Infomotions, Inc.Winter Evening Tales / Barr, Amelia Edith Huddleston, 1831-1919



Author: Barr, Amelia Edith Huddleston, 1831-1919
Title: Winter Evening Tales
Publisher: Project Gutenberg
Tag(s): davie; kitty; david; margaret; jean; sandy
Contributor(s): Mitchell, John K. [Editor]
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Size: 70,897 words (short) Grade range: 8-11 (high school) Readability score: 65 (easy)
Identifier: etext16222
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Title: Winter Evening Tales
       "Cash," a Problem of Profit and Loss; Franz Müller's Wife; The Voice at Midnight; Six and Half-a-Dozen; The Story of David Morrison; Tom Duffan's Daughter; The Harvest of the Wind; The Seven Wise Men of Preston; Margaret Sinclair's Silent Money; Just What He Deserved; An Only Offer; Two Fair Deceivers; The Two Mr. Smiths; The Story of Mary Neil; The Heiress of Kurston Chace; Only This Once; Petralto's Love Story


Author: Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr



Release Date: July 6, 2005  [eBook #16222]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-646-US (US-ASCII)


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WINTER EVENING TALES

by

AMELIA E. BARR

Author of "A Bow of Orange Ribbon," "Jan Vedder's Wife,"
"Friend Olivia," etc., etc.

Published by
The Christian Herald
Louis Klopsch, Proprietor,
Bible House, New York.

1896







[Illustration]



PREFACE.


In these "Winter Evening Tales," Mrs. Barr has spread before her readers
a feast that will afford the rarest enjoyment for many a leisure hour.
There are few writers of the present day whose genius has such a
luminous quality, and the spell of whose fancy carries us along so
delightfully on its magic current. In these "Tales"--each a perfect gem
of romance, in an artistic setting--the author has touched many phases
of human nature. Some of the stories in the collection sparkle with the
spirit of mirth; others give glimpses of the sadder side of life.
Throughout all, there are found that broad sympathy and intense humanity
that characterize every page that comes from her pen. Her men and women
are creatures of real flesh and blood, not deftly-handled puppets; they
move, act and speak spontaneously, with the full vigor of life and the
strong purpose of persons who are participating in a real drama, and not
a make-believe.

Mrs. Barr has the rare gift of writing from heart to heart. She
unconsciously infuses into her readers a liberal share of the enthusiasm
that moves the people of her creative imagination. One cannot read any
of her books without feeling more than a spectator's interest; we are,
for the moment, actual sharers in the joys and the sorrows, the
misfortunes and the triumphs of the men and women to whom she introduces
us. Our sympathy, our love, our admiration, are kindled by their noble
and attractive qualities; our mirth is excited by the absurd and
incongruous aspects of some characters, and our hearts are thrilled by
the frequent revelation of such goodness and true human feeling as can
only come from pure and noble souls.

In these "Tales," as in many of her other works, humble life has held a
strong attraction for Mrs. Barr's pen. Her mind and heart naturally turn
in this direction; and although her wonderful talent, within its wide
range, deals with all stations and conditions of life, she has but
little relish for the gilded artificialities of society, and a strong
love for those whose condition makes life for them something real and
earnest and definite of purpose. For this reason, among many others, the
Christian people of America have a hearty admiration for Mrs. Barr and
her work, knowing it to be not only of surpassing human interest, but
spiritually helpful and inspiring, with an influence that makes for
morality and good living, in the highest sense in which a Christian
understands the term.

G.H. SANDISON.

_New York, 1896._




CONTENTS.

"Cash;" a Problem of Profit and Loss
Franz Mueller's Wife
The Voice at Midnight
Six and Half-a-Dozen
The Story of David Morrison
Tom Duffan's Daughter
The Harvest of the Wind
The Seven Wise Men of Preston
Margaret Sinclair's Silent Money
Just What He Deserved
An Only Offer
Two Fair Deceivers
The Two Mr. Smiths
The Story of Mary Neil
The Heiress of Kurston Chace
Only This Once
Petralto's Love Story




Winter Evening Tales.




CASH.

A PROBLEM OF PROFIT AND LOSS, WORKED BY DAVID LOCKERBY.


PART I.

     "Gold may be dear bought."

A narrow street with dreadful "wynds" and "vennels" running back from it
was the High street of Glasgow at the time my story opens. And yet,
though dirty, noisy and overcrowded with sin and suffering, a flavor of
old time royalty and romance lingered amid its vulgar surroundings; and
midway of its squalid length a quaint brown frontage kept behind it
noble halls of learning, and pleasant old courts full of the "air of
still delightful studies."

From this building came out two young men in academic costume. One of
them set his face dourly against the clammy fog and drizzling rain,
breathing it boldly, as if it was the balmiest oxygen; the other,
shuddering, drew his scarlet toga around him and said, mournfully,
"Ech, Davie, the High street is an ill furlong on the de'il's road! I
never tread it, but I think o' the weary, weary miles atween it and
Eden."

"There is no road without its bad league, Willie, and the High street
has its compensations; its prison for ill-doers, its learned college,
and its holy High Kirk. I am one of St. Mungo's bairns, and I'm not
above preaching for my saint."

"And St. Mungo will be proud of your birthday yet, Davie. With such a
head and such a tongue, with knowledge behind, and wit to the fore,
there is a broad road and an open door for David Lockerby. You may come
even to be the Lord Rector o' Glasgow College yet."

"Wisdom is praised and starves; I am thinking it would set me better to
be Lord Provost of Glasgow city."

"The man who buried his one talent did not go scatheless, Davie; and
what now if he had had ten?"

"You are aye preaching, Willie, and whiles it is very untimeous. Are you
going to Mary Moir's to-night?"

"Why should I? The only victory over love is through running away."

David looked sharply at his companion but as they were at the Trongate
there was no time for further remark. Willie Caird turned eastward
toward Glasgow Green, David hailed a passing omnibus and was soon set
down before a handsome house on the Sauchiehall Road. He went in by the
back door, winning from old Janet, in spite of herself, the grimmest
shadow of a smile.

"Are my father and mother at home, Janet?"

"Deed are they, the mair by token that they hae been quarreling anent
you till the peacefu' folks like mysel' could hae wished them mair
sense, or further away."

"Why should they quarrel about me?"

"Why, indeed, since they'll no win past your ain makin' or marring? But
the mistress is some kin to Zebedee's wife, I'm thinking, and she wad
fain set you up in a pu'pit and gie you the keys o' St. Peter; while
maister is for haeing you it a bank or twa in your pouch, and add
Ellenmount to Lockerby, and--"

"And if I could, Janet?"

"Tut, tut, lad! If it werna for 'if' you might put auld Scotland in a
bottle."

"But what was the upshot, Janet?"

"I canna tell. God alone understan's quarreling folk."

Then David went upstairs to his own room, and when he came down again
his face was set as dourly against the coming interview as it had been
against the mist and rain. The point at issue was quite familiar to
him; his mother wished him to continue his studies and prepare for the
ministry. In her opinion the greatest of all men were the servants of
the King, and a part of the spiritual power and social influence which
they enjoyed in St. Mungo's ancient city she earnestly coveted for her
son. "Didn't the Bailies and the Lord Provost wait for them? And were
not even the landed gentry and nobles obligated to walk behind a
minister in his gown and bands?"

Old Andrew Lockerby thought the honor good enough, but money was better.
All the twenty years that his wife had been dreaming of David ruling his
flock from the very throne of a pulpit, Andrew had been dreaming of him
becoming a great merchant or banker, and winning back the fair lands of
Ellenmount, once the patrimonial estate of the house of Lockerby. During
these twenty years both husband and wife had clung tenaciously to their
several intentions.

Now David's teachers--without any knowledge of these diverse
influences--had urged on him the duty of cultivating the unusual talents
confided to him, and of consecrating them to some noble service of God
and humanity. But David was ruled by many opposite feelings, and had
with all his book-learning the very smallest intimate acquaintance with
himself. He knew neither his strong points nor his weak ones, and had
not even a suspicion of the mighty potency of that mysterious love for
gold which really was the ruling passion in his breast.

The argument so long pending he knew was now to be finally settled, and
he was by no means unprepared for the discussion. He came slowly down
stairs, counting the points he wished to make on his fingers, and quite
resolved neither to be coaxed nor bullied out of his own individual
opinion. He was a handsome, stalwart fellow, as Scotchmen of
two-and-twenty go, for it takes about thirty-five years to fill up and
perfect the massive frames of "the men of old Gaul." About his
thirty-fifth year David would doubtless be a man of noble presence; but
even now there was a sense of youth and power about him that was very
attractive, as with a grave smile he lifted a book, and comfortably
disposed himself in an easy chair by the window. For David knew better
than begin the conversation; any advantages the defendant might have he
determined to retain.

After a few minutes' silence his father said, "What are you reading,
Davie? It ought to be a guid book that puts guid company in the
background."

David leisurely turned to the title page. "'Selections from the Latin
Poets,' father."

"A fool is never a great fool until he kens Latin. Adam Smith or some
book o' commercial economics wad set ye better, Davie."

"Adam Smith is good company for them that are going his way, father: but
there is no way a man may take and not find the humanities good
road-fellows."

"Dinna beat around the bush, guidman; tell Davie at once that you want
him to go 'prentice to Mammon. He kens well enough whether he can serve
him or no."

"I want Davie to go 'prentice to your ain brither, guid wife--it's nane
o' my doing if you ca' your ain kin ill names--and, Davie, your uncle
maks you a fair offer, an' you'll just be a born fool to refuse it."

"What is it, father?"

"Twa years you are to serve him for L200 a year; and at the end, if both
are satisfied, he will gie you sich a share in the business as I can buy
you--and, Davie, I'se no be scrimping for such an end. It's the auldest
bank in Soho, an' there's nane atween you and the head o' it. Dinna
fling awa' good fortune--dinna do it, Davie, my dear lad. I hae look it
to you for twenty years to finish what I hae begun--for twenty years I
hae been telling mysel' 'my Davie will win again the bonnie braes o'
Ellenmount.'"

There were tears in old Andrew's eyes, and David's heart thrilled and
warmed to the old man's words; in that one flash of sympathy they came
nearer to each other than they had ever done before.

And then spoke his mother: "Davie, my son, you'll no listen to ony sich
temptation. My brither is my brither, and there are few folk o' the
Gordon line a'thegither wrang, but Alexander Gordon is a dour man, and I
trow weel you'll serve hard for ony share in his money bags. You'll just
gang your ways back to college and tak' up your Greek and Hebrew and
serve in the Lord's temple instead of Alexander Gordon's Soho Bank; and,
Davie, if you'll do right in this matter you'll win my blessing and
every plack and bawbee o' my money." Then, seeing no change in David's
face, she made her last, great concession--"And, Davie, you may marry
Mary Moir, an' it please you, and I'll like the lassie as weel as may
be."

"Your mither, like a' women, has sought you wi' a bribe in her hand,
Davie. You ken whether she has bid your price or not. When you hae
served your twa years I'se buy you a L20,000 share in the Gordon Bank,
and a man wi' L20,000 can pick and choose the wife he likes best. But
I'm aboon bribing you--a fair offer isna a bribe."

The concession as to Mary Moir was the one which Davie had resolved to
make his turning point, and now both father and mother had virtually
granted it. He had told himself that no lot in life would be worth
having without Mary, and that with her any lot would be happy. Now that
he had been left free in this matter he knew his own mind as little as
ever.

"The first step binds to the next," he answered, thoughtfully. "Mary may
have something to say. Night brings counsel. I will e'en think over
things until the morn."

A little later he was talking both offers over with Mary Moir, and
though it took four hours to discuss them they did not find the subject
tedious. It was very late when he returned home, but he knew by the
light in the house-place that Janet was waiting up for him. Coming out
of the wet, dark night, it was pleasant to see the blazing ingle, the
white-sanded floor, and the little round table holding some cold
moor-cock and the pastry that he particularly liked.

"Love is but cauldrife cheer, my lad," said Janet, "an' the breast o' a
bird an' a raspberry tartlet will be nane out o' the way." David was of
the same opinion. He was very willing to enjoy Janet's good things and
the pleasant light and warmth. Besides, Janet was his oldest confidant
and friend--a friend that had never failed him in any of his boyish
troubles or youthful scrapes.

It gave her pleasure enough for a while to watch him eat, but when he
pushed aside the bird and stretched out his hand for the raspberry
dainties, she said, "Now talk a bit, my lad. If others hae wared money
on you, I hae wared love, an' I want to ken whether you are going to
college, or whether you are going to Lunnon amang the proud, fause
Englishers?"

"I am going to London, Janet."

"Whatna for?"

"I am not sure that I have any call to be a minister, Janet--it is a
solemn charge."

"Then why not ask for a sure call? There is nae key to God's council
chamber that I ken of."

"Mary wants me to go to London."

"Ech, sirs! Sets Deacon Moir's dochter to send a lad a wrang road. I
wouldna hae thocht wi' her bringing up she could hae swithered for a
moment--but it's the auld, auld story; where the deil canna go by
himsel' he sends a woman. And David Lockerby will tyne his inheritance
for a pair o' blue e'en and a handfu' o' gowden curls. Waly! waly! but
the children o' Esau live for ever."

"Mary said,"--

"I dinna want to hear what Mary said. It would hae been nae loss if
she'd ne'er spoken on the matter; but if you think makin' money, an'
hoarding money is the measure o' your capacity you ken yousel', sir,
dootless. Howsomever you'll go to your ain room now; I'm no going to
keep my auld e'en waking just for a common business body."

Thus in spite of his father's support, David did not find his road to
London as fair and straight as he could have wished. Janet was deeply
offended at him, and she made him feel it in a score of little ways very
annoying to a man fond of creature comforts and human sympathy. His
mother went about the necessary preparations in a tearful mood that was
a constant reproach, and his friend Willie did not scruple to tell him
that "he was clean out o' the way o' duty."

"God has given you a measure o' St. Paul's power o' argument, Davie, and
the verra tongue o' Apollos--weapons wherewith to reason against all
unrighteousness and to win the souls o' men."

"Special pleading, Willie."

"Not at all. Every man's life bears its inscription if he will take the
trouble to read it. There was James Grahame, born, as you may say, wi' a
sword in his hand, and Bauldy Strang wi' a spade, and Andrew Semple took
to the balances and the 'rithmetic as a duck takes to the water. Do you
not mind the day you spoke anent the African missions to the young men
in St. Andrews' Ha'? Your words flew like arrows--every ane o' them to
its mark; and your heart burned and your e'en glowed, till we were a' on
fire with you, and there wasna a lad there that wouldna hae followed you
to the vera Equator. I wouldna dare to bury such a power for good,
Davie, no, not though I buried it fathoms deep in gold."

From such interviews as these Davie went home very miserable. If it had
not been for Mary Moir he would certainly have gone back to his old seat
by Willie Caird in the Theological Hall. But Mary had such splendid
dreams of their life in London, and she looked in her hope and beauty so
bewitching, that he could not bear to hint a disappointment to her.
Besides, he doubted whether she was really fit for a minister's wife,
even if he should take up the cross laid down before him--and as for
giving up Mary, he would not admit to himself that there could be a
possible duty in such a contingency.

But that even his father had doubts and hesitations was proven to David
by the contradictory nature of his advice and charges. Thus on the
morning he left Glasgow, and as they were riding together to the
Caledonian station, the old man said, "Your uncle has given you a seat
in his bank, Davie, and you'll mak' room for yoursel' to lie down, I'se
warrant. But you'll no forget that when a guid man thrives a' should
thrive i' him; and giving for God's sake never lessens the purse."

"I am but one in a world full, father. I hope I shall never forget to
give according to my prosperings."

"Tak the world as it is, my lad, and no' as it ought to be; and never
forget that money is money's brither--an' you put two pennies in a purse
they'll creep thegither.

"But then Davie, I am free to say gold won't buy everything, and though
rich men hae long hands, they won't reach to heaven. So, though you'll
tak guid care o' yoursel', you will also gie to God the things that are
God's."

"I have been brought up in the fear of God and the love of mankind,
father. It would be an ill thing for me to slink out of life and leave
the world no better for my living."

"God bless you, lad; and the L20,000 will be to the fore when it is
called for, and you shall make it L60,000, and I'll see again Ellenmount
in the Lockerby's keeping. But you'll walk in the ways o' your fathers,
and gie without grudging of your increase."

David nodded rather impatiently. He could hardly understand the
struggle going on in his father's heart--the wish to say something that
might quiet his own conscience, and yet not make David's unnecessarily
tender. It is hard serving God and Mammon, and Andrew Lockerby was
miserable and ashamed that morning in the service.

And yet he was not selfish in the matter--that much in his favor must be
admitted. He would rather have had the fine, handsome lad he loved so
dearly going in and out his own house. He could have taken great
interest in all his further studies, and very great pride in seeing him
a successful "placed minister;" but there are few Scotsmen in whom pride
of lineage and the good of the family does not strike deeper than
individual pleasure. Andrew really believed that David's first duty was
to the house of Lockerby.

He had sacrificed a great deal toward this end all his own life, nor
were his sacrifices complete with the resignation of his only child to
the same purpose. To a man of more than sixty years of age it is a great
trial to have an unusual and unhappy atmosphere in his home; and though
Mrs. Lockerby was now tearful and patient under her disappointment,
everyone knows that tears and patience may be a miserable kind of
comfort. Then, though Janet had as yet preserved a dour and angry
silence, he knew that sooner or later she would begin a guerilla warfare
of sharp words, which he feared he would have mainly to bear, for Janet,
though his housekeeper, was also "a far-awa cousin," had been forty
years in his house, and was not accustomed to withhold her opinions on
any subject.

Fortunately for Andrew Lockerby, Janet finally selected Mary Moir as the
Eve specially to blame in this transgression. "A proud up-head lassie,"
she asserted, "that cam o' a family wha would sell their share o' the
sunshine for pounds sterling!"

From such texts as this the two women in the Lockerby house preached
little daily sermons to each other, until comfort grew out of the very
stem of their sorrow, and they began to congratulate each other that
"puir Davie was at ony rate outside the glamour o' Mary Moir's
temptations."

"For she just bewitched the laddie," said Janet, angrily; and,
doubtless, if the old laws regarding witches had been in Janet's
administration it would have gone hardly with pretty Mary Moir.


PART II.

"God's work is soon done."

It is a weary day when the youth first discovers that after all he will
only become a man; and this discovery came with a depressing weight one
morning to David, after he had been counting bank notes for three hours.
It was noon, but the gas was lit, and in the heavy air a dozen men sat
silent as statues, adding up figures and making entries. He thought of
the college courts, and the college green, of the crowded halls, and the
symposia, where both mind and body had equal refection. There had been
days when he had a part in these things, and when to "strive with things
impossible," or "to pluck honor from the pale-faced moon," had not been
unreasonable or rash; but now it almost seemed as if Mr. Buckle's dreary
gospel was a reality, and men were machines, and life was an affair to
be tabulated in averages.

He had just had a letter from Willie Caird, too, and it had irritated
him. The wounds of a friend may be faithful, but they are not always
welcome. David determined to drop the correspondence. Willie was going
one way and he another. They might never see each other again; and--

          If they should meet one day,
          If _both_ should not forget
    They could clasp hands the accustomed way.

For by simply going with the current in which in great measure, subject
yet to early influences, he found himself, David Lockerby had drifted in
one twelve months far enough away from the traditions and feelings of
his home and native land. Not that he had broken loose into any flagrant
sin, or in any manner cast a shadow on the perfect respectability of his
name. The set in which Alexander Gordon and his nephew lived sanctioned
nothing of the kind. They belonged to the best society, and were of
those well-dressed, well-behaved people whom Canon Kingsley described as
"the sitters in pews."

In their very proper company David had gone to ball and party, to opera
and theatre. On wet Sundays they sat together in St. George's Church; on
fine Sundays they had sailed quietly down the Thames, and eaten their
dinner at Richmond. Now, sin is sin beyond all controversy, but there
were none of David's companions to whom these things were sins in the
same degree as they were to David.

To none of them had the holy Sabbath ever been the day it had been to
him; to none of them was it so richly freighted with memories of
wonderful sermons and solemn sacraments that were foretastes of heaven.
Coming with a party of gentlemanly fellows slowly rowing up the Thames
and humming some passionate recitative from an opera, he alone could
recall the charmful stillness of a Scotch Sabbath, the worshiping
crowds, and the evening psalm ascending from so many thousand
hearthstones:

    O God of Bethel, by whose hand
      Thy people still are led.

He alone, as the oars kept time to "aria" or "chorus," heard above the
witching melody the solemn minor of "St. Mary's," or the tearful
tenderness of "Communion."

To most of his companions opera and theatre had come as a matter of
course, as a part of their daily life and education. David had been
obliged to stifle conscience, to disobey his father's counsels and his
mother's pleadings, before he could enjoy them. He had had, in fact, to
cultivate a taste for the sin before the sin was pleasant to him; and he
frankly told himself that night, in thinking it all over, that it was
harder work getting to hell than to heaven.

But then in another year he would become a partner, marry Mary, and
begin a new life. Suddenly it struck him with a new force that he had
not heard from Mary for nearly three weeks. A fear seized him that
while he had been dancing and making merry Mary had been ill and
suffering. He was amazed at his own heartlessness, for surely nothing
but sickness would have made Mary forget him.

The next morning as he went to the bank he posted a long letter to her,
full of affection and contrition and rose-colored pictures of their
future life. He had risen an hour earlier to write it, and he did not
fail to notice what a healthy natural pleasure even this small effort of
self-denial gave him. He determined that he would that very night write
long letters to his mother and Janet, and even to his father. "There was
a good deal he wanted to say to him about money matters, and his
marriage, and fore-talk always saved after-talk, besides it would keep
the influence of the old and better life around him to be in closer
communion with it."

Thus thinking, he opened the door of his uncle's private room, and said
cheerily, "Good morning, uncle."

"Good morning, Davie. Your father is here."

Then Andrew Lockerby came forward, and his son met him with outstretched
hands and paling cheeks. "What is it, father? Mother? Mary? Is she
dead?"

"'Deed, no, my lad. There's naething wrang but will turn to right. Mary
Moir was married three days syne, and I thocht you wad rather hear the
news from are that loved you. That's a', Davie; and indeed it's a loss
that's a great gain."

"Who did she marry?"

"Just a bit wizened body frae the East Indies, a'most as yellow as his
gold, an' as auld as her father. But the Deacon is greatly set up wi'
the match--or the settlements--and Mary comes o' a gripping kind.
There's her brother Gavin, he'd sell the ears aff his head, an' they
werena fastened on."

Then David went away with his father, and after half-an-hour's talk on
the subject together it was never mentioned more between them. But it
was a blow that killed effectually all David's eager yearnings for a
loftier and purer life. And it not only did this, but it also caused to
spring up into active existence a passion which was to rule him
absolutely--a passion for gold. Love had failed him, friendship had
proved an annoyance, company, music, feasting, amusements of all kinds
were a weariness now to think of. There seemed nothing better for him
than to become a rich man.

"I'll buy so many acres of old Scotland and call them by the Lockerby's
name; and I'll have nobles and great men come bowing and becking to
David Lockerby as they do to Alexander Gordon. Love is refused, and
wisdom is scorned, but everybody is glad to take money; then money is
best of all things."

Thus David reasoned, and his father said nothing against his arguments.
Indeed, they had never understood one another so well. David, for the
first time, asked all about the lands of Ellenmount, and pledged
himself, if he lived and prospered, to fulfill his father's hope.
Indeed, Andrew was altogether so pleased with his son that he told his
brother-in-law that the L20,000 would be forthcoming as soon as ever he
choose to advance David in the firm.

"I was only waiting, Lockerby, till Davie got through wi' his playtime.
The lad's myself o'er again, an' I ken weel he'll ne'er be contented
until he settles cannily doon to his interest tables."

So before Andrew Lockerby went back to Glasgow David was one of the firm
of Gordon & Co., sat in the directors' room, and began to feel some of
the pleasant power of having money to lend. After this he was rarely
seen among men of his own age--women he never mingled with. He removed
to his uncle's stately house in Baker street, and assimilated his life
very much to that of the older money maker. Occasionally he took a run
northward to Glasgow, or a month's vacation on the Continent, but
nearly all such journeys were associated with some profitable loan or
investment. People began to speak of him as a most admirable young man,
and indeed in some respects he merited the praise. No son ever more
affectionately honored his father and mother, and Janet had been made an
independent woman by his grateful consideration.

He was so admirable that he ceased to interest people, and every time he
visited Glasgow fewer and fewer of his old acquaintances came to see
him. A little more than ten years after his admission to the firm of
Gordon & Co. he came home at the new year, and presented his father with
the title-deeds of Ellenmount and Netherby. The next day old Andrew was
welcomed on the City Exchange as "Lockerby of Ellenmount, gentleman." "I
hae lived lang enough to hae seen this day," he said, with happy tears;
and David felt a joy in his father's joy that he did not know again for
many years. For while a man works for another there is an ennobling
element in his labor, but when he works simply for himself he has become
the greatest of all slaves. This slavery David now willingly assumed;
the accumulation of money became his business, his pleasure, the sum of
his daily life.

Ten years later both his uncle and father were dead, and both had left
David every shilling they possessed. Then he went on working more
eagerly than ever, turning his tens of thousands into hundreds of
thousands and adding acre to acre, and farm to farm, until Lockerby was
the richest estate in Annandale. When he was forty-five years of age
fortune seemed to have given him every good gift except wife and
children, and his mother, who had nothing else to fret about, worried
Janet continually on this subject.

"Wife an' bairns, indeed!" said Janet; "vera uncertain comforts, ma'am,
an' vera certain cares. Our Master Davie likes aye to be sure o' his
bargains."

"Weel, Janet, it's a great cross to me--an' him sae honored, an' guid
an' rich, wi' no a shilling ill-saved to shame him."

"Tut, tut, ma'am! The river doesna' swell wi' clean water. Naebody's
charged him wi' wrangdoing--that's enough. There's nae need to set him
up for a saint."

"An' you wanted him to be a minister, Janet."

"I was that blind--ance."

"We are blind creatures, Janet."

"Wi' _excepts_, ma'am; but they'll ne'er be found amang mithers."

This conversation took place one lovely Sabbath evening, and just at the
same time David was standing thoughtfully on Princes street, Edinburgh,
wondering to which church he had better turn his steps. For a sudden
crisis in the affairs of a bank in that city had brought him hurriedly
to Scotland, and he was not only a prudent man who considered public
opinion, but was also in a mood to conciliate that opinion so long as
the outward conditions were favorable. Whatever he might do in London,
in Scotland he always went to morning and evening service.

He was also one of those self-dependent men who dislike to ask questions
or advice from anyone. Though a comparative stranger he would not have
allowed himself to think that anyone could direct him better than he
could choose for himself. He looked up and down the street, and finally
followed a company which increased continually until they entered an old
church in the Canongate.

Its plain wooden pews and old-fashioned elevated pulpit rather pleased
than offended David, and the air of antiquity about the place
consecrated it in his eyes. Men like whatever reminds them of their
purest and best days, and David had been once in the old Relief Church
on the Doo Hill in Glasgow--just such a large, bare, solemn-looking
house of worship. The still, earnest men and women, the droning of the
precentor, the antiquated singing pleased and soothed him. He did not
notice much the thin little fair man who conducted the services; for he
was holding a session with his own soul.

A peculiar movement among the congregation announced that the sermon was
beginning, and David, looking up, saw that the officiating minister had
been changed. This man was swarthy and tall, and looked like some old
Jewish prophet, as he lifted his rapt face and cried, like one crying in
the wilderness, "Friends! I have a question to ask you to-night: '_What
shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own
soul_?'"

For twenty-three years David had silenced that voice, but it had found
him out again--it was Willie Caird's. At first interested and curious,
David soon became profoundly moved as Willie, in clear, solemn,
thrilling sentences, reasoned of life and death and judgment to come.
Not that he followed his arguments, or was more than dimly conscious of
the moving eloquence that stirred the crowd as a mighty wind stirs the
trees in the forest: for that dreadful question smote, and smote, and
smote upon his heart as if determined to have an answer.

_What shall it profit? What shall it profit? What shall it profit_?
David was quick enough at counting material loss and profit, but here
was a question beyond his computation. He went silently out of the
church, and wandered away by Holyrood Palace and St. Anthony's Chapel to
the pathless, lonely beauty of Salisbury Crags. There was no answer in
nature for him. The stars were silent above, the earth silent beneath.
Weariness brought him no rest; if he slept, he woke with the start of a
hunted soul, and found him asking that same dreadful question. When he
looked in the mirror his own face queried of him, "What profit?" and he
was compelled to make a decided effort to prevent his tongue uttering
the ever present thought.

But at noon he would meet the defaulting bank committee, "and doubtless
his lawful business would take its proper share of his thought!" He told
himself that it was the voice and face of his old friend that had
affected him so vividly, and that if he went and chatted over old times
with Willie, he would get rid of the disagreeable influence.

The influence, however, went with him into the creditors' committee
room. The embarrassed officials had dreaded greatly the interview. No
one hoped for more than bare justice from David Lockerby. "Clemency,
help, sympathy! You'll get blood out o' a stane first, gentlemen," said
the old cashier, with a dour, hopeless face.

And yet that morning David Lockerby amazed no one so much as himself.
He went to the meeting quite determined to have his own--only his
own--but something asked him, "_What shall it profit_?" and he gave up
his lawful increase and even offered help. He went determined to speak
his mind very plainly about mismanagement and the folly of having
losses; and something asked him, "_What shall it profit_?" and he gave
such sympathy with his help that the money came with a blessing in its
hand.

The feeling of satisfaction was so new to him that it embarrassed and
almost made him ashamed. He slipped ungraciously away from the thanks
that ought to have been pleasant, and found himself, almost
unconsciously, looking up Willie's name in the clerical directory, "Dr.
William Caird, 22 Moray place." David knew enough of Edinburgh to know
that Moray place contained the handsomest residences in the city, and
therefore he was not astonished at the richness and splendor of Willie's
library; but he was astonished to see him surrounded by five beautiful
boys and girls, and evidently as much interested in their lessons and
sports as if he was one of them.

"Ech! Davie man! but I'm glad to see you!" That was all of Willie's
greeting, but his eyes filled, and as the friends held each other's
hands Davie came very near touching for a moment a David Lockerby no one
had seen for many long years. But he said nothing during his visit of
Willie's sermon, nor indeed in several subsequent ones. Scotsmen are
reticent on all matters, and especially reticent about spiritual
experience; and though Davie lingered in Edinburgh a week, he was
neither able to speak to Willie about his soul, nor yet in all their
conversations get rid of that haunting, uncomfortable influence Willie
had raised.

But as they stood before the Queen's Hotel at midnight bidding each
other an affectionate farewell, David suddenly turned Willie round and
opened up his whole heart to him. And as he talked he found himself able
to define what had been only hitherto a vague, restless sense of want.

"I am the poorest rich man and the most miserable failure, Willie Caird,
that ever you asked yon fearsome question of--and I know it. I have
achieved millions, and I am a conscious bankrupt to my own soul. I have
wasted my youth, neglected my talents and opportunities, and whatever
the world may call me I am a wretched breakdown. I have made
money--plenty of it--and it does not pay me. What am I to do?"

"You ken, Davie, my dear, dear lad, what advice the Lord Jesus gave to
the rich man--'distribute unto the poor--and come, follow me!'"

Then up and down Princes street, and away under the shadow of the Castle
Hill, Willie and David walked and talked, till the first sunbeams
touched St. Leonard's Crags. If it was a long walk a grand work was laid
out in it.

"You shall be more blessed than your namesake," said Willie, "for though
David gathered the gold, and the wood, and the stone, Solomon builded
therewith. Now, an' it please God, you shall do your ain work, and see
the topstone brought on with rejoicing."

Then at David's command, workmen gathered in companies, and some of the
worst "vennels" in old Glasgow were torn down; and the sunshine flooded
"wynds" it had scarcely touched for centuries, and a noble building
arose that was to be a home for children that had no home. And the farms
of Ellenmount fed them, and the fleeces of Lockerby clothed them, and
into every young hand was put a trade that would win it honest bread.

In a short time even this undertaking began to be too small for David's
energies and resources, and he joined hands with Willie in many other
good works, and gave not only freely of his gold, but also of his time
and labor. The old eloquence that stirred his classmates in St. Andrew's
Hall, "till they would have followed him to the equator" began to stir
the cautious Glasgow traders to the bottom of their hearts, and their
pocketbooks; and men who didn't want to help in a crusade against
drunkenness, or in a crusade for the spread of the Gospel, stopped away
from Glasgow City Hall when David Lockerby filled the chair at a public
meeting and started a subscription list with L1000 down on the table.

But there were two old ladies that never stopped away, though one of
them always declared "Master Davie had fleeched her last bawbee out o'
her pouch;" and the other generally had her little whimper about Davie
"waring his substance upon ither folks' bairns."

"There's bonnie Bessie Lament, Janet; an' he would marry her we might
live to see his ain sons and daughters in the old house."

"'Deed, then, ma'am, our Davie has gotten him a name better than that o'
sons an' dochters; and though I am sair disappointed in him--"

"You shouldn't say that, Janet; he made a gran' speech the day."

"A speech isna' a sermon, ma'am; though I'll ne'er belittle a speech wi'
a L1000 argument."

"And there was Deacon Moir, Janet, who didna approve o' the scheme, and
who would therefore gie nothing at a'."

"The Deacon is sae godly that God doesna get a chance to improve his
condition, ma'am. But for a' o' Deacon Moir's disapproval I'se count on
the good work going on."

"'Deed yes, Janet, and though our Davie should ne'er marry at a'--"

"There'll be generations o' lads an' lasses, ma'am, that will rise up in
auld Scotland an' go up an' down through a' the warld a' ca' David
Lockerby 'blessed.'"




FRANZ MUeLLER'S WIFE.


"Franz, good morning. Whose philosophy is it now? Hegel, Spinosa, Kant
or Dugald Stewart?"

"None of them. I am reading _Faust_."

"Worse and worse. Better wrestle with philosophies than lose yourself in
the clouds. At any rate, if the poets are to send the philosophers to
the right about, stick to Shakespeare."

"He is too material. He can't get rid of men and women."

"They are a little better, I should think, than Mephisto. Come, Franz,
condescend to cravats and kid gloves, and let us go and see my cousin
Christine Stromberg."

"I do not know the young lady."

"Of course not. She has just returned from a Munich school. Her brother
Max was at the Lyndons' great party, you remember?"

"I don't remember, Louis. In white cravats and black coats all men look
alike."

"But you will go?"

"If you wish it, yes. There are some uncut reviews on the table: amuse
yourself while I dress."

"Thanks, I have my cigar case. I will take a smoke and think of
Christine."

For some reason quite beyond analysis, Franz did not like this speech.
He had never seen Christine Stromberg, but yet he half resented the
careless use of her name. It fell upon some soul consciousness like a
familiar and personal name, and yet he vainly recalled every phase of
his life for any clew to this familiarity.

He was a handsome fellow, with large, clearly-cut features and gray,
thoughtful eyes. In a conversation that interested him his face lighted
up with a singularly beautiful animation, but usually it was as still
and passionless as if the soul was away on a dream or a visit. Even the
regulation cravat and coat could not destroy his individuality, and
Louis looked admiringly at him, and said, "You are still Franz Mueller.
No one is just like you. I should think Cousin Christine will fall in
love with you."

Again Franz's heart resented this speech. It had been waiting for love
for many a year, but he could not jest or speculate about it. No one but
the thoughtless, favored Louis ever dared to do it before Franz, and no
one ever spoke lightly of women before him, for the worst of men are
sensitive to the presence of a pure and lofty nature, and are generally
willing to respect it.

Franz dreamed of women, but only of noble women, and even for those who
fell below his ideal he had a thousand apologies and a world of pity. It
was strange that such a man should have lived thirty years, and never
have really loved any mortal woman. But his hour had come at last. As
soon as he saw Christine Stromberg he loved her. A strange exaltation
possessed him; his face was radiant; he talked and sung with a
brilliancy that amazed even those most familiar with his rare
exhibitions of such moods. And Christine seemed fascinated by his beauty
and wit. The hours passed like moments; and when the girl stood watching
him down the moon-lit avenue, she almost trembled to remember what
questions Franz's eyes had asked her and how strangely familiar the
clasp of his hand and the sound of his voice had seemed to her.

"I wonder where I have seen him before," she murmured--"I wonder where
it was?" and to this thought she slowly took off one by one her jewels,
and brushed out her long black hair; nay, when she fell asleep, it was
only to take it up again in dreams.

As for Franz, he was in far too ecstatic a mood to think of sleep. "One
has too few of such godlike moments to steep them in unconsciousness,"
he said to himself. And so he sat smoking and thinking and watching the
waning moon sink lower and lower, until it was no longer night, but
dawning day.

"In a few hours now I can go and see Christine." At this point in his
love he had no other thought. He was too happy to speculate on any
probability as yet. It was sufficient at present to know that he had
found his love, that she lived at a definite number on a definite
avenue, and that in six or seven hours more he might see her again.

He chose the earlier number. It was just eleven o'clock when he rung Mr.
Stromberg's bell. Mrs. Stromberg passed through the hall as he entered,
and greeted him pleasantly. "Christine and I are just going to have
breakfast," she said, in her jolly, hearty way. "Come in Mr. Mueller, and
have a cup of coffee with us."

Nothing could have delighted Franz so much. Christine was pouring it out
as he entered the pretty breakfast parlor. How beautiful she looked in
her long loose morning dress! How, bewitching were its numerous bows of
pale ribbon! He had a sense of hunger immediately, and he knew that he
made an excellent breakfast; but of what he ate or what he drank he had
not the slightest conception.

A cup of coffee passing through Christine's, hands necessarily suffered
some wonderful change. It could not, and it did not, taste like
ordinary coffee. In the same mysterious way chicken, eggs and rolls
became sublimated. So they ate and laughed and chatted, and I am quite
sure that Milton never imagined a meal in Eden half so delightful as
that breakfast on the avenue.

When it was over, it came into Franz's heart to offer Christine a ride.
They were standing together among the flowers in the bay window, and the
trees outside were in their first tender green, and the spring skies and
the spring airs were full of happiness and hope. Christine was arranging
and watering her lilies and pansies, and somehow in helping her Franz's
hands and hers had lingered happily together. So now love gave to this
mortal an immortal's confidence. He never thought of sighing and fearing
and trembling. His soul had claimed Christine, and he firmly believed
that sooner or later she would hear and understand what he had to say to
her.

"Shall we ride?" he said, just touching her fingers, and looking at her
with eyes and face glowing with a wonderful happiness.

Alas, Christine could think of mamma, and of morning calls and of what
people would say. But Franz overruled every scruple; he conquered mamma,
and laughed at society; and before Christine had decided which of her
costumes was most becoming, Franz was waiting at the door.

How they rattled up the avenue and through the park! How the green
branches waved in triumph, and how the birds sang and gossiped about
them! By the time they arrived at Mount St. Vincent they had forgotten
they were mortal. Then the rest in the shady gallery, and the subsidence
of love's exaltation into love's silent tender melancholy, were just as
blissful.

They came slowly home, speaking only in glances and monosyllables, but
just before they parted Franz said, "I have been waiting thirty years
for you, Christine; to-day my life has blossomed."

And though Christine did not make any audible answer, he thought her
blush sufficient; besides, she took the lilies from her throat and gave
them to him.

