs. Ward understood now, and though she thought
the scruple a foolish one, she accepted the apology like
a well-bred woman, and, with a silent bow that ended
the matter, turned to other guests, leaving poor Phil
to his fate.
Not a pleasant one, but he bore it as well as he
could, and when his mates left him stranded in a cor-
ner, he said, half aloud, with a long breath, as if the
battle had been a hard one,
HOW IT ENDED. 39
" Yes, I suppose I have lost my best patient, but I 've
kept my own respect, and that ought to satisfy me."
" Let me add mine, and wish you health and happi-
ness, dear Phil," said a voice behind him, and turning
quickly he saw Pris standing there with two goblets of
Water, and a smile full of love and pride.
" You know what that toast means for me ? " he
whispered, with sudden sunshine in his face, as he
took the offered glass.
"Yes; and I drink it with all my heart," she an-
swered, with her hand in his.
HOW IT ENDED.
THE leaven dropped by three girls in that little
town worked so slowly that they hardly expected to
do more than " raise their own patty-cakes," as Polly
merrily expressed it. But no honest purpose is ever
wasted, and by-and-by the fermentation began.
Several things helped it amazingly. The first of
these was a temperance sermon, preached by Parson
Snow, which produced a deep impression, because in
doing this he had the courage, like Brutus, to condemn
his own son. The brave sincerity, the tender earnest-
ness of that sermon, touched the hearts of his people
as no learned discourse had ever done, and bore fruit
that well repaid him for the effort it cost
40 SILVER PITCHERS.
It waked up the old people, set the young ones to
thinking, and showed them all that they had a work to
do. For those who were down felt that they might be
lifted up again, those who were trifling ignorantly or
recklessly with temptation saw their danger, and thoso
who had longed to speak out now dared to do it be
cause he led the way.
So, warned by the wolf in his own fold, this shepherd
of souls tried to keep his flock from harm, and, in doing
it, found that his Christianity was the stronger, wiser,
and purer for his humanity.
Another thing was the fact that the Judge was the
first to follow his pastor's example, and prove by deeda
that he indorsed his words. It was hard for the hospi-
table old gentleman to banish wine from his table, and
forego the pleasant customs which long usage and many
associations endeared to him; but he made his sacrifice
handsomely, and his daughter helped him.
She kept the side-board from looking bare by filling
the silver tankards with flowers, offered water to hia
guests with a grace that made a cordial of it, and
showed such love and honor for her father that he was
a very proud and happy man.
What the Judge did was considered "all right" by
his neighbors, for he was not only the best-born, but
the richest man in town, and with a certain class these
facts had great weight. Portia knew this, and counted
on it when she said she wanted him on her side ; so
she exulted when others followed the new fashion,
some from principle, but many simply because he set it.
At first the young reformers were disappointed that
every one was not as enthusiastic as themselves, and a&
HOW IT ENDED. 41
ready to dare and do for the cause thej had espoused*
But wiser heads than those on their pretty shoulders
curbed their impetuosity, and suggested various ways
of gently insinuating the new idea, and making it so
attractive that others would find it impossible to resist ;
for sunshine often wins when bluster makes us wrap
our prejudices closer around us, like the traveller in the
Portia baited her trap with Roman parties, for she
had been abroad, and made them so delightful that
no one complained when only cake and tea was served
(that being the style in the Eternal City), but went
and did likewise.
Artful Polly set up a comic newspaper, to amuse
Ned, who was an invalid nearly all winter, and in it
freed her mind on many subjects in such a witty way
that the " Pollyanthus," as her brother named it, circu-
lated through their set, merrily sowing good seed ; for
young folks will remember a joke longer than a sermon,
and this editor made all hers tell.
Pris was not behindhand in her efforts, but worked
in a different way, and got up a branch society among
her little pupils, called " The Water Babies." That capti
vated the mothers at once, and even the fathers found
it difficult to enjoy their wine with blue eyes watching
them wistfully over the rims of silver mugs ; while the
few topers of the town hid themselves like night-birds
flying from the sun, when, led by their gentle General,
that little army of innocents marched through the
streets with banners flying, blithe voices singing, rosy
faces shining, and childish hearts full of the sweet delu*
sion that they could save the world.
42 SILVER PITCHERS.
Of course the matrons discussed these events at the
sewing-circle, and much talk went on of a more useful
sort than the usual gossip about servants, sickness, dress,
Mrs. Judge waxed eloquent upon the subject, and,
being president, every one listened with due respect.
Mrs. Ward seconded all her motions, for this lady had
much surprised the town, not only by installing Phil as
family physician, but by coming out strong for temper-
ance. Somebody had told her all about the girls' labor
of love, and she had felt ashamed to be outdone by
them ; so, like a conscientious woman, she decided to
throw her influence into the right scale, take time by
the forelock, and help to make the town a safer place
for her five sons to grow up in than it was then.
These two leading ladies kept the ball rolling so
briskly that others were soon converted and fell into
rank, till a dozen or so were heartily in earnest. And
then the job was half done ; for in a great measure
women make society what they choose to have it.
" We are told that home is our sphere, and advised
to keep in it ; so let us see that it is what it should be,
and then we shall have proved our fitness for larger
fields of labor, if we care to claim them," said Mrs.
Judge, cutting out red flannel with charitable energy
on one occasion.
"Most of us will find that quite as much as we can
accomplish, I fancy," answered Mrs. Ward, thinking oi
her own riotous lads, who were probably pulling the
house about their ears, while she made hoods for Mrs4
Flanagan's bareheaded lasses.
" Tears to me we hain't no call to interfere in other
HOW IT ENDED. 43
folks's affairs. This never was a drinkin' town, and
things is kep' in fustrate order, so I don't see the use oi
sech a talk about temperance," remarked Miss Simmons,
an acid spinster, whose principal earthly wealth con-
sisted of a choice collection of cats.
"If your tabbies took to drinking, you would see the
use, I'm sure," laughed Polly, from the corner, which
was a perfect posy-bed of girls.
" Thank goodness, Pve no men folks to pester myself
about," began Miss Simmons, with asperity.
" Ah, but you should ; for if you refuse to make them
happy, you ought at least to see that they console
themselves in ways which can work them no further
woe," continued Polly, gravely, though her black eyea
danced with fun.
" Well, that wouldn't be no more than fair, I'm free
to confess ; but, sakes alive, I couldn't attend to 'em
all ! " said Miss Simmons, bridling with a simper that
nearly upset the whole bevy of girls.
"Do make the effort, and help us poor things who
haven't had your experience," added Pris, in her most
" I declare I will ! I'll have Hiram Stebbins in to tea ;
and when he's as good-natured as muffins and pie can
make him, I'll set to and see if I can't talk him out
of his attachment to that brandy bottle," cried Miss
Simmons, with a sudden yearning towards the early
sweetheart, who had won, but never claimed her virgin
" I think you'll do it ; and, if so, you will have accom-
plished what no one else could, and you shall have any
prize you choose," cried Portia, smiling so hopefully
44 SILVER PITCHERS.
that the faded old face grew almost young again, as
Miss Simmons went home with something better to do
than tend her tabbies.
" We've bagged that bird," said Polly, with real satis-
" That's the way we set people to work," added
" She will do what we can't, for her heart is in it,"
said Pris, softly ; and it was pleasant to see the bloom-
ing girls rejoice that poor old Hiram was in a fair way
to be saved.
So the year went round, and Thanksgiving came
again, with the home jollity that makes a festival
throughout the land. The day would not be perfect
if it did not finish with a frolic of some sort, and for
reasons of their own the young gentlemen decided to
have the first sociable of the year an unusually pleasant
" Everybody is going, and Ned says the supper is to
be water-ice and ice- water," said Polly, taking a last
look at herself in the long mirror, when the three
friends were ready on that happy evening.
" I needn't sigh now over other girls' pretty dresses,
as I did last year ; " and Portia plumed herself like a
swan, as she settled Charley's roses in her bosom.
"And I needn't wonder who Phil will take," added
Pris, stopping, with her glove half on, to look at the
little ring back again from its long banishment in some-
body's waistcoat pocket.
Never had the hall looked so elegant and gay, for it
was charmingly decorated ; couches were provided for
the elders, mirrors for the beauties, and music of the
BOW IT ENDED. 45
best sounded from behind a thicket of shrubs and flow-
ers. Every one seemed in unusually good spirits ; the
girls looked their loveliest, and the young men were
models of propriety; though a close observer might
have detected a suspicious twinkle in the eyes of the
most audacious, as if they plotted some new joke.
The girls saw it, were on the watch, and thought the
secret was out when they discovered that the gentlemen
of their set all wore tiny pitchers, hanging like ordera
from the knots of sweet-peas in their button-holes,
But, bless their innocent hearts ! that was only a ruse,
and they were taKei. entirel v by surprise when, just
before supper, the band struck up,
" Drink to me only with thine eyes ; "
every one looked smilingly at the three girls who
were standing together near the middle of the hall.
They looked about them in pretty confusion, but in
a moment beheld a spectacle that made them forget
themselves; for the Judge, in an impressive white
waistcoat, marched into the circle gathered about them,
made a splendid bow, and said, with a smile that put
the gas to shame,
" Young ladies ! I am desired by the gentlemen now
present to beg your acceptance of a slight token of
their gratitude, respect, and penitence. As the first
man who joined the society which has proved a blessing
to our town, Mr. William Snow will now have the
honor of presenting the gift."
Then appeared Mr. William Snow, looking as proud
as a peacock ; and well he might, for on the salver which
he bore stood a stately silver pitcher. A graceful little
46 SILVER PITCHERS.
Hebe danced upon the handle, three names shone along
the fretted brim, and three white lilies rose from the
slender vase, fit emblems of the maiden founders of
Arriving before them, Master Will nearly upset the
equilibrium of his precious burden in attempting to
make a bow equal to the Judge's ; but recovered him-
self gallantly, and delivered the following remarkable
poem, which the public was expected to believe an
emanation of his own genius :
" Hebe poured the nectar forth
When gods of old were jolly,
But graces three our goblets fill,
Fair Portia, Pris and Polly.
Their draughts make every man who tastes
Happier, better, richer ;
So here we vow ourselves henceforth
Knights of the Silver Pitcher."
pausing suddenly in her restless march to and
fro on one of the wide piazzas of a seaside hotel.
" At what ? " asked her companion, lazily swinging
in a hammock.
" The difference in those two greetings. It's per-
fectly disgraceful ! " was the petulant reply.
" I didn't see any thing. Do tell me about it," said
Clara, opening her drowsy eyes with sudden interest.
"Why, young Barlow was lounging up the walk,
and met pretty Miss Ellery. Off went his hat ; he
gave her a fine bow, a gracious smile, a worn-out com-
pliment, and then dawdled on again. The next minute
Joe King came along. Instantly Barlow woke up
laughed out like a pleased boy, gave him a hearty grip
of the hand, a cordial ' How are you, old fellow ? I'm
no end glad to see you ! ' and, linking arms, the twc
tramped off, quite beaming with satisfaction."
" But, child, King is Barlow's best friend ; Kitty
Ellery only an acquaintance. Besides, it wouldn't do
to greet a woman like a man."
" Yes, it would, especially in this case ; for Barlow
adores Kate, and might, at least, treat her to some
thing better than the nonsense he gives other girls
But, no, it's proper to simper and compliment; and
48 ANNA'S WHIM.
he'll do it till his love gets the better <y. * prunes and
prisms,' and makes him sincere and earnest."
" This is a new whim of yours. You surely wouldn't
like to have any man call out ' How are you, Anna ? '
Blap you on the shoulder, and nearly shake your hand
off, as Barlow did King's, just now," said Clara, laugh-
ing at her friend.
"Yes, I would," answered Anna, perversely, '-* if he
really meant it to express affection or pleasure. A good
grip of the hand and a plain, hearty word would please
me infinitely better than all the servile bowing down
and sweet nonsense I've had lately. I'm not a fool ;
then, why am I treated like one ? " she continued, knit-
ting her handsome brows and pacing to and fro like an
angry leopardess. " Why don't men treat me like a
reasonable being? talk sense to me, give me their
best ideas, tell me their plans and ambitions, let me
enjoy the real man in them, and know what they hon-
estly are ? I don't want to be a goddess stuck up on a
pedestal. I want to be a woman down among them,
to help and be helped by our acquaintance."
" It wouldn't do, I fancy. They wouldn't like it,
and would tell you to keep to your own sex."
" But my own sex don't interest or help me one bit.
Women have no hope but to be married, and that is
goon told ; no ideas but dress and show, and I'm tired
to death of both ; no ambition but to outshine their
r.eighbors, and I despise that."
" Thank you, love," blandly murmured Clara.
"It is true, and. you know it. There are sensible
women ; but not in my set. And I don't seem to find
them. I've tried the life set down for girls like me,
ANNA'S WHIM. 49
and for three years I've lived and enjoyed it. Now
I'm tired of it. I want something better, and I mean
to have it. Men will follow, admire, flatter, and love
me; for I please them and they enjoy my society.
Very well. Then it's fair that I should enjoy theirs.
And I should if they would let me. It's perfectly
maddening to have flocks of brave, bright fellows
round me, full of every thing that is attractive, strong,
and helpful, yet not be able to get at it, because so-
ciety ordains twaddle between us, instead of sensible
conversation and sincere manners."
" What shall we do about it, love ? " asked Clara,
enjoying her friend's tirade.
" You will submit to it, and get a mental dyspepsia,
like all the other fashionable girls. I won't submit, if
I can help it; even if I shock Mrs. Grundy by my
efforts to get plain bread and beef instead of con-
Anna walked in silence for a moment, and then
burst out again, more energetically than ever.
" Oh ! I do wish I could find one sensible man, who
would treat me as he treats his male friends, even
roughly, if he is honest and true ; who would think me
worthy of his confidence, ask my advice, let me give
him whatever I have that is wise and excellent, and be
my friend in all good faith."
" Ahem ! " said Clara, with a significant laugh, that
" You need not try to abash me with your jeers. I
know what I mean, and I stand by my guns, in spite
of your ' hems.' I do not want lovers. I've had
dozens, and am tired of them. I will not marry till I
60 ANNA'S WHIM.
know the man thoroughly ; and how can I know him
with this veil between us ? They don't guess what I
really am ; and I want to prove to them and to myself
that I possess brains and a heart, as well as * heavenly
eyes,' a ' queenly figure,' and a ' mouth made for
The scorn with which Anna uttered the last words
amused her friend immensely, for the petulant beauty
had never looked handsomer than at that moment.
" If any man saw you now, he'd promise whatever
you ask, no matter how absurd. But don't excite
yourself, dear child ; it is too warm for heroics."
Anna leaned on the wide baluster a moment, look-
ing thoughtfully out upon the sea ; and as she gazed a
new expression stole over her charming face, changing
its disdainful warmth to soft regret.
"This is not all a whim. I know what I covet,
because I had it once," she said, with a sigh. " I had
a boy friend when I was a girl, and for several years
we were like brother and sister. Ah! what happy
times we had together, Frank and I. We played and
studied, quarrelled and made up, dreamed splendid
dreams, and loved one another in our simple child
fashion, never thinking of sex, rivalry, or any of the
forms and follies that spoil maturer friendships."
" What became of him ? Did he die angelically in
his early bloom, or outgrow his Platonics with round
jackets ? " asked Clara.
" He went to college. I went abroad, to be * finished
off;' and when we met a year ago the old charm was
all gone, for we were ' in society ' and had our masks
ANNA'S WHIM. 51
" So the boy and girl friendship did not ripen into
love and end the romance properly ? "
" No, thank Heaven ! no flirtation spoilt the pretty
story. Frank was too wise, and I too busy. Yet 1
remember how glad I was to see him ; though I hid it
properly, and pretended to be quite unconscious that
1 was any thing but a belle. I got paid for my deceit,
though ; for, in spite of his admiration, I saw he was
disappointed in me. I should not have cared if I had
been disappointed in him ; but I was quick to see that
he was growing one of the strong, superior men who
command respect. I wanted to keep his regard, at
least ; and I seemed to have nothing but beauty to
give in return. I think I never was so hurt in my life
as I was by his not coming to see me after a week or
two, and hearing him say to a friend, one night, when
I thought I was at my very best, * She is spoilt, like
all the rest.' "
" I do believe you loved him, and that is why you
won't love any one else," cried Clara, who had seen
her friend in her moods before ; but never understood
them, and thought she had found a clew now.
" No," said Anna, with a quiet shake of the head.
" No, I only wanted my boy friend back, and could not
find him. The fence between us was too high ; and I
could not climb over, as I used to do when I leaped
the garden-wall to sit in a tree and help Frank with
" Has the uncivil wretch never come back ? " asked
Clara, interested in the affair.
"Never. He is too busy shaping his life bravely
and successfully to waste his time on a frivolous butter-
fly like Anna West."
An eloquent little gesture of humility made tLc
words almost pathetic. Kind-hearted Clara was touched
by the sight of tears in the " heavenly eyes," and tum-
bling out of the hammock she embraced the " queenly
figure " and warmly pressed the u lips that were made
for kissing," thereby driving several approaching gentle-
men to the verge of distraction.
"Now don't be tragical, darling. You have noth-
ing to cry for, I 'm sure. Young, lovely, rich, and adored,
what more can any girl want ? " said Clara, gushingly.
" Something besides admiration to live for," an-
swered Anna, adding, with a shrug, as she saw several
hats fly off and several manly countenances beam upon
her, "Never mind, my fit is over now; let us go and
dress for tea."
Miss West usually took a brisk pull in her own boat
before breakfast; a habit which lured many indolent
young gentlemen out of their beds at unaccustomed
hours, in the hope that they might have the honor of
splashing their legs helping her off, the privilege of
wishing her " Bon voyage? or the crowning rapture of
On the morning after her " fit," as. she called the dis-
content of a really fine nature with the empty life she
led, she was up and out unusually early ; for she had
kept her room with a headache all the evening, and
now loured for fresh air and exercise.
As she prepared the " Gull" for a start, she was idly
wondering what early bird would appear eager to
secure the coveted worm, when a loud and cheerful
voice was heard calling,
" Hullo, Anna ! " and a nautically attired gentleman
hove in sight, waving his hat as he hailed her.
ANNA'S WHIM. 53
She started at the unceremonious salute and looked
back. Then her whole face brightened beautifully as
she sprang up the bank, saying, with a pretty mixture
of hesitation and pleasure,
" Why, Frank, is that you ? "
" Do you doubt it ? "
And the new-comer shook both her hands so vigor-
ously that she winced a little as she said, laughing,
" No, I don't. That is the old squeeze with extra
power in it."
" How are you ? Going for a pull ? Take me along
and show me the lions. There's a good soul."
" With pleasure. When did you come ? " asked
Anna, settling the black ribbon under the sailor collar
which set off her white throat charmingly.
" Last night. I caught a glimpse of you at tea ; but
you were surrounded then and vanished immediately
afterward. So when I saw you skipping over the rocks
just now, I gave chase, and here I am. Shall I take an
oar ? " asked Frank, as she motioned him to get in.
" No, thank you. I prefer to row myself and don't
need any help," she answered, with an imperious little
wave of the hand ; for she was glad to show him she
could do something besides dance, dress, and flirt.
"All right. Then I'll do the luxurious and enjoy
myself." And, without offering to help her in, Frank
seated himself, folded his arms, stretched out his long
legs, and placidly remarked,
" Pull away, skipper."
Anna was pleased with his frank and friendly greet-
ing, and, feeling as if old times had come again, sprang
in, prepared to astonish him with her skill.
64 ANNA'S WHIM.
" Might I suggest that you " began Frank, as she
" No suggestions or advice allowed aboard this ship.
I know what I 'm about, though I am a woman," was
the severe answer, as the boat glided from the wharf.
" Ay, ay, sir ! " And Frank meekly subsided, with a
twinkle of amusement in the eyes that rested approv-
ingly on the slender figure in a blue boating suit and
the charming face under the sailor hat.
Anna paddled her way dexterously out from among
the fleet of boats riding at anchor in the little bay ; then
she seated herself, adjusted one oar, and looked about
for the other rowlock. It was nowhere visible; and,
after a silent search, she deigned to ask,
" Have you seen the thing anywhere ? "
" I saw it on the bank."
Why didn't you tell me before ? "
" I began to, but was quenched ; so I obeyed orders."
"You haven't forgotten how to tease," said Anna,
" Nor you to be wilful."
She gave him a look that would have desolated most
men ; but only made Frank smile affably as she paddled
laboriously back, recovered the rowlock and then her
temper, as, with a fine display of muscle, she pulled out
Getting into the current, she let the boat drift, and
soon forgot time and space in the bewildering conver-
sation that followed.
" What have you been doing since I saw you last?"
she asked, looking as rosy as a milkmaid, as she stopped
vowing and tied up her wind-tossed hair.
ANNAS WHIM. 55
" Working like a beaver. You see " and then, to
her utter amazement, Frank entered into an elaborate
statement of his affairs, quite as if she understood all
about it and her opinion was valuable. It was all Greek
to Anna, but she was immensely gratified ; for it was
just the way the boy used to tell her his small concerns in
the days when each had firm faith in the other's wisdom.
She tried to look as if she understood all about " in-
vestments, percentage, and long credit ; " but she was
out of her depth in five minutes, and dared say nothing,
lest she should betray her lamentable ignorance on all
matters of business. She got out of the scrape by
cleverlv turning the conversation to old times, and
* o *
youthful reminiscences soon absorbed them both.
The faint, far-off sound of a gong recalled her to the
fact that breakfast was nearly ready ; and, turning the
boat, she was dismayed to see how far they had floated.
She stopped talking and rowed her best ; but wind and
tide were against her, she was faint with hunger, and
her stalwart passenger made her task doubly hard. He
offered no help, however ; but did the luxurious to the
life, leaning back, with his hat off, and dabbling his
hands in the way that most impedes the progress of a
Pride kept Anna silent till her face was scarlet, her
palms blistered, and her breath most gone. Then, and
not till then, did she condescend to say, with a gasp,
poorly concealed by an amiable smile,
" Do you care to row ? I ought to have asked you
" I'm very comfortable, thank you," answered Frank.
Then, as an expression of despair flitted over poor
56 ANNA'S WHIM.
Anna's face, he added bluntly, "I'm getting desper-
ately hungry, so I don't care if I do shorten the voyage
With a sigh of relief, she rose to change seats, and,
expecting him to help her, she involuntarily put out her
hands, as she passed. But Frank was busy turning
back his cuffs, and never stirred a finger ; so that she
would have lost her balance and gono overboard if she
had not caught his arm.
"What's the matter, skipper?" he asked, standing
the sudden grip as steadily as a mast.
"Why didn't you help me? You have no more
manners than a turtle ! " cried Anna, dropping into the
seat with the frown of a spoiled beauty, accustomed to
be gallantly served and supported at every step.
Frank only added to his oflence by laughing, as he
" You seemed so independent, I didn't like to inter-
" So, if I had gone overboard, you would not have
fished me out, unless I asked you to do it, I suppose ? "
In that case, I'm afraid I shouldn't have waited for
orders. We can't spare you to the mermen yet."
Something in the look he gave her appeased Anna's
resentment ; and she sat silently admiring the strong
swift strokes that sent the " Gull " skimming over the
" Not too late for breakfast, after all," she said gra-
ciously, as they reached the wharf, where several early
strollers stood watching their approach.
"Poor thing! You look as if you needed it," an-
swered Frank. But he let her get out alone, to the
ANNA'S WHIM. 57
horror of Messrs. Barlow, King, & Co. ; and, wh.le she
fastened the boat, Frank stood settling his hatband,
with the most exasperating unconsciousness of his duty.
" What are you going to do with yourself this morn-
ing ? " she asked, as she walked up the rocky path, with
no arm to lean upon.
"Fish. Will you come along?"
" No, thank you. One gets so burnt. I shall go to
my hammock under the pine," was the graciously sug-
gestive reply of the lady who liked a slave to fan or
swing her, and seldom lacked several to choose from.
" See you at dinner, then. My room is in the Cot-
tage. So by-by for the present." And, with a nod,
Frank strolled away, leaving the lovely Miss West to
mount the steps and cross the hall unescorted.
" The dear fellow's manners need polish, I must
take him in hand, I see. And yet he is very nice, in
gpite of his brusque ways," thought Anna, indulgently.
And more than once that morning she recalled his bluff
u Hullo, Anna!" as she swung languidly in her ham*
mock, with a devoted being softly reading Tennyson to
her inattentive ears.
At dinner she appeared in unusual spirits, and kept
her end of the table in a ripple of merriment by her
witty and satirical sallies, privately hoping that her
opposite neighbor would discover that she could talk
well when she chose to do so. But Frank was deep in
politics, discussing some new measure with such ear-
nestness and eloquence that Anna, pausing to listen for
a moment, forgot her lively gossip in one of the great
questions of the hour.
She was listening with silent interest, when Frank
58 ANNA'S WHIM.
suddenly appealed to her to confirm some statement he
had just made ; and she was ignominiovisly obliged to
confess she knew too little about the matter to give any
opinion. No compliment ever paid her was more flat-
tering than his way of turning to her now and then, a8
if including her in the discussion as a matter of course ;
and never had she regretted any thing more keenly
than she did her ignorance on a subject that every man
and woman should understand and espouse.
She did her best to look intelligent ; racked her brain
to remember facts which she had heard discussed for
weeks, without paying any attention to them; and,
thanks to her quick wit and womanly sympathy, she
managed to hold her own, saying little, but looking
The instant dinner was over, she sent a servant to
the reading-room for a file of late papers, and, retiring
to a secluded corner, read up with a diligence that not
only left her with clearer ideas on one subject, but also
a sense of despair at her own deficiencies in the knowl-
edge of many others.
" I really must have a course of solid reading. I do
believe that is what I need ; and I'll ask Frank where
to begin. He always was an intelligent boy ; but I
was surprised to hear how well he talked. I was act-
ually proud of him. I wonder where he is, by the
way. Clara wants to be introduced, and I want to see
how he strikes her."
Leaving her hiding-place, Anna walked forth in
search of her friends, looking unusually bright and
beautiful, for her secret studies had waked her up and
lent her face the higher charm it needed. Clara ap-
ANNA'S WHIM. 59
peared first. The new-comer had already been pre-
sented to her, and she professed herself "perfectly
fkscinated." " Such a personable man ! Quite distin-
guished, you know, and so elegant in his manners
Devoted, graceful, and altogether charming."
"You like his manners, do you?" and Anna smiled
at Clara's enthusiasm.
" Of course I do ; for they have all the polish of
foreign travel, with the indescribable something which
a really fine character lends to every little act and
" Frank has never been abroad, and if I judged his
character by his manners I should say he was rather a
rough customer," said Anna, finding fault because Clara
"You are so fastidious, nothing ever suits you, dear.
I didn't expect to like this old friend of yours. But I
frankly confess I do immensely ; so, if you are tired of
him, I'll take him off your hands."
" Thank you, love. You are welcome to poor Frank,
if you can win him. Men are apt to be more loyal to
friendship than women ; and I rather fancy, from what
I saw this morning, that he is in no haste to change
old friends for new."
Anna spoke sweetly, but at heart was ill pleased
with Clara's admiration of her private property, as she
considered " poor Frank," and inwardly resolved to
have no poaching on her preserves.
Just then the gentleman in question came up, saying
to Anna, in his abrupt way,
" Every one is going to ride, so I cannot get the
best horses ; but I've secured two, and now I want a
60 ANNA'S WHIM.
companion. Will you come for a good old-time
gallop ? "
Anna thought of her blistered hands, and hesitated,
till a look at Clara's hopeful face decided her to accept.
She did so, and rode like an Amazon for several hours,
in spite of heat, dust, and a hard-mouthed horse, who
nearly pulled her arms out of the sockets.
She hoped to find a chance to consult Frank about
her course of useful reading ; but he seemed intent on
the " old-time gallop," and she kept up gallantly till
the ride was over, when she retired to her room, quite
exhausted, but protesting with beroic smiles that she
had had a delightful time.
She did not appear at tea ; but later in the evening,
Rrhen an informal dance was well under way, she sailed
in on the arm of a distinguished old gentleman, " evi-
dently prepared to slay her thousands," as young Bar-
low said, observing the unusual brilliancy of her eyes
and the elaborate toilette she had made.
" She means mischief to-ni^ht. Who is to be the
victim, I wonder?" said another man, putting up his
glass for a survey of the charmer.
" Not the party who came last evening. He is only
an old friend," she says.
"He might be her brother or her husband, judging
by the cavalier way in which he treats her. I could
have punched his head this morning, when he let her
pull up that boat alone," cried a youthful adorer, glar-
ing irefully at the delinquent, lounging in a distant
" If she said he was an old friend, you may be sure
he is an accepted lover. The dear creatures all fib in
ANNA'S WHIM. 61
these matters; so I'll lay wagers to an enormous
amount that all this splendor is for the lord and mas-
ter, not for our destruction," answered Barlow, who
was wise in the ways of women and wary as a moth
should be who had burnt his wings more than once at
the same candle.
Clara happened to overhear these pleasing remarks,
and five minutes after they were uttered she breathed
them tenderly into Anna's ear. A scornful smile was
all the answer she received ; but the beauty was both
pleased and annoyed, and awaited with redoubled
interest the approach of the old friend, who was re-
garded in the light of a successful lover. But he
seemed in no haste to claim his privileges, and dance
after dance went by, while he sat talking with the old
general or absently watching the human teetotums that
spun about before him.
" I can't stand this another moment ! " said Anna
to herself, at last, and beckoned the recreant knight to
approach, with a commanding gesture.
" Why don't you dance, sir ? "
"I've forgotten how, ma'am."
" After all the pains I took with you when we had
lessons together, years ago?"
" I've been too busy to attend to trifles of that sort."
" Elegant accomplishments are not trifles, and no one
gbould neglect them who cares to make himself agree-
"Well, I don't know that I do care, as a general
" You ought to care ; and, as a penance for that rude
speech, you must dance this dance with me. I cannot
62 ANNA'S WHIM.
let you forget all your accomplishments for the sake of
business ; so I shall do my duty as a friend and take
you in hand," said Anna, severely.
" You are very kind ; but is it worth the trouble ?*
"Now, Frank, don't be provoking and ungrateful.
You know you like to give pleasure, to be cared for,
and to do credit to your friends ; so just rub up your
manners a bit, and be as well-bred as you are sensible
and brave and good."
" Thank you, I'll try. May I have the honor, Miss
West?" and he bowed low before her, with a smile
on his lips that both pleased and puzzled Anna.
They danced the dance, and Frank acquitted himself
respectably, but relapsed into his objectionable ways
as soon as the trial ended ; for the first thing he said,
with a sigh of relief, was,
" Come out and talk ; for upon my life I can't stand
this oven any longer."
Anna obediently followed, and, seating herself in a
breezy corner, waited to be entertained. But Frank
seemed to have forgotten that pleasing duty ; for,
perching himself on the wide baluster of the piazza, he
not only proceeded to light a cigarette, without even
saying, " By your leave," but coolly offered her one
" How dare you ! " she said, much offended at this
proceeding. " I am not one of the fast girls who do
Buch things, and I dislike it exceedingly."
" You used to smoke sweet-fern in corn-cob pipes,
you remember ; and these are not much stronger," he
said, placidly restoring the rejected offering to his
ANNA'S WHIM. 63
" I did many foolish things then which I desire to
" And some very sweet and sensible ones, also. Ah,
well! it can't be helped, I suppose."
Anna sat silent a moment, wondering what he
meant ; and when she looked up, she found him pen-
sively staring at her, through a fragrant cloud of
"What is it?" she asked, for his eyes seemed seek-
"I was trying to see some trace of the little Anna
I used to know. I thought I'd found her again this
morning in the girl in the round hat ; but I don't find
her anywhere to-night."
"Indeed, Frank, I'm not so much changed as I seem.
At least, to you I am the same, as far as I can be. Do
believe it, and be friends, for I want one very much ? "
cried Anna, forgetting every thing but the desire to re-
establish herself in his good opinion. As she spoke,
she turned her face toward the light and half extended
her hand, as if to claim and hold the old regard that
seemed about to be withdrawn from her.
Frank bent a little and scanned the upturned face
with a keen glance. It flushed in me moonlight and
the lips trembled like an anxious child's ; but the eyes
met his with a look both proud and wistful, candid and
sweet, a look few saw in those lovely eyes, or, once
seeing, ever forgot. Frank gave a little nod, as if
satisfied, and said, with that perplexing smile of his,
" Most people would see only the beautiful Miss West,
in a remarkably pretty gown; but I think I catch a
glimpse of little Anna, and I am very glad of it. You
64 ANNA'S WHIM.
want a friend? Very good. I'll do my best for you;
but you must take me as I am, thorns and all."
" I will, and not mind if they wound sometimes.
I 've had roses till I'm tired of them, in spite of their
As he spoke, Frank had taken the hand she offered,
and, having gravely shaken it, held the " white wonder"
for an instant, glancing from the little blisters on thi
delicate palm to the rings that shone on several fingers.
"Are you reading my fortune?" asked Anna, won-
dering if he was going to be sentimental and kiss it.
" After a fashion ; for I am looking to see if there
is a suspicious diamond anywhere about. Isn't it time
there was one?"
"That is not a question for you to ask;" and Anna
caught away her hand, as if one of the thorns he spoke
of had suddenly pricked.
" Why not ? We always used to tell each other
every thing ; and, if we are to go on in the old friendly
way, we must be confidential and comfortable, you
"You can begin yourself then, and I'll see how I
like it," said Anna, aroused and interested, in spite of
her maidenly scruples about the new arrangement.
" I will, with all my heart. To own the truth, I've
been longing to tell you something ; but I wasn't sure
that you'd take any interest in it," began Frank, eating
rose-leaves with interesting embarrassment.
" I can imagine what it is," said Anna, quickly, while
her heart began to flutter curiously, for these confidences
were becoming exciting. " You have found your fate,
and are dying to let everybody know how happy you
ANNA'S WHIM. 65
"I think I have. But I'm not happy yet. I'm
desperately anxious, for I cannot decide whether it ia
a wise or foolish choice."
"Who is it?"
" Never mind the name. I haven't spoken yet, and
perhaps never shall ; so I may as well keep that to my-
self, for the present, at least."
" Tell me what you like then, and I will ask no more
questions," said Anna, coldly; for this masculine dis-
cretion annoyed her.
" Well, you see, this dear girl is pretty, rich, accom-
plished, and admired. A little spoilt, in fact ; but very
captivating, in spite of it. Now, the doubt in my mind
is whether it is wise to woo a wife of this sort ; for I
know I shall want a companion in all things, not only
a pretty sweetheart or a graceful mistress for my house."
" I should say it was not wise," began Anna, decidedly
then hastened to add, more quietly : " But perhaps you
only see one side of this girl's character. She may have
much strength and sweetness hidden away under her
gay manner, waiting to be called out when the right
" I often think so myself, and long to learn if I am
the man ; but some frivolous act, thoughtless word, or
fashionable folly on her part dampens my ardor, and
makes me feel as if I had better go elsewhere before
it is too late."
" You are not madly in love, then?"
"Not yet; but I should be if I saw much of her, for
when I do I rather lose my head, and am tempted to
fall upon my knees, regardless of time, place, and con-
60 ANNA'S WHIM.
Frank spoke with sudden love and longing in his
voice, and stretched out his arms so suggestively that,
Anna started. But he contented himself with gather-
ing a rose from the clusters that hung all about, and
Anna slapped an imaginary mosquito as energetically
as if it had been the unknown lady, for whom she felt
a sudden and inexplicable dislike.
" So you think I'd better not say to my love, like the
mad gentleman to Mrs. Nickleby, ' Be mine, be mine ' ? "
was Frank's next question, as he sat with his nose luxu-
riously buried in the fragrant heart of the rose.
" Decidedly not. I'm sure, from the way you speak
of her, that she is not worthy of you ; and your passioc
cannot be very deep if you can quote Dickens's nonsense
at such a moment," said Anna, more cheerfully.
" It grows rapidly, I find ; and I give you my word >
if I should pass a week in the society of that lovely
butterfly, it would be all over with me by Saturday
" Then don't do it."
" Ah ! but I want to desperately. Do say that I may,
just for a last nibble at temptation, before I take your
advice and go back to my bachelor life again," he
" Don't go back, love somebody else, and be happy.
There are plenty of superior women in the world who
would be just the thing for you. I am sure you are
going to be a man of mark, and you must have a good
wife, not a silly little creature, who will be a clog
upon you all your life. So do take my advice, and let
me help you, if I can."
Anna spoke earnestly, and her face quite shone with
ANNA'S WHIM. 67
friendly zeal ; while her eyes were full of unspoken ad-
miration and regard for this friend, who seemed totter-
ing on the verge of a precipice. She expected a serious
reply, thanks, at least, for her interest ; and great waa
her surprise to see Frank lean back against the vine-
wreathed pillar behind him, and laugh till a shower c
rose-leaves came fluttering down on both their heads.
"I don't see any cause for such unseemly merriment,"
was her dignified reproof of this new impropriety.
" I beg your pardon. I really couldn't help it, for
the comical contrast between your sage counsels and
your blooming face upset me. Your manner was quite
maternal and most impressive, till I looked at you in
your French finery, and then it was all up with me,"
said Frank, penitently, though his eyes still danced
The compliment appeased Anna's anger ; and, folding
her round white arms on the railing in front of her, she
looked up at him with a laugh as blithe as his own.
" I dare say I was absurdly sober and important ; but
you see it is so long since I have had a really serious
thought in my head or felt a really sincere interest in
any one's affairs but my own that I overdid the matter.
If you don't care for my advice, I'll take it all back; and
you can go and marry your butterfly as soon as you
" I rather think I shall," said Frank, slowly. " For
I fancy she has got a hidden self, as you suggested, and
I'd rather like to find it out. One judges people so
much by externals that it is not fair. Now, you, for
instance, if you won't mind my saying it, don't show
half your good points j and a casual observer would
68 ANNA'S WHIM.
consider you merely a fashionable woman, lovely, but
"As you did the last time we met," put in Anna^
If she expected him to deny it, she was mistaken
for he answered, with provoking candor,
" Exactly. And I quite grieved about it ; for I used
to be very fond of my little playmate and thought
Bhe'd make a fine woman. I'm glad I've seen you
again; for I find I was unjust in my first judgment,
and this discovery gives me hope that I may have been
mistaken in the same way about my well, we'll say
sweetheart. It's a pretty old word and I like it."
" If he only would forget that creature a minute and
talk about something more interesting ! " sighed Anna
to herself. But she answered, meekly enough : " I knew
you were disappointed in me, and I did not wonder
for I am not good for much, thanks to my foolish edu-
cation and the life I have led these last few years. But
I do sincerely wish to be more of a woman, only I have
no one to tell me how. Everybody flatters me and"
" I don't ! " cried Frank, promptly.
"That's true." And Anna could not help laughing
in the middle of her confessions at the tone of virtuous
satisfaction with which he repelled the accusation.
" No," she continued, " you are honest enough for any
one ; and I like it, though it startles me now and then,
it is so new."
"I hope I'm not disrespectful," said Frank, busily
removing the thorns from the stem of his flower.
" Oh, no ! Not that exactly. But you treat me very
much as if I was a sister or a masculine friend."
ANNA'S WHIM. 69
Anna meant to quote the expression Clara had re-
ported ; but somehow the word " wife " was hard to
utter, and she finished the sentence differently.
"And you don't like it?" asked Frank, lifting the
rose to hide the mischievous smile that lurked about
"Yes, I do, infinitely better than the sentimental
homage other men pay me or the hackneyed rubbish
they talk. It does me good to be a little neglected ;
and I don't mind it from you, because you more than
atone for it by talking to me as if I could understand
a man's mind and had one of my own."
" Then you don't quite detest me for my rough ways
and egotistical confidences?" asked Frank, as if sud-
denly smitten with remorse for the small sins of the day.
"No, I rather fancy it, for it seems like old times,
when you and I played together. Only then I could
help you in many ways, as you helped me ; but now I
don't seem to know any thing, and can be of no use to
you or any one else. I should like to be ; and I think,
if you would kindly tell me what books to read, what
people to know, and what faculties to cultivate, I might
become something besides ' a fashionable woman, lovely
but shallow.' :
There was a little quiver of emotion in Anna's voice
as she uttered the last words that did not escape her
companion's quick ear. But he only smiled a look of
heartfelt satisfaction to the rose, and answered soberly.
" Now that is a capital idea, and I'll do it with pleas-
ure. I have often wondered how you bright girls could
be contented with such an empty sort of life. We
fellows are just as foolish for a time, I know, far worse
70 ANNA'S WHIM.
in tlib crops of wild oats we sow ; but we have to pull
up and go to work, and that makes men of us. Mar-
riage ought to do that for women, I suppose ; but it
doesn't seem to nowadays, and I do pity you poor little
things from the bottom of my heart."
" I'm ready now to ' pull up and go to work.' Show
me how, Frank, and I'll change your pity into respect,"
said Anna, casting off her lace shawl, as if preparing for
immediate action ; for his tone of masculine superiority
rathei nettled her.
" Come, I'll make a bargain with you. I'll give you
something strong and solid to brace up your mind, and
in return you shall polish my manners, see to my
morals, and keep my heart from wasting itself on false
idols. Shall we do this for one another, Anna?"
" Yes, Frank," she answered heartily. Then, as
Clara was seen approaching, she added playfully, " All
this is sub rosa, you understand."
He handed her the flower without a word, as if the
emblem of silence was the best gage he could offer.
Many flowers had been presented to the beauty ; but
none were kept so long and carefully as the thornless
rose her old friend gave her, with a cordial smile that
warmed her heart.
A great deal can happen in a week, and the seveu
days that followed that moonlight tete-a-tete seemed to
Anna the fullest and the happiest she had ever known.
She had never worked so hard in her life ; for her new
tutor gave her plenty to do, and she studied in secret
to supply sundry deficiencies which she was too proud
to confess. No more novels now; no more sentimental
poetry, lounging in a hammock. She sat erect upon a
ANNA'S WHIM. 71
hard rock and read Buckle, Mill, and Social Science Re-
ports with a diligence that appalled the banished daw-
dlers who usually helped her kill time. There was early
boating, vigorous horse exercise, and tramps over hill
and dale, from which she returned dusty, brown, and
tired, but as happy as if she had discovered something
fairer and grander than wild flowers or the ocean in its
changeful moods. There were afternoon concerts in
the breezy drawing-rooms, when others were enjoying
siestas, and Anna sang to her one listener as she had
never suno; before. But best of all were the moonlight
seances among the roses ; for there they interchanged
interesting confidences and hovered about those dan-
gerous but delightful topics that need the magic of a
midsummer night to make the charm quite perfect.
Anna intended to do her part honorably ; but soon
forgot to correct her pupil's manners, she was so busy
taking care of his heart. She presently discovered that
he treated other women in the usual way ; and at first
it annoyed her that she was the only one whom he
allowed to pick up her own fan, walk without an arm,
row, ride, and take care of herself as if she was a man.
But she also discovered that she was the only woman
to whom he talked as to an equal, in whom he seemed
to find sympathy, inspiration, and help, and for whom
he frankly showed not admiration alone, but respect,
confidence, and affection.
This made the loss of a little surface courtesy too
trifling for complaint or reproof; this stimulated and
delighted her ; and, in striving to deserve and secure
it, she forgot every thing else, prouder to be one inan'l
true friend than the idol of a dozen lovers.
72 ANNA'S WHIM.
What the effect of this new league was upon the
other party was less evident ; for, being of the unde-
monstrative sex, he kept his observations, discoveries,
and satisfaction to himself, with no sign of especial
interest, except now and then a rapturous allusion to
his sweetheart, as if absence was increasing his passion
Anna tried to quench his ardor, feeling sure, she said
that it was a mistake to lavish so much love upon a
person who was so entirely unworthy of it. But Frank
seemed blind on this one point ; and Anna suffered
many a pang, as day after day showed her some new
virtue, grace, or talent in this perverse man, who
seemed bent on throwing his valuable self away. She
endeavored to forget it, avoided the subject as muck
as possible, and ignored the existence of this incon
venient being entirely. But as the week drew to an
end a secret trouble looked out at her eyes, a secret
unrest possessed her, and every moment seemed to
grow more precious as it passed, each full of a bitter
sweet delight never known before.
" I must be off to-morrow," said Frank, on the Sat-
urday evening, as they strolled together on the beach,
while the sun set gloriously and the great waves broke
musically on the sands.
" Such a short holiday, after all those months of
work!" answered Anna, looking away, lest he should
see how wistful her tell-tale eyes were,
" I may take a longer holiday, the happiest a man
can have, if somebody will go with me. Anna, I've
made up my mind to try my fate," he added impetu-
" I have warned you , I can do no more." Which
ANNA'S WHIM. 73
was quite true, for the poor girl's heart sunk at his
words, and for a moment all the golden sky was a blur
before her eyes.
"I won't be warned, thank you; for I'm quite sure
now that I love her. Nothing like absence to settle
that point. I've tried it, and I can't get on without
her ; so I'm going to ' put my fortune to the touch and
win or lose it all.' '
" If you truly love her, I hope you will win, and find
her the wife you deserve. But think well before you
put your happiness into any woman's hands," said
Anna, bravely trying to forget herself.