Such a dream of love is given only to the few whom the gods favor. Franz
must have stood high in their grace, for it lasted through many sweet
weeks and months for him. He followed the Strombergs to Newport, and
laid his whole life down at Christine's feet. There was no definite
engagement between them, but every one understood that would come as
surely as the end of the season.

Money matters and housekeeping must eventually intrude themselves, but
the romance and charm of this one summer of life should be untouched.
And Franz was not anxious at all on this score. His father, a shrewd
business man, had early seen that his son was a poet and a dreamer. "It
is not the boy's fault," he said to his partner, "he gets it from his
grandfather, who was always more out of this world than in it."

So he wisely allowed Franz to follow his natural tastes, and contented
himself with carefully investing his fortune in such real estate and
securities as he believed would insure a safe, if a slow increase. He
had bought wisely, and Franz's income was a certain and handsome one,
with a tendency rather to increase than decrease, and quite sufficient
to maintain Christine in all the luxury to which she had been
accustomed.

So when he returned to the city he intended to speak to Mr. Stromberg.
All he had should be Christine's and her father should settle the matter
just as he thought best for his daughter. In a general way this was
understood by all parties, and everyone seemed inclined to sympathize
with the happy feeling which led the lovers to deprecate during these
enchanted days any allusion which tended to dispel the exquisite charm
of their young lives' idyl.

Perhaps it would have been better if they had remembered the ancient
superstition and themselves done something to mar their perfect
happiness. Polycrates offered his ring to avert the calamity sure to
follow unmitigated pleasure or success, and Franz ought, perhaps, to
have also made an effort to propitiate his envious Fate.

But he did not, and toward the very end of the season, when the October
days had thrown a kind of still melancholy over the world that had been
so green and gay, Franz's dream was rudely broken--broken by a Mr. James
Barker Clarke, a blustering, vulgar man of fifty, worth _three
millions_. In some way or other he seemed to have a great deal of
influence over Mr. Stromberg, who paid him unqualified respect, and over
Mrs. Stromberg, who seemed to fear him.

Mr. Stromberg's "private ledger" alone knew the whole secret; for of
course money was at the foundation. Indeed, in these days, in all public
and private troubles, it is proper to ask, not "Who is she?" but "How
much is it?" Franz Mueller and James Barker Clarke hated each other on
sight. Still Franz had no idea at first that this ugly, uncouth man
could ever be a rival to his own handsome person and passionate
affection.

In a few days, however, he was compelled to actually consider the
possibility of such a thing. Mr. Stromberg had assumed an attitude of
such extreme politeness, and Mrs. Stromberg avoided him if possible, and
if not possible, was constrained and unhappy in the familiar relations
that she had accepted so happily all summer. As for Christine, she had
constant headaches, and her eyes were often swollen and red with
weeping.

At length, without notice, the family left Newport, and went to stay a
month with some relative near Boston. A pitiful little note from
Christine informed him of this fact; but as he received no information
as to the locality of her relative's house, and no invitation to call,
he was compelled for the present to do as Christine asked him--wait
patiently for their return.

At first he got a few short tender notes, but they were evidently
written in such sorrow that he was almost beside himself with grief and
anger. When these ceased he went to Boston, and without difficulty found
the house where Christine was staying. He was received at first very
shyly by Mrs. Stromberg, but when Franz poured out his love and misery,
the poor old lady wept bitterly, and moaned out that she could not help
it, and Christine could not help it, and that they were all very
miserable.

Finally she was persuaded to let him see Christine, "just for five
minutes." The poor girl came to him, a shadow of her gay self, and,
weeping in his arms, told him he must bid her good-by forever. The five
minutes were lengthened into a long, terrible hour, and Franz went back
to New York with the knowledge that in that hour his life had been
broken in two for this life.

One night toward the close of November his friend Louis called. "Franz,"
he said, "have you heard that Christine Stromberg is to marry old
Clarke?"

"Yes."

"No one can trust a woman. It is a shame of Christine."

"Louis, speak of what you know. Christine is an angel. If a woman
appears to do wrong, there is probably some brute of a man behind her
forcing her to do it."

"I thought she was to be your wife."

"She is my wife in soul and feeling. No one, thank God, can help that.
If I was Clarke, I would as willingly marry a corpse as Christine
Stromberg. Do not speak of her again, Louis. The poor innocent child!
God bless her!" And he burst into a passion of weeping that alarmed his
friend for his reason, but which was probably its salvation.

In a week Franz had left for Europe, and the next Christmas, Christine
and James Barker Clarke were married, and began housekeeping in a style
of extravagant splendor. People wondered and exclaimed at Christine's
reckless expenditure, her parents advised, her husband scolded; but
though she never disputed them, she quietly ignored all their
suggestions. She went to Paris, and lived like a princess; Rome, Vienna
and London wondered over her beauty and her splendor; and wherever she
went Franz followed her quietly, haunting her magnificent salons like a
wretched spectre.

They rarely or never spoke. Beyond a grave inclination of the head, or a
look whose profound misery he only understood, she gave him no
recognition. The world held her name above reproach, and considered that
she had done very well to herself.

Ten years passed away, but the changes they brought were such as the
world regards as natural and inevitable. Christine's mother died and her
father married again; and Christine had a son and a daughter. Franz
watched anxiously to see if this new love would break up the icy
coldness of her manners. Sometimes he was conscious of feeling angrily
jealous of the children, but he always crushed down the wretched
passion. "If Christine loved a flower, would I not love it also?" he
asked himself; "and these little ones, what have they done?" So at last
he got to separate them entirely from every one but Christine, and to
regard them as part and portion of his love.

But at the end of ten years a change came, neither natural nor expected.
Franz was walking moodily about his library one night, when Louis came
to tell him of it, Louis was no longer young, and was married now, for
he had found out that the beaten track is the safest.

"Franz," he said, "have you heard about Clarke? His affairs are
frightfully wrong, and he shot himself an hour ago."

"And Christine? Does she know? Who has gone to her?"

"My wife is with her. Clarke shot himself in his own room. Christine was
the first to reach him. He left a letter saying he was absolutely
ruined."

"Where will Christine and the children go?"

"I suppose to her father's. Not a pleasant place for her now.
Christine's step-mother dislikes both her and the children."

Franz said no more, and Louis went away with a feeling of
disappointment. "I thought he would have done something for her," he
said to his wife. "Poor Christine will be very poor and dependent."

Ten days after he came home with a different story. "There never was a
woman as lucky about money as Cousin Christine," he said. "Hardy & Hall
sent her notice to-day that the property at Ryebeach settled on her
before her marriage by Mr. Clarke was now at her disposal. It seems the
old gentleman anticipated the result of his wild speculations, and in
order to provide for his wife, quietly bought and placed in Hardy's
charge two beautifully furnished cottages. There is something like an
accumulation of sixteen thousand dollars of rentage; and as one is
luckily empty, Christine and the children are going there at once. I
always thought the property was Hardy's own before. Very thoughtful in
Clarke."

"It is not Clarke one bit. I don't believe he ever did it. It is some
arrangement of Franz Mueller's."

"For goodness' sake don't hint such a thing, Lizzie! Christine would not
go, and we should have her here very soon. Besides, I don't believe it.
Franz took the news very coolly, and he has kept out of my way since."

The next day Louis was more than ever of his wife's opinion. "What do
you think, Lizzie?" he said. "Franz came to me to-day and asked if
Clarke did not once loan me two thousand dollars. I told him Clarke gave
me two thousand about the time we were married."

"'Say _loaned_, Louis,' he answered, 'to oblige me. Here is two
thousand and the interest for six years. Go and pay it to Christine; she
must need money.' So I went."

"Is she settled comfortably?"

"Oh, very. Go and see her often. Franz is sure to marry her, and he is
growing richer every day."

It seemed as if Louis's prediction would come true. Franz began to drive
out every afternoon to Ryebeach. At first he contented himself with just
passing Christine's gate. But he soon began to stop for the children,
and having taken them a drive, to rest a while on the lawn, or in the
parlor, while Christine made him a cup of tea.

For Franz tired very easily now, and Christine saw what few others
noticed: he had become pale and emaciated, and the least exertion left
him weary and breathless. She knew in her heart that it was, the last
summer he would be with her. Alas! what a pitiful shadow of their first
one! It was hard to contrast the ardent, handsome lover of ten years ago
with the white, silently happy man who, when October came, had only
strength to sit and hold her hand, and gaze with eager, loving eyes into
her face.

One day his physician met Louis on Broadway. "Mr. Curtin," he said,
"your friend Mueller is very ill. I consider his life measured by days,
perhaps hours. He has long had organic disease of the heart. It is near
the last."

"Does he know it?"

"Yes, he has known it long. Better see him at once."

So Louis went at once. He found Franz calmly making his last
preparations for the great event. "I am glad you are come, Louis," he
said; "I was going to send for you. See this cabinet full of letters. I
have not strength left to destroy them; burn them for me when--when I am
gone.

"This small packet is Christine's dear little notes: bury them with me:
there are ten of them, every one ten years old."

"Is that all, dear Franz?"

"Yes; my will has long been made. Except a legacy to yourself, all goes
to Christine--dear, dear Christine!"

"You love her yet, then, Franz?"

"What do you mean? I have loved her for ages. I shall love her forever.
She is the other half of my soul. In some lives I have missed her
altogether let me be thankful that she has come so near me in this one."

"Do you know what you are saying, Franz?"

"Very clearly, Louis. I have always believed with the oldest
philosophers that souls were created in pairs, and that it is permitted
them in their toilsome journey back to purity and heaven sometimes to
meet and comfort each other. Do you think I saw Christine for the first
time in your uncle's parlor? Louis, I have fairer and grander memories
of her than any linked to this life. I must leave her now for a little.
God knows when and where we meet again; but _He does know_; that is my
hope and consolation."

Whatever were Louis's private opinions about Franz's theology it was
impossible to dissent at that hour, and he took his friend's last
instructions and farewell with such gentle, solemn feelings as had long
been strange to his-heart.

In the afternoon Franz was driven out to Christine's. It was the last
physical effort he was capable of. No one saw the parting of those two
souls. He went with Christine's arms around him, and her lips whispering
tender, hopeful farewells. It was noticed however, that after Franz's
death a strange change came over Christine--a beautiful nobility and
calmness of character, and a gentle setting of her life to the loftiest
aims.

Louis said she had been wonderfully moved by the papers Franz left. The
ten letters she had written during the spring-time of their love went to
the grave with him, but the rest were of such an extraordinary nature
that Louis could not refrain from showing them to his cousin, and then
at her request leaving them for her to dispose of. They were indeed
letters written to herself under every circumstance of her life, and
directed to every place in which she had sojourned. In all of them she
was addressed as "Beloved Wife of my Soul," and in this way the poor
fellow had consoled his breaking, longing heart.

To some of them he had written imaginary answers, but as these all
referred to a financial secret known only to the parties concerned in
Christine's and his own sacrifice, it was proof positive that he had
written only for his own comfort. But it was perhaps well they fell into
Christine's hands: she could not but be a better woman for reading the
simple records of a strife which set perfect unselfishness and
child-like submission as the goal of its duties.

Seven years after Franz's death Christine and her daughter died together
of the Roman fever, and James Barker Clarke, junior, was left sole
inheritor of Franz's wealth.

"A German dreamer!"

Ah, well, there are dreamers and dreamers. And perchance he that seeks
fame, and he that seeks gold, and he that seeks power, may all alike,
when this shadowy existence is over, look back upon life "as a dream
when one awaketh."




THE VOICE AT MIDNIGHT.


"It is the King's highway that we are in; and know this, His messengers
are on it. They who have ears to hear will hear; and He opens the eyes
of some, and they see things not to be lightly spoken of."

It was John Balmuto who said these words to me. John was a Shetlander,
and for forty years he had gone to the Arctic seas with the whale boats.
Then there had come to him a wonderful experience. He had been four days
and nights alone with God upon the sea, among mountains of ice reeling
together in perilous madness, and with little light but the angry flush
of the aurora. Then, undoubtedly, was born that strong faith in the
Unseen which made him an active character in the facts I am going to
relate.

After his marvelous salvation, he devoted his life to the service of God
by entering that remarkable body of lay evangelists attached to the
Presbyterian Church in Highland parishes, called "The Men," and he
became noted throughout the Hebrides for his labors, and for his
knowledge of the Scriptures.

Circumstances, that summer, had thrown us together; I, a young woman,
just entering an apparently fortunate life; he, an aged saint, standing
on the borderland of eternity. And we were sitting together, in the gray
summer gloaming, when he said to me, "Thou art silent to-night. What
hast thou, then, on thy mind?"

"I had a strange dream. I cannot shake off its influence. Of course it
is folly, and I don't believe in dreams at all." And it was then he said
to me, "It is the King's highway that we are in, and know this, His
messengers are on it."

"But it was only a dream."

"Well, God speaks to His children 'in dreams, and by the oracles that
come in darkness.'"

"He used to do so."

"Wilt thou then say that He has ceased so to speak to men? Now, I will
tell thee a thing that happened; I will tell thee just the bare facts; I
will put nothing to, nor take anything away from them.

"'Tis, five years ago the first day of last June. I was in Stornoway in
the Lews, and I was going to the Gairloch Preachings. It was rough,
cheerless weather, and all the fishing fleet were at anchor for the
night, with no prospect of a fishing. The fishers were sitting together
talking over the bad weather, but, indeed, without that bitterness that
I have heard from landsmen when it would be the same trouble with them.
So I gathered them into Donald Brae's cottage, and we had a very good
hour. I noticed a stranger in the corner of the room, and some one told
me he was one of those men who paint pictures, and I saw that he was
busy with a pencil and paper even while we were at the service. But the
next day I left for the Preachings, and I thought no more of him, good
or bad.

"On the first of September I was in Oban. I had walked far and was very
tired, but I went to John MacNab's cottage, and, after I had eat my
kippered herring and drank my tea, I felt better. Then I talked with
John about the resurrection of the body, for he was in a tribulation of
thoughts and doubts as to whether our Lord had a permanent humanity or
not.

"And I said to him, John, Christ redeemed our whole nature, and it is
this way: the body being ransomed, as well as the spirit, by no less a
price than the body of Christ, shall be equally cleansed and glorified.
Now, then, after I had gone to my room, I was sitting thinking of these
things, and of no other things whatever. There was not a sound but that
of the waves breaking among the rocks, and drawing the tinkling pebbles
down the beach after them. Then the ears of my spiritual body were
opened, and I heard these words, _'I will go with thee to Glasgow!'_
Instead of saying to the heavenly message, 'I am ready!' I began to
argue with myself thus: 'Whatever for should I go to Glasgow? I know not
anyone there. No one knows me. I have duties at Portsee not to be left.
I have no money for such a journey--'

"I fell asleep to such thoughts. Then I dreamed of--or I saw--a woman
fair as the daughters of God, and she said, _'I will go with thee to
Glasgow!'_ With a strange feeling of being hurried and pressed I
awoke--wide awake, and without any conscious will of my own, I answered,
'I am ready. I am ready now.'

"As I left the cottage it was striking twelve, and I wondered what means
of reaching Glasgow I should find at midnight. But I walked straight to
the pier, and there was a small steamer with her steam up. She was
blowing her whistle impatiently, and when the skipper saw me coming, he
called to me, in a passion, 'Well, then, is it all night I shall wait
for thee?'

"I soon perceived that there was a mistake, and that it was not John
Balmuto he had been instructed to wait for. But I heeded not that; I was
under orders I durst not disobey. She was a trading steamer, with a
perishable cargo of game and lobsters, and so she touched at no place
whatever till we reached Glasgow. One of her passengers was David
MacPherson of Harris, a very good man, who had known me in my
visitations. He was going to Glasgow as a witness in a case to be tried
between the Harris fishers and their commission house in Glasgow.

"As we walked together from the steamer, he said to me, 'Let us go round
by the court house, John, and I'll find out when I'll be required.' That
was to my mind; I did not feel as if I could go astray, whatever road
was taken, and I turned with him the way he desired to go. He found the
lawyer who needed him in the court house, and while they talked together
I went forward and listened to the case that was in hand.

"It was a trial for murder, and I could not keep my eyes off the young
man who was charged with the crime. He seemed to be quite broken down
with shame and sorrow. Before MacPherson called me the court closed and
the constables took him away. As he passed me our eyes met, and my heart
dirled and burned, and I could not make out whatever would be the matter
with me. All night his face haunted me. I was sure I had seen it some
place; and besides it would blend itself with the dream which had
brought me to Glasgow.

"In the morning I was early at the court house and I saw the prisoner
brought in. There was the most marvelous change in his looks. He walked
like a man who has lost fear, and his face was quite calm. But now it
troubled me more than ever. Whatever had I to do with the young man? Yet
I could not bear to leave him.

"I listened and found out that he was accused of murdering his uncle.
They had been traveling together and were known to have been at Ullapool
on the thirtieth of May. On the first of June the elder man was found in
a lonely place near Oban, dead, and, without doubt, from violence. The
chain of circumstantial evidence against his nephew was very strong. To
judge by it I would have said myself to him, 'Thou art certainly
guilty.'

"On the other side the young man declared that he had quarreled with his
uncle at Ullapool and left him clandestinely. He had then taken passage
in a Manx fishing smack which was going to the Lews, but he had
forgotten the name of the smack. He was not even certain if the boat was
Manx. The landlord of the inn, at which he said he stayed when in the
Lews, did not remember him. 'A thing not to be expected,' he told the
jury, 'for in the summer months, what with visitors, and what with the
fishers, a face in Stornoway was like a face on a crowded street. The
young man might have been there'--

"The word _Stornoway_ made the whole thing clear to me. The prisoner was
the man I had noticed with a pencil and paper among the fishers in
Donald Brae's cottage. Yes, indeed he was! I knew then why I had been
sent to Glasgow. I walked quickly to the bar, and lifting my bonnet from
my head, I said to the judge, 'My lord, the prisoner _was_ in Stornoway
on the first of June. I saw him there!'

"He gave a great cry of joy and turned to me; and in a moment he called
out: 'You are the man who read the Bible to the fishers. I remember you.
I have your likeness among my drawings.' And I said, 'I am the man.'

"Then my lord, the judge, made them swear me, and he said they would
hear my evidence. For one moment I was a coward. I thought I would hide
God's share in the deliverance, lest men should doubt my whole
testimony. The next, I was telling the true story: how I had been called
at midnight--twice called; how I had found Evan Conochie's boat waiting
for me; how on the boat I had met David MacPherson, and been brought to
the court house by him, having no intention or plan of my own in the
matter.

"And there was a great awe in the room as I spoke. Every one believed
what I said, and my lord asked for the names of the fishers who were
present in Donald Brae's cottage on the night of the first of June. Very
well, then, I could give many of them, and they were sent for, and the
lad was saved, thank God Almighty!"

"How do you explain it, John?"

"No, I will not try to explain it; for it is not to be hoped that anyone
can explain by human reason the things surpassing human reason."

"Do you know what became of the young man?"

"I will tell thee about him. He is a very rich young man, and the only
child of a widow, known like Dorcas of old for her great goodness to the
Lord's poor. But when his mother died it did not go well and peaceably
between him and his uncle; and it is true that he left him at Ullapool
without a word. Well, then, he fell into this sore strait, and it seemed
as if all hope of proving his innocence was over.

"But that very night on which I saw him first, he dreamed that his
mother came to him in his cell and she comforted him and told him,
'To-morrow, surely, thy deliverer shall speak for thee.' He never
doubted the heavenly vision. 'How could I?' he asked me. 'My mother
never deceived me in life; would she come to me, even in a dream, to
tell me a lie? Ah, no!'"

"Is he still alive?"

"God preserve him for many a year yet! I'll only require to speak his
name"--and when he had done so, I knew the secret spring of thankfulness
that fed the never-ceasing charity of one great, good man.

"And yet, John," I urged, "how can spirit speak with spirit?"

"'_How?_' I will tell thee, that word 'how' has no business in the mouth
of a child of God. When I was a boy, who had dreamed 'how' men in London
might speak with men in Edinburgh through the air, invisible and
unheard? That is a matter of trade now. Can thou imagine what subtle
secret lines there may be between the spiritual world and this world?"

"But dreams, John?"

"Well, then, dreams. Take the dream life out of thy Bible and, oh, how
much thou wilt lose! All through it this side of the spiritual world
presses close on the human side. I thank God for it. Yes, indeed! Many
things I hear and see which say to me that Christians now have a kind of
shame in what is mystical or supernatural. But thou be sure of this--the
supernaturalism of the Bible, and of every Christian life is not one of
the difficulties of our faith, _it is the foundation of our faith_. The
Bible is a supernatural book, the law of a supernatural religion; and to
part with this element is to lose out of it the flavor of heaven, and
the hope of immortality. Yes, indeed!"

This conversation occurred thirty years ago. Two years since, I met the
man who had experienced such a deliverance, and he told me again the
wonderful story, and showed me the pencil sketch which he had made of
John Balmuto in Donald Brae's cottage. He had painted from it a grand
picture of his deliverer, wearing the long black camlet cloak and
head-kerchief of the order of evangelists to which he belonged. I stood
reverently before the commanding figure, with its inspired eyes and rapt
expression; for, during those thirty years, I also had learned that it
was only those

    Who ne'er the mournful midnight hours
    Weeping upon their bed have sate,
    Who know you not, Ye Heavenly Powers.




SIX, AND HALF-A-DOZEN.


Slain in the battle of life. Wounded and fallen, trampled in the mire
and mud of the conflict, then the ranks closed again and left no place
for her. So she crawled aside to die. With a past whose black despair
was as the shadow of a starless night, a future which her early
religious training lit up with the lurid light of hell, and the strong
bands of a pitiless death dragging her to the grave--still she craved,
as the awful hour drew near, to see once more the home of her innocent
childhood. Not that she thought to die in its shelter--any one who knew
David Todd knew also that was a hopeless dream; but if, IF her
father should say one pardoning word, then she thought it would help her
to understand the love of God, and give her some strength to trust in
it.

Early in the evening, just as the sun was setting and the cows were
coming lowing up the little lane, scented with the bursting lilac
bushes, she stood humbly at the gate her father must pass in order to go
to the hillside fold to shelter the ewes and lambs. Very soon she saw
him coming, his Scotch bonnet pulled over his brows, his steps steadied
by his shepherd's staff. His lips were firmly closed, and his eyes
looked far over the hills; for David was a mystic in his own way, and
they were to him temples not made with hands in which he had seen and
heard wonderful things. Here the storehouses of hail and lightning had
been opened in his sight, and he had watched in the sunshine the tempest
bursting beneath his feet. He had trod upon rainbows and been waited
upon by spectral mists. The voices of winds and waters were in his
heart, and he passionately believed in God. But it was the God of his
own creed--jealous, just and awful in that inconceivable holiness which
charges his angels with folly and detects impurity in the sinless
heavens. So, when he approached the gate he saw, but would not see, the
dying girl who leaned against it. Whatever he felt he made no sign. He
closed it without hurry, and then passed on the other side.

"Father! O, father! speak one word to me."

Then he turned and looked at her, sternly and awfully.

"Thou art nane o' my bairn. I ken naught o' thee."

Without another glance at the white, despairing face, he walked rapidly
on; for the spring nights were chilly, and he must gather his lambs into
the fold, though this poor sheep of his own household was left to
perish.

But, if her father knew her no more, the large sheep-dog at his side was
not so cruel. No theological dogmas measured Rover's love; the stain on
the spotless name of his master's house, which hurt the old man like a
wound, had not shadowed his memory. He licked her hands and face, and
tried with a hospitality and pity which made him so much nearer the
angels than his master to pull her toward her home. But she shook her
head and moaned pitifully; then throwing her arms round the poor brute
she kissed him with those passionate kisses of repentance and love which
should have fallen on her father's neck. The dog (dumb to all but God)
pleaded with sorrowful eyes and half-frantic gestures; but she turned
wearily away toward a great circle of immense rocks--relics of a
religion scarcely more cruel than that which had neither pity nor
forgiveness at the mouth of the grave. Within their shadow she could die
unseen; and there next morning a wagoner, attracted by the plaintive
howling of a dog, found her on the ground, dead.

There are set awful hours between every soul and heaven. Who knows what
passed between Lettice Todd and her God in that dim forsaken temple of a
buried faith? Death closes tenderly even the eyes full of tears, and
her face was beautiful with a strange peace, though its loveliness was
marred and its youth "seared with the autumn of strange suffering."

At the inquest which followed, her stern old father neither blamed nor
excused himself. He accepted without apology the verdict of society
against him; only remarking that its reproof was "a guid example o'
Satan correcting sin."

Scant pity and less ceremony was given to her burial. Death, which draws
under the mantle of Charity the pride, cruelty and ambition of men,
covering them with those two narrow words _Hic jacet_! gives also to the
woman who has been a sinner all she asks--oblivion. In no other way can
she obtain from man toleration. The example of the whitest, purest soul
that ever breathed on earth, in this respect, is ignored in the church
He founded. The tenderest of human hearts, "when lovely woman stooped to
folly," found no way of escape for her but to "die;" and those closet
moralists, with filthy fancies and soiled souls, who abound in every
community, regard her with that sort of scorn which a Turk expresses
when he says "Dog of a Christian." Poor Lettice! She had procured this
doom--first by sacrificing herself to a blind and cruel love, and then
to the importunate demands of hunger, "oldest and strongest of
passions." Ah! if there was no pity in Heaven, no justice beyond the
grave, what a cruel irony this life would be! For, while the sexton
shoveled hastily over the rude coffin the obliterating earth, there
passed the graveyard another woman equally fallen from all the apostle
calls "lovely and of good report." One whose youth and hopes and
marvelous beauty had been sold for houses and lands and a few thousand
pounds a year. But, though her life was a living lie, the world praised
her, because she "had done well unto herself." Yet, at the last end, the
same seed brought forth the same fruit, and the Lady of Hawksworth Hall
learned, with bitter rapidity, that riches are too poor to buy love.
Scarcely had she taken possession of her splendid home before she longed
for the placid happiness of her mother's cottage, and those evening
walks under the beech-trees, whose very memory was now a sin. Over her
beautiful face there crept a pathetic shadow, which irritated the rude
and noisy squire like a reproach. He had always had what he wanted. Not
even the beauty of all the border counties had been beyond his means to
buy but somehow he felt as if in this bargain he had been overreached.
Her better part eluded his possession, and he felt dissatisfied and
angry. Expostulations grew into cruel words; cruel words came to cruder
blows. _Yes, blows_. English gentlemen thirty years ago knew their
privileges; and that was one of them. She was as much and as lawfully
his as the horses in his stables or the hounds in his kennels. He beat
them, too, when they did not obey him. Her beauty had betrayed her into
the hands of misery. She had wedded it, and there was no escape for her.
One day, when her despair and suffering was very great, some tempting
devil brought her a glass of brandy, and she drank it. It gave her back
for a few hours her departed sceptre; but at what a price! Her slave
soon became her master. Stimulus and stupefaction, physical exhaustion
and mental horrors, the abandonment of friends and the brutality of a
coarse and cruel husband, brought her at last to the day of reckoning.
She died, seven years after her marriage, in the delirium of opium.
There were physicians and servants around her, and an unloving husband
waiting for the news of his release. I think I would rather have died
where Lettice did--under the sky, with the solemn mountains lifting
their heads in a perpetual prayer around me, and that faithful dog
licking my hands, and mourning my wasted life.

Now, wherein did these two women differ? One sinned through an intense
and self-sacrificing love, and in obedience to the strongest calls of
want. Her sin, though it was beyond the pale of the world's toleration,
was yet one _according to Nature_. The other, in a cold spirit of
barter, voluntarily and deliberately exchanged her youth and beauty, the
hopes of her own and another's life, for carriages, jewels, fine
clothing and a luxurious table. She loathed the price she had to pay,
and her sin was an unnatural one. For this kind of prostitution, which
religion blesses and society praises, there seems to be no redress; but
for that which results as the almost inevitable sequence of one lapse of
chastity _we_, the pious, the virtuous, the irreproachable, are all to
blame. Who or what make it impossible for them to retrace their steps?
Do they ever have reason to hope that the family hearth will be open to
them if they go back? Prodigal sons may return, and are welcomed with
tears of joy and clasped by helping hands; but alas! how few parents
would go to meet a sinning daughter. Forgetting our Master's precepts,
forgetting our human frailty, forgetting our own weakness, we turn
scornfully from the weeping Magdalen, and leave her "alone with the
irreparable." Marriage is a holy and a necessary rite. We would
deprecate _any_ loosening of this great house-band of society; but we
do say that where it is the _only distinction_ between two women, one of
whom is an honored matron, and the other a Pariah and an outcast, there
is "something in the world amiss"--something beyond the cure of law or
legislation, and that they can only be reached by the authority of a
Christian press and the influence of Christian example.




THE STORY OF DAVID MORRISON.


I think it is very likely that many New Yorkers were familiar with the
face of David Morrison. It was a peculiarly guileless, kind face for a
man of sixty years of age; a face that looked into the world's face with
something of the confidence of a child. It had round it a little fringe
of soft, light hair, and above that a big blue Scotch bonnet of the Rob
Roryson fashion.

The bonnet had come with him from the little Highland clachan, where he
and his brother Sandy had scrambled through a hard, happy boyhood
together. It had sometimes been laid aside for a more pretentious
headgear, but it had never been lost; and in his old age and poverty had
been cheerfully--almost affectionately--resumed.

"Sandy had one just like it," he would say. "We bought them thegither in
Aberdeen. Twa braw lads were we then. I'm wonderin' where poor Sandy is
the day!"

So, if anybody remembers the little spare man, with the child-like,
candid face and the big blue bonnet, let them recall him kindly. It is
his true history I am telling to-day.

Davie had, as I said before, a hard boyhood. He knew what cold, hunger
and long hours meant as soon as he knew anything; but it was glorified
in his memory by the two central figures in it--a good mother, for whom
he toiled and suffered cheerfully, and a big brother who helped him
bravely over all the bits of life that were too hard for his young feet.

When the mother died, the lads sailed together for America. They had a
"far-awa'" cousin in New York, who, report said, had done well in the
plastering business, and Sandy never doubted but that one Morrison would
help another Morrison the wide world over. With this faith in their
hearts and a few shillings in their pockets, the two lads landed. The
American Morrison had not degenerated. He took kindly to his kith and
kin, and offered to teach them his own craft.

For some time the brothers were well content; but Sandy was of an
ambitious, adventurous temper, and was really only waiting until he felt
sure that wee Davie could take care of himself. Nothing but the Great
West could satisfy Sandy's hopes; but he never dreamt of exposing his
brother to its dangers and privations.

"You're nothing stronger than a bit lassie, Davie," he said, "and you're
no to fret if I don't take you wi' me. I'm going to make a big fortune,
and when I have gotten the gold safe, I'se come back to you, and we'll
spend it thegither dollar for dollar, my wee lad."

"Sure as death! You'll come back to me?"

"Sure as death, I'll come back to you, Davie!" and Sandy thought it no
shame to cry on his little brother's neck, and to look back, with a
loving, hopeful smile at Davie's sad, wistful face, just as long as he
could see it.

It was Davie's nature to believe and to trust. With a pitiful confidence
and constancy he looked for the redemption of his brother's promise.
After twenty years of absolute silence, he used to sit in the evenings
after his work was over, and wonder "how Sandy and he had lost each
other." For the possibility of Sandy forgetting him never once entered
his loyal heart.

He could find plenty of excuses for Sandy's silence. In the long years
of their separation many changes had occurred even in a life so humble
as Davie's. First, his cousin Morrison died, and the old business was
scattered and forgotten. Then Davie had to move his residence very
frequently; had even to follow lengthy jobs into various country places,
so that his old address soon became a very blind clew to him.

Then seven years after Sandy's departure the very house in which they
had dwelt was pulled down; an iron factory was built on its site, and
probably a few months afterward no one in the neighborhood could have
told anything at all about Davie Morrison. Thus, unless Sandy should
come himself to find his brother, every year made the probability of a
letter reaching him less and less likely.

Perhaps, as the years went by, the prospect of a reunion became more of
a dream than an expectation. Davie had married very happily, a simple
little body, not unlike himself, both in person and disposition. They
had one son, who, of course, had been called Alexander, and in whom
Davie fondly insisted, the lost Sandy's beauty and merits were
faithfully reproduced.

It is needless to say the boy was extravagantly loved and spoiled.
Whatever Davie's youth had missed, he strove to procure for "Little
Sandy." Many an extra hour he worked for this unselfish end. Life itself
became to him only an implement with which to toil for his boy's
pleasure and advantage. It was a common-place existence enough, and yet
through it ran one golden thread of romance.

In the summer evenings, when they walked together on the Battery, and in
winter nights, when they sat together by the stove, Davie talked to his
wife and child of that wonderful brother, who had gone to look for
fortune in the great West. The simplicity of the elder two and the
enthusiasm of the youth equally accepted the tale.

Somehow, through many a year, a belief in his return invested life with
a glorious possibility. Any night they might come home and find Uncle
Sandy sitting by the fire, with his pockets full of gold eagles, and no
end of them in some safe bank, besides.

But when the youth had finished his schooldays, had learned a trade and
began to go sweethearting, more tangible hopes and dreams agitated all
their hearts; for young Sandy Morrison opened a carpenter's shop in his
own name, and began to talk of taking a wife and furnishing a home.

He did not take just the wife that pleased his father and mother. There
was nothing, indeed, about Sallie Barker of which they could complain.
She was bright and capable, but they _felt_ a want they were not able to
analyze; the want was that pure unselfishness which was the ruling
spirit of their own lives.

This want never could be supplied in Sallie's nature. She did right
because it was her duty to do right, not because it gave her pleasure to
do it. When they had been married three years the war broke out, and
soon afterward Alexander Morrison was drafted for the army. Sallie, who
was daily expecting her second child, refused all consolation; and,
indeed, their case looked hard enough.

At first the possibility of a substitute had suggested itself; but a
family consultation soon showed that this was impossible without
hopelessly straitening both houses. Everyone knows that dreary silence
which follows a long discussion, that has only confirmed the fear of an
irremediable misfortune. Davie broke it in this case in a very
unexpected manner.

"Let me go in your place, Sandy. I'd like to do it, my lad. Maybe I'd
find your uncle. Who knows? What do you say, old wife? We've had more
than twenty years together. It is pretty hard for Sandy and Sallie, now,
isn't it?"

He spoke with a bright face and in a cheerful voice, as if he really was
asking a favor for himself; and, though he did not try to put his offer
into fine, heroic words, nothing could have been finer or more heroic
than the perfect self-abnegation of his manner.

The poor old wife shed a few bitter tears; but she also had been
practicing self-denial for a lifetime, and the end of it was that Davie
went to weary marches and lonely watches, and Sandy staid at home.

This was the break-up of Davie's life. His wife went to live with Sandy
and Sallie, and the furniture was mostly sold.

Few people could have taken these events as Davie did. He even affected
to be rather smitten with the military fever, and, when the parting
came, left wife and son and home with a cheerful bravery that was sad
enough to the one old heart who had counted its cost.

In Davie's loving, simple nature there was doubtless a strong vein of
romance. He was really in hopes that he might come across his long-lost
brother. He had no very clear idea as to localities and distances, and
he had read so many marvelous war stories that all things seemed
possible in its atmosphere. But reality and romance are wide enough
apart.

Davie's military experience was a very dull and weary one. He grew
poorer and poorer, lost heart and hope, and could only find comfort for
all his sacrifices in the thought that "at least he had spared poor
Sandy."

Neither was his home-coming what he had pictured it in many a reverie.
There was no wife to meet him--she had been three months in the grave
when he got back to New York--and going to his daughter-in-law's home
was not--well, it was not like going to his own house.

Sallie was not cross or cruel, and she was grateful to Davie, but she
did not _love_ the old man.

He soon found that the attempt to take up again his trade was hopeless.
He had grown very old with three years' exposure and hard duty. Other
men could do twice the work he could, and do it better. He must step out
from the ranks of skilled mechanics and take such humble positions as
his failing strength permitted him to fill.

Sandy objected strongly to this at first. "He could work for both," he
said, "and he thought father had deserved his rest."

But Davie shook his head--"he must earn his own loaf, and he must earn
it now, just as he could. Any honest way was honorable enough." He was
still cheerful and hopeful, but it was noticeable that he never spoke of
his brother Sandy now; he had buried that golden expectation with many
others. Then began for Davie Morrison the darkest period of his life. I
am not going to write its history.

It is not pleasant to tell of a family sinking lower and lower in spite
of its brave and almost desperate efforts to keep its place--not
pleasant to tell of the steps that gradually brought it to that pass,
when the struggle was despairingly abandoned, and the conflict narrowed
down to a fight with actual cold and hunger.

It is not pleasant, mainly, because in such a struggle many a lonely
claim is pitilessly set aside. In the daily shifts of bare life, the
tender words that bring tender acts are forgotten. Gaunt looks,
threadbare clothes, hard day-labor, sharp endurance of their children's
wants, made Sandy and Sallie Morrison often very hard to those to whom
they once were very tender.

David had noticed it for many months. He could see that Sallie counted
grudgingly the few pennies he occasionally required. His little
newspaper business had been declining for some years; people took fewer
papers, and some did not pay for those they did take. He made little
losses that were great ones to him, and Sallie had long been saying it
would "be far better for father to give up the business to Jamie; he is
now sixteen and bright enough to look after his own."

This alternative David could not bear to think of; and yet all through
the summer the fear had constantly been before him. He knew how Sallie's
plans always ended; Sandy was sure to give into them sooner or later,
and he wondered if into their minds had ever come the terrible thought
which haunted his own--_would they commit him, then, to the care of
public charities?_

"We have no time to love each other," he muttered, sadly, "and my bite
and sup is hard to spare when there is not enough to go round. I'll
speak to Sandy myself about it--poor lad! It will come hard on him to
say the first word."

The thought once realized began to take shape in his mind, and that
night, contrary to his usual custom, he could not go to sleep. Sandy
came in early, and the children went wearily off to bed. Then Sallie
began to talk on the very subject which lay so heavy on his own heart,
and he could tell from the tone of the conversation that it was one that
had been discussed many times before.

"He only made bare expenses last week and there's a loss of seventy
cents this week already. Oh, Sandy, Sandy! there is no use putting off
what is sure to come. Little Davie had to do without a drink of coffee
to-night, and _his_ bread, you know, comes off theirs at every meal. It
is very hard on us all!"

"I don't think the children mind it, Sallie. Every one of them loves the
old man--God bless him! He was a good father to me."

"I would love him, too, Sandy, if I did not see him eating my children's
bread. And neither he nor they get enough. Sandy, do take him down
to-morrow, and tell him as you go the strait we are in. He will be
better off; he will get better food and every other comfort. You must do
it, Sandy; I can bear this no longer."

"It's getting near Christmas, Sallie. Maybe he'll get New Year's
presents enough to put things straight. Last year they were nearly
eighteen dollars, you know."

"Don't you see that Jamie could get that just as well? Jamie can take
the business and make something of it. Father is letting it get worse
and worse every week. We should have one less to feed, and Jamie's
earnings besides. Sandy, _it has got to be_! Do it while we can make
something by the step."

"It is a mean, dastardly step, Sallie. God will never forgive me if I
take it," and David could hear that his son's voice trembled.

In fact, great tears were silently dropping from Sandy's eyes, and his
father knew it, and pitied him, and thanked God that the lad's heart was
yet so tender. And after this he felt strangely calm, and dropped into a
happy sleep.

In the morning he remembered all. He had not heard the end of the
argument, but he knew that Sallie would succeed; and he was neither
astonished nor dismayed when Sandy came home in the middle of the day
and asked him to "go down the avenue a bit."