" Bless you ! I've hardly thought of any thing else
this week! I've enjoyed myself, though ; and am very
grateful to you for making my visit so pleasant," Frank
"Have I? I'm so glad!" said Anna, as simply as
a pleased child ; for real love had banished all her small
coquetries, vanities, and affectations, as sunshine absorbs
the mists that hide a lovely landscape.
" Indeed, you have. All the teaching has not been
on my side, I assure you ; and I'm not too proud to own
my obligation to a woman. We lonely fellows, who
have neither mother, sister, nor wife, need some gentle
soul to keep us from getting selfish, hard, and worldly ;
and few are so fortunate as I in having a friend like
" Oh, Frank ! what have I done for you ? I haven't
dared to teach one so much wiser and stronger than
myself. I've only wanted to, and grieved because I
was so ignorant, so weak, and silly," cried Anna, glow-
ing beautifully with surprise and pleasure at this un
74 ANNA'S WHIM.
"Your humility blinded you; yet your unconscious*
ness was half the charm. I'll tell you what you did,
dear. A man's moral sense gets blunted knocking
about this rough-and-tumble world, where the favor:t
maxim is, 'Every man for himself and the Devil take
the hindmost.' It is so with me ; and in many of our
cor versations on various subjects, while I seemed to be
teaching you, your innocent integrity was rebuking my
worldly wisdom, your subtle instincts were pointing
out the right which is above all policy, your womanly
charity softening my hard judgments, and your simple
faith in the good, the beautiful, the truly brave waa
waking up the high and happy beliefs that lay, not
dead, but sleeping, in my soul. All this you did for
me, Anna, and even more; for, in showing me the hid-
den side of your nature, I found it so sweet and deep
and worshipful that it restores my faith in womankind,
and shows me all the lovely possibilities that may lie
folded up under the frivolous exterior of a fashionable
Anna's heart was so full she could not speak for a
moment; then like a dash of cold water came the
thought, "And all this that I have done has only put
him further from me, since it has given him courage to
love and trust that woman." She tried to show only
pleasure at his praise ; but for the life of her she could
not keef. a tone of bitterness out of her voice as she
" You are too kind, Frank. I can hardly believe that
I have so many virtues; but if I have, and they, like
yours, have been asleep, remember you helped wake
them up, and so you owe me nothing Keep your
ANNA'S WHIM. 75
sweet speeches for the lady you go to woo. I am con-
tented with honest words that do not flatter."
" You shall have them ; " and a quick smile passed
over Frank's face, as if he knew what thorn pricked
her just then, and was not ill pleased at the discovery.
" Only, if I lose my sweetheart, I may be sure that my
old friend won't desert me ? " he asked, with a sincere
anxiety that was a balm to Anna's sore heart.
She did not speak, but offered him her hand with
a look which said much. He took it as silently, and,
holding it in a firm, warm grasp, led her up to a cleft
in the rocks, where they often sat to watch the great
breakers thunder in. As she took her seat, he folded
his plaid about her so tenderly that it felt like a friendly
arm shielding her from the fresh gale that blew up from
the sea. It was an unusual attention on his part, and
coming just then it affected her so curiously that, when
he lounged down beside her, she felt a strong desire to
..ay her head on his shoulder and sob out,
" Don't go and leave me ! No one loves you half as
well as I, or needs you half so much!"
Of course, she did nothing of the sort ; but began to
sing, as she covertly whisked away a rebellious tear.
Frank soon interrupted her music, however, by a heavy
sigh ; and followed up that demonstration with the
" Anna, I've got something awful to tell you."
" What is it ? " she asked, with the resignation of one
who has already heard the worst.
" It is so bad that I can't look you in the face while
I tell it. Listen calmly till I am done, and then pitch
me overboard if you like, for I deserve it," was his
7 6 ANNA'S WHIM.
" Go on." And Anna prepared herself to receive
gome tremendous shock with masculine firmness.
Frank pulled his hat over his eyes, and, looking
away from her, said rapidly, with an odd sound in his
" The night I came I was put in a room opening on
the back piazza ; and, lying there to rest and cool after
my journey, I heard two ladies talking. I knocked my
boots about to let them know I was near ; but they took
no notice, so I listened. Most women's gabble would
have sent me to sleep in five minutes ; but this was
rather original, and interested me, especially when I
found by the names mentioned that I knew one of the
parties. I've been trying your experiment all the week.
Anna, how do you like it?"
She did not answer for a moment, being absorbed in
swift retrospection. Then she colored to her hat-brim,
looked angry, hurt, amused, gratified, and ashamed, all
in a minute, and said slowly, as she met his laughing
" Better than I thought I should."
" That's good ! Then you forgive me for my eaves-
dropping, my rudeness, and manifold iniquities? It
was abominable ; but I could not resist the temptation
ol testing your sincerity. It was great fun; but I'm
not sure that I shall not get the worst of it, after all,"
maid Frank, sobering suddenly.
" You have played so many jokes upon me in old
times that I don't find it hard to forgive this one;
though I think it rather base in you to deceive me so.
Still, as I have enjoyed and got a good deal out of it,
I don't complain, and won't send you overboard yet,"
said Anna, generously.
ANNA'S WHIM. 11
" You always were a forgiving angel." And Frank
settled the plaid again more tenderly than before.
" It was this, then, that made you so brusque to me
alone, so odd and careless? I could not understand it
end it hurt me at first ; but I thought it was because we
had been children together and soon forgot it, you were
go kind and confidential, so helpful and straightforward.
It teas 'great fun,' for I always knew you meant what
you said ; and that was an unspeakable comfort to me
in this world of flattery and falsehood. Yes, you may
laugh at me, Frank, and leave me to myself again. I
can bear it, for I've proved that my whim was a possi-
bility. I see my way now, and can go on alone to a
truer, happier life than that in which you found me."
She spoke out bravely, and looked above the level
sands and beyond the restless sea, as if she had found
something worth living for and did not fear the future.
Frank watched her an instant, for her face had nevei
worn so noble an expression before. Sorrow as well
as strength had come into the lovely features, and pain
as well as patience touched them with new beauty.
His own face changed as he looked, as if he let loose
some de^p and tender sentiment, long held in check, now
ready to rise and claim its own.
"Anna," he said penitently, "I've got one other ter-
rible confession to make, and then my conscience will
be clear. I want to tell you who my sweetheart is.
Here's her picture. Will you look at it?"
She gave a little shiver, turned steadily, and looked
where he pointed. But all she saw was her own aston-
ished face reflected in the shallow pool behind them.
One glance at Frank made any explanation needless;
78 ANNA'S WHIM.
indeed, there was no time for her to speak before some-
thing closer than the plaid enfolded her, something
warmer than tears touched her cheek, and a voice
sweeter to her than wind or wave whispered tenderly
in her ear,
" All this week I have been studying and enjoying
far more than you ; for I have read a woman's heart and
learned to trust and honor what I have loved ever since I
was a boy. Absence proved this to me : so I came to
look for little Anna, and found her better and dearer
than ever. May I ask her to keep on teaching me?
Will she share my work as well as holiday, and be the
truest friend a man can have ? "
And Anna straightway answered, " Yes. "
TRANSCENDENTAL WILD OATS.
A CHAPTER FROM AN UNWRITTEN ROMANCE.
ON the first day of June, 184-, a large wagon, drawn
by a small horse and containing a motley load,
went lumbering over certain New England hills, with
the pleasing accompaniments of wind, rain, and hail.
A serene man with a serene child upon his knee was
driving, or rather being driven, for the small horse had
it all his own way. A brown boy with a William Penn
style of countenance sat beside him, firmly embracing a
bust of Socrates. Behind them was an energetic-looking
woman, with a benevolent brow, satirical mouth, and
eyes brimful of hope and courage. A baby reposed
upon her lap, a mirror leaned against her knee, and a
basket of provisions danced about at her feet, as she
struggled with a large, unruly umbrella. Two blue-
eyed little girls, with hands full of childish treasures,
sat under one old shawl, chatting happily together.
In front of this lively party stalked a tall, sharp-
featured man, in a long blue cloak ; and a fourth small
girl trudged along beside him through the mud as if
she rather enjoyed it.
The wind whistled over the bleak hills ; the rain fell
in a despondent drizzle, and twilight began to fall. But
the calm man gazed as tranquilly into the fog as if he
80 TRANSCENDENTAL WILD OATS.
beheld a radiant bow of promise spanning the gray sky
The cheery woman tried to cover every one but herself
with the big umbrella. The brown boy pillowed his
head on the bald pate of Socrates and slumbered peace-
fully. The little girls sang lullabies to their dolls in
soft, maternal murmurs. The sharp-nosed pedestrian
marched steadily on, with the blue cloak streaming out
behind him like a banner ; and the lively infant splashed
through the puddles with a duck-like satisfaction pleas-
ant to behold.
Thus these modern pilgrims journeyed hopefully out
of the old world, to found a new one in the wilderness.
The editors of " The Transcendental Tripod " had re-
ceived from Messrs. Lion & Lamb (two of the aforesaid
pilgrims) a communication from which the following
statement is an extract :
" We have made arrangements with the proprietor
of an estate of about a hundred acres which liberates
this tract from human ownership. Here we shall prose-
cute our effort to initiate a Family in harmony with the
primitive instincts of man.
" Ordinary secular farming is not our object. Fruit,
grain, pulse, herbs, flax, and other vegetable products,
receiving assiduous attention, will afford ample manual
occupation, and chaste supplies for the bodily needs.
It is intended to adorn the pastures with orchards, and
to supersede the labor of cattle by the spade and the
" Consecrated to human freedom, the land awaits the
sober culture of devoted men. Beginning with small
pecuniary means, this enterprise must be rooted in a
reliance on the succors of an ever-bounteous Providence,
TRANSCENDENTAL WILD OATS. 81
whose vital affinities being secured by this union with
un corrupted field and unworldly persons, the cares and
injuries of a life of gain are avoided.
" The inner nature of each member of the Family is
at no time neglected. Our plan contemplates all such
disciplines, cultures, and habits as evidently conduce to
the purifying of the inmates.
"Pledged to the spirit alone, the founders anticipate
no hasty or numerous addition to their numbers. The
kingdom of peace is entered only through the gates of
self-denial; and felicity is the test and the reward of
loyalty to the unswerving law of Love."
This prospective Eden at present consisted of an old
red farm-house, a dilapidated barn, many acres of
meadow-land, and a grove. Ten ancient apple-trees
were all the " chaste supply " which the place offered as
yet ; but, in the firm belief that plenteous orchards
were soon to be evoked from their inner consciousness,
these sanguine founders had christened their domain
Here Timon Lion intended to found a colony of
Latter Day Saints, who, under his patriarchal sway,
should regenerate the world and glorify his name for
ever. Here Abel Lamb, with the devoutest faith in
the high ideal which was to him a living truth, desired
to plant a Paradise, where Beauty, Virtue, Justice, and
Love might live happily together, without the possi-
bility of a serpent entering in. And here his wife, un-
converted but faithful to the end, hoped, after many
wanderings over the face of the earth, to find rest for
herself and a home for her children.
" There is our new abode," announced the enthusiast,
82 TRANSCENDENTAL WILD OATS.
smiling with a satisfaction quite undamped by the drops
dripping from his hat-brim, as they turned at length
into a cart-path that wound along a steep hillside into
a barren-looking valley.
" A little difficult of access," observed his practical
wife, as she endeavored to keep her various household
gods from going overboard with every lurch of the
"Like all good things. But those who earnestly
desire and patiently seek will soon find us," placidly
responded the philosopher from the mud, through which
he was now endeavoring to pilot the much-enduring
" Truth lies at the bottom of a well, Sister Hope,"
said Brother Timon, pausing to detach his small com-
rade from a gate, whereon she was perched for a clearer
gaze into futurity.
" That's the reason we so seldom get at it, I sup-
pose," replied Mrs. Hope, making a vain clutch at the
mirror, which a sudden jolt sent flying out of her
"We want no false reflections here," said Timon,
with a grim smile, as he crunched the fragments under
foot in his onward march.
Sister Hope held her peace, and looked wistfully
through the mist at her promised home. The old red
house with a hospitable glimmer at its windows cheered
her eyes; and, considering the weather, was a fitter
refuge than the sylvan bowers some of the inoie ar-
dent souls might have preferred.
The new-comers were welcomed by one of the elect
precious, a regenerate farmer, whose idea of reform
TRANSCENDENTAL WILD OATS. 83
consisted chiefly in wearing white cotton raiment and
shoes of untanned leather. This costume, with a snowy
beard, gave him a venerable, and at the same time a
somewhat bridal appearance.
The goods and chattels of the Society not having
arrived, the weary family reposed before the fire on
blocks of wood, while Brother Moses White regaled
them with roasted potatoes, brown bread and water,
in two plates, a tin pan, and one mug; his table ser-
vice being limited. But, having cast the forms and
vanities of a depraved world behind them, the elders
welcomed hardship with the enthusiasm of new pio-
neers, and the children heartily enjoyed this foretaste
of what they believed was to be a sort of perpetual
During the progress of this frugal meal, two more
brothers appeared. One a dark, melancholy man, clad
in homespun, whose peculiar mission was to turn his
name hind part before and use as few words as possi-
ble. The other was a bland, bearded Englishman, who
expected to be saved by eating uncooked food and
going without clothes. He had not yet adopted the
primitive costume, however; but contented himself
with meditatively chewing dry beans out of a basket.
" Every meal should be a sacrament, and the vessels
used should be beautiful and symbolical," observed
Brother Lamb, mildly, righting the tin pan slipping
about on his knees. "I priced a silver service when in
town, but it was too costly ; so I got some graceful
cups and vases of Britannia ware."
"Hardest things in the world to keep bright. Will
whiting be allowed in the community?" inquired
84 TRANSCENDENTAL WILD OATS.
Sister Hope, with a housewife's interest in labor-saving
" Such trivial questions will be discussed at a mor*
fitting time," answered Brother Timon, sharply, as 1><*
burnt his fingers with a very hot potato. "Neithei
sugar, molasses, milk, butter, cheese, nor flesh are to bo
used among us, for nothing is to be admitted which has
caused wrong or death to man or beast."
" Our garments are to be linen till we learn to raise
our own cotton or some substitute for woollen fabrics,"
added Brother Abel, blissfully basking in an imaginary
future as warm and brilliant as the generous fire before
" Haou abaout shoes ? " asked Brother Moses, sur-
veying his own with interest.
" We must yield that point till we can manufacture
an innocent substitute for leather. Bark, wood, or some
durable fabric will be invented in time. Meanwhilej
those who desire to carry out our idea to the fullest
extent can go barefooted," said Lion, who liked extreme
" I never will, nor let my girls," murmured rebellious
Sister Hope, under her breath.
" Haou do you cattle'ate to treat the ten-acre lot ?
Ef things ain't 'tended to right smart, we shan't hev no
crops," observed the practical patriarch in cotton.
'' We shall spade it," replied Abel, in such perfect
good faith that Moses said no more, though he indulged
in a shake of the head as he glanced at hands that had
iield nothing heavier than a pen for years. He was a
paternal old soul and regarded the younger men as
promising boys on a new sort of lark.
TRANSCENDENTAL WILD OATS. 85
"What shall we do for lamps, if we cannot use any
animal substance ? 1 do hope light of some sort is to
he thrown upon the enterprise," said Mrs. Lamb, with
anxiety, for in those days kerosene and camphene were
not, and gas unknown in the wilderness.
" We shall go without till we have discovered some
vegetable oil or wax to serve us," replied Brother
Timon, in a decided tone, which caused Sister Hope to
resolve that her private lamp should be always trimmed,
if not burning.
" Each member is to perform the work for which
experience, strength, and taste best fit him," continued
Dictator Lion. u Thus drudgery and disorder will be
avoided and harmony prevail. We shall rise at dawn,
begin the day by bathing, followed by music, and then
a chaste repast of fruit and bread. Each one finds con-
genial occupation till the meridian meal ; when some
deep-searching conversation gives rest to the body and
development to the mind. Healthful labor again en-
gages us till the last meal, when we assemble in social
communion, prolonged till sunset, when we retire to
sweet repose, ready for the next day's activity."
"What part of the work do you incline to yourself?"
asked Sister Hope, with a humorous glimmer in hei
" I shall wait till it is made clear to me. Beinsr in
preference to doing is the great aim, and this comes t
us rather by a resigned willingness than a wilful activ-
ity, which is a check to all divine growth," responded
" I thought so." And Mrs. Lamb sighed audibly, for
during the, year he had spent in her family Bi other
86 TRANSCENDENTAL WILD OATS.
Tiinon had so faithfully carried out his idea of " being,
not doing," that she had found his " divine growth "
both an expensive and unsatisfactory process.
Here her husband struck into the conversation, his
face shining with the light and joy of the splendid
dreams and high ideals hovering before him.
" In these steps of reform, we do not rely so much
on scientific reasoning or physiological skill as on the
Bpirit's dictates. The greater part of man's duty con-
sists in leaving alone much that he now does. Shall I
stimulate with tea, coffee, or wine ? No. Shall I con-
sume flesh? Not if I value health. Shall I subjugate
Battle ? Shall I claim property in any created thing ?
Shall I trade ? Shall I adopt a form of religion ? Shall
I interest myself in politics? To how many of these
questions could we ask them deeply enough and
could they be heard as having relation to our eternal
welfare would the response be ' Abstain ' ? "
A mild snore seemed to echo the last word of Abel's
rhapsody, for Brother Moses had succumbed to mun-
dane slumber and sat nodding like a massive ghost.
Forest Absalom, the silent man, and John Pease, the
English member, now departed to the barn ; and Mrs.
Lamb led her flock to a temporary fold, leaving the
founders of the " Cousociate Family '' to build castles
in the air till the fire went out and the symposium
ended in smoke.
The furniture arrived next day, and was soon be-
stowed ; for the principal property of the community
consisted in books. To this rare library was devoted
the bost room in the house, and the few busts and pict-
ures that still survived many Sittings were added to
TRANSCENDENTAL WILD OATS. 87
beautify the sanctuary, for here the family was to meet
for amusement, instruction, and worship.
Any housewife can imagine the emotions of Sister
Hope, when she took possession of a large, dilapidated
kitchen, containing an old stove and the peculiar stores
out of which food was to be evolved for her little
family of eleven. Cakes of maple sugar, dried peas and
beans, barley and hominy, meal of all sorts, potatoes,
and dried fruit. No milk, butter, cheese, tea, or meat,
appeared. Even salt was considered a useless luxury
and spice entirely forbidden by these lovers of Spartan
simplicity. A ten years' experience of vegetarian vaga-
ries had been good training for this new freak, and her
sense of the ludicrous supported her through many try-
Unleavened bread, porridge, and water for breakfast \
bread, vegetables, and water for dinner; bread, fruit,
and water for supper was the bill of fare ordained by
the elders. No teapot profaned that sacred stove, no
gory steak cried aloud for vengeance from her chaste
gridiron ; and only a brave woman's taste, time, and
temper were sacrificed on that domestic altar.
The vexed question of light was settled by buying
a quantity of bayberry wax for candles ; and, on dis-
covering that no one knew how to make them, pine
knots were introduced, to be used when absolutely
necessary. Being summer, the evenings were not long,
and the weary fraternity found it no great hardship to
retire with the birds. The inner liojht was sufficient
for most of them. But Mrs. Lamb rebelled. Evening
was the only time she had to herself, and while the
tired feet rested the skilful hands mended torn frocks
88 TRANSCENDENTAL WILD OATS.
and little stockings, or anxious heart forgot its burden
in a book.
So " mother's lamp " burned steadily, while the
philosophers built a new heaven and earth by moon-
light ; and through all the metaphysical mists and phil-
anthropic pyrotechnics of that period Sister Hope
played her own little game of " throwing light," and
none but the moths were the worse for it.
Such farming probably was never seen before since
Adam delved. The band of brothers began by spading
garden and field ; but a few days of it lessened their
ardor amazingly. Blistered hands and aching backs
suggested the expediency of permitting the use of
cattle till the workers were better fitted for noble toil
by a summer of the new life.
Brother Moses brought a yoke of oxen from his
farm, at least, the philosophers thought so till it was
discovered that one of the animals was a cow; and
Moses confessed that he " must be let down easy, for he
couldn't live on garden sarse entirely."
. Great was Dictator Lion's indignation at this lapse
from virtue. But time pressed, the work must be
done ; so the meek cow was permitted to wear the
yoke and the recreant brother continued to enjoy for-
bidden draughts in the barn, which dark proceeding
caused the children to regard him as one set apart for
The sowing was equally peculiar, for, owing to some
mistake, the three brethren, who devoted themselves to
this graceful task, found when about half through the
job that each had been sowing a different sort of grain
in tb<2 same field ; a mistake which caused much per-
TRANSCENDENTAL WILD 'JATS. 89
plexity, as it could not be remedied ; but, after a long
consultation and a good deal of laughter, it was de-
cided to say nothing and see what would come of it.
The garden was planted with a generous supply of
useful roots arid herbs; but, as manure was not allowed
to profane the virgin soil, few of these vegetable treas-
ures ever came up. Purslane reigned supreme, and the
disappointed planters ate it philosophically, deciding
that Nature knew what was best for them, and would
generously supply their needs, if they could only learn
tu digest her "sallets" and wild roots.
The orchard was laid out, a little grafting done, new
trees and vines set, regardless of the unfit season and
entire ignorance of the husbandmen, who honestly
believed that in the autumn they would reap a boun
Slowly things got into order, and rapidly rumors of
the new experiment went abroad, causing many strange
spirits to flock thither, for in those days communities
were the fashion and transcendentalism raged wildly.
Some came to look on and laugh, some to be supported
in poetic idleness, a few to believe sincerely and work
heartily. Each member was allowed to mount his
favorite hobby and ride it to his heart's content. Very
queer were some of the riders, and very rampant some
of the hobbies.
One youth, believing that language was of little
consequence if the spirit was only right, startled
new-comers by blandly greeting them with "good-
morning, damn you," and other remarks of an equally
mixed order. A second irrepressible being held
that all the emotions of the soul should be freely ex-
90 TRANSCENDENTAL WILD OATS.
pressed, and illustrated his theory by antics that would
have sent him to a lunatic asylum, if, as an un regen-
erate wag said, he had not already been in one. When
his spirit soared, he climbed trees and shouted ; when
doubt assailed him, he lay upon the floor and groaned
lamentably. At joyful periods, he raced, leaped, and
sang ; when sad, he wept aloud ; and when a great
thought burst upon him in the watches of the night,
he crowed like a jocund cockerel, to the great delight
of the children and the great annoyance of the elders.
One musical brother fiddled whenever so moved, sang
sentimentally to the four little girls, and put a music-
box on the wall when he hoed corn.
Brother Pease ground away at his uncooked food, or
browsed over the farm on sorrel, mint, green fruit, and
new vegetables. Occasionally he took his walks abroad,
airily attired in an unbleached cotton poncho, which
was the nearest approach to the primeval costume he
was allowed to indulge in. At midsummer he retired
to the wilderness, to try his plan where the woodchucks
were without prejudices and huckleberry-bushes were
hospitably full. A sunstroke unfortunately spoilt his
plan, and he returned to semi-civilization a sadder and
Forest Absalom preserved his Pythagorean silence,
cultivated his fine dark locks, and worked like a beaver,
getting an excellent example of brotherly love, justice,
and fidelity by his upright life, He it was who helped
overworked Sister Hope with her heavy washes,
kneaded the endless succession of batches of bread,
watched over the children, and did the many tasks left
undone by the brethren, who were so busy discussing
TRANSCENDENTAL WILD OATS. 91
and defining great duties that they foigot to perform
the small ones.
Moses White placidly plodded about, "chorin*
raound," as he called it, looking like an old-time patri-
arch, with his silver hair and flowing beard, and saving
the community from many a mishap by his thrift and
Brother Lion domineered over the whole concern ;
for, having put the most money into the speculation, he
was resolved to make it pay, as if any thing founded
on an ideal basis could be expected to do so by any but
Abel Lamb simply revelled in the Newness, firmly
believing that his dream was to be beautifully realized,
and in time not only little Fruitlands, but the whole
earth, be turned into a Happy Valley. He worked
with every muscle of his body, for he was in deadly
earnest. He taught with his whole head and heart ;
planned and sacrificed, preached and prophesied, with a
soul full of the purest aspirations, most unselfish pur-
poses, and desires for a life devoted to God and man,
too high and tender to bear the rough usage of this
It was a little remarkable that only one woman ever
joined this community. Mrs. Lamb merely followed
wheresoever her husband led, " as ballast for his
balloon," as she said, in her bright way.
Miss Jane Gage was a stout lady of mature years,
sentimental, amiable, and lazy. She wrote verses co-
piously, and had vague yearnings and graspings after
the unknown, which led her to believe herself fitted
for a higher sphere than any she had yet adorned.
92 TRANSCENDENTAL WILD OATS.
Having been a teacher, she was set to instructing the
children in the common branches. Each adult mem-
ber took a turn at the infants; and, as each taught in
his own way, the result was a chronic state of chaos in
the minds of these much-afflicted innocents.
Sleep, food, and poetic musings were the desires of
dear Jane's life, and she shirked all duties as clogs upon
her spirit's wings. Any thought of lending a hand
with the domestic drudgery never occurred to her;
and when to the question, " Are there any beasts of
burden on the place?" Mrs. Lamb answered, with a
face that told its own tale, " Only one woman ! " the
buxom Jane took no shame to herself, but laughed at
the joke, and let the stout-hearted sister tug on alone.
Unfortunately, the poor lady hankered after the flesh-
pots, and endeavored to stay herself with private sips
of milk, crackers, and cheese, and on one dire occasion
she partook of fish at a neighbor's table.
One of the children reported this sad lapse from
virtue, and poor Jane was publicly reprimanded by
**I only took a little bit of the tail," sobbed the
" Yes, but the whole fish had to be tortured and slain
that you might tempt your carnal appetite with that
one taste of the tail. Know ye not, consumers of flesh
meat, that ye are nourishing the wolf and tiger in your
bosoms ? "
At this awful question and the peal of laughter which
arose from some of the younger brethren, tickled by
the ludicrous contrast between the stout sinner, the
stern judge, and the naughty satisfaction of the yonng
TRANSCENDENTAL WILD OATS. 93
detective, poor Jane fled from the room to pack her
trunk, and return to a world where fishes' tails were
not forbidden fruit.
Transcendental wild oats were sown broadcast that
year, and the fame thereof- has not yet ceased in the
land ; for, futile as this crop seemed to outsiders, it bore
an invisible harvest, worth much to those who planted
in earnest. As none of the members of this particular
community have ever recounted their experiences be-
fore, a few of them may not be amiss, since the interest
in these attempts has never died out and Fruitlands
was the most ideal of all these castles in Spain.
A new dress was invented, since cotton, silk, and
wool were forbidden as the product of slave-labor,
worm-slaughter, and sheep-robbery. Tunics and trow-
sers of brown linen were the only wear. The women's
skirts were longer, and their straw hat-brims wider than
the men's, and this was the only difference. Some per-
secution lent a charm to the costume, and the long-
haired, linen-clad reformers quite enjoyed the mild
martyrdom they endured when they left home.
Money was abjured, as the root of all evil. The
produce of the land was to supply most of their wants,
or be exchanged for the few things they could not
grow. This idea had its inconveniences ; but self-
denial was the fashion, and it was surprising how many
things one can do without. When they desired to
travel, they walked, if possible, begged the loan of a
vehicle, or boldly entered car or coach, and, stating
their principles to the officials, took the consequences.
Usually their dress, their earnest frankness, and gentle
resolution won them a passage j but now and then the?
94 TRANSCENDENTAL WILD OATS.
met with hard usage, and had the satisfaction of suffer-
ing for their principles.
On one of these penniless pilgrimages they took pas-
sage on a boat, and, when fare was demanded, artlessly
offered to talk, instead of pay. As the boat was well
under way and they actually had not a cent, there
was no help for it. So Brothers Lion and Lamb held
forth to the assembled passengers in their most elo-
quent style. There must have been something effec-
tive in this conversation, for the listeners were moved
to take up a contribution for these inspired lunatics,
who preached peace on earth and good-will to man so
earnestly, with empty pockets. A goodly sum was col-
lected ; but when the captain presented it the reformers
proved that they were consistent even in their mad-
ness, for not a penny would they accept, saying, with
a look at the group about them, whose indifference or
contempt had changed to interest and respect, " You
see how well we get on without money ; " and so went
serenely on their way, with their linen blouses flapping
airily in the cold October wind.
They preached vegetarianism everywhere and re-
sisted all temptations of the flesh, contentedly eating
apples and bread at well-spread tables, and much afflict-
ing hospitable hostesses by denouncing their food and
taking away their appetites, discussing the " horrors of
shambles," the "incorporation of the brute in man,"
and " on elegant abstinence the sign of a pure soul."
But, when the perplexed or offended ladies asked what
they should eat, they got in reply a bill of fare consist-
ing of " bowls of sunrise for breakfast," " solar seeds
of the sphere," " dishes from Plutarch's chaste table,"
TBANSCENDENTAL WILD OATS. 95
and other viands equally hard to find in any modern
Reform conventions of all sorts were haunted by
these brethren, who said many wise things and did
many foolish ones. "C n fortunately, these wanderings
interfered with their harvest at home ; but the rule was
to do what the spirit moved, so they left their crops to
Providence and went a-renping in wider and, let us
hope, more fruitful fields than their own.
Luckily, the earthly providence who watched over
Abel Lamb was at hand to glean the scanty crop
yielded by the " uncorrupted land," which, " consecrated
to human freedom," had received " the sober culture
of devout men."
About the time the grain was ready to house, some
call of the Oversoul wafted all the men away. An
easterly storm was coming up and the yellow stacks
were sure to be ruined. Then Sister Hope gathered
her forces. Three little girls, one boy (Timon's son),
and herself, harnessed to clothes-baskets and Russia-
linen sheets, were the only teams she could command ;
but with these poor appliances the indomitable woman
got in the grain and saved food for her young, with
the instinct and energy of a mother-bird with a brood
of hungry nestlings to feed.
This attempt at regeneration had its tragic as well afl
comic side, though the world only saw the former.
With the first frosts, the butterflies, who had sunned
themselves in the new light through the summer, took
flight, leaving the few bees to see what honey they had
stored for winter use. Precious little appeared beyond
the satisfaction of a few months of holy living.
96 TRANSCENDENTAL WILD OATS.
At first it seemed as if a chance to try holy dying also
was to be offered them. Tiraon, much disgusted with
the failure of the scheme, decided to retire to the Shakers,
who seemed to be the only successful community going.
" What is to become of us ? " asked Mrs. Hope, for
Abel was heart-broken at the bursting of his lovely
" You can stay here, if you like, till a tenant is found.
No more wood must be cut, however, and no more corn
ground. All I have must be sold to pay the debts of
the concern, as the responsibility rests with me," was
the cheering reply.
" Who is to pay us for what we have lost ? I gave all
I had, furniture, time, strength, six months of my
children's lives, and all are wasted. Abel gave him-
self body and soul, and is almost wrecked by hard work
and disappointment. Are we to have no return for this,
but leave to starve and freeze in an old house, with
winter at hand, no money, and hardly a friend left,
for this wild scheme has alienated nearly all we had.
You talk much about justice. Let us have a little,
since there is nothing else left."
But the woman's appeal met with no reply but the
old one : " It was an experiment. We all risked some-
thing, and must bear oui losses as we can."
With this cold comfort, Timon departed with his son,
and was absorbed into the Shaker brotherhood, where
he soon found that the order of things was reversed,
and it was all work and no play.
Then the tragedy began for the forsaken little family.
Desolation and despair fell upon Abel. As his wife
said, his new beliefs had alienated many friends. Some
TRANSCENDENTAL WILD OATS. 9t
thought him mad, some unprincipled. Even the most
kindly thought him a visionary, whom it was useless to
help till he took more practical views of life. All stood
aloof, saying: " Let him work out his own ideas, and
see what they are worth."
He had tried, but it was a failure. The world was
not ready for Utopia yet, and those who attempted to
found it only got laughed at for their pains. In other
days, men could sell all and give to the poor, lead lives
devoted to holiness and high thought, and, after the
persecution was over, find themselves honored as saints
or martyrs. But in modern times these things are out
of fashion. To live for one's principles, at all costs, is
a dangerous speculation ; and the failure of an ideal, no
matter how humane and noble, is harder for the world
to forgive and forget than bank robbery or the grand
swindles of corrupt politicians.
Deep waters now for Abel, and for a time there
seemed no passage through. Strength and spirits were
exhausted by hard work and too much thought. Cour-
age failed when, looking about for help, he saw no
sympathizing face, no hand outstretched to help him,
no voice to say cheerily,
"We all make mistakes, and it takes many experi-
ences to shape a life. Try again, and let us help you."
Every door was closed, every eye averted, every
heart cold, and no way open whereby he might earn
bread for his children. His principles would not permit
him to do many things that others did ; and in the few
fields where conscience would allow him to work, who
would employ a man who had flown in the face oi
society, as he had done ?
98 TRANSCENDENTAL WILD OATS.
Then this dreamer, whose dream was the life of his
life, resolved to carry out his idea to the bitter end.
There seemed no place for him here, no work, no
friend. To go begging conditions was as ignoble as
to go begging money. Better perish of want than sell
one's soul for the sustenance of his body. Silently he
lay down upon his bed, turned his face to the wall, and
waited with pathetic patience for death to cut the knot
which he could not untie. Days and nights went by,
and neither food nor water passed his lips. Soul and
body were dumbly struggling together, and no word of
complaint betrayed what either suffered.
His wife, when tears and prayers were unavailing,
sat down to wait the end with a mysterious awe and
submission ; for in this entire resignation of all things
there was an eloquent significance to her who knew him
as no other human being did.
" Leave all to God," was his belief; and in this crisis
the lovinsr soul clung to this faith, sure that the All-
O C2 9
wise Father would not desert this child who tried to
live so near to Him. Gathering her children about her,
she waited the issue of the tragedy that was being en-
acted in that solitary room, while the first snow fell out-
side, untrodden by the footprints of a single friend.
But the strong angels who sustain and teach per-
plexed and troubled souls came and went, leaving no
trace without, but working miracles within. For, when
all other sentiments had faded into dimness, all other
hopes died utterly; when the bitterness of death was
nearly over, when body was past any pang of hunger or
thirst, and soul stood ready to depart, the love that out-
lives all else refused to die. Head had bowed to defeat,
TllASSCEXDENTAL WILD OATS. 99
hand had grown weary with too heavy tasks, but heart
could not UTOW cold to those who lived in its tender
depths, even when death touched it.
" My faithful wife, my little girls, they have not
forsaken me, they are mine by ties that none can break.
What rio-ht have I to leave them alone? What right
to escape from the burden and the sorrow I have helped
to bring ? This duty remains to me, and I must do it
manfully. For their sakes, the world will forgive me
in time ; for their sakes, God will sustain me now."
Too feeble to rise, Abel groped for the food that
always lay within his reach, and in the darkness and
solitude of that memorable night ate and drank what
was to him the bread and wine of a new communion, a
new dedication of heart and life to the duties that were
left him when the dreams fled.
In the early dawn, when that sad wife crept fearfully
to see what change had come to the patient face on the
pillow, she found it smiling at her, saw a wasted hand
outstretched to her, and heard a feeble voice cry
What passed in that little room is not to be recorded
except in the hearts of those who suffered and endured
much for love's sake. Enough for us to know that soon
the wan shadow of a man came forth, leaning on the arm
that never failed him, to be welcomed and cherished by
the children, who never forgot the experiences of that
" Hope " was the watchword now ; and, while the last
logs blazed on the hearth, the last bread and apples cov-
ered the table, the new commander, with recovered
courage, said to her husband,
100 TRANSCENDENTAL WILD OATS
" Leave all to God and me. He has done his part
now I will do mine."
" But we have no money, dear."
" Yes, we have. I sold all we could spare, and have
enough to take us away from this snowbank."
" Where can we go ? "
" I have engaged four rooms at our good neighbor,
Lovejoy's. There we can live cheaply till spring. Then
for new plans and a home of our own, please God."
" But, Hope, your little store won't last long, and we
have no friends. "
" I can sew and you can chop wood. Lovejoy offers
you the same pay as he gives his other men ; my old
friend, Mrs. Truman, will send me all the work I want ;
and rny blessed brother stands by us to the end. Cheer
up, dear heart, for while there is work and love in the
world we shall not suffer."
" And while I have my good angel Hope, I shall not
despair, even if I wait another thirty years before I step
beyond the circle of the sacred little world in which I
Btill have a place to fill."
So one bleak December day, with their few possessions
piled on an ox-sled, the rosy children perched atop, and
the parents trudging arm in arm behind, the exiles left
their Eden and faced the world again.
" Ah, me ! my happy dream. How much I leave
behind that never can be mine again," said Abel, looking
back at the lost Paradise, lying white and chill in its
shroud of snow.
" Yes, dear ; but how much we bring away," answered
brave-hearted Hope, glancing from husband to children.
" Pooi Fruitlands ! The name was as great a failure
TRANSCENDENTAL WILD OATS. 101
as the rest ! " continued Abel, with a sigh, as a frost-
bitten apple fell from a leafless bough at his feet.
But the sigh changed to a smile as his wife added, in
a half-tender, half-satirical tone,
"Don't you think Apple Slump would be a better
name for it, dear ? "
THE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAY.
" T T THAT shall- we do about Rose ? We have tried
V V Saratoga, and that failed to cheer her up ; we
tried the sea-shore, and that failed ; now we have tried
the mountains, and they are going to fail, like the rest.
See if your woman's wit can't devise something to help
the child, Milly."
" Time and tenderness will work the cure ; and she
will be all the better for this experience, I hope."
" So do I. But I don't pretend to understand these
nervous ailments; so, if air, exercise, and change of
scene don't cure the vapors, I give it up. Girls didn't
have such worries in my day."
And the old gentleman shook his head, as if modern
ills perplexed him very much.
But Milly smiled the slow, wise smile of one who
had learned much from experience ; among other
things, the wisdom of leaving certain troubles to cure
" Has the child expressed a wish for any thing ? If
eo, out with it, and she shall be gratified, if it can be
done," began Uncle Ben, after a moment of silence, as
they sat watching the moonlight, that glorified the
" The last wish is one that we can easily gratify, if
you don't mind the fatigue. Tha restless spirit that
THE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAY. 103
possesses her keeps suggesting new things. Much exer-
cise does her good, and is an excellent way to work off
this unrest. She likes to tire herself out; for then she
sleeps, poor dear."
"Well, well, what does the poor dear want to do?"
asked Uncle Ben, quickly.
" She said to-day that, instead of going off on excur-
sions, as we have been doing, she would like to stroll
away some pleasant morning, and follow the road
wherever it led, finding and enjoying any little advent-
ures that might come along, as Richter's heroes do."
" Yes, I see : white butterflies, morning red, disguised
counts, philosophic plowmen, and all the rest of the
romantic rubbish. Bless the child, does she expect to
find things of that sort anywhere out of a German
novel ? "
"Plenty of butterflies and morning-glories, uncle,
and a girl's imagination will supply the romance. Per-
haps we can get up some little surprise to add flavor to
our day's adventures," said Hilly, who rather favored
the plan, for much romance still lay hidden in that quiet
heart of hers.
" Where shall we go? What shall we do? I don't
know how this sort of thing is managed."
" Do nothing but follow us. Let her choose her road ;
and we will merely see that she has food and rest, pro-
tection, and as much pleasure as we can make for her
out of such simple materials. Having her own way
will gratify her, and a day in the open air do her good.
Shall we try it, sir?"
" With all my heart, if the fancy lasts till morning,
I'll have some lunch put up, and order Jim to dawdle
lOi TEE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAT
after us with the wagon full of waterproofs, and so on,
in case we break down. I rather like the idea, now I
fairly take it in." And Uncle Ben quite beamed with
interest and good-will ; for a kinder-hearted man never
breathed, and, in spite of his fifty years, he was as fond
of adventures as any boy.
" Then, as we must be up and away very early, I'll
say good-night, sir," and Milly rose to go, looking well
satisfied with the success of her su^o'estion.
" Good-night, my dear," and Uncle Ben rose also,
flung away his cigar, and offered his hand with the old-
fashioned courtesy which he always showed his niece's
friend ; for Milly only called him uncle to please him.
" You are sure this wild whim won't be too much foi
you? You are such a self-sacrificing soul, I'm afraid
my girl will wear you out," he said, looking down at
her with a fatherly expression, very becoming to hia
" Not a bit, sir. I like it, and would gladly do any
thing to please and help Rose. I'm very fond of her,
and love to pet and care for her. I'm so alone in the
world I cling to my few friends, and feel as if I couldn't
do enough for them."
Something in Milly's face made Uncle Ben hold her
hand close in both of his a moment, and look as if he
was going to stoop and kiss her. But he seemed to
think better of it; for he only shook the soft hand
warmly, and said, in his hearty tone,
" I don't know what we should do without you, my
dear. You are one of the women born to help and
comfort others, and ask no reward but love."
As the first streaks of dawn touched the eastern sky
THE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAY. 105
three faces appeared at three different windows of the
great hotel. One was a masculine face, a ruddy, benevo-
lent countenance, with kind eyes, grayish hair cheer-
fully erect upon the head, and a smile on the lips, that
softly whistled the old air of
" A southerly wind and a cloudy sky
Proclaim a hunting morning."
The second was one of those serene, sweet faces,
possessing an attraction more subtle than beauty ; eyes
always full of silent sympathy, a little wistful some-
times, but never sad, and an expression of peace and
patience that told of battles fought and victories won.
A happy, helpful soul shone from that face and made it
lovely, though its first bloom was past and a solitary
future lay before it.
The third was rich in the charms that youth and
health lend any countenance. But, in spite of the
bloom on the rounded cheeks, the freshness of the lips,
and the soft beauty of the eyes, the face that looked out
from the bonny brown hair, blowing in the wind, was
not a happy one. Discontent, unrest, and a secret hun-
ger seemed to sadden and sharpen all its outlines, mak-
ing it pathetic to those who could read the language of
an unsatisfied heart.
Poor little Rose was waiting, as all women must
wait, for the good gift that brightens life ; and, while
she waited, patience and passion were having a hard
fight in the proud silence of her heart.
" It will be a capital day, girls," called Uncle Ben,
in his cheery voice.
" I thought it would be," answered Milly, nodding
back, with a smile.
106 TEE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAT.
" I know it will pour before night," added Rose, who
saw every thing just then through blue spectacles.
"Breakfast is ready for us. Come on, girls, or you'll
miss your morning red," called Uncle Ben, retiring,
with a laugh.
" I lost mine six months ago," sighed Rose, as she
listlessly gathered up the brown curls, that were once
" Hark ! hark ! the lark at Heaven's gate sings,"
sounded from Milly's room, in her blithe voice.
" Tiresome little bird ! Why don't he stay in his
nest and cheer his mate ? " muttered Rose, refusing to
" Now lead on, my dear, we'll follow till we drop,"
said Uncle Ben, stoutly, as they stood on the piazza,
half an hour later, with no one but a sleepy waiter to
watch and wonder at the early start.
" I have always wondered where that lonely road
went to, and now I shall find out," answered Rose, with
an imperious little gesture, as she led the way. The
others followed so slowly that she felt alone, and
enjoyed it, in spite of herself.
It was the most eloquent hour of the day, for all was
beautiful, all was fresh ; nothing was out of order,
nothing disturbed eye or ear, and the world seemed to
welcome her with its morning face. The road wound
between forests full of the green gloom no artist can
ever paint. Pines whispered, birches quivered, maples
dropped grateful shadows, and a little river foamed and
sparkled by, carrying its melodious message from the
mountains to the sea. Glimpses of hoary peaks broke
on her now and then, dappled with shadows or half-
THE EOMANCE OF A SUMMER DAT. 107
veiled in mists, floating and fading like incense from
altars fit for a cathedral not built with hands. Leafy
vistas opened temptingly on either side, berries blushed
ripely in the grass, cow-bells tinkled pleasantly along
the hillsides, and that busy little farmer, the " Peabody
bird," cried from tree to tree, " Sow your wheat, Pea-
body ! Peabody ! Peabody ! " with such musical energy
one ceased to wonder that fields were wrested from
the forest, to wave like green and golden breast-knots
on the bosoms of the hills.
The fresh beauty and the healthful peace of the hour
refreshed the girl like dew. The human rose lifted up
her drooping head and smiled back at the blithe sun-
shine, as if she found the world a pleasant place, in
spite of her own thorns. Presently a yellow butterfly
came wandering by ; and she watched it as she walked,
pleasing herself with the girlish fancy that it was a
symbol of herself.
At first it fluttered idly from side to side, now light-
ing on a purple thistle-top, then away to swing on a
dewy fern; now vanishing among the low-hanging
boughs overhead, then settling in the dust of the road,
where a ray of light glorified its golden wings, unmind-
ful of its lowly seat.
" Little Psyche is looking for her Cupid everywhere,
as I have looked for mine. I wonder if she ever found
and lost him, as I did? If she does find him again, I'll
accept it as a good omen."