He had determined to speak first and spare Sandy the shame and the
sorrow of it; but something would not let him do it. In the first
place, a singular lightness of heart came over him; he noticed all the
gay preparations for Christmas, and the cries and bustle of the streets
gave him a new sense of exhilaration. Sandy fell almost unconsciously
into his humor. He had a few cents in his pocket, and he suddenly
determined to go into a cheap restaurant and have a good warm meal with
his father.

Davie was delighted at the proposal and gay as a child; old memories of
days long past crowded into both men's minds, and they ate and drank,
and then wandered on almost happily. Davie knew very well where they
were going, but he determined now to put off saying a word until the
last moment. He had Sandy all to himself for this hour; they might never
have such another; Davie was determined to take all the sweetness of it.

As they got lower down the avenue, Sandy became more and more silent;
his eyes looked straight before him, but they were brimful of tears, and
the smile with which he answered Davie's pleasant prattle was almost
more pitiful than tears.

At length they came in sight of a certain building, and Sandy gave a
start and shook himself like a man waking out of a sleep. His words were
sharp, his voice almost like that of a man in mortal danger, as he
turned Davie quickly round, and said:

"We must go back now, father. I will not go another step this road--no,
by heaven! though I die for it!"

"Just a little further, Sandy."

And Davie's thin, childlike face had an inquiry in it that Sandy very
well understood.

"No, no, father, no further on this road, please God!"

Then he hailed a passing car, and put the old man tenderly in it, and
resolutely turned his back upon the hated point to which he had been
going.

Of course he thought of Sallie as they rode home, and the children and
the trouble there was likely to be. But somehow it seemed a light thing
to him. He could not helping nodding cheerfully now and then to the
father whom he had so nearly lost; and, perhaps, never in all their
lives had they been so precious to each other as when, hand-in-hand,
they climbed the dark tenement stair together.

Before thy reached the door they heard Sallie push a chair aside
hastily, and come to meet them. She had been crying, too, and her very
first words were, "Oh, father!' I am so glad!--so glad!"

She did not say what for, but Davie took her words very gratefully, and
he made no remark, though he knew she went into debt at the grocery for
the little extras with which she celebrated his return at supper. He
understood, however, that the danger was passed, and he went to sleep
that night thanking God for the love that had stood so hard a trial and
come out conqueror.

The next day life took up its dreary tasks again, but in Davie's heart
there was a strange presentiment of change, and it almost angered the
poor, troubled, taxed wife to see him so thoughtlessly playing with the
children. But the memory of the wrong she had nursed against him still
softened and humbled her, and when he came home after carrying round his
papers, she made room for him at the stove, and brought him a cup of
coffee and a bit of bread and bacon.

Davie's eyes filled, and Sallie went away to avoid seeing them. So then
he took out a paper that he had left and began to read it as he ate and
drank.

In a few minutes a sudden sharp cry escaped him. He put the paper in his
pocket, and, hastily resuming his old army cloak and Scotch bonnet, went
out without a word to anyone.

The truth was that he had read a personal notice which greatly disturbed
him. It was to the effect that, "If David Morrison, who left Aberdeen in
18--, was still alive, and would apply to Messrs. Morgan & Black, Wall
street, he would hear of something to his advantage."

His long-lost brother was the one thought in his heart. He was going
now to hear something about Sandy.

"He said 'sure as death,' and he would mind that promise at the last
hour, if he forgot it before; so, if he could not come, he'd doubtless
send, and this will be his message. Poor Sandy! there was never a lad
like him!"

When he reached Messrs. Morgan & Black's, he was allowed to stand
unnoticed by the stove a few minutes, and during them his spirits sank
to their usual placid level. At length some one said:

"Well, old man, what do _you_ want?"

"I am David Morrison, and I just came to see what _you_ wanted."

"Oh, you are David Morrison! Good! Go forward--I think you will find
out, then, what we want."

He was not frightened, but the man's manner displeased him, and, without
answering, he walked toward the door indicated, and quietly opened it.

An old gentleman was standing with his back to the door, looking into
the fire, and one rather younger, was writing steadily away at a desk.
The former never moved; the latter simply raised his head with an
annoyed look, and motioned to Davie to close the door.

"I am David Morrison, sir."

"Oh, Davie! Davie! And the old blue bonnet, too! Oh, Davie! Davie,
lad!"

As for Davie, he was quite overcome. With a cry of joy so keen that it
was like a sob of pain, he fell fainting to the floor. When he became
conscious again he knew that he had been very ill, for there were two
physicians by his side, and Sandy's face was full of anguish and
anxiety.

"He will do now, sir. It was only the effect of a severe shock on a
system too impoverished to bear it. Give him a good meal and a glass of
wine."

Sandy was not long in following out this prescription, and during it
what a confiding session these two hearts held! Davie told his sad
history in his own unselfish way, making little of all his sacrifices,
and saying a great deal about his son Sandy, and Sandy's girls and boys.

But the light in his brother's eyes, and the tender glow of admiration
with which he regarded the unconscious hero, showed that he understood
pretty clearly the part that Davie had always taken.

"However, I am o'erpaid for every grief I ever had, Sandy," said Davie,
in conclusion, "since I have seen your face again, and you're just
handsomer than ever, and you eight years older than me, too."

Yes, it was undeniable that Alexander Morrison was still a very
handsome, hale old gentleman; but yet there was many a trace of labor
and sorrow on his face; and he had known both.

For many years after he had left Davie, life had been a very hard battle
to him. During the first twenty years of their separation, indeed, Davie
had perhaps been the better off, and the happier of the two.

When the war broke out, Sandy had enlisted early, and, like Davie,
carried through all its chances and changes the hope of finding his
brother. Both of them had returned to their homes after the struggle
equally hopeless and poor.

But during the last eleven years fortune had smiled on Sandy. Some call
of friendship for a dead comrade led him to a little Pennsylvania
village, and while there he made a small speculation in oil, which was
successful. He resolved to stay there, rented his little Western farm,
and went into the oil business.

"And I have saved thirty thousand dollars, hard cash, Davie. Half of it
is yours, and half mine. See! Fifteen thousand has been entered from
time to time in your name. I told you, Davie, that when I came back we
would share dollar for dollar, and I would not touch a cent of your
share no more than I would rob the United States Treasury."

It was a part of Davie's simple nature that he accepted it without any
further protestation. Instinctively he felt that it was the highest
compliment he could pay his brother. It was as if he said: "I firmly
believed the promise you made me more than forty years ago, and I firmly
believe in the love and sincerity which this day redeems it." So Davie
looked with a curious joyfulness at the vouchers which testified to
fifteen thousand dollars lying in the Chemical Bank, New York, to the
credit of David Morrison; and then he said, with almost the delight of a
schoolboy:

"And what will you do wi' yours, Sandy?"

"I am going to buy a farm in New Jersey, Davie. I was talking with Mr.
Black about it this morning. It will cost twelve thousand dollars, but
the gentleman says it will be worth double that in a very few years. I
think that myself, Davie, for I went yesterday to take a good look at
it. It is never well to trust to other folks' eyes, you know."

"Then, Sandy, I'll go shares wi' you. We'll buy the farm together and
we'll live together--that is, if you would like it."

"What would I like better?"

"Maybe you have a wife, and then--"

"No, I have no wife, Davie. She died nearly thirty years ago. I have no
one but you."

"And we will grow small fruits, and raise chickens and have the finest
dairy in the State, Sandy."

"That is just my idea, Davie."

Thus they talked until the winter evening began to close in upon them,
and then Davie recollected that his boy, Sandy, would be more than
uneasy about him.

"I'll not ask you there to-night, brother; I want them all to myself
to-night. 'Deed, I've been selfish enough to keep this good news from
them so long."

So, with a hand-shake that said what no words could say, the brothers
parted, and Davie made haste to catch the next up-town car. He thought
they never had traveled so slowly; he was half inclined several times to
get out and run home.

When he arrived there the little kitchen was dark, but there was a fire
in the stove and wee Davie--his namesake--was sitting, half crying,
before it.

The child lifted his little sorrowful face to his grandfather's, and
tried to smile as he made room for him in the warmest place.

"What's the matter, Davie?"

"I have had a bad day, grandfather. I did not sell my papers, and Jack
Dacey gave me a beating besides; and--and I really do think my toes are
frozen off."

Then Davie pulled the lad on to his knee, and whispered

"Oh, my wee man, you shall sell no more papers. You shall have braw new
clothes, and go to school every day of your life. Whist! yonder comes
mammy."

Sallie came in with a worried look, which changed to one of reproach
when she saw Davie.

"Oh, father, how could you stay abroad this way? Sandy is fair daft
about you, and is gone to the police stations, and I don't know where--"

Then she stopped, for Davie had come toward her, and there was such a
new, strange look on his face that it terrified her, and she could only
say: "Father! father! what is it?"

"It is good news, Sallie. My brother Sandy is come, and he has just
given me fifteen thousand dollars; and there is a ten-dollar bill, dear
lass, for we'll have a grand supper to-night, please God."

By and by they heard poor Sandy's weary footsteps on the stair, and
Sallie said:

"Not a word, children. Let grandfather tell your father."

Davie went to meet him, and, before he spoke, Sandy saw, as Sallie had
seen, that his father's countenance was changed, and that something
wonderful had happened.

"What is the matter, father?"

"Fifteen thousand dollars is the matter, my boy; and peace and comfort
and plenty, and decent clothes and school for the children, and a happy
home for us all in some nice country place."

When Sandy heard this he kissed his father, and then covering his face
with his hands, sobbed out:

"Thank God! thank God!"

It was late that night before either the children or the elders could go
to sleep. Davie told them first of the farm that Sandy and he were going
to buy together, and then he said to his son:

"Now, my dear lad, what think you is best for Sallie and the children?"

"You say, father, that the village where you are going is likely to grow
fast."

"It is sure to grow. Two lines of railroad will pass through it in a
month."

"Then I would like to open a carpenter's shop there. There will soon be
work enough; and we will rent some nice little cottage, and the children
can go to school, and it will be a new life for us all. I have often
dreamed of such a chance, but I never believed it would come true."

But the dream came more than true. In a few weeks Davie and his brother
were settled in their new home, and in the adjoining village Alexander
Morrison, junior, had opened a good carpenter and builder's shop, and
had begun to do very well.

Not far from it was the coziest of old stone houses, and over it Sallie
presided. It stood among great trees, and was surrounded by a fine fruit
garden, and was prettily furnished throughout; besides which, and best
of all, _it was their own_--a New Year's gift from the kindest of
grandfathers and uncles. People now have got well used to seeing the
Brothers Morrison.

They are rarely met apart. They go to market and to the city together.
What they buy they buy in unison, and every bill of sale they give bears
both their names. Sandy is the ruling spirit, but Davie never suspects,
for Sandy invariably says to all propositions, "If my brother David
agrees, I do," or, "If brother David is satisfied, I have no more to
say," etc.

Some of the villagers have tried to persuade them that they must be
lonely, but they know better than that. Old men love a great deal of
quiet and of gentle meandering retrospection; and David and Sandy have
each of them forty years' history to tell the other. Then they are both
very fond of young Sandy and the children.

Sandy's projects and plans and building contracts are always well talked
over at the farm before they are signed, and the children's lessons and
holidays, and even their new clothes, interest the two old men almost as
much as they do Sallie.

As for Sallie, you would scarcely know her. She is no longer cross with
care and quarrelsome with hunger. I always did believe that prosperity
was good for the human soul, and Sallie Morrison proves the theory. She
has grown sweet tempered in its sunshine, is gentle and forbearing to
her children, loving and grateful to her father-in-law, and her
husband's heart trusts in her.

Therefore let all those fortunate ones who are in prosperity give
cheerfully to those who ask of them. It will bring a ten-fold blessing
on what remains, and the piece of silver sent out on its pleasant errand
may happily touch the hand that shall bring the giver good fortune
through all the years of life.




TOM DUFFAN'S DAUGHTER.


Tom Duffan's cabinet-pictures are charming bits of painting; but you
would cease to wonder how he caught such delicate home touches if you
saw the room he painted in; for Tom has a habit of turning his wife's
parlor into a studio, and both parlor and pictures are the better for
the habit.

One bright morning in the winter of 1872 he had got his easel into a
comfortable light between the blazing fire and the window, and was
busily painting. His cheery little wife--pretty enough in spite of her
thirty-seven years--was reading the interesting items in the morning
papers to him, and between them he sung softly to himself the favorite
tenor song of his favorite opera. But the singing always stopped when
the reading began; and so politics and personals, murders and music,
dramas and divorces kept continually interrupting the musical despair of
"Ah! che la morte ognora."

But even a morning paper is not universally interesting, and in the very
middle of an elaborate criticism on tragedy and Edwin Booth, the parlor
door partially opened, and a lovelier picture than ever Tom Duffan
painted stood in the aperture--a piquant, brown-eyed girl, in a morning
gown of scarlet opera flannel, and a perfect cloud of wavy black hair
falling around her.

"Mamma, if anything on earth can interest you that is not in a
newspaper, I should like to know whether crimps or curls are most
becoming with my new seal-skin set."

"Ask papa."

"If I was a picture, of course papa would know; but seeing I am only a
poor live girl, it does not interest him."

"Because, Kitty, you never will dress artistically."

"Because, papa, I must dress fashionably. It is not my fault if artists
don't know the fashions. Can't I have mamma for about half an hour?"

"When she has finished this criticism of Edwin Booth. Come in, Kitty; it
will do you good to hear it."

"Thank you, no, papa; I am going to Booth's myself to-night, and I
prefer to do my own criticism." Then Kitty disappeared, Mrs. Duffan
skipped a good deal of criticism, and Tom got back to his "Ah! che la
morte ognora" much quicker than the column of printed matter warranted.

"Well, Kitty child, what do you want?"

"See here."

"Tickets for Booth's?"

"Parquette seats, middle aisle; I know them. Jack always does get just
about the same numbers."

"Jack? You don't mean to say that Jack Warner sent them?"

Kitty nodded and laughed in a way that implied half a dozen different
things.

"But I thought that you had positively refused him, Kitty?"

"Of course I did mamma--I told him in the nicest kind of way that we
must only be dear friends, and so on."

"Then why did he send these tickets?"

"Why do moths fly round a candle? It is my opinion both moths and men
enjoy burning."

"Well, Kitty, I don't pretend to understand this new-fashioned way of
being 'off' and 'on' with a lover at the same time. Did you take me from
papa simply to tell me this?"

"No; I thought perhaps you might like to devote a few moments to papa's
daughter. Papa has no hair to crimp and no braids to make. Here are all
the hair-pins ready, mamma, and I will tell you about Sarah Cooper's
engagement and the ridiculous new dress she is getting."

It is to be supposed the bribe proved attractive enough, for Mrs. Duffan
took in hand the long tresses, and Kitty rattled away about wedding
dresses and traveling suits and bridal gifts with as much interest as if
they were the genuine news of life, and newspaper intelligence a kind of
grown-up fairy lore.

But anyone who saw the hair taken out of crimps would have said it was
worth the trouble of putting it in; and the face was worth the hair, and
the hair was worth the exquisite hat and the rich seal-skins and the
tantalizing effects of glancing silk and beautiful colors. Depend upon
it, Kitty Duffan was just as bright and bewitching a life-sized picture
as anyone could desire to see; and Tom Duff an thought so, as she
tripped up to the great chair in which he was smoking and planning
subjects, for a "good-by" kiss.

"I declare, Kitty! Turn round, will you? Yes, I declare you are dressed
in excellent taste. All the effects are good. I wouldn't have believed
it."

"Complimentary, papa. But 'I told you so.' You just quit the antique,
and take to studying _Harper's Bazar_ for effects; then your women will
look a little more natural."

"Natural? Jehoshaphat! Go way, you little fraud!"

"I appeal to Jack. Jack, just look at the women in that picture of
papa's, with the white sheets draped about them. What do they look
like?"

"Frights, Miss Kitty."

"Of course they do. Now, papa."

"You two young barbarians!" shouted Tom, in a fit of laughter; for Jack
and Kitty were out in the clear frosty air by this time, with the fresh
wind at their backs, and their faces steadily set toward the busy bustle
and light of Broadway. They had not gone far when Jack said, anxiously,
"You haven't thought any better of your decision last Friday night,
Kitty, I am afraid."

"Why, no, Jack. I don't see how I can, unless you could become an Indian
Commissioner or a clerk of the Treasury, or something of that kind. You
know I won't marry a literary man under any possible circumstances. I'm
clear on that subject, Jack."

"I know all about farming, Kitty, if that would do."

"But I suppose if you were a farmer, we should have to live in the
country. I am sure that would not do."

Jack did not see how the city and farm could be brought to terms; so he
sighed, and was silent.

Kitty answered the sigh. "No use in bothering about me, Jack. You ought
to be very glad I have been so honest. Some girls would have 'risked
you, and in a week, you'd have been just as miserable!"

"You don't dislike me, Kitty?"

"Not at all. I think you are first-rate."

"It is my profession, then?"

"Exactly."

"Now, what has it ever done to offend you?"

"Nothing yet, and I don't mean it ever shall. You see, I know Will
Hutton's wife: and what that woman endures! Its just dreadful."

"Now, Kitty!"

"It is Jack. Will reads all his fine articles to her, wakes her up at
nights to listen to some new poem, rushes away from the dinner table to
jot down what he calls 'an idea,' is always pointing out 'splendid
passages' to her, and keeps her working just like a slave copying his
manuscripts and cutting newspapers to pieces. Oh, it is just dreadful!"

"But she thoroughly enjoys it."

"Yes, that is such a shame. Will has quite spoiled her. Lucy used to be
real nice, a jolly, stylish girl. Before she was married she was
splendid company; now, you might just as well mope round with a book."

"Kitty, I'd promise upon my honor--at the altar, if you like--never to
bother you with anything I write; never to say a word about my
profession."

"No, no, sir! Then you would soon be finding some one else to bother,
perhaps some blonde, sentimental, intellectual 'friend.' What is the use
of turning a good-natured little thing like me into a hateful dog in the
manger? I am not naturally able to appreciate you, but if you were
_mine_, I should snarl and bark and bite at any other woman who was."

Jack liked this unchristian sentiment very much indeed. He squeezed
Kitty's hand and looked so gratefully into her bright face that she was
forced to pretend he had ruined her glove.

"I'll buy you boxes full, Kitty; and, darling, I am not very poor; I am
quite sure I could make plenty of money for you."

"Jack, I did not want to speak about money; because, if a girl does not
go into raptures about being willing to live on crusts and dress in
calicos for love, people say she's mercenary. Well, then, I am
mercenary. I want silk dresses and decent dinners and matinees, and I'm
fond of having things regular; it's a habit of mine to like them all the
time. Now I know literary people have spasms of riches, and then spasms
of poverty. Artists are just the same. I have tried poverty
occasionally, and found its uses less desirable than some people tell us
they are."

"Have you decided yet whom and what you will marry, Kitty?"

"No sarcasm, Jack. I shall marry the first good honest fellow that
loves me and has a steady business, and who will not take me every
summer to see views."

"To see views?"

"Yes. I am sick to death of fine scenery and mountains, 'scarped and
jagged and rifted,' and all other kinds. I've seen so many grand
landscapes, I never want to see another. I want to stay at the Branch or
the Springs, and have nice dresses and a hop every night. And you know
papa _will_ go to some lonely place, where all my toilettes are thrown
away, and where there is not a soul to speak to but famous men of one
kind or another."

Jack couldn't help laughing; but they were now among the little crush
that generally gathers in the vestibule of a theatre, and whatever he
meant to say was cut in two by a downright hearty salutation from some
third party.

"Why, Max, when did you get home?"

"To-day's steamer." Then there were introductions and a jingle of merry
words and smiles that blended in Kitty's ears with the dreamy music, the
rustle of dresses, and perfume of flowers, and the new-comer was gone.

But that three minutes' interview was a wonderful event to Kitty Duffan,
though she did not yet realize it. The stranger had touched her as she
had never been touched before. His magnetic voice called something into
being that was altogether new to her; his keen, searching gray eyes
claimed what she could neither understand nor withhold. She became
suddenly silent and thoughtful; and Jack, who was learned in love lore,
saw in a moment that Kitty had fallen in love with his friend Max
Raymond.

It gave him a moment's bitter pang; but if Kitty was not for him, then
he sincerely hoped Max might win her. Yet he could not have told whether
he was most pleased or angry when he saw Max Raymond coolly negotiate a
change of seats with the gentleman on Kitty's right hand, and take
possession of Kitty's eyes and ears and heart. But there is a great deal
of human nature in man, and Jack behaved, upon the whole, better than
might have been expected.

For once Kitty did not do all the talking. Max talked, and she listened;
Max gave opinions, and she indorsed them; Max decided, and she
submitted. It was not Jack's Kitty at all. He was quite relieved when
she turned round in her old piquant way and snubbed him.

But to Kitty it was a wonderful evening--those grand old Romans walking
on and off the stage, the music playing, the people applauding and the
calm, stately man on her right hand explaining this and that, and
looking into her eyes in such a delicious, perplexing way that past and
present were all mingled like the waving shadows of a wonderful dream.

She was in love's land for about three hours; then she had to come back
into the cold frosty air, the veritable streets, and the unmistakable
stone houses. But it was hardest of all to come back and be the old
radiant, careless Kitty.

"Well, pussy, what of the play?" asked Tom Duffan; "you cut ----'s
criticism short this morning. Now, what is yours?"

"Oh, I don't know papa. The play was Shakespeare's, and Booth and
Barrett backed him up handsomely."

"Very fine criticism indeed, Kitty. I wish Booth and Barrett could hear
it."

"I wish they could; but I am tired to death now. Good night, papa; good
night, mamma. I'll talk for twenty in the morning."

"What's the matter with Kitty, mother?"

"Jack Warner, I expect."

"Hum! I don't think so."

"Men don't know everything, Tom."

"They don't know anything about women; their best efforts in that line
are only guesses at truth."

"Go to bed, Tom Duffan; you are getting prosy and ridiculous. Kitty will
explain herself in the morning."

But Kitty did not explain herself, and she daily grew more and more
inexplicable. She began to read: Max brought the books, and she read
them. She began to practice: Max liked music, and wanted to sing with
her. She stopped crimping her hair: Max said it was unnatural and
inartistic. She went to scientific lectures and astronomical lectures
and literary societies: Max took her.

Tom Duffan did not quite like the change, for Tom was of that order of
men who love to put their hearts and necks under a pretty woman's foot.
He had been so long used to Kitty dominant, to Kitty sarcastic, to Kitty
willful, to Kitty absolute, that he could not understand the new Kitty.

"I do not think our little girl is quite well, mother," he said one day,
after studying his daughter reading the _Endymion_ without a yawn.

"Tom, if you can't 'think' to better purpose, you had better go on
painting. Kitty is in love."

"First time I ever saw love make a woman studious and sensible."

"They are uncommon symptoms; nevertheless, Kitty's in love. Poor child!"

"With whom?"

"Max Raymond;" and the mother dropped her eyes upon the ruffle she was
pleating for Kitty's dress, while Tom Duffan accompanied the new-born
thought with his favorite melody.

Thus the winter passed quickly and happily away. Greatly to Kitty's
delight, before its close Jack found the "blonde, sentimental,
intellectual friend," who could appreciate both him and his writings;
and the two went to housekeeping in what Kitty called "a large dry-goods
box." The merry little wedding was the last event of a late spring, and
when it was over the summer quarters were an imperative question.

"I really don't know what to do, mother," said Tom. "Kitty vowed she
would not go to the Peak this year, and I scarcely know how to get along
without it."

"Oh, Kitty will go. Max Raymond has quarters at the hotel lower down."

"Oh, oh! I'll tease the little puss."

"You will do nothing of the kind, Tom, unless you want to go to Cape May
or the Branch. They both imagine their motives undiscovered; but you
just let Kitty know that you even suspect them, and she won't stir a
step in your direction."

Here Kitty, entering the room, stopped the conversation. She had a
pretty lawn suit on, and a Japanese fan in her hand. "Lawn and fans,
Kitty," said Tom: "time to leave the city. Shall we go to the Branch, or
Saratoga?"

"Now, papa, you know you are joking; you always go to the Peak."

"But I am going with you to the seaside this summer, Kitty. I wish my
little daughter to have her whim for once."

"You are better than there is any occasion for, papa. I don't want
either the Branch or Saratoga this year. Sarah Cooper is at the Branch
with her snobby little husband and her extravagant toilettes; I'm not
going to be patronized by her. And Jack and his learned lady are at
Saratoga. I don't want to make Mrs. Warner jealous, but I'm afraid I
couldn't help it. I think you had better keep me out of temptation."

"Where must we go, then?"

"Well, I suppose we might as well go to the Peak. I shall not want many
new dresses there; and then, papa, you are so good to me all the time,
you deserve your own way about your holiday."

And Tom Duffan said, "_Thank you, Kitty_," in such a peculiar way that
Kitty lost all her wits, blushed crimson, dropped her fan, and finally
left the room with the lamest of excuses. And then Mrs. Duffan said,
"Tom, you ought to be ashamed of yourself! If men know a thing past
ordinary, they must blab it, either with a look or a word or a letter; I
shouldn't wonder if Kitty told you to-night she was going to the
Branch, and asked you for a $500 check--serve you right, too."

But if Kitty had any such intentions, Max Raymond changed them. Kitty
went very sweetly to the Peak, and two days afterward Max Raymond,
straying up the hills with his fishing rod, strayed upon Tom Duffan,
sketching. Max did a great deal of fishing that summer, and at the end
of it Tom Duffan's pretty daughter was inextricably caught. She had no
will but Max's will, and no way but his way. She had promised him never
to marry any one but him; she had vowed she would love him, and only
him, to the end of her life.

All these obligations without a shadow or a doubt from the prudent
little body. Yet she knew nothing of Max's family or antecedents; she
had taken his appearance and manners, and her father's and mother's
respectful admission of his friendship, as guarantee sufficient. She
remembered that Jack, that first night in the theatre, had said
something about studying law together; and with these items, and the
satisfactory fact that he always had plenty of money, Kitty had given
her whole heart, without conditions and without hostages.

Nor would she mar the placid measure of her content by questioning; it
was enough that her father and mother were satisfied with her choice.
When they returned to the city, congratulations, presents and
preparations filled every hour. Kitty's importance gave her back a great
deal of her old dictatorial way. In the matter of toilettes she would
not suffer even Max to interfere. "Results were all men had to do with,"
she said; "everything was inartistic to them but a few yards of linen
and a straight petticoat."

Max sighed over the flounces and flutings and lace and ribbons, and
talked about "unadorned beauty;" and then, when Kitty exhibited results,
went into rhapsodies of wonder and admiration. Kitty was very triumphant
in those days, but a little drop of mortification was in store for her.
She was exhibiting all her pretty things one day to a friend, whose
congratulations found their climax in the following statement:

"Really, Kitty, a most beautiful wardrobe! and such an extraordinary
piece of luck for such a little scatter-brain as you! Why, they do say
that Mr. Raymond's last book is just wonderful."

"_Mr. Raymond's last book_!" And Kitty let the satin-lined morocco case,
with all its ruby treasures, fall from her hand.

"Why, haven't you read it, dear? So clever, and all that, dear."

Kitty had tact enough to turn the conversation; but just as soon as her
visitor had gone, she faced her mother, with blazing eyes and cheeks,
and said, "What is Max's business--a lawyer?"

"Gracious, Kitty! What's the matter? He is a scientist, a professor, and
a great--"

"_Writer?_"

"Yes."

"Writes books and magazine articles and things?"

"Yes."

Kitty thought profoundly for a few moments, and then said, "_I thought
so._ I wish Jack Warner was at home."

"What for?"

"Only a little matter I should like to have out with him; but it will
keep."

Jack, however, went South without visiting New York, and when he
returned, pretty Kitty Duffan had been Mrs. Max Raymond for two years.
His first visit was to Tom Duffan's parlor-studio. He was painting and
singing and chatting to his wife as usual. It was so like old times that
Jack's eyes filled at the memory when he asked where and how was Mrs.
Raymond.

"Oh, the professor had bought a beautiful place eight miles from the
city. Kitty and he preferred the country. Would he go and see them?"

Certainly Jack would go. To tell the truth, he was curious to see what
other miracles matrimony had wrought upon Kitty. So he went, and came
back wondering.

"Really, dear," says Mrs. Jack Warner, the next day, "how does the
professor get along with that foolish, ignorant little wife of his?"

"Get along with her? Why, he couldn't get along without her! She sorts
his papers, makes his notes and quotations, answers his letters, copies
his manuscripts, swears by all he thinks and says and does, through
thick and thin, by day and night. It's wonderful, by Jove! I felt
spiteful enough to remind her that she had once vowed that nothing on
earth should ever induce her to marry a writer."

"What did she say?"

"She turned round in her old saucy manner, and answered, 'Jack Warner,
you are as dark as ever. I did not marry the writer, I married _the
man_.' Then I said, 'I suppose all this study and reading and writing is
your offering toward the advancement of science and social
regeneration?'"

"What then?"

"She laughed in a very provoking way, and said, 'Dark again, Jack; _it
is a labor of love_.'"

"Well I never!"

"Nor I either."




THE HARVEST OF THE WIND.

CHAPTER I.

     "As a city broken down and without walls, so is he that hath no
     rule over his own spirit."


    "My soul! Master Jesus, my soul!
      My soul!
    Dar's a little thing lays in my heart,
    An' de more I dig him de better he spring:
      My soul!
    Dar's a little thing lays in my heart
    An' he sets my soul on fire:
      My soul!
    Master Jesus, my soul! my soul!"

The singer was a negro man, with a very, black but very kindly face; and
he was hoeing corn in the rich bottom lands of the San Gabriel river as
he chanted his joyful little melody. It was early in the morning, yet he
rested on his hoe and looked anxiously toward the cypress swamp on his
left hand.

"I'se mighty weary 'bout Massa Davie; he'll get himself into trouble ef
he stay dar much longer. Ole massa might be 'long most any time now." He
communed with himself in this strain for about five minutes, and then
threw his hoe across his shoulder, and picked a road among the hills of
growing corn until he passed out of the white dazzling light of the
field into the grey-green shadows of the swamp. Threading his way among
the still black bayous, he soon came to a little clearing in the
cypress.

Here a young man was standing in an attitude of expectancy--a very
handsome man clothed in the picturesque costume of a ranchero. He leaned
upon his rifle, but betrayed both anger and impatience in the rapid
switching to and fro of his riding-whip. "Plato, she has not come!" He
said it reproachfully, as if the negro was to blame.

"I done tole you, Massa Davie, dat Miss Lulu neber do noffing ob dat
kind; ole massa 'ticlarly objects to Miss Lulu seeing you at de present
time."

"My father objects to every one I like."

"Ef Massa Davie jist 'lieve it, ole massa want ebery thing for his
good."

"You oversize that statement considerably, Plato. Tell my father, if he
asks you, that I am going with Jim Whaley, and give Miss Lulu this
letter."

"I done promise ole massa neber to gib Miss Lulu any letter or message
from you, Massa Davie."

In a moment the youth's handsome face was flaming with ungovernable
passion, and he lifted his riding-whip to strike.

"For de Lord Jesus' sake don't strike, Massa Davie! Dese arms done
carry you when you was de littlest little chile. Don't strike me!"

"I should be a brute if I did, Plato;" but the blow descended upon the
trunk of the tree against which he had been leaning with terrible force.
Then David Lorimer went striding through the swamp, his great bell spurs
chiming to his uneven, crashing tread.

Plato looked sorrowfully after him. "Poor Massa Davie! He's got de
drefful temper; got it each side ob de house--father and mother, bofe. I
hope de good Massa above will make 'lowances for de young man--got it
bofe ways, he did." And he went thoughtfully back to his work, murmuring
hopes and apologies for the man he loved, with all the forgiving
unselfishness of a prayer in them.

In some respects Plato was right. David Lorimer had inherited, both from
father and mother, an unruly temper. His father was a Scot, dour and
self-willed; his mother had been a Spanish woman, of San Antonio--a
daughter of the grandee family of Yturris. Their marriage had not been a
happy one, and the fiery emotional Southern woman had fretted her life
away against the rugged strength of the will which opposed hers. David
remembered his mother well, and idolized her memory; right or wrong, he
had always espoused her quarrel, and when she died she left, between
father and son, a great gulf.

He had been hard to manage then, but at twenty-two he was beyond all
control, excepting such as his cousin, Lulu Yturri, exercised over him.
But this love, the most pure and powerful influence he acknowledged, had
been positively forbidden. The elder Lorimer declared that there had
been too much Spanish blood in the family; and it is likely his motives
commended themselves to his own conscience. It was certain that the mere
exertion of his will in the matter gave him a pleasure he would not
forego. Yet he was theoretically a religious man, devoted to the special
creed he approved, and rigidly observing such forms of worship as made
any part of it. But the law of love had never yet been revealed to him;
he had feared and trembled at the fiery Mount of Sinai, but he had not
yet drawn near to the tenderer influences of Calvary.

He was a rich man also. Broad acres waved with his corn and cotton, and
he counted his cattle on the prairies by tens of thousands; but nothing
in his mode of life indicated wealth. The log-house, stretching itself
out under gigantic trees, was of the usual style of Texan
architecture--broad passages between every room, sweeping from front to
rear; and low piazzas, festooned with flowery vines, shading it on every
side. All around it, under the live oaks, were scattered the negro
cabins, their staring whitewash looking picturesque enough under the
hanging moss and dark green foliage. But, simple as the house was, it
was approached by lordly avenues, shaded with black-jack and sweet gum
and chincapin, interwoven with superb magnolias and gorgeous tulip
trees.

The Scot in a foreign country, too, often steadily cultivates his
national peculiarities. James Lorimer was a Scot of this type. As far as
it was possible to do so in that sunshiny climate, he introduced the
grey, sombre influence of the land of mists and east winds. His
household was ruled with stern gravity; his ranch was a model of good
management; and though few affected his society, he was generally relied
upon and esteemed; for, though opinionated, egotistical, and austere,
there was about him a grand honesty and a sense of strength that would
rise to every occasion.

And so great is the influence of any genuine nature, that David loved
his father in a certain fashion. The creed he held was a hard one; but
when he called his family and servants together, and unflinchingly
taught it, David, even in his worst moods, was impressed with his
sincerity and solemnity. There was between them plenty of ground on
which they could have stood hand in hand, and learned to love one
another; but a passionate authority on the one hand, and a passionate
independence on the other, kept them far apart.

Shortly before my story opens there had been a more stubborn quarrel
than usual, and James Lorimer had forbidden his son to enter his house
until he chose to humble himself to his father's authority. Then David
joined Jim Whaley, a great cattle drover, and in a week they were on the
road to New Mexico with a herd of eight thousand.

This news greatly distressed James Lorimer. He loved his son better than
he was aware of. There was a thousand deaths upon such a road; there was
a moral danger in the companionship attending such a business, which he
regarded with positive horror. The drove had left two days when he heard
of its departure; but such droves travel slowly, and he could overtake
it if he wished to do so. As he sat in the moonlight that night,
smoking, he thought the thing over until he convinced himself that he
ought to overtake it. Even if Davie would not return with him, he could
tell him of his danger, and urge him to his duty and thus, at any rate,
relieve his own conscience of a burden.

Arriving at this conclusion, he looked up and saw his niece Lulu
leaning against one of the white pilasters supporting the piazza. He
regarded her a moment curiously, as one may look at a lovely picture.
The pale, sensitive face, the swaying, graceful figure, the flowing
white robe, the roses at her girdle, were all sharply revealed by the
bright moonlight, and nothing beautiful in them escaped his notice. He
was just enough to admit that the temptation to love so fair a woman
must have been a great one to David. He had himself fallen into just
such a bewitching snare, and he believed it to be his duty to prevent a
recurrence of his own married life at any sacrifice.

"Lulu!"

"Yes, uncle."

"Have you spoken with or written to Davie lately?"

"Not since you forbid me."

He said no more. He began wondering if, after all, the girl would not
have been better than Jim Whaley. In a dim way it struck him that people
for ever interfering with destiny do not always succeed in their
intentions. It was an unusual and unpractical vein of thought for James
Lorimer, and he put it uneasily away. Still over and over came back the
question, "What if Lulu's influence would have been sufficient to have
kept David from the wild reckless men with whom he was now consorting?"
For the first time in his life he consciously admitted to himself that
he might have made a mistake.

The next morning he was early in the saddle. The sky was blue and clear,
the air full of the fresh odor of earth and clover and wild flowers. The
swallows were making a jubilant twitter, the larks singing on the edge
of the prairie--the glorious prairie, which the giants of the unflooded
world had cleared off and leveled for the dwelling-place of Liberty. In
his own way he enjoyed the scene; but he could not, as he usually did,
let the peace of it sink into his heart. He had suddenly become aware
that he had an unpleasant duty to perform, and to shirk a duty was a
thing impossible to him. Until he had obeyed the voice of Conscience,
all other voices would fail to arrest his interest or attention.

He rode on at a steady pace, keeping the track very easily, and thinking
of Lulu in a persistent way that was annoying to him. Hitherto he had
given her very little thought. Half reluctantly he had taken her into
his household when she was four years of age, and she had grown up there
with almost as little care as the vines which year by year clambered
higher over the piazzas. As for her beauty he had thought no more of it
than he did of the beauty of the magnolias which sheltered his doorstep.
Mrs. Lorimer had loved her niece, and he had not interfered with the
affection. They were both Yturris; it was natural that they should
understand one another.

But his son was of a different race, and the inheritor of his own
traditions and prejudices. A Scot from his own countryside had recently
settled in the neighborhood, and at the Sabbath gathering he had seen
and approved his daughter. To marry his son David to Jessie Kennedy
appeared to him a most desirable thing, and he had considered its
advantages until he could not bear to relinquish the idea. But when both
fathers had settled the matter, David had met the question squarely, and
declared he would marry no woman but his cousin Lulu. It was on this
subject father and son had quarrelled and parted; but for all that,
James Lorimer could not see his only son taking a high road to ruin, and
not make an effort to save him.

At sundown he rested a little, but the trail was so fresh he determined
to ride on. He might reach David while they were camping, and then he
could talk matters over with more ease and freedom. Near midnight the
great white Texas moon flooded everything with a light wondrously soft,
but clear as day, and he easily found Whaley's camp--a ten-acre patch of
grass on the summit of some low hills.

The cattle had all settled for the night, and the "watch" of eight men
were slowly riding in a circle around them. Lorimer was immediately
challenged; and he gave his name and asked to see the captain. Whaley
rose at once, and confronted him with a cool, civil movement of his hand
to his hat. Then Lorimer observed the man as he had never done before.
He was evidently not a person to be trifled with. There was a fixed look
about him, and a deliberate coolness, sufficiently indicating a
determined character; and a belt around his waist supported a
six-shooter and revealed the glittering hilt of a bowie knife.

"Captain, good night. I wish to speak with my son, David Lorimer."

"Wall, sir, you can't do it, not by no manner of means, just yet. David
Lorimer is on watch till midnight."

He was perfectly civil, but there was something particularly irritating
in the way Whaley named David Lorimer. So the two men sat almost silent
before the camp fire until midnight. Then Whaley said, "Mr. Lorimer,
your son is at liberty now. You'll excuse me saying that the shorter you
make your palaver the better it will suit me."

Lorimer turned angrily, but Whaley was walking carelessly away; and the
retort that rose to his lips was not one to be shouted after a man of
Whaley's desperate character with safety. As his son approached him he
was conscious of a thrill of pleasure in the young man's appearance.