Full of this fancy, Rose walked quickly after her airy
guide, leaving her comrades far behind. Some tender-
hearted spirit surely led that butterfly, for it never
wandered far away, but floated steadily before the girl,
108 TEE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAY,
till it came at last to a wild rose-bush, full of delicate
blossoms. Above it a cloud of yellow butterflies were
dancing in the sun ; and from among them one flew
to meet and welcome the new-comer. Together they
fluttered round the rosy flowers for a moment, then
rose in graceful circles, till they vanished in the wood.
Rose followed them with eyes that slowly dimmed
with happy tears, for the innocent soul accepted the
omen and believed it gratefully.
" He will come," she said softly to herself, as she
fastened a knot of wild roses in her bosom and sat
down to rest and wait.
" Tired out, little girl ? " asked Uncle Ben, coming
up at a great pace, rather amazed at this sudden burst
of energy, but glad to see it.
" No, indeed ! It was lovely ! " and Rose looked up
with a brighter face than she had worn for weeks.
" Upon my word, I think we have hit upon the right
thing at last," said Uncle Ben, aside, to Milly. " What
have you been doing to get such a look as that?" he
" Chasing butterflies," was all the answer Rose gave ;
for she could not tell the foolish little fancy that had
comforted her so much.
" Then, my dear, I beg you will devote yourself to
that amusement. I never heard it recommended, but
it seems to be immensely beneficial ; so keep it up,
Rosy, keep it up."
" I will, sir," and on went Rose, as if in search of
For an hour or two she strolled along the woody
road, gathering red raspberries, with the dew still on
TEE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAT. 109
them, garlanding her hat with fragrant Linnaea wreaths,
watching the brown brooks go singing away into the
forest, and wishing the little wood creatures good-mor-
row, as they went fearlessly to and fro, busy with their
sylvan housekeeping. At every turn of the road Rose's
wistful eyes looked forward, as if hoping to see some
much-desired figure approaching. At every sound of
eteps she lifted her head like a deer, listening and
watching till the stranger had gone by; and down
every green vista she sent longing looks, as if memory
recalled happy hours in green nooks like those.
Presently the road wound over a bridge, below which
flowed a wide, smooth river, flecked with alternate sun
" How beautiful it is ! I must float down this stream
a little way. It is getting warm and I am tired, yet
don't want to stop or turn back yet," said Rose ; add-
ing, as her quick eye roved to and fro : " I see a boat
down there, and a lazy man reading. I'll hire or bor-
row it ; so come on."
Away she went into the meadow, and, accosting the
countryman, who lay in the shade, she made her request.
" I get my livin' in summer by rowin' folks down to
the Falls. It ain't fur. Will you go, Miss?" he said,
smiling all over his brown face, as he regarded the
pretty vision that so suddenly appeared beside him.
Rose accepted the proposition at once ; but halt
regretted it a minute after, for, as the man rose, she
saw that he had a wooden leg.
" I'm afraid we shall be too heavy a load for you," she
began, as he stumped about, preparing his boat.
The young fellow laughed and squared his broad
110 THE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAY.
shoulders, with a quick look, that thanked her for the
pitiful glance she gave him, as he answered, in a bluff,
" Don't be afraid. I could row a dozen of you. I
look rather the worse for wear; but ray old mother
thinks I'm about the strongest man in the State. Now,
then, give us your hand, Miss, and there you are."
With that he helped her in. The others obediently
followed their capricious leader, and in a moment they
were floating down the river, with a fresh wind cooling
their hot faces.
"You have been in the army, I take it ?" began
Unc 1 ^ Ben, in his social way, as he watched the man
pulling with long, easy strokes.
"Pretty nigh through the war, sir," with a nod and a
glance at the wooden leg.
Uncle Ben lifted his hat, and Rose turned with a
sudden interest from the far-off bend of the river to the
honest face before her.
" Oh ! tell us about it. I love to hear brave men fight
their battles over," she cried, with a look half pleading,
half commanding, and wholly charming.
" Sho ! It ain't much to tell. No more than the rest
of 'em ; not so much as some. I done my best, lost my
leg, got a few bullets here and there, and ain't much use
any way now."
A shadow passed over the man's face as he spoke;
and well it might, for it was hard to be disabled at
twenty-five with a long life of partial helplessness before
him. Uncle Ben, who was steering, forgot his duty in
his sympathy, and regarded the wooden leg with silent
THE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAT. Ill
Milly showed hers by keeping the mosquitoes off him
by gently waving a green bough, as she sat behind him.
But Rose's soft eyes shone upon him full of persuasive
interest, and a new tone of respect was in her voice as
she said, with a martial salute,
" Please tell about your last battle. I had a cousin
in the war, and feel as if every soldier was my friend and
comrade since then."
" Thanky, Miss. I'll tell you that with pleasury,
though it ain't much, any way." And, pushing back
his hat, the young man rested on his oars, as he rapidly
told his little tale.
"My last battle was ," naming one of the latest
and bloodiest of the war. " We were doing our best,
when there came a shell and scattered half-a-dozen of us
pretty lively. I was knocked flat. But I didn't feel
hurt, only mad, and jumped up to hit 'em agin; but just
dropped, with an awful wrench, and the feeling that
both my legs was gone."
" Did no one stop to help you ? "cried Rose.
" Too busy for that, Miss. The boys can't stop to
pick up their mates when there are Rebs ahead to be
knocked down. I knew there was no more fio-htinor for
me ; and just laid still, with the balls singing round me,
and wondering where they'd hit next."
" How did you feel ? " questioned the girl, eagerly.
"Dreadful busy at first; for every thing I'd ever said,
seen, or done, seemed to go spinning through my head,
till I got so dizzy trying to keep my wits stiddy that
I lost 'em altogether. I didn't find 'em accain till some
one laid hold of me. Two of our boys were luggin' me
along back; but they had to dodge behind walls and
112 THE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAY.
cut up and down, for the scrimmage was going on all
round us. One of the fellers was hit in the shoulder and
the other in the face, but not bad ; and they managed to
get me into a sort of a ravine, out of danger. There I
begged 'em to leave me. I thought I was bleeding to
ieath rapid, and just wanted to die in peace."
" But they didn't leave you ? " And Rose's face was
all alive with interest now.
" Guess they didn't," answered the man, giving a
stroke or two, and looking as if he found it pleasant to
tell his story to so winsome a listener. " Just as they
were at their wit's end what to do with me, we come
upon a young surgeon, lurking there to watch the fight
or to hide, don't know which. There he was any way,
looking scared half to death. Tom Hunt, my mate, made
him stop and look at me. My leg was smashed, and
ought to come off right away, he said. ' Do it, then ! '
says Tom. He was one of your rough-and-readys,
Tom was ; but at heart as kind as a well, as a
And the boatman gave a smile and a nod at the one
"Thanks; but do tell on. It is so interesting."
And Rose let all her flowers stray down into the
bottom of the boat, as she clasped her hands and leaned
forward to listen.
" Don't know as I'd better tell this part. It ain't
pleasant," began the man.
"You must. I want it all. Dreadful things do me
good, and other people's sufferings teach me how to bear
my own," said Rose, in her imperious way.
" You don't look as if you ought to have any."
THE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAT. 113
And the man's eyes rested on the delicate face oppo-
site, full of a pleasant blending of admiration, pity, and
" I have ; but not like yours. Go on, please."
" Well, if you say so, here goes. The surgeon was
worried, and said he couldn't do nothing, hadn't got
ins instruments, and so on. ' Yes, you have. Out with
em,' says Tom, rapping on a case he sees in the chap's
breast-pocket. ' Can't do it without bandages,' he says
next. ' Here they are, and more where they came
from,' says Tom ; and off came his shirt-sleeves, and was
stripped up in a jiffy. ' I must have help,' says that con-
founded surgeon, dawdling round, and me groaning my
life out at his feet. 'Here's help, lots of it,' says
Tom, taking my head on his arm ; while Parkes tied
up his wounded face and stood ready to lend a hand.
Seeing no way out of it, the surgeon went to work.
Good Lord, but that ivas awful ! "
The mere memory of it made the speaker shut his
eyes with a shiver, as if he felt again the sharp agony
of shattered bones, rent flesh, and pitiless knife.
"Never mind that. Tell how you got comfortable
again," said Milly, shaking her head at Rose.
" I wasn't comfortable for three months, ma'am.
Don't mind telling about it, 'cause Tom done so well,
and I'm proud of him," said the rower, with kindling eyes.
" Things of that sort are hard enough done well, with
chloroform and every thing handy. But laying on the
bare ground, with nothing right, and a scared boy of a
surgeon hacking away at you, it's torment and no mis-
take. I never could have stood it, if it hadn't been for
Tom. He held me close and as steady as a rock ; but he
114 TEE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAT.
cried like a baby the whole time, and that did me good,
Don't know why ; but it did. As for Parkes, he gave
out at once and went off for help. I'll never forget
that place, if I live to be a hundred. Seems as if 1
could see the very grass I tore up ; the muddy brook
they laid me by ; the steep bank, with Parkes creeping
up ; Tom's face, wet and white, but so full of pity ; the
Burgeon, with his red hands ; and all the while such a
roar of guns I could hardly hear myself groaning for
Borne one to shoot me and put me out of my misery."
"How did you get to the hospital?" asked Uncle
Ben, anxious to get over this part of the story, for Rose
was now as pale as if she actually saw the scene de-
" Don't know, sir. There come a time when I couldn't
bear any more, and what happened then I've never been
very clear about. I didn't know much for a day or two ;
then I was brought round by being put in a transport.
I was packed with a lot of poor fellows, and was begin-
ning to wish I'd stayed queer, till I heard Tom's voice
saying, ' Never mind, boys ; put me down anywheres,
and tend to the others. I can wait.' That set me up.
I sung out, and they stowed him alongside. It was so
dark down there I could hardly see his face ; but his
voice and ways were just as hearty and comforting as
ever, and he kept up my spirits wonderful that day. [
was pretty weak, and kept dozing off; but whenever I
woke I felt for Tom, and he was always there. He
told me, when Parkes came with help, he saw me off,
and then went back for another go at the Rebs ; but got
a ball in the breast, and was in rather a bad way, he
guessed. He couldn't lay down; but sat by me, lean-
THE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAY. 115
back, with his hand on my pillow, where I could
find it easy. He talked to me all he could, till hia
voice give out ; for he got very weak, and there was a
dreadful groaning all around us."
"I know, I know. I went aboard one of those tran-
sports to help ; but couldn't stay, it was so terrible,"
said Uncle Ben, with a groan at the mere memory
" That was a long day, and I thought it was my last ;
for when night came I felt so gone I reckoned I was
'most over Jordan. I gave my watch to Tom as a
keepsake, and told him to say good-by to the boys
for me. I hadn't any folks of my own, so it wasn't hard
to go. Tom had a sweetheart, an old mother, and lots
of friends ; but he didn't repine a word, only said :
4 If you do pull through, Joel, just tell mother I done
my best, and give Hetty my love.' I, promised, and
dropped asleep, holding on to Tom as if he was my
sheet-anenor. So he was ; but I can't tell all he done*
for me in different ways."
For a minute Joel rowed in silence, and no one asked
u question. Then he pushed up his old hat again, and
went on, as if anxious to be done.
" Soon's ever I woke, next morning, I looked round
to thank Tom, for his blanket was over me. He was
sitting as I left him, his hand on my pillow, his face
toward me, so quiet and happy-looking I couldn't
believe he was gone. But he was, and I have had no
" Where did he live ? " asked Rose, as softly as if
speaking of one she had known and loved.
"Over yonder." And Joel pointed to a little brown
house on the hillside.
116 THE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAT.
" Are his mother and Hetty there ? "
"Hetty married a number of years ago; but the old
lady is there."
"And you are visiting her?"
" I live with her. You see Tom was all she had ;
and, when Hetty left, it was only natural that I tried
to take Tom's place. Can't never fill it of course ; but
I do what I can, and she's comfortable."
"So she is the 'old mother' who thinks so much
of you? Well she may," said Rose, giving him her
" Yes, she's all I've got now. Couldn't do no less,
could I, seein' how much Tom done for me ? " answered
the man, with a momentary quiver of emotion in his
" You're a trump ! " said Uncle Ben, emphatically.
" Thanky, sir. Starboard, if you please. I don't
care to get into the rapids just here."
Joel seemed to dislike telling this part of the story ;
but the three listeners beamed upon him with such ap-
proving faces that he took to his oars in self-defence,
rowing with all his might, till the roar of the Fall was
" Now, where shall I land you, sir ? "
" Let us lunch on the island," proposed Rose.
" I see a tent, and fancy some one is camping there,"
" A lot of young fellows have been there this three
days," said Joel.
" Then we will go on, and take to the grove above
the Fall," ordered Uncle Ben.
Alas! alas! for Rose. That decision delayed her
THE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAY. 117
happiness a whole half day ; for on that island, luxuri-
ously reading " The Lotus Eaters," as he lay in the
long grass, was the Gabriel this modern Evangeline
was waiting for. She never dreamed he was so near.
And the brown-bearded student never lifted up his
head as the boat floated by, carrying the lady of hia
"1 want to give him more than his fare. So I shall
slip my cigar-case into the pocket of this coat," whis-
pered Uncle Ben, as Joel was busy drawing up the
boat and o;ettin2f a stone or two to facilitate the ladies'
" I shall leave my book for him. He was poring over
an old newspaper, as if hungry for reading. The dash
and daring of ' John Brent ' will charm him ; and the
sketch of Winthrop's life in the beginning will add to
its value, I know." And, hastily scribbling his name
in it, Rose slipped the book under the coat.
But Milly, seeing how old that coat was, guessed
that Joel gave his earnings to the old woman to whom
he dutifully played a son's part. Writing on a card
"For Tom's mother and mate," she folded a five-dollar
bill round it, fastened it with a little pearl cross from
her own throat, and laid it in the book.
Then all landed, and, with a cordial hand-shake and
many thanks, left Joel to row away, quite unconscious
that he was a hero in the pretty girl's eyes, till he
found the tokens of his passengers' regard and respect.
"Now that is an adventure after my own heart,"
said Rose, as they rustled along the grassy path toward
the misty cloud that hung over the Fall.
"We have nothing but sandwiches and sherry foi
118 THE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAY.
lunch, unless we find a house and add to our stores,"
said Uncle Ben, beginning to feel hungry and wonder-
ing how far his provisions would go.
" There is a little girl picking berries. Call her and
buy some," suggested Milly, who had her doubts about
the state of the sandwiches, as the knapsack had been
A shout from Uncle Ben caused the little girl to ap-
proach, timidly at first; but, being joined by a boy,
her courage rose, and when the idea of a "trade" waa
impressed upon their minds fear was forgotten and the
" How much a quart? "
"Eight cents, sir."
" But that birch-bark thing is not full."
"Now it is," and the barefooted, tow-headed lad
filled the girl's pannier from his own.
" Here's chivalry for you," said Rose, watching the
children with interest ; for the girl was pretty, and the
boy evidently not her brother.
"You don't pick as fast as she does," said Milly,
while Uncle Ben hunted up the money.
" He's done his stent, and was helpin' me. I'll have
to pick a lot before I git my quarter," said the girl,
defending her friend, in spite of her bashfulness
" Must you each make a quarter ? "
" Yes'm. We don't have to ; but we wanter, so we
can go to the circus that's comin' to-morrer. He made
his'n ketchin' trout ; so he's helpin' me," explained the
" Where do you get your trout ? " asked Uncle Ben,
sniffing the air, as if he already snielt them cooking.
THE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAT. 119
a In the brook. I ain't sold mine yet. Want to buy
'em ? Six big ones for a quarter," said the boy, seeing
hunger in the good man's eye and many greenbacks in
the corpulent purse.
" Yes, if you'll clean them."
" But, Uncle, we can't cook them," began Milly.
"I can. Let an old campaigner alone for getting
ap a gipsy lunch. You wanted a surprise ; so I'll give
you one. Now, Billy, bring on your fish."
"My name is Daniel Webster Butterfield Brown,"
returned the boy, with dignity ; adding, with a comical
change of tone : " Them fish is cleaned, or you'd a got
" Very well. Hand them over."
Off ran the boy to the brook; and the girl was shyly
following, when Rose said,
" Will you sell me that pretty bark pannier of yours ?
I want one for my flowers."
"No'm. I guess I'd ruther not."
" I'll give you a quarter for it. Then you can go to
the circus without working any more."
"Dan made this for me, real careful; and I couldn't
sell it, no way. He wouldn't go without me. And
I'll pick sticldy all day, and git my money. See if I
don't ! " answered the child, hu^o-ino; her treasure close.
1 oo cr '
" Here's your romance in the bud," said Uncle Ben,
fcrying not to laugh.
"It's beautiful! " said Rose, with energy. "What ii
your name, dear?"
" Gusty Medders, please 'm."
"Dan isn't your brother?"
" No 'm. He lives to the poor-house. But he's reaf
120 THE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAT.
smart, and we play together. And him and me is
going to the show. He always takes care o' me ; and
my mother thinks a sight of him, and so do I," re-
turned the child, in a burst of confidence.
" Happy little Gusty ! " said Rose, to herself.
"Thrice happy Dan," added Uncle Ben, producing
the fat pocket-book again, with the evident intention
of bestowing a fortune on the small couple.
" Don't spoil the pretty little romance. Don't rob
it of its self-sacrifice and simplicity. Let them earn
their money. Then they will enjoy it more," cried
Milly, holding his hand.
Uncle Ben submitted, and paid Dan his price, with-
out adding a penny.
" The lady wanted to buy my basket. But I didn't
sell it, Danny ; 'cause you give it as a keepsake," they
heard Gusty say, as the children turned away.
" Good for you, Gus ; but I'll sell mine." And back
came Dan, to dispose of his for the desired quarter.
"Now we're fixed complete, and you needn't pick a
darned berry. We've got fifty cents for the show, and
eight over for peanuts and candy. Won't we have a
good time, though ? "
With which joyful remark Dan turned a somersault,
and then the little pair vanished in the wood, with
ghining faces, to revel in visions of the splendors to
"Now you have got your elephant, what are you
going to do with him?" asked Rose, as they went on
again, she with her pretty basket of fruit, and he
with a string of fish wrapped in leaves.
" Come on a bit, and you will see."
THE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAY. 121
Uncle Ben led them to the shade of a great maple,
on a green slope, in sight of the noisy Fall, leaping
from rock to rock, till the stream went singing away
through wide, green meadows below.
"Now rest and cool yourselves, while I cook the
dinner." And away bustled the good man, on hospi-
table thoughts intent.
Plenty of dry drift-wood lay about the watercourse,
and soon a brisk fire burned on the rocks not far away.
Shingles for plates, with pointed sticks for forks, seemed
quite in keeping with the rustic feast ; and when the
edibles were set forth on leaves the girls were charmed,
and praised the trout, as it came hot from the coals, till
even the flushed cook was satisfied.
" I'd like to live so always. It is so interesting to
pick up your food as you go, and eat it when and where
you like. I think I could be quite happy leading a
wild life like this," said Rose, as she lay in the grass,
dropping berries one by one into her mouth.
" You would soon tire of it, Miss Caprice ; but, if it
u-muses for a single day, I am satisfied," answered
Milly, with her motherly smile, as she stroked the
bright head in her lap, feeling sure that happiness was
in store for so much youth and beauty.
Lulled by the soft caress, and the song of the water-
fall, Rose fell asleep, and for an hour dreamed bliss-
fully, while the maple dropped its shadows on hei
placid face, and all the wholesome influences of the
place worked their healing spell on soul and body.
"A thunder-shower is rolling up in the west, my
dears. We must be getting toward some shelter, un-
less we are to take a drenching as part of the day'*
122 THE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAT.
pleasure," said Uncle Ben, rising briskly after his own
" I see no house anywhere ; but a big barn down in
the intervale, and a crowd of people getting in their
hay. Let us make for that, and lie on the sweet hay-
cocks till the shower comes," proposed Milly.
As they went down the steep pa*u, Rose began to
sing; and at the unwonted sound her uncle and friend
exchanged glances of satisfaction, for not a note had
she sung for weeks. A happy mood seemed to have
taken possession of her; and when they reached the
intervale she won the old farmer's heart by catching up
a rake and working stoutly, till the first heavy drops
began to fall. Then she rode up to the barn on a fra-
grant load, and was so charmed with the place that she
declined his invitation to " Come up and see the old
woman and set a spell," and declared that she depended
on enjoying the thunder-storm where she was.
The farmer and his men went their way, and Rose
was just settling herself at the upper window, where
the hay had been pitched in, when a long line of gay
red vans came rattling down the road, followed by
carriages and gilded cars, elephants and camels, fine
horses and frisky ponies, all more or less excited by the
" It's the circus ! How I wish Gusty and Dan could
Bee it!" cried Rose, clapping her hands like a child.
" I do believe they are coming here. Now that will be
charming, and the best adventure of all," she added, as
a carriage and several vans turned into the grassy road
leading to the barn.
A pair of elephants slowly lumbered after, with a
TEE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAT. 123
camel or two, and the finest gilded car. The rest rat-
tled on, hoping to reach the town in time. In a moment
the quiet country scene was changed, and the big barn
transformed into a theatrical Babel.
Our party retreated to a loft, and sat locking down
on the show, enjoying it heartily ; especially Rose, who
felt as if suddenly translated into an Eastern tale,
The storm came on dark and wild, rain poured, thunder
rolled, and lightning gave lurid glimpses of the strange
The elephants placidly ate hay ; the tired camels lay
down with gusty sighs and queer groanings; but the
lion in his lonely van roared royally at intervals, and
the tigers snarled and tore about their cage like" restless
The great golden car lit up the gloom ; and in it sat,
or lay, the occupants of the carriage, a big, dark man,
and a little blonde creature, with a pretty, tired, painted
face. Rose soon found herself curiously attracted to
this pair, for they were evidently lovers ; and there was
a certain frank, melodramatic air about them that took
her fancy. The dark man lay on the red cushion,
smoking tranquilly ; while the girl hovered about him
with all manner of small attentions. Presently he
seemed to drop asleep, undisturbed by the thunder
without or the clamor within. Then the small creature
smoothed her gay yet shabby dress, and braided up hei
hair, as composedly as if in her own room. That done,
she looked about her for amusement; and, spying
Rose's interested face peering down at her from above,
she nodded, and called out, in a saucy voice,
"How do you like us? Shall I come up and make
you a visit?"
124 THE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAI.
" I beg you will," answered Kose, in spite of a warn
ing touch from Milly.
Up sprang the little circus-rider ; and, disdaining the
ladder, skipped to the gilded dome of the car, and then
took a daring leap on to the loft, landing near them,
with a laucrh.
For a minute she eyed the others with a curious mix.
ture of coolness and hesitation, as if it suddenly struck
her that they were not country girls, to be dazzled by
her audacity.. Milly saw and understood the paus^,
liked the girl for it, and said, as courteously as if to a
lady in her own parlor,
" There is plenty of room for us all. Pray sit down
and enjoy this fine view with us. The storm is passing
over now, and it will soon be fair."
"Thank you!" said the girl, dropping on to the hay,
with her bold, bright eyes, full of admiration, fixed on
Rose, who smiled, and said quickly,
" You V-^long to the troop, I suppose ? "
"Firo A ady rider," replied the girl, with a toss of the
" It must be very romantic to lead such a life, and go
driving from place to place in this way."
" It's a hard life, any way ; and not much romance,
you'd better believe."
"Not even for you" And Rose glanced at the
The girl smiled. Her bold eyes turned to him with
a softened look, and the natural color deepened on her
painted cheeks, as she said, in a lower voice,
"Yes, Joe does make a difference for me. We've
only been married three weeks."
"What does he
THE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAT. 125
" He's the lion-tamer." And the girl gave them a
glance of wifely pride in her husband's prowess.
" Oh ! tell me about it ! " cried Rose. " I admire
courage so much."
"You ought to see him do Daniel in the lion's den,
then. Or his great tiger act, where he piles four of 'em
up, and lays on top. It's just splendid ! "
"But very dangerous! Does he never fear them?
And do they never hurt him?"
"He don't fear any thing in the world," said the
girl, entirely forgetting herself, in enthusiastic praise
of her husband.
" Csesar, the lion, loves him like a dog ; and Joe
vrusts him as he does me. But them tigers are deceit-
ful beasts, and can't be trusted a minute. Judas went
at Joe once, and half killed him. He seems tame
enough now ; but I hate him, for they say that if a
tiger once tastes a man's blood he's sure to kill him
sooner or later. So I don't have a minute's peace when
Joe is in that cage." And the little woman shivered
with very genuine anxiety at the thought of her hus-
" And, knowing this, he runs the risk every day I
What a life!" said Uncle Ben, looking down at the
"A brave life, Uncle, and full of excitement. The
minutes in that cage must be splendid. I wish I could
see him once ! " cried Rose, with the restless look in her
" He'd do it, if he had his things here. He 11 do any
thing I ask him," said the girl, evidently proud of hei
power over the lion-tamer.
126 THE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAY.
" We will come and see him to-morrow. Can't you
tell us how he manages to subdue these wild animals?
I always wanted to know about it," said Rose, wondering
if she could not get some hints for the taming of men.
" Joe '11 tell you." And, calling from her perch, the
girl waked the sleeper and ordered him up to amuse
The big man came, with comical meekness; and,
lounging on the hay, readily answered the questions
showered upon him. Rose enjoyed that hour intensely;
for the tales Joe told were full of wild adventure, hair-
breadth escapes, and feats of strength or skill, that
kept his listeners half breathless with interest. The
presence of the little wife gave an added charm to
these stories ; for it was evident that the tamer of lions
was completely subdued by the small woman. His
brown, scarred face softened as it turned to her.
While he talked, the strong hands that clutched lions
by the throat were softly stroking the blonde head at
his side ; and, when he told of the fierce struggle with
Judas, he grew so eloquent over the account of Kitty's
nursing him that it was plain to see he was prouder of
the conquest of her girl's heart than of his hard-won
victory over the treacherous tiger.
The man's courage lent romance to his vulgar life,
and his love ennobled his whole nature for a time.
Kitty ate peanuts while he thrilled his hearers with his
feats; but her face was so full of pride and affection
all the while that no one minded what she did, and
even Milly forgave the painted cheeks and cotton
velvet dress for the sake of the womanly heart under-
TEE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAY. 127
The storm passed, the circus people bestirred them-
selves, and in a few minutes were on their way again.
Joe and Kitty said " Good-by " as heartily as if that
half-hour had made them friends ; and, packing them
selves into the little carriage drawn by the calico
tandem, dashed away as gayly as if their queer honey,
moon journey had just begun. Like parts of a stage
pageant, the gilded car, the elephants and camels, frisky
ponies, and gay red vans vanished along the winding
road, leaving the old barn to silence and the scandal-
ized swallows twittering among the rafters.
" I feel as if I'd been to an Arabian Night's enter-
tainment," said Rose, as they descended and turned
"It was very interesting, and I do hope that brave
Joe won't get eaten up by the tigers. What would
poor Kitty do ? " returned Milly, warmly.
" It would be sad and dreadful ; but she would have
the comfort of knowing how much he loved her. Some
women don't even have that," added Rose, under her
"A capital fellow and a nice little woman. We'll
go and see them to-morrow ; though I fancy I shall
not like Mrs. Kitty half so well in gauze and spangles,
jumping through hoops and over banners on horseback,
aft I did on the hayloft. And I shall be desperately
anxious till Joe is safely out of the tiger's cage," said
Uncle Ben, who had been as interested as a boy in the
wild tales told them.
For an hour they walked back along the river-side,
enjoying the wood odors brought out by the shower,
the glories of the sunset sky, and the lovely rainbow
128 TEE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAY.
that arched overhead, a bow of promise to those who
seemed passing under it from the old Lfe to a new one,
full of tender promise.
" I see a nice old woman in that kitchen, and I want
to stop and ask for some new milk. Perhaps she will
give us our supper, and then we can go on by moon-
light," said Rose, as they came to a weather-beaten
farm-house, standing under an ancient elm, with ita
door hospitably open, and a grandmotherly figure going
to and fro within.
Rose's request was most graciously received, for the
old woman seemed to regard them as most welcome
cheerers of her solitude, and bustled about with an
infectious cordiality that set them at their ease directly.
"Do tell! Caught in the shower? It come ar
suddin', I mistrusted some folks would get a duckin'.
You kin hev supper jest as wal as not. 'Tain't a mite
o'' trouble, ef you don't mind plain vittles. Enos and
me lives alone, and he ain't no gret of an eater ; but I
allers catle'ate to hev a good store of pervision on hand
this time a year, there's such a sight of strangers round
the mountains. The table's all sot; and I'll jest add a
pinch of tea and a couple of pies, and there we be.
Now draw right up, and do the best you kin."
The cheery old soul was so hospitable that her
presence gave a grace to her homely table and added
flavor to her plain fare. Uncle Ben's eyes twinkled
when he saw dainty Rose eating brown-bread and milk
out of a yellow bowl, with the appetite of a dairy-
maid ; and Milly rejoiced over the happy face opposite,
wishing that it might always wear that self-forgetful
THE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAT.
Enos was a feeble, bed-ridden, old man, who lay iu a
small room opening from the kitchen. A fretful invalid
he seemed to be, hard to suit and much given to com-
plaint. But the tender old wife never lost patience
with him; and it was beautiful to see how cheerfully
she trotted to and fro, trying to gratify every whim,
without a reproachful word or thought of weariness.
After tea, as Rose wanted to wait till moonrise,
Uncle Ben went in to chat with the invalid, while
Milly insisted on wiping the cups for the old lady ; and
Rose sat on the doorstep, listening to their chat, and
watching twilight steal softly up the valley. Presently
her attention was fixed by something the old lady said
in answer to Milly's praises of the quaint kitchen.
" Yes, dear, I've lived here all my days. Was born in
that bed-room; and don't ask no better than to die
there when my time comes."
" Most people are not fortunate enough to keep their
old home when they marry. It must be very dear to
you, having spent both your maiden and married life
here," said Milly, interested in her hostess.
" Wai, you see my maiden life lasted sixty year; and
my married life ain't but jest begun," answered the old
lady, with a laugh as gay as a girl's.
Seeing curiosity in the quick glance Rose involun-
tarily gave her, the chatty old soul went on, as if gossip
was dear to her heart, and her late-coming happiness
still so new that she loved to tell it.
"I s'pose that sounds sing'lar to you young things;
but, you see, though me and Enos was engaged at
twenty or so, we warn't married till two year ago.
Things was dreadful con'try, and we kep a waitin* and
130 THE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAY.
d waitin', till I declare for't I really did think I should
die an old rnaid." And she laughed again, as if her
escape was the best joke in the world.
" And you waited forty years ? " cried Rose, with her
reat eyes full of wonder.
" Yes, dear. I had other chances ; but somehow they
didn't none of them suit, and the more unfort'nate
Enos was the more I kinder held on to him. He was
one of them that's allers tryin' new things, and didn't
never seem to make a fortin out of any on 'em. He
kept a tryin' because he had nothin', and would'nt
marry till he was wal off. My mother was dead, and
left a family to be took care on. I was the oldest gal,
and so I nat'rally kept house for father till he died, and
the children grew up and married off. So I warn't
idle all them years, and got on first-rate, allers hopin'
Enos's luck would turn. But it didn't (them cups goes
in the right-hand corner, dear) ; and so I waited and
waited, and hoped and hoped."
"Oh! how could you? " sighed Rose, from the soft
gloom of the doorway.
" 'Pears to me strength is give us most wonderful to
bear trials, if we take 'em meek. I used to think I
couldn't bear it no way when I was left here alone,
while Enos was in Californy ; and I didn't know for
seven year whether he was dead or alive. His folks
give him up ; but I never did, and kept on hopin' and
prayin' for him till he come back."
" How happy you were then ! " cried Rose, as if she
could sympathize heartily with that joy.
" No, I warn't, dear. That was the hardest part on't ;
for Enos was married to a poor, shiftless thing, that was
a burden to him for ten year."
THE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAY. 13 1
" That was hard," and Rose gave a groan, as if a new
trouble had suddenly come upon her.
" I done my best for 'em, in their ups and downs, till
they went West. Then I settled down to end my days
here alone. My folks was all dead or fur away, and it
was uncommon lonesome. But I kinder cluns: to the
old place, and had it borne in upon me strong that Enos
would turn up agin in time. I wanted him to find me
here, ready to give him a helpin' hand whenever and
however he come."
" And he did, at last ? " asked Rose, with a sympa-
thetic quiver in her voice that went to the old woman's
" Yes, my deary ; he did come at last," she said, in a
voice full of a satisfaction that was almost solemn in its
intensity. " Ruther rnor'n two years ago he knocked at
that door, a poor, broken-down old man, without wife,
or child, or money, or home, nothin' in the wide world
but me. He didn't think I'd take him in, he was so
mis'able. But, Lord love him, what else had I been a
waitin' for them forty year? It warn't the Enos that
I loved fust; but that didn't matter one mite. And
when he sat sobbin' in that chair, and sayin' he had no
friend but me, why I just answered back : ' My home is
your'n, Enos; and I give it jest as hearty as I did when
you fust pupposed, under the laylock bushes, in the back
gar.-lin. Rest here, my poor dear, and let Becky take
care on you till she dies.' "
" So he stayed ? " said Milly, with tears in her voice,
for Rose's head was down on her knees, so eloquent had
been the pathos of that old voice, telling its little tala
of faithful love.
132 THE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAT.
" Certin. And we was married, so no one need make
no talk. Folks said it was a dreadful poor match, and
took on about my doin' on't ; for I'm wal off, and Enoa
hadn't a cent. But we was satisfied, and I ain't never
repented of that day's work ; for he took to his bed
soon after, and won't quit it, the doctor says, till he's
took to his grave."
" You dear soul, I must kiss you for that lovely deed
of yours, and thank you from my heart for this lesson
in fidelity." And, obeying an irresistible impulse, Rose
threw her arms round the old lady's neck, kissing the
wrinkled cheek with real reverence and tenderness.
" Sakes alive ! Wal, I never did see sech a soft-
hearted little creter. Why, child, what I done warn't
nothin' but a pleasure. We women are such queer
things, we don't care how long we wait, ef we only
hev our way at last."
As she spoke, the old woman hugged the blooming
girl with a motherly warmth, most sweet and comforta-
ble to see ; yet the longing look, the lingering touch,
betrayed how much the tender old heart would have
loved to pillow there a child of its own.
Just then Uncle Ben appeared, and the early moon
peeped over the mountain-top, plainly hinting that it
was time for the wanderers to turn homeward. Bidding:
their hospitable hostess good night, they came again
into the woody road, now haunted with soft shadows
and silvery with falling dew. The brown brooks were
singing lullabies, the pines whispering musically in the
wind, the mellow moonlight was falling everywhere,
and the world was full of the magical beauty of a mid
TEE ROMANCE OF A SUMMER DAY. 133
" Go on, please, and let me follow alone. I want to
think over my pleasant day, and finish it with waking
dreams, as I go through this enchanted wood," said
Rose, whose mind was full of sweet yet sober thoughts;
for she had gathered herbs of grace while carelessly
pulling wayside flowers, and from the simple adventures
of the day had unconsciously received lessons that never
The other walked on, and the girl followed, living
over again the happy winter during which she had
learned to know and love the young neighbor who had
become the hero of her dreams. She had felt sure he
loved her, though the modest youth had never told hei
so, except with eloquent glances and tender devotion.
She believed in him, loved him truly, and waited with
maidenly patience to hear the words that would unseal
her lips. They did not come, and he had left her with
no hope but such as she could find in the lingering
pressure of his hand and the warmly uttered " I shall
see you again."
Since then, no line, no word ; and all through the
lovely spring she had looked and waited for the brown-
bearded student, looked and waited in vain. Then
unrest took possession of her, anxiety tormented her,
and despair made her young face pathetic. Only the
sad, simple old story, but as bitter to live through now
as in poor Dido's day; more bitter, perhaps, because
we cannot erect funeral pyres and consume the body
with a flame less fierce than that which burns away the
Now in the silence of that summer nio-ht a blessed
peace seemed to fall on the girl's unquiet heart, as she
134 THE EOMANCE OF A SUMMER DAY.
trod thoughtfully along the shadowy road. Courage
and patience seemed to spring up within her. To wait
and hope and love without return became a possibility ;
and, though a few hot tears rolled down the cheeks,
that had lost their roses, the eyes that shed them were
more tender for the tears, and the heart that echoed
the old wife's words "Strength is given us to bear
our trials, if we take them meekly " was worthier of
life's best blessing, love, because of its submission.
As she paused a moment to wipe away the tell-tale
drops, before she joined the others, the sound of far-off
music came on the wings of the wind, a man's voice,
singing one of the love-lays that are never old. As if
spell-bound, Rose stood motionless in the broad streak
of light that fell athwart the road. She knew the voice,
the sweet old song seemed answering her prayer, and
now it needed no golden butterfly to guide her to her
Nearer and nearer came the singer, pouring out his
lay as if his heart was ID it. Brighter and brighter
glowed the human rose, as the featherless nightingale
told his tale in music, unconsciously approaching the
happy sequel with each step.
Out from the gloom he came, at last; saw her wait-
ing for him in the light ; seemed to read the glad truth
in her face, and stretched both hands to her without a
word. She took them ; and what followed who shall
say ? For the moon, best friend of lovers, discreetly
slipped behind a cloud, and the pines whispered their
congratulations as they wrapped the twain in deepest
When, half an hour later, they joined the other pair
THE ROMANCE OF^A SUMMER DAY. 135
(vvho, strange to say, had quite forgotten their charge),
Uncle Ben exclaimed, as he welcomed the new-coiner
with unusual cordiality : " Why, Rose ! You look quite
glorified in this light and as well as ever. We must,
try this cure again."
"No need, sir. I have done with the heartache, and
_ere is my physician," answered Rose, with a look at
her lover which told the story better than the best
"And here is mine," echoed Milly, leaning on Uncle
Ben's arm as if it belonged to her ; as it did, for the
moonlight had been too much for the old bachelor,
and, in spite of his fifty years, he had wooed and won
Milly as ardently as any boy. So the lonely future she
had accepted so cheerfully suddenly bloomed with happy
hopes ; and the older couple looked as blissfully content
as the young pair, who greeted with the blithest laughter
that ever woke the echoes of the wood, this fit ending to
the romance of a summer day.
MY ROCOCO WATCH.
LL three of us were inspired with an intense desire
to possess one of these quaint watches, the
moment we saw one hanging at the side of a certain
lovely woman at a party where it created a great sen-
Imitations we would not have, and the genuine arti-
cle could not be found even in Geneva, the paradise of
time-pieces. My sisters soon ceased to pine for the
impossible, and contented themselves with other an-
tique gauds. Fan rejoiced in a very ugly Cinque-Cento
ring like a tiny coffin, and Mary was the proud pos-
sessor of a Roman necklace composed of gods and
I, however, remained true to my first love and refused
to be satisfied with any thing but a veritable rococo
watch, for that, I maintained, united the useful and
the beautiful. Resisting the temptations of Rome,
Paris, and Geneva, I skilfully lured my unsuspecting
party into all sorts of out-of-the-way places under
pretence of studying up the old French cathedrals.
The girls did the churches faithfully, but I shirked
them and spent my shining hours poking about dirty
streets and staring in at the windows of ancient jewelry
shops, patiently seeking for the watch of my dreams,
I was rallied unmercifully upon my mania, and many
MY ROCOCO WATCH. 137
jokes were played upon me by the frolicksome girls,
who more than once sent me posting off by reports of
some remarkable trinket in some almost unattainable
But, nothing daunted, I continued my vain search
all through France, and never relinquished my hope
till we left St. Malo on our way to Brest, whence we
were to sail for home. Then I despaired, and, having
nothing more to toil for, began to enjoy myself with a
free mind, and then it was that capricious fortune
chose to smile upon me and reward my long quest.
Finding that we had a day before us, we explored
the queer old town, and, as our tastes varied, each
went a different way. I roamed about the narrow
streets, seeking some odd souvenir to carry away, and
was peering into a dark lane, attracted by some fine
shells, when suddenly I was arrested by a sight which
caused me to pause in the middle of a puddle, exclaim-
ing dramatically, " At last ! at last ! "
Yes, there, in the dusty window of a pawnbroker's
shop, hung the most enchanting watch, crystal ball,
silver chains, enamelled medallions, and cluster of
charms, all encrusted with pearls, garnets, and tur-
quoises set in the genuine antique style. One long
gaze, one rapturous exclamation, and I skipped from
the puddle to the door-step, bent on securing the prize
at all costs.
Bouncing in upon a withered little man, who was
taking coffee in a shadowy recess, I demanded the
price of the watch. Of course the little man was en
the alert at once, and began by protesting that it was
not for sale ; but I saw the fib in his eye, and sweetly
138 MI ROCOCO WATCH.
insisted that I must have it. Then he improvised a
mournful tale about a family of rank reduced by mis-
fortune and forced to dispose of their cherished relics
in some private manner. I affected to believe the
touching romance, and offered a handsome sum for the
watch, which, on closer inspection, struck me as rather
more antique. than even I desired.
Instantly the little man clasped his hands and pro-
tested that it was an insult to propose such a paltry
price for so beautiful and perfect a treasure. Double
the sum might be a temptation, but not a sou less.
This was so absurd that I tried to haggle a little ;
but I never succeeded in that line, so my attempt
ended in both of us getting angry, when the little man
tore the watch from my hands, and I left the shop as
precipitately as I entered it.
Retiring to the square to cool my indignation, I was
reposing on a bench, when I beheld the little man
approaching with the blandest expression, and, bowing
profoundly, he resumed the subject as if we had parted
"If madame would allow him to consult the owner
of this so charming watch, the affair might yet be
arranged in a satisfactory manner. If madame would
leave her address, he would report to her in a few
hours, and have the happiness of obliging the dear
I consented, but preferred to return to his shop later
in the day, for I wished to astonish the girls by pro-
ducing my prize at some opportune moment, and I
much feared if I told them of my discovery that the
bargain would never be made.
MY ROCOCO WATCH. 139
I suffered agonies of suspense for hours, but basely
attributed my restlessness to the heat and weariness
Five o'clock and dinner, but I declined going down,
and slipped away to my tryst with the little old man.
He was ready for me with another romance of the
noble owner's reluctance to part with an heirloom for
less than the price he had named. In vain I talked,
wheedled, and protested ; the crafty little man saw that
I meant to have that watch, and was firm. At last ]
pretended to give it up, and, thanking him for his
trouble, retired mournfully, hoping he would follow me
again, for I had told him that I should leave in the
steamer expected next day.
But the evening passed, and no little man appeared,
although I sat on the balcony till the moon rose.
Morning came, and with it the steamer, but still no
watch arrived, as other coveted articles had often done
when we firmly refused to be imposed upon.
My secret agitation increased, and my temptation
waxed stronger and stronger as the hour of departure
approached. The girls thought me nervous about the
voyage, but were too busy to heed my preoccupation,
while I was too much ashamed of my infatuation t<j
confess it and ask advice.
Fifteen minutes before we started for the wharf, I
gave in, and muttering something about looking up the
carriage, I flew round the corner, demanded the watch,
paid an abominable price for it, and sneaked back,
knowing I had been cheated by the sly old fellow, whc
had evidently expected me, and whom I left chuckling
over his bargain, as well he might, the rascal 1
The moment the deed was done my spirits returned,
140 MY ROCOCO WATCH.
and I beamed upon my sisters as benignly as if I car-
ried a boundless supply of good humor in my pocket
instead of that costly watch packed up in a shabby
We sailed, and for several days I forgot every thing
but my own woe ; then came a calm, and then choos-
ing a moment when the girls were comparing their
treasures with those of other returning voyagers, 1
proudly produced my watch. The effect was superb.
Cries of admiration greeted it from all but my sisters,
who looked at one another in comic dismay and burst
into fits of laughter.
" We saw it and tried to get it, but it cost so much
we gave it up, and never told lest Penelope should be
tempted beyond her strength. We might have spared
our pains, for it was to be, and it is vain to fight against
fate, only do tell us if you paid that Shylock what he
asked us ? " said Mary, naming a smaller sum than my
first handsome offer.
" I did not pay that, and I shall never tell what it
cost, for you wouldn't believe me if I did. It was a
good bargain, I assure you for Shylock," I added to
myself, and kept my secret jealously, knowing I never
should hear the last of it if the awful truth was known.
My treasure was so much admired that I was afraid
it would be ravished from me, and I hid it in all sorts
of places, like a magpie with a stolen spoon. I never
went on deck without taking it with me for safe keeping.
I never woke in the morning without burrowing under
my mattress to see if it was safe, and never turned in
for the night without seeing that I was prepared for
shipwreck by having my life-preserver handy and half
ROCOCO WATCH. 141
a-dozen ship biscuits, a bottle of water, and the pre-
cious box lashed firmly together, for with that dearly
bought watch I was resolved to sink or swim, live or
Being permitted to reach land in safety, I prepared to
eclipse Fan's ring and Mary's necklace with my rich
and rare rococo watch. But I found it impossible to
eet it going, though I tried all the keys in the nouse, so
I took it to an experienced watchmaker and left it to
be regulated. Every one knows what that means, and
can imagine my impatience as week after week went by
and still that blessed thing was not done. It came at
last, however, and with it a bill that startled me ; but I
could not dispute it, for the job was a difficult one,
owing to the antiquity of the works and the skill re-
quired to set a watch going that probably had not been
wound up for half a century.
It went for a week, and then stopped for ever ; for the
general verdict was that no modern tinkering would
restore its tone, since the springs of life were broken
and the venerable wheels at a dead lock.
" Well, it is ornamental if not useful, only I am sorry
I gave away my good old watch, thinking this would be
all I needed," I said, making the best of what I alone
knew to be a desperately bad bargain.
So I hung the silent thing to my girdle and went
forth to awaken the envy and admiration of all beholders.
But, alas ! the second time I wore it, one of the medal-
lions was lost, could not be found, and its place had
to be filled with a modern one, entirely out of keeping
with the others. Bill the second was paid with much
lamentation, and again I tried to enjoy my watch.
142 MY HOCOCO WATCH.
But the fates seemed to be against me, for presently it
was stolen by a maid who admired mediaeval jewelry as
well as her mistress.
What a state of excitement we were in then, to
be sure ! Cousin Dick took the matter in hand, and
searched for the lost watch with the patience, if not
the skill, of a detective. Mysterious men came to ex-
amine the servants, dreadful questions as to its value
were put to me, and, worst of all, I knew that this sort
of hide-and-go-seek was a fearfully expensive game, and
of course I wasn't going to let Dick pay for it.
It was found at last, and restored to me somewhat
the worse for the rough handling of curious admirers.
Bill the third was paid with the calmness of despair, for I
really began to think some evil spell was hidden in that
crystal ball ; a spell which attracted, then infatuated,
and now controlled me, leading me slowly and surely,
through tribulation after tribulation, to the poorhouso
in the end.
The accidents that befell that fatal watch would fill
a chapter, and the narrow escapes it had would make a
thrilling tale. Babies half choked themselves with the
charms, little Tommy was discovered trying to divest
it of all incumbrances that he might use it as a "jolly
big marble." It was always falling off, catching in
buttons, or bobbing wildly about when I danced, and
more than once I was cut to the soul by hearing be-
nighted people wonder at Miss Pen's bad taste in wear-
ing Salom jewelry. Salom, be it known to the ignorant,
is an excellent man who deals in mock ornaments of
great brilliancy and cheapness.
Soon the jewels began to fall out, and I scattered
MY ROCOCO WATCH. 143
pearls about me like the young lady in the fairy tale,
Then the chain broke, and the charms were lost. In
one of the many Mis, the crystal got cracked ; the silver
tarnished till it looked like dingy lead, and at last no
beauty remained to reconcile me to its utter uselessness.
My poor watch was the standing joke of the family, and
kept every one merry but its owner. To me it was a
disgrace, and I suffered endless disappointments and
delays by having no trusty time-keeper at hand. Pride
prevented my applying to others, and bitterly I mourned
in secret for the true old friend I had deserted when the
false new one came.
I ceased to wear the hollow mockery, and hoped
people would forget it, but the girls still displayed their
more successful ornaments ; and I was forced to tell the
sad tale of my mortifying failure in reply to the natural
"And what charming old trinket did Pen get?"
But this was not the worst of it. Like little Rosa-
mond in the moral tale, I had to wear my old shoes
when the purple jar proved a delusion and a snare. I
had overrun my allowance by that rash purchase, and
had to economize just when I most wished to be fine.
"Beauty unadorned," and that sort of thing, is all non-
sense when a woman burns to look her loveliest in the
eyes of certain persons, and the anguish I endured when
I looked at that rubbishy old watch, and thought what
sweet things could have been bought with the money
recklessly lavished upon it, can better be imagined than
Fain would I have sold my treasure for a quarter
what I gave for it, but who would buy the ruined relio
144 MY ROCOCO WATCH.
now ? And the mere idea of having it even partially
repaired made my blood run cold. So I laid it away
as a warning example of woman's folly, and began to
save up, that I might replace it by a modern watch with
all the improvements procurable for money.
I was effectually cured of my passion for antiquities,
and hated the sound of the word rococo. Nothing
could be too new for me now, and I privately studied
up on watches, being bound never to buy another,
which, though it might last to all eternity, yet had no
connection with time.
Slowly the memory of that temptation and fall seemed
to fade from all minds but my own; slowly my little
hoard increased at the expense of many an ungratified
whim, inviting bargain, or girlish vanity, and slowly I
decided what sort of watch would most entirely com-
bine the solid virtues and modest graces I desired to
possess in the new one I intended to choose so wisely
But just as my hundred dollars was nearly completed,
I discovered that Dick's younger brother, Geordie, had
got himself into a boyish scrape, and was planning to
run away to sea as the best means of settling the diffi-
culty. I was immediately possessed with an intense
desire to help the poor lad, and, having won his confi-
dence in a desponding moment, I offered my little
hoard as a loan, to be paid in time, if he would accept
t on no other condition.
I really don't think I could have done it for any one
but Dick's brother, and I did not desire any praise for
it, since I made the boy take a solemn vow that it should
be a secret between us for ever. It was reward enough
MY ROCOCO WATCH.
to know that I had spared dear Dick another care, and
done something to be more worthy of him, though i
was only a little sacrifice like this.
So Geordie was a free man again, and my devoted
slave from that day forth, causing much merry wonder-
ment in the family, and actually making Dick jealous
by his grateful gallantry.
My sacrifice cost me something more than the loss
of my watch, however, for with a part of the money I
had planned to get a fine Christmas gift for some one,
and now I was obliged to content myself with such a
poor little offering that the girls called me mean, and
nearly broke my heart by insisting that I did not care
for somebody who cared a great deal for me. I bore it
all and kept Geordie's secret faithfully ; but I will con-
fess that, in a paroxysm of anger with myself, I dashed
that hateful rococo watch upon the floor and trampled
on it as the only adequate vent for the conflicting emo-
tions which possessed me.
But the good fairies who fly about at Christmas time
set every thing right, and broke the evil spell cast over
me by the Breton magician in his gloomy cell. As we
gat about the breakfast-table, talking over our gifts on
the morning of that happy day, Dick and Geordie came
in to see how we were after the fatigues of a grand
family frolic the night before.
" Here's a new conundrum ; guess it, girls," said
Geordie, who had the Dundreary fever upon him just at
that time. " I was sent to India and stopped there ; 1
came back because I did not go there. Now whal
We puzzled over it, but gave it up at last, and when
146 MY EOCOCO WATCH.
Geordie answered, "A watch," there was a general
laugh, for since my ruinous speculation that word
always produced a sensation among us.
"The place mentioned should have been Brittany,
not India, hey, Pen?" said Dick, with a wicked
twinkle of the eye.
" Don't," I began, pathetically, as the girls giggled,
and Mary added, with mock sympathy, " Hush, boys,
and let that sacred sorrow be for ever hidden in Pen's
" Watch and pray, dear, watch and pray, for I'm sure
you have need of both," cried Fan, seeing my rising
"Pu* your hands before your face but don't strike,
I beg of you," cut in Geordie, trying to be witty.
" It is a sad case, but I think I have a key that will
wind up the affair and set all going right," began Dick,
still twinkling with fun.
To have him join the enemy was too much for me,
because he had always been very careful to avoid that
" If you say another word, I'll throw the horrid thing
into the fire, for I'm sick to death of hearing bad jokes
made on it," I cried, feeling a strong desire to shake
them all round.
" No doubt ; give it to me, and you shall never see
or hear of it again. I like old trinkets, and I'll never
tell the story of that one, on my honor as a gentle-
man," said Dick, in a tone that appeased my wrath at
u Do you really want it ? " I asked, pleased and sur-
prised, yet still a little suspicious of some new joke.
MY ROCOCO WATCH. 147
" I do, because, although it will never go again, it
will always remind me of some of the happiest hours
and minutes of my life, Pen."
There was no fun in Dick's eyes as he said that, and
I was glad to hide the sudden color in my cheeks by
Fanning away to get the poor old watch. But I found
there was a surprise, and a very pleasant one, in store
for me; for, as I thrust the shabby box into Dick's
pocket, he handed me a little parcel prettily tied up
with white ribbons, saying in his most captivating way,
" Fair exchange is no robbery, you know, so you must
take this, and then we shall be square."
"It looks like wedding cake," I said, surveying it
with curiosity, and wondering why Geordie and the
girls did not stop to see the mystery unfolded.
"N"o, that comes later, dear," answered Dick, in a
one that made me devote myself to the white ribbons
with sudden zeal.
A blue velvet case appeared, and I could not resist
saying, in a voice more tender than reproachful, "You
extravagant man ! I know it is something costly and
beautiful in return for the disgracefully mean gift I
" Bless your innocent heart, did you think you could
hide any thing from me? Geordie couldn't keep a
secret, and I'm only paying his debt, Pen dear, with
the sort of interest women like," Dick answered, with
an audacious arm around my waist and a brown beard
close to my cheek.
As I did not refuse the offered interest, he added, in
a softer tone, " My own debt I never can settle unless
with all my worldly goods I thee endow ; my heart you
148 MY ROCOCO WATCH.
have had for years. Say yes, dear, and be my little
Never mind what I said, but I assure you if it had
not been for Dick's arm I should have gone under the
table, when, a few minutes later, I lifted the blue
velvet lid and saw a dainty watch luxuriously lying
n its white satin bed.
BY THE RIVER.
A LEGEND OF THE ASSABET.
IN the shadow of the bridge a boy lay reading on the
grass, a slender lad, broad-browed and clear-eyed,
barefooted and clad in homespun, yet happy as a king ;
for health sat on his sunburned cheeks, a magic book
lay open before him, and sixteen years of innocence
gave him a passport to the freshest pleasures life can
"Nat! Nat! come here and see!" cried a shrill
voice from among the alders by the river-side.
But Nat only shook his head as if a winged name-
sake had buzzed about his ears, and still read on.
Presently a twelve-years child came scrambling up the
bank, dragging a long rod behind her with a discon-
" I w T ish you'd come and help me. The fish won't
bite and my line is in a grievous snarl. Don't read any
more. I'm tired of playing all alone."
" I forgot you, Ruthy, and it was ill done of me.
Sit here and rest while I undo the tangle," and Nat
looked up good-naturedly at the small figure before
him, with its quaint pinafore, checked linen gown, and
buckled shoes j for this little maid lived nearly a hun-
150 BY THE RIVER.
dred years ago and this lad had seen Washington fac
" Now tell me a story while I wait. Not out of that
stupid play-book you are always reading, but about
something that really happened, with naughty children
and nice folks in it, and have it end good," said Ruth,
beginning a dandelion chain ; for surely it is safe to
believe that our honored grandmothers enjoyed that
pretty pastime in their childhood.
Nat lay in the grass, dreamily regarding the small
personage who ruled him like a queen and whom he
served with the devotion of a loyal heart. Now the
royal command was for a story, and, stifling a sigh, this
rustic gentleman closed the book, whose magic had
changed the spring morning to a Midsummer Night's
Dream for an hour, and set himself to gratify the little
" You liked the last tale about the children who were
lost. Shall I tell one about a child who was found ?
It really happened, and you never heard it before," he
" Yes ; but first put your head in my lap, for there
are ants in the grass and I like to see your eyes shine
when you spin stories. Tell away."
" Once upon a time there was a great snow-storm,"
began Nat, obediently pillowing his head on the blue
" Whereabouts ? " demanded Ruth.
" Don't spoil the story by interrupting. It was in
this town, and I can show you the very house I'm going
to tell about."
" I like to know things straight along, and not bounce
BY THE RIVER. 151
into a snow-storm all in a minute. I'll be good. Go
"Well, it snowed so hard that people stayed indoors
till the storm had beat and blown itself away. Right
in the worst of it, as a farmer and his wife sat by the
fire that night, they heard a cry at the door. You see
they were sitting very still, the man smoking his pipe
and the woman knitting, both thinking sorrowfully of
their only son, who had just died."
"Don't have it doleful, Nat," briskly suggested Ruth,
working busily while the narrator's hands lay idle, and
his eyes looked as if they actually saw the little scene
his fancy conjured up.
" No, I won't ; only it really was like that," apolo-
gized Nat, seeing that sentiment was not likely to suit
his matter-of-fact auditor. " When the cry came a
second time, both of these people ran to the door. No
one was to be seen, but on the wide step they saw a
little mound not there an hour before. Brushing off
the snow, they found a basket ; and, when they opened
it, there lay a little baby, who put out its arms with a
pitiful cry, that went to their hearts. The woman
hugged it close, fed it, and hushed it to sleep as if it
had been her own. Her husband let her do as she
liked, while he tried to find where it came from ; but
no trace appeared, and there was no name or mark on
the poor thing's clothes."
" Did they keep it ? " asked Ruth, tickling Nat's nose
vith a curly dandelion stem, to goad him on, as he lay
silent for a moment.
" Yes, they kept it ; for their hearts were sore and
empty, and the forlorn baby seemed to fill them corn-
152 BY THE EIVEK.
fortably. The townsfolk gossiped awhile, but soon for-
got it ; and it grew up as if it had been born in the
fanner's house. I've often wondered if it wasn't the
soul of the little son who died, come back in another
shape to comfort those good people."
u Now don't go wandering off, Nat ; but tell me if he
was a pretty, nice, smart child," said Ruth, with an eye
to the hero's future capabilities.
" Not a bit pretty," laughed Nat, " for he grew up
tall and thin, with big eyes and a queer brow. lie
wasn't 'nice,' either, if you mean good, for he got
angry sometimes and was lazy ; but he tried, oh !
yes, he truly tried to be a dutiful lad. He wasn't
' smart,' Ruth ; for he hated to study, and only loved
Btory books, ballads, and plays, and liked to wander
round alone in the woods better than to be with other
boys. People laughed at him because of his queersome
ways ; but he couldn't help it, he was born so, and it
would come out."
" He was what Aunt Becky calls shiftless, I guess.
She says you are ; but I don't mind as long as you take
care of me and tell me stories."
The boy sighed and shook his head as if a whole
gwarai of gnats were annoying him now. " He was
grateful, anyhow, this fellow I'm telling about ; for he
loved the good folks and worked on the farm with all
his might to pay them for their pity. He never com-
plained ; but he hated it, for delving day after day in
the dirt made him feel as if he was nothing but a
"We are all worms," Deacon Hurd says; "so the
boy needn't have minded," said Ruth, trying to assume
BY THE RIVER. 153
a primly pious expression, that sat very ill upon her
blooming little face.
" But some worms can turn into butterflies, if they
get a chance ; so the boy did mind, Ruthy." And Nat
looked out into the summer world with a longing
glance, which proved that he already felt conscious of
the folded wings and was eager to try them.
" Was he a God-fearing boy ? " asked Ruth, with a
tweak of the ear ; for her friend showed signs of " wan-
dering off" again into a world where her prosaic little
mind could not follow him.
"He didn't fear God; he loved Him. Perhaps it
was wrong ; but somehow he couldn't believe in a God
of wrath when he saw how good and beautiful the
world was and how kind folks were to him. He felt as
if the Lord was his father, for he had no other ; and
when he was lonesomest that thought was right com-
fortable and helpful to him. Was it wrong?" asked
Nat of the child.
" I'm afraid Aunt Becky would think so. She's
awful pious, and boxed my ears with a psalm-book last
Sabbath, when I said I wished the lions would bite
Daniel in the den, I was so tired of seeing them stare
and roar at him. She wouldn't let me look at the
pictures in the big Bible another minute, and gave me
a long hymn to learn, shut up in the back bedroom.
She's a godly woman, Deacon Hurd says ; but I think
she's uncommon strict."
"Shall I tell any more, or are you tired of this stupid
boy ? " said Nat, modestly.
"Yes, you may as well finish. But do have some-
thing happen. Make him grow a great man, like Whit-
154 BY THE RIVER.
tington, or some of the story-book folks, it's so nice to
read about," answered Ruth, rather impatiently.
" I hope he did something better than trade cats and
be lord mayor of London. But that part of the story
hasn't come yet ; so I'll tell you of two things that
happened, one sad and one merry. When the boy
was fourteen, the good woman died, and that nearly
broke his heart ; for she had made things easy for him,
and he loved her dearly. The farmer sent for his sister
to keep house, and then the boy found it harder than
ever to bear his life ; for the sister was a notable
woman, well-meaning, but as strict as Aunt Becky, and
she pestered the lad as Aunt pesters me. You see,
Ruthy, it grew harder every year for him to work on
the farm, for he longed to be away somewhere quiet
among books and learned folk. He was not like those
about him, and grew more unlike all the time, and people
often said : ' He's come of gentle blood. That's plain
to see.' He loved to think it was true, not because
he wanted to be rich and fine, but to find his own place
and live the life the Lord meant him to. This feeling
made him so unhappy that he was often tempted to
run away, and would have done it but for the gratitude
that kept him.
" Lack-a-daisy ! What a bad boy, when he had good
clothes and victuals and folks were clever to him ! But
did he ever find his grand relations?" asked Ruth,
curiosity getting the better of the reproof she thought
it her duty to administer.
"I don't know yet. But he did find something that
made him happier and more contented. Listen now ;
for you'll like this part, I know. One night, as he came
BY THE RIVER. Ib5
home with the cows, watching the pretty red in the
sky, heckling the crickets chirp, and picking flowers
along the way, because he liked to have 'em in his
room, he felt uncommon lonesome, and kept wishing
he'd meet a fairy who'd give him all he wanted When
he got to the house, he thought the fairy had really
come ; for there on the door-stone stood a little lass,
looking at him. A right splendid little lass, Ruth,
with brown hair long upon her shoulders, blue eyes full
of smiles, and a face like one of the pink roses in
Madam Barrett's garden."
"Did she have good clothes?" demanded Ruth,
eagerly, for this part of the tale did interest her, as Nat
" Let me see. Yes, nice clothes ; but sad-colored,
for the riding-cloak that hung over her white dimity
frock was black. Yet she stood on a pair of the
trimmest feet ever seen, wearing hose with fine clocks,
and silver buckles in the little shoes. You may believe
the boy stared well, for he had never seen so pretty a
sight in all his days, and before he knew it he had given
her his nosegay of sheepsbane, fern, and honeysuckle.
She took it, looking pleased, and made him as fine a
courtesy as any lady ; whereat he turned red and
foolish, being shy, and hurried off into the barn. But
she came skipping after, and peeped at him as he
milked, watched how he did it for a bit, and then said,
like a little queen, ' Boy, get up and let me try.' That
pleased him mightily ; so, taking little madam on his
knee, he let her try. But something went amiss, for
all at once Brindle kicked over the pail, away went
the three-legged stool, and both the milkers lay in the
156 BY THE RIVER.
"Why, Nat! why, Nat! that was you and I," cried
Ruth, clapping her hands delightedly, as this catastro-
phe confirmed the suspicions which had been growing
in her mind since the appearance of the child.
" Hush ! or I'll never tell how they got up," said
Nat, hurrying on with a mirthful face. " The boy
thought the little maid would cry over her bruised arm
or go off in a pet at sight of the spoilt frock. But no :
she only laughed, patted old Brindle, and sat down,
saying stoutly, ' I shall try again and do it right.' So
she did, and while she milked she told how she was an
orphan and had come to be Uncle Dan's girl all her
life. That was a pleasant hearing for the lad, and he
felt as if the fairy had done better by him than he had
hoped. They were friends at once, and played cat's
cradle on the kitchen settle all the evening. But, when
the child was put to bed in a strange room, her little
heart failed her, and she fell a-sobbing for her mother.
Nothing would comfort her till the boy went up and
sang her to sleep, with her pretty hand in his and all
her tears quite gone. That was nigh upon two years
ago; but from that night they were fast friends, and
happier times began for the boy, because he had some-
thing to love and live for besides work. She was very
good to him, and nowhere in all the world was there a
dearer, sweeter lass than Nat Snow's little maid."
During the latter part of this tale "founded upon
fact," Ruth had been hugging her playmate's head in
both her chubby arms, and when he ended by drawing
down the rosy face to kiss it softly on the lips it grew
a very April countenance, as she exclaimed, with a
childish burst of aifection, curiosity, and wonder,
BY THE RIVER. 157
"Dear Nat, how good you were to me that night ana
ever since ! Did you really come in a basket, and don't
you know any thing about your folks? Good lack!
And to think you may turn out a lord's son, after all! r
"How could I help being good to you, dear? Yes,
I'll show you the very basket, if Aunt Becky has not
burnt it up as rubbish. I know nought about my folk,
and have no name but Snow. Uncle Dan gave me
that because I came in the storm, and the dear mother
added Nathaniel, her own boy's name, since I was sent
to take his place, she said. As for being a lord's son,
I'd rather be a greater man than that."
And Nat rose up with sudden energy in his voice,
a sudden kindling of the eyes, that pleased Ruth, and
made her ask, with firm faith in the possibility of his
being any thing he chose,
" You mean a king ? "
" No, a poet ! "
" But that's not fine at all ! " and Ruth looked much
" It is the grandest thing in the world ! Look now,
the man who wrote this play was a poet, and, though
ong dead, he is still loved and honored, when the
kings and queens he told about would be forgotten
but for him. Who cares for them, with all their
splendor? Who does not worship William Shake-
speare, whose genius made him greater than the whole
of them!" cried Nat, hugging the dingy book, his face
all aglow with the beautiful enthusiasm of a true
" Was Master Shakespeare rich and great ? n asked
Uuth, staring at him with round eyes.
158 BY THE RIVEE.
" Never rich or great in the way you mean, or even
famous, till after he was dead."
" Then I'd rather have you like Major Wild, for he
owns much land, lives in a grand house, and wears the
finest-laced coat in all the town. Will you be like him,
please, Nat ? "
"No, I won't!" answered the lad, with emphatic
brevity, as the image of the red-faced, roystering
Major passed before his mind's eye.
His bluntness ruffled his little sovereign's temper for
a moment, and she asked with a frown,
"What do you think Aunt Becky said yesterday,
when we found ever so many of your verses hidden in
the clothes-press, where we went to put lavender among
the linen ? "
" Something sharp, and burnt the papers, I'll war-
rant," replied Nat, with the resignation of one used to
"No, she kept 'em to cover jam-pots with, and she
said you were either a fool or a genus. Is a genus very
bad, Nat?" added Ruth, relenting as she saw his
dreamy eyes light up with what she fancied was a
spark of anger.
"Aunt Becky thinks so; but I don't, and, though I
may not be one, sooner or later folks shall see that I'm
BO fool, for I feel, I know, I was not born to hoe corn
and feed pigs all my life."
" What will you do ? " cried Ruth, startled by the
almost passionate energy with which he spoke.
" Till I'm twenty-one I'll stay to do my duty. When
the time comes, I'll break away and try my own life,
for I shall have a right to do it then."
BY THE EIVER. 159
" And leave me ? Nay, I'll not let you go." And
Ruth threw her dandelion chain about his neck, claim-
ing her bondsman with the childish tyranny he found
He laughed and let her hold him, seeing how frail
the green links were ; little dreaming how true a symbol
it was of the stronger tie by which she would hold him
when the time came to choose between liberty and
"Five years is a long time, Ruthy. You will get
tired of my odd ways, and be glad to have me go.
But never fret about it ; for, whatever happens, I'll not
Quite satisfied with this promise, the little maid fell
to sticking buttercups in the band of the straw hat her
own nimble fingers had braided, as if bent on securing
one crown for her friend. But Nat, leaning his head
upon his hand, sat watching the sunshine glitter on the
placid stream that rippled at his feet, with such intent-
ness that Ruth presently disturbed him by demanding
" What is it ? A kingfisher or a turtle ? "
" It's the river, dear. It seems to sing to me as it
goes by. I always hear it, yet I never understand what
it says. Do you ? "
Ruth fixed her blue eyes on the bluer water, listened
for an instant, then laughed out blithely, and sprung
up, saying, -
" It sings : ' Come and fish, Nat. Come and fish ! ' "
The boy's face fell, the dreamy look faded, and, with
a patient sort of sigh, he rose and followed her, leaving
his broken dream with his beloved book among: the
160 BY THE RIVER.
buttercups. But, though he sat by Ruth in the shadow
of the alder-bushes, his rod hung idly from his hand,
for he was drawing bright fancies from a stream she
never saw, was dimly feeling that he had a harder knot
to disentangle than his little friend's, and faintly hear
ing a higher call than hers, in the ripple of the river.
FIVE years later Ruth was in the dairy making np
butter, surrounded by tier above tier of shining pans,
whence proceeded a breath as fresh and fragrant as if
the ghosts of departed king-cups and clover still
haunted the spot. Standing before a window where
morning-glories rung their colored bells in the balmy
air, she was as pleasant a sight as any eye need wish to
see upon a summer's day ; for the merry child had
bloomed into a sprightly girl, rich in rustic health and
beauty. All practical virtues were hers; and, while
they wore so comely a shape, they possessed a grace
that hid the lack of those finer attributes which give
to womanhood its highest charm. The present was
all in all to Ruth. Its homely duties were her world,
its petty griefs and joys her life, and her ambition was
bounded by her desire to show her mates the finest
yarn, the sweetest butter, the gayest cardinal, and the
handsomest sweetheart, in the town. An essentially
domestic character, cheery as the blaze upon the hearth,
contented as the little kettle singing there, and so affec-
BY THE RIVER. 161
tionate, discreet, and diligent that she was the model
damsel of the town, the comfort of Uncle Daniel's age,
the pride of Aunt Becky's heart, the joy of Nat's life,
and the desire of his eyes.
Unlike as ever, the pair were still fast friends. Nay
more, for the past year had been imperceptibly trans-
forming that mild sentiment into a much warmer one
by the magic of beauty, youth, and time. Year after
year Nat had patiently toiled on, for gratitude con-
trolled ambition, and Ruth's presence made his life
endurable. But Nature was stronger than duty or love,
and as the boy ripened into the man he looked wistfully
beyond the narrow present into the great future, which
allures such as he with vague, sweet prophecies, hard to
be resisted. Silently the struggle went on, steadily the
inborn longing strengthened, and slowly the resolution
was fixed to put his one gift to the test and learn if it
was a vain delusion or a lovely possibility. Each year
proved to himself and those about him that their world
was not his world, their life his life-; for, like Andersen's
young swan, the barnyard was no home to him, and
when the other fowls cackled, hissed, and scolded, he
could only put his head under his wing and sigh for the
time when he should join "the beautiful white birds
among the rushes of the stream that flowed through
the poet's garden, where the sun shone and the little
Ruth knew his dreams and desires ; but, as she could
not understand them, she tried to cure them by every
innocent art in her power, and nursed him through
many a fit of the heart-sickness of hope deferred as
patiently as she would have done through any lesg
162 BY THE RIVER.
occult disease that flesh is heir to. She was thinking
of him as she worked that day, and wishing she could
mould his life as easily as she did the yellow lumps before
her, stamping them with her own mark, and setting
them away for her own use. She felt that some change
was about to befall Nat, for she had listened to the muiv
rnur of voices as the old man and the young sat talking
far into the night. What tl.e result had been was as
yet unknown ; for Uncle Daniel was unusually taciturn
that morning, and Nat had been shut up in his room
since breakfast, though spring work waited for him all
about the farm.
An unwonted sobriety sat on Ruth's usually cheer-
ful face, and she was not singing as she worked, but
listening intently for a well-known step to descend the
creaking stairs. Presently it came, paused a moment
in the big kitchen, where Aunt Becky was flying about
like a domestic whirlwind, and Ruth heard Nat ask for
her with a ring in his voice that made her heart begin
" She's in the dairy. But for landsake where are you
a-going, boy? I declare for't, you look so fine and
chirk I scursely knew yer," answered the old lady,
pausing in her work to stare at the astonishing spectacle
of Nat in his Sunday best upon a week day.
" I'm going to seek my fortune, Aunty. Won't you
wish me luck ? " replied Nat, cheerily.
Aunt Becky had a proverb for every occasion, and
could not lose this opportunity for enriching the mal-
content with a few suited to his case.
" Yes, child, the best of lucks ; but it's my opinion
that, if we ' get spindle and distaff ready, the Lord will
BY THE RIVER. 163
send the flax,' without our goin' to look for't. ' Every
road has its puddle,' and 'he that prieth into a cloud
may get struck by lighteninY God bless you, my dear,
and remember that ' a handful of good life is wuth a
bushel of learnin'.' ;
" I will, Ma'am ; and also bear in mind that ' he who
would have eggs must bear the cackling of hens,'" with
which return shot Nat vanished, leaving the old lady
to expend her energies and proverbs upon the bread
she was kneading with a vigor that set the trough rock-
ing like a cradle.
Why Ruth began to sing just then, and why she
became so absorbed in her oleaginous sculpture as to
seem entirely unconscious of the appearance of a young
man at the dairy door, are questions which every woman
will find no difficulty in answering. Actuated by one
of the whims which often rule the simplest of the sex,
she worked and sang as if no anxiety had rufHed her
quiet heart ; while Nat stood and watched her with an
expression which would have silenced her, had she
chosen to look up and meet it.
The years that had done much for Ruth had been
equally kind to Nat, in giving him a generous growth
for the figure leaning in the doorway seemed full of
the vigor of wholesome country life. But the head that
crowned it was such as one seldom sees on a farmer's
shoulders; for the brown locks, gathered back into a
ribbon, after the fashion of the time, showed a forehead
of harmonious outline, overarching eyes full of the
pathos and the passion that betray the presence of that
gift which is divine when young. The mouth was sensi-
tive as any woman's, and the lips were often folded
164 J3 Y THE RIVER.
close, as if pride controlled the varying emotions tha.
swayed a nature ardent and aspiring as a flame of fire.
Few could read the language of this face, yet many felt
the beauty that it owed to a finer source than any grace
of shape or color, and wondered where the subtle secret
"Ruth, may I tell you something?"
" Of course you may. Only don't upset the salt-box
or sit down upon the churn."
Nat did neither, but still leaned in the doorway and
still watched the trim figure before him, as if it was
very pleasant to his eyes; while Ruth, after a brief
glance over her shoulder, a nod and a smile, spatted
away as busily as ever.
" You know I was one-and-twenty yesterday ? "
" I'm not like to forget it, after sewing my eyes out
to work a smart waistcoat as a keepsake."
"Nor I; for there's not such another in the town,
and every rosebud is as perfect as if just pulled from
our bush yonder. See, I've put it on as knights put on
their armor when they went to fight for fortune and
their ladies' love."
As he spoke, Nat smilingly thrust his hands into the
pockets of a long-flapped garment, which was a master-
piece of the needlework in vogue a century ago. Ruth
glanced up at him with eyes full of hearty admiration for
the waistcoat and its wearer. But something in those
last words of his filled her with a trouble both sweet
and bitter, as she asked anxiously,
" Are you going away, Nat ? "
" For a week only. Uncle has been very kind, and
given me a chance to prove which road it's best for me
BY THE RIVER. 165
to take, since the time has come when I must choose.
I ride to Boston this afternoon, Ruth, carrying my
poems with me, that I may submit them to the criticism
of certain learned gentlemen, who can tell me if I de-
ceive myself or not. I have agreed to abide by their de-
cision, and if it is in my favor as God grant it be
Uncle leaves me free to live the life I love, among my
books and all that makes this world glorious. Think,
Ruth, a poet in good truth, to sing when I will, and
delve no more ! Will you be pleased and proud if I
come back and tell you this ? "
" Indeed, I will, if it makes you happy. And yet "
She paused there, looking wistfully into his face, now all
aglow with the hope and faith that are so blissful and
" What is it, lass ? Speak out and tell me all that s
in your heart, for I mean to show you mine," he said in
a commanding tone seldom heard before, for he seemed
already to have claimed the fair inheritance that makes
the poet the equal of the prince.
Ruth felt the change with a thrill of pride, yet dared
suggest the possibility of failure, as a finer nature would
have shrunk from doing in such a happy, hopeful hour
" If the learned gentlemen decide that the poema
have no worth, what then ?"
He looked at her an instant, like one fallen from the
clouds, then squared his shoulders, as if resettling the
burden put off for a day, and answered bravely, though
a sudden shadow crossed his face,
" Then I give up my dream and foil to work again,
no poet, but a man, who will do his best to be an honest
166 BY THE RIVER.
one. I have promised Uncle to abide by this decision,
and I'll keep my word."
" Will it be very hard, Nat ? " and Ruth's eyes grew
pitiful, for in his she read how much the sacrifice would
" Ay, lass, very hard," he said briefly ; then added 5
with an eloquent change in voice and face, "unless you
help me bear it. Sweetheart, whichever road I take, I
had no thought to go alone. Will you walk with me,
Ruth ? God knows I'll make the way as smooth and
pleasant as a faithful husband can."
The busy hands stopped working there, for Nat held
them fast in his, and all her downcast eyes could see
were the gay flowers her needle wrought, agitated by
the beating of the man's heart underneath. Her color
deepened beautifully and her lips trembled, in spite of
the arch smile they wore, as she said half-tenderly,
" But I should be afeared to marry a poet, if they are
such strange and delicate creatures as I've heard tell.
'Twould be like keeping house for a butterfly. I tried
to cage one once ; but the poor thing spoilt its pretty
wings beating against the bars, and when I let it go it
just dropped down and died among the roses there."
" But if I be no poet, only a plain farmer, with no
ambition except how I may prosper and make my wife
a happy woman, what answer then, Ruth ? " he asked,
feeling as the morning-glories might have felt if a cold
wind had blown over them.
" Dear lad, it's this !" and, throwing both arms about
his neck, the honest little creature kissed his brown
BY THE RIVER. 167
After that no wonder if Ruth forgot her work, never
saw an audacious sunbeam withering the yellow roses
she. had caused to bloom, never heard the buzz of an
invading fly, nor thought to praise the labor of her
hands, though her plump cheek was taking off impres-
sions of the buttons on the noble waistcoat. While to
Nat the little dairy had suddenly become a Paradise,
life for a moment was all poetry, and nothing in the
wide world seemed impossible.
" Ruth ! Ruth ! The cat's fell into the pork-kag, and
my hands is in the dough. For massy sake, run down
suller and fish her out ! "
That shrill cry from Aunt Becky broke the spell, dis
solved the blissful dream, for, true to her instincts, Ruth
forgot the lover in the housewife, and vanished, leaving
Nat alone with his love and the butter-pats.
HE rode gallantly away to Boston that afternoon,
and ten days later came riding slowly home again, with
the precious manuscript still in his saddle-bag.
" What luck, boy ? " asked Uncle Dan, with a keen
glance from under his shaggy brows, as the young man
came into the big kitchen, where they all sat together
when the day's work was done.
" Pretty much what you foretold, sir," answered Nat,
trying to smile bravely as he took his place beside Ruth
on the settle, where she sat making up cherry-colored
breast-knots by the light of one candle.
168 BY THE RIVER.
" Fools go out to shear and come home shorn," mut-
tered Aunt Becky from the chimney-corner, where she
Bat reeling yarn and brooding over some delectabJe
mess that simmered on the coals.
Nat did not hear the flattering remark: for he wag
fingering a little packet that silently told the story of
failure in its dog-eared leaves, torn wrappers, and care-
lessly knotted string.
. "Yes," he said rapidly, as if anxious to have a hard
task over, " I showed my poems to sundry gentlemen,
as I proposed. One liked them much, and said they
showed good promise of better things; but added that
it was no time for such matters now, and advised me to
lay them by till I was older. A very courteous and
friendly man this was, and I felt much beholden to him
for his gracious speeches. The second criticized my
work sharply, and showed me how I should mend it.
But, when he was done, I found all the poetry had gone
out of my poor lines, and nothing was left but fine
words ; so I thanked him and went away, thinking
better of my poems than when I entered. The third
wise man gave me his opinion very briefly, saying, as
he handed back the book, 'Put it in the fire.'"
" Nay ! but that was too harsh. They are very pretty
verses, Nat, though most of them are far beyond my
poor wits," said Ruth, trying to lighten the disappoint-
ment that she saw weighed heavily on her lover's spirit.
"In the good gentleman's study, I had a sight of
some of the great poets of the world, and while he
read my verses I got a taste of Milton, Spenser, and
my own Shakespeare's noble sonnets. I saw what mine
lacked; yet some of them rang true, so I took heart
BY TEE R17ER. 169
and mramed them up in the fashion my masters set
me. Let me read you one or two, Ruth, while you tie
your true lover's knots."
And, eagerly opening the beloved book, Nat began
to lead by the dim light of the tallow candle, blind to
the resigned expression Ruth's face assumed, deaf to
Aunt Becky's muttered opinion that "an idle brain
is the devil's workshop," and quite unconscious that
Dncle Dan spread a checked handkerchief over his bald
pate, ready for a nap. Absorbed in his delightful task,
th^ young poet went on reading his most perfect lines,
with a face that brightened blissfully, till, just as he
was giving a love-lay in his tenderest tone, a mild snore
checked his heavenward flight, and brought him back
to earth with a rude shock. He started, paused, and
looked about him, like one suddenly wakened from a
iappy dream. Uncle Dan was sound asleep, Aunt
Becky busily counting her tidy skeins, and Ruth, making
a mirror of one of the well-scoured pewter platters on
the dresser, was so absorbed in studying the effect of
the gay breast-knots that she innocently betrayed her
inattention by exclaiming, with a pretty air of re-
" And that's the end ? "
" That is the end," he answered, gently closing the
book which no one cared to hear, and, hiding his re-
proachful eyes behind his hand, he sat silent, till Uncle
Dan, roused by the cessation of the melodious murmur
that had soothed his ear, demanded with kindly blunt-
" Well, boy, which is it to be, moonshine or money ?
1 want you tc be spry about decidin', for things is
170 BY THE RIVER.
gittin' behindhand, and I cattle'ate to hire if you mean
to quit work."
" Sakes alive ! No man in his senses would set long
on the fonce when there's a good farm and a smart wife
a-waitin on one side and nothin' but poetry and star-
vation on the other!" ejaculated Aunt Becky, briskly
clattering the saucepan-lid, as if to add the savory
temptations of the flesh to those of filthy lucre.
Ruth said nothing, but looked up at Nat with the one
poetic sentiment of her nature shining in her eyes and
touching her with its tender magic, till it seemed an
easy thing to give up liberty for love. The dandelion
chain the child wove round the boy had changed to a
flowery garland now, but the man never saw the thorns
among the roses, and let the woman fetter him again ;
for, as he looked at her, Nat flung the cherished book
into the fire with one hand, and with the other took
possession of the only bribe that could win him from
that other love.
" I decide as you would have me, sir. Not for the
sake of the farm you promise me, but for love of her
who shall one day be its happy mistress, please God."
"Now that's sensible and hearty, and I'm waal
pleased, my boy. You jest buckle to for a year stiddy
and let your ink-horn dry, and we'll have as harnsome
a w^ddin' as man could wish, always providin' Rutb
don't change her mind," said Uncle Dan, beaming be-
nignantly at the young pair through a cloud of tobacco
smoke ; while Aunt Becky poked the condemned manu-
script deeper into the coals, as if anxious to exorcise
its witchcraft by fire, in the good old fashion.
But even in lluth's arms Nat cast one longing, loving
BY THE RIVER. 171
glance at his first-born darling on its funeral-pyre ; then
turned his head resolutely away, and whispered to the
" Never doubt that I love you, sweetheart, since for
your sake I have given up the ambition of my life. 1
don't regret it, but be patient with me till I learn to live
without my ' moonshine,' as you call it."
" Sunshine is better, and I'll make it for you, if I can.
So cheer up, dear lad, fall to work like a man, and you'll
soon forget your pretty nonsense," answered Ruth, with
firm faith in the cure she proposed.
" HI try."
And, folding his wings, Pegasus bent his neck to the
yoke and fell to ploughing.
Nat kept his word and did try manfully, working
early and late, with an energy that delighted Uncle Dan,
made Aunt Becky bestir herself to bleach her finest webs
for the wedding outfit, and caused Ruth to believe that
he had forgotten the " pretty nonsense ; " for the pen
lay idle and he gave all his leisure to her, discussing
house-gear and stock with as deep an interest as herself
apparently. All summer long he toiled like one intent
only on his crops ; all winter he cut wood and tended
cattle, as if he had no higher hope than to sell so many
cords and raise likely calves for market.
Outwardly he was a promising young farmer, with a
prosperous future and a notable wife awaiting him. But
deep in the man's heart a spark of the divine fire still
burned, unquenched by duty, love, or time. The spirit
that made light in Milton's darkness, walked with Burns
beside the plough, and lifted Shakespeare higher than the
royal virgin's hand, sang to Nat in the airy whisper of
172 BY THE EIVER.
the pines, as he labored in the wintry wood, smiled
back at him in every ox-eyed daisy his scythe laid low
along the summer fields, and solaced him with visions
of a fairer future than any buxom Ruth could paint. It
would not leave him, and he learned too late that it was
the life of his life, a gift that could not be returned, a
blessing turned into a curse ; for, though he had burned
the little book, from its ashes rose a flame that consumed
him, since it could find no vent. Even the affection, for
which he had made a costlier sacrifice than he knew,
looked pale and poor beside the loftier loveliness that
dawned upon him in the passionate struggle, ripening
heart and soul to sudden manhood ; and the life that
lay before him seemed very bleak and barren when he
returned from playing truant in the enchanted world
Imagination opens to her gifted children.
Ruth vaguely felt the presence of this dumb despair,
dimly saw its shadow in the eyes that sometimes wore
a tragic look, and fancied that the hand working so
faithfully for her was slipping from her hold, it grew so
thin and hot with the inward fever, which no herb in
all her garden could allay. She vainly tried to rise to
his level ; but the busy sparrow could not follow the
aspiring lark, singing at heaven's gate. It could only
chirp its little lay and build its nest, with no thought be-
yond a straw, a worm, and the mate that was to come.
Nat never spoke of the past, and Ruth dared not, for
she grew to feel that he did " regret it " bitterly, though
too generous for a word of reproach or complaint.
" I'll make it up to him when we are married ; and he
will learn to love the farm when he has little lads and
lasses of his own to work for," she often said to herself
BY THE RIVER.
as she watched her lover sit among them, after his day's
work, listening to their gossip with a pathetic sort of
patience, or, pleading a weariness there was no need to
feign, lie on the old settle, lost in thoughts that made
liis face shine like one who talked with angels.
So the year rolled round, and May came again,
l^ncle Dan was well satisfied, Aunt Becky's prepara-
tions were completed, and Ruth had not " changed her
" Settle about the weddin' as soon as you like, my
girl, and I'll see that it is a merry one," said the old
man, coming in from work, as Ruth blew the horn from
the back porch one night at sunset.
"Nat must decide that. Where is he, Uncle?"
asked the girl, looking out upon the quiet landscape,
touched with spring's tenderest green.
"Down in the medder, ploughin'. It's a toughish
bit, and he'll be late, I reckon ; for he took a long noon-
spell, and I give him a piece of my mind about it, so
I'll venter to say he won't touch a bit of victuals till
the last furrow is laid," answered Uncle Dan, plodding
away to wash his hands at the horse-trough.
" Nay, Uncle, it is his birthday, and surely he had a
right to a little rest, for he works like a slave, to please
us, though far from well, I'm thinking." And, waiting
for no reply, Ruth hurried in, filled a tankard with
cider, and tripped away to bring her lover home,
singing as she went, for Nat loved to hear her voice.
Down the green lane toward the river the happy
singer stepped, thinking in what sweet words she could
give the old man's message. But the song died on her
lips and the smiling eyes grew wistful suddenly ; for,
174 BY THE RIVER.
passing by the willow-trees, she saw the patien* oxen
standing in the field alone.
"Nat is hunting violets for me," she thought, with a
throb of pleasure ; for she was jealous of a viewless rival,
and valued every token of fidelity her lover gave her.
But as she drew nearer Ruth frowned ; for Nat lay
beside the river, evidently quite forgetful of scolding,
supper, and sweetheart. No, not of the latter; for a
little nosegay of violets lay ready near the paper on
which he seemed to be writing a song or sonnet to
accompany the gift.
Seeing this, the frown faded, as the girl stole noise-
lessly across the grass, to peep over his shoulder, with
a soft rebuke for his imprudence and delay.
Alas for Ruth ! One glance at the placid face, pil-
lowed on his arm, told her that this birthday was Nat's
last ; for the violets were less white than the cheek they
touched, the pencil had fallen from nerveless fingers, and
Death's hand had written " Finis " to both life and lay.
With a bitter cry, she gathered the weary head into her
arms, fearing she had come too late to say good-by.
But the eyes that opened were so tranquil, and the pale
lips that answered wore such a happy smile, she felt
that tears would mar his peace, and hushed her sobs,,
to listen as he whispered brokenly, with a glance that
brightened as it turned from the wide field where his
last hard day's work lay finished, to the quiet river,
whose lullaby was soothing him to sleep.
"Tell Uncle I did not stop till the job was done, nor
break my promise ; for the year is over now, and it was
so sweet to write again that I forgot to go home till it
was too late."
BY THE EIVEE. 175
" Nat, not too late. You shall work no more,
but write all day, without a care. We have been too
hard upon you, and you too patient with our blindness.
Dear lad, forgive us, and come home to live a happier
year than this has been," cried Ruth, trying with re-
morseful tenderness to keep the delicate spirit that was
escaping from her hold, like the butterfly that died
among her roses with broken wings.