Physically, he was all he could desire. No Lorimer that ever galloped
through Eskdale had the national peculiarities more distinctively. He
was the tall, fair Scot, and his father complacently compared his yellow
hair and blue eyes with the "dark, deil-like beauty" of Whaley.

"Davie," and he held out his hand frankly, "I hae come to tak ye back to
your ain hame. Let byganes be byganes, and we'll start a new chapter o'
life, my lad. Ye'll try to be a gude son, and I'll aye be a gude father
to ye."

It was a great deal for James Lorimer to say; and David quite
appreciated the concession, but he answered--

"Lulu, father? I cannot give her up."

"Weel, weel, if ye are daft to marry a strange woman, ye must e'en do
sae. It is an auld sin, and there have aye been daughters o' Heth to
plague honest houses wi'. But sit down, my lad; I came to talk wi' ye
anent some decenter way of life than this."

The talk was not altogether a pleasant one; but both yielded something,
and it was finally agreed that as soon as Whaley could pick up a man to
fill Davie's place Davie should return home. Lorimer did not linger
after this decision. Whaley's behavior had offended him and without the
ceremony of a "good-bye," he turned his horse's head eastward again.

Picking up a man was not easy; they certainly had several offers from
emigrants going west, and from Mexicans on the route, but Whaley seemed
determined not to be pleased. He disliked Lorimer and was deeply
offended at him interfering with his arrangements. Every day that he
kept David was a kind of triumph to him. "He might as well have asked me
how I'd like my drivers decoyed away. I like a man to be on the square,"
he grumbled. And he said these and similar things so often, that David
began to feel it impossible to restrain his temper.

Anger, fed constantly by spiteful remarks and small injustices, grows
rapidly; and as they approached the Apache mountains, the men began to
notice a fixed tightening of the lips, and a stern blaze in the young
Scot's eyes, which Whaley appeared to delight in intensifying.

"Thar'll be mischief atween them two afore long," remarked an old
drover; "Lorimer is gittin' to hate the captain with such a vim that
he's no appetite for his food left."

"It'll be a fair fight, and one or both'll get upped; that's about it."

At length they met a party of returning drovers, and half a dozen men
among them were willing to take David's place. Whaley had no longer any
pretence for detaining him. They were at the time between two long, low
spurs of hills, enclosing a rich narrow valley, deep with ripened grass,
gilded into flickering gold by the sun and the dewless summer days. All
the lower ridges were savagely bald and hot--a glen, paved with gold and
walled with iron. Oh, how the sun did beat and shiver, and shake down
into the breathless valley!

The cattle were restless, and the men had had a hard day. David was
weary; his heart was not in the work; he was glad it was his last watch.
It began at ten o'clock, and would end at midnight. The weather was
gloomy, and the few stars which shone between the rifts of driving
clouds just served to outline the mass of sleeping cattle.

The air also was surcharged with electricity, though there had been no
lightning.

"I wouldn't wonder ef we have a 'run' to-night," said one of the men.
"I've seen a good many stampedes, and they allays happens on such nights
as this one."

"Nonsense!" replied David. "If a cayote frightens one in a drove the
panic Spreads to all. Any night would do for a 'run.'"

"'Taint so, Lorimer. Ef you've a drove of one thousand or of ten
thousand it's all the same; the panic strikes every beast at the same
moment. It's somethin' in the air; 'taint my business to know what. But
you look like a 'run' yourself, restless and hot, and as ef somethin'
was gitting 'the mad' up in you. I noticed Whaley is 'bout the same. I'd
keep clear of him, ef I was you."

"No, I won't. He owes me money, and I'll make him pay me!"

"Don't! Thar, I've warned you, David Lorimer, and that let's me out.
Take your own way now."

For half an hour David pondered this caution, and something in his own
heart seconded it. But when the trial of his temper came he turned a
deaf ear to every monition. Whaley went swaggering by him, and as he
passed issued an unnecessary order in a very insolent manner. David
asked pointedly, "Were you speaking to me, Captain?"

"I was."

"Then don't you dare to do it again, sir; never, as long as you live!"

Before the words were out of his mouth, every one of the drove of eight
thousand were on their feet like a flash of lightning; every one of
them exactly at the same instant. With a rush like a whirlwind leveling
a forest, they were off in the darkness.

The wild clatter, the crackling of a river of horns, and the thundering
of hoofs, was deafening. Whaley, seeing eighty thousand dollars' worth
of cattle running away from him, turned with a fierce imprecation, and
gave David a passionate order "to ride up to the leaders," and then he
sprang for his own mule.

David's time was now fully out, and he drew his horse's rein tight and
stood still.

"Coward!" screamed Whaley; "try and forget for an hour that you have
Spanish blood in you."

A pistol shot answered the taunt. Whaley staggered a second, then fell
without a word. The whole scene had not occupied a minute; but it was a
minute that branded itself on the soul of David Lorimer. He gazed one
instant on the upturned face of his slain enemy, and then gave himself
up to the wild passion of the pursuit.

By the spectral starlight he could see the cattle outlined as a black,
clattering, thundering stream, rushing wildly on, and every instant
becoming wilder. But David's horse had been trained in the business; he
knew what the matter was, and scarce needed any guiding. Dashing along
by the side of the stampede, they soon overtook the leaders and joined
the men, who were gradually pushing against the foremost cattle on the
left so as to turn them to the right. When once the leaders were turned
the rest blindly followed and thus, by constantly turning them to the
right, the leaders were finally swung clear around, and overtook the fag
end of the line.

Then they rushed around in a circle, the centre of which soon closed up,
and they were "milling;" that is, they had formed a solid wheel, and
were going round and round themselves in the same space of ground. Men
who had noticed how very little David's heart had been in his work were
amazed to see the reckless courage he displayed. Round and round the
mill he flew, keeping the outside stock from flying off at a tangent,
and soothing and quieting the beasts nearest to him with his voice. The
"run" was over as suddenly as it commenced, and the men, breathless and
exhausted, stood around the circle of panting cattle.

"Whar's the Captain?" said one; "he gin'rally soop'rintends a job like
this himself."

"And likes to do it. Who's seen the Captain? Hev you, Lorimer?"

"He was in camp when I started. My time was up just as the 'run'
commenced."

No more was said; indeed, there was little opportunity for
conversation. The cattle were to watch; it was still dark; the men were
weary with the hard riding and the unnatural pitch to which their voices
had been raised. David felt that he must get away at once; any moment a
messenger from the camp might bring the news of Whaley's murder; and he
knew well that suspicion would at once rest upon him.

He offered to return to camp and report "all right," and the offer was
accepted; but, at the first turn, he rode away into the darkness of a
belt of timber. The cayotes howled in the distance; there was a rush of
unclean night birds above him, and the growling of panther cats in the
underwood. But in his soul there was a terror and a darkness that made
all natural terrors of small account. His own hands were hateful to him.
He moaned out loudly like a man in an agony. He measured in every
moments' space the height from which he had fallen; the blessings from
which he must be an outcast, if by any means he might escape the
shameful punishment of his deed. He remembered at that hour his father's
love, the love that had so finely asserted itself when the occasion for
it came. Lulu's tenderness and beauty, the hope of home and children,
the respect of his fellow-men, all sacrificed for a moment's passionate
revenge. He stood face to face with himself, and, dropping the reins,
cowered down full of terror and grief at the future which he had evoked.
Within hopeless sight of Hope and Love and Home, he was silent for hours
gazing despairingly after the life which had sailed by him, and not
daring--

    "--to search through what sad maze,
    Thenceforth his incommunicable ways
    Follow the feet of death."


CHAPTER II.

     "--and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death." James i.
     15.

Blessed are they who have seen Nature in those rare, ineffable moments
when she appears to be asleep--when the stars, large and white, bend
stilly over the dreaming earth, and not a breath of wind stirs leaf or
flower. On such a night James Lorimer sat upon his south verandah
smoking; and his niece Lulu, white and motionless as the magnolia
flowers above her, mused the hour away beside him. There were little
ebony squads of negroes huddled together around the doors of their
quarters, but they also were singularly quiet. An angel of silence had
passed by no one was inclined to disturb the tranquil calm of the
dreaming earth.

There is nothing good in this life which Time does not improve. In ten
days the better feelings which had led James Lorimer to seek his son in
the path of moral and physical danger had grown as Divine seed does
grow. This very night, in the scented breathless quiet, he was longing
for David's return, and forming plans through which the future might
atone for the past. Gradually the weary negroes went into the cabins,
rolled themselves in their blankets and fell into that sound, dreamless
sleep which is the compensation of hard labor. Only Lulu watched and
thought with him.

Suddenly she stood up and listened. There was a footstep in the avenue,
and she knew it. But why did it linger, and what dreary echo of sorrow
was there in it?

"That is David's step, uncle; but what is the matter? Is he sick?"

Then they both saw the young man coming slowly through the gloom, and
the shadow of some calamity came steadily on before him. Lulu went to
the top of the long flight of white steps, and put out her hands to
greet him. He motioned her away with a woeful and positive gesture, and
stood with hopeless yet half defiant attitude before his father.

In a moment all the new tenderness was gone.

In a voice stern and scornful he asked, "Well, sir, what is the matter?
What hae ye been doing now?"

"I have shot Whaley!"

The words were rather breathed than spoken, but they were distinctly
audible. The father rose and faced his wretched son.

Lulu drew close to him, and asked, in a shocked whisper, "Dead?"

"Dead!"

"But you had a good reason, David; I know you had. He would have shot
you?--it was in self-defence?--it was an accident? Speak, dear!"

"He called me a coward, and--"

"You shot him! Then you are a coward, sir!" said Lorimer, sternly; "and
having made yourself fit for the gallows, you are a double coward to
come here and force upon me the duty of arresting you. Put down your
rifle, sir!"

Lulu uttered a long low wail. "Oh, David, my love! why did you come
here? Did you hope for pity or help in his heart? And what can I do
Davie, but suffer with you?" But she drew his face down and kissed it
with a solemn tenderness that taught the wretched man, in one moment,
all the blessedness of a woman's devotion, and all the misery that the
indulgence of his ungovernable temper had caused him.

"We will hae no more heroics, Lulu. As a magistrate and a citizen it is
my duty to arrest a murderer on his ain confession."

"Your duty!" she answered, in a passion of scorn. "Had you done your
duty to David in the past years, this duty would not have been to do.
Your duty or anything belonging to yourself, has always been your sole
care. Wrong Davie, wrong me, slay love outright, but do your duty, and
stand well with the world and yourself! Uncle, you are a dreadful
Christian!"

"How dare you judge me, Lulu? Go to your own room at once!"

"David, dearest, farewell! Fly!--you will get no pity here. Fly!"

"Sit down, sir, and do not attempt to move!"

"I am hungry, thirsty, weary and wretched, and at your mercy, father. Do
as you will with me." And he laid his rifle upon the table.

Lorimer looked at the hopeless figure that almost fell into the chair
beside him, and his first feeling was one of mingled scorn and pity.

"How did it happen? Tell me the truth. I want neither excuses nor
deceptions."

"I have no desire to make them. There was a 'run,' just as my time was
out. Whaley, in an insolent manner, ordered me to help turn the
leaders. I did not move. He called me a coward, and taunted me with my
Spanish blood--it was my dear mother's."

"That is it," answered Lorimer, with an anger all the more terrible for
its restraint; "it is the Spanish blood wi' its gasconade and foolish
pride."

"Father! You have a right to give me up to the hangman; but you have no
right to insult me."

The next moment he fell senseless at his father's feet. It was the
collapse of consciousness under excessive physical exhaustion and mental
anguish; but Lorimer, who had never seen a man in such extremity,
believed it to be death. A tumult of emotions rushed over him, but
assistance was evidently the first duty, and he hastened for it. First
he sent the housekeeper Cassie to her young master, then he went to the
quarters to arouse Plato.

When he returned, Lulu and Cassie were kneeling beside the unconscious
youth. "You have murdered him!" said Lulu, bitterly; and for a moment he
felt something of the remorseful agony which had driven the criminal at
his feet into a short oblivion. But very soon there was a slight
reaction, and the father was the first to see it. "He has only fainted;
bring some wine here!" Then he remembered the weakness of the voice
which had said, "I am hungry, and thirsty, and weary and wretched."

When David opened his eyes again his first glance was at his father.
There was something in that look that smote the angry man to his heart
of hearts. He turned away, motioning Plato to follow him. But even when
he had reached his own room and shut his door, he could not free himself
from the influence evoked by that look of sorrowful reproach.

Plato stood just within the door, nervously dangling his straw hat. He
was evidently balancing some question in his own mind, and the
uncertainty gave a queer restlessness to every part of his body.

"Plato, you are to watch the young man down-stairs; he is not to be
allowed to leave the house."

"Yes, sar."

"He has committed a great crime, and he must abide the consequences."

No answer.

"You understand that, Plato?"

"Dunno, sar. I mighty sinful ole man myself. Dunno bout de
consequences."

"Go, and do as I bid you!"

When he was alone he rose slowly and locked his door. He wanted to do
right, but he was like a man in the fury and darkness of a great
tempest: he could not see any road at all. There was a Bible on his
dressing-table, and he opened it; but the verses mingled together, and
the sense of everything seemed to escape him. The hand of the Great
Father was stretched out to him in the dark, but he could not find it.
He knew that at the bottom of his heart lay a wish that David would
escape from justice. He knew that a selfish shame about his own fair
character mingled with his father's love; his motives and feelings were
so mixed that he did not dare to bring them, in their pure truthfulness,
to the feet of God; for as yet he did not understand that "like as a
father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him;" he
thought of the Divine Being as one so jealous for His own rights and
honor that He would have the human heart a void, so that he might reign
there supremely. So all that terrible night he stood smitten and
astonished on a threshold he could not pass.

In another room the question was being in a measure solved for him.
Cassie brought in meat and bread and wine, and David ate, and felt
refreshed. Then the love of life returned, and the terror of a shameful
death; and he laid his hand upon his rifle and looked round to see what
chance of escape his father had left him. Plato stood at the door, Lulu
sat by his side, holding his hand. On her face there was an expression
of suffering, at once defiant and despairing--a barren suffering,
without hope. They had come to that turn on their unhappy road when they
had to bid each other "Farewell!" It was done very sadly, and with few
words.

"You must go now, beloved."

He held her close to his heart and kissed her solemnly and silently. The
next moment she turned on him from the open door a white, anguished
face. Then he was alone with Plato.

"Plato, I must go now. Will you saddle the brown mare for me?"

"She am waiting, Massa David. I tole Cassie to get her ready, and some
bread and meat, and _dis_, Massa Davie, if you'll 'blige ole Plato."
Then he laid down a rude bag of buckskin, holding the savings of his
lifetime.

"How much is there, Plato?"

"Four hundred dollars, sar. Sorry it am so little."

"It was for your freedom, Plato."

"I done gib dat up, Massa Davie. I'se too ole now to git de rest. Ef you
git free, dat is all I want."

They went quietly out together. It was not long after midnight. The
brown mare stood ready saddled in the shadow, and Cassie stood beside
her with a small bag, holding a change of linen and some cooked food.
The young man mounted quickly, grasped the kind hands held out to him,
and then rode away into the darkness. He went softly at first, but when
he reached the end of the avenue at a speed which indicated his terror
and his mental suffering.

Cassie and Plato watched him until he became an indistinguishable black
spot upon the prairie; then they turned wearily towards the cabins. They
had seen and shared the long sorrow and discontent of the household;
they hardly expected anything but trouble in some form or other. Both
were also thinking of the punishment they were likely to receive; for
James Lorimer never failed to make an example of evil-doers; he would
hardly be disposed to pass over their disobedience.

Early in the morning Plato was called by his master. There was little
trace of the night of mental agony the latter had passed. He was one of
those complete characters who join to perfect physical health a mind
whose fibres do not easily show the severest strain.

"Tell Master David to come here."

"Massa David, sar! Massa David done gone sar!" The old man's lips were
trembling, but otherwise his nervous restlessness was over. He looked
his master calmly in the face.

"Did I not tell you to stop him?"

"Ef de Lord in heaven want him stopped, Massa James, He'll send the
messenger--Plato could not do it!"

"How did he go?"

"On de little brown mare--his own horse done broke all up."

"How much money did you give him?"

"Money, sar?"

"How much? Tell the truth."

"Four hundred dollars."

"That will do. Tell Cassie I want my breakfast."

At breakfast he glanced at Lulu's empty chair, but said nothing. In the
house all was as if no great sin and sorrow had darkened its threshold
and left a stain upon its hearthstone. The churning and cleaning was
going on as usual. Only Cassie was quieter, and Lulu lay, white and
motionless, in the little vine-shaded room that looked too cool and
pretty for grief to enter. The unhappy father sat still all day,
pondering many things that he had not before thought of. Every footfall
made his heart turn sick, but the night came, and there was no further
bad news.

On the second day he went into Lulu's room, hoping to say a word of
comfort to her. She listened apathetically, and turned her face to the
wall with a great sob. He began to feel some irritation in the
atmosphere of misery which surrounded him. It was very hard to be made
so wretched for another's sin. The thought in an instant became a
reproach. Was he altogether innocent? The second and third days passed;
he began to be sure then that David must have reached a point beyond the
probability of pursuit.

On the fourth day he went to the cotton field. He visited the overseer's
house, he spent the day in going over accounts and making estimates. He
tried to forget that _something_ had happened which made life appear a
different thing. In the grey, chill, misty evening he returned home. The
negroes were filing down the long lane before him, each bearing their
last basket of cotton--all of them silent, depressed with their
weariness, and intensely sensitive to the melancholy influence of the
autumn twilight.

Lorimer did not care to pass them. He saw them, one by one, leave their
cotton at the ginhouse, and trail despondingly off to their cabins. Then
he rode slowly up to his own door. A man sat on the verandah smoking. At
the sight of him his heart fell fathoms deep.

"Good evening." He tried to give his voice a cheerful welcoming sound,
but he could not do it; and the visitor's attitude was not encouraging.

"Good evening, Lorimer. I'm right sorry to tell you that you will be
wanted on some unpleasant business very early to-morrow morning."

He tried to answer, but utterly failed; his tongue was as dumb as his
soul was heavy. He only drew a chair forward and sat down.

"Fact is your son is in a tighter place than any man would care for. I
brought him up to Sheriff Gillelands' this afternoon. Perhaps he can
make it out a case of 'justifiable homicide'--hope he can. He's about as
likely a young man as I ever saw."

Still no answer.

"Well, Lorimer, I think you're right. Talking won't help things, and may
make them a sight worse. You'll be over to Judge Lepperts' in the
morning?--say about ten o'clock."

"Yes. Will you have some supper?"

"No; this is not hungry work. My pipe is more satisfactory under the
circumstances. I'll have to saddle up, too. There's others to see yet.
Is there any one particular you'd like on the jury?"

"No. You must do your duty, Sheriff."

He heard him gallop away, and stood still, clasping and unclasping his
hands in a maze of anguish. David at Sheriff Gillelands'! David to be
tried for murder in the morning! What could he do? If David had not
confessed to the shooting of Whaley, would he be compelled to give his
evidence? Surely, conscience would not require so hard a duty of him.

At length he determined to go and see David before he decided upon the
course he ought to take. The sheriff's was only about three miles
distant. He rode over there at once. His son, with travel-stained
clothes and blood-shot hopeless eyes, looked up to see him enter. His
heart was full of a great love, but it was wronged, even at that hour,
by an irritation that would first and foremost assert itself. Instead of
saying, "My dear, dear lad!" the lament which was in his heart, he said,
"So this is the end of it, David?"

"Yes. It is the end."

"You ought not to have run away."

"No. I ought to have let you surrender me to justice; that would have
put you all right."

"I wasna thinking o' that. A man flying from justice is condemned by the
act."

"It would have made no matter. There is only one verdict and one end
possible."

"Have you then confessed the murder?"

He awaited the answer in an agony. It came with a terrible distinctness.
"Whaley lived thirty hours. He told. His brother-in-law has gone on with
the cattle. Four of the drivers are come back as witnesses. They are in
the house."

"But you have not yourself confessed?"

"Yes. I told Sheriff Gillelands I shot the man. If I had not done so you
would; I knew that. I have at least spared you the pain and shame of
denouncing your own son!"

"Oh, David, David! I would not. My dear lad, I would not! I would hae
gane to the end o' the world first. Why didna you trust me?"

"How could I, father?"

He let the words drop wearily, and covered his face with his hands.
After a pause, he said, "Poor Lulu! Don't tell her if you can help it,
until--all is over. How glad I am this day that my mother is dead!"

The wretched father could endure the scene no longer. He went into the
outer room to find out what hope of escape remained for his son. The
sheriff was full of pity, and entered readily into a discussion of
David's chances. But he was obliged to point out that they were
extremely small. The jury and the judge were all alike cattle men; their
sympathies were positively against everything likely to weaken the
discipline necessary in carrying large herds of cattle safely across the
continent. In the moment of extremest danger, David had not only
refused assistance, but had shot his employer.

"He called him a coward, and you'll admit that's a vera aggravating
name."

The sheriff readily admitted that under any ordinary circumstances in
Texas that epithet would justify a murder; "but," he added, "most any
Texan would say he was a coward to stand still and see eight thousand
head of cattle on the stampede. You'll excuse me, Lorimer, I'd say so
myself."

He went home again and shut himself in his room to think. But after many
hours, he was just as far as ever from any coherent decision. Justice!
Justice! Justice! The whole current of his spiritual and mental
constitution ran that road. Blood for blood; a life for a life; it was
meet and right, and he acknowledged it with bleeding heart and streaming
eyes. But, clear and distinct above the tumult of this current, he heard
something which made him cry out with an equally unhappy father of old,
"Oh, Absalom! My son, my son Absalom!"

Then came the accuser and boldly told him that he had neglected his
duty, and driven his son into the way of sin and death; and that the
seeds sown in domestic bickering and unkindness had only brought forth
their natural fruit. The scales fell from his eyes; all the past became
clear to him. His own righteousness was dreadful in his sight. He cried
out with his whole soul, "God be merciful! God be merciful!"

The darkest despairs are the most silent. All the night long he was only
able to utter that one heartbroken cry for pity and help. At the
earliest daylight he was with his son. He was amazed to find him calm,
almost cheerful. "The worst is over father," he said. "I have done a
great wrong; I acknowledge the justice of the punishment, and am willing
to suffer it."

"But after death! Oh, David, David--afterward!"

"I shall dare to hope--for Christ also has died, the just for the
unjust."

Then the father, with a solemn earnestness, spoke to his son of that
eternity whose shores his feet were touching. At this hour he would
shirk no truth; he would encourage no false hope. And David listened;
for this side of his father's character he had always had great respect,
and in those first hours of remorse following the murder, not the least
part of his suffering had been the fearful looking forward to the Divine
vengeance which he could never fly from. But there had been _One_ with
him that night, _One_ who is not very far from us at any time; and
though David had but tremblingly understood His voice, and almost feared
to accept its comfort, he was in those desperate circumstances when men
cannot reason and philosophize, when nothing remains for them but to
believe.

"Dinna get by the truth, my dear lad; you hae committed a great sin,
there is nae doubt o' that."

"But God's mercy, I trust, is greater."

"And you hae nothing to bring him from a' the years o' your life! Oh,
David, David!"

"I know," he answered sadly. "But neither had the dying thief. He only
believed. Father, this is the sole hope and comfort left me now. Don't
take it from me."

Lorimer turned away weeping; yes, and praying, too, as men must pray
when they stand powerless in the stress of terrible sorrows. At noon the
twelve men summoned dropped in one by one, and the informal court was
opened. David Lorimer admitted the murder, and explained the long
irritation and the final taunt which had produced it. The testimony of
the returned drovers supplemented the tragedy. If there was any excuse
to be made, it lay in the disgraceful epithet applied to David and the
scornful mention of his mother's race.

There was, however, an unfavorable feeling from the first. The elder
Lorimer, with his stern principles and severe manners, was not a popular
man. David's proud, passionate temper had made him some active enemies;
and there was not a man on the jury who did not feel as the sheriff had
honestly expressed himself regarding David's conduct at the moment of
the stampede. It touched all their prejudices and their interests very
nearly; not one of them was inclined to blame Whaley for calling a man a
coward who would not answer the demand for help at such an imperative
moment.

As to the Spanish element, it had always been an offence to Texans.
There were men on the jury whose fathers had died fighting it; beside,
there was that unacknowledged but positive contempt which ever attaches
itself to a race that has been subjugated. Long before the form of a
trial was over, David had felt the hopelessness of hope, and had
accepted his fate. Not so his father. He pleaded with all his soul for
his son's life. But he touched no heart there. The jury had decided on
the death-sentence before they left their seats.

And in that locality, and at that time, there was no delay in carrying
it out. It would be inconvenient to bring together again a sufficient
number of witnesses, and equally inconvenient to guard a prisoner for
any length of time. David was to die at sunset.

Three hours yet remained to the miserable father. He threw aside all
pride and all restraint. Remorse and tenderness wrung his heart. But
these last hours had a comfort no others in their life ever had. What
confessions of mutual faults were made! What kisses and forgivenesses
were exchanged! At last the two poor souls who had dwelt in the chill of
mistakes and ignorance knew that they loved each other. Sometimes the
Lord grants such sudden unfoldings to souls long closed. They are of
those royal compassions which astonish even the angels.

When his time was nearly over, David pushed a piece of paper toward his
father. "It is my last request," he said, looking into his face with
eyes whose entreaty was pathetic. "You must grant it, father, hard as it
is."

Lorimer's hand trembled as he took the paper, but his face turned pale
as ashes when he read the contents.

"I canna, I canna do it," he whispered.

"Yes, you will, father. It is the last favor I shall ask of you."

The request was indeed a bitter one; so bitter that David had not dared
to voice it. It was this--

"Father, be my executioner. Do not let me be hung. The rope is all I
dread in death; ere it touch me, let your rifle end my life."

For a few moments Lorimer sat like a man turned to stone. Then he rose
and went to the jury. They were sitting together under some mulberry
trees, smoking. Naturally silent, they had scarcely spoken since their
verdict. Grave, fierce men, they were far from being cruel; they had no
pleasure in the act which they believed to be their duty.

Lorimer went from one to the other and made known his son's request. He
pleaded, "That as David had shot Whaley, justice would be fully
satisfied in meting out the same death to the murderer as the victim."

But one man, a ranchero of great influence and wealth, answered that he
must oppose such a request. It was the rope, he thought, made the
punishment. He hoped no Texan feared a bullet. A clean, honorable death
like that was for a man who had never wronged his manhood. Every
rascally horse thief or Mexican assassin would demand a shot if they
were given a precedent. And arguments that would have been essentially
false in some localities had a compelling weight in that one. The men
gravely nodded their heads in assent, and Lorimer knew that any further
pleading was in vain. Yet when he returned to his son, he clasped his
hand and looked into his eyes, and David understood that his request
would be granted.

Just as the sun dropped the sheriff entered the room. He took the
prisoner's arm and walked quietly out with him. There was a coil of rope
on his other arm, and David cast his eyes on it with horror and
abhorrence, and then looked at his father; and the look was returned
with one of singular steadiness. When they reached the little grove of
mulberries, the men, one by one, laid down their pipes and slowly rose.
There was a large live oak at the end of the enclosure, and to it the
party walked.

Here David was asked "if he was guilty?" and he acknowledged the sin:
and when further asked "if he thought he had been fairly dealt with, and
deserved death?" he answered, "that he was quite satisfied, and was
willing to pay the penalty of his crime."

Oh, how handsome he looked at this moment to his heart-broken father!
His bare head was just touched by the rays of the setting sun behind
him; his fine face, calm and composed, wore even a faint air of
exultation. At this hour the travel-stained garments clothed him with a
touching and not ignoble pathos. Involuntarily they told of the weary
days and nights of despairing flight, which after all had been useless.

Lorimer asked if he might pray, and there was a simultaneous though
silent motion of assent. Every man bared his head, while the wretched
father repeated the few verses of entreaty and hope which at that awful
hour were his own strength and comfort. This service occupied but a few
minutes; just as it ended out of the dead stillness rose suddenly a
clear, joyful thrilling burst of song from a mocking bird in the
branches above. David looked up with a wonderful light on his face;
perhaps it meant more to him than anyone else understood.

The next moment the sheriff was turning back the flannel collar which
covered the strong, pillar-like throat. In that moment David sought his
father's eyes once more, smiled faintly, and called "Father! _Now_!" As
the words reached the father's ears, the bullet reached the son's heart.
He fell without a moan ere the rope had touched him. It was the father's
groan which struck every heart like a blow; and there was a grandeur of
suffering about him which no one thought of resisting.

He walked to his child's side, and kneeling down closed the eyes, and
wept and prayed over him as a mother over her first-born. They were all
fathers around him; not one of them but suffered with him. Silently they
untied their horses and rode away; no one had the heart to say a word of
dissent. If they had, Lorimer had reached a point far beyond care of
man's approval or disapproval in the matter; for a great sorrow is
indifferent to all outside itself.

When he lifted his head he was alone. The sheriff was waiting at the
house door, Plato stood at a little distance, weeping. He motioned to
him to approach, and in a few words understood that he had with him a
companion and a rude bier. They laid the body upon it, and the sheriff
having satisfied himself that the last penalty had been fully paid,
Lorimer was permitted to claim his dead. He took him up to his own room
and laid him on his own bed, and passed the night by his side. The dead
opened the eyes of the living, and in that solemn companionship he saw
all that he had been blind to for so many years. Then he understood what
it must be to sit in the silent halls of eternal despair, and count over
and over the wasted blessings of love and endure the agony of unavailing
repentance.

In the morning he knew he must tell Lulu all; and this duty he dreaded.
But in some way the girl already knew the full misery of the tragedy.
Part she had divined, and part she had gathered from the servants' faces
and words. She was quite aware _what_ was in her uncle's lonely room.
Just as he was thinking of the hard necessity of going to her, she came
to the door. For the first time in his life he called her "My daughter,"
and stooped and kissed her. He had a letter for her--David's dying
message of love. He put it in her hand, and left her alone with the
dead.

At sunrise a funeral took place. In that climate the necessity was an
urgent one. Plato had dug the grave under a tree in the little clearing
in the cypress swamp. It had been a favorite place of resort; there Lulu
had often brought her work or book, and passed long happy hours with the
slain youth. She followed his corpse to the grave in a tearless apathy,
more pitiful than the most frantic grief. Lorimer took her on his arm,
the servants in long single file, silent and terrified, walked behind
them. The sun was shining, but the chilly wind blew the withered leaves
across the still prostrate figure, as it lay upon the ground, where last
it had stood in all the beauty and unreasoning passion of youth.

When the last rites were over the servants went wailing home again,
their doleful, monotonous chant seeming to fill the whole spaces of air
with lamentation. But neither Lorimer nor Lulu spoke a word. The girl
was white and cold as marble, and absolutely irresponsive to her uncle's
unusual tenderness. Evidently she had not forgiven him. And as the
winter went wearily on she gradually drew more and more within her own
consciousness. Lorimer seldom saw her. She was soon very ill, and kept
her room entirely. He sent for eminent physicians, he surrounded her
with marks of thoughtful love and care; but quietly, as a flower fades,
she died.

One night she sent for him. "Uncle," she said, "I am going away very
soon, now. If I have been hard and unjust to you, forgive me. And I want
your promise about my sister's children; will you give me it?"

He winced visibly, and remained silent.

"There are six boys and two girls--they are poor, ignorant and unhappy.
They are under very bad influences. For David's sake and my sake you
must see that they are brought up right. There need be no mistakes this
time; for two wrecked lives you may save eight. You will do it, uncle?"

"I will do my best, dear."

"I know you will. Send Plato to San Antonio for them at once. You will
need company soon."

"Do you think you are dying, dear?"

"I know I am dying."

"And how is a' wi' you anent what is beyond death?"

She pointed with a bright smile to the New Testament by her side, and
then closed her eyes wearily. She appeared so exhausted that he could
press the question no further. And the next morning she had "gone
away"--gone so silently and peacefully that Aunt Cassie, who was sitting
by her side, knew not when she departed. He went and looked at her. The
fair young face had a look austere and sorrowful, as if life had been
too sore a burden for her. His anguish was great, but it was God's
doing. What was there for him to say?

The charge that she had left him he faithfully kept--not very cheerfully
at first, perhaps, and often feeling it to be a very heavy care; but he
persevered, and the reward came. The children grew and prospered; they
loved him, and he learned to love them, so much, finally, that he gave
them his own name, and suffered them to call him father.

As the country settled, and little towns grew up around him, the tragedy
of his earlier life was forgotten by the world, but it was ever present
to his own heart; for though love and sorrow mellowed and chastened the
stern creed in which he believed with all his soul, he had many an hour
of spiritual agony concerning the beloved ones who had died and made no
sign. Not till he got almost within the heavenly horizon did he
understand that the Divine love and mercy is without limitations; and
that He who could say, "Let there be light," could also say, "Thy sins
be forgiven thee;" and the pardoned child, or ever he was aware, be come
to the holy land: for--

    "Down in the valley of death
      A cross is standing plain;
    Where strange and awful the shadows sleep,
      And the ground has a deep red stain.
    This cross uplifted there
      Forbids, with voice Divine,
    Our anguished hearts to break for the dead
      Who have died and made no sign.
    As they turned at length from us,
      Dear eyes that were heavy and dim,
    May have met his look, who was lifted there,
      May be sleeping safe in Him."




THE SEVEN WISE MEN OF PRESTON.


Let me introduce to our readers seven of the wisest men of the present
century--the seven drafters and signers of the first teetotal pledge.

The movement originated in the mind of Joseph Livesey, and a short
consideration of the circumstances and surroundings of his useful career
will give us the best insight into the necessities and influences which
gave it birth. He was born near Preston, in Lancashire, in the year
1795; the beginning of an era in English history which scarcely has a
parallel for national suffering. The excitement of the French Revolution
still agitated all classes, and, commercial distress and political
animosities made still more terrible the universal scarcity of food and
the prostration of the manufacturing business.

His father and mother died early, and he was left to the charge of his
grandfather, who, unfortunately, abandoned his farm and became a cotton
spinner. Lancashire men had not then been whetted by daily attrition
with steam to their present keen and shrewd character, and the elder
Livesey lost all he possessed. The records of cotton printing and
spinning mention with honor the Messrs. Livesey, of Preston, as the
first who put into practice Bell's invention of cylindrical printing of
calicoes in 1785; but whether the firms are identical or not I have no
certain knowledge. It shows, however, that they were a race inclined to
improvements and ready to test an advance movement.

That Joseph Livesey's youth was a hard and bitter one there is no doubt.
The price of flour continued for years fabulously high; so much so that
wealthy people generally pledged themselves to reduce their use of it
one-third, and puddings or cakes were considered on any table, a sinful
extravagance. When the government was offering large premiums to farmers
for raising extra quantities and detailing soldiers to assist in
threshing it, poor bankrupt spinners must have had a hard struggle for a
bare existence.

Indeed, education was hardly thought possible, and, though Joseph
managed, "by hook or crook," to learn how to read, write and count a
little, it was through difficulties and discouragements that would have
been fatal to any ordinary intelligence or will.

Until he was twenty-one years of age he worked patiently at his loom,
which stood in one corner of a cellar, so cold and damp that its walls
were constantly wet. But he was hopeful, and even in those dark days
dared to fall in love. On attaining his majority, he received a legacy
of L30. Then he married the poor girl who had made brighter his hard
apprenticeship, and lived happily with her for fifty years.

But the troubles that had begun before his birth--and which did not
lighten until after the passing of the Reform Bill, in June, 1832--had
then attained a proportion which taxed the utmost energies of both
private charities and the national government.

The year of Joseph Livesey's marriage saw the passage of the Corn Laws,
and the first of those famous mass meetings in Peter's Field, near
Manchester, which undoubtedly molded the future temper and status of the
English weavers and spinners. From one of these meetings, the following
year, thousands of starving men started _en masse_ to London. They were
followed by the military and brought back for punishment or died
miserably on the road, though 500 of them reached Macclesfield and a
smaller number Derby.

But Livesey, though probably suffering as keenly as others, joined no
body of rioters. He borrowed a sovereign and bought two cheeses; then
cutting them up into small lots, he retailed them on the streets,
Saturday afternoons, when the men were released from work. The profit
from this small investment exceeding what it was possible for him to
make at his loom, he continued the trade, and from this small beginning
founded a business, and made a fortune which has enabled him to devote a
long life to public usefulness and benevolence.

But his little craft must have needed skillful piloting, for his family
increased rapidly during the disastrous years between 1816 and 1832; so
disastrous that in 1825-26 the Bank of England was obliged to authorize
the Chamber of Commerce to make loans to individuals carrying on large
works of from L500 to L10,000. Bankruptcies were enormous, trade was
everywhere stagnant, L60,000 were subscribed for meal and peas to feed
the starving, and the government issued 40,000 articles of clothing. The
quarrels between masters and spinners were more and more bitter, mills
were everywhere burnt, and at Ashton in one day 30,000 "hands" turned
out.

During these dreadful years every thoughtful person had noticed how much
misery and ill-will was caused by the constant thronging to public
houses, and temperance societies had been at work among the angry men of
the working classes. Joseph Livesey had been actively engaged in this
work. But these first efforts of the temperance cause were directed
entirely against spirits. The use of wine and ale was considered then a
necessity of life. Brewing was in most families as regular and important
a duty as baking; the youngest children had their mug of ale; and
clergymen were spoken of without reproach as "one," "two" or
"three-bottle men."

But Joseph Livesey soon became satisfied that these half measures were
doing no good at all, and in 1831 a little circumstance decided him to
take a stronger position. He had to go to Blackburn to see a person on
business; and, as a matter of course, whiskey was put on the table.
Livesey for the first time tasted it, and was very ill in consequence.
He had then a large family of boys, and both for their sakes and that of
others, he resolved to halt no longer between two opinions.

He spoke at once in all the temperance meetings of the folly of partial
reforms, pointed out the hundreds of relapses, and urged upon the
association the duty of absolute abstinence. His zeal warmed with his
efforts and he insisted that in the matter of drinking "the golden mean"
was the very sin for which the Laodicean Church had been cursed.

The disputes were very angry and bitter; far more so than we at this
day can believe possible, unless we take into account the universal
national habits and its poetic and domestic associations with every
phase of English life. But he gradually gained adherents to his views
though it was not until the following year he was able to take another
step forward.

It was on Thursday, August 23, 1832, that the first solemn pledge of
total abstinence was taken. That afternoon Joseph Livesey, pondering the
matter in his mind, saw John King pass his shop. He asked him to come in
and talk the subject over with him. Before they parted Livesey asked
King if he would join him in a pledge to abstain forever from all
liquors; and King said he would. Livesey then wrote out a form and,
laying it before King, said: "Thee sign it first, lad." King signed it,
Livesey followed him, and the two men clasped hands and stood pledged to
one of the greatest works humanity has ever undertaken.

A special meeting was then called, and after a stormy debate, the main
part of the audience left, a small number remaining to continue the
argument. But the end of it was that seven men came forward and drew up
and signed the following document, which is still preserved:

     "We agree to abstain from all liquors of an intoxicating quality,
     whether they be ale, porter, wine or ardent spirits, except as
     medicine.

     "JOHN GRATREX,
     EDWARD DICKINSON,
     JOHN BROADBENT,
     JNO. SMITH,
     JOSEPH LIVESEY,
     DAVID ANDERTON,
     JNO. KING."

All these reformers were virtually _working_ men, though most of them
rose to positions of respect and affluence. Still the humility of the
origin of the movement was long a source of contempt, and its members,
within my own recollection, had the stigma of vulgarity almost in right
of their convictions.

But God takes hands with good men's efforts, and the cause prospered
just where it was most needed--among the operatives and "the common
people." One of these latter, a hawker of fish, called Richard Turner,
stood, in a very amusing and unexpected way, sponsor for the society.
Richard was fluent of speech, and, if his language was the broadest
patois, it was, nevertheless, of the most convincing character. He
always spoke well, and, if authorized words failed him, readily coined
what he needed. One night while making a very fervent speech, he said:
"No half-way measures here. Nothing but the _te-te total_ will do."

Mr. Livesey at once seized the word, and, rising, proposed it as the
name of the society. The proposition was received with enthusiastic
cheering, and these "root and branch" temperance men were thenceforward
known as teetotalers. Richard remained all his life a sturdy advocate of
the cause, and when he died, in 1846, I made one of the hundreds and
thousands that crowded the streets of the beautiful town of Preston and
followed him to his grave. The stone above it chronicles shortly his
name and death, and the fact that he was the author of a word known now
wherever Christianity and civilization are known.




MARGARET SINCLAIR'S SILENT MONEY.


"It was ma luck, Sinclair, an' I couldna win by it."

"Ha'vers! It was David Vedder's whiskey that turned ma boat
tapsalteerie, Geordie Twatt."

"Thou had better blame Hacon; he turned the boat _Widdershins_ an' what
fule doesna ken that it is evil luck to go contrarie to the sun?"

"It is waur luck to have a drunken, superstitious pilot. Twatt, that
Norse blood i' thy veins is o'er full o' freets. Fear God, an' mind thy
wark, an' thou needna speir o' the sun what gate to turn the boat."

"My Norse blood willna stand ony Scot stirring it up, Sinclair. I come
o' a mighty kind--"

"Tush, man! Mules mak' an unco' full about their ancestors having been
horses. It has come to this, Geordie: thou must be laird o' theesel'
before I'll trust thee again with ony craft o' mine." Then Peter
Sinclair lifted his papers, and, looking the discharged sailor steadily
in the face, bid him "go on his penitentials an' think things o'er a
bit."

Geordie Twatt went sullenly out, but Peter was rather pleased with
himself; he believed that he had done his duty in a satisfactory manner.
And if a man was in a good temper with himself, it was just the kind of
even to increase his satisfaction. The gray old town of Kirkwall lay in
supernatural glory, the wondrous beauty of the mellow gloaming blending
with soft green and rosy-red spears of light that shot from east to
west, or charged upward to the zenith. The great herring fleet outside
the harbor was as motionless as "a painted _fleet_ upon a painted
ocean"--the men were sleeping or smoking upon the piers--not a foot fell
upon the flagged streets, and the only murmur of sound was round the
public fountains, where a few women were perched on the bowl's edge,
knitting and gossiping.

Peter Sinclair was, perhaps, not a man inclined to analyze such things,
but they had their influence over him; for, as he drifted slowly home in
his skiff, he began to pity Geordie's four motherless babies, and to
wonder if he had been as patient with him as he might have been. "An'
yet," he murmured, "there's the loss on the goods, an' the loss o' time,
and the boat to steek afresh forbye the danger to life! Na, na, I'm no
called upon to put life i' peril for a glass o' whiskey."

Then he lifted his head, and there, on the white sands, stood his
daughter Margaret. He was conscious of a great thrill of pride as he
looked at her, for Margaret Sinclair, even among the beautiful women of
the Orcades, was most beautiful of all. In a few minutes he had fastened
his skiff at a little jetty, and was walking with her over the springy
heath toward a very pretty house of white stone. It was his own house,
and he was proud of it also, but not half so proud of the house as of
its tiny garden; for there, with great care and at great cost, he had
managed to rear a few pansies, snowdrops, lilies of the valley, and
other hardy English flowers. Margaret and he stooped lovingly over them,
and it was wonderful to see how Peter's face softened, and how gently
the great rough hands, that had been all day handling smoked geese and
fish, touched these frail, trembling blossoms.

"Eh, lassie! I could most greet wi' joy to see the bonnie bit things;
when I can get time I'se e'en go wi' thee to Edinburgh; I'd like weel to
see such fields an' gardens an' trees as I hear thee tell on."

Then Margaret began again to describe the greenhouses, the meadows and
wheat fields, the forests of oaks and beeches she had seen during her
school days in Edinburgh. Peter listened to her as if she was telling a
wonderful fairy story, but he liked it, and, as he cut slice after slice
from his smoked goose, he enjoyed her talk of roses and apple-blossoms,
and smacked his lips for the thousandth time when she described a peach,
and said, "It tasted, father, as if it had been grown in the Garden of
Eden."

After such conversations Peter was always stern and strict. He felt an
actual anger at Adam and Eve; their transgression became a keenly
personal affair, for he had a very vivid sense of the loss they had
entailed upon him. The vague sense of wrong made him try to fix it, and,
after a short reflection, he said in an injured tone:

"I wonder when Ronald's coming hame again?"

"Ronald is all right, father."

"A' wrong, thou means, lassie. There's three vessels waiting to be
loaded, an' the books sae far ahint that I kenna whether I'm losing or
saving. Where is he?"

"Not far away. He will be at the Stones of Stennis this week some time
with an Englishman he fell in with at Perth."

"I wonder, now, was it for my sins or his ain that the lad has sic auld
world notions? There isna a pagan altar-stane 'tween John O'Groat's an'
Lambaness he doesna run after. I wish he were as anxious to serve in
the Lord's temple--I would build him a kirk an' a manse for it."

"We'll be proud of Ronald yet, father. The Sinclairs have been fighting
and making money for centuries: it is a sign of grace to have a scholar
and a poet at last among them."

Peter grumbled. His ideas of poetry were limited by the Scotch psalms,
and, as for scholarship, he asserted that the books were better kept
when he used his own method of tallies and crosses. Then he remembered
Geordie Twatt's misfortune, and had his little grumble out on this
subject: "Boat and goods might hae been a total loss, no to speak o' the
lives o' Geordie an' the four lads wi' him; an' a' for the sake o'
liquor!"

Margaret looked at the brandy bottle standing at her father's elbow,
and, though she did not speak, the look annoyed Peter.

"You arna to even my glass wi' his, lassie. I ken when to stop--Geordie
never does."

"It is a common fault in more things than drinking, father. When Magnus
Hay has struck the first blow he is quite ready to draw his dirk and
strike the last one; and Paul Snackole, though he has made gold and to
spare, will just go on making gold until death takes the balances out of
his hands. There are few folks that in all things offend not."

She looked so noble standing before him, so fair and tall, her hair
yellow as down, her eyes cool and calm and blue as night; her whole
attitude so serene, assured and majestic, that Peter rose uneasily, left
his glass unfinished, and went away with a very confused "good night."

In the morning the first thing he did when he reached his office, was to
send for the offending sailor.

"Geordie, my Margaret says there are plenty folk as bad as thou art; so,
thou'lt just see to the steeking o' the boat, an' be ready to sail
her--or upset her--i' ten days again."

"I'll keep her right side up for Margaret Sinclair's sake--tell her I
said that, Master."

"I'se do no promising for thee Geordie. Between wording an' working is a
lang road, but Kirkwall an' Stromness kens thee for an honest lad, an'
thou wilt mind this--_things promised are things due_."

Insensibly this act of forbearance lightened Peter's whole day; he was
good-tempered with the world, and the world returned the compliment.
When night came, and he watched for Margaret on the sands, he was
delighted to see that Ronald was with her. The lad had come home and
nothing was now remembered against him. That night it was Ronald told
him fairy-stories of great cities and universities, of miles of books
and pictures, of wonderful machinery and steam engines, of delicious
things to eat and drink. Peter felt as if he must start southward by the
next mail packet, but in the morning he thought more unselfishly.

"There are forty families depending on me sticking to the shop an' the
boats, Ronald, an' I canna go pleasuring till there is ane to step into
my shoes."

Ronald Sinclair had all the fair, stately beauty and noble presence of
his sister, but yet there was some lack about him easier to feel than to
define. Perhaps no one was unconscious of this lack except Margaret; but
women have a grand invention where their idols are concerned, and create
readily for them every excellency that they lack. Her own two years'
study in an Edinburgh boarding-school had been very superficial, and she
knew it; but this wonderful Ronald could read Homer and Horace, could
play and sketch, and recite Shakespeare and write poetry. If he could
have done none of these things, if he had been dull and ugly, and
content to trade in fish and wool, she would still have loved him
tenderly; how much more then, this handsome Antinous, whom she credited
with all the accomplishments of Apollo.

Ronald needed all her enthusiastic support. He had left heavy college
bills, and he had quite made up his mind that he would not be a minister
and that he would be a lawyer. He could scarcely have decided on two
things more offensive to his father. Only for the hope of having a
minister in the family had Peter submitted to his son's continued
demands for money. For this end he had bought books, and paid for all
kinds of teachers and tours, and sighed over the cost of Ronald's
different hobbies. And now he was not only to have a grievous
disappointment, but also a great offence, for Peter Sinclair shared
fully in the Arcadean dislike and distrust of lawyers, and would have
been deeply offended at any one requiring their aid in any business
transaction with him.

His son's proposal to be a "writer" he took almost as a personal insult.
He had formed his own opinion of the profession and the opinion of any
other person who would say a word in favor of a lawyer he considered of
no value. Margaret had a hard task before her, that she succeeded at all
was due to her womanly tact. Ronald and his father simply clashed
against each other and exchanged pointed truths which hurt worse than
wounds. At length, when the short Arcadean summer was almost over,
Margaret won a hard and reluctant consent.

"The lad is fit for naething better, I suppose"--and the old man turned
away to shed the bitterest tears of his whole life. They shocked
Margaret; she was terrified at her success, and, falling humbly at his
feet, she besought him to forget and forgive her importunities, and to
take back a gift baptized with such ominous tears.

But Peter Sinclair, having been compelled to take such a step, was not
the man to retrace it; he shook his head in a dour, hopeless way: "He
couldna say 'yes' an' 'no' in a breath, an' Ronald must e'en drink as he
brewed."

These struggles, so real and sorrowful to his father and sister, Ronald
had no sympathy with--not that he was heartless, but that he had taught
himself to believe they were the result of ignorance of the world and
old-fashioned prejudices. He certainly intended to become a great
man--perhaps a judge--and, when he was one of "the Lords," he had no
doubt his father would respect his disobedience. He knew his father as
little as he knew himself. Peter Sinclair was only Peter Sinclair's
opinions incorporate; and he could no more have changed them than he
could have changed the color of his eyes or the shape of his nose; and
the difference between a common lawyer and a "lord," in his eyes, would
only have been the difference between a little oppressor and a great
one.

For the first time in all her life Margaret suspected a flaw in this
perfect crystal of a brother; his gay debonnaire manner hurt her. Even
if her father's objections were ignorant prejudices, they were positive
convictions to him, and she did not like to see them smiled at,
entertained by the cast of the eye, and the put-by of the turning hand.
But loving women are the greatest of philistines: knock their idol down
daily, rob it of every beauty, cut off its hands and head, and they will
still "set it up in its place," and fall down and worship it.

Undoubtedly Margaret was one of the blindest of these characters, but
the world may pause before it scorns them too bitterly. It is faith of
this sublime integrity which, brought down to personal experience,
believes, endures, hopes, sacrifices and loves on to the end, winning
finally what never would have been given to a more prudent and
reasonable devotion. So, if Margaret had her doubts, she put them
arbitrarily down, and sent her brother away with manifold tokens of her
love--among them, with a check on the Kirkwall Bank for sixty pounds,
the whole of her personal savings.

To this frugal Arcadean maid it seemed a large sum, but she hoped by the
sacrifice to clear off Ronald's college debts, and thus enable him to
start his new race unweighted. It was but a mouthful to each creditor,
but it put them off for a time, and Ronald was not a youth inclined to
"take thought" for their "to-morrow."

He had been entered for four years' study with the firm of Wilkes &
Brechen, writers and conveyancers, of the city of Glasgow. Her father
had paid the whole fee down, and placed in the Western Bank to his
credit four hundred pounds for his four years' support. Whatever Ronald
thought of the provision, Peter considered it a magnificent income, and
it had cost him a great struggle to give up at once, and for no evident
return, so much of his hard-earned gold. To Ronald he said nothing of
this reluctance; he simply put vouchers for both transactions in his
hand, and asked him to "try an' spend the siller as weel as it had been
earned."

But to Margaret he fretted not a little. "Fourteen hun'red pounds a'
thegither, dawtie," he said in a tearful voice. "I warked early an' late
through mony a year for it; an' it is gane a' at once, though I hae
naught but words an' promises for it. I ken, Margaret, that I am an auld
farrant trader, but I'se aye say that it is a bad well into which are
must put water."

When Ronald went, the summer went too. It became necessary to remove at
once to their rock-built house in one of the narrow streets of
Kirkwall. Margaret was glad of the change; her father could come into
the little parlor behind the shop any time in the day and smoke his pipe
beside her. He needed this consolation sorely; his son's conduct had
grieved him far more deeply than he would allow, and Margaret often saw
him gazing southward over the stormy Pentland Frith with a very mournful
face.

But a good heart soon breaks bad fortune and Peter had a good heart,
sound and sweet and true to his fellow-creatures and full of faith in
God. It is true that his creed was of the very strictest and sternest;
but men are always better than their theology and Margaret knew from the
Scriptures chosen for their household worship that in the depth and
stillness of his soul his human fatherhood had anchored fast to the
fatherhood of God.

Arcadean winters are long and dreary, but no one need much pity the
Arcadeans; they have learned how to make them the very festival of
social life. And, in spite of her anxiety about Ronald, Margaret
thoroughly enjoyed this one--perhaps the more because Captain Olave
Thorkald spent two months of it with them in Kirkwall. There had been a
long attachment between the young soldier and Margaret; and having
obtained his commission, he had come to ask also for the public
recognition of their engagement. Margaret was rarely beautiful and
rarely happy, and she carried with a charming and kindly grace the full
cup of her felicity. The Arcadeans love to date from a good year, and
all her life afterward Margaret reckoned events from this pleasant
winter.

Peter Sinclair's house being one of the largest in Kirkwall, was a
favorite gathering place, and Peter took his full share in all the
home-like, innocent amusements which beguiled the long, dreary nights.
No one in Orkney or Zetland could recite Ossian with more passion and
tenderness, and he enjoyed his little triumph over the youngsters who
emulated him. No one could sing a Scotch song with more humor, and few
of the lads and lassies could match Peter in a blithe foursome reel or a
rattling strathspey. Some, indeed, thought that good Dr. Ogilvie had a
more graceful spring and a longer breath, but Peter always insisted that
his inferiority to the minister was a voluntary concession to the
Dominie's superior dignity. It was, however, a rivalry that always ended
in a firmer grip at parting. These little festivals, in which young and
old freely mingled, cultivated to perfection the best and kindest
feelings of both classes. Age mellowed to perfect sweetness in the
sunshine of youthful gayety, and youth learned from age how at once to
be merry and wise.

At length June arrived; and though winter lingered in _spates_, the song
of the skylark and the thrush heralded the spring. When the dream-like
voice of the cuckoo should be heard once more, Peter and Margaret had
determined to take a long summer trip. They were to go first to Perth,
where Captain Thorkald was stationed, and then to Glasgow and see
Ronald. But God had planned another journey for Peter, even one to a
"land very far off." A disease, to which he had been subject at
intervals for many years, suddenly assumed a fatal character and Peter
needed no one to tell him that his days were numbered.

He set his house in order, and then, going with Margaret to his summer
dwelling, waited quietly. He said little on the subject, and as long as
he was able, gave himself up with the delight of a child to watching the
few flowers in his garden; but still one solemn, waylaying thought made
these few last weeks of life peculiarly hushed and sacred. Ronald had
been sent for, and the old man, with the clear prescience that sometimes
comes before death, divined much and foresaw much he did not care to
speak about--only that in some subtle way he made Margaret perceive that
Ronald was to be cared for and watched over, and that to her this
charge was committed.

Before the summer was quite over Peter Sinclair went away. In his
tarrying by the eternal shore he became, as it were, purified of the
body, and one lovely night, when gloaming and dawning mingled, and the
lark was thrilling the midnight skies, he heard the Master call him, and
promptly answered, "Here am I." Then "Death, with sweet enlargement, did
dismiss him hence."

He had been considered a rich man in Orkney, and, therefore, Ronald--who
had become accustomed to a Glasgow standard of wealth--was much
disappointed. His whole estate was not worth over six thousand pounds;
about two thousand pounds of this was in gold, the rest was invested in
his houses in Kirkwall, and in a little cottage in Stromness, where
Peter's wife had been born. He gave to Ronald L1800, and to Margaret
L200 and the life rent of the real property. Ronald had already received
L1400, and, therefore, had no cause of complaint, but somehow he felt as
if he had been wronged. He was older than his sister, and the son of the
house, and use and custom were not in favor of recognizing daughters as
having equal rights. But he kept such thoughts to himself, and when he
went back to Glasgow took with him solid proof of his sister's
devotion.

It was necessary, now, for Margaret to make a great change in her life.
She determined to remove to Stromness and occupy the little four-roomed
cottage that had been her mother's. It stood close to that of Geordie
Twatt, and she felt that in any emergency she was thus sure of one
faithful friend. "A lone woman" in Margaret's position has in these days
numberless objects of interest of which Margaret never dreamed. She
would have thought it a kind of impiety to advise her minister, or
meddle in church affairs. These simple parents attended themselves to
the spiritual training of their children--there was no necessity for
Sunday Schools, and they did not exist. She was not one of those women
whom their friends call "beings," and who have deep and mysterious
feelings that interpret themselves in poems and thrilling stories. She
had no taste for philosophy or history or social science, and had been
taught to regard novels as dangerously sinful books.

But no one need imagine that she was either wretched or idle. In the
first place, she took life much more calmly and slowly than we do; a
very little pleasure or employment went a long way. She read her Bible
and helped her old servant Helga to keep the house in order. She had
her flowers to care for,--and her brother and lover to write to. She
looked after Geordie Twatt's little motherless lads, went to church and
to see her friends, and very often had her friends to see her. It
happened to be a very stormy winter, and the mails were often delayed
for weeks together. This was her only trouble. Ronald's letters were
more and more unsatisfactory; he was evidently unhappy and dissatisfied
and heartily tired of his new study. Posts were so irregular that often
their letters seemed to be playing at cross purposes. She determined as
soon as spring opened to go and have a straightforward talk with him.

So the following June Geordie Twatt took her in his boat to Thurso,
where Captain Thorkald was waiting for her. They had not met since Peter
Sinclair's death, and that event had materially affected their
prospects. Before it their marriage had been a possible joy in some far
future; now there was no greater claim on her care and love than the
captain's, and he urged their early marriage.

Margaret had her two hundred pounds with her, and she promised to buy
her "plenishing" during her visit to Glasgow. In those days girls made
their own trousseau, sewing into every garment solemn and tender hopes
and joys. Margaret thought that proper attention to this dear stitching
as well as proper respect for her father's memory, asked of her yet at
least another year's delay; and for the present Captain Thorkald thought
it best not to urge her further.

Ronald received his sister very joyfully. He had provided lodgings for
her with their father's old correspondent, Robert Gorie, a tea merchant
in the Cowcaddens. The Cowcaddens was then a very respectable street,
and Margaret was quite pleased with her quarters. She was not pleased
with Ronald, however. He avowed himself thoroughly disgusted with the
law, and declared his intention of forfeiting his fee and joining his
friend Walter Cashell in a manufacturing scheme.

Margaret could _feel_ that he was all wrong, but she could not reason
about a business of which she knew nothing, and Ronald took his own way.
But changing and bettering are two different things, and, though he was
always talking of his "good luck" and his "good bargains", Margaret was
very uneasy. Perhaps Robert Gorie was partly to blame for this; his
pawky face and shrewd little eyes made visible dissents to all such
boasts; nor did he scruple to say, "Guid luck needs guid elbowing,
Ronald, an' it is at the _guid bargains_ I aye pause an' ponder."

The following winter was a restless, unhappy one; Ronald was either
painfully elated or very dull; and, soon after the New Year, Walter
Cashell fell into bad health, went to the West Indies, and left Ronald
with the whole business to manage. He soon now began to come to his
sister, not only for advice, but for money. Margaret believed at first
that she was only supplying Walter's sudden loss, but when her cash was
all gone, and Ronald urged her to mortgage her rents she resolutely shut
her ears to all his plausible promises, and refused to "throw more good
money after bad."

It was the first ill-blood between them, and it hurt Margaret sorely.
She was glad when the fine weather came, and she could escape to her
island home, for Ronald was cool to her, and said cruel things of
Captain Thorkald, for whose sake he declared his sister had refused to
help him.

One day, at the end of the following August, when most of the
towns-people--men and women--had gone to the moss to cut the winter's
peat, she saw Geordie Twatt coming toward the house. Something about his
appearance troubled her, and she went to the open door and stood waiting
for him.

"What is it, Geordie?"

"I am bidden to tell thee, Margaret Sinclair, to be at the Stanes o'
Stennis to-night at eleven o'clock."

"Who trysts me there, Geordie, at such an hour?"

"Thy brother; but thou'lt come--yes, thou wilt."

Margaret's very lips turned white as she answered: "I'll be there--see
thou art, too."

"Sure as death! If naebody spiers after me, thou needna say I was here
at a', thou needna."

Margaret understood the caution, and nodded her head. She could not
speak, and all day long she wandered about like a soul in a restless
dream.

Fortunately, every one was weary at night, and went early to rest, and
she found little difficulty in getting outside the town without notice;
and one of the ponies on the common took her speedily across the moor.

Late as it was, twilight lingered over the silent moor, with its old
Pictish mounds and burial places, giving them an indescribable aspect of
something weird and eerie. No one could have been insensible to the
mournful, brooding light and the unearthly stillness, and Margaret was
trembling with a supernatural terror as she stood amid the solemn circle
of gray stones and looked over the lake of Stennis and the low, brown
hills of Harray.

From behind one of these gigantic pillars Ronald came toward
her--Ronald, and yet not Ronald. He was dressed as a common sailor, and
otherwise shamefully disguised. There was no time to soften things--he
told his miserable story in a few plain words:

"His business had become so entangled that he knew not which way to
turn, and, sick of the whole affair, he had taken a passage for
Australia, and then forged a note on the Western Bank for L900. He had
hoped to be far at sea with his ill-gotten money before the fraud was
discovered, but suspicion had gathered around him so quickly, that he
had not even dared to claim his passage. Then he fled north, and,
fortunately, discovering Geordie's boat at Wick, had easily prevailed on
him to put off at once with him."

What cowards sin makes of us! Margaret had seen this very lad face death
often, among the sunken rocks and cruel surfs, that he might save the
life of a ship-wrecked sailor, and now, rather than meet the creditors
whom he had wronged, he had committed a robbery and was flying from the
gallows.

She was shocked and stunned, and stood speechless, wringing her hands
and moaning pitifully. Her brother grew impatient. Often the first
result of a bitter sense of sin is to make the sinner peevish and
irritable.

"Margaret," he said, almost angrily, "I came to bid you farewell, and
to promise you, _by my father's name_! to retrieve all this wrong. If
you can speak a kind word speak it, for God's sake--if not, I must go
without it!"

Then she fell upon his neck, and, amid sobs and kisses, said all that
love so sorely and suddenly tried could say. He could not even soothe
her anguish by any promise to write, but he did promise to come back to
her sooner or later with restitution in his hand. All she could do now
for this dear brother was to call Geordie to her side and put him in his
care; taking what consolation she could from his assurance that "he
would keep him out at sea until the search was cold, and if followed
carry him into some of the dangerous 'races' between the islands." If
any sailor could keep his boat above water in them, she knew Geordie
could; _and if not_--she durst follow that thought no further, but,
putting her hands before her face, stood praying, while the two men
pulled silently away in the little skiff that had brought them up the
outlet connecting the lake of Stennis with the sea. Margaret would have
turned away from Ronald's open grave less heart-broken.

It was midnight now, but her real terror absorbed all imaginary ones;
she did not even call a pony, but with swift, even steps walked back to
Stromness. Ere she had reached it, she had decided what was to be done,
and next day she left Kirkwall in the mail packet for the mainland.
Thence by night and day she traveled to Glasgow, and a week after her
interview with Ronald she was standing before the directors of the
defrauded bank and offering them the entire proceeds of her Kirkwall
property until the debt was paid.

The bank had thoroughly respected Peter Sinclair, and his daughter's
earnest, decided offer won their ready sympathy. It was accepted without
any question of interest, though she could not hope to clear off the
obligation in less than nine years. She did not go near any of her old
acquaintances; she had no heart to bear their questions and condolences,
and she had no money to stay in Glasgow at charges. Winter was coming on
rapidly, but before it broke over the lonely islands she had reached her
cottage in Stromness again.

There had been, of course, much talk concerning her hasty journey, but
no one had suspected its cause. Indeed, the pursuit after Ronald had
been entirely the bank's affair, had been committed to private
detectives and had not been nearly so hot as the frightened criminal
believed. His failure and flight had indeed been noticed in the Glasgow
newspapers, but this information did not reach Kirkwall until the
following spring, and then in a very indefinite form.

About a week after her return, Geordie Twatt came into port. Margaret
frequently went to his cottage with food or clothing for the children,
and she contrived to meet him there.

"Yon lad is a' right, indeed is he," he said, with an assumption of
indifference.

"Oh, Geordie! where?"

"A ship going westward took him off the boat."

"Thank God! You will say naught at all, Geordie?"

"I ken naught at a' save that his father's son was i' trouble, an'
trying to gie thae weary, unchancy lawyers the go-by. I was fain eneuch
mesel' to balk them."

But Margaret's real trials were all yet to come. The mere fact of doing
a noble deed does not absolve one often from very mean and petty
consequences. Before the winter was half over she had found out how
rapid is the descent from good report. The neighbors were deeply
offended at her for giving up the social tea parties and evening
gatherings that had made the house of Sinclair popular for more than one
generation. She gave still greater offence by becoming a workingwoman,
and spending her days in braiding straw into the (once) famous Orkney
Tuscans, and her long evenings in the manufacture of those delicate
knitted goods peculiar to the country.

It was not alone that they grudged her the money for these labors, as so
much out of their own pockets--they grudged her also the time; for they
had been long accustomed to rely on Margaret Sinclair for their
children's garments, for nursing the sick and for help in weddings,
funerals and all the other extraordinary occasions of sympathy among a
primitively social people.

Little by little, all winter, the sentiment of disapproval and dislike
gathered. Some one soon found out that Margaret's tenants "just sent
every bawbee o' the rent-siller to the Glasgow Bank;" and this was a
double offence, as it implied a distrust of her own townsfolk and
institutions. If from her humble earnings she made a little gift to any
common object its small amount was a fresh source of anger and contempt;
for none knew how much she had to deny herself even for such curtailed
gratuities.

In fact, Margaret Sinclair's sudden stinginess and indifference to her
townsfolk was the common wonder and talk of every little gathering. Old
friends began to either pointedly reprove her, or pointedly ignore her;
and at last even old Helga took the popular tone and said, "Margaret
Sinclair had got too scrimping for an auld wife like her to bide wi'
langer."

Through all this Margaret suffered keenly. At first she tried earnestly
to make her old friends understand that she had good reasons for her
conduct; but as she would not explain these good reasons, she failed in
her endeavor. She had imagined that her good conscience would support
her, and that she could live very well without love and sympathy; she
soon found out that it is a kind of negative punishment worse than many
stripes.

At the end of the winter Captain Thorkald again earnestly pressed their
marriage, saying that, "his regiment was ordered to Chelsea, and any
longer delay might be a final one." He proposed also, that his father,
the Udaller Thorkald of Serwick, should have charge of her Orkney
property, as he understood its value and changes. Margaret wrote and
frankly told him that her property was not hers for at least seven
years, but that it was under good care, and he must accept her word
without explanation. Out of this only grew a very unsatisfactory
correspondence. Captain Thorkald went south without Margaret, and a very
decided coolness separated them farther than any number of miles.

Udaller Thorkald was exceedingly angry, and his remarks about Margaret
Sinclair's refusal "to trust her bit property in as guid hands as her
own" increased very much the bitter feeling against the poor girl. At
the end of three years the trial became too great for her; she began to
think of running away from it.

Throughout these dark days she had purposely and pointedly kept apart
from her old friend Dr. Ogilvie, for she feared his influence over her
might tempt her to confidence. Latterly the doctor had humored her
evident desire, but he had never ceased to watch over and, in a great
measure, to believe in her; and, when he heard of this determination to
quit Orkney forever, he came to Stromness with a resolution to spare no
efforts to win her confidence.

He spoke very solemnly and tenderly to her, reminded her of her father's
generosity and good gifts to the church and the poor, and said: "O,
Margaret, dear lass! what good at a' will thy silent money do thee in
_that Day_? It ought to speak for thee out o' the mouths o' the
sorrowfu' an' the needy, the widows an' the fatherless--indeed it ought.
And thou hast gien naught for thy Master's sake these three years! I'm
fair 'shamed to think thou bears sae kind a name as thy father's."

What could Margaret do? She broke into passionate sobbing, and, when the
good old man left the cottage an hour afterward there was a strange
light on his face, and he walked and looked as if he had come from some
interview that had set him for a little space still nearer to the
angels. Margaret had now one true friend, and in a few days after this
she rented her cottage and went to live with the dominie. Nothing could
have so effectually reinstated her in public opinion; wherever the
dominie went on a message of help or kindness Margaret went with him.
She fell gradually into a quieter but still more affectionate
regard--the aged, the sick and the little children clung to her hands,
and she was comforted.

Her life seemed, indeed, to have wonderfully narrowed, but when the tide
is fairly out, it begins to turn again. In the fifth year of her poverty
there was from various causes, such an increase in the value of real
estate, that her rents were nearly doubled, and by the end of the
seventh year she had paid the last shilling of her assumed debt, and was
again an independent woman.

It might be two years after this that she one day received a letter that
filled her with joy and amazement. It contained a check for her whole
nine hundred pounds back again. "The bank had just received from Ronald
Sinclair, of San Francisco, the whole amount due it, with the most
satisfactory acknowledgment and interest." It was a few minutes before
Margaret could take in all the joy this news promised her; but when she
did, the calm, well-regulated girl had never been so near committing
extravagances.

She ran wildly upstairs to the dominie, and, throwing herself at his
knees, cried out, amid tears and smiles: "Father! father! Here is your
money! Here is the poor's money and the church's money! God has sent it
back to me! Sent it back with such glad tidings!"--and surely if angels
rejoice with repenting sinners, they must have felt that day a far
deeper joy with the happy, justified girl.

She knew now that she also would soon hear from Ronald, and she was not
disappointed. The very next day the dominie brought home the letter.
Margaret took it upstairs to read it upon her knees, while the good old
man walked softly up and down his study praying for her. Presently she
came to him with a radiant face.

"Is it weel wi' the lad, ma dawtie?"

"Yes, father; it is very well." Then she read him the letter.

Ronald had been in New Orleans and had the fever; he had been in Texas,
and spent four years in fighting Indians and Mexicans and in herding
cattle. He had suffered many things, but had worked night and day, and
always managed to grow a little richer every year. Then, suddenly, the
word "California!" rung through the world, and he caught the echo even
on the lonely southwestern prairies. Through incredible hardships he had
made his way thither, and a sudden and wonderful fortune had crowned his
labors, first in mining and afterward in speculation and merchandising.
He said that he was indeed afraid to tell her how rich he was lest to
her Arcadean views the sum might appear incredible.

Margaret let the letter fall on her lap and clasped her hands above it.
Her face was beautiful. If the prodigal son had a sister she must have
looked just as Margaret looked when they brought in her lost brother, in
the best robe and the gold ring.

The dominie was not so satisfied. A good many things in the letter
displeased him, but he kissed Margaret tenderly and went away from her.
"It is a' _I_ did this, an' _I_ did that, an' _I_ suffered you; there is
nae word o' God's help, or o' what ither folk had to thole. I'll no be
doing ma duty if I dinna set his sin afore his e'en."

The old man was little used to writing, and the effort was a great one,
but he bravely made it, and without delay. In a few curt, idiomatic
sentences he told Ronald Margaret's story of suffering and wrong and
poverty; her hard work for daily bread; her loss of friends, of her
good name and her lover, adding: "It is a puir success, ma lad, that ye
dinna acknowledge God in; an' let me tell thee, thy restitution is o'er
late for thy credit. I wad hae thought better o' it had thou made it
when it took the last plack i' thy pouch. Out o' thy great wealth, a few
hun'red pounds is nae matter to speak aboot."

But people did speak of it. In spite of our chronic abuse of human
nature it is, after all, a kindly nature, and rejoices in good more than
in evil. The story of Ronald's restitution is considered honorable to
it, and it was much made of in the daily papers. Margaret's friends
flocked round her again, saying, "I'm sorry, Margaret!" as simply and
honestly as little children, and the dominie did not fail to give them
the lecture on charity that Margaret neglected.

Whether the Udaller Thorkald wrote to his son anent these transactions,
or whether the captain read in the papers enough to satisfy him, he
never explained; but one day he suddenly appeared at Dr. Ogilvie's and
asked for Margaret. He had probably good excuses for his conduct to
offer; if not, Margaret was quite ready to invent for him--as she had
done for Ronald--all the noble qualities he lacked. The captain was
tired of military life, and anxious to return to Orkney; and, as his
own and Margaret's property was yearly increasing: in value, he foresaw
profitable employment for his talents. He had plans for introducing many
southern improvements--for building a fine modern house, growing some of
the hardier fruits and for the construction of a grand conservatory for
Margaret's flowers.

It must be allowed that Captain Thorkald was a very ordinary lord for a
woman like Margaret Sinclair to "love, honor and obey;" but few men
would have been worthy of her, and the usual rule which shows us the
noblest women marrying men manifestly their inferiors is doubtless a
wise one.

A lofty soul can have no higher mission than to help upward one upon a
lower plane, and surely Captain Thorkald, being, as the dominie said,
"_no that bad_," had the fairest opportunities to grow to Margaret's
stature in Margaret's atmosphere.

While these things were occurring, Ronald got Margaret's letter. It was
full of love and praise, and had no word of blame or complaint in it. He
noticed, indeed, that she still signed her name "Sinclair," and that she
never alluded to Captain Thorkald, and the supposition that the stain on
his character had caused a rupture did, for a moment, force itself upon
his notice; but he put it instantly away with the reflection that
"Thorkald was but a poor fellow, after all, and quite unworthy of his
sister."

The very next mail-day he received the dominie's letter. He read it
once, and could hardly take it in; read it again and again, until his
lips blanched, and his whole countenance changed. In that moment he saw
Ronald Sinclair for the first time in his life. Without a word, he left
his business, went to his house and locked himself in his own room.

_Then Margaret's silent money began to speak._ In low upbraidings it
showed him the lonely girl in that desolate land trying to make her own
bread, deserted of lover and friends, robbed of her property and good
name, silently suffering every extremity, never reproaching him once,
not even thinking it necessary to tell him of her sufferings, or to
count their cost unto him.

What is this bitterness we call remorse? This agony of the soul in all
its senses? This sudden flood of intolerable light in the dark places of
our hearts? This truth-telling voice which leaves us without a particle
of our self-complacency? For many days Ronald could find no words to
speak but these, "O, wretched man that I am!"

But at length the Comforter came as swiftly and surely and mysteriously
as the accuser had come, and once more that miracle of grace was
renewed--"that day Jesus was guest in the house of one who was a
sinner."

Margaret's "silent money" now found a thousand tongues. It spoke in many
a little feeble church that Ronald Sinclair held in his arms until it
was strong enough to stand alone. It spoke in schools and colleges and
hospitals, in many a sorrowful home and to many a lonely, struggling
heart--and at this very day it has echoes that reach from the far West
to the lonely islands beyond the stormy Pentland Firth, and the
sea-shattering precipices of Duncansbay Head.

It is not improbable that some of my readers may take a summer's trip to
the Orkney Islands; let me ask them to wait at Thurso--the old town of
Thor--for a handsome little steamer that leaves there three times a week
for Kirkwall. It is the sole property of Captain Geordie Twatt, was a
gift from an old friend in California, and is called "The Margaret
Sinclair."




JUST WHAT HE DESERVED.


There is not in its own way a more distinctive and interesting bit of
Scotland than the bleak Lothian country, with its wide views, its brown
ploughed fields, and its dense swaying plantations of fir. The
Lammermoor Hills and the Pentlands and the veils of smoke that lie about
Edinburgh are on its horizon, and within that circle all the large
quietude of open grain fields, wide turnip lands, where sheep feed, and
far-stretching pastures where the red and white cows ruminate. The
patient processes of nature breed patient minds; the gray cold climate
can be read in the faces of the people, and in their hearts the seasons
take root and grow; so that they have a grave character, passive, yet
enduring; strong to feel and strong to act when the time is full ready
for action.

Of these natural peculiarities Jean Anderson had her share. She was a
Lothian lassie of many generations, usually undemonstrative, but with
large possibilities of storm beneath her placid face and gentle manner.
Her father was the minister of Lambrig and the manse stood in a very
sequestered corner of the big parish, facing the bleak east winds, and
the salt showers of the German ocean. It was sheltered by dark fir woods
on three sides, and in front a little walled-in garden separated it from
the long, dreary, straight line of turnpike road. But Jean had no
knowledge of any fairer land; she had read of flowery pastures and rose
gardens and vineyards, but these places were to her only in books, while
the fields and fells that filled her eyes were her home, and she loved
them.

She loved them all the more because the man she loved was going to leave
them, and if Gavin Burns did well, and was faithful to her, then it was
like to be that she also would go far away from the blue Lammermuirs,
and the wide still spaces of the Lothians. She stood at the open door of
the manse with her lover thinking of these things, but with no real
sense of what pain or deprivation the thought included. She was tall and
finely formed, a blooming girl, with warmly-colored cheeks, a mouth
rather large and a great deal of wavy brown hair. But the best of all
her beauty was the soul in her face; its vitality, its vivacity and
immediate response.

However, the time of love had come to her, and though her love had grown
as naturally as a sapling in a wood, who could tell what changes it
would make. For Gavin Burns had been educated in the minister's house
and Jean and he had studied and fished and rambled together all through
the years in which Jean had grown from childhood into womanhood. Now
Gavin was going to New York to make his fortune. They stepped through
the garden and into the long dim road, walking slowly in the calm night,
with thoughtful faces and clasped hands. There was at this last hour
little left to say. Every promise known to Love had been given; they had
exchanged Bibles and broken a piece of silver and vowed an eternal
fidelity. So, in the cold sunset they walked silently by the river that
was running in flood like their own hearts. At the little stone bridge
they stopped, and leaning over the parapet watched the drumly water
rushing below; and there Jean reiterated her promise to be Gavin's wife
as soon as he was able to make a home for her.

"And I am not proud, Gavin," she said; "a little house, if it is filled
with love, will make me happy beyond all."

They were both too hopeful and trustful and too habitually calm to weep
or make much visible lament over their parting; and yet when Gavin
vanished into the dark of the lonely road, Jean shut the heavy house
door very slowly. She felt as if she was shutting part of herself out of
the old home forever, and she was shocked by this first breaking of the
continuity of life; this sharp cutting of regular events asunder.
Gavin's letters were at first frequent and encouraging, but as the
months went by he wrote more and more seldom. He said "he was kept so
busy; he was making himself indispensable, and could not afford to be
less busy. He was weary to death on the Saturday nights, and he could
not bring his conscience to write anent his own personal and earthly
happiness on the Sabbath day; but he was sure Jean trusted in him,
whether he wrote or not; and they were past being bairns, always telling
each other the love they were both so sure of."