But Nat had no desire to stay ; for he was going home,
to feel hunger, thirst, and weariness no more, to find a
love Ruth could not give, and to change earth's prose
to heaven's immortal poetry. Yet he lingered on the
threshold to look back and whisper gently : " It is
better so, sweetheart. There was no place for me here,
and I was homesick for my own friends and country.
I'm going to find them, and I'm quite content. Forget
me and be happy ; or remember me only in the spring-
time, when the world is loveliest and my birthday
comes. See,- this is all I had to give you; but my
heart was in it."
He tried to lift the unfinished song and give it to her ;
but it fluttered down upon his breast, and the violetu
dropped after, lying there unstirred by any breath, for
with the words a shadow deeper than that twilight laid
upon the fields stole over the face on Ruth's bosom, and
all the glory of the sunset sky could only touch it with
a pathetic peace, as the poet lay asleep beside the river.
He lies there still, the legend says, under the low
green mound, where violets bloom earliest, where the
old willows drop their golden tassels in the spring, and
blackbirds fill the air with their melodious ecstasy. No
song of his lived after him ; no trace of him remains.
176 BY THE EIVER.
except that nameless grave ; and few ever heard of one
who came and went like the snow for which they chris-
tened him. Yet it seems as if his gentle ghost still
haunted those sunny meadows, still listened to the
enchanted river, and touched with some mysterious
charm the places that knew him once. For strangers
find a soft attraction in the quiet landscape ; lovers seek
those green solitudes to tell the story that is always
new; and poets muse beside the shadowy stream, hear-
ing, as he heard, a call to live the life that lifts them
highest by unwavering fidelity to the gift Heaven
LETTY sat on the doorstep one breezy summer day,
looking down the road and wishing with all her
heart that something pleasant would happen. She
often did this ; and one of her earliest delights when a
lonely child was to sit there with a fairy book upon her
knee, waiting and watching in all good faith for some-
thing wonderful to happen.
In those days, Cinderella's golden coach dashing
round the corner to carry her away was the favorite
dream ; but at eighteen one thinks more of the prince
than either golden coach or splendid ball. But na
prince as yet had cut his way through the grove of
" laylocks " round the gate, and the little beauty still
dreamed waking dreams on the doorstep, with her work
foj'gotten in her lap.
Behind her in the quaint, quiet room Aunt Liddy
dozed in her easy chair, the clock ticked, the bird
chirped, old Bran snapped lazily at the flies, and noth
ing else broke the hush that brooded over the place,
It was always so, and Letty often felt as if an earth-
quake would be a blessed relief to the dreadful mo-
notony of her life.
To-day it was peculiarly trying, for a slight incident
had raffled the calm; and, though it lasted but a
178 LETTTS TRAMP.
moment, it had given Letty a glimpse into that lovely
" new world which is the old." A carriage containing a
gay young couple on their honeymoon trip had stopped
at the gate, for the bride had a fancy for a draught from
the mossy well, and the bridegroom blandly demanded
that her whim be gratified.
Letty served them, and while one pretty girl slaked
her thirst the other watched her with admiring eyes
and a tender interest, touched by envy. It was all
over in a minute. Then bonny bride and enamoured
bridegroom rolled away on that enchanted journey
which is taken but once in a lifetime, leaving a cloud
of dust behind and a deeper discontent in Letty's heart.
With a long sigh she had gone back to her seat, and,
closing her eyes upon a world that could offer her so
little, fell a-dreaming again, till a rough voice startled
her wide awake.
" I say, miss, can you give a poor fellow a bite and a
sup ? "
Opening her eyes, she saw a sturdy tramp leaning
over the low gate, so ragged, dusty, worn, and weary
that she forgave the look of admiration in the bold
black eyes which had been fixed on her longer than she
knew. Before she could answer, however, Aunt Liddy,
a hospitable old soul, called out from within,
" Certin, certin. Set right down on the doorstep
and rest a spell, while we see what we can do abou*
Letty vanished into the pantry, and the man thie\v
himself down in the shady porch, regardless of Bran'a
suspicious growl. He pulled off his hat, stretched out
his tired limbs, and leaned his rough head back among
LETTY'S TRAMP. 179
ihe woodbine leaves, with a long breath, as if nearly
When Letty brought him a plate of bread and meat,
oe took it from her so eagerly and with such a ravenous
look that she shrank back involuntarily. Seeing which
he said, with a poor attempt at a laugh,
" You needn't be afraid. I look like a rough cus-
tomer ; but I won't hurt you.
" Lawful sakes ! We ain't no call to be afraid of no
one, though we be lone women ; for Bran is better'n a
dozen men. A lamb to them he knows; but let any
one try to pester Letty, and I never see a fercer beast,"
said Aunt Liddy, as the girl went back for more food,
seeing the stranger's need.
" He knows Tm all right, and makes friends at once,
you see," answered the tramp, with a satisfied nod, as
Bran, after a brief investigation, sat down beside him,
with a pacific wag of the tail.
" Well, I never ! He don't often do that to strangers.
Guess you're fond of dumb critters," said Aunt Liddy,
.much impressed by Bran's unusual condescension.
" They've been my best friends, and I don't forget it,"
returned the man, giving the dog a bone, though half-
Something in the tone, the act, touched Letty's
tender heart, and made her own voice very sweet and
cordial as she said,
" Please have some milk. It's nice and cold."
The tramp put up both hands to take the bowl, and
as he did so looked into a face so full of compassion
that it seemed like an angel's leaning down to comfort
a lost and wearv soul. Hard as life had been to I he
180 LETTY'S TRAMP.
poor fellow, it had not spoiled him yet, as was plainly
proved by the change that softened his whole face like
magic, and trembled in the voice that said, as if it were
a sort of grace, " Gk>d bless you, Miss," as he bent his
head and drank.
Only a look of human sympathy and human gratitude ;
yet, in the drawing of a breath, it cast out Letty's fear,
and made the stranger feel as if he had found friends,
for it was the touch of Nature that makes the whole
world kin. Every one seemed to feel its influence.
Bran turned his benevolent eyes approvingly from his
mistress to his new friend : the girl sat down confid-
ingly ; and the old lady began to talk, for, being fond
of chat, she considered a stranger as a special provi-
" Where be you travelliu' ? "
" Nowhere in particular."
" Where did you come from, then ? " continued Aunt
Liddy, undaunted by the short answer.
" Do tell ! Guess you've been one of the rovin' sort,
ain't you ? "
" Haven't done much else."
" It don't appear to have agreed with you remarkable
well," said the blunt old lady, peering at him over her
u If I hadn't had the devil's own luck, I'd have been
a rich man, instead of a beggar," answered the tramp,
with a grim look and an ireful knitting of his black
" Been unfort'nate, have you ? I'm sorry for that ; but
it 'pears to me them as stays to home and works stiddy
LETTY^S TRAMP. 181
does better than them that goes hunt In* after luck,"
served Aunt Liddy, feeling it her duty to give a word
" Shouldn't wonder if you were right, ma'am. But
gome folks haven't got any home to stay in ; and fellows
of niy sort have to hunt after luck, for it won't come
"Ain't you got no friends, young man?"
" Not one. Lost the last yesterday."
" Took suddin, I suppose ? " and the old lady's face
was full of interest as she put the question.
" Merciful sakes ! How did it happen ? "
"Got hurt, couldn't be cured, so I drowned him,
"What!" shrieked Aunt Liddy, upsetting her foot-
stool with a horrified start.
" Only a dog, ma'am. I couldn't carry him, wouldn't
leave him to suffer ; so put him out of pain and came
The tramp had ceased eating, and sat with his head
on his hand in a despondent attitude, that told his story
better than words. His voice was gruffer than ever as
he spoke of his dog ; but the last word was husky, and
he put his hand on Bran's head with a touch that won
the good creature's heart entirely, and made him lick
the downcast face, with a little whine of sympathy and
Letty's eyes were full, and Aunt Liddy took snuff
and settled her footstool, feeling that something must
be done for one who showed signs of being worth the
182 LETUPS TRAMP.
" Poor creter ! And you was fond of him ? " she said
in a motherly tone ; for the man of five or six and
twenty was but a boy to her.
" I'd have been a brute if I wasn't fond of him, for he
stuck to me when all the other fellows cut me, and tried
to drag himself along with a broken leg, rathei than
leave me. Talk about friends! Give me a dumb
animal if you want one worth having."
A bitter tone was in the man's voice and a wrathful
spark kindled in his eyes, as if wrong as well as want
had made him what he was.
" Rest a little, and tell us about California. A neigh-
bor went there, and we like to hear news of that great,
Letty spoke, and the half-eager, half-timid voice was
very winning, especially to one who seldom heard such
now. Seeing her kindly interest, and glad to pay for
his meal in the only way he could, the man told some
of his adventures in brief but graphic words, while the
old woman plied him with questions and the young one
listened with a face so full of pretty wonder that the
Btory-teller was inspired to do his best.
Aunt Liddy's cap-frills stood erect with horror at
some of the hair-breadth escapes recounted ; but to
Letty it was better than any romance she had ever
read to listen to tales full of danger and hardship,
told by a living voice and face to face with the chief
actor in them all, who unconsciously betrayed that he
possessed many of the manly attributes women most
" After adventures like these, I don't wonder it seems
ha r d to settle down, as other folks do," she said warmly.
LETTrS TRAMP. 183
when the man stopped short, as if ashamed of talking
so much of his own affairs.
" I wouldn't mind trying it, though," he answered, as
he glanced about the sunny little room, so homelike
and reposeful, and so haunted by all the sweet influences
that touch men's hearts when most forlorn.
" You'd better," said Aunt Liddy, decidedly. " Git
work and stick to it ; and, if luck don't come, bread and
butter will, and in a world of woe mebby that's about
as much as any one on us ought to expect."
" I have tried to get it. But I'm such a hard-looking
chap no one wants me ; and I don't blame 'em. Look
at that hat, now ! Ain't that enough to spoil a man's
chance, let alone his looks ? " The young fellow held up
a battered object with such a comical mixture of dis-
gust and indignation that Letty could not help laugh-
ing ; and the blithe sound was so contagious that the
wanderer joined in it, cheered already by rest and food
and kindly words.
" It's singular what store men-folks do set by their
hats. My Moses couldn't never read his paper till he'd
put on his'n, and as for drivin' a nail bare-headed, in
doors or obi, he'd never think of such a thing," said
Aunt Liddy, with the air of one well versed in the
mysterious ways of men-folks.
But Letty clapped her hands, as if a brilliant idea
had flashed upon her, and, running to the back entry
returned with a straw hat, brown and dusty, but shady,
whole, and far more appropriate to the season than the
ragged felt the man was eying hopelessly.
" It isn't very good ; but it might do for a time.
We only keep it to scare folks, and I don't feel afraid
184 LETTT S TRAMP.
now. Would you mind if I gave it to you?" stain*
mered Letty, coloring up, as she tried to offer her poor
" Mind ! I guess I'd be glad to get it, fit or no fit,"
and, dropping the old hat, the tramp clapped on the ne\?
one, making his mirror of the bright eyes before him.
" It does nicely, and you're very welcome," said the
girl, getting rosier still, for there was something beside
gratitude in the brown face that had lost the dogged,
dangerous look it wore at first.
u Now, if you was to wash up and smooth that hair
ol yourn a trifle, you'd be a likely-looking young man ;
and, if you're civil-spoken and willin' to lend a hand
anywheres, you'll git work, I ain't a doubt," observed
Aunt Liddy, feeling a growing interest in the wayfarer,
and, womanlike, acknowledging the necessity of putting
the best foot foremost.
Letty ran for basin and towel, and, pointing to the
well, modestly retired into the kitchen, while Aunt
Liddy watched the vigorous scrubbing that went on in
the yard ; for the tramp splashed the water about like
a Newfoundland dog, and Bran assisted at the brief
toilet with hospitable zeal.
It seemed as if a different man came out from that
simple baptism; for the haggard cheek nad -a glow
upon it, the eyes had lost their hopelessness, and some-
thing like courage and self-respect shone in the face
that looked in at the door as the stranger gave back
basin and towel, saying, with a wave of the old straw
"I'm heartily obliged, ma'am. Would you kindly
tell me how far it is to the next big town?"
LETTY'S TRAMP. 185
" Twenty miles. The cars will take you right there,
and the deepo ain't fur," answered Aunt Liddy, show-
ing the way.
The man glanced at his ragged shoes, then squared
bis broad shoulders, as if bracing himself for the twenty
long hot miles that his weary feet must carry him, since
his pockets were empty, and he could not bring him-
self to ask for any thing but food enough to keep life
" Good-by, ma'am, and God bless you." And, slouch-
ing the hat over his eyes, he limped away, escorted to
the gate by Bran.
At the turn of the road he stopped and looked back
as wistfully as ever Letty had done along the shadowy
road, and as he looked it seemed as if he saw a you iger
self setting off with courage, hope, and energy upon
the journey, which alas! had ended here. His eye
went to the old well, as if there had been some heal-
ing in its water; then turned to the porch, where he
had been fed and comforted, and lingered there as if
gome kindly memory warmed his solitary heart.
Just then a little figure in blue gingham ran out aiur
came fluttering after him, accompanied by Bran, in a
state of riotous delight. Rosy and breathless, Letty
hurried to him, and, looking up with a face full of the
innocent compassion that never can offend, she said,
offering a parcel neatly folded up,
" Aunt Liddy sends you some dinner ; and this, so
that you needn't walk, unless you like, you are so lame."
As if more touched than he cared to show, the man
took the food, but gently put away the little roll of
greenbacks, saying quickly,
186 LETTrS TRAMP.
" Thank you for this ; but I can't take your money *
" We ain't rich, but we love to help folks. So yo
needn't be proud about it." And Letty looked ruffled
at his refusal.
" I'll take something else, if you don't mind," said
the tramp, pulling off his hat, with a sudden smile that
made his face look young and comely.
" What is it ? " And Letty looked up so innocently
that it was impossible to resist the impulse of a grate
His answer was to stoop and kiss the blooming
cheek, that instantly grew scarlet with girlish shame
and anger as she turned to fly. Catching her by the
hand, he said penitently,
"I couldn't help it, you're so good to me. Don't
begrudge me a kiss for luck. I need it, God knows ! "
The man's real destitution and despair broke out in
these words, and he grasped the little hand as if it was
the only thing that kept him from the manifold temp-
tations of a desperate mood.
It thrilled the girl like a cry for help, and made her
forget every thing except that a fellow-creature suffered.
She shook the big hand warmly, and said, with all her
" You're welcome, if it helps you. Good-by and good
luck to you ! " and ran away as fast as she had come.
The man stood motionless, and watched her till she
vanished, then turned and tramped sturdily on, mut-
tering to himself, with a suspicious gruffness in hia
" If I had a little mate like that alongside, I
my luck would turn."
LETTT^S TRAMP. 187
A WILD December night, with bitter wind and blind-
ing snow, reigned outside the long, rude building,
lighted only by furnace fires, that went roaring up the
tall chimneys, whence poured clouds of smoke and
showers of sparks, like beacons through the storm.
No living thing appeared in that shadowy place except
a matronly gray cat, sitting bolt upright upon an old
rug spread over a heap of sand near one of the fires
A newspaper and a tin pail were beside her, and she
seemed to have mounted guard, while the watchman
of the Foundry went his rounds.
A door stood half-open upon the sheltered side of
the building ; and suddenly, as if blown thither like
a storm-driven bird, a little figure came fluttering in,
breathless, half-frozen, and quite bewildered by a long
struggle with the pitiless gale. Feebly brushing away
the snow that blinded her, the poor thing looked about
her with frightened eyes ; and, seeing no one but tho
cat, seemed to take courage and crept toward the fire,
as if suffering for the moment conquered lear.
" Oh ! Pussy, let me warm myself one minute, for
I'm perished with the cold," she whispered, stretching
two benumbed hands to the blaze.
The cat opened her yellow eyes, and, evidently glad
to meet one of her own sex, began to purr hospitably
as she rustled across the newspaper to greet her guest,
There was something inexpressibly comforting in the
sound ; and, reassured by it, the girl pushed back her
188 LETTY^S TRAMP.
drenched hat, shook her snowy garments, and drew a
long breath, like one nearly spent. Yet, even while she
basked in the warmth that was salvation, her timid eyes
glanced about the great, gloomy place, and her attitude
was that of one ready to fly at a moment's warning.
Presently a fetep sounded on a flight of stairs leading
to some loft above The wanderer started like a hare,
and, drawing nearer to the door, paused as if to catch a
glimpse of the approaching face before she fled away
into the storm, that howled just then with a violence
which might well daunt a stouter heart.
A tall man, in a rough coat, with grizzled hair and
beard under an old fur cap, came slowly down the
steps, whistling softly to himself, as he swung his lantern
to and fro.
" An old man, and the cat is fond of him. I guess
I'll dare to ask my way, or I'll never get home," thought
the girl, as her eye scanned the new-comer with a
An involuntary rustle of her dress caught his ear,
and, lifting the lantern, he saw her at once ; but did
not speak, as if afraid of frightening her still more, for
her pale face and the appealing gesture of the out-
stretched hand told her fear and need better than her
" Oh ! please, I've lost my way and am nearly frozen.
Could I warm myself a bit and find out where I am?"
"Of course, you may. Why, bless your heart, I
wouldn't turn a dog out such a night as this, much less
a poor little soul like you," answered the man, in a
hearty tone, that rang true on the listening ear of the
LETTY'8 TRAMP. 189
Then he hung up the lantern, put a stool nearer the
fire, and beckoned her to approach. But even the
kindly words and act failed to win the timid creature ;
for she drew back as he advanced, gave a glance at the
door, and said, as if appealing to the best instincts of
the man, whom she longed yet feared to trust,
" Thank you ; but it's getting late, and I ought to be
getting on, if I knew the way. Perhaps you've got
some girls of your own, so you can understand how
scared I am to be lost at night and in such a strange
place as this."
The man stared, then laughed, and, shaking the snow
from his curly hair and beard, showed himself to be a
young and pleasant-looking fellow, with a merry eye,
an honest brown face, and a hearty voice.
" You thought I was an old chap, did you ? Wish I
was, if it would be any comfort to you. I've got no
little girls, neither, more's the pity ; but you needn't
be afraid of me, though it is late and lonely. Why,
Lord love you, child, I'm not a brute ! Sit down and
thaw out, while you tell me where you want to go."
The half-indignant tone of the man made his guest
feel as if she had insulted him ; and she obeyed with
a docility which appeased his anger at once. Seating
herself upon the stool, she leaned toward the fire with
an irrepressible shiver, and tried to keep her teeth from
chattering as she told her little story.
" I want work badly, and went a long way, hoping
to get some. But I didn't find it, and that discouraged
me very much. I had no money, so had to walk, and
the storm got so bad I lost my way. Then I was
scared and half-frozen, and so bewildered I think I'd
190 LETTY'S TbAMP.
have died if I hadn't seen the light and come in
" I guess you would. And the best thing you can
do now is to stop till the storm lifts. Shouldn't wonder
if it did about midnight," said the man, stirring up
the red embers, as if anxious to do something for her
" But that is so late, and I must be ever so far away
from home ; for I came over the wrong bridge. Oh,
me ! "What shall I do ? " And the poor thing wrung
her hands in dismay.
" Won't your folks go to look for you ? "
" I haven't any one in the world to care for me.
The woman where I board won't trouble herself; or
she'll think I've run away, because I owe her money.
I might be dead in the river, and no one would
mind ! " sighed the girl, leaning her head on her hands,
while some bright, dishevelled hair fell over her face, as
if to hide its youth and innocence from a world that
seemed to have no shelter for either.
"That's hard! But don't you be down-hearted,
child. Things often mend when they seem worst. I
know ; for I've been through the mill, and had friends
raised up to me when I'd about done with living, as a
bad job. I can't leave here till sunrise ; but I'll do the
best I can for you till then. Sam will be along early,
and he'll see to you, if you can't trust me ; for he is as
gray as a badger, and he's got six girls of his own, if
that's a recommendation. I've got nothing but a cat;
and she trusts me. Don't you, old Sally ? "
As he spoke, the man sat down upon the sand-heap,
and Sally leaped to his knee, rubbing her head against
his cheek, with a soft sound of confidence and content-
ment which seemed to afford her friend great satisfac-
tion. The girl smiled faintly, and said, in an apologetic
tone, for there had been something like reproach in the
man's voice, as he asked the dumb animal to vouch foi
" I don't believe I'd have dared to come in here if I
hadn't seen Pussy. But I thought any one who was
good to her would be good to me ; and now I'm sure
"That's right. You see, I'm a lonesome sort of a
chap and like something to pet. So I took old Sally,
and we get on capitally. She won't let the other fellows
touch her, but always comes and sits with me when 1
am alone here nights. And it's surprising what good
company she is."
He laughed as he spoke, as if half-ashamed of the ami-
able weakness, yet anxious to put his guest at her ease.
He evidently succeeded ; for she stretched two shabby
little boots toward the fire and leaned her head against
a grimy beam, saying, with a sigh of weariness,
" It is very comfortable ; but the heat makes me feel
queer and dizzy."
"You're just about used up; and I'm going to give
you a sup of hot coffee. That'll bring you round in a
jifly. It's time for supper. Hey, Sally?"
As he spoke, the man set his pail in the hot ashes,
unfolded a parcel of bread and meat, and, laying a rude
sandwich on a clean bit of paper, offered it with a hos-
" Have a bit. Do, now. You've had a hard pull and
need something to set you up."
192 LETTY'S TRAMP.
Leaning forward to give and take, two faces came
into the clear red glow of the furnace-fire, and a look
of recognition flashed into each so suddenly that it
startled both man and maid into involuntary frankness
"Why, it's little Letty!"
" And you are my tramp ! "
A change so rapid as to be almost ludicrous came
over the pair in the drawing of a breath. She smoothed
back her hair and hid the shabby boots, yet sat more
erect upon the stool, as if she had a right there and felt
no longer any fear. He pulled off his cap, with a pleas-
ant mixture of respect, surprise, and satisfaction in his
manner, as he said, in a half-proud, half-humble tone,
"No, miss; for, thanks to you, I'm a decent man
" Then you did find work and get on ? " she exclaimed,
with a bright, wistful look, that touched him very
"Didn't you get my letter?" he asked eagerly. "I
sent you the first dollar I earned, and told you and the
old lady I was all right."
Letty shook her head, and all the light passed out of
her face, leaving it pathetic in its patient sorrow.
*' Aunt Liddy died a week after you were there, so
euddenly that every thing was in confusion, and I never
got the letter. I wish she had known of it, because it
would have pleased her so. We often talked about
you and hoped you'd do well. We led such quiet
lives, you see, that any little thing interested us for a
" It was a little thing to you, I dare say ; but it wa
LETTY'S TRAMP. 193
salvation to me. Not the money or the food only, but
the kindness of the old lady, and and the look in your
eweet face, miss. I'd got so far down, through sickness
and bad luck, that there didn't seem any thing left for
me but deviltry or death. That day it was a toss-up
between any bad job that came along first and drown-
ing, like my dog. That seemed sort of mean, though,
and I felt more like being revenged somehow on the
world, that had been so hard on me."
He stopped short, breathing hard, with a sudden
spark in his black eyes and a nervous clenching of the
strong hands that made Letty shrink ; for he seemed to
speak in spite of himself, as if the memory of that time
had left its impress on his life.
"But you didn't do any thing bad. I'm sure you
didn't ; for Aunt Liddy said there was the making of a
man in you, because you were so quick to feel a little
bit of kindness and take good advice."
The soft, eager voice of the girl seemed to work the
miracle anew, for a smile broke over his face, the angry
spark was quenched, and the clenched hand opened to
offer again all it had to give, as he said, with a charac-
teristic mingling of fun and feeling m his voice,
" I don't know much about angels ; but I felt as if I'd
met a couple that day, for they saved me from destruc-
tion. You cast your bread upon the waters, and it's
come back when, maybe, you need it 'most as much as
I did then. 'Tisn't half as nice as yours ; but perhaps
a blessing will do as well as butter."
Letty took the brown bread, feeling that lie had said
the beat grace over it; and while she ate he talked,
evidently moved to open his heart by the memory of
194 LETTY'S TRAMP.
the past, and eager to show that he had manfully per<
eisted in the well-doing his angels had advised.
"That was nearly two years ago, you know, and I've
been hard at it ever since. I took any thing that come
along, and was glad to get it. The hat did that, I firmly
believe." And he laughed a short laugh, adding soberly,
w But I didn't take to work at first, for I'd been a
rover and liked it ; so it took a long pull and a strong
pull and a pull all together before I settled down steady.
The hat and the " he was going to say " kiss ; " but a
look at the lonely little creature sitting there so con-
fidingly made him change the word to "the money
seemed to bring me luck ; and I followed the advice of the
good old lady, and stuck to my work till I got to liking it.
I've been here more than a year now, and am getting on
so well I shall be overseer before long. I'm only watch-
man for a short time. Old Sam has been sick, and they
wanted some one they could trust, so they chose me."
It was good to see him square his broad shoulders
and throw back his head as he said that; and pretty to
see Letty nod and smile with sincerest pleasure in his
success, as she said,
"It looks dark and ugly now ; but I've seen a foundry
when they were casting, and it was splendid to watch
the men manage the furnaces and do wonderful things
with great hammers and moulds and buckets of red-hot
melted iron. I like to know you do such things, and
now I'm not afraid. It seems sort of romantic and
grand to work in this place, where every one must be
strong and brave and skilful to get on."
ki That's it. That's why I like it ; don't you see ? "
he answered, brightening with pleasure at her artless
LETTT^S TRAMP. 195
praise. " You just come some casting day, and I'll show
you sights you won't forget in a hurry. If there
wasn't danger and noise and good hard work wrastling
with fire and iron, and keeping a rough set of fellows
in order, I shouldn't stay ; for the restless fit comes on
sometimes, and I feel as if I must cut away somewhere.
Born so, and can't help it. Maybe I could, if I had
something to anchor me ; but, as you say, ' Nobody
would care much if I was in the river,' and that's bad
for a chap like me."
" Sally would care," said the girl, quite soberly ; for
she sympathized now with the man's loneliness as she
could not have done two years ago.
" So she would ; but I'll take her with me when I
leave not for the river, mind you. I'm in no danger
of that nonsense now. But, if I go on a tramp (and I
may, if the fit gets too strong for me), she shall go too ;
and we'll be Dick Whittington and his cat over again."
He spoke in a devil-may-care tone, and patted the
plump Tabby with a curious mixture of boyish reck-
lessness and a man's sad knowledge of life in his face.
" Don't go," pleaded Letty, feeling that she had a
jertain responsibility in the matter. " I should mind,
is well as Sally ; for, if Aunt Liddy and I helped put
you in a good way, it would be a disappointment to
have you go wrong. Please stop here, and I'll try and
come to see you work some day, if I can get time.
I'm likely to have plenty of it, I'm afraid."
She began eagerly, but ended with a despondent
droop of the whole figure, that made her new friend
forget himself in interest for her.
" I'll stop, honor bright. And you come and look
196 LETTY'S TRAMP.
after me now and then. That'll keep me steady. Se
if it don't. But tell me how you are getting on ?
Little down on your luck just now, I guess? Come,
I've told my story, you tell yours, and maybe I can
lend a hand. I owe you a good turn, you know ; and
I'm one that likes to pay his debts, if he can."
" You did pay yours ; but I never got the letter, for
I came away after Aunty died. You see I wasn't her
own niece, only sort of a distant relation ; and she
took me because my own people were gone. Her son
had all she left, it wasn't much ; and she told him to
be good to me. But I soon saw that I was a burden,
and couldn't bear to stay. So I went away, to take
care of myself. I liked it at first ; but this winter,
times are so hard and work so scarce, I don't get on
" What do you do, miss ? ri asked Whittington, with
added respect ; because in her shabby dress and altered
face he read the story of a struggle Letty was too
proud to tell.
" I sew," she answered briefly, smoothing out her wet
shawl with a hand so thin and small it was pathetic to
see, when one remembered that nothing but a needle
in those slender fingers kept want and sin at bay.
The kindly fellow seemed to feel that ; and, as his
eye went from his own strong right arm to the sledge-
hammer it often swung, the instinct of protection so
keen in manly men made him long to stand between
poor Letty and the hard world he knew so well. The
magnetism of sympathy irresistibly attracted iron to
steel, while little needle felt assured that big hammer
would be able to beat down many of the obstacles
LETTT'S TRAMP. 197
wlrich now seemed insurmountable, if she only dared
to ask for aid. But help came without the asking.
"Been aftei work, you say? Why, we could give
you heaps of it, if you don't mind it's being coarse and
plain. This sort of thing, you know," touching his red
shirt with a business-like air. " Our men use 'em alto-
gether, and like 'em strong in the seams. Some ain't,
and buttons fly off just looking at 'em. That makes a
fellow mad, and swearing comes easy."
But Letty shook her head, though she couldn't heip
Broiling at his sober way of explaining the case and its
" I've tried that work, and it doesn't pay. Six cents
for a shirt, and sometimes only four, isn't enough to earn
one's board and clothes and fire, even if one made half
a dozen a day. You can't get them for that, and some-
body grows rich while we starve.
" Hanged if I ever buy another ! See here, you make
me enough for a year, and we'll have a fair bargain
between us. That is, if you can't do better and don't
mind," he added, suddenly abating his warmth and
looking almost bashful over the well-meant proposal.
"I'd love to do it. Only you mustn't pay too much,"
Baid Letty, glad of any thing to keep her hands and
thoughts busy, for life was very bare and cold just
" All right. I'll see to it directly, and nobody be the
wiser," returned her new employer, privately resolving
to order a bale of red flannel on the morrow, and pay
fabulous prices for the work of the little friend who had
once kept him from worse than starvation.
It was not much to offer, and red flannel was not a
198 LETTY'S TRAMP.
romantic subject of conversation ; but something in the
prompt relief and the hearty good-will of the man went
to Letty's heart, already full to overflowing with many
cares and troubles. She tried to thank him, but could
only cover up her face and sob. It was so sweet and
comfortable to find any one who cared enough for her
to lift her out of the slough of despond, which was to
her as dangerous a mood as the desperate one he had
known. There were hands enough to beckon the win-
some creature to the wrong side of the quagmire, where
BO many miss the stepping-stones ; but she felt that this
was the right side, and the hand an honest one, though
rough and grimy with hard work. So the tears were
glad and grateful tears, and she let them flow, melting
the fatal frost that had chilled her hope and faith in
God and man.
But the causer of them could not bear the sight, for
the contrast between this forlorn girl and the blithe,
blooming Letty of that memorable day was piteous.
Manlike, he tried to express his sympathy in deeds as
well as words, and, hastily filling a tin cup from the
coffee-can, pressed it upon her with a fatherly stroke of
the bent head and a soothing,
" Now, my dear, just take a sip of this, and don't cry
any more. "We'll straighten things out. So cheer up,
and let me lend a hand anywhere, anyhow."
But hunger and fear, weariness and cold, had been
too much for poor Letty ; and, in the act of lifting up
her wet face to thank him, the light left her eyes, and
she would have slipped to the ground, if he had not
In a minute she was herself again, lying on the old
LETTY'S TRAMP. 199
rug, with snow upon her forehead and some one fanning
her with a newspaper.
" I thought I was going to die," she whispered, look-
ing about her in a dazed sort of way.
" Not a bit of it ! You're going to sleep. That's
What you want, and old Sally's going to sit by while
you do it. It's a hardish pillow ; but I've put ray hand-
kerchief over it, and, being Monday, its spick-and-span
Letty smiled as she turned her cheek to the faded
silk handkerchief laid over the rolled-up coat under her
head, for Pussy was nestling close beside her, as if her
presence was both a comfort and defence. Yet the
girl's eyes filled even while she smiled, for, when most
desolate, a friend had been raised up to her ; and, though
the face bending over her was dark and shaggy, there
was no fear in her own, as she said half-appealingly,
" I don't believe I could go if I tried, I'm so worn out.
But you'll take care of me, and in the morning show
me the way home ? "
"Please God, I will!" he answered, as solemnly as if
taking an oath, adding, as he stepped back to the stool
she had left: "I shall stay here and read my paper.
Nothing shall scare you ; so make yourself comfortable,
and drop off with an easy mind."
Sitting there, he saw her lay her hands together, aa
if she said some little prayer; then, turning her face
from the light, she fell asleep, lulled by the drowsy
purr of the humble friend to whom she clung even in
her dreams. He only looked a minute, for something
that was neither the shimmer of firelight nor the glitter
200 LETTY'S TRAMP.
of snow-dust made the quiet group dance mistily before
his eyes ; and, forgetting his paper, he fell to drying
It was both comical and pleasant to see how tenderly
he touched the battered thing, with what interest he
surveyed it, perched on his big hand, and how carefully
he smoothed out the ribbons, evidently much bewildered
as to which was the front and which the back. Giving
up the puzzle, he hung it on the handle of the great
hammer, and, leaning his chin on his hand, began to
build castles in the air and watch the red embers, as if
he saw in them some vision of the future that was very
Hour after hour struck from the city clocks across
the river ; the lantern burned itself out, untrimmed ; the
storm died away ; and a soft, white silence followed the
turmoil of the night. Still Letty slept like a tired child
still old Sally, faithful to her trust, lay in the circle ot
the girl's arm ; and still the watchman sat before the
fire, dreaming waking dreams, as he had often done
before ; but never any half so earnest, sweet, and hope-
ful as those that seemed to weave a tender romance
about the innocent sleeper, to whom he was loyally
paying a debt of gratitude with such poor hospitality
as he could show.
Dawn came up rosy and clear along the east ; and the
first level ray of wintry sunlight, as it struck across the
foundry walls, fell on Letty's placid face, with the bright
hair shining like a halo round it.
Feeling very much as if he had entertaiued an angel
unaware, the man stood enjoying the pretty picture,
hesitating to wake her, yet fearing that a gruff hallo
LETTY' S TRAMP.
from old Sam might do it too suddenly. Somehow he
hated to have her go ; for the gloomy foundry seemed
an enchanted sort of place this morning, with a purer
heaven and earth outside, and within the " little mate "
whom he felt a strong desire to keep " always along-
side," for something better than luck's sake.
He was smiling to himself over the thought, yet half
ashamed to own how it had grown and strengthened in
a night, when Letty opened wide a pair of eyes full of the
peace sleep brings and the soft lustre that comes after
tears. Involuntarily the man drew back, and waited
silently for her to speak. She looked bewildered for a
moment, then remembered, and sprang up, full of the
relief and fresh gratitude that came with her first wak
" How long I've slept ! How very kind you were to
me! I can go now, if you will start me right."
" You are heartily welcome ! I can take you home
at once, unless you'd rather wait for Sam," he answered,
with a quick look toward the door, as if already jealous
of the venerable Samuel.
" I'd rather go before any one comes. But perhaps
you ought not to leave yet ? I wouldn't like to take
you from your duty," began Letty, looking about her
for her hat.
" Duty be hanged ! I'm going to see you safe home,
if you'll let me. Here's your hat. I dried it ; but it
don't look quite shipshape somehow." And taking the
shabby little object from the nail where it hung, he
presented it with such respectful care that a glimmer
of the old mirth fulness came into Letty's face, as she
said, surveying it with much disfavor,
202 LETTY'S TRAXP.
11 It is almost as bad as the one I gave you ; but it
" I've got that old thing up at my place now. Keep
it for luck. Wish I had one for you. Hold on ! Here's
a tippet nice and warm. Have it for a hood. You'll
find it cold outside.'
He was so intent on making her comfortable that
Letty could not refuse, and tied on the tippet, while he
refilled the cup with hot coffee, carefully saved for her
"Little Red Riding Hood! Blest if you ain't!"
he exclaimed admiringly, as he turned to her again,
and saw the sweet face in its new head-gear.
" But you are not the wolf," she answered, with a smile
like sunshine, bending to drink from the cup he held.
As she lifted her head, the blue eyes and the black
exchanged again the subtle glance of sympathy that
made them friends before ; only now the blue onea
looked up full of gratitude, and the black ones looked
down soft with pity. Neither spoke ; but Letty stooped,
and, gathering old Sally in her arms, kissed the friendly
creature, then followed her guide to the door.
" How beautiful ! " she cried, as the sun came dazzling
down upon the snow, that hid all dark and ugly things
with a veil of purity.
"Looks kind of bridal, don't it?" said the man,
taking a long breath of the frosty air, and straightening
himself up, as if anxious to look his best by daylight.
He never had looked better, in spite of the old coat
and red shirt; for the glow of the furnace-fire still
seemed to touch his brown face, the happy visions of
the night still shone in his eyes, and the protective
kindliness of a generous nature gave dignity to the
LETTY'S TRAMP. 203
rough figure, as lie strode into the snow and stretched
o o '
Lis hand to Letty, saying cheerily,
"Pretty deep, but hold on to me, and I'll get
you through. Better take ray hand ; I washed it
Letty did take it in both her little ones ; and they went
away together through the deserted streets, feeling as if
they were the only pair alive in the still white world
that looked so lovely in the early sunshine.
The girl was surprised to find how short the way
seemed ; for, in spite of drifts, she got on bravely, with
a strong arm to help and a friendly voice to encourage
her. Yet when she reached the last corner she stopped,
and said, with a sudden shyness which he understood
" I'd best go on alone now. But I'm very grateful
to you ! Please tell me your name. I'd love to k ,ow
who my friend is, though I never shall forge' /via
"Nor I yours. Joe Stone is my name. Bu I'd
rather you called me your tramp till we get something
better," he answered, with a laugh in his eyes, as he
bent toward her for a hearty shake of the slender hand
that had grown warm in his.
" I will 1 Good-by, good-by ! " And, suddenly re-
membering how they parted before, Letty blushed
like a rose, and ran away as fast as the drifts would
" And I'll call you my Letty some day, if I'm not
much mistaken," Joe said to himself, with a decided
nod, as he went back to the foundry, feeling that tha
world looked more " sort of bridal " than ever
204 LETTI'S TRAMP.
He was not mistaken ; for, when spring budded, hit
dream came true, and in the little sewing-girl, who
bound him with a silken thread so soft and strong it
never broke, he found an anchor that held him fast to
happiness and home. To Letty something wonderful
happened at last. The prince came when most she
needed him ; and, though even when the beggar's rags
fell off his only crown was the old hat, his royal robes
red flannel and fustian, his sceptre a sledge-hammer,
she knew and loved him, for
" The man was a man for a' that."
HOW THEY WALKED INTO LENNOX'S L1F&
out for a drive, Harry?"
"Have a game of billiards?"
" Too tired."
" Go and call on the Fairchilds ? "
"Having an unfortunate prejudice against country
girls, I respectfully decline."
" What will you do, then ? "
" Nothing, thank you."
And, settling himself more luxuriously upon the
couch, Lennox closed his eyes, and appeared to slum-
ber tranquilly. Kate shook her head, and stood re-
garding her brother despondently, till a sudden idea
made her turn toward the window, exclaiming ab-
" Scarlet stockings, Harry ! "
u Where ? " and, as if the words were a spell to break
the deepest day-dream, Lennox hurried to the window,
with an unusual expression of interest in his listless
" I thought that would succeed I She isn't there, but
206 SCARLET STOCKINGS.
I've got you up, and you are not to go down again,"
laughed Kate, taking possession of the sofa.
" Not a bad manoeuvre. I don't mind : it's about
time for the one interesting event of the day to occur,
so I'll watch for myself, thank you," and Lennox took
the easy chair by the window with a shrug and a yawn.
" I'm glad any thing does interest you." said Kate,
petulantly. " I don't think it amounts to much, for,
though you perch yourself at the window every day
to see that girl pass, you don't care enough about it to
ask her name."
" I've been waiting to be told."
"It's Belle Morgan, the doctor's daughter, and my
" Then, of course, she is a blue-belle ? "
"Don't try to be witty or sarcastic with her, for she
will beat you at that."
" Not a dumb-belle, then ? "
" Quite the reverse : she talks a good deal, and very
well, too, when she likes."
" She is very pretty : has anybody the right to call
her 'Ma belle'?"
" Many would be glad to do so, but she won't have
any thing to say to them."
"A Canterbury belle, in every sense of the word,
Ihen ? "
" She might be, for all Canterbury loves her ; but she
isn't fashionable, and has more friends among the poor
than among the rich."
"Ah, I see, a diving-bell, who knows how to go
down into a sea of troubles, and bring up the pearls
HOW THEY WALKED, ETC. 207
"I'll tell her that, it will please her. You are really
waking up, Harry," and Kate smiled approvingly upon
" This page of ' Belle's Life ' is rather amusing, so
read away," said Lennox, glancing up the street, as if
he awaited the appearance of the next edition with
" There isn't much to tell ; she is a nice, bright, en-
ergetic, warm-hearted dear ; the pride of the doctor's
heart, and a favorite with every one, though she ia
" Does and says what she likes, is very blunt and
honest, has ideas and principles of her own, goes to
parties in high dresses, won't dance round dances, and
wears red stockings, though Mrs. Plantagenet says it's
"Rather a jolly little person, I fancy. Why haven't
we met her at some of the tea-fights and muffin-worries
we've been to lately ? "
" It may make you angry, but it will do you good,
so I'll tell. She didn't care enough about seeing the
distinguished stranger to come ; that's the truth."
" Sensible girl, to spare herself hours of mortal dul-
ness, gossip, and dyspepsia," was the placid reply.
" She has seen you, though, at church, and dawdling
about town, and she called you ' Sir Charles Cold-
stream,' on the spot. How does that suit?" asked
" Not bad ; I rather like that. Wish she'd call some
day, and stir us up."
" She won't ; I asked her, but she said she was very
208 SCARLET STQCKINUb.
busy, and told Jessy Tudor she wasn't fond of pea-
"I don't exactly see the connection."
" Stupid boy ! she meant you, of course."
" Oh, I'm peacocks, am I ? "
B I don't wish to be rude, but I really do think you
are vain of your good looks, elegant accomplishments,
and the impression you make wherever you go. When
it's worth while, you exert yourself, and are altogether
fascinating; but the 'I come-see-and-conquer ' air you
put on spoils it all for sensible people."
" It strikes me that Miss Morgan has slightly infected
you with her oddity, as far as bluntness goes. Fire
away! it's rather amusing to be abused when one is
dying of ennui."
" That's grateful and complimentary to me, when 1
have devoted myself to you ever since you came. But
every thing bores you, and the only sign of interest
you've shown is in those absurd red hose. I should
like to know what the charm is," said Kate, sharply.
" Impossible to say ; accept the fact calmly as I do,
and be grateful that there is one glimpse of color, life,
and spirit in this aristocratic tomb of a town."
" You are not obliged to stay in it ! " fiercely.
" Begging your pardon, my dove, but I am. I prom-
ised to give you my enlivening society for a month, and
a Lennox keeps his word, even at the cost of his life."
" I'm sorry I asked such a saciifice ; but I innocently
thought that, after being away for five long years, you
might care to see your orphan sister," and the dove
produced her handkerchief with a plaintive sniff.
"Now, my dear creature, don't be melodramatic, I
THEY WALKED, ETC. 209
beg of you ! " cried her brother, imploringly. " I wished
to come, I pined to embrace you, and, I give you my
word, I don't blame you for the stupidity of this con-
" It never was so gay as since you came, for every
one has tried to make it pleasant for you," cried Katej
ruffled at his indifference to the hospitable efforts ^f
herself and friends. " But you don't care for any of
our simple amusements, because you are spoilt by the
flattery, gayety, and nonsense of foreign society. If I
didn't know it was half affectation, I should be in de-
spair, you are so blase and absurd. It's always the
way with men : if one happens to be handsome, accom-
plished, and talented, he puts on aa many airs, and is
as vain as any silly girl."
" Don't you think if you took breath you'd get on
faster, my dear ? " asked the imperturbable gentleman,
as Kate paused with a gasp.
" I know it's useless for me to talk, as you don't care
a straw what I say ; but it's true, and some day you'll
wish you had done something worth doing all these
years. I was so proud of you, so fond of you, that I
can't help being disappointed to find you with no more
ambition than to kill time comfortably, no interest in
any thing but your own pleasures, and only energy
enough to amuse yourself with a pair of scarlet
Pathetic as poor Kate's face and voice were, it was
impossible to help laughing at the comical conclusion
of her lament. Lennox tried to hide the smile on his
lips by affecting to curl his moustache with care, and to
gaze pensively out as if touched by her appeal. But
210 SCARLET STOCKINGS.
he wasn't, oh, bless you, no ! she was only his sister
and, though she mio-ht have talked with the wisdom
' O O
of Solomon and the eloquence of Demosthenes, it
wouldn't have done a particle of good. Sisters do
very well to work for one, to pet one, and play confi
dante when one's love affairs need feminine wit to con
duct them ; but when they begin to reprove, or criticise^
or moralize, it won't do, and can't be allowed, of course,
Lennox never snubbed anybody, but blandly extin-
guished them by a polite acquiescence in all their
affirmations, for the time being, and then went on in
his own way as if nothing had been said.
" I dare say you are right ; I'll go and think over
your very sensible advice," and, as if roused to un-
wonted exertion by the stings of an accusing con-
science, he left the room abruptly.
" I do believe I've made an impression at last ! He's
actually gone out to think over what I've said. Dear
Harry, I was sure he had a heart, if one only knew
how to get at it ! " and with a sigh of satisfaction Kate
went to the window to behold the " Dear Harry " going
briskly down the street after a pair of scarlet stockings.
A spark of anger kindled in her eyes as she watched
him, and when he vanished she still stood knitting her
brows in deep thought, for a grand idea was dawning
It was a dull town ; no one could deny that, for
everybody was so intensely proper and well-born that
nobody dared to be jolly. All the houses were square,
aristocratic mansions with Revolutionary elms in front
and spacious coach-houses behind. The knockers had
a supercilious perk to their bronze or brass noses, the
SOW THEY WALKED, ETC. 211
dandelions on the lawns had a highly connected air,
and the very pigs were evidently descended from " our
first families." Stately dinner-parties, decorous dances,
moral picnics, and much tea-pot gossiping were the
social resources of the place. Of course, the young
people flirted, for that diversion is apparently irradi-
cable even in the " best society," but it was done with
a propriety which was edifying to behold.
One can easily imagine that such a starched state of
things would not be particularly attractive to a trav-
elled young gentleman like Lennox, who, as Kate very
truly said, had been spoilt by the flattery, luxury, and
gayety of foreign society. He did his best, but by the
end of the first week ennui claimed him for its own,
and passive endurance was all that was left him. From
perfect despair he was rescued by the scarlet stockings,
which went tripping by one day as he stood at the win-
dow, planning some means of escape.
A brisk, blithe-faced girl passed in a gray walking
suit with a distracting pair of high-heeled boots and
glimpses of scarlet at the ankle. Modest, perfectly so,
I assure you, were the glimpses ; but the feet were so
decidedly pretty that one forgot to look at the face
appertaining thereunto. It wasn't a remarkably lovely
face, but it was a happy, wholesome one, with all sorts
of good little dimples in cheek and chin, sunshiny
twinkles in the black eyes, and a decided yet lovable
look about the mouth that was quite satisfactory. A
busy, bustling little body she seemed to be, for sack-
pockets and muff were full of bundles, and the trim
boots tripped briskly over the ground, as if the girl's
heart were as light as her heels. Somehow this active,
212 SGAELET STOCKINGS.
pleasant figure seemed to wake up the whole street,
and leave a streak of sunshine behind it, for every one
nodded as it passed, and the primmest faces relaxed
into smiles, which lingered when the girl had gone.
"Uncommonly pretty feet, she walks well, which
American girls seldom do, all waddle or prance,
nice face, but the boots are French, and it does my
heart good to see them."
Lennox made these observations to himself as the
young lady approached, nodded to Kate at another
window, gave a quick but comprehensive glance at
himself and trotted round the corner, leaving the im-
pression on his mind that a whiff of fresh spring air
had blown through the street in spite of the December
snow. He didn't trouble himself to ask who it was,
but fell into the way of lounging in the bay-window at
about three P.M., and watching the gray and scarlet
figure pass with its blooming cheeks, bright eyes, and
elastic step. Having nothing else to do, he took to
petting this new whim, and quite depended on the
daily stirring up which the sight of the energetic dam-
sel gave him. Kate saw it all, but took no notice till
the day of the little tiff above recorded ; after that
she was as soft as a summer sea, and by some clever
stroke had Belle Morgan to tea that very week.
Lennox was one of the best-tempered fellows in the
world, but the " peacocks " did rather nettle him, because
there was some truth in the insinuation ; so he took care
to put on no airs or try to be fascinating in the presence
of Miss Belle. In truth, he soon forgot himself entirely,
and enjoyed her oddities with a relish, after the prim
proprieties of the other young ladies who had simpered
WHEEE THEY LED HIM 213
and sighed before him. For the first time in his life,
the "Crusher," as his male friends called him, got
crashed; for Belle, with the subtle skill of a quick-
witted, keen-sighted girl, soon saw and condemned the
elegant affectations which others called foreign polish.
A look, a word, a gesture from a pretty woman, is often
more eloquent and impressive than moral essays or semi-
occasional twinges of conscience ; and in the presence of
one satirical little person Sir Charles Coldstream soon
ceased to deserve the name.
Belle seemed to get over her hurry and to find time
for occasional relaxation, but one never knew in what
mood he might find her, for the weathercock was not
more changeable than she. Lennox liked that, and
found the muffin-worries quite endurable with this sauce
piquante to relieve their insipidity. Presently he dis-
covered that he was suffering for exercise, and formed
the wholesome habit of promenading the town about
three P.M. ; Kate said, to follow the scarlet stockings.
WHERE THEY LED HIM.
" WHITHER away, Miss Morgan ? " asked Lennox, as
he overtook her one bitter cold day.
" I'm taking my constitutional."
So am I."
u With a difference," and Belle glanced at the blue-
214 SCARLET STOCKINGS.
nosed, muffle d-up gentleman strolling along beside hef
with an occasional shiver and shrug.
" After a winter in the south of France, one does not
find arctic weather like this easy to bear," he said, with
a disgusted air.
" I like it, and do my five or six miles a day, which
keeps me in what fine ladies call ' rude health,' " answered
Belle, walking him on at a pace which soon made his
furs a burden.
She was a famous pedestrian, and a little proud of
her powers ; but she outdid all former feats that day,
and got over the ground in gallant style. Something
in her manner put her escort on his mettle ; and his usual
lounge was turned into a brisk march, which set his
blood dancing, face glowing, and spirits effervescing as
they had not done for many a day.
"There! you look more like your real self now," said
Belle, with the first sign of approval she had ever vouch-
safed him, as he rejoined her after a race to recover her
veil, which the wind whisked away over hedge and
"Are you sure you know what my real self is?" he
asked, with a touch of the " conquering hero " air.
" Not a doubt of it. I always know a soldier when I
see one," returned Belle, decidedly.
" A soldier ! that's the last thing I should expect to
be accused of," and Lennox looked both surprised and
" There's a flash in your eye and a ring to your voice,
occasionally, which made me suspect that you had fire
and energy enough if you only chose to show it, and
the spirit with which you have just executed the ' Mor-
WHERE THEY LED HIM. 215
gan Quickstep' proves that I was right," returned
" Then I am not altogether a ' peacock ' ? " said Len-
nox, significantly, for during the chat, which had been
as brisk as the walk, Belle had given his besetting sins
several sly hits, and he couldn't resist one return shot,
much as her unexpected compliment pleased him.
Poor Belle blushed up to her forehead, tried to look
as if she did not understand, and gladly hid her confu-
sion behind the recovered veil without a word.
There was a decided display both of the " flash " and
the "ring," as Lennox looked at the suddenly subdued
young lady, and, quite satisfied with his retaliation,
gave the order, "Forward, march!" which brought
them to the garden-gate breathless, but better friends
The next time the young people met, Belle was in
such a hurry that she went round the corner with an
abstracted expression which was quite a triumph of art.
Just then, off tumbled the lid of the basket she carried ;
and Lennox, rescuing it from a puddle, obligingly helped
readjust it over a funny collection of bottles, dishes, and
tidy little rolls of all sorts.
"It's very heavy, mayn't I carry it for you?" he
asked, in an insinuating manner.
" No, thank you," was on Belle's lips ; but, observing
that he was dressed with unusual elegance to pay calls,
she couldn't resist the temptation of making a beast of
burden of him, and took him at his word.
" You may, if you like. I've got more bundles to
take from the store, and another pair of hands won't
216 SCARLET SMCKINGS.
Lennox lifted his eyebrows, also the basket ; and
they went on again, Belle very much aosorbed in her
business, and her escort wondering where she was
going with all that rubbish. Filling his unoccupied
hand with sundry brown paper parcels, much to the det-
riment of the light glove that covered it, Belle paraded
him down the main street before the windows of the
most aristocratic mansions, and then dived into a dirty
back-lane, where the want and misery of the town was
decorously kept out of sight.
" You don't mind scarlet fever, I suppose ? " observed
Belle, as they approached the unsavory residence of
" Well, I'm not exactly partial to it," said Lennox,
rather taken aback.
" You needn't go in if you are afraid, or speak to me
afterwards, so no harm will be done except to your
" Why do you come here, if I may ask ? It isn't the
sort of amusement I should recommend," he began, evi-
dently disapproving of the step.
" Oh, I'm used to it, and like to play nurse where
father plays doctor. I'm fond of children and Mrs.
O'Brien's are little dears," returned Belle, briskly,
threading her way between ash-heaps and mud-puddlea
as if bound to a festive scene.
"Judging from the row in there, I should infer that
Mrs. O'Brien had quite a herd of little dears."
" Only nine."
"And all sick?"
" More or less."
" By Jove ! it's perfectly heroic in you to visit thia
WHERE THEY LED HIM. 217
hole in spite of dirt, noise, fragrance, and infection,"
cried Lennox, who devoutly wished that the sense of
gmell if not of hearing were temporarily denied him.
"Bless you, it's the sort of thing I enjoy, for there's
no nonsense here ; the work you do is pleasant if you
do it heartily, and the thanks you get are worth having,
I assure you."
She put out her hand to relieve him of the basket,
but he gave it an approving little shake, and said
" Not yet, I'm coming in."
It's all very well to rhapsodize about the exquisite
pleasure of doing good, to give carelessly of one's
abundance, and enjoy the delusion of having remem-
bered the poor. But it is a cheap charity, and never
brings the genuine satisfaction which those know who
give their mite with heart as well as hand, and truly
love their neighbor as themselves. Lennox had seen
much fashionable benevolence, and laughed at it even
while he imitated it, giving generously when it wasn't
inconvenient. But this was a new sort of thing en-
tirely ; and in spite of the dirt, the noise, and the smells,
he forgot the fever, and was glad he came when poor
Mrs. O'Brien turned from her sick babies, exclaiming,
with Irish fervor at sight of Belle,
" The Lord love ye, darlin, for remiinberin us when
ivery one, barrin' the doctor, and the praste, turns the
cowld shouldther in our throuble ! "
** Now if you really want to help, just keep this cniid
quiet while I see to the sickest ones," said Belle,
dumping a stout infant on to his knee, thrusting an
orange into his hand, and leaving him aghast while aha
218 SCARLET STOCKINGS.
unpacked her little messes, and comforted the materna,
With the calmness of desperation, her aid-de-camp
put down his best beaver on the rich soil which covered
the floor, pocketed his gloves, and, making a bib of
his cambric handkerchief, gagged young Pat deliciously
with bits of orange whenever he opened his mouth to
roar. At her first leisure moment, Belle glanced at
him to see how he was getting on, and found him so
solemnly absorbed in his task that she went off into a
burst of such infectious merriment that the O'Briens,
sick and well, joined in it to a man.
" Good fun, isn't it ? " she asked, turning down her
cuffs when the last spoonful of gruel was administered.
" I've no doubt of it, when one is used to the thing.
It comes a little hard at first, you know," returned
Lennox, wiping his forehead, with a long breath, and
seizing his hat as if quite ready to tear himself away.
" You've done very well for a beginner ; so kiss the
baby and come home," said Belle approvingly.
" No, thank you," muttered Lennox, trying to detach
the bedaubed innocent. But little Pat had a grateful
heart, and, falling upon his new nurse's neck with a
rapturous crow, clung there like a burr.
" Take him off! Let me out of this ! He's one too
many for me ! " cried the wretched young man in comio
Being freed with much laughter, he turned and fled,
followed by a shower of blessings from Mrs. O'Brien.
As they came up again into the pleasant highways,
Lennox said, awkwardly for him,
"The thanks of the poor are excellent things to
WEEEE THEY LED HIM. 219
have, but I think I'd rather receive them by pioxy.
Will you kindly spend this for me in making that poor
soul comfortable ? "
But Belle wouldn't take what he offered her; she put
it back, saying earnestly,
" Give it yourself; one can't buy blessings, they
must be earned or they are not worth having. Try it,
please, and, if you find it a failure, then I'll gladly be
There was a significance in her words which he could
not fail to understand. He neither shrugged, drawled,
nor sauntered now, but gave her a look in which re-
spect and self-reproach were mingled, and left her,
simply saying, " I'll try it, Miss Morgan."
" Now isn't she odd '? " whispered Kate to her brother,
as Belle appeared at a little dance at Mrs. Plantagenet's
in a high-necked dress, knitting away on an army-sock,
as she greeted the friends who crowded round her.
" Charmingly so. Why don't you do that sort of
Ihing when you can ? " answered her brother, glancing
at her thin, bare shoulders, and hands rendered nearly
useless by the tightness of the gloves.
"Gracious, no! It's natural to her to do so, and she
carries it off well; I couldn't, therefore I don't try,
though I admire it in her. Go and ask her to danoa,
before she is engaged."
" She doesn't dance round dances, you know."
" She is dreadfully prim about some things, and so
free and easy about others : I can't understand it, do
" Well, yes, I think I do. Here's Forbes coming for
you, I'll go and entertain Belle by a quarrel."
220 SCAKLET STOCKINGS.
He found her in a recess out of the way of the rush-
ing and romping, busy with her work, yet evidently
glad to be amused.
" I admire your adherence to principle, Miss Belle ;
but don't you find it a little hard to sit still while your
friends are enjoying themselves?" he asked, sinking
luxuriously into the lounging chair beside her.
"Yes, very," answered Belle with characteristic
candor. " But father does not approve of that sort of
exercise, so I console myself with something useful till
my chance comes."
"Your work can't exactly be called ornamental,"
said Lennox, looking at the big sock.
"Don't laugh at it, sir ; it is for the foot of the brave
fellow who is going to fight for me and his country."
" Happy fellow ! May I ask who he is ? " and Lennox
Bat up with an air of interest.
" My substitute : I don't know his name, for father
has not got him yet ; but I'm making socks, and towels,
and a comfort-bag for him, so that when found he may
be off at once."
" You really mean it ? " cried Lennox.
" Of course I Jo ; I can't go myself, but I can buy a
pair of strong arms to fight for me, and I intend to do
it. I only hope ho'll have the right sort of courage, and
be a credit to me."
"What do you call the right sort of courage?"
asked Lennox, soberly.
" That which makes a man ready and glad to live or
die for a principle. There's a chance for heroes now,
if there ever was. When do you join your regiment ? n
she added, abruptly.
WHERE THEY LED HIM. 221
" Haven't the least idea," and Lennox subsided again.
"But you intend to do so, of course?"
"Why should I?"
Belle dropped her work. " Why should you ? What
a question ! Because you have health, and strength,
and courage, and money to help on the good cause, and
every man should give his best, and not dare to stay
at home when he is needed."
" You forget that I am an Englishman, and we rather
prefer to be strictly neutral just now."
" You are only half English ; and for your mother's
sake you should be proud and glad to fight for the
North," cried Belle warmly.
"I don't remember my mother, "
That's evident ! "
"But, I was about to add, I've no objection to lend a
hand if it isn't too much trouble to get off," said Lennox
indifferently, for he liked to see Belle's color rise, and
her eyes kindle while he provoked her.
" Do you expect to go South in a bandbox ? You'd
better join one of the kid-glove regiments ; they say
the dandies fight well when the time comes."
" I've been away so long, the patriotic fever hasn't
seized me yet ; and, as the quarrel is none of mine, I
think perhaps I'd better take care of Kate, and let you
fight it out among yourselves. Here's the Lancers,
may I have the honor? "
But Belle, being very angry at this lukewarmness,
answered in her bluntest manner,
"Having reminded me that you are a 'strictly neu-
tral ' Englishman, you must excuse me if I decline ; I
iauce only with loyal Americans," and, rolling up her
22 SCARLET STOCKINGS.
work with a defiant flourish, she walked away, leaving
him to lament his loss and wonder how he could re-
trieve it. She did not speak to him again till he stood
in the hall waiting for Kate ; then Belle came down in
a charming little red hood, and going straight up to
liim with her hand out, a repentant look and a friendly
smile, said frankly,
" I was very rude ; I want to beg pardon of the
English, and shake hands with the American, half."
So peace was declared, and lasted unbroken for the
remaining week of his stay, when he proposed to take
Kate to the city for a little gayety. Miss Morgan
openly approved the plan, but secretly felt as if the
town was about to be depopulated, and tried to hide
her melancholy in her substitute's socks. They were
not large enough, however, to absorb it all ; and, when
Lennox went to make his adieu, it was perfectly evi-
dent that the Doctor's Belle was out of tune. Thfc
young gentleman basely exulted over this, till she gave
him something else to think about by saying gravely :
" Before you go, I feel as if I ought to tell you some-
thing, since Kate won't. If you are offended about it
please don't blame her ; she meant it kindly, and so did
I." Belle paused as if it was not an easy thing to tell^
and then went on quickly, with her eyes upon her work
" Three weeks ago Kate asked me to help her in
little plot; and I consented, for the fun of the thing
She wanted something to amuse and stir you up, and,
finding that my queer ways diverted you, she begged
me to be neighborly and let you do what you liked. 1
didn't care particularly about amusing you, but I did
think you needed rousing; so for her sake I tried to dr
WHERE THEY LED HIM. 223
it, and you \ ery good-naturedly bore my lecturing. 1
don't like deceit of any kind, so I confess ; but I can't
say I'm sorry, for I really think you are none the worse
for the teasing and teaching you've had."
Belle didn't see him flush and frown as she made her
confession, and when she looked up he only said, half
gratefully, half reproachfully,
" I'm a good deal the better for it, I dare say, and
ought to be very thankful for your friendly exertions.
But two against one was hardly fair, now, was it?"
" No, it was sly and sinful in the highest degree, but
we did it for your good ; so I know you'll forgive us,
and as a proof of it sing one or two of rny favorites for
the last time."
"You don't deserve any favor; but I'll do it, to
show you how much more magnanimous men are than
Not at all loth to improve his advantages, Lennox
warbled his most melting lays con amore, watching, as
he sung, for any sign of sentiment in the girlish face
opposite. But Belle wouldn't be sentimental ; and sat
rattling her knitting-needles industriously, though " The
Harbor Bar was moaning " dolefully, though " Douglas "
was touchingly "tender and true," and the "Wind of
the Summer Night " sighed romantically through the
" Much obliged. Must you go ? " she said, without a
ign of soft confusion as he rose.
" I must ; but I shall come again before I leave the
country. May I ? " he asked, holding her hand.
" If you come in a uniform."
"Good night, Belle," tenderly. " Good-by, Sir
224 SCARLET STOCKINGS.
Charles," with a wicked twinkle of the eye, which
lasted till he closed the hall-door, growling irefully,
" I thought I'd had some experience, but one never
can understand these women ! "
Canterbury did become a desert to Belle after her
dear friend had gone (of course the dear friend's
brother had nothing to do with the desolation) ; and as
the weeks dragged slowly Belle took to reading poetry,
practising plaintive ballads, and dawdling over her
work at a certain window which commanded a view of
the railway station and hotel.
" You're dull, my dear ; run up to town with me to-
morrow, and see your young man off," said the Doctor
one evening, as Belle sat musing with a half-mended
red stocking in her hand.
"My young man?" she ejaculated, turning with a
start and a blush.
"Your substitute, child. Stephens attended to the
business for me, and he's off to-morrow. I began to
tell you about the fellow last week, but you were wool-
gathering, so I stopped."
" Yes, I remember, it was all very nice. Goes to-
morrow, does he ? I'd like to see him ; but do you
think we can both leave home at once? Some one
might come you know, and I fancy it's going to snow,"
said Belle, putting her face behind the curtain to inspect
" You'd better go, the trip will do you good ; you can
take your things to Tom Jones, and see Kate on the
way : she's got back from Philadelphia."
" Has she ? I'll go, then ; it will please her, and I do
need change. You are a dear, to think of it;" and,
WHERE THEY LED HIM. 225
giving her father a hasty glimpse of a suddenly excited
countenance, Belle slipped out of the room to prepare
her best array, with a most reckless disregard of the
It did not snow on the morrow, and up they went
to see the th regiment off. Belle did notsee"hor
young man," however, for while her father went to
carry him her comforts and a patriotic nosegay of red
and white flowers, tied up with a smart blue ribbon,
she called on Kate. But Miss Lennox was engaged,
and sent an urgent request that her friend would call
in the afternoon. Much disappointed and a little hurt,
Belle then devoted herself to the departing regiment,
wishing she was going with it, for she felt in a warlike
mood. It was past noon when a burst of martial music,
the measured tramp of many feet, and enthusiastic
cheers announced that " the boys " were coming. From
the balcony where she stood with her father, Belle
looked down upon the living stream that flowed by like
a broad river, with a steely glitter above the blue. All
her petty troubles vanished at the sight; her heart beat
high, her face glowed, her eyes filled, and she waved
her handkerchief as zealously as if she had a dozen
friends and lovers in the ranks below.
" Here comes your man ; I told him to stick the posy
where it would catch my eye, so I could point him out
to you. Look, it's the tall fellow at the end of the front
line," said the Doctor in an excited tone, as he pointed
Belle looked and gave a little cry, for there, in a
private's uniform, with her nosegay at his buttonhole,
and on his face a smile she never forgot, was Lennox I
226 SCARLET STOCKINGS.
For an instant she stood staring at him as pale and
startled as if he were a ghost ; then the color rushed in-
to her face, she kissed both hands to him, and cried
bravely, " Good-by, good-by ; God bless you, Harry ! "
and immediately laid her head on her father's shoulder
sobbing as if her heart was broken.
When she looked up, her substitute was lost m the
undulating mass below, and for her the spectacle was
"Was it really he? Why wasn't I told? What
does it all mean ? " she demanded, looking bewildered,
grieved, and ashamed.
" He's really gone, my dear. It's a surprise of his,
and I was bound over to silence. Here, this will ex-
plain the joke, I suppose," and the Doctor handed her
a cocked-hat note, done up like a military order.
" A Roland for your Oliver, Mademoiselle ! I came home for
the express purpose of enlisting, and only delayed a month on
Kate's account. If I ever return, I will receive my bounty at
your hands. Till then please comfort Kate, think as kindly as
you can of ' Sir Charles,' and sometimes pray a little prayer for
" Your unworthy
Belle looked very pale and meek when she put the
note in her pocket, but she only said, " I must go and
comfort Kate ;" and the Doctor gladly obeyed, feeling
that the joke was more serious than he had imagined.
The moment her friend appeared, Miss Lennox turned
on her tears, and " played away," pouring forth lamenta-
tions, reproaches, and regrets in a steady stream.
" I hope you are satisfied now, you cruel girl ! " she
began, refusing to be kissed. " You've sent him oft
WHERE THEY LED HIM. 227
with a broken heart to rush into danger and be shot, or
get his arms and legs spoiled. You know he loved you
and wanted to tell you so, but you wouldn't let him ;
and now you've driven him away, and he's gone as an
insignificant private with his head shaved, and a heavy
knapsack breaking his back, and a horrid gun that will
be sure to explode : and he would wear those immense
biue socks you sent, for he adores you, and you only
teased and laughed at him, my poor, deluded, deserted
brother!" And, quite overwhelmed by the afflicting
picture, Kate lifted up her voice and wept again.
" I am satisfied, for he's done what I hoped he would ;
and he's none the less a gentleman because he's a private
and wears my socks. I pray they will keep him safe,
and bring him home to us when he has done his duty
like a man, as I know he will. I'm proud of my
brave substitute, and I'll try to be worthy of him," cried
Belle, kindling beautifully as she looked out into the
wintry sunshine with a new softness in the eyes that
still seemed watching that blue-coated figure marching
away to danger, perhaps death.
"It's ill playing with edged tools ; we meant to amuse
him, and we may have sent him to destruction. I'll
never forgive you for your part, never ! " said Kate,
with the charming inconsistency of her sex.
But Belle turned away her wrath by a soft answer, a
glie whispered, with a tender choke in her voice,
" We both loved him, dear ; let's comfort one an-
228 SCARLET STOCKINGS.
WHAT BECAME OF THEM.
PRIVATE Lennox certainly had chosen pretty hard
work, for the th was not a " kid-glove " regiment by
any means ; fighting in mid-winter was not exactly fes-
tive, and camps do not abound in beds of roses even at
the best of times. But Belle was right in saying she
knew a soldier when she saw him, for, now that he was
thoroughly waked up, he proved that there was plenty
of courage, energy, and endurance in him.
It is my private opinion that he might now and then
have slightly regretted the step he had taken, had it
not been for certain recollections of a sarcastic tongue
and a pair of keen eyes, not to mention the influence
of one of the most potent rulers of the human heart ;
namely, the desire to prove himself worthy the respect,
if nothing more, of somebody at home. Belle's socks
did seem to keep him safe, and lead him straight in the
narrow path of duty. Belle's comfort-bag was such in
ver} truth, for not one of the stout needles on the tri-
colored cushion but what seemed to wink its eye ap-
provingly at him ; not one of the tidy balls of thread
that did not remind him of the little hand he coveted,
and the impracticable scissors were cherished as a good
omen, though he felt that the sharpest steel that ever
came from Sheffield couldn't cut his love in twain,
And Belle's lessons, short as they had been, were not
forgotten, but seemed to have been taken up by a
WHAT BECAME OF THEM. 229
sterner mistress, whose rewards were greater, if not so
sweet, as those the girl could give. There was plenty
of exercise nowadays, and of hard work that left many
a tired head asleep for ever under the snow. There
were many opportunities for diving " into the depths
and bringing up pearls worth having " by acts of kind-
ness among the weak, the wicked, and the suffering all
about him. He learned now how to earn, not buy, the
thanks of the poor, and unconsciously proved in the
truest way that a private could be a gentleman. But
best of all was the steadfast purpose " to live and die
for a principle," which grew and strengthened with
each month of bitter hardship, bloody strife, and dearly
bought success. Life grew earnest to him, time seemed
precious, self was forgotten, and all that was best ana
bravest rallied round the flag on which his heart in-
scribed the motto, " Love and Liberty."
Praise and honor he could not fail to win, and had he
never gone back to claim his bounty he would have
earned the great " Well done," for he kept his oath loy-
ally, did his duty manfully, and loved his lady faith-
fully, like a knight of the chivalrous times. He knew
nothing of her secret, but wore her blue ribbon like an
order, never went into battle without first, like many
another poor fellow, kissing something which he car-
ried next his heart, and with each day of absence iblt
himself a better man, and braver soldier, for the
fondly foolish romance he had woven about the scarlet
Belle and Kate did comfort one another, not only
with tears and kisses, but with womanly work which
kept hearts happy and hands busy. How Belle bribed
230 SCARLET STOCKINGS.
her to silence will always remain the ninth wonder of
the world; but, though reams of paper passed between
brother and sister during those twelve months, not a
hint was dropped on one side in reply to artful inquiries
from the other. Belle never told her love in words ; but
she stowed away an unlimited quantity of the article in
the big boxes that went to gladden the eyes and alas
for romance ! the stomach of Private Lennox. If pic-
kles could typify passion, cigars prove constancy, and
gingerbread reveal the longings of the soul, then would
the above-mentioned gentleman have been the happiest
of lovers. But camp-life had doubtless dulled his finer
intuitions : for he failed to understand the new language
of love, and gave away these tender tokens with lav-
ish prodigality. Concealment preyed a trifle on Belle's
damask cheek, it must be confessed, and the keen eyes
grew softer with the secret tears that sometimes dimmed
them ; the sharp tongue seldom did mischief now, but
uttered kindly words to every one, as if doing penance
for the past ; and a sweet seriousness toned down the
lively spirit, which was learning many things in the
sleepless nights that followed when the "little prayer"
for the beloved substitute was done.
" I'll wait and see if he is all I hope he will be, before
I let him know. I shall read the truth the instant I see
him, and if he has stood the test I'll run into his arms
and tell him every thing," she said to herself, with deli-
cious thrills at the idea ; but you may be sure she did
nothing of the sort when the time came.
A rumor flew through the town one day that Lennox
had arrived ; upon receipt of which joyful tidings, Belle
had a panic and hid herself in the garret. But when
WHAT BECAME OF THEM. 231
she had quaked, and cried, and peeped, and listened
for an hour or two, finding that no one came to hunt
her up, she composed her nerves and descended to pass
the afternoon in the parlor and a high state of dignity.
All sorts of reports reached her : he was mortally
wounded ; he had been made a major or a colonel or a
general, no one knew exactly which ; he was dead, was
going to be married, and hadn't come at all. Belle
fully expiated all her small sins by the agonies of sus-
pense she suffered that day, and when at last a note
came from Kate, begging her " to drop over to see
Harry," she put her pride in her pocket and went at
The drawing-room was empty and in confusion, there
was a murmur of voices upstairs, a smell of camphor
in the air, and an empty wine-glass on the table where a
military cap was lying. Belle's heart sunk, and she
covertly kissed the faded blue coat as she stood waiting
breathlessly, wondering if Harry had any arms for her
to run into. She heard the chuckling Biddy lumber up
and announce her, then a laugh, and a half-fond, halt*
exulting, "Ah, ha, I thought she'd come!"
That spoilt it all; Belle took out her pride instanter,
rubbed a quick color into her white cheeks, and, snatch-
ing up a newspaper, sat herself down with as expres*
sionless a face as it was possible for an excited young
woman to possess. Lennox came running down.
" Thank Heaven, his legs are safe ! " sighed Belle, with
her eyes glued to the price of beef. He entered with
both hands extended, which relieved her mind upon
another point; and he beamed upon her, looking so
vigorous;, manly, and martial, that she cried within her<
232 SCARLET STOCKINGS.
self, " My beautiful brown soldier ! " even while she
greeted him with an unnecessarily brief, " How do you
do, Mr. Lennox ? "
The sudden eclipse which passed over his joyful
countenance would have been ludicrous, if it hadn t been
pathetic ; but he was used to hard knocks now, and bore
this, his hardest, like a man. He shook hands heartily ;
and, as Belle sat down again (not to betray that she
was trembling a good deal), he stood at ease before her,
talking in a way which soon satisfied her that he had
borne the test, and that bliss was waiting for her round
the corner. But she had made it such a very sharp corner
she couldn't turn it gracefully, and while she pondered
how to do so he helped her with a cough. She looked
up quickly, discovering all at once that he was very thin,
rather pale in spite of the nice tan, and breathed hur-
riedly as he stood with one hand in his breast.
"Are you ill, wounded, in pain?" she asked, for-
getting herself entirely.
" Yes, a'l three," he answered, after a curious look
at her changing color and anxious eyes.
" Sit down tell me about it can I do any thing ? "
and Belle began to plump up the pillows on the couch
with nervous eagerness.
" Thank you, I'm past help," was the mournful reply
accompanied by a hollow cough which made her shiver.
" Oh, don't say so ! Let me bring father ; he is very
skilful. Shall I call Kate?"
" He can do nothing ; Kate doesn't know this, and I
beg you won't tell her. I got a shot in the breast and
made light of it, but it will finish me sooner or later
I don't mind telling you, for you are one of tKe strong;
WHAT BECAME OF THEM. 233
cool sort, you know, and are not affected by such tilings
But Kate is so fond of me, I don't want to shock and
trouble her yet awhile. Let her enjoy ray little visit,
and after I'm gone you can tell her the truth."
Belle had sat like a statue while he spoke with fre-
quent pauses and an involuntary clutch or two at the
Buffering breast. As he stopped and passed his hand
over his eyes, she said slowly, as if her white lips were
"Back to my place. I'd rather die fighting than
fussed and wailed over by a parcel of women. I ex-
pected to stay a week or so, but a battle is coming off
sooner than we imagined, so I'm away again to-morrow.
As I'm not likely ever to come back, I just wanted to
ask you to stand by poor Kate when I'm finished, and
to say good-by to you, Belle, before I go." He put
out his hand, but, holding it fast in both her own, she
laid her tearful face down on it, whispering implor-
" Oh, Harry, stay ! r
Never mind what happened for the next ten minutes ;
suffice it to say that the enemy having surrendered,
the victor took possession with great jubilation and
showed no quarter.
"Bang the field-piece, toot the fife, and beat the
rolling drum, for ruse number three has succeeded
Come down, Kate, and give us your blessing ! " called
Lennox, taking pity on his sister, who was anxiously
awaiting the denouement on the stairs.
In she rushed, and the young ladies laughed and
cried, kissed and talked tumultuously, while their idol
284 SCARLET STOCKINGS.
benignantly looked on, vainly endeavoring to repress
all vestiges of unmanly emotion.
" And you are not dying, really, truly?" cried Belle,
when fair weather set in after the flurry.
" Bless your dear heart, no ! I'm as sound as a nut,
and haven't a wound to boast of, except this ugly slash
on the head."
" It's a splendid wound, and I'm proud of it," and
Belle set a rosy little seal on the scar, which quite recon-
ciled her lover to the disfigurement of his handsome
forehead. " You've learned to fib in the army, and I'm
disappointed in you," she added, trying to look reproach-
ful and failing entirely.
" No, only the art of strategy. You quenched me by
your frosty reception, and I thought it was all up till
you put the idea of playing invalid into my head. It
succeeded so well that I piled on the agony, resolving
to fight it out on that line, and if I failed again to
make a masterly retreat. You gave me a lesson in
deceit once, so don't complain if I turned the tables
and made your heart ache for a minute, as you've made
mine for a year."
Belle's spirit was rapidly coming back, so she gave
him a capital imitation of his French shrug, and drawled
out in his old way,
" I have my doubts about that, mon ami"
" What do you say to this and this and this ? "
he retorted, pulling out and laying before her with a
triumphant flourish a faded blue ribbon, a fat pincushion
with a hole through it, and a daintily painted little
picture of a pretty girl in scarlet stockings.
"There, I've carried those treasures in my breast*
WHAT BECAME OF THEM. 235
pocket for a year, and I'm firmly convinced that they
have all done their part toward keeping me safe. The
blue ribbon bound me fast to you, Belle ; the funny
cushion causrht the bullet that otherwise migjht have
i 3 ^J
finished me ; and the blessed little picture was my
comfort during those dreadful marches, my companion
on picket-duty with treachery and danger all about me,
and my inspiration when the word ' Charge ! ' went
down the line, for in the thickest of the fight I always
saw the little gray figure beckoning me on to my duty."
" Oh, Harry, you won't go back to all those horrors,
will you ? I'm sure you've done enough, and may rest
now and enjoy your reward," said Kate, trying not to
feel that "two is company, and three is none."
" I've enlisted for the war, and shall not rest till
either it or I come to an end. As for my reward, I had
it when Belle kissed me."
" You are right, I'll wait for you, and love you all the
better for the sacrifice," whispered Belle. " I only wish
I could share your hardships, dear, for while you fight
and suffer I can only love and pray."
" Waiting is harder than working to such as you ; so
be contented with your share, for the thought of you
will glorify the world generally for me. I'll tell you
what you can do while I'm away: it's both useful and
amusing, so it will occupy and cheer you capitally.
Just knit lots of red hose, because I don't intend you to
wear any others hereafter, Mrs. Lennox.'"
"Mine are not worn out yet," laughed Belle, getting
merry at the thought.
"No matter for that; those are sacred articles, and
henceforth must be treasured as memorials of our love
236 SCARLET STOCKINGS.
Frame and hang them up ; or, if the prejudices of society
forbid that flight of romance, lay them carefully away
where moths can't devour nor thieves steal them, so that
years hence, when my descendants praise me for any
virtues I may possess, any good I may have done, or any
honor I may have earned, I can point to those precious
relics and say proudly,
" My children, for all that I am, or hope to be, you
must thank your honored mother's scarlet stockings "
INDEPENDE1S CE :
A CENTENNIAL LOVE STORY
< OTUPID-LOOKING old place ! Dare say I shall
^-J have to waste half an hour listening to centen-
nial twaddle before I get what I want ! The whole
thing is a bore, but I can't quarrel with my bread and
butter, so here goes ; " and, with an air of resignation,
the young man applied himself to the rusty knocker.
"Rather a nice old bit; may be useful, so I'll book
it ; " and, whipping out a sketch-book, the stranger took
a hasty likeness of the griffin's head on the knocker.
" Deaf as posts ; try, try, try again ; " and, pocketing
his work, the artist gave an energetic rat, tat, tat, that
echoed through the house.
Having rashly concluded that the inhabitants of the
ancient mansion were proportionately aged, he assumed
a deferential expression as steps approached, and pre-
pared to prefer with all due respect the request which
he had come many miles to make. The door opened
with unexpected rapidity, but the neatly arranged
speech did not glide glibly off the young man's tongue,
and the change which came over him was comically
sudden ; for, instead of an old woman, a blooming girl
stood upon the threshold, with a petulant expression on
her charming face, which only made it more charming
"What did you wish, sir?" asked the rosy mouth,
involuntarily relaxing from a vain attempt to look
severe, while the hazel eyes softened with a mirthful
gleam as they rested on the comely, but embarrassed
countenance before her.
" Beg pardon for making such a noise. I merely
wished to inquire if the famous chair in which Wash-
ington sat when he visited the town is here," replied
the stranger, clutching off his hat with a very different
sort of respect from that which he had intended to
show, and feeling as if he had received a shock of some
new and delightful sort of electricity.
" Yes ; " and the girl began to close the door, as if
she knew what question was coming next.
" Could I be allowed to sketch it for The Weekly
Portfolio'? All such relics are so valuable this year
that we venture to ask many favors, and this is such
a famous affair I've no doubt you are often troubled
by requests of this sort," continued the artist, with the
persuasive tone of one accustomed to make his way
" This is the fifth time this week," replied the damsel,
demurely ; though her lips still struggled not to smile.
" It's very good of you, I'm sure, to let us fellows in,
but the public demand is immense just now, and we
only obey orders, you know," began the fifth intruder,
fervently hoping the other four had been refused.
"But Mrs. Hill never does let artists or reporters
MISS DOLLY. 239
in," was the gentle quencher which arrested him, as he
was industriously wiping his feet on the door-mat.
"Never?" he asked, stopping short, while an expres*
sion of alarm changed suddenly to one of satisfaction.
" Never," answered the damsel, like a sweet-voiced
" Then the other fellows lost their chance, and that
makes the old thing doubly valuable. If I could see
Mrs. Hill for a moment, I've no doubt she will allow
me to sketch the chair."
" She is not at home."
" So much the better ; for, when I tell you that I've
come fifty miles to pick up antiquities in this town, I
know you won't have the heart to send me away with-
out the gem of the collection," replied the artist, noth-
ing daunted; for his quick eye read the artless face
before him, and saw a defiant expression come over it,
which made him suspect that there had been a fulling
out between mistress and maid, if such they were. He
was sure of it when the girl threw open the door with
a decisive gesture, saying briefly,
" Walk in, if you please ; she won't be home for an
" What a little beauty ! " thought the young man,
admiring her spirit, and feeling that the " stupid old
place " contained unexpected treasures, as he followed
her into the room where the ubiquitous Father of his
Country was reported to have dried his august boots,
and drunk a mug of cider some hundred years ago.
It seemed as if the ghosts of many of the homely
household articles used then had come back to cele-
brate the anniversary of that thrilling event ; for there
was nothing modern in the little room but the girl and
her guest, who stared about him at the tall andirons
on the hearth, the bright, brass candlesticks above it,
the spinning-wheel on one side, a dresser on the other
strewn with pewter platters, porringers, and old china,
while antique garments hung over the settle by the
"Bless my soul, what a capital old place !" he ejacu-
lated, taking it all in with an artist's keen appreciation.
" I feel as if I'd gone back a century, and the General
might come in at any minute."
" That is the chair he used, and this the tankard he
drank from," answered the girl, pointing out the sacred
objects with a reverential air which warned her visitor
that he must treat the ancient and honorable relics with
Then feeling that this was an unusual stroke of luck,
he hastened to make the most of it, by foiling to work
at once, saying, as he took a seat, and pointed his
" There is such a lot of treasures here that I don't
know where to begin. I hope I shall not be very much
in your way."
" Oh, no ! if you don't mind my going on with my
work ; for I can't leave it very well. All these things
are to be sent away to-morrow, that's why the place is
in such confusion," replied the girl, as she fell to pol-
ishing up a brass snuffer-tray.
" Here's richness ! " thought the artist, with a sigh of
satisfaction, as he dashed at his work, feeling wonder
fully inspired by his picturesque surroundings.
The dull winter sky gloomed without, and a chilly
MISS DOLLY. 241
wind sighed through the leafless elms; but within the
little room fairly glowed with the ruddy firelight that
shone in the bright brasses, glimmered over the tar-
nished silver of the quaint vests on the settle, and
warmed the artist's busy hand, as if it liked to help
him in his task. But the jolly flames seemed to dance
most lovingly about their little mistress ; bathing the
sweet face with a softer bloom, touching the waves of
brown hair with gold, peeping under the long lashes at
the downcast eyes that peeped back again half arch,
half shy; glorifying the blue apron that seemed to
clasp the trim waist as if conscious of its advantages,
and showing up the dimples in the bare arms working
so briskly that even the verdigris of ages yielded to
their persuasive touch.
"Who can this pretty Priscilla be? I must make
her talk and find out. Never shall get the eyes right,
if she doesn't look up," thought the artist, who, instead
of devoting himself to the historical chair, was basely
sketching the girl whose youth and beauty were won-
derfully enhanced by the antiquity around her.
"Mrs. Hill is a rich woman, if all these treasures
have a history. Even if they haven't, they would
bring a good price ; for things of this sort are all the
rage now, and the older the better," he said aloud in a
sociable tone, as he affected to study the left arm of
the famous chair.
" They are not hers to sell, for they belonged to the
fiistMrs. Hill, who was a Quincy, and had a right to be
proud of them. The present Mrs. Hill doesn't value
them a bit ; but she was a Smith, so her family relics
are nothing to boast of," answered the girl, using
her bit of wash-leather as if the entire race of Smith
ought to be rubbed out of existence.
"And she is going to sell all these fine old things, is
she ? " asked the artist, with an eye to bargains.
"No, indeed! they belong to to the first Mrs.
[lill's daughter, named after her, Dorothy Quincy,"
the girl began impetuously, but checked herself, and
ended very quietly with a suddenly averted head.
"A fine name, and I shouldn't think she would be
in haste to change it," said the artist, wondering if Miss
Dorothy Quincy was before him.
" Not much hope of that, poor thing," with a shake
of the head that made several brown curls tumble out
of the net which tried to confine a riotous mass of
"Ah, I see, a spinster?" and the young man re-
turned to his work with greatly abated interest in the
The bright eyes glanced quickly up, and when they
fell the snuffer-tray reflected a merry twinkle in them,
as their owner answered gravely,
" Yes, a spinster."
" Is she one of the amiable sort ? "
"Oh, dear, no! very quick in her temper and
sharp with her tongue. But then she has a good deal
to try her, as I happen to know."
" Sorry for that. Spinsterhood is trying, I fancy, so
we should be patient with the poor old ladies. Wny
I asked was because I thought I might induce Miss
Dolly to let me have some of her relics. Do you think
she would?" he asked, holding his sketch at arm's
length, and studying it with his head on one side.
MISS DOLLY. 243
* I'm very sure she won't, for these old things are all
sne has in the world, and she loves them dearly. Peo-
ple used to laugh at her for it, but now they are glad
to own her and her ' duds,' as they called them. The
Smiths are looking up every thing they can find of
that sort, even poor relations. All these things are
going down to a fair to-morrow, and Miss Dolly with
" As one of the relics ? " suggested the artist, glanc-
ing dt a green calash and a plum-colored quilted
petticoat lying on the settle.
" Exactly," laughed the girl, adding with a touch of
bitterness in her voice, " Poor Miss Dolly never got an
invilation before, and I'm afraid it's foolish of her to
go n^w, since she is only wanted to show off the old-
fashioned things, and give the Smiths something to
" ~X ou are fond of the old lady in spite of her temper,
" Shtr is tne only friend I've got ; " and the speaker
bent over tLe tray as if to hide emotion of some sort.
"I shall probably have to 'do' that fair for our
paper ; if bo, I'll certainly pay my respects to Miss Dolly.
Why not? Is she so very awful?" he asked quickly,
as the girl looked up with a curious mixture of mirth
and malice in her face.
" Very ! " with a lifting of the brows and a pursing
up of the lips delightful to behold.
"You think I won't dare address the peppery virgin ?
I never saw the woman yet whom I was afraid of, or
the man either for that matter, so I give you my word
Fll not only speak to Miss Dolly, but win her old hear;,-
by my admiration for her and her ancestral treasures,
said the artist, accepting the challenge he read in the
" We shall see, for I'm going with her. I \\Q the
spinning, and it's great fun," said the girl, prudently
changing the conversation, though she evidently en-
" I never saw it done. Could you give me an idea
of the thing, if it is not asking too much ? " proposed
the artist in his most persuasive tone, for somehow
play of this sort was much more interesting than the
study of old furniture.
With amiable alacrity the girl set the big wheel buzz-
ing, and deftly drew out the yarn from the spindle,
stepping briskly to and fro, twirling and twisting with
an ease and grace which convinced the admiring ob-
server that the best thing ever invented to show off
round arm, a pretty foot, a fine figure, and a charming
face, was a spinning-wheel.
This opinion was so plainly expressed upon his own
countenance that the color deepened in the girl's
cheeks as she looked over her shoulder to see how
he liked it, and dropping the thread she left the
wheel still whirling, and went back to her work without
" Thank you very much ; it's beautiful ! Don't see
how in the world you do it," murmured the young man,
affecting to examine the wheel, while his own head
seemed to whirl in sympathy, for that backward glance
had unconsciously done great execution.