Late in the autumn the minister died of typhoid fever, and Jean,
heartbroken and physically worn out, was compelled to face for her
mother and herself, a complete change of life. It had never seemed to
these two women that anything could happen to the father and head of the
family; in their loving hearts he had been immortal, and though the
disease had run its tedious course before their eyes, his death at the
last was a shock that shook their lives and their home to the very
centre. A new minister was the first inevitable change, and then a
removal from the comfortable manse to a little cottage in the village of
Lambrig.

While this sad removal was in progress they had felt the sorrow of it,
all that they could bear; and neither had dared to look into the future
or to speculate as to its necessities. Jean in her heart expected Gavin
would at once send for them to come to America. He had a fair salary,
and the sale of their furniture would defray their traveling expenses.

She was indeed so sure of this journey, that she did not regard the
cottage as more than a temporary shelter during the approaching winter.
In the spring, no doubt, Gavin would have a little home ready, and they
would cross the ocean to it. The mother had the same thought. As they
sat on their new hearthstone, lonely and poor, they talked of this
event, and if any doubts lurked unconsciously below their love and trust
they talked them away, while they waited for Gavin's answer to the
sorrowful letter Jean had sent him on the night of her father's burial.

It was longer in coming than they expected. For a week they saw the
postman pass their door with an indifference that seemed cruel; for a
week Jean made new excuses and tried to hold up her mother's heart,
while her own was sinking lower and lower. Then one morning the
looked-for answer came. Jean fled to a room apart to read it alone; Mrs.
Anderson sat down and waited, with dropped eyes and hands tightly
clasped. She knew, before Jean said a word, that the letter had
disappointed her. She had remained alone too long. If all had been as
they hoped the mother was certain Jean would not have deferred the good
tidings a moment. But a quarter of an hour had passed before Jean came
to her side, and then when she lifted her eyes she saw that her daughter
had been weeping.

"It is a disappointment, Jean, I see," she said sadly. "Never mind,
dearie."

"Yes, mother; Gavin has failed us."

"We have been two foolish women, Jean. Oh, my dear lassie, we should
have lippened to God, and He would not have disappointed us! What does
Gavin Burns say?"

"It is what he does _not_ say, that hurts me, mother. I may as well tell
you the whole truth. When he heard how ill father was, he wrote to me,
as if he had foreseen what was to happen. He said, 'there will be a new
minister and a break-up of the old home, and you must come at once to
your new home here. I am the one to care for you when your father is
gone away; and what does it matter under what sun or sky if we are but
together?' So, then, mother, when the worst had come to us I wrote with
a free heart to Gavin. I said, 'I will come to you gladly, Gavin, but
you know well that my mother is very dear to me, and where I am there
she also must be.' And he says, in this letter, that it is me he is
wanting, and that you have a brother in Glasgow that is unmarried and
who will be willing, no doubt, to have you keep his house for him. There
is a wale of fine words about it, mother, but they come to just this,
and no more--Gavin is willing to care for me, but not for you and I will
not trust myself with a man that cannot love you for my sake. We will
stay together, mammy darling! Whatever comes or goes we will stay
together. The man isna born that can part us two!"

"He is your lover, Jean. A girl must stick to her lover."

"You are my mother. I am bone of your bone, and flesh of your flesh and
love of your love. May God forsake me when I forsake you!"

She had thrown herself at her mother's knees and was clasping and
kissing the sad face so dear to her, as she fervently uttered the last
words. And the mother was profoundly touched by her child's devotion.
She drew her close to her heart, and said firmly:

"No! No, my dearie! What could we two do for ourselves? And I'm loth to
part you and Gavin. I simply cannot take the sacrifice, you so lovingly
offer me. I will write to my brother David. Gavin isna far wrong there;
David is a very close man, but he willna see his sister suffer, there
is no fear of that."

"It is Jean that will not see you suffer."

"But the bite and the sup, Jean? How are we to get them?"

"I can make my own dresses and cloaks, so then I can make dresses and
cloaks for other people. I shall send out a card to the ladies near-by
and put an advertisement in the Haddington newspaper, and God can make
my needle sharp enough for the battle. Don't cry, mother! Oh, darling,
don't cry! We have God and each other, and none can call us desolate."

"But you will break your heart, Jean. You canna help it. And I canna
take your love and happiness to brighten my old age. It isna right. I'll
not do it. You must go to Gavin. I will go to my brother David."

"I will not break my heart, mother. I will not shed a tear for the
false, mean lad, that you were so kind to for fourteen years, when there
was no one else to love him. Aye, I know he paid for his board and
schooling, but he never could pay for the mother-love you gave him, just
because he was motherless. And who has more right to have their life
brightened by my love than you have? Beside, it is my happiness to
brighten it, and so, what will you say against it? And I will not go to
Gavin. Not one step. If he wants me now, he will come for me, and for
you, too. This is sure as death! Oh, mammy! Mammy, darling, a false lad
shall not part us! Never! Never! Never!"

"Jean! Jean! What will I say at all"

"What would my father say, if he was here this minute? He would say,
'you are right, Jean! And God bless you, Jean! And you may be sure that
it is all for the best, Jean! So take the right road with a glad heart,
Jean!' That is what father would say. And I will never do anything to
prevent me looking him straight in the face when we meet again. Even in
heaven I shall want him to smile into my eyes and say, 'Well done,
Jean!'"


CHAPTER II.

Jean's plans for the future were humble and reasonable enough to insure
them some measure of success, and the dreaded winter passed not
uncomfortably away. Then in the summer Uncle David Nicoll came to
Lambrig and boarded with his sister, paying a pound a week, and giving
her, on his departure, a five-pound note to help the next winter's
expenses. This order of things went on without change or intermission
for five years, and the little cottage gradually gathered in its clean,
sweet rooms, many articles of simple use and beauty. Mrs. Anderson took
entire charge of the housekeeping. Jean's needle flew swiftly from
morning to night, and though the girl had her share of the humiliations
and annoyances incident to her position, these did not interfere with
the cheerful affection and mutual help which brightened their lonely
life.

She heard nothing from Gavin. After some painful correspondence, in
which neither would retract a step from the stand they had taken, Gavin
ceased writing, and Jean ceased expecting, though before this calm was
reached she had many a bitter hour the mother never suspected. But such
hours were to Jean's soul what the farmer's call "growing weather;" in
them much rich thought and feeling sprang up insensibly; her nature
ripened and mellowed and she became a far lovelier woman than her
twentieth year had promised.

One gray February afternoon, when the rain was falling steadily, Jean
felt unusually depressed and weary. An apprehension of some unhappiness
made her sad, and she could not sew for the tears that would dim her
eyes. Suddenly the door opened and Gavin's sister Mary entered. Jean did
not know her very well, and she did not like her at all, and she
wondered what she had come to tell her.

"I am going to New York on Saturday, Jean," she said, "and I thought
Gavin would like to know how you looked and felt these days."

Jean flushed indignantly. "You can see how I look easy enough, Mary
Burns," she answered; "but as to how I feel, that is a thing I keep to
myself these days."

"Gavin has furnished a pretty house at the long last, and I am to be the
mistress of it. You will have heard, doubtless, that the school where I
taught so long has been broken up, and so I was on the world, as one may
say, and Gavin could not bear that. He is a good man, is Gavin, and I'm
thinking I shall have a happy time with him in America."

"I hope you will, Mary. Give him a kind wish from me; and I will bid you
'good bye' now, if you please, seeing that I have more sewing to do
to-night than I can well manage."

This event wounded Jean sorely. She felt sure Mary had only called for
an unkind purpose, and that she would cruelly misrepresent her
appearance and condition to Gavin. And no woman likes even a lost lover
to think scornfully of her. But she brought her sewing beside her mother
and talked the affair over with her, and so, at the end of the evening,
went to bed resigned, and even cheerful. Never had they spent a more
confidential, loving night together, and this fact was destined to be a
comfort to Jean during all the rest of her life. For in the morning she
noticed a singular look on her mother's face and at noon she found her
in her chair fast in that sleep which knows no wakening in this world.

It was a blow which put all other considerations far out of Jean's mind.
She mourned with a passionate sorrow her loss, and though Uncle David
came at once to assist her in the necessary arrangements, she suffered
no hand but her own to do the last kind offices for her dear dead. And
oh! how empty and lonely was now the little cottage, while the swift
return to all the ordinary duties of life seemed such a cruel
effacement. Uncle David watched her silently, but on the evening of the
third day after the funeral he said, kindly:

"Dry your eyes, Jean. There is naething to weep for. Your mother is far
beyond tears."

"I cannot bear to forget her a minute, uncle, yet folks go and come and
never name her; and it is not a week since she had a word and a smile
for everybody."

    "Death is forgetfulness, Jean;
                ... 'one lonely way
    We go: and is she gone?
    Is all our best friends say.'

"You must come home with me now, Jean. I canna be what your mother has
been to you, but I'll do the best I can for you, lassie. Sell these bit
sticks o' furniture and shut the door on the empty house and begin a new
life. You've had sorrow about a lad; let him go. All o' the past worth
your keeping you can save in your memory."

"I will be glad to go with you, uncle. I shall be no charge on you. I
can find my own bread if you will just love me a little."

"I'm no that poor, Jean. You are welcome to share my loaf. Put that
weary; thimble and needle awa'; I'll no see you take another stitch."

So Jean followed her uncle's advice and went back with him to Glasgow.
He had never said a word about his home, and Jean knew not what she
expected--certainly nothing more than a small floor in some of the least
expensive streets of the great city. It was dark when they reached
Glasgow, but Jean was sensible of a great change in her uncle's manner
as soon as they left the railway. He made an imperative motion and a
carriage instantly answered it; and they were swiftly driven to a large
dwelling in one of the finest crescents of the West end. He led her into
a handsome parlor and called a servant, and bid her "show Miss Anderson
her rooms;" and thus, without a word of preparation, Jean found herself
surrounded by undreamed of luxury.

Nothing was ever definitely explained to her, but she gradually learned
to understand the strange old man who assumed the guardianship of her
life. His great wealth was evident, and it was not long ere she
discovered that it was largely spent in two directions--scientific
discovery and the Temperance Crusade. Men whose lives were devoted to
chemistry or to electrical investigations, or passionate apostles of
total abstinence from intoxicants were daily at his table; and Jean
could not help becoming an enthusiastic partisan on such matters. One of
the savants, a certain Professor Sharp, fell deeply in love with her;
and she felt it difficult to escape the influence of his wooing, which
had all the persistent patience of a man accustomed "to seek till he
found, and so not lose his labor."

Her life was now very happy. Cautious in giving his love, David Nicoll
gave it freely as soon as he had resolved to adopt his niece. Nor did he
ever regret the gift. "Jean entered my house and she made it a home," he
said to his friends. No words could have better explained the position.
In the winter they entertained with a noble hospitality; in the summer
they sailed far north to the mystical isles of the Western seas; to
Orkney and Zetland and once even as far as the North Cape by the light
of the midnight sun. So the time passed wonderfully away, until Jean was
thirty-two years old. The simple, unlettered girl had then become a
woman of great culture and of perfect physical charm. Wise in many ways,
she yet kept her loving heart, and her uncle delighted in her. "You have
made my auld age parfectly happy, Jean," he said to her on the last
solemn night of his life; "and I thank God for the gift o' your honest
love! Now that I am going the way of all flesh, I have gi'en you every
bawbee I have. I have put no restrictions on you, and I have left nae
dead wishes behind me. You will do as you like wi' the land and the
siller, and you will do right in a' things, I ken that, Jean. If it
should come into your heart to tak' the love Professor Sharp offers you,
I'll be pleased, for he'll never spend a shilling that willna be weel
spent; and he is a clever man, and a good man and he loves you. But it
is a' in your ain will; do as you like, anent either this or that."

This was the fourth great change in Jean's life. Gavin's going away had
opened the doors of her destiny; her father's death had sent her to the
school of self-reliant poverty; her mother's death given her a home of
love and luxury, and now her uncle put her in a position of vast,
untrammeled responsibility. But if love is the joy of life, this was not
the end; the crowning change was yet to come; and now, with both her
hands full, her heart involuntarily turned to her first lover.

About this time, also, Gavin was led to remember Jean. His sister Mary
was going to marry, and the circumstance annoyed him. "I'll have to
store my furniture and pay for the care of it; or I'll have to sell it
at a loss; or I'll have to hire a servant lass, and be robbed on the
right hand and the left," he said fretfully. "It was not in the bargain
that you should marry, and it is very bad behavior in you, Mary."

"Well, Gavin, get married yourself, and the furnishing will not be
wasted," answered Mary. "There is Annie Riley, just dying for the love
of you, and no brighter, smarter girl in New York city."

"She isn't in love with me; she is tired of the Remington all day; and
if I wanted a wife, there is some one better than Annie Riley."

"Jean Anderson?"

"Ay."

"Send for her picture, and you will see what a plain, dowdy old maid she
is. She is not for the like of you, Gavin--a bit country dressmaker,
poor, and past liking."

Gavin said no more, but that night he wrote Jean Anderson the following
letter: "Dear Jean. I wish you would send me a picture of yourself. If
you will not write me a word, you might let me have your face to look
at. Mary is getting herself married, and I will be alone in a few days."
That is enough, he thought; "she will understand that there is a chance
for her yet, if she is as bonnie as in the old days. Mary is not to be
trusted. She never liked Jean. I'll see for myself."

Jean got this letter one warm day in spring, and she "understood" it as
clearly as Gavin intended her to. For a long time she sat thinking it
over, then she went to a drawer for a photo, taken just before her
mother's death. It showed her face without any favor, without even
justice, and the plain merino gown, which was then her best. And with
this picture she wrote--"Dear Gavin. The enclosed was taken five years
since, and there has been changes since."

She did not say what the changes were, but Gavin was sure they were
unfavorable. He gazed at the sad, thoughtful face, the poor plain dress,
and he was disappointed. A girl like that would do his house no honor;
he would not care to introduce her to his fellow clerks; they would not
envy him a bit. Annie Riley was far better looking, and far more
stylish. He decided in favor of Annie Riley.

Jean was not astonished when no answer came. She had anticipated her
failure to please her old lover; but she smiled a little sadly at _his_
failure. Then there came into her mind a suspicion of Mary, an
uncertainty, a lingering hope that some circumstance, not to be guessed
at from a distance, was to blame for Gavin's silence and utter want of
response. It was midsummer, she wanted a breath of the ocean; why should
she not go to New York and quietly see how things were for herself? The
idea took possession of her, and she carried it out.

She knew the name of the large dry goods firm that Gavin served, and the
morning after her arrival in New York she strolled into it for a pair of
gloves. As they were being fitted on she heard Gavin speak, and moving
her position slightly, she saw him leaning against a pile of summer
blankets. He was talking to one of his fellows, and evidently telling a
funny story, at which both giggled and snickered, ere they walked their
separate ways. Being midsummer the store was nearly empty, and Jean, by
varying her purchases, easily kept Gavin in sight. She never for one
moment found the sight a pleasant one. Gavin had deteriorated in every
way. He was no longer handsome; the veil of youth had fallen from him,
and his face, his hands, his figure, his slouching walk, his querulous
authoritative voice, all revealed a man whom Jean repelled at every
point. Years had not refined, they had vulgarized him. His clothing
careless and not quite fresh, offended her taste; in fact, his whole
appearance was of that shabby genteel character, which is far more mean
and plebeian than can be given by undisguised working apparel. As Jean
was taking note of these things a girl, with a flushed, angry face,
spoke to him. She was evidently making a complaint, and Gavin answered
her in a manner which made Jean burn from head to feet. The disillusion
was complete; she never looked at him again, and he never knew she had
looked at him at all.

But after Mary's marriage he heard news which startled him. Mary, under
her new name, wrote to an acquaintance in Lambrig, and this acquaintance
in reply said, "You will have heard that Jean Anderson was left a great
fortune by her uncle, David Nicoll. She is building a home near Lambrig
that is finer than Maxwell Castle; and Lord Maxwell has rented the
castle to her until her new home is finished. You wouldn't ken the looks
of her now, she is that handsome, but weel-a-way, fine feathers aye make
fine birds!"

Gavin fairly trembled when he heard this news, and as he had been with
the firm eleven years and never asked a favor, he resolved to tell them
he had important business in Scotland, and ask for a month's holiday to
attend to it. If he was on the ground he never doubted his personal
influence. "Jean was aye wax in my fingers," he said to Mary.

"There is Annie Riley," answered Mary.

"She will have to give me up. I'll not marry her. I am going to marry
Jean, and settle myself in Scotland."

"Annie is not the girl to be thrown off that kind of way, Gavin. You
have promised to marry her."

"I shall marry Jean Anderson, and then what will Annie do about it, I
would like to know?"

"I think you will find out."

In the fall he obtained permission to go to Scotland for a month, and he
hastened to Lambrig as fast as steam could carry him. He intended no
secret visit; he had made every preparation to fill his old townsmen
with admiration and envy. But things had changed, even in Lambrig. There
was a new innkeeper, who could answer none of his questions, and who did
not remember Minister Anderson and his daughter, Jean. He began to fear
he had come on a fool's errand, and after a leisurely, late breakfast,
he strolled out to make his own investigations.

There was certainly a building on a magnificent scale going up on a
neighboring hill, and he walked toward it. When half way there a
finely-appointed carriage passed him swiftly, but not too swiftly for
him to see that Jean and a very handsome man were its occupants. "It
will be her lawyer or architect," he thought; and he walked rapidly
onward, pleased with himself for having put on his very best walking
suit. There were many workmen on the building, and he fell into
conversation with a man who was mixing mortar; but all the time he was
watching Jean and her escort stepping about the great uncovered spaces
of the new dwelling-house with such an air of mutual trust and happiness
that it angered him.

"Who is the lady?" he asked at length; "she seems to have business
here."

"What for no? The house is her ain. She is Mistress Sharp, and that is
the professor with her. He is a great gun in the Glasgow University."

"They are married, then?"

"Ay, they are married. What are you saying at all? They were married a
month syne, and they are as happy as robins in spring, I'm thinking.
I'll drink their health, sir, if you'll gie me the bit o' siller."

Gavin gave the silver and turned away dazed and sick at heart. His
business in Scotland was over. The quiet Lothian country sickened him;
he turned his face to London, and very soon went back to New York. He
had lost Jean, and he had lost Jean's fortune; and there were no words
to express his chagrin and disappointment. His sister felt the first
weight of it. He blamed her entirely. She had lied to him about Jean's
beauty. He believed he would have liked the photo but for Mary. And all
for Annie Riley! He hated Annie Riley! He was resolved never to marry
her, and he let the girl feel his dislike in no equivocal manner.

For a time Annie was tearful and conciliating. Then she wrote him a
touching letter, and asked him to tell her frankly if he had ceased to
love her, and was resolved to break their marriage off. And Gavin did
tell her, with almost brutal frankness, that he no longer loved her, and
that he had firmly made up his mind not to marry her. He said something
about his heart being in Scotland, but that was only a bit of sentiment
that he thought gave a better air to his unfaithfulness.

Annie did not answer his letter, but Messrs. Howe & Hummel did, and
Gavin soon found himself the centre of a breach of promise trial, with
damages laid at fifty thousand dollars. All his fine poetical love
letters were in the newspapers; he was ashamed to look men and women in
the face; he suffered a constant pillory for weeks; through his vanity,
his self-consciousness, his egotism he was perpetually wounded. But
pretty Annie Riley was the object of public pity and interest, and she
really seemed to enjoy her notoriety. The verdict was righteously enough
in her favor. The jury gave her ten thousand dollars, and all expenses,
and Gavin Burns was a ruined man. His eleven years savings only amounted
to nine thousand dollars, and for the balance he was compelled to sell
his furniture and give notes payable out of his next year's salary. He
wept like a child as he signed these miserable vouchers for his folly,
and for some days was completely prostrated by the evil he had called
unto himself. Then the necessities of his position compelled him to go
to work again, though it was with a completely broken spirit.

"I'm getting on to forty," he said to his sister, "and I am beginning
the world over again! One woman has given me a disappointment that I
will carry to the grave; and another woman is laughing at me, for she
has got all my saved siller, and more too; forbye, she is like to marry
Bob Severs and share it with him. Then I have them weary notes to meet
beyond all. There never was a man so badly used as I have been!"

No one pitied him much. Whatever his acquaintances said to his face he
knew right well their private opinion was that he had received _just
what he deserved_.




AN ONLY OFFER.


"Aunt Phoebe, were you ever pretty?"

"When I was sixteen I was considered so. I was very like you then,
Julia. I am forty-three now, remember."

"Did you ever have an offer--an offer of marriage, I mean, aunt?"

"No. Well, that is not true; I did have one offer."

"And you refused it?"

"No."

"Then he died, or went away?"

"No."

"Or deserted you?"

"No."

"Then you deceived him, I suppose?"

"I did not."

"What ever happened, then? Was he poor, or crippled or something
dreadful"

"He was rich and handsome."

"Suppose you tell me about him."

"I never talk about him to any one."

"Did it happen at the old place?"

"Yes, Julia. I never left Ryelands until I was thirty. This happened
when I was sixteen."

"Was he a farmer's son in the neighborhood?"

"He was a fine city gentleman."

"Oh, aunt, how interesting! Put down your embroidery and tell me about
it; you cannot see to work longer."

Perhaps after so many years of silence a sudden longing for sympathy and
confidence seized the elder lady, for she let her work fall from her
hands, and smiling sadly, said:

"Twenty-seven years ago I was standing one afternoon by the gate at
Ryelands. All the work had been finished early, and my mother and two
elder sisters had gone to the village to see a friend. I had watched
them a little way down the hillside, and was turning to go into the
house, when I saw a stranger on horseback coming up the road. He stopped
and spoke to mother, and this aroused my curiosity; so I lingered at the
gate. He stopped when he reached it, fastened his horse, and asked, 'Is
Mr. Wakefield in?'

"I said, 'father was in the barn, and I could fetch him,' which I
immediately did.

"He was a dark, unpleasant-looking man, and had a masterful way with
him, even to father, that I disliked; but after a short, business-like
talk, apparently satisfactory to both, he went away without entering the
house. Father put his hands in his pockets and watched him out of sight;
then, looking at me, he said, 'Put the spare rooms in order, Phoebe.'

"'They are in order, father; but is that man to occupy them?'

"'Yes, he and his patient, a young gentleman of fine family, who is in
bad health.'

"'Do you know the young gentleman, father?'

"'I know it is young Alfred Compton--that is enough for me.'

"'And the dark man who has just left? I don't like his looks, father.'

"'Nobody wants thee to like his looks. He is Mr. Alfred's physician--a
Dr. Orman, of Boston. Neither of them are any of thy business, so ask no
more questions;' and with that he went back to the barn.

"Mother was not at all astonished. She said there had been letters on
the subject already, and that she had been rather expecting the company.
'But,' she added, 'they will pay well, and as Melissa is to be married
at Christmas, ready money will be very needful.'

"About dark a carriage arrived. It contained two gentlemen and several
large trunks. I had been watching for it behind the lilac trees and I
saw that our afternoon visitor was now accompanied by a slight, very
fair-man, dressed with extreme care in the very highest fashion. I saw
also that he was handsome, and I was quite sure he must be rich, or no
doctor would wait upon him so subserviently.

"This doctor I had disliked at first sight, and I soon began to imagine
that I had good cause to hate him. His conduct to his patient I believed
to be tyrannical and unkind. Some days he insisted that Mr. Compton was
too ill to go out, though the poor gentleman begged for a walk; and
again, mother said, he would take from him all his books, though he
pleaded urgently for them.

"One afternoon the postman brought Dr. Orman a letter, which seemed to
be important, for he asked father to drive him to the next town, and
requested mother to see that Mr. Compton did not leave the house. I
suppose it was not a right thing to do, but this handsome sick stranger,
so hardly used, and so surrounded with mystery, had roused in me a
sincere sympathy for his loneliness and suffering, and I walked through
that part of the garden into which his windows looked. We had been
politely requested to avoid it, 'because the sight of strangers
increased Mr. Compton's nervous condition.' I did not believe this, and
I determined to try the experiment.

"He was leaning out of the window, and a sadder face I never saw. I
smiled and courtesied, and he immediately leaped the low sill, and came
toward me. I stooped and began to tie up some fallen carnations; he
stooped and helped me, saying all the while I know not what, only that
it seemed to me the most beautiful language I ever heard. Then we walked
up and down the long peach walk until I heard the rattle of father's
wagon.

"After this we became quietly, almost secretly, as far as Dr. Orman was
concerned, very great friends. Mother so thoroughly pitied Alfred, that
she not only pretended oblivion of our friendship, but even promoted it
in many ways; and in the course of time Dr. Orman began to recognize its
value. I was requested to walk past Mr. Compton's windows and say 'Good
morning' or offer him a flower or some ripe peaches, and finally to
accompany the gentlemen in their short rambles in the neighborhood.

"I need not tell you how all this restricted intercourse ended. We were
soon deeply in love with each other, and love ever finds out the way to
make himself understood. We had many a five minutes' meeting no one knew
of, and when these were impossible, a rose bush near his window hid for
me the tenderest little love-letters. In fact, Julia, I found him
irresistible; he was so handsome and gentle, and though he must have
been thirty-five years old, yet, to my thinking, he looked handsomer
than any younger man could have done.

"As the weeks passed on, the doctor seemed to have more confidence in
us, or else his patient was more completely under control. They had much
fewer quarrels, and Alfred and I walked in the garden, and even a little
way up the hill without opposition or remark. I do not know how I
received the idea, but I certainly did believe that Dr. Orman was
keeping Alfred sick for some purpose of his own, and I determined to
take the first opportunity of arousing Alfred's suspicions. So one
evening, when we were walking alone, I asked him if he did not wish to
see his relatives.

"He trembled violently, and seemed in the greatest distress, and only by
the tenderest words could I soothe him, as, half sobbing, he declared
that they were his bitterest enemies, and that Dr. Orman was the only
friend he had in the world. Any further efforts I made to get at the
secret of his life were equally fruitless, and only threw him into
paroxysms of distress. During the month of August he was very ill, or at
least Dr. Orman said so. I scarcely saw him, there were no letters in
the rose bush, and frequently the disputes between the two men rose to a
pitch which father seriously disliked.

"One hot day in September everyone was in the fields or orchard; only
the doctor and Alfred and I were in the house. Early in the afternoon a
boy came from the village with a letter to Dr. Orman, and he seemed very
much perplexed, and at a loss how to act. At length he said, 'Miss
Phoebe, I must go to the village for a couple of hours; I think Mr.
Alfred will sleep until my return, but if not, will you try and amuse
him?'

"I promised gladly, and Dr. Orman went back to the village with the
messenger. No sooner was he out of sight than Alfred appeared, and we
rambled about the garden, as happy as two lovers could be. But the day
was extremely hot, and as the afternoon advanced, the heat increased. I
proposed then that we should walk up the hill, where there was generally
a breeze, and Alfred was delighted at the larger freedom it promised us.

"But in another hour the sky grew dark and lurid, and I noticed that
Alfred grew strangely restless. His cheeks flushed, his eyes had a wild
look of terror in them, he trembled and started, and in spite of all my
efforts to soothe him, grew irritable and gloomy. Yet he had just asked
me to marry him, and I had promised I would. He had called me 'his
wife,' and I had told him again my suspicions about Dr. Orman, and
vowed to nurse him myself back to perfect health. We had talked, too, of
going to Europe, and in the eagerness and delight of our new plans, had
wandered quite up to the little pine forest at the top of the hill.

"Then I noticed Alfred's excited condition, and saw also that we were
going to have a thunder storm. There was an empty log hut not far away,
and I urged Alfred to try and reach it before the storm, broke. But he
became suddenly like a child in his terror, and it was only with the
greatest difficulty I got him within its shelter.

"As peal after peal of thunder crashed above us, Alfred seemed to lose
all control of himself, and, seriously offended, I left him, nearly
sobbing, in a corner, and went and stood by myself in the open door. In
the very height of the storm I saw my father, Dr. Orman and three of our
workmen coming through the wood. They evidently suspected our
sheltering-place, for they came directly toward it.

"'Alfred!' shouted Dr. Orman, in the tone of an angry master, 'where are
you, sir? Come here instantly.'

"My pettedness instantly vanished, and I said: 'Doctor, you have no
right to speak to Alfred in that way. He is going to be my husband, and
I shall not permit it any more.'

"'Miss Wakefield,' he answered, 'this is sheer folly. Look here!'

"I turned, and saw Alfred crouching in a corner, completely paralyzed
with terror; and yet, when Dr. Orman spoke to him, he rose mechanically
as a dog might follow his master's call.

"'I am sorry, Miss Wakefield, to destroy your fine romance. Mr. Alfred
Compton is, as you perceive, not fit to marry any lady. In fact, I am
his--_keeper_.'"

"Oh, Aunt Phoebe! Surely he was not a lunatic!"

"So they said, Julia. His frantic terror was the only sign I saw of it;
but Dr. Orman told my father that he was at times really dangerous, and
that he was annually paid a large sum to take charge of him, as he
became uncontrollable in an asylum."

"Did you see him again?"

"No. I found a little note in the rose bush, saying that he was not mad;
that he remembered my promise to be his wife, and would surely come some
day and claim me. But they left in three days, and Melissa,
whose wedding outfit was curtailed in consequence, twitted me very
unkindly about my fine crazy lover. It was a little hard on me, for he
was the only lover I ever had. Melissa and Jane both married, and went
west with their husbands; I lived on at Ryelands, a faded little old
maid, until my uncle Joshua sent for me to come to New York and keep
his fine house for him. You know that he left me all he had when he
died, nearly two years ago. Then I sent for you. I remembered my own
lonely youth, and thought I would give you a fair chance, dear."

"Did you ever hear of him again, aunt?"

"Of him, never. His elder brother died more than a year ago. I suppose
Alfred died many years since; he was very frail and delicate. I thought
it was refinement and beauty then; I know now it was ill health."

"Poor aunt!"

"Nay, child; I was very happy while my dream lasted; and I never will
believe but that Alfred in his love for me was quite sane, and perhaps
more sincere than many wiser men."

After this confidence Miss Phoebe seemed to take a great pleasure in
speaking of the little romance of her youth. Often the old and the young
maidens sat in the twilight discussing the probabilities of poor Alfred
Compton's life and death, and every discussion left them more and more
positive that he had been the victim of some cruel plot. The subject
never tired Miss Phoebe, and Julia, in the absence of a lover of her
own, found in it a charm quite in keeping with her own youthful dreams.

One cold night in the middle of January they had talked over the old
subject until both felt it to be exhausted--at least for that night.
Julia drew aside the heavy satin curtains, and looking out said, "It is
snowing heavily, aunt; to-morrow we can have a sleigh ride. Why, there
is a sleigh at our door! Who can it be? A gentleman, aunt, and he is
coming here."

"Close the curtains, child. It is my lawyer, Mr. Howard. He promised to
call to-night."

"Oh, dear! I was hoping it was some nice strange person."

Miss Phoebe did not answer; her thoughts were far away. In fact, she had
talked about her old lover until there had sprung up anew in her heart a
very strong sentimental affection for his memory; and when the servant
announced a visitor on business, she rose with a sigh from her
reflections, and went into the reception-room.

In a few minutes Julia heard her voice, in rapid, excited tones, and ere
she could decide whether to go to her or not, Aunt Phoebe entered the
room, holding by the hand a gentleman whom she announced as Mr. Alfred
Compton. Julia was disappointed, to say the least, but she met him with
enthusiasm. Perhaps Aunt Phoebe had quite unconsciously magnified the
beauty of the youthful Alfred: certainly this one was not handsome. He
was sixty, at least, his fair curling locks had vanished, and his fine
figure was slightly bent. But the clear, sensitive face remained, and he
was still dressed with scrupulous care.

The two women made much of him. In half an hour Delmonico had furnished
a delicious little banquet, and Alfred drank his first glass of wine
with an old-fashioned grace "to his promised wife, Miss Phoebe
Wakefield, best and loveliest of women."

Miss Phoebe laughed, but she dearly liked it; and hand in hand the two
old lovers sat, while Alfred told his sad little story of life-long
wrong and suffering; of an intensely nervous, self-conscious nature,
driven to extremity by cruel usage and many wrongs. At the mention of
Dr. Orman Miss Phoebe expressed herself a little bitterly.

"Nay, Phoebe," said Alfred; "whatever he was when my brother put me in
his care, he became my true friend. To his skill and patience I owe my
restoration to perfect health; and to his firm advocacy of my right and
ability to manage my own estate I owe the position I now hold, and my
ability to come and ask Phoebe to redeem her never-forgotten promise."

Perhaps Julia got a little tired of these old-fashioned lovers, but they
never tired of each other. Miss Phoebe was not the least abashed by any
contrast between her ideal and her real Alfred, and Alfred was never
weary of assuring her that he found her infinitely more delightful and
womanly than in the days of their first courtship.

She cannot even call them a "silly" or "foolish" couple, or use any
other relieving phrase of that order, for Miss Phoebe--or rather Mrs.
Compton--resents any word as applied to Mr. Alfred Compton that would
imply less than supernatural wisdom and intelligence. "No one but those
who have known him as long as I have," she continually avers, "can
possibly estimate the superior information and infallible judgment of my
husband."




TWO FAIR DECEIVERS.


What do young men talk about when they sit at the open windows smoking
on summer evenings? Do you suppose it is of love? Indeed, I suspect it
is of money; or, if not of money, then, at least, of something that
either makes money or spends it.

Cleve Sullivan has been spending his for four years in Europe, and he
has just been telling his friend John Selden how he spent it. John has
spent his in New York--he is inclined to think just as profitably. Both
stories conclude in the same way.

"I have not a thousand dollars left, John."

"Nor I, Cleve."

"I thought your cousin died two years ago; surely you have not spent all
the old gentleman's money already?"

"I only got $20,000; I owed half of it."

"Only $20,000! What did he do with it?"

"Gave it to his wife. He married a beauty about a year after you went
away, died in a few months afterward, and left her his whole fortune. I
had no claim on him. He educated me, gave me a profession, and $20,000.
That was very well: he was only my mother's cousin."

"And the widow--where is she?"

"Living at his country-seat. I have never seen her. She was one of the
St. Maurs, of Maryland."

"Good family, and all beauties. Why don't you marry the widow?"

"Why, I never thought of such a thing."

"You can't think of anything better. Write her a little note at once;
say that you and I will soon be in her neighborhood, and that gratitude
to your cousin, and all that kind of thing--then beg leave to call and
pay respects," etc., etc.

John demurred a good deal to the plan, but Cleve was masterful, and the
note was written, Cleve himself putting it in the post-office.

That was on Monday night. On Wednesday morning the widow Clare found it
with a dozen others upon her breakfast table. She was a dainty,
high-bred little lady, with

    "Eyes that drowse with dreamy splendor,
    Cheeks with rose-leaf tintings tender,
        Lips like fragrant posy,"

and withal a kind, hospitable temper, well inclined to be happy in the
happiness of others.

But this letter could not be answered with the usual polite formula. She
was quite aware that John Selden had regarded himself for many years as
his cousin's heir, and that her marriage with the late Thomas Clare had
seriously altered his prospects. Women easily see through the best laid
plans of men, and this plan was transparent enough to the shrewd little
widow. John would scarcely have liked the half-contemptuous shrug and
smile which terminated her private thoughts on the matter.

"Clementine, if you could spare a moment from your fashion paper, I want
to consult you, dear, about a visitor."

Clementine raised her blue eyes, dropped her paper, and said, "Who is
it, Fan?"

"It is John Selden. If Mr. Clare had not married me, he would have
inherited the Clare estate. I think he is coming now in order to see if
it is worth while asking for, encumbered by his cousin's widow."

"What selfishness! Write and tell him that you are just leaving for the
Suez Canal, or the Sandwich Islands, or any other inconvenient place."

"No; I have a better plan than that--Clementine, do stop reading a few
minutes. I will take that pretty cottage at Ryebank for the summer, and
Mr. Selden and his friend shall visit us there. No one knows us in the
place, and I will take none of the servants with me."

"Well?"

"Then, Clementine, you are to be the widow Clare, and I your poor
friend and companion."

"Good! very good! 'The Fair Deceivers'--an excellent comedy. How I shall
snub you, Fan! And for once I shall have the pleasure of outdressing
you. But has not Mr. Selden seen you?"

"No; I was married in Maryland, and went immediately to Europe. I came
back a widow two years ago, but Mr. Selden has never remembered me until
now. I wonder who this friend is that he proposes to bring with him?"

"Oh, men always think in pairs, Fan. They never decide on anything until
their particular friend approves. I dare say they wrote the letter
together. What is the gentleman's name?"

The widow examined the note. "'My friend Mr. Cleve Sullivan.' Do you
know him, Clementine?"

"No; I am quite sure that I never saw Mr. Cleve Sullivan. I don't fall
in love with the name--do you? But pray accept the offer for both
gentlemen, Fan, and write this morning, dear." Then Clementine returned
to the consideration of the lace in _coquilles_ for her new evening
dress.

The plan so hastily sketched was subsequently thoroughly discussed and
carried out. The cottage at Ryebank was taken, and one evening at the
end of June the two ladies took possession of it. The new widow Clare
had engaged a maid in New York, and fell into her part with charming
ease and a very pretty assumption of authority; and the real widow, in
her plain dress and pensive, quiet manners, realized effectively the
idea of a cultivated but dependent companion. They had two days in which
to rehearse their parts and get all the household machinery in order,
and then the gentlemen arrived at Ryebank.

Fan and Clementine were quite ready for their first call; the latter in
a rich and exquisite morning costume, the former in a simple dress of
spotted lawn. Clementine went through the introductions with consummate
ease of manner, and in half an hour they were a very pleasant party.
John's "cousinship" afforded an excellent basis for informal
companionship, and Clementine gave it full prominence. Indeed, in a few
days John began to find the relationship tiresome; it had been "Cousin
John, do this," and "Cousin John, come here," continually; and one night
when Cleve and he sat down to smoke their final cigar, he was irritable
enough to give his objections the form of speech.

"Cleve, to tell you the honest truth, I do not like Mrs. Clare."

"I think she is a very lovely woman, John."

"I say nothing against her beauty, Cleve; I don't like her, and I have
no mind to occupy the place that beautiful ill-used Miss Marat fills.
The way Cousin Clare ignores or snubs a woman to whom she is every way
inferior makes me angry enough, I assure you."

"Don't fall in love with the wrong woman, John."

"Your advice is too late, Cleve; I am in love. There is no use in us
deceiving ourselves or each other. You seem to like the widow--why not
marry her? I am quite willing you should."

"Thank you, John; I have already made some advances that way. They have
been favorably received, I think."

"You are so handsome, a fellow has no chance against you. But we shall
hardly quarrel, if you do not interfere between lovely little Clement
and myself."

"I could not afford to smile on her, John; she is too poor. And what on
earth are you going to do with a poor wife? Nothing added to nothing
will not make a decent living."

"I am going to ask her to be my wife, and if she does me the honor to
say 'Yes,' I will make a decent living out of my profession."