A moon-faced clock behind the door striking eleven
recalled the idler to his task, and resuming his seat he
MISS DOLLY. 245
drew silently till the chair was done; then he turned a
page, and looked about for the next good bit.
"Rather warm work," he said, smiling, as he shook
the hair off his forehead, and pushed his chair back from
" This is what makes the place so hot. I've been
learning to make old-fashioned dishes for the fair, and
this batch is going down to show what I can do."
As she spoke, the girl threw open the door of a cav-
ernous oven, and with an air of housewifely pride dis
played a goodly array of brown loaves round as cannon-
balls, earthen crocks suggestive of baked beans and
Indian pudding, and near the door a pan of spicy cakea
delectable to smell and see. These she drew forth and
Bet upon the table, turning from the oven after a care-
ful inspection of its contents with the complexion of
a damask rose.
"Delicious spectacle!" exclaimed the artist, with
his eyes upon the pretty cook, while hers were on her
" You shall taste them, for they are made from a very
old receipt and are called sweethearts," said the inno-
cent creature, setting them forth on a large platter,
while a smile went dimpling round her lips.
" Capital name ! they'll sell faster than you can make
them. But it seems to me you are to have all the
work, and Miss Dolly all the credit," added this highly
appreciative guest, subduing with difficulty the rash
impulse to embrace Miss Dolly's rosy handmaid on the
She seemed to feel the impending danger, and say-
ing hastily, "You must have some cider to go with
your cake : that's the correct thing, you know,** she
tripped away with hospitable zeal.
" Upon iny soul, I begin to feel like the Prince of
the fairy tale in this quiet place where every thing seems
to have been asleep for a hundred years. The little
beauty ought to have been asleep too, and given me a
chance to wake her. More of a Cinderella than a prin-
cess, I fancy, and leads a hard life of it between Miss
Dolly and the second Mrs. Hill. Wonder what happy
fellow will break the spell and set her free?" and the
young man paced the kitchen, humming softly,
" And on her lover's arm she leant,
And round her waist she felt it fold;
And far across the hills they went,
In that new world which is the old,"
till the sound of a light step made him dart into a
chair, saying to himself with a sudden descent from
poetry to prose, "Bless her little heart, I'll drink her
cider if it's as sour as vinegar."
In came the maid, bearing a tankard on a salver ; and,
adding several sweethearts, she offered the homely
lunch with a curtsey and a smile that would have glori-
fied even pork and beans.
" You are sitting in the General's chair, and here is
the tankard he used ; you can drink his health, if you
" I'd rather drink that of the maker of sweethearts ; "
and, rising, the artist did so, gallantly regardless of con-
But the cider was excellent, and subsiding into the
immortal chair he enjoyed his lunch with the hearty
appetite of a boy, while the damsel began to fold up
MISS DOLLY. 247
the garments airing on the settle, and lay them into a
chest standing near ; the one quite unconscious that he
was drinking draughts of a far more potent liquor than
apple-juice, the other that she had begun to spin a
golden thread instead of yarn when she turned the
great wheel that day.
An eloquent sort of silence filled the room for a
moment, and a ray of sunshine glanced from the silver
tankard to the bright head bent over the chest, as if to
gild the first page of the romance which is as fresh and
sweet to-day as when the stately George wooed his
beloved Martha. A shrill voice suddenly broke that
delicious pause, exclaiming, as a door opened with a
" Not packed yet ! I won't have this rubbish clutter-
ing round another minute " There the voice abruptly
fell, and the stranger had time to see a withered, yel-
low face in a pumpkin hood stare sharply at him before
it vanished with an exclamation of unmistakable dis-
"Miss Dolly seems more afraid of me than I of her,
you see," began the young man, much amused at the
retreat of the enemy ; for such he regarded any one
who disturbed this delightful t%te-a-tete.
" She has only gone to put her cap on, and when she
eorues back you can pay your respects to Mrs. Hill ; "
and the girl looked over the lid of the chest with
" Then I'd better be off, since reporters and artists
are not allowed on the premises," exclaimed the visitor,
rising with more haste than dignity.
" Don't hurry ; she is only a woman, and you are not
afraid, you know "
" I'm afraid you will get a scolding," began the artist,
pocketing his sketch-book, and grasping his hat.
"I'm used to that," answered the girl, evidently
enjoying the rout with naughty satisfaction.
But the sharp, black eyes and the shrill voice had
effectually broken the pleasant day-dream ; and Mrs,
Hill in a pumpkin hood was quite enough for his
nerves, without a second appearance in one of the awe-
inspiring caps such ladies affect.
" I couldn't think of repaying your kindness by in-
truding any longer, now that I've got my sketch. A
thousand thanks ; good-morning ; " and, opening the
first door he came to, the dismayed man was about to
plunge into the buttery, when the girl arrested his
flight and led him through the long hall.
On the steps he took breath, returned thanks again
with grateful warmth, and pulling out a card presented
it, as if anxious to leave some token behind which should
prevent being forgotten by one person at least.
" John Hancock Harris " read the card, and glancing
up from it, with sudden interest in her eyes, the girl
" Why, then you must be a relation of "
" No, I regret to say I'm not related to the famous
Governor, only named for him to please my father.
I've always been contented with a modest initial until
now ; but this year every one does their best to hang
on to the past, so I've got proud of my middle name,
and find it useful as well as ornamental," hastily ex-
plained the honest young fellow, though just then he
would have liked to claim kinship with every rnembei
of the Continental Congress.
A CINDER AND A SPARK. 249
** I hope you will be worthy of it," answered the
damsel with a little bow, as if saluting the man for his
" I try to be," he said soberly, adding with that
engaging smile of his, " May I ask to whom I am in-
debted for this very profitable and agreeable call ? "
Instantly the sweet sobriety vanished, and every
feature of the pretty face shone with mirthful malice
as the girl answered sweetly,
" Miss Dolly. Good-morning," and closed the door,
leaving him to stare blankly at the griffin on the knocker,
which appeared to stare back again with a derisive
A CINDER AND A SPARK.
ONE of the few snow-storms of the memorably mild
winter of 1876 was coming quietly down, watched with
lazy interest by the passengers in a certain train that
rumbled leisurely toward the city. Without it was cold
and wintry enough, but within as hot as an oven ; for,
with the usual American disregard of health, there was
a roaring fire in the stove, every ventilator shut,
and only one man in the crowded car had his window
Toward this reckless being many a warning or re-
proachful glance was cast by rheumatic old gentlemen
9r delicate women who led the lives of hot-house
flowers. But the hearty young fellow sat buried in
his newspapers, regardless alike of these expressive
glances and the fresh wind that blew in an occasional
snow-flake to melt upon his shoulder, hair, or beard.
If his face had not been obscured by the great sheet
held before it, an observer might have watched with
interest the varying expressions of amusement, con-
tempt, indignation, and disgust which passed over it as
he read ; for it was a very expressive face, and too
young yet to have put on the mask men so soon
learn to wear. He was evidently one of the strong
cheery, sympathetic sort of fellows who make their
way everywhere, finding friends as they go from the
simple fact that they are so full of courage and good-
will it is impossible to resist them. This had been
proved already ; for during that short journey three old
ladies had claimed his services in one way or another,
a shy little girl had sat upon his knee for half an hour
and left him with a kiss, and an obstreperous Irish
baby had been bribed to hold its tongue by the various
allurements he devised, to the great amusement, as
well as gratitude, of his neighbors.
Just now, however, he looked rather grim, knit
his brows as he read, and finally kicked his paper
under the seat with an expression which proved that
he hacl as much energy as kindliness in his composition,
and no taste for the sorrowful record of scandal, dis-
honesty, and folly daily offered the American public.
" Upon my word, if this sort of thing goes on much
longer, the country won't be fit for a decent man to
live in," he said to himself, taking a mouthful of fresh
air, and letting his eyes wander over the faces of his
A CINDER AND A SPARK. 251
fellow-travellers as if wondering which of the emi-
nently respectable gentlemen about him would next
startle the world by some explosion of iniquity. Even
the women did not escape the scrutiny of the keen
blue eyes, which softened, however, as they went from
one possible Delilah to another ; for John Harris had
not yet lost his reverence for womankind.
Suddenly his wandering glance was arrested, a look
of recognition brightened his whole countenance, and
an involuntary " Hullo ! " rose to his lips, instead of the
romantic " Ha, 'tis she ! " with which novel heroes are
supposed to greet the advent of the charmer.
The object which wrought so swift and pleasant a
change in the young man's mood and manner was a
girl's face seen in profile some seats in front of him.
A modest little hat with a sweeping feather rested
easily on a mass of wavy hair, which was not spoilt by
any fashionable device, but looped up in a loose sort of
braid from which rebellious tendrils here and there
escaped to touch her white throat or shade her tem-
ples. One particularly captivating little curl twined
round her ear and seemed to be whispering some
pleasant secret, for the blooming cheek dimpled now
and then, the soft lips smiled, and the eyes were full of
a dreamy thoughtfulness. A book lay in her lap, but
her own fancies seemed more interesting, and she sat
watching the snow-flakes flutter down, lost in one of
the delightful reveries girls love, quite unconscious of
the admiration of her neighbors, or the fixed stare
of the young man behind her.
" Miss Dolly, by all that's good ! " he said to himself,
suddenly forgetting the sins of his native land, and
finding it quite possible to stop a little longer in it. u She
said she was going to town with the old things, and
there she is, prettier than ever. If it hadn't been for
those provoking papers, I should have seen her when
she got in, and might have secured a seat by her.
That stout party evidently doesn't appreciate his ad-
vantages. I can't order him out, but I'll watch my
chance, for I really ought to apologize for my stupidity
yesterday. Wonder if she has forgotten all about it?"
And John fell into a reverie likewise, for he was in
just the mood to enjoy any thing so innocent and fresh
and sweet as the memory of little Dolly at her spin-
ning-wheel. It all came back to him with a redoubled
charm, for there was a home-like warmth and sim-
plicity about it that made the recollection very pleasant
to a solitary fellow knocking about the world with no
ties of any sort to keep him safe and steady. He felt
the need of them, and was all ready to give away his
honest heart, if he could find any amiable creature who
could be satisfied with that alone, for he had nothing
else to ofibr. He was rather fastidious, however, having
an artist's refined taste in the matter of beauty, and
a manly man's love of the womanliness which shows
itself in character, not clothes. But he had few oppor-
tunities to discover his ideal woman, and no desire to
worship a fashion plate, so here was an excellent heart
to let, and no one knew it, unless they had the skill to
read the notice in the window.
The reveries of both young people were rudely dis-
turbed by the " stout party," who having finished his
paper, and taken a comprehensive survey of his
thoughtful little neighbor, suddenly began to talk as if
A CINDER AND A SPARK. 253
he did "appreciate his advantages," and meant te
make the most of them.
John watched this performance with deep interest,
and it soon became rather exciting ; for Miss Dolly'a
face was a tell-tale, and plainly betrayed the rapid
transitions of feeling through which she passed. The
respectful attention she at first gave in deference to the
ags of the speaker changed to surprise, then to annoy-
ance, lastly to girlish confusion and distress ; for the
old gentleman was evidently of the Pecksniffian order,
and took advantage of his gray hairs to harass the
pretty damsel with his heavy gallantry.
Poor Miss Dolly looked vainly about her for any
means of escape, but every seat was full, and she was
quite unconscious that an irate young man behind her
was burning to rush to the rescue if he had only
known how. As no way appeared, John was forced to
content himself with directing such fiery glances at the
broad back of the ancient beau it was a wonder they
did not act like burning-glasses and set that expanse
of broadcloth in a blaze.
A crisis soon arrived, and woman's wit turned the
tables capitally ; for when the old gentleman confis-
cated her book under pretence of looking at it, and
then, laying his arm over the back of the seat, went on
talking with a fat smile that exasperated her beyond
endurance, Dolly gave him one indignant glance and
opened her window, letting in a blast of cold air that
made her tormentor start and shiver as if she had
boxed his ears.
"Good! if that does not rout the enemy, I'm much
mistaken," said John to himself, enjoy ing it all with tha
relish of a young man who sees an old one usurping
The enemy was not routed, but his guns were silenced ;
for, having expostulated with paternal solicitude, he
turned up his coat-collar and retired behind his paper,
evidently much disgusted at finding that two could
play at the game of annoyance, though the girl had to
call the elements to her aid.
" If I dared, I'd offer to change seats with him ; not
because he is suffering agonies at the idea of getting
tic-douloureux or a stiff neck, that would only serve him
right, but because she will get the worst of it. There,
she has already ! Confound that cinder ! why didn't it
go into his eye instead of hers ? " added John, as he saw
the girl shrink suddenly, and begin to wink and rub
her eye with distressful haste, while the " stout party ''
took advantage of the mishap to close the window with
an expression of vengeful satisfaction on his rubicund
visage. He offered no help, for his first rebuff still
rankled in his memory, but placidly twirled his thumbs,
with a sidelong glance now and then at his companion,
who, finding all her winking and rubbing in vain,
shrouded her face in a veil, and sat a pathetic picture
of beauty in distress, with an occasional tear rolling
over her cheek and her dear little nose reddening
rapidly with the general inflammation caused by that
This affecting spectacle was too much for John, who
not only felt the chivalrous desire of a man to help the
gentle sex, but remembered that he owed the girl a
good turn for her hospitality the day before, not to
mention the apology he quite burned to make. Know-
A CINDER AND A SPARK.
mg that the train would soon stop a few minutes for
the passengers to lunch, he resolved then and there to
cast himself into the breach and deliver the doubly
afflicted damsel at all costs.
Happily the station was reached before any great
damage was done to the girl's features, or the young
man's impatience became uncontrollable. The instant
the stout gentleman rose to seek refreshment John
dived for his valise, and, cleaving his way through the
crowded aisle, presented himself beside the empty place,
asking, with an attempt to look and speak like a stranger,
which would not have deceived Dolly a bit, had she not
been half-blind, "Is this seat engaged, madam?"
" No, sir," she answered, unveiling to discover what
new affliction fate had sent her.
It was delightful to see the one wistful eye light up
with a look of recognition, the one visible cheek flush
with pleasure, and the lips smile as they added, with
the impulsive frankness of a tormented girl, " Oh,
please take it quickly, or that dreadful man will come
back ! "
Quite satisfied with his welcome, John slipped into
the coveted place, resolving to keep it in spite of a
dozen stout gentlemen.
" Thanks, now what else can I do for you ? " he
asked, with such an evident desire to lend a hand some-
where that it was impossible to decline his services.
" Could you take this thing out of my eye? It
hurts dreadfully, and I shall be a spectacle by the time
I get to Aunt Maria's," answered Dolly, with a little
moan that rent the hearer's susceptible heart.
" That is just what I want to do, and you may trust
relish of a young man who sees an old one usurping hii
The enemy was not routed, but his guns were silenced ;
for, having expostulated with paternal solicitude, he
turned up his coat-collar and retired behind his paper,
evidently much disgusted at finding that two could
play at the game of annoyance, though the girl had to
call the elements to her aid.
" If I dared, I'd offer to change seats with him ; not
because he is suffering agonies at the idea of getting
tic-douloureux or a stiff neck, that would only serve him
right, but because she will get the worst of it. There,
she has already ! Confound that cinder ! why didn't it
go into his eye instead of hers ? " added John, as he saw
the girl shrink suddenly, and begin to wink and rub
her eye with distressful haste, while the " stout party "
took advantage of the mishap to close the window with
an expression of vengeful satisfaction on his rubicund
visage. He offered no help, for his first rebuff still
rankled in his memory, but placidly twirled his thumbs,
with a sidelong glance now and then at his companion,
who, finding all her winking and rubbing in vain,
shrouded her face in a veil, and sat a pathetic picture
of beauty in distress, with an occasional tear rolling
over her cheek and her dear little nose reddening
rapidly with the general inflammation caused by that
This affecting spectacle was too much for John, who
not only felt the chivalrous desire of a man to help the
gentle sex, but remembered that he owed the girl a
good turn for her hospitality the day before, not to
mention the apology he quite burned to make. Know-
A CINDER AND A SPARK. 556
mg that the train would soon stop a few minutes for
the passengers to lunch, he resolved then and there to
cast himself into the breach and deliver the doubly
afflicted damsel at all costs.
Happily the station was reached before any great
damage was done to the girl's features, or the youtig
man's impatience became uncontrollable. The instaut
the stout gentleman rose to seek refreshment John
dived for his valise, and, cleaving his way through the
crowded aisle, presented himself beside the empty place,
asking, with an attempt to look and speak like a stranger,
which would not have deceived Dolly a bit, had she not
been half-blind, "Is this seat engaged, madam?"
" No, sir," she answered, unveiling to discover what
new affliction fate had sent her.
It was delightful to see the one wistful eye light up
with a look of recognition, the one visible cheek flush
with pleasure, and the lips smile as they added, with
the impulsive frankness of a tormented girl, " Oh,
please take it quickly, or that dreadful man will come
back ! "
Quite satisfied with his welcome, John slipped into
the coveted place, resolving to keep it in spite of a
dozen stout gentlemen.
" Thanks, now what else can I do for you ? " he
asked, with such an evident desire to lend a hand some-
where that it was impossible to decline his services.
" Could you take this thing out of my eye? It
hurts dreadfully, and I shall be a spectacle by the time
I get to Aunt Maria's," answered Dolly, with a little
moan that rent the hearer's susceptible heart.
" That is just what I want to do, and you may trust
weak as that made at the famous Boston tea-party,
when, as every one knows, water was liberally used.
" You saw him, then, when he was plaguing me ? "
" I did, and longed to throw him out of the win-
" Thanks. Did you recognize me before you spoke ? "
" Of course I did, and wanted to approach, but didn't
dare till the cinder gave me an excuse."
" The idea of being afraid of me ! "
" How could I help being afraid, when you told me
Miss Dolly was l awful ' ? " asked John, twinkling with
fun, as he sat on the arm of a seat sociably eating a
sandwich, which under other circumstances would have
struck him as being a remarkable combination of saw-
dust and sole-leather.
Before Dolly could reply except by a guilty blush, a
bell rang, and John hurried away with the empty cup.
A moment or two later the stout gentleman ap-
peared, wiping his mouth, evidently feeling in a better
humor, and ready to make up with his pretty neigh-
bor. Smiling blandly, he was about to remove the
valise, when Miss Dolly laid her hand upon it, saying
with great dignity, " This seat is engaged, sir. There
are plenty of others now, and I wish this for my
Here John, who was just behind, seeing his prize in
danger, gave a gentle shove to several intervening
fellow-beings, who in turn propelled the " stout party "
past the disputed place, which the young man took
with an air of entire satisfaction, and a hearty " Thank
you!" which told Dolly he had overheard her little
A CINDER AND A SPARK. 259
She colored beautimlly, but said with grateful frank-
" It wasn't a fib : a friend in need is a friend indeed,
and in return for the cinder I'm glad to give you a
" Blessed be the cinder, then ! " murmured John,
feeling at peace with all mankind. Then taking advan-
tage of the propitious moment, he added in a peniten-
" I want to apologize for my stupidity and uninten~
tional rudeness yesterday."
"About what?'" asked Dolly, innocently, though her
eyes began to sparkle with amusement.
" Why, taking it into my head that Miss Hill must
be oldish, and going on in that absurd way about
" Well, I am a spinster, and not so young as I have
been. I ought to apologize for not telling you who I
was ; but it was so very funny to hear you go on in that
sober way to my face, I couldn't spoil it," said the girl,
with a look that upset John's repentant gravity; and
they laughed together as only the young and happy
" It is very good of you to take it so kindly, but 1
assure you it weighed upon my conscience, and it is a
great relief to beg pardon," he said, feeling as if they
had been friends for years.
" Have you been sketching old things ever since ? "
asked Dolly, changing the conversation with womanly
" Yes : I went to several places further on, but
didn't find any thing half so good as your chair and
tankard. I suppose you are taking the relics to town
"All but one."
" Which is that ? "
"The pumpkip hood. It is the only thing my step-
mother admires among my treasures, and she would
not give it up. You rather admired it, didn't you ? "
asked Dolly, with her demurest air.
"I deserve to be laughed at for my panic," answered
John, owning up manfully ; then pulled out his sketch-
book, with an eye to business even in the middle of a
" See here ! I tried to get that venerable hood into
my sketch, but couldn't quite hit it. Perhaps you can
" Let me see them all," said Dolly, taking possession
of the book with a most flattering air of interest.
"Nothing there but queer or famous things, all a
hundred years old at least," began John, quite forgetting
his stolen sketch of a pretty girl cleaning a snuffer-tray,
which he had worked up with great care the night
before. Perhaps this made the book open at that
particular page, for, as the words left his lips, Dolly's
eyes fell on her own figure, too well done to be mis-
taken, even if the artist's face had not betrayed him.
" What ' queer ' or ' famous ' old person of the last
century is that, please ? " she asked, holding it off, and
looking at it through her hand, while her lips broke
into a smile in spite of her efforts to look unconscious.
Knowing that a pretty woman will easily forgive a
liberty of that sort, John got out of the scrape hnnd-
lornely by answering with mock gravity,
A CINDER AND A SfARK.
" Oh, that's Madam Hancock, when a girl. Did you
never see the famous portrait at Portsmouth ? "
" No. The dress is rather modern, and not quite in
keeping with the antique chair she is sitting in," ob-
served the girl, critically.
"That's to be added later. I have to work up things,
you know, a face here, a costume there, and so on : all
" So I see. There's the hood ; but it wants a cape,"
and Dolly turned the leaf, as much amused at his
quickness as flattered by his compliment.
There were not many sketches as yet, but she ad-
mired them all, and, when the book was shut, chatted
on about antiquities, feeling quite friendly and comfort-
able ; for there was respect, as well as admiration, in
the honest blue eyes, and the young man did not
offend as the old one had done.
" As you are interested in curiosities, perhaps you
may like to see some that 1 have here in my bag. 1
am very fond and proud of them, because they are
genuine, and have histories of old times attached to
them," she said presently.
" I shall feel much honored by being allowed to look
at them," replied the artist, remembering that " people
used to laugh at poor Miss Dolly and her 'duds."
"This little pin, made of two hearts in diamonds and
rubies, with a crown above, used to be worn by my
mother's great aunt, Madam Hancock. She was a
Quincy, you know. And this long garnet buckle
fastened the Governor's stock," began Dolly, displaying
her store with a gentle pride pleasant to see.
" Most interesting ! but I can't help feeling grateful
that this J. H. doesn't have to wear a stock requiring
a foot-long buckle like that," answered John, picturing
himself in the costume of the past century, and won-
dering if it would suit his manly face and figure.
" Now don't laugh at this relic, for it is very curious,
though you won't appreciate it as a woman would ; "
and Dolly unfolded an old-fashioned housewife of red
velvet, lined with faded yellow damask. " That was
made by my dear mother out of a bit of the velvet
lining of the Governor's state-coach, and the coverlet
that a French Comte tore with his spurs."
" Come, that sounds well ! I appreciate coaches and
spurs, if I'm not up to brooches and needle-books.
Tell the story, please," besought John, who found it the
most delightful thing in the world to sit there, following
the pretty motions of the small hands, the changeful
expression of the winsome face, and enjoying the com-
panionship of the confiding creature beside him.
" Well, you see, when Madam married Captain Scott
many of the Governor's things were taken from her,
among them the state-coach. By the way, it is said to
be in existence now, stored away in somebody's barn
down in Portland. You had better go and sketch it,"
began Dolly, smoothing out the old housewife, and
evidently glad to tell the little story of the ancestress
whom she was said to resemble, though she modestly
refrained from mentioning a fact of which she was
"I will!" and John soberly made a memorandum
to visit the ancient coach.
"When my great-great aunt was told she must
give up the carriage, she ripped out the new velvet
A CINDER AND A SPAEK. 263
lining, which had been put in at her expense, and
gave the bits to her various nieces. Mother made
a spenoer of hers, and when it was worn out kept
enough for this needle-book. The lining is a scrap of
the yellow damask counterpane that was on the bed
in which the Frenchman should have slept when he
came with Lafayette to visit Madam, only he was so
tipsy he laid on the outside, and tore the fine cover
with his spurs. There's a nice Comte fcr you ! "
" I'd like to see the spurs, nevertheless. Any more
treasures?" and John peered into the bag, as if he
thirsted for more antiquarian knowledge.
" Only one, and this is the most valuable of all.
Stoop down and look : I'm afraid I may be robbed, if I
display my things carelessly."
John obediently bent till the sweeping feather of her
hat touched his cheek, to the great annoyance of the
banished peri, who viewed these pleasant passages from
afar with much disfavor.
" This is said to be Madam's wedding ring. I like
to think so, and am very proud to be named for her,
because she was a good woman as well as a "
" Beauty," put in John, as the speaker paused to open
B faded case in which lay a little ring of reddish gold.
" I was going to say as well as a brave one ; for
I need courage," added the girl, surveying the old-
fashioned trinket with such a sober face that the young
man refrained from alluding to the remarkable coinci-
dence of another John and Dolly looking at the wed-
ding ring together.
She seemed to have forgotten all about her com-
panion for a moment, and be busy with her own
thoughts, as she put away her treasures with a car
which made it a pleasure to watch her tie knots, ad-
just covers, repack her little bag, and finally fold her
hands over it, saying gravely,
" I love to think about those times ; for it seems aa
if people were better then, the men more honest, the
women more womanly, and every thing simpler and
truer than now. Does it ever seem so to you?"
"Indeed it does; for this very day, as I read the
papers, I got quite low-spirited, thinking what a shame-
ful state things have got into. Money seems to be the
one idea, and men are ready to sell their souls for it,"
answered John, as soberly as she.
"Money is a good thing to have, though;" and
Dolly gave a little sigh, as she drew her scarf over the
worn edges of her jacket.
" So it is ! " echoed John, with the hearty acquiescence
of a man who had felt the need of it.
" My name and these old treasures are all my fortune,
and I used to be contented with it ; but I'm not now,
dependence is so hateful ! " added the girl, impulsively ;
then bit her lip, as if the words had escaped in spite
" And this is all mine," said John, twirling the pencil
which he still held ; giving confidence for confidence,
and glad to do it, if it made them better friends, for he
pitied little Miss Dolly, suspecting what was true, that
her home was not a happy one.
She thanked him mutely for the kind look he gave
her, and said prettily,
" Skill is money ; and it must be a very pleasant
life to go about drawing beautiful or curious things."
A CINDER AND A SPAEK. 265
" So it is sometimes, yesterday, for instance," he
"7" have no modern accomplishments to earn a living
by. Mine are all old-fashioned ; and no one cares for
such nowadays, except in servants. 1 may be very
glad of them, though ; for playing lady doesn't seem
half so honest as going out to service, when one has
nothing but an empty pair of hands," she said with a
wistful yet courageous look at the wintry world out-
Bide, which made her companion feel a strong desire to
counsel and protect this confiding young Columbus,
who knew so little of the perils which would beset her
voyage in search of a woman's El Dorado.
" Come to me for a recommendation before you try
it. I can vouch for your cooking, you know. But I'd
advise you to play lady till you discover a good safe
place. I don't believe you'll find it hard, for the world
is likely to be very kind to such as you," he answered,
so cheerily that she brightened like a flower to which
a stray sunbeam is very welcome.
A shrill whistle announced that the journey was
over, and everybody began at once to fuss and fumble.
John got up to take his valise from the rack, and Dolly
began to struggle into her rubbers. She was still
bending down to do this, with as little damage as
possible to her best gloves, when she heard a sounding
lap and a hearty voice cry out,
" Hullo, John ! " then add in a lower tone, " So there
is a Mrs. Harris, you sly dog, you?"
" Plush ! there isn't. How are you, George ? " re-
turned another voice, beginning in a hurried whispci
and ending in an unnecessarily loud salutation.
What happened for a minute or two after that Dolly
did not know ; for the rubbers proved so refractory that
she only rose from the encounter flushed and hurried,
as the train entered the station.
" Let me make myself useful in looking after your
baggage," said her self-constituted escort, handing her
out with great respect and care.
"Thank you : all my things come by express, so I've
nothing to do but get into a carriage."
"Then allow me to see you safely there, for the sake
of the treasures, if nothing else ; " and John led her away,
utterly ignoring the presence of " George," who stood
looking after them, with a face full of good-humored
interest and amusement.
" I'm very much obliged. Good-by," said Dolly, from
the coach window.
" Not good-by : I'm coming to the fair, you know,"
answered John, lingering at the door as if loath to lose
eight of his little friend.
" I forgot all about it ! "
" I didn't ; for I depend on the cakes and ale and all
the other good things promised me."
"You will find them there," with a smile, and then
a sudden blush as she remembered that he had not
only agreed to speak to " Miss Dolly," but to " win her
He remembered also, and laughed as he bowed with
the same audacious look he had worn when he made
that rash vow.
"I wonder if he will come?" thought the girl, as she
"As if I should forget !" said John to himself, as he
trudged through the snow, quite regardless of his wait-
ing friend ; for from the little cinder had been kindled
a spark of the divine fire that moves one of tne great
engines which transport mankind all the world over.
JOHN HARRIS promised to "do" the fair, and kept
his word handsomely ; for he was there every day for a
week, lunching in the old-fashioned kitchen, and then,
in his official capacity, sketching every relic he could
lay his eyes on. Such punctuality caused the pretty
waiters to smile affably upon this faithful devourer of
primitive viands, and the matrons to predict great things
from the young artist's application to his work.
Little guessed the girls and the gossips that love was
ravaging their generous patron's heart more persistently
than he did their tables, and that nature not art caused
his devotion to modern beauty rather than ancient
ugliness For all John saw in the crowd that filled
the place vas Dolly, tripping to and fro tray in hand,
spinning at her wheel, or resting beside Aunt Maiia,
twin sister of Mrs. Hill, in an imposing cap instead of
the pumpkin hood. Pretty Dolly was the belle of the
kitchen ; for she alone of all the dozen damsels on duty
looked her part, and was in truth a country girl, rich iu
the old-fashioned gifts and graces of health, modesty,
housewifely skill, and the sweet maklenliness which
girls who come out at sixteen soon lose for ever. Her
dress, too, was wonderfully complete and becoming,
though only a pink and white chintz, a mob-cap, and an
uncompromising apron, with the pin-ball, scissors, keys,
and linen pocket hanging at the side. The others
looked like stage soubrettes, and acted like coquettish
young ladies who knew nothing about their work.
But Dolly was genuine throughout, so she proved a
great success; and Aunt Maria took all the credit of
it to herself, felt that she had done a good thing in
bringing so much youth, energy, and loveliness to
market, and expressed her satisfaction by talking a
great deal about " our family," which, as she was a
Smith, was certainly large enough to furnish endless
Another person watched, admired, and hovered
about the girl like a blue-bottle fly about a rose ; and
that was Mr. Aaron Parker, a dapper little man of fifty,
who, having made a snug fortune, was now anxious to
marry and settle. Aunt Maria was evidently his confi-
dant and friend ; and it was soon apparent that Aunt
Maria intended to make a match between her niece and
this amiable gentleman, who set about his wooing with
old-fashioned formality and deliberation.
All this John saw, heard, or divined with the keen-
ness of a lover, while he watched the events of that
week; for he very soon made up his mind that he
adored " Miss Dolly," as he always called her to him-
self. The short time which had elapsed between the
car episode and the opening of the fair seemed endless
to him ; and, when he came beaming into the kitchen
the very first day, his heart sang for joy at sight of
that bonny face once more. She welcomed him so
kindly, served him so prettily, and showed such frank
and friendly pleasure at meeting him again, that the
lonely fellow felt as if he had suddenly found a large
ftnd attached family, and yielded to the charm withou-t
a struggle. She seemed to belong to him somehow, as
if he had discovered her, and had the first right to
admire, help, and love her ; for he alone of all the men
there had seen her at home, had looked deepest into
the shy, bright eyes, and heard her call him "friend."
This delightful state of things lasted for a few days,
during which he felt as if quaffing nectar and tasting
ambrosia, while he drank the promised cider and ate
the spicy " sweethearts " which Dolly always brought
him with a smile that went directly to his head, and
produced a delicious sort of intoxication. He never
could have but a word or two, she was so busy ; but,
as he snt apart, pretending to sketch, he was living over
those brief, blissful moments, and concocting wonder-
fully witty, wise, or tender speeches for the morrow.
Well for him that no one looked over his shoulder at
such times, for his portfolio would have betrayed him,
since it was a wild jumble of andirons and mob-caps*
antique pepper-pots and pretty profiles, spinning-wheels,
and large eyes with a profusion of lash ; while a dainty
pair of feet in high-heeled slippers seemed to dance
fr;>m page after page, as if the artist vainly sought to
exorcise some persistent fancy by booking it over and
Suddenly a change appeared both in the man and in
his work ; for Parker had arrived, and clouds began to
gather on the horizon which was rosy with the dawn
of love. Now John discovered that the cider was sour
and the cake stale, for the calls of a voracious rival
cruelly abbreviated his moments of bliss. Now he
glared and brooded in corners where once he had
revelled in dreams of a dim but delightful future. Now
the pages of his sketch-book bore grotesque likenesses
of a round, snub-nosed countenance in all sorts of queei
places, such as a clock-face, under a famous cocked hat,
or peeping out of a memorable warming-pan ; while a
dapper figure was seen in various trying attitudes, the
most frequent being prone before the dancing feet, one
of which was usually spurning a fat money-bag, with
contempt in every line of the pretty slipper.
At this stage, the fair ended, and Aunt Maria bore
the charmer away, leaving John to comfort himself
with the memory of a parting look of regret from
behind Governor Hancock's punch-bowl, which Dolly
embraced with one arm, while the other guarded
Madam's best china tea-pot.
Maddening was it to haunt the street before Aunt
Maria's door, and hear a gay voice singing inside fit to
melt a paving stone, to say nothing of a young man's
heart. More maddening still to catch occasional
glimpses of the girl shut up in a carriage with the
dragon, or at concerts and theatres under the escort
of Mr. Parker. But most maddening of all was the
frequent spectacle of this enamoured gentleman trot-
ting up the street, simpering to himself as he went, and
freely entering at the door which shut the younger
lover out of Paradise.
At such trying periods, John (now very far gone
indeed, for love feeds on air) would feel a wild desire
to knock the little man down, storm Aunt Maria's man-
sion, and carry his Dolly away from what he felt
assured was an irksome bondage to the girl. But, alas 1
where could he carry the dear creature when he had
got her? For all the home he possessed was one room
in a dull boarding-house, and his only fortune the
salary his pencil earned him. Then, as he groaned over
these sad facts, a great temptation would assail him;
for he remembered that with a word he could work
the miracle which would give him half a million, and
make all things possible but the keeping of his own
Hard times just then for John Harris ; and for some
weeks he went about his daily duties with such a
divided mind and troubled spirit that the stoniest
heart might have pitied him. But comfort came when
least expected, and in trying to help another he got
help himself and hope beside.
One gusty March morning he arrayed himself in his
best, put a posy in his buttonhole, and went gallantly
away to Aunt Maria's door, bound to make a call in
spite of her frowns at the fair, and evident desire to
ignore his existence since. Boldly ringing the forbid-
den bell, he inquired for the ladies. Both were
engaged ; and, as if nothing should be wanting to big
chagrin, as he went down the steps Mr. Parker, bear-
ing a suggestive bouquet, went up and was instantly
It was too much for poor John, who rushed away
into the park, and pulling his hat over his eyes tramped
wrathfully down the mall, muttering to himself,
" It's no use ; I must give in ; for with a fortune in
my pocket I could carry all before me, bribe Aunt
Maria, outbid Aaron, and win my Dolly, if I'm not
Just then a sharp yelp roused him from his excited
reverie, and looking up he found that he had kicked a
fat poodle, who was waddling slowly along, while some
way before him went a little figure in a gray hat, at
Bight of which John's heart gave a leap. Here was
bliss ! Dolly alone at last, and he could defy the
dragon and all her machinations. Parker and his fine
bouquet were nowhere ; Harris and his buttonhole
posy had the best of it now ; and, leaving the fat
poodle to whine and waddle at its own sweet will, the
happy man hurried forward to make the most of this
As he drew near, he observed that a handkerchief
went more than once to the face which drooped in a
thoughtful way as the feet paced slowly on.
" Bless her heart ! she is catching cold, and dreaming
dreams, here all alone," thought John, as, stepping to
her side, he said gently, that he might not startle her,
" Good-morning, Miss Dolly."
He did startle her, nevertheless, and himself as well ;
for, as she turned quickly, he saw that her face was
bathed in tears. Instantly all his own troubles took
wing; and, with no thought but how to comfort her, he
"I beg pardon, but do tell me what is the matter?"
He came upon her so suddenly that there was no time
to hide the tell-tale tears. He looked so eager, kind, and
helpful, she could not be offended at his words ; and
just then she needed a friend so much, it was hard
to resist confiding in him. Yet, womanlike, she tried
to hide her little worries, to make light of her girlish
giief, and turn a brave face to the world. So she
brushed the drops from her eyes, put on a smile, and
" It was very foolish of me to cry, but it is so dull
and lonely here I think I was a little homesick."
" Then perhaps you won't mind if I walk on a bit
with you and apologize for kicking your little dog?"
said John, artfully availing himself of this excuse.
"No, indeed. He is Aunt Maria's dog; but how
came you to do it?" asked the girl, plainly showing
that a human companion was very welcome.
"I was in a brown study, and did it by accident.
He's so fat it didn't hurt him much," answered the
young man, assuming his gayest manner for her sake.
Then he added, with an excuse which did not deceive
her a bit,
" The fact is, I'd ventured to call on you to see if
I could get a sketch of the punch-bowl ; but you
were engaged, the girl said, and I was rather disap-
" What a fib ! I'm sorry I was out ; but the house was
gloomy and Aunt rather cross, so I ran away under
pretence of giving old Tip an airing."
"Ah, you don't know what you lost! Mr. Parker
went m as I came out, with such a nosegay! for Aunt
Maria, I suppose?" and John tried to look quite easy
and gay as he spoke.
Dolly's face darkened ominously, and a worried look
came into her eyes as she glanced behind her, then
quickened hei steps, saying, with a little groan that
was both comic and pathetic,
" It does seem as if it was my doom to be tormented
by old gentlemen ! I wish you'd get rid of this one as
you did of the other."
" Nothing would give me greater pleasure," answered
John, with such heartiness that a sudden color dried
Dolly's wet cheeks, as she remembered that he had got
rid oi tormentor number one by taking his place.
Cheered by the knowledge that a champion was
ready to defend her, she ventured to show him a safer
way in which to serve her, saying very soberly,
" I think I may be glad of the recommendation you
once promised me. Should you mind giving it?"
" Are you tired of * playing lady ' so soon ? " he
" So tired that I felt to-day as if I'd like to run away
and take service with the first person who would en-
" Don't ! " exclaimed John, with such energy that
the fat poodle barked shrilly and made a feeble charge
at his boots, feeling that something was wrong some-
where. " Run away home, if you must run, but pray
don't get discouraged and do any thing rash," he went
on with great earnestness ; for he saw by her face that
she was in some real trouble.
"I haven't even a home to run to; for Mrs. Hill
agrees with Aunt that it's time I ceased to be a burden.
It's very hard, when I only ask a safe corner in the
world, and am willing to work for it," cried the girl,
with an irrepressible sob ; for the trials of many weeks
had grown unbearable, and a kind word made the full
Neither spoke for a minute, then John said with a
respectful earnestness which touched her very much,
" Miss Dolly, you once called me a friend, and I was
very proud to be so honored. Forget that I am any
thing else, and, if you have no one wiser and older to
consult, trust me, and let me help you. I've knocked
about the world enough to know how hard it is for a
man to get an honest living, doubly hard for a woman,
especially one as young and beautiful as you are.
There are safe corners, I am sure ; but it takes time to
find them, so pray be patient and do nothing without
" I called you a friend in need, and so you are ; for,
strange as it may seem, there is no one to whom I can
go for disinterested advice. I know so little of the
world that I'm afraid to trust my own judgment, yet
I am driven to decide between dependence of a sort
I despise, or to stand alone and take care of mysel
Will you advise me?" and she looked up with an
appealing glance, which read such a reassuring answer
in the honest eyes full of sincerest sympathy that she
was comforted before he spoke.
" Indeed I will ! for what are we all here for, if not
to help one another? Do you know I think there is a
Bort of fate about these things, and it's no use to strus:-
<^7 ' \^
gle against it. We seem to be two ' lone, lorn ' crea-
tures thrown together in queer ways, so let's agree to
be old friends and stand by each other. Come, is it
a bargain ? "
He seemed so firmly convinced of the inevitability
of this fate that the girl felt relieved from farther scru-
ples, and agreed in all good faith,
"Now about the troubles?" began John, trying to
look old, reliable, and wise ; for he guessed the one
she was most reluctant to tell.
" I suppose marrying for an establishment or earning
their bread is a question most poor girls have to settle
sooner or later," observed Dolly, in a general sort of
way, as an opening; for, in spite of his praiseworthy
efforts, her young counsellor did not succeed in looking
like a sage.
" If pretty, yes ; if plain, no. We needn't discuss
the latter class, but go on to the question," returned
John, keeping to the subject in hand with masculine
"I'd rather be an old man's housekeeper than hia
wife ; but people won't believe it, and laugh at me for
being what they call so foolish," said the girl, petulantly ;
for she did not seem, to be getting on well with her
" I thought from what I saw at the fair that Parker
seemed ready to offer both situations for your accept-
John could not help saying that, for a jealous pang
assailed him at the mere idea. He feared that he had
spoilt the rdle he was trying to play ; but it happened
to be the best thing he could have done, for the intro-
duction of that name made things much easier for
Dolly, as she proved by kindling up as suddenly aa
if the word had been a match to fire a long train of
" He did ; and Aunt scolds me from morning till
night, because I won't accept the fine establishment he
offers me. That's what I was sent here for ! Mj step-
mother wants me out of the way, Aunt Maria hands
nio over to Mr. Parker, and he takes me because I
know how to cook and nurse. I might as well be put
up at auction and sold to the highest bidder!" she
cried, with eyes flashing through indignant tears.
" It's abominable ! " echoed John, with equal indig-
nation, though the words "highest bidder '"rung in his
ears, as he thought of the fortune waiting for him, and
the youth which would tell so strongly in the race
against "old Parker," as he irreverently called the
little man ; for fifty seems a patriarchal age to four-and*
" I know that sort of thing is done every day, and
thought quite right ; but I am so old-fashioned it seems
terrible to marry merely for a home. Yet I'm very
tired of being poor, and I should like a taste of ease
and pleasure while I can enjoy them," added Dolly,
with a very natural longing for the bright and happy
side of life.
" And I could give her all she wants," thought John,
with the temptation getting stronger every minute.
But he only said a little bitterly, " You'd better give
in, if you want ease and pleasure, for money can buy
* No, it can't buy love, and that is better than all
the splendor in the world," answered the girl, in a tone
that thrilled her hearer to the heart. " What I call
love seems to have gone out of fashion ; and that is what
troubles me ; because, if there isn't any such thing, I may
as well take the next best, and try to be contented.
No one seems to value love for itself alone, to feel the
need of it as much as light and air, to miss it when it
goes, or try to earn and keep it as the most precious thing
in the world. Money and position are every thing, and
men work and women marry for these, as if they had
no other hope or end; and I'm frightened at the things
I see and hear in what is called society."
"Poor child, I don't wonder; but I assure you there
t*5 an ocean of love in the world, only it gets put out of
Bight in the rush, wasted on those who don't deserve
it, or dammed up by adverse circumstances. It exists
though, the real genuine article, waiting for a market.
Do believe it, and wait for it, and I'm sure it will come
John was so divided between a rash impulse to
prove his point by a declaration then and there, and
the conviction that it would be altogether premature,
his metaphors got rather mixed, and he had to pull
himself up abruptly. But Dolly thought it a beautiful
speech, was glad to believe every word of it, and ac-
cepted this piece of advice with admirable docility.
" I'll wait, and meantime be looking about for the
safe corner to run to when Aunt Maria gets tired of
me, because I don't mean to go home again to be a
burden." Then, as if anxious to slip away from a too
interesting topic, she asked with a very winning ex-
pression of interest and good-will,
"Now what can I do for you? I'm sure you have
worries as well as I, and, though not very wise, perhaps
I might advise in my turn."
" You are very good, but I couldn't think of trou-
bling you;" and the young man looked both pleased
and flurried by the girl's offer.
" We agreed to help one another, you remember ; and
1 must do my part, or the bargain won't be a fair
Tell me what the brown study was about, and I'll for-
give the kick poor Tip got," persisted Dolly; for her
feminine instinct told her that a heavy cloud of some
sort had been lifted to let sunshine through for her.
John did long to know her opinion on a certain
matte" , but a man's pride would not let him speak as
freely as the girl had done, so he took refuge in a mild
subterfuge, and got advice on false pretences.