From this time forth John devoted himself with some ostentation to his
supposed cousin's companion. He was determined to let the widow
perceive that he had made his choice, and that he could not be bought
with her money. Mr. Selden and Miss Marat were always together, and the
widow did not interfere between her companion and her cousin. Perhaps
she was rather glad of their close friendship, for the handsome Cleve
made a much more delightful attendant. Thus the party fell quite
naturally into couples, and the two weeks that the gentlemen had first
fixed as the limit of their stay lengthened into two months.

It was noticeable that as the ladies became more confidential with their
lovers, they had less to say to each other; and it began at last to be
quite evident to the real widow that the play must end for the present,
or the _denouement_ would come prematurely. Circumstances favored her
determination. One night Clementine, with a radiant face, came into her
friend's room, and said, "Fan, I have something to tell you. Cleve has
asked me to marry him."

"Now, Clement, you have told him all; I know you have."

"Not a word, Fan. He still believes me the widow Clare."

"Did you accept him?"

"Conditionally. I am to give him a final answer when we go to the city
in October. You are going to New York this winter, are you not?"

"Yes. Our little play progresses finely. John Selden asked me to be his
wife to-night."

"I told you men think and act in pairs."

"John is a noble fellow. I pretended to think that his cousin had
ill-used him, and he defended him until I was ashamed of myself;
absolutely said, Clement, that _you_ were a sufficient excuse for Mr.
Clare's will. Then he blamed his own past idleness so much, and promised
if I would only try and endure 'the slings and arrows' of your
outrageous temper, Clement, for two years longer, he would have made a
home for me in which I could be happy. Yes, Clement, I should marry John
Selden if we had not a five-dollar bill between us."

"I wish Cleve had been a little more explicit about his money affairs.
However, there is time enough yet. When they leave to-morrow, what shall
we do?"

"We will remain here another month; Levine will have the house ready for
me by that time. I have written to him about refurnishing the parlors."

So next day the lovers parted, with many promises of constant letters
and future happy days together. The interval was long and dull enough;
but it passed, and one morning both gentlemen received notes of
invitation to a small dinner party at the widow Clare's mansion in ----
street. There was a good deal of dressing for this party. Cleve wished
to make his entrance into his future home as became the prospective
master of a million and a half of money, and John was desirous of not
suffering in Clement's eyes by any comparison with the other gentlemen
who would probably be there.

Scarcely had they entered the drawing-room when the ladies appeared, the
true widow Clare no longer in the unassuming toilet she had hitherto
worn, but magnificent in white crepe lisse and satin, her arms and
throat and pretty head flashing with sapphires and diamonds. Her
companion had assumed now the role of simplicity, and Cleve was
disappointed with the first glance at her plain white Chambery gauze
dress.

John had seen nothing but the bright face of the girl he loved and the
love-light in her eyes. Before she could speak he had taken both her
hands and whispered, "Dearest and best and loveliest Clement."

Her smile answered him first. Then she said: "Pardon me, Mr. Selden, but
we have been in masquerade all summer, and now we must unmask before
real life begins. My name is not Clementine Marat, but Fanny Clare.
_Cousin John_, I hope you are not disappointed." Then she put her hand
into John's, and they wandered off into the conservatory to finish their
explanation.

Mr. Cleve Sullivan found himself at that moment in the most trying
circumstance of his life. The real Clementine Marat stood looking down
at a flower on the carpet, and evidently expecting him to resume the
tender attitude he had been accustomed to bear toward her. He was a man
of quick decisions where his own interests were concerned, and it did
not take him half a minute to review his position and determine what to
do. This plain blonde girl without fortune was not the girl he could
marry; she had deceived him, too--he had a sudden and severe spasm of
morality; his confidence was broken; he thought it was very poor sport
to play with a man's most sacred feelings; he had been deeply
disappointed and grieved, etc., etc.

Clementine stood perfectly still, with her eyes fixed on the carpet and
her cheeks gradually flushing, as Cleve made his awkward accusations.
She gave him no help and she made no defence, and it soon becomes
embarrassing for a man to stand in the middle of a large drawing-room
and talk to himself about any girl. Cleve felt it so.

"Have you done, sir?" at length she asked, lifting to his face a pair of
blue eyes, scintillating with scorn and anger. "I promised you my final
answer to your suit when we met in New York. You have spared me that
trouble. Good evening, sir."

Clementine showed to no one her disappointment, and she probably soon
recovered from it. Her life was full of many other pleasant plans and
hopes, and she could well afford to let a selfish lover pass out of it.
She remained with her friend until after the marriage between her and
John Selden had been consummated; and then Cleve saw her name among the
list of passengers sailing on one particular day for Europe. As John and
his bride left on the same steamer Cleve supposed, of course, she had
gone in their company.

"Nice thing it would have been for Cleve Sullivan to marry John Selden's
wife's maid, or something or other? John always was a lucky fellow. Some
fellows are always unlucky in love affairs--I always am."

Half a year afterward he reiterated this statement with a great deal of
unnecessary emphasis. He was just buttoning his gloves preparatory to
starting for his afternoon drive, when an old acquaintance hailed him.

"Oh, it's that fool Belmar," he muttered; "I shall have to offer him a
ride. I thought he was in Paris. Hello, Belmar, when did you get back?
Have a ride?"

"No, thank you. I have promised my wife to ride with her this
afternoon."

"Your wife! When were you married?"

"Last month, in Paris."

"And the happy lady was--"

"Why, I thought you knew; everyone is talking about my good fortune.
Mrs. Belmar is old Paul Marat's only child."

"What?"

"Miss Clementine Marat. She brings me nearly $3,000,000 in money and
real estate, and a heart beyond all price."

"How on earth did you meet her?"

"She was traveling with Mr. and Mrs. Selden--you know John Selden. She
has lived with Mrs. Selden ever since she left school; they were friends
when they were girls together."

Cleve gathered up his reins, and nodding to Mr. Frank Belmar, drove at a
finable rate up the avenue and through the park. He could not trust
himself to speak to any one, and when he did, the remark which he made
to himself in strict confidence was not flattering. For once Mr. Cleve
Sullivan told Mr. Cleve Sullivan that he had been badly punished, and
that he well deserved it.




THE TWO MR. SMITHS.


"It is not either her money or her position that dashes me, Carrol; it
is my own name. Think of asking Eleanor Bethune to become Mrs. William
Smith! If it had been Alexander Smith--"

"Or Hyacinth Smith."

"Yes, Hyacinth Smith would have done; but plain William Smith!"

"Well, as far as I can see, you are not to blame. Apologize to the lady
for the blunder of your godfathers and godmothers. Stupid old parties!
They ought to have thought of Hyacinth;" and Carrol threw his cigar into
the fire and began to buckle on his spurs.

"Come with me, Carrol."

"No, thank you. It is against my principles to like anyone better than
myself, and Alice Fontaine is a temptation to do so."

"_I_ don't like Alice's style at all."

"Of course not. Alice's beauty, as compared with Mrs. Bethune's settled
income, is skin-deep."

If sarcasm was intended, Smith did not perceive it. He took the
criticism at its face value, and answered, "Yes, Eleanor's income is
satisfactory; and besides that, she has all kinds of good qualities,
and several accomplishments. If I only could offer her, with myself, a
suitable name for them!"

"Could you not, in taking Mrs. Bethune and her money, take her name
also?"

"N-n-no. A man does not like to lose all his individuality in his
wife's, Carrol."

"Well, then, I have no other suggestion, and I am going to ride."

So Carrol went to the park, and Smith went to his mirror. The occupation
gave him the courage he wanted. He was undoubtedly a very handsome man,
and he had, also, very fine manners; indeed, he would have been a very
great man if the world had only been a drawing-room, for, polished and
fastidious, he dreaded nothing so much as an indecorum, and had the air
of being uncomfortable unless his hands were in kid gloves.

Smith had a standing invitation to Mrs. Bethune's five-o'clock teas, and
he was always considered an acquisition. He was also very fond of going
to them; for under no circumstances was Mrs. Bethune so charming. To see
her in this hour of perfect relaxation was to understand how great and
beautiful is the art of idleness. Her ease and grace, her charming
aimlessness, her indescribable air of inaction, were all so many proofs
of her having been born in the purple of wealth and fashion; no parvenu
could ever hope to imitate them.

Alice Fontaine never tried. She had been taken from a life of polite
shifts and struggles by her cousin, Mrs. Bethune, two years before; and
the circumstances that were to the one the mere accidents of her
position were to the other a real holiday-making.

Alice met Mr. Smith with _empressement_, fluttered about the tea-tray
like a butterfly, wasted her bonmots and the sugar recklessly, and was
as full of pretty animation as her cousin Bethune was of elegant repose.

"I am glad you are come, Mr. Smith," said Mrs. Bethune. "Alice has been
trying to spur me into a fight. I don't want to throw a lance in. Now
you can be my substitute."

"Mr. Smith," said Alice impetuously, "don't you think that women ought
to have the same rights as men?"

"Really, Miss Alice, I--I don't know. When women have got what they call
their 'rights,' do they expect to keep what they call their 'privileges'
also?"

"Certainly they do. When they have driven the men to emigrate, to scrub
floors, and to jump into the East River, they will still expect the
corner seat, the clean side of the road, the front place, and the pick
of everything."

"Ah, indeed! And when all the public and private business of the
country is in their hands, will they still expect to find time for
five-o'clock teas?"

"Yes, sir. They will conduct the affairs of this regenerated country,
and not neglect either their music or their pets, their dress or their
drawing-room. They will be perfectly able to do the one, and not leave
the other undone."

"Glorious creatures! Then they will accomplish what men have been trying
to do ever since the world began. They will get two days' work out of
one day."

"Of course they will."

"But how?"

"Oh, machines and management. It will be done."

"But your answer is illogical, Miss Alice."

"Of course. Men always take refuge in their logic; and yet, with all
their boasted skill, they have never mastered the useful and elementary
proposition, 'It will be, because it will be.'"

Mr. Smith was very much annoyed at the tone Alice was giving to the
conversation. She was treating him as a joke, and he felt how impossible
it was going to be to get Mrs. Bethune to treat him seriously. Indeed,
before he could restore the usual placid, tender tone of their
_tete-a-tete_ tea, two or three ladies joined the party, and the hour
was up, and the opportunity lost.

However, he was not without consolation: Eleanor's hand had rested a
moment very tenderly in his; he had seen her white cheek flush and her
eyelids droop, and he felt almost sure that he was beloved. And as he
had determined that night to test his fortune, he was not inclined to
let himself be disappointed. Consequently he decided on writing to her,
for he was rather proud of his letters; and, indeed, it must be
confessed that he had an elegant and eloquent way of putting any case in
which he was personally interested.

Eleanor Bethune thought so. She received his proposal on her return from
a very stupid party, and as soon as she saw his writing she began to
consider how much more delightful the evening would have been if Mr.
Smith had been present. His glowing eulogies on her beauty, and his
passionate descriptions of his own affection, his hopes and his
despairs, chimed in with her mood exactly. Already his fine person and
manners had made a great impression on her; she had been very near
loving him; nothing, indeed, had been needed but that touch of
electricity conveyed in the knowledge that she was beloved.

Such proposals seldom or never take women unawares. Eleanor had been
expecting it, and had already decided on her answer. So, after a short,
happy reflection, she opened her desk and wrote Mr. Smith a few lines
which she believed would make him supremely happy.

Then she went to Alice's room and woke her out of her first sleep. "Oh,
you lazy girl; why did you not crimp your hair? Get up again, Alice
dear; I have a secret to tell you. I am--going--to--marry--Mr.--Smith."

"I knew some catastrophe was impending, Eleanor; I have felt it all day.
Poor Eleanor!"

"Now, Alice, be reasonable. What do you think of him--honestly, you
know?"

"The man has excellent qualities; for instance, a perfect taste in
cravats and an irreproachable propriety. Nobody ever saw him in any
position out of the proper centre of gravity. Now, there is Carrol,
always sitting round on tables or easels, or if on a chair, on the back
or arms, or any way but as other Christians sit. Then Mr. Smith is
handsome; very much so."

"Oh, you do admit that?"

"Yes; but I don't myself like men of the hairdresser style of beauty."

"Alice, what makes you dislike him so much?"

"Indeed, I don't, Eleanor. I think he is very 'nice,' and very
respectable. Every one will say, 'What a suitable match!' and I dare say
you will be very happy. He will do everything you tell him to do,
Eleanor; and--oh dear me!--how I should hate a husband of that kind!"

"You little hypocrite!--with your talk of woman's 'rights' and woman's
supremacy.'"

"No, Eleanor love, don't call it hypocrisy, please; say
_many-sidedness_--it is a more womanly definition. But if it is really
to be so, then I wish you joy, cousin. And what are you going to wear?"

This subject proved sufficiently attractive to keep Alice awake a couple
of hours. She even crimped her hair in honor of the bridal shopping; and
before matters had been satisfactorily arranged she was so full of
anticipated pleasures that she felt really grateful to the author of
them, and permitted herself to speak with enthusiasm of the bridegroom.

"He'll be a sight to see, Eleanor, on his marriage day. There won't be a
handsomer man, nor a better dressed man, in America, and his clothes
will all come from Paris, I dare say."

"I think we will go to Paris first." Then Eleanor went into a graphic
description of the glories and pleasures of Paris, as she had
experienced them during her first bridal tour. "It is the most
fascinating city in the world, Alice."

"I dare say, but it is a ridiculous shame having it in such an
out-of-the-way place. What is the use of having a Paris, when one has to
sail three thousand miles to get at it? Eleanor, I feel that I shall
have to go."

"So you shall, dear; I won't go without you."

"Oh, no, darling; not with Mr. Smith: I really could not. I shall have
to try and manage matters with Mr. Carrol. We shall quarrel all the way
across, of course, but then--"

"Why don't you adopt his opinions, Alice?"

"I intend to--for a little while; but it is impossible to go on with the
same set of opinions forever. Just think how dull conversation would
become!"

"Well, dear, you may go to sleep now, for mind, I shall want you down to
breakfast before eleven. I have given 'Somebody' permission to call at
five o'clock to-morrow--or rather to-day--and we shall have a
_tete-a-tete_ tea."

Alice determined that it should be strictly _tete-a-tete._ She went to
spend the afternoon with Carrol's sisters, and stayed until she thought
the lovers had had ample time to make their vows and arrange their
wedding.

There was a little pout on her lips as she left Carrol outside the
door, and slowly bent her steps to Eleanor's private parlor. She was
trying to make up her mind to be civil to her cousin's new
husband-elect, and the temptation to be anything else was very strong.

"I shall be dreadfully in the way--_his way_, I mean--and he will want
to send me out of the room, and I shall not go--no, not if I fall asleep
on a chair looking at him."

With this decision, the most amiable she could reach, Alice entered the
parlor. Eleanor was alone, and there was a pale, angry look on her face
Alice could not understand.

"Shut the door, dear."

"Alone?"

"I have been so all evening."

"Have you quarreled with Mr. Smith?"

"Mr. Smith did not call."

"Not come!"

"Nor yet sent any apology."

The two women sat looking into each other's faces a few moments, both
white and silent.

"What will you do, Eleanor?"

"Nothing."

"But he may be sick, or he may not have got your letter. Such queer
mistakes do happen."

"Parker took it to his hotel; the clerk said he was still in his room;
it was sent to him in Parker's sight and hearing. There is not any doubt
but that he received it."

"Well, suppose he did not. Still, if he really cares for you, he is
hardly likely to take your supposed silence for an absolute refusal. I
have said 'No' to Carrol a dozen times, and he won't stay 'noed.' Mr.
Smith will be sure to ask for a personal interview."

Eleanor answered drearily: "I suppose he will pay me that respect;" but
through this little effort at assertion it was easy to detect the white
feather of mistrust. She half suspected the touchy self-esteem of Mr.
Smith. If she had merely been guilty of a breach of good manners toward
him, she knew that he would deeply resent it; how, then, when she
had--however innocently--given him the keenest personal slight?

Still she wished to accept Alice's cheerful view of the affair, and what
is heartily wished is half accomplished. Ere she fell asleep she had
quite decided that her lover would call the following day, and her
thoughts were busy with the pleasant amends she would make him for any
anxiety he might have suffered.

But Mr. Smith did not call the following day, nor on many following
ones, and a casual lady visitor destroyed Eleanor's last hope that he
would ever call again, for, after a little desultory gossip, she said,
"You will miss Mr. Smith very much at your receptions, and brother Sam
says he is to be away two years."

"So long?" asked Eleanor, with perfect calmness.

"I believe so. I thought the move very sudden, but Sam says he has been
talking about the trip for six months."

"Really!--Alice, dear, won't you bring that piece of Burslam pottery for
Mrs. Hollis to look at?"

So the wonderful cup and saucer were brought, and they caused a
diversion so complete that Mr. Smith and his eccentric move were not
named again during the visit. Nor, indeed, much after it. "What is the
use of discussing a hopelessly disagreeable subject?" said Eleanor to
Alice's first offer of sympathy. To tell the truth, the mere mention of
the subject made her cross, for young women of the finest fortunes do
not necessarily possess the finest tempers.

Carrol's next visit was looked for with a good deal of interest.
Naturally it was thought that he would know all about his friend's
singular conduct. But he professed to be as much puzzled as Alice. "He
supposed it was something about Mrs. Bethune; he had always told Smith
not to take a pretty, rich woman like her into his calculations. For
his part, if he had been desirous of marrying an heiress, and felt that
he had a gift that way, he should have looked out a rich German girl;
they had less nonsense about them," etc.

That was how the affair ended as far as Eleanor was concerned. Of course
she suffered, but she was not of that generation of women who parade
their suffering. Beautiful and self-respecting, she was, above all,
endowed with physical self-control. Even Alice was spared the hysterical
sobbings and faintings and other signs of pathological distress common
to weak women.

Perhaps she was more silent and more irritable than usual, but Eleanor
Bethune's heartache for love never led her to the smallest social
impropriety. Whatever she suffered, she did not refuse the proper
mixture of colors in her hat, or neglect her tithe of the mint, anise
and cummin due to her position.

Eleanor's reticence, however, had this good effect--it compelled Alice
to talk Smith's singular behavior over with Carrol; and somehow, in
discussing Smith, they got to understand each other; so that, after all,
it was Alice's and not Eleanor's bridal shopping that was to do. And
there is something very assuaging to grief in this occupation. Before
it was completed, Eleanor had quite recovered her placid, sunshiny
temper.

"Consolation, thy name is satin and lace!" said Alice, thankfully, to
herself, as she saw Eleanor so tired and happy about the wedding finery.

At first Alice had been quite sure that she would go to Paris, and
nowhere else; but Eleanor noticed that in less than a week Carrol's
influence was paramount. "We have got a better idea, Eleanor--quite a
novel one," she said, one morning. "We are going to make our bridal trip
in Carrol's yacht!"

"Whose idea is that?"

"Carrol's and _mine too_, of course. Carrol says it is the jolliest
life. You leave all your cares and bills on shore behind you. You issue
your own sailing orders, and sail away into space with an easy
conscience"

"But I thought you were bent on a European trip?"

"The yacht will be ever so much nicer. Think of the nuisance of
ticket-offices and waiting-rooms and second-class hotels and troublesome
letters waiting for you at your banker's, and disagreeable paragraphs in
the newspapers. I think Carrol's idea is splendid."

So the marriage took place at the end of the season, and Alice and
Carrol sailed happily away into the unknown. Eleanor was at a loss what
to do with herself. She wanted to go to Europe; but Mr. Smith had gone
there, and she felt sure that some unlucky accident would throw them
together. It was not her nature to court embarrassments; so Europe was
out of the question.

While she was hesitating she called one day on Celeste Reid--a beautiful
girl who had been a great belle, but was now a confirmed invalid. "I am
going to try the air of Colorado, Mrs. Bethune," she said. "Papa has
heard wonderful stories about it. Come with our party. We shall have a
special car, and the trip will at least have the charm of novelty."

"And I love the mountains, Celeste. I will join you with pleasure. I was
dreading the old routine in the old places; but this will be
delightful."

Thus it happened that one evening in the following August Mrs. Bethune
found herself slowly strolling down the principal street in Denver. It
was a splendid sunset, and in its glory the Rocky Mountains rose like
Titanic palaces built of amethyst, gold and silver. Suddenly the look of
intense pleasure on her face was changed for one of wonder and
annoyance. It had become her duty in a moment to do a very disagreeable
thing; but duty was a kind of religion to Eleanor Bethune; she never
thought of shirking it.

So she immediately inquired her way to the telegraph office, and even
quickened her steps into as fast a walk as she ever permitted herself.
The message she had to send was a peculiar and not a pleasant one. At
first she thought it would hardly be possible for her to frame it in
such words as she would care to dictate to strangers; but she firmly
settled on the following form:

"_Messrs. Locke & Lord_:

"Tell brother Edward that Bloom is in Denver. No delay. The matter is of
the greatest importance."

When she had dictated the message, the clerk said, "Two dollars, madam."
But greatly to Eleanor's annoyance her purse was not in her pocket, and
she could not remember whether she had put it there or not. The man
stood looking at her in an expectant way; she felt that any delay about
the message might be fatal to its worth; perplexity and uncertainty
ruled her absolutely. She was about to explain her dilemma, and return
to her hotel for money, when a gentleman, who had heard and watched the
whole proceeding, said:

"Madam, I perceive that time is of great importance to you, and that you
have lost your purse; allow me to pay for the message. You can return
the money if you wish. My name is William Smith. I am staying at the
'American.'"

"Thank you, sir. The message is of the gravest importance to my brother.
I gratefully accept your offer."

Further knowledge proved Mr. William Smith to be a New York capitalist
who was slightly known to three of the gentlemen in Eleanor's party; so
that the acquaintance began so informally was very speedily afterward
inaugurated with all the forms and ceremonies good society demands. It
was soon possible, too, for Eleanor to explain the circumstances which,
even in her code of strict etiquette, made a stranger's offer of money
for the hour a thing to be gratefully accepted. She had seen in the door
of the post-office a runaway cashier of her brother's, and his speedy
arrest involved a matter of at least forty thousand dollars.

This Mr. William Smith was a totally different man to Eleanor's last
lover--a bright, energetic, alert business man, decidedly handsome and
gentlemanly. Though his name was greatly against him in Eleanor's
prejudices, she found herself quite unable to resist the cheery,
pleasant influence he carried with him. And it was evident from the very
first day of their acquaintance that Mr. William Smith had but one
thought--the winning of Eleanor Bethune.

When she returned to New York in the autumn she ventured to cast up her
accounts with life, and she was rather amazed at the result. For she was
quite aware that she was in love with this William Smith in a way that
she had never been with the other. The first had been a sentimental
ideal; the second was a genuine case of sincere and passionate
affection. She felt that the desertion of this lover would be a grief
far beyond the power of satin and lace to cure.

But her new lover had never a disloyal thought to his mistress, and his
love transplanted to the pleasant places of New York life, seemed to
find its native air. It enveloped Eleanor now like a glad and heavenly
atmosphere; she was so happy that she dreaded any change; it seemed to
her that no change could make her happier.

But if good is good, still better carries the day, and Mr. Smith thought
marriage would be a great deal better than lovemaking. Eleanor and he
were sitting in the fire-lit parlor, very still and very happy, when he
whispered this opinion to her.

"It is only four months since we met, dear."

"Only four months, darling; but I had been dreaming about you four
months before that. Let me hold your hands, sweet, while I tell you. On
the 20th of last April I was on the point of leaving for Colorado to
look after the Silver Cliff Mine. My carriage was ordered, and I was
waiting at my hotel for it. A servant brought me a letter--the dearest,
sweetest little letter--see, here it is!" and this William Smith
absolutely laid before Eleanor her own pretty, loving reply to the first
William Smith's offer.

Eleanor looked queerly at it, and smiled.

"What did you think, dear?"

"That it was just the pleasantest thing that had ever happened to me. It
was directed to Mr. W. Smith, and had been given into my hands. I was
not going to seek up any other W. Smith."

"But you must have been sure that it was not intended for you, and you
did not know 'Eleanor Bethune.'"

"Oh, I beg your pardon, sweetheart; it _was intended_ for me. I can
imagine destiny standing sarcastically by your side, and watching you
send the letter to one W. Smith when she intended it for another W.
Smith. Eleanor Bethune I meant to know just as soon as possible. I was
coming back to New York to look for you."

"And, instead, she went to you in Colorado."

"Only think of that! Why, love, when that blessed telegraph clerk said,
'Who sends this message?' and you said, 'Mrs. Eleanor Bethune,' I wanted
to fling my hat to the sky. I did not lose my head as badly when they
found that new lead in the Silver Cliff."

"Won't you give me that letter, and let me destroy it, William? It was
written to the wrong Smith."

"It was written to the wrong Smith, but it was given to the right Smith.
Still, Eleanor, if you will say one little word to me, you may do what
you like with the letter."

Then Eleanor whispered the word, and the blaze of the burning letter
made a little illumination in honor of their betrothal kiss.




THE STORY OF MARY NEIL.


Poverty has not only many learned disciples, but also many hidden saints
and martyrs. There are humble tenements that are tabernacles, and
desolate, wretched rooms that are the quarries of the Almighty--where
with toil and weariness and suffering the souls He loves are being
prepared for the heavenly temple.

This is the light that relieves the deep shadow of that awful cloud of
poverty which ever hangs over this rich and prosperous city. I have been
within that cloud, wet with its rain of tears, chilled with its gloomy
darkness, "made free" of its innermost recesses; therefore I speak with
authority when I say that even here a little child may walk and not
stumble, if Jesus lead the way or hold the hand.

Nay, but children walk where strong men fall down, and young maidens
enter the kingdom while yet their parents are stumbling where no light
from the Golden City and "the Land very far off" reaches them. Last
winter I became very much interested in such a case. I was going to
write "Poor Mary Neil!" but that would have been the strangest misnomer.
Happy Mary Neil! rises impetuously from my heart to contradict my pen.

And yet when I first became acquainted with her condition, she was
"poor" in every bitter sense of the word.

A drunkard's eldest daughter, "the child of misery baptized with tears,"
what had her seventeen years been but sad and evil ones? Cold and
hunger, cares and labors far beyond her strength sowed the seeds of
early death. For two years she struggled amid such suffering as dying
lungs entail to help her mother and younger brothers and sisters, but at
last she was compelled to make her bed amid sorrow and suffering which
she could no longer assuage by her helpful hands and gentle words.

Her religious education had not been quite neglected, and she dimly
comprehended that through the narrow valley which lay between Time and
Eternity she would need a surer and more infallible guide than her own
sadly precocious intellect. Then God sent her just the help she
needed--a tender, pitiful, hopeful woman full of the love of Jesus.

Souls ripen quickly in the atmosphere of the Border Land, and very soon
Mary had learned how to walk without fearing any evil. Certain passages
of Scripture burned with a supernatural glory, and made the darkness
light; and there were also a few hymns which struck the finest chords
in her heart, and

    "'Mid days of keenest anguish
      And nights devoid of ease,
    Filled all her soul with music
      Of wondrous melodies."

As she neared the deeper darkness of death, this was especially
remarkable of that extraordinary hymn called "The Light of Death," by
Dr. Faber. From the first it had fascinated her. "Has he been _here_
that he knows just how it feels?" she asked, wonderingly, and then
solemnly repeated:

    "Saviour, what means this breadth of death,
      This space before me lying;
    These deeps where life so lingereth,
      This difficulty of dying?
    So many turns abrupt and rude,
      Such ever-shifting grounds,
    Such strangely peopled solitudes,
      Such strangely silent sounds?'"

Her sufferings were very great, and sometimes the physical depression
exerted a definable influence on her spiritual state. Still she never
lost her consciousness of the presence of her Guide and Saviour, and
once, in the exhaustion of a severe paroxysm, she murmured two lines
from the same grand hymn:

    "Deeper! dark, dark, but yet I follow:
      Tighten, dear Lord, thy clasp."

Ah! there was something touching and noble beyond all words, in this
complete reliance and perfect trust; and it never again wavered.

"Is it _very_ dark, Mary dear?" her friend said one morning, the _last_
for her on earth.

"Too dark to see," she whispered, "but I can go on if Christ will hold
my hand."

After this a great solemnity shaded her face; she lost all consciousness
of this world. The frail, shadowy little body lay gray and passive,
while that greatest of all struggles was going on--the struggle of the
Eternal out of Time; but her lips moved incessantly, and occasionally
some speech of earth told the anxious watchers how hard the conflict
was. For instance, toward sundown she said in a voice strangely solemn
and anxious:

    "Who are we trying to avoid?
      From whom, Lord, must we hide?
    Oh! can the dying be decoyed,
      With the Saviour by his side?"

"Loose sands and all things sinking!" "Are we near eternity?" "Can I
fall from Thee even now?" and ejaculations of similar kind, showed that
the spiritual struggle was a very palpable one to her; but it ended in a
great calm. For two hours she lay in a peace that passeth understanding,
and you would have said that she was dead but for a vague look of
expectancy in the happy, restful face. Then suddenly there was a
lightening of the whole countenance; she stretched out her arms to meet
the messenger of the King, and entered heaven with this prayer on her
lips:

    "_Both hands_, dear Lord, _both hands_.'"

Don't doubt but she got them; their mighty strength lifted her over the
dark river almost dry shod.

    "Rests she not well whose pilgrim staff and shoon
      Lie in her tent--for on the golden street
    She walks and stumbles not on roads star strewn
      With her unsandalled feet."




THE HEIRESS OF KURSTON CHACE.


Into the usual stillness of Kurston Chace a strange bustle and
excitement had come--the master was returning with a young bride, whom
report spoke of as "bewitchingly beautiful." It was easy to believe
report in this case, for there must have been some strong inducement to
make Frederick Kurston wed in his sixtieth year a woman barely twenty.
It was not money; Mr. Kurston had plenty of money, and he was neither
ambitious nor avaricious; besides, the woman he had chosen was both poor
and extravagant.

For once report was correct. Clementina Gray, in tarlatans and flowers,
had been a great beauty; and Clementina Kurston, in silks and diamonds,
was a woman dedicated, by Nature for conquest.

It was Clementina's beauty that had prevailed over the love-hardened
heart of the gay old gallant, who had escaped the dangers of forty
seasons of flirtation. He was entangled in the meshes of her golden
hair, fascinated by the spell of her love-languid eyes, her mouth like a
sad, heavy rose, her faultless form and her superb manners. He was blind
to all her faults; deaf to all his friends--in the glamour of her
enchantments he submitted to her implicitly, even while both his reason
and his sense of other obligations pleaded for recognition.

Clementina had not won him very easily; the summer was quite over,
nearly all the visitors at the stylish little watering-place had
departed, the mornings and evenings were chilly, every day Mr. Kurston
spoke of his departure, and she herself was watching her maid pack her
trunks, and in no very amiable temper contemplating defeat, when the
reward of her seductive attentions came.

"Mr. Kurston entreated the favor of an interview."

She gladly accorded it; she robed herself with subtle skill; she made
herself marvelous.

"Mother," she said, as she left her dressing-room, "you will have a
headache. I shall excuse you. I can manage this business best alone."

In an hour she came back triumphant. She put her feet on the fender, and
sat down before the cheerful blaze to "talk it over."

"It is all right, mother. Good-by to our miserable shifts and
shabby-genteel lodgings and turned dresses. He will settle Kurston Chace
and all he has upon me, and we are to be married next month."

"Impossible, Tina! No _modiste_ in the world could get the things that
are absolutely necessary ready in that time."

"Everything is possible in New York--if you have money--and Uncle Gray
will be ready enough to buy my marriage clothes. Besides, I am going to
run no risks. If he should die, nothing on earth could console me for
the trouble I have had with him, but the fact of being his widow. There
is no sentiment in the affair, and the sooner one gets to ordering
dinners and running up bills, the better."

"Poor Philip Lee!"

"Mother, why did you mention him? Of course he will be angry, and call
me all kinds of unpleasant names; but if he has a particle of common
sense he must see that it was impossible for me to marry a poor
lawyer--especially when I had such a much better offer. I suppose he
will be here to-night. You must see him, mother, and explain things as
pleasantly as possible. It would scarcely be proper for me, as Mr.
Kurston's affianced wife, to listen to all the ravings and protestations
he is sure to indulge in."

In this supposition Clementina was mistaken. Philip Lee took the news of
her engagement to his wealthy rival with blank calmness and a civil wish
for her happiness. He made a stay of conventional propriety, and said
all the usual polite platitudes, and then went away without any evidence
of the deep suffering and mortification he felt.

This was Clementina's first drop of bitterness in her cup of success.
She questioned her mother closely as to how he looked, and what he said.
It did not please her that, instead of bemoaning his own loss, he should
be feeling a contempt for her duplicity--that he should use her to cure
his passion, when she meant to wound him still deeper. She felt at
moments as if she could give up for Philip Lee the wealth and position
she had so hardly won, only she knew him well enough to understand that
henceforward she could not easily deceive him again.

It was pleasant to return to New York this fall; the news of the
engagement opened everyone's heart and home. Congratulations came from
every quarter; even Uncle Gray praised the girl who had done so well for
herself, and signified his approval by a handsome check.

The course of this love ran smooth enough, and one fine morning in
October, Grace Church saw a splendid wedding. Henceforward Clementina
Kurston was a woman to be courted instead of patronized, and many a
woman who had spoken lightly of her beauty and qualities, was made to
acknowledge with an envious pang that she had distanced them.

This was her first reward, and she did not stint herself in extorting
it. To tell the truth, Clementina had many a bitter score of this kind
to pay off; for, as she said in extenuation, it was impossible for her
to allow herself to be in debt to her self-respect.

Well, the wedding was over. She had abundantly gratified her taste for
splendor; she had smiled on those on whom she willed to smile; she had
treated herself extravagantly to the dangerous pleasure of social
revenge; she was now anxious to go and take possession of her home,
which had the reputation of being one of the oldest and handsomest in
the country.

Mr. Kurston, hitherto, had been intoxicated with love, and not a little
flattered by the brilliant position which his wife had at once claimed.
Now that she was his wife, it amused him to see her order and patronize
and dispense with all that royal prerogative which belongs to beauty,
supported by wealth and position.

Into his great happiness he had suffered no doubt, no fear of the
future, to come; but, as the day approached for their departure for
Kurston Chace, he grew singularly restless and uneasy.

For, much as he loved and obeyed the woman whom he called "wife," there
was another woman at Kurston whom he called "daughter," that he loved
quite as dearly, in a different way. In fact, of his daughter, Athel
Kurston, he stood just a little bit in fear, and she had ruled the
household at the Chace for many years as absolute mistress.

No one knew anything of her mother; he had brought her to her present
home when only five years old, after a long stay on the Continent. A
strange woman, wearing the dress of a Sclavonic peasant, came with the
child as nurse; but she had never learnt to speak English, and had now
been many years dead.

Athel knew nothing of her mother, and her early attempts to question her
father concerning her had been so peremptorily rebuffed that she had
long ago ceased to indulge in any curiosity regarding her.
However--though she knew it not--no one regarded her as Mr. Kurston's
heir; indeed, nothing in her father's conduct sanctioned such a
conclusion. True, he loved her dearly, and had spared no pains in her
education; but he never took her with him into the world, and, except in
the neighborhood of the Chace, her very existence was not known of.

She was as old as his new wife, willful, proud, accustomed to rule, not
likely to obey. He had said nothing to Clementina of her existence; he
had said nothing to his daughter of his marriage; and now both facts
could no longer be concealed.

But Frederick Kurston had all his life trusted to circumstances, and he
was rather disposed, in this matter, to let the women settle affairs
between them without troubling himself to enter into explanations with
either of them. So, to Athel he wrote a tender little note, assuming
that she would be delighted to hear of his marriage, as it promised her
a pleasant companion, and directing her to have all possible
arrangements made to add to the beauty and comfort of the house.

To Mrs. Kurston he said nothing. The elegantly dressed young lady who
met her with a curious and rather constrained welcome was to her a
genuine surprise. Her air of authority and rich dress precluded the idea
of a dependent; Mr. Kurston had kissed her lovingly, the servants obeyed
her. But she was far too prudent to make inquiries on unknown ground;
she disappeared, with her maid, on the plea of weariness, and from the
vantage-ground of her retirement sent Felicite to take observations.

The little French maid found no difficulty in arriving at the truth, and
Mrs. Kurston, not unjustly angry, entered the drawing-room fully
prepared to defend her rights.

"Who was that young person, Frederick, dear, that I saw when we
arrived?"

This question in the very sweetest tone, and with that caressing manner
she had always found omnipotent.

"That young person is Miss Athel Kurston, Clementina."

This answer in the very decided, and yet nervous, manner people on the
defensive generally assume.

"Miss Kurston? Your sister, Frederick?"

"No; my daughter, Clementina."

"But you were never married before?"

"So people say."

"Then, do you really expect me to live in the same house with a person
of--"

"I see no reason why you should not--that is, if you live in the same
house with me."

A passionate burst of tears, an utter abandonment of distress, and the
infatuated husband was willing to promise anything--everything--that his
charmer demanded--that is, for the time; for Athel Kurston's influence
was really stronger than her step-mother's, and the promises extorted
from his lower passions were indefinitely postponed by his nobler
feelings.

A divided household is always a miserable one; but the chief sufferer
here was Mr. Kurston, and Athel, who loved him with a sincere and
profound affection, determined to submit to circumstances for his sake.

One morning, he found on his table a letter from her stating that, to
procure him peace, she had left a home that would be ever dear to her,
assuring him that she had secured a comfortable and respectable asylum;
but earnestly entreating that he would make no inquiries about her, as
she had changed her name, and would not be discovered without causing a
degree of gossip and evil-speaking injurious to both himself and her.

This letter completely broke the power of Clementina over her husband.
He asserted at once his authority, and insisted on returning immediately
to New York, where he thought it likely Athel had gone, and where, at
any rate, he could find suitable persons to aid him in his search for
her--a search which was henceforth the chief object of his life.

A splendid house was taken, and Mrs. Kurston at once assumed the
position of a leader in the world of fashion. Greatly to her
satisfaction, Philip Lee was a favorite in the exclusive circle in which
she moved, and she speedily began the pretty, penitent, dejected role
which she judged would be most effective with him. But, though she would
not see it, Philip Lee was proof against all her blandishments. He was
not the man to be deluded twice by the same false woman; he was a man of
honor, and detested the social ethics which scoffed at humanity's
holiest tie; and he was deeply in love with a woman who was the very
antipodes of the married siren.

Yet he visited frequently at the Kurston mansion, and became a great
favorite, and finally the friend and confidant of its master. Gradually,
as month after month passed, the business of the Kurston estate came
into his hands, and he could have told, to the fraction of a dollar, the
exact sum for which Clementina Gray sold herself.

Two years passed away. There was no longer on Clementina's part, any
pretence of affection for her husband; she went her own way, and devoted
herself to her own interests and amusements. He wearied with a hopeless
search and anxiety that found no relief, aged very rapidly, and became
subject to serious attacks of illness, any one of which might deprive
him of life.

His wife now regretted that she had married so hastily; the settlements
promised had been delayed; she had trusted to her influence to obtain
more as his wife than as his betrothed. She had not known of a
counter-influence, and she had not calculated that the effort of a
life-long deception might be too much for her. Quarrels had arisen in
the very beginning of their life at Kurston, the disappearance of Athel
had never been forgiven, and now Mrs. Kurston became violently angry if
the settlement and disposing of his property was named.

One night, in the middle of the third winter after Athel's
disappearance, Philip Lee called with an important lease for Mr. Kurston
to sign. He found him alone, and strangely moved and sorrowful. He
signed the papers as Philip directed him, and then requested him to lock
the door and sit down.