" It was only a quandary I was in about a friend of
mine. He wants my judgment in a case something
like yours, and perhaps you could help me with an
opinion ; for women are very wise in such matters
" Please tell me, if you may. I should so love to
pay my debts by being of some use ; " and Dolly was
all attention, as she pushed back her vail as if to get a
clear and impartial view of the case about to be sub-
Fixing his eyes on the sparrows who were disport-
ing themselves among the budding elm-boughs, John
plunged abruptly into his story, never once looking at
his hearer and speaking so rapidly that he was rathei
red and breathless when he got through.
"You see, Jack was plodding along after a fashion
all by himself, his people being dead, when an old
friend of his father's took it into his head to say, ' Como
and be a son to me, and I'll leave you a handsome
fortune when I die.' A capital thing it seemed, and
Jack accepted, of course. But he soon found that he
had given up his liberty, and was a slave to a very
tyrannical master, who claimed him soul and body,
heart and mind. That didn't suit Jack, and he would
have broken away ; but, as you say, he was ' tired of
being poor, and wanted a little ease and pleasure in his
life.' The old man was failing, and the money would
soon be his, so he held on, till he suddenly discovered
that this fortune for which he was waiting was not
honest money, but, like many another great fortune,
had been ground out of the poor, swindled out of honest
men, or stolen from trusting friends, and hoarded up
for a long lifetime, to be left to Jack with the curse of
dishonesty upon it. Would you advise him to take
"No," answered the girl, without a moment's hesi-
"Well, he didn't, but turned his back on the ill-
gotten money, and went to work again with clean
but empty hands," added John, still looking away,
though his face wore a curiously excited expression
under its enforced composure.
" I'm glad, very glad he did ! Wasn't it noble of
him?" asked Dolly, full of admiring interest in this
" It was very hard ; for you see he loved somebody,
and stood a poor chance of winning her without a
penny in his pocket."
" All the nobler in him then ; and, if she was worth
winning, she'd love him the more for the sacrifice," said
Dolly, warmly ; for the romance of the story took her
fancy, though it was poorly told.
" Think so ? I'll mention that to Jack : it will cheer
him up immensely, for he's afraid to try his fate with
nothing to offer but his earnings."
" What's his business?" asked Dolly suddenly.
" Connected witli newspapers, fair salary, good
prospects, not ashamed to work," answered John,
staring hard at the sparrows, and wiping his forehead,
as if he found the bleak day getting too warm for him
" Is the girl pretty ? "
" The most captivating little creature I ever beheld ! "
cried John, rapturously.
" Oh, indeed," and Dolly glanced at him sharply, while
a shadow passed over her face, as she asked with re-
doubled interest, " Is she rich ? "
" Has nothing but her sweet face and good name I
"Isn't that enough?"
" Indeed it is ! but Jack wants to make life beautiful
and easy for her, and he can by saying a word. He is
awfully tempted to say it ; for the old man is dying, has
sent for him to come back, and there is yet time to
secure a part of the fortune. He won't take it all, but
has a fancy that, if he leaves half to charity, it would be
a sort of purification to the other half; and he might
enjoy it with his love. Don't you think so? "
" No, it would spoil the whole thing. Why cannot
they be contented to begin with nothing but love, and
work up together, earning every clean and honest penny
they spend. It would be a comfort to see such a pair
in this mercenary world, and I do hope they will do it,"
said the girl, heartily, though a slightly pensive tone
had come into her voice, and she stifled a small sigh, as
she put down her vail as if there was nothing worth
seeing in the landscape.
"I think they loill try it!" answered John, with
decision, as he smiled sympathetically at a pair of
sparrows chirping together at the door of one of the
desirable family mansions provided for their use.
Here Tip ended the dangerous dialogue by sitting
down before Dolly with a howl of despair, which recalled
her to her duty.
" The poor old thing is tired, and must go in. Good-
morning, and many thanks," she said, turning toward
the steps, which they would have passed unseen but for
the prudent poodle's hint.
" Good-by, and a thousand pardons for boring you
with my affairs," began John, with a penitent, yet very
" By the way, I've been so interested in Jack's affairs
that I've forgotten exactly what your advice was to me,"
she added, pausing on the upper step for a last word.
With his hat in his hand and his heart in his eyes,
John looked up and answered in a tone that made few
" Don't sell yourself for a home."
And Dolly answered back with a sweet, shrewd smile
that made him flush guiltily,
" Don't smother your conscience with a fortune,"
APRIL FOOLS. 283
TIP'S constitutionals were taken with jraiseworthy
regularity about that time, and the poor asthmatic ani-
mal was nearly walked off his legs by the vigor with
which his little mistress paraded the park at unfashion-
able hours. A robust young man, who did not look
as if he needed early walks, was continually meeting
Dolly by accident as it were, till on the fourth ren-
contre they both burst out laughing, gave up all fur-
ther subterfuge, and felt that it was vain to struggle
against fate. The next time they met, both looked
very sober ; and John said, watching her face as he
" It is all over with me, Miss Dolly. The old man is
dead, and my chance is lost for ever."
" You look so solemn, I'm afraid he left you some-
thing, after all."
" Not a penny. All went to various charities, and I
have nothing but my salary and these two hands."
" I'm glad of that ! I'd like to shake those honest
hands, and wish them all success. May I?" she said,
putting out her own with such cordial approval in
voice and eyes that John lost his head, and, holding
both the small hands fast in his, answered all in one
fervently incoherent burst,
"May you? Let me keep them, and then I shall
succeed ! Dearest Dolly, you said you didn't want
284 . INDEPENDENCE.
any thing but love ; and here's a whole heart full, acL
ing to be poured out. You said you'd like to see Jack
and his wife working their way up together, contented
to be poor. Here's Jack and the wife he wants, if she
cares enough for him to try that beautiful experiment.
You said you hadn't any home to run to when those
cruel women called you a burden. Run to me, my
darling, and be the pride and joy and comfort of my
life ! "
No one saw what Dolly did but Tip, who sat lolling
out his tongue in an imbecile manner; and no one
heard what she said but some bright-faced crocuses
blooming early in that lonely corner of the park. Rut
from what took place afterward, it was evident that
her reply had not been entirely un propitious; for her
Land lay on John's arm, her face was in an April state
between smiles and tears, and to her eyes midsummer
warmth and radiance seemed to have fallen suddenly
upon the earth. It is hardly necessary to mention
that the other party in this little transaction looked
as if he owned the entire world, was yearning to em-
brace all mankind, and had nothing more to ask of
Heaven in the w. v of happiness.
" You don't regret saying yes, like an angel," asked
this unreasonable lover, five minutes after he had sur-
prised her into uttering that momentous monosyllable.
" You know t^t it is very selfish of me to ask you,
when I've nothing to give ; and very unwise in you to
take me, because you have much to lose."
" Why, what ? "
" The devoted Parker and his plump pocket-book."
APRIL FOOLb. 2&,
It was good to hear Dolly laugh at that, and to see
John glance defiantly at an elderly gentleman in the
distance, as if all that harmless portion of the race ought
to be exterminated, to leave room for happy young fel-
lows like himself.
" He will believe now that, when I say ' No,' I mean
H," answered Dolly, with an assumption of dignity,
which changed with comic suddenness to one of dis-
may, as she added, " Oh, my heart, what will Aunt
Maria say ! "
"Don't tell her just yet, or she will shut you up,
whisk you away, or do some awful thing to part us.
Keep this delicious secret for a little while, and we can
enjoy many happy minutes in peace."
"Yes, John," with a docility that was altogether
captivating to the new commander-in-chief.
" I must look about me, and be getting ready to take
you into my home as well as my heart, when the storm
breaks. There is sure to be one, I fancy ; and, for my
part, I rather relish the idea. The air will be clearer
and things more settled after it."
" I don't know what they will say and do to me, but
I shall not mind, now I have you to take care of me ;"
and Dolly's other hand went to join the one on John's
arm, with a confiding gesture which glorified the old
ooat-sleeve, in his eyes, more than any badge it could
have worn. '
" I suppose we must live somewhere, and eat occa-
sionally, since we are mortal. Love certainly is the
best capital to start on, but a trifle of cash is necessary
likewise ; so we must take a little thought for the
morrow. Wish the city would provide us with a.
house rent free, and board thrown in, as it does ouf
feathery confidants here," observed the husband elect,
eying the sparrows with a vague sense of domestic
cares already stealing over his masculine mind.
" Don't think of all those worries yet. Just love and
be happy for a time, and things will settle themselves
somehow," cried Dolly, whose womanly nature would
not be so soon defrauded of the sweet romance which
comes but once in a lifetime.
" Very well. We'll give a month to clear bliss, and
then talk about the honeymoon."
But, with the charming inconsistency of her sex, no
sooner had she forbidden a subject than she felt an in-
tense desire to talk about it ; and after a moment's pause,
during which her lover had been looking down at her
thoughtful face in silent rapture, Dolly emerged from a
brief reverie, clapping her hands and exclaiming,
"John, I've got the most delicious idea that ever
was. Now don't laugh and say, ' It isn't practical,' for
I know it is ; and it would be so new and appropriate
and economical, and altogether nice, that I hope you'll
approve. We shall want a home by and by, shall we
"I want it now, if you've no objection."
*' Be serious. Well, a room or two must content us
at first, and we want them to be decent, not to say
pretty and comfortable, don't we ? "
" They can't help being all three, if you are there,
" No, John, not in public ! Now answer me this .
won't you have to save up a long time, to get enough. \
to buy furniture and things, no matter how simple?"
APEIL FOOLS. 287
" I'm afraid I should ; for at present my housekeep-
ing stock is about as laro;e and varied as that of
Tommy Traddles. His consisted of a bird-cage and
a toasting-fork, I believe ; mine, of an easel and a
boot-jack. Wouldn't they do to begin with ? w
"Please don't joke, but listen; for this is the new
idea. Take my dear old relics and furnish our nest
with them ! What could be more economical, pictu-
resque, and appropriate for this centennial year?"
Dolly stopped short to see how this amazing proposal
struck her lord and master. It seemed to take him oft
his legs ; for he sat suddenly down upon a seat that
fortunately was behind him, and looked up at the
beaming little woman with an expression of admiration
and contentment, which answered her question so
emphatically that she nestled down beside him with
all her doubts laid at rest.
" I thought you'd like it ! Now let's plan it all out,
and see what we've got. Every thing is as old as the
bills, you know ; but still so good and strong we caii
get years of wear out of it. We don't have such well-
made furniture nowadays," she went on, happily
blind to the deficiencies of the time-worn chairs,
clumsy tables, and cracked china, which were all her
" My blessing on every stick of it ! I wasn't think-
ing about the furniture, though. I was rejoicing over
the fact that, if I needn't save up for that sort of
thing, we could be married all the sooner. That's the
beauty of the idea, don't you see ? " and John regarded
the originator thereof with unmitigated satisfaction.
" So we can j but do think about the furniture,
because you ought to be interested in helping me make
an artistic home," said Dolly, knowing that the word
" artistic " would arrest his attention, and keep him to
the subject in hand ; for as yet the other idea was too
new to bear much discussion.
"I will. In fact, I see it now, all complete. Two or
three rooms in an old house, if possible, they are always
the cheapest, my love ; so don't look as if you saw
cobwebs and blue mould, and felt black beetles run-
ning over your feet. In one room we'll have that
spider-legged table on which you cleaned the snuffer
tray, and the claw-footed chairs : there were three, I
think, one for each of us, and the third for a friend.
Then on the dresser we'll put all the porringers out of
which we are to eat mush and milk, and the pewter
platters for an occasional ' biled dish,' that's the
proper name for the mess, isn't it ? Likewise the dear
fat tea-pots, the red china cups, all cracked, the green-
handled knives and forks, the wooden spoons, funny
pepper-pots, and all the rest of the droll rattletraps."
"Don't forget the tankard," cried Dolly, as John
paused for breath in the middle of his rhapsody.
" That will be in our parlor, set forth in state on the
little stand I used to have my lunch at during the fair.
I'm afraid I scratched your initials all over it, that
being a trick of mine about that time."
" 1 thought you did it ! Never mind, but go on,
" We shall put flowers in the immortal mug, and I shall
paint them, earn sums, and grow famous, such will be
the inspiration of my surroundings. For, while I sit in
the General's chair at my delightful work, you in the
APRIL FOOLS. 289
pretty chintz gown and the fly-away cap, promise
me to wear it, or I won't go on ? "
" I'll wear any thing you like, in the house, and can
have a water-proof and a linen duster for the street.
Artists' wives usually do have to make guys of them-
selves, I believe."
" Thank you, dear. Well, you will always be doing
one of three things, making sweethearts, spinning, or
looking over my shoulder. I prefer the latter occupation
on the whole, and when I'm at home that will be your
mission. During my absence, you can attend to the
housework you love so well, and do so prettily. Never
did I see such brilliant candlesticks in my life ; and as
for the copper tea-kettle, it was like a mirror. I saw
you steal peeps at it more than once, Little Vanity,
that day as I sat stealing a sketch of you."
" Then you think it can be done, John ? " ignoring
" It not only can, but it shall be done, and I shouldn't
wonder if we set the fashion of furnishing bridal bovvers
with relics of all sorts, throwing in a glue-pot gratis, to
mend up the old things when they tumble to pieces.
I'm great at that, and can get my living as a cabinet-
maker when art fails."
" I do believe you can do every thing, John 1 "
" No, I couldn't cure pneumonia, if you should get it
by sitting in this chilly wind. Now I've got you, I
intend to take great care of you, my little treasure."
It was so sweet to Dolly to be cared for, and so
delightful to John to do it, that they forgot all about
poor Tip till he tumbled into the pond, and was with
difficulty fished out by his ears and tail, being too fat
to do any thing but float. This catastrophe shortened
an interview which might otherwise have been pro-
longed till nightfall, for
" Lightly falls the foot of time
That only treads on flowers."
" Why, John, do you know that this is the first of
April ? " asked Dolly, as they went homeward, with
Tip forlornly dripping in the rear. "A very fitting
day for such an imprudent couple as we are to begin
their journey," she added, enjoying the idea immensely.
" So it is ! Never mind ! we'll prove that we are no
fools, though a mercenary world may call us so," re-
turned John, as blithe as she.
Alas, poor things ! they thought their troubles were
all over, now they had found each other ; whereas a
cruel fate was laughing at them round the corner.
TEE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
UNFORTUNATELY for these deluded young persons,
their month of bliss turned out to be the most tem-
pestuous one they had ever passed ; for, before the first
week was over, some malignant imp inspired Aunt
Maria to spy, from a certain end window which com-
manded a corner of the park, the lingering adieux of
the lovers, and then it was all up with them.
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. 291
A single stormy debate, during which John manfully
claimed his Dolly, she stoutly defended her right to
love whom she chose, and Aunt Maria thundered
and lightened unavailingly, resulted in the banishment
of the claimant, the strict seclusion of the damsel, and
the redoubled devotion of the decorous but determined
Parker, who, cheered on by his ally, still besieged the
rebellious heart, undaunted by the reinforcements lately
The prospect was certainly not a hopeful one ; but
the young people never lost courage, rather enjoyed
it on the whole, and revolved endless schemes in their
busy brains, which they confided to one another by
means of notes slipped under Tip's collar when he took
his solitary airings on the steps. For a time persecution
lent its zest to their love ; but presently separation grew
unbearable, and they were ready for revolt.
" I must see you," wrote John, in note number 37.
" You shall" answered Dolly, and bade him meet
her at one of the many Centennial Balls which afflicted
the world in 1875-76.
To hear was to obey ; and though said ball was to be
eminently select, thanks to a skilful use of his middle
name, John was able to keep the appointed tryst, well
knowing that there is no solitude like that to be found
in a crowd. Costumes were in order ; and there was a
general resurrection of ancient finery, which made the
handsome hall look as if time had rolled back a hundred
years. Every one who had a hair powdered it, and
those who had not made up the deficiency by imposing
wigs. Spindle-legged gentlemen affected top-boots
and spurs ; those blessed with a manly development
of calf pranced in silk stockings and buckled shoes.
British and Continental uniforms amicably marched
shoulder to shoulder; dimity and brocade mingled
prettily together; and patriotic ardor animated the
hearts under the lace stomachers and embroidered
waistcoats as warmly as of old, for the spirit of '76
was all alive again.
Aunt Maria looked like a parrot of the most brilliant
plumage ; for the good lady burned to distinguish her-
self, and had vainly tried to wear a suit of Madam
Hancock's belonging to Dolly. Fortunately, Madam
was a small woman, and Aunt Maria quite the reverse;
so she was forced to give it up, and content herself
with being one of many Martha Washingtons who
filled the dowagers' corner.
So Dolly bloomed into the sweetest little old-time
lady ever seen, and was in truth by nature as by name
a Dorothy Quincy. Not as the matron, but as the
maid, with all her curly locks turned over a roller
before they fell on her white neck, where shone the
jewelled hearts she prized so much. Lilies of the val-
ley embroidered her white gown, and nestled among the
lace that rose and fell upon her bosom. From under
her quilted satin petticoat " her little feet stole in and
out," wearing Madam's wedding-shoes, so high in the
heels and so pointed at the toes that Dolly suffered
martyrdom with a smiling face, and danced at the risk
of her life. Long gloves, with Lafayette's likeness
stamped on the back, kept splitting at the time-worn
Beams, so plump were the arms inside. A quaint scent-
bottle hung at her waist ; and she hid her blushes behind
a great fan, whose dim mirror had reflected faces history
has made immortal.
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. 293
"You are simply perfect, Miss Hill, and nothing
could be added," whispered the still hopeful Parker,
who was on duty and much elated by the fact ; for the
girl was unusually friendly that evening for reasons of
"Except the Governor," she answered, peeping over
her fan with eyes full of anxiety as well as merriment ;
for John had not yet appeared, and the little man
beside her was very funny in a voluminous white neck-
cloth, furred coat-collar, and square-toed shoes, care-
fully kept in the " first position." He had longed to
personate the character she suggested. Stature forbade,
however; and he had contented himself with person-
ating Benjamin Franklin, flattering himself that his
placid countenance and neat legs would be remarkably
effective, also the fact that he had been connected
with the printing interest in early life.
" If you had only told me, I would have attempted
it for your sake : you have but to express a wish, and
I am charmed to gratify it," murmured the enamoured
Benjamin, with a tenderly reproachful sigh, which
stirred his rampant shirt-frill like a passing breeze.
At that moment, as if a wish had brought him,
a veritable John Hancock stood before them, looking
comelier than ever, in a velvet suit, as he laid his
cocked hat upon his heart and asked, with a bow so
deep that it afforded a fine view of the garnet buckle
in his stock,
"May I have the honor, Madam?"
Glad to hide a traitorously happy face, Dolly made
him a splendid curtsey, and took his arm with a
"Excuse me, Mr. Parker. Please tell Aunt I'm
going to dance."
"But but but my dear Miss, I promised not
to lose sight of you," stammered the defrauded Frank-
lin, turning red with helpless rage, as the full audacity
of the lovers burst upon him.
" Well, you needn't. Wait /or me here till my dance
is over, then Aunt won't know any thing about it,"
laughed wilful Dolly over her shoulder, as she was swept
away into the many-colored whirlpool that circled
round the hall to the entrancing music of a waltz.
While it lasted, words were needless ; for eyes did the
talking, smiles proud or tender telegraphed volumes of
poetry, the big hand held the little one so close that
*'t burst quite out of the old glove rosy with the press-
are, and the tall head was often so near the short one
that the light locks powdered the dark ones.
" A heavenly waltz ! " panted Dolly, when it ended,
feeling that she could go on for ever, blind to the droll
despair of poor Parker, as, heroically faithful to his
trust, he struggled frantically to keep the happy pair
*' Now we'll have a still more heavenly promenade
in the corridor. Ben is busy apologizing to half a dozen
ladies whose trains he has walked up in his mad career
after us, so we are safe for a time," answered John,
ready to brave the wrath of many Aunt Marias ; for
the revolutionary spirit was high within him, and he
had quite made up his mind that resistance to tyrants
was obedience to the little god he served just then.
" Oh, John, how glad I am to see you after all this
Worry, and how nice it was of you to come in such
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE.
grand style to-night ! I was so afraid you couldn't
manage it," said Dolly, hanging on his arm and survey-
ing her gallant Governor with pardonable pride.
"My blessed girl, there was nothing I couldn't man-
age with the prospect of meeting you before me.
Hasn't it been hard times for both of us ? You've had
the hardest, I'm afraid, shut up with the dragon and
no refuge from daily nagging and Parker's persecution.
If you hadn't the bravest little heart in the world, you'd
have given up by this;" and, taking advantage of a
shadowy corner, John embraced his idol, under pretence
of drawing her cloak about her.
" I'll never give up the ship ! " cried the girl, quoting
Lawrence of the " Chesapeake," with a flash of the eye
good to see.
" Stand to your guns, and we'll yet say, ' We've met
the enemy, and they are ours,' " answered John, in the
words of brave Perry, and with a ring to his voice
which caused a passing waiter to pause, fancying he
Beckoning to him, John gave Dolly a glass of lemon-
ade, and, taking one himself, said with a look that
made the toast a very eloquent one to both of them,
"The love of liberty and the liberty of love."
They drank it silently, then paced on again, so intent
upon their own emotions that neither saw a flushed and
agitated countenance regard them from a doorway, and
then vanish, smiling darkly.
" Governor ! "
" Things have come to a crisis, and I've taken a reso-
lution," began Dolly, remembering that time was short.
So have I."
" This is mine, I'm going to Philadelphia.*
No ! "
"How? when? why?"
" Be calm and listen. Aunt has given me just three
days to choose between accepting P. and being sent
home in disgrace. I don't intend to do either, but
take matters into my own hands, and cease to be a
" Hear ! hear ! but how ? "
" At the fair the kitchen was a success, and there is
to be a grand one at the Exposition. Girls are wanted
to wait there as here ; they are taken care of, and all
expenses paid while they serve. I know some nice
people who are going for fun, and I'm, to join them for
a month at least. That gives me a start, and after-
ward I certainly can find something to do in the city
of Brotherly Love."
" The knowledge that I'm to be there on duty hai
nothing to do with this fine plan of yours, hey, my
Dolly ? " and John beamed at her with such a raptur-
ous expression she had to turn him round, lest ail
advancing couple should fancy he had been imbibing
^something stronger than lemonade and love.
" Why, of course it had," she answered with ador-
able candor. " Don't you see how lovely it will be to
meet every day and talk over our prospects in peace,
while we are working away together till we have
earned enough to try the experiment we planned in
the park ? "
Stopping short, John grasped the hand that lay on
DECLAEATION OF INDEPENDENCE. 297
his arm, looking as if suddenly inspired, and exclaimed
in a solemn yet excited tone,
" I've got a plan, a superb plan, only it may startle
you a bit at first. Why not marry and go together ? "
Before Dolly could find breath to answer this mo-
mentous question, a bomb-shell, in the shape of Aunt
Maria, exploded before them, and put an end to the
privy conspiracy and rebellion.
"You will not go anywhere together, for my niece
is in the care of this gentleman. I did think we should
be free from annoyance here, but I see I was mistaken.
Mr. Parker, will you oblige me by taking Dolly home
Every feather in the old lady's gray wig trembled
with ire, as she plucked the girl from one lover and
gave her to the charge of the other, in whom the con-
flicting emotions of triumph and trepidation were so
visible that the contrast between his countenance and
costume was more comical than ever.
"But, Aunt, it isn't time to go yet," protested Dolly,
finding submission very hard after her taste of freedom.
" It is quite time for persons who don't know how to
behave with propriety in public. Not a word ! Take
my wrap, and go at once. Mr. Parker, please leave
her in Mrs. Cobb's care, and return to enjoy yourself.
There is no reason why your evening should be
spoilt ; " and Aunt Maria bundled poor Dolly into an
ugly shawl, which made her look like a lovely tea-rose
done up in brown paper.
This sudden fall from the height of happiness to the
depths of helpless indignation left John speechless for
an instant, during which he with difficulty resisted a
strong desire to shake Aunt Maria, and spit Benjamin
Franklin on the sword that hung at his side. The
sight of his Dolly reft from him, and ruthlessly led
away from the gayety she loved, reminded him that
discretion was the better part of valor, and for her
sake ho tried to soften the dragon by taking all the
blame upon himself, and promising to go away at once.
But, while he was expostulating, the wary Parker
carried off the prize ; and, when John turned to say
good-night, she had vanished, and Aunt Maria stalked
away, with a grim laugh at his defeat.
That laugh made him desperate ; and, rushing down-
stairs, he was about to walk away in the rain, regard-
less of the damage to his costly suit, when the sound
of a voice checked his reckless flight, and, looking back,
he saw Dolly pausing on the stairs to say, with a
glance from the ancestral shoes to the wet pavement
outside, " I don't mind wetting my feet, but I cannot
spoil these precious slippers. Please get my overshoes
from the dressing-room : I'll wait for you here."
" Certainly, certainly ; and my coat also : we must
be prudent after such heat and excitement," replied
Mr. Parker, glad to guard himself against the rheuma-
tism twinges which already began to afflict his lightly
As he hurried back, a voice whispered, " Dolly ! n
and, regardless of the perilously high heels, she ran
down to join a black velvet gentleman below, who
said in her ear, as he led her toward the door,
" I must have a word more. Let me take you home ;
any carriage will do, and it's our last chance."
" Yes, John, yes ; but oh, m} shoes ! " and for one
DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE. 209
instant Dolly lingered, as reverence for her relics con-
tended with love for her Governor.
But he was equal to the occasion, and, having no
cloak to lay under his queen's feet, just took her in his
arms, and before she knew it both were in the coach,
an order given, and they were off.
" Oh, John, how could you ? " was all she said, cast-
ing away the big shawl, to put both hands on the
powdery shoulders before her; for her escort was on
his knees, quite in the style of the days when Sir
Charles Willoughby carried Evelina off in his chariot.
How he did it John never knew; but there he
was, as unconscious of his long linibs as if he had been
a cherub, so intent was he on improving this precious
" I'd like to do a great deal more than that, but not
to-night, though I'm sorely tempted to run away with
you, Dolly," he answered, feeling as if it would be
impossible to relinquish the little bundle of silk and
swan's down his arm enclosed.
" Oh, John, please don't ! How could I in this dress,
and no place to go to, or any thing? "
" Don't be frightened, dear : I won't be rash. But,
seriously, it must come to that, and the sooner the
better ; so make up your mind to it, and I'll manage all
the rest. This is my plan, and yours will make it all
the easier. We will go to Philadelphia; but we'll be
married first, and that shall be our wedding journey."
" But I'm not ready ; we haven't any money ; and
only three days ! I couldn't, John, I couldn't ! " and
Dolly hid her face, glad, yet half-frightened, at thin
prospect of such a release from all her woes.
"I knew it would startle you at first; but getting
married is the easiest thing in life when you set about
it. You don't want any wedding finery, I've got
money enough, and can borrow more if I need it ; and
three days is plenty of time to pack your trunk, have
a farewell fight with Aunt Maria, and run away to be
the happiest little wife that ever was. Say yes, dar-
ling ; trust every thing to me, and, please God, you
never shall regret it."
Dolly had doubted the existence of genuine love
nowadays, and John had assured her that there were
oceans of it. There certainly seemed to be that night ;
and it was impossible to doubt the truth of his asser-
tion while listening to the tender prayers and plans
and protestations he poured into her ear, as they rolled
on, regardless of the avenging furies behind, and the
untried fate before them. Storms raged without, but
peace reigned within ; for Dolly showed signs of yield-
ing, though she had not consented when the run-away
As John set her down in the hall, he added as a last
" Remember, there were * Daughters of Liberty,' as
well as sons, in the old times you love so well. Be
one, and prove yourself worthy of your name, as you
bid me be of mine. Come, sweetheart, resist tyranny,
face poverty, love liberty, and declare your independ-
ence as bravely as they did."
"I will!" and Dolly signed the declaration her
Hancock headed, by giving him her hand and sealing
the oath with a kiss.
" One word more," he said hurriedly, as the clatter
PEACE IS DECLARED. 301
of an approaching carriage sounded through the street:
" I may not be able to see you again, but we can each
be getting ready, and meet on Monday morning, when
you leave for ' home' 1 in good truth. Put a lamp hi
the end window the last thing Sunday night as the
bells ring nine, then I shall be sure that all is right
fciid have no delay in the morning."
" Good-night, and God bless you ! "
There was no time for more ; and as distracted
Parker burst oat of one carriage, and Aunt Maria
"came tumbling after," happy Jolm Harris stepped
into the other, with a wave of the cocked hat, and
drove away in triumph.
PEACE IS DECLARED.
THE age of miracles is not over yet, and our young
people wrought several during those three days ; for in
love's vocabulary there is no such word as fail.
Dolly "stood to her guns" womanfully, and not
only chose to go " home," but prepared for her banish"
xnent with an outward meekness and an inward joy
which made each hour memorable. Aunt Maria had
her suspicions and kept a vigilant watch, she and her
maid Cobb mounting guard by turns. Parker, finding
that "no surrender" was the countersign, raised the
siege and retreated in good order, though a trifle de-
moralized in dignity when he looked back during tne
evacuation and saw Tip bolt upright in the end window,
with the rebel flag proudly displayed.
John meanwhile was circulating briskly through
the city, and showing such ardent interest in the ap-
proaching Exposition that his mates christened him
a Centennial Harris;" while the higher powers felt
that they had done a good thing in giving him the job,
and increased his salary to make sure of so excellent a
servant. Other arrangements of a private but infinitely
more interesting nature were successfully made ; and he
went about smiling to himself, as if the little parce?
done up in silver paper, which he was constantly feeling
for in his vest pocket, had been a talisman conferring
all good gifts upon its happy owner.
When the third night came, he was at his post long
before the time, so great was his impatience ; for the
four-footed traitor had been discovered and ordered
into close confinement, where he suffered, not the fate
of Andre, but the pangs of indigestion for lack of ex-
ercise after the feast of tidbits surreptitiously adminis-
tered by one who never forgot all she owed to her " fat
It seemed as if nine o'clock would never come;
and, if a policeman ever was where he should be, the
guardian of that beat would have considered John a
suspicious character as he paced to and fro in the April
starlight. At last the bells began to chime, promptly
the light appeared, and, remembering how the bell of
the old State House rang out the glad tidings a hundred
years ago, John waved his cherished parcel, joyfully
exclaiming, "Independence is declared! ring! ring!
PEACE IS DECLARED. 303
ring ! " then raced across tbe park like another Paul
Revere when the signal light shone in the steeple of
the old North Church.
Next morning at an early hour a carriage drove to
Aunt Maria's door, and with a stern farewell from her
nightcapped relative Dolly was sent forth to banish-
ment, still guarded by the faithful Cobb. The mutinous
damsel looked pale and anxious, but departed with a
friendly adieu and waved her handkerchief to Tip, dis-
consolate upon the door-mat. The instant they turned
the corner, however, a singular transformation took place
in both the occupants of that carriage ; for Dolly caught
Cobb round the neck and kissed her, while smiles broke
loose on either face, as she said gleefully,
" You dear old thing, what should I have done with-
out you ? Am I all right ? I do hope it's becoming.
I had to give up every thing else, so I was resolved not
to be married without a new bonnet."
"It's as sweet as sweet can be, and not a bit the
worse for being smuggled home in a market-basket,"
returned the perjured Cobb, surveying with feminine
pride and satisfaction the delicate little bonnet which
emerged from the thick veil by which its glories had
been prudently obscured.
" Here's a glass to see it in. Such a nice carriage,
with white horses, and a tidy driver; so appropriate
you know. It's a happy accident, and I'm so pleased,"
prattled the girl, looking about her with the delight
of an escaped prisoner.
"Bless your heart, Miss, it's all Mr. Harris's doings:
he's been dodging round the corner ever since daylight :
/ !^ f
and there he is now, I do declare. I may as well go
for a walk till your train is off, so good-by, and the
best of lucks, my dear."
There was barely time for this brief but very hearty
congratulation, when a remarkably well-dressed high-
way man stopped the carriage, without a sign of resist-
ance from the grinning driver. Cobb got out, the
ruffian, armed not with a pistol, but a great bouquet oi
white roses, got in, and the coach went on its way
through the quiet streets.
"May day, and here are your flowers, my little
A short answer, but a very eloquent one, when ac-
companied with full eyes, trembling lips, and a face aa
sweet and lovely as the roses.
It was quite satisfactory to John ; and, having slightly
damaged the bridal bonnet without reproof, he, man-
like, mingled bliss and business, by saying, in a tone
that made poetry of his somewhat confused remarks,
" Heaven bless my wife! We ought to have had the
Governor's coach to-day. Isn't Cobb a trump to get
us off so nicely ? Never saw a woman yet who could
resist the chance of her helping on a wedding. Remem-
bered every thing I told her. That reminds me.
Wasn't it lucky that your relics were boxed up in
dear Aunt Maria's shed, so all Cobb had to do was to
alter the directions and send them off to Philadelphia
instead of home ? "
" I've been in a tremble for three days, because it
seemed as if it couldn't be possible that so much hap-
piness was coming to me. Are you quite sure you
want me, John ? " asked Dolly, careless for once of her
PEACE IS DECLARED. 305
rherished treasures; for she had been busy with hopea
ind fears, while lie was attending to more material
" So sure, that I've got something here to bind you
with. Do you mind trying it on to see if it fits, for
I had to guess at the size," answered John, produc
ing his talisman with all a bridegroom's pride and
" Please let me wear that as a guard, and use this
one to be married with. I've a superstition about it,
for it suits us and the year better than any other ; " and
Dolly laid the little ring of reddish gold beside the
heavier one in John's palm.
" So it does, and you shall have it as you like. Do
you know, when you showed it to me three months
ago, I had a fancy that it would be the proper thing
for me to put it on your finger ; but I didn't dream I
ever should. Are you very certain that you don't
regret the advice you gave my friend Jack?" asked
the young man, thinking with fond solicitude of the
great experiment that lay before them ; for he knew by
experience how hard this world's ways sometimes are,
and longed to smooth the rough places for the confiding
little creature at his side.
"Do I look as if I did? " she answered simply, but
with a face so full of a true woman's instinctive faith
in the power of love to lighten labor, sweeten poverty,
and make a heaven of the plainest home, that it was
impossible to doubt her courage or fear her disloyalty.
Quite satisfied, John pocketed the rings and buttoned
Dolly's gloves, saying, while she buttoned his, both
marvellously enjoying this first service for each other
" Almost there now, and in less than half an hour we
shall be so safe that all the Aunt Marias in Christendom
can't part us any more. George has stood by me like
a man and a brother, and promised that every thing
should be all right. Tb church will look a trifle
empty, I dare say, with only five of us to till it ; but I
shall like it better than being made a spectacle of; so
will you, I fancy."
" The church ? I thought runaways were married in
an office, by a justice, and without much ceremony to
make it solemn. I'm very glad it isn't so, for I shall
never have but one wedding, and I'd love to have it in
a sacred place," faltered Dolly, as a sudden sense of all
it meant came over her, filling her girlish heart with
" I knew that, dear, and so I did my best to make
you feel no lack of love, as I could not give you any
splendor. I wish I had a mother to be with you to-day ;
but George has lent me his, so there will be a woman's
arms to cry in, if you want to drop a tear ; and fatherly
old Dr. King will give you to the happiest man alive.
Well, well, my Dolly, if you'd rather, cry here, and then
let me dry your tears, as, please Heaven, I will do all
" So kind, John, so very kind ! I can't thank you in
words, but I'll show by deeds how much I honor, trust,
and love my husband;" and nobly Dolly kept her
No one saw them as they went in, but the early
sunshine made a golden path for them to tread, and
the May wind touched them with its balmy kiss, No
congratulatory clamor greeted them as they came out ;
PEACE IS DECLARED. 307
but the friendly sparrows twittered a wedding march,
and the jovial George sent them merrily away, by say-
ing, as he gave John's hand a parting grasp,
" I was right, you see, and there is a Mrs. Harris ? "
If any one doubts it, let him look well about him,
and he may discover the best thing America could
send to her Exposition : an old-fashioned home, and in
it an ambitious man who could not be bought, a beauti-
ful woman who would not be sold ; a young couple
happy in their love and labor, consecrating this cen-
tennial year, by practising the old-fashioned virtues,
honesty and thrift, independence and content.
University Press ; John Wilson & Son, Cambridge.
THE LITTLE WOMEN SERIES
BY LOUISA M. ALCOTT
Miss Alcott is really a benefactor of households. H. H.
UNDER THE LILACS.
AN OLD-FASHIONED GIRL.
ROSE IN BLOOM.
JACK AND JILL.
l6mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Each, $1.50. Eight volumes,
uniform, in box, $12.00.
WORKS BY LOUISA M. ALCOTT
Uniform with " The Little Women Series "
LIFE, LETTERS, AND JOURNALS OF LOUISA M. ALCOTT.
By EDNAH D. CHENEY. With Portraits. i6mo. Cloth. $1.50.
COMIC TRAGEDIES. Written by "Jo" and "Meg." Illustrated,
. Cloth. 1.50.
MISS ALCOTT'S NOVELS
WORK, A STORY OF EXPERIENCE.
MOODS, A NOVEL.
A MODERN MEPHISTOPHELES.
HOSPITAL SKETCHES AND CAMP AND FIRESIDE STORIES.
\6rno. Cloth. $1.50. Four volumes, uniform, in boy, $6.00
THE SPINNING-WHEEL SERIES
BY LOUISA M. ALCOTT
A GARLAND FOR GIRLS.
i6mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Each, $1.2$. Four volumes,
uniform, in box, $5.00
Miss Alcott has a faculty of entering into the lives and feelings of
children, and to this cause, to the consciousness among her readers that
they are hearing about people like themselves, instead of abstract qualities
labelled with names, the popularity of her books is due. SARAH J.
Miss Alcott is always welcome, not only to the boys and girls she
has taken under her special patronage, but also to their elders. . . . Miss
Alcott's stories are thoroughly healthy, full of racy fun and humor, even
when she is teaching some extra hard task which must be learned and
accomplished. London AthencEitm.
SPINNING-WHEEL STORIES. Grandma's Story ; Tabby's Table-
mount ;' The Cooking Class ; The Hare and the Tortoise.
A GARLAND FOR GIRLS. May Flowers; An Ivy Spray aud Ladies'
Slippers; Pansies; Watcr-Lilies ; Poppies and Wheat ; Little Button-
Rose; Mountain-Laurel and Maidenhair.
SILVER PITCHERS. This volume contains, in addition to the title
story, Transccn.lrnhil Wild Oats; The Romance of a Summer Day;
My "Rococo Watch ; By the River, a Legend of the Assabet ; Letty's
Tramp ; Scarlet Stockings ; Independence.
PROVERB STORIES. Kitty's Class Day, Aunt Kipp; Psyche's Art;
A Country Christmas: On Picket Duty; My Red Cap; What the
Bells Saw and Said ; The Baron's Gloves.
AUNT JO'S SCRAP-BAG
BY LOUISA M. ALCOTT
SIR JOSEPH PORTER, K.C.B.
MY BOYS. Tessa's Surprfses ; Buzz ; The Children's Joke ; Dande-
lion ; Madam Cluck and Her Family ; A Curious Call ; Tilly's Christ,
mas ; My Little Gentleman ; etc.
SHAWL-STRAPS. A voyage to Brittany, France, Switzerland, Italy,
CUPID AND CHOW-CHOW. Huckleberry; Nelly's Hospital;
Grandma's Team; Fairy Pinafores ; Mamma's Plot ; Kate's Choice ;
The Moss People ; What Fanny Heard ; and A Marine Merry-Making.
MY GIRLS. Lost in a London Fog; The Boy's Joke, and who got the
best of it; Roses and Forget-me-nots; Old Major; What the Girls
Did; Little Neighbors; Marjorie's Three Gifts; etc.
JIMMY'S CRUISE IN THE PINAFORE. Two Little Travellers ;
A Jolly Fourth ; Seven Black Cats ; Rosa's Tale; Lunch; A Bright
Idea; How They Camped Out; My Little School Girl; etc.
AN OLD-FASHIONED THANKSGIVING. How it All Happened;
The Doll's Tourney from Minnesota to Maine; Morning Glories;
Shadow Children ; Poppy's Pranks ; What the Swallows Did ; etc.
l6mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Fach,$\.OQ. Six volumes,
uniform, in bo", f).oo
BY LOUISA M. ALCOTT
VOL. I. A CHRISTMAS DREAM; The Candy Country; Naughty
Jocko ; The Skipping Shoes ; Cockyloo ; Rosy's Journey ; Hovtf
They Ran Away ; The Fairy Box ; A Hole in the Wall ; The Piggy
Girl ; The Three Frogs ; and Baa ! Baa !
VOL. II. THE FROST KING AND HOW THE FAIRIES CON-
QUERED HIM; Lilybell and Thistledown, or the Fairy Sleeping
Beauty; Ripple the Water Sprite; Eva's Visit to Fairyland; Sun-
shine and Her Brothers and Sisters; The Fairy Spring; Queen
Aster; The Brownie and the Princess; Mermaids; Little Bud;
The Flower's Story.
VOL. III. RECOLLECTIONS OF MY CHILDHOOD; A Christ-
mas Turkey and How it Came; The Silver Party ; The Blind Lark ;
Music and Macaroni; The Little Red Purse; Sophie's Secret}
Dolly's Bedstead ; and Trudel's Siege.
Three volumes. i6mo. Cloth. Illustrated. Each,$i.oo
The three volumes, uniform, in box, $3-0
MISS ALCOTT'S LITTLE WOMEN
AN ILLUSTRATED EDITION OF THIS FAMOUS BOOK
With nearly two htmdred characteristic designs
Drawn and engraved expressly for this work
then, my little book, and show to all
That entertain and bid thee welcome shall,
What thou dost keep close shut up in thy breast;
And wish what thou dost show them may be blest
To them for good, may make them choose to be
Pilgrims better, by far, than thee or me."
One volume. Small 4/0. Cloth, with emblematic
cover design. $2.50
Mrs. Ewing's Stories
IN TEN VOLUMES
JAN OF THE WINDMILL
A Story of the Plains. With illustrations by Mrs. Allingham. l6mo.
Cloth. 50 cents.
SIX TO SIXTEEN
A Story for Girls. With 10 illustrations by Helen Patterson. i6mo.
Cloth. 50 cents.
A GREAT EMERGENCY, and Other Tales
With illustration. i6mo. Cloth. 50 cents.
WE AND THE WORLD
A Story for Boys. With 10 illustrations. i6mo. Cloth. 50 cents.
MRS. OVERTHEWAY'S REMEMBRANCES
Ten illustrations. i6mo. Cloth. 50 cents. A Series of Short Stories
which are supposed to be told by a nice old lady to a little girl invalid.
JACKANAPES, and Other Tales
Comprising "Jackanapes," " Daddy Darwin's Dovecot," and " The Story
of a Short Life." With a sketch of Mrs. Ewing's Life, by her sister,
Horatia K. F. Gatty. With portrait and illustrations. l6mo. Cloth.
MELCHIOR'S DREAM, BROTHERS OF PITY, and Other
With illustrations. i6mo. Cloth. 50 cents.
LOB LIE-BY-THE-FIRE, THE BROWNIES, and Other
With illustrations by George Cruikshank. i6mo. Cloth. 50 cents.
A FLATIRON FOR A FARTHING
With illustrations. i6mo. Cloth. 50 cents.
A Final Collection of Stories. With illustrations by H. D. Murphy.
i6mo. 50 cents.
LITTLE, BROWN, <y COMPANY
Publishers, 2 54 WASHINGTON STREET, BOSTON, MASS.
BY TWO OF THE "LITTLE WOMEN."
Written by " Jo " and " Meg," and acted by the " Little
Women." With a Foreword by "Meg," Portraits c'
"Jo" and "Meg," and a view of the house in whica
they lived. i6mo. Cloth. Uniform with Miss Alcott s
books. Price, $1.50.
In the good old times, when "Little Women" worked and played
together, the big garret was the scene of many dramatic revels. Aftei a
long day of teaching, sewing, and " helping mother," the greatest delight
of the girls was to transform themselves into queens, knights, and cavaliers
of high degree, and ascend into a world of fancy and romance. Cinderella's
godmother waved her wand, and the dismal room became a fairyland.
Flowers bloomed, forests arose, music sounded, and lovers exchanged their
vows by moonlight. Nothing was too ambitious to attempt, armor,
gondolas, harps, towers, and palaces grew as if by magic, and wonderful
scenes of valor and devotion were enacted before admiring audiences.
Jo, of course, played the villains, ghosts, bandits, and disdainful
queens ; for her tragedy-loving soul delighted in the lurid parts, and no
drama was perfect in her eyes without a touch of the demonic or super-
natural. Meg loved the sentimental roles, the tender maiden with the ^iry
robes and flowing locks, who made impossible sacrifices for ideal love^, or
the cavalier, singing soft serenades and performing lofty acts of gallantry
and prowess. Amy was the fairy sprite, while Beth enacted the page or
messenger when the scene required their aid.
From the little stage library, still extant, the following plays have
been selected as fair examples of the work of these children of sixteen and
seventeen. With some slight changes and omissions, they remain as
written more than forty years ago by Meg and Jo, so dear to the hearts of
many other " Little Women."
For sale by all booksellers, and mailed, post-paid, on
receipt of price by the piiblishers,
LITTLE, BROWN, AND COMPANY,