"I am going," he said, "to confide to you, Philip Lee, a sacred trust. I
do not think I shall live long, and I leave a duty unfulfilled that
makes to me the bitterness of death. I have a daughter--the lawful
heiress of the Kurston lands--whom my wife drove, by subtle and
persistent cruelty, from her home. By no means have I been able to
discover her; but you must continue the search, and see her put in
possession of her rights."

"But what proofs, sir, can you give me in order to establish them?"

"They are all in this box--everything that is necessary. Take it with
you to your office to-night. Her mother--ah, me, how I loved her--was a
Polish lady of good family; but I have neither time nor inclination now
to explain to you, or to excuse myself for the paltry vanities which
induced me to conceal my marriage. In those days I cared so much for
what society said that I never listened to the voice of my heart or my
conscience. I hope, I trust, I may still right both the dead and the
living!"

Mr. Kurston's presentiment of death was no delusive one; he sank
gradually during the following week, and died--his last word,
"Remember!" being addressed, with all the strong beseeching of a dying
injunction, to Philip Lee.

A free woman, and a rich one, Mrs. Kurston turned with all the ardor of
a sentimental woman to her first and--as she chose to consider it--her
only true affection. She was now in a position to woo the poor lawyer,
dependent in a great measure on her continuing to him the management of
the Kurston property.

Business brought them continually together, and it was neither possible
nor prudent for him to always reject the attentions she offered. The
world began to freely connect their names, and it was with much
difficulty that he could convince even his most intimate friends of his
indifference to the rich and beautiful widow.

He found himself, indeed, becoming gradually entangled in a net of
circumstances it would soon be difficult to get honorably out of.

The widow received him at every visit more like a lover, and less like a
lawyer; men congratulated or envied him, women tacitly assumed his
engagement. There was but one way to free himself from the toils the
artful widow was encompassing him with--he must marry some one else.

But whom? The only girl he loved was poor, and had already refused him;
yet he was sure she loved him, and something bid him try again. He had
half a mind to do so, and "half a mind" in love is quite enough to begin
with.

So he put on his hat and went to his sister's house. He knew she was out
driving--had seen her pass five minutes before on her way to the park.
Then what did he go there for? Because he judged from experience, that
at this hour lovely Pauline Alexes, governess to his sister's daughters,
was at home and alone.

He was not wrong; she came into the parlor by one door as he entered it
by the other. The coincidence was auspicious, and he warmly pressed his
suit, pouring into Pauline's ears such a confused account of his
feelings and his affairs as only love could disentangle and understand.

"But, Philip," said Pauline, "do you mean to say that this Mrs. Kurston
makes love to you? Is she not a married woman, and her husband your best
friend and patron?"

"Mr. Kurston, Pauline darling, is dead!"

"Dead! dead! Oh, Philip! Oh, my father! my father!" And the poor girl
threw herself, with passionate sobbings, among the cushions of the sofa.

This was a revelation. Here, in Pauline Alexes, the girl he had fondly
loved for nearly three years, Philip found the long-sought heiress of
Kurston Chace!

Bitter, indeed, was her grief when she learned how sorrowfully her
father had sought her; but she was scarcely to be blamed for not knowing
of, and responding to, his late repentance of the life-long wrong he had
done her. For Philip's sister moved far outside the narrow and supreme
circle of the Kurstons.

She had hidden her identity in her mother's maiden name--the only thing
she knew of her mother. She had never seen her father since her flight
from her home but in public, accompanied by his wife; she had no reason
to suppose the influence of that wife any weaker; she had been made, by
cruel innuendoes, to doubt both the right and the inclination of her
father to protect her.

It now became Philip's duty to acquaint the second Mrs. Kurston with
her true position, and to take the necessary steps to reinstate Athel
Kurston in her rights.

Of course, he had to bear many unkind suspicions--even his friends
believed him to have been cognizant all the time of the identity of
Pauline Alexes with Athel Kurston--and he was complimented on his
cleverness in securing the property, with the daughter, instead of the
widow, for an incumbrance. But those may laugh who win, and these things
scarcely touched the happiness of Philip and Athel.

As for Mrs. Kurston she made a still more brilliant marriage, and gave
up the Kurston estate with an ostentatious indifference. "She was glad
to get rid of it; it had brought her nothing but sorrow and
disappointment," etc.

But from the heights of her social autocracy, clothed in Worth's
greatest inspirations, wearing priceless lace and jewels, dwelling in
unrivalled splendor, she looked with regret on the man whom she had
rejected for his poverty.

She saw him grow to be the pride of his State and the honor of his
country. Loveless and childless, she saw his boys and girls cling to the
woman she hated as their "mother," and knew that they filled with light
and love the grand old home for which she had first of all sacrificed
her affection and her womanhood.




"ONLY THIS ONCE."


Over the solemn mountains and the misty moorlands the chill spring night
was falling. David Scott, master shepherd for MacAllister, of Allister,
thought of his ewes and lambs, pulled his Scotch bonnet over his brows,
and taking his staff in his hand, turned his face to the hills.

David Scott was a mystic in his own way; the mountains were to him
"temples not made with hands," and in them he had seen and heard
wonderful things. Years of silent communion with nature had made him
love her in all her moods, and he passionately believed in God.

The fold was far up the mountains, but the sheep knew the shepherd's
voice, and the peculiar bark of his dog; they answered them gladly, and
were soon safely and warmly housed. Then David and Keeper slowly took
their way homeward, for the steep, rocky hills were not easy walking for
an old man in the late gloaming.

Passing a wild cairn of immense stones, Keeper suddenly began to bark
furiously, and a tall, slight figure leaped from their shelter, raised a
stick, and would have struck the dog if David had not called out,
"Never strie a sheep-dog, mon! The bestie willna harm ye."

The stranger then came forward; asked David if there was any cottage
near where he could rest all night, said that he had come out for a
day's fishing, had got separated from his companions, lost his way and
was hungry and worn out.

David looked him steadily in the face and read aright the nervous manner
and assumed indifference. However, hospitality is a sacred tradition
among Scotch mountaineers, whoever, or whatever the young man was, David
acknowledged his weariness and hunger as sufficient claim upon his oaten
cake and his embers.

It was evident in a few moments that Mr. Semple was not used to the
hills. David's long, firm walk was beyond the young man's efforts; he
stumbled frequently in the descent, the springy step necessary when they
came to the heather distressed him; he was almost afraid of the gullies
David took without a thought. These things the old man noted, and they
weighed far more with him than all the boastful tongue could say.

The cottage was soon reached--a very humble one--only "a but and a ben,"
with small windows, and a thatched roof; but Scotland has reared great
men in such cottages, and no one could say that it was not clean and
cheerful. The fire burnt brightly upon the white hearthstone, and a
little round deal table stood before it. Upon this table were oaten
cakes and Ayreshire cheese and new milk, and by its side sat a young man
reading.

"Archie, here is a strange _gentleman_ I found up at Donald's cairn."

The two youths exchanged looks and disliked each other. Yet Archie Scott
rose, laid aside his book, and courteously offered his seat by the fire.
The stranger took it, eat heartily of the simple meal, joined decently
in their solemn worship, and was soon fast asleep in Archie's bed. Then
the old man and his son sat down and curtly exchanged their opinions.

"I don't like yon lad, fayther, and I more than distrust his being aught
o' a gentleman."

David smoked steadily a few minutes ere he replied:

"He's eat and drank and knelt wi' us, Archie, and it's nane o' our duty
to judge him."

When Archie spoke again it was of other matters.

"Fayther, I'm sore troubled wi' MacAllister's accounts; what wi' the
sheep bills and the timber and the kelp, things look in a mess like.
There is a right way and a wrong way to keep tally of them and I can't
find it out."

"The right way is to keep the facts all correct and honest to a straw's
worth--then the figures are bound to come right, I should say."

It was an old trouble that Archie complained about. He was MacAllister's
steward, appointed by virtue of his sterling character and known worth;
but struggling constantly with ignorance of the methods by which even
the most honest business can alone satisfactorily prove its honest
condition.

When Mr. Semple awoke next morning, Archie had disappeared, and David
was standing in the door, smoking. David liked his guest less in the
morning than he had done at night.

"Ye dinna seem to relish your parritch, sir," said David rather grimly.

Mr. Semple said he really had never been accustomed to anything but
strong tea and hot rolls, with a little kippered salmon or marmalade; he
had never tasted porridge before.

"More's the pity, my lad. Maybe if you had been brought up on decent
oatmeal you would hae thankit God for your food;" for Mr. Semple's
omission of grace, either before or after his meat, greatly displeased
the old man.

The youth yawned, sauntered to the door, and looked out. There was a
fresh wind, bringing with it flying showers and damp, chilling
mists--wet heather under foot, and no sunshine above. David saw
something in the anxious, wretched face that aroused keen suspicion. He
looked steadily into Mr. Semple's pale, blue eyes, and said:

"Wha are you rinnin awa from, my lad?"

"Sir!"

There was a moment's angry silence. Suddenly David raised his hand,
shaded his eyes and peered keenly down the hills. Mr. Semple followed
this movement with great interest.

"What are you looking at, Mr. Scott? Oh! I see. Two men coming up this
way. Do you know who they are?"

"They may be gangers or they may be strangers, or they may be
policemen--I dinna ken them mysel'."

"Mr. Scott! For God's sake, Mr. Scott! Don't give me up, and I will tell
you the whole truth."

"I thought so!" said David, sternly. "Well, come up the hills wi' me;
yon men will be here in ten minutes, whoever they are."

There were numerous places of partial shelter known to the shepherd, and
he soon led the way to a kind of cave, pretty well concealed by
overhanging rocks and trailing, briery stems.

The two sat down on a rude granite bowlder, and the elder having waited
until his companion had regained his breath, said:

"You'll fare best wi' me, lad, if you tell the truth in as few words as
may be; I dinna like fine speeches."

"Mr. Scott, I am Duncan Nevin's bookkeeper and cashier. He's a tea
dealer in the Gallowgate of Glasgow. I'm short in my cash, and he's a
hard man, so I run away."

"Sortie, lad! Your cash dinna gang wrang o' itself. If you werna ashamed
to steal it, ye needna be ashamed to confess it. Begin at the
beginning."

The young man told his shameful story. He had got into gay, dissipated
ways, and to meet a sudden demand had taken three pounds from his
employer _for just once_. But the three pounds had swollen into sixteen,
and finding it impossible to replace it, he had taken ten more and fled,
hoping to hide in the hills till he could get rowed off to some passing
ship and escape to America. He had no friends, and neither father nor
mother. At mention of this fact, David's face relaxed.

"Puir lad!" he muttered. "Nae father, and nae mother, 'specially; that's
a awfu' drawback."

"You may give me up if you like, Mr. Scott. I don't care much; I've
been a wretched fellow for many a week; I am most broken-hearted
to-day."

"It's not David Scott that will make himself hard to a broken heart,
when God in heaven has promised to listen to it. I'll tell you what I
will do. You shall gie me all the money you have, every shilling; it's
nane o' yours, ye ken that weel; and I'll take it to your master, and
get him to pass by the ither till you can earn it. I've got a son, a
decent, hard-working lad, who's daft to learn your trade--bookkeeping.
Ye sail stay wi' me till he kens a' the ins and outs o' it, then I'll
gie ye twenty pounds. I ken weel this is a big sum, and it will make a
big hole in my little book at the Ayr Bank, but it will set Archie up.

"Then when ye have earned it, ye can pay back all you have stolen,
forbye having four pounds left for a nest-egg to start again wi'. I
dinna often treat mysel' to such a bit o' charity as this, and, 'deed,
if I get na mair thanks fra heaven, than I seem like to get fra you,
there 'ud be meikle use in it," for Alexander Semple had heard the
proposal with a dour and thankless face, far from encouraging to the
good man who made it. It did not suit that youth to work all summer in
order to pay back what he had come to regard as "off his mind;" to
denude himself of every shilling, and be entirely dependent on the
sternly just man before him. Yet what could he do? He was fully in
David's power; so he signified his assent, and sullenly enough gave up
the L9 14s. 2d. in his possession.

"I'm a good bookkeeper, Mr. Scott," he said; "the bargain is fair enough
for you."

"I ken Donald Nevin; he's a Campletown man, and I ken you wouldna hae
keepit his books if you hadna had your business at your finger-ends."

The next day David went to Glasgow, and saw Mr. Semple's master. The L9
odd was lost money found, and predisposed him to the arrangement
proposed. David got little encouragement from Mr. Nevin, however; he
acknowledged the clerk's skill in accounts, but he was conceited of his
appearance, ambitious of being a fashionable man, had weak principles
and was intensely selfish. David almost repented him of his kindness,
and counted grudgingly the shillings that the journey and the carriage
of Mr. Semple's trunks cost him.

Indeed it was a week or two before things settled pleasantly in the hill
cottage; the plain living, pious habits and early hours of the shepherd
and his son did not at all suit the city youth. But Archie, though
ignorant of the reasons which kept such a dandy in their humble home,
soon perceived clearly the benefit he could derive from him. And once
Archie got an inkling of the meaning of "double entry" he was never
weary of applying it to his own particular business; so that in a few
weeks Alexander Semple was perfectly familiar with MacAllister's
affairs.

Still, Archie cordially disliked his teacher, and about the middle of
summer it became evident that a very serious cause of quarrel was
complicating the offence. Coming up from MacAllister's one lovely summer
gloaming Archie met Semple with Katie Morrison, the little girl whom he
had loved and courted since ever he carried her dinner and slate to
school for her. How they had come to know each other he could not tell;
he had exercised all his tact and prudence to prevent it, evidently
without avail. He passed the couple with ill-concealed anger; Katie
looked down, Semple nodded in what Archie believed to be an insolent
manner.

That night David Scott heard from his son such an outburst of anger as
the lad had never before exhibited. In a few days Mr. Semple went to
Greenock for a day or two. Soon it was discovered that Katie had been in
Greenock two days at her married sister's. Then they heard that the
couple had married and were to sail for America. They then discovered
that Archie's desk had been opened and L46 in notes and gold taken.
Neither of the men had any doubt as to the thief; and therefore Archie
was angry and astonished to find his father doubt and waver and seem
averse to pursue him. At last he acknowledged all, told Archie that if
he made known his loss, _he also_ must confess that he had knowingly
harbored an acknowledged thief, and tacitly given him the opportunity of
wronging his employer. He doubted very much whether anyone would give
him credit for the better feelings which had led him to this course of
conduct.

Archie's anger cooled at once; he saw the dilemma; to these simple
people a good name was better than gold. It took nearly half the savings
of a long life, but the old man went to Ayr and drew sufficient to
replace the stolen money. He needed to make no inquiries about Semple.
On Tuesday it was known by everyone in the village that Katie Morrison
and Alexander Semple had been married the previous Friday, and sailed
for America the next day. After this certainty father and son never
named the subject but once more. It was on one calm, spring evening,
some ten years after, and David lay within an hour of the grave.

"Archie!" he said, suddenly, "I don't regret to-night what I did ten
years ago. Virtuous actions sometimes fail, but virtuous lives--never!
Perhaps I had a thought o' self in my good intent, and that spoiled all.
If thou hast ever a chance, do better than I did."

"I will, father."

During these ten years there had been occasional news from the exiles.
Mrs. Morrison stopped Archie at intervals, as he passed her door, and
said there had been a letter from Katie. At first they came frequently,
and were tinged with brightest hopes. Alexander had a fine place, and
their baby was the most beautiful in the world. The next news was that
Alexander was in business for himself and making money rapidly. Handsome
presents, that were the wonder of the village, then came occasionally,
and also remittances of money that made the poor mother hold her head
proudly about "our Katie" and her "splendid house and carriage."

But suddenly all letters stopped, and the mother thought for long they
must be coming to see her, but this hope and many another faded, and the
fair morning of Katie's marriage was shrouded in impenetrable gloom and
mystery.

Archie got bravely over his trouble, and a while after his father's
death married a good little woman, not quite without "the bit of
siller." Soon after he took his savings to Edinburgh and joined his
wife's brother in business there. Things prospered with him, slowly but
surely, and he became known for a steady, prosperous merchant, and a
douce pious householder, the father of a fine lot of sons and daughters.

One night, twenty years after the beginning of my story, he was passing
through the old town of Edinburgh, when a wild cry of "Fire! Fire!
Fire!" arose on every side of him.

"Where?" he asked of the shrieking women pouring from all the filthy,
narrow wynds around.

"In Gordon's Wynd."

He was there almost the first of any efficient aid, striving to make his
way up the smoke-filled stairs, but this was impossible. The house was
one of those ancient ones, piled story upon story; so old that it was
almost tinder. But those on the opposite side were so close that not
unfrequently a plank or two flung across from opposite windows made a
bridge for the benefit of those seeking to elude justice.

By means of such a bridge all the inhabitants of the burning house were
removed, and no one was more energetic in carrying the women and
children across the dangerous planks than Archie Scott; for his mountain
training had made such a feat one of no extraordinary danger to him.
Satisfied at length that all life was out of risk, he was turning to go
home, when a white, terrible face looked out of the top-most floor,
showing itself amid the gusts of smoke like the dream of a corpse, and
screaming for help in agonizing tones. Archie knew that face only too
well. But he remembered, in the same instant, what his father had said
in dying, and, swift as a mountain deer, he was quickly on the top floor
of the opposite house again.

In a few moments the planks bridged the distance between death and
safety; but no entreaties could make the man risk the dangerous passage.
Setting tight his lips, Archie went for the shrieking coward, and
carried him into the opposite house. Then the saved man recognized his
preserver.

"Oh, Mr. Scott!" he said, "for God's sake, my wife and my child! The
last of seven!"

"You scoundrel! Do you mean to say you saved yourself before Katie and
your child!"

Archie did not wait for the answer; again he was at the window of the
burning room. Too late! The flames were already devouring what the smoke
had smothered; their wretched pallet was a funeral pyre. He had hardly
time to save his own life.

"They are dead, Semple!"

Then the poor creature burst into a paroxysm of grief, moaned and
cried, and begged a few shillings, and vowed he was the most miserable
creature on earth.

After this Archie Scott strove for two years to do without taint of
selfishness what his father had begun twenty years before. But there was
not much now left to work upon--health, honor, self-respect were all
gone. Poor Semple was content to eat the bread of dependence, and then
make boastful speeches of his former wealth and position. To tell of his
wonderful schemes, and to abuse his luck and his false friends, and
everything and everybody, but the real cause of his misfortune.

Archie gave him some trifling post, with a salary sufficient for every
decent want, and never heeded, though he knew Semple constantly spoke
ill of him behind his back.

However the trial of Archie's patience and promise did not last very
long. It was a cold, snowy night in mid-winter that Archie was called
upon to exercise for the last time his charity and forbearance toward
him; and the parting scene paid for all. For, in the shadow of the
grave, the poor, struggling soul dropped all pretences, acknowledged all
its shortcomings, thanked the forbearance and charity which had been
extended so many years, and humbly repented of its lost and wasted
opportunities.

"Draw close to me, Archie Scott," he said, "and tell your four brave
boys what my dying words to them were: Never to yield to temptation for
_only this once_. To be quite sure that all the gear and gold that
_comes with sin_ will _go with sorrow_. And never to doubt that to every
_evil doer_ will certainly come his _evil day_."




PETRALTO'S LOVE STORY.


I am addicted to making strange friendships, to liking people whom I
have no conventional authority to like--people out of "my set," and not
always of my own nationality. I do not say that I have always been
fortunate in these ventures; but I have had sufficient splendid
exceptions to excuse the social aberration, and make me think that all
of us might oftener trust our own instincts, oftener accept the friends
that circumstance and opportunity offer us, with advantage. At any rate,
the peradventure in chance associations has always been very attractive
to me.

In some irregular way I became acquainted with Petralto Garcia. I
believe I owed the introduction to my beautiful hound, Lutha; but, at
any rate, our first conversation was quite as sensible as if we had gone
through the legitimate initiation. I know it was in the mountains, and
that within an hour our tastes and sympathies had touched each other at
twenty different points.

Lutha walked beside us, showing in his mien something of the proud
satisfaction which follows a conviction of having done a good thing. He
looked first at me and then at Petralto, elevating and depressing his
ears at our argument, as if he understood all about it. Perhaps he did;
human beings don't know everything.

People have so much time in the country that it is little wonder that
our acquaintance ripened into friendship during the holidays, and that
one of my first visits when I had got settled for the winter was to
Petralto's rooms. Their locality might have cooled some people, but not
me. It does not take much of an education in New York life to find out
that the pleasantest, loftiest, handsomest rooms are to be found in the
streets not very far "up town;" comfortably contiguous to the best
hotels, stores, theatres, picture galleries, and all the other
necessaries of a pleasant existence.

He was just leaving the door for a ride in the park, and we went
together. I had refused the park twice within an hour, and had told
myself that nothing should induce me to follow that treadmill procession
again, yet when he said, in his quiet way, "You had better take half an
hour's ride, Jack," I felt like going, and I went.

Now just as we got to the Fifth Avenue entrance, a singular thing
happened. Petralto's pale olive face flushed a bright crimson, his eyes
flashed and dropped; he whipped the horse into a furious gallop, as if
he would escape something; then became preternaturally calm, drew
suddenly up, and stood waiting for a handsome equipage which was
approaching. Its occupants were bending forward to speak to him. I had
no eyes for the gentleman, the girl at his side was so radiantly
beautiful.

I heard Petralto promise to call on them, and we passed on; but there
was a look on his face which bespoke both sympathy and silence. He soon
complained of the cold, said the park pace irritated him, but still
passed and repassed the couple who had caused him such evident
suffering, as if he was determined to inure himself to the pain of
meeting them. During this interval I had time to notice the caressing,
lover-like attitude of the beauty's companion, and I said, as they
entered a stately house together, "Are they married?"

"Yes."

"He seems devotedly in love with her."

"He loved her two years before he saw her."

"Impossible."

"Not at all. I have a mind to tell you the story."

"Do. Come home with me, and we will have a quiet dinner together."

"No. I need to be alone an hour or two. Call on me about nine o'clock."

Petralto's rooms were a little astonishment to me. They were luxurious
in the extreme, with just that excess of ornament which suggests
under-civilization; and yet I found him smoking in a studio destitute of
everything but a sleepy-looking sofa, two or three capacious lounging
chairs, and the ordinary furniture of an artist's atelier. There was a
bright fire in the grate, a flood of light from the numerous gas jets,
and an atmosphere heavy with the seductive, fragrant vapor of Havana.

I lit my own cigar, made myself comfortable, and waited until it was
Petralto's pleasure to begin. After a while he said, "Jack, turn that
easel so that you can see the picture on it."

I did so.

"Now, look at it well, and tell me what you see; first, the
locality--describe it."

"A dim old wood, with sunlight sifting through thick foliage, and long
streamers of weird grey moss. The ground is covered with soft short
grass of an intense green, and there are wonderful flowers of wonderful
colors."

"Right. It is an opening in the forest of the Upper Guadalupe. Now, what
else do you see?"

"A small pony, saddled and bridled, feeding quietly, and a young girl
standing on tip-toe, pulling down a vine loaded with golden-colored
flowers."

"Describe the girl to me."

I turned and looked at my querist. He was smoking, with shut eyes, and
waiting calmly for my answer. "Well, she has--Petralto, what makes you
ask me? You might paint, but it is impossible to describe _light_; and
the girl is nothing else. If I had met her in such a wood, I should have
thought she was an angel, and been afraid of her."

"No angel, Jack, but a most exquisite, perfect flower of maidenhood.
When I first saw her, she stood just so, with her open palms full of
yellow jasmine. I laid my heart into them, too, my whole heart, my whole
life, and every joy and hope it contained."

"What were you doing in Texas?"

"What are you doing in New York? I was born in Texas. My family, an old
Spanish one, have been settled there since they helped to build San
Antonio in 1730. I grew up pretty much as Texan youths do--half my time
in the saddle, familiar with the worst side of life and the best side of
nature. I should have been a thorough Ishmaelite if I had not been an
artist; but the artistic instinct conquered the nomadic and in my
twentieth year I went to Rome to study.

"I can pass the next five years. I do not pretend to regret them,
though, perhaps, you would say I simply wasted time and opportunity. I
enjoyed them, and it seems to me I was the person most concerned in the
matter. I had a fresh, full capacity then for enjoyment of every kind. I
loved nature and I loved art. I warmed both hands at the glowing fire of
life. Time may do his worst. I have been happy, and I can throw those
five careless, jovial years, in his face to my last hour.

"But one must awake out of every pleasant dream, and one day I got a
letter urging my immediate return home. My father had got himself
involved in a lawsuit, and was failing rapidly in health. My younger
brother was away with a ranger company, and the affairs of the ranch
needed authoritative overlooking. I was never so fond of art as to be
indifferent to our family prosperity, and I lost no time in hurrying
West.

"Still, when I arrived at home, there was no one to welcome me! The
noble, gracious Garcia slept with his ancestors in the old Alamo Church;
somewhere on the llano my brother was ranging, still with his wild,
company; and the house, in spite of the family servants and Mexican
peons, was sufficiently lonely. Yet I was astonished, to find how easily
I went back to my old life, and spent whole days in the saddle
investigating the affairs of the Garcia ranch.

"I had been riding one day for ten hours, and was so fatigued that I
determined to spend the night with one of my herdsmen. He had a little
shelter under some fine pecan trees on the Guadalupe, and after a cup of
coffee and a meal of dried beef, I sauntered with my cigar down the
river bank. Then the cool, dusky shadows of the wood tempted me. I
entered it. It was an enchanted wood, for there stood Jessy Lorimer,
just as I had painted her.

"I did not move nor speak. I watched her, spell-bound. I had not even
the power, when she had mounted her pony and was coming toward me, to
assume another attitude. She saw that I had been watching her, and a
look, half reproachful and half angry, came for a moment into her face.
But she inclined her head to me as she passed, and then went off at a
rapid gallop before I could collect my senses.

"Some people, Jack, walk into love with their eyes open, calculating
every step. I tumbled in over head, lost my feet, lost my senses,
narrowed in one moment the whole world down to one bewitching woman. I
did not know her, of course; but I soon should. I was well aware she
could not live very far away, and that my herd must be able to give me
some information. I was so deeply in love that this poor ignorant
fellow, knowing something about this girl, seemed to me to be a person
to be respected, and even envied.

"I gave him immediately a plentiful supply of cigars, and sitting down
beside him opened the conversation with horses, but drifted speedily
into the subject of new settlers.

"'Were there any since I had left?'

"'Two or three, no 'count travelers, one likely family.'

"'Much of a family?'

"'You may bet on that, sir.'

"'Any pleasant young men?'

"'Reckon so. Mighty likely young gal.'

"So, bit by bit, I found that Mr. Lorimer, my beauty's father, was a
Scotchman, who had bought the ranch which had formerly belonged to the
old Spanish family of the Yturris. Then I remembered pretty Inez and
Dolores Yturri, with their black eyes, olive skins and soft, lazy
_embonpoint_; and thought of golden-haired Jessy Lorimer in their dark,
latticed rooms.

"Jack, turn the picture to me. Beautiful Jessy! How I loved her in those
happy days that followed. How I humored her grave, stern father and
courted her brothers for her sake! I was a slave to the whole family,
so that I might gain an hour with or a smile from Jessy. Do I regret it
now? Not one moment. Such delicious hours as we had together were worth
any price. I would throw all my future to old Time, Jack, only to live
them over again."

"That is a great deal to say, Petralto."

"Perhaps; and yet I will not recall it. In those few months everything
that was good in me prospered and grew. Jessy brought out nothing but
the best part of my character. I was always at my best with her. No
thought of selfish pleasure mingled in my love for her. If it delighted
me to touch her hand, to feel her soft hair against my cheek, to meet
her earnest, subduing gaze, it also made me careful by no word or look
to soil the dainty purity of my white lily.

"I feared to tell her that I loved her. But I did do it, I scarcely know
how. The softest whisper seemed too loud against her glowing cheek. She
trembled from head to foot. I was faint and silent with rapture when she
first put her little hand in mine, and suffered me to draw her to my
heart. Ah! I am sick with joy yet when I think of it. I--I first, I
alone, woke that sweet young heart to life. She is lost, lost to me, but
no one else can ever be to her what I have been."

And here Petralto, giving full sway to his impassioned Southern nature,
covered his face with his hands and wept hot, regretful tears.

Tears come like blood from men of cold, strong temperaments, but they
were the natural relief of Petralto's. I let him weep. In a few minutes
he leaped up, and began pacing the room rapidly as he went on:

"Mr. Lorimer received my proposal with a dour, stiff refusal that left
me no hope of any relenting. 'He had reasons, more than one,' he said;
'he was not saying anything against either my Spanish blood or my
religion; but it was no fault in a Scotsman to mate his daughter with
people of her own kith.'

"There was no quarrel, and no discourtesy; but I saw I could bend an
iron bar with my pleadings just as soon as his determination. Jessy
received orders not to meet me or speak to me alone; and the possibility
of disobeying her father's command never suggested itself to her. Even I
struggled long with my misery before I dared to ask her to practice her
first deceit.

"She would not meet me alone, but she persuaded her mother to come once
with her to our usual tryst in the wood. Mrs. Lorimer spoke kindly but
hopelessly, and covered her own face to weep while Jessy and I took of
each other a passionate farewell. I promised her then never to marry
anyone else; and she!--I thought her heart would break as I laid her
almost fainting in her mother's arms.

"Yet I did not know how much Jessy really was to me until I suddenly
found out that her father had sent her back to Scotland, under the
pretence of finishing her education. I had been so honorably considerate
of Jessy's Puritan principles that I felt this hasty, secret movement
exceedingly unkind and unjust. Guadalupe became hateful to me, the
duties of the ranch distracting; and my brother Felix returning about
this time, we made a division of the estate. He remained at the Garcia
mansion, I rented out my possessions, and went, first to New Orleans,
and afterward to New York.

"In New York I opened a studio, and one day a young gentleman called and
asked me to draw a picture from some crude, imperfect sketch which a
friend had made. During the progress of the picture he frequently called
in. For some reason or other--probably because we were each other's
antipodes in tastes and temperament--he became my enthusiastic admirer,
and interested himself greatly to secure me a lucrative patronage.

"Yet some subtle instinct, which I cannot pretend to divine or explain,
constantly warned me to beware of this man. But I was ashamed and angry
at myself for linking even imaginary evil with so frank and generous a
nature. I defied destiny, turned a deaf ear to the whisperings of my
good genius, and continued the one-sided friendship--for I never even
pretended to myself that I had any genuine liking for the man.

"One day, when we had become very familiar, he ran up to see me about
something, I forget what, and not finding me in the outer apartments,
penetrated to my private room. There, upon that easel, Will Lennox first
saw the woman you saw with him to-night--the picture which you are now
looking at--and he fell as desperately in love with it, in his way, as I
had done in the Guadalupe woods with the reality. I cannot tell you how
much it cost me to restrain my anger. He, however, never noticed I was
angry. He had but one object now--to gain from me the name and residence
of the original.

"It was no use to tell him it was a fancy picture, that he was sighing
for an imagination. He never believed it for a moment. I would not sell
it, I would not copy it, I would not say where I had painted it; I kept
it to my most sacred privacy. He was sure that the girl existed, and
that I knew where she lived. He was very rich, without an occupation or
an object, and Jessy's pure, lovely face haunted him day and night, and
supplied him with a purpose.

"He came to me one day and offering me a large sum of money, asked me
finally to reveal at least the locality of which I had painted the
picture. His free, frank unembarrassed manner compels me to believe that
he had no idea of the intolerable insult he was perpetrating. He had
always been accustomed to consider more or less money an equivalent for
all things under the sun. But you, Jack, will easily understand that the
offer was followed by some very angry words, and that his threat to hunt
the world over to find my beauty was not without fear to me.

"I heard soon after that Will Lennox had gone to the South. I had
neither hidden nor talked about my former life and I was ignorant of how
much he knew or did not know of it. He could trace me easily to New
Orleans; how much further would depend upon his tact and perseverance.
Whether he reached Guadalupe or no, I am uncertain, but my heart fell
with a strange presentment of sorrow when I saw his name, a few weeks
afterward, among the European departures.

"The next thing I knew of Will Lennox was his marriage to some famous
Scotch beauty. Jack, do you not perceive the rest? The Scotch beauty was
Jessy Lorimer. I feared it at the first. I knew it this afternoon."

"Will you call there?"

"I have no power to resist it. Did you not notice how eagerly she
pressed the invitation?"

"Do not accept it, Petralto."

He shook his head, and remained silent. The next afternoon I was
astonished on going up to his rooms to find Will Lennox, sitting there.
He was talking in that loud, happy, demonstrative way so natural to men
accustomed to have the whole world minister unto them.

He did not see how nervous and angry Petralto was under his easy,
boastful conversation. He did not notice the ashy face, the blazing
eyes, the set lips, the trembling hands, of the passionate Spanish
nature, until Petralto blazed out in a torrent of unreasonable words and
taunts, and ordered Lennox out of his presence.

Even then the stupid, good-natured, purse-proud man could not see his
danger. He began to apologize to me for Petralto's rudeness, and excuse
"anything in a fellow whom he had cut out so badly."

"Liar!" Petralto retorted. "She loved me first; you can never have her
whole heart. Begone! If I had you on the Guadalupe, where Jessy and I
lived and loved, I would--"

The sentence was not finished. Lennox struck Petralto to the ground,
and before I raised him, I persuaded the angry bridegroom to retire. I
stayed with Petralto that night, although I was not altogether pleased
with him. He was sulky and silent at first, but after a quiet rest and a
few consoling Havanas he was willing to talk the affair over.

"Lennox tortured me," he said, passionately. "How could he be so
unfeeling, so mad, as to suppose I should care to learn what chain of
circumstances led him to find out my love and then steal her? Everything
he said tortured me but one fact--Jessy was alone and thoroughly
miserable. Poor little pet! She thought I had forgotten her, and so she
married him--not for love; I won't believe it."

"But," I said, "Petralto, you have no right to hug such a delusion; and
seeing that you had made no attempt to follow Jessy and marry her, she
had every right to suppose you really had forgotten her. Besides, I
think it very likely that she should love a young, rich, good-looking
fellow like Will Lennox."

"In not pursuing her I was following Jessy's own request and obeying my
own plighted promise. It was understood between us that I should wait
patiently until Jessy was twenty-one. Even Scotch customs would then
have regarded her as her own mistress and acknowledged her right to
marry as she desired; and if I did not write, she has not wanted
constant tokens of my remembrance. I have trusted her," he said,
mournfully, "without a sign from her."

That winter the beauty of Mrs. Lennox and the devotion of her husband
were on every tongue. But married is not mated, and the best part of
Jessy Lorimer's beauty had never touched Will Lennox. Her pure, simple,
poetic temperament he had never understood, and he felt in a dim,
uncertain way that the noblest part of his wife escaped him.

He could not enter into her feelings, and her spiritual superiority
unconsciously irritated him. Jessy had set her love's first music to the
broad, artistic heart of Petralto; she could not, without wronging
herself, decline to a lower range of feelings and a narrower heart. This
reserve of herself was not a conscious one. She was not one of those
self-involved women always studying their own emotions; she was simply
true to the light within her. But her way was not Will Lennox's way, her
finer fancies and lighter thoughts were mysteries to his grosser nature.

So the thing happened which always has and always will happen in such
cases; when the magic and the enchantment of Jessy's great personal
beauty had lost their first novelty and power, she gradually became to
her husband--"Something better than his dog, a little dearer than his
horse."

I did not much blame Will Lennox. It is very hard to love what we do not
comprehend. A wife who could have sympathized in his pursuits, talked
over the chances of his "Favorite," or gone to sea with him in his
yacht, would always have found Will an indulgent and attentive husband.
But fast horses did not interest Jessy, and going to sea made her ill;
so gradually these two fell much further apart than they ought to have
done.

Now, if Petralto had been wicked and Jessy weak, he might have revenged
himself on the man and woman who had wrought him so much suffering. But
he had set his love far too high to sully her white name; and Jessy, in
that serenity which comes of lofty and assured principles, had no idea
of the possibility of her injuring her husband by a wrong thought. Yet
instinctively they both sought to keep apart; and if by chance they met,
the grave courtesy of the one and the sweet dignity of the other left
nothing for evil hopes or thoughts to feed upon. One morning, two years
after Jessy's marriage, I received a note from Petralto, asking me to
call upon him immediately. To my amazement, his rooms were dismantled,
his effects packed up, and he was on the point of leaving New York.

"Whither bound?" I asked. "To Rome?"

"No; to the Guadalupe. I want to try what nature can do for me. Art,
society, even friendship, fail at times to comfort me for my lost love.
I will go back to nature, the great, sweet mother and lover of men."

So Petralto went out of New York; and the world that had known him
forgot him--forgot even to wonder about, much less to regret, him.

I was no more faithful than others. I fell in with a wonderful German
philosopher, and got into the "entities" and "non-entities," forgot
Petralto in Hegel, and felt rather ashamed of the days when I lounged
and trifled in the artist's pleasant rooms. I was "enamored of divine
philosophy," took no more interest in polite gossip, and did not waste
my time reading newspapers. In fact, with Kant and Fichte before me, I
did not feel that I had the time lawfully to spare.

Therefore, anyone may imagine my astonishment when, about three years
after Petralto's departure from New York, he one morning suddenly
entered my study, handsome as Apollo and happy as a bridegroom. I have
used the word "groom" very happily, for I found out in a few minutes
that Petralto's radiant condition was, in fact, the condition of a
bridegroom.

Of course, under the circumstances, I could not avoid feeling
congratulatory; and my affection for the handsome, loving fellow came
back so strongly that I resolved to break my late habits of seclusion,
and go to the Brevoort House and see his bride.

I acknowledge that in this decision there was some curiosity. I wondered
what rare woman had taken the beautiful Jessy Lorimer's place; and I
rather enjoyed the prospect of twitting him with his protestations of
eternal fidelity to his first love.

I did not do it. I had no opportunity. Madame Petralto Garcia was, in
fact, Jessy Lorimer Lennox. Of course I understood at once that Will
must be dead; but I did not learn the particulars until the next day,
when Petralto dropped in for a quiet smoke and chat. Not unwillingly I
shut my book and lit my cigar.

"'All's well that ends well,' my dear fellow," I said, when we had both
smoked silently for a few moments; "but I never heard of Will Lennox's
death. I hope he did not come to the Guadalupe and get shot."

Petralto shook his head and replied: "I was always sorry for that
threat. Will never meant to injure me. No. He was drowned at sea two
years ago. His yacht was caught in a storm, he ventured too near the
shore, and all on board perished."

"I did not hear of it at the time."

"Nor I either. I will tell you how I heard. About a year ago I went, as
was my frequent custom, to the little open glade in the forest where I
had first seen Jessy. As I lay dreaming on the warm soft grass I saw a
beautiful woman, clothed in black, walk slowly toward the very same
jasmine vine, and standing as of old on tip-toe, pull down a loaded
branch. Can you guess how my heart beat, how I leaped to my feet and
cried out before I knew what I was doing, 'Jessy! darling Jessy!' She
stood quite still, looking toward me. Oh, how beautiful she was! And
when at length we clasped hands, and I gazed into her eyes, I knew
without a word that my love had come to me."

"She had waited a whole year?"

"True; I liked her the better for that. After Will's death she went to
Scotland--put both herself and me out of temptation. She owed this much
to the memory of a man who had loved her as well as he was capable of
doing. But I know how happy were the steps that brought her back to the
Guadalupe, and that warm spring afternoon under the jasmine vine paid
for all. I am the happiest man in all the wide world."



